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The Methos Chronicles: Methos of Zeist

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  • The Methos Chronicles: Methos of Zeist

    Part I: The Bonding

    "Is this the right place?" pondered the youngest living immortal.

    Methos stared at the dome of the aging temple. It had been abandoned for nearly fifty years along with all other symbols of a lost religion, and now someone--possibly someone interested in returning to the dated ideals behind that dome--had morphed the once-holy site into a secret meeting place for the like-minded. There was an obvious tactical advantage to such a location, even beyond the provision of cover. Few men would dare fight in a place that was dedicated to spiritual matters, and no immortals would dare fight on holy ground--at least as far as Methos understood.

    Methos slipped on the loose sands of the dune as he crossed it. Walking here was troublesome enough for him without the cumbersome hood and cape that he had been ordered to wear. He found reliable footing and halted. He swore with words long since forgotten as he fumbled with the flare beneath his cloak. He felt as if fate were giving him a hard time just for laughs. He knelt down, gained his balance in the unstable sand, and raised his arm to set off the flare. As soon as he was sure that no one was looking, he released it into the air. It flew over the dunes in the direction opposite of the temple. Methos was thankful that no one seemed to notice, at least not those moving toward the hideout.

    "I do hope I did that right," he said under his breath with a sarcastic undertone that he would perfect over countless centuries. As he continued his trek toward the temple, he once again found himself unable to sort out the mad events of the last few days. His family had been unable to find shelter against the smothering arms of the storm. He still half-believed that his sand-choked pleas for mercy were answered with his new immortality. And then…

    His mind returned to the present. He wondered who was leading this rebellion. Some said it was Ramirez, the mysterious old prophet. His ideas about the future were declared blasphemy by the Priests. Then there was the Kurgan, General Katana's right-hand man. Could he be planning to overthrow the empire of Zeist? Methos did not care. No matter who it was, there can be only one punishment--death.

    Methos stepped inside the temple. He saw that someone had fashioned something akin to a stage from metal railing. The makeshift construction was rusted. Because of the temple structure and the recent additions, the room was a curious mix of steel and stone, technology and faith. Methos sensed that several immortals were near. Several were standing together in a huddle amongst the crowd, others scattered around the room. At least, he thought they were immortals. He had not yet become accustomed to the feeling of the Quickening.

    Suddenly, the feeling came over him in a rush. Someone crossed the railing/stage, his face shrouded by a hood. "The answer," Methos breathed. Everyone seemed to grow silent as they saw the head of the rebellion prepare to address them. The hood came off. It was Ramirez! Methos knew that General Katana will love to hear this.

    "Free men of the land of Zeist, hear me," began Ramirez. He rambled on about the criminal act that they were committing as if it were some kind of noble deed.

    Someone near Methos asked, "Will you lead us, Ramirez?" It startled Methos, who then tried to appear as if he too believed the fool on stage was a god.

    "No, I'm not your leader,” Ramirez insisted, “but because I see with eyes different from yours, I see a man with a great destiny before him."

    So he is not their leader? Methos was confused. He determined that Ramirez must be planning to train one of these serfs into a messiah.

    Someone else asked, "Who is he? Show him to us!"

    "Let him show himself," proclaimed Ramirez, unsheathing his sword. "Let him feel the Quickening!"

    So the man will be an immortal! Methos' weak sense of the Quickening told him to move out of the way. He obliged this feeling and noticed that a pathway had been cleared to a single man. It was one of those immigrants who called themselves the Highlanders. Connor, if Methos remembered correctly. He could not recall why they gave themselves that name. It had something to do with where they had previously settled.

    Connor looked befuddled as if he was not sure it was him. "Yes, you!" Ramirez answered to the unspoken question.

    Connor approached the stage. Another Highlander, Duncan by name, grabbed Connor by the arm. "Are you sure what you are doing?"

    "I am not sure I have any choice. The prophet..."

    Ramirez replied, "Trust me, my son, you do not."

    Methos did not know what was about to happen, but something told him it would not be good. Two robed men stepped from behind the platform. They held a box by protruding handles on either side. Steam rose from the box.

    "Now, the Bonding will commence," announced Ramirez.

    "What is the Bonding?" asked an anxious Connor.

    Ramirez simply explained, "It is the joining of two souls by the Quickening."

    "I have heard that term before,” Connor said with vague recognition. “What does it mean?"

    "The Quickening,” said Ramirez, “is what made you survive when your first death. It is why you have not aged since then. All immortals have it. It is the Tree of Life, the Fountain of Youth. In short, it is eternity."

    This was all news to Methos. Katana had not gone into much detail about the magic that brought immortality. In fact, he made it sound as if it were not a miracle at all, but instead an abnormality. Methos knew that the Priests had declared this Quickening to be unholy, and that anyone with it is accursed. Considering what Methos knew about the Game, curse did not seem like a bad choice of words.

    "That must be why they chose to meet on holy ground," he said to himself.

    The metal box was opened. Inside it was a bronze orb. Ramirez screwed off the top of the orb to reveal a molten liquid of some sort. It boiled and bubbled, frothing over the sides of its container. Ramirez laid it on a nearby flat surface. He waved one hand over it and spoke a tongue unknown to Methos. The liquid beamed with a bright orange glow, and then ceased boiling and settled.

    "Kneel." Connor obeyed, albeit reluctantly. Methos was enthralled, completely forgetting that the army should be growing near and that now would be his best chance to get out of there before the fighting commenced. "Place your hand in, and then touch my fingers with yours," instructed Ramirez.

    Connor obeyed, and when their fingers came out of the liquid, lightning flowed between their hands. A strong gust of wind blew as the electricity coursed through the air. At this bizarre sight, the whole mob bowed down on their knees. Methos knelt as well, in part to fit in and in part because he was as caught up in awe as anyone else, though he would not admit it to himself. He could not pretend to understand the Bonding, but he knew that what he witnessed was unlike anything he had ever seen before.

    Ramirez raised his hand and made some type of ritualistic gesture on Connor's forehead, as if to bless him. The tip of his index finger glowed as he did this. "We are now as one."

    A worried Connor asked, "How do we start?"

    Ramirez replied, "Not we, you--"

    Methos was surprised to hear that the instigator of this revolution was not going to be a part of it! "Way to cover yourself from blame, old man," he thought.

    "--and you start with Katana,” Ramizez continued.

    An explosion roared outside. The sentry shouted out, "General Katana is attacking!"

    The men rushed outside as Ramirez and Connor still knelt. Methos realized that he had to get to safety as quickly as possible. Someone handed him a gun as he stepped out of the door. He looked behind him to see Ramirez giving his final blessings to Connor. Then both men rose up and exited the temple. The explosions continued, and Methos was mixed in with the charging mob. Running up sand dunes was hard enough, but with fanatical guerrilla soldiers all around, it was impossible. Methos was trampled by those behind him, and as he fell, his mind once again went back to the recent past...

    ~~~

    He could not believe it when he had woken up to find himself alive and well. He had been sure that the sandstorm would have killed him, that it in fact had killed him. He sat up in a bed that did not belong to him. Sitting on a post across the room was a tall, frightening man whom Methos knew to be the Kurgan. A lethal enforcer for the general, if his memory served him.

    "Ahh. You are awake,” growled the Kurgan.

    "What is this place?" Methos asked.

    The Kurgan smirked and replied, "Welcome to the guest quarters of my employer."

    Methos had realized at that point that he had been saved and brought to the home of General Katana himself. Fear had swept the young immortal. "Why does the General want me?"

    The Kurgan turned dismissively. "You can ask him when you see him."

    ~~~

    Now, lying on the ground with several broken ribs, Methos could see Katana on the hill. There was no way to signal the general and distinguish himself from the rebels. A man fell down beside him, missing half of his face and part of his cranium. The man was still alive, suffering. Immortal. Even as blood hemorrhaged from his head, he could not hope for the pain to end quickly. Despite himself, Methos could not help but feel sympathy for the revolutionary, but his focus quickly turned to his own pain. Bullets riddled Methos as the general's army advanced. He did not blame them for shooting him. They could not tell the difference. Then the guns were put away and the swords were pulled for close-range fighting. Blood splattered on Methos from both sides. Dead bodies began to fall beside and on top of him.

    "Break ranks! Get more men!" Methos heard someone shout, and he thought that it might have been Connor. He was apparently already well-versed in warfare.

    Methos looked up. No one seemed to have the advantage yet. Then he turned around and realized that Katana's men were coming from all sides and surrounding the rebel force. He decided that he had regenerated enough to make a run for the hill. He jumped up, and met searing pain from his side. Dashing toward Katana, he was slashed by the soldiers running in the opposite direction. Then he realized that he still had a flare. He shot it up in the air just as a group of men knocked him down to the ground and began stabbing him.

    Katana saw the flare, and motioned to the Kurgan, who now stood beside him. "That is our informant. Go fetch him."

    Methos was diving in and out of consciousness when two strong hands pulled him out of the battle. The Kurgan laid him out on the dune near the general. As he blacked out, Methos heard Katana say something about beheading all the rebels in case they are immortals, excluding Connor and Ramirez. Then came on darkness.
    __________________________________________________

    "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
    --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

  • #2
    Part II: The Training

    "The sands of Zeist can be vicious, to be sure," Katana told Methos when they first met.

    ~~~

    Now Methos was sitting in a chair, looking outside as the dust blew into the faces of those who did not bother to cover their heads. Outside, pikes were placed in the ground on either side of the trail leading to the entrance of Katana's base. On each pike was the head of a rebel. Their mouths were all open, expressing that last ounce of fear as they realized that their time had come. The storms would soon corrode the decapitated heads into mere skulls. Katana's messenger sent word that he would meet with Methos within the hour. To Methos, this seemed all too familiar…

    ~~~

    "The great general will see you now," the messenger told him a few days ago.

    The balsa doors opened to reveal a long hallway, lit by grooves in the ceiling that allowed sunlight to pour through and reveal the decor. The walls were decorated with portraits of the general painted on animal hide. Bronze urns lined the shelves on the walls. Rumors claimed that Katana enjoyed collecting cremated bodies, and this sight convinced Methos that the accusations were true. At the end of the hallway was a large set of golden doors. Katana enjoyed showing off his wealth. Two guards, both wearing dark battle armor and holding rifles, moved a gong on the side wall to face the door. Then they hit the gong with their guns. The door slowly opened, pulled by large ropes on pulleys.

    ~~~

    Now, the same thing was happening again. Methos was less impressed the second time he saw the doors open. Frankly, the main thing on his mind was that Katana had not given him a way to be noticed among the guerilla soldiers.

    ~~~

    The enormous throne room amazed Methos the first time he saw it. Several large wooden chandeliers hung from the thirty-foot high ceiling. Candles running diagonally along the walls provided extra illumination. The greatest source of light came from the fountain of fire flowing in the center of the room. Methos surmised that the fountain had some type of fossil fuel powering it, but the flames were too thick to tell for sure. On the north wall was Katana’s ivory throne. The steps leading up to it were for the purposes of groveling; Katana had his own exit, an elevator, to the side.

    ~~~

    Methos still wondered why the rising smoke would not suffocate him. There must be hidden vents in the ceiling.

    “Ah, ha, ha, Methos,” Katana acknowledged as he boarded the elevator. Hands below cranked the mechanism down to the floor.


    ~~~

    The last time Methos entered this room, Katana never left his throne. Methos was terrified when he heard the booming voice of the General: “Come at my altar! I have an offer for you…Mothes, is it? Well, it does not matter.” As Methos had groveled toward his throne, Katana continued. “I understand you were a message boy for the unions before your…untimely accident. Is that correct?”

    Methos found a surge of confidence even in this setting. “Sir, with all due respect, I am certainly not a ‘boy.’ I have been doing this for years.”

    “Ah, defiance, yessss…., I love defiance.” Katana milked every S for intimidation. “We may be able to work together. Now, I know that you must be wondering why you are still alive after that storm. Well, I will give you the answer and prepare you for the consequences if you will perform a mere errand run for me.”

    Methos pushed his luck. “And if I turn down this offer?”

    “Heh.” Katana paused for a moment to let his grin linger. “Then your head will decorate my hall.”

    Methos gulped. “Then, um, I guess I am under your employment.”

    Katana’s eyes flickered with malicious glee. “Oh, it would seem so.”

    ~~~

    In the present, Katana gestured toward Methos. “Come Methos. Ahh! Let’s go to my garden.” Methos limped beside Katana. Even now his legs have not fully healed. Katana noticed. “Heh. Do not worry. You will grow better at recovery over time.”

    Methos tried to ignore the stinging. “Yes, and how long will that be?”

    “I would give it a couple of centuries.” Without missing a beat, Katana dismissed his own joke and moved on. “Now, down to business. I have imprisoned the two leaders of this rebellion, but I know that there are more out there. Specifically, I have been informed of the names of their close relatives.”

    Methos sheepishly suggested, “I think I saw another MacLeod at the meeting, sir.”

    “Hmm. My sources tell me there are two: Duncan and Colin. They came with a larger group, but none of the others are believed to be immortal.” Katana seemed only half-convinced of that intelligence.

    “And Ramirez, my lord?” Methos asked from several steps behind Katana.

    Katana waved his hand for Methos to catch up. “He has a brother by the name of Don Vinciente Marino Ramirez. He is younger, or at least he appears that way.”

    Methos tried to keep pace as they approached the garden. “And you want me to track them down.”

    “Exactly. If you bring me all of their heads, I will give you your weight in gold.”

    Methos smirked. “Employment under Katana might be worth the occasional limp,” he thought.

    Katana inhaled deeply. “I love this garden. It is an oasis of beauty amongst this dreck.”

    The garden was designed after those in Babylon, and came close to reaching their grandeur. Vines spread over the thirty-foot high walls into the sea of flowers surrounding the lagoon. It was if those walls separated heaven from hell.

    Methos remembered training in this very room.


    ~~~

    “Your goal is to take the head of every man, woman, and child with this, eh, condition, to make yourself stronger,” General Katana explained. “The last man standing will rule the world. And believe me, after a while you come to realize that is the only way you can rule this world. It took me nearly an eternity to learn that lesson. Hah.”

    Methos did not have much knowledge of swordplay before Katana took him in. He had received innumerable lacerations before getting the hang of the heavy blade. Of course, as with all things, Katana’s blade had been larger.

    “When energy comes out of a dead immortal’s body, it is called a quickening.” This definition would greatly contrast the one given by Ramirez a few days later.

    “Why do the priests call us unholy?” Methos asked.

    Katana raised his sword hilt and said, “Because we are the only ones with the power to destroy them.”

    Methos half smiled at the thought. “We can?”

    “Well, the final one can. He will be unstoppable. And, heh, I intend for it to be me.” Katana remarked almost casually.

    “So if it came down to us, you would take my head?” Methos asked.

    Katana tripped Methos and placed his sword to his neck. “Without a second thought.”

    “Then why do you bother training me?” Methos muttered while eying the blade and taking on a pallor.

    Katana pulled back the sword. “I need you right now. I have plenty of immortal assassins under my employment. Some of my best include the Flying Twins, Corda and Reno.”

    Methos regained some of his cockiness now that the imminent danger was gone. “Odd names.”

    Katana placed his gloved hand on the younger immortal’s shoulder. “And Methos is not?”

    Methos turned pale again. “Well put, my lord.”

    After they put away their swords, Methos asked Katana about his first death.

    “Ahh, yes. I was but a lowly mugger. Then I tried to steal from a man named Enoch. I did not know that he was the son of the legendary Cain, but I did soon learn that I had chosen the wrong man to anger. I was disemboweled right then and there. I came to sometime later, and for two weeks I had to hold my own intestines in my body.”

