Changing of the Guard

Rating: PG - 15 for language and mature themes
Spoilers: All of HL & SG1

Feedback: Comments, flames, superfluous remarks and vicious character 
assassination may be cheerfully sent to:

Archive: All ready sent to Seventh Dimension and Heliopolis. All 
others go for it.

Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story belong to me and I'm 
not making any money. So, please sue me. At least that way I can maybe 
get on Oprah and have the other 7 minutes of my 15 minutes of fame.

Summary: Methos' plans for a little Research and Recreation take a 
decidedly dangerous turn when the Air Force discovers he's an 
Immortal. Can he survive the present, confront his past, and save 
Earth's future all at the same time?

Author's note: Many thanks to Arameth for guidance, assistance and 
quibbles. And Karoshi, for painlessly picking out the nits. Everyone 
should be so lucky!

For Estella, who deserves more and better.

Changing of The Guard
By Ecolea

The planet was your typical desert dream world, Colonel Jack O'Neill 
thought. Sun, sand and more sun. Oh, and hey, how about a little more 
sand? He yawned in the heat waiting patiently while Daniel and Carter 
did their scientific thing on the only remotely interesting structure 
in the vicinity. A sort of step pyramid, or ziggurat about half a mile 
from the Stargate. It was the only thing left on P4X37 that wasn't 
covered with sand. Long range reconnaissance showed a handful of other 
monolithic structures, but no people. Over the millennia the planet's 
orbit had shifted fractionally, making what had once been a marginally 
habitable planet into a giant sand dune. Whatever civilization had 
been here, was now long gone. A condition Jack hoped to find himself 
in fairly quickly.

"Come on, kids, let's get shakin'!" he called out. "It's way past your 

Teal'c grunted quietly, his broad face impassive as sweat gleamed 
brightly on his dark skin. He too was displeased with the amount of 
time they'd spent here. Chulak was a moderate world of pleasant climes 
and this desert heat was annoying.

"Hold on, sir!" Samantha Carter called out, her voice echoing from 
inside the building. "Daniel's found something!"

O'Neill glanced at Teal'c and shrugged, nodding in the direction of 
the entrance. "Shall we?"

Teal'c raised an eyebrow, indicating the decision was the colonel's.

With a sigh, Jack headed inside just as the sound of heavy stone 
grating against stone resounded through the cavernous interior. There 
was a scuffing sound and then a shout, followed quickly by a scream 
and Jack raced forward, following the last echo. 

"You two okay?" Jack called down the narrow rectangular opening in the 
floor, where a pair of blond heads could dimly be seen among the 
tangled limbs.

"We're fine," Carter called up.

"Yeah, fine," Daniel wheezed. "I broke Sam's fall." There was short 
scream, followed by groan of agony.

"Uh, sir," Carter reported. "I think he broke more than my fall."


"Ow! Come on, Jack! Have a little sympathy here!"

"Wuss," O'Neill muttered as he helped Daniel into his apartment. "Hey! 
I had that spear thingy in my shoulder and I was pretty cool about it, 
while you guys went off and...and translated or something. So, don't 
tell me about pain. It's just a broken leg."

"In three places! And a dislocated shoulder," Daniel added sullenly.

"This isn't a contest," Carter complained, easing Daniel's good arm 
from around her shoulders as Jack lowered him to the sofa.

"Well, he could've stayed at the SGC." Despite his seeming annoyance 
Jack carefully shifted a few pillows until Daniel was comfortable.

"At the base? For six weeks?" Daniel asked, looking shocked.

Jack only shrugged while Sam went to fetch a glass of water for Daniel 
to take his pain meds. "So, have you given any thought to the 
general's suggestion?" she asked as she returned, handing him the 

"About a replacement?"

"It's not a replacement," Samantha reminded him. "They wouldn't be 
going through the Stargate with us. Just assisting in the translation 
of all those tablets you recovered."

O'Neill snickered. "You mean all those tablets we recovered, along 
with Daniel here."

Both his friends frowned and he sighed, slumping down in a chair.

"Well, we do need another translator who's actually competent," Daniel 
muttered. "And I do, or did know this guy back in grad school, Adam 
Pierson. He was a research assistant in the Near Eastern studies 
department, working on his Ph.D. in Proto-Cuneiform. If anyone could 
translate those tablets it'd be him. He dropped off the radar a few 
years back, just before Katherine approached me."

"Think he'd pass muster?" O'Neill asked curiously.

Daniel tried to shrug and winced. "Don't know. I think he's British, 
or maybe Canadian. Nice guy, actually. Pretty laid back. I don't think 
he'd be any kind of security risk, if that's what you're asking. And 
he's the best when it comes to what we're looking for. Absolutely 
brilliant mind."

"So why drop out of sight?" Sam wondered.

"He was painfully shy. I mean, he never publishes, never applies for 
grants. The last time I saw Adam was at a symposium in Paris. He said 
he was thinking about taking a job for one of those obscure 
foundations that's funded by big corporations in need of a tax write 
off. Said they'd let him work out of his apartment."

"Sounds like a real winner," O'Neill sighed.

"Well, I liked him," Daniel insisted. "And he's open minded. The kind 
of guy, once you get to know him, that really means it when he says 
he's your friend."

"So he didn't turn his back on you when you went out on a limb in the 
scholarly community?" Sam smiled.

Daniel carefully shook his head. "Not Adam. He once told me there was 
more to history than mere mortals could probably imagine and that if I 
were right it would mean a whole new way of looking at the past. He 
was a good friend when I really needed one."

Jack nodded slowly. "Sounds like a stand up guy. Okay," he added 
getting to his feet. "We'll tell the general. He'll get security to 
check him out."


"Are you sure about this, Methos?" Joe Dawson asked dubiously.

"It's only for a year, Joe. And the work will be really interesting," 
he responded. "Besides, it's not like I'm doing anything at the 
moment, now that I've left the Watchers."

"Pretty boring between lives, huh?"

Methos shrugged. "It is what it is. And Arizona is nice this time of 
year. Paris is so damp in the winter."

"Old bones aching?" Dawson grinned.

The other man smiled. "It'll be a paid vacation for me. You know, do a 
little translating, catch a few rays, party with the undergrads at 

"Aren't you a little old for them?"

"I'm a little old for everybody," Methos grinned into his beer. 

Joe shook his head and finally sighed. "All right. It's not like I can 
stop you."

Methos gave him a kind smile. "Remember, it's only for a year."

"A lot can happen in a year," Dawson cautioned.

"Not from my point of view," the ancient Immortal reminded him. "And 
anyway, you know where to find me if you need me, right?"

Dawson nodded. "U of A, huh? Good school?"

"So I've heard. Although I'm more interested in its sun bronzed 

Dawson chuckled and went back to wiping down the bar, chatting up the 
other customers as he watched Methos depart. Maybe it would be good 
for the old man to get away from Paris for a while. Ever since Alexa 
had died he'd been pretty quiet. More so than usual. Ah hell, Dawson 
thought, it was only for a year.


Methos dragged his exhausted body down to the baggage claim area. The 
flight from Paris to Chicago had been tedious to say the least. Then 
his connecting flight to Tucson had been delayed, canceled and delayed 
again to finally arrive eight hours late. He was tired, wrinkled and 
feeling particularly grimy after wearing the same clothes for the 
better part of two days. If it hadn't been for that truly interesting 
photocopy they'd shown him of one of the tablets he would be working 
on, he'd have called it quits and gone home.

Still, he'd never seen writing quite like that before. Something 
similar to Sumerian proto-cuneiform, but not. Interesting indeed. It 
was definitely a puzzle. And he liked intellectual puzzles. It had, he 
reminded himself as he pulled his luggage from the carousel, given him 
the first jolt of excitement he'd felt in years. Working on his own 
chronicle and reading what early Watchers had thought of him had been 
mildly amusing, but it was certainly not entertaining enough to hold 
his attention for long. He wasn't that much of an ego maniac! And 
besides, he'd already skewed his chronicle enough to make finding him 
nearly impossible. Especially now that they were looking for a short, 
hairy, dark skinned man who loved to surf and spent his days sailing 
the seven seas in search of the perfect wave.

Then, out of the blue he'd gotten this call. Recommended by Dr. Daniel 
Jackson, who was apparently held in high esteem by his new employers. 
Interesting in and of itself. Daniel, for all his brilliance, was 
considered a flake and for years had hung about on the fringes of the 
academia. Not by choice, as Methos had done, but because his ideas 
were just too extreme. The pyramids 10,000 years old and of unknown 
origin? Even he'd had difficulty wrapping his brain around that one. 
The fact that he didn't remember them being built and that they'd 
always just sort of been there, had gone a long way toward convincing 
him to treat Daniel with a certain amount of respect. And there was, 
of course, the boy's marvelous ability with dead languages. Something 
no one in the community would ever dispute, though they would have 
very much liked to from what he recalled.

With an internal shrug at the vagaries and politics of academic life, 
Methos went to find the exit. According to the travel plans he'd been 
given, a car was supposed to be waiting for him. Of course, that was 
eight hours ago and he didn't exactly have an address even if poor 
Adam Pierson could afford to splurge on a taxi. Just a phone number 
with a contact name in case he had any problems. He'd called and left 
a message right before leaving Chicago, but who knew with 
universities. They tended to be terribly disorganized when it came to 
such things from what he recalled.

The glass double doors slid open as he stepped within range of the 
sensors and the warm dry air of the Arizona desert enveloped him. He 
set his bags on the pavement and looked around, surprised when he 
spotted a large black sedan with tinted windows in which the name 
Pierson on a white placard had been placed in the front passenger 
window. He started to reach for his bags and the window rolled down a 
few inches.

"Dr. Pierson?" a deep male voice called from the shadowy interior.

"Yes, I'm Adam Pierson," he acknowledged, relieved he wouldn't have to 
loiter on the street while waiting for transport.

"Leave those, I'll take care of them."

A soft click came from the right rear passenger door as it unlocked 
and Methos reached for the handle with a sigh. Just a little while 
longer, he thought, and he could have a nice hot shower, crawl between 
a clean set of sheets and rest for a few hours. Nirvana.

He climbed inside, laying his sword case on the floor, a bit startled 
when he saw the tinted security partition between him and the driver, 
but then this car service might cater mainly to corporate accounts 
where privacy was paramount. At least he wouldn't have to make idle 
chit chat with the driver, he thought putting the matter aside. If the 
university wanted to spend its money on fancy taxis rather than send a 
grad student in a beat-up Volvo to meet him, who was he to complain? 

There was a gentle jounce when the driver tossed his bags into the 
trunk, and another when it thudded shut behind him as Methos settled 
himself. The moment they pulled out into the late afternoon traffic he 
rested his head against the comfortably cushioned seat and stared out 
the window. How long had it been since he'd been in the area? he mused 
as he watched the scenery pass by. Sixty, seventy years? No longer, he 
thought. It was after Butch and Sundance. Right around the time the 
authorities were hunting down the last of the outlaws. He'd been a 
ranch hand at one of the big spreads, blending into the crowd. Not 
that he'd been wanted for anything, he reminded himself sardonically -
- for all that he'd implied as much to Dawson. He'd actually been sent 
West by his New York publisher to capture the essence of the outlaw 
lifestyle for a series of penny dreadfuls the man had in mind. Later, 
he'd drifted south across the border and down into Latin America for a 
time to visit the rubber plantation he'd once owned in Brazil. After 
he left here, he thought yawning widely, maybe he'd do the same.

He drifted to sleep with pleasant thoughts of dusky beauties in thin 
shifts on balmy tropical nights, certain that the driver would wake 
him when they reached their destination. A while later, how long he 
couldn't really tell, Methos woke feeling relaxed and refreshed by his 
nap. Odd, he thought as he peered out the window. The city was no 
where in sight and they were traveling through the desert as the last 
of the sunlight was disappearing.

Startled, he sat up straight and considered what to do. No one had 
actually specified the University in their talks. He'd merely assumed 
that was who he'd be working for. Then again, no one had bothered to 
correct that assumption. And that, he chided himself, had been a 
thoughtless mistake. No doubt he'd been so taken with the prospect of 
working on "the project" as they called it he hadn't really stopped to 
think about just who was funding it.

With a frown he knocked determinedly on the partition. "Excuse me, 
driver, but where are we going?" There was no response and he asked 
again, but the driver didn't seem to notice. Anxiously, he looked 
around the dark interior of the car searching for the door handle. 
Running his hand over the door he was horrified to find that there 
were no handles or indentations. The other door, of course, was 
identical and he sat back with a sense of numb dismay. 

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Methos cursed himself.  He should have been 
more observant when he'd gotten in, but then he probably should have 
checked more deeply into the nature of the project and who was 
handling the funding. That he'd been bored with his life and later 
tired from the flight was no excuse for over confidence and laziness. 
Damn! He'd been living too easy for too long to have made such an 
asinine mistake. Maybe MacLeod was right. A little more danger in his 
life would go a long way toward honing those vaunted survival 
instincts he was always crowing about.

So, Methos thought, finally leaning back again. What have you gotten 
yourself into this time? Black marketeers? That seemed most likely, he 
thought ruefully. Someone wanting a personal find translated, or maybe 
an authentication before an illegal sale. The skullduggery might be a 
little overdone in his opinion, but he'd been very cleverly 
manipulated. Something which hadn't happened in quite some time. He 
tended to think of academic circles as fairly tame, though some of the 
fringe elements with which one had to deal were often quite similar to 
organized crime in their machinations. 

What the hell had Daniel dragged him into?! he wondered angrily.  
Still, he hadn't actually spoken to Jackson, so the young man might 
not even be involved. On the other hand, Jackson had simply up and 
vanished from academia. But then, that was also fairly common when 
dealing with fringe theorists. When the grant money ran out they 
tended to take obscure positions at second rate schools where they 
could pursue their ideas without the pressure of tenure related 
publishing. He himself had been offered any number of those kinds of 

All right, he decided calmly, no need to panic. There was nothing he 
could do about the situation, so there was no point in worrying -- at 
least for the moment. And it wasn't as if he hadn't worked for black 
marketeers in the past -- just not in this century. These days the 
booming underground trade in ancient artifacts probably led to all 
sorts of criminal activity. That didn't necessarily mean he was in any 
danger. Likely, they were just extremely cautious about revealing 
their operation to a stranger. And from what he'd heard in recent 
years these modern fellows were mostly non-violent types who tended to 
be armchair historians with a respect for the professionals. Rumor 
also had it that they tended to pay excessively well, which generally 
insured that the professionals they lured into their schemes remained 
silent. Yes, he could see the naive and oh-so-trusting Daniel 
accidentally getting involved in this kind of mess, especially if he'd 
needed the money. And he'd likely thought Adam Pierson, who never 
published and was always in search of ever more obscure PhDs probably 
needed the money as well. It would be, on Jackson's part, an act of 
generosity, albeit utterly misplaced.

At that Methos had to laugh. That would be just typical of Daniel, who 
never thought beyond the parameters of his own obsession. He doubted 
the young man had changed much in the ensuing years. No doubt he meant 
well by proffering Adam's name and credentials to his employers, but 
he was definitely going to have a few choice words for his so-called 
friend when he caught up with the little bastard again.

They drove on for perhaps another twenty minutes as dusk turned to 
darkness until, in the distance, Methos could see the bright glow of a 
nearby city. At the next exit the driver pulled off the highway and 
headed for the light. Much relieved, Methos nodded to himself. At 
least he'd be near civilization. If necessary, he could play along for 
a bit, maybe even do the translations, then get the hell out.

After another few minutes the car slowed down and Methos peered out 
the window, mildly confused as to why they were stopping. A moment 
later he felt his jaw dropping as they pulled into a military guard 
station and the driver handed over what must have been his orders. 

"Bloody hell!" Methos gasped as they were waved through. The American 
military was funding this?! What the hell could they possibly want 
with a cache of proto-cuneiform tablets?! If that's even what they 
are, Methos nodded slowly to himself. Could be they were in need of a 
little code breaking. That would certainly explain the linguistic 
oddities he'd seen. Well, he thought, if that's what they wanted he'd 
be happy to oblige. It wasn't like he hadn't done that kind of work 

Though he didn't like to brag about it, he'd done his bit for the war 
effort in the forties working as a cryptographer for British 
Intelligence. Those had been heady days indeed, when cracking German 
codes meant ending the war and saving thousands of lives, not to 
mention the fascinating intellectual aspect of it. This would also 
explain the duplicitous methods they'd used to get him here. There'd 
be fairly tight security, but it was highly unlikely anyone would take 
him out and chop him into tiny little pieces when they were finished 
with him.

What really surprised him as they headed toward what was obviously a 
very large installation was the notion that Daniel Jackson might be 
working here. He'd never seemed the patriotic type. But then, who knew 
what the military might have offered him. 

They pulled up in front of a small white washed guest cottage where a 
young officer with captain's bars stood waiting.

"Welcome to Fort Hwachuka, Dr. Pierson," the captain greeted him as he 
opened the door and Methos stepped out.

"Bless you," Methos grinned. "Nasty cold you've got, Captain."

The young man gave him a slight smile as if he'd heard the joke a 
thousand times before. "Thank you, sir, but I was telling you the name 
of the fort."

"Sorry," he grinned even more broadly, not the least bit apologetic 
after what they'd put him through. 

The captain nodded stoically. "I'm Ed Shelby. I'll be your liaison 
while you're here. How was your trip, sir?"

"Tedious," Methos responded tersely as the driver, who was not in 
uniform, carried his bags to the cottage and laid them inside the 
door. There was no point in saying anything about how he'd been lured 
here under false pretenses. The captain wasn't likely to have been 
either responsible or knowledgeable about anything related to his 
hiring. He was just doing his job as he'd been ordered.

"If you'll follow me, I'll show you your quarters," Shelby suggested.

Methos nodded curtly and followed him up the flower lined walk to the 
door where he was handed a set of keys. 

"As I said, I'll be your liaison while you're with us," Shelby 
informed him. "If you need anything just pick up the phone and ask the 
base operator to page me." Methos opened the door and they stepped 
inside. "There's a packet over there on the desk," he pointed toward 
the neat living room as he switched on the hall light. "It contains 
all the information you need on base security, meal times if choose to 
go to the mess hall, building locations you're free to visit and the 
restricted areas you are not. If you need anything in one of the 
restricted areas you should contact me first. You'll also find an 
identification badge that you must have on your person at all times 
outside of your quarters."

Again, Methos nodded. He'd heard this or similar speeches before.

"Are you hungry?" the young man inquired politely. "The kitchen is 
fully stocked, but if you prefer, I can have sent something sent 

"You guys have surf & turf?" Methos asked, recalling just how well fed 
the Americans had been during the war. He'd often eaten at their mess 
hall whenever he'd been invited, just to avoid the half rations and 
corn flake extended pseudo-meat to which most of Britain had been 

The captain nodded. "Oh, yeah. Best lobster you'll find in the state, 
flown in once a week straight from Maine. How do you want your steak?"

"Medium rare."

"Baked potato?"

Methos grinned. "All the trimmings. Beer, too, if you've got it."

"Sir, might I suggest a soft drink, juice or coffee," Shelby said as 
he gently tried to dissuade him. "You do have a physical in the 

Methos raised an eyebrow at that. Any alcohol he might have consumed 
would have long since been metabolized by his Immortal system. Still, 
when in Rome... "Coffee's fine," he murmured.

"I'll have it sent over immediately," the captain told him as he 
headed for the door. "In the morning if you're up to it after your 
physical, I'll give you the grand tour and then you can join the rest 
of the project team for breakfast at the mess hall. There'll be a 
guard stationed outside if you need anything."

Methos thanked the young man, sighing in disgust as he closed the door 
behind him, recalling the annoyance of getting up every morning at 4 
am to get to work. Not that he'd have to here, but they'd be blowing 
that damned horn for reveille and he'd never been able to sleep 
through that nonsense in any army. Well, at least he wasn't a 
prisoner, that was some consolation at any rate. And in the morning 
he'd get to speak to whoever was in charge and find out why they had 
approached him in such a clandestine fashion. For now though, he 
thought, kicking off his shoes as he searched for the shower, he'd be 
content with this charmingly pleasant cottage, the usual oversized 
American meal and a decent night's sleep. He'd worry about the little 
things in the morning.


The day started out much as Methos expected. Noisy. Great bleating 
horns and the national anthem blaring from loudspeakers into every 
nook and cranny of the fort. This was shortly followed by thunderous 
boot stomping accompanied by enthusiastically shouted cadences and the 
occasional boom sha-ka-la-ka which made the windows vibrate and drove 
him from the comfort of his bed. He had just enough time to make 
himself presentable and grab a quick cup of coffee before the door 
bell rang and a bright eyed, cheerful Captain Shelby appeared looking 
like an energetic puppy ready to go out and play.

Two hours later he'd gotten a clean bill of health from the doctor, a 
quick tour of the areas he was allowed access to which were 
surprisingly numerous and a run down on the people he'd be joining for 
breakfast. There were several well known experts in cuneiform from 
around the world and a handful of linguists from the military's 
Defense Language Institute, apparently here to observe.

He chatted amiably with the others over breakfast. Though he'd never 
met any of them, Methos had read a number of their papers. Around 
midmorning they were escorted to a large room where they were assigned 
seats with individual files neatly laid at computer terminals and 
asked to begin working.

Methos gave a silent sigh of despair. For the next two days, they were 
informed, they would be asked to work separately on the same documents 
in order to create several independent theories for later discussion. 
A good idea, but incredibly boring. Still, there was the work itself. 
And as Methos opened his folder he forgot to ask about speaking with 
senior officers, or complaining about being misled. There was just the 
work and the fascination of the puzzle before him.


Taps was playing when Methos looked up from his computer screen, 
surprised at how long he'd been sitting at the cramped station. The 
remains of his lunch were in the waste basket under the desk and 
Captain Shelby was patiently waiting. He stood and stretched, rubbing 
his burning eyes. For two days he'd been practically glued to his 
seat, frustrated when they wouldn't let him return with the file to 
his quarters. Whatever they'd given him to work on, the inscriptions 
went well beyond interesting and into the realm of the fantastical.

Though he hadn't yet been allowed access to the actual tablets, the 
scanned images he'd been shown were among the most well preserved he'd 
ever seen. No erosion or breaks whatsoever. That alone was curious. 
Like the others, he'd been given two small sections of different 
tablets to translate -- obviously part of a larger find. The first had 
spoken of ancient gateways to the stars. Or maybe stairways to heaven, 
Methos smirked. The second, of someone called Tok'ra, who'd stood as a 
weapon, or had some kind of weapon against the evil overlords of the 

The others were long since gone to dinner when Methos followed the 
captain out of the building, declining his offer of dinner in the mess 
and strolling back to his cottage in quiet, thoughtful contemplation 
of the bits and pieces of stories the tablets had told. If he hadn't 
heard very nearly every creation epic under the sun and by those who'd 
learned them from their own forefathers he'd be inclined to think 
someone was pulling his leg. Yet, there was something about their 
content which was eerily familiar, though he couldn't quite remember 
where he might have heard such a tale. Still, there were thousands of 
such confabulations as he recalled a bit ruefully, mostly based on 
truth with a lot of pretentious fiction thrown in by the poets for 
good measure. Truth might be stranger than fiction, but not to a bard 
who earned his supper by his wit and erudition. He'd heard enough of 
them over the ages to know when they were taking poetic license with 
the facts. Of course, in those days that was to be expected. Historic 
fact versus fiction was never important as long as the pacing of the 
tale was exciting and the voice telling it was reasonably good. 

His colleagues seemed equally fascinated from some of the whispered 
conversations he'd overheard. With a secret smile he opened the front 
door, realizing that he was looking forward to seeing the expressions 
on their faces when he presented his findings in the morning. Not one 
of them had managed to get past the first section with any certainty. 
He'd only succeeded because he'd recalled an obscure southern 
Mesopotamian dialect which had been dying out in the wake of 
successive invasions right around the time he'd taken up with the 
Horsemen. It was not exactly the same, but close enough to allow for a 
few educated guesses on his part.

And the truth was, Methos finally decided as he pulled a beer from the 
fridge, it was unlikely they'd let him out of here before the project 
was completed. The military had gone to a great deal of trouble to get 
him here in secrecy and, he assumed, the other experts as well. 
Something about these tablets interested them. And while he didn't 
really care about their interests, his lay in getting the translations 
done as quickly as possible.

Methos yawned and stretched, then threw himself down on the couch in a 
comfortable sprawl. Putting his beer on the coffee table he grabbed 
the remote and turned on the television, shutting it off a moment 
later when he found the noise irritating. With an exhausted sigh he 
leaned his head back against the cushions, just resting his eyes as he 
wondered what to do about dinner. Maybe he could order a pizza, he 
thought wearily, yawning again. Then again, maybe he should just throw 
one of those frozen meals they'd left in the freezer into the 
microwave and nuke it. He opened his eyes and reached for his beer, 
then thought better of it when the light started to give him a 
headache. He switched off the lamp and put the room into darkness.

Too much time in front of that damnable screen under lousy overhead 
lighting, he silently complained, rubbing the crease between his 
brows. A little nap, he thought. Yes, that was the ticket. A little 
rest and he'd be right as rain in a bit. He wasn't really that hungry 
anyway. He'd just close his eyes and think about what he was going to 
do to his old friend Daniel when he got his hands on him. Maybe later 
he'd have a snack or something.

Content for the moment Methos drifted off to sleep, not even waking 
several hours later when a half a dozen black clad, hooded figures 
surrounded the tiny guest cottage as they prepared to break in.


"Please come with us, sir."

Methos woke with a start, surrounded by several ominous looming 
figures. For a brief instant he was back in Paris, fearful of renegade 
Watchers hunting him down as the most ancient of all Immortal 
abominations. The instant passed and with it came the knowledge of 
where and when he was. And, if that was so, and he was fairly certain 
it was, this could only mean one thing. Soldiers. The voice politely 
repeated the request. Yup, soldiers.

He sat up and took a deep breath before getting to his feet. The idea 
of refusing didn't even enter his mind, nor did asking questions like, 
"Who are you?" or "Where are you taking me?" The hoods made it obvious 
they didn't want him to know the first which meant the second would 
likely go unanswered as well. That left, "What do you want from me?" 
which he asked as they led him through the back door and out to a 
waiting truck.

"Your complete cooperation," the voice responded neutrally.

Oh, well, of course they wanted that! Methos thought dryly. But his 
cooperation in what? How could he cooperate if he didn't know what 
they wanted? He decided on simply doing as he was told and with a 
quiet sigh he climbed in and took a seat, surrounded by his captors. 
They rode in silence after that. Not long and not far. Somewhere on 
the fort he was certain.

"Move," the voice ordered him out of the truck and Methos obliged, 
suppressing his sudden anxiety as they entered what he quickly 
recognized as the medical building. The antiseptic smell of the halls 
lingered in his nostrils as they marched him up a corridor, through 
multiple sets of security doors and into a changing room. Two of the 
black clad figures remained by the door as the others, he assumed, 
took up positions outside.

"Strip," he was told and pointed toward an open locker where a 
hospital gown sat neatly on an upper shelf.

Savagely controlling his sudden urge to cut and run despite the fact 
that he was greatly out numbered, Methos quietly followed the 
instructions. Immortals and modern hospitals did not mix well. A 
standard physical was never a problem. The most that generally 
happened was that he was cordially asked to donate a pint or two of 
blood. All Immortals were universal donors, just as they were all 
perfectly healthy textbook specimens. He didn't know what the results 
of a more intensive study might show about Immortal physiology, but he 
dreaded the idea of being subjected to one.

"Look, I've already had a physical," he pointed out as he slid the 
gown over his shoulders.

The ensuing silence did not bode well, nor did the opening of a second 
door which led to a very well appointed examination room.

"In there," the voice ordered and Methos briefly closed his eyes, 
taking a deep breath as he steeled himself for what was about to come.


Cold. He was cold and his insides were shivering with the shock of 
what had been done -- clenching tight against any further invasion as 
his hands gripped the hard edge of the exam table. They'd started by 
searching his body. Every inch of it inside and out. Three doctors, 
each taking turns examining him and correlating their findings. 
There'd been x-rays, followed by an alphabet soup of tests. MRI, EKG, 
EEG and an EMG where painful electrical charges had been run through 
his arms and legs to see how the nerves worked. 

Somehow, he'd thought that was the worst. He taken hundreds of 
Quickenings, felt the exquisitely agonizing sensation of being seared 
by lightening, but this was not the same. The sudden, random impacts 
of electrical energy in the space of a few moments were nothing 
compared to the slow, methodical, utterly impersonal torture of 
waiting for the comparatively tiny jolts to come.

Then they'd started taking samples. Blood, hair, fingernails, saliva 
and tissue from various portions of his anatomy. He was handed a cup 
and told to fill it. With what he didn't have to ask. Finally, they'd 
opened him up again with a brightly cold speculum, took a stool 
sample, checked his prostate and filled another little cup with his 
ejaculate. All without ever asking his permission or inquiring as to 
whether or not he was comfortable.

