Author: wajag

Title: Best Laid Plans 2

Feedback Address: wajag@eskimo.com

Rating: R-17

Info: sequel to Best Laid Plans (Xover HL with SG1)

Character Listing: M, D, J, OFC, SG-1 characters

Summary: The Ancients put Immortals on Earth as part of a plan to prevent the Goa'uld from taking over the Earth. Time has a way of drifting all things from their original purpose.

Disclaimer: I don't own Highlander, Stargate or a new car. I won't be making a profit off of this (or I would own Highlander, Stargate or a new car). This is a different direction from my other stories and having read the story Best Laid Plans-1 would be helpful to understanding this one.

This is an Alternate Universe sci-fi crossover between two programs that I enjoy. Please forgive in advance anything that isn't canon or technically accurate, I'm definitely ad-libbing all the science and techno-talk and changing the universe to suit my needs.

Summary:

The Ancients put Immortals on Earth as part of a plan to prevent the Goa'uld from taking over the Earth. Time has a way of drifting all things away from their original purpose.

This is a continuation of where I left off with Best Laid Plans-1. That story told how an Alien race called the Ancients had genetically engineered Immortals to act as Earth's first defense against Goa'uld invasion. Alien Watchers were sent through the Stargate with four of these Alpha Immortals. The Immortals were bred until they had an army of them. The Goa'uld were repelled but the Immortals resisted their return to the Complex they had been bred in. They escaped into the world and began to kill each other. Star Gate Command became involved when Daniel Jackson needed his friend Adam Pierson's help with a translation. Now the SGC knows more than they were looking for. Alien Watchers have been hiding on Earth to Watch the Immortals they bred. Adam is really Alpha Blue, the last remaining Immortal breeder who has been missing for centuries, and who is known to his very few friends as Methos.

Washington DC

Thomas Clayton briskly marched to his office. The thirty-six year old, immaculately groomed man burned inside with anger but none of this showed on his face. He'd long ago learned that he had to hide all emotions in order to achieve his goals. Right now, his main goal was for his Agency, the NID, to control the Stargate and therefore all traffic and communications on and off Earth.

Several years ago, he'd been working his way up the chain of command when Colonel Maybourne and the others had challenged General George Hammond for control of the Gate. He'd carefully watched what they'd done right, and what they'd done wrong. Manipulating Senators and cornering the President into making decisions in the NID's favor had been the right thing to do. Moving before they had all of their chessmen in position had been one of the wrong things to do. SGC had been able to countermove and Maybourne and the others had been defeated. Arrested or demoted, their possibility of altering the Alien's plans for Earth gone.

The NID had changed leadership several times since then, but now it was his. He would see to it that the NID regained the glory and power that it deserved. He was smarter than Maybourne and the others had been. He allowed others to underestimate him. He let them believe him to be a boring, dedicated, by the book 'Yes' man. They credited him with having no imagination or higher purpose. He smiled as he put his palm onto the I.D. scanner at his office door. Oh he had imagination and drive all right!

He'd spent the last several days sitting in on the group meetings that they'd had with one of the Aliens who'd been conducting experiments on Earth for the past ten thousand years. He'd subtly pushed and prodded the meeting members until they were demanding the Aliens turn over all data and test subjects to Earth. He frowned as he sat in his leather chair and switched on his computer. The Alien had denied them the data and equipment. He'd even denied them the names or access to the test subjects! But Thomas had made an impression on the President and Chiefs of Staff. This project belonged to Earth, despite what the repugnant little Alien had to say.

This was a perfect opportunity for the United States Government to get paid back for all of the money and resources they'd invested in the Stargate program. Thomas had agreed with Maybourne about the SGC owing the Government. They'd spent too much money not to get anything out of it but the risk and expense it took to operate the Gate. Hammond seemed to think that the Gate paid for itself in charity missions and the 'Good Will' of off world Aliens. Thomas believed that Earth was just being used as pawns by the other, more advanced Aliens they'd met using the Stargate. Keeping the Goa'uld busy and distracted while the Aliens lived comfortably in their big pieces of the Universe. Maybourne's unauthorized SG teams had secretly brought Alien technology through the Gate, justifying the validity of that plan and raising revenue for the NID. This was just another case of where the Aliens were taking what they wanted from Earth and giving nothing back.

The President had of course, finally conceded to the Alien. Claiming he had no wish to start a shouting match with the other advanced Aliens that would surely support the sneaky little gray one. Thomas had put up a false front of supporting the President but he wasn't done yet. They may have lost the argument with the Alien, but with a little more Intel and positioning of his players, the NID would be in a position to take what belonged to Earth. He was short of his goal, but it was only a matter of time before he was given command of the SGC on a silver platter.

Paris 2002

Laurus stood un-noticed on the sidewalk, looking at the Immortal on the bench several yards in front of him. Alpha Blue was picking a loaf of bread apart and tossing the crumbs to the birds crowded at his feet. Laurus was maintaining his 'human' visage, an average looking, middle aged, bald man rather than his real appearance, which was Alien, a smaller, smooth skinned, gray body with large black eyes. He'd shown a small group of Immortals, a Watcher and the members of SG-1 his true appearance only a few days ago, he knew that the rest of the humans around him would be terrified of his real appearance.

Laurus had just returned from a secret meeting in what the humans called Area 51. He'd explained to General Hammond, the President, the Chiefs of Staff, and several agency heads, what he and his people had been doing on Earth all these years. They'd been very interested in his project and insisted he turn over everything to the Government. He'd adamantly insisted that he could only turn over non-technical data and equipment. His people would insist that he not surrender technology beyond the capabilities of the Earthlings. He knew that the Council of Races would support him on this.

The Humans had been angry, arguing for hours that the project had been on Earth long enough to belong to them, like a natural resource. Humans had been used in the experiment, so they were participants and co-owners of the data and results of the experiments. Laurus could appreciate their point, but that still didn't authorize him to give them the data and equipment owned by the Ancients. Laurus knew that this argument would only stall them. He'd already recalled his field agents and secured the Complex against visitors. Luckily, they had no idea of the extent of his resources or the location of the Complex. Information he'd absolutely refused to give them.

Laurus thought back to the day he'd last seen Alpha Blue. He hadn't really known what else to do. Colonel Jack O'Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Major Samantha Carter had found Alpha Blue and were asking him questions about a transmission Laurus had sent to the Ancients long ago. Included in the discussion, was the Immortal Duncan MacLeod and the Watcher Joe Dawson. Since these humans were sure to discover the truth about Laurus and the other Asgard-Asunde that had been hiding on Earth for millennia, Laurus thought he should introduce himself and try to do some damage control. The Earth's governments weren't going to be happy that the Asgard-Asunde had been here covertly. It would be better if Star Gate Command were aware of it before the Government became involved.

Laurus had told the small group of humans and Immortals his mission here, and described to them how the project began. Alpha Blue, known to his friends as Adam Pierson, had been engineered by a technologically superior race of Aliens called the Ancients. The Ancients had created the Immortals and sent them to Earth as a weapon, a race of indestructible humans to guard and defend against Goa'uld invaders. The Ancients had designed Alpha Blue and three other Immortals to be the fathers of the race called Immortals.



The Alpha Immortals had proven the Ancient's belief in them, siring enough Immortals to defend and repel an invasion by the parasitic Alien race called the Goa'uld. After the Goa'uld defeat, Alpha Blue had been damaged in an accident where he'd permanently killed the first Immortal, receiving what was now called a Quickening. He'd escaped the Asgard-Asunde and disappeared for thousands of years. He'd shown up a few times over the centuries, just enough to unknowingly re-infuse the Immortal project with some new Immortals before he would escape and disappear again. Over the years, the other three Alpha's had been killed along with their mature offspring. Alpha Blue was the last hope for the Ancient's Immoral breeding program on Earth. The project was ready to collapse with only a handful of mature Immortals able to create more of their race. The project needed the cooperation of Alpha Blue in order to try and save the Immortal race and the weapon the Ancients had intended for Earth.

It was a shame that Alpha Blue was terrified of being detained and used for breeding, a lingering by-product of the damage he'd received when he'd taken that Quickening all those millennia ago. Laurus hoped to repair that lack of trust and try to resurrect the project. That's why he was here, silently assessing Alpha Blue before he approached the wary Immortal.

Realizing that Alpha Blue was nearly out of bread and would soon be leaving. Laurus approached the Immortal, his hands visible and open in friendship.

Methos' head jerked up in alarm when an instinct told him that someone was approaching. He hadn't felt an Immortal presence but something about the feeling was familiar. He stood in alarm as soon as he identified the Being walking towards him slowly. Even if the Alien's hands were outspread in a gesture of openness, Methos scanned around for danger. He didn't see anything that looked like a capture team but he didn't trust the Alien not to have one here.

"Please don't be alarmed Alpha Blue. I only wanted to speak with you. I assure you, I'm here alone." Laurus said, stopping to keep the Immortal from fleeing in fear.

Methos continued to watch everything around him for danger. "Now why would I trust you?"

"Why wouldn't you? We only detained you one time. As soon as we realized that it caused you harm, we changed our methods to be less stressful for you. Please, may I speak with you?" Laurus said calmly, trying to reassure the Immortal.

"So talk." Methos said without relaxing.

"I have just spoken with the humans from the Government. So far, I've been able to convince them that I can't surrender the project data to them. It's not mine to give. I've ordered my Watchers to withdraw from the field and to begin our evacuation. Without your cooperation, the project is over anyway." Laurus said sadly.

"I'm not going to cooperate. I won't breed more Immortals just so that they can kill each other."

"It doesn't have to be that way. You can stop the killing. Other than the Ancients, you may be the only one that can." Laurus said to entice the Alpha. He knew the Alpha's had been designed to lead their offspring. He hoped to appeal to this aspect of the Alpha's nature.

"Stop the killing how?" Methos said angrily. "It's been going on for thousands of years!"

"We inserted compulsions into the later generations of Immortals as they were born or detained. The compulsions told them that they couldn't fight on holy ground, could only fight one on one, and they should return to the place of the gathering. It worked for eight out of ten Immortals, the rest were hidden, like you, or were too wild to detain. We tested the compulsion out on Alpha Green. In our ignorance, we made it impossible for him to link with all of the other Immortals. We've had to insert the compulsions manually. We can't reach all of the Immortals without a mind link. We've made so many mistakes just by our ignorance. We'd lost contact with the Ancients after only a few centuries here. We had nowhere near the technological expertise that they had."

Before Alpha Blue could erupt in anger, Laurus pushed his sorrow at their mistakes aside and continued. "Because we couldn't find you when we were installing the compulsions, you weren't altered in any way. Later when we realized what we'd done to the Alpha Green, we knew better than to alter you when we detained you. You're still able to link with every Immortal on the planet. You could command and they would obey, as they were designed to."

He watched as the Immortal thought this over. He knew the Immortal wasn't ready to trust him yet, so he settled for accomplishing his goal for this conversation. "I wish I could convince you that we don't want to injure you in any way. If you need to or when you're ready, I'd like to take you to visit the Complex. Perhaps it will help you remember your past, or help you put some of the past behind you. Other than being heavily sedated, you were never treated poorly when you were in our care."

Laurus reached into his coat pocket. He moved slowly and carefully as the Immortal tensed. "Let me leave you with my card. You can contact me anytime with this number." As the wary Immortal stared at him, Laurus removed a business card and set it on the bench before stepping back. "I hope you will take me up on my offer. It will take us some time to be ready to return to our home world. I hope we will hear from you before then." Laurus nodded and walked away.

Methos watched until the Alien had walked out of sight before he picked up the card. He memorized the number and tossed the card into the trash. He didn't trust the Aliens not to have coded the card to trace his location with it. He didn't want it anywhere near him. Taking a careful look around, he headed towards Joe's for a drink and to be somewhere where he could somewhat relax. The thought of being watched by Alien Watchers and human Watchers was making him a nervous wreck!

*****

Le Blues Bar Paris

Joe slid a draft beer over to Methos and let him sit undisturbed. Joe could tell that the Immortal was doing some heavy thinking. Had been since the meeting when they'd all had their beliefs turned upside down. Joe and MacLeod had long known that their friend Methos was something special. He'd survived thousands of years in a world that had seen both terrible and wondrous changes. He'd seen and done just about everything and kept his humor and sanity despite everything he'd been through. He was the oldest living Immortal and a myth to his own kind.

No one had really known where Immortals came from, but no one would have suspected that they were the result of an Alien breeding program! The Alien Laurus, had told them that Methos was in fact, the last of the four original Immortals. That he was over ten thousand years old and one of the only fertile Immortals left. Methos had fathered a quarter of the Immortals before he'd escaped from the Alien program. So much for Immortals being sterile!

While he'd lived at the Complex, Methos had fought as a General against Alien invaders and won, using Alien technology and strategies. He'd understood and used technology more advanced than anything Earth had right now, and had forgotten all of it in a terrible accident that was the first Immortal Quickening. His accident had started the Game that killed so many Immortals then and now. Joe knew from his position as Watcher Regional Director, that there were less than eight hundred Immortals worldwide. From what Laurus had told them, there used to be tens of thousands, an army of relatively peaceful, intelligent, tame Immortals.

Joe shook his head. He'd drink too if he was Methos!

Methos sipped at his beer without tasting it. Laurus said that he was the only one capable of ending the Game. That he was the only one that could mind link with all of the Immortals. Was this something like the link he'd had with MacLeod since the double Quickening in Bordeaux? He'd taken Kronos' Quickening into himself when it became obvious that it would overwhelm the Highlander. He'd spent too many years trying to keep the Scot intact to have him overcome by another Dark Quickening!

Or was it more like an ESP version of Cassandra's Voice? He'd always been able to sway people by persuasion and being manipulative, but he'd written that off to skill and experience not to some mystic power of voice. Cassandra's Voice had never worked on him, or he'd never have lived beyond her capture. Either way, it was something that he wasn't comfortable with. He took another sip of his beer. He thought he remembered how to do the Mind Link and the compulsion command, but the control and responsibility of others was something he'd avoided for centuries.

He glanced down the bar to where he knew Joe was standing. He saw Joe quickly look down when caught staring. Joe was probably worried sick about him again. That thought made him angry instead of comforted. He'd been taking care of himself for thousands of years. Just a few years around Duncan MacLeod and everyone thought he was a doddering idiot that needed to be nursemaided. He stood, preparing to go home and out of the mothering eye of the Watcher when he felt the buzz of an Immortal presence. He discretely slipped his right hand under his trench coat and to the handle of his Ivanhoe. Recognizing MacLeod's buzz, he moved his hand back to the glass on the bar and finished off the rest of the beer. He watched as the Highlander entered the bar and stopped beside him.

"Can I get you another one?" MacLeod asked seeing that Methos had finished his beer.

"Not this time. I was just leaving." Methos said. He was still irritated about Joe having stared at him. Unreasonable he told himself, but it was something that 'he' controlled.

"Are you sure? The night is young..." MacLeod said hoping to tempt the older Immortal into staying and talking. Amanda was coming into town and Duncan wanted the other's help in keeping her out of trouble while she was in town. It would do the older Immortal good to stop thinking about his past and enjoy the company of his friends.

"I've got some things I've got to take care of." Methos said grumpily.

"Oh. Then can I make dinner for you tomorrow? I wanted to ask for your help with Amanda next week."

"Why don't you ask me again tomorrow." Methos said waving at Joe.

He hurried out of the bar before they could stop him. He was blocks away when he felt the Immortal presence. He knew right away that it wasn't MacLeod's. He slid his hand into his coat and grasped his sword. He looked around to identify the location of the other Immortal before he revealed his sword. Damn but the light was bad here! The only streetlight was on the corner nearly a block away.

A bulky looking man about Methos' height stepped out from the alley. "Are you MacLeod?" The Immortal asked.

"That depends on who's asking. Friend or Foe?" Methos said softly, not liking the idea that someone was looking for the Highlander. It was a subject that the two friends never agreed on. Duncan wanted to fight Methos' battles and Methos had been known to take the head of headhunting Immortals when they made the mistake of hunting for MacLeod. He didn't tell MacLeod this, but Joe was MacLeod's Watcher, and sometimes couldn't keep his mouth shut. Methos sighed. This was going to be a long evening despite his good intentions of shower, beer, book and bed!

"Robert Duncee is looking and we don't have friends. Are you him or not? I don't have all night."

"Then all that matters is that you've found me. Say goodbye." Methos said drawing his sword.

Duncee drew his blade and began to advance.

Methos spotted movement a block down the street. Carefully keeping his eye on Duncee, he identified the shadow as the Immortal's Watcher. Damn! He didn't want the Watchers to identify him as an Immortal. So far, he'd stood in the shadows and hadn't said his name. Something nudged at the back of his mind. With his body in a relaxed but alert defense posture, he investigated the thought.

Before he realized it, he was seeing himself in his mind's eye. He stopped and backed up in confusion. He felt the other Immortal do the same thing.

"What's going on here?" Duncee growled.

Giving into the instinct, Methos sent a thought to the other Immortal. We aren't suppose to fight. We destroy a part of ourselves every time we take a Quickening.

"What the hell!" Duncee yelled, putting his free hand to his head.

Why are you head hunting? Methos thought to him.

"It was what I was taught. There can be only one." Duncee said and stepped forward again, moving his sword back into a ready position.

Methos sent images to Duncee. Images of what he could remember of his days in the Complex, before the first Quickening. Images of the other Immortals he had known, living together in peace and enjoying each other's company. Images of the horror on all of the Immortal's faces when he had taken the first Quickening. He sent a command to stop. He heard that command vibrate in his mind. He'd done something different with that command.

Duncee froze. "Who are you?" He asked in a low voice, very afraid.

Something in Methos' mind recognized that this Immortal was one of the Red line Immortals. I knew your ancestor. He had a laugh that could bring a smile to anyone's face. He would do anything for a friend. He was a good man. He could never have imagined that we'd end up like this, killing each other for a non-existent prize.

"What else is there? It's what I was taught." Duncee said quietly, hoping that this strange Immortal could give him the answers. He'd believed the images in his head. They filled him with a sense of peace and rightness.

Methos sent more images. This time it was Immortals fighting side by side against the Goa'uld forces. He held back all thoughts of the Stargate or the Aliens. He wanted this Immortal to believe him, not cut off his head in the belief that he was crazy! We were meant to fight together against a common enemy, one that we defeated. There was an accident and we ran from each other in fear. That's when the hunting began. Immortals began to teach their fear instead of what we'd been to each other.

"How do you know?" Duncee said angrily.

Methos didn't send what he considered to be his real name to the other Immortal, but he did send the image of his power. He made it a command, or compulsion, feeling the vibration again. I am Alpha Blue and you will stop your hunting. You may only fight in self-defense.

Methos felt acceptance in the other Immortal's mind, the designed compliance to an Alpha's command engineered into his genetics. He also felt the awe and respect usually only given to a teacher, directed towards him! For good measure Methos added, Walk away rather than fight, wound rather than kill, kill only to save a life.

Duncee nodded and put away his sword. "I have places to be. Good night."

Methos stayed in the shadows as he watched the Immortal's Watcher follow his assignment. He leaned against the brick wall and let out a sigh of relief. Had Duncee really been convinced? Had it been the compulsion or the images and logic that had convinced Duncee? Methos put away his own sword and hurried back to Joe's. He suddenly wanted to talk to the Highlander after all.

*****

"You did what?" Duncan practically shouted, relieved that Joe had had the good sense to bring them both into his private office for this conversation.

"Oh for crying out loud!" Methos growled at the irritated Scot. "I don't know exactly what I did, but he put away his sword and left."

"You said his name was Robert Duncee?" Joe asked typing into his computer. Methos nodded, not taking his focus off the Highlander.

Methos had hurried back to the bar. By the way he'd rushed into the room, both men had known that something had happened. Joe had led the way into his office so they could talk in private. The Scot had been angry when he'd heard that Duncee had been looking for him and Methos had taken the challenge, even if Methos hadn't fought the other Immortal.

"It wasn't really a challenge so you can just put your Highland pride away for later. I want to try it on you."

"I'm not going to let you tromp around in my head to satisfy your curiosity!" MacLeod growled and stepped back a pace.

Methos stared at MacLeod. So much for trust. He'd put his neck on the line for this Highlander more times than not, and the damn Scot couldn't get beyond the fact that he'd been Death over two thousand years ago. MacLeod could forgive Darius for being the scourge of Rome. Even accept and love the priest like a father, but Methos would always be Death. Methos looked at Joe. Joe was looking at the Highlander, disappointment plainly showing on his face. Methos looked at the Highlander again. "You don't trust me. As long as I back down and let you play the Highland Warrior we can be friends. If I ask to reverse the roles, we're suddenly not that good of friends." Methos turned and opened the door. He parted with a cold look. "You do realize that if you couldn't trust me, I could have 'tromped' through your mind without asking permission. After all, that's what Cassandra did and you still trust her." Methos closed the door quietly as he left.

Duncan stood mouth agape, stunned at Methos' words. "Cassandra did not!"

"She did Mac. Once Cassandra worked you over, you couldn't hear anything Methos or I had to say to you. You could only hear her, and she told you he had to die. It took Kronos' and Silas' Quickenings to break the hold she had on you." Joe said quietly. "And he's right. Duncee isn't one to just back down. He's been taking a Quickening every time he runs into another Immortal. He's been head hunting for the past ten years. If Methos was able to go into his head and convince him to stop headhunting, he did Immortals a favor." Joe leaned back in his chair and stared at the Highlander. With a serious expression he finished, "and if the old man could do that to Duncee, he could have slipped into your mind before you even knew it, if you ever knew it."

*****

Methos avoided Joe and MacLeod for the rest of the week. He did his thinking at the park and spent his evenings at a nightclub across the Seine that played Techno rock music. The crowds were young and the music was awful, but Methos blended in easily. He'd added some leather pants and silk shirts to his wardrobe and easily disappeared in the crowd.

This evening, he'd entered the club and gotten a beer before threading his way through the crowd to the back. He spotted a couple of the younger Watchers he knew at a table and was invited to join them. He slid into the booth and leaned over to hear their conversation.

"Did they ever figure out who the unknown Immie was?" Greggor Hind was asking the other Watcher.

"No, Philip said he stayed in the shadows. The Immie was talking too softly to hear his voice distinctly." Alex Weiss said. "And he said it was a strange one sided conversation. Duncee did all the talking after he challenged the other Immortal thinking it was MacLeod."

"Was it MacLeod?" When Alex shook his head negatively, Greggor continued. "Wow! And Philip says Duncee just went home and has been playing house?" Greggor said unconvinced.

Alex nodded. "Strangest thing that Philip's ever seen. Here he is following that Head Hunter for ten years, then Duncee just up and calls it quits. Goes home and takes up metal working again. That's what he did before." Alex said before taking a long drink.

"So who does headquarters think it is?" Methos asked in his most convincing Adam Pierson manner.

"Not a clue. Research says it's got to be one of the old ones. They're the only ones with the power to convince an Immortal to do something they don't want to. They have the powerful Quickenings and can do some pretty strange things. None of the younger Immies can do anything like that! Look at that witch Cassandra, using her Voice on Immortals and mortals alike. They finally had to put a proximity rule on her Watchers, she kept giving them the Voice and telling them to go off and kill Methos." Alex snorted. "They kept ending up at Duncan MacLeod's. Dawson finally got pissed enough to make the Tribunal do something about it. As if Methos would be hanging out with MacLeod! MacLeod's too high profile, I think the crazy witch was just mad at him."

Methos nodded. He was crazy for hanging around the Scot!

Greggor snickered. "She's crazy. If we knew where the hell Methos was, we'd have a Watcher on him!" Alex said sarcastically. "And you'd be out of a cushy job." He said tipping his glass towards Pierson.

Alex nodded with a smile but turned the conversation back to the mysterious Immortal. "I think it's an old Immie that's come out of hiding. Like that fake Methos that was wandering around a few years ago. He was trying to convince Immortals to put down their swords and give peace a chance too."

Methos nodded. He remembered the imposter that had used his name. By the size of the imposter's Quickening, he'd been barely a decade old. He'd finally been killed by an Immortal he'd been trying to talk into giving up the Game. It had almost cost Mac's student, Richie Ryan his head. Methos took a long drink of his beer. Was that what he was trying to do now? Was he endangering Immortals like the false Methos had?

Shaking his head, Methos didn't believe that. He'd told Duncee to 'walk away rather than fight, wound rather than kill, kill only to save a life.' That wasn't the same as put down your sword and never fight. It was good to hear that Duncee was taking his words to heart. He'd have to watch the Watcher database to keep his eye on Duncee's safety.

"You don't agree Adam?" Alex asked seeing Methos' head shaking.

"I was just wondering if this could end the Game." Methos said. The two other Watchers looked thoughtful as they drank their beers.

"Do you think it was Methos?" Greggor asked. Both of the Watchers knew that Adam worked on the Methos Chronicles. "He's the oldest, and we don't know that much about him. He could be a wizard or something like that."

"His chronicles never mentioned him having that kind of power. Besides, he hasn't been seen in hundreds of years." Methos said. To redirect the conversation he asked, "Did Philip update the database? Did he put in a description of the unknown Immie?"

Alex shook his head. "I talked to Philip after it happened. He stopped by HQ before he left town with Duncee. It sure freaked him out. He'd never seen his Immie act like this before. He didn't get a very good look. Just said the Immie was tall. With the darkness and the coats they all wear, you can't tell if they're young or old, skinny or fat. All he could say was that it was a male Caucasian Immie."

Methos spent another hour with the Watchers before saying his goodnights. At home, he listened to several phone messages from MacLeod apologizing and inviting Methos for lunch or dinner, whatever was convenient. There was even one from Joe just asking Methos to stop by for a beer. Methos deleted the messages and crawled into bed.

Did he know enough about what he'd done to try it again? Was it dangerous to him or another Immortal to try without knowing what he was doing? From what he could see, it hadn't hurt Duncee any. Maybe it was time to take Laurus up on his offer. He didn't trust the Alien, but the Complex was something that he had to face. If there was only some way of ensuring that Laurus wouldn't just toss him into a cell and make him disappear. Methos thought about the respect that Laurus had shown to Daniel, Samantha and especially O'Neill. If they went with him, Laurus would have to be on his best behavior. Laurus couldn't make Methos disappear without getting into some serious trouble from people with influence and connections to the Asgard.

Methos was willing to bet that Daniel and the others would love the chance to see the Complex. Laurus had mentioned that he was refusing to give up the technology and research to the Government. Methos calculated the time difference in Colorado and decided to call Daniel the next evening.

*****

At ten the next evening, Methos left a message on Daniel's answering machine. Expecting a return call from Daniel, he kept his cell phone with him when he went to the club that evening.

He didn't see Greggor or Alex this time, but he did see Rachel Owens, Amanda's Watcher. Rachael was sitting with a couple of other women he didn't recognize. He noticed that they had Watcher tattoos, so he asked to join them at the table.

"Adam Pierson! Sit, meet Angela and Leslie from Transportation." Rachel said enthusiastically. "Adam's in research." She explained to the others.

"So Amanda's in town?" Adam asked after he shook hands with the ladies.

Rachel nodded. "Shopping. She's staying with MacLeod." With a grin at the other women she added, "I love it when she goes shopping with MacLeod. I get to follow that hunk around all day, and update my wardrobe!"

Methos just smiled indulgently and the other ladies laughed, elbowing each other.

"They were acting weird today though. MacLeod dragged Amanda around to all the parks in Paris. It almost looked like they were looking for someone. I checked and there aren't any other Immortals in town. Must be some nature thing MacLeod's into." Rachel said dismissingly.

"Where are they now?" Methos risked the question. It sounded like the Highlander was looking for him. Before his fight with the Scot, Methos had mentioned to Joe that he was spending a lot of time in the Park thinking.

"Joe Dawson's. That's why I have the night off. Can you imagine being friends with an Immortal? I can't. Just as well, Amanda's too wild for me, it's scary enough just Watching her!" Rachel said.

"I wouldn't mind Watching MacLeod or his student Ryan." The woman that had been introduced as Angela said with a suggestive smirk on her face.

"Wouldn't we all!" Leslie said. "So Adam, I know I've seen your name on travel vouchers before, what do you do in Research?"

"I work on the Methos chronicles. Not a lot of excitement there." Methos smiled.

"Wow! A legend. Do you ever think you'll find him?" Angela asked.

"Have you ever seen him? Cassandra claims he was in Bordeaux." Leslie asked.

"Rumors. But if he is found, it will be someone else that Watches him. They don't let us researchers out into the field. Old languages and manuscripts are all we're good at." Methos joked.

The three women looked at each other, and then boldly looked Adam over. He looked like he would be good for something more than research in the tight black leather pants that accented his very cute and firm butt. His silk shirt emphasized rather than disguised the broad shoulders and trim waist underneath the light fabric. Giggling, Rachel moved around the booth to sit beside him, and the other two slid closer to him, trapping him in the booth.

Methos hid his smile behind his beer. Better change the subject he thought! The three women flirted with him for another hour. Tolerating their attention with amusement, Methos' phone rang, allowing him to diplomatically end the evening. It was Daniel returning his call. Methos stepped outside the club so that he could hear.

"Daniel, I'm glad you called. You just saved me from three very bored women that had a little too much to drink tonight."

"Are you sure you want to be rescued?" Daniel laughed.

"Positive. There is another favor you could do me Daniel." Methos said.

"If it's within my power Adam, you got it." Daniel said cautiously.

Methos' voice turned serious. "Laurus stopped by to talk with me after he left your group. He invited me back to the Complex for a visit."

"He did? He refused to allow anyone from our research groups to see it." Daniel said absentmindedly. "Are you sure you're ready to go back?" Daniel asked, now worried about his friend. He remembered how upset Adam had been.

"I'm not sure, but I think I need to go anyway. That's the reason for the favor. I think there's a better chance I won't just disappear if you and O'Neill come along. You've worked with the Asgard before right?"

"We have. Jack's even on a first name basis with the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet. I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem. Just let me check with Jack and General Hammond, we'd have to get permission to go to Paris. When do you need to know?"

"I was waiting to see if you were willing, before I contacted Laurus. You get back with me, and then I'll let you know what Laurus says."

*****

Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado

Colonel O'Neill knocked on the open door to General Hammond's office. The General looked up and gestured him in. "What can I do for you Colonel?"

"I was wondering if we'd heard back from the boys in Washington about our little gray visitors."

"I have. It seems Laurus and his group has refused to turn over the data and technology from the project. Apparently Laurus contacted the Council of Races and they supported his position. Washington is still arguing behind closed doors about what we're going to do about it."

O'Neill stepped inside the office and closed the door. "Daniel tells me he got a call from Adam Pierson this morning."

"Adam is one of the Immortals isn't he?" The General asked, sitting back in his chair and giving his full attention to O'Neill.

"The last of the original four Immortals, designed by the Ancients themselves. Laurus asked Adam to visit the Complex. Adam's invited us to go along, just to keep Laurus and his friends honest."

The General nodded. "It would get us inside the Complex. Who does he want to go with him?"

O'Neill smiled. "He mentioned Daniel and myself. I think we could probably push for Carter and maybe Teal'c easily enough. I'd like to get Adam on our side Sir. His brain is supposed to be filled with all kinds of stuff the Ancients knew. You remember what kind of stuff I knew when that Ancient's library thingy zapped me? Only Adam's mind was designed to hold that kind of stuff."

General Hammond nodded. He remembered the mission well. O'Neill had looked into an Ancient's device, and his brain had been filled with the technology of the Ancients. O'Neill had been able to add more planets to their Stargate library, increase the power of the Stargate's range to outside their galaxy, and made it possible for O'Neill to travel to the Asgard home world. The only problem was, Human brains weren't able to handle the data that the Ancient's device had downloaded into O'Neill's brain. If the Asgard hadn't reversed the effects, Jack would have died. If Adam Pierson's brain had even part of what the Ancients knew, and his brain could handle the data, he was a very valuable ally. Anything that they could do to convince him that they were his friends would be a step in the right direction.

"I'll make a call. I'm sure I'll have your authorization within a few hours."

General Hammond was on the red phone before O'Neill was even down the hall. "Mr. President I think I have some good news." General Hammond started.

"I could use some George." The President said. He'd gotten pretty used to the red phone being bad news.

"Dr. Jackson's been contacted by the last of the original Immortals. He'd like SG-1 to go with him to the Complex. This could be our first step in negotiating for the Ancient's technology in the Complex." A small voice in George's mind told him not to name Pierson specifically.

"Why all of a sudden is Laurus changing his mind?" The President asked, sounding suspicious.

"Laurus didn't. He offered the invitation to the Immortal. The Immortal is requesting that SG-1 go along with him."

"Can we extend that offer to some of our scientists?" The President asked. Several people would get off his political back if he could get the Complex for the United States.

