THE CODE OF DIMACK
A Highlander/Kung Fu The Legend Continues Crossover
By Henry Wyckoff and Scott Vodvarka
January 22, 1996
"Hey man, watch it!" yelled Peter's prisoner, a pimp doubling as an Elvis impersonator. "Thank you... thank you very much..." He scowled as Peter mercilessly shoved him forward against the booking desk.
"So," said the booking officer, "what do we have here?"
"An Elvis selling tickets to the Heartbreak Hotel --" he looked sharply at his prisoner, "and no singing!" Elvis pouted, muttering some gibberish about doughnuts.
The booking officer shook his head and started the drill. Meanwhile, a shaved head popped out from behind a door. "Hey, Peter! Over here NOW!" It was his boss, Strenlich. He was always in an irritable mood, but this time, he was positively agitated, to say the very least.
"What could it be this time?..." he muttered to himself. He didn't exactly endear himself to his superiors -- including his father -- with his unorthodox methods and bad attitude. The only reason he was still a cop was because he got results in one of the most difficult parts of Chinatown. He walked over to the office and found there were two visitors already seated. The door was shut behind him by two well- dressed suits wearing shades. The suits could have been weight-lifting champions for all he knew.
"Detective Caine," said one of the visitors, standing up. He was a well-aged older man with a strong New Jersey accent. "I'm Martin Halscombe of the FBI. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Peter shook Martin's hand. This explained a lot. "FBI? What would bring you all the way to Toronto?"
The other man, looking as seedy and roguish as Martin looked classy and distinguished, stood up and said, "It's a long story, but I can cut it pretty short. Please have a seat, detective."
Peter thought to himself, Yeah, you'll cut it short all right -- 'need to know' kind of short. "And you are?..."
"Lasker, from the CIA."
CIA? thought Peter. This is getting stranger by the minute. He sat down, and noticed that Strenlich was saying nothing. He just sat, looking very disturbed. This was not a good sign.
Martin handed Peter a file full of photographs, memos, and reports. "We're investigating a series of bizarre homicides which have been taking place all over the world. The only apparent patterns are: (1) the slain individuals have almost no connections in any way to one another, (2) their records are usually falsified, if they exist at all, (3) they are all decapitated, though many are not killed that way, (4) a few witnesses have seen an unexplained blast of electricity immediately following the decapitation, and (5) the weapon used for decapitation is in almost all cases a sword, with a few of the murders occurring by means of the same sword."
Peter looked at the pictures and saw body after body. He recognized none of them -- he left the memos and reports alone for when he would have more time to go over them. "That doesn't explain why you're here."
"Two of those murders have taken place in Toronto over the last week. One of them is in Chinatown, and the other is on the outskirts of the city. We have received permission to head the investigation of these crimes, but we wish to work with the local authorities in order to expedite our investigation. Seeing as you've developed quite a reputation for solving cases in Chinatown, we wished to recruit you for this job."
He waited for a moment, "Tell me more."
Lasker and Martin looked at one another, then Lasker spoke. "We wish to assign a new partner to you. Your current one, Jodi, got in a freak car accident while you were on route here -- don't worry, she's all right -- so we'd like to assign a partner who has had several years of experience in related cases: Alan Powys, an Interpol Agent. He's currently getting Canadian weapons licenses for his guns, so you won't be meeting him until noon."
The meeting ended, but Strenlich motioned for him to stay in the room. When the visitors left, the door closed once more. The man's expression was a tad short of tense.
"Peter," he spoke slowly and deliberately, "I want to impress on you the seriousness of this case." He leaned over until his face was just inches in front of Peter's. "I don't care WHAT you do, and I don't care HOW you do it -- I just want to see hard, DEFENDABLE results." He leaned back. "Get to work. Don't even come back to HQ until you've got something for me and the feds."
"What's bothering you so much?" he asked Strenlich. "We've had outsiders come in before, and killings are nothing new. What's bothering you so much?"
Strenlich blew out some air. "Take out the files. Pull out picture 14."
Peter did that. It showed a severed head. "I don't get it."
