Title: More than Starfleet
Fandom(s): Highlander (the Series), Star Trek (AOS, Reboot, 2009, IX)
Categories: AU-canon, gen, het, Crossover, xover, action, suspense, drama
Summary: Chekov and Sulu get an easy assignment that doesn't turn out to be so simple after all. They are introduced to Watchers, Immortals, Quickenings, and duelling in quick succession and are just as quick to roll with the punches.
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Sulu, Chekov, Methos
Betas: Pen, Yamini… thank you… both of you!
AN: AU-canon for Highlander the Series. Post Star Trek Reboot. Please note, I'm not very good at writing accents.
Warnings: violence, side-character death
Disclaimer: Do not own the characters or the 'verses in the fanfic below, nor am I making any profits; this is for purely entertainment purposes only.
For: LJ Community trekreversebang – Trek Reverse Big Bang 2012 – inspired by the lovely artwork (#8) created by the very talented Pen (pentapus on LJ). Please go and have a look.
~ooO More than Starfleet Ooo~
"This will be a wonderful opportunity to any officer interested in advancing his or her career in Command-track."
Hikaru Sulu perked up at the key word: Command-track. Jim Kirk hid a smirk as he continued extolling the assignment.
"It is a unique opportunity, to examine first-hand examples of old pre-warp drive sleeper ships. I have been informed the colony never developed extra-solar ships. Most of their mining efforts have been confined to their local solar system."
"They must have built them very tough and sturdy," Leonard 'Bones' McCoy commented, reviewing his own PADD. "Many of those nuclear-drive sleeper ships spent decades in space before reaching the colony world. Most of them never reached their destinations."
"Indeed," Spock commented, scanning the files. "Most such colonies revert to primitive barbarism, unable to accommodate and adjust to their new situation. This colony did not. They maintained a substantial technological base though they confined most of their off-planet industries to their solar system."
"They wanna a home," Montgomery Scott murmured. "They dinna wanna to be adventuring. These folks only wanna a new homeland."
"They found a pretty good planet too," McCoy commented. "None of the usual hidden disasters that many of the sleeper ship colonies landed in. That was the big downside of the old way… sending colonies out without even doing a proper survey."
"They didn't have much of an option back then, Bones," Kirk pointed out mildly. "It took years to reach another star system." He looked around the table. "Well this colony made out like bandits. They lost contact with Earth and remained isolated for several centuries before one of their freighters made contact with a Federation ship.
"Most contact has been for trade, but after the Narada they want to form a more formal relationship, maybe even apply for membership with the Federation. Of course they don't want to rush into anything, mostly due to the cultural and social gaps differences."
Sulu leaned forward. "What would this assignment involve?" he asked.
"The President has invited Starfleet to send a few officers to stay as guests on the planet, to observe and answer any questions the locals may have, a precursor to the diplomats. It's not a true first contact since it is a human colony but it'll be a good experience interacting with a foreign culture. After so many centuries away from Earth the local society may as well be a foreign planet."
"I would like to volunteer Captain," Sulu said promptly. "This sounds like a good experience, something different but not too difficult." At the curious looks he sheepishly explained. "I'm interested in pursuing further Command training, to be a Captain myself. Meeting foreign dignitaries and interacting with alien cultures will almost certainly be expected."
"I would like to also go, Keptin," Chekov said eagerly. "I haff just scanned the data packets on their mining technology. I think it has great potential to increase sensor scan range."
Kirk perked up. "Really?"
"Yes! They use gravitonic frequencies and a different algorithm than most Federation members. It seems to be more precise and detailed than our technology."
"Hmmm," Kirk turned to his First Officer. "Spock?"
"I scanned the sections Mr Chekov is referring to, and he is right. However the précis sent does not have the details necessary for further study." He looked at the young officer.
"I will ask our hosts for detailed schematics. And I will bring back vhatever information they give on the scanning technology and anything else," Chekov vowed.
Spock turned back to Kirk. "I believe between Mr Chekov and Mr Sulu the scientific and the diplomatic aspects of the mission will be covered."
Kirk smiled. "All right then, gentlemen. This assignment is yours. We will be dropping you off and returning in two weeks to pick you up. Can you last that long without getting into trouble?" he asked teasingly.