"I don't think we want to push this yet Mr. President. The Immortal trusts Dr. Jackson and SG-1. I wouldn't want to jeopardize what could be a beneficial partnership by making demands on him too soon. He very specifically told Dr. Jackson and O'Neill that he didn't trust the Government." General Hammond negotiated. He understood the importance of getting the Complex and it's technology, but Pierson's cooperation had to be voluntary or they'd have the Council of Races showing up demanding an explanation.

"I trust your judgment on this one George. What do you need from me?" The President said.

"Just your permission to send SG-1."

"You have it then. See what you can do about insuring this 'beneficial partnership' you mentioned. I think we could use all the help we can get." The President said before ending the call.

*****

Paris

Methos returned to the Techno club the next evening. After he'd gotten a beer from the bar, he headed to the back again spotting Rachel in a booth by herself. He smiled and joined her. "Where are your friends tonight?"

"They're just running late. But you'll keep me company won't you?" Rachel said sliding closer and resting a hand on his thigh. "Joe Dawson asked me about you today. What did you do to get his interest?"

Methos took Rachel's hand in his to keep it from it from continuing further up his thigh. "Dawson asked me to translate a manuscript for him. I haven't finished yet, so I haven't returned any of his calls." Methos took a drink of his beer. "What did you tell him?"

"I mentioned that we'd seen you here last night. He said to tell you to call him, if I saw you tonight." She leaned closer.

Methos stiffened as he felt an Immortal presence. Two. One of them was definitely MacLeod. Damn! Methos ducked his head and began to untangle himself from Rachel's hands. "I guess I should go home and work on his translation then." Before he could slide out of the booth he heard Rachel's surprised gasp.

"Oh my gosh! It's Amanda, and MacLeod!"

Damn! Methos looked up to see the Scot and the thief bearing down on their table. They were much too close for Methos to just slip into the crowd and escape. He stood and grabbed his coat. "Gotta go!"

"Hello Adam. We've been looking for you." MacLeod said blocking Methos' escape route. Amanda stepped up and grabbed Methos' arm and pulled him close, tucking him between her and the Highlander. "Nice look for you, I've never seen you in leather before..." She purred.

MacLeod scowled at her. "We have something we need you to see, why don't we just go and see it now?"

"I'm going to get Dawson for this!" Methos hissed at them. "I guess I'll see you later Rachel. Good night." He shouted to Rachel as he was pulled from the club by the two determined Immortals.

Outside the club he shook off their hands and glared at them. "What in the hell do you think you're doing? There are Watchers in there!" He pulled on his coat and turned to walk away.

"Where are you going?" MacLeod asked.

"Home!" Methos said over his shoulder.

MacLeod and Amanda looked at each other and hurried to catch up to the irritated Immortal. "Wait! We really want to talk to you."

Methos ignored them as he continued to walk home.

"I'm sorry about the other day. I do trust you. I'm just not comfortable with all this mind linking and stuff." MacLeod said.

Amanda added. "Joe told me you were able to make a headhunter walk away with some kind of brain washing. He says you might be able to stop the Game. I think if you can, you've got to try. Try it on me Methos."

Methos glared at her, then at MacLeod. "Can't anyone keep their big mouths shut? Aren't you afraid I'm going to scramble your brains and corrupt you to my evil ways?" He said sarcastically.

Amanda giggled. "Corrupt me? Come on Methos, at least come with me to Joe's and tell me more. Please?"

*****

Joe was watching for them. He scowled at MacLeod and Amanda and put a beer down in front of Methos. "What were you two thinking? I just got off the phone with a frantic Watcher. She was sure that you were kidnapping our head Methos Researcher! It took me nearly half an hour to convince her it was just a joke."

Methos sipped from his beer bottle, enjoying the sight of his 'kidnappers' squirming under Joe's scolding. "So why was I kidnapped?"

"We want to know more about what you did to Duncee." MacLeod said.

Before he could argue or even reply, Methos' phone rang. He answered.

"Adam, It's Daniel." A cheerful voice said.

"Daniel. Did you get an answer?" Methos said hopefully.

"The General has authorized us to go. Can we make that for all of SG-1?" Daniel asked.

"And SG-1 would be what and who?" Methos asked.

"Sorry. We label the teams that go through the Gate. SG-1 is Jack, Samantha, me, and Teal'c. You've met Samantha, and Teal'c is from Chulak. He's been with us almost since we started to use the Gate for missions."

"Chulak, that sounds familiar. Never mind, do you trust him?" Methos asked.

"With my life. He's proven himself to us more than enough times. He's strong and good with weapons, and he knows how to keep a secret" Daniel said.

"Okay. I'll give Laurus a call and set something up then. I'll let you know when and where." Methos looked away from the three people staring at him in the bar. "Thanks Daniel. I appreciate your help."

"Any time Adam. I'll wait to hear from you. Goodbye."

Methos put his phone away and turned back to his drink.

"What was that all about? What are you planning now?" MacLeod asked suspiciously.

"Not that it's any of your business but Laurus invited me to visit the Complex. I thought if Daniel and O'Neill went along, Laurus wouldn't try anything."

"I'm going too." MacLeod said determinedly. "You need someone at your back. Someone that doesn't die easily." He added when he saw the argument in Methos' eyes.

"I need someone I can trust at my back MacLeod, someone that trusts me and my judgment." Methos saw Joe look at the Highlander. Joe must have said something to the Scot, judging by the shamefaced look that appeared on MacLeod's face. "Daniel and O'Neill may have their own agenda right now, but it matches mine. They want to see that I walk out of there when I'm ready to." Methos said with his face blank. He didn't want to show how much the Highlander's words had hurt and disappointed him.

"I said I was sorry Methos. I do trust you, and I want to make sure Laurus and his group let you walk out of there. Let me go with you." Duncan implored.

"I'll think about it MacLeod." Methos said, not convinced.

"What are you guys talking about? What's the Complex? Who are Daniel and Jack and Laurus? Maybe you need a master locksmith along too?" Amanda asked.

Joe and MacLeod looked at Methos. "It's your story Methos." Joe said.

"Can we do this in your office Joe?" Methos asked. If Amanda was willing to let him try a mind link on her, she deserved to hear why.

In the privacy of Joe's office, Methos summarized the origins of Immortals, leaving out the personal parts of what they'd learned. He also left out any mention of the Stargate. That was considered a matter of National Security.

"So you're really ten thousand years old, come from another world and can mind meld with all of the Immortals?" Amanda said amazed.

"So I'm told." Methos said suddenly needing another beer.

"And you can really make Immortal babies? You're not sterile?" Amanda continued.

"They tell me that too."

"This is pretty heavy stuff Methos. I like the idea that the Game is a lie, but... that we're from outer space?" Amanda shook her head.

"I'm from outer space. The rest of you are all from Earth. Your parents and their parents before them were all from Earth. Even the first babies were from Earth mothers."

Amanda thought for a few moments in silence, the others in the room giving her time to think. Looking up, she stared at Methos. "Can I have a baby?"

Methos shook his head sadly. He stood up and crossed the room to kneel in front of her. He took her hands in his. "The females were designed to be sterile. Only males over two thousand years old are fertile. And we can only impregnate a woman that's been altered."

"I always wanted a baby, that's why I took in and trained Kenny. He was the closest I could get to a child of my own." Amanda said softly, starting to cry.

Methos wrapped his arms around her. "I know it isn't fair. I'd wondered what it would be like to have a child of my own too, before I found out that I was just a tool to make an army of Immortals."

Amanda sniffed and pulled herself together. "Well, that's a conversation for later. I want you to try and mind link with me now. Let's see if we can stop this stupid game. The rest we can figure out later."

"Link with me too. We already have a link, let's see if we can do more with it." Duncan said.

For now, Methos was willing to let MacLeod's anti-trust issues slide. Methos nodded. "Why don't I try to link with Amanda first? Then if it works, I'll try and link with you Duncan." Duncan nodded. "Since I already know your buzz, why don't you go out into the bar? I'll have to be able to link without seeing the other Immortals, so we'll test that. You just wait there and I'll try and reach you from here."

Duncan nodded and left the room. Joe leaned forward in interest. This was going to be another first for the chronicles!

Methos returned to his chair and closed his eyes to focus his mind. Taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes and looked into Amanda's eyes. Once he had made up his mind what he wanted to do, the instinct in the back of his mind kicked in.

Amanda?

The surprised look on her face told Methos that Amanda had heard him.

I guess you can hear me. Methos sent warm thoughts to Amanda.

"I can!" She said smiling.

Now I need to send you something so you can confirm this is working. Why don't you kick off your shoes and pat Joe on the shoulder.

Amanda smiled at Methos before kicking off her shoes and leaning over to pat Joe's shoulder. "I can hear you loud and clear!" She said excited.

"At least someone can." Joe grumbled. Sometimes it wasn't any fun to just be the Watcher.

I'm going to try a compulsion now Amanda. Do you trust me?

"I trust you. Go ahead." Amanda said.

Methos had heard Joe's comment and smiled. "Joe why don't you write down an instruction and give it to me. I'm going to 'tell' Amanda to do it. Don't let her see it."

Joe smiled. With a grin he wrote a note on a piece of paper and handed it to Methos.

Methos smiled as he read the paper. Looking back at Amanda, Methos sent the compulsion. He felt the mental command as a vibration in his mind, just as he had with Duncee.

Amanda nodded and stood. She slipped on one of Joe's old frumpy sweaters that was hanging on the back of the office door and sat down, pulling her skirt demurely down around her thighs.

Joe and Methos grinned. "What?" Amanda asked.

"Now I'll try linking up with MacLeod. Do you want to stay in the link Amanda?" Methos asked her.

"Be in Duncan's head? Oh Yes!" Amanda laughed.

Methos concentrated on Mac's presence. He could feel it in the room behind him. In an instant he felt Mac's mental touch. Mac?

Methos? I can hear you like we're on the phone!

Methos looked at Amanda. She shook her head.

Can you feel Amanda? Methos asked Duncan. He didn't remember the link being two-way unless he wished it. When they had fought the Goa'uld, the Alphas had sent their thoughts wherever they wanted. When they wanted to hear something back, they thought of that person and then they could hear them. The other Immortals had reported later that they only heard something when they were talking with the Alphas. The rest of the time they were undisturbed.

No. Is that bad? MacLeod asked.

No, You should only hear me until I link you two. Hold on... Methos looked at Amanda and 'pulled' her to MacLeod's link. Now Amanda, think something to Duncan.

Duncan? Can we go to Giovanni's after this? I'm starving! Amanda thought.

Methos smiled.

Amanda? Is that you? Giovanni's it is. Duncan thought.

Methos closed the link with Amanda and Duncan. Duncan can you feel her now?

No. She's gone now. That's amazing! We should try this with someone that's further away too.

Who do we know that's far enough away that would be willing to let me mind link? Methos thought sending his thoughts to both Duncan and Amanda.

Nick's in Toronto. I could call him. Amanda thought.

Maybe Conner, he's in Scotland right now. Or Richie, he's on the East Coast. Duncan thought.

Why don't you ask them? Careful what you say to them. We don't want them to talk about this with anyone but us and I certainly don't want them coming after my head! Methos thought adamantly. Why don't we make it a conference call?

When he heard their confirmations, Methos responded, That's enough for now, why don't you come back in Duncan. Then we can go eat! before ending the links.

Amanda laughed. "I don't feel any different. I even feel like I got a mental hug." She smiled at Duncan when he walked in the room. He was smiling too.

Joe looked at each of the Immortals. "So? Did it work?"

"It did. How do you feel Duncan?" Methos asked.

"I feel fine. Are you ready to eat? Joe do you want to join us at Giovanni's for dinner. Amanda's starved."

*****

Thomas stood in the shadows as he listened to his source's information. So the Alien was going to let SG-1 into the Complex? Thomas smiled, he'd make sure that he had several agents follow SG-1. With luck, he'd get several things that he wanted from this, the identity of one of the Immortals and the location of the Complex!

*****

Methos' conversation with Laurus went well. Laurus was willing to allow a small group to join them if it would calm Alpha Blue. He knew they couldn't be followed or traced by the Human's technology. They set the meeting out several days so that the group coming from the United States would have time to arrive and rest.

Methos had agreed to let Joe, MacLeod and Amanda come along after they had done the mind link experiment. MacLeod would also be a backup in case of a fight. Amanda could check out the security, and if something went wrong perhaps be the difference in their escaping or not. Joe was already aware of the background and Methos felt that Joe's staunch support had earned the Watcher a place in the expedition.

Methos went to the Luxemburg Gardens an hour before Laurus was scheduled to arrive. MacLeod, Amanda and Joe soon joined him. Methos stood with his hands in his pockets and leaned against a statue. He'd had to put his hands into his pockets to hide the fact that they were shaking. He was able to keep his face blank, but his hands were refusing to cooperate.

Joe stared at the oldest Immortal. It was a very brave thing he was doing. Joe felt honored to be in this group, it was reflective of Methos' trust in him that he'd been included. He would make sure the Immortal got out of the Complex safe if he had to take on the entire Alien population himself! By the blank look on the Immortal's face, he was struggling with some powerful demons. Worry over his fear of the Aliens, worry that he'd be held prisoner, and probably the fear that he was dragging his friends into danger with him. The oldest Immortal had proven to Joe that MacLeod wasn't the only Immortal Boy Scout.

He saw Methos straighten and step away from the statue, his hands coming out of his pockets and one hand slipping under his coat. Joe looked down the path to see four people, three that he recognized.

Methos felt an unpleasant stirring in the pit of his stomach. He looked around and saw Daniel and the others walking towards them. When he saw the fourth member of that group, he suddenly identified that unpleasant feeling and reached for his sword. He pulled his sword out and stepped to intercept the group. "Your friend is Jaffa!"

Daniel and Jack both stepped in front of the Jaffa as a shield. "Sorry Adam. I didn't mention that." Daniel said feeling embarrassed at forgetting. "Teal'c is with us, has been for years. He turned away from Apophis, he's no danger to you or your friends."

"Easy Pierson." Jack said calmly with his hands out in a soothing gesture.

"You recognized that Teal'c was Jaffa from where you were?" Samantha said, the scientist in her jumping on the relevant facts.

Jack looked at Samantha intently. He knew Samantha could feel the presence of Goa'uld because she'd had one in her for a short period of time. He very much wanted to hear Adam's answer.

Methos nodded and stepped forward. He dropped the tip of his sword but didn't put it away. He stepped closer to the Jaffa. When Daniel and Jack stepped to interfere, the Jaffa put his hands on their shoulders. "Hold." He commanded his friends. He stepped up to the armed Immortal calmly.

Methos stared into the eyes of the Jaffa. He saw images of the Jaffa fighting along side Jack and the others. He could feel the determination the Jaffa felt to stop the Goa'uld. He relaxed his stance and stepped back. When he was at a safe distance, he slid his sword into its scabbard and stepped closer to the Jaffa, offering his hand in a warrior's grasp. "I greet you as a friend also."

"Excellent Alpha Blue!" A voice said from behind them.

All of them turned to see Laurus in his Human form. "I had wondered if that aspect of your design had been damaged as well. I am pleased to see that it was not." Laurus said pleased.

"You knew he was Jaffa?" Jack asked the Alien.

Laurus nodded. "I've been following the activities of the SGC for some time. As soon as Alpha Blue said that he'd invited SG-1 along, I thought it offered an excellent opportunity for me to see the Immortal's reactions to a Jaffa. The Alphas were designed to recognize many Alien forms. The Betas had it too. Sadly, the later generations lost that instinct." He looked over to MacLeod and Amanda. "Am I right that you felt nothing unusual when the Jaffa approached?"

MacLeod and Amanda looked at each other and shook their heads. MacLeod glared over at the little Alien. He didn't like the innuendo that he was defective!

"Enough of the games Laurus. Let's get this show on the road shall we?" Jack said calmly. He looked over to Samantha and raised an eyebrow. Pierson could recognize Goa'uld and Jaffa, another plus.

Laurus directed them a short distance away to a ramp that went from the ground up into the air about five feet. As Laurus walked up the ramp, the others followed. As they stepped to the top of the ramp, they found themselves in an air lock chamber. Laurus stepped through a door he had opened at the other side of the air lock and they found themselves in a small cargo area of a ship. The members of SG-1 recognized naquada, as the Alien metal the craft was made of. "We're shielded right?" Jack asked. He knew that no one would be able to see or trace them as long as the craft was shielded.

Laurus nodded. "Just a precaution I assure you. As you know, the natives of this planet don't know about Aliens yet." He turned and led them to the cockpit area and offered them seats. Jack took a place in the co-pilot's chair when Pierson sat down by a window in the back. MacLeod placed himself next to Methos, Amanda and Joe in front of them. Daniel and Samantha sat in the chairs in front of Joe and Amanda. Teal'c sat nearest to Jack and Laurus.

"It will be a short flight to the Complex. Is everyone comfortable?" Laurus asked.

"This is a nice little ship you have here. Any chance I could get one?" Jack asked as he looked over the controls.

Laurus looked at him and said nothing. "I'd even take a second hand one. Don't even care if it has lots of mileage on it." Jack said with a mischievous smile.

Within minutes they were airborne. Everyone looked out the side and front windows as they traveled. The craft went up into the higher atmosphere and then descended. The ship lowered itself into a domed docking bay and Laurus shut down the engines.

"Are we there yet?" Jack asked with a smirk. He was actually irritated that the trip had been so fast. He hadn't been able to get any bearings to even guess at a location of the Complex. Laurus sure wasn't making this easy!

They followed Laurus out of the ship and found themselves in a large hanger bay. There looked to be nearly one hundred of the little shuttles docked in the bay. Methos had seen the expression on Jack's face as they disembarked from the shuttle. He positioned himself so that he was standing beside Jack. Quietly he whispered, "Don't worry, I know where we are. I've always known the location of the Complex even if I didn't know why I avoided the area like the plague." With a smirk he wandered off.

Jack scowled at the sauntering Immortal. Smart Ass! He hurried to catch up to the Immortal and whispered to him. "What else do you remember that you're not mentioning?"

Methos looked at Jack with his face the picture of innocence. "Oh lots of things now that I'm here. We can compare notes when we get back." Methos nodded knowingly to O'Neill.

Jack smiled. It looked like Pierson had chosen sides and wanted to be on their team after all.

Methos let MacLeod lead the group with Laurus. He saw Amanda trailing the group, carefully taking mental notes of where the doors and security systems seemed to be. Samantha and Daniel followed MacLeod with the rest in the middle. Methos hadn't realized that his breathing had increased and he'd gotten paler until he heard Jack say quietly beside him, "I won't let anything happen. Thor promised we would be safe."

"Thor?" Methos asked, hoping to distract himself long enough to get his nervousness under control again.

"Yeah, Thor is the Asgard representative for the Council of Races. I talked to him before we left home."

Methos nodded. As Laurus led them on a tour of the facility, Methos noticed a light bar illuminate and data begin to scroll on monitors as MacLeod passed through the doorways. The first time he held back, pretending to look at a directory while he waited for Amanda to pass through the door. As she did, another set of lights illuminated and another set of data began to scroll. He noted that it didn't react to any of the mortals or the Jaffa.

Methos saw that Jack had remained with him. Methos watched the monitor as he walked through, no lights or data. He caught Jack's eyes, knowing that the mortal had noticed it too. After they'd passed through the third door like this, Methos called to Laurus. Laurus immediately stopped and moved to face the Immortal.

"You have a question Alpha Blue?" Laurus asked. The others gathered around in curiosity.

"Why are the monitors reacting to MacLeod and Amanda?" Methos asked.

MacLeod and Amanda looked over to the monitor Methos had indicated. Amanda had noticed but assumed the monitors were motion sensors, she hadn't noticed that they were only tracking two objects.

"MacLeod and Amanda both had locators installed as infants. The computer is tracking them."

"And mine?" Methos asked.

"Yours was disabled. The computer doesn't recognize you unless we request a search on brainwaves. Let me show you." Laurus led them into the control room. He'd planned for this to be their next stop anyway.

Laurus stepped up to a sensor plate next to a kind of keyboard. He put his hand on it, and it glowed for just a second then went off. Laurus stepped to the side. "If one of your friends would be willing..." Both MacLeod and Amanda looked nervous. "The computer will only identify them and bring up their files." Laurus assured them.

Ever the Boy Scout, MacLeod took a deep breath and stepped to the plate. When his hand was on the plate, it glowed and seconds later data appeared on all the monitors. The picture of an infant appeared.

"Your baby picture." Laurus said. MacLeod looked at it in amazement. Amanda giggled. Laurus spoke a word in his Alien language and the picture changed to a beautiful, dark haired woman with a welcoming smile. "Your birth mother. You are of the Green line, would you like to see your Alpha sire?"

MacLeod nodded and asked, "Can you show me each parent going back to him?"

Laurus spoke again and the monitor displayed a family tree. "Just touch the symbol and the image will be displayed."

They all watched as Duncan viewed his family. "My turn!" Amanda said, stepping up to the sensor plate. MacLeod stepped back as she put her hand on the plate. After a second, a red haired woman's picture appeared on screen. Amanda smiled. "She's beautiful."

Methos stepped up to the main monitor displaying Amanda's family tree and looked at it closely. When everyone looked at him, he smiled and tapped the Alpha symbol. Amanda gasped when a picture of Methos appeared.

On the screen his face looked young and relaxed, his hair just a little longer than he wore it now. He was smiling, not the grin that showed his dimples instead, it was one of his amused smiles, his intelligence clearly showing in his eyes. "You're one of my great, grand daughters Amanda." Methos said.



"Fourth generation actually," Laurus said.

Amanda put her hand on his arm and smiled. "I knew there was something about you I liked."

"May I?" Methos asked as he indicated the sensor plate. Amanda stepped back and Methos touched the plate. No one was prepared for the intense light that came from the sensor plate, including Laurus. When Methos grimaced and squeezed his eyes shut in pain, MacLeod stepped forward to pull him from the plate. A blue field surrounded Methos before MacLeod could him. Instead MacLeod grabbed Laurus. "What the hell is this?" He shouted at the Alien.

"I don't know! It's never done that before!" Laurus said urgently.

Samantha stepped forward and brushed lightly at the blue light. "It looks like some kind of force field. What's the computer doing?" She asked, pointing to the data racing on the monitors.

Laurus looked at it closer. "It appears to be downloading data."

Methos stood rigidly, trapped in the beam of light. He felt pain as data was dumped into his brain. His panic calmed as the data began to file itself into the portions of his brain where it thought it belonged. He remembered feeling this once before. When he'd been with the Ancients, before they'd come through the StarGate. Suddenly the light released him and he collapsed to the floor.

MacLeod and Amanda reached him first. Mac got behind Methos and pulled him against his chest, acting as a backrest. Amanda took his pale and shaking hands into her own. "Are you alright?"

Methos nodded. "Just give me a second." He rubbed his eyes and took several deep breaths.

"What happened?" Jack asked quietly. If Laurus had hurt Pierson, Jack was prepared to drag his little Alien butt back to the Asgard, plenty the worse for the wear!

"It's not Laurus' fault. The computer recognized me. As soon as it noticed gaps in my memory, it felt compelled to fill the voids. A little safeguard of the Ancients." Methos looked over at the quietly standing Laurus. "I'll bet they never mentioned that to you."

Laurus shook his head NO. "Do you mean we could have repaired the damage to your mind if we'd had you log into the database?"

Methos nodded, still rubbing his temple.

"I'm very sorry Alpha Blue. If we'd only known, we could have avoided so much." Laurus said.

"You couldn't have known. It was keyed to only respond to the Alphas. I didn't know it was there either. Help me up." He said to MacLeod.

When he was standing again, he hesitated for only a second before he touched the sensor plate again. Data began to scroll across the monitors. Methos read the data and stopped when he saw what he wanted. "My offspring. Blue indicates still living. He nodded towards the screens. Everyone looked. With a thought, Methos had the screen translate the data into English. While the screens distracted everyone, he sent more mental commands into the computer.

"Darius? Darius was one of your grandchildren?" MacLeod asked in confusion.

"Apparently. Along with Marcus." Methos chuckled as he expanded the search to all living Immortals. Their names appeared in the colors of their lines. He smiled when he noticed that over half of them were blue. He looked at Laurus.

Laurus nodded. "Your bloodline has proven exceptionally versatile at longevity. The other lines are down to one offspring every ten years if we're lucky. Your line was resurrected when we found you in the early part of the first century."

"I'm glad that Rebecca was one of the Yellow line." Methos' eyes had also picked out Cassandra's name. He was immensely satisfied that she was not one of his bloodline!

Duncan looked confused but Amanda chuckled. "Good thing, you two were embarrassing!"

Methos smiled while the others read the screens. He continued to mentally command and manipulate the computer. Something caught his attention on the monitor and he sent a command. An image appeared of him during that detention. He was curled in a fetal position and rocking himself back and forth.

Laurus said quietly. "You were very traumatized after we detained you. Our head physician thought it best if we kept you sedated. We only revived you to breed."

Methos cut the image and shifted to the next. It showed him dressed as a merchant in the eleven hundreds. He was standing outside an Inn talking with a man, another merchant Methos vaguely remembered.

"When we identified you by your brain waves, we remembered the trauma you'd experienced before. We sent the altered females to you as barmaids."

Methos nodded. "I left when I noticed that they only stayed a month to be replaced by a new one."

"We wondered if you'd become suspicious." Laurus said.

"That and the Watchers that were everywhere in the village."

Joe looked at Methos. He smiled when Methos did. That would probably be as close as the old man would ever get to admitting when he'd first discovered Joe's branch of the Watchers.

Methos changed the screens again. His merchant image was replaced by one of him in a Lord's outfit. "The fourteen hundreds." Methos said. The image showed he and Rebecca kissing passionately on the walls of her keep.

"Oh." Duncan said. Now he understood why Methos had been glad that Rebecca was from the Yellow line. "I didn't know you knew Rebecca that well." He said teasingly.

"We were very disappointed that we couldn't interest you in the altered maid we sent. Another lost opportunity to recover your bloodlines."

"Rebecca was more than enough." Methos said with a grin. He winked at a laughing Amanda.

He shifted the image to the next. It was around the Eighteen hundreds when he'd been posing as a Watcher. Joe noticed the tattoo on his wrist in the image. "You were a Watcher then?"

"One of several times." Methos said.

"We encouraged you to join. We couldn't keep track of you and joining the Watchers kept you in one spot for longer periods. We'd gotten smarter about how often we sent altered females your way." Laurus said with a hint of smug satisfaction.

"About those altered females." Duncan said, his suspicions starting to rise. "Were they forced to participate in your breeding program against their will?"

Laurus looked at the group, mouth agape. "Good gracious no! We recruited them. They were all willing participants. They were given the choice of a substantial payment in a manner of their choice, or a place in our community. If they decided to return to their homes afterwards, we blocked their memories of us. Most of the women remained and had multiple children. Our only insistence was that it was different lines. Our knowledge of medicine made the childbirth comfortable and safe, and until the Immortals left the Complex, the women raised their own offspring."

"They were well treated. We have one of them here now, would you like to speak to her?"

At the nods of the group they headed towards a large living area. "Sadly we only have one infant in the nursery. It's a red line. The mature red line male is the only one that seems willing to breed. It took over a year to get a pregnancy from the joining." Laurus said with a meaningful look at the Alpha Blue.

As they walked into a nursery, they saw a blonde woman lovingly rocking an infant. She looked up and smiled at Laurus. "She's just gone to sleep." She turned her smile towards the others in the group. "Hello. My name is Linda."

Amanda walked over to the mother and child and knelt. She nodded to the others. She could feel the pre-immortal buzz of the child. "Hello Linda. My name is Amanda. Who's this pretty little angel?"

"This is Allison. I named her after my grandmother. She's nearly ready to go to her adoptive family. I'll miss her but she'll be fine."

"You're giving her up?" Amanda said shocked.

Linda nodded. "Actually, I'm letting her go. I'd been injured in a car accident when Laurus' group contacted me. It killed both of my parents and damaged my heart. I was dying and depressed and had no one to turn to. Laurus offered me a trade. I have this child, give her up for adoption and they would fix my heart. I can still have children, something I wouldn't have been able to do without Laurus' help. Laurus said that I could even receive updates on her if I want. I've picked her family so I know she'll be in good hands."

Amanda looked at Laurus. He nodded. "You can confirm that in the database."

Laurus looked over at the Alpha Blue. He'd gone as white as a sheet. MacLeod and Joe noticed at the same time and moved to his side. Laurus opened the door and everyone left the nursery.

"Alexa?" Joe asked Methos.

"I could have saved her if I'd known." He was very shook up. "She could have had our children!"

Joe looked over at Laurus, who barely nodded. Joe felt tears in his own eyes.

Laurus continued to lead them around the Complex, showing them the rest of the living areas, the tracking areas and back to the docking area. After he had flown them back to the park he stood beside Methos as the others stepped away to give them a moment of privacy.

"I understand a little better now Laurus. I still can't say I agree, but my fears are under control." Methos said.

"I'm glad. I felt very badly for having caused you pain and suffering in my ignorance. As long as we're here, you are welcome to return any time you wish."

"What does it take to alter a female? Can you alter an Immortal female?" Methos asked, thinking about Amanda.

"Sadly we can't. We don't have the technology to alter an Immortal female. The Ancients were very firm about that. For a mortal female, we slightly alter her hormones and stall her normal fertile cycle. The process is reversible, so later, if she wants to have children with a mortal man she can. We have several volunteer females available now if you're interested. If your line daughter will accept a surrogate." Laurus said having noticed Amanda's wistful look when she had seen the baby in the nursery. He knew that Alpha Blue was the only one who could give her a semblance of what she wanted by his impregnating an altered female.

"Your children are Beta offspring. That means the child would be born Immortal and mature normally. When it reaches full maturity, it stops aging. Your line daughter could have the child immediately, with no risk of it becoming Immortal too soon."

Methos nodded and looked to where Amanda and MacLeod were standing with the others. "I'll think about it."

*****

"What do you mean you lost them?" Thomas growled into his cell phone.

"We followed them to a park where they met up with several other people. They walked up a ramp and disappeared, probably some of that Alien technology they're hiding. We had people waiting in several places for them when they came back. We were able to get the identities of everyone but the Alien, he didn't come back with the group." The voice said on the phone.

"The Immortal?" Thomas asked hoping to get something from this failed effort.

"Oh yes, Adam Pierson. His data packet as well as the information on the others is on its way to you via special courier. He's the one we'll want." The voice said smugly.

"Well done. Keep people on the others in Paris. I want you to come back with SG-1. Check in with me as soon as you arrive." Thomas said. He hung up the phone and leaned his chair back. His mind altered and refined new scenarios to his master plan with the data he'd just received.

*****

"I'm going to tell the Watchers that I've found Methos." Methos said causing Joe to choke on his coffee.

"You're what? Are you out of your mind?" Joe said, wiping up the coffee he'd spilled on the bar countertop.

"I'm going to tell the Tribunal that I've spoken with 'Methos' and he wants to stop the Game. If I make it seem like I'm acting as the go-between for 'Methos' and the Watchers, I can warn them that something is going to happen with their Immortals. I want them to be alert for danger in case I can't do this."

"You don't want to tell them that you're Methos?"

"Are you out of your mind? I want them to be aware of danger, not put myself into danger!" Methos said.

"Well that's a relief. For a minute there, I thought you'd gone out of your mind! What are you going to tell them?" Joe said with a sigh of relief that relaxed into a smile.

Methos sipped his beer. "I'll tell them that I tracked down 'Methos' in secret. I'll disappear for a few days and let them believe I was actually with 'Methos'. I'll tell them that he thinks he can end the Game but doesn't want anyone hurt if something goes wrong."

"What if they want to meet with Methos, or they don't want him to do anything?"

"I'll just say I'm sworn to secrecy. Before he would reveal himself to me 'Methos' insisted on my keeping his secret. As to them not wanting me to do anything, the Watchers don't get a voice in this Joe. It's not their heads that are at risk."

"What proof can you offer to them so they'll believe you?" Joe asked curious. Methos' plan might work. He wanted to keep the Watchers safe too.

"There was a letter from Methos to one of the 18th century Tribunal officers. It's been locked away for centuries and only the Tribunal and Methos know what it says. I can tell them that 'Methos' told me what it said."

"So? What does it say?" Joe said, suddenly curious.

Methos grinned. "I wrote to one of the Tribunal officers, Sir Archibald Hall, asking for a particular Watcher to be assigned as head researcher on my chronicles. I told them that the guy doing it couldn't file a report to save his life. I wanted someone in charge that knew what he was doing. I figured if they were going to do it, they might as well do it right."

Joe stared at Methos in shock. "You're a piece of work! I'll bet that went over well."

Methos chuckled. "They took my advice. They didn't like the idea that I knew about them, but since they couldn't figure out who I'd been or when I'd met my chronicler, they couldn't really do anything about it. They kept it a secret with onlyy Tribunal officers having access to the letter. Even as Adam Pierson I was never told about it."

*****

Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado

General Hammond looked at each of the members of SG-1 sitting around the conference table. "So you all agree that Pierson is willing to work with us?"

Each of the SG-1 team members around the table nodded.

