THE CODE OF DIMACK
A Highlander/Kung Fu The Legend Continues Crossover
By Henry Wyckoff and Scott Vodvarka
January 22, 1996



Chapter 8

"Ya' know MacLeod, you're really starting to become a pain in..."

"The Quickening!" shouted Duncan, pointing frantically out the window of Peter's car. "The Quickening!!"

"That wasn't exactly the word I had in mind," Peter replied, missing the whole point of what Duncan was trying to tell him.

"No, you don't understand, Peter! You've got to get us back to your father's place! Now!"

Caine, who until now had been silent, echoed Duncan's sentiments. "I sense dark forces at work, my son! We must make haste!"

"Okay, if you say so, Pop. But I..."

Then, Peter saw it, the lightning in the distance, the shattering glass, the pyrotechnic display, and he quickly stopped asking questions.

"Holy smoke! Okay, hang on to your hats!"

Caine took his son's advice literally as Peter floored the accelerator and took off at full speed, sirens wailing.

"Nice ride," groaned Richie. "Remind me to pick up my stomach on the way back."

When they got back to Caine's apartment, it was already too late. Jin Ming was gone. Lo Si was kneeling by the doorway, sobbing over the body of a headless child. But Duncan didn't need to see with his eyes what he already knew.

"Little bastard finally got what he deserved," thought Duncan. "So, why don't I feel like cheering?" But after listening to the Ancient's story about Kenny's sacrifice, Duncan quickly changed his tune. Suddenly, a bitter irony occurred to him. Though he had no love for Kenny, he'd died honorably. And Duncan felt a grudging respect for him now. //No greater love hath a man then to lay down his life for a friend.// But one moment of nobility couldn't wash away 800 years of sin. Could it? Well, could it? Duncan was fishing for answers he didn't have and he lacked the time to ponder them. He was rapidly running out of night. If he and the Caines didn't find Jin Ming by sunrise, Amanda would be dead and Kenny's sacrifice would have been in vain. Duncan swore to himself he wouldn't let that happen.

"Well, Caine. What pearl of wisdom can you offer now?" said Duncan, gesturing to Kenny's corpse.

Cain said nothing at first, shaken as he was. Then he turned to Duncan with a look of such sorrow that made his Immortal blood turn cold. For that moment, it was as if Caine's eyes held all the sadness of the world. And Duncan knew that this was a man who had been on intimate terms with death more often then he'd care to admit. His words flowed with the wisdom of ages, and struck a nerve deep within Duncan's heart.

"Before we wake, we cannot know that what we see in dreams does not exist. Before we die, we cannot know that death is not the greatest joy."

"What can I do?" asked Duncan, his quivering voice betraying his conflicting emotions.

Caine responded with a single word. "Mourn."

Apparently, that wasn't the answer Duncan wanted to hear. He forced his eyes to meet Caine's penetrating, all seeing, all knowing gaze. "Mourn? Is that all?!! How can you stand there and tell me you don't want Jin Ming dead as much as I do?"

"You are...afraid. I sense your pain. It runs deep. You have already lost one who was dear to you. Despite all your strength, skill, and powers...you could do nothing to keep her from dying. So, you immerse yourself in vengeance, as if that could bring back those you love and ease your suffering. And now you fear it will happen again."

*Tessa! He's talking about Tessa! Damn his eyes! It's like he can see right through me!*

"Dammit, Caine! Release me from this vow! If I don't have the right to avenge, who does?"

"No one." Caine replied.

"I have to kill him! Don't you understand? I have to do it for Amanda...and Kenny." In his ranting frenzy, Duncan grabbed Caine by the shirt and shook him hard. The two men locked eyes...and Duncan released his grip like a spring. Duncan felt certain he was stronger than Caine and probably faster, too. But something in the way Caine looked back at him told him not to push his luck. There was an inner strength to Caine, the likes of which Duncan would never possess, even if he lived another 400 years.

"There is nothing you can do for Kenny now. If you kill Jin Ming...you will become like him. A killer. Is that what you wish to become?"

"I'm not a killer, Caine. I'm a warrior. There's a difference."

"War is a word men use to clothe the nakedness of their killing."

This wasn't going anywhere. Duncan had heard enough. He stormed off in a huff, but he had to admit Caine's words had hit home. Damn! Damn, damn, damn!!

