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


Chapter 2


Mulder and Scully were relaxing at a local espresso house, sipping some iced mochas and discussing philosophical matters. Today's topic was: ALIEN EXPERIMENTATION.

"You know," Mulder was saying, "there are at least thousands of reported events around the globe every year concerning unexplained livestock mutilation and alien abductions leading to unexplained medical problems. I don't know how it can sound so crazy to you."

Scully didn't really enjoy these kinds of conversations, and desperately wished the topic would change. "There is no proof that alien abductions occur *OR* that the cow mutilations aren't performed by some Satanic cult."

"I know it seems like that, but look at it this way -- would even a Satanic cult have this level of precision? Look at the reports -- they all agree that the smoothness of the cuts had to have been performed by a laser, and the only laser technology that we have that even approaches the necessary level requires a full laboratory to even use."

"You're underestimating our level of technology."

Mulder laughed, "So you ADMIT we have the technology to do it!"

Scully's face sank into her hands. Her beeper then went off. //Ahh! I knew this beeper would come in handy!// She smiled, "Excuse me a moment."

The number on the beeper said that it was a long distance one, so she rushed to find a phone. //Where is that damned calling card???// The number, it turned out, was the Toronto morgue.

"Dr. Lambert," said the female voice on the other end.

"This is Agent Scully, returning your call."

"Oh yes!" the voice wasn't too excited to hear her. "Look, I hate to bother you, but I was told that you were working on a project called 'The X-Files'. Detective Nick Knight told me about you and Agent Mulder."

Scully immediately felt a sinking feeling. Toronto plus a coroner plus a vampire usually meant trouble. "What's the problem?"

"We're having a severe problem up here. Not only do we have at the very least one serial murderer -- I'm convinced there's more -- but we're having some mysterious, unexplained deaths."

"What kind of unexplained deaths?" she asked warily.

"I don't feel good talking about this over the phone. Could I talk you two into coming up here?"

"I don't feel good about accepting a case until I hear more
about it."

"Could we do an Internet conference, then? It'll take me a few hours to scan all the photos, but it'll show you at least a glimpse of what we're dealing with."

//OK.... so she's desperate.// "I don't think that'll be necessary. Just describe what you're dealing with." It didn't take all that much description. Scully thought she was going to be sick then and there. "We're catching the next jet out there. I'll keep in touch."

"Thank you!" she sounded much more animated now.

When Scully caught up with Mulder, she nearly dragged him out of the espresso house. "Come on! We have a plane to catch!"

"What's the hurry? Where are we going?" For once, he was caught completely off guard.

"We're going to Toronto!"

"Toronto?" //If it's enough to drag *her* up there, it must be pretty bad!//

* * *


Back at Duncan's boat, all the background had been reviewed, and everyone knew the whole story. Surprisingly enough Methos had been pretty open-minded. He didn't admit to it, but Duncan had the suspicion that Methos had met some vampires before.

"Perhaps you'd like to tell us a story," suggested Richie. "How did you two meet up?" He looked pointedly at Sharpe and Methos.

Sharpe and Methos actually looked embarrassed. "It's a long story."

Duncan