    Methos shrugged awkwardly. “Sorry I asked.”

    It was later during target practice that Katana told Methos what his first assignment would be. Methos was distracted by the general and missed the target by several inches.

    “I want you to leave for the Valley of the Moon immediately. There are rumors that a…group of revolutionaries, if they deserve such a title, have been meeting amongst the ruins. You are to camp out near the temple for the next few days. I will have a watchman looking for your signal if anything happens, heh. An army will be sent to the location. Discover the identities of the leaders, and get out of there before the troops arrive. Unless, ah, of course, if you want to find yourself, eh, dead,” he had spoken with a frighteningly wide smile.

    Methos didn’t turn his head from the target on the wall. “And how shall I be compensated?” The next shot hit the bull’s-eye.

    Katana placed his hand on Methos’s rifle and grunted. “Believe me, you will be paid handsomely. Now go.”

    Of course, when he arrived, a meeting was already assembling inside the temple.

    ~~~

    Now Methos had a new mission: find those connected to the rebellion. Methos had little to go on. Katana had suggested checking in the market place, so that is what Methos did. Methos looked at the fruit stands and wondered how anyone could grow things in this area. There seemed to be no irrigation system in place, nor was there a nearby oasis. He paid for a peach with a sliver of gold. When he bit into it, he found it to be especially juicy. Once again, he found this odd.

    “Where do you get your fruit from, old man?” he said to the vendor.

    “My produce comes from the Jettators,” he replied. “They have an underground garden near this village. They receive a small portion of my profits.”

    Methos turned on the charm. “Where could I meet these…Jettators?”

    The vendor shook his head. “Oh, I could not tell you that. I have never met them in person, and they prefer to keep a low profile. They do not care for the stigma, I think.”

    “Stigma?” Methos inquired.

    “Well, they are supposedly made up of those who are called unholy by the priests. I do not believe they are evil, though, and they have always been fair to me in business.” The vendor sounded uncomfortable.

    Leaning in, Methos pushed the subject. “So, how do you conduct this trade?”

    The vendor stepped back. “I am sorry, but I have agreed to not discuss that part of the business. They do not want to be found.”

    Methos offered a disarming smile. “I would like to find some way to reach them--”

    “To be honest, I would rather not discuss this anymore in public.”

    Methos frowned. “Well, if you feel uncomfortable outside, maybe we could step in here for a minute.”

    The merchant reluctantly allowed himself to be led into a small cubby hole passing as a room. Methos turned serious as he began talking. “Now, how may I find these Jettators?”

    “I still do not feel--”

    Methos pulled out a dagger, held it to the merchant’s throat, and put on a flat expression. “Where…can…I…find…them?” The old merchant gulped and tried to articulate words. Methos placed the dagger firmly against his throat, drawing blood. “Please, answer me this time. My patience has grown short.”

    “Umm…I leave the money in this room every other day, and the next day, it is here.”

    “When did the last shipment come in?” Methos growled.

    “Yesterday. They are coming tonight.”

    “Then I have all I need from you.” Methos felt the blood splatter on his face as he slit the man’s throat.


    ~~~

    “Never leave any witnesses,” Katana told him.
    __________________________________________________

    "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
    --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

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    • #3
      Part III: The Descent

      Methos bit into the stale loaf of bread that he had under his robe. He could use some water, but that would require moving from his place, and he was too close to his goal to risk that. He knew that he would just have to sit it out. Day was nearing, and the transaction should have already occurred. He grew suspicious. It was quite possible that the merchant had lied. He fought the sleep that called him, but he could not stop his mind from wandering. He saw gunpowder residue on his sleeve and remembered the first time he fired a gun.

      ~~~

      “Hold it still,” the Kurgan said. “Hold it still!”

      Methos, who had never even seen a gun, tried to brace the rifle with his shoulder, but to no avail. He had no idea how to use the sights, and he knew that he looked like a buffoon.

      “Why was I stuck training you?” the Kurgan grumbled with an eye-roll.

      Methos dropped the gun to his side in frustration. “Could you please give me a break?”

      “Ooh. So you’re not one for intimidation, are you?” Kurgan said, wagging his tongue.

      “How will I learn this if you will not help?”

      “I am helping,” he rasped.

      Methos reached over to retrieve his weapon. “Then we should get back to this…rifle.”

      “Ugh. Do you see the target?” the Kurgan asked, pointing ahead.

      “Yes.”

      “Point the gun in that general direction of the target,” he said impatiently.

      Methos did as the intimidating man said. “Done.”

      “Now just pull the trigger.”

      Methos was knocked down to the ground as his bullet went whizzing up in the air.

      “Good. You only missed by 20 yards.”

      “That hurt,” Methos had said as he tried to stand up.

      The Kurgan did not offer to help. “Then maybe you will try harder.”


      ~~~

      Methos realized that it was dawn. Still nothing. He finally stood up and decided to investigate. When he reached the small room, he saw that it had been restocked with produce.

      “How?” He examined the room.

      When he kicked a pear out of the way, he saw a small shred of cloth on the floor. He bent down to examine it. It was caught in a crack. A thought came to his mind. He moved the fruits and vegetables to the side and noticed that the crack wrapped around itself. He wondered why he had not noticed this detail before. He took out his sword, placed it on one side of the cracked flooring, and tried to pry it up. It soon gave.

      “Yes!” Methos whispered.

      A passage was hidden in the floor. There was only one thing to do now. Methos jumped in and began his descent. It was harder than Methos would have wanted. The stones sticking out from the small passage were the only handgrips he had to prevent himself from plunging down the tunnel out of control. His footing was virtually non-existent. One wrong step and…

      “Oh, no! Nnnnnooo!” Methos screamed as he plummeted.

      As the passage grew wider, his fall turned into a roll. He tried to form his body into a ball to reduce the damage, but it seemed to be to no avail. The passage turned a corner, and he felt his arm catch on a stone for a split second before giving. From the jolt of pain, he determined that it must be broken. His arms and legs were already being sliced viciously as he fell. Another stone caught his cape. His body began spinning uncontrollably, and he soon found himself suffocating as the cape encompassed his face. The memory of the sandstorm jumped into his mind and he feared having to experience that feeling again. Of course, he had little choice. His good arm was bound to his body by the cape, so he couldn’t free himself even if he could see to do so. Then, the cape finally ripped. The injurious slide began again. The cape unraveled and he gasped for breath. Instead, he took in dust. Choking yet again, he prayed to the gods for unconsciousness. His prayers were not answered. Instead, something very odd happened: the ground under Methos seemed to disappear. A second later, he realized that it was because he was falling through the air. He landed on solid ground around a hundred feet later.

      “There went the other arm,” he tried to articulate, which was difficult thanks in part to the particles that had flown down his throat as he fell. After feeling like he had swallowed shards of glass, he decided against trying to speak again. He tried to turn his head to the side, and felt a new and altogether different kind of pain in doing so. He saw that the bone was exposed on his left arm. This time, he found his wish for unconsciousness granted.

      He did not sleep long, however. His eyes burned as he opened them. He tried to lean up, but only managed to slightly raise his head. He saw that his arms and legs were now properly set in place. In a short time, he would be able to use his limbs again. He wondered who had attended to him. Methos reasoned that it must have been one of the Jettators.

      A set of legs stepped in front of him. The robe on the figure in front of him had a very familiar design. It was the same cloth he had seen only a short time earlier. “Now you see why we use climbing tools when traveling up and down the passageway.”

      Methos could not see the man’s face, but the voice reminded him of someone else. It was not quite the same, yet it was no doubt similar.

      “I am Don Vinciente Marino Ramirez. Greetings, trespasser. Do you have a name?”

      Methos shook his head to clear it. “Where am I?”

      Don Ramirez grinned. “I must say, that is quite a peculiar name. Do you go by anything else, or shall I have to give you a pet name?”

      Methos spat out the words, “My name is none of your concern, Jettator.”

      Don Ramirez continued in his teasing tone. “No, my name is Ramirez. Jettator is a title.”

      “Fine, Ramirez. I would like to know where I have found myself.”

      “Oh, I doubt you have found yourself,” Don Ramirez retorted.

      ~~~

      Methos briefly found himself losing consciousness again, and when he revived a short time later, his arms and legs were free and partially healed. Don Ramirez sat beside him, and now Methos could tell that the two Ramirezes bore a strong resemblance to each other.

      Methos tried his inquisition again. “Where is this?”

      Don Ramirez reached for a clay bowl from a nearby table. “That is a question you should have asked before you came here.”

      Methos struggled and managed to sit up. “I am not in the mood for mind games.”

      “Then you came to the wrong place.” Don Ramirez offered him the bowl. “Here. Eat some of this.”

      Methos accepted the bowl from Don Ramirez. He looked down to see what he was expected to consume. It was some sort of brown paste that did not look too appetizing. Methos realized that he had not eaten since he had fallen down the passage, and his stomach told him that it was much past due. He scooped some of it up with his finger and tried to slurp it down. He found himself gagging instead.

      “Not that great, is it?” Don Ramirez chuckled. “But I promise: it is good for you.”

      “Are you sure?” Methos whimpered.

      “Ha ha! Would you like some fruit?”

      “Yes, please!” The juice from the fruit helped drown down the disgusting slop that he had been served.

      “Here. Have some water as well,” Don Ramirez said, offering a canteen. “I would offer you something more solid, but your voice gives away that you could not swallow it.”

      When Methos drank the water, it helped to soothe his sore throat. Soon, he found the canteen to be empty. Too soon for Methos’s preference. He could feel that the dirt on his face had caked from the stray droplets. His head still feeling dizzy, Methos tried to articulate a question. “What…are the Jettators?”

      Don Ramirez gave a look of faux deep thought and said, “What would you think us to be?”

      “You…seem to be some kind of immortal faction, possibly bent on overthrowing the general.”

      Don Ramirez leaned in. “Oh, so that is how you see us! Hmm….pray, tell more.”

      Methos began to feel a bit dizzy again, but he strived to stay focused. “You are apparently making close friends with these villagers in hopes of leading them to support your cause.”

      “I hope that you have no plans of being a truthsayer in the future, my young friend,” Don Ramirez remarked.

      “So…my analysis is false?” Methos said, rubbing his throbbing head.

      “Just misguided. You see, we have no political ambitions. We are peace lovers, not warmongers.”

      Methos looked puzzled. “Then what is your purpose?”

      Don Ramirez stroked his chin and took a bite of a piece of fruit. “We look for an alternative to the Game.”

      This news was incredulous to Methos. “You mean that you do not care about the Prize?”

      Don Ramirez shrugged. “Not particularly. The Prize will be won soon enough. Why bother with it now?”

      Methos thought he must be lying. “Is this not the Gathering?”

      Chuckling, Don Ramirez replied, “And who told you that?”

      “The general did. He said that Zeist is the land that has been set aside by prophecy to be the last great battleground of the immortals.” It admittedly sounded stupid when he repeated it.

      “Did he?” Don Ramirez scoffed. “Well, I am not so sure about that. There may be hope for us immortals yet. Have you heard about how the Priests have been exiling the criminal immortals?”

      “I have not,” Methos admitted.

      Don Ramirez seemed to stare off into nothingness. “It is said that my brother and Connor MacLeod could receive this very sentence. I can only hope so.”

      Methos changed the subject. “Where can I find the other MacLeods?”

      Don Ramirez snapped back his attention to the wounded man. “Well, one of them happens to be here. Would you like me to take you to him?”

      “I would, very much so.”

      ~~~

      The pair approached a large crevice in the cave. On the opposite wall, a segment of the rock wall appeared smoother than the rest.

      “Hello!” Don Ramirez’s voice echoed.

      A loud rumbling noise came from the opposite wall. Clouds of dust billowed out from around the smooth section of the wall. It began slowly falling away from the rest of the rock. Don Ramirez and Methos watched as it was lowered down by chains in front of them. It was a drawbridge.

      When the dust cleared, Don Ramirez said, “Follow me!”

      Methos was not too enthused to walk over the seemingly bottomless crevice. The loose pebbles and dirt on the drawbridge did not help the situation. He did not want a repeat of his recent slip-up.

      Don Ramirez stopped to greet a woman at the doorway. “Welcome back, friend.” the fellow Jettator greeted.

      “So is that the only way in or out?” asked Methos.

      “Indeed,” confirmed Don Ramirez.

      Methos peered inside the entrance. He saw walls extending up for several hundred feet, with two opposing sides lined with row after row of crops. The plants were attended to by figures in light tan robes. Large wicker elevator systems transported the workers and their produce vertically. The room was illuminated only by lights behind each row.

      “Where does the light come from?” asked Methos.

      As if on cue, several rows of lights went out for a second. Then they reappeared as others went out.

      Don Ramirez stared toward the ceiling. “Someone must be traveling over the mountain surface, blocking the system.”

      “What system?” Methos asked with sincere curiosity.

      Don Ramirez gestured upward. “Behind these walls is a complex system of mirrors and magnifying lenses that extend to the surface and take in sunlight to supply the plants with the energy they need.”

      “How are they watered?”

      “Through an irrigation system stemming from an underground water source.”

      Methos tilted his head. “It sounds very complicated.”

      “Yes, it is. That is why I did not design it!” With that, Don Ramirez whistled toward a worker.

      “How can I assist you, friend?” the worker asked.

      Don Ramirez responded, “Do you know the whereabouts of our friend Duncan MacLeod?”

      “Yes, friend,” he said, pointing. “Tending the rye on the third level.”

      “Thank you, friend.” Don Ramirez led Methos toward an elevator.

      “You all seem to be on…friendly terms,” Methos noted.

      “It is our customary greeting down here. When you spend every day tending crops in an underground garden, any nicety is a relief.”

      Methos nodded. “I see.”

      Don Ramirez signaled Methos to board the lift. Methos was not sure how stable the contraption was, but considering the design of this place, he decided to trust their judgment on engineering. The elevator slowly rose to the third level. Methos glanced down and watched as the robed Jettators on the ground floor grew smaller and smaller. He realized that looking down was not a very good idea if he wanted to keep his stomach from churning. The wicker basket came to a jolting stop, sending Methos stumbling forward and doing no favors for his barely-healed injuries. Don Ramirez stepped onto the third level with a sore Methos in tow. They walked past row after row of rye until they reached a figure crouched over the dirt, planting seed.

      Don Ramirez stopped. “Duncan MacLeod, this is Methos. He comes in search of you.”

      Duncan stared up. “You look familiar….have I seen you somewhere before?”

      Methos remembered words spoken by Katana only a few days before: “Since you saw this Duncan MacLeod at the temple, he will be your primary target.”

      Methos turned toward Duncan and spoke. “Duncan MacLeod, I am here to arrest you for crimes against the state. Dead or alive, you are coming with me!”
      __________________________________________________

      "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
      --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

      Comment


      • #4
        Part IV: The Guest Contributors (1/2)

        A. Aleander

        Methos saw an expression of utter terror on Duncan’s face. He tried to shake away feelings of sympathy. This MacLeod was a traitor, a rebel. And he had a date with General Katana’s sword.

        General Katana…Methos’s mind drifted back to a few days before…

        Methos had received his orders to go and find the remaining rebels, including Duncan, and had left Katana’s garden area. The Kurgan had passed by him to enter the garden. When he had seen the disdain in the Kurgan’s eyes at seeing him, Methos had felt compelled to hide behind the doorway and listen in to the conversation to see if he would be mentioned.

        "Katana," Kurgan had greeted in a most friendly manner.

        "Kurgan. What a surprise. What are you doing in here?" Katana had responded.

        "A question begging an answer: why did you let that worm Methos spy on your behalf? Why not send someone, like Kortan, for example, after the traitors?"

