A PARTING OF WAYS
Resurrection definitely wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Coming back from the dead was a bit like getting married in secret - you might want to throw parties and shout from the rooftops, but you couldn't. You just had to sit quietly, and, in this case at least, pretend you had been living in some quiet and secluded corner of the world for the last three years, rather than actually having spent it floating in a netherworld, somewhere between this dimension and the next. It was an awkward situation, and one that other people found almost impossible to understand - or would have done, had they been allowed to know about it - which left one isolated, aggravated, and generally out of sorts. Frankenstein's monster had had the same problem of course; one minute he had been happily sleeping in his grave - well, several graves actually, since he had been built out of rather a lot of peoples' different pieces - and the next he had been stomping around the world looking for a little fun and entertainment; not to mention hoping that he would find some beautiful, understanding - and dead - ladyfriend to go on dates with. In the event he had found misery, despair and eventual oblivion.
Not that Kronos felt quite that bad. Not yet, anyway. It was just that, far from being a rousing blend of late night partying, loud living and loose women, so far his visit to Seacouver had consisted merely of sitting about in Methos' improbably grand apartment, reading books he had read a hundred times already, and watching Days Of Our Lives in a vague attempt to stave off boredom. The former was uninspiring, the latter unintelligible, but it was better than sitting with Methos and Joe Dawson, listening to them planning their strategies for finding Duncan MacLeod, and discussing how they were going to convince him to trust them again. Kronos really didn't understand this obsession. MacLeod had stormed off, refusing to speak to either of them again, and they were trying to get him back? It was a clear case of good riddance in his opinion, but Methos was still stubbornly insisting that he liked having the self-righteous do-gooder around. It was galling to see the effect that the Highlander's departure had had on the oldest Immortal, who seemed quite lost without him. When he wasn't trying to find his insufferable white knight, he was trying to rope his brother into helping out with his shift at Joe's jazz club; which was hardly a dream career for a man who lived for blood and chaos. The rest of the time Methos just slept; or tried to. His sleeping hours were an ongoing nightmare, wracked with guilt and fear, as he tossed from side to side and cried out that his friends were killing each other; or were already dead. Kronos, who rarely slept, stood out on the balcony most nights listening to his brother mutter and mumble, unsure whether to be sympathetic or scathing.
He had attempted to understand at first, when he had seen Methos' obvious concern, and had realised that his brother really was worried about him. To lose one friend to another's sword was clearly a nightmare scenario to the oldest Immortal, and he was finding it a hard situation to live with. Always ready to oblige - well, never ready to oblige, technically speaking, but willing to make an exception in this case - Kronos had agreed not to go wandering around the city at night, and to stay in the well-populated areas when he did go out. This had seemed to make Methos almost pathetically grateful, despite the fact that it was a fairly pointless promise. Kronos couldn't really go out anyway, since he was wanted by the police - Methos' fault, in his opinion - and needed a disguise of some kind just to walk down the street. It was a shame, since he dearly wanted to go looking for MacLeod, to finish what they had started in this very city three years previously. Not that he would say as much to Methos of course - although he was fairly sure that Methos had already guessed.
The low hum of voices in the corner of the room told the former Horseman that his two companions were once again immersed in their earnest conversation. A short break for refuelling in the kitchen had not lasted long, and he could hear the rattle of voices, rising and falling as tempers were increasingly strained. MacLeod's name kept coming up, along with his own. Joe Dawson, as usual, was muttering about 'letting MacLeod get on with it'. Kronos smiled. As mortals went, he quite liked Dawson. The Watcher spoke his mind, and didn't bother pretending to like Methos' unannounced house guest. He had definite weaknesses though; an unswerving loyalty to Duncan MacLeod for one, and an apparent blindness to the true nature of Methos' character for another. He kept behaving as though he couldn't understand why Methos liked Kronos so much, or why they seemed to think that they had so much in common. The shadows that lived in Methos' eyes were apparently invisible to the mortal; or - more likely - he chose to ignore them. There was no real way that he could be unaware of the truth, so presumably he chose to make up his own reality, and ignore the one that was all but kicking him in the face. Methos was his friend - right now his only friend - and therefore the morally suspect Immortal had to be a good guy. Kronos thought about all the gloriously depraved tales that he could tell Joe, of all the things that Methos had done to innocent people - but he was fairly sure that Methos would be furious with him if he did tell. Apparently he liked pulling the wool over Dawson's eyes.
It was talk of the Involution which finally turned Kronos' attention away from that morning's episode of Day's Of Our Lives, and back into the real world. He was losing track of the show anyway, not having watched it that often before, and eventually switched off just as some unfortunate soul with a phoenix tattooed onto his shoulder faded into yet another in a series of bizarre flashbacks. Since he seemed even more bewildered than Kronos over who and what it was that he was supposed to be remembering, the Immortal felt rather inclined to leave him alone to get on with it. He had enough confusing memories of his own to deal with.
"You can't talk sense with the Involution." Leaning back in his chair, Joe Dawson banged on the floor with his cane. The steel metronome on the mammoth glass coffee table ticked back and forth, in time with his unintentional rhythm. Methos stirred frantically at his coffee.
"I'm not trying to talk sense with them. I'm trying to understand them. Daniel was my friend - or at least I thought he was. I can't understand why he would pretend to be helping me, when all the time he was planning to turn around and pull a stunt like this one. Why not just spring his surprise straight away? Why wait all those months?"
"There doesn't have to be a straightforward reason when you're dealing with the Involution. You should know that by now. They have their own agendas, and nothing else matters to them. Maybe Daniel liked Seacouver, and wanted to finish seeing the sights before he got on with his mission. Since we can't ask him, you'll just have to accept what he did."
"I can't do that." Methos began stirring his coffee in the opposite direction, causing two sets of waves to collide messily in the middle of the mug. He ceased his frenetic actions and watched, perplexed, as the hot liquid flooded the table. "I can't accept that there's nothing more to this than an overdue attempt to avenge some Involution agent I might once have... upset a bit."
"No?" Joe opened his mouth to say something further, but decided in the end not to bother. Clearly Methos was not really listening, and was instead fluttering indecisively about in an attempt to find something with which to clear up the spilt coffee. After picking up one or two cushions as though wondering whether or not to use them, he eventually settled on an old T-shirt hanging over the back of one of the chairs. He threw it onto the coffee table, and began to soak up the hot brown liquid, spilling even more of it as he tried to move the cup out of the mess.
"No." Once again sitting down, Methos threw the wet T-shirt in the general direction of the kitchen, and then returned his attention to Joe. The T-shirt, which didn't have the slightest hope of reaching the kitchen given the apartment's ridiculously spacious dimensions, caught on the huge wooden globe standing nearby, sending the whole of the western world into an unscheduled eclipse. "There's got to be something else. Something we're overlooking."
"Maybe." Dawson finished his own coffee quickly, as though afraid that Methos might manage to spill that as well. "The method of revenge he used; driving such a powerful wedge between you and MacLeod - not to mention risking the lives of your two closest friends - it all suggests a far better knowledge of you - of all of us - than he should have had. It doesn't strike me as something that he could have planned all that far in advance - before he met you, and found out about Kronos and MacLeod."
"Probably not." Still sprawled on the settee feigning indifference towards the proceedings, although his body language suggested far greater interest than he was willing to show, Kronos played idly with the hilt of his ever-present sword. "But then every Immortal looking for a shot at the Prize knows that sooner or later he's going to come across a MacLeod - either your version or the original model - and the same goes for anybody who deals with Immortals; such as the Watchers, and presumably the Involution. If you want to rule the world, you've got to get rid of the Highland Fairies first." He smiled, enjoying the attention. "Daniel was probably sent here to find a way of isolating MacLeod - and you two - so that you wouldn't be as much of a threat to whatever his people are planning next. He wanted to come anyway, so that he could confront you about your treatment of his ancestor." He shrugged, letting his softly theatrical voice spin out his final point. "So he decided to combine the trip - kill two birds with one stone. And with luck, divert your attention away from the real reason for his being here."
There was a silence, during which Methos glanced towards Joe Dawson. The mortal was nodding slowly, agreeing with Kronos' reasoning despite a clear reluctance to do so. "Makes sense." His voice gruff, Dawson turned in his chair so that he could look more directly at Kronos, including him more fully in the conversation. "So what was his real reason for being here?"
"I don't know. I think we can assume that he wanted to get back at Methos for breaking his grandmother's heart." He smiled, knowing full well that Methos didn't like him mentioning that bit. The old Immortal would have much preferred to keep Dawson in the dark about his relationship with Margaret Perceival, if only to avoid losing the inexplicable faith the mortal still seemed to have in him. "But whether or not that was the sole reason why he came here... I certainly can't say. But I'd bet my sword that it wasn't." He smirked. "Not that I'd have any intention of paying up if I lost that bet."
"Naturally." Methos leant back, legs crossed, frowning at his two companions. "Okay, supposing for the moment that you're right, and that Daniel was here as part of some bigger operation. That still doesn't explain why he waited so long."
"Yes it does." Dawson was warming to the theme, and even his cane seemed animated. "He was waiting for the okay from his superiors. They needed everything to be ready before he took the next step. Oh it makes sense alright - it makes perfect sense. The Involution is up to something."
"Great. We send one branch reeling into the foothills, and straight away we get saddled with another." Methos glanced sharply up at Kronos. "Have you heard any rumours? Any hint at all of what it is we might be up against?"
"Me?" The slow smile was infuriating. "How would I hear anything?"
"You have more connections in dodgy places than the whole of the organised crime racket. You hear all kinds of things."
"True." Kronos shook his head, finally straightening up to look as though he was giving them his full attention. "But I don't know anything about the Involution. I hadn't even heard of them until I came here." He frowned, rubbing his head. "Although I seem to have one or two memories about them... disjointed things. From Peter Kerensky I suppose."
"That is something I don't even want to think about." Looking decidedly pale at the idea of bits of Peter being left inside Kronos' brain, Joe turned away. The Immortal grinned wickedly at him.
"It's not so very dissimilar from a good Quickening. There can be segments of memory then. Other peoples' ideas, thoughts, girlfriends... Except that the pictures I have from Mr Kerensky's past are rather more clear than I'm used to." He glanced up, his forehead creased in a frown that was half confusion and half distinct amusement as another alien memory came to the fore. "You lost MacLeod the last time you dealt with the Involution? He's walking out on you a lot these days. Maybe there's something he's trying to tell you."
"He walked out on us back then because you were lodged inside his head, trying to send him mad." Methos did not sound nearly as cross as he would have liked to, and scowled at his own bias towards that particular situation. Kronos looked pleased.
"Really? I don't remember any of that. What a shame." A smirk that he could not avoid grew across his face. "Driving Duncan MacLeod mad from beyond the grave. You know, sometimes I amaze even myself with my brilliance."
"Yeah, well how about amazing us with it too, before we decide you're too insufferable to put up with any longer." Methos got up and wandered over to the settee, sitting down beside his old friend. "We need to brainstorm. We have to figure out what these people are up to."
"Why?" Kronos sounded lazy. "It gives us room to move, and it keeps MacLeod from breathing down my neck. For all we know he's half the world away right now, looking for me. Seacouver is very pleasant as a MacLeod Free Zone."
"Mac's not out of the country. I saw him last night at the club." Joe glanced away, looking terribly sad. "He was watching the band through the window, but by the time I got outside he was walking away. He wouldn't even look at me when I called after him."
"Probably checking that Kronos wasn't in there." Methos shook his head. "Great. Not only do we have the Involution to deal with, but we have to keep the Grudge Twins apart as well."
"You don't have to keep us apart." Kronos was smirking again, and turned to look towards his companion with a particularly mischievous pair of sparkling eyes. "I'd be happy to--"
"Shut up Kronos." Despite his feelings on the situation, Methos had to try hard not to smile. "Maybe we can get some help from the Watchers?"
"I doubt it." Joe's sadness over his inability to mend fences with MacLeod increased noticeably as his colleagues were brought into the conversation. "The last I heard from HQ was a phone call yesterday - and I'm putting it mildly when I say that they do not want to hear from me again in a hurry. I haven't been sacked as such, but I don't think we can count on any support from them." He glared at Kronos. "Not while he's on board, anyway."
"Great." Methos stared at the floor. He felt bad for Joe's alienation, especially since it was largely his fault, but all that he could think of now was its inconvenience, rather than the way that it was hurting his mortal friend. "Isn't that just typical? You do all their work, solve all their problems, and then one minor slip up leaves you out in the cold."
"It wasn't exactly a minor slip up." Joe was staring at the floor, but somehow still managed to give the impression of glaring daggers at Kronos. "I broke some pretty major regulations to help you out in Archville, and concealing the fact that Daniel was Involution hasn't helped my case any. If the Inner Circle ever finds out about that, I doubt I'll even be allowed to keep my tattoo." He rubbed unconsciously at the blue design on his wrist. Methos lowered his eyes, although he found himself raising them again immediately. Lowering them in a sign of sympathy had brought his own tattoo into focus, and that merely made him feel worse. Instead he stared thoughtfully at a distant poster on his wall, depicting a typically psychedelic album cover by Cream.
"Maybe we should try to get in touch with somebody within the Involution?" he suggested hopefully, although without any real conviction. "Daniel mentioned his father..."
"Costas Reuben. Born in Greece, moved to New York where he met and married his wife... moved back to Greece in 1970, a couple of years after he was widowed..." Joe, who sounded particularly well versed in that respect, shrugged dismissively. "I've already checked out that angle, and he's not available for comment. What were we going to say to him anyway? We're the people who killed your son, now tell us what he was up to?"
"Sarcasm, my witty mortal friend, isn't always the answer." Still sounding comfortably relaxed and disinterested, Kronos fixed Joe with a glare that might have been meant in jest, but equally well might not. Joe glared back, but with considerably more feeling. Methos sighed loudly, and rubbed briefly at his temples and forehead. It was still early, but already it felt as though it had been a long day.
"Can we please get back on track here?" He reached out to pick up his fellow Immortal's sword, letting the enforced casualness of his movement hide the need he felt for the calming touch of cold steel. As always the presence of a weapon provided him with the necessary focus, and a slight smile sparked its way across his lips. He waved the sheathed sword at his brother, eyes still fixed intently on the poster on the wall.
"France, during the Revolution. You'd jumped ship a couple of years before, and I decided to let the crew handle things themselves for a while. I went looking for you."
"That was Germany, or whatever it was they were calling it back then; not France." Kronos was beginning to look interested, and with a frown of something like deep thought he swung his feet up onto the nearest table. His knee-length boots, made of stout black leather bedecked with straps and shining silver buckles, risked doing the table some serious damage. Methos began to understand why MacLeod got so annoyed about the feet-and-coffee-table issue, and tried not to glower. "Why bring that up?"
"We wound up in France, wherever it was we met." Faint irritation showed around Methos' eyes, which only made his brother's amusement grow. "There was a guy there... French bloke."
"In France? Never." Joe rolled his eyes and looked away. "Is there a point to this charming tale? And I'm going to waive the obvious questions - such as what happened to your promises that before '97 you hadn't seen each other since your Horseman days?"
"I said that?" Methos looked faintly guilty. "Oh. Well we ran into each other once or twice. It's a small world, and you're bound to meet up occasionally over the course of a few thousand years..."
"Occasionally, yeah." Kronos smirked. "We had a ship; the Spartacus I think we called it. We'd been trying our hand at piracy, but I got bored. My innocent and blameless brother here decided to try and persuade me to come back." His smirk grew. "Not that he enjoyed the life of piracy you understand. As we all know, he's the shy and retiring sort, who wouldn't say boo to a goose."
"Shut up." Methos spoke as though teetering on the verge of extreme physical violence. "As I was saying... we were in France, at the time of the Revolution. There was an Englishman who was working with the French authorities, trying to close down the Underground movement that was smuggling local aristocrats over the Channel. He suspected us of being involved, remember? Tried all kinds of underhand ways to unmask us."
