Note: The story picks up from where "Makes You Stronger" left off.
"Dead Men Walking" by Karen
Richie Ryan had mixed feelings about his placement in the command structure of the ship. Okay, so going by outward appearances alone he looked to be somewhere in his mid-twenties.
However, by Immortal standards with the additional complication that he was now stuck hundreds of years in the future, did present a few considerable drawbacks. Like now. Except for Harper, everyone else, but mostly Tyr and Beka, seemed to think that he was some wet behind the ears rookie who needed to be watched over and protected. 'Beka Valentine. Now there was a woman!" Richie thought with some exuberance, "Too bad about that 'kid brother' treatment that she has towards Harper and myself.'
Richie felt that he had outgrown that during the time he lived off and on with his old mentor, Duncan Macleod. After months spent aboard the Andromeda Ascendant he certainly no longer needed to be treated in that way.
Centuries ahead of his own time was enough to give anyone a case of time lag, it just made his head hurt to think about it too much.
Yet, here was, flat on his stomach welding deck plates and running maintenance checks. "So I'm aboard this universe's largest, fastest and most sought after starship, and I'm still just a glorified grease monkey. I really need to get a new travel agent. I mean, hell, what was my last travel agent but a glorified grease monkey. Damn you. Mason."
Richie adjusted his weight to relieve the cramp in his legs from being in one position too long, and bumped his head on the overhead archway. 'Damn."
"Did you say something?" Harper yelled from the far side of the engineering bay.
"No, just muttering to myself,' Richie replied, after a moment of thought," Did you say the grid of the ion glide drives was in here?"
"Yeah, just hang on a sec while put the finishing touches on this baby," Harper said.
The shorter man came over as Richie slithered out of the maintenance tube so that Harper could get inside to look at the ion grid. While he was doing that Richie took the chance to get the circulation going by doing some quiet stretching motions. Harper finished his inspection and backed out again. "The grid's in there all right, it's just a teensy bit fried, so what I want you to do is reroute the power from one of the subroutines and reboot it."
"Got it," Richie replied
Inside Machine Shop Three
"I don't trust you. I never have." Tyr greeted Methos, the door sliding shut on its gimbaled hinges, Methos almost missed the effect of old fashioned door slamming to, and it would match the glare that Tyr leveled directly at him.
"Well, bully for you. I warned you that you shouldn't trust me. You'd think it would penetrate that thick head of yours. Funny, isn't it, how I always seem to end up tagging along on the coat heels of the boy-scout types." Methos shook his head, thinking the matter through. "You know what they say, the more things, the more they stay the same. I must be cursed, or something."
"I do hope you are not including me in that category." Tyr allowed a small smile to slip out, amused and annoyed by the smaller man.
"Heaven forbid," Methos sneered. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I've been around you blokes long enough to realize one thing, and that's you are very much like me. Looking out for number one."
"A survivor. I have mentioned this to Dylan on several occasions, but when the universe comes to an end, there will be three survivors, cockroaches, Tyr Anazazi, and Dylan Hunt trying to save the cockroaches."
"I prefer to think of the survival rate a little bit on the higher scale for my species, thanks anyway." Methos sneered. "I am getting the distinct feeling that you are not here to compare notes on survivor outlooks.
"Then why are you here?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing. This section of the ship is off limits."
"Never stopped me before."
"Are you always this annoying and sardonic?"
"Yeah, it keeps people at arms length."
"What's in here is my personal property, and I am not fond of you getting your hands on it."
"Is that a threat?"
"Yes." Tyr sauntered forward much in the manner of a black panther stalking prey in the jungle, his bone blades embedded into his forearms out end extended, arms folded in such as a way as to provide maximum room for maneuverability.
"The fact that you are here, precludes my asking your knowledge of the contents."
"Curiosity killed the cat." Methos tried for glib response, until he came up with something better to say or a way to get rid of the obstacle in his path. Dealing with Tyr was much akin to dealing with oncoming traffic during rush hour in a large metropolitan city. This particular obstacle, dread-locks and all, possessed a dangerous ability to see through Methos' act. Not to mention he already did some considerable background checking. Methos was in the business of survival, and Tyr could conceivable prove to be a threat.