"We still have to be careful in how we approach him. He's suspicious of the Government, but very worried about the Goa'uld. He agrees that they're still a threat." Daniel said.

"Daniel's right. Pierson was pretty spooked about being held captive. He had to work hard not to hyperventilate when we first got to the Complex, courtesy of the Asgard-Asunde." Jack said.

Samantha added. "If he even thinks that he might be detained, he's likely to just disappear on us. He knows too much about the Ancients and the Goa'uld for us to risk that."

"I also believe Adam Pierson would be an asset in our fight against the Goa'uld." Teal'c said stoically.

"And after that blue light thingy at the Complex, he's got even more data from the Ancients." Jack commented. Man was he glad it was Pierson that got the Ancients data and not him again. Pierson recovered very fast from that zap thingy. "He told me that he'd managed to put a backdoor into the computer so he could try and access the database on his own computer."

Samantha looked at Jack in surprise. "He did? That's great! If we could get him to access the Complex computer from here, he could download anything they have!"

Jack nodded. "If he's willing to come here. Like Daniel said, he doesn't trust the Government. After what some of those guys in suits wanted to do to Teal'c, I can understand his hesitations. He'd have more to lose; they could only kill Teal'c or his symbiot once. They could do just about any testing on Pierson and he'd live through it. Having a living, breathing Ancient's database has got to be worth more against the Goa'uld than any experiments they set their tiny little minds to."

Continuing a thought, Jack said, "Pierson may be a scholar, but he's got a warrior's heart. He's got brains and a survival instinct that's allowed him to survive thousands of years in a violent world. We need to be prepared to offer him some promises and a lot of freedom. He's holding an unbeatable hand General."

The others around the table nodded and looked to General Hammond. "I agree with your recommendations and I'll be talking to the President after this. It's in our best interest to see if we can negotiate a deal with Pierson."

After adjourning the meeting, General Hammond made arrangements and left the SGC within the hour. Several hours later he was seated in the Oval office and talking to the President.

"So this Immortal is willing to join us?" The President asked as he sat back on the couch across from George and sipped at his coffee.

"He's willing to help us, but SG-1 says that he's going to be asking for some concessions, I agree with them. This Immortals got everything to lose and is under no obligation to help us." George said, watching the President's eyes for his reaction.

"The hell he doesn't! It's his patriotic duty!" The President shouted leaning forward and putting the coffee cup down.

"I'm afraid it isn't Mr. President. He isn't a citizen. He's visited the United States several times, practically calls it home for six months of the year, but he doesn't have to."

"He does if he wants a chance in hell of ever coming back here!" The President said angry.

"I'm sure you don't mean that Mr. President. He's willing to help us and it's important that his help is completely voluntary. We don't want to have the Council of Races take an interest in this. If they want to stop our Immortal from sharing information, they're in a good strategic position to prevent it." George placated.

"Of course you're right George. I just hate the idea of being held hostage!" The President grumbled.

"I don't believe that of this Immortal at all. SG-1 trusts him and his motives. He's hesitant about helping, but is convinced that he has to for the good of Earth. He's worried about his privacy and his own freedom. He was traumatized by his time in the captivity of the Asgard-Asunde."

"Well, see what you can do George. Don't agree to anything until you talk to me. Damn I wish this were easier." The President said.

*****

Watcher HQ Outside Paris

Methos and Joe walked slowly out of the high security office area of the European Watcher's Headquarters. Waiting until they were sure of their privacy, Joe said, "I don't know Adam. I think they bought your story but you may have put yourself into danger. I think they'll have Watchers on you, in the hopes of you leading them to Methos." Joe was afraid for his friend.

Methos nodded. "After we do this, I think I'll disappear for a while. Maybe visit Daniel."

"Just watch your back there too my friend. You don't want to jump from one form of captivity to another." Joe said trying not to let his fear show. "When are you going to have 'Methos' attempt the mind link?"

"Soon. I want to think this over more before we do anything, and talk to Laurus. The mind link was part of the plan when we fought the Goa'uld, but this is a little more complicated."

The two men got into their car and drove back to Paris. They were meeting MacLeod at his barge for dinner.

As Joe suspected, several teams of Watchers followed them.

*****

Jim Wallace watched the men cross the park and sit together on a bench. With the noise from the sprinklers, he couldn't hear what they were saying. He and his teammates had been following Adam Pierson around for nearly a week now. They were told to take pictures of everyone he talked to.

Headquarters said that Pierson had found Methos and was keeping his identity a secret. What kind of a thing was that for a fellow Watcher to do? Today, Pierson was with MacLeod and Dawson where they'd met an unknown man at the park. The stranger didn't seem like anything special, middle aged and non-descript actually.

Jim clicked off a couple more pictures. He'd be surprised if the unknown man was Methos. He didn't look the type that could survive five years much less five thousand! Pierson looked more capable of self-defense than the stranger, and Pierson was the skinniest nerd that ever came out of Research! But the stranger had been the only person that Pierson had actually contacted in the time they'd been Watching him.

The small group was listening intently to what the middle-aged stranger was saying. Nodding their heads occasionally at what he said. Even MacLeod was paying attention, and that was significant. That a powerful Immortal like MacLeod would listen to this stranger with interest.

*****

Methos sat on the park bench next to Laurus, MacLeod and Joe sat down next to him.

"Thanks for coming. I want to mind link with the Immortals and try to stop the Game."

Laurus smiled. "I'm pleased to hear this. How can I help?"

Methos nodded, knowing that Laurus would be pleased. "I'd feel better about the mind link if we could see the reactions of the Immortals better. I'd like to do it from the Complex."

Laurus nodded. "I would be happy to assist you. We would be able to monitor and track the movements better than our field group." He nodded towards Dawson.

Dawson nodded acceptance back. Methos had told him more of the details of the two Watcher groups. He didn't like the way they'd been used as field agents without knowing the whole story, but he couldn't really complain. Secret Organizations always had secrets within secrets.

"When would you like to begin?" Laurus asked.

"In two days. I have some things I have to take care of." Methos said. He needed to decide what he was going to say and what he was going to command.

*****

Nervously Methos lay down on the medical examination bed in the Complex's Infirmary. Laurus and the Complex's Doctor stood on one side of the bed, while MacLeod, Joe and Amanda stood on the other side. Laurus had convinced Methos that if he lay down, they could monitor his vital signs while he was in the mind link. Laurus had gone on to say that the last time Methos had done a mind link of this kind; he'd had the three other Alphas as his support.

Methos remembered that each of the Alpha's had mind linked with their line offspring. Alpha Blue had then linked with the other Alphas and acted as the focal point. He had directed the battle against the Goa'uld as his additional programming had been in strategies and technology. This time he would be linking with the other bloodlines directly.

As he went into his meditative trance to focus his mind, everyone looked at the monitor. The monitor was mounted to the wall at the head of the bed. It had the outline of a human with different colors throughout the outline.

"Why is his image mostly yellow and orange?" Duncan asked worried that something was wrong already.

"Yellow and orange indicate stress. It should lighten to a pale blue as he reaches a meditative state." The Doctor said.

"What's that green dot?" Joe asked. Methos' image had a distinct green dot below his abdomen.

"He's fertile now." Laurus answered for the Doctor.

Joe and Duncan looked embarrassed; having easily forgotten what Methos had been designed to do. Amanda stared at the screen, only her eyes showing what was in her thoughts. Methos had vaguely told them that male Immortals were the entire reproductive process, producing the ova and the sperm, fertilizing the egg, and supplying the method of attachment to the uterus of the altered female. If the fertilized egg wasn't transferred by the Immortal, it was absorbed back into the body. The altered females were mainly just the incubators of the fetus, although some of the Mother's traits transferred to the Immortal fetus while being nourished by her body.

Laurus nodded as Methos' image shifted to a pale blue as he slipped into the trance. "He's ready now."

When Methos found his focus in the meditative trance, he started to reach out for the minds of the Immortals. He found MacLeod and Amanda first. He was slightly surprised when he touched the mind of the pre-immortal infant that they'd seen in the nursery. He'd have to alter his thinking just a little if he was linking with the pre-immortals too. They didn't know anything about the Game!

He continued to reach with his mind. He could feel his mind throbbing with the contacts he was holding. It was creating a soft humming noise in his mind. So far he'd felt no resistance or surprise. He was keeping his contact very light right now so that there was no fear or anger invoked. He would be surprised if anyone but MacLeod and Amanda even knew he was mind linking.

When he instinctively knew he had contact with everyone, he began. He'd kept the contact at a sub-conscious level, and was using his Alpha identity. The Immortals may never even know he was commanding them.

You are very relaxed. You are not afraid. I am Alpha Blue. You know me and trust me. You are going to change the way you react to violence. You will choose to walk away rather than fight your brothers and sisters. You will wound rather than kill Immortals. You will kill Immortals only in self-defense. Your brothers and sisters are not your enemy.

Quickenings are not natural to us; they injure a part of our souls. We want to live and grow stronger with life essence. We want to turn our energies into doing something with our lives. You will not feel guilty for having taken Quickenings in the past. The past is the past but you will not actively seek out the Quickenings of others.

Methos repeated his commands. He felt the vibrations in his mind. He felt the hum of the minds in his head change to a softer resonance. His instincts told him that was the compulsion working. He sent his mind out to each of the minds he had linked with. He touched each in turn with a mental hug and checked to see if he'd caused fear or anger. He felt only the soft hum of acceptance. When he'd let go of the other minds he left MacLeod and Amanda for last. He linked them together and thought, I'm done. What did you feel?

I feel like I had a mental hug but nothing feels different inside. Amanda thought.

I feel calm, like I just finished a kata. Duncan thought.

Methos released their minds. He brought himself out of his trance. He was exhausted. He opened his eyes and looked from Laurus to Joe. "I'm done. Can you check the Watchers to make sure everything stays calm?"

Joe and Laurus nodded and stepped off to talk to their respective groups. Methos looked over at Duncan and Amanda with a smile. "I guess now we just wait and see. I need to rest."

Amanda bent over and kissed Methos on the forehead. MacLeod patted him on the shoulder. He put his hand on Amanda's shoulder and together they stepped away from the bed. They'd been watching Methos for over an hour. As the time had passed, the monitors had indicated the stress he was under. They could only hope that it had worked.

Methos fell asleep as soon as his eyes closed. The Doctor checked all of his vitals, assured that the Immortal was peacefully sleeping.

*****

Several weeks passed with no reported challenges or Quickenings. The field Watchers reported their Immortals were apparently settling into a routine of calmness and peace. The project Watchers reported less movement of the Immortals.

Methos monitored both databases as he sequestered himself in his apartment.

In Watcher Headquarters, Jim Wallace's team reported their findings to the Tribunal. Their observations were deemed inconclusive as to who and where Methos was. The only stranger that couldn't be traced was the middle-aged man Pierson had met in the Park. He'd had several conversations with the stranger but the team was unable to follow or trace him after he left the park.

The Tribunal sent out a request to speak to Joe Dawson and Adam Pierson.

*****

Methos stepped into the shower and closed his eyes as the warm water hit his face. He was still tired from the events of the past few weeks. He'd recovered quickly from the mind link with the Immortals but he'd spent long hours watching the Watcher databases. He wasn't ready to relax and call the mind link a success yet. It couldn't be as easy as this!

Tomorrow he and Joe had an appointment at Watcher Headquarters. He smiled. He still wasn't going to expose 'Methos', and he'd used Laurus as his mysterious contact. It would serve the Alien right to be followed around a bit!

He thought of Amanda as he washed his hair and body. She'd called him that morning and asked to talk to him. She'd even offered to buy him lunch. He smiled. She never offered to buy lunch!

He knew what she wanted to talk about. It had been on her face, in her eyes every time she looked at him. She was going to ask him to father a child for her. Methos didn't know how he was going to answer her. He didn't feel happy about being an Immortal breeding tool. It made him feel sick to his stomach actually. He didn't know if he could do this for Amanda, feeling the way he felt.

If the Game were truly ended, then Immortals weren't in danger of killing each other. He'd be adding to the Immortal Race rather than creating possible opponents. Despite his now remembered origins, he was just a guy, not the last hope for his race.

Amanda would just have to wait until he could resolve it in his own mind.

A noise brought Methos from his thoughts. He didn't feel an Immortal presence so it wasn't Mac or Amanda and he wasn't expecting Joe. Tensing, he rinsed and stepped out of the shower, leaving the water running. He dried off and slipped into his boxer shorts. He reached for his sword and a dagger he routinely brought into the bathroom. He'd left the bathroom door open. He couldn't see anyone but there was a shadow just to the left of the door. As a distraction he shouted, "Amanda, is that you? I'll be out in just a minute."

He reached in and turned off the water. He made some shuffling noises. Quietly he removed the toilet paper from the holder. Positioning himself, he rolled the toilet paper gently out of the door. "Damn!" He said in a normal tone of voice.

Knowing that the person outside the door would look down at the rolling paper, he stepped out and slammed into the shadow. It was a man dressed in SWAT clothes. He caught the man under the chin with his shoulder knowing that he'd knocked him out. He spun to the right, towards the door of the bedroom and spotted another man. He quickly flicked his wrist and his dagger was imbedded in the man's shoulder. Not seeing any more intruders in the bedroom but sensing movement in the living room, Methos sprang into the room and did a flying leap over his couch. He rolled into a defensive position while trying to spot the cause of the noise. He spotted two more men dressed in SWAT gear. One was crouched in the kitchen, the other at the front door. He swung his sword at the man at the door who was closer. Before he could complete the swing and connect with the man, he felt a sharp pain in his back. The force of the blow pushed him over enough that his swing went wide. The man at the door swung the butt of his rifle into Methos' face.

Methos reeled back, twisting from the pain in his back and his face. Holding onto his sword he fell on his side to the floor. Before he could recover, he felt the sting of several more hits to his body. With the last of his strength, he shoved the sword under the couch. He hoped it would be inaccessible enough to be a bother to his attackers. He didn't want his head cut off with his own sword! His body shuttered in pain and he collapsed, quickly overcome by death. The man from the kitchen quietly spoke into the radio he wore. Several more men entered the apartment with their gear.

Methos was quickly lifted into a body bag and rolled into a carpet. The men from the bedroom staggered out and joined the group in the living room. The men that had entered last, stepped into coveralls silk-screened with a moving company's name. They lifted the bundle containing Methos and quickly left the building. The bundle was lifted into a van and they drove off.

The remaining men wiped the blood from the floor and left.

Amanda arrived an hour later, surprised not to feel Methos' presence when she knocked on his door. He'd told her he would be here. She looked around before letting herself in. Inside, there was the faint scent of disinfectant in the air. It wasn't like Methos to clean up his apartment just for her. She walked into the bedroom, poking her head into the bathroom. She saw a wet towel lying on the floor. The shower stall itself was still slightly damp from someone having taken a shower. A spot of white caught her attention. She crouched and looked under the bed. What was a partially unrolled tube of toilet paper doing there? She looked back in the bathroom and saw that it was missing.

Her instincts were telling her that something wasn't right. Methos had set out some clothes on the foot of his bed. The pile of clothes was missing the boxers she knew he wore. Where would Methos have gone dressed only in his boxers? She returned to the living room. A spot on the wall by the door caught her attention. A bullet hole! She turned around to look at the room closer. There was a slight discoloration in the middle of the room. When she ran her hand across it, she could feel the dampness and smell the disinfectant. As she felt the carpet her eyes spotted the edge of a shiny object under the couch. Methos' sword!

Amanda pulled the sword out from under the couch and rushed to the window. Looking out, she didn't see anything that looked unusual. Quickly she pulled her phone out of her coat and called Duncan.

"Duncan, we have trouble."

*****

Jim Wallace sipped his rapidly cooling coffee as he sat in his car outside Pierson's apartment. Since their search for Methos had not been conclusive, his team was still assigned to Watch Pierson and Dawson. Jim hadn't been more than two hours into his shift when he noticed some unusual activity.

One minute the apartment building was quiet, the next there were shadows slinking down the open-air walkway between the apartments. It wasn't anything that a normal person would have noticed but Jim was a professional Watcher. Jim watched in alarm as the shadows resolved themselves into men dressed in SWAT uniforms and carrying weapons. Jim slumped in his car so that he wouldn't be seen as a dark van quickly stopped in front of the entryway.

The men in uniforms were in Pierson's apartment in seconds. In less than five minutes, several men were jumping out of the van and rushing up the stairs. Several short minutes later, both groups of men were leaving Pierson's apartment with a bundle that looked like a rolled up carpet. Now the men were dressed in overalls proclaiming them to be Alfonse's Moving Men. The bundle was carried into the van followed by the men, and the van hurried off.

Jim had no doubts that Pierson had just been kidnapped, but by whom? Was this the work of an Immortal or Watcher hunters? Jim tried to follow the dark van but lost it within a block. These guys were professionals, but he'd known that when he'd seen the men in commando gear appear. Why would they be after Pierson? He called his supervisor when he lost the van. He was told to check to see if Pierson was still in his apartment. Before he could break in, he spotted Amanda arriving. He slipped down the back stairs and hurried back to his car. He watched Amanda moving around in the apartment. Within minutes, MacLeod's black car screeched to a stop in front of the building. A good sign that Pierson was gone.

After Amanda and MacLeod left, he called his supervisor again. He was told to wait another hour and return to Headquarters if no one else showed.

*****

Methos woke up cold and with a headache. He knew by the awful taste in his mouth that he'd been drugged after reviving from death. It must have been strong stuff, he couldn't remember reviving. He searched the room with his senses before opening his eyes. He was alone and naked in a small concrete block cell. The cell contained the cot he rested on, a sink and a toilet. He sat up slowly, his body trying to shake off the last of the drug. Someone had washed the blood off his body after they'd removed his boxers. Shivering, he wished that they'd been more thoughtful and turned up the heat in the cell! He rubbed his face before making the two shaky steps to the sink. He turned on the water and rinsed his mouth. After taking a long drink, he splashed his face.

Turning to look around his cell, he saw a mirror that ran the length of the room and the door at the end of the room had a small observation window. The mirror was obviously a two-way mirror. Glaring into it, he expected that he was being watched, probably even taped. He walked to the end of the cell and ran his fingers over the door. He hadn't expected to find a large enough gap to work with, but it was worth a look. Not finding one, he moved to the bed and pulled off the blanket. Then he went to the corner and slid down until he was sitting on the floor. Whoever had kidnapped him would still be able to see him, but they would only be able to see that he was sitting in the corner.

Wrapping the blanket around his shoulders, his arms around his bent knees for warmth, Methos dropped his forehead onto his knees and concentrated on his Quickenings' link to MacLeod.

Duncan?

Methos! What happened?

Four guys in SWAT gear are what happened. How long was I out?

It's been over twenty hours. Where are you?

No wonder my head hurts. I don't know where I am. Give me a minute... Methos sent his mind out until he felt another Immortal. He lightly linked with the Immortal for a location. Not knowing he was being linked with, the Immortal's mind supplied the information. Methos released the Immortal. I'm in the United States! New Mexico. The nearest Immortal is in Santa Fe, but I'm not sure where exactly I am. A couple hundred miles East of that I think.

We'll get there as soon as we can. Do you know who took you? "He's in New Mexico." Duncan growled to the others.

No. Why don't you contact Laurus and O'Neill? They can do some checking. When Duncan agreed, Methos sent him the phone numbers he had memorized. Got to go, someone's coming...

Methos stayed where he was and looked up as the door opened. He watched as four beefy guards stepped into the room. Three of the guards pointed pistols at him. The fourth tossed him some clothes. "Put these on." The guard commanded.

Methos caught the tossed clothes and stood slowly. Keeping a weary eye on the guards, he dressed in the loose fitting trousers and tee shirt. He slipped on the light slippers they'd brought. No chance of him being missed in these bright red clothes, Methos thought. He stood quietly looking at the guards when he'd finished. The guard that had carried the clothes reached into a satchel at his side and pulled out shackles and chains.

Methos stepped back, "That's not really necessary." He said nervously, his hands out.

"Don't give us any trouble. They go on or we dart you and drag you." The guard growled.

Methos looked at the guards. Seeing the serious, no-nonsense expression on their faces, he extended his arms. He really didn't have any other options. The guard stepped forward cautiously and snapped the cuffs on Methos' wrists. The guard knelt down, still keeping his eyes on Methos. He snapped on leg cuffs, followed by a belt around Methos' waist, which held his wrists at his waist. Prisoner transfer restraints, Methos thought. They would keep him from walking fast and prevent him from moving his arms much.

When he was restrained, two of the guards grabbed his arms and guided him out of the cell. The guard that had carried the clothes led the way, with the remaining guards following. Outside the cell, they turned to the left. Methos noted the number 3 on his cell door. Right next to his cell was another door. It was too close to be another cell so it must be the observation room for his cell. On their way down the hall, they passed several other doors that matched his cell. Methos estimated that there were a total of ten cells and observation rooms in this wing.

They moved him out of the wing and down another hall. When the scent of disinfectant came to him, his nervousness increased. He stopped and braced his feet, implying that he wasn't taking one more step. The guards roughly lifted him by his upper arms. Methos resisted by kicking as much as he could with his feet, and wiggling his body. Within a few minutes, they were manhandling him down into a chair and strapping him in. He calmed when he saw that he wasn't in an examination room or laboratory as he'd expected. Instead, he was facing several men at a conference table. He noted the mirror on the wall and knew they would be taping this.

"Why have you kidnapped me?" Methos said angrily. If they were taping this, he wanted to make it clear that he was here unwillingly. Adam Pierson was going to be acting his part carefully.

"National Security." One of the dark suited men said.

"Don't give me that! Why am I here?" Methos snapped back. He knew it had everything to do with who he was and nothing to do with National Security.

"We're just trying to protect the planet. Our reports say that you have what we need for that."

"You're not representing the planet, you're representing your own agenda. What about my human rights? You can't just kidnap me!"

"You're not human."

"Of course I'm human!" Methos said, wanting to know how much they knew.

"Humanoid perhaps, but you're actually just the result of a lab experiment. That doesn't make you human."

For this I fought the Goa'uld! Methos thought angrily. "There are many that disagree with you."

"They aren't looking after the best interests of the planet, we are."

"So said fellows like Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Amin, shall I go on?" Methos said sarcastically.

"Enough!" Said one of the other men, glaring at the man that had been arguing with Methos. "You're here because the Aliens that have been using Earth as their laboratory, refuse to give us their data and test results. You were designed to work for us, so now you will."

"No. I won't. I didn't agree to let them use me, I don't agree to let you." Methos said scathingly. He leaned back in the chair and looked away from his kidnappers. There wasn't any way these men could know all of the details of the Ancient's project. His refusal to cooperate would slow them down until MacLeod and O'Neill could find him and come up with a rescue plan. He was relying heavily on their doing that, and quickly!

"That's too bad. We were hoping for your cooperation, but not counting on it." Nodding to the lead guard, he continued, "Take him to the lab."

"I refuse to cooperate!" Methos shouted and resisted for appearances sake. He knew any samples they got wouldn't do them any good.

Tired of his resistance, the Doctors had Methos drugged. While he was in a dazed stupor, tests were done and samples were taken. He was returned to his cell at the end of the session. This continued for longer than he could keep track of. Since they kept him drugged and never turned out the lights in his cell, he quickly lost track of the passage of time and with his mind clouded, he couldn't communicate with MacLeod. He knew his captors didn't know anything about his ability to talk to other Immortals since no outside people had been included in that experiment.

The days passed in a blur. One day, Methos was taken to the conference room instead of the lab. He was strapped into the chair again and given an injection. He felt it burning through his veins. He stupidly watched men in lab coats come into the room and sit down.

"Is he ready?" The man at the end asked. At the guard's nod, he continued. "There's nothing in your ejaculate. How do you reproduce?"

Methos snickered. "Sex." It seemed pretty obvious to him!

The Doctor rolled his eyes, irritated. "Where is the sperm?"

"In me." Methos snickered again. Picturing in his mind a cartoon film he'd seen about reproduction. His eyes followed the little cartoon bees flying around the room.

"And the ovum?"

"In me." Now there were cartoon flowers covering the floor of the room.

Not getting anywhere the Doctor asked more. "And where is the egg fertilized?"

"In me." He sneezed as the bees began dusting the flowers with imagined pollens. What was this shit they'd given him?

"How is it fertilized?"

Methos spouted out the technical answer in the language of the Ancients. After all, that's how he'd learned it, from the data dump of the Complex computer.

"Now tell me that in English."

"Don't know it in English." Methos snickered. "It doesn't translate into English words. I know it in the Asgard-Asunde language too." He offered. The Ancients used technology and techniques outside of the understanding of Earthlings, there were no words to translate it to.

Taking another route, the Doctor asked, "How does the fertilized egg get into the female?"

Methos laughed. "Sex!" Isn't this where they'd started this conversation? And he was the one on drugs!

"There was nothing in your ejaculate!" The other Doctors looked at him. This was getting nowhere.

"Course not, the ejaculate is just the adhesive." Methos' thoughts drifted. He began to stare at the ceiling, the dots in the ceiling tiles looked like constellations he remembered from somewhere.

"I don't think this is getting us anywhere."



"If his ejaculate is only a catalyst, we'll have to put him with a woman."

"Can we use one of the surrogates we had lined up?"

The Doctors looked at the very relaxed and incoherent Immortal, then looked at each other. "Take him back to his cell."

*****

Methos was curled in a fetal position on his cot when the guards returned to his cell. He was unable to resist as they held him down and gave him another shot. Even before they left the room, Methos knew he wasn't going to like this drug any better than the truth drug they'd given him earlier. His veins felt like they were on fire. His blood rushed to his genitals. He felt like he'd taken a Quickening, a really Big Quickening. He pushed himself into the corner of his cot when the door opened again. A woman in a patient's hospital smock was firmly pushed into the cell.

The woman was in her mid twenties, lean and of average height. Crying, she pounded on the door after they shut it behind her. When they ignored her pleas, she turned and looked around the cell. She fearfully noticed the man in the corner.

"No! Leave me alone!" Methos shouted at the walls. He wrapped his arms around his body and huddled more into the corner. "Leave me alone!"

When the woman moved into the corner furthest from him, they both heard a voice say, "Get over there and touch him. You know what you're here to do."

"Please!" The woman cried. "Don't do this. This isn't what they told me I was here for!"

"Get over there or you'll never walk out of here." The voice threatened.

The woman continued to cry; slowly taking the steps that brought her to the man's side. She looked imploringly at the mirror. "Get on with it!" The voice said.

Her shoulders shaking with sobs and tears running down her face, the woman tentatively touched the man's arm. He recoiled from her touch. She bit her lip and leaned into his body, kissing what she could see of his face, soothing him as one would a small, upset child.

*****

"How long until we know if it worked? The thermal camera's didn't see any changes."

"The lab work should be back in an hour. We just keep her in there until she's pregnant."

"We can't keep him hyped up on the drug that long!"

"Yes, we can. His system fights it off within an hour. We can't hurt him."

"It didn't look as if he did anything unusual, how the hell is the egg suppose to transfer?"

"You mean other than fucking like rabbits every time he wakes up?" One of the guards snickered. "That's some drug!" He shut up at the glares from the doctors.

The doctors shook their heads. How the hell were they suppose to get anywhere if they didn't get any data? The higher ups were certainly expecting miracles from them.

"Are we getting anywhere with the Aliens?"

"They still refuse to hand over the data."

"I hear someone has been asking questions. I guess they noticed that the subject was missing."

"They can't trace him to us. The transfer team has already been reassigned out of the country."

*****

MacLeod got off the phone and turned to Joe. "Laurus says he can't openly help with the rescue, but he promises he'll monitor communications and have a shuttle ready for us when we're ready to leave. We can hide Methos at the Complex when we get him out."

MacLeod started to pace while Joe and Amanda frowned their frustration. "O'Neill and his General are pulling in favors to get us a location. Jack seemed to have a good idea of what group it might be, they've had trouble with them before."

"I hate just sitting here doing nothing!" Amanda vented. "And if you haven't heard anything from him, that means they're keeping him drugged out of his mind. That kind of thing is what caused him to freak out last time Laurus said."

"We just have to be patient." Joe said, patting her arm. He looked over at MacLeod and tried to reassure him as well. "The old man is pretty tough. He's probably driving them nuts with his whining, bitching and moaning. We just better make sure we have plenty of beer around when we get him back."

The two Immortals gave a small chuckle, but Joe knew their hearts just weren't in it.

*****

Methos woke with his head still fuzzy. He must have drunk too much the night before; funny he didn't remember it at all.

His backside felt cold, 'no covers' he thought. He snuggled down into the warmth of the woman that was sprawled beneath him. His head rested on her chest and he had an arm and a leg casually draped over her body. His body lay as close as he could get without lying on top of her. He nuzzled into her breasts, recognizing her scent, and the scent of sex that covered both of them. He smiled, his body waking to the attraction of the warm woman beneath him.

Keeping his eyes closed, he let his mind remain in its blank and mellow state as he nipped and licked at the nearest breast. She shifted slightly beneath him, her body moving into him rather than away. His hand lightly brushed up and down her body as he began to prepare her body to receive his. He nipped and laved at her neck, working his mouth up towards hers. He kept his eyes closed as he let his other senses direct his hand and body. When he felt her wetness, he shifted his body over hers and slowly entered her.

She wrapped her legs around his waist while clutching at his back with her hands. She hummed her pleasure into his ear while meeting his thrusts. Slowly he buried his length into her wetness, only to withdraw it nearly to his tip. He quickened his pace as her responses indicated her increasing arousal. She gasped and arched her body, shuttering against him. He pounded into her wetness a few more times before he thrust into her deeply and went rigid with his completion. His back and neck arching back with his pleasure.

As the last of his orgasmic shutters spent themselves, he slowly relaxed his body out of hers and lay partially covering her. He was nuzzling her neck again when his mind finally purged its dazed state. His body went rigid as his mind kicked in, remembering where he was. He jerked his head up and looked at the woman.

Her surprised eyes met his, and he scrambled from the bed. "No! Oh No!"

Still feeling lightheaded despite the adrenalin rushing through his body, Methos continued to back across the small cell as she sat up.

"No. No. No!" When his back hit the corner of the cell he braced himself, rubbing his face to clear the last of the cobwebs from his mind.

Slowly the woman on the cot stood and wrapped a sheet around her body. With a hand extended, she slowly approached him.

"It's okay." She said softly. "The drugs have worn off haven't they?"

Methos stood frozen in the corner. "I'm so sorry." Only vaguely remembering the woman crying when she was pushed into his cell, Methos had no idea what he'd done to the poor girl in his drugged state.

"You didn't hurt me." She said resting a hand lightly on his shoulder.

Methos slowly slid down the wall until he was sitting on the floor. His knees pressed against his chest and his arms wrapped tightly around his body.

She followed his action by kneeling down and putting her hand on his arm again.

Thinking of his violent past millennia, Methos asked again, needing to hear her say it. "I didn't hurt you?"

She smiled shyly. "No. I was a little scared at first. But you never hurt me. Don't get a swelled head or anything, but that was some of the best sex I've ever had." She leaned into him. "I think you're the one that's been hurt the most here. This seemed pretty non-consensual to me."

He nodded. "How long?" He asked. He didn't even know what day it was.

"This will be the seventh day. They've had you pretty drugged up. I think you shook it off faster than they thought you would. I overheard them say they wanted you to stay pretty out of it." She said softly.

Methos rested his forehead onto his knees and followed his link to MacLeod. MacLeod?

*****

MacLeod? Duncan jerked in surprised and looked all around him wildly. "Methos!"

MacLeod where are you? You've got to get me out of here. Methos thought.

"We're here in Santa Fe. Where are you?" Duncan said out loud for the benefit of the other occupants of the room. His heart broke at the traumatic emotions he sensed in Methos' thoughts.

I don't know. Get me out of here! Methos pleaded.

"Keep talking to me, I'll try to home in on your direction." MacLeod said tossing the keys of the rental car to Amanda and dashing out the door of the motel. "Drive East." He commanded as Amanda got behind the wheel, Duncan in the passenger seat with Joe in the back.

How long have I been here? They've had me drugged. I just shook it off.

"It's been nearly three weeks." MacLeod said, hating to answer Methos' question. He felt like he'd failed his friend by not finding him sooner.

Three bloody weeks! Get me out of here Highlander, before I call all the bloody Immortals in the country down on them! Methos vented.

"He's pissed. He says he's going to call the Immortals if we don't get him out." MacLeod said to the others in the car.

"Great, that's just what we need. We end the Game so we can start a war." Joe mumbled.

"Makes you wonder what they've been doing to him to get him so pissed off." Amanda said to the group in general.

Amanda had a point Duncan thought. The emotions he was sensing were more than the usual crankiness he expected from the oldest Immortal. "Are you alright Methos?" Duncan asked.

No, I'm bloody not all right! They've been running tests on me. They've had me so drugged out of my mind I can't tell if its day or night. They're trying to make their own little Immortal army.

