Who Watches the Watcher?
A Highlander novel by Sisiutil
This story is fictional and does not contain any references to any actual persons living or dead. All characters contained in this story who appeared in the Highlander franchise are the property of Warner Media/Davis Panzer Productions, Inc.
I first came up with the idea for this novel a few years ago, while watching Highlander's often-maligned sixth and final season. For my part, I found some (though certainly not all) of the other Immortals introduced in that season very interesting and wanted to see more of them.
This story, then, could be viewed as my version of an episode from that season, and that is more or less where it fits into the Highlander timeline. To be more specific, it takes place some time after the events depicted in the episode Sins of the Father. Somewhere in there Duncan MacLeod, Joe Dawson, and Methos snuck in a trip back to the States so that the events depicted herein could take place. Artistic license is a wonderful thing.
The story focuses mostly on my own new, original characters within the Highlander universe, with the series regulars playing supporting (but significant) roles. I've done my best to ensure historical accuracy and compliance with Highlander continuity, but there are bound to be discrepancies which I trust will not take away from the story itself. I hope you enjoy it.
Chapter 1: Knight
Some nightclubs easily lend themselves to intimacy and quiet conversation. The Wasteland wasn't one of them. Built inside a huge, somewhat refurbished warehouse south of downtown, the interior of the Wasteland was cavernous, dark, and thumped relentlessly to a mix of techno or house music, sometimes both, depending on the night of the week and the tastes of the DJ. The success of the club indicated an abundance of people who consider conversation a needless formality before engaging in sex.
On this night, in the midst of the dense crowd, danced a tall, slender woman, seemingly without a partner but not seeming to mind it. She jumped and swayed energetically to the driving beat, arms above her head, legs driving into the concrete floor. Her shoulder-length hair, straight, dyed jet black, and cut in bangs across her forehead, bounced as she danced. She wore a pink tank top, black leather shorts, black leather gloves with the fingers cut off, fishnet stockings with more holes in them than the manufacturer intended, and knee-high black suede boots. The pale skin of her upper body was festooned with tattoos; her eyebrows, nose, lower lip, and ears were all pierced with studs and rings. She seemed lost in a spastic trance as she danced to the thumping music.
Her name was Elizabeth Knight, though she went by Lizzy most of the time. And she was an Immortal.
She had been dancing for at least two hours straight and showed no signs of slowing down. Her body's slenderness belied its strength—closer examination of her tattooed legs, arms, shoulders, and back revealed lithe, cat-like muscles. She was sweating profusely in the heat of the club, her perspiration staining her pink tank top and showing that she wore no bra to support her small breasts. Not that anyone around her knew it, but Lizzy was celebrating a kill. Though she had only become Immortal five years before, she had recently started taking an impressive number of heads.
Suddenly, Lizzy stopped dancing. Her hands fell to her sides and her pale blue eyes widened as they scanned the interior of the dark nightclub. She had sensed the presence of another Immortal nearby. She examined the faces in the crowd as the lights flashed upon them, looking for the one that must also be looking for her. She then sensed rather than saw movement in the crowd behind her. She turned. There he was, standing stock-still and staring at her from about twenty yards away. The crowd had parted as if subconsciously sensing the need to clear a path between these two predators.
He was not tall, just a few inches under six feet, but he carried himself with dignity and a hint of menace. His head was shaved completely bald and he wore a dark Van Dyke beard on his upper lip and chin. His eyes were covered by dark wrap-around sunglasses—not unusual for men at night in The Wasteland, truth to tell. His mouth was a grim slash beneath a straight Roman nose. His clothes were all black: a long, black leather duster worn over a loose-fitting black cotton sweater, tight black jeans, and black boots. Lean, strong muscles coiled beneath his dark clothing. He stared at Lizzy for a moment, sure that he had her attention, and nodded his head once towards the club's rear fire exit. He then turned and walked casually in that direction.
Lizzy smiled. Cool. Another notch for the sword hilt, she thought. She retrieved her own battered leather coat, which contained and hid her own sword, from the couch where she'd tossed it two hours ago. Denizens of The Wasteland had learned long ago not to mess with Lizzy Knight or her property. She pulled on the coat and decided to let the guy stew for a few minutes while she took a pee.
Unbeknownst to the two Immortals, another set of eyes had witnessed the silent challenge. A young woman in her late twenties, with short hair dyed black and spiked with gel, abandoned her seat at the bar and left the club by the front exit. She gathered her long black wool coat around her slender body and ran around to the alley at the side of the club. She made her way to the edge of an empty paved lot across from the club's rear exit.
