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fic - "A Prophecy like Fish" (3/?)

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  • rodlox
    ~~ `..the jinns...made from a smokeless fire... -- the Noble Quran. ~~ THREE HUNDRED & SIXTY DAYS AGO: Methos walked through the alleyway. He d left the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2004
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      ~~
      `..the jinns...made from a smokeless fire...'

      -- the Noble Quran.
      ~~

      THREE HUNDRED & SIXTY DAYS AGO:

      Methos walked through the alleyway. He'd left the parking lot a
      while back. He supposed he could have called a cab, but he'd wanted
      to walk.

      Ironically, as much as he worked to keep fit, he didn't need to: his
      Immortality kept him in much the same shape now as he'd had five
      thousand years ago. But for him, it was a matter of self-honor, that
      and a way of keeping busy. Those who didn't keep busy, slipped up,
      and lost their chance at The Prize -- after five thousand years, he
      was proud to be still a contender.

      It'd been Talent Night at Joe's tonight, and the world's oldest
      Immortal man had been juggling. Hadn't won any prizes, aside from
      the complimentary bottle of beer. His reflexes were as good as they
      were, because he'd honed them over millenia. Most Immortals didn't
      live long enough to refine themselves to a similar degree, and
      mortals...

      Methos shook his head. Best not to consider that alleyway of thought.

      In backing out of that alley, Methos' mind found itself ducked into
      another one: one filled with memories of when he had last encountered
      Kronos and two other Horsemen. There were strange feelings in there,
      as though it had only been partly real. As though the old tricksters
      had worked with Methos without his directly realizing it.

      Could they? Of course, he told himself, it was part of their
      gift...at their age, a talent.

      A tiny dart struck at his neck, fired from the approaching van.
      Methos slipped to his knees, briefly not having control of himself.
      His body quickly neutralized the toxin. There were reasons he drank
      so much beer.

      The van parked in front of him. Its sliding side door slid open,
      disgorging troops in night-camoflage. Immortal troops, all unarmed.
      Methos could see them clearly: he'd often fought at night, and had
      lived as much by day as dark.

      But Methos played along. He'd been incapacitated often enough over
      the course of his five thousand years of life to know how to act.
      He kept his limbs limp, and let the troops pull him forwards
      roughly. The ancient man knew how to handle them, should the need
      arise.

      Meanwhiles, to see who they were working for.

      Their master was the one exiting the van; the troops might have tried
      to conceal that information, but Methos had spent millenia studying
      humanity. One could not easily trick a trickster.

      "You must be one of those Immortals," the van man said.

      "Pardon?" Methos asked, not about to beg for his pardon, literally or
      not.

      "Deny it if you want, I don't care myself."

      "If that's so, can I go now?"

      "Oh, and by the way, my name, is William Stryker. He caught a flash
      of Stryker's wrist: a fourteen-star Watcher. Alarm bells rang in the
      oldest Immortal mind. Panic set in. Lightning could dream of the
      reflexes Methos used then and there, sliding out of the grips of the
      troops, ramming them aside and turning around so he could --

      "W?" Methos asked, looking at the arrowtip that was sticking out of
      his gut; it'd slid right next to his spine in that fraction of a
      second. Turning around, Methos thought he saw an archer in the van.
      Lowering a hand, Methos touched the arrow, brought the chemical up on
      his fingertip, tasted it. South American, in part. Curare and
      something else. Something that was loosening his mind. He could
      feel his identities slipping, sliding away into the deepest depths of
      the abyss where he kept personalities. Even the mind of Death, among
      the oldest of the old, went numb.

      Blackness enveloped him.

      ~~
      PRESENT DAY:

      ON THE HIGHWAYS:

      This was the second time in her life that she'd relied on the
      kindness of truckers. The first time, long months ago within the
      year, had introduced her to the Wolverine.

      Marie watched the power lines go by, pole after pole after pole after
      pole after... Sleep overtook her.

      =She was standing on the shoreline of a lake. Nice flat ground all
      around, no plants anywhere. Aside from the lake itself, the land was
      featureless.

      =And the Earth was without form and void= Kurt's voice. =And the
      spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters

      =The thing next to her was a kitty cat...and a crocodile...and a
      hippo. It was all those things, yet it was its own thing. It was
      itself and it was others.

