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

Chapter 26

Tracy hung up her cellular phone, and screamed so loud that Vachon had to hold his hands over his ears. He had heard every single word that Axer'd told her, but he also understood human nature. "What did he tell you? Bad news?"

"We have a *really* big problem. I couldn't catch all of what Axer was telling me -- but I could catch that he's locked up in the Mayor's skyscraper and that the Mayor is going to use a nuclear missile to destroy Toronto..."

They were still en route to the Raven, where Tracy figured they could get some current information of LaCroix' whereabouts, but in the meantime, telling Vachon what happened calmed her down enough to make some of the right calls -- to her father and a friend of her father's. They would handle it from there, which lifted an unbelievable amount of stress from her shoulders.

It amazed Vachon at how much her father seemed to trust Tracy. After all these months of trying to 'prove' herself, it was quite apparent from the outside that she already had that trust she wanted so badly, and that her continual efforts only served to preserve it. She didn't even know she had that trust, which was the sad part of it all.

* * *

Schanke smiled impudently at LaCroix. "You're an idiot, LaCroix. I'd have expected better of you."

At this moment, Schanke was tied securely to a rack with his arms spread apart. LaCroix' face was just two inches from Schanke's, "I am a patient man, but even my patience can be spread too thin. I will give you one more chance to tell me what I need to know!"

"No deal."

"There's more than one way to gain information."

LaCroix bit into Schanke's neck, and began to drink deeply.

Schanke began singing, 'Love Me Tender, Love Me True,' until he lost consciousness from blood loss.

* * *

They reached the Raven, and though it was pretty calm when looking through the front windows -- which had been replaced after the riots in a matter of hours -- Vachon tensed up.

"What's the matter?" asked Tracy, genuine concern in her face, even with all of the recent happenings.

"Something's wrong. Come on!"

They both ran inside. To Tracy, it looked like a regular business evening, but to Vachon, it looked like everyone was shaken up. Vachon rushed to the bartender, "Where did he go?"

The bartender didn't play any games, "He went to the back room with a customer." He sneered when he said 'customer'.

Vachon nodded and rushed towards the back. None of the bouncers tried to stop him or Tracy. He stopped then, in a moment of thought, and grabbed a vampire bouncer by the shoulder. The bouncer looked a bit enraged, and was about to teach this young pup a lesson in manners, but stopped cold when he saw the look in Vachon's eyes.

"Show me where LaCroix went," he growled.

The bouncer blinked, then nodded. Not even aware he did so, he led the way at a run. They ran to the far back of the place. The bouncer stopped at the right door, and Vachon kicked it in.

They found a dead Schanke. He was dead for good this time - - his head was separated from his body. LaCroix was slumped against a metal rack, holding on as if he were going to fall down a great height if he let go. His eyes were closed and his face was nearly folded in tension. He wasn't screaming, but he might as well be screaming for all the pain he was going through.

Vachon and Tracy looked at one another. They knew what this meant. The bouncer, shaking his head in confusion, went back to the bar, "I'll let you two deal with this..."

Vachon barred Tracy from the room with a held-out arm, "I think you should stay back."

She ducked under the arm and made her way in, "In your dreams!"

Vachon muttered something about 'children', but didn't try to throw her out.

Tracy knelt by LaCroix' side. She knew what he was, and though she detested such an evil man -- an evil man honest about his world view -- she felt some sense of pity for the pain he was going through. She could feel compassion for anyone going through excruciating agony. "Are you all right?"

LaCroix stared at her weakly, but managed to speak. "I am now." He fought to control his features, and eventually did so. He stood up and walked over to the door, closing it. "I believe I have more answers now. It never occurred to me until now that I could gather knowledge by sitting back and drinking blood."

Vachon raised a point, "But it only lasts for a few hours, doesn't it?"

"Only skills -- not knowledge." He sat down, breathing heavily, rubbing his face wearily. "I know now what I've been searching for."

"And what would that be?"

"Knowledge of the Invisible Ones... I think I understand them."

Intrigued, Vachon and Tracy pulled up chairs. Vachon, who had just recently been told about the Invisible Ones, asked, "What's this big deal about the Invisible Ones? Are they some cult?"

LaCroix looked exasperated, and Tracy sighed, "I suppose we have to give you a little bit of an introduction..."

* * *

"'Everything' is a very general word," said Halscombe, flinching a little when Scully's gun hand tensed.

"Then I'll make it less general. What is *your* plan?"

"*My* plan *was* to help the Invisible Ones with *their* plan. If I did well enough, they promised to treat me well." His eyes gained some backbone, "You see, I learned early in life that it's better to be a corrupt, well-off, and living scoundrel than it is to be a noble, dying, or dead hero. When I learned about the Invisible Ones, I knew that I'd have to give them my heart and soul, and even now, I don't regret it."

