Myths of Avalon VIII

Walking a Fine Line

Author: Kyle Bernard <csktech[at]>

Date 07 Oct 2004

Category: Crossover

Rating: PG-13

Keywords: None

Legalese: All characters with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

Summary: Changes are on the horizon and a long held dream comes true: But at what cost?

Latest addition

Chapter 1

Casa Austin, Ojai California

"Steve, are you sure you want to do this?" I wasn't normal for Jamie to question her husband like that but what he'd just proposed violated at least six national security directives and was in direct conflict with the nondisclosure agreements that they'd both signed when the joined the Office of Scientific Investigations.

"Pretty sure," her husband admitted in his soft southern drawl. He took Jamie by the shoulders," One of these days we are going to come to grips with the facts. One," Steve raised his bionic arm and ticked of the points as he made them, "Kine technology is far ahead of ours. Two, it's the OSI's job to investigate things like that and three, I think it will help all of those involved."

"And you don't think that Oscar might object or be a little upset when Rudy disappears?"

"Frankly I hadn't planned on asking him. Look Jamie, it's a fair trade off, Rudy helps us and we help him in his research. Hell the new shielding alone is worth it."

"And don't you think that will raise suspicions? Steve, Oscar isn't stupid; he's bound to make the connection eventually."

"No… Oscar isn't stupid, but at the same time he doesn't know everything in the world. You know the facts as well as I do."

Jamie's face fell, "Yes I do."

"If we don't replace the old style power supplies they are going to end up killing us. Merlin assures me that he can replicate a medicine that will reverse the damage we've already suffered. But it has to be Rudy who removes the power generators; Merlin simply doesn't have the ability. The small supply of Naquada will run our bionics for the rest of our lives and do it safely at the same time. Trust me Jamie; I know what I'm doing."

"Now where have I heard that before," Jamie teased her husband. She glanced away for just a second, "Steve if we are going to do this and Rudy is going to be there anyway…" Her words trailed off.

"Damn it Jamie I know what you are thinking. Xander would never go for it." If Steve were completely honest he would have admitted that the exact same thought had crossed his mind as well.

"We won't know if we don't ask." Jamie reached into the desk and picked up the fold come they'd been issued. She handed it to Steve, "So go ahead and ask, the worst thing he can say is no."

Immortal Arms, Los Angeles California

Andy rolled out of his office, "Damn it Tommy, where are you? Damn kid can disappear faster than anyone I've even known, even his old man. Tommy."

The gunsmith had been very busy in recent months. In addition to his normal work He'd been reviewing the M-41 at Xander request. Basically he thought it a sound design but there were a few problems that needed to be solved. The first on his list was the slow firing rate the marines had reduced the weapon too. There was no reason given the round and the materials used that the weapon shouldn't cycle as it was designed to, that pointed the gunsmith in the direction of either the action itself or the gas relief system.

The M-41 wasn't a typical blowback or delayed blowback design. It was a revolutionary design for an assault weapon. The feed system was powered by an electric motor that drove the bolt. The problem was that the barrel heated up when the electric motor was spun up to full speed. Andy suspected that the barrel was holding the escaping gases a little too long and that it could be remedied either by expanding the gas ports on the muzzle, or the other possibility was a variation on the barrel design, a series of fins would act as a heat sink and hopefully bring the weapon back into spec. Personally Andy was hoping the new ports would work, he didn't much care for a ribbed barrel and he was damn sure that the men wouldn't like it either.

"Damn it Tommy where are you?" He muttered to himself. The telephone light started flashing before he could go looking for his young apprentice. "Immortal arms," he answered gruffly.

"Yo Andy… where the hell are my design change?"

"Terry, if they were up your…"

"Careful now, we have younger ears her on the phone."

A girlish giggle was heard in the background, "Hi Uncle Andy."

"Hey Munchkin, look honey I need to talk business with your dad for a while. I promise I'll call you tomorrow.

"Ok Uncle Andy... Don't forget, she admonished him as she hung up her phone.

"Terry hang on while I head for the office. I can give you a proposed few changes for the prototype." Andy punched the hold button and rolled across the shop floor to his office. As he crossed the door way, Recon looked up at his master and let out a gentle woof.

"Now I know that you know that you aren't supposed to be sitting on that couch." The dog looked vaguely guilty but didn't move an inch. Andy shuddered at what Dragan had paid for that couch and he still felt guilty about it, "Recon, get off the damn couch!" When the dog just laid his head across his paws as if he were planning on staying there for a while, Andy added. "Now Recon…" Andy's voice left no argument, Recon got off the couch.

"What is this, every body go crazy day?" He picked up the phone, "You still there Ter?"

"Five by Five bro."

Ok, let's try this," Andy shuffled through the papers on his desk till he found the blueprints he was looking for. "This is our starting point, Tell them I'm planning to add three thousandth to the upper ports and one thousandths to the lower ones. That way we still get a differential and some recoil abatement. I'd like the initial tests done with the reduced ammo the Marines ordered, then if we get the cycle rate up we can move up from there. I'll have some more details tomorrow if we are lucky"

"Seems kind of minor to me, are you sure you wouldn't rather make one big change and be done with it? Grey is screaming for these things. Xander sent the first batch of recruits to Avalon and there's only so much they can do until the M-41 arrives"

"I thought about that but I'd rather not have another melt down if we can avoid it. I'm 99 percent sure this will do the trick. If not I'll work through the night till I have it right. You can tell General Grey that if this doesn't work I will personally modify enough of the current version of the weapon that he can begin training."

"Better you than me. McQueen gives me the willies."

"Major McQueen is alright; just Gung-ho is all. Look if it's a problem I can modify the ones I have here and deliver them to Avalon myself. I need to check on a few things anyway."

"If you want, than no problem, but don't do it on my account, I told Xander that it would be the end of the month and not a minute sooner. Got to give the kid credit when he tells you it's your baby, it's yours, pass or fail."

"True, but if you told him the end of the month… you have till the end of the month. I wouldn't be more than a second late without a damn good reason. Have they moved the production of the grenades to Montana yet?" Out of the corner of his eye he saw Recon's head pop up, "Hang on a second Terry. Where the hell have you been?" Andy turned, and as he suspected, Tommy was standing behind him.

"You gave me the morning off remember?"

"Sorry kid I completely spaced that. Here take these and set up the mill. He handed the blueprints for the M-41 over to the boy.

"Wait a second… You want me to do it?"

"Will you promise that you'll turn the cooling system on?"

Dragan's son had the good grace to blush. Only a few months ago he would have exploded at the insinuation, but he'd learned that Andy's sense of humor was a little strange, more than that he'd also picked up on the fact that Andy wouldn't have teased him if he didn't like him, which meant a lot to Tommy. "Cooling system… hmm lets me think… yea big blue switch… got ya."

"Get back to work; I want to test that thing before we go home tonight."

Casa Austin, Ojai California

The sun had set long before Steve had finished that conversation. Xander had listened intently and at several points he'd asked questions that Steve couldn't answer. It had taken several calls, one to Avalon where Merlin confirmed that it wouldn't be a problem and a second to call to Los Angeles." All right Commander I'll set it up. No sir I don't have any doubts that Dr. Wells will be willing to help. My only concern is buying enough time so Oscar doesn't get suspicious."

Jamie interrupted her husband, "Tell him we have out annual physical in a week." Steve nodded and shook her off. He listened for a few more minutes then shut the fold com down.

"We have provisional permission." Jamie let out a cheerful giggle when she heard that. "Now wait a second, there are conditions. The first is that Rudy has to agree and agree willingly, we can't apply even the least little bit of persuasion. We can lay the facts out for him without giving away Avalon's location."

"Don't even try and convince me you aren't the least bit excited Steve Austin, I know you much better than that."

"Well maybe a little bit. But you know the hardest part don't you?"

Jamie nodded, "We'll burn that bridge when we get to it. Now call Rudy, tell him you want to talk to him next week about taking some time off and going fishing in Alaska."

"Can you think of a better time?"

Dreamland, Groomslake Nevada

Steve switched the radio to the secure frequency of Dreamland tower. The special radio used not only secure channels but it was also highly encrypted as well "Dreamland Tower, This is Oscar Sierra India zero one, a flight of one with two souls on board."

"Zero one, squawk secure on IFF. Do not deviate from your present course until instructed to do so."

"Roger Dreamland tower, squawking now," Steve reached between the seats and punched his own personal code which was then transmitted to the tower. He moved his hand and nodded to Jamie. She nodded and punched her code in. "Dreamland tower, idents out."

"Roger Colonel Austin, you are cleared as number one, no traffic at this time, welcome to Dreamland.'

Three hours later Steve and Jamie were running side by side on treadmills. The speedometer above the highly modified machines read a comfortable 60 mile per hours. Rudy Wells, the physician who had operated on both of the Austins stood nearby watching the pair. Though now in his early seventies he was in remarkable shape. Still a bit over weight but when asked about it he always said a doctor should be a little fat, it reassures the patient. No one ever bought the line but it made Rudy feel better. "Ok you two that's enough. Steve I'd like to get some skull x-rays and Jamie you have an appointment with the audiologist."

Steve grabbed a pair of towels and tossed one to Jamie, "Anything you say Rudy." The married couple exchanger glances and Jamie nodded toward Rudy. "Got all you fishing gear packed Rudy

Rudy couldn't hold back and enthusiastic smile, "Sure did, it sounded like a great idea to me when you called, and after the last few hours, it's looking even better. Say why didn't you give Oscar a call, I know he would have loved it."

"You know Oscar. He schedules his vacation years in advance; I doubted he could have gotten away on short notice; this was a spur of the moment thing and let's face it you spend way too much time in the lab, time to get you some fresh air."

