It was going to be
one of those days, Methos could feel it in the air. There
was nothing out the ordinary about the day on the surface; yes
the sun was shining brightly through wispy clouds making the Paris
day unusually warm for October, but that wasn't it at all. Neither
had the strange conversation he'd had that morning with Duncan
really made any impact on the pathos in his soul - maybe it had
been part of it, but not everything and it was far from his mind
as he glanced back over his shoulder down the crowded street.
The ancient Immortal
knew he was being followed, but there was no sign of the perpetrator.
Whoever it was, they were good, only impinging on his special
sense, the one beyond even the Immortal warning signals, the one
which had kept him alive more than once. He was almost sure it
was one of his own, and despite the unease it gave him, his spirit
told him this was meant to happen. It was to do with the scheme
of things, the delicate web of coincidence to whose fibrous strands
he had occasionally been privy since his memory began. It was
the same as the touch on his being he had felt the day he met
Duncan MacLeod and the reason he had risked his life to help him
return from darkness. But this was not MacLeod. Methos
had no idea of the identity of the ghost behind him, his instincts
were dangerously vague, as usual. In five thousand years he'd
never really been able to shake the disquiet that accompanied
every moment like this - it was a reflection of the fragility
of coincidence, a knowledge that this scheme, like many others,
could crumble away if that is what was intended.
The old man was especially
wary today because of his destination. Adam Pierson had a lot
of secrets, Methos far more, and this was the greatest. If coincidence
decided to fail this day then a part of his world would be in
immense danger. Still, it was meant, and as he paused at
the steps to the town house, glancing hopelessly into the anonymous
crowd for some inkling of his tail, the man knew he could not
wait long. It was not often that the experienced creature had
his heart in his mouth, he had felt that way faced with the Dark
Quickening in the Clansman, he had felt that way when his head
had been offered to stop Kalas, and now he felt it again.
"So many times
in a few years," he muttered to himself as he gave up the
sharp-eyed scan, "I can't take much more of this."
It had been a long
journey, not merely for his body, but for his spirit as well.
The young Immortal had admitted it to himself weeks ago, that
violent night in the dojo had changed Richard Ryan beyond what
he could have conceived and it had taken a terrifying few months
to finally bring him to this place. He wasn't quite sure why he
was in Paris, it was an awkward place for him at the best of times,
but now was worse; MacLeod was here, the last person he wanted
to see. He had no idea how that night in the dojo had ended, he
had fled, grabbing a pack and some money and driving away. He
hadn't stopped for three days, pausing only momentarily at gas
stations along a haphazard route, going nowhere except away from
his home city. He'd wanted to contact Joe then, find out what
had happened, but something had stopped him, maybe the memory
of the triumph and dispassion in his mentor's eyes, maybe the
gun in the `safe' watcher's hand, he hadn't really dwelt on why,
he just knew that he could not face that part of the torment which
had driven him to this place.
The money had run out
too quickly, and he'd begun to work his way along a lost man's
route. Nothing had made much sense, and looking back he wondered
how anyone had employed the sorry-looking, wild-eyed man prone
to violent mood swings. Yet, there'd been some kind souls who'd
seen the pain in his heart and made sure he stayed on at least
a safe road. The young man didn't remember much, not even the
Immortals; there were brief recollections of Quickenings, but
to whom they had belonged and how the challenges had happened,
Richie could not recall. He knew only that his sword arm was stronger
than it had ever been.
Battered, but his mind
once more his own, the Immortal had arrived in the cosmopolitan
city unsure of the time in between the start and finish of the
arduous travel. He'd been dirty and tired as he had been once
before, but now there was no friend to ask for help. He'd booked
into a small, plain, but clean hotel, washed and slept for twenty
four hours. Then something had led him out to view the city he
had come to love. The youth had missed his first taste of the
world, and he had begun to explore early that morning.
Adam had been an unexpected
sight, folded easily over a cafe-front table, reading intently
some tattered piece of manuscript, oblivious to the world around.
He was MacLeod's friend, another reminder of the tall, warm-hearted
Immortal he had known all those moths ago, and the youth had found
himself leaning on the wall of an alley and staring fixedly at
the young-looking figure. He had no idea who Adam really was,
or if he'd even had contact with the Highlander since his transformation,
but he was a tangible link to an old life and Richie needed that.
