The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part VI -- Cats Eyes
by Henry Wyckoff
Captain Reece stood at the base of the tall building,
looking uncertainly. He had a single note in his hand,
handwritten, saying, "Meet me at 03:13." It was
signed simply enough: the Mayor.
Normally, he didn't mind meeting important people like the Mayor, but this wasn't a normal night. The riots were lighting up like grass fires out here in the city, and he was needed. He would have blown it off, but the messenger said that it was 'vitally important.'
//Humph. That's pretty odd. Why 3:13 in the morning? Why not a nice number like 3:00 or 3:15?//
That wasn't for him to question. It was only for him to make the appointment.
The lobby lights, he saw as he approached the tinted-glass doors, were on, but there was nobody inside. No guards and no receptionists.
//This better not be some kind of joke!// He was fuming now. He hated hints and he hated stand ups. He sincerely hoped he wouldn't be stood up.
There was a beep, and the front door opened on its own. Reece walked in without a second thought, and heard a computer-voice say to him from all directions, "Welcome, Captain Reece. Please follow the yellow lights to the elevator. Thank you for your cooperation."
He shook his head, following a string of yellow lights that turned on. "The guy's a maniac, that's what he is. The next thing, I bet, he'll be showing me his s-shaped hedges... in the parking garage."
He reached the elevator, and a computer-voice greeted him again. "Please wait for me to reach your level, Captain Reece. Thank you for your cooperation. In the meantime, please enjoy this pre-recorded music."
Reece could understand why the computer emphasized 'please enjoy': it was horrible. The mix of instruments must have been picked randomly. It was a tuba, mandolin, and kazoo, and the lyrics sounded like heavy metal -- something about 'Of Wolf and Man.' It was horrendous.
"I'm sorry," interrupted the computer voice, "but the Mayor wishes me to be honest with you. He wants to keep you in a secure place so that you won't interfere. You will find that all entrances and exits have been sealed, and that an elevator is not coming to pick you up. Please enjoy the music."
True to the computer's word, thick steel slammed shut over every window, door, and hallway. He was trapped with a lunatic computer and music that would drive him insane quite quickly.
* * *
Peter Caine and Heimdall crawled through the manhole, both
stinking like cesspools, but neither one of them paid the
stench any mind.
Caine was swearing up a storm, "Damn it! I sure hope Axer and Kate are having better luck than we are!"
"I imagine they're doing OK. for now, but we don't know if it'll stay that way. Let's try the front door and see if we can make things better for them. Who knows... they might need a diversion..."
Caine nodded and made a straight line for the front door.
They were in for the shock of their lives when they discovered that all the entrances were blocked by steel from the inside -- but there were no alarms.
"I don't remember this," muttered Caine.
"Neither do I," nodded Heimdall.
"Do you think they've been caught?"
"You can count on it."
"Then we need the big guns. I'm calling Kermit." Caine pulled out his cellular phone and pressed mem-3. A phone soon rang on the other end.
A very drowsy Kermit answered. "This better be good."
"Kermit, it's Peter."
A moment of hesitation. "Something's wrong, and you need help." It was a flat tone.
"Yeah, Kermit. I think a plan of mine backfired. Axer and Kate are trapped in the Mayor's skyscraper, and he's got the whole place sealed up with steel plates. Even the sewer's closed up."
Another pause. "You really went in deep, didn't you? Hang tight -- I'll be there in ten minutes. You need any backup?"
By backup, he meant firepower. "Just what you need to get past the steel walls. Oh -- and I think I might need a giant-killer."
"How about an automatic cannon?"
A straight-faced tone. "I'll see what I can do."
Kermit hung up.
* * *
Surtur paced back and forth. "It looks like everyone is
after me. Captain Reece is convinced that I'm some sort of
lunatic -- I wonder who told him that? An intruder has
apparently used his cellular phone, I assume to call backup
now that the outside is sealed."
"How did you know that?" Axer's tone was one of curiosity.
"I have an extensive network of sensors here. An alarm just went off, telling me that a cellular phone was activated for a minute. I can also switch to the appropriate monitors, and they tell me..." he was shocked by what he saw, "...that Detective Peter Caine and a man who is very familiar to me are waiting outside. That's Heimdall, isn't it?" Surtur looked at Axer and Kate.
"Yes," nodded Axer. "That is Heimdall -- the selfsame Heimdall that you met at Ragnarok."
Surtur nodded glumly, "And so the circle closes once more, and we find ourselves at the same place we swore we would never stand in again. Has he come here to kill me?"
Kate stared Surtur in the eyes, "We came here because Powys let it be known that you were trying to destroy the city at the very least. You brought this on yourself!"
"Did I?" he was yelling now. "DID I? HOW MUCH DID I TRULY BRING ON MYSELF, VAMPIRE?" He forced himself to calm down. "For the last few centuries, we hung on to dear life, but it is this century which is the most trying. We are almost extinct, and I will not make sure that we do become extinct. We have every right to defend ourselves! You, vampire, should understand that!"
Kate said nothing.
Axer leaned back in his chair, "So tell me, Surtur. What will you do? Do you truly intend to destroy the city?"
Surtur nodded. "I do."
