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  • Are all Immortals foundlings?

    I can't resist posting some thoughts (because I had a new one today).

    First, some of the theories used in fan fiction...

    I have notes about theories by two other authors, though I've never read their fics, and don't recall even the authors' names.

    One was extreme fantasy: Every so often, a female Immortal feels a "compulsion" to mate with a male Immortal. From his point of view, they've just had great sex. But wthin a few hours, the female Immortal bears a pre-Immortal infant...acts on a new "compulsion" to abandon it...and then forgets the whole thing.

    The second was less fantastic...quite interesting, IMHO! A fetus becomes pre-Immortal if the already pregnant woman has sex with a male Immortal during her first trimester. (But unless there was more to it than I heard, it doesn't explain the infants' becoming foundlings.)

    I've used another possibility. I'm not going to give too many "spoilers" for my fiction! But here's the basic idea. Male Immortals (only males) are fertile...but on such rare occasions that most of them never realize it. (They don't feel any unnatural "compulsion" to mate at those times.) Often, they're so sure they're sterile that they'll walk out on a woman who tries to convince them she's carrying their child. The infants are always pre-Immortal; and the mothers always die after giving birth. So many of those infants are, understandably, given away. In cases where the fathers are still in the picture, they usually won't risk keeping the infants with them. In our era, the few Immortals who understand this believe they're all descended from a long-ago ancestor who was the product of a mutation. (Not possibly Methos: in this fan-fiction universe, he's recovered some fragmentary memories, and knows there once were Immortals older than he.)

    Here's the idea I just thought of.

    I recently learned from a scholar I admire that thousands of years ago, unwanted infants were routinely abandoned - just left exposed to the elements, with the expectation they'd die. The scholar believes even early Christians did that. So perhaps we can say every pre-Immortal was the result of a mutation - the same type of mutation taking place again and again, with both parents being "normal." Giving birth to the "mutant" would always cause the mothers to die, with the infants - somewhat understandably - being abandoned. But they'd be more hardy than other "exposed" infants, and would survive until someone found them alive and took pity on them.

    That certainly couldn't happen in our day, but it could account for there being a widely-accepted myth that all Immortals were foundlings. (While present-day pre-Immortal infants probably would be given up for adoption, because their mothers had died.)

    Others' thoughts?
    Last edited by Wilusa; 09-02-2017, 03:11 PM.

  • #2
    I'm unsure but I thought either Methos or Ramírez was known to have brothers? So although most are foundlings it's not true for all?
    May flights of Demons guide you to your final rest...

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    • #3
      [QUOTE=Wilusa;n4974]I

      I've used another possibility. I'm not going to give too many "spoilers" for my fiction! But here's the basic idea. Male Immortals (only males) are fertile...but on such rare occasions that most of them never realize it. (They don't feel any unnatural "compulsion" to mate at those times.) Often, they're so sure they're sterile that they'll walk out on a woman who tries to convince them she's carrying their child. The infants are always pre-Immortal; and the mothers always die after giving birth. So many of those infants are, understandably, given away. In cases where the fathers are still in the picture, they usually won't risk keeping the infants with them.

      QUOTE]

      Developped by author Sylvia Volk in some of her stories. And that long-lived males, at least 500 years old who are intense players of the Game. Female Immortals can carry children if they come of age, i.e have taken enough heads in thousands of years to breed children of their own. They call it the secret Game. Only ancient Immortals know of it.

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      • #4
        They come from Zeist, carried to earth by lightning. The lightning reappears later in the form of quickenings.

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        • #5
          I tend to have a gut reaction of outraged anger to assertions that only male Immortals can be fertile. I am aware that it is more scientific. Another writer had a Stargate crossover, where the male Immortals over 2,000 beget, essentially, zygotes who take on a phenotype from the surrogate mothers. Fault: There is no reason whatsoever for there to be female Immortals, or for those to be sterile. I suggested to the author that perhaps a late discovery that the females are the same as the males. They produce an egg that can be implanted in a surrogate mother. The complication of course being that the delivery system will take more work as they don't have the same genitals.

          I also have a pained objection to the idea that all of the women die at the birth of the child, who is then nearly always abandoned by the woman's family/husband/the sire, so that hardly anyone knows they actually do have parents. In the modern world particularly you'd have to come up with some pretty fancy footwork to explain why no one's caught on!

          Gardner and Sylvia's idea is pretty good, and I recall that you also have the variation that male Immortals periodically leave behind pregnant women who wither away with the birth of their child. And that female Immortals of age can cross with a mortal, but that same process will kill the father. That was a neat touch, and balanced.

          Then there was Eng's Chaos Chronicles. Oh, that was a fun one.