"I can arrange that." Tyr smoothly replied.
"I bet you could," Methos remarked.
"Speaking of curiosity," Tyr remarked, "Cut the macho bullshit, and let's discuss something else. Like you for example. I've had my eye on you ever since your rather inexplicable arrival."
"What's there to say," Methos shrugged. "What you see is what you get."
"I have observed your interaction with the young man, Ryan, and observed your, let us be realist; aloof, arrogant, and somewhat patronizing ways of dealing with people. "
"Oh, this should be good."
The thing that struck me the most was your ability to camouflage yourself."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, if I did not know any better, I would say you are very much a chameleon, analyzing the parameters of the given environment, situation, and particulars and changing to fit those parameters. It's how you survive."
"Well, I'll be damned. Someone finally figured me out."
"I would not be so flippant if were you," Tyr rumbled. "It's not all I've learned. I took bits and pieces, clues and put them together. Item, you appear out of nowhere; you have no records in any of the computer databases."
"Is that so strange? I mean after 300 years do you really expect to have accurate databases of everyone in the galaxy. It's a big galaxy."
Tyr ignored the deliberate attempt at distraction and continued to list off his findings. "Item 3: Trance's required medical exam showed elevated amounts of electro magnetic activity in the hippo campus region of your brain, as well as Mr. Ryan.'s.
"So?" Methos fidgeted; eager to find a way to get rid of Tyr so that he could get a peek inside the glass enclosed box. From his rifling through the Andromeda's ships' logs had put two and two together and the evidence was coming to one conclusion. Ryan and Pierson were not entirely human.
Tyr had gone to considerable lengths to secure the remains of his pride's biological ancestor, and in fact, would kill to make sure that those remains stayed in his possession. Anything that valuable was worth looking into.
In addition, one could only drink so much alcohol in a stretch of time before needing something else to occupy one's attention. Based on the fragments of the diary that he had been able to download into his personal terminal from the diary of the Mad Peresied, Hastuari, which referenced his name, and the Watchers Chronicles, had prompted Methos to act and seek out the remains of the Nietchzeian progenitor, Drago Kazov.
"So, such concentrated activity is not normal in the brain of a human being."
"Can I look in the box?" Methos interrupted, deliberately ignoring the warning in Tyr's last statement.
"So, I believe that you are capable of putting the pieces together as well as I. That is the true reason that led you here." Tyr walked over, grabbed a handful of the man's loose shirt and thrust him away were the man fetched up against the opposite wall. "No, you may not look in the box. A little focus, please."
"What's in the box?" Methos interrupted, stalling for time, believing that he understood the implied meaning underlying the big man's words. 'Could he really have discovered that he's got not one but two Immortals on board?' This thought flashed through Methos' head like a bolt from a summer lighting storm and on the heels of that thought:
"Okay, let's assume for the sake of argument that he's learned about Immortals, I can't afford to trust him, and he can't afford to trust me." How can I turn this situation to my advantage?' Aloud he said: "Okay, out with it? What do you want?"
"The truth, or as much as skewed pieces of it as you can manage."
"This is gonna take a while, and talking is such thirsty work," Methos grinned.
"Hey, do you think we could go somewhere and you could buy a few beers or a whole 12 pack?"
"We've been at this for hours," Richie griped, sifting the black dirt of Trance's garden through his fingers studying how the dirt caked beneath his nails while Trance's were still as smooth and even as when they had begun the project. The shape and design of the planets reminded Richie of the bonzai trees that Tessa used to decorate his old mentor's Duncan Macleod's river barge. Funny how random, somewhat useful memories get dredged up when your body is occupied with other less pressing tasks, Richie muttered.
"While gardening and pruning may not be high on your list of fun things to do, Richie," Trance paused and flashed him a brilliant smile; "I assure you this is a method behind my perceived madness."
"Knowing you, Trance, by the time you come out with it, I probably wouldn't understand it anyway."
