Chapter 1

He had woken up early this morning not having slept well. Earlier that day he had been reading some Government reports, classified to the highest level, but being immortal with a hyper metabolism had its advantages with recovery. He couldn't get this one thought out of his head, or rather a phrase recurring relentlessly in dream "What do you want?" Mark rubbed the sleep from his eyes and went to freshen in the shower. After towelling himself dry and putting on his dressing gown, Mark went to collect any recent mail and check for any urgent messages. Turing on the laptop, having to wait while it did the usual 'boot up' sequence, he put on some fresh coffee and relished the smell with enhanced olfactory senses. Absolute delight! Mark examined the morning papers looking for any new headlines, anything interesting that would pique his interest. Scanning down the page, there was an article that mentioned the year 1850 which triggered the most vivid flashback he'd ever experienced.

FLASHBACK

He was back in the year 1850. Several witnesses all belonging to one village were claiming to have seen a tetrahedron shape that had appeared in the sky. What was the Furor up to? It had glowing lights inside, its shape was constantly shifting and changing while emitting a strange high-pitched noise and moments after appearing it had disappeared, as though never existing in the first place. He hoped the situation had resolved itself and filed the report as 'Unexplained Phenomenon' to join many others. He could not have been more wrong! Some local soldiers who interviewed some of the witnesses found them slashing their own wrists and ensuring any spilled blood fell into the water and food supplies. The soldiers had obviously attempted to arrest these civilians only to find out that they were in fact faster & stronger, had increased intelligence and much higher pain threshold becoming virtually unstoppable. Human no longer?

A few days later; it had transpired that others who had not been witness to the phenomenon had been changed also, and many believed that a 'secondary' infection had taken place, possibly through blood or other bodily fluid, a serious threat and that was the reason Mark was in Russia. He hoped immortality would protect him from infection, while the whole village consisting of 300 men, women, children, and animals was sterilised. Nothing could leave alive. The whole area had been surrounded by the military, he had insisted on doing any 'dirty work' personally. Any that tried to escape the military would eliminate, at long range, while minimising the chance of anybody else receiving 'secondary' infection by blood splatter. That was the plan, but when did they ever run smoothly?

Mark killed everyone with a variety of weapons, either by gun, sword or grenades, administering the coup de grace ensuring death when he had finished. Killing everything with impunity no matter how much they had pleaded for their lives. He looked at his handiwork with mixture of pride - humanity would be safe - and complete revulsion at so many dead and not being able to save the children. He counted children as 'sacred' and to be protected at all costs. Humanity is safe, his legs collapsed beneath him, slowly the tears started until their flow could not be ebbed. They are so fragile! What is the purpose of immortality? As he directed his prayers the heavens, knowing no answer would be forthcoming.

A couple of feet away from him was a shaft of purest sunlight within which was a Fire Lord watching, observing. This being looked on with dismay, almost sadness although it did not say a word to comfort his suffering.

Watching from high in the Great Tree, the Furor did indeed watch the events transpiring beneath him. He had no yet decided how he would act, but would shortly. This immortal parasite was becoming troublesome, maybe he should wake the Dragon for a feast?

Mark stood, drying his eyes with a hanky from inside of his jacket, examining the area again. Behind one of the dwellings he found what appeared to be crystalline or glass 'trees'. Letting anger rise within him, deciding not to reign it in, uttered the magic for 'the fires of hell' watching as the strange trees burn and withered. Good! He left just as the soldiers began to burn the ground with flamethrowers.

"Why do you look so sad, you saved many people this day" an unfamiliar voice said. The speaker was a man of African-American descent with a bald head in military uniform, and Mark did not recognise him. This is wrong. He hadn't been in 1850 Russia. What was going on?

"How? By killing them?"

"You saved them though didn't you"

"The children, as well as whole families had to be massacred because some malevolent bastard has no respect for life!"

"That is quite often the way, to be able to see the greater good. Besides if you hadn't every essence of their humanity would have been destroyed from inside and they would have terra-formed the planet and bio-formed the populace" Mr Mystery said.

"Who or what are you?"

"I am from a species that exists outside of time"

"What, so I'm still in 2004, at home?"

"Well, yes and no"

"I don't understand" said Mark

"It's not important right now. Five astronauts have been sent back five years in time by another. They witnessed earth's fiery destruction while in orbit" replied the Being. Surely Earth cannot be destroyed just like that. Mark looked but did not see the Fire Lord that was still observing him and the stranger.

"You can see the future, and how it begins and how it will end"

"Time has neither beginning nor an end my friend. This is important, Earth's total destruction. These astronauts fight a difficult battle and are now 'players in the cosmic game', just as you always have been. They need help, allies if you will"

"Why me? What can I do?"

"Because of what you have done here, you fight to save your planet, willing to do what needs to be done"

"So what if I say no?"

"Then your planet is doomed and what you have done here will mean nothing. Everyone and everything will die and your species may never accomplish all it can"

"So tell me what I need to know"

"They call the enemy the Sentients, and if you defeat them maybe you stand a chance to what comes next"

"But why tell me this and not another?"

"Because you have access to resources they don't, and contacts they lack"

"Will we succeed?"

"There are always possibilities", he said.

Suddenly Mark was back in his kitchen and his hands began to shake finally unable to stop the recent tears for all the dead over the centuries.

The sunlight shone through the window and into his kitchen, and there watching once more was the very same Fire Lord.…………………………………………….

Mark had always been the hands on type, getting involved in 'wetwork' quite a bit, but now his role had changed. Although he embraced change, sometimes it was not a good thing. He had been a member of the 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' for almost a century, their HQ was based in the UK. Most of these team members also had their own teams of varying personnel sizes, each operation based in a major continent whether it be USA, London, Russia etc. They were also sworn to absolute secrecy, beyond the levels normal intelligence levels, e.g. MI5 or MI6, CIA etc. Otherwise they would not be a secret, their duty was to keep the normal mundane population unaware of what really goes on behind closed doors. Marks' current team consisted of twenty others, many of whom were mutants. Although most of the threats were terrorists, drug cartels, or covert organisations with even more hidden agendas, rarely did it involve the preternatural. Sometimes my life really sucks, but this is how it has been for almost a thousand years and very sick of this shit! Why can't I have a normal life? It was around 2pm, the sun was blazing through the window, what a beautiful and glorious day! Nowadays he was more like a Project Director, looking for the flaws in the mission reports, doing briefings but most certainly desk bound. The report he was currently reviewing was absolutely awful and full of bad decisions, lack of pro-activity and preparation. And sometimes Mark got distracted like any normal human, but he was not human!

Suddenly he felt essence or the Quickening signalling presence of one of his kind, so strong he could almost taste it. The best way he could think to describe it would be to smell the difference between a really good cafeteria coffee in Starbucks and instant granules. The only immortal Mark knew who was that seasoned was Methos, I hope. Reaching for weapons, in this case a Katana and Shoto, just to be safe and opened his immortal senses so that could hear and feel whoever it was coming up in the lift. As the door opened the distinctive Roman nose and dark hair, Methos! Thank crap for that! He must be mad for thinking that.

"That's a lovely greeting that is, swords drawn" Methos said sarcastically.

"Sorry. Well…..er, what brings you here old friend?" Mark said putting down his weapons a little sheepishly, a frown was creeping across his brow.

"I'm leaving for awhile, and wanted to say 'au revoir" replied Methos. Where was he going?

"Where? The Dimensional Market? " Mark enquired knowing that you could barter or sell pretty much anything at a place called Dimensional Market, the biggest debate was where it actually was. He had heard a lot of the theories as to its location, a different dimension, some said a planet - theories abounded. In short, no one knew and those that did were not telling. The only way there was via magic of some kind- be it portal, teleportation etc.

