The Games We Play
Duncan was shocked, torn between confusion, anger and disbelief as the meaning of Methos's words sank in. He couldn't help remembering all the friends he had lost to the Game, a Game that he had just discovered had no real reason to be. An endless war he had been fighting for almost four hundred years. One that had claimed the life of so many of his dearest friends. It was too much. To discover that it all started with an idle threat. He looked up at Methos, trying to figure out what went on behind the mask. After a couple of minutes he worked up the courage to ask the question that was consuming him, hoping against all hope to have misunderstood what Methos had said.
"Do you mean to tell me that you started the Game?"
"Not quite, Mac. I said the words, that's true, but it was Kronos who twisted them into his sole reason to live. You could say that I have been severely misquoted, if it makes you feel any better." Methos answered, the familiar cynicism firmly in place once again.
"Misquoted? Is that all you have to say for yourself? The last five thousand years have been a damn immortal genocide because you were 'misquoted'!"
"I know that, but it wasn't in my power to stop it. Have you forgotten what happened to the other Methos when he tried to talk other immortals into abandoning the Game? Thanks but I think I'd like my head to remain where it is."
"OK. I admit that maybe it would be difficult for the Game to end now, without a winner, but back then you could have done something about it!"
"A winner? Haven't you figured that one out already? There will never be 'a winner'. Not as long as new immortals keep joining the Game. It will never end. It can't end, but the Game does serve to keep the immortal population under control."
"It's good to know you are so concerned with the demographics of the situation, but don't you think this is kind of rash."
"It's funny, sometimes a child can teach you so much."
"What on Earth are you talking about?"
"About the meaning of the Game, of course. Do you truly believe it is as futile as you now seem to think? Let me repeat the question I asked you a while ago: What would have happened with you had there been no Game to play? What would have happened with all of us then?"
"I don't know, I never had that choice, you took it away from me."
"Maybe I did. And maybe there was a reason for that as well. You may wonder about it, and dream of a perfect world. I remember."
"The Horsemen..." It was barely a whisper, but Methos nodded.
"Yes, that's exactly what you would get, MacLeod. You can't be human if you have no fear, and you can't fear if you cannot die. The Game directs immortal aggression towards other immortals and it prevents another aberration such as the Horsemen from becoming a real danger. Immortals fear each other too much to attempt such a thing."
"That's why we play? To protect mortals?"
"Yes, among other things. Do you remember Claudia Jardine? Do you remember why she refused to learn to fight?"
"She said she needed to fear death in order to play. It made no sense to me then."
"Oh, but it does make sense. She got it right, you can't live without survival instinct. To do so would be merely to survive. Your life has no meaning. In time it becomes a nightmare, or you become a monster. Besides, the Game helps us keep each other in check. If you hadn't considered yourself to be personally threatened, would you have faced Kalas, or any of the others for that matter?"
"I don't know. I believe I would have."
"The eternal Boy Scout, aren't you? Count yourself as lucky for not being born when I was. Believe me, you would have been more likely to join the Horsemen than to fight them, if fighting them had been possible, that is."
"But you said that the Horsemen weren't much worse than the world around them, so why do you fear them so much?"
"Because we weren't much worse back then, when we couldn't kill more than the ones we could kill with our own hands, but the Gods know what could happen now. Kronos came as close to showing me that, as I ever want to be."
"But Kronos was a product of his time..."
"We are all a product of our own time, Mac. The only problem is that this is not our time."
"Somehow it will have to be."