Through it all Methos had remained silent and aloof, deliberately 
numbing himself to either anger or humiliation. He'd lived through 
worse, certainly. Although, he was forced to admit, nothing so 
impersonally cruel. Even being fingered for sale at auction had at 
least taken into account that he physically existed. That he was not 
simply an amalgam of parts to be catalogued, scrutinized and studied. 
Still, he would heal, and he would not allow them to see the emotional 
hurt they had rendered. There would be time later to lick his wounds 
and weep for his lost dignity.

Without a word the doctors left and he hopped from the table and went 
to clean himself as best he could. He moved slowly and the guards at 
the door, who had remained throughout, did not trouble him. When he 
was done one of them handed him something to wear. Not his own 
clothes, but a crisp blue prison issue coverall and a pair of soft 

Oh, dear gods, they knew! They knew what he was. Or if not that, then 
that he was something other than human.

Methos put a hand on the counter to steady himself. He must not give 
in to despair. How much they knew was still in question and, more 
importantly, what they intended to do with that information. 

He dressed in silence, trying to maintain his emotional distance and 
not speculate on how they had learned that he was different. He must 
simply bide in quiet and allow them to ask their questions, which 
surely they would do and soon. His answers must depend on what they 
asked, not what he thought they knew.

He didn't have long to wait, these people were nothing if not 
efficient. He was led across the hall and into a room so brightly lit 
it made his head ache. Which was, he supposed, the point. The walls 
were painted a drab, institutional grayish green, obviously meant to 
instill hopelessness. A hard, straight backed chair and nondescript 
table were bolted to the concrete floor and he was told to take a 
seat. Behind him, a single, sexless guard in the black on black 
ensemble they all wore stood silently at attention in the corner.

An entirely sobering setting indeed, Methos was forced to admit. The 
physical examination, long and painful, had been meant not just for 
the gathering of information, but to break him down -- softening him 
up just enough for this. And to some degree it had worked, he realized 
with chagrin. He was definitely afraid of these people and of what 
they were capable of doing to him. Still, he was made of sterner stuff 
and unlike anyone they had ever encountered which he hoped would be to 
his advantage.

"Who are you?"

Methos glanced around the tiny room, no bigger than a walk-in closet, 
searching for the origin of the disembodied, electronically altered 
voice, but the speakers were extremely well hidden. No doubt the 
cameras watching him were as well.

"You should know," he finally responded. "You invited me here."

"We invited Adam Pierson, but it's obvious that's not who you are."

He shouldn't have been surprised by the accusation, but he was. "You 
must be mistaken."

"You are not Adam Pierson. There is no Adam Pierson."

"I AM Adam Pierson," he insisted, though he suspected it was futile 
and he was right.

"Your birth certificate is a fraud. Adam Pierson does not exist. 
Neither did Helena Pierson, or Benjamin Pierson, the supposed parents 
of the child. They are fictional constructs."

Shit! Methos inwardly cringed. Unlike most Immortals in the modern era 
he'd learned early never to take names off headstones and assume a 
real identity. Instead, he thought he'd been clever, using his medical 
background to issue false birth certificates over the years. Even now, 
it was easy enough to slip into the system through small, backwater 
hospitals as an orderly or nurse, create the necessary documents, have 
a distracted clerk file the appropriate forms and allow them to remain 
dormant until he had need of the identity. Adam Pierson had come into 
existence in just such a manner in 1965. Twenty years later he'd 
simply gone round to his "father's" solicitor, produced an equally 
fictitious set of death certificates and inherited his modest estate. 
And now the game was up.

On the other hand, he thought with just a touch of hope, maybe he 
wasn't as bad off as he had thought. Perhaps they simply thought he 
was a spy. He hadn't been the first to have that idea, not by any 
stretch of imagination. He had in fact stolen it from the Americans, 
who'd played that game even before the First World War. But then, he 
wasn't about to admit to being a spy either if he could avoid it. A 
bullet to the brain might be the least of his worries at that point.

"Your research is wrong," Methos said to the blank wall before him, 
hoping to draw them out a little more. If anyone was Adam Pierson he 
certainly was. Let them prove he wasn't.

And they did exactly that. With his stomach tightening in ever 
increasing knots the voice proceeded to list almost every identity 
Methos had ever owned during the age of modern banking. Every account 
had been traced and by virtue of these his university records. From 
Vienna to Harvard they had it all. From there they recounted a 
plethora of evidence from ships' logs, deeds, estate sales, property 
taxes he'd paid, court cases he'd either brought or been named in, to 
the church bans posted for his three most recent marriages -- 
essentially public records of every kind from the 16th century onward. 

"Now, what are you?" the voice asked when it had finished with its 

He sat quietly for a long moment wearing a calculatedly distressed 
expression, plotting. They did not know about Immortals, he decided. 
In fact, they did not really know much about him. They were simply on 
a fishing expedition having inadvertently found something they'd never 
seen. Good, he thought. He would give them what they wanted. A nice, 
neat fable with enough truth thrown in for them to do whatever 
checking they needed and believe. He would not worry now about what 
came later.

"What am I?" he repeated thoughtfully. "I am a man. I was born in the 
year 1283,"  he told them, dating himself a little earlier than they 
had for the sake of realism and because there would likely be no 
records that far back. "I was called Valerie du Fontaine. The third 
son of a third son of minor nobility with little ambition except to 
enter a monastery and further my studies as a monk. My family found 
this acceptable and I was shortly enrolled with the brothers who 
served the Knights Templar in France. Not long after this the King of 
France declared the Knights anathema. Soldiers came and arrested those 
they could, killing the rest who were of little importance. 

"They killed me, too," he murmured softly, recalling the day it had 
happened and he'd been driven from his brief sanctuary. He sighed 
deeply for his captors' benefit. "At least," he added, "I think they 
did. I do not know for certain.

"This monastery was built above an ancient grotto, where it was said a 
vision of Christ himself appeared to a shepherd and baptized the boy." 
In truth, it had been an old Roman bathhouse, where the whores had 
been among the best in Gaul. Then again, maybe Christ had appeared to 
bless that notorious den of sin and iniquity. It would have been just 
like him according to Peter and Paul.
"Weak with blood loss and thirst I crawled to the shrine and drank of 
its holy waters. For three days I lay there," he went on, keeping up 
the Christian imagery. "Praying to God and asking that I might be 
healed. On the fourth day, which was the Feast of All Saints, I awoke 
to find my prayers had been answered." He paused to increase the drama 
of his tale and devoutly crossed himself, murmuring a blessing.

"Amazed," he finally continued. "I left this place and returned to my 
home, remaining in the bosom of my family for many years. Eventually, 
it came to be noticed that I was not growing older and in fear of 
being burned for a witch and as a heretic because of my past with the 
Templars, I fled to England. From there began my many journeys and 
many lives, such as you have discovered. I broke no laws, harmed no 
one, and disrespected no man worthy to be called such. I have lived as 
honestly and as honorably as can be expected of any man, until this 
century where I was forced to take steps to ensure my survival. I 
stole nothing from anyone. I did not take a name that belonged to 
another, nor moneys I had not earned."

"You entered this country fraudulently and illegally claimed dual 
citizenship," the voice pointed out.

"Damn straight I did!" he told them putting a little honest anger into 
his voice. "I fought in your bloody revolution!" He'd been running 
from Kronos back then and hadn't had much of a choice, but he still 
felt entitled. "Didn't you find a record of that? Dr. Francis Benjamin 
of Bedersville, Pennsylvania. There used to be a plaque in the town 
square with my name on it!"

There was silence from the gallery and he knew he'd scored a point.

"We will continue checking your story, and watching you closely," the 
voice told him. "In the meantime, you may return to the project until 
we find another use for you."

"Another use?" Methos asked softly. He didn't like the sound of that.

"If you are not useful, then you're dangerous. Don't bite the hand 
that feeds you," the voice threatened. "It hits hard."

The icy finger of dread trailed down his spine as he followed the 
guard back to the changing room. They would not let him go. Not in a 
year, not in ten years. And what if they couldn't find another use for 
him? He shivered at the thought as he stripped off the coverall and 
got out his clothes. Then he would make himself useful. He'd done it 
before. To Kronos, to Caesar, even to Khan. He would be the most 
useful, docile cat in the barn -- until he unsheathed his claws and 
they realized he wasn't tamed at all.


The little cottage was quiet and filled with late afternoon shadows 
when they dropped him off and watched him go inside. Reflexively, 
Methos locked and bolted the door then headed for the bathroom where 
he hurriedly shed his clothes and climbed into the shower to wash the 
stink of fear from his pores. He turned the hot water up until it was 
near scalding and stood in the billowing waves of steam as it pounded 
over his back while he rested his forehead against the cool of the 
tiled stall. It eased the cramps in his muscles, gained over the long 
hours where he'd held himself tense and relaxed him enough to allow 
his stomach to unknot. Finally, he slid to the floor, kneeling over 
the drain as he heaved up bile and shook so hard he had to grab hold 
of the wall.

A delayed reaction to the stress and the shock, he reminded himself. 
Neither unprecedented, nor unexpected. Quite healthy, in fact, came 
the sardonic thought. He turned his face up to the spray and rinsed 
his mouth, then sat with his arms wrapped around his legs while the 
water poured down on his head. Eventually, the water cooled and he 
drew himself up, turned off the shower and toweled himself down.

Pulling his robe off the back of the door he slid into it and climbed 
into bed, curling up with his arms around a pillow. He was so tired 
and yet so overwrought sleep would not come. He hated this feeling. 
This helplessness he recalled all too well from days long past when 
others had taken charge of his life. It was useless, he realized, to 
even contemplate escape at the moment. They would be watching for 
that. And it was doubtful he could get off the base, or if he did, he 
suspected, he wouldn't get very far. Why they had even let him return 
to work on their little pet project he couldn't even guess, nor did he 
want to try. In their own way these people were as dangerous to him as 
any head hunter. Revolutionary war hero or not, he doubted they would 
trouble much over dissecting him like a frog.

He shivered at the thought. Better their willing tool than an 
unwilling science project, he reasoned. There was nothing they could 
learn from his body anyway, he realized. The medical exams could not 
have shown anything untoward or they would not have let him come back 
to the project. It was all in the Quickening. And if they got that 
from him it wouldn't matter anymore.

Methos lifted his head as the solemn sound of taps began to play in 
the distance signaling the end of the work day. This was the time when 
in days past the soldiers would leave off what they were doing and lay 
their dead to rest as they laid aside the day. It was a quiet time. A 
momentary pause in the insanity of war which he'd once come to love 
for the sense of peace it brought him. And given his reaction, he 
mused, as the last of the shudders left him, apparently he still did. 

With a sigh, Methos punched up the pillow and tucked it under his 
head. He was free of that place for the moment, and if he played their 
little game one day he would be quit of them too. He yawned and closed 
his eyes. As the last notes faded in the distance, Methos made peace 
with the terrors of the day and at last drifted off into the 
tranquillity of a dreamless night.


Reveille sounded and Methos groaned yanking the pillow over his head. 
Bloody great nuisance, he thought, when he didn't have to be anywhere 
until seven. Then he paused, realizing just how lucky he was to be 
hearing reveille at all. He threw off the pillow and sat up, wondering 
if it had all been just an awful nightmare. 

He lifted his hands to rub the sleep from his eyes and caught sight of 
a small bandage on his wrist where they'd taken blood gasses or 
something equally painful. Angrily, he ripped it off, taking a little 
skin with it. He didn't care and he watched himself heal, sighing with 
relief at the tiny prickles of energy which danced over his flesh. 
Nightmare it might be, but he was alive and relatively free. And for 
that he felt extraordinarily blessed. Five thousand years wasn't 
enough. Not for him. Greedy creature that he was, he wanted more.

Feeling slightly giddy, another reaction to the previous day's shocks 
he knew, Methos climbed out of bed and got himself ready for work. By 
the time Captain Shelby showed up, he was dressed, fed and bouncing 
around the cottage to one of his favorite bands.

"Good morning, Ed," Methos greeted him as he opened the door, 
surprised they'd let the young man remain his liaison. He would have 
reassigned the captain and given the prisoner a less affable guardian. 
"What's that?" he asked, noticing the large blue plastic container in 
the other man's hands.

"I'm glad to see you're okay," Shelby smiled. "They sent word you'd 
gone to the infirmary night before last. My wife made soup just in 
case you were still out of sorts this morning."

Methos hid the shock of his surprise. The man hadn't a clue as to what 
had happened. Which could only mean one thing in a military society. 
Whoever had dragged him out of here wasn't in charge of the project -- 
and wasn't yet high enough in rank to order him a permanent guard. 
More importantly, a faction within the ranks meant whatever he was 
working on was considered important to national security. Nothing else 
could so incite an American to conspiracies and plots. These of course 
were of no concern to Methos. What did concern him was finding out who 
was in charge and getting himself placed under their protection for as 
long as he was involved.

"I'm feeling much better this morning," Methos smiled, taking the 
soup. "And do thank your dear wife, her concern is truly appreciated. 
I'll have it for lunch."

Shelby frowned. "Why don't you take it easy today," he suggested. 
"You've probably been working too hard. Anyway, you can slack off a 
bit now that you've got the job."

"Got the job?" Methos asked, confused.

"Didn't they tell you? That's what all the separate work stations were 
about. You know, a test to see who was the best. And you're it. 
Congratulations. The project is all yours."

"Mine," Methos echoed, feeling numb.

"Yeah. General Hammond flew in yesterday morning to thank the other 
participants and send them home. I guess he figured you weren't up to 

Methos wanted to scream in frustration. "Who's General Hammond?" he 
asked instead.

Shelby shook his head and shrugged. "He's the man in charge. The 
senior officer. I don't know exactly what he does. National security. 
Very hush hush."

"I see," Methos nodded. "Is there any way I can speak with him? To 
discuss the goals of the project, of course."

"I'll put in a request," Shelby offered. "I can't say if he'll 

"What was your impression of the man?" Methos asked, hoping against 
hope that he could count on the general's support. If he could at 
least get the project moved away from the fort he might stand a better 
chance of getting out of this thing in a reasonable amount of time.

"Solid," Shelby nodded thoughtfully. "I'd let him watch my back."

Methos raised an eyebrow. A high compliment indeed from a soldier. 
"I'll bear that in mind," he responded, tucking his soup under one arm 
and closing the door as he stepped outside. 

Having done all he could at the moment, he headed off to work, not 
knowing whether to curse himself for an egotistical fool and "winning" 
the project, or thank whatever gods he could recall that he had. He 
had to wonder if his usefulness to the general had thwarted his 
usefulness to the others. Or were their goals similar and just their 
methods divergent? Still, it didn't really matter, did it? He was here 
and there was work to do. Enough to keep him occupied and out of the 
hands of those who were obviously up to no good.


It had been almost two weeks since his arrival and Methos was working 
quietly at his desk, alone in what had once been the testing room. The 
cramped work stations were gone and in their place had come a 
comfortably cushioned chair, an oversized mahogany desk, wide work 
tables, movable chalk boards and a bank of state of the art computers, 
faster and with greater memory than anything he had ever owned. If he 
hadn't felt he'd been so callously ill-used Methos might have been 
content to stay here. 

As things stood now, he felt continually frustrated. What he could see 
of the tablets, which he still hadn't been given access to, was just 
as fascinating as he'd first thought. The problem was with some of the 
photographic imagery. Whatever they were made of didn't look like 
either stone or clay, or even gold, but some kind of metal which gave 
off a reflective halo through the lens distorting the image just 
enough to make him unsure of his translations. A rubbing, or even an 
artist's rendition would have been far superior to what he'd been 

Despite the fact that he had spent most of his life reading incised 
characters on a variety of materials and was used to their peculiar 
natural shadows from being placed on various walls and other objects, 
this was entirely different in that he didn't recognize the shadings 
being reflected here. They seemed to shift from photograph to 
photograph making it unclear as to what was part of the letter and 
what was not. At this point, he wasn't even sure of the original 
translation which had gotten him the job, though no one seemed to be 
complaining. It was almost as if they had expected his answers, or 
knew whether or not the translations were accurate. Methos shook his 
head and sighed. It was all so damnably odd.

The phone rang and he reached for it absently. "Pierson," he answered.


"Daniel?!" Methos sat back in his chair, clutching the cord like a 

"Yeah. Hi. General Hammond asked me to give you a call. He said to 
apologize because he's been in Washington and couldn't get back to 
you. He mentioned that you wanted to discuss the project?"

Taking a deep breath, Methos kept a tight rein on his anger toward the 
younger man. "Daniel, where exactly are you?"

"Me? Where? Oh, I'm at home. Why?"

"I thought I'd get to see you here. You know, catch up on old times."

"Gee, Adam, I'd really like that, but I won't be going anywhere for a 

"How so?"

"I kinda had a little accident. That's why I recommended you to fill 
in while I was gone."

Fill in?! Methos silently exclaimed. The nerve of the boy! "Well, I 
appreciate it, Danny. Really I do." One day he was going to show him 
just how much and make that little accident seem like a paper cut.

"Was there something you needed? I mean about the project," Jackson 

"Yes," Methos smiled as he picked up the image he'd been attempting to 
translate. "Yes, there is. Have you seen these photographs? The ones 
they've asked me to work on?"


"It's a legitimate request, Jack."

"Look, I'm sure your buddy is a great guy, but you know the rules. 
Nothing goes out of the SGC unless it's to R&D. If he wants to look at 
the tablets up close and personal he'll have to come here. And stay 
here. For the duration." O'Neill silently groaned. Just what Stargate 
Command needed -- another hopeless geek. There was a brief moment of 
silence on the other end of the phone.

"You're right, I know. It's just, he's the really quiet type. Very 
gentlemanly. Wouldn't hurt a fly. The SGC can be a little intense, if 
you know what I mean."

O'Neill rolled his eyes. "Listen, why don't you just ask him? If he's 
anything like you, he'll be so hypnotized by those tablets he'll only 
come up for air and meals and won't notice a damn thing that's going 

He could almost see Daniel frowning across the line. "I notice, Jack. 
I just try not to make an issue of it when you put gum in my shoes, or 
chocolate pudding in my pants."

"Hey, that was not me! I'd never stoop to the old chewing gum in the 
shoes gag. Must've been Sam."

Daniel laughed softly. "Okay, Jack. I'll let Adam know you'll make the 

"Don't you want to ask him first?"

"Already did. He agreed right off the bat. I do know the rules, Jack."

"So what was this whole conversation about?"

"Just having a little fun. It's weird, you know, but I kind of miss 
you getting on my case about stuff."

"Oh, well if that's all it is. Not like you're trying to give me AN 
ULCER!" Jack slammed down the phone and laughed. Imagine that, the 
little dweeb had actually missed his regular ass chewing.


Methos stood outside the small apartment complex where Daniel lived, 
trying to decide the best approach to take with him. Have Adam Pierson 
beat Daniel within an inch of his life and disappear for the next 
fifty years, or let Death come to terrorize him with the 

With a muted snarl he nervously fingered the small piece of paper 
lying crumpled in his pocket. "We'll be watching you," was all that it 
had said, but that was all they had needed. A reminder that while he 
might have arranged a brief reprieve they still knew how to find him.

He leaned his head back and stared up at the night sky. What was he 
still doing here? Why hadn't he run? Certainly not because he was 
angry with Danny. He'd tolerated worse fools than that. Loyalty? Now 
that was more likely, he admitted with a touch of chagrin. Because he 
knew for sure that if he did run, they would hunt him, and while they 
might not find him, they would find Joe and Mac and all he held dear. 
And in finding them they would surely find out everything -- causing 
the worst nightmare of every Immortal living in this modern age to 
come true. And while he knew enough to hide, the others wouldn't. So, 
it would serve no purpose to run at the moment, unless he truly wished 
to win the Prize by virtue of default.

Damn it! he sighed angrily. He would just have to see this thing 
through and hope for the best. Maybe they'd lose interest in a few 
years and find some other poor sod to torment. Or maybe their 
superiors would find their report so utterly ridiculous that they 
would undercut their own position, especially if he were not there to 
be physical proof for them. It was Daniel and his friends then, or 

Before he could change his mind Methos went inside, finding the 
apartment without any problem. He knocked and heard what sounded like 
books falling, a shout of pain mixed with frustration and finally, 
Daniel's voice yelling that the door was open.

He stepped inside and felt his anger start to melt away. Poor Daniel 
looked battered enough at the moment. Besides, he'd never been the 
sort to pull the wings off flies or torture wounded puppies. Daniel's 
right leg was in a cast that reached to his hip and braced by the 
wheel chair so that it stuck out in front of him. His left arm was 
immobilized in a sling and one eye had been blackened, though the 
coloring was almost completely faded. 


"Adam? Adam!" He dropped the rest of the books he'd been fumbling with 
and worked the controls so that the chair jerked forward.

Methos moved to help, but Daniel waved him off. "It's okay, I've 
nearly got the hang of this thing."

"Must have been some accident," he said, shaking his head as he stowed 
his duffel near the door with the rest of his things.

"Remind me to tell you someday when it's no longer classified."

Methos raised an eyebrow at that. Pip squeak Danny really was working 
for the military. Amazing.

"So," Daniel said, smiling innocently at him. "It's great to see you, 
Adam. They told me you were due at the base in the morning."

Methos nodded and took a seat on the couch. "I am, but I told my 
liaison I'd make my own way here and caught an early flight out 
instead. Thought I'd come round first and see how you were doing 
before they chained me to a desk."

Daniel rolled his eyes. "As well as can be expected given this." He 
looked down at his body and shrugged gingerly. "Could be worse, I 

Methos sighed and shook his head. "Danny, how in the world did you of 
all people get involved with the military?"

"Pretty much the same way you did." 

Methos tried not to flinch. No, it hadn't been the same for Daniel. He 
was sure of it.

"Somebody approached me and made an offer I couldn't resist."

"Couldn't resist?"

"It's fascinating stuff, Adam. I wish," he sighed. "I wish I could 
tell you all of it, but I can't. Not yet, anyway."


"Only some of it, now that you're in. But the best stuff... The best 
stuff comes later. Believe me!"

"Really?" Methos murmured, surprised at the heartfelt enthusiasm he 
was hearing. There was something more exciting to Daniel than proving 
his own bizarre theories correct? Now that was interesting.

"Even if it weren't classified I wouldn't tell you now, because you 
wouldn't believe me. Not without seeing. And because they want you to 
do the translations first. Without any outside input. The way I did, 
so they know the work won't be influenced by it. But honestly, Adam," 
he sighed. "It's worth it! All the frustration... All the 
disappointment... Just, trust me on this. When you're done, you'll get 
it. All of it."

Methos nodded thoughtfully, very much intrigued against his better 
judgment. At least, he thought as Daniel sent him to fetch a beer for 
himself and a couple of aspirin to ease his injuries, he'd be doing 
something which appealed to him -- and that too was something of a 


Great Gods! Methos silently exclaimed as they pulled up to the 
entrance of the SGC. It's a bloody bunker! What the hell were these 
people working on? "So what does SGC stand for?" Methos asked his 
driver, staring numbly at what would likely be his home for at least 
the next year.

"That's classified, sir."

"Of course it is." Silly me, he thought sarcastically, wanting to know 
the name of the place where I'm expected to live.

Without a word the driver collected Methos' luggage and led him past a 
pair of heavily armed guards, into a large reception area where more 
soldiers were stationed. His things were taken to be X-rayed and 
carefully searched, just as he was. As his fingertips and retinas were 
being scanned it suddenly hit home to Methos that these people were 
deadly serious. Whatever they were hiding in this mountain was 
considered paramount to this nation's security. And if such were truly 
the case, he wanted desperately to know what it was. He hadn't 
survived 5,000 years by playing ostrich, not about the things that 
really mattered. 

They were just finishing their examination of the last of his luggage 
when the elevator opened and a man in green fatigues wearing colonel's 
leaves on his collar stepped out looking bored and resigned. This, 
Methos thought, must be Daniel's Colonel O'Neill -- the bane of his 
existence and apparently, a minor god.

O'Neill opened his mouth to greet his guest then his eyes caught sight 
of Methos' sword case lying open as they searched it and he turned 

"Hello, gorgeous! Come to papa!" O'Neill's hands strayed toward the 
object of his very obvious desire and Methos cleared his throat. The 
colonel looked up, looking like a kid caught with his hand in a cookie 
jar. "Dr. Pierson?" he asked, holding out that same hand while trying 
to regain something of the professional expression he'd originally 
worn. "I'm Jack O'Neill."

"Colonel," Methos greeted him, shaking hands.

"I take it this little lady is yours," he nodded toward the case which 
the guard had closed and placed with the rest of Methos' belongings.

"Yes, she is," he grinned, enjoying the look of surprise on the 
colonel's face. "I have an extensive collection at home, but she's an 
old friend so I thought I'd bring her along." It was obvious from the 
colonel's expression that he'd never met a 'geek' with a passion for 
arms and armor. "I hope it's all right."

"Hell, yeah!" O'Neill looked fondly at the soldiers guarding the 
reception area. "We like knives here, don't we, kids?"


Methos chuckled softly and grabbed his bags which consisted of a 
neatly packed duffel, a medium sized carry-all and his sword case.

"What, no suitcases filled with books?" O'Neill asked, leading him 
into the elevator.

"I'm sure Daniel brought enough for both of us."

"I'll say," O'Neill muttered as he pressed a button and sent the 
elevator downward, then cast his eyes longingly at the case. "So, 
where'd you find her? That's an Ivanhoe right? 12th century if I'm not 

Methos nodded, impressed. "A weapons dealer in London," he stated 
simply. Of course, the weapons dealer had also been the same master 
smith who'd forged him a fine set of chain mail as well, but O'Neill 
didn't need to know these things.

"Practice much, or is it just for show?"

"As often as I'm able," Methos admitted. "Though it's hard to find 
decent sparring partners nowadays."

O'Neill gently shook his head and rubbed the crease between his eyes. 
"Are you sure you're Adam Pierson?"

"What? Not bookish enough?" Methos asked, a smile playing at his lips.

"Does the word 'mild' ring a bell?"

Methos laughed softly. "I know I'm not Daniel, but if you like, I can 
accidentally drop a few of your favorite, most breakable possessions 
on occasion," he offered helpfully.

O'Neill looked thoughtful for a moment then shook his head sadly as 
the elevator opened at their floor. "Nah. It's no fun if it isn't 
spontaneous. But thanks anyway."

They stepped out and Methos glanced around at the bland concrete 
walls. "Nice bunker. Love what you've done with the place. Who's your 

"Converted missile silo," O'Neill corrected. "And it was a unique 

Charming, Methos thought. Not a bomb shelter, but a shelter for a 
bomb. He followed silently as the colonel led him to his new quarters, 
where he stowed his gear.

"That all you brought?" O'Neill asked curiously.

Methos nodded. "I like to travel light."

"Not much shopping out this way," the colonel responded. "But you can 
requisition anything you need. Just ask... Well, ask anyone in 
uniform. Except the general," he qualified. "Don't ask him. Not that 
he doesn't know how to requisition supplies. I'm sure he does. But..."

Methos grinned as O'Neill dug himself further into a hole. "Wouldn't 
you like to show me where I'll be working?"

"Yes!" O'Neill exclaimed gratefully. "I would love to show you the 
laboratory, and the library, and... Hell, I'll even show you the mess 
hall and the rec room. Come on, Pierson, what'd'ya say? You pumped for 
this? I'm pumped!"

Laughing softly as he followed the other man out, Methos had to admit 
that he was rather impressed with Jack O'Neill. Despite the fact that 
he was obviously a fine and dedicated soldier, he also had the wit not 
to take himself too seriously. Given whatever was taking place here 
that was probably a good thing. A very good thing, indeed.


Methos smiled as he surveyed his new domain. Actually, it was Daniel's 
office, but according to O'Neill, Daniel wasn't in it most of the 
time. That seemed odd, but then there seemed to be a number of 
oddities about this base that he couldn't seem to put his finger on. 
First and foremost was the attitude of the SGC's denizens. Upbeat, for 
the most part, best described it. And if memory served, duty like this 
should have been particularly onerous to those assigned. Yet, there 
seemed to be an air of purposefulness mixed with the kind of tension 
he'd only seen during wartime. Of course, that might have something to 
do with whatever was going on several floors below inside the 
restricted levels to which he did not have access.

Another oddity was the medical center, where much to his relief he'd 
been given a very cursory exam. Every possible piece of medical 
equipment and a few whose purpose he could only guess at had been 
crammed into the area. Not to mention the dozens of folding beds he'd 
seen neatly stacked in a side corridor. Almost as if they were 
preparing for a siege. Or under siege, he mused thoughtfully as he 
stepped over to the desk and took a seat.

There was a sharp knock and Methos looked up to see a very pretty 
blond wearing combat pants and a tee shirt standing in the door. 
Behind her came a tall, muscular black man, similarly dressed but 
sporting a drab green bandanna around his bald pate, pushing a 
handcart loaded with black bomb proof cases into the room. He rose to 
greet them.

"Hi, I'm Samantha Carter," the blond greeted him a little breathlessly 
as she lifted one of the cases. "And this is Teal'c. "

"Adam Pierson," Methos responded as he moved to help her. "Damn that's 
heavy," he said as the weight of the case unexpectedly strained 
against his muscles. "What have you got in these things? Gold 

Samantha grinned. "Close enough. Your tablets." She glanced at Teal'c, 
who nodded once and began unloading the contents of the cart alongside 
the far wall.

