BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - SUSPENSE

JEBBYPAL

Death By Any Other Name - Part 5
Sunday, April 11, 2004

Methos learns the meaning of humped.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2829    RATING: 0    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: Firefly and characters belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. Highlander belongs to Davis/Panzer Productions, Inc.

Part 5 Chinese glossary Lese – garbage Laotou – old geezer Bun tien-shung de ee-duai-ro – stupid inbred sack of meat -----

Zoe didn't comment on Carlos's death on the way back to the ship. She assumed Methos knew what he was doing and he obviously understood the current situation better than she did. It was understandable that with the scrutiny of the Alliance an immortal would want to avoid the scrutiny of any group that kept records. Although, as she considered the interrogation, Zoe was surprised to realize that Carlos had never indicated that anyone suspected that Charles Pierce was an immortal. More importantly, Methos had carefully asked his questions to prevent that assumption from being made. As Serenity came into sight, she glanced at the man beside her. She decided to tell Mal to use a good long hard burn to get the immortal to the destination of Dyton.

Methos was worried. He was reassured that Carlos had not suspected that he was an immortal, but he was unsure that all Watchers' had reached that conclusion. If they linked him to Serenity, they would easily track him to Dyton. Staying and finding another transport was out of the question. Looked like he would be having a long discussion about the whole mess with Captain Reynolds after all, he thought miserably.

At the ship, they were surprised to find the cargo bay doors closed. Zoe used her remote to open them. Once the doors were open, the sight of two men bound hand to foot greeted them. "Are you just going to stand there gawking or are you going to shut the gorram door?" Mal asked testily.

Zoe hurried to close the door as Methos groaned inwardly. Now he really wasn't looking forward to his impending talk with the captain. Methos attempted to duck as the captain suddenly grabbed him by his shirt front, but he was too slow due to the unexpectedness of the move. His back ached where it hit the cargo bay doors. Mal held him there with his arm inches from his adam's apple. "I'm getting real tired of your gorram secrets endangering this crew and this ship. Now, you ARE going to tell me what the hell is so important about a bunch of swords and other ancient lese right now, or we're going to start experimenting on just what kind of deaths you can come back from, dong ma?" Mal questioned as he looked in Methos's eyes, deadly serious.

"I told you already, they are personal items of mine and a few friends. They have untold historical and monetary value," Methos replied as he attempted vainly to get Mal to release a bit of pressure from his throat.

"That doesn't explain why these four men knew that said souvenirs were on my boat or why they were willing to kill for 'em," Mal growled.

"Captain, do they have tattoos? On their wrists?" Zoe asked as she walked over to check one of the dead bodies.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Mal said. He increased the pressure on the immortal's throat when Methos attempted to take advantage of his distraction.

"She's right, they do. Even the live ones," Jayne offered as he slapped one of the bound captives when he tried to prevent the mercenary from seeing his wrist.

"We just finished questioning one of the men watching his contact's house. He had the same tattoo and mentioned the theft of a number of artifacts by a former member of some secret society. The suspect disappeared right after he killed an immortal," Zoe explained. Methos banged his head into the door in frustration. Damnit, she'd just given them all the info they needed. He knew what the next question was going to be.

"That's very interesting Zoe. Tell me Methos," Mal asked, emphasizing his request with more pressure to the immortal's throat, "Why would a mortal kill an immortal?" He released a bit of pressure to encourage the other man to answer.

"For the same reasons anyone kills anybody," Methos stated, less than calmly.

Mal punched Methos in the stomach and followed that with a knee to the face. Backing up, he motioned to Jayne and Zoe to keep their weapons on the immortal. "Now see, I'm getting some interesting notions." Mal stepped back farther as he saw that the immortal was beginning to recover somewhat from his abuse. "See here's the interesting part of my notion - seems to me that it would be unlikely that even a master swordsman would be able to beat one of you immortals considering swordfighting was a part of your Game. Somehow, I doubt that this Watcher that is thought to have stolen all this crap was just a mortal." Mal paused to watch Methos react to his idea. Folding his arms, he looked directly into the immortal's eyes so the man would understand how serious he was about his next statement. "Wonder how these guys bosses would react to having their culprit hand delivered to them?"

Methos grunted in frustration and pain. Amazing how badly a punch hurt when you hadn't received one in almost a quarter of a century. "You're assuming a lot Captain, but I won't disagree." He glanced at the two live captives; they were astonished by his admission. Two more problems he'd have to get Serenity's crew to let him deal with. Redirecting his attention to Mal and Zoe, he attempted to regain some control over the situation. "I ask you to consider for a moment whether or not this group will just let you walk away with the knowledge you possess. It is a knowledge that they have controlled for close to two and a half millennia."