Sulu was offended. "Captain, we aren't you!"
And everyone laughed.
Chekov smiled at the Captain. "We will be fine, Keptin," he said sincerely. "When we return we will have a great many things to share with you and everyone else."
Kirk studied his pilot and navigator intently before nodding. "Very well then." He glanced at the PADD. "We will be arriving at New Pacifica in forty-five hours. There will be a two-hour reception at the Government House, located in the very creatively named Landing City. Once the reception is over the Enterprise will break orbit. You will be staying at whichever local hostel is recommended by our hosts. And your expenses will be picked up by Starfleet."
Chekov and Sulu sat up straight and responded in unison.
Three days later Hikaru Sulu was cursing that casual confidence as he ran through narrow twisting alleys to stay ahead of the insane lunatic's goons. Of course no one knew the truth, that General Krahnev was clinically insane, a fanatic, and out to seize control of New Pacifica. As far as everyone was concerned he was a perfect example of an unmarried, workaholic military man.
Pavel was really too brilliant for his own good. He was developing the Captain's knack for stumbling into trouble! Hikaru hoped his plan to draw their attention had worked, that they hadn't split up to look for both Starfleet officers.
"There he is!"
Now if he could just find a place to hide!
He made a sharp right, then left, then left, then right, hoping to loose the hunters on his trail. He made random stops, trying the doors to see if any were unlocked. It was a faint hope, but Hikaru needed a safe hole to duck into. He did not know Landing City as well as they did. The longer he ran the more he risked being cut off or herded into a dead-end alley, or trap.
Taking the chance he ducked down a narrow one-way side street and under a set of wooden steps. Sulu crouched low and stayed as still as he could, hoping his pursuers would pass and give him the chance to backtrack.
"Did you honestly think that trick would work on us?"
Hikaru didn't think. He turned around and thrust out, activating the mechanism to unfold his katana. The pursuer didn't have any chance to react. The blade expanded and thrust itself straight into his heart, a quick clean kill. Bright red arterial blood bloomed on the grey uniform.
The Starfleet officer did not waste time on regrets. He pulled the sword away and attacked the second man, a clean cut across the throat. His opponent didn't have room to manoeuvre in the narrow lane and Hikaru's blade had given him a reach they had not anticipated. After confirming both men were dead Hikaru edged towards the lane entrance and waited tensely for any of his other pursuers to show up. No one did. Just when he was ready to believe he was scot-free a familiar voice spoke from behind him.
"We're not so easy to kill, Starfleet."
He spun around and stared. The two men he had just killed… they weren't dead! How could this be? Neither wore protective armour or padding. Hikaru knew human anatomy from his martial arts training and biology courses. He had felt flesh give, seen the blood on his blade, checked their pulses… They were supposed to be dead!
It was more difficult to kill them the second time but he managed and fled not willing to wait and risk being caught. This time he did not think. He just ran praying for a safe place, for sanctuary. There!
Warm yellow light spilled from tall narrow windows with frosted panes. He could see the neon sign flashing above the entrance: Joe's Tavern. Taverns were usually busy and filled with people. With some luck he might be able to hide in the crowd. He only hoped they accepted Federation credits.
Eric Dawson looked up sharply. He had not expected any new customers so close to closing. It fact it was rather late for a newcomer to be about in Landing City, especially in these parts. A quick once-over caught the bloody katana not quite hidden in the folds of the man's dark coat. Eric frowned seeing the uniform beneath the coat. Starfleet? He hadn't heard of any Immortals entering Starfleet, mainly due to the extensive records and medical files maintained by the organization. A newbie perhaps? Eric was curious but he knew better than to pry too quickly.
Instead he waited for the Oriental man to approach the bar and asked, "How can I help you?"
The man started. He had been looking over his shoulder, at the door. Was he being pursued by a challenger? Eric did not want a pair of Immortals to duel in his bar. The property damage and cover-ups costs of hiring a telepath to mind-wipe… He really didn't want an Immortal duel anywhere close to his bar.
"Are you in trouble?"
The Starfleet officer looked a little wild-eyed. Definitely a newbie. Probably had his first death a few months ago and didn't even realize that he'd changed, that he was immortal.