Methos' brows went up. "They aren't gold," he told her bluntly. "If 
they were, I could have read them off the photos."

"No, they're not," she agreed. "What they are is classified."

Methos said nothing, laying the case he was still holding on the work 
table in the center of the room. He opened it slowly, staring down at 
the dull metal.

"They're not radioactive or anything, I hope?" he asked facetiously. 
It might not kill him, but he didn't really want to find out the hard 
way. And certainly not in front of the troops.

"No, not radioactive -- or anything," Samantha answered with a grin as 
she went to assist her companion.

He reached out and ran his fingers along the incised letters on the 
obverse, jumping back with a terrified start and clutching his fist as 
a tiny spark of his Quickening was pulled from his hand and fed back 
into him tenfold.

"Something wrong?" she asked, obviously surprised by his reaction.

Methos stared at the tablet and shook his head. "Just a bit of static 
from the carpet," he murmured absently, rubbing his fingers together. 
Whatever this stuff was it made him feel as if he'd taken a minor jolt 
of energy. Just enough to make his Quickening thrum with the hint of 
power that was waiting. Incredible! 

Samantha stared at him oddly and Methos savagely controlled his sudden 
urge to grasp the tablet. Instead, he swallowed hard and went to look 
through Daniel's supplies. After a little searching he found what he 
needed, snapping on a pair of latex gloves to insulate his hands. As 
he went about preparing, digging out book stands to prop the tablets 
up he glanced at Carter.

"Are these all the tablets?" he asked.

"Actually, there are two hundred and thirty-seven in varying sizes."

Methos nodded, already planning his strategy. "I'll need more room 

"We're preparing an office and work space for you now. It would have 
been ready, but we had a little emergency earlier."

"Any time within the next day or so will be fine, thank you," he 
responded with a brief smile. "Is there a report on the order in which 
the tablets were found?"

"I'll have it sent up," she offered. "This was the first batch we 
brought out, and if you'll note," she pointed to the case on the 
table. "They're labeled and coded."

Methos looked to the case. "P4X37-001," he read softly. "Very good. 
I'll mark the stands." 

Mentally dismissing her, he removed the tablet from its silk lined 
case without incident, propped it up then went to get a blank note 
book from the stack beneath Daniel's desk and proceeded to get to 
work. It was a long time later when he finally looked up and with a 
touch of amazement at his own poor manners, realized he hadn't even 
thanked them. Oh well, he supposed with a mental shrug as he discarded 
the thought, they must be used to it by now with Daniel around and 
contentedly went back to work.


"Jacob!" General Hammond called as his old friend stepped through the 
Stargate followed by another less welcome yet familiar face. "Anise," 
he greeted the female Tok'ra coolly.

"George," Jacob Carter smiled as they shook hands. "Where's Sam and 
the rest of SG-1?"

"Semi-annual physicals," he explained briefly as he led the way to the 
conference room. "They'll be joining us shortly. Why? Your message 
didn't sound urgent. Was it?"

Jacob looked to the woman, who spoke in the reverberating tones of her 
symbiot. "It is not urgent," Anise admitted. "But the high council of 
the Tok'ra finds this discovery of yours to be of great interest."

"Of great interest?" the general asked, taking a seat at the 
conference table.

"Yes. These tablets you have discovered seem to relate to a myth among 
our people of a great leader, one of the Ancients, who was also 
blended, and somehow became a weapon against the Goa'uld."

"He himself became a weapon?" the general asked, confused.

"So the myth claims," Anise agreed. "I was sent to assist Dr. Jackson 
in translating the tablets. It was felt that while there may be no 
practical application for the information, nonetheless it should be 
properly documented."

"I'm afraid that won't be possible," the general explained. "Dr. 
Jackson isn't working on the project and the expert we've hired 
doesn't have the security clearance to even know about the gate much 
less what's on the other side."

"George," Jacob interrupted quietly. "God knows I understand about 
security. But there's more to this than just our interest in an 
ancient myth. Do you know how the Tok'ra began their fight against the 

The general shook his head. "As you know, the Tok'ra haven't been very 
forthcoming with that kind of information."

Jacob sighed and nodded in understanding. "The tale dates back to even 
before Selmak was born. Around the time of the uprising against Ra and 
his forces on Earth. For some reason the genetic memory of the Tok'ra 
is incomplete on the subject, but what they do recall is fascinating. 
One of the Ancients befriended a blended one and when his host lay 
dying and there was no other with which to blend, the Ancient chose to 
blend himself rather than see his friend die. Now, this is important, 
because the legends state that the Ancients could not be blended. That 
their bodies somehow rejected and destroyed the Goa'uld parasite. How 
he did it is lost, but once blended he and his symbiot took the name 
Tok'ra and began to organize a grass roots resistance. On Earth and 
around the galaxy. Until that point the alliance against the Goa'uld 
had struck only at obvious threats to their own security. But he took 
the fight a step further. Made it personal. 

"Now," Jacob nodded. "I know that the past is not germane to the 
current hostilities. Heck, no one's seen or heard from the Ancients in 
at least ten millennia. But the Tok'ra have recently suffered some 
serious losses and the council felt that knowing more about their past 
might help to re-enthuse some of our younger members who are feeling 
somewhat demoralized at the moment. And, of course, it might also give 
us a clue as to where the Ancients have gone. It couldn't hurt to be 
able to ask them for help."

The general nodded thoughtfully. He certainly understood the 
importance of high moral amongst soldiers during wartime, though given 
that the Asgard had yet to uphold their end of the bargain in 
assisting Earth in her fight against the Goa'uld threat, he was not 
hopeful the Ancients would be of any more help.

"I'll tell you what," he finally offered. "You can meet with Dr. 
Pierson, but only as your hosts. Talk with him, see how he's doing on 
the translations -- he's been providing us with daily reports, but I'm 
not really qualified to judge his progress. If you think he's working 
fast enough to suit your needs then we'll leave things as they are. If 
not, I'll reconsider your request."

Jacob nodded though Anise seemed ready to argue the point. He silenced 
her with a look and she settled back in her chair. "Agreed," she 

"Good. Now, you'll want to change out of those clothes before you go 

Jacob grinned. "Selmak says green isn't really my color, but she'll go 
along with the need for secrecy."

George smiled. "She should have seen us back in 'Nam."

Jacob's eyes glowed as Selmak suddenly spoke. "I have his memories of 
that," she smirked. "Pink lace? You rogue, you!"


Methos tapped a pencil against his teeth staring thoughtfully at the 
tablet in front of him. The story thus far seemed to relate how this 
fellow Tok'ra, who had once been two individuals before something 
referred to as the "joining" went out among the star peoples -- 
whoever they were -- arousing them to the frenzy of battle against 
their common enemy, the infamous Go-ah-uld. An interesting tale, 
though he didn't believe a word of it. It was likely a metamorphic 
retelling of a natural event by some priest soliciting funds for a new 
temple or grandiose statue.

Of course, now came the inevitable listing of the places Tok'ra had 
visited, the people he'd spoken with and the adventures he'd had along 
the way. The problem was, after each of these place names came a 
series of seven symbols which bore no resemblance to any of the 
characters he'd worked with thus far.

There was a knock at the door and Methos sighed at the interruption. 
Still, he admitted, he could use a break. A week of solid translations 
with little to do besides eat and sleep had made him a very dull 
Immortal. Stretching his shoulders, he stood and turned, surprised to 
see his high ranking visitors.

"Dr. Pierson," a heavy-set man with kindly eyes strode forward, 
confidently offering his hand. "I'm General Hammond. This is General 
Carter and Dr. Anise. I apologize for the--"

"Methos?" Carter interrupted, eyes wide and staring in obvious 

The Immortal in question went very still. "I beg your pardon?"

"You are Methos," the man insisted. "Selmak has an image of you in her 
mind. The hair was longer, but it is you."

Methos shook his head, fighting for calm. "I'm afraid you're mistaken, 
General. I'm sure we've never met, and I don't recall ever meeting 
anyone named Selmak."

"You wouldn't. It was before her time."

"Jacob," Hammond interrupted. "I think you must be confused. This is 
Dr. Pierson, our translator."

"There is no mistake," Anise intoned, ignoring the general's previous 
orders as her symbiot took control. "He is the Immortal Methos, who 
stood with Tok'ra at the battle of Annu'tak'ra. Hail to thee, honored 
warrior," she bowed.

Methos felt the blood drain from his face at the sound of her voice. 
The reverberation seemed to chill him to his very bones. "Look, I 
don't know you and I don't know what you're trying to pull, but I'm 
Adam Pierson, linguist. Not anyone's honored warrior."

Now Selmak spoke as Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter and Teal'c quietly 
entered the work room.

"Why do you deny it, honored one? We can see for ourselves the aura of 
your ancient Quickening."

Methos shook his head. He didn't know what was going on, or how they 
knew what they knew, but he'd had quite enough of being the military's 
little science experiment. He'd take his chances on the outside and to 
hell with the Immortal hordes, they'd just have to fend for 

"If you'll excuse me, General," he said in his most insulted tone. "I 
think I'll be leaving now." He'd moved past the two men and was 
heading toward the door when the woman, Anise, came up beside him.

"This is no time for games, old one," she told him as he felt a sharp 
pain in the center of his chest and looked down to see a pair of 
scissors sticking out from between his ribs. Oh, fuck.

"Bitch!" Methos hissed as he sensed himself falling. There was a long 
moment filled with shouting voices and he felt the scissors wrenched 
from his ribs. Then the room around him went dark and the voices 
dulled as he felt the life flowing out of him.


"It's all right, George!" Jacob insisted.

"It is not all right! The man is dead! Colonel arrest that woman."

"With pleasure," O'Neill snarled as he and Teal'c none too gently 
grabbed hold of Anise by the arms, forcing her to drop the bloody 

"He's not dead, George," Jacob said calmly. "At least, not 

"Dad," Samantha interjected softly as she knelt by the body feeling 
for a pulse. "He's gone, Dad. She pierced his heart."

"No, he isn't," Jacob repeated. "Just wait."

"Jacob," Hammond said, putting every ounce of patience he owned into 
that one word. "I'd like to believe you. But I know a dead man when I 
see one. And so do you."

"George, remember when I first became blended? I told you there were 
things about Earth's history I'd discovered. Things that would amaze 
you. Well, this is one of them. I never said anything because the 
Tok'ra assumed they no longer existed. Methos-- Dr. Pierson," he 
corrected for their benefit. "Is what the Tok'ra refer to as an 
Immortal. A race of beings who cannot die unless you severe their 

"He looks pretty dead to me," Jack interrupted. "Damn. And I kinda 
liked the guy."

"It's only temporary. Immortals regenerate. Look at his chest, Sam."

She did as he asked, pulling aside the dead man's shirt. "There seems 
to be a small energy field around the--"

The body jerked and a loud, rasping gasp came from the mouth as empty 
lungs suddenly filled with air. 

"--wound," Samantha finished as she fell back in astonishment.

Methos' eyes snapped open and he hurriedly glanced around, rolling 
away from Major Carter and into a crouch. He caught sight of Anise and 
suddenly saw red, abruptly launching himself at her. The force of his 
fist impacting with her face sounded through the room, along with the 
crack of her breaking jaw.

"Oops," Jack said with no remorse as he and Teal'c let her unconscious 
body fall hard to the floor. "Sorry, sir. Didn't see that coming."

"See what coming?" The general smirked. "I didn't see anything. Did 
you, Major Carter?"

"I didn't see anything," she answered calmly, getting to her feet and 
wiping her blood stained hands on her pants.

"I also saw nothing," Teal'c added.

Methos looked around seeing both understanding and curiosity in their 
eyes. Yet it made no difference. "Sorry for the mess," he told them. 
"Now, if you'll excuse me, as I said, I'll be going."

Jack stepped in front of him. "Whoa. Hold on, Pierson-- Methos-- 
Whatever your name is. It's not that easy to just walk out of a high 
security installation."

He moved back a pace and straightened, throwing off any remaining 
vestige of his Adam Pierson persona. "Am I to understand I'm a 
prisoner here?" he asked coldly.

"Of course not. He isn't, is he, General?" Jack asked hopefully.

"No," Hammond confirmed. "You're not a prisoner. But we would like to 
ask you a few questions."

"I've had enough of questions," Methos told them angrily. "And enough 
of being made sport of. If I'm not a prisoner then I insist you allow 
me to depart."

"Now, son," the general came forward and gently laid a hand on his 
shoulder. "I can see you're upset. You had a secret and one I'll bet 
that probably doesn't go over very well with the general populace. But 
we like to think we're different here. That people are people no 
matter what they look like or where they come from. Why don't you go 
back to your quarters, take some time to think things through and 
we'll talk again in the morning. I promise no harm will come to you 
while you're with us. You have my word on that as an officer."

"Pretty words," Methos sneered, shrugging off the hand that sought to 
comfort. "But I think not. I've already had a taste of your 
hospitality in that regard."

"He does not lie," Teal'c suddenly stepped forward. "On that you have 
my word as a warrior."

"And mine," Jack echoed.

Samantha raised a hand. "Me three," she smiled.

He looked at them, sensing that they at least believed what they were 
saying. "Till morning then, but on one condition," Methos said as he 
heard Anise begin to stir. "That I never lay eyes on that bitch again. 
Or I swear," he growled, daring anyone to challenge him. "It will be a 
life for a life and she won't be getting up again."

"Works for me," Jack grinned. "Everybody?" The rest of SG-1 nodded. 
They had good reason to dislike Anise, given that she'd risked their 
lives and thought nothing of it simply because the Tok'ra required the 

"Agreed," the general nodded. "Jacob?"

Carter shrugged. "We have no problem with that," he responded, moving 
to help the scientist to her feet. She clutched her bloody face, tears 
streaming down her cheeks from the pain. "Let's go," he pulled her 
none too gently toward the door, ignoring her inarticulate cry of 
agony. "I'll take you home. After all, I wouldn't want to leave you to 
the primitive care you might be subjected to here. It may take a while 
though," he grinned widely at Methos. "I seem to have misplaced the 

 Anise whimpered pitifully as she was dragged from the room.

"Couldn't happen to a nicer girl," Jack quipped unrepentantly. "Come 
on...Methos?" The Immortal gave a curt nod. "We'll see you safely to 
your quarters."

Despite the fact that he could have easily found his own way there, 
Methos tacitly accepted the colonel's offer. It was, after all, meant 
as a gesture of hospitality.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Jack asked as they moved toward the 

"Just peachy," he muttered, plucking at his blood soaked shirt.

"So it's true what my father said? You can only be killed by 

Methos flinched. He hadn't heard that part of the conversation. "We 
don't like the D word, Major."

She gave him an embarrassed smiled. "Sorry."

The elevator came and he got on with the others, feeling surrounded by 
a flock of over protective mother hens by the time they reached his 
room. They were being incredibly solicitous. First O'Neill saying that 
he'd requisition a new shirt to replace the one Anise had ruined. 
Teal'c, seeing his sword in its display rack on the wall and offering 
to spar with him when he felt better. Then Major Carter running off to 
fetch him some fruit juice, because even though he was Immortal, he 
must still be feeling dehydrated from the loss of fluids, while Jack 
called after her that soup was better and to bring some of that too.

Once she was gone Methos stripped off his shirt, much bemused by his 
audience. The last few minutes had gone a long way toward easing his 
mind as far as his safety with this lot was concerned. He still didn't 
know what was going on here, but he was sure he'd have his answers in 
the morning. Then, he'd either stay or go. Most likely go, he thought 
as he went into his private bath to shower and change. After all, 
tacit acceptance or not, he had his future to think of about. And it 
didn't include another stint in the military, especially when there 
wasn't a war on. He'd only served in the last two because they'd 
virtually exploded around him before he could get out. And they were 
big enough, and nasty enough in his opinion to merit his attention. 
World domination by dictatorial forces had never sounded like a good 
idea. A free and open society was a much healthier place for an 
Immortal. At least, he'd thought so until a few weeks ago.

When he exited the bath he found O'Neill sitting on the chair by his 
desk playing flip the dagger with one of the other pieces he'd brought 
for show. The colonel looked up and set it aside, pointing to a tray 
on his desk.

"Sam left that for you."

Methos took the tray over to his bed and sat down with it. His body 
could rebuild its blood volume without liquid fuel, but the juice and 
the soup would help to at least alleviate his thirst. "Where's your 
big friend, Teal'c?"

Jack looked toward the door. "He's sworn on his oath as a warrior to 
stand guard. He's out there now, feeling proud and useful."

"And so he should," Methos grinned delightedly. A rare honor indeed, 
he thought, in these modern times. "I shall have to thank him for 

O'Neill nodded. "Listen, uh, Methos?" Jack swallowed uncomfortably. 
"Do you mind if I still call you Pierson?"

Methos smiled. "Actually, I'd prefer it. Adam's fine too."

"Adam then. Look, I just want you to know that we don't condone what 
Anise did. In fact, we don't much like her around here. And we 
certainly don't approve of committing murder just to 
make a point. So, I can pretty much guarantee that unless there's some 
extreme circumstance which requires her presence she won't be back. 
And also that she won't ever be allowed in the same room with you."

Methos nodded and sipped the juice. "That's good to know. And I'm sure 
one day," he grinned nastily, "she'll come to appreciate that fact."

Jack matched him grin for grin, then he took a deep breath and went 
on. "Another thing, Adam. I don't know what you think of us here, but 
I'd also like to reassure you that in spite of what the public thinks, 
the military in general is not interested in experimenting on 

Methos very obviously flinched and Jack paused, the expression on his 
face changing to one of deep concern. "What happened?"

Methos shook his head. "It's nothing."

"It's not nothing," O'Neill insisted, leaning forward with his hands 
loosely clasped between his thighs. "Whatever happened I need to know. 
Was it our guys?"

Methos gave an abrupt nod and pushed the tray aside. "Look, it's not 
important. I'll be leaving in the morning anyway."

"It is important," he insisted. "And as one soldier to another I'll 
tell you that it happened to me. Not our guys, and probably not what 
you went through, but torture is torture in my book. Now I need to 
know what happened, when it happened and if you know who it was. 
Because, god damn it, Pierson! If our people are pulling shit like 
that I want it stopped!"

"And it doesn't matter that I'm not like you?" he asked, staring 
fixedly at his hands. 

"No, it doesn't matter to me that you're different. I wouldn't let 
Research and Development take Teal'c and I won't let them have you."

Methos glanced up in surprise. "Teal'c?"

"Long story," Jack waved a hand. "You'll hear it the morning. Now 

Methos moved back on the bed, wrapping his arms around his chest as he 
drew up his knees. He liked this mortal and he knew in his heart that 
he could trust him, like he'd known he could trust MacLeod. Maybe, he 
thought, no matter what his decision a few hours from now, if he did 
tell O'Neill and it was possible to stop them, perhaps he wouldn't 
have to run. And since he very much liked his life at the moment the 
thought of leaving it all behind for a century or two was not a happy 
one. Finally, he closed his eyes and nodded.

"All right," he began quietly. "I never saw their faces, but it was 
just after I arrived at the fort..."


The door Teal'c was guarding suddenly opened and a red faced, furious 
Jack O'Neill stepped out. "No one but me, you, Sam and the general 
goes in or out of this room until further notice, got that?"

"Is something wrong, O'Neill?"

"Oh yeah," he muttered angrily as he stalked down the hall. "But not 
for long."

A few minutes later he was knocking on the door to Hammond's office. 
"General," he said as he opened the door. "We need to talk. Someone 
got hold of Pierson at the fort."

Hammond put aside the file he was reviewing. "I know," he nodded 
toward the file. "I had someone pull up everything we had on him. It 
all seems in order until you get to this."

O'Neill took the folder and glanced at it. "The doctors involved filed 
a medical report?" he asked, surprised.

Hammond nodded. "I don't believe they were in on it. The attending 
thought three physicians to confirm each other's findings was a little 
excessive, despite the fact that they were just following orders, so 
he filed a formal report. I'm having the matter looked into right 
now," he added, getting to his feet and putting on his jacket. "The 
full report should be on my desk by morning. Now, if you'll excuse me, 
I have an errand to run."

O'Neill smiled. "Very good, sir."

"Oh, and Jack?" The general paused at the door. "Keep an eye on 
Pierson, will you? Immortal or not, no one deserves that."

"At least no one we like."

Hammond only sighed. "Good night, Colonel."

"See you at the execution," he murmured, sauntering out of the office. 
Because for six soon to be miserable junior officers there would be 
one come morning -- of sorts. Of that he had no doubt. And he was 
going to be there to enjoy every minute of it, watching them see their 
budding careers go right down the toilet.


It was nearly 3 a.m. when the general's jet landed at the NATO base 
just outside of Paris. There was a car waiting for him and he gave the 
driver the address. Not long after they pulled up outside the building 
which housed Le Blues Bar and Hammond got out, telling the driver to 
come back in an hour. He walked through the door and smiled to himself 
as he saw an old, but familiar face, straightening up behind the bar.

"We're closed, buddy."

"Not even a beer for an old friend?" the general called as he moved 
into the light closer to the bar.

Dawson looked up, staring hard at the face and the uniform. "George? 
George Hammond?!" he finally grinned. "Well I'll be damned. Look at 
you! Major General, huh?"

"So they keep telling me."

"Well I'll be. I haven't seen you since Saigon. Pull up a stool," he 
said, drawing the man his best draft. "Just get into town?"

"Actually, Joe," Hammond told him, taking a sip of his drink and 
nodding in appreciation. "I came to see you about a mutual friend of 
ours. Adam Pierson."

Joe nodded disinterestedly. "You know, Adam, huh?"

"He works for us."

"Adam?" Joe laid his hands on the bar, looking as though he were going 
to fall down. "Adam Pierson? Mild-mannered researcher? Working for 
you? For the military? Sorry, George, but you must have the wrong 

"No, we have the right guy. And don't you mean mild-mannered 
researcher who also happens to be an Immortal named Methos?"

Dawson found his cane, a bottle of rye and a shot glass then staggered 
over to the nearest chair. Hammond followed, sorry he didn't have time 
for the niceties with his old friend.

"I won't confirm that," Joe said quietly.

"You don't have to. I saw him die and get up again not five minutes 
later. And I also know about the Watchers. Not exactly why you watch 
these Immortals, but that you do."

Dawson swallowed hard and poured himself a shot. "What do you plan to 
do with this information?"

"Do with it?" Hammond asked, surprised. "You mean about the existence 
of a race that can't die unless you cut off their heads? Nothing. What 
the hell would we do with it, Joe? They're not bothering us. This is 
the military, not television. We don't need people who don't want to 
work with us. You know the best soldiers are the ones willing to do 
the job and get it done right because that's what they get paid for."

"And Adam?"

"Pierson's another matter. We need his help at the moment, although we 
could probably manage without him. What I need from you is a better 
understanding of who and what he is. I need to know how best to 
approach him. Make him feel comfortable so that he'll stay of his own 
free will."

"What does he have to say about it?"

"Well, given the circumstances, and they're not good, he's more than a 
little upset, but he's agreed to give me until this morning to 
convince him."

Joe snorted. "Upset? I'll bet he's upset! Look, George, you don't know 
what we do? Okay, I'll tell you. We watch Immortals challenge each 
other in something they call the Game. It's a duel to the death 
between two Immortals for what is essentially the other's soul. It's 
called a Quickening. A power, or energy that makes them what they are. 
When one Immortal loses his head to another he also loses his 
Quickening, which is absorbed by the winner, and the older they get 
the more powerful their Quickening becomes. The ultimate goal of this 
game is for only one to remain. Only one, George. It's a case of the 
winner literally taking all. And Methos is old. Very old. His head's 
worth a lot. More than that, he's a friend. So, I'm not going to tell 
you anything that could get him killed."

Hammond nodded slowly. No wonder Pierson was terrified. Still, that 
didn't change things back at Stargate Command. "Joe, I can't tell you 
why we need Pierson, but it's important. Important to me, to you, to 
everyone who lives on this planet. And that includes Immortals. I can 
also promise you that I'll do everything in my power to protect him. 
No one is going to take his head on my watch."

Dawson sighed. "I know you mean well, George, and I believe you. But 
it's not me you have to convince. It ain't even Adam. It's Methos you 
have to sway. And that's a horse of an entirely different color. He's 
survived the Game longer than anyone."

"How long?"

"More than five thousand years."

"My sources say ten."

Joe nearly choked on his drink. "And he confirmed this?"

"He doesn't have to. I trust my sources."

Dawson shook his head in disgust. "I don't know what to tell you, 
George. However old he is, Methos only got there by being smarter and 
more dangerous in his own way than all the rest. You're playing with 
fire and if you keep him where he doesn't want to be you'll be holding 
a ticking bomb that I can guarantee will someday explode in your face. 
Be smart and play it safe. If he wants to go, just turn him loose. No 
questions asked."

Hammond nodded. "I hadn't planned on keeping him against his will, 
Joe. But I would like to appeal to what is obviously a very powerful 
sense of self-preservation."

"Then your reasons better be good. Methos doesn't have any loyalty to 
mortal causes. He can't afford it. But if you can convince him that 
it's in his own best interest to help you... Look, I don't know what 
you guys are up to that could affect the whole world, but hell, he is 
technically its oldest living inhabitant. If this is anyone's planet, 
Methos'd probably consider it his."


At precisely 0900 Jack O'Neill led Methos into General Hammond's 
office and quickly took up the guard before the flags. Methos steeled 
himself for the expected confrontation. They'd ramble on about duty 
and honor and he'd... 

You'll what? Methos chided himself. Tell them it's stuff and nonsense? 
Probably, he thought with a touch of sarcasm. After all, it worked to 
put MacLeod off the scent whenever he was being particularly trying.

"Good morning, Dr. Pierson," the general greeted him. "Please take a 

With a heavy heart, because they really were attempting to be kind to 
him, Methos did so. Still, no matter how he felt it just wasn't safe 
for him here any longer.

"I'm afraid," the general began politely. "That we left off rather 
abruptly yesterday."

That's putting it mildly, Methos thought.

"There were a number of things about the project I wished to discuss 
with you. As well as what I hope will be your continued relationship 
with us here at the SGC. And we'll get to that shortly. First," he 
handed Methos a half a dozen file folders. "I'd like you to look these 
over whenever you get the chance. No rush."

He briefly glanced at the folders, noting that they seemed to be 
personnel files. Why they were being given to him Methos hadn't a 
clue, but he nodded his acceptance and laid them across his lap.
Hammond didn't take his eyes off Methos as the door behind him opened 
and the Immortal heard the swish of cloth as several individuals 
silently entered the room. He stiffened imperceptibly, but didn't look 
around, keeping his attention focused on the general, who ignored the 

"Now, I have a bit of business to attend to," he went on barely 
glancing at the new arrivals. "You're welcome to remain where you are 
until it's done."

Methos gave a half shrug and finally looked around, not at all sure 
what was going on, but willing to sit and watch if that's what Hammond 

"Gentlemen," Hammond coldly addressed the six waiting officers who 
snapped to attention. Methos felt a shiver of tension rise in his 
spine as he recognized at least two of the officers. They had been the 
ones who approached him in Paris about the job. And, of course, he now 
understood the reason for the files Hammond had given him. Know thy 
enemy was as true now as it had been when the words were first spoken 
and Hammond obviously understood that.

"You are here to receive your new orders," the general began without 
preamble. "McMichaels and Breslow, for the next eighteen months you 
two are going to be manning our communications station in the Outer 

Methos dug his fingers into the arm of his chair to keep himself from 
laughing. The pair, as he recalled, had been the height of urbane good 
looks and breeding when he'd met with them. Slicked backed, 
expensively coifed hair, sun lamp tans and manicured nails. City boys 
to the core. Mummy and Dadums money and connections wouldn't be able 
to help them out on that empty, windswept rock. And unless they had a 
secret passion for sheep they'd get cold comfort and the cold shoulder 
from the villagers on the nearby islands. He ought to know, he'd been 
shipwrecked there for an entire godforsaken year.

"Delmar and Witowski, I know you'll be thrilled to learn you'll be 
joining our team at the Arctic Circle." The two very tan, very blond, 
and very buff beach boys seemed to wilt visibly. "Hadley and Frankel 
tell me it's wonderful there this time of year. A whole six hours of 
sunlight daily," the general smiled.

"Gustafson and Marlow." Two Nordic gods, who'd probably skied all the 
way to Colorado, blinked nervously. "There's a rain forest in the 
Amazon that needs a road, and gentlemen, you're going to build it."

"But sir!" Gustafson protested, the others briefly joining in.

"Gentlemen!" Hammond's tone demanded silence and he got it. "You have 
no reason to object to these assignments. I am being most generous 
with you. These," he slapped his hand on a file lying on his desk, 
"are court martial offenses and the result if brought to trial would 
surely be prison time. You are all, albeit marginally, " he glared at 
them dangerously. "Guilty of treason. You were not given orders to 
conduct this unacceptable investigation of civilian personnel. Or," he 
rumbled ominously. "You knowingly accepted orders from someone not in 
a position to legally give them. And if that is the case, gentlemen, 
then you'd best be grateful that I'm the one in charge, because 
whoever gave you those orders will be none too pleased with you for 
getting caught." The six paled visibly. "Now you all, of course, have 
a choice. Report immediately for duty to your new assignments, or you 
will, I assure you, be going to prison."

