One week after his discussion with Sandoval found Methos lying sprawled on Duncan's couch and sipping a glass of - very old - brandy. That was one of the more unexpected but fun aspects of Immortality. A bottle of brandy that MacLeod had purchased and then forgot about over a hundred years previously, now became an exceptionally fine drink, especially to share with friends.
He glanced over the room with a fond look on his face, one he quickly disguised, he did have a reputation to protect after all! The reason for his happiness was the sight of Liam and Sandoval engaged in a game of chess, calm, happy and relaxing in each other's company. Finally, the kid seemed to be getting his equilibrium back, the dreams which had haunted him for days seemed to be ending. Sandoval had spent as much time as possible with him, the Taelons coming, for now, far down on his list of priorities.
Glancing over at the board, Methos saw that the kid was winning again. His ability at games was phenomenal. He'd played him a couple of times, the first time with a slight air of superiority - after all, ancient Immortal, master strategist, millennia of experience in battle, it was a foregone conclusion he'd win.
Wrong. Liam had mopped the floor with him. Sandoval seemed to be the only one to challenge him. Methos wasn't sure if it was because he was CVI enhanced, or if it was because the knack for puzzles Liam had inherited had come partly from him. For whatever reason, it was a joy to watch. They got caught up in the thrill of the battle of will and intellect and then when it was all over they'd laugh, smile and reset the pieces for another game.
Methos had to admit he was happy they had come too. It had been a few years since he'd spent a large amount of time with Duncan, and he'd missed him more than he thought possible. He'd never thought he'd find an Immortal he could be friends with and with whom he felt comfortable and secure. Duncan and the wacky wonderful Amanda were one of a very exclusive group, they took time to know the man, not the legend.
Duncan had welcomed them with open arms. He'd been surprised at the company Methos was keeping - Companion Protectors were not exactly low profile, Methos definitely was. The other two men had been willing to trust Methos' avowal of MacLeod's integrity and honesty. Liam had simply said that if he was Methos' friend then he trusted him. Consequently, Duncan had been told the whole story. Not much could shock an Immortal, the passage of time saw to that. They'd managed it, though. His jaw had literally dropped as he'd heard their story. Coming as no surprise to Methos, Duncan had joined the growing little band of those who felt an instinctive need to protect the kid. It was a bit peculiar; he'd been functioning as an adult since the day he was born, but his air of vulnerability still tugged at a person's heart. Helping him made you feel better about yourself.
The sound of 'checkmate' being spoken drew Methos out of his reverie. Looking over, he saw that Sandoval had beaten his son - this time, anyway. Liam let out a mighty yawn and Sandoval gave him an exasperated look. "Go to bed, Liam. You're tired, rest!"
Liam grumbled. Methos laughed quietly and locked eyes with Sandoval and mouthed, 'Kids!'. Sandoval grinned back at him. Oblivious to their amusement, Liam murmured goodnight and staggered off to bed.
Duncan arrived back from the store about an hour later. The two Immortals and Watcher settled down for a quiet drink and chat. The cry from Liam's room cut off the conversation as though someone had thrown a switch.
"Damn, I thought we'd seen the last of these dreams," said Sandoval as he headed off to Liam's room with Methos at his heels. Duncan said he'd go make some coffee; it looked like it was going to be a long night.
The other two men went in to find Liam huddled in a ball on the floor, rocking back and forth crying quietly. Sandoval knelt down beside him and said, "The same dream?"
Liam looked up at him with haunted eyes and said, "There was more this time. I don't understand. I don't think it's you I saw die, I think it was an alternate like Jason. Another version of you. Why am I seeing this? It hurts! I don't want to see you die, ever!"
There was only one thing Sandoval could think of to do. He pulled Liam to his feet and gently manoeuvred him back to the bed. Sandoval sat against the headboard and pulled Liam forward till his son's head was nestled on his shoulder and told him to rest. Methos left quietly and went to join Duncan.
An hour or so later Sandoval came out, tiredly rubbing at his eyes.
"This is more serious than I thought. Liam says he's seen visions before and with his psychic gifts he's feeling these dreams far too intensely. I think I know someone who can help. It'll mean more guests for you, though. Duncan, is that okay? If it's not we'll move Liam back to Washington first."