"No somewhere else. But as we're on a subject, can you remember when I asked you to look into preternatural science, i.e. learn as much as possible on biology, and genetics. Look into the others sciences, maths, physics and the chemistry angle?"

"Yeh. Why?"

"I wanted to know if you had found anything?" asked Methos. Mark sometimes thought himself fortunate and occasionally unfortunate to know Methos, he is one secretive S.O.B. and quite frankly suspected he was older than 5000 years, maybe he was just cynical?

"Quite a few things" Mark replied defensively.

Methos was a little annoyed that his reception was drawn swords, but accepted it as a quirk of his kind, and strode to the fridge for a beer.

"So tell me what you know then" he said raising an eyebrow in the process, waiting for his students reply. Methos had taught Tak Ne, also known as Ramirez, eventually encountering Mark twenty years after his change into an immortal and began to instruct him in the 'game', and in time taught him how to use his own internal electrical energy to produce what people would call magic. He was hoping his student had pieced most it together so that he could run his little errand in another galaxy…

Mark wondered why Methos was asking him about these things now. What is he after? What is he hiding? He paused for a second to gather his thoughts and answered Methos's questions.

"Okay, immortals are effectively mutants, with a lot of additional genes. We have no junk genes like ordinary humans but we do have quite a few animal genes. I presume were either put there or came about through evolution and developed as a result of natural selection. As we grow age, our Quickening increases and our senses get better. We can smell like a dog, see like an eagle, hear like an owl. We regenerate like bacteria, particularly Dinoccus Radiodurans, only faster. We have the ability to grow stem cells over maimed or severed limbs allowing full re-growth, just like a Salamander. And that's just the start"

"Go on" said Methos gesturing with his beer in Mark's general direction, obviously indicating for him to continue talking. Something is wrong here!

"The gene that controls ageing has shrivelled up, but still exists in us. In effect there is no set number of beats that our heart will have in our lifetime, unlike humans. I presume this is partly responsible for our longevity. Our muscles have enhanced enzymes in them allowing us to store much more oxygen, like seals. Our photoreceptors in our eyes allow enhanced night vision, some of us are even able to see in infrared and ultraviolet range. I cannot see in either of the latter two ranges, but I can hear in the ultrasound frequency similar to a bat. Why do you want to know this? Or rather, you knew all this already somehow didn't you, and wanted to confirm for yourself that I knew?"

"Okay you got me" replied Methos taking another sip of beer, "tell me what conclusion on the above facts you have reached?" Was he ever going to see Methos again after today? He hoped so as he really liked his mentor.

"Some of this is speculation on my part. Our cells generate greater amounts of energy, hence our Quickening is really an inherent electrical charge. As we get older our Quickening increases. I believe this electric charge 'kick starts' a gene into working, or gets it to create an enzyme starting a chemical reaction. Ergo enhanced senses, and other skills. But it doesn't stop there. We grow new muscles and bones as we age, and are connected differently to normal humans thus generating a stronger skeletal structure. One of my x-rays fell into the hands of a government doctor, resulting in a new body for one Michael Wiseman after his accident. The new and old muscles are more compact, with the greater oxygen storage making us stronger and faster, with greater endurance"

"You're almost there, but keep talking" he said with a very large smile on his face, walking back to the fridge again.

"Get me one will ya?" Mark asked watching as Methos came back with two beers. Surely there must be a revelation soon!

Methos threw a beer to his student, please froth over as they both removed the tops with their bare hands and looked back at Mark. Damn! He was feeling truly impish, today for some reason, the thought of the unknown once more? He was truly proud of his achievements, the knowledge he had gained. Where Duncan MacLeod only saw the human side of the world, Mark knew all about the Dragon that the Earth really was, and the Fire Lords. Methos knew he could never return to Earth now, Mark must carry on what he had started. So immersed was he in his own thoughts, Methos almost didn't notice that Mark had started to speak again.

"There are also a shit load of genes that I cannot identify a function for. But my skeletal structure is slightly stronger than a human's, less liable to break. But I don't understand what Quickening is for? And why do some of us die first, and why some just become immortals over time".

"If it is any consolation, I once thought we were magical beings, but now know differently. On the most part you are exactly right. Our Quickening acts like a motor or a 'kick start' to various genes and chemical functions allowing us to use more of our potential" said Methos leaning next to Marks' laptop and continued, "the other genes seem to be there for changing our bodies. We are at heart carbon based lifeforms. My skeleton is now made a very hard carbon fibre, and my skin extremely tough, needless to say my muscles are more of the same. In another thousand years your changes will be complete, and it will be your mind and intellect that soars"

"Are you talking psionics? Something else?" Mark had always pondered the how far the immortal system could go, Methos had told him about the gods or the electrical beings native to the planet, although he had never really met any.

"Yes" said Methos. Mark was getting frustrated, talk about a bloody monosyllabic answer. Always being secretive?

"Now what is the purpose of the Quickening, think!" Just as Methos said that Mark could feel an electric charge to air around him, what is Methos doing?

Methos was using his Quickening to power some really basic magic, hopefully to point his student towards a few other simple conclusions. With a bit of luck and ingenuity this would work out. As his magic reached out, all electrical activity on Marks' computer stopped and it turned off. He had to leave soon anyway, most of his past shrouded from his memory somehow hoping to find someone who could unlock it. Ma'al is dead and cannot help me now.

Mark watched in horror as all electrical function on his computer stopped and it turned off abruptly.

"You've lost my bloody work Methos" he shouted, while all Methos could was sit there and laugh while basking in the heat on the sun through the window. No dear god it couldn't be that simple.

"Some kind of data transfer? You did that on purpose!" he asked Methos while rubbing his neck vigorously.

Methos just smiled at his student. He had understood! Neither of those damn fool highlanders would have understood. Why could he not remember more than five thousand years ago?

"Exactly. It allows a fast and rapid transfer of all memories from one immortal to another. If that is the case, what about the 'game' and holy ground"

"I've always thought the same as you oh teacher of mine. The 'game' is completely pointless, a way to thin us down by some unknown, again reason unknown. Now the holy ground thing I really don't know. All immortals can sense holy ground, but oil fields don't register especially as they are the places of the greatest number and largest dead". Mark had a no idea why fighting in oil fields wasn't permissible. Okay he knew the basics that the bones of dinosaurs had decayed and resulted in the creation of oil by being compressed and heated over millions of years.

"All beings I've come across have small amounts of an electrical charge, human or otherwise, even if they will never use it for anything except normal living needs. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, so with death these electrical energies are released into the ground and in the case of oil fields the energy has long since discharged" said Methos taking another swig of beer, "did you know by the way that great faith, it activates a dormant form of psychic power? Now Mark, what about magic, how does that work?" That's why we can't fight on holy ground, the electrical energy in Quickening reacts very explosively with the ambient energy of the dead.

"Jesus Methos, what's with the twenty thousand questions? Anybody would think you're not coming back"

"I didn't say I was or I wasn't. Magic, how does it work?" he asked impatiently.

"I've discreetly taken blood from other immortals, both alive and dead. Most do not have access to magic as they do not generate enough electrical power. It allows the user to act as a lens or magnifying glass, and force their will on the universe. Which incidentally is also why a lot of human mages burn themselves out from the inside, ageing and destroying their cells"

"It is, but now you're drifting off topic". He was hoping for a pat on the back, not!