"Look at the face. How old would you say that man is?"
"I'd say about 35 or 40."
Strenlich nodded. "What's the man's name?"
He looked at the table of contents. "It's Paul O'Grady."
"That's the same Paul O'Grady I knew twenty years ago, and he was supposedly 45 at the time. He hadn't aged a day -- and officially, he's the same Paul O'Grady. Whatever is going on here is strange."
"He could have gotten plastic surgery."
"In some cases yes, but the coroner found no sign of plastic surgery, and he claimed that the man must have been 25, and that the only reason he appeared older was probably because of his mannerisms and appearance -- he just had the body to work with, and didn't know the rest of the story. After I let him in on it, he also said that the man must have been in perfect health because he had no cavities, no illnesses of any kind, and no health records --insurance, doctor visits, or hospital stays. I did some calling, and found that the Marines had no records of him, even though he was the man who got me started."
He leaned on the table, "I don't know what's going on here -- but I think you should be prepared for something very unusual. By the way, I knew him very well, and I know for a fact that he could have beaten anyone in a fair fight -- more than one person at a time. Whatever is going on, it was at least a one-on-one fight. I can't believe it was just another murder, no matter what they say. Now get going!"
Well, thought Peter as he left. That's a great way to start the day. I'm afraid to find out what would have happened if I'd woken up on the wrong side of the bed!
His next stop was Kermit's office. If Peter wanted to know what the feds were really after, Kermit would be the person to find out. As usual, Kermit had enough eyes in the back of his head to know who had just entered his office. "What's wrong?" he asked while still typing away at light speed.
"I've just been reassigned to a case -- the FBI and CIA are running it, and they want me to help them out."
"Oh... THAT case. It must be pretty serious for FBI, CIA, AND Interpol to be involved. Who's your new partner?"
"Some guy named Alan Powys. A Welshman, I believe they said."
Kermit stopped typing. "Alan Powys??" He turned around sharply and took his shades off, his eyes wide with disbelief. "ALAN POWYS?? I can't believe it!"
"Why? What's wrong with him?"
"Nothing's wrong with him -- that's the point! It's just that everything seems to go wrong all around him! I met him during one of my old jobs, and everything went wrong the moment he arrived! When he left, everything went back to normal -- or at least as much as it could. I can't go into details, but you'd better believe in luck -- good and bad."
"Was he a mercenary?"
"No. He was working for Interpol. From what I hear, he always goes after the strange, unsolvable cases, and comes up with a useful answer to the questions involved. Apparently, he isn't well-liked because he has an insistence of going after the truth. If there's a man who will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, it's him. He's made a lot of enemies that way."
"Look, can you dig up anything under the carpet about this case? There's something that doesn't sit well with me."
Kermit saluted sharply, "Will do. Now, if you don't mind, I want to find out what this mysterious Ms. Boffo is wearing underneath her trenchcoat..."
His head spinning, Peter walked out of Kermit's office, desperately wishing for a book of answers to fall out of the sky, or better yet, an official word from God Himself saying that Peter Caine could be excused from strange cases.
Peter soon met his partner, a flannel-wearing Welshman who looked like he'd just crawled out of bed. He'd known a few from the British Isles in his time, and no matter where they came from, they were usually quite tidy and -- well -- civilized. This one was civilized in manner, apparently, but was very untidy in appearance.
"Good day, Detective Caine," said Alan, holding out his hand. "I've heard a great deal about you -- I would have accepted no other partner." His smile was a bit sharp, and his eye had a twinkle, as if he were holding back a joke.
Peter shook his hand, "Just Peter. I take it you've been on this case for a few years."
"Yes. I've traveled over seven continents trailing these killers - - and I AM convinced we're not dealing with a single individual, or even an organized cult. I don't have enough evidence to back it up, but I believe we're dealing with at least a few hundred individuals who just happened to come across the same idea independently."
"That's pretty scary. I just hope you're wrong."
"So do I..."
"I heard you were getting weapons permits. What kind of weapons are you carrying?"
