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
So how are you and Evelyn?”
Natalya looked out the window of her hotel while Susan asked that question. Her mind was elsewhere at the moment. Part of that was wondering exactly why Eve was taking so long. Another part was remembering exactly what Owen told her about Himiko's death considering where they were now. “She's doing good. We finally left Malaysia. I brought her to a town in Japan. Matsuyama, a nice quiet place from what I'm seeing. Seems like the perfect place to ease her in on another culture before exposing her to the busy side of the country.'
Susan sounded a little disappointed, “You're still babying her.”
And she was tired of having this particular conversation, “I am not babying her. I'm making sure major culture shock isn't going to be a problem. I don't know the last time you've been to Tokyo but it can be a bit much for a first time visitor. And in our case...”
“All right, all right,” Susan cut in, “I'll drop it.”
“Finally,” she mumbled. Natalya loved the woman to death, but she could do without he backseat driving when it came to her student.
“How is she coming along with defending herself?”, Susan probably thought this was a safer subject. And it was.
“She's coming along great,” she answered. “Once she figured out how to hold a sword properly she started to get the hang of it pretty quick. Although I think I may have to try that idea I had a while back about the pig spines to get her used to the idea of cutting off a head.” Thinking of that made her think of Susan's old student Serenity, and of Keith. “How are things between you and Owen?”
“Fine,” was the answer.
“That's good,” she replied. “Because last time I talked to him, while he wouldn't say what happen, he did say something he did got you angry with him.”
There was a bit of a pause before Susan answered, “He mentioned that huh? Something did happen, something I didn't agree with. But he knows where I stand and he's seems find with it.”
“And you're not going to tell me either.”
“It's a private matter between the two of us,” Susan told her. “I'll let Owen decide if he wants to tell you what happened. He's not cheating on you if that's what you're worried about.”
“A, I know you wouldn't keep that from me if you found out. And B, Owen know I would make his life a fucking nightmare right before I ended him,” Natalya informed her. “But I can take a wild guess and assume it has something to do with Himiko's killer.”
Another pause, “I'm not going to say you're wrong.”
“I was afraid you were going to say that.”
“Nobody can know how obsessed a person can get with his grudges,” Susan said.
Too bad Natalya had had more than a good idea what those grudges could do to a person. All she had to do was remember her father near the end. “We should have gotten a clue though, when Keith died.”
“I don't understand” and the older immortal seemed genuinely confused.
“Owen did tell you how Himiko died didn't he?” she asked. “Helpless, one her knees and Owen powerless to stop it. Does that sound familiar at all? Because it became real clear to why he went fucking mental right after Dijkhuizen did it.”
“You think Owen went back to that moment in his head.”
“I don't just think it Susan,” she said. “I told you before, you may have known him longer but I know him better than anyone. I can see it every time he mentions Himiko or Deborah. Hell I can tell exactly which one he's thinking about just by the look on his face And he's always looking a little sadder when it's Himiko.”
“You almost sound as obsessed as he is,”Susan commented,” to tell which one he's thinking about and all.”
“Yeah, well you try competing with a dead woman,“ she mumbled without thinking. And immediately kicked herself mentally once she realized what she said. “Sorry, old baggage I thought I got passed. Back from when we tried living together the first time and I was slightly less mature.”
“You know Owen doesn't compare you to them,” Susan said, suddenly sounding like she did when she first started training under her. Old habits as they say.
“I know he doesn't, it just something I had a hard time with the first time around. It's just something I had to learn to live with. Just like Owen had to deal with the very few issues I bring to the relationship.”
“Few issues?”, Susan said in a teasing tone. Natalya could see the smile on her face she probably had. “I trained you for years young lady and I would say there's more than a few.”
Natalya smiled, grateful for the change of subject more than anything, “Please I was the perfect student and you know it.”
“Of course you were,” Susan said, “It would explain why you looked so confused when I took that small branch off that tree after your first couple of weeks with me.”
Her free hand went to her ass and rubbed it when that memory popped up. “It's not my fault they taught you bad habits in Nun school. Or any patience in dealing with a student.”
“I will fly down, find a tree and show Evelyn exactly how I had to keep you in line back then.”
“No, that won't be necessary,” Natalya quickly said. Speaking of, she better find out where Evelyn was. She sent her out on a small task because she wanted her to get accustomed to the area but it's been awhile. “I hate to cut this off early Susan but I better get off of her. I'll call you later.”
“Alright, take care of your self now.”
“Always. Love you and keep me updated on Owen.”
“You know I always do.”
The phone call ended and Natalya went back to the window. Again, when did she become this responsible? Fortunately while they were still in Evelyn's home country Natalya bought her a phone. Well a better phone at any rate, something a little more modern than the hand me down her parents gave before before the girl's first death. No way an assistant of her's would be caught with something so outdated. So a simple phone call would answer this particular question. After a couple of rings she answered. “Where are you? That little job I gave you shouldn't have taken this long.”
Sounding a little embarrassed she told her teacher, “I can't read the signs.”
Young girl in a new culture Natalya reminder herself. “I t\aught you Japanese Eve,” She reminded her.