"It follows cause and effect, and laws of thermodynamics in that creating heat will cause molecules and atoms to speed up near the target. If I don't have enough energy myself, I can just take or 'leech' the energy from somewhere, it might cause molecules to slow down somewhere nearby creating a frost or ice. That is unless I use Quickening in which my energy levels decrease. It is the same if I am 'killed' repeatedly, I heal slower and slower until my cells regenerate their electrical charge. I require immortal sleep to heal the injuries"

"Excellent!" Said Methos, "But also bare in mind should one immortal kill another that is a mage, they will gain that ability, or gene". He paused for another swig of beer, as Mark watched him savour the taste. "I am quite proud of you. Sometimes that damn fool Highlander just doesn't think. His black and white view of the world can be refreshingly naïve though. What about the use of incantations, why does that work?" Methos asked inquiringly.

"I really don't know. Come on give me a hint"

Methos knew that asking this would stump his student, but he must learn and quickly if his dreams and premonitions of danger were anything. Personally he knew that Duncan had a bit of a complex about living a normal life, but Mark gave it all up in the hope he would help others by being part of the League. Methos had done a lot of things in his past, he had created the Watchers and the League in ages past. It's a pity he would not have the opportunity to teach him what Ma'al had shown Methos about Quickening. Maybe I will leave some Quickening as a gift, he'll never know until later.

"Two answers. One is to think maths" Methos answered.

"That's your clue. It's a bit bloody cryptic unless you know the answer" Mark answered completely dumfounded. He didn't have any idea where he was headed with this. Maybe by playing exceptionally dumb Methos would spill the beans, more chance of hell freezing over. Always veils and deceits with Methos.

"What are humans, and what is the difference between them and computers?" Methos said. Mark was not impressed with the hints, and as far as he was concerned it was crap!

"Humans are mammals, and computers are unintelligent machines". Mark was after one more hint, and was starting to deduce the answer. He felt a bit like Sherlock Holmes on a case, now there was a good man! Shame he died falling over the waterfall.

"Think a bit wider scale" suggested Methos again.

"Okay, as a wild guess, humans or living organisms are organic, and computers are inorganic." Where was this going? I'm usually good at seeing patterns, but he is stopping me somehow.

"Yes and no" said Methos slowly drumming his fingers on the table impatiently again. For a man over 5000 years old he is not very patient.

"Well that is a great clue Methos. Some of us haven't been around 5000 years, or more. I am right aren't I about you being older"

"Either you've gone as dense as a Macleod or I didn't teach you well enough. Human, immortals, vampires and any other organism are Organic computers, hence anything else will be?" asked Methos.

"Inorganic computers" Mark said hopefully.

"So, incantation magic is what?"

"Are you suggesting the universe is a combination of one huge organic and inorganic computer?"

"Bit of both really, and more besides, but yes I am". So he was supposed to think maths.

"Some kind of naturally occurring circuitry, but hidden-like a kind of back door?" Mark said crossing his fingers. Methos saw this and smiled again.

"Yep"

Mark noticed that Methos had finished his beer again, and went to get two more from the fridge. Does he never stop drinking? He had never known anyone imbibe like him, except alcoholics!

"Now. Did you know immortals can have children, but it is again down to age and Quickening?"

"Well at least you've not asked me about my favourite sexual position" Mark retorted sarcastically, interrupting him, "are you now telling me that you have kids Methos?"

"Some of the immortals are the children of ancient ones like me, others just naturally occurring" Methos added the second bit, a little too hastily. Mark was getting suspicious about the way this was shaping up, but damned if he would ask and suspected Methos wouldn't answer at all or truthfully. He hung around Duncan a lot, could he be Duncan's father? Could Methos be my father?

"Right then Methos, where the hell is the bloody Dimensional Market?"

"Well…..you don't really need to know that, but it is on a planet in this galaxy" He bloody knew it. So much for another dimension!

"Makes sense Methos. You are old though aren't you?"

"I'll tell you a secret I am older than 5000 but compared to 'The First One' in another galaxy I am not even newly born"

"Oh come on, you've been to another galaxy" Mark asked incredulously.

"No, he came here. Lorien is the first living being in the whole universe, over ten billion years old"

"Now you're bullshitting me" Mark said starting to get bored, picking at the label on his beer. Surely he can't be telling the truth?

"No actually, he was the first of many. He showed many of younger races like the Shadows how to teach other races that will follow and to guide them" Methos replied with conviction.

"You're actually serious about this aren't you?"

"When you're in the presence of the oldest being in the universe it can be quite humbling. Besides as Lorien once said to me, 'words and names have power'. Hence back to magic again. What do you know about planck space and planck time?" asked Methos going back to his twenty questions self.

"It is the smallest measurement known, once we get past molecules and down to atoms, and smaller still to quarks and gluons. We can get no further, physics and maths hit a dead end". Mark had only read some articles with new theories a few weeks ago.

"Not true. There is still further we can go. But once we hit the smallest particle, there is an ocean of energy. Some call it the 'sea of god', others call it 'akira'. Whatever the phrase; it is called absolute energy. It is this energy that all life touches on and uses, including magic. So when we teleport if you like, you enter this energy briefly. It allows transport. Now it is possible to enter this energy and not emerge immediately" Methos said looking at his watch.

"Are you on a schedule? Running short on time or going to drop dead? Just tell me one thing Methos how do you know all of this?"

"A lot of it Lorien told me, the rest I figured out with the help of another source. Besides there is a veritable sea of space faring races. Remember, this is important, that when you 'sidestep', and be careful, should you be chained to a rock, or building. Nothing will happen, you won't move. Energy and mass are required for transit"

"So where are you going then Methos?"

"Quickly, I must leave soon, vampires and Lycans. What about them?" shouted Methos. He was definitely getting flustered and could see the veins standing out in his neck. What is his problem! He was after something.

"Well similar to us really. They do not age, but are infected by a virus effectively changing their DNA adding extra sequences. After 50 years the changes are irreversible, at least we do not possess the gene therapy for that kind of task. What would happen if an immortal were to inject themselves with both vampire with the Lycan virus?"

"Where do you think the DNA came from in the first place?" Methos answered back sarcastically.

"What do you mean Methos?" Surely he wasn't suggesting? Is this the revelation he was leaving me with?

"That's how we started off. Plus obviously different types, or species of vampire"

"Do all vampires come from us then?"

"Think about the myth of Dracula, not the one both you and Connor know-someone or thing far darker that goes by the name of Dagon"

"I've heard the legends"

"They're all correct. It all came from us, we were the original immortals"

"Come on that's a bit far fetched!" That was stating the bleeding obvious! Mark began to peel the top part of the label from his beer.

"So immortals are the same, by placing the head next to the body and by forcing a part of your Quickening into deceased the immortal with live again. Besides it is a bit like that Government facility you created to learn about immortals with the head researcher Adam Kane at Genomex. You thought I didn't know?" and with that Methos vanished into another plane or dimension. Mark couldn't believe he was gone. Good luck Methos my friend wherever you are going! He whispered silently.

Just as Methos went into the astral plane, he left a parting gift of Quickening for Mark, and it contained all his memories with Ma'al, and learning how to control his internal and ambient energies.

Methos's little visit had spurred him to do a little additional research, particularly into the Vampires and Shapeshifter virus. He had decided enter the information given by Methos onto his PC with other queries for future use.

QUERY

Some vampires as they both got older are able to mimic or copy some powers of certain shapeshifters. There were various types of Shapeshifter, cat, bear & wolf. There are more types although they are rare. Each type carries a slightly different virus, and without having the right genes the human being bitten dies. E.g. should a human without some kind of cat genes be bitten by a Shapeshifter in cat form, they will die. The same would occur if they had redundant wolf genes etc.

There were a lot of 'junk' DNA that humans possessed. Some people are happier in groups, and others loners? These genes must have some direction or control over that behaviour.