She knew the club's environs better than most of its regulars. She knew in particular that this lot, dimly lit by nearby streetlights and separated from the club by an alley and a high chain link fence that was overgrown with weeds, was perfect for two Immortals to engage in private combat. In fact, Lizzy Knight had used it for that purpose three times in the past. She also knew the best vantage point for witnessing a fight in the lot was from behind a rusting dumpster located next to an abandoned warehouse on the lot's North side. She knew many things, especially about Immortals in general and about Elizabeth Knight in particular. Her name was Theresa MacNeil, and she was a Watcher—one of a secret group of mortals who kept tabs on Immortals, observing and recording the events in their long lives, but never interfering with them.
Theresa moved silently through the shadows to her preferred hiding place. She reached the dumpster and stopped short. Someone else was there. She immediately adopted a defensive Aikido stance. Preparation of a Watcher included extensive martial arts training—following Immortals around often got one into some dicey situations in some rough parts of town.
A man in his early 40s, short and slender with short curly brown hair and a square face, turned to look at her. He raised his arms to indicate he was no threat; the action made his black nylon jacket sleeve fall down his forearm, revealing a tattoo on his wrist—a circle around a bird-like shape. The mark of the Watchers. Theresa sighed in relief, abandoned her defensive stance, and pulled back her own left sleeve to reveal her Watcher tattoo.
"Mick Porter," the man said in an working-class British accent.
"Theresa MacNeil," she responded in her own East-coast American voice. She gave Porter a friendly but professional smile, and took position behind the dumpster with him. The male Immortal was in the middle of the paved lot, waiting; Lizzy, they could see, had just exited the club and was walking across the alley towards him.
"Who's your girl?" Porter asked softly. "Don't think I know her."
"That's Elizabeth Knight," Theresa told him in a low whisper. "She's pretty new—became Immortal five years ago. Been racking up quite a record since," she said, a hint of disgust in her voice.
"You don't like her," Porter observed.
Theresa sighed. "I know we're supposed to be impartial, but..."
Porter laughed softly. "We're only human, luv."
Theresa smiled. She had never met Porter before but knew him by reputation. He'd trained under Joe Dawson initially, and Dawson was a friend of her family's—Theresa's parents were also Watchers, and she had followed them into 'the family business'.
She already liked Porter only seconds after meeting him. Some Watchers could be a little obsessive about their rules. Some had even turned out, despite their careful screening procedures, to be psychotics. Being in the presence of beings who were centuries old sometimes had strange effects on people. Porter seemed refreshingly normal for a Watcher.
"Who's your boy?" Theresa asked him.
"Name's Lucas Marshall," he told her quickly. "He's new too. Cropped up for the first time 'bout a year ago."
"I hope he's good," Theresa said.
"Why? Is she?" Porter asked nonchalantly
"Yes," Theresa answered ruefully, "But even worse, she cheats," she concluded with a sneer.
Lizzy had arrived at the empty lot and stood silently, a few yards from her opponent. They had remained that way for a few moments while their two unseen Watchers became acquainted. They hadn't even drawn their swords yet. Finally, Lizzy sighed and rolled her wide blue eyes.
"Are we gonna get on with this?" she asked impatiently. "The ice in my drink is melting."
Her opponent took off his sunglasses slowly and deliberately, folded them, and tucked them away in the right breast pocket of his leather coat. His gray eyes, now revealed, narrowed as he studied her.
"You are Elizabeth Knight," he said, his sonorous voice echoing off the brick walls of the abandoned buildings that surrounded the lot. "You were a student of Reginald Blount's."
"Yeah, so what?" Lizzy said. "You a bud of Reggie's? That what this is about?"
"Reginald Blount was my friend. He was your teacher, and you took his head," the male Immortal declared coldly. As he spoke, he drew two swords from beneath his coat. He carried two Japanese swords: the longer katana, and its companion, the slightly-shorter wakizashi—the traditional weapons of the Samurai.
"He knew Blount?" Theresa asked Porter as a puzzled frown knit her brows together. Reginald Blount was an Immortal born in England over three-hundred and fifty years ago. Lizzy Knight had taken his head less than six months before.
"So he says," Porter murmured from beside her.