      =In the water, from the surface, there rose a snake's face. And a
      snake's neck, a very very long neck that tapered into the body,
      equally long if not longer.

      =They were old. Marie could feel their age in the air.

      =Without turning their heads or necks or bodies, they looked at her,
      focusing their attention on her. Marie felt but did not become very
      small indeed.

      =New= =Familiar= =You= =Us= and Marie had the feeling that there
      were other things here, just barely out of sight. In the dim half-
      light, she could only make out outlines, bright features. =Join=
      =Confederate= =Cooperate=

      =Win= though from that concept/word, Marie could feel was more
      uncertain, something that was in doubt even now.

      She woke up.

      ~~
      SEACOUVER:

      THREE HUNDRED DAYS AGO:

      "Thanks for letting me tag along," Joe said.

      "No prob." Detective Pete Harding said. His dad'd been an old friend
      of Joe Dawson's, so he didn't mind the company on this trip.

      The landlord unlocked the door to Methos' apartment. It was a mess,
      but not the sort of mess brought about by the place being ransacked.
      More of the mess from someone not being completely neat and tidy as
      they lived in a place. Joe wondered if the old guy did that
      deliberately, leaving evidence that he'd actually existed.

      "Not my weirdest tenant to date," the landlord was saying, "but he
      was realll close."

      "How so?" Detective Harding asked.

      "Well, for a while, he would bring in these statues of women, some of
      them looked like they might be marble or something. I almost called
      you guys, thought he was a museum thief.

      "And he paid for his first month's rent -- along with another five
      years' worth. Said his job might require him to be gone for a few
      months or a year or two at a time, and would I leave his flat in
      trust for him." Shaking his head, "Weird guy."

      Joe was walking around, looking at the paintings on the walls, at the
      magazines lying scattered across the floor. It was like looking at
      the mind of someone who wasn't sure who he was. Or the mind of
      someone who wasn't just one person. Joe wasn't sure which one scared
      him more.

      "You okay, Dawson?" Harding asked.

      "Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks."

      "No prob." and walked over to look through the magazines. "Hey,
      could you look at this," then remembered that Joe limped, so he took
      it over to Joe to see. "Guy seems to enjoy squiggling in National
      Geographics. There's a pile of them back on the coffee table covered
      with these marks."

      Though Joe hadn't been a desk-working researching Watcher for a
      number of years, he could still read snippets of Greek. As far as he
      could tell, Methos had written, on a picture of an aid worker in
      Afganistan -- back during the Soviet Invasion -- the
      name `KRONOS'. "Its all Greek to me," Joe joked, wondering if the
      names of other Horsemen were in the other issues.

      Then his eyes fell upon a gold-bronze coin, one inscribed with a
      name. Methos had mentioned this to him, in one of his stories. It'd
      been a gift from an Ottoman sultan. Joe pocketted it, just in case
      of...

      Joe couldn't explain it, but he didn't think Methos was dead. Gone
      to ground, maybe. But still alive. It was the gut feeling that
      combat had bred in him.

      ~~
      PRESENT DAY:

      He was the one who had joked about my kind's capacity to be both
      frigid and impotent. He was the monkey who had explained to Danael's
      pregnant choice about my kind. He had explained to the monkey
      Magdelena about how Daniyel was not entirely a monkey.

      I should correct myself: `my kind' is a misnomer. I am a different
      sort of angelic being, unlisted on any Papal chart. I have/am/will
      exist for only a moment. But that moment is a moment to myself -- it
      is a moment that passes through every space and second; I fear I am
      describing spheres and arrows to a population of dots and lines.
      Perhaps understanding may arrive one day, as it has/will/is.

      Returning to my narration...

      The doctor, the student of anatomy, had taken sabbatical. Not
      unusual, that. Unusual that he was following the description of a
      note left to him by the monkey Magdelena.

      ~~
      PRESENT DAY:

      TEMPLE OF KARNAK, EGYPT:

      It was the middle of the night, and she was walking through the
      pillars of Karnak. Some scholars had said that this temple was
      larger than the Papacy, larger than Mecca. She didn't care about
      comparisons; the time for those had come and gone. She was at peace,
      something that showed on her face.

