The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part II -- The Duplicity
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Mulder felt empty inside as he attended the funeral of Scully's sister, Melissa. Scully probably felt as if he couldn't understand what she was going through, but the fact was that he *did* understand. He understood what it was like to lose someone, and he also understood that Scully should consider herself to be lucky because she *knew* the outcome: she *knew* her sister was clinically dead, and that she had a body to bury.
Mulder never knew the fate of Samantha, his sister -- who, he was strongly convinced, but didn't *know* -- had been kidnapped by some force of extra-terrestrials. Their motives or means remained uncertain, but Mulder had seen enough circumstantial evidence to point to the involvement of a very powerful part of the United States government, and most likely other powerful governments throughout the world: Japan, Germany, England, Russia, and so on.
He felt as if all the death was his own fault: his father's and now Scully's sister. There was nothing he could do, and nothing he could say, so he said nothing at all. Mulder had no way of knowing that it was only making things much worse. The ceremony was over, and Mulder put his arm over Scully's shoulder. "You need some rest." That was all he could say, and she seemed to understand. Tears fell down her face, filled with utter sorrow and a hardness that began to fill her eyes.
Mulder had seen that mixture only one other place, and it began to disturb him. It wasn't healthy. Assistant Director Skinner also showed up for the funeral, and also felt a hidden shame, but he kept it inside. There was a great deal he could have done, but he didn't for the sake of strategy. He comforted himself with the knowledge that if he weren't in the picture at all, things would be much worse.
A great many guests were there -- friends, family, people from college and work, and most Scully had known well or by acquaintance. Everyone she could identify except for a young man who stood by himself.
His expression was that of a man fighting tears himself. He was clean-shaven, with well-trimmed hair kept in a conservative fashion. His clothes were neutral in appearance -- all grays -- but it was hard to tell what he was exactly, civilian or government. There was a bulge on the side of his trenchcoat which suggested the shape of a rifle or shotgun.
In her extreme grief, the detail entered her mind but didn't register. What did register was the fact that this man looked like he could have been a close friend, perhaps even a significant other. And Scully didn't know. How much about of her sister did she not know?
Scully fought an incapacitating wave of tears, strengthened by Mulder's silent presence. Though he was born with the gift of a glib tongue, he was often unable to express his inner feelings. Scully, who had taken the time to know Mulder, didn't need words. She knew what he felt, and she knew what he had tried to say, but didn't know how to say -- or couldn't.
They left for the car, which was parked outside the cemetery. Once inside the safety of the car, with Mulder behind the wheel, Scully's shields snapped. Mulder drove without saying a word.
After all, what could he say?
* * *
Mulder sat at his desk, cleaning his service pistol compulsively. He had done so several times, and had also loaded and unloaded the clip as well. He stopped and came to a conclusion, then loaded the gun with sure movements. It was all so clear now. All the death and destruction happened because of his own existence.
Mulder + Existence = Death + Destruction
(Mulder + Existence) - Mulder = Existence - (Death + Destruction)
Existence = Existence
Yes, it was very clear now. All he had to do was rid the world of a source of entropy. He raised the gun to his own head, and counted to three.
One... He felt his muscles instantly tighten.
Two... His breath came in short, adrenaline-charged gasps. His blood raced like he was running a marathon.
Three... The door opened. Mr. X looked him in the eye, and Mulder froze.
Time stopped to a standstill.
"Do you think that'll solve any of your problems?" asked Mr. X. In reality, he didn't really give a damn whether Mulder lived or died, and Mulder knew it. "Do you think that'll bring any of them back?"
Mulder remained silent, and the gun remained where it was.
"If it makes you feel any better, I have something for you. Don't you want to see what it is?"
The gun lowered. Mr. X entered and closed the door. He produced a folder file filled with memos, reports, and photos. "I think you'll recognize some of this material." He left without saying anything further.