"I have to admit that question crossed my mind. But I want you to be very clear on something laotou, from here on out, you tell me everything. No half-truths or attempts to put me off till after the fact, dong ma? I even think you're being less than truthsome and I'll personally hold you down while River digs the answers out of your head. That is if I don't take it off first," Mal explained in a voice that trembled with barely controlled rage.

Methos nodded his agreement as he stood, still rubbing his sore throat. His face had already begun to heal. Since the fight started, the two Watchers' never took their eyes off of the immortal - a fact that neither he nor Mal had neglected to notice.

"Jayne, tell Wash to get us off this rock. Zoe, make sure the rest of the crew stays outta here till well after we've left planet." When the two left, Mal tossed his gun to Methos. "Clean up your mess and don't leave no blood to worry the women folk."

--

The African man looked up from his books when the bell on his door indicated someone had entered the small store. He frowned tiredly; he knew he had locked it. The weight of his years grew when he saw that his visitor was Wan instead of Carlos. "What's so important at this time of the night?" he asked roughly.

"Sorry, sir, but I thought I should let you know that Serenity lifted off an hour ago. Also, we've had no contact from the retrieval team since they left."

His boss rubbed his face tiredly. All field agents were imbeciles nowadays. There was no danger to keep them sharp. The immortals feared their watchers more than the reverse in this day and age. "And Carlos? Was he successful?"

Wan looked uncomfortable as he answered. "No one has heard from Carlos. The other two at their posts report that he failed to check in, but they found no evidence of a struggle."

"So we are compromised." The African clasped his hands together and rested his chin on them as he considered his options. "Contact Womack, let him know that we have a lucrative side-job for him."

--

That night, after a tense dinner, Methos endured his own interrogation in shuttle one. Mal and Zoe both faced him. Additionally, River refused to be put off and Mal had finally decided her talents might be of use. Methos felt indifferent to her presence; it wasn't like their conversation would reveal anything truly disturbing to the child. Odds were, she had either already witnessed it in her dreams or experienced far worse firsthand.

"We're waiting," Mal said darkly. He was still upset at how close the Watchers had come to doing real damage to his crew. If Methos had only warned him earlier that they might be after his effects rather than he or his friend, Mal would have taken more precautions. As it was, he was incredibly glad that River had slept through the entire fiasco.

Methos glanced up at the Captain from where he sat in the pilot's chair. River sat beside him. "What more is there to tell? Honestly, Captain, I'm not stringing you along here. You've already pieced it together anyway."

Mal resisted the urge to pace as he replied. "How 'bout you start with the need for all the cloak and dagger? If you know these people and they somehow don't know what you are, why bother? Way I understand it, Amanda should be expecting to be watched."

Methos leaned back and wished for the umpteenth time that day that he had a cold beer. He really hated to even think about these events when he was sober, let alone talk about it. "Yeah, well that was before an unnamed and very dead Watcher decided that a good way to make a boatload of money would be to sell an immortal to the Blue Sun Corporation for experiments."

River started to rock and tears streamed down her face as she saw what Methos remembered while he related it to Zoe and Mal.

Methos doubled checked the incoming chronicle reports. Duncan's watcher had failed to post a single chronicle entry in over a month. Although their lives were not as exciting as they had been during the Game, the more prominent and older immortals generally received notations when they met with high ranking officials and such. Duncan had somehow managed to become an assistant to the law forces on Persephone. The eternal boyscout could not stand the fact that the border worlds actively engaged in a slave trade. His job was a mildly high profile position that usually resulted in at least one report every two weeks. Add to that Amanda's consternation at being stood up by Duncan when she landed on Persephone last week, and the end result was a really big headache for the universe's oldest immortal.

He hurriedly downloaded what he could on both Duncan's recent activities and his watcher's personnel file. It was becoming harder and harder to hack into the Watchers' system – the database automatically recorded any access after a certain amount of time and he had yet to have the leisure to study up on ways to bypass this feature. Once he was done, he hurried to lay the groundwork for whom and what he would need. Methos was exceedingly angry at Connor Macleod for managing to lose his head shortly before the exodus from Earth That Was. That death had greatly shortened the list of immortals he trusted that were suitable for what would need to be done.

--

Amanda was driving him up the wall. He was glad that she'd known how to contact Nick Wolfe quickly and that the younger immortal had come. If Methos had been forced to deal with a frantic Amanda alone, he would probably have taken her head by now.

"I still don't see what's taking so long," the female immortal complained in voice that was becoming increasingly shrill.

Nick tried to calm her down. "It takes as long as it takes Manda. Adam knows what he's doing."

"And it's done. The rest may be impossible, but I know where Macleod is," Methos interrupted. At their questioning looks, he told them the rest. "Blue Sun."

--

After Methos managed to find a suitable excuse to be gone from his training with the Watchers, the three began making the necessary purchases and plotting their plan of attack. He hadn't been exaggerating when he'd said it was hopeless. He was more than a little tempted to hightail it to the frontier and attempt to forget the whole idea. If they failed, it might be more than just Duncan Macleod at the tender mercies of the Blue Sun scientists.

