March 15, 2002, on planet Memphis (designation P3X-116)...

Methos gasped back to awareness with far less control than he had displayed since he was practically a child. Incredibly disoriented and confused, he gripped his head with his hands in a primitive reaction against the chaotic hurricane of emotions and feelings that threatened to overwhelm him.

After some uncountable amount of time, he finally managed to pull himself together a little, forcing himself to breath normally instead of in great, shuddering gasps.

A chill wind reminded him of his surroundings, and he became conscious of the fact that what little remained of his scorched clothes were mere tatters barely clinging to his body.

He was at the base of a very large tree, or rather what was left of one. It had been completely blown over by the force of an explosion, and the smell of burnt wood and something else that defied description assaulted his senses. The other trees around him had suffered similar fates.

His body had been protected from the full force of the explosion by the trunk itself, though he had no idea how he had got here or what had exploded.

Methos rose gingerly, all too aware of the low temperatures and his lack of dress. His clothes must have been destroyed by whatever had killed him.

What had killed him?

Taking stock of his surroundings, he discovered that he was on the edge of a rather impressive crater. By the light of an all-too-large moon, he could make out twisted debris and wreckage littering the landscape.

He had been lucky. Horribly, terribly, and unbelievably lucky, because he had been blown clear instead of being blown apart.

The Stargate, he realized with dawning dread. The Stargate had been destroyed, somehow. And he was trapped here. Wherever here was.

Memphis, his memory supplied. Formerly belonging to Sokar. Tanith was scouting it for Anubis when-

A sudden sharp pain in his palms made him realize that he had actually clenched his fists so hard as to actually draw blood.

It all came back, a flash-flood of memories that threatened to drown him for a moment until he managed to get it under control. Parts were vague and distant, as if they had happened to someone else, but others were as clear as ten minutes ago. Metaphorically speaking, anyway.

Two years. For two years, he had been the slave-puppet of that idiotic, bottom-feeding snake Tanith. That on its own was humiliating enough for Methos. How had this all started?

It was almost as a dream that he had first awoken on Paraval, without any memory to speak of. Confused, alone, and afraid, he'd wandered uselessly in the badlands for what seemed like weeks until she had found him…

The language she spoke was strange at first, but his mind, battered though it was, soon unraveled it. She was a slave, like every other human on Paraval since the Goa'uld had returned a generation before. But she still helped him, even though every evening she said she'd probably give him over to the Jaffa the next day.

She named him "Hebron," which she said meant "fool," because only a fool would walk in the badlands.

It wasn't until six months and more had come and gone that he learned the truth of why she had been in the badlands to find him. She was a spy.

She told him of the Tok'ra and their millennia-long war against the Goa'uld. He thought they were idiots, and told her as much.

She didn't care. She was going to do what she could, because the Goa'uld were evil, vile creatures, and someone needed to fight them.

He scoffed at her, thinking her to be far more foolish than he ever could be. There was something naggingly, obnoxiously familiar about her argument, too, and it annoyed him because he just couldn't remember why, no matter how hard he wracked his brain.

She said the Tok'ra might be able to restore his memory. That, if nothing else, gave him food for thought. She really was beautiful when she was arguing with him, though...

And then she was killed. He didn't know if they'd discovered that she was spying on them, or whether they were just having fun, but he returned one day to find her cooling corpse, the horrible stench of burnt flesh lingering in the air.

After he buried her, he took the knife he always kept at his back and slaughtered every Jaffa he could find, and then he left. The other humans huddled in terror and hid until he headed out into the badlands to find her Tok'ra contact. He didn't care what happened to them - they were all cowards.

It did not take him long to locate Jalen. The Tok'ra had been told of him, and while she was frustrated by the loss of her agent (not to mention his rampant slaughter of the Jaffa she'd been monitoring) Jalen was willing to take him with her. He made sure to clean off the blood before they left Paraval forever. He wasn't actually crazy...

After tests and scans and poking and prodding, the Tok'ra told him that they couldn't explain his total lack of memory prior to waking up on Paraval. Maybe blending with a symbiote would restore him…

Abruptly, Methos broke free of the stream of memories as a massive realization struck him. Tanith, Teal'c, Daniel Jackson, all of it.

"I knew a man who looked just like you. Long ago in the future."

Methos would have seemed an utter lunatic to anyone who happened to see him at that moment: a filthy, wild-eyed man wearing only tattered shreds of clothing, standing at the edge of a smoking crater and hysterically laughing at the night sky.