Duncan, his concern causing his Scottish brogue to come to the fore, said, "Aye, it's all right. Anybody that can help the kid is welcome."
Sandoval looked at Methos, who simply nodded his assent. Smiling his thanks Sandoval placed the call.
"Hi Peter. It's Sandoval... Yeah, I know it's been a long time. Is your Dad back again? How's Lo Si?... Great. Look, Peter, I need help. Someone very important to me is experiencing dreams and visions. Can you or your father come? Please... You both can? Oh thank you! I'm in Seacouver at... yeah, ask for MacLeod. Thanks again... yeah, see you soon."
Sandoval looked up.
"They'll be here tomorrow night."
"Who?" asked a highly curious Methos.
"Kwai Chang and Peter Caine. They're Shaolin priests."
The two priests arrived the next evening. The two Immortals were extremely curious about them. Liam was withdrawn, he just hoped they'd be able to help him. Sandoval was looking forward to seeing them; if past experiences were anything to go by they were all about to enter the realm of the mystic and bizarre!
Peter and his father were not exactly what the others were expecting - priests in comfortable, rumpled travel clothes with long hair loose around their shoulders were a bit of surprise. The air of serenity and stillness that they carried with them was apparent to them all, it was almost a physical presence.
Peter broke the silence that had greeted their arrival by grabbing Sandoval in a huge bear-hug, saying, "Hey, Ron! Long time no see!"
The stifled laughter of the two Immortals and the astonished look on Liam's face cut the remaining tension. Caine just gave a long suffering sigh; his son's exuberance was something he'd learned to live with. Not even becoming a priest had managed to dampen his wild spirit entirely. He privately thought this was a good thing; not that he'd tell Peter, of course - gently teasing him was much more fun.
Duncan showed the two to the guest room they'd be sharing, apologising as he did so for not having separate rooms. The two quickly assured him that one room was more than sufficient. As they settled in, Sandoval revealed another hidden talent and took over the kitchen. What emerged was a repast fit for a king. Duncan, Methos - they'd decided to give his real name - and Liam had never had such wonderful Chinese cuisine. As for Peter and Caine, they'd been lured out by the amazing aromas coming from the kitchen. Caine said, "This time you must give me the recipe. Please."
Sandoval grinned and said, "We'll see. Maybe."
An unspoken agreement made sure that any talk was saved till they were all finished dinner. They congregated in the living room. The two Immortals took the couch. Sandoval sat on one of the chairs, Liam sat on the floor leaning against the chair. Peter took the other chair and Caine assumed his familiar position sitting cross-legged on the floor. Both groups caused him to give curious glances. There were strong bonds at work here. Peter felt it too, he concentrated more on Duncan and Methos, the auras coming from them were so strange.
Methos broke the silence.
"Well, who goes first? Do we get to hear how you met Sandoval or do you want to hear our story first?
Sandoval looked at Peter with a warning in his eye. Peter couldn't help it; he laughed.
"Oh come on, Ron! It was funny!"
Liam looked up with his first sign of genuine laughter in a while. He said, "Oh, this I want to hear."
Peter grinned and said, "Where to start? First, I haven't always been a priest. I started out as a cop, my foster father was one and I'd grown up watching police shows on TV always wanting be the good guy. I was very good detective if a bit reckless about personal safety at times.
"Pop, will you stop rolling your eyes!
"Anyway, I always seemed to end up with any case that involved the mystic or even the slightly unusual and somehow or other Pop always seemed to end up involved too. As you can tell, I had some very understanding superiors and partners.
"About six years before the Companions came, I was working on what seemed to be a simple case of theft. The only reason I was in on it at all was the item was an ancient Chinese artefact, a dagger to be precise, reputed to be cursed. Pop was called in as an expert on Chinese antiquities.
"The thieves turned out to be acting on orders from their boss, a very powerful Chinese crime boss. I knew one of them from previous run-ins over the years. I'd put out an APB for him to be brought in for questioning. That's where the fun started. It wasn't him that I found sitting in the holding cell when I went in to question him. The uniforms had arrested Sandoval."
