science experiment gone wrong
Highlander Universe: Season 2
Coming back to Chicago he made a beeline to one particular restaurant in particular. It didn’t matter if he was coming to stay or passing through like he was now he always made sure to stop by. After all it was one of his favorite places to eat, he always had a small weakness for Chinese food, and home to one of his biggest questions as well. Two years away and he was still slightly surprised to see who was behind the counter slash kitchen. Sitting at the counter he studied the old man diligently tending his dishes carefully. He first discovered this place back in the sixties and the old man looked like he had one foot in the grave then. Fifty years later and that other foot apparently hadn’t dropped yet. Part of him was still convinced it was some kind of make-up job, a family member trying to keep the image alive or something. Other times he talked about things and events like he was still there. When he finally turned around and saw his customer he had a big ragged grin on his face, “Ah you have returned , it has been far too long since my favorite customer has graced my establishment.”
“I’ve been away for a while taking care of some personal stuff,” he answered. “Family related, you know how it is. You do have family around here?”
“Family yes, but they do not care about this business. So I keep it running and it keeps me young on the inside.” Fifty something years and that was the closest he has ever gotten to a straight answer from this man. “But Family is very important as you know. I believe I have been serving your family for fifty odd years now so I feel like you are part of mine. And there is a very strong resemblance between all of you too, very good genes as they say today I believe.”
“That’s one way of putting it,” he smirked.
“Will it be your usual order?” He noticed he wasn’t trying to star at the scar on his neck that he was using the hood of his sweatshirt to hide.
“You read my mind. I’ve been craving it for the past couple of years.” He relaxed a bit as he and the owner shared a bit a small talk, mostly the owner catching him up on what he’d missed these past couple of years in the area around his restaurant. Which was apparently a lot. He was already halfway through his plate when the other man he had been expecting came in through the door. Breaking out into a grin that rivaled the owners he stood up to great the man, “Father.”
The old priest took the offered hand readily, “Owen. It’s good to see you again. The way you were talking last time I thought you’d be gone longer.”
“You know me Father, I can’t seem to stay away from this city for long,” Owen said as they sat at the counter. He tried to ignore the fact he looked a bit older than the last time he saw him. The Father ordered a small coffee that was poured immediately. “So are you back to stay Owen?”
“Not this time,” he said. “I’m moving to Indiana this time around. Picked me up a job teaching history at a high school. God I swear it’s getting harder to get past these background checks now a days.”
“It’s the world we live in now Owen, we just have to learn to adapt. Kicking and screaming in some cases.” Another person came in carrying a newspaper and started reading it after he ordered. The Father caught him catching a glance at the headline about the “Immortal Thief” on the front page. “He has been some rather big news lately. A crazy individual who does things to get away that would kill a person but ends up surviving and pulling another robbery soon after.” Getting a little closer he almost whispered, “Do you think he’s one of you?”
“I’d like to think one of us wouldn’t be that careless or blatant about it,” he said. “I’m sure Susan or one of the other would have checked him out already and smartened him up if he was a new born. Or take care of him if he wasn’t. Speaking of how is Susan? I kind of lost touch a couple of months ago while I was traveling across South America.”
“She’s doing well,” the Father told him. “I see her every so often at the hospital when a family member calls me in for a dying relative. And how is Natalya? I’d figured she would be with you. From what I understood you two decided to make another go at it.”
“We are and she’s doing good. But she’s in Malaysia right about now,” he explained.” She took up a job at another art shop, this time as somebody who travels the world looking for interesting objects. It’s a pretty high end place according to her. Like she’d work anywhere else right? She’s coming back in a couple of weeks, we had a place picked out and bought before she got the job.”
“And how are things between you two?”
“We’re trying very hard not to fall into the big traps we did last time,” he said wincing as those memories popped back up into his head. “It’s a little easier now since we don’t have to worry about her father, as bad as that sounds. Especially since I’m the reason why he’s not around anymore.”
Looking back at the other customer the Father carefully said, “I’m sure things will work out in the end they always do if you’re patient.” Owen hated that the Father felt he had to tell a lie there, but at least he was protecting his secret. “Although Susan did tell me you were passing on teaching new students.”
“How are things at the church?”, Owen said trying to change the subject. “Did you make any changed to the interior?”
“Owen…,” he started to say.
Owen paid his bill and for the Father’s coffee before he could say anything else. The Father followed him out the door but kept silent as they walked down the street. Fifties years of knowing this man made it hard for him to avoid the question he asked earlier. “I’m not ready to take on another student yet.”
“I realize losing Keith hit you hard, we all felt his loss. And we both know he wouldn’t want you to act like this.”
“I know Father, I’m just a little gun shy at the moment.” Owen started to smirk, “Of course I’m starting a job were I’m dealing with trying to get a bunch of teenagers to learn a history most of them probably don’t care about to begin with.”
“With all the traveling you’ve done you might be better off teaching them World Geography.”
“I thought about that but I was more curious to find out what the history books say I forgot,” he joked. The Father laughed a bit. They walked down the street as the Father caught him up on things. Apparently this Immortal Thief was getting to be a big deal. A little too big. Maybe he should touch base with Susan and get her take while he was still in town. If this idiot was an immortal then he was going to attract attention of others trying to silence him, one way or another. If they hadn’t already. He tried not to think about what kind of nasty son of a bitch would show up in that case. That was the last thing he needed to run into at the moment.
He paused as a sensation in the back of his head that quickly punched him in the stomach known in their circles as the buzz hit him head on. He carefully survived his surroundings looking for the source. The Father look at him for a moment before he remembered he knew that look on the immortal’s face, “Is it somebody you know?’
“Doesn’t necessarily make it a good thing if I did,” he told him. He kept looking until he saw a well dressed man, apparently in his late fifties with a cane come toward them. He sized Owen up before saying, “I am Gerald Heartfelt.”
“Owen McAllister,” he said as he searched the other man for any sign of a weapon and not seeing anything right away. That usually made him nervous.
“I came to this fair city looking for this so-called Immortal Thief,” he announced. “To properly quiet the noise he had been making in case he hasn’t had a proper teacher. If you are not him then I could always use the practice.”
“Look I don’t want a fight,” Owen said. “I’m just passing through visiting an old friend. I’m starting a new job in a few days. Wouldn’t look good if I’m reported dead before then.”
“And I am not giving you a choice in the matter,” Heartfelt told him. He went to smack Owen in the head with the end of his cane but the guy was no Naoto and he caught it easily before came in contact and just stared at him. A look that made the Father cringe a little. “You do have a fire in your belly. Good I thought I was looking at a woman for a second. Now either accept my challenge or do I have to take to roughing up your pet human here?”
“Alright asshole let’s go,” Owen told him.
Naturally the Father tried to stop him, “Owen you don’t have to do this. Don’t worry about me.”
“Not in my world Father.” Owen followed him down an alley until they found a deserted section big enough for them to use and was out of sight. Reaching into his hooded sweatshirt he pulled his long sword out of it’s hidden scabbard. Heartfelt simply gripped his cane and pulled revealing a thin metal blade hidden in the shaft. “In your cane,” Owen said not actually believing he just saw that, “really?”
“How else is a proper gentleman supposed to walk around with a blade in this day and age?”
“Point one out and I’ll ask.” Heartfelt didn’t take the bait as he took up position holding his sword like a fencing foil. Owen held up his sword in a classic guard as he studied the other man’s movement. From his gaze he was doing the same to Owen. Like a fencer he came at Owen who quickly backed up deflecting the blade with his own. Metal clangs filled the air as they fought to a standstill. Then Owen changed up styles to force Heartfelt back a bit. Something Finlay drilled into him when he was his teacher. Then Heartfelt backed up suddenly and tried to kick him in the head as he over swung. Owen dodged that one and barely got his sword back up as he blocked a swing aimed at his neck.
“Good reflexes,” he commended him.
“So me an immortal who hasn’t.”
“I would but they died by my hand.” Heartfelt went on the attack again swinging with precise strikes at his limbs that Owen had to hurry and block each time. He was trying to wear him down, make him make a mistake. So Owen charged forward breaking through his attack. With his sword he caught the other immortal’s blade and forced it over his head. With everything he had he kicked him in the gut. Heartfelt stumbled back a few feet before finally falling to the ground. Owen lowered his sword and walked after him, unaware at how close the tip of his sword was to the ground. The other man quickly got to his feet, missing the dark look the momentarily crossed Owen face. “This is better exercise than I thought it would be,” he proclaimed
“I had my Wheaties this morning boyo,” he quipped, abit of his old brogue slipping through. Owen went on the attack making Heartfelt retreat a bit. Forcing him against the wall he changed style one more time and flung the other man bald out of his hand. As it plunged in a nearby wall Owen brought up his sword for a killing strike.
“You wouldn’t harm an unarmed opponent would you?”, Heartfelt ask question.
“Would you?”, Owen shot back
“Yes I would,” he admitted and prepared himself. Owen swung in the next second and watched as his head fell to the side and his body dropped to the ground like a broken marionette. Backing up the fallen man’s neck started to glow and a lighting like energy flowed out and swirled around in the air. Then it came right at him as lightning striked all around him. Glass above him started to crack and break as the energy known as the Quickening poured into him relentlessly. His arms were forced out and he screamed at the top of his lungs as it felt like it was going to tear him apart from the inside out.
After what seemed like a lifetime of agony it stopped and he dropped to his knees totally exhausted and vulnerable. A moment later his eyes came back into focus as he became himself one more time. Or so he thought at first. In the back of his mind there was a sensation he could only describe as a chuckle, one direct at him. It finally faded away as he stood up. Glancing up at the sky he looked disgusted with himself, “I thought I got rid of you.”
Putting his long sword back into it’s scabbard he found the Father were he left him. As always he seemed relieved that Owen was still in one piece. “I saw that lightning again and thought the worst.”
“Sorry to worry you Father,” he said while still working out some of the stiffness in his body after that Quickening. That one hurt a little more than usual.
“Owen, does it make it any easier if you don’t know the person?” That was the closest thing to a morbid question that he had ever heard the Father ask in fifty years. And it admittedly took him by surprise.
“It’s like being in the middle of a war zone Father, kill them before they kill you,” he said after trying to find a way to explain it. “And to be honest, it doesn’t. Why are you asking now?”
“I’m not sure, something about the way you walked out, you seemed different somehow. It’s probably nothing.”
“More than likely, some quickening affects me different than others. I’ll be back to normal in a bit. I hate to head off, but I want to see Susan before I leave. I want to get home before dark and I can’t really remember if I had the electricity turned on yet.”
“I thought you Immortals remembered everything you’ve done,” the father smirked.
Owen couldn’t help but grin, “Yeah but the little stuff still slips through every so often. We still human after all.”
“Alright my boy, I won’t keep you.”
“I’m still relatively close by so I’ll be dropping in to see you every so often. Oh and if you get a call from a Henry MacDonald that’s going to be me.”
“I’ll remember that, take care of yourself Owen.” The priest started to shake his hand put pulled him into a hug. “It is good to see you again Owen.”
“You too father. I’ll see you around.” He walked back to his bike planning to head to the hospital. A new start, that’s what he needed. Hopefully this life he picked won’t be as eventful as his last one. Then again he was an Immortal, there was always somebody willing to challenge you around the corner. Hopefully those corners will be few and far between where he was heading, but he wasn’t betting on it.
science experiment gone wrong
The alarm clock buzzing in the background Owen’s hand searched for it until he finally found it and turned it off. Rolling over onto his back he stared at the ceiling for a bit, today was the day. After three hundred and fifty two years he couldn’t remember when he was ever this nervous about anything. Looking over to the other side of the bed he wished she would hurry and get her, he needed all the help he could get this morning. Realizing he couldn’t put it off any longer he got up, stretched a bit as his immortality took care of the rest and got ready for the day. Fresh out of the shower and half dressed he looked at his reflection as he lathered up the lower half of his face. If they saw him looking this scared they would eat him alive. His phone started ringing as he was almost done, although he looked away at the right time to miss a faint shadow cross his reflection. Cleaning up he hurried into the bedroom and glanced at the ID on the cell and broke into an immediate grin. “Good morning Natalya.”
“Hi Owen,” she answered. “I hope I got the timing right. I was worried I was going to beat the clock waking you up.”
“I can think of worse ways of being woken up,” he told her. “In fact I remember somebody trying to take my head while I was... hey wait a minute.”