*****

"My name's Caitlin. Caitlin McKenzie." The young woman said, trying to create an atmosphere of calmness and normalcy.

"Adam Pierson." He answered, still keeping his link with MacLeod open.

"You're still shaking, are you feeling all right? They had you pretty high." Caitlin said.

Methos rubbed his face again and took several deep breaths. "I'll be fine."

He stood and faced the mirror. "You've been wasting your time and hurting this poor girl for nothing you Bastards. She can't get pregnant from me unless she's been altered. Your bloody reports had to have mentioned that!"

Methos glared at the mirror until he heard a noise at the door. Turning, he pulled Caitlin behind him and faced the door, eyes flashing and fists clenched. Un-self-conscious in his nakedness, he glared at the two guards that entered the cell with guns drawn.

The two guards were followed by two of the doctors. The doctors were panting as they stepped in the cell.

They'd probably run here when they'd been told he'd recovered from the drug, Methos thought.

"What do you mean by altered?" One of the doctors asked.

"The Ancients wanted total control of the reproduction process. The females have to be altered on a hormonal level. The hormone change sends off pheromones. Without that, my body won't react and transfer the egg." Methos continued to glare at the intruders to his cell.

"How are they altered? What do we need to do?" The older doctor asked. He was irritated that they hadn't asked this question earlier. He'd remembered seeing a reference to altered females but he'd thought it was only for the original females.

"They used special equipment, I don't have a translation for how it works that you'd understand." Methos growled.

What's going on Methos? MacLeod asked through the mind link. He could feel the older Immortals anger and outrage.

I'm arguing with my keepers. Methos thought back. Hurry, before they drug me again!

"Does the Asgard-Asunde have the equipment to alter the females?" The older doctor asked.

"Yes. They've been doing it since we got here." Methos said. There was no point in keeping this from them any longer. They couldn't do anything if the Asgard-Asunde weren't cooperating. "You've been wasting your time and mine. Let me out of here now!"

"I'm afraid we can't do that Mr. Pierson." Said a man in a dark suit as he leaned against the doorframe. Thomas had been called from the upper levels when the doctor's had been called. He'd arrived at the cell and listened to the conversation. He'd be kicking some butt over this gross miscalculation. "We can't let someone as valuable as you just wander around. If we can't use you for our plans, we'll just have to keep you in protective custody."

MacLeod! What's taking you? Methos thought.

We're outside the gates! But we can't just storm in. They have an army out here. We've called Colonel O'Neill. He's going to go to the top.

"I have rights. You let me go and I won't sue your Asses!" Methos stalled.

"Sorry. We like you right where you are." The man in the suit said flippantly. To the Doctors he said, "Knock him out again."

The doctors nodded. Methos backed up preparing to resist.

He may have been naked and unarmed but Methos really didn't want to be drugged again. When one of the guards moved to pull out his gun, Methos lunged at him. Swinging with the full force of his body, he hit the guard square in the jaw. At the same time, he kicked the other in the chest. When the first guard fell, a swinging, scratching Caitlin quickly jumped him.

"It's not important. Let him go." The man in the suit said, calling off the guards and doctors. "You won't be leaving this room for a very long time."

Methos and Caitlin stepped warily back from the guards.

*****

Methos and Caitlin sat on the cot in his cell and relaxed the best they could. The guards had brought in prisoner garb and a meal for the two of them, and left them in peace. Caitlin had offered to taste it first to see if the food had been drugged. When she'd shown no symptoms, they'd quickly finished off the meal. Methos kept in mental contact with MacLeod, asking about the results of MacLeod's call to O'Neill.

Methos struggled to control the anxiety he was feeling, from the drugs he'd been on for so long and the fact that he was a prisoner. He'd never liked confinement, and he'd spent too many years as a prisoner or a slave not to have it eating away at his subconscious.

Methos! O'Neill got the President to come! They're only a few minutes away! Laurus will send a shuttle when we give the word. MacLeod thought.

I'm in one of the sublevels, Prisoner Detention room 3. Make sure you get the videos they've been making! Methos thought back. To Caitlin he said out loud, "It won't be long now."

Despite his advanced warning, Methos tensed and stood when he heard the warning klaxon go off. He heard the sounds of running feet in the hall outside, but no one opened the door. Methos began to pace. What's happening?

The President is talking to the Commander of the Base. O'Neill has a team ready to go down when the President gives the word. We'll be right behind him. MacLeod thought.

Several minutes later, Methos heard MacLeod, Here we come! Amanda will look for the tapes, and Samantha will check the labs. I'm with O'Neill. I can lead them right to you!

Methos waved Caitlin over to the door. He waited impatiently for the sense of MacLeod's buzz. He sighed with relief when he finally felt it.

Here we are! He thought to MacLeod while pounding on the door.

He heard the door unlock and grabbed it as soon as it opened. Methos grabbed MacLeod in a hug as soon as he spotted the Scot standing beside a soldier with the keys. "The Highland Calvary! You're a sight for sore eyes Mac!" Methos said, relief clear on his face.

"Anytime Methos. I owe you a few rescues." MacLeod whispered into the older Immortal's ear, pleased at the welcome he'd gotten from the normally untouchable, unflappable Immortal.

Grinning, Methos shook hands with O'Neill and Daniel. He looked behind and reached for Caitlin's hand. He wanted to make sure she stayed with him until someone could check her out, make sure he really hadn't hurt her. "Let's get out of here." Methos said with a growl.

O'Neill issued more commands to his team before leading Pierson out of the sub-levels. As they entered a lobby area, O'Neill heard something on his headset and stopped. "Someone wants to have a word with you." He said.

Methos looked at O'Neill in confusion. Before fear could replace his confusion, Methos saw O'Neill nod his head at a group of soldiers and men in suits that were heading in their direction. The soldiers fanned out and surrounded O'Neill, and the Immortals.

Caitlin held onto Methos' hand tightly as the soldiers surrounded them. Methos recognized the man in the center of the group.

"Mr. President, I'd like to introduce you to Adam Pierson." O'Neill said when the President stopped in front of them.

The President extended his hand to the Immortal. "Mr. Pierson. I'm sorry to have to meet you under these circumstances. General Hammond and I were discussing a possible arrangement with you before these men acted on their own initiative. I hope you'll still be willing to hear us out and give us the benefit of the doubt."

Methos hesitated before shaking the President's hand. "I appreciate your personal attention to this, but I think I need a little time to get past this."

"I understand Mr. Pierson. Please don't judge all of us by the acts of a few. When you're ready, we'd still like to talk about it."

Methos nodded. "After I have a hot shower, a cold beer and a decent meal, I'll consider it."

The President smiled, "Colonel O'Neill, make sure he gets those things. I'll look forward to hearing from you." He nodded at the others before giving O'Neill a brotherly slap on the shoulder. He left, followed by his entourage of men in suits and soldiers. He looks so young! The President thought as he got into his helicopter. He'd never have suspected this guy was ten thousand years old!

O'Neill listened to his headphones before turning to Adam. "Carter's cleared the lab and Amanda has the videos. What would you like done with the stuff?"

"Give it to me. I want to look it over before I decide what to do with it." Methos said.

O'Neill nodded. He spoke into his headphones. Within moments, Teal'c, Sam and Amanda arrived with a cart containing boxes.

Methos nodded. He offered his hand to Jack. "Thanks, all of you. I appreciate what you did for me." He smiled an exhausted smile. "I need some time to think. I'll give Daniel a call when I get this sorted out in my head." Jack nodded.

"I'm glad you're okay Adam. I wish we could have prevented this." Daniel said. This didn't look good for getting his friend's cooperation against the Goa'uld. Why couldn't the government keep control of its people better? They may have cost the Earth a powerful alliance!

Methos nodded and smiled at his friends. Turning to MacLeod he said, "Lets get out of here."

MacLeod led the way to the rental car. They quickly loaded up the boxes from the Base and headed back to the motel.

"The President himself just came to your rescue!" Caitlin said. "Just who are you guys?"

"Who are you?" Amanda asked the woman while looking at Methos.

"She's one of the surrogate mothers." Methos said.

"I was supposed to be anyway. I applied for a college loan a few months ago. These guys approached me right after that and said they'd give me free medical and twenty thousand dollars if I'd be a surrogate mother. I have a friend that did the surrogate mother thing so I figured, no problem. I can take classes while I was pregnant. I got suspicious when instead of a Doctor's office they brought me to that place. I'd been there for a couple of weeks before the doctors came and dragged me into Adam's room. They said they wanted a surrogate mother, not that they were going to pimp me out." Caitlin said indignantly.

MacLeod looked over at Methos in the passenger seat. Methos opened up the link and asked What?

Did you rape her?

I don't remember, they drugged me out of my mind. I didn't know what I was doing. I want to have Laurus' group check her out, just to make sure she's okay.

Could she be pregnant? MacLeod thought to Methos, trying to keep the anger out of his thoughts. Once a Horseman, always a Horseman!

No. She was never altered. The doctors there didn't know what they were doing. I'll have her checked out and sent on her way. I'll make sure her college courses are taken care of.

MacLeod scowled at the older Immortal. He didn't like the casual way Methos was treating the girl. She was a victim in this too.

MacLeod didn't have to tell Methos what was on his mind. Methos could feel it. Hiding his hurt feelings, Methos closed his eyes and faked a nap.

"So tell us about yourself." Joe asked. He could tell by Mac's face that he was judging the older Immortal again. He wanted to know more about this young woman and shift the conversation away from Methos. When they were back at the motel he planned on giving Mac a piece of his mind. If Amanda's expression were any indication, Joe was going to have to get in line behind her!

*****

Methos grabbed a beer from the room's mini fridge as soon as he walked in the door. He guzzled it down before heading into the bathroom to take a shower, standing under the hot water for as long as it lasted. After the shower, he crawled into the bed and buried himself under the blankets. The cell he'd been in had just never seemed warm enough! In moments, he was asleep.

In the room next door, MacLeod was just hanging up the phone. "O'Neill's posted men around the area until Laurus picks us up. We'll go to the Complex as soon as Methos has rested."

Joe sighed and sank onto a chair at the table. "He just never gets a break." He said, shaking his head.

"How's the girl?" MacLeod asked as Amanda stepped into the room and shut the door.

"Sleeping. She was pretty tired." Amanda smiled. "She said Adam and her have been going at it for days now. She'll probably never be satisfied with a Mortal man ever again." She chuckled.

"That's not funny Amanda, that girl was raped." MacLeod said.

"Don't even get started Duncan. She said if anyone was raped, it was Methos. She was scared but still okay with it; she was getting paid for it. Okay, so they weren't keeping totally to their deal, but Methos didn't have any choice in the matter! He was killed, kidnapped and drugged. Drugged enough that they took advantage of him when he couldn't do anything about it."

"But..." Mac said.

"No buts! She knows this isn't her fault, but she also knows that it sure as hell isn't his either."

"Mac, Methos didn't have a choice, don't be dragging old history into this." Joe said. "He's going to have enough trouble dealing with this without you judging him too."

"He said he'd take care of her college costs. If I know him, he'll probably adopt the girl!" Amanda said sitting on MacLeod's lap.

MacLeod nodded. "Does she know what was going on?"

"I don't think so. She didn't hear enough to make her disbelieve what Methos told her. She's quite happy thinking that we work for the British Government and that there was some illegal research going on using our best agent as a guinea pig." Amanda added with an amused smile. "She'd noticed he was extremely fit and had incredible stamina."

"All the same, can you get the Watchers to keep an eye on her? Just to make sure?" Mac asked Joe.

Joe nodded. "I'm going to head back to my room and make some calls. Let me know when he wakes up huh?" Joe said before leaving.

Amanda snuggled into Mac's lap. "How about we take this to the bed?"

*****

Thomas slammed his fist angrily onto his desk. Damn the SGC! Luckily he'd heard that the SGC had found out that the Immortal was hidden at the installation in New Mexico. He'd managed to insure that his identity was protected and that all connections to him were severed. He'd lost this round, but not the Game. He'd just have to be patient a little while longer.

*****

Methos woke up in a cold sweat. Damn but that nightmare had made his heart race! He'd hoped that he'd faced his fears after visiting the Complex. His recent imprisonment had brought some of those fears back. He got up and went to shower the sweat off his body.

When he'd finished, he ordered some dinner from room service. He didn't feel like talking to the others yet, so he ate in his room alone.

After eating, he had another beer and lay down again, hoping to get a few more hours of sleep.

When he woke several hours later, Methos went into the room where he'd left the others. He felt all of their eyes on him as he moved to the mini refrigerator to grab a beer.

"How are you feeling Adam?" Joe asked.

"I'm ready to get out of here. I'm going to give Laurus a call and see if he'll pick us up." Methos shook his head in disgusted amusement, "I never thought I would say this, but I think I'd feel safer at the Complex."

Amanda walked to Methos and put her arms around him. "O'Neill said those guys that grabbed you were with an extreme branch of the government called the NID. Now that they've been exposed and the President is watching them, they won't do anything else to you."

Methos nodded. "Joe, can I use your cell phone?" He felt better about Joe's phone not being bugged than the hotel room's phone. He quickly dialed the contact number he had for Laurus.

Laurus agreed to pick them up after dark on a Golf course they'd seen on their return to the Hotel. He was going to fly the shuttle cloaked so no one, including O'Neill's group would see where they went. Methos made sure he mentioned that they would be bringing a 'civilian' with them. He was sure that Laurus would interpret that correctly.

After he got off the phone with Laurus, Methos called Jack to let him know that Laurus was picking them up. He asked not to be followed from the Hotel. After getting an argument from O'Neill, Methos had finally insisted, saying that Jack was just going to have to trust him. If he was going to be kept in protective custody, he'd only traded one prison for another. Jack had finally agreed and apologized.

After the call, the room sat in uncomfortable silence, each person lost in their own thoughts. Finally Caitlin asked, "So where are we going?"

Methos looked at her and smiled. "Sorry. I forgot that we didn't include you in our earlier conversation. After dark we're going to get on a stealth helicopter and fly to one of our secure bases. From there, we'll get you back home. I've already talked with O'Neill about getting you some temporary security, only until we're sure this thing's blown over. But first I want to have one of the base doctors take a look at you. Just to make sure that you're alright."

Caitlin nodded. "Okay. I can live with that."



They quietly entertained themselves while they waited for dark. It was a matter of a few minutes to pack everyone up and leave the Hotel. In another few minutes they were walking across the Green until they saw the light from Laurus' shuttle door. Laurus was in his Human persona when he greeted them. "Adam! I'm glad to see you free and well once again."

"You and me both. You called me Adam." Methos stated, somewhat surprised. He'd almost gotten used to the Alien calling him Alpha Blue. "I like it. It's more personable." He smiled at the Alien.

Within minutes they were seated and in the air. Laurus took a more roundabout route so that Caitlin would really think they were some distance from where they started. While they seated themselves in the shuttle, Methos made a point of having Caitlin sit next to him. While they were traveling, he told her that he would be paying for her college degree and expenses. Despite her protests, he insisted saying that it was the least he could do. He continued to distract her by talking about his own degrees and the places he'd traveled.

*****

Methos' nightmares woke him up again. He rubbed at his face before sitting up in the bed. His body was slick with sweat. Knowing that he wouldn't be falling back to sleep anytime soon, Methos got up and dressed in some loose clothing that Laurus' staff had given him. Slipping quietly down the hall, Methos headed to the recreation area he remembered from the tour. He vaguely remembered that he'd used it a lot when he'd been younger. Methos snorted, younger only in years. He still had no knowledge of ever being 'young'.

Methos was in the middle of a difficult kata when he sensed Mac's arrival, but he didn't allow Mac's presence to interrupt his workout.

Mac watched as Methos whirled around in a difficult workout that utilized martial art katas and gymnastics. Methos would rapidly move through a series of defense motions before executing flips, spins and cartwheels to retreat. Mac hadn't really seen Methos work up a sweat like this before, Methos preferring to do his exercising in private. The most Mac had seen from Methos was yoga meditation and the spars they did together. This was amazing, showing Methos' skill, flexibility and stamina.

Mac clapped when Methos finally finished the routine. "What was that?" He asked trying to get a conversation started. He'd gone looking for the ancient Immortal after finally feeling that Methos had been avoiding him since they're arrival at the Complex. Mac had gotten a 'talk' from Joe and Amanda about judging Methos. He'd even been visited by Caitlin who'd confirmed that Adam's part in her captivity had been as non-consensual as hers had been.

"I don't remember, I've just always known it. The computer may have filled in the technical blanks it found, but the memories are just not there."

"Methos...I'm sorry. I don't understand why I keep judging you. I know you're a good man, I've seen it too many times not to believe it."

"Maybe you need a villain MacLeod. Whenever you can't find one, you turn to me."

"How can we fix this?" MacLeod asked.

"I could stay out of your way for one." Methos said looking at MacLeod blankly.

"I'm serious Methos." MacLeod said with a huff of irritation.

"So am I. Think about it MacLeod, you met me as Adam Pierson and offered to protect me from Kalas. After that, I thought we had a friendship going. I pulled you through a Dark Quickening, you pulled me through Alexa's death. You used me to keep Gina and Robert together; I used you to stop Kronos. I stood by you with Keane and didn't take your head when you took Byron's Quickening. I backed you up with O'Rourke and you've backed me up these past few months."

Mac nodded, remembering the tragedy and hurt they'd lived through in the past few years.

"And what is the first thing that goes through your mind when I asked to try the mind link on you? Or when you heard about Caitlin? I felt what you thought MacLeod." Methos said, his scathing look cutting straight through the ready denial on MacLeod's lips.

"Let me tell you a story I heard in the Highlands about six hundred years ago. There was a clan in the Highlands, with an old and wise clan chieftain whose pride and joy was his young son. But his son had a terrible temper. When this spoiled young boy got angry, he'd break things or throw things at the other kids and animals of the village. Someday this son would grow up and be the clan chieftain, but his father feared for his clan if the boy couldn't learn to control his temper. Knowing that he would need to fix this, the chieftain took his son into the woods. He took him to a mighty oak tree and told the boy that a chieftain had to be able to control his temper. If the boy ever wanted to be chieftain someday, he'd have to learn how to control himself. If the boy got angry, he was to come to this tree and take his anger out on the tree."

"The boy wanted to make his father and clan proud of him and to be chieftain someday, so he took his father's words to heart and took his anger out on the tree. Years went by and only the tree carried the scars of the boy's anger. As he grew into a young man, he learned to control his temper and didn't need to use the tree. When the young man's father grew old and decided to step down as clan leader, a big celebration was held. After the celebration, the father took his son into the woods again, to the same tree.

'What do you see?' The father asked.

'A tree.' The son answered.

'What else?' The father asked.

'The tree you brought me to years ago.' The son said, still not understanding what his father wanted from him.

'Exactly! Now look at the tree closely.' The son looked and saw the scars his anger had left on the tree. 'This tree was there for you. Willing to stand here quietly and accept your anger. Tall and strong it stands here today, but look at the marks your anger has left on it's trunk.' When he saw that his son was seeing and listening the father continued. 'Remember this my son. Anger and harsh words do this to people as well. Once spoken, words can never truly be healed or taken back. As you have learned to control your temper, also learn to control your thoughts and words, lest they destroy the strength and loyalty of those around you. A tree is very forgiving, people are not."

Methos stared at Duncan for a few seconds weighing him. "I haven't been a Horsemen for two thousand years. We've all done things we weren't proud of, and we'd all like to be remembered for who we are now." Before Mac could open his mouth Methos continued. "You need a villain and you've nominated me, but I'm tired of being your bad guy MacLeod. It's bad enough that you blame me for everything evil that happens, how many times have you done the same thing to Joe? Told him you were through, or that Watchers and Immortals don't mix. How many times have you played the spoilt Highland child and banished someone from the clan because they displeased you? This is your problem, not mine. I can't fix this for you Highlander. I suggest you fix it quickly before you turn around one day and find yourself standing alone, your forest all cut down."

Methos stared coldly at MacLeod as he walked by, heading to the door. MacLeod turned to watch, his anger flashing in his eyes until he saw Joe standing quietly in the doorway that Methos was walking out of. Methos put a gentle hand on Joe's shoulder without meeting his eyes. Then he was gone.

"He's been through Hell Mac." Joe said walking towards the stunned Highlander.

Mac nodded. "And he's right. I have been using him and you as my punching bag when I needed one. I'm sorry Joe. Both of you mean everything to me. You're like kinsmen to me." Duncan put a gentle hand on Joe's shoulder, mirroring the gesture he'd seen Methos give the patient and faithful Watcher.

"Yeah well, sometimes big brothers have to let their little brothers make fools of themselves to learn the tough lessons." Joe said gruffly, caught up in the emotion of the moment.

"And I've been doing that." Mac said sheepishly, thinking that even Amanda had felt him behaving foolish enough to call him on it.

"Just learn the lesson he's teaching Mac. His patience isn't unlimited and now he doesn't just have the world to disappear in, he has the entire universe." Joe said reminding Mac that Methos would disappear if he needed or wanted to.

There wouldn't be any place he couldn't run to Mac thought. SG-1 and the Asguard-Asunde would certainly help Methos go wherever he wished. Mac would never find him unless Methos wanted to be found. That thought left a painful emptiness in MacLeod's soul.

Methos returned to his quarters and took a shower. Knowing he still wouldn't be able to sleep, he headed to the common eating area for coffee. He was staring at his coffee when he felt Laurus come into the room. He glanced up as Laurus approached.

"May I join you Adam?" Laurus asked. Methos nodded at the use of his current name and smiled.

Laurus sat and said, "We've checked the young woman and she's fine. Even drugged, you have always been gentle with the females."

"Not always. For a long time I was the monster that mothers warned their children about." Methos said quietly.

"Not a monster, just ill. You healed and you haven't been that man in a long time."

Methos nodded, remembering the conversation he'd just had with MacLeod. He'd learned from his past and moved on. What he'd been through in the past few weeks hadn't brought back the Horseman. The Horseman would never come back. There wasn't anyone to blame but the NID and they were disarmed now.

"What do you know about the SGC?" Methos asked. He couldn't blame them for the acts of a few extremists. He couldn't make the rest of Earth pay for the acts of a few.

Laurus smiled, pleased that Alpha Blue was letting go of his kidnapping. "I know only what I've observed or been told by the Asgard. The SGC appear to be dedicated to the Earth rather than to any one government. The Asgard tells me that the SGC has saved the Earth several times, even reaching out and helping the Asgard when they needed it. All of this they've done without recognition or reward. They've killed the Goa'uld but not as senselessly or as indiscriminately as the Goa'uld have killed the humans." Laurus continued. "The Asgard and the Nox both believe the humans capable of great things, when they grown up." Laurus said with laughter in his voice.

Methos smiled. "And it's part of my design to see that they live long enough to do that right?"

"Not just your design, the Ancients believed the humans worth saving. The Ancient Prime loved you four Alphas as if you were his own children. He believed in the humans enough to send them his children, to help them grow. He trusted and gifted you with each other."

Methos thought about what Laurus said. "We weren't just lab rats to the Ancients?"

"No. The Prime asked about you Alphas on a personal level. He wanted to know how you were doing. His staff asked after the project." Silently Laurus felt a wave of remorse that someday he would have to tell the Prime that he'd not been able to protect three of his children.

That thought that he'd been a person instead of a lab rat lightened Methos' heart a little. "Where did the Ancients go?"

"No one knows. They were just gone. The Asgard and the Nox have looked for them since their disappearance." Changing the subject Laurus asked, "What will you do now?"

"It isn't enough to have stopped the Game if Earth is in danger. I thought I'd see what I could do to help the SGC defend Earth, if they can make me some promises that is. I've spent all the time in a cell that I ever want to." Methos said adamantly.

Laurus nodded. "And the project? What will you do about the Immortal Race?"

Methos frowned. "That's tougher to decide."

Laurus let Alpha Blue have a minute to collect his thoughts when it was clear that he was struggling for words.

"Unless I'm involved with the woman, it feels wrong to have sex. The days of taking what I want are long over, part of putting aside the monster in me."

Laurus spoke. "Amanda has asked Caitlin if she would still be interested in being a surrogate Mother for Amanda's child. Caitlin has agreed, if you are willing. Caitlin is very attracted to you. It would please Amanda and Caitlin, be an appreciated gift that only you can give. But this is something that only you can decide and I've asked them not to approach you on the subject."

Methos looked down at his now empty cup, uncomfortable with his thoughts.

"Let me know if you're willing. I can have Caitlin altered in a few hours." Laurus patted Alpha Blue on the hand and left him with his thoughts.

Methos took his empty cup to the counter and left the eating area, suddenly feeling the need to be moving. He started walking the miles of corridors as he thought. Without planning it, he found himself in the Nursery.

The pre-immortal child was gone but her mother, Linda was reading a book in the rocking chair where she'd once held her daughter.

Methos nodded and turned to leave when she stopped him. "Don't go. This has always been a pleasant room to sit and read in. Are you one of the Immortals Laurus said was visiting?"

Methos nodded, moving into the room and sitting in one of the other rocking chairs in the room.

"I wondered which of you were Immortal when you were here last time. I'm glad my daughter will be an Immortal and have a long time to explore the world." Linda said smiling.

"You don't regret giving her up?" Methos asked gently.

"I miss her, but she'll be fine with her new family, they're wonderful people and really wanted a child badly. I offered to be a surrogate Mother again, but Laurus said that they didn't allow the mothers to have more than one child from the same Immortal father. Allison's father is one of the few Immortals left that can have children, and it's very difficult for him to conceive."

Linda sighed. "There's one very fertile Immortal, but Laurus said that he's very elusive and hadn't fathered children in a very long time. It's a shame, there are hardly any new Immortals born anymore, and I think I'd like Allison to have some young friends to grow up and grow old with."

Linda smiled at the young man sitting across from her. "Are you here to be a father?"

"I'm trying to decide." Methos said with a smile. Linda was flirting with him! "It seems rather clinical and detached to me."

"Perhaps its just how you look at it. I didn't love Allison's father, but he was always kind and gentle with me. We became friends and lovers even knowing that we wouldn't stay together after I was pregnant. It was a better relationship than some of my boyfriends ever gave me and certainly more than the test tube pregnancies I've seen."

"Did you know his name?" Methos asked, wondering if Allison's father was someone he knew.

"His name is Andy. He told me he was once a Shaman. I stayed with him for over a year. It was very beautiful in Arizona."

Methos remembered Lokiwa. He'd been in South America exploring when they'd met. He remembered that Lokiwa had shown him how to use the native plants as medicines. A good man. "Why didn't you stay with him?"

"We wanted different things. I want to finish school and teach someday and Andy is still trying to find someplace to call home. He promised Laurus a year and he forced himself to stay in one place that long. We stay in touch."

"He knew about the project?" Methos asked surprised.

Linda nodded. "Laurus had approached him as soon as Andy matured enough. Andy came here and decided for himself that Immortals were worth saving as a Race. Andy gets the final approval of the surrogate Mothers of course, but he's only willing to do it once every ten years or so."

Linda leaned forward in her chair and looked appraisingly at the young man. "Laurus said that it took a long time for Immortals to be mature enough to have children. Andy was middle aged so he looked mature to me, but you look like you're in your mid twenties, early thirties at best. I think there'd be more surrogate Mothers if the fathers looked like you."

Methos laughed, amused at her flirting. "I'm older than I look."

"I'll bet you'd father some beautiful babies. I hope you decide that it's something you can do. I'm already altered, can I volunteer?" Linda said, slightly embarrassed at her forwardness. She appeased herself by looking at the handsome potential father in front of her. "I'd like Allison to have Immortal friends to grow up with."

*****

Methos called Daniel several weeks later.

"Adam! How are you?" Daniel asked, concerned for his friend.

"I'm fine Daniel. I've done some thinking and I wondered if you wouldn't mind opening up negotiations for me."

"Negotiations for what?" Daniel asked hoping that this meant that Adam was willing to give the SGC a chance to make up for the things that had happened recently.

"I'm willing to visit the SGC and share some of the tactics and technology I learned from the Ancients. But I have some conditions." Methos explained.

"What are they?" Daniel asked, putting his phone on speaker and waving Sam over. Having heard Daniel address the caller, Sam hurried over and sat on the edge of Daniel's desk.

"I'd want private quarters topside, someplace with windows, two doors, you get the idea. I'd have to be guaranteed freedom to leave at anytime. And no one but the few that know now, knows who or what I am. In exchange, I'd share what I know."

"That sounds reasonable, let me go talk with General Hammond and I'll call you back." Daniel said grinning.

"I'd better call you. I haven't got a cell phone right now and Laurus wouldn't appreciate me giving out his private number." Methos said glancing over at the small Alien.

Daniel and Samantha hurried to General Hammond's office as soon as they got off the phone. "Adam just called, he's willing to negotiate!" Daniel blurted out, excited.

Jack looked over at the excited man and nodded. He'd known that Pierson would come around.

"What does he want?" General Hammond asked, nervous that he'd be hearing some ridiculous and outrageous demands.

"He wants quarters on the surface, something with windows and doors." Daniel started.

"I think that's because he's reacting to his imprisonment by the NID. Perfectly normal actually, as he adjusts, he may decide to take quarters down here with us." Samantha added.

General Hammond nodded. That sounded like a reasonable request given the circumstances. "What else?"

"He wants the freedom to leave at any time. I think he's still afraid of being a prisoner, but can you blame him?" Daniel said.

"I'll have to take that one up with the President. This is a top secret base, we can't have just anybody coming and going." Hammond said.

"General, Pierson knows all about the Stargate and the Aliens. He probably has more advanced things in his head than we have on the entire planet." Jack said appealingly.

"All the same, I'll have to run this past the President." Hammond said. "Anything else?"

"He wants to remain a secret. He doesn't want anyone else to know that he's an Immortal." Daniel said.

"We can do that. How much time did he give you?"

"He said he'd call in two days." Daniel said. "He's still at the Complex."

"Ask him if he could bring one of those shuttle things, you know, just in case he has to fly into town to run a few errands." Jack said with a grin.

*****

Two days later Methos called Daniel again.

"Adam, General Hammond and Jack are here with me. The President's agreed to your terms."

"Guaranteed? I can leave at any time, I won't be held against my will?" Methos confirmed.

"I personally guarantee it Mr. Pierson." General Hammond said.

"Please, call me Adam. I'll need a couple of months to take care of some personal business. I'll call before I head your way, how would you like me to contact you?"

"Why don't you call me and I'll pick you up at the airport and drive you in." Daniel offered.

Methos chuckled, "That won't be necessary. Laurus has agreed to loan me a shuttle on the condition that your scientists don't take it apart and break it. With your permission, I'd like landing coordinates."

"You know how to fly one of those things?" Jack asked.

"In my sleep." Methos said confidently.

"Alrighty then, you call when you're ready to come and we'll have coordinates for you. I'll even give you a ride in a real Colonel's jeep." Jack said with a smile.

"Darn, I was hoping for a nice air conditioned sedan." Methos joked.

"Trust me, you'll love the jeep." Jack joked back.

"I'll be in touch." Methos said before ending the call.

Turning to Laurus, Methos said, "Well that's settled. Now on the other matter, just two months and only Caitlin and Linda."

Laurus smiled and nodded. This was two more than he'd expected from Alpha Blue.

*****

Methos stood in the shuttle bay saying his goodbyes to his friends before they left the Complex. He'd told them what he was going to do. They'd all tried to talk him into just relaxing and letting himself recover from his kidnapping but he'd just scoffed and said he was an Immortal, how much healing did he need?

Amanda had given him a warm hug and a teary thank you. She understood how tough it had been for him to agree to father a child for her. She would never be able to pay that gift back to him she said tearfully. Methos had only hugged her tighter and told her she'd believed in him when others hadn't. He couldn't think of anyone more capable of being a loving mother than she would be. She'd kissed his cheek and fled into the shuttle before her makeup was totally destroyed.

Joe hugged Methos next. He'd never done that before but the old man seemed approachable today. Joe hoped it wasn't his way of making a final goodbye to his friends. He spoke his fears out loud. "You come back old man. I don't want to have to come looking for you if you disappear off the planet."

"I'll be back Joe, keep an eye on MacLeod for me? He still needs a babysitter." Methos joked.

"I'll do that. You keep in touch so I can give you progress reports." Joe said as he walked slowly towards the shuttle. He wanted to have his emotions under control before he faced Amanda and MacLeod again.

Methos faced MacLeod. "Highlander."

MacLeod reached his hand out in a Warrior's grasp. When Methos took it, MacLeod pulled him in for a hug. "Are you sure you want to do this?" Mac asked.

"Which part? Saving the world from evil Alien invaders or saving the Immortal Race?" Methos said sardonically.

"Both. I'd like to go with you Methos. Watch your back for you like you've watched mine all of these years."

"You can't Mac. The SGC is only letting me in because of what's in my head. The less you know of it, the less you'll attract their attention. So far, they haven't realized that you're one of the Immortals the Ancients designed. You can be my back up plan."

"I'll be in Seacouver. Call me if you need anything, I just don't feel right about this."