        "Kortan's a dumb heavyweight! He's no good as a spy. And Methos has the casualness that we could definitely use. Besides, I think he likes it that way," Katana had said.

        "And since when do you care what the others like?" Kurgan had complained. "I would like a kingdom, a place for me to rule... But you don't seek to satisfy my needs."

        "Kurgan..." Katana said, and faced him on an eye to an eye meet. "You were and probably will remain my greatest student as far as mind manipulation and predatory skills are concerned...but I can feel the potential there in this immortal Methos." he said, tightening his fist. "Anyway, I have told you, everything on time. Soon, very soon..." he had said.

        "Enough promises..." Kurgan said, and squashed the table beside him. Katana remained calm. "You know I could crush you like an egg in my hand. But also know that I respect you, and I won't do that..." he said, and left Katana behind him.

        Methos had hid as the Kurgan had passed, and had hoped that he had not been spotted. Then he had peeped through the doorway.

        Katana had stood still, looking at the table. Then he began to talk to himself.

        "Methos... Maybe he could succeed me one day, when I decide not to live anymore... But surely that day will never come. As I said to you, Kurgan, soon...very soon..." he said, and drunk some water.

        Methos had decided that it was time to get out of there, but before he left he had heard Katana say, "Ahh, time for the trial. I hope the priests will turn them over to me."

        As he remembered this conversation, Methos once again stared at the face of Duncan MacLeod, wondering what potential this fellow immortal had. Not that it mattered, since he would never get to use it.

        All for Katana's favor...

        “He is not going anywhere!” shouted Don Ramirez, but before he could draw his sword, Methos shot an elbow into his gut, sending him falling to the ground level.

        Methos drew his sword and pointed it at Duncan, who was still crouched. “Choose right now if you want to come dead or alive.”

        “I will be executed either way,” noted Duncan.

        “Who knows? For the right information, the General may let you live.”

        Duncan smirked. “Do you know what ‘live’ is backwards, per chance?”

        Methos paused for a second to consider this strange statement. “‘Live’ would be ‘evil’…”

        With that, Duncan leaped up and tossed dust into Methos’s face. By the time Methos regained his sight, Duncan was armed with a sai. Methos noted that he had no doubt been using the sai to tend to the crops. Now it presented itself as a deadly weapon.

        Methos swung his sword, and Duncan caught the blade in the tsuba. Methos was just strong enough to keep Duncan from twisting the sword out of his grip.

        He pulled out and swung low. This time, Duncan used the sai to block the blade from slicing off his left leg. He then kicked Methos in the gut.

        Methos stumbled back, and regained his stance. A nearby robed worker tossed Duncan another sai. Both immortals took a defensive stance.

        Duncan lunged first, which proved to be a bad decision. Methos ducked and rolled, slicing his right arm with the sword along the way.

        Methos watched in horror as Duncan found a scythe that was leaning against the rock wall. He picked it up and began spinning it threateningly.

        “This could get messy,” Methos said under his breath.

        The blade of the scythe came swinging toward Methos. He blocked with his sword, but still found his left shoulder sliced open. Methos used his sword to brace the handle of the scythe and slid forward.

        Duncan was tackled nearly to the floor. He dropped the scythe and grasped onto a rope from the elevator for support. Methos punched him in the face, throwing him even more off-balance. He lost his footing and slid several feet down the rope.

        Methos looked at the dangling Highlander. Then he noticed that the lift was rising. Soon Duncan would rise back to the third level.

        Methos sporadically swung his sword at the rope just as Duncan was within his reach. The first slice did not completely sever the rope. The second sent Duncan plummeting.

        Duncan lied in a pile of wicker that used to be an elevator. His body was contorted, and he was not making a move. Methos promised himself that he would tell Katana about this later.

        The joy was short-lived. The other Jettators assisted Duncan in popping his joints back into place. Soon, he was standing on his own, now armed with a sword of his own.

        Methos looked around for a way to get down to the ground level. He noticed the scythe and an insane idea entered his mind.

        Don Ramirez and Duncan looked up as Methos slid down the side of the wall, dragging the scythe behind him to slow his descent.

        “Impressive,” Don Ramirez had to admit despite himself.

        Methos leaped off the wall, sword in hand. Duncan ran up to meet him with his own blade. Their swords clashed, sending out a shower of sparks in the dark room.

        Duncan slashed. Methos parried.

        Methos thrusted. Duncan blocked.

        Neither one could get the upper hand.

        Then Methos saw an opening and went for it.

        Duncan looked down to see a sword in his gut. Falling back, he glanced around as if looking for some escape.

        The glare from the mirrors on the side wall caught in Methos’s eyes, and he found himself temporarily blind. Still, he shouted, “There can be only one!”

        Duncan reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, round explosive. He tossed it at the closest mirror, and the explosion shattered the glass.

        As Methos went for the decapitation blow, Duncan rolled on the floor and dashed for the opening in the wall. Methos followed in after him.

        B. Bebop

        Methos stumbled groping along the ledge dazed by the blaring light of the mirrors above. Duncan tried to exploit this but only to find his bowels falling out of the wound he sustained earlier. He struggled to contain himself literally losing Methos in the searing beams of light. Methos immediately took advantage; he jumped from the beam above holding one of the giant mirrors.

        However on the surface someone passed in from of the lens making the whole cavern go dark, causing Methos to fall into another beam below. Duncan hears something like a piano falling out of a ten story window. He laughs trying to take the high ground, still holding his bowels together. This lasted only minutes before Methos jumped up to the ledge where he was staggering.

        They once again drew their swords and entered into heated combat. Methos pounced forward onto Duncan only to rush upon Duncan’s sword spitting blood in his face. Methos then attempted to slash at Duncan’s throat only to be thrown from Duncan’s sword and back into free fall.

        They continued to jump beam to beam back and forth. Crashing through each mirror as they fell, they continued to fight, only to find themselves closing on a small bright light no bigger than a pin.

        Duncan finally took the upper hand and slashed Methos across the back three times, causing Methos to become more enraged. Methos lashed back, almost cutting his left arm off. His gut had healed, but this blow weakened him greatly and allowed Methos to attempt to take control of the chaos. He immediately found this difficult when Duncan jumped to the supports above, smashing the mirrors. Methos soon found himself in a hail storm of glass.

        The pin hole of light now appeared to the only way to reach the surface and safety. He found though that it was far too small for him to pass through. Methos was closing on the beams below him. He immediately unsheathed his sword and began to hack through the opening. The rock and debris rained down upon Methos, who was still trying to recover his speed from the shower of broken glass. Finally Duncan pierced through the barrier and climbed through into the world above.
        __________________________________________________

        "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
        --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

        Comment


        • #5
          Part IV: The Guest Contributors (2/2)

          C. Andrew NDB

          "Give it up, MacLeod!" Methos shouted after Duncan disappeared through the barrier. Though rapidly closing the gap between them, the Highlander still had one hell of a head start on him. "Damn good show, though!"

          With a playful grunt, however disparaging, the agent of Katana rushed after him sword-first and entered the opening.

          He could feel the heat encompass him almost immediately, beating down on him not only from above but from the sandy rock around his feet. Blinking and squinting his eyes as he struggled to adjust to the piercing light of the mid-day sun, Methos did well to keep his guard up.

          They had come out onto the surface on a precipice jutting over the steep mountainside of one of the land of Zeist’s higher crags –- he really couldn’t be certain which one. Sparing a glance, he gazed in measured awe out across the dune-strewn landscape, the crags reaching into the sky like a hand of bleak fingers.

          His brief glance was cut short by Duncan swinging his sword -- a scimitar, it seemed -- up and over him, slashing downward hard and swift against his quarry.

          Without turning, Methos swung his own blade up over his head and blocked Duncan’s slash, and then spun around for the riposte. Parrying a measured strike, Methos reached over, grabbed the Highlander by the hair, and yanked his head and jaw into his knee as he brought it up sharply. As Duncan staggered backwards from the no doubt searing pain, Methos added insult to injury by kicking sand into his face and eyes. If that wasn’t enough, he laughed about it.

          "Curse you and your bloody General..." Duncan seethed, doing his very best to regain his composure and footing over the next few seconds despite the pain.

          Methos stood fast and permitted him this time -- now whether it was out of respect or pity he couldn’t quite decide. The man had just been disemboweled. "I doubt a curse will be necessary."

          "Whatever."

          He threw the Highlander’s casually blade off as he made another swing at him, arcing the momentum of his blade down and away toward Duncan's legs.

          The Highlander was good, he had to cede. Tempered. Had his skills with a sword been quite at the level of his misplaced ideals, he just might have been in over his head hoping to bring him in or down at Katana’s behest.

          Duncan sidestepped and jumped on instinct, barely missing the blade that sliced through the air just inches beneath his boots. In mid-air, Duncan coiled himself about and made a bold swing of his blade toward his opponent’s neck. With futility, that move was blocked by a quick jab upwards of the blade.

          Curving Duncan’s scimitar off him, the lithe agent of Katana jumped completely over his foe, and arched his blade once again toward the Highlander in back. His intended victim pulled a full reversal, and jabbed his blade upwards himself to compensate, successfully doing so.

          "Oh, I can do this all day, you know," Methos said, calmly, bringing his blade about for another blow.

          Biting his tongue and with a quick and violent slash, Duncan's attempt at a parry –- that still ended with Methos’ blade finding its place in between his ribs -- knocked him back from the sheer force of the blow, his haphazard footing leaving him ill-prepared. When the inertia sent him stumbling to the sand-strewn ground Methos was there ready, his blade poised over the Highlander’s neck for the killing stroke he was only too happy to deliver by this point.

          The two opponents locked gazes, each struggling to catch their breath. Methos cracked a wry grin in spite of himself.

          "You can’t say I didn’t give you the option of living, Highlander," he raised his sword above his shoulders, "but dead it is!"

          As he began to swing to deliver the final blow, Methos was startled as his blade was suddenly blocked in mid-swing by a third party’s rapier.

          With annoyance, Methos slowly followed the sword with his eyes to the man holding it. It was a short man in tattered, blue robes. Young, though if he was an Immortal –- and he had to assume such –- it was impossible to say… during the rough scuffle on the way up it would have been easily for him to miss the buzz of a nearby Immortal.

          The unwelcome newcomer stood between the two combatants, brandishing his weapon and standing in an embittered showing of defiance and contempt. An impressive showing, if not for the fact that his grip on his rapier seemed to be shaking.

          "Enemy of the revolution, I challenge you!" the young man bellowed.

          "Right, then." A sudden thrust of his blade putting the young man on the defensive, Methos wasted no time in bringing it down and across in an abrupt manner.

          The head of the young man -– a bit of the hood still crowning it –- promptly dropped to the sand separating Methos and the recovering Duncan.

          The somewhat bemused grin on Methos’ face seemed to wane as his glance drifted to the nearby Duncan MacLeod, nearly fully recovered. As the beginning most lightning tendrils of the young man’s Quickening began to inch their way toward the victor and Duncan began to stand with the aid of his sword a very worried look, in fact, began to dawn on Methos’ face and features. “Oh dear... perhaps I didn’t think that through...”

          Dropping his sword, quickly becoming seized in the throes of the Quickening, Methos did his best to keep his gaze firmly on the Highlander. As the coursing energies of the lightning continued to pour into and through his body he watched him, waiting, expecting his opponent to seize the moment -– the opportunity -– and take his head. He surely would have, in the Highlander’s place.

          The moment never came. Even as the Quickening came to its end and Methos was left on his knees in a weakened state, the Highlander did not strike.

          Recovering his sword and staggering to his feet, he assumed a battle stance. Seemingly waiting until it seemed relatively certain Methos was on equal terms, Duncan raised his own weapon. “Very well then... shall we?” Methos spoke.

          Before Duncan could offer an answer -– physical or otherwise -– the very ground they stood upon seemed to begin to shift and quake. The precipice on which they had been fighting –- perhaps compromised by the brash young man’s Quickening –- cracked and shuddered, the entire precipice beginning to loudly tip, heave, and grind its way toward the mountainside below.

          Methos bit his lip and nodded, lowering his sword. "That’s… never good."

          Duncan nodded futilely. "Aye."

          The two opponents, bedfellows for the moment, found themselves holding on for dear life –- or whatever the Immortal equivalent was –- as the precipice became dislodged from its foundation. It began sliding along an arduous descent of the steep mountainside.

          As the segment of rock plummeted down uncontrollably, Methos attempted to stab his sword into the face of the mountain. His blade snapped in half, and his right arm was dislodged.

          Duncan’s luck was no better. His chest was caked with blood from the most recent stab wound. His mouth was filled with blood and vomit. The flesh of his hands was shredded in the rockslide. If Methos had time to focus on anything other than his own survival, he would have felt sympathetic.

          On either side of the sliding rock platform, huge boulders bounced toward Methos and Duncan. They sped down and over the immortals, moving faster due to less friction. One hit Methos in the back, nearly paralyzing him. Another broke Duncan’s left arm, and MacLeod lost his grip. When Methos felt a heavy ball of stone strike him on the side, he slipped and fell from the platform as well.

          ~~~

          Methos was in his mother’s arms. He had just tripped on the sand and was now covered in scratches. Tears filled his eyes, and his mother was there to wipe them away. No worries, no fears. Only comfort.

          ~~~

          Methos gasped as he revived from the fall. His whole body was covered in blood-caked dirt. He could not raise his head, and one of his arms was buried under stone. He lifted the other arm and saw that the fingers on his hand were pointed in every direction except for a natural one. He could only assume that his other hand was in the same condition.

          He saw his leg sticking out from the rubble, and noticed that the foot was turned backwards. He realized that it might be a while before he could resume his chase. He wondered if Duncan was in the same condition.

          Then Methos heard a familiar voice. It was that of Don Ramirez. He and another immortal were pulling Duncan from his newly formed grave. Ramirez said something about having to scan the area to find his position. Methos wondered how a device could detect the Quickening, but passed out before being able to ponder the question.

          ~~~

          It was nightfall when Methos awoke. He had healed to the point that he could set everything back into socket and get back to work. When he was finally able to stand up again, he looked around for any trail or sign of the previous party. The wind had blown any tracks that had been left by Ramirez and company. He decided to return to the village and report to his contact, Arak.

          By daybreak he reached the village, and immediately went to the fruit stand. As he had guessed, the passageway was now sealed off. He then went to the small hut that Arak was renting and knocked.

          “Who is it?” asked a voice from inside.

          “Universal Exports,” Methos replied.

          The door opened. Arak greeted the battered immortal and told him to clean the blood and dirt from himself and change into new clothing. A half-hour later, Methos looked more-or-less back to normal.

          “So I assume that you were unsuccessful?” asked Arak.

          Methos briefed him and then they went to the fruit stand to examine the freshly-sealed entrance.

          Arak ran his hand along the floor. “Well, if it ever was a secret doorway, it’s not now. Do you have any idea where these…Jettators went?”

          “No. But we could investigate the mountain.”

          “Which mountain is it?”

          “I don’t know the name, but it is due south from here.”

          “Oh, that is Mount Bellwood. We will send a team to investigate.”

          “Good. Now, should I return to report to Katana or stay here?”

          Arak frowned. “Frankly, I suggest that you take it easy for tonight. I am not convinced that you are properly healed yet. Besides, the general will be at a hearing tonight.”

          “Who is being tried?”

          “Juan Sanchez Ramirez and Connor MacLeod. No doubt there will be a big crowd in the Blind Court tonight.”

          Methos smiled wryly. “Then I will be sure to be there.”
          __________________________________________________

          "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
          --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

          Comment


          • dubiousbystander
            dubiousbystander commented
            Editing a comment
            "He threw the Highlander’s casually blade off"... really?