He hesitated, "I think you should know -- since you'll be working with me." He opened his coat and produced an automatic pistol and a rather large knife. "The gun is O.K. with most, but a few are pretty leery about the knife."
The knife caught Peter's attention. It looked ancient. "How old is it?"
"About fifty years -- it would look better if I kept it in better condition, but I never have the time. You know how it is..."
They left to investigate the murder scene in Chinatown. The body had been carted off to the morgue, but the physical evidence was still there. The photos of the scene had already been developed and handed to Alan, who scanned them on the way there. If he found anything, he didn't say. Mostly, the man kept to himself and had a personality that resembled Sherlock Holmes very much, minus the arrogance and - possibly - the intelligence that went with Holmes.
If anything, he seemed very mild-mannered and timid -- exactly the opposite personality one would expect to own a knife like that and plan to use it.
It was a slummy place, with rotting trash and dead stray animals. The killing had taken place right in the middle of the filth. Peter scanned the filth and saw something that caught his attention through the side of his eye. It was a ring -- a very unique ring.
"Dimack," whispered Peter. He remembered the doctor -- what WAS his name? -- who was one of the last targets of the Dimack. Dr. Rick Parker!
Suddenly, Peter was caught up in a flashback...
Master Liam Holmes, then cult-leader of the Dimack, stood towering over the dead body of his slain apprentice, Thomas, whom Holmes had seduced away from the Shaolin priesthood when Peter was still a boy studying at his father's temple. Now, the Master had turned on the student, draining his chi, his life force, from his body using the black arts they both embraced.
"You failed. You know the code of Dimack." Holmes had told his apprentice before sucking out his chi. "You know the fate that awaits you."
The Dimack were an ancient cult of sorcerers renown for their ability to poison a person's chi with the mere touch of a hand called the "Serpent's Strike" or "Poison Hand." Peter's father had led Peter and Kermit to Holmes' lair by removing the Dimack poison from Dr. Parker's chi...and absorbing it into his own, thereby putting his own life in danger. This was his father's way of tracking Parker's would-be murderer by becoming "one with the killer." Since two doctors were already dead from the Dimack poison and only the spellcaster could reverse the spell, the elder Caine saw no other alternative.
His plan had worked. Once they had found Holmes' hideaway, Peter forced Thomas to reverse the spell on his father. Thomas refused until Holmes appeared on the scene and commanded his student to comply, angry at Thomas' failure to complete his mission and kill ALL THREE doctors. After Thomas undid his damage, his master made him pay the ultimate price for his failure. Now, Peter's father, cured but still weakened from the Dimack poison, had faced off with Holmes.
"You have tasted the power of the Dimack, Kwai Chang Caine. It's power is incredible, is it not?"
"It is supposed to be used for healing!"
Peter then spoke up. "You! It was you who had Thomas poison those doctors!"
Holmes frowned at him with bitterness. "My granddaughter died of a rare blood disease while in their care."
"Her death was inevitable.", said Caine.
"No, Shaolin. Only YOUR death has been inevitable."
A fight ensued. Though weakened, Caine bested his foe who then transformed himself into a snake. But, before he could slither away, Caine had caught him and tossed the snake-Holmes into a fiery urn. Holmes hadn't been seen since, and was presumed dead.
It had been one HELL of a night...and one HELL of a case! But, it was over... until now!
"There must be a new Dimack leader in town.", Peter muttered to himself. "And, there ain't no room for the both of us!"
He knew that he couldn't report anything about the Dimack, but he could probably use it to nail the man who happened to be a Dimack. Peter turned to say something to Alan when he noticed the man was on the ground, looking for something.
"What is it?" he asked Alan.
"The foot-tracks. This is very interesting."
"What is it?"
"It appears that our victim was drunk when he came to this place and saw our murderer, who had been here the whole time. The victim fell to his knees, then got up sometime later. The tracks show that the man must have sobered up in an instant, because they show signs of a fair fight --and the tracks show that the other man was clean sober."
"How can you tell that?"