"I can fight my own battles MacLeod." Methos said letting go and backing up a step.

"Of course you can, and mine, and Joe's and Amanda's. That's why we're sending you to save the world." Mac said with a smile on his face.

"Damn straight!" Methos said. "Watch your head MacLeod, I want it firmly attached to the rest of you when I come to visit."

Methos watched the Highlander walk onto the shuttle. He stepped back as the roof retracted and the shuttle lifted. As the roof started to close, Methos headed towards the medical center. He had an appointment with the Doctor.

Methos slid off the examination table and looked at Laurus.

Laurus saw the unease in Alpha Blue's eyes and reassured him. "She likes you and trusts you. She'd never do this for anyone else."

"Yeah, but will that be enough for me?" Methos said.

*****

Methos knocked on the door to Caitlin's quarters. She opened the door and reached for his hand, pulling him inside before closing the door. She continued to pull him to the couch and sat down. "It's time?"

Methos sat down beside her and nodded. He took her hands into his and looked at her searchingly. "Laurus has explained everything to you?" At her nod he continued, "Are you sure you want to do this?"

Caitlin smiled, "Adam it's alright. I'd offered to be a surrogate before I even met you. It's easier now that I have. You're a warm, caring, intelligent man that knocks my socks off. I want to do this for Amanda but mostly I think I need to show you that it's not as bad as you think it is. I'll enjoy practicing until we get it right." She said with a wicked twinkle in her eyes.

Methos smiled and relaxed. Caitlin didn't have any second thoughts, why should he? "Practice, I can do practice!" With that he kissed her hand and the practice began.

*****

The next day Caitlin and Methos walked to the medical center for Caitlin's appointment. She was instructed to lie on the examination bed as soon as they arrived. Methos moved to her side and took her hand. The doctor waved the table on and Methos watched as the lights started to monitor Caitlin's vital functions. Methos spotted the bright green dot seconds after the doctor and Laurus did.

"Congratulations, you're going to be parents." The doctor said.

"That's it? We're pregnant?" Caitlin said surprised.

The doctor smiled and Laurus chuckled as he said, "Adam never had any trouble conceiving. That's all there is to it, you're pregnant."

"I've still got some time to practice don't I?" Caitlin said with a twinkle in her eyes, directing her question to Adam. He'd know what she meant.

Laurus cleared his throat before answering, "As long as we're monitoring for Adam's fertility, practice is fine."

*****

Linda had been looking for Caitlin and finally found her eating ice cream in the dining area. She hurried over and sat across the table and grinned. "Congratulations! Laurus told me the good news!"

"Yep, I'm a mother to be." Caitlin said proudly.

"And you got pregnant after only one night? Adam must be some sort of stud muffin, I'm looking forward to my turn."

Caitlin smiled wickedly. "We have until he becomes fertile again to practice and I can tell you, you'll want the extra time!"

Linda smiled. "He's that fertile? It took a whole year with my last Immortal."

"I overheard Laurus and the doctor talking. Adam is the last of the original four Immortals. They were the guaranteed baby makers. Adam's had amnesia or something so he hasn't done this in a while. He's really nervous but you'd never guess it."

"One of the original Immortals? So how old does that make him?" Linda asked. Laurus had only told her that the Immortal father had to be sexually mature.

"I don't know and I don't care. The man has SKILL." Caitlin said with a wink.

Methos used his familiarity with Caitlin to distract him from the thoughts of his next surrogate mother. After a short twenty-seven days, Methos was fertile again. Laurus went to talk to Linda and spare Alpha Blue that uncomfortable task. Linda had spent time with Caitlin and was aware of Adam's hesitancy. With Laurus' help, she arranged for a private dinner with plenty of wine and music. Since Adam hadn't known her before they'd met at the Complex, Linda wanted this to seem like a comfortable date so he could relax. She spent the early part of the evening seducing him subtly. He spent the rest of the evening rewarding her for making it easier on him.

As had happened with Caitlin, Linda was proclaimed pregnant after the first night. Rather than wait around and feel pressured to accept another surrogate mother, Methos called Daniel to make arrangements to go to the SGC.

After saying his goodbyes to Caitlin and Linda, Methos walked with Laurus to the shuttle he was being loaned. "You'll let me know how our mothers are doing?" Methos asked.

Laurus nodded. "They'll be fine. Since that went well, would you consider fathering more children when you return? I can make some arrangements and line more surrogate mothers up." Laurus offered.

Methos rolled his eyes. "This wasn't easy. And if it ever was, I don't remember it. I'm still not comfortable with sex for procreation."

"I'll let you think on it. It's your family and you're the only one that can do it." Laurus said.

"I know." Methos said as he stepped up the ramp and into the shuttle. Soon he was on his way to Colorado Springs and Cheyenne Mountain.

*****

SG-1 stood by Colonel O'Neill's jeep and waited for the incoming shuttle. They'd picked an area where the shuttle could be docked in a hanger with a twenty-four hour guard. General Hammond wanted to make sure that no one touched the shuttle without Pierson's permission. SGC and the President were making sure that Pierson felt safe and welcome while under their protection.

Each of them had been lost in their own thoughts of the contributions that Pierson could make to the SGC when they jumped at the sound of a vacuum seal opening. They turned around confused before they saw a grinning Pierson step onto the runway from several feet up in the air.

"Cloaked! I should have figured." Jack groaned, irritated that Pierson had been able to sneak up on them.

"Do you have someplace for me to park this thing or is right here fine?" Methos asked with an innocent expression on his grinning face.

"In the hanger. Do we at least get to see it?" Jack asked petulantly.

Pierson nodded and waved his hand. With a shimmer, the small runabout shuttle appeared in front of them.

"How'd you do that?" Jack asked.

"Laurus keyed it to me. Where do you want it?"

"Why don't we fly it into that big empty hanger over there? Will all of us fit?"

Methos nodded and gestured them to the open hatch. Once inside, Jack saw that there was seating for eight, counting the pilot.

"What do you mean it's keyed to you?" Samantha asked. "Keyed to your brain waves, voice or DNA?"

"All of them. It's some of the Ancients technology, like the Stargate. I can program it to autopilot or I can fly it manually."

"Can I try? I promise not to scratch the paint." Jack asked, the pilot that he was ached to put the shuttle through its paces.

"A hop around the block?" Methos asked.

"Yes!" Jack said enthusiastically and slid into the pilot's seat. Methos put his hand on a touch pad and after a second, several lights came on and the engines started up. Methos quickly went over the instruments with Jack before he sat back in the co-pilot's chair. "She's cloaked and ready to go, just keep an eye on that screen, no one will be able to see us."

With an exuberant "Oh Yes!" Jack piloted the runabout up and away. The short hop ended up being more like half an hour as Jack took them over several states and up and out of the atmosphere. "Does this thing do light speed?"

Methos grinned, "She made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs."

Jack laughed at the Star Wars reference. "Well young Skywalker, as fun as this is, the General is waiting." Reluctantly Jack returned them to the hanger with a little help from Methos.

When everyone was in the jeep and headed towards the tunnel entrance, Samantha asked, "Are you the only one that can fly it?"

Methos nodded. "Laurus set that as a safety protocol so that I had guaranteed transportation." Methos kept it to himself that the autopilot allowed him to call the shuttle to him just by thinking it. The Ancients had been able to do a lot of things with the power of their minds. That ability had been designed into the Alphas. With the return of some of the gaps in his technical memory, Methos could also do things with his mind.

"Can we have some guys at least look at the thing?" Jack asked sarcastically. Darn that Laurus!

Methos grinned again. "Sure, but no disassembling. I like my ride the way it is. Oh did I mention the schematics for that thing are up here?" he tapped his head with a finger.

"Smart ass!" Jack retorted with a smile. He liked this kid!

"So Adam. You're ten thousand years old..." Daniel started. What luck to have living history coming to stay at the SGC!

Methos groaned, seconded by Jack. "Oh no, the archeologist from hell!"

*****

SG-1 escorted Adam Pierson to a conference room right outside General Hammond's office. After seeing that he had a beverage and everyone had taken a seat, General Hammond spoke. "Dr. Pierson we want to welcome you to the SGC. I am personally guaranteeing your safety and well being."

"That's seconded by me and the other SG-1 campers!" Jack said jauntily.

General Hammond nodded towards his team before continuing. "We've tried to meet your requests for housing and access to the base, but if you find anything you need, you let one of us know. Colonel O'Neill and the rest of SG-1 have put together an agenda that we'll use to start the exchange of information. You'll let us know if we're moving too fast or too slow for you?" At Adam's nod he continued. "Good. Now, I'd like for Dr. Frazier to take a quick look at you." General Hammond hurried to explain when he saw an irritated and suspicious expression appear on Pierson's face. "Dr. Frazier likes to examine all the new personnel. Only the people in this room know you're Immortal, no one else on this base does. It'll attract attention if we don't follow procedures. I've instructed her to just get a baseline of what your normal condition is."

Methos nodded reluctantly but added, "Just a basic exam, some x-rays and one vial of blood. Anything else without my express permission will be considered experimentation."

"Agreed. Colonel you go with him and make sure the Doctor understands what we want. We don't want to take advantage of you son. We need strong allies like you to stop the Goa'uld from getting to Earth."

Methos nodded. He could see that SGC was trying to keep to the letter and spirit of their agreement.

Jack led Adam to the sick bay while the other members of SG-1 returned to their duties. "I know trust is hard to earn, but we want to earn yours Pierson." Jack said as they waited for Dr. Frazier to set up for the exam.

"I'm willing to give you a chance or I wouldn't be here. You know what I am, in the past that's been enough to get me killed."

"We want you alive and well. Alive is the only way we're going to get the stuff in your head, nothing personal." Jack said.

Methos smiled. "I've fought the Goa'uld, I know how unpleasant they can be."

Dr. Frazier kept to General Hammond's instructions. She didn't understand it, but orders were orders. After examining this young man, she found him to be very physically fit, in perfect health and a universal blood donor. She didn't expect to see him in her sick bay too often.

After the medical examination, Jack walked Pierson around on the nickel tour. He abbreviated most of the areas, emphasizing the gym, lunchroom and labs. He made sure Pierson knew where the SG-1 member's quarters and labs were so that he could find them if he wanted. He'd been authorized by Hammond to show Pierson the Gate room so he headed there next. He wasn't at all surprised to see Carter busy running a diagnostic on the command computer when they walked in.

Jack turned to watch Pierson's expression when he saw the Gate for the first time. Pierson's expression was one of intense concentration. As Pierson stared at the Gate, Jack felt the vibration that meant the Gate was dialing. The outer ring began to move and the warning klaxon sounded.

"It's dialing on it's own!" Samantha said and frantically typed commands into the keyboard.

"Chevron One Encoding!" The technician called. "Chevron One Locked!"

"I don't know what's causing it Sir!" Samantha said, still frantically typing. General Hammond appeared in the command room.

"Chevron Two Encoding!" The technician looked over at Samantha. "Chevron Two Locked!"

Methos' mind was in another room and another time. His body felt cold as he remembered waking up on a metal examination table. He was helped to a sitting position and his eyes were full of a Stargate, just like this one.

"Chevron Three Encoding!" The tech called out. "Chevron Three Locked!"

Finally the voices around him penetrated his flashback, his concentration broken. The Gate stopped dialing.

"What happened? Why'd it stop?" Jack asked.

"I don't know Sirs, it's never done that before. The system diagnostics said that everything was operating under normal perimeters."

"When did it start?" Hammond asked.

Sam looked over at Jack and Pierson, her mind already analyzing the possibilities. "When they came into the room Sir."

Jack looked over at Pierson. "Has that ever happened to you before?"

Methos looked at the Gate. "Not that I remember, but I haven't been near the Gate in a very long time."

A theory flashed into Sam's mind. "You said Laurus keyed the shuttle to your brainwaves, what if the Gate is reacting to that?"

"Why would it do that?" Jack asked.

"As near as we can tell, the Ancients used the power of their minds to control much of their technology, including the Gates. You said you'd been programmed with their technology. Perhaps control of the Gates is part of that programming."

Jack looked doubtful. Methos silently agreed with her. They didn't know what he could already do with his mind. He was willing to believe that he could control the Gate too.

Sam turned back to her keyboard and quickly typed in a command. She displayed an address on the screen and turned it towards Pierson. "Take a look at this."

Methos stepped up to Sam's shoulder and looked at the address. "It's Abydos." He said without hesitation. As he spoke, they all felt the vibration as the Stargate powered up again.

"Chevron One Encoding!" The technician called out. "Chevron One Locked!"

"Look Sirs, it's the first Chevron in the address to Abydos."

Methos looked at the address on the monitor, then over to the Stargate below them. The symbols matched.

"Chevron Two Encoding, and Locked!" The technician called out again.

"It's the second address. Keeping thinking about the address." Sam encouraged.

"Chevron Three Encoding, and Locked!" The technician looked at the General to see if they should continue or try and shut down the Gate.

"Chevron Four Encoding, and Locked!" The tech continued.

"They all match so far. Sir, I think Pierson's doing it."

Everyone in the room looked over at Methos. "I don't know what I'm doing! I was just thinking about the address." Methos said apologetically.

"But you knew it was for Abydos." Jack asked his tone flat.

"I'm sure that's part of the data that the Complex computer downloaded. I've never been to Abydos."

"Chevron Five Encoding and Locked!"

"Shut it down Major. The Abydos' Gate is buried. I'm convinced it was Dr. Pierson, let's take this back into the ready room." Hammond said.

When the rest of SG-1 appeared when called, Hammond called the meeting to order. He explained to the others what they thought had just happened in the Gate room.

"This is great Sir! We can have him try to use some of the technology we've recovered, but couldn't get to work. And it appeared that Pierson's mind dialed the Gate without needing to account for the spatial drift, that's kept us from using some of the coordinates we got from the Abydos library. If Pierson can see coordinates and dial them up, the potential is unlimited!" Sam said excitedly.

Daniel nodded in agreement. "This also means we can dial out of a Stargate that has no DHD (Dial Home Device) too. We wouldn't be stranded on those worlds if he could just dial it with his mind."

"It also means that he easily bypassed the security protocols. We didn't have any way of stopping him until he stopped it himself." Jack said quietly. This made the group more somber.

"I'll help in any way I can. We can develop an over-ride or a firewall to prevent someone else from trying it." Methos said.

General Hammond nodded. "Okay son, we'll make that the first item on the agenda tomorrow. I think we all need to call it a day and get some rest. Colonel, why don't you take Pierson back to his quarters."

When Methos had unpacked his bag and grabbed one of the beers generously stocking his small refrigerator, he used his new cell phone and dialed Joe's. Before he'd arrived in Colorado Springs, he'd told both Joe and MacLeod that he'd just call the bar (and save himself a call!). After telling them that he'd arrived safely, he chatted about trivial things before ending the call and pulling out his laptop. Within minutes, he'd logged into the Complex's computers and was searching for any references that the Alpha's or any Immortal, could operate the Gate with their mind.

The next day when Samantha brought up the subject of the Gate's behavior, Methos mentioned that he'd searched and found no references to it. The Immortals hadn't been given access to the Gate when it had been in place. After they'd fought and defeated the Goa'uld, the Gate had been buried. There wasn't any record of the Immortals dialing the Gate at all.

"You still have your backdoor into the Complex computer?" Samantha asked when they reached the ready room where the rest of SG-1 waited.

Methos nodded. "It seems the Ancients put in lots of things that the Watchers never knew about."

"Any chance of downloading some of that data to our computers?" General Hammond asked having heard that part of the conversation. He knew that the data he'd heard was in the Complex computer would keep teams of scientists busy for years.

"Why don't you give me a list of things that you're interested in and I'll consider it." Before Hammond could comment on his conditions, he continued. "I won't hand over the data on Immortals. I'm sure you can understand why I won't trust that data to just anyone. Some of the Immortals are my friends and offspring."

Hammond nodded. "What about the technology in those shuttles and cloaking devices."

"I think I can help you out with those. It will take you a few years to understand the data. I don't think the Council of Races can protest too strongly. I'd expect that you'd only be asking about defensive weapons."

"That'll be a good starting place." General Hammond said. "That should satisfy some of the bureaucrats that keep pressuring the President for results."

"I'm here to fortify Earth's defenses General. I don't support one government over another." Methos said firmly.

"We couldn't agree more Pierson. We may be funded by the Unites States Government, but our allegiance has always been for the good of Earth."

*****

After a month in his quarters on the surface, as expected Pierson requested quarters near the rest of SG-1. No one was restricting his movements and he felt comfortable leaving and entering the base. He'd made a point of taking Jack up for more flying lessons in the shuttle, although those trips disrupted the technicians that were crawling over it most of the time. Methos had supplied schematics but had refused to let them disassemble the shuttle. He insisted it be ready to fly all of the time.

Things quickly fell into a routine. Methos would work out in the gym in the mornings before getting breakfast in the mess hall. After breakfast, he spent the morning hours with Major Carter and her technicians working on enhancing the Stargate Command Center and experimenting with some of the technology they'd brought back from their missions. Lunch would be a casual meal in the lunchroom with SG-1. The afternoon hours would be spent talking strategy and tactics with O'Neill, Teal'c and the other SG team leaders. Any gaps and free time were spent with his friend Daniel, talking history and working on translations.

It was during one of these gaps in their schedule that Daniel asked about the first battle with the Goa'uld. The others looked up in interest. "I don't remember a lot of the details. The Complex's computer gave me back the technical data I was missing, but some of the memories are just gone. I remember bits and pieces when something reminds me of them. The Gate was an example of that. I remember that the Goa'uld came through the Gate but it took several months for the Watchers to hear about it. We Immortals were kept pretty contained and ignorant of the outside world. The Jaffa and the soldiers of the Goa'uld were enslaving everyone in the area, sending them somewhere through the Gate. It wasn't until one escaped and started to talk about the Gods to the East, that Laurus sent out scouts. I took several hundred of the older Immortals with me and we found the Goa'uld encampments, determined weaknesses and strengths and returned to gather our army."

"With the use of the shuttles, we were able to move and place our forces until we forced the Goa'uld army towards the Stargate. I remember standing behind the Gate with a few of my children. The other Alpha's linked up with their children, then I linked up with the Alphas. As the Goa'uld came over the rise, we flanked them and drove them down into the army we'd placed. We had them surrounded and defeated in a short time. Our shuttles kept their death gliders from making a dent in our forces and we were able to revive from the staff weapons. It demoralized their Jaffa and soldiers to see us rising from the dead like that. That was something only the Gods were supposed to do." Methos grinned with the memory.

"We captured Ra and sent him and the rest of his forces back through the Gate with a warning not to return. After we buried the Gate, the Watchers tried to tell us to go back to our boring lives in the Complex. You can guess how well that went over." Methos said his voice lowering at what happened next.

Daniel remembered Laurus describing the attack on Adam and his taking of the first Immortal head. Thousands of years of fear and confusion had driven his friend away from the Complex. Daniel changed the subject so his friend wouldn't relive that sad time in his life. "What about when you first came through the Gate?"

Methos saw a room in his memory and felt his body chill. He saw the remembered Gate burst outward and ripple in the ring when it settled.

SG-1 looked at him when they felt the vibrations that indicated the Gate was dialing. The warning Klaxon seconds later confirmed that.

"I thought you guys were going to fix that!" Jack shouted as he ran towards the control room.

"I thought we had. I'm not doing it on purpose!" Methos said when Jack glared at him.

Samantha was able to quickly shut down the Gate using the protocols that she and Pierson had created. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

"What are you thinking of when that happens?" Daniel asked Pierson.

Concentrating on not projecting the coordinates, Methos answered. "I'm remembering a room with a Gate. I'd just woken up and the Watchers, the Asgard-Asunde rather, were helping us to the Gate. We walked through and we were here. We got in shuttles and went to the Complex."

"Who else was there? In the room you woke up in, I mean." Daniel asked.

Methos closed his eyes to see the images in his head better. "Technicians, Watchers, humans in white robes...the Prime!"

"Who?" Jack asked. He could tell by the emphasis in Pierson's voice that the Prime was someone unexpected and important.

"The Prime. The Ancient that created the Immortals." Methos said with a sense of wonder as he remembered the white haired man with the vivid blue eyes.

"Then what you're remembering is the place you last saw the Ancients?" Daniel asked.

Methos nodded. "After that, the Watchers got communiqu├ęs from them but we never saw them again."

"I have a theory General, may I?" Sam asked. General Hammond nodded.

"I think if we have Adam remember that place and let the Stargate dial the address, we could find one of the lost worlds of the Ancients. I think his memory is acting like a DHD for the Ancient's world. Maybe he's supposed to remember." Samantha looked over at Pierson. "You never actually saw the coordinates and if you saw the DHD or the Gate, you'd be seeing Earth's address, not the Ancient's world."

"That's pretty risky Major. We don't know where we'll be dialing." Hammond said.

"I could ask Laurus if he knew where the world we left from was. He was there." Methos offered. This automatic dialing every time he thought of that first Gate was getting irritating.

"I'd feel more comfortable doing that before we dialed into a possibly hostile planet. No one knows what happened to the Ancients."

After a lot of discussion, it was decided that Adam would call Laurus. After he's spoken with Laurus, they didn't have any new answers. Laurus hadn't known what world he was on. The Ancients had told his people that it was a secret world. The Ancients strictly controlled the Gate there.

With the vague information that Laurus could supply, it was decided that Adam would dial the coordinates and they would see what they found. Hammond ordered his soldiers to secure the Gate room and he sent in a M.A.L.P. unit.

When everyone was in position, Methos thought about the first Gate and this time, expected the vibrations as the Gate began to dial.

Eight Chevrons were Encoded and Locked before the Gate exploded into being. SG-1 looked at each other knowingly. The Eighth Chevron was for worlds outside of their galaxy. The M.A.L.P. was sent through the Gate and within minutes they were receiving telemetry.

The M.A.L.P. was in a very large room. The room was empty of all equipment and looked like it had been for some time. The only thing remaining in the room was a pedestal placed near the Gate. The M.A.L.P. was directed to the pedestal and they could just barely make out some characters on its surface.

"Daniel can you read it?" Jack asked. Daniel shook his head and looked over to Adam.

Methos nodded. "It's in the language of the Ancients. It says, 'see the universe through my eyes.'"

"Another library like the ones we've found before?" Jack asked.

"We should go and see it, maybe there's more to translate. On some of the other worlds that we've found Ancient artifacts on, there were touch activated sensors that triggered holograms and such." Daniel said.

"I agree Sir." Sam said.

"I've never seen this world before. I see no evidence of battle or Goa'uld weapons damage." Teal'c added.

"What do you think Colonel?" General Hammond asked.

"It's worth a peek General. Pierson?" Jack said turning to the Immortal still staring intensely at the M.A.L.P. telemetry.

"It's the room I remember, I'd like to see it first hand if I may. Once there, I might remember my way around."

General Hammond nodded. "Power down the M.A.L.P. and leave it there. Close the Gate and we'll dial back in at 0600 tomorrow. If the M.A.L.P. shows no changes, SG-1 and guest are authorized to go through the Gate." Hammond nodded to the others and left the room. Hammond was worried about sending Pierson through the Gate. He'd promised that Pierson wasn't a prisoner and if he denied the Immortal access to the Gate, it might be considered captivity. If it were a trap, Earth would lose an irreplaceable resource. He'd have to give O'Neill special instructions and make sure Pierson had a special GDO (Garage Door Opener) before he walked through the Gate. They had to risk it of they were to find clues to the Ancients or even the Ancients themselves. General Hammond went to his office to call the President.

Jack called SG-1 and Pierson together and they developed a mission plan. Methos was excited about the opportunity to go through the Gate. He didn't remember much about his first trip; he'd been groggy from waking up. He remembered that it was cold, and he'd been happy just to stand in the very hot desert sun before they were loaded onto the waiting shuttles.

With their mission plan set, Jack adjourned the meeting and everyone left to try and get some sleep. Methos went up to the surface and stared at the sun setting behind the Mountain.

"Beautiful isn't it?" Jack said from behind him.

Methos nodded and looked at Jack knowing he hadn't followed him up here to admire the sunset.

"Are you going to be okay with this trip? It's not bringing back flashbacks or anything is it?" Jack asked. He remembered that Pierson had been traumatized when he'd first remembered the Complex. As a good commander, he wanted to know what to expect from every member of his Team.

"No, I only remember the Gate room. I remember being dizzy but excited about going to my new home."

That's good. Just to make sure, I'm going to have Daniel and Sam stick with you when we go through the Gate. If you need to come back you let us know." Jack added trying to sound concerned without sounding patronizing.

Rather than argue with Jack, Methos just nodded. Like the SG-1 had to earn his trust by actions, he had to earn theirs by his actions in the field. "I was going to ask if I'd be armed, I've not carried weapons with me around the base here, but I am nervous about going out without some kind of weapon." Methos told Jack.

"I'll talk to the General, either way the rest of us will be armed."

"If you don't mind, I'd feel more comfortable with a weapon of my own."

*****

The next morning Methos dressed in the camouflage utility uniforms that were supplied to him by a soldier when he woke. Included with the uniform was a .45 revolver and holster and a k-bar knife. Methos took this as permission to carry weapons, and after he was dressed, he secreted his throwing daggers and his short sword on his body.

Looking at the clock, Methos hurried to the Gate room. Jack and Teal'c were ready and waiting, but Daniel and Samantha were still missing. Methos smiled as he stood at the foot of the Gate ramp with Jack and Teal'c while they waited.

"Do you remember how to do this?" Jack asked.

Methos nodded. "I just walk through. I remember being cold and dizzy, but I was just waking up so I don't know if I'm remembering it right."

"You're remembering it right. Just remember to step up as you step through or you'll end up on your face on the other side." Jack cautioned.

Methos nodded with a smile. "I'll remember that, I like my nose the way it is."

Jack looked at the door as Sam and Daniel hurried through, followed by several squads of soldiers. "It's about time kids. Let's get this show on the road."

The soldiers placed themselves in defensive positions around the Gate and the members of SG-1 looked up at the control room. The technician watching them began to type, setting the address. They all felt the vibrations as the Stargate outer ring began to turn. It became clear in just a few moments that the Chevrons weren't engaging.

"What's going on?" Jack asked.

"I don't know Sir, I have the address from the last time we dialed, but the Chevron's just aren't engaging. Everything checks out okay." The technician called.

Samantha looked over to Adam. "What if it can only be dialed with the power of the Ancients?"

Jack looked over at Adam and nodded.

Methos looked at Jack and then turned to look at the Gate. Concentrating, he thought about the Ancient's Gate room. Within seconds, the first Chevron engaged and locked. Soon all of the eight Chevrons' were locked and the Gate burst out. When the ring settled back, Jack stepped up the ramp to the Stargate. "Daniel and Carter, stay close to Pierson, he's our ticket back. Let's go kids, we haven't got all day."

Jack stepped into the Gate and was gone. Daniel and Sam formed up to the front and rear of Methos and the three walked up the ramp. Daniel stepped through and was gone. Methos took a deep breath before he too stepped up and into the Gate. He instantly felt cold and his eyes were nearly overwhelmed by the swirling, twisting light trail that was the Stargate. Methos felt a tug and he was staggering out of the Gate and into the room he'd been in millennia before.

Daniel reached out a hand and pulled him gently away from the Gate. Methos followed and they walked over to Jack and the M.A.L.P. as Sam and Teal'c stepped out of the Gate.

Jack reached over and keyed his radio. "SG-1 all present and accounted for. It looks pretty empty over here. We'll take a look around and check back in five hours."

"Very well Colonel. Keep an eye on our guest." Hammond said before the Gate shut off.

Jack looked over at Pierson and Daniel intently studying the pedestal. General Hammond had been very explicit about Pierson's safety. At the first sign of trouble, Jack was to send Pierson back through the Gate, unconscious if he had to!

Jack and Teal'c checked the room while the others studied the pedestal they'd seen through the M.A.L.P.'s telemetry.

"I don't see any writing on it other than just that one message." Daniel said. "Maybe we need to touch it."

"Hold off Daniel." Jack said from across the room. "Sam, see anything that looks like a power source?"

"No sir." Sam said having circled the pedestal with Daniel and Adam. "Pierson, does it look familiar to you?"

Methos shook his head. "It wasn't here the last time I was here."

"You have any idea what it might be?" Jack asked Pierson.

Methos looked at the pedestal. "I'd say it was a sign post."

Jack cocked his head sarcastically. Methos rolled his eyes and continued. "I think I should touch it and see if it does anything, like the keypad at the Complex."

"Let's check out the rest of the place before we mess with that, just in case it's a trap." Jack said.

Daniel protested but Jack insisted. The group spread out with Adam in the center and they began their search of the Ancient's world. The building was empty, no devices to be found but the pedestal in the Gate room.

Methos vaguely recognized the building. He was able to lead the team through the corridors to the control room. Once there, they were able to activate a monitor that allowed them to view the very empty corridors and rooms. The monitor showed labs stripped of equipment and empty hanger bays. They switched the views to external views. "It's a moon, no chance of anyone surviving out there without life support." Sam said.

"Looks like no one's home. Guess that just leaves the thing in the Gate room." Jack said disappointed. It had only taken them an hour to investigate the rest of the building. They headed back to the Gate room.

"Let's do this then. Teal'c first, then Daniel, then you." Before anyone could speak Jack continued. "If it's an Ancient's device, it won't do anything for Teal'c. Daniel's next just in case it's keyed to anything human. You're last because you might be our only way home."

Methos was going to argue with Jack's reasoning, but saw the determined look in his eyes. He nodded and they all stepped further away from the device at Jack's signal. Teal'c calmly stepped forward and faced the writing. He reached out a hand slowly and touched the device. When it did nothing, he slid his hand over the surfaces. Still nothing happened.

"That's good Teal'c. Now we know it won't work for Jaffa or Goa'uld, which is a good thing. Go ahead Daniel." Jack said.

Teal'c stepped aside and Daniel placed both hands on the device. When it remained unchanged, he spoke a few words in several different languages. Still it remained non-reactive.

With a heavy sigh, Jack nodded to Pierson. "Are you sure you want to do this? It could be a trap."

Methos nodded and stepped forward, putting a hand on the device. He was immediately hit by a bolt of energy, and thrown across the room where he crashed heavily into the wall. His body slid down and slumped where he landed. SG-1 rushed over to his body. "He's dead Sir." A shocked Carter said.

"Damn. What the hell happened?" Jack asked Carter.

"I guess it was a trap after all. That looked like a laser." Sam said looking at the pedestal.

In a few moments Methos gasped and rolled over onto his side, holding his chest until the pain receded. "Damn that hurt!" He mumbled and opened his eyes. He blinked at the look of shock on the faces of his teammates. "What? I'm Immortal." He said as he sat up.

"Knowing and believing are two different things. You okay Pierson?" Jack said as he offered his hand to pull Pierson up.

Methos nodded and took Jack's offered hand. He forced the smirk off his face while making a show of dusting off his clothes.

"So what was that? A booby trap?" Daniel asked.

"No. A test. It's safe for me to touch it now." Methos said as he headed back to the pedestal.

"Now hold on a minute Pierson..." Jack started.

"I'll be fine." Methos said without stopping. He was at the pedestal and had his hands on it before Jack or the others could stop him. When his hands rested on the pedestal this time, it glowed. The glow spread up Methos' arms until it completely covered his body. He closed his eyes to block out the brightness.

"Pierson!" Jack shouted.

"I'm fine Colonel. It's downloading data. Don't touch me though, or you might get shocked." Methos said as he sensed Jack reaching for him.

"Downloading what exactly?" Jack said angrily. Damn but Pierson was tough to protect when he refused to listen to orders!

"A history lesson, more Stargate addresses, and what seems to be a few clues that might lead us to the Ancients." Methos said with a grin.

*****

Half an hour after their return through the Stargate had them seated around the conference table being debriefed by General Hammond. Methos looked down sheepishly as Jack glared at him and recounted the blast of energy that had killed him momentarily.

General Hammond looked over at Pierson and cleared his throat. "Son, you are our guest on this side of the Gate. On that side of the Gate you will do whatever Colonel O'Neill or any of his team instructs you to do. Is that clear?" The General said emphatically. "I am holding them responsible for your safety, don't make it any harder on them than it already is."

Methos nodded. "I'm sorry General Hammond, and to the rest of you, but I knew it was safe for me to touch after it hit me."

"All the same, do you understand my orders?" General Hammond said hoping he wouldn't have to refuse Pierson his next request to go through the Gate for his own safety.

"I understand and I'll follow their instructions." Methos said realizing with pleasure that they were concerned for his safety.

"Now that that's out of the way, what exactly did the pedestal tell you?" Hammond asked.

Methos settled into his story telling mode and began. "The marker was placed there for an Immortal, that was the point of the blast, to discourage anyone from trying it a second time. It was keyed to only download to one of the Alpha Immortals. The Ancient Prime put it there to give whichever one of us came looking, a brief history lesson."