The virus evolves on different ages of Vampire, code 5 beta & Shapeshifter, and they carry a more complete form of the virus at about 800 years old, meaning a human being bitten will live no matter what. Therefore any bite carries that information across. If immortals carry information in Quickening, therefore Vampires and Shapeshifters both are able to contain memories in blood or saliva. It is certainly a less destructive way to do it.

Another thing, all the tests done on code 5 alpha , otherwise known as the 'dead ones' the other species of vampire, and have always been confused how they continue to move and exist despite not breathing. As far as modern instrumentation is concerned they are dead, period. Somehow they must carry another virus within their system which animates dead tissue, allowing movement and thinking. This same virus, allows regeneration from death, whether it be daylight or staking. Their death is almost as explosive as immortals.

If blood from the same type of vampire is applied to the red powder, or residue, they return to life! Even immortals are not capable of that, unless the last comment by Methos is to be taken seriously? Perhaps code 5 beta tissue and Shapeshifters are capable of something similar. Code 5 alpha tissue, cannot be recorded electronically in any way, and neither do they have a reflection. Test. Should the code 5 alpha tissue be injected into an immortal? Who?

Mark went into one of his draws and found an unused syringe and resignedly went to a vault which was kept in his basement, which contained all his weapons. At the back of this vault was another vault, and in it were kept a few additional items of interest if he never needed them. Entering the combination, he put his eye to the device while a retinal scan taken. Slowly the door began to open. Looking at a container full of several pints of blood he walked inside reached for syringe, filling it up with blood and injected it into a vein. He did this about four times, what will happen? He mused and walked out of vault, closing the door as he went. As he left the main, also closing this door and went back upstairs.

It had taken a week, but Mark had gone to the Dimensional Market to try and track Methos after his sudden exit without luck. He cursed once more, and returned to earth unable to locate a trail or help of any kind having become quite melancholy of late, the recent events had finally gotten to him. Don't let the bastards grind you down. He needed to do several things now, and one was to have a 'catch-up' with the League members, explaining the new developments. Lastly he would then need to go to Threshold in D.C and explain about bloody Synthetics/ Cylons. Why me? Whoever this 4th Dimensional being was, it sure knew the right person to choose. Unfortunately he had not noticed a Cylon, or a Synthetic that he was aware of. Another thankless task. Once Mark had done his briefs, next item on the ever growing 'to do list' would be to track down Chuck Taggart. Methos had him confused whether these creatures were actually organic or inorganic computers. Fabulous! But then again, what did he care as long as it could be killed, and then burn it to ash. As his friend Connor Macleod had once said 'love is for poets' and he certainly preferred to remain among the living and if that meant going on the warpath, then so be it! He had also decided to let the undead vampires know, who wanted to enslave humanity. They would now have to work together with humans or we would all pay the price, internal conflict being the biggest divider and destroyer. In this case the planet. Mankind must be ready to stand and drive the invaders away.

The Chinese immortal Chian-Ku sat and thought about the report his colleague and friend had just given. The brief was disturbing in itself, of civilisation, possibly reaching the technological singularity and machines rising up to destroy humanity. Can't be surely? He'd been alive for almost two thousand years, subjectively at any rate, having been born and re-incarnated several times. He was one of what some would call the Enlightened immortals, individuals who through learning and internal energy regulation were able to prevent ageing, such mastery over ages past had got them defied, to be worshipped as either as arhats and buddhas, beings of power. Unlike the other kind of immortals that Mark Sabat was part of, most of whom knew relatively little of the Planetary Dragon, the underworld, and its gods and denizens; Chian-Ku on the other hand was intimately familiar. He looked at his other team member, and partner Mei Yi. To all, she was a stunningly attractive Chinese woman in her mid twenties, but that was her human form; her other form was that of a Chinese dragon!

His phone was vibrating in a pocket somewhere. He dug through multiple pockets until he found it; must be off today. Not like him to move his phone around.

"Hello". Mark really disliked answering a phone with his name for security purposes and checked his watch, 11pm. He hadn't eaten all day and was suffering from mortal tiredness, either food or sleep would in order. Still those strange dreams persisted, although the metallic sounding voice in it was no longer disembodied and possessed a vague arachnid shape shrouded in darkness. It continued to ask the same question though "What do you want?"

"Is that Mark? It's Chuck Taggart". The voice sounded very tense, almost terse, was that squealing tires her heard in the background of the phone?

"It is Mark, Chuck. What's going on?"

"We're currently in D.C being chased by some sentients going along East Capitol Street" he replied. Now what were the chances of that! of them all being in the same city. Mark was beginning to suspect that Mr 4D had been doing a slight management of events. His life is never this easy! Luckily his laptop was already on, in fact he rarely turned it off and consulted the 'sat nav' to get a bearing.

"I'm just trying to getting info to come get you, hang on"

"That's easy for you to say!" Mark could hear the desperation in the voice, although it definitely sounded like Kurt now. Why do things never happen fast enough when the need is dire? Eventually the map came up, and in Marks' opinion it took far too long. Looking at the distance on the map, it was ten minutes journey at the speed limit. Yeh right!

Chuck was driving his Mustang quite aggressively, as the sentients who were giving chase were not giving up easily. In fact Kurt was firmly of the opinion they would not stop until they were dead, as one leant out of the window and shot in their direction, ducking down behind the seat a little hoping not to expose his head.

"Jesus Chuckie! Don't you think we could try to lose them". Sometimes Chuck didn't listen, there were Synthetics chasing them, Sentients were the program based in the internet.

"What the hell do you think I'm trying to do? Invite them round for a barbeque!" Chuck commented while absently chewing on his cigar which had now gone out.

"I was beginning to wonder" Kurt retorted trying to hold dinner down while Chuck swerved around traffic and made and aggressive turn at the red lights. Please let me keep it down. There walking across the road was a woman taking her baby out in a stroller. Please miss her Kurt silently prayed as Chuck made immediate use of the horn, swerving at the last minute making his heart thud in chest like it was trying to escape.

Generally Mark drove a 4 x 4 as it came in quite handy. Most of the individuals they chased didn't stop when they hit bad road or a dirt track, it was also turbo-charged to the hilt for which he was glad. Putting his foot down he ran three red lights, being careful to avoid oncoming traffic while doing around 100mph plus. It was while doing these manoeuvres that he had acquired a 'black & white' police car on his tail.

"Fuck me! Not now I'm busy, go arrest a jay walker" he shouted to no one in particular. Damn fucking PD!

"What the hell is he doing?" asked Peter who was the driver of the police car today, tomorrow it would be his partners' turn. Both were currently sipping coffee chatting, it's Julia's birthday tomorrow, the money will come in handy for meal with her and the kids. It had been a long day, and both were on over-time. Something neither of their wives happy about, which had been the main part of their conversation, about getting 'earache' at home.

"Get afta 'im" answered the partner Jeff, besides I need to the kids out too. They had been close friends were almost twenty years, best men at each others' weddings, even grown up together. Jeff flicked on the lights, and grabbing for the radio, "despatch we have a black four by four doing over a hundred going north on Larchmont Avenue and are in pursuit" putting his coffee back into the drinks holder as they gave chase while wiping his coffee from his chin. Let's get him!

Marks' temper was beginning to get the better of him, and reaching for his phone and made his own call.

"Despatch"

"I'm on Larchmont Avenue. I'm agent no 45684712456 get those B & W's off my damn tail now!"

"Just checking ID" said the very unhelpful female voice.

"Do it and do it now!" he said losing all semblance of patience. Idiots!