“You taught me how to speak it not read it.”
“So nicely ask for direction. You do nice very well I've seen it.”
“I tried,” she said. “well I start to but stop and walk away.”
Here Natalya pinched the bridge of her nose, “”I had you broken out of that shell. It's easy to just ask for directions.”
Her response was, “Easy for you to say.”
Natalya eyes narrowed a bit, “Wait. Did you just talk back to me?” Normally she could have just imagined the horrified look on the girls face, probably expecting a lecture on respecting your superiors.. But instead Natalya went, “Aw, I'm finally rubbing off on you.”
“Oh yes. In fact I'm so happy I'm going to help you out. Just stay where you are I'll get you location from your phone.” Natalya also made sure that phone she got her had a built in GPS just in case she did get lost in a new environment. Her father didn't raise an idiot after all. She found her soon enough, apparently being towered over by another immortal based on the way he looked in her direction as all of them felt the buzz.
Natalya quickly sized him up out of habit, Average height and build, suit didn't look like it would hinder his movements much, sword was probably somewhere in the overcoat draped over his arm. And he looked pissed about something. And as worried as Evelyn was looking at the moment this could go south in a hurry. Running up she quickly forced herself between her student and whomever this was. “Is there a problem?”
“I am not dealing with you woman.” Great he was one of those. She glanced back at Evelyn trying to figure out what happen. The girl wasn't exactly being helpful in that department at this point.
“Well she is my student,” Natalya said, not backing down from his gaze, “so now you're dealing with me. Now what is the problem exactly?”
“She disrespected me.”
“He bumped into me,” Evelyn said.
“You should have gotten out of my way! I am a busy man and don't have time for this nonsense.”
“All right, let's just calm down,” Natalya told him. “Obviously a bad day has been had somewhere and this was just the straw that broke the camel's back as they say. Let's just take a few deeps breath..”
“I challenge her,” he said suddenly, but soft enough so nobody walking past them could over hear. “I will not let this disrespect go unpunished.”
And now we just lost any chance of calming down and straight into trying to avoid a fight. “As her teacher that isn't her call, it's mine as I'm sure you are very aware. And you did cause it by bumping into her to begin with.”
“Shut up woman.” she was about done trying to play nice. Still she tried one more time to talk Evelyn out of this mess. Before she could get a word out he slapped her. “I said shut up!”
She was vaguely aware of some of the people around them looking at them and quickly leaving the area. She was aware that Evelyn put her hands to her mouth shocked. She was even aware of the still stinging sensation on her cheek. But right at that moment, she just had one thought, screw the bad day theory this bastard had it coming. Not really caring what he expected her to do she just smiled at him and said, “Would 'thank you sir may I have another' sound too cliche? It sounds a little too cliche.”
“What are you doing?”, Evelyn said trying to drag her away.
“Pay attention kiddo, important life lesson going on at the moment on dealing with a jerk with a superiority complex.”
“You will not disrespect me,” he said trying to intimidate her. Natalya just smiled which infuriated him even more. He tried to slap her again. She backed away just enough that the hand missed her. But he swung with so much force he turned around with the momentum. Natalya, never one to not seize an opportunity when presented, kick him in the back and made him stumble forward. Whomever this guy was looked back at them then at the crowd before running off.
“Come on kid,' Natalya said as she quickly herded Evelyn in the other direction, “let's get going.”
“Is it over?”, she asked.
“Not by a long shot,” she told her. She's met guys like that jackass before. No he wasn't going to let this go at all, not until he was satisfied. She purposely directed them a few blocks away from the hotel they were staying at. Even hushed Evelyn when she noticed. But she wasn't just walking in hopes of getting away. Something Susan had taught her, based on habits she had learned in the era she grew up in. Whenever you are in a new territory keep an eye open for potential battlefields and learn the terrain because a potential enemy force probably will not it like the back of their hand. Same concept but smaller scale. The first few day here she and Evelyn walked around to get generally familiar with the town she located a couple of spot out of a habit that was drilled into her. If she read that guy right he'd find them eventually.
Almost on cue he stepped back into view, a straight sword in hand. Pushing Evelyn back she reached behind her head and drew her slim blade katana. He pointed the type of his sword at Evelyn as she calmly waked forward. “I want her.”
“Well you're not getting her,” Natalya said, swing the sword around a bit in her hand. “Unless you can't handle a real woman that is” He charged at her. Bracing for the force of the impact she blocked his initial strike. Pushing him back she came at him high and low, mainly trying to draw him away from this very open area and into the forest that was close by. Just to make sure she said something in Japanese, mainly something about the size of his manhood, which did the trick as he followed her through the trees. Sometimes men like this one made it too easy.
Turning back to face him she block another at her neck. With some effort she pushed him back again. “Still haven't given me your name,” she said. “Kind of rude last I heard.”
“You are not worth the breath it would take.”
“How are the women not crawling all over you?” She went after him again. They blocked each others swings, testing each other defenses. After a few minutes of that particular dance she thought she got a decent enough bead on him that she could up her attack. But she wasn't over confident as she was sure Mr. Macho was doing the same thing. And if she guessed right...
