The meeting was to have been
of indeterminate length, but Karina was still waiting for Chris
when he returned to the cafe an hour and a half after he had left.
He gave her a warm kiss and slid into the chair next to her with
a broad grin on his face.
"What are you so happy about?"
she asked, intrigued by his change in humour since earlier that
The meeting had been a serious
business, and before it had happened, Chris had seemed much more
"It's a bit of a long story,"
he responded cheerfully, "and I think I'd better start from
the beginning, or you'll be hopelessly confused."
Her face brightened as she realised
what he was saying.
"You're going to tell me
what's going on, aren't you?" she said quickly.
"Yep," her lover replied,
"I've been given the go ahead and nothing short of a natural
disaster is going to stop me. Shall we go somewhere a little more
private, so we can talk?"
On impulse she leaned over and
planted a huge kiss in the centre of his forehead. She couldn't
begin to explain what this meant to her, she was just so happy
that she was being trusted.
"Lead on, sir, lead on"
she said with a bright smile, in a most appalling English accent.
The walls of Craven's sitting
room were covered with eerie shadows since the couple sitting
there had only turned on one lamp. The room truly had a gothic
feel when lit from a single source and Karina snuggled up to Chris
with an unconscious need for comfort. When he'd started the explanation
with the description of his reunion with Richie she'd been interested;
as he'd gone on she become enthralled; and as he'd drawn to an
end she'd been completely amazed and at a loss to say anything.
Now, about ten minutes and a few questions later she was finally
beginning to accept what she'd been hearing.
she said for the third time, "Immortals joined together.
No wonder it's strange around here at the moment. And Uncle Joe
knows everything about this?"
responded calmly, enjoying the fact that she was curled up in
his arms, "he was there when it happened. Tomorrow he's going
to call an emergency meeting and explain all to the rest of the
Watchers in the area. Researchers, field operatives, you name
it, everyone from this region is going to know, and he's sending
a transcript of the chronicle to other bigwigs in the organisation.
He's probably going to be up all night making phone calls. I'd
hate to be paying his bill."
Karina found that funny.
"If he's going to be so
busy," she said with a remarkably innocent tone, "maybe
I should stay here tonight."
Chris grinned as she looked up
at him, batting her eyelashes seductively.
"I'm sure there's a spare
room," he returned cheekily, and for that she hit him.
It was remarkable how quickly
the mock battle turned into a long, passionate kiss.
Communications had been going
back and forwards all night, those Joe couldn't reach by phone
directly he e-mailed, or paged, and by dawn the Watcher network
was buzzing. There were some people accusing him of everything
under the sun, and there were others that were proclaiming his
brilliance at gathering all the information. Copies of his chronicle
were packaged for secure courier delivery, Adam had asked to see
it again the day before so it had been on the premises. Some of
those who called had actually decided to fly in and were going
to be at the meeting: this was going to be one hell of a Watcher
get together. Even the band of solitary investigators had a means
of summoning their minions when the occasion called for it and
the word went out on the local network the next morning. Everything
was set for about five that evening and all Joe had to do was
wait, and hope this was not his last day in the ranks of the organisation.
One of those flying in from overseas was a good friend, she had
already pledged her support, another was a proclaimed purist and
he was going to be trouble, and the last was an unknown quantity
Polly Margrave had been in the
Watchers longer than Joe: she was a formidable woman of fifty
seven who's reach in the organisation knew little bounds. She'd
been in the field for twenty six years before retiring into a
position of authority and management for the British branch. She
breezed into Joe's bar at three in the afternoon, dressed like
an executive and smiling broadly. Since she'd called from the
airport, the tavern's owner was expecting her.
"Joe, dear," she greeted
as he limped round one of the tables, "it's been too long."
"Pol," he welcomed
warmly, "I'm so glad to see you."
They embraced like the old friends
they were and Dawson appreciated only too well that Polly carried
her years extremely well. For a woman on her way to sixty she
looked remarkably like a forty year old: there were things to
be said for an active lifestyle.
"Now tell me exactly what
you've been up to, Joseph," she said, sounding like his mother.
"From the number of phone calls I had before leaving, we
may have to do some serious arse covering."
Her companion smiled at her turn
of phrase and nodded: that they definitely would.