"What?!" exclaimed Liam, totally flabbergasted.
Peter grinned at the chagrined expression on Sandoval's face.
"Ron was in town undercover working on an unrelated FBI case. Unfortunately, the long ponytail made him look exactly like Jack Wong; I mean, the resemblance was uncanny! Let's just say it was a funny moment and leave it at that. Apparently Jack is an extremely distant relation of one of Ron's aunts. They could be twins if you put them side by side."
Sandoval butted in, "Apart form the hair, the attitude, the fact that not only is Jack a gangster, he's a creep too!"
The disgust in his tone and the embarrassment was finally too much for Liam and the others; they erupted into howls of laughter. Eventually even Sandoval joined in.
Once everyone had regained their composure, Peter continued his story.
"We sorted out the mix-up and I apologised. Ron was pulled out of his assignment and spent he next two weeks helping us solve the case, curse and all."
Sandoval took over at that point.
"The dagger was indeed cursed. I watched Peter, his Dad and some very open-minded detectives battle a curse and supernatural forces like it was an everyday occurrence. It was something I never forgot.
"Peter and I kept in touch. He told me about becoming a priest and he knew about me going to work for the Taelons. He and his dad have encountered stuff I wouldn't have believed possible. I knew they were the right people to call on this matter."
Caine spoke then.
"Before we begin, I would just like to say to the two Immortals I do know of your kind. Peter does too, though he believed they were fairy stories I made up for him in his childhood. I recognised your name, Methos; you had dealings with a Shaolin monastery several centuries ago, yes? I would be honoured to hear more of your experience at a later date.
"Now on to the matter at hand. How may we be of assistance?"
Sandoval looked at Liam for permission. He gave a slight nod of his head. Sandoval looked at the two priests and said, "This is Liam. I'm sure you recognise him as Da'an's Protector."
Upon seeing their nods of recognition, he continued, "Liam is also my son."
Peter gave an astonished gasp; even Caine blinked in surprise. The bonds between the two were obviously stronger than he had thought.
"He was injured recently and he's been staying with Methos, Duncan and myself during his recovery. However, he has also been experiencing dreams of my death. They have been upsetting him intensely. We thought they were fading away but in his latest dream, the one that made me call for your help, he saw greater detail. Liam believes these visions are of an alternate dimension, that it is not actually me he's seeing die but rather my alternate from that dimension. He's visited another alternate dimension before, so we have to assume these visions are real. What we want to know is can you help him? Either to get rid of them completely or deal with them if he can't."
Liam looked them directly in the eye for the first time and said, "Please, can you help?"
Peter and Caine exchanged a long glance. Caine spoke.
"We will try, Liam. We will try."
The first night Peter and Caine were there Liam had felt a little self-conscious when he had eventually given in to exhaustion and gone to sleep. These dreams were unnerving, he hated the fact that he woke up screaming. God, he wanted them to stop. It was stupid to feel self-conscious anyway; it wasn't recrimination or speculation that he saw in the eyes of those that had gathered to help him, it was concern. In the space of a few months he had gone from having no close friends he could really trust with his soul to having a whole group united in their concern for him. How different they were from the Resistance! Sure, he had people there he could trust in a fight, but recent events had shattered the trust that he'd had in people like Augur and even - god help him - Doors. Too many recent machinations and betrayals had blurred the already shaky bonds of trust between them. He might have talked to Lili, but she was gone, and Renee - well, Renee was Renee, he'd never talk to her about this.
Sleep eventually claimed him and once again he found himself caught up in the dream or vision or whatever this was. This alternate seemed to live in a world very much like their own; there were humans working with the Taelons and there were humans fighting them too. This alternate seemed to operate in a similar role to Sandoval, but from what he could tell his Implant seemed to have been altered like Boone's. He himself wasn't there, obviously, but it seemed Beckett was there and alive in this world.
Then the scene changed to the familiar sight of the alternate getting shot in the back as he approached the church; same church, different looking Resistance. This time he finally saw who killed him. This was what woke him up screaming.
Not even Sandoval could get him to calm down completely this time. Peter gave him a searching look and asked everyone else to leave them alone.