Hammond nodded once as they remained silent.

"Now, on a personal note. Before I dismiss you, let me just say for 
the record that this is the STUPIDEST thing I have ever heard of! Does 
this man," he gestured at Methos, "look 800 years old to you? He 
barely looks the 28 years he claims on his birth certificate! And 
frankly, I think he's fudging it. We'll let it pass, son," Hammond 
told Methos' gently, ignoring the wicked gleam in the Immortal's eyes. 
"You're doing good work for us here."

"But, sir. He confessed!" Breslow insisted and his cohorts hissed at 
him to be quiet. Up until that point, Methos thought with an internal 
sigh of relief, no matter how much circumstantial evidence they had it 
was still just speculation. 

"He confessed?! Hell, I would have confessed to being Mickey Mouse if 
you were asking me these questions! You're just lucky Dr. Pierson is a 
historian, or this could have turned into a tragedy rather than a 
shameful travesty of justice. He spun you a fairy tale he knew you 
were just dumb enough to buy and no doubt saved his life in the 
process. A man who's lived 800 years pretends to be an academic? Don't 
you think he'd be a captain of industry by now? Rich and powerful 
beyond anyone's wildest imaginings? And you found him hiding in a 
library. I think not, gentlemen."

"But, sir, he doesn't exist. We traced the records, sir," Breslow 
offered lamely.

"In the 1960's half this country's population didn't exist at some 
point, Lieutenant. Damn computers! I spent a whole year stuck in Omaha 
until the Air Force finally found me. And I was only supposed to 
report there for two weeks of training!" Hammond shook his head and 
slapped a hand on his desk making the six officers jump. "The sheer, 
utter stupidity of your actions is almost surpassed by your 
unadulterated gall! How dare you try to justify yourselves to me! Now 
get the hell out of my office! Dismissed!"

As the door closed behind them Methos sat back and loosed his strangle 
hold on the chair arms. "But I was hiding in a library," he pointed 
out, bemused by the general's final comments.

"Of course you were, son," Hammond agreed. "And if I could live 
forever I wouldn't be a captain of industry either. But those young 
fools think power and money are the best that life has to offer. And 
they couldn't possibly understand how no one else couldn't want it."

Methos smiled. "True," he agreed. "Maybe now they'll begin to doubt 
their own findings. And for that I thank you. But what about their 

Behind them O'Neill snorted. "If they ever read that report they'll be 
so embarrassed and so completely grateful to have those morons out of 
their hair, they'll burn that file and be glad no one else discovered 

"At ease, Colonel," the general ordered and Jack moved to sit on the 
edge of his desk. "And he's right, son. No one in their right mind 
would give credence to that report. I wouldn't have believed it if I 
hadn't seen the proof with my own eyes. And frankly, I'm still having 
a hard time with it."

"I don't know, sir," Jack drawled. "It's kinda nice having a real live 
hero of the revolution sitting in the same room with us."

Methos rolled his eyes. "My feet froze, my patients died and the only 
time I picked up a gun was to shoot for the pot."

"And they gave you a plaque for that?"

"I made the future mayor of Bedersville a beaver skin cap. It was the 
Forge. He was grateful."

"Valley Forge?" Hammond asked, his eyes going wide. "You were at 
Valley Forge with Washington?"

"And a few thousand other half frozen, half starved, pathetic 
bastards. If I'd had any place safe to desert to I would have. Beastly 
hell hole!"

Hammond sighed, trying not to laugh. Dawson had painted his picture of 
Methos rather accurately. A man who owed no allegiance to anyone and 
would rather run than fight if given the chance. It seemed at odds 
with the great warrior the Tok'ra remembered, but then who was he to 
judge? "Be that as it may, you're prominently conspicuous in the 
fresco with General Washington in the congressional rotunda."

Methos waved a hand in disregard, sprawling lasciviously in his chair. 
"I slept with the artist," he shrugged. "You should have seen his 

Jack choked on his shock.

"You know," Hammond said calmly. "Making yourself out to be a cad and 
a whore isn't going to change my mind. We still need your help, 
Methos. And besides," he smiled. "I was told you are not only a 
consummate actor, but a pathological liar."

"Who said that?!" Methos pulled himself up. "My lies are not 
pathological! They are, in fact, quite logical. 'Don't ask, don't 
tell', remember? Well I've told and now you'll just have to send me 

"Yeah," Jack grinned. "But since we've officially decided that you 
couldn't possibly be that guy in the fresco, you really didn't tell us 

"Semantics," Methos muttered, voicing his annoyance. "Oh, all right," 
he sighed disgustedly, resigning himself to an hour spent listening to 
the general's sales pitch. "You wished to speak with Methos, General 
Hammond." He sat up straight as his sword, all trace of the shallow 
fop gone from his attitude. "Well, you now have his complete 

The change in demeanor was extraordinary. "Now this guy I can believe 
is 28 -- maybe even 30," O'Neill quipped.

The general just shook his head. "We have some private matters to 
discuss, if you will excuse us, Colonel?"

O'Neill rose and headed for the door. "I'll be in the gate room, if 

you need me. SG-3 is due back in half an hour. Sir."

"Very good, Colonel."

Hammond turned to Methos as the door closed. "Well now, where to 
begin? I think the truth would be a good place to start, don't you?"

"Never hurts," Methos agreed cautiously.

"You and I have an old friend in common. Joe Dawson. I went to see him 
last night."

Methos searched the other man's face. Just how much of the truth about 
Immortals was this man aware of?

"He explained the reasons for your hesitancy about remaining with us. 
And while I can't say I like this Game or the end result which it 
implies, I understand that cultures vary and that what is an 
acceptable state of affairs to some is not to others. Fair enough?"

Methos nodded. "Fair enough."

"While you're with us, I could guarantee your safety from any such 
challenges. One, because unauthorized personnel wouldn't even get 
through the front door. And two, if they were authorized and managed 
to get in, they would not be getting out in anything other than a body 
bag. As I believe you've seen, the military takes a dim view of having 
its civilian personnel attacked or harassed by anyone. Lastly, the 
only members of the team who would be made privy to your special 
circumstances would be the ones you've already met and might of 
necessity be required to work with. Of course, the nature of these 
circumstances would be classified Top Secret. And I can tell you from 
personal experience they'd die before revealing it to anyone."

"What about Daniel?" Methos asked, anticipating what was likely to be 
a problematic relationship if the young historian knew he had 
unlimited access to living history. "I shouldn't like to be trapped in 
the same room with him and his notebook if he found out. I'm not very 
good at playing the 'what's the greatest invention in history' game. 
No one ever believes me when I say it's the toaster. Most perfect gift 
item ever created," he added smugly.

Hammond chuckled then smiled wryly. "I don't believe your Immortality 
is germane to his position on the team, but I'll leave that up to you. 
Right now, it's on a need to know basis and I don't see a need for him 
to know, do you?" 

Methos shook his head. "As things stand now, no I don't. What about 
Anise and General Carter?"

"Apparently, they were already aware of the existence of Immortals and 
given their location and affiliations, I highly doubt they would allow 
any harm to come to you. It was in fact Jacob who requested that I 
make this appeal to you once he realized who you were. And while I 
can't tell you any more than that for the moment, I hope what I have 
said will ease your fears in that regard."

Methos nodded thoughtfully. "I'm not sure exactly what that means for 
myself and other Immortals, but I'd be willing to wait and see."

"Good. Now, if I've allayed most of your concerns on that subject, I'd 
like to tell you our little secret. Because frankly, it's a doozy. And 
I'm hopeful that once you know you'll change your mind about working 
with us."

Methos said nothing, though he didn't doubt for a moment that what the 
general intended to do about his safety was the god's honest truth as 
far as Hammond was concerned. However, a secret interesting enough for 
him to knowingly involve himself in any government's national security 
had to be truly compelling and this he doubted utterly.

"I'm listening."

"Have you ever heard of an archaeologist by the name of Langford?" the 
general asked getting to his feet.

"Katherine Langford? She's not well known, and I'm not sure if she's 
still alive, but yes, I've heard of her."

"Actually, it was her father who discovered what you're about to see, 
though she was involved in the project during its early phases. If 
you'll please follow me."

Methos rose and listened, looking around curiously as the general led 
him through a series of corridors. This was the restricted area of the 
facility he'd never seen.

"In 1928," the general told him, "Dr. Langford made a startling 
discovery on the Giza Plateau." He opened the door to what looked like 
an operations center and ushered Methos in. "He found this."

Methos stared down through the gallery windows. A huge circular object 
with a ramp leading up to its center dominated the virtually empty 
room below.

"What is it?" he asked, craning for a better look at what seemed to be 
writing on its heavily carved face.

"That's what we wanted to know. It isn't made of any material found on 

Methos shot him a surprised glance then turned back to stare at the 

"On and off over the last fifty years the military tried to figure it 
out. Then, several years ago, Katherine Langford brought Daniel 
Jackson on board to help decipher the inscription on the cover stones 
found buried with the device. His breakthrough allowed us to do more 
than just turn it on."

Methos looked back at the general. "So what does it do?"

"It's a gateway, son. A Stargate to other worlds."

Methos laughed. "That's a good one, but what does it really do?"

"Colonel?" the general asked.

"Any minute..." O'Neill looked at his watch, ""

The blare of warning klaxons suddenly filled the base and a half a 
dozen battle ready soldiers raced into the gate room.

"Picking up SG-3's transmission signal, sir," one of the technicians 

"Open the iris," the general ordered. "We generally keep it closed," 
he told Methos, who was watching the object with a bemused expression 
as its hollow center was revealed and its outer tier began to rotate. 
"We've had a few problems with unwelcome guests from time to time."

"That's a bit of an understatement," O'Neill muttered.

"Really, General, you'll have to do better than this if..." Methos 
felt the room begin to vibrate and he looked back at the gate as its 
symbols began to glow. He leaned forward in attempt to read what 
appeared to be a variety of glyphs when the center of the object 
exploded outward in a brilliant ball of light. He leaped back, staring 
open mouthed as the device seemed to suck the maelstrom back into 
itself creating a smooth, yet weirdly undulating pool of light within 
the body of the ring, while a massive energy torque flowed out behind 
trailing off into nothing. Speechless, Methos watched as an instant 
later several soldiers, who hadn't been there before and couldn't have 
possibly come from anywhere else, stepped from the light and casually 
made their way down the ramp.

Distantly, Methos heard the general's voice over the loudspeaker 
informing SG-3 that they had a quarter of an hour until their 
debriefing. He felt a hand on his shoulder and found Hammond standing 
beside him. "I remember how I felt the first time I saw it," he said 
quietly as the light in the center of the gate suddenly winked out and 
the iris closed up tight. "Scared me half to death at the thought of 
what it might mean. The endless possibilities."

For a long moment Methos said nothing. There seemed to be no words to 
describe how he was feeling. He briefly thought about arguing, but why 
would Hammond lie about something so patently unbelievable? And if 
that was indeed the case which seemed far more likely, then, "And I 
thought the world was just starting to get interesting," Methos 
whispered breathlessly. "But this..." he shook his head and lapsed 
back into silence for a moment. "How does it work?" he finally asked.

"Major Carter can best answer that," the general responded. "And I'll 
leave you for the time being in SG-1's very capable hands. We'll talk 
again later and you can tell me your decision."

Methos started to say something, but the general shook his head. "No. 
There's more. Much more. Not all of it pleasant. And I want you to 
hear it all before you decide anything. Agreed?"

Methos nodded and turned to the major, who stood beside O'Neill 
waiting expectantly. 

"If you'll follow me, Dr. Pierson," she began, leading the way down to 
the gate room. What followed was a sometimes complicated but 
fascinating exposition on the creation of stable, localized and 
directed worm holes, while he wandered around the room studying the 
now dormant device from every angle. As to who built the thing she 
could only answer that the Stargate system was developed and scattered 
across the universe perhaps hundreds of thousands of years earlier by 
an alien race known only as the Ancients.

"Friends of yours?" O'Neill asked hopefully.

Methos grinned. "Hardly. I'm a mere babe in arms by comparison."

Samantha looked at him curiously. "But according to my dad you were at 
something called the Battle of Annu'tak'ra, led by an Ancient some ten 
thousand years ago."

With a shake of his head Methos told them the truth. "I wasn't born 
ten thousand years ago. More like five. And it's been so long I can 
barely remember much before the Bronze Age. I don't know where your 
father gets his information, but it couldn't possibly have been me."

O'Neill and Carter glanced at each other. 

"If you can't remember much," Jack asked. "How can you be certain just 
how old you are? Or if you were there or not?"

Methos gave them a wry smile. "Oh," he said glancing toward the 
Stargate. "I think I'd remember that."

"Maybe there's a reason you can't," Carter responded.

Methos shrugged. "Believe what you like, Major. As for my age, 
Colonel, I never said I was certain. We kept time differently then. 
First it was which stars one had been born under and their placement 
in the heavens at the moment of birth. Later we did it by the reigns 
of kings. But that only works for as long as a particular civilization 
remembers who was in power and for how long. Eventually my reference 
points disappeared. I couldn't give you an exact date if I wanted to. 
My best guess is 5,000 years give or take a few centuries."

O'Neill nodded thoughtfully as Samantha chewed her lip. "You know what 
stars you were born under?" she finally asked.

"I think I do," he admitted. "As I said, it has been a long time. 

"Well, if you knew what they were we could run a simulation until we 
came up with the right combination. Compensating for precession and 
spatial drift it would probably give us a date within ten or twenty 

"What difference would it make?" Methos smiled gently. "The past is 
gone and to me it is of very little importance."

"How can you say that? You're a historian!"

"For you, Major Carter. Not for me. The past is filled with wonderful 
things and the thoughts of men and women who should be remembered and 
whose work should be recalled. Human memory is so fragile and fraught 
with so many misconceptions that it sometimes requires a little aid 
along the way. If I can help save something of those lessons your 
forefathers learned through trial and error and pass it on to their 
children's children, does it not make the understanding of the present 
and the road to the future a less rocky path for us both?"

"It does," Samantha agreed quietly. "But if you are missing a huge 
chunk of memory then I think it would be safer for everyone concerned 
if we knew about it now."

"That's good, Carter," Jack suddenly interjected. "But first things 
first, birthday parties later. We still haven't mentioned the nosy 

"That would be the unpleasantness the general referred to?" Methos 
Jack smiled sourly and nodded. "Oh yeah. Let's go find Teal'c. I think 
it's time for round two of show and tell."


"Bourbon," Methos gasped, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. 
He could still taste the bile on the back of his throat as Jack opened 
the bottle and started pouring. 

"Say when."

At about three quarters full Methos held up a hand, "When," and 
grabbed the glass, gulping at least two shots before his shoulders 
sagged and he slumped in the chair beside O'Neill's bed. He glanced at 
Teal'c, who waited patiently for him to recover from his first shock 
of seeing the parasite he'd been forced to incubate for the so called 

"Sorry," he murmured, trying not to stare at the man's stomach. "So 
that...thing is a Goa'uld?"

"No offense was taken," Teal'c promised. "Yes, that is a Goa'uld in 
its immature state."

"Is it..." Methos shuddered, "...aware of us?"

"Good question," Samantha sighed as she moved to sit on the bed. 
"We're not entirely sure. We have good reason to believe it is at 
least partially able to access its racial memories. But is it aware of 
us as individuals outside of its Jaffa? We just don't know. Not even 
the Tok'ra are certain, but then they don't use human incubators like 
the Goa'uld and they don't take over their human hosts."

"In their case it's more like a time share deal," Jack supplied.

Methos shook his head. "And to think when I was young I worshipped 
such gods."

"You are not alone in that, Methos." Teal'c came and laid a hand on 
his shoulder. "On Chulak and on many other worlds the false gods still 
reign. It is here that the battle is being fought."

Methos reached up and gently squeezed the hand on his shoulder. With a 
frown he looked at the two officers. "Why don't you just get that 
thing out of him?!" he asked, suddenly very angry. 

"We would if we could," Jack told him softly. "Unfortunately, removing 
it will kill him."

"We've tried," Samantha added. "And hopefully, one day, we'll be able 
to. But for now..."

Methos nodded. "Of course you can't." He sighed and sipped his drink 
as Teal'c moved away. "I'm still not sure what to say about all this, 
except that it is certainly a horrible thing to do to anybody. But the 
truth is," he sighed sadly. "I'm a selfish bastard and it doesn't 
really concern me. I expect that if I live another five thousand years 
this too will have passed and been forgotten."

"Another 5,000 years?" Jack snorted. "You may not even get five. We're 
at war here! These people don't just want to come back and pick up 
where they left off, they want to annihilate the entire planet as an 
example to others."

"And sealing the Stargate won't help," Samantha added. "We tried that. 
When Jack and Daniel destroyed Ra they frightened the other Goa'uld 
into taking action against us. We had to get out there and find some 
way to defend ourselves. Granted, the exploration of other worlds is a 
wonderful tool for science, but our main goal, our real purpose, is to 
figure out how to fight them and win."

"And right now," Jack took up the cause. "We don't stand a hope in 
hell of defeating an entire fleet. Oh, we've managed to beat back a 
few of their mother ships through good luck and by the skin of our 
teeth. We even managed to negotiate a kind of treaty with the system 
lords. But eventually they'll be coming for us and whether you like it 
or not, Pierson, you and your Immortal buddies also live here."

"I can tell you now," Teal'c added. "That should you, or others like 
you, survive the initial onslaught, though all humans on this world 
were dead or enslaved, it would not go well for you. According to the 
Tok'ra you can neither be hosts nor Jaffa. As such, they would 
consider your kind far more of a threat than mere humans."

Methos exhaled slowly and finished his drink. "All right. I'm in."

"That's it?" Jack asked, puzzled by his sudden about face. "You're 

"What do you want me to say? For 5,000 years I've wandered this world 
thinking I was a man without a nation -- without a home. Not even a 
plot of land I could point to and say 'there I was born'. And now you 
tell me that my one surety is a lie. That the one place I thought to 
call my own, an entire world I once believed had an infinite number of 
hideaways to wait out the centuries in blessed peace, is really just a 
poorly defended fortress -- and one that offers no sanctuary at all. 
Like you," Methos explained, voice tight with emotion. "This is all 
I've got! Of course I'm bloody in!"


The clock on the night stand read 0230 and Methos sighed, turning over 
to try and get at least a few hours of sleep. At 0300 he finally gave 
up and threw off the covers to sit on the edge of his bed.

"I must be completely insane," he muttered disgustedly. 

Still, this wasn't simply a matter of conscience, or even, god save 
him from all MacLeods, loyalty, friendship and honor. This was truly a 
fight from which he couldn't just walk away. This was his home, too. 
And that hideous creature residing inside Teal'c was one of thousands 
who wanted to take it away from him just because they could. It was 
too like centuries past when there was no place he thought of as truly 
safe for any Immortal. If the soldiers didn't get you the peasants 
surely would. And with nowhere left to hide, this time the alternative 
truly was unthinkable.

The phone suddenly rang and Methos stared at the thing as if it were a 
foreign object. Who could be calling him at this hour? The only person 
who might know where he was...

Methos smiled and picked up the phone. "Hello, Joe."

"Adam? Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Joe."

"You're not pissed at me for talking to George are you?"

"No," Methos sighed. "He knew enough to qualify for a first approach 
as far as our friends are concerned anyway. The rest... Well, that was 
unavoidable. And in a way I'm glad it happened."

"You are?" Joe asked, his astonishment plain even across the line.

"Yes. And I'll be staying on for a while."

"You will?"

"Why so surprised, Joe? Surely you know me well enough to know I look 
after my own best interests first."

"Uh, yeah. That's what's so scary. I'm having a hard time imagining 
anything that could get you to pull your head out of your ass."

Methos chuckled and phrased his words carefully, knowing the line 
would be monitored. "Let's just say I'm having a Mac attack and leave 
it at that, shall we?"

"Speaking of our friend, he was in here this morning and wanted to 
know if you wanted your book back. You know, the one on seventeenth 
century arms and armor. Said you might need it at some point."

Bless his do-gooder heart, MacLeod was offering to launch a rescue 
mission. "No, I don't think I'll need that one anytime soon. Although 
he might find the sequel on Culloden to be of interest."

There was silence from the other end of the phone and he knew that Joe 
understood. Something was going down that affected the world. From 
Mac's point of view that had been the final defeat of the Highland 
clans by the invading English troops. It had effectively destroyed 
everything he would have known and understood at the time. And the 
allusion to it would tell Joe as much as he needed to comprehend 
Methos' reasons for remaining.

"Ill let him know," Joe said quietly.

"You do that," Methos responded. "And if there's another book he has I 
might need, I'll certainly let him know when the time comes."

"Right. And if there's anything in my collection you want, all you 
have to do is ask."

"Thanks, Joe. I appreciate the offer, but hopefully it won't come to 
that. They've got a pretty extensive library here and I know how 
precious those particular books are."

Again there was silence as he let Joe know just how high the stakes 
actually were.

"Well, I've got to go open the bar," the other man finally offered, 
his voice a little shaky. "The lunch crowd will be here soon."

"It was good to hear from you, Joe. Give Mac my regards."

After he hung up the phone Methos frowned. He was well and truly awake 
now. He stood and stretched, pacing the room as he tried to think of 
something to do. He could go to his work room, but he was still too 
wound up to concentrate on that. He'd tried earlier after speaking 
with General Hammond again, but the words on the tablets had taken on 
a more sinister aspect now that he understood what it all meant. He 
knew he needed time to absorb everything he'd learned before once 
again trying to unravel that puzzle.

What you need is to stop thinking and do something! he told himself 
sternly as his eyes casually fell on the Ivanhoe in its display rack. 
Of course! A good solid workout was just what he needed to focus 
himself inward and allow the events of the last day or so to 
assimilate on their own.

He dressed himself in a pair of loose fitting trousers he'd picked up 
in Tibet, a plain black tee shirt and soft soled shoes, then tossed a 
change of clothes in his gym bag. After taking down his sword, he 
placed it in its case and headed for the gymnasium. Moving through the 
corridors, Methos was not surprised by the amount of activity around 
him. In any military establishment there was always something going on 
day or night, and the SGC was no exception.

In the gym he found others, both male and female, working out and 
chose a place for himself at the far end away from all the equipment 
and mats. Putting his case on one of the benches along the wall he 
mentally paced off an area for himself and began his kata. It was a 
form so old he didn't even recall where he'd learned it. But he'd done 
it nearly every day of his life for as long as he could remember and 
the moves were so ingrained he rarely thought about them. He couldn't 
even explain them to Mac the one time he'd asked. The few students 
he'd had he'd taught other forms of meditation. Whatever seemed to 
suit them best. For himself, this simply felt right. And despite 
everything he'd learned in places like China, Japan and Tibet he'd 
never been able to achieve the degree of centering or depth of focus 
he could with his normal routine.

As he moved deeper into the various stages of his meditation Methos 
became peripherally aware that he had drawn an audience. But this 
often happened when he practiced in public and he paid it no mind at 
all. It was with some surprise then as he neared the final stages that 
he sensed someone nearby echoing his movements. This had also happened 
before. A monk or aficionado of the art would begin to copy the moves, 
but never to his recollection with such accuracy. The thought 
disappeared almost before he'd realized he'd had it and he passed into 
the final stage where nothing, save the presence of another Immortal 
could have broken his concentration. A long time later, as he stepped 
back for the final time and at last laid his arms at his side, Methos 
turned to his shadow and bowed. Teal'c did likewise.

"I offer my humble thanks and gratitude," the larger man rumbled.

Methos smiled. "You're welcome always," he responded formally then 
went to retrieve his sword in order to properly finish his workout. It 
would have been better with a partner, but... He suddenly remembered 
Teal'c's earlier offer to spar.

"Would you join me?" he asked, seeing the soft leather case at the 
other end of the bench.

"I would be honored."

As Methos set the practice guards around the edges of his blade he 
couldn't help but notice the increased movement on the barbican above 
the gym floor. The place, of course, was a model of modern 
engineering. Designed not only for holding sporting events, but 
providing room for an audience. He didn't mind at all as long as they 
stayed off the floor. But given the profession of his audience he 
doubted there was any need to worry on that score. 

He didn't bother with wrist guards or any of the other paraphernalia 
associated with the sport. In real life he knew he'd rarely get the 
chance to be that ready, unless he was preparing for battle or called 
the challenge himself.  So when he did practice it was with the 
greatest impediment to success possible. Bare hands and bare feet, let 
the sweat run where it may. If he sprained a wrist so much the better, 
since it would teach him not to make the same mistake next time.

As he slipped off his shoes and moved back out onto the floor he 
smiled to himself as he recalled his first conversation with MacLeod. 
He hadn't lied when he'd said he was out of practice, but after a few 
thousand years the moves had become second nature. If he slacked off 
for a century or two, it didn't seem to matter in the long run. A 
couple of weeks of regular sessions and he was back in top form -- 
exactly where he'd been since he'd first begun to orbit the MacLeod 
pantheon.  And even out of practice he could probably take on most any 
Immortal and win. He might not have the anger and the passion, but 
survival was a hell of a strong motivating factor when you came right 
down to it.

He began another series of stretches, this time using the Ivanhoe as a 
balancing point. Unlike the katana, or other light weight cavalry 
style swords most Immortals preferred, the Ivanhoe was a substantial 
piece to wield in battle. Not only meant for slicing and stabbing, but 
for doing solid impact damage. Finally, it became merely an extension 
of his arms and Methos turned to face his opponent.


"Colonel, what's going on?" 

"Not now, Carter," Jack hissed above the clash and clang of steel as 
he pulled her through the crowd. "Out of the way. Excuse us." Rank had 
certain privileges and O'Neill used every one of them until he and 
Samantha were standing at the edge of the walkway overlooking the gym. 
It seemed that half the base had turned out for this.

"How long have they been at it?" he quietly asked the guy next to him. 
He'd gone to get Sam as soon as Methos had started his warm up. Not 
because he was worried, but because he'd thought she'd appreciate the 
insight into Pierson's character. He'd been supposed to work out with 
Teal'c as they did nearly every morning, but when he'd found them in 
the final stage of that strange kata he'd hung back in the crowd to 

"Just got started," the other man murmured.

O'Neill nodded and leaned his elbows against the edge as he watched 
the mock fight unfold. They were still in the opening rounds, testing 
each others defenses and getting a feel for each other's style.

"You thinking what I'm thinking, Carter?"

"He's been at this a very long time," she responded quietly.

Jack nodded slowly. What they'd thought to be a lanky, but decent 
physique beneath those loose fitting sweaters and jeans had suddenly 
turned out to be in better shape than their own. Not an ounce of spare 
fat existed on that sinewy frame. And the elongated muscles of his 
arms seemed to have been carved out of stone. He moved like a warrior. 
Not with the fancy dance-like moves some practitioners tried. Pierson 
was all business and clever cunning as he sought for weak points in 
Teal'c's defenses. More often than not he breached them and moved back 
for another round.

"So much for the librarian," O'Neill smiled.

"You're not serious?" Sam asked, her voice tinged with shock.

"I want him on the team, Carter, not sitting on his ass in the SGC."

"But, sir," she began as Methos suddenly disarmed Teal'c in another 
quick parry.

"No buts, Major. This is not open to discussion. We started out as 
five and I've always had the option to replace Ferretti. I'm simply 
going to exercise it. Don't worry," he grinned. "I'll take care of the 
paper work. You just schedule us some training time."

"Yes, sir," she nodded dubiously.

"He's just playing with him," Jack suddenly murmured, shaking his 
head, but Sam had gone. Too bad, he thought as Teal'c tried something 
new and took the offensive. She and Daniel would just have to live 
with it. Ferretti had been his best friend and he hadn't needed to 
either guide or guard the other man as he felt he had to with the 
others. Part of him had always desperately wanted those sureties back. 
More importantly, Methos couldn't be taken over by the enemy, or 
easily killed in a fight. Well, he could be, but he'd come back -- and 
that Immortality thing meant he'd have one less worry to keep him 
awake at night.


"What do you mean I'm drafted?" Methos asked, bemused as he sat on a 
bench in the locker room tying his shoes. "You can't draft me. I'm not 
a citizen. And besides, didn't you get it? I already agreed to work 
with you."

"You agreed to honor the contract you signed in Paris," Jack informed 
him. "But if you ever want to go through that gate, you're going to 
have to sign on the dotted line."

"What about Daniel?"

"Technically, he's just a civilian observer. He also signed a waiver 
absolving the military or the United States government of any 
indemnity in the case of loss of limb or life -- and we have a 
Presidential order allowing him access. Think you could stand up to 
that kind of scrutiny, Methos?"

Bastard! he thought, annoyed. Of course he couldn't and Jack knew 

"You still can't draft me. As I said, I'm not a citizen."

"You are and I can. You fought in the American Revolution. Whether you 
knew it or not you were automatically granted citizenship at that 
time. And that law still exists. You fight under our flag, you become 
one of us. As for drafting you, there's a little known clause in the 
Constitution that allows for any citizen, regardless of age or sex, to 
be conscripted if they have a skill that can't be duplicated and that 
skill is required -- war time or not. Well, you do and I require it."

Methos frowned. He had forgotten about that sneaky little loophole the 
framers of that blasted document had designed. "So you can draft me. 
Fine. But why?"

