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


Author's Notes:

Rather than bore you all with a single list of "I'd like to thank" speeches, I'll bore you with a broken up list of the same speeches.

This speech is dedicated to MonicaPDX2@aol.com, whom we all know as Monica! (Hmm... I wonder why?) I'd like to thank her for the extensive beta reading she did for Parts 2, 3, and part of Part 4. And let's not forget chapter 31 of Cats Eyes! Then she got hit by other obligations, and I found myself scrambling for another beta reader -- but none can compare to Monica, and her cheery and wacky verboseness!

6 n

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Chapter 33

Mulder and Scully were reunited with a twirling hug. A hug which turned into an embarrassed, red-faced shuffle.

"Scully?" Mulder almost whispered. "I want to go home. Now."

"What happened?" she asked.

"Skinner and a dozen dwarves."

Scully looked at Mulder oddly. "It sounds like a tape you'd get from the adult store!"

He shook his head. "Was that supposed to be funny?" He wasn't laughing.

They walked a little longer. "How's Skinner?"

"He left on his own. Said he wanted to see someone, and he'd meet us in his office first thing on Monday morning."

Scully shook her head this time, "Why am I not surprised? Who is he going to see?"

"I don't know... But I know we'd better catch that jet out of here pretty fast!"

* * *

Skinner met Mr. X in a deserted alleyway. There were no prior contacts or arrangements to meet. It just happened.

Mr. X stood with his arrogant paranoia. Skinner stood in a relaxed confidence.

"What do you want?" asked Mr. X.

"You." The cane he leaned on turned out to be a long-handled hammer. In a blur, it left his hands and flew over to Mr. X, where it splattered skullbone and brains against the brick wall. "Do some good for once -- maybe you'll feed the bugs."

Skinner had a distinct feeling that things would calm down really soon in D.C. He retrieved his hammer and walked off.

He laughed softly to himself. Cynical laughter. "And to think that Mulder trusted you all these months... and that I never told him you were another lackey of the Invisible Ones trying to muscle in on Halscombe's territory!"

There'd be a power vacuum in DC, but this time, Skinner was in the game, and he'd fill up the space to make sure that people like Halscombe and Mr. X didn't. He hated politics, but sometimes you couldn't avoid it...

"Need a ride?"

Skinner turned to see a thin, tall, white-haired man with a youthful appearance. He drove the most silent car Skinner ever saw in his life. "Maybe."

"I'm Loki. We have a lot to talk about... Thor."

Skinner paled, "I'm Skinner. Thor is just a persona that the hammer emanates."

Loki nodded. "So you know now that Thor is an... office, just as Loki is. Come on in. We need to talk things over. I'll drive you down to DC."

Skinner nodded and climbed into the passenger side.

As they drove down the street, Loki began to explain things, "I've watched you, and how you handled yourself... but there's a lot more to this than fighting for your identity. There are some... fringe benefits."

"Like what?"

"Memory that's not yours, accessible like a disk drive..."

* * *

LaCroix looked at his host, as his sipped some Darjeeling tea. He was a Renaissance man, that was obvious, but there was little more that he could say, save that the man had a personality that illuminated the space around him. LaCroix couldn't help but feel light-hearted himself.

"So," LaCroix tried to regain some of the aloof dignity that he seemed to have lost a few moments back. "What do you want with me?"

"Just to talk," said his host. He sipped some more tea, smiling dreamily, "I was hoping that I could ask some questions of you. Perhaps you might gain something from them as well?"

LaCroix felt that this situation was not only quite unusual, but also quite peculiar, but considering all the recent events, he decided that there was no harm in it. He might even tell the truth. "I see no reason why I should not... ask."

"First off, how do feel the last few years have changed you... specifically in regards to the events that have unfolded around the immortal known as Axer Carrick?"

He seemed startled by the question, and was actually at a loss for words. Finally, he shook his head, "It's hard to say if I was changed or if the world has changed around me. I've certainly learned a great deal, when I believed I knew it all. I learned of the existence of immortals who kill one another by decapitation, the Invisible Ones, and of my own unique nature..."

The bard nodded, "Yes, I gathered that there was some general confusion as to your true nature. Any ideas?"

"I took in the Quickening of a Provencian, which suggests that I am an immortal, and yet I have been a vampire for almost two thousand years. When I drank the blood of Schanke, I learned that I was an experiment. My becoming a vampire was not just due to the presence of Axer Carrick when I was mortal, but also the actions of the Invisible Ones, making sure that my mortal daughter Divia would become deathly ill, and also making sure that a vampire with an unnatural lust for children would pass through Pompeii. An Invisible One had an unnatural curiosity, after seeing the carnage created by my army, then Axer Carrick single-handedly, and then my own rising from the dead.

"I would say that these events have taught me that a stone dropped into a pond will create ripples that affect things far away in space and time, and that these ripples react with other ripples. Axer Carrick affected me. I affected him. I affected events that would affect Ireland for centuries to come, which gave his wife incentive to move to the Americas, as it gave Axer incentive to go there.

"I imagine that if I had done anything differently... choosing to die that day in Pompeii, dying for real when Axer 'killed' me, joining the cause to quit the conquests... it would have changed the world we live in today.