"What aren't you telling us, Liam?"
Liam wouldn't even meet his eyes as he half-heartedly murmured, "Nothing."
Peter gave a sad smile.
"I know enough about visions to know you've seen something you just don't want to face. Something to do with your father and not his alternate. I thought my father was dead for fifteen years. When I eventually got him back, any visions I had that concerned him freaked me out big time; I was scared I'd lose him again. I know the look. What did you see?"
Sitting there with his knees drawn up to his chest and his forehead resting on his crossed arms, Liam gave a sigh.
"I keep seeing more of the same thing. I guess it's a preview of things to come in that world. I've seen Sandoval - or to be more precise, his alternate - die on several different occasions. I've been seeing more and more of the background around him; and this time I saw who shot him. It was Beckett."
The last three words he had spoken were filled with such horror that Peter flinched silently. He had the feeling he didn't want to know the answer to this question, but that it was going to prove too important a piece of the puzzle to ignore. "Who's Beckett?"
"There she's his colleague who has obviously figured out that he's a Resistance agent placed undercover within the Taelon-Human inner circle. Here she was my mother."
Peter swore quietly; he knew it!
Liam refused to talk any more and Peter went out to bring the others up to date. The two Immortals flinched quietly and even his father looked perturbed by this new information. Sandoval grew several shades paler and dropped into the nearest seat. The last words spoken that night were his and they occupied the thoughts of the rest as they went to bed.
"In this world Beckett died in his arms, there was nothing he could do to stop it. Now he's being forced to watch the woman who would have been his mother shoot the man who would have been his father in the back."
Liam staggered into the dojo, still yawning. Obviously the others had let him sleep, but it was time to stop hiding away and rejoin the others.
His eyes finally registering what he was seeing, Liam let out a whistle of awe.
Duncan glanced round at the sound and gave a smile. He motioned with his head for Liam to come lean against one of the side walls where he and Methos were standing. He shared the kid's amazement. He and Methos had been working out, nothing serious, just generally loosening up.
Sandoval had been watching in wonder at the tiny cuts appearing and healing in front of his eyes as the two Immortals 'played'. Peter had wandered in not long after and he had been rendered speechless - a fact that would have amazed some of his former police colleagues, Sandoval was sure; he remembered the dynamo that had been Detective Caine. Then again, it wasn't every day you see your fairy tales brought to life in front of you. Caine had just given one of his patented smiles when he made his appearance; he'd been to visit one of the local Chinese apothecaries for some unspecified herbs and plants.
Anyway, when Duncan and Methos had finished, Peter and Caine took the floor. This was the sight that had astonished Liam and the two Immortals too. Sandoval had just grinned at their reaction; then again, he'd seen the Caines in action before.
Peter and Caine had started off with some Tai Chi before moving on to some Kung Fu forms, ending up facing off with each other. Duncan had seen many great martial artists over the centuries, Methos many more; even so, they had watched in awed disbelief at the display put on by the two Shaolin. The two finished and the Immortal and Liam gave an amazed burst of applause. The priests turned, bowed and gave the traditional Shaolin palm in fist salute, Peter spoiling the over-all solemn effect with the huge grin on his face. Caine sighed; some things never changed.
Later that day, after a leisurely breakfast, Caine turned the conversation to Liam.
"Peter and I have discussed this and we have one option that we think will help, if you are willing to try."
Liam exchanged a long glance with Sandoval and the Immortals before replying. "Please, I have to do something. I'll try."
Giving a reassuring smile, Caine continued, "We think the best solution would be to put you into a meditative state that will allow us to direct your subconscious and your visions. Peter and I have done this before and I believe you mentioned last night that you have done something similar when you talked to Ha'gel.
"Peter will accompany you on this journey and I will monitor you both to ensure no danger comes to you. Peter and yourself will attempt to interact with the mind of your father's alternate. We are unsure what will occur then. You might only be able to break the connection drawing you to that reality, you might also be able to warn him, either way we believe we can stop the visions causing you such pain.
Are you sure you wish to proceed? It will not work if you harbour doubts."
Taking a deep breath, Liam said, "I'll do it."