          • Tootsie Bee
            Tootsie Bee commented
            Editing a comment
            Insert a [sic] there.

        • #6
          Part V: The Trial

          Methos and Arak rode in a horse-drawn carriage across the dunes. The young mortal stared at Methos’s wounds, which were already nearly healed.

          “So, what does it feel like to know that you cannot die?” said Arak over the sound of the galloping hooves.

          Methos sat silently for a moment. “It is not that I cannot die; it is just that I do not always have the courtesy of a quick death.”

          Arak nodded while chewing at a piece of dried meat. “I see your point. However, it cannot be as horrifying as the knowledge that your life is slowly creeping away every moment.”

          “You are as young as I am, if not younger. Why would you worry about mortality when you have so much life left?”

          Arak stared to the side of the carriage. “I believe that life is what you make of it. And those with more life to live obviously have an unfair advantage over us who live within the finite world.”

          “Unless we lose our heads. Humans do not habitually stalk one another in order to become the last of their kind.”

          “And you do not see yourself as human?” Arak inquired.

          Methos looked down and smiled. “I do not know what we Immortals are. I have not even found the time to ponder the question.”

          Arak smiled back. “I am sure that you will have plenty of time to ponder that and many other questions over eternity.”

          Methos stared into the swirling sand and remembered a time of little pondering. All had been so clear at that time. He could almost see his sister handing him a bowl of meal and then tending to her infant child as their father watched on with a deep smile. Was it all a dream? His life before the lethal sandstorm seemed so distant now, as if they were the fleeting memories of his subconscious upon waking. He did remember when his father told him that he had been found outside their home as an infant. They had not known where he had come from, but they had accepted him as their second child. It had been a simple life, but it was also a peaceful one. Now he found that rest only came with pain. In such a short time, he had felt more physical anguish than he could have ever imagined. This thought was on his mind as he dozed off, and it was demonstrated when he awoke shortly afterward as Arak grabbed him by the shoulder violently.

          The chariot was in flames. Methos noticed an arrow in the side of the chariot and realized that it was the source of the fire. Arak and Methos threw themselves upon the horses that were pulling the moving bonfire and freed the steeds for a quick escape.

          “Where…did…the…arrow…” Methos began, still somewhat dazed.

          “Most likely from your Jettator friends,” Arak responded. “It appears that we are on the right path to collect your friend Duncan.”

          Methos coiled the reins in his hands. “Then let us waste no more time! To the trial!”

          Their feet dug into the sides of their horses, and they were soon out of visual range of the inferno behind them. It was not long before a large cylinder appeared before them. It was the Blind Court, and it was flooded with blood-hungry spectators whose only wish was to see Zeist’s cruel idea of justice be inflicted upon the accused. A popular sentence was death by davpanz. These were long staffs with jagged hooks at one end. The convicted would be tied to a wall and picked apart by the executioners. Methos could hear the cheers for davpanz from those waiting to enter the stone and iron coliseum, and Arak explained what the term meant. The immortal knew that General Katana would rather take their heads personally, but he remembered that the priests did not think fondly of the Game.

          When Arak and Methos arrived and dismounted, the trial was soon to begin, and everyone was already seated. Methos would have to search the whole building in hopes of finding Duncan or any of the other Jettators. The pair walked away from their horses and entered the crowd.

          “Certainly they will be here,” Methos said. “Their leaders are being tried. They no doubt think that they can rescue the poor souls.”

          Arak turned toward Methos. “They could not even get near the inner arena. And the accused certainly will not be able to see or hear their supporters. Have you ever attended one of these trials?”

          Methos shook his head slightly, trying to remain low-key lest they be spotted. “No. I have not been in Zeist for very long, to be honest, and most of that time has been as a spy or a bounty hunter.”

          Arak seemed far less concerned about stealth as he nearly shouted, “Then prepare for a very interesting experience indeed.”

          The Immortal and his younger companion entered a dark circular room, and Methos gasped. Endless rows of seats filled the immense space, and a dark sphere sat in the middle of the expanse. The coliseum was nearly standing-room-only, and the sound of cheering and chanting nearly deafened Methos.

          “You gotta love it!” shouted a nearby man.

          Methos was sickened at seeing such a sport being made for a trial. Within the rock-encased sphere, the three Priests of Zeist were passing judgment on some poor soul who committed a crime. Screams of joy rang when the telepathic judges sentenced the man to death.

          “How are the Priests not distracted by this insanity?” Methos shouted to Arak over the screams, having given up on the thought of being noticed in this chaos.

          Arak leaned over to speak in his partner’s ear. “The spherical glass encompassing them is soundproof and doesn’t allow those within it to see the coliseum. Hence, it is called the Blind Court.”

          “Ahh! Okay!” Methos yelled, but not quite loud enough to overcome the crowd’s roar.

          “What did you say?” inquired Arak.

          “Nothing! Nothing.” Methos returned his eyes to the sphere.

          The screams of the convicted man rose as he was dragged from the court for davpanz, amplified by some unknown form of sound projection.

          “You gotta love it!” repeated the annoying spectator.

          The guards brought the felon out of the sphere and chained him to the one exposed wall in the coliseum. Three men approached, each wearing white masks with blank expressions. They spun the davpanz in their hands and swiped at the chained man. Slash/Slash/Slash! The gruesome execution was over in less than a minute, and more guards came out to clean up the bloody remains. The audience exploded in macabre ecstasy.

          “Next case!” echoed the collective voice of the Priests.

          This time, it was Connor and Juan Ramirez. For this particular trial, General Katana himself entered the sphere, which Arak noted was an uncommon occurrence.

          “The punishment for rebellion is death,” echoed Katana’s voice. “Judge them guilty and I’ll execute them here and now.”

          As the Priests refuted Katana, Methos began looking for Duncan, Don Ramirez, or any of the other Jettators. He quickly stopped, though, when he heard the Psychic Voice speak of exile. Methos split his attention between the shocking twist in the trial and his work, which now grew harder as many in the audience began booing the sentence. He noticed a small group that was not standing among the mob.

          “Arak! Over here!” he half-shouted. He was afraid to speak too loud and give himself away.

          Arak approached and they both began to look among the group. Just as Methos spotted his quarry, a bright flash of light came from the sphere. Methos glanced just in time to see Connor and Ramirez disappear into oblivion. When he turned his head back, Duncan was gone.

          “I saw him go that way!” Arak pointed as he led Methos through the crowd.

          The two men leapt down the rows of the coliseum and ran for the exit near the wall of chains. Duncan and two other rebels burst through the exit, with Methos and Arak seconds behind them. The few attendees of the trial lingering in the adjoining hallway scattered as the men emerged from the exit.

          “Hold it there, MacLeod!” shouted Methos as he pointed a small rifle at the escapees.

          The two men beside Duncan pulled out guns themselves and opened fire. Methos and Arak ducked around a corner as bullets impacted with a crash around them.

          Methos glanced over to Arak. “I’m going in. Cover me!”

          “There’s no way you can get through that spread of gunfire!”

          Methos tapped his gun barrel against his temple and smirked. “I cannot die, remember?”

          Arak gave him a disapproving look. “But they will take you down, and you’ll be worthless to me!”

          Methos paused, and then jumped from behind the corner anyway.

          Bullets zinged by Methos as he soared through the air. One bullet caught his ear as he hit the floor. Droplets of blood washed over his face as he rolled to the wall. His own bullets connected with Duncan’s elbow, causing MacLeod to drop his gun. Arak’s cover fire came down the corridor behind Methos and forced the rebels behind a corner.

          “Hurry!” shouted Methos to Arak. Both of the general’s men moved to a corner on the other side of the long hallway.

          “Rocket launcher!” shouted one of the rebels around the other corner.

          Arak turned to Methos. “That does not sound good!”

          “I concur!” Methos reached for a grenade under his cloak.

          As the rebel with the rocket launcher fired, Methos tossed the grenade toward the other side of the corridor. The grenade skimmed centimeters over the rocket before impacting on the wall beside Duncan. The impact of the rocket sent chunks of rock soaring toward Methos and Arak. Dust clouds blinded the duo as the rubble flew upon them. Methos shoved Arak to the ground and used his own body as a shield, holding his breath so that he would not inhale the dust. Ducking for cover, the rebels failed to notice the grenade beside them. Before they could react, it detonated. The rebel closest to the bomb found himself headless within less than a second.

          “I cannot see!” Arak gripped his left eye. Blood ran down his cheek through his fingers.

          Methos tried to stand up, but found himself buried. “Push up,” said Methos.

          “My eye!”

          “Push up!”

          Arak complied, and they freed themselves from the rubble. Screams echoed from the wall, where at least a dozen spectators were injured from the blast. Another half dozen were injured on the other side, and people ran toward the exits in panic.

          “Hurry, Duncan!” The surviving rebel helped free Duncan. The young MacLeod’s leg was bleeding and possibly broken.

          Methos shook off the fragments of rock from his cloak and stumbled toward Duncan, gun raised. Duncan took out his own pistol and limped down the remnants of the corridor. Neither one seemed to notice the body with the smoldering neck that lay between them until the floor began to rumble beneath him. Blue energy flowed from the neck of the immortal rebel and into the wall of the coliseum. Then the wall exploded. The energy from the head sent a spiral of light between Methos and Duncan. The enormous room was blindingly white as the whole side of the wall crushed countless spectators who had yet to escape from the exit. A segment of the dome above crashed down upon the bubble in the center of the Blind Court, and the Priests and General Katana had to shelter themselves. As the Quickening came to an end, the general stepped out of the remnants of the center sphere and approached the pile of rocks that once had been a wall. Methos stumbled toward Katana, and collapsed beside him. Duncan’s head and right arm clawed out from below the wreckage. Katana approached Duncan, and the young MacLeod glanced up in time to see the general smile.

          Katana turned toward the unconscious Methos. “Mission accomplished, my friend.”
          __________________________________________________

          "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
          --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

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          • #7
            Part VI: The Compass

            “How are you coming along, Methos?”

            Methos glanced up from his bed to see General Katana standing with the Kurgan and Kortan. He had not seen Kortan until now, and was impressed at the size of the man. The Kurgan looked at Methos with less disdain than he had during their time of training. Methos thought that he could even see a tinge of respect within his stare.

            “Better,” replied Methos.

            Katana smiled. He was clearly impressed with the work that Methos had accomplished, even if it had led to the destruction of the Blind Court and the loss of a few dozen subjects.

            “I promise to return to my assignment as soon as possible,” said Methos, attempting to sit up in the bed. A jolt of pain restricted him from completing the movement.

            Katana waved him down. “It has only been a few days. Give yourself time to heal or you will be useless to me.”

            The Kurgan then stepped forward. “When you return to the service of Zeist, you can use this.” In his hand was a long broadsword. The middle of the blade was hollowed out, and the hilt had a small switch built into it. When the Kurgan flipped the switch, the sides of the blade closed inward. “You will want to trap the sword of your opponent within the blade and then hit the switch. The blade of your enemy will be snapped in half.”

            “Interesting,” noted Methos. Then he had a thought. “Where is Arak?”

            “The Hunter?” asked Kortan. “He is currently being treated elsewhere. He has lost his left eye, and will require an infrared implant.”

            Methos remembered that Kortan was employed over the Hunters, an elite group of former prisoners from an undisclosed maximum security prison who serve the general. While not as indestructible as immortal warriors, they are still known for their efficiency.

            “You will get some rest now,” ordered Katana. “You should be recovered within the week, at which point you will receive payment for your work thus far and will be able to return to hunting down the Jettators.” With that, the three left the room.

            ~~~

            When Methos returned to the world, he discovered that the rest of the Blind Court had been demolished and plans were under way to build a large projector inside the main courtyard of the city. Duncan was scheduled for trial in a non-disclosed location, and the event would be projected for public viewing within the courtyard. Methos went to visit Arak at this time and found his face was still bandaged. Arak was unable to talk, but Methos learned that the ocular implant surgery was successful.

            He then spent a week training with the Kurgan, using his new sword. The Kurgan refused to use his own sword, since he was rather attached to it. He opted instead for the standard short sword that was initially issued to Methos. The Kurgan still won most of the fights even with the advantage Methos had. When his trainer was sufficiently satisfied, Methos was given the latest information on the whereabouts of the Jettators. The cave under the mountain had been evacuated, and Katana had the whole agricultural establishment destroyed and sealed off from entry. The Zeistian economy took a small plunge but recovered quickly. There was no trace of the Jettators in the village.

            “Back to square one,” said Methos to himself.

            Shortly afterward, Duncan MacLeod was hurtled into the future, and the gambling polls gave him odds almost as good as those of Connor for the Prize. As each new criminal was captured and exiled, the bets would be placed again. Over the next few weeks, the Priests would project the highlights of future history as it changed. Recently, foolhardy immortals opted to be sent through time to compete for the Prize, but none were able to come close to the MacLeods. General Katana had grown increasingly reclusive as the results came back again and again with a MacLeod as the winner. Methos knew that Katana feared Connor’s return to challenge his authority, and he personally invested every possible minute trying to find more fugitives in hopes of finding one that would prevent Connor or Duncan from being the last. So far, nary a contender.

            ~~~

            “What is this?” inquired Methos.

            “Lead,” answered Arak.

            “How can you be sure?” he replied, raising an eyebrow.

            “My ocular implant cannot see through it.”

            Methos’s eyebrow raised even higher, and he shook his head. The red eye peering through the enormous scar had proved to be beneficial when it came to investigating potential leads, but it had still been three months since a rebel had been captured, and even longer since the pacifistic Jettators had been spotted. Unlike the true rebellion force, those peaceful protestors had the support of public opinion, and the subjects of Zeist had no intention of turning in the group. Kortan had assigned Arak to be the head intelligence officer of the Hunters, which allowed him to serve with Methos during investigatory missions. Methos had heard through several sources that he had been pressured to do so by the Kurgan, who had been impressed by the duo’s work on the apprehension of Duncan. If this rumor were true, the Kurgan never showed it.

            Methos and Arak were examining an armory that was missing five percent of its reported inventory. The discrepancy was discovered by the recently-assigned clerk, who reported it to the commanding officer. The CO had since disappeared, and the clerk alerted the intelligence ministry. The lead in question was a box which had been sealed inside of a wall. Arak had spotted it with his ocular implant and Methos had since removed it and now held the heavy object in his hands.

            “Let’s place it down somewhere,” he said, straining.

            A minute later, the box was open. Inside was what appeared to be a simple compass. However, it was not pointing toward the north.

            “Possibly used to allow the CO to find some hidden fortress if necessary?” Arak suggested.

            “If so, then why did he not take it with him?” wondered Methos, stroking his chin.

            “Should we follow the trail, then?” asked Arak, raising the compass.

            “It’s all we have for now.”

            “The compass seems to be leading into this room,” noted Arak shortly afterward.

            “Or beyond this room.” They opened the door, and found the clerk in front of them. Methos smirked. “I had not been informed that the clerk who reported the case was female. And a striking one at that.”

            Arak continued to move forward in the room, but as he passed the clerk, the needle turned sideways. Arak walked around the clerk, and the needle continued to stay pointing at the clerk.

            “Bad news,” Arak said. “We have to get this clerk to a surgeon.”

            A small cylinder was found within the clerk’s small intestine. Somehow, the clerk had ingested the cylinder, although she had no memory of doing so. Within the cylinder were the plans for the abduction of an oncoming shipment of surface-to-air missiles for the armory.

            “But why would the plans still be hidden within the woman?” pondered Arak. “Why have they not been removed already?”

            “It seems possible that the intention was for the lead box and the plans to be retrieved at some later date. It would clearly have to be soon, before the ingested plans escaped the digestive system,” noted Methos. “Of course, we cannot be sure unless we catch someone in the act of searching for the box.”

