Keys to the Kingdom

Disclaimers and Notes at the end of the story.

                           Keys to the Kingdom
                  A Highlander / Early Edition crossover
                               By Slef

October 23, 1998, Chicago

The newspaper headline was somewhat more bizarre than usual.

      Decapitated body found after electrical storm

Gary Hobson sighed. It seemed that every day the paper came up
with weirder things for him to fix. Grumbling slightly he made his
way downstairs to the kitchen, where to his surprise, he found
Chuck already there, stressed up even worse than usual.

"Morning Chuck," he said, rummaging around for coffee.

"Hmpf," was all response he got as Chuck frantically paged through
what looked like a dictionary.

"Bright morning to you too," Gary said sarcastically and peered
over Chuck's shoulder. "What's wrong?"

Chuck sighed melodramatically. "Do you speak Latin, Gar?"

"No," Gary answered doubtfully. "Why?"

"Um, I have to find out what 'Dabo claves regni caelorum' means
before midnight..."

"And that would be, why?"

"Well, it's a... a..."

"A bet?" Gary supplied.

"No! No, not at all. It's merely a... a friendly... ah..."

"Bet." Gary said with finality. "What are the stakes?"

Chuck degenerated into incomprehensible stuttering, which gave
Gary the sinking feeling that he was yet again about to lose his

"Latin, you said?" he asked, defeated.


* * *

An hour or so later they tentatively knocked on the door of a Dr.
Adam Pierson, whose name they'd gotten from directory inquiries.
Dr. Pierson, who had a temporary grant for research in linguistics
at the Chicago Arts and Sciences Institute, was apparently the man
to talk to about old languages.

At the sound of a voice from within, Gary opened the door and
stepped inside, Chuck close behind. The dark-headed man behind the
desk looked up expectantly, revealing sharply planed facial
features and inquisitive eyes.

"Um, Dr. Pierson?" Gary began. Pierson nodded. "I'm Gary Hobson,
this is my partner, Chuck Fishman. We're wondering if you could
tell us what 'Dabo claves regni caelorum' means."

Pierson's eyes widened slightly. "Very interesting. Might I ask

Chuck opened his mouth to speak and Gary elbowed him in the ribs.
"It's a bet," he told Pierson, giving Chuck a look meant to wither
him to the ground, but failed miserably because Chuck had already
started looking around Pierson's office.

Pierson leaned back in his chair, a strange gleam in his eyes. "A
bet? What are the stakes?"

Chuck groaned. Gary shot him another look, this time hitting home.
"Chuck here, somehow managed to bet our restaurant that he could
find the meaning before midnight," he explained.

"And if you win?" the academic asked. Gary turned on his partner.
"Yeah Chuck, what if we win?"

"Um," Chuck began, frantically searching for something to say, not
willing to admit for one moment that he'd been tricked into the
whole thing; that for once he stood to gain nothing at all. But
that was basically the problem. "We get to keep the restaurant,"
he mumbled, giving up.

Gary's mouth dropped open. "That's it? We lose it or we don't? Who
did you make this bet with?"

Pierson was watching the exchange with enigmatic amusement. Chuck
looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but at the receiving end
of Gary's inquisition, but was unable to escape. "Uh, just a
guy... name's Ravi Signorelli..." He stopped as Dr. Pierson

suddenly bolted upright. "What?" Chuck asked. "You know him?"

Pierson nodded slowly. "Gentlemen, I think I should visit your

* * *

Back at McGinty's, having arranged with Pierson to meet him there
at 7pm, Gary finally got to sit down to check the infamous paper.
Chuck, somewhat subdued for the moment, did not even try to filch
the sports pages from Gary.

The paper had, characteristically, somewhat expanded on its cover

  Decapitated body found after electrical storm.

  The decapitated body of Dr. Adam Pierson, a linguist at
  CASI, was discovered outside McGinty's restaurant early
  this morning, according to police spokesperson David
  Reed. The owner of McGinty's, Gary Hobson, said Dr.
  Pierson had visited the restaurant the previous day.
  Police are still pursuing their inquiries.

Gary sat frozen in astonishment. Pierson getting killed outside
his restaurant? What for? And by whom? He had to prevent this.


Across the street from McGinty's, a dark figure waited patiently
for Gary to emerge again. He'd been watching a long time, and was
willing to wait a little more. He knew Gary Hobson had some kind
of window into the future, and he wanted that power. There was
nothing a man like him couldn't do once the future had been
written to suit him.

* * *

In his office, Adam Pierson, also known in limited circles as
Methos, the world's oldest Immortal, sat back and thought of where
he'd first came across those words. They had a long history, but
his part in it started in Florence...

1491, Firenze, Italia

Lying on his back in the soft grass, the sun soothing tired
muscles, Methos was as relaxed as he could possibly be. He'd been
travelling hard the past month, the wanderlust having grabbed him
once again, compelling him to move on before the community started
to notice his ageless existence. Now he was drowsing in the grass
in the hills outside of Caprese, near Arezzo. The village, further
down in the valley, was visible in the distance and the thin wisps
of smoke from numerous chimneys drifted lazily in the early
afternoon sky. So it was with some surprise and a little
irritation that he sat up when he heard approaching steps.

Over the hill a boy came walking, whistling and looking with
interest at rocks and plants. He stopped when he saw Methos
sitting there. "Good afternoon, signor," he greeted politely.
Methos nodded. "Are you travelling to Caprese?" the boy continued.

"Not specifically, no," Methos responded. "I'm merely passing

"Then where are you bound?" the boy asked. He was about 16 years
old, and strongly built.

Methos grinned. "I really have no idea. Do you live here?"

"Yes, signor... well, I was born here but now I live in Firenze."