Theresa shook her head and looked back at the combatants. She had started field work as a Watcher when Lizzy Knight was Blount's student, so she'd had quite a bit of exposure to the older British Immortal. But she couldn't recall ever seeing this man, nor hearing his name mentioned, not then, and not since.
"So this is about Reggie," Lizzy said as she drew her weapon from beneath her coat, a classic dueling sword made in Toledo, which she held in her left hand. "I was wondering when one of you was gonna come after me for that. Reggie had a good run—it was just his time, y'know?" she commented with a shrug.
"And now it is your time," Marshall declared, her ambivalence about killing her teacher doing nothing to mollify him. He held the two swords down, pointed at the ground and slightly in front of him in a deceptively casual defensive posture. His knees flexed and he rested his weight on the balls of his feet, waiting for her first move.
When it came, it was a surprise. "I don't think so," she said with a smile as her right hand reached inside her coat. She pulled out a revolver, pointed it at Marshall, and shot him three times in the chest. He collapsed backwards in a heap onto the cracked pavement. His swords, somehow, remained in his hands.
From across the lot, Theresa sharply inhaled through clenched teeth. She placed her right hand over her mouth to keep herself from making any more noise. She had seen Lizzy Knight take down more than a dozen Immortals this way, including her own teacher. It clearly violated the rules of the Game, but the young Immortal didn't seem to care about that.
Across the lot, Lizzy Knight walked slowly towards the motionless body of Lucas Marshall. She kept the gun pointed at him and held her sword at her side. She smiled when she reached him, standing to his right.
"Gotta move with the times, mook," she said. She kept the gun trained on her fallen opponent as she raised her sword with her left hand, preparing to decapitate him.
Suddenly, Marshall's right leg lashed out at Lizzy's right wrist, knocking the gun from her hand and sending it flying several feet away; it landed on the pavement and slid a few feet further. He then kicked at his opponent with his left foot; his boot caught her viciously between her legs. Lizzy groaned loudly and bent over at the sudden explosion of pain in her crotch.
Marshall took the opportunity to draw back his right foot and then drive it into her solar plexus. Lizzy keeled over onto her back, her sword sliding across the pavement away from her. Slowly, grimacing in pain, Marshall climbed to his feet, his left hand—still holding his short sword—massaging his chest.
"All right," he said, staring angrily at Lizzy where she lay writhing and coughing on the cold, dark asphalt, "that was most definitely cheating."
"How...?" Theresa asked quietly as she watched nearby, her mouth dropping open in surprise. Immortals had amazing recuperative powers, but Marshall should not have been able to recover from three fatal gunshot wounds for several minutes at least. Porter, standing beside her, shrugged.
"It's how you killed Blount, isn't it?" Marshall was saying. "It's the only way you could have killed him. He was your better—in so many ways. I suspected you'd try something like that with me when I finally tracked you down. Don't you just love modern technology?" he said, patting his Kevlar vest with his left sword hand.
A few yards away, hidden behind the dumpster, Porter laughed softly. "Jammy bastard!" he said.
"A bullet-proof vest?" Theresa whispered. "Isn't that against the rules?"
"Eh, I 'spect that's a gray area, luv," Porter murmured back. "A few centuries back, they were all wearin' chain mail. 'Sides, she cheated first, so I 'spect the rules committee will let it go," he concluded with a smile.
Lizzy had pushed herself up onto her elbows. She was gasping for breath. She glanced at her gun; it lay several feet away, and Marshall had deftly moved himself between her and the weapon. She glanced at her sword, which lay on the ground a few short feet from her.
"Pick it up," Marshall ordered her. "Let's finish this properly."
Lizzy turned around and grabbed her sword, scraping the metal blade across the pavement. She pushed herself awkwardly to her feet. She held the sword in front of her with both hands, pointing it at her opponent.
"Nice sword," Marshall commented nonchalantly. "Late 18th century, no? Part of Reginald's collection, as I recall. Did he give it to you, or did you steal it?"
Lizzy sneered at him, growled, and swung the sword at his right side. Marshall took a step back and parried the blow with his long katana; he allowed the energy of the young woman's swing to carry her past him. Lizzy's body followed her swing and she stumbled past Marshall, but spun to face him before he could take advantage of her failed attack.
