Through the stained glass window Kronos had seen the sun come up in the morning. He hadn't been to sleep, and he wouldn't. He had no reason to believe that anybody could be storming the church, it had been abandoned and probably condemned for over 20 years, but they'd already taken so many chances, he wasn't up to taking another one, not yet anyway. First he was going to make contact with Methos, and then they'd figure out what the next move was. But before that happened, he'd have to wait, they had agreed, when the sun went down tonight then they would come out and join up again.
He paced around the chapel restlessly and every so often he glanced back at Richelle who was sleeping on one of the pews. Sometime during the night she'd taken her jacket off and folded it under her head for a pillow. And no wonder, Kronos thought as he ran his hand over one of the pews, 2000 years and they couldn't make these damn things anymore comfortable than when he last attended one willingly. The kid was out of it, she never even moved as he walked past her, he stopped in mid-step and grabbed her arm; of course the old church had been drafty all night, they all were, but even so she felt like ice. He took his jacket off and draped it over her, at least one of them could get some rest.
Looking to the light shining through the window again, he estimated that it was about eight o' clock in the morning; this was late autumn and the sun would be going down in about nine hours. Well, he would wait; at his age, patience was a given.
Richelle groaned and rolled over on her side as well as possible on the narrow pew; she'd only been asleep for a few hours and her subconscious had no intention of waking up anytime soon if she could help it. The more time went on the more she wished this whole escapade was nothing more than a bad dream, and maybe if she stayed asleep long enough she'd be able to wake up from it. Though she wouldn't admit it to anybody, not even her own brother of all people, she also was getting sick and tired of being in this mess, more than once she had been tempted to scream at her brother that she wanted to go home, she wanted to see Connor again, she wanted to go back to New York, she too couldn't wait until this whole mess was over.
She started thinking about life back in New York. To live in or even to visit there was a lot in the city's favor and a lot against it; there were a lot of sights and attractions, a lot of places to go, always a way to get there, true to form anybody who visited the big apple never slept as they tried to see everything at once. But on the other hand the crime rate was unbelievable, a lot of the people were miserable excuses for human beings, the winter conditions were a crime against any form of humanity outside of the Eskimos. She'd lived there her whole life and even she could admit the place was not all it was cracked up to be; but it was her home, and it was through Connor that she still had a home there, and for that she was grateful. She hadn't been willing to admit it in the beginning but she liked Connor; even by New York's standards she found him a bit weird, when he'd invited her to stay move in with him she hadn't pegged him for a pervert, just a potential loon. Thinking about it now she supposed that living with Connor was the only reason she was even still alive, but it killed her to admit that she had become attached to another living being, it went against everything she believed in. Like a ton of bricks it hadn't hit her that she'd come to depend on Connor until the first time she needed him and he wasn't there.
She'd been staying with him for a few months at the time, still coming and going as she pleased, and had spent the past couple of days with a few friends in the city. As she walked home that afternoon she felt a weight pressing on her chest like a two ton safe and she couldn't figure out what it was. That was why she had cut her visit short; the whole day felt like something was off, like the whole world was just waiting for the sky to fall or something, she didn't know what it was but something told her once she got back home and talked to Connor, the feeling would pass. The closer she came to his house the faster she walked, by the time she was in the vicinity of the front door she was running. She threw the door open and stormed into the house and called for Connor, but there was no answer.
In a short while she had torn the whole house apart looking for Connor and there was no sign of the man anywhere. Richelle did not have a history of suffering from panic attacks, but she had a good idea she was damn close to one right now. Realistically she knew there was no reason for the anxiety, Connor had been gone before, he also had a life, it was one of the perks of being single in New York; but this time it was different because she needed him to be here. Her head was throbbing, her vision was blurry, she laughed, she was losing her mind, the walls were melting.
