So Speaks the Hero #2

A Highlander: The Series fanzine suited for general audiences. Stories are rated PG to R. No slash. 110 pages of reduced print. Approximately 62,400 words. (Page down a little further to find details about So Speaks the Hero #1.) US buyers may pay below. Please email for international rates.

So Speaks the Hero #2 on Paper

So Speaks the Hero #2 on CD

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Here are a few excerpts from the fanzine to whet your appetite:

Ashes, Ashes by M. C. Christjansen: Methos remembers a poignant episode in his past.

“You got a postcard from Mac and Amanda,” said Joe Dawson, sliding a small piece of pasteboard across the bar’s surface to the man sitting opposite. A sulfur-yellow stamp bearing a woman’s crowned head adorned the upper right-hand corner of its surface.

“Where are they this week?”

“Why don’t you read it and find out?”

“Why should I? You’ve already read the message, haven’t you?”

Joe had the grace to look guilty. “It’s a postcard, Adam. It’s kind of hard not to.”

“A pint of draught beer would go towards making up for it,” suggested Methos.

“What kind?”

“Got any Guinness? That’s as close as it gets to the good old stuff these days.”

“You could always brew your own, you know.”

“I just might one of these days,” the Immortal replied.

“Say, did you hear that someone analyzed the contents of a bronze-age beer-jar and is making up a batch of the stuff based on a recipe from that analysis?”

“Yeah.”

“Wonder what it’ll taste like.”

“Horse piss,” said Methos, reaching for the frothing mug Joe had just set in front of him. “And no, you do not want to know how I know what that tastes like. It was one of Caspian’s ‘jokes.’ ” He sampled the mud-colored liquid and licked the pale brown foam from his upper lip. “Ah! That’s better.” Picking up the postcard, he read aloud: “Having wonderful time. Glad you’re not here. Love, Amanda & Mac.” Flipping it over, he glanced at the photo on the front, then quickly put it back on the bar. “Okay, you can throw it away now.”

Puzzled by the other man’s reaction, Joe used one finger to turn the postcard around and looked at the picture, a tall fluted column of marble surmounted by a ball of stylized golden flames, before turning it over to read the legend. “The Monument?” he asked. “The Monument to what?”

“The Fire,” Methos answered.

“What fire?”

“The Great Fire of London, in 1666.”

“Something tells me,” Joe said as he came out from behind the bar and perched on a stool beside Methos, “that you have a story about this fire.”

“Oh, I do…I do.” Methos looked into the depths of his beer, not noticing that his companion had put aside his cane and produced a pen and a pocket notebook. “I started it. Sort of.”

“Sort of?”

“Have you noticed there’s a terrible echo in here, Joe?”

Time Is On My Side by Susan Hall: A crossover with the X-Files finds Methos and Duncan visiting Mulder where Mulder finds out he's met Methos once before...

The oldest living Immortal balanced his teacup on its saucer in one hand and ran the other down the rack containing Fox Mulder’s CD collection. The lively conversation between his friend, fellow Immortal Duncan MacLeod, his new acquaintance, fellow Immortal Fox Mulder, and the lovely and mortal Dana Scully, carried on as comfortable background music to his casual survey of the compact discs. Methos muttered a title out loud every now and then, but if a stranger had been listening, he might have been rather surprised at the running commentary that went along with each pronouncement: “Ah, Bach, wonderful composer, liked his strudel—no one knew he could bake—and Beethoven, incredible music, quite squirrelly though…nice Elvis collection, that Parker fellow never did send me those residuals he promised after I gave him—just gave him—that Mississippi boy on a platter. Hmpf…”

He glanced over his shoulder, but no one was really listening to him; MacLeod felt the other’s stare and raised a questioning eyebrow even as he kept talking, but Methos smiled reassuringly and went back to his appraisal of the younger Immortal’s CD assortment. It was quite all right, they all knew each other and were trying to catch up after a long absence. Mulder and Dana seemed like a nice enough couple; typical to an Immortal/Mortal relationship, their mutual happiness carried an undercurrent of the difficult way they’d chosen to travel: no matter what they did, Mulder would outlive Dana, and be left to remember their too short time together. He understood it all too well himself, and was amazed he still carried some capacity to love after all his losses. Methos shrugged. It was just the way it was; he hadn’t lived this long without a great ability to understand and accept, and yes, survive. It was what he did best, after all. How cynical, MacLeod would comment—damn you, my Highland conscience—I am practical. He smiled, and took a sip of tea even as he kept reading CD titles.

“Sticky Fingers!”

He felt the sudden silence. Oh dear, must’ve shouted out loud…

“I beg your pardon?” Dana Scully finally ventured, recovering her wits first.

He turned around, and pointed back in the direction of the CD. “The Rolling Stones—Sticky Fingers—a personal favorite.” He looked at Mulder. “Funny, you don’t look like a Stones fan.”

The ex-FBI agent raised an eyebrow. “Neither do you. Stonehenge maybe…” He grinned.

Methos ignored the age-influenced barb. He’d heard them all. Twice. He preferred to share his thoughts on the Stones. “I’ve been a fan for a long time—even was on the tour with them for awhile.”

Duncan stood up to stretch, pacing casually, gracefully, to the window and back to the sofa. “You? On tour with the Stones?” He sounded doubtful.

“Yes, me.” He answered in a huff.

“Wow.”

Methos turned to Mulder and smiled at the sound of awe in the other man’s voice.

