The air was charged with static. Light filtered through the trees casting shadows and shapes of faraway places and people long dead. The breeze caught up the leaves; swirling shadows collided with each other, spots of light appearing where light normally never shined. A beam of stray sunlight fell on dark hair, and a hand reached up pretending to sweep it away. The light persisted through the shadows. There was laughter, and suddenly the hand was caught up in a much larger one. It was brought to the lips of the man with the dark hair. His brown eyes caught his companion’s blue eyes. She smiled with a deep blush and pulled her hand away from him.
“You sure are persistent.”
“I try.” The man responded. He smiled, then ran a finger along the woman’s soft cheek. He stopped under her chin, and pulled her closer to him. He longed to kiss her lips, to taste her.
She pulled away at the last moment, laughed. “Patience is a virtue.” Standing, she pulled him up to her, then laughed again. “We’ve got more important things to be doing right now.”
The man wrapped his arms around his companion’s torso, and pulled her close. “What do you have in mind?”
It was disconcerting how suddenly he found a blade at his throat. The woman smiled again, then her lips pressed together in a mischievous grin. “I told you, we have more important things to be doing. Or should I prove my point?” She pressed the dagger closer to his throat, forming a thin line of red blood beneath.
He let her go, then raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, fine. You win.” He watched as she put her stiletto away, then brushed the blood away from his own neck. “If you ask me though, I’d rather be here. Doing, other things.”
“That’s what makes us different.” The woman laughed, and swept past him to the door. She opened the door, and pushed outside into the smoke. Their ears were greeted with gunfire, and she ducked into the side alley, pulled out her Colt .45.
Methos followed, pulling out his own. “When I was young…” He checked his magazine. “For that matter, when you were young…”
“I was young two hundred years ago. It doesn’t matter now.” Richelle sighed, turning the safety off of her .45. She looked over to her partner. “Ready?”
Methos nodded. “As I’ll ever be.” The two simultaneously left the alley, guarding each other’s backs. Stray bullets whizzed past them. Smoke filled their nostrils, covered their progress. The couple went as carefully as they could, occasionally shooting off a round as someone revealed himself or herself to shoot at them. Only a hundred feet left. Ninety. A bullet ripped through Richelle’s arm, and she flinched, exchanged gun hands; squeezed off a round at the shooter. Eighty. Seventy. Methos covered her rear as she dashed across the open street. Sixty. Forty. Another round of gunfire came from the rooftops. A man fell as another Player ran past the couple. Twenty. Ten. A spray of bullets greeted the door as it closed; Richelle and Methos slumped against the doorpost. Brown eyes gazed upon his partner. “How’s you arm?”
“Healing.” Richelle glanced down at her shoulder. “Shoot. They ruined a perfectly good blouse.” She sighed, then frowned. “I was wondering. Where do the bullets go?”
Her companion looked at her questionably. “What do you mean?”
“When we heal, where do the bullets go?”
He shrugged. “Beats me.” Then he looked into the building. Shoppers were going about their daily routines, happily pushing carts along filled with food. The aisles were packed with food. Methos looked over to Richelle. “I hate grocery shopping.”
Besides the other shoppers, there was one like them, one that could not come in the mortal way to the store. He exchanged a glance with the couple, and went on bagging the groceries. Richelle walked past him towards the grocery carts and pulled out her list. She smiled to herself, then to her partner, his .45 already in the shopping cart.
A few moments later the grocery bagger joined them. “I was wondering when you would get here.”
“Oh, did we miss a blue light special?” Methos wondered. He hefted a loaf of bread off the shelf and into the cart.
“No,” Ryan answered. “It’s just that I was waiting to have a break.”
Richelle pushed the cart in front of her, picking up a few items on her way. “Sure, a break. I think you just want to get out of here and play the Game with us.”
Ryan glanced back to the front of the store. As if by magic the front of the room had paused. People who had been looking at magazines and candy were frozen solid. He shook his head, then continued his conversation. “If I really wanted to play the Game, do you think that I’d be bagging groceries? There are a hell of a lot of other Player parts then this one. I could be doing something adventurous, if I didn’t have a family to take care of.”
“Always thinking of that wife of yours. How sweet,” Richelle droned. He oozed all over that mortal wife of his like ketchup over a hamburger. Grocery bagging was in high need, and paid good money. Enough money to keep them both living in the lap of luxury. “But definitely not exciting.”
The third of the party who had kept quite, looking for that one particular can of soup; had stopped to pick up a newspaper that was on the floor. He frowned, reading the front-page article, then stopped the others. “Did you see this?”
Richelle frowned, glancing at what he was reading. “What is it?”
“Says here that there are protests against the Game. A whole bunch of mortals want to join in as well.”
“They’d get killed,” His partner replied. “The Game was made up to keep us out of the mortal world. To keep our fight away from those who don’t live forever.” She sighed, pushing the cart down the aisle again. “Why can they just make up their minds?”
Ryan shook his head. He had been living on the edge of the mortal and immortal worlds for quite some time now; he heard both sides of the story. “The mortals seventy-five years ago had decided to keep us out of their world, the next generation is more accepting. Businesses that are on the line are having problems with losing customers because of the protests.” The front of the store was still paused, no real customers; no real people walked through the aisles of this store. He led the market of holograms, handled a world of fake people coming and going, and occasionally a real human stepped into the store.
“Seventy-five years, huh?” Methos asked. “Doesn’t seem that long, does it?”
The only woman in the group nodded, kind of sadly, “Yes, seventy-five years living in the lap of excitement. Sure, living with holograms and an occasional real immortal breaking down your door. But I take it the mortals no longer want to control the holograms, but be them instead?”
“Says as much here,” Methos replied. “I say there are only about twelve of us left, and that it doesn’t really matter anymore. Those of us left are happy just being alive. Can’t harm mortals when we don’t even care to harm each other.”
The three nodded; their shopping finished. Ryan worked bagging groceries, letting the holograms do the checkout. He had spent fifty years or more here, doing various jobs. Letting the mortals control the customers through virtual reality programs. He had been the only one working in this store for just about the entire time. And when there were no real people moving the holograms, they froze. It was eerie, but nothing that wasn’t impossible to get used to. He finished putting the last of the groceries in the bags. “I guess I’ll see you two around then?”
“How about dinner, tonight?” Richelle said, taking her gun from the shopping cart. Sometimes it seemed that everyone was playing the Game, making shopping or any outing dangerous. Other days, it was like a ghost town, holograms frozen in the streets like statues. Most of the time it made living the Game a lonely business. Cut off from the rest of the world, with only few friends, and luckily, Methos.
Ryan glanced at his watch, seeing that it was going to be closing time soon. “Dinner?” He shrugged. “I don’t know. You know how my wife feels about coming into the Game, and she hates virtual reality…”
“If you don’t want to, just tell us,” Methos chimed in. He too had gotten ready for the trip out into the street, a bag of groceries in one arm and the Colt .45 in the other. “I’m sure we can find things to do with just the two of us.” He smiled at Richelle, but she wasn’t paying attention.
“No. I really don’t think it would be a good time tonight. I have to close up the store, and do chores…” He hung his head, kind of sad to have to lie to his friends. His wife had left him a month ago, when she had wanted to play the Game along with him, and he had said it would be a bad idea. If his friends had ever really met her, they would have noticed she was in the picture on the front page of the paper. “I’ll see you around though.”
“Sure. Okay. We better go,” Richelle said. Both her and Methos left through the door, and out into the street.
Just as sure as there had been gunfire before, there wasn’t a soul there now. It was a quiet walk, only the sound of footsteps and the rustle of grocery bags could be heard. Richelle sighed, looking back to the store they had just left. It was on the edge of the area, where mortal and immortal worlds met. That was part of the great wall that surrounded the state they lived in. A large part of Michigan had been cut off from the rest of the world, just to play the Game in. It was only what the mortal’s called a Game though. The immortal’s called it a joke. A zoo, one that kept them away from civilization, and had been the reason for the downfall of the Watchers. For the hundred years after the immortals had been revealed to the world, the Watchers had become a society that ran the Game. It was just a way of entertainment now, not a real way of life.
Richelle listened to the sound of Methos breathing; it was that quiet. During the dinner hour it got that way, when the mortals who played in this made up world got out of virtual reality and got back to their real life. For those who lived forever though, this was their real life, one they couldn’t leave. Maybe someday though. Now that the evil Immortals, those who cared only about Quickenings and such had killed each other off. Only the few that enjoyed life remained, and even they cared not to think of the Game they used to play. The Prize wasn’t important anymore. Staying alive was, staying with those you cared for, and those you loved. Unfortunately the mortals thought that immortal kind was a killer race who sought only to rule over them. Richelle and the few others left didn’t care.
