The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part II -- The Duplicity
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Duncan found Nick lying on the bed in agony, the holy objects burning his skin. His eyes were shut so tightly that his eyes looked like they were about to burst. Duncan tore off the ropes and put the cross in his pocket -- this one was a collector's item, most likely. He was still getting used to the idea that vampires weren't myths, and felt a twinge of nausea as he saved a vampire from a painful death.
Nick's eyes opened. "Duncan?"
"It's me," Duncan's eyes were haunted. "The Odinssons came and took everyone except for Sharpe and Mulder. It's up to us now to find them."
"Odinssons?" He'd never heard of the name.
"They're the ones who tattoo the 't' rune on their palms. They broke in while I was fighting Mulroney and took everyone by surprise. I don't know if they killed them or not."
"He's gone too, but I figure he left his mark -- a few got killed."
Nick's head was ringing. A voice continued to echo, and screamed louder and louder. He stood up and tried to search for it.
"Nick?" Duncan was concerned. "Are you OK.?"
"There's something out there." The sun had set now, so he opened the curtain and saw a car parked out back. The sound seemed to be coming from it, though nobody was in it.
Duncan looked down there as well. "I don't see anything."
Nick opened the window and descended to the car. There was a pounding coming from the trunk. He ripped it open, and to his surprise, he found none other than -- "Tracy?!"
"Nick!" she screamed, half in hysterics. "What the hell is going on here?!"
"It's a long story. Were you kidnapped by a sadistic Irishman?" She nodded, getting out of the trunk after Nick let loose handcuffs by carefully snapping at the thin part.
Something just occurred to Tracy. "Wait! How did you do that? That's solid steel! And the trunk--"
Nick's nervous system was flooded by a very uncomfortable feeling. The one thing that he had managed to keep secret had been revealed in a moment of absentmindedness. "You already know about us, so I'd better fill you in on the rest."
There was one thing that Nick had learned from past experience: when a Resistor learns about you, tell the *whole* story... or else! It didn't take more than a few minutes for Nick to give Tracy -- and Mulder -- a brief summary: he was a vampire -- yes, like Vachon; Duncan was immortal -- which explained why he had the sword and the blood all over him; and a mad cult had just barged in and kidnapped -- and perhaps killed -- a few of his friends.
The problem that arose wasn't the short amount of time it took to tell the story, but rather the time it would take to get past Tracy's shock and incomprehension. "You mean there are immortals as well as vampires?"
Mulder was crowing in delight: "I KNEW it!" Then he glanced to his side and looked shocked, as if he remembered something. He became somber again. Tracy looked at him in total bafflement.
"I forgot to introduce you to one of my former pro tem partners. Tracy, meet FBI Special Agent Mulder. Mulder, this is my partner Detective Tracy Vetter."
He smiled and shook her hand, which she numbly gave -- she was so shocked that she didn't even think how out of place it seemed.
"Here," smiled Mulroney, the bullet holes not quite healed, handing her and Mulder a shot of scotch and coke. Tracy drank it all down, and it seemed to help, until Nick did a double-take.
"You!!" he yelled, grabbing Mulroney by the lapels and slamming him up against the wall. His vampire face emerged, and he made to kill the man, until Duncan stopped him.
"He's on our side!" yelled Duncan, trying in vain to pull Nick back. It didn't help much, but Mulroney thought the gesture was nice.
"What?!" demanded Nick. It was then that he noticed that Mulroney had been shot through the chest and gut with bullets, and he was healing. "You too?"
"I'm a former employee of the Invisible Ones," explained an unruffled Mulroney. "They double-crossed me, so it's a dead contract. Consider yourself lucky -- I'm helping you out for free, when I normally charge 300K for cases like this."
"And it's a well-spent 300 thousand," said a voice from the door. Everyone turned around.
"Skinner?!" yelped an utterly shocked Mulder, standing up. "What are you doing here?"
"Saving your ass -- and Scully's."
* * *
Powys followed the van on a stolen motorcycle. He had slipped out during the melee, figuring that it would be better to be a coward than a dead hero.
All along, he had lied when he claimed ignorance of the rune. He knew *exactly* what it meant, but he'd kept his silence for one important reason: he was touched by the Invisible Ones.
He was their one major success story, and their major disappointment. It wasn't *him* they were disappointed at, but rather what he was and what he represented. They were even further shocked to learn that there was much more to him than met the eye.
He didn't worry about being spotted. Chaos was his friend and lover. The roll of the dice favored him, and the royal flush was always in his hand. He didn't care about such details as 'being spotted' -- details were for those bound by self-made constraints.
* * *
"Drop the knife," commanded the Odinsson, "or the girl dies."
"Let us go, or I wipe out every member of your damned cult," returned Axer. The others were still tied up in the back of the van -- which had a full separation (and no windows or doors) between the driver's seat and the cargo area.
"You're not in any position to threaten." The cultist put a knife around Coleen's throat. "I am."
"You wanna bet?"
Coleen was tied up, but she was able to shift her body just enough to throw the cultist off balance. Axer's knife thunked through the man's eye, and his body jerked like a spastic rag doll.