"I think you over estimate me and don't give yourself enough credit, Richie. In the short time you've been a crew member, you've made excellent progress."
"Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, but I don't see how learning to garden is going to help."
"It's more than just a hobby, it's a metaphor."
"Okay, okay, I see it's useless to argue with you or try to change the subject, so I'll bite. Tell me. Oh wise one."
"Richie, sometimes I feel that you do occasionally display a flash of brilliance beyond your years."
"It's about the Immortal business, isn't it?" Richie grinned. "I don't think it's any of my doing, but I appreciate the compliment anyway."
"Immortals, ah yes, this is more about you than your compatriot, Methos, he worries me. And he name did appear in the writings of the mad Perseid's diary."
"Hey, Trance, don't sweat it, Methos worries everybody. Did you know, that back home there a secret society that had an entire archive dedicated to keep tabs on his life."
"I think you know something about that you are being circumspect about.
"Don't you ever come right out and say exactly what you mean?"
"If I did, it would take away all of the mystery." Trance grinned, came over from her stool placed up against the far wall and came to sit on the floor next to Richie. "Seriously, though, I think my best friends, and I like to count you among that number, Mr. Ryan, is that it's all about recreating oneself. I did take them a long time to be accustomed to the new golden older version of the Trance they knew and were comfortable with."
"A bit of shock, I have to admit." Besides on the recreating oneself, Methos could tell you stories, hell, he could probably spin an epic. That isn't what you really wanted to talk about it, huh?"
"No, but it does lead into what I do have to say."
"So go for it."
"My race is an old one, and there is still much I do not understand about my people,
have I told you that we possess the ability to see into all possible, potential futures.
The problem is that I never can see that one perfect future clearly enough to predict the outcome of our actions."
"You make mistakes, Trance. And besides if everyone could see the future nothing would ever get done to make it happen."
"You and I are the only ones with the exception of Methos who are aware of the existence of Immortals.
"Tyr is getting rather suspicious of late, Richie shrugged figuring that it was only a matter of time before the secret would get out. Even aboard a ship easily ten times the size of his hometown of Seacouver, Seattle, and with a small crew complement, and have dealt with someone as sharp and insightful as Trance, Richie knew that it was the kind of secret he could hide indefinitely. And among the entire crew, if anyone could handle and be trusted with the secret it would have to be Trance.
I doubt that when Dylan, Beka and the others do find out," and I Methos and I agreed,
Well, you know how he is, we're not about to decapitate each other."
"Hey, Trance," Richie paused thinking the matter over, "You know I've been operating under the assumption that we're the only ones around, but how do we know that for sure. I mean, for a while back on my Earth, it seems Immortals kept coming out of the woodwork, and then it started drying up."
"If I understand the set of Rules governing Immortals, it is necessary for one your kind to fight another for some nebulous "Prize', correct?"
"Yeah, but Methos already made it pretty clear he isn't interested in taking my head, and considering he is already pretty much a living legend, I'm grateful. I really, really, do not want to fight the guy."
"How old is he supposed to be again?"
"Give or take a decade, he's 5,000 years old."
Trance let out her in held breath in a soft whistle. "Rather impressive." It's best to leave our Neitzchean friend, Tyr in the dark, he would be very envious if he found out. He prides himself on being genetically bred to be the ultimate survivor."
"Yeah. I noticed that, too." Richie grinned. "Although, I hate to admit this, but I'd like to see the expression on his face when he finds out that Methos beat him to the punch centuries before he was a glimmer in his Ma's eye."
The tent walls tremble in the chilly night wind, but neither Tyr nor his chosen mate, Freya, feels it. It might be due to their enhanced systems, or might be the heat of their passion. With the acclaim of the assembled Pride, Tyr will beget himself a son. The woman is everything that he could ever have hoped for. Strong, bright, and fierce. The bracelets that symbolize their union fall from their bindings around their upper forearms and clatter when they hit the floor. Tyr doesn't care and neither does Freya. While Tyr is well aware of the value of a symbol, it is after all, just a material object. It is the deeds that matter.