Methos opened the door to their home. It was on the edge of the forest and fields that they had been before leaving for shopping. With paper bags on the counter, he started to unpack the food they had gotten for dinner. They were quiet, thinking. Wondering both what was going to come of this new turn of events. “That was his wife, you know.”
“What?” Richelle wondered. He had disrupted her thoughts.
“On the front page of the paper. Ryan’s wife. She was there in the rally picture.” He answered. For a moment he glanced at the whipped cream she was putting into the refrigerator. Hmm, that looks tasty. “I think that’s why he didn’t want to come to dinner tonight. I think something was going on with them.”
“Well,” Richelle shrugged, “If he doesn’t want to talk about it, he doesn’t have to. Do you want spaghetti for supper or steak?”
Silence a moment longer. “What ever you feel like making.”
“I thought Ryan’s wife didn’t like virtual reality.”
Both immortals turned at the strange voice. It was a hologram, holding a gun and a sword. Since technology improved so much, even holographic weapons could kill. The man didn’t look harmful though. It was a Watcher. One of the few who still controlled the Game, which watched over the immortals, sort of guardian angels without wings. He let the weapons disappear, no longer needing them for whatever purpose.
“Who are you?” Methos was concerned, frowning, holding a bundle of carrots in his hand.
The Watcher chuckled; knowing it was the first time he had revealed himself. One of the few who actually got to watch immortals anymore. “I’m sorry to pop up unexpectedly, but I have some news. Every immortal is being visited this evening.”
Richelle continued her unpacking, not worried about the visitor. She had worked with men such as these to keep the program moving, keep the truth recorded. They wouldn’t hurt the immortals, or they’d be out of good paying jobs. “What does this have to do with Ryan’s wife?”
“She’s not his wife anymore. She left him to lead the protests.”
Methos frowned. “She’s the leader of the protests?”
“The leader who is trying to destroy the Game. Longing to get rid of us all.” The Watcher continued.
“It’s like Horton is back again,” Methos mumbled. “So what’s going to happen?”
For a moment, the only sound was Richelle working at making supper. The meat frying in the pan and the burners under the water boiling. Then the Watcher spoke in answer. “We want to kill you all off.”
“What?” The two said in unison.
The Watcher shook his head against their terror. He laughed a second, glad that he had gotten the response he had been expecting. Then he turned serious. “Kill you off in only a matter of speaking. The protestors and everyone else in the world will think you’re dead. You’ll escape from here, lay low a hundred years, go on with your lives.”
“So you’re saying we’ll be getting out of the hell if we go along with you?” Methos wondered. He looked over to Richelle who looked interested in the idea. They had both lived outside of this made up Game, and wanted back to the life of secrecy. “What’s the catch?”
Richelle worked on her meal, but still paid close attention to the whole conversation. “Yes. Besides, what’s in it for you?”
The Watcher was silent a moment, still, almost paused. It was only a second later that he sprang to life, and continued his explanation. “You’ll have to go along with the ploy. It will take time, planning, and you’ll have to follow every direction we give you. What is in it for us is that we’ll still know where you are. Look,” the Watcher turned, directing their attention to the view screen. “This will be a whole new beginning for everyone, not just you. The Watchers will be able to start over too. Do you think we’ve enjoyed having to be under constant surveillance as well as you?”
“So how are you planning this?” Methos wondered.
“The cameras are going to be rolling. It will be shown all over the world. Now, are you willing to help us or not?”
Richelle nodded, she wanted out. She wanted to live her life in secret as she had done a hundred years before the whole world had changed. “I’ll do it.”
Methos nodded in agreement. “Okay. Sure beats staying here.”
The Watcher assigned to him backed away, a little apprehensive, even though Ryan couldn’t harm him. “But all the others have agreed to go. We must have everyone’s agreement to do this.” He suddenly wished he hadn’t been expected to talk Ryan LaPorte into this scheme. This particular Immortal had had it hard everywhere but in the Game zone and had been happy but for a few problems. “Don’t you wish to get your wife off your back?”
“Get out!” Ryan yelled. He was overcome by the urge to throw something. “Don’t even talk about my wife!”
The Watcher backed away, then suddenly disappeared. Ryan looked to where he had just been, then slumped down on his couch. He looked around his apartment, filled with all of the memories of the happy days he had had. He had just wanted to keep his wife safe, didn’t want anything to happen to her like his last wife. Sarah… Those had killed her outside of the Game. She had been killed because she was an Immortal, just because she could live forever! If they had taken him instead… But they hadn’t, and now he tried to live a happy life, in memorial of the wife he had lost. And the new one he had tried to keep safe.
The head toppled to the floor with the body. The deed had been done, and as blood spilled onto the ground, the Quickening arose. A dim light at first, but it proceeded to become brighter, more intensifying. The lightning pursued, and the thunder pounded into every being whether man or beast. The sky suddenly filled with clouds, blocking out the stars, and then came the cold rain that drenched hearts and souls; and yet still the lightning came. A flash of the lightning, circuits crackled and spat sparks. Car hoods exploded outwards, windows burst as if a bomb had been set off. Terrifyingly, the crowd ran for cover as the electricity continued to build.
There was a center to all this madness, a place where a lone figure lie screaming for its mortality. Bound in chains, though heedless to them as they shattered into pieces. There was no escape, even as the guards fled and the people screamed. But the lightning continued, and it was all on tape. Televisions exploded in people’s homes hundreds of miles away. Panic as the power stations were drained by the power and lightning that was going into this sad creature on stage.
And it was done.
The sound left over was that of the tears of the figure on stage, and the distant sounds of alarms. But the tears were louder, and penetrated those left over to Watch. A particular figure slowly climbed up onto the stage, hair wild and wet. Wetness on her face was not of the rain, but the tears for what had been done.
She laid a hand on the figure’s back. “It’s over.”
“No, it will never be over.” An eagle’s sharp vision peered out of fingers that were foreign. He knew he was right, the Quickening had given him that thought, the ultimate knowledge of things to come.
A hand lay down upon Sarah’s shoulder, urging her to get up. “You’re going to have to come with us, Miss.”
It was a police force that should have been for a crowd of men, but these were only to take Ryan back to his cell. The others took Sarah into custody as well. They would not give up the chance to take in another Immortal if she truly was one.
Ryan saw, but only halfheartedly that nothing could be done for his wife. Though, there was still no way for those detectives to know that she was Immortal unless they killed her. She had not yet gone through her first death, and didn’t even know of her future Immortality. The worst punishment they could afflict on her would be to show that her wounds would not heal immediately, and then they would have to let her go.
His future was not as certain. The proof of his Immortality was certain, but whether they would study him further, or kill him, he didn’t know. In the van with six policemen, he prayed that his friends would find a way to save his wife, if not him. Maybe even that they would stay safe from the same fate as he.
Ryan stood then, after remembering the past events that had happened so long ago, but seemed only yesterday. He had been captured, had been tortured, had been forced to take the Quickening of a friend, but he had survived. Why had I survived? Why was it me that lasted through the killing and the headhunting? Why hadn’t been Sarah?
“I can’t understand why Ryan wouldn’t want to leave here. Why wouldn’t he choose to leave this life behind and start over?” Richelle looked over to the man beside her, almost like he wasn’t there. “We had tried so hard to free him, so hard to free Sarah, but now that we have another chance, he just doesn’t want to bother?”
A sigh issued out of the oldest Immortal, lying back in the grass next to her. “Everyone has secrets they keep, perhaps his secrets lie deeper then we thought. There must be something more to what is bugging him but that his wife is out there wanting in.”
“Maybe.” More minutes passed, the stars shifted in the heavens, a meteor fell through the atmosphere. “I wish I knew what he was thinking. Why he doesn’t think about how we feel. I mean,” she sat up, looking into the face of Methos. “We joined the Watchers, ended up saving all of our lives, saving his too. Now that he has a chance to save us, he won’t take it!”
Somewhere below the city, in the tunnels and sewer systems, there was movement. It was a movement against those humans that wanted to kill the Immortals. There was a small following of mortals, Watchers that had protected the secrets for years, and another group of Immortals who had hidden themselves in time. Ten had managed to hide themselves from the patrols, and the Watchers were struggling to keep them safe.