"Confirming your ID"

"Check quicker! If they hamper my mission I'm gonna shoot out their tyres! While you're at it put a reverse APB out, if any B & W's encounter me they leave me the fuck alone"

"We've confirmed your ID, and we are contacting the unit now". The PD are such damn imbeciles most of the time, and spend a lot of time getting in my way. But he wasn't exactly being covert doing 120mph.

"Chuck where are you now?" Mark asked no one in particular again. He found talking to himself quite relaxing, and sometimes the Quickening belonging to another immortal would answer right back. Slowing the car down to a sedate thirty, used immortal senses to search for them. Nothing!

"Help!" Was that someone shouting for help? He came to a complete stop and got out of the car trying to pinpoint the sound again.

"Help!" although it was no sound, more like an impression. Did this mean it was more a cry for help that he had picked up? Looking around, all he could see were warehouses, and tried to listen for heartbeats hoping that would pinpoint his friends- which way first? He could remember Methos giving him this lesson, 'close your eyes, follow your instinct'. As he walked, there was a tingle up his spine into his head. The closer he got the stronger it became.

"Chuck, Kurt, anyone there" he shouted.

"Mmmmmpff" It seemed fairly obvious to him it sounded like someone who was being held against their will. Slowly extending his immortal senses into the nearest building, there were six life signs, only three had exceptionally fast heartbeats indicative of panic setting in. What were the others, preternaturals? He slowly opened the metal door, being careful and quiet as he had been taught by the ninja of medieval Japan, controlling his breath and heartbeat.

No one had seen or heard him enter, good! He quickly located the captives in the corner and used his Quickening to mask his presence, unsure of what he was facing, moving quietly in the shadows. He stealthily crept up to one opponent, quickly grabbing him by the throat and withdrew back into the shadows taking care to ensure no one heard a scream - silently breaking the neck, leaving the body out of sight. Next one! According to the last conversation, Chuck said they were sentients. He would need to engage one in open combat to see what they were capable of. Mark stepped quickly up to another sentient who was standing near Chuck and hit him clean in the side of the jaw, knocking him off his feet into the brick wall, most of which cracked with the force of impact. Was it still alive? Mark quickly drew his gun, pulling the trigger and emptied a full fifty plus rounds into the head and body of the standing sentient as white liquid flowed from its' wounds, all over the floor. They really weren't joking about the inhuman things, but I'm not human- not any more.

Checking for other obstacles or opponents, satisfied that it was all clear he removed the gags and ropes tying up some new associates; Chuck, Kurt and Angela.

"Jesus" shouted Chuck.

"Where the hell did you come from?" asked Angela.

"I trained with the ninja between the fifteen hundreds to eighteen hundreds." Mark walked over the sentient that had bounced off the wall and reached to check for its pulse. Discontent pervaded his expression at not finding one.

"Shit it's dead"

"They don't have pulses" Kurt added helpfully.

"Hang on, wait it's okay. Got a pulse" Mark said extending his immortal senses, Mark confirmed for himself that life was still present in this one, but the other two were completely dead. Mark had always had a belief that if you're going to kill something not human, may as well be sure. He would enjoy torturing this sentient at Threshold and Molly Caffrey be damned! Failure was not an option, they were under attack on two fronts now.

"Really? That's odd" remarked Kurt.

The synthetic with no teeth was still where it lay, the one with bullet holes and the other with a broken neck were still dead with no apparent healing or life signs. Just the way he liked corpses, still dead and unmoving. He will not personalise this enemy by giving them sexes or names.

"Don't just stand around like Muppets, get the bodies on the back seat of my car" he said grabbing car keys from his pocket and throwing them, "Chuck, here are my keys. Please get the blanket out the boot and on to the back seats. Upholstery cleaning costs a mint!" As they all stood staring at him. He believed in being polite first if possible. "Pronto people I haven't got all day!" Mark looked at the unconscious synthetic again, as it was showing no urge to recover or regain consciousness so he slung it over his left shoulder, have to keep a gun hand free, and walked towards the car. Mark was missing something, but what? He could hear some kind of commotion outside like bodies being dropped!

Chuck was dragging the synthetic that had been shot to Mark's car. He wasn't really keen on carrying it and getting covered in white goo. Damn things! He noticed that Kurt and Angela were having trouble carrying the other body. Dead weights are never easy and continued on the laborious task. As he opened the door into the night air, pulling the corpse along, noticed flashing lights and two police officers pointing guns at him. Fucking brilliant, what the hell else will go wrong? While immersed in his thoughts out came Kurt and Angela, having forgotten about them. The police had surprised them.

"Freeze!" There was no way he was going to shoot an officer, besides he left a gun at home and was trying to think of a way out of this. Mark where the hell are you? Chuck hoped they wouldn't get arrested, Paige would be really mad, and he let out a deep sigh. But she's dead.

"But the body down and raise your hands. Move away from each other, slowly"

Kurt saw the sirens too late, as obviously Chuck had, and in a moment of panic obeyed the officers without question, dropping the body. He noticed Angela had done the same and the corpse dropped with a dull meaty thud. Just great! In two minds whether to shout for Mark or not, allegedly being a government agent; unless it had all been a lieeHe

Kurts' heartbeat sped up at the thought of this, sweat forming on his brow. He looked at Chuck, who was obviously getting worried himself.

"It's okay officer, don't shoot" he said a little overly loud, hoping Mark had heard and would save their asses! He didn't fancy rotting in jail for ten years, otherwise the Earth would not be saved. I could be on the beach, with topless girls and quickly banished those extraneous thoughts. He heard Chuck sigh, as if to say I give up.

Angela thought the body was quite heavy, and wondered what they made synthetics out of. As soon as she saw the lights and the police pointing firearms at them, we're dead and wondered if even her dead would be able to get her out. Got to be worth a call, and looked at Kurt and Chuck, both seemed to be feeling the same despair and despondency.

"Now all of you lie face down on the floor". This was almost the worst moment of her life, next to her father ruining their family or oh yes. The top of the list was arriving five years in the past, with no memory of getting here- going blank in the middle of space walk!

"Okay" she said, and slowly started to lie face down on the floor. Where is he? Did he lie about being an agent? They were dangerous thoughts that could lead to nowhere good. She tried to concentrate, and mentally the will the situation to turn out okay.

Mark hadn't even got out the building and could tell this was going to get messy and was using the speech of the officers to place their location. He recalled the exact placement of cars, and obstacles and then pictured their location in his 'minds eye'. It was almost like being there, and rarely got it wrong. Mark was trying to decide tactics in this situation, kill the officers or let them live? If he shot them and his superiors found out, they would not be pleased although they could not afford to put him in jail. He was simply too pivotal at the moment with everything that was going on. Screw it and drew both pistols setting them to full auto and emerged from the building. They were told to leave well alone, his car was just outside and even a PD officer couldn't miss a huge 4 x 4 car? The unconscious hostage was still over a shoulder and came out the building, pointing guns at the police officers. Fuck me, it's the same damn plate as earlier.

"Officers freeze! You are now interfering in a classified mission of the US Government. You were told to back off! Put down your guns or I will execute you"

"We are police officers, put down your weapons or we will open fire." The one on the drivers' side replied.

"Well it's either that or Quantanamo Bay for the rest of your lives. Choose" he said flicking the settings on both guns to single shot watching both officers broke out in sweat and awaiting their response. Although he wasn't giving anymore than ten seconds. Impatience flooded him and Mark let the vampire side surface. Most vampires were slightly stronger and faster and capable of great bursts of speed immortals weren't, but it was tiring for them in a long-term fight, so it tended to even out. But I'm both. At that point Mark sidestepped faster than either could react and shot them both in the hands, causing them to drop their weapon. Being almost a thousand years old is great for some having spare time for target practice! Ever since the invention of gunpowder he'd gotten really good at sniping with muskets, and gun technology had only improved since then. Ramirez had taught this little trick to Connor before he died; about feeling the power of an animal and with practice became instinctual to the point that having the animal nearby was longer necessary.