“You knew the Rolling Stones? They’ve been my favorite band since I was a kid. I bought their albums, Scully, and I’d have to listen late at night so my parents wouldn’t hear. They were a bad influence, as my father was fond of telling me.” He looked at her, and Methos caught the flicker of an ancient pain in his eyes. “Like he was such a good one…”

Scully touched Mulder’s arm gently, but commented only on the current topic of conversation. “Mulder, I never knew this about you!”

“Oh, yeah! I even snuck away to see them in concert once…” He grinned at them, the guilty joy he’d felt then returning in full force to light up his handsome face.

It was infectious; Methos grinned back, remembering his time with the band. He’d only been a roadie, but there was that time in Boston when Bill had taken ill and…. He paused, frowning, searching his considerable collection of memories.

“Good night!” The oldest Immortal exclaimed, gesturing at Mulder with both hands. He only barely noticed Scully’s alarmed look as he waved the teacup back and forth, Earl Grey sloshing over the sides to pool in the saucer. “You’re him!”

Mulder looked confused. “I’m…who?”

Meanwhile, Back in France by Joanne Madge: Jack Shapiro returns, bent on revenge, and Richie finds himself in the middle of Shapiro's ongoing vendetta against the Immortals.

Morning.

MacLeod opened his eyes, stared at the barge’s beamed ceiling for a few moments, glanced at the box across the room, and let them slide shut again. Damn the box. No, damn Joe for sending it. He sat up and tried to pretend his head didn’t ache, or at least that something as wonderfully mundane as coffee would make him feel much better.

Joe had steadfastly refused to tell MacLeod the name of the last Immortal to be seen with Richie. His Watcher reported seeing them enter a wooded area together three days earlier outside Seacouver, presumably for a face-off. The other Immortal had emerged half an hour later on his own.

The last time MacLeod spoke to him, Joe promised to “take care of the details.” The package had arrived the next day with a tiny note attached. Three words in Joe’s neat printing: From Richie’s apartment.

MacLeod told himself he would open the box today, first thing, as soon as he woke up. He considered trying to go back to sleep, but certain bodily functions were prompting him otherwise, and the sun was glowing pink at the edges of the portholes. He sighed and swung his bare legs over the edge of the bed.

Cold.

He showered and toweled off before leaving the bathroom. The sun had fully risen in the cloudless sky. Perfect running weather. MacLeod shrugged into a wrinkled sweat suit and stepped outside. The gangplank beckoned invitingly to him, the street along the pier blissfully empty at this early hour. He stretched his legs one at a time, then decided to take a warm-up stroll around the deck. Of course, he had to stop there. Couldn’t keep himself from leaning over the railing encircling the deck at the stern. Stare down into the dark, oily water where Darius’ ashes were poured four years ago. Where Richie’s would be poured if they ever found the body.

So cold.

MacLeod went back inside and tore open the box before his brain could cook up any more excuses not to. Shredded newspaper dribbled on the floor, already in need of a good sweep. He pulled out a little silver trophy with a cheap, faux-marble base. Dusty. The plaque was engraved with 3rd place: Longbeach. Nothing else. MacLeod considered calling Joe immediately and telling him exactly what he could do with his thoughtful gestures. Instead he gently started wiping the dust from the tiny, silver-colored plastic figure on the equally tiny motorcycle. He considered snapping its head off. The light wave of cold humor he expected at the thought didn’t arrive, just a dull pressure behind his eyes and the overwhelming desire to have Tessa’s arms around him.

He let the trophy drop to the sofa, sat down next to it and wept.

Plus even more stories:

Isle of Avalon by Philippa Chapman: A rogue Watcher and a bad Immortal are reason enough for Joe and Duncan to team up for an adventure in England! Fearful Symmetry by Tanja Kinkel: The ever-talented Tanja takes us into the mind and history of Kenny. More stories by Cynthia Shettle and poetry by Shomeret.

Fiction focusing on Methos, Duncan, Amanda, Joe and more! Full color cover of Methos by Karen River. Interior artwork by Dani Lane and Leah Rosenthal.

So Speaks the Hero #1

heroA Highlander: The Series fanzine suited for general audiences. Our first issue contains over 152,000 words. Color front AND back cover by Karen River. 214 pages of reduced print. Lots of Methos, Richie, Joe and Duncan, along with various and sundry other Highlander favorites are well represented. US buyers may pay below. Please email for international rates.

So Speaks the Hero on Paper

Here are a few excerpts from the fanzine to whet your appetite:

The Blue Bus by Susanna: A tale set in the modern day about Kronos and one of his students.

The black stretch limousine slid slowly over the wet pavement, the streetlights reflecting off its blackened windows. Beads of raindrops ran along its sides as it navigated the sparse late night traffic in the nation's capitol. Illumination became scattered as the luxury vehicle left the prosperous neighborhoods behind. Fires blazing from trashcans, blinking in the drizzle, replaced the city's brightness on most blocks. Fewer and fewer vehicles impaired the limo's progress, most of them abandoned and in various states of disassembly along the curbs.

Two men sat far apart in the plush passenger compartment of the vehicle. One of the men, dressed in a typical bureaucratic navy blue suit, fidgeted with the bottom of his jacket. He seemed to count the missing streetlights as an omen. He smoothed his military regulation crew cut every other block, and cleared his throat often. The other passenger, dressed in a black, tailored European suit seemed to grow more comfortable as the Washington landmarks dropped back into the rearview mirror. He rolled his neck from side to side and visibly relaxed, the scarred skin running down his right eye smoothing.

"Another?" he offered as he leaned forward to pour himself a stiff four-fingers of bourbon. The other passenger watched the man and shook his head. "Surely you're still not on duty? No? Have it your way."