      She had been the desert sandstorm and the sound of desert water.

      She heard the flutter of wings, and a single inversion. "Whom are
      you to disturb me?" she asked.

      "My name is Annoguel."

      "That name has not been spoken for a long time in this land."

      "I was...busy. Elsewhere, doing other things." Preparing.

      "Why are you here tonight?"

      "I have come to ask you to take sides."

      "I am Raat," she said. "I have lingered here out of curiosity. I
      have no stake in your war."

      "Everyone has a stake in the war."

      "Not I."

      "I could destroy this temple," Annoguel threatened. "The stones are
      old, and would fall."

      "And I would raise it back up again before the dawn broke," Raat said
      with a bored look. "And I would make you Fall," using the noun of
      the term. The term used on the more wicked of the angels.

      "You could not."

      "You forget that, for a time, even your Master was married."

      "Not to you."

      "True. But I know to whom. And She also grows tired of these
      antics."

      "How do you know that?"

      "Some angels listen. I do more than that."

      "What do you do? Talk to them?" with all the mockery that one would
      give to a monkey.

      "No. And I shall not tell you what I do." She sighed,
      tired. "Because, to do any of that, I would de facto be taking
      sides. And I shall not do that." She left.

      Not for the first time in his long life, Annoguel wanted to smite.
      Nothing much, just a country; that wasn't so much to ask for, was it?

      ~~
      ALKALI LAKE DURING _X2_:

      It was a moment of weakness, one half hour when the formula was
      finally wearing thin. Stryker had been overconfident just this once,
      just enough for one of the personas to emerge from the depths & to
      challenge Lyman. It was difficult, as Lyman had become entrenched;
      the biocontroller chemical gave the Lyman personality military
      defenses that would have flummoxed even Kronos for a day or two.

      Benjamin Adams was the one to rise, though he felt disoriented at
      this world that was so changed from what he knew. But everyone else
      within him was depending on him. He had to do something.

      Carefully, Adams accessed the computer. Easy enough. The rows of
      project titles shone out at him...

      Project Wide Awake

      Project Patas

      ...and more.

      Using knowledge which was in his brain, Adams double-clicked on the
      Patas icon. Information resulted, but he wasn't sure what the
      relevance was:

      The Patas was a small primate which had given up a life in the
      treetops, trading it in for an existance on the open plains of
      Africa. The creatures could, the database claimed, run as fast as a
      gazelle.

      Benjamin Adams doubted that very much.

      Then, `For further access to file, enter password'.

      "Shame shame," Stryker said as he pressed something to Adam's neck.
      Adams' grip became undone, and he rejoined Methos and the others.

      Lyman stood up, at attention. "Afternoon, sir," he said to Stryker,
      as though nothing had been happening here, nothing wrong at all.

      ~~
      MODERN ALKALI LAKE:

      Oxygen is a close cousin of Florine, which monkeys used for etching
      glass. Hundred of millions of years ago, when the plants began to
      spew out free O2, it brought about an ecological holocaust: though
      much of the life up to then was single-celled or slime molds and
      algae, there was still a great deal of winnowing done before the life
      adapted to survive in the now-oxygen-rich enviroments.

      There are some mutants who can survive in the oxygen-poor
      enviroments, but their time is not yet.

      Zeniozyel was smaller in stature than most angels, but had been the
      one to come down to Alkali Lake and pull the monkeys out of the
      water. First was the heaviest one, the monkey filled with
      adamantium, which didn't weigh much by Zeniozyel's reckoning. As the
      pair of them rose in the water, closer and closer to the surface, the
      lake in that area began to steam. No frothing bubbling stew, but
      just a little bit of steam rising up.

      The heat was natural, or as natural as a mutant could be. Or most of
      it was. Some of it came from the angel's grip.

      Adamantium, once cooled, was unalterable, implacable, undamageable.
      But within the body of a regenerating mutant, there was enough heat
      from constant oxygen consumption and a nearly cancerous growth rate.
      There was just enough heat to allow for the joints in the wrist,
      fingers, and knuckles to have full flexion.

      But when one regenerator had infilled another regenerator with
      several quarts of Adamantium, the body had been overwhelmed.
      Mobility had halted . . . for a time.

