Highlander: The Origin of Immortals*
"...When the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men... men of renown." - Genesis 6:4
It has been two weeks since Joe received news in Seacouver of Alexa’s death. Even though Alexa had been resigned to die for months, the fact that she spent her last days exploring the world with Methos brings little comfort. Joe doesn’t like the fact that Methos can still be in The Game unnoticed, even if he is MacLeod’s friend. News of his alter ego Adam Pierson being outed as an Immortal has quieted his righteous indignation – and he feels he can trust him now he is on the right side of the rules. Joe also worries about Ritchie, and hopes to eventually be closer to him than he is to MacLeod – Watcher oath be damned. There is too much evil going on with the immortals to simply watch the good ones who have a shot to take the whole thing get slaughtered. Even so, the idea of being a Rolodex of death for MacLeod and his friends is still disturbing, especially after what happened to Charlie and Cord.
Joe is taking it easy tonight, and he is not in a hurry to read Watcher memos and updated dossiers on “active” Immortals. Hopefully someone friendly will take his mind off that business that is both strangely grotesque and dull at the same time – like a med student cutting into his 100th warm cadaver.
“Hey Joe,” greets Ryan as he walks into Joe’s dark and half empty bar. “Is Angelica working tonight?”
“No, she took the night off. Her babysitter cancelled at the last minute. I figured I could hold the fort without her.”
“Aww, that’s too bad. I was planning to talk to her, she is really cute.”
Joe looks at Ritchie with that familiar fatherly and protective face, “It seems like every time I get an attractive single waitress in here, one of you guys has to pounce. First Adam on Alexa, and now you. What would people say?”
“Come on Joe, that’s not fair. At least Alexa got a chance to see the world, and who better than a guy who has seen it all,” protests Richie.
“Yeah, I know. It’s just that, well, immortals come with a lot of baggage – especially you and Mac. At least Adam tries to stay out of trouble these days. Alexa didn’t live long enough to ask any questions. Angelica has a kid and her whole life to live.”
“Yeah, I guess you are right. Even so, knowing that I will never have a child – it really makes me want to build a relationship with someone that already has that covered. I figure I can fill her and the rest of the family in on my 70th birthday. It’s weird, I know about Mac and Amanda and their adventures – but I am the settling down type, how does that work between immortals and everybody else?”
While the police still consider Ritchie a hardened criminal, he has always seen himself as something more. Before MacLeod and Tessa, he stole and preyed on people because he thought it was the only way. After becoming immortal, he realized that there is more to life than what he reads or hears on TV – and the fact that he has never gone to college has left him with an open mind. He often sees himself as going through life as a pillar of a community – with a family and responsibilities, while using his immortality to protect those he loves and those who need him. He even finds he gets along better with Duncan if someone like Tessa or Amanda is around as a stabilizing force. The idea of going through life alone with a revolving door of women and a sword as his only comfort was not appetizing at all. More and more Joe sees that side of Ritchie, and he is willing to do more than he should to keep that dream alive.
“It’s tough Ritchie,” Joe says with a sigh. “I am sure it has been done, but every story I know of ends with an immortal searching for someone’s head. Even if you could do it – the second you have to take an immortal down, or even if you are injured and just come back, well it would be a miracle to actually keep a whole family together.”
“Really. Even way back, thousands of years before now. Before immortals even worried about the Gathering,” scoffs Ritchie.
Joe leans into the bar as he dries a beer glass, thinking this is going to be a long night. One thing that is keeping him at the bar instead of on his work laptop is the Gathering. There is no really clear defining sign of it coming – no trumpets, or fiery angels in the air. Just clues, anomalies, funny little things. Like the fact that the last ten immortals that MacLeod has killed, he has met before. Nevermind he has been in Seacouver, Glenfinnan, London, and Paris all in the last few months. The Gathering was supposed to be in a single city, but that prophesy was made thousands of years ago – before people even imagined air travel. They may not all be in the same place, but there are definitely fewer immortals, and they are killing each other off at a much quicker pace than in the last century. Cimoli was only alive for three months after becoming immortal. The Gathering is here.
“Who knows, back then the Watchers were only concerned about who is immortal, whose head they have taken, and why. They weren’t really concerned about the family life of Gilgamesh.” Joe pours a couple whiskies for Ritchie and himself. He knows what is coming up.
“Then where do immortals come from, how do we end up… well, where ever we end up? Mac always says it’s just a mystery, but there’s gotta be more,” inquires Ritchie as anxiousness builds in him.
“Well, Mac is right on the short answer.”
“And the long answer?”