"I see." Methos studied his young visitor. Dressed well, and
speaking with an educated voice. Not your common farm boy. "What's
your name?"

"I am Michelangelo Buonarotti, signor. My father owns some land

"So what are you doing in Firenze?" Methos asked.

"I am studying sculpture... " He paused. "Signor, if you would not
think me impudent... would you pose for me while I sketch you?" he
asked hesitantly.

Methos gave a startled laugh. "But why, Master Buonarotti?" he
asked. The boy blushed. "You have an interesting face, signor," he

Still chuckling, Methos gathered up his pack and got to his feet.
"Well, if I'm going to be your model, you'd better call me
Mateas," he grinned. "Lead the way, Master Buonarotti!"

So the 4509 year old man and the 16 year old sculptor made their
way down to the village under the mild Italian sun.

* * *

He stayed for a week, enjoying Italian hospitality after meeting
Michelangelo's father, Ludovico - a self-important man who was
much concerned with his guest's ragged appearance until he learned
that Mateas Pieroni was a doctor, travelling to Roma. Methos knew
to give him the answers he wanted to hear.

He spent a few hours gazing into the distance as young Michel
sketched his face. Privately he was amused, but found himself a
bit worried that he might, in the future, find himself
immortalized in stone ... a prospect which seemed likely because
Michel had undeniable talent. So much so, that he was studying
sculpture under the orders of Lorenzo de'Medici himself.

* * *

Five years later, Methos was excavating ruins in Roma, a task he
found somewhat ironic as he distinctly recalled building some of
those very buildings. Of course, at the time he did not enjoy the
work in any sense of the word, having been a slave with little say
in anything, much less the architecture. But now, working in a
team of people fascinated by the past, he could insinuate his
version of how things were into the common pool of eagerly
generated knowledge about the past. Europe was moving out of the
dark ages and it was the fashionable thing to be knowledgeable
about the Classical times.

They'd just unearthed a particularly fine piece of sculpture, and
Methos was brushing it clean and inspecting it for damage. Except
for missing fingers and toes, it was intact. A shadow fell over
his shoulder, obscuring the light. Methos got up from where he
crouched and turned around. A young man stood there, shoulders
muscled from wielding hammer and chisel in an endless battle with

Methos smiled in delight. "Michel! What are you doing here?"

Michelangelo gaped in surprise. "Mateas? I... I've come to study
the recently unearthed sculptures and ruins..."

Methos laughed. "And here I am, unearthing them. What a
coincidence!" He flung an arm around Michel. "Come my friend, I'll
show you around."

* * *

They were walking down the darkened streets that night, deep in
conversation, when Methos felt the distinct - and unwelcome -
tingle of Presence at the back of his neck. He reached for his
sword just as a dark shadow stepped from the darkness to face

The shadow spoke. "I am Wulf. I come to challenge."

Methos glanced at Michel. The young man was looking at the
stranger in confusion. Methos drew his sword completely, but
decided to avoid the fight if possible. "You fool, we're not

Wulf looked at Michel as if seeing him for the first time.
Recognizing the impasse, he gave Methos an ironic salute. "We meet
later ... I did not hear your name."

Methos gave a tight-lipped smile. "That's right, you didn't." He
took Michel's arm. "Come on, Michel, the man is drunk." And led
the way past the annoyed Immortal in the street.

They saw each other a lot over the next four years. Michel studied
the old sculptures and completed two of his own. One was a
magnificent statue of Bacchus, done in tribute to the Classical
sculpture and style. The other left Methos - the world's most
jaded man - with tears in his eyes. The Pieta, showing a resigned
Mary holding the body of Christ, moved Methos more than he could
explain. What he did know was that this would be known as one of
Michel's best statues. So he persuaded the young sculptor to sign
his name on his work, something he'd never done before and never
did again.

And then, in 1501, Michel left for Firenze and Methos started his
travels again, moving west and visiting Spain, then north through
Portugal and the Netherlands, where he settled for a while. Time
moved on as it usually did.

* * *

1546, Roma, Italia

As if the darkness wasn't enough, Methos had to wake up with the
very unwelcome tingle of Presence washing over him. A very bad
start to the day, that was what this was. Luckily he was more
sensitive than most to the approach of his kind, which gave him
some time to grab sword/run/hide/confront etc. Although in this
case his options were a bit limited, seeing that he was spending
the night, and indeed the day or possibly, week, in Rome's public
containment center, or, in more vulgar terms, its prison.

His presence in the prison was purely accidental, from his point
of view. An enterprising drinking buddy had somehow framed him for
the theft of several precious gems from the personal quarters of
the drinking establishment's worthy owner. Methos had still been
savoring one or the other beverage when the city guard grabbed

Prisons throughout history have been mostly uncomfortable places,
but Methos had become used to most circumstances and fell asleep
easily, ignoring his stinking cellmates and the rats scurrying
over his legs. But that ever-annoying tingle of Presence, that
woke him up immediately.

He was on his feet and looking for escape even before he was
completely conscious, but the heavy bars and worn stone walls were
too sturdy still... in another 2000 years he might be able to just
push over a wall, but not today. So he had to stand and wait while
footsteps approached his cell, and hope for the best. Whoever it
was probably wouldn't behead him in front of the other inmates or

Torchlight flickered and brightened the murky dark somewhat. Then
the warden rounded the last corner, rattling a bunch of keys.

"You!" he pointed. "Come with me." He unlocked the door, waited
impatiently while Methos made his way outside, squinting against
the light, and locked the door again. Methos followed him into the
corridor, where the Immortal waited.

The Immortal turned away, offhandedly telling the warden: "This
settles it, then."

The warden grumbled, then nodded. "He can go, but this is the last
time." Turning his head, he spat on the ground. "Merde! Walks in
here like he owns the place!" he muttered beneath his breath.

