Disclaimer: Andromeda is the creation of Gene Roddenbery and its related creators and producers. Fireworks and Tribune Entertainment and does not belong to me.
Note: For Andromeda would refer to events set about midway through Season 1 episode "Harper 2.0'.
Highlander: the Series belongs to Rysher Television and Gauamount Productions.
Note: For Highlander takes place around the time of Duncan's Dark Quickening and refers to events shown in the Season 5 episode "Something Wicked This Way Comes'.
I belong firmly Clan Denial that Richie's 'death in Season 6 episode "Archangel' never happened. " Also it's a rather belated answer to Dan S's story challenge posted over at the big Highlander fanfiction archive, the Seventh Dimension.
"What Does Not Kill You" by Karrenia
Dylan Hunt stood on the crest of a rocky outcrop surveying the panoramic sweep of the tundra landscape spread out below him in various shades of greens, whites, grays and blacks. Wind that constantly changed direction tugged subtle designs through his wheat-colored hair.
The planet on which he landed his slip fighter was not listed on any of current galactic star maps; it was however, listed in the star map of his ship, the Andromeda Ascendant, but those maps had been accurate over three hundred years ago. It was only reasonable that the topography, features would change in all that time.
'Like so many other things,' Dylan reflected. Keeping track of remote and sparsely populated planets would have to be very low on the list of priorities.
In the privacy of his own thoughts Dylan sometimes felt like a bit of a relic himself: the only surviving High Guard of the fallen Commonwealth.
Dylan sighed, wondering if what kind of fate would allow to survive in suspended animation on the event horizon of a black hole, and the very instant he would have literally fall into the abyss, the hand of fate reached out and snatched him back. He was a man out of his own time. But he had vowed he would restore the Commonwealth or die trying. Dylan kicked at an inoffensive piece of rubble and watched as it tumbled down the face of the outcrop.
An electronic static of white noise buzzed in his left ear, and he left off staring at the bleak landscape long enough to acknowledge the communication from his ship in orbit. "Yes, Rommie."
"Captain, scanners confirm that landing is within plus or minus 10 clicks of the relic's last known coordinates."
"Estimated walking distance and direction?"
Rommie replied: "Two hours, barring any unexpected adverse weather conditions. Head due east."
"That big brain of yours indicate which civilization inhabited this rock? And if so if anyone is still alive? I wouldn't want to drop in them unannounced because that would be impolite."
"Unlikely, Captain. I will adjust the scanners to pick up life signs. The process will only take a matter of nano-seconds. Stand by."
Another few seconds ticked by and Dylan heard and felt the whine of the communication device as the ship downloaded the results of the scan.
The ship, floating in the void of space, the sun of the planetary system reflecting of its silver hull, hummed and purred to itself as the Andromeda filtered the information and with an almost visible hum of satisfaction responded:
"No visible life signs averaging the mass and density of humanoids is .02 percent. Scans came up positive on an unidentified escape pod, origin unknown."
"If what we find turns up to be valuable, " Dylan grinned. "Tell Captain Valentine that I get first dibs according to galactic salvage rights."
"You tell, her," the AI's voice replied, "I would rather not have any of my systems pounded on by a frustrated former salvage freighter captain."
Dylan entered the hollow that had been created when a meteorite had crashed into the planet's surface, leaving behind a roughly bowl-shaped crevice.
At the bottom, Dylan's feet in shod in black boots sank to the knees into a congealed mass of snow and frozen mud. Shifting aside the pieces Dylan's efforts were rewarded with what he come to find: A cylindrical silver and black metal tube, roughly the length of an average human being.
A through scan with his device that kept a running log of surface temperature and life readings indicated that the on-board computer kept the vital signs of its passenger and its other functions operating. Dylan tugged off a glove from his right hand and knelt down beside the escape pod. In the dying light of the planet's sunset Dylan tried to read the language inscribed on to the pod's metallic surface to discover its origin.
To his surprise, the script inscribed on the pod's sides, lids and corners were in perfectly understandable Old Earth English. And equally astonishing was the fact that the pod's consoles and display readouts were still operative, flickering green in the dying light of the sun that filtered down into the crevice. Dylan sucked in his breath, the cold air hissing between his teeth, Dylan peered closely at the readouts his discovered lettering that read: 'Property of NASA USS: Venture."
