BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

BRIGLAD

Undying - Chapter 3
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Duncan begins Zoe's training. Also the crew learns more about their guest and later, River and Zoe meet some very old friends of McLeod's.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1846    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. They all belong to their respective creators. I'm just playing with them a bit.

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I've been fighting off this plot bunny for some time now and I finally lost and wrote this. The sow I loved the most before I discovered Firefly was Highlander. So I guess this crossover was inevitable.

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A Crossover between Firefly and Highlander: The Series. Ignores the events of Highlander: The Source. Post BDM in the Firefly 'Verse.

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Undying

-

Chapter Three

-

Zoë had fallen asleep in the pilot's chair. She had slept there before of course. Many times in fact. Ever since Wash had died.

Usually she awoke stiff and sore. Not this morning. Zoë's neck didn't ache like it normally did, “Another benefit of bein... immortal, I reckon,” she muttered out loud.

Rising from the chair, Zoë wandered into the galley. She found River sitting at the table, polishing the sword she had picked up a few months before on Boros.

“Thinkin o' takin over as First Mate, Mei-mei?”

River grinned, “Loaning it to you... to practice with Duncan.”

Zoë nodded and sat down at the table. She noticed that there were two mugs in front of the young pilot. River slid one across to Zoë, “You might need this.”

Zoë inhaled the aroma wafting from the mug. They usually didn't have real coffee but they had splurged on some real beans a few months back. Kaylee had rigged up a roaster in the engine room.

“Thanks,” Zoë muttered after her first sip, “For the sword too.”

“Needed,” was all that River said.

“Who's turn to make breakfast?” Zoë asked.

“Ge-ge” River grinned.

Zoë's dark complexion actually paled, “Ugh...”

“If you would like...”

“Please,” Zoë replied with a grin.

Smiling, River got to her feet and began gathering ingredients for the morning meal. Like anything else she did. River was an excellent cook. Unlike her brother.

“What is Mr. Macleod up to this morning?” Zoë asked.

River cocked her head slightly and grinned, “Reuniting with family...”

XXXXXXXXXXX

“Wanna say that again?” Mal mumbled through his wired shut jaw.

“I'm immortal, Mal,” Duncan replied.

“Gun-hoe-tze-bee-dio-se...” Mal replied. Wishing his mouth could open in shock.

“I'm sorry I couldn't have told you that, back on Shadow.”

Mal looked like he was going to have some kind of fit, “And you're telling me this now, because?”

“Because you've seen me again and I still look thirty. And because Zoë is now like me.”

“Shenme?”

“Zoë was killed last night... at the party.”

Mal snorted, “She seemed right chipper for a dead woman last night.”

“It was her first death.”

Mal just looked confused. Duncan continued, “All potential Immortals age normally until they meet a violent death. At that time, their immortality manifests itself. From that day on, they will no longer age. And they only way they can truly die is to loose their head.”

“Head?” Mal asked, wide eyed.

Duncan nodded, “And all immortals when challenged by another must fight to the death using a sword. The victor then undergoes a 'Quickening'. Absorbing the looser's life force and power.”

“Why?”

“Because in the end. There can be only one. The last immortal left will then become mortal. Live to a ripe old age and then die. The winner will then also be able to have children.”

“Would that explain why Wash and I couldn't get pregnant?” Zoë said from the doorway.

Duncan nodded and turned to face her, “All potentials and Immortals are sterile.”

“Tian xiaode...” Zoë whispered.

“How long you been around, Mac?” Mal asked.

“Nearly a millennium.”

“Wode-tian,” Mal muttered.

“How many of us... are there?” Zoë asked.

“Hard to tell. Only about ninety of us made the migration from Earth. New Immortals are fairly rare. There's perhaps been two hundred born since the exodus.”

“Like Wing,” Zoë said.

“Yes.”

“Wing?” Mal asked.

Seems he's one too, Sir.”

“So I couldn't a killed him in that little sword fight...” Mal trailed off.

“You fought him?” Duncan asked, slightly shocked.

Mal nodded while Zoë explained, “Wing hired Inara as a Companion a couple o' years back. Mal was at the same shindig lining up a job. Wing disrespected Inara and Mal slugged him. Wing then challenged Mal to a duel.”