"I have regained a wonder of the world... of time."

The bard nodded. "Very interesting insights. So you're saying that you have Axer to thank for this?"

LaCroix smiled mysteriously, "I have Axer to thank for a great many things..."

* *

LaCroix suddenly found himself standing next to Vachon, who was looking at him uncertainly.

"Are you all right now?" asked Vachon, with wild eyes.

"Of course!" sneered LaCroix. "Why would I not be?"

"You were talking to yourself."

LaCroix shrugged and surveyed the surroundings. If his few moments spent with the bard were some brief hallucination, he didn't care. The bard was right -- the questions were very valuable, because they made him think, and think hard.

He saw Axer, slowly getting up. Kate was at his side, helping him, and whispering. He could have easily eavesdropped, but he had the sinking feeling that he'd only be hearing mundane conversation shared by married couples.

A few feet away, Youlienou lay decapitated, his blood pooled.

It appeared that this particular skirmish was over.

The voices in his head warned, "The battle is never over. It's only that the wheel has spun once more."

Vachon echoed his hopes, "So we have a dead Invisible One, and another one back at the Raven... What else happens? Have we won?"

LaCroix echoed the voices in his own mind. "No. The Invisible Ones aren't completely destroyed, because there are a few who remain in hiding, each with their own agendas. The Aesir still walk the earth. The human condition remains unchanged, and the human race still exists. Powys remains unchecked. Axer Carrick is still alive and swinging. The only way the war could be over is if all the players are knocked off the board, and that would mean the end of life."

He looked off into a dark alley, smiling, "No... I would say that this is only the end of the beginning, and that we have a whole new tale yet to be written. It's only that an era has changed with a whisper. When the riots end, all people will know is that we had a moment of inexplicable madness that will be idolized by the next generation, just as this generation idolizes the riots of the last generation."

He closed his eyes, his face in an expression of ecstasy, "Consider yourself blessed, my dear Vachon, for times have become interesting... for once in a long time!"

Vachon looked at LaCroix with fright. //He's definitely gone over the edge now!//

When LaCroix turned back around, Vachon was nowhere to be seen. Kate was leading Axer to the ruins of their home, tears falling down their faces.

He looked down at his own hands, clean and white, and came to a decision.

Kate turned around and saw LaCroix, and Axer turned around as well.

"I wish to offer my sympathy... I know what it's like to lose a dear home. I've lost many in my life."

Axer smiled cynically, keeping his thoughts to himself.

LaCroix caught that look, and nodded guiltily. //As if he hasn't.// "I just wanted to offer you a place to stay... a sanctuary... for as long as you'd like. Whether you want it for a day or an era, it is up to you."

Axer smiled, "I didn't know you had it in you! What is this place?"

LaCroix smiled devilishly. "The Raven. Janette may think she still owns it, but *I* have the ownership papers!"

Axer and Kate both had devilish smiles without any hint of guilt or remorse.

* * *

Nat looked at Coleen in shock. "I thought you were up north! How did you get back so fast?!"

Coleen laughed and shoved her hand through the table. "It's a projected image, but you can think of it as the real thing. I'm really flying back in a plane this very moment, and nobody else knows that I'm actually using Yggdrasil to talk to you right now. ...Not even Nick, if he were awake right now. Let me warn you -- this is a daydream. Real enough, but you won't be able to tell anyone else about it if you don't want them to think you're insane!"

Nat leaned back, "All right... So, what was it you wanted to talk about?"

Coleen got serious. "I wanted to apologize for what I've done to you. There is no excuse, and to be honest, I *wanted* to do those things."

Nat's face grew cold.

"But I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for *your* hurt and pain... And that the old me is dead, because I really have moved on."

"What do you mean?"

"I've confronted some of my problems -- head on, you might say. I understand what my needs are now."

"Who is he?" she smiled. Knowing Coleen's past, 'she' would have been the appropriate pronoun, but Nat could also read between the lines.

"Odin."

"When you screw up, you don't mess around, do you?" Coleen laughed pretty hard at this one, but Nat wasn't done yet. "I don't forgive you, Coleen, and forgive my cynicism, but I don't think that anyone can change just by finding a new boyfriend. You hurt me, and it still hurts." She closed her eyes. "Just go. Please -- go right now!"

Coleen nodded, knowing that she had done her best to make peace. And she had... from her end. Now, it was up to Nat to learn how to forgive and forget. And Coleen wasn't about to slip Nat some more mind-altering drugs to make her do that.

When she opened up her eyes, she felt a coldness on her hand. She was back in the plane, where Methos and Richie were talking about rock climbing. Looking down, an adorable wolf was whining, and burrowing into her side, whining some more. The other wolf was curled up in the foot space of the other seat, cutely snoring. The awake wolf looked up at her with puppy eyes, and she gave in, snuggling up with him. He started to grunt contentedly, closing his eyes.

It was then that she decided this one had adopted her, no two ways about it. She also knew at the same moment that the other one had adopted Methos. Coleen couldn't wait to see the look on his face when he found out.

Coleen closed her own eyes, falling into a genuine sleep as she felt the wolf cuddle a little closer. Her last waking thoughts were, //Have to name him something... Maybe 'Sparky?' Naaahhh!...//

* * * *


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