The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part II -- The Duplicity
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Nick, LaCroix, and Axer sat in one of the back rooms. Though Axer's spirits seemed to have improved, he looked very worried. "Now that we have some privacy," said Nick, "perhaps you'd like to tell us what's on your mind."
Axer nodded. "Everyone knows that I vanished a few years back, after the incident with those FBI agents... Well, what isn't common knowledge is where I went. It was a place so well hidden that nobody would WANT to find me....Someone did find me.
"I interrogated this man after he tried to kill Coleen and target me for a convenient little kidnapping, and I discovered some useful information. There is a secret society that transcends all national boundaries, and they're after us. They're not Hunters, but most likely members of a society as old, if not older.
"There was a tattoo on his left palm." He produced a piece of skin. In the center was the symbol of an arrow.
Nicholas and LaCroix observed it and shook their heads.
"It's a Nordic rune which corresponds to our letter 't'. Our problem is that while we know what the letter says, we don't know what it *means*. The only immortal who knew the hidden meanings behind the letters is Darius, and the Hunters killed him. There is no other immortal who was a part of the culture and knew the secret ways."
"Wait a moment," said Nick, interrupting him. "Are you saying there are *more* immortals like you?"
"I thought you knew," apologized Axer. "When I said that Coleen was my student, I thought you understood the implication."
LaCroix nodded silently, but Nick felt like he'd been hit in the head with an oak paddle. "I had no idea!"
LaCroix spoke up. "Tell me about this Darius."
"I never met the man myself -- I was too busy fighting in wars or getting drunk, and I had no stomach for priests cowering on Holy Ground. The man was an old one -- I never paid enough attention to the rumors as to his true age -- but he had developed a reputation for being a powerful warrior king who had led the most powerful army across the face of Europe.
"When he reached Paris, however, he met the guardian of the city, another old immortal. He killed the old man and something changed. He disbanded his army and built a cathedral which still stands to this day. He renounced his warrior ways and became a Catholic priest.
"I've always assumed the guy was just sick of killing, but regardless, he did stop. He's pretty much stayed on Holy Ground, leaving once and a while to go out for lunch or do some holy deed. He refused all challenges against him, and must have made a big impact on those born in the second millennium, because they all flocked to him like iron to a magnet."
LaCroix was deep in thought, speaking slowly when he said, "Darius drew the younger immortals to him like a magnet."
"Could it be that he took some of them on as students?"
"Oh yes," nodded Axer. "Some of them were well known killers who reformed -- or at least became less bloodthirsty." LaCroix smiled at that. "Let me see... Duncan MacLeod... Richard Sharpe... countless others."
"What did Darius teach them?"
"His brand of philosophy, mostly. He'd have them unload their whole life story on him, and he'd play the psychoanalyst, asking them enough questions until they figured out what was wrong in their lives. I suppose he performed an essential service, but the guy didn't understand the necessity of war and death."
"So he taught them philosophy and civilization."
"More like his own brand of morals."
"I imagine he pulled in immortals from all walks of life."
"You bet he did: princes and paupers, not to mention any Celtic barbarian he came across."
"So he might have doubled as an academic teacher as well."
Something hit Axer pretty hard. He smacked his hand against his temple. "Ahh! He might have taught his students some of his lore!"
"Let me see..." Axer thought to himself... "Duncan would most likely be his 'best' student -- or at least the only one still alive. Now, all I have to do is find him! Oh, I hope this isn't a wild goose chase!"
Axer then had a look of shock in his face, "I just thought of something: if they know about our kind, then they might know about yours as well."
Nick and LaCroix looked at one another. Nick's expression was skeptical; LaCroix' expression was speculative.
"Excuse me while I make a few calls..." Axer stood up and left the room.
"What do you think?" asked Nick.
"I think times have become interesting."
* * *
Axer walked through the Raven, feeling as if he had just been given a few extra years of life. He'd come here without any ideas, and felt stupid that the most obvious answer had slipped right past him.
"How could I be so stupid?" he demanded of himself.
He reached the chair where he had left Coleen, and found two predatory young men talking to her. Axer shook his head -- youth and naiveté. He walked up behind the men and put a hand on each shoulder.
They spun around pretty quickly and glared at them -- they must be vampires, he thought, judging by their reaction.