“I think it’s time you let that go,” she said, obviously not as amused as he was. “That was a long time ago.
“After all the crap you won’t let me live down?” he shot back. “I got to have something.”
“If it makes you feel better I’ll get you have that one for a couple of more years, then it goes for good. So are you ready for the big day as your first official day as a high school teacher? Or as you put it becoming one of the damned.”
Trying to fix the phone so it stayed between his chin and shoulder as he put on a shirt he answered, “I’m still trying to figure which is worse, the fact I’ve seen how teenagers act now a days or the fact they’re making me wear a suit.”
“Don’t bitch, I told you it’s not an attractive look for you,” she told him. “And you look cute in a suit, looking all professional like it’s kinda hot.”
“You’re lying through your teeth and I was hoping to be the hip teacher. I look young enough to be the hip teacher.”
“New guys can’t be the hip teacher, I think it’s a law or something.” He could hear the smile in her voice. He couldn’t wait to see that smile again.
He started searching for the tie that went with the rest of the suit he was planning on wearing, “Well I wouldn’t feel quite as bad if you were here. How much longer are you going to be in Malaysia? I’m getting used to having the bed to myself again and that can’t be a good thing.”
“Especially when I do get back,” she laughed. “But I’m afraid the reunion going to have to be postponed a little while longer.”
He immediately stopped what he was doing, “What happened?”
“I just took on a student,” she explained. He relaxed a bit, that could have been so much worse.
“You’re not going to sleep with this one are you?”
“This one is female thank you very much,” he could just the annoyance on her face right then. And right then he was glad she was a half a world away. “That’s almost as bad as calling me a slut you know.”
“Well if you do could you tape it and send it to me?”
“Owen McAllister!”, she chided him.
“Joking joking,” he quickly backtracked. “So what about this one is keeping you around?”
Natalya sighed, “From what I can gather she’s never been out of the country. I don’t even think she’s ever left her town.”
“And we don’t want culture shock along with the usual immortality shock,” he said in understanding. “It’s probably a good idea to keep her someplace familiar for a while until she gets used to the idea.”
“I’m glad you agree I talked it over with Susan this morning and she thought to would be better to get it out of the way.” She was silent for a bit, “We also talked about something else, something about you having a relapse.”
“It’s nothing,” he quickly told her. “It hasn’t happen again since. Even she said it was probably my imagination and she’s old enough to know the difference.”
“I’m going to tell her you said that,” she teased. “Just let me know if anything changes alright. I hate being kept in the dark.”
“I know you do,” he said. “Were the hell is that tie?”
“Bottom rack, probably near the door handle,” she said. Owen looked and there it was exactly like she said.
Holding it up in disbelief he uttered, “You are officially scaring me now.”
“I just know you that’s all. I better go and let you finish whatever you do. Now don’t embarrass yourself in front of your students.”
He smiled, “I love you too.”
“I’ll be there before you know so you can show me personally,” she said in a seductive voice that usually got him going.
“Then we better hope this house is soundproof.”
“I made sure it was before we put in the down payment. Just let that thought sink in until I get there.”
“I have to work today I don’t need thoughts like that on my first day.”
“Then you have the wrong girlfriend. I’ll talk to you later Owen.”
“Not if call you first.”
“You better,” she said before hanging up. Well this day just got a whole lot better.
A few hours later Owen was glad he got that call because the day hadn’t stated out all that well. Starting with the fact lost him in the paperwork since he had been hired. The modern age was great when things worked properly. On a slightly more personal note he was worried about getting challenged by another immortal if he came across one, and because his sword was in his car, and the car was at the far end of the parking lot, he was going to have to book it to have a chance in a fight. And since he was teaching history and hadn’t really taken a good look through his text book yet he was slightly worried a picture of him might be in there somewhere. God know it’s happened before. But at least his fears about the students weren’t coming true. Outside a couple of wise asses the kids were pretty well behaved, so maybe this wouldn’t be too bad. Then again it was the first day, most of them were probably just laying low before they started acting like normal. After lunch he was getting ready for another class as they came pouring in through the door. “Just sit anywhere,” he told them. “I’m not really worried about assigning seats unless it becomes necessary.” The bell signaling the start on the new period and he let them have a moment to get settled. “All right every one welcome to eleventh grade world history…,” he stopped when he picked up something, something small and faint in the back of his head, that quickly went away when another blond teenage girl walked in the door.
“Sorry,” she said, “I don’t know the school just yet.”
“It’s my first day here too,” he assured her. “Just find a seat….”, he said while glancing at his class list.
“Janet Smith,” she answered.
While she did so he addressed the class, “I might as well say this now since it’s come up. Despite they’re making me wear I’m pretty lenient so I’ll give you a couple of tardies before I start marking them down. Not many so keep that in mind in case you start thinking you can be late to my class anytime you want.” While he was talking he saw the new girl stand in front of a seat that was currently being occupied by a book bag. Owen looked over the room and not seeing another empty chair he said, “Could whoever owns that bag move so Janet can sit down.”
“She can find someplace else to sit,” the apparent owner of the bag said. He could just see the attitude come off there as she sat in her chair, so he immediately dubbed her Princess in his head. Shooting a disdainful look at the new girl she didn’t attempt to move the bag. “There’s plenty of floor space. It looks like she’s seen it enough time.”
Oh yeah this one was going to be the headache causer. The new girl, Janet, look like she was about to say something but he quickly got involved. “And book bags are supposed to be place under the chair not on top of them.”
“My dad is the principle of this dump,” she said with a look that she thought she just won. Obviously a girl used to getting her own way. Where was Natalya when he needed her?
“And I’m sure your father would be glad to know that you’re keeping a student from getting a proper education,” he said instead. She tried to stare him down, he stared right back. They stood a stalemate for a few moments before she apparently realizing he wasn’t going to back down. Slowly she took the bag off the chair and placed it under her’s. Looking like she was trying to find a way to get even with him he smiled, just to piss her off a little more. “Now that’s settled let’s get back on track. “Janet took her seat as he continued, “This is World History. My name is Henry MacDonald. As I said before I’m pretty easy going so inside this class I will answer to Henry. I will answer to Hank. I will answer to Mr. MacDonald. But only my good friends get to call me old.”
After a few seconds most of the students started chuckling and smiling. “It took me five periods to find a class who got that joke,” he said grinning. “I have hopes for this class now. Okay then let’s get started.” He walked round his desk, grabbed the text book and class assignment list and went to the black board. After the few wars he’d been in part of him recognized a quiet spot that just formed behind him. The part that usually signaled incoming fire. Waiting a beat until he heard it he quickly turned around and blocked the spitball that was coming at him with the text book. Overly dramatic yes, but the look on the shooter’s face was worth it. Beside it was a good thing to let his students know he’d been around the block a few times right off the bat.
Flicking the wad off the book and into the trash he looked at the guy who still had the straw up to his face and was still dumbfounded. “And here I was thinking the spit wad died out in the fifties. Good distance though I’ll give you that much.” He walked toward him, “And since this has also come up you all should know that you all get one freebie in the screw up department.” Taking the straw from the kid, who still hadn’t moved, he leaned in a bit, “And you just wasted yours on the first day.” Genius he finished to himself, although he kept his face as neutral as possible. Okay he was enjoying it a little bit, but he was a teacher now he had to be professional. Or at least fake it.
“As I was saying before I was interrupted by target practice, in fact let me do a quick roll call to make sure everybody is here first.” That done he looked at them, “Let’s forget the formalities, you all know the drill by now. I’ll assign you stuff, you’ll hopefully learned it by the time we go over it. I’ll throw in the occasional pop quiz when I feel like it. Kids usually groan here.” The class obliged and he started smiling, “This might be my favorite class so far. Are there any questions?” A boy in the back raised his hand, “You, Terry was it?”
“How did you get that scar on your neck?”
“I ran with scissors. Any questions about the class? No? Alright let’s dive right in so all of you can come right up and pick up a book and we can start with start with chapter one then,” and something told this was going to be a long school year, especially if the look “Princess” was giving him was any indication.
science experiment gone wrong
Sitting in the school cafeteria Owen sat and stared at the tray of “food” in front of him. Three hundred and fifty some years and he’s never… He realized that they had to make it acceptable to as many pallets as possible and make sure it was nutritious as well. But honestly he thought they were living in an age where things that were supposed to be good for you were good tasting as well. Then again considering some of these things at this particular high school it shouldn’t have been a surprise that they haven’t caught up that area either. It was a nice enough school, but the computers were a couple of generations out of date and the textbooks were printed in the nineties. But some of the teachers he’s talked to were creative and found ways around these particular roadblocks. And of course they kids were bright and eager, which honestly surprised him especially the eager part.
Then again there were others like Princess and the group she hung around. Now they were what he thought the majority of his classes were going to be like. Being the daughter of the school principle, a sad fact he was able to confirm with the other staff, she thought she basically ran the place. And according to the others she pretty much did. In fact all of her teachers couldn’t wait until she graduated so they would get her out of their hair. He wished Natalya was around because he really, really wanted to introduce Princess to her. It might fix the problem, or add to it if she took it too far
Speaking of the problem he was soon aware of the Principle hovering by him. Jennings was a nice enough guy, going bald, pencil mustache, apparently had a nervous tick that popped up every so often. But during the first few minutes of their interview Owen had him peg as a pushover. And according to the grapevine his daughter pretty much has him wrapped around her little finger, hence the whole running the school thing. He was also a somewhat passive personality, meaning while Owen could see he wanted to say something to him he was taking his time building up the resolve. He took pity on the man and started the conversation for him, “Is there something I can do for you Principle Jennings?”
“Ah yes,” he said in that meek voice of his. Listening to him he realized maybe it was better if Natalya wasn’t around, lord only knew what she’d do to this poor man if they ever met. “I wanted to talk to you about that scar on your neck. You said you got it shaving.”
“And I did,” he answered. He should have done more to Harris than just scar him back. Coming up with a believable cover story for something this size was a pain.
“Yet you told one of your classes on the first day you got it running with scissors?”
And he knew exactly where he got that bit of information. Ignoring Princess and her group he simply said, “I was asked a stupid question so I gave a stupid answer, just as simple as that.”
“And you encourage your students to refer you by your first name.”
“I said I’d answer to it if it was said, not exactly encouraging.”
“Mr. McDonald, there is a standard I want my teachers to adhere to. And it’s not very professional to let your students call you by your first name.”
Owen wanted to laugh, only because he choose now to show a backbone. “And several teachers around here let their students address them by their first name. Don’t believe me ask your wood shop teacher over here he’s the one who told me.”
“That’s right,” the older man said as he passed them. “I even herd your daughter call you Randolph in the hall during the middle of school day.”
“That’s not the same thing,” he said getting flustered.
“Still not very professional,” Owen countered. “So unless you want to give me an extra chair so I can assign your daughter’s book bag a seat I wouldn’t believe all the rumors coming out of my classroom.”
The fact he sputtered for something to say told him he was right about where he was getting this information from, if not the actual reason.
“Uh-oh”, the wood teacher said. Owen and Jennings looked over to see Princess stick out her leg just in time to trip the new girl Janet. While the shop teacher looked over at the Principle who just looked the other way Owen went over there with his hand in his pocket and told her, “I suggest you help her up and apologize.”
“It’s not my fault she’s a klutz,” she said in a dismissive way. Right now Owen went back to wishing Natalya was here.
“And I saw otherwise,” Owen said standing her ground.
“And how about I get you in trouble and tell my Daddy you just sexually harassed me. Now go away and mind your own business.”
Owen looked around as the shop teacher and Jennings joined the situation. “Did you just hear that?”
Jennings was about to say something when Princess started to stare him down. Owen and the shop teacher both silently begged him to hold his ground and be the school authority figure. But that backbone he was showing just evaporated and he meekly replied, “No I didn’t hear a thing.”
“Oh well you’re in luck,” he said as he pulled his phone out of his pocket. “My girlfriend told me it might be in my best interest to record any conversation I have with troubled students.” Rewinding it a bit he up the volume and hit play.
“And how about I get you in trouble and tell my Daddy you just sexually harassed me.”
“I love this age we live in,” Owen said, mainly to the shop teacher who grinned to himself.
“You better hope something doesn’t happen top that phone,” Princess told him, not even hiding the threat in that statement.