It had been hard, some Immortals had been picked out to be traitors, ones who thought that they’d live if they ratted out the other Immortals. They were the first to die. Others managed to survive the patrols by killing all of the humans they came across. Eventually even they were captured. Ryan LaPorte had been the first Immortal taken by the patrols, the first to be captured after the news of Immortality had been spread over the world.
There was a computer disc. A compact disc that had been wedged between old books in an antique bookstore. It had a collection of Immortals and Watchers. The Watchers had been long since dead, but the Immortals still existed, and some were in the public eye everyday. It had been spread by some unknown source, one that would always remain a mystery, because the underground group had searched far and wide for it. When it had hit the news stations, the worldwide web, even the view screens, the world was blasted with the news that there were Immortals among them.
As soon as the first beheading had been reported, they searched out the killer. It was Ryan, taking another Immortal’s head only in self-defense. And he had been captured. Then the first to try to save him was captured as well. Her name was Cassandra. She had fought hard and long with the underground to try and save him, but in the end, it was her head that was cut from her shoulders in front of a live audience. All to show the world that Immortals did exist, and every television screen in the world showed the Quickening go into Ryan. Then the world knew, and feared, the Immortals.
It was a fact that human beings would destroy whatever they did not understand.
“Sarah’s been taken.” It was Duncan MacLeod. He had come in with a rush, barely missing the chair that he hurtled over to tell everyone the news. He had been there in the crowd, and had soon disappeared with the Watchers who had been with him when it was over.
Richelle nodded, looking over to the older Immortal. “I know. I saw it on the view screen.”
“If they find out that she’s Immortal, she’ll be dead,” Connor added. He had been sitting behind one of the many rows of computer screens, tapping away for any information he could find on the prison system Ryan had been taken to.
“Then why hasn’t Ryan been killed?” Richelle wondered. She was tired of sitting around, tired of waiting for them to be all killed off one by one.
“They need him,” Duncan said simply.
Connor laughed his staccato laugh, and Richelle turned on him. “What’s so funny?”
“I got it. I’ve got the plans for the prison. We can get them out, both of them,” the elder Highlander reported.
“Thank God,” someone said in the back of the room. Others murmured their agreements. It was a moment later that someone from deeper in the tunnels came running. It was one of the Watchers.
“Now we’ve got a way to get around the patrols!” Unlike Duncan, he tripped up on a chair he was trying to jump over. On his face on the floor, he handed up to Richelle the magic potion they had been working on for over a year. “It’s a petroleum based, silicate that keeps a cut area from healing back immediately,” the man continued as he stood up.
Duncan came over, taking the vial, “Let’s test it shall we?” He uncorked the potion, taking a finger into it, then spreading the mixture over the back of his hand. Carefully corking the vial again, he handed back to Richelle. Connor had taken the time to come over, and handed his kinsman a knife. Duncan swiped it over his hand with practiced ease, and the room held its breath.
Five minutes passed, and the wound did not heal up. “See, I told you it would work!”
“Yeah, but why didn’t you tell me it hurt so much?” Duncan rubbed at the wound, pulling up unexpectedly a thin layer of plastic that once gone, allowed the wound to heal. “Yes. Now, who is going to go with me?”
And so there was a group that went to save Ryan and Sarah. It had saved Ryan, but it had killed Sarah. The life of the Immortals had been changed forever. Soon the Watchers came forward with their last plan, a plan to save Immortals everywhere.
Methos put an arm around Richelle, he felt for her, but couldn’t say anything but, “Maybe that secret that Ryan has hidden will come forward. Maybe we’ll get out of here. Keep your chin up. We’ll get through this, just like we got through everything else.
The Watchers had assembled, they sat around a table in a dark room, no view screens, no big brothers. There were only a dozen of them left, each watching one Immortal, the only ones that were left in the world. One on the end, a particular man who had spoken to Duncan MacLeod, lifted his head. “And how are we supposed to do that, sir?”
The Watcher, the oldest and wisest of them all, shook his head stiffly, amazed at his own forgetfulness at first. “We forgot one thing, ladies and gentlemen. One rule; there can be only one.”
It was amazing how fast the rest of the Watchers nodded in agreement. The Watcher that was in charge of Ryan looked horrified. “But if we claim that he is the last of them, then they’ll kill him for sure.”
“That will be Ryan’s choice, son. If he chooses to stay here, then he’ll lose. Or he’ll be able to escape with the rest of them.”
All of the Watchers nodded agreement, then slowly, one after another, put their VR goggles back on. Each of them was going to talk to the Immortals. Only the last Watcher, the oldest, didn’t bother. He didn’t have to. Out of all of the Immortals that lived still, his Immortal had a companion, a friend who she always stayed with. His Watcher would tell them. Besides, she didn’t even know he still lived. Lived to see that his sister would escape the hell he had helped send her to.
There were footsteps down the hallway, soft plodding of bare feet along the floor. After a moment in the dark room, Methos sat down on the couch next to her. He put his arm around her shoulder, letting her head lean onto his chest. She sighed, when she didn’t sleep, neither did he. “I’m sorry to keep you awake.”
“I know you’re thinking about Ryan. I bet we all are,” Methos replied. He brushed his hand over her hair, then leaned back on the couch, taking her with him. “But I’ve told you already, we’ve got other things to worry about. Ryan’s on his own now, he’ll have to decide. We’ve just got to worry about escaping ourselves. The time is running out. Soon we won’t be able to leave, and the protestors will kill us.”
Richelle nodded, closing her eyes, feeling the breathing of the man next to her. “It’s just that I’ve known Ryan since we were children, before we were Immortal. It wouldn’t seem right if he didn’t survive.” She took a deep breath, slowly relaxing.
“I’m pretty sure he will,” Methos said simply. He closed his arms around Richelle, and closed his eyes as well. “Just imagine, if he got out of the prison, then he can get out of this too.”
Conner MacLeod lead the three others through the systems, knowing the way by heart already. He had pulled up the plans, set forth the maneuvers, and was leading his rag-tag band through the mazes. It was when suddenly they felt the presence of another Immortal that they turned around, looking for someone else. There wasn’t anyone there though. The Highlander pointed up to the manhole cover far above their heads. “It could be anyone. I’m hoping for either Ryan or Sarah.”
Amanda and Richelle exchanged glances; they knew what they were to do. The team would split up, looking for their friends. Connor and Methos would go further down until they felt another Immortal. They nodded to the two women and disappeared down the wet tunnel. Amanda shrugged, “After you.”
“Gladly, anything to get out of this cold water.” Richelle struggled up the ladder, pushing with all her might at the top, and managed to slowly and quietly open the manhole. With a slow ease, she pushed her way up into the small prison, turning to look for the Immortal that was in there.
Amanda followed after her, and both were relieved to find a startled Sarah. Richelle bit her lip, realizing suddenly that she hadn’t been Immortal when she had been taken there. Now she was. “Are you okay?”
Sarah turned, nodded silently. “What’s happening?”
“We’re getting you out of here,” Amanda said, and extended a hand for her to take. Richelle was already back at the manhole, ready to climb down to freedom. Suddenly the alarms started ringing, and yells from below. Amanda helped her close the manhole again. “I knew this was too easy.”
Richelle rushed to the door; “Can you open this?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t think I would have to.” Amanda scrambled, trying to open the thick iron doors. Richelle turned back towards Sarah, glancing nervously down towards the floor where they had come. Still the sirens were blaring, and Richelle looked to Amanda.
“How’s it coming?”
Amanda didn’t pause in her work; “I’m going as fast as I can. But with all this noise, I’m wondering whether it would be safer to be on this side of the door after all.”
Sarah looked worried. “What about Ryan? Is anyone trying to save him?”
Richelle set a hand on her shoulder, cringed as a shot fired up from the floor. They crouched closer to the door with Amanda. “Don’t worry Sarah, Connor and Methos are helping him. We’ve got to get you out of here though.” She turned to look as Amanda finished with the lock.
“Got it! Let’s get out of here!”
Sirens blaring, gunshots firing, and people shouting bombarded their ears. Somehow somewhere, they knew that Ryan and the others would be okay. They ran, heedless of the guards. There was a feeling though, somewhere, it caused Richelle to stop, watching as Amanda and Sarah ran on. “They’re here.”
Amanda turned, “Come on Richelle! We’ve got to get out of here!”