He up his attacks, going for her neck every chance he got and trying to wear her down with just brute force. She guessed right. No finesse what so ever. Now it was all down to trying to get his timing. Because that was going to be the key to getting out alive. His sword came at her high one more time. She ducked just enough that it went over her head. She spun and swung low cutting deep into the back of his thigh. A primitive instinct made him grab at it. Bringing the sword around again she cut him down the back. He went down to a knee.
Holding the edge of her sword to his neck to freeze him in place Natalya slowly walked around until she was facing him. Still being careful to keep an eye out for any sudden moves on his part. He was still more angry than afraid, even in this position. Even looking at her with disdain filled eyes. Too bad he wasn't going to learn to grow out of this particular mindset. Still she couldn't help but get in one last jab, “Be glad I'm taking the right head.” It confused him just long enough for her to bring the sword back and swing through his neck. His Quickening hit her faster than she was expecting. The energy ran through and assaulted her body, causing her to scream at the top of her lungs as she absorbed his power and essence.
Dropping to her knees after it was over she looked over to see Evelyn standing nearby. It wasn't the first time she'd seen her take a head or absorb a quickening, and unfortunately she didn't look as horrified as she had in the past. Unfortunate because she was starting to lose some of that wide eyed innocence she had when they first met. Natalya hated this life doing that to her but it couldn't be helped, wide eyed innocent didn't last long in the Game.
Still she offered her student a small smile, “That never stops sucking.”
“Are you hurt?”, Evelyn asked, getting closer than she ever had with a headless body around.
“Nothing that isn't already healing.” With a grunt she got to her feet. Replacing her sword back into it's sheath she walked out of there with Evelyn in tow. “Okay Eve, we're going back into town. You still have a job to finish.”
“Even after all of this? Don't you want to rest up.'
Putting an arm around her as they continued walking she said, “Another important life lesson kiddo, the world doesn't stop for anything. It might get delayed a bit due to circumstances but it keeps going. I gave you a task, despite a major roadblock, it still needs to be done. Don't worry I'll help you get there and be the moral support while you talk to the guy.'
“But I'm not fluent yet. I'll mess up.”
“Best way to learn Eve, be right in the middle of it. Say the wrong verb. Get something totally by mistake. Try not to be put in jail.” The girl look at her n horror.”Maybe not now but back in the day saying the wrong thing to the wrong person could get you in a lot of hot water.”
“Personal experience I'm sure,” Evelyn said.
Grinning Natalya gave her a big squeeze as they continued walking, “See I am rubbing off on you.”
Really well done episode, and great interaction between Eve and Nat, learning the ropes of living, and surviving in a new culture, and getting her ready for what her life as an Immortal will eventually flourish into. Assuming she makes it that far. The banter and reminiscing of when Susan trained/ disciplined Natalya made me chuckle. And there is always a douchebag like that anywhere ya go, and he really showed how pathetic he was to challenging a newbie, and how he reacted to Nat's attempts to forego conflict. Her line at the end to him was funny too, also I'm assuming this douche hasn't been an immortal for very long either. Perhaps longer than Eve, but due to his quickening hitting so fast, perhaps he's only been immortal for a year or two?
Either way, nice work. :3
G A L L I F R E Y S T A N D S
science experiment gone wrong
Being alive for eight hundred years one often had time to contemplate their life. Jin had done so many times in his, before he became immortal and after. Just to calm his mind, because to busy mind was a unfocused one. And if nothing else he prided himself on his focus. Before his rebirth he was a soldier in the national army of his home country. While he was, at the time, an above average fighter his tactical mind was top notch. If he was more prideful back than he would even dare say few in the ranks above him could match him. But he was never that prideful, even as those dimmer than himself rose in the ranks higher than he did. One even stole one of Jin's strategies as his own to get a command rank. Another thing about him was that he quickly learned from past mistakes, he didn't quite talk as openly about what he would do after that.
Well one time he did, and to the same person. Jin always wondered ifit occurred to the oaf before he died that the information he gave was intentionally wrong. Not exactly an honorable method of getting revenge, no matter what culture you hailed from. But one was only human in the end.
Still he rose in the ranks, getting as far as commanding a small squad of soldiers. Still following other peoples orders and plans, but he learned he could quickly adjust his small team's movements in those plans on the battlefield, seeing things the generals either didn't consider or care about. Not so much to make it look like he thought his plans were better of course. He saw what would occasionally happen to those who thought they were. But enough that they could work inside the orders given to them with a little more leeway given how successful they were as a unit.. Just enough that he started to gain some notoriety in the higher echelon for his unit's prowess in battle. If he was a little more prideful he might have even boasted that he was on his way to becoming one of those generals.
Then he made an error.
He realized it, like many others he supposed, right after it happened. In the middle of a battle he stabbed someone with at the time he thought was a fatal blow. Then he turned away. Any other time he would have made sure the other person was dead first, even in the heat of battle. He trusted the men under him as much as they trusted him. But this time he turned away and discovered his fallen opponent had more life in him as he looked down to see his sword coming through his chest. He doesn't remember much after that, it was a blur as they say. He thought he heard one of his men cry out before the eternal darkness took him. Jin faced it knowing revenge would be swift.