“And how about I get you in trouble and tell my Daddy you just sexually harassed me.” Everybody looked at Owen who was as confused as the rest of them. Then Janet got to her feet and hit something on her phone and everybody heard Princess again.
“It felt like a good idea to me too,” she said. Princess grabbed her bag and walked off in a huff with Jennings and her group of friends right behind her. Owen gave into temptation and waved goodbye, yeah Natalya was rubbing off on him alright. Janet grabbed her things off the floor and said “Thank you.”
“Just watch were other people feet are from now on,” he said with a slight smile. “And we got that test next week so make sure to study.” She smiled and went on her way.
The shop teacher leaned in and whispered, “Better careful McAllister, you’re going to get in it deep if you step in the middle of that particular family.”
“It wouldn’t be the worst family problem I’d have in all my years,” he said with a knowing grin. The shop teacher smiled back.
“You told me that problem, if I was you I would stay as far away from trouble as possible.” Owen just shrugged. “So why did you get involved just now.”
“Well we are supposed to be the authority figures around here. And we were all the new kid at some point weren’t we?” And his mind went back to a time he was just that.
It took Owen a long time to find anybody who would take him to this particular island off the main one of Japan. He told himself it was because it was the middle of winter, but the real reason was he barely spoke the language. Finlay told him that was going to be a problem at first but assured he’d pick it up in no time. Of course the older Immortal never told he’d have a hard time finding anybody to practice with. And those who did know English apparently never heard a proper Irish brogue in their life. Fortunately he knew the Japanese word for monk so a few of the more helpful local, meaning those who didn’t immediately scowl at or ignore the foreigner, pointed him in the right direction.
Walking the path it wasn’t long before he felt the buzz. He looked around, still trying to calm his reactions and not seem so obvious. The only other people he saw were two figures coming in the opposite direction. One had plain robes, a wide hat and a walking stick, the other was shorter and had robs going over his or her head. The one with the stick gently pushed the other one behind him. Not wanting to make an enemy his first day on the island he held up his hands in a non threatening manor and took a step back, “My name is Owen McAllister and I don’t want any trouble. I’m looking for a monk named Naoto.”
The taller one looked at him with his head cocked to the side a bit and in near perfect English asked, “And why are you looking for Naoto?”
“My teacher convinced me to learn under him for a bit. He said he had a special strike I should try and learn.”
“And who is this teacher?”
“His name is Finlay. I know you might not have heard of him but…”
“I have heard of him.” He started walking toward him, “Tell me,” before he knew that walking stick smacked him in the head, it was so fast Owen barely registered it and the force was enough to make him stumble back a bit, “was that the strike he was speaking of?” There was almost an amused glint in his eyes.
“Why you…” Owen reached for his sword, again this man was faster as he pulled a sword out of the walking stick and held the point right at his neck.
“Patience Little Immortal. It is not wise to challenge those who are stronger than you without proper preparation.”
This guy was getting on his nerves fast and let it show, “Little Immortal?”
“You act like a little child in this angry state,” was all he said. “But your journey is over, I am the Naoto Finlay spoke of.” Cocking his head to the side again he asked, “Did he tell you of my other skill?”
“You mean those so called ‘unbeatable’ moves?”
Now he looked genuinely curious, “You don’t believe they work?”
“I’m sure they work but they seem like to much of a liability to me. Like it would be too easy to rely on them and not work on anything else.” Naoto looked satisfied as he nodded his head and took the sword away from his neck.
“I may have to rethink my opinion of your current maturity level,” he said as he put the sword back into the walking stick. “I will attempt to teach you my special strike, and other things if you so wish. Although be warned, many have tried but so far very few of actually succeeded”
“After I said I don’t believe in unbeatable moves?”, Owen asked in confusion.
“Although I do create them out of boredom,” he explained, “I feel like you do and rarely use them. If you felt you needed to learn them then I would have sent you on your way for you would be wasting both of our valuable time and energy. Perhaps this is why Finlay sent you here.” He turned to the person behind him, “Himiko go and make sure the hut behind our home is suitable. We don’t want our guest to repeatedly freeze to death while he stay with us.”
“At once Brother,” and that voice was unmistakably female. She looked up to see Owen and he saw a young girl who’s features were only marred by a scar on the left side of her face that ran under her chin. She lowered her head again as she went off but Owen kept looking at her, almost amazed at how beautiful she looked.
Realizing he was staring and Naoto was watching he tried to recover and asked, “Brother?”
“A long story,” he said, almost amused, “perhaps one we will share with you as you stay. Now come we have much to discuss. I like to know all I can about those who want to train with me.
“I guess we all were,” the shop teacher agreed as Owen came back to the present in his mind. “But still be careful, she may not take your head but she may make you wish she did when she’s done.”
“Thanks for the concern but I think I can take care of myself, better get back to my lunch. God this food probably worse cold.” If it wasn’t for the fact the round trip to his favorite restaurant in Chicago would have been three hours he would have been so tempted.
Around that time in Chicago a car chase was going down in the middle of the streets of downtown. The driver wearing ski mask leading the chase didn’t seem to care about the people he was running off the road to avoid the police that were behind him. Seeing a trap being set right in front of him he took it to the sidewalk to avoid it adding vehicular assault and homicide to the charges currently against him. A quick glance in his rearview showed that at least one of the cop cars decided to follow him on the sidewalk, now this guy he appreciated. Going back on the streets he was able to avoid any more traps and pitted a police car that was trying to that to him as he made his way to his destination. The parking garage came up fast and he crashed through the gate and quickly made his way to the top with his followers in tow.
Not even slowing down once he got to the top he aimed the grill of the car toward the wall and locked the steering wheel in place. Bracing for impact he grabbed the briefcase beside him with one hand and the door handle with the other. The moment the car crashed through the small barrier and was in freefall and opened the door and jumped out. The car crashed into the building across from the garage and he plummeted toward the street. Landing in a heap he laid there for several critical seconds before breathing in hard and getting up quick. Taking off the mask to reveal his handsome features he opened the case and checked the contents. The bag of jewel he just “acquired” didn’t even rattle in the case he designed for it. Putting the bag inside his jacket and ditching the bag he worked his way toward a crowd and deftly melted in as some people tried to see what that crash was.
science experiment gone wrong
"Looks like this so called 'Immortal Thief' got away again." This was from one of Susan's fellow doctors at the hospital as he read over the paper in the break room. For months now this individual had been the talk of the town, unfortunately he was starting to make the national news as well. And those who were actually immortal were starting to get nervous. Centuries of trying to stay out of the public eye was a hard enough on the nerves as it was. This kind of attention... well there were times she was glad she couldn't develop ulsers. Well if she could her immortal abilities would have taken care of them almost as soon as they formed. That might be a interesting study, not that any immortal he knew would willingly volunteer
"Have the police have any idea about how he appraently doing these 'miraculas feats' yet?", she asked not taking her eyes off the tablet in her hands.
"If they do they're not saying anything so far." He put it down to look at here. "How do you think this guy is doing this? I mean I heard the experts they brought in on the news hem and haw trying to explain what they think is going on."
"I saw one of them them the other night," she told him, still not taking her eyes off the tablet. "I almost felt bad at laughing at him as he mixed himself up a couple of times."
"Yet you obviously did, for shame," he said in mock disaproval. Susan shrugged and kept on reading. "And you still haven't answered my question."
"And I can honestly say I have no idea how he's doing this." Although she hoped her suspisions about how where totally off the mark. "Best guess he does a lot of planning ahead of time, maybe even special builds some saftey equipment for his crashes so the police can't recognize them when they study the wreckage. I would say it was in the realm of possibilities that he might be a stunt man of some sort."
"I had that thought a few times myself," he admitted. "It make sense on a logical level but you think he'd be hurt somewhere along the line."
"Well they say God favors the fools." And she knows she seen the truth in that line more than once in her lifetime.
"What exactly are you looking at that's so interesting?", he finally asked getting up. Susan handed the tablet to him so he wouldn't be looking over her shoulder. She hated it when people did that, always had. That's way she always made sure she stayed near the back of any formation back in her warrior days. That and most of her enemies never saw her ahead of time. A woman on the battlefield was always easy to spot.
"It's a new experimental spinal fusion technique," she explained. "It's supposed to minimize on the actual cutting open and cut down on recovery time. It's still in the theory stage but it looks promising so far."
"I don't think I'll ever understand your facination with neck injuries," he told her as he handed her back the tablet. If you only knew she thought to herself. And if he only knew just how far back her 'fascination' actually went. Back in her pre immortal days one of her favorite tactics was to sneak behind a person and try to twist their head around until it was facing the other direction. Perhaps not the most honorable of tactics but it got the job done on many occasion. And most people who knew her now, who really knew her, would probably be surprised how much she actually enjoyed hearing that snap when she was succesful.
As she kept telling them it was a different time back then. And she was a different woman.
"I had a cousin who became a parapaligic because of one," she told him, using a lie she's used before. "Guess I've been fascinated ever since. Still it doesn't hurt to keep up to date on things. You never know what's going to be useful in a few years."
"True, true," he agreed. "It still amazes me how far we've come in the past thirty years alone. I couldn't even begin to imagine a quarter of the stuff we're able to do now back then."
"Oh I know," she agreed. "Even when I'm on my rounds I can't even imagine how many lives we would have been able to save if we knew then what we know now." He nodded in agreement and sat back down. Of course when she started learning medicine amputating a leg in the middle of an active battlefield and not have it get infected was considered a good day.
Her colluege went back to his paper and looked at the headline that started this particular conversation. "I hope they cath this idiot soon. And if the poor bastard does die when one of his tricks backfire hopefully they'll give his brain to science. There would be a line wanting to study it."
She nodded but said nothing. In her secret world there was already a line looking for this particular individual's head. And with more and more coming in to have a particular word or two with this thief... well she started to grow a little uneasy at the thought. More than a few of those were considered head hunters by others she knew. And if she learned on thing about head hunters over the centuries it was eventually they won't care who's head it was when they came across another Immortal. And she'd already lost a friend or two thanks to people looking for this thief. She almost hoped the police did catch him first, the poor bastard would be safer behind bars at this point. Times like these she was glad, God forgive her, Dijkhuizen was no longer around. The jump in the death total would have been staggering.
The end of the day was the usual business. You're relief came in, if you were lucky. If both of you had a few spare moments you would personally update them on a patient to keep an eye on or two. Then you went home. Unless your relief didn't show up then you were stuck, more than likely until the next shift came in and tried to catch a quick nap were you could. Over the years Susan learned to keep an extra set of clothes in her office for such an occassion. And she changed into them now. Oh her relief showed up but she wanted to get out of the working clothes and ito something different.
She walked home as always, despite the fact she had a car readily avaliable.She broke it out only if she had a particularly long trip or the weather was too bad to travel by foot. Most of her co-workers thought was crazy considering she lived a couple of miles away from the hospital. She told them she needed the exercise. Truth be told if she zoned out just enough she could almost imagine she was back on the battlefield. The various sound, honks, screeches and yelling of mid day going home traffic in a weird way it sounded just like a battle to her. Most of the people she knew would comment that she was in some very strange battles. Looking around and listening to the sounds she was hearing she was hard pressed to disagree. Still it helped her stay alert and aware of her surroundings, nobody stayed alive as long as she has without being alert. At a very young age she learned that a warrior that wasn't alert soon found something forcibly rammed through them.
And not in the good way as Natalya would say. And that thought made her grin a little bit.
Thinking about her made her check her phone. Both Natalya and Owen had left messages in the past few hours. More than likely updating her on the various details of their new lives. In Natalya's case talking about her new student. Susan was never a vindictive person, but seeing how many times she checked herself for gray hairs whle she was trying to train her, she hoped she had an almost as, shall we say, interesting student as she was.
She realized that wasn't really fair. Natalya was alive for two hundred years before she even found out there were rules to their lives now. Both her and Owen had tried to convince her that her father was just trying to do his best to protect her, granted on Owen's part this was after he was forced to kill him a couple of years ago. Susan still wished she had the oppertunity to tell him exactly what she thought of how he was doing it. Natalya was damn lucky to still be alive at that point in her opinion, especally the way she was playing the game. And she was more than glad the two of them finally decided to give it a second go. She didn't want to judge them being a person of God now but Susan was personally getting tired of their on again of again way of doing things before then. Then again she and Owen had spent a week long "cold night" together more or less after they first met so she really couldn't say anything.