Methos ignored him, as did the other Immortal. He followed his
unknown benefactor (or nemesis, who's to know?) out of the prison,
keeping his head down and pretending to be confused, which wasn't
very far off the mark.

Once in the street, the Immortal stopped. "Well, I'm glad to be
out of that place! My name is Ravi ... who are you?"

Methos regarded him for a moment. "Marco Pieroni," he answered
softly. "Why did you get me out?" He didn't bother to state the
obvious, that he was at Ravi's mercy.

Ravi laughed. "Relax, Marco! I felt your Presence as I walked by,
and I couldn't leave a brother in that place. The warden owed me
gambling money, and here you are!"

"And here I am... so you're not going to challenge me just yet?"

"No, no ... fighting is so ... barbarous. I like having friends more
than I like taking heads."

"That's good," Methos responded. "I seem to have lost my sword."

"Then come, my friend. My home is nearby, and I have lots of
swords..." Ravi grinned, turning away.

* * *

Ravi lived in a luxurious villa on the outskirts of Rome, which
was not surprising, since he looked like the kind of Immortal who
would gather and hoard money every chance he got. He dressed in
the latest fashions, had beautiful servants and exquisite art, and
went to all the right social events.

Methos found it all a bit too artificial ... he also had lots of

money stashed away, for emergency use. He also had an emergency
sword at every cache ... but if Ravi were to give him another, he'd
not complain.

Several days as Ravi's guest and new best friend left Methos
exhausted. Never one for the social circuit, he found Rome's elite
pompous and insincere. He had barely escaped meeting the Pope, and
was doing his best to avoid meeting any more important people.
Anonymity had always been his goal, but Ravi would have nothing of

"You're an Immortal, Marco!" he'd say. "You are more important
than any mortal, because you have the chance to influence history
and watch it change as you want it." He spoke eloquently of his
"task" to mold the world into his vision, and assumed that Methos
would join his cause just because he asked. Methos, who'd seen
enough of history to want to avoid it at all costs too, became
accustomed to feeling slightly nauseous whenever Ravi started on
his favorite topic.

After three weeks he could take it no longer. He started looking
for a good excuse to leave, and walking past the Vatican one day,
he found it.

Building of the St. Peter's basilica had been slowly going on for
years, and it was nearing completion. Only the dome and altar end
was still under construction, and Methos walked onto the Holy
Ground purely out of curiosity. Craning his neck to watch the
workers clambering in the dome scaffolding, he almost walked over
an old man standing in his way.

"I'm sorry!" he exclaimed, helping the old man to regain his
balance. "I was looking..." He noticed that the old man was
regarding him very strangely. "What? What's wrong?" he asked,
worried that he might have hurt the man.

"Mateas?" the man asked hesitantly, the same moment that Methos
finally recognized him through his mask of age. His first thought
was "Oh shit!" Then his habitual calm took over and by the time he
had a voice, he could speak normally.

"Mateas was my grandfather," he said calmly. "Did you know him?"
He knew he couldn't give any sign of recognition, because that
would arouse suspicion.

"I knew him years ago," the old man answered. "I am Michelangelo."

Methos could safely let his delight in "meeting" the man show now,
because Michelangelo was indeed well-known and a master in his
craft. "My grandfather spoke much of you," he said, smiling. "My
name is Marco."

"Come then, young Marco," Michelangelo said. "Tell me about your

Methos let himself be led to the old man's office, mentally
scraping together a story that would hold up to questioning. He'd
had lots of practice doing just that through the years, but it
still shook him to see how quickly his friend had aged.

An evening spent talking to Michelangelo and Methos was up to date
with all the political trouble the poor man had struggled through
in his life. Now, when he should have been retired and living in
peace in a little cottage somewhere, he'd been appointed the Chief
Architect of the St. Peter's basilica project, and had designed
the wondrous dome that had so fascinated Methos that afternoon.

Saying goodbye late that evening, Methos wistfully mentioned how
much he would have liked to work on such a project, to which
Michelangelo immediately offered him a job.

He left whistling.

The next day, when he informed his host that he'd found a job,
Ravi flew into a fit of rage. Methos would have called it a
tantrum but for the genuine malice in Ravi's eyes.

"Fine, Marco!" he snapped finally, "You go and play architect, I
don't care. But once you've scorned my hospitality, don't expect
me to welcome you back." He watched Methos closely for a sign of
submission, but Methos had had enough.

"I don't know what your problem is, Ravi," he replied calmly. "I
may be your friend, but I'm not your property. I'll see you

With that, he shouldered his pack and left for the building site.
As he turned the corner, he could hear Ravi shout: "I'll get you,
Pieroni! There can be only one!"

Methos shrugged. He'd heard that one a lot. So far nothing much
had come of it, except some Quickenings for him. Immortals tended
to underestimate him.

Michelangelo welcomed Methos gladly on the site, and Methos
quickly became the Chief Architect's Assistant. He handled the
day-to-day instructions for the work crews and kept reports on
their progress. The old man, incapable of all that exertion, found
him indispensable.

Methos, for his part, enjoyed being part of the construction of
such a magnificent building. It was clear to him that the dome
they were building was something never accomplished before,
something truly unique. And the fact that he spent most of his

time on Holy Ground did wonders for his nerves.

Through the worker's grapevine, he heard disturbing rumors some
months later. Decapitated bodies were being found in Rome, some
with scorch marks on the cobblestone streets. Being Immortal, this
wouldn't have bothered him but for the pattern in which they were
being found.

As the weeks went by, they were found in an ever-decreasing spiral
around the Cathedral... and not all the bodies had been Immortals.
Someone was killing mortals just to plot out a spiral ... with
Methos at its center.

