Title: Guardians of Earth
Author: Saydria Wolfe
Fandom: Star Trek AOS, Highlander
Genre: Canon Divergence, Episode Related (Star Trek 2009)
Warnings: Canon Level Violence (Highlander, not Star Trek)
Author’s Notes: So the idea of changing one thing in canon and seeing what happens? I added in Highlander-type Immortals. Of course, to have that make any difference, the Immortals had to be known. To prevent a lot of the issues that humanity faced with the reality of immortal beings and all the jealousy and ugly things that would make happen, Immortals ended up becoming something rather like Sentinels. I think the results are pretty interesting.
Challenge: Just Write Trope Bingo Card 2, Square: Canon Divergence
Beta: PN Ztivokreb
Word Count: 5,144
Summary: Star Trek AOS—now with Immortals.
“I need officers with advanced combat training,” Captain Pike said to the bridge.
“Sir,” Sulu answered, one hand raised.
“Sir,” a darker, huskier voice said. When Jim turned to look at the source, he found the man at the Tactical station wearing a shoulder harness carrying two swords.
Only one being in the entire Federation wore such a harness and that was the unendingly-long lived variation of human known formally as Guardians, colloquially as Immortals. And even Immortals only wore their harnesses very rarely—most of the time they lived their lives as any other human did, their secret guarded by the highest levels of Federation Security.
When they did wear their harnesses, it was a show of force, a promise of protection that had comforted humanity since Immortals had stepped forward to end the Eugenics War.
“Mr. Franklin,” Captain Pike nodded at him. “How many of your people are on board?”
“Three,” Mr. Franklin answered immediately. Then he tipped his head. “Four, but the fourth has not met his first decade. His combat training has not yet begun.”
Jim assumed that meant the youngest one had not met his first decade since his first death, not that they had a person nine year-old or younger on board. Starfleet had fairly strong rules against minors on spaceships outside of very limited circumstances.
“Mr. Spock, Mr. Sulu, with us. Kirk, too. You’re not supposed to be here anyway.
“Mr. Chekov, you have the con.
“Mr. Franklin, are any of your people technically proficient with advanced machinery?” Pike asked as he led them off the bridge into the turbolift.
“Mr. Brooks is one of my kind and Chief Olson’s second.”
That was convenient, Jim blinked.
“Captain Pike to Engineer Brooks,” Pike called.
“Brooks here,” a voice Jim didn’t recognize answered.
“Mr. Brooks, I want you to meet us in the gear room just off shuttle bay eight immediately.”
“Understood, sir,” the man agreed. “Brooks out.”
“Mr. Spock, I’m leaving you in charge of the Enterprise. Mr. Kirk, I’m promoting you to First Officer. Mr. Franklin, you’re third in line. If anything happens to these two yahoos, I expect you to keep the ship in one piece by any means necessary.”
Jim clenched his jaw to keep it shut as the Vulcan accused Captain Pike of pulling a joke on him. For once, he agreed with the pointy eared bastard.
This was going to be a rough one.
“Oh, hello,” a gentle, calm female voice somehow carried across his chaotic med bay and brought everything to a stop.
McCoy looked up to see Acting Captain Spock walking towards him with a human woman on his arm. Her eyes were a kinder version of Spock’s own—or, rather, he had a Vulcanized version of her eyes—which marked her as Dr. Amanda Grayson, wife of Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan. Behind them came the Ambassador himself and behind them were a half dozen of the oldest Vulcans Len had ever seen.
Behind them came Jim and three others wearing orbital dive suits. His ears filled with an almost indescribable noise that crawled down Len’s neck and frosted his back. Two of them—the two in the back—were Immortals, too.
“Injuries?” he demanded of Spock when he was close enough.
“Unknown,” Spock answered. “None for myself.”
Amanda Grayson smiled. “He did not injure himself that I witnessed, Dr…?”
“McCoy, Dr. Grayson. Please be seated on a biobed, a nurse will be right with you.
“Spock, Jim,” Len gestured at the divers. “My office.”
