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Return of the Hounds

Part 2


Scene 5

Joe awoke with a start. Still tied to the chair, he had fallen asleep. Jet lag. A small amount of sunlight came in through the window. But something else had awakened him. A sound. A low moan came from the opposite end of the room.

"Hello?" Joe softly greeted, trying to see into the darkeness.

"A friendly voice," replied the moaner. "I'm in a cell, Joe. Where are you?"

"Adam?" Joe exclaimed. "I'm under the window. Tied up for the moment, I'm afraid."

"If you're here, can our white knight be far behind? Where is MacLeod?" Methos asked, in his usual dry, sarcastic banter.

"Looking for you," Joe confirmed.

"See? I told you! Can he never just take care of his own ass and quit worrying about the whole world?"

"Not the whole world, just his world," Joe argued with a smile. "Look, Adam," he continued, "I'm sorry my journal got you into this mess."

"Don't blame yourself, Joe, these 'Hunter' people have caused this."

"How long have you been here?" Joe asked.

"Two weeks or so," Methos told him, "and I'm starting to get cranky."


Scene 6

MacLeod strolled casually down the sidewalk. He looked back over his shoulder to see the black sedan that had followed him since he left the dojo.

Catching his glance, the Hunters made their move. The car pulled up beside MacLeod and McCarthy got out. He pulled a gun from his coat pocket and aimed it in MacLeod's direction. "I'm fully aware that I can't kill you with this, MacLeod, but I can slow you down long enough to kill you with your own sword." McCarthy motioned toward the open door of the car. It was clear what he wanted. MacLeod in the back seat.

MacLeod hesitated then got into the car. McCarthy followed him inside and shut the door behind them. Tires squealed as the car shot off down the road.


Scene 7

"How many of these 'Hunters' are there?" Joe asked.

"I've seen a half dozen or so. They don't seem to have a leader around as yet but they've spoken of someone. O'Neil, I believe. Know anyone by that name?"

Joe shook his head, then answered aloud, "O'Neil? No. I don't think so."

"Kevin Darby is one of them," Methos called to Joe. "You remember him?"

"Yeah. You gave me the name. I told MacLeod."

"He's a martial arts expert. But not to worry Joe, our MacLeod is more than a match for him." Methos continued, "I believe Kevin fancies himself the leader of this group but I don't think the others agree." he laughed, but stopped with a sharp intake of breath. "Speaking of our white knight," he explained "I think MacLeod has just arrived."


Scene 8

The black sedan pulled up to the curb in front of the townhouse. The Hunters got out and pulled MacLeod out of the car, forcing him to walk between them up the stairs to the front door. McCarthy followed the trio into the house, keeping the gun trained on MacLeod's back.

MacLeod tensed, reacting to the presence of another Immortal just as McCarthy came up behind him and hit him on the head with the gun butt. McCarthy moved out of the way as an unconscious MacLeod slid to the floor.

"Move him downstairs to the cell with the other one," McCarthy ordered the other two. "We'll wait until Neil gets here."


Scene 9

MacLeod moaned as he returned to consciousness. Nightfall had come while he was out cold. Squinting into the darkened room he called out, "Adam?" "Back among the living, MacLeod?" Methos drawled.

"Nice of you to join us, Mac," Joe added.

"Joe?" Mac sounded surprised.

"Yes and yes," Methos quipped, "and then there were three."

MacLeod grunted in response to his friend's remark. He sat up and leaned against the bars of the cell.

"You did not have to follow me into the lion's den to prove your devotion, MacLeod." Methos was at his sarcastic best.

MacLeod shook his head at Methos' comment, then called out to the man still tied to the chair, "How are you, Joe?"

"Just stiffened from being tied to this chair for hours. I think they're putting off dealing with me until they've figured out what to do with the two of you. Adam is the one in trouble for now."

"Duncan?" Methos said, trying to get MacLeod's attention "Don't you listen to anything I try to teach you?"

MacLeod got to his feet and moved over to the cot where Methos sat, legs in a yoga position. Methos unfolded his legs and started to get up, but Mac pushed him back down on the cot. "You're rambling, Adam. Lie down, conserve your strength."

"They've had him here for two weeks. No food. No water," Joe added.

MacLeod took off his coat and put it over Methos. "His body can't repair itself as fast without sustenance."

"What do you think they'll do next, Mac?" Joe asked.

Mac busied himself by examining the cell he and Methos were inside. "I think they're waiting for someone."

Just as he finished speaking, the door at the top of the stairs opened, allowing a shaft of light to escape down the staircase. Several people followed.

"I think their leader has arrived," MacLeod said.

Kevin Darby led the procession down the stairs, McCarthy right behind him and three others trailed the pair.

"Kevin, you have to wait until Neil gets here." McCarthy pleaded with his fellow conspirator, in a stage whisper.

"Seems I'm wrong," MacLeod whispered to Methos. "It's just the leader wannabe."

Kevin Darby reached up and turned on the bare electric bulb that hung at the foot of the stairs. He walked over to inspect the two Immortal prisoners.

"Well," MacLeod taunted Darby, "if it isn't my favorite sensei."

Darby looked at MacLeod with contempt. He now held a sword in each hand, one of them MacLeod's katana. He turned to one of the other men, "Take MacLeod out of the cell."

McCarthy whispered to Darby, "Kevin do you think that's wise? Neil won't like this." "He doesn't even know we have MacLeod. Besides, we'll still have the other one," Darby argued.

Darby motioned again for the others to take MacLeod out of the cell. They did what he asked, two of them escorting MacLeod over to him. The Immortal appeared docile.

"I will take his head in a fair fight just as another of his kind would," Darby explained. "This is why I train my students the way I do MacLeod. Why I demand so much from them and from myself. If this is the only way to beat you, we will be ready."

