Disclaimer: The characters of Connor MacLeod, Rachel Ellenstein, and Slan Quince are not mine, I borrowed them from Davis & Panzer and Rysher Productions. Connor only comes to visit occasionally. Mark Deerson is my creation. I hope you enjoy the story.
Connor looked up from a stack of invoices as he felt the presence of an Immortal enter the antique store. He drew his katana from its place under the desk and stood up. Quietly, he moved towards the door.
"I'm here to see Connor MacLeod", a pleasant sounding voice announced.
"Connor MacLeod?", Rachel asked. "I'm sorry sir, this is Nash Antiques. There is no one named MacLeod here."
"Nash then, is that the name he's using these days?" the man was not deterred that easily. "Whatever his name is I want to see him."
Rachel was not sure how to answer him. Connor spared her a reply by stepping out of his office, his katana down by his side. "Mark Deerson! How long has it been? How are you and what brings you to New York?"
Deerson smiled and gripped Connor's free hand. "Business actually. No headhunting on this trip." He eyed the katana with a smile. "Still the cautious one, eh, Connor?"
"After 474 years you will be too!" laughed Connor as he steered his friend towards the office. He nodded at Rachel that everything was fine. Mark Deerson was a longtime friend.
Connor replaced the katana and moved to the bar to fix each of them a drink. Deerson accepted the scotch and both men settled into chairs.
"So Connor, you are still in the antiques business. Last time I saw you, you were contemplating returning to the sea. What happened?"
Connor gazed for a moment at a large painting of a ship at sea. It had been a gift from his clansman, Duncan MacLeod nearly 100 years before. "Oh I don't know. I settled here in New York and stayed. I've tried living in California, the South, the Mid-West and Canada, but I always seem to end up back here. Besides life at sea is not the challenge and adventure it once was."
Deerson nodded in agreement. "I know what you mean, my friend. After I met Caroline, I was happy to settle down. Three years ago, we adopted a little girl, Anna. They are my life now. No more wandering the globe for this old traveler."
"So what brings you to New York?" Connor asked. "Last I heard, you were back in Chicago."
"Computer software. Network Control systems specifically. The company I work for has a new customer in New York and I'm here to install the new system. While I'm here, I decided to look up some old friends." Deerson sobered. "I heard about your fight with the Kurgan. I'm glad that he's finally out of the game."
"Yeah well." Connor was uncomfortable talking about the events surrounding the battle and defeat of the Immortal known as Kurgan. "Thankfully it's been quiet since then. I was married for a while, but she was killed in an auto accident in Scotland."
Both men were silent for a few moments until Deerson looked at his watch and yelped. "Yikes! I'm supposed to be at the customer's office in 30 minutes and I bet it will take me an hour to get there. How about dinner tonight? My treat and we can trade some more tales."
"That will be fine." Connor smiled at his friend who was usually late wherever he went. "Six o'clock?" he asked, knowing it would be closer to 7:00pm before Deerson would actually arrive.
"Sounds good to me," Deerson answered as he shook Connor's hand and headed out the door.
Later that evening, after the predicted late start, Connor and Mark were seated at a quiet restaurant remembering old times and adventures.
"Now about you and the duel at the Boston Commons!" Mark was saying.
"Oh no!" Connor groaned. "What did Kastigir do? Travel around telling everyone that story? What a party we had then!"
As Mark was about to launch into a tale of the woes of gambling with Kit O'Brady, his pager hummed. "Excuse me Connor, it's Caroline. Let me go call her to see what she needs. She's probably checking up on me." Mark went in search of a telephone.
He came back several minutes later looking distressed.
"What's wrong? Is she or Anna ill?" Connor was concerned for his friend.
"It's not good", Mark told Connor. "She said a man had been there looking for me. He was quite insistent and she nearly had to call the police. She's worried that this man has been following Anna to and from school. I'm sure that it must be an Immortal. No one else is going to go to that much trouble to get to me."
"Did she say if this man had a name?" Connor asked.
"Slan Quince. Does that ring a bell with you? I don't think that I've ever come across anyone by that name." Mark was shaken by the news and the idea of a threat to his mortal family. "I'm sorry, Connor. I need to leave and be on the next available flight to Chicago."
"That's fine Mark, I understand", Connor said. "Slan Quince. Same here. I've never met anyone with that name."
Connor drove Mark back to his hotel and waited while Deerson booked a seat on a flight. "There", Mark said hanging up the phone and starting to pack. "There is a flight to Chicago in 2 hours to and I'm on it."