“Dr. McCoy, this is unnecessary—” Spock tried as they followed him into his office.
“Every time someone leaves the ship on active duty—particularly during a combat situation—they get a medical exam upon return, Mr. Spock, that’s protocol,” he told the hobgoblin. “I know you know that.
“Taking today’s events into account,” he picked up a tricorder. “I will settle for a scan for now with non-emergency treatment delayed until the crisis has passed but you will remain still and allow me to run my scan and should I find nothing dire I will release you for duty immediately. Got it?”
Just for that, McCoy started on the last man in the room. His electronic ID marked him as an engineer, Reagan Brooks. Len knew he was an immortal, but no one appeared to have exigent issues and starting with Brooks would allow him to release Spock last.
“What’s next?” Mr. Brooks asked after Len moved on to the other immortal, Commander Edward Franklin.
“Captain Pike said to rescue him after we disabled the drill,” Jim said before anyone else could.
“That is illogical,” Spock protested. “Captain Pike would not put the fate of this ship and her crew at stake for himself.”
“Captain Pike ordered us to rescue him,” Mr. Franklin seconded Jim. “After he named Mr. Kirk First Officer and placed myself third in line. You must have heard him as he hadn’t dismissed you back to the Bridge at that time.”
Mr. Sulu was still nodding silently when Len moved on to him.
Len grabbed a light regen strap for the abrasion he could see on Mr. Sulu’s wrist.
“We have to follow them,” Jim insisted. “We cannot allow another Federation planet to be destroyed.”
“We do not know where they went,” Spock objected.
“Earth,” Franklin announced. “We can verify that once we reach the Bridge but, in his transmission, Nero was clearly fixated on you, Mr. Spock. For whatever reason, he has a grudge against you. He destroyed one of your home worlds. Logically, he will go for the other next.”
“Why is that, anyway?” Jim asked.
“I do not know,” Spock admitted. “Our logical course of action is to join the rest of the fleet, regroup, and face Captain Nero from a position of strength.”
Len had to bite his tongue to keep from making a comment about how well that had worked the last time.
There was a knock at the door. It opened to reveal the second most experienced surgeon he had on staff—and a third Immortal on board that wasn’t him. Once the door was closed behind Dr. Adam Pierson, Franklin took a knee. Brooks wavered like he thought about it, but he locked his knees and remained standing.
“Eldest,” the two greeted in one voice.
Adam’s face was impassive, devoid of emotion—a mask of death. “The mission?”
“The drill was disabled but the planet lost,” Franklin answered. “We failed.”
“Was the mission the planet or the drill?”
“The drill, Eldest.”
“Then your mission was a success,” Adam said evenly. “Your new mission is Earth. We must protect the heart of the Federation at all costs.”
Adam turned away and Franklin stood.
“We are not returning to Earth,” Spock objected before Adam opened the door. “We will join with the rest of the fleet in the Laurentian System and return to face Captain Nero en masse. We cannot defeat him alone.”
Death’s face turned back to focus on Spock. “What cannot be taken by force will be taken by subterfuge. Joining the fleet is counterproductive for subtlety.”
“He’s right,” Jim agreed and Len really wished he hadn’t. God knew the Vulcan would not do anything Jim endorsed out of spite for that stupid test he had hacked. “We warp into Sol, come out of warp behind Jupiter, sneak on board, take out the crew and control the ship. Clearly, we have the force to take it. Not even Romulans can stand in front of a force of pissed off Guardians.”
Len blinked, surprised to hear Jim of all people use the official, polite term for immortals. He knew Jim had had an encounter with…Guardians when he was young, but Len hadn’t thought it was the kind that ended with Jim respecting them.
“Jim, I need to wrap those ribs before you go anywhere,” Len told him as he sent a message to his Head Nurse Chapel. “Go crawl on a biobed and give the Captain some privacy.”
Jim gave him a confused smile but nodded. “Sure thing, Bones.”
Once they were all gone, Len started scanning the half-Vulcan. “Have you considered taking yourself off duty because of your emotional state?”