"Have you really been fraternising
with MacLeod?" she asked as he lead her to a chair.
Someone actually talking to an
Immortal, was quite a difficult concept for most Watchers to grasp,
it was against their number one rule and believing it of a friend
took work. Unlike some, however, Pol was willing to hear an explanation.
She came from the school of thought that said there were exceptions
to every rule.
"Guilty as charged,"
Joe responded calmly, "and not just MacLeod. You must have
heard about the Hunter problem, it all started soon after that."
He wandered over to the bar and
picked up the coffee pot.
"Can I get you anything?"
he asked and topped up his own mug.
"I'm beginning to feel like
a stiff brandy," Pol replied as she tried to remain objective.
"Would you mind continuing?"
One advantage of lots of practice,
Joe could serve and talk at the same time.
"Duncan found me,"
he continued smoothly, "and we worked together to stop Horton
and his allies. It was no more than an uneasy alliance at first,
he even threatened to kill me once, but over time our relationship
changed. He's my friend Pol, we tried to end it once, but I can't
change the fact that I care what happens to him. Through him I
met Richie, who I might add has saved my life on one occasion,
and Amanda. That was as good as it up until a few weeks ago, when
Chris came into the picture. I assume you've read the reports?"
There was a curt nod, everyone
who was anyone had read the reports.
"They're not quite true,"
Dawson told her honestly and carried her drink over to the table.
"I lied because I felt their secret was worth protecting.
Something has happened here that I wouldn't have believed if I
hadn't seen it with my own eyes, and I wasn't even quite sure
He sat down slowly: it was time
to come clean and he started at the beginning and talked for thirty
minutes without stopping.
The regular patrons of the bar
were surprised to find the notice on the door announcing a private
function and promising to be open like normal the next day. Adam
found himself stationed on the door, checking people's credentials
as they entered. It was an easy job, all he had to do was glance
at the unconcealed tattoos and everything was concluded calmly.
There were well over thirty people sitting around chatting by
the time the last Watcher arrived. Pol had positioned herself
near the bar, from where Joe had chosen to lead the meeting, demonstrating
her allegiance very clearly. Antoine DeGuere, an operative from
the Paris end, was also showing where his loyalty lay, by sitting
at the other end of the room, as far from the dissenter as he
could get. The third big name was a relative newcomer to the higher
ranks of the organisation, having only recently traversed the
gap between normal operative and voice of authority. His name
was Jasper Samson, originally from Canada he was now resident
in Europe, and he had chosen a seat at the back, but on the opposite
side of the room to DeGuere. They were not trying to fool any
of the locals into believing that they were just ordinary visitors
and the air of rank hung about all of them.
"Good evening, Ladies and
Gentlemen," Dawson called them to order quite succinctly,
"thank you all for coming."
He surveyed all the faces, all
had realised this was a very important meeting.
"You're all aware that this
area is the focus of some very unusual Immortal activity at the
moment," the silver haired Watcher continued calmly. "You've
been called here this evening so that you can be made aware of
just how strange the events of the past few weeks have been and
how it effects our organisation."
Antoine was not doing very well
at hiding his hostile glare.
"The information I'm going
to give you tonight may shock some of you," Joe had prepared
his speech carefully, "it's damn hard to believe even when
you've seen it. The data is confidential: it goes no further than
these four walls without the direct say-so of the area head: you
don't even reveal it to close friends in the organisation."
That caused a ripple of conversation,
there weren't many secrets the Watchers were unwilling to share
with their whole membership. No-one expected to be told everything
just because they were there, but confidential was not a word
they usually used among themselves.
"Most of the field operatives
know about the twins, Richard Ryan and Chris Seaton, by now,"
their fearless leader elaborated evenly, "and if you don't,
the significance of twin Immortals has been backed up by proof
that they are fully telepathic."
Another excited murmuring. There
was nothing that thrilled Watchers more than a new facet to those,
who's lives they chronicled.
"What very few of you have
been told is exactly how much of an impact the two have made on
the Immortal community in the area, or why," Joe did not
intend to dodge any of this issue that evening.
A smile of encouragement came
from Pol's direction as he began to wind into the real reason
the meeting had been called. A friendly face was worth more to
Dawson now than he cared to profess and her support kept him talking.
