A Soldier's Tale

Old soldiers never die… they just fade away.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Niebos, December 2010:

"Are you certain this thing is on?" The man the Watchers now knew as Phillip, Swordmaster of Alexander the Great, shifted nervously in his leather armchair. For a man who loved to tell stories, Phillip now seemed extremely uncomfortable.

"It's on. It will pick up every word." The elderly Watcher, Stefan Portocullis assured the twenty-five-hundred year old immortal that all was as it should be with a smile and a gentle gesture of his hand.

"Hmmph! So what is it exactly that you wish to know?" Phillip said clearing his throat. It was one thing to tell grand stories to his immortal friends and mortal acquaintances and lovers over the centuries; it was quite another for his words to be permanently immortalized in Watcher archives as truth… or at least his understanding of truth.

"We wish to know your life."

"What do the Chronicles say?" Phillip scratched at his beard, then folded his arms across his barrel chest in resignation.

"Our first mention of you is in Constantinople about the first century B.C. Someone calling himself the "Swordmaster of Alexander the Great" defeated and beheaded Marcus Septimus… a rather angry and volatile immortal."

"Oh… him. Well… he wouldn't listen. I warned him to stop."

"Yes… the Watcher Idan, a slave in Septimus' household said as much. By the way he was most pleased that his master and assignment lost the challenge."

"He was?"

"Yes… Septimus often beat his slaves."

"Hmmph!" replied Phillip.

"He lost sight of you… as his status as slave of a household did not allow him to travel freely… but that is the first reference the Watchers had of you." Portocullis shrugged. "Later, of course, when the name came up again in the fifth century in Delhi… your challenge to Kabir Mellan for his insults and mistreatment of the villagers of Santush… one of our researchers did some work on a Chronicle for you."

"What did they put together?"

"In brief, that there was some indication that an immortal may have taught the young Macedonian Alexander how to use a sword as a boy… and then fought at his side during his campaign to conquer the world. Soon after Alexander's early death, the immortal vanished. The two incidents I mentioned, were added on and a portrait of an immortal who was quite good with a sword… who had a sense of honor and fair play… as well as a sense of humor… was established. The reference to Alexander became, in time the only way anyone ever thought they might have seen you. By the time a profile was developed and a Watcher assigned to locate and follow you after your next appearance… well…" Portocullis shrugged, "you'd pretty much vanished. We were always a day late in finding you."

Phillip smiled. "Well… I never did like being followed."

"When did you learn of us?"

Phillip leaned back, his hands behind his head as he pursed his brows. "Oh… about the first century in Rome. Antinous… that's how I knew Methos for two thousand years… told me. He was anxious to remain out of sight… of these mortals he'd discovered who Watched. For us to be able to meet and party occasionally, he wanted to be certain I knew of and could avoid you people. Of course," Phillip winked, "I thought he was a young upstart."

"You didn't know who he was?"

"No… not until he told me. You must understand… Those of us with lifelines ranging in the thousands of years… usually have tried to stay very quiet about how old we are. It always seemed safer."

"And now?"

"Now?" Phillip chuckled and gestured toward the microphone. "Now it is for the eldest of us to lead the way if we are to survive."

"Duncan MacLeod isn't that old."

"No? But then he has a strength of identity and self and the passion of a man in his prime to change the world. I follow his lead." Phillip folded his hands before him once more.

"And talk to us…" The old Watcher smiled in invitation.

Phillip nodded. "Now then… what do you want to know?"

Portocullis waved an arm about him. "Let's start with Niebos. You were born here… correct? Why is this place so special?"

Phillip shook his head. "No… my second life was here. I came here as a youth. My first real training with a sword was here. But I left here while still a young man and fought in many campaigns before dying and learning I was an immortal. But Niebos has always been the touchstone of my life."

"Then let us begin there… Tell me the first time you set eyes upon the island."

"The first time?" Phillip's eyes glossed over and a small smile touched the corners of his lips so that he appeared wistful. "The first time…" he repeated.