“I am a Vulcan,” Captain Spock said hotly. “I cannot be emotionally compromised.”
“You went down to a planet that you knew had a singularity forming within it rather than logically choosing to remain on board to watch over the children making up your command crew,” Len tried but Spock said nothing. “Your mom almost died, Spock. Your father almost died. You almost died. Your home planet looks like a cookie a child took a bite out of and your entire species is in danger of extinction. There’s no way you’re not compromised.”
Spock ignored that argument too. “It would be irresponsible to leave the ship with neither experienced First Officer nor Captain.”
“Okay, that’s bullshit.” Len huffed. “I’ll grant you Jim would not be an experienced Captain but that other guy, the one that will become First Officer if you step down, is.”
The captain just raised an eyebrow.
“If you can’t recognize Balthazar Edison when he’s standing in front of you, you need to brush up on your pre-Federation Starfleet history. He is an experienced heavy combat asset to the bone. The kind of man that our society just doesn’t make anymore.”
“Then he should be captain,” Spock frowned.
“I agree, but the Guardian Regulations forbid immortals over a hundred years old from taking leadership roles in Starfleet outside of extreme disasters in which the Guardian Directive takes precedence. The First Life rule is probably why Pike assigned the three of you as he did, in case something terrible happened to Vulcan.
“Though, it could be argued that the damage done to Vulcan falls under the Guardian Directive.”
Spock blinked. “You mean to say the Guardians onboard will mutiny.”
“I mean to say that you—all of your people, including your mother—have had a traumatic experience today. One that goes beyond anything anyone ever could have imagined. Taking the time you need to deal with it mentally is wise and the sign of a good leader.
“Let other hands take this load, Captain.”
“I…” Spock hesitated, his eyes going distant.
Len bit the inside of his lip to keep the do it or else behind his teeth. The CMO forcibly putting the man on medical leave in the middle of a crisis would ruin his career but the captain recognizing his limits and putting himself on leave would be considered praiseworthy.
“I am no longer fit for duty,” Spock said softly and, even though he felt it was the right thing for him to do, Len’s heart broke for the half-Vulcan. “I hereby relinquish my command based on the fact that I have been emotionally compromised.” Spock finally looked at him. “Please note the date and time in the ship’s log.”
Len nodded and made the note. “Very well.
“If I can be so bold, Mr. Spock, right now I rather want my mother, too.”
Spock nodded and stood. “Am I well?”
“You are cleared to sit your butt at your mother’s bedside, sir,” Len agreed. “Doctor’s orders.”
Spock said nothing as he led the way out of the on-duty doctor’s office. Len broke off from Spock once he sat near his mother and joined the other immortals, Jim, and Mr. Sulu.
“Captain,” he said to Jim. “It is my duty to inform you that Mr. Spock has taken himself off duty and relinquished command. The Enterprise is yours.”
Jim looked at him with wide eyes but nodded. “Thank you, Bones.”
“Orders, sir?” Commander Franklin asked.
“Return to the Bridge, verify what we can of where Nero and his people have gone and start working on a plan to take Nero’s ship.”
“Sir,” Franklin nodded and left.
Brooks nodded and left with him.
“Pierson has to stay here, Jim,” Len said. He pushed up Jim’s shirt and made him hold it so he could begin to wrap his ribs.
Jim blinked at him.
“The primary MedBay was lost in the first encounter,” Len explained. “Along with half my staff. I need every doctor I can get—here and doing their jobs.”
“Okay, Bones,” Jim agreed softly. “Honestly, those two had the guards on the drill dead and the charges set before I’d even finished landing. If they can’t handle Nero’s crew, I don’t know what could.”
Len almost pointed out that Adam being the Eldest made him the best fighter of the l�t…but he didn’t actually have the data to back that up and he knew nothing personally about the Game Guardians had all been part of for the majority of human history. Maybe Adam had just been a very good cheater and not a combat specialist like Commander Franklin.
Jim eyed him speculatively. “Do you know who the fourth Guardian onboard is?”
