This Is The Way The World Ends

Maya Aranya

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Disclaimer: Not my characters, they belong to Panzer-Davis and whatever other PTB that apply. This is fanfic, I don't make any money from it, it's all in fun, OK?


"How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!"

** 1993, Seacouver **

Duncan MacLeod stared down at his chest and then back up at the man who had just shot him, in horrified realization.


The blond Hunter smirked at him and shot again. The impact of the second shot slammed the Scot into the wall behind him. He slid slowly down it, leaving a trail of crimson blood on the fading paint. Duncan felt his vision blurring, and the warning sensation of an Immortal approaching swelled into a great roaring sound in his ears. Helpless, he landed on his knees, next to Charlie DiSalvo's unconscious body.

Xavier St.Cloud stepped forward, sword raised. "I've waited a long time for this, MacLeod."

As the blade swept down unerringly, Duncan's last thought was that this couldn't be happening. And then there was only darkness.


"I know a trick worth two of that."

** 1993, Paris **

Luther plunged his sword into his helpless opponent's heart, and then leaned back slightly to kick the dying body off the blade. He bent down to snatch the crystal that was suspended around her neck, then severed the head with a smooth, casual stroke.

The skies parted and the power screamed down in cascades of blue-white brilliance. It seemed to go on for an eternity, one of the strongest Quickenings Luther had ever felt. After all, Amanda had been over a thousand years old. A formidable opponent, but no more so than Rebecca had been. Through the agonising impact of the bolts of lightning, Luther was still conscious of his unbelievable triumph. He had won! The last piece of the legendary Methuselah Stone was his. As the lightning subsided at last into little flickers around him, Luther stiffened in alarm at the sound of hand clapping.

The familiar sensation of another of his kind approaching had been muffled by the greater immediacy of the Quickening. He turned painfully to see a tall man approaching, still clapping slowly.

"Bravo, Luther. You actually did it. There were times I doubted that you would find all the pieces, but you proved me wrong."

"Who in Hades are you?" Luther forced the words out, trying to get to his feet, but his trembling limbs would not cooperate.

The other man's lips quirked slightly.

"Why, I believe I *am* Hades. Or at least a near relation. So they say. You've saved me a lot of trouble, you know," the other man said. "And now, I think..." he drew an obscenely long broadsword from his coat.

"If you kill me, you'll never find the rest of the crystal!" Luther said desperately, bringing his own weapon up in a feeble attempt at defence.

"Not to worry, I will," was the sardonic reply, as the newcomer raised his sword. He brought it sharply down, easily disarming his weakened opponent, and then taking his head with an almost negligent backswing.

Once again lightning tore down out of the purple twilight, while a single man's laughter rang through the storm like a harbinger of doom.


"These, having not the law, are a law unto themselves."

** 1994, Paris **

"I'm telling you, Don, James killed MacLeod! He shot him down in cold blood, and then watched Xavier St.Cloud take his head! I'd never have believed it if I hadn't seen him try to kill Richie Ryan in front of me."

Don Salzer shook his head sadly. "I'm not doubting you, Joe. It's just that I don't want to believe it --  James Horton, the man we've known and worked with for so many years, your brother-in-law; that he could have turned into such a monster! It's appalling."

"Well, I can't say that I've ever liked him," Adam Pierson put in, raising his head from the contemplation of his beer. "I think the Council should take immediate action to stop him. God knows how many more Watchers he's subverted."

"The Council has already passed sentence, Adam," Joe Dawson said, his face drawn into harsh lines of pain. "They have a team of sweepers out, with orders to shoot him on sight."

"I'm sorry, Joe," Don Salzer said, putting a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder. "I know he's family. This must be hard for you."

Joe shook his head. "Don -- the man that James has become -- I don't know him. I don't think I *want* to know him. Maybe we're all better off with him dead!"

Adam Pierson rose to his feet and tossed the empty can of beer neatly into the bin across the room. "You're probably right. And the odds are against him now - with every Watcher in the field looking for him.

He continued, after a brief pause. "What happened to St.Cloud, anyway?"

"Horton killed him - I guess he'd outlived his usefulness. Why?"

"Oh, just curious. I may be a Methos scholar, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in other Immortals," Adam said, over his shoulder, as he left the room.

Joe watched the gangly figure walk away, oddly disquieted. What was it he'd said? God knew how many Watchers Horton had subverted... The organization would never be the same again.


"He who bears the brand of Cain shall rule the Earth."