Mark felt the power of a cat, a housecat to be precise as they were exceptional at jumping and leaped over the bonnet of his car with unconscious 'sentient' still over the same shoulder. He could hear screaming from the police officers.

"Right boys I wasn't kidding about the death or Quantanamo Bay thing either. I hereby place you both under arrest for interfering with a Classified Government Project" and Mark kicking them both in the head which knocked them out. He couldn't be bothered with fancy pressure points and energy channelling. Deciding that they needed to move, "keys Chuck" he said forcefully.

"You can't kill them" Angela said, with a touch of urgency in her voice while he put one gun away.

"They are taking a trip to 'the Bay' for disobeying a direct order. I will not tolerate PD officers sticking in their noses where they do not belong. Keys!" Mark said holding out his hand and noticed that the hand wounds both PD officers had received were bleeding a lot, but it soon stops though and took the keys from Chuck. He knew this was harsh reachinginto the drivers' side and got some plasti-cuffs and bounds both officers arms and legs. They were each placed on top of the synthetic corpses in the boot, just to freak them out glad he had opted for tinted windows in both the front and the back. Hurray for modern technology.

"May as well go home now then" said Kurt.

"Nope, you're all coming with me to Threshold to get a thorough biological 'workup' on these things. Cut them up a little" Mark said with a real evil grin, beginning to let the anger he felt to consume him. He drove off leaving the 'black & white' where it was, while Chuck and his team followed behind, and was looking forward to cutting up these things, whatever they were. Soon the prisoner would soon be dead, today was a very good day. Mark felt fangs extend and nipping his tongue, the blood running down the back of his throat sending a ripple of pleasure through him.

They watched in awe at how fast Mark had sidestepped, becoming a blur and twin shots ringing out. Angela seriously thought he had killed them, until both dropped their guns. That's some serious marksmanship and knew very few who could've done that! What surprised her most was when he jumped fifteen feet carrying the unconscious synthetic over the front of the car almost on top of the officers. Amazing! She had seen films where it happened but thought it impossible in real life. Relief flooded through her when Mark said about not killing them, to be replaced by dread at the mention of Quantanomo Bay. He can't surely? She did not see either pity or compassion from either Chuck or Kurt. When she thought about it, they had narrowly missed a very long stay in prison and put any compassion out of her head. Maybe I take after my dad in more ways than one. Thunderclouds were above and getting darker by the minute.

High in the Great Tree, the Furor's electromagnetic form watched the events with interest. Aware of the reason he feared technology, the destruction it could cause. He did not like the immortal parasite at all and was worried about the recent turn of events, having seen Earths destruction with his 'strong' eye, estimated to be within five years. He would call counsel with King Someone Knows the Truth, maybe even risk waking the Dragon- it must know what might happen. Perhaps they could work together. The very thought made him shudder.

Flashback- earlier that week.

Mark's surveillance of Chuck Taggart had proved fruitful. It would seem that they met at the same diner on a regular basis, at least twice a week, sometimes daily. Using this 'intel', it would be to arrive partway through their meeting. Mark was dressed as most agents would, tactically and rarely removed his BP vest, usually covered by a jacket to hide it. It was easier to disguise being shot and walking away. Mark slowly walked into the diner, and saw all five were currently in discussion over lunch. He grabbed a spare chair from another table that no one was using, and sat down at their table interrupting their discussion.

"Sorry but this table is taken, find another " Chuck said his face set in a scowl.

"I've come to see all five of you"

"Just who the hell are you?" asked Kurt pleasantly with just a tinge of annoyance as they were obviously partway through a discussion.

"I believe we have an acquaintance in common, a certain being outside space-time. I am offering my aide to fight the sentients, but you are currently lacking resources"

"You didn't answer my friends question" remarked Chuck more angrily.

"My name is Mark Sabat and I work at the upper echelon of government"

"So you're some kind of agent? CIA? Black ops?"

"My job is to help safeguard this country, and the world. What you need to know is who your enemies are and who you can trust"

"Bullshit! And I suppose we can trust you" said Chuck Taggart. Mark was beginning to notice Chuck was quite an aggressive person.

"This is not the first time that Earth has been invaded you know. It's happened before in 1850" Mark said

Chuck wondered who this asshole was sitting down at their table and quite frankly didn't care. They were trying to save the Earth and did not have time to spare. When this stranger started going on about wanting to see them specifically, he was beginning to think Sentients or was it Synthetics had found out who they were. It was all really beginning to aggravate Chuck, especially claiming to be some kind of mysterious agent, which was hardly likely. Why would he offer to help them? Even claiming to have encountered the being that they had all recently met, that was outside space and time. Was it possible he had visited this stranger? He was even saying that Earth had been invaded before, what bullshit! Chuck saw several pistols secured in holsters. When this stranger, Mark, reached into a bag he was carrying to extract a file and dumped it on the table.

"I was the one that had to sterilise the village of all life, 300 innocent lives lost, men, women and children. All the complete mission reports are on the CD" Mark said showing a copy of the paper reports.

"Now you've got to joking" said Neil Taggart. If what he was saying could be believed, he was around and kicking in 1850? Now that he did not believe.

"Now wait a minute. You said that you killed the inhabitants of the village in 1850" asked Kurt, Chuck noticed that his curiosity had been piqued. This stranger had obviously ignored his question again and continued on with his inane prattle.

"It happened again at the end of the 19th century, around Clapham Common, but that was in the UK and damage was fairly widespread" Mark stated. Again another file was pulled from his bag, as it placed in front of Neil and Kurt.

"Surely you can't be seriously be suggesting that the HG Wells classic actually happened?" incredulity in Kurts voice, while looking at the file like it was garbage. He could not believe some this, the story sounded far fetched, although the contents of the files looked genuine on first glance. If he's government, the resources would be there to fake it. The first file had a microscope slide picture of the DNA, definitely triple helix; certainly not human. Who was this man and what was he involved in? Admittedly it could all just be so much Sentient garbage to entrap them. Skimming through the reports on the 1850, it appeared that some kind of alien ship had appeared and changed all the witnesses, who had tried to pass on the infection through bodily fluid, blood. Newly written on the page were the comments, bio-form the populace, terra-formed the planet. Could this even be possible, take over the planet covertly? The Sentients were, weren't they? Kurts hands were beginning to shake as he saw pictures of some kind of crystals in the ground glass trees.

"You will all note that the first file has some recently added writing. That phrase is the term our mutual associate used". He noticed that Neil was busy looking at the second file, and passed a few pictures to Angela and his dad, Chuck.

Neil Taggart examined the other file, looking at the so called Martian War Machines that had attacked the Earth right out of HG Wells classic. This had to be rubbish at least they were his initial thoughts, until he scrolled down through a print of some code.

"What's this?" he asked.

"That is the best translation we could come up with of the Martian computer program. The whole contents of a CD are taken up which is barely 1 percent. The rest is stored at Area 51 and the Woomera Range in New Zealend"

"What is the significance of this Woomera Range? Some kind of military base" asked Angela.

"UK's equivalent of Area 51" Mark replied. Neil thought that the ship schematics could easily be faked, but inside was a formula he could not decipher.

"Kurt do you know what this is?" he asked passing over the bit of paper. Neil noticed that Mark was about to answer and then shut his mouth. "Come on Kurt" he urged. His dad, took a look at the paper.

"Do you mind?" shouted Kurt snatching back the paper with the formulae on. "At a guess I'd say cold fusion".