"Do you need a ride to the airport?", Connor asked.
Deerson thanked him gratefully. "That would be wonderful. That is if it's not too much problem for you."
"No, not at all. You go on home and take care of this problem. When I can, I'll come out for a visit. I haven't been to Chicago in quite a while," Connor said.
"Which, of course, for you could mean any time during the past 50 or 60 years!" Mark laughed. "Seriously, do come out. Caroline and Anna are wonderful and I want you to meet both of them. I know it's dangerous for Immortals to love and live with mortals. But there comes, on rare occasions, a chance for happiness."
He paused thinking about his mortal family and Connor had to agree with him. Thinking back to his two beloved wives over the past 4 centuries. Heather, dead and buried 400 years ago in Scotland and then recently Brenda, killed in an auto accident just a few years ago. It was never easy to love and watch them grow old and die. Each time he had vowed to never become involved with a mortal woman again. It was too painful.
He shook his head as though to clear out the thoughts. Then Connor told Mark, "If you are ready, we'd better leave now to get you on that flight to Chicago."
A week later, Connor and Rachel were having dinner out. It was Rachel's birthday and each year Connor liked to arrange something special for her. This year it was dinner at her favorite restaurant and box seats at her favorite play.
He still remembered finding her as a child in Germany during WWII. He smuggled her and many others out of the country during the war. Even though she had kind foster-parents to care for her, Connor had always like visiting her when he could. As with all mortals, she aged. After her foster-parents died when she was 20, she asked Connor if she could live with him in New York. He had almost told her no. In his long Immortal life, Connor had learned that it did not work to become emotionally involved with mortals. But Rachel was almost like a daughter to him, so in the end, he agreed and she had come to New York. She was very good at running the antique shop during his long absences.
When he told her of his immortality, she was not really surprised. "You see Connor", she had told him, "I remember the day you found me. The German soldier shot you and you were dead. Then you opened your eyes and whispered 'Hey, It's a kind of magic'. You then surprised the soldier and we escaped." He was never sure just why she stayed. Like all mortals she had aged and was growing old while he looked the same as he had 400 years ago.
His thoughts turned to the conversation with Mark Deerson. Connor hoped everything was fine with Deerson's family. Too often Immortals used mortals as pawns in the Game. That was why most Immortals did not become involved with mortals. In over 470 years, Connor had only had two wives and Rachel was the only person that he could have called a daughter. Even if the family of an Immortal was not drawn into the Game, it was too painful to always watch loved ones grow old and die.
"What's wrong Connor?" Rachel interrupted his thoughts. "You're not getting bored with my company tonight are you?" She laughed because she was quite accustomed to Connor's habit of getting lost in thought.
"No. I was just thinking about Mark Deerson and his family. He hasn't called in the week since he left. He was fairly certain that whoever was watching Caroline and Anna was an Immortal."
"Why don't you fly out to Chicago to see him?" Rachel suggested. "Then if he needs help, you'll be there. If not, then the two of you can finish the visit that was interrupted earlier. Connor, it will be good for you to get away for a bit."
Connor knew she was right. It had been quiet in New York since the Kurgan five years before. It was odd, but he nearly believed the Kurgan when the ancient Immortal had told Connor that they were the last two Immortals. Kurgan's Quickening certainly had been the strongest he had ever felt. It had not taken long though, to discover that he and the Kurgan had been wrong. The Gathering was still going on with many Immortals left in the world.
The next day Connor was booked on a flight to Chicago. He still had a nagging worry that something was wrong. It was not like Mark Deerson to simply disappear. Calling the office where Deerson worked, Connor was told that Deerson had not been to the office for the past week. That worried Connor enough so that he drove straight to Deerson's home instead of checking in at a hotel.
When Connor arrived at Deerson's house, the house was dark as though no one was home. While walking around the house, however, Connor felt the unmistakable presence of another Immortal. He carefully headed for the front door. He was greeted at the door by a tired and haggard looking Mark Deerson.
As the two walked back towards the study, Connor told Deerson the reason he was in Chicago. "I'm glad you came Connor", Mark told him. "But you didn't have to. I can handle the problem."
"And just who is the problem?" Connor asked, eyeing his friend. "Honestly, Mark, at the moment I'm not sure you could handle anyone. And where are Caroline and Anna?"