As she wandered through the rooms she found a large piece of paper on the table and saw it was a note from Connor explaining that he had left town on business and would be back in a couple of days. Richelle's migraine quickly spread to the bones in her face and around her eyes; she walked into the kitchen as if automatically, turned the knob for the front burner and set the letter on fire and discarded it in the sink to burn. She opened the liquor cabinet and found the strongest bottle of what Connor kept in the house and drank half of it in two gulps; then took the bottle with her as she wandered around the house as if in a trance, finally making it to Connor's room where she collapsed on the bed. She was tempted to throw the bottle of bourbon against the wall and smash it but all she had the strength left to do was roll over on her side and drop it on the nightstand. In a fit of exhaustion and misery she buried her head under the pillows and tried to burrow under the covers and possibly the whole bed entirely.
As it turned out, Connor had gone to visit with a friend down in Georgia for a couple of days but he had cut the trip short and caught a plane back to New York. He knew that Richelle would likely be gone another day or so and because of this he hadn't anticipated the sight he found when he got home. By the time he reached his house the sun was starting to go down, he was tired and just wanted to go to bed. Upon entering the house, he was not surprised to find it unlocked, but he didn't see anything right away that said anybody was there either, not until he reached his bedroom, and when he saw what was there, he froze in the doorway.
The orange and pink of the fading sunlight in the sky filled the room through the large windows, and amidst this he saw Richelle asleep in his bed, not on his side he noted, on the other side, the side that Brenda used to occupy. Connor had had his fair share over the centuries of waking up next to strange women, but to come home and find one in his bed, that was abnormal, and Richelle was as strange as they came. In the time she had been staying here she had not made it a habit of climbing into his bed, in fact as far as he knew this was the first, not exactly what he wanted to see when he stepped in the door but he was in no mood to kick her out either; he was too tired to bother and didn't see any harm in letting her stay for the night. He put his coat down and walked over to the bed, noting as he passed by that Richelle had fallen asleep in her clothes, tangled up in the sheets, her face half buried in the pillow. Apparently she'd been asleep for a while and she had slept hard, it sounded like a good idea to Connor too. He sat down on his side of the bed and brought his foot up to take his shoes off when he heard Richelle stir.
"Connor?" she said tiredly, vaguely. Connor turned and saw her eyes were hardly open and she didn't seem to be quite all there.
"Yeah it's me," he told her, "You been sleeping long?"
"I don't know," she tiredly groaned as she rubbed one eye, "What day is it?"
"Tuesday night," he answered.
"I thought you weren't coming home until tomorrow," she said.
"I thought the same thing about you," he pointed out, "Are you okay?"
Richelle didn't know if it was just the fact that Connor was actually here now, or if it was a matter of the time that had passed since she got home, but it felt like whatever had been haunting her earlier was gone now, the weight was lifted and she was sure when she woke up in the morning and had the booze out of her system, that things would be back to normal. For this reason she declined telling Connor about what had happened earlier and she just nodded and said, "Yeah, everything's fine."
"Good," he said as he pulled back the covers on his side, "Now let's go to sleep."
"Alright," she replied as she hit her head against the pillows again.
However that idea was short lived because a few minutes later, Connor heard Richelle turn over in the bed and he heard her turn towards him and whisper, "Connor."
"What is it?" he asked.
Richelle pushed herself up on her hands and looked over at him and asked him, "Why did Brenda leave you?"
He hadn't seen that one coming. He grumbled to himself, then said, "One of those questions, eh? Alright," he turned over and sat up on his side of the bed so he could see her and he tried to figure out how to explain this. Brenda had been ancient history long before Richelle had even come into the picture, but all the same she had found out about the brief relationship he'd had with the policewoman; though Connor had never been very specific on the details, especially on how the whole thing went to hell and came crashing down.
And then the idea hit him how to explain it to Richelle. He turned to her and said, "You remember that new Batman movie we went to see a few months ago?"
"Yeah," Richelle nodded.
"You remember that Vicki Vale was not in this one, but she was in the last one, and she found out what Batman's true identity was." Richelle tiredly nodded and Connor told her, "And by the second movie, she's not around anymore, why? Because it all just became too much for her to deal with, the knowledge of what the man she was involved with really was, she couldn't handle it and so she had to get out. You could say it was the same thing with Brenda. Finding out the man you're dating is a 480 year old who cannot die unless somebody cuts his head off, is not an easy thing to deal with."
"She watched you cut off the Kurgan's head, she was able to deal with that, she stayed with you after that," Richelle pointed out.