Her thoughts were interrupted by by the feeling of the buzz. Stopping where she was she looked around, partially to locate the other immortal, partially to check her surroundings. This part of the city was sparsely populated at this time of day so any chance of her just continuing walking and avoiding a potential confrontaion were slowing getting slimmer by the moment. Pushing down hard won warrior instincts for the moment she quickly located the other immortal, and it wasn't one she recognized. And at first galnce he didn't look like a very pleasant individual.
He sized her up before heading toward an alley. She did the same before he did so. He was taller than her by at least six inches by her estimation, more than likely had the reach advantage too. It wouldn't have been the first time she found herself in that situation. If she was smart she would ignore this individual and kept on walking, but she had seen the look in his dark eyes more times than she cared to remember. Those were hunter's eyes. And they got a good look at her. If she kept walking she would see him again before she knew it, quite possibly at the hospital. Looking around for any prying eyes she headed into the alley. When she found him deep in those alley's he already had a sword in hand. "This is usually where we make proper indrotuctions," she reminded him when he said nothing for several moments.
"I don't care what you name is bitch," he told her. Well this one may be rather new then, or had a lousy teacher. Probably both.
"Well then," she said as she drew her rapier, "let's get to the busy part then."
"A woman of God that eager to do combat," he snickered. "Oh that's a good one. I'll give you credit for not shaking yourself out of your oh so holy drawers."
"Really now?", she said arching an eyebrow.
"I see the the cross hanging around your neck," he justured with with the point of his sword. "I know your
religious types from a mile away. Oh holier than thou and all that bullshit. And just to get your panties in a bunch because I want a bit more of fight than you type usually give, because you are really easy to beat because you're not willing to kill."
"Becareful what you wish for," she told him. In an instant she dropped the facade, first in the eyes than with her demeanor. Going back to who she was all those many centuries ago, a warrior, a survivor of a countless amount of battles. Who ever this was he seemed taken aback by the sudden change. But not enough that he didn't attack her first. Susan's first teacher Finlay, bastard that he ended up being, forced her to learn to pay attention to how her opponent fought. Right now she was reassessing how old this one was since he seemed to be doing the same with her, he was just plain rude then. But she could still see a hint of superority in his eyes as they fought. Being a immortal woman she learned to ignore that look before she even became immortal. Besides she's had proven them wrong before but there was no point in getting cocky.
Swords clashing neither of them had drawn first blood yet. Not an easy feat when she was trying to stay close enough to negate his reach advantage. Then she thought she saw it, an opening. She tried to test what she saw without looking like she was doing so. Not an easy task no matter who you were fighting. But there it was an opening to exploit, or what seemed like it. There had been stories of Immortals who would create a false opening in their defense to lure in their opponent. She hadn't come across that type of lure yet, but there was always a first time. But his sword dipped slightly each time he went for a lunge, just enough for her to do something. Waiting a bit just to be caustous she quickly got her sword on top of his as he went for another lunge and forced it down until the point hit the ground. In that moment she quickly drew her sword back and stabbed him in the chest. He made a small noise in pain as he stood there looking at the steel violating his body.
Her medical training took over in that instant as she studied the wound. It might have been her imagination but the slight vibration in the bade told her she was close to the heart. Placement put it the top part of the arorta, deffinately severed. There was a slight chance he might be bleeding into his left lung but more than likely not. Still he had a few moments before he totally lost consousness. "I am going to tell you one thing," she said darkly as she backed him up into garbage by the wall. "Somethng I learned a very long time ago. Everybody, from the deadliest of sinners to the holiest of saints, everyone has a bit of darkness in them." Pulling the sword out as his eyes started to roll in back into his head Susan watched him drop and slump against a garbage can. Studying him for a second she added, "And all of them have a bit of light in them too." Something she hoped she was able to get through to Serenity before she went off with Scott. But it was probably why Susan never really gave up on the boy.
She did give the breifest of thoughts about walking way right now. Then she remembered those hunter's eyes. You never gave a hunter a second chance to come at you. In one movement she raised her sword over her head and brought it down taking his head cleanly. In seconds his Quickening was upon her as she screamed at the top of her lungs as it ravaged her. After what seemed like an eternity it was over and she dropped to her knees trying to recover as quickly as possible. Even if she couldn't sense them another immortal had to have felt that, with all of the ones looking for the thief it was almost a certainty. Getting back to the streets she looked around and didn't see anybody, not relaxing until she was a couple of blocks away. "I would be saying I'm getting to old for this if it wasn't so cliche." She was definitely calling Natalya when she got home. After checking her sword, she was pretty sure the tip scrapped against the wall as she beheaded the poor bastard, and she didn't want anything to mess up the balance. And after she checked her home phone for any messages from the hospital, she could get called back at any moment.
"The hell with it," she muttered. Pulling out her phone and calculating the time zone differances, and adding in Natalya's usual sleeping habits, she dailed a number and waited for the "leave a message" message to beep. "Hello Natalya it's me, I saw your message so feel free to call me back when you get this one. I'm going to be up for awhile so don't be afraid that you're going to wake up. Talk to you then." It was decided than, tonight she was going to just relax. And talking and laughing with her former student was the perfect way to do that. Maybe even get some food from that Chinese resturant Owen is always talking about.
After she checked the tip of her sword.
science experiment gone wrong
Owen felt a litte uncomforable coming back to Chicago with the "Immortal Thief" stuff going on. According to Susan more and more immortals have been coming in trying to silence this idiot. And if his stop off last time was any indication not all of them were caring if they were challenging the right guy or not. And that something that's happened at least twice so far to Susan when he talked to her last. If it wasn't for the fact that there where a lot of immortals still around and he wasn't feeling particularly drawn in he would have sworn the Gathering was finally happening. Not to mention a smart immortal would be avoiding this little witch hunt like the plauge until somebody got him.
Then again not a whole lot of smart immortals had a mortal friend they held near and dear to their heart. And he couldn't exactly say no when the Father called saying he wanted to meet up for coffee over the weekend. Actually part of him was afraid the Father would look a little older again. That was the only sad a part of being friends with a regular mortal, especialy if they knew what you really were, you'd watch them grow old over the years while you still looked the same. Like he would have done with Himiko if he was able too...
"Owen," The Father called out from across the street lifting him from his dark thoughts. He smiled and waved in return as he made sure it was clear before crossing. The Father took his hand as he greeted him, "It is good to see you again my boy," it was always a little weird for him when the Father called him boy considering he was way older than the man. But he took it in stride as always, it was one of the quirks that made his friend who he was.
"It's good to see you too Father," Owen told him turning that handshake into a quick hug. "How have you been?"
"As well as can be expected I supppose," he answered as they started walking down the street. "Before I forget should I be calling you 'Henry' while we're out in public? Just in case." A joke based on the smile he was giving him. He did everytime he moved on to a new identity.
"No we can go with the real names," he smiled. "How are things with the church?"
"As well as can be expected. Although I'm having a devil of a time coming up with tomorrow's sermon. Last few drafts I written fell like I'm starting to repeat myself a bit. I may have to wing it again."
"Does this involve closing your eyes, opening to a radom bible page and pointing your finger on something?", he joked.
"Only when I am really desperate," he joked back. "Although it's not why I originally called you down for coffee I am hoping I can get some sort of inspiration while we do."
"It might be better if you just wing it." They shared a small laugh.
"Have you heard from Natalya recently?", the Father asked.
"A couple of days ago. I don't think I told you she picked up a new student not that long ago. Her name is Evelyn. A very nice girl according to her, if not a little shy." He didn't say it outloud but sometimes shy could be a disadvantage if you're an immortal especially if you run into somebody with a more dominate and agressive personality. But if there was anybody who could break people out of their shell it was Natalya, kicking and screaming in most cases. "Apparently she hates it when Natalya calls her Eve. Which is why she does it."
"She's in Malaysia righty now correct?", the Father asked. Owen nodded for an answer. "A nice name, if not a little strange for that part of the world. As far as I understand it that is, of course."
"It's not as uncommon as you think," Owen told him.
"I suppose you're right. I suppose I'm a little too old and set in my particular mindset."
"Preaching to the choir Father," Owen told him with a wry look.
"Is your new teaching job going well?"
"It's going pretty well, I'm still a little afraid one of the kids is going to spot an old picture of me in the history book we're using. I have a couple of problem students I have to keep an eye on, but other than that it's going good."
"Any particularly bright students you're keeping an eye on," he asked. "I can only assume that with a few bad apples there has to be a few there to even things out."
"There is this one girl in one of my classes," Owen told him. "Her name's Janet, she doesnt talk much about herself or her family but she is as smart as a whip. But I think she moves around a lot."
"What makes you think that?"
"She's not really going out of her way to make any friends that I've seen. It's almost like she's afraid to."
"Like a child who has moved around alot," the Father added. "Yes I've seen that from time to time to. It's sad when you think about it really."
"I try to give her a cheery word or two here and there since I've been in that situation more than once. Well not often enough that romurs are going to start about me and her. God that would be mortifing after starting a new job. But..."
"But what Owen?"
"Just something that happened the other day that caught my notice. A couple of the foreign language teachers got this group session going during one of the breaks. Basically to try and help their students learn it a little better by having them talk with others trying to learn. Maybe see if the students would be interested in a different langauge than the one they're taking. They invited everybody in the school who could speak a different language or wanted to start learning, teacher and student alike. You didn't even have to be part of the class."
"And naturally since you know more than a few languages you voluntered." They paused their conversation for a moment as they reached a coffee shop and ordered a couple of cups and headed back outside.
Sitting down on a nearby bench Owen continued, "I'm a teacher I'm supposed to help right. And Janet's there too. Like I said she doesn't talk much about her home life but I swear she either spent some time in Germany or has some sort of German realitive because she spoke damn near perfect German."
"Why would you assume that?", the Father asked. "She could have learned it at another school."
To be honest that was the first thought that crossed his mind too. Unfortunately experience won out, "I've talked to people who have and you can always hear it in their voice, that high school accent as they call it. There was no accent with her. It was like they flown someone in from Germany and had them start talking. Even the German teacher was surprised at how fluent she was."
"She sounds like a quick learner then," the Fther told him. "But I don't see why that would catch your attention."
"Because I asked her how many languages did she know in German," he told his friend. "She answered 'Vier', four. That normally wouldn't have set anything off but she started acting different, like she was suddenly self consious and nervous about something. She made up an excuse and quickly left the group."
"Why would she do that?"
"I'm not sure," Owen told him. "I felt like I chased her off so I apologized the next time I saw her. She said not to worry about it and acted like nothing happened for the rest of the day. Although she did say she'd volunteer again if they got the group back together."
"An interesting concept if I do say so myself," the Father said while taking a sip. "Do you think that a situation like that is actually that helpful?"
"Well like I told Keith the best way to learn a different language is to spend some time in the culture. Since I don't think any of these kids are planning a trip to the their respective countries anytime soon this is probably the next best thing. Besides," he said with a knowing grin, "you never know what kind of magic moment will pop up."
He had been in Japan for a few months now and the weather just now seemed to warm up. While he did appreciate the hut Naoto allowed him to sleep in it really didn't do much to keep out the cold. There were times he felt like he chopped down most of the surrounding forest in order to keep warm. But the trees surronding him said he didn't down as amny of them as he thought, and the hut's wall did keep the wind off of him so it wasn't all that bad.
Unsurpisenly being a monk, Naoto and his sister HImiko, actually a girl he took in as a small child after she was attacked, lived on holy ground. The moment he agreed to take him in the older immortal decided his lessons would be two fold: practcing his sword fighting and try to pick up his special technique, and try to learn the native language. The former he had no problem with, it was why he was here after all. He had already picked up a few different sword fighting techniques so learning a new one wasn't a bad a idea. And he would never say this outloud but he marveled at the way Naoto handled his chosen weapon and realized he could stay here for years before he was even as half as good.
As for the latter... Well considering his first day here it couldn't hurt. FInlay and Susan both warned him that different parts of the globe spoke differently than the other. Even though it bored him he knew he had to learn.
And Naoto made him practice speaking the language almost as hard as he trained him with the sword. Fortunately the only witness those first couple of weeks were him and Himiko. She almost silently laughed as much at his mistakes there as when he made some during sword practice. It was annoying at first but he soon found it a little enduring for some reason. And she was such a sweet girl, it was hard to stay annoyed with her.