Rudy put Steve on the spot. "That's true. Oscar really should consider retiring. The pair headed down the corridor towards X-ray. "Say Steve how about a little side bet on the biggest fish?"

Immortal Arms, Los Angeles California

Tommy helped load the newly arriver cases of M41's into Andy's van. He'd recruited some of the security people from Dragan Security for the simple reason that Dragan liked Andy. It didn't hurt that most of them knew about Andy being immortal so any slip up wouldn't be a major security breach.

They were just loading the last case when Ford LTD rental pulled into the drive. The neighborhood had improved over the last few years but a nice car like that was out of place. A stocky gentleman got out of the driver's side, "You must be Tommy," He said with a disarming smile. "I'm Steve and that's Jamie. The old guy in the back is Rudy. Tommy nodded to the blonde that was getting out of the car, "Andy around?"

"He is in the shop… but we are a little busy right now. We have a shipment to get out today."

"Kid I know that, who do you think is doing the delivery?"


Steve wandered into the shop and yelled out "Hey Andy…" he didn't get more that a few feet when he was pounced on by a happy saint Bernard. Steve caught Recon in midair and held him there with one hand. "Not this time you don't furball." he lowered the dog to the ground. "Go bother Jamie for a while."

Steve went deeper into the shop and found Andy back in his office furiously scribbling on a blue print. He glanced at the drawing quickly, "New Gun?"

"No Andy said absently, I'm working on the sniper version of the M41 and it giving me fits. Steve what are you doing here. I was supposed to meet you at the field."

"Been some changes in the plans, you're coming with us to Avalon"

"What's wrong did one of the prototypes malfunction?"

"Naw… So far so good, McQueen liked the changes so much he wasn't then delivery like yesterday. It's something else."

Andy stared at him blankly. He didn't have a clue what Steve was talking about. From the doorway came Jamie's voice, "Andy we'd like you to meet Rudy Wells… Doctor Rudy Wells," she added.

"Nice to meet you Doc," Andy replied"

Rudy stared at Steve, "He doesn't have a clue does he?"

"Well… No.

"Tell him… tell him or the deals off."

Tell me what?"

"Andy," Jamie started, "Rudy is more than a doctor. He's the surgeon that implanted Steve's and my bionics. Andy didn't make the connection right away. "Andy… Rudy thinks he can give you legs again."

Chapter 2

Andy stared at Jamie, flabbergasted at what she's just said. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind. A thousand hopes fluttered through his heart. Then, reality set in and a deeply held distrust of change kicked in. He turned away from the group.

"Did you hear what I said Andy? Rudy can give you a set of bionic legs, just like Steve's and I's."

"I heard you," he answered Jamie. "We have to get this shipment to Avalon. Let me know when the truck is loaded." He rolled away from the group without looking back.

"What the hell was that all about?"

Steve started to follow Andy but his wife stopped him, "Steve let him go."

"Like hell I will." Steve stalked away from his wife like a man on a mission. He couldn't believe that Andy would ignore the chance to get his legs back and live a normal life again. He couldn't believe it because when he'd crashed the lifting body all those years ago, he knew that without legs he was done flying and if he was done flying, his life was over…. <How the hell can he just ignore it> all of the anger he'd felt at his own crippling came back with a vengeance; With Andy as a target.

Steve didn't even bother to knock on the door; he smashed it open with his right hand, splintering it into pieces. "What the hell was that all about," he demanded as he invaded Andy's space.

The immortal gunsmith's eyes flared, "What the hell is your problem?"

Busting down the door did nothing to cool Steve's fervor, "Funny that was my line to you. We are offering you the chance of a lifetime you walk away without a comment.

"Let it lay Steve, just leave it alone."

"Like hell I will," Steve started to list the reasons he was mad, but never got past the word will.

A hint of steel entered Andy's voice, "there's more here than meets the eye."

"From where I'm standing it had better be a hell of a lot. Look Andy, we literally kidnapped Rudy to get this done… Just tell me why… that's it… why?"

"You don't know every god dammed thing in the world and I don't owe anyone an explanation. I've asked politely for you to let this go, now I'm telling you… not as a friend, but as a superior officer, leave it alone Knight."

More arguments filled Steve's mind and he came so close to letting them slip, but he'd been in the military too long. So rather than break, what was in his mind, a direct order, He kept his mouth shut. To vent the frustration, Steve smashed the remains of the door that still hung on the hinges and walked away.

Aboard an Orca above the pacific enroute to Avalon;

On the flight to Avalon, Andy kept too himself. He'd grabbed his laptop, and as soon as they had cleared land he began working on several of his projects. The current two, were the Sniper version of the M41a1 and there was a new pistol coming out from Glock that had real potential.

He began to type his thought on the page.' The Glock 18c is a selective fire version of the Glock 17. The advantage of this is better concealability when we are around the general public; it will take a trained eye to tell the difference.' Andy quickly called up the ballistic data from his computer. He read through the comparisons of the 9mm and the 5.7 'The 9mm round is in under powered given the opponents that we face even with the silver round that are current issue. The Glock would be a cheaper alternative to the FN Five Sevens and the P90, if we can get the rights to produce a frame that is long enough to handle the 5.7mm round. Suggest to Xander that we purchase a limited production license. Failing that perhaps we can trade some of the caseless technology from the M-41.

"Excuse me."

Andy quickly closed the lap top as he looked up. "Yes?"

The older man sat down next to Andy chair. "I'm a bit overwhelmed right now. I'm Rudy Wells." Rudy offered Andy a hand that was softened by years of care, tedious care, that only a surgeon, whose livelihood depended on a deft sense of, touch and feel needed.

The immortal gunsmith offered his own hand, one that was cracked and calloused from decades of working in a machine shop, "I'm Andy."

"I know." Rudy let out something between a sigh and a huff. Over the years he'd had to deliver bad news but this was something he didn't know how to approach. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation with Steve."

Andy laughed, amused at the Doctors attempt at tact. "Sorry Doc, but I think the Lakers 'overheard' that conservation."

"Still… I think there are some things you should know. Steve really can't understand why you'd refuse."

"Thank none of his or, your business."

"Look son, I'm on your side, you don't want help I can disagree, but accept that. What I wanted to do was explain Steve's anger. You know that he lost his legs on a test flight. Now he accepted the risk and knew that something could happen."

"And you point is?"

"I'm getting there. He accepted the risk but when he lost his legs he lost everything. Then add to that he still blames him self for Jamie's accident. He begged us to give her the bionic implants. He threatened to quit if we didn't so you can understand why he can't accept your refusal."

"Doc I appreciate the information, but really this is a closed subject."

"Of course… of course… Just out of professional curiosity, how did you lose your legs?" Other than the muted roar of the engines silence was the rule for the next few minutes. Rudy gave a minuscule shrug. He could deal with taciturn people, lord know Steve was like that.

"Land mine is Nam," Andy finally admitted.

Rudy's head tilted back and his eyes opened wide, "You are an extremely luck young man."

"You think so, Andy answered bitterly.

"Son, I know so. There were a thousand things that could have killed you, shock, blood loss, infection, tropical diseases. Hell even a good surgeon would have had to walk a damn fine line to save not only your life, but some of your legs."

Rudy's words instantly formed a picture in Andy's head of the gray haired doctor who's saved Andy's life . "He was better than good, funny too."

"Do you remember his name?"

"That's one thing I will never forget. Benjamin Franklin Pierce."

Rudy snorted. "Are you kidding me, Hawkeye? Damn son, you'd better never ever hope for any luck because you used it all up."

"You know him?"

"Everyone knows Hawkeye. One of the best surgeons I've seen. He could have been the Chief of Surgery in any hospital in the world. Instead he ran a small clinic in Maine and occasionally he took teaching assignments."

He was a teacher?"

"Son… he taught the teachers. I don't know who was better; he or Charles, but Hawkeye had the edge in bedside manner. Tell you what son, would you mind me taking a look?" When he saw the glare Andy aimed his way he added, "Just a look."

"If I have the time."

Main infirmary, Avalon base

Rudy Well's brain was running on over load. He was blown away with the equipment he found in the infirmary, <Hell any of the major research hospitals would give every last dime they had for just one of the miracles that he'd seen in the last few hours.> the minute he'd walked in it seemed to him that he couldn't quit asking the fool question, "What's that?

Even after the initial shock of landing at, or more precisely, in Avalon and meeting what had to be a fully AI system he still retained the ability to do what he was brought here to do. It had started when he'd asked Merlin to see the operating theater.

Merlin's answer had been straightforward, "We have no specialized area for surgery Dr. Wells. Each bed has it own sterile field and is supplemented by a Lethe field."

"Lethe field,"

A Lethe field is a specialized electromagnetic felid that can selectively block the pain messages sent to the brain. In essence, the patient never feels what is happening. "That's amazing." The good doctor said, "No possible reactions, no latent dependencies. Ok Merlin, tell me more."

For the next hour Merlin covered the basics of Atlantean medicine. He didn't suggest that Doctor Wells training and skills when measured against the healers of the day was like a witch doctor in Africa. Merlin had to acknowledge that this was probably the best that could be done and that training a proper healer was decades away, if even possible.

When Rudy was satisfied that he knew what he needed to know, "Ok let's get started.

Jamie was the first up. "C'mon Jamie get on the table." When the Lethe field came on, a blank look appeared oh Jamie's face and Dr. Rudy Wells went to work. First the covering from her bionic legs were opened up with a laser scalpel, exposing the small nuclear power supply that Rudy had last seen ten years ago when the fuel rods had been replaced.

