The Cycle of Axer Carrick

Part II -- The Duplicity
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995


Chapter 8


Scully looked at the hog-tied Krycek and sank down to his level. Nobody knew that she'd come to see him, or else they might have warned her to back off. He looked at her warily, but without fear.

"What should I do with you?..." she asked him, looking him dead in the eye. "You killed my sister in cold blood. You killed Mulder's father, tortured Mulder, and were responsible for my abduction. What do you have to say for yourself?"

He was no longer gagged, but he remained silent.

"I'll have to accept your --" she still couldn't say it, "-- immortality, but even if you could die, I wouldn't kill you."

"No?" It was the first word he spoke.

"No. They," she nodded towards Mulder, the two young ones, and the two old ones who had moved into the back room, "think killing solves everything. I don't."

"What are you going to do?" he sneered.

"I think Axer had a good idea." She tightened the C-clamps on his bare feet, which were already grinding the small bones. "I honestly don't know what I'll do with you, but I think this is a good start."

Krycek didn't give her the benefit of screaming in pain. He held it in, but she knew he was hurting.

"You shouldn't do this to yourself," said Axer, behind her.

She twirled in surprise, and saw his sad, somber face. There was something about his eyes that made her think of her father, even though this man didn't resemble her father in any physical way.

Maybe they were kindred souls -- both world-wise men with a lot of weight on their shoulders. She could see it in his eyes, and knew that he was trying to protect her from putting on baggage of her own to carry. She knew that whatever she did would add lifelong baggage, but she *had* to do something to Krycek. She had a need for revenge that had to be satisfied.

"I know you don't like me," he continued, "but *please* listen to me." He gestured with his head towards the bar.

After a moment of pause, she walked over there while Axer remained for a moment. "I think it's time we moved to the next stage," he said to Krycek. He picked the man up by the ropes that bound him and unceremoniously threw him into a nearby cabinet. The door shut.

Axer sat next to Scully at the bar, where she was now struggling not only to keep back the tears, but also hide her emotions.

"You're only going to kill yourself," he sighed deeply. "You want cold-blooded revenge, and I can tell you that revenge only makes your heart colder."

"I guess you should know," she snorted.

His head bowed, "I do know... But tell me this. If your sister was a ghost, standing at your shoulder, what would she say to you about your plans to torture Krycek?"

Scully shuddered. "She would tell me that I shouldn't be sad, because it was her time to die, and that I would only reap bad karma."

"Bad karma... I think it's very appropriate, because you'll be reaping and weeping in *this* lifetime."

"But why wasn't it ME?!" the intensity was a scream, but the volume was below a hoarse whisper. "And why do people like Krycek LIVE?"

"Because that's the way the dice roll." He turned Scully's face so that she looked into his eyes. "I don't know how to comfort people -- I never played that game. I can only tell the cold,
ugly truth.

"Your sister died -- and you still live -- because that's just the way it happened. There IS no rhyme or reason to it, and if you ask yourself why, you'll only be making yourself miserable.

"And don't think life for Krycek is going to be easy. Even if he somehow escapes our justice, his life is going to be hell. He'll be spending whole centuries running from other immortals -- there's no way he'll be able to stand against even the young ones in a fair fight. The only reason he tried to go after me was because I had nearly killed myself drinking that night."

Her eyes closed tightly, as if she were trying to convince herself that the last few years of her life were only a nightmare.

Axer held her hand, "Don't believe that you're alone. We all fight our own battles in life, but don't be afraid to ask for help. We *all* know what it's like to lose loved ones, and frankly, some of us have lived whole centuries where we were more miserable than you could ever be."

LaCroix stood in the hallway, smiling softly as he observed unseen.

"Why do your kind kill one another? And why do you call yourselves immortals if you *can* die?"

Axer smiled, "'Immortal' is a misnomer, but it serves well enough. We won't age or get sick, and even if we die, we'll come back. But there is one way for us to die for good."

"How?"

"Why? Are you planning on killing an immortal? It only serves another immortal -- all mortals get is a half-minute light show."

"What do you mean?"

"Let's hope you never find out."

* * *


Mulroney drove towards the Raven, deep in thought. He could tell the difference between truth, lie, and all the shades of gray -- it seemed that while Tracy had some useful information, she truly believed that her partner was a mortal.

It seemed that Nick wasn't a complete idiot.

Because he was an honorable man, he didn't kill her -- instead, he locked her in the air-tight trunk.

"Now, don't be screaming and lose what air you have," he remembered cautioning her as he locked her in. She was amazingly quiet, and had those wide, innocent eyes.

Mulroney laughed. He was too much of an old, grizzled killer to be affected by those eyes.

He reached the Raven and circled around. The place was closed during the day, apparently, but there were people inside. He circled around back and parked, plotting a mental layout of the back.

Packing a bayonet and 1890s rifle issued to the English Army -- he was a romantic -- and a sidepack of "tricks and traps", Mulroney climbed the wall. The ground-floor entrances and exits, he had noticed throughout his long career, were always guarded, but never the ones on the second-level.

He easily reached a second-floor window, and climbed in. It was a hallway devoid of any decoration or light. He took a long time to let his senses probe the place before he made any more moves...

* * *


Nick slept on the guest bed, muttering in his sleep. His hands were clenching and unclenching, and his eyes fluttered underneath his eyelids.

Mulroney grinned maliciously as he set his tricks and traps. He honestly wondered why it was vampires had to be fully conscious to appreciate these kind of items. At the moment, they were harmless.