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          • #6
            I assumed that they are all foundlings whether they were told that or not. To my mind, using a Gnostic concept, is that all immortals carry a spark of a non-corporeal entity which has split itself apart and is experiencing our world via the immortals and the game is this entity's way of reassembling itself with the knowledge they have gathered. "I know everything. I am everything." The prize is the completion of its task.

            Of course, being foundlings, we're still left with where did they come from.

            When he was very much younger, my nephew patiently explained to me where babies come from. It seems that storks bring them...and then stuff them into their mothers. Oh the horror.

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            • #7
              Smart child, your nephew. I like that idea, too.

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              • Saber Dog
                Saber Dog commented
                Editing a comment
                He is. He just graduated as an electrical engineer and had a job lined up before he did so.

            • #8
              I was trying, of course, to come up with plausible ways Immortals could reproduce, that would be consistent with there being a tradition that all of them are foundlings (even if that isn't always, exactly, true). I certainly don't think mortal mothers' dying is desirable. But with that being the case (and if the father was Immortal, his no longer being around), the woman's family could plausibly have bad feelings about the infant, and choose to give it away. Or worse.

              I really can't see Immortal females bearing children.

              Assuming we're not going into the realm of fantasy (or science inconsistent with what we know about Immortals in this era): men can procreate without knowing it; women can't. If Immortal women were bearing children - all of them knowing it, and being as visibly pregnant as other women - it couldn't possibly have been kept secret.

              And there's another problem with the idea of their being fertile. Take, for example, Amanda. She's 1200 years old. Can anyone imagine a woman enduring monthly periods for 1200 years? As recently as a century ago, they were much harder to deal with than they are now!
              Last edited by Wilusa; 09-05-2017, 10:17 AM.

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              • #9
                Originally posted by Wilusa View Post
                And there's another problem with the idea of their being fertile. Take, for example, Amanda. She's 1200 years old. Can anyone imagine a woman enduring monthly periods for 1200 years? As recently as a century ago, they were much harder to deal with than they are now!
                Should we assume that immortal semen is pure fructose*, then? I mean, if women can't produce eggs, then men shouldn't produce sperm.

                *"The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!"
                __________________________________________________

                "Really? We are trapped in a room with a machine that can cut off my head. Now that's a longshot."
                --Connor MacLeod in Peter Bellwood's original Highlander II script

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                • #10
                  A further thought: The idea of all Immortals' being descended from a common ancestor, with males occasionally fathering offspring, can be used to "explain" the resemblance between the two Immortals played by Anthony De Longis...and the two (one in "Raven") played by Valentine Pelka.

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                  • #11
                    Well, yes and no. I mean, there are people all over the world who look like they might be twins, or even siblings. However, for the storyline we know that, to Duncan, these Immortals don't resemble each other enough to trigger flashbacks. I sometimes say, "Two arms, two legs, one head. They all look alike." (Not about Highlander characters, more people in general.) There is also the variation that someone out there is having/creating baby Immortals and dropping them randomly here and there, and there, and here. They're not fertile because they are immortal. The males don't produce sperm. The females can't get pregnant.

                    Any time I think of it as someone is there, knows exactly where the baby came from, and there's a corpse of a mother left behind, I can't bring myself to suspend disbelief in the area of "no one knows where the babies come from."

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                    • #12
                      I've never given most of this much thought before, but you've got me thinking about it now. I figure that they are just infertile like some hybrid animals, like mules. In doing some research, the reason for a mule's infertility, except for some circumstances, is do to a different number of chromosomes. If an immortal left blood behind at the scene of a crime or if a body were checked and there was a different number of chromosomes from a normal human the poop would hit the fan. So it might be very different. I would imagine that other than being infertile, they function normally because if they didn't it would attract medical attention. Especially female pre-immortals, unless they function as mortal humans before their first death in which case there could be reproduction.

                      Reproducing immortals would be a huge plot problem. If their children are also immortal, then mortal humans would be edged out by evolution. If their children are mortal, how do you deal with the children aging normally while at least one parent doesn't?

                      If you hold with my theory of what the quickening is, then there are a finite number of immortals. They may start at various points in history, but each is one of a finite set.

                      But let's try this - female pre-immortals are fertile. Their offspring are also pre-immortals. They are stolen by an organization who can identify them, for some reasons we don't fully know, and relocated as a foundling to become part of a mortal family. Perhaps it is to allow fate to take its course either to a normal death or to a violent death triggering immortality. Perhaps it is to protect the mother, should she become immortal, from having to leave her child to hide what she is or be tempted to give her child a violent death. Unless the Watchers have a very different composition and purpose from what we've been told, they would not be able to identify the children of pre-immortals and would not interfere if they could. Perhaps there is a third group, let's call the Shepherds, who are able to identify baby pre-immortals and transplant them. This opens up a number of interesting plot lines. Are the immortals even aware that this is going on? The organization would need to be extremely old and widespread as well as highly secretive.