One morning, almost a year later, Methos froze in apprehension
when he felt an Immortal enter his range. Michelangelo, who'd been
briefing him on the day's work, regarded him quizzically: "What's
wrong, Marco?"

Methos remembered his company. "I'm sorry, I just thought..." he
trailed off as Ravi stepped round a pillar.

"I've come for you, Marco," he proclaimed arrogantly.

Methos seethed. "We're not alone, you fool!" he snapped. "And,

we're on Holy Ground. Have you completely gone mad?"

Ravi, who wasn't used to Methos (or anyone) speaking to him like
that, was momentarily speechless. The look he gave Michelangelo
would have fried anyone else, but the old man, not known for his
timidity, did not even flinch. Ravi snorted. "Hiding behind
mortals ... alright, you keep on hiding ... you can't stay here
forever, and when you leave, I'll find you." With that, he spun
around and left.

"Arrogant little..." Methos muttered. He wasn't afraid of Ravi, but
knew he had to do some quick thinking to explain the little farce
to Michelangelo.

To his surprise, the old man didn't ask anything, just continued
briefing him as if nothing had happened. Shrugging, Methos decided
not to push his luck, and didn't mention the incident again.

* * *

October 23, 1998, 6:45pm, Chicago

The dark figure lurking in the shadows across McGinty's
straightened in surprise when he felt the presence of an Immortal
approach. Not caring to be seen, he quickly slipped away into the
dusk, putting enough distance between himself and the other
Immortal to avoid detection. Standing still, he peered back at the
restaurant's door, just in time to see the Immortal enter...

* * *

Methos warily entered McGinty's, spooked by the presence of an
Immortal nearby. But since whoever it was had left immediately, he
hoped it signified nothing. He paused, looked around, and almost
immediately Gary was at his side.

"Dr. Pierson."

"Call me Adam, please," Methos smiled. "I'm off-duty."

"Right, Adam... um, something to drink?" Gary led Methos to a seat
at the bar, introducing him to the bartender along the way. As
soon as he'd sat down, Chuck came through a door in the back,
followed by a nice-looking black woman with a dog. Methos noted
with some surprise that she was blind. She moved surely through
the restaurant.

"Chuck! Melissa!" Gary called and they came over. Some
introductions later, Chuck remembered something. "So, Adam, what
does our mystery phrase mean?"

Methos smiled. "You've never been to Rome, I take it."

Chuck snorted while Gary stared. "Of course you haven't," Methos
continued. "Well, it's part of the inscription around the drum of
the dome in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It quotes the

Gary was looking at him in astonishment. "So why would this Ravi
guy bet Chuck on something like that?"

Methos suddenly looked troubled. "I don't know. The phrase holds
special meaning for me, but he would not associate you with me... He
must have some reason, though. Ravi and I have met before, see ...
and we're not exactly friends."

Gary remembered the paper's dire prediction. Was Ravi the one that
killed Adam? Then he had to ensure they didn't meet. He had to
talk to Adam alone.

"Adam, I have some antiques in my apartment, and... I wondered..."

"Sure," Methos agreed. "People are always asking me to look at old
stuff. Beats me why they do." Getting up, he grinned. "Lead the

Once in Gary's apartment above the restaurant, Methos could see at
a glance that there were no antiques in there. And Gary looked

"Ok, what's this?" he asked sharply.

Gary looked about ready to sink through the floor, but stood his
ground. "Adam, I don't think you should be here tonight."

"Why ever not?" Methos asked, surprised.

"I just have a... feeling something really terrible will happen."

"Define your feeling."

"I think Ravi's going to kill you..." Gary trailed off as Methos
fixed him with an intense gaze.


"How? I don't know. It's a feeling!" Gary tried to evade the
question, but Methos wouldn't let him.

"I think you do know, Gary," he said, stepping closer. "And if you
want to have any hope of me listening to you, you have to tell me

Gary knew he couldn't just tell Adam about the paper, but maybe
he'd believe him about his 'feeling'.

"Well, I think he's going to ... cut off your head, Adam," he
finally answered, then stared as Methos whipped around
unexpectedly. "What?"

Before his eyes Methos changed from mild scholar to dangerous
cornered predator. His movements became catlike as he stalked to
the door. "He's here," he said flatly.

"Wait!" Gary rushed to grip Methos' arm, then found himself flung
against the wall with a gleaming sword across his neck.

"Don't touch me!" Methos growled, then relented, stepping back but
holding the sword ready. "I'm sorry, Gary. Ravi comes for me...
but I do have my own protection," he lifted the sword a bit. "I
have to face him eventually. It might as well be now. I'm tired of
hiding." He turned and left, leaving Gary speechlessly staring at
the spot where he'd been a second ago.

"Where'd he get that sword," Gary muttered as he made his way
downstairs again, checking the paper along the way.

  Mayhem at McGinty's

  A sword-wielding maniac scattered McGinty's patrons
  everywhere in an incident at the restaurant yesterday.
  The decapitated body of Dr. Adam Pierson, a linguist at
  CASI, was later found outside the premises. Police are

* * *

Gary entered the restaurant, fully prepared to see Adam
slaughtering his patrons. In stead, he saw a stranger, menacingly
holding a terrified Chuck, naked blade against his neck. At the
edge of the frozen tableau, Adam, sword nowhere in sight, was
advancing slowly, but at a convulsive twitch of the gleaming
blade, he stopped. Gary forgot to breathe.

Then Adam spoke: "You're still a fool, Ravi. We're not alone!" The
man, presumably Ravi, growled. "I'm not here for you! I want him!"
He pointed at Gary, rooted at the foot of the stairs. Adam smiled.
"That's a new one... well, ok, then I can interfere all I want."