            “Another stakeout?”

            “Another stakeout.”

            ~~~

            The crate that Methos had selected as a hiding spot was far from comfortable. He could hear Arak shifting restlessly in the wooden box next to him, and he grew worried that the young mortal would give away their presence to any incoming suspect. Then again, he realized, his own proximity could be just as revealing if the person were immortal. The attractive clerk sat at her desk, checking the daily logs. As usual, she was the last person to leave the office division. The now-concealed intelligence officers had earlier instructed her to keep the door to her room open. The cylinder was hidden in her desk, while the plans inside had been destroyed and replaced with a form from her files, some document full of doublespeak and tedious bureaucracy.

            Methos grew increasingly impatient as he waited, but soon his diligence paid off. A shadowy figure entered the room and went straight to the hidden compass. Soon, the unidentified assailant knocked the clerk out cold and retrieved the cylinder. The figure darted silently out of the bunker. The two crates opened and Methos and Arak began their pursuit.

            “He’s on foot,” Arak noted, peeking out the doorway. “About 50 meters.”

            “We’ll give him a little head start, and then go after him.”

            After a few moments, the duo began the chase across the dunes. They cautiously kept a fair distance from their target, managing to use the large rocks and other obstacles to obscure them whenever possible, and sticking to areas not lit by the moonlight. The figure in front of them moved on, apparently unaware of their pursuit. He stopped in front of a tower of jagged stone and rolled away a segment to reveal a hidden staircase. He went down into the entrance and sealed the doorway before Methos and Arak were in visual range. As they ran up the side of a dune, Methos realized that they had lost their man. Below, large rock formations jutted out of the sand. He knew that the assailant could be anywhere, and even worse, could be armed.

            “Mr. Arak, I think that I’m going to need that eye of yours again.”

            Arak sighed. “We’ll have to get in close for me to use it.”

            Methos replied, “Close enough that we’ll be easy pickings if he’s carrying a weapon.”

            “That’s a fairly optimistic view of the circumstances,” Arak remarked.

            “What would make you think that?” asked a shaken Methos.

            “This would be the perfect place for a rebel hideout, Methos, and if that’s the case, then I believe our worries are much greater than the threats of just one man.”
            __________________________________________________

            "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
            --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

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            • #8
              Part VII: The Traitor

              “We have little choice, Mr. Arak, but to go down into the belly of the whale.” Methos wished that he had some spirits to reduce his inhibitions about entering a potential death trap, but he instead would have to rely on his own self-control to quell his fears. It wasn’t working.

              “I suggest you wear the goggles, sir,” said Arak.

              Methos complied and placed on his night vision goggles. His sight now had a strange blue tint, but it had drastically improved. Not a shadow could conceal anything from him. Even so, noted Methos to himself, the ability to see a gunman does not impair his ability to fire at you.

              As the duo descended the dune, a number of sights were set on them. One anxious sniper accidentally let off a round. Methos heard a bullet as it whizzed by his ear. He dropped to the ground and began to roll for cover. Arak followed suit. Arak peered around a mass of rock, looking among the natural structures for any exposed gunmen. He spotted a tuft of hair behind a large vertical stone, and took aim. A half-second later, a body dropped ten meters to the ground.

              Two men jumped from behind obstructions and opened fire on Arak’s position. The bullets hit nothing but rock. However, Arak knew that if he made one wrong move, that could change. Seeing his friend pinned down, Methos leapt from his cover and fired a pistol at the two men holding Arak at bay. But just as they went down, a bullet grazed his arm, and he jumped back behind the obstruction. He held his arm in pain, and felt a slight dizziness as he caught his breath. Then he reached for a grenade and gripped it as he glanced over the rock. He could make out at least five figures within a close proximity of each other. Taking a chance, he jumped up and tossed the grenade in their direction. A bullet from above hit his shoulder, and he fell down again.

              The blast cracked the base of one of the rock formations, and it quickly came tumbling down. Several other towers of rock soon fell with it in a domino effect. Several moans could be heard from the rubble. The hidden entrance to the underground hideout was now exposed. Methos signaled Arak to its attention, and Arak nodded in acknowledgment. Arak ran toward the opening in the rock as Methos laid down cover fire. Arek made it safely, and took out a few more gunmen along the way. Next, Methos ran for it, and another bullet glanced his left Achilles tendon. Arak took down the sniper and Methos reached the stairway.
              The two quickly descended, Methos facing forward and Arak protecting the rear. Every step sent fiery pain up Methos’ left leg, but he tried to ignore it and pressed on. At the base of the stairs was a short tunnel leading into an archway. From the archway, Methos could hear an angry voice scolding someone about the missing plans. It sounded distinctly familiar to him, but he could not believe his ears. He dismissed it as impossible. As the two passed through the arch into the next room, Methos was bewildered to discover that he was right. There, in front of him, stood the Kurgan, holding the cylinder.

              “The general will be interested to hear that his right-hand man is part of the conspiracy against him,” challenged Methos, who was holding back his shock at the revelation.

              Arak aimed his weapon at the group of rebels in the room. “Everyone here is under arrest for crimes against the state of Zeist. Resist and I will open fire.”

              “There is no need for that,” said a voice emerging from the shadows. “Surely you don’t think that we would dare to challenge the authority of our beloved master.”

              A shadow dropped behind the Kurgan. From the darkness emerged a man with short red hair and a thin beard. Methos thought that he had seen the man in his first mission, but did not know his identity. Arak, on the other hand, knew the man all too well.

              “Kell,” muttered Arak. “You degenerate! You escaped last time, but I’ll be sure you do not walk away tonight!”

              Arak raised his gun to shoot Kell. Methos intervened and held his finger from pulling the trigger.

              “No!” shouted Methos. “We will handle this matter properly! Besides, you would be wasting your time. That man is immortal…I can feel it.”

              Arak responded, “That man is a butcher! He murdered some of my closest friends!“

              “Ah, revenge…so sweet,” hissed Kell. “Your hate will only get you killed, mortal.” Kell turned to the Kurgan. “And as for you…I’m not fully convinced of your allegiance to the cause, my friend. Why don’t you prove yourself…by killing our immortal intruder?”

              The Kurgan was clearly uneasy at the prospect, but he unsheathed his sword and nodded to Methos. The immortal spy gulped in fear as he reached for his own sword.

              “Do I even stand a chance?” Methos thought. “Who knows? I am still not even sure whose side he’s really on. You never can tell with the Kurgan.”

              The crowd of rebels stepped back as the two immortals circled each other. Arak followed Kell’s every move with his eyes, lest the criminal attempt to escape during the duel.

              “I would be careful, Kurgan,” taunted Methos. “I know your fighting style. I know because you taught it to me, my friend. Maybe you taught me too well for your own good. We’ll see.”

              “Ah,” growled the Kurgan. “You don’t think that I taught you everything, do you? You still have much to learn, young one. It’s a shame that you will not have the opportunity.”

              The Kurgan swung his heavy sword at his opponent’s torso. Methos blocked It expertly and returned with a thrust at the shoulder. As expected, the Kurgan ducked and spun to take a slice at his exposed arm. This was their old routine; the Kurgan was informing Methos in his own way that his loyalties had not changed. The two men were putting on a show for the audience, nothing more.

              “A bit slow, Kurgan! Are you growing soft, old man?”

              “Never!” he snarled back. “I’m just warming up! Yee-ahh!”

              Sparks flew through the room, providing an extra source of light beyond the torches on the stone walls. Shadows of the warriors bounced across the face of Kell as he grinned at Arak. The young man’s hands began to shake in anger, but he restrained himself. It looked as if Kell were saying something to him, but he could not hear anything over the clashing of steel. The Kurgan held his sword in front of him like a javelin and charged forward. Methos dived just in time to escape being speared to the wall. The blade was jammed into the rock, and the Kurgan could not risk trying to pull it out, lest Methos have an opening for a strike at his neck.

              “What a shame,” laughed Methos. “And you were doing so well, too.”

              “Here, take this!” shouted a rebel, and a new sword flew into the Kurgan’s hand.

              “You spoke too soon, Methos! Now I’m gonna teach you your final lesson! Rahh!!!”

              Methos thought at lightning speed, “Block, twist, and…got it!”

              The Kurgan’s new sword had found its way into the center of Methos’s sword. Methos activated the contracting blade, pinning his opponent’s sword within his own. The Kurgan fell to the ground and rolled as Methos went for the killing blow. The Kurgan jerked his own sword from the rock wall, but instead of charging at Methos, he turned and began cutting down the rebels.

              “No!” shouted Kell. He drew his own sword and was about to charge when blood rushed over his eyes. He toppled over, temporarily grounded by Arak’s shot.

              Methos joined Kell in taking down the criminals. “It’s nice to be on the same team again!” Methos yelled over the screams of the terrified men.

              “You nearly blew my cover, young one!” Kurgan replied. “This was my case!”

              “I guess we were just attacking the same thing from different angles! If you want, you can have the credit!”

              “Nah, I don’t need it!” the Kurgan laughed. “Perhaps we can get you a medal, though!”

              ~~~

              The rebels who survived the onslaught of Methos and the Kurgan were executed in the courtyard as a pre-show to the main event: the final exiles. The Priests had declared that tampering with the future was posing potential dangers to the stability of the universe as a whole. The crowds did not know what that meant, but they did know that this event would be the lead-up to the final Gathering. Whoever survived this time would be the one to return to Zeist as a free man. The identities of those to be exiled had not been revealed, but the promoters had promised that the trial was a must-see event. The courtyard was filled with blood-hungry spectators. Bookies were already taking advance bets. The question on everyone’s mind was, “Could anyone beat the MacLeods?”

              Methos looked down through a window at the crowd in disgust. He was still angered over the events of the previous day, when he had learned who was selected for exile…

              ~~~

              “Mr. Kell, heh, you thought that you could lead an army against me,” said Katana scoffingly. “Well, where are we now?” He paused and leered at Kell, and then continued. “Oh, but you won’t be alone. You see, I believe in loyalty.”

              Arak and Methos looked at each other, puzzled. He could not mean---

              “Kurgan, old friend, you have betrayed me. Stealing secrets and giving it to the enemy is a big no-no, you know,” Katana said, wagging his finger.

              The Kurgan stood solemnly, acting unsurprised at Katana’s accusation. Katana approached his second-in-command and stuck his index finger into his chest.

              “You will be banished from Zeist and forced to fight for your right to return. I expect you to take down your opponents mercilessly and secure the Prize for yourself. At that time, you will have a choice: you may set up your own kingdom there, or you may return and take your rule here. Either way, the ultimate power will be in your hands.”

              Methos could not hold his tongue. “General, this is madness! The Kurgan was not working against you! He was serving your highness as an undercover--”

              “Silence, Methos!” growled the Kurgan. “The General may do as he wishes.”

              Methos glared angrily at General Katana, but kept silent. Katana bent forward to whisper something in the Kurgan’s ear. Methos strained to make it out. “Get the Highlander for me.”

              The nearly indecipherable response: “I will, my lord.”

              Katana stepped away from the Kurgan and approached Kortan. “You will take his place by my side. And you,” he said, turning to Methos. “Despite your insolent outburst, I believe you to be a smart and cunning warrior. Therefore, you will be promoted to second officer of the state. Colonel Methos, show the remaining rebels no mercy.”

              Methos now understood the General’s plan, although he found it repulsive. “Yes, my lord,” he responded.


              ~~~

              Now, as the trial began, he watched as the Priests declared Kell and the Kurgan to be the last contenders for the future Prize. Arak joined him at his side, newly promoted to captain. Methos looked on at the agony on the Kurgan’s face as his body was ripped from this time into another. “That is true loyalty to the state, Arak. Don’t you forget it.”
              __________________________________________________

              "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
              --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

              Comment


              • #9
                Part VIII: The Return of MacLeod

                Katana leapt from his chair and toppled it over. Then he took up his sword and began shredding the curtains that adorned the walls. Methos watched in horror as the leader of Zeist brought ruin to his own throne room.

                “How?! How can this be?” Katana shouted at Methos. He ran up and grabbed him by the cloak. “How could he have failed? He was the perfect warrior!”

                Methos could say nothing. He was still in shock from what he had seen on the view screen. Katana released his cloak and walked off with his head drooping in depression.

                “Leave me. I need to be alone.”

                Methos exited the room hastily. When he entered the hallway, he held his right hand against his face, fighting to hold back tears. “The Kurgan…gone. Killed by that Highlander. Now he has the opportunity to come back here and bring his future perversions to our holy state of Zeist. The Priests surely knew that he would win. Why would they allow this?”

                Five weeks had passed since the Kurgan and Kell had been exiled. Each week, the Priests would provide visual updates on the progression of the Game, and each week, Katana would slip further into madness. This was no longer a simple contest for him, Methos realized. His closest ally was in danger, and Katana was truly frightened for his life. For the longest time, it looked as if the Kurgan would win. He quickly became the strongest of the Immortals in the future, and he took heads mercilessly. Kell was doing well at first, but the Kurgan eventually tracked him down and took his head. Then came 1985 and the Gathering, when the unthinkable happened.

                “There can be only one!” Connor had shouted over the broadcast. Cheers and boos could be heard from the audience outside as Methos watched the event with the general. Arak appeared in the hallway, moving toward the entrance to Katana’s throne room. Methos laid his hand on the mortal and shook his head. Mutual sadness filled their eyes.

                “We must…we must do something about this,” stuttered Arak.

                Methos tightened his grip on Arak’s shoulder. “I will not rest until every last rebel is impaled on my sword. I will avenge the Kurgan’s death; I swear it.”

                ~~~

                Two days later, Methos waited with Corda and Reno as Katana spoke with the Priests. They were not sure what the meeting was about, but they assumed that it had something to do with Connor. The two assassins were anxiously pacing the room while Methos sat patiently on the floor.

                “There is no way that MacLeod will come back. He has waited too long!” screeched Reno in his high-pitched voice.

                “That is what the General said, but I’m not so sure,” said Methos, gazing blankly into a pool of eels. “I was there when he was selected as the leader of the rebellion. Ramirez believed MacLeod was meant to overthrow Katana, and he made Connor believe it, too.”

                “Time will tell,” responded the deep, scratchy voice of Corda, “but I doubt it.”

                Methos heard Katana approaching with furious haste. “We’re about to find out, I believe.”

                “Corda! Reno! Where are you?” Katana’s voice echoed through the dark halls.

                “That’s your cue,” said Methos. “See you, boys. I’m off to hunt for Jettators.”

                ~~~

                Katana was dead. Kortan and Methos stared at each other in disbelief. Neither one could comprehend how their world could change so drastically in such a short time. First, the Kurgan was exiled and killed. Then Corda and Reno fell, and now the General himself. And the Priests were about to make contact with MacLeod. Apparently, Connor had forgotten all about the offer to return home until the Priests’ foreboding words drove Katana to pursue the then-aging victor of the Prize. But with his memories restored, he was once again the greatest threat to the stability of their world. Methos knew that Kortan was next in line to rule. Methos wasn’t sure if Kortan would trust him as his number two man: he wasn’t as close to Kortan as he had been to the General or the Kurgan. However, he would support any decision that the new head of state made, even at the cost of his own political power.

                “We will speak to him now,” rang the ominous single disambiguated voice of the telepathic Priests.

                The blue projection screen before them revealed Connor kissing a blond mortal woman in front of a burning building that had once been called the December Installation. Suddenly, Connor ascended into the air. He reached out and took his lover in his arms with him. Then, as if by magic, both stood in the Priests’ chambers. The woman, frightened at the alien setting, whispered something inaudible to Connor, and he gave her a reassuring response. Methos could not stand by and watch this revolting spectacle any longer. He drew his sword in anger, but his arm was halted in midair by an unseen force. His gaze went up to the robed figures above him.