Caine, using the herbs he had obtained earlier, prepared a mixture for Peter and Liam to drink. While he did so Peter took Liam through some meditation techniques that would help him relax and so ease the work of the mixture.
Caine announced that the mixture needed a couple of hours to steep. Peter grimaced noticeably; anything that took that long usually tasted foul. Caine suggested that Liam and Sandoval take a walk, Sandoval being barred from taking part in what was to come - his presence would only further confuse Liam's subconscious at that point.
Sandoval and Liam grabbed some coats and left talking quietly. Caine took that opportunity to quiz Methos while Duncan tentatively asked if it would be too distracting for Peter to give him some instruction on some of the moves he had watched earlier that morning. Caine had sent them away with a wave of his hand saying,
"Anything to keep Peter occupied would be a good thing right now. Go."
Early evening approached quickly, Liam and Sandoval returned. The Immortals and Sandoval were to remain outside the room to give the priests the opportunity to work. Before Liam went in each of the other three men approached him, one by one they laid a hand on his face and wished him well, last came Sandoval, he lingered a moment longer his eyes burning with a message of concern, Liam smiled and reached out and placed his hand on Sandoval's face mirroring his father's action. Then he turned and entered the room where Peter and Caine waited.
Sandoval, Duncan and Methos took up vigil in the living room.
Liam and Peter sat cross-legged on the floor and back to back. Caine watched closely, one hand on each of their shoulders, ready to pull them out of the trance the second he sensed danger.
Liam felt strangely free and light, the last time he had felt like this was when he had gone in through the dimensional doorways to rescue Augur and Maiya. He felt a familiar presence, turning to look at his side he was greatly reassured by the presence of Peter. In the last day or so he had become very impressed with the younger of the two Shaolin, he trusted him.
Peter spoke. "Liam, I want you to think about this alternate version of your father. Hold an image of him in your mind, a happy scene from one of your visions. Have you done that?"
In a hushed voice Liam said, "I see him. I see him, Peter!"
"Good, Liam, good. Now what I want you to do is focus even more strongly, this time on his voice. The timbre, his manner of speaking, concentrate on it more and more until it is the only other thing you hear other than my voice."
Liam's expression told of his intense concentration. Finally he said, "I have it."
Peter sighed. This was where things were about to get complicated.
"Liam, I want you to pay close attention to this. I have focused on you now, on your heartbeat. I will monitor you, but I can't go any further with you from here. In a few moments I want you to call out with all your soul and try to make contact with him. Make him understand who and what you are. Do what you think is right about warning him about his impending danger.
"Be clear on this. At the first sign of danger to you, I will pull you out. In doing so I will break forever your psychic link to this alternate. Do what you can, but be as quick as you can. If there is no danger and you've fulfilled your objectives, I will pull you out. Be careful, my friend."
Feeling Peter's concern and heeding his warnings, Liam called out with all his heart and soul. At first he feared he was having no success; and then he felt his consciousness touch the edges of the alternate's mind. He was dreaming! Perfect!
'Can you hear me?'
He felt the confused stirring of the alternate's mind. Hastening to reassure him, Liam said, 'No, relax! You're not imagining things. Sandoval, please listen!'
'How do you my name? Who are you? What are you?!'
'Please calm down. This could take a while and I don't know if I've got that long.
'Okay, where to start? Your name is Ronald Sandoval. You work for the Taelons. You also work with the Resistance against the Taelons. Your CVI differs from that of other human agents in that it was engineered so that there was no motivational imperative in favour of the Taelons, although they are unaware of that fact. You work closely with another implant called Boone; he is fanatically devoted to the Taelons and doesn't really trust you. You've also met another of the implants, a woman. Her name is Beckett. True?'
Stunned, Sandoval said, 'This is impossible. You can't know all this!'
Liam continued, 'This is where things get a little bizarre. I swear this is the truth; I only hope you believe me.
'I'm from another dimension. In that dimension Boone was the agent that worked for the Resistance, not you.'
'There's more. I'm your son.'
'Now I know this is a hallucination. That's ridiculous!'
'Sandoval, will you listen! I'm your son! How else do you think I know all this?
