No announcement yet.

"The Death of Duncan MacLeod"

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • "The Death of Duncan MacLeod"

    Written by Andrew NBD

    with a passage by Aleander


    December 4th, 2042
    Seattle, WA USA

    In a vacant boardroom of the Seattle World Trade Center a very mortal Duncan MacLeod clashed weapons with Senator Janus Kendrick. The Highlander deflected blow after blow with his butterfly swords even as he himself was well past the point of being winded.

    He was outmatched, outgunned, and going to lose. Twenty-five years before when he was still an Immortal, at the height of his strength, he might have had a chance… but now…


    “You’ve aged horribly,” Kendrick goaded him on. “You realize that, don’t you? Mortality just doesn’t become you. It doesn’t suit you.”

    Thoughts flashed through Duncan’s mind. He thought of his wife, Anna, their twenty-five years of happiness; he thought of his son, Connor, who was supposed to be the best and only hope for the world to rise out of darkness. One was already dead – another name added to the list following him over time of the lives he touched that end as a result of coming into his own – the other one was counting on him to do what needed to be done.

    Mustering up what strength he had left in his body, Duncan went on the offensive, countering Kendrick’s thrust with a butterfly sword and elbowing him in the cheekbone. He whirled around, catching a surprised Kendrick across the shoulder with the other butterfly while the other was already headed toward his neck.

    No one home. Kendrick was already weaving to one side, countering away Duncan’s attack while pulling a dagger from his side and raking it across his forearm. Crying in pain as he dropped his left butterfly sword, it was all he could do to clutch onto his remaining sword. Nearly tripping over a footstool, his adversary shoved him through the open fire escape door and over the side of the catwalk.


    A couple of partially filled garbage bags strewn around a nearby dumpster partially breaking his fall by his midsection, Duncan nonetheless instinctively reached his free hand forward to protect himself. As he first made contact with the cement, by the sound of the noise it seemed certain his wrist was shattered.

    “Pitiful, just pathetic!” Kendrick shouted down at him. “You do your reputation discredit!” With that, he vaulted over the catwalk’s rail to join his opponent in the dark alley in a single, practiced leap.

    Duncan hobbled to his feet, grasping onto his sole butterfly sword in his right hand intently while biting back the searing pain radiating from his wrist, his forearm, and joints. “Yuh-you have to stop this,” he sputtered as Kendrick neared. “You have to – ”

    “A glorious new age is upon us, MacLeod,” Senator Kendrick interrupted as he planted a wingtip shoe into the underside of Duncan’s jaw. The Highlander was sent hurtling against stone walls. “The Guardian was right. What was it you said he told you? Yes, that’s right… we pissed our gifts away. We always were meant to rule these peons, weren’t we? From the very beginning. Not cower in the dark watching civilization after civilization cannibalize each other.”

    “The Guardian was wrong!” Duncan brought up his sword, deflecting a riposte that could very well have killed him. “It’s not your place! Not for any of us! We were never meant to rule… damn it, you don’t have any right to play God!”

    A powerful swipe by Kendrick’s sword sent Duncan’s remaining butterfly sword skittering across the alley. Duncan was only dimly aware of Kendrick plunging his dagger into his midsection, he just felt his knees buckle and give way.

    Kendrick sheathed his dagger, circling his opponent then in sauntering strides as he loosed his tie a bit with a hand. “Your use to me is at last at an end. Deep down, you always knew it would come to this… you just didn’t want to admit it; didn’t want to see it.” Kendrick held his sword back then, poised for the killing blow.

    “I’m mortal now.” Duncan spit blood into a muddy puddle near his knees. “Have been the past twenty-five years… you take my head you won’t get any Quickening.”

    “Just call me old-fashioned – and what’s a decapitation between old friends, anyway?” Kendrick smiled callously. “I could have had my men shoot you dead about a dozen times on your way here… but then there’s no telling if that wouldn’t just somehow reactivate your Immortality, eh?” The Senator paused. “Will there be any last requests this evening?”

    Doomed. From the start.

    “One stroke. Make it quick.”

    “Oh, it ordinarily is,” Janus spoke, a cavalier inflection to his voice. Not unusual. “Do forgive me, MacLeod.”

    Duncan closed his eyes, pursed his lips, and awaited the blow that would follow him into the darkness that awaited him. He would not run from it any longer.

    August 7th, 1625
    Scottish Highlands

    Wary still, Duncan MacLeod inched his way closer to the strange bearded man by the cave's campfire.

    “Help yourself,” the man offered to Duncan. He nodded good-naturedly at the pot suspended over the fire he was stirring.

    Duncan stopped a moment. “I did not know anyone lived in these parts.”

    “Aye. It’s a good place for a man to lose himself.” The older, bearded man paused a moment, narrowing his eyes at Duncan. He was observing him closely, but there was something more to it than that. “They cannae find you up here,” he assured Duncan. “The ones who call you… demon.”

    The Highlander recoiled at the word. “No one calls me demon!”

    “You’ve had no home and no clan for three years now. And that’s over. Soon he will find you.”

    Duncan considered the stranger with a long glance, then sat down. With a hand, he dug into the pot and began gorging himself – he could not betray his hunger any longer, not at the offer of such a feast. “‘He?’” Duncan asked between bites.

    “The one who will teach you what you need to know.” The stranger gave a laugh.

    “Who are you talking about?”

    “Your kinsman, Connor MacLeod.”

    “Connor MacLeod is a legend!”

    “Oh, so you say! Oh, young Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.”

    Duncan stood, taken aback by the stranger’s words for the second time. “How do you know my name?”

    He went on, “Oh, I know your name… and I know your destiny.”

    “No man knows that.”

    The man seemed to stare off into the wall then, a whimsical look on his face. “What we are is written in the wind long before we walk this world the roads we travel and where they lead us."

    “You're a seer.” There could be no other explanation for the stranger's witchery.

    “I have waited in this place for six hundred years for you.” As if remembering something, the stranger scurried about his person. Eventually he produced a small bag and quickly poured its contents onto the ground in between the two men. “The bones!” he exclaimed, “the bones will tell your destiny!”

    He faltered, his gaze fixated on the small collection of tiny bones in front of the strange hermit.

    “Ah,” the stranger spoke at last. “You are blessed... and you're cursed.”


    November 6th, 2042
    Glencoe, Scotland

    “Cursed… cursed… stop the Senator… one stroke… one stroke…”

    “Mother! Mother!”

    The clanking of silverware bouncing against glass heard as she went, Anna MacLeod quickly burst into the bedroom.

    Duncan MacLeod awakened to twinkling gossamer, blinking his eyes rapidly as reality edged closer and closer to being. Anna hovered over him, resting a moist hand towel over his brow. His eyes still focusing, he spoke, “Tessa… Tessa, is that you?”

    Anna gave a sigh, holding the towel in place as she exchanged a glance with her son at the other end of the room, then looking back to Duncan. “It’s me, honey. It’s your wife. Anna.”

    “Anna…” Duncan repeated, confused. “Teshemka? We… we were married, we were… our wedding day was beautiful.” He smiled, gave a laugh. “Your family was here in Scotland, we… we…” His brow furrowed suddenly, his gaze focusing directly on Anna. “You left me. You left…”

    “That was a very long time ago, honey,” she explained gently. By the tone of her voice, one would get the impression it wasn’t the first time she had to humor his reveries. “Twenty-five years ago. We found the Source… we had…”

    “You guys had me,” spoke the young Connor MacLeod II, his voice not nearly as patient as his mother’s.

    Duncan’s brow furrowed further. His lips moved, as if about to speak but then stopping himself. Becoming angry with himself, he pushed Anna away from his bedside and threw the hand towel from his forehead.

    “Y-yes, yes of course,” he stammered out, throwing the blankets off of him. He sat up. “Of course. I just had a vivid dream, that’s all. That’s all.”

    Anna gave her son another look, this one sympathetic. She nodded at him and the twenty-four year old left the room.

    Just the two of them alone now, Anna sat beside her husband. After a few moments of letting him calm down, she laid an arm across his back gingerly. “It’s all right, baby. I’m here now.”

    Duncan’s gaze drifted to the floor. “Anna, tell me. Why does this… why does this keep happening to me?”

    Anna sighed, forcing a semi-smile. “Honey, you know the doctors are working very hard on that. The last tests were inconclusive.”

    Duncan began nodding angrily, “Dementia,” he spoke, remembering suddenly the last word from his doctors. “That was the word they used, wasn’t it? Some form of dementia. Something wrong with my head.”

    She squeezed his side a little. “They don’t know, honey. They’re trying, but there’s still more tests… you go in this Monday again for more, remember?”

    He balled a fist, his fingernails digging into his palms. “It was the bloody Source, wasn’t it? It gave me mortality, gave you your bloody child – ”

    “Don’t talk like that, Duncan.”

    “Our bloody child,” he went on, “… but no one ever told me the cost. Over four hundred years of memories I still have in here, Anna!” He tapped a finger against his temple for effect. “Over four hundred years of death, war, sacrifice, and pain… no mortal was ever meant to shoulder this amount of grief. No mortal can – I’m no exception.” He may have been four hundred and fifty years old but the body he was in was approaching fifty-six and showing the part. Not old by any stretch of mortal imagination, but far from the spryness of youth. “It wasn't the Prize we got. It couldn't have been... it was something else. The Prize... it's still out there, waiting for the last Immortal standing with a head on his shoulders to claim it.”

    “I’m here, honey. I always will be – I love you, Duncan. We’ll beat this.” She leaned into him, her grip around his back tightening. “You know you can talk to me. You can tell me anything.”

    “I’ve tried to talk, Kate,” he spoke, shaking his head and pushing her away. “A thousand times I’ve tried.”

    Anna winced at the name of Duncan’s deceased ex-wife. About to say something, she instead chose to pick her battles and let it go. She had convinced herself a week ago that he would stop using that name. “I’m here, honey. I’m here.”

    Anger becoming confusion becoming embarrassment and shame, he kissed her head. "Methos," he spoke, resolutely and quietly. "Get me Methos, Anna."

    Highlander: Dark Places

  • #2
    February 15th, 2030
    Glencoe, Scotland

    “You are three centuries of yearning
    You are the youth of the morning
    You are a thousand generations
    You are the heart of our aspirations
    The Ben Nevis on the eyes of a child
    A roving eagle ruling the wild
    Flags flying on a solitary trawler
    An old melody that will live forever
    The gates of history are ajar again
    Honouring heroic ancestors slain
    From the depth of the firth comes a voice
    A people’s will, a nation’s choice
    In waiting there is the might of destiny
    In achieving there is harmony
    Fulfilling an assignment of hope
    Returning to the embrace of Europe
    Triumph out of battles lost
    The future will recover the cost.”

    Connor MacLeod II remembered well the poem he had been taught since toddlerhood. For some reason, it played through his mind as he continued his training regime with the elder Immortal.

    As if spring had come early, the sun shone brightly across the Scottish Highlands. A chill wind was in the air, providing an interesting contrast.

    Methos and the twelve year-old Connor MacLeod II stood atop what might be described as a picturesque field of heather on the grassy hillside, their backs to the sunlight as they mimicked each other in the kata of swordplay they played out in well-rehearsed fashion – Connor with his wooden bokken; Methos with his battle-proven Ivanhoe.

    “No, no,” Methos scolded his pupil. He broke the kata for the moment, grabbing the young MacLeod’s calf and shoving it down into the position he had been trying to teach him it should be in for the proper sword stroke. “There we are. Again, now.”

    They repeated the kata, once again from the top.

    In mid-kata, even as Connor continued on with it, Methos stopped. He frowned a bit, looking alarmed.

    “Another Immortal?” Connor was quick to ask, stopping as well then.

    “It is,” Methos replied, nodding. The elder Immortal wondered idly if young Connor felt it as well – so little anyone knew of the boy.

    A gift from the Source to be certain, but beyond that? Was he a typical pre-Immortal, awaiting the shock of a violent death to awaken his true Immortality like all the other Immortals before him? Was he simply a mortal, only with the gift of inheriting Duncan’s Quickenings and the knowledge and wisdom therein? Was he something else entirely?

    No one professed to have any answers, though that didn’t stop the speculation. Not that anyone would make such speculation around the boy, of course, so oblivious of the potential that lay within him.