Ravi grimaced. "You won't get the chance!" He pushed Chuck away
and in one violent motion lunged at Adam with the sword. Gary
watched in horror as the blade pierced the linguist, while screams
from the patrons attested to the blood he could not see from his
vantage point. Adam sank to the floor. Gary acted without thought,
grabbing his trusty baseball bat from its place behind the bar,
and hitting out as hard as he could at Ravi. The bat connected and
the man crumpled to the floor, joining his victim lying in a pool
of blood. Adam's blood.

Gary dropped to his knees beside the linguist, to see how bad the
damage was. Adam was conscious, groaning a little and as pale as

death. He stilled as he sensed Gary close by. "Get these people
out of here," he said weakly. "Please..."

Gary couldn't refuse him. Together with a rattled Chuck he shooed
everyone out, apologizing and asking them to be patient and
cooperate with the police when they arrived. Chuck roughly
manhandled the unconscious Ravi to a pillar, where he tied him
hand and foot with bungee cords.

Gary went back to Adam, dreading it, but knowing there was nothing
anyone could do for him. "Are we alone?" Methos breathed.

"Yeah, just Chuck and me..."

"Good," Methos said, sitting up. "This is bad enough as it is."
Ignoring the shocked expressions of Gary and Chuck, he inspected
his sweater where the sword had cut it. "Drat," he muttered.
"Another ruined sweater."

Casting a sweeping glance over the place, exuding nothing but calm
control, he bent down and picked up Ravi's sword. Inspecting it,
he grinned. "He's still using the same sword he once lent me," he
marveled. "How's that for dedication?" Finally, with an air of
authority, he turned to Gary. "Sorry about the blood. You'd better
get it cleaned up fast before it stains."

Gary, normally used to being in strange situations, still stood
gaping, while Chuck had frozen when Methos got up, and hadn't
moved since. Methos sighed. This looked like a sticky situation to
explain. Ah well.

"Gary, sit down," he instructed, pulling a chair up and pushing
Gary down in it. Chuck collapsed on his own. Methos considered how
to go about this. He remembered Gary's 'feeling' and decided to
emphasize what bothered him about it.

"Gary, remember you told me to be careful tonight?" Gary nodded
weakly. "Will you tell me how you knew?" He did not miss Chuck and
Gary trading glances. So, they both knew.

"Um," said Gary, flustered by the question and the fact that he
was talking to a dead man. Adam had to be dead. That's it, Adam
did die and he, Gary, was for some reason hallucinating the whole

Realizing that no answer was forthcoming, Methos tried again. "You
tell me your secret, and I'll tell you mine..."

"You first," Gary suggested, glad for the chance to hear some kind
of explanation.

"Fair enough," Methos agreed. "You'll probably have noticed most
of it," he gestured wryly at the blood on the floor with the
sword. "I am immortal."

"Oh yeah, right, that was obvious from the start," Gary said,
taking refuge in sarcasm, trying to disbelieve what he'd just
heard in spite of what he had witnessed.

Sensing this, Methos chuckled. "Normally, in situations like this,
I'd cut myself to show you how I heal. Would you like me to fall
on this sword again?" He got up as if to do so, and Gary jumped to
prevent him.

"No, no! Just let me see..." He pointed at Methos' blood soaked

Methos nodded, put the sword down, took off his coat and pulled
the sweater over his head. Chuck and Gary both stood closer to
see. Except for smears of blood, his skin was unmarred. No trace
remained of what should have been a fatal wound.

"Unbelievable," Gary muttered, then grinned as he heard Chuck's
echoed "Awesome..."

"Ok, I'll believe you," he told Methos, who, looking at the
sweater in his hands, settled for his coat alone to ward off the
evening chill. "What's the deal with the swords?"

"Well," Methos started. "That's part of what we call the Game.
Immortals fight one another because in the end, there can be only
one. Ravi's been after me for quite some time. He thinks he has a
valid grudge." He pointed to the sword. "We fight with swords
because that's the only way we can die... when we lose our heads."
He treated Gary to a sudden sharp look. "Which brings me to your
secret... How did you know?"

Gary reluctantly pulled the paper from his back pocket. "I get

tomorrow's newspaper today," he said in explanation as Methos bent
down to read:

  Linguist missing after freak blackout

  Dr. Adam Pierson, a linguist at CASI, disappeared
  yesterday after a freak electrical storm that caused a
  power outage over large areas of central Chicago. The
  owner of McGinty's restaurant, which was badly damaged
  during the storm, told police that Dr. Pierson had been
  on the scene of an earlier incident at the restaurant,
  in which an escaped mental patient had threatened him
  with a sword. Police are continuing the search.

Methos shook his head. "This is tomorrow's paper?" he asked,
checking the date.

Gary nodded. "It changes as we influence events. I tried to
prevent you from meeting Ravi because it said you'd be killed, and
now that you hadn't been, it's changed..."

"I think that's it, then," Methos said.


"This is why Ravi wants you. He's noticed somehow that you have
this... paper. And he'll use anything to aid his 'grand scheme'.
Knowing the future would help him a lot." He pondered. "Where do
you get the paper?"

"Um, well, every morning the cat delivers it to my door..." Gary
knew how it sounded. He'd been trying to explain the thing for
more than a year now, and it still made no sense. He'd learned to
just go with the flow and not wonder too much about it.

"Weird," Methos mumbled. It shocked him a bit to realize that
there were things on Earth that he did not know about and couldn't
understand. One would think 5000 years of experience would put a
stop to that kind of thing.

"What's this thing about a storm?" Chuck asked hesitantly.

"Sounds like a Quickening," Methos mused. "But that would mean
that I take his head in here... or..."