"Even now?" Scully's eyebrow raised. "What is *their* plan?"

"I'm surprised you didn't know already," he shook his head. "Or maybe you did, and you didn't believe it. You want a *scientific* explanation. Well, here it is: the Invisible Ones want to rule the world." When Scully's eyebrow threatened to raise again, he snapped, "Not like in the movies! They want to control the very laws of probability - - to keep us within an unresolved state, if you remember those physics classes you took at the university."

Scully involuntarily shook her head, "It *can't* be like that! There's got to be more to it! Why the abductions? Why the experiments? Why all the other mayhem? It doesn't make sense!"

Halscombe smiled cynically, "Who says that it has to make sense? Who says that everything we did was all part of the same plan? Some of the abductions were used to fuel genetic experiments carried on by the German and Japanese scientists under our employment. Some of our actions were taken simply as diversions to keep the nosy from the truth. Some actions were taken to manage threats to national security that the general populace could not know, if it was to maintain its overall contentment with life."

"So you're saying then that there were a lot of games going on?"

"You've known that all along, haven't you? Mulder tried to lump everything to a single conspiracy, but there were many conspiracies, and a lot of it fueled by greed of one form or another."

Scully's head was spinning. There were so many clues... so many voices in her head that she couldn't hear, but knew were there. The answers were on her fingertips, but she couldn't reach them. A lot of memories flooded back from the Landing episode. "What good would it do the Invisible Ones to 'control probability?'"

Samantha spoke. "Why do scientists want to find every element of the periodic table? Why do climbers risk their lives to climb mountains? Because it *can* be done, and we were capable of doing it. Think about the great things that could happen if we could send out explorers capable of going to alternate times and places. We could create *maps* of time and space that are much closer to reality. Isn't this a goal that *you* would want to see?"

"Frankly, I don't think so." That response was automatic, even though she had never really thought about it before. "If you had such a pioneering spirit, you'd be doing the exploring yourself."

"But we *can't*! We wouldn't be able to survive it! Why else do you think Odin went insane? He was *trained* for it, and he's *still* insane, even after several 'reincarnations'! The only way we could explore the other worlds is to create a race capable of doing so!" The arrogant sneer was gone. It seemed as if she was actually trying to appeal to Scully's reason. "Tell me why it should *not* be so! Why *shouldn't* we exploit your *natural* traits and *amplify* them?"

"If anything of what you and the others have told me are true, then you're all arrogant bastards!" Scully's voice rose a notch in pitch and volume. "What gives you the right to amplify human suffering, to *manipulate* us? We're living, feeling, thinking people! You never asked us if we wanted to participate in your experiment! You never asked us if we'd mind world wars and riots, mass abductions, experiments, and all the horror we've been experiencing!"

Samantha shook her head. "You're living in an ideal world! What do you say about the millions of animals and tortured and killed for testing of commercial products and medical research? You yourself take advantage of it all, and you would argue that it's all necessary for the advancement of knowledge and safety! How is this any different? We're utilizing resources that would otherwise go to waste!

"Your kind would kill one another anyway! Before we shaped your race, you were all savages! You were *lower* than animals! Consider the benefits that you take for granted, that you until recently believed were the products of chance! Consider the fact that you can make choices about your life that were unheard of even a generation ago! If you'd been born in the days before we manipulated your race, you would be gathering grubs and roots, and would most likely be raped every time you turned around!"

Scully aimed the gun at Samantha. "You're worse than arrogant. You're unfeeling."

"You have your feelings and sensibilities because of our work."

Scully lowered her gun. She did have a lot to think about.

* * *

The raging mob reached Skinner. Even though the Odinssons were fighting the Tyrssons, the destruction seemed to be indiscriminate. Buildings were looted and destroyed, and any innocents caught at the wrong place and the wrong time were killed by members of both groups.

It was a mass of Odinssons who charged at Skinner, unaware of who or what they faced. That didn't matter much, since Skinner didn't know either.

Time seemed to slow down more and more as they approached, and Skinner could feel his heart beat stronger and stronger. Inch by inch the mob approached, and he could see details of faces, clothes, and shoes.

That's when the realization hit Skinner: //What the hell am I doing here?//

That realization didn't dispel his fearlessness, but it did dispel the feeling that he was somehow being shaped. The memories and feelings were gone. For the first time in years, he felt like himself. He was Skinner, and not some lunatic -- and it was the most significant realization he could ever come to.

Time snapped back into 'normal', and he found himself in the middle of a rush of mad humanity. The reflexes that kept him alive weren't spontaneous anymore, the reflexes that he suspected came from the hammer -- they were the reflexes he were used to, the reflexes he'd developed with pain and sweat during Vietnam.

Skinner was himself again, but a weak thought in the back of his mind asked why all this had to happen at the most inconvenient moment.

* * * *

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