A rag was stuffed into Nick's mouth.

"Hey... Nickie... Wakey, wakey."

Nick's eyes opened, and then the pain flooded through him as he realized that a wooden cross had been hung around his neck, and his limbs were bound with silk ropes laced with prayer beads, garlic, and intricate crosses.

His skin burned and smoked as he tried in vain to escape. He closed his eyes, but it only eased the pain somewhat.

"Can't kill you outright," explained Mulroney. "But I can't have you ruining things for me, either. Don't worry -- I'll be back for you later."

* * *


Mulroney crept into Duncan's room, and got the shock of his life. He looked in the man's face, and saw a man that he had seen -- and killed -- over a hundred years ago. It was so fresh in his mind because it was the only fight in his life where his opponent kept on getting up after getting fatal wounds.

It wasn't until he grabbed the man's entrails and ran off with them that the man finally gave up and died.

"Blimey... did *they* get you too?"

Brief flashes of memory raced through his brain. He remembered the old man, Lenny, and the lights in the sky. The cold, white room and the little clay creatures. Then -- blackness that didn't end for two calendar years. When he came to, he learned that he didn't age or get sick, although he was sure he could be killed.

But Mulroney *had* killed Duncan on the field of battle.

Duncan woke up without any of the expected disorientation. If Duncan recognized him, he didn't show it -- he did show enough of a mistrust to pull out his katana and demand, "Who are you?"

"I'm here to kill you, but if you want to play first, I'm up for it." He smiled. "I haven't been in a fair fight for a long time."

All of his questions submerged as he entered a fighting mode. He straightened his back, breathed in deeply, and spread his arms a little bit.

Duncan charged in with a downward hack to the head -- a classic katana move -- and found that Mulroney wasn't there. The bayonet was at his neck.

"Nice move, but I trained in Japan too -- when there were *real* samurai and yamabushi."

The blade didn't cut his neck immediately, so Duncan slipped out of the hold, elbowing Mulroney in the gut. He backed off a little, and faced him once more, "You talk too much, laddie."

* * *


The two young ones had finally fallen asleep -- but not together, as the old ones had wagered on. Axer won the bet. Duncan owed him an authentic Scottish meal.

Now, Axer and Scully were the only ones awake. Scully accepted Axer's invitation for a few rounds of Benedictine with coffee, and actually was feeling better.

"So, what do we do with him?" she asked.

"No. What do *I* do with him," Axer corrected her. "I'm going to execute him when the time comes."

"Axer!!!"

"Precisely." When she looked confused, he said, "Look. You've had the hints for years now, and I'm surprised you haven't put all the pieces together... I'm an executioner. This is what I've done all my life. If you want justice done, then let me handle it and you get on with your life."

Scully was about to respond, but then the sounds of sword fighting came from above. Axer pinpointed the source, and said, "It's Duncan!"

Axer drew his own blade, and Scully made to follow him with her gun drawn.

"No!" he snapped at her. "It's one on one -- nobody interferes, and only an immortal has just cause for retribution!"

Scully was about to ask what that meant, but he ran off towards the stairs. Cursing, she followed him with her gun drawn anyway.

* * *


The twenty Odinssons surrounded the Raven. Their spears, swords, and axes were sharpened and ready. They approached.

Their eyes were alight with holy zeal.

The sun was about to set.

* * *


Axer and Scully entered the room, where a man dressed like a British soldier from the last century fought Duncan. The fight was about evenly matched, with Mulroney winning.

A moment after the two arrived there, the sounds of breaking glass and battle cries filled their ears. Axer told Scully, "I've changed my mind. If Duncan loses -- shoot him in the foot."

Before Scully could say anything, Axer bounded down the stairs, where his battle cries blended with theirs.

* * *


Mulroney won the battle. Duncan lay disemboweled on the floor, but he wasn't beheaded yet.

He looked around in disorientation, then saw some Odinssons enter the room, one of them holding some woman at knife-point.

"You have done well," said one of them in an almost ritual-like voice. "Our mutual employer wishes to thank you for your work."

Instead of getting the few hundred K he was promised, Mulroney was shot several times in the stomach and chest. His body landed on the floor, face down in a pool of his own blood.

* * *


Duncan got up, groaning. Only a thin red line showed that he was ever sliced in the abdomen. He looked around and remembered what had happened.

The man who had tried to kill him was dead, several bullet wounds in his back.

"I didn't shoot him," Duncan shook his head. "Who could have done it?"

"The Odinssons..." muttered Mulroney from the floor, slowly getting up. He was a mess, with half-congealed blood all over his body.

Duncan stared at him. By rights, the man should be dead -- and if he was an immortal, Duncan reasoned he should feel the man's presence. The man felt like any other mortal -- in other words, he didn't feel a thing.

The man had mentioned that *they* had did something to him, and that he had killed Duncan over a hundred years ago... Duncan wondered if that *they* had made the man effectively immortal. It was an intriguing thought.

"Who are the Odinssons?" asked Duncan savagely, putting his blade at the man's neck.

"A cult that worships the Invisible Ones. I only work for them." He grimaced, "That is, I *did* work for them. The one thing I can't stand is a double-crosser."

Duncan shook his head, wishing things could be simple. "Let's take you downstairs."

Mulroney shook his head in turn, "There isn't anyone downstairs. The Odinssons probably killed or captured everyone they could find." He collapsed against the wall.

Duncan ran out of the room to look for survivors.


* * * *


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