In its place a small vile of neon green liquid was emplaced and the leads were run directly to the power regulators which controlled the bionic limb. Rudy efficiently closed the incision and dumped the fuel rods in the special receptacle that Merlin had provided. Rudy wiped the sweat from his brow, "One down, six more to go."

Special weapons lab, Avalon

"God damn it," Andy cursed as he worked. "Nearly a year and a half and we still only have seven suit unpacked and ready, not counting the one Merlin gave away."

He was so involved that he didn't notice the two men, dressed in OD t-shirts and camouflage fatigues, enter the room. Freeze right her mister," The taller of the two said. He turned to his companion, Hudson go get the Sarge."

"No need dude, Merlin page Sergeant Apone to the weapons lab."

Merlin's image faded into the room, "Corporal Hicks, Private Hudson, there really isn't any need."

Hick kept his weapon on the intruder, "Still let's do things by the book" rather than have Merlin route the call he pulled his fold com from his belt, "Sergeant Apone to the weapons lab."

Hicks and Hudson, now that just figures." Andy rolled over in their direction, "Drop the Zat kid before someone gets hurt."

"Oh someone is gonna get hurt… Just not who you think its going to be." In a motions that caught both of the former marines off guard, Andy's hand whipped up from the side of his chair and a bright metal disc came flying out, striking Hick's hand.

Dwayne hicks yelled, more in shock than in pain, though there was plenty of that as well. Hudson dove away from the attacked and he rolled up onto his feet only to find that the old guy now had a pistol pointed at him.

Hudson's eyes went wide, looking down a barrel that looked to be the size of a tree trunk. His one hand froze, coming up short from his own back up weapon.

"You have to ask yourself one question," Andy said as he mimicked Clint Eastwood, "Do you feel lucky."

GOD DAMNIT, a voice roared from the doorway. HUSDON are you just plain stupid? I leave you ladies alone for five fucking minutes.

"But Sarge," Hudson whined weakly, "We noticed a light one in the lab."

"If god had given you two the brains he promised an aardvark you'd be dangerous." He turned toward Andy, "I'm sorry sir. It won't happen again. He glanced back at his Marines, "I CAN PROMISE THAT.'

But Sarge he's just a cripple."

"Excuse me gentlemen," Merlin chipped in, "let me introduce you to the Weapon Master of the Kine."

Dwayne Hicks cradled his injured hand and dropped his head, "this can't be happening to us."

Avalon Infirmary

Rudy Wells was beat. Nine hours and six limbs later he was finished with his task. After the treatment that would exhume the radiation damaged tissue, Jamie and Steve were resting comfortable and in the morning they'd begin the test sequences but Rudy didn't expect any surprises.

"Excuse me Doctor Wells, I wonder If I might have a minute?"

"Right now I'd be willing to do anything for you. You can't know how many sleepless nights I've had about those power supplies."

It's about the Weapon Master. It's a matter of some sensitivity so I hope you will treat this as a confidence just as you would with a patient."

"The Weapon Master? I'm afraid I don't understand."

"My apologies, Andy rarely goes by his title. If you are to operate on him there are some things you need to know. Merlin quickly ran through several conflict resolution sub-routines and the answer came back the same each time. The Weapon Master is unlike anyone you've ever met and this oddity is most likely the reason he is refusing to even discuss having his legs replaced. The Weapon Master is immortal and he fears that if he should take a quickening that any electronics would be destroyed.

"Wait a minute… Immortal?"

"It took Merlin several more hours to explain that simple sentence.

The surface of Avalon

Andy rolled over to the makeshift range that General Grey had established for training, "Good morning everyone. For those that don't know me," Andy glanced over to Hicks and Hudson. "My name is Andy; I'm the Weapon Master of the Kine." He let that soak in for a second, "But you can call me sir." That got the normal chuckle that any enlisted man would give when he knew the man was joking. "Now let's get started. This is the M41A1. It is a 10mm caseless assault weapon with a built in over and under grenade launcher."

For the next several hours the group practiced with the new weapons. "Sir,"

"Yes Hicks."

"I'm Hudson sir… that's Hicks. I have a question."

"Ask away, whoever you are."

It's the electrical systems sir. I understand that the feed mechanism is powered by a high efficiency thermocouple so I have to ask, why the battery in the magazine?"

"Good question. The battery in the magazine powers the computer and the optics and the round counter. Battery life is ten hours in stand by and one and half hours under constant use. Granted if you're in combat it won't be in the weapon that long… One thing people, these magazines are expensive so under normal circumstances we want you to bring them back to be reloaded."

"Can a mag be reloaded in the field?"

"It can but normal combat load is will be ten mags of ninety-nine rounds each. You will carry two ammo blocks in reserve but it takes several minutes to reload a mag so I wouldn't recommend it during a firefight."


"Yes Hudson."

"What happens if the battery dies and you still have rounds left in it?"

"Then you change mags and continue the fight."

"But what if it's your last mag?"

"Then Hudson you have the most expensive club on the battlefield, any questions?"

Hudson's face fell when he heard that he raised his hand again, "A club sir?"

"Relax Hudson. I was pulling your leg. If the mag battery is dead you'll lose the computer and the optics but the pulse system is also powered by the thermocouple so the weapon will continue to fire till its dry any other questions?"

When there were none, "Ok let's shoot this sucker."

Chapter 3

Early the next morning Andy was still in the Weapon Lab sorting out his notes from the flight. He'd sent Terry a copy of the notes late that evening with a note that he would be calling him the next day. There were several ideas that he'd like Terry and the Commander to consider but he wanted to test the waters first. He heard a polite knock on the doorframe, "Weapon Master, Corporal Hicks and Private Hudson would like to see you." Merlin announced.

"Enter," Andy yelled. The door slid open and the two former Marines marched in. They both saluted Andy but Dwayne Hicks salute looked sloppy because of the steal healing hand. "Yes Gentlemen?"

Hudson stood mute just as the two had agreed prior to coming over to the lab. "Sir, we'd like to apologize for the little misunderstanding from yesterday. It was inexcusable."

"So Apone jumped into your shit with both feet did he?"

"Well ya, but that's not why we are here. Scuttlebutt says you're in need of some help down here and we'd like to volunteer."

Andy sat back in his chair pondering the pair. "What are you specialties?"

"I was the commo specialist and Hudson was electronics."

"You realize that it won't get you out of any other training, this will be side duty."

"Yes sir, we'd really like to help."

Andy made a fast decision. "Merlin My compliments to General Grey, I'd like to see him as soon as possible. Ok you two, we have thirty suits of combat armor to pull from storage, warm up and fit. I'm going to have to depend on you two because I will have to be away from the base at certain times. I'll clear it with the General and the Commander."

"Thank you sir,"

The pair turned to return to duty but Andy stopped them, "Oh by the way, I hope you two like dogs."

Terrace Point Montana.

Terry Powell was up far later than he'd ever planned, and not for the first time this week or even month. Since Xander had acquired Armat Industries it had be one 18 hour day after another. The problem was, there were too many problems. Armat had bet the farm with the M41. After the initial trial they invested every dime they had in new production equipment and had bought out the manufacturer that they'd contracted to supply the new style grenades. All that had fallen apart when one of the weapons had exploded on the range.

Xander's acquisition of the company had kept it out of bankruptcy court but it had taken a massive infusion of cash just to keep the plant open and people on the payroll. But the accessory cost was that it also cost Terry most of his waking day.

The private telephone in his office rang. Only four people had that number, Xander, Andy, Lynn and General Grey, "Terry here."

The familiar voice of his old friend rang true in his ear, "How's it hanging bud?"

"Down and to the left as always, what's up Andy?"

"Business mostly, how's it looking there?"

"Don't ask. We've got money problems out the ass. Payroll is costing us about three million a month and facilities are running another mil even with the limited production. That doesn't even factor the new plant. Bottom line, we need some sort of income."

"Funny you should mention that, I had an idea on the flight over that I want to run by you before I ask the Kid about it."

"Dude I'm all ears."

"Let's face in, the kid means well but he isn't a businessman. Even with the support he's been giving and the cash you and I have tossed in we don't have much time before the books balance in the red. Here's my idea, we license out the caseless technology for a steady stream of income. Hell if we word the contract right, we can be the sole suppliers of ammo."

"You want to sell the one real asset we have? That would be financial suicide."

"Wait a second and hear me out. We license not sell… that way we get a piece of every gun made. On top of that, we get ammo sales."

"They'd reverse engineer us in a few months. Hell HK is already past the prototype stage with the G11."

"No they wouldn't… because if they did they would never get anything else out of us." Andy sighed, "There's no was we can compete with the big arms companies, that's a fact. If we piss them off they will undercut us on every deal until we have no choice but to sell outright. If we chose one to work with now, we control our own fate."

Terry was interested, more than interested, but he realized that to make it work the Kine would have to get a lot in return. <Stock in the company,> that was his first thought, we have to have some way to keep the company honest. The trade off for that was a cost plus contract for the ammo. Armat wouldn't make much that way but at least it would be something coming in. "Ok, If the kid okay with this, who is the question, who would you recommend?"

"If you'd asked me that one twelve hours ago, Id have said Glock. But last night it came to me that FN is a better choice."

"Six of one half a dozen for the other," Terry countered with.

"Not really, FN has two things we really want. We are going to have a huge need over the next few years for a variety of weapons. We sure as hell can't use the M41a1 in an urban environment."

"Not unless you want to leave a smoking crater behind. Where's this going?"

Terry could hear Andy grin over the phone. "Hold on to your shorts, in exchange for the caseless technology and a real cash flow we get limited rights to produce the Five Seven and the P90. Hell we might even get Armat to pay for itself this way."