"Let me guess your intentions. You will use a very destructive weapon -- perhaps a nuclear missile -- to destroy Toronto and make it look like another power with a borderline reputation did it. It doesn't matter whether it's blamed on the United States or on the Russians, because everything is so tense anyway. So, you start a domino effect that results in destruction everywhere. Everything is in disarray, but that's perfect for you and your kind, because you can forge a place for yourselves in that world. You'll use fear, just as you did in Viking Scandinavia. But unlike the old days, you'll be using real force, and not just illusions."
Surtur was staring at him with shock. "How did you find out?"
"I didn't. I guessed, and now I know." That wasn't quite the truth, but it wasn't a lie either. "But answer me this. Is there anything I can say to make you change your mind?"
"No. You can convince me to spare your lives, because you aren't quite human -- my quarrel is not with you -- but you cannot convince me to stop."
"I see," said Axer, standing up. "Do you realize what you're forcing me to do?" His eyes were filled with pain, but they were also full of steel.
"What is that?" Surtur was tense.
"I'm going to have to kill you. I imagine your blood is as red as mine."
"Why are you going so far to save these red killers? Apparently you have walked this land as long as I have. You've seen what they've done, what they do, and what they are capable of doing. They will destroy this world at the current pace, so why not join me? This land will be a wasteland for years, but when it heals, it will be like what it once was!"
"No," frowned Axer. "Life goes in only one direction. We can never go back. You should know that." He drew his glaive. "I'm sorry. I really don't want to do this."
"You're too late," smiled Surtur. "It has already begun!"
"Maybe, but that doesn't mean it's too late." He flicked the glaive into Surtur's chest, plunging through the heart.
Surtur screamed in agony as the blade entered and was yanked out viciously. He fell to his knees and screamed out, "You can't stop it! This vicious disease *will* be cut away!"
A solid boot to the face sent him to the floor.
Kate was shocked by all this. Maybe she would have done the same, in her own way, but it seemed so uncharacteristic of Axer to behave in this manner. She stared at him with a frown of disapproval.
He snapped at her, "What the hell should I have done -- give him flowers and a pat on the back?! Now help me to find a phone!"
There wasn't much Kate could say right now, but she'd have a hell of a lot to say later. The phone wasn't too far away, but when Axer picked it up, he didn't get a dialtone. "Damn it!" he slammed the phone down on the table.
Kate shook her head in disgust, "This is an office phone -- there *isn't* a dialtone unless you dial '9' first. See?" There was a dialtone now.
A few moments later, Axer was connected to the Toronto Police Station, and then connected to Detective Tracy Vetter, who was apparently en route to someplace. If he was in the States, he'd know who to call, but since this was Canada, and things ran differently, he had no idea who he'd call first for a situation like this.
Axer explained to a distracted Tracy what the deal was. When he was done, she was no longer distracted, but was rather quite freaked. "WHAT?!?!" He thought he could hear the sound of squealing tires and a male's yelp of shock in the background.
It was a good thing that he'd called Tracy, he realized, because not only did she know who to call, but she also knew enough of the right people to make the message go through the chain of command quite faster than if he'd done it himself.
Axer hung up and looked at Kate with a resigned expression, "Tracy has the warning covered, so all we have to do is wait."
They heard some groaning over from where Surtur lay. Apparently he had some good genes -- his wounds were slowly closing. Kate looked at Axer.
"Let him go. He's no longer a threat -- and if he becomes one again, we'll deal with it."
"But what if we can't stop it next time?" Kate stared at him, daring him to say what he really wanted to say.
"I don't know!" Axer slammed his hand into the wall. "I was like him once! LaCroix can tell you how many Romans I killed before his very eyes! The only difference was that I didn't have access to nuclear material -- but I used what I had! How can I judge him for trying to keep his people from being slaughtered?!"
"Do you realize what you sound like? You've crossed the fence five times tonight. Which side are you on?"
"I don't know! I don't want to know!" But his decision was made. He walked over to Surtur and grabbed his head by the hair. The Jotun's eyes were open with awareness. Axer's eyes were narrowed as he whispered, "I spare your life. If you want to defend your people, you do it with a sword or a gun -- or diplomacy to clear out some land for your people -- but if you use a nuclear bomb or try to trick the world into going to war with itself again, I *will* kill you. Do I make myself clear?"
Kate shook her head as he dropped Surtur's head onto the hard floor. She remained silent, figuring that she'd be able to pound some sense into his head when he was in a mood to listen. Now just wasn't the time.
* * *
Reece was pounding on the walls. "Heeelllppp!!"
The music playing on the loudspeakers had progressively gotten worse and worse. It was now Van Halen music, only the lead guitar was a lead kazoo.
A small explosion knocked Reece to his feet. When the smoke cleared, he saw two cops that he knew only too well. Cops from another precinct -- Detectives Peter Caine and Kermit Griffin, the token enigma of the police department. The third to pass through was Heimdall, the guy that Nick and Tracy had brought in for questioning during the Black Box murders.
Before they could ask any questions, he pleaded with them, "Shoot that speaker! Please!" Kermit listened to a few bars of music and nodded, pulling out his oversized pistol, blasting it to bits. The music stopped, and Reece leaned against the wall with relief. "We have a problem here..."
Heimdall nodded, looking around, "You don't need to tell us."
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