He'd been deliberately transient too long; he had forgotten what
made Richard Ryan the man MacLeod had moulded out of the wayward
teenager. Adam brought back a little of the old feeling of welcome
and belonging which had been shattered almost beyond redemption.
Ryan wasn't sure if
Pierson knew he was there; a few minutes, or an hour after the
watch had begun, the youth wasn't certain as his intensity wiped
away the passage of time, the subject had rubbed his neck and
looked up sharply as if stung by some kind of insect, but his
eyes had then surveyed his immediate area. Whatever it had been,
the researcher had seemed to settle quickly, and his gaze had
never turned to the cool figure who stood, hands in his pockets,
statuesque, a hundred yards down the road. Soon after that, Adam
had packed up his document wallet and moved off at a leisurely
pace. With the same, confused, vulnerable feeling in his heart
which had made him stop in the first place, Richie found himself
The walk had not been
far, a few streets, but for some reason, Richie had absolutely
no recollection of the way he had travelled, only being intent
on the casual figure striding evenly ahead of him. He didn't even
know how he had kept out of sight, or why, Adam was no threat,
and why would he be following unless he wanted to talk, but he
had become the man's shadow. As the Immortal Watcher disappeared
into the tall, elegant house, Ryan walked out from behind the
parked van which had been his cover and stared up at the building.
Now he was feeling something else, it wasn't curiosity, it wasn't
anything he could identify as he took in the beautiful, but unimposing
structure - the young man merely knew there was something inside
Duncan, the centre
of his emotion, the harbinger of terror and nightmares, the memory
of something so close that present reality was painful, the man
slipped out of his thoughts and his gaze cleared a little as only
immediate things mattered. Ryan loosened the brown leather of
his jacket, he hadn't noticed the warm turn in the weather before.
It was something too mundane to have reached his battered senses,
but now there was time for the little things. He moved with an
ease in his stride that had been missing for too long, his shoulders
proud rather than hunched, no thought for the sword protectively
hidden in the folds of his coat. The young man walked towards
the house, leaving the weight of his personal torment behind in
the street that was too busy to notice it.
The door was on the
latch; Richie didn't even think twice before pushing it in to
reveal hallway. The immediate area was completely open, only a
staircase decorating the simple, white-walled atrium. The place
reverberated warmth as the bright rays of sunlight danced through
a window which demonstrated that the hallway ran the depth of
the tall building. Doors were sunk back in the walls of the corridor,
but the captivated Immortal ignored them all, and headed up the
stairs at a light, gentle trot. The movements of his clothing
and his breathing were the only things to disturb the silence
that had fallen as the door closed on the outside. Ryan listened
to the tap of his boots on the bare wood of the flight. He recognised
a slight increase in the rate of his breathing as a nervous anticipation
made itself plain from the pocket of emotion which he still couldn't
Richie's actions were
completely out of character. He didn't know where he was going,
or into what situation he was placing himself, and the unknowns
usually made the street-raised youth wary. Yet, no matter that
he felt a vague angst about what he was doing, it was of little
consequence - something greater led him on. It spoke to his soul,
offering a hope, a friendship he had missed so terribly. The Immortal
existence was inherently a lonely one, MacLeod had forced that
message home with the razor edge of his sword to an unprotected
throat, but the feeling in the young man's heart was warming his
thoughts away from the ice of `There can be only one'. The Eternal
in him was almost singing, harmonising to a tune he had never
heard before, a chorus where there should have only been a solo;
it didn't make any sense, but the injured being accepted the melody
which reached in to heal his wounds.
A door stood immediately
in front of the explorer as he reached the head of the stairs
as they turned sharply to meet the landing. It was locked. He
turned the brass handle, but the panel did not give. There was
a hiccup in the gentle concord, the youth had not expected anything
in this place to be barred to him, then again, he had no idea
what he was expecting. No more than momentarily unsettled, the
deep blue eyes scanned up and down the open landing. He hadn't
seen it at first, it was hidden by the bright sunshine streaming
through the first floor window, but as his eyes adjusted to the
light, the youth made out a doorway beyond the stairs, on the
other side of the hall. It was nestled in the corner where the
outside back wall met the internal divider and seemed smaller
than the other typically Victorian portals. Richie smiled to himself,
it had been a long time since he'd done that. His mind was calmly
blank as he wandered over to it and reached out for the small,
The mechanism slid
and the door swung open without a sound and the youth stumbled
into the room as the ease of action took him by surprise. Now,
the Immortal had had his rash moments, he knew only too well that
impulsiveness was one of his problems, but as he found his balance
a few steps into the new room, reality hit and impulsiveness seemed
too slight a word for describing his total lack of foresight.
