Irish Kegbomb of the Soul
by Henry Wyckoff

A Crossover between Highlander and Star Trek: Voyager

Chapter 2

The smoke cleared around me and I saw that I was in a very familiar place that meant a great deal to me. I had enough of my wits about me to know that it wasn't the real thing. The question was, did Chakotay slip me a drug that allowed me to recreate this, or was this a holographic recreation? I found myself believing the former. Somehow, he gave me something that made my dreams more vivid. I've been drunk enough and taken enough drugs to know that one can never enter a dreamworld such as this, and have it so vivid that it's just like the real world. Even dreams have a 'dreamlike' quality to them that one can detect; this had no such qualities.

I stood on barren ground before a ruined castle. The brick was gray as the skies above it, and moss covered most of it. I knew that I wasn't here in the present, because a city had grown all around what was left, and the weather had most certainly grown hot enough to kill the moss. It was an English castle, where I, a wayward youth, had fought with a mercenary troop and died in a failed attempt to storm the walls. I could even identify the rock on which I had fallen, a shattered ladder over my body, several arrows punched through my chest, and oil that burned so hot that perhaps I'd screamed even as a dead man.

I'd awakened in the middle of the night, unaware that I had been a corpse. All I knew was that I had been abandoned near the moat with the battle still raging all around me. Only a few men were left from my mercenary troop, and they were falling from arrows. Since I was a mercenary, and not a member of the army, I stayed. Army troops have no incentive because they're drafted and not paid; mercenaries volunteer and get paid after the job is done. I hoped to get paid.

"Chakotay?" I called out, sure that he could here me somehow.

"I'm here." His voice came from everywhere.

"Why have you done this?" I was furious at him, but I hid it, as I try to hide all of my emotions.

"We were worried about you, and knew of nothing else that we could do. You refused our help, and so I decided to at least make you face yourself, if you wouldn't face us."

"What do you mean?"

There was a soft laugh. "You never allowed yourself to meet your Animal Spirit, so you don't know the rules. There's only one rule in this place: keep everything to yourself. What you see here must remain your secret, and not even I can know what it is that you see."

I laughed myself. "All you had to do was say 'magic carpet ride' and I would have joined the fun."

"Excuse me?"

"Sorry. It's something from another time." I looked around once more. There was nothing living about, if you didn't call plants life. "So, what am I supposed to do?"

"It's your experience. Do whatever you want to. I'm just here to make sure you're all right on this end, and to call you back if need be."

That made sense. Everyone on a drug trip needs a designated anchor.

I looked around once more, and noticed movement within the castle, so I went in to investigate. Over the empty moat and through the gate I moved, nervously through the entrance, full of arrow holes. Out of reflex, I ran through, just in case. Nothing shot at me.

Inside, it was incredible. Though the outside looked ruined, the inside seemed to have much more energy within it. There were no signs of habitation, but the bricks looked newer and the moss was less established.

But where had the movement come from?

Out of the side of my eye, I saw a door to the corner tower shut. "Hey!" I yelled, running to the door. I was still a bit drunk, so I soon regretted that. I didn't slow down, but I did get sick to my stomach. Regardless, I ran on, and reached the door, which was firmly bolted shut.

"Open up!" I pounded on the door. "I mean you no harm!"

A chipper, cultured English voice spoke from behind me, startling me thoroughly. "She does not know that."

I turned around, drawing out a sword that happened to be with me in this place. It was the sword that I'd always had; a simple, straight sword that drew nobody's attention. The Englishwoman who faced me looked the part for this era. She could have been the very Lady of this castle when I had tried to storm it all those centuries ago. Or maybe not. Her clothes were of the most elaborate and delicate cloths, and the colors were regal. Small, priceless diamonds were sewn into the seams. "And who are you?"

Her expression was one of polite and dignified arrogance -- a type of arrogance that I could stand, at least. "I am Lady Elanor d'Ibarra."

My smile must have been vicious, "Lady, you don't have the looks of a Frank nor Spaniard, nor even the Basques I've known who have taken on the same name."

She smiled as well, "And you do not have the accent of a Basque, nor the Basque name your blood would demand."

"Touche," I nodded slightly. "Though how you know my name is beyond me."

Her smile was gentle. "I know everything about you, Pancho. I know that you died outside these very walls and woke up as an immortal. I know of your many travels through the world, of the mortals and immortals you've killed. Of your loves and enemies."

I shook my head. "Not too impressive for a figment of my imagination." I smiled wickedly. "But pretty impressive considering that I didn't think you up!"

The slap that came stung for a few minutes, but I was laughing. The Lady shook her head in disgust. "One would think that with all of your years, you would climb out of the gutter!"

I laughed even more loudly. "Lady, I have no incentive to speak in lies!"

Her loook was direct. "That is what you think of civilization?"

That's what got me started. "Civilization is a cleverly-constructed facade to hide the truth. Look at the high society! Look at what happens at the parties and the meetings, the speeches and the bedroom talks! Nobody ever spoke the truth and said what they meant. The more civilized you were, the more you talked with more than one face and played games. Should I have any reason not to hate civilization? Give me a raider or farmer anyday! At least they know well enough not to lie!" I realized something. "I believe we're going off on a tangent."

"Are we?"

"Yes. The real point of discussion should be, what are you and why are you here?"

She waved all around her. "I am the Lady Elanor d'Ibarra and these are my lands. What more do you need to know?"

"What is your function?"

She tilted her head. "What do you mean?"

"You're in my dream. Obviously I must have created you for a reason?"

"If you believe in your egocentricity that you are the Creator, then only you can answer that question."

"Great. I hate it when my words get thrown back at me..."

..."Pancho?" asked Chakotay with concern, shaking me awake.


"It's been six hours. Are you all right?"

"Sure," I muttered.

"Was it helpful?"

"Only confusing."

I didn't discuss it anymore, and he didn't press it.

* * * *

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