Duncan sighed and rubbed his face, “And you lived through that?”

“Barely,” Mal mumbled.

“Wing has got to go. We're not supposed to dual mortals.”

“Like I said... Wing's mine,” Zoë nearly growled.

Duncan nodded, “Then we better get started on your training.”

XXXXXXXXXX

Only under Inara's supervision did Simon allow Mal out of the infirmary. Painfully, the Captain had taken a seat on Jayne's weight bench to watch.

Zoë stood a bit uncertainly. The sword in her hands looking foreign. Beside the First Mate, River stood as well. Holding one of Inara's fencing foils. Duncan held the other.

“Fencing is a good start,” Duncan began, “But between immortals, the rules are simple. Kill or be killed.”

“So hittin and the like is allowed?” Zoë asked.

“Yes,” Duncan replied, “But no firearms.”

“Darn...” Zoë mumbled.

Duncan smiled, “Are you familiar with bayonet tactics?”

Zoë rolled her eyes, “I was in the infantry...”

“That makes it a littler easier,” Duncan replied, “The blocks and parrys are similar. But done one or two handed with the blade.”

“Shall we show her?” River asked.

Duncan nodded before River raised her foil in salute. Duncan did the same.

“Engarde...”

River feinted a lunge before dancing out of Duncan's counter. In a flash of metal, the two combatants moved back and forth across the bay. Neither gaining an advantage.

“Whu-de-ma...” Jayne muttered as the pair dueled.

After nearly ten minutes. Duncan held up his hand to stop the sparring match. Even in as good a shape as he was, the Highlander was breathing hard, “Where... did you train?”

“I fenced as a girl,” River began, “And the Academy... enhanced that. But mostly I saw what you were about to do and countered...”

Jayne let out a guffaw, “Leave it to Moony ta' cheat...”

Duncan shook his head, smiling, “No such thing as a fair fight when your life is on the line.”

Jayne nodded, “I can get behind that.”

Duncan picked up a water bottle and drained it. River doing the same. Duncan turned to Zoë, “Take River's foil and we'll begin.”

XXXXXXXXXX

Duncan toweled off the sweat and smiled at Zoë, “You're quite good.”

Zoë nodded as she sipped some water, “Thanks...”

They had switched to swords after twenty minutes or so. Zoë had picked up the basics quickly. It was similar to using a bayonet but different. Duncan was surprised at her situational awareness.

“Not ready for Wing yet... but in a few weeks? Perhaps.”

“You're confidence is inspiring...” Zoë said back with just a smudge of sarcasm.

Duncan chuckled, “Rome wasn't built in a day.”

“You there for that?” Zoë asked.

“I'm not that old,” Duncan chuckled, “I have a friend who was there though.”

“How old is he... or she?”

“He. And he doesn't know how old he is. Said his memory got a little fuzzy after five thousand years.”

“Ai-ya...” Zoë breathed.

“Long time...”

“I reckon so,” Zoë agreed, “What was it like?”

“What was what like?”

“Earth that was?”

“It was very beautiful... Just like you are.”

Zoë scrunched up her face, “What?”

Duncan held up his hands and smiled again, “Not making a pass. Just stating the obvious.”

“Oh...”

“But if you want it to be a pass...”

“I can still shoot you, ya' know...”

Duncan chuckled, “Wouldn't be the first time.”

XXXXXXXXXX

Zoë trudged up the stairs to the foredeck. She was exhausted. The stress of the workout had burned off all she had eaten for the day and she was hungry. And smelly. After stopping in her bunk, she grabbed a towel and headed for the crew shower off the forward stairwell.

After a lukewarm cleansing, she redressed. Zoë's mind began to replay her training session with McLeod. She had to admit he was mighty suai. That said, the man was near on a thousand years old.

Zoë shook her head as she sat to pull on her boots. Nearly ten centuries. How many friends, enemies and lovers had McLeod buried over that time? A bunch she figured. How did you go on? Zoë wondered. Loving someone and then watching them wither and grow old while you didn't.

She tried to wrap her head around the concept. Kaylee's com call that supper was ready shook the First Mate from her musing.

XXXXXXXXXX

The crew gathered around the table and dug into the last of the fresh food. They were due to land in a day or so and they could restock.

