TITLE: Interesting Things Happen on the Way to the Forum
DISCLAIMER: Joss owns Buffy, Davis/Panzer owns Highlander, MGM/Gekko owns Stargate. History owns Commodus, Cyrus, Daniel, Marcus Aurelius and the Gladiators.
SPOILERS: Buffy is pre-show. Highlander is set after Methuselah's Gift. Stargate is pre-show. Also, pre-series for "In a Not So Broken World".
Summary: Giles received a disturbing call from a friend and thinks about the old days.
October 1984, Cardiff England
"Hello?" the cultured English voice answered as the wring of the phone disturbed the quiet of the house.
"Marcus," the accented voice called down the line.
"Cyrus?" Rupert said surprised. He had not heard from the Persian in nearly fifty years. "Its Rupert Giles now, Cyrus."
"Yes... modern times," Cyrus smirked. "At the moment, I'm known as Omar Javeed."
"Yes, I can see why," the Watcher said with his own smirk. "How may I help you, my old friend?"
"Have you heard from Daniel recently, Rupert?" his voice was laced with concern.
"The last time I spoke with him was in January. He said he was trying to keep the Methuselah's stone from being reassembled."
"Yes," Cyrus agreed, "I heard from him in February. He's been off the radar too long. I'm concerned about him."
"Do you think he was beheaded?" Giles questioned, "Or if the Watchers have discovered his infiltration?"
"You know Daniel can blend in with any culture anywhere. Its not likely that his presence would be discovered that easily," Cyrus' counsel continued, "And, the infant has learned to mask his Quickening so he should not have a problem in that department."
"Well, if you hear from him, let me know," Giles said with a frown.
"And you the same, old friend," Cyrus said then hung up the phone.
Giles put the receiver down after the call ended.
"Rupert?" Olivia asked from the doorway to his bedroom.
But, he did not hear her. That phone call had sparked a long dead memory.
180 After the Common Era, The Empire of Rome
After his son killed him with a small, thin blade to the lungs, Marcus Aurelius began planning his revenge.
He took his field dagger and cut his long hair and long beard. Then he snuck into a village and stole some peasant clothes from a line, but he left his regal armor in the place of the stolen clothes. They would be able to sell it for more money than their land was worth.
His disguise complete, Marcus set upon the road to Rome.
Purposefully uncaring, he set up a small camp at the roadside a week into his journey. That night, a band of bandits robbed him, beat him and left him unconscious as per his plan. Early morning came and the slave traders found him. They put him into one of their traveling cages and continued on their way.
Later that day, Marcus awoke and felt the presence of another of his kind. Looking around, he noticed a man who looked like he might be from Egypt, perhaps a Bedouin, watching him.
The man had strange symbols on his cheeks and forehead. Thick black hair and beard almost as wild as it was unkempt.
The man nodded to him quietly; letting him know he was the one Marcus was seeking.
Marcus nodded regally, just a slight tilt to his head, in response.
Later, they had tried to communicate, including Latin Marcus used both Egyptian and Greek, but neither one understood the other’s spoken languages.
Even though they could not understand each other, they used silent communication used by men on the battlefield, a primitive form of sign language.
The man from the Middle East, Cyrus, Marcus later learned his name, learned the language surprisingly quickly by listening and observation. A week after they had met he had learned the basic trade language of the area.
Finally, the caravan reached a market town.
The trader stopped his caravan and set up shop in a popular slave trading area. There were fifteen slaves, including Marcus and Cyrus.
The Master of the Games came to inspect the men the trader wanted to sell. Both Marcus and Cyrus were chosen with seven other men. The Master of the Games took them to his homestead.
When they reached the homestead, both Cyrus and Marcus felt the buzz of a third Immortal.
Everyone there was interested in the newcomers, so they couldn’t pinpoint who the Quickening was coming from.
But Cyrus recognized the Immortal once he spotted him. Nudging Marcus in the arm, he nodded towards a sandy blonde haired, young looking man.
“Daniel,” he whispered to the Immortal standing next to him.
Later, the new slaves were stripped, bathed, deloused and dressed in loin coverings. They were then handed sackcloth for clothes and itchy, woolen blankets. Marcus felt as if he were in prison though they were not mistreated.
Their new owner made his speech, which Marcus barely paid attention to, about the games and the roar of the crowd, and then filed the new gladiators into their cells.
