The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part VI -- Cats Eyes
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995

Chapter 8

Nick smiled as the sun touched his hand from where he lay on the sofa. It was a soft, gentle touch, rather than a harsh laser. Nat rested against him, hiding the one tear of joy that fell down her eye. So much time and effort, and the key to his release would be from the one who begged his creator to bring him across.

He breathed a sigh of release, "It's been so long. I wondered if it would ever happen."

//That's it. It's time for him to start moving.// Nat reluctantly pulled herself off the sofa -- she was even more tired than he was. The last time she remembered sleeping was a few days ago, and it wasn't really sleep. "Come on. Let's go out."

He seemed almost afraid, then remembered his newly-gained mortality. His face lit up, "All right. What do you want to do?"

That stumped her. They didn't really *do* much. "I don't know."

They were stumped for quite a few moments, until Nat came up with a bright idea, "Let's just go out until we think of something."

That worked for Nick. He grabbed his wallet and left, locking the door after him.

'Just going out' was the best thing that Nick could have done. He had seen Toronto evolve off and on through the last two centuries, but seeing this place during the daytime was like seeing a new city. The streets, buildings, and landmarks he knew so well were totally unfamiliar.

Perhaps he even seemed like a tourist, gawking at the sky, the birds, and even the bums. Nat smiled a little fondly at Nick, as if he were a child. //I think he's finally beat it. I don't know what game Janette is playing, but she made the right mistake.//

* * *

They reached the church -- a smashed, wrecked, and desecrated church. It was the only kind that would do for a vampire.

Tracy opened the door, a trifle cautiously, and called out, "Vachon? Are you here?"

A tired voice called through the darkness. "I'm here. Who do you have with you?" He sounded very wary.

She was hesitant herself, "It's a long story. We needed to talk on neutral ground, and I thought this would be the best place for it."

"Thanks!" came the sarcastic answer. A longer pause. "Bring him in and shut the door after you."

Mulroney smiled a bit at that, shutting the door after him while Tracy led the way to the basement chapel. It was there that Vachon sat, looking not just pale, but bone- white. He had a large bottle of blood next to him, and a lot of blood stains on his chest, all from a single source. He looked very old at the moment.

"What happened to you?" gasped Tracy, blanching.

"Someone tried to kill me!" snarled Vachon. "What do you think happened?" He leaned back, looking up in frustration.

"It was bound to happen," smiled Mulroney.

That's when Vachon noticed him for the first time, standing up with difficulty. "I thought you were dead!"

"You thought right," smiled Mulroney. "You're not seeing things."

"You're not a vampire -- what the hell are you?"

Mulroney looked tiredly at Tracy, "Whatever you do, don't become immortal. You'll be spending all your time explaining to people why it is you didn't die for good after they killed you!"

Vachon looked away, snorting, "Well, whatever you are, you're welcome to stay until nightfall -- then you're out of here!"

"That's fine with me. I'm only here to talk to the good detective on ground of her choosing." He looked back at Tracy, "That brings me to the next subject." He gestured towards some pews.

Tracy nodded, leaving Vachon to heal. He stared into space as if he were on some drug or drunk on alcohol, and didn't pay any more attention to them.

Tracy finally got impatient enough to demand, "All right, now that we're here, why don't you start talking?"

He nodded, "It's not all about the axe, but about you. The one thing that's been on my mind the whole time is why you, a mortal, could be affected by the axe. Do you have any memories of anything unusual happening to you when you were younger? Were you abducted by aliens? Did you have any visions? Psychic powers?" The last three questions were somewhat light in tone, but she could see the seriousness in his eyes.

"No," she shook her head. "I've lived quite an ordinary life, thank you. And I never believed in psychic powers."

He blew out his breath, "That eliminates any New Age theories, thank god... OK... tell me exactly what happened when you picked up the axe."

Tracy forgot about everything that had happened for the last few days as she tried to piece things together. She even forgot that she had tried to kill Mulroney, and even that he had killed a prisoner from solitary confinement. "I found something underneath Nick's desk..."

* * *

The Arctic winds blew across the ice fields, ripping up snow dust as it ran. The solitary man who sat in the opening of the cave didn't pay it any attention. The two white wolves who constantly stayed with him lay on the ground, yawning lazily as they stretched and rolled, the way cats are known to do on warm days. The two ravens were nowhere to be seen.