Kronos sipped the fine liquor and smiled. These unofficial visits for his adopted brethren of Algeria were paying more handsomely than he'd planned. Imperialistic rule was ebbing fast in the North African world of 1959. The land was still as impoverished and unstable as it had been after Germany's retreat during World War II. Violence ran rampant through the major cities; liberation armies rose and disappeared like the hot desert sun as they squabbled between themselves for what little personal power they could grasp. Wealth, as usual, was not spreading downward through the Muslim society, but insinuated itself into the steely hands of a few. The common Algerian man would have little to do with the heathen West, but those who wished to build an effective army recognized that certain, unpleasant alliances needed to be quietly attained. Being a heathen himself, Kronos' unique talents and vast fount of knowledge made him perfect for the clandestine operation. A few well-placed promises of blackmail and retribution didn't hurt, either.

"You know, sir, there are plenty of exciting clubs closer to your hotel."

"Of course there are," Kronos nodded agreeably. "But I chose another."

"You also realize I'm sure, sir, that this club is frequented by, well, Negroes," the government man said, clearing his throat again.

Kronos took a long drink and thanked the appropriate deities for sending a bigot with him for the evening. If the live entertainment didn't turn out to be as satisfactory as promised, there were other avenues of adventure to explore. "Is that a fact?"

"Yes sir, it is. In fact, I'm not sure there will be other wh...non-Negroes there, besides ourselves, of course."

"Oh? How interesting," Kronos replied, suddenly distracted. A faint tingle tickled at the back of his neck, and he sat up suddenly, checking the streets around them. "Tell the driver to slow down."

The government man shot to attention. "What is it, sir? Where?"

Kronos peered intently out the window, searching with narrowed eyes. "Tell the driver to back up and turn down that last alley."

"Sir?"

Kronos turned his head sharply and glared at the man. "I gave you an order, soldier."

"Yes sir," the passenger replied, paling a bit as he barked the order into the microphone. His superiors made it perfectly clear not to divulge his military connections; obviously he needed more practice. The limo screeched to a halt and sped backwards, braking on the wet pavement. The driver proceeded slowly into the alley, steering carefully between the close walls and garbage. The soldier sat alert, his right hand sliding slowly into his jacket. "Sir, what...."

"Silence," Kronos hissed, concentrating on the road before him. He shut his eyes and focused, waiting for the fleeting flash of pre-Immortal presence to touch him. The limo traveled through the alleyways for several minutes, the tension growing in the government man. Kronos wanted to slap him each time he wiggled on the leather seat.

"Turn right," Kronos directed suddenly, pleased as the man jumped to follow his orders. The tingle remained steady now, directly in front of them.

Bad Moon Rising by Jennifer Shipp: Methos has a bad few days. A full moon, a Quickening, Halloween...The best way to describe this one is Methos with PMS!

He had two messages: one from Joe, asking him to dinner the next night, and a hang up. It was probably MacLeod, but Methos was too drained to care. He was sweaty and tired, so he took a warm shower and made himself dinner. He still wasn't feeling quite up to a conversation about MacLeod, but he placed a call to Joe anyway. Maybe Joe just wanted to talk. He smiled to himself.

Right. This was Joe he was talking about. Born go-between for friends. Joe could stop interfering with his friends about as easily as he could stop breathing.

"It's me," he said in answer to Joe's greeting.

"Hey, Adam. I'm sorry we missed you for lunch. What's say we meet for dinner tomorrow night? My treat," Joe wheedled.

"Joseph Dawson," Methos murmured with a grin. "When will you stop?"

"Stop what?"

"Being the moderator between MacLeod and me. Hell, MacLeod and everyone. We just had a minor disagreement; nothing more. It'll work itself out," he assured the Watcher.

"Like hell." Obviously, Joe didn't believe that. "Look, Adam, you stood me up, too, and I don't appreciate it. I know you and MacLeod have had a rocky friendship, but I thought you at least thought better of me."

"I do!" Methos insisted loudly. His voice softened as he cursed himself. "Aw, hell. I'm sorry, Joe. I didn't mean to get you caught in the middle of this."

"What is this, Adam?"

"This is... I don't know." Methos ran his hand through his hair as he closed his eyes. "I'm not feeling myself today."

"Another Immortal?"

Methos shifted through his feelings. "No; at least, I don't think so. It's like I'm being watched." He let the sentence hang between them, hoping Joe would pick up on what he desperately needed to know-without him having to spell it out. He shouldn't have worried; Joe was as much a student of human nature as himself.

There was a smile in Joe's voice as he answered, "I haven't heard of any ex-Methos Chroniclers suddenly becoming Immortal." There was a pause. "Is that was this is about?"

Methos sighed. "It might be. I don't know, Joe. I think I just need to be by myself for awhile. I'm too...sensitive right now. Too many Immortals know who I am; I'm not used to that in this day and age. I need time to adjust."

"I understand. Hey, give me a call when you're up for another late-night poker game."

Methos smiled. "You're on, Joe. I'll be seeing you."

He hung up the phone, feeling a hell of a lot better than he had when he woke up. Thinking of his behavior earlier that day, he suddenly felt like all five thousand of his years. Deciding that maybe tomorrow things would be better, he stripped and went to bed.

October 23rd

"Hey, Joe, I notice this glass is empty," Methos teased the bartender.

"Hey, Adam, I notice you haven't paid for the first three," Joe Dawson shot back with a grin.