"Which was entirely pointless. I wouldn't lift a finger to help some wigged and painted aristocrat find his way to freedom." Kronos rubbed his neck thoughtfully, no doubt drawn by memories of the guillotine - and his own, not-so-distant, beheading. "As I recall, he tried to play us off against each other. Divide and conquer."
"Precisely. But we handled him, just like we're going to handle the same situation now." Methos was smiling broadly, the memories clear in his mind. "He thought he had us, because you were refusing to speak to me, and I'd told half the city that I was going to behead you on sight. He was so over-confident after that, he all but buried himself."
"I take it this is a long-winded way of telling me you have a plan?" Joe was looking suspicious, as though he didn't really trust any scheme that involved confused memories of a Horseman reunion two hundred years previously. In contrast Methos seemed suddenly bright.
"I believe that I do, yes." He rubbed his hands together. "Gentlemen, I propose a trip to Greece."
"Greece." Unconvinced, Joe looked from one to the other of the Immortals. "What are we going to do in Greece?"
"A little sight-seeing." Methos handed Kronos back his sword, which passed between the two of them like some priceless relic. "And a little friendly conversation with the locals. I think I have an idea how we can get to the bottom of all this."
"I sure hope so." Joe scowled and toyed restlessly with the end of his cane. "I only wish that solving our Involution problems would help us sort things out with MacLeod..." His voice trailed off as he realised that the other two were no longer listening, and instead were staring at each other in something very like grim ferocity. "What's wrong?"
"Immortal." Kronos was on his feet, unsheathing his sword as he made for the door. Methos, meanwhile, was already halfway to the window. He paused before he reached it, shaking his head.
"Feels like it." Still tense Kronos pulled open the door, sword at the ready. There was nobody outside, and no sign that there anybody had been there recently. The Leader of the Horsemen weighed his weapon in his hand for a moment, then stepped back and let the door swing shut. "Anything outside the window?"
"Nothing." Staring through the glass, Methos looked out into the street. The only sign of movement was a black car, moving steadily away down the road. He thought that he had seen it before, but since he could not see the driver he dismissed it from his mind. More than one person in Seacouver drove a black car.
"Do you think it was MacLeod?" It was difficult to tell whether it was hope or concern that coloured Joe's voice. Kronos glanced questioningly at Methos, but the older Immortal shook his head.
"It wasn't MacLeod. I can usually recognise his aura, and that wasn't it. It felt like a stranger."
"Probably just somebody passing by in the street. Whoever it was might have been as surprised to feel you as you were to feel them." Joe had seen that happen before, and so, clearly, had Methos and Kronos. They both nodded.
"Yeah." Kronos slid his sword back into its sheath and tossed the weapon onto the settee; an open but surprising gesture of his growing trust for Dawson. "All the same, we're staying prepared. Nobody leaves the building until we're ready to head for the airport."
"Makes sense." Methos reached for the telephone. "I'm going to charter a flight. You two grab anything you think we might need, and then we'll call for a cab."
"You're really serious about this, aren't you." Joe shook his head. "I still don't see what the hell we're going to find out in Greece."
"Answers." Methos began to dial a number that he apparently knew by heart. As he did so he glanced up at Kronos. "Run up to the roof would you? Take a look around. I was sure I felt somebody when I was up there yesterday, and if there is another Immortal hanging around, I want to be sure."
"Fine." Kronos grabbed his sword again, and headed out of the room. Joe watched him go, and jerked a thumb at the departing Immortal.
"Aren't you worried about him?" Methos raised an eyebrow, listening to the telephone at the other end of the connection as it began to ring. When he spoke there was no emotion in his voice, which only served to give his words an even greater sense of sorrow and hopelessness.
"I've worried about him every day since I got him back. I worry about him so much I can't sleep at night; and when I'm not worrying about him I'm worrying about MacLeod." He paused for a second to listen to the telephone, then relaxed slightly as he was put on hold. "But what am I supposed to do? Stop living, like Daniel wanted?"
"I don't know." Joe tried putting himself into Methos' position, but he had to give up. The old Immortal merely smiled at him.
"If it's anybody but MacLeod up there, there's no reason to worry. Kronos hasn't lived for four thousand years without picking up some serious fighting skills. If it is MacLeod..." He shook his head. "Anyway, there's nobody up there anymore. I just want to know if there's been anybody up there recently."
"If it is MacLeod...?" Joe prompted gently. Methos opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a voice at the other end of the telephone. He shrugged, and turned away to begin his conversation. Joe was left standing alone. If he had been about to hear which of his confederate's friends held the lion's share of his loyalty, the moment had gone. On the other hand, he thought with a faint smile, he would probably just have heard another scared and sorry sigh. The apparently unavoidable eventual confrontation between Kronos and MacLeod might just be a greater source of dread for Methos than any of them had previously thought. Dawson couldn't help thinking that somewhere in the next world, Daniel Reuben was laughing out loud.
The large glass door slid open without a sound, and the only indication that anything at all had moved was the staccato winking of a bright red light set into the doorframe. Costas Reuben glanced up, faintly irritated by the encroachment of the light into his subconscious.
"What is it?" His strong New York accent, like that of his son, somehow complimented his sturdy, robust figure and weather-beaten face. Costas was well into his sixties however, and had none of the darkness of Daniel's hair. His own was a silvery white, a stark and brilliant contrast to the pitch black eyes that glared so fiercely at the world.
"We've just had a report through from the States, sir." The man who had entered through the sliding glass door was barely a man at all. He looked as though he might just have reached eighteen or nineteen, and was as scrawny as Reuben was strong. Gingery-brown hair stuck up all over his head, and eyes too pale to be properly called green peered out at the world as though permanently afraid that the world might be about to bite back. He was dressed in pale grey clothing that might have been a uniform, but he did not wear it well. His shoulders were too small, and his body too gangly.
"And?" Reuben's messenger annoyed him. He was a mess, and was far too informal. Naturally enough he was the Divisional Commander's nephew, which was really the only reason that he had ever been allowed to take up a position within Involution Headquarters in the first place. Nepotism was a driving force behind the Involution, especially in these sorry days of falling membership and split forces; but it infuriated Costas all the same.
"Daniel is dead." The messenger spoke it as though it were an unimportant afterthought. Costas did not receive it differently.
"Oh." He glared at the desk before him, and the papers upon it. "Do we know how?"
"There are no details." The scrawny boy before him glanced at the clipboard he held in his thin and pale hands. "Gunshot wounds. Two or three, mostly to the torso. One hit him in the leg." He shrugged. "Any one of them could have been fatal, apparently. Severe loss of blood, serious internal damage. No medical help reached him for several hours." He looked up again. "They say he was found with Methos."
"Then I would imagine it was Methos that killed him." Costas stood up and wandered around to stand next to his messenger. "Wouldn't you?"
"Er... yes." The boy lowered his head. "Do you want something done? Not that we can move against Methos of course, but we could--"
"We have better things to occupy our minds than revenge." Costas snatched away the clipboard and glanced through it. "Where's Geddes?"
"Mr Geddes is in his office. He doesn't want to be disturbed."
"Hard luck." Striding away, Costas slammed his hand against the door to make it slide open a little faster, and left his pathetic looking messenger to stumble along uselessly in his wake. At least the kid had started called their commander 'Mr Geddes', instead of Uncle Tony. There might just be hope for him yet.
"I really don't think that you should go in." As they reached the door to Geddes' office, the young messenger finally caught up. "He's busy."
"I need to talk to him." Costas handed the clipboard back, banging it against the boy's chest with such force that it staggered him. "I'm sure you have other things to be doing? Reports to make? Forms to fill in? Paperclips to count?"
"I'm supposed to report back to Uncle-- To Mr Geddes." The watery green eyes lowered. "Personally. About whether or not you intend to go after Methos."
"I'll make that report myself." Reuben managed a smile that might have been comforting, were it not for the ever present threat of violence in his quite astoundingly fierce black eyes. "You run along. Do whatever it is you do when you have a few hours to yourself. I have a feeling things are going to pick up pretty soon."
"Yes sir. I mean... well do you think that's wise, sir? My uncle--"
"Your uncle can do without you for a little while. He and I are going to have a chat. We can probably even manage to make our own coffee, if we really think hard about it." Costas clapped the boy on the shoulder, with rather more force than he had intended, sending him staggering once again. "Now get out of here before I decide to send you on an overseas intelligence mission." And he smiled with an impressive degree of menace. The boy paled.
"Yes sir." He turned about and scuttled away down the corridor, his soft-soled shoes making more noise on the concrete floor than Costas would ever have believed possible. The footsteps still echoed about even when the boy himself had disappeared around a bend. Reuben sighed. He missed the days when operatives had been handpicked, and when they had marched up and down the corridors with military precision. These days it was all computer experts, who looked too unhealthy to even stand the touch of the sun, let alone the exhausting training procedures that their predecessors had been put through. Costas was sure that not every computer genius in Europe was as pathetic a physical specimen as the ones he had to deal with every day - but somehow the Involution seemed to have a talent for attracting the thinnest and least sturdy models around. He scowled at the office door before him, then knocked on it hard. Daniel had been the sort of man that an Involution agent should be. Tall, well-built, strong as an ox, and with the sort of tactical brain that could give most of these computer geeks a run for their money. Costas was proud of the way that he had trained his son, but he found it impossible to grieve for him as a father should. Daniel had been an agent; one of many. His loss was unfortunate. For a moment, perhaps, Costas thought about the child he had raised - but it was a brief, fleeting moment, and it did not come again. He opened the door.
"What are you doing here?" Seated behind his desk, Anthony Geddes looked like a refugee from a home for retired models. His grey-flecked hair was immaculate, his suit hand-tailored, and his jaw shaved so smoothly that he could have been a walking advertisement for the latest brand of razor. He raised one well-shaped, dark eyebrow as he asked the question, and his astoundingly bright blue eyes gave added emphasis. Costas felt his usual irritations beginning to rise anew.
"I just got your message." He strode across the room and sat without being invited. Geddes, as usual, gave no sign of displeasure. Costas got the distinct impression that his boss thought he was quaint.
"I'm sorry about your son." It was a polite comment, nothing more. Geddes did not expect his operative to show any emotion at the death. Costas Reuben rarely showed any emotion for anything. "He was a good operative. You trained him very well."
"Of course." And much better that you've trained your bloody nephew. "Thomas seems to think that I want to send a unit out to avenge the death."
"Thomas thinks you don't understand the issues at stake." Geddes shrugged, then leant forward to look at the papers on his desk. "And speaking of which..."
"Everything is going to schedule." Costas stretched his legs, impenetrable black eyes fixed on his commander's irritatingly perfect hairline. Geddes might have been a local, but the schooling he had had in England as a boy was far too obvious, at least to Reuben's way of thinking. The immaculate head bobbed up and down in a quiet and reserved nod.
"Jolly good." Costas nearly winced. He had heard great praise for the razor-sharp mind supposedly sealed inside that oh-so-perfect head; but he had rarely seen any evidence of it. Between moments of cold-blooded professionalism the man acted like a lost British tourist who was glad of the company.
"I wanted to ask..." He hesitated, wondering if he could stand to be told by a twit like Geddes that his security clearance didn't stretch to this particular subject. Geddes arched his eyebrow again - the other one this time, perhaps to give the first a rest. The flawless blue eyes smiled at him.
"About this mission. Project Nemesis."
"What about it?" For a second the smooth, square jaw hardened, and showed a little of the personality behind the perfection. "Everything is underway, and we're proceeding on schedule. You just said so yourself."
"I know." Costas nodded wearily. "But the men are getting restless. They know something is going on, and they want to get involved. They're tired of waiting."
"Good. Then they should be ready when I am." Geddes frowned slightly. "Why? Don't you think that our unit is up to the task?"
"I'm not sure that I know quite what that task is."
"Oh." Another infuriating smile made the irritating eyes glimmer and glow. "Well, don't worry about it too much. Any news from our people?"
"None that I've heard."
"Fine." The dark head turned back once again to the papers on the desk. "Are you still here?"
"Yes." Costas chose not to take the hint. "My son is dead, Geddes. I have a right to ask why."
"Yes, you do." Geddes still did not look at him. "But the simple fact is that he's dead because somebody killed him. Methos, I believe. Daniel got carried away, and let the secondary purpose for his presence in Seacouver take priority over the primary reason. We'll deal with Methos soon enough."
"So I would expect." Costas rose to his feet, making a great show of straightening his clothes. "I'm going to check in with Project Nemesis, and see if there's anything new."
"You do that." Geddes glanced up. "And send Thomas in to see me would you?"
"If you really want." Reuben strode to the door, making no attempt to hide his contempt. Geddes had far too much fondness for his nephew. It was inadvisable, and it was a sign of weakness.
"I do want." Again one of the eyebrows arched, this time carrying with it a note of disdain. "Keep me informed."
"Naturally." Costas pushed open the door. It still stung that he was unable to find out the details of Project Nemesis. Scrawny young Thomas probably knew everything.
"And close the door after you." It was a stinging dismissal, but Costas ignored it. He had more pressing matters on his mind. If Geddes would not tell him the secrets of Project Nemesis, perhaps Project Nemesis would reveal the truth itself. Costas might not feel anything for his loss, but he did have a right to know what exactly it was that had got his son killed. Pulling his security pass from his pocket he tossed it restlessly in his hand as he strode down the corridor. Time to go and talk to the frail and fragile intelligentsia in the computer room. One of them, he was sure, could tell him what he wanted to know.
Joe was glad they had taken a charter flight; somehow he felt sure that they would have been put off a commercial aeroplane at the first available stop. Methos had spent much of the time trying unsuccessfully to get some sleep; and when he had eventually managed to drop off, it had been into a series of disturbing nightmares. He shouted Duncan MacLeod's name and Kronos' by turns, clearly enduring some hellish battle between his two friends that he was forever forced to witness. Sweat ran down his face as he slept, and he whispered and coughed out words in a language Joe did not understand.
Kronos was no better, although he was at least considerably less conspicuous. He sat on his own in a secluded chair, somehow attracting every shadow in the place, so that they gathered around him like unbidden disciples, hiding him from view almost entirely. Only his eyes remained truly visible, cold blue in the darkness, shining out of his cloak of shadows as he quietly polished his sword. Once or twice during this process he glanced up - when he became most acutely aware of Joe's eyes upon him - and during these moments he smiled. At least Joe thought he did. He couldn't see the Immortal's mouth to be sure of his expression, and merely saw the changes in those weirdly illuminated eyes.
They landed in the middle of the afternoon, in a secluded airport baked in orange-yellow sunlight, the tarmac shining under the mist of a recent rainfall. Joe left the aeroplane first, his cane tapping out its rhythm on the ground long before the others were ready to join him. Methos came second, scanning the little airport with watchful eyes. In contrast Kronos seemed almost casual, careless perhaps, an easy swagger in his stride and his hands sunk deeply into his pockets. The sword was tucked under one arm, as though presenting a challenge to anyone who might dare try to take it away. No one did. The airport appeared to be un-staffed, with nobody to take their passports or check their luggage. Joe felt almost preposterously secretive; like some secret agent creeping into Europe at the height of the Cold War.
"Where are we going?" Outside the airport there was a road, the traffic thin and irregular. There was no sign of a bus-stop, or even a stray taxi amongst the sporadically passing cars.
"Over there." Methos did not bother pointing. A car was parked at the side of the road, the windows open as though in readiness. It was a blue car, old but well-maintained, a crooked luggage rack bolted to the roof. Methos quickened his step without saying another word, and threw his well-stuffed rucksack on top. Joe followed suit with his own small bag, tying on a pair of elastic straps to keep everything in place. Kronos had no luggage save his sword, not that that seemed to stop him changing his clothes whenever he felt like it.