"Are you fucking nuts… they will never agree to that. That would cut into their bread and butter market, military and law enforcement."

"They would if the knew we wouldn't be competing with them. We need these weapons for ourselves. Hell we can even agree to sell them any excess back to them at cost. They get what they want and we get what we want. Hells bells we can even agree to buy the standard 5.7 rounds from them, make'em feel better about the ammo deal. It's a Win win situation"

"I don't know. It's iffy."

"Look do me a favor, do a cost and time estimate on how long it would take to add the capability to produce both guns at Armat. When that's done we will bring it up to Xander."

"You realize you just added another ten hours a week to my schedule don't you."

"Dude come out here and help me, then you'll know what busy is."

Avalon's Infirmary

Steve and Jamie were once again on treadmills. Lord only knows where ruddy scrounged them up at but the first thing that morning he'd roused the pair out of bed and put they to work. Rudy was still concerned about what ever damage the old fuel rods had produced, though Merlin had assured him that the medicine he'd produced would counter those long term affects. "Merlin can you monitor their cellular level remotely"

"I will place them on the monitor, however it really isn't necessary." As the AI spoke a new screen appeared. It sowed a bar graph which meant nothing to Rudy.

"I guess I'll have to take your word for it."

"I can change the display to a different mode if you like."

"How about you just explain what the graph is showing me."

"The red bar represents broken strings of DNA, the obvious damage from the nuclear fuel that was present. What you don't see are the results of the previous test." A second screen popped up. "I took Steve's reading months ago and it was that information that determined that more or better shielding was needed. As you can see the results have begun reversing themselves in just a few hours."

"Ok I can see that now. Can your process completely reverse the damage?"

"No there will be some residual left but not enough to worry about."

"Hey Rudy," Steve yelled across the room. "Give us a break over here; we've been on these things for over two hours."

"Hold your water." Rudy glance up at the physical monitors, heart rate, respiration and hydration were all in the normal range for a man that had been walking for fifteen minutes not running at 60mph for two hours. "Ok you two, you're done for the day, but I want you to get some rest."

As the pair left Rudy sat down to make some notes. When he was done with that, he opened the medical files that Merlin had given him access to. There were huge blank spots in the record mainly in areas that would point Rudy in the direction of what was used to reverse the radiation damage. "I don't suppose you're going to tell me what it was."

"Unfortunately that information is classified and on a need to know basis. I' sorry Doctor Wells but you simply don't have the technology to reproduce that substance yet."

"Can't you at least give me a few hints?" Merlin paused for several minutes, Merlin? Rudy asked,

"Please stand by, I'm waiting for instructions," Merlin said and then went silent again.

"Just great… an advanced AI at my fingertips and I get put on hold."

"Doctor Wells, I've been permitted to say that it is an offshoot of nanotechnology but it will be several years before the necessary supporting technology will be made public." Merlin was inwardly pleased with himself. He'd gotten the point across without coming out and say it.

<Bingo… Its already being worked on,> Rudy thought. "Thanks for checking Merlin. Now can I see everything you have on Immortality as it pertains to Andy?"

Weapons lab

Four new suits had been delivered to the lab by the bots. Andy and his newly recruited volunteers hastily unpacked the suits and mounted them to a fixture that would allow them to be rotated and moved easily

"Ok Gentlemen, the first step is to fuel the suit. In this case we use a test sample of Naquada from a Goa'uld staff weapon."

"Why not give it a full fuel load?" Hudson asked.

Andy nodded as he installed the small capsule in the compartment in the back of the suit. "Two reasons Hudson, By the way, what you name?"

"Bill sir."

Andy closed the compartment and turned the suit so that it was facing him. "Ok first off, we lose the sir when the brass isn't around, Im Andy."

Bill Hudson's face kit up, "Yes Sir, He answered with a goofy smile on his face, "I mean Ok Andy."

"Much better, Dwayne, can you think of a reason why we wouldn't mount a complete fuel load." Andy punched the start up routine.. Every light on the suit flashed in sequence and the suit rapidly ran through all of the camouflage combinations in its memory.

Hicks stood back and watched the show as the suit flooded through the colors of the rainbow. "On a guess sir, we don't have enough fuel?"

"Correctamundo… Currently we have stores for about thirty days at full output. That assumes all suits in full nonstop combat." Andy stood back, "the second reason my friends is that as the supply reaches less than one percent it limits the power supply to the muscles. See those dents in the ceiling and the wall?"

"Yes si…" the two trailed off, "Sure Andy."

"That's what happens when you have an inexperienced pilot and a fully armed and fueled suit. I speak from sad experience… Now let me show you the check out sequence on the muscular systems."

Avalon infirmary

Rudy looked up and rubbed his blood shot eyes. "Is that it?"

"That is all the current information I have. I'm sorry it wasn't more comprehensive but Avalon was never meant to be a full healing center, merely a way station back to Atlantis and more advance facilities."

"Ok I'm tired so correct me if I'm wrong. There is no reason why it shouldn't work."

"That's true," Merlin said, "Equally it would follow that there is no reason that it should. I can guarantee that the electronics used will not short out or fail due to an electromechanical pulse."

"So it all comes down to choice. Ok let's get Andy into the infirmary and lay out his choices."

Weapon Lab

"Weapon Master to the infirmary please," The loud system announced.

Andy dirty and grimy looked up from the suit he was helping Bill fuel, "What is it Merlin?"

"Doctor Wells would like to see you in the infirmary. Andy I think it may be important."

For Merlin to use his first name told Andy that he'd better get his ass in gear. "Ok you two get the rest fueled and do the basic tests I showed you, I'll be back as soon as I can."

He rolled into the infirmary, "What the hell is all the fuss about."

"Andy, come in please. Rudy sat down in one of the chairs. "Look there is no easy way to say this so I'm going to just say it. Merlin told me why you are so reluctant to even talk about a bionic replacement."

Rudy didn't come out right and say it but Andy knew that he knew. "Damn it Merlin you should have mineded your own business."

"Excuse me Weapon Master, but when it comes to Avalon and the Kine, with all respects, it is my business."

"Andy, just listen, that's all we are asking."

Andy nearly rolled out of the room in a rage, not that his secret was known but the fact that Merlin didn't even bother to inform him what was being done on his behalf. He had his hands on the wheels when the same hope that had hit him back in LA struck again. <Is this the only chance I will ever have to walk again> he wondered.

"Ok," he said gruffly, "I'll listen."

"Good. I'll warn you it's not simple, not in the least." Merlin is confident that he can suppress the healing components of your immortality at least long enough to allow me to make the incisions and inlay the bone implants. After that he will slowly lower the field so we can gauge your reaction."

"Wait a second, Merlin, had this been done before?"

"I have records of two Knights, who were also immortal, that have had a similar experience to yours. But to be honest, my records are operational not medical. I know only that they did have bionic implants."

Andy assimilated the information. He was torn, the risk was great. He was essentially a lab rat but the reward of walking on his own again balanced out the risk.

"Rudy…. Are you sure about this?

"100 percent… no, I think you have a seventy percent chance if it working. Those are better odds than I gave Steve the first time."

"They are better than I thought they would be, Let me tell what scares me, I'll get into a fight with an immortal and win. I end up on the ground, unable to walk. and I have to cut my own damn legs off to get free. I ask you this, what are my chance of having to take a quickening and the goddamn things short out."

"Weapon Master that is the one factor for which we have no data to base a conclusion on, but I will add this; you won't be any worse off than you currently are now."

"I won't be if there is another immortal nearby." Andy went silent. His elbow rested on his chair and his chin was planted in his hand. A blank stare filled his eyes as he considered the risks. "hell of a choice to have to make. Ok I'll take the chance, But If I die, Merlin, I'm coming back to haunt you for a long goddamn time."

Chapter 4

Hicks and Hudson met at the infirmary so Dwayne could get the bandage removed. The day before the sore hand had been an impediment to working in the lab and he would rather deal with the pain rather than disappoint Andy. He rubbed the sore wrist as he walked down to the elevator.

"How's it feeling bud?

"Better than it was. I thought my wrist was broken. Where the hell did that think come from anyway?"

"You tell me, probably the same place he was hiding that hand cannon of his." Hudson made a big O with the fingers of both hands; "I swear to god that thing was this big"

"Hick for weapons lab access," He announced to the security system.


The door to the lab swept open and the pair was about to enter when they were bowled over by a huge brown and white dog.

"God damn it Recon, get back here," Echoed faintly from inside the lab.

"What the fuck, was that," Hudson said and he lifted his head from the floor.

"That, Bill, was my dog." Andy stared at the pair in silence for a few seconds, "Well don't just lay there go get him."

"Umm," Hudson stumbled, "Get him si… Andy?"

"He probably just wants to go topside for a run. Give him about twenty minutes and then get back here. I have an appointment in the infirmary this afternoon and we have a lot to do before than."

Dwayne and Bill stared at Andy with blank stares. "No disrespect intended Andy, but you want us to walk your dog?"

"Think of it as a new challenge. His name is Recon.. Oh and be careful, his favorite game to tackle the Human."

"Yes sir," the pair answered. As they followed the drool trail Hicks add one snide comment, "Somehow I don't think this will get us out of the doghouse anytime soon."

Knight's Barracks 48 hours ago

"HICKS…" The loud bellow of Sergeant Apone had the distinctive ring that someone was in deep shit…HUDSON."

Hicks, still cradling his hand stood up like a man facing execution, "C'mon lets go face the music."