Methos glanced around the room to see what their expressions were. Daniel and Samantha were intrigued and leaning forward in their seats. Teal'c sat stoically and Jack and General Hammond sat expectantly, hoping for some great mystery to be revealed.

"You probably know this, but the Ancients are an old and long lived Race. They were quite a force in the Universe. They kept themselves busy with technological advances, the politics of the other Races and exploration. You've only seen a little of their technology; the Gates were just a simple tool to them. Along with the other advanced Races, they kept a kind of order to the Universe. One of their passions was seeding planets with Life forms, not always humanoid either. Perhaps the Goa'uld got their idea of seeding planets from the Ancients."

"But as time went on, they found themselves getting bored and lethargic as hundreds of thousands of years passed. Many of the Ancients began to study and meditate, to evolve into a higher form of life, no longer needing bodies or emotions. Those that tried were successful, becoming beings of pure energy. Still many of the Ancients stayed, finding a purpose with their technology, politics or 'children'."

"Even before I was created, there were only a few Ancients left, the rest had already chosen to evolve. They'd noticed the Goa'uld gaining power, in ways that the Ancients didn't approve of. The remaining Ancients had become concerned with what would happen to the rest of the Universe when the last of them chose to evolve. Fearing for their children, they began to collect up their more advanced technology that had been lying around the Universe and secreted it away. They began to put safeguards in place to slow down the Goa'uld infestation. They tasked the other advanced Races with preserving the more primitive planets and they implemented more direct methods of protection. Immortals were the protection for Earth."

"So the pedestal was just a 'Kilroy was here' sign?" Jack asked. He had to admit to himself that he was a little bit disappointed in the Ancients.

"More like a, 'Follow the signs if you want to find me' sign." Methos said with a grin.

"So he's leading you right to where he is." General Hammond summarized.

Methos nodded. "The message was intended exclusively for the Alpha Immortals." Methos reminded them. "The pedestal and probably the other markers he left, will only work for me."

"Do you have the next Stargate address picked out?" Hammond asked.

Methos nodded. First I want to cross-reference the Stargate addresses I got from the pedestal. See if the address has come up on any of your lists. It might be a dead end or the stepping stone to the next clue."

"Do it. Get back with me as soon as you're ready." With that, Hammond adjourned the meeting.

*****

Methos was working on his laptop in the mess hall when the members of SG-1 joined him. He looked up from the screen and smiled. Jack set a fresh cup of coffee in front of the Immortal and sat directly across from him. "Translating the Dictionary into Tok'ra?"

Methos looked puzzled. "What's a Tok'ra?"

"Friendly Goa'ulds, or so they claim. They appeared out in the Universe after you were born. You'll get to meet them soon enough, the General just heard that they're on their way. They somehow heard about our field trip to the Mother planet and want all the exciting details."

"Not from me. I didn't agree to chat it up with every friendly Alien in the universe."

"My thoughts exactly, but we have to make nice anyway, the Tok'ra claim to be our allies. Carter's dad is even one of them now."

Methos looked over at Carter and raised an eyebrow.

"It was a couple of years ago..." Carter began as she told the story of finding the rebel Goa'ulds that called themselves Tok'ra, her dad dying of cancer and being saved by becoming a host to a Goa'uld named Selmak.

The warning Klaxon signaling an incoming Gate traveler brought the story to an end. "That'll be the Tok'ra." Jack said flatly. "They're nothing if not determined."

SG-1 looked at each other and headed for the Gate room. Methos sighed and closed down his laptop. Cataloging the new Stargate Addresses he'd gotten from the pedestal and cross referencing them with the addresses already in the SGC computer, would be a better use of his time than meeting with the 'friendly' Goa'ulds. Methos had no intention of sharing this information with them directly. If Hammond and the others decided to share, it was up to them. He personally wanted to reach the Ancients before any of the other Races did; he had some questions he wanted answers to!

Methos tucked the laptop under his arm and headed for the Gate room to wait with the others.

By the time Methos had arrived though, the Tok'ra were already there and talking with General Hammond and SG-1. Methos could tell there were Goa'uld in the room and it made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and his stomach turn.

"Here he is now Dad. Jacob Carter meet Dr. Adam Pierson, the new linguist on our team." Carter said.

Methos stood back, hesitating to shake Jacob Carter's outstretched hand. Reluctantly he took the offered hand. "Nothing personal Mr. Carter, I'm just not comfortable with the idea of the Tok'ra."

"You've heard of us then?" Jacob asked looking at Hammond and his daughter.

"Just enough to know that you carry a Goa'uld symbiot." Methos said.

"I see." Jacob said raising an eyebrow. He would be having a talk with Hammond about O'Neill's prejudices against the Tok'ra as soon as he possibly could. "Dr. Pierson, this is one of our leading scientists, Dr. Anise."

Methos took her offered hand a little faster but as reluctantly. General Hammond turned and led the group to the briefing room. Sam took this chance to talk quietly with her father, Anise walked with Daniel. Methos and Jack bringing up the rear.

"What's the matter Pierson?" Jack asked curious at the reluctance that Pierson had displayed. His comments in the mess hall shouldn't have gendered this kind of reaction from the Immortal.

"They feel exactly like I remember Ra feeling. It sends shivers up my spine! Teal'c doesn't feel nearly this unsettling; he's rather like the feeling I get when I know I'm being stared at. I'll be all right in a minute or two."

Jack nodded. The Tok'ra did that to him and he couldn't even feel them! Jack had noticed the look that Jacob had given Hammond and made a point of whispering Pierson's confession to the General before the meeting got started. Best to let Hammond have all the details before Jacob starting fussing.

Methos sat as far from the Tok'ra as he could. Luckily, SG-1 had instinctively placed themselves between him and the Tok'ra.

"Let's get this started. Jacob." General Hammond began.

"We hear through the grapevine that you've found one of the lost worlds of the Ancients. We'd like to be involved in your explorations." Jacob began.

"And just who is your source?" Jack asked not liking the idea of a mole in the SGC passing information on to the Tok'ra.

Not liking the idea of revealing the source of the information, but understanding the problems if SGC thought that someone here at the base was talking, Jacob admitted his source. Damage control was the best he could do. "One of the members of SG-12 mentioned it to one of our scientists on PZ1137. They passed it back to the Tok'ra High Council as an item of interest."

Jack made a promise to himself to give those gossiping scientists on PZ1137 and SG-12 an earful when they did their weekly check-in with the SGC in the next few days.

"So is it true? We'd very much like to be involved. We want to find the Ancients as much as you do, and our technology would make the search a lot easier and faster." Jacob offered.

"In other words, you want us to give you the address so you can use your advanced technology, instead of loaning it to us so we can search." Jack said sarcastically.

"Jack, we've explained before why we can't give you our technology." Jacob said trying to keep his voice steady and calm. This meeting was too important to play to Jack's favorite complaints.

"Giving you the address won't do you any good." General Hammond began.

Methos interrupted before Hammond could tell the Tok'ra about him. "It takes a special tool created by the Ancients to transmit the address." And this wasn't exactly a lie, he was a tool of the Ancients.

General Hammond took Pierson's lead. "The address won't dial in without it, believe me we've tried."

"If we could study the device, perhaps we could duplicate it." Anise spoke. "For reasons of safety, it should be duplicated, if at all possible."

"It can't be duplicated and it's a rather sensitive subject, one that we're not willing to discuss. Or negotiate." General Hammond said firmly. "We would be willing to take you to the world we've found and let you check it out for yourselves. Provided of course, that you share anything you find with Earth." Hammond said. SG-1 had assured him that there was nothing on the world to find now that the pedestal had downloaded its data to Pierson. Pierson had agreed, saying it was just a hunk of metal now that the data was in his head.

Jack smiled at Pierson. "I'm game." He would enjoy watching the Tok'ra waste their time searching that empty rock. It would serve them right to be the ones left in the dark for a change.

Jacob smiled. "We accept your generous offer. Shall we meet here at this time tomorrow? I assume you'll want to dial out from here?"

General Hammond nodded. "Tomorrow it is." General Hammond excused SG-1 while he talked with Jacob and Anise about the Tok'ra team that would be going.

Pierson caught up with Sam as soon as they were outside of the briefing room. "Can you rig up some kind of a gadget that looks impressive, enough to fool the Tok'ra into thinking it's the 'special tool' of the Ancients? I don't want them to know that it's me dialing the Gate."

Sam nodded with a smile. "I can do that. I'll give it lots of lights, I think I have some of the crystal we discovered on PX3139 that reacts to emotions."

Jack laughed, "Ah yes, the mood crystals! They work better than mood rings used to!"

Methos laughed. The crystals would certainly react if he had to stand next to the Tok'ra when he dialed the Gate.

The next morning, they were all standing in the Gate room when the Tok'ra sent their signal to drop the Gate's iris.

"Are you ready Dr. Pierson?" General Hammond asked. Pierson nodded. "Do you think that thing will fool the Tok'ra?" He indicated the small bracelet that he and Major Carter had put together the night before.

Pierson had displayed an impressive jewelry making talent and molded a very ornate looking, twisting golden bird that wrapped around the wearer's wrist. In the belly of the bird was a round receptacle that they'd created a faceplate for. Inside they'd put in some of the mood reacting crystals from one of SG-1's earlier missions. Pretty but useless things, but they'd hoped it would be enough to convince the Tok'ra that it was an Alien device.

"That looks ancient Egyptian." Daniel commented looking at the gadget they'd decided he would wear. They wanted to keep the Tok'ra's attention as far away from Pierson as they could and imply that the user had to be human, which the Tok'ra weren't.

Methos grinned. "I was the Royal Jewelry Maker for the Pharaoh Ahmose I. Some of my work is still around. Some of it is even in museums." Methos said with a grin, knowing Daniel would want to know more but the warning Klaxon prevented his questions.

"You did that on purpose didn't you?" Daniel said frustrated.

"I did. But I promise to tell you the story if you can convince the Tok'ra that it's you and that trinket that are dialing the Gate."

"Deal." Daniel said, motivated for his friend's safety and the telling of the story from someone who'd been around in 1400 BC.

Methos felt the shivers in his spine the instant Jacob stepped onto the Gate ramp. Dr. Anise was with him, but this time they were followed by several other Tok'ra carrying boxes of equipment.

Methos took several deep breaths to still the adrenalin that raced through his body in the presence of so many Goa'uld.

Jack noticed Pierson's breathing and called the group to order. "Listen up everyone. Tok'ra off the ramp and over to that side." He said pointing. "SG-1 here with me. General are we Go for PZ6591?"

At Hammond's "Good to Go." Jack looked over at Daniel, "Daniel dial up the Gate."

Daniel nodded and pulled up his coat sleeve to reveal the faux bracelet. He moved his fingers over the crystals so they would light up. As he did this, Methos thought up the first Gate he remembered. The room quickly vibrated with the Gate's outer ring spinning to the coordinates in his mind.

Jack cleared his throat to cover his amusement when he noticed the Tok'ra staring at the Gate intently as they memorized the address as the Chevron's locked.

"Chevron Eight Locked!" The technician called.

"Contact us in five hours Colonel O'Neill." General Hammond ordered.

"Let's go. Daniel and Sam first, then the Tok'ra. Teal'c and Pierson you're with me." Jack let the others step into the Gate before he gave a jaunty salute to General Hammond at the Command Center windows. "Pierson, you're sure that pedestal thing is empty now right?" Jack asked as they walked up the ramp and into the Gate.

On the other side of the Gate Methos answered the question. "Positive."

Jack saw that Anise had Daniel cornered and was asking to see the bracelet. "Pierson, why don't you go save Daniel and take another look around the control room. You can keep an eye on the Tok'ra with those monitors we saw last time."

Pierson nodded and quickly extricated Daniel from Anise's company. The two men wandered off in the direction of the control room. Jack nodded to Anise and Jacob as they walked to join the two Tok'ra that were investigating the pedestal. Jack and Teal'c kept their eye on the Tok'ra in the Gate room. He knew that Daniel and Pierson would watch the Tok'ra that went wandering.

Sam joined him and whispered, "Don't you feel just a little bit guilty about sending them on this wild goose chase?"

"Nope. Just paying them back for the hundreds of times they've done it to us. Besides, it isn't a wild goose chase. The address and the world are real."

Sam just looked at him. "Is it our fault the movie is already out on video?" Jack argued.

By the time the five hours was up, and Daniel dialed home again, the Tok'ra realized that there was nothing left on this Ancient's base.

Jacob walked up behind Jack as the Colonel watched Daniel dial home using the device on his wrist. Wanting to appear to be sharing information and cooperating with the SGC Jacob said, "Our techs say the pedestal was once a data receptacle, but it appears to be empty or malfunctioning. We tried every way we could think of to activate it."

"We told you that Jacob."

"Daniel said that he didn't translate the writing on the Pedestal, Dr. Pierson did."

Jack nodded. "Pierson's a whiz at dead languages, he has an instinct for them. He's helped Daniel a few times when we needed it."

"He's kind of young to be given top secret clearance like the Gate." Jacob said, hoping to draw Jack into disclosing more about the linguist. Selmak his symbiot was telling him there was something different about the young man.

"Old enough." Seeing that the Gate had opened a wormhole, Jack turned to Jacob. "Anything else you want to look at or are we good to go?"

"There's nothing here." Jacob said. The Tok'ra gathered together and walked through the Gate back to Earth.

*****

Methos was in the mess hall the next day trying to finish his Gate address cross-referencing. Daniel joined him, sitting down across from him.

"Sam's convinced that the Tok'ra believe that the bracelet dialed the Gate. Her dad tried to get her to tell him where we'd gotten it and what she knew about its technology so far."

Methos nodded. "Good. Now I've got an idea of the next address we should try..." Before he could finish his thought, Methos felt a change in the link in his Quickening. Since he'd linked with all of the Immortals, Methos had begun to feel slight changes when something was happening to one of 'his' Immortals. He focused all of his attention on the link and followed it to its source.

"Adam? Are you alright?" Daniel asked alarmed at the sudden change on Adam's face.

Methos was silent for another minute before he smiled and answered Daniel. "I have to go. Can you let the General and O'Neill know?"

"Why Adam? What's wrong?" Daniel insisted.

"I'm going to be a father soon. The mother just started labor."

By the time Methos had packed a few things into his duffle bag and was heading for the surface, the rest of SG-1 and General Hammond met him.

"What's this about being a Dad?" Jack asked.

Not really wanting to tell them the details of his personal life, Methos hesitated. On the other hand, he'd be making this trip next month when the second child was born. Better to give them a little information rather than none at all. "I've been a father thousands of times over the years. This is just the first time in millennia that I knew about it. There's another one due next month."

"How'd Laurus talk you into that?" Jack demanded thinking that the Alien had taken advantage of Pierson after he'd been kidnapped by the NID.

"Actually it was Amanda. She's tough to say 'No' to. Caitlin, the woman I was with in New Mexico, offered to be the surrogate mother. I'll see you in a few days." With that, Methos got into a jeep and drove to the hanger hiding his shuttle. In a matter of minutes he was cloaked and in the air. He was landing at the Complex when Caitlin's contractions got closer together.

Just in time! He thought to himself and hurried to the medical center. Laurus looked up as he walked in the door.

"Adam! I'm glad you could make it. How did you know?" Laurus asked.

"I just had a feeling it was time to visit." Methos said getting excited about the impending birth. He took the hand Caitlin reached towards him.

"Hi Dad. I'm glad you could make it." She said pleased at the sight of him. Although he'd called several times a week during her pregnancy, she'd missed him terribly. She knew that her feelings had somehow gone past the point of just being affection for the father of her child.

"I wouldn't miss it. I've delivered many babies in my time, but never any of my own."

Caitlin had a contraction and Methos spent the next several hours talking her through them. By the fifth hour, his son was born. Methos grinned widely as he held the small infant in his arms. "It's a boy Caitlin, we have a son."

Methos had known the child was a boy, but he'd kept that secret to himself. He didn't want Laurus or anyone to know that he'd sent regular mental hugs to his two un-born children, and felt their minds through the link he had with all Immortals now. He knew the child that Linda carried was a boy as well.

Methos lay the child in Caitlin's arms and kissed her forehead as she cried tears of joy. "He's so beautiful!" She exclaimed. "He looks just like his Daddy. Look at that dark hair and long fingers."

Methos felt Linda's arrival through the child she carried. He looked over his shoulder and smiled at the woman standing in the doorway.

"Are you up to visitors for a few minutes?" She asked.

Caitlin laughed and nodded. "Linda, come and see him. He's beautiful!"

Linda smiled and kissed Adam's cheek before she looked at the baby in Caitlin's arms. Caitlin offered her son to Linda to hold and Linda happily took him.

Methos smiled at the beautiful picture the two mothers made, staring lovingly at the newborn. There wasn't a trace of jealousy anywhere on either woman's face.

Linda held the beautiful baby boy closely before she kissed his precious head and handed him back to Caitlin. "He's beautiful. You get some rest now, I'll stop by again when you wake up." Linda stroked Caitlin's forehead gently and turned. Caitlin was closing her eyes already.

Linda slid her hand affectionately down Adam's arm. "I'm glad you could make it in time. I know it meant a lot to her."

Methos gently squeezed the hand that rested on his arm. "I'll be here for you too."

Linda smiled, pleased at his promise. She knew that Adam felt less comfortable around her than he did Caitlin. She understood and refused to let it bother her. Nevertheless, it did feel good that he took the time to call her as often as he did Caitlin, and seemed genuinely concerned that they were doing fine. It was a wonderful feeling to be cared about by someone as compassionate as Adam.

Linda left with the smile making her face glow.

Methos moved to take the child from the sleeping Caitlin's arms. He lay the baby down in a bassinet next to the bed and tucked the blankets in gently.

"Why don't you go and call Amanda while we finish up in here. Since this will be Caitlin's only Immortal child, we'll return her body back to normal when we take the afterbirth. She's going to be Amanda's nanny for a year before she returns to school. Amanda's excited to have her staying with them; they've become quiet good friends.

Methos nodded. He'd talked to the three women several times a week. He wanted to make sure that they were all handling this comfortably. Methos chuckled as he left the room to call Amanda. They'd all been fine the entire experience; Methos had been the only nervous wreck!

Amanda was ecstatic when he called her. She was going to call Mac and Joe right away and meet them on the roof of Mac's dojo where Methos had told her he'd pick her up in his shuttle. Amanda couldn't say thank you enough so Methos finally used his Parent voice on her and told her to hang up and call the Highlander. Amanda just laughed and did as he told her.



Joe, Mac and Methos visited while Amanda held her adopted son. Caitlin was awake and feeling great, so proud of her son.

Mac looked at the two ecstatic women. "I wasn't sure of this when Amanda first told me what she'd talked you into, but the happiness in Amanda's face makes it clear that it was the right thing to do. I can't wait until I can have one of my own."

Laurus spoke up. "Both Caitlin and Linda have offered to have a second child by Adam. I must confess to being tempted to let them, but I just can't overlook the guidelines of the project after all these years. Immortals can't have children by one another so inbreeding isn't an issue, but the Ancients were very specific that the Immortals shouldn't be full blood brother or sister to each other."

Methos let his refreshed database memory give him the reason. "Because Immortals are genetically created, there wouldn't be enough of a difference in the children, they would be like clones of each other." He didn't mention that his link to the 'clone' children would be too difficult for him to differentiate. He'd lose track of them both. It was the individuality that allowed his brain to keep track of them.

Laurus nodded. "That makes sense. Thank you. It was never explained in the records."

*****

Laurus found Adam in the medical center hours after everyone else had gone to sleep. He was sitting in a rocking chair he'd brought in from the nursery. Holding his son and rocking, he presented a very nurturing picture to the Alien.

Methos glanced up when he felt Laurus coming. He was finding it distracting feeling so many Aliens, Teal'c and the Tok'ra at the SGC and all of the Asgard-Asunde's here. He nodded at the Alien and continued rocking.

"You're very good with children." Laurus said quietly.

"Don't I seem the type?" Methos replied sarcastically before he realized Laurus hadn't meant it that way. He continued by way of an apology. "I've been married sixty-nine times, many of them had children before I married them."

"I meant no offense. You were just so elusive, we rarely found out anything personal about you. In our ignorance, we kept the adults separate from the children when you were here. It's a shame that we learned so much so late."

Methos looked up at Laurus hearing the difference in his voice.

"You're leaving." Methos stated.

"After Linda's child is born. I'll miss this world, but we have no reason to remain. The project has collapsed and the humans aren't comfortable with us remaining unless we're working for them."

Methos smiled ruefully and shook his head. "I've spent so many years afraid of the nightmares I had from my involuntary visit here, and now I can't imagine you not being here."

"I have enjoyed our time together as well. I only wish I'd done it when we first arrived. I've missed out on knowing and learning so much from you children of the Ancients."

"The past is the past. What will you do now?"

"We'll return home. My agents have all returned from the field and the equipment we're taking with us has been packed. I'll be locking up the Complex and keying it so that only you may enter. I think it should be yours to use as you see fit. MacLeod tells me you have secret safe houses all over the world. This will certainly be the safest place in the world with its security system."

"What about Linda's child?"

"Linda has asked to raise the child. Since it is one of yours, she wants to raise it where you can visit. After it's born, she'll follow MacLeod back to Seacouver. She can take up her teaching studies at the University there."

Methos nodded. "And the equipment to alter mortal women?"

Laurus smiled. He was glad that Adam was asking about it, perhaps the Immortal race he'd spent thousands of years raising wouldn't be lost. "I'm leaving it here. Also keyed for your use. I had hoped that you might spread the word among the Immortals and more of them might come forward like Amanda or perhaps as they mature. It will be within your power to keep the Immortal Race from extinction."

Methos fell silent, feeling the weight of his responsibility.

"May I ask after you with my Asgard cousins?" Laurus asked, changing the subject. He'd grown very fond of this Alpha.

Methos nodded with a smile. "Where shall I send your Christmas card?"

"I'll leave the Stargate address in the Complex computer for you."

"I'll be returning to SGC tomorrow, but I'll be back when Linda is ready to have the baby."

Laurus nodded and left the room.

Methos lay in his quarters that night and tried to come up with a way to keep the Immortals from extinction. Finally exhausted, he fell into a deep sleep.

*****

The next morning, Methos said his goodbyes and was soon back at SGC. He'd dropped his stuff back in his quarters and returned to the surface to think. He was sitting with his back to a tree and facing the wilderness when Jack joined him.

"Rough trip?" Jack asked. "I'd heard you were back."

Methos nodded. "Mother and son are doing fine. It's just hard to leave them."

"Yeah. That was the hardest part for me too." Jack volunteered.

"You have a child?" Methos asked.

Jack nodded. "I did. He died almost eight years ago. I still miss him, and regret all the times I was on missions instead of with him. I always thought I'd have time. Weekends and summers, who knew?"

"I'm sorry. It's hard to lose them. I've lost so many over the years, Mortal as well as Immortal. And each and every time it hurts like the first time." Methos said quietly.

"So what brings you out to stare at the mountain?" Jack asked trying to lighten the mood.

"Pondering what I can do about the Immortal Race or if I should do anything at all." Methos said quietly not looking at Jack.

Jack sat down heavily beside Pierson. "You don't think light thoughts do you?"

Methos chuckled. "Laurus is returning to his home world. That means the Immortal children born this year are the last of their kind unless I do something."

"You could carry on Laurus' work, not to build an army but to contribute to the Immortals."

"But should I? We've had to hide what we are since man outgrew the worship of Godly powers. We've been hunted and killed for just being different. Do I have the right to try and continue a Race that isn't even welcome on it's own world?"

"Yes. You have the right and the obligation. The Ancients created something unique and special, it's not for you to end it. Immortals are a species, an intelligent life form that deserves the right to live and grow, just like us mortals. And even without all that pro-life stuff, Immortals saved the planet from the Goa'uld. They've more than paid for their right to claim membership on this planet."

"Jack! Adam!" Both men turned at the sound of their names. It was Daniel jogging towards them.

"Hey guys. General Hammond said you were back Adam. Are you ready to start working on the next Stargate address?"

Methos smiled. Back to work as usual.

General Hammond insisted that they send the M.A.L.P. through first. After reviewing the transmissions, they would then decide if they would go through the Gate. Methos and SG-1 stood before the Gate and waited for the control room to dial up the address Methos had given them. And as the first Gate address had done, it wouldn't engage and lock until Methos set the Gate going. After the address was locked, the M.A.L.P. went into the Gate stream.

On the other side, the M.A.L.P. rolled into a large room made of fitted stonework. They could see from the incoming telemetry, that there were many corridors that led away from the Gate room on the other side.

Seeing no danger or damage, and reading a human friendly environment, they stepped through the Gate with a command to check in with SGC in five hours.

Methos looked around at the fortress of stone. Open archways led to covered walkways and empty stone gardens. He felt a faint hum of power coming from the East of where they stood. "There's a power source in that direction." He said pointing.

"Okay, but I want to know what's here before we walk away from the Gate." O'Neill said firmly.

Methos nodded at the logic. He had agreed to follow orders on this side of the Gate.

In pairs, they systematically walked around and explored the Gate room before deciding that there was nothing of interest there. As a group, they began to search the corridors only to find that the fortress was very much like a summer palace, empty of furniture and objects. After peeking out one of the windows, Daniel found a path that led into a stone garden. He quickly called the others to him. "There's nothing in here Jack. I think we need to follow the path, it's the only thing leading out of here and it's in the direction that Adam was pointing earlier."

Jack nodded realizing that they were running out of time. "Guess this is where we follow the Yellow Brick road. Carter, Daniel, Pierson, me then Teal'c. Got it?"

They nodded. Cautiously Carter started down the path, followed by the others in the order that Jack had specified. They walked for nearly a mile through winding and decorative paths before they came to an open gazebo type building. "Sir." She said stopping.

"That's where the power is coming from." Methos said.

They all stopped at the open vaulted doorway leading into the building. On the support posts they saw some glowing symbols.

"Adam can you read it?" Daniel asked. Although he was studying the Ancient's language with Adam, this was something new.

"It says, 'Walk as one with me'." Methos said.



"Okay, careful everyone." Jack said and took the first step into the room. Slowly the group stepped into the building. From his position in the middle of the group, Methos felt an energy build up even before the walls began to glow. "Get out! It's powering up to do something!" He shouted to the others remembering the shock he'd taken from the pedestal that had killed him. Hearing the alarm in his voice, they hurried out of the room. Cautiously they peeked back in.

"Pierson?" Jack asked.

Seeing that the glow had dimmed, and feeling the energy level receding Methos said, "The walls say, 'Walk as one with me'. Since the Ancients were Immortal too, it must be meant for me. Let me try going in there first. If it kills me, you know to stay out."

Jack thought about it for a moment. Finally nodding when Pierson reminded him that it was the reason they were there.

When Methos stepped into the gazebo, the glow and the energy built up again. He continued walking to the middle of the room to give SG-1 room to run away if they had to. As before, the message was intended for an Alpha Immortal. Standing in the middle of the glowing room, Methos felt the power concentrating as the glow increased. Suddenly he was inundated with the energy that poured from floor and ceiling of the building and into him.

After several minutes, the building went dark. Methos stood quietly, letting the power settle.

"Pierson! You okay?" Jack shouted.

Methos opened eyes he hadn't realized he'd closed. He turned towards the doorway he'd come in and stepped out of the now empty building.

"So?" Jack asked.

Methos rubbed his eyes. "That was a lot of data."

"What did it say this time?" Daniel asked, curious.

"It picked up the history of the Ancients where the pedestal left off. It added addresses and some Gate technology. I can improve the dialing time and lock down the Gate connection for longer than the thirty-eight minutes we have now. There was even a power source that I think Major Carter will be interested in."

"Is that all?" Jack asked sarcastically.

"It's enough that the Prime is still leaving a trail. I think we can go now. This marker is empty." Methos said.

"Shall we bring the Tok'ra back in the interest of sharing information?" Daniel asked.

"Only if they say Please." Jack said with a grin.

*****

Seeing how exhausted Pierson looked when they'd returned through the Gate, General Hammond had delayed the mission debriefing for several hours so he could rest if he wished.

Methos had quickly sketched out the basics of the power source and gone to his quarters to rest. He'd been asleep for about four hours when he felt something in the Immortal Quickening link. He scanned the link until he found the source of the ripple, the Highlander.

MacLeod? What's up?

Methos? I was just thinking of you.

I know. What's up?

How'd you do that?

MacLeod! I'm trying to sleep. What did you want?

Sorry Meth...wait a minute, it's only six at night. What are you doing sleeping?

I just got back on world a few hours ago. Tell me what you wanted or I'm going back to sleep!

Grouchy old man! I was wondering if I could tell Gina and Robert about Immortals having children. Amanda says they were very excited for her and wanted to know more. She didn't want to say anything without talking with you first.

Methos thought for a moment before he replied. Give me a couple of hours and I'll talk with everyone at once.

What are you going to say?

Right now, I'm saying goodbye MacLeod... Methos thought and closed down the link. He chuckled to himself at the indignant feelings the Highlander was sending down the link. Methos sent a mental hug to all his Immortals before he rose from the bed. He wouldn't be able to go back to sleep now, he might as well get up and get the debriefing over with.

Major Carter was enthusiastically telling General Hammond about the possible uses of the power source Pierson had drawn.

"You're looking better Pierson." Jack said.

"This download was more powerful than the last." Methos said, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Well since everyone is here, why don't we get started?" General Hammond said.

When everyone had been seated, Jack began with the mission report.

"But why did the message say, 'Walk as one with me?' You didn't go anywhere but the building." Daniel asked.

"The Stargate addresses I got this time were places that the Prime had gone personally. They were presented as if I were walking with him when he made the trips. The technology that I received was also his. It almost felt like he was there with me, explaining why it was okay to give the technology to you. I could feel what he was feeling."

The room was silent for a moment after that.

"You think he's still alive?" Daniel asked.

Methos nodded. "I know it."

*****

After the debriefing, Methos returned to his quarters and sprawled onto the bed. Remembering his earlier conversation with MacLeod, he composed his thoughts. He wanted to tell them the history of Immortals without mentioning the Stargate, Aliens or being able to go off world. After a few minutes, he had his thoughts in order.

Lying back in his bed, he relaxed and found his focus. Very quickly he had activated his link with all the Immortals. Sending mental hugs and reassurances he began his story. He told them about the four original Immortals called Alphas and that he was sadly the last of the Alphas because of the Game. He explained what their original purpose had been to protect the Earth. That they'd been successful at it and he reinforced that with the feel of the enemy (he sent the feel of a Goa'uld through the link).

He told them that after that battle, they'd lost their purpose and become lost themselves. That they needed to find a new purpose in peace. That he was looking for a purpose for himself and all of them. He was searching for the answers to where they had come from and directions for their future. He'd felt some of their frustrations with hiding on the fringes of society. He couldn't take them with him on his search for the truth but they would be with him through the link.

Lastly, he talked about Immortal fertility and procreation. He told them that there had been several Immortal children born within the last decade, but that their numbers were shrinking. He sent an email address if any of the Immortals wanted more information. Methos sent another hug and closed the link. Feeling like he was operating a singles club or late night sex show, Methos went to take a shower before bed.

After Methos' 'talk' with the Immortals using the link, Duncan had talked to several of his Immortal friends, telling them how Amanda had gotten her Immortal son. Without giving Methos' name, he went into more details than Methos had. None of his interested friends were even close to two thousand years old. When asked, he told his friends that it had been Amanda's great grandfather that sired this child, but no more details than that. Soon his friends are asking how they might find out more. MacLeod gave them the email address.

*****

It wasn't a surprise to SG-1 when several days after their return, the Tok'ra contacted the SGC requesting permission to come and talk about the next expedition to search for the Ancients. Authorizing their visit, Hammond ordered the iris opened. The General had his aide notify SG-1 and Dr. Pierson that the Tok'ra were on their way.

Jacob and Anise stepped down from the Gate ramp and were led to the conference room. After everyone was seated, Jacob jumped right to the point. "We hear your last trip through the Gate was successful, you have the drawings for a new power source?"

Jack met General Hammond's eyes for a moment before he said, "How is it you guys know when we've been through the Gate?"

"Not everyone has your opinion of the Tok'ra Jack, we are your allies." Jacob said carefully avoiding an answer to the question.

There was going to be an immediate moratorium on conversations with off world teams and the Tok'ra, Jack solemnly swore!

Before the conversation could erupt into an argument, General Hammond spoke up. "In the interest of continuing good relations with the Tok'ra, we're prepared to take you to the most recent world we've discovered Ancient evidence on."

"We'd prefer to go on your next excursion when you go, rather than after you return." Jacob said.

Methos caught General Hammond's eyes and gave a slight negative shake of his head. General Hammond continued smoothly. "I'm sorry. That's not negotiable. Earth has recently been granted access to some of the Ancient's technology. The offer can be revoked at any time if miss-used or abused. That offer doesn't extend to the Tok'ra. Although the Tok'ra are our allies, we aren't going to jeopardize our access to the technology. There's too much at stake. We may share portions of the data, but at our convenience and discretion."