Surprisingly, Marcus and Cyrus were able to share a cell with Daniel.
Flabbergasted, Daniel asked, “How did you get captured?” in Cyrus’ Persian language.
“In a stupid move,” Cyrus haltingly explained in Marcus’ common language as he had answered Daniel in his native language. “I was killed in battle. When I came to, I was already in the cage.”
Cyrus looked at his new friend, “This is Marcus,” he indicated the other man. “Daniel,” Cyrus explained, indicating the blonde Immortal, “my pupil.”
Marcus and Daniel clasped forearms in the formal greeting of warriors.
“You are Marcus Aurelius?!” Daniel exclaimed in a hissed whisper fluidly in Marcus’ native language.
Marcus gave a half smile, “That was a long time ago. I am now Flavius.” He said making up a name on the spur of the moment.
“Alright, Flavius,” Daniel and Cyrus smiled.
Thus began their lives as gladiators.
Going through their training, all three Immortals made themselves seem less experienced than they really were. So, the Game Master just considered them easy kills.
Their first time in the pits marked their rise to greatness as Daniel, Marcus, and Cyrus bested their enemies with a grand finesse unseen in the gladiator pits until then.
As they rose in the ranks of the gladiators, Commodus lost favor among the Senators. In order to regain favor, Commodus decided to host one hundred days of games that brought gladiator combat back to the Great Coliseum of Rome.
Eventually, Flavius, Cyrus and Daniel won their freedom from the games and went their separate ways.
192 After the Common Era, The Empire of Rome
In October that year, a destructive fire burned down the Temple of Pax, the Temple of Vesta, and part of the Imperial state palace.
Arson was suspected but never confirmed.
In November, Commodus held Plebeian Games in which he shot hundreds of animals with arrows and javelins every morning, and fought as a gladiator every afternoon, fixing the matches to win all of the bouts.
In December he announced his intention to inaugurate the year 193 as both consul and gladiator on 1 January.
Prefect Laetus, disgusted with what was going on, formed a conspiracy with Eclectus to supplant Commodus with Pertinax, taking Marcia into their confidence.
On 31 December, Marcia poisoned Commodus’ food, but he vomited up the poison and the conspirators therefore hired someone.
They spoke to the wrestler Narcissus, but he was severely ill that day. So, he sent his friend Flavius to do the deed.
Commodus was enjoying his bath at an odd hour during the day, when he heard a noise outside his private bath with the ocularis shining sunlight directly in the water. He startled to see a strange man standing just outside the interior doorway. “What are you doing here?” he asked as he looked at the other man in confusion. ‘Maybe he is a new servant and does not know that I wish to remain undisturbed at these times,’ he thought to himself.
Flavius remained silent as he continued to watch his son. Striking blue eyes glared at the younger man with hate.
Commodus looked at the man for a long moment, wondering why he had not spoken. “Answer me,” he commanded.
Instead of speaking, Flavius walked steadily closer to the bath. As the light revealed more and more of his body and face, Commodus’ composure slipped.
Commodus recognized the man’s frame first, but put the suspicion behind him. Next, he noticed the man’s height. Finally, realization dawned as blond hair color and blue eyes were brought into the light.
“No,” Commodus protested as he shook his head and got out of the bath at the other end, away from the apparition. “You are dead.”
The apparition smirked as he moved around the bath. “That is correct, my son, I am dead,” Flavius toyed with his son.
Commodus was unable to reach his sword as Flavius lunged at his son and wrapped his hands around the younger man’s neck.
Upon Commodus’ death, the Senate declared him a public enemy and restored the original name to the city of Rome and its institutions. Commodus' statues were thrown down. His body was buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian.
And, Flavius road away from Rome on an ass, never to gaze upon his beloved city for many a long year.
Giles had not expected to hear from Cyrus anytime in this century. He was flabbergasted to learn that Daniel, his student, was missing. But, at the moment, he did not have the resources to put together a search.
"Rupert!" Olivia said a little louder.
Embarrassed blue eyes turned to his on-again-off-again lover. He was surprised that he had not noticed her presence much sooner.
"Yes, Olivia?" he asked with a smile.
"Come to bed," she smiled back at him as she flashed one of her dark skinned legs at him from beneath the terrycloth robe.
"Certainly," Giles said as he followed her into the other room.