“Go without me, I’ve got to help the others who are trapped!”
Sarah stopped, “We can’t leave without the them. They’ll die!”
“Let’s go,” Amanda urged. Though, when Sarah turned to help Richelle open the iron door, she sighed, and went back to help as well. “Fine, but just these, we can’t save all of the Immortals who are here.”
For another moment he sat, then looked up through his fingers towards the view screen. “Tell me there’s got to be another way. Tell me that you will stop this madness.”
The woman on the view screen shook her head, her eyes cold and unmoving. “Ryan, you chose your fate long ago.” She disappeared from the screen but Ryan just stared after his wife. Sarah had been there for him, had helped save his life, but his wife now cared only for herself.
“The women are trying to save your heads, come on!” Amanda yelled at the three men, shaking her head as they followed almost reluctantly.
Sarah spotted her husband, and even though he was surprised, she jumped into his arms. “Thank goodness you’re okay.”
Ryan LaPorte smiled, then became serious. “We’ve got to get out of here.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying all along,” Richelle added, then turned to run. She was off down the hall with Methos, Connor, and Amanda. Leaving the two behind to escape from capture.
There was someone else there, someone that no one expected. As Ryan and Sarah ran for their lives, they met up with that someone, who grabbed Sarah from behind and dragged her away screaming and kicking. “Ryan, help!”
Ryan was there, taking the pistol that had been handed him only moments before, but he was running out of bullets. “Hold it right there.”
The man turned, holding Sarah between him and a bullet. “No chance.”
“Ryan, go. Save yourself. I’ll be okay.” Sarah looked at him pleading, hoping for him to be okay.
LaPorte had other plans, he steeled himself. “No. You should know as well as me, from this range I could shoot right through her and kill you. And she won’t die.”
“You’re right,” the man nodded. “But the others won’t let you both go. You kill me, while you’re waiting for her to revive, the others will capture you both.”
It was a chance Ryan was willing to take, but in his wife’s eyes, she looked pleadingly at him. “Ryan, go! I’ll be okay.”
Ryan shook his head; “I can’t let you be killed.”
“She won’t be killed, not if you let me live,” the man said, pulling Sarah step by step back towards a turn in the hallways. He laughed, “Come with me, Toots.”
Sarah took one last look at her husband as she was pulled around the corner. “Go.”
Duncan MacLeod watched as Amanda leaned over, packing the few belongings that she could take with her. He diverted his eyes when she noticed what he was doing, then shook his head. “This doesn’t seem right.”
“It isn’t,” Amanda agreed.
It was then that the Watchers showed up, stiffly at first as the holograms booted up, and became animated as the actual people took control. The first one saw the way Amanda was leaning over and didn’t say a word, until the second shoved him in the ribs, and they both got to the task. “We are supposed to inform you that everyone is ready when you are.”
Duncan nodded, “We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.” He stood, “The plans still haven’t changed?”
It had been a long time, but as he stood there in the grocery store it was starting to come back. Strolling down the aisles, wondering what he would say to the Immortal, he picked up a can of soup. Funny how chicken noodle always helped when someone was sick. Maybe it would help now. He went towards the checkout, old bones forgotten in this made-up realm. The oldest Watcher looked just like he did two hundred years ago, and might as well have felt the same.
At first the Immortal grocery bagger didn’t look at him, but as the single can of soup rolled towards him, the Watcher sighed. “I was hoping that this would make you feel better.”
Ryan LaPorte looked up at the hologram, only a second later recognizing the almost forgotten face. “Andy?”
Andrew Scott nodded, leaning against the checkout and watching as the other holograms disappeared. It was only he and the Immortal now. It could have been two hundred years ago, when Ryan had gotten his first bagging job after he had moved away to a little town called Atlanta. Time was frozen until Ryan suddenly placed the can into a bag, and then handed it to the Watcher. “I’m not falling for any of your Watcher tricks. I know it isn’t Andy. He’s been dead over a hundred years.”
The younger hologram image pealed away, leaving only the real Andrew as he sighed, setting the bag down onto the counter. “It’s me, Ryan.”
Ryan turned, “Go away. You’re holding up the line.” He wasn’t really, but Ryan had seen many other tricks that the Watchers and the Immortals had tried to get him to leave. This one wasn’t going to work either.
“Ryan, ask me anything, it’s really me.” Andy glanced at his old friend, “Think it over, what did I always say? That I’d get you guys out of this after I had gotten you in.”
“Andy is dead. He wasn’t Immortal, just a plain old Watcher. Now leave me alone.”
Andy sighed again, feeling his age once again, but not willing to give up. “Remember the wedding? How I gave you that sword right before you and Sarah left for the honeymoon? No one knew that but you and me.”
Unwilling to believe the hologram, Ryan turned, staring off into the city streets past the windows. The world was empty now; no one came to the Game anymore. The mortals were on the other side fighting to come in, the Immortals fighting to get out. “If you really are Andy, then why are you here now? Why aren’t you getting ready to free the others?”
“I pledged to free all of the Immortals, Ryan. Even you. Even Sarah.” He watched as the Immortal turned suddenly at the name of his wife. “And I’ll manage to do it, all of it.”
LaPorte frowned, “You know about Sarah, don’t you? You know about everything?”
The oldest Watcher nodded. “Yes, I do. You do know that there is another way too, don’t you?”
“Yes,” he said quietly. “I know.”
“Then you know that it’s your choice, not mine, not the Immortals or anyone else,” Andy said simply. He turned then, ready to leave the imaginary world and leave Ryan to his decisions.
“Does Richelle know?”
Andy didn’t turn, “No, she doesn’t. Doesn’t know any of it. That is one of your choices.” Then he was gone, his job done; his task complete. The oldest Watcher took off his visor and stood up, ready to go home.
Ms. Christopher, her black hair tied back into a tight band, and brown eyes sparkling, pulled the mike towards her. “We are trying to get this world back for ourselves, for the human beings! The Game has become some huge publicity stunt, and we plan to get it open for anyone, not just these Immortals as they call themselves. If they want to keep such a world to themselves, then they deserve to die, just like our ancestors decided years ago.”
The reporter seemed flustered, “But a hundred years ago the Immortals were decidedly not a threat to the rest of us. They had been placed in the Game to keep away from harming any human beings. Are you saying that they should be killed for keeping away from us?”
The woman frowned, and Ms. Christopher nodded. “They should be killed for the abominations they are. Destroyed before they get out and destroy us.”
“For over fifty years the Immortals haven’t even killed each other, why do you feel that they would kill us?”
“They will if they get out. So I say we kill before we get killed!” The leader of Freedom lifted her fist into the air as the others cheered in agreement. There would be no more words spoken to the media.
The reporter turned to the camera, annoyed. “You’ve heard it here folks, the protestors mean to kill off the Immortals in fear of themselves being killed. Will it happen, are the Immortals as bloodthirsty as Ms. Christopher claims, or are they just hiding in the Game in fear from being killed? You make the call. For Channel One news, this is Claire Simons, back to you in the newsroom.” She watched as the cameraman pulled the camera from his shoulder. Then watched as the protestors disappeared towards the Game, and came over to the man that was with her. “I can’t believe her. Kill or be killed my...”
The cameraman shook his head, “Twisted world we live in, huh? I bet just a year ago if this had sprung up Ms. Christopher would have been on the other side of this debate.”
Claire Simons sighed, “Yeah, her being with the Watchers and everything once.” She started winding the cord of her mike up. “I was just looking up something the other day. Jack, did you know that something like this had happened back in the nineteen ninety’s? There was this guy named Horton who had been a Watcher until he tried to kill off the Immortals for fear they’d kill him.”
Jack shrugged, “Funny, they were probably more worried that he would kill them, like they are now.”
The time came though. No longer could the police and government keep the protestors from the Game. They came in droves, driving through all the doors and openings through the great wall that surrounded the place where the Immortals lived. Shouts and orders came that anyone who found an Immortal could kill them, if they could find them.
Somehow the streets and houses were empty; no signs remained where they might be. Humans patrolled the streets, searching for any clue. “They’re gone.” It was one of the Watchers who had joined Freedom. He came up to Ms. Christopher as a report agent. “No signs remain of them. Nothing.”
“They can’t be gone!” She replied, and took a hold of the man’s collar. “Look again! They can’t leave here.”
