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


Chapter 17



Skinner's mind was reeling as he paced back and forth in the plane. "I can't believe this!" He hastily amended himself as Powys waved his Ph.D. diploma from Princeton University, a wide smile on his face. "O.K. -- the math works out, and I'll take it on faith that you know what you're talking about! But I still can't believe it, and I don't care how many P.h.Ds you have!"

"Think of it this way -- what you believe or don't believe doesn't matter. It's what *they* believe that matters."

Skinner started to pound his head against the wall.

"Don't feel so bad... There are countless physicists who changed their majors to civil engineering because they couldn't accept it either. Think of it *this* way -- from the mouth of Niels Bohr himself, 'Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.' Albert Einstein was so opposed to it that he claimed that, 'God does not play dice with the universe.'

"He wanted a deterministic universe where there was a mover or decision maker other than the roll of the dice or even a probability density function. But that's the reality -- it's found on the atomic level on up to the macroscopic level. Besides, how can five million photons be wrong?"

All three stared at Powys -- Skinner with raised eyebrows. "OK, so I tell bad jokes, but the points are still valid."

A nasally voice with a southern accent said, "Tomboys and gentlemen, we're nearing the drop site. Get your jumping gear ready and wipe those tears and lipstick off your faces."

Cancerman looked a little embarrassed, "What can I say? At least he can follow orders."

* * *


Odin was singing to himself when Nick woke up.


I know, captain, that you've done this work before
We've got a problem -- you can help us all I'm sure
The colonel's gone rogue and his methods are unsound
You'll take a PBR up river -- track him down.

There's a conflict in every human heart
And the temptation is to take it all too far
In this war, things get so confused
But there are some things that cannot be excused...


Nick shook his head. So many hints that meant nothing until the whole pattern could be glimpsed.

"Wake up, Nickie boy," said the southwestern-accented voice. "We're nearin' the crash zone! Those goddamn VK 'll be comin' damn fast, so don't be usin' those claymores too soon! Let 'em flood you -- then let 'em have it! You didn't get an army issue rifle for nothin', son!" He cackled a little bit.

//Great! Now the guy thinks he's in Vietnam! What happens next?// He tore down the blanket, and found that they were over an endless white expanse, occasionally broken up by hills.

Then he noticed the town. "Odin -- it's an oil town!" he said in a very aggravated voice.

Odin looked at the town. "You're right, son! It's a fuel base! Ready the bombs and machine guns -- we're gonna blow that mother sky high!"

Nick put a power grip on the man's shoulder. "Get this straight. You're *not* in Vietnam, and that *isn't* an enemy base!"

Odin again changed personas. His voice became silky, and took on a faint San Francisco accent. "Oooh! Yess... I've *always* had a secret fantasy of getting a beating by a police officer!"

"Keep your eyes on the wheel!"

"Oh yes, Master!" purred Odin. "I feel my free will dripping away -- drip by drip! Dominate me! Command me!" His voice momentarily switched to a radio announcer's voice, "Se habla espanol." Then he returned to that silky voice, "Chain me and *use* me! Those *cute* buns drive me wild!"

Nick held his face in his hands. //What did I do *wrong*, God? Answer me! Please!//

* * *


Frey stood outside of the meeting place. Only one boy had left, and the elders had killed him with their own hands. They understood the need for secrecy as much as Frey.

"What concerns you?" asked Grandfather, who had silently stood next to him.

"I see the lines converging. Three separate planes arrive. Odin comes on one. The disciple comes on another. The disciple of Ullr approaches on a third."

"Ullr? I have not heard of this name."

"Nor have most who claim to know Norse mythology," smiled Frey. "Even those who know his name have it wrong. He was a hunter who was displaced with the ascendancy of Odin. Where Ullr was a hunter who lived with the rhythm of the land, Odin was a man who wanted to *master* the land.

"Where Ullr received the land's bounty, Odin took the treasures of the land. He taught Mankind to do the same. Have you ever looked at the world's history, and noticed that there was a sudden shift from obscure populations of humans leaving nearly no trace of themselves to a world-shaking juggernaut that has nearly brought the land to the brink of destruction?"

Grandfather shook his head. "I do not understand you."

Frey patted the old man on the head, whose expression became one of irritation. "In time, you will. You just have to learn to see the obvious."

* * *


The pilot had yanked everyone onto the plane once the storm had lifted once enough. That was a few hours ago. The storm still raged, but the pilot had sensed when it had ceased to be as much of a threat. The plane still shook like a piece of popcorn in a popper.

LaCroix, Kate, Axer, and Mulder were in the sun-shielded area of the plane. LaCroix smiled knowingly to himself: Kate and Axer had had another 'spat' and made up. It was as nauseating as much as it was hilarious to watch those two stumble along blindly.

Mulder, on the other hand, wasn't stumbling along blindly. He *knew* what he was talking about. "I asked Axer about a slip of the tongue you made, and he told me about the time that he slaughtered your invasion force."

LaCroix nodded warily, his attention focused completely on Mulder once more. "And?"