A sudden crash made them turn, just in time to see Ravi duck
through the door and disappear. "Or he still takes mine..." Methos
concluded. Walking to the pillar, he picked up Chuck's cords,
neatly cut through. "He always carries a dagger up his sleeve," he
explained. Chuck looked as if Ravi's escape was a personal insult,
which perhaps it was. Ravi had already tricked him into taking the
bet and held him as hostage; now he'd escaped his bonds that

"What's a Quickening?" Gary asked, troubled by the idea that Adam
would cut off someone's head just like that.

"When an Immortal dies," Methos explained. "His life force leaves
the corpse and transfers into the nearest living Immortal, usually
the victor. It takes the form of electrical bolts similar to
lightning... hurts like getting hit by lightning as well," he

"So you think he'll come back for you and take your head in here?"
Gary deduced. This all sounded so improbable, except that he'd
seen the proof and had the paper to back it.

"Yes, unless I can catch him somewhere else and finish it," Methos
said, a determined gleam in his eyes. He took a deep breath.
"Well, gentlemen, I'll leave you now... if you see me again you'll
know who won..." He turned and strode towards the door.

"Wait," Gary called. "Where's your sword?"

In answer, Methos turned back and with a fluid motion too fast to
follow, produced a sword from his coat. "Always with me," he
answered, smiling a bit. Then he stepped outside and was swallowed
by the darkness.

"Did all this really happen?" Chuck asked timidly.

"I think so," Gary answered, then sighed as he heard police sirens
approaching. How was he going to explain this? Ah well.

* * *

1560, Roma, Italia

In a rare fit of creative enthusiasm, Methos had convinced
Michelangelo to let him do some actual construction work, several
years after the Master had started work on the Dome. The structure
was almost complete, and teams of artists were decorating the drum
of the Dome.

The Dome was suspended by four huge pillars, each containing one
of the four greatest relics of the Church: the spear with which
Longinus pierced the side of Christ, a portion of the true cross,
the veil bearing an impressing of the Savior's face, and the head
of St. Andrew the Apostle.

Methos, outdating all of the relics, could not help but feel sorry
for old Andrew. The man had certainly not thought that his head
would end up in a pillar, all those years ago.

When Methos put in his request for real "hammer and chisel" work,
the only team left for him to join, was the one working on the
inscription around the Dome: "Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram
aedificabo Ecclesiam meam et tibi dabo Claves Regni Caelorum".

Clambering about in scaffolding, Methos lost any possible vestiges
of vertigo he might once have had. Painstakingly chiseling each
letter, dust and marble chips sifting over him, he came to know
that phrase by heart. It became part of him, of his being, until
he was even chiseling it in his dreams.

On one of the infrequent occasions that he had a day off and left
the grounds, Methos was happily walking through a market place,
munching on some fresh bread and marveling at the sunlight and
life. Days of single-minded toil tend to change your outlook
somewhat. Sure, the gutters stank, the streets were dusty and the
vendors selling their wares were shrill and loud. But the sun was
shining, the sky was blue, and even the fallen Roman Empire could
instill some awe. And the dagger that someone pressed into his
side seemed like a joke until the sack went over his head and
something blunt and heavy hit him. If the sack hadn't been dark
already, everything would have gotten dark at that point.

He regained consciousness some time later, still in the dark, but
this was the dark of a cellar or dungeon, since the sack had been

removed. Feeling about carefully, he found the door: locked.
Peeking through the keyhole, he had a partial view of a small
room, table, several chairs, and two drunk thugs partaking in
some, by the smell of it, cheap wine. Methos settled down next to
the door to listen and find out what was going on.

There was the small possibility that he'd been grabbed for ransom,
but he thought it unlikely. He was not an important person,
preferring to stay anonymous, and alive. So he suspected Immortal
involvement, which boded ill for him.

"...he will pay us well for this one!" he heard through the door.
"That he will, or we will make him pay!" Another voice. Drunken
laughter. "What d'you suppose he does with them?" one slurred. A
pause for consideration. "As long as I get my money, I'm not
asking questions. Ravi doesn't tolerate prying..."

The voiced continued but Methos tuned out. Ravi paid these mortals
to capture Immortals for him. A sure-fire way to have the upper
hand in a Challenge. He began to seriously wonder if Ravi had ever
fought a Challenge honorably. Probably not. Methos, however, had
no desire to even get close to Ravi, at least until he could be
sure there were no loaded dice, no hidden agendas, and by far the
most important, no hidden mortals waiting to strike or distract
during the fight.

So the question was, how to escape? The door was sturdy, and any
attempt at breaking it down would alert the two burly, albeit
drunk, guards. Armed, without the splitting headache, in better
conditions, Methos was their match three times over. Now, not
necessarily. The world's oldest man came up with a plan.

So it was that, without warning, the guards were startled out of
that warm, hazy feeling by the most awful, bloodcurdling scream
they'd ever heard, followed by what sounded like panicked
thrashing. Had they known better, they would have recognized the
war cry of the man once known as Death, and the sounds of him
practicing his long-forgotten pillaging skills. Anyway, with an
abruptness that was as startling as its start, the sound ceased. A
thump, such as that of a body hitting the floor was heard, and
then an ominous quiet descended.

The two guards, now feeling cold and sober, sat frozen, straining
to hear anything else, but there was no sound.

"Oh shit, he's dead," one of them muttered. Then they both leaped
to their feet, rushed to the door, unlocked it and stormed inside
to see if they could somehow still save their meal ticket. Only to
stop in confusion when they found the room deserted. They ran to
the dark far corner. No body. Then the door slammed shut behind
them, the key turned and running steps receded.