The Watcher looked spooked, thinking that she’d kill him, but suddenly he was down on the ground, scrambling away. “Yes, of course. We’ll look until we find every single one. Don’t you worry!” As he ran away he smiled, glad to do his part to foul the leader’s plans. He had found the Immortals, one of them anyway, but no one would know that, because he wasn’t talking.
“I thought he wasn’t going to do this,” Connor MacLeod replied. He leaned back in the chair he was sitting in, listening to the view screen, and flipping the channels as they went to commercials. After a moment he turned to the Watchers, who were busy still working their plans. “I said, I thought Ryan wasn’t going to escape with us.”
One of the Watchers shrugged, “We all did. He’s gone though, off the map.”
A silent Immortal had been going through the surveillance feeds for the last few hours. “He’s not gone, I know where he is.”
Methos turned to her, wondering what Richelle was talking about. “What do you mean? Have you found him on the surveillance cameras?”
“No, I haven’t found him,” she sighed. “But I do know where he is. At least where he would be.”
The elder Highlander looked over to them, “Please inspire us with your wisdom.”
Richelle looked at all of the Immortals that were there. Duncan MacLeod and Amanda were standing against the far wall talking. An Immortal named Kage was going over the reports with the Watchers. Four other Immortals, their names escaped her, were playing poker at a table. Methos and Connor were watching her with questionable expressions. They were the only ones remaining but Ryan and an Immortal who had been found dead just that morning. LaPorte had done it, setting the whole thing off, finally pushing Freedom over the edge to invade. “I’ll go.”
Methos shook his head, “Not now, it’s too late.”
“Come with me then. We’ve got to get to him before they do, you know that,” Richelle said simply and stood to go to where Ryan would be. Methos followed reluctantly and the others watched silently as they left.
The streets were quite again, just like the day they had come back from the grocery store. Somewhere there were protestors who would come to kill them, but both Immortals were heedless of that. All that was going through their minds now was what was going to happen, and all of the plans that had been laid out to prevent anything disastrous.
Richelle stopped in front of the one place that she knew Ryan would be. She could feel him in there, just as she could feel Methos next to her. The older Immortal just cocked his head to the side. “He’s in the video store?”
His companion shrugged, “It was his most favorite place besides the Chinese place that used to be here. When we were kids, before becoming Immortal, he had been a movie buff. It was in this store that he met Sarah. Every single day you could find him and Sarah browsing through the action movies. He said once that he’d move in if they’d let him.”
Methos chuckled, and followed her through the chiming door through the antique videos. He remembered when they had officially declared VCRs antique. Video stores were expensive places to go once the view screens went in. The view screens took over the Internet, videos, and even many televisions. It was a system that could bring anything up at a moment’s notice, whatever information or movie, or television show. To be back in an ancient store that still had rows of the plastic movie devices was like stepping back in time.
Ryan sat in a back corner, just looking at a video box. He glanced up to Richelle but then looked back to the box. “Do you remember when we first watched this movie? In the theater up North?”
Methos wandered away to look in the sci-fi movies as Richelle sat down next to her friend. He could here her reply, “I sure do. You loved the special effects and the action. I remember when you moved up North and the video store there in town didn’t even carry it. Man, you got so ticked off.”
Ryan nodded, “Then, when I became an Immortal, the movie didn’t matter anymore. None of it really mattered anymore.” He placed the box back on the shelf. “Science fiction doesn’t mean much when you could be one of the main characters. Suddenly I couldn’t die, and it was like I was some character in a story you wrote.”
Richelle was silent, thinking. She came up with her words, and spilled them forth. “I’ll never be able to write a happy ending on this story if you don’t come with us, Ryan.”
Methos looked away from the two talking. He really shouldn’t have been over-hearing this. Turning, he looked down to the movie that interested him. Picking up the box he read the title. Highlander: The Quest for Connor. It wasn’t a movie in the sci-fi, but in the non-fiction section. He chuckled, remembering how he helped the writers put the film together. At that time they had thought it was a good story, little did they know it was all truth!
LaPorte suddenly stood, knocking boxes off the shelves. Methos looked up as Richelle followed her friend to her feet. “You don’t know anything, Richelle.”
“Tell me then,” she said to his outburst.
Ryan paced the floor towards the exit, then turned, knocking more boxes to the floor. Videotapes scattered over the floor; black tape skittered out of the broken cases. “It’s my decision now! Either I give up my life, or I turn in Sarah. Kill or be killed! Even your brother knows that!”
Richelle frowned, “What are you talking about?”
“He’s saying that I’m alive,” Sarah Christopher said, stepping into the store. Taking measures into her own hands finally, the leader of the protestors. Though black hair and dark eyes now, it was still Sarah, the Immortal that had survived by becoming mortal again, if only by lies and deception. She stepped into the video store casually, a sword over her shoulder and a Beretta in her hand. “And he has the choice whether he wants to turn me in or let himself become the last one.”
“Sarah?” Richelle frowned, now seeing a ghost. “But you can’t...”
Methos came to her side, “I guess she is. I always wondered why they never had an official report.”
“Finding the right people to side with has its privileges. Your brother did me a wonderful favor,” Sarah continued.
Richelle pulled next to Methos, “Andy? What did he do?”
“Saved my life, set me free and let me start over.” She came further into the store now, pulling the saber from her shoulder. “The others will be here soon.”
Pulling his own sword out, Methos stood in front of Richelle. “Maybe we should leave these two alone.”
Sarah shook her head, hefting the Beretta towards Methos, “You’re not going anywhere. I can’t let a Quickening tip off that I’m Immortal.”
Richelle watched as Sarah lowered the gun in her hand. When Ryan had first met Sarah, she was in the Police Academy, learning about every kind of weapon known to man, and how to use them well. Methos must have known it as well, because even though she was holding the Beretta with her left hand, he stayed well enough back. A moment passed, no one saying a word. Pressing up against Methos, Richelle reached for his hand, worried what would happen. Maybe I really should have left this all up to Ryan. Methos squeezed her hand but didn’t move otherwise.
The sound of a sword being unsheathed was the break in the silence. Ryan had drawn his katana, a blade he had used for two hundred years, one that had been given to him by the younger Highlander. His brows furrowed as he stepped towards Sarah. “Let’s finish this ourselves, Sarah. No need to drag them into our fight.”
Ryan’s ex-wife didn’t look like she would agree, but as she placed the Beretta back into her jacket, she said, “They did help save me once, and I suppose I owe them that.” She turned to Methos and Richelle, “You may have a head start, but I don’t see that it will do you any good.”
With those words the couple took their leave, out into the silent streets and away from the video store. Richelle stopped as they reached the alley, “We can’t just leave him there.”
Methos pulled her along, “He’s playing the real Game now, he’s on his own.”
Sarah lifted the sword from her shoulder, made a pass towards the video shelves sending the plastic cases splattering across the floor. “There can be only one.” She pulled the saber back through the air, coming much too close to Ryan. He jumped back, waiting for her to come for him again. They both knew who was the better fighter, but there was no hate in Ryan to do so, not yet.
The hate was in Sarah, a lusty woman who came for Ryan with all the anger she had held for years. Again she swept the sword towards Ryan, not allowing it yet to connect. To the right, back to the left, and Ryan jumped back, sending more videos to the floor. He glanced down, cringed, finding he had ruined the last remaining videotape of Starship Troopers in the world. Sighing, he stepped over it, to the right, again finding Sarah’s saber coming near him. Ducking, Ryan watched as her blade found a home in the shelves.
“I loved you,” Ryan said quietly, watching her pull the saber from the wood. She scowled, watching every step that Ryan made back towards the door. She made no word, only plunged the sword in his direction. It was caught by Ryan’s katana and blocked. “By the time we had planned another rescue party we all heard that you were dead!”
Working his way towards the comedy section, he watched his wife still coming towards him, dark and steady. Her silence annoyed him, making the wait between blocks almost unbearable. Sarah came again, this time forgetting the sword and pushing the video shelves over, colored boxes spilled across the floor, but Ryan managed to get away. “Speak, damn you! I told you I loved you. I love you still,” Ryan watched his wife stop, turn her attention to the visitors coming through the door.
Ryan turned too late as a bullet burst through his body, and he slumped to the floor. Blood gurgling up out of his throat, he tried to speak, but nothing came. The only thing he saw was Sarah coming towards him with her sword, and then all went black.
Jack put down his camera, “You know we can’t show the rest.”