"Was he right?" Neil saw the strangers face just drop. " He was right, wasn't he?"

"Yes" Mark stammered, "but it doesn't work, there is something we're missing" his face falling and then continued "Just read the file. The damage from the Martians was sort of offset during the first and second World Wars. Plus most of the survivors perished in these two rather senseless conflicts"

"It happened yet again in 1995, Scotland UK again. The area and population had been manipulated by the aliens for years. They are called the ND's, beings that reside in what we believe is another dimension. They need living matter for their organic machines, and had been abducting folk. Eventually they used a 'higher space' design to open a five mile hole on a large hill. This construct was designed to drain living energy from the environment, grass, soil; absolutely everything. Rocks were left untouched, but the sphere expanded as more life energy was drained. Apparently they have done this to other worlds, and civilisations. We had to destroy a fifty mile perimeter around the phenomenon and take away it's fuel. A full thermonuclear detonation was required for this" Mark said handing over yet another file.

"Why are you giving us this information" inquired Chuck

"Because you may need it"

"You can't be suggesting that you're over 150 years old surely?" Remarked Kurt, who still was trying to come to terms with it.

"I'm far older than that. Let's just say that there are a group of individuals that are exceedingly long lived and the governments know about some of us"

"Right that's it I'm outta here" said Chuck who started to rise and get out of his chair.

The next thing he heard was Mark say "Sit down". For some reason this command bypassed brain and his body obeyed.

"You just made me sit down" stated Chuck irritably, "What was it hypnotism or something?"

"I used magic to make you sit"

"Now you're saying magic exists" asked Chuck

"Think of it as electromagnetic phenomenon, quantifiable by existing laws" Mark replied splaying open his fingers, little sparks projected from his finger tips.

"Jesus" said Chuck.

"Why don't they fight"

"Many do help out. A majority want to live some kind of normal life. Apparently you saw the Earth destruction. Are we talking technological singularity? Something else"

"What the hell is a" said Chuck looking at Kurt.

"Technological singularity?" answered Kurt, "it is where machines outgrow man, and some believe destroy us. The answer is we don't know"

Mark had explained everything and hoped they would turn to him for help, although he fully intended to have a surveillance team on them, listen into all their phone calls, landline or mobiles. Monitor their emails, everything. "Now here is my cell number, if you have need of any help then call me. If you need I can place an associate of mine with you to help out, ex-special forces. Now the aliens of 1850 have made a return, and I need to explain your situation to an associate of mine Molly Caffrey" with that he walked out.

End flashback……………………..

No one was there when we got to the Government agency safe house to examine our 'prisoner'. They had one prisoner and two corpses. Kurt, Angela, Neil and Chuck watched as Mark carried out as much of a medical exam as possible on the corpses. Luckily on the one with the broken neck, none of the organs were intact but the other was a write off. Most organs were punctured, and the head and brain were in pieces. There wasn't enough brain to cover a saucer, but having twenty plus bullets through it, and just as many in the torso can make quite a mess. In fact Mark took samples, tissue, bone, blood etc. of everything from both corpses for comparison purposes. Some of this would prove useful, lucky he was a qualified but not practicing Medical Doctor, well except in emergencies.

The two PD officers captured. Mark had asked for a team to send them to Quantanamo Bay and saw no morale quandary about letting people believe they were missing for a while. Screw them, if they hadn't insisted on being either heroes or 'nosey parkers' they wouldn't be in the mess. Sometimes he was a heartless bastard. Just the way it should be. They would turn up in week and be told that next time they would either join the disappearances or nasty accident list. He knew it sounded harsh, but a lot was at stake and didn't want any complications at the moment. So in his usual tradition, some would say bloodthirsty it was time to operate on the living Synthetic. The problem was the broken jaw, it would never talk again. The Synthetics unconscious form was on a bed, but instead of straps to immobilise the patient was metal looked like they belonged in a medieval dungeon.

"You have a choice, I can make it quick" he said picking up a pistol, "or I'll just let you die on the table in agony, no anaesthesia while I operate" Mark stated picking up a bone saw. To be honest he hoped other synthetics could monitor him and see the amount of pain Mark was willing to inflict. Next to him was a table with a pen and paper on it.

"I want you to write yes or no. Are you a synthetic?" Mark said gesturing to the pen and paper. The synthetics hand didn't move or twitch, "Cracking the tough ones is the most fun" as he fastened the head and chin in place, and other the same on the limbs.

"Are sentients and synthetics the same thing?" Mark didn't really expect anything straight away, maybe a few lies; maybe this one would not be a talker.

Kurt noticed that Angela watched in horror as Mark administered a local anaesthesia so his subject wouldn't go into shock and die too early; and watched as he began to cut.

"You can't do that!" she screamed, "he might not be human but that's, that's" gesturing wildly with her hands like she was a conductor in an orchestra, noticing that Mark did not seem to be fazed by what he was doing, or about to do.

"And you don't call the death of over 6 billion people justification?" asked Chuck. Kurt noticed that Neils' eyes had gone dead, the death of his mother must have affected him more than he's letting on, and Angela was getting that 'teary' eyed expression many people get when they want to be sick.

"If you're going to puke be elsewhere, now!" Mark shouted in frustration. Kurt watched as Mark was just about to remove the top of the synthetics head. He believed Mark was after a living brain sample but whatever the 'thing' was it eyes were moving frantically. "Do you have something to say? Feel free to write things down. Are you a 'sentient'", and that got a hastily written "No".

"What are you? Some other kind of freakie deekie machine?" shouted Chuck belligerently.

"Cylon"

"Is your aim to destroy the world?" asked Kurt.

"Yes" was the result.

"Why?" Kurt asked.

"My friend asked you a question. Why you fucking son of a bitch?" Chuck asked grabbing it by the lapels, "it's because of you my wife is dead" he raved punching it in the nose, as blood splattered everywhere.

All the former, or possibly future crew of the members of the Odyssey noticed that instead of white liquid coming from its' wound, blood flowed, red blood.

"It's human, stop!" shouted Angela.

"We have to stop, it's bleeding"

"Yeh so! You just heard it admit it wasn't human" remarked Chuck.

"Just because you're wife died, doesn't mean you can take your personal grudge match out on the world" retorted Kurt, which caused Chuck to turn away briefly.

"You bastard!" Chuck shouted. "It has nothing to do with that. How do you know they've not upgraded or whatever the hell you call it?"

"I'm carrying on with the interrogation" said Mark coldly, "regardless of whatever you all think"

"Because humans are impure, and do not worship god" was written reply. Chuck did not believe this. How could a tin can worship any god, let alone God, something that even he wasn't sure he believed in anyway.

"Now you are taking the piss" remarked Mark.

"Oh come on" said Chuck, "you expect us to accept that a machine believes in god?" saying exactly what he felt. But he had never been one to hold back.

"Last time this interrogation took place, you were on this table. We all exist each time the universe repeats but our roles differ" was the written response.

"Philosophy is for those with nothing better to do with their lives and quite frankly a pointless discussion" Mark replied getting more paper for him to write on. Although thinking about it that would certainly explain intuition, having probably either seen or done the action previously.

"Er quite" Kurt remarked slightly distracted for some reason. Something was bothering Kurt, although Chuck did not know what.

"When this body dies my consciousness is transferred to another body" the Cylon wrote.

Mark looked at the answers on the paper. Luckily brain surgery can actually be performed while your patient is awake, it doesn't hurt. The only painful bit is actually getting past the skull if anaesthesia isn't applied.

"Yeh, very good nice trick. But this god thing is just misdirection" Mark mused aloud, "Are there more of your kind?"