Unanimously they decided not to mention this episode to Ravi.
Which still left them with the tiny problem of explaining to him
why he'd come there for nothing, if they had nothing to give him,
and why they were locked inside their own cellar.

Methos did not care for their problems. He made his way back to
Holy Ground and for the rest of his time there, until Michelangelo
died in 1564, he never left the grounds again.

* * *

October 23, 1998 10:34pm, Chicago

Methos stalked into the dark, determined to by sheer willpower
find Ravi and put a stop to whatever he was up to. The

implications of Gary's revelation about the paper were numerous,
but he knew one thing took precedence: Ravi could not be allowed
to get his hands on it. And although Methos had avoided Challenges
for the last few hundred years, still he was, deep inside, the
bloodthirsty Horseman, who reveled in the fight. So much better to
have an enemy to fight, for a change.

But try as he might, he could sense no trace of Ravi anywhere.
After a few hours of fruitless walking, growing cold wearing only
his coat, and growing damp from the light drizzle, he found
himself in front of McGinty's, again. To his surprise the lights
were still on in the apartment above. Feeling a little less bad
for barging in, he knocked on the door.

After a minute Gary appeared, looking rumpled but awake.

"Adam?" His eyes widened as he remembered. "Did you find him,


"Nope," Methos said shortly. "Can I come in?"

"Yeah... sure," Gary said, then stepped aside to let him in.

"Coffee would save my life right now," Methos groaned and slumped
into a chair. "Do you have any idea how far I've walked tonight
before I thought of checking your paper for the location of my

Gary grinned. "And it is so nice out, too." He started the coffee
brewing, then picked up the paper and checked through it. "That's
funny... it's not in here anymore."

"What? Does that mean I don't get to fight him anymore?" He was
almost disappointed after having worked up all that determination.

Gary shook his head. "It may just mean that no-one reported your
fight or that it wasn't in time to make this print."

"What do you mean, 'make this print'? It's changing all the time!"

"I really don't know, but sometimes it just works that way.
Sorry." Gary got up to pour the coffee. "Maybe it just means that
you won and nobody reported Ravi missing."

Methos acknowledged the validity of that theory. "But if I'm going
to win, where am I going to do it?" he asked plaintively after a
moment's thought.

"Time will tell," Gary said, wisely.

Methos snorted. "In my experience, it rarely does..."

"I wanted to ask about that," Gary started.

"What? The story of my life? Much too long and boring. Ask
something else, " Methos said quickly but emphatically.

"Well," Gary smiled. "I just wondered what your story with Ravi

"Oh, that's shorter," Methos admitted. So, exaggerating only a
little, he told Gary an abridged version of his life during the
Renaissance and his infrequent, but annoying encounters with Ravi.

"You knew Michelangelo?" was all Gary could think of to say, when
he'd done.


"Wow." Gary thought for a moment. "I still don't understand why
Ravi made that stupid bet with Chuck. We have nothing to do with

"I think he's just the obsessive type. If he could tell the
future, then those words could apply to him in a more Earthly

"So what do they mean?" Gary asked, interested. But he got no
reply. Methos changed from relaxed sprawl to tense awareness in an
eye blink. "Not again," Gary groaned.

"I think the fight has come to me," Methos smiled, tight-lipped.

"Not in my restaurant!" Gary wailed. Methos nodded and went to the
door, just in time to stop Ravi from breaking it.

"Coming, coming," he said, "Keep a lid on it!" He opened the door
a fraction and looked around it. "Yes?" he asked, seemingly
oblivious to Ravi's growl of frustration. Methos smiled. "Ravi,
Ravi. It looks like we're just going to have to settle this one
way or the other. I hope you have a nice inconspicuous place for
us to fight?"

Ravi nodded. "There's a warehouse..." He proceeded to tell Methos
how to get there. Stepping back into the dark he called "Be there
in an hour, Mateas!" and disappeared from view.

Methos stood there, shaking his head. "That guy really is
strange," he commented. "Ah well, now I know where to go... and
I'll have to go early to neutralize all his little surprises." He
turned around, giving Gary a smile. "Ok, I'm off again. Thanks,
Gary." He was lost into the night before Gary could say anything.

Gary closed the door ruefully, wondering what the next development
would be. Doing the obvious thing, he checked the paper.

  Bizarre murder downtown

  The body of Dr. Adam Pierson, a linguist at CASI, was
  discovered by firemen early this morning, after they
  were called in to investigate reports of electrical
  discharge and explosions. Police say he was apparently
  shot several times before being decapitated with a sharp
  instrument, presumably a sword. There are no suspects
  yet and police are continuing their investigation.

Gary sat staring into space, thinking. It seemed that no matter
what, Adam was going to end up getting killed. And the man had
nothing to do with the whole thing except for trying to help. He
was out there right now, risking his life (and, if you believed
the paper, losing it) to protect Gary.

Gary had no doubt that Adam would win, if Ravi fought honorably.
But evidently Adam must have missed at least one of Ravi's
back-ups, to get shot and killed. Someone had to warn him.

And that someone could only be Gary Hobson, ex-stockbroker,
restaurant owner, pacifist and recipient of a very early edition
of the Chicago Tribune. Sighing a bit, he dressed quickly, locked
up everything, and set off for the warehouse, hoping he was not
too late already.

He crept into the warehouse carefully, hearing the sound of
clashing blades echoing through the rafters. Behind some crates he
came across three men, one unconscious and the other two bound and
gagged. They rolled their eyes at him but couldn't do much more.
Grinning evilly, Gary left them there. Adam had clearly been

Rounding a corner he spied the two Immortals engaged in a furious
battle. Adam was taller and more graceful than Ravi, who was
clearly struggling to hold his own. Gary watched as Adam pressed
Ravi backwards, towards the wall, knowing that the end was near.
Suddenly he saw movement above them in the rafters. A man with a
rifle was taking aim at Adam's exposed back.