The young man straightened and turned rapidly to his right as
his re-alerted senses felt a warning like none he had ever encountered.
His skull shuddered with the touch of his own kind and breath
almost failed him as his body jarred against the strangeness in
the shift of his soul. If the edge to his Eternal sense was not
enough to tell the befuddled newcomer that his host was more than
an ordinary Immortal, then what met his eyes was surely the clincher.
Richie's mouth went slack and his heart jumped wildly as he took
in the view before him. There were about twenty of them, all broad
as a bus, tall, and armed to the teeth - Ryan knew he was looking
at trained warriors as his eyes flicked over the taut, disciplined
figures who made an avenue ten deep down the long room. Yet, they
weren't what drew his alarmed attention, not one of them was Immortal;
the call of his spirit sought out another body. A pile of cushions
rested at the far end of the room and a small, shrivelled old
body was sat atop them. A man, wizened in the extreme, white-haired,
white- skinned and white-eyed, he was the sight which defied the
strength of telling in the young Immortal's spirit. On the surface,
a harmless old man, sat cross-legged and helpless on the spread
of down; underneath, Richard Ryan recognised a very strange
Immortal, and his instinct told him that the figure wasn't exactly
seated on the cushions so much as millimetres above them.
His logical brain kicked
in a second later and denied that observation, but the fact that
there was an Immortal in front of his surrounded by an awful lot
of dangerous-looking steel could not be shunned. Ryan was a survivor,
and his instincts told him that this was bad. He had the same
feeling about the past few minutes as he had about the past few
months, nothing new, and it seemed that he'd woken up to reality
just a fraction too late. Still, there was a way out of everything,
and it was obvious that his sword would not be involved this time.
There appeared to be absolutely no reaction from the wispy form
before him, or his guards, so he was in with a chance.
He spun on his heels
and took a stride for the door. Richie knew his luck had just
run out when a shadow fell across his only exit and he felt another
of his kind. The touch was surprisingly insignificant compared
with the quality of the warning he had just experienced, but it
was enough. The young Immortal's hand was in his jacket, halfway
to his sword by the time he recognised the visage which gazed
back at him with a look somewhere between surprise and cool business.
He froze, uncertain of how to treat the figure who merely stood
in his way, arms crossed and with a smile playing on his lips.
The smile was in way
of an attempt at seeming non-threatening - Methos was not sure
how to handle the feral being he greeted. To look at Richard Ryan
was to see the Wild Man tamed only by evolution. There was some
semblance of order about his person, but it was a translucent
veil covering instinct and the knowledge of man's brutality towards
man, which civilisation usually hid. His hair was brushed, but
barely, and the curls were longer and wilder than the normally
styled cut allowed; there was at least a week's growth on his
chin, but it was not intended to become a beard, this creature
attended to his toilet only when life let him. Then there were
his eyes, the windows to his soul, and the elder Immortal saw
the destruction of trust, friendship, a world, in that brilliant
In all his experience,
Adam could only liken Richie to a startled jack-rabbit, but this
bunny had teeth and the experienced being was wondering why he
walked into these kinds of situations. There were no rules to
this way he'd chosen five thousand years since, so why was he
standing facing down a cornered, half-mad Immortal who was armed
while he was not? There wouldn't be an answer, he knew that, he'd
accepted that after a few hundred years of temper tantrums. There
was only now and his own cunning to get out of this one with his
The ancient man took
a risk; he had known this boy briefly, and praying that the child,
who was very much in control of the man, would not strike out
at a familiar face, the Immortal stepped forward. It was one pace,
short, unintrusive, but Ryan skidded back three for his one and
there was no doubt as to on what his fingers rested within the
folds of his clothing.
"You won't need
that here," Adam smiled openly and glanced at the bulge under
"Like I didn't
in the dojo," Richie hissed, his voice was thin and unused.
the other unfolded his stance and held his hands away from his
body; it was obvious that he had no weapon.
the youth nodded towards the statues of humanity, all the distrust
of the loner in his manner.