Then he woke up. Not in the normal way one was used too. No this was different, more painful as his whole body seemed to wake up for the very first time. Naturally frightened by such events he looked around and saw one of his men. “Do not worry sir,” he had said. “None will know you have returned from the dead.”
“What are you babbling about?”, he demanded. “Of course I'm not dead. Look at me.”
“No you are not sir.” Without warning the man had a knife in his hand. Getting ready to curse him for his apparent betrayal he watched as the blade flashed in the light before moving. But not at him. Jin watched dumbfounded as the man stabbed himself in the stomach. He doubled over and Jin just stared at what he was seeing. A small part of him was wondering if this was some sort a conspiracy, frame him for the murder of his own man. A very small part grasping for any logical thought to explain what just happened. Then the man straighten up, removed the blade with a grunt and handed it to him for inspection. As Jin did so his man lifted his clothing to reveal the wound which was now gone outside of the blood. “You are very much alive sir. But you are more than just a man now. And I have much to teach you.”
Jin adapted quickly to the new situation. He had to otherwise he would face a more permanent death if someone else took his head. Jin often missed that man, he lost a challenge to a superior opponent from what he heard. He never gave him the proper thanks for teaching him the ways of his new life.
He often assumed that was part of the reason he formed this little group that was currently around him. Not a proper squad of soldiers like in his previous life, but not anything resembling a family either. No just a rag tag group trying to survive. Even though destiny would have them tear themselves apart at some point in the future. Decades from now or mere days it would happen eventually.
He glanced over at Omar, the first of his group. And most loyal out of any others, even if he did occasionally disagree with his decisions from time to time.
“Do not do this!” Jin had heard the cry outside of a desert town he was looking at to seek temporary lodging for the night. If it was hospitable to outsider that is. Curiosity made him look for the source of the scream. He sensed another immortal first and soon found the source of both. A muscular man with his hands tied behind his back being forced other some sort of rock by a group of men. The one with the sword of the region in his hands told him what was about the happen. The condemned man eyes met his momentarily and in that brief instant both knew what the other was like most of their kind could. His tactical mind, which was only grown sharper over the centuries, quickly assessed the situation. As soon as the other man lost his head his Quickening would soon become his. But it would also mark him as a target by these very men. Seeing the sick glee in death in their eyes it wouldn't be drawn out enough for him to get away from the scene.
Which left only one other option. “I am not sure what this man has done but surely it doesn't require such an action,' Jin said. Or at least that was his intent in his mind. He hadn't just yet master the native tongue completely as of yet.
“Leave dog,” the one with the sword said as he shook it at him. “Or you'll be next to feel my blade.”
“As usual other must resort to violence,” Jin sighed. In one motion he drew his sword and slashed the other man's neck. Not to decapitate but deep enough his life fluid would quickly pour out of him. His companions were stunned momentarily before charging at him. Obviously none were trained soldiers. Even if they were they didn't have his experience on the battlefield. The battle, if you could call it that, was quickly over. Jin was about to leave but cast a second thought at the bound immortal still trying to free himself. As a second thought he walked over to the man who started to squirm harder out of his binding. Kicking him down to his gut he placed a foot on his back. “Keep still,” he ordered before cutting the man binding with the tip of his sword.
Jin walked away as the man started rubbing his wrists. “Why did you save me?”, he demanded. Jin almost reconsidered letting him live.
“I didn't,” he informed him. “I was protecting what I really am from those men.”
“Still I am in your debt,” he said walking behind him . “My name is Omar...”
“I have little care for who you are,” Jin told him.
“Still I am in your debt. I am yours to command until it is repaid.”
“Would you offer me your head?”, Jin inquired. Here the man paused. Jin let it hang in the air for a moment longer before going on. “Still, I suppose a local guide would be helpful. Do you know the area well?”
“As well as any man,” he told him.
“I suppose that is good enough,” Jin said after thinking about it for a moment or two. “Tell me, why were those men going to execute you?”
“One of them thought I forced myself on his sister and sullied her,” this Omar said.
Human curiosity got the better of him, “And did you?”
“I didn't force myself upon her,” was all he said. But there was a particular glint in his eye that he had seen before in other men.
“Perhaps you know how close the next village is. I get the feeling this one will be inhospitable”
That debt had surely had been repaid by now but Omar still stood by his side. Jin quietly hoped he wouldn't have to be the one to eventually kill him as their life demanded. Of course remembering how Omar came into his company made him look over at Ezekiel, looking uncomfortable as ever behind the computer. An interesting contraindication of a man if there ever was. He was raised to believe anything not created by the Lord was unnatural and yet had the highest aptitude of any one Jin had ever encountered at it.
“No, this isn't right. I can't be able to use this.”
“And yet you are,” Jin watched as a salesman tried to calm down the most plains clothed individual Jin had personally ever seen. There were peasants back in his youth that were better dressed. They had spotted each other earlier as fellow immortals but kept things civil since they were in a public place. “I have never seen anyone pick up a computer program that fast.”
“That is not possible...!”, the man was starting to make a scene.