"You are crazy, Kevin," McCarthy said. "You can't hope to beat an Immortal with over 400 hundred years of experience."

Darby turned to stare at McCarthy. "You can watch with your gun handy if you are so nervous."

The sensei laid MacLeod's katana on the floor between them, stepped back, and then pointing at the sword he instructed MacLeod, "Pick it up."

"Why should I fight you when he's waiting to shoot me if I win?" MacLeod argued.

Darby nodded at MacLeod. "Okay." Turning to the others, he ordered, "Leave us. He can't get by you upstairs even if he does win."

Reluctantly, they climbed the stairs. McCarthy trailed, stopping halfway to try again to talk some sense into Darby. "Kevin, think about this."

"Go. I know what I'm doing."

McCarthy closed the door behind himself at the top of the stairs.

MacLeod picked up his sword. He needed to disarm Darby quickly, to gain the time necessary for an escape. Now it was MacLeod's turn to be aggressive, something he hadn't shown during their previous encounter. Darby was unprepared for the Immortal's fast, furious attack and MacLeod moved suddenly to the side, hitting his opponent's sword at an angle, sending it spinning across the room.

MacLeod continued his move on the now unarmed man, hitting him with the hilt of his sword. Knocking Darby out cold. MacLeod was searching the sensei's pockets before he hit the floor.

Finding a flask, he passed it through the cell bars to Methos, then continued his search.

"Can you find a key?" Joe asked.

"No," MacLeod said, still searching the downed fighter.

As soon as MacLeod handed the flask to Methos, the old one opened it, smelled the contents, then took a long pull at the liquid inside.

MacLeod was still searching pockets when he noticed his fellow prisoner was now standing beside him. Outside the cell. Taking another drink from the flask.

MacLeod pointed to the open cell door. "And why didn't you do that before? It would have helped."

Methos, a puzzled look on his face, replied, "It would have?"

"Never mind," MacLeod said, now in a huff. "Come on, I'll give you a lift." He pointed to the window high in the wall.

"And what about the two of you?" Methos asked, glancing in Joe's direction and back at MacLeod.

"I'm sure you'll think of something," MacLeod told him. "You usually do." He then helped Methos up and out of the window.

The slender Immortal struggled through the small window then turning around, he called back down to his friends, "Soon, amigos."

MacLeod untied Joe, then dragged the still unconscious Darby into the vacated cell and locked him inside. He retrieved his and Darby's swords, turned off the overhead bulb, then met Joe at the base of the stairs.

"Can you use this?" Mac asked as he offered Darby's sword to Joe.

Joe shook his head. "I'm afraid I would be more of a hindrance to you than a help with that thing," he laughed. "If I need a weapon, I'll use my cane."

They waited together in the dark. A few minutes passed, then the door at the top of the stairs squeaked as someone opened it slowly. Footsteps sounded. At least two people descended the staircase as MacLeod and Joe waited at the bottom.

Outside, the silence was broken by the sudden sound of sirens.

The footsteps on the staircase stopped.

Outside the sirens stopped. Right outside. The lights twirled through the window Methos had escaped through, casting shadows that jumped from wall to wall.

The stalkers on the staircase froze. From the sounds that followed, they apparently fell over each other in their haste to get back up the stairs and out of the house.

"I guess he thought of something." MacLeod smiled at Joe, the lights flickering across both their faces.

They both turned toward the stairs again. More footsteps. A light caught their faces fully and they flinched back into the shadows.

"Are you coming?" an impatient Methos inquired of the two of them. "They have flown the coop."

"What did you tell the police?" MacLeod asked him.

"Oh, they are not the police MacLeod," Methos explained, "they are firemen. Don't worry, I called in an alarm for the house across the street."

MacLeod and Joe made their way up the stairs as Methos continued, "No one lives there, I checked."

"That was gracious of you," MacLeod commented.

"You did want out?" Methos asked dryly.

MacLeod and Joe reached Methos where he stood at the cellar door. "Let's get out of here, I'm hungry," Methos declared.

MacLeod handed Methos Darby's sword. "Of course you are."


Scene 1 0

It was late as the three of them sat around a small table in an out of the way bistro, after a fine but simple meal. "They've found Kevin by now," Joe commented.

"And probably watching the barge," MacLeod added.

Methos nodded. He had settled into a chair. Sprawled. Enjoying his beer. He was listening to the two friends as they discussed the situation.

"I want to know who this 'O'Neil' person is," Joe said.

"No. Not 'O'Neil' Joe," MacLeod corrected. "I'm sure Darby said 'Neil'. A first name?"

Joe had stilled. "It couldn't be."

"What?" MacLeod leaned across to Joe.

"Neil Cameron. I've never met him. He's pretty high in the organization." Joe sat back in his chair, running his hand through his hair. "He's been a Watcher for as long as I have. He couldn't. But then what did I expect after Jack?" Joe asked himself bitterly.

"It's time you do meet him, Joe. Don't you think?" MacLeod added.

Joe looked at his watch. "Too late tonight. I'll go see him at his office first thing in the morning."

Methos had been quiet all evening. Now he spoke. "And if this Neil Cameron is one of the Hunters? What then?" Methos looked at MacLeod then at Joe but neither had an answer. "First Horton, then Shapiro, now this Cameron guy. We just keep going in circles."

"What has happened to the rules Watchers have lived by for so long, Joe?" MacLeod demanded softly. "How do we end this and go back to what it was before? Immortals exist. First Horton, then Jack, now this Cameron guy, we just keep going in circles. History needs to acknowledge that fact. Even if it is in secret. For now."

The three sat with their glasses in hand, deep in thought.


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