The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part II -- The Duplicity
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
The Raven was back in operation -- some quick-thinking employees had taken charge in LaCroix' absence. The blood, glass, and other leavings had been efficiently dealt with -- and the large quantity of missing liquor and beer attributed to theft. They had been so efficient that nobody even knew what had happened.
Mostly everyone was in the back room, since they couldn't relax on the main floor now. The only ones missing were Krycek, Mulroney, and Powys. Krycek and Mulroney had left separately figuring they had better leave when they could. Powys had no obvious motive why he should leave.
After the berserker episode, Krycek had looked really paranoid -- but he'd taken the two swords with him. Mulroney just plain vanished, but had talked to Powys before he left. Powys had refused to mention whatever it was that Mulroney and he had discussed, and himself had vanished not too many minutes after he was drilled about it.
After wrapping up events at the church, and following some leads -- two of those the escaping Mulroney and Krycek -- they all returned to the Raven. Those remaining had spent most of the night exchanging stories of what had happened, and what they did afterward. There were also a few of the 'how did you do that?' explanations as well.
"That's pretty much it," Nick was saying. "We remembered going down the stairs, and the next thing we knew, we had blood all over ourselves."
Tracy shook her head. "It was scary. You three were in a trance, and I couldn't get you out. Those weapons must have controlled you."
"That's not reasonable," objected Scully. "There must be some simple explanation why it happened."
"What do you think happened?" shot back Tracy.
"I think that there must have been some gas in the air, or some contact poison on the weapons that induced a berserker rage. In Vietnam, the government did heavy experiments on that with some success."
"Then why was I not affected?"
"Then it was something on the weapons, which you admittedly didn't touch."
"They were spooky..."
"What's more," continued Scully, "I think we've found conclusive evidence that this Odinsson cult was a front for a much deeper secret. While most of you were killing the cultists," she still viewed the mass slaughter with great distaste, "we found a lot of hardware used to brainwash people."
"You also found the Book of Loki," countered Axer. "You saw as much as I did that their beliefs were too real to be a front. Two hundred people don't just sacrifice their lives to maintain the illusion of a front."
"Or it could be both..." suggested LaCroix, who had remained quiet through most of this. "What if they are a cult that truly worships Odin, forcibly brainwashes ignorant people from around the globe, conducts experiments on their minds, and are also part of this hidden Truth," he nodded at Scully and Mulder, "that you search for. What if the mysterious organization that you have fought for the last two years has a direct link with the Odinssons?"
Mulder looked totally shocked at the idea. "It would totally go against everything that we've learned."
"But do you have any evidence to show that it's not the case?" asked Axer.
Scully and Mulder looked at one another. Mulder said, "Er... No, but I have a gut feeling that they're two separate entities."
"But we don't really *know*, do we?" asked Axer.
"Let me take another step over the line. Is there anything to suggest why it would be logically impossible for the cult and the organization to be the same?"
"Perhaps it may be their objectives," suggested Mulder. "The organization was intent on doing human experimentation, and left some hints that they might have had dealings with aliens. I even have proof that the organization worked on developing an alien-human hybrid." Everyone raised their eyebrows at that. Scully scowled and Skinner shook his head.
"Aliens," said Axer with a flat voice.
"Immortals. Vampires," Mulder returned.
The immortals looked at one another. He *did* have a point.
Mulder continued, "The cult seems to have purely religious objectives. They're going after any immortal they can find, not caring what kind of immortal it is, simply because their 'god' commands them to."
"Wait a minute!" said Sharpe. "I remember Mulroney mentioning that he *worked* for the Invisible Ones, while the cult worshipped it. How can you work for something that doesn't exist? What if this organization calls themselves the Invisible Ones, encourages the cults to worship them, and does genetic experiments on human beings?"
"We sort of covered that ground already," said Axer. "I think we need more information to work with -- we're just stabbing in the dark... Maybe I should give Halscombe a call."
"Who is he?"
"The one Mulder loves to call Cancerman."
"You KNOW him?" Mulder stood up. Skinner was only surprised because Axer claimed to know the man's name.
"Sure. He and I go a long way back. We met about thirty years ago when he found out what I was -- he was a young man then trying to earn a name for himself. He managed to get me captured, but he lost points because I not only escaped but demolished the whole complex, along with several extensive databases of unique data."
"What kind of data?"
"I don't know -- I didn't care at the time -- but it might have had something to do with genetics."
"Too many hints, and not enough connections..." muttered Nick.
"I think it's time we got back," said Skinner, standing up. He gazed most of them in the eye, "I hope you don't take it the wrong way, but I hope none of us EVER meet again."
"We're not offended," smiled Axer. "I don't even remember who
Skinner smiled too and left. Scully had to practically drag
Mulder out of the room, but he went willingly.
* * *
Cancerman paced back and forth. He was a dead man. Nothing worked, and he was going to get raked over some real coals.
"Hello, Halscombe," smiled Axer.
Cancerman spun around like he'd been stung. "You! How did you get in here?!"
"You know better than that..." Axer knew he was going to get melodramatic, but he also knew that melodrama -- like cliche-- could sometimes be used very effectively. All the vampires had to do was learn that little trick.