** New York, 1995 **

The warehouse seemed deserted to the untrained eye. But a wary Connor MacLeod drew his sword at the tingling awareness of an Immortal's presence close by. Could it be Kantos? Joe Dawson had told him he would find Adam Pierson here - a Methos Watcher. According to Joe, Pierson had apparently found information on how the older Immortals managed to resist the insidious power of the Voice.

Kantos had killed Cassandra, and then several other of the Highlander's friends in the last few months. Connor had sworn to himself that he would put an end to it.

As he walked into the building, he felt the buzz grow stronger, and closer - had Kantos followed him here? Or had he already found the young Watcher and killed him?

Connor walked cautiously forward and up the stairs toward the office, where he had been told he would find Pierson. He had asked Joe what a Methos scholar was doing in New York - after all, no one had seen or heard anything of the ancient immortal in centuries.

Most Immortals, including Connor, thought he was a myth. But Joe had been very insistent - and Dawson was a good friend. He had been ever since they had met at Duncan's funeral two years earlier. Young Richie obviously thought of Joe as family. Later, Dawson had revealed his Watcher identity to the Highlander -- a sign of trust that had only deepened the friendship between the two men.

Joe obviously thought that this Adam Pierson fellow had some valuable information - hopefully that information had not put the researcher at risk. Worried, Connor looked around as he advanced. A Methos watcher would not have much field experience - easy prey for an experienced Immortal.

"Adam? Adam Pierson?" Connor called out, feeling the presence of a strong Immortal presence invading his senses. God, what was that feeling? It was a deep resonating thrum of power, echoing with strange voices whispering unintelligibly into the Highlander's mind.

Every step brought him closer to the source of that wellspring of presence. If this was a trap, he was going into it with his eyes open, he decided, sword held ready.

The office door was open - the lights were on. There was a young-looking man sprawled on the floor, reading a book. As MacLeod entered, the relaxed figure slipped a pair of head-phones off his ears and sat up. The corners of his mouth quirked in an attractive half smile.

"You Adam Pierson?" Connor enquired warily, looking around. It couldn't be: but it was. The sense of the other man's Quickening vibrated through him - this man was unquestionably Immortal.

"Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," the youthful stranger announced, as if no introduction were necessary. "Have a beer," he went on, tossing a can at his visitor. His smile deepened as Connor caught it by reflex, a bemused expression on his face.
This was Adam Pierson? An Immortal?

"Mi casa es su casa," Pierson said, still smiling. Connor noticed that the smile did not reach the hazel eyes. Eyes that remained coldly detached and watchful.

Connor's spine prickled warningly. What would an Immortal be doing In the Watchers, ostensibly studying the oldest of their kind, unless...

"Methos?" he whispered, incredulously.

"Bright boy," the ancient Immortal approved, getting gracefully to his feet. He stretched like a cat, pulling a broadsword from behind him.

"There is no special information about the Voice, is there," Connor realised, retreating slightly out of the office as the older man advanced.

"No, none that I can give you, I'm afraid. Though it is true that many of the older Immortals are, for some reason, able to resist the Voice. No idea why, though," Methos said indifferently, advancing as the Highlander backed into a more open area.

"You set this up to meet me? Why the elaborate charade, Methos? I've never hunted you."

"There can be only one, MacLeod, you know the drill," the older man said, sounding bored. "After 5000 years, I've become quite attached to the idea of winning the Game."

"If you survive this fight, Old Man," Connor reminded him drily. After all, by all accounts, Methos had been out of the Game for some years. He had to be a bit rusty.

"There's that, of course", Methos agreed meekly.

Circling slowly around the other man, the Highlander studied his opponent. Methos wielded a broadsword held in a two-handed grip - that might be because the sword was just a little heavy for that slim frame, or -- not.

Connor's own katana was slightly shorter, but he knew how to compensate for the lack of reach. He had learned many things over the years, and he had beaten the Kurgan. Most believed that the Kurgan had been the best fighter of them all.

Methos seemed reluctant to take the offensive, so MacLeod did. He moved quickly, testing the Old Man's defences, which were sound enough - every blow was parried, but the technique seemed forced, as if Methos was trying to remember the moves as he fought. He definitely did not show the fluid grace that constant practice brought to most Immortals.

Connor pushed a little harder, and succeeded in drawing first blood - a long but shallow cut on Methos' right arm. It would heal quickly, but would slow him down. Faster now, a feint, a parry, - and then a quick overhand slash that laid Methos' forearm open to the bone. Distracted by the older man's sharp cry of pain, Connor missed the flash of satisfaction in the hazel eyes, and never saw the left handed attack that brought him down.

