The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part VI -- Cats Eyes
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995


Chapter 4

Coleen blew out her breath slowly, while Richie and Methos sat in silence.

"That's a problem with justice and immortality," Methos said quietly. "There is no justice for the victims, or even satisfaction that you'll meet your end. And when they find out that you've learned your lesson, and you've truly reformed, it makes them wish they were dead."

"It makes me wish *I* were dead," muttered Coleen.

"And that's where there's no justice for immortals. If you've truly learned your lesson, and you feel regret, you'll most likely feel it till the end of your days. But since you've reformed, then what good is the guilt and the pain? It's not doing anyone any good."

Methos began to land the plane, as they were almost out of fuel and there was an air strip not far away. "I've arranged for rooms and dinner. I suggest you get some sleep, since we're going to be leaving quite early tomorrow."

The plane landed quite smoothly -- Richie was beginning to lose his fear of Methos' flying skills, but not quite enough, so he found himself quietly thanking his god for delivery to the ground in a safe manner.

Everyone had to take a few minutes to adjust and get their land legs back. It was painful, feeling the cold seep into their bones -- even with their snow clothes -- just as they were trying to untie all the knots in their joints and muscles. Even Methos and Coleen, who could be too stoic for their own good, felt it.

After this ritual was finished, they took a good look at the place around them -- a grimy camp that could have been a fur camp just as much as it was a refueling stop. The buildings were still wood and stone, and the wood looked black and sooty. The roads were all half-frozen mud, without any concrete in sight. The only signs of any modernization were the fuel containers and the hangar.

"Needs a decorator," muttered Richie, ignoring the looks that Methos and Coleen gave him.

"Have you been here before?" asked Coleen in a whisper.

"No," admitted Methos. "I had the arrangements made through a travel agent -- I told him to get me something that's directly on the route, but nicely out of the way."

"This *is* out of the way. I haven't been here either, but I've been to a lot of places like it. Take my lead." Coleen knew who Methos was, but she was also young and disrespectful enough to blow off the 'aura' of Methos. "Our first stop is going to be the bar."

"I don't think you've spent enough time away from Axer," muttered Methos. "This is what he would do." Nevertheless, he walked with her as she tried to get her bearings.

"He's also alive and in good health -- and can fight off anything that comes his way," she looked pointedly at him, not saying anything more blatantly.

Richie kept a few feet behind the two, listening intently without appearing to. //This is too good...//

He didn't take an argumentative tone, but it was apparent enough that Methos wanted to end this... discussion... with the last word. "He's also a target whenever he steps out of the bar. Do have any idea how many people have targeted him? He had a different name, but I knew of him as far away as Syracuse while the Romans were still trying to conquer Gaul -- and that's not an insignificant feat.

"The brash and the murderous sought him from all over the known world, because he was known as a good swordsman. That's when he became an executioner, and when things got too bad for him, he became a drunken executioner.

"And this is your role model?"

Coleen frowned, "No." She walked ahead of him, while Methos fell back, frowning as well.

Richie didn't say a word, and walked along with Methos, keeping his ear open for whatever Methos might say. He said nothing all the way to where Coleen waited, smoking a cigarette -- which neither one of them had seen her do before. The building looked like a large cabin, with a lot of smoke going out of the chimney, and unsurprisingly, there were no windows.

When they reached her, her whole expression had changed, as if she was someone they'd rather not meet while walking through a seedy part of town. Only her expression had changed, and yet it seemed to turned her into a totally different person.

Even her accent was different -- raspier and ruder, "Come on. Do you want to stand out here all day?"

Richie and Methos shrugged, saying nothing. They walked inside, finding a sight that they had both seen before, and hadn't looked forward to seeing again. The place was full of a bunch of grimy, bearded men drinking cheap beer and behaving pretty badly. They got quiet very quickly as they noticed that three outsiders had entered. They grew even quieter as they noticed two 'clean' men and a woman. A few began to snicker and mutter to one another.

One man, with the build of a lumberjack and towering over six feet, stepped directly in Coleen's way. In comparison, Coleen looked like a frail child. "You look lost." Everyone else sniggered. Richie and Methos looked worried.

"I know where I'm going," she smiled right at him with the right touch of bitterness and annoyance. "I don't think you do. Your drink's over there," she pointed to a mop bucket in the corner. Everyone laughed loudly now.

The tall guy got pretty angry at this point, and he grabbed at her -- and was on his knees, howling in soul-wrenching pain as she had both of his pinkies bent back to the breaking point. The laughter stopped, and everyone -- including Richie and Methos -- stared with dropped jaws as she glared at him cold-heartedly, "I'm here to get a drink, not play around. Go mind your own business."

Coleen let him go, and he stumbled back a little, standing up. "You b--" He found himself on his knees again.

A hand grasped his throat, separating the windpipe from the rest of the neck, slowly crushing it. "Back off. I mean it." He gurgled a bit, his eyes widening and his hands unable to pry hers off his throat.

"STOP IT!" yelled a new voice. A grizzled old man pulled out a shotgun from behind the bar. "You've made yer point, little lady. Now let 'im go!"