When its over Freya stands up and holds up the blue and the red vials, the smile on her face both one of triumph and wonder. "We will have a son," she says. "Although I must tell you something, not all within the pride are anxious for you to become the leader. Factions are forming that will oppose you. Also, this is mere rumor, but I heard it whispered that another could well claim to have bloodlines that predate the Progenitor."
"What are you talking about, woman?" Tyr demanded.
"I have already said too much. I must go." Freya left, and Tyr puzzled over her parting words.
Germany WWII era, Nazi meeting hall
The atmosphere of the meeting hall is close and tense and that isn't from the leader's sense of danger all around, danger perhaps exclusively with him as the target. In time of war, it more than common sense to take precautions, it was becoming a matter of survival. The meeting room was packed, the majority of the attendees clad in the brown uniforms, knee high army boots, and caps issued by their individual unit commanders. Only a handful sported brightly clashing medals and buttons on the lapels of their coats, or tight-fitting caps upon their heads.
Facing the neatly lined up rows of metal folding chairs so that all the seats faced towards a carefully constructed wooden platform and it's a recent addition to the meeting hall, one built for a purpose.
Tonight the Leader was scheduled to announce a break through in military science by one of the most brilliant minds their home country had ever produced.
Trying to fade into the background, just another face in the crowd, the man called Adam Pierson raises a hand to the brim of his cap and pulls it down lower so that it shadows his blue eyes. He doesn't know exactly what the science boys had in mind when they said they'd made in breakthrough discovery on just what makes the Ayran race superior to all others. On top of that they had also discovered a way to isolate that particular genome and duplicate it, so he felt compelled to be there for the meeting.
Encounter (present Day)
In the absence of Captain Dylan Hunt, Beka Valentine or even Tyr, they had chosen to
give Harper command of the Andromeda. That, in theory, is not a completely far-
fetched concept. It made sense from a command structure standpoint because, Harper, aside from the ship's avatar and Captain Hunt, was the only person aboard who knew the inner workings and systems of the ship inside and out.
The scary part of the idea of Harper being in charge was well, Harper himself. Given who he was and seemingly driven by a need to push the envelope and take chances, Harper tended to fly off the handle when challenged by an opponent.
It could be on an individual basis, or facing the business end of a bunch of very angry Nietchzians warships from Drago Katsov Pride allied with the Jaguar Pride.
"Well, one doesn't need a degree in quantum physics to figure that one out; Bad things will happen."
Richie shrugged and kept his finger pressing down on the firing mechanism, staring at the screen with the little colored blips. 'And here I thought I'd make a great fighter pilot. This is much harder than a 21st century fighter jet. Okay, so they were computer game simulations.'
Trance stood alongside of Richie, scanning the rapidly changing readouts at his control console. Preferably one of the rapidly darting blips on his console without endangering the Andromeda itself.
Riche muttered under his breath, staring dagger puncture holes into Harper's back. "Do something command-like already, would you, Harper, before we all die of suspense or laserfire, whichever comes first."
"Hey, I'm thinking of plan here, okay?"
"No pressure, or anything, but could you think a little faster," Richie muttered.
"You can't outrun Death forever," Harper whispered, "but you can make the bastard work for it. Come on, you gutless wonders!"
Richie sighed,"It's official, we're in the hands of a madman."
"Methos is no longer aboard the ship," Richie stated with the air of someone that has long predicted this event and was not believed. "You know, if you had listened to me earlier when I told you this might happen, we might not be shy one slip fighter now."
"Well, he's never been that reliable a member of the crew," Beka replied. "We can always manage with one less slip fighter. Besides where would he go?"
"I haven't the foggiest, Beka," Richie answered. "But I had Rommie input the course and speed from the flight plan he filed before he left. You know, it might just be the time lag, or the fact that we're not used to be in this time frame, but it's not like him to leave a trail."
"He left a flight plan?" Dylan asked.
"Yeah, but you'd have to ask Rommie about the exact coordinates, because frankly I don't remember the details." Richie scratched the light blond fuzz on his lower jaw, "I always wondered what Methos was up to, and why he ended up here, I mean, the guy's been around for a long time."