    Duncan appeared from the nearest hillside with a scabbard in his hand, making his way to the two of them. “Methos!” he exclaimed, clapping him on the shoulder to smiles. He ran up to Connor, dropping his scabbard for the moment and hoisting his son up by the waist into the air.

    “Dad! Quit it!”

    “Connor, you little rascal… how goes your training?”

    “Uncle Methos has been a – ”

    “Very patient instructor, as ever,” Methos finished for the younger MacLeod. “He’s doing well.” He gave a harrumph. “He does display a certain… knack for it, you know.”

    “I brought this for you now, Connor,” Duncan spoke. Retrieving the scabbard he’d brought with him from the ground, he raised it before his son with both hands ceremoniously.

    The auburn-haired younger Highlander fidgeting a bit. “Uh, Dad… what is this?”

    Duncan said nothing for a few moments, only holding intently the katana scabbard with both hands, his eyes locked with his sons.

    “This belonged to a great man once, Son,” he spoke at last, his gaze still not faltering. “My teacher. Your namesake.”

    “You don’t mean…”

    Duncan unsheathed the lion-headed katana, letting the scabbard itself fall back to the ground. “The same. The blade forged by Connor MacLeod himself in 1994, the hilt a thousand years before it by the Masamune family.” The older Highlander seemed distracted then, tossing the scabbard gently aside while he gave the katana a few strokes into the air… and then a few more. “You know this blade, my son,” he spoke. “You know its tale.”

    Connor knew well its lineage. “I do.”

    “Then know that it’s yours now.” Duncan broke off his kata then, brandishing it before him and extending it to his son with his head lowered. When Connor accepted the katana, he nodded and turned away. “Carry on,” he spoke as he walked away the way he had come.

    Methos regarded Connor with a grimace, still standing in awe as he held the katana in front of him. Looking to the back of Duncan, still walking away, he shook his head and spoke, “Never change, MacLeod. Never change.”

    Connor gathered up the scabbard from the ground and found a way to tuck it under his belt. Giving the katana itself a brief twirl, he turned back to Methos and asked, “Shall we continue the lesson, Uncle?”

    Methos’ gaze remained on the departing MacLeod’s back. “I think the lesson has been taught for now, my young Highlander.”

    November 6th, 2042
    Glencoe, Scotland

    Duncan MacLeod heard the unmistakable call of the Capercaillie bird, seemingly just outside his window. The Capercaillie was a very localized species, generally only found in the Scottish native pinewood which had proven to be a rare and vulnerable habitat in recent years. The bird was thought to be extinct by preservationists for several decades. Remembering them fondly and in great numbers from his youth, Duncan smiled slightly as he knew then that was not the case.

    “I was with him just now,” he spoke softly.

    “What did you say, Father?”

    “I was with Methos,” he went on. “You were twelve… I gave you Connor’s katana while you were in the middle of your lessons.”

    Connor II heaved a bit in his chair. “Dad,” he spoke, somewhat patronizingly, “that’s not the way it happened. You know you didn’t give me that katana until my sixteenth birthday… and it was when you joined Mother and I in England for that winter abroad.”

    “No, no…” Duncan murmured. The memory was still fresh in his mind’s eye, there could be no refuting it. “I remember it as clearly as I remember what I had for dinner last night.”

    His son just sat quietly across from his bedside.

    Duncan was the first to break. “What, you don’t think I remember? Pot roast and veggies. There, are you bloody satisfied?”

    Connor rolled his eyes and gave a sigh. “Dad, we had – ”

    “Meat loaf and mashed potatoes!” Duncan exclaimed with a trained but forced laugh. “I got you, kiddo.”

    His son laughed genuinely, as if relieved to hear his father was not quite that far gone just yet. He was careful not to let on, of course. “Good one, Dad. Good one.”

    “Any word from Methos?”

    Connor nodded. “He’s got that debate coming this week but did promise to stop by next week. He's bringing the best doctor he could find, a specialist that - ”

    “A debate? A debate of what?”

    “A debate of… character,” his son replied.

    Duncan recoiled in his bed. Something was suddenly different about his son, his voice not his own. Deeper, grating, heavy with bass and booming within the bedroom.

    “Son…” The Highlander’s skin began to crawl as the truth set in – he had heard the voice before.

    “A debate of principle. You might say… the measure of a man, hah!” The lips of his son no longer matched the words that were coming from them. “5,000 years old… and still a pussy. Wouldn’t you say, MacLeod? Isn’t that right?”

    His brow wrinkling in confusion and dismay, Duncan frantically stumbled out of his bedsheets and rolled off the bed. Scrambling up the ceremonial tachi sword from under the bed that he’d pried from the dead hands of Kiem Sun in the not-too-distant past, he brought it to full readiness as his son shot up from his chair.

    “Connor… son…” Duncan’s voice wavered, his lip and jaw quivering, “if you’re in there… please…”

    “Life -- even an Immortal life, passes by in the wink of an eye. All we are in this pitiful world is the legacy we leave behind when our flame is gone.” His son took a step away, flailing his arms as if in dismay at his father… but still, the voice. “It’s better, after all… to burn out… than to fade away!”

    Duncan raised his sword. His lips carefully formed the word, “You.”

    May 6th, 1915
    RMS Lusitania
    30 Miles from Cape Clear

    Duncan approached the guard rail at the bow of the grand ship Lusitania. He took a deep breath of the night's chilly sea air with his eyes closed, exhaled, and then gazed out across the vast Atlantic. In the distance he could just barely make out the coast of Ireland.

    Grabbing the rails in both hands he gave them a good tug and rocked himself back and forth once. He knew the Lusitania had been built well by skilled Scottish hands – Jon Brown and Company, stemming from Clydebank. At an impressive two hundred and forty meters in length the finished vessel and her sister ship, the Mauretania, were the fastest liners in the modern world.

    The faint smell of chartreuse wafted in the air and then Duncan felt warm arms gingerly slip around his shoulders and neck. He smiled, almost whispering, “Gabriela.”

    Gabriela Maria Cuadra de Savedra leaned into close embrace with her lover and sometimes-teacher. “When are you coming back to our cabin?”

    “Soon,” Duncan replied. “Meet me there, my love. I’ll only be a minute.”

    She grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him to face her. She cocked her head to one side, frowning at him in that playful way he had become accustomed to. And fond of.

    “A minute. I promise,” he assured her. “I’m only… sea-gazing.”

    Gabriela shook her head, giving off a somewhat girlish giggle. “If you say so, Duncan. Don't be long... I have a surprise for you.”

    “I'm certain of it, and I won't.”

    Alone once more as she left him, Duncan returned to his lone vigil at the bow of the great ship.

    So blessed he had been in recent years, even in a time in the midst of what was already being called the Great War. Since he and Connor had vanquished the pirate Khordas nearly two decades prior he had managed to live in a relatively peaceful state of happiness with the young Immortal Gabriela, traveling the world as he picked up where Connor left off in her training.

    And perhaps she taught me a thing or two as well, he mused to himself. Like a reckless young couple madly in love, the world was their oyster and it was completely refreshing to Duncan. She was absolutely everything he never knew he needed and at exactly the right time.

    The buzz of another Immortal threw Duncan on high alert suddenly. Against his better judgment, he felt reasonably sure it could be only one person.

    “Gabriela, dear, I told you I would just be a minute,” he spoke.

    “Oh, it’s okay, lover,” came a deep, raspy male voice he did not recognize. “I’m willing to wait!”

    Duncan whirled around. It was a tall man with an imposing presence about him. He bore greasy, wavy hair with a shortly cropped goatee and dressed in slightly worn gentleman’s attire.

    “Who are you?”

    Even as he asked, he somehow just knew.

    The killer of his kinsman’s teacher, Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. He’d actually been there to trigger Connor’s first death in 1536. Between he and Gabriela moving about the massive Lusitania from one end of the other triggering the sensation of one Immortal detecting another since their journey from the United States had begun, he paid the notion that there might have been a third Immortal among no mind. In typical Duncan MacLeod manner, he made a mental note to scold himself for letting his guard down in such a way later on.

    “Ah, a Highlander.” The words rolled off the Kurgan’s tongue with a deliberate sense of sardonic pleasure, ignoring his question as he seemingly acknowledged Duncan’s recognition. He paused then, considered his face for a moment. “Yes… yes. Not just that… a MacLeod. A very special one, at that... or so I’ve been told.”

    “Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod,” Duncan introduced himself. “You must be the one known as the Kurgan.”

    “Strange bedfellows we might make on such a voyage. Wouldn’t you say?”

    “We don’t have to be.” Duncan turned to look again across the ocean. “Your reputation does precede you.

    A smile of delight. “The boogeyman, isn't it?”

    He wouldn't dignify that with a response. “I suppose you intend us to fight when we reach Queenstown.”

    The Kurgan licked his lips, grunting in a chuckle. “I’m sure we could… arrange that, if you like.”

    “I wouldn’t. I have no quarrel with you, Kurgan.” Duncan turned away a moment. “Your quarrel with my kinsman… that remains between you and him.” No matter his reputation beyond, he had killed his mentor within the rules of the Game. That, and he suspected that Connor – even if he might never admit it – would more than likely never forgive him if he robbed him of his retribution.

    “Connor MacLeod…” the Kurgan spoke the name with even greater delight. He took up a position next to Duncan, also facing out across the ocean. From nearly ear to ear a great grin played across his face and he drummed his hands loudly against the guardrail as he gave a booming laugh. “Another time, that one. Another time, another place.”

    “I think he feels the same way.”

    The Kurgan perked up. “Does he?” He drew out the last word in his throat.

    Duncan couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic. He seemed a difficult man to read. “He does.”

    “Well you tell him, Highlander… you tell him, I haven't forgotten the one that always got away - hah!” the Kurgan roared, tilting his head up at the cloudy sky above. A couple of late night passengers milling about the bow seemed alarmed by the Kurgan’s voice, turned, and headed back the way they came.

    Duncan caught a brief glimpse the scar of the blow the late Juan Ramirez had famously dealt to him in 1541. For a moment, Duncan truly felt unsure of his standing. Short of Khordas – and he had help – he had never come up against an Immortal of the Kurgan’s calibre before. To the Kurgan, Duncan seemed as an insect, and everything in the Kurgan’s posture, voice, and inflection suggested he knew could squash him at a moment’s notice… if it floated his fancy.

    Duncan shoved himself away from the guard rail, holding the Kurgan’s gaze uncomfortably as he took four careful steps away.

    “If you’ll excuse me, I do have a companion waiting for me inside,” he said. “I bid you safe passage, Kurgan, wherever your journey does take you.”

    “Sleep tight,” the Kurgan called after him, not moving at all. Out of the corner of his eye Duncan thought he saw the vile Immortal flicking his tongue as he left, but he couldn’t be sure.


    May 7th, 1915
    German Submarine U-20

    “[Fire, Kapitänleutnant!]”

    Kapitänleutnant Walther Schieger shoved away from the periscope. They’d been tailing the RMS Lusitania for miles until witnessing the spectacle he had just seen played out in front of his very eyes.

    His description to his quartermaster, Charles Voegele, may have been lacking in the detail of precisely what it was he had seen. Truth be known, he wasn’t even entirely sure himself what it was he had seen.

    Lightning… horrible lightning, raining down not from the sky, but seemingly rather emanating from the hull of the Lusitania itself.

    It shamed him then to know his initial reluctance to believe the passenger liner was anything other than just that. Seeing with his own eyes, he knew the quartermaster had been right all along – the ship was indeed intent on supplying munitions to their enemies. Munitions the likes of which he had never seen before.

    “[I said fire, damn you!]”


    Duncan awoke from his sleep with a startle that night. The proximity of another Immortal, to be sure, and close by the intensity of it.

    He fumbled about his bed, feeling for his love. He was alone in his bed and chamber.

    “Gabriela!” he shouted. There was no response.

    In a panic, Duncan grabbed only his katana and darted out of his chamber in only his leggings. Taking two steps at a time as he made his way above deck, he quickly found himself in the middle of a scramble of men, women, and children who bumped him as they scurried to and fro in front of him.

    Running back toward the bow of the ship, shoving his way through the mass of confused, frightened passengers, he saw at last what they were running from.