"You have friends here?" Joe didn't know why he was surprised - after all, Methos had known the telephone number of the air charter company by heart, and had had no problems getting them a flight to Greece at such short notice. The car was a surprise though, parked in waiting for them, with the keys in the ignition. Methos slid behind the wheel.
"Friends? Me?" He started up the engine before the other two were even in the car, and Joe hurried to scramble into the back. Kronos, as usual, was more leisurely, staring out of the passenger window as he climbed into the car.
"Leon?" he asked lazily, apparently fascinated with the passage past their car of a gaggle of local girls, all aged about twenty to twenty-five. They were dressed in loose clothing, and carried brightly coloured bags.
"Leon?" Methos sounded surprised. "No. A local family. Mortals. I've known them some years." He smiled, drawn back through the centuries. "Leon died last spring. He lost his head to a young Immortal named Finnigan. Australian I think."
"Oh." There was no emotion in the short word, but Kronos did at least turn his eyes away from the passing girls. "And what happened to Finnigan?"
"I heard he was killed a few months ago by a man named Robert de Valincourt. Friend of MacLeod's." Methos shrugged. "Does it matter?"
"It might do." A tight smile flickered its merry way through Kronos' eyes. "I think I know Robert de Valincourt. He has a longstanding wife who likes to play games."
"Very likely." Methos refused to be drawn, and instead glanced at Joe in the rear view mirror. "Comfortable?"
"Just get us to wherever we're going." Dawson leaned back in the seat, aware of every bump in the road as they drove along. Perhaps the car was not as well-maintained as its outward appearance had suggested. "Do I ask about Leon, or does it all get explained eventually anyway?"
"Old friend." Kronos was also looking at him in the rear view mirror, his watchful eyes as unnerving as ever. "We met him in about 100 AD."
"He tried to kill us." Methos smiled again, although his eyes were disturbingly distant.
"He was married to a mortal with six daughters." Kronos also looked distant, but less disturbingly so. "The eldest was named Rosetta, and the youngest Annabella."
"And you slept with them all I suppose." Joe put just enough distaste into his voice to make his feelings quite clear. Kronos allowed himself a little smile, and his eyes, once again fastened on Joe's via the mirror, gleamed with their familiar incendiary humour.
"No. But I killed three." He turned away, watching the scenery travel past the window. "Not far from here. One of the others went mad, and jumped off the cliff you can just see over there." He pointed, and Joe found himself looking despite his disgust. He could see the cliff, clear and cold against the bright blue of the sky. There was a smile in Kronos' voice as he continued his narrative.
"We had to identify her by her jewellery. Not that there were any other means back then of course. Not really. No forensics, no dental records, no fingerprints... She was a mess. The birds ate most of what was left, before any human had a chance to get close to her."
"That's enough, Kronos." Either Methos was not enjoying the story himself, or he was aware of Joe's discomfort. Kronos did not seem the slightest bit perturbed.
"Happy days." He leaned back in his seat, and let one arm trail out of the open window. Joe found himself wishing that one of the trees growing at the side of the road would loom closer and lop off the black-clad limb. "All before Duncan MacLeod started spreading his message of sweetness and light across every corner of the planet - even before that pretty boy cousin of his started his own peculiar crusade."
"I thought you liked Connor." Methos sounded distracted, although that might have been due to his concentration on driving. Kronos laughed.
"I like everybody." His arms moved in an expansive gesture. "Everybody in the whole wide world." He grinned into the rear view mirror, his pale eyes somehow capturing Joe's gaze even though the mortal wanted to be looking anywhere but towards him. "The whole world is my friend, just like Joe here. Everybody loves a Horseman. Everybody aspires to be evil."
"No they don't." Joe glared as hard as he could, but his own soft and friendly eyes could not even begin to match the ice in Kronos' face. The Immortal grinned back at him, the real openness and warmth in his expression startling Dawson enough to make him frown and falter, and then look away. He heard an echo of laughter, and scowled.
"Where are we going?" he asked, for the second time in what felt like as many minutes - but was probably a very great deal longer. Methos shrugged.
"I have no idea actually. I was rather hoping something would turn up."
"I don't know. The Involution are sure to know that we're here by now - at least they will if they're as good as they keep making themselves out to be. They may well get in touch - one way or another."
"You're not suggesting that we drive around until somebody tries to force us off the road?" Somehow this plan seemed full of holes. Methos shrugged.
"That wouldn't be ideal, no."
"But it would be effective." Kronos was settling himself down as though for sleep, which presumably even he needed to do occasionally. Joe had been about ready to believe that the Immortal had no such requirements, being apparently somewhat less than human. "Although not as effective as strolling up to the front door of Involution Headquarters, and demanding to see Anthony Geddes."
"Who?" Methos and Joe asked the question at almost exactly the same time. Kronos smiled his lazy smile.
"Anthony Geddes. Local dignitary, in Involution circles at least. Runs this end of the operation." He raised an eyebrow at the stupefied silence. "What?"
"You said you'd never heard of the Involution." Methos was glaring at him, no longer seeming to pay much attention either to the road or to the other traffic. It was only Kronos who noticed the black car gliding along some distance behind them; but not having seen it before he did not think much about it.
"I hadn't, except for what little I knew from Mr Kerensky's scrambled brain circuits. I do know Anthony Geddes though. The Involution may have taken refuge behind the Iron Curtain, but in case you hadn't noticed, Greece managed to stay on the other side of that daft little barrier. The dealings and goings-on in this part of the world have been common knowledge to all kinds of people for a very long time. I'm surprised that the Watchers didn't put two and two together." He straightened up again, all trace of a desire for sleep gone. Joe, who was stiff and exhausted after the long flight, felt positively jealous. "I met Geddes a couple of times; even worked with him once. He had connections in a lot of interesting places, and I suppose he had no idea who I was - or what I was. I certainly didn't know about him, although I confess to having noticed his tattoo. I assumed he was part of some obscure branch of the Watchers. They have tentacles all over the known world, as you'll no doubt remember." He frowned slightly. "It's a pity. I got on rather well with him. Killing him will be almost a shame."
"Why didn't you tell us any of this earlier?" Frustrated, Methos took his eyes off the road altogether in order to glare at his brother more properly. Kronos merely flashed him yet another of his deeply innocent, lazily satisfied grins.
"I like to wait for the most appropriate moment." He frowned suddenly, the play boy veneer vanishing from his face. "That car behind us has North American licence plates."
"Don't change the subject." Joe wanted to hear more about Anthony Geddes, but neither Methos nor Kronos seemed to be listening. Methos was staring at the black car that was visible to their rear. His brows knitted together into a grim frown.
"Him again. He's been following us around since Daniel died. Maybe even before then."
"Immortal?" Joe turned around rather awkwardly in his seat, to get a better look at the car in question. It slid a little closer, as though in answer, and both Methos and Kronos tensed noticeably. "I'll take that as a yes."
"I think it was him that we sensed back at the apartment." Methos was frowning. "I've been feeling an Immortal presence at odd moments for a couple of months, but to be honest I'd just assumed it was you." He glared at Kronos, as though this was somehow his fault.
"I think we can assume he's connected with the Involution." Kronos gestured to his sword, lying on the floor at his feet. "Ambush?"
"No. Leave him where he is. He can spy to his heart's content." Methos turned his back on the other car, as once again it slipped back into the distance, and the feeling of Immortal presence faded away. "We were talking about your friend Geddes."
"I can't say for certain where Involution HQ are, but I do know where he used to conduct his affairs." Kronos sounded businesslike now, the teasing and playful amusement gone from his face and his voice. Once again the icy cold had returned to his blue eyes, and Joe felt a chill run down his spine. Never before had he so longed for the fellowship of Duncan MacLeod.
"Fine." Methos' own voice mirrored that of his brother, and for a brief second, as both Immortals glanced up into the rear view mirror, Joe saw the same gleam in both pairs of eyes. It was glacial and resolute; hard and unequivocally heartless; and it made his blood run cold. He turned away, and stared out of the window instead. In the front of the car Methos had begun to smile, although the warmth of his expression did little to thaw the cruel glint in his eyes. "Then I think we have a plan."
Costas Reuben did little more than raise an eyebrow in mild surprise when the computerised security systems blared their alarms in response to the presence of intruders. Having finally gained access to the computer-zone, with all its ranks of equipment and single-purposed users, his attempts to discover the secrets of the Nemesis Project had met with complete failure. Not one of the grey suited technicians spoke to him, and not one pair of dark and determined eyes lifted from the computer screens long enough to even see who he was, let alone check his security clearance. Thomas, the scrawny redhead who so undeservingly had the ear of their illustrious leader, was sprawled in a corner on his coffee break, a mug in one hand and a well-stuffed bread roll in the other. Costas did not bother passing on Geddes' request to speak to him. Perhaps he would get lucky, and Thomas would lose favour with his infuriating uncle.
"What's going on?" Raising his voice above the blare of the sirens, Thomas dropped his mug and his roll and finally made it to his feet. His watery eyes gaped at the darkened computer-zone, looking for explanations in the flashing screens. Costas felt a burst of envy. The screens meant nothing to him, with their reams of marching figures and their winking, blinking symbols. He had always meant to take a computer course. Didn't everyone? It was just that there was so much else to do... He glared at the nearest technician, and feigned a look of complete comprehension.
"Intruders you fool." That much he did understand, and it was a relief to be able to look as though he knew more than young Thomas. He watched a couple of the technicians typing unintelligible commands into their computers at a speed that made their fingers little more than a blur against the keys. The huge main-screen at the front of the room blurred, blinked and finally changed, abandoning its usual image of the rose and violet Involution battle flag. In its place were three men, walking away from an ageing blue car that sported four mis-matched wheels and a crooked luggage rack. The car looked as though it belonged to a group of tourists, but the men themselves were certainly not the tourist type.
"Who are they?" Thomas was standing next to Costas now, deferring to his greater experience in a manner that actually touched Reuben's sense of pride. His demeanour softened noticeably, although his voice still carried a clear note of his ever-present disdain.
"Who do you think? Haven't you read the briefings? Seen your uncle's reports?" He scowled. "I wasn't expecting them so soon."
"The enemy?" Thomas looked even paler than usual. "How did they find us so quickly?"
"Does that matter?" Rubbing his brow in thought, Reuben sighed and reached for the radio clipped to his belt. His second-in-command answered immediately, almost before Costas had spoken.
"Best get mobilised, Andros." Costas had the distinct feeling that things were not going to go well, although he had no idea where such a suspicion had come from. "We have guests."
"How many, sir?" Andros Thane, who had been a member of the Involution since birth, showed not so much as a flicker of emotion. Costas couldn't help smiling. Such a reaction was a hearty improvement on the confused toings-and-froings of the computer-zone staff.
"Just three. But best be careful, and assume that it's at least twice that number. These three are no ordinary intruders."
"In that case the men will be ready and waiting." A burst of static told him that Andros had signed off. Thomas swallowed hard.
"I'd better get to Uncle-- I mean, I'd better get to Mr Geddes." He straightened his clothes, and tried not to look as though he was terrified of walking the corridors alone. "Hadn't I?"
"I rather think he'd be better served by you staying here." Trying not to sound too disparaging, Costas saw a plan and clung to it. "Get together all of the data on Project Nemesis, and take it to the security section. It should be protected."
"Yes sir. Of course." Delighted with the assignment, Thomas scuttled off. Costas smiled to himself. Some things were far too easy. He raised a hand in mock salute to the three intruders still marching purposefully across the huge main-screen. "My compliments, gentlemen. Now perhaps you would be good enough to step inside?"
"Do you think they know we're here?" Staring up at the sign above the small, flimsy-looking chipboard door before them, Joe tried to remember the basic Greek he had once learnt, what seemed like a frighteningly long time ago. He recalled a trip to the Mediterranean during his college years; a month spent swimming and fishing and generally getting absolutely no work done, with a group of friends on the same course. He distinctly remembered, he now found to his surprise, the Greek for 'How about coming back to my place?' - but that seemed to be about his limit.
"If this place really is Involution Headquarters - which I somehow doubt - then I'd say yes, they do know." Methos gestured at the sign. "But since this appears to be an office for a boat-hiring firm, I'd say that nobody even cares that we're here. It looks like this place hasn't done any business since the turn of the last century."
"Or even the one before that." Joe tested the door, but it stood surprisingly firm. "I suppose if anybody asks we can always say that we're interested in hiring a boat." He stole a quick look at his two companions as he said this, and almost had to suppress a smile. The chances of anybody believing that they were tourists were practically nil.
"This isn't a boat hiring firm." Kronos unsheathed his sword, and with a clean blow knocked the rusting padlock from the door handle. "Geddes used it as a place to store stolen goods. Weapons mostly."
"Well there's nothing in here now." Peering in through the door of the office Methos saw only a dust-filled room, hung with cobwebs and the occasional broken or dangling beam. A bird's nest rested in the doorframe above his head, and he heard the startled squawk of its angry feathered occupant. Kronos pushed past.
"On the surface, so it would appear." He brushed aside some of the hanging cobwebs, paying no attention at all to the large spiders that dropped down from above. Joe followed him inside, feeling considerably less confident about tackling these hairy occupants.
"You think there's something we're missing?" He dodged a cobweb, and had to dodge again immediately to avoid concussing himself on a large chunk of wood that had broken free from its colleagues in the ceiling. "Nobody's been here in years, so there can't be a secret passage."
"This place used to be run as a proper working office. The chances of it being the main point of entrance to some secret network of passages are very slight." Kronos was running his hands over the dusty walls, clearly searching for something. "But there might be a back entrance in here somewhere. An escape route maybe, or even just a fire exit. This country was under German control during much of the Second World War, don't forget that. And wherever in the world there was occupation, there are also tunnels, chambers and secret places. If the Involution survived here under military rule both during and after the war, they must have access to places like that."
"He does know what he's talking about." Methos flashed Joe a smile that the mortal felt unable to resist. Even Kronos smiled.
"I don't want your compliments, brother. I want your assistance." He waved an arm about the room. "There's a hatch here somewhere. I know it. So stop talking, and help me find it."
"Under all this dust and rubble? It could take days." Joe made his way across the obstacle-filled floor, finding it awkward just to keep his feet. "What a place. It reminds me of the cellar at the club."
"Only without the beer." Methos punched the nearest wall, which answered with the dull thud of a structure eaten away by damp and rot. A large cobweb showered him with dust, and he coughed. "Yuck."
"You two are about as useful as Silas and Caspian." Kronos caught up a heavy piece of wood, and swung it at the wall like a club. There was no sign of success. "You have no finesse, and no commitment. At least Silas had strength."
"I'll take that as an insult." Emerging at last from beneath the curtains of dust, Methos spluttered this reply as he set about brushing off his clothes. To his surprise, he found Kronos helping him.
"It was supposed to be taken that way." He sighed, and had to cough as the rising spirals of dust began to choke him. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all."
"Kronos admitting he might have made a mistake?" Methos grinned, and Kronos glared at him. "We're present at a great moment, Joe. Maybe death was good for you brother. It's taught you a little humility."
"Although it comes a little prematurely." The voice came from somewhere behind them, where there appeared to be nothing save a black, damp-ridden wall. "Why give up so soon? Not every tunnel can be found with brute force."
"Uh oh." Joe limped over to his comrades, face pale under his beard. "Why do I think we should be retreating?"
"Something tells me we're a little late." Stepping towards the wall Methos glanced over it, searching for some kind of switch. He heard a disembodied laugh.
"Can't find out where I am? Too bad. One point to the mortals, I think." With a loud grating sound the wall slid away, revealing a deep, dark tunnel lined with glass-shielded candles. Shadows danced and played, but there was no sign of any people. Methos frowned, and felt his hand creep to the hilt of his sword. Behind him a voice rang out.