                “No, Methos!” shouted a Priest, breaking out of unison with the others. “You will not raise an arm against this one!”

                The three Priests then turned to Connor. “You have done well, Highlander. As was promised to you, your freedom and faith is restored. You may return to Zeist if you wish, pardoned of your former crimes. Or you may continue in your own time, and we will grant you a single request.”

                Methos fumed at this statement. That was never part of the agreement! Kortan turned to him and shook his head, warning the immortal to take no action. “I do not see how he could be so compliant at a time like this,” Methos thought. “I know what he would say: who are you to speak against the holy word of the Priests? I for one tire of their authority.”

                Connor held the woman close. “My memories of the past are vague. I cannot return to that which I do not know. But there is one thing that I would ask of you. My mind is clouded to that former life, but some things I can remember. I remember that not all Immortals of that time believed in fighting for the Prize. Some had set themselves apart for the betterment of humanity.”

                “The Jettators,” Methos thought aloud. He was not surprised. The Jettators have always had ties to the rebellion, even as they proclaimed their vow of noninterference. They veiled themselves in nonpartisan pacifism, but they were as much a threat as madmen like Kell. Methos had gone in search of the Jettators after the death of the Kurgan with the intention of wiping them out. He had no intention of extending any more mercy to the immortal cult. Just an hour before the news had arrived of Katana’s death, a caravan had appeared at the capitol. It was led by Don Vinciente Marino Ramirez, and it consisted of the head of every school within the sect: a representative of every aspect of human culture. These men had vowed to preserve their knowledge at all costs, even forsaking the Game. And now they had turned themselves in, knowing fully well that they would be executed. “Or did they know this was coming?” Methos pondered silently.

                Connor continued. “The actions of men in power from my time have left human society in shambles, and despite my greatest efforts, I have been unable to battle this corruption alone. I need these…Jettators,” he said, nodding to Methos, “to assist me in restoring the world to its former glory.”

                Although Methos was relieved at the thought of being rid of both MacLeod and the Jettators, he couldn’t help but think that he would feel more secure if they were all exterminated. The thought of them existing and thriving at any time frightened him.

                “We will grant this request,” spoke the voices, “for we have foreseen that you have a far greater need for them than even you know. Go back to your world, Connor MacLeod, and we will give you what you desire.” Connor nodded and then disappeared along with the woman as a wave of purple energy overtook them both.

                ~~~

                It was strange seeing the empty throne. Methos had expected to see Katana’s successor to be sitting in it, but instead the large, pale figure of Kortan peered at him from across the room. Methos gave him the customary salute and waited for him to speak.

                “I have just returned from a meeting with the Priests,” he began. He signaled to the chair above them. “That seat is yours.”

                “What?!” Methos said. They couldn’t have passed up Kortan, could they?

                Kortan tried to conceal his frustration, but Methos could hear it in the stilted reply: “They informed me that my services were needed elsewhere. I am to build a new kingdom for them.”

                Even more bemused than before, Methos asked, “Why would they need a new kingdom?”

                Kortan continued, “They have decided to relocate their power. You will remain here to oversee the transition, and then you will come with us to the new city of Moganda.”

                “Where will this new kingdom be?” he asked aloud.

                Kortan’s eyebrows raised over his sickly pale forehead as he replied, “The future. The time of Connor MacLeod, in fact.”

                Methos threw his hands in the air. “But that makes no sense! We just rid ourselves of him and the Jettators! Why--”

                “The world of the future has experienced a great catastrophe,” explained Kortan. “The already unstable nations have all been brought down by this disaster. It is the perfect time to swoop in and take over, and there’s nothing that MacLeod or his band of pacifists can do about it.”

                “And what shall happen to these people?” Methos asked.

                Kortan stared to the ceiling as he recited the Priests’ bizarre declaration. “They will be left to their own devices. The Priests have declared that they are through dealing with this rebellious and insolent nation. They will build a new world, a world that they can rule with no resistance. And I am the man to ensure that their plan does not fail. But to do that, I will need your help. Keep things under control until we are ready for you. I have sent your man Arak a list of the men we will be bringing with us. That is all.”

                Methos wanted to ask more, but he accepted the dismissal. As he moved toward the door, he heard Kortan call his name and turned around.

                “One more thing,” Kortan added. “Tell no one, not even the ones on that list. We don’t want this news reaching the public yet.”
                __________________________________________________

                "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

                Comment


                • #10
                  Part IX: The Priests

                  “Why are we abandoning these people?” Methos mumbled as he took another drink of his ale. “They need a leader as much as those in the future.”

                  Arak nodded. “I agree. With the Jettators gone, taking on the rebellion will become even easier. There is no need to run now.”

                  “Not so loud,” whispered Methos, signaling Arak to the presence of the other patrons in the pub. “This news is not to be released until Moganda is established, the Priests said. Until then, we need to keep it quiet.”

                  “Oh, sorry.” Arak’s human eye expressed remorse and his mechanical eye went to a slightly dimmer shade of red.

                  Methos was showing the first signs of inebriation. Arak decided that it would be best if they left the public establishment and found somewhere more private to continue the conversation. The two departed for the palace.

                  “It won’t be too long,” slurred Methos, “before you’re in charge of everything, from the way it’s going. They’ll probably knock me off next.”

                  “You don’t really believe that the Priests are really trying to rid themselves of the military, do you?” Arak asked. “They need you to help keep the peace. Why would they send you to your deaths?”

                  “Who knows what’s going on in those bald heads of theirs?” joked Methos, who was having trouble walking straight. “Maybe I should go ask them personally.”

                  Arak laughed. “I don’t think they would appreciate you questioning their holy authority. And it certainly wouldn’t look good if you did it in your current condition.”

                  ~~~

                  Later that night, Arak received a visit from Methos in his quarters.

                  “I’ve decided to do it,” Methos announced. This time, he was something approaching sober.

                  Arak looked at him incredulously. “Do what? Complain to the Priests about their declaration?”

                  Methos gravely stared back and said, “I cannot help but think that there is something they are not telling us. As you said yourself, their excuse about the continued threat of rebellion doesn’t hold up. They’re hiding something, and I intend to find out what.”

                  “Don’t go!” Arak implored. “Your career could be on the line if you do! Take my advice: just sleep on it. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll thank me for stopping you.”

                  Methos laughed. “I guess you’re right, my good friend. It’s best to just leave things alone. Why get myself in trouble over nothing? See you in the morning.”

                  Arak saw him to the door and watched as he departed down the long, dark corridor. However, he didn’t see Methos turn the corner, exit the barracks through a window, and depart into the night.

                  “At least now Arak can’t be held responsible for this,” he thought. “It’s better if only my neck is on the line.” Methos smirked as he realized that it probably would be his neck on the line.

                  After traveling for much of the night, he arrived at his destination and entered silently. He slid through the stone passageways, careful not to make a sound. As he reached the sentencing chamber, the room was suddenly flooded with lights. He jumped back, startled.

                  “We’ve been expecting you, Methos,” echoed the voice of the Priests.

                  “Expecting me?!” Methos exclaimed. “I don’t understand…”

                  “Of course you don’t understand,” replied the Priests to his thoughts. “Your finite mind cannot grasp the truth about us. Even though your body can live forever, your mind is still limited by human perception. You have the truth in front of you, but you fail to comprehend it.”

                  Methos felt violated. They had penetrated his mind and exposed his thoughts. What more were they capable of?

                  “Much more,” they declared. “And we will not allow your feeble attempts at protest prevent us from our goal of relocation.”

                  “But why leave to the future?” he inquired aloud, as if it were necessary.

                  “Because the world as it exists now will soon come to an end,” they cryptically revealed.

                  A blue holoscreen appeared in front of Methos. In it, he saw what he realized was the near future. Large waves rushed upon the sand dunes of Zeist as heavy rain poured from the sky. The large cities and small provinces were wiped away. Men, women, and children were consumed by the flood, and Methos could see them gasping for air as the water overtook them. He felt sick.

                  The Priests spoke again. “Moganda will provide a safe haven for our rule to continue. Despite the efforts of the Jettators, we foresee that the subjugation of the Earth will come with little effort. Seven centuries will pass before anyone rises against us, and at that time we will bring you to lead the Hunters against the next MacLeod threat.”

                  Tears filled Methos’ eyes. “But what about these people? Our people? We cannot leave them to die!”

                  “It is their destiny,” replied the Priests.

                  “No!” he responded. “You have intervened with destiny before. You have played the Immortals like a game of H’lat! How is this any different?”

                  “Our greatest mistake was bringing in the Immortals,” noted one of the Priests sorrowfully. “We wanted to build a grand civilization, and to do that, we thought that we needed figures that could live forever. We scoured through history, looking for the greatest Immortals to take with us.”

                  The screen now showed a variety of Immortals in various times and locations as they disappeared from sight, leaving those left behind with expressions of confusion. Methos recognized many of the faces: the Kurgan, struck down by his own father; Juan Sanchez Ramirez, killed by a runaway cart; Don Vinciente Ramirez, overtaken by natives in the New World; Connor, mortally wounded on a Scottish battlefield. All of them stripped from their own lives to serve the Priests.

                  “When we realized our folly,” continued the Priest, “we sought to return them to their own time. Thus began the sentence of exile—to restore the future history. We sent as many as possible, but we soon saw that it hardly mattered. A MacLeod was destined to win the Prize, no matter how many we sent. And we realized that our time was growing short here. We needed to move on, and we could not do that with Katana in control.”

                  “I knew it,” Methos whispered. They sent Katana to die.

                  The Priest ignored his remark. “Now, if you will hold your allegiance with us and assist our relocation efforts, we will not punish you for your temporary display of insolence.”

                  “What are you people?” shouted Methos. “You don’t care about these people or the people who you plan to crush next. You don’t care about the Immortals beyond what benefits you receive from our condition. What kind of men are you?”

                  The Priests scoffed, and Methos shuddered with fear. “Maybe the question really is, ‘Are you men at all?’”

                  “That is not your concern,” the Priests said. “We will ask you one last time for your obedience. If you refuse, you will lose everything. We will put you right back where we found you: buried under the sand. You will not be found by our men, but will stay there for many years until a tribe of nomads finally come and dig you out, and like them, you will wander the earth. You will have no memories of this place, which will be forgotten for all time. It is your choice, Methos.”

                  Methos drew his sword. “Do you really think that I could serve you, knowing what I know now? I will not bow to you; rather, I will spend my every breath from now until eternity hunting you. I will ensure that the Game does not end when you wish it to end, and I will wait out the centuries for your arrival. The threat of a MacLeod will be nothing compared to the danger that I will pose for you. I promise you that I will not forget. So go ahead, send me away. You are only postponing the inevitable.”

                  The Priests disappeared into the shadows. Methos braced himself for an attack. No attack came; instead, he felt the same wrenching pain that other Immortals had felt before him as the world around him disappeared in a flash of light. Then, silence.

                  He awoke as hands freed him from the sand. He looked around him, holding his head to help relieve the pain shooting through it. A tribe of Bedouins surrounded him.

                  “Hello, stranger. We are surprised to see that you are still alive. Do you have a name?”

                  He looked at the man speaking to him and said, “Yes…Methos of Zeist.”
                  __________________________________________________

                  "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                  --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Part X: The Future

                    "Is this the right place?"

                    Methos stared at the Stonehenge-like structure. It had been abandoned for millennia countless to all but him, and now the Jettators have chosen it for the site of the ceremony. Methos slipped on the damp grass of the knoll. Walking here was troublesome enough without the ceremonial robe. He fumbled with the sword beneath his cloak. It amazed him how things had come together again. Despite all the changes that he and others had made to the present timeline, there was still a Great Catastrophe, even if it was not the one promised. There was still a need for the Jettators, even if humanity found a new way to fall. And there was still a MacLeod to lead them back to peace, even if it wasn’t Connor.

                    Methos had once admitted that Duncan MacLeod was the best of the Immortals. However, that was before MacLeod had entered the wellspring of the Source. Now he was more than the most honorable among murderers. He was the last hope of humanity, and it was hard even for the crusty old Methos to not get swept up in his promises. But even when Duncan called for the assemblage of the Jettators, Methos wasn’t sure that he could stand behind him. He had an older and deeper oath than that of the Jettators, one that stretched back before recorded time and fueled his every action since then. He had thought that the Source would be his way to avenge himself upon the Priests, but he was wrong; yet, if things develop as prophesied, he would have a chance to fulfill that oath, and the Jettator oath would only get in the way. Methos sighed. The MacLeods always had a strange effect on him, and they always seemed determined to make a good man of him. He knew that there was no use in debating with Duncan, and so here he was, ready to take the oath.

                    He looked around and saw that almost every other living Immortal was here. He could only think of a handful that were missing, the most obvious being Kortan. He had seen Kortan once or twice throughout the centuries, but the mad Immortal did not seem to recognize him. None of his old allies did, for that matter, and he nearly lost his head to the Kurgan in learning that truth. Methos had hoped to find a new band of brothers in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one that would join him in his quest for vengeance against the Priests. He had reasoned that four powerful Immortals would be enough to take down those mystical beings, but he had not reasoned that Immortal ties dissolve. Methos still felt a painful regret when he thought about the bloody end of the Horsemen. He quickly shook his head and focused on preparing for the ceremony. There was no point in stressing over the past, especially since the focus of this present was on a more hopeful future. That is, if Moganda is never created.

                    As the Immortals prepared to take the oath, Methos noticed a dark horse approaching in the far distance. On it was an unidentifiable figure, too far away to set off the Buzz if Immortal. Methos could not be sure, but he almost expected it to be Kortan. If that fiend arrived after they had taken the oath, there would be no one who could stop him from claiming the Prize; and if he did that, their efforts here would be for nothing. Methos would have prayed that he was wrong, except that he wouldn't know who to pray to by this point. Of course, with the timeline seeming to force itself to follow its original course, he was wrong. He would be witness that day to the death of a MacLeod, the victory of Kortan, the promise of the formation of Moganda...and the prophecy of another MacLeod to take up the hero’s mantle and win back humanity's freedom. Even on that day, he knew that a new adventure had begun, whether it suited him or not.

                    ~~~

                    Seven centuries have passed since the Earth plunged into darkness. Seven centuries since the Jettator swore to regain from man his lost knowledge and freedom. All the Immortals took the oath except one...but not all intended to uphold the oath.

                    The Jettator of the Chronicles knew that the time was approaching when he would be asked to give his knowledge over to the new MacLeod. He could sense that the prophecy would soon be fulfilled and that his Quickening would be required. The young Highlander would need to understand the legacy of his Immortal race, and the oldest living Immortal would be the source of that knowledge. This Jettator lived alone in the ruins of an old church that had once housed a vast library of texts on the Immortals. Being holy ground, it seemed the perfect place to store the Watchers' chronicles after the Great Catastrophe. The burn damage all around him attested that he was wrong in his assumption.

                    When he was awake, he slithered amongst the half-destroyed library. Most of the time, he tried to remain asleep, half-hoping to never awaken again. He never bothered eating anymore, knowing that physical sustenance was not required to continue his meaningless existence. His only valued possession was the charred scarf around his neck. He had lost almost everything else, possibly even his mind. The lone Jettator had given up on the prophecy being fulfilled. By this time, he saw no reason to believe in anyone, a MacLeod or otherwise. Kortan and his forces had stripped him of any lingering loyalties to his people or his world. When he awoke one day to find a strange stir in the air, he did not want to believe it at first, but there was no denying that he was feeling the pull of the Gathering.

                    "MacLeod has come," he rasped, the first words he had spoken in ages.

