Their escape routes had been
carefully planned and it didn't take any of the Immortals long
to find their way to the warehouse. Beren, as usual was included
in the affairs of the group and unlike his associates, Joe had
actually been invited. The Watchers in town were so busy trying
to locate their Immortals that none of them realised their boss
The old building was so dilapidated
anyway, that the signs of the recent Quickening had been swallowed
up by it's normal visage as if it had never happened. Mac had
brought a bulb with him and the light sent eerie shadows up the
walls as he plugged it into the quickly emptied socket. Richie
and Beren were the last to arrive and as they wandered in the
company was complete. One pair of eyes watched without their knowledge,
as they gathered, he'd been invited to join their discussion,
but Methos had decided to observe from afar. He had hidden himself
in the building long before the others had arrived, high up on
one of the metal balconies, just out of range for the Immortal
early warning system. He was a shadow among other shadows, nobody
even glanced in his direction.
"Well this is a pleasant
spot," Madelaine commented as she looked around their dingy
surroundings, "who's idea was this again?"
She was looking right at Amanda
when she spoke, and her friend just smiled.
"You have to admit it's
the last place they'd look for us," the ex- cat-burglar said
"It's the last place I'd
look for us," the blonde woman returned.
"At least it's not wet,"
Chris commented quietly.
"It may not be to you,"
Dawson put in lightly, "but trust me on this one, it's damp
"When everyone's finished
complaining," Mac said loudly, "it might be a good idea
to start this get together. The sooner we make a decision, the
sooner we can all go home."
Several Immortals grinned at
that. They were stood in a vaguely circular shape, so that everyone
could see everyone else, and they looked at one another, all expecting
someone to start.
"Okay," Chris said
eventually, "since no-one else has anything earth shattering
to say, I have a problem which all of you can probably guess.
Kari's happy with the `I can't tell you anything yet,' line, but
she won't be for more than a few days. I need to know if I can
explain, or if I have to tell her she'll have to wait a lot longer."
There were no doubts what the
twin wanted them to say, but he didn't voice his opinion or force
it on the group. Richie knew the inability to tell all was tearing
his sibling apart, but he too held back for now, he would come
down on Chris' side towards the end of the debate, if there was
one. Surprisingly it was Joe who spoke up first.
"Karina's a bright girl,"
he said calmly, "if you don't tell her what's going on she
won't know what not to tell everyone else. You picked yourself
a choice woman there, Chris, she has a habit of finding everything
out no matter how well you try to hide it. My advice is come clean
now, she can keep her mouth shut: she's Watcher trained."
"She'll have to know eventually,"
Amanda pointed out, a statement which went right over Joe's head,
"better sooner than later." This didn't look as if it
was going to be as hard as Chris had thought.
[If Duncan says anything it's
swung,] Richie commented as the twins looked at each other,[and
there was me with a speech all planned.]
[You'd probably undo all the
good work,] was the quick reply.
"I've seen love enough times,"
the Highlander said eventually, "this is the real thing.
You should be allowed to make this decision, Chris," he continued,
"if you want to tell her I suggest we all concur."
Everyone nodded, they all knew
true romance when they saw it and no- one wanted to prevent it
from flowering. Besides which, hopefully, one day, Kari would
take her place among them.
"Thank you," the youngster
returned, "this means a lot to me."
"It also means that if she
shouts this from the highest building I'm going to have your rear
end in a sling," his Mother commented dryly.
There was more than one laugh.
"Now to our other problem,"
Duncan brought them all back to the reason for their presence,
"the Watchers and what they may or may not have deduced from
the show we put on yesterday."
Eyes turned to Dawson, he could
tell them exactly how much trouble they were in. He shifted slightly
onto the other leg and swept his hand through his silver hair
as he took their scrutiny emotionlessly.
"They know what they saw,"
he told them calmly, head rolling forward and a wayward bang falling
over his eyes, "you'll have no peace until they have an explanation.
They'll be discrete, but this is big, and big means a pain in
the arse for most of you. I can keep them running in circles for
a while, but sooner or later someone will realise they're being
fed incorrect information, and then I'll be for the long walk."