It seemed silly to Axer -- just one man assigned to guard over three immortals fully capable of nailing ten times their number... in a fair fight, he amended. And to top it off, the driver had no idea what was going on in the back.
He didn't know what they'd dione with Scully -- when they discovered that she was a mortal who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, they'd taken her somewhere else. Perhaps she was in the front?...
"Let's get out of here!" said Richie, who had just managed to free himself and was untying Coleen.
"Not yet..." mumbled Axer. "It all seems wrong somehow. I think we should spring this trap and see who comes out."
"No -- they're a cult that I've never heard of before in my life, and I've been alive for a hell of a long time. What's more, it appears like these guys don't seem to know the difference between immortals and vampires -- only that we're all different from the crowd. ...It intrigues me. Who would know about both of our groups, and send uninformed cultists after us?"
"Let's find out later --"
"Go if you want to -- but I'm staying here."
It was then that they felt the buzz. Axer smiled, "See -- it seems that my idea was on target after all. The others are expecting us to play helpless. Now get those ropes back on and put on a mad face. Yeah! Like that one!"
Richie was getting pretty damned annoyed at this guy. Old one or not, he could take only so much.
* * *
Skinner stared down Mulder, "You really got yourself into a mess this time -- and not just with Cancerman. You wanted the truth, but I think you'll find that it's a bit too much for you to handle."
"What did you find out?"
"Cancerman is employed by a mysterious council named The Invisible Ones. Their name must be pretty accurate, because nobody knows anything about them, except that they're an international force that does what they want -- to hell with laws and governments."
"Where did you get your information?"
Skinner stared at him.
"I don't think that's important right now," said Sharpe, entering the room. "What *is* important is finding out what the Odinssons want and where they are."
Skinner had such a control over his emotions that his look of shock was totally uncharacteristic. "What are YOU doing here?"
Before Sharpe could respond, they heard a thumping from one of the cabinets. Eyebrows raised, Skinner walked over there and got the surprise of his life.
Krycek's eyes widened with fear.
Skinner turned around with red in his eyes, "You all have some explaining to do for yourselves."
* * *
LaCroix floated above the caravan, which didn't try to keep itself inconspicuous as it wove its way through the city, going on some roundabout route. A little further behind rode Powys, who made no attempt to hide himself.
A curious development...
He descended, landing in the back seat of the motorcycle, grabbing the throat of Powys with a powerful grip. Powys didn't seem startled in the least.
"Care for a ride?" Powys managed to croak, smiling foolishly.
"Perhaps you'd care to explain yourself."
"I'm tailing them."
LaCroix shook his head. The man was obviously telling the truth... but the man's density was nothing short of amazing. "You're letting them know where you are."
"So? I let the details sort themselves out. I'd like my neck back, please."
LaCroix' jaw dropped a fraction in amazement, and he stared at Powys.
"What?" asked Powys.
* * *
"So, where are they?" asked Mulder.
"A renovated church in the slums."
"Then let's go."
Nick cleared his throat delicately. "I think you're forgetting something VERY important here." He glanced at Krycek, who was still tied up, but had been moved out of the cabinet and had the C-clamps taken off his bare feet. They were now swelling up like
Duncan, without asking anyone's leave, walked over and cut the ropes binding him, and pulled him up by the neck. Krycek screamed when he put weight on his feet. "They might have a score to settle with you, but I don't. I'll give you ONE chance to redeem yourself, but if you blow it, I'm taking your head myself."
Krycek nodded sharply, his eyes darting right and left. Everyone was too shocked to say anything.
Mulder finally found his voice. "You can't let him go!"
"Why?" demanded Duncan.
Mulder was sputtering, "--Because--"
"No." Skinner walked over to Krycek. "I don't think you have any room to move -- except to work with us. I'll grant you a pardon and send you to some place safe if you help us, but if you double-cross us, ONE of us at least will kill you."
"O.K.," he said softly. "I'll help you, but I'll remember your promise."
Mulder slammed the wall with his fist, making a dent in the wood.
"You'd better remember his promise as well," said Mulroney in a conspiratorial tone to Krycek. "One false step, and he'll take your head."
Mulder spun around like he'd been prodded, a possibility occurring to him that had never before entered his mind.
* * *
The caravan reached the empty church, which resembled more of an American-style cathedral -- the Old World design, but scaled down and made out of drywall, house brick, and wood.
Some Odinssons opened the back of the van, and were surprised to find the guard killed -- yet all three firmly tied up.
"What did you do?" demanded one of them, putting a spear to Axer's neck.
"He threatened Coleen, so I killed him. Anything wrong with that?"
"No," chuckled the Odinsson, "but there is something wrong with you. When the sun rises, you will be sacrificed to the Invisible Ones." He looked at some of the other Odinssons. "Take them."
* * *
They were all on their way to the church that Skinner had located. Mulroney was pretty mad about the trunk, but one look from Nick quieted him down.
Mulder silently added the prefix "mad" to "Irishman", as they sped through the streets so fast that the needle went off the scale -- but a single cop never stopped them.
After what must have been half an hour, they reached the right part of town, and a few minutes later, they approached the church. The lights were on, but nobody was outside.
Mulroney looked at Sharpe. "What now, General?"
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