Methos gasped for breath, air going into lungs that been breathing recycled artificial atmosphere for what seemed like an eternity. His eyelids flickered trying in vain to respond to order from the mind that told him to wake up and find out what had gone wrong and his present whereabouts.
Methos stirred and maneuvered around until he could sit upright. Realizing that could retract the lid and breathed in deeps gasp of fresh if frigid air. At least it was real air, not constantly recycled oxygen.
He calmed the rapid beating of his heart and then realized that he was not alone. An intrusive but watchful presence was with him.
Reacting on instinct he hurled himself out of the pod and at the intruder.
"Good morning," Dylan greeted; blocking the pod's passenger with an out-flung arm and catching the staggering man before he fell down again. Dylan smiled at the stranger trying to put the other at ease.
"Where the hell am I?"
Methos realized that attack was not a feasible option in his exhausted condition. The stranger was well built, compact, taller, stronger, and dressed for the cold weather. Methos would have to acquire more information and assess his options before he decided on another strategy. This seemed like an ideal time to extract some of it.
"Now we're getting somewhere," Dylan replied, scanning the stranger's lanky frame. Skinny, but underneath Dylan could tell that the man had a lean, predatory feel and a wiry strength. "Water?" He held out the water canteen, and Methos glared and accepted the offering.
"To answer your first question, this is the planet Lumaria. I am Captain Dylan Hunt, Commander of the High Guard ship the Andromeda Ascendant."
"Pretty," Methos replied. "What's that got to do with me?"
"Everything and nothing," Dylan replied. "I found your escape pod, so by galactic salvage rights everything in it, including its passenger belongs to me."
"You're not a slaver or smuggler. What are you really after."
"Come with me back to my ship and you'll find out. It's a long story. Suffice to say I need a few more crew members."
"Do I have any other options?" Methos asked.
"Assuming that no one came by in response to the pod's distress signal, what were your plans before I found you?" Dylan asked.
"Don't really know," Methos shrugged. "I was making this up as I went."
"Then you'll consider my proposal?" Dylan nodded encouragingly.
"I have a choice?"
"You can find your own way off of this rock, you can die here of exposure, or you can wait for another passing ship to come get you." Dylan replied.
"Do I have to call your Sir?" Methos grinned.
"No, but I would prefer to either Captain or Dylan." You agree to join my crew?
"Hell, yeah. It's a damn sight better than the options you've already put forth, so anything better than freezing death on this rock," Methos replied.
"All right, it's a bit of a trek to where I land my slip fighter, so if we're going to make the rendezvous point with Andromeda we should get moving."
Earth AD 2004
Richie paced restlessly back and forth outside the auto body shop waiting for the mechanic to repair his motorcycle. A thick layer of sweat and road dust made him feel grimy and out of sorts. He glanced into reflecting surface of a nearby window and decided he needed a bath and nap in that order. His Paris guidebook showed several nearby hotels, but none within walking distance, swearing a blue streak, wondering what was taking so long. Entering the building he ignored the sidelong stares from the other workers and clients.
Richie followed a dimly lit corridor and maneuvered around the raised platforms that held other vehicles in various stages of repair. Short on cash and in a hurry it did not ocurr to him as odd to see that the equipment in the front looked old and the equipment close to the back of the building could have been lifted from the most modern technological auto factory. Richie shook his head and wondered what he was going to be charged for this all this gadgetry. "Yo! Mason! Where are you? Is the bike fixed yet. I'm getting rather anxious here," Richie said.
"Yes, but I want to discuss something with you first." Mason beckoned from his seated position at a cluttered desk, a six pack of cheap beer shoved to one side.
"Do I even what to know why you have a time machine in your back room?"
Richie was extremely tired and so this revelation failed to astound him. In short, his life experiences that had led to this point had consisted of a series of bizarre, dangerous events following on the heels of fear and confusion.
His mentor, his teacher, and the man he looked up to as a father and guide had nearly killed him. Duncan MacLeod hadn't actually been himself and MacLeod's Watcher, Joe Dawson had repeatedly warned Richie to stay away from MacLeod as much as possible because Macleod was suffering both physically and mentally from something called a Dark Quickening.