"Yes, we have ships several miles wide full of Cylons like me" he wrote. Usually his subjects were not this co-operative. Something was off. This written response bit was getting on Mark's nerves and he reached into the electrical potential all beings possess, just immortals possess a lot more than most folks, and used magic to heal. Touching the Cylons jaw line with his hand, electricity flowed down his arm, then his hand and finally into fingertips onto its skin. It would seem like nothing to an observer, just wounds healing all of sudden. The air around them became hot, shimmering with heat as the only give away something odd was happening. Broken tissue, and tendons, and bone re-knit, healing spo0nteously. He looked at Mark surprised, eyes wide.

"How did you do that?" he asked.

"So. Why exterminate the human race?" Mark asked deliberately ignoring the previous question.

"We kill humans everywhere. They are all dead on Kobol, and the survivors flee us looking for this world"

"Kobol?" Mark inquired.

"The planet mankind originated on before coming here" he said.

"Fascinating" said Kurt, noticing that Angela had stopped being sick with a deep sigh, "are you seriously suggesting mankind originated elsewhere? How far away is Kobol?"

"Yes I am. They came here many thousands of your years ago. Kobol is many parsecs away, but our jump drives malfunctioned"

"Why don't you go home, or is your ship damaged?" Kurt asked. Although this information was quite useful, he noticed that Mark had tilted his head to side as though looking for something. Then Kurt realised something, this Cylon was using delaying tactics because it knew information would be obtained from his body. He also knew that, it knew. It would have to be either brain or in the torso, a major organ.

"He can't get home or he would have done so. There are no immediate reinforcements coming. He can't call for help, and even should he be able to transfer to another body, unless there is one on earth; he will die finally". Kurt felt damned proud of himself for seeing beyond the lies.

"What makes you I can't leave when I want to?"

"Cos you would have to take me on, and quite frankly sparky you ain't got the mustard" Mark challenged and watched for body language. Kurt saw a few 'tells', maybe not as many as Mark, but quite a few. It was mainly movement of the fingers, and using the index finger nail to 'click' the thumbnail.

"Remember I can hurt you again just as easily. Why destroy this planet and kill mankind" Mark asked with an edge of anger and brutality in his voice.

"Because you seek to either destroy us or make us slaves"

"We didn't even know about you until recently" Kurt murmured defensively.

"Humans must die"

"Can one of you three look for a star chart, I've got an idea" Kurt suggested.

They had made it to another Earth, all four of them, it looked reasonably familiar but many do. Quinn Mallory looked at his brother Colin, Rembrandt, & Maggie. They were Sliders travelling from a parallel Earth, to one of the infinite number of Earths in infinite different universes, in their search to get home. It was this day they had arrived out of their 'slide' and things seemed very familiar. They'd arrived in a back alley and it smelt of garbage.

"Hey Que Ball, let's have a look around" said Rembrandt, whom he had nicknamed 'Remmy' for short. All were dressed fairly casually, jeans & t-shirt, sort of thing so as to blend in; it was good not to attract attention when you are in world whose laws are unknown, but then the unpredictable always happens, and it had cost them in the past.

"Sure thing Remmy" Quinn said following, all looking at an African-American who turned into the same alleyway. People that usually walk towards us is a bad thing and from Quinn's experience it doesn't bode well. This stranger was dressed in smart trousers, and shirt with a very nice jacket, and about six foot tall and completely bald.

"The sliders I would presume" he asked.

"You know us?" asked Remmy.

"Of course" he said very jovially with a smile showing completely white teeth.

"How? And who are you exactly?" Remmy inquired, a slight tone of hostility. Maggie and Colin were around them.

"Let's just say that I have been observing you all for a very long time"

"You didn't answer my friends question?" replied Maggie. She had been an ex-Marine in another world and her flushed face told Quinn she was getting annoyed. Her training had saved their lives on many occasions.

"I am from a species that exists outside of time, and I have taken this 'form', if you will to interact"

"That's not possible is it Que Ball?" inquired Remmy.

"It just might be" he replied, "That would explain his appearance otherwise I doubt we would be able to observe him"

"Quite right. My species travel the length and breath of time to interact and observe it's inhabitants"

"Until time itself ends" Quinn replied.

"Are you omnipotent? Omniscent?" A good question from Remmy, one he was about to ask.

"So many questions. It may seem like it Rembrandt, but no. We have access to many levels of information and control over what you call space & time , but even we have limits. I know the highways and the by ways of time and space, nothing more"

"Who is this Quinn? Does it make any sense?" inquired Maggie.

"Some of it, but I can't quite comprehend a dimension outside of everything" Quinn answered, a little confused at this point.

"You will be very lucky to get home with your timer. Although you made it back once, before it was invaded"

"We did, when. Tell us!" said Remmy grabbing the stranger by the shirt and pushing him against the wall.

"That is not important. What you do not understand is that your equations do not include the vector of time. If I may be allowed to explain" he asked gesturing at Remmy.

"Come on Quinn, surely you're not buying this?" inquired Remmy.

"Remmy, let him go. He may have something important to say. Besides, what can he do, I have my friends at my back" Quinn said hoping to, both placate and reassure Rembrandt who had been released somewhat begrudgingly.

"You are travelling from Earth in one universe" he said making a circular motion with his hand and pointing in this circle, "your earth where you started. You see, your next jump will take you to another universe. But you are travelling in space and time constantly"

"Are you suggesting that there are no alternate universes" Quinn asked concernedly, hoping his entire theory wasn't wrong.

"Yes and no. The universe repeats constantly, everyone playing different roles on each cycle"

"No wonder we never got home" Quinn said, a little dumfounded and quite scared of the conclusions being reached.

"Let me get this straight" asked Remmy, "every time we slide, we are travelling to another universe. But instead of always going sideways we are travelling in time to universes previously, or after"

"Exactly. Hence the time vectoring I mentioned" the stranger replied jovially.

"That would explain how we meet our different 'selves' now and again". This was from Rembrandt. Quinn was impressed.

"Why are you telling us this?"

"You will understand in time. Failing to account for time vectoring has resulted in your constant and haphazard travels. We rarely get to see those who 'play the cosmic game' on such magnitude as you. Either intentionally or otherwise"

"So we are just pawns in a game to you? To send us where you will get you the most amusement?" asked Remmy. Quinn could see his face flushing, definitely anger. Maggie did not look very happy either.

"You misunderstand. In your accidental travels, how many have you helped?" the stranger paused taking a breath, then continued, "those you have saved from persecution, whose lives you have touched and showed them 'potential'. A way to live their life a better way?"

"Quite a few" replied Remmy relaxing a little.

"That is the 'game' of which I speak of" he paused again. He seemed to thinking about something, and continued, "Remember this it is vitally important. There are a race of machines out there, called Cylons, that wish to exterminate humanity. If they were to capture this technology they could wage a war larger than any other. Most look human as they have created replicas of humans down to DNA"

"What you're saying is that they would seek to destroy humanity on every Earth" he said.

"Yes, and most of the Earth's you have been to are not yet sufficiently advanced enough to stop them"

"Time vectoring" Quinn inquired.

"One last thing. This jump, you must go to Washington D.C and look for a man called Mark Sabat. He too is a champion, as are all of you, and must be made understand the 'cause' as you have experienced it. Tell him. We will meet again, I am sure of it." And with that he vanished in a flash of light. Leaving us alone with so many questions, and not an answer in sight and the 'timer' on countdown.

Authors Note - The idea of immortals being a sort of mutant occurred to me when reading my dads 'New Scientist', December 2005 edition, titled 'Animal Superpowers'. I followed the idea through to include vampires and shapeshifters.