"General Krahnev is trying to kill me." Then he looked aghast at what he had just said. Yup, too stressed and too inexperienced. At least it did confirm the Watcher Society speculation that Krahnev was an Immortal.
"Did you do something? Or see something?" Eric asked carefully.
The wild-eyed look faded and sharp suspicion crept in. "Do you know something?"
"I have suspicions, but nothing I can say without seeming mad," Eric stated slowly. Vague but pointed enough to indicate that he knew.
"That he's a mad-man out to take over New Pacifica?"
Eric nearly dropped the glass he was polishing. Oh Fuck…
"You didn't know?" the Starfleet officer sounded horrified at what he had just blurted out to whom he saw as a civilian. But then again if Krahnev was an Immortal it needed to be cleaned up by an Immortal.
"I know he's odd, he's different, those around him are different," Eric stated calmly.
"You mean the weird healing thing?"
Sulu would have fled if he had known of a safe place to hole up on this planet.
"What do you mean weird healing?"
Sulu debated on his options which were damn few. But Captain Kirk had always stressed the importance of forming relationships with the locals, because they knew a lot more of what was going on than you did. Was Krahnev running illegal experiments on the poor, to create super soldiers? Enough rumours must have gotten out for it to strike a chord.
"I don't know," he admitted finally. "He sent his men after me. I killed two of them, I know I did, I checked. But they woke up and attacked me. I killed them a second time and ran."
The bartender went very still. Suspicions dawned. "You know something, don't you?"
"I know some things," the bartender admitted carefully.
"What's going on?" Sulu demanded. "If Krahnev is running illegal experiments the President needs to know. Krahnev needs to be stopped!"
The older man looked like he was debating with himself. Finally he said, "It's not something that you need to be concerned about."
That threw the Starfleet officer off. "What do you mean?"
When the man remained silent Sulu became angry. "This affects me and my partner and possibly the whole planet! General Krahnev needs to be stopped!"
"I don't think he can be. Not by you or Starfleet or the Federation. It is best if you forget about everything and hide until your ship returns to pick you up."
"I won't!" Sulu insisted.
"Krahnev will be taken care of," the bartender assured.
Sulu snorted. "By who? You?"
The middle-aged man smirked. "By someone much more experienced than me."
That made Sulu curious. "Who?"
But he was ignored. The bartender stepped around the bar and began herding out the last of his customers and locking up.
"My name is Eric Dawson," he said. "And I strongly recommend you stay out here." From his tone he really didn't expect Sulu to obey and he didn't. He wanted to know what the heck was going on so he followed Dawson to a back-office furnished with a fairly impressive workstation and communication gear.
Dawson did not record a voice message, and typed it out instead. After sending, a mechanical voice confirmed that the sub-space message had been transmitted. A few seconds later, there was a warning sounded.
"Recipient Lone Wolf has an automated alert indicating he will not be responding promptly to messages until Stardate twenty-two fifty-nine point seven-one."
That was too late, over fifteen days in the future. The Enterprise would be back before then.
Dawson frowned and thought hard before coming to a decision. "Re-send the same message to recipient Old Man."
A successful transmission acknowledgement was voiced and there were no subsequent warnings. The older man relaxed fractionally.
"The Old Man is good at cleaning up messes. He'll take care of this one."
Sulu frowned. The bartender sounded too confident, too certain. Who the heck was this Old Man and how did he get into the position of cleaning up messes? And whose messes? Was he a freelance mercenary?
When he asked Dawson the older man just laughed.
"Don't even bother trying to try to find a logical explanation or even report this. You'll only be sectioned, provided you survive long enough to get off-planet."
Sulu shook his head. "I don't care," he said firmly. "I can't just walk away and pretend I don't know anything. I won't. Besides I have a partner who is too curious to not dig and ask questions. He'll file a report even if I don't."
Dawson eyed him sharply. "What would it take, to make both of you more circumspect about what you report to Starfleet?"
"The truth and a damn good reason why it needs to be restricted," Sulu said bluntly. "I've seen enough and held back plenty; if you explain why it has to be kept quiet."
Dawson thought about it for a few minutes before coming to a decision. "Tell me about the men you killed. And believe me, I won't be talking about this to any LEO."