      Zeniozyel placed the monkey down on the makeshift beach, between pine
      trees that were still trying to shed the excess water that'd splashed
      onto them when the dam had let loose. Then the angel leaped and
      dived back into the glorious water, to pull out the other ones. When
      submerged, Zeniozyel's wings -- all four of them -- glowed with a
      brilliant white light.

      Here, now, alone, Yoriko began to think once more. It was a slower
      thinking, based on anoxic chemical reactions: her body could only get
      oxygen through her skin right now. Time passed, but she couldn't
      measure it. Even when she was able to think and see again, she could
      not sweat just yet. One gland at a time. Patience. There was all
      the time in the world, or so it felt like.

      Her mind flickered. Coherent thought was not possible yet. But
      flickering images could work. She saw the face of the Wolverine, of
      Stryker, of Lyman, and of...a woman who looked like her. An army of
      fellahin raced through one image in her mind. There was Lyman again,
      but he was different.

      Yoriko could now open her eyes. Immobile eyes, her gaze fized in one
      direction. She stared at the sky, at the treetops. She did not
      watch as the seasons passed, for events took place before that could
      happen.

      Underwater, Sergent Lyman was waking up again, his lungs protesting
      at having to work with water once again. But, like all Immortals,
      breathing was possible underwater, to a degree.

      The persona of Lyman was sticking, clinging with fervor, as the
      biocontroller chemical took time to wear away. A special potency had
      been needed to control even the youngest Immortal troop soldier, and
      an enhanced version to keep Methos in line. Lyman and Death fought
      for control, with Pierson and Adams and a thousand others waiting
      close by.

      Time exists in two states: subjective and objective. Objective is
      the cold and implacable march of time, stampeding any resistance.
      Subjective is the trick played on you by your mind, when time seems
      to move slower or faster than you thought it was -- many monkeys
      observe this phenomena in the early morning when they should be
      waking up.

      Lyman/Death\Methos/Adams\Pierson let himself settle into a slow pace,
      living in subjective time. He had once taken seven hundred years to
      climb five hundred feet to the surface of the Black Sea, and he saw
      no reason to do differently now; he reasoned that, if Joe and anyone
      else noticed his dissappearance, they would provide a cover story &
      shelve his things for sufficiently long. He was going to miss Joe; a
      good friend.

      With both struggling-to-focus-again eyes and with his own Buzz,
      Methos detected a glowing thing in the water. Drawing his Buzz in
      close to him, Methos stilled himself. He'd been the attention of
      angelic creatures before, and had not enjoyed the experience. He had
      no desire to repeat the performance.

      Zeniozyel flew-swam right over Methos, paying no heed to the
      Immortal; the limp body of Jean Grey in two of the angel's four
      hands. It flew out of the watery lake with its captive.

      Methos exhaled a sigh of relief, though the water in his lungs made
      it less than impressive. And, as he was making his way towards the
      shoreline, he felt the dawning of a new Buzz. Even with a thousand
      years between now and when he had last gone in the water, Methos
      could swim. It was not Olympic material, but he'd never cared.

      The pace had been changed: when angels moved, Methos was wary, and
      less inclined to go slowly. He had personal experience to back him
      on that account. When Lyman tried to look at the reason for that, he
      was simply encouraged to go along with the masses, to be obedient to
      the others of himself for once.

      Back on land, the thoughts were less flickering and more coherent.
      But there was a large question in Yoriko's mind: who was she?

      She could remember names and faces from...surely that couldn't be
      right. From throughout her life; most of it, some of it, bits of it?

      Yet her memory was blank when it came to herself. She wasn't even
      sure `Yoriko' was her real name. Hadn't Stryker first called her by
      that name? Just as he'd called the `Wolverine'.

      Yoriko tried to move. Thus far, she couldn't even sit up, much less
      push herself away. But she could hear. She could hear the water
      steaming again, and then she heard the sound of something breaking
      the water surface. The sound of four wings flapping steadily.

      Adamantium was a solid material once it hardened, of that there was
      no question. But on the molecular and cellular levels, the material
      had dozens of adamantium bristles, vibrassae, irregular shards. It
      was these that gave Adamantium its strength: greater gripping power,
      and increased durability, like a superdiamond. And these picked up
      sounds and vibration alike, from the earth and the air.

