The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part III -- Frostmelt
by Henry Wyckoff

Chapter 4

Mulder sat in the smoky beatnik tavern, listening absent-mindedly to the 'poet', who stood on the stage, reading aloud his work. He wore a goatee, straight black hair that looked too uniform, and a red beret.

So these are the pale deaths
That men miscall their lives --
The seagull takes another dive.

One more drink means
One more link --
The plunger's in the sink.

The Dalai Lama, midnight light,
The sky alight with Christmas light.
Moving like the starry orb of night...

On and on the guy went, until Mulder was lulled into a somnolent state -- but his peripheral senses told him when someone made a straight-line towards his table. Mr. X looked uncharacteristically 'hip' and 'groovy', looking convincingly beatnik, jazzy, and all that. He even wore a beret -- but he wore it correctly, along with an authentic baggy green shirt worn in Vietnam. The tags were even real.

"Wow, man..." some guy high on pot was oohing over X's outfit. "Real cool... Like, where did you get that?"

"Like, I don't know man," X's voice was pretty dreamy himself. "Like, I was groovin', and then I was just wearing it, you know?"

"Yeah, man," laughed the 'tripped out dude'. "I can dig that..."

Mulder overheard all that and shook his head. This was 1997, and the guy was carrying on like it was 1968. What some people would do so they can relive the past...

Mr. X. sat down at Mulder's table, his tone more serious, but not blatantly so. "Like hey, man -- this place is way out of my way."

"You can handle it," Mulder wasn't trying to 'fit in' -- which was probably the most merciful thing he could have done for everyone. "What do you know about the poem I sent you?"

"Like... it's really deep, man." His head was weaving a little, as if he were getting some drug rush. "Everybody's into this poem -- and the poet. He's so much in demand, I don't think you'll be able to catch this cat. He's a shining star, but you can't touch him."

"Does this shining star have a name?"

"Are you kidding, man? Of course he has a name: Loki, man. But you'll need some help finding the man. Try some of your old friends -- you know, the guys with the magic? Well, I gotta go, man -- there's a cool party by the docks. Peace!" He made the peace sign and grooved on out.

Mulder's face sank into his hands. //And I thought I could take this guy out in public!//

The poet had finished his poem -- but instead of there being applause, everyone was snapping their fingers with really serious expressions on their faces. The poet did some muscle-man's pose -- simultaneously screaming from the bottom of his guts -- and walked off the small stage like he was imitating some of those Power Rangers poses. The snapping grew in volume.

Mulder moaned in pain, his face falling back into his hands.

* * *

Axer, Kate, LaCroix, and Powys sat in one of the back rooms of the Raven. The table was a solid oak one, designed for formal conferences. Axer had no idea how to be formal -- he had his legs kicked back on the table, an arm around Kate's shoulders. Kate had wrapped her arms possessively around Axer's waist like he was about to be snatched away -- her head shamelessly resting on his shoulder.

Powys, a decorum freak -- even during moments when he had the appearance of a rogue -- shook his head sadly. He didn't think their display was disgusting or offensive -- just thought that kind of open display belonged elsewhere.

LaCroix thought they were acting like a bunch of love-sick puppies, and was waiting for it all to pass -- he was pretty close to vomiting from *all* of their displays.

"So, perhaps you'd care to explain a few things," suggested Axer. "You dragged both of us into the game, so I'd like to hear what you have to say."

LaCroix looked at Powys, who nodded. Powys spoke smoothly as if he'd been rehearsing it for months. "For the last few years, I've been searching for any sign of the Odinssons and what Mulder believes is a link to a hidden government. I believe I've found an important clue, and it lies in the northernmost reaches of Canada. It's an isolated reach called Treggar's Landing.

"Treggar was a Viking captain in 912 AD who sailed from Denmark to the Landing, stopping only for supplies and food, trading whatever fish were caught at sea. Where he was going was a mystery, but he looked so driven that all who saw him and the crew began to talk among themselves. When he reached Iceland, he was a legend.