Immortal looked at Immortal,
trying to read the thoughts in each- others eyes. It didn't take
much to realise they were all coming to the same conclusions,
and the atmosphere it created was almost as dank as their surroundings.
Any humour that had been flowing through the conversation was
quite succinctly destroyed and quite a heavy feeling hung around
each one of the ageless party.
"We don't have a choice,
do we," Craven finally voiced what they were all thinking,
"Joe's going to have to tell them. We knew the time would
come, that's why the chronicle exists, we just didn't know it
would be so soon. It's our own fault, they only saw what we allowed
them to see."
No-one chose to even try and
disagree, a state of affairs which most Immortals would have found
very strange. Not one of the players was thinking of themselves
at that moment: they may have been thinking about their friends,
but even that was outweighed by the knowledge of what they would
be asking Joe to do if they vetoed the explanation.
"How long before it would
be all over the globe?" Amanda asked evenly.
There was a small shrug from
the Watcher in their midst, it was difficult to tell.
"We mostly work on a need
to know basis," he returned openly, "but we're not a
covert operation among ourselves. Information travels at the speed
at which people are interested in it. This would probably go through
the local network pretty fast, and the heads of other divisions
would have to be told. Lower rank Watchers might never know unless
they were assigned to you, but higher up it wouldn't be difficult
to find out. This would be as important to us as it is to you,
that's why I chose your side. Not every Watcher knows everything,
but it wouldn't take long for the news to spread."
Minds were turning over, looking
for a solution to this dilemma: there didn't seem to be many options.
Forbidding any leakage was a moot point, their only choices were
about how and what the Watchers would be told.
"Can you classify it?"
Richie asked finally. "You're a hierarchy, every hierarchy
has some way to stop the lower ranks finding things out."
"But it's already gone beyond
just the higher ranks," Madi pointed out, "it was, forgive
the use of language, the foot soldiers who saw everything."
"Then tell them not to give
the information to anyone else," the younger Immortal insisted,
he thought he might be onto something. "Call a meeting, come
clean, and tell them the information is for their ears only."
Dawson cottoned on, and his mind
began to tick over. There was a possibility here: links began
to form in his brain and slowly a plan began to take shape. His
analytical thoughts drew names and past acquaintances from his
memory and piece by piece started to put them together.
"You know, it might work,"
he said a little more cheerfully. "I'll have to get the okay
from the leadership, but I can pull in several favours and get
the information held. I'll probably still get my arse cooked,
but it will limit the spread of the truth. We can label it for
specific Watchers only, namely yours. Every one in this area will
have to be told or someone will start reporting the odd behaviour
going on around here and questions will start flying, but damage
control is better than no control."
"Can you really swing it,
Joe?" Mac asked evenly. "After concealing the information
from them will they allow you to limit it's flow."
It could be dicey, but the older
Watcher wasn't without friends inside his organisation.
Suddenly every Immortal tensed
and their heads turned towards the darkness as each experienced
the presence of a stranger. Their reactions varied between the
unmasked shock that ran across Chris' face and the emotionless
glare from Amanda. Each of them had their own way of dealing with
the obtrusive tingling behind their eyes and it didn't take much
for the Mortals to realise what was happening. All gazes watched
the dim surroundings, not quite sure what to do.
"They'll have to,"
said a familiar voice from the shadows, "this is an unknown
quantity. They'll listen to Joe, they'll have no choice, and they
might even forgive his indiscretion when they find out how much
information he has retrieved because of it."
Methos wandered into the circle
of light and smiled his most inane smile. The look on his face
said that he rather enjoyed being the centre of attention, and
he found the reaction he had invoked in the others quite amusing.
"Don't mind me," he
said calmly, "I'm harmless."
"So you decide to make an
appearance after all," Duncan commented, "how long have
you been here?"
The Highlander wasn't exactly
annoyed, this was the type of thing he'd come to expect from the
ancient Immortal, but his blood pressure could live without Adam's
entrances once in a while.
"Since before you,"
the other returned lightly, "I'm good at sneaking around."
He smiled at the oldest female
Immortal broadly, he knew exactly what she thought of his slinking
activities. They both had suspicions and they trusted each other
to about the same limits: the proverbial barge pole and Olympian
throwing contests coming to mind.