O'Neill suddenly smiled. "You've been a soldier for a very long time 
and I want you at my back. I need someone with your strengths. Daniel 
and Sam are first and foremost academics. And Teal'c has his own set 
of problems. My first team through the gate was, with the exception of 
Daniel, a hand picked squad who'd seen combat with Special Forces. 
Only two came back alive and they died not long after we opened the 
gate for the second time."

Methos nodded. "And I have the advantage of being both an academic and 
a seasoned fighter. Well," he sighed, sitting up and resting his arms 
on his thighs. "I can't fault your logic." He shook his head slowly. 
"Still, I haven't served in battle for more than a century. In the 

armed forces, yes. But not as a combatant."

"What were you?"

"Well, I worked as a secretary in the war office during the First 
World War and as a code cracker in MI during the second. I never got 
near any actual fighting."

"Why not?" Jack asked curiously as Methos stood.

"Those are bloody big bombs you've gone and invented! Take your 
fucking head off in one shot. I want to live, Colonel. Not die in some 
meaningless skirmish in a cause that will eventually be forgotten. But 
if I am to die, I want it to be by the hand of another Immortal. 
Hopefully, one who deserves what I have to offer."

"That Quickie thing, huh?"

Methos smiled. "It's called a Quickening. And yes, that's exactly 

"Okay, well we don't see too many bombs. Too primitive I guess for 
those oh-so-sophisticated alien bad guys. Lots of energy weapons and 
electronics that will fry your brain of course."

"Of course," Methos responded drolly.

"Anyway, if you want to go through the gate, this is your only option. 
Take it or leave it."

Methos sighed and followed Jack into the hall. You're a fool, he told 
himself firmly. But saving the world aside, there was still that 
damnable gate. That damned, incredible Stargate.

In his mind's eye Methos saw a flash of his own hand holding a stone 
knife as he carefully skinned some animal he'd caught. From that to 
this, he thought, and his heart leapt with a profound sense of joy. 
He'd lived to see this! Against all the odds he'd made it this far. 
Into a future he could never have imagined, let alone dreamed of even 
a century before. This was better than H.G. Wells or Jules Verne, both 
of whom he'd known and whose books he'd once loved.

"You are an evil, manipulative son of a bitch, Jack O'Neill," Methos 
told him.

"But you want to go through the Stargate." Jack gave him a wide slow 

"Of course I want to! Now, where do I sign?"


"Come on in," O'Neill gestured at Methos once he'd finally found the 
colonel's office. 

Methos looked around the small room with its banged up steel desk, 
squeaky metal chairs, half a dozen slowly rusting file cabinets and 
one antique manual typewriter sitting in the center of the desk and 
nearly shuddered.

"This is your office?" he asked dubiously, even though the colonel's 
name was on the door.

"I know. I know," O'Neill nodded. "I should requisition some new 
stuff. But hell, I'm hardly ever in here. Am I, Teal'c?"

The big man nodded. "It is true. I have never seen Colonel O'Neill in 
this office."

O'Neill held out his hands as if to say, "See? I told you," and waved 
Methos to a chair.

"I've done most of it," he gestured at the typewriter in front of him 
which held some sort of form wrapped around its cylinder. "I just need 
you to help play fill in the blanks. You okay with that?" 

Methos said nothing, but took a chair and looked expectantly at Jack.

"Not having second thoughts are you?"

"Along with third, fourth and fifth," Methos sighed.

"You can still change your mind," O'Neill offered.

Methos gave him a disgusted sneer. If he could have, he would have. He 
should know, he'd really tried. "Let's just get on with it."

Jack shrugged. "Okay. Full name and date of birth. Oops. Sorry," 
O'Neill grinned apologetically. "Could have done that one myself. M-E-
T--" he started to type.

"Are you mad?!" Methos suddenly stood up. "You can't put my real name 
on there!"

"H-O-S. Methos. I have to. Law says so." He glanced up, grinning 
happily. "Don't worry so much," he waved Methos back into his seat. 
"No one reads this stuff anyway once it's in the computer."

Methos rolled his eyes and sat down. That much was probably true given 
the nature of bureaucracies in general, but he'd lodge a complaint 
with General Hammond anyway. A public record of his name and stats 
hadn't ever been part of their deal.

"Middle initial?"

Methos looked at the man as if he'd lost his mind.

"Guess not, huh?"

"O'Neill," Methos sighed in exasperation. "Don't try my patience."

"O," Teal'c rumbled from his place near the cabinets. "The middle 
letter must be O."

"O?" Methos raised an eyebrow. "And how do you figure that?"

"Colonel O'Neill once explained to me the purpose of a second or third 
name to identify one with a clan or place of birth. Did you not?"

"I did," O'Neill nodded.

"So, if I am Teal'c O. Chulak as you are Jack O. Neill then he must be 
Methos O. Earth."

Methos squeezed the bridge of his nose and tried not to laugh.

"Well if ya gotta have a name..." Jack grinned. 

"Thank you, Teal'c," Methos said, then waved a hand to tell O'Neill to 
just do it and move on. "And I've no doubt, my young friend, that one 
day you too shall discover that not only have you served your people 
well, but that they have repaid you by turning your name to mud."

"Date and place of birth? Oh, I know that! Chal-co-li-thic era," Jack 
typed slowly. "Planet Dirt."

Methos chuckled. O'Neill had better hope no one else read this, or 
someone would likely schedule him for a psych evaluation -- and not 
just his strange inductee.

"Social security number?"

"000-00-0001," Methos grinned as Jack looked up.

"First in line, eh?"

"Early riser," Methos shrugged negligently.

"Works for me. Mother's maiden name?"

"Terra," Methos answered promptly.

"Father's name?"


Jack snorted. "Big guy, huh?"

"24,000 miles in circumference." Methos squared his shoulders and 

"Ouch! Okay. List job titles and previous places of employment."

"Which ones?"

"Well, let's start with the longest period you've ever worked and go 
from there."

"Death. One thousand, three hundred seventeen years."

"Death?" Jack sat back from the typewriter and stared at him.

Methos nodded. He'd wanted him on the team so badly, then he really 
ought to know just what he was getting. "Yes. Death. As in 
Revelations. You know, the fourth seal, rode a pale horse, Hades 
followed behind. That was me. Death."

"O-kay," Jack nodded skeptically and typed. "Angel of Death."

"Trust me, O'Neill," Methos said quite seriously, leaning forward. "I 
was no angel."

The colonel frowned and searched through his drawers until he found an 
old fashioned eraser. He rubbed away the words, then blew on the page 
and laid his hands on the keys. "No angel. Right. Minion of Satan," he 
typed instead, then pulled the form out of the machine, ignoring 
Methos' laughter. 

"I think that about does it. Teal'c, please give Satan's minion here 
his BDUs." 

Methos took the pile of clothes, glanced at his name boldly stenciled 
across the pocket and tossed them aside, no longer laughing. "Now 
that's not funny, O'Neill."

"Okay. I didn't know. I'll have them put the O'Earth on later. All 
right?" He slapped the paper down in front of Methos. "X marks the 
spot, kid. Sign right here."

Furious, Methos stood and reached for the document intending to tear 
it up, but before he could take it someone knocked at the door.

"Hey, Colonel," a young Marine poked his head in. "If you're done 
here, could we have our store room back?"

Methos snatched up the paper and glanced at it, then down at the 
typewriter which he suddenly realized held no ribbon, then back at the 
computerized, neatly filled out form. It listed his name as Adam 
Pierson with all the pertinent information he'd already provided. He 
picked up the uniform and peeled the label off the pocket. Underneath, 
it thankfully read Pierson.

"Bastard!" Methos laughed, falling back into the chair. Still, he 
thought, it had been a very long time since anyone had gotten 
something that elaborate over on him. And he not only appreciated the 
skill it had taken to pull it off, but the fact that O'Neill liked him 
well enough to even bother. Practical jokes in the military were 
considered a sign of affection. With a sigh, he picked up a pen and 
signed his name with a flourish.

Jack held out his hand and Methos took it.

"Welcome to Stargate Command."


So these are Stargate addresses, Methos thought as he sat in his work 
room once again studying the king list tablets. Now that he had full 
access to all of Daniel's previous work many of the references he'd 
struggled with finally became clear. He'd back tracked and corrected 
his previous translations, replacing words like "the joined ones" with 
symbiot. Still, he had over 200 tablets left to complete and the task 
seemed daunting at this point. Part of him couldn't wait for Daniel to 
come back and give him a hand, while the other was dreading that very 


"Good afternoon, Colonel," Methos looked at the door and smiled. 
"Please, come in."

Jack looked at the dozen or so tablets on the work table as he 
sauntered past. "Having fun?" he asked with a hint of mocking 

"Yes, actually. See those three tablets on the left?" Jack looked over 
and nodded. "They tell of how Tok'ra went to the planet of the Don-gi, 
where the Queen judged every man by the size of his penis and Tok'ra 
was sadly found wanting."

 Jack's eyebrows shot up. "Too small?"

"No, too large. She suggested surgery and he apparently left in quite 
a hurry."

Jack chuckled. "I'll bet he did."

"That last one tells of the argument he and his symbiot had over the 
whole affair, or lack thereof. Amazingly, the worm seemed to think it 
would grow back."

O'Neill's eyes went wide. "What's the address? I plan to avoid planet 

Methos burst out laughing at the colonel's expression.

"Good one, Adam," Jack admitted ruefully.

"Academia does have its little perks. Now, was there something you 
needed to see me about? Or shall I regale you with more and better 
tales of Tok'ra, the well-armed?" 

"Basic training stuff mostly. Modified, of course, but necessary."

"Like what?"

"Oh, weapons training, marksmanship. Can you take an M-16 apart and 
put it back together in 9 seconds. Things like that."

"Actually, I can," Methos smiled brightly.

"Sure you can," Jack nodded distractedly, obviously thinking this was 
another joke.

Methos smiled patiently. "I take it you would like to do this now?"

"Now would be good. We just got a message from the Tok'ra. Things are 
probably about to become busy around here, so we need to get this 

Methos got to his feet and followed Jack out. "You think there'll be 
some action?"

"Always is with them," he responded dryly.

"You don't like the Tok'ra, do you?" Methos asked quietly.

"Don't trust 'em," Jack clarified. "They seem to think we lesser folk 
are here to help them fight their battles, and not the other way 
around. What should be equal isn't. And we're usually left holding the 
short end of the stick."

Methos nodded as they got into the elevator to head up to the above 
ground area of the base and its firing ranges. So, he wasn't the only 
one to have misgivings about them. "Sounds like the Tok'ra need to 
have their cages rattled."

"Big time," Jack agreed, than stared at Methos and smiled. "You know, 
they are supposed to be our allies, Pierson."

"It was a wise man who once said that our enemies make us powerful, 
but our friends teach us humility."

"Who said that?"

"Julius Caesar, on receiving Pompey's head."


"What's that?" Sam asked as she entered the conference room.

"Pierson's range results." Jack held up the paper silhouette for her 
to ogle. "Qualified Expert center mass and sniper. On the first try. 
Gotta love that guy!"

"No. I don't," Carter shook her head, looking nervously at the paper. 
"Sir, the man also went for the knee caps, elbows and wrists. Doesn't 
that strike you as odd? Even a little ominous?"

"Shows how much you know, Major."

"Colonel, those are torture shots!"

"Your point being?"

She suddenly seemed to remember to whom she was speaking. "Never 
mind." She turned away, taking the seat next to Teal'c.

O'Neill sighed. "I know what you're thinking, Carter. And if it were 
anyone outside the armed services besides Pierson -- given his special 
needs -- I'd be worried too. But it's crunch time, Major, and skills 
like that don't come cheap or easy."

"Let's just say I wouldn't want to live next door to anyone who 
deliberately learned to do that as a hobby and leave it at that, 

"I doubt you could afford the house next door, Major." Methos strolled 
in and casually sprawled in the chair across from her.

"Whatever." She looked hopefully toward the door to General Hammond's 

"You're afraid of me," Methos grinned dangerously. Carter glared at 
him and his smile broadened. "Smart girl."

"Enough you two," O'Neill ordered, annoyed. They didn't have to be in 
love, just work as a team.

The door opened and General Hammond walked in followed by Jacob 
Carter. "Good afternoon, people." There were greetings all around as 
the two men sat down. 

"Before we begin, George," Jacob looked to his old friend. "With your 
permission, Selmak has something she'd like to say to Methos." The 
general nodded and Jacob's expression changed.

"Greetings to Methos, companion of Tok'ra, from the High Council of 
the Tok'ra. We offer our most sincere apologies for any offense Anise 
may have caused and would like to assure you that she has been 
suitably chastised for her actions."

"That's nice," Methos responded laconically.

"I am told you still claim no knowledge of your heritage, is this 

Methos sighed in exasperation. "Look, I don't know what you want me to 
say. I may have forgotten a lot, but misplacing an extra 5,000 years 
is highly unlikely. I'm old, not senile."

"Is this really germane?" Hammond interrupted.

Suddenly, Jacob was back. "Not really," he admitted. "They're just 
disappointed. Apparently, they consider Methos almost as much of a 
hero as Tok'ra."

At that Methos snorted. "I'm no one's hero."

"You're my hero," Jack insisted, clutching the silhouette to his chest 
and earning a brief smile.

"Perhaps I may shed some light on the matter," Teal'c finally spoke. 
Everyone paused as he looked at Methos. "Do you recall my mirroring of 
you during the last stages of Chel'no're?"

"You mean the kata?" Methos asked, surprised.

"Indeed. It is why I believe you must be he whom the Tok'ra praise, 
for you are a Master of the Art, while I am but a student."

"I thought you were a master of Chel'no're?" O'Neill asked, confused.

Teal'c shook his head slowly. "I have mastered that part of Chel'no're 
which I was taught, but I left Chulak before my studies could be 
completed. There are no Masters on this world, save Methos."

"Do you recall where you learned it?" Jacob asked the Immortal.

"Where?" Methos responded with a laugh. "I don't rightly recall when. 
And how can you be so sure this Chel'no're wasn't practiced for 
centuries, or even millennia after the Goa'uld left, just as they were 
still worshipped as gods?"

"Because," Teal'c explained. "The form you use was lost to us more 
than 10,000 years ago when the last and greatest Master of the Art was 
killed in battle along with his most proficient students. We have but 
descriptions left in the archives. Many have tried to use these to 
achieve the final stage -- and many have died trying."

"There is a way to find out," Sam reminded everyone.

Methos sighed. "And again I ask you, Carter, what would be the point? 
My age, whatever it is, has no bearing on the present."

"But it may have a great deal of bearing on the future," Selmak 

"Your future," Methos scoffed. "Look, I'm sorry your wee ones are 
feeling a bit out of sorts, but I have no desire to become anyone's 
symbol of hope and encouragement. There's one bloody reason I'm here 
and that's to protect what's mine! Not to help your children deal with 
their feelings of inadequacy as they confront a hostile universe."

Hammond cleared his throat. "Excuse me, people, but this argument 
serves no purpose. We're here to discuss the current translation 
project, not to bicker among ourselves. Now, could we please move on?" 

The room came to order and the general sat back in his chair. "Our 
first bit of business is to bring everyone up to speed. Dr. Pierson. 
Since the Tok'ra have been given copies of your work they are, of 
course, aware of the latest translations you've completed. In turn, 
they have provided us with copies of their completed translation of 
those tablets as well as others you haven't yet had a chance to work 
through. If you would all take a moment to look these over." He 
selected a handful of folders from the stack of files he'd brought 
with him and passed them around.

Methos hid his distaste, guessing whom they had to thank for the 
translations and promising himself that he'd go over them very, very 
carefully. From what he'd learned of Anise, the woman had more of an 
interest in ancient weapons that might be useful to the Tok'ra than 
the ancient cultures she purportedly claimed to be studying. One could 
not truly study a culture one held in contempt. Nor could one give due 
credence to that culture's experiences when the ultimate goal was to 
acquire their technological expertise. He would not put it past her to 
have deliberately slanted any number of passages to suit her own 
purposes, knowing the humans would likely bear the brunt of any 
subsequent engagement. And it gave him pause to wonder now, at how 
succinctly she had solved her little access problem by throwing the 
SGC into a minor upheaval by revealing the Immortal among them. A 
revelation they might have ignored, but for her little stunt.

"I take it these were computer generated?" Methos finally asked.

"Based on your foundations, of course," Jacob responded.

Methos closed the folder and carefully laid it aside. "It's a tricky 
dialect," he told him with a polite smile. "I'll make the necessary 
corrections. But do thank Anise for her efforts. I'm sure she did the 
best she was able."

"Rattle them bars," Jack murmured and tossed his own folder onto the 
table. "Let's cut to the chase, Jacob. The abridged version, please?"

"Well, you already know the gist of the story," Jacob shrugged. "The 
end result seems to have been that Tok'ra somehow created a weapon 
which destroyed an entire Goa'uld fleet."

"I knew there had to be an alien weapon involved here somewhere," 
O'Neill muttered. 

"Problem is," Jacob went on, ignoring his comment. "We're missing some 
key pieces of the puzzle. The story breaks off in the middle at the 
end of the last tablet."

"Meaning," the general informed them. "That we need SG-1 to return to 
P4X37 and find those missing tablets."

"Oh, joy," Jack sighed and looked to Methos. "Bring lots of extra sun 

As the meeting broke up, Methos felt the shock of his surprise mixed 
with an incredible amount of excitement and a hint of fear. This was 
it. He was really going to do this thing, wasn't he?

Oh, yeah, he thought as he passed the stairs leading to the gate room. 
The world was definitely getting interesting.


"Uh, Colonel," Carter said as Methos and Teal'c entered the gate room 
an hour later. "He's got a sword with him."

"I think they come as a matched set," Jack told her calmly. "Like the 
rig," he said to Methos, who merely grinned.

The ancient Immortal had attached the lightweight scabbard he usually 
wore inside his coat to a nylon harness which allowed him to wear his 
sword slanted across his back beneath his pack.

Seeing the team was in place, the crew in operations activated the 
Stargate and Methos watched the process with a sense of awe and 
nervous tension in his stomach.

"Ready?" Jack asked in an undertone of concern. 

Methos wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers, unable to take his eyes 
off the Stargate. "Is this what the first day of school feels like? 
All tingly butterflies and queasy gnawing?"

"Sounds about right," Jack admitted as he led the way up the ramp. 
"Don't worry," he smiled kindly. "I've done this at least a couple of 
hundred times. You'll do fine."

Methos watched as O'Neill and then Carter nonchalantly entered the 
portal. Behind him, Teal'c waited patiently as Methos fought the 
instant of panic which suddenly reared its ugly head at the thought of 
being broken down into his composite molecules and whisked across the 
galaxy. But instead of retreating, he took a huge deep breath, closed 
his eyes and stepped forward into the light.


Cold, and yet not cold. Intense heat, and soothing balm. Bright white 
light, but without sight. Wind rushing through every pore of his body 
in a complete and utter calm. Methos found himself face down in the 
sand an instant later, gasping for air.

"Takes a little getting used to," he heard O'Neill say as the colonel 
helped him to sit up.

"Wild ride!" he grinned and saw O'Neill smile. "Take that, Mr. 

"Gets better," Jack told him as he got to his feet.

Methos looked around, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his face. Two 
suns, he suddenly realized, startled by a sight his instincts told him 
should not exist. By all the gods, he thought, a sense of wonder 
filling him. I'm not only standing on another planet, but for the 
first time in my life I am completely free of the Game! Now that was 
worth signing over a small portion of his life to the military.

"It's over this way," Samantha pointed as she led them toward a rising 

At the top, Methos paused to stare across the sand swept landscape at 
the looming ziggurat in the distance. "That's the Temple of Inanna," 
he told them quietly. "There was one just like it in Uruk." He nodded 
slowly. "So this is where the bitch went."

"Knew her, did you?" Jack asked. 

Methos shook his head. "Never met the woman. But like everyone else 
back then, I was intimately acquainted with her prostitutes." The 
colonel raised an eyebrow. "Inanna was also known as the Whore of 
Babylon. A bitch goddess who murdered her husbands regularly. The 
tarts were part of her mystique. Le petite morte as ritual sacrifice 
in worship."

"See?!" Jack complained to Teal'c. "Now that was important 
information. Daniel never tells us these things."

The Jaffa's countenance remained impassive. "Daniel Jackson has 
knowledge of many things. Perhaps these prostitutes are not among 

"Y' think?" O'Neill asked sarcastically.

Methos heard the comment over his shoulder as he followed Major Carter 
and looked back with a wide-eyed, calculatedly shocked expression. 
"What has that shameless reprobate got you believing?"

"Beg pardon?" O'Neill hurriedly caught up with him.

"In college, Daniel went through women like you go through socks, 
Jack. That incredible brain of his has memorized every bit sexual 
esoterica there is. Including the entire Kama Sutra."

"Why that little..."

Pay back was indeed a bitch, Methos thought smugly as he slogged his 
way through the sand. Of course, he could be wrong. Daniel might 
actually have read the damn book and not used that bloody big tome as 
a door stop. At the very least, watching him as he tried to either 
live up to or deny the lie would certainly be entertaining.


"So this is where you found them?" Methos asked, chuckling.

"I'm sure she didn't mean to fall on him," O'Neill responded 

"Of course not," Methos solemnly agreed.

"Could we get on with this?!" Sam interjected heatedly, reaching for 
the rope she'd secured to assist them in descending.

"Oh, you won't find anything down there," Methos pointed out, casually 
moving away from the opening.

"Well, this is where we found the other tablets," she reminded him 

"So you've said," Methos nodded. "And I take it the chamber was 
excavated quite thoroughly?"

"Yes. But we still might have missed something."

Methos finally took pity on her. She was, after all, such an earnest 
young lady. "I highly doubt that given the quality of your experts in 
the field. More likely, the temple priests had the final tablets on 
display somewhere else. The great epics were worshipped cyclically. 
Each year a different part of the story would be recounted and so on 
until it was complete. Then they'd start over so anyone who might have 
missed a particular bit or had a favorite part could hear it again. 
Kind of like free concerts in the park. The propaganda rewards were 

Now Sam was listening -- and of course, arguing. "Why would a Goa'uld 
direct her priests to recite an epic that details a major Goa'uld 
defeat?" Before he could respond her eyes widened in understanding. 
"Unless it doesn't?"

"Exactly," Methos smiled. "The end of the story would have been the 
most important. The part where Inanna betrays her lover, Tok'ra, and 
shows her power over him."

Carter nodded slowly. "That's why the early tablets were hidden."

"Perhaps," he agreed. "Or trotted out as a series of examples in 
futility. Nothing so kills hope as hearing how badly the mighty have 

"This is all very interesting." O'Neill interrupted. "But where would 
the rest of the tablets be? We went over this place top to bottom 
before we left here."

"I'd guess in the temple proper somewhere."

"I thought this was the temple?" Jack asked.

"This?" Methos looked around and grinned. "Hell no! These are the 
temple offices and storage facilities. Inanna would never have set 
foot down here." He turned away and headed for the exit, the others 
following. Once outside he circled the building until he reached the 
base of the ceremonial stairs and started climbing.

"This would have been a landing pad?" Methos asked as they reached the 
flat summit.

"Probably," O'Neill agreed as Methos led them across the wide staging 
area and into the temple itself. 

Unlike its counterpart in Mesopotamia this temple had been made of 
stone, not mud brick and Methos looked around, startled by the empty 
surfaces around him.

"Where are the carvings?" he whispered in astonishment. The walls 
should have been covered with them. And there was no altar. He'd 
expected to find the tablets there. Set in the stone around its base 
where the ancient plaques of gold inlaid with lapis lazuli bearing the 
many tales of Inanna in the old city had been.

"Carvings?!" O'Neill exploded, recalling his very first experience 
gating. "Don't tell me you assumed there'd be inscriptions. Jesus! 
They don't put 'em on the walls out here!"

Methos stared at him, then suddenly his eyes moved past the other man 
and out to the landing platform, narrowing. "Of course," he murmured 
and strode back the way they'd come. He paced out the general area 
then began sweeping the sand aside with his feet until he found what 
he wanted. He smiled and crooked a finger at the rest of the team. 
When they were standing beside him, Methos stepped back and showed 
them the tablet set in the paving stones underneath.

"'And I have laid my heel like a yoke upon the neck of mine enemy'," 
he recited slowly. "'And forever shall he writhe ignominiously beneath 
the tread of my feet.'" Methos curled a lip in disgust. "Bitch took 
the words literally." 

"He did what?!" Daniel shouted over the phone.

O'Neill covered the mouth piece while he laughed. "Your friend, 
Pierson," he repeated slowly. "Borrowed Teal'c's staff and blew the 
damn things out of the ground. Said temples like that were thick as 
thieves in the Bronze Age, so why bother excavating."

 "Is he there?! Is he? I want to speak with him!"

"Hey!" O'Neill called across the room to Methos, who was working with 
Sam to sort through the labeling. "Hey! Satan's minion! Your friend 
the sex fiend wants a word with you!"

Methos rolled his eyes at the irreverent colonel as he hurriedly made 
his way over and grabbed the phone. "Pierson."

"What did he just call me?" Daniel queried nervously.

"Sorry, wasn't listening."

"Yeah, right. Okay. Adam, did you shoot up an ancient alien temple?"

"No, I did some down and dirty excavating."

"You did! I can't believe it!"

"Look, Danny," Methos sighed patiently. "You and I have had this 
argument a thousand times. And if you managed to live another thousand 
years we'd probably still be having it. People count, not pots."

"And if their pots are all we have left?" Daniel asked quietly.

"Then apparently they weren't very interesting people."

There was a long pause and Methos could practically hear Daniel's 
teeth grinding. 

"Listen, Adam. I'm not going to get into this with you right now, 
okay? I'll be in tomorrow and we can start working on those new 

"Been brushing up on your proto-cuneiform?" Methos asked pointedly.

"As a matter of fact, I have been. I'll see you in the morning."

"Fine. Good night, Danny."

Methos exhaled disgustedly as he hung up the phone. 

"Does that to me all the time," O'Neill offered sympathetically.

"He means well," Methos smiled briefly.

"You really like the kid."

"Don't sound so surprised, O'Neill. He's got a brilliant mind and 
there isn't a malicious bone in his body. So, he can be a little 
annoying." Jack rolled his eyes. "Okay, a lot annoying. But then, so 
can I. I think..." Methos sighed softly. "I sometimes think Daniel is 
probably who I would be if I weren't what I am. If that makes any 

"Makes a lot of sense, actually. Thanks to you though, I keep having 
to readjust my dweeb-o-meter."

With a smile, Methos went back to work. Daniel could do what he liked 
come morning. By the time he got here the translations would be 
complete. He did, after all, have Anise's computerized technique. And 
she'd been more than accurate in her translations, in spite of what 
he'd implied. No doubt, he thought as he scanned in the first of the 
new tablets using her filtering frequency, someone had sat her down 
and explained a few of life's necessities. The most important being, 
never to piss off your coworkers. They often had nasty ways of getting 


"'And going forth to do battle Tok'ra created for himself a 
carapace'," Daniel read aloud. "Don't you think that's a strange way 
to describe body armor?"

"No, Danny, I don't," Methos sighed. "And if you'd ever worn chain 
mail you'd agree."

Daniel grinned. "Still doing that historical re-enactment stuff, huh?" 
He shifted his cast to a more comfortable position, knocking over his 
crutches as he did so.

Methos grunted a response as he gathered them up for the third time. 
"On and off. Mostly off these days." He propped the crutches securely 
against the wall, well away from Daniel's fidgeting. "Look, it's not 
that I don't agree with you. The word is odd. It's definitely a unique 
descriptor. But the story says he rode within the carapace to fight 
the Goa'uld, so how can it possibly be some form of advanced body 
armor? It had to be a ship of sorts. Probably a one man fighter. 
That's the only logical conclusion."

"What if it were both?" Daniel asked and Methos stared at him as 
though he'd lost his mind.

"Come again?"

Daniel shrugged. "I don't know. Just an idea. Hand me one of those 
tablets, Adam."

Methos looked across the room where he'd left a dozen or so out on the 
work table. With a shrug he snapped on a pair of gloves and went to 
retrieve one.

"What are those for?" Daniel asked, staring at Methos' hands as he 
deposited the tablet on the desk between them.

"Just a precaution. I think I'm slightly allergic to whatever this 
stuff is. Gives me a rash."

"Did you get it checked out in the infirmary?" Daniel asked with a 
hint of concern.

"They're not sure," Methos lied adroitly. "Could have been something I 
ate. But as long as I wear these I seem to be fine."

"Well the metal is odd," he agreed, slowly running his fingers over 
the surface of the tablet. "The tests indicate it's similar to 
naqueda, the mineral the gate's made out of," Daniel explained. "But 
the molecular structure is a little different. As if it were meant to 
provide a different kind of energy source."

Methos said nothing. He was not a geologist after all. Neither was 
Daniel for that matter, but the kid had picked up a lot of obscure 
knowledge in recent years and he was willing to bow to his expertise 
on those subjects.

"Funny how the reverse is completely without markings," he commented 
turning the tablet over. "And look at this scoring. Kind of looks like 
a pattern, doesn't it?"