Len huffed. Jim really was too smart for his own good. “Yeah, Jim, I know.”
Jim nodded and accepted that statement rather than ask the sensible follow up questions.
“Alright, you’re clear but be careful of those ribs, Jim, I mean it. And I expect you down here for treatment the moment Nero is dead or captured, you got it?”
“Sure, Bones.” Jim let his shirt drop and slid slowly off the biobed in a show of caution. “Coming?”
Len cast a glance over his MedBay, everything was under control, so he nodded. “Yeah, someone’s gotta make sure we can survive whatever plan you infants come up with. God help me.”
“One little problem,” Len pointed out peevishly. “What is the distance between Saturn and Earth?”
“Approximately 1,335 million kilometers,” the humanoid computer that used to be First Officer and then Acting Captain Spock answered immediately.
“And what is the maximum range of transportation beam, Mr. Spock?”
The Vulcan hesitated. “Forty thousand kilometers.”
“That’s a little bit less than the distance our boarding party will need to travel,” Len said, his voice dripping with irony. “If we pop into range to beam them over, its rather counter to the entire plan of remaining invisible by dropping out of warp behind Titan, don’t you think? How do you expect to make up the difference?”
“Transwarp Beaming,” Mr. Chekov answered.
“Trans what what, now?” Len asked.
“Transwarp Beaming is a theory postulated by Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott of Starfleet,” Chekov said, all over cheerful. Like a little puppy. “I have been working on the math on his theory in my spare time and I believe with perhaps a brief consultation we can make the technique work together.”
“Computer, where is Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott?” Jim asked before anyone could argue it one way or the other.
“Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott is stationed at Starfleet Outpost Delta Vega,” the ship answered.
“Lieutenant Uhura, hail Outpost Delta Vega and request Lieutenant Commander Scott prepare to beam aboard. Once we have him, Chekov, begin your consult and be prepared to beam the landing party onboard the enemy vessel. Sulu, plot the course to get us on station behind Titan and be prepared to punch it on my mark.”
“On it, Captain.” “Of course, Captain.” “Immediately, Captain.” All three junior officers agreed and focused on their posts.
Len sighed. “The only question I have left is who is going.”
“Brooks and I are uniquely suited to this mission,” Commander Franklin immediately volunteered.
“Vulcans and Romulans share a common ancestry,” Mr. Spock objected. “Our cultural similarities will make it easier for me to access the ship’s computer and locate the mission objectives.”
“Vulcans don’t take lives,” Mr. Brooks interjected. “Humans aren’t particularly suited to it either. Guardians are suited to this duty—we’ve been taking lives in defense of the Earth for centuries.”
“It’s what we’re for,” Franklin agreed.
“And it’s what you’ll do,” Jim agreed. “Do either of you speak or read Romulan?”
Brooks and Franklin looked at each other and then shook their heads.
“In that case, the four of us will beam over there. You two will focus on disabling the crew and taking control of the ship as quickly as possible. Once everything is secure, you will call for Lieutenant Uhura to join you. The three of you will maintain control of the ship.
“While you’re doing that, I will locate Captain Pike and return him to the Enterprise for medical treatment. Spock, you’ll find the blackhole device and secure it by any means necessary. Understood?”
“Yes, Captain,” they agreed.
“Captain,” Uhura called. “Commander Scott will be beamed up to Transport Room Three in the next two minutes.”
Jim stood. “Let’s go, Chekov, Spock. Mr. Sulu, you have the conn.”
“Mr. Sulu, we’ll contact you when we’re ready for support,” Jim ordered over the comm.
“Good luck, captain,” Sulu said in return.
Jim turned to the beaming pad.
Reagan Brooks had pulled a woven leather and chainmail jerkin over his red shirt. He’d also replaced his second sword with an axe and added a shield to the back of his harness.
Edward Franklin had removed his red shirt completely and added a layer of—if Jim was not mistaken—MACO full body assault armor over his blacks.