Feeling a burning pain in his abdomen, he stared down in disbelief at the hilt of the long knife embedded in his stomach. The follow up cut from Methos' sword severed the Highlander's right hand at the wrist. Speechless with agony, he stared up at his killer's face.

"You might have grown to be a formidable opponent, MacLeod. An impressive feat, killing the Kurgan. But you've become a bit of a nuisance of late - you killed Morgan d'Estaing - he was useful to me. And your elimination of Paul Karros was a definite setback. You've managed to interfere with too many of my plans lately," Methos said, raising his sword over his shoulder for the finishing stroke.

"Kantos, too?" Connor managed to groan, bitterly.

"No, I never had any use for the twit," Methos said. "You could have killed him, for all I care. In fact, I'll probably do it myself." He hesitated a moment longer. "Nothing personal, Highlander. But I can't let you get in my way." The broadsword came down, singing its deadly song.


"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."

** 1995, Bordeaux **

The man calling himself Melvin Koren swore to himself, conscious of violent frustration as he surveyed his bleak surroundings. He had done his best to turn the abandoned submarine base into a reasonable facsimile of a dark age fortress, but neither the familiar décor nor his latest exploit gave him any sense of fulfilment. Why was this all so empty? So flat?

He had spent years, and squandered a fortune recklessly in pursuit of his latest acquisition. Locked in his safe was a deadly vial containing a doomsday virus. Once infected, a human victim had no chance. Death, when it came, would be a merciful release after the unimaginable agonies of the disease. It was worse than Ebola.

Still, it was not enough. He needed a plan. He needed a band of ruthless killers to put his ideas in motion. How he missed the old days, when he had ridden at the head of the most feared band of warriors the world had ever seen. He had roved the world for centuries, marauding and slaughtering at the head of a dozen different cuthroat bands. Trash, all of them, never measuring up to the undiluted force of destruction that the Horsemen had been.

When the buzz hit him, it was strong, stronger than he had felt from anyone in centuries. His skin crawling with the power, he thought for a moment that he was day dreaming still. Surely it could not be? He picked up his sword and came to his feet, a predatory gleam in his eyes as he watched the entrance to the hall.

The slender man who sauntered in, hands tucked carelessly into the pockets of his jeans, looked amused when he took in the sight of the scarred man with the wickedly barbed weapon. "Hello, brother. Is that your sword, or are you just happy to see me?"

"Methos!" he breathed, hardly able to believe it. "So it is true - if you wait long enough, all things do come to you."

"Kronos," the other man acknowledged, the smile growing. "Who's your decorator?" he asked, gesturing at the walls. "All it needs are a few skulls, and perhaps an axe or two."

"You haven't changed, Methos," the scarred man said, advancing to meet his visitor. "Still the smart mouth, I see."

"I try," the oldest Immortal quipped, his smile not faltering at all, even when Kronos' sword swung abruptly up to graze his throat. "Tsk, tsk. The first time you see me in 3000 years, and this is how you greet me, brother?"

"Well, *brother*, you poisoned me and left me to rot at the bottom of a hole in the ground, that last time I saw you. Did you expect me to forget?"

Methos shrugged. "At least I didn't take your head. I could have, you know."

"Perhaps I'll take *your* head now, Methos," Kronos growled softly, forcing his blade a little closer to that vulnerable neck. "For a long time, I thought you were dead. I hunted you across three continents. Finally, I gave up.  I should have known you would survive. It's what you do best. Or did," he said meaningly, his blade drawing a trickle of blood.

"If you kill me, you'll never have the Four Horsemen again, Kronos," Methos responded calmly, his eyes never wavering.

"What?" the sword arm relaxed slightly.

"Don't tell me you haven't missed it, Kronos. The four of us, riding side by side, thundering across the plain like doom incarnate. We were unstoppable, remember?"

Memory! The sound of hooves drumming in perfect unison, the familiar throb of Presence beside him, the wild exhilaration of the hunt! Kronos allowed the reminders of a treasured past to wash over him,

"The power! Riding out of the sun into a village of helpless mortals, knowing that you're the most terrifying thing they've ever seen!" The seductive voice purred, resurrecting the savage emotions of those glorious, long lost years.

Kronos stepped back and lowered his weapon, his own eyes aglow with remembered fires. "They called us the End of the World," he murmured.

"I know where Silas and Caspian are," Methos told him,  the familiar air of calculation alive in every line.