Methos leaned forward and nodded. "Could be. So what? The pieces could 
have been made up of a larger slab that was broken down for the 
purpose. As for the reverse being rough, they might have planned all 
along to mount the tablets. Why polish what will never be seen by the 

Daniel nodded absently then cocked his head. "Maybe. Do these edges 
seem a little uneven to you as well?"

Methos shrugged. "Maybe that's part of their charm. Not every 
civilization likes their edges neatly rounded."

"Have you tried laying them out all together just to see what comes 

Methos felt a shiver of fear at the suggestion. He'd very consciously 
avoided doing anything like that. His Quickening's response to one 
tablet had been disturbing. The idea of putting all the tablets out 
and into one confined space made his skin crawl.

"I don't think that's necessary, Danny. If you want to examine them 
for patterns we can use the computer scans to manipulate them much 
more easily. It would certainly be faster."

"Yeah, it would," Daniel sighed.

They both looked up as Colonel O'Neill entered unannounced. "Hope I'm 
not interrupting, but, uh, Pierson, we've got a little problem. Would 
you excuse us, Daniel?"

Methos grimaced and nodded pointedly to Jackson's leg. "I'll be right 
with you, Jack." He turned back to his friend. "Look, here's the 
keyboard," he moved it to where it was easier for Daniel to reach, 
then turned the monitor to face him. "I'll be back as soon as I'm 

Daniel waved distractedly as he left and Methos heaved a silent sigh 
of relief. He didn't know whether or not putting the pieces together 
might be dangerous to him, but he certainly wasn't eager to find out. 
Nor was he interested in letting the mortals discover that little 
secret. They might not be concerned with his Immortality now, but just 
let them get a hint of the kind of power that might be available to 
him, or any other Immortal for that matter, and they'd be singing a 
different tune, he was sure of it.

"How's it going in there?" O'Neill asked once they were alone in the 

"The work? Or me and Danny?"


Methos smiled. "The first is going well. He's come up with some 
interesting ideas I never would have thought of. Whether they're 
useful remains to be seen. As for Danny and I, well... I doubt we'll 
ever see eye to eye on a few things. Luckily, he's incapable of 
holding a grudge for more than a few minutes."

O'Neill snorted and started walking toward the elevator. "Tell that to 
Apophos. If Daniel ever gets the upper hand there he'll kill him in an 
eye blink."

"How's that?" Methos asked, surprised yet believing the colonel's 
professional estimation.

Jack paused as they waited. "He hasn't told you about Sha're?" Methos 
shook his head. "Daniel's married." Methos' eyes went wide and he 
glanced back toward the work room.

"He never mentioned it."

"Not surprising," O'Neill went on quietly. "Apophos wanted an 
attractive host for his own wife. He decided on Sha're."

"One of those things is inside his wife?" Methos swallowed in horror 
as O'Neill nodded. "Poor Danny."

"Poor Sha're," Jack added as the elevator came and they stepped 
inside. "She's aware and she knows what's happened to her."

Methos wiped his face with his hand. Terrible as it was, it was not 
his problem. It wasn't like there was anything to be done about it 
either. But still, it explained a lot about Daniel's new found 
intensity for something other than his own devices.

Finally, Methos let it go and sighed. "You said you needed to see me 
about something?"

"Actually, it's more of a someone rather than a something. Know 
anybody by the name of MacLeod?"

Methos groaned. "He's here?"

"In the flesh."

"Yeah, I know MacLeod. The infant's probably come to rescue me from 
your dastardly clutches."


"A mere four hundred years. Thinks he's everybody's knight in shining 
armor. Yours too, if you let him. Duncan is nothing if not loyal, 
true, thrifty and brave. The ultimate Boy Scout."

O'Neill looked interested. "Think he'd be willing to come work for 

Methos shrugged. "Don't see why not. He's served in some form or other 
in nearly every major conflict for the past four centuries. Just 
remember, he was raised to be his clan's chieftain. So if he adopts 
you, you're his responsibility for life. And this saving the world 
stuff is right up his alley."

The colonel nodded. "I'll keep it in mind."

As they reached the surface Methos caught sight of MacLeod standing 
easily next to a pair of guards.

"We'll take it from here," O'Neill told them as he led the way 

"Look at you!" MacLeod crowed, grinning from ear to ear as he slowly 
paced around the ancient Immortal.

Methos rolled his eyes. He was wearing standard issue combat pants and 
a tee shirt. "I'm sure you haven't come to discuss my new wardrobe, 
Mac. And I don't need rescuing. So why are you here?"

MacLeod glanced at O'Neill and Methos nodded. "Duncan MacLeod of the 
Clan MacLeod, Colonel Jack O'Neill, United States Air Force."

The two men shook hands. "A pleasure," Jack said sincerely. "One of 
these days we'll have to sit down and discuss the nature of modern 

MacLeod looked stunned. "He knows about us?"

"He was there for the dog and pony show," Methos shrugged. "Couldn't 
be helped."

"Right," MacLeod nodded, taking it in stride. "Joe mentioned that. He 
also mentioned Culloden. Care to explain that?"

"Not at the moment," Methos told him as MacLeod stubbornly crossed his 
arms. "I also indicated that if your services were required I'd let 
you know."

"Meth-- Adam," MacLeod corrected himself and Methos sighed.

"Don't bother, he knows that, too."

The Scot's mouth fell open. "Everything?" he finally asked.

"Let's just say, O'Neill knows me in the biblical sense and leave it 
at that, shall we?"

"Hey!" Jack stammered. "No casting aspersions here. I may have to work 
with this guy."

Methos chuckled. "I meant Death, Jack."

The colonel nodded, relaxing. "Oh, yeah. Well, minion of Satan or 
not," O'Neill shrugged, "that's ancient history."

MacLeod nodded slowly. "I want in, Methos. That's why I'm here. 
Anything serious enough to get your attention has to be important. And 
if it means anything like Culloden ever happening again -- anywhere -- 
I want to make it stop. I didn't stand by for the Nazis or the 
Fascists, and I'm not standing on the sidelines for this."

Methos looked at Jack with an "I told you so" expression and shrugged. 
"It's your decision, Colonel."

O'Neill smiled. "I'll tell you what. Let me talk to my superiors and 
see what we can come up with."

"Jack?!" Methos uttered, surprised.

"Look, Pierson. It has occurred to us that an elite force of Immortal 
shock troops, say about a dozen, would be of enormous benefit. We're 
hanging out in the open with our pants down here," he reminded the 
Immortal forcefully. "We'll take anything that might give us even a 
slight advantage. And it would," he added knowingly. "Go a long way 
toward calming any fears about Immortal loyalties others might have."

Methos sighed and nodded. One didn't have to be prescient to see that 
the days of Immortals remaining safely hidden from the larger world 
were probably numbered. And having already established themselves on 
the side of humanity would put paid to any notion of what might happen 
should the Prize be won. Not that he believed in the myth of ruling 
over humanity, but the idea behind it might appeal to some as a 
rallying cry against Immortals. Having Big Brother on their side could 
help nip that kind of insanity in the bud before the massacres 

"Listen, Duncan. Give Jack some time to sort this out. You're staying 
in town?" 

MacLeod nodded. "At the Orange Tree Inn, just off the highway."

"Great. Let's say we get together for dinner later on. Seven okay?"

"Fine by me."

"In the meantime, you can maybe think about any others you know who 
might be willing to join up."

"You really think that's a good idea?" MacLeod asked nervously.

"This concerns all of us, Mac. If we don't get involved there may be 
nothing left to get involved in, if you take my meaning."

"Shit!" MacLeod grimaced. "That bad, huh?"


Duncan's expression went very still. "I'll see what I can come up 
with. Have Dawson check a few names. Maybe put out some feelers."

"Good. We'll see you then."

As MacLeod returned to his car Jack stared after him then looked at 
Methos. "You guys have done this before," he stated simply.

"Actually, we haven't," Methos gave him a sad smile. "But most of us 
have spent at least a portion of our lives fighting. Either singly or 
in massed combat with very little choice in the matter. Tactics and 
strategy are the necessary tools of our survival. And as you know they 
have a language all their own."

"Yes, they do," he agreed softly. "Let's go talk to Hammond. He'll 
need to be briefed before we can make any moves." Methos nodded. "And 
it'll have to have Presidential approval." At that, Methos' eyes went 
wide. "Don't worry, he knows what's at stake here."

Methos didn't like it, but what could he do? MacLeod had forced the 
issue. And once Mac became involved in anything he'd set his mind to, 
the big Scot would never let it go. 

Ah well, if it came down to a war against Immortals, Methos thought 
with a secret smile, he'd just evacuate himself the hell out. He'd 
been going through Daniel's reports on some of the worlds they'd 
visited and a few didn't look half bad. Surely one would be safe 
enough to call home for a while.


The meeting with General Hammond had gone well, better than Methos had 
expected. The only people in the government who were going to know 
about Immortals in general were the Joint Chiefs and the President -- 
who told nobody anything -- not even themselves. As far as anyone else 
was concerned, if they could gather together enough participants, the 
identities of the team members would remain 'need to know' only.  And 
since no one really needed to know, Methos felt sure they would be 
safe. As for himself, it was agreed that Adam Pierson would continue 
as he was, with no one, not even the other Immortals, any the wiser 
about Methos.

With a couple of hours left before he and Jack needed to head over to 
Mac's hotel, Methos decided to check in on Daniel and see what he'd 
come up with on those scans. Returning to his work room he was 
surprised not to find him there, but then perhaps Daniel had gotten 
tired and gone back to his quarters. As he started leave Methos 
glanced at the table, staring in shock at the empty stands where the 
tablets had been. His eyes quickly turned to the corner where he'd 
stacked the cases, finding them missing as well.

"Son of a bitch! Daniel!" he hissed furiously, stalking out of the 
room. Now where would the brat have taken them? He stopped the first 
person he passed in the corridor, asking if they'd seen Dr. Jackson. 
After three tries he finally found someone who knew and was directed 
to an empty staging area on another level. 

After a short search he found the room. And, angrier than he'd been 
since this whole thing had started Methos flung open the door with a 
foul curse…and tripped. Shouting in surprise he rolled, trying to 
disentangle himself from the obstacle -- Daniel's crutches by the 
sound of it -- and put a hand out to steady himself.

"Shit!" Methos gasped, yanking his hand back as he touched something 
hard and cold then felt a surge of energy racing up his arm. "No!" He 
scrabbled back, at last seeing Daniel and Major Carter parked in front 
of a bank of portable monitors near the door.

"What the hell was that?!" Daniel demanded, trying to rise. While 
Methos could only shake his head, staring in horror at the large 
contiguous octagon in which the tablets had been laid out.

"Pierson?" he heard Carter ask as he uselessly grabbed his head, 
feeling overwhelmed by the awful noise of a tremendous buzz. A moment 
later the tablets began to pulse with power.

"Get out!" Methos shouted as he finally made it to his feet, doubling 
over as he staggered away from them and from the tablets which had 
suddenly begun to glow. "Get MacLeod!" 

Suddenly, a single column of energy rose from the tablets like a tower 
of light. It searched the room, moving sinuously past the two mortals 
as if they weren't even there. Then it focused on Methos, hauled back 
like a fist and slammed into him hard.

By the door, the two horrified spectators saw him thrown across the 
room until he was pinned to the far wall by the sheer force of the 
energies involved. Then the tablets began to rise above the floor as 
they metamorphosed into a solid golden ball. This too began to alter 
itself almost immediately. Growing brighter and more translucent so 
that Carter and Daniel were forced to huddle against the wall 
shielding their eyes. Then suddenly it too joined in the stream of 
light piercing the ancient Immortal until it seemed that every last 
particle of energy was trying to fill him up.

How long this went on Methos didn't know, his mind was overwhelmed 
with images. Times and places worlds apart that meant nothing to him. 
And at some point he even saw himself. Young and, god help him, tiny. 
Quite literally a babe in arms. And he knew who it was who held him. 
Knew the man who fed and clothed and raised him up to call him Father. 
And when his own insignificant form could take no more, Methos 
screamed and went on screaming as bolt after bolt of lightening shot 
out of his body to send the SGC into electronic chaos before 
ricocheting back in a vain attempt to be reabsorbed.

But it was all too much. The power of this bizarre Quickening, the 
staggering amounts of information cascading into his brain, the sheer 
volume of the knowledge being provided was more than Methos could 
handle for a time. And he found himself a safe place in his mind to 
hide and prayed to a god he didn't believe in to please, just let this 
pass him by.


"How long has he been like this?" General Hammond wanted to know.

O'Neill shook his head, staring in awe as Methos somehow hung 
suspended in mid-air, hands folded against his chest, eyes closed as 
if he were merely sleeping, surrounded by a nimbus of blue-white 
light. "He was like this when I got here." Jack swallowed hard and 
nodded to the clutch of people on the other side of the door. "Carter 
and Daniel were with him."

"Dr. Fraiser?" the general asked as he stepped over. "How are they?"

The petite woman shrugged. "A few cuts and bruises from when things 
exploded in here. And Carter's hands are a little singed -- apparently 
she tried to get him down after the fire works stopped. Other than 
that, they're fine."

"And Pierson?"

The doctor shook her head. "We can't get close enough to tell. Now 
that the back-up generators are running, we can set up some monitoring 
equipment and see what turns up. I'll keep you apprised."

"Very good," Hammond nodded and turned to O'Neill as she moved away. 
"Think he's still alive?" he asked quietly.

"Well, his head's still attached to his neck, sir. I think that's a 
good sign."

"Right," the general nodded uncertainly. "Find out what happened here, 
Colonel. Let me know if anything changes. I'll be in Operations."

As soon as Hammond was gone Jack went over to Samantha and Daniel, 
taking them out to the corridor to give the medical team room to work. 
"Everything okay you two?"

"Fine, sir," Carter responded as Daniel nodded.

"I take it you saw what went down?"

"I'm not really sure what I saw," Daniel admitted. "I mean, Adam came 
in and, uh, tripped over my crutches. I guess I didn't hear them 
fall," he babbled apologetically. "His hand came to rest on the 
tablets and there was this weird spark. But it went out of his fingers 
and into the tablets. Then it kind of got sucked back into his hand. 
After that, all hell broke loose and he was shouting for us to get out 
and get him a magloud, whatever that is."

"MacLeod?" Jack asked and looked at Sam. "He asked for MacLeod?"

"That's what it sounded like, sir. But I think Daniel just mentioned 
something important. I hadn't really thought about it, but the first 
day Pierson got here something happened in Daniel's office. Teal'c and 
I had just delivered some of the tablets. I left him looking at the 
first one and something about it literally made him jump. He said it 
was nothing. Just a little static shock from the carpet."

"Uh, Sam, I don't have any carpet in my office," Daniel pointed out.

"I know that," she rolled her eyes. "But it didn't register at the 
time. The air down here is pretty dry and with all the electrical 
equipment around I'm always getting shocked."

"And he always wore gloves whenever he handled them," Jack mused 
thoughtfully. "Said he didn't want to mess them up with his oils or 

Daniel raised an eyebrow. "He told me they gave him a rash."

"Jesus!" Jack shook his head. "So he knew something was wrong when he 
touched them. But why would he hide that from us?"

"Maybe he thought it had more to do with what he is than what we are?" 
Sam suggested. "Those electrical charges looked a lot like what 
General Hammond's friend described."

"But how could he have a Quickie? Only you two were around."

"What are you guys talking about?!" Jackson interrupted angrily. 
"Look, that's my friend in there and you're acting as if there's 
nothing wrong with him. Well, news flash! He's floating in the middle 
of the room and we don't even know if he's dead or alive!"

"It's a long story," Jack sighed. "Carter, fill him in. I'm going to 
do what Pierson wanted."

"And that would be?" Samantha asked.

"Get MacLeod. He's another one and he's right here in town. Oh, and 
Carter?" O'Neill turned back as he suddenly thought of something. "You 
said he fell against the tablets. Well, where the hell are they?"

"They're inside him, sir," she whispered, going a little pale.

Daniel nodded. "I think they're what's holding him up."



Duncan turned at the sound of O'Neill's voice. From the expression on 
his face he could see there was something wrong. 

"Where's Methos?" he asked quietly, hurriedly getting up from his 
stool at the bar.

"Oh, just hangin' around back at the base. In fact, I'm taking you to 
see him now," Jack said as he took his arm.

MacLeod pulled free. "I'm not going anywhere with you until I know 
what's wrong. Where's Methos?"

O'Neill sighed in frustration. "He's back at the base, hanging around. 
I mean literally, MacLeod. Right now, he's floating in mid-air. And 
the last thing he asked for before whatever happened to him nearly 
blew the base sky high, was you. So either you come quietly, or so 
help me, I will shoot your ass and drive back with your corpse."

"Look, if this is a joke you two have cooked up..."

O'Neill pulled out his side arm. "Get in the fucking car."

MacLeod preceded him outside, the other patrons pointedly ignoring 
them. With Cheyenne Mountain just down the road, no one questioned the 
fact that the military had the right to make an arrest when required.

"Aren't you going to cuff me?" MacLeod asked nastily as he climbed 
into the jeep.

"You aren't under arrest," O'Neill muttered as he slammed the door 
shut and raced around to the other side. "I wasn't joking," he said 
after he got in and pulled out of the lot. 

With a start, MacLeod realized he'd never shut the engine off. "No," 
he finally said. "You're not." MacLeod turned in his seat as the car 
peeled onto the highway. "All right then, what's wrong?"

"Just what I said. Pierson was working on something for us and 
apparently it blew up in his face."

"I don't buy it. Methos is smarter than that."

"Whatever you say," O'Neill curtly responded. "Just tell me one thing. 
Would Pierson ever withhold information about something he considered 
dangerous to one of us? To non-Immortals, I mean."

"We call you mortals. And no, Methos would never do that. He might 
avoid the situation entirely after he gave it, but he'd definitely 
give you fair warning."

O'Neill looked relieved. "Okay. But would he keep quiet if he thought 
it might pose a danger to himself?"

"Yeah," MacLeod nodded thoughtfully. "He would. Especially, if he 
thought it could be used against him. But that's absurd, because there 
isn't anything on earth that could be a real danger to one of us, 
unless it's another Immortal with a sword."

"On Earth, you say?"

MacLeod opened his mouth to respond, suddenly looking around as he 
sensed another Immortal presence. "Methos? Stop the car, it's Methos!"

O'Neill barely glanced up from the road. "Pierson's back at the base, 

"No! I just felt him. We have to go back. Stop the car!"

"What do you mean you just felt him?"

"His presence. I felt his presence! It's how we know when another 
Immortal is close. Now turn around and stop the car!"

"MacLeod," Jack insisted. "I swear to you, Pierson is at the base."

There was a long pause and finally MacLeod spoke. "You may be right," 
he responded slowly. "It's the strangest thing, but I can still feel 
him, and if he was back there," MacLeod looked down along the road 
they'd just traveled. "I shouldn't be able to." He shook his head 
which was still buzzing. "How far is the base from here?"

Jack looked to the side, noting the next marker. "About three miles 
out -- and one mile down."

MacLeod's eyes went wide. "That's impossible!"

"Is not!" O'Neill shot back, his tone filled with sarcasm.

"Okay," MacLeod rubbed his forehead, trying to overcome the growing 
noise in his head. "Now, just tell me from start to finish exactly 
what happened..."


O'Neill quickly navigated them through base security, while MacLeod 
looked around, seeing dozens more armed soldiers than there had been 
this morning. He still wasn't sure he believed O'Neill's version of 
events, but then he was in no position to argue.

"Nice set up," MacLeod commented as the elevator traveled down.

"Rehabbed missile silo." Jack shook his head. "Don't ask."

They came out into a corridor lined with guards, none of whom could 
have done a thing to stop the man whose presence had put them on 

"You might just as well let them stand down," MacLeod told the 
colonel. "If it comes to it, I'm probably the only one who can prevent 
him from doing any harm."

"How's that?" O'Neill asked as he led the way, clearly ignoring the 

MacLeod pulled his coat aside to show him the grip of his sword. 
"There's only one reason I can think of why Methos would have sent for 
me. To take his head if something's gone wrong."

At that, O'Neill stopped cold and flung him against the wall, shoving 
his gun under MacLeod's chin. "You lay a finger on him without 
authorization and I'll blow your fucking head off!"

"It's not my choice!" MacLeod growled angrily. "It's his! He's asked 
this of me before, O'Neill. And I've refused. I don't want his head, 
or his Quickening! But if he isn't Methos anymore then he has to be 
stopped. He knew that when he sent for me."

Jack let out a deep breath and eased up just a little. "Why would he 
ever ask you to do something like that?"

"Perhaps because he considers me honorable. There have been times when 
he's been more afraid of the wrong man taking his head and gaining his 
power than he has ever been of dying." MacLeod gave him an ironic half 
smile. "I've managed to avoid it thus far. And I swear on my life, 
Colonel, that I will do nothing unless it's absolutely called for."

"How will we know if it is or not?" O'Neill finally backed off.

"I'm not sure," MacLeod admitted cautiously. "But an educated guess 
says he wants us to find out."

O'Neill stared at him coldly. "Fine. But we make the call."

MacLeod stared thoughtfully at the man and finally nodded. "Agreed."

A moment later and they were standing outside the door. "Major Carter, 
this is Duncan MacLeod." Samantha nodded a brief greeting. "Any 

"About ten minutes ago his eyes opened and closed. Nothing since then, 

O'Neill looked at MacLeod. "That'd be about the time..."

"He felt me coming," MacLeod nodded.

"Right. Come on."

As MacLeod entered the room the sense of presence grew even stronger. 
It certainly felt like Methos, but more than that there was a subtle 
undercurrent of something different. He looked across the room and his 
stomach tightened in shock. Perfectly, utterly calm, Methos hung 
breathless and still above the floor.

MacLeod moved forward slowly. "Clear the room," he told O'Neill. "If 
this goes badly I don't want to see anyone get hurt."

"We're soldiers, MacLeod. Just get on with it."

"No. You made him a promise. Get them out and turn off those monitors. 
Allow him some dignity, Colonel."

"Oh yeah, this is real dignified," O'Neill gestured toward the silent 
Immortal. "He looks like an ad for The Exorcist XX. Death takes a 
holiday -- ten feet off the floor!"

"Colonel, please!"

With a sigh, Jack ordered the monitors off and everyone out, then 
crossed his arms and stood staring at MacLeod.

Duncan took a deep breath and suppressed a shudder. One wrong move and 
O'Neill would kill him, of that he was certain. What had Methos had 
done to engender such loyalty? Then again, did he really want to know?

Ignoring the psychic daggers stabbing him in the back, MacLeod moved 
forward. Ten feet, twenty. When he was an equal distance away from 
Methos he held out his arm and brushed it against the radiant nimbus 
of light. It sparked against his finger tips and he felt the pull of 
those Quickening energies inside him answering the call. This was 
amazing! He'd never even heard of anything like it before. And it was 
caused by some alien artifact? 

He stepped within the corona and the buzzing within his head suddenly 
died. "Methos?" MacLeod whispered as if afraid to wake what lay within 
the sleeping man. "Methos?" he repeated more firmly.

"Hello again, Mac."

He nearly jumped out of his skin as the luminescent eyes opened.

"Am I late for dinner?"

Without warning, the light surrounding the ancient Immortal suddenly 
winked out and Methos dropped heavily to ground. MacLeod rushed 
forward, halting just outside of grabbing distance.

"Methos?" MacLeod asked, laying a hand on the hilt of his sword. From 
behind, Duncan heard the deliberate sound of a trigger cocking. If 
they got out of this, he decided, very much annoyed, he was going to 
have to seriously reconsider his position on Methos' continued 
existence. "Do you remember why you sent for me?"

The writhing Immortal groaned, clutching his broken ankle. "Of course 
I remember, you nit wit! To take my head in case something had gone 
horribly wrong."

"And what do you think about that now?"

"That if you don't get your stupid, ignorant, blue painted arse over 
here and give me a hand, I'll be obliged to take your own stupid, 
ignorant, blue painted head off!"

He removed his hand from his coat and turned to Jack. "It's him," he 
sighed in disgust, walking away. The crisis was over. Let Methos' new 
friends deal with his whining. Whatever the hell that was, he thought 
as his empty belly grumbled loudly, he'd rather worry about it on a 
full stomach.


"And how is my favorite minion this fine morning?" O'Neill asked, 
altogether too cheerful as he sauntered into the infirmary.

"Hungry," Methos responded petulantly as he pushed aside a plateful of 
bland scrambled eggs. "And how did I suddenly get to be your minion?"

"Don't you read the papers?" Jack puffed up his chest. "I am the Great 

"For now," Methos smirked. "Just don't let it go to your head. I may 
want that title back in another millennium."


The conversation paused as Dr. Fraiser came over with a clip board.

"He ready to be sprung yet, Doc?"

Fraiser sighed and shook her head, extremely puzzled. "Well, I can't 
find anything wrong with him. All the test results came back negative. 
We've scanned for everything we know how to scan for -- and a few 
things our techs came up with on the spur of the moment. Even his limp 
is gone. He's completely, impossibly normal."

Methos smiled widely, hiding his relief as the doctor disconnected him 
from the monitors and returned to her duties. Whatever energies his 
Quickening was made up of apparently hadn't registered on their 

"You look like the cat that ate the canary," O'Neill commented as he 
waited for Methos to finish dressing.

"I always look like this after I've taken a 10,000 year old 

Jack's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You told Hammond you couldn't 
remember anything."

Methos nodded. "Last night I didn't. It sometimes takes a while for 
things to settle down in here," he tapped his forehead. "I very nearly 
lost myself in the midst of it. One of the things I hate most about 
Quickenings," he confided. "Everybody else's bits and pieces. Not to 
mention the flotsam and jetsam of everything they've picked up from 
others over the years. I was on my way back when Mac showed up. Thanks 
to you, by the way," he nodded and Jack waved it off. "Seeing him 
helped ground me -- literally and figuratively speaking. Otherwise, I 
might have still been up there."

"So that's not something that happens normally," Jack concluded.

"Not as far as I know," Methos agreed. "But then Tok'ra was an unusual 

O'Neill stared at him for a long moment. "I think we'd better call a 

Methos tied his last boot lace and sighed, looking forlornly back at 
his barely touched breakfast dishes. "Could I at least get something 
decent to eat? I was sort of hung up during dinner."


Methos was finishing up the last of his biscuits and gravy when Daniel 
carefully negotiated the conference room and sat next to him. Silenced 
reigned for nearly a full minute until Methos turned to stare at his 
friend. "What?!" he finally asked in exasperation.

"You could have told me, Adam," Daniel responded, his tone filled with 

"Told you what?" Methos calmly poured another cup of coffee. "Told you 
my name? My age? My entire life story? Something I've barely spoken of 
to anyone in nearly two thousand years. Who are you that I should put 
my life in your hands?"

Daniel flushed and shifted uncomfortably. "You're right. I'm sorry. It 
was presumptuous of me to think..."

"To think you were different?" Methos smiled kindly. "You are 
different, Daniel. You're my friend. And while I do appreciate that, 
let me remind you that I am not an icon. I'm just a guy trying to 

There was not much left to say as the general entered followed by 
O'Neill, Teal'c, Carter and MacLeod.

"Dr. Pierson," Hammond nodded in his direction as they took their 
seats. "I trust you're feeling better this morning?"

"Right as rain, feet firmly planted on the ground," Methos responded 

"Glad to hear it," the general smiled. "Now," he began, growing 
serious. "Can you tell us why you saw fit not to inform anyone that 
you were having a problem with the tablets?"

Methos took a deep breath and pushed his tray aside. "I wasn't exactly 
having any problems. The tablets seemed to be reactive to my 
Quickening. Why? I couldn't tell you. I've never seen anything like it 
before. Was I worried? Not really. I frankly didn't know what to be 
worried of. Did I think it concerned you as mortals? No. I did not. I 
was hired to do a job, so I put on a pair of gloves and got to work."

The general nodded and leaned forward. "You were afraid we'd use that 
information against you, weren't you?" When Methos remained silent the 
general went on. "You don't have to answer that, son. I know you were. 
I'd have been afraid too. But I want you to understand something. My 
people can and will protect you, but we need to know what to protect 
you from. We can't do that if you're not forthcoming with us. This 
whole mess could have been avoided if you'd simply trusted us."

"Those are fine sentiments, General Hammond. But what would you have 
done if I'd told you the tablets were feeding me power ten times my 

"They what?" Duncan blurted, stunned. "That can't happen!"

Methos just looked at him and shrugged. He really didn't understand it 

Ignoring MacLeod's outburst the general answered Methos' question. 
"What would we have done? We'd have run more tests on the tablets. 
And, if you were willing, on your reaction to the tablets. In any 
case, everything would have been done in a controlled environment, 
with your safety very much in mind."

"My safety was never in doubt, General. My sanity was. And I would 
never have agreed to any sort of experimentation. I don't want power. 
And..." Methos struggled to find the words until he finally looked at 
MacLeod. "You tell them, Duncan."

MacLeod nodded and sighed. "Only once has a Quickening ever been 
recorded. Luckily, I destroyed the only copy."

"But why?" Samantha asked. "The amount of energy I observed... If it 
could be studied and quantified. One day even harnessed--"

"We're not some damned power plants!" MacLeod heatedly interrupted. 
"We're men and women! Some of us might be willing to make certain 
sacrifices for the sake of mortals, but to give up our lives to make 
your engine run faster is not an option!"