Like him, Spock was unarmored and bearing only a phaser. It made him feel somewhat underdressed for the occasion, but he also knew that both men were only dressed as they were because they were out of the Guardian closet.
And because they intended to keep him and Spock between them.
Jim wasn’t fooled by them. Brooks might try and play himself as uncaring, but Franklin was clearly just as protective as any Guardian Jim had ever met—including Bones, first and foremost.
“Alright then,” their new Chief Engineer Scott—Olson had lost an eye and been taken permanently off duty by Bones twenty minutes ago—said bracingly. “If there is an ounce of common sense in whoever designed the enemy’s ship, I should be putting you down on the Bridge. Be ready, we can’t be sure how long the surprise will last.”
Jim heard steel leaving sheathes behind him and pulled his phaser, setting it to stun. He’d been in barfights before, not a war. He didn’t want to be caught by surprise and kill anyone on his side by accident.
“Energize,” Jim ordered.
“In three, two, one—”
When the light cleared, they were alone…in a cargo bay.
“Spock,” Jim ordered, pointing to the dimly lit screen he could see on a wall nearby.
“Sir,” Spock agreed as he moved off. Mr. Brooks went with him.
“Look at the stardate,” Brooks said after a few minutes of studying his own screen.
Jim moved over to take a peek.
After he translated it from the Romulan Imperial Stardate to the Federation Standard Stardate, it was set almost a hundred and fifty-five years in the future. If he subtracted the twenty-five years since this exact ship murdered his father…
“They are from the future,” he realized. “Spock, you were correct.”
“A hundred and thirty years in the future,” Mr. Brooks agreed.
“Does that mean we will have to deal with this problem again?” Mr. Franklin growled.
“Not if we get the information we need to prevent whatever caused this,” Brooks said. Then he pulled a face. “We’ll need to take at least one alive.”
Jim did his best to ignore the disappointment in the Guardian’s tone.
“We are on the same level as the Bridge,” Spock told them. “But it is on the opposite side of the ship. Captain Pike is down three levels in a room near the brig. And there is a ship called the Jellyfish that indicates it is a captured ship manufactured by the Vulcan Science Academy.”
“The blackhole device,” Jim guessed.
“That was my conclusion as well, Captain.”
“Bridge first,” Jim decided. “After we get the ship secured and under our control, we’ll move on to the secondary objectives.”
“Aye, sir,” both Guardians agreed.
“Spock, lead the way.”
Despite the fact that he was wearing chainmail, Brooks was the quietest of them all. He was also the best at hearing patrols in the corridors—even better than Spock—he stopped them three times and ambushed patrols before they could be caught and alarms could go up.
“How many in the crew, did you say?” Brooks asked as he cleaned off his sword again—though Jim was certain Spock hadn’t said.
“Twenty-four plus Captain Nero,” Spock said regardless. “Twenty-five total.”
“Nineteen to go, then.” And off they went.
When they made it to the Bridge, things got weird. Every time the Guardians took down a Romulan, they called out a number.
“Seven!” came from Franklin.
“Eight!” from Brooks.
All the way up to when Brooks called out “Sixteen!” as he separated a Romulan’s head from his shoulder with an axe.
Jim didn’t want to look too closely at the sheer amount of blood the Guardians had spilled in the time it took him and Spock to stun four Romulans.
Spock melded with one of the unconscious prisoners and after a few moments stood. He hit a single button and focused on Jim. “Emergency Mechanical Override for the drill is active. Transporter and communication capabilities should be back online.”
Jim threw transport beacons on the four stunned Romulans and tried to call Scotty. The signal got through. “Mr. Scott, four for transport. Separate containment cells, please.”
When the light cleared, the four prisoners were gone and Uhura was in their place.
“Lieutenant, get that drill back in this ship and move us out to a safe distance from Earth. Mr. Franklin and Mr. Brooks, whatever personnel they have left will most likely make its way here when we start moving off. I don’t want a single hair on her head damaged.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Spock,” Jim called as he left the Bridge with his phaser still in hand.
They walked in step to the turbolift. Jim got off on the brig level while Spock continued down to the hangar deck.