"It was like the gods were personally talking to him -- controlling him. What happened once he reached the Landing is unknown to Europeans in their mythology and history, but it *is* known among the Inuit who remain in the region.

"They claim that a boat full of bear-men landed and created a stronghold, caring for several artifacts. They remained there for seven years -- not venturing even once from the stronghold. Because the Inuit of the region remained in isolation until the 1970s, most of their oral tradition remains intact.

"What their stories say is that after seven generations, the men simply vanished -- while they were there, they didn't age or die, and it was the very same group of men who remained until that time. They vanished as if into thin air, but tradition holds that for one month every hundred years, the men return to do who knows what. The tribes watch them come and go, like some folks watch migrating birds come and go. Each group leaves the other alone, and nothing happens.

"We're going up there to meet these men when they return."

"It sounds fascinating," said Axer, "but how is this significant?"

"Good question," smiled Powys. "First, these men have the rune of the spear on their palms -- which means that they may have been the first Odinssons. Second, there is nothing to indicate that they are like us -- so I'm interested in finding out what kind of immortal they are. Third, Loki is telling me to."

"Loki..." muttered Axer. "You're telling me that a mythological god is telling you what to do? Does he know God, by any chance?"

Powys shook his head in humor. "Loki is a very real god, just as Odin, Thor, Heimdall, and the rest are. The reason I say they're real is because they exist in the flesh. Loki's down in Seattle, selling bad poetry at the docks. He's not getting any sales, but he doesn't seem to mind."

Axer and Kate were staring at him in shock. Powys continued. "I just caught Heimdall passing through today. It's not too late to catch him."

"Heimdall??" Axer was standing up.

"Yes. Heimdall. I think you'd like him -- the pair of you are more similar than either of you know. Care to meet him?"

Axer sat back down, his head spinning. "Look, this is impossible. Gods don't exist!"

"No," corrected Powys. "The Christian god doesn't exist -- these gods do. There's nothing like seeing the real thing to believe -- I never believed much in faith myself."

LaCroix leaned back in his chair with an amused expression on his face.

Axer stared at Powys in the face. "I'm calling your bluff. Introduce me to your gods."

Powys stood up, walking towards the door. "What's the matter? Let's go!"

LaCroix remained, watching Axer and Kate follow him with confused and disbelieving faces.

* * *

Mulder stood in the airport terminal, his radar on. Sharpe was supposed to be here any moment -- the plane had arrived, and the jumble of people made the airport seem like a living sardine can. It was even more crowded than it was in Toronto. He still remembered that incident, and smiled.

//Those *were* the good old days...//

"There you are, Agent Mulder," said the crisp, almost Irish voice behind him. Mulder turned around and found a smiling Richard Sharpe, who held out his hand. "It's good to be meeting you under more orderly circumstances!"

"I'd say. I see you have your bags."

"Yes. I don't believe in letting the baggage handlers send my belongings to another city."

Mulder laughed and nodded towards the way out. "I understand you're going to be my partner. Have you become Interpol?"

"Only for now. Somebody had to fill Powys' place once he went rogue."

That seemed to stop Mulder in his tracks. "He did *what*?"

"He went rogue. I thought you knew. He didn't even hand in a resignation notice, from what I heard -- but you know about rumors... He's been making a lot of noise, conveniently unconnected to a lot of disasters -- ones that he always happens to view 'the day after' with all the other gawkers."

"My sources say that he just came to Toronto. Since we know the types of people who live there, I think we can safely guess who he's going to see. I think we should take a stop there ourselves. I've booked a flight to Toronto -- and it leaves ten minutes from now."

Mulder was taken back in shock, but he managed well. "Then what are we waiting for?"

Sharpe laughed, clapping him on the shoulder. "We'll make an Englishman out of you yet -- another week with me, and you'll be doing three impossible things before breakfast!"

"It sounds like a pickup line I used once," Mulder muttered.

* * * *

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