"He's correct, Major Carter," Hammond added. "And as I understand it, 
none of our equipment has been able to detect one iota of evidence 
that this energy even exists." Carter looked ready to rebut his 
argument, but he held up a hand. "I know, you think you can eventually 
figure it out. But at what cost? I will not authorize any undertaking 
in the pursuit of something that might end in death or derangement for 
those involved. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," Carter nodded, clearly disappointed.

"All right then, let's move on."

What followed was a brief account from Daniel and Carter as to what 
had happened from their point of view and an even briefer one from 
Methos'. He was more surprised than they were to find out that the 
tablets had somehow metamorphosed and were even now inside him, but 
then that explained a lot.

"Would you like to elaborate on that?" Hammond asked.

Methos shrugged. "I believe it was as Daniel suspected. That the 
tablets were in fact Tok'ra's carapace."

"Ah, you've lost me," O'Neill suddenly interjected. "Are you saying 
the Ancients were bugs?"

Methos grinned. "No, I'm saying the Ancients were probably somehow 
related to Immortals. And somewhere along the line they learned to 
manipulate the energy of the Quickening. To use it in such a way that 
they could, for want of a better word, transmogrify."

Taking a deep breath Methos tried to explain. "To understand, you need 
to know a few things. First and foremost that when an Immortal takes a 
Quickening he gains not just the other party's power, but his or her 
knowledge and life experience. Not all of it, of course -- that would 
drive us insane. But a good portion of those memories that were 
considered important."

Methos smiled ruefully. "The bigger the Quickening the more 
information. And I learned a bloody lot from Tok'ra," he sighed. "Now, 
let me tell you a story...

"Eons ago Tok'ra was given a choice. He could join the other Ancients 
on some kind of spiritual journey, or he could remain behind," Methos 
began quietly. "But Tok'ra had a friend. A man who had been taken over 
by a sentient parasite. Morgot, had been among a large group of 
colonists who, after landing on their brave new world, were 
systematically taken over. Now, it wasn't deliberate, mind you. At 
least not the first time. The symbiots didn't know they were 
parasites. It was an accident. One of the colonists was in the wrong 
place at the wrong time. But then, that's how these things happen.

"Of course, not all of the symbiots were evil. Like all beings 
everywhere there were both good and bad among them. The first to blend 
though was. It saw the benefits of not mucking about in the slime and 
decided it liked technology -- and perhaps more of its friends would 
like it too. So, it introduced a number of its brethren into hosts. 
That's how Morgot became joined.

"As it turned out, some of the symbiots weren't interested in the 
things the first Goa'uld was. Some actually liked their hosts. Wanted 
to experience life with them. Others wanted to take the colony ships 
and find bigger and better worlds with more technology to exploit. 
Naturally, they fought. Unfortunately, the good guys lost. Morgot and 
his companions fled through the Stargate they'd discovered on their 
world, which is how he ran into Tok'ra. They became friends and it was 
Tok'ra who helped broker the defensive alliance among the galactic 
powers once they realized the danger the Goa'uld represented. But the 
alliance wasn't the declaration of war Morgot had wanted. He was 
disappointed that anyone not of the five great powers would not be 
protected, so he convinced Tok'ra to help him stem the tide of 
invasion in those areas where the alliance's writ did not run. So, off 
they went on their mission of mercy.

"Now, as I said, Tok'ra was given a choice, and it was right around 
this time Morgot became ill. He was, in fact, dying. Not the symbiot, 
but the mortal body of the host. Since there was no other willing body 
around, Tok'ra decided to manipulate his own energy field, I suppose 
you'd call it, in order to save at least one of his friends. 
Otherwise, the Ancients, like Immortals, are immune. Apparently, 
Quickening energies tend to fry the poor buggers. And for some reason, 
taking Morgot into his body prevented Tok'ra from joining the other 
Ancients. He was content though. And, inspired by his new relationship 
with Morgot, headed off again to confront the Goa'uld. This time, 
instead of hit or miss guerrilla runs, they were going to build an 

Methos' storytelling was suddenly interrupted by the sound of the 
klaxon alerting them that the Stargate was in use.

"That would be Jacob," General Hammond announced as he excused himself 
and went to greet his old friend.

Methos leaned across the table toward O'Neill. "Has MacLeod seen...?"

Jack shook his head and grinned. "Now's as good a time as any, I'd 

"Come on, Mac. Time to see the elephant," Methos told him, getting to 
his feet.

"What's this about?"

"Well," Methos began, leading the way to the gate room. "You know 
there are aliens involved in this, right."

MacLeod snorted in disbelief. "So I've been told. But I haven't seen 
anything yet that would convince me. You floating in mid air from an 
unusually large Quickening sounds more like something Connor once told 
me about the Quickening he took from the Kurgan, rather than a visit 
from ET."

"Then hopefully what you are about to see will convince you. If not, 
I'll ask Teal'c to show you his tummy."

"The guy with the gold stamp on his forehead? Are you trying to tell 
me he's an alien?"

"No, he's perfectly human. It's the larval Goa'uld incubating inside 
him that's the alien."

"Right!" MacLeod rolled his eyes and followed him into the gate room 
just as the wormhole exploded outward.

"Mother of God!" MacLeod shouted as he flung up his arms and jumped 

"Oh relax, Duncan, it's only an energy vortex," Methos smirked. 
"Happens every day around here."

At that instant, Jacob stepped through the Stargate.

"He's not an alien!" MacLeod whispered after getting a good look at 
the man.

Jacob turned in his direction and smiled as his eyes started to glow. 
"You're right," came the deep vibration of Selmak's voice. "Only one 
of us is from another planet. And she's a girl."

MacLeod muttered something in Gaelic and Methos chuckled. 

Selmak raised one of Jacob's eyebrows. "What did he say?"

Methos grinned. "My friend here says he likes girls, but you'll 
forgive him if he doesn't ask you out. You seem to be missing certain 
equipment he considers crucial to the process."

Selmak laughed. "Tell him perhaps next time I won't be and we shall 
have to plan for that." Suddenly, Jacob came to the fore. "Hey, you! 
Stop hittin' on my girl! Get your own damn symbiot if you want one so 

At that MacLeod shut his mouth, obviously determined to keep it that 
way as Methos just stood there and laughed.

A few minutes later they were all back in the conference room, Methos 
enjoying the presence of a very subdued Duncan MacLeod.

"I'm sorry I'm late," Jacob said as he settled into a chair. "But we 
have what could be a serious problem and I wanted to wait until the 
last of our scout ships reported in. We've detected an unknown fleet 
massing in a sector just outside of Goa'uld space."

"That would be Inanna," Methos interjected, smiling sardonically at 
the shocked faces around the table. "I was trying to tell you, I just 
hadn't gotten to that bit yet."

"Well?" Hammond gestured for him to move it along.

"Right. To recap for our late comers... Tok'ra joined with Morgot, 
determined to build an army capable of attacking the major Goa'uld 
strongholds simultaneously. The problem turned out to be that while 
there was support for this endeavor from many systems, there was also 
no cohesive power base to bring them together. Each of them wanted 
Tok'ra to lead their forces and none was willing to compromise with 
any other."

"Yes," Selmak interjected. "This is what our legends tell us. But how 
Tok'ra overcame this, we do not know."

"I was about to tell you," Methos complained again at the 
interruption. "Anyway, Tok'ra had a wife. Or, he'd had a wife before 
he blended with Morgot and changed his name to Tok'ra. I'm not sure. 
But, in any event, his wife, Inanna, who'd infiltrated the Goa'uld 
here on Earth, suggested that they gather together all of Morgot's 
companions and as each one's host died, the symbiots could then be 
joined to others like she and Tok'ra, and therefore never die. 
Apparently, Tok'ra's example of remaining behind rubbed off on a 
number of others. They could each take charge of a group of allied 
forces which seemed like a great idea to everyone involved. And, just 
to prove they were on the up and up to the other Ancients, she 
volunteered to go first.

Methos paused and looked slowly around the table. "Problem was, Inanna 
already had a symbiot. And they were the best of friends. Like minds 
and what not. Her plan was to gather together all the good symbiots 
and set them to fighting the bad symbiots in the hope that they would 
destroy each other. Or, at the very least keep each other busy enough 
so that she'd be left alone to consolidate the little empire she was 
planning to establish. More importantly, she knew how to destroy 
Tok'ra and his friends. And they were her biggest problem."

Selmak leaned forward. "This is not in our archives."

"No," Methos agreed. "I'm sure it's not. But this is Tok'ra's story as 
he recalls the events."

Selmak sat back and simply nodded. "I am listening, Companion of 

"First of all, I wasn't his companion. I was his student."

"So you have lived for over 10,000 years," Carter nodded.

"Technically," Methos shrugged. "But I spent most of the first half of 
that under a couple of tons of rock. So, we can't really count that as 
living, now can we?"

"Ten thousand?" MacLeod murmured, awe struck.

"Five or ten, Mac, what's the difference? It's all just numbers. Now, 
can I get on with this story before Inanna shows up? She won't wait to 
start shooting while we finish having tea and biscuits."

"Please," General Hammond told him, eyes widened with shock.

"Thank you," Methos nodded politely. "Inanna's plan was to have 
Tok'ra's forces either crush, or at least severely damage the Goa'uld, 
then she would turn and destroy Tok'ra. Of course he trusted her. And 
when the battle was done, and Tok'ra had gathered together all his 
forces to celebrate, she killed them all. Only, she missed me, because 
I was still mortal and very dead after the first few shots."

"But what about the carapace?" Daniel asked. "Why didn't it protect 

Methos sighed. "Because he loved and trusted Inanna. Somehow, she'd 
gotten close enough to strike from the inside. The carapace was an 
extension of Tok'ra, a sort of protective covering, and when it 
shattered a portion of his Quickening remained within the parts. 
Without knowing exactly what it was, Inanna took what she thought were 
the pieces of a very advanced fighter and brought them home as a 
trophy for her wall. Then you found them, and I touched them and what 
was left of Tok'ra's essence remembered me. The rest is as they say, 

"But how do you know Inanna is coming here?"

"Because, my friends, she, and not her late husband, or his dead 
followers, established the Tok'ra."


"So what haven't you told them, Methos?" MacLeod asked as they stood 
outside the entrance to the SGC compound. They were waiting for a car 
to take Mac back to his hotel and this was as good a chance as any for 
them to talk in private.

Methos didn't even bother to hide his smile. "How Inanna managed to 
kill Tok'ra."

"Which was?"

"They exchanged tokens before they parted. Her own necklace blew his 
head off."

MacLeod flinched at the thought. "Good call. But," Duncan sighed. 
"I've never heard of a Quickening being that detailed. Let alone of 
something as odd as a partial Quickening. Images, yes. Even words 
sometimes. "

"Well, that's the other thing I didn't mention. I now have all of 
Tok'ra inside." MacLeod brows rose in disbelief, but the big Scot 
nodded for him to go on and Methos sighed. 

"I was mortal and acting as his aide. Tok'ra usually kept me close. 
Except for that time, when he went in alone. Of course, I was waiting 
there to meet him after the battle. Inanna's ships came in low as if 
to land and started firing. Like I said, I was killed in the very 
first strike." Methos shrugged and looked away. "I'm not sure how long 
it took for me to revive, but almost as soon as I did his Quickening 
hit me. You can imagine what that was like. The next thing I knew the 
entire world seemed to be falling in on me. I think the magnitude of 
that Quickening, even split as it was, shook the planet. When I woke 
up -- I think an earthquake must have moved the rock -- I didn't know 
who I was, or where I came from. Just the name had stuck. When I 
touched the tablets the rest of Tok'ra pretty much dashed inside and 
some of those memories came back. Don't ask me to explain it, Mac. 
That's just the way it was."

"So, these Ancients were Immortals?"

Again Methos shrugged. "More like super Immortals if you ask me. Or 
maybe, Immortals who grew old without the Game and learned to use 
their Quickenings for something other than a light show. I can't 
honestly say, Mac. I really don't know. "

MacLeod shook his head and sighed as the car finally pulled up. "It's 
certainly given me something to think about."

"You're not alone."

MacLeod smiled. "By the way," he said as he began to climb inside. 
"Tell your friend O'Neill he needs to ease up on that trigger happy 
finger of his."

"Jack? Why? What happened?"

"I don't know how or why you've conned him into thinking you're god's 
gift to this green earth, but next time you send for me, make sure the 
cavalry knows I'm on your side."

"He threatened you?"

MacLeod nodded. "Big time."

As the car pulled away Methos stared after it, thoughtfully 
considering the possibilities. He'd planned to go it alone, or to at 
least try. But if he could count on O'Neill to back him up... With a 
smile of pure pleasure he turned on his heel and headed back inside.


Methos knocked on the door of Jack's real office, entering as he was 

"MacLeod gone off to rally the Immortal masses?"

"What he can of them. I wouldn't hold my breath, if I were you. 
Immortals don't tend to congregate in groups."

"What, no reunions? No weddings? Nada?"

Methos shrugged. "Reunions tend to be held at the point of a sword. 
Weddings now, those occasionally do occur." Methos looked thoughtful 
for a moment then deliberately changed the subject. "Jacob gone?"

Jack took the hint and nodded. "Yeah. Selmak wasn't happy, but she 
agreed to say nothing about what you told us."

Methos nodded and sauntered into the room to take a seat on the big 
leather couch across from O'Neill's desk. Now this was an office, he 
thought, complete with TV, mini bar and microwave oven. Homey right 
down to the pictures of family and friends littering the credenza and 
the hockey memorabilia on the walls. For a long time Methos just sat 
absorbing the ambiance of the room, until Jack finally stood up and 
took a seat on the other end of the couch.

"All right, Pierson, give. Something's on your mind. What is it?" 

Methos snorted. "There's always something on my mind. Right now I'm 
considering the possibilities."

"Which are?"

He leaned back and crossed his arms. "Alone or with company."

"Company, of course. Now, where are we going and what do I need?"

Methos smiled. "Just your passport."

"And why would I need a passport?"

"Because one generally requires one to get through customs."

"I don't." Methos raised an eyebrow and Jack smiled. "I've got the 
plane, you've got the plan, let's go."

"Just like that?"

"Yeah, come on. Just let me make a couple of calls and we're out of 

"Just like that?" Methos repeated.

"Just like what?" O'Neill asked, obviously amused.

"Aren't you going to ask me where we're going and why?"

"You'll tell me when you're ready."

"Isn't that rather trusting of you?"

"That's the point," he grinned and went back to his desk.

With a shake of his head, because he wouldn't trust himself if he were 
him, Methos waited while Jack notified Hammond they would be off base, 
called the hanger to requisition his personal plane and dashed out a 
quick set of orders. In moments they were gone and on their way.

Four appalling hours and in Methos' mind, at least a thousand stomach 
churning loop the loops later, they landed at a nameless base in 
London which even he hadn't known existed. And apparently, at least 
for this mission, neither did they, thanks Jack's preparations. All of 
which gave Methos a mean case of visa envy. With one set of orders in 
lieu of a passport O'Neill could go anywhere he pleased, be anyone he 
pleased and never have to worry about anyone questioning his identity. 
And as Methos knew very well, no matter how superb the quality of the 
forgery, there was no Immortal immune to that instant of terror when 
the customs agent approached. Maybe there was more to this modern 
military than he'd previously considered?

A car was waiting at the exit and Jack deferred to Methos as he tossed 
him the keys.

"I hate driving on the wrong side of the road."

"It's the right side."

"No, it's the wrong side."

"No, it the right side." As Jack frowned Methos smiled and added, "As 
compared to the left side, of course."

"Whatever!" Jack slammed the door. "Just drive! We've got maybe 24 
hours before the shit hits the fan. So go!"

"I'm going, I'm going!" Methos laughed. "Relax. We'll be there in 
twenty minutes."

"And where is there by the way?"

"Home. I need to get something."

"I see," Jack responded dryly. A moment later he turned in his seat 
and exploded. "What do you mean we're going to your house?! What'd you 
do? Forget your favorite CD?"

"Now that you mention it..." He relented as Jack began to turn a 
little too red. "Okay. We're going to get something that should get us 
into Inanna's stronghold."

"Oh." Jack sat back, looking mollified. "That's a good thing."

"Just remind me to pick up those CD's on the way out." O'Neill groaned 
in disgust. "As long as we're here mind you."

A short while later they pulled up in front of Methos' old manor 

"You live here?" Jack asked, astounded as they trotted up the front 

"No," Methos responded sarcastically. "We're breaking in."


Methos rolled his eyes as he unlocked the front door and turned on the 
lights. Everything had been under drop clothes since he'd decided to 
join the Watchers and a light layer of dust shrouded the room.

"I think you need to fire your housekeeper," Jack commented 
sardonically as he followed the other man inside.

"That dear sweet lady? Never! Although," Methos added thoughtfully. 
"I've been gone so long she might be dead. Oh, well," he went on with 
a shrug. "She'll have left the position to her daughter, or maybe her 
granddaughter by now."

Jack stared at him in disbelief, refusing to dignify the idea of 
hereditary maid work with a comment. Especially, maids that apparently 
didn't have to clean anything.

"This way," Methos smiled. "It's in the museum wing."

"You have a museum in your house?"

"No, I have a wing where I keep old things. My things."

"That's too strange for words," Jack shook his head staring at the 
eclectically decorated rooms.

"Well, I'd keep them in the attic but there's not enough space."

"Try the garage."

"I have six cars in there. No room."

Jack just shook his head and followed. "The rich are weird."

Methos chuckled, leading the way through a gallery filled with art 
works by the great masters, known and unknown, which he'd collected 
over the centuries. As they passed through a series of corridors, 
Methos pointed out which era each room contained.

"The room to your left was my Renaissance period."

Jack looked in to see a hall crammed with every bit of paraphernalia 
from horse riggings to clothing and shook his head. And he though he 
was a pack rat!

After a couple more rooms on the same order, he threw up his hands in 
exasperation. "Ah jeez, its Super Daniel!"

"Hey!" Methos complained. "This is my stuff. Okay? You have your stuff 
and I have my stuff. No one's stuff is better than anyone else's. 
Besides," he added, slightly aggrieved. "This is just a small fraction 
of what I did have. Most of it was lost. Although, every now and then, 
something turns up at an auction or estate sale and I get lucky and 
bring it home."

Jack was about to make a smart ass remark when he recalled what 
Hammond had told him. Immortals couldn't have children. And the 
wistful expression in Methos' eyes when he'd spoken about weddings 
meant they had little hope of a normal life with friends and family. 
This, he looked around more understanding of it's purpose, was 
essentially a poor man's substitute. No wonder he treasured his bits 
and pieces.

"Kidding aside," Jack told him kindly. "Someday you'll have to let me 
come back here and explore."

Methos turned to look at the other man, surprised at the warmth in his 
voice. "Of course. Just don't bring Danny. He'll walk into the 
Egyptian room and we wouldn't see him again until he was old."

"He'd die in there," Jack insisted. "And then we'd have to stick him 
in one of those mummy cases."

"Now there's an idea," Methos grinned. "I have several to choose 

They finally reached the Roman exhibition hall and Jack hung back in 
awe. Room after room of shields, swords, chariots, and even furniture.

"How'd you manage to save all this stuff?" he asked as he followed 

"Stored it in the wine cellars, of course. I lived here once, right 
before the Christians took it over. See that little beauty?" Methos 
pointed to one of the smaller chariots. "I drove her for the Greens 
before Tiberius at the Coliseum and won. Had my pick of any man or 
woman in Rome that night," he added proudly. Methos looked back over 
his shoulder and smiled. "Look, this may take a few minutes. I have to 
find the damned thing. So, why don't you have a look around."

He left Jack to his wanderings and headed for the far side of the hall 
where he'd neatly stacked several dozen trunks. Methos scratched his 
head as he examined the boxes. He knew it was in one of them, but 
which? He'd packed it away so long ago and never gotten it out again, 
even when the need to hide it had ended that the only clear memory he 
had was of laying it up with his clothing. "Best just get started," he 
sighed and grabbed the first of them.

It was just as hard as ever, he realized after a time of shifting and 
sorting, to go through these old, dear things without pausing every 
now and again to relive the memories. There was the fine, white cloak 
he'd worn to Publius' party and the wine stain the fuller had never 
managed to get clean. And here the leather sandals with gold 
embroidery he'd received as a wedding present from Clodia three months 
before she'd died of the fever, while beneath it lay his gift to her. 
A scarlet gown of rare silk from Chin, hemmed in silver fringe and 
stitched with fanciful winged creatures. He could never bear to part 
with any of it. Each little trinket, even the old clay thimble he'd 
used to keep his kit in good repair held a meaning and a memory for 
Methos. Until, at last, he took a deep breath and just got through it.

After perhaps the tenth such walk down memory lane Methos finally 
found it. "Here you are!" he exclaimed as he reached the bottom of the 
trunk. It was wrapped in a piece of medium quality dyed leather. 
Deliberately made to look worthless, although it was in fact the most 
valuable of all his possessions. He took out the pendant and held it 
up to the light. Such a dull looking thing with it's plain, unpolished 
exterior. Yet, it held such meaning for him. It should have born an 
inscription, he knew, like the images of others he now held in his 
memories thanks to Tok'ra. And had he come of age, become an Immortal 
while the Ancient had lived, it would have. Now, thanks to Inanna's 
betrayal, it never would.

Methos put the trunks back where he'd found them and went to find 
Jack. It wasn't that difficult, and when he did he slapped a hand over 
his mouth, biting his lip to keep from laughing out loud. The good 
colonel had on one of his favorite dress helmets, worn only in 
procession, swishing the great plumes around like a drunken ostrich. 
With it he wore a centurion's cloak, while having at the air with a 
cavalry blade. He looked completely ridiculous and utterly charming.

"Having fun?" Methos finally asked, enjoying the sight of O'Neill 
playing dress up.

"Oh yeah!" He whirled about and nearly fell over as he tried to 
properly balance the weight of the helmet.

Methos laughed as Jack looked thoroughly chagrined. "No," he grinned 
when the colonel removed the helm and started to put it back. "Keep 
it. It suits you. But here," he came forward and searched through the 
pile of clothes. "This is the proper tunic and here's the breast plate 
and cloak. And take that short sword by the bust of Apollo instead. 
We'll find you the rest of the gear later." 

It amused Methos no end to see the colonel both flabbergasted and 
deeply touched by his gift.

"Are you sure?" O'Neill asked tentatively, obviously shocked to be 
given the priceless treasures he just happened to be caught playing 

"Yes. I'm sure."

Jack nodded. "Thank you," he said gravely. "I promise to look after 
them well."

Methos simply smiled, understanding the unsaid words O'Neill could not 
express. That not only had he been given something of great monetary 
value for the excellent condition they were in, but of great personal 
value as well, which was far more important to both of them. Jack now 
had a piece of Methos' own history to remember their friendship and to 
know that no matter what happened something of the ancient Immortal 
would always be with him.

"So, did you find what you were looking for?" Jack finally asked as 
they left the room and started back.

"Right here," Methos held it up for inspection.

"Ah... Nice necklace. What's it got to do with Inanna?"

Methos grimaced. "It's not a necklace, it's like a bulla."

"Well, bulla for you, but it looks like a necklace to me."

With a sigh Methos handed it over. "A bulla was the Roman equivalent 
of an ID bracelet. Children wore them until they came of age and were 
initiated into whatever sacred rites their parents decreed. Then the 
bulla would be symbolically sacrificed to the gods."

"So what makes this one so special?"

"It was the only thing I was wearing when I woke up in that pile of 
rubble five thousand years ago. And," he reached out and scratched the 
surface until the cheap silver dip he'd put on some 1500 years earlier 
flaked away. "I think it's made of the same stuff as the Stargate."

"Your point being?"

"Really, Colonel," Methos drawled, taking it back and tucking it into 
his pocket. "You don't imagine you're the only ones to ever come up 
with the idea of transmitting an identification signal when passing 
through the Stargate, do you?"


Methos gave a last tweak to the detonator and stood back, admiring his 
handiwork. Inanna had always liked pretty things as he recalled. 
Fitting the thin filigree sheath of gold and tiny gemstones around the 
pendant and chain of naqueda had been easy. Setting and connecting the 
tiny charges within the hasps which held the jewels in place had been 
hard. Harder yet, he frowned as he critically examined the work, would 
be wearing the damn thing until he could exchange it with Inanna.

With a sigh he placed the bulla in the small bomb proof case O'Neill 
had provided, clipping the detonator, made to look like an innocuous 
cell phone, to his belt. Behind him, the door to his work room opened 
and he turned to find Jack waiting patiently.

"Teal'c on board?"

O'Neill nodded. "He wasn't pleased about leaving Hammond and Carter 
out of the loop, but I think he understands."

"And you have no problem with this?" Methos asked, already knowing the 

"I'm a soldier," Jack replied. "I do what I have to for the sake of my 

Methos shook his head. "This isn't a soldier's mission. It's an 

"We make the hard choices here," O'Neill smiled grimly. "This is one 
of them. If we can stop Inanna before the fleet launches I'm willing 
to accept the consequences."

Methos nodded. What they were about to do would never be sanctioned, 
but the powers that be might look the other way after the fact as long 
as they succeeded. If not... Well, Methos didn't really think that 
would be a problem. Either they'd be dead and the world along with 
them, or Inanna would be no more.

"You have the stuff?" Methos asked quietly as he picked up the case 
and they left the work room, heading down to operations.

"Already planted," Jack grinned. "I'll signal Teal'c just before we 
hit the gate room. He'll set off the gas bomb and move into position. 
Once it's locked down we'll have about three minutes while they 
reconfigure the codes."

"And Teal'c?"

"The destination will automatically wipe once we're through. I know 
enough to do that," he added wryly. "But Teal'c will tell them the 
truth. Hammond will understand. So will the others."

Methos nodded. Teal'c would be all right. There was not much they 
could do to him anyway. Not with what he carried inside him and his 
knowledge of the Goa'uld.

"All right then," Methos agreed. "Let's get this show on the road."


It was a simple plan and it worked with simple beauty. Since the 
invasion alert all the SG teams currently off world had either been 
recalled or ordered to stay put. With only a skeleton crew left in 
operations they were easily rendered unconscious by the colorless, 
odorless ether Jack had managed to procure. Now they waited anxiously, 
ignoring the alarms as Teal'c activated the gate.

Methos opened the case and removed the bulla, closing his eyes as he 
slipped the deadly device around his neck.

"Now you're sure that thing will get us through?" O'Neill asked as the 
gateway finally opened.

"Reasonably sure," Methos grinned as he stepped up to the wormhole.

"Reasonably?!" Jack growled. "You said it would!"

Methos shrugged. "Well, there's always plan B."

"Which is?"

"We walk in the door and I shout, 'Hi, Mom! I'm home!'"

At that, Methos stepped through, leaving Jack to stare after him in 

"Jesus!" he hissed. He hadn't even guessed, though he should have 
known. Methos had all but told them truth. She was Tok'ra's wife and 
he the man's mortal student. And Immortals couldn't have children. 
Which meant... 

Jack suddenly felt ill. Methos had known all along and still he'd 
chosen to do this. Jack shuddered at the thought of being forced to 
make such a choice. A choice that took more than simple courage. The 
moral implications alone would have left most individuals unable to 

O'Neill looked back at Teal'c and saluted then stepped through the 
gate, vowing silently that no matter what happened, no one else would 
ever know.


"Looks like it worked," Methos grinned as Jack exited the wormhole.

The colonel glanced around the rather plain reception area, noting the 
lack of guards then stared calmly at Methos, who wordlessly accepted 
the other man's regard. He knew what O'Neill was thinking which was 
why he hadn't said anything before. But morality aside, Inanna had 
killed him once and would do it again if she believed for an instant 
that he was a threat. The trick was to make her certain he wasn't.

Jack nodded once and stepped up beside him. "Let's move out," he 
ordered. "And remember, I want that thing off your neck as soon as you 
can manage it."

"I assure you, that's at the top of my list. And you remember, too," 
he added. "We set it off when we're back at the gate. Not before."

O'Neill shrugged, obviously not understanding. "Sure. Not before we're 
clear. Got it."

"First things first," Methos grimaced as he turned toward the door. 
"The throne room is this way. 

"You've been here before," Jack surmised as Methos easily led them 
through corridor after nearly identical corridor.

"No," the Immortal responded. "But Tok'ra's memories record Inanna as 
being a creature of habit. Disorder is uncertainty to someone like 
her. She'll have copied the old ways as closely as possible and Tok'ra 
knew the layout of her palace."

"So, what are you going to tell her about me? I mean, isn't she going 
to wonder why you didn't come alone?"

"Well, I'd planned on saying you were my servant, but I don't think 
that will fly anymore," he looked pointedly at Jack's gun, though he'd 
deliberately come lightly armed with only a dagger for show. The point 
was to appear harmless and naive. Just a boy and his mom. 

"How about your bodyguard?"

"Why would I need one?" Methos grinned. "No," he sighed regretfully. 
"You'll just have to be my lover."

O'Neill glared at him then shook his head in disgust. "Fine. But if we 
have to spend the night, no stealing the covers."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Methos laughed, then his face went still as 
he sensed her.

