The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part IV -- Reading the Endtrails
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995


Chapter 1


A mathematician studying permutations would have easily sacrificed several of his prize grad students to have been here. Sharpe and Methos stood at opposite doors, while Duncan and Richie sat in the center. All were looking at one another in shock.

Something clicked in Richie's brain then. He looked at Adam, "Methos?!"

Methos shrugged, "I was waiting for you to figure it out."

Sharpe was now surprised, "You two know him?"

Duncan raised his hand in a stopping motion, "It's a long story. Since we all know one another, why don't you have a seat and tell me what's going on."

Everyone took a seat. Methos produced a basket of Guinness, while Sharpe brought out a bottle of Bombay Gin. Richie took a look at both of those and cringed -- they were BOTH horrible! //You'd *have* to be immortal to drink any of that!//

"What's this?" asked Duncan, looking at the stout and gin.

"I need a drink, and I thought you could use one too," echoed Methos and Sharpe. They looked at one another with odd expressions. Methos shrugged.

"What happened?" Duncan's tone was resigned.

Sharpe started first, "I might as well start at the beginning. I met Mulder at the D.C. airport -- I was assigned as his partner, thanks to Director Skinner -- and I suggested we stop by Toronto..."

They all listened with wide-eyes while Sharpe talked about the legends surrounding the Landing, arriving there, the fighting, and the arrival of the Viking. Mostly, he talked about a lot of the crazy, unbelievable stuff that Axer and Mulder were apparently obsessed with -- chaos, the many-worlds theory, probability, and the rest of the can of worms opened by quantum physics.

By this time, Richie was nearly ready to try that gin. "Whoa! Hold it there -- this is getting really far out and confusing!" He stood up and snapped his head back and forth. "You can't tell me you really believe in all this?"

"I don't know what to think," Sharpe admitted. "If I hadn't seen some odd things up there, I'd have laughed them both off."

"What kind of things did you see?" Methos had been quiet throughout the monologue, but it was obvious that he was greatly intrigued by all this.

"This lunatic who called himself Odin. The thing was, he healed like an immortal and fought like an immortal, but he wasn't an immortal."

"That's impossible!" snapped Richie.

Methos and Duncan stared at him with raised eyebrows, until he made defensive gestures, "All right!... All right!... But you know what I mean -- only an immortal can heal like that, and immortals sense one another... right?"

"What about vampires?" asked Duncan.

"Oh... yeah..."

"What about vampires?" asked Methos.

Duncan shook his head. "We'd better go back to the very beginning..."

* * *


Nick and Nat were in the morgue. Nat drank coffee, and Nick drank Scottish whiskey.

"Well," Nat observed. "It's not the kind of drink that I'd approve of, but it's a start."

"It's been a *hell* of a week!"

"You're preachin' to the choir. You should see some of the corpses I've been getting." She put down her coffee and walked over to the refrigerators. "Take a look at this -- a man is found in his bed, the only thing wrong is that his brain has been removed without *any* cut or puncture. It's like it was beamed out!"

"'Beamed?'"

"Oh, you never watched Star Trek... What I mean is that the only way the brain could ever have been removed is if it had simply vanished!

"And look at this one," she opened another drawer. "This man had *every single nerve* removed, again, without any sign of surgical removal!"

Nick shook his head. "This is disturbing... I'm working on a case where a man killed a dozen people in a bank, claiming that aliens were disguised in human flesh, and were here to 'eat the souls of men.' He locked himself in the vault, and vanished without a trace. The engineers are still trying to figure out how he escaped.

"I wonder if he may have been on to something, even if his mind *is* a bit warped."

"You're not serious?" Nat was a bit disturbed. Nick had the occasionally wild idea, but this was really in the outfield.

"I don't know... Remember Odin? He was mad, but if you look through his songs and poetry, there's a pattern. It never makes sense at the time, but when you take the time to examine it, you realize he's handing you the answers on a silver platter."

"I don't know about this," Nat shook her head, returning to her coffee.

"One thing's for certain. We've some deranged murderers out there."

The momentary silence in the morgue was disrupted when the two swinging doors were kicked open. Time seemed to last forever as they swung their eyes towards the door, and saw the frantic form of Axer, holding a tense body in his arms. His hair was a mess, his clothes torn and bloody, and his eyes wild as he babbled, "Nat! You have to help her!"

Nick was the first to respond, "What happened?!"

"I don't know! You've got to help her!"

Nick helped Axer put her on the table, almost afraid it would be Kate. It wasn't -- but she *was* a vampire that he had seen off and on for the last few years around the city. Her face had turned blue, and she was breathing as quickly as a mortal would after sprinting up a hundred floors.

Vampires didn't do that.

Nat reached the table and assessed the situation, noting the protruding fangs, the panic in her face, and the total absence of any physical trauma. "Can you tell me what happened to you?" she asked the vampire.