    The Kurgan, ungodly broadsword drawn over the headless body of his beloved Gabriela. The smoking black scorch marks strewn about the floor and surroundings of the bow told the rest of the tale.

    “Late for the party, MacLeod!” the Kurgan thundered at him behind a sneer, giving the body at his feet a kick as he twirled his mighty sword. “Lucky for you, I’ve saved you leftovers!”

    Anger boiled within the Highlander, at a pace he couldn’t control. “Kuuurgan!” he shouted, throwing his scabbard aside. At the moment, he couldn’t care less about the passengers – some still scurrying back to the safety of their chambers, others watching on in awe – as he found himself truly in a world consisting only of he, the Kurgan, and a need to set the wrong things right… immediately.

    The two Immortals clashed swords in mid air, the sound of their weapons meetings resonating across the ship and seemingly echoing across the waves of the ocean ahead of the ship. Thrust, parry, riposte, lunge, and swing, for the course of all of two minutes the two enemies were completely enveloped within their confrontation.

    “You are weak, Highlander… a babe in the woods!”

    Kurgan feigned right, Duncan swung right, and suddenly he found the Kurgan’s sword burying itself into his left lung. Unable to breathe, unable to move, it was all Duncan could do to hold the Kurgan’s methodical stare.

    “The same as Connor MacLeod’s, I had heard your destiny was to be a great one. You might have made it to the Gathering, I heard it said... and maybe even something else. Disappointing. Now… now…” The Kurgan raised his sword up for the final swing, bellowing then, “... there can be only one!”

    With that, a single German torpedo struck the hull of the Lusitania. A torpedo that would change the tide of the Great War.
    Highlander: Dark Places


    • #3
      November 6th, 2042
      Glencoe, Scotland

      Duncan’s tachi hit the wooden floor with a reverberating thud.

      “I-I’m sorry, Son,” he stammered out, avoiding his gaze. His hands went to his sweaty temples, rubbing them rhythmically. “God, I-I don’t know why this keeps happening to me. I…”

      Keeping his eyes locked on Duncan as he went a very panicked, very afraid Connor continued backing away until his back was against the wall. Little by little he began inching his way toward the door.

      Duncan ran a hand through his own hair, then grabbed a handful of it into a balled fist. Kneeling before his bed, he buried his head in his hands atop the mattress. He simply laid like that for several minutes, his eyes unmoving from the baby blue sheets upon it.

      “Not again,” he whispered, barely audibly, “not again…”

      November 8th, 2042
      Glencoe, Scotland

      A day after he’d drawn a sword on his son, Duncan spent his hours in front of the holovision set in the living room of his home. He distractedly scanned back and forth throughout the channels, verbally commanding the set “Next,” “Back,” and “Show Menu” before finally settling on a selection.

      Carrying a tray of fresh spring rolls, Anna entered the living room and joined his company. Duncan noticed neither her footsteps nor the scent of the spring rolls as he watched the holovision. He was truly lost to his thoughts, those thoughts lingering on when his relationship with Connor went wrong. As if the two trains of thought ran together – and perhaps they did, he decided – he also found himself wondering at efficiency as a father. He cursed his mental ailment, the unseen enemy he could do nothing to defend or retaliate against.

      The news came on, the BHC logo disappearing to make way for the imagery the holovision projected before him.

      "Today, the newly reformed NATO forces have gathered around to discuss the role of Greece since the Centurian Ages," the newscaster announced, and Duncan rolled his head.

      I can't believe they named the times Centurian Ages... how trite.

      "The Great Powers, consisting of Russia, Britain and France, have decided to allow full acceptance of Greece into the new European Union, along with full diplomatic insurances of the new status quo. From this day forward, Greece is officially one of the Great Powers. President of the United States of the Americas Jayasundara has spoken on the issue. Even in the middle of his escalating reelection campaign after a scathing public debate with Republican nominee Kendrick, he has commented that he hopes Greece along with the other Great Powers will be able to understand the responsibility of being a sovereign power, and the consequences that go along with the newly appointed authority."

      Duncan rose from his couch, seated still, but with a smile on his face. "He was right. Alexander... was right."

      He watched on the holovision as the Greek Prime Minister signed the papers that signified Greece's acceptance to the Great Powers. Watching on, he couldn't help but remember what Alexander had told him in 1832.

      "There will come a time when Greece will rule again. When the cancer that is corruption will have washed away as the tide... by the people. The people are the ones that make the real difference, Duncan, not politics. Never the politics. It’s the people that elect them; it’s the people that kill them. It is an absolute."

      As Duncan remembered Alexander's words, he felt Anna nudging him, asking him just who this Alexander was.

      "C’mon, Duncan... who is Alexander? Will you tell me?" Anna persisted until Duncan came into notice, who looked at her in the eyes. "Who is Alexander?"

      He took a bite of one of the spring rolls. He paused a moment, relishing her cooking of one of his favorite appetizers. "Alexander... Alexander was… a dear friend of mine," he said, looking down. "He's been dead for some time."

      She didn’t seem surprised. Already assuming he was referring to an Immortal friend, Duncan had none of those left alive save for Methos. "I see. But what was he right about, Duncan? You said ‘he was right,’ remember?" Anna asked, concerned at all times for her now-mortal husband.

      Yes, Duncan... tell her...tell her when I also warned about mortality and family. Yes, Duncan?

      June 21st, 1870
      Athens, Greece

      It was a quiet, lovely evening in the lovely villa of Alexander's. He had built it himself, while in occupation a century ago. Back then, he remembered well, Alexander had used it as a headquarters of sorts to help educate Greeks that were under the Otto rule, but didn't wish to subvert to them in the fear that they might extinguish completely.

      Duncan had been enjoying a good, restful evening, and enjoyed greatly peering out across the seemingly endless sea that was stretched out before them. The waves crashing against the shore, the twinkling sand, the entire locale was as relaxing as it was tranquil.

      It was misleading.

      "No wonder Connor loves this place – the seaside is truly a sight to behold," Duncan spoke to Alexander as he approached him outside. “Still, I do not understand why you do not revamp it, make it better."

      Alexander moved past him, and shared the view of the sea. "Do you not see how the stream flows? How the wind blows? Your friend once told me that the sea will never die... and he is right. As long as I live, this villa – as they call it now – will continue existing, because I can maintain. Because I want to.

      "You see, this house has precious history, MacLeod. Hundreds of Greeks have learned their heritage and passed it on to their sons, and with the revolution having ended forty years ago, this villa has that extra symbolism of the war against the Turk."

      Duncan shrugged. He didn't care. He didn't want to. He put the wars of men behind him, a few months ago, when fell for Little Deer, the wife of his good friend whom had perished, and decided to give it all for her.

      How he loved her, and cared for her son, Kahani, as if he was his own. He promised himself if it was ever taken away from him he would never allow himself to become as vulnerable as he was... but it was a promise he feared he would be unable to keep.

      Still, he owed this visit to Greece. Both Darius and Alexander had fed him up with its beauty and once-upon-a-time glory. Plus, it was a good chance to get to know Alexander, the great warrior who fought alongside Alexander The Great, a man who taught a proud line of Greek warriors like Casius Polonius, Katherine, Kyra, and even his mentor, Connor MacLeod. But he was elusive and mysterious, too. Over the centuries, he had assumed many identities – Aegilaus, Mantinea Von Pylus, Epictetus Cuspianus, Puniserus Corporalus. He was almost a legend, but not because he wanted to - every life had brought him with a new name.

      Yet Alexander was going by his given name the last few years. He wondered, what could have made him keep his name? He was glad, if anything, that he wasn't the only one who insisted on keeping the same name over the years.

      "You still think the Turk will try and overthrow you? With your monarchy, I thought you were at peace," Duncan said.

      "No, I don't think they will – the Ottoman have been losing a great deal of power over the years, since the Great Powers enforced us the monarchy rule. We had it tough, with King Otto being quite the incompetent – he fled with his hands between his legs. That bloody chicken," Alexander said, turning to face Duncan.

      "He was a major reason for the Ottomans to come back and challenge us. We lost way too much from Kapodistria's death." Alexander referred to Greece's first Prime Minister since the Greek revolution ended in 1829, assassinated in 1831.

      "I don't see you saying the same about King George, though. Tell me, honestly, is he any better?" Duncan asked, eager to learn.

      Alexander, gleaming with a bit of pride, sipped gingerly from his glass of wine. "King George… is the best thing that happened to this country. You know what he said when he came to rule, by the English? ‘My strength is the love of my people’ – no leader has ever said that, not for two thousand years!

      "With a little luck, he will expand this country, territorially. But enough about politics and war, Duncan. You're here as my guest, and as long as you are here, you will be treated with the finest wine and the finest meat – and the finest women, n'est spa?" Alexander spoke with a snide grin before drinking the whole bottle down at once.

      Duncan, though, wasn't as cheerful. He didn't care about other women, he only cared about Little Deer, the Native American woman that awaited him in the Americas, and the Lakota Tribe, his newfound family. His look at Alexander betrayed this emotion.

      Alexander looked at him, curious of his thinking. "You know, Darius told me about this, but I couldn't believe him – you really are moving to the Lakota territory, aren't you?"

      Duncan was surprised – he didn't know Alexander knew of Darius. Then again, who was old enough not to know him?

      "I know what you're feeling right now. Fed up with the world at large, bent on leaving it all behind you, just to get that taste of family." Alexander sighed, and shook his head. "You've been hanging around Connor way too long, I'm afraid."

      "But why can't I have a family? Why can't I have, for once, a place that feels home. And not just be alone while at that... why can't I live a normal life?"

      "Because you can't. We live violent lives, you and I – an Immortal can come tomorrow and take your head. What happens next? Nothing."

      "I don't care. I'm tired of the way that so-called civilized society has kept going about with its wars, its hatred, and bigotry. I want peace. Little Deer may be my one ticket to that," Duncan spoke resolutely. He stepped down the villa then, close to the seaside.

      Alexander frowned, then followed. He stepped next to Duncan, and together they jointly gazed out at the vast sea. Alexander turned his attention to Duncan.

      "I was married, once, you know... around, 466 Before Christ, I believe. My wife's name was Theorida.” His voice grew warm, boisterous, the memories clearly resurfacing in his mind’s eye. “She was the most beautiful; the most intelligent of women. She had a son, Aristonas. You may know him from his Sacrilege poetry," Alexander said, but shook his head and continued. "You know whose son Aristonas was? Sofoklis," he said, and Duncan's eyes widened.

      "I took both Theorida and the newly-born Aristonas under my wing, my protection, as Sofoklis couldn't leave his wife for a woman he barely knew. And they needed the recognition – a family to behold. The times back then weren't quite as forgiving.

      "At first, it was a difficult marriage. She still loved Sofoklis and I… I lusted over her, and nothing came out of it. But eventually... she did come to love me. And such, she denounced Aristonas as being Sofoklis's bastard son, and declared him officially as my own." As Alexander said that, he approached Duncan with a bemused look. "That meant a great deal back, to officially declare the fatherhood of a child. It meant masculinity, prude as that may sound.

      "Over the years, we became a happy family – Theorida was my wife, my love, my treasure. My world. Everything began and ended with her. But then... she got sick. She was dying of a disease, what modern science might define as ‘a cold.’ As she was dying, she made me promise I would watch after Aristonas. I promised to her that I would. Since Theorida's death, Aristonas and I were never in good terms… it turned out, he blamed me for not being there when she needed me, for not loving her as much... but in the end, Aristonas and I made peace."

      "How?" Duncan asked.

      "Because Aristonas needed me. When time came, years later, and he made a family of his own, he needed my counsel. He wanted to forgive him, because his own wife had died by bandits, and he knew what I went through.

      "In the end, the mortal that was once my beloved son, taught an important lesson: time heals all wounds. And I passed this teaching to him, in return. It was something we both learned. And I was almost 1200 years-old, mate," Alexander said. As he drunk some more wine, he looked at Duncan and added, "It also taught me something else."

      "Immortality is responsibility. All the knowledge, the wisdom we've had over the years, cannot and should not, be wasted. That’s why having a family, demands more wisdom. Because in the end, if no one comes to take your head, you will outlive them. And their next generation, and the next and the next to that one," Alexander said, and approached Duncan closer.