They rounded another corner and came face to face with Inanna's 
guards. Methos lifted his chin and said something in a guttural 
language and they parted, allowing both men to pass. A moment later 
they were through the antechamber and into the throne room proper. At 
the far end, Inanna waited, seated on a mound of giant pillows 
surrounded by her retinue.

"Remain here," Methos murmured. "And no matter what I do don't react." 
With that he moved away, giving O'Neill no chance to argue.

He approached Inanna's throne with his eyes respectfully downcast. At 
the foot of the dais he knelt, leaning forward in the crouch to 
lightly kiss the hem of her dress.

"Welcome, Methos."

A cool response, but he'd expected as much. This should warm things 
up. "Greetings, my lady mother."

"My son." A hand reached down and rested gently on his head, 
indicating that he had permission to look at her.

"It is good to see you, Mother," he smiled, noting that she was just 
as beautiful as he recalled. Pale and slim with hair the color of 
midnight. "I feared you were dead. Killed in the final attack which 
the Goa'uld launched against my father's forces."

There, Methos thought smugly, that should give her something to think 

"And I you, my beloved son." She reached out a hand and he took it, 
allowing himself to be drawn up to kneel beside Inanna. "But how did 
you find me, little one? And after so long? Could you not have come 

"The gate was lost and when I awoke from my long sleep of the first 
death I could not find it. Recently, I discovered the humans had not 
only recovered it, but learned how to open it. I came as soon as I 
could, Mother."

"But how did you know where to find me?" she asked again, squeezing 
his fingers a little too hard in her eagerness for a response.

She was so predictable, Methos thought with disgust. "I did only as my 
father bid me," he gave a tentative smile. "He spoke of this place as 
one you and he had found during your wanderings, long before I was 
fortunate enough to receive the generosity of your home. He said that 
if all were lost it would be to here, the place where you were once 
happiest, that you would come."

Tok'ra had never said anything of the sort, but his memories held this 
place to be located close to the fleet she'd amassed and it seemed a 
logical conclusion. In any case, the death grip on his fingers 
loosened and Inanna relaxed, laying back against her pillows.

"Who is the human?" she asked casually, signaling for Jack to come 

Methos nodded imperceptibly for O'Neill to do so. "This is my friend, 

She laughed at his delicate use of the term friend in her language, 
which might mean either playmate or lover.

"Greetings," she said in perfect English, startling both men into 
stunned silence. Still, it confirmed something Methos had only 
suspected. Inanna did not just have spies among the Tok'ra, but 
doubtless had the ability to move among them at will. Or, at least to 
send her symbiot into their midst with no one the wiser. "And does the 
friend of my son have a name?"

"Jim Dandy," O'Neill announced, bowing more gracefully than Methos 
would ever have given him credit for. "A pleasure to finally make your 

"It pleases me also," she smiled sweetly, but Methos could see the 
calculation in her eyes. She might never have seen a gun, but she knew 
a warrior when she laid eyes on one. But then, what else would the son 
of a warrior choose as his companion?

"Come, let us dine together. Then we shall make plans for our future."

"I'm afraid we can't, Mother," Methos announced sadly. "We must return 
to Earth. The Goa'uld are about to launch their forces against our 
friends there." The expression on her face was priceless. "I came only 
to see that you were well and to let you know that I lived, 
maintaining our fight against the common foe."

"Of course you are, dearest. I only wish I were able to help. But my 
ships are scattered and not very powerful."

Methos gently touched her hand. "I have missed you, Mother," he said, 
suddenly feeling the weight of the bulla against his throat. "Would 
you...?" He rested the fingers of his other hand against the pendant.

Inanna smiled. It was an ancient custom among her people, done only 
before battle. Which was how she had managed to overcome Tok'ra.

"Yes," she agreed as she removed her own. "I will keep your name safe. 
And if you should fall, I shall open my throat and speak it daily."

Methos carefully removed the bulla, stilling the trembling in his 
hands by force of will as he held it out and she lowered her neck to 
receive the gift. He did the same, trying desperately not to telegraph 
his sudden fear. Once the chain was firmly clasped he rose.

"I will return soon. I promise, Mother. And then we will visit for 

She nodded, fingering the pretty filigree. It was not customary to 
decorate the bulla, but Inanna seemed pleased. "I shall look forward 
to your return then, my son. Go," she added as Methos turned to leave. 
"Bring back memories to me of your father."

He nodded, his throat suddenly closing up and he needed Jack's arm 
around his shoulder to guide him from the room. As soon as they were 
out of sight of the guards, O'Neill suddenly yanked the chain from his 

"No!" Methos screamed, even as Jack set off the detonator, tossing 
Inanna's bulla back toward the throne room. 

The double explosion knocked them off their feet, but Methos 
desperately scrambled up. "Run!"

"What!" O'Neill yelled as he chased after the terrified Immortal. 
"She's dead!"

But Methos didn't dare look back. "We're too close, damn you! I don't 
want her inside me! Now run!"

"Oh fuck!" he heard Jack shout, but still he wouldn't stop. He didn't 
know how far away he needed to be, but he knew he was still too damn 
close. Her memories, her life. He didn't want any of it. But they were 
nearly at the gate, maybe there would be time enough. Maybe...

"Oh god!" he whispered as he felt the first tiny tendrils of power 
seeking him out as the hot wind of her Quickening howled up the 
corridor. "Hurry, Jack! Hurry!" Methos cried as O'Neill reached the 
DHD and started punching in the address home.

But it was too late, and Methos knew it even as the gate opened and 
the first bolt of energy raced along the walls and surged into the 
gate room. He flung out his arms to steady himself and in the instant 
it struck felt his own Quickening arise within him and burst outward 
in response. It flowed through him and toward Inanna, burning his 
senses as it passed, leaving him lying in a heap at the base of the 
DHD with O'Neill crouched above.

"What the hell?" Methos asked, shielding his eyes the whirling 
maelstrom overhead.

"You're asking me?!" Jack exclaimed, hauling him to his feet and 
dragging him toward the gate as the ground shook with the energies 
exploding around the room. "Let's just get the hell out!" 

They practically fell through the gate, breathlessly tumbling down the 
ramp to the floor as they emerged on the other side. Behind them, the 
iris sealed itself and General Hammond stalked forward. Around the 
room a dozen armed soldiers stood at the ready, the klaxon still 
blaring an alert.

"Is there any reason," Hammond asked curtly. "Why I shouldn't have the 
pair of you immediately arrested?"

"Well, Inanna's dead," Jack gasped, staggering to his feet.

"She is, is she?"

"Permanently so," Methos nodded reassuringly.

"Then why did we just receive word from the Tok'ra that her forces are 
on their way and will be here any time?"

Methos and Jack looked at each other.

"She is dead, General." Methos insisted. "She has to be. I just outran 
her Quickening."

"Then who's leading her forces?!"

"Good question," Jack admitted. "Maybe when they find out they'll just 
turn around and go home," he suggested optimistically.

"Let's hope so, Colonel. For both your sakes, let's hope so."

O'Neill nodded and grabbed Methos' arm pulling him toward the exit. 
Angrily, Hammond turned to stop them.

"Just where the hell do you think you're going now?"

Jack paused to stare in disbelief. "To scramble, sir. We're going to 
need every plane in the air if they get here and decide to fight 

"With him?" the general asked, pointing at Methos, who looked equally 

O'Neill nodded. "He's qualified," was all the colonel had to say as he 
tugged Methos from the room.

"Qualified?! What do mean I'm qualified?" Methos demanded trying to 
break free of Jack's grip as he was pulled down the corridor.

"I just qualified you."

"You're not serious?! I puke in your plane and now I'm qualified to 

"I fly," O'Neill explained as if he were a five year old. "You shoot 
the weapons."

"But that's not--"

"This isn't the movies!" O'Neill shouted as he shoved him into the 

"Why me?" Methos asked, bewildered. "Why not Teal'c or Carter?"

Jack grimaced in annoyance. "Teal'c can fly his own plane. And Carter 
isn't a pilot. She's not even a gunner. And unless it's in space she 
probably can't even navigate. You on the other hand..."

"I couldn't find my way out of a paper bag, honest!" Methos insisted.

"Look, I went with you, now you go with me. Get it?"

"I knew this loyalty thing sucked!" Methos complained. 

The elevator arrived at the surface and O'Neill commandeered a nearby 
jeep to drive them the mile or so to the air field. At the hanger, 
O'Neill ran them to the lockers and tossed Methos a flight suit. With 
a grimace of distaste Methos stripped as Jack ordered and slid into 
the uniform. He really didn't want to do this. Going out in a blaze of 
glory had never been his idea of a good time. But if he ran Jack would 
probably shoot him and drag his dead body along anyway.

"What now?" Methos sighed disgustedly as he followed O'Neill down the 
hall and into the men's room.

"Pee now, fly friendly," was all O'Neill had to say as he whipped it 
out and aimed.

Methos curled a lip and nodded, doing the same. Pissing into an ice 
cold relief tube had been a singular experience during his first 
flight. One he wasn't eager to repeat.

"You know," he muttered as he zipped up after and went to wash his 
hands. "The Romans would never have stood for this."

"Guys in skirts don't have to worry about metal teeth catching 
anything when they need to take a leak. Shall we?"

Methos glared, but followed anyway. Out on the tarmac, empty now that 
they were the last ones to leave, Methos raced alongside Jack to the 
far end where his plane stood waiting. As O'Neill hurriedly removed 
the blocks which kept the plane from rolling in the high winds, Methos 
glanced back at the mountain as he felt the ground begin vibrate and 
every hair on his body stand on end.

"What the--?" Jack looked up and his mouth dropped open as the top of 
the mountain was suddenly engulfed in a cloud of boiling light.

Methos began to backpedal away from the plane. "Get out of here, 
Jack," he ordered. "Take off. Do it now!"

"What the hell is that?" he asked.

Methos shook his head desperately, knowing there was no where to run. 
If it could find him here... "Not what. Who!" he gaped in horror. 
"That's Tok'ra! Now move!"

"I'm not leaving you!" Jack insisted. "Get in the plane!"

"Don't you get it?!" Methos shouted as the monstrous Quickening 
rounded in their direction as it pin pointed his position. "It had to 
have come through gate! You wouldn't be safe with me in there. Now 

"I'm not going anywhere!"

"Then stay back!" Methos snarled and began to run. Distancing himself 
not from the impossibly large, apparently sentient Quickening, but 
away from Jack's proximity. He might survive, but the fool hardy 
mortal wouldn't stand a chance against the power of Tok'ra's energies.

As it barreled down on him, Methos found himself in the middle of the 
field not knowing what to do. Stand and take it, or huddle and hope it 
didn't kill him too many times before it was over? Suddenly it was 
there, swooping down over his head and Methos fell to the ground, 
throwing his arms up in a vain effort to defend against it. Then... 
Nothing. Methos opened his eyes, shaking with a terror so profound a 
small voice inside his head told him he should be grateful he'd 
already emptied his bladder.

Quiet laughter suddenly filled his mind. "This time, Methos," the 
voice rumbled gently through his senses. "I have a moment to ask."

"Tok'ra?" he whispered, trying unsuccessfully to swallow his fear as 
the Quickening surrounded him in a thick roiling cloud of sparkling 
fog. A small finger of vapor reached out to tickle him. "Hey!" Methos 
slapped at it, feeling the static discharge warmly enfolding his hand.

"I said I had a moment, son. Not all the time in the universe to 
answer your questions. We have a fleet to stop, don't we?"


"I need your body, Methos. I cannot fully manifest on this plain 
without a physical form. Inanna's symbiot still lives and seeks 
vengeance for her murder. Now, will you allow our Quickenings to 

Not again! he thought desperately. But what choice did he have at the 
moment? "Just do it!" Methos squeezed his eyes shut, steeling himself 
against the onslaught.

Yet, instead of the intense pain he'd expected, Methos felt a gentle, 
comforting warmth filling places he'd never known existed with a peace 
as profound as his terror moments earlier. There were no gut wrenching 
memories and no colossal blasts of energy to make him scream in agony. 
He felt safe and loved even as he knew he was rising up again, but 
this time he didn't care.

His lack of fear lasted only as long as his eyes were closed. The 
instant he opened them and looked down to see Jack O'Neill a tiny 
figure, growing more indistinct with every second, Methos had to fight 
the urge to grab hold of something.

"Father? What's happening?!"

"I won't drop you," Tok'ra promised, his tone filled with amusement. 

"That's comforting!" Methos snapped, annoyed.

There was more gentle laughter. "Don't be afraid, son. I've gotten you 
safely this far, do you think I'd let anything happen to you now?"

"You what?" Methos asked, confused, trying not to think about the 
stars quickly drawing closer above.

"I couldn't leave you alone and unprotected. Not with Inanna still 

Methos felt something inside him start to squirm with what felt like 
embarrassment. "You were there? With me for everything? You saw?"

The warmth seemed to spread more deeply into his limbs, offering 
comfort. "Yes, son. I saw."

"Death. The Horsemen. The centuries where I..." Methos choked on the 
words. He'd lived so selfishly, so utterly without morals or 
conscience in light of what Tok'ra had taught. "And you said nothing? 
Did nothing to stop me?"

"I am your father, not a god, Methos. It is your life. It was your 

That was true, he admitted sadly. "Now what?" Methos asked nervously 
as the nimbus surrounding him began to solidify.

"Now we build our armor and finally end this fight."

With a gasp of surprise Methos felt the energies flowing through him. 
A part of his mind watched in awe as Tok'ra manipulated their joined 
Quickening, sloughing off cells from Methos' body and weaving the hard 
outer casing until it was glowing with life. Completed, the shell was 
a neat square, virtually indestructible and transparent.

"Impressive," Methos commented, reaching out to gently touch the inner 
carapace as he floated down to sit on the floor.

"Thank you. And if you can avoid that ridiculous Game of yours, you 
too may one day be able to do this on your own."

"I did not start that," Methos insisted.

"No, but you played it all the same," Tok'ra pointed out as they flew 
past the moon. "One does not acquire power from other Immortals, son. 
That is a lie."


"What did I teach you?"

Methos hung his head. "Live. Grow stronger," he whispered.

"Our energies increase with every moment of life, not with the death 
of another."

"Then why the Quickening?" Methos asked, raising his head. "Why does 
it enter us?"

Tok'ra sighed. "We are not born into mortal bodies, child. Our 
parents, the beings that give us life, are made up of energy -- and we 
are but a small fraction of their power spun off into mortal corpses. 
They give life where there was none and leave the new child in a place 
where it will be cared for. In the course of time the Ancients leave 
this offspring to develop on its own, knowing that the energy within 
cannot die, but will eventually evolve. Every Quickening you've taken 
is a separate entity which cannot face the fact that it has been 
deprived of its home. So, it seeks out what it knows. Resides within 
you until it decides to move on."

The whole idea of hundreds of people currently living inside him gave 
Methos reason for pause. "Can they...?"

"Band together?" Tok'ra finished. "Feed on your energy and eventually 
take you over?"

Methos nodded.

"Not the ones you hold. They are far too young to even be aware of the 
others. And as I said, one Quickening does not feed upon another. In 
time they will leave of their own accord. Many taken long ago already 

Well, that was a relief! "And if they were older than me?"

There was a long pause as Methos waited, catching sight of the first 
of many ships as they came through some kind of vortex. Finally, 
Tok'ra spoke.

"Inanna could have taken you. She was powerful enough to cast you out 
and force you to find a new home. Or trap you there with the others."

"You prevented that," Methos sighed.

"Indeed," Tok'ra's voice smiled. "I forced her to evolve."

"But how does one--"

"No more questions," Tok'ra suddenly ordered. "Now, watch carefully. 
It is time to fight."

There was really nothing to watch, Methos would think later. It was 
simply a matter of focusing his thoughts. Pointing helped, but as 
Tok'ra showed him, his Quickening did not reside in the tips of his 
fingers. It was true enough, Methos realized, that one Quickening 
could not devour another. But it was also true that the energies could 
be willingly combined. Still, that required an effort of concentration 
which left Methos exhausted. Worse was the knowledge of the deaths he 
was causing. For even as he sent out his energies, the touch of which 
destroyed the ships, some of it surged back into him, carrying the 
weight of those lives in a brief flash of shared understanding before 
their souls moved on.

When the last of the ships had either exploded or retreated, Methos 
collapsed, holding his head in his arms.

"It is not easy to be a weapon, my son," the voice of Tok'ra offered 

"It does seem to have its drawbacks," Methos whispered painfully.

"As you discovered on your own," Tok'ra pointed out.

No matter how many times he'd heard mortals say it, he knew now that 
he'd never quite understood. You were always a child to your parents 
and they could, with a few well chosen words, make you feel just that 
small. Methos felt himself flush with shame. "I did learn."

"Yes, and I am proud of you for that. It was not easy for you to give 
up your anger."

"But what was I angry at? I can't even remember now."

"Me," Tok'ra sighed. "For dying, for bringing that mountain down on 
you to shield you from Inanna, for feeling abandoned and lost. For 
more things that I can recount, child."

"About Inanna," Methos began, feeling his chest tighten at the words. 
"Was that your idea or mine?"

"You came to that unfortunate, but necessary conclusion on your own."

"Wonderful. Haven't seen the woman in 10,000 years and the first thing 
I do is kill her," Methos murmured, disgusted with himself. Suddenly, 
it hit him. "I murdered my mother!" he realized with a ghastly start. 
And for the first time in 5,000 years Methos truly began to weep. For 
himself. For Inanna. For Tok'ra. And for the inconceivable nature of 
his own corrupted heart. What was he that he could logically deduce 
and carry out such a heinous act?

Death, came the quiet whisper of his own mind. Methos cringed at the 
thought. What a fool he'd been to think he had so easily conquered the 
bastard. The fear and anger induced horror that had once been the most 
inhuman scourge to ever walk the Earth. He'd beat out his three 
companions for sheer brilliance in planning the kill and seeing it 
through. But Death was more insidious than that, he suddenly realized. 
He had learned new ways to make his presence felt. How subtly, how 
rationally he'd planned it all and done the deed with little care for 
anything else. In spite of all his hard won humanity, Death was still 
just below the surface, waiting for him to slip up.

"Sneaky little shit," Methos muttered, wiping his eyes.

"Don't, Methos," Tok'ra's voice was stern now. "Don't compartmentalize 
this aspect of yourself. He is not a stranger, but a part of who you 
are. Think of what the world was like 3500 years ago when every major 
civilization in your part of the world was collapsing in on itself. In 
an insane world you acted insanely and that is how you survived. And 
when the world was again safe and sane you put all that aside."

"Oh, that's sweet!" Methos laughed derisively. "Been there, said that, 
took the easy philosophical out. I murdered my mother, you son of a 
bitch! Not to help you, not to save the world, but to keep my own 
worthless neck intact!"

"Inanna forced your hand and you reacted in the only way you knew 
how," Tok'ra admitted calmly. "As ruthlessly and as without compassion 
as she had acted towards you. You are the child of us both and you 
have always behaved accordingly, for good or ill. You were raised to 
survive. Regret the necessity, but never the many years of your life."

"And the innocents I killed. Should I not regret that?" Methos asked 

"Yes. Regret that. But accept and move on. Death is not who you are, 
it is what you sometimes must become. And even as Death you have often 
shown compassion."

"Compassionate Death?!" Methos snorted. "What I did I did for myself. 
If I chose to spare a life it was to use it for my own purposes."

"As do we all, my son. Even the best of motives are never entirely 
selfless. I have watched with interest the rise of the Christ. He 
wished to save mortals because he believed they were all a part of his 
God. In effect, saving a part of himself that otherwise might have 
been lost."

"You're calling God selfish?!" Methos laughter verged on hysteria. 

"I would be if I were him and they were mine." Tok'ra's voice held a 
smile. "But in this case, we are speaking of you. And I taught you to 
survive for my own selfish reasons. Because like the god of Christ 
views his own children, you are mine and I love you."

It was pointless to continue the argument Methos realized and their 
dialogue ended as he lapsed into silence, watching as they neared the 
Earth and passed easily through the outer layers of the planet's 
atmosphere. Now, he was not only physically exhausted, but emotionally 
drained as well.

They landed in a meadow a few hundred feet below the snow line near 
the air base, the carapace slowly fading away and returning to its 
place inside him.

"It is time, son."

Methos nodded. He'd be leaving soon too if he could manage it. He'd 
had quite enough of this Stargate business. Let Mac and the others 
take point if Hammond was so hot to have Immortals working for the 

"Any last words of wisdom," Methos drawled, distancing himself from 
the moment as he got to his feet.

Tok'ra sighed. "I think I've said enough, don't you?"

Methos winced inwardly. He was being a prick and he knew it, but 5,000 
years of bitterness was hard to shake off in less than an hour.

"I'm sorry I'm not what you wanted," Methos mocked him. "But as you 
said. It's my life."

"Indeed it is. But watch and learn, young one. Teach the truth if you 

Methos held out his arms as he felt the energies within him begin to 
slide gently through his pores to coalesce above him.

"This is your Prize!" The mass of energy laughed as if discovering a 
whole new universe filled with delight. "Evolution to a higher form! 
That is the great journey of the Ancients!"

He watched in awe as the power of Tok'ra's Quickening seemed to grow 
and expand then contract until it was a mere pinpoint of light. Then, 
just before it winked out, Methos came to his senses.

"Father! Wait! I... I'm sorry. I... Thank you."

The whispered response was almost inaudible and Methos wasn't quite 
certain he'd heard it correctly. 

"The ninth symbol is Time..."
Bereft, Methos sat in the grass waiting as a handful of jeeps raced up 
the mountain. There'd be the long debriefing and the obvious questions 
to which he must respond, but in the end he too would go. Maybe for a 
time, maybe for good. Right now he didn't want to think about any of 
it. A moment later, he was surrounded and O'Neill was coming forward, 
followed by Carter and MacLeod.

"You okay?" Jack asked as he knelt beside Methos.

The older man nodded. "He's gone."

"Our satellites picked up some pretty weird images about an hour ago," 
Samantha commented as Methos slowly got to his feet.

"Wasn't me." He gave a rueful grin and sighed. "Was Tok'ra. I was just 
along for the ride." 

"Nice ride," MacLeod smiled. "Care to educate the rest of us."

Methos shrugged. "Live. Grow stronger. Evolve."

At that, Methos turned away and climbed into the nearest transport. 
O'Neill quieted the others when they would have pressed him for more, 
getting in beside the eldest Immortal and giving him a gentle squeeze 
on the shoulder to let him know he understood.

"How 'bout dinner?" Jack asked as they drove away, deliberately 
changing the subject in order to give Methos time to adjust and 

Methos smiled. Normalcy was just what he needed, and he appreciated 
that more than anything. "I hear O'Malley's in town is pretty good."

"Uh... Yeah, it's great. But we're banned from going there anymore."

"You're banned?" Methos asked, genuinely surprised.

"Yeah, Danny-boy got into a bar fight and well, Carter and I kinda 
helped it along."

"Daniel? In a bar fight?" Methos laughed long and hard at the idea. 
Finally, he wiped his eyes and sighed. "Well, I'm open to 

"Barbecue? My place?"

Methos nodded and it was decided. As they hit the highway Jack shifted 
into high gear, speeding past the base in obvious violation of his 
orders. There would be no debriefing tonight. No questions Methos felt 
unable or unwilling to answer. Just a quiet night of sharing food and 
friendship with someone who at least knew when to be silent.



Three months later...

Of all the places for Adam Pierson to go to ground Jack O'Neill had 
never considered Nepal to be one of them. Maybe he should have, he 
thought wryly as he very carefully landed the small Harrier jet on the 
side of a grassy slope not far from where the transmission signal 
emanated. Methos had been fairly terse, even abrupt during his 
debriefing before being given compassionate leave. Hammond hadn't 
asked, and no one else had said a word, but it was clearly understood 
that Pierson had been very quietly hurting. Whether he'd come back, of 
course, was the obvious question.

There wasn't much to see around here, O'Neill thought as he looked 
around, and maybe that was the point. The Himalayas of course were 
spectacular, and Methos' hiding place was just as spectacularly hidden 
within the upper foot hills of the mountains. But it had taken just 
one pass of a satellite to determine that the ancient Immortal was 
very much in residence.

He found the entrance with very little trouble, although unless you 
knew what you were looking for it was neatly hidden by an optical 
illusion of perspective, appearing to be nothing more than a small 
bump in the side of the mountain. Inside, it was as dark and dank as 
one might expect. Further back it narrowed so that one thin man with a 
hand truck might easily pass through. On the other side of that narrow 
opening Jack found the first signs of habitation. Maybe ten tons of 
stored goods dating back to the turn of the century if the labels were 
anything to judge by, and several thousand propane tanks stacked 
neatly against the walls.

"Nice. A little paranoid, but nice," Jack murmured as he moved through 
the storage cave, coming across a small door about half way through. 
He opened it cautiously and smiled. Now this was a hideout, he thought 
as he stepped outside. The cave led to a small sheltered valley within 
the peaks. A miniature Shangri-La of sorts and he wondered if that was 
where Pierson had gotten the idea.

Behind him, he heard a gun cocking and Jack lifted his arms. "I come 
in peace."

"Next time," Methos responded testily, putting up his weapon as 
O'Neill turned around. "Call first." He held up his cell phone and 
pointed to the camouflaged satellite dish and microwave tower on the 
hill above them. "Don't you know there's a war going on here?"

O'Neill shrugged and lowered his hands. "Didn't think you'd answer and 
it might have made you leave."

Methos scowled. "Just how did you find me, anyway?" he asked, heading 
toward the house he'd built about half a mile away.

"You took your transmitter with you. Little known fact, Pierson," Jack 
confided as he followed down the steep hillside. 

"They can act as homing beacons," Methos concluded with a sigh. 
"Shit!" They reached the house and he opened the door, stepping aside 
to allow his somewhat welcome guest inside. Placing both hands 
together, Methos bowed and gave the typical Nepalese greeting. 


"Make yourself at home," Methos rolled his eyes.

"No can do, Pierson. Get your stuff and let's go." He looked at his 
watch. "Another six hours and thirty-seven minutes and you're AWOL."

"Don't be ridiculous," Methos scoffed. "You have MacLeod and his 
friends to back you up now. And Daniel should have returned to work 
already. What do you need me for?"

"Let's just say, I like your style, Captain Pierson."

"Captain?" Methos laughed.

"Yup. Hammond thought it was appropriate, since you were no longer a 
captain of industry. Oh, and," he fished a flat velvet display box out 
of his jacket. "If you hadn't lit out so quick you'd have gotten this 
from the man himself." 

He tossed the box to Methos, who opened it gingerly. "The Presidential 
Medal of Honor?!" he gasped. "Don't you have to be dead or something 
to get this?"

"Yeah. So? You've been dead and your...something. I left the others 
back at the base," he added. "There are at least a dozen. The Iron 
Cross, the Victoria Cross, the Croix de Guerre. A Gold Star from the 
Russians. Not to mention a bunch of other distinguished service medals 
from our guys -- and the Purple Heart."

"The Purple Heart?" Methos asked, dumbfounded. "The only thing wounded 
was my dignity."

"My idea," Jack grinned. "Knew you'd like it."

For a long moment Methos stood speechless until finally he closed the 
box and laid it aside. "How nice. More pretty baubles."

Jack grimaced. "That reminds me. This," he pulled a silver box out of 
his pocket, "is from the Tok'ra. Glows whether it's in the dark or 

Methos raised his hands, demurring. "You keep it. It's probably a 
homing device."

"That's why it's in a lead lined box," Jack grinned.

"So all this," Methos cocked his head in amazement, "is to convince me 
to come back?"

"No," Jack smiled. "That's to say thank you. This," he pulled out his 
gun, trying not to laugh at Methos' affronted expression, "is to 
convince you to get your ass packed and in that jet. Don't you know 
the punishment for going AWOL is more time in the service -- with no 
furloughs. And," he added cheerfully. "We also dock your pay for six 


"Aw, come on, Pierson! Don't make me do the corpse thing. I don't need 
any more of your bodily fluids messing up my cockpit."

Methos frowned and started looking for his duffel bag as Jack tossed 
him clothes, a CD player, a few discs and some personal items, never 
lowering the gun.

"This is so typically American," Methos sniped as he hurriedly filled 
the bag.

"You should know, Mr. Revolutionary War plaque."

"Ingrate," Methos sneered, hiding a smile. He hadn't really thought 
they'd want him back, not after what he'd done to Inanna. But it felt 
good to be wanted. And after taking some time to think about it, he 
truly had wanted to explore the other side of that Stargate. Still, he 
could get a lot of mileage out of playing the unwilling victim. 

"All right," he growled, yanking the duffel shut and slinging it over 
his shoulder. "Let's go."

Jack followed, finally putting away his weapon as he closed the door. 
"Did I mention this was a nice little vacation spot? You'll really 
have to invite me back sometime."

Not having invited him in the first place, Methos rolled his eyes. 
"Use it anytime you want," he grated.

"Gee, thanks! How's the fishing?"

Methos twisted his lips in disgust. "It's wonderful, Jack. Help 

As they reached the jet and climbed in O'Neill turned and smiled 

"So, my little minion. What'd you get me during your visit to Nepal?"