Methos couldn't help but smile. It was good to feel normal again, after a very bizarre week. Well, almost normal. He still got the strangest feelings at the weirdest times, and nothing he did would shake them. He hoped it was just a phase he was going through. Who could tell?

His smile faded. Who would know? No one else was as old as he was. Unwilling to be brought down when he was feeling good, he let that train of thought die away. He dug into his jeans pocket, produced a twenty dollar bill, and waved it under Joe's nose. "Will this do?"

Rebellion's Last Spark by Sherri Fillingham: An alternate universe follow-up to the fifth season episode, Archangel. Joe and Methos are off on a tour of the world together, but MacLeod is still out there somewhere and Joe fears that the Highlander has gone completely insane....

Nearly forty minutes passed as the two collected the car, then Methos drove them to St. Michael's. In that time, neither spoke, but Joe ran his hand down the blade of Methos' sword from time to time. Methos didn't like to contemplate what the gesture likely meant.

The monastery sat on a hill that rose from the surrounding countryside with little warning. No undulations hinted at this rise, it simply jutted into the sky as if dropped there from somewhere else entirely. Methos turned the little car onto a path that seemed to head up the hill and was immediately met by a man standing in the road. He waved them aside and Methos opened his window. "We're heading to the monastery."

"Yes, sir. You need to park down here. There's a path that starts at the back of the parking lot which is not that steep. I should warn you, though, much of the monastery's under renovation...many areas are not open to the public."

"Um," Methos stared up the hill, "just out of curiosity, where does the church's property start?"

The man pointed about midway up the rise. "There's a fence, see?"

Methos did see it, more than halfway up the hillside. A good, healthy walk before he got to his safe haven.

"I'm not up to the walk." Joe said carefully. "Why don't we come back another time?"

"Sir, the path has been done so the climb is not difficult, and the gardens are lovely right now."

Joe spoke so the parking attendant couldn't hear him. "Somehow I doubt we'll make it up to the gardens."

Certain Joe was right about that, Methos nodded to the attendant, rolled up his window, then pulled into the large parking lot.

"You can't be serious!" Joe looked near panic.

Swallowing hard, Methos nodded. For the last month, he'd wondered about MacLeod's ramblings about having to face the ultimate evil. What if MacLeod was right? What if he was some kind of chosen warrior that had to save the world from the forces of evil? And even if he wasn't, shouldn't Methos do something to help MacLeod deal with his insanity?

"I've got to, Joe." His own voice sounded alien to him.

"He's taken Richie's head. Are you going to give him yours, too?"

Methos got out of the car and let his eyes wander up the path and linger on the fence far too far away from him. "No. I'm going to try and talk to him."

"And if that doesn't work?" The passenger door bounced on it hinges as Joe threw it open violently.

Best not to think about that now. Methos closed his eyes. "I don't know. We might well fight and I don't want you to see it."

"You can't let him take your head." Joe leaned against the car.

"I don't intend to." Methos pulled his coat and sword from the car and started toward the path...faster than Joe could go. "But if he does, maybe my Quickening will stabilize him." He shot a glance back to Joe. "Stay here."

With a promise to himself that he would ignore the tear in Joe's eye, he jogged up the lower part of the path and to whatever MacLeod had planned for him.

The Highwaywoman by Flora MacDonald (Duncan/Amanda): Duncan and Amanda have an encounter and an adventure in the days before MacLeod left Scotland....

MacLeod had been so enraged at Georgie's disloyalty that he hadn't paid any notice to the arrival of a female Immortal that he had met once briefly. She'd considered MacLeod a "green boy" when she'd first seen him, but she was now eyeing MacLeod with interest. She was garbed like a man and even swaggered like one when she entered the tavern. This woman was an outlaw in both dress and behavior.

"Such a beautiful savage," she muttered to herself. She ran the tip of her tongue over her lips as if she were imagining how MacLeod might taste. She could easily see herself teasing kisses from that sensualist mouth and caressing every inch of that broad powerful chest. Even clothed it was obvious that his arms were well-muscled, and that he must be very capable with the sword that hung at his side in its battle battered sheath. He was probably just as accomplished with...another less visible weapon, she thought dreamily.

Although current English fashion tended toward foppish elegance, MacLeod wore the plain serviceable garments of a soldier. Nor did he spoil the look of his gleaming dark hair by covering it with powder in the affected manner of an aristocrat. The Highlander's demeanor and expression were open, honest and so virile that he took her breath away. She knew that she'd never be able to dismiss this image of manly magnificence from her mind, and swore that before the day was over MacLeod's memory of her would be equally indelible.

Both MacLeod and Campbell had risen to their feet and were glowering at each other. It was obvious to all the other patrons that the two men were about to draw their swords.

"Take this outside like gentlemen," whined the anxious proprietor, stepping between the antagonists, "or I'll be calling the watch to say that a Highlander is disturbing the peace with treasonous toasts to the Pretender. See if I don't."

"I dinna' want to see ye hang, MacLeod," Georgie Campbell said, backing away from conflict. His momentary anger at MacLeod for trying to entrap him into treason had evaporated like morning dew on the heather.

"I may hang, aye, but not afore I take your head, ye disloyal blackguard!" MacLeod challenged, preparing to pursue his former friend.

"I'll summon the watch," said the tavern's owner.

The Immortal woman thought this was an opportune time to intervene. She sidled up to MacLeod with a flirtatious wink at the proprietor and crooned, "Ooh why should a big handsome man like you be wearing such an awful scowl. You'd look much better wearing nothing at all."