Anise noted the exchange.

"We can help and it would save time George." Jacob protested.

"Correct me if I'm wrong here Jacob, but the Tok'ra haven't found anything of use at the last site." General Hammond said.

"What exactly are you helping us with again? How are you saving us time? We seem to be doing just fine on our own." Jack said sarcastically.

Before Jacob and Anise could protest, Hammond added, "We're still willing to take you to the second world we found if you think you might learn something."

Jacob nodded. "We'd appreciate what you're willing to share." His glare silenced Anise when she would have protested.

As Jacob and Anise waited for the Gate to dial up, Anise whispered to Jacob, "General Hammond and the others kept looking to Dr. Pierson for instructions or confirmations. I don't feel the presence of a Goa'uld but there's something different about Dr. Pierson. Could SGC be under his control?"

Jacob thought about it for a moment. "I don't think so, Sam is acting normally. Maybe it's time to talk to the Asgard. They've been able to influence Hammond and O'Neill when no one else could."

SG-1 watched the Tok'ra from the upper Control Room windows. "They're suspicious." Jack said quietly.

"Yes they are. I can feel it." Methos said without thinking. When he felt O'Neill's stare he looked over at the Colonel. "My senses are still tingling from the last download. My skin is practically crawling from being in the same room with them."

"Maybe you need some down time before we go on the next mission." O'Neill said appraising the tired man beside him.

Methos nodded.

"I could take them through the Gate and let them look around, then at a prearranged time, you dial up the Gate for me and we come back. As long as we do this right, they won't suspect anything." Daniel offered.

Methos nodded. "I dial up the Gate after they get here, and again after five hours. We'll have to make sure we watch the time closely. They'll notice if you put on a show to open the Gate and I'm too early or too late."

"We could set our watches to go off at the same time. I pretend to dial when the alarm goes off." Daniel said.

"It sounds like a plan to me." General Hammond said. "I'll have the rest of SG-1 stand down if you're sure you don't mind Dr. Jackson?"

"No, I don't mind at all. I've been meaning to catch up on my journaling. I'll just keep an eye on them while they're there."

*****

Early the next morning, Methos found Daniel standing in the Gate room before the Tok'ra arrived. They synchronized their watches to go off in five hours. Before he left, Methos looked Daniel in the eye. "Thank you Daniel. I hope they don't spend your journaling time trying to pressure you for answers."

"I'm practicing the word 'No'. Jack says I don't use it enough." Daniel chuckled. "I'll be very convincing."

Methos smiled and walked from the room before the Tok'ra arrived. From the Control Room windows he watched as they arrived and when everyone was ready, he nodded to Daniel. Daniel went through the motions with his bracelet and Methos dialed the Gate.

"See you in five hours Dr. Jackson, Jacob." General Hammond said into the microphone.

*****

It was only three hours later when Methos felt the link he'd given to Daniel change. He quickly dialed up the Gate and ran towards the Gate room.

"What's happening? Daniel's dialing home early? How is the Gate working?" Sam asked the room in general.

Methos stopped his headlong rush as he topped the stairs into the room. "I dialed the Gate, I heard Daniel."

"What?" Asked Jack.

"When I talked with Daniel this morning, I created a link with the bracelet he was wearing. It was to warn me when Daniel thought that he wanted to dial the Gate home. I was worried the Tok'ra would pull something like this."

"Something like what?" Jack asked suspicious.

"Test Daniel to see if he was really dialing the Gate. They probably finished early so that they would be done before the five hours was up. They'd know Daniel would have trouble explaining why he didn't dial up SGC anytime he wanted, they know he has a GDO, they have one too."

"Damn! I didn't consider that." General Hammond said.

"How did you know Daniel wanted to dial home? You said something about a link?" Samantha asked.

"I created a link with the bracelet. I told it to tell me when Daniel activated the crystals, like he was using it. Just in case, I set it to only react when he thought 'dial home'."

"Did Daniel know you did that?" Samantha asked. "Isn't it unethical to put the link there without his permission?"

"I wasn't tromping around in his mind. I put a mental string to the bracelet and when the desired thought triggered it, it vibrated back to me. The only thing it was meant to do was let me know when Daniel thought the key words."

The Gate stopped dialing, all the Chevron's locked. Within minutes, the Tok'ra were stepping down into the Gate room followed by a relieved looking Daniel.

After the Gate was re-set and the Tok'ra returned to their base, Daniel sighed in relief. "That was close! How'd you know to dial the Gate? I didn't think I could pull this one off."

"I left a mental link with you when I talked with you this morning." Methos said.

"Good thing you did too!" Daniel said.

"You're not upset?" Methos asked. Daniel didn't look the least bit upset, but he thought he'd better ask for Sam's sake. He wanted SG-1 to trust him.

"No. I think we should test this out a little more. Think about it, you didn't need to have the Gate opened to get the message. None of our equipment can do that! We have to have the Gate opened to send a signal."

Samantha nodded and looked at Pierson differently. "You didn't need the Gate?"

"No. The link doesn't work that way. I can talk with my ...children even when I'm off world." Methos caught himself before he said 'Immortals'. They weren't alone in the room.

General Hammond picked up on Pierson's hesitation immediately. "Let's take this into the conference room. Everyone, this conversation just became Top Secret. Discussion of it other than at my direction will be treated as Treason. Understood?"

Everyone in the room nodded and responded with a, 'Yes Sir!'" They'd all heard that the Tok'ra were hearing secrets from someone.

Inside the conference room Daniel asked, "Is the link still there? Can I call you any time I want?"

Methos chuckled. "It was gone as soon as it did its job."

Daniel was disappointed. He liked the idea of having an instant line of communication with Adam.

*****

Despite General Hammond's moratorium of conversations with the Tok'ra, people far from home still need to talk about something. Secretly, the Tok'ra began to question any SGC member they met off world about the doings of SG-1. Even though the SG teams and scientist were close lipped and careful, the Tok'ra agents still got hints and glimpses of how involved Dr. Adam Pierson was in the daily events of SGC and SG-1.

As they listened to the reports from the field, Jacob and Selmak agreed that there was more to Dr. Adam Pierson than they were being told.

*****

It had been several weeks and Methos was almost ready with the next address when he felt Linda going into Labor. As he had before, he let SG-1 know where he was going before he left SGC and flew to the Complex. Linda's labor was over quickly, this being her second child.



While he was visiting with a recovering Linda, she explained her plans to move to Seacouver and raise their son. She was planning on registering for school when the baby was a year old. MacLeod had offered to help and be there for her, without any motives other than friendship. Methos was glad that she was going to get help but curious about why she wanted to transplant to somewhere that he called home.

Methos said his goodbyes to Laurus as well. Laurus and the last of his staff had only been waiting for Linda to give birth to return to their home world. When she left for Seacouver, they would take all the shuttles but Methos' and leave. During Methos' visit, he was shown how to operate the equipment, including the things needed to alter mortal women.

Methos left knowing that he would miss Laurus. The Alien represented a part of his past that he wasn't ready to give up yet. When Linda was ready to travel, Methos flew her to Seacouver and delivered her to an apartment convenient to Joe's and MacLeod's that he had quickly arranged. Fully stocked with furniture and groceries, and with a comfortable trust account, he hugged her and gave her his cell phone number before leaving her in Joe and MacLeod's capable hands. He returned to the SGC and put the final steps into selecting the next Gate address.

*****

"Ancient Macedonian, around 900 B.C. I think." Daniel said looking at some of the artifacts around the Gate. This was the first world on their trail of the Ancients that appeared to be inhabited. They'd sent the M.A.L.P. through earlier in the day and seen evidence of people in the form of flowers and food offerings around the Gate. In the distance, the smoke from cook fires could be seen.

The M.A.L.P. had made a mess of the Gate steps when it came through and now Daniel was setting the offering bowls back to order and out of the way of the Gate. "No point in making them angry." Daniel said defensively when Jack stared meaningfully at him.

Methos chuckled. "Daniel's right, we don't want to scoff at their Gods."

"Lets get going campers, we only have five hours." Jack said as he started for the distant cook fires.

Methos enjoyed the walk in the balmy climate. The landscape reminded him of Greece in many ways. Along the trail they saw markers leading them towards the human population.

"Were you ever there? Macedonia I mean." Daniel asked as they walked along the trail.

Methos nodded. "Many times over the centuries. After the Romans conquered it, I wandered back with them. Rome was the place to be back then."

"Did you ever meet any of the famous Greeks? Homer, Socrates, Alexander, Archimedes?"

Methos nodded again. "Homer wasn't one man, 'he' was really five poets who used their initials to write under. And Socrates was a sweet old man who couldn't hold onto money, had to constantly take in students to make ends meet. No one could stand his wife, she was a horrible harpy! I served as an advisor in Alexander's Army while he was conquering most of the civilized world. He was really torn up about his army turning on him the way they did." Methos said frowning. "He didn't really die of Malaria though, he was poisoned, I know because it killed me too."

"You knew Alexander the Great." Jack said blandly, not sure if he should believe the Immortal or not. He'd certainly been around at the time.

"Yep. He found out what I was and liked the idea of having someone that couldn't be killed as his right hand."

"So how'd they poison him then?" Jack asked.

"Slow acting poison. By the time I'd realized what they'd done it was too late. I had to leave for a couple of centuries. I got back there just as they were trying to make a deal with Rome. I tried to talk them out of it but they wouldn't listen."

Before Daniel could ask any more questions they'd reached the outskirts of the village. They were spotted by several of the villagers who were curious but not needlessly alarmed. Taking that as a good sign, they continued into the village.

"Why aren't they reacting?" Jack asked quietly.

"The Gate is inaccessible to the Goa'uld." Teal'c said calmly. The others knew that meant that this world hadn't been subjected to slave runs or tithes for the false Gods.

"The only exposure they've had with travelers would be from natives of this world or the Ancients." Sam added.

The group stopped at a busy market place. Looking around they saw a small group of three older men approaching, their clothing and jewelry indicative of early Macedonia.

The eldest of the three men, a white haired, thin man greeted them. Daniel looked over to Adam when he couldn't figure out what the man was saying. Adam nodded and replied to the old man. They talked for a few minutes before Adam pointed to each of the members of SG-1 in turn and spoke their names.

"What are they talking about?" Jack whispered to Daniel.

"I have no idea. I can pick out a word or two but this language was lost during the Dark Ages, when writing was lost so we have no examples of it." Daniel whispered back.

Methos heard Jack and Daniel whispering. He turned to SG-1 and explained what they were saying. "They asked who we were, I told them travelers from far away. Because of our clothing, they asked if we'd come through the "Ring of the Wise Ones'. Apparently they've been told stories of travelers that had the magic to operate the Gate. I've told them yes and given them our names. They've welcomed us to their village."

Jack nodded. "Well thank them politely for the hospitality, but we have an ancient marker to look for."

Methos nodded and turned to the village elders. After a moment, the village elder nodded and started to speak again when a frantically calling woman running towards them interrupted them.

"What's going on?" Jack asked, tensing along with the others at the call of the woman.

"She's asking what's she's to do. Apparently her father is ill and the village healer is a day's walk up the valley." Methos asked a few questions of the village elders and the frantic woman.

The village elder gestured at the woman and turned to follow her back the way she'd come. Methos turned to Jack and the others. "I asked to take a look at her father. I've been a medical doctor before."

Jack nodded and as a group, they followed the villagers. They stopped at a small house in the merchant's portion of town just outside of the market. Jack nodded and followed Pierson into the house with a, 'keep an eye out' to the rest of SG-1. The villagers may be friendly but Jack was cautious by nature.

For nearly ten minutes, Pierson examined the patient and asked questions of the daughter. Finally he spoke to Jack in English. "Its appendicitis. I can operate but it's definitely not the cleanest or safest conditions."

"Are they going to want to kill you if something goes wrong and the old man dies?" Jack asked, worried. He wanted to help but he didn't want to risk their lives if the man couldn't be saved.

Pierson talked with the village elders for several minutes before turning back to Jack. "I told them I had training in the ways of healing and magic but I couldn't use my magic unless the village was willing to accept that sometimes the Gods would not be denied. The elder and the daughter are okay with that. Apparently their religion supports the philosophy that it's okay to pray to save someone's life, but sometimes the Gods have other plans. It's up to you Jack. The surgery will take me a couple of hours and I'll need to stay overnight to watch for complications."

"Can he wait until the healer comes back?" Jack asked hoping that would be the case and they wouldn't have to get involved.

Pierson shook his head No. Jack sighed. "Do your magic then. Do you need anything from SGC? I have to call and tell them we'll be late."

Methos shook his head again. "I can't wait. I'll dial up the Gate and you can radio from here. We can check in with them late tomorrow morning, I should know by then if he's going to be alright."

Jack nodded, "Give me a minute." Jack said and stepped out of the house to tell the others what was going on. In a few minutes he stepped back inside. He waited until Pierson had finished giving the daughter instructions on what he wanted her to do to prepare for the surgery.

"Okay, dial up the Gate, we'll all be staying overnight."

Methos nodded and looked in the direction of the Gate. Looking towards the Gate wasn't necessary, but it helped him concentrate when the rest of his mind was refreshing himself on the steps of the surgical procedure he was going to be performing.

Methos spoke. "The Gate's open."

They were too far away to tell if the Gate was open or not, but Jack trusted Pierson in this. Jack spoke into his radio and was immediately answered. He explained the situation to General Hammond who'd been worried at the Gate dialing in without SG-1's GDO code being transmitted. With instructions to be careful, General Hammond ended the transmission after setting a time to check back in the next day.

Jack left Pierson to his preparations and joined the others outside.

"Jack, can I walk around and observe while Adam is doing the surgery? This is a tremendous opportunity..."

"Enough Daniel, go ahead - explore. Just be careful. Stay in radio contact." Jack sighed at the question in Sam's eyes. "You too Carter."

Jack looked over at Teal'c when the scientists headed eagerly off into the village. "I believe I will check the village for weapons and defendable positions."

Jack nodded. "Okay, I guess I'll just hold down the fort." He watched as the big Jaffa walked off with a purposeful stride.

In a few minutes, Jack ended up helping Pierson with the surgery, handing the Immortal instruments when he asked for them and wiping away blood when asked.

Good thing I'm not queasy around blood he thought. Jack could easily believe that this man had been a doctor many times. While getting ready, Pierson had spoken firmly but gently to the daughter, keeping her calm and getting what he needed. When he had what he wanted, he'd told everyone but Jack to leave so he could perform his 'magic'.

Jack watched Pierson performing the delicate surgery with the few instruments they'd carried in their first aid kits. Now he was sewing up the patient with quick and practiced motions.

"You're very good at that." Jack said as Pierson checked the stitches and began to wash his hands in a nearby bowl.

Methos looked up at Jack and replied, "I've had a few lifetimes of practice." He said.

"Practice has nothing to do with being good at it and everything to do with compassion and skill. Those things you either have or you don't." Jack said wondering why the Immortal would belittle himself.

Methos waved the daughter back into the house and spoke a few words to her. He stepped outside the house and they both headed for a stone bench set in the shade of a tree nearby. "There was a time when I had no compassion. I destroyed everything that crossed my path. It took me a long time to grow out of it."

"I was in Black Ops." Jack said not believing that Pierson could have done anything as bad as that. He didn't even want to think of all the slaves and prisoners that had been on the Mother ships he'd destroyed to protect Earth.

Methos continued. "I'd just escaped from the Complex after being on the run for thousands of years. They kept me drugged and in a cell for years and I never even knew why. When I escaped, I took it out on everyone I met."

"Laurus said you'd been injured." Jack said quietly.

"Not enough to justify becoming a scourge of biblical proportions."

"Pretty bad huh?" Jack asked as they watched Daniel, Samantha and Teal'c approaching.

Methos nodded. "Rated a place in the Bible. Revelations 6:8."

Daniel heard this last part. " 'And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.' That's one of the many versions of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. What about it?" Daniel asked wondering what they were talking about.

Methos considered a moment before he answered. If they were going to continue on this path they were on, they needed to hear the truth from him. "They were real and I was one of them, four angry Immortals taking out our rage on the rest of the world. I was the pale rider, Death on a horse."

They were silent for several minutes while they each digested this news. Methos decided to give them the rest of the story, the part that MacLeod hadn't waited for before condemning Methos. "I rode with the Horsemen for nearly a thousand years before I sicken even myself. I broke away from them and fled to Europe. I've spent the last two millennia trying to make amends for my crimes. I expect I'll need a few more millennia to just pay off the interest I owe."

He looked away from his friends and watched some children playing in the street nearby. And he did think of them as his friends now. He'd spent months getting to know them, and they him. He enjoyed their company and would dearly miss them if this disintegrated any trust they might have in him.

"For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. That was a long time ago Adam. That's not the man I knew years ago, or the man I know now." Daniel said.

Teal'c blinked stoically. He'd seen worse while in the service of the false God Apophis. A man should be judged on his current actions and not his past. The SGC had given him a chance to fight against the false Gods, never judging him on what he had done as Apophis' Prime.

Samantha looked at the man on the bench in front of her. His face was emotionless, but it was obvious in his eyes that what he had been still disgusted him. The scientist in her added up the facts and weighed the possibilities, and she weighed Adam Pierson as a good man. She smiled and sat beside him, gently bumping his shoulder with hers. He looked at her in surprise.

Jack was remembering the death of his son Charlie. He'd blamed himself for leaving a loaded weapon where Charlie could get to it. He'd planned on killing himself with that same gun when the Air Force had shown up and called him back to active duty with the SGC. He'd been insane with pain and guilt, and at the time he'd only had the blood of a few hundred on his hands. What suffering must Pierson be going through to still have it hurt him after thousands of years? O'Neill knew this was a confession that Pierson was making. He trusted them with this secret part of his life. They would need to trust each other if they were going to continue to search for the Ancients. Pierson was taking a tremendous amount of power into himself. He obviously wanted them to be aware that he'd had that kind of power over life and death before and had turned away from it. Jack nodded. "Got it, Death on a Horse. You still have to follow my orders on this side of the Gate. And I'm ordering you to talk us up something to eat and a place to sleep"

Methos looked at his friend's quiet acceptance with a smile that reflected his surprise, joy and gratitude.

*****

After a few questions about getting some food and shelter, the village elders quickly called a feast to welcome the travelers. They were sitting at the head table with the village elders after eating, when the village Story Teller stood to demonstrate his art. Methos quietly translated as the Story Teller spoke. He told of a story passed down through the generations of a local cave with one of the stars held captive. A powerful warrior would someday come and take the star back into the heavens.

SG-1 looked at each other with knowing eyes. It sounded like this was the Ancient's marker they were looking for. Methos asked for more details and the directions to the cave. He thanked the village for their hospitality by telling them a story from their world. The audience was enthralled by his rendition. Once he explained to his friends what story he was telling, they amused themselves by hearing Harry Potter as told in ancient Macedonian.

The next morning, Methos checked his patient once more before they left to find the cave. He'd sat by the patient's bedside and monitored him throughout the night. The patient was doing fine with no sign of a fever or infection.

For as long as the village had been there, people had gone to look into the cave and see the glittering star on a rock pedestal. It was a test of childhood daring to walk up to the entrance and look in, but no one had ever been able to get any closer than the entrance. When SG-1 arrived at the cave, they could see what had the villagers so enthralled. Inside the cave and on a rock pedestal, sat a round crystal with a strange glow inside its center. It's glow reflecting a light that lit up the cave walls.

"I'm getting an energy reading on the cave entrance sir, it looks like some kind of force field." Carter said after scanning the entrance.

Methos stepped closer. "Careful Pierson." Jack warned.

"If this is what we're looking for, it's meant for me." Methos said. He put his hand up towards the cave entrance. He could feel a tingling in his Quickening as his hands came into contact with the force field.

When Daniel saw that Adam's hand was blocked, he reached up to feel the force field for himself. "It's just like touching a solid wall."

"Does it tingle against your hand?" Methos asked.

Daniel shook his head No.

Since his Quickening was reacting to it, Methos was sure it was a test for him. "I'm going to try something, careful Daniel." Methos closed his eyes and put both hands on the force field. He visualized himself walking into the cave, similar to the way that he visualized the Stargate addresses in his mind.

He felt the tingle change to a caress and he took a couple of steps, pushing forward and into the force field. Daniel stepped to follow but was prevented from entering the cave with Adam.

After several steps, Methos opened his eyes and saw that he was inside the cave. He looked around the cave before looking at the others at the cave entrance. "I don't see anything but the crystal."

"Be careful Pierson, if it kills you we'll never get you out of there." Jack grumbled, getting nervous about Pierson being on the wrong side of the force field.

Methos nodded and walked closer to the crystal.

"Any markings?" Daniel asked, dying with curiosity.

"Just an inscription on the flat of the stone. It says, 'The Universe is within you.'"

"What could that mean?" Jack asks.

"Well sir, the first inscription read, 'See the Universe through my eyes' and Adam got more Stargate addresses. The second one said, 'Walk as one with me' and he got a tour and technology downloads."

"Maybe a universal language, like we found on Ernest's world." Daniel said

Methos shrugged. "We'll never know unless I touch it."

Methos waited until Jack nodded before he touched the stone. At his touch it glowed brighter until it filled the cave with its brilliance. With the glow came a rush of power and more data downloads. Methos sank to his knees after the download and rested for a moment.

"Pierson?" Methos heard. He sighed and stood. "I'm alright. I didn't get much sleep last night and these markers wipe me out."

"What did you get this time?" Samantha asked enthusiastically.

"More Gate addresses, languages like Daniel thought and some medical technology. I wonder ...?" Methos thought before discarding the idea that the appendectomy was planned. Methos reached over and picked up the crystal. He slid it into his pocket and headed for the cave entrance. He bumped his head before realizing that the force field was still intact. Sheepishly grinning, Methos repeated the actions to get him into the cave now to get himself out. As soon as he stepped outside the cave, he felt the force field dissipate. "Figures!" He grumbled to himself.

"That's it?" Jack asked sarcastically. "You'd think the wise and wonderful Ancients could do better than that.

Methos chuckled. "Besides making the clues and data something that only I can get to? The stone is a key. I just have to figure out where the door is."

They checked on their patient one last time before returning through the Gate.

*****

The Tok'ra were at the SGC when they returned. Un-noticed by anyone, Anise secretly scanned SG-1 as they stepped down the ramp and were greeted by General Hammond.

"Out on another scouting mission?" Jacob asked.

Methos had been holding the stone in his hand to see if it reacted to his activating the Gate, upon seeing the Tok'ra; he slipped it discretely into his pocket.

Anise quietly stepped to Jacob's side and whispered to him when she'd scanned each of the travelers.

"As a matter of fact we have been. Our ever-amazing Dr. Pierson performed an emergency appendectomy. The patient is fine if anyone's interested."

"Our instruments say that there is a high energy reading coming from Dr. Pierson." Anise's symbiot spoke.

"Want to explain what's really going on?" Jacob said crossing his arms as if talking to an unruly child.

"No." Methos said firmly. "I didn't give my permission to be scanned by the Tok'ra. That makes you hostiles in my book." He quickly left the Gate room followed by Daniel and Teal'c. Samantha glared at her father before following the others.

"What in the hell are you playing at Jacob?" Jack shouted.

"This isn't a game Jack, we want to know what's going on. We can't get to any of the Gate locations you seem to dial up easily. And we don't buy that bracelet being the source. Besides the fact that the power that it outputs is almost too small to read, you're not even wearing it!"

"Since when do we have to tell you everything we do Jacob? The Tok'ra don't feel the slightest bit obligated to share with us, what makes you think we should tell you a Damn thing?" Jack said angrily.

"Gentlemen, let's take this into the debriefing room." General Hammond said.

Jacob and Anise followed as General Hammond and Jack led the way.

"Jacob, I agree with Jack on this one. The Tok'ra have been our allies but certainly not very generous with their knowledge. What makes you believe we should feel inclined to share what we learn before we've had a chance to look it over?"

"You're out of your league here George. We just want to make sure you don't get in over your heads. We can help."

"And that's why you can't get the Gate to work for you." Jack snarled.

All eyes turned to the door as the rest of SG-1 entered the room.

Methos had been angry when he'd stormed out of the Gate room. It had taken Daniel and Sam several minutes to reassure him that General Hammond would take care of it. This done, they joined the others in the debriefing room.

"Good, you're here. You can all hear what I've got to say. First of all, and we've talked about this before, we aren't going to jeopardize our access to the Ancient's technology. Secondly, it won't do you any good to continue to ask, we are not taking you along on these missions. SG-1 are the only ones that have been entrusted with this search. Lastly, the Tok'ra are not authorized to spy on or otherwise run tests on any of our people. Am I understood?" General Hammond said with steel in his voice and eyes.

"George we're only trying to prevent you from making a mistake that could affect the entire galaxy."

"The data is in very capable and trustworthy hands." General Hammond said honestly and somewhat proudly.

"Will you at least tell us what's going on?" Jacob tried again.

Methos focused on Jacob, trying to feel his intentions. He could sense that Jacob's worry was a real concern and not jealousy or conceit. Jacob must still have some feelings for the planet of his birth despite having been one of the Tok'ra for several years now.

"Perhaps later." Methos spoke. General Hammond nodded at Methos' decision.

*****

Needing a little down time after the last mission, Methos checked himself off base and flew his shuttle to Seacouver to visit with his friends there. He walked into Joe's and spotted the bartender wiping the bar's already immaculate surface.

"Hey buddy." Methos said as he stepped inside the door.

"Hey yourself!" Joe said enthusiastically. "What brings you to our small part of the universe?"

"Just taking a break." Methos said slipping onto a bar stool and accepting the beer Joe had drawn for him.

"Congratulations by the way. Two good looking boys, you must be proud." Joe grinned and poured himself a glass of scotch.

"I am." Methos said with a grin. After he'd taken a drink of his beer he spoke again. "You know Laurus went home."

Joe nodded. "I heard. But I decided that our branch of the Watchers had always been about observing and recording the history, they didn't need to know about the original purpose."

Methos nodded. "What do you think about it?" Joe asked.

"I haven't' decided yet. He left me the keys to the house, in case I needed it."

"I hope you do decide to make use of it. I mean, I'd like for my ancestor's ancestors to still have new Immortals to observe and record."

"It's just so..."

"Impersonal? Clinical? Dehumanizing?" Joe said with a serious look.

Methos nodded and took a quick drink of his beer.

"Caitlin and Linda didn't think so. Linda even volunteered twice. I think if you looked, you could find plenty of good reasons to make more people happy like that."

Methos said nothing and drank his beer.

"Speaking of Watchers." Joe said watching Methos carefully for a reaction. "Our friends wondered what happened to you. They had a man on you when you were kidnapped. I managed to convince them that it had nothing to do with Watcher business, but they still want to see you. Hear your version of it."

Damn! Methos thought. He didn't need the Watchers following him around.

Methos hadn't finished his second beer before one of the Watcher Regional Directors walked into the bar. Methos immediately recognized her from the last meeting he'd had with the Watchers. She'd observed quietly while the rest of the Triumvirate had pressured him to expose Methos.

Emily Rowland's eyes widened as she recognized Adam Pierson. "Mr. Pierson." She said sitting on the bar stool next to him.

"Ms. Rowland." Methos said blandly. He sipped his beer without looking at her.

"The Triumvirate has been looking for you."

Methos nodded at Joe. "So Joe was just telling me. If I didn't expose Methos before, I'm not about to do it now."

"We were concerned at your abduction." Emily said as she accepted the glass of wine Joe put in front of her.

Methos nodded. Joe had said as much. "Not as much as I was until they explained it to me."

"And that was?" Emily said prodding him.

"You don't want to wait for the rest of the Triumvirate?" Methos asked sarcastically.

"Not a chance. You're too good at disappearing." Emily said with a smile. At least Pierson was talking to her. She wasn't kidding that they were worried he might have stayed gone despite his friendship with Joe.

"Must be the company I keep." Methos said with an impish grin on his face as he looked at Joe.

"The explanation?" Emily prompted again.

"Government witness protection program." Methos said calmly.

"Oh really?" Emily said with doubt in her voice.

Methos nodded and put on his most boyishly innocent face. "They're very good at what they do."

"Right. Then what are you doing back here?" Emily asked with a smirk. "And how did Joe know you were fine?"

Methos looked at Joe with a very rare and open expression on his face. "Because I have some very good friends that came looking for me." Taking the last drink of his beer he continued. "I came back when the group was apprehended. I can't say any more than that."

"So this had nothing to do with Immortals or Watchers or Methos?" Emily said in a commanding voice.

"How did Methos get into this?" Methos asked confused.

"The oldest Immortal surfaces after hundreds of years of silence. Think about it. His appearance brings world shaking events." Emily said frowning.

"What?" Methos asked still not following her reasoning.

"He disappears for centuries only to reappear when the Four Horsemen appear, and he not only re-surfaces, but he's one of them - Death no less! Then he disappears again before he can be seen and identified. If Cassandra's Watcher wasn't so adamant that Cassandra had seen him, we wouldn't know he'd surfaced. Then he shows himself to you and stops the Game. And I mean he really stops it. There haven't been any Challenges or Quickenings since you spoke with him. We have to admit we want to see and confirm that he's the legendary Methos. Research is going nuts, especially Dr. Zoll. She's dying to update the chronicles and you're the only one with the answers she needs. She was demanding an interview with you as soon as you surfaced."

Methos frowned. "Dr. Zoll can demand all she likes. As I recall she wanted me shot when I left the Watchers."

"Can you blame her? Until the Game ended, you were our biggest risk of exposure. Kalas may not have been the only evil Immortal that knew you were the Methos head researcher, MacLeod and his friends know about the Watchers, maybe they even know who you were in charge of researching."

"The Watchers seem to have forgotten that your responsibility is to observe and record..." Before Methos could finish his thoughts he sensed the presence of an Asgard-Asunde and something very similar. Methos stood and faced the door.

Joe and Emily looked at Adam's strange expression. Joe thought that Methos' reaction was unusual. Methos could hide feeling an Immortal 'buzz' better than anyone.

Emily stared at Pierson as he looked at the door and stood. If she didn't know better, she's say that was the reaction of an Immortal to another Immortal.

Methos smiled when he recognized Laurus coming in the door. Laurus was in his human form and had another similarly disguised Alien with him. "Laurus! What brings you back here? I thought you'd gone home."

Laurus patted Adam on the arm and said, "May we speak someplace more private?"

Joe waved the visitors towards his office. He watched as the three men walked into the back room and closed the door.

"Who's your friend Laurus, he feels similar to you." Methos said keeping his position closest to the door and letting the others take a seat in Joe's two office chairs.

"This is one of the Asgard, Thor. I believe Colonel O'Neill may have mentioned him.

Methos nodded. "What brings the Asgard and the Asgard-Asunde to Seacouver?"

"Thor requested special permission from the SGC to speak with you. I didn't think you'd mind. Daniel Jackson said that we might find you here." Both Laurus and his guest took their natural forms.

*****

Emily recognized one of the visitors as the most likely candidate to be Methos. The pictures of this man had been passed out to all Watchers with an imperative to find him. Pierson had called him Laurus, but that didn't mean anything. Pierson wasn't likely to make the mistake of using the name Methos in public! Emily quickly dialed her cell phone and spoke with her secretary.

Joe shrugged. He suspected that no one would be able to follow Laurus from the bar anyway. Joe's curiosity was running rampant. He wondered what had brought Laurus back. Methos had clearly been surprised to see him.

*****

Thor spoke as soon as the Immortal looked at him. "The Tok'ra have petitioned the Council of Races to intercede and get more information on your search for the Ancients. When Laurus heard this, he immediately sought my counsel." At the Immortal's cold look Thor continued. "We were not in support of the Tok'ra petition but we are curious as to what you may have found. That is if you're willing to share."

Methos glanced at Laurus who spoke. "I have explained the Ancient's project to only Thor. He has long been a friend to my people and yours."

Methos hesitated, "Why do you want to know if you're not supporting the Tok'ra petition?"

"We are curious. The search for the Ancients affects the rest of the Universe and we would like to monitor your search. Only monitor. The Ancients put great faith in the Tauri and in you. We'd heard rumors of your existence but the Ancients were gone without us ever knowing the truth."

Methos narrowed his eyes and 'felt' the truth in the Alien's words. He nodded and quietly and briefly described the clues they had been following that had been left for him. He was glad that Thor didn't ask about the technology that they had received with the clues. To him it confirmed that the Asgard had faith in the Earthlings or Tauri as the other Races called them.

*****

Joe waited impatiently while Methos used his office. When questioned by Emily, Joe had denied that Laurus was Methos and could honestly say he didn't know the other man. He knew vaguely why Methos had reacted to Laurus now, but he wasn't going to explain that to Emily when she asked. He pretended ignorance and promised to ask Adam later. Joe knew when Emily got a phone call, that the Watchers had probably sent a team to follow Adam and his two visitors.