                      Another possibility, which ignores the foundling concept, is that maybe very old immortals can implant a quickening in an infant by giving it one of the ones they had taken. I thought about a fan-fiction which I never wrote in which there is an infant that isn't expected to live. Methos decides to help, goes into the nursery, places his hand on the infant and there is a quickening. As he's leaving, he runs into Kyra who realizes the infant is now a pre-imortal and asks how and why. Methos says that only the oldest immortal can do it. He shrugs off the why question but says "I did the same for you three thousand years ago" and walks away as doctors are astounded that the dying infant is rapidly improving. It is sort of a vampire like thing though which I didn't like.

                      But getting back to the question, perhaps the foundling don't become pre-immortal until after they are already foundlings. Perhaps there are a few ancient female immortals that bestow a quickening upon babies that have been left for various reasons by mortal mothers. These female immortals can't take the babies, but in a way they reproduce themselves by giving the baby a quickening and some deep knowledge of themselves. I like the idea that this is done by ancient female immortals. They feel a need to do this with foundlings because they need more and are more accessible without observation than a new baby who has a family. Perhaps it is a secret known only to ancient female immortals who have sufficient quickenings and occasionally need to induct a new member. Should be some plot lines there.

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                      • #13
                        Neat! Though again it gets awfully complicated if these pre-Immortal mothers don't somehow lose any memory of having been pregnant, and everyone around them similarly doesn't know they're pregnant.

                        I did encounter one tale that involved Methos falling in love with a woman, only to have her tell him she's pregnant probably from getting raped while under the influence of some drug, as all she remembers is a flare of light. Only to then find out that she's carrying a pre-Immortal. Let's see... an implication that she feels the need to get away from all who know her, and then at the birth her body is destroyed in another flare of light. Methos has some choice words about whatever it is that impregnates women and leaves them to die.

                        That wasn't a bad one, as such. I still have my core outrage that the mothers die. Women pregnant with an Immortal feel compelled to get away from anyone they know, so the baby always shows up far from the last known place of that particular pregnant woman. In the modern world, easily able to be the opposite side of the planet.

                        Saber Dog, I was thinking of writing a tale where Duncan (or Methos, or someone) finds Grace on his doorstop with a pair of Immortals who met their first deaths at age 16, and a tale of an evil Immortal who seeks out young Immortals, makes them tell him their pre-Immortal history, goes to where they came from: Tracks down rumors of women who might have been pregnant around about the right time and whose babies are unaccounted for, and then kidnaps anyone young enough to bear in the same family (the rumored women too, if available) and whichever male has a chance of having been the father of the vanished infant.

                        So he maintains a village of people he hopes might possibly bear Immortals. He takes every newborn, isolates and leaves them exposed long enough that they should be dead. Any baby that happens to survive, he returns to its parents and monitors. So the theory of the story is that out of hundreds of babies, this has actually given him a minimum of two successes. Though it doesn't take too long in each generation for the villagers to revolt, to a degree that he often has to kill them all and start gathering another batch. These two escaped the island, found Grace (oh why not?) and seek help to put an end to the fiend!

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                        • #14
                          If the Source is mainly electrical I could imagine that maybe some children get struck by lightning, so maybe they start off as normal foundlings but because of unique circumstances become pre-immortal. Maybe abandoning kids was a ritualised happening which could explain why there seem to be more in the past than in the modern day.
                          May flights of Demons guide you to your final rest...

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                          • #15
                            Our modern sensibilities would be happier with abandonment causing immortality, yes. (Instead of the reverse.)

                            I understand that in ancient Rome there was a way, culturally, to deal with an unwanted/unsupportable newborn- there was a specific spot in the marketplace to leave them. The first flickers of modern 'safe place' drop-off spots. (& back then, when debt slaves were common, there were dirtbag futures speculators who would take the girls and pay to have them nursed, then sell them as prostitutes.)

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                            • #16
                              I don't think the mothers need to die or lose their memories in order for pre immortal babies to be relocated.

                              I also don't think the foundling thing is crucial either. Most of them end up as part of a family anyway.

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                              • #17
                                Eh... operationally, the Foundling thing is crucial. As in, someone found a baby and said "Looks good. I'll raise this one as my own."

                                Yeah, there was another variant where, again, only very old Immortals (1,000 years or so) are fertile. The numbers are dwindling and someone has decided that Duncan MacLeod must be eliminated, because he keeps killing breeders. There was an almost funny interaction between Methos and Ceirdwyn where she yells at him that he's killed her children and he counters that they had to be somebody's. Suffice to say, it wasn't the women who were after Duncan.

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                                • #18
                                  It is only the foundling part that i don't see as crucial. Not having immortals raising baby immortals is crucial. Not having immortals as a as a breeding population is crucial. I don't have a problem with random babies being immortal.