Jim switched his phaser to kill as he took out the one guard left behind to watch over Pike.
“What are you doing here?” Pike demanded as Jim started to pull the straps off of him.
“Just following orders,” Jim grinned.
Then Pike proved he was a total badass. He pulled the phaser right off his belt and shot a second guard dead.
“Twenty-four accounted for,” Jim told the rest of his party as he pulled Pike to his feet. “Enterprise, energize and have emergency medical on site for Captain Pike.”
Something occurred to Jim, but he couldn’t do anything about it until he was back in one piece on the Enterprise and Bones had taken Pike from him.
“Anyone seen Nero yet?” He asked as soon as he could.
“I have not, sir.”
“Spock!” He shouted. “What happened?”
“Hello, Captain Kirk,” the man that killed his father purred over the comm. Jim turned and ran for the Bridge.
“Sir, the Jellyfish has taking off!” Brooks shouted over the comm.
“Nero,” Jim managed to growl.
“I’ve got your dear Commander Spock.” Nero confirmed gloatingly. “I’ve got one more thing to do before I can spend the next week murdering him.”
“He’s headed for the sun!” Franklin said and the Narada launched forward and gave chase.
“No,” Uhura came over the comm, focused and cold as ice. “There’s a grav beam for sample retrieval. Over there. Point it at him and we can drag him out of here.”
“On it,” Brooks confirmed.
“I’ve plotted a course for an uninhabited system,” Franklin stepped in. “Can you program it?”
“You got it,” Uhura agreed.
“Mr. Sulu, be ready to follow them,” Jim ordered. “Mr. Scott, try to get a lock on Spock. The second you can, I want you to beam him to safety.”
As he watched the Narada caught the Jellyfish and warped away.
“Warp in three, two, one.” Sulu punched it and they leapt forward. The trip was brief. The dropped out of warp almost immediately.
“I have a lock on Commander Spock!” Scotty cried.
“Bring him home, Mr. Scott,” Jim ordered.
“Kirk!” Nero shouted over the comm. The Jellyfish abruptly turned, giving up on escape and instead sprinting for the Narada on a collision course.
“I’ve got them, sir. I’ve got them!”
The Jellyfish hit the Narada and the lightning storm that had haunted his nightmares since he had learned about it sprang up to eat his father’s killer, ship and all.
In short order, he was joined on the Bridge by a rough-looking Spock, ruffled Uhura, and a pair of bloody Guardians.
“Fire everything, Mr. Sulu. Let’s not have this problem again, shall we?”
“Nurse, remind me to wrangle our away teams for thorough physicals as soon as possible,” Bones called out as he helped the medic settle Captain Pike onto the hovering stretcher.
“Yes, doctor!” Chapel agreed as she kept the tricorder on Pike, focusing on his vitals to make sure he remained stable on the trip to the infirmary.
“My spine,” Chris gasped. “Centaurian slug.”
“We’re going straight to surgery, Chris,” Len promised the captain. “We’ll get it out of you.”
“Will I be able to walk?” Chris asked, near tears with the pain.
“I’ll do my best,” Len swore.
Adam was waiting for them before they could push right off into surgery.
“Chris,” Adam said urgently. “If I could ensure you would walk again the next time you wake up, do you trust me to do it?”
Adam pulled out an archaic steel scalpel and shoved it between two of Chris’s ribs and into his heart. Chris gasped in shock and died in short order.
“Adam!” Len objected furiously.
“Stop!” Adam ordered. “I know he’s going to wake up. You know he’s going to wake up. We cannot allow him to go into eternity crippled in any way. We need to get that thing out of him so his body can fix the damage and wake him up. Do you want to do it or shall I?”
“It’s my job, I’ll do it,” Len growled.
Adam raised an eyebrow. “You’re CMO, not a pathologist.”
“I said, I’ve got this.” Len huffed and took hold of the stretcher. “Don’t kill anyone else while I’m in surgery. They won’t come back like Pike will.”