It was hard to make out words between the gasps, "Lights [gasp] [gasp]! I [gasp] tried to escape! [gasp] [gasp] [gasp] Don't know [gasp] what [gasp] happened!"

Her eyes began to disfocus, and soon her breathing began to slow. "She's dying!" Axer panicked.

"Nick! Get him out of here!"

Nick had to use almost all of his force to shove Axer out the door and keep him pinned to the wall. It was like trying to hold down a bull -- possible for a vampire, but quite a task.

With one hand, Nick forced Axer's eyes into his own and made a suggestion, ^^Relax... How can we do anything for you if you don't relax?...^^

Axer was immune to the suggestion, but the different quality of the voice got his attention. He actually did start to calm down, but remained quite frightened as well.

"Wait here," said Nick, running back to the morgue and returning with the whiskey. "Drink this."

Axer swallowed a liberal amount, and didn't make any funny faces or choke. It helped a little. "Kate's going to kill me if she smells this on my breath!"

"She'll understand," said Nick. "Now, try to tell me what happened."

"It was like this..."

*


...Axer had left the Raven, but since it was such a nice night -- the stars were much brighter than usual -- he decided to take some alleys and side streets home. Compared to some of the cities he used to live in, the backstreets were pretty tame, so he wasn't tense in the way that many might be.

It must have been some time later when he noticed some heavy fog blowing down an alleyway, and a heavy light behind it lighting it all up suddenly, making it look like a scene out of some horror flick. Curious, and keeping a hand on his sword, he silently approached the mist and heard the sounds of fighting and struggling.

The lights were about as bright as floodlights, and seemed to come from everywhere. In the middle of an open area, he recognized a vampire from the Raven. She was frozen still, an aura of blue light surrounding her. Her face was locked in an expression of absolute terror.

A few figures dressed in black leather suits surrounded the vampire, holding small boxes. Axer didn't know what was going on, but he could make a good guess.

Although he carried a sword for the immortals he might meet, he also carried two Glocks under his trenchcoat. Pulling those out, he shot at the heads and hearts of as many men as he could target.

They were caught by surprise, and three men got their heads blown off. The other three ducked behind some boxes and clutter. The aura around the vampire shut off when one of the black instruments hit the ground, fizzing and spraying sparks.

Axer ran forward into the open, firing bullets at random where the men had ducked. He grabbed the collapsed vampire and slung her over his shoulder. One Glock was empty, so he popped the clip out and slammed in another one, firing more rounds into the light.

He sprinted out of there, his blood racing and his breath tearing at his throat. The alcohol that he'd drunk didn't help much, even though it was nothing compared to what he used to drink. After about half a mile of hopping fences, dashing across clogged streets, and running through buildings, he decided he could slow down.

When he did, he noticed that the vampire was coming to. He set her down and tried to get some information out of her. "Do you know what happened back there?" he panted. "Who were those guys?"

"I don't know!" she was a bit heavy of breath as well. "It all came out of nowhere -- the lights, the fog, everything. I couldn't move!" With a surprised look, she started to clutch her throat, even though she could still breathe. "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!!"

Her skin was starting to turn blue, so Axer tried to come up with a plan. "I know just where to take you!" He spied a car parked not too far away, and punched through the back door window, unlocking the front door. He put her in the passenger side and hot-wired the car, ripping off the steering wheel cover like it was paper. "Keep on fighting it!"

He sped through the streets, not caring how fast he was going or how many accidents he caused. He didn't cause any, but there were a lot of near-misses -- and no police cars. He made it to the morgue all right, retracing the very steps he took a few years back when he was escaping. He kicked the doors in...

*


...Axer's head bowed in worry and guilt. "I did everything I could!"

"I know," Nick's voice was soothing. "Don't worry about it -- she'll be all right. Nat's the best Vampire Doctor."

Axer smiled at that, but the worry was still visible on his face. "So young... So young... What would those bastards want with her anyway?"

Nick was deep in thought. "I wonder... Have you heard about the murders?"

"What murders?"

"Let's go back to the station. I have some files for you to look at." //Maybe it'll get his mind off of things...//

* * *


Nat had heard the conversation outside the doors, even while she was racing to save the vampire's life -- or more accurately, try to find out what was happening in the first place. She couldn't believe what she was hearing.

//...And I thought Nick was crazy sometimes...//

After a brief examination, her one guess was that somehow, she was suffocating on a chemical level. Respiration just wasn't occurring, or the blood wasn't circulating. Although no vampire would ever have a detectable pulse or heartbeat, the blood still flowed -- just much more slowly. That's why they never had the appearance of bleeding when shot or stabbed.

A thin slice into the forearm showed an incredible sight: the blood in her veins was becoming more and more viscous. A very odd smell wafted towards her nose, and she realized that she was seeing some kind of chemical transformation. The little bit of blood on her scalpel was turning into some kind of polymer gel.

"Oh my GOD!"

* * * *


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