Foe whatever reason Jin took pity on the man and intervened. “I'm sorry,” he told the salesman. “My friend hasn't been right lately and I thought the air would do him some good. I guess he got a little too excited.” Without another word he lead the man out of the store and into the street.
After a bit his temporary companion said, “I am not you're friend.”
“No you are not,' Jin quickly agreed. “But further outbursts might involve the calling of the police. And depending on how tightly wound they were the situation could have escalated rather quickly. And I'm sure neither of us wants to wake up in the middle of a investigation. Granted I could have just as easily left by myself...”
“Are you going to kill me,” he asked suddenly.
Jin looked around to see where other people where in regards to them. “I had no plans but if you are challenging me.”
“No,” he said sullen. “I only respond to challenges.” Well there was a unique viewpoint. “I will not fight unless provoked, as this unnatural life demands. “ He looked lost in thought as they continued walking away from the store. “I keep hoping the next one will be the one to finally end my curse but I always win.”
“Then why not let the other person win?”
He looked at Jin like he just uttered the most blasphemous thing he had ever heard in his life. “That would be akin to suicide. This existence condemns me to hell itself but to make it worse would prolong my eternal agony.”
“So being alive is unnatural but letting yourself be killed is a sin,” Jin said trying understand his logic. “You have placed yourself in a most unique quandary. I'm not quite sure how one would get into that spot to begin with.”
“Either challenge me or leave me be,” he said as he walked away. Jin watched him, weighing his options. While have never seen the other man fight Jin figured he could figure out his combat style rather quickly. He would be doing the other man a favor it would seem.
Still something else made him say, “Or to create a third option, I could be your friend.”
The other immortal turned back at him “Our kind,” the very word seemed distasteful in his mouth, “do not have friend.”
“I'm sure my current traveling companion Omar would disagree,” Jin countered. “Than an small acquaintance perhaps.,” he said walking forward. “Somebody to just be yourself around. To relax. As much as we can relax around others like us.”
“Why,” he asked, “why do that?”
“Because even we need someone to lean on occasionally,” Jin answered him. “Part of us is still human after all. That part that needs to be around others, for the sake of their own sanity if nothing else.” The other man looked confused, unsure of what to do. Taking it as a good sign that he was still lingering he added, “My name Jin.”
Reluctantly the other man replied, “Ezekiel.”
“Well then Ezekiel,” Jin motioned down the street. “Let us talk and get better acquainted. Calling each other acquaintances we should know a little about each other at least.”
“I've located the woman 's profile,” Ezekiel spoke up. He and Omar joined him at the computer as he backed up to let them look at the screen. Victoria looked mildly interested from across the room. The newest member of their little troupe. Unfortunately there was no real story there. The late Nathan brought her in, along with her per-immortal daughter. Will Jin was positive Nathan had a more lustful interest in mind, and the thief was quickly disappointed in the respect, Jin let them stay for one reason. To give the daughter a roof for a while as it seemed they traveled a lot in her short life. Which brings them to right now in a matter involving her former high school teacher.
He looked at he picture of a blond woman on the screen. A few days prior Omar swore he saw the woman that was with the man after Victoria at a hospital during one of his supply runs in the next state. Jin had requested some thing and suggested that it be as far away from her as possible, but that was a bit extreme. But then again that was Omar. Jin glanced over to his longest running companion for verification. Without looking at him Omar nodded, “That's her alright.”
“So the bitch was there when he captured that loser,” Victoria stated. “So what.”
“Perhaps we can use her to lure him somewhere, “Jin said. Yes Victoria wronged him a long time ago. But she was under his wing now and like he did with his old squad centuries ago he looked after his own. “Find a way to end this once and for all. One way or another.”
“Whatever,” Victoria said. “Guy had a hard to kill me for centuries. I don't think you can talk him out of it.”
“As I said,” Jin told her, “one way or another.”
“Maybe you can find out how he knew about Nathan,” Ezekiel offered. Yes that was an interesting question to ask. While Nathan was brash none of them could think of anything he did that would bring attention to their group or who was in it. Then he looked past Victoria at her daughter Janet. Was he imagining things or did she looked strangely satisfied for a moment? He glanced over to Omar. He had seen it too. It almost looked like he apparently approved as he nodded slightly. His distaste for the late thief was no secret, especially after Victoria started letting him have his way with Janet. Perhaps there was some lessons the young woman picked up on a little too easily. A issue for another time.
“One thing at a time my friend, “Jin told Ezekiel who was still waiting. “Let us see how we can use this information first before we act. We don't want to miscalculate things and make the situation worse.”
science experiment gone wrong
Owen froze momentarily as he stepped away from the school's door and into the parking lot., He felt the buzz. He did not need this right now, especially after the police got off his back the last time he had to fight somebody near school grounds. Another headless body, and despite the fact there was another one near by while he was under surveillance more than likely some hard nose jackass would look at him again. Okay he might have been getting extra paranoid since he'd been actively hunting the woman who killed Himiko. But part of him was still worried that one of them decided to come looking for him instead.