It was nearly an hour before Methos and his visitors came out of his office. Methos walked them outside and bid them goodbye. He poked his head inside for only a second to shout his goodbye to Joe before he was gone.

*****

Methos returned to Joe's the next day and nearly turned around and left when he saw Joe arguing with Dr. Amy Zoll, his former boss and current replacement on the Methos chronicles.

Irritated he rolled his eyes. "Gods protect us from nosey Watchers!"

Amy Zoll recognized Adam as soon as he walked in the door. "Oh no you don't!" She shouted as she hurried to block his retreat. "You're going to answer some of my questions first."

"I'm not a Watcher anymore, as you well know. I'd have a bullet in my skull if you had your way." Methos snarled at the smaller woman.

"Pierson, I'm a Watcher, I have to know." Zoll demanded, before she narrowed her eyes at him. "I get it, you're using this as your ticket back into the Watchers. We threw you out for disappearing once too often and you want back in."

"I don't want back into the Watchers. I just want to be left alone."

"But Methos isn't in danger anymore. The Game has stopped. The history Methos has seen, the civilizations!"

"Amy let Adam be." Joe said firmly.

Angry at Dawson's siding with Pierson, Amy stomped to the exit. "This isn't over Pierson!" She slammed the door behind her when she left.

Joe looked at Methos. Before he could comment on Dr. Zoll's temper he gaped as Methos gasped and went as white as a sheet.

Methos felt the fear and the pain as it happened. He staggered to the nearest chair and fell into it, holding his head in his trembling hands. He cried out in pain when he felt the link sever. He dropped his head into his crossed arms and slumped down onto the table.

Joe hurried to Methos as fast as his prosthetic legs could take him. "What is it?" Joe said urgently, resting a hand on the weeping Immortal's shoulder.

"One of the Immortals just died." Methos said so softly Joe had to strain to hear him.

"Not one of the babies?" Joe said aghast.

Methos shook his head. "No. Trevor Swanson in Boston. He was decapitated in a car wreck."

Joe sat down heavily. "What's going on? You never felt any of them before."

"I haven't been linked to any of them for thousands of years. I'd forgotten that part, I could always feel them until the Quickening but Trevor won't be coming back."

"You going to be okay?" Joe asked Methos.

Methos wiped his eyes and sat up straighter. "Mac's on his way."

"How do you know?" Joe asked quietly. Was this the link Methos had shared with the Highlander since Bordeaux? Joe's Watcher curiosity over rode his normal control when it came to his Immortal friends.

"They all felt Trevor's death through the link. I couldn't control myself in time and broadcast it down the link. Mac's coming to ask what the hell just happened."

Sure enough, within minutes Methos looked at the door to watch the Highlander storm in. "What the hell was that?" Mac growled. "And how did I know you were here?" He asked in a more subdued voice when he saw Methos' face.

"When I broadcast, I gave away my location to every Immortal on the planet." Methos rubbed his face. "I used to be better at controlling myself but then, I never felt any of the Immortals permanently die before I killed the Beta Immortal and scrambled my brain. I'm too old for this shit." Methos mumbled.

"What happened Methos?" Mac asked.

"When I linked with all of the Immortals months ago, I created a bond between us. I could focus and find any of them anytime I wanted. That was part of the Ancient's design, to easily control them or call them when I wanted. It got scrambled until I linked up with them again. I'll feel every single Immortal death like this."

"I felt enough to know that someone had died." MacLeod said.

Methos nodded. "You'll know about it any time one of us dies. Through the link I have with you or until I take another Quickening and scramble it again." Methos rubbed at his face and rested his arms on the table again. Tiredly the ancient Immortal dropped his head onto his arms again.

MacLeod put a gentle hand on Methos' shoulder thinking he needed the consolation.

Joe watched as a peaceful look crossed Mac's face. Turning to Joe Mac asked, "Can he rest in your office?"

Joe nodded. "Come on Methos. Lie down for a while. I'll be right here when you wake up." Mac said.

Mac urged the ancient Immortal into Joe's office and waited until he lay on the couch. Mac closed the door behind himself when he was sure Methos was going to rest.

"Mac?" Joe asked.

"He linked with all of us and told us what happened, sent a mental hug. He must have felt it like it was his own death. He knew everything that had happened to Trevor. He didn't want anyone to worry that the Game had taken Trevor." Mac said softly.

"Will they believe him?" Joe asked worried.

"Yes. We believe. I can still feel his reassurances."

"Is it true that the Immortals all know where he is now?" Joe asked worried.

Mac nodded. "I just knew, don't ask me how. I can tell when he's gone and I feel a loss until he returns. It's like missing the sun and having it suddenly return."

"When he's gone? With Daniel and the others?" Joe asked carefully.

Mac shook his head No. "He's going off world."

Then Joe remembered the Stargate. "Is he safe out there?"

Mac nodded. "He could stop any or all of us Immortals with a thought. His power has increased a thousand fold since he's been going away. All of us can feel it, but it's - comforting rather than threatening. I haven't felt so safe since I was a child, I just knew then that my father wouldn't let anything happen to me. I feel like that now, like Methos won't let anything happen to us." Mac walked to a table. Joe joined him with a bottle of scotch and poured two glasses.

"Is he going to be okay? He didn't look so good when he felt the Immortal die." Joe said.

"He just needs a little time to get his emotional control back. He feels things so strongly, I had no idea."

"O'Neill called. I need to get back." Methos said surprising them. He was still pale but his face was an emotionless mask.

"Need any help?" Mac asked hoping to be invited.

"Not yet, but I'll bring it up with O'Neill. I just stopped by to visit and visiting hours are officially over now."

"Be careful, you're too important to lose." Mac said.

"Let me know if you need anything." Methos said with a light tap to his head. In a moment he was gone. A block away, Methos climbed to the roof of a nearby building and boarded his cloaked shuttle. In moments he was on his way to SGC.

Back at the SGC, Methos found Colonel O'Neill in his office. "What's up?"

"Good you're back. I wanted to go over the details of the next mission with you..."

Methos raised an eyebrow and leaned against the door with his arms crossed.

"Okay. The Tok'ra have been asking too many questions about you. We even had a visit from Thor."

"There were to be no restrictions on my comings or goings. I won't accept a prison of your making either." Methos said quietly but firmly.

"We have a deal and we'll stick to it. We were just thinking you might be safer here." He stopped making excuses at the continued blank look from Pierson. "I really did want to go over the mission. We have the M.A.L.P. ready whenever you are."

*****

On the Asgard ship, Thor sat at the council table and looked across at the Tok'ra High Council members sitting across from him. "We have reviewed your petition and spoken to the Tauri involved. We have determined that this is a planned evolution designed by the Ancients and will not intercede or allow you to interfere."

"What?" The Tok'ra High Councilwoman said in disbelief before her symbiot took over.

"We have spoken with our cousins the Asgard-Asunde who were involved with the Ancient's Prime when this project was initiated. We will say no more than this."

"How can you ignore this? This could destroy all of us."

"On the contrary, all evidence leads us to believe the project is proceeding on schedule and according to the Ancient's design. I'd suggest that you watch carefully and learn. This evolution should be a lesson well learned by the Tok'ra as well as the Tauri.

*****

Jacob and Anise sat with the Tok'ra High Council on their ship as they returned to one of the Tok'ra bases.

"What do we do now that the Council of Races have refused to act?" Jacob asked.

"I am not content to watch this unfold without us controlling the situation." The High Councilwoman said.

"But what can we do? We don't have any influence on the Tauri home world." Another Council member said.

Jacob spoke up. "We know that SGC has access to Stargate addresses that are unknown to us. We know they can somehow dial up those address when we can't. We know that each location that they've visited had a data crystal that was empty by the time we saw it. We know that Pierson is radiating more energy than any of the life forms we've seen. That the SGC is protective and secretive of Pierson and the missions they go on with him. We know they have come into the possession of Ancient's technology that we don't have and are able to assimilate it. And finally, we know that the Council of Races knows more than they're telling." Jacob continued at the nods of the other Council members. "I suggest we make a point of visiting SGC to get as much information as we can on Pierson."

*****

The next clue's world address was to a barren desolate place. On the horizon they saw an outcropping of rocks, the only visible landmark. They shrugged shoulders at each other and began their walk in that direction. It took them several hours to get to the outcropping where they quickly noticed a cave in the rock face. As there was at the last world, there was a force field at the cave entrance.

Methos wondered why there would be a force field here. If it had been a test, he'd passed it when he'd been able to pass through the field on the other world by 'visualizing' himself walking through it. Nervous about why this should seem so easy, Methos cautioned the others as they drew near the entrance. Methos easily felt the power of the force field, and as he had before, easily walked through it. Once inside, he followed the natural tunnel into a larger room that had an otherworldly illumination about it. "I should have grabbed your video camera Daniel." He called to the others, now out of sight. "There's writing on the walls, the lettering is what's lighting up the cave."

"What does it say?" Daniel asked frustrated that he couldn't see.

"Its more of the Ancient's history..." Methos said as he pulled out the crystal. He looked for something that might need a key. As he quickly read the walls and looked for a keyhole, the crystal began to glow.

"Um, Adam. Why is it getting brighter in there?" Daniel said.

Methos looked down at the crystal in his hand. As he began to raise his hand, he felt the air charge with electricity. His hand clenched around the crystal as he was assaulted by waves of immense energy emanating from every direction.

The energy blasting at him hurt like hell, but he was able to block the worst of it with his mind. As the barrage continued, Methos used everything he could think of to block the mental attack. He was weakening and he knew it. As he struggled to find the strength to fight off the energy, he felt the tingle of the link he had with the other Immortals. The link glowed in his mind as a source of nearly unlimited power. He could take the power he felt throbbing through the link. Suddenly he realized that if he were nearly drained of his Quickening, he'd be doing the same for 'his' Immortals. Some of them had less to give than he did. Refusing to do that to his friends and children, Methos wrapped his mental shields tighter around the part of him that was the Immortal links and felt the violence of the attack increase. Methos put his energy into protecting 'his' Immortals.

Having wrapped his power around the link, Methos could feel the energy cutting into his body. He screamed in agony as he felt energy blow after blow sear through him. This was worse than any Quickening he'd ever taken Methos thought. Methos collapsed to the floor and curled into a ball. Methos gathered the last of his strength to prepare to sever the link he had with the Immortals, to protect them from the energy that would rip through them when he died.

Instantly the energy stopped and became benevolent, soothing and energizing rather than painful and leeching. Surprised, Methos didn't sever the link but kept his shields up. He felt a mental hug and an explanation brush his mind gently. Now the room glowed with energy that poured into him and began to replace what he'd lost tenfold.

SG-1 rushed into the cave as soon as the force field disappeared. They'd been frantically trying to get in when they heard Pierson's shouts of pain. They knew the force field had released when Daniel fell on his face into the tunnel. Daniel scrambled to his feet to follow the others as they raced in the direction that Pierson had gone. As they burst into the cave, they saw Pierson collapsed on the floor in the middle of the cave. His clothes were shredded and bloody. Jack checked but found the Immortal completely healed from whatever had attacked him.

Despite the energy still pouring gently into him, Methos felt too weak to stand. He let Teal'c lift him into a sitting position while Samantha took his pulse and checked his vitals.

"Pierson are you okay? What happened?" Jack asked.

"Another test, one I barely passed." Methos whispered weakly.

"Is it over? Can we get the hell out of here?" Jack asked, anxious to get Pierson back to SGC so that Doc Frazier could check him out. Immortal or not, he looked like hell.

Methos nodded weakly, standing with help from Teal'c.

Slowly they made their way back to the Gate, moving at Pierson's pace.

After Dr. Frazier had confirmed that Pierson was tired but in excellent shape, they went to the debriefing room to meet with General Hammond.

*****

"But what is this leading up to?" Samantha asked.

"I don't understand the violence that is involved in this last test. Everything we've ever heard about the Ancients describes them as a benevolent Race. They wouldn't even directly fight the Goa'uld." Daniel asked.

"Are we sure this is the Ancients leaving the clues?" Jack asked.

Methos thought about it. He didn't remember any violence from his memory of the Prime or the other Ancients at the first Gate. Methos didn't know how he knew but he was sure that the Prime was testing him. "No, it's the Ancients. It has the same sort of signature on all of it."

"But why the violence, and why you?" General Hammond asked.

"I'm being tested. The first test was a simple test of determination. Would I touch the pedestal again after it had killed me once, how badly did I want to know?" Methos stood up and paced a few steps. "I knew it wouldn't kill me and the Prime did too."

Methos paced the other direction still thinking out loud. "The second was a test to see if I'd learned anything about what was coming and if I'd save you. You would have been killed if you stayed in the room with me. I was able to take all of the data that was forced into my brain in a faster rate, and I assimilated it faster. We put the technology and Gate addresses to good use when we returned."

"The third test was to see if I could learn. The cave forced me to use something I'd learned in a different way. I had to pass through the force field just like I dial the Gate addresses." Methos didn't mention his suspicions that the medical emergency had been staged to test his compassion for others.

The others watched intensely as Pierson paced the opposite direction. "The fourth test was of my willingness to suffer to protect the other Immortals. Your safety was ensured by the force field outside the cave, but the energy tried to get me to use a source of power that would have hurt the other Immortals, perhaps even killed some of them. I put everything I had into protecting that. When I couldn't save myself, I began to sever the link I have rather than let them feel my death. The test stopped as soon as I put the Immortals above my own death."

"It's testing my abilities to absorb and to learn, but it's also testing my choices. Testing for something that I can only guess at." Methos returned to his seat. "I have a clear address this time. I was told that you can go with me through the Gate, but you must not go with me to the next test. I have to make that journey on my own."

"I'm not comfortable with that Pierson. We're responsible for your safety while you're here." Hammond said.

"I second that!" Jack piped up.

"We have no choice. It may be so dangerous that only I can make it. I don't want to risk that."

"How will we know if you make it or if you need help? What if this is a trap to capture you?" Daniel asked.

"We have to risk it if we want to find the Ancients. And I do. I need to ask them why."

After more discussion without changing Methos' mind, the meeting was adjourned.

Methos returned to his quarters, tired and ready for a shower and bed. Somewhere in the depths of SGC, the Logistics team was preparing a M.A.L.P. to explore the Gate address that Methos had given them. A flashing light on his phone caught Methos' attention even before he could turn on his room lights.

He had several phone messages from his friends. The phone messages were all forwarded from a switchboard somewhere on the East coast. There was no way of tracing the phone calls to the SGC, all part of the top secret security that surrounded this base.

One of the calls was from Duncan. He'd felt Methos' pain and wanted to know what had happened. Another was from Amanda, wanting to know if he was all right. The last was from Joe. Joe hadn't talked to his Immortal friends yet, but he'd gotten reports from Watchers all over the field. Apparently all of the Immortals had felt his pain and had reacted nervously. Joe needed to reassure the Watchers in the field that it wasn't the end of the World or the Gathering. Watchers had reported their Immortal assignments stopping what they were doing, some even acting like they were going to leave town, all heading towards the United States. The Immortals had calmed down after a short period of time but it had been some very tense moments there.

Methos frowned. He needed to control his link better. Picking up the phone, Methos called Joe first and reassured him. He didn't give the Watcher the details, only said that he'd been hurt but was fine now. His next calls were to MacLeod and Amanda to reassure them. They wanted to drop what they were doing and come to his side, he was sure to need help if what he'd been through was an indicator of the battle they were all facing. Methos refused their help and threatened to make it a compulsion if they ignored him. They grudgingly agreed knowing that he could do that easily.

His phone calls made, Methos lay down and opened up the Immortal link. He noticed the strength he felt in the link. It had gotten stronger as had his Immortals themselves from the benevolent light after his assault. He reassured the Immortals that all was well and that there might be another test like the last as he searched for their beginnings. His mental hugs were returned before he narrowed the link. The Immortals had sent their reassurances and confidence back at him. This last part amazed Methos. He knew that all Immortals weren't normally so agreeable, but the positive wishes he sent through the link continuously were affecting even the surliest and more aggressive Immortals.

Of course they all knew him as Alpha Blue not as Methos, he thought. Tired, Methos fell asleep tingling with the power of the Ancients that was cursing through his body.

The next morning Methos joined the SG-1 team in the mess hall. In an hour they would send the M.A.L.P. through to the address that Methos had given them. After breakfast, Methos returned to his room to grab the rest of his gear. Before he left the room, Methos lay on the bed and linked up with the Immortals. Gently he reassured them that he was going to be traveling and there would be another test. He sadly told them that they would know it if he failed the test but that he would make it as easy for them as he could. They would know if he'd been successful. Leaving them with his mental hug, Methos closed the link and got up. He retrieved his gear and met the others in the Gate room.

Methos dialed the address and when the Gate chevrons locked, the M.A.L.P. was sent through. Everyone huddled around the monitors to wait for the M.A.L.P.'s telemetry to come through the wormhole. Within a minute they were seeing the ruins of a civilization. Scorched and destroyed buildings were everywhere as far as the camera could zoom.

"I already don't like the looks of this." Jack said unhappily.

"I have to go." Methos said feeling the distant tugging of a force.

"Not without us." Daniel said. "We may not be able to go all of the way with you, but we'll be there for you."

"Damn straight!" O'Neill said. "Let's get this show on the road campers. What are the stats?"

"Breathable atmosphere, gravity within human norms, some electricity buildup around the ruins but just don't stand under any trees or touch any lightening rods." The technician said saucily.

Methos chuckled, "No, that's my job."

On the other side of the Gate they saw more of the damage. Methos could feel the tingling and smell the Ionization like there had been a large Quickening. "Better stay here at the Gate. This could be one hell of a Quickening."

"Where are you going?" Jack asked.

"Ground Zero." Methos said pointing to the area of worst destruction. Everything else looked like it had rippled from that one spot. With cautions from SG-1 to be careful, Methos walked away from the Gate and into the ruins.

The further he walked, the higher the pressure grew. His skin tingled, his body hair stood on end. It took him nearly an hour of hard walking and climbing to reach what he considered the origin of the blast. By the time he reached this point, he had small arcs of lightening dancing off his body. Overhead storm clouds gathered and crackled. He carefully shielded his link to the other Immortals to reduce their anxiety he could feel building. He forced himself to be calm.

*****

The members of SG-1 watched the storm clouds gather in the direction Pierson had gone. The storm had started building not long after Pierson had headed in that direction and in just an hour, they couldn't believe that it had continued to get worse. They could feel the electricity in the air, making the hair on their heads tingle.

"This is going to be a big one guys. I hope Pierson can take this one and not get fried." Jack said ominously.

"I hate not being able to do anything." Daniel said. "What if he needs us?"

"What could we do against powers like this? It's like trying to stop an act of nature." Jack said slapping his gun in frustration.

"That's it!" Carter said her eyes lighting up.

"What?" Jack and Daniel asked at the same time. They trusted Carter's perception and instincts.

"What's been bothering me about this whole thing." She continued.

"What do you mean?" Jack asked.

"Well sir, these test are evolutionary in nature. Like the Ancients are testing to see if Pierson and the Immortal Race has evolved in the right direction. Think about it, each one gives him more knowledge and power."

"What grade does he get if he passes all the tests?" Jack asked.

"The knowledge of the Ancients." Daniel said quietly. "Sam's right. The Ancients have been trickling knowledge to him a little bit at a time. With each test he passes, he reaches a higher state of being. After the last mission, Dr. Frazier checked him out. The Tok'ra were right, his energy readings are off the scale of what we can measure."

"Can he handle this?" Jack asked, worried.

"He passed the tests with flying colors. He's been able to keep us safe, and last time he protected the other Immortals." Sam said.

*****

Methos looked around nervously at the storm gathering around him. What the hell was he doing here? He wondered not for the first time. Feeling anxiety through his link with the Immortals, Methos closed his eyes and concentrated on sending reassurances. He absorbed the feeling of purpose and belonging that he got from the link. Finally he closed the link tightly, he didn't want the other Immortals to feel anything from him, especially if it was his pain or Gods forbid, his death.

Almost too gently for him to notice, Methos felt another presence seep into his mind. Alarmed, his eyes snapped open to see a silvered haired man with brilliant blue eyes staring at him from a few feet away.

"You always did take your responsibilities very seriously." The man said.

"Who are you?" Methos asked even as his mind supplied the answer. This was the being he'd known as the Ancient's Prime.

"I've been waiting for you to be ready." The Prime said without answering the obvious question.

"Why?" Methos asked, his question covering a multitude of meanings. When the Prime remained silent he added. "You can't have just made us to be an army for Earth." Methos said.

"You were my children. I believed the people of Earth were worth saving. They would watch over you and you would watch over them. I'm very proud of you." The Prime said.

"Then you know nothing about me." Methos said quietly.

"I know everything about you. I saw your terrible twos as the Tauri are fond of saying. I also saw you grow out of them on your own. I saw you learn hard lessons and grow. I saw you learn in a short period of time what some Races never learn, that you don't have to control people to lead and guide them. You are what I'd hoped you would become. Granted some of your lessons I wished you'd learned sooner, as I'm sure you would have too."

"But I've been a monster! I've been surviving above all else." Methos shouted. "I should have been more, I had thousands of years. Instead I'm not nearly enough. I've been the worst that man or Immortal could be and I've never been able to make up for that.

"As have I, as have all of the Races. Before the Ancients evolved, this was our home world. We destroyed it and nearly destroyed ourselves. It took us hundreds of thousands of years to learn what you've learned in your mere ten thousand. Earth and the rest of the Universe don't need a ruler. They need the freedom to learn the lessons at their own speed. They need a guiding hand occasionally. As I've guided you, I've guided them."

"Why would you do this? Were we just a science project? Is this just a report card?" Methos shouted.

"No my son, you were my children. I made the four of you from myself. I have loved you and been so proud of you. I grieved for the loss of your brothers, but I couldn't blame the others, they were so young and confused. But now I'm tired. The other Ancients have moved on to the next level of evolution. They've become beings of pure energy that exist in all things. I want to join them but I needed someone to take my place."

"Oh no you don't! You've answered my question..."

"That is why I choose you." As the Prime finished, a column of light surrounded Methos.

Trapped in the field of energy, Methos screamed as power and knowledge began to pour into his resisting body. Part of him knew the power came from the Planet itself. The Ancients had stockpiled power here for this very purpose.

*****

SG-1 waited impatiently at the Gate.

"O'Neill!" Teal'c shouted.

Jack turned towards the Jaffa and his eyes opened wide at the storm in the direction that Pierson had taken. They could feel the ground beneath their feet begin to tremble with the strain of the storm.

"Are we safe here?" Jack asked Sam.

"I don't know sir, I'd be afraid to dial up the Gate right now. It might pull the storm this way." Sam said.

*****

Methos stood rigid, assaulted by the power flowing into him. He saw in his mind the many millennia the Prime had lived, before the Prime had created his children and moved them to Earth. He saw his millennia as Alpha Blue, learning and leading the Immortals against the Goa'uld. He saw the dark years when he couldn't remember who or what he was, all of the horrible, angry things he'd done to try and control something that he couldn't remember. He saw his centuries of just floating along, surviving rather than doing. Hiding rather than participating.

Then he saw these things through the Prime's eyes. The pain, the lessons learned, the wisdom of watching and guiding, subtly manipulating events so that others could learn from their own mistakes, or not in some cases. The Prime was right. Fathers sometimes had to let their children hurt and heal. Dictatorships destroyed growth and knowledge, and Earth had come too far to stop now.

Slowly the power faded. Methos collapsed to the ground. "I don't want this." He whispered.

"I didn't either when the elders gifted it to me." The Prime said quietly. "I chose you because you don't want it, because you love your world and it's people. You will give them the room they need to grow and learn for themselves. You've learned the lessons the hard way; you know the wisdom of letting them learn the lessons as well. You've been the worst that a man can be and you've tempered that hard earned wisdom with compassion. You'll be able to protect them with all of the powers I've given you. Only you could understand that it is because you must protect them, not because you want to become something like the Horseman again."

The Prime knelt on the ground beside Methos, putting his hands gently on the Immortal's shoulders.

"Now what happens?" Methos asked.

"You go home. Guide the Tauri as they need it. You help the other Immortals evolve."

"What about the Goa'uld?"

"You now have the means to protect your world. With the technology I've given you, the power I've transferred to you, and your Immortals."

The Prime stood and pulled Methos up with him. "It will take a little time for this to completely assimilate. Just keep doing what you've been doing. Already the love you've been sending through the link has caused some of your Immortals to evolve. You're on the right path."

"What about the other Races?"

"I'll see to them before I leave. The Asgard and the Nox already suspect what I was doing."

Methos felt the earth rumble before he heard it. "The others!"

"You know what to do." Prime said.

Methos nodded and with a thought, started to dial the Gate.

*****

SG-1 was getting nervous as the storm continued to grow and the earth began to tremble. As one, they turned around and faced the Gate as it began to dial up. They ducked out of the way as the Gate locked the Chevrons and the wormhole burst out. Almost at the same time, Pierson was standing beside them.

"We have to get out of here! The planet is breaking apart!"

Jack didn't have to be told twice, he waved Sam and Daniel through the Gate. Pierson followed with Jack and Teal'c bringing up the rear. They heard explosions as they ran into the Gate. They exited at a run to the Gate room of SGC.

Methos signed in relief as he stepped onto the ramp at the SGC.

"Adam, are you alright? What happened?" Daniel asked.

All eyes turned to Methos. "Can I have a little time? That was a lot of power I absorbed and I'm pretty tired."

General Hammond nodded. "We'll debrief tomorrow at o-seven hundred."

The others watched silently as Adam headed towards his quarters.

Once there, Methos sprawled exhausted onto his bed. Energy was still tumbling and churning inside him. His mind was still reeling with the knowledge of the Ancients that had been downloaded into his brain. This was the Grand Daddy of all Quickenings, Methos thought. Letting out a sigh, Methos reached through the Immortal link and tiredly reassured his Immortals.

*****

MacLeod tossed back the glass of Scotch he had in front of him. "Methos says it's over. He's okay!" Mac turned and looked at Amanda, Caitlin and Linda sitting behind him.

Joe grinned and poured them both another large portion of Scotch.

Amanda hugged her son and pulled Linda and her baby into an embrace. Caitlin wrapped them all in a big hug and laughed for joy. The babies gurgled happily. "He's back and he's fine." Amanda said.

Tears of joy streamed down Linda's face as she and Joe met eyes. It had been hard on the Mortals to be out of the link Adam shared with the Immortals. They could tell their Immortals friends were worried and almost frantic while Adam fought some far away battle. They had to wait until one of the Immortals took pity on them and gave them an update. It was a relief to know it was over.

*****

Robert Duncee sat back on his couch and nodded. He'd come a long way since he'd challenged that mysterious Immortal. He'd made a lot of changes in his life and he'd never felt happier or more fulfilled. He'd felt the strength and power in the Immortal that had called himself Alpha Blue. He hoped now that the tests were over, he might get the chance to thank the Ancient Immortal personally.

*****

Cassandra sat quietly in a meadow near her cottage in Scotland. She relaxed as she got the message from the Alpha Blue. Relieved now, she took a moment to reflect on this mysterious Ancient Immortal that had become so much a part of their lives. She could only imagine what the other Immortals must think. She mentally touched the link she had with him, it was a comfort and a reassurance for her to have that constant link. Somewhere out there was a benevolent being that loved her for who she was.

She snorted at the thought that Methos was probably pissed. He'd taken such arrogant pride in being the eldest of their kind. She'd have to ask her Watcher where Duncan was right now. Duncan would know how the Horsemen was taking this come upperance. Cassandra mentally stroked at the link again. She'd love to meet this Ancient and hear how the world had been when he'd been young. Standing, Cassandra returned to her cottage to finish her chores now that the Ancient's test was over.

*****

Duncan sat alone with Joe after everyone else had left for the night.

"Hell of a day huh?" Joe said. He knew that MacLeod had something on his mind, he'd have gone home by now if he wasn't wrestling with something.

"Um? Oh yeah. Hell of a day." MacLeod took another sip of his scotch. "You know Joe, I've been thinking."

"I could tell. About what Mac?" Joe said, focusing all of his attention on the Highlander.

"On Methos. He's done it." Mac said with reverent awe in his voice.

"He's done a lot of things lately but what specifically are you talking about?" Joe said confused at what was really on the Highlanders mind.

"He always told me that he didn't want the Prize, didn't want to be the One because that would mean that he'd had to kill his friends. Well, he's done it. He's figured out a way to make us All as One. He's given us the Prize!"



Mac looked at Joe with tears of joy in his eyes.

*****

Epilog

At SGC, Methos phoned General Hammond to let him know that he'd rested and was ready to talk. He'd slept for nearly eight hours after he'd mind linked with the Immortals.

General Hammond quickly assembled the SG-1 team to the meeting. Pierson was the last to arrive. Pierson still looked tired even after his rest. It must have been a hell of a test Hammond thought. Amazing thing this Immortality. The storm that SG-1 had described had destroyed the planet right after they'd left.

Methos sat down and swept his eyes to everyone at the table. "Thanks for letting me rest. That took a lot out of me."

"Are you alright son?" General Hammond asked.

Methos nodded. "It was a bigger download than the others."

"What happened? Our instruments showed the planet breaking apart." Sam said. Again Methos nodded.

"Quite a few of the Ancients left power there when they evolved." Methos explained. More like all of the Ancients had left power there, Methos thought to himself.

"Why? What was the test?" Jack asked.

"This one wasn't a test. The Prime wanted to evolve, be with the other Ancients. He just wanted to make sure that we had the means to protect Earth." Methos said, his eyes moving to each of the people in the room.

"Which is..." General Hammond asked knowing the President would be asking him that question in a few hours.

"The Knowledge and Technology of the Ancients."

"You." Daniel said in awe.

Everyone looked at Pierson, seeing him very differently than they had a moment ago.

Jack instinctively felt that Pierson would hate being treated differently. The guy was having enough trouble with what he'd been through the past few months. Wanting to redirect the attention of the room off Pierson he asked, "Ooookay, is that going to be enough against the Goa'uld?" Jack still didn't like the idea of the Goa'uld getting planet side.

"With a planet wide shield powered by satellites in orbit, we can easily prevent the Goa'uld from using ships against us. The people on Earth never even have to know they're up there. With some long-range filters and listening devices, we can keep an eye on them from afar. With a filter on the satellites, we can prevent them from ringing in or using the Gate. We can even do these things for other worlds."

"And the Immortals?" General Hammond asked.

"Ground forces if we need it. SG teams if you're interested."

"The subject has come up in discussions with the President and Joint Chiefs. Can you approach the Immortals without jeopardizing National Security?"

Methos nodded. "Several of the Immortals have already expressed interest. They don't know anything about SGC, but they knew I was traveling someplace far away and out of their sensing range. With the Game over, several of the Warrior types like MacLeod are feeling lost and out of place. It would be good for you and good for them."

"Let me talk with the President. I'll get back to you with the details."

Methos nodded, already mentally making a list of Immortals to approach with the idea.

"What about you? What were all the test for?" Daniel asked.

"I passed the tests. The Prime was proud of me." Methos said sarcastically.

"So what happens to you now? Good job Adam...have a nice life? What the hell is up with that?" Jack said irritated for Pierson's sake. The guy had been through Hell in the past weeks.

"I get to keep on doing what I was doing."

"That's a Hell of a thank you." Jack grumbled irritated.

Methos shrugged. "Omnipotent beings really don't have to make sense." He replied vaguely.

*****

A month later, Methos left Colorado for Seacouver. He'd left schematics and instructions for the planetary protections. He was hoping for some down time, just resting, reading, sprawling around on the furniture of his friends and drinking beer.

Methos opened the door to the bar and walked in looking for Joe. He felt the Blues man in his office. Helping himself to a draft beer, Methos sauntered to the office and poked his head in the door. "Hey Joe!"

"Methos! You just get into town?" Joe said with a smile.

Methos sprawled in the guest chair. Ah! His first sprawl of the trip! He took a long drink of his beer, and the first beer! "Yep. Left the SGC kids with a homework assignment and thought I'd take a break."

"You could probably use one. Mac and Amanda say you've been busy. Want to talk about it?"

Methos smiled but the smile never reached his eyes. "Met the creator, we talked, he gave me some technology, he evolved. Same old, same old."

"Did he answer your questions before he evolved?" Joe asked.

"Yep, didn't like his answers though." Methos snorted. He took another drink of his beer.

"So what now?" Joe asked worried about his friend.

"Consulting, recruiting and I thought I'd do the Dad thing for awhile."

"You're gonna love that last one. I know I love being Grandpa Joe."

Methos smiled, this time it reached his eyes. "I can see you as a Grandfather. How does a few more Grand children sound? I thought I'd do a few rescues in exchange. I've been thinking about Linda's case."

"And Alexa?" Joe said knowing that Methos grieved her death still.

"And Alexa. Maybe someday I'll find another like her."

"I hope so my friend. You deserve that kind of happiness." Joe said with a prayer that it would come true within his lifetime. Methos had been alone too long.

THE END

Best Laid Plans-2