Mulder opened the folder slowly and scanned the memos. Mr. X was right. He HAD seen a great deal of the folder in the past. It had been given to him by Deep Throat a few years back. That folder had sent him to Toronto, where he'd had one of the biggest adventures in his life. He had almost died at the hands of a heavy smoker -- he was blindfolded, unfortunately, so he couldn't identify the man. His back had healed, but still ached occasionally when he remembered the episode. He would never look at screws or power drills in the same way again.
It was where he also met the two Toronto detectives, Knight and Schanke, as well as Axer Carrick -- not a detective. He was a mysterious man who had vanished from all civilization and could not be found at all. Mulder, just before he had been taken by the man with the chloroform, had seen a tantalizing hint of Axer's capabilities, but only hints that had not told him a practical thing. Was he merely a superman by virtue of having a lifetime of experiences that pushed him to the limit -- or was he something other than human? An experiment? An alien?
He had also been introduced to Patrick Morgan, who by chance was always hidden in the shadows, though he never seemed to take any pains to hide himself.
There were some new reports, a lot of it isolated and confusing. They were more reports of beheadings and blood drainings. At first, they seemed unimportant, until he had the crazy idea of plotting them on a world map as a function of date.
Perhaps it was three in the morning when Mulder finished, but when he did, he was absolutely amazed. The incidents were randomly scattered around the globe, but in *clusters*.
The clusters were in Vancouver, Toronto, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Bogota, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Jerusalem, Tokyo, Beijing, and Ulan Bator.
A lot of the randomness could be interpreted as noise, which Mulder mentally screened out. He noticed that there seemed to be streamlines leaving a lot of the other countries and heading for three cities: New York City, Toronto, and Vancouver.
The evidence was too indisputable, especially when certain individuals were linked to the murders, but weren't charged with anything because there wasn't enough evidence to do anything with them.
There were several prominent names of those still living: Duncan MacLeod, an antique and art dealer moving back and forth between Vancouver and Paris; Alan Powys, an Interpol agent often dealing with those cases throughout the world, but seen at some cases where he wasn't officially involved; and a name that chilled Mulder to the bone: Axer Carrick.
He'd recently been spotted in a place in northern Canada that was so isolated that it didn't even have a name. A body was found on the ice -- a body without a head. A wallet wasn't found on him, so it was judged a robbery case, which was why this particular case was so well hidden in the woodwork.
Apparently a wallet was worth a beheading in those places, so wasn't worth classifying as a bizarre murder.
Axer Carrick couldn't be linked to the crime, but he *had* been seen hitchhiking towards the area a while back, so the fact that he was in a similar location couldn't be ignored. He was no longer sighted in the area, so it could be deduced that Axer was on the move again.
The trends were very disturbing: most of these beheadings took place within the last ten years, and were escalating. And it was heading home.
* * *
"Relax!" commanded Duncan. "And stop posing -- this isn't a movie!" He snapped his shinai on Richie's arm hard enough to break the bone.
"Ouch!" Richie yelped, backing off a bit. "What did you do that for?"
"To make you learn!" Sometimes he just wanted to throw up his hands and scream. He seemed so... so *whiny* sometimes! "The next immortal who comes for your head is going to be a hell of a lot less merciful than I am! Now defend yourself!"
Duncan attacked Richie with wide, exaggerated, sweeping motions appropriate for the Japanese-style weapons. Even though he might as well have called out his moves in advance, Richie never saw them coming. He was too caught up in the clashing of blades to really get the point of it.
Before he was about to put Richie out of his misery and end the round, they both felt a sharp buzz. They stopped what they were doing and rested their sword hands on their real swords, waiting for whoever it was to reveal himself. He did.
"As I live and breathe, Duncan MacLeod!" boomed the voice with a common British accent with a faint touch of Irish around the edges. An average-height, well-developed man stepped through th door. It was obvious the man was a soldier, by his very manner and the way he carried himself. His face was weather-beaten, and had seen horrible days, but for now, he had a care-free grin on his face.