For the first time since he entered the bar, Sulu sat down, his legs too shaky to hold him up.
"I don't know what happened," he said slowly. "I know I killed them. There was no resistance from body armour, I felt the flesh cut and saw the blood. One through the heart and the other across the throat. I checked their pulses; there were none. I went to the lane entrance to look for other pursuers, for just a few minutes. Somehow they healed and revived in that short time. I killed them again and ran. But as far as I could tell they were human with iron-based blood."
Dawson produced a dusty bottle and two glasses from a cabinet and poured Sulu a generous amount of whiskey, then two fingers for himself.
"What I'm going to tell you is the truth. If you go and blab there are three possible reactions you'll get. You'll be disbelieved and ignored. You'll be disbelieved and sectioned. You'll be believed and open a whole can of worms."
And then Dawson proceeded to speak.
"There are beings called Immortals among us—."
"Wait you mean immortal immortal? Or just a long-lived race? 'Cause there are plenty of alien races with centuries long life spans," Sulu pointed out sceptically.
Dawson gave him a look that warned the Starfleet officer to not interrupt before continuing.
"Like I was saying, there are beings called Immortals among the human race pre-dating recorded history. Immortals are foundlings who grow up and live ordinary lives until they experience a violent death. After they wake, they never age, reviving after being killed."
Sulu's eyes widened in shock. "Wow, that would be a mind-fuck," he commented softly. "Especially if they grew up in religious times and communities. Were they feared?"
"Very. Most were driven from their homes, and called demons. Younger Immortals were found and mentored by older Immortals, how to blend in, survive, fight. Once the teacher was confident of the student's skills they went their separate ways."
"Why? Surely it would make more sense to stay together."
"There was a very good reason for that. In the pre-space flight age, when they were confined to Earth, Immortals used to play something called The Game, one Immortal challenging another to a duel, a battle of blades to the final death."
"But you said they are Immortal!"
"Immortal is the best description to label them because they are immortal unless they loose their heads."
"Yes. In a challenge the losing Immortal would be beheaded and their power, the Quickening, would be released in the form of a lightening storm and be absorbed by the winner. The common belief was the winner would become stronger, absorbing the Quickening. Personally I think it's a load of bunk."
Sulu shook his head. "I'm not seeing it. Electrical storms so close to the ground would cause damage and draw attention. How could they have hidden from the general populace?"
"Protocol was, once a challenge was made and accepted, they would meet away from populated areas, open fields or abandoned industrial zones, to fight. But the Game is a reduced factor to today's Immortals. Ever since humanity went into the stars there have been fewer Immortals interacting and challenging each other. Most are pretty content to live and let live. Except for the occasional crazy ones. That's why I was posted here."
Sulu remained rigid absorbing the information without argument. Part of him wanted to scream it was impossible, to run and hide, to laugh and pretend it was all a big lie, a huge joke, but he didn't. Because deep down he knew what Dawson was saying was true. It explained all what he had experienced. But even so, he was a Starfleet officer and unwilling to agree to anything without at the very least personal eye-witness testimony. Then the last bit provoked his interest.
"Wait. You were posted here? By who?"
"Not by any government agency. I'm a member of a secret organization called the Society of Watchers. We observe, we record, we used to never interfere but things have changed now. Immortals are warriors. The oldest ones lived through the bloodiest of wars and survived the Game. They don't trust any government. We don't want any government agency to get their hands on an Immortal either. Imagine, the perfect spy, infiltrator, assassin. Immortals learnt how to fit in different societies and times, to survive and fight. It's too crazy so the Society made a pact with the older Immortals. We watch and observe and when we confirm an Immortal is seeking political power, to build an army or execute a coup we let them know."
"Okay. I can get the sentry action but why did you guys bother watching Immortals in the first place?"
"Too much of man's history has been lost. When you get through all of life's crap the only thing that matters is the truth. We want the truth about Immortals to survive, not a bunch of old wives' tales."
Sulu snorted. "So they just let you record their activities? I would never tolerate an invasion of my privacy."
"Neither do most Immortals," Dawson admitted. "For centuries each Immortal was assigned a Watcher whose sole job is to record their activities, usually in secret from the shadows. That is until the Eugenics Wars."