Before long he was fluent enough that he could hold a decent conversation with her without Naoto translating. Not that Himiko didn't know English she just didn't have an oppertunity to practice it that much. After awhile Naoto let her take over the Japanese lessons, especially now since it was warmer. And to repay the kindness they had showed him Owen agreed to let Himko practice her English with him. Although he found he had a hard time returning the silent laugh at her mistakes like she did him. After awhile it turned into a little game between the two of them. One of them would point at something and the other would have to say what it was in the other language. Not something Naoto generally approved of, but he looked the other way when they did. Actually he looked happy they were so close. Once cryptically saying, "It seems a little less dark in here," as he walked by them.
Then one day some happened he didn't plan or saw coming. It was just the two in the middle of a small field in the woods sitting across from each other playing their little game. Owen pointed at the object he was looking at, she located it and said, "Boulder."
Nodding with approval he told her, "I was expecting you to say rock."
"And there is a difference between a rock and a boulder," she told him plainly.
"Alright then lass, it's your turn."
"Hmm," she looked around trying to find something, proably something hard. With a finger out her hand went out and circled around until it pointed back at her. She smiled as she waited for his reponse.
Several possibilities crossed him mind: girl, woman, smile, her name itself. But without thinking, without realizing it he spoke in english and said one word, "Beautiful."
She turned her head to the left slightly to hide the scar that marred her features. Looking upset she said, "You are making fun of me."
"No," he said as she got up to leave. He quickly got to his feet and stopped her. "I would never make fun of you."
"Then why did you say I was beautiful?," she still had her head turned to hid the scar.
Gently he made her look at him, instantly regreting the pain he was seeing in her eyes. "Because you are to me," he admitted to her. He wanted to hold this woman close, try to comfort her in some way. but he stopped himself, he was a guest here. It wouldn't be proper for him to do such a thing, no matter how much he wanted to. But then she stepped a little closer to him and his arm wrapped around her involuntarily.
"You think I am beautiful?"
"I do," he told her. He started to lean in to kiss her, despite his head telling him to stop. He did when he felt the buzz and quickly let go of Himiko, got in front of her and gripped his sword. He relaxed a bit when Naoto came into view.
"How is today's lesson going?" he asked.
Owen answered for them, "Very well. I... think we surprised each other a little bit this time around."
"Yes," Himiko quickly agreed. "It was very," she looked him, "surprising."
"Well then," the older Immortal said looking satisfied, "I would say now is a fine as time as any to end today's lesson." He turned to leave but stopped, "We apparently have extra food for dinner tonight. As I would hate for it to got to waste perhaps, Little Immortal, you would like to join us."
"It would be my honor," Owen said with a slight bow, somethng he picked up and was hoping he was using correctly.
Naoto returned it, "The honor would be ours. Come Himiko let us get the house ready for our guest."
"Yes brother," she said as she followed him out of the feild. Although she did look back and smiled at him. Owen smiled back, feeling thngs he hadn't felt since Deborah.
"I've seen that look enough to know you're thinking about either Deborah or Himiko," the Father told him, breaking him out of the memory.
"You know me a little too well," he said a little shagrinned.
"Decades of experience my friend," the other man chuckled. "What langauge were you speaking during this group thing?"
"French," he answred.
"Ah, Natlaya's native tongue I see."
"I had to pick something," he told him. "Besides there were more Frech speaking students in the group than anything else. And old habits made me blend in. Of course now I have the Principal and a few others asking why I didn't mention I knew French and German when I hired in. So that was a bit of a mistake on my part."
"Well live and learn as they say."
Owen was about to answer but a siren cut him off. Despite how it looked Owen put an arm up to keep the Father back as a car sped down the street with a couple of police cars right behind it. Still Owen stood up and watched them leave. For a brief second he thought he felt another... No it couldn't have been.. He went by too fast for him to possible register another... "God please let it be one of the cops," he muttered.
"Owen," the Father said walking up to him, "are you alright? You look like you usually do when you," he looked around at the other people watching the scene with them and said a little lower, "when you 'see' somebody you know."
While part of him was grateful that he was trying to protect his secret he couldn't let that faint, and very fast, sensation he just felt go. "There's no way the Thief just passed by me. There's no way."
science experiment gone wrong
Despite the early hours and being forced to wear professional looking clothes Owen liked his current job. He even liked his students. Well most of them. A few, like "Princess" for example, made him wonder what he did in this life to get them in his life right now. The same could be said for a couple of the other teachers he'd come across so far. But he quickly learned to enjoy the relative solitude of the teacher's lounge. While a few grumbled about the new no smoking inside rule, including in here, it was a great way to relax and collect your thought before school started or during the lunch breaks.
Or mentally prepare yourself because you know that one student's, again "Princess", class period was still ahead of you.
Of course the talk all day between the teachers was the surprise no call no show of the wood shop teacher Harold Jones, or as Owen knew him better as Douglas O'Conner. "I still can't believe Harry did this," one of the teachers said on one end of the room. "He's been here for five years and I'd never even seen him take a sick day."
"I know,' said his companion at the table. "He joked he had a good immune system when I brought that to his attention."
The other one snorted, "I wouldn't doubt it. All I know is he's not here. Even some of the students are talking about it."
Admitiedly this surprised Owen a bit as well. He called his phone and left a message on his voice mail but he hadn't gotten a reply yet. Well if the worst didn't happen, and he prayed it didn't, maybe he had to pick up and move suddenly. It happened to Owen and others he knew on more than one occasion, usually when they just taken a head and realized after the fact there was a witness who saw you clear as day.
All of the conversations stopped as Principle Jennings walked into the lounge. Owen felt something grow in the pit of his stomach. Centuries of experience told him that slightly shocked and sullen face was never a good thing. "I just got off the phone with Mr. Jones' landlady who just got done talking with the police. He was found dead in an alley late last night. They identified him early this morning."
"Oh my God," somebody uttered. Owen pinched the bridge of his nose as he lowered his head.
"Did they say how he died?", somebody else asked.
"His landlady said they didn't go into specifics but it was implied that it wasn't of natural causes," Jennings answered. In Owen's mind they didn't have to he knew already. "I'm told the standard procedural will be followed meaning the police will be coming here and question all of here, just the standard questions I suppose. I'll talk to the police before they arrive, see if they would advise if we should cancel the rest of the school day. Lord knows the students will be poking their noses into it when they arrive. Mr. MacDonald." Owen didn't respond. Jennening stepped a little closer and repeated, "Mr. MacDonald. Henry."
He looked up and saw the concern in the other man's face. "I realize we haven't had the best of relationships since you been here but I also realize Mr. Jones was your friend. If you want to take off for the rest of the day I'm sure everybody would understand."
"No," although he did consider it for a second, "I want to be here when the police arrive. I don't
know anything that could help, but if anything I say can help solve this faster the better."
Jennenings nodded, and gave him a rather pitiful pat on the shoulder, like someone who wasn't used to doing so. "Well my door is always open if you want to talk. Now if you'll excuse me I have to make that call to the police."
And Owen hated the fact he had to chose his words carefully there. Because he knew somebody killed Douglas. He was also aware that his landylady was also his wife of the past thirty years or so and more than likely called the school to warn him ahead of time. Hopefully the police won't give her hard time of doing that.
The police eventually came around to asking him the same questions they were asking anybody else, fourtunately during the period after Princess' class. Just the standard ones he had been expecting: how well did you know him,did he have any problems with anyone that you knew of, did he ever mention anything strange that he had witnewss, was he acting stranger than usual. He did feel sorry for the officers in a way, it was obvious they hadn't dealt with a murder before much less somebody being found beheaded. Seeing something like that for the first time is never easy. Although he did give them credit for not going into details when he asked them how he died.
After the school day was over Owen walked the halls until he was in the woodshop class. There were a few of other teachers there already, a couple who were crying to themselves. One or two gave their condolances since they were friends. Owen thanked them and soon found himself alone in the room with his thoughts as he remembered how he found out the other man was an immortal as well.
The dark cloak helped masked his preseance in the darkness as he headed for the cemetary. He should have done this years ago but Finlay kept telling him it was a bad idea. But he had to do this now before he never had a chance to do this again. Ignoring most of the main part of town he kept to the outskirts as he headed for the cemetary. Bypassing the main gates he found the low part of the wall where he remembered it was and quickly hopped over. He made sure the caretaker or any of his assistants weren't in sight before heading on. Being here at ths time of night was going to be hard enough to explain as it was, he didn't want to run into anybody who recognized him too.
Although a few more graves have been added in the years he had been here last he knew the location by heart even thugh he had only been here once. Stopping in front of the grave marked Deborah McAllister he felt his heart grow heavy and the tears start to form again like they did as before. But he had to be strong like his teacher had said when he caught up with him here. Removing a hand from under the cloak he held a single flower. Knelling he put it on top of her grave and put a hand on the tombstone. He stood up quickly as he felt the preseance of another immortal near by, briefly panicking before realizing he was still on holy ground.
"It's about blasted time you showed up to show your respects." He turned just enough to see the man behind him while still trying to keep his face in the shadows. The newcomer stepped closer any way looking slightly angry. "She's been waiting twenty years for you to finally say good bye."
"I was here before," Owen told him while trying to recall his name. He was the furniture maker, and he also made coffins seeing how close his shop was to the grave yard. "I'm sorry but I don't remember your name."
"Douglas," he said, "but everybody around here knew me by the name I gave them when I set up shop. And when have you been here before? I kept an eye out for you for years."
"The day I woke up," he said. "I ran from the man who found me and found..." he looked back at he graves.
Douglas apparently felt the saddness coming off of him, "Then I appologize for thinking ill of you for all of these years."
"So you knew I was immortal?"
He nodded while adding, "I knew the potential was within you. I was hoping you would be one of the fortunate ones to not be cursed with this life now. Then I was hoping to catch you before you were seen still being alive."
"According to my teacher I am one of the fortunate ones. Everybody remembers me as I was not what I became."
"I suppose you are in a way," he conceded. "I doubt this marker would have been put up with at all if they thought you came back by satanic means. Or at least this close to her. It was something though, the innkeeper who manned the bar wouldn't even let you mother or her family pay to have either of these made. Practically insisted on it. He even demanded a rush job on these."
Owen smiled a sad smile as he thought about the man who brought them together. "His wife was probably furious."
"Son you have no idea. Half the town thought she was going to kill him but he stood his ground."
"How is he and my mother?"
"He sadly passed on to the next life over the winter." Owen dropped his head a little. "You're Mother still alive though. Married to this gentleman who came into town a couple of years after everybody thought you had died. I haven't seen that much life in her eyes in years."
"Good," Owen told him, truely happy at this bit of news. Remember how his mother was after his father died he was worried this would have finished her. He stared at her grave for a while. Finlay told him it was no point to dwell on it. That part of his life was over and ahd no bearing on his current one and there was nothing he could do about it now. Still he had to know, "The bastards who did this?"
Douglas smiled sadly at this but looked like he understood. "A couple of the villigers came up on them while they were doing that to you and her. But not soon enough to save her though. They were hanged a couple of day after we burried you."
Owen nodded. He shouldn't take any satisfaction in the death of any man. Hopefully the good Lord would understand and forgive him just this once for doing so.
"We better get you out of here," Douglas said trying to guide him back tot he wall. "If I saw you sneak in like a thief others might have as well." Owen's hand went to his sword by instinct and Douglas caught it. "Not to worry lad we're not fighting today."
Owen wanted to relax but couldn't at the moment. "Thank you for telling me what happened."
"Hopefully you'll found some piece of mind." Reaching the wall they both jumped over and he walked Owen to the road. "So why are you here now after all these years?"
Owen looked as embarrassed as he felt, "My teacher finally convinced me to leave this land and see what he calls the world. I wanted to say good bye."
"It's good that you did son," he patted him on the back. "And I'm sure she appreciates it. I'm planning on moving on soon myself seeing how most of the people I know are starting to look older than I am. So I'm glad I caught you when I did. Who did find you, if you don't have a problem with me asking."
"I'm not sure you know him," Owen answered. "His name is Finaly." Douglas made a bit of a face that was hard for Owen to interpret. "You have an issue with him?"
"No not personally," Douglas answered. "He's a good man, just a little too stubborn in his particular views for my taste." While Owen enjoyed Finlay's company from time to time, he had to silently agree with what he just said.