Kronos snapped back to the present abruptly, suspicion hardening in his eyes. "Why now, Methos? After all this time?" He stared at the man who had been Death on a horse, trying to read the tortuous motivations behind the ancient mask.

"What better time than now for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Kronos? This is the Age of Technology. Think of the tools at our disposal - men like us, who understand the true use of terror. That virus you stole, for instance: now there's a nice little toy - for a group of enterprising and ambitious Immortals. Think about it."

Oh, the mind of this one! Dark and infinitely convoluted, this was the brain of the Horsemen, and he was back! Kronos, thought exultantly. "Your information is impeccable, old friend. I'd forgotten how good you were," he admitted. "You have a plan?"

"Don't I always?"


"The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise."

** 1995, Vladivostok **

"A few drops of the virus in a fountain? How many will that kill? You've gone soft, Methos!"

Kronos turned his back on the group, disgust lacing every word.

"I'm scared. Are you scared?" Caspian smirked, filing his nails with a wicked looking knife.

Methos threw a quelling look at him, and glanced sidelong at the brooding leather clad figure glowering at the edge of the group. Kronos glared back at him out of the corner of his eye.

Then Methos relaxed into his characteristic sprawl. "What is the first rule of great drama?" he asked, obliquely. There was a telling silence. Kronos turned back to face him.

"Start small, and build." Methos answered himself. He threw his head back, and looked away into the distance, speaking softly. "So - first, a fountain, to kill a few. Then, a swimming pool to kill... a hundred. Then, a stadium - to kill ten thousand. After that, a single drop of the virus in the city's water supply..." he spread his palms, as if to say, voila!

"You want to rule the world, Kronos? Then we give them a choice: the Horsemen rule, or they all die."

Silas growled his approval. Caspian's evil grin surfaced.

"The Horsemen rule, or the world dies. I like the sound of that. No one understands terror like you, Methos," Kronos said admiringly.

Methos allowed a sardonic smile to escape. "From order to Chaos, that's our way. The way of the Horsemen. All the things that the mortals fear most in the world. We will bring their deepest, darkest nightmares to life. First, we send them Pestilence. A plague that will spare neither man nor beast. Then, while they are still reeling from the shock, Famine. We'll  starve them to their knees. Then..."

"Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of War!" Caspian put in, grinning ferally.

"Very good, Caspian," Methos nodded. "You've learned a thing or two in the years we've been apart. Why, I'll bet you've even seen Casablanca."

Caspian bared his teeth at him, in a singularly unlovely expression. But Kronos ignored the by-play, his mind already captured by the gorgeous visions of destruction and power dancing before him.


"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"

** 1998, Moscow **

Kronos laughed long and loud.

"The Horsemen rule!" he bellowed, raising his glass to his brothers. Silas and Caspian laughed back, repeating his toast gleefully.

Methos alone was silent, studying the computer console in front of him.

"Methos?" Kronos asked impatiently. "What the hell is the matter with you? Don't you want to celebrate with your brothers?"

Methos raised a disdainful eyebrow. "I think you can take care of my share of the celebrations, Kronos. I'm busy."

"Doing what?" Kronos asked venomously, coming to stare down over his shoulder at the computer screen. "More plans?" He was incredulous, but mollified.  His good humour restored, he clapped his taller companion on the shoulder.

"Look around you, Methos! We have most of Europe under our control now! Not to mention large parts of the Middle East and Asia. The world trembles at the name of the Horsemen again! Everything is going as we planned - even you need some time off, brother."

"Oh, I'm just getting started, brother," Methos said, smiling. Kronos studied him curiously.

Over the months, the ancient Immortal had become thinner still, his expression had grown relentlessly empty. The arched cheekbones and predatory nose were thrown further into relief by the hollows of a face that had lost every last remnant of spare flesh. Only the hazel eyes burned cold and familiar through the stranger's features. Yet, Kronos mused, Methos had not diminished  - if anything, he had somehow become more himself. As though the hidden power within him had grown more concentrated, and burned fiercer still in the secret depths behind the mask.

The old Methos, the one who had planned their raids so ruthlessly in the Bronze Age, had been cold and efficient, but had only truly come to life in battle. He had been in his element then, revelling in his ability to out-think and out-fight their enemies; or their victims. All mortals had been prey, and most Immortals too.

This Methos was just as ruthless and just as efficient, but completely detached from the exhilaration of conquest and destruction that drove his brothers. He did his part superlatively, yet with indifference. Far from sharing in the orgies of excess that the other three indulged in after victory in battle, he watched from the sidelines, semming amused at their antics.