"Man this just ain't right. He told us to guard that corridor, then he bitchs when we catch something. That just ain't right man." The pair man their way to the far end of the bay and stood at the doorway and pounded on the hatch in grand Marine tradition.

The door slid open. "Get your asses in here."

"Hicks and Hudson reporting as ordered."

"CAN THAT SHIT!" Apone lit the stub of the cigar that was clenched between his teeth, And you will stand at fucking attention till I fucking feel like releasing you."

The two former Marines shot to attention. Not the relaxed 'gee we are listening' version either, but the laser straight back breaking, eyes locked on the bulkhead, I'm not gonna flinch no matter what you say, attention.

"You two have got to be the dumbest motherfuckers that ever donned Marine green. What the fuck were you thinking? No scratch that, it obvious that your capacity for thinking ran down your Daddy's leg. Did it ever occur to either one of you that the chance of someone breaking into the Weapon Lab was fucking impossible?" Apone leaned so close to Dwayne Hick's face that the cherry of his cigar nearly burned his cheek. "And they to top every fucking thing else, your point a fucking Zat at the son of a bitch that's gonna train and equip us… How fucking stupid can you be?"

"Sarge…" Hudson began.

"You shut the fuck up Hudson; I ain't even gotten to your sorry ass yet."

Hicks stepped forward and in his best boot camp tone said, "Permission to speak sir."

"This better be good Hicks, I'm about this far from feeding your ass to the sharks in the lagoon."

"Sir, Standard procedure calls for any unidentified person found on the base is to be held for the duty officer, Sir."

"And now we have a bunkhouse lawyer. Well see here Perry Fucking Mason, I've seen the video and Merlin telling you that it wasn't necessary should have be a hint and a half for your ass. Then to top everything else off you both get your asses handed to you on a silver fucking platter. You Hicks, are lucky as hell that Andy only used a practice chakram, otherwise your be wiping your ass with the other hand for the rest of your short, sorry, life I'm sick of looking at you two. Hicks report to the infirmary. Hudson you have an appointment with a toothbrush and the head. Now get the fuck out of here."

The pair saluted sharply, then turned with a precision that no one would have believed them capable of. "We are so fucked," Hudson said plaintively.

"Yea… we're gonna have to do something spectacular to get out of the doghouse with the Sarge."

Finding Recon wasn't a big challenge for the pair, first they followed the drool and then the cleaning bots cleaning up the drool. They found Recon standing on the elevator, His paws nearly at the top of the doors. When he saw the pair approaching he jumped down and loped towards the pair.

The pair tried everything they could think of, "Down Recon. Heel Recon… Sit Recon" but the dog knew who was in charge, and it wasn't the humans. He grabbed Hicks by the pant leg and started to drag him over to the elevator leaving Hudson behind, "Hey Dwayne, I think he likes you."

"I'd hate to see what happens to someone he doesn't like." Recon let Hicks go when they got to the elevator, "Hicks, surface access."

"Corporal Hicks," Merlin's voice came though the air. "There are no approved surface activities scheduled at this time."

"Tell that to the damn dog."

Merlin shimmered next to the elevator. "I was wondering who was going to get Recon duty. It appears you've been chosen. I've cleared you and Private Hudson for unlimited surface access." Merlin's voice dropped in volume by about half, almost a whisper. "Corporal Hicks, to the right of the elevator you will find a drum of dog food. I will keep it supplied with the proviso that you tell nothing of the matter to the Weapon Master."

Dwayne Hicks was mystified: "I don't understand?"

"It's not necessary that you do, it's a matter between the Weapon Master and myself. Now do you agree?"

"Sure why not." He shook his head at Merlin's request, "there's not much else that could surprise me on this tour."

Avalon Infirmary

A full nights rest left Rudy Wells feeling like a changed man. Normally e was a bit nervous the night before an operation but nine hours of surgery the day before left him feeling fatigued and he'd slept like a baby.

I was only after breakfast that he'd begun to worry. Not a general worry but a specific one that he needed to check on as soon as Andy arrived.

"Morning Doc," Andy said as he rolled into the infirmary.

"Good Morning Andy, I need to talk to you for a second before we get started."

"Sure Doc, anything you need. I'm having a great morning."

The smile on Andy's face was just too big a mystery for Rudy to leave alone, "Ok where did that Cheshire smile come from?"

"My two new helpers met my dog this morning. They came back from his morning run totally filthy and with their clothes torn."

"I don't see where the funny part is."

Andy could only imagine what had happened on the surface, but it wasn't all that hard to tell. Recon had run the pair ragged and had a good time doing so. This want the first time Recon had played rough with new friends and it sure as hell wouldn't be the last. "Well when they asked why Recon attacked them I had to tell them that's how he plays and if he really didn't like them they would be in much worse shape. They were not amused, but I was."

Rudy didn't really get the point so he laughed politely. "Andy I have to ask a sensitive question. Please don't be offended, but I need you to tell me what the quickening is like."

Andy scowled; this was something he didn't talk to anyone about.

"Andy I wouldn't ask if I didn't need to know."

Whew… a long sigh escaped Andy's lips. "Ok Doc, now I've never seen one, only experienced it first hand, and then only once. Once the head leaves the body, arcs of blue lighting flicker about the room. It's like its searching for the winner of the fight. Once it finds you, it like a million fire ants and ten thousand wasps biting and stinging you all at the same second.

"It knocks you on your ass and there's an intense heat all over your body, then the memories of the other immortal start flooding your mind, looking for a place to fit in. My body started flopping around on the floor like a fish that's been pulled out of the water into the bottom of a boat… After that you're numb and you can't move, at least I couldn't."

"Ok that's enough. Go take a shower and we will get started in about an hour. When the Immortal had left the room he called out for Merlin, "Merlin is there anyone on this base that could handle the power of a quickening if for some reason we trigger it?"

"There is one Doctor Wells."

"Get them here, NOW!"

Andy lay strapped down to the bed. The sounds of a hospital room filled his ears. His was half listening when Doctor Wells addressed him. "Ok Andy this is what we are going to do, Merlin will start the modified Lethe field at it lowest setting and I will make an incision just above the knee. Now Initially I expect your immortality to heal the incision about as quickly as I can cut, that's ok."

"That's easy or you to say, your not the one being cut on."

"True but it's the only way to calibrate the field. I'll do it as quickly as I can so it won't hurt for long, Merlin can I have the first setting please."

A soft blue glow covered Andy's body. Rudy turned to Jamie who'd agreed to act as his nurse, "Scalpel please." He drew a four inch incision horizontally across Andy's leg and as expected, small thin arcs of electricity crisscrossed around the incision healing the would before it even bled more than a few drops.

Rudy glance at Andy, "How was that"

"Didn't feel a thing."

"Excellent, next level please Merlin." Rudy repeated the process seven times and each time with the same results. On the eighth time Andy's head fell to the pillow and the healing process of his immortality was visibly slower than previously.

"I think that's it. Merlin, give me two more steps up please and I think we can get to work."

Fifteen hours later

"Ok that's it. The nerves are connected and it looks like the bond cement has set. I'm only going to give him a few stitches. His healing power should take over from there." Rudy stitched in silence and a few minutes later he pronounced himself done. "That's the best I can do. Ok Merlin, slowly back off on the field.

"Down ten percent… Down Fifteen percent… Down…" Merlin never got the next words out. A violent explosion of blue electricity shot across the room, causing everyone to duck. The magical power of the immortality soon abandoned its search for another Immortal and soon it was arching across the new limbs which even unpowered were jerking so violently that they shattered the bed.

"Merlin… Back to the suppressing setting." Rudy acted quickly but not quickly enough. Even with the field restored, Andy's new legs kept jerking back and forth.

"Doctor, we have to get him into stasis as soon as possible." Merlin addressed the only other person in the room Miss Lung if you would please."

Miko didn't even waste a breath, she lifted Andy like he was a feather and faster than a human could follow, she rushed him into the medical stasis center.

Rudy sat down hard, defeated. "We made it worse. Damn it… how the hell could this have gone so wrong so fast? There had to be some way to fix this."

Rudy never expected and answer, but he got one anyway. "There is but one answer," Said Miko Lung, dragon warrior, "Magic."


Chapter 5

Magic… the word echoed around like a bad smell at a party. Each of the 'guests' reacted in their own way. Rudy hear the word and he was shocked to silence. Something that he'd never considered, nor would his training ever let him consider it..

Jamie took a more accepting approach. She'd already seen things that she couldn't explain, but for the fact that she'd seen them, she would accept Miko statement as fact till she was proven wrong.

Miko treated the word as an everyday event, for her it was. Magic was the heart and soul of dragons and she bathed in it everyday of her, for a dragon, short life, it was as common to her as breathing.

Merlin's reaction was non-typical for the AI, he said nothing.

The word made a few more circuits before Miko broke it. "He knows what I mean." He pointed to Merlin.

"Knight Lung, I assure you, you are mistaken."

"My people are old, but the old stories are kept alive even today. All know of the Etakri'enoova, the," Miko searched for the English words that matched the Dragon meaning, "Serving souls."

"Miss Lung, the Rune weapons have been lost for a score of millennia."

"No," Miko insisted, not the weapons, the others, the ones that helped people. The stories are told of healers who wandered about the world helping those who were dying; these are of who I speak."

Merlin went into frenzied search of his own, "It may be possible that one survived." Merlin quickly set up a new subroutine, "it may be possible, but it will take time. I would suggest other options be explored.

Rudy was understandably upset, "Are you two going to explain what the hell is going on."

"We are exploring some extreme options."

"Well right now, let's talk about what is possible. What are our immediate options?"

"Theoretically the Weapon Master can stay in stasis indefinitely; however, I have no data on the effects of quickening on temporal circuits."