“I know,” Claire said. She was watching as the three Immortals disappeared into armored trucks and were driven away. “They’ve got Ryan LaPorte, Methos and Richelle Scott. Did you know I worked with those three when I was working with the Watchers? They wouldn’t have harmed a soul, and now they’re going to die for no reason.”
Her partner nodded, “I know. But there’s nothing we can do.”
Startling it was how a Watcher appeared beside the news van. “There is something you can do.”
Jack and Claire looked at the Watcher, glanced around to see no one around, and walked over to the man. “What can we do?”
The Watcher smiled, “Do you still have the old tapes from some of the original Quickenings?”
“Yes,” Jack answered.
“Collect them up, and meet me at the public stage in ten minutes. We’ve got to hurry. I’ll see you there,” then the Watcher was gone. Jack and Claire got to work, ready to do their part.
Richelle shook her head, “I’m sorry.”
It was a third gasp that brought Richelle’s attention to the left, and she saw as Ryan sat up in his own cage. He looked around, then settled back against the bars. “Why didn’t she just kill me and get it over with?”
Methos knew the answer immediately. “The other protestors would have found out about her Immortality. I woke up an hour ago, as they were hauling us out of the trucks. We’re back at the public stage.”
“They’re going to kill us off on television? In front of everyone?” Richelle moaned. She had known there had been plans to fake their deaths, but it wasn’t supposed to go off like this.
The man to her right moved in his cage. “I’m guessing that Sarah is planning on making it another spectacle as before.”
Ryan was the next to move, but not being able to stand he pounded the floor. “I will not take another Quickening! Whoever is out there, kill me now and get it over with! Kill me!” He pounded the bars, rattled the cage, then settled to watch his bloody hands heal again before starting his ravings again.
Richelle found Methos’s hand on her shoulder as he reached through the bars. She placed her hand on his, and shivered. “There’s another one.”
It was a tall figure, crouching low in the darkness, and making slow progress towards their cages. After a moment the figure came close enough to Methos and Richelle to whisper, “Are you okay?”
“Duncan,” Methos said quietly, “Didn’t think I’d ever be so glad to see you.”
Richelle nodded in the darkness, “Are you going to get us out of here?”
For a moment the Highlander was silent, as he scanned the room. “No, not yet. It’s too dangerous. Where are the others?”
There in the darkness, behind the cold iron bars, Ryan stopped his ranting and fell silent. He had heard what Duncan had said, and soon asked the question that was on all of their minds. “What others?”
“They captured three more after you.” MacLeod scanned the room again, but shook his head sadly. “No one knows where they were taken. We think they’ve already been killed.”
“Oh no,” Richelle whispered. She squeezed Methos’s hand, then crawled closer to MacLeod. “Amanda, Connor?”
Duncan sighed, “No, they’re okay. But I’ve got to go before they catch me as well.” He left without another word, disappearing into the shadows. There were only three again, waiting to see what the future held.
Sarah Christopher, as now she called herself, was the figure who walked among these screens now. Once she had been Sarah LaPorte, proud to hold the name of her husband, Ryan. It didn’t matter anymore now. All that mattered was that she would be the last. She would become the last Immortal and control the whole world before any of the mortals even realized it. Laughing, she passed the screen that still showed the bloodstained floor she had left a few hours before. Three Immortals bound had looked up to her with eyes of fear. The mortals that had captured them were no where to be found. No, they did not witness what Sarah did to those three.
“Only nine left, four captured. Five that must still be found,” she said to herself, walking now towards the television screen that held the four that were bound in cages. Sarah had watched only minutes before as Duncan MacLeod had come and gone. A moment later MacLeod had been captured as well. Had the younger Highlander known of the cameras he might never have been captured, but his own visit had caused him to be captured.
A sudden ringing caused Sarah to jump, then pull out her cell phone and bring it up to her ear. “Yes?”
The voice on the other line trembled, “Ms. Christopher? The news media is requesting the times for the killings. They want to have time to set up the cameras.”
The leader of Freedom sighed, “There will be no one in attendance to these Quickenings, Mathew. Tell the media they may set up cameras, but no one be there operating them.” She paused a moment, “The event will be tomorrow at seven.”
“Very good,” Mathew replied, then hung up the phone. He shivered, feeling dirty all of a sudden. He turned to Claire Simons who was sitting across from him. “She says seven tomorrow. But there isn’t to be anyone there in attendance.”
Claire smiled, “That’s definitely good news. Thank you, Matt.” She stood and walked out to talk to Jack and the Watcher who had met them at the public stage. “Everything’s working to plan. Ms. Christopher doesn’t even realize she’s helping us out a ton with this.”
“Digging her own grave, eh?” Jack replied, and smiled like he hadn’t in a long time.
The other Immortal, the elder Highlander, just shook his head. He watched as Amanda started to make a path in the floor from her pacing. It was about an inch deep. The same things were going over in his own mind. How had three Immortals disappeared so suddenly?
Easiest place to come and go from the Game was the grocery store. The aisles were empty, food and boxes gone and forgotten. No holograms or Immortals roamed the walkways; shopping carts left turned on their sides. The cash registers had been broken into, the money gone into some protestor’s pockets. Any food that remained was spoiled and rotting. Where once Ryan LaPorte had patrolled his store, not a soul remained.
Only now, there were five who were desperate to get out, stepping quietly through the deserted aisles. In a moment of peace, now that the cameras were diverted, they could take count. No longer were there five though, only four. One of them had trailed behind, or perhaps had been captured. Connor shook his head silently, “Let’s get out of here.”
No one guarded the back door; at least that’s what they thought. Instead, the cameras being moved had drawn attention to the store, where in the darkness two men waited. Soon out the door, another Immortal disappeared, lagging behind, not being able to call out as a silent bullet went through his heart.
But now the remaining three had become free, free for one more to be captured, in a struggle that was so short it was never heard. If no one is around to hear you scream, did you really scream at all?
Jack shrugged, “At least if there had been any other television stations in the United States.”
“You have a point,” Claire replied almost sadly. Then they got down to work. Jack had been splicing and cutting, working through the old Quickenings to portray the faces of those left captured. There was only one fact that remained, “Who’s going to be the last one?”
Jack shrugged. “That Watcher said he’d tell us as soon as he knew. We’ll watch what’s actually going on though, because we might have to show the true ending to this story.”
Claire nodded, sitting down in a chair with her head between her hands. She watched as Jack did the last touch-ups on the tapes. “I just hope it really isn’t going to Ryan, you know. It just wouldn’t be fair that the handsome and daring star get whacked at the end.”
For a moment the cameraman didn’t even respond, then he looked up at Claire. “You have a crush on Ryan?”
“Who doesn’t?” She replied.
Fed up by Amanda, Connor MacLeod didn’t respond. He had been listening to her for the last twenty-four hours and had finally decided why Duncan had never married her. She was too damn annoying to be with for an extended amount of time. Filling the magazines with bullets, he rubbed the sweat from his forehead, and slid the final filled magazine into his gun with a click. “Here, take this.”
Amanda took the weapon he proffered her, and slid it into her belt. “Two Immortals against fifty mortals with bad attitudes. Do you really think this is fair?”
Connor sighed, “I think the odds are good.”
The Highlander nodded, “Yes, really. Besides, what wouldn’t you rather have court-side seats then watch the show on television?”
Finally Amanda didn’t reply, her eyes on the reporter as she came back on the screen. “As promised, Ms. Christopher says that the show will start at exactly seven P.M., eight Central. As we wait, a special presentation of the Quickening that started it all, over a hundred years ago.” The show flipped suddenly to the same stage, so long ago, where Ryan was being led up the stairs. A woman, pale faced, with short dark hair, was bound helplessly to a cutting block. She cringed as the blade that would take her head from her body was sharpened.
Amanda turned from the scene horrified. “I’m going to be sick.” Then she turned off the screen. “I thought that reporter was on our side.”
“You know what I could really use right now?”
“What?” Methos wondered.
Richelle smiled grimly, “Chocolate chocolate chip cookies. My own personal recipe. I used to make them all the time until chocolate was regarded as hazardous and banned.”
Methos shook his head. “You never made them for me, even before chocolate was made illegal.”
“You never asked,” Richelle leaned her head over to the side in memory. “But if we get out of this, I promise you even if I have to learn how to make chocolate, I’ll make ‘em for you.”
“Deal,” he replied. “Now I’m just going to have to get us out of this.” He smiled at the joke, then took a deep breath.
Richelle sat there a moment; “You’re as bad as my dad was. He’d do just about anything if I’d make him the cookies.”