As though we were only here for his entertainment, Kronos thought, disquieted. Oh, Methos was still the best killer that the world had ever seen - he was Death, after all, and that name had not been lightly earned. But - things were different.

Kronos had watched him stalk through the remains of a Ukrainian town just a month ago, gunning down any living thing that moved - men, women, children - as though they were animals, or vermin.

Kronos had been right by his side, as had Silas and Caspian, exulting in the victory, the sheer joy of it - the Horsemen rode again!

Caspian had watched Methos cut down a fleeing child with a single perfectly placed shot to the head and laughed, "You enjoy it, don't you, brother!"

Methos had glanced at him, impassive as a marble statue. "What, the killing?" His tone was disdainful. "Does a grave-digger enjoy digging?" The others had been stunned into silence for a moment.

Then Methos's wicked smile had appeared. "I'm just very, very good at it, brother!"

Silas had roared with laughter and slapped Methos so hard on the back that the smaller man had staggered. "Always joking, Methos!"

Kronos had laughed, too, then. But the memory intruded at odd moments, stirring an instinctive unease that refused to go away.


"War is Death's Feast."

** 1999, Moscow, Horsemen's Command Center **

Kronos burst into the command center, where Methos sat alone in front of the master console.

He came to a stand still, eyes wild. "Methos!"

"Yes?" The oldest Immortal didn't even look up.

"Silas and Caspian - they're dead!"

Methos turned around at that, a slight frown creasing his forehead. "Both of them?"

"Caspian killed Silas - after I warned him!" Kronos was still shaking from shock and rage. The fury that had overcome him when Caspian had ignored his shouted command to stop. We don't raise a sword against one of our brothers!

"And then you killed him, of course." Methos turned back to his computer, as though the matter was of no further interest. "Pity. I liked Silas. But I suppose they had outlived their usefulness."

Kronos froze. The seconds ticked by slowly. When he finally spoke, his voice was deadly. "You expected this." It was not a question.

Methos sighed, in exasperation, it seemed. "I've been expecting it for the last three months, Kronos. What the hell did you think would happen? We haven't fought a battle at close quarters for months - and neither Silas nor Caspian likes killing from a distance. They were going stir crazy."

Kronos let the silence drag on for a long time. "You've been lying to me, Methos."

"Have I ever done anything else?"

"What's the plan, Methos?" His voice was quiet, calm. The demon unease that had plagued him was roaring up to the surface again, and suddenly Kronos thought that perhaps he didn't really want to know.

Methos turned to him, studying his younger companion for a long moment.

"I'm planning the final battle, Kronos," he explained gently. He waved at the screen behind him. "In less than an hour, it will begin."

Methos stood up and stretched. Propping a lean hip against the table, he assumed the professorial manner he always used when explaining a campaign strategy.

"First, I launch a simultaneous thermonuclear strike on 40 major cities all over the world, including Washington, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo, Beijing, New Delhi, Tel Aviv, Cairo... Then, as planned, the defence systems of the major nuclear powers will launch a series of counter attacks that will take out a designated list of secondary targets across the world. After that, my computer here will launch a combination of chemical and nuclear strike weapons to wipe out what's left... You're getting the picture, aren't you, Kronos?"

"Methos," Kronos whispered, "There will be nothing left to rule." Hellfires, this was a level of insanity beyond anything that even he had ever contemplated.

"I've never been particularly interested in conquering or ruling, Kronos. I am Death, remember?" Methos said calmly.

"No Immortal could survive a nuclear strike, Methos. Not even you!" Kronos made a last desperate attempt to reach the man who faced him, using the one argument he thought might still have some appeal.

"Think I care?" Methos laughed.

No, Kronos, thought, I don't think you care, Methos. About anything, any more.

"I can't let you do this," he said regretfully, drawing his sword. He had already killed one brother that day, and if this was the only way...

Methos raised an eyebrow, slowly, mockingly. "Let me?" he repeated.

I'm better than he is, Kronos  assured himself. He's always been afraid to fight me. And his sword's out of reach. Ignoring the creeping nerves that assailed him, he rushed his quarry, swinging his fearsome killing blade. Methos swayed out of his way like a reed in the wind. Kronos checked, flashed around, blindingly fast, and struck like a cobra. And found his wrist trapped in a terrible grip.

"You don't have a chance against me, Kronos," Methos said coldly. He ignored the other man's struggles as if they were of no moment at all. Desperate, Kronos pulled out the hidden blade he kept for emergencies: and Methos took it away like an adult taking a toy from a troublesome child.