"I thought my presence might
influence the course of the discussion so I waited until you'd
made your decision," Methos continued calmly. "You have
decided haven't you?"
There was little to deny that:
no-one had any other suggestions.
"Good, good," he continued
and the two people that really knew him realised he was acting
a little strangely, "because I happen to agree with you."
"That's nice," Amanda
said with a grin, "but do we need your seal of approval?"
The older Immortal smiled back,
he probably deserved that one.
"It depends on how you look
at things I suppose," he responded calmly, "you see
I find that I have come to a conclusion."
That caught most of them off
guard: Adam keeping an eye on developments was one thing, but
no-one had suspected that he would make a decision so quickly.
Such a fast turn of events was either a very good sign or a very
bad portent, and everyone looked as if they couldn't decide which.
All were almost holding their breath, those that weren't reeling
in shock that is.
"Sorry I didn't get round
to talking to you, Chris," the ancient Immortal said brightly,
a little too brightly, he was actually nervous, "but you've
been busy all day. I thought you'd probably say about the same
as Richie anyway."
This was almost more than Madi
could take, but she bit her tongue and let him tell them in his
"No problem," was what
the twin responded.
"To tell you the truth,
I'm not quite sure what the right decision is about you all,"
Adam continued a little slower, "most of me thinks you're
completely mad. My instincts tell me to run back to Paris and
hide myself away, my better judgement is screaming at me, and
yet there's a little voice that seems to think you're right."
No-one was going to put money
on what exactly he was trying to say.
"I think," he said
finally, after a short pause, "that I would like to be part
of this new destiny."
MacLeod looked stunned, he wasn't
quite sure he had heard correctly. He'd been the one person who
was almost sure that Methos would back away from this, at least
until the older Immortal had had a few years to see exactly how
"Yes!" Richie said
loudly. "Mac you owe me a rise."
Adam's eyes narrowed.
"You two had a bet on me?"
he said slowly.
The blond Immortal looked a little
sheepish, but he was not the sort to keep his mouth shut.
"Look at it this way,"
the twin said with a grin, "I had faith in you."
For a moment it looked as if
Methos wasn't going to see the funny side and then slowly he began
"I'm insane," he said
between chuckles, shaking his head at the thoughts running through
"But you're among friends,"
the Highlander said cheerfully: he was so glad Adam had chosen
in favour of their path.
There were words of welcome and
encouragement from all directions. It was difficult for the group
to explain what it meant to find someone who was willing to enter
their fold. Their deepest urges no-longer led them to kill: that
was only their defence, their true intentions were now to preserve
and join with others. For those outside the council, the power
that made an Immortal drove them to find the ultimate satisfaction:
a Quickening. No matter how honourable, or humane the person,
their instincts were to be the last, to defeat their enemies:
it was the only way they could survive. For Duncan. Richie, Chris,
Amanda, Madelaine and Craven this was only secondary: theirs was
the need to create not only to destroy.
The muted celebration could only
go on for so long, however, and finally Methos asked the question
that was bothering him.
"Okay," he said eventually,
"how do we do this? I've been around a while, but I have
no experience of alternative destinies."
The group exchanged glances and
finally eyes settled on Richie, quite simply because in this he
always seemed to know what he was talking about.
"Well its relatively simple,"
he said calmly, quite happy to be nominated as spokes-person.
"When were you thinking of stepping across the line?"
Adam hadn't really thought about
this, since he really wasn't quite sure what he'd let himself
in for on this one.
"That's up to you,"
the ancient man replied, trying desperately to control the racing
of his heart. "Does this take preparation or something?"
Most things about Immortal life
were pretty immediate: you fought or you died, you took your enemies'
head and Quickenings happened, there wasn't a lot of ritual about
these events. About the only thing that seemed odd to Mortals
was the need to use swords which was a code of practice rather
than a religion.
"It just takes the thought,"
was what the younger Immortal replied.
He glanced around the building
and then at all his companions once more. Everyone's faces were
suggesting the same thing.
"How does here and now sound?"