Duncan was taken back, then recognition came. "Sharpe?"
"At your service, you wild highlander!"
Richie took a step back as these two former comrades gave one another slapping bear hugs and laughed like they had just won the lottery.
"I thought you were dead!" exclaimed Duncan. "You never told me you'd come back!"
Sharpe shook his head, "I learned that you met Darius and moved with him to Paris. I was a man of my time, and I didn't understand what truly happened, until the age of Napoleon was long past and Frenchmen had become just like everyone else. I met him myself, you know... in 1867. He had a lot of good things to say about you. He showed me that you hadn't betrayed the Crown. That's why you never found me."
"Darius is dead," murmured Duncan.
"I know." His face was somber as well. "But hopefully my coming will keep his death from being in vain, and keep murders like his from happening again."
"What do you mean?"
"We might as well sit down for this. I have something to tell you."
* * *
Major Sharpe was a legend in his own time. That much could not be disputed, no matter what people thought of him. He had saved the life of Wesley (as he had been known at the time), and for his good deed, he'd been given a bad turn: he was made an officer, when he had been but a low-born son of a whore.
A soldier all of his life, he had been to India and back, and now he was in the midst of Portugal, fighting a guerrilla war along with the Spanish nobles who didn't like the rule of the Napoleons in their land -- fighting the other nobles who *did* like the idea of Napoleonic rule.
When it came down to it, it wasn't so much a fight of politics, or even economics, but rather the fact that in Napoleon's 'enlightened' court, it was a modern court where music, poetry, learning, and 'enlightened' behavior held sway. Not much difference from the traditional system of prayer, denial, and so on -- only everyone didn't hide their lusts and actions, and didn't beg forgiveness of God for the sins that they had committed with great relish, and would do again.
Wesley had revolutionized warfare by making Sharpe the head of a band of riflemen. They were the best riflemen the army had to offer -- all lowborn like himself. Because Sharpe wasn't born a "proper officer", he was pushed from all directions: from the proper officers because he wasn't one of them, and from his own men -- because he *was* one of them.
The war had gone on for years, and the army had reached France. Duncan MacLeod had met up with Major Sharpe by now, and after a few fights on the field, they had become good friends. Sharpe was drawn to Duncan's fierceness in battle, love of drink, and his strength of spirit. Duncan had been drawn to Sharpe's roughness that was an integral part of everything he did -- he was a straight and simple man who didn't tolerate unnecessary complexity and foolishness, which hadn't endeared him to anyone outside his own unit.
On one particular day, the battle had gone sour. The fighting had gone on all day, and the reinforcements were nowhere to be seen. The morale was bad, and getting worse. Duncan and Sharpe were both crouched behind a large, upturned wagon. Cannon shells and musket balls filled the air. The landscape was turning into a muddy, lifeless, reddened pit.
Duncan looked resigned and concerned; Sharpe looked focused and grim. "It looks like we're stuck here for a while. Can you see any way out?"
Sharpe looked his way. "No. It's all covered!"
"Help had better come."
Sharpe came to a decision. "No. It won't, so we'd better change the tide ourselves!" He called to his men, who were scattered behind the two. "We go forward!"
"No!" gasped Duncan. "It's suicide, man!"
"So is waiting here!" snapped Sharpe.
He stood up and yelled a powerful battle cry, running into the midst of the maelstrom. He was shot full of lead before he moved twenty feet.
Duncan was too preoccupied to feel the buzz that came almost instantly after. When he did feel it, he thought it belonged to another immortal that he couldn't reach. He died himself that day.
* * *
Cancerman looked at the memo given to him by a courier. "When did this come in?"
"About ten minutes ago, sir."
Cancerman was *not* pleased by the recent turn of events. "Go." He considered his options, then picked up the phone.
"We have a problem," he told the one on the other end.
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