Wide-eyed, Kronos looked up to confront the reality that he had been avoiding for months. He steeled himself and looked into the naked face of Death. It was enough to make even his dark and twisted soul quail. He didn't see the fist coming, and went down cold.


"I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds."

When Kronos awakened, he found himself tied to a chair, facing the screen that took up most of the front wall of the command room. Methos was standing in front of his console, tapping instructions into it.

"You should thank me, brother. I'm giving you a ringside seat to watch the greatest show on earth. I spent years planning this, Kronos. In less than 8 hours, every living thing on the face of this planet, every plant, every human, every animal, on the earth - even the fish living in the deepest oceans - will be annihilated."

"I know what you're thinking, Kronos - why? Because nothing changes, brother. Not in 500 years, not in 5000. When I left you all those years ago, it was because I was tired. Tired of the killing, tired of giving and feeling pain. I wanted to live."

"And I did try. Centuries, watching and waiting. Everywhere I went, death followed. I watched everything I loved die. Mortals died. Immortals died. Civilizations died."

"The endless years rolled by, Kronos, as I waited. Believing that the world would be better, that someday, surely someday, the killing would stop. Instead, mortals always found newer, nastier ways to kill each other. When the Romans razed Carthage to the ground, I was there. When the vandals sacked Rome, I was there."

"I sailed to the New World with Cortez, and watched him wipe out an entire culture. I visited India and saw Aurangazeb slaughter Hindus wholesale.  I witnessed the French Revolution. Did you ever see what cannon could do to a line of advancing men, Kronos? I did. I saw Austerlitz and Waterloo. "

"Never finding the meaning of any of it. The purpose. I became a healer - I tried to fix the broken bodies of the humans dying around me. I patched up their wounds, and sent them out to die again, a day at a time."

"I was in the West when you were rampaging around as Melvin Koren, did you know that? I even rode with Butch and Sundance for a while. After the Somme, I treated men with shell shock. What did they call it then? The war to end all wars."

Methos laughed bitterly at the memory.

"When the Allies liberated Auschwitz, I saw what mortals had done to each other in concentration camps. You were in Vietnam, Kronos. You enjoyed it, I suspect. Always the innocents. Dying and dying and dying. It never stopped, Kronos. Uganda, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Bosnia."

"And my one true muse followed me everywhere. No one was safe, they all died. Every human I ever cared for. Every Immortal that ever meant anything to me. Do you know how Darius died? A mortal cut his head off on Holy Ground. I took great pleasure in killing James Horton - slowly."

"Finally, I grew to understand. I knew. It would never end, unless I ended it. Though you were a great help, brother. I couldn't have done it without you."

The watch on his wrist beeped. "Showtime."

Kronos watched, not understanding, as Methos removed a curious object from a chain around his neck - a strange and beautiful crystal. He placed it carefully on the ground, pulled out a gun, took aim, and shattered it with a single shot. Kronos felt an odd reverberating shock at the base of his own Quickening.

Methos stamped the larger pieces of crystal deliberately into even smaller shards, and then gathered the debris up. He walked to the window and threw the pieces to the winds.

"That brother, was the Methuselah Stone. It gave me the edge I needed to get to this moment alive. But I'm taking no chances now."

He walked back to the console and tapped in a set of rapid commands.

"Everyone has a unique talent, they say. You know what mine is, don't you? Behold my Magnum Opus, Kronos - the End of the World."

Swinging on to the table, he sat down calmly in the lotus position, a beatific smile on his face.

And the screens came alive with the symphony of Death. Terrible and strangely beautiful, the silent images from across the world. Photographed by satellites, man-made machines that felt nothing, the mushroom clouds sprang up like a riot of flowers in a garden that only a demented god could have dreamed. The fires raged and the wild seas rose to swallow entire coastlines.

Kronos realised that the only sound that he could hear was his own voice screaming. He screamed for a long time, until the raging firestorm overtook the building at last.

 "I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds."
-- Robert Oppenheimer, quoting from the Bhagavad Gita on the successful testing of the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos.

The End



1. The title of the story is from "The Hollow Men", by T.S.Eliot:

"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

2. I've assumed for the purpose of this story that Connor killed the Kurgan, but didn't win the Prize in the process. (I assumed that happened before Season 1, so obviously the Game hasn't ended.)

3. Oppenheimer's quote from the Bhagavad Gita - In the original Sanskrit, the word that is rendered as "Death" can also be read as  "Time" or "Fate".

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