"What do you want?" snarled one of them, barely able to keep his fangs in.
"I want you to take yourselves elsewhere," smiled Axer in his best no-nonsense expression.
"Oh yeah, and what are you going to do about it?"
Coleen smiled and leaned back in her chair.
"Is that a threat?"
"Yeah!" laughed the other one, putting a hand on Axer's shoulder, squeezing pretty hard.
Axer just smiled. "Friend. You're beginning to annoy me." He looked the vampire directly in the eye.
That seemed to worry the vampire. He let go and backed off with a suddenly fearful expression. "I'm sorry!"
"What the hell--" the other vampire started to say, when his friend grabbed him.
"We didn't know!" said the first one, pulling him back into the crowd.
Axer looked sternly at Coleen, who had taken a rebellious expression. "Did you know what you did, young lady?"
Her eyes flashed, "I was just talking with them!"
"You were talking with two vampires who were intention either bleeding you dry or making you one of them -- and you won't like THAT outcome, believe me! Now that you've seen the joys of being immortal, I think it's about time that I introduce you to the harsh realities.
"Come on! We're going to Vancouver!"
He nearly dragged her out of the Raven in his haste.
* * *
Duncan, Richie, and Sharpe were at the airport, heading for Washington D.C. The tickets were already bought and paid for, and everything set at D.C., so they wouldn't have to wait for a taxi when they got there.
Richie began to feel that something was wrong. He subtly tapped Duncan on the side and said, "A lot of folks wearing suits."
Duncan got the hint, and looked at Sharpe, who nodded. "Lots of businessmen here. Let's go someplace less stuffy. How about some cold air?"
"Cold air?" Duncan was shocked. "What's so special about cold air?"
Sharpe made a sharp turn over towards a different terminal, where the plane was just about to take off. The doors were just about to close, but he stopped it from shutting.
"Terribly sorry we're late."
He produced three tickets, and the annoyed stewardess nodded. "Come on, we can't take all day."
The door shut as three men in suits and sunglasses ran towards it. When the plane began to take off, one talked into a pen he carried in his lapel.
The terminal door said, Toronto/Chicago.
* * *
Scully wasn't taking this well, for good reason, Mulder noted. She was unpredictably switching between cold fury and absolute hysteria. She was mad at him, at Axer, and at Krycek.
"I know you're going to hate me for saying this," said Mulder, "but we need to go to Toronto. Everything is pointing in that direction."
"WHAT is pointing in that direction? Unsubstantiated files? The mad ravings of your informant? You tell me what!"
"You know better than that," his voice remained calm and level. "You saw a lot more than I did, and what I saw was enough to prove it to me." His voice dropped a fraction in volume, "Don't you want to nail Krycek for killing your sister?"
She slapped him so hard it nearly cracked his jaw. "Don't... you... DARE bring my sister into this! This isn't about her -- it's about you and your damned obsession!"
"What's wrong with being obsessed with the truth?" He was obsessed, he *would* admit that, but he had a point too.
"It's making you see reality in illusion! It's making you come up with fantastic theories for things that have a simple explanation!"
"You might never have believed me, but you've never proven me wrong."
"Oh yes! You're just like some medicine man who says that the rain came because he danced, and the rain didn't come because the sun god scared him away! Of course I can't prove you wrong! I also can't prove God doesn't exist, but nobody can prove that he< does! Where does that leave you? With nothing!"
Mulder shook his head. "I'm going to Toronto right now. I've already got the tickets. I want you to come with me."
"What if you're wrong?"
"What?!" she snapped her head towards him. "What did you say?"
"What if you're wrong? What if I find the truth, and you're not there to see it?"
"Have it your way, then." Mulder's guts were tied in knots. He had never been this harsh to her, no matter how much she was harsh to him. It went against everything in his nature, but deep down, he knew that one thing she needed was a figurative shaking of the shoulders. It didn't make it any easier.
He nearly reached the door when Scully yelled, "Dammit! Wait a minute!" She grabbed her 'gotta leave in a hurry!' bags and followed him out the door, locking up the place. "Now I want you to know that I'm doing this against my better judgment!"
It might have meant a few hours of heated argument along the way, but Mulder smiled, knowing that things would be a lot better this way.
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