"I don't think you'll be needing your weapons, do you?" He swung around. Stepping nonchalantly over the threshold of the dusty little office came a man, gun in hand, though casually held. This quietly composed newcomer glanced about at the threesome in the room, an arrogant smile illuminating his dark eyes. He was dressed in an immaculate uniform of grey and navy, with a rose and violet badge on the lapel, and the gun in his hand looked like the equipment of a professional. He straightened his collar as he stepped into the room, and then gestured behind him. Six or seven other men, similarly dressed and armed, stood just outside the door. The threat was clear. "My name Is Andros Thane, Involution Security, and I'd appreciate your surrender. If you'd be so kind."
"Do we have a choice?" Methos looked towards the other men outside the door, and wondered what Joe's chances would be in a battle. Given that Thane seemed all too aware of Dawson's status as a fellow mortal, and had already singled him out with his gun, those chances didn't seem too high. He forced his hand to relax and stay away from his sword.
"No choice." Andros sauntered closer, the swagger in his stride carefully calculated. Methos got the impression that there was nothing swaggering about this man at all; only professionalism and pride gleamed in his eyes, and the saunter was entirely for effect. "Just surrender." He glanced across at Kronos, who seemed on the verge of precipitate action. "For all of you."
"Not now, Kronos." Methos put out a hand, just far enough to touch his brother's shoulder. He felt the muscles hard and tense beneath the skin, but recognised the beginnings of a measured amount of relaxation. He almost smiled. They still understood one another, even after all this time. They still moved as a single unit. Andros nodded.
"Thankyou. Now shall we make our move?" He gestured to the tunnel entrance, where more grey- and navy-clad soldiers had arrived. They all carried guns. In their midst was a large man who seemed disturbingly familiar, from his powerful build to the glow of his dark eyes beneath their snow-white lashes. He clearly held some seniority, and took the lead without a word as the little party fell in behind him. Methos felt hard rock beneath his feet, and wondered when this tunnel had been built - and where it led. He heard the uncertain sound of Joe's cane on the ground just ahead of him, and adjusted his speed to be ready in case the mortal got into difficulties - not that he was expecting any. Dawson was almost as nimble on his false legs as many men were on their natural ones; but all the same, the Immortal remained on his guard. There was Kronos to watch out for too, lurking just behind him, his breathing so soft as to be practically indistinct. Methos could feel his brother's unease, and his desire for decisive violence, but he knew that Kronos was not fool enough to cause a scene here. They had not yet been disarmed, and they had to hope that there would be better opportunities for action. The cramped quarters of the tunnel would not assist them if they tried to make a fight of it here.
"Just keep walking." Methos could not see Andros Thane, but he knew the man's voice, and knew that he was close by. Kronos knew it too, and his fingers itched to draw his sword and cause a little chaos. Thane wouldn't be so smug when his head was rolling down the tunnel, and his immaculately uniformed men were dying around him. He kept a check on his anger though, and focussed instead on the rough passage, and the possibilities of what might lie ahead. The gentle sounds of his brother's breathing calmed him, kept him steady. He knew what he was capable of - and for now he was prepared to let that be enough.
The tunnel opened out into a large room almost before the little party had had time to adjust to the limited light and the uneven terrain. There were more guards waiting there, and although they had their weapons still holstered, they seemed as much of a threat as the more obviously armed men bringing up the rear of the procession. Methos, Kronos and Joe were directed through a doorway, along a short length of smooth, well-lit corridor, and through another door into a warm, carpeted office. There was a large desk by one wall, and a window that opened out onto a view of a steep cliff, with a pounding, furious looking sea far below. The office, despite clearly being cut into the cliff wall, bore all the comforts of any more ordinary room. The carpet was thick and looked new; the desk was leather-topped and beautifully made; there was even a mini-bar pushed against the wall opposite. On a series of shelves of gleaming glass and chrome, many small bottles were arranged, the soft, warm light of the room reflecting on them and through them, and illuminating the many different colours of liquid inside. Methos wondered if they had any beer here, or if it was all just fancy wines and spirits.
"Hello." Speaking barely-accented English with a rich and amicable tone, a man stepped into the room just behind them. He waved an arm and most of the guards disappeared, leaving only Thane and two or three others. Kronos stepped forward, as oblivious to the guards as he invariably was on such occasions. Thane raised his gun in warning, but a sign from the new arrival made him step back once again. He made no sound, and merely slid into the rear to watch the proceedings. Methos wished that he would stand somewhere where he was easier to see.
"Anthony." There was no warmth in Kronos' voice; but then there was no ice either. Instead he spoke in a measured tone that was almost entirely indifferent. The new arrival smiled, strolling closer with a casual ease and grace that almost mirrored Kronos' own. Methos got his first look at him then; a tall man with the build of someone who took his figure very seriously, training not so much for strength and fitness as for health and general vanity. Thick dark hair carrying scatterings of silver made him look like a soap star, especially with his dark complexion and impossibly good looks. He was dressed expensively in a suit of dark grey, with a pale blue shirt evidently designed to compliment the bright blue tie knotted neatly about his throat. The tie matched his eyes exactly, as did the gleaming blue stone in a silver band he wore on the ring finger of his right hand. As he lowered himself gracefully to sit on the edge of his desk, Methos could not help noticing that he wore socks of that same, matching shade of blue, and that his shoes were made by Gucci.
"Jack." His smile grew a little wider, showing perfect white teeth that flashed nearly as noticeably as the bottles on the other side of the room. "How are you?"
"Fine." Kronos let one hand rest on the hilt of his sword. "If a little displeased."
"Ah, yes. Well you see you were wandering around in a restricted area. I can't allow that." Geddes narrowed his eyes slightly, looking past his old associate to the other two prisoners. "I presume I have the pleasure of addressing Joe Dawson? And... Methos?"
"If it's that much of a pleasure, we're doing our job wrong." Methos couldn't summon a smile, despite their host's unfailingly pleasant manner. He really did look as though he belonged straight out of the cast of Dallas or Dynasty, and the wide, white smile was doing little to alter that impression. Geddes' smile widened to its limit, and his warm blue eyes crinkled in the corners.
"Quite. You know, it really is fascinating to meet somebody so very famous. So very... distinguished. Here I am, the local welcoming three foreigners, whereas in actual fact you probably know more about this country than I do. I imagine you've spent a lot of time here in the past?" His eyes slid across to look once more at Kronos. "And you, Jack. You've been holding out on me."
"I could say the same of you." The icy blue eyes gazed steadily at their warmer, brighter counterparts, and neither man showed the slightest flicker of a change of expression. "Anthony Geddes - fence, terrorist, arms dealer... You never said anything about being a part of the Involution."
"No, but then you never told me that you were four thousand years old, and once held much of the known world in your thrall. I don't think it's hard to decide which is the biggest secret." Geddes shrugged. "Anyway, it doesn't matter. We both know the truth now."
"Yes, we do." The soft tone should have been warning enough that Kronos was not prepared to resume any friendship that the pair might once have enjoyed - and if it wasn't, the glimmer of unspeakable cruelty in the pale blue eyes was certainly more than clue enough. For the first time, a flicker of doubt crossed Geddes' face, and his smile slid down a notch or two, hovering uncertainly.
"It doesn't matter." He stood up, pausing as though considering moving closer to his prisoners, then changed his mind and went around to sit behind the desk. "You'll have to stay here for a while I'm afraid. I can't have too many people running around in the world who know as much as you do. Especially people who are as directly involved in my plans as you. All of you." His eyes strayed once again over the little group. "Where's Duncan MacLeod? Did he come here with you?"
"MacLeod?" Kronos made no attempt to hide his distaste, and his feelings were clear in the way that he spoke the name. "Why would he be with us?"
"Oh, I don't know. I thought the pair of you might have buried the hatchet." A tight smile suggested at a kind of sarcastic humour. "With people as insufferably good-natured as MacLeod, that's always a possibility - unfortunately."
"Oh don't you worry about that." Unable to keep the dislike from his voice, Methos stepped forward, standing close enough to the desk to make Thane and his men murmur in warning. Geddes waved a hand as though to keep them calm. A curling smile of distaste twisted Methos' words as well as his face. "You've done enough to make sure that MacLeod never even speaks to us again, much less tries to help us. And don't pretend that you know nothing about that."
"Why would I?" Waving vaguely in the air with one hand, Geddes leaned back slightly to put a little more space between himself and Methos. His warm blue eyes smiled infuriatingly. "I'm actually quite proud of that little manoeuvre. Splitting up the Dream Team. Keeping MacLeod and his friends apart. Together, you could present me with quite an obstacle - but apart I'm willing to believe that I can deal with all of you, as and when the time comes."
"That's what your Polish colleagues thought," Joe told him, coming closer to stand alongside Methos. Geddes smiled at him.
"Is it really. Well you see my Polish colleagues have one or two shortcomings. They lack vision, they lack imagination, and more importantly they lack my limitless wealth and resources." He smiled more broadly. "And they lack me. I don't pretend to care about their interests in you. Suffice to say that they helped point me in the right direction to a certain extent... whilst showing me a few very definite weak points that needed strengthening. Anything that you encountered in Poland is child's play compared to my plans. Of that I can assure you."
"Lucky us." Methos glanced at Kronos, who had been silent since the issue of MacLeod had been raised. "Of course we could be lying. MacLeod could be arriving in the country even now, with an army of Immortals ready to do our bidding. If the Watchers are unpopular amongst those of our kind who know about them... just imagine how much more unpopular your lot would be. It wouldn't be hard to get an army together; not with MacLeod's reputation."
"Maybe, maybe not. It's not important now." Geddes stood up rather suddenly. "You can fish all you like, Methos. I'm not going to tell you any more about my plans."
"Maybe you don't need to." Kronos spoke with his usual soft, faintly dramatic tones. "Maybe we already know all we need."
"Maybe you do." If he was at all fazed by the cool eyes and even cooler expression, Geddes did not show it. Instead he signalled to Thane and the others. "Take them away. Make them secure in the guest quarters, and then get back to whatever is you do around here. I have things to be getting on with."
"Anything we can assist?" The gently mocking humour in Kronos' eyes suggested that at one time he might have assisted Geddes with all kinds of things. The Involution leader smiled back.
"Not this time." He gave a little shrug. "Still, it doesn't matter. Everything will be ready soon enough, and then maybe you can help me with the final details. I'm sure you won't need much persuading to help lure Duncan MacLeod to his doom."
"Very likely not." A gun pressed into Kronos' side, suggesting that it was time he began moving towards the door. He ignored it. "But then, perhaps you were right, and he and I have buried the hatchet. Perhaps we'd die for each other."
"Unlikely." Once again, a faint shadow of doubt flickered across Geddes' perfect, soap hero countenance. "But then if you are happy to die... we're all happy to help you. So don't go trying to be too heroic."
"Me?" The cold, cruel smile carried undertones of gentle amusement. "I'm not the heroic type."
"I know." This time Geddes' smile did desert him, and the gun pressed harder into the Immortal's ribs, as though the attendant guard had picked up on the same unspoken threat Geddes himself seemed to be reacting to. "Which is precisely what makes you such an unpredictable pain in the neck." He nodded to the guard trying to pressure Kronos forward, and an iron-hard hand closed on the Immortal's shoulder. Thus compelled, Kronos was escorted from the room. A long stretch of corridor awaited, and a series of doors that opened at the touch of Thane's electronic key. Methos tried to speak up during this trek, but the sudden jabbing of a gun barrel in his ribs discouraged him, and he lapsed into silence. Up ahead a small rocky chamber loomed.
"This way." Thane strode across the chamber, opening a large, heavy-looking wooden door set in the far wall. He gestured with his gun, and one by one the three prisoners crossed the threshold into the room beyond. Thane's quietly confident smile followed them in, and then the door clanged shut behind them. Methos glanced about without cheer.
"Great." The room was roughly square, high-ceilinged and grey, and cut, as was the rest of the complex, from solid stone. It was utterly featureless save for a series of shelves cut into the walls at shoulder-height, which on closer inspection proved to be bunks. Each one held a thin mattress that appeared to be stuffed with straw, and was covered with a plain grey blanket of material that felt much like sackcloth. There were no windows, no obvious sources of light, and only one small vent for the passage of fresh air. This latter was far above their heads, and was too small to provide them with the means for escape even if they had been able to reach it. Methos had no doubt that the metal grid covering the outlet was electrified, and he was positively certain that the door was. On their side it bore a covering of metal, and there was a faint hum just audible if he stood close enough. He scowled even more deeply, and pulled himself up onto the nearest bunk.
"Just bloody great."
"We'll get out of here." Joe sounded convinced, which was probably more to do with their previous good luck than their current fortunes. Always in the past they had seemed able to escape, either through chance or through a remarkable lack of foresight on the part of their enemies. More often than not though, it had been as a result of MacLeod's presence - and that was something that they definitely didn't have this time around. Glancing across at his brother, Methos raised an eyebrow.
"No." The word was delivered with enough force to rule out additional conversation. Methos sighed heavily, and leaned back into the dubious embrace of his rocky and uncomfortable bunk. He glared up at the ceiling, as though it were to blame for his misfortunes, and then sighed again with even greater feeling.
The threesome were clearly visible on the monitor screen in the security section. Costas gestured up at them, glancing back at his quietly professional deputy, Andros Thane.
"Don't look like much, do they."
"They certainly don't look like fabled warriors, no." Stepping forward, Andros regarded the screen in silence for a few moments, and then glanced back at his boss. "The tall skinny one. Is he really the oldest man alive?"
"So they say." Costas stretched out his legs, leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head, and frowned contemplatively up at the screen. Methos was lying on a bunk, Joe was leaning against a wall, and Kronos was standing in the middle of the floor with his arms folded. He seemed to be planning something, but Costas didn't let that worry him - yet. "That 'tall skinny one' is Methos, reputed to have been born sometime around 3000 BC. Maybe you should talk to him - I imagine that he saw your beloved home town in all its pre-Roman heroic glory. Probably met a few historical figures in his time too." He gave a brief laugh. "Maybe he was a few historical figures. For all we know, he's Socrates."
"I doubt that." Andros thought back to some of the pictures, and had to wonder just how accurate they had been. The thought that the great Socrates might have been a spindly Englishman - or apparent Englishman at any rate - with a childish pout and all the presence of a geeky schoolboy was enough to hurt his cultural pride. Instead of dwelling on the possibility any longer he nodded at Kronos. "What about that one? Kronos?"
"Kronos," Costas confirmed, his eyes narrowing. "Now there's an entirely different kettle of fish. He was supposedly killed, but just last year Methos somehow resurrected him - or so the story goes. I don't believe a word of it myself." He shrugged. "Either way, he's an odd one. A thousand years younger than Methos, give or take a century; and reputed to have a heart as cold as ice. They say he used to kill people for sport; that he hunted them down the way others hunt deer. Legend has it that he was the Leader of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
"Then I hope the other stories are wrong." Andros smiled rather grimly. "I don't know that it bodes well for the world if we start the year two thousand with the resurrection of one of the Horsemen. All the predictions..."
"You're not honestly telling me that you believe all that?" Costas shook his head, smiling all the while. "You're the best soldier I've ever produced, Andros. You could run the Involution one day, once we've got rid of that pretty boy Geddes. And yet you still believe in half-baked tales about the end of the world."
"I like to keep my options open." Andros shrugged sheepishly. "But then looking at people like that, it makes it harder to believe in such things. I'll admit that the little one looks like he might be capable of - of..." He shrugged, unable to find words for the man's peculiar presence. "But to think that he might be part of a legend that made it into practically every culture, mythology and religion on the planet... That's just crazy."