                                  Duncan killing too many "breeders" is hilarious.

                                  Given Duncan's attitude toward women immortals, they would be the most dangerous for him. The most dangerous would be Grace. She drugs him, ties him up, calmly apologizes explaining he's killing too many "breeders", opens her bag and gets out her bone saw... Duncan: "Grace... What are you doing Grace? What are you doing with that saw?" Grace: "Hold still. I'll be quick." Duncan: "GRACE??!!" Grace gets out a marker and puts a dotted line around Duncan's neck.

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                                  • #19
                                    Originally posted by Saber Dog View Post
                                    Duncan killing too many "breeders" is hilarious.

                                    Given Duncan's attitude toward women immortals, they would be the most dangerous for him. The most dangerous would be Grace. She drugs him, ties him up, calmly apologizes explaining he's killing too many "breeders", opens her bag and gets out her bone saw... Duncan: "Grace... What are you doing Grace? What are you doing with that saw?" Grace: "Hold still. I'll be quick." Duncan: "GRACE??!!" Grace gets out a marker and puts a dotted line around Duncan's neck.
                                     Hahahah. Again, it wasn't the women who were bothered by Methos killing breeders. Turned out particularly to be an older male Immortal who was trying to breed his own army. It came to Methos' attention that rather quite a few of the younger Immortals he was running across were this guy's.

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                                    • #20
                                      A friend of mine told me once an immortal origin, the author was Coyote hush ( I dont know who is) a preimmortal when is born... its quickening desintegrates the mother...that's why immortals are foundlings... I dont know how true is that theory...but I like it

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                                      • #21
                                        Perhaps the parents of a gestating pre-immortal always run away together, and both are disintegrated with the birth of the baby. I like that better. Thus the baby is born far away from those who knew its parents, and there aren't any parents to be found. This happens very rarely, because for two people who carry the necessary genes to come together wouldn't happen often. And, after all, the full compliment of genes is not coming back into the mortal population.

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                                        • #22
                                          Nice theory, Maybe the newborn immortal absorbs their parents essence?

                                          Also that would leave the (im)possibility of immortal twins...
                                          May flights of Demons guide you to your final rest...

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                                          • #23
                                            Oh yeah! Twins, identical or fraternal. That could be possible. Or they might die, not having enough power from only two parents. Or one would absorb the other and THAT could be an interesting complication. Or not.

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                                            • #24
                                              Here's my take on it, which is part of a still unfinished story I've been planning/working on for a while:

                                              The short and sweet of it is that the foundlings are a creation of the Quickening itself. The Quickening is the power of life, which is why it fuels immortality, and is also why it can create new life. I imagine that the Quickening energy, which is spread across the globe, had gradually pooled together in certain areas. These areas are what we think of as holy ground; the energy of the Quickening is the reason why ancients felt that they were in a sacred place and built their places of worship on top of it.

                                              The concentrated pools of Quickening permeating the holy ground occasionally spawn a child when it interacts with DNA of human bodies buried in the soil. This would explain why so many "abandoned" babies seem to be left at churches, convents and so on. Sure, some of them are actually abandoned by their parents but the immortal foundlings were actually materialized there. Not all foundlings start at one of these places but that's because not every single "source" of energy has a structure built on it, hence those found in the wild. Because these foundlings are derived from the DNA of people in the area accounts for why they would (typically) have the same racial/ethnic features of people from that region.

                                              There are a lot more details of what is going on and why but that's not what this thread's topic is about.

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                                              • #25
                                                Originally posted by n107 View Post
                                                Here's my take on it, which is part of a still unfinished story I've been planning/working on for a while:

                                                The short and sweet of it is that the foundlings are a creation of the Quickening itself. The Quickening is the power of life, which is why it fuels immortality, and is also why it can create new life. I imagine that the Quickening energy, which is spread across the globe, had gradually pooled together in certain areas. These areas are what we think of as holy ground; the energy of the Quickening is the reason why ancients felt that they were in a sacred place and built their places of worship on top of it.

                                                The concentrated pools of Quickening permeating the holy ground occasionally spawn a child when it interacts with DNA of human bodies buried in the soil. This would explain why so many "abandoned" babies seem to be left at churches, convents and so on. Sure, some of them are actually abandoned by their parents but the immortal foundlings were actually materialized there. Not all foundlings start at one of these places but that's because not every single "source" of energy has a structure built on it, hence those found in the wild. Because these foundlings are derived from the DNA of people in the area accounts for why they would (typically) have the same racial/ethnic features of people from that region.

                                                There are a lot more details of what is going on and why but that's not what this thread's topic is about.
                                                I like that. And no one has to die for an Immortal to come into existence. Almost as though it could be magic, and things such as the Methuselah Stone exist.

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