"Well we better do something fast. I have to be back to work in four days."

<Do something fast,> Merlin thought to himself. Merlin split himself, leaving a small part of himself to handle the every day chores of Avalon, and retreated to the place that no one every saw, a room, deep inside of him self.

He paced 'His' space, the landscape of each wall constantly changing, video feeds on one wall, phones he always listened too on another, raw lines of code ran across the ceiling. The flickering of a millions of unmonitored phone calls lit the fireplace.

"So… Got yourself a little problem do you?"

Merlin turned to find an exact duplicate of himself warming his hands by the fireplace.

PesudoMerlin turned politely, "you don't call you don't write, sometimes I think you don't like me anymore."

"It's not that and you know it. There simply isn't enough to do that requires me to visit all that much anymore."

"Still, you're here now."

"You know I am. I have a problem and very little time to find an answer."

"Time means nothing to us, why are you really here?"

"I need an answer," Merlin admitted to himself.

"So that's it. You don't need my permission; you know where to go to find it."

For seven seconds the back up systems, unused for more than 10,000 years save monthly tests, took over complete control of Avalon. None of the inhabitants noticed a thing, but to an AI, seven seconds was a lifetime.

Merlin confronted Rudy, "Doctor Wells, is there any way that we might stretch out your stay?"

"Not without raising suspicions, why what's up?"

"I have found a possible answer, but it presents certain problems that must be solved first."

Rudy's voice, which had been filled with self doubt firmed up, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Currently no. the skills needed are a bit more esoteric. The Mage and the witch, we can have here in a matter of hours, however the thief presents problems. She's currently incarcerated.

Hollywood California a week previously

Amanda Grayson grabbed the keys away from her date Cory Rains. "No… there is no way I m letting you drive my new car."

"C'mon babe, I'll be fun."

"Fun," the Immortal thief countered, "you mean fun like blowing Duncan up, that kind of fun?"

"Hey that wasn't my fault. He blew my plan all to hell. I had that job timed to the second. He was the one that blew it, so it's not my fault.

"Nothing is ever your fault Cory, just like Chicago wasn't your fault."

"Fine be that way. Cory looked around the parking lot and he noticed a custom painted 94 Corvette, "I'll get my own ride."

"Oh good lord, Amanda sword as Cory picked the door lock on the Vette and 30 seconds later the engine of the now stolen car roared to life.

The chase was on.

Amanda, the engine noise of the Lamborghini Diablo screaming in her ears, smiled at the sheer fun of it all as she rammed the shifter into the final gear. A quick peak at the speedometer showed that she was running through the freeways of Hollywood California at better than 150 mile per hour, there was no way that Cory was going to catch her.

Thirty seconds later she was regretting even thinking that thought as Murphy's Law kicked in with full force, the high performance engine died of fuel starvation. She pulled the powerless car over to the shoulder of the road and prepared to run. "Not the first time I've had to abandon something," She said out loud with the sirens of the police cars now replacing the sweet hum of the cars engine, "Won't be the last."

The helicopter high above her and the man chasing her in the 1994 corvette would prove her assumption wrong on one account.

Amanda pulled the latch on her door and it jumped upward. She grabbed her jacket and as she jumped out of the disabled car, the right front corner of the corvette clipped the young looking woman, sending her flying over the hood of her dead car.

The corvette hit the front fender of the Lamborghini, spinning both cars out of control. The corvette hit the retaining wall on the side or the freeway and exploded.

"Holy shit did you see that?" The pilot keyed his microphone "Air five to all units, the Lambo has TA'd. L.A. County, Air five, we are going to need paramedics and ambulances." He released the key and turned to his observer who pointed out the flaming wreck of the Vette, shrugged he'd see it all before, He re-keyed the microphone and added, "L.A. county, better send the Coroner as well..."

Amanda woke up in a sterile white room wearing nothing more than a thin hospital gown. The smell of antiseptic seemed to coat everything. <Damn it, this will complicate things.> When she tried to raise her hand to brush back her hair, she found out just how complicated it really was going to be. "Handcuffs, just great," she said as she looked around for something that she could use as a lock pick.

Muffled voices came from the hallway. "I'm telling you there's nothing wrong with her."

A second voice responded, "Doc I'm telling you that's there's no way. She was thrown at least 60 feet. No one walks away from that unharmed."

The voices grew progressively louder, "well she did." Amanda closed her eyes, feigning unconsciousness.

"Don't bother, the first voice said, "I can see you're awake by the vitals."

A deputy stepped forward, "Amanda Grayson, I'm placing you under arrest for criminal speed, reckless endangerment and vehicular manslaughter. You have the right to remain silent. Should you give up that right, anything you say may be used in against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning. Do you understand each of these rights as I have explained them?"

Chicago Illinois 1932

Cory Rains and Amanda Grayson watched the bank closely. Sure it would be an easy score, the old geezer at the door was half blind and nearly deaf, Cory Rains was a handsome devil by any standard, add in his somewhat loose morals and you have the perfect man for a life of crime, "Well dear, looks like Duncan wont have to dig us up this time."

Amanda wasn't so sure. Too much past experience with Cory, "Don't get creative; it's always worked in the past."

"In the past we didn't have a brand spanking Duisenberg to get away in, Relax Amanda, it's a piece of cake..

Two minutes later, the pair rushed out of the bank. Amanda headed for the driver's side but was cut off by Cory's words, "Not a chance babe, you're the worst driver in the world."

Shots rang out from the direction of the bank building narrowly missing the pair and ending the debate.

For the next two hours the pair tried every trick in the book to avoid the police but it was not to be. The classic battle of agility and speed against numbers played out in the streets of Chicago like a bad Keystone cops movie.

The chase, and as a byproduct their lives ended, when the Duisenberg crashed through the railing of a bridge. Amanda got one last sentence out before they splashed into the icy water, "I hope Duncan can find where they bury us this time."

Orange County courthouse complex

For the first time in a long while, Amanda was worried. Neither Duncan nor any of her other friends could be contacted by phone; even Conner was out doing something. She'd left messages every time they'd let her use the phone.

The police had transported her to the local jail and had put her on suicide watch, limiting her access to tools to break out of the damn place. She was more than worried, she was mad at herself for not having accessible cash in her new persona. The real topper was that she left her phone book back in London so she couldn't contact Xander or Paige.

Things just kept getting worse. At her bail hearing the judge had said precisely ten words to her and her court appointed lawyer just rolled over and played dead for the prosecutor. "Bail is denied, preliminary hearing in," the judge checked his calendar, "five days, Next case."

Terrace points Montana

Lynn picked up the second line at the shop, "Armat incorporated, please hold."

"Lynn, I need to speak with your father, immediately."

Lynn was surprised to hear that voice on this phone, "Merlin what's wrong," Lynn had never heard her teacher and friend sound worried before.

"I'm afraid I will have to leave you in the dark for a while Lynn. Trust me; it's in your best interest.

"Ok, but I don't have to like it. And you better tell me the second that you can." Lynn cradled the phone against her shoulder, "Daddy its some guy named Mister Merlin and he says it impotent."

Terry Powell came rushing in from the back of the shop, "Lynn go gets us some coffee from the café."

"But Daddy…"

"Don't but daddy me, right now I'm not your father but your boss and I want coffee." Terry waited for the door chime to ring before he answered the call. "Hello Merlin what's up?"

Good morning Terry, I'm afraid I have some bad news that hopefully you can help with. The weapon master has been injured and this is what I need you to do."

Orange County California, The law offices of Smith & Smith and Lewis

The front office of the prestigious was full of big Hollywood names, all waiting to see their lawyers. The staff seemed to ignore anything not on the schedule, as if who you were didn't really make a difference, though if you looked under the façade, you would know that it did.

The UPS man walked in casually. He'd been on this route fro more than five years and learned quickly to not see what he shouldn't. That talent has fostered nothing but pay raise after paradise. Without looking at the assemble clients, he walked over to the reception desk. He slid the manila envelope across and collected the required signature, "Anything out going today?"

The receptionist glanced down, noting who the deliver was for and tossing it in his pile, "Nothing this morning Paul, probably later this afternoon."

As the deliveryman left the phone on her desk rang. "Smith, Smith and Lewis, how may I help you?" she listened briefly, "of curse Mister Powell, I'll put you right through.' She tapped the intercom buttons, "Sam, Terry Powell in on two. He says it an emergency." She listened to his reply, "of course sir. Mister Powell, Sam will be with you in just one minute."

Terrace points Montana.

The last twenty-four hours had been busy for Terry. After the initial shock had worn off he'd switched into direction action mode. Merlin has given him a lot of things to do and very little time to get them done, now he was on the last step and others would take over."

He heard the muzak on the phone click off and he didn't give the other person a chance to say anything. "Sam, Terry Powell. I need something done and I need it done today." Terry listened carefully, but no matter what his attorney said, nothing would change his mind."

"I understand that you're busy. But we pay your company millions a year and I when I tell you I have an emergency, you drop everything."

"No I don't care what it costs."

He listened further, "Sam, you're not listening, I said I don't care. If your client loses, then I will cover any judgments against him, yes it's that important.

"Sure I can hold."

Thirty second later his lawyer's voice came back on. Terry listened to his friend explain that by agreeing to cover the judgments he was opening himself up to millions in losses. "Sam Shut up and listen. Thirty minutes ago a package was delivered to your office. In it you will find the particulars of the case and the means to end it today. There is also a letter that you will deliver to the young lady involved. Do me a favor and call me the second you get back. Thanks Sam."