"I'm glad you think so." Costas turned his attention back to the screen. He didn't really even see the point of keeping the three of them caged up. If Methos was to blame for Daniel's death, there were better ways to get revenge than allowing him to track them this far, and then locking him away. Costas couldn't believe that such a nondescript individual really was responsible for his son's death. Slumped on his bunk, Methos didn't even begin to look like a warrior, let alone any kind of killer. Perhaps it was the faded blue jeans and the creased and wrinkled grey shirt - several sizes too big - both of which looked as though they had never met an iron; or perhaps it was the battered blue knee-length jacket that looked older than he did. Even though he was wearing a sword, buckled around his waist the way warriors had always worn their weapons in the past, still he looked more like an overgrown schoolboy playing an ill-suited rôle. Kronos, legendary warrior though he might be, hardly added to the notion of ancient skill and sinister repute. Dressed from head to toe in black he presented a better image than his colleague, but the black jeans and T-shirt, with its crudely hacked off sleeves, somehow belonged more to the world of teenage rebellion than the world of ancient warriors. The black leather jacket didn't help much, with its painted skull emblazoned on the back, complete with crossed swords. Less enemy of mortality, more surly biker. Even the sword, gleaming in the half-light from its place on his belt, didn't add much to the illusion. Joe Dawson, clearly exhausted, his face pale and his grey beard looking decidedly unkempt, added even less. There were lines around his eyes caused by worry - probably, thought Costas, for Duncan MacLeod - and his constant firm grip on his cane seemed to add years to his tired frame. The watching soldier shifted his position on his chair, and narrowed his eyes. All a lot of fuss over nothing, as far as he could see. Unless, of course, there was rather more going on than he had been told. He straightened slowly up in his seat, then rose and went to stand by Thane's side. His young deputy slid into a more formal stance, but his eyes never left the monitor screen.
"Andros..." Keeping one eye on the door and the other on the security monitor showing him the corridor outside it, Costas lowered his voice to a confidential level and tried not to sound too interested. "What do you know about Project Nemesis?"
"As much as everybody else, sir." Thane's voice suggested that he was frowning, although Costas did not bother to look at him to find out. "It's why Daniel went to America. Something to do with revenge for past misdeeds against the Involution."
"That's what Geddes is telling everybody. It's certainly what he's told the other HQs, in Poland and Kazakhstan. I can't help thinking that there's something more going on. You know there's an operative who was assigned to follow Methos around?"
"He was sent to America, yes." Thane nodded, for the first time letting his eyes stray from the monitor screen displaying the inside of the prison. He was surprised to discover that his commander was focussed intently on the search for possible eavesdroppers. "He's been reporting back on events in Seacouver."
"Yes, he has. But is that all he's been reporting on?"
"You think there's something else?"
"I'm beginning to imagine so, yes. Would you bother locking those three up otherwise? What possible threat can they pose to us? And why all this bother about splitting them up? There are better ways to get your revenge on a man than making his friends desert him. Plus there's the fact that this man was sent to America to watch Methos in the first place. Daniel didn't need his help, and he turned out to be no help at all anyway. Didn't save Daniel's life, did he. What did he have to go out there for? Why did he have to go and watch Methos, and report on his situation with MacLeod? What the hell is the point of it?"
"I'm sure that Mr Geddes has his reasons, sir." Andros had narrowed his eyes, and Costas harrumphed loudly.
"I don't doubt it. It's what those reasons are that interests me. No, he's up to something. And I aim to find out what."
"Have you tried to pull the records on Project Nemesis from the computers?" Andros sounded intrigued, reacting to the suggestion of a puzzle in just the way that Costas had trained him to. The security leader shook his head.
"That stuff is all gobbledegook to me. I can't figure my way past the keyboard, let alone the rest of a computer. Plus that little sneak Thomas is always hanging around in there, steering people away as soon as I get talking to them. I think Geddes has told his nephew everything, and they both know I want to find out more."
"The computers are no problem sir. I have a friend who lets me have access to her terminal every so often, and I've been learning more in my spare time. I'm getting fairly good at cracking Mr Geddes' encryption codes." He flushed slightly, and immediately looked years younger. "I thought it might come in handy one day."
"There's no need to explain yourself to me, son." Costas clapped him on the shoulder. "You get onto it. I had Thomas bring all the data down here when our Three Musketeers turned up, and he doesn't seem to have remembered about it yet." He nodded at a strongbox on the desk nearby. Opening the electronic lock had been child's play, but after being confronted with the six compact discs that were stored inside, his confidence had failed him. He didn't have a clue what to do next. Andros flicked through the discs, selecting one apparently at random, and slid it into the suddenly responsive computer nearby. Costas, who so far hadn't even managed to get the recalcitrant machine to let him log on, raised an eyebrow in admiration. He was less admiring, however, at the streams of gibberish that filled the screen seconds later. Andros scowled, and lowered himself into the chair in front of the screen.
"The encryption code is a little different to the ones I've dealt with before." He tapped hopefully at the keyboard. "There are some other things built in... fail-safes I think." He shrugged. "I don't know the technical terms. My knowledge is practical, not theoretical."
"Just do what you can." Enthralled, Costas was no longer paying any attention to the screen monitoring the prison section. Instead he leaned over his deputy's shoulder, frowning intently as large sections of nonsense began resolving themselves into readable text. He grinned, and beside him Andros mirrored his expression.
"Is this any good, sir?" He scanned the text himself as he slid out of the chair and let his superior take his place. Costas nodded, a little distracted by what he was reading.
"I think so. These are transcripts of the conversations our illustrious leader has had with his man in Seacouver. There are copies of the reports he's sent back... Look at this. He's been watching Methos since January."
"Ever since Daniel made contact." Andros scowled. "I'm inclined to agree with you sir. It all seems rather like overkill for a simple payback mission. And look at the details here. All kinds of information about Duncan MacLeod - and he wasn't the one Daniel was sent out to deal with. He was a minor player in that mission, and yet here he's almost made out to be the most important part."
"It looks that way, doesn't it." Costas began tapping irritably on the surface of the desk. "And if there is something going on, why the hell haven't I been told about it? I'm supposed to be head of security."
"You know Geddes." Andros sounded less than impressed with their leader. "He's a glory seeker. He's looking to make a name for himself, and he doesn't want to share that with anybody. That man's got a head bigger than his bank balance." He flushed slightly, as though suddenly remembering that he was talking about a superior. "Er - I mean--"
"Forget it. I agree entirely." Costas sighed heavily. "I'm going to have a little chat with Thomas. I'm sure I can get him to talk to me. The kid's scared of anything bigger than him, which is practically everything around here." He smiled, showing clear signs of anticipation. "Wait here. Don't let anybody see those discs, but keep going through them. See what else you can find. I doubt Geddes will have written everything down, but I want to find out all I can, just in case Thomas proves to be a little harder to crack than I think he will."
"Good luck." Andros turned his attention once again to the computer terminal, sliding into the seat as Costas vacated it. His commander clapped him on the shoulder.
"Thankyou - although it's Thomas who's going to be needing that luck." He turned to head towards the door, pausing before he left to cast one last glance up at the monitor screen above him. He froze. "Oh dear."
"What's wrong?" Instinct made Andros also turn to look at the screen. What he saw made his face pale under his naturally dark skin. The little cell was empty, the open door casting light and shadows into a room that should have been in virtual darkness. He swallowed hard. "But that's impossible..."
"Clearly not." Pausing for a second, Costas raised an eyebrow in a manner that suggested he was considerably less than concerned about this latest development. When he spoke his voice confirmed this attitude, showing a gentle amusement for the situation that startled Andros - but did not surprise him. "Perhaps we should have disarmed them." He smirked. "Get after them, but don't hurt them. I'm going to want to talk to them too. See if you can encourage them to go down the back tunnels, towards the other disused exit. I want them as far away from Geddes as possible."
"Yes sir." Andros turned off the computer monitor, ejected the compact disc, and slid it back into the strongbox with its fellows. He put the box into the safe built into the desk, then raced off to do his commander's bidding. Left alone, Costas wandered closer to the large security monitor, and smiled up at it. The empty cell stared back at him, steadfastly refusing to give up its secrets. Maybe some of the stories he had heard about Methos and Kronos were true after all. The thought made his smile broader still.
"It might not be my place to say anything..." Sarcasm, once again, dripped heavy from Joe Dawson's mouth. "But shouldn't we be heading out of this place, instead of further into it?"
"It's nice of you to acknowledge your place for once." Kronos did not look back as he spoke, and if there had been a smile on his face it was impossible to see. Abruptly Joe quickened his step, seizing the other man by the shoulder and spinning him around. It was surprisingly easy, for Kronos was light and had little in the way of brute strength in his wiry frame.
"Now listen here, tough guy. I've had just about enough of--"
"Joe..." Methos caught hold of his friend's arm. "This really isn't the time."
"Maybe not." Joe slowly relaxed his grip on the dark Immortal, watching him with ill-disguised dislike as he straightened his leather jacket. There was a smirk playing about on Kronos' face, carefully calculated to deepen the mortal's glare. "But I'm going to knock his block off some time soon if he doesn't shut the hell up."
"Just try it, mortal." Kronos' eyes glittered, but his manic posturing had little effect on Joe. The Watcher knew better than to underestimate the Leader of the Horsemen - but in the here and now, with half an army about to discover their escape, he did not feel in the mood to argue. Whether or not Kronos understood this, and regardless of whether he cared, Joe's obvious lack of fear seemed to impress him - or at least that was how Joe chose to interpret the slight change in intensity of that unsettling stare. The pair remained still for several moments, eyes interlocking, before Kronos unexpectedly began to smile. Equally unexpectedly, Joe found that he couldn't help but return the gesture - although despite this sudden thaw, he could not fail to notice that Kronos still waited for him to break the stare first. Shaking his head slightly, Joe limped away down the corridor. He wasn't sure that he understood what had just happened, but he had a feeling that for a moment he had been very close to a messy death. Exactly what had saved him was something upon which he chose not to dwell.
Left behind, Methos glared at Kronos, unmoved by the teasing shine in his brother's bright eyes. It was beginning to come back to him just why he found the younger Immortal so damnably infuriating most of the time. Kronos favoured him with a particularly wicked smile.
"You know what's wrong. Would it hurt you, just once, to try and be nice to somebody for a change? Joe happens to be a very good friend of mine. We've been through a hell of a lot together. That can form bonds, remember?"
"Bonds no one can break." Kronos spoke offhandedly, but there was something in his voice that was anything save offhand. "Especially not mortals."
Methos sighed. So that was it - maybe. "Joe isn't coming between you and me. He's just a friend."
"I didn't say he was coming between us. I said he was a mortal. Just a mortal. At one time you--"
"At one time I wouldn't have cared, no. That's very true Kronos." Methos could concede him that point, because it came with another. "But at one time you'd have killed him long ago, for all of the things he's said to you. And don't tell me that you've left him alive for my sake, because at one time that wouldn't have stopped you either." He allowed himself his own merry smirk. "Now shall we get moving? I'm inclined to side with Joe. We should be looking for a way out of here."
"I want to know what's going on." Kronos made no mention of the accusation that he too was going soft. Instead his eyes glowed like dark embers, and his mouth formed a hard line. "You can leave if you want, but there are things I plan to do here."
"Like having it out with your pal Geddes?"
"Maybe." Kronos turned away, heading off down the corridor after Joe. "We can split up, and you two can look for the surface. It shouldn't be hard, given your sense of direction."
"My sense of direction was never half as good on its own. It always worked best with your instinct to guide it." Methos hesitated, then slowly reached out and put his hand on his brother's shoulder. "Kronos... we haven't really changed that much. Have we?"
"I don't know." An amused smile chased away some of the angry fires in the pale eyes. "But if you care enough to stop here, now, to ask me that question, I guess we haven't changed as much as we think." He let his hand fall on top of his brother's, which was still resting on his shoulder. "So why don't we find a few stray mortals, and see if you still find it easy to hack them to pieces. That should tell us all we want to know."
"You really are a sick bastard, aren't you." Methos pulled away, then gave Kronos a hefty push. "Now get moving." He couldn't hide his smile, despite the force he had tried to put into his words, and he could see that Kronos was smiling too. "I never get this problem with MacLeod."
"How dull your life must be. You have my sympathy."
"Oh go boil your head."
They walked on, the elder Immortal taking the lead, listening out for any sign of Joe. The mortal, however, had clearly been happy to put some distance between himself and the source of his irritation, and seemed to have gone far ahead. As the corridor darkened and the walls became more rocky, somehow Methos found himself in the rear, despite having originally preceded Kronos down the tunnel. He didn't remember his brother passing him, and he frowned at the painted back of the leather jacket up ahead. The glint of faint light on metal told him that the other Immortal had drawn his sword. The tapping of Joe's cane was clearly audible now, scratching on the increasingly uneven floor. Clearly the attempts to make the caves more homely had ceased before this point, which suggested that they were heading for places rarely used. Methos drew his own sword, and despite his mock anger at Kronos, he couldn't help the surge of excitement that came with it. So much for all those years as a virtual pacifist. He could hardly remember what had led him to live that lifestyle now. All those fears - the need to remain alive - still powered through him; but the person he had been when those fears were at their strongest no longer seemed to exist. He smiled in the darkness, and let his sure feet carry him further into the unknown. Quite suddenly he felt a restless desire to let loose with his fearsome blade. The impulse almost made him feel embarrassed by his own violent tendencies. He hissed into the darkness, trusting in Kronos to hear him despite the distance between them.
"Is something wrong?"
"Something up ahead." Such was the certainty and the quiet confidence in the answering voice, that Methos gave no thought to questioning the news. He could hear and see nothing, but he knew enough about his brother's instincts to be sure that he was right.
"Where's Joe? I thought I heard him a second ago."
"He's next to me." Again there was the flash of diminished light on the other Immortal's sword blade. A second later a second voice floated between them, louder than Kronos' hushed tones.
"Can you see anything yet boss?"
"Keep your voice down." Methos recognised the clipped voice of Andros Thane, and he glowered into the shadows. Walking like lambs into a trap barely ten minutes after their escape was not just annoying - it was embarrassing. He tried to creep closer to Kronos and Joe, and wound up thumping into the latter in the darkness. Both had to stifle a grunt. Kronos glared.
"Keep still." His voice was just a hiss. "They're waiting for us. They must have known we'd come this way."
"I thought this was too easy." Methos put enough aggravation into his voice to make it sound as though he blamed Kronos. "They probably closed off the other doors, and made sure we had no other way to go."
"Then we'll make them sorry they ever thought about it." The faint blue light of polished steel reflected, for a brief instant, in the eyes of the younger Immortal, casting shadows and illusions that made the hair on the back of Methos' neck stand up. He shivered, suddenly cold, suddenly hot, suddenly filled with a feverish excitement. He felt his hand raise his own weapon in readiness, and felt his pulse beginning to pound somewhere inside his head. He nodded.
"Ready for what?" Less accustomed to the almost soundless whisper practised by the other two, Joe's voice seemed startlingly loud, even though it was still too quiet for Thane and his men to hear. "If you go down this tunnel you'll walk into a trap."
"It's only a trap if we don't know about it." There was cold resolution in Kronos' voice, and Joe felt glad that he could not see the look in the other man's eyes. He had a feeling that all of the legends he had heard about the Leader of the Horsemen were being confirmed right now in those ice-blue balls of fire now gazing upon him. He managed not to shiver, and turned his attention instead to Methos.
"Are you going along with this? They know who you are. They could kill you."
"Daniel could have killed me. That Immortal they've had tailing us for the past few months could have killed me. I don't think our deaths are at the top of these peoples' lists right now." Methos shook his head. "No, they're not going to be waiting up there with swords."
"Well they probably will be waiting up there with guns." Joe wished that he could glare properly in the darkness; but unlike Kronos he didn't seem to have a knack for catching every available ray of light with his eyes. "I'm not impervious to bullets like some people around here."
"Then stay out of the way." Joe felt a hand on his chest that could only have belonged to Kronos, and found himself being pushed back into a narrow alcove in the wall which he had not previously realised was even there. Somehow, yet again, Kronos had managed to see the invisible. He frowned, and tried to resist.