Methos shied away as
the sword was finally drawn, but he had no reason to move for
cover, the young Immortal was not about to go for a defenceless
head. Ryan backed away from him, more concerned with the avenue
of arms to his left, he was trying to keep everything in his field
"If you'll just
get out of my way, I'll be leaving," the words were polite,
but there was a threat beneath them as they slid through gritted
Adam wasn't given the
chance to even contemplate the choice, and he was rather relieved
as another entered the pointed conversation.
"Have you brought
me our Savage, Methos?" came the interjection from a light,
gentle voice that could have inferred absolutely no animosity
even if it tried.
The Immortal looked
to the old man at the sound of his voice and then glanced back
to survey the dangerous creature in the corner. It had surprised
him to find Richie part of this, it had never even occurred to
him before, but as he took in the shambles of humanity that the
boy had so swiftly become, he had no doubt as to the assessment.
"Yes, Tomas, I
think I have," he answered, and added with his usual ironic
humour, "I had wondered where we would find a Savage
in this day and age."
your manners and invite him to sit with us," the wizened
form defied the mood of his guest with the good temper and warmth
in his tone.
Richie was at a loss
for how to take the easiness in his associate's tones. His sword
spoke for the paranoia in his soul, but his head still held some
sway over his world, and it couldn't understand the conflicting
messages the armoured guard and the openness sent him. Of course
they were confident, there were twenty mortals at their command,
but still, he sensed something, a little of the daft notion that
had got him here in the first place. The youth couldn't shake
that tiny spark of harmony which sat at the back of his defensive
persona. What was more, the name Methos had stuck in his mind,
both Duncan and Joe had mentioned the name to him, a legend among
a society of myths, and equating Adam Pierson to the historic
figure did nothing to aid the young man's already failing grasp
of the situation. His incomprehension and disquiet showed only
too well on the young face aged by trouble, and the blade remained
poised toward any man who even dared breathe. The suddenly strange
Pierson didn't show any signs of moving aside, and the soldiers
appeared to have little if no interest in him, it was stalemate.
is Tomas, a very old friend of mine," Adam told him;
still no sign of hostility. "Tomas, this is Richie Ryan,
I know him through MacLeod."
pupil?" there was surprise in the aged man's voice, and then
he murmured more to himself, "I had wondered, this is becoming
"What the hell
are you talking about?!" Ryan demanded hotly, his confusion
boiling to the surface as a rage.
"If you'd just
put your sword down we can sit and explain," Methos sighed,
understanding in his eyes.
The patient, calm front
was the last thing the youth had expected from another Immortal,
he'd lost all trust of his own kind with MacLeod's attack, and
it was a difficult thing to rebuild. There were too many variables
to make the circumstances easy to assess, and still, the young
man hung back, poised like a frightened animal.
"The boy is understandably
nervous," Tomas observed, a smile creasing his face like
old paper. "My friends, you may leave, I will not be needing
your protection this day."
The old man clapped
his hands together and bowed his head to the gathered company.
The change in his escort was amazing; the men relaxed instantaneously,
and blank faces softened to fond smiles for their small charge.
There wasn't a word spoken, but each man bowed to the centre of
his attention in his turn and moved to leave. Methos was given
a farewell by each, and Richie watched suspiciously as the Immortal
dismissed them all as comrades. Some of the men even sent him
supportive glances and grins as they left. He was severely perturbed
by the time the last heavily armed man exited and shut the door
behind him. He was unready for the easy shrug that Adam produced
as he turned his attention back to his guest.
Adam scoffed without malice, "put down the bloody rapier
and at least listen to what we have to say."
Tomas immediately scolded.
man waved a hand at the tense youth, determined not to be put
down, "this is ridiculous, what's he think he needs a sword
for against an unarmed opponent and an old man."
"You've been doing
this for five thousand years, Methos," Tomas reminded him
patiently, "your friend must think us more than a little
"You could say
that," Ryan snarled, but did at least lower the blade to
"Try and remember
what it was like when you first came across all this," the
fragile form wagged a finger at his long-time comrade.
The Immortal snorted,
he remembered alright.
"That would be
the time you put me between you and a seven-foot barbarian who
was determined to take both our heads," he disclosed with
heavy cynicism in his tone.