The next ten minutes were spent on foot-track reading lessons. "And you see the shape of the edges of the tracks? It's hard to tell an absolute age, but you can tell a relative age. That's how I can isolate their foot-tracks from the others." He paused a moment, "I just caught something new. It appears that our murderer was knocked back against the wall by something pretty hard, and he writhed around a little ways away, and then walked away rather slowly, like he was exhausted."
"I have a hard time believing this, Alan."
"The evidence is right before you. All you have to do is look at the foot-tracks and reason how they were made. If you have any other alternatives, I'll be glad to weigh them."
"I'll get back to you on that," Peter said. At least he claims to use PHYSICAL evidence, he thought. Pop just pulls it out of a hat. "In the meanwhile, I need to go after one of my informants, if that's O.K. with you."
"Go ahead. I'll meet you at Chandler's at 15:00 -- it's a nice Irish style pub I found a mile away. They have all kinds of ales and whiskeys."
Peter nodded, "I know the place. You can take the car. I'll meet you there."
Peter needed to talk with his father, who could be one hell of an informant at times. His home was about ten minutes away on foot. As he walked, he remembered what Strenlich had said. This was getting worse and worse.
* * *
Duncan picked up the phone. He had been in the bath tub, and was surprised to find it was still ringing after twenty rings. It must have been very important. It was. "Hello."
"Duncan MacLeod," said the voice on the other end, faintly familiar. "If you care for Amanda, you'll come to Toronto this instant."
"What's going on? Who is this?"
"Amanda has been poisoned by another immortal in a very unusual way. Unless you can intercede on her behalf, she will die. That man is breaking the rules, so don't be so noble about not interfering. Go to Toronto Chinatown this instant. Ask for Kwai Chang Caine -- he will help you."
The phone went dead before Duncan could say another word.
Richie looked at Duncan, "What happened?"
He said nothing for a moment, then ran over to the other side of the room and began to pack his bags. "We're going to Toronto. Now!"
"What happened?" repeated Richie.
"Amanda's been poisoned, and we need to save her. An immortal is breaking the rules somehow."
"Whadayamean, Mac? She's one of us! She can't be poisoned!"
Duncan twirled around, "SHUT UP, RICHIE!"
Richie held up his hands in front of him, as if he were warding off an attack, "OK... OK... Take it easy. It just doesn't sound right to me. It must be a trap. Why would anyone poison Amanda and not take her head?"
"Because that kind likes the drama of the hunt. He must have been born in Victorian England, or Byzantium -- they're the worst about that. They can't just take a head in a fair fight. They have to draw it out to weeks or months." He shook his head. "I thought they all got killed -- there was one among us who prided himself on his simplicity, so he killed all those immortals that he could find, simply because he couldn't stand a clever person."
"Who was he?"
"I don't know his real name, but he went by the name of John Halscombe."
"When are you going?"
"You weren't listening. I said 'we' are going. I smell a rat, but not in the same place as you do. You wanted to be a thief, so you'll have your chance."
* * *
Peter reached his father's house. His father was apparently preoccupied with something, because he was drinking the gray tea.
Oh man, he thought. The gray tea means he's in big trouble... "Hey Pop!" he said. His father looked at him, and he said, "...Oh, I mean 'Dad'... Look, I've got some trouble too. I need to show you something."
"What is it, my son?" he asked calmly. When Peter showed Pop the ring from the crime scene, his eyes widened, "Where did you get that?"
"From a murder scene. But, Dad, I don't get it. The murdered guy was decapitated! Why would a Dimack do that?"
"Yeah, with a sword. Look, Dad, this case is an international problem, and the problem just moved here. I need your help."
"And I need yours. Let me introduce you to two people who are intertwined with your case as much as I am."
"What??" he exclaimed with a jump. "What do you mean you're entwined?"
His father's look was both innocent and guilty. "Well, things just sort of happen. And there is more to it than even you know, and more than they know. Ironically enough, I do not know everything about this, but I have the one key that would provide answers to questions that no one has thought to ask."
"I don't know what you mean."
"You are about to find out."
* * * *