"Don't be a fool, Dawson. The last thing we need is a wounded man slowing us down. Keep out of the way until we call you." A faint smirk insinuated itself into the Immortal's voice. "On the other hand, if they do start shooting at us you might make a good shield."
"Very funny." Joe pushed his hand aside and stood still in his alcove. "If you two are determined to make prats of yourselves, you'd better go and get it done." He made his own smirk stand out in his words. "I'll see you both back in the cell."
"Not in this lifetime." Although he could not see his own hand in front of his face, after hearing these words Joe knew somehow that Kronos had gone. He turned to Methos to crack a faint joke, in a vague attempt to lighten the mood - but the place where the Immortal had been standing seconds before was now empty. The shadows had shifted and changed, and both Immortals had moved on. He tried to stare after them, and to distinguish the sounds of their footsteps in the tunnel, but there was nothing but silence. Standing in the darkness of his alcove, he found himself completely alone.
The men of the Involution never knew what hit them - nor were they really given time to care. In the blackness and silence, in the cramped and awkward conditions of a long-unused rocky tunnel where no light shone beyond that of their torches, the attack came unseen and unheard. Standing at the front of the vanguard, in readiness for the sudden approach of three hastily escaping prisoners, Adam Thanpoulos, a twenty-three year-old veteran of twelve years membership, was cut down before he had even realised that he was no longer alone. He had heard nothing, save a faint swishing sound - and by the time he had realised that it was the sound of a blade moving swiftly through the air, that blade was already embedded in his neck. He experienced only a moment's confused consciousness before everything went black. Methos pulled his sword free, smiling down at the decapitated form that he knew was lying at his feet. He couldn't see it, but he knew that it was there. Death was a tangible sensation to a man who had been a part of it for so long. He could practically sense its presence, beginning to fill the tunnel; beginning to spread out its arms to choke the people hiding in these rocky twists and turns.
Kronos was already ahead, having no desire to waste time in witnessing his brother's actions. Flat against the wall, as soundless as death itself, he crept forward, ears intent for any sounds save his own. He heard the mortals, naturally enough, long before they heard him, and he smiled to himself. He could feel the heat within him, and it felt like rebirth. No more hiding in shadows pretending that he hadn't come back from the dead - or that he had never been dead to start with. He raised his sword.
"What's that?" He heard a stifled whisper, like a loud yell in the deathly still. There was a hasty hiss of disapproval, a scratching sound of metal that told him the mortals were armed; and then a sigh of relief.
"It'll be Adam." The words were clear to him, for his hearing was as advanced as that of any other predatory animal. He tensed, moving forward slowly, keeping to the shadows. A torch beam flashed momentarily, illuminating the ground around his feet, and the rocky wall beside his head. He froze. It was easy to remain out of sight. He could stay still like this for hours if need be; but soon the beam had gone, and the blackness reigned supreme once again. Again he shifted the sword in his grip, mentally counting the noises he could hear - the sounds of breathing, the sounds of men shifting on tense legs, the occasional scuff as something brushed floor or walls or ceiling. Seven, he thought, plus Thane. He knew that the other man was there, but his voice, when it had sounded out earlier, had been further away than the others. Perhaps he was taking up a rear guard position; perhaps he had reinforcements. Kronos had recognised the efficiency in the mortal's eyes, and he knew that whatever Thane was doing, he was not hiding in the background to protect himself. He was definitely no coward - which made him a dangerous unknown quantity. Still - the unexpected was always the greatest thrill.
The seven men in the tunnel heard the figure when it was almost upon them, in the depths of dark shadows seeing him only as a shadow still darker than the rest. Before the first of them could shout out, the sword was at his throat. He fell unseen by his comrades, shirt drenched in blood, choking out his last few breaths under the stamping, panicked heels of his friends. A second man joined him moments later, a gaping hole in his chest where before there had been only living flesh. Ragged strips of his uniform floated earthwards behind him, settling in grey and blue stripes across his dead face.
"What the hell-?" A disembodied shout was half drowned out by a gunshot, soon joined by a second and then a third. A ricochet stormed off the walls, sending shards of stone flying into the room. Somebody shouted out in pain as the errant bullet thudded home. Kronos moved in reaction to the shout, his sword as true as ever. A body, marked in one arm by a smooth, round bullet hole, hit the ground at his feet. He never knew where the head landed, but one of the Involution guards tripped over it in the dark, and fell shivering to the ground. He was still huddled there, terrified and sick, when Methos found him moments later. The Immortal saw terrified eyes shining up at him in the dark; one tiny point of illumination in the darkness that filled the world around; and he aimed for them with the point of his sword. There was no sound save a squeak that might have been intended to become a fully fledged scream - but was never given the time to mature.
"Kronos?" There was no longer any need for silence, and Methos wanted to know where his brother was. Vaguely aware of the uncertain position of Andros Thane, he wanted to be sure of the next move. A black shadow moved past him, sucking the last of the light with it as it went. A torchlight came on, sweeping the floor, and a gunshot rang out. Methos hurled his sword, running after it as it flew, catching the torch even as it fell from the dead hand that had once gripped it so tightly. He pulled his sword from the wrecked chest of his victim, and turned the torch to search the rest of the tunnel.
Seven bodies lay around him, all in various stages of decapitation and destruction. He could smell blood, and for a moment it made him nauseous. He couldn't help staring down at the man he had just killed, still lying at his feet. Young, black-haired, movie-star looks. White teeth and a single silver earring. He drew in a deep breath, and then felt Kronos' hand on his shoulder.
"Come on. No time for regrets, brother."
"Who said anything about regrets?" He couldn't help looking at the figure though, sprawled so indecorously beside him. Twenty-five maybe? Was he married? Engaged? He lowered his sword and concentrated on the dark shape of his brother, just outside the range of the torch beam, sword held poised in a two-handed grip. "Where's Thane?"
"Here." Quiet confidence filled the voice; the suggestion that its owner cared nothing for the carnage around him. Methos heard a footstep, and turned to look further up the tunnel. The torch was not powerful enough to properly show him Andros Thane, but he could make out the man's silhouette; tall, strong, and determinedly erect.
"Then come and fight." Kronos started forward, his sword challenging the Involution guard. Thane laughed.
"You've got to be kidding. After everything I've just seen you do?" He raised his gun, pointing it directly at the Immortal. "Drop it."
"Drop it?" A laugh coloured the innocent words. "Why? Your gun means nothing to me."
"It does if I fire it." The hammer clicked back, echoing on the close walls. "You'd be a prisoner again, just as surely as if you surrendered."
"Your prison wasn't so hard to break out of last time, mortal." Kronos brandished his sword. "Now fight me, or step aside. I have a powerful desire to be reunited with my friend Anthony."
"You're heading the wrong way to see Geddes. We locked doors, closed off passages, made sure that you had to come this way. The only place this leads to is a disused surface chamber. It was part of the original Involution offices, but we moved further underground a long time ago. Safer you see, with all the tourists we get in this part of the world these days. Can't have stray civilians wandering into our headquarters with their auto-focus Polaroids, can we."
"Your point being?" Methos strolled closer, his own sword held at the ready. "What makes you think we're likely to surrender? You can take one of us down with that gun, but the other one will kill you."
"I'm sure he probably will." Thane made a brief gesture in the air with his free hand, and a second later the tunnel was flooded with light. Neither Methos nor Kronos blinked, despite the startling intensity of this sudden illumination. "But I have a proposition to put to you, courtesy of my supervisor. And believe it or not, I don't actually require you to give up your arms. Just look a little less like you want to hack me to pieces, and then perhaps we can talk."
"Talk?" Kronos smiled his favourite harsh little smile. "About what? The many ways in which to kill you?"
"Not exactly. At least, that wasn't foremost in my intentions." Thane smiled back at him, his own eyes glittering in much the same way as did those of the Immortal himself. Mockery hung in the air between them, like a curtain of mutual antagonism that did not seem inclined to dissipate. "My supervisor, should it happen to interest you at all, is Costas Reuben. He wants to talk about his son, amongst other things - and about a man who's been following you around for the last couple of months." This last was directed most pointedly at Methos. "A man in a black car. I think you've probably noticed him by now."
"I have." Methos frowned. "But why should I believe this? It could just be a trap."
"It could." Thane shrugged. "But then again, I could be telling the truth. The choice is yours which you believe." He looked from one to the other of the Immortals, then sighed and lowered his gun. Silently he slid it back into its holster, and moved his hands away from his sides. "Do you want to follow me and find out?"
"Why would Costas Reuben want to talk to us? Why him and not Geddes? And why in a section of these tunnels that you don't use anymore?" Methos had moved up to stand beside Kronos, his eyes harsh in the bright light. Thane made a vague gesture around at the rocky walls.
"No video cameras. No surveillance. The rest of the complex is wired for sound and vision, except for Security HQ - and taking you there would be too difficult. We'd be seen. Up here we can talk to our hearts' content, and nobody need know. As far as I'm aware your escape hasn't even been discovered yet. Mr Reuben was quite pleased with you. I think he was beginning to consider breaking you out himself so that he could have this little chat."
"And what does he want to chat to us about?" Kronos sounded as though his suspicions had not diminished in the slightest, despite Thane's voluntary disarming. The security deputy shrugged.
"Something about Project Nemesis. It's a plan Geddes has been running, and Mr Reuben is tired of being shut out of it. He's decided to find out what the Project is, and why his son had to die for it. I think he's uncovered one or two little details he'd like to discuss with you. I would imagine that whatever this Project is, it concerns you - the pair of you. And it also concerns Duncan MacLeod."
"Then lead on." Wiping his sword on the nearest dead body, Methos slipped it back into its sheath and stepped forward. There was resolution and determination in his movements, and even Kronos did not question it. He merely followed suit, his own movements slower and more measured.
"If you're lying," he told Thane as he moved forwards. "You'll die quickly enough. But it won't be painless."
"I'm not lying." Thane's eyes drifted involuntarily towards the now sheathed sword, and he managed only a nervous smile. Somehow all of those tales Reuben had told him about these two men no longer seemed so difficult to believe. "Please follow me." He began to walk down the tunnel. Behind him Methos and Kronos exchanged a glance.
"You're going to go with him - risk anything - because he says it's to do with MacLeod?" The Leader of the Horsemen put no emotion into his voice or his face, betraying nothing of his feelings about this development. Methos lowered his eyes.
"I have to. I owe him my life. He's my friend, Kronos."
"I know." Abruptly Kronos took the lead, striding ahead into the unknown, following Thane to whatever awaited them. Methos had to hurry to catch up with him, the sound of his brother's leather boots striking an audible path against the rock. He considered saying more, explaining more. Kronos considered the same. In the event, neither of them said anything at all.
They didn't need to.
"Mr Geddes." The tall, athletically built figure that stood before Anthony Geddes' desk was dressed entirely in scarlet and black, his long black overcoat hiding the gigantic sword that swung about his knees. It bore a curved blade with a lethal looking point, and was stuck into his belt without a sheath to cover it. Standing before the desk as he now was, with his hands stuck into his belt, the sword was on full display. Its wicked blade glinted in the warm light, and Geddes could see his own reflection in the smooth, superior steel. He ran a quick hand through his hair, momentarily disturbed to find that it was not as immaculate as he would have liked, and made a point of straightening his collar at the same time. Not that it needed much straightening - but it was best to be sure.
"Mr Kollias." Smiling in the way best suited to showing off his superior dentistry, Geddes folded his hands on the desk before him. "It's good to see you again."
"I'm not here to exchange compliments, Mr Geddes." Kollias leaned forward over the desktop, and his scarlet shirt billowed in the draft caused by his movement. "I came here to see what's going on. Why have Methos and the others come to Greece?"
"Following a trail they discovered in their dealings with Daniel Reuben I would imagine." Geddes waved in the air with one hand, the movement dismissive and disparaging. "It's not important. They don't know about you, and they won't find out. I have them here at the moment, under lock and key."
"And how exactly did they find this place? You told me that was impossible. Why should I believe that they won't find out about me? If they find out what we're up to, Geddes..."
"They won't. They know about this place because of an unfortunate coincidence. A man I used to have dealings with a decade or so back turns out to be an Immortal - Kronos in fact. I admit that I was lax in not realising it when I first met him all those years ago, but he seemed so..." He shrugged. "Well it's not as if you lot advertise your condition, is it. How was I supposed to know? Kronos was a myth, even amongst the Involution. We'd heard of him of course, but many people didn't believe in him any more than they believed in Methos. Thousands of years old, warriors renowned for their brutality and malice... It's the stuff of legends."
"Clearly not." Kollias shook his head. "Never mind. The damage is done now. You're sure that they're secure?"
"As safe as can be. Nobody can get in or out of the security complex without my head of security knowing about it. Costas Reuben is as professional as they come, even if he is an unimaginative boor. He'll keep a close eye on Methos and friends for us, and we can get on with our business. Do you know where Duncan MacLeod is?"
"In Seacouver. He's looking for his cousin." Kollias looked about, then selected a chair and slid into it. He moved with a grace that complimented his athletic physique, and was complimented in turn by the billowing scarlet shirt, and the flowing lines of his jet black overcoat. His ankle-high boots, polished to perfection, glinted like onyx as he crossed his legs. Geddes nodded excitedly.
"And has Connor MacLeod answered the call? Is he on his way?"
"I would imagine so. He's never ignored his cousin's call in the past. Wherever he is, I can assume that he'll soon be on his way to meet with Duncan."
"And is the trail clear enough for them to follow?"
"If they don't realise that Methos is in Greece, they're not the men their reputations make them out to be." Kollias smiled. "You think they'll both come?"
"MacLeod feels threatened enough to call in his cousin. That's reason enough for Connor MacLeod to stick with him until they're sure what's going on." Geddes smiled. "You've got close enough for MacLeod to be sure you're an Immortal?"
"Several times. I haven't let him see me, but I've been sure to let him know somebody's watching him. He's convinced something is going on, but he doesn't know what. He thinks it's Kronos out to get him, or that he's made somebody's death list. Either way he's not in the best of moods. Connor MacLeod is just about the only person he's willing to trust right now."
"Better and better." Geddes eased himself to his feet and strode towards the drinks cabinet on the far wall. "Can I offer you a little something? You've come a long way."
"Whisky." Kollias had turned in his seat to watch the other man, as though he did not even begin to trust him. He watched like a hawk as the drink was poured, and took it slowly and carefully. Amber rays refracted through the glass, casting mobile patterns onto his clothes. He watched them for a while.
"What happens next?"
"Hmm?" Glancing up from the cabinet, where he was busy mixing himself a gin and tonic, Geddes frowned momentarily. "Oh. Nothing happens now, or at least for a day or so. We have to give the MacLeods time to meet, to discuss the situation, to see the evidence you've left strewn about Methos' apartment..." He whirled about, his glass held high. "And then we have to give them time to come here, to find us... That will be easy enough. We can let security slip for a while, and give them a hand getting in. Let them think they're on top of the situation."
"And then?" Geddes laughed. "And then phase two, which should be even more interesting than phase one." He stalked back to his desk and pressed the intercom button nestled neatly between an electric pencil sharpener and a framed picture of Geddes himself, on the day he had graduated from Oxford University. "Thomas? Come in and see me immediately would you? There's something I'd like to discuss." There was no answer and he scowled. "Thomas? What are you up to?"
"Excuse me Mr Geddes." The nervous voice of one of Thomas's computer-zone colleagues came over the intercom, clearly unsure how to speak to the distinguished leader. "Thomas isn't here. He hasn't been for some time. He went off somewhere with Mr Reuben."
"Oh." Geddes scowled and then sighed, draining his glass in one gulp. "Well when he gets back tell him to come to my office immediately. I need to speak to him." He turned off the intercom without waiting for a response, and then turned back to Kollias. "I suppose you'll be wanting to rest up? Maybe get something to eat?"