"Others of you are aware
that there is something very peculiar about the relationship between
the Immortals: Duncan MacLeod; Madelaine Seaton; Craven Manheim;
Richard Ryan; Chris Seaton and Amanda Darieux," the information
was met with interest. "I can now tell you all that I have
been aware of this anomaly for the past seven weeks, in fact,
I witnessed it's beginning. The afore mentioned individuals were
involved in an event which has, in effect, changed the Game they
are playing. Their Quickenings are combined: they no-longer feel
any hostility to any of their comrades."
Nobody could contain themselves
now: talking started immediately and it took several minutes for
it to calm down. The news was revolutionary and Joe let them discus
it all they liked. The only three people holding their opinions
to themselves were DeGuere, Pol and Jasper, all of whom sat quietly.
"How can you be so sure?"
finally one of the researchers couldn't help herself.
Her question dulled the ideas
being thrown back and forward, but even that couldn't quiet it
"They told me," Dawson's
admission silenced the entire room.
Most sets of eyes showed utter
disbelief. Those who were aware of the irregularities of Joe's
relationship with the local Immortals now realised that there
must have been something deeper than even they had noticed.
"The first death of Christopher
Seaton caused a chain reaction which drew in the power of the
lost Immortals," the experienced Watcher did not give anyone
a chance to comment this time. "Those like Darius, killed
by our brethren," he looked at Antoine as his words hit any
condemnation, quite practically. "There was a Quickening
like we've never seen before: it came through Ryan and took every
last Immortal in range. It cured Manheim's madness, and gave all
of them another purpose. Not one of them is interested in being
the last Immortal left: they intend to be there together, as a
group, sharing the prize. Taking heads is the last option for
them now: they are offering their kindred an alternative to the
loneliness of the Game."
Some mouths were hanging open,
other faces showed total rejection of any of the ideas, and the
rest just looked a little sceptical.
"You've been communicating
with Immortals," one shocked voice accused in defence of
the ideas put forward.
"It was the only way to
discover the information," Joe returned evenly: he was not
about to disclose the full extent of his friendship with MacLeod
and his companions. "I believe this is more important than
a set of rules that could never conceive of this ever taking place."
He produced a document from behind
the counter and passed it to the first table.
"This is a translation of
part of a book which foretold what occurred so recently,"
he was playing every card he held. "It was written by an
Immortal during the time of the Roman Empire in a language even
older than that. I have it on the authority of an expert in the
field, that there are no more than a handful of people alive today
who could read the book. These passages were translated by Richard
Ryan, who was kind enough to give me a transcript three weeks
ago. Going by all natural laws, he shouldn't know the first thing
about ancient languages, but the Quickening he and the others
shared was unusual in more ways than one. I took it upon myself
to chronicle what has become known as the Dividing, and I could
see only one option which would give us the knowledge we seek.
I will not apologise for my actions, I believed, and still do,
that what I did was more than justified."
He was adamant, but nothing could
have prepared him for the barrage of questions that followed the
information. They wanted to know everything he had found out,
be party to all the information he had gleaned. Once the magnitude
of what they were discussing began to reveal itself, literally
no-one was interested in how the data had been gathered: only
DeGuere kept an aloof distance. These people were at the centre
of the whirlwind, whatever was going to happen was probably going
to do so on their doorsteps and they needed to know all there
was. It was neither the time, nor the place for Joe to reveal
that he was friends to the Immortals: that would have been too
radical, even for the current situation, but he held nothing else
from his community.
Over the next two and a half
hours the Watchers drew out every facet of the events that had
changed Immortal destiny. They discussed the translation Dawson
had given them; the original Quickening; the shared experience
that had alerted the organisation so recently; the twins relationship;
and how the six local Immortals associated with each other. Being
stupid and being an operative in this society did not go together,
and the group of people in the bar that night did not need much
encouragement to realise what the situation could mean for them
or their subjects. The reason for the secrecy did not need any
explanation, and as their understanding grew, more than one Watcher
began to see things from Joe's point of view.
"Things go on as normal,"
Dawson said finally, as the deliberation started to come to a
close, "for now at least. This news has you all excited,
believe me I understand, but nothing changes. No-one, I repeat,
no-one does anything they haven't been doing for years."
The looks he received told him
that the message was very clear: this was not going to cause anyone
to do anything stupid.