Richie thought he could understand that. Richie had taken a respectable amount of Quickenings from other Immortals, and lived to tell about it, but none had ever made him go off the deep end as much as the older Immortal.
Richie fled the dojo in a blind panic; his guts tied in a knot of confusion, fear, and anger because his mentor, his teacher had nearly taken his head.
Richie told himself Macleod had struck at an invisible enemy that only he could see, and Richie just happened to be a physical target in range. What had saved his life was the unexpected arrival of Joe Dawson, and his shooting of MacLeod that allowed Richie to run.
That had been a horrible misunderstanding, but that wasn't really the truth. Months of coming to terms with that bizarre scene had taught Richie one vital thing: he had to quit making excuses for the older Immortal. Richie's rather disjointed thoughts were interrupted when Mason shifted his weight around and dislodged a precarious stack of tools and oil cans.
"To be precise, young man," Mason began, rubbing his oily palms on the front of his leather apron. "It's not a time machine, it’s a wormhole; usually defined as being a tear in the fabric of the space time continuum."
Not much is known about the man called Mason except that his deformed appearance belies a superior intellect, a talent for constructing wonders of technology out of the scrap of others, and a knack for hoarding information. He can get anything you want-for a price.
"Yeah, right. Like I understood all that," Richie muttered.
"It's like this," Mason smiled, showing his gaping yellowed teeth. "Time is not linear, despite the evidence of own our eyes, ears and noses, and other more nebulous senses that it would be. One event follows another, and so on. But what if I told you that time is fact circular. That it has as many layers as the skin of an onion. You like onions?"
"No, can't stand them. What's your point?" Richie demanded.
"Ah, the young, so impatient. It's an analogy, humor me. To continue with our demonstration; onions have layers and each time you peel off a layer one more is revealed underneath. You see," Suiting action to word the mechanic lifted a wrinkly brown paper object, obviously an onion from both its appearance and the odor, and waved it directly underneath Richie's nose.
"How about if I offered you alternative. You've been running to or running from something for most of your life, am I right?"
"How the hell would you know that?" Richie demanded.
"It's my business to know things, just answer the question," Mason replied,
"So. I'm offering you the chance of a lifetime."
"I've heard better sales pitches when I worked as a used car salesman." Richie said. "You're asking me to step into that gizmo and go where?"
"You inquired about what I was doing with a time machine," Mason shrugged. Well, I need a favor. And in exchange for services rendered for the repair of you motorcycle all I ask in you perform a small service for me."
"You see, I can calibrate the device to take only one person. "Now you're catching on." Mason nodded encouragingly.
"No way!" Richie shouted. "First of all I don't believe in time travel, second of all, you're crazy if you think I'll waltz headlong into some kind of weird portal."
"I think you will," Mason replied. "What do you have to keep here, in this reality. I think you're someone in search of a vision, of something to believe in again. Recent experiences have made you question your faith in people most dear to you."
"I could get better advice from a Chinese fortune cookie," Richie demanded.
"I need you."
"Why you indeed?" Mason smiled. "Good question, convenient that I have such a good answer. I've already outlined some of the main reasons, but you're an Immortal…"
"Geez, does everybody know about that?" Richie griped.
"Relax, I'll keep your secret if you'll keep mine. As the old saying goes, you scratch my back; I'll scratch yours. You see the suit regulates itself, but not everyone can process the sensory input of another dimension. You've got an accelerated healing factor, among other things, and you've got a strong survival instinct and corresponding sense of adventure."
"Lovely," Richie complained, "Anything else I should know?"
"Go in the bathroom and suit up," Mason instructed, opening a crate and removing a carefully folded orange suit and handing it over. "Believe me, kid, you'll need it where you're going," Mason replied.
"I look like some kind damned astronaut," Richie shouted from the bathroom, fumbling with the suite numerous catches, clips and zippers. "Is this really necessary?" Richie asked, eyeing the suit with some doubt. Where'd you get this, NASA surplus store?"
Mason choked on his beer and set it down with a clink on the table in front of him and looked the kid over. The boots were a not a good fit, but then the roomier the better. The kid was average height and build, in good shape if a trifle worn around the edges: Not too tall, not too short: the kid appeared capable of taking care of himself.