Richie asked brightly. "It's private, we can't do the venue
a lot more damage, the exclusive audience is already here. Not
that I suggest you put his name anywhere near ours, Joe. Seems
fine to me"
The Watcher smiled.
"The thought never crossed
my mind," he returned wryly.
Just for a moment Adam looked
as if he might change his mind, but finally he shrugged and grinned.
"Sounds perfect," he
responded. "What do we do?"
When Amanda had been brought
in, she and Duncan had been alone, but it didn't seem quite right
that just one of the group should be elected for this task.
"Let me guess," Richie
said lightly, "you've taken a few heads in your time. This
is gonna be a biggie, folks."
Methos took a bow.
They were still in a vaguely
circular formation and without trying to figure out why he was
doing it Richie reached out and grabbed his brother's arm on one
side and Adam's on the other. It didn't take a genius to realise
his intention and the others caught hold of their friends' limbs
quickly. The circle went Richie, Chris, Craven, Madi, Amanda,
Duncan and Methos, and several sets of knuckles were already white.
"Beren, Joe, stay well back,"
the young woman's beau ordered quickly, "this is gonna be
one hell of a light show."
Several of the Immortals grinned
in anticipation of the upcoming event: this was what they lived
"Every one ready?"
Richie asked calmly, his eyes bright with excitement.
No-one needed to be told what
they were going to do, they already knew and all heads nodded.
"Let's rock and roll,"
the youngster said and six pairs of eyes closed in unison.
For a split second there was
nothing: no sound, no indication that anything was happening and
then suddenly the power leapt forth. The first sparks rippled
along the clasped arms, drawing gasps of pain from more than one
mouth. Then the lightening ripped free of the physical bodies
and crashed into a central column so bright that Joe and his young
companion had to hide their eyes. Just for a moment it hovered
and Adam stared at it, captivated with what he could feel, and
then it hit him.
The first touches of the Quickening
had been gentle compared to the force that took him, and as it
lanced into his body every Immortal cried out as one. This was
their power, the force of six Immortals joined together and it
entered Methos' very soul. It found the dark place in his being,
the shadowy psyche that had driven him so long, in some situations
kept him alive, in others taunted his mercy, and it changed it.
The raw energy that was his friends filled the darkness, destroyed
the murderous instinct and just left the defender. Even as his
muscles contorted, so did his very being, and he screamed even
louder as his Quickening was wrenched from his body. There was
agony and fear at the sensation, a small rebellion at this unnatural
event. Then it hit the others and he finally knew what it was
to be part of them. Images of them and their lives flashed through
his mind only to be felt and forgotten, adding to him , but not
changing the essential centre that was Methos.
The power of a man over five
thousand years old was truly something awesome and the other Immortals
could barely keep their feet. They were at the centre of a storm,
and it pounded them, taking everything from them and returning
even more. Countless lifetimes echoed through them all as energy
melded with energy and showed them things they had never seen.
They were of one being, one soul, unified completely just for
a moment until slowly they began to retreat into themselves. Their
personas pulled back taking with them all that the single Immortal
had been before the Dividing and their part of the joined Quickening
that had followed. It was then that they seemed to loose complete
control, before then the energy had been contained by their circle,
but as they began to break apart little pieces started to escape.
The first thing to go was the light: the bulb exploded in a shower
of blue flame as a bolt of electricity lanced into it's centre
and arced up over it's cable. Rubble, boxes, old palettes, little
was left untouched as the Quickening broke down. The pain of the
separation was almost more agonising than the initial outflow
of power: the loss of the togetherness caused more anguish than
the Immortals could ever explain.
Madelaine opened her eyes and
screamed, a sound almost dwarfed by the maelstrom surrounding
the group. To be caught in the joining was the most exquisite
agony and her cry was more in disgust that it had to end, than
a reaction to the sensations echoing through her body.
There was such distress in Craven's
face as his mind returned to the single fragment of the party
that was him, it made Joe want to reach out to comfort the pain,
the emotion was so obvious.