'In my dimension there was an escaped prisoner of the Taelons, a member of the Kimera. He took over Sandoval and joined with Siobhan Beckett in an effort to preserve his race - he was the last of his kind. I was the result, the only one of my kind. Two human parents, one alien.
'I matured to an adult in the space of a day. Ha'gel, my Kimera father, is dead. Beckett died when her CVI broke down. Sandoval is the only parent I have left. Recently we came to an understanding and I found out some of the reasons for his seemingly traitorous actions with regards to humanity. This new closeness, though, has - how can I put this? Opened up my psychic senses to his possible alternates in other dimensions. I have been experiences visions of you. That's why I'm here. You're in danger.'
In a tone both stunned and distrustful, Sandoval said, 'I'll listen. I won't promise more than that.'
Liam sighed his relief.
'That's all I ask. Beckett suspects your Resistance involvement. I've seen the same vision more than once. She shoots you in the back outside the church that is the Resistance HQ. I've never seen anything so horrifying in my life. I realise she can't be trusted in your world; in mine she was my mother! I don't ever want to see a vision like that again. I don't think my heart could stand it.
'I don't know what you can do to stop it. I just had to warn you. When I get back to my own dimension this link will be severed forever. Please trust me and take care. I don't know if it helps to know that somewhere out there you kind of have a son. My father and I are reconciled, we're together. I will think of you often. Be well, stay safe. Do not trust the Taelons. Then again, you can't trust some humans either. Take any chances you get to have some freedom and cherish them.'
After that emotionally charged speech both were silent. Very faintly, a voice could be heard calling, 'Liam!'
'I'm being called home. Take care of yourself. Goodbye.'
With the break in contact, the alternate woke up. After that surreal experience his perception of reality was forever changed. Willing to believe the impassioned voice, he placed a secure and untraceable call to Lili.
'Lili, I have a problem. Beckett suspects my Resistance activities. We're going to have to come up with a plan...'
Liam woke up, feeling refreshed and relieved. In a spontaneous gesture he hugged Peter and Caine.
"Thank you both!"
A much relieved trio of Duncan, Methos and Sandoval sat that night and listened to Peter and Liam recount their tale. As much as could be done for the alternate had been done.
Almost simultaneously two globals signalled messages. Exchanging a concerned glance, Liam and Sandoval opened them and responded to the messages.
Liam said "Damn!" and Sandoval said "I knew it was too good to last."
Sandoval went first.
"I've been recalled to the Mothership. My leave is over. Zo'or wants me back by tomorrow."
Liam then said, "The Resistance cell leaders that know about us want to know how long you've known about me and why they weren't told."
Methos gave a resigned sigh and summed up what they were all feeling.
The next day the leave-taking was actually quite happy. There was a bond between this group now and Liam was the thing that bound them all together. A diverse friendship tested under extreme emotion and stronger for the testing.
Peter and Caine had elected to remain with Duncan for a few days; Methos was returning to Washington DC with Liam and Sandoval.
For the first time in weeks Liam had a relaxed and carefree grin on his face as he said, "Keep in touch. Be safe, my friends."
The three of them had returned the night before and went their separate ways. Methos was going to contact Joe and get him to intercede with the Watcher council. Sandoval would be allowed to pass information along to the Resistance as well as the council. Liam accepted that Sandoval had to be kept in place and above suspicion. Much as it went against everything he held dear, he knew Sandoval still had to be allowed to implement Zo'or's schemes.
However, Sandoval accepted that the Resistance would always try to thwart these schemes; in fact, he counted on it. The fact that so many previous schemes had been stalled or completely destroyed by Resistance activities was one of the things that had allowed him to sleep at nights. Now there was an even better opportunity. He'd be able to pass Liam information when he could that would give the Resistance a better chance at screwing up Zo'or's plans. He'd still have to implement them, but hopefully now more would fail to come to fruition. He and Liam would have to take greater care - the Taelons were not stupid, they'd realise the Resistance was getting intelligence from the inside; but both were willing to take the risk.