Sulu sobered. "What happened?"
"The older Immortals knew about Watchers and when Khan started moving they formed an alliance with the Society of Watchers. They pointed out it would be too cataclysmic, if Khan ever laid hands on Immortals. His Augmented army was bad enough."
"And after the Wars?"
"The alliance held. It became even more critical once humanity started travelling in space. Watchers are posted in several key ports and planets. We watch and observe for any Immortal activity. Sometimes there is an accident, and when an Immortal awakes they are confused and lost. We let one of the older ones know so they can stop by and teach them, how to survive and fight and blend in."
"And how old is this Society of Watchers?" Sulu asked.
"Ancient. It was created by Ammaletu the Akkadian after he saw Gilgamesh coming back to life." Dawson turned and gestured to the massive carved plaque hanging over the bar. "That is a symbol of the Society. It's a guide and reference point for Immortals and Watchers; they know they can find help here." He grinned more easily. "I thought you were a newbie Immortal when you stumbled in with your bloody blade."
Sulu grinned sheepishly. "It was supposed to be a peaceful mission so we didn't bring phasers. I only brought my katana so I could practice."
Eric nodded, his expression turning more stern. "Now that you know, what are you going to do? Standard protocol is to hide all evidence and trace of Immortal existence. Are you going to expose their existence? There won't be witch hunts, but there could be something worse with every grey agency trying to locate and secure Immortals, to condition them to work for them and them alone."
Sulu found himself caught on the proverbial horns. As much as he wanted to argue otherwise he knew there were Admirals who would love the idea of Immortal Starfleet officers, Immortal agents. He had seen too much dirty politics as a senior officer on the Enterprise. He did not want a power-hungry official to secure the talents of a superlative personal mercenary to eliminate enemies of the Federation from the shadows. It was a very slippery slope and such activities would undermine the foundation of the Federation. There had to be trust and accountability, not black ops politics.
But all of this was hinging on one key fact.
"I want to see it. The men chasing me might be Immortals but unless I see for myself that General Krahnev is one as well I won't help you cover this up."
Dawson gave him a stern look. "I'm not going to be cleaning up. The Old Man is. If you want to see it go down yourself, that Krahnev is an Immortal, you'll have to persuade him to let you watch. And trust me, the Old Man is an expert at losing tails."
Sulu lifted his chin. "I will." Then he grinned more honestly. "And if I don't, Pavel will."
"My partner. Right now he's holed up in our hotel room."
"It will be safer if he stays there for now. You should stay here for the night. I have a cot in a back-room."
Sulu made a face. "Thanks." He knew his back was not going to thank him in the morning but it was safer than going out and risking capture. At least in daylight hours, in a fairly public place, there would hopefully be too many witnesses to detain him and Pavel.
Marius Adams, also known as Adam Pierson, Benjamin Matthews, and hundreds of other names in his very long life, snorted when he finished reading the message from Eric Dawson. A small furrow creased his brow as he considered the implications of the situation on New Pacifica. He huffed and opened a beer from his stash and sipped slowly. He was getting too old for this, chasing after young pups and cleaning up messes. He would never have gotten involved if it wasn't for the bloody Highlander sparking his withered conscience into life. A small bitter smile curved his lips as he experienced a flashback to twentieth century Seacouver.
Methos had honestly thought that Duncan MacLeod would be the One, the Winner of the Game. He scowled darkly. Damn Noonian Khan. If it wasn't for him and rest of those supermen the Boy Scout would be alive and cleaning up messes and taking newbies and wayward strays in hand, not Methos. He blinked back tears at the vividly accurate memory of a newscast reporting the destruction of Washington DC. Methos had refused to believe Duncan was gone until Joe had confirmed the last Watcher report of the Highlander placed him in Washington DC. And Methos had waited and searched before giving up five decades later. If Duncan was alive and well, he would have contacted someone.
The decades after the Eugenics Wars were hard, for the general populace and Immortals. Weapons of mass destruction weren't particular about exactly what they were destroying and it was hard to heal if you lost whole body parts (like your head) or were vaporized. Methos had changed his name and set up dozens of sleeper identities in the chaos and destruction. It was becoming harder to hide and fake electronic records in the emergent electronic society, so many Immortals, including Methos, took to the stars and set up new lives on distant colony planets.