His face almost became full of ecstasy now that he was allowed to pursue the things that truly interested him -- since Scully was out of the picture and LaCroix was at least willing to talk to him. "He told me that you were mortal at the time, and that he had believed you dead. And yet you came back to life. He also said that as a vampire, you had been staked through the heart several times, and you still came back."

LaCroix nodded, "Continue." He didn't know where this was going.

"Have you ever asked why you came back to life as both a *mortal* and as a vampire? Have you asked why only Axer and Coleen can sense you, and then only occasionally?"

"No."

Mulder became exasperated. "What do you mean, you never asked yourself why?!"

"It was not necessary."

Mulder threw up his hands. "You're missing the obvious!"

"And what is that?" LaCroix was actually curious.

"You affected your passage of time on a quantum level. Some part of you decided that when the crucial decision would be made, the ultimate *you* would move to the world where you survived the incident."

While LaCroix was completely baffled by the statement, Axer wasn't. "I think you've been taking Schroedinger's Cat too far. Human beings can't consciously affect the quantum decisions -- they can only measure them after the fact. And the many-worlds theory is just an extrapolation that fits the math."

Mulder's eyes were aglow with zeal. "Yes! The many-worlds theory was explored because it fits the math -- but don't you see, it also gets rid of a lot of the other paradoxes and questions. The many-worlds theory is Occam's Razor!"

"I personally think that Schroedinger's Cat is a bit absurd. Why don't you do a thought experiment of your own? Put the cat in the box, and wait. Tell everyone else in the world that you're doing this experiment, and that the cat will be either dead or alive on opening the box.

"Open it yourself, and determine the outcome, but keep it to yourself. Tell everyone in the world to observe the outcome themselves, one at a time, without discussing the results with anyone. When you tally the results, what you'll find that all the results are the same.

"When you collapsed the wave, it should remain uncollapsed for everyone else who has not observed. It would certainly remain so if every individual believed that they were the first individuals to make an observation.

"If the 'potential cat' and 'many worlds' theory were true, we should see a random mix of observations saying 'dead' or 'alive.' But we don't, do we?"

"Maybe that outcome occurred in such a world where that quantum decision were made? What if we exist in a world where the quantum decisions must always be unanimous?"

"That's pretty damned convenient. Have you ever considered working for the ACLU?"

"You don't have to be insulting!"

LaCroix sat back in thought. He didn't know anything about quantum physics, but he had a solid grounding in formal and practical philosophy as a Roman, and as a vampire facing a great many questions usually swept under the rug. He had Nick to thank for that. "What is this 'Schroedinger's Cat' that you mention?"

"It's a book I picked up back in Toronto," said Axer. "I believe Mulder had it last."

Mulder handed it over. "Sharpe still has to read it."

LaCroix took it. The book was starting to look well-used. "I can read very quickly."

Mulder was soon left to his own thoughts once more -- Axer's attention had been somewhat suddenly diverted. Before he had a mind-seizure caused by a lack of mental activity, he spied a few books sitting on top of Axer's belongings -- 'Model Validation at the Las Cruces Trench Site'... 'Vadoze Zone Monitoring Handbook'... 'Cosmos'... a book in Latin... and a bound book without a title.

Curious, Mulder picked it up, and started to read. The< title was on the inside. 'Axer Carrick -- Notes and Thoughts'. //Eureka!!// thought an excited Mulder as he turned to the next page. //Thank God -- it's in English!//

He began to read:


The date is September 14, 1995. I am beginning to
keep a diary again after all these years. Maybe
it's because I have something to write about once
more.

I met Kate two weeks ago. I know she's a vampire,
but I'm finding that I just can't function without
her. Whenever I see her, my heart beats so
strongly I can feel it. When she leaves, I lose
all of my will to live. The faintest touch of her
lips on my neck are enough to send chills through
me.

I know that I did the right thing by sending Coleen
off into the world, but it still hurts. When I
look into Kate's eyes, the hurt goes away. Will
she look at my eyes the same way if she learns that
I'm immortal? I can't tell her. I've shared my
heart with only one other mortal, and when I told
her of my secret, she feared me. Even after I
survived the stab through the heart, the burning,
and the excommunication, she feared me.

I vowed never to love again, but Kate made me
forget that vow. No matter how much I've tried to
shut off my feelings, they come back even stronger.
I've been able to shut away my fear, my hate, and
the other feelings that arise during wars and
disasters. I've stayed on top of things in the
middle of the most horrific battles, and remained
calm on the torture rack, but Kate makes my shields
drop. I can't explain it, and now... I don't want
to.


Mulder smiled wickedly -- now he could get some personal information on Axer *and* satisfy his voyeur-needs at the same time! He read on, oblivious to the fact that LaCroix was staring in his direction with his eyebrows raised. What Mulder didn't know what that he was mumbling aloud. LaCroix could hear it, but Axer and Kate were too occupied at the moment to pay attention.

Of course, LaCroix wasn't going to let Mulder onto his little quirk -- it was too valuable a source for information. Why ruin it?

* * * *


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