"I think it was a delayed case of shock for her," Connor explained, "Brenda was a nice woman, but after everything she was put through once she found out about me, I don't know that I blame her for leaving. True I thought once the Kurgan was dead that we could put the worst of it behind us, but I don't know. You know it doesn't matter how much time passes, or that what happens next is always worse than the generation before, mortals are always so…well, there's a lot that they just can't deal with, not quite like us. Maybe she was smart to get out when she did, maybe…"
He felt something pressing against his hand and his ribs and he looked down and saw that Richelle had leaned over towards his side and fallen asleep pressed against him. Connor couldn't be angry at her if he tried, he was too tired; he accepted his current position as a pillow and reached around Richelle and pulled the rest of her over to the other side of the bed. "Goodnight, kid."
Richelle was jerked out of her memories and rudely awakened when she felt somebody jerking on her arm. Her eyes opened too fast to see things clearly but she was able to see that it was Kronos pulling her up and he told her, "Come on, we're getting out of here."
It was dark again, Richelle could tell that much from looking at the windows, meaning that she'd slept all day. Just as well, she hadn't gone to sleep until just before the sun came up, and they'd been stuck in this damn church all day. At least now they could get moving again and find Richie and Methos soon, at least she hoped. She looked around at the room and didn't know if the sun had made any difference in the temperature during the day, but now that it was night again the drafty place was freezing cold once again; she picked up her jacket, put it on and followed Kronos out of the chapel.
"Where're we going?" she asked him.
Kronos never looked back to her as he answered, "We're going to find my brother and yours."
"How?" Richelle wanted to know.
Kronos stopped and turned back to her and Richelle stood her ground though she anticipated getting her teeth knocked out. He only answered, "We have our ways."
"I get the idea that no matter how I look at it, I'm not gonna like it," Richelle commented as she followed behind him.
She knew for a fact that she didn't like being hit in the face with the freezing night air as they stepped out of the church and got back in the streets. As dark as it was it could've been any time of the night though Richelle would guess it was at least 9 o' clock.
"So how do you know where to find Methos?" she asked.
"We already anticipated a plan incase this became necessary," Kronos answered.
Richelle matched every step he took but she was too busy watching him to notice that they had crossed into a dead end alley where nobody was around to see them. Kronos stopped beside a brick wall and had his back to Richelle, who didn't move and only watched him to see what he did next.
"There's a hospital about eight blocks from here, that's where Methos is going to be and that's where we're going to meet him," he explained.
"A hospital?" Richelle repeated, "Why a hospital?"
Kronos turned around and Richelle's eyes widened as she saw the large knife he had pulled out of his pocket; and when he walked towards her with the blade pointed at her, she suddenly got the feeling that this whole mess couldn't possibly get any worse.
Hospital traffic was always murder to get through in between the rushing ambulances and everybody else and his brother playing pedestrian polo in the parking lot trying to find a place to stop at. In fact Richelle noted that some idiot came very close to getting 15 points for hitting her and she had no doubt she would qualify as a birdie flying over the 50 foot mark. Kronos had a grip on her wrist so tight she half expected it to break off, but somehow he got the two of them out of the parking area and in past the electronic doors and into the very brightly lit entrance corridor and as they made their way to the front desk, everybody could see the bloodstains that covered one side of Richelle's face and part of her clothes.
Any night was a busy one for this hospital and after they got their initial story out about the accident that Richelle was in, they were told that they would have to take a seat and wait on the doctors after they got done with everyone else that had come in ahead of them. Richelle counted about 20 people sitting around the room with large bruises or cuts hastily wrapped up in bandages that were due for changing half an hour ago.
"Long wait," Richelle noted as they found a vacant bench in the room to sit down on.
"That's the idea," Kronos reminded her. He took a handkerchief out of an inside pocket in his jacket and handed it to Richelle, who used it to wipe off the rest of his blood that hadn't had time to finish drying yet. She still hadn't decided who the craziest one was in this family; a few weeks ago she saw Caspian slash open his wrist to bloody up a note sent to Duncan under the guise of it being she and Richie's blood, and tonight, just a few minutes ago she watched as Kronos cut the fingers on his left hand wide open and smeared the blood on her face and clothes.