The orange suit had been intended for extreme conditions and would regulate his body temperature, and give him you 48 hours of oxygen in a vacuum, and provide propulsion in zero gravity. The only thing it won't do is hold your hand when crossing the street.
"Ready" Mason asked
"Ready as I'll ever be. Can I take my bike with me?" Richie asked.
"Don't see why not? It's already a relic, where you're going it'll be a positive antique."
"Where am I going?" Aside from entering a time machine, that is." Richie shuffled his feet, feeling the circulation start to go sluggish, and tightened his grip around the handles of his motorcycle.
Mason glided over, fast for someone of his massive size "Please get it through that thick head of yours, which I understand is of some concern to your kind, it's a dimensional gateway not a time machine. There's a world of difference between the two."
"Wait, I'm not so sure I want to go through with this…" Richie said.
"Don't worry, I'll monitor your progress every step of the way." Mason smiled.
"Great, just great," Richie muttered.
Mason attached a tether cord to the motorcycle and attached the other end to one of the chest buckles on the front of the suit, tugging on the connection to make sure it was secure. "Now, just walk up the ramp and I'll open the iris, and walk through. I understand it will be a little uncomfortable at first, but it will pass. Welcome to the future, Richie." Mason said.
In the vacuum of space no one can hear you scream. Richie thought with the part of his mind that was not otherwise occupied keeping himself attached to the tether that connected his suit with Mason on the other end of the connection, that 'uncomfortable needed to be upgraded to hurts like hell. Every nerve ending screamed, and smell of something burning like the after effects of a lightning strike or the aftermath of an Immortal Quickening pulsed all around him.
"A little uncomfortable….. Hell! This sucks! Literally!" That was Richie's last conscious thought before his mind, stubbornly refusing to cope with the sensory input, shut down and blackness closed over him.
The Medical Bay
By the time Richie regained consciousness several things struck at the same time.
One: The light bright enough to burn into his retinas, and secondly, he was not alone. Blinking back the fogginess Richie felt around with all his senses. Beneath his fingers he could feel a cool metal surface and rough linen.
He opened one eye a crack, not yet reading for a full blast of harsh light and realized that a girl whose skin was a deep lavender, stood beside holding a high-tech looking medical scope. He tried a shaky grin but it came out more of a grimace. His stomach growled and put a hand on his abdomen, wondering why that portion of his body always caused trouble at the worst possible moment. He blushed and then sat up on the bed. Taking a quick glance around Richie noted the gleaming array of cupboards and medical devices and muttered under his breath" "What the hell did I get myself into?"
"I'm Trance Gemini, I'm the acting medical officer aboard the Andromeda Ascendant, and you're safe here. No one will hurt you. Just hold still while I complete my examination."
Richie glanced at the purple girl with the mesmerizing eyes and he wondered if he had been better off with the orange environmental suit on. He could not recall taking it off but someone must have, and he blushed, guessing that it had been as part of her medical evaluation.
"Good, then we can ask him a few questions. Our other passenger has been less than forthcoming, Dylan replied. "I'm hoping we'll have better luck with the young man over there."
"Hmm, the possibilities," Beka remarked, entering the medical bay. "I was feeling a bit left out on the command deck so I left Tyr there and came down to check out our intruder."
"What have we learned so far?" Dylan asked Trance, ignoring Beka's comments.
"He's human, but I'm also picking up an amount of bio electric charges," Trance stated, a puzzled frown forming in on her brow.
"If it swims like a duck, looks like a duck, and tastes like a duck, it must be a duck," Harper joked from his seat near the back wall of the medical bay where he found an antique cycle and began disassembling it. Richie glanced over, a worried expression forming a line on his forehead; "I went to a lot of trouble to get that fixed, so don't blow it up or anything."
"Pay attention, son," Dylan ordered. "I'd like to ask you a few questions."
"Oh, right. I've got a million of 'em. So, where am I? What year is it?"
"Who sent you here?" Dylan asked "And where are you from?"
"Yes, uh, sir," Richie gulped. "Mason." I'm Richie Ryan of Seacouver, Washington."