“What about you, Duncan?” Simon began, “You must have done many things over the years.”

“A few,” McLeod replied.

“Like what?” Kaylee asked with her ever present smile.

“Lets see. I've been a martial arts instructor. I've owned a few museums and antiques stores. I was a newspaper editor. Taught history. I've also been a soldier...”

“Which armies?” Jayne asked.

“Fought with Bonnie King Charlie in Scotland against the British. Fought in the Napoleonic wars. The US Civil war. World war one and two...”

“Seen a lot then,” Mal mumbled while looking at his 'Uncle'.

“Yes.”

Zoë looked at Duncan, “How do you do it? Go on after you've buried friends and... lovers?”

Duncan looked sharply at Zoë. Realizing she wasn't being cruel. Just wondering how he had gone on.

“I live with death,” Duncan nearly whispered, “As for going on. I just put one foot in front of the other.”

The table grew quiet. Jayne decided to break the tension by making a crude remark, “Know any good women?”

“Jayne!” Kaylee exclaimed. Zoë glanced at the Mercenary and caught the slight grin and wink. He did it to break the tension. Sometimes folks. Even those that knew him, underestimated Jayne.

Duncan took the hint as well, “I've known a few. As Connor used to say. I had most of the fun and most of the good women.”

Jayne grinned and even Mal Smiled slightly, “Like who?” Inara asked. Ever the student of history.

“No one anyone of you would know...” Duncan trailed off.

Mal noticed the expression on Duncan's face and decided to change the subject, “What's out ETA, Tross?”

“Twenty two hours, eight minutes fifteen seconds to Santo. Fourteen, thirteen...”

“We get the point, Mei-mei,” Inara said, seeing the pained expression on Mal's face and the smiles on most of the others.

“Tross?” Duncan asked.

“Albatross,” River began, “I'm his.”

Duncan smiled with the recognition, “Good luck charm?”

A grumble from Jayne was silenced by a glare from Zoë. She spoke, “River and the Doc have made things a might... interesting.”

“That was before I found myself,” River said looking at her plate, “Dangerous to the crew before.”

“Before what?” Duncan asked.

“Miranda,” River replied.

XXXXXXXXXX

After a subdued supper, Duncan retired to the dorm room he had been assigned. After checking with Mal, he had connected to the cortex with his portable unit and checked in with his company.

His assistant, Robert Murasaki had things well in hand. Atherton Wing had been arrested. For assault with a deadly weapon. But without Zoë's body, there could be no other charges.

Duncan frowned. Being part of Persephone's aristocracy, Wing would never see the inside of a courtroom. Duncan was worried for Lord Harrow. He had made an enemy in Wing. One that might lash back.

Duncan instructed Robert to make an offer of extra security. On the house of course to Lord Harrow. Maybe it would be enough.

Duncan's thoughts then drifted to their destination. Santo. A smile on his face. Duncan placed another wave. One to a very old friend.

XXXXXXXXXX

River landed Serenity with her customary grace. Duncan hardly noticed the landing, it was so smooth.

It was late afternoon, ships time and late morning, local. Mal gathered everyone in the bay.

“Here's the plan,” the Captain began. Glad to have his jaw able to work again. Simon had removed the wires that morning. The bone menders having done their work. His jaw still ached but he could live with it.

Mal continued, “Kaylee, you and the Doc, get us stocked up. Food, fuel, med supplies and the like. Jayne, you're with me. See if Wilkins has anything for us...”

Zoë looked confused. She usually went with the Captain to meet Wilkins when they were on Santo, “Sir?”

“Unc... I mean, Mac said he needed to borrow you and River for a spell,” Mal replied.

“Me and River, Sir?”

“We damaged River's sword with our sparring,” Duncan began, “Mine is a real Katana. Not a cheap knockoff like hers. I need to replace it with a better one. And you need your own, Zoë.”

“Fine...” Zoë sighed.

Kaylee dropped the ramp. Inara would be remaining on board while everyone else was out. In a pinch she could fly the ship or come rescue anyone with a shuttle. Besides, Wilkins was a snake. A snake who looked at women like they were meat. He avoided provoking Zoë because the man knew she would kill him. Mal didn't want to expose Inara to the hwoon-dahn.