Tomas just laughed,
a clear, bright sound that cut through any atmosphere that stood
between the men. Adam raised an eyebrow and glanced across to
the slowly relaxing, but still largely confused Ryan, he received
a frown for his trouble. There wasn't much humour left in Richie,
the dark circles round his eyes gave reason to his sour disposition.
"Come here, both
of you," the strange old man beckoned to them.
The elder moved without
hesitation, he loved the source of most of the waves that ever
possessed the sea of his life, and he trusted him implicitly.
The younger took a few moments to make his decision, but Methos
was glad when he eventually slunk forward. The web that had been
spun over millennia was finally coming to completion, he could
feel it, and the wild youth was the silk that made up the final
strand. The Savage had been his reference since Tomas had deemed
it fit to place another player in the game, which was only fully
known in the old man's head. This wasn't the big picture, it was
only a tiny piece, protected and brought to fruition by a crippled
old man whose age had never quite been ascertained. Yet it was
important, and one of it's key roles walking away would have meant
that the fragile links of coincidence had finally failed.
The gaze, that watched
Methos lazily throw himself down onto the cushions beside his
comrade, was suspicious and narrowed in cool separation, but the
youth could not fight the urge to move forward and lower his defences.
It had been a long time since anyone had even offered him such
familiarity, and he needed it; Ryan may have grown up on the streets,
relying on number one, but he had needed friends, in Angie, in
Donna, and his solitary journey had cut deep into his soul. His
stare shifted from the relaxed Immortal to his upright, poised
associate, and the young man found himself transfixed by the white
stare he found in the gentle visage. There was no sight there,
he knew it, but still Richie felt a touch on him; this creature
was not even ordinary to an Immortal. The wild being caught his
more familiar companion look down at his hands, and he was left
in the private moment with the blind ancient. Those pale irises
were hypnotic in their purity. Yet, just as the helpless soul
felt itself begin to slip into the colourless depth, the moment
was broken by a wide, welcoming smile. The skin on Tomas' face
folded in creases so deep there was no doubt that they had been
made through years of such a motion, and he held out his hands
up to the figure before him.
he waved him down beside him.
If anyone else had
called him Boy, or Savage, the street punk would have probably
decked them, but from this mouth, it was completely without offence.
Slowly, his instincts still reluctant to let go of his defensive
position, he sunk onto the softness of the feather seating. Tomas
was sat some way back on the massive pile, and so the young man
came face to face with Methos once more as he finally gave in
to the weakness in his knees. He merely blinked at the wide grin
on the dark man's face, not easy enough with the situation to
allow anymore expression.
the elderly form beside him nodded and the youth started as a
light palm was laid on the back of his hand.
Still, he resisted
the urge to pull out of reach.
"Now, you must
have quite a few questions," Tomas began his blank gaze once
again seeming to look into his guest's soul.
Richie took a breath,
there were suddenly a mass of thoughts in his head as he relaxed
and let them in. Confusion was putting it mildly; yet, it was
peevishness which found him first and he glared across at Adam.
know?" he asked tartly.
"About me, yes,"
the other took the curtness in his stride, "about this, no
not directly. Tomas is a very well kept secret."
The old man laughed
and added, "Methos had been playing decoy for me for five
thousand years - I am too old to spend my time running from Watchers
and our own kind, so he set about creating himself the oldest
living Immortal. And I must say he's done a magnificent job, no
one has found me who wasn't meant to in all that time."
"So you expected
me?" the youth enquired incredulously, he was practical by
nature and prophecy was a little hard to swallow.
Tomas shrugged vaguely, "I know my characters by feeling,
Richie; Methos I knew as Fox about a year before he arrived in
my life, cunning, careful, a little too cynical for his own good,"
he smiled and the man in question snorted in response. "MacLeod
is my Warrior, proud, honourable, strong, and he will know it
soon. You, well, you appeared in my dreams only a few months ago,
and your name reflects what I recognised; wild, dangerous, unpredictable."
Richie bowed his head
as he listened, chilled by the description, but well aware that
it was true. It was only another reminder of how much his life
had changed and the words hurt. Whether his companion heard the
change in his breathing as a sigh was held back form his lips,
or something else told him of the emotion in the spirit close
by, the hand on his squeezed protectively and the voice was soft
as he was told, "Don't despair of it, Boy, what is, is, you
can only learn from it and you will heal."