                    He began to prepare, though he could not decide for what he prepared. For the first two centuries, he had directed his efforts toward preparing for the time of the new MacLeod. For the next three centuries, he shifted to preparing for his revenge. After the tragedy of two centuries past, he had given up bothering to prepare for anything. As the time of the new Highlander's arrival drew closer, his preparations resumed, but this time they were to ensure that no matter what happened, he would not lose his Quickening. He considered whether or not to cut his long, matted hair and beard. He also considered bathing and eating for the first time this century. He decided to settle for sharpening his sword. His weak hands moved over the blade, and he knew that he needed the strength that only came from physical nourishment. Thus began his feast upon the rats that shared his home.

                    More time passed. He could not know how much. By the time he felt the faint tinge of the Buzz, he had made his decision: he would kill the Highlander and use his Quickening to empower himself for his attack on Moganda. Kortan would fall, and then he would finally have another shot at the trio who had destroyed his life so long ago. He heard the steps of the gavors outside, and the bellowing voice of Don Vincente Marino Ramirez. He could also feel a presence that was both familiar and yet different than that of any Immortal he had ever met, and he knew that it was the Highlander.

                    "This is where you will find the great Methos, keeper of the chronicles of the Immortals! It is important that you know from whence we came if you are to direct us in where we are going, MacLeod!"

                    Methos silently waited in the dark as they passed into the entrance of the church. He would do as he had always done: wait for an opening and then strike unexpectedly. The time of prophecy had come, and he was ready to take the leap. As Methos crouched behind the pews, he heard footsteps fall over dust-powdered floors. The crackling of burnt paper fragments joined in as the intruders stepped over the half-ashen prayer books.

                    "Where is this Methos, Ramirez?" asked the naive young Quentin as his sister Clyde trailed behind him with her pet gran, Gaul. She was close enough that Methos would be unable to get a clean slash at the neck, so he would have to improvise.

                    "He must be here somewhere," replied Don Vincente with a note of suspicion. "I can't believe that he would let the place run down like this!"

                    "I usually don't have guests," said a voice behind Quentin as a blade came to rest beside the young MacLeod's neck. "So I sometimes forget to tidy up."

                    Ramirez drew a katana. "Methos, you know the penalty for breaking the oath of the Jettator! Move away from the boy and accept the penalty for your treachery!"

                    "Ha! You think I'd be foolish enough to give up my Quickening to either of you? I won't have some foolish vow preventing me from my justice!" Methos drew back his sword to decapitate Quentin.

                    "No!" screamed Clyde as she tackled Methos. Methos pushed her to the floor, but by then Quentin had moved out of range.

                    "MacLeod, the sword!" exclaimed Ramirez as he tossed the katana to Quentin.

                    Methos charged and swung his blade at Quentin's sword arm. Quentin deflected the attack, and their swords locked as they pressed against each other. It was then that Methos saw the sword that had once belonged to Duncan. He felt a seizure of guilt as he realized the madness of his actions. In this daze, Quentin was able to push him back and take a swipe at his neck. Methos dodged before he could lose his head, but the scarf slid away from his neck along with a lock of his overgrown hair. Quentin stepped back in horror as a glint of light illuminated the aggressor's exposed neck.

                    "What happened to you?" gasped Quentin, dropping his sword. He watched as Methos crumpled to the ground and wept, the charred flesh of his neck standing out against the healthy skin surrounding it.

                    Methos tried to compose himself as he tossed away his own sword. He guessed that the boy knew something about how the vulnerability of an Immortal's neck prevented it from healing properly, but he doubted that Quentin could guess that his whole body had once looked as his neck did now.

                    "Quentin, hand me the sword!" demanded Ramirez. "I must fulfill my oath, as he has failed to fulfill his!"

                    "No!" replied Quentin. "He seems confused. He doesn't need us to kill him. He needs our help!"

                    Methos saw in this young boy all of the other great MacLeods before him, the MacLeods who had inspired a man too old to be inspired. He arose and helped Clyde to her feet, apologizing as courteously as he could. The girl understandably pulled away from him in disgust and hugged her pet for comfort.

                    "Quentin, do not trust him. He has already proven himself to be dishonest," declared Ramirez, moving toward the katana.

                    The Highlander signalled Ramirez to halt. "He spoke of justice. Maybe there's some way that we can help him find that justice before asking him to stand by his oath." Quentin turned to Methos again. "Please tell me: what happened to your neck?"

                    Methos rubbed his throat and glared at MacLeod. "Kortan happened."
                    __________________________________________________

                    "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                    --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

                    Comment


                    • dubiousbystander
                      dubiousbystander commented
                      Editing a comment
                      HELP! --> He heard the steps of the gavors outside <-- What is gavors? What is it supposed to be? I'm confused. Also, will have a hopefully delightful present for you, Tootsie Bee, soon.

                    • Tootsie Bee
                      Tootsie Bee commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Gavors are the ostrich-like creatures that the characters ride in lieu of horses in the Animated Series.

                    • dubiousbystander
                      dubiousbystander commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Ahah! Thank you so much, Tootsie! Suffice to say, Google did not give me that answer.

                  • #12
                    Part XI: The Burning

                    The church was awe-inspiring two centuries ago, sporting distinctive neo-Rococo architecture and filled with some of the greatest pieces of New Wave Baroque tapestries and sculptures of the 21st century. It was the last great refuge of beauty in a world stripped of its creative soul by Kortan. Methos, however, was no longer impressed with the beauty around him. His impatience at the second coming of MacLeod had led him to lose any faith in the reconstruction of humanity. His jaded thoughts had turned his heart to his ultimate goal of executing the ancient Priests. The not-so-ancient priests and monks that surrounded him now were no longer of any interest to him. The holy men who helped him to preserve the secret library were concerned for his soul, but even the most trusted of them could not reach him anymore. They finally resigned their efforts and turned all of their efforts toward the day in which their deliverer would arrive. Methos wanted to mock them for praying to the sky, but a part of him remembered the need for hope, and he held his tongue.

                    One day, a deliverer did arrive. However, this one was only interested in delivering them from their mortal coils. The religious men were mortified when they saw the tanks approaching, but they called upon the strength that only the devout can have and prepared for this intrusion. They draped large sheets over every piece of priceless art, brought the interiors into artificial disarray, and sealed the entrance to the library. When Methos was informed of Kortan's approach, he insisted that he remain within the library in case it was in need of protection. In reality, he was hoping that he would be out of range of Kortan, lest the evil Immortal sense him and attempt to take his head. He could not fulfill his purpose if he died in empty heroics, so he embraced his cowardice.

                    Rather than requesting entry, the Hunters knocked down the doors of the church and stormed into the room. The priests signaled in vain for the Hunters to lower their weapons as the self-proclaimed god of this world made his entrance.

                    Kortan approached the nearest monk and addressed him sternly. "Rumors persist that this building houses contraband materials. Direct me to these materials immediately so that they may be destroyed."

                    The monk did not respond, and Kortan snapped his neck for his insolence. He then addressed a nearby priest, and the same chain of events played out for the audience of clergymen. Kortan did not proceed to the next priest. Instead, he nodded to the general who stood to his side.

                    "Fire at will! Eternal power to Kortan!" exclaimed the general.

                    The Hunters mowed down the priests and monks in seconds. Methos could not see the slaughter, but he heard it and felt it. He slid back into the farthest crevice he could find and tried to ignore his feelings of shame and self-loathing.

                    "Tear this place apart," roared Kortan, and his men obliged.

                    As the beauty of centuries past was brought to ruin around him, Kortan surveyed the church. He had heard from a captured young monk that there were more than just sculptures and tapestries here. Although this monk had not seen the books himself before being abducted by Kortan's forces in the village, he had heard of them spoken in hushed tones by those who had been there much longer than he. Kortan was coldly examining a replica of Ecstasy of Saint Theresa when he felt a slight tinge of awareness. Despite being out of direct contact with other Immortals for the longest time, he immediately knew that he was feeling the Buzz. With a mighty swipe of his arm, he knocked the art piece from its station and found that it hid a secret doorway.

                    Methos could feel the Buzz as well, and he could now hear the doorway being broken. Any hopes of hiding were lost. He retrieved his sword and rushed for the entrance to the library. By the time he reached it, the room flooded with the light from the doorway.

                    "Methos!" declared Kortan.

                    The Hunters gunned down Methos before he was in range of Kortan's neck. Kortan stood over Methos' temporarily-paralyzed body and glared at him in disgust.

                    "So, the Jettator seeks my head on Holy Ground. Any more rules you wish to break?"

                    Methos stared back defiantly. "You criticize me of betrayal while you destroy humanity's past! You wipe out all of the great works of mortal man so that only you may be venerated! You suppress any hopes or dreams, any sparks of creativity, any sense of beauty..."

                    "Says the man who cowered among his books while his loyal companions were massacred outside? Some noble one you are," sneered Kortan.

                    Methos was rapidly losing blood, but he managed to spit back, "I don't have to justify myself to scum like you! Now, are you going to take my head or not?"

                    "Ha," laughed Kortan. "I don't think I will. Not only is this Holy Ground, but it's also a place that you hold dear, so I think you should be witness to its destruction. Besides, I wouldn't want a coward's Quickening, and I'd rather see you burn alive." Kortan turned to his general. "Torch the room and seal the doors."

                    Methos was too numb to stop them. He tried to scream in protest, but he found himself choking on blood. His life temporarily slipped away...and when he awoke, the only light in the room came from the inferno around him. He gasped for breath and took in a gasp of black smoke. He choked to death...and awakened to find himself burning to death...and awakened to find himself burning to death...and awakened to find himself dying from full body burns...and awakened to find himself dying from full body burns…

                    ~~~

                    Methos now examined the boy who gave him his undivided attention. His mind was filled with any number of questions, but one that stood out more than any other was, “Were you a foundling, Quentin?” Perhaps it was a trivial question, but it would possibly answer a riddle that had challenged the old immortal for thousands of years: were the immortals foundlings because of the Source, or were they so because of the temporal paradoxes caused by the Priests’ tendency to pull individuals from their original lives only to place them right back again under the guise of exile? He might have asked the same question of Don Ramirez, but he knew that the boy’s mentor had never been properly restored to the time stream and thus retained only the false memories fed to him after his abduction. His name was Spanish, and he didn’t get that name on the dunes of Zeist, and Methos realized that the Jettators called to the future by Connor MacLeod in a since-usurped timeline were robbed of their identities and birthrights.


                    “Ramirez,” Quentin said, “How could we judge a man who has experienced so much suffering? I have lost my mother and my people, but I’ve never died a thousand deaths in a row. Have you?”

                    “How can we judge his sanity, either, MacLeod?” Ramirez retorted. “You are correct: even in my days as a fugitive in Zeist, I never experienced such horror. But Methos has long been a man of ambiguous alliance even before the recent horrors he described. I remain unconvinced, but if you insist, I will spare his head for now.”

                    Methos turned and offered Quentin a half-smile. The other question that rattled in his mind concerned the young MacLeod’s origins: “Do you remember the Source?” Surely not. The boy probably did not even know the particular details of the prophecy. Methos knew only because of a discussion from seven centuries past…

                    ~~~

                    “You had a child?!” Methos asked incredulously. “Then where is it?”

                    Duncan leaned forward over the table at the bar and looked Methos straight in the eyes. “He returned to the Source. Anna and I were allowed to experience a lifetime with our son in a single moment, but the Source revealed to us that our child’s destiny was far greater than the mundane life we could offer him. So it lifted him away, holding him until his time is to come.”

                    Methos wondered if Duncan was as drunk as he was. “So like, the fetus was beamed out of Anna and won’t be born until the future? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds, MacLeod? That’s some real Stanley Kubrick star child insanity you’re talking about.”

                    Duncan took a sip from his mug. “But that’s how it happened. When the Source knows that humanity is in need of a savior, my little boy will appear and protect the world from an eternity of darkness. If you live to see it, maybe you can even be his Watcher.”

                    Even then, Methos wondered if the bar room prophecy would have any connection to the Great Catastrophe, if such an event were to occur in this timeline. Duncan certainly believed it once that catastrophe happened and Kortan arrived to claim the Prize from the Jettators. He even gave his life for that belief.

                    ~~~

                    Seven hundred years gave Methos plenty of room for skepticism, but now, the son of Duncan MacLeod had finally arrived at his cathedral, and for the moment, he had to pretend that he was on board with the boy’s foretold destiny. After much effort, he came to a compromise with Don Ramirez: he would teach Quentin the lessons of the past while assisting the resistance in planning its final strike. Methos would participate in that assault, still immortal, and once they had defeated Kortan and the Priests, Methos would cede his Quickening to the young MacLeod. The last point did not go through easily, but Methos argued his case with a simple point: he was never meant to be a Jettator. In some long-lost version of this event, written over countless times with alternative histories, Quentin MacLeod had defeated Kortan, and he did it without Methos. Otherwise, the sly immortal argued, Methos would have been temporally displaced to Zeist along with the other Jettators. Methos knew that his reasoning was fuzzy--he couldn't prove that he was absent from the original timeline--but Don Ramirez was himself so fuzzy on the nature of time travel that he reluctantly took the old man's word for it. And that's all Methos needed.

                    "At last," Methos thought. "The Gathering."

                    __________________________________________________

                    "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                    --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

                    Comment


                    • dubiousbystander
                      dubiousbystander commented
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                      Yeah, what ARE those priests up to?

                    • Aleander
                      Aleander commented
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                      Moreover, Quentin is Duncan's son?!

                    • Tootsie Bee
                      Tootsie Bee commented
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                      @dubiousbystander: The Priests are extraterrestrials who came to Earth to make the immortals as an experiment. Wait, no: that's the idea I abandoned after the release of Prometheus. You'll just have to wait and see how I've revamped their motivations.

                      @Aleander: Hey, Duncan *was* drunk when he said it. Maybe, just maybe... But I conceived this story before The Source came out, and I have to find some way to work that movie's plot in now that I'm finishing the fan-fic.

                  • #13
                    Ch. XII: The Assault on Moganda

                    *BAM* The wall exploded, sending back the guards posted nearby. The resistance fighters opened fire with their own pilfered rifles as the green-armored Hunters struggled to regroup. The assault on Moganda was far more fierce and violent than Quentin would have preferred, but Methos was insistent that mercy was best reserved for later. In truth, he favored such an assault because it would give him the cover fire he needed to make a dash for the throne room. He might have needed a map if the fortress’s layout weren’t a near carbon copy of Katana’s base in Zeist.

                    “Methos, come back here!” Don Ramirez shouted as the oldest living immortal dashed through the Hunter forces and disappeared down a corridor. “Hrm, I knew he would betray us!”

                    Now hiding in an air vent and letting the chaos run past him, Methos played his next move carefully. His propensity for surviving six thousand years wasn’t merely luck, after all. When the adjoining hallway had nearly cleared, he knocked out a lone Hunter passing by his hiding spot and donned the man’s armor.

                    “Dressing up in an air vent,” he sighed, “is not my brightest plan, but it will have to do.”

                    The loud clanging of the armor against the sides of the vent began to attract some of the nearby Hunters, but Methos soon slipped his head out to deter their curiosity.

                    “One of them went in here!” he said, now wearing the helmet. “I’m following him in! Don’t worry about backup: stay focused on the rebels!”

                    This explanation seemed to satisfy them, and Methos was allowed to return to his task. After barely squeezing by the unconscious body of the Hunter in the shaft, he continued down the claustrophobic tunnel toward the throne room. He emerged not too far from the entrance, but far away enough that no one spotted him exiting the vent. As he ran up to enter the door, a commanding voice called out to him.