The meeting dissolved slowly
after that. People hung around for coffee and some idle gossip,
but within half an hour they were all gone, except the big names.
It was time for the leadership to play their game, and as Joe
locked up the other three moved onto a table of their own.
"Nicely handled, Dawson,"
Antoine said coldly, "but don't you think the do as I say
not as I do stance, is a little hypocritical?"
The claws were out this evening,
and the silver haired Watcher couldn't really blame his colleague.
Before the Hunters the situation had been so different and back
then the bar's owner would have been one of the first to agree.
"There are reasons for the
rules," Joe shot back calmly, "and they do not have
my incentives for breaking them."
"There are no incentives
great enough to excuse what you have done," DeGuere was a
very unhappy camper. "You have been fraternising with Immortals:
there are numerous reports that they actually patronise your bar.
Are you breaking the cardinal rule, Dawson, are these people your
In this man's eyes there was
no defence and Joe did not answer. Much to the Watcher's surprise,
however, a helping hand came from another direction.
"There is no need for those
sort of accusations," Samson's voice was calm and smooth.
The look he sent in his colleague's
direction, however, told the older Watcher that this new player
was quite aware of the truth. Ever so suddenly, Dawson began to
feel that there were other plans afoot here: there were cogs turning
of which he was not aware. It was quite possible that eventually
their progress could destroy his part of the mechanism, but just
now they appeared to be working in his favour.
"Accusations that are not
unfounded," Antoine didn't perceive who was bigger player
here, he was too annoyed. "He's sacrificed the security of
the organisation for information that we would have deduced eventually
anyway. How many Immortals are going to know about us because
Dawson couldn't keep his curiosity to himself."
The warning flash in Jasper's
eyes should have given his compatriot the hint that he was vying
with the wrong Watcher.
"MacLeod's probably spreading
the word as we speak..." was as far as DeGuere managed.
"Don't talk such rubbish,"
Samson's voice held all the authority of one who knew his foundations
were very firm. "It's on record that MacLeod found out about
us because of the Hunter incident, which was our own fault. Horton
should not have been allowed to progress so far with his warped
ideas: we should have seen it coming. Since then the Highlander
has only told those close to him: he seems to understand the need
for confidentiality. Now Dawson may have been acting without due
authorisation, but even you can see that he's turned a possibly
destructive situation to our advantage."
There were wheels turning here,
and Joe knew when to stay well out of the conversation.
"That may not be the view
the leadership take on this," if he hadn't been concentrating,
Dawson would have winced as he saw the reply Antoine was about
"Do you think I'm here for
my health?" Jasper was a bigger name than any in the room
had suspected. "Who do you think sent me as soon as they
received the communication. I came here to assess the situation
and decide on a course of action. In light of all the information
that has been presented I have to agree with Dawson's assessment
of the situation."
Each Watcher area had it's own
head, it's own hierarchy, but there were those behind the scenes
who had sway over everyone. Samson spoke with their authority
and that silenced even Antoine.
"Consider your contact with
the Immortals sanctioned, Dawson," the suave executive said,
his voice returning to calm levels. "This situation is considered
important enough to circumvent the correct procedure."
When his gaze turned to Joe,
however, it was not as friendly as it could have been.
"You are as far as it goes,
however," he said slowly and precisely. "This contact
goes no further and you tell no-one else that you are acting under
authority. The rest of the organisation must not begin to think
that fraternisation will be tolerated."
He gave no-one else a chance
to speak as he swept their faces with a steely look. Then, as
if the storm had passed, he suddenly smiled, completely out of
"Well, thank you for your
hospitality, Joe," he said as if the previous conversation
had never taken place, "but I really must be going. Antoine,
I have a private jet waiting to take me to Paris on business:
there's plenty of room if you'd care to join me. It'll save on
the expenses, if nothing else."
After being torn down a few notches
so recently, DeGuere didn't even attempt to argue. He knew when
he was being removed from a situation, and he didn't like it,
but he also knew when things were above his head. The pair took
their leave cheerfully, and very shortly Pol and Joe were the
only two sitting in the bar.
"I think you were
just dragged out of the fire," the woman said slowly as the
old friends looked at each other.
"Then why do I feel as if
I've just been given the rope to hang myself?" was her companion's
of Part 16