THE CODE OF DIMACK
A Highlander/Kung Fu The Legend Continues Crossover
By Henry Wyckoff and Scott Vodvarka
January 22, 1996
"Mac, will you at least TALK to the man!" insisted Richie as he and Duncan made their way through the airport. "Dawson's stuck his neck out for you time after time. Hell! He even shot his own brother-in-law for you! Maybe he's got some info on this Immortal with the poison."
"Richie, we've been through this before. Joe and I come from different worlds. We crossed the line and now Charlie's dead."
"Oh, will you give it a rest for Pete's sake?!! Stop blaming Dawson for Charlie's death! It was Kord that killed him!"
"I don't blame Dawson."
"Yes, you do."
"No, I don't."
"Yes, you do!"
"No, I don't!! Stop arguing!!"
"I'm NOT arguing! It's just conversation."
"Well then, end of conversation," finished Duncan. He was beginning to get the sensation of deja vu. He remembered having many of these so-called conversations with _his_ mentor, Connor, which invariably ended with Duncan sprawled out on the floor, knocked unconscious by his teacher. Even now, he could swear he heard Connor's voice echoing in the back of his mind, like a ghost that kept fading in and out of his life.
"You know what your problem is?" Connor would say. "You live in the past!"
"Hey, Mac..." came Richie's voice. As if Duncan had forgotten he was there.
Duncan blinked then snapped out of his reflective state. "Huh? Yeah, what is it, Richie?"
"They just called our flight. You coming? Or did you plan on walking all the way to Toronto?"
"Oh, right. Sorry, I was just..."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Another flashback. I swear, you must be getting senile in your old age. Is that what I hafta look forward to when I hit the big 400?"
"You should live so long," Duncan joked as he ruffled the younger Immortal's hair.
* * *
"Hey, copper! Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer!"
Peter's eyes had been so captivated by the comatose beauty sprawled out on the table of his father's apothecary, he had forgotten the small fair haired boy sitting by her side. He was also unaware that he had been staring, and now felt rather embarrassed.
"Sorry," said Peter, forcing his attention now on Kenny. "Is this your Mom?"
Kenny glared at him for a moment before answering. More like the glare of a jealous lover than a son, Peter thought. "She's my...my teacher."
This made sense to Peter. In wasn't uncommon for grammar school kids to develop crushes on young, attractive female teachers. What they were doing together at this ungodly hour was another matter, and Peter wasn't exactly sure he wanted that question answered. He came closer to the boy and squatted in front of his chair so as to maintain eye contact.
"Kenny," he said softly in his best child nurturing tone. "My name's Peter. I'm going to try and help your teacher. But, to do that I first need to ask you a few questions. Okay?"
All of Peter's lessons in child psychology went up in smoke in less then a heartbeat. "Who the hell is this idiot?" exclaimed Kenny, regarding Peter as if he weren't even there. "We need REAL help, not some hard up keystone cop!"
"Excuse me a minute," said Peter. He pulled his father aside and the pair walked out onto the terrace to confer in private.
Caine seemed to anticipate his son's unspoken thoughts. "My son, the truth is staring at you right in the eye, and you do not see it. Let yourself truly _see_, and you will understand."
"Pop, what I _see_ is some smart alec kid in need of a spanking."
"Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them."
"Why do I suddenly feel like Luke Skywalker?"
His father look at him, perplexed, and raised an eyebrow. "Luke...Skywalker?"
"Never mind. Look, if that woman in there has been touched by the poison hand of the Dimack, we're gonna be a little pressed for time. So, if there's something you'd like me to know, I think a straight answer would be in order right about now."
"Very well. It is as you suspected. Amanda _has_ been poisoned by the Dimack, as was Dr. Parker and his colleagues during our last encounter with Thomas and his Master Holmes. It seems another has risen to take Holmes' place as the cult leader."
Peter eyed his father suspiciously. "Lemme guess, Pop. You crossed paths with this new leader?"
"Exactly. That was how I came to meet Amanda and Kenny. Amanda had already been struck by the serpent's strike when I arrived. And, the same fate was about to befall Kenny had I not intervened. Though he has yet to tell me why. I sense he is...reluctant to trust me...or anyone for that matter. He has...a very hard heart for one so young."
Something in the way Caine said the word "young" suggested that it wasn't an entirely accurate adjective. But, if his son noticed this, he made no remarks about it.
Peter spared a glance back at the Immortal street urchin. "Tell me about it. So, what _did_ he tell you? Do you at least have a name to go on?"
"Ah. I do, indeed. His name is Jin Ming."
Peter paused to consider the name. "Hmmm. Doesn't ring a bell. But, I'll look into it. Thanks, Pop." He turned to leave, but Caine laid a restraining hand on his shoulder.
"You must be careful, my son. This man's aura is as black as pitch! Strange things are afoot here, an evil...the likes of which we have never faced before. Not even when we faced the Dark Warrior in Shamballah!" Caine had a dazed, faraway look in his eyes. The kind of look Peter was all too accustomed to seeing whenever his father tangled with the occult.
"I'll be careful," Peter said simply, faking a confidence he didn't feel. He made for the door, but stopped where Kenny was seated next to Amanda.
"Hey, kid. I know you're hurting. And my father and I wanna help. But we can't help you if you won't let us."
"I've already told your father all I know!", said Kenny with hostility.
"Why don't I believe you? There's something you're holding back from us! What is it?"
"If you're so damn smart, why don't you figure it out for yourself!!?"
Peter leaned closer to his father's indignant guest, forcing Kenny to look him in the eye. He seemed about to rebut Kenny's sarcasm until he saw something in the boy's bitterness that reminded him of himself during his days at the orphanage.