"Duncan has had
every contact he knows scouring half the world for you,"
Adam added warmly.
the young man enquired tentatively, but there was hope in his
soul; he hadn't dared discover the fate of his one time mentor
"He beat the Dark
Quickening," the Watcher nodded firmly and smiled at the
relief in Ryan's sad eyes. "You didn't know?"
There was no reply
- the young man had no words to explain the mixture of emotions
that were inside him whenever the Highlander was mentioned. He
was angry at the Scot for what he had done, he had sent him to
hell, a cold, lonely place from which escape was near impossible.
Yet, there was also the knowledge that it had been an external
influence that had turned him against everything he knew and it
muted the rage sometimes when he was in contact with the rational
part of his psyche. It also warmed his soul to know that the Clansman
had cared about his fate. Yet, he was not sure how he could return
to a friendship which had been built on so much trust, that putting
it back together was like trying to mend fine china in a thousand
pieces. He was glad his teacher was well, the pure evil in his
eyes the last time they had met had destroyed his world, at least
that was gone. The young man felt his eyes sting hot and the view
before him misted; he glared rapidly down at the burning red cushion
below him trying to hide the momentary weakness.
was as perceptive as usual and pressed on, "these names may
sound absurd, but humour an old man in his delusions. I see a
path in my mind, at least I suppose it's a path, I have no idea
what one looks like, an it winds its way through the ages, picking
up travellers from time to time, and putting the down in their
lives where they are supposed to be. Each of the travellers has
a name, and you are the last, Richie, my Savage, you bring the
path, which I have weeded over the centuries, to an end."
That was deep, and
a tired brain pushed past the significance, unable to deal with
it at that time. Instead, Ryan focused on the strange old creature.
"How old are you?"
he questioned quietly.
A chuckle escaped Adam's
lips as he heard the question, and he collapsed back down on the
cushions from where he had been leant on his elbow. It was a sign
of exasperation, and he worded his feelings in a long, amused
sigh, "You don't know how many times I've asked that, and
how many times I've been fobbed off with an old man's memory."
"Your own mind
is misty before five thousand, Boy!" Tomas quipped, patting
him affectionately, "Why should I know what even you cannot
"You know, Old
Man!" Methos scoffed back, but it was a familiar argument
and the frustration in his voice had been softened over time.
"You just like the mystique."
The dark man waved
an arm in the air and glanced in mock exasperation at his young
companion; there wasn't a smile on the exhausted face, but Richie
did show some signs that his tension was easing. It saddened the
old man to see the traces of torture in the handsome visage, he
had suffered his own share of troubles, but age had been on his
side by the time they'd accosted him, and had made them more bearable.
In a few hundred years, maybe MacLeod's betrayal wouldn't show
in his eyes anymore - time had a funny way of soothing the emotions
- but for now, it was painful. So much turmoil in such a young
soul - Methos concluded that they were lucky there was any Richard
The Watcher held the
gaze that fell on him, reading it, sympathising with the damp
sheen that rested on the bright blue eyes. There wasn't anything
he could say, he had known the youth too long to make the sometimes
open talk of strangers possible, but not long enough for the compassion
of close friends. Instead, he nodded cordially and deliberately
redirected his attention to Tomas; it worked, and he smiled to
himself as the silent form followed his lead.
A hand touched his
shoulder as the old man took in breath to continue the conversation.
Adam understood well enough what it meant; he was an inconvenience
to the conversation, a link with the past, but an awkward half-stranger.
He had experienced Tomas' ability to soothe even the most troubled
soul, and his presence was only going to get in the way of the
wizened creature's gentle art. It was time to make himself scarce.
In perfect accord with
his ancient comrade, the Immortal sat up and announced before
the next sentence had begun, "Before this goes any farther,
I need a beer. Can I get you one Richie?"
The youth looked startled
by the sudden movement, but he settled quickly and shook his head
Methos shrugged with his usual easy grin and clambered to his
feet. "You want some of that disgusting stuff you call tea,
He didn't need to wait
for a reply, the old man would say yes - the Immortal had never
fathomed how his friend found any pleasant taste in the grey-green
stew that was his habitual beverage. Methos had learnt very early
on in their relationship, that Tomas' `acquired taste' must have
taken a few millennia.
Of Part 1