The building was large and dark
against the flood lit estate, an old crumbling structure amongst
newly built, steel monsters. The rest of the industrial storage
area had grown out of this one warehouse and then left it to rot
like a forgotten parent. Mac had felt Peters as soon as he'd arrived
and parked the T-Bird, but the presence had gone the moment he'd
climbed out of the car. Without having to check, the Highlander
knew his younger opponent would be waiting inside. The other Immortal
was not playing cat and mouse anymore, he was really quite a straight
forward person and games were not totally his style. The pre-battle
strutting had been what he felt was expected of him, more than
what he enjoyed.
Jackson greeted calmly, as the other's presence impinged itself
on both their consciousness.
He was stood in the middle of
the only open space in the warehouse, under a stark electric light.
The harsh white glow bleached most of the colour out of his clothes
and face, leaving him a ghost in a pale expanse of floor. The
rest of the large room was covered in palettes and rubbish, it
appeared that the area in which Bran's pupil stood had been cleared
purposefully. Peter's had planned this meeting and he waited in
his web with his sword in hand.
"Nice place you have here,"
the Scotsman commented dryly.
He slipped the katana out of
it's resting place and flipped it into a ready grip with quiet
ease. This may have been his opponent's ground, but there did
not appear to be any hidden traps: this was a battle of skill,
not wits. It seemed that even through his obsession, Jackson Peters
had at least a vestige of honour.
They circled each other for a
moment, weapons held loosely, in calm observation as they appreciated
each other's form. There was hatred in the younger's eyes, but
he was no fool, and as their swords met for the first time, he
showed he had the skill to match his claims. They exchanged a
few tentative blows and then backed off, neither had seen that
all important weakness in their adversary's stance: they were
"Your technique has improved,"
MacLeod said calmly and they prowled round each other a little
"I've had a long time to
practice," Peters replied.
He was the one to take the initiative
and as Duncan brought his sword up, the younger of the two attacked.
Steel flashed in the light and two blades came together with a
shower of sparks. Edge glanced off edge, and the weapons danced
around each other as one technique met another. Both shifted styles
as their openings failed to find the winning move, and this time
Mac moved in and under his opponents stroke. Peters' sword was
also oriental in design: he had studied his target and decided
on the best weapon to counter the Highlander's style, it was a
good choice. Jackson had done nothing for nearly a century, but
study the skills of warriors and take heads, he was a strong opponent.
Metal moved so fast that it drew beautiful arcs in the air, and
two Immortals fought for their lives. As attack followed parry,
and block followed lunge, the pair danced around the space they
had, both full of the exciting atmosphere. They were in their
element and Peters came very close to battering a hole in Duncan's
sword work. Yet the older of the two rallied as the other's katana
reached for unprotected body. Suddenly, the Highlander went up
a gear: he stepped backwards, drawing Peters off his stride, and
struck in through his opponents defence. His blade found a home
and the sound of slicing flesh was echoed by a painful groan.
There was a second when it looked as if the fight may be over
as the shock caused the other Immortal to drop his sword, but
Jackson's' will to live was too strong for that, and as MacLeod
pulled back his weapon for another attack a fist rounded into
his face. The two men flew apart and Duncan fell between two palettes,
a little dazed. The sound of running feet greeted him as he came
to his senses: it appeared that Peters was no-longer quite so
sure of his superiority in this battle. The younger man had taken
the opportunity to smash the bulb that had been their only decent
source of light.
Duncan moved through the broken
down warehouse slowly: it was dingy in here and there were things
strewn all across the floor. The presence of the other Immortal
had faded, but he was here somewhere and Mac was going to find
him. A noise came from above and the Highlander was off in a second,
up the stairs towards the slightly open metal doors. He was all
warrior, hunter, ready for the kill, he did not think this man
would ever become one of the joining, not after he had run. The
katana glinted in the dim flood light filtering through a filthy
window, and the tingling behind his eyes started again. His opponent
was close, his instincts said much nearer than he expected, and
he walked across the landing slowly, wary of any sound, any sign.
He slipped through the doors like a shadow in black jacket and
black clothes. His eyes scanned everywhere, trying to find the
merest hint of his adversary. Suddenly the big door was sliding
towards him on it's runners and he leapt sideways to avoid being
crushed as it closed. Richie's warning ran in his ears like a
distant echo and then he saw Peters coming for him. His stance
was not the best, but he'd had years of practice on worse ground
than this, and he fought off the attack with Highland fortitude.