With a long sip Joe replies. “It depends on who you believe. Or what you believe. The only things we know for sure are that after the first death an immortal is sterile yet he can’t die, and they can’t fight each other on holy ground – regardless of faith.”
Ritchie feels the buzz and turns around to see Methos enter. Methos smiles and says, “Well, I worship beer so Joe’s is now holy ground.”
Joe grins and says, “Well that works for me. How are ya Adam?”
“I’m thirsty. So, has MacLeod forgotten to go over the rules with his student?”
“Funny Adam, “Ritchie replies. “We were just talking about the origin of Immortals, and where we come from. Any thoughts?”
“Well, given that I am the oldest one – you would think so. But in my 5000 years I never heard any exact answers. My first teacher, Menahem gathered some ideas as to where we might come from – but nothing that is scientific.”
“What do you mean,” wonders Ritchie.
Methos explains. “Well, the conundrum is this. We are completely human until someone tries to kill us. We live, grow old, have children, and even if someone takes an immortal’s head in that state – there is no quickening. We are mortal just like anyone else. The only thing that makes pre-death immortals different from mortals is that other immortals can still sense them.”
“So if it wasn’t for the guy who killed Tessa, I would still be normal,” replies Ritchie.
“Basically. But there is more. I have never met an immortal who knew their birth parents, but he would always look basically like the people with whom he grew up. There is strong diversity in the immortal community,” adds Methos with his characteristic smirk.
“So let me get this straight. You are saying I have no parents. If I would have stayed away from Tessa and MacLeod, none of this immortal stuff would have happened. And I am forced to observe every religious site on the planet. On top of all that - I could live forever.”
“You make it sound much worse than it is.”
Joe chimes in, “Adam, I didn’t realize you were so philosophical.”
“Joe, I am awash with great qualities,” says Methos smirking. “So far the only thing that has any weight is the idea that we immortals are some sort of Nephilim.”
Ritchie shakes his head,” Ok, what’s that?”
“You mean, ‘what are they?’ The Jews believe that some point before the Great Flood – a bunch of angels were doing God’s work around the world and noticed how attractive the natives were. Well, one thing led to another and the mortal women started having babies with the angels. The children were called Nephilim, giants and whatnot, and caused enough trouble that God decided to flood the earth to get rid of them. Well, no one ever bothered to ask what the angels thought of that idea. Menahem believed that God compromised with the horny but well meaning angels and allowed them to save their unborn offspring – and release them into the world as humans over time. If these angelic love children kept a low profile, life would be normal. But if they somehow got killed, then they entered The Game and became immortal.”
Joe is skeptical. “Wait, it’s been a long time since I have been to Sunday school, but didn’t the Great Flood kill all the humans except for Noah and his family?”
Methos annoyingly replies, “Did you just join the conversation? We are talking about immortals.” He smiles proudly as he puts another nail in the coffin. “Remember David and Goliath? What did David do after he struck the Phillistine with a slingshot, altar boy?”
Ritchie and Joe answer together, “He took his head.”
Methos beams, “Precisely. Perhaps he was divinely inspired to do so.”
Ritchie is still excited, “So if we are really Nephilim, then where do all the rules come in? The Quickening, holy ground, the Gathering, the one-on-one fighting?”
Methos reminisces, “Well…”
(Flashback to Ancient Uruk. It is nighttime, and Menehem, a man who looks in his fifties dressed in a simple shepherd’s garb, is seated at the head of a group of followers sitting around a fire in a circle just inside the city walls. Here he explains the origin of the immortals.)
“…Angels are beings that are meant to be created from fire, rather than dirt and clay and flesh. We, the Nephilim, have the fleshly body of humans, but once awakened we have the fiery spirit of angels. And we can feel the Quickening that we all share. The Quickening is the power, memories, and knowledge of an immortal and the immortals he has killed – imprinted into the angelic part of his soul. The totality of all Quickenings is the Prize, where the last one standing becomes both fully man and fully angel. One he has the Prize, he has immense power to use for good or for evil.”
“Immortals cannot fight on holy ground anywhere – because God accepts all attempts at consecration, no matter the faith of those who ask it. An immortal’s sterility, the need to fight one on one, and striving for the Prize are God’s solutions to keeping immortals out of trouble. Like Gilgamesh and Enkidu.”
(Back from Flashback)
“So what happens if someone evil gets the Prize,” asks Ritchie.
“Then we are all in trouble. After all, God didn’t stop the last angel who wanted to cause problems on Earth.” Methos replies drolly. “You had better keep practicing.”
*HIGHLANDER is a worldwide copyright and trademark of Davis•Panzer Productions, Inc. and Gétéve