      From out of the woods came Marie, who, upon seeing Yoriko's state,
      ran over and knelt by her. "Are you okay?" Marie asked. Yoriko
      didn't, couldn't answer.

      There was still adamantium droplets in the corners of her eyes.
      Marie saw them, realized that this woman was like Logan. "You'll be
      okay," she told Yoriko.

      Yoriko tried to speak, but it came out a gargle instead. Progress
      was being made: her airways were clearing.

      Marie sat down a few yards from her. She could wait; everyone in her
      could wait.

      ~~
      THE BRONZE AGE:

      JUST WEST OF THE NILE:

      It was the reign of Cyrus over Persia, and he had conquered Egypt
      only a few years ago. Rome was a minor city-state among the other
      Italic city-states on their penninsula. Carthage and Tyre were the
      trading capitals of the known world. A Macedonian named Alexander
      had not yet been born.

      And a desert oasis, a holdout which denied Cyrus' rule in Egypt, had
      cursed his name. That was not something that Cyrus, king of kings,
      lord of all men, tolerated. And Cyrus had taken it as divine
      movement that brought Kronos -- one of the legendary Horsemen --
      into his court, offering to destroy the oasis for Cyrus. Kronos had
      claimed to be defecting from the Horsemen.

      That was recent, prologue. This is presently now. The future is
      being told.

      So now Kronos walked into the tent which Cyrus had granted him for
      this conquest of the desert oasis. And in here he found that he was
      not alone. It was not one of the slaves or soldiers or cooks or
      attendants, or anyone else whom had been sent with the army.

      "Who are you?" Kronos demanded.

      "I am the daughter of time," she replied. "I am a point in the
      heavens. I am the compass of your life."

      Kronos remembered hearing those words once before: when he was only a
      few days old. "Am I to perish now?" Even the Horsemen had legends,
      tales from their respective childhoods.

      "No," she said in a voice as fragrant as the desert's water. "Your
      time is not for a long while, even as things are measured.

      "Your act with your brethren shall succeed, yet again. And so shall
      your next act." She hesitated.

      "And?"

      "But you shall not be brethren together between the two acts. You
      must wander the world apart."

      "For what reason?"

      "Because," she said, her voice turning dangerous, much as the Nile's
      flooding can be both help and harm. "Because your survival depends
      upon it. Because your faith, and your world, depends upon it." A
      pause, then, "Because the survival of your brethren depends upon it."

      "What must I do?" Kronos asked.

      ~~
      MODERN NEW YORK:

      BROTHERHOOD HQ:

      She was sitting on the island. The island that was the lid to the
      Brotherhood's base, the facility they had used while planning the
      events for Liberty Island, and the place that had held the Senator
      for a time. The island's surface rose swiftly, like an impending
      tsunami rising above the waves.

      Mystique sat on the grassing back of the geological quirk that was
      this island. She was watching the dolphins, and the whale that they
      were accompanying...the marine mammals almost acting as though they
      were a single creature.

      Not for the first time, Mystique wondered if Erik's mutation machine
      a few months ago had affected the sea-faring organisms.

      "He wants to see you," Sabertooth said flatly. Unsurprisingly, she
      hadn't heard him approach: for all his mass, he could move
      surprisingly quietly when he tried.

      There was no arguing with the man -- if she tried, he'd just pick her
      up and carry her inside, irregardless of whose form she took to
      counter him.

      Mystique stood up in one almost-fluid motion. "What's that?"
      Sabertooth asked, pointing out at the whales.

      Or, more accurately, just above the whale and dolphins. Flying
      through the air, diving down like hungry falcons. "Mutants?"
      Sabertooth asked.

      Mystique could hear hungry cries, panicked cries, shrill sounds, and
      bloodlusting sounds. "No," she told him. "Not mutants."

      "They don't look like hanggliders," Sabertooth retorted. "What are
      they?"

      "Dangerous and hungry," she answered. And, disloyal as she felt it
      to be, she hoped that they sated themselves on the possible cetacean
      mutants out there, rather than approach the island.

      ~~
      `God does not play dice with the Universe.' --Albert Einstein.

      `Albert, stop telling God what to do!" -- unknown.
      ~~
      > tbc.
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