New Recruit by Sharon M. Palmer: An alternate universe first season story wherein Richie is recruited by Joe Dawson as a Watcher.

The next morning Joe was awakened by a phone call from the police. His wallet had been retrieved and they wanted him to come down to the station to claim it.

He was met at the station by Sergeant Powell, a large black man who specialized in handling juvenile crimes. The thief, Richie Ryan, just barely fell into that category. If this incident had occurred a month later, he would have been handled as an adult.

"Are you sure you don't want to press charges, Mr. Dawson?" Powell asked as the Watcher had reclaimed his wallet and checked its contents.

"Naw," Joe replied with practiced casualness, not wanting any official attention brought to the fact that he had been in the area the night before. "There's nothing missing. No harm done."

"I wish you'd reconsider," Powell pushed. "This kid's nothing but trouble. He's been in and out of here so often we're considering giving him his own room. A trip to juvie might do him good. Maybe straighten him out before he commits another crime and ends up in the big house."

"I'm sure you've only got his best interests in mind, Sergeant, but I can't help you. I won't press charges."

"Well, thank you for coming, Mr. Dawson. We may call you to testify if MacLeod decides to press charges."

"MacLeod?" Joe asked, momentarily startled.

"Yes, Duncan MacLeod; he owns the antique store Ryan broke into. Along with your wallet, Ryan was carrying several pieces of jewelry from MacLeod's store when we picked him up last night. We've called MacLeod and he said he'd come down here to identify the stolen goods."

Speak of the Devil, Joe thought as a tall, young-looking man with brown eyes and a shoulder-length dark brown ponytail came through the door and approached the desk sergeant.

Joe asked Sergeant Powell where the men's room was and headed off in the indicated direction, pausing once he was out of sight to listen in on Powell and MacLeod's conversation.

"Look, I don't understand," Powell said to MacLeod. "We caught this kid. We can make a good case against him, but not if you don't press charges."

Ah, so MacLeod already told them he won't press charges, Joe thought. Powell really is determined to get this kid put away.

"Sorry, no charges," MacLeod answered.

"Look, let me tell you something," Powell argued. "This punk is trying to get off the hook by saying he didn't break in, that he heard a disturbance, looked inside and saw three men with drawn swords having it out."

The kid did see something last night!

"Did he also see a guy in a bat costume and a long cape?" MacLeod joked.

Nice save.

Powell laughed, then tried once again to convince MacLeod to press charges, but the Immortal wouldn't change his mind.

"Can I talk to him before you let him go?" MacLeod asked.

Joe's eyebrows raised at that. What was the Highlander up to? I'd pay a pretty penny to hear that conversation, he thought, but such was not to be as MacLeod was ushered into a private room. Joe took advantage of the Immortal's absence to leave the police station and take up a look-out in the doughnut shop across the street.

A few minutes later he saw Duncan MacLeod and Richie Ryan leaving the station at the same time. The young thief practically swaggered, a major accomplishment considering the Immortal's glare should have reduced him to cinders. As MacLeod climbed into his classic Thunderbird and drove off, the young thief waved at him cheekily and headed quickly in the opposite direction.

We're pleased to be publishing Sharon Palmer's novella length sequel to New Recruit, Epiphanies: Continuing the alternate universe begun in "New Recruit," Richie Ryan, now living in Paris with Duncan MacLeod and Tessa, finds himself swept up in a search to find the murderer of Darius' while trying to deal with his own unexpected Immortality. Along the way, he finds an unlikely ally in a fellow, Watcher...Adam Pierson!

Richie became aware of a strange sort of buzzing in his head as he swam back up out of the darkness. The pain in his chest was diminishing and he could breathe, albeit shallowly. He lay there a moment, eyes closed, as he tried to make sense of what was happening. He had been sure that he was dying, but he must have just passed out from blood loss, for he was no longer propped in Darius' arms. He felt the cold stone of the floor and realized he was still in the church. Okay, one question answered.

He felt a movement near his side, then heard Darius speaking directly above him.

"May God have mercy on your soul."

This was followed by a sound he had come to recognize over the course of observing Duncan MacLeod for the past year...the sound of a sword passing through a neck. A soft, warm, heavy weight fell across his legs and Richie squeezed his eyes shut to stem the tears. Darius was dead. His thoughts turned with dread to how Mac would react to the news.

An instant later he was incapable of thought as all hell broke loose and he found himself at the center of it. The floor buckled beneath him and he opened his eyes to see Horton and his henchmen fleeing the church. His attention turned to Darius' body, which had fallen across his legs. He saw a sparkling cloud rise out of it and hover above them for a second. To Richie's amazement, the cloud then slammed into his chest with all the power of a freight train. His eyes rolled back into his head as he was hit repeatedly by blue flashes of lightning and his screams joined the cacophony.

Then it was over. He lay spent as the church burned around him.

Once a Horseman by Susan Hall: Illustrations by Dani Lane. After the Civil War, Methos wanted nothing more than to wander the wide open spaces of the Old West. But Fate seemed determined to put him in the path of a family in need...and just as determined to make certain he never forgot his past....

Texas, August 7, 1872

Methos reined in his horse in the sparse shade of a large boulder that sat on the curve of the trail through the hills to the west of the lower Great Plains. It was hot and dry and he pushed his flat-brimmed Stetson off his forehead and rubbed his arm across his face, grimacing as the sleeve of his shirt came away soaked with sweat and streaked with dust. With a tug his hat was settled back straight on his head, the only protection he had from the sun high in the cloudless sky. He felt his legs rise and fall as his mount sighed deeply, then lowered her head; she was feeling the heat and long days of tedious travel through land that barely changed from day to day. At least the low hills had been different scenery, but the rocky, uneven trail was tiring her out and the summer heat wasn't helping.