Besides making their case for them, Methos was going to be preparing for Duncan's arrival. While the Caines were staying with him he was going to be making preparations to close up his Seacouver house for a while and leasing out the dojo. The two Immortals had talked; their friends were going to be in even greater danger than before. Methos had tentatively suggested something and had been delighted when Duncan had enthusiastically agreed.
Duncan would be sharing an apartment with Methos. They had appointed themselves the unofficial bodyguards for the two Companion agents. Also, the Watchers were going to be ordered to assign teams to Liam and his father. They had been watching people for millennia, it was highly unlikely they'd be caught at it. It would ensure that the mortals would be safe - any action taken against them would be able to be reported and dealt with.
Both Duncan and Methos realised that by standing by their friends there was now a greater chance of their own secret being revealed. They decided that it was worth the risk. The two mortals were probably the best chance that humanity had for keeping its freedom in the years to come. It was time the Immortals got involved and helped.
Liam knew full well the plans that were being implemented by the others. All he had to do was deal with the Resistance. He entered the church and descended in the elevator. Upon entering he saw Augur, Dr. Park, Renee, Doors and a few others. None of them looked happy. Deciding to remain civil, he simply said, "Hi."
Doors, in full rant, said, "Hi. What do you mean, 'hi'? Do you realise the potential disaster you've created by telling Sandoval about yourself? How could you be so reckless?!"
Furious, Liam glanced at the others and saw similar sentiment expressed in their faces. He stood there thinking How dare he? - more realistically, it was, How dare they have the gall? Giving in to that sentiment, Liam hissed back, "Hypocrites, you're all hypocrites! Let's take a look at you all, shall we? In this room I see a man who has decided he cares more about his money than freedom. Oh he'll still help if it suits him. Palmer, you told me once you've been Resistance since day one. Why is it then that you'll still do deals with the enemy if it'll help Doors International. Sure you say it's all for the greater good in the long run but do you really think that excuses it.
"Then there's you, Jonathan. The great leader of the cause. A cause you seem to think should exist to suit your whims. You've switched tacks so many times I'm getting dizzy. You go into partnership with Zo'or insisting that it's all right, you know what you're doing. We're supposed to just trust that the great and mighty Jonathan Doors hasn't miscalculated with the fate of the planet at stake.
"Then there's the Resistance. I was asked to assume command. Why is it then I'm still having to deal with factions more loyal to their own agenda than to accepting an overall leadership. If I thought for a second things would be better if Doors resumed command I'd stand down in a second. Those I've talked to within our ranks are split though. Not everyone wants him back and nobody else but me seems willing to take the job.
"Let's get one thing clear, now. I'll never betray the Resistance. I wish I could say the same about the Resistance betraying me, but we all know better, don't we?
"Sandoval was placed where he was for a reason and he's done everything he's done under orders. He reports to his superiors who pass the information on to the appropriate people and organisations. He's willing to pass information to me to allow us to stop more and more of the Taelon's schemes, nothing would make him happier."
His eyes cold and hard, Liam scanned the room.
"I trust him far more than I trust anyone in this room. Learn to deal with this. Sandoval's superiors know about me and we're both protected. None of the people I trust with my life are in this room and precautions have been taken. Anybody trying to deal with Sandoval in their own way will be dealt with, severely.
"Palmer, Augur, get those looks off your faces. You had my trust and you abused it. You want it back you'll have to earn it.
"You've had your say, I've had mine. If it has cleared the air then that's all well and good. No matter your personal feelings, as of now I'm back and I'm resuming full control of this group."
In the silence that followed Liam turned and left the chamber.
The next day, Liam returned to the Embassy and went to see Da'an. The Taelon regally inclined his head and said, "Welcome back, Major."
Liam smiled, nodded his head and went off to his own area. There he contacted Sandoval and arranged for them to go out to dinner. Sandoval warned him that for them to be seen in public would cause all sorts of wild and inaccurate rumours.
"Sandoval, it'll shake everyone up, including the Taelons. Besides I don't care what anyone else thinks. Let them wonder. Was that a yes or no?"
Sandoval rolled his eyes. He had the feeling life was about to get far more interesting.
"Of course I'm game. It should be fun. See you later."
That settled, Liam started work.