The two Mortals clung to each
other as energy exploded around them, as if it were displaying
the anger of the Immortals as their unity dissolved. To be in
such a place was both exhilarating and terrifying. If one fraction
of the power flying around the room were to touch them, it would
have killed instantly, just like the lightening it resembled,
but it never came close. The charge in the air made the hair on
their arms stand on end, but the elemental force was not interested
in them. It's focus was the party of seven very unusual people,
and even as it destroyed inanimate objects it left the Mortals
as they were.
As each player in this new part
of the game drew more of the power into themselves their grief
showed all too plainly. There was fulfilment there as well, a
wild excitement on every visage, coupled so completely with the
other emotion that they were inseparable. The conflict was incredible,
yet they had to let go, to remain totally unified was impossible,
it prohibited any ability to function. Eventually it was over.
Each player was once again themselves, joined distantly to their
friends, but an individual in the human sense of the word.
The twins came back to reality
looking at each other: eyes locked together where they had been
staring in unseeing blankness. Their minds were the most reluctant
to let go, their separation was the most difficult. Thoughts and
reactions ran together in their heads: two psyches flowing along
the same path in perfect unison, only slowly remembering that
they belonged in different bodies. They were watching the world
from two points of view, with both sets of experience as important
as the other, a peculiar two headed creature. Only as Craven moved
beside Chris did the young Immortal suddenly skip back into his
own being, and the mental sensation was accompanied by a sharp
inhale of breath. Richie blinked back slowly, his brain finally
coming to the same conclusions, and his own outlook settled back
at the forefront of his thoughts.
Very slowly unwilling fingers
started to release the grips they had on various arms, and several
of the group swayed gently. Adam had no words, in fact he had
very few thoughts, and only a quick hand from MacLeod prevented
him falling to the floor as his knees buckled.
"Wow," Chris said,
finally letting go of his brother's limb and shaking his head
to clear it.
"You can say that again,"
The oldest female Immortal of
the party had only experienced a joined Quickening on a smaller
scale, the complete works was quite an eye opener. Her body was
still tingling and the thoughts running through her head were
not the purest in the world as she glanced longingly at Duncan.
Quickenings brought out different reactions in different Immortals,
and alternative responses in the same Immortal on various occasions:
Amanda's body language was not difficult to read this time.
It was a little difficult to
control feelings just after such a transfer of power, and everyone
took long seconds to try and centre themselves. Asking an Immortal
for a completely rational conversation after a Quickening was
like requesting a tax rebate from any government in the known
world: unlikely to be successful, and a long time in coming. The
memory of what they had been feeling was very clear in every Immortal's
mind and wiping it away for the current reality was not an easy
thing to do.
Recovering more rapidly than
others of his kind was, however, one of Duncan's traits and he
pulled Amanda towards him with a gentle tug. In an unusual show
of submissiveness she did not attempt to put her own mark on the
intertwining of limbs, and quite happily rested her head on his
shoulder and let him do all the holding.
The look in Craven's eyes as
he glanced around at his friends was one of shock and complete
happiness. They'd all been through this once before, but it had
been so incredible that his thoughts were having trouble believing
what had taken place. He could look at the world in that moment
and say he was content: no matter what was to come or what had
gone before, for those precious seconds he was fulfilled. His
blonde hair fell over his face in a bid to escape the neat style
into which it had been forced, and it gave him a boyish turn which
belied the age in his gaze.
It was Richie who spoke next
and whatever he said, it caused everyone else to look at him very
strangely, except Chris and Adam, both of whom grinned broadly.
The confusion in the other pairs of eyes said everything the younger
Immortal wanted to know.
"Well I thought I'd try,"
he said brightly, in English this time, "that was Aramaic
by the way. I just wondered if anything had passed across this
"Sounded like gibberish
to me," Madi admitted with a smile. "What did you say,
Chris really laughed now: Richie
had chosen his words carefully to produce an instant response
in anyone who understood them, translating them could be embarrassing.
"Um, pass," the younger
Immortal said and went a healthy pink as his brother refused to
give any assistance.
"We didn't say a bad word
did we, Richard," Madelaine scolded in a mock schoolmarm
voice and she smiled broadly.