      "Family… it is a Prize all its own. I know that you crave for that – almost all Immortals do, around your age, or older. But we, the Immortals... we're not meant to have families," he said, and turned his head, as Duncan sought to ask him. “It is just not in our nature.”

      "So it’s all pointless? There's no worth in having a family? I somehow don't believe that; I can’t subscribe to that."

      Alexander sighed, and turned his attention to Duncan. "It’s not about wanting to have a family, Duncan. It’s a question about being ready to have a family. We might have lived long, but in the end we still have to prove we deserve it.”


      “I give thanks to whatever higher power is up there, but for what was given to me but I never married ever since. Not because I couldn't or didn't want to, but because I was afraid to. It takes courage to have a family, to accept the responsibility of a wife and child, both of whom you might outlive.

      "You must understand that for an Immortal... it’s different," Alexander said, and looked at the sky, as clouds were gathering for a storm.

      "I might not know you well enough to either judge your decision or counsel you properly, Duncan, but you are a friend to me. And you are very dear to Darius and Connor, and I want to protect you in whatever way I can, with any means at my disposal. It’s the least I can do," Alexander said, and put his hand to Duncan shoulder, "for the Clan MacLeod."

      "I know I want this, Alexander. And you don't have to do this. I've made up my mind… and I do appreciate your concern," Duncan said, moving his hands as he spoke for effect. "I need this chance. I want this."

      "Do you really? Think about it... if you were the only one left and the Prize was up to you... what would you have chosen? Come on then, I'm asking you."

      Alexander had asked his question and Duncan wasn't sure. Some moments later, still no answer.

      "Well…?" Alexander finally asked.

      Duncan plainly stated, "I don't know. To be honest, I cannot even be sure I will make it up there."

      Alexander chuckled. Somehow, he knew that he would end up there. If not following the Gathering, then just before it. But he would be close to the last ones. He had faith, sure as he had faith that the tide would come in, or the sun would rise, or that Duncan would be a lady’s man for many centuries to come..

      "That doesn't matter. I know what I would've wanted. And I know what Darius would've wanted. Connor, too," Alexander said, touching a chord in Duncan's psyche.

      "When the time comes, you must decide what you want. Until then… come now. Clouds are gathering, there might be some heavy storm. We must get inside."

      Duncan nodded, and walked towards the villa. Still, he found himself wondering about something.

      "What would you have asked to be your Prize?"

      Alexander walked with him, and frowned. "Well... I suppose I'd want to be Immortal… just not part of the Game. This country has needs. Still does. Always will."

      Duncan chuckled, widely. "What, you wouldn't want to restore Greece's glory and make her a Great Power as you hope you will?"

      "Young Highlander, I've been alive for over 3,400 years. I've fought for this country and its history since the ancestors of the Clan MacCleod were living in caves. I've seen Greece come from darkness to light, and back again and again. If Greece survived all these years, especially these the Ottoman rule, it will survive well enough to become one such power," Alexander spoke as he walked the villa with Duncan. "It might not be now, or the next decade, or even the next century… but God willing, there will come a day where Greece will rise again."

      "And you're going to make sure it gets there, aren’t you?" Duncan pressed, nodding.

      "Truly the protector to the last, are you?"

      Alexander looked at him, chuckling. "There's still corruption. As sure as in politicians as in people. It’s a speck of dirt that came with this country ever since the Roman Empire fell. If I am the one to wash it away, so be it."

      "But for how much longer can you do that, Alexander?" Duncan asked as he opened the door to the villa.

      "For as long as it takes, Highlander. For as long as it takes,” Alexander spoke over his shoulder. “I’ll never let go. You see that you do the same.” He shut the door as he left.

      November 8th, 2042
      Glencoe, Scotland

      "Alexander was a great warrior... and a great man. He believed that there would come a time when Greece would rise as a national and political power, on its own. That it would, become a Great Power. Like it happened today," Duncan told Anna, bringing his hands to his mouth. It was time for action, because Alexander wasn't only right about Greece...

      "Anna, where's Connor?" Duncan asked.

      He wanted to see his son then. To talk to him; reconcile in this dark time he had found himself in. Family was indeed responsibility, and Duncan was going to be brave and face his own responsibility to that end. He would not shun it.

      If Alexander could reconcile with his bitter adopted son Aristonas so many thousands of years ago, why could he not he reconcile with his own son in the here and now?

      November 12th, 2042

      A chilly fall breeze swept over the Scottish Highlands that night. The moon hung heavy in the nearly clear black sky, casting eerie light over one particular grassy hillside.

      “Don’t be out too long tonight, honey,” Anna called from a few meters down the hillside behind him. She shivered within her feathered down jacket. “You know Methos will be here bright and early in the morning.”

      “I know,” Duncan called back.

      Her gaze lingered knowingly on her husband a moment longer before heading back to the car. As always of late, there was also that note of something else. Was it pity? Impatience? Maybe even frustration or anger?

      Why do you tolerate this, my love? he wondered. Why do you still tolerate me, after all of these years of this nonsense?

      Holding a bottle of Glenfiddich whisky from three decades before in his hand in the same manner a man dying of thirst might clutch the last canteen of water, Duncan let himself collapse on his behind before the tombstone.

      Duncan removed the top from the bottle and flicked it aside as he idly reread the inscription he’d carved himself onto the tombstone nearly forty years before.

      Heather MacLeod
      Beloved Wife of Connor

      Connor MacLeod
      Beloved Husband
      of Heather

      Duncan extended a hand and brushed a bit of the moss from the headstone’s surface away. Nodding in satisfaction, he leaned back. He took a deep drink then, just over two shots’ worth of whisky before he withdrew the bottle and rested it back in his lap.

      “Hark – hic – when the night is falling. Hear!” Duncan broke into song, a forced smile on his face. “Hear the pipes are calling, loudly and proudly calling, down thro' the glen. There where the hills are sleeping, now feel the blood a-leaping, high as the spirits of the old Highland men. Towering in gallant fame, Scotland my mountain hame, high may your proud standards gloriously wave, land of my high endeavour, land of the shining river, land of my heart forever, Scotland the brave. High in the misty Highlands, out by the purple islands, brave are the hearts that beat beneath Scottish skies. Wild are the winds to meet you, staunch are the friends that greet you, kind as the love that shines from fair maiden's eyes.”

      “Duncan, my brother,” the voice he was waiting for spoke at last. Materializing out of seemingly thin air came the apparition of the original Connor MacLeod, Duncan’s kinsman and first teacher. As if stepping straight out of the 1980s he was clad in a tan trenchcoat, close-fitting blue jeans, and white sneakers. In typically accented fashion he pronounced his kinsman’s name in a manner similar to “Dahn-can.”

      “Connor!” Duncan exclaimed. He gave a grunting laugh before taking another drink. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

      “Speak of the Devil,” the older Scotsman spoke with a chuckle of his own, taking up a stance next to his own tombstone, “and the Devil appears.” The usual bluish, effervescent glow surrounding his body glimmered.

      “You’re no devil, Connor.”

      Connor wrinkled his nose and squinted his eyes as he looked down at the headstone. His gaze bounced back and forth between it and his kinsman for a few moments. “You know, Duncan, I’ve never really understood why you had to screw with Heather’s grave like that. I’ve never been okay with that.”

      Duncan gave a heavy sigh. “We’ve had this conversation before. You were dead. I buried you here, where I knew lay that which you held dearest in your life.” His brow furrowed a bit. “It is our way, our cust – “

      Connor gave his laugh. “I’m just screwing with you, Duncan. You need to learn how to relax – you’ve earned it.”

      “That’s part of the reason I’m here. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to... not unless I do something.”


      “My mind… it wanders, Connor. I’m mortal now but my mind, my memories… the future, even… sometimes it all blurs together.” He took a breath before adding, “I fear the next thing that may happen is that I may again hurt one of the people I hold closest to me.”

      “Jesus Christ, Duncan,” the other Highlander spoke in a chiding manner. “Pull yourself together. What is going on with you?”

      Duncan took another breath. Closed his eyes. “When you found me I was a broken man… I had no idea who I was, where I came from – “

      “Do any of us, Duncan? Our origins remain a mystery.” He gave a wink, then a chuckle. “Except to me. Call it an… Immortal afterlife privilege. Trust me, though. You’re really better off just not knowing.”

      The younger Highlander remained deadly serious, his brow and expression heavy with emotion. “You pulled me up, Connor. You made me face the truth – I was there, trying to kill myself, trying to drown myself in that bloody water – ”

      Connor recoiled a little. His expression seemed as if he wasn't sure if his kinsman was serious or not. “Duncan… are you feeling all right?”

      “Right now I am.” He winced, not wholly sure of his meaning.

      “You were never trying to drown yourself. When I met you, you were joining our Clan in the Battle of Glen Fruin… you were lying on the battlefield. A dead man, if not for your Immortality.” The ghostly elder Highlander gave a chuckle. “You even fell on a sword when I approached you.”

      “Never mind that, Connor,” Duncan spoke, not wanting to linger on details that he could no longer hold as absolutes in his memory. “Something terrible is happening to me.” He rapped on his own skull with his knuckles. “A hundred lifetimes are locked in here, Brother. A thousand more by the power of the Quickening – even yours, and every Immortal you'd ever killed.” He extended his hands then to his kinsman, opening his fists. “This aging mortal body and brain… it’s just too much. Something is going to give… something is going to burst.”

      “Do you remember what I told you?”


      “My final… lesson to you, if you will.”

      Duncan cringed. “I’ve tried to forget it.”

      “People change,” he spoke. “I told you you’d learn that sooner or later. You’re a mortal man now, Duncan. You have made me proud, and a little envious.” Another chuckle. “Do you think maybe you are afraid of change?”

      “I am afraid of nothing.”

      “The lives we led were ones of constant change, constant moving, constant adapting. We took many lovers; we took many identities.” He paused. “Except you, Brother. Always Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, no matter the century you found yourself in. Only now, you’re not really Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod anymore, are you? Let it go, my brother. Let it all go.”

      “You speak in riddles, Connor.” He took another drink. “I’m not in the mood.”

      “You’re Duncan MacLeod, middle-aged mortal man who is going to grow old and die here with a wife and child. There won’t be any more adventures, no more gallivanting across the world seeing civilizations rise and fall. Not even any more Amanda.” Dropping a wagging finger, Connor paused again. “I think the best you know you can hope for is to see your grandchildren one day… maybe hold them in your arms, if even just once. I think this scares you… I think this terrifies you.” He smiled, stared up into the starry sky. His chest heaved, as if his ghostly being could truly inhale the cold Scottish air. “That's always been one of the differences between you and I.”

      Duncan shook his head, then shook the bottle at him. “You’re wrong, Connor. My wife, my son… I’ve never been in a happier place in my life. What is going on in my head… this I can do nothing about.” He stood then, glaring at his kinsman. “I thought you might offer some advice, maybe some insight on what was going on with me. I see now I won’t find any of that from you.”

      A weak smile played upon the elder Highlander’s face. “I’ve given you both, my brother.”

      “Whatever.” Duncan took one last drink before angrily throwing his bottle, only dimly aware of it shattering against Connor’s headstone. “Whatever.”

      “Forgive me, Brother,” the ghostly Connor spoke. He looked sad then, his boisterous façade giving way. “There is great sorrow and judgment ahead of you… but that is a journey I cannot take with you. Not this time.”

      Watching as Duncan tripped and stumbled on his way down the hillside, the apparition of Connor MacLeod vanished as abruptly as he had appeared.

      November 13th, 2042
      Glencoe, Scotland

      Duncan opened the blinds in the living room with two fingers, peering out. Some of the first rays of sunlight that Thursday morning shone against the blades of grass on his lawn to make them appear as a twinkling sort of yellow. Connor was there, seated on the porch steps.

      Stepping out the front door Duncan sat by his son on the porch. A cup of herbal tea was in each hand, carefully balancing each one to ensure neither spilled as he settled down.

      Getting comfortable, he extended a cup to his son. The way he looked at him a moment he might have just as well extended a knife. “Your mother just made it. It’s quite refreshing.”

      Connor exchanged a look of indignance with his father before accepting the cup. “Thanks.”

      Duncan's gaze shifted to the floorboards of the porch. “You know, what happened yesterday... I just want to — ”

      “Forget it, Dad. Just forget it.”