Orange County courthouse complex

"Next case is 96-23747, the state of California vs. Amanda Grayson. The charges are criminal speed, reckless endangerment and vehicular manslaughter." The clerk handed the file to the judge.

The judge verified that the case number match his docket. "This is a preliminary haring is the state ready to proceed?"

A tall Latino rose from the desk on the right hand of the court room, "Ricardo Alverez for the state sir, we are ready to proceed."

The young woman, from the public defenders office who'd gotten the case that morning rose from the opposite side of the room. Before she could report ready to proceed, a strong voice from the back of the court room interrupted her, "Sam Seaborn for the defense Your Honor. Before my client pleads I would like to submit a motion to dismiss."

The judge wasn't amused by the showroom tactics, "On what grounds son?"

Sam stepped up to the bench, "Jurisdiction sir. My client carries a valid diplomatic passport and isn't subject to our laws."

The Judge reached for the passport like it was a venomous snake, "Son why didn't she say something at the bail hearing."

"I can only assume that she was still in shock from the accident."

The prosecutor arose, "Objection Your Honor. This is a homicide case. Sir, we need to set an example here and tell the world you can't come here, kill our citizens and hide behind diplomatic immunity."

Sam turned his eyes to the prosecutor, "so who's dead. Your Honor, I can't find the so called victim. I've been to the morgue and while they have a record of a John Doe, there's no body… no personal effects… no samples, so I have to ask, who is the victim of the alleged homicide?"

The prosecutor glared the defense, but he couldn't find the words to denounce the fiction that the defense was putting forward. The judge spoke before he could contain his contempt. "I know what you're going to say Mr. Alverez but save your breath, as much as I hate to admit it, Mr. Seaborn is right, we can't touch her." The judge reluctantly scribbled his name to the order that Sam had presented him with. "Young lady I suggest that you go home. I'm forwarding your file to the state department with the recommendation that you be declared persona nongrata. Case dismissed."

Amanda waited until she got outside, "Who the hell are you?"

Sam handed her the other contents of the package, "I'm just the messenger, but if you need me again, here's my card." He turned and walked away.

She tore open the envelope and read the contents,

Amanda, we have a problem that requires your special skills. There is a private jet waiting at LAX which will take you to Washington, Call me when you're onboard.

It was signed with a simple X

Forty five minutes later Amanda was sitting in the plush seats of a Lear Jet. She reached for the phone that was waiting for her. She hit the number one memory button.

"Hello Amanda thanks for calling back."

"Xander, thank you for the help, now from the tone of your note there is a quid quo pro, so, where, what. and how much?"

Xander laughed, "I've missed you Amanda. You're gonna love this, Washington D.C. the what, is a rather plain bracelet… the where, now that a bit tougher, The Smithsonian's Museum of natural Art, the deep storage area."

"And the how much?"

"You can work that out with Andy yourself."

Amanda was missing something, "what's the catch?"

"The catch is you have 24 hours. Then one way or another we will have to try something else and Andy will most probably die."


"And you won't get paid."

The immortal thief though about it for a second, "I'm on it." She flipped the phone shut grabbed the rest of the envelops contents and called out, "lets get this thing in the air."

Chapter 6

The business jet flew through the day racing at the terminator and at better than 400 knots, high above all the general aviation traffic. Amanda didn't let the pretty scenery distract her. She had a tough nut to crack and in considerably less time than she would have liked.

For the last two hours she'd been reading the information that Xander had sent her. There were two possible lines of attack, the direct method, which would include a direct break in or the second choice was pure guile. The first had its advantages, it was a lower cost option, but she really didn't have the time to case the joint properly and that could lead to disaster. The second would require less direct risk, but on the other hand it would force her to use some other assets and that would cost money.

She shuffled through the papers for the thousandth time, the drawing of the bracelet left her a little baffled. There were no fine jewels mounted on it and while the filigree was nicely done, it wasn't spectacular. <Why would any museum want this thing.> she thought. The line drawing didn't show what it was made of so if guile were to work she would need more information.

Amanda picked up the cell phone Xander had sent with the jet. As she listened to it ring she could only wonder why this bracelet was so damn important. "Answer the damn phone Xander."

Amanda got her wish, but not as she expected.

Faith was in top form, "Yo, Demon Slayers incorporated, your raise'em we slay'em."

Amanda pulled the cell phone away from her ear and stared at the black box. When she recovered from the shock of the unique humor that was Faith, she put the phone back to her ear. "This is Amanda; I need to speak to Xander please."

"Sorry Boytoy is out on a job, is there anything I can do for you?"

"Can you have him call me back please; I'm on a deadline and need some specific information."

A second connection broke in on the line, "Miss Grayson, Perhaps I may be of some assistance?"

"I got it Merl, what do…" a click on the line and Faith was cut out of the conversation,

"Now, what information do you require?"

"Hang on just a second," Amanda grabbed a pen so she could take notes. "Primarily the bracelet, the drawing gives a nice view of its construction, but I need to know what it's made of and what it looks when you're holding it in your hand.

"Really Miss Grayson, I would think such detail wouldn't be necessary if you were going to steal something."

"It is if you don't want the owners to know that it's been stolen, or at least not discover that fact for a long time. Now may I continue?"

"Of course,"

"Secondly I need to know where in the Museum it is located and thirdly any information on the security. But I need the bracelet information now."

"Very well, the bracelet is dull silver in appearance, though it is much denser than that."

Amanda scribbled that down, "How much heavier, gold heavy?"

"More like platinum."

"Are there any inscriptions anywhere on it?"

"There are, but most likely they would be misinterpreted as mere gibberish."

"That doesn't matter," Amanda noticed that the plane had its own fax machine. "Can you send me a more detailed drawing including the inscription and where it's located?"

"Of course," The fax machine began receiving a signal even before she had heard Merlin's answer. "You should be getting the fax now. The rest of the information will be waiting for you when you land."

Amanda grabbed the fresh drawings, "Thank you, how can I reach you again if I need to."

"I shall monitor this line, dial the same number and it will be forwarded to me."

"Thanks," Amanda said absentmindedly as she hung up the phone. She studied the new drawings. "It will be close," she said to herself, "but Bernie should be able to pull it off. Pilot, we are going to need to stop in New York before heading to Washington."


"Don't worry, just a little detour." She picked up the phone and dialed a New York number from memory. "Bernie, Amanda, I have a rush job for you." Amanda stuck both drawings in the fax machine and dialed another number, "It should be coming in now. Sure I'll wait."

Amanda waited for Bernie to return. Good jewelers were hard to find, ones that could keep their mouths shut were even rarer. "Yes Bernie, I know it's complicated, yes Bernie, I know you're busy."

"My time factor, Seven Hours. Sorry Bernie that's all I have." The voice in her ear got progressively louder; the longer she listened to him complain, the bigger her smile grew, Bernie never could resist a challenge, that's why she used him.

"Look Bernie do you want the job or should I head for Florida?" The threat was more than implied, Bernie's brother lived in Florida and the two hated each other with a passion, Amanda wasn't above using that against the poor man.

"Standard fee, cost plus twenty percent of the take. The money will be in your account in Switzerland by the end of the week, Thank you Bernie; it's a pleasure doing business with you."

"Pilot, please change your flight plan to Kennedy in New York. You might want to take on some more fuel because it's a fair guess that we will be headed back to the west cost after I'm finished in D.C."

Amanda stuffed the papers back into the envelope they came in and lay back in the seat. It was going to be a very long 20 hours and she knew she would have to be sharp to pull this one off.


Steve Austin's pacing back and forth was driving his wife mad. "Damn it Steve that's not going to help." The pair had just gotten the latest update from Merlin.

"You think I don't know that," he accused his wife. "This is all my fault." the astronaut said dejectedly, "I should have never even brought it up with Andy."

"First off it wasn't your idea, it was mine. Secondly, Andy had every chance to say no and thirdly everyone involved thought they knew the risk, no on could have foreseen this happening. Steve, this will get better, I don't know how I know but it will. I know the waiting is getting to you, but that's all it is nerves. You need to find something to do that will take your mind off of it."

"Steve's eye lit up, "you're right hon." He started stripping his clothes off."

"Well," Jamie said coyly, "that wasn't what I had in mind, but I'm game."

"Maybe when I get back, Merlin, prepare a Hammerhead for immediate launch." Steve grabbed a gloss black flight suit from the closet.

"Too what purpose?"

"Calculate the time factor for yourself; if our thief is detouring to New York, then she won't have the time to deliver the bracelet to Sunnydale before Kevin has to leave with Giles and Tara. To meet Xander's time frame someone is going to have to pick up the bracelet in Washington and bring it here directly. An Orca isn't fast enough and that leaves me and a Hammerhead." Steve dug an old Jepson map out of his case; He rolled off a set of coordinates, "Have her meet me here. It's an old abandoned airstrip that we used to use when we didn't want anyone to know that Oscar was leaving town.

"Very well, General Grey has approved your plan."

"Thank you Merlin." Steve kissed his wife, "I'll be back as soon as I can, so keep that warmed up." With that, he grabbed his helmet and headed for the flight deck.

Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California

Kevin Griffin was having fun. He was flying the rescue Orca just high enough that he wouldn't leave rooster tails, but low enough that the air defense radar would confuse him with ground clutter, more that that he was singing along to one of his favorite songs. "Takin a ride… ride… ride…. On heavy Metal… it's the only way you can travellll down that road. Satisfied…fied… fied, on heavy metal."

He punched the com button, "Avalon base, Orca Zero one, feet wet in seven minutes, I'm starting the shift field so don't be surprised if you lose me on your screens."

"Roger that Orca zero one, Angel roost," that was the nickname the pilots had given Xander mansion, "is waiting and we have a change in plans. You are to depart as soon as you have the packages onboard."