Len had no idea how he ended up in such a cockamamie situation.
Christopher Pike had woken up two days ago, Adam had called a meeting of their Gathering, and for some reason, Len had actually agreed to come.
“We need to discuss the things we do not tell Starfleet or anyone else outside of the Guardian Office,” Adam explained to them once they were all together.
“Reasonable,” Chris agreed. Len just nodded.
“First are our true names—or as close as we can get to them due to age. Mine is Methos Tyrantsbane, I am the Eldest.”
“He you know as Reagan Brooks is Ragnar Odinson.”
Reagan made a noise of disagreement. “Ragnar Steeltide.”
“I earned it,” Ragnar interrupted. “I stood that day with you and Duncan Swordsworn against the Augments. I earned it.”
Adam rolled his eyes.
Edward Franklin shifted on his feet and carried on, ignoring the other two. “I am Balthazar Starbourne. I am one of the few Guardians alive that…gained my Quickening while away from Earth and am considerably younger than those two. I haven’t earned a proper name yet.”
“That makes me Christopher Starbourne?” Captain Pike guessed.
Edward nodded once.
Chris huffed. “Dying doesn’t even let me be the pretty brother.”
They all laughed.
“And me?” Len found himself asking.
“I would like to preface that I didn’t pick this name,” Adam hedged. “As you refused to register yourself, the Office picked one for you.”
“Let’s hear it.”
Len raised an eyebrow. Was he supposed to be offended by that? “Not bad.”
“You’ve all experienced your first death,” Adam continued. “Balthazar, have you experienced your Second Death?”
“Why does that sound like it needs to be capitalized?” Pike asked idly even as Franklin nodded.
“Because it does,” Adam assured him. “The human body adjusts to carrying a Quickening easily. The human mind, however, is a different matter. The human mind is just not designed for eternity. It is typical that within fifty to a hundred years of their first death, an Immortal’s mental health will plummet into suicide.”
“It’s very rare that a young Immortal will permanently kill themselves,” Reagan interjected. “Part of the duties of a Mentor during the Age of the Game was to make sure the fledgling didn’t do permanent harm to themselves with their second death.”
“It is still part of the mentor’s duties now,” Adam took over again. “As well as physical fitness and combat readiness of their charge. It’s not an immediate concern but you could be called upon—officially or through dumb luck—to fulfill the duties of a Guardian at any time once you reach a hundred years old.
“To that end, Ragnar, is your student prepared to take on the duties of a mentor, to bring the young of our kind into the fullness of true life.”
“Balthazar, I believe you would be the ideal mentor for Christopher. You have both been Starfleet Captains and you are very much the same type of Immortal—very come and take it sort of men—neither of you yield to anyone.”
“I am honored, Eldest,” Franklin agreed.
Adam raised an eyebrow at Chris who just nodded.
“Leonard, I believe you and I would be the best fit for you when it comes to a mentor/mentee relationship.” Reagan hissed in shock, but Adam ignored him. “I am not as peaceable as you are but I end my fights as quickly as possible by any means necessary—including faking my death and…cheating, I suppose you could call it. I am a doctor, as well.”
“Why did that need a hiss?” Leonard asked Reagan.
“He’s the Eldest,” Reagan answered simply.
Len rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know. That’s why he’s running this show.”
“No,” Franklin interrupted firmly. “He is not the Eldest of our Gathering. He is the Eldest, no qualifying statement.”
Reagan nodded quickly. “When I met him, he was Methos the Five-Thousand-Year-Old Man. That was nearly two thousand years ago. Nearly every Immortal that survived the Game was either trained by him or trained by one of his students.”
“That’s why you knelt?” Len asked Franklin.
Franklin blushed a little. “He is a legend…and in some ways my grandfather—my mentor’s mentor. Before my First Death, it was my family’s standard to kneel to the patriarch upon first meeting or after a long time away.
“What say you, Leonard,” Adam asked. “Will I be your mentor?”
“Goddammit,” Len huffed and tried to pretend they didn’t all know that was a yes.
Back to Card 2.