"Well you found the perfect place for it," Richelle said as she laid down on the other side of the bench, "The president could get shot in the head, he'd have to take a number. How long do you think it'll be for your brother to find this place?"
"He knows it just fine," Kronos told her, "He should be here within the hour."
"That's fine with me," Richelle replied, "I want to get out of this butcher shop," she scoffed, "Now there's irony, trading one slaughterhouse for another."
Right after she'd woken up it had hit her whole body that she hadn't eaten anything since yesterday, and she knew that now she'd be waiting until they got back to the house. For the time being she decided to go back to sleep, hoping it would ward off the hunger until they could get out of the hospital anyway. She closed her eyes, leaned back and laid her head on Kronos' knee, knowing that he couldn't do much about it without blowing their cover and until Methos and Richie showed up, that wasn't an option. Within a few minutes she was asleep despite all the typical noises of the hospital blaring loud enough to wake the dead.
It was about an hour before Kronos finally felt Methos' quickening approaching; he turned and saw the doors open and Methos entered the hospital with Richie right behind him, looking ready to hit the ceiling at a moment's notice. Methos spotted Kronos and he and Richie went over to where they were and Richie knelt down beside Richelle and shook her to wake her up, worried that they were already too late. Richelle opened her eyes and saw her brother hovering beside her and she smiled, "Richie!" She threw her arms around him and loosely clung to him, he on the other hand had a much tighter grip on her.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"Yeah, sure," she tiredly replied as she let go of him, "I'm fine, help me up."
"So," Methos said to Kronos, "Do I want to know where you spent last night?"
"No," Kronos answered.
"Fine, let's get out of here," he said.
They did, and once they got into the car and got the hell out of there, Methos explained that they'd gotten back to the house and Silas and Caspian were both gone, presumably they'd be back in the morning but why they left in the first place he didn't know. During the drive back Methos looked in the rear view mirror and saw that the twins had fallen asleep and were practically lying on top of each other.
When they finally got back to the house, they woke Richie and his sister up and they got out of the car and were the first ones inside; a couple minutes later when Methos and Kronos also came in, they found that the twins had gotten as far as the couch in the living room before collapsing for the night. Richelle had fallen asleep sprawled out on the couch and Richie was in a less fortunate position of kneeling beside her with his arms folded under his head and those being the only parts of him actually on the couch as he slept, for the rest of it he was sitting on his knees and hunched over. Methos went to wake them both up so they could go upstairs to their room to sleep, but Kronos grabbed him back and told him, "Never mind them, we'll let them stay here for the night, we'll go upstairs to bed."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Methos said as he followed Kronos back to the front hall, "You wouldn't believe the day and night I had."
Richie woke up with a stiff neck and sore back and he realized why when he saw he'd been hunched over on the corner of the couch; now that he was awake and alert, he looked around the room and saw the lights were still on, but it was dark outside. He looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was going on 2 in the morning, what a night, straight from hell. Speaking of which, he turned back and saw his sister asleep on the couch and let out a heavy sigh of relief. Then something else occurred to him and he put his hands on Richelle and shook her to wake her up again.
"What is it?" she asked tiredly.
"Wake up, Richelle," he told her.
She rubbed one eye so she could open it and she asked him, "What is it, Richie?"
He reached into his pocket and took out her pill bottle and told her, "I got your pills, I think you should take them."
Richelle groaned and turned over on her side and said half coherently, "Oh Richie, I don't want to take those things."
"I know you don't," he told her, "But I want you to, I don't want you getting sick again."
Richelle half closed her eyes and looked up at him, maybe Connor was right. "Alright," she said as she slowly sat up, "Alright if it'll make you happy, I will." She took the bottle and said, "I need something to eat first or else they'll make me puke."
They went into the kitchen and dug around in the fridge and found something to heat up for a very late dinner, and as a few minutes passed and the gravity of the last couple days fully sank in, the twins turned to each other and grabbed each other tightly. For a while each had seriously started to believe that they might not see the other again, and this was getting to be too much for them to take.
"I want to go home, sis," Richie told her.
"I do too, Richie," she replied, "I want to go home, I want to see Connor again, I want to get the hell out of here too. But what can we do? Until we know that Horton is dead and his men are out of commission, we can't go back."