"Mason," Trance echoed.
"You heard of him?" Dylan asked.
"What does he look like?" Trance wondered.
"Yes, but what is your planet of origin?" Dylan asked.
"Earth," Richie replied.
"That's impossible," Beka remarked. "Old Earth was destroyed by the Magog and the surviving humans were either killed and eaten or taking as slaves to the Neitzchean homeworlds. So, you're either lying or delusional,"
Beka stated, leaning forward so that her icy blue glared stared straight at him, and appeared as if she would preferred to stare through him as well.
"I guess, that would mean that Mason did it. He really sent me into one of those alternate reality futures he kept yammering about."
"You're a traveler?" Trance asked, cocked her head to one side and her tail began twitching back and forth. She glanced at the monitor bolted to the wall above the young man's exam bed and ordered the ship's computer to make a record coded to her personal journal.
"Yeah," Richie smiled at Trance. "But don't ask me to explain the technical details, it just gives me a headache."
"You and me both." Dylan realized he was taking too much of an instinctive liking to the young man and resumed the stern, commanding look on his face."You never answered the question."
"What gets me the most," Richie sighed. "Is that this entire ordeal began with me walking into a mechanic's shop to get my motorcycle fixed."
"Oh Mason? Like your average grease monkey. Short, compact, solid, built low to the ground, thick through the shoulders and chest. Keeps his clothes covered with a bib. Not that his clothes were all that clean to start with."
"Hmm, garage mechanic, likes to tinker with toys and technology, take them apart and put them back together again," Harper interrupted. "Kindred spirit, at least." Where can I find him? We could compare notes."
"Mr. Harper," Dylan interrupted, "Now is not the time for levity?"
"I rather thought it was," Harper replied, and went back to tinkering with the motorcycle.
"Thank you, Mr. Harper," Dylan said, keeping his tone even and precise. "Mr. Ryan, did this Mason person give you a reason or a motive for your selection or choice of destination?"
"None really, " Richie sighed. "Except that it was supposed to be an opportunity of a lifetime and an adventure."
"I like him." Trance beamed at Richie.
"On that recommendation alone," Dylan replied, "I would be willing to grant you the benefit of the doubt. I trust your intentions are not hostile to this ship or anyone on board?"
"No, Sir," Richie replied, wriggling to a more alert position on the hard metal bed.
“Then, welcome aboard. I'll have to think more about how we'll orient you to your new reality and surroundings, but in the meantime, Mr. Harper will take you to the Machine Shop."
"Do I have to call you Sir?"" Richie asked as he stood up.
"It's either Dylan, Captain or Sir," Dylan said. "Why can't be people understand and follow basic military protocol.
"Cause we're not military," Beka drawled.
"That must be it." Dylan replied. "Do you accept my offer, Mr. Ryan?"
"Yes!" I mean, Yes, sir," Richie replied.
"Excellent," Dylan smiled. "Everyone clear out of here, and give Trance time to clean up. If anyone needs me I'll be in my quarters. Beka you have helm."
"Come on," Harper grinned, tugging at the taller young man's sleeve. "I want to go over this machine of yours and you're the best person to help me."
"Sounds good to me, " Riche replied.
Meanwhile, outside in the corridor, Methos leaned up against the metal door that stood ajar and eavesdropped on the conversation. Methos was astounded and pleased at the enormous size and sheer deadly elegance of the ship. Methos tried not to let it show. Methos assumed he succeeded for Hunt had given a very quick tour then Dylan had left Methos alone in crew quarters and departed immediately after for the Medical Bay telling he would be back and then he would be given a proper shakedown and medical exam.
As worrisome as that was, it was doubled so when he the early warning sign that all Immortals shared kicked in. Highly unlikely to find another Immortal here, but it's worth checking out," Methos said aloud and darted into the corridors to track down the source of the buzz.
"Bloody hell, its Macleod's protégé, that Ryan kid. What is 'he’ doing here? I'd like to find out more about this wrinkle before I act on anything. I just hope Richie has the smarts enough not to allow that mouth of his to get us both in trouble before I'm ready."