"Adam, behind you!" Gary shouted.

Adam did not even look around. Instead, he stepped forward,
grabbing Ravi by the arms, in the process impaling himself on
Ravi's sword. In the same movement he let his momentum carry them
around, and by the time the sniper pulled the trigger, Ravi was in
the way. The bullet hit him point blank in the head, and he

Gary watched in fascinated horror as Adam pulled the sword from
his body, took his own and, almost staggering from shock and blood
loss, lifted it high and delivered the final blow.

As the head rolled away Adam dropped the sword and sank to his
knees. Gary jumped to go and help him but stopped when Adam feebly
said "Stay clear!"

Then Gary noticed the tendrils of energy seeping from Ravi's body.
They crept towards each other, played around the swords on the
ground, growing stronger as they moved. From nowhere a strange
howling sound built up, and air began to rush past Gary, as if
Adam was at the center of a whirlwind. Then the glowing strands of
electricity reached Adam and the world seemed to explode in a
storm of lightning and thunder.
Windows shattered and glass rained down.
So did the man in the rafters, hitting the floor of the warehouse
just as a gaping hole was torn in the roof. A column of energy
shot upwards from where Adam stood transfixed, and played around
in the clouds. For a moment everything was quiet, then bolts of
lightning streaked down, hitting Adam numerous times before
finally stopping. A last rumble was heard, then all became quiet.

Gary walked on wobbly legs to where Adam lay. A quick inspection
revealed that he was very dead. Gary wondered if he would revive
from death by lightning or whatever that had been. He checked on
the sniper, who was out cold and looked as if he'd broken some
bones when he'd hit. He was still trying to decide what to do when
Adam stirred. Gary went back to him.

"Adam, are you ok?" he asked worriedly.

Methos smiled weakly. "It all depends on your viewpoint," he said
as Gary helped him to sit upright. "That was some Quickening."

"What, the lightning?"

"Yeah... Ravi must have killed hundreds of Immortals... and not
once in a fair fight." Methos rubbed his face and pushed a hand
through his hair. "We have to get out of here."

Gary agreed. The police or somebody would show up any time now.
Untying the two thugs and telling them to deal with the mess, they
left and went back to McGinty's, Methos walking like an old man
with Gary supporting him whenever he stumbled. As dawn began to
break Gary poured a drink for the Immortal, who still looked like

As Gary placed the glass next to him, Methos opened his eyes and
regarded him. "You saved my life, you know."

In spite of the circumstances, Gary found himself embarrassed by
gratitude. "It was nothing..." he started, then forestalled
Methos' interruption. "No, I know what you mean, but you were in
that fight because of me, so it was the only thing to do..."

Methos nodded. "Thanks anyway, Gary ... think of it as saving an
ancient artifact..." he chuckled.


"Figure of speech," Methos evaded. "I never did tell you the rest
of the story..."

"Of Michelangelo?" Gary asked.

"Yes, and of the dome..."

* * *

February 1564, Roma, Italia

Building of the dome continued, but Michelangelo grew
progressively weaker. At last the 89-year old man did not have the
strength to continue working. Methos, although pained at his
friend's decline, stayed at his side, telling him how the work
progressed, keeping him company.

One evening the old man seemed more alert, and called Methos to
him. "Marco, I need to ask you something."

"Anything, master," Methos responded, suspecting that he knew the


"Do you remember the day we met? You were lying in the grass, and
I was playing truant from my tutor..."

"You skipped school?" Methos laughed. "Yes, Michel, I remember
that day very well."

The old man's face lit up with a joyous smile. "Mateas, it is

"It was always I," Methos replied. "But how did you know?"

"I just knew... twice I heard you say things that reminded me...
and you look no different. But how can that be?"

Methos was not about to try and explain. "It's a kind of magic,
Michel. I can't explain it."

"Why do you stay with me?" Michel asked.

"You're my friend," Methos said simply. The old man seemed to
sigh. Methos waited a while but Michelangelo said no more. The
Immortal reached over and gently closed his friend's eyes. "Rest
now, Michel. You have earned it."

Michelangelo died on February 18, 1564. They took him home to
Firenze, and buried him in the church of Santa Croce, where he
still rests.

Some years later Methos again visited Rome, and went to see the
completed Basilica. The structure was magnificent. He stood in the
center of the floor and looked up at the Dome. The words he'd
helped chisel were still there, still bearing their message of

"Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and I
will give thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven."

"It is so beautiful, Michel," he told the air. "Just seeing it
frees the soul."

* * *

Gary sat next to the sleeping Immortal. Adam had only started to
tell the story, then became more and more vague and eventually
fell asleep in the middle of a sentence. Gary didn't have the
heart to wake him, and anyway, he had the suspicion that he'd have
plenty of other chances to talk to the man.

So he sat, lost in thought, while Methos dreamt of days gone by,
friends made and lost, and new friends watching over him.

Outside, Chicago was stirring. A new day had begun.

The End.

(c) Slef 2000


Methos, the concept of Immortals and Immortal lore belong to
Rysher: Panser/Davis.

Early Edition, Gary, Chuck and McGinty's are the property of
Sony/Tristar and CBS Productions.

I do not profit from this and no copyright infringement is

Special thanks to Mrs. Corrie Schumann at Academia Latina,
University of Pretoria for invaluable help and photostats of
everything I needed.

Also thanks to my best friend Clor for doing the Arts Festival
circuit with me, and to Richard, Lochi, Andrew, Harry, and Mark
for making those festivals so special. Yes, I am aware that this
story has got nothing to do with you guys but I wanted to say
thanks publicly and this is the closest I can get ...