Daniel Jackson had been right all along. That day in Colorado Springs, at the cafe. He had been right, and now Methos finally understood.

Time travel. Of all the unlikely…

Something must have happened, with the interaction of the Quickening energies and the Stargate, back there (on Revanna, his mind disconcertingly supplied). When he'd fallen through the wormhole, he'd not only arrived on Paraval without his memory, he'd arrived years before he'd even left. And after all that, Teal'c's well-aimed staff-blast had killed Tanith (Ten zatracený had!) and Methos but had inadvertently allowed Methos to restore his memory when he revived.

Hah. If only he'd remembered he was Immortal, he could have fixed his whole amnesia problem much sooner.

He could feel it in the back of his mind, the twisted, putrid essence that was Sydyk. He found that he could access Goa'uld's knowledge, if he focused. He expected to face a battle of wills to keep its vile nature from spreading to the rest of him (a battle he would win, though not particularly enjoy); however, he found something acting like a filter: another essence, almost encapsulating the Sydyk quickening.

Methos closed his eyes for a moment in silent respect.

Eventually, both quickenings would settle and become a part of him, part of the vast background hum in his mind, but Methos knew that Malcolm McCaffrey of the United States Air Force would always be there, standing watch against the Goa'uld.

Then there was Tanith (Diese abscheuliche Schlange!). His puppet-master for the past two years. He could still feel the thing's corpse inside him, coiled around his spine, which was well and truly disconcerting (and disgusting). Memories that weren't his own whispered that the body would soon dissolve, leaving behind only a protein marker, some naquadah, and a few fleeting memories. Why hadn't Tanith merged with his Quickening, as Sydyk had McCaffrey's? Maybe it was because that had been the unfortunate airman's First Death, which for an Immortal was unique from all the others.

Setting aside those contemplations, Methos of course now faced the slight problem of being completely trapped on a hostile world in a distant corner of the galaxy, what with the Memphis Stargate being a twisted wreck scattered across the landscape. But Methos had not survived for 5,000 years by giving up at seemingly-insurmountable obstacles.

MacLeod would laugh his head off to realize that the cynical, selfish Methos was actually an optimist at heart.

A very good reason not to tell him. Ever.

Now, he just had to find a way to get off this planet full of Sokar's monster pets. Hm… there was an abandoned facility a few miles that way…

As Methos picked his way along the crater's edge, the sharp rocks bit into his feet. But he held fast to the same fact that he had held onto for the past 5,000 years.

He would survive.


Author's Note: Sometimes, I try to be too clever for my own good. This sequence is complicated, so maybe I should spell out the exact course of events from Methos's point of view.

1. Methos falls through the Stargate on Revanna. The Quickening causes the Gate to malfunction.
2. Methos, suffering from amnesia due to the messed-up Quickening and its interaction with the Gate, emerges from the wormhole on Paraval sometime around the year 1999. (Yay, time travel!) Not knowing his own name, he is called Hebron by a local woman.
3. After killing a bunch of Jaffa in revenge for the death of the woman who rescued him on Paraval, Methos/Hebron leaves the planet with one of the Tok'ra.
4. Still suffering from amnesia, Methos/Hebron receives the Tanith symbiote, and events involving Tanith play out for the next two years as seen in Stargate: SG-1, culminating with Teal'c blasting the ever-loving heck out of Tanith's ship on Memphis (as seen at the beginning of the mid-Season 5 episode "48 Hours").
6. Teal'c's blast kills Tanith (and Methos). The blast blows Methos clear of the Al'kesh, which then crashes into and destroys the Stargate on Memphis.
7. Methos comes back to life on Memphis. (This is where this interlude chapter picks up.) His revival restores his lost memory, and he realizes that he time-traveled and is actually some years in his relative past.
8. Methos is trapped on Memphis, the Stargate being destroyed and no ships handy.
9. At some point, a Tok'ra scouting party comes to Memphis and discovers Methos, whom they know as Hebron of Paraval. He leaves Memphis with them.
10. Some time later, Methos (still under the name Hebron) eventually meets Vala Mal Doran, who is with the Tok'ra helping out with traumatized ex-hosts of the Goa'uld.
11. Along with Malek and several other Tok'ra, Methos (knowing that time has come full circle for him) accompanies Vala and Cameron Mitchell to the Stargate and learns of the abduction of Daniel Jackson by Sydyk, as related in the previous chapter. They travel through the Stargate together and find Daniel on Revanna, arriving only moments after the original Methos had fallen through the open wormhole (and set this whole chain of events into motion).