* * *


The sight of Kenny's headless form made Peter ill. It took all of his effort to pull himself together. Sure, as a homicide detective, he had seen more than his fair share of corpses. {Goes with the territory, kid.} [Oh, shut up, Kermit!] Child victims, however, always upset Peter the most. Even though Kenny, according to MacLeod, was a far cry from a child.

Just then Alan's car pulled up. He emerged from the vehicle with a dour expression of his face. Peter had a pretty good idea why. The sight of Peter standing side by side with a serial murder suspect who was supposed to be dead. . . "Alan! This is NOT what it looks like!"

But, Alan was neither surprised nor angry. In fact, he seemed to regard the current scenario with a sort of morbid fascination more than anything else. "There's no need to explain anything, Peter. I already know everything. The Immortals, the Gathering..." he seemed about to continue, but his voice trailed off and he averted his eyes, as if in guilt.

*Guilt?* thought Peter, who knew how to read a face. *Guilt for what? Unless...* "You knew all along!" he said, fighting to control his temper. "Didn't you?" Alan's expression confirmed Peter's suspicions. "All right, Alan! That does it! I wanna know once and for all just what the hell is going on! And who you REALLY are!"

"So would I!" said Duncan, who Peter noticed was staring at Alan with what appeared to be recognition. Peter wondered if they had met sometime before -- perhaps leaving on some kind of terms other than good.

Powys had considered misdirecting Peter, but he knew that with Duncan in the picture, he couldn't do it -- or at least with most of the important facts. "Very well, Peter... and Duncan -- you deserve to know. To answer your questions, I knew that there were immortals here in the city, and that all of the murders the US agents showed you were caused by immortals. But there was a great deal I was wrong about as well."

Powys looked at Duncan, "And yes, you have seen my face somewhere before. Your eyes and your instinct don't fool you -- Italy, sometime in the early 1640s, when you were traveling through with your friend... Fitzcairn, was it not?"

Peter, Duncan, and Richie looked totally shocked, while Caine accepted it. The Ancient was still mourning the death of the eternal boy.

"But how is it possible?" stammered Duncan. "I don't sense you! Even an immortal who took no Quickenings can be sensed!"

"If I can walk silently through a dark house with squeaking boards, does that make me unreal or impossible?"

"That doesn't make any sense!!" yelled Duncan.

Peter, for once, was beginning to use his brain. He believed he was beginning to understand, but only in a vague, edge-of-the-mind kind of way. "Let him continue -- we can pick at fine points later. *ARE* you an immortal?"

"A kind of immortal," admitted Powys hesitantly. "But I'm not like Duncan. Look in your history book, and you will find other immortals. The Chinese government has records of a man who lived for over two centuries -- I can't remember his name -- but he's there on paper. He died of old age and had countless children -- his many wives could attest to it."

"Then what are you?" asked the Ancient softly, sorrow dripping in his voice.

It took a few moments before Powys whispered, "Random access memory. I think you understand, Duncan. I hope you do."

Duncan had no idea what in the world what Powys was talking about, and said so.

Powys put a finger over each of Duncan's temples, in an almost sensual manner, and Duncan found that he couldn't pull away as he would reflexively do. "You were there."

For the others, only a moment passed. For Duncan, it was a flash of memory that lasted forever...

*


...Duncan and Fitzcairn were walking down the narrow Italian street. Duncan walked with a stiffness and dignity that screamed 'nobleman' whereas Fitzcairn smoked from a pipe and carried himself in a manner that said he was a blatant commoner.

"You know," Fitz smiled wistfully, "I really miss Catherine."

Duncan nearly jumped in shock, "Don't remind me of her! She's a sick, perverted abomination! I hope the Cardinal deals with her harshly!"

Fitz smiled wickedly, "Did you know that the Cardinal is the brother of our Princess, not to mention the fact that he's dealt with her harshly on many an occasion?" He made spanking motions, slapping his closed fist.

"You're sick!"

"No, friend, what I am is full of adventure -- you're too stolid and prudish!"

Duncan shook his head, wanting to strangle the man... and do it again when Fitz woke up. Before he could say anything, however, something caught the side of his eye. It was a man lounging up on a balcony -- a Celt by appearance, wearing a severe and studious look on his face. By all appearances he was a traveller -- he certainly wore no Italian clothing -- and perhaps a bard or a scholar.

It was just a glimpse, but it filled Duncan with a strong premonition -- only he didn't know what it was.

They reached an intersection, and found several foppish swordsmen blocking the way. They had the look of nobility about them, and their faces were full of boredom and rudeness. Several others emerged from closed doors behind him. They were surrounded by ten men in all.