Owen's thoughts were interrupted on the way to the parking lot when he felt the buzz. Damn it, this was what he was afraid of when he took this job. Looking around he found somebody coming up to him, and no potential witnesses arounf either. "I knew there was another one of us around here," he said as he drew an old gladius sword from his over coat. "I've been stalking that old man for months but I just had to make sure."
Making his way toward the parking lot gate Owen tried to stall for an opening, "You apprear to have me at a bit of a disadvantage." In more ways than one.
"Oh I am so sorry," he said while putting a hand on his chest, "My name is Travis Mitchell." Waving the sword around a bit he sneered, "Now if you are the Thief I'd suggest you offer your neck peacefully, if you're not my apologise for ending your life this early."
"Great one of these idiots," Owen muttered. "The Theif is in Chicago which is why I'm trying to avoid it."
"I've been in Chicago," Travis told him. "It's getting a little too crowded for my taste. And I'd wager for the Theif as well. It make sense that he would think so as well you see, seeing how nobody can find him he's planning his heists elsewhere. So a hunting I will go." Owen coldn't help but noiced he was able to place himself between him and the gate. Well there was more than one way to get in. Faking rushing at him Owen quickly cut to the side and started climbing the fence. Travis grabbed at his leg but he quickly kicked him off and hauled himself over the top and ran toward his car.
The lot was practically empty so it was pretty much a straight shot. Travis had gone through the gate and was giving chase. They reached his car at roughly the same time. Owen slid across the trunk to try and to gain a few extra seconds. He had a hand on the back door handle but quickly removed as Travis took a swing with the gladius. Putting all his weight behind a kick that sent the other immortal to the ground Owen quickly opened the door, reached into the specialty designed pocket built into the back seat and pulled out his long sword. Silently cursing the fact he never got around to finding out where the security cameras were located Owen watched as Travis quickly got to his feet and into a defensive postition. First thing first, get this fight as far away from the school as possible. Owen backtracked a bit before turning around and running for the park across the way.
"Get back here you coward!", Travis shouted as he gave chase. The guy was determined, Owen had to give him credit for that much. Once they were both well away from the school Owen turned and and blocked a swing aimed at his head. "I hope you put up a better fight that that old bastard," the other immortal told him and he tried to push Owen back.
Standing his ground he told him, "That was my friend jackass." Both of them took a step back from the stalemate then went at weach other again. Clanging swords fill the air as each one treid to get through the other defenses. Owen switched styles a bit just enough to get the otehr man on the defensive ut he quickly compensated even going so far to switch to a different sword fighting style himself. Yeah this one might be a long one.
Unknown to either of them the fight was being witness by one of the students, Princess of all people. At first she was stunned at was going on. Then she pulled out her phone and started recording it. I got you know you bastard," she said to her teacher even though he wasn't close enough to hear it. But that was it as somebody hit her on the back of the head and kept hitting her until she was out cold.
Janet quickly picked up her phone and and stopped the recording. Making sure none of her cronies were around she quickly erased the fight from it. Then taking her shirt she tried whiping every fingerprint off of it as best as she could. Looking up to see the two still fighting she reached into her backpack looking for anything and decided on a piece of paper. Wrapping the phone up she moved away from Princess before chucking the phone into an open grate. Hearing a splash she moved further away from the girl she just assaulted but tried to stay hidden from the combatants as she continued to watch.
Owen tried to keep his mind clear on the fight. But the fact this man killed his friend kept inching it's way deeper and deeper into his brain. Feeling a rage he hadn't felt in a while he unleashed it on Travis without any mercy. His blows became more vicious catching the other immortal off guard. Owen knocked the point of the other man's sword to the groundd and let go of the handle of his to punch the other man in the face. Travis stumbled back but still held onto his sword knowing his life depended on it. Owen grabbed him by the overcoat and threw him in a different direction. He stumbled to the ground as Owen lowered his sword, the tip just kissing the top of the blades of grass as he walked forward. Tavis got to his feet and got a look as Owen's face seemed to be darkened by a shadow for a brief second, "What the fuck...?"
"You killed my friend," Owen told him as he got his sword back up. "You tell me what you think was going to happened?" Travis went at him and Owen blocked each one while backing up. Grabbing the other man's sword arm he quickly inverted the grip on his sword, turned around and drove the blade into Travis' gut. Facing away from both Travis and Janet neither saw the blank look on his face that momentarily turned into a snarl as he pulled the blade out, spun one more time and sliced his head off in one motion. Travis's body fell to the ground as the quickening escaped his body. Owen was frozen in place as the lightning like affect was forceibly absorbed into his body. "RAAGGHHHH!", he screamed as bolt like effects hit the ground and the surrounding trees. Janet had to duck back as a couple came dangerously close to her.
After it was over and Owen could move he dropped to a knee, after a moment he blinked a couple of times as he came back to his senses and looked around. Thinking he was fortuante that nobody saw this he tried to figure out what to do with his sword as he headed back to his car. He had to get out of here fast. Where she was Janet watched him go, "I don't know what your real name is Mr. MacDonald but i'm glad you won."
science experiment gone wrong
One bit of immortal life in the modern world you had to get used to real quick, you kill someone near your current place of employment chances were police would be everywhere for the next couple of days. Particularly if you worked at a school. Fourtunately, or unfortunately depending on how you looked at it, Owen had enough practice over the years to act as shocked and disgusted as everybody else. Well, like most everybody else. There were stil people who would try and pry out every little gory detail they could get. He'd unfortunately knew more than a few people like that in his life, and it wasn't all that hard to act a little disgusted when they did so.
Although Owen would have bet serious money on Principle Jennings not being one of those people.
Another surprise was when the police, a couple of dectectives, wanted to question him about the recently deseased. Hopefully all they did was put the dead person with a sword together with Douglas's death and wanted to see if he knew anything about the other man. Worst case somebody saw. Not that he couldn't get away if the need ever arises, but Natalya would kill him for forcing them to lose the house. And he would rather face an angry mob compared to that. The qustioning itself was more or less what he expected, but he was caught a little by one question in particular, "Would it be alright if we examine your car Mr. MacDonald?"
At the moment he could only supply one answer, "Why?"
"Just standard procedure Mr. MacDonald," replied his partner.
"I'm not trying to be a problem maker or anything but are you doing this with everybody?"
"No not everybody," answered the first one. "But since you were friends with the original decease, well I hope you can understand."
"Sure," he said realizing this was looking more like a potenial worst case senario than he wanted, "I guess, follow me. My doors are locked, do you want me to unlock them?"
"If you would please." Owen sighed and lead the way to the aprking lot
Another part of being immortal in any age, don't do anything to draw any undo attention to yourself if you're still around a location a dead immortal is found. And if questioned by the police don't appear too defiant and especially don't appear too helpful. An innocent person may have nothing to hide but pointing things out just raised red flags. Both were the same as having a big ol' "Look at me!" sign above your head. No you had to act confused with a slight hint of anger at the situation in order to appear believable, at least in Owen's experience.
Opening the driver side door he was asked to step away as they exaimed the vehicle. Owen stood by annoyed, and there was no need to act there, and looked around. He saw Principle Jennings standing a couple feet outside the door, and that every so often he would look back at the door behind him. Glancing behind him Owen saw Princess watching the entire thing, and looking very satisfied. And suddenly he had a real bad feeling on who might have saw them. Dear God dont let that be the case.
Watching the two officer's start to examine the back seat he watched as one of them located the hidden pocket. "What the...?"
"Do you know anything about this sir?", he asked. Owen shook his head. "How long have you owned this car?"
"Only a few months, I got it second hand," he told them. Owen bent down a little as the other one inspected the hidden pocket a little more. "If there's drugs in there am I going to be in trouble? I mean you never think to ask if it has any hidden compartments when you buy it."
"Well to be honest with you it won't look good." You had to appreciate a little honesty at least.
"It looks clear," he said. "Would you have any objections if we did a little testing now that you brought it up."
"I'm not sure now. I don't to go to jail for something I didn't do. But go ahead I guess."
"While my partner does that do you have anything in the trunk? A CD player, any luggage, grenades, tank or anything like that?"
Owen smirked, "Tank's in the shop." The officer smirked as well. He gestured toward the trunk and Owen opened it and backed away when instructed. After a few minutes the detective looked satisfied as he nodded his head and closed the trunk lid.
Yet another rule you had to learn, if you're still around when a dead body is around do not, repeat do not be caught with your sword. A particularly dangerous thing if you were forced to hide your sword or keep it in you house for the time being. Particually in this situation depending on how fast word of two headless bodies reached the head hunters in Chicago.
"Pocket's looking clean so far," said the dectecive doing the drug test, rubbing a cotton swab around the inside and dropping it into a vial of liquid, a few minutes after the test was looking negative. Then they started peppering him with some questions again, how long he owned the car, if he knew about the pocket. Just seeing if he'd changed his story. Then they caught him off guard with another question, "Have you seen a pink smartphone lately?"
"A pink smartphone?", he repeated. "Have you seen one lately?"
"Several of the female students have a phone like that," he told them "It's almost attatched to their hands as they walk down the hall. Same with the male students and their phone"
"I told you my daughter wasn't the only one," the first officer joked with his partner.
"What does a pink phone have to do with what happened?"
"One of the students claimed she saw two individuals fighting with swords the time it happened. She also claimed she recorded the incident on her phone."
Owen cocked an eyebrow, "So if you guys have a recording of what happened why are you talking to me?"
"She also claimed sombody knocked her out and stole her phone."
"Personally I have a hard time beleiving that part," said the other. "Especially after she started claiming the guy she supposedly caught on camera was the one who did it. If he was smart enough to take the phone he'd be smart enough to not leave any witnesses too."
While this was going on Owen watched them try to guage his reaction to this particular turn of events. Trying to see if he would tense up a bit about the footage or the fact there was a witness who saw him, maybe act a little panicky. Seeing how he had at least three hundred years of experience on these two they were going to have to try a little harder.
"I'll take your word for it," he told them. He briefly entertained the notion of turning this around on them a little. Ask that since they were only talking to him like this the descrpition of one of the guys must fit him to a tee or if it was really a female student or something. But that would go back to drawing a little too much attention to himself. "Are we done now, I still have a class to teach and the rumor mill is getting more ammunition than I really need."
"I suppose so," the second one told him. "Being a teacher and all I suppose I don't have to tell you that we'll be in contact if we find anything." Translation: If we find the evidence to pin this on you we will not hesitate to haul you in.
"Good day gentleman," he told them as he walked off. He was going to have to double check things when he got home once school was out. If they were taking Princess word this far no doubt they obtained some sort of warrent to check there too. Good things immortals were real good at hiding swords.
"Is there anything wrong Mr. MacDonald?", Jennings asked as he got close enough.
"They're just being extra cautious," he told him, "seeing how close I was to Harry and all. They wanted to make sure I didn't go off the deep end or something."
"They seemed to pay close attention to your car."
"They were looking for a pink phone." Jennings quickly glanced back at Princess, more or less confirming who it was the detectives were talking about. God were was Natalya when you needed her. "Apparently they say someone saw what happened but they don't believe her." He coughed while looking back again.
"Well... I'm not sure I like the attention you have brought to my school..."
"Is this going to be your decision or her's?", Owen demanded.
"No see here I run this school..."
"Not according to the other teachers around here," Owen cut him off and got in his face. "They all say she does. And that's something I've seen with my own eyes. In fact they can't wait until she graduates so they can get rid of her. She doesn't like me, fine I get it and I really don't care. I'm not here to be liked. She may run this school but she's just another child in my classroom who's throwing a tantrum because she's not getting her way. You personally think I need to be fired, fine. If you're doing it because she wants me gone then you better be ready for a fight. And seeing how in the past few day I lost my friend and have been hassled by the cops I'm more than ready for one. Are you?" Jenning looked away and backed up a bit. On one level he hated doing this to the man, in fact he felt sorry for him in a way. But this had been coming for a while now. Too bad it had to be now. "Like I told them I have a class I have to teach. Or should I say do I have a class?"
"No, you still have a class," he said meakly. Owen took a deep breath, realizing he came on a little stronger than he intended to. But it was a stressful past couple of days. He'll find a way to make it up to him.
Princess ran out and he didn't say anything to her, and she said nothing to him. Instead she ran up to her father and demanded, "Why aren't they arresting him? He was there! I know that fucking bastard killed the other one!"