"So how the hell do we find this guy Horton?" Richie asked.
"You're counting on the Hunters coming to this house, that's why we came here in the first place, right?" Richelle asked Methos the next morning.
"Something like that," Methos answered.
"But when?" Richie asked, "Are they going to be here anytime soon or are we going to be here until next year?"
"With any luck they should be coming here soon," Methos told them, "They know we're here, and as far as they know, we don't know that anybody else knows it, so any time they want to come out here and try to kill us, they can be our guest."
"Well I wish they'd hurry the hell up so we can get out of here," Richelle said, "We're going into December, I want to get out of this subzero zone and hit the tropics soon. Though that reminds me, what happened to Thing 1 and Thing 2?"
"They'll be around soon," Kronos answered as he entered the room, "They have to, they know if they didn't we'd come looking for them."
"And nobody wants that," Richie agreed.
Richelle slipped out of the room and returned to the kitchen, she opened the refrigerator and took out a glass full of a concoction she'd been working on that morning. The liquid in the glass was blood red and thick, Richelle took a swig of it and, upon tasting it, spit it out into the sink and turned on the faucet to wash it down; as it was the sink looked like somebody had been massacred in it. She heard the front door open and she went to see who was here, although she had a good idea; and she was right, stepping into the dining room she saw that Silas and Caspian were back from wherever the hell they had gone.
"Well look who's here," she said sarcastically as she went over to them, "Cousin Kevin," she gestured to Silas, and then turning to Caspian she added in a gruff voice, "And mean Uncle Ernie!"
Caspian lunged at her but she jumped back at just the right time and got away from him, and into the perfect position to be, which was hiding behind Kronos.
"Well?" Kronos asked him.
Caspian let go of this fight and answered, "We're about to cross the threshold into a war with those people, last night the new Watcher headquarters was blown up, five people were inside and they were killed on impact."
"Your work?" Richelle inquired.
She thought that made sense, their battle so far had only been with the Hunters, and though the line between they and the Watchers seemed to be a thin one, she couldn't see the logic in getting two enemies for the price of one.
"Who then?" Richie wanted to know.
Methos answered, "A Hunter who wants the Watchers to think it's one of the Immortals, or several of them."
"More of Horton's work I assume?" Richelle asked.
"Could be," Methos answered, "Nobody else looks too likely right now."
"This is getting serious," she noted.
"You don't know the half of it," he remarked, "We've been trying to avoid an all-out war with the Watchers but this just might push it over the edge and start the drum beating."
"And we just wait and hope these guys show up here?" Richie asked.
"For the moment there's not much more we can do," Methos told him.
"I'm getting sick of this," Richie murmured to his sister.
"Me too," she agreed.
The next couple of days passed slowly and agonizingly, every minute the twins expected for a group of Hunters to smash in the windows and kill them all, but nobody came. Outside it was obvious that winter was on the way; the temperature had dropped down to the 50s and the clouds came in and stayed, the sun never shone and it was having quite an effect on Richie and his sister. Methos noticed how now they were practically inseparable from one another and their overall demeanors and appearances had changed drastically; they had been kept in the house for the better part of a month but it was only now he was seeing them grow steadily paler than they had ever been. Another thing he noticed was since they met up at the hospital, Richelle's typical language skills seemed to have faded away; lately she hardly said a word to anybody except for Richie, and aside from an occasional crack at Caspian or Silas she was as silent as a tomb, it was something he hadn't seen before and it scared him. He didn't say much to Kronos because he knew there wasn't anything they could do about it at the present time but he had a sickening feeling that if they didn't get the kids out of here soon, neither of them would survive.
By the third day Richie and Richelle were both tempted to actually start climbing the walls; they'd thought they could adapt from the last house to this one with no problem but knowing that they were even further from civilization and from going home was finally starting to catch up with them. Even though from a realistic standpoint they knew this had to come to an end soon, they had already spent so much time away from everyone and everything that they knew that both were starting to question if they'd ever see their homes again.
"Well, you got any plans for today?" Richelle asked Richie as they sat on the couch and looked at each other.