Covering up that freeze with the casual gaze that centuries of practice gave him he glanced around the lot and looked for who it could have been. He spotted her right away. It took a second longer to realize he knew this one. Her usually look he last saw her in was a little different. There was some red streaks in her hair, and she wore longer pants and a scarf now. But she still wore the chain belt, and as an old mortal friend of his once told him years ago, the eyes never change. Breaking out into a big grin he walked over to her, “Serenity, it's been a while.”
“Hi Owen,” she said friendly enough. But something seemed off as old battle hardened instincts kicked in. She seemed a little more nervous then he thought she should be for some reason. Those old instincts also made him estimate how far away his car, and his sword, where. And more importantly who was still in the parking lot observing the two of them. “How have you been?”
“I've been good,” he said trying to feel her out. Then stopped himself from doing that. This was Susan's old student. Yeah she took off with Harris but he couldn't have changed her that much in a couple of years. Maybe keep his guard half way up. “Is everything okay? Nobody did anything did they?”
“No,” she looked like she wanted to say something else but stopped. Then she looked to see where everybody else was herself, “Can we talk? In private?”
Half guard went to full guard before she even finished speaking, “Exactly how private we talking here?”
She must have read something on his face because she answered, “I'm not chall.... I just need to speak to you, away from anybody listening.” Seeing how he happened to look over Serenity's shoulder to see Princess watching them that sounded like great idea.
“Sure thing Ser, There's a quiet spot over there by the park.” As they walked to that location Owen looked back and saw Princess start to follow only to be quickly stopped by her father the principal. About time he grew a backbone he thought as he made her go back into the school. Once there were there she sat on a bench and he leaned against a nearby tree. “Alright, what was so important?”
She suddenly looked scared, “They have them.”
“They and them who?”
“I don't know who they are,” she said. “Scott and myself was visiting Susan and this group of immortals jumped us about a block away from the hospital.” Owen felt his stomach tighten. “I don't know who they were. Two of them held swords to Scott and Susan's necks and demanded to know if I knew you. When I said yes they said to get you and come to this address here.” handing him a piece of paper she went on. “They claimed they wouldn't kill them, but if you don't show up before tomorrow...” Ser couldn't finish the sentence, she didn't have too. “Owen who are these people?”
“Was one of them a blond woman?”, he asked reading the note. He knew the general location it was a couple of hours from here. She looked confused at his response. “Long story,” he ended up saying. “I'll explain on the way to get Susan out of there.”
“And Scott,” Serenity reminded him.
He hesitated a bit, fingering the scar on his neck. Serenity just stared at him.“Yeah sure, why not.”
After hearing the short version of the story Serenity was quiet for the rest of the trip. Only speaking up when she saw the street written on the paper. Turning on to it they found it soon enough as the sun started to set. Getting out and opening the backdoor he retrieved his sword. “At least it's holy ground. If they're being kept close nothing should have happened.”
“Like that worked out so well last time,” Serenity said not looking at him. Owen didn't look at her, he knew exactly what she was talking about.
“I haven't forgotten,” he said.
“It was you're fault then too.” There he looked at her. “That happened because of you. Susan was held hostage then because of you. Susan and Scott are being held now because now because of you.”
“The last time was not my fault,” he shot back. “That was the result of that damn game Harris set up.”
“You were still the center of it!” she shot back. “You were still the reason. And now something you did caused this. Do you even care somebody else could die because of you?!”
“Yes I care!”, he exploded. “Do you really think I forgot? Do you honestly think I forgot about Keith? Do you honestly think I never realized why that happened? I have never forgotten that, I can't forget that. Keith's death has haunted me ever since it happened. Ask Susan. Ask Natalya. And you will be asking Susan because we are going to get them back. You can drop me out of your life afterwards and Susan will probably join you there after this, but we're getting them back one way or another.”
If Serenity had a response it staid in her head as they felt the buzz. Both of them looked around until they saw a lone Asian man coming toward them. Stopping a few paces from them he studied them for a moment before saying, “I apologize for interrupting.”
Taking the lead Owen went “Where are they?”
He turned a bit and looked behind him, past the church, and pointed in a more specific area, “They are over there, still alive. She can check if both of you would like. I won't interfere but I would like to have a few words with you in exchange.”
Trying to gauge him in those few moment he was speaking Owen weighed his options. Glancing back at Serenity he went, “Go ahead Ser. I'll be right behind you.” She seemed hesitant but eventually went in the direction that was pointed out. She only paused when she got close to this stranger. He just smiled if a friendly way and moved aside to give her a clear path. Hesitating a little longer she hurried off to where they were supposed to be.
Alone with this guy Owen halfway expected him to get more aggressive now that she was gone but he stayed the same. Much like Owen did earlier he apparently sized him up, occasionally glancing at the long sword still in his hand. “I do regret,” he started, “that we had to meet under such circumstances. But you have been a particular nasty thorn in my little group's side. Again my apologizes, Owen I believe it was, I'm Jin.”
Ignoring the pleasantries Owen demanded, “That group include Victoria?”
Appearing disappointed at this particular turn he said, “And if I say yes?”
“If you're protecting her then we have a problem.”