Duncan held out his arm to Zoë. She snorted and stalked down the ramp. With a chuckle, Duncan held out his other arm and River took it. A slight smile on her face.

They stepped down the ramp to where Zoë was waiting and the trio set off into the crowds of the port.

XXXXXXXXXX

After a short walk, Duncan, River and Zoë found themselves outside a small storefront. An eclectic looking place that simply declared itself as being Pearson's Antiques.

“An antique shop?” Zoë asked.

“Yup,” Duncan nodded. He prepared for what was coming but Zoë froze in her tracks as the Buzz of a nearby Immortal pounded into her brain.

“What the hell is that?” Zoë muttered.

“That's how we know there's another Immortal close by.”

“I felt it too,” River said.

“You did?” Duncan asked.

“From both of you... not me.”

“Oh,” Duncan replied, “Shall we?”

Opening the door, Duncan led the way in. While the owners of the store were friends, they were very cautious. The reason they had lived for as long as they had.

“Who are you and state your business,” Called out a feminine voice from behind a tall shelf.

“That any way to greet an old friend?” Duncan said with a smile on his face.

“Duncan?” said the voice again as the owner rounded the shelf. Everyone noticed the sword in her hand. She was tall. Dark haired and seemed genuinely surprised that Duncan was here.

Duncan smiled and reached out. Accepting the hug offered by the woman, “It's good to see you Cassandra.”

“Good to see you too,” She replied.

“Where's the old man?” Duncan asked.

“Out back. Playing with his toys.”

“Am not,” said a new voice.

“Methos!” Duncan called out as he gave a back slapping hug to his old friend.

“And who do we have here?” Cassandra asked as she eyed the dark skinned woman and the waif like girl who had accompanied Duncan.

“Methos, Cassandra. May I introduce, Zoë Washburn and River Tam.”

The pair of Immortals looked closely at the two women. Methos spoke first, “Washburn's new, I take it?”

“Very,” Zoë said. Speaking for the first time.

“How long?” Cassandra asked.

“Four days,” Zoë replied.

Methos chuckled, “She is fresh. I take it she needs a blade?”

“Both do. River had one she loaned Zoë but it was a knockoff. I need to replace it.”

“And why would a little thing like you need a sword?” Methos asked.

River seemed to shrink back from Methos' intense gaze, Wide eyed, she whispered, “Death on a horse...”

Methos and Casandra shared a look, “Umm...” Methos began.

River blinked and found her center again, “My apologies. I know all about you... Immortals I mean. You should know that I am a reader.”

“Reader?” Methos asked. Glancing at Cassandra.

Casandra's stern visage softened, “Oh you poor child...”

“Huh?” Zoë asked.

“Methos, go hang up the closed sign. This may take a while...” Casandra ordered.

“And you better have some beer, old man,” Duncan chuckled, “Since you owe me about a thousand cases over the years.”

-

TBC

COMMENTS

Sunday, August 29, 2010 3:02 AM

MAINEAXE


There before me was a pale horse.. its rider was death... Or Methos..And his memory gets a little fuzzy before 5000 years.. Cassandra, gifted with prophecy, has took a shine to River.. What ever does she see???
Good stuff, I like the way its unfolding a lot..

You keep em wrote and the fans will keep em read..

Yes please!!! May we have another??

Sunday, August 29, 2010 3:38 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


Very good. I like the way you are using Duncan and Zoe. I could see her as an immortal.

Sunday, August 29, 2010 3:25 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Hmm...gotta wonder about the significance of River being able to sense Immortals. Zoe, Duncan, Methos and Cassandra don't seem to be reacting to her, so she's not an Immortal...but there's gotta be something about her brain that's picking up their essences.

Awesome work once again, briglad!

Monday, August 30, 2010 9:00 AM

AMDOBELL


Really enjoying this. As an Immortal, Zoe is a natural. I am hoping we get some explanation as to how Mal and Duncan are related. With Duncan being as old as he is he can't really be Mal's uncle unless...
Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, August 30, 2010 11:47 AM

JANE0904


Great stuff. I'm with Ali that we need more info on Mal and Duncan, although it would be difficult for them to be blood related since Duncan himself is sterile, although maybe Reynolds is an offshoot of the clan Mcleod ...


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