Child's Play

He first felt them as he was walking along the waterfront.

Kenneth... Kenny to those who made the mistake of knowing him in this day and age looked around fearfully. To anyone seeing him... he seemed a small blonde-haired little boy of about ten years of age. His sneakers were dutifully scuffed and one shoe-lace was inevitably dragging in the mud. He wore a school jacket... red... with white leather sleeves... something he might have gotten from an older brother... one who had played high school sports... It was too big for him... and hung on him making him seem even smaller than he was. His jeans were faded... too long... and cuffed up but they were ragged and frayed where they dragged on the ground.

In reality... this cherubic looking boy was over eight hundred years old... and behind that innocent face that grinned and pleaded for someone to care for him... lay an eight hundred year old immortal who was old and whose very soul was twisted and dark. Kenny had learned long ago that to survive... he had to use his innocent face to gain the trust of other immortals. Gain their trust so they would drop their guard around him... turn their back on him... and die. Kenny wanted to survive! He wanted to be the one who won the prize! To do so... he had realized that he need not be an innocent to look like an innocent.

But he did not like being in the open if another immortal was about. He turned and ran... climbing up into some concrete pipes and crouching within them... hoping the other would not find him... would move on. Then he saw that it was not one immortal... but three. They had felt him... they were looking for him. They were coming!

Kenny clambered back further into the small cramped and very dark crevice and shook with fear. It was no pretense this time. It was real. He could sense those three immortals out there coming ever closer... and if he could sense them, they could sense him. As he stared at their on-coming forms, Kenny realized he could see through them. And... they seemed to float. The three were not really there... they couldn't be.

Closer and closer they came... drawing ever nearer to the small, frightened boy who was not really a small boy. They seemed to rise on the wind until they seemed to float just before him.

They weren't real... they couldn't be real. They had to be some trick of light... some phantom of the imagination. Perhaps they were spirits of those whose quickenings he had taken... perhaps they were mental projections of an immortal nearby who used this trick of the mind to unnerve his opponents so that they were easy targets. And yet... there was something vaguely familiar about them... as though Kenny knew them... even if he had never met them.

All three were dressed in black. One in black leather with steel studs, one in fine black wool, one in silk and cashmere of the finest quality.

The tall, bald one with the raspy voice muttered, "Ahh... my pretty... what have we here! Such a small one I could crush him in one hand. Will he do my brothers?"

Kenny trembled and closed his eyes repeating over and over to himself, "Not real! Not real! Not real!"

The dark one with the long hair laughed, "Someone to play with... oooh!" This one made a sound like he was hissing and writhing in pleasure. Kenny had the distinct impression that this one enjoyed small boys as a special treat.

Kenny pulled his small sword from its hiding place and waved it back and forth before him.

The three laughed.

The third one smiled with a glint in his eyes that spoke of madness. "Already done... boy! Already dead!"

Kenny's sword sliced through the forms but they continued to hover and laugh at his ineffectual assault. "Who are you? What do you want?"

The dark one smiled. "We are the ghosts of villains past... we lost to MacLeod... some part of us yet remains... a part that was not taken in by him who killed us. Our anger grows, our vengeance is undaunted, and we want satisfaction!"

"I hate MacLeod... go bother him!" the boy yelled.

"We need you," the third one said. "We need your hate!"

"Heh... heh... heh!" chuckled the tall one. "We need you little boy."

"Yes... you will do... nicely!" the dark one shimmered ever so slightly and came close to Kenny's face. "You will help us attain the prize."

At that Kenny sat up straighter. "The prize? How?"

The third one whispered, "Only a little of us remains... but if we band together... if we co-operate in death as we did not co-operate in life... perhaps between the four of us... power... illusion... vengeance... and that innocent face... we can become enough to challenge the Highlander... and prevent him from attaining the prize."

Kenny thought carefully. They wanted him... They had something in mind... Would their power be too much for him to handle? Evidently they could not just take him... they had to wait for him to accept them. If he did that... what would remain? Would he still be Kenny... or something else? Still... extra quickening power without running the risk of losing his own head might be helpful. Yet... could he trust them? Implicitly Kenny knew the answer... of course he couldn't trust them... nor could they trust him.

He swallowed hard and lowered his sword... useless as it was against the phantoms before him. "Tell me your names."

All three laughed, and their laughter was like the howling of the wind and the shrieking of the mythical banshee. Kenny clapped his hands over his ears and his cry of terror was added to the sound of their laughter.

"We are Kurgan... we are Kane... we are Kell... We fought the Highlanders... Alone we were not enough... together... we can overcome them. Connor and Duncan now are one... Now we shall be one! And together... the prize will be ours!"

Kenny lowered his hands and nodded. Their power had been legendary. Even if only a little remained... perhaps it would be enough for him to destroy MacLeod...

One by one the phantoms merged with the boy. Each time he writhed and seemed to grow and change. Each time his own anger and hate was met by and amplified by theirs. With illusion... he could be anyone... with power... he had a strength he'd never have possessed on his own. With vengeance... he had the focus to plan his revenge on MacLeod and on... the lovely Amanda. Yes... now he could do with her as he had always wished. Amanda would be his... or at least... as much his as illusion could make her his.

Kenny smiled... then crept out of his hiding place... no longer a child... no longer scared... no longer alone. First things first... he... no... they needed to make some test runs. They needed to learn how to work together... how to combine all their special gifts into a powerful weapon. Kell knew where many of the immortals lived. He'd once had access to a great deal of information. That information was now at Kenny's disposal. They would have to start small... with some of the weaker ones... the ones who weren't really in the game... and then... work their way up... one by one... to those who would be a challenge. Finally... they would face Amanda... and then... oh yes... they'd focus on MacLeod.

"I have funds," whispered Kell.

"With illusion... you won't need funds or passports," snickered Kane.

"With power... just kill anyone who gets in your way," roared Kurgan.

Kenny smiled and noticed his reflection in the water. While he still looked like a little boy... he wasn't. "Show me!" he snarled. His reflection wavered. For a moment it was Kane he saw in the water... then it faded leaving only his own form behind. "Not much power there," he chided.

"We must practice. All of us must work together on this if it is to work at all," Kane whispered.

Kell added. "First we practice... then we plan... then we execute."

Once more Kenny's reflection shifted in the water and he saw himself as a man... blonde-hair... clean-shaven, nicely dressed. The reflection held. Kenny ran one hand through his hair with satisfaction. Maybe... just maybe... this could work.

Whistling, Kenny sauntered back toward the city lights. He had work to do... fun to have... people to slay... immortals to destroy. The prize... always a dream so far away... might actually be his if he... they... could pull this off.