He started walking a bit, keeping the same distance as he circled around him, “While I have not known Victoria long I do get the feeling she is more than capable of taking caring herself. She might even be offended if I tried to do so if I read her correctly.”
“You do realize why I'm after her right?”, Owen made sure he kept this guy in his sights while also trying to keep an eye on their surroundings. Given that woman's little habit of using mortals as a warm up act he wasn't trusting anything. Then he remember he let Serenity go off on alone and looked back for a moment in the direction she went, making sure he didn't see the worry cross his face.
“I'm aware of the situation,” this Jim replied. “While I'm not trying to belittle your feelings in any way you must admit it was a long time ago, and last I heard time is supposed to heal all wounds.”
“Yeah well I've been told I have a hard time letting things go,” Owen told him. “And some wounds don't heal. Especially ones that deep.”
He simply nodded. “I personally have never felt your type of loss,” Jin said.
Owen cut in, “Pray you never do.”
Jin went on, “I would imagine that sort of hatred would would turn you into some sort beast or demon by now.” He ignored that small feeling of laughter in the back of his mind. “Yet you seem almost normal, like that sad , unfortunate event never happened.”
“Well as they say nowadays I had a pretty good support system over the years. One of which your group kidnapped.”
“I needed your attention,” Jin said, not even trying to to look apologetic. “Obviously it worked. So what do you want out of all of this?”
“I want her,” Owen said pretty much automatically.
Jin just smiled, “Which 'her' are you referring to?”
Victoria almost came out of his mouth on instinct. But he stopped himself from saying it it. Calming down a bit he answered, “Susan.” Jin, whoever this guy was, almost seemed happy with his response. “Oh and the other guy too, Harris,” he added. “It would make Serenity unhappy if anything happened to him. For reasons I still don't understand.” Jin just gave him a look. Owen absentmindedly fingered his scar again, “He's not my favorite person on the planet.”
“I suppose that type of situation is something every person has in common.” Jin stopped walking, pretty much blocking the way Serenity went. With a small gesture he stepped aside, “If you survive I hope we won't meet again.”
“We will if you're still harboring her,” Owen told him as he walked past. Adding, “And keep Janet out of the way when it does.” He didn't look back to see his reaction, if any, to that last statement. Owen definitely didn't show any on Jin's last statement.
Hurrying up when the buzz hit him he was relieved to see Susan and Harris was still alive like Jin said. Tied up and gagged on a couple of folding chairs but alive. He spotted their swords, Harris still using that cutlass with the jewel encrusted hilt, sticking into the ground in front of them. Then he spotted Serenity, standing in a defensive position, hand obviously around the handle of her sword but still hadn't drawn it yet. Then he spotted Janet, and tried not to be disappointed in that, and the plain clothed guy from when he finally tracked down and caught the Thief. Slowing down as he came closer he tried to get an idea on what was going on. “Have we said 'let them go' yet because I'd hate to repeat it.”
“The girl is not answering my challenge,” the guy said, almost disappointed. Owen had met enough people over the centuries to get the idea that wasn't because he was blood hungry, especially since he looked away when his bigger friend took care of the Thief. But he couldn't figure out why. Either way it meant he could avoid another situation like the one that cost Keith his life. On the other hand he knew Susan well enough to see that the looks she was giving her former student was the reason why she wasn't accepting right away.
Owen stepped forward, “Not her fight.”
“I can take him,” Serenity said, mainly to massage her own bruised ego over the situation.
“Not your fight,” Owen said. “Seriously am I speaking Greek? Which would be weird because I never picked up Greek. Italian yes, but I never made the trip to that particular country.”
They guy looked over at Janet, who answered his unasked question, “He was like that in class occasionally.”
“Just trying to hide the anger over the fact my friend got kidnapped,” Janet looked ashamed of herself at least, “again.” Serenity mumbled something, he ignored it. “But,” Owen looked down to make sure he stepped off holy ground, “if you're looking to challenge some one boyo I'm suddenly in the mood.”
He nodded a bit before turning and removing his hat and coat and placed them on a nearby stone bench. Retrieving a small sword and a hand sickle from their hiding spot he turned back toward him. “Ezekiel Fields.”
“Owen McAllister,” he said before taking up a defensive position. He had seen a more than a few opponents in his life, witness a few challenges between other immortals, and was familiar with all sorts of bladed weapons. But he had to silently admit the farm tool was a first. He fought a couple of duel wielders before so it wasn't completely unknown territory, just a pain in the ass to keep an eye on two weapons at once. Both of them took a few swings to test each others defenses. Mostly Owen wanted to see how fast he was with that sickle, turns out he was pretty quick with it. Ezekiel decided to up the offense and came at him swinging both weapons. Swinging his long sword to block anything that came at him Owen started backing up. Intercepting the sickle with the long sword he kicked Ezekiel away to get some space between them, and a little more breathing room for himself.