Methos did not know if it was the effect of the diaspora but there were fewer and fewer Immortals awakening now, mostly in space and distant planets where the chances of violent death that did not completely destroy the body were higher. Correspondingly there were fewer Challenges being made and duels being fought because it was becoming rarer for two Immortals to cross paths. The mentality about Challenges and the Game had shifted over the centuries. After the horrors of the Eugenic Wars all Immortals wanted to do was survive, and the best way to do that was to work together.
With the help of the Watchers, they had managed to hide evidence of their existence from shadow agencies and the larger organized governments. Oh, there were rumours, but nothing concrete. It was Methos's job as a cleaner to back-track any possible exposure and take care of the evidence. Most of the time a dose of hallucinogen was enough to placate witnesses and LEOs. One of Methos's bigger fears was Starfleet stumbling into Immortal activity, a pre-Immortal signing up and dying in service. That fear was now coming true.
He re-read the part of the message that irked him.
Hikaru Sulu and Pavel Chekov both insist on confirming that Krahnev is an Immortal personally, otherwise they will report it to their Captain. Starfleet trains their senior officers to resist torture, conditioning and interrogation and by now I am certain they have made records and hidden them in various places, perhaps even arranged for several post-dated data transmissions.
Why on Earth was Eric Dawson siccing two Starfleet puppies on him? What was he supposed to do with them? Allow them to tag along on his clean up job? Never! He worked best alone, without tag-along liabilities.
A wicked smirk spread across his face. Dawson's might have been cornered into agreeing to this, but that didn't mean Methos couldn't scare them off. Now what was the best way to terrify two squeaky clean Starfleet tadpoles into running and hiding from a big bad mean old Immortal?
Pavel Chekov was feeling very jumpy. He kept peering over his shoulder, just in case they had been followed. The elongated shadows cast by New Pacifica's double moons made the empty streets look eerie and very scary if Chekov was willing to be honest with himself.
He turned and looked at his best friend, who stood before the ancient looking wooden door hung on antique metal hinges. There was a small barred window near the top instead of a security intercom. Below, were the numbers eight and six were secured to the door with old-fashioned nails.
"Are you sure this is zhe correct place, Hikaru?"
Hikaru Sulu looked at his fellow Starfleet officer. The young Russian native was struggling to hide his fear and Sulu was proud of him. This mission had been a near disaster, but Pavel had not faltered.
"Unit eighty-six on Edinburgh Lane. This is the place."
The younger male shivered. "Too dangerous and creepy looking!" he proclaimed.
Sulu halted his hand just before his knuckles made contact with the wood. "Pavel, if you're uneasy with this situation you can stay with Dawson and keep a low profile until the Enterprise returns to pick us up."
Chekov straightened his spine and stiffened his shoulder. "No Hikaru. I vil not let you go alone, vithout anyone to kower your back." Sulu felt a large weight of tension he'd been carrying lift off. "But I don't understand vhy he insisted on meeting so late. And in a dangerous zone!"
Sulu smiled wryly. "Actually, in a weird way, we're lucky the meeting place is in a bad neighbourhood. There's no CCTV or nosy neighbours to report any strangers lurking around." He patted the head of the large-fanged alien animal skull he was carrying under one arm. "I really don't want to have to explain this to any LEOs."
Chekov made a face. "Vhy are you carrying zhe creepy skull?"
"It's our ticket in." Seeing Chekov's confused look the older male explained. "Dawson said Adams threw a fit when he found out, about us joining him. In the end he only agreed to meet us if I procured a Targath skull."
Chekov's eyes widened. "But zhey are rare creatures protected under Federation law!"
"I know!" Sulu made a face. "I don't see much use in a Targath skull. Not unless he's planning on selling it to finance his expenses."
Chekov looked pensive. "He might be testing you," he pointed out carefully.
Sulu thought about it then shrugged. "Probably. But I've passed his stupid test. It took me ages but I managed to find one in the local souq." He grimaced. "And it cost a bloody fortune because Targaths are classified as protected beasts. The seller did say this one was 'harvested' before the endangered laws were passed. I do hope he was telling the truth or I could be arrested."