      Duncan nodded, his gaze traveling upward. “Uncle Methos should be here any time now, shouldn’t he?” He took a sip of his own tea, surveying another fine morning in the Highlands. In the very distance, beyond the road and his neighbor's ranch he could make out the steam plumes of a newly constructed UKCom atmospheric reprocessor, fighting what many would consider a losing battle against a vastly overpopulated world and its endless, self-proliferating problem of pollution - a relic of the Rebirth, a time nearly two decades earlier when humanity had pulled itself back from the brink of chaos and self-destruction.

      “He’s not my uncle, Dad.”

      He shuffled a little, wrinkling his nose as he brought the cup from his mouth even as he was about to take another sip. “He’s the closest thing we’ve got to family and don’t you forget it. He’s had as much a stake in your childhood, your training — ”

      “Dad… Dad,” Connor spoke, shaking his head. He laughed, though in a sarcastic kind of angry manner. “I’m really not in the mood for this shit. I’m just not.”

      Was he ever so hard to reach at his age, he wondered, even as he knew the answer was probably a resounding yes. Duncan’s hand shot out, resting on his son’s shoulder almost instinctively. “Richie, I — ”

      Connor shrugged it off in a violent motion. Standing quickly, angrily, he hurled his cup of tea into the front lawn and stormed toward the front door. He faltered a moment as his hand grasped the doorknob, opened his mouth and raised his hand as if about to speak, but then quickly thought better of it and opened the door. It slammed shortly after him.

      “Bloody hell…” Duncan spoke softly to himself, biting his lip. He lowered his head as he began rocking back and forth, combing his fingers through his hair before balling his hands into fists of it and pulling. “Bloody hell…”

      My family, the family I fought four centuries to have at last, he thought. It’s slipping away as quickly as my mind, and I can do nothing. Not a bloody thing. It's all I can do to hold onto today, and then even that slips through my fingers...

      “Whine, whine, whine. Like a little bitch," a voice cackled in his head.

      He whirled around, then quickly relented. It was the same voice that had plagued him for the past two years. “God, not you again.” Duncan sighed disgustedly, having been down this road before.

      "You could’ve ruled the world… but you pissed it away.”

      “You’ve told me, Guardian. A hundred times now.”

      “And I'll never let you forget it," the Guardian added. “What else? Oh yes. The female Anna… she was never for you. As a result, the child… a curse you wrought upon the world now. Your own worst enemy has always been yourself. Time and time again.”

      “I’m not listening to you anymore.”

      “But you should. I had such high hopes for you… but you pissed those away, too, didn’t you?”

      Duncan shook his head, wanting to smile in satisfaction but his restraint getting the better of him. “The only thing I pissed away was your wretched soul for another ten thousand years. Enjoy every one of them, you son of a bitch.”

      “How we do hurt the ones we love, MacLeod-MacLeod. But you know that better than anyone, don’t you?”

      “Fuck you. Rot in your limbo.”

      “I will, and I do, Highlander. But as I do… you’ll forgive me if I like to… drop in from time to time.”

      “Are you the one causing this, Guardian? This… this madness of mine? Showing me the future to come; visions of the past?”

      Cackling laughter roared in his head. “If it pleases you to think so, so be it. Believe me or don’t, but I have always respected you. Since the Source bore you to this land you confine yourself to I have always taken a certain… interest in you. If you will only permit me... I can be your Guardian.”

      Duncan's knuckles moved to his temples, massaging them gently, then more firmly. “Get out of my head, demon. Get out!”

      “You wound me, but very well," the voice of the Guardian almost sounded understanding. "I will leave you with this – watch your back. Your friends, your loved ones… those you believe you can trust. Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing, MacLeod-MacLeod.”

      “Fuck off.”

      “Are you the one, MacLeod-MacLeod?” the Guardian’s voice recanted with diabolic glee. The same words he had spoken decades ago. “You would kill to be the one?”

      Duncan shook his head, replying softly, “Never again. Never again.”

      “Never again what, MacLeod?” a dry English-tinged voice called from directly in front of him. It was a familiar one. An old friend. “Another day in paradise, is it?”

      Duncan’s head slowly rose to focus on this smiling new visitor, clad head to toe in navy blue-colored formal business attire. The man wouldn’t seem out of place on Wall Street, or even a governmental cabinet. “Methos.” As if it took a few moments for it all to register, he repeated, this time with warm emphasis, “Methos!”

      “MacCleod. Damned good to see you!”

      Duncan rose and the two embraced in a brotherly hug. “You look well,” Duncan spoke. “A politician! I’ll never bloody believe it. Still don’t.”

      "I can ignore the voice of the people, MacLeod... but not forever." Methos gave a short laugh, tugged on his sports jacket, and whispered mock-seriously, “Senator Janus Kendrick, man of the people, at your service. A physician, once upon a time.” Smiling broadly, he motioned at the front door then. “Right. Shall we go inside and have a look at you now?”

      Connor MacLeod stood before Methos in the living room of the 5,000 year-old Immortal’s modest Paris home. The Highlander seemed under the weather that day, his hair unkempt, his face unshaven and thick with stubble. There were thick circles under his eyes and he looked as though he had not slept in weeks. Perhaps he hadn’t.

      Duncan, too, was there. Standing in a corner by a thickly curtained window aghast and dumbfounded by his surroundings, he didn’t seem to be entirely certain how he had arrived in them.

      He found he had no idea how or why Methos – a prominent statesman in the past few years – had moved back to an unremarkable home he had vacated five decades previous… or how a very much flesh and blood Connor still walked the Earth.

      “Connor! Methos!” Duncan called, running between the two men. When they didn’t so much as acknowledge him, he reached a hand to grab his kinsman’s arm… only to watch as it passed directly through.

      “What kind of trickery is…” Duncan winced, looking down at his hands as he held them in front of him. “Guardian? Guardian! Is this your doing?”

      Receiving no answer, Duncan resigned himself to simply watching the events play out before him between the two Immortals.

      The two men were already engaged in deep conversation. “I… I know what you are suggesting, Adam. There must be another way... maybe I can leave everything I know. Put it all behind me, the damned Game and all the nonsense with it; move to a new country, maybe travel the world again. Start a new li... a new li...” Connor couldn't even finish the sentence; he couldn't even say the words.

      “Mac, Mac, Mac... you and I know there is no other way out for you. These deaths have been following you over how many centuries now… and you are just going to keep on beating yourself over it, time after time. You know this, I know this, no matter how many times you and I go through the motions. Each and every time it takes another piece of your soul... you’re less of a human being each time. Maybe one day, there will be nothing left.” Methos sighed. “Maybe that day has already come. The Sanctuary has been in place in one form or another for the better part of two millennia, maintained on Holy Ground by Watchers who have as – ”

      “I don’t trust the Watchers, Adam. I never have.” Connor shook his head. “And what Duncan told me last year about James Horton… the Kurgan’s old Watcher – ”

      “Was just one man and his band of misfits that have already been dealt with,” Methos assured him. “Duncan told you that, too, didn’t he?”

      Connor remained quiet. “What did Alex ever do to deserve what she got? We weren’t even together a year, we were going to get – ”

      “She didn’t do anything, Mac. She was an innocent. They always are.” Methos looked down. “Same as your daughter, Rachel. Same as your son, John.” He paused. “We've been down this road before, MacLeod, you and I. You know where it leads as well as I.”

      Connor’s lip trembled. His composure wavering from the state of emotionless steel it had been in a moment ago, tears soon flowed down his cheeks. “My god, Adam… what kind of legacy will I leave in this world? If Duncan saw me now...” He lowered himself on his haunches, clasping both hands in front of his face as he rubbed them together. He seemed to stare off, in Methos’ general direction but seemingly at something past him, or at the wall. “I found true happiness with Heather. She was my wife, my love, my life… when she passed… at every turn, every mortal life I’d ever touched has been cursed. Every life has just ended… suddenly, abruptly and – ”

      “Without reason. You’ve told me.” Methos rested a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “You know I’ve never claimed to have any answers for you, Connor. I’m honored that you have come to me over the years as a confidant and I hope you also know I’ll always be here for you.”

      “I know it, Adam. You will always have my thanks.”

      Methos clapped an arm over Connor, hugging him for a moment. “It saddens me that I can only you offer you – ”

      “Sanctuary,” Connor spoke with a nod, standing. He wiped at his tears with his Armani sleeve. “You’re right, my friend. I think you’re right. No… I know it.” He turned, started for the door. “I’ll be outside, Adam. I’m ready to go.”

      “Connor, please think it through, do consid…” Methos’ voice trailed off as Connor opened and closed the door behind him in short order.

      “Methos!” Duncan shouted. He reached both hands out to grab the elder Immortal by the shoulders, even knowing it would be to no effect. “Damn it, Methos… don’t take him. Don’t let him do this to himself!”

      Seeing his efforts in vain a second time, Duncan stalked back to stand beside the window in frustration. “Guardian… I know you can hear me. Damn you and your trickery.”

      “If only it was, MacLeod-MacLeod!”

      “Guardian!” Duncan shouted back at the Guardian's disembodied voice, his gaze darting around as if looking for its source. “Tell me what is the meaning of this! Why am I here? Why have you – ”

      Duncan stopped in mid-sentence as the phone in Methos’ home began to ring. It was an old-style ringer, linked into a bell mounted on the wall between the living room and the raised dining room area that reverberated loudly.

      Duncan’s eyes tracked Methos as he sat in his leather comforter for a moment to answer the phone.

      Methos lifted it from the receiver, brought it up. “Hello?” A pause. “Ah, Jacob, my boy.” He leaned forward a bit, craning his neck to assure himself he was alone. Seeming satisfied, he eased back again. “It is done. Yes, he is. Yes, yes, you can wholly enjoy the satisfaction of knowing Connor MacLeod will spend his next years reliving all the dreadful horrors you’ve subjected him to… while my favorite race horse will finally come into his own. And do leave him alone for me, would you?” A dry grin stretched across his lips. “A year? Two? Oh no, no need to get ahead of ourselves, Jacob. Men like you and I… we have all the time in the world.” Methos hung up the telephone. “Jacob, my dear Jacob…” he spoke softly to himself then, “you’ll be beating the odds if you even see the turn of the century.”

      The front door opened a crack and Connor peered in. “Adam…?”

      Methos quickly stood from his chair, fumbling for his keys in his pocket. “I’ll be right behind you.”
      Highlander: Dark Places


      • #4
        November 13th, 2042
        Glencoe, Scotland

        “If you had only seen Kathy’s face when she saw me… there, in nothing but my briefs and my boots, tracking mud and making an ass of myself in front of Belinda and McCallister! She would never let me forget it. My campaign for president now… nearly over before it began!” Methos finished his anecdote, in full-on Senator Kendrick mode if only for the moment. Anna began to laugh and, as usual, in such an infectious manner that it spread to Methos himself. Even Connor II, seated quietly in the corner as he pretended to be fixated on the holovision, uttered a muffled chuckle. “I get ahead of myself sometimes,” Methos said. “A curse, I think.”

        As Duncan’s gaze bore holes into Methos, Anna rested a hand on the senator’s custom-tailored sports jacket. “Can I get you some coffee, Methos?”

        Methos bit his lip a bit, then gave an expression as if deeply considering it a moment before returning with, “Yes. Absolutely, that sounds great. Just a cup, and then I’d really like to run a full medical diagnostic on your lesser half over there.” He playfully indicated Duncan with a nudge of his head.

        Anna nodded and laughed, beginning to get up. “Of course. Let me just go and – ”

        “I’ll get it,” Duncan cut her off, standing in her stead.

        His wife shot him a frown. “Really, honey, it’s all right. I – ”

        “I said I’ll get the bloody coffee.” The weight to his voice, he spoke in such a way that there could be no question, either from Anna or from Methos, who stirred a bit in his seat as if about to protest that it was no big deal.

        Duncan made his way to the kitchen. He lifted the coffee pot, reached up for the cupboard for a clean mug.

        “Don’t listen to his lies, Highlander.” It was the Guardian himself, his ghostly apparition appearing beside him in the kitchen. Though semi-transparent, he was still clad head to toe in the same type of Roman gladiator-esque attire he had worn in life some two decades before. “He will betray you; he will kill you… I took you to the future, I showed you!”