"You've seen my actions for too long. I can sneak into any place, kill anyone, and pry out any... secret..." His hand grabbed Cancerman's and held it flat on the table, his fingers spread out. "Just tell me what I need to know."
Cancerman was silent. Axer kneed him so hard in the groin that he sank to his knees, and his face turned pasty white -- he didn't have too much of a tan to begin with.
"You know, Halscombe, I think turnabout is fair play." He pulled out some handcuffs and spread-eagled him face down over the table, using ropes to secure the cuffs to the table. "You told Mulder that torture should be based off of past words; I think it should be based off of past deeds.
"I'll be generous enough to give you a choice, since there's two different ways to get screwed. There's door number one," he presented a hand-powered drill with a long, wicked-looking wood screw attached to it. A bag of similar screws came with it. "Or door number two," he produced a long rubber object covered with short spikes.
Cancerman's eyes opened widely as he screamed, "One! ONE!!!"
Axer had to fight hard from laughing out loud, "Oh, I forgot to mention that you pick the torture that comes *last*!"
Cancerman's screams were unheard, but certainly louder than Mulder's ever were that night in Toronto.
* * *
"Nick!" exclaimed Nat, when Nick returned to the precinct with Tracy. "We were worried about you!"
"So was I," he muttered under his breath.
"Nick!" called the captain from his office. "Get your butt over here! You too, Tracy!" The jolly old man didn't look so jolly this time.
Shaking his head, he and Tracy made their way over to the office where the captain slammed a file onto the table. "I have a new case for you. Look at it."
They both looked at it, and scratched their heads in puzzlement. The captain continued his ranting. "This just great! First we have eyewitness accounts of sword fights in the airport, and now we have a guy who was trapped by a few 800-pound engines and got killed because he was holding a hammer up over his head with a rope in his mouth, and he let go!"
Nick shook his head, then he saw the rune. //Please tell me it's over...//
"Do you recognize anything, Nick?" asked the captain.
* * *
It was a week after the episode in the church. Nick and Tracy had gone back to their police work. The FBI agents had left for their own work. Sharpe, Duncan, and Richie had taken a plane to Paris -- LaCroix still got giggles when he remembered the episode in the airport.
Axer and Coleen had stayed in the city for a few more days, then they split ways. Apparently, when a fledgling immortal made a first kill -- whether it be mortal or immortal -- the teacher made the student fly solo for a while.
He remembered that scene, and it still gripped at his heart...
..."Why?" Coleen was visibly upset. "What have I done?"
Axer had much less of a poker face than he did years ago. "It's the way. You made your first kill. It's for the best. I've taught you enough of the basics -- of life, and not just the sword -- and now you have to grow your own wings. I'll only hold you back."
Sobbing, with a large part of anger in her face as well as loss, she'd left the Raven. When she was gone, Axer lost his composure and found solace in a bottle of scotch. He didn't even bother to use a jigger glass. Tears flowed openly down his face, and his breath came in strangled chokes as he forced himself to bottle his emotions.
LaCroix figured enough was enough. He walked over to a group of vampire ladies who were busy gossiping about useless things -- clothes, makeup, musicians -- and made his presence known. They ceased their conversation and looked up with him in great respect... and fear. These vampires were only in their third decade -- and perhaps five to ten years as vampires.
"Don't stop your conversation on my account," he smiled grandly. "I just thought I'd point someone out to you all." He pointed to where Axer sat, alone in a dark corner. "And to answer your unspoken question, he isn't a vampire -- he's just...
He left them to make of that as they will. One of them, Irish by birth, with raven-black hair and blue eyes, silently approached him with a predatory look in her eye. She sat down next to him, and instantly assessed the situation.
"She dumped you, didn't she?" she said -- she honestly didn't know what had occurred only a few minutes ago.
When he turned to face her, his eyes were as furious as a vampire's, and it startled her. It was obvious that he was restraining himself from grabbing his now-visible sword, and it was with even greater difficulty that he calmed himself down.
"No... I had to send her away. And it wasn't what you think. She was my... daughter."
It threw her back. He had a thick beard on his face, but he looked to be no older than twenty. She looked in his eyes once more, and saw great age and felt power in them. She decided to stay and see how this gamble would turn out. LaCroix didn't leave hints for nothing...
...LaCroix wiped a tear from his own eye. He forced the memory from his mind and looked at the gift that Axer left for him. It was an exquisitely wrapped package with a hand-made card. He opened the card, and it read:
-- LVCIVS RVFIO LONGINVS --
The package contained a recently-published book, titled "Poems of Rudyard Kipling." A cloth bookmark was sewn into the binding. He opened it at the bookmark, and found a poem titled "Tomlinson," and began to read.
The door opened. "I wondered when you would show up," smiled LaCroix. "I still have your book."
"Thanks for keeping it safe," smiled Powys, sitting down. "You know, the game's not over. There's one more round to play."
LaCroix nodded, his eyes still scanning the book.
"Why don't you come with me? It's winter there, and the sun won't shine for another three months."
LaCroix looked up from the book.
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