Theresa's could not help silently cheering for the male Immortal as she watched. She'd had high hopes for Lizzy at first, especially when the honorable Reginald Blount had taken her in as his student. Blount had been raised by a pair of childless British aristocrats in the early 1700's; he had always lived by the ideals of fair play and honor that his class often espoused but rarely achieved. Theresa had hoped he would instill those ideals in Lizzy, had hoped that Blount's values would overcome Lizzy's childhood, which had been spent bouncing around from one foster home to another. For a while, it seemed to take. Then Lizzy had fallen in love with a mortal who was also, unfortunately, a heroin addict. He'd been killed two years ago while trying to rob a pharmacy.
Lizzy had been on a downward spiral ever since, but it wasn't until she'd killed her teacher six months ago that Theresa came to consider her irredeemable. Theresa was sick of watching Lizzy break the rules, killing older Immortals with more experience and honor. She was sick of hanging out in sweaty, loud nightclubs that reeked of stale beer and cigarette smoke, something she'd outgrown eight years earlier. She was sick of hiding her beautiful auburn hair beneath dye and gel and wearing ugly, tacky clothes so she would fit into the lowlife dives her charge favored. Most of all, she was just plain sick of Elizabeth Knight. She longed for a different assignment that left her feeling less unclean at the end of each day.
In the lot, the fight continued. The sound of metal striking metal rang and echoed around the empty lot as Marshall parried his opponent's aggressive swings and stabs. Lizzy exhibited the same fluid movement she had exhibited on the dance floor mere minutes before. Marshall, however, was no slouch. He had taken on the appearance of a dancer as well, his footwork sure and deft, his movements graceful and natural. The muffled rhythm from the nightclub seemed to provide a back-beat to the opponents' formidable parries and thrusts.
"Are you sure he's only been around for a year?" Theresa asked her colleague. "He doesn't fight like a newbie!"
"The gun," Porter said suddenly, ignoring Theresa's observation.
"What?" Theresa, mesmerized by the fight, responded. "What about it?"
"He's letting her move towards it," Porter commented.
Theresa looked and could see that the two combatants were indeed moving closer to the discarded revolver. Lizzy's eyes kept looking towards the abandoned weapon whenever she had a chance. She knew she was evenly matched. It took all the skill Blount had instilled in her to keep her opponent at bay. Sweat ran down her face. She was in for a long, hard fight, with no guarantee she would win. Marshall seemed to be tempting her with the firearm; if she could reach it, she could end the fight easily and victoriously.
Porter glanced at a thick clump of tall weeds growing against the chain link fence that bordered the lot. The area was closer to where the gun lay, and was about thirty feet from their hiding spot behind the dumpster. "We'll have a better view from over there," he said, pointing.
"It's kind of exposed..." Theresa said as she looked dubiously at the spot he'd proposed.
"Nah, it's dark there," Porter assured her. "They won't see us if we keep low. Come on, luv!"
Porter suddenly sprang from behind their hiding place and ran, crouching low, through the darkness towards the new vantage point he'd chosen. Theresa stayed put, trying to decide what to do, when she saw Porter's silhouette beckoning to her. Feeling like a younger child giving into the peer pressure of an older one, she bolted from behind the dumpster, ran silently, and came to kneel beside Porter behind the thin clump of weeds. He was right; it offered a much better view, even if it risked their being spotted.
The two combatants stood about twenty yards away. Lizzy deftly swung her sword first at Marshall's right side, then his left. The black-clad Immortal parried each blow with his two Japanese blades. The female Immortal made a third strike straight down at his head. Marshall caught her sword tip between the crossed edges of his two blades. The two panting, sweating opponents paused, glaring at one another over their blades. Less than five yards away lay the gun. Lizzy's eyes glanced towards it. Marshall followed her eyes and smiled.
"What are you waiting for?" he asked in a low, taunting voice.
Lizzy knew her enemy's taunt meant he had a response to her desperate gambit. But the temptation of the gun was too much; she had come to rely on it too heavily. It offered a sure victory, whereas continuing the sword fight did not. She coiled her aching leg muscles and readied herself.
Lizzy Knight pulled her sword back over her head and swung it down at her opponent, yelling angrily; he easily parried and stepped aside from the blow. Lizzy dropped the sword and dove towards the gun. She landed short and rolled onto her back; she reached the gun with her left hand and fumbled with it, attempting to get a grip. Her fingers wrapped around the handle, her index finger found the trigger, and she lifted the gun from the pavement.