        “Don’t you dare believe this piece of haggis, Duncan,” Connor spoke to him, his own apparition appearing to him beside the Guardian. “I don’t know what he showed you but he can’t be – ”

        “You beat me at my own game, MacLeod-MacLeod. You know I know that; you know I respect that. Don’t let me find out my hope in you was misplaced. This Immortal scum, Methos… he has been waiting and planning five decades for this. Don’t let him – ”

        “Who do you think you are, Mr. Guardian? You come here, speak to my brother trying to confuse him, make the wrong choice. You were never even fit to scrub the Kurgan’s boots; a clown not fit to carry Kane’s jo – ”

        “Silence! Both of you!” Duncan shouted. He dropped. “Methos would never betray me. He has no reason to… I’m not even Immortal anymore! If he was working with Jacob Kell he…” He trailed off, realizing the tone of his voice was probably carrying.


        Duncan whirled around, coffee mug and coffee pot in both hands. Methos stood in the kitchen with him, grin cracked to one side of his face and both hands in his pockets. He rolled his shoulders, straightening himself a little.

        “Methos… I’m not sure where to begin, but I think you and I need to have a little talk,” Duncan began.

        “Do we?”

        Duncan’s voice faltered as he explained, “I-I… I know this is going to sound crazy, but… please humor me. Let’s go back to 1994… Con – ”

        “Oh, let’s not do that.”

        In a single motion, Methos produced a handheld taser from his right coat pocket, trained it on Duncan, and promptly shot him in the chest with it. The hooks ripped through his clothing and buried themselves into his flesh as they delivered their electrical payload. As he buckled and convulsed violently, the mug and coffee pot fell from his fingers to crash and shatter onto the floor beneath him.

        November 13th, 2042
        Glencoe, Scotland

        Duncan stirred to consciousness on the kitchen floor. He was dimly aware of the light coming through the windows, realizing it was already evening.

        I… I remember… Methos… my god, what has happened? Have to do something, have to get up, have to…

        The way he had fallen was such that his head had become wedged between the refrigerator and the nook separating it from the cupboard next to it, bent then in an uncomfortable manner.

        Writhing, his thoughts and mind’s eye numbed with the throbbing emanating from his temples, Duncan snapped a hand up to the counter and tried to pull himself back up.

        “Anna!” he shouted, his voice cracking. “Connor!”

        His hand flailing out, he grabbed a hold of the refrigerator’s door handle to get to his feet. He was nearly up when he accidentally pulled the refrigerator door open, sending him back to the floor. His head snapped back, hitting the linoleum floor.

        “Anna! Connor!” he bellowed once more, even as he resigned himself to lay on the floor for the moment. Still no response. Not a word; not a sound.

        As angry with himself and the failings of his body as he was with anything else, Duncan roared as he fought to get back up. At first he attempted to vault himself to his feet, springing off the base of his back but being unsuccessful at it – in his younger years he could do so with ease, but this time he succeeded only in cracking his back and pulling a muscle.

        Shouting out in pain, he tumbled back down and writhed on the floor once more.

        “God damn you, Methos! I’ll get you for this… you’ll bloody well pay for this!”

        Rolling on his belly, Duncan reached his hands forward and crawled forward. Inch by inch he went until he made it to the kitchen. Raising a hand to rest on one of the dining table’s chair’s seats, he managed to pull himself all the way up. Slowly, painfully, but he made it.

        Taking one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other as he used every counter and wall on his way for added support, Duncan hobbles his way back through the kitchen and toward the living room.

        In his current state he was not the least bit surprised at again the apparition of his deceased kinsman, Connor MacLeod in the hallway. He held still, his eyes fixed on Duncan’s, and his brow seemed heavy with sorrow.

        “Connor, what has happened? Tell me! Methos has betrayed me, he’s…”

        Connor looked away and then down. He shook his head slowly, perhaps as if in pity, and then vanished entirely.

        “Connor! Come back! Damn it all…”

        Not letting that get to him, Duncan continued into the living room… and in the course of a single second his entire world turned upside down.

        “God no… not this… god, please…”

        Following a trail of broken glass and coagulated blood, he almost immediately saw his son, Connor II in the living room’s center. His body was laying on its back over the glass-centered coffee table, the glass in the middle broken inward as if he’d been thrown upon it.

        “My son… my son…”

        Duncan ran to him and buried his head in his blood-soaked chest. Though he was trying not to look, there appeared to be what looked like a single bullet hole over where his heart would be, then another through the base of his skull.

        “I’ve failed you… I’ve fucking failed you… I’m sorry, my boy, I’m so sorry…” He raised his head, tears streaking from his reddened eyes as he shouted, “It should have been me!”

        Moments later he became aware of a strange, somewhat ammonia-esque odor emanating from nearby. Distractedly, he seemed to be able to quickly track it to the source – a blue, dried and cracked outline of what had been some form of viscous liquid around his son’s lips.

        Poison… poison!

        Though it had never been clear if Connor II was even ever a pre-Immortal in the traditional sense, Methos had apparently seen to it that he had not received the shock of a violent death. First the poison to bring on death, it seemed, then a bullet to the heart and brain posthumously to make sure.

        Methos was as methodical as he was ruthless. Duncan could only curse himself for ever allowing a man once known as Death himself so close into the security of his life.

        Duncan brought a shaking hand to his son’s face. The boy’s eyes and mouth were wide open, his pupils dilated, his last memories likely ones of shock and horror. As his tears began to drip down upon his son's blood-soaked tunic, he closed Connor’s eyelids and looked away.

        “Duncan… Duncan!”

        His eyes perked up at the sound of his soft-spoken wife. Darting upwards so fast, he tripped himself over the coffee table’s edge and fell over his son’s legs. Getting his bearings in a furious manner, he rushed behind the blood-stained love seat to find Anna laying on the wooden floor behind it.

        She was on her back, quivering silently. Her face was damp with sweat and tears, her hair stuck in clumps to her face, and her running eyeshadow streaking across her temples and cheeks. Though there didn’t appear to be a lot of blood loss from the angle he was looking, she was clearly impaled through her midsection into the wood of the floor beneath her by a broken katana that appeared to be shattered at the hira.

        A broken katana with a very familiar hilt.

        “Duncan... thank god you’re all right,” she spoke quietly, her lip trembling as she spoke. “I tried to fight him, tried to get away – ”

        “It’s all right now, my love,” Duncan spoke, new tears streaking down his face. “Methos, he – ”

        “He left. He said… it was time to tie up all – “ she broke off a moment, coughing. Blood trickled from the edge of her lips, “ – loose ends. I thought for certain you were dead.”

        “He could have killed me for certain. I’m not certain why he didn’t… but let’s not worry about that now. Let’s get you help.”

        Anna nodded, resting her head back against the floorboards as her husband kissed her forehead. Her eyes seemed focused, alert, and Duncan remained positive. “Duncan,” she spoke, softly again, “our son…”

        Duncan turned away, not wanting to face this right now. His hand fumbled into his pocket for his satphone. Retrieving it with a shaking hand, he dialed the three numbers he prayed he could remember at this time.

        “Yes, Duncan MacLeod. 515 Morningside Drive…my wife needs emergency medical attention. Please hurry. Please.”

        Even as he hung up while the operator was beginning to speak, he found his satphone ringing then. The emergency operator couldn’t possibly have recalled his number that quickly.

        Bringing it back to his ear, he heard the wry voice of Methos, “Hideo Koto’s blade claims yet another victim, MacLeod. Very macabre of you, really, removing it from Joe’s grave. I bet he’s turning in it right now.”

        “Methos!” Duncan shouted. He clenched the satphone tight enough that he could hear its plastic begin to crack and strain. “I don’t care whe – ”

        “You killed them, MacLeod. You killed them both… as far as anyone else is concerned. How is that dementia treating you, by the way?”

        “You listen to me, you sick son of a bitch. You show yourself and – ”

        “Ciao for now.”

        As Methos hung up the other end, Duncan hurled the satphone across the room to watch it crash, spark, and break apart in different pieces against the fireplace’s mantle.

        He felt his wife’s hand softly resting on his thigh and turned back to face her.

        Anna mustered up strength enough to manage a weak smile. He had always admired her strength, her conviction… present even then, at their darkest moment. “I’ll be okay, honey… I’ll be okay. You just go now… you set things… right.”

        Duncan winced, propping back from crouching to fall on his behind. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to do something, anything. He wanted to remove the katana from her right then, make her comfortable, but knew he was only apt to make things worse.

        “You know what you need to do, MacLeod-MacLeod.”

        It was the apparition of the Guardian once more, standing with his arms crossed at the front door.

        Duncan stood and met the demon’s cold stare. He nodded resolutely. For once, he found himself entirely in agreement with him.
        December 1st, 2042
        Seatac, WA USA

        In his hotel room the holovision set behind him seemed to be providing adequate enough background noise. Satisfied, Duncan MacLeod tossed the remote aside and knelt beside his bed in only his ritual hakama. He was alone then, his thoughts known only to himself as he began to perform a kata.

        “Nearly at the end, aren’t we, Highlander? Don’t let go just yet.”

        In his current state, he didn’t even hear the voice speaking in his head anymore. At least, he no longer chose to acknowledge it.

        His hands moving as if of their own avail, they drifted down to his hara, the region about two inches below his navel that was his focal point of balance. According to traditional Japanese thought, a person’s spiritual center. It was for this reason, he knew, that samurai wishing to kill themselves chose the method seppuku, literally opening their hara for examination to the hereafter to redeem or reaffirm lost honor.

        “It doesn’t need to end like this, you know. I’ve prepared you, warned you about what lies ahead. You can lead a horse to water, but...”

        Seppuku, however, wasn’t what Duncan had his mind set on. What his mind was set on was clearing it; steeling his resolve, reminding himself what needed to be done.

        Duncan shot his hands forward, almost clapping them in front of him. He exhaled sharply, as if exorcising the impurities within him. Closed his eyes.

        “Don’t forget where you’ve come from, MacLeod-MacLeod. Don’t let my efforts be for naught. Do so... and you are doomed.”

        Highlander: Dark Places


        • #5
          October 27th, 1606
          Glenfinnan, Scotland

          Fourteen year-old Duncan MacLeod lay awake one night with his cousin Robert on the second level of the Raineys’ barn. Their arms folded under their heads as they lay upon the hay strewn about, both of their gazes remained fixed out the large cutaway windows through which a particularly clear and starry night sky was visible.

          Robert gave a snort. “You’re in love with that bloody witch, aren’t you?”

          Duncan recoiled, his face wrinkling in repulse. “What? No, absolutely not.”

          “Oh, but you saw her naked you said… trying to seduce you she was, little cousin!”

          Duncan shook his head a little. “You’re insane. It wasn’t like that. She just… took me up, opened my eyes a little… showed me things.”

          Robert snorted even louder this time. “I’ll bet the dickens she showed you a few things! Play a bit of hide the haggis, did – ”

          “You’re sick, Cousin Robert,” Duncan chided with a snort of his own. He paused, collecting his thoughts.

          He could not lie to himself, though. The Witch of Donan Woods was very much on his mind in the past week since his return to his Clan. The things she had shown him, told him… they weren’t things he could easily shake.

          “She told me of a great destiny that awaits me, Cousin,” he offered at last.

          “One of great glory and honor, I’m sure,” Robert spoke behind a smile, “between lovemaking sessions the likes of which would surely make even a Chieftain weep, verily.”

          Duncan ignored his cousin. He wasn’t there. He didn’t hear her words, the truth he could see beneath them. He couldn’t be entirely certain what the witch’s motives were in taking him aside and telling him the things she did, but in a way he couldn’t explain he still felt assured that she had only his best interests in mind.

          “Betrayal. Death. Loved ones I will lose… loved ones that will forsake me, leave me for dead.” Duncan spoke the words, yet even as he did so their real meaning seemed somewhat lost or diluded on his young lips. “Cousin, I don’t want to ever grow old.”

          Robert rolled back onto his rear, swiveling to face him with a big grin. “Don’t be silly, Cousin Duncan. You spend a couple of days with a witch, look at the way you talk. Would you have old Ian hear you talk this way?”