"It's not that easy,"
he said quietly as he drew the backwards from a clash.
The wound was slowing the other
Immortal down and he was playing for time, something Duncan was
not going to let him have. The sword had punctured Peters' left
side and it left him weakened, open to attack. He fought well,
his spirit strong, but MacLeod had done some serious damage and
he was weakening. Sparks lit up the semi-darkness and the Highlander
pressed his advantage mercilessly. Then it came, the blow that
relieved Jackson of his sword a second time and sent him reeling
to his knees. His weapon out of reach and the battle over he looked
up with hatred at the man who held a sword to his neck.
"Get it over, MacLeod,"
he said, the failure shining in his eyes, next to a strange bravery.
Just for a moment the need to
kill wavered and Duncan had to fortify his grip.
"There is another way,"
he said hoarsely, nerves on edge for a move from the man he knew
was a skilled warrior.
All he received was a laugh,
and then Peters lunged for his sword. The decision was made, there
was no other way and the katana swung in a deadly arc. The blade
was sharp and Jackson's' neck gave little resistance to the strong
blow: it was over. A white mist rose slowly from the body, and
as it came towards him, Duncan actually found he was sorry.
The evening was definitely looking
up, Joe was actually talking to Chris and his companion without
glaring at them every five seconds. He seemed to be accepting
what they were saying, taking to heart the way they felt, rather
than just telling them they were insane idiots. Their conversations
were bitty since Joe did have a bar to run, but at least it was
a two way discussion of ideas, not a one way lecture. It was as
the Watcher was off serving a customer that Chris looked at Karina,
a little startled as the most peculiar jolt ran up his spine.
Realisation took a second or so to dawn and then he realised that
he wanted to be anywhere but where he was actually sitting at
"Back door," he said
in half panic and made a dive off the bar stool.
Joe looked more than a little
shocked at the sudden request, but the look of pure dread on Chris'
face was enough to convince anyone to do anything instantly. There
wasn't enough time, however, and Karina was left to stare in horror
as the young Immortal collapsed on the floor in the throws of
an unknown agony.
Beren had eventually come round
to find her lover since he wasn't at home, and she hadn't had
much trouble convincing him to accompany her back to the apartment.
It had taken a few minutes to close everything up and she waited
by his bike as he wandered down the outside stairs towards her.
She had half perched on the saddle of their mode of transport
and she smiled as he waved at her. She like to just watch him
sometimes, he moved in such a different way to most men she had
known: there was something controlled about his movements. All
the Immortals were the same, they were trained and it showed,
but of course she didn't have the same interest in all the others.
He had covered half the distance between them when his face registered
something between shock and happiness. He tried to tell her something,
but words failed him as pain became his world and his helmet went
rolling across the pavement as he folded like a rag doll onto
it's surface. The urge to scream was overcome by the knowledge
of where he was and all the world heard was a painful grunt.
Nothing would have come between
Beren and his side at that moment, and the speed with which she
crossed the remaining distance between them would have made an
It had been quite obvious that
Amanda need cheering up when Madelaine had called round on Richie's
advice, and the two women had headed out for an hour or so. Unable
to decide where to go, they were driving around when they both
looked at each other in surprise. It was the quickest pull in
and park in the history of driving, causing the car following
them to have momentary heart failure. It an act of solidarity
the Immortals' hands clasped in a white knuckle grip as they curled
up in their seats: the radio covering any sound they made.
It was a nice evening, and since
Chris had disappeared with Karina, Craven had decide to go for
a run in the park. He enjoyed exercise, and the word had gone
round that Duncan was facing a mortal enemy, so it gave him something
to take his mind off his friend's fate. It wasn't unusual to see
dog walkers and health junkies jogging their way through the green
area at this time and he had joined them unnoticed. It had seemed
like a good idea when he had left the house, but as he collapsed
into the undergrowth he wasn't so sure. The removal of nearly
all motor control had been so quick that there was little he could
do. First the warning sign, the first idea of what was going to
happen, and then, boom, he was a quivering wreck in the greenery.
Another jogger came to his aid with a comforting hand, but nothing
could stop the agony of a Quickening.