The Mortals finally decided it
was safe to approach and Beren didn't waste any time wrapping
herself around her lover. The blond young man was not complaining
and quite happily accepted the embrace, returning it warmly. The
Quickening was not something that the English beauty would ever
be able to share: it was as far out of her reach as the stars,
but she could join in the happiness. Sometimes it occurred to
Beren that maybe she should envy her lover his eternal youth,
and yet she looked in his eyes and saw complications she did not
want for her own mind. There were parts of Richie she only saw
for fractions of a second, but just occasionally they scared her.
The depths of an Immortal soul: the inner workings of a creature
to whom killing was a way to survive, were not something she could
He smiled as his arms entwined
her and that brightness in his face showed Beren why she loved
him. If he was happy so was she, and a warmth filled her as she
kissed him passionately.
The Immortals had felt more about
each other in the last few minutes than they could ever express
or truly remember, but it left them all with a very close feeling.
They all found themselves looking at Methos in a new light: the
awe and slight mistrust of the ancient man were gone, replaced
by a deep respect and genuine warmth. Even Amanda's gaze held
a deep regard for what he was, her own years feeling lighter for
"Everyone okay?" Joe
asked, his mother hen attributes coming through.
He received several amused looks
in return and Adam actually began to laugh.
"Is everyone okay,"
he repeated to himself, it was an almost absurd question and it
definitely struck a chord. "After what he just saw he wants
to know if we're okay."
The ancient Immortal couldn't
help it, he needed something to release the tension in his body
and that was it. He began to laugh harder, and it was catching,
Richie was the next to go, closely followed by Chris and Madi,
then Craven, Amanda and finally Mac as he patted his Mortal friend
on the back fondly. It was an interesting question to have asked
seven Immortals after a Quickening, and with a sinking feeling,
Joe realised he wasn't going to live this one down very soon.
The humour was infectious, however, and he had to smile, even
Beren was giggling to herself.
"Okay," the older looking
man responded, "dumb thing to say."
That was it, Madelaine had to
sit down she was laughing so hard. The scene that played itself
out as each individual dealt with their experience would have
convinced anyone that the whole group were mad, but it was one
way to cope. The sniggering died down eventually and Immortal
looked at Immortal, smiles on their faces.
"Thank you, my friends,"
Methos finally said quietly, "at last I understand."
"We're just glad you trusted
us," Mac returned on behalf of them all.
The fulfilment had not left any
of them and if they could they would have all expressed their
happiness. As it was, all they could do was exchange glances:
there were no words.
"Now I don't have to leap
out of my skin every time you come round the corner," Chris
commented eventually, with a huge grin.
The ancient Immortal's presence
was a little strange, even compared to how each of the group felt
to the others. His age was so obvious to his companions now, a
pillar in an ever changing sea of experience. So close to the
Quickening, each had a vague awareness of the others, but it was
fading slowly, just like the warning of another's approach. If
they concentrated, it was still there, but now was not the time
to go delving around their own psyches.
"I'll call a meeting of
the Watchers tomorrow," Joe said suddenly, bringing them
all back to reality quite succinctly, "is there anything,
apart from the obvious, that you don't want me to say."
There was no need for discussion
on this point again: everything was decided.
"Tell all, Joe," Chris
spoke for the group, their choice had been made earlier. "Tell
them what we have become, how we've changed, how we've stayed
the same. There's no point in half truths, your lot will only
keep digging `til they find everything anyway."
"Just don't mention me,"
Adam put in with a grin. "That may even be a little too much
for them to deal with. I'm a legend, remember."
Dawson nodded and smiled back.
"If the truth about you
ever came out, my friend," he returned, "I'd be for
the high jump no matter how much information I'd uncovered."
"It's so nice to be wanted,"
was all the Immortal said, cheerfully.
There was a loud clearing of
a throat from behind the discussion.
"If one of you gentlemen
would be so kind," Madi said from where she was still sitting
on the floor, "I could do with a hand up."
Methos moved faster than anyone
else, including Chris who had immediately stepped forward to help
"Forgive our rudeness, dear
lady," the older Immortal said with debonair charm, and remarkably
gently, pulled Madelaine to her feet.
"And he had the cheek to
tell me chivalry was dead," Duncan muttered under his breath.
of Part 15