Richie put his feet up on the coffee table and gazed up at the ceiling as he tried to think.
"We could try calling the shop again," he suggested, "Maybe Connor would be there."
"Nah," Richelle shook her head, "That's getting old."
"Okay," he thought again, "We could find George and Lenny and annoy the hell out of them."
"That's even older," Richelle told him.
"Alright then," he said to her, "You think of something."
"Alright," she said, and reached into her pocket and pulled out a small notebook and flipped through it, "Let's see if there's something here we could do…put salt in their beds," she shook her head, "I did that one already." She turned to another page and read, "Yell fire…" she seemed to consider it for a minute before flipping the page and telling Richie, "No good, I did that one already too. What time is it?"
"Five o' clock," he answered.
"Alright," she said as she pushed herself up from the couch, "I'm going to see how dinner's coming."
Crossing through the living room to the kitchen, Richelle almost collided with Caspian who was just exiting the kitchen. She growled at him and commented as she stepped into the kitchen and over to the stove where four large pots full of boiling water were kept on high burners she commented to Silas, "A spiritualist told me once that I'd spend my last remaining days in the company of idiots, who knew that she'd actually be right?"
She heard a crashing noise from another part of the house but something told her that it wasn't routine and she added, "Something tells me we're about to have a visitor." She stepped over to the other side of the stove and knocked the two gallon pots on the front burners over and boiling water splattered all over the floor right in front of the doorway; a split second later two men that Richelle didn't recognize came charging in, and the desired effect was had when they slipped on the wet floor and fell on their backs.
"That's two down," Richelle said, realizing that they were under siege now.
Silas grabbed the two men and quickly subdued them and Richelle turned and knocked the knife rack off the wall and behind the stove. From the front of the house it sounded like the place was being torn apart and she squeezed through the doorway to see what was going on. Apparently a pack of Hunters had smashed in through the windows and busted in the front door; fortunately their arrival had been anticipated, even if it had been for three days before now. Kronos and Methos had already knocked two of them out, or killed them, Richelle couldn't tell what, and were working on two others. Richie had managed to snag one as well and was, it seemed, having a good time knocking the crap out of him. The intruders' weapons lay scattered on the floor, loaded but unfired as of yet, Richelle knew the smart thing to do would be to gather them up but she didn't waste her time on it; instead she dove behind the couch and picked up what she was looking for, the bowling ball she'd brought from the other house and she came up behind Richie and the man he was fighting with and when they turned just right, Richelle bashed the man in the head with the bowling ball. He let out a loud, pained groan and then succumbed to unconsciousness and slipped through Richie's arms and hit the floor.
In the meantime it was obvious that Methos and Kronos were just messing with the Hunters that they'd gotten a hold of because instead of outright killing them, they knocked them around the room a bit until their heads were putting holes in the wall's plastering before ultimately knocking the men out. However that didn't seem to matter because a few seconds later gunfire ripped through the living room and bullets lodged into the furniture and the walls; at first they couldn't tell where the shots were coming from but Methos found out they were coming from outside the window and he went over to it and jumped out and landed on two of the men who were shooting at them. Richie and his sister both turned at just the right second to see somebody disappear around the corner leading to the next room, they ran after the man and caught another one; Richie jerked the man forward by the collar of his jacket and clocked him, Richelle then grabbed a handful of the man's hair in one hand and used it to pull him forward so she could knock him square in the jaw and send him reeling back.
Two more men tackled them and they felt themselves falling to the ground before it actually dawned on them that they'd been ambushed; they hit the floor with a pronounced thud and felt somebody on top of them, jerking their wrists tightly behind their backs until they about snapped. Richie was the first one to feel the weight slide off of him before he'd actually heard the punch or the Hunter groaning as he fell off, and then Richelle felt her captor fall off of her as well and they turned over and saw Caspian had one of them in a choke hold and was just about to snap his neck. Richelle grabbed one of the chairs from the dining room table and used it to beat the other man over the head with to make sure he stayed down; and Richie charged another one he saw starting to come through the doorway. He felt a gun pressing against his ribs but right now the idea of getting shot was the furthest thought from his mind. He kept a death grip on the man's jacket and ran forward so the man was backed up to the wall and then Richie slammed him against it as hard as he could. He heard the man's skull crack, let go of him and watched the Hunter slide down against the wall into a crumpled mass on the floor. He had the presence of mind, despite everything that was going on around them, to turn to Caspian and ask, "Where the hell are they all coming from?"