          Duncan laughed, forgetting his train of thought for the moment. “I’m sorry, Cousin. Maybe it’s nothing.” He closed his eyes. “Maybe it’s nothing at all.”

          December 4th, 2042
          Seattle, WA USA

          With a boot, Duncan unceremoniously shoved aside the unconscious body of one of the two hapless World Trade Center security guards at the elevator’s opening doors. Walking inside the elevator, pressing the button of the executive level, Duncan closed his eyes and took a deep breath as the doors closed once more.

          “You know the path you walk, Highlander. I’ve prepared you, I’ve shown you what awaits you now.”

          The voice of the Guardian again. Goading him… or truly guiding him? Duncan couldn’t be certain, but even as he had to admit he had shown him things he could not refute, he knew he wouldn’t let that demon dictate his destiny.

          “If you won’t listen to him,” came another disembodied voice, that again of his kinsman, “then listen to me. You know what you’re walking into. You’ve seen it. Now you can walk away from it. You cannot win, my brother… not as a mortal, not as you are.”

          Duncan opened his eyes as the elevator doors hissed opened.

          “Last chance, MacLeod-MacLeod.”

          “Walk away, Brother. Do it now. Let go... let all of it go.”

          Duncan walked forward, turning sharply to his left. Moving with purpose down the hall, he made his way to the boardroom door he knew contained his quarry.

          Turning the handle to the unlocked door and pushing it open, Methos – the incumbent Senator Janus McKendrick – was standing near the window of the boardroom, clad in his navy blue business suit with a red scarf draped around his neck.

          He didn’t seemed surprised in the least. He just stood there, sucking back at the butt of a cigarette behind squinted eyes.

          “Ah, MacLeod! Good of you to come,” he spoke sardonically. “I knew you would.”

          “Of course you would. You let me live.”

          “Yes, of course I would, and that’s why I let you live.” Methos gave a single laugh. “You and I have too much history for me to rob you of at least the chance for vengeance, some shot at retribution to satisfy that old boy scout code of honor. I do you this small favor… but you and I both know you’re simply not up to it, are you?”

          Duncan said nothing.

          “You know, even if you won’t say so… but that’s never stopped you before, has it?” Methos said with a sneer. He began to pace a moment, though his eyes remained fixated on Duncan’s. “You know, I was sitting here poring over my inauguration speech my aides have prepared for my presidency next month – and it’s quite a whopper, mind you, I’ve been at it all bloody day – just making a wreck of myself. I even took up smoking these past few weeks, and I thought I’d kicked that damned habit seventy years ago.” Methos waved what little was left of his cigarette at Duncan. “I’m beside myself. But you know what’s funny?” Methos posed the question with a bit of a sarcastic wince, putting out his cigarette not in an ashtray but on the surface of the oak conference table itself. “I swear, I could sense you coming just now. I would swear…could feel you getting nearer. As one Immortal to another… and yet you portend to be entirely mortal now. Curious.” Methos reached atop the boardroom’s ovular conference table, clasping his Ivanhoe sword by the handle. “One might almost think you have some vestige left of your Immortality in that husk of a body you walk around in, your entering of the Source just a fluke. Some final barrier to the Prize.” He paused. “We are the last of our kind, you know.”

          “Maybe. Maybe not.”

          Methos moved closer, scraping his Ivanhoe sword a bit along the maroon-carpeted boardroom as he went. “Oh, you sell yourself short. I think you do have something for me yet,” he spoke with a certain sense of tempered glee.

          “I do.”

          In a singular movement of trained iaijutsu – the same movement ancient samurai used to quickly dispense with their adversaries in a single, surprise motion – Duncan drew his butterfly swords from where they were tucked within his belt and struck at Methos’ neck.

          Too slow. Decades ago, his enemy would have already been decapitated where he stood.

          Methos vaulted back after bringing his sword up for a parry, his eyes as wide as his grin. He held his Ivanhoe before him anxiously then. “Ah, the Game is afoot, MacLeod! Excellent!”

          Needing no further provocation, Duncan MacLeod lunged forth and clashed weapons with Methos. The Highlander deflected blow after blow with his butterfly swords even as he himself was well past the point of being winded.

          He was outmatched, outgunned, and going to lose. Twenty-five years before when he was still an Immortal, at the height of his strength, he might have had a chance… but now…


          “You’ve aged horribly,” Methos goaded him on. “You realize that, don’t you? Mortality just doesn’t become you. It doesn’t suit you.”

          Thoughts flashed through Duncan’s mind. He thought of his wife, Anna, their twenty-five years of happiness; he thought of his son, Connor, who was supposed to be the best and only hope for the world to rise out of darkness. One was already dead – another name added to the list following him over time of the lives he touched that end as a result of coming into his own – the other one was counting on him to do what needed to be done.

          How did it happen last time… damn you, Guardian… were you right all along? Can’t think about that now.

          Mustering up what strength he had left in his body, Duncan went on the offensive, countering Methos’ thrust with a butterfly sword and elbowing him in the cheekbone. He whirled around, catching a surprised Methos across the shoulder with the other butterfly while the other was already headed toward his neck.

          No one home. Methos was already weaving to one side, countering away Duncan’s attack while pulling a dagger from his side and raking it across his forearm. Crying in pain as he dropped his left butterfly sword and cursing himself for not remembering how it had played out in his mind the last time, it was all he could do to clutch onto his remaining sword. Nearly tripping over a footstool, his adversary shoved him through the open fire escape door and over the side of the catwalk.


          A couple of partially filled garbage bags strewn around a nearby dumpster partially breaking his fall by his midsection, Duncan nonetheless instinctively reached his free hand forward to protect himself. As he first made contact with the cement, by the sound of the noise it seemed certain his wrist was shattered.

          “Pitiful, just pathetic!” Methos shouted down at him. “You do your reputation discredit!” With that, he vaulted over the catwalk’s rail to join his opponent in the dark alley in a single, practiced leap.

          Duncan hobbled to his feet, grasping onto his sole butterfly sword in his right hand intently while biting back the searing pain radiating from his wrist, his forearm, and joints. “Yuh-you have to stop this,” he sputtered as Methos neared. “You have to – ”

          “A glorious new age is upon us, MacLeod,” Methos interrupted as he planted a wingtip shoe into the underside of Duncan’s jaw. The Highlander was sent hurtling against stone walls. “The Guardian was right. What was it you said he told you? Yes, that’s right… we pissed our gifts away. We always were meant to rule these peons, weren’t we? From the very beginning. Not cower in the dark watching civilization after civilization cannibalize each other.”

          “The Guardian was wrong!” Duncan brought up his sword, deflecting a riposte that could very well have killed him. “It’s not your place! Not for any of us! We were never meant to rule… damn it, you don’t have any right to play God!”

          “The Guardian was right, MacLeod-MacLeod... but I think it matters little now. Be seeing you soon.”

          A powerful swipe by Methos’ Ivanhoe sword sent Duncan’s remaining butterfly sword skittering across the alley. Duncan was only dimly aware of Methos plunging his dagger into his midsection, he just felt his knees buckle and give way.

          Methos sheathed his dagger, circling his opponent then in sauntering strides as he loosed his tie a bit with a hand. “Your use to me is at last at an end. Deep down, you always knew it would come to this… you just didn’t want to admit it; didn’t want to see it.” Methos held his sword back then, poised for the killing blow.

          “I’m mortal now.” Duncan spit blood into a muddy puddle near his knees. “Have been the past twenty-five years… you take my head you won’t get any Quickening.”

          “Just call me old-fashioned – and what’s a decapitation between old friends, anyway?” Methos smiled callously. “I could have had my men shoot you dead about a dozen times on your way here… but then there’s no telling if that wouldn’t just somehow reactivate your Immortality, eh?” The Senator paused. “Will there be any last requests this evening?”

          Doomed. From the start.

          “One stroke. Make it quick.”

          “Oh, it ordinarily is,” Methos spoke, a cavalier inflection to his voice. Not unusual. “Do forgive me, MacLeod.”

          Duncan closed his eyes, pursed his lips, and awaited the blow that would follow him into the darkness that awaited him. He would not run from it any longer.

          “There can be only one!”

          The final swing came.

          Methos stood back, watching as the Highlander’s head tumbled to the ground at his feet. It hit the puddle at Duncan’s own knees with a wet, resounding thud, then rolled a bit past him.

          The 5,000 year-old Immortal blinked, closed his eyes entirely, then reopened them, as if a part of him wasn’t truly believing what he was seeing; as if he couldn’t believe his decades-long stratagem had finally reached fruition.

          And yet it had.

          As Methos was about to open his mouth to speak some final words to the Highlander, the force of the Quickening struck him head on. His Ivanhoe sword shooting out from his fingertips smasmodically, blue lightning bolts struck and coursed through his body from Duncan’s as it convulsed in a mixture of pain, fulfillment, and perhaps even some sense of twisted pleasure, coursing in and out of it.

          “Ah, yes! Yes!” Methos bellowed. His voice echoed throughout the alley as the sheer, overwhelming power of the Quickening drove him first upward, hovering into the air and then down to his knees. “The Prize, the Prize! I-I know everything! Everything! The secrets of the world, every mind on this cursed Earth an open book, I know – ”

          “You know I’m standing right behind you, you twisted piece of shit.”

          That voice, it can’t be –

          “Wh-what!” Methos whirled around, wide-eyed and mouth agape. There was Connor II, the young Highlander standing resolutely behind him with katana held in a practiced battle stance, poised above his torso. For the first time, Methos seemed totally and completely taken by surprise. “But you’re dead! I killed you... a slow death...” he stammered out, weakly. “The Prize is already mine, y-you can’t be an –”

          “I’m something else, motherfucker,” Connor II spoke. “Something more. There can be only… this.”

          Connor brought his katana about, swinging true and promptly beheading Methos in one fell swoop.

          “Ended… and done,” Connor said, tossing his lion-hilted katana to the side and kneeling down. He reached down, picking up the head of Methos by his hair and held it curiously in front of him.

          The lightning hit him in a flurry. He seemed unprepared for its onslaught – the young man’s muscles and nerves sent him into convulsions when it first struck and permeated his body. Soon brought some fifteen feet hovering into mid-air, his screams and shouts echoed throughout the alley as untold energies coursed into and out of his body, the collective memories and powers of thousands of Immortals and the Source pouring into his core and being.

          When it was at last at an end, Connor was returned to the ground in a crouching position. Smoke and steam wafting off of his clothing and back, his reddened eyes slowly opened.

          Connor MacLeod was the One. Perhaps he had always been.

          The Game, as it was known, was over.

          Highlander: Dark Places


          • #6
            I am so happy this was rescued!


            • MichaelHenry
              MichaelHenry commented
              Editing a comment
              This is good. Who wrote it and how much more do you have to post?

            • dubiousbystander
              dubiousbystander commented
              Editing a comment
              This seems currently the end. But it does say to be continued!

            • Andrew NDB
              Andrew NDB commented
              Editing a comment
              I wrote it. There is a lot more to add.

          • #7
            August 15th, 1994
            Seacouver, WA

            "... and I still can't fathom how Fitz pulled it off. Those women hated each other!"

            "We'll have to ask him. Isn't he working as a sous chef somewhere in France?"

            "Last I heard. Open invitation for 'the best filet mignon you'll ever have' at La Cave De L'os A Moelle anytime we're in town."

            Duncan MacLeod followed Connor MacLeod's lead and stopped in front of a nearby McDonald's. As Duncan quickly began to realize that Connor really was intently looking at the Golden Arches, he raised a hand, wincing as he spoke,

            "Connor, you won't even barely touch hot dogs. You're not seriously--"

            "Duncan, when it's time to eat, it's time to eat. Even for us." He pointed to the sign above, indicating 120 Million Served. "Can one hundred and twenty million people be wrong?"

            He raised his hands up, palms first. "Hey, I'm all for a good Big Mac every now and again. Let's go."

            "Your treat?"

            Duncan smiled. "My treat."

            "Heh, don't be ridiculous. I'm here to shoot the shit with you, Duncan... let me buy you the Big Mac."

            "I buy a Big Mac, you buy a Big Mac... all this talk about Big Macs, let's just go and eat us some, shall we?"

            "We shall." Connor shot his brother his usual cavalier grin.

            A sudden pain struck Duncan's temple. Bringing a hand to it, he crouched down on one knee as Connor rushed over to him to see what was the matter.