"I get the feeling that there's more to this Methos, excuse, what was the other name he went by." Beka said. "Oh right, Adam Pierson, than you're telling us. I think its about time you told us everything, Richie."
"Yeah, but he took that special one that Tyr had his eye on," Richie said.
"Everything," Richie swallowed a sudden dry taste in his mouth. "Well, we all know we're both from an alternate reality timeline, I guess we don't need to go over that again. And we're both from a place called Seacouver, Washington."
"And," Tyr prompted mildly.
"And, look this is difficult enough to explain, even without the additional complication of Adam, damn, Methos, or whatever you want to call him. We discussed this and we both agreed it was best to keep you guys out of it."
"Out of what?" Dylan asked, curious.
"You know what, I've seen my teacher do this most of times when he got backed into a corner and had to 'fess up, so it might just be easier to show you. Trance already knows about the Big Secret, so I guess it's okay to tell them right?"
"It is your call, Richie, but we did agree to tell them when the time was right," Trance replied.
"Yeah, I guess we did." Richie sighed, reaching down to select from a variety of tools that were strapped into his tool belt. "Look, don't get too crazy or freaked out, this is the weird part."
"Weird part?" Beka echoed with the air of someone who could guess what was coming but a part of her wanted to be proved right, and another part wanted to be proved wrong. She liked Richie; he was like the kid brother that Harper or even her owns family could never be.
"Okay, here goes nothing," Richie sighed. He rolled up the sleeve of his work shirt exposing the bare skin of his lower left arm, then unsealed the cutting edge of the tool and cut into the exposed skin. A tiny growing dribble of red very human looking blood seeped from the cut. He grinned, "Okay, watch." Putting the tool back into the belt pouch he held out his arm at full extension, small white electrical sparks playing about the incision in his skin, and in front of the eyes of the watching crew the wound sealed up. It left hardly anything behind except for a tiny white scar. "All gone, see?"
"Yes, I see, how did you manage to do that?" Tyr asked.
"Because Methos are alike. We're what's called Immortals on our world." Richie sighed. "It's a very long story."
"Trance, nothing like this ever came up in their medical diagnostics?
Trance regarded Dylan, "Well, yes, I detected some highly unusual levels of endorphins, white blood cells and electromagnetic activity and enhanced immune system, but nothing out of the ordinary, and I promised Richie I wouldn't say anything until we both agreed the time was right."
"Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather." Dylan shrugged.
"You are not overly concerned that his, how did you put it when Tyr was aboard, Extra-curricular activities might prove dangerous or perhaps counter-productive to our continued well-being?" Rommie asked.
"I hate to admit it, but I don't count his desertion as drain of the crew's resources. He seemed rather self-absorbed to me and a bit on the arrogant side. When he decided to jump ship, and he probably didn't even stop to consider he'd been leaving Mr. Ryan behind."
"Are you going to do anything about it?" Richie demanded.
"Not unless he causes trouble elsewhere." Dylan grinned.
"You don't know Methos like I do, hell I don't think anybody knows Methos as well as. This would be a really good time to go Joe Dawson and get the full scoop." Look, this is probably not a good idea, and I must be insane for even mentioning this, but you have to understand something about Methos, the guy's been around since the original Dark Ages. All I'm saying is that he's trouble on two legs."
"Are you saying," Tyr interrupted "if you'll pardon my waxing melodramatic,
Tyr asked, "That he's not good enough for heaven, and hell is afraid that he will take over?"
"Yeah, that's about the size of it." Richie muttered. "You'd think it would get easier as you go along, but it never does."
"Relax, Mr. Ryan, your secret is safe with us," Dylan tried to soothed the frayed nerves of the young man. In the back of his mind, Immortals although I wonder where I rank, as how did Tyr put it, an historical anachronism, fate or whatever deity is watching our struggles must be getting a good hard chuckle out of this one. Aloud he said, "Richie, with any luck this desertion of Methos is probably not as bad as you're making it out to be. In the meantime, we'll deal with one crisis at a time. Okay."
"Okay. Okay. I understand, and thank you, sir." Richie grinned.