The man was occupied with the stones that he had tossed to the ground before him. Maybe he found some pattern in them, or maybe not. But it occupied him nonetheless.

His head whipped up suddenly. Something was different. He felt a trembling in the web. It lay to the south.

He stood up, looking into the storm. "It comes. At last. The Gathering."

His spear was always with him, but he now noticed it once more.

* * *

Scully felt a pounding in her brain for the last half-hour as they talked to Krycek -- or Frey, at his insistence. It had begun as a gentle prodding on her temples from the inside, and had escalated to a pounding so horrible that whenever she even thought about moving a muscle, the most powerful waves of pain would hit every particle of her being.

Still, she remained stoic and hid it behind a poker face.

Krycek had left, his face just as inexpressive, once he realized that he wasn't getting anywhere. Well, he'd ruined their morning, so that was something he could put on his list of accomplishments, but that was about it.

Mulder hadn't noticed any cues that she might have been expressing. He was too preoccupied with the puzzle of Krycek. "I just can't figure it out... I think he honestly believes what he's saying, but I just can't buy it."

She laughed, "I thought I'd never hear you say that! And I thought I'd never agree with you on something like this."

He made a face, "Come on, I'm not *that* bad!"

She just smiled, or at least as much as she could. "So, why is it that you don't believe him?"

"He's starting off with the assumption that I buy everything about the Quickening -- everything that the immortals believe. I think we need a lot more data than we have access to before we can make any judgments." He tapped the table, "It may sound sick, but I wish I could wire one of them with sensors when a Quickening happens."

Scully had to laugh at that one, but her laugh was cut off when she clutched her head in pain, moaning.

"What's wrong?" Mulder almost screamed, only two feet away, but unsure about what he should do.

With great effort, Scully looked towards the door, where a single man stood. He was a monk dressed in all white. His face was full of an arrogant smugness as he looked Mulder directly in the eyes, and walked out the door.

Something clicked, and Mulder knew deep down that this man had something to do with whatever was happening to Scully. "Hey, get back here!" He ran to the door, and saw the monk running across the busy street at a full sprint, almost flowing between the speeding cars.

Mulder spat a curse, drew his pistol, and followed him, forgetting about Scully. He created a big disturbance as he ran through the traffic, and was a great deal behind the monk by the time he got across.

There was nobody on the sidewalk, thankfully, as he sprinted down the sidewalk. The monk wasn't out of sight, so Mulder felt some sense that things would turn out all right -- until he turned a corner while he was still a little ways off.

//Damn it!// Mulder tried running faster, but the air started to scrape at his throat, and his legs were screaming at him to stop.

The corner where the monk had turned went into an alley. //Why the alleyways? Why not into a bookstore?//

The alley, when Mulder reached it, turned out to be anything but empty. The monk smiled at Mulder -- he didn't appear to have any strained breathing -- spreading his arms and gesturing at the ten men behind him. All of them had clubs and axes.

Mulder, panicked, yelled, "Drop your weapons!" His gun was held high.

That was the worst mistake he could have ever made, because the club men used those precious moments wisely. A club flew threw the air, solidly smacking him in the head. His gun went off reflexively, shooting two men, but it was a small loss.

Mulder collapsed on the ground, his head hitting the asphalt...

* *

..."Mulder, wake up." The voice was quite familiar, but very soft and subdued.

His head was split in two by a wicked headache. "Hmmm..." He didn't want to get up.

"Come on. We don't have all day."

Mulder opened his eyes, finding Skinner crouched above him, smelling salts in his hand. "What are you doing up here?"

"Saving your sorry ass. Now get up, we don't have much time." He usually spent several minutes of quality time telling Mulder exactly how much of a blockhead he was, but now he didn't seem to have the heart in him. A beard was growing on his face, a face that was always compulsively clean-shaven.

Mulder stood up, noticing for the first time that Skinner was holding a blacksmith's hammer as lightly as if it were a pencil. Blood dripped from it. He looked at Skinner in confusion.

Skinner nodded. "I want you to meet someone."

Mulder saw the bodies lying in the alley, blood flowing from smashed limbs and chests. The monk was absent. "We have to get Scully!"

"That's being taken care of. Come on."

"Who are we going to see?"

"We don't have any more time! Come with me or stay here -- I don't care!"

Skinner stomped off, and after a moment's pause, Mulder followed him out the other end of the alley, where a limo waited for them.

* * * *

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