"You know...I've been where you are. When I thought my father was dead, I was sent away to live in an orphanage. And I was bitter and angry just like you are now. I blamed the whole world for my pain and I lashed out at anyone I could."
Kenny rolled his eyes, as if he had heard this same speech, in some form or another, a thousand times before. Which wasn't far from the truth. But, Peter continued. "Until I learned that there were people in my life who really cared about me and..."
"Look, copper!!" Kenny interrupted rudely just as Peter was about to tell him about his foster father, Paul Blaisdale. "There's NO WAY you could have lived through what I've been through!! So, just save your little pep talk for somebody who gives a flying fuck! Okay?"
Peter went rigid, as he could have sworn he had just been addressed by grumpy old man. He said nothing at first, only stared at Kenny with a look that betrayed conflicting emotions of anger and sympathy. Then, he said, "Ya' know, Kenny. You have one HELL of an attitude," before finally taking his leave.
Peter had barely been gone for ten minutes when Caine had another visitor. Lo Si, better known as the Ancient One. A title Kenny scoffed at silently. *Ancient, my ass! If he only knew!* Lo Si brought with him various medicinal herbs, presumably for Amanda. As if that could actually do anything. How do you cure a spiritual sickness like a poisoned Quickening? How do you restore life to an Immortal?
"Kwai Chang Caine!" said the Ancient. "I have returned with the herbs you asked for." Then, he pulled Caine off to the side, out of Kenny's hearing range before continuing. "What is it that troubles you, my dear friend? I sense the Dimack is not the only matter that weighs heavily on your mind."
"As always, you're perceptiveness serves you well, Master." Caine took a deep breath before proceeding. "When I was examining Amanda, not only did I detect the Dimack poison burning through her chi, I also felt something... peculiar. Something I've never felt before in all my years as a Shaolin priest and Shamballah master. Her aura is most unusual. The boy has it, too. I am not entirely sure they are even...human."
The Ancient did not look as surprised as Caine had expected him to. He simply nodded and replied in a whispered tone. "They are, and yet they are not."
Now it was Caine's turn to look bewildered, as his son often had. "You felt it, as well?"
"Yes. Even before you examined the girl."
"What are they?" asked Caine.
The Ancient began to shiver in spite of himself, but quickly regained his composure. And, Caine knew the answer would reveal a bone chilling twist in the very fabric of reality.
"When I was a boy in China," Lo Si began, "I had heard legends...folk tales...about men dying in battle, then rising from the grave...about beings known as...Chi-Yang. Immortals! They live among us, as humans, but they do not age and cannot die unless..." his voice trailed off.
Caine was able to surmise the rest of Lo Si's sentence. "Unless their heads are cut from their bodies."
"Yes." gasped the Ancient, obviously appalled by the idea. "How did you know?"
"A case my son is working on. It links the Dimack to a series of beheadings worldwide, and one in particular here in Chinatown. And, I would not be surprised if this Jin-Ming is responsible. And that his headless victim was also an Immortal like Kenny and Amanda. But, it still does not explain WHY he is trying to kill them."
The Ancient nodded in Kenny's direction. "Perhaps the boy can explain the rest. He may be more willing to confide in us if he thinks we suspect what he is."
Kenny was now in Caine's kitchen raiding the refrigerator. After 800 years of living on the streets stealing, scraping and begging for his daily bread, homecooked meals were few and far between. Kenny was stuffing a handful of rice into his mouth, slightly annoyed at the fact that Caine's only eating utensils were chop sticks, when his host entered the kitchen with Lo Si in tow.
"Mmph! Don't you have any meat in this place?"
"I do not eat meat," said Caine simply, unperturbed by the boy's gluttony. This was, after all, his tenth bowl of rice this evening. "How is your wound?"
Kenny began to fidget, swallowing hard on the rice. "Wound? What wound?" *Oh, nice going!* , he thought to himself, silently cursing his stupidity. Normally, he wouldn't let such a childish slip happen, but something in the way Caine eyed him made him nervous. It was as if Caine could pierce the veil of secrecy Kenny and all his fellow Immortals made a point of maintaining at all costs.
"The one you received from Jin Ming before I came to your aid. The one I treated not more than an hour ago. It may need further care. Let me see it."
"Oh, THAT wound. Well, ah...uh...I'm feeling much better now, thanks. Yeah, MUCH better. Uh...ah...how are you?" Kenny stammered, trying in vain to change the subject. Suddenly, he was that frightened little boy again. It was times like this that he hated himself more than ever.
"Your wound runs deep, Kenny," replied Caine. There was a double meaning in his statement. "Hidden in shadows, buried in secrets, the infection threatens to consume your soul. Show me the wound."
Kenny backed away. "That really won't be necessary."
"Show me!" insisted Caine. It was no longer a request. Faster than Kenny could blink, the Shaolin seized Kenny's arm and peeled back the bandages, despite Kenny's squirming protests.
"Hey! Lemme go!!" screamed Kenny, dropping the bowl of rice which shattered on the floor.
Having confirmed his suspicions, Caine released Kenny. "As I surmised, I have found no trace of your injury. Perhaps you would care to explain why."
"I heal pretty fast. You said so yourself."
Caine's unyielding, penetrating gaze said what the priest did not vocalize. *What kind of a fool do you take me for?*
Kenny sighed. The gig was up. No point in continuing with the facade. He might as well spill the beans. Caine was wise to him. If he wanted to help Amanda, he'd have to confide in this Shaolin mystery man.
"I am Kenneth Farrowfallen. I was born 814 years ago in the Yorkshire dales of England. I am Immortal."
* * * *