It was that instant that the fine dark hairs at the base of his neck tinkling, a warning of more conventional danger. A big man loomed up behind him, muscled dark hair coiled in dread-locks and with one yank of a strong hand, hurled Methos away from the door to the medical bay and across the corridor where his slide came to a halt by a metal bulkhead.
"Spy! I know Dylan had poor taste when it came to picking up strays, but this is absurd. Give me one excellent reason why I should not kill you where you stand." He almost purred the threat, instead of shouting, and
Methos came to the rapid conclusion that subtle nuances were more intimidating than a shout would be.
Methos ran his options through his mind and that sometimes he brazen through this confrontation instead of fighting. He was here, after all at Captain Hunt's invitation.
"I'm not a spy," and you don't have to kill me," Methos grinned. "The name is Methos. Nice to make your acquaintance."
"Tyr Anasazi", the other man said," Give me one excellent reason why I should not kill you where you stand."
"I am here, at the gracious invitation of your Captain Hunt."
Methos thought, with cynical, detached amusement that in the 'old days ' during the height of the Prohibition, Tyr would have been called 'a human stealth bomber, or something more animalistic, perhaps a panther.
Methos's mind scanned through all the possibilities and determined 'definite threat, borderline paranoid, and a valuable resource to exploit. In the silence of his mind ''I don't trust this Tyr, Anasazi for an instant.' While
this flashed through his mind Methos smiled, a narrow thinning of his lips. "Come again."
"Given the hovering you have been occupied in ever since his arrival I assumed you were his father," Tyr replied.
"You're mistaken," Methos griped. "The kid doesn't have a father. And the closet anyone ever came to fitting that description, well let's just say it was 'complicated."
"An odd viewpoint. To most of the sentient races propagation of the species and the nurturing of children assures us of immortality into future generations."
"There are other ways," Methos mutters, scowling at just how close Tyr Anasazi's shots in the dark come close to extracting information that Methos would prefer kept hidden for the time being. It was already difficult with that purple girl medic dropping hints about his and Ryan's unusual biochemistry back in the medical lab and now this third degree. In the back of his mind, Methos had to admit if they're positions had been reverse grilling intruders on their motives and origins would only be sensible. This was getting out of hand.
"Then why are you here?" Tyr demanded.
"Hell if I know."
"Do you have children?" You have prior knowledge of the Neitchanzan race?'
"No, should I?" Methos replied.
"Fascinating," Tyr said. "You are fortunate. I have been ordered to 'to teach you and your 'son' that you have renounced responsibility for, to 'follow the ropes."
Methos shrugged. "Fine by me." But I ask you, if our positions were reversed would you be crazy enough to take on the job?"
"So! Beka Valentine pounced on Tyr the second they were alone in the corridor out of earshot of the others.
"So what do you think?"
"Of your outfit, flattering but a little risqué." Tyr eyed the blond human female's ensemble, extremely form-fitting, snug in all the right places; a black short sleeve shirt covered by a silver wire mesh, that covered everything but was so sheer it left very little to the imagination. Attractive and a worthy female except for one drawback: She was not a Nietzchean female.
"Not the damn outfit. Beka yelled, tearing at strands of her blond hair. "You can be infuriatingly dense but only when it suits you. What do you think of the two strays Dyaln picked up?"
"They originate from Old Earth, obviously someone' escaped slaves, If so, they their masters might come looking for them." Tyr replied, folding his arms across his massive chest. "They're human flotsam. Our good captain seems quite fond of picking up strays."
"Watch it," Beka sneered, "Or you counting myself and my crew among the 'strays?"
Beka, impatient, reckless and fearless stood tapping her booted foot against the metal floor of the corridor. Tyr shook his head," I for one believe that our new crew members are not telling us everything they know."
"Knowledge is power," Beka smirked, "Care to tell me how you came to that conclusion? Spill it. Inquiring minds want to know."
"Not enough for the moment, but I can tell that they're hiding something, both the older and the younger. As our friend Trance would say, 'they have 'old souls,'. And I mean to discover what she meant about their unusually high levels of Electro chemistry."
"Chemistry? I excelled at chemistry. Can I help?" Beka asked. "So we watch them and then we pounce."
"Indeed," Tyr allowed a small grin to slip out. "We should return to the helm, Trance is not yet well versed in piloting in the slip stream."