Methos picked up his canteen from where it hung by its strap off his saddle horn and shook it. There wasn't much water left; it made a hollow splash against the insides of the container. He smiled ruefully. Thirsty he may be, but his Immortality would ensure his survival from the effects of dehydration-his horse did not have that advantage. He dismounted slowly, wincing as stiff muscles refused to flex and his back and legs protested being in the same position for hours on a rough trail. He hadn't had much to eat either; his store-bought supplies had run out two days ago and he'd been managing on the lone rabbit he'd caught by chance yesterday morning. If he didn't run into some form of civilization soon he was going to die out here.

Then I'll come back to life, press on, and probably die again.... It was a strange combination of despair and hope-death with the promise of another chance soon presenting itself. Methos laughed humorlessly, a dry, rasping sound in the back of his throat.

His horse swung her head back to bump his hand at the sound of his voice, and he murmured soothingly to her. She was bigger than most mares, just about sixteen hands and strong and beautiful. Black with streaks of white in her mane and tail, she was as dark as her sire had been white as snow. She had his bad temper, though, and there had been some interesting moments when he'd broken her to saddle. Lon had shown him a few tricks that had worked with the stallion without breaking his spirit, and they hadn't failed him with the mare. As a result she was fiercely loyal, protective and seemed to read his mind, doing his will almost before he commanded her. Not that she'd given up her independence, on occasion trying to take a good nip out of him or bucking a bit when he first mounted in the morning. He was used to these feisty moments and dealt with them easily; her qualities far outweighed her idiosyncrasies.

As if on cue, she snorted, flattening her ears and rolling her eye back to glare at him. You've got water, and you're taking your sweet time about sharing it! she seemed to say. Methos laughed and patted her shoulder. There had been enough grasses on the way to keep her fed, but they were dry and she was feeling the effects of not enough water to drink. He was too fond of her to simply ride her into the ground while he tried to find a town or ranch; it would be a waste of a fine animal and faithful companion. He poured some of the water into his hand and held it up to her mouth. She slurped it up quickly, and he dribbled the rest into his palm for her to finish off.

"That's it, girl. Now let's keep looking for more, and a real meal would be nice, too. Steak, potatoes, beer...." He sighed as he swung back into the saddle and nudged her down the trail. She hesitated, loathe to leave even the pitiful shade the boulder had afforded, but finally obeyed, ambling down the path as it twisted narrowly around and descended into a shallow gorge. Once through, one last turn brought them out into the open, and Methos saw it, straightening in the saddle with more energy than he'd felt in days. Across the grass and mesquite covered plain was a small house; smoke drifted from the chimney and dotting the fields behind it was a small herd of cattle with a few horses mixed in. Maybe, just maybe, they would let him fill his canteen, and would have spare supplies for him to buy enough to tide him over to the next town.

"I suppose it's too much to ask that I get invited to dinner...? Let's hope they're the neighborly type, and not inclined to chase me off with a shotgun."

The Immortal Scrooge by Susanna & Attilla the HunEE: Charles Dickens and Christmastime seem to go together...the title of this story pretty much says it all! Here's a short excerpt....

Methos sighed as he came to the end of the passage. What talent the man had possessed back then and what a waste that such passion had been so sadly squandered. It was too damned bad he'd been such a self-destructive bastard. He sighed again. Byron, old friend, why couldn't you let it be? That little episode had been just one more reason for Methos to re-evaluate his current situation and his friendship with the Scot. Not safe, he decided, not safe at all.

Methos looked up suddenly from the book, an annoying sound creeping into his consciousness. He glanced about and realized the fingers on his left hand were thrumming a beat on the arm of his chair. Stilling them, he dove back into the tome. Again, the sound interrupted his brooding. He glanced over the top of his book, expecting to find one of his feet dancing up and down in a rhythm, but they were motionless, silent on the Persian rug beneath them. The tapping noise remained at the edge of his hearing, so faint was it. Possibly one of the neighbor's kids. More likely a tree branch against his window, scraping in the wind.

The tapping noise gained in volume and direction, startling Methos. He closed the book in his lap and looked in consternation toward the outside wall of his room where the tapping emanated. He immediately dismissed rats; squirrels were a possibility though. Pesky rodents he decided, likely to chew through the insulation and electrical chords. His nerves calmed by considering another expensive problem he faced, he moved to reopen his book when tapping began on one of the inside walls! Methos stood then, the aged book falling to the floor at his feet. Squirrels who communicated in Morse code were too much for his logical mind to process, and he knew quite well he was alone.

Methos jumped and spun as the opposite wall erupted in a cacophony, joining its neighbors in an ear-splitting racket. He looked heavenward as solid thudding began over his head, and he could feel the strikes on the floor beneath his feet travel through his soles. Methos held his hands desperately over his ears, the tumult wreaking havoc with his sense of balance. He desperately reached out for his chair, grimacing in pain, when the tapping stopped all together.

Methos fell into the chair, gasping to catch his breath. He shook his head from side to side, trying to stop the continued ringing. His breathing had slowed to normal, his hands no longer shook and he chuckled. Imagine, a five thousand year old man getting the jitters! Next you'll be getting a Mickey Mouse night-light, he chided himself and he stooped to retrieve his reading, but he dropped the book halfway up at the unmistakable sound of a door creaking open.