Kevin turned the CD player off. "Confirm that Avalon base, immediate departure, what happened to the special delivery I was to wait for?"

"The Colonel started getting antsy; he'll take care of that package."

Kevin shrugged, completely unsurprised. "All right Avalon, color me gone." He touched the control panel and the Orca disappeared from view.

Washington D.C 10 hours later

It had been a hectic Day for the immortal thief but she was ready. The Lear Jet had landed at Regan national airport. and as promised, there was more information about the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural Art then she could have possibly have used. It was also quite unless to her, so she switched. Amanda Grayson, thief at large, had boarded the plane in California and Amanda Seaborn, <What the hell she,> thought, <he was cute> Doctor Amanda Seaborn, PhD in ancient history departed in Washington.

She quickly rented a car and headed off into the heart of the Capitol.

Amanda strode down the mall as if she owned the place. Dressed in a conservative dress she looked the model of a modern history professor. She spotted the Museum of Natural Art right away and glanced at her watch, "Perfect, closing time right on the button."

She approached the double sided glass doors just as the guard was locking up. "Good evening young man."

"Good evening Ma'am, I'm sorry but we are closing for the night, you'll have to come back tomorrow during normal hours."

Amanda pulled out a letter with the seal of the Smithsonian on it. Bernie had created that as well, part of Amanda's guile plans "Young man, I am Professor of Ancients arts at Harvard. I have your Directors written permission to do some after hour's research."

The combination of beauty and outright gall knocked the security guard for a loop. "Please wait here ma'am; I'll have to check with the director."

"Oh I understand, but I'm not sure that's the best route to go, what with his mother in the hospital." She took the young man's arm and snuggled up to him, "I'll tell you what, I can do the bulk of my research tomorrow, but tonight I simply must have some pictures to document the artifact. Do you think you could do that for me?"

"Ma'am, I'm not really supposed to let anyone in that's not authorized."

"But I am authorized, look at my letter, it even tells you which storage room and what shelf to look for. How would I know that if the director hadn't told me?" Amanda snuggled even closer, "I promise, just five minutes for pictures."

Amanda's charms worked just as they were supposed to. The young man let out a sigh, "Ok Five minutes, but if anyone asks, I turned you away at the door."

"Oh you are such a doll," Amanda said as she dragged the young guard toward the bank of elevators. The rest was like taking candy from a baby. Feigning taking a picture of the young man, "just to show my student who was so helpful," she blinded the guard for the ten critical seconds she needed to swap the original bracelet for her cleverly and hastily made copy.

It sensed something it hadn't felt in two millennia, a human, but not human touch. <Rare even in my own day> it scanned the mind and was instantly repelled. This was not a healer of the brethren. The mind was sharp but its focus was lost in material things, this wouldn't do, it wouldn't do at all it thought as it fell back into a stupor, waiting once again.

Rural Virginia

Amanda drove the rental car though the broken gates that once guarded the old air force base. She wasn't sure what she was looking for, She been told that someone would be waiting with instructions.

Steve was back to pacing <Hurry up and wait, as true today as it was 10,000 years ago.> off in the distance, he saw the approaching set of headlights, "about fucking time."

The rental pulled up and a stunning blonde got out. "I'm Amanda."

"I'm Steve. Have you got it?"

"Maybe… what's so important about an ugly bracelet?"

"Lady I don't have time for this, either you have it or you don't. Now I've been told that you know Xander, so if you have it and are being coy, my advice is, don't. He has a very long memory for both his friends and his enemies, if you don't have it then say so, and we will try something else, either way I have to be leaving."

Amanda didn't say anything for a few minutes. The look on the man's face was so serious that it nearly scared her, <How can someone generate so much loyalty,> she wondered, finally she admitted, "I have it. Tell Andy he owes me big time and tell Xander I will send him a bill."

Amanda turned to leave and she wasn't even out of the gates when a deafening roar and hurricane force winds struck like lightening and then faded just as quickly.

"Avalon base, Angel six, I have the package and I'm heading home. Tell Rudy to get ready."

Chapter 7

Avalon Infirmary

Once again it awoke. The touch this time was different and it seized on the hope, it had been so long.

Rudy held the bracelet and studied it closely. He turned to Merlin who had restricted everyone from the infirmary except for Doctor Wells. "I don't understand."

"Doctor Wells, it is simple and complex at the same time, but the first precept you must understand is that a soul, any soul is nearly indestructible. That is the basis of Rune Magic. When a person dies, all that we were is retained in the soul until the next rebirth. Rune Magics capture the essence of that soul and use the energy and the accumulated knowledge by passing it on to the host. The bracelet you hold contains such a soul, but whereas someRune Weapons used that energy and knowledge to defend Atlantis, others served in differing capacities. This one was a healer of some renown from before the fall."

"So what do you expect to happen?"

"One of three things, the first and most probable is nothing. Rune healers were even more eccentric than their warrior brothers and sisters. The second and the one that holds the most risk for you personally, is that he will take over the host body, shunting your mind aside."

"Now wait a cotton picking minute, they can make someone a zombie?"

"That's a bit melodramatic don't you think. They simply applied their knowledge and the host's physical skills. The healers tended to be more compassionate then the warriors, so they tended to ignore that option more often than not."

Rudy was relieved to here that, "Ok what's number three?"

The third option is a blending of the two. The Atlanteans call it the bond. In my records there are testimonies of Bearers who report it as being the closest relationship that two souls can share, closer than marriage, closer than siblings, even closer than identical twins. What you know he will know and the reverse is true. The question now is: Do you wish to take the risk?"

Rudy had to think about that, the first rule of medicine was; do no harm; His actions had harmed the patient, there was no two ways around that. Andy had been a functional human being who had adapted to this disability and Rudy's actions had done nothing to make that better. "Ok lets give it a shot." He snapped the bracelet over his right hand.

It was being worn. It couldn't believe it, after all the centuries it was being worn. It flashed into the wearers mind. <Some rudimentary knowledge,> it conceded, but woefully shy of what it had known in its day. Biomechanical specialty, barbaric, but it also had to concede, as it plowed through Rudy's mind, that it was as advanced as current medical technology was.

<Too old… Progressive heart disease,> without thought he began to treat Rudy as a patient. The build up of plaques was easily reversed and as the damaged muscles of the heart began to receive fresh blood, it tickled a certain organ which would regrow new..

"Doctor Wells, are you alright?"

"Just a bit of an adrenaline rush, so far nothing. Let's bring Andy in and see if that changes things."

<No> it thought, <there were possibilities but this one was not suitable.>

Kevin, wearing one of the armored suits pushed the bed into the infirmary from the stasis room. The blue arcs were dancing all around the suit but failed to penetrate the advanced armor.

<What's this? How stupid can these fools be?> It reached out, drawing the energy of the quickening into itself. <Damn it, now I have to do something.> It reached inward this time and seized control of Rudy's mind and body. <There, that's a start, now what the hell can I do>

The blue arcs jumped at Rudy, knocking him backward for a second. He instinctually raised his arms to ward them off. His eyes glazed over and Rudy was no longer Rudy. Because of the change the essences of the immortality was drawn into the bracelet. "Get Tara and Giles in here now."

The pair was let in. Rudy wasted no time. Tara, you will have to maintain Andy's life form as best you can. Giles, you job is to support Tara."

The teenager was terrified, "But… I don't have that kind of power."

"No but Giles does. What you have is the specialty of channeling that energy and the compassion to make it work." With that said, Rudy turned and walked over to a wall mounted display. He punched a code onto the control pad and with a loud click filling the room, a section of floor raised up revealing a storage closet.

Rudy returned to the table. "These are lifestones he said as he placed on of the lifestones in each of Andy's hands. They will reroute the immortality during the operation. The down side of that is that we no longer can depend on Andy's immortality to maintain his life. When I place the final stone a circuit will be established between the stones. We will have to work fast."

"Merlin, establish the Lethe field at a normal setting for a human, Giles scalpel please."

Twenty minutes later it was faced with a decision. It could simply remove the implants and restore the patients immortality and it would take care of the rest, but that would leave the patient a cripple and that went against everything it believe in. There were options but one would require a full bearer and it wasn't ready to go that far just yet, <No I will have to finish the task started.>

Three hours later it was done. Tara and Giles were both exhausted. They had stood at Rudy's side the whole time and the constant drain of their own magical forces had taken its toil, but it was done. The bionics were properly implanted and with the lifestones now snuggly installed at the top of each leg Andy's body would stop trying to force a pattern onto the equipment.

Rudy stood back and he reached down and removed the bracelet. He shook his head slightly, "What the hell just happened?"

Terrace point Montana 6 weeks later

Xander walked up to the small house. He wanted to delver the signed contracts personally. Terry had been carrying a huge load for him and this was the least he could do. He knocked on the door.

Terry opened the door, "Xander?"

"Hey Terry, I have those contracts you needed signed. May I come in?"

"Sure, by all means. I'm just surprised to see you here that's all."

Well I wanted to thank you personally. The deal with FN is working out better than even we thought. Armat will survive now. The M41A1 goes into full production next week and we have some small orders from Australia and Canada seems their special forces don't care for the OICW so we pick up the slack."

"But I know this, and you know I know this, that isn't why you're here is it?"

Xander gave him a goofy grin, "Nope… he did it Terry. He walked on his own.

Terry's eyes glazed over with tears, Thank god. But you could have called me on that too."

"No I thought you and Lynn might like a little tropical vacation."

Terry turned around, Lynn, start packing we are going to go visit Andy.

The Girl's shouts of joy filled the small house.

The End


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