            "Duncan... are you all right?"

            It all came back to him. The future... five decades into it, the Guardian, Methos. All of it.

            Duncan shot back up to his feet, wiping the sweat from his brow as his eyes lit up with a new sense of purpose. "Connor! I-I..."

            "Spit it out, Duncan!"

            "I-I don't know where to begin. Somehow I've been able to travel through time... a demon called the Guardian has enabled me to go back... maybe set the wrong things right."

            The elder Highlander gave a curious chuckle. "Duncan, what are you talking about?"

            "Methos!" Duncan exclaimed. "Yes, Methos... although maybe you know him as Adam Pierson. After the death of your loved ones you will go to him; you will seek him out... he will try to talk you into going to Sanctuary --"

            The humor from his face ebbed, dissolving into a look of deadly seriousness. "Duncan, this isn't funny anymore."

            "I'm not trying to be funny, Connor. Methos will betray you, as sure as I saw it happening right in front of me. In the future, you see, he betrayed me as well... he took my head as my son --"

            A bit of the humor returned. Only a bit. "Duncan, Duncan... calm down. Let's just go inside and get that Big Mac, maybe an apple pie and --"

            "Bloody hell, forget about Big Macs! I'm talking about life and death here... a man who has been biding his time, watching us Immortals whittle away each other, picking favorites and plotting the endgame for thousands of years. I don't know how much time I have right now but I need to warn you and I need you to take me absolutely seriously."

            "I do take you seriously, MacLeod-MacLeod," came the voice of the Guardian, out of Connor's mouth. "Absolutely so." Just as when the Kurgan had spoken to him through his son, his lips did not match the words.

            "Guardian! I've had enough of this! If you're truly trying to help me, let me stop this, let me end what is --"

            "Oh, it's already over, Highlander. You just haven't realized it yet... haven't let go."

            Duncan raised his hands to shield him from a blinding light that overcame him.

            December 15th, 2042
            Glencoe, Scotland

            Connor II and Anna MacLeod stood huddled together on one surprisingly sunny December afternoon. Connor II, his arm around his mother, gave her a squeeze as again she raised a handkerchief to wipe the tears streaking from her eyes.

            Beside the grave of Connor's namesake and his wife there then lay a new grave and headstone. Both mother and son's gaze lingered on its inscription, etched by hand as painfully as it had been caringly.

            Duncan MacLeod
            Beloved Husband of Anna
            Beloved Father of Connor

            "A people's will, a nation's choice; in waiting there is the might of destiny. In achieving there is harmony, fulfilling an assignment of hope, returning to the embrace of Europe. Triumph out of battles lost... the future will recover the cost," Connor recanted the words to the "Scotland" poem by Daedalus his father had once taught him. He produced a small flask of Glenfiddich Scotch from his coat, removed the top, and took a measured drink. He let the drink linger in his mouth a few moments, savoring the taste, before swallowing it down. "To you, Father. I hope you've found the peace you deserve."

            Anna began wailing once again, burying her face in the side of her son's chest.

            "This is not right," came the voice of Duncan MacLeod.

            He was standing there beside his wife and son then, as he had been for several minutes by that point. As if an apparition then himself, same as he was when he had bore witness to Methos sending Connor to the Sanctuary at the behest of Jacob Kell in 1994, neither Anna or Connor II seemed to be able to see or hear him.

            "This is where it must end, my true brother," came once more the voice of the apparition of the original Connor MacLeod. His words were heavy with sorrow, perhaps pity. "For you."

            "What are you talking about?" He stood back, flailing an arm. "Methos beheaded me, I tracked him to Seattle and he took my head! I shouldn't be here... what kind of damnation is this?"

            "Oh, the best kind."

            "You! Guardian!" he snapped as the ghostly Guardian joined Connor as well. "What is the meaning of this? If this has been some kind of sick game, you've just elevated it to an all new level."

            "If it is a sick game, it is one you have brought all of us along with you for the ride, MacLeod-MacLeod."

            "What kind of riddle is that? What are you talking about?"

            Connor rested a hand on Duncan's shoulder, squeezing. "My brother... come with me. It is time to go now... you must let this go; you must break free of this falsehood you indulge. This... fantasy."

            "Indulge? Fantasy? You call this a fantasy? I'm bloody dead, I have a widow, a son that is facing the world without anyone to guide him, I --"

            "Wake up, Highlander. Wake up... and die, Highlander."

            A very confused Duncan recoiled angrily. His gaze darted back and forth between the two apparitions. "Is this madness?"

            "Only yours. And what sweet madness it is."

            "I told you to let go, Brother." Connor laid a hand on Duncan's shoulder, then pulled him in for a hug. "Forgive me, Duncan. I never wanted you to go through this. Please forgive me."

            That same bright light from before, blinding him even as his hands shot reflexively up. This time it overpowered him like a swarm, bringing him to his knees. The light somehow penetrated his hands and even his eyelids.

            As the light overtook him this time, at last the Highlander seemed to understand.

            At last, the Highlander let it all go.

            November 7th, 2042
            Glencoe, Scotland

            His head hung low in sorrow, Methos' hand moved forward over the bed to close Duncan MacLeod's eyelids. Doing so, he retracted his hand and closed his own eyes, a wistful sigh escaping his mouth as he hung his head even lower.

            His assistant moved by his side, not quite whispering but speaking in as soft of a tone as she could muster, "Time of death... 8:22 PM."

            Slowly, in what appeared as almost physical pain as she did so, Anna let go of her husband's hand. Her fingers lingered over his wedding ring as her hand slipped from his.

            Methos regarded young Connor II and Anna with a fond, sympathetic glance. "He lived a long, full life. Anna, Connor, you were more than he could ever hope for in the entirety of his lifetime... more than any of our kind could ever hope for. Ever. I mean that." Methos nodded, looking back to the body of Duncan on the bed. While in the hours that had preceded the Highlander had seemed trapped in a comatose, catatonic state of which was painful for his loved ones to witness, he now seemed at peace. "I know his regrets, if any... they would have had to have been quite small."

            "Thank you, Methos," Connor II spoke, nodding respectfully at the elder Immortal. "I know you did everything you could."

            "He'd been like this for months... maybe this is a blessing," Anna spoke, her lips trembling as more tears struck down her cheeks to drop on her sweater, "It just all came on so suddenly, so violently..."

            "I'm truly sorry for your loss, Anna," Methos said with a nod. "This form of a veritable viral post-Immortal dementia... you know I consulted with the best minds in medicine throughout the world. It was all we could do to make him comfortable. Make him... at peace."

            "Thank you, thank you," Anna spoke. She stepped away from her son, reaching forward to embrace Methos herself. "You are a kind man. A good friend. I know Duncan always considered you like a brother."

            "Maybe not always," he replied. "But I'll always hold the friendship we shared dear to me. Duncan MacLeod truly was the best of us. The most noble... perhaps the most human of all."

            As Anna withdrew, Methos gave his assistant a dutiful glance. He spoke quietly, "Aida, please tidy up here. Make the necessary calls; the necessary arrangements."

            "I will," the young, blond assistant spoke tersely with a nod.

            Methos gingerly grabbed his senatorial-pinned sports jacket from the nightstand that had been pushed near the door of the bedroom. He rested a hand on the shoulder of Connor II as he went, whispering softly again in his ear, "Live, grow stronger, fight another day, Highlander."

            Connor nodded resolutely. "I will. I swear it."

            Methos retracted his hand, displaying a thin smile as he left the room then. "Oh, I'm counting on it."

            "My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
            My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
            A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
            My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go."

            - Robert Burns
            Highlander: Dark Places


            • #8
              November 8th, 2042
              Glencoe, Scotland

              "You fucking owe me, Billy," Joshua spoke, shoving back in one particularly made-up John Doe back into his place of temporary refrigeration within the morgue. "Oh, you fucking owe me."

              Joshua wiped his congealed blood-coated hands on his labcoat before returning to his stand, itself like an island within the dismal Scottish morgue. "Who's next, who's next?" he spoke to himself. Picking up a digital clipboard, his eyes lazily danced to the next name on his list.

              "Duncan MacLeod," he spoke the name aloud from the clipboard. "Duncan MacLeod? Do I have a Duncan MacLeod in the house? A-6... ho-kay, you're up, my man."

              Joshua jovially strode over to the appropriate drawer, A-6, unclasped it, and pulled it out far enough to see that...

              "Billy, you have got to be kidding me..."

              The drawer was empty.

              Time and Location Unknown

              Duncan MacLeod winced in pain and gave a grunt before his knees buckled, sending the Highlander doubling over into...



              He pressed the palms of his hands to his temples while blinking rapidly, attempting to shake the cobwebs from his head. It was mostly futile, but he did manage to gradually regain at least enough self-awareness to question his surroundings.

              Sand and dunes it was. Heat. Wind-howling.

              Clarity began to return to Duncan's vision. There was poor visibility, but it seemed that was more due to the wind and sandstorm raging throughout the dunes in the great distance ahead.

              Why am I walking? he asked himself as he continued on his way. Where am I walking?

              No answer. Only more sand and dunes... and heat.

              Time and Location Unknown

              Shirt cast off long ago and sweat-strewn trousers becoming more and more tattered, Duncan MacLeod had been walking for what seemed like an eternity. His knees and joints were locked in a constant state of flux -- tearing down, healing, tearing down again. Was that his Immortality active again? He had been walking for so long across the vast expanse of desert and heat that it seemed impossible that an ordinary mortal could do so without dropping dead some time ago.

              As he stepped on a rock, a slight pain jolted up from his big toe in a way unlike the cracking and burning that was already scalding his feet and hands. He looked closer. Was that a toe tag?

              He shrugged it off. He had bigger concerns right now.

              It's as if I know where I'm going... but how can I possibly?

              Duncan desperately tried to cling to something, anything to keep his mind poised and alert as he went. He remembered and dwelled within the stories Darius would tell him, the good times with Tessa, with Kate, with Anna, and even the hijinks with Amanda.

              No, there was more than just hijinks with Amanda... so much more.

              As a chuckle escaped his breath as he clomped through the sand, he suddenly felt like a crazy man. He made it a point to better keep his wits about him.

              Clearing the top of a particularly high dune, Duncan wiped the sweat and sand from his brow. The sandstorm had died down some, allowing him to see what appeared to be a harrowing tower stretching some untold stories into the sky up ahead. It rose from the summit of a low-level mountain which was surrounded by otherwise the unassuming and normal looking desert and dunes abound.

              He reached a better vantage point. From the distance he was at, the tower was four, maybe five miles from him. The wind ripped at his garments and howled in his ears, discouraging him going any further.

              He pressed on. When he reached the mountain, he climbed it. When he reached the base of the tower... he readied himself.

              Studying the entrance to the tower, twenty feet tall Roman-esque double doors stood between two statues with crossed swords that resembled the ancient Centurions. His wits about him, Duncan approached the doors and paused.

              This must be the place. Good of a place as any, really... and here's to hoping it's cooler in there than it is out here. Assuming there's even anyone home...

              Duncan reached up to knock but stopped himself, instead electing to pound more vigorously with a clenched fist on one side of the double-doors.

              It did not take long for it to be answered. With a great creaking, the doors scraped open and three cloaked figures emerged, flanked by four burly men with futuristic-looking rifles. Duncan found himself surrounded by the men with guns while the cloaked figures stood calmly in front of him.

              Duncan put on a good front as he heard the rifles hum as they presumably clicked off their equivalent of safety. "Who are you? Where am I?"

              The lead hooded figure dropped his hood. It was an older, bearded man. Fatherly and decent, from an appearance perspective. He nodded, a quizzical look on his face. "You have questions. We knew that. That was never in doubt." He raised a welcoming arm to Duncan as the other cloaked figures knelt, seemingly -- hopefully -- in respect. "Come, now. Enter. Welcome to Mount Zeist."


              The strange name felt strange coming from his lips. It should have meant nothing to him and yet it somehow made perfect sense.
              Highlander: Dark Places


              • #9
                Yup yup! I remember all of this!


                • Andrew NDB
                  Andrew NDB commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I think there was a mini chapter or two that has been lost because I didn't bother to back it up in the .DOC. Nothing that can't be rewritten and finished.