Coleen released her hand, and he slumped to the floor, crawling away. She looked angrily at the old man, "Just make sure I don't have to make it again."

He nodded, whispering, "Sit here and have a drink on me. To tell you the truth, 'e needed to be taught a lesson." He put the shotgun back under the table and shouted to everyone else in the room, "The show's over! Get back to yer drinkin'!"

The room returned to its previous state, but a space was cleared around the three newcomers. The old man poured all three a nameless whiskey, "I'd be askin' you what you want, but all we got is whiskey and beer, so that's all yer gettin'."

Coleen slammed it down without even a word of thanks, and didn't make any faces. Richie and Methos did make faces as they daintily sipped theirs. The old man looked at Coleen significantly at that point, and turned most of his attention towards her. "What'll you be doin' here?"

"We're just moving on."

He nodded, asking quite directly. "You wouldn't be headin' for the Landin', would you?"

"What would make you ask something like that?"

He laughed bitterly, "There's only one thing that'll be bringing three clean faces like you up here, and not only that, but three clean faces wearing swords." He whispered once more, "I hear Odin's woken up from his sleep, and he's made himself a camp. He hasn't moved an inch -- it looks like he's howling himself to death on something nasty."

"Who are you?" demanded Coleen in a whisper. Then a thought occurred to her, and she said, "Show me your wrists." The man's wrists were covered.

He smiled, uncovering them. His forearms didn't have the Watcher's tattoo, as she had expected, but rather showed burn scars on each inner forearm showing images of the dragon and tiger.

Richie had seen that only one other time. It had been during that 'Jin Ming' episode, when Duncan and Richie had come to Toronto because 'something' had happened to Amanda. It had been a priest who had saved Amanda from another immortal and done everything in his power to keep her alive while she lay dying from a very specialized poison. "Shaolin."

The old man bowed slightly, smiling. "To answer your question, I am Kwai Chang Caine. It is good to see you again, Richie."

Methos' eyes were bulging as if he were trying to convince himself that he wasn't crazy. "It *can't* be you! You died!"

"And you do not sense me?" Caine smiled.

Methos turned even whiter than he already was. "What are you?"

"As I have already said, I am Shaolin."

Caine and Methos locked eyes, and both remembered...

*

...It was Vienna, a frosty December in 1975. Methos was ignoring the sights and sounds of the city as he walked sullenly through the streets. He would in twenty years tell Duncan MacLeod that he hadn't taken a head in two hundred years, and that was true. But trust an old one to have secrets.

Methos was hunting. The man was named Adolf Hitler, a brutal and vicious immortal who had actually met his death in Berlin on that fateful day, and had emerged a new man with a new identity. No matter what the Nazi hunters did, they would never find him nor his body. He hadn't changed that much -- just a few cosmetic appearances that made most fail to recognize him, and those few would stop themselves, saying, "No... It couldn't be..."

He had trailed him across the whole of Austria and Hungary, and found its end at the Museum. There could be only one thing here that would draw Hitler, but whatever it was, Methos had no idea. Following the presence, he found his answer.

Hitler had busted the casing protecting an ancient spear -- the spear of a Roman foot soldier -- ignoring the many alarms that had gone off. His eyes were alight with insane glee as he held it aloft, "We shall be one, you and I, as we had been before!" He screamed not in German nor in any other modern language -- but in Gothic, which had died out many centuries ago. Methos knew bits and pieces, working it out after a few moments.

Methos wondered if Hitler wasn't a recent immortal.

Hitler then noticed Methos approaching, and recognized him. "Methos! They said you were dead!"

Methos bowed grandly, "I'm glad you appreciate it."

"Consider yourself honored. You will be the first immortal to feel the touch of the Spear of Destiny, wielded by *MY* hand!" His mind was gone in his own insanity. He wasn't human.

Methos laughed, "My friend, you've lost your reason." He drew a gun, shooting Hitler through the heart three times. The dead body plopped on the ground, a hand still gripping the spear. Methos approached, putting his gun away and drawing his sword. //Not much time...//

He raised his sword to strike, but Hitler sprang to life instantly, thrusting the spear through Methos, who sank to his knees and dropped his sword.

"You will stop!" yelled a voice in oddly-accented English. A wild-haired man stepped out from behind a statue, unarmed, but radiating an aura of strength and righteousness.

Hitler laughed, getting to his feet by leaning on the spear -- which forced Methos to his knees. He ignored the man, pulling the spear back out, stabbing it through Methos' heart. Methos groaned in agony.

The moan -- a monk -- intervened. For a supposedly nonviolent man, he had quite a knack for slamming Hitler against a wall with a single palm-strike and disarming him. Hitler wasn't fazed though -- he pulled out a gun and shot the monk through the heart, and ran off with the spear. Then the police had finally arrived...

*

...Methos shook his head, "You should have died."

Caine shrugged, "It was a flesh wound. I've had worse."

"Perhaps one of you had better explain this to us," complained Richie.

Methos shrugged, "It was back in Vienna..."

* * * *


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