As she did so, Marshall took a brief run and jumped, his right foot catching her left wrist and pressing the hand that held the gun against the pavement. The gun wound up pointing at the two unseen Watchers, both of whom hit the ground when they saw the muzzle directed at them. Lizzy yelled and squeezed off a useless, errant shot when her gun hand hit the ground. Marshall pressed his boot, and most of his weight, painfully onto her left wrist.
Still Lizzy held on to the gun. Before she could strike at her opponent to get him off of her, Marshall's long Japanese sword arced through the air and sliced through her left wrist. Lizzy's shrill scream of agony pierced the night. Marshall stepped off of the woman's arm and kicked the detached, bloody hand that still gripped the revolver aside. Lizzy, screaming in pain, turned over onto her stomach and gripped the bleeding stump of her left forearm with her right hand. Tears streamed from her wide, disbelieving eyes as her body trembled in shock.
Marshall, still panting from exertion, but smiling cruelly in victory, slowly stepped around his fallen opponent until he stood directly in front of her. He crossed his two swords into an X, their cutting edges outward, and placed them under Lizzy's chin. Feeling the cold metal at her neck, the female Immortal, shaking and drawing ragged breaths, stared up at him, wide-eyed, as he used his swords to tilt her head upwards.
"You see?" he said to her, smiling condescendingly, "when you cheat...you only cheat yourself."
Marshall then quickly pulled the swords apart in opposite directions, severing Lizzy Knight's head from her neck as the two blades crossed over one another and cut through her flesh. Her head and her body fell to the pavement with quiet thuds. Marshall turned from her headless corpse and walked slowly to the middle of the dark, empty lot, his swords held loosely at his sides, as he awaited the Quickening.
A rumble like distant thunder echoed off the facades of the abandoned buildings surrounding the lot. A quick flash of lighting danced from a metal chimney-top on one building to an empty water-tower on another. Another bolt of lighting arced from a drainpipe to a weed-covered railway line at one side of the lot. A wind picked up and blew dust and debris around the lot.
Suddenly, with a snarling roar, a huge bolt of mystic lightning jumped from Lizzy Knight's body to that of Lucas Marshall. The Immortal yelled as the bolt hit him. He spread his arms wide, still holding his swords. Another bolt from Lizzy's body jumped towards Marshall, slamming into him and bringing the Immortal to his knees; a branch of the bolt leapt towards a nearby power line. The transformer atop a nearby pole exploded, sending a shower of sparks to the pavement. The electricity for several nearby blocks went out; the sound of several hundred people expressing disappointment escaped from the nearby nightclub as the lights and the music died.
Then the Quickening faded. A few small bolts danced around Marshall as he knelt, recovering, on the pavement. A few moments later, when the lot was quiet, he shakily pushed himself to his feet and hid his swords beneath his long coat. Without even a glance back at the corpse of his opponent, he walked out of the lot and into the night.
"Ding-dong, the witch is dead," Theresa sang quietly with no small amount of satisfaction once he'd gone. She pushed herself to her hands and knees, glancing without remorse at the headless body of Elizabeth Knight. "You were right, Mick, the view from here was spectacular. Well worth the risk." When her companion didn't answer, she turned towards him.
"Mick?" she said, looking at the older Watcher, where he lay face down on the ground beside her. He didn't move. Theresa felt her stomach clench. She grabbed his shoulder and rolled him over. His brown eyes were open, staring up into space. A trickle of blood ran from his mouth and across his cheek.
"Mick!" Theresa exclaimed. Her heart began to hammer in her chest, but her training took over. She automatically pressed her right forefinger and middle finger against his jugular. She felt no pulse. She pulled her fingers back and in the dim light saw something dark and viscous on them. She reached down to Porter's neck and pulled aside the collar of his shirt. There—just inside his collar bone—an entry wound, surrounded by blood. The stray shot at the end of the fight. It must have penetrated all the way into his chest cavity where he had lain vertical on the ground, directly in the bullet's path.
Theresa clamped her left hand over her mouth and clenched her eyes shut. She had seen over two dozen Quickenings in her time as a Watcher, but she had never seen a mortal—let alone a colleague—killed, and certainly not like this. She took deep breaths, struggling to calm herself. Once again, her training kicked in. She knew what she had to do. She certainly wasn't about to call 911, not with a body only a few feet away from another one that was minus a head; too many questions. She pulled a cell phone from her coat and pressed the speed-dial for a number she had never had to use before.
"This is MacNeil, Theresa, assigned to Knight, Elizabeth" she said when a Watcher at the other end answered. "I need a clean-up crew, ASAP."