                    “Soldier, what are you doing? The battle is that way!” It was the voice of Arak, whose face may have aged and whose hair may have grayed, but who still bore the same mechanical eye that he had received from that firefight so many centuries before.

                    “I must report an urgent development to Lord Kortan!” Methos replied, trying to disguise his voice. He couldn’t be sure where his old friend’s loyalties lied after so long. After all, the man had obviously agreed to abandon Zeist and follow the Priests to the future, so he may not have the same drive to resist their authority as Methos did.

                    “If it is so urgent, I will report it to him! Give me the information!” Arak insisted. Somehow, he struck Methos as less bright than the man he once knew, but perhaps it was merely the impression created by Arak’s long-term loyalty to a mad tyrant like Kortan. Methos had long since regretted his allegiance to Katana, but he had thousands of years to come around. Arak didn’t.

                    “Sorry. No time!” Methos blurted out as he dived for the door. Arak chased into the throne room after him, drawing his sword. Methos wasn’t sure whether to drop his charade or stay focused on finding Kortan as quickly as possible. He assumed that he would be able to outrun Arak, but the physically older man was managing to gain ground as Methos scanned the room for his immortal adversary. The Buzz indicated that Kortan was near, but he was not making himself known.

                    “Stop in the name of Moganda!” Arak insisted.

                    “Alright,” Methos replied, halting. He began to raise his hands as if to surrender, but instead removed his helmet and tossed it aside. He turned around dramatically and said, “Hello, old friend.”

                    “Old friend?” Arak responded with genuine puzzlement. “I do not know you, intruder!”

                    “Arak, it’s me! Methos!” the immortal said with a touch of brotherly affection.

                    “He won’t remember you, Methos,” the voice of Kortan taunted from behind his shoulder. Methos turned back around to see Kortan descending the stairs, wearing a skintight black costume that covered everything but his face. “In fact, the two of you have never met. One of the Priests’ dirty little secrets: all of those Hunters we knew back in the old days? Clones. Clones of soldiers from this century! Oh, the lies they did weave, am I right? And I’m sure they’ll just keep feeding us more once they arrive from Zeist about five minutes from now. The time machines, the nifty holoscreens, those flying skateboards that Korda and Reno just couldn’t get enough of? All created here first in Moganda!”

                    Methos was skeptical. “If he’s a clone, then why is he missing an eye?”

                    Before Arak could speak out of turn, Kortan hushed him. “Run along now, Arak. Protect the city. I can handle him.” As Arak reluctantly slinked out of the room, Kortan continued: “I suppose that’s just another odd effort by the timeline to keep itself straight. History repeating itself. It’s why the MacLeods always win. It’s why Quentin will win if I let him have a chance at me. Always Connor or Duncan or…what was the name of that other one? Colin, maybe? He won the Prize a time or two, if memory recalls. Anyway, I don’t intend to let Quentin near me. I have the room rigged to explode, and I’m going to detonate it once he darkens my doorstep with his impetuous little face.”

                    “Is this the plan you concocted with the Priests?” Methos aggressively asked.

                    “The Priests? I haven’t a clue what they’re planning,” Kortan said. “They promised me that they’d arrive right before Quentin could best me in the fight and help me win the battle. But frankly, I don’t believe them, which is why I intend to skip out on this little swashbuckling session. I’ll hide out for a while and see what they choose to do with him. Then I’ll take his head at my convenience, preferably by cheating. Because really, and I think you know this better than anyone, that’s the only way to win in this world.”

                    “Good luck getting the chance,” Methos responded, drawing a sword from the Hunter armor. “I have my own score to settle with you before the boy ever gets here.”

                    Kortan tssked in response. “Oh, Methos. I know you’re mad that I burned down your little church and all of its knickknacks, but let’s be honest: you’re really here to fight the Priests. You didn’t live all this time to risk losing your head to me before you could taste your sweet revenge. Instead of tempting fate, why don’t you dive into the next room and greet those sanctimonious bald guys yourself? Here,” Kortan said, throwing Methos a sword nigh-identical to the one he had wielded as an agent of Katana, “for old times’ sake. Another invention from my scientists that the Priests would love to swipe and claim as their own. I want them dead as much as you do, Methos. I’m just a bit occupied right now with the MacBrat. Why don’t you do the dirty work for me? It’s what you were always best at. And if we both survive our little skirmishes today, maybe someday we can meet up and settle old scores. How’s that?”

                    Methos looked at the sword in his hand. It was the choice between a recent but intense hatred and a long-simmering quest for vengeance. But Kortan was right: it was too late to place the mission on the line for a relatively recent vendetta. He almost hoped that Quentin would lose, though, if only to give Methos a second chance at Kortan’s neck later.

                    “You live for now,” Methos said simply as he strode into the room that Kortan had indicated. As soon as he passed the doorway, the door slammed shut and sealed him in the pitch-black room. Letting out a curse, Methos tried in vain to pry the door back open before surrendering to the possibility that he may have walked into the most obvious trap ever laid for him. Before he could spend much time in regret, the room suddenly lit up with a vibrant teal glow. One awe-inspiring swirl of energy later, the room came to life as a circular platform raised from the floor and served as a dais for the Priests.
                    __________________________________________________

                    "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                    --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

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                    • Andrew NDB
                      Andrew NDB commented
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                      I am very happy to see this fanfic survive the purge. Are you combining Methos of Moganda into it now?

                    • Tootsie Bee
                      Tootsie Bee commented
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                      Yes. This is my only story that survived unless you happen to have a copy of my TAS finale somewhere.

                  • #14
                    Chapter XIII: The Council of the Purple Suns

                    Methos was poised to strike, but before he could leap onto the dais, one of the Priests held out his hand to halt him. Methos struggled against the invisible force holding him in place, but he could not move.

                    “We welcome you, Methos,” the three Priests said in telepathic unison. “You have pursued your quest for vengeance for a long time. We would be remiss if we did not say we were impressed. Your will has defied even our memory-wiping technology. Your determination has held strong even as so many mortal loves have tempted you with a life of peace. We have seen it all, Methos.”

                    The immortal winced at the memories of abandoned loves and unendurable loneliness. Even that short reprieve many centuries ago—the time that he shared with Joe, Duncan, and Amanda before the Source pulled him away—felt like a blink of eternity’s eye. The restraining force loosened around him, and he collapsed in a wave of intense grief.

                    “Yes, Methos: such loss. But we can take it away,” one of the Priests cooed aloud. “Surrender to us, and we can rewrite it all. This time, you can go back and set it right. No more mistakes. No more regrets. No more wasted years. We can take away the shame…”

                    Methos suddenly sees himself in a burning village. He looks down and recognizes that he is in the garb of Death. Kronos is beside him, running an elderly man through with his sword. Methos himself is holding a young woman whose face looks strikingly familiar—Cassandra! One of the countless faces who suffered under his sadism. This isn’t her village. Not her first death. It’s from the time that she served as his concubine. She had begun to trust him at that time…until he betrayed her to Kronos soon afterward. But even before then, he had taken her along and made her see the Horsemen repeat the horrors that they’d done to her own people. Such cruelty. Such unforgivable cruelty.

                    “…and the sorrow,” continued the Priest.

                    Now Methos was back in the 2000s, shortly before the world began its descent into ruin. He was looking into Julia’s eyes and trying to keep his resolve. Her son Joseph was sitting on the couch, reading a children’s book that Methos had given him: a first edition signed by the author, no less. For a brief moment, he’d thought that he could let it go. The quest didn’t seem so important now. If he could have just one mortal’s lifetime of love…

                    “No!” Methos screamed, jumping back to his feet. “What I have done, I have done. What I have sacrificed, I have sacrificed. I will have to live with my choices, but they remain my choices, not yours! You have dictated our destinies for long enough! I will not negotiate with you. I will not spare you. I will not wax eloquent to impress you. Your game is over. You will not interfere with the young MacLeod’s victory, and you will not rewrite history any longer.”

                    The Priests returned to a unified unspoken voice. “We will not stop Quentin MacLeod. We will allow him to do as he has done before. And in doing so, he will secure OUR destiny.”

                    Again, Methos found himself pulled out of the room and into a memory of the past. But this time, it was not his past. It was a past timeline, the original timeline.

                    ~~~

                    Quentin MacLeod sat on Kortan’s throne. He was at least a decade older than the boy Methos knew, and his features were slightly different. He had been born of the Source from Connor MacLeod in this time thread, but otherwise, most events of the last 700 years remained intact. An aging Don Vinciente Marino Ramirez served as his council.

                    “Ramirez, no matter what I do, I cannot bring peace to these people! The Prize fusts in me worthless, rotting in my mortal form as the evils of the world continue! I must do something more. I have to save humanity from the dawn of civilization. It’s the only way to save them.”

                    Despite protests from Don Ramirez and the other living Jettators, Quentin MacLeod made use of Moganda’s experimental time travel technology to rewrite history. He brought DNA samples of hundreds of Mogandan citizens to populate a peaceful civilization that would serve as a moral beacon to the ancient world. He began his task diligently, assembling together the peoples of the past, both mortal and immortal, and showing them the technological wonders of the future. They took to the weapons faster than they did the other gifts, but he was sure that he could guide them to a better way. That was until the arrival of the Source.

                    “Great king,” one of his subjects declared at the Lion’s Gate where Quentin surveyed his brave new world. “The heaven above—it is filled with purple suns! What does it mean?”

                    He knew what it meant, as did a prophetess who had already led a handful of immortals to seek the Source before Quentin received the report. He hoped to reach it first, since he knew that the other immortals might not be worthy to enter. Unfortunately, he was too late: one man lay unconscious in a pile of his own blubber, having been mutated by the Source into a morbidly obese monstrosity. The other was screaming in agony as the curse of the Guardian was passed to him. Quentin sorrowfully shook his head and approached the Source beam emanating from the sky to enter it himself alongside the prophetess.

                    “No, don’t do it!” shouted Methos with futility at an era and an error long past.

                    Quentin entered the Source and touched the prophetess…and couldn’t let go. He screeched in agony as he was slowly absorbed into her body. She looked into his horrified eyes as his flesh melted into hers, and she screamed in abject terror. He suffered the unpredictable consequences of a spiritual incest he had not understood, but even as the last of his form oozed into hers, the nightmarish vision was not over. The prophetess groaned and convulsed in pain. She tore open her dress to expose three fetal faces emerging from her abdomen. The unholy beings ripped themselves from her body, and as her dead form hit the ground, the Source beam returned to the sky above, and the aligned purple planets disappeared from sight. The three bloody infants rose to their feet and stared at the Guardian, who cowered before them.

                    ~~~

                    “We were the children of the Source begat by a child of the Source,” the Priests explained in the present as Methos returned to his senses. “We were born with all the gifts of one who had received the Prize, along with power that far exceeded even the Guardian’s. The people saw the great vision of the planets and knew that a wondrous day had arrived. As we reached maturity, we became their leaders, their priests, their Council of the Purple Suns. We reshaped our father’s vision into the land of Zeist that you knew. We may have continued there if not for the oncoming threat of the deluge. However, unlike our father, we remain optimistic about the possibilities in this time. We think that we can do better than he did to bring order to his lost world.”

                    “Not if I stop you,” Methos replied, raising his sword again.

                    In unison, the Priests levitated from the floor and raised their swords. “You stand no chance against us, mere immortal.”
                    __________________________________________________

                    "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                    --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

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                  • #15
                    Chapter XIV: The Final Conflict

                    The Priests whirled around Methos, their robes billowing in the air like crimson wings. Methos tried to strike them with his sword, but he might as well have been attacking condors with a flyswatter. One of the Priests zoomed by and slashed off the green plate armor from the Hunter uniform’s chest. The others followed suit, pruning the pieces off Methos until he was left with nothing but shredded gray rags clinging to his person. He quickly realized that he could not get much range of movement in his tattered costume, so he tore off the clothing and faced them in nothing but a tight black undergarment. His exposed body glistened almost as brightly as his longsword from all the sweat of the desert trek. His taut muscles, honed over the last few months to be in pristine shape for facing this moment, again coiled themselves to strike. His face took on a defiant confidence in spite of the odds.

                    “Is that all?” he taunted before leaping to the dais to get higher ground.

                    The Priests let out something akin to an arrogant snort and flew in to pierce him from all sides---and then BLAM! The wall beside them exploded, sending them flying down from the shock wave. Kortan had detonated the throne room. Methos didn’t have time to wonder about Quentin’s fate at the moment. Instead, he held his sword erect and moved in to take advantage of the fortunate turn. The Priests struggled to rise to their feet, and the one closest to Methos was still on one knee when he feebly raised his sword against the approaching immortal. Methos slipped the hollow of his blade over his opponent’s sword and activated the mechanism. The sword pivoted and took off the Priest’s head.

                    “Nooo!!!” the remaining two Priests screamed telepathically.

                    What happened next was something akin to a Quickening, but not like one that Methos had ever experienced before. The dead Priest’s flesh dissolved from his bones, and the skeleton rose with a green ethereal glow emanating from its ribcage. The skull flew back to its rightful position as the skeletal arms reached out and placed their hands on the immortal’s shoulders. The skull breathed out the green energy into his nostrils, and the skeleton collapsed. Nothing else happened: no electricity, no elaborate light show or explosions. The only noticeable change from the Priest’s visual perspective was a rapid heaving of the victor’s chest, but their extrasensory perception saw the true transformation.

                    “I know. I know everything,” Methos whispered to himself.

                    He raised his eyes toward the other Priests with a fierce intensity. And then he began to rise. He levitated himself over the Priests as they now prepared to fight an enemy as strong as they were. The ensuing battle was so fast and erratic that if Joe Dawson had been present, he would have thrown down his pen in frustration and simply noted, “They fought like superheroes.”

                    ~~~

                    Quentin entered the room, toting along the head of Kortan. The villain’s plan had backfired on him and blown his head free of his body, and Quentin had been close enough to receive the Quickening. Only one immortal stood between MacLeod and the Prize, and Quentin sensed that he was in the adjoining room. He stepped over the fragments of the wall and peered inside. The room was completely dark except for a blue fiery glow surrounding a nearly-nude man seated on the dais.

                    “Methos?” he asked with a gulp.

                    Methos spoke directly to Quentin’s mind: “Can you bear the Prize?”

                    Quentin was not permitted to hear the other thoughts occurring to Methos. The desire to take the boy’s head and receive all the power that the Source could offer. The impulse to destroy every mortal on Earth simply because he could. The odd longing to devour a sun. The fragmented human part of him fought the darkness, tried to remind himself what his purpose was. It was losing fast.

                    “Will you honor your promise and give me your Quickening?” Quentin asked.

                    “No one can accept what I have to give,” Methos replied without speaking. “It must return to the Source. However, I will grant you the knowledge you need to save this world and the wisdom to avoid the grave mistake you would otherwise make. Beyond that, the Prize as intended will be enough.”

                    Methos arose and directed his arms toward Quentin. A spiral of blue lightning channeled its way from Methos to Quentin, lifting MacLeod into the air and encasing him in a bright white light. After a moment, the experience was over, and Quentin returned to the floor.

                    “I understand now. Farewell, Methos,” Quentin said with a touch of empathy.

                    “Goodbye, Mac. Live up to your name and your legacy.” With that, Methos raised his head and screamed as an intense teal light burst from his neck. The light broke through the ceiling and escaped into the sky. With that, the body of the oldest living immortal gave up the ghost, and his consciousness spent its last seconds reflecting not upon the monument and the honor that future generations would associate with his name, nor upon the victory he won against his ancient adversaries from Zeist, but instead upon those most human of moments he shared with the men and women he lived to love. In the end, that's the Methos chronicle that counts.

                    The end.
                    __________________________________________________

                    "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                    --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

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