"Not now...", Jennenings started.
"Now you listen here..."
"Shut up!", Jennenings snapped at his daughter. She was so stunned she actually did as he demanded as he stormed away from her. Owen, who stop by the door just long enough to overhear, couldn't stop the
grin from forming as the door closed behind him.
At dusk in a small town a couple of hours away from the Illinois/Indiana border the person known in the media as the "Immotal Thief" pulled into an old apartment building that had seen better days and cut the engines. Patting the bag as he walked up the stairs he felt the buzz and felt like skipping into the from with the others. "Lucy I'm home," he chimmed as he dropped the bag on the floor. He was a little miffed that he wasn't exactly reciecving a hero's welcome here. On either side of the door stood stood a woman with blond hair and a man who looked like he belonged on an amish farm. On the back wall sat an Asian man who commanded the room with his preseance. Beside him a hulking man from the middle east stormed forward and partically slammed a bunch of newspapers into his chest. "Ow."
The bigger man glared at him, "Is this your doing?"
"Yeah," he told him. "You can't pull the crimes of the century without getting a little noticed." He let the papers dropped to the ground as the other removed his hand. "Who even reads the paper anymore? We got the god damned internet now for Christ sakes." The fourth man in the roomed tensed at that bit of taking the lord's name in vain, the others didn't seem to care.
"Why are you bringing undo attention to our kind?", said the man in the chair. "We have been taught for ages to keep our society a secret from the mortals."
"Gotta do things with style my man," the thief told him. A brief hand motion by the one sitting in the chair the big man and the other two in the room flashed their swords trapping him by the neck in a deadly metal triangle. "Challenges are supposed to be one on one," he gulped.
"True," the man said as he rose and walked forward, "but an execution can be as many as I want."
"Point," the thief conceded. His eyes widdened as the other made another quick gesture. Instead of dying right then and there the swords were removed. He held his throat, almost hyperventalating at how close he had just come.
"While I appreciate the extra income do not use your abilities in this stupid way again." Pulling out his own sword he checked the edge before looking at him, "Is that understood Nathan?"
"Right Jin, crime spree officially over."
"It had better be," Jin told him as he sheathed his sword. "I brought you into this group because I thought your skill as a theif may prove to be useful, not to exploit your immortal gifts." Returning to his chair he addressed the woman, "Victoria, according to the media there has been two deaths involving your adopted daughter's school. From the what Ezekeal," he motioned to the fourth man in the room, "has been able to determin both were beheaded. Perhaps she's overheard something that may prove to be useful."
"I already asked the little ****," she told him. The big man snarled a bit at her choice of words but Jin made him stay his hand. "The first dead one was the school shop teacher. She says she has no idea who the second one was."
"A pity she hasn't awaken yet, wouldn't you say Omar?", The big man snarled at him as well but did nothing against him. "She could have helped us know for sure, but from all apperances we have another immortal in the area. We must be on guard." Nathan and the rest quickly went back to their rooms now that the more important matter was settled, but Jin pondered on the identity of this possible other Immortal, and if he or she could, or should, be brought into their group.
science experiment gone wrong
It had been a few uneventful weeks, meaning there had been no head hunters coming this way in particular after word of two headless bodies had gotten out, since the police came and questioned him again. Although he was right in his suspicion that they would have checked out his house. They did a pretty thorough job of it too, they came damn close to finding his long sword if he was to judge by the evidence. And he was pretty sure they were unaware that he knew they were following him. When a majority of his life had him live being both the hunter and the prey these guys were basically amateurs.
Then they found another headless body the next town over while he was still under surveillance. Since he never left town he lost his police tail soon after. He was slightly torn about it though. While he was sad another immortal had died, he was partially grateful to the person who did it.
But one good thing had happen in the interim. Thanks to his little "talk" with Principle Jennings Princess was suddenly transferred out if his class. He tried not to act overly happy on the outside, but inside... the victory dance was in full swing. Of course he quickly found out who's class she was transferred to when a teacher who was usually pretty friendly with him started shooting him dirty looks. "Better you than me pal," he said under his breath.
And of course since the major source of conflict was removed his class went a lot smoother. Outside of the occasional debate. He was fine with debates if they occurred naturally as part of the lesson plan he was using, in fact he kind of encouraged it a bit, just to try to get them to open up about new ideas and a different way of looking at things. Without Princess around they were pretty manageable when with the class she would basically take over and out right shout down the other person trying to make a point.Like today for instance a simple comment about men and woman a few hundred years ago got one going. "But it's not right," a female student said. "Men and women are equal."
"They are now," ,Owen told her, "well more or less."
"But not back then," Jenny pointed out. "Woman were raised to be subservient."
"And that's not right either," argued the first one. "Nobody should be raised to think they're below anybody."
"And I agree with you," Owen said. "And I'd like to think that's true today even though various news sources tell me other wise." Owen quickly held up a hand because he knew that statement was going to open up a whole new can of worms and derail the class in a big way. "But I keep telling you, you can't judge what was standard back then to what's standard now."
"But why not?", one of the male students asked. "People are people right? No matter what the age."
"Yes and no," Owen told him. "Look some things are always going to stay the same, humans will make war, create new thing, have the need to procreate, to find somebody to love. And some things like ideas will change and what is considered normal will change but those take a lot longer to take hold sometimes. Look at it from the reverse angle. Somehow somebody from back then somehow comes into today. Ignoring all the technological changes that's going to blow their minds, just how they see men and women today. What do you think this person is going to think."
"Well if it's a woman probably it's about time," one of them joked.
"You sure about that?", Owen challenged. "First of all have you seen how of some of you are dressed? You'll be called a bunch of godless heathens right off the bat. Faster if they can see into Jackson's mind." And that got the laugh he was looking for. "Second of all are you sure this woman is waiting for, or fighting for equality between the sexes. It's highly possible, and probably more than likely she's perfectly fine with how things are in her time."
"Why would she be okay with it?", a third person asked.
"Because it the social norm for her," Owen told them. "Like I said it takes a while for social change to happen and despite what a lot of you think a lot of people don't like to rock the boat. Things like women's right took a long time to gain traction because those thoughts rocked the boat and made people who liked thing just the way they were very nervous."
"But change does happen," Jenny spoke up again.
"Right," Owen agreed. "Change has to start somewhere. In small groups, in back room, a single person being brave enough to speak an idea considered radical. But sometimes it's on a smaller scale."
"What can be smaller than a single person speaking?", Jenny asked him.
"Well," Owen began started trying to hide a knowing smirk with a hand, "sometimes one can be a little subversive. Do a little thing here and there that can get around that little social norm he doesn't agree with."
"I hate this," Owen said in English as he and Naoto walked into town with Himiko a few steps behind them. He and Himiko had been married for a little over a year now and he had been living in this land for slightly longer. He got used to the looks the some of the villagers were giving him, you couldn't be immortal and have a thin skin, he learned that lesson real fast. But there was one thing he hadn't and didn't want to get used to. Looking back at his wife he looked at his brother-in-law, "I hate that she feels she has to walk back there."
Responding in English as well Naoto told him, "It is our way Little Immortal." Owen had been living here for almost two years, married his sister and was pretty much a brother to him... yet he still referred to him as Little Immortal. It still annoyed him, but he learned fast enough not to show it.
"Your way is inane," Owen shot back.
"And I'm sure I would find a few things in your home country that would irritate me," he calmly responded. "Perhaps not as much as this does you but still. Besides I hear the women where you are from are placed in a secondary role as well."
"Not in my household," Owen told him. "I remember my Father getting a lot of flack for that growing up but my Mother was considered an equal in his eyes. And I thought of Deborah the same way."
"Unfortunately you are in the minority in that way of thinking Little Immortal."
"I don't need to be reminded of that," he spat. The older immortal. Remembering the old barkeep that pushed him and Deborah together he had to smile a bit, "Although I do know of at least one occasion where the situation was reversed."
"Really?", Himiko said from the back. Naoto looked back but Owen spoke up before he could say anything.
"Oh yes, she ran that bar with an iron fist. At least the money part of it."
"She sounds like a very strong willed woman." Naoto commented.
"That is one way of putting it," Owen agreed. "The barkeep held his own though, don't get me wrong," he recalled a particular fight that involved him and three others, with none of those three were on his side, "it depended on the situation."
"They sound like a very interesting couple," Himiko said.
Smirking he turned back toward the town eyeing some of the stalls lining the streets. He knew a few of these people since he helped the fishermen out at sea, it was a great ice breaker once they found out it was a trade he picked up from his Father. Taking the small bag he used to carry the money he had with him off his belt he gave it to Himiko, "Why don't you find us something for dinner tonight. There's has to be something you want for a change."
"Of course," she said excitedly. "I won't be long."
"Find us something good," he told her, giving her a light swat as she passed. Looking over at Naoto looking somewhat victorious, "She's not behind us any more, is she?"
He didn't looked all that impressed as they continued walking, "Some would say you spoil her Owen." He looked over at the older immortal, he only used his name when he wanted to talk about something somewhat serious.
"What would you say?"
He didn't answer for a few moments, thinking over his answer, "I would say you are trying to keep your promise in that you will always make sure she is happy."
"I do try my best. And you didn't answer my question."
Both of them stopped and looked at each other. Naoto broke the silence, "Personally, I would say you are a little. Although I still consider her to be my little sister I realize she is now your wife, it is not my place to tell you how to run your marriage."
"Do you mind telling that to some of the wives around here," he joked.
"I am not a miracle worker," Naoto joked in return, knowing something about the religion where Owen was from.
"Some monk you are."
There was some screaming in Japanese that caught their attention. Owen immediately tried to locate his wife and felt a cold chill down go down his spine as he spotted her. On the ground she tried to scoot back as a crowd tried to hold back a man holding a cleaver. Naoto and Owen was there in the next instant, he went to shield his wife, hand on the grip of his sword. Naoto positioned himself so the end of his walking stick was right under the aggressor's chin. Very calmly in Japanese he asked, "What is the meaning of this?"
"She was born under a bad sign!," he shouted. "Our crops will be ruined! Our live stock will die! She will be this village's undoing! We must do something before that happens!" Owen looked over the crowd, seeing some who looked like they were agreeing with this lunatic. He was fully prepared to fight their way out if there if it came to that.
"And I have heard that all her life," Naoto told him, just as calm as before. "And yet your crops have thrived, your live stock still lives, the village is still standing." Lowering the end of the stick slightly he continued, "Perhaps you have read those signs wrong all those years ago." Something told Owen this was one of the group who tried to end Himiko's life when she was a little girl. This man was very lucky Naoto was here because that was the only reason he was staying his hand. He tried to go after Himiko again once the others grip lessened a bit. Naoto had the stick back in place and Owen started to draw his long sword. "And you are as thick headed as you were back then I see."
He looked back between both of them before finally stepping back, "One day I will catch the demon spawn by herself."
"If that day ever happens I'll know exactly who to go to," Owen told him with a dangerous glint in his eyes. The crowd split to let him out and Owen immediately turned to help Himiko to her feet. "Are you all right? Did he hurt you?"
"I'm fine," she answered. "He just... startled me." Owen was about to say she looked a lot more than just startled. Then he felt the grip on his arm and turned toward Naoto. The look on his face made Owen look back at her. Yes she was scared, but she was also trying to look calm. Then Owen realized he was the one shaking, in anger. She was trying to keep him from going after her attacker. Strong will in women came out in various ways it seems.
Ignoring any and all custom those around him had he held her close and kissed her on top of the head before letting her go, "As long as you're fine." Stepping away he gave her a small smile, "You still haven't found us dinner yet." She smiled back.
"Perhaps over here," Naoto said herding them away from the dispersing crowd. "I find the selection is better than right here."
The end of the school day was usually a welcome time, for the student and the faculty both. Well outside of any end of the day paperwork or trying to get a jump on tomorrow class plan. Ever since the incident from a few weeks ago Owen had been staying a little later than usual. Mainly in case that he did run across another immortal who was looking for a fight there wouldn't be anybody to get in the way. And to avoid any other witnesses, and rumor had it Princess had a back up phone now in case she lost the other one so he couldn't get that lucky twice.
Which was all the more surprising when he saw Jenny sitting on the steps looking at the street. "You waiting for a ride?"
She jumped a little at the sound of his voice, but soon relaxed when she saw it was him. "My mom's a bit late." School let out an hour and a half ago, he was pretty sure this classified as more than a bit late.