He waited, breath held tight in his chest, for another assault to his senses. Gripping his chair tightly, he let his breath out slowly, then caught it at the sound of footfalls in the apartment complex' hallway. And tapping! A footstep would fall, then a tap would sound, followed by a slide.

Step, tap, slide. Step, tap, slide. Methos closed his eyes tightly and attempted to convince himself the sounds just did not exist. I am alone, he chanted, I am alone. Rather than grow fainter, the sounds grew closer, indeed they began to mount the stairs! For what seemed hours, Methos listened as the step, tap, slide advanced unerringly toward his door. Closer and closer it came, and Methos rose slowly from his chair as he anticipated the sound to stop at his door.

The fire in the grate flamed beside him as Methos' jaw dropped. The sound continued into the room as he watched a boot-laden foot appear through his door, a cane appearing next. Another boot with built-up sole slid into the room and came to a halt. The eldest Immortal swallowed hard and forced his eyes to travel upward from the familiar boots.

It was Byron.

They were Byron's boots all right; the footsteps Methos had to admit could belong to only his dead friend. And standing before him, grinning ear to ear, was the phantomly presence of George Gordon himself. The specter was dressed in the period Methos chose to remember him best, the period when Byron's talents were running amok with them across Europe, the early 1800's. The familiar breeches and waistcoat. Byron's gold scarf. Byron's hair, even. The ghostly apparition tapped its cane three times, then attempted to throw it down. It would not leave its owner's hand.

Methos studied it and stepped back a pace, fear covering his face. The cane looked almost alive. Carved into it were faces; faces, Methos realized, of people whose lives Byron had directly influenced. He recognized the Shelleys there, poor Shelley crying out in torment, Mary weeping at his side. Methos turned his head away when he recognized the visage of Mike, the young guitar player, near the handle that seemed permanently attached to Byron's hand.

But this could not be Byron. Byron lost his head to Duncan. Methos attempted to speak, but only gained a whisper. "What do you want?"

"Much, Doc, much."

Methos paled. "Who are you?"

"You're asking me the wrong question, Doc. Better to ask me who I was."

Mortal Remains by Eve Missoula: After Alexa's death, Methos returns to Seacouver to take care of her estate and relives some of the wonderful times they shared together in Greece....

The place looked the same.

Neat, older white frame house, split into a duplex, each half hugged by its own porch and railing. Mirror images-almost. For though lights shone in the windows on the left, those on the right were dark, the blinds closed. Even the porch and walkway were unswept, giving that side of the house an abandoned look. Emptiness held within a shell of everyday normalcy.

Well, the lights would be on soon enough. He'd had Joe call the power company ahead of time to instruct them to switch on the electricity. And he knew for a fact the place wasn't empty. It wasn't empty because it was still full of Alexa's things.

Alexa's things...

Methos popped the lid on the trunk of his rental car and pulled out his bag, grimacing as his hand encountered wetness-it figured the damned trunk would prove to be less than waterproof. And in Seacouver, where it rained more days than not. There ought to be a law. He slammed the trunk closed with more irritation than the situation warranted. Then, even though it was drizzling, he dawdled on the sidewalk, pretending to fuss with the straps of his bag.

The timing of his visit back to the States couldn't have been better, really, since he was currently without a place to live. The building housing his Paris flat had been sold, and his belongings there were packed away in storage. Though he'd earned MacLeod's barge fair and square in that oh-so-touchy De Valicourt business, some quirk of generosity (an impulse he really must learn to control some century) had compelled him to return the boat to its former owner. Thus he'd been desperate and on the brink of checking into a hotel Adam Pierson could afford when a letter had arrived from Joe, telling him the time had come to wrap up Alexa's estate.

"Adam" had been named as executor in Alexa's will, which had been drawn up just before they'd left Seacouver. Since she'd had no living relatives, it had been a fairly simple document. All she owned was the house she lived in, legacy of an aunt who had passed on a few years before, and its contents. And a car, a beat-up Volkswagen Beetle sporting more rust on its surface than paint. That, however, had been traded-in a year ago, the credit put toward the van they'd purchased for the "New World" portion of their trip.

Alexa at first had wanted to leave everything to Adam. When he'd refused, she'd directed that, after her debts were paid, any proceeds from disposition of her estate were to go to charity. An interested buyer had already contacted Joe about the house. Now it was time to deal with the rest of it.

Methos had, after initial reluctance, agreed to personally see to the contents of the house, to go through and decide what to sell and what to discard. It had seemed so important to Alexa that he hadn't had the heart to turn her down when she'd asked. Now he wasn't so sure it had been such a good idea.

The drizzle had turned to real rain and, though he normally liked the rain, he hunched his shoulders as though to shrug it off. He needn't have come. He could have asked Joe to deal with it, to just send on the required paperwork to him in France for signature when it was finished. Alexa was gone-dead and buried in a Paris cemetery. His promises to her could have been likewise dead and buried. No one would ever have known.

Yet, here he was anyway, standing outside in the growing downpour when a more sensible man would be taking advantage of the available shelter. One would almost think he was afraid to go in.

The Best Revenge by Devo: In the aftermath of Bordeaux, Cassandra tries to move on with her life....

1. The Yoga Lesson

"I really need to get a life," she thought to herself, furiously packing her bags. She desperately wanted to get out of the hotel before Duncan returned. Storming through the lobby, she hailed a taxi to the airport and caught a plane to New York, only because it was the next plane out of there. She was barely aware of the brief trip from Bordeaux to Charles de Gaulle, settling almost without noticing onto the international flight to JFK. Tears threatened to well up three times on the long trip west, but she managed to ruthlessly suppress them. Also ruthless was her effort to squash any thoughts of the man who had roused her to such a state-the man she never wanted to encounter again, who had twice saved her life in the past week-saved the life she had fought so hard to enjoy despite the early, brutal stamp of his actions on her psyche.