Taking a quick moment to watch how the other man moved as he took a step to the side he tried to figure out the the best way to come out of this alive. A dark impulse that came out of nowhere made him glance at Janet. It would be so easy to distract him by going after....While Owen pushed that thought down Ezekiel came at him again catching him off guard. Barely getting his blade up to block the short sword his leg was slashed by the outside edge of the sickle. Moving away left him open to a sword swing that sliced down his back and he went to a knee. Looking back he saw the sickle come at his head he moves but it still impaled his shoulder. Owen cried out in pain as Ezekiel reared back for the killing strike. Dropping his sword Owen grabbed the other man's arm in mid swing in an act of desperation.. Clutching at his sickle wielding arm he slowly forced it up removing the blade from his shoulder.
Struggling to his feet he headbutted Ezekiel a couple of times busting them both open. As both of them stumbled backwards Owen realized he left his long sword between them. Holding his shoulder and willing his immortal abilities to heal his body faster he kept backing up. Them he felt his foot hit something. Susan and Harris's swords, it had to be. He reached back reaching for a handle. A sound similar to a male grunt of protest told him which one once he felt it. He pulled it and brought it forward, it was Harris's cutlass. He grunted in protest again. “I'm not keeping the damn thing,” Owen said through his teeth.
He almost started to reach for Susan's rapier as well when Ezekiel came at him. Charging a bit and rolling under a vertical swing of the sickle Owen ran toward his long sword and grabbed it on the fly. Centuries of battle instinct got the cutlass up as he turned around to intercept the short sword. Seeing the opening Owen swung his long sword around. Ezekiel tried to step back but wasn't fast enough as the edge of the blade caught him in the side and sliced open his flesh, but not deep enough to incapacitate him. Not waiting for his immortal abilities to kick in Ezekiel came at him again. Now with two weapons of his own Owen was having a better time of it as he blocked and dodged whatever the other man threw at him. He was still wicked fast with that Sickle though.
The fight went on for several more minutes until Owen was able to cross the other man's arms and with the cutlass forced them to the ground. Immediately letting go and putting both hands on the handle of his long sword Owen had it at his opponent's neck. A dark impulse over took him again, made him look in the eyes of his opponent. He wanted to see the fear in them, wanted to savor it as the other man realized he was about to die. A snarl starting to form on his lips as he stared him right in the eyes. But there was no fear, no trace what that he could detect. The happiness in the other man's eyes broke the dark hold that briefly over took him. Feeling nothing but confused Ezekiel told him, “Thank you.”
Brought back to his senses Owen stared at him for a brief moment, “Okay then.” With one pull he brought the sword around and beheaded his opponent. Still in shock over the man's final moments Owen wasn't ready as the Quickening hit him. Transfixed as he absorbed the fallen immortal's essence he screamed at the heavens above as it became too much. He dropped to his knees after it was over exhausted on every level possible.
“No you don't,” He heard Serenity say. He looked up to see Janet try to run but Serenity got in her way, sword in hand.
“Stop!” he yelled out hoarsely. Serenity looked at him. She wanted vengeance on somebody for this situation, he could see it in her face. He wasn't going to let her go down that path. “Untie Susan,” he told her. She wouldn't budge. “And Harris too if you have too. Just do it.” She looked back between the two of them before heading toward the Susan and Harris but still kept glancing back at Janet. Getting to his feet wiping the blood off his face as he walked over to his former pupil. Right now she looked as afraid as he'd ever seen her. Stepping to the side to give her a clear path he told her, “That Jin guy's that way, you might be able to catch up.”
Serenity, who just untied Susan looked at him feeling totally betrayed, “Owen.”
Removing the gag from her mouth Susan said, “Let it drop Ser. She didn't ambush us.”
“But she's with them,” Serenity protested.
“I made sure they were okay,” Janet offered weakly. Serenity started toward here. Susan stopped her right before Owen got in front Janet. All it took was one look from him to get Janet running off toward Jin
“Why are you protecting her?”, Serenity demanded.
Susan spoke for him, “It's a complicated story Ser. Owen,” she looked over at him as Serenity went ot untie Harris.
“Just remember you said you'll play nice when Natalya's around,” he said, figuring that was were she was going. On a few levels he knew Serenity as right, this was because of him. Feeling exactly like he just lost one of his longest confidants he started to walk away.
“Owen,” Susan called back out. When he stopped she walked toward him. “I told you I would have you out of my life if I saw you become that person who would betray everything you believed in for revenge. You haven't done that yet, and please don't ever.” She hugged him, “I know what's like to have friends kidnapped in an attempt to get at me, so I'm not blaming you for this either.” Serenity grunted again as Harris massaged his wrists to get some feelings back into his hands. “But you're going to owe me one hell of a dinner as payback.”
Owen smiled despite himself, “I'll see what I can arrange.”
“I don't believe this,” Serenity mumbled. Susan walked over to her and tried to explain things.
Unfortunately for him Harris walked over and studied him a bit. In a tone only he could hear he said,, “Speaking of being other people I watched you. I saw you're face near the end. You still got a little of Big Evil left in you, don't you?”
Owen stared at him but Harris didn't flinch. Although his hand went to a similar scar on his neck that Owen had put there. “Start another game with me and find out.” Harris held up his hands and conceded before placing those hands behind his head and walking toward Susan and Serenity. Owen looked back where Janet ran off too and hoped it wasn't a mistake letting her go back to that group and her mother.
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