"Have you called her yet?" She nodded and kept looking at the street. Owen sat next to her.
She looked a bit worried when he did so, "What are you doing?"
"A body was found not that far from here and they haven't found the killer," he told her. "I'm not letting a student of mine sit alone and not know she's going to be safe when I leave." That worried look turned to a happy one. She rubbed her arms, lifting up a sleeve and revealing a bandage underneath, "What happened to you?"
Jenny quickly pulled the sleeve back down and looked bit self conscious, "I did something stupid." That set off a couple of alarms in Owen's head. But after scaring her off during the foreign language session Owen didn't want to do it again trying to get proof with his suspicions.
Instead he went with something slightly more neutral, "You know I'm here to help if you need to talk about anything. My girlfriend says I'm a half way decent listener. I'll be a great one one she's done with me," he smiled to try to get her to relax a bit. She was still a little tense but she smiled back. He specifically mention the girlfriend so hopefully she wouldn't get the idea he was coming on to her.
"I'll keep that in mind," she said. She saw a car pull just into the parking lot and stop. That worried look soon reappeared on Jenny's face as she began honking the horn. "My mom's here," she quickly gathered her things and went to leave.
"Why isn't she coming over here?", Owen asked, and trying not to sound too suspicious.
"The exercise is good for me," she quickly said. A few hundred years of instincts made Owen put a hand on her to keep her in place. She didn't struggle be she did look at him with a pleading look, "Mr. McDonald she's a very busy woman and she hates to be kept waiting. Please."
Owen kept looking at the car before letting her go. "Remember I'm here for anything you want to talk about." She gave him a quick nod before running at full speed to get to the car. Owen tried to get a good look at her mother but the sun was hitting the windshield and the glare was blocking his view. And going over there and "talk" to her might make things worse for Jenny if he was right. Still he watched her as he got in the car.
Jenny closed the door hoping she would leave this alone. No such luck as the blond haired woman inside immediately gripped her by the face and made Jenny look her in the eyes. "Who in the fuck is that?", she demanded. When she didn't answer right away she tightened her grip.
"Mr. McDonald," she said as quickly as she could, "he's my history teacher."
"What were you doing out there with him?"
"He was worried about my safety after the dead body."
"Sure he was," he let her go with a push that was a little harder than necessary. "All men want the same thing. Didn't I teach you that?!"
"Yes," she answered with a flinch. Then she watch her mother look at her teacher. Jenny got worried as she realized why she was studying him. Please God don't let her sense him.
"You're history teacher huh?", she said evenly. She knew that face, and it belonged to an immortal, she was sure of it. "He's the one isn't he?"
"I wouldn't know," Jenny said, hoping she was too distracted to hear the lie in her voice.
"I told you they want to kill Mommy." She finally placed the face. It was back in Japan, centuries ago. He had a furious look on his face as he fought in a valiant, let futile, effort to save the Japanese slut he was shaking up with. "This one in particular."
science experiment gone wrong
"Yo Amish," Nathan said as he burst into his room uninvited. The one born Ezekiel to a pair of parents with the last name Fields flinched as the unnatural lights from the bulbs in the hallway invaded his private domain. Waiting a moment for his eyes to lose the sudden spots he longed for a simpler time. A time by those who obeyed God's law and you worked an honest day sunrise to sunset. Not like now.
"Most civilized people still knock before entering someone private domain Nathan," he told the other immortal.
"Never claimed to be civilized," he said with a toothy grin. "Come on, her royal highness wants you to work you magic fingers on the computer again."
"If I must" he said with a sigh. Marking his place in his worn bible before he put it down he blew out the flame on his oil lantern.
"You do know we have this fancy thing called electricity now, right?", Nathan said as he entered the hallway. Ezekiel held his tongue knowing the other man was looking for a reaction. A trap he fell into more than once when he first met him a couple of years ago. He learned that by not answering he got under the other man's skin far faster than trying to come up with a a retort or a comeback. A pity the good Lord failed to give the other man the brains to realize the ploy stopped working because he kept trying it.
"This is about Jennifer's history teacher correct?", he said after a bit. "A simple search of the school website will get her the picture she desires. Any one could do that." A part of him wanted to add a snide remark, even you for example. But his upbringing told him such things were a sin, even if God did curse him with this life.
"Yeah but it's more fun watching you squirm while you're doing it," Nathan said, the grin returning. He had no remark, silent or verbal, for that. The world may have changed around him but like his people he refuse to use them since they were not part of the divine way. Which was why he was more than surprised to discover he had a natural talent for this "hacking" as they call it.
"About time you showed up," Victoria snapped as she, her daughter Jenny and Jin all waited for him. "I'm sure this idiot told you what I'm looking for."
"Hey I resemble that remark," Nathan quipped. Jin just looked at him with that look of his. "Get in the corner and shut up, got it."
"Ezekiel, if you would please," Jin said as he gestured toward the vacant chair in from of the devil machine. "I believe Jennifer said this individual was named Henry McDonald."
His fingers hesitating over the keyboard for a moment he quickly used his other curse to get on the school's website and pull up the pictures of the staff. However there wasn't a picture for a Henry McDonald to be found.
"A man of intelligence," Jin said as he peered over his shoulder. "He probably realized there may be an immortal who could try what we're trying."
"Man still got to have a license right," Nathan spoke up from the corner he picked out.
"The moron right for once," Victoria said with a grimace, which made the thief's grin even bigger. "Get into the DMV computers. There has to be a record there somewhere."
"As you wish," Ezeakel sighed. After several minutes he was in and looking around as best as he could.
"There are several Henry McDonalds in this state"
Jin looked at the information on the screen, "Define 'several'."
"At least a hundred. It will take a while to check each one. And that is if he went through the legal sources."
Cocking an eyebrow Jin commented, "That's a more common name than I expected."
"It's probably why he picked it," Victoria said. "There has to be a picture of him somewhere at that school." About then Jenny started to back away. Her mother saw it out of the corner of her eye and grabbed her by the hair and pulled her close. "What do you know?"
"That is no...," Ezeakel started to protest before Victoria backhanded him.
"I'll deal with my daughter in my way you God loving freak." Looking back at Jenny she pulled her head back a little more, "Now what do you know?! There has to be something he's been part of that had pictures taken."
"The foreign language group," she got out as her mother pulled back a little harder. "The was a group of student and teachers giving a free demonstration on talking in another language. It was the talk of the school."
"If it was the talk there better be a picture."
"I found it it," Ezekiel worked quickly to keep her from hurting the girl even more. And he had seen her
treat poor Jenny terribly. She leaned in, giving him a good whiff of the whore perfume she was currently wearing.
"That one," she pointed at the screen to a man who in the back. "Make it bigger." Enlarging and clearing up the image of the man's face she stared at it for a long time. Then she smiled in recognition, "Oh yeah, that's him all right."
"What do you know about him?", Jin asked as he studied his face as well.
"He's got a hard on to kill me for one," she answered.
"Most guys have some sort of hard on around you," Nathan said. Ezekiel said a silent prayer to cleanse his ears from such talk.
"I take it you slighted him in some way?", Jin asked.
"Slighted hell, I freed him," she told him. "A Japanese bitch attached herself to him a couple of centuries back. I killed her to help him. He didn't have the brains to see it that way."
"Very few see the world as you do my dear Victoria," Jin told her.
"Their loss." She turned toward her daughter, "Practice, now!", she ordered with a shove that was harder than necessary.
Nathan watched the young girl after she exited the room in a hurry, "Easy to believe in a God with an ass that looks like that around."
Ezekiel sat there bristling at their treatment and attitude toward the girl. Out of the group only Omar shared his distaste at how they treated her. But the Middle Eastern man often showed his displeasure, but did nothing out of respect or Jin. He, on the other hand, kept his displeasure bottled up since he was never one to confront a person over such matters.
He nearly jumped out of the chair when somebody put a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Jin smile at him, not like one of Nathan's false smiles, but a true one out of respect. "You have done well my friend. Go get some air, you've more than deserved it."
"Thank you sir," he said and quickly got away from the devil machine as fast as he could.
Dressed in the simple hat and coat he had worn for decades he walked the street on this night finding his
way toward a park. Here he breathed a little easier once he set foot, despite the foul air that covered this world. A bit of nature in the middle of all these man made buildings of modern society that reached into the sky. A far cry from the farm life he had known up until that day. His fingers went to the spot on his head where that horse kicked him hard after it got spooked. He woke up with everyone who was not crying stare at him. He was to stunned at that moment to notice to realize those were stares of fear. He was soon chased away by his own family and friends.
"I cast you out!", his father had told him later when he tried to come back home. "You are no son of mine! The devil has taken you now go!"
By all rights his father and family should have killed him right then and there instead of letting him run away from the only life he has ever known at that point. Of course now he knew that would have been futile on their part and would have made them fear him even more.
Of course even here he couldn't get away from the devilry of man's world as lamp with artificial light were placed out every so often. Keeping his gaze at the path in front of him he soon walked off of it and
to the darker parts of the park that those lights didn't reach. Finding a clearing he looked up at the sky and talked to God one more time, "Why have you cursed me like this? What could I have possibly have done to warrant such a punishment? What must I do to to finally be forgiven?"
As always he received no answer, and at times that drove him crazy more than Nathan has. At times he wanted to curse the Lord for doing this to him. To demand that he'd be set right. But he was cursed over a century ago. Even if he was set right where could he go? His family, the family he had known, was long dead. Any relatives he had now would be so far removed that they would be total strangers to each other, and he would still be stuck in this damnable modern world. In truth part of him feared this world had somehow seeped into the simple world he had known and infected it so he would never be free of it.
He knew there was one way out, the coward's way. But killing oneself was a sin and he was damned enough as it was, if that was even possible. And more than a few times he had found what Jin referred to as the "will to live" to strong to just let another immortal kill him. Another part of his curse.
The sensation that made him ill warned him another one was around. He looked around to see his potential challenger, or savior, standing to his left. "I thought I saw somebody come this way."
"If you wish to rob me stranger than you will have poor tidings for I have no money to speak of," he told him.
"I think a mugger could take one look at you and see that," he said as he looked him over. "But I think you I know I'm here for something else entirely."
"I fear you are right," Ezekiel removed his hat and coat and hung them on a nearby broken branch before removing the small sword and hand sickle hidden inside. "My name is Ezekiel Fields stranger."
"Mr. Fields," he said removing a broad sword from his coat, "I am Travis Smith."
Smith came at him first. They always did seeing what he used as weapons. But the sickle itself was a tool he had used all his life before his curse. So much so it was almost like extensions of his own arm. His opponent was strong, he could tell by the strikes he blocked, and well versed in the use of his sword. Perhaps this would be the one.
But he saw how he kept looking at the sickle in his other hand. Very, very few immortals fought with to weapons, much less one such as this. Jin had even helped him "improve" it by making the outer curve just as sharp as the inner one. A fact he proved when he used that outer edge to slice into the other man's leg with a backhanded slash. Then he brought the blade back around and stuck the point deep into the man's side. Smith cried out in pain and pushed him away before he could take his head with the sword.
Fighting like a desperate man while he waited for his wound to heal he tried to keep Ezekiel away. But Jin, the man who originally found him, had taught him too well. Forcing him to go in for the kill when he saw the blood. This was not going to be the man to free him. Forcing Smith's sword down He brought the point of the sickle down into his shoulder, ripping flesh and bone as he pulled forward to free it. A move that disgusted him each time he did it. Spinning around he used the edge of the sword to slice into Smith's other leg, deep enough that he fell to a knee. He stiffened as he hooked his neck with the sickle.
"Why couldn't you be the one?", he asked. He didn't get an answer from the confused man as he pulled his sword arm back and swung. Momentum from the strike made him turn around as Smith's head fell from his shoulder. As the body flopped to the ground Ezekiel quickly plunged the sword into the soil. And much like he would a cross it resembled in this position he dropped to his knees and prayed, "My Father who art in heaven..." The quickening surrounded before violating him. he held the prayer position for as long as he possibly cold before the energy inside him forced his arms to fly open. His screams reached the heavens as bolts of lightning like energy struck him that things around him. After an eternity of this torture it stopped and he slumped to the ground.
Tears in his eyes he finally got back to a position to kneel as he looked up at the heavens one more time, "Why won't you forgive me?"
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