“They were good,” Ryan commented. Richelle and Methos were startled upon hearing his voice after so long of a time. “I never blamed your dad for wanting you to make them. But you know what I miss more?”
“No, what?” Duncan piped in, eager to join the conversation.
LaPorte took a deep breath, “Chinese. I’m talking about the all-you-can-eat buffet we used to have in town.”
“Amen.” Everyone agreed.
Andrew changed the channel suddenly, feeling a tear come to his eye. He straightened up and took a deep breath. The other channel was now showing the guards coming in to take the Immortals to the stage. Andy watched the screen and tapped his fingers. “It’s about time we get over this moping and cut to the chase.”
Darkness was slowly creeping upon the world. Darkness that like there had never been, as if the whole world knew what was to come and it too did not agree with what was happening. Even though the sun had long set, there was light. Light that came from a hundred lamps that stripped the world of color and left only a stark emptiness. Soon the clean stage that the cameras were pointing at would be covered in blood, lightning, and thunder.
Now taken from their cages, but following, as would lambs to a slaughter, the four Immortals awaited their destinies. Each had a hope, a slight flame in their hearts that as soon as the time came they would escape. All four hoped that chance wouldn’t be too late.
Twin guillotines stood upon the stage, dark foreboding wood and blades that had been taken from some museum. They stood clean and glistening, blades sharpened to cut through even the toughest skin. It was like a strange movie that someone had made, trying to scare the audience enough that the nightmares would go on for weeks. For the few that stood around watching as the Immortals were led upon the stage, they knew nightmares would follow this night.
Their heads held high, each in remembrance of some event that had happened in their lives. Two Watchers who had joined Freedom were in attendance, just waiting in silence as those Immortals faced their deaths without fear. One of them breathed a sigh, one of many that had been breathed through this sad tale. She turned to look at her partner; “They are just waiting for the signal, right? I mean, they haven’t really given up, have they?”
“I think so,” the other murmured. He flexed his fingers on the pistol in his belt.
Up on stage was a different feel. Like a story that was about to come to its peak. Ryan looked over to his friends, searching for Sarah soon after. He knew she wouldn’t miss this. A glance over to the couple chained near him, he saw that they were holding hands, and he looked away. Annoying love stories. They always seem to be tragic, Ryan thought to himself. Then he bit his lip as the oldest Immortal and one of the youngest were led forward towards the guillotines.
It was then that Sarah appeared. Richelle and Methos looked up towards her. Richelle bit her lip as she was forced to her knees, and soon after Methos was as well. “Great, the first ones to die,” she murmured. “Hey, Sarah, how about a final request?”
Methos squeezed her hand, and looked at her funny. Richelle ignored him and looked back to Ryan and Duncan MacLeod, then back to Sarah. “Hey, how about it? I know you just want to see us all die because Ryan here didn’t please you in bed,” she turned to Ryan and smirked. “But I don’t see why you can’t let us have a last request.”
Ryan wanted suddenly for it to be him to let the blade drop on his friend’s head, but suddenly he realized it was all a ploy. Keep her talking, Ricki.
“Yeah, what do you say?” Methos chimed in.
Sarah Christopher started toward the stage; frowning. “What could you possibly want?”
Richelle cocked her head to the side, “Well, you know, I was kind of hoping that you’d tell the world who you really are.” Then, when Sarah didn’t respond, she added, “Impotent, you know? Or was that Immortal? I always get those two confused.” Richelle looked up to the blade that was hanging above her head, gulped, then looked back to Sarah. “I think that was Immortal after all.”
The mortals who were in attendance looked at their leader suspiciously, “What is she talking about?”
“I have no idea,” Sarah said, glancing down to her watch. “But it won’t matter in five minutes.”
Finally MacLeod spoke, “Richelle’s right, you know. Why don’t you tell all your friends why you really want to kill us all off?”
“Yes, why is that really, Sarah?” Ryan added. “Because for a long time I thought it was just because I wouldn’t let you tell anyone that you were Immortal. But now I’m wondering why for sure.”
Sarah was turning red with the stares from her people. She looked towards one of the Watchers leaning against the back wall. “Bind their mouths, I don’t want to hear anymore.”
The Watcher nodded, and walked up towards the stage. He went to Duncan first, pulled up his gag, and slipped the pistol into his hands. “Here you go, buddy. No more words out of you!” Ryan saw this and remained silent as the Watcher came up to him. “I don’t want to hear another sound out of you.”
Ryan nodded as the Watcher pulled up his gag, but then whispered out, “Please get me out of here.”
“You’ve got it,” the Watcher answered, and went to gag the other two Immortals.
Methos wouldn’t have that though. “Look, you gag me, and I won’t be able to make my request.”
Ms. Christopher shook her head, “No more requests.”
“Oh, come on,” Methos whined. “I have some unfinished business with this girl right here, and would like to settle the score once and for all.” He looked to Richelle. “Please?”
Quietly, in behind Sarah and her followers, there were people slipping into the area. Practically shadows as they lined the back walls, one went up to the remaining Watcher at the wall and she nodded, then followed. No one seemed to notice these newcomers but the five that were on the stage. The Watcher kept looking nervously at Sarah, wondering what she would make him do. The Immortals each had a sparkle in their eye, especially Methos. “Come on, all I want to do is settle things before we die.”
“No,” she responded, and finally the Watcher gagged the remaining Immortal. He nodded to Sarah and walked off of the stage. Sarah looked at her watch. “Show time folks.”
Claire looked over to Jack; “You ready?”
“As I’ll ever be,” he responded, and started the tape rolling. For the rest of the world, all they saw was what had been prepared for them to see. Choreographed and sequenced for their entertainment. “I’m just hoping this show doesn’t run over.”
Again a Watcher showed up unexpectedly, and Claire spooked. “You’d think I’d be used to that by now.”
“Guess we’ve got a winner,” the Watcher said. “Ryan’s going with the escape.”
Jack shook his head, “Then who’s going to be the last one?”
The Watcher pointed to a figure on the screen. “I’m just hoping that you’ll be taping the real ending, because this should be saved for posterity.”
The moment all hell would break loose, the remaining Immortals would break in as well. The two were stationed outside of the doors with a group of mortals who had secretly been waiting to begin fighting.
They were watching on a stolen view screen as Sarah Christopher went on the air. “It’s time that we strike back, do what our ancestors should have done long ago! These Immortals are all that is left of a race that has never belonged on this planet, and after today they no longer will.”
Sarah was coming onto the stage. She stood between the guards that held the prisoners, then raised her hands to the heavens. “We were born to rule this earth, not these Immortals! Now we shall.”
Freedom’s members applauded wildly, but they did not hear the boos that were coming from behind them. Sarah did not notice that one by one her allies were being changed to the other side. A select few were glad to join the Watchers, now finding out the truth about Sarah. Unfortunately, she did not know her allies were switching sides.
“So,” Richelle mumbled under her gag, “Who’s going to give the signal?”
Methos shrugged, unable to understand what she said. Both of their heads had been jarred heavily down into the slots, and they stared down into the wicker baskets below. Suddenly though, as Sarah left the stage and the guards had taken their places at the ropes that held the blades, Richelle sighed. “Fine, I’ll give the signal.” She jerked her foot up and back suddenly, connecting with a guard’s jewels. It produced a satisfying crunch and a scream that rivaled all others. Richelle pushed back, lifting her head out of the guillotine, and pulling Methos’s out as well.
Duncan MacLeod had already freed himself from the handcuffs and took out the remaining guards upon the stage. That is when all hell broke loose.
It was the moment that Connor MacLeod and Amanda, with their band of merry men came into the fray. A rifle in his hands and Berettas in his back pockets, Connor took out the remaining guards in the area. Amanda made her way towards the stage, ducking bullets and punches to get to the Immortals on stage. Soon Ryan, Methos, and Richelle were freed to join the madness. “Did you miss me?” She asked the group, handing them weapons of their own.
Methos tore off in the direction of the cameras, Richelle tagging behind. “I think we need a commentator for this event, don’t you?” Laughing, they went to find the microphones.
Duncan joined his kinsman, laughing, “Hey, I hope you know that’s my woman.”
Connor shook his head, his staccato laugh piercing the air, “She’s all yours!”
Behind them Amanda came, “Hey, what are you talking about?”
“Nothing!” The Highlanders said joyfully. Soon they too disappeared into the crowd.