Duncan's eyes fixed the skylight
as the lightening struck his body and in that instant he was very
aware he was not alone. Images of the bar, the street outside
the dojo, a car and the park flashed through his mind with the
pain of Peters' life essence. The torment was demon sent and yet
heavenly at the same time: he was pure sensation. Forces stronger
than nature herself moved through his body, seeking out every
cell, and he knew fulfilment. Ages past in his brain and his body
strained under tortured stresses as power passed from one Immortal
to another. Then it was over, as suddenly as it started the Quickening
ended, and he fell to his knees in release. Another battle, another
victory, so why was he so sad to have taken the life of a man
who wanted his head. There was a regret that he had not been able
to bring this one in: Jackson Peters might have been a good man
if his Immortal life hadn't started in the service of a maniac
The floor looked spotlessly clean
from three inches away, but Chris wasn't exactly in the mood to
inspect it. Several hands helped him up as the veil of pain drifted
away, and as reality re-affixed itself within his perception,
he found himself looked at Adam.
"I have to go," was
all the young man could think to say and glanced around at all
the anxious looking mortals.
He pecked Karina on the cheek,
just stared at Joe for a moment and then headed out the door,
before any of them could come up with difficult questions. Chris
knew what had happened, but he was damn sure Joe's bar was not
the place to discus it.
Richie looked up at Beren slowly,
and the relief on his face was enough to warm the coldest heart.
Very quietly he began to laugh, much to his lover's confusion.
"We're not going home just
yet," he said quietly and accepted her hand as he pulled
himself to his feet. "I think we just fowled up big time,
but at least Mac still has his head."
"He won then," the
young English woman said, slightly unsure of exactly what was
the Immortal returned, "we have Peters' Quickening. The thing
is, I'm pretty sure the person with the camera, over there in
the shadows saw enough to raise a few eyebrows."
"I think we'd better head
home," Amanda said quietly, when she could finally speak
"What a rush," as all
Madi could find to say.
The engine purred into life with
no arguments, even as the woman in the car half a block down was
scribbling furiously in a note book.
The man who rescued Craven from
the brambles was about thirtyish and seemed terribly concerned
for the Immortal who appeared about the same age. He had his mobile
phone out of his pocket almost too quickly for Manheim to stop
him calling an ambulance.
"Thank you," he said
rapidly, "but you don't need to call for help now, I'm fine.
It was just a seizure: I've had them for years, they come on with
no warning, but do little damage."
"Are you sure," his
companion enquired, "it's no trouble."
"Positive," the other
returned with a smile, "I'll just be getting home now. Thanks
again for your help."
Then he fled before the worried
looking man could try and be any more of a Samaritan.
It may not have been a very good
idea, but instinct sent them all heading towards MacLeod's loft
and when the Highlander himself turned up half an hour later,
they were all waiting for him. He looked at Richie somewhat strangely
as he walked out of the elevator, but then Amanda threw her arms
around him and took his mind of the other's, seemingly psychic
"I made the punch,"
the Scotsman's lover said with total exuberance that he was back.
Mac didn't refuse as Madelaine
pushed a glass into his hand.
"I think our little secret
may be not so under wraps anymore," Craven commented from
"Then I take it, what I
felt during the Quickening was not my imagination," Duncan
returned, more calmly than could have been expected. "You
all experienced it as well."
"Too right," Chris
"We should have realised,"
was what Richie had to say, "I think we've been a little
dense, guys. Our Quickenings are joined, we all felt it when Mac
brought Amanda in, it would have been a fair guess we'd at least
notice when one of us relieved another Immortal of their head."
There was a chair set aside for
MacLeod and he took the opportunity to sit in it, he had after
all just been through a major battle.
"Well there's no point worrying
about what we should or shouldn't have known," he said sagely,
"the question is how much will the Watcher's surmise? Do
we know how much they saw?"
"That Watcher who was in
Joe's bar the other day, after the accident, was there this evening,"
Chris started the ball rolling. "He saw everything, and you
can bet that he won't put it down to bad olives."
"My current shadow has me
in living colour," Richie admitted next, "I definitely
saw a camera. There are probably several lovely shots of me writhing
on the pavement."
Madi decided it was her turn
"I can't say for sure,"
she told them all, "but there was a car that seemed to be
following us, and my parking manoeuvre was hard to miss."
"I didn't see anyone,"
it was Craven's voice, "but they've been reluctant to let
me out of their sight just recently. These Watchers seem to think
I'll do a flit or something."