Mark sighed as he answered Connor's questions. "Slan Quince. That's the who. He is an old Immortal. I don't really know how old. He was here watching the house when I arrived. I challenged him then, but he backed off saying he had only come to see the lady and child of the house. Caroline was scared. She knows about other Immortals and the Gathering, but this was her first time seeing me fight with another Immortal. We decided it would be better if she and Anna went to stay with Caroline's sister until this was over. They left earlier today. They had to leave. I couldn't let them stay for Slan to get to them. They are my life, everything."
As the two Immortals sat talking about the Immortal named Slan Quince, there, was a knock at the door. Connor asked, "Expecting company?"
"No", Mark replied heading for the door, "but then I wasn't expecting you either."
When he opened the door, he stared in dread at the two police officers that where standing at the door. "Mark Deerson?" the older of the two asked.
"Yes, I'm Mark Deerson", he replied hesitantly.
The two men moved to stand just inside the doorway and were clearly uneasy about the news they brought. "Mr. Deerson, we are sorry to have to tell you but there has been an accident involving your wife and daughter. The car they were in was hit by a truck. There were no survivors."
Connor didn't have to see his friend's face to know that Mark was devastated. His whole reason for being was now gone. This had to be what Slan Quince was waiting for.
Mark just stared at the officers and asked for the details of what had happened. The driver of the truck had been drunk and lost control of his larger truck. It had slammed into Caroline's car. There was nothing anymore could do.
While one of the officers talked with Mark, the other moved to stand with Connor. "Excuse me for asking sir, but are you a relative or friend?"
Connor shook hands with the officer. "I'm Russell Nash, from New York. And I am a friend of Mark Deerson's. He invited me to stop by the next time I was in town and here I am. I can stay for a while to make sure Mark is going to be okay. His wife and daughter was his whole world."
Both officers offered their condolences and left the house. Mark continued to sit and stare at the family portrait on the wall in the living room.
"Mark", Connor started. And stopped as both men felt the unmistakable presence of an Immortal and neither doubted who it was.
Connor put a hand on Mark's shoulder. "Let me handle this Mark, you are in no condition now to face a challenge."
But Mark shrugged off Connor's hand and took his sword from its rack. "No Connor, he's mine. Slan killed Caroline and Anna, and by God, he's going to pay for that." He headed for the door.
"Mark, wait..." Connor tried again to stop the grieving man, but Mark's grief added to his strength and Connor didn't see the blow coming until it was too late. He went crashing into the stone wall of the fireplace and dropped to the ground, too stunned to move. He was barely aware of Mark leaving the room and heading for the front door.
As Connor became aware of where he was, he tried shaking his head and discovered that was a major mistake. Ignoring the pain and dizziness, he pulled himself up and with katana in hand, headed for door and the yelling that was coming from outside.
Outside he found the scene he had dreaded. Mark was wildly swinging at another Immortal, who Connor guessed was Slan Quince. Slan was laughing and Connor could see that this was truly just a game to Slan. Connor could do nothing but watch. He knew he could not interfere, no matter how badly he wanted to.
Within moments it was over. Connor watched as Slan knocked the sword from Mark's hand. Mark slumped to the ground, no longer caring that he was about to lose his head.
"There can be only one!" Connor heard Slan proclaim as he brought his own sword down quickly, severing Mark Deerson's head.
It was over. Connor watched as a light erupted from Mark's body and enveloped Slan's body. Neither Immortal noticed the wind as it picked up and blew wildly around Slan. Lightning knocked out the outside lights and blew out some of the windows. As the fury of the Quickening resided, Slan noticed Connor for the first time.
Connor held his katana ready to attack. "I am Connor MacLeod and I challenge you here and now!"
Slan smiled at Connor. "I don't think so today, MacLeod. When I am ready for you, I'll find you."
He turned and ran for his car that was parked on the far side of the house. Connor chased after him, but the last effects of the blow slowed him down. He caught up to Slan just as the other Immortal gunned the car's engine and sped away.
Several days later, Connor returned to New York. He had told the police that the Deerson family had been followed for several days and that while he had left to pick up some things for Mark, the man had returned and killed Mark. Because Caroline Deerson had reported the harrassment to the police and her description did not match Connor, the Chicago police had believed him and he was able to leave. The last thing Connor wanted was for the Chicago police to come after Russell Nash with murder charges.
He spent the next month tracing the whereabouts of Slan Quince. He discovered that what he had witnessed was how Slan worked. He sought out Immortals that had loved ones and destroyed their lives until his target no longer cared about life. Then Slan would attack and take the Immortal's head. Connor had not been headhunting in many years, but he was determined that Slan Quince would pay for what he did to Mark Deerson's mortal family and would not get the chance to do the same to another Immortal.
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