"Good day, sirs. What is the trouble today?" asked Duncan in a polite voice, as if it was an ordinary occurrence.

"You," said the fop in an inelegant manner, drawing a broadsword. The fact that the man had a deadened mood was shaking Duncan's nerves. Somehow it was significant, but he just didn't know how. The fop's sword also alerted him -- here the weapon of choice was the light sword, not the heavy sword. Something was not right -- the fact that they were all mortal confused him even more.

There was no formal challenge -- no, "Death to the Duke!" Rather, the fight started as suddenly as a snap of the fingers. The only thing that had kept the two immortals from being immediately overcome was the small amount of room. It prevented them from running, but it also limited the number of people who could get to the two.

They drew their own blades and tried to fight off the fops, but within moments, they lay on the stone street, their limbs so slashed that they couldn't move and their blood mingled together in a sticky pool.

"Hold him up," commanded the head fop. Several others held the two up by the arms. "You will feed our Master!" He produced a black orb, which he held in his left hand. He put away the sword in his hand and brought out a short sword that seemed to be made out of the same material as the orb.

Before the fop could take the head of Fitz, an interloper arrived -- the same man that Duncan had seen only minutes before. He carried a weapon that seemed to be a perfect blending of a sword and a spear. Two fops were half-gutted from behind -- a neat trick, considering that the man did it with one motion. One fop spun around to kill the interloper, but his head came off.

There were now five fops left, and the head fop seemed to recognize the man, screaming, "Heretic!" as some semblance of life seemed to come back to him. Duncan and Fitz were dropped on the ground, still unable to move, while they watched the 'Heretic' slice the remaining five to pieces. The fops were skilled fighters, but were unable to match a man who fought like he danced -- as fast and nimble as the wind, and as smoothly as the wind waving fields of grass. One man ran away, and the interloper hesitated a moment, and made the reluctant decision to stay.

The two immortals looked at the man in awe -- for a mortal, the man was good enough to be a legend, but by looking at him, they couldn't recognize him. He approached them, squatted down to their level, opened his eyes in shock when he realized that they weren't wounded and dying, but rather wounded and healing. For some reason, he looked regretful, saying, "It looks like you're having a bad day -- care for a spot of ale?" His accent was very Welsh -- smooth as cream -- but his Italian was impeccable.

Duncan couldn't help but smile, regardless of the pain that flooded through his being, "Your ale's a sight for sore eyes!"

The Welshman laughed, "I'll wait until you heal enough to walk, then I'll take you to my place."

Fitz gained some of his wits back, "You know about us?"

He smiled tolerantly, "And I know a lot more than that. For an immortal you tend to miss the obvious. Next thing you'll be telling me the earth is flat."

Duncan and Fitz looked at each other in puzzlement, "It's not?"

The Welshman shook his head sadly, "Copernicus long and dead, and *this* is what the common man knows?..."

*


...Duncan returned to the present. "I remember now. You saved us from those Hunters and took us in for the day."

"They weren't Hunters -- they were people who aren't your concern, and have nothing to do with Amanda's plight." Duncan's eyes widened in shock. "Neither is the reason I came here. I hate to tell you this, but I followed a bad trail here. I thought that the people *I* was hunting were doing the work of killing immortals, but apparently I was wrong.

"You might say I'm here because of a bad roll of the dice, and I'm just along for the ride now. The only reason I am here tonight is because I wished to meet with Master Caine and ask for his help in finding the right trails." He looked at Peter, "I had no idea that this would happen -- I just recognized what I saw."

"Wait a moment!" snapped Duncan. "Who are these other people, and what was it that happened back then that is so significant now?"

"It's none of your concern, but if it means anything to you, I was after the man with the black orb and sword. The man has long since died, but the items still exist. I know they're somewhere in this city."

Duncan appeared mollified, at least for the short term, but it was evident that he would continue this conversation at another time.

Caine looked at Powys with narrowed eyes, "We do not have the time now, but you *WILL* tell me your whole story." His voice was as firm as a man talking to a rebellious teenager.

Powys bowed Chinese fashion, "I am a storyteller. When the stage is set, I will perform, but not until then. You certainly know the value of patience -- fifteen years worth."

Caine nodded. Peter's eyebrows shot up, but he forced himself to remain quiet -- Caine wasn't the only one who would be asking Alan questions later.

* * * *


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