"And I can positively add
that Peters' Watcher has the fight recorded down to the last detail,"
Duncan felt he had to mention it, "I saw someone disappear
as I came out to the car."
"Watchers six," Chris
It would be difficult to draw
any concrete conclusions from what the group's shadows had seen,
but they would most definitely know there was something going
on. Their short span of anonymity was rapidly drawing to a close.
Then of course there was Joe: now that his colleagues had some
notion of a situation, the longer he held back his information,
the less they would trust him again. He had had good reason not
to tell them in the first place, but now his position was more
difficult to justify.
"They'll guess we experienced
something to do with the Quickening," Amanda put the facts
together, "the real mystery is what conclusions they'll draw
from it. Can we somehow convince them this is all a fluke, that
we're as surprised as they are?"
replied, "we've not exactly been acting like normal Immortals
just recently. By now at least one of us should have caused a
fight, or stormed off into the great blue yonder. You know what
we're usually like."
"It would take some real
fast talking on Joe's part," Richie put in, "and I don't
think we can ask him to do that. He's kept our secret, but outright
lying to his colleagues is going a little too far. I don't think
he could do it for very long, our situation is tearing him apart
as it is."
Some of the others hadn't thought
of this, but now they realised exactly what the Watcher must have
been going through.
"How much grace do you think
we'd have if the truth did come out?" Madelaine asked calmly.
"How long before our kindred decide we need wiping out?"
"Maybe a few weeks, or maybe
it'll never fall on the wrong ears," Mac said, it was impossible
to tell, there were too many factors to take into consideration.
"There's no way to really know."
"Well we really have to
decide what to do," Richie seemed to be in a very forthright
mood. "We have a few days at most before the consequences
become unmanageable, and the choice is out of our hands."
They all looked at each other
"We're in no state to make
as an important decision as this tonight," Duncan knew his
companion was right, but this was too close to the Quickening.
"All of us are pumped, we all know what taking a head does
to us, we should sleep on it."
"Agreed," Manheim commented,
"it may have only been a mirror of what you were feeling
MacLeod, but it was one hell of a ride. There's a lot of things
to be said for a decent power surge, but coherent thought afterwards
is not one of them."
That brought a few smiles, even
among the uncertainty.
"A pow-wow tomorrow then,"
suggested Chris quickly, "somewhere no-one would expect to
find us, so we can ditch the observation committee."
"How about the warehouse
where Mac killed Peters?" Amanda suggested. "They would
never think we'd go there."
Several heads nodded.
"Done then," Duncan
announced firmly, "until then I suggest we keep our heads
down. I'll talk to Joe, and let him know the score to at least
allow him some room to manoeuvre, we can decide a time to meet
There was a short discussion
on where exactly the location was, and how best to get there,
before everyone decided it would be a good time to leave. It was
as everyone went to go that Mac finally called Richie back to
have a few words.
"I'll meet you down stairs,"
the younger Immortal told Beren with a false smile, and at that
moment Amanda decided she really wanted to say goodbye to everyone,
Mentor and pupil looked at each
other in silence for a while as the elevator creaked into action,
and finally Duncan spoke.
"How did you know about
the door?" he asked evenly.
"Does it matter?" the
other returned, his spine had turned to ice as his premonition
was confirmed, but what else could he say.
"I'd like an explanation,
if you're willing to give one," the elder said with really
Richie seemed to have gained
an undeniable obsession with the bookcase just to the left of
his friend's head.
"I had a nightmare,"
he said quietly, "and I saw you in the black coat, it got
caught in a sliding door in a warehouse. I saw you die because
of a strip of cloth. When you went to leave today, it all came
back and hit me between the eyes: I had to say something. I felt
quite stupid, but the image of you with a sword headed towards
your neck wouldn't go away."
"First Adam, and now this,"
the Highlander said slowly, "you seem to be turning into
quite an advanced warning system."
"I think I'll reserve judgement
on that one," the younger man returned, not particularly
happy with the suggestion. "I don't remember dreams, I never
have, next time I do, I'll put out the four minute warning."
Mac patted his friend on the
shoulder, enough peculiar things had happened to Richie, he understood
how his companion could live without this as well.
"Cheer up, Rich," he
said trying to brighten the mood, "it may never happen again."
The younger Immortal smiled slightly.
"I could always go into
the circus," he said, his mouth coming to his rescue, "the
incredible, unkillable psychic."
of Part 12