"Not necessarily. Actually I'd far rather take a look at Methos and Kronos." Kollias smiled unpleasantly. "I'd like to see the opposition before I make my next move. If it's all the same with you."
"Of course." Geddes' smile was bright and sunny, the look in his eyes as affable as always. "You can't miss the security complex. It's well enough signposted, and your ID card should get you through the electronic locks." He opened the door, throwing it wide with a flourish. "Please consider yourself entirely at home. Nobody knows who you are though, so I'd be grateful if you'd keep that sword hidden."
"Naturally." Standing up, Kollias buttoned the overcoat until his weapon was no longer in view. "I'll report back here later, and we can finalise the last few details."
"Perhaps over dinner?" As always when he had an audience, Geddes had his considerable charisma out on full display. His teeth shone as his smile widened. "I'll see you at about seven."
"Fine." Kollias looked as though a dinner was the last thing he wanted, but he was happy enough to please his mortal confederate. "I'll see you then." He gave a short, brisk formal bow, and left the room. Geddes let the door glide shut after him, and then wandered back to his desk. The neatly arranged pens and papers stared back at him, their places precise, their edges minutely aligned. He shifted the telephone three millimetres to the right, to give a better overall image of symmetry, then leaned back into his chair and smiled at the far wall. Things were beginning to work out rather well.
"What's going on? I thought we were at war?" Having squeamishly negotiated the dead bodies lying in the tunnel, Joe Dawson had been brought to the dusty chambers where his friends awaited him. There were no guards in the room, for they departed as soon as they arrived, leaving the mortal staring about in considerable surprise at this latest section of the Involution's underground complex.
It was a vast place, although the ceiling was low and uneven, making the dimensions seem less than they were. Flickering oil lamps cast murky shadows up the walls and across the ceiling, picking out the centre of the room rather better than the gloomy perimeters. A desk stood in the middle of the room, its legs hung with cobwebs and its feet resting in piles of accumulated dust. There were a few books and folders on the desktop, almost hidden beneath a covering of grime. A huge figure was seated at the desk, his great form rising out of the dust much like Godzilla rising out of the waves, his black eyes shining familiarly out of a deeply tanned face topped with copious amounts of snow white hair. Joe would have known him anywhere, even without the easily recognisable grin, and the piercing gaze beneath the thick white lashes.
"Costas Reuben, I presume." He strode forward, feeling as though he were somehow now on more familiar ground. That was an illusion he was sure, since Costas was an entirely unknown quantity. The older man smiled up at him, and rose slightly from his chair.
"And you must be Mr Dawson." His accent was coloured by the streets of New York, but his Greek nationality was still evident in his voice. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Your reputation precedes you."
"Thankyou. I think." Joe glanced at Methos and Kronos, seated nearby on dusty wooden chairs, and raised his eyebrows in curiosity. "What's going on here? I don't remember being told I was a prisoner again."
"This is a meeting of minds, Mr Dawson. Not a meeting of force." Reuben sounded entirely convinced of this, although Kronos shifted slightly. His hand had not strayed from the hilt of his sword. "Please, take a seat."
"Here, Mr Dawson." Materialising out of nowhere with a chair in his hand, Andros Thane gestured for Joe to sit. Joe sat, at a loss as to what else to do. Thane vanished back into the shadows, as quickly and as quietly as he had first appeared. Joe glanced back, slightly ill at ease with such sudden appearances and disappearances, but could see no sign of Thane. The greasy shadows hid all that did not stand within the circle of oil lamps.
"You said you had something to tell us." Clearly feeling equally uneasy, Methos fixed Reuben with an intense stare. The bigger man nodded.
"Yes, I do." He held up a sheaf of papers, all painfully obtained printouts from the data on the CDs. "These are records for a project code-named Nemesis. A brainchild of our mutual friend Mr Geddes. He's been shutting me out of it, and I decided that I wanted to find out more. Whatever it is, it got my son killed. He was sent to you with the express instructions of causing an irrevocable rift between you and Duncan MacLeod. You weren't to guess at the real reason, and of course Daniel's regretful ancestry helped there. The thing is, I don't know what the real reason is either."
"And you expect us to believe that?" Kronos was staring at him with a gaze powerful enough to unnerve the most steadfast of men. Costas smiled unhappily at him, his snowy white eyebrows flickering and arching as though unsure what to do with themselves.
"It's the truth. Geddes is a big man within the Involution. Even the other two branches think very highly of him. His money, his reputation, his intelligence... He's Involution through and through, but there's one thing he loves even more than the organisation - and that's himself. His ego is even bigger than his bank balance."
"Is this true?" Methos turned to Kronos to ask this question, and the younger Immortal nodded.
"It's true. He always thought through his smuggling operations as though he was planning a public relations exercise. The money he made was important, but he was more interested in the impression he made. He used to send flowers to his female victims. I think he liked to view himself as a kind of latter day Simon Templar." His voice did not disguise his contempt. "But he'd do practically anything to get the credit for an operation."
"Precisely." Costas shifted on his seat and rustled the papers in his hand. "And that's why he's thought of an operation that cuts the rest of us out of the glory, and gives it all to him. He's not letting anybody else get a look in on this, and he's handling it all himself. That bothers me. I want to know his motives."
"I'd rather know his plans." Joe sounded scathing. "Sorry to sound too down to earth, but I'd rather know what this guy is planning than why he's planning it. Especially if it concerns me and my friends."
"I think the two things are interconnected. The what and the why are part of the same plan." Costas regarded the three of them very thoughtfully. "He's hired somebody to follow you around. A man he's employed, that the rest of us know very little about. His code-name is Thanatos. Beyond that I know nothing about him."
"He's an Immortal." Methos had narrowed his eyes, and was glaring at Costas with all the fierceness of his newly reawakening violent streak. "I think you'd better tell us everything you know."
"I told you. I know very little." Costas was frowning heavily. "You're sure he's one of you? Really sure?"
"I've seen somebody following me around. He started just after Daniel showed up in Seacouver, and he's still hanging around now. He followed us to Greece. Whoever he is, he's definitely an Immortal, but what he's up to is still a mystery." Methos glanced over at Kronos, who nodded slowly. Joe couldn't help feeling jealous at their effortless - and wordless - method of communication. Presumably when you had known somebody for four thousand years words started to lose a little of their importance. He nearly smiled. It wasn't as though that theory had much chance of being satisfactorily tested.
"Maybe he's Geddes' choice for the One. That's what you people do isn't it? Choose somebody, and try to help them win the Prize?" Beginning to feel left out, Joe gestured vaguely with his cane. "Or at least that's supposed to be the theory, right?"
"Originally, yes. It's why we were founded, more or less. But times change, and we have so few dealings with the Immortals these days that there's just no way to make that work. We dabble. We interfere. We remove certain people from the Game when the opportunity arises." Reuben caught the look of disapproval fired his way by Methos, and smiled. "It's what we do. There's nobody being sponsored at the moment. The last choice in that respect was Kronos here, and after the failure of the Polish Faction to make that work, we've had no other possibilities. If that were Geddes' intention, he'd have to tell everybody. It's no good choosing your man if you're not going to help him - and you can't help him if the Involution doesn't know who he is. Even Geddes can't sponsor one man on his own." He shook his head. "No. That can't be the reason - or at the very least, not the primary one."
"Then what is?" Kronos sounded as though he were losing patience, the faint undercurrent of menace strong in his soft voice.
"I told you - and whether you believe it or not it's the truth. I honestly don't know what that stuck up son of a bitch is up to." Reuben sighed and pushed back his chair from the desk, sending plumes of dust into the air. "But I have a feeling that I know somebody who might be able to tell us something."
"Who?" Methos was looking around, as though he expected this mysterious somebody to materialise out of the shadows. In the event he was not far wrong, for Reuben, after flashing him a brief, brisk smile, clapped his hands loudly. Thane reappeared almost immediately, his feet strangely silent against all the stark rock. He was holding a second man, a scrawny, terrified looking youngster who did not seem to be out of his teens. His gingery hair stuck up, and his watery eyes were wide and scared - both features that emphasised his youth and air of vulnerability. He stumbled as Thane pushed him, staggering forward so that he fell into the desk, gasping in pain as he struck the sharp edge.
"My I present a young friend of mine." Costas stepped towards Thomas, taking him by the shoulders and guiding him into the seat he himself had so recently vacated. "This is Thomas Geddes, nephew of our mutual friend."
"He knows about this Project Nemesis?" Joe regarded the young man with some considerable suspicion. He didn't look much like a confidante - more a barely tolerated hanger-on. Thomas reacted violently to his words, jerking around in his seat, staring at Joe, widening his eyes and his mouth. Reuben laughed and wandered around to stand behind his prisoner, clamping his hands firmly onto the young man's shoulders.
"I think that's your answer." He tightened his grip on the thin frame before him. "Thomas knows all about Project Nemesis. Don't you Thomas."
"I told you. I don't know anything. I only know that it's something Uncle-- that it's something Mr Geddes has been working on." Thomas blinked sweat out of his eyes. Costas raised a disapproving eyebrow.
"What do you know about a man code-named Thanatos?" He asked the question softly enough, but Thomas's answer was a whimper that was in no way soft in return. He gave a shudder, gazing around at the others - at Joe, Thane, Kronos and Methos, apparently trying to find some inkling of comradeship or support in the eyes of one of them. Whatever it was that he was hoping for, he did not see it, and his already pale countenance paled still further. He managed a shaky smile.
"Thanatos... He - he was the god of death." He giggled faintly. "Other than that I can't help you."
"Really." Costas sounded unimpressed. "Perhaps I should point out a few things to you, Thomas. Do you know who these men are?" His gesture took in both Methos and Kronos at a stroke, and Thomas stared at the pair. His eyes were filled with a sense of growing distress.
"Immortals," was all that he would say, although clearly he knew rather more than that. Costas gave a thin smile.
"Very good. Allow me to elaborate." He pointed straight at Kronos, who was leaning casually back in his chair, his eyes for once devoid of their usual myriad threats and insinuations. "That man led a wave of terror and violence that laid waste to entire civilisations. His name carried with it such connotations of evil and menace that it may even have inspired our own legends of godhood. Kronos led the Apocalypse. Cronus was the father of the king of the gods." His voice lowered to a softer, smoother level. "Now if I'm prepared to knock some sense into you, Thomas, just think for a moment what a man who inspires legends could do. Just imagine what a man who destroyed cities could do to one little person."
"You wouldn't dare." False bravado swelled Thomas's scrawny chest. "If you do anything to me, my uncle will kill you."
"Maybe. On the other hand he might thank us for getting rid of you. At any rate I doubt that he'll do much to Kronos. What can he do?" He shook his head, twisting the chair around so that Thomas was looking up at him. "We will find out about Project Nemesis. One way or another."
"Not from me." Thomas was now so pale that his lips stood out stark and red against the white of his face. "I won't tell you anything."
"That's a shame." Costas released him and took a few steps away, his bright, dark eyes staring straight at Kronos. "He's all yours."
"Thankyou." Kronos betrayed no emotion, rising to his feet with his usual fluid grace. "It will be my pleasure."
"What are you going to do?" Thomas was suddenly unable to articulate his words properly, his eyes standing out on stalks as he twisted around in his chair to look back at the approaching Immortal. Kronos leaned close to him, his eyes filled with all the joy he felt at this unexpected chance to cause a little terror and pain.
"You'll see." He reached out with one hand, hauling the boy to his feet. Face to face they made an odd couple, Thomas the taller but Kronos undeniably the more powerful. His very presence glowed, his ice-blue eyes reflected in the watery gaze of his intended victim. He reached out, stroking Thomas's cheek with cold, strong fingers. "Just follow me."
"No." Thomas tried to pull back, but found that Kronos had fastened one hand about his wrist - and the grip seemed entirely unbreakable. He struggled momentarily, trying to escape, trying to shake off the rigid hold. It was no use. Kronos stared back at him, eyes smiling whilst his face remained cold and expressionless. Before Thomas could think of another way to escape, he found himself being dragged towards the shadows that lined the room. He began to stammer, to protest, to beg, but his words fell on deaf ears. Instead of assistance he received only silence - and then the shadows consumed him, and he could see only Kronos.
Back in the light, Joe Dawson stared after the disappeared figures, his expression troubled and uncomfortable. He seemed about to rise to his feet, but Methos reached over, his long, strong hand resting gently on the top of his companion's cane.
"Not now Joe." His voice was firm, but there was a softness within it - a strong suggestion of the man Joe had known for so long. He couldn't help trusting the old Immortal, even though his instincts were screaming at him to go after Thomas, and to stop Kronos from hurting him. He forced himself to relax, and Methos did likewise, staring at the floor at his feet. There was a hardness in his eyes that Joe didn't like - for he was not sure if it was in response to the likely fate of Thomas Geddes, or was just a reaction to the fact that he had not been allowed to participate. It struck him that this was just the kind of uncertainty that he was going to have to get used to - just as Thomas's first unearthly scream tore apart the dusty stillness of the air.
The security section seemed oddly deserted for a place that was allegedly so well governed. Kollias - known in certain quarters by the code-name of Thanatos - prowled stealthily along the corridors with the distinct impression that something was wrong. Where was the legendary Costas Reuben, supposedly so professional? Surely the stranger should have been seen by now, and questioned - not just left alone because he seemed to have a valid pass card. The longer he went without being challenged, the more suspicious Kollias grew. Something, he was sure, was not right.
"So much for the great security." He had reached what appeared to be the detention centre now, although it had not been easy. Some of the doors had been double locked, as though certain corridors had purposely been made off limits. He wondered, somewhere in the back of his mind, if he was being herded somewhere. He dismissed the theory quickly enough. Too many of the doors were locked on his side; to keep somebody in the detention centre from leaving this way, not to stop somebody else getting into that section. That made new suspicions form in his mind, and none of them were the kind that he liked.
The detention centre was cut from bare rock, with none of the comforts that embellished the rest of the complex. There was no furniture at all in the main room, only a grimy filing cabinet pushed into a ragged corner, the top drawer jammed half-open and half-closed. A few sheets of paper poked their heads out of the drawer, fluttering their creased and dog-eared corners at Kollias as he walked past them. He stared around, looking from door to door, seeing cell after cell after cell - not one of them closed, not one of them holding any prisoners. Picking one at random he walked on in.
It was small, with four bunks built into the wall, a tiny air inlet, and a dim light source he could not quite place. The ceiling was unreachable even to a tall man standing on one of the bunks, giving the room a hopelessly bleak appearance. He could see something else, too - something inside the air vent. It was too far away for him to see properly, but he was sure that it was a camera. In that case, he told himself, everybody in these cells was monitored; which meant that nobody could escape without being seen. But as far as he could tell, Methos and Kronos had most definitely left - without Anthony Geddes knowing anything about it. Kollias glowered, staring about at the cell, and at the bigger room beyond it. Turning sharply he stormed out, punching and kicking the ancient filing cabinet as he passed, not letting up until the bottom drawer was all but staved in. Then he swung around and marched away, heading back to speak to Geddes. Something was going on, and he was damned if he was going to let it continue.
"He say anything?" Several of the oil lamps had gone out, and the room was even more murky, more dim and unwelcoming than it had been before. Kronos strolled back out of the shadows, wiping bloodstained fingers on a piece of pale grey cloth. Joe thought that he recalled Thomas wearing a shirt of just such material, and he felt faintly ill. Patterns swirled in front of his retina, and he glanced across at Methos. The old Immortal was quiet and still, his expression serious. If he was experiencing any emotions, they could not be seen on his face - which was probably just as well.
