This is the sequel to my story "Eternal Slayer." As with that story, this is a BTVS/Highlander crossover story (generally, if assumptions of the two series are inconsistent, I assume that BTVS conventions apply).
.Rating: PG-13 (occasional decapitation and other such good times). The characters and their storylines are the property of their respective creators/owners, and no infringement of copyright is intended. This story takes place just after the events of "Bad Beer" (spoilers up to that point), and some time after the conclusion of the series "Highlander: The Raven."


ETERNAL NO LONGER

Prologue


The black Mercedes pulled up in front of the nondescript office building, and its occupants quickly exited the vehicle and walked up the steps. Duncan MacLeod opened the front door, holding it for his three companions: Methos, Amanda, and Nick Wolfe. They walked over to the elevator, and Duncan pushed the button. As they waited, Nick turned to Amanda and asked, "Could you explain to me why I'm here again?"

Amanda smiled at him and replied, "Nick, we've been over this. We needed to bring everyone who knew her reasonably well, in case the Arbiter wants more information. . .besides, I like having both you and Duncan around: a girl likes a little display of jealousy now and again, you know."

Nick and Duncan both rolled their eyes heavenward, and Nick asked, "Duncan, for God's sake, would you please put me out of my misery?"

Duncan laughed and replied, "Not a chance, Nick. You're the one who decided to come back to her. . .now you've got to deal with it. I've put up with her for centuries, so you can deal with her for a long while yet before you get to bitch about it. . .besides, we've got a job to do here."

The elevator arrived, and the Immortals entered. After a few moments, the elevator stopped on the eleventh floor. They exited the elevator and entered what appeared to be an ordinary law office. They moved quickly through the deserted hallways and entered a conference room, where they sat and waited. After a few moments, Nick was moved to ask, "So when does this all-powerful Arbiter arrive?"

"Now, actually."

All four Immortals whirled to the doorway, where a tall man wearing a hooded robe stood. They could all perceive that he was Immortal, but how could an Immortal get so close without detection? The man smiled at the discomfort of his guests, then moved over to sit at the end of the table. He reached up and pulled down his hood, and Amanda gasped in shock as she recognized the man: "Edwards?"

The man smiled again and replied, "Amanda. Good to see you again. Don't worry-" he commented as he saw the woman tense in preparation to fight for her life, "-I'm not interested in your head this time. I am the Arbiter. . .and I understand that you have evidence of a violation of the Second Rule."

Duncan nodded and replied, "Yes." He held up videotape and walked over to the TV/VCR setup in the corner of the room. He inserted the tape, turned on the TV, and pressed "Play." They all watched the images darting across the screen for about ten minutes, then the screen went blank and the Arbiter nodded and commented, "Excellent camera work. From where did this tape come, MacLeod?"

Duncan replied, "I have a source within the Watchers. This Immortal's Watcher happened to be in position to witness the violation, and my source forwarded the tape to me."

The Arbiter frowned and commented, "The evidence would appear to be conclusive. Do you have any thoughts on what the remedy should be?"

Duncan turned to Methos, who responded, "The Immortal who died was of exceptional power. . .the offender has gained a great deal of strength as a result of his crime, and he has both mortal and Immortal assistants. I would recommend that both MacLeod and I receive the Mark, and that we be allowed to recruit non-Immortal help in dealing with the situation."

The Arbiter raised an eyebrow and asked, "You are not suggesting that normals who are not aware of Immortals should be brought into this, are you Methos?"

Methos suppressed a wince at the thought that he had not identified himself to the Arbiter before he was recognized, and he replied, "No, Arbiter. Any non-Immortals we recruit will be those who already know of our existence."

The Arbiter nodded and replied, "Your proposal is sound, Methos. I concur." He reached into a pocket and pulled out two pendants: each consisted of a silver chain with a five-carat diamond that glowed with an eerie blue light. He handed the pendants to Duncan and Methos, and intoned, "I bestow upon you, Duncan MacLeod, and you, Methos, the Mark of the Justicar. You are authorized to take all necessary measures to bring to justice the violator of the Second Rule, including the recruiting of mortal help, as long as such individuals are already aware of the existence of Immortals." He stood up and bowed, then smiled and said, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a tennis match scheduled for four this afternoon." He moved out of the room, and all present were silent for a long moment before Nick turned to Amanda and asked, "When did you see this guy before, Amanda? You looked as if you'd seen a ghost."

Amanda shuddered and replied, "That man was one of the nastiest bastards it was ever my misfortune to meet. . .cruel, unpleasant, generally not someone you'd want to spend much time around. He went after me once. . .and he was way too good for me to deal with. I ended up jumping into a five thousand foot deep gorge to evade him. . .how would someone like that end up as the Arbiter?"

Methos smiled grimly and replied, "The position of the Arbiter changes with time, Amanda. The Arbiter never seeks combat, but if an Immortal comes after him, he fights. If he wins, fine. . .but if he loses, the victor finds that he has become the Arbiter, and that his personal desires have been subjugated to the Arbiter's duties. . .apparently Edwards' viciousness finally got him in trouble."

Nick absorbed this information with a frown, then asked, "So why didn't you ask the Arbiter to deputize me and Amanda? If this guy has gained as much power as you say, you might need us."

Methos replied, "The Mark is only necessary to exempt us from the Second Rule regarding the violator: you two can still help us keep his mortal and Immortal helpers occupied. Amanda is, of course-" he smiled and bowed at the platinum blonde beauty, who blew him a kiss as he continued, "-quite capable, and you, though still young, have taken to training quite well and have the additional benefit of your police experience. Don't worry, Nick, we wouldn't think of leaving you out of this little adventure."

Nick grimaced and replied, "Gee, I feel so wanted right now. So, what were you talking about when you mentioned involving mortals? You can't mean Joe. . .he has that Watchers' Code and all that."

Duncan frowned and replied, "Friends of mine. . .I met them earlier this year. They are very capable, know all about Immortals. . .and I need to see them anyway. . .to give them the news." He gestured to his friends and concluded, "Let's get back and pack. . .we've got a long plane trip ahead." The four Immortals left the building quietly, the mood becoming somber as each pondered the events that brought them to this anonymous location, and the mood continued as they drove away.


As before, comments are welcome and desired.