Methos. His name came unbidden to her lips. The tears threatened again. Her head whirled; the plane seemed to be dipping. She gripped the armrests tightly. "I need to get a life," she said again, her voice breaking. She stared out the window. After awhile, sleep arrived, a respite in the pain.

Once in New York, a city she had lived in from time to time over the centuries, she found an apartment near the Hudson River-an old, pre-war four-bedroom on Riverside Drive with high ceilings and peeling paint, its windows facing the park. She reacquainted herself with the rhythms of the city, locating, amidst the asphalt and brick and steel, the places with a touch of nature or that were tuned to a human scale. She liked to stroll along in the dog run in Riverside Park, observing the mating dances of dogs and the equally choreographed dances of their owners. She would visit the Cathedral on 113th Street-stopping behind to see the peacocks, and the Riverside Church, with its beautiful blue windows reminiscent of Chartres. Once, she made the long bus trip uptown to see the Cloisters, an old monastery transported, stone by stone, to the new world, now housing the Unicorn tapestries and other medieval artifacts. Once was enough; the Middle Ages were not, by and large, a happy time. She shopped along Broadway: produce at Fairway, fish at Citarellas, and deli and lox at Zabar's-the whole mad, turbulent, colorful mix that was the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The shopkeepers got to know the exotic beauty who kept her counsel to herself but always chose the best items. She seemed a fragile monster, both intimidating in her intensity and odd mannerisms, and likely to break if approached with too much of their trademark New York coarseness. She was "the Lady," acquiring, in the ancient manner of women alone, a clan of stray cats to feed, several songbirds, and a large wolfhound from an animal shelter. She barely spoke. Her mind was largely quiet, a state she worked relentlessly to maintain, and she was very alone.

It was in this hard-fought quiet mood that she came across Anand, the yoga teacher.

Goodbye, My Friend by Ruth Calkins: A bittersweet alternate universe where Duncan doesn't disappear at the end of Archangel. Richie Ryan's friends bid him a final farewell.

The Seduction of Joe Dawson by Elizabeth A. Kowols: An old friend of Duncan's finds common ground and love with a mortal Watcher....

Methos Hallmark Cards by Leah Rosenthal: A collection of favorite greeting cards from one Immortal to another.

And more! 152,000 words of fiction, poetry and artwork focusing on Methos, Kronos, Duncan, Amanda, Joe, Cassandra and more! Full color covers (front and back) by Karen River. (Back cover pictured here.) Artwork by Leah Rosenthal, Laura Virgil, Maryann Jorgensen and Smap.

For any questions regarding Leah Rosenthal's artwork, please e-mail her at bizarro7@aol.com. Leah takes commissions and also will make hand colored prints of her artwork.

Also now available:

Then the Night Comes by Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal. A new Highlander novel offering an alternative resolution to the fifth season cliffhanger Archangel and the aired sixth season episodes. Richie Ryan is dead at the hands of his best friend and mentor, Duncan MacLeod. Horrified at what he has done and believing he is pursued by an ancient demon known as Ahriman, MacLeod flees Paris to seek help from old friends in Cornwall. Joe Dawson, Cassandra, and Methos soon follow and the pursuit of who-or what-Ahriman truly is soon involves many of MacLeod's friends in a desperate race from Cornwall to Scotland to Wales. Along the way, Methos must confront more specters from his past, MacLeod learns a few lessons, Joe has a new friendship which is deepening, and Cassandra must learn to deal with a Methos who is, in many ways, different from the man she once knew. Flashbacks take our heroes from ancient Egypt to ancient Babylonia and to Barcelona, Spain along the way. Then the Night Comes is rated PG with no overt sex, either straight or slash.

The Lightning's Hand by Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal: A sequel to Then the Night Comes. Ahriman, a.k.a. Kummaya, has been defeated, our heroes have returned home for a well-deserved rest, and the ancient Sword of Nuada has been retrieved. All is well in Duncan MacLeod's world. Even his friends, some of them deadly enemies of each other, have managed to come to a truce of sorts. Several months have passed in relative normalcy. Of course, nothing in MacLeod's world ever stays normal for long! Whilst being moved from David Shaws' estate to the British Museum, the deadly sword is stolen...and it is feared that it has fallen back into the hands of an Immortal. MacLeod fears that Amanda has succumbed to a desire to own the object, while Cassandra suspects Methos...and, of course, Methos suspects Cassandra, who considered the sword a sacred relic. Suspects abound and the chase is on to find the culprit!

Reflections by Lynn Montgomery, a novel focusing on Methos and his days with the Horsemen. Joe and Duncan play major roles in the present-day segments. Rated adult for slash between Methos/Kronos and Methos/original character.

Revelations #1, an adult Highlander zine. Our first issue is extremely Methos oriented. In fact, there's not a single story without him in it! Mostly slash, with one heterosexual story. Check out the link for more details and ordering information. Submissions are now open for the next issue.

If you are interested in submitting to any of our upcoming publications, please click here to view our submission guidelines.

We accept money orders, cash (at sender’s risk!) or credit cards and echecks (via Paypal) in payment. For further ordering and pricing information regarding any Ashton Press fanzine, please contact Ann Wortham at ashton7@aol.com.

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