"He said a lot." Kronos finished his clean up operation and tossed the rag onto the desk. In the better light, now that the cloth was no longer moving, it was possible to see a couple of buttons, and the top edge of a pocket. Clearly, then, it was a part of Thomas's shirt. "He told me how little he knew, and how his uncle would hunt me to the ends of the earth if I hurt him." He smiled, and the shadows caught his face just so. Joe couldn't help wondering if he had spent his long life practising in front of a mirror, learning the best ways to make the light emphasise his eyes and his capacity for looking deranged. "And then he told me what I wanted to know." He sat down, stretching his legs out before him, using a trouser leg to rub a few spots of blood from one of his heavy leather boots.
"And?" Costas had raised one eyebrow, showing as little emotion as Methos. Andros however, for the first time since Joe had met him, seemed to be showing some emotion at last - and that was even more unsettling that the sea of blank faces surrounding him. The Watcher got the distinct impression that Thane was more interested in hearing the gory details of the torture than the information it had gleaned.
"Geddes has found himself an Immortal, by the name of Richard Kollias. I don't know where he comes from, but he's old apparently. More than a thousand at least." Kronos' soft voice intoned the words as though he were reading a horror story, and Joe felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise. He scowled at himself for being so foolish; and yet he couldn't seem to help it. Perhaps when Kronos had spent all that time practising looking mad and evil, he had also practised making his voice sound eerie and threatening. Somehow Dawson wouldn't have been surprised.
"Richard Kollias?" Methos glanced up momentarily, and all eyes turned in his direction. "I've heard the name. I don't think I've ever met him, but I've a feeling he killed Father Modus a few years back. Modus was a friend of Darius', from the old days. Another warrior who turned to religion. Word went around that Kollias was going after Darius next, but he never turned up looking."
"Well he's turned up here instead. From what Thomas has told me, it's Kollias who's been watching you these last few months. He's at the heart of Project Nemesis, and he's been using the code-name Thanatos." His lips twitched in an ironic smile, showing a kind of approval. "Thanatos, as Thomas was good enough to tell us, was the god of death; and of course Nemesis was the god of destiny. Geddes isn't lacking style, even if he is a little low on originality."
"So what is Project Nemesis?" Methos didn't look up as he asked the question. Kronos didn't look at him to answer.
"Games." He was silent for a moment or two before answering, and for a while Joe wondered if that was all he was going to say. "MacLeod is expected to send for his cousin, and the two of them are likely to be here within days. Kollias plans to set us against each other. The MacLeods verses the Horsemen." He smiled, although there was little humour in his expression. "The greatest battle Immortality has ever seen."
"Games?" Costas was gaping at Kronos, his mouth open wide. "That's what this is all about? That's why my son died? So that some crazy Immortal can get to watch his heroes battling it out in the arena?" He shook his head and slumped back into his chair. "I thought-- Well I at least hoped it was something important. Something of strategic importance. But this is just insane."
"Not necessarily." Kronos flicked his gaze towards Costas, warning him into silence. "My good friend Anthony plans to regroup - to bring the Involution back together under his leadership. He thinks that they're almost big enough to challenge the Watchers that way, and to go back to their old tricks of manipulating the Game. This battle he's planning isn't just for Kollias to watch - it's for the whole of the Involution, so that dear Anthony can show them how powerful he is. The MacLeods, Methos and I - we're big news. If he can show the others that he's got us, when many others have failed... then he could name his terms." He shrugged. "Plus of course it's a good way to be sure of getting rid of us all. The winner will probably be given to Kollias. Geddes plans to present him as the next candidate for Involution sponsorship. Kollias wants the Prize, and he thinks Geddes can help him get it." He folded his arms, looking about at the others as though indicating that his story was done. "Hence the wedge they've driven between MacLeod and Methos. This way, they think that they can be sure of making sweet Duncan fight his old friend to the death. Not wanting to seem too conceited, but he does hate me enough to make it a likelihood. Right now I think he'd go for Methos' head quite cheerfully."
"I think you're right." Methos sounded doleful, although there was an iron-like strength behind his words. "He'd kill me soon as look at me, especially if he saw that you and I were together. I don't even pretend to know how I can make him change his mind on that point."
"I wouldn't bother." Kronos glanced back at Costas. "So there you have it. Project Nemesis."
"Where's Thomas?" Joe had to ask, since nobody else seemed inclined to. Kronos favoured him with one of his disarmingly amiable grins.
"Dead. Sorry." He gestured helplessly with one hand, his eyes wide with an uncharacteristic innocence that reminded Joe of Peter Kerensky; and at the same time made his skin crawl with revulsion. "He wasn't up to my... ministrations. Weak heart."
"Doesn't surprise me." If Costas felt anything for the young man's death, he did not show it. Joe had heard such tales of the Involution, with their greater loyalty to the cause than to their colleagues. Instead of changing Dawson's opinion of him by going to see the boy, or suggesting that they return his body to his uncle, Costas merely brushed a little of the settling dust from his clothes, and gestured towards the shadows that circled the room. "There's a door back there that leads straight out onto a hillside. I'd suggest that we leave now, before our welcome here is overstayed."
"You're still going to help us? This is hardly your fight." Methos had risen to his feet in response to Costas' suggestion, but his hand now strayed to his sword hilt. "I think this is where we should part company."
"Not at all." Costas folded his arms, shortening the distance between himself and Methos as though oblivious to the threat presented by the sword. "I helped Geddes. My own son helped destroy your relationship with your friend, thereby setting you all on this course. And now I find that it's all just to bring glory to a man I hate. I'd be happy to see Geddes broken, so I don't intend to stick around here and help him continue with this plan. If the alternative is helping you, so be it. You have myself, and all of my men, at your disposal." As if in answer Thane crashed to attention by his shoulder.
"With all due respect, Mr Geddes is a big-headed fool, who's likely to lead us all into disaster." The young security deputy stared around at the little group with earnest eyes. "We'd happily follow Mr Reuben as our leader, and this can help him take Mr Geddes' place."
"Fair enough." Methos shrugged carelessly, but there was nothing careless in the way that his narrowed eyes gazed beadily about at the assembling survivors of Reuben's security team. He didn't trust any of them, and that much was very clear. "Then let's make our move, before that arrogant twit finds out that we've escaped, and tries to come after us. He might be a bit upset to find his nephew in pieces."
"Fine. This way." Costas took the lead, marching away from the desk and the oil lamps. The others followed, Thane remaining behind long enough to extinguish the lamps, leaving the whole of the room in darkness. Joe couldn't help his thoughts turning to Thomas, for now that the room was dark it was easy to imagine how it must have been, lying unused and unvisited, at the end of an unfinished tunnel. Thomas might lie there for decades before his body was found. Joe wondered if it was guilt he felt - and if not, what else it might be instead. He had killed before. He had caused more deaths than he remembered, both mortal and Immortal. They had needed the information Thomas had given them - so why feel so bad about it? Maybe it was the boy's youth. Maybe it was his own lingering unease. Maybe it was just this place, with its dark shadows and leering rocks.
"You alright Joe?" It startled him to hear the oldest Immortal ask such a question, especially when he was just beginning to get used to a Methos that didn't seem to care. He smiled to himself and answered in the affirmative, trying not to sound as though he were lying.
"Yeah, I'm fine." He heard rather than saw the brisk nod that came in reply.
"Good. You can pull out you know, anytime you want. You don't have to be a part of this."
"Yes he does." It was Kronos' voice, somehow coming out of the darkness ahead of Joe, even though the mortal was sure that Kronos had been behind him before. "He wants to be here. Don't you Dawson."
"Yeah. I do." Joe tried to see the Leader of the Horsemen, trying to distinguish him from the looming shadows up ahead. It was impossible. He could see the flickering eyes though, inside his head; see the smile and the threats that might or might not have been real. Sometimes, when he didn't think about the murders and the ruthlessness, he could see why Methos liked his fellow Immortal so much. He found himself smiling, in answer to the smirk that he had heard in Kronos' words. Unbidden, a strange feeling of comradeship floated through his heart. He almost wished he had a sword hilt to grip, and a few thousand years of battle memories to call upon. Perhaps the heart of the Horsemen beat stronger than he knew.
"Its just up ahead." Costas' voice filtered back to them, and seconds later they heard the scratching of hands on a door that sounded as though it were made of wood. There was a heaving, a tearing, a scrabbling amongst roots that had entwined themselves in the door hinges, making it difficult to open. Then finally there was a shrieking, cutting squeak as the door opened at last, and daylight flooded the tunnel. A heavy hand crashed into Joe's chest, and he felt himself falling back.
"Shut up." It was Kronos' voice, hissing in his ear loud enough to make him jump.
"But--" Joe was struggling, but somehow the smaller man had manoeuvred himself around, and was holding Joe down in the shadows where the new light didn't reach. There were voices up ahead, and Joe could hear them now - could distinguish them, and recognise them, and know them for who they were. The voice of Anthony Geddes rang out in the daylight.
"Well well well. What have we here?"
"Keep quiet." Kronos held Joe down, staring ahead into the ring of light where the door had been wrenched open. Joe could see Thane and Reuben, and a handful of their colleagues, being held at gunpoint on the grassy hillside beyond the tunnel's exit. Methos was there as well, his sword being torn from him by one of the loyal members of the Involution guard. From the tenseness of the old man's shoulders, Joe guessed that a likely explosion was only just staying under control.
"What's going on?" It was obvious what was going on, but Joe wanted to ask anyway. He wanted to hear Kronos tell him what was going to happen next. The dark Immortal shifted, changing his grip to a one-handed hold on Joe's shoulder.
"What do you think."
"We've got to do something. They must know that we're here..."
"They know nothing." Kronos put all of the menace he had into these words, and yet for the first time Joe found that he was not afraid of the older man. He felt only friendship for him right now - a shared concern for their situation. "They're leaving."
"Why?" Joe struggled to free himself, and now that the Involution was moving away from the door, Kronos let him sit up to watch what was going on. He saw several men, several groups of men, walking down the hillside. Methos and Costas and Andros Thane were in the centre, unable to look back for fear of giving their friends away. "Great. Just great." Surprising himself with his anger he lashed out, knocking Kronos away from him, freeing himself of the restraining hand, and sending the Immortal tumbling a short distance back down the tunnel. Fire flashed in the cold blue eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it had arrived.
"I'm sorry." Pushing past him, Kronos strode into the light. The hot sun shone down on him, but if he felt it to be uncomfortable through his layers of black clothing, he gave no indication. Instead he stared after the others, muttering words that Joe couldn't catch - and which he was fairly sure that he wouldn't have understood anyway. Finding the going awkward on the rough tunnel floor, and finding the raised exit surprising difficult to manoeuvre - perhaps because of his simmering anger - Joe stumbled his way in pursuit. He was surprised to find Kronos helping him, guiding him out of the tunnel and onto the hillside. A little of the Watcher's anger faded away.
"What do we do?" He was hoping for an answer, hoping that this ancient and terrible warrior would be able to take the responsibilities and find them both a way through this. The pale blue eyes that turned to look at him were painfully young, and reminded him of Methos in the times when the thousands of years somehow stripped themselves away.
"We rescue them." Kronos stared after the departing figures. Joe shook his head.
"We'll never manage it. MacLeod... we have to get in touch with MacLeod."
"You think he'd help us?" A hand caught Joe's collar, hauling him almost from his feet. "MacLeod will kill us. First me, and then you. It wouldn't be it a fair fight - not one on one. With his hatred of me, your precious Highlander would happily break all the Rules, just to see me wiped from the face of the earth. I'm still getting used to this body, Dawson - I'm still learning how to make these muscles work for me - and I don't know if I can fight him yet. I certainly can't fight them both. Not at the same time. There wouldn't be any opportunities to explain, to plead, to argue. If we go after them, they would kill us - and then Methos and the others will die too."
"Then what can we do?" Joe was pale, worry filling him. Kronos turned away, releasing him so suddenly that they both nearly lost their footing on the steeply sloping ground. For the first time, Joe saw indecision in those cold eyes, and the look of a man who was out of his depth.
"I don't know." Turning away, Kronos refused to meet the mortal's eyes. "I'm sorry Dawson. I just don't know."
The airport was bustling with activity, a hundred thousand tourists - or so it appeared to the casual eye - all running this way and that, mixing with each other, regrouping, mingling; darting into shops, dashing for luggage trolleys, criss-crossing about until they seemed to be part of one giant being; a shoal of fish, acting as one greater whole. Of all of them, only two did not behave like the masses; and those two were standing at opposite ends of the airport.
They sensed each other even amidst the noise and chaos, and they strode towards each other as though the milling mortals in between did not exist. Only when they were a few hundred yards apart, and finally had a clear view of each other, did they smile and begin to move faster. An echo, perhaps, of the excitement around them; or perhaps just a genuine gladness to be together again.
They did not at first glance appear to be related. In point of fact they were not - for neither had a family that meant anything in genetic terms, and neither knew anything of who might really be their kin. But in all that mattered they were cousins, and when you were immortal, and alone in the world, such things mattered far beyond normal mortal bonds of kinship.
The first was a tall man, gracefully built, with the poise of one who could fight in a hundred different ways, and be sure of winning every time. He had long brown hair tied back in a silver clasp, marked with intertwined patterns of a Celtic design. He was dressed in shades of grey, mirroring his darkened mood, and he carried a long bag that his cousin recognised. It held a sword; a katana; a weapon of beautiful balance and design that had stood its maker proud for several generations. This first man looked to be in his mid thirties, but there were shadows and mists in his dark-coloured eyes that marked him out for something else - something full of secrets and destinies, and unpleasant tasks that he had come to this place to fulfil.
The second man, if it were possible, cut an even more curious figure than the first. With his young face and boyish smile he could have passed for any age between eighteen and thirty; but his dark eyes were even more peculiar than those of his cousin. They were old and wise, and young and fiery; they held all the wisdom of the world, and yet they shone with all the innocence it was possible to possess. This man, smaller than the first, with a build that suggested at speed rather than fluency, did not carry a bag. His sword hung at his waist, hidden by the long coat that swirled like shadows around his legs. Customs regulations did not bother Connor MacLeod, any more than they bothered Methos or Kronos. He wanted to wear his sword - and so he did. It was who he was.
"Connor." The first man, with his American/Canadian accent, no longer showed any traces of the wild Scottish Highlands in which he had grown up. "It was good of you to come."
"I had to come." The second man showed even less of his Scottish heritage than his cousin. Instead his voice was French, perhaps, carrying with it echoes and sounds of other places, other times, other cultures. It was soft, with the hint of a dangerous whisper, and it matched the ever changing mystery of his eyes. "For you."
"Yeah." Quite suddenly Duncan couldn't look at his companion. "You understand then?"
"I think so. I know the legends, and I've heard the rumours." Connor shook his head, looking rueful. "I knew them both once, you know. I worked with them once."
"If this is too hard for you..."
"No." Connor reached out, touching his cousin's rigid, tense shoulder. "You can't do this alone. And you have no one else."
"Not anymore, no."
"Then you have me. And we will do this together." Connor turned about, facing towards one of the many exits that led out of the airport and onto the streets. "Do you know where to start?"
"Yeah." MacLeod lowered his eyes, looking heartbreakingly sad - and powerfully resolute. "There's a homing beacon in the cane Joe Dawson always carries with him. It'll lead us straight to them."
"And then we shall kill them." Connor nodded, his mysterious eyes quite shockingly cold for a man capable of so much warmth. "If that is what we have to do..."
"Then that's what we'll do." Duncan nodded. "Yeah, I know. There isn't any other way out of this now."
"You sure you're up to it?"
"Yeah." Duncan looked down at his cousin, seeing the wisdom he had always aspired to, and the love and companionship he could only hope would see him through this - through what he knew he had to do. "There isn't any other way." He had to believe that now, for he had spent all the time he could spare in thinking, and wondering, and in making his final decisions. There could be no talking now, no explanations. No opportunities to change his mind, and lose his way again. "I'm going to find Methos. And I'm going to kill him."