Their assault started smoothly. Methos quickly left Nick and Amanda in order to gain computer access. Once he'd found the location in the complex that their friend was being held, he directed their rescue while at the same time attempting to access and erase all files related to Mac. He breathed a sigh of relief when Nick told him over the com that they'd found the highlander.

"But he's dead," the young immortal informed him.

"You say that like it's a bad thing," Methos joked. "He'll revive to regale us with Scottish songs by the time we leave," Methos replied almost laughing. There it was done, now to release the virus and hopefully destroy all mention of immortals on the computer completely, not just one Duncan Macleod.

"No, you don't understand Adam. He's DEAD, there is no buzz from him at all."

Methos froze in place. It was impossible. With their shared quickening, he would have known surely. But wait, he hadn't felt Mac's presence when they arrived on the station. For the recent past, they could almost feel each other even if they were on the same planet, let alone a space station the size of a city. "His head?"

"His head is still in place, just no buzz. I've finally got Amanda moving, but I need your help. This hundan is heavy."

"I'll meet the two of you at the first junction."

--

It had taken Macleod two days to revive. By the time his buzz returned twelve hours after they'd gotten him off the station, Methos had almost given up hope. Even after reviving, Macleod still had a lot of painful healing to endure. For most of the next week he hardly recognized anyone except Methos. It was enough to bring out the Horseman in the older immortal. As soon as Duncan was comfortable with only Amanda and Nick to look after him, Methos left. It did not take him long to locate Duncan's watcher, but it took two days before he was finished with the man. Kronos would have been disappointed in him – he only managed to make the torture last two days. He was unsure if it was because he was rusty, if he simply let the anger control him. Methos returned to visit Duncan when he could, but it was a risk each time. He had just returned to the Watcher organization for the first time in five lifetimes. He wasn't trusted yet, and well, he couldn't risk bringing any attention to the other three. He arranged accidents for his Nick and Amanda's watchers, just in case. He was uncertain if the organization had been infiltrated by the Alliance or the Blue Sun, but he would be damned if he took a chance with their lives.

By the end of the story, Zoe held River in her arms trying to quiet the girl. Methos attempted to quiet his mind, but it was nearly impossible to banish the image of Duncan when they had first found him. The immortal had been starved so that he was as skinny as Methos and had been cut so many times, repeatedly, the man had actually started to scar. He forced his mind away from it by embracing the anger. It might not be any healthier for the girl, but to him it was less disturbing than her distress.

"So that's it. One watcher sold an immortal, and the four of you run scared?" Mal asked.

"Honestly, I don't know that his watcher did sell him. The man denied it with his dying breath, but I couldn't exactly afford to interrogate all of them, now could I? No one else disappeared during the remainder of my time as a Watcher."

Mal started to pace. "How will they respond to losing the shipment?"

Methos shrugged. "I don't know. I don't even know how they knew I was on your ship, alright? I hadn't left Bellaraphon since I took the identity of Charles Pierce and I avoided anywhere that had possibility of security cameras."

An eerily quiet voice interrupted them. "Doesn't matter, none of you bun tien-shung de ee-duai-ro mortals do. They'll come, but we'll kill them. That's what Death on a Pale Horse does best," River said with a hungry smile.

"I'd take it as a kindness if you didn't make our insane assassin even more threatening and creepifying than normal," Mal remarked as he looked nervously at both River and Methos. Right now, he couldn't say for sure which one scared him more.

Methos closed his eyes. He really wished that River would learn not to communicate thoughts that would lead the crew to distrusting him.

--

"Womack here, to whom am I speaking?" the man on the screen asked. His facial features and mannerisms screamed military police.

The bookstore owner pushed Wan aside. "Womack, it's good to see you again. Been a long time."

"Not long enough Razzan. What do you want?"

Razzan smiled into the screen, the crow's feet around his eyes crinkling. "Ah, my dear Womack, surely you're not still holding a grudge. You were well compensated."

"I was also demoted two ranks old buzzard. Now I ask again, what do you want? Or am I supposed to guess which high profile prisoner you need me to set free this time because his prison sentence might be a tad too long."

"No, nothing like that, I assure you. There is just a little problem with a former employee who stole a large number of valuables some years ago. Of course, there is a large reward for their recovery."

"And the thief?" Razzan drew his fingers across his throat. "It will be expensive," Womack warned.

"Trust me, so long as we receive all the items intact, any price will be acceptable. The thief and the targets are on a firefly transport ship called Serenity. I'm sending you their last known coordinates and their filed destination."

Womack smiled at the mention of the firefly ship. "Serenity, you just might get a discount on this one after all." *** TBC in Death by Any Other Name: Conclusion

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