Blood was being spilled, but no lightning or fire; not yet. Sarah had pulled out her sword, slashing and hacking at the intruders. Her plans had been ruined, but she would not go down without a fight. Besides, as she looked over her troops, they were winning. Winning by killing anyone in their sight, but Sarah did not see that as each of the bodies went down they flickered, like holograms.
Suddenly a voice splintered through the air, “Welcome everyone to the fight of the century!” It was Methos, and he laughed hearing his voice over the speakers. He looked over to Richelle, “Hey, you’ve got to try this.”
Richelle took the mike and said in her best announcer voice, “Here we are folks, at the edge of our seats for this nail biting event!” She smiled, “This is fun.” The stiletto was again in her hand as she plunged it behind her to take out one of the Freedom fighters. She turned in time to see him slump to the ground, the stiletto sticking out of his throat. One fast yank and she pulled it with a slosh from the man. “I’ll take this back, thank you very much.”
Methos took the microphone back, “I sure hope they got that on tape. Oh, oh.” He turned, sidestepped another man, and watched him fly past and land on the floor in a heap. The man got up and turned his automatic on Methos, but the Immortal just shook his head sadly. “No, I don’t think so.” With one swift kick, that man too was dead, his neck broken. “Thank you, thank you.”
As Richelle laughed, she looked around. “Hey, where are Sarah and Ryan?”
Upon the stage, between the now toppled guillotines, the two Immortals stood facing each other, swords at the ready. The hate was finally in Ryan; “I’m not going to allow you to win, Sarah.”
A frown furrowing her brows, the secret Immortal took one look towards the war going on just feet away. “You don’t get it Ryan, I’ve already won.” She looked at Ryan with hate, lunged for him with her saber. Metal hit metal, sparks flew.
Ryan returned the favor, slashed at the woman, and watched as skills were matched. From offense to defense, Ryan let more sparks fly as Sarah came for him. He was stepping back now, towards the front of the stage. His foot slipped, letting his balance slip, but in time to duck a swipe Sarah made in his direction. Ryan climbed back on the wooden stage and rolled past the woman. He stood suddenly, as she turned menacingly.
Again she came for him; blades hitting with a metallic ring as Ryan swung his foot past Sarah’s leg. She toppled to the floor, but cut her blade through Ryan’s leg. Cursing, he hobbled off, feeling the blood pound its way down his leg. Desperately he hoped it would heal quickly. Sarah now stood up, dragging her sword upon the stage, eyes only on Ryan. All Ryan could see in her eyes was hate and anger.
Behind her the fighting had stopped. One by one the real fighters, mainly just a handful of the Watchers and the remaining Immortals, turned to watch the show. The Freedom members had stopped to watch as well, sudden recognition burning in their eyes. One such mortal that had been with Sarah since the beginning clenched his fist; “She was using us the entire time.”
Connor, Duncan, and Amanda watched as the holographic warriors fizzled out and disappeared. No one besides them had seen the sight. All who were remained had eyes upon the stage.
Richelle walked in behind the camera and stared to focus upon the stage, she pulled Methos over, and said into the microphone, “Enjoy.”
A fist into the face of Sarah, and she spit out blood. Sneering, she watched as Ryan came towards her, this time she was the one walking backwards on the stage. “No, Sarah, you aren’t winning.”
“I am, because those dumb mortals think that I’m like them!” She said the words loudly, suddenly noticing that it was only her voice that could now be heard. There wasn’t any fighting going on behind them, nor yelling. She turned, looking at the Freedom members who stood watching. “What are you standing around for? Kill the Immortals!”
It was then that they finally moved into action. “Yes, let’s kill the Immortal.” The new leader said as they swarmed the stage. One died, then another, both at the tip of Sarah’s blade. No longer could she hold them off. Ryan jumped from the stage, unable to look back at what was now happening.
Blood, then the head fell onto the floor. Lightning coursed from the body and a single figure screamed. The sparks and electricity hit the closest body that could handle the Quickening. The man screamed again, in pain, agony, and then relief. A single bolt of lightning coursed up through the guillotine, over the metal blade, down across the stage, towards that figure. The hundreds of lights overhead burst forth, sparks and fire shooting from the burnt out bulbs. People screamed, fleeing for their lives. The stage area was empty, but for the Immortals who stood and watched.
The figure screamed again, lightning lifting him from the floor, electricity filling his every being. The camera was rolling, but no human being around the world saw the Quickening. Televisions and view screens burst into flames, families running from their homes in fear. Still the cameras rolled, until at last the Quickening ended, and then the figure dropped to the ground, still moaning in pain.
No one came to him this time; no one laid a hand upon Ryan’s back to comfort him. It would have been no comfort anyway. He stood suddenly, brushed himself off, and walked away. Disappearing into the shadows, the remaining Immortals no longer felt Ryan LaPorte. A few wondered if they ever would again.
A single spot of sunlight brushed through the trees. If the light hadn’t been caught in the dust in the air, there would have been no other proof of its existence but the spot of light that fell upon blond hair. The wind was blowing through the trees, making the spot move and bounce here and there. Suddenly the gust was gone, and the spot lay still upon the head of hair that was suddenly covered with a hand.
The man that belonged to that hand ran his fingers through his companion’s hair, and stopped suddenly at a knot, working until it was gone. The woman with the blond hair smiled at him, blue eyes sparkling. She reached for his hand, and took it into her own. Opening the palm towards her lips she brushed it with a kiss, then settled to closing each finger around the precious gift.
Methos shook his head, and took her hand to his own lips. The breeze caught up the tree again, and his eyes focused out over the horizon. They had found the loveliest spot in the world; a tree blessed cliff that overlooked the raging sea. This moment was theirs and theirs alone.
Settled back upon the soft grass, listening to the sound of the waves, Richelle held his hand in her own as her thoughts drifted down towards the ocean. “I was wondering about something,” she said.
Brown eyes settled on blue, then drifted towards the ocean as well, “What?”
“You’re last request, what was it, Methos?”
The oldest Immortal frowned, thinking, then his expression lightened. “Oh yes, I remember.” He turned her head towards his own, holding it in his hands. “I had a score to settle with you,” and with that he drew her closer. Lips touching lips for a precious second, until they were rudely interrupted.
Richelle and Methos looked up, startled. They had thought they were alone, but no, there was a man there, sitting in a wheelchair, with his hat in his lap. He looked very old, and very frail, but as Richelle looked at him, she recognized the man. “Andy? Is that you?”
The oldest Watcher nodded, “I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I wanted to talk to you a moment.”
Standing suddenly, Richelle hugged her brother. “Someone had told me that you were still alive, but I didn’t believe them. How?”
Andrew lifted his hat back upon his head, revealing an orange sized lump in his lap. Something was in the velvet bag, and with shaking hands he lifted it for Richelle to take. Richelle opened the bag, letting fall into her hand a beautiful crystal. Methos’s eyes when wide, but Richelle only frowned. “What is this?”
Sitting in the wheelchair, Andy laughed. “Methos can tell you later, I’m sure. It’s not really important now, seeing as though it didn’t work like we all thought it would once.” He paused, and pulled a piece of paper from his front pocket. “What is important, is this letter I received the other day.” Unfolding the note, he started to read from it. “Dear Andy, I have been wanting to get in touch with your sister, but she travels around so much I haven’t been able to. I figure though, that you’d want to hear this news as much as she would, and would probably be able to get in touch with her faster than I could. My dear old friend, I was walking down a city street the other day when I passed an orphanage. The children were out playing when I happened to notice one little boy sitting alone by the fence, scratching things in the dirt. I came over to him, and as he looked up to me, I asked him what he was doing. The boy looked at me with big eyes and said that he was making up a game. A game where many people would play, but in the end there could be only one.”
Andy paused a moment to catch his breath, and he looked up to Richelle, reading the rest of the letter to her by heart. “That wasn’t the most wonderful thing though. I could feel it, deep within my bones, that someday this boy would be an Immortal. My dear friend, it’s starting over again! There are going to be Immortals in the world again.” Smiling, Andrew didn’t say another word, but passed the letter over to his sister.
Richelle smiled sadly as she watched her brother go, “Take care,” he said over his shoulder. “And don’t lose your head.” Methos put his arm around Richelle as they watched him get into the limo that was waiting nearby. As the oldest Watcher sat back in his seat, he looked back to see Methos and Richelle disappear out of sight. Promises kept, and obligations fulfilled, Andrew Scott settled down in his seat and fell asleep.