He'd barely gotten the last word out when another one announced his arrival with a machine gun blast; Richie felt himself pressed hard against the wall and he looked down to see if he was bleeding. He didn't even have time to see anything other than a black blur that rushed past him, but however was not fast enough to avoid being clotheslined by Silas as he came into the room from the kitchen.
For the moment the fight seemed to be over, all the Hunters were knocked on the floor and not moving. Richelle stepped over the bodies and went into the kitchen to get a drink, now things were starting to pick up so it was actually lively around there but it was still an exhausting experience where she was concerned. She took a pitcher full of a blood red liquid out of the fridge and poured a glass, and had just started to drink it when the kitchen door burst open and another Hunter barged in. Richelle, taken by surprise, spit her drink out and directly into the man's face, momentarily blinding him and making him look like he already came from a bloodbath. Richelle broke her glass over his head and kicked him down, but a second man came in the doorway and lunged at her, so she threw the remaining contents from the pitcher into his face and likewise beat him over the head with the pitcher and broke it as well. But as he fell down, the first one came behind Richelle and grabbed her.
Methos and Kronos had exited through the living room window and made a quick search of the grounds and found several more Hunters who were lying in waiting, but they were a problem quickly removed. When they returned to the house, Kronos commented to Methos, "Well so far your plan's working, but don't let it go to your head."
"Where did they all come from?" Richie asked.
"Hunters are like cockroaches," Methos told him, "Step on one and you'll find a dozen more where they came from. The fact that mortals outnumber Immortals by about 10,000 to one doesn't help matters any."
"And these guys all started in the Watchers?" Richie asked.
"More or less."
"How many of them are there?" Richie wanted to know.
"Too damn many," Kronos answered.
The kitchen door swung open and Richelle stepped out holding her arms out stiffly and her clothes were covered in blood.
"What the hell happened to you?" Richie exclaimed.
"Don't worry," she said, "I just had a little trouble with two more of the men in black in the kitchen."
"That their blood?" Kronos inquired.
"No, they got away," Richelle answered.
"What!?" In two steps Kronos strode over to her and practically grabbed her by the throat, "You let them escape?"
"Yes," Richelle said as she took a step back from him, "You got most of them but you had to know some would get away, I knew they would…don't worry though, they'll be easy to find among their own people."
"And how do you figure that?" Methos asked.
"Because," Richelle slowly explained, "I figured if they did come here, we would be outnumbered and it wouldn't be a bad idea to let a couple go free, but mark them before they left so they could be found. I was experimenting with a lot of red food dye, trying to enhance the effect of sticking to the skin regardless of any attempts to wash it off. I had a pitcher full of the stuff ready to use, and I threw it in both of their faces, you should've seen it, blood red paste hitting them smack in the kisser, and dripping all the way down their clothes. Now they can throw those clothes away and replace them, but they are stuck with those faces, meaning they have to wear the dye until it eventually wears out, and that's going to take a few days."
"An interesting idea, but are you sure it'll work?" Methos asked.
Richelle nodded and rolled up the sleeve on her shirt, revealing a large blood red patch on her shoulder, "I tried it on myself three days ago, and I've showered four times since then."
"What does it prove, though?" Caspian wanted to know.
"Well it makes sense to me," Methos said, "It is the Hunters that came here tonight, not the genuine Watchers, but they hide within the Watchers, so, Adam Pierson goes to work tomorrow, takes note of who is absent and pays them a visit and sees if anybody suddenly bears a striking resemblance to an overripe tomato. It's simple, juvenile, but brilliant."
"Of course it's juvenile," Richelle told him, "Why do you think the cops came up with the same concept for marked money to use in bank robberies?"
Methos felt somebody poking him in the back and he turned to see what it was Richie wanted. The boy pointed at the unconscious men on the floor and asked, "What happens with them now?"
"My guess," Richelle said, "Another trip out to the cemetery is in order."