The young male sniffed. "Zhe Keptin will not let zhat happen."
Sulu had a distinctively sour expression. "Do you think Kirk can get me reimbursed for mission expenses?"
Chekov giggled. "Zhat is much less likely to happen."
Sulu shrugged. He knew it was a long shot, but hey, he could hope. Then the skull under his arm reminded him just why they were here.
"Are you ready Pavel?"
The younger male nodded firmly and moved to the other side of the door from Sulu. The pilot lifted his hand and rapped sharply on the heavy wood. The houses in this zone were so old-fashioned and rundown; they didn't even have electronic intercoms.
Light shone through the small grillwork at the top of the door.
"Who is it?" a muffled voice asked from inside.
"Junior One and Junior Two," Sulu said firmly.
There was a sound of muffled cursing as the little peep-door was shut and the door opened. The man standing in the doorway was leanly built and not overly tall, with olive skin, hazel eyes and curling black hair. He was rather ordinary looking, dressed in stone washed blue jeans and a green cable-knit sweater. He glared at them muttering – presumably swearing – under his breath in unknown tongues. Sulu did not allow that to put him off. If this Marius Adams meant them serious harm it would come when they were inside and trapped.
Finally he sighed and moved aside before saying, "Come in."
Sulu stepped over the threshold certain Chekov would be right behind him.
Methos couldn't believe his eyes. Long fingered hands deftly examined the Targath skull, ensuring it was a genuine article. The Starfleet puppies had actually done it! Somehow, they had managed to secure a contraband article on a planet they had never landed on before. He placed the skull on the coffee table and looked up and across at the shrewd knowing expression of the Oriental male. His companion looked more eager and ready to please.
"I didn't expect you to succeed," he said finally. "Locating a black-market dealer specializing in such items on a backwater planet is not easy."
Hikaru Sulu smirked. "I grew up in Chinatown. No matter how much the authorities like to pretend there are always illegal markets for banned or restricted goods and services in ethnic communities. Especially right under the legal authorities noses."
Methos laughed openly, honestly. He could not argue with that! "So how did you get it?" he asked finally. "Steal it?"
Sulu shook his head. "Bought it. I'm already in plenty of trouble. If anyone asks I can say I was doing some checking on local activities that would be considered illegal in the Federation; if it's necessary to have a public education program on Federation laws, or a period of amnesty for such goods and services."
Methos looked thoughtful. Quick-witted, unafraid to break laws, and lateral outside-the-box thinking. Very good qualities for a Watcher.
After a long drawn out silence the Immortal spoke. "So… you believe Eric's stories?"
Sulu did not look away. "I know I killed two men and a few minutes later they woke up and tried to kill me. After stabbing them the second time I didn't hang around to see if they were going to wake up again."
Then Chekov piped up. "My great-great-grand father met an Immortal vhen he vas a student in Paris." Methos stared at the young Russian with a disbelieving expression, but he was not put off. "Yuri Chekov, he vas an art student and met many people. He vrote about a lady-friend he met in Paris vhen he vas young, yes? But vhen he saw her many decades later she looked exactly zhe same, and she recognized him. In his diaries he vrote zhat she vas an Immortal, zhat he had seen her vake up from a fatal gunshot vound."
Sulu stared at his fellow Starfleet officer. "Wait, you knew about Immortals?"
Chekov shrugged. "I thought zhey are stories yes? But zhen you told me about Krahnev's men and Dawson's story matched zhe family diaries." He grinned broadly. "Now I am zhe second Chekov to meet an Immortal."
Methos gave up. He didn't have the time to stall and delay. And if these two were going to out Immortals to Starfleet and the Federation he wasn't going to be responsible for the clean up. This was all Eric's fault! He looked both of them directly in the eye.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Twin expressions of amusement were the immediate response but Methos was not giving up easily. He didn't want more innocent blood on his hands. "Is there anyway I can change your mind about accompanying me? It's going to be dangerous and I'm used to working solo."
Sulu explained. "I know Eric said Immortals and Watchers always whitewash the scenes and remove all traces of a rogue Immortal's activities, but we need to know what to report, what not to, and what to gloss over. And if Krahnev is not an Immortal but an alien or using an experimental drug or treatment, we need to know as well. Dawson said killing an Immortal is messy and destructive. We can help build a good cover-story since we'll need to report it to Starfleet."
"Mad Generals always haff veapons stash, yes? Explosives? If a cache is improperly stored… wery unfortunate." Chekov concluded with a disapproving expression.
Both Sulu and Methos gaped at the baby-faced navigator.
"That's cold, Pavel," Sulu stammered finally.
Chekov shrugged. "But this fool must be stopped yes? Yuri Chekov wrote many entries after his escape, about how Kronos stole veapons using his military contacts."
Methos sighed. "Yes. Kronos was a freelance mercenary and fairly dependable. But only long enough to get into a position of trust and to execute his plans. After the Eugenics Wars the Council decided no Immortal should work for the government in such a capacity. The risk of exposure is too high. And in the aftermath no one would trust any government or legal authority. They would classify us as Augments, our accelerated healing, physical skills, and intellects. But we develop our minds and bodies like you do, over time. Only we have several lifetimes to study and advance." He looked weary when he finally reiterated his question. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Like before the answer came in unison.
Methos struggled between the urge to throw a tantrum and throw his hands up in exasperation. He settled for the second.
"Oh, what the heck! You can come." Their expressions turned pleased and anticipating. "But if you dare breathe a word of what you see, you won't be able to hide from me! Ever!"
"Of course!" was Chekov's immediate cheerful agreement. "This is not Starfleet business. Only Vatcher and Immortal business, yes?"
Sulu nodded in vigorous agreement.
Methos absorbed their earnest expressions before coming to a decision. He leaned forward and picked up the metal briefcase resting beside his chair, placing it on the coffee table. "Okay, this is what we need to do," he said as he unlatched the lid and lifted it open. "I need a tap into the security network to review video footage for the last…"
When the Enterprise returned to pick up their two officers as originally scheduled, Pavel Chekov and Hikaru Sulu were ready and waiting to be beamed on board.
At the debriefing, the Captain raised an eyebrow and asked an opening question. "Well?"
Sulu shrugged. "Oh, nothing major happened. There was some local criminal activity, civilian disturbances, killings, assault and the like but nothing that affected us."
"There were a few odd weather anomalies in the Landing City," Chekov offered. "The lightning strikes set off an explosion in a residential area. Unfortunately it also sparked an explosion in an illegal drug lab that also decapitated the drug trafficker. The President was shocked when the LEOs discovered General Krahnev was operating the smuggling ring."
Both the Captain and First Officer blinked, surprised by the bland words that so casually dismissed death and pain.
"Are you okay, Pavel?" Kirk asked carefully.
Chekov smiled wistfully. "I am fine, Keptin. Hikaru took good care of me."
Spock coughed. "Mr Sulu, what is that odd tattoo on your wrist?"
"Oh! You mean this?" Sulu tugged up his left sleeve cuff, turning the wrist facing up. The action revealed a blue-ink tattoo on the inner forearm, twin peaks that looked like 'm' or 'r' contained within a circle with a narrow band around the perimeter. There were solid dots distributed all around the circumference, within the narrow band.
"Yes. I do not recognize the symbol." Spock's eyes narrowed intently.
"It was a whim, Mr Spock," Chekov said softly, pulling up his tunic sleeve to show his own tattoo. "Hikaru and I met some nice men in a Landing City bar. It is the sign of the bar. We wished to remember the gentlemen we met. They provided a lot of the sociological data in the after-mission report."
"Really?" Kirk said surprised. "Were they that impressionable?"
Sulu shrugged. "To us they were." Then he grinned casually. "But then again we were pretty drunk and walking in a straight line was an impressive feat."
Kirk roared out laughing. Spock looked slightly disdainful.
Sulu ignored it and Chekov continued smiling. They couldn't tell the Captain or the First Officer the truth, but the two of them knew they would never forget their experiences on New Pacifica. They would never forget Eric Dawson or Marius Adams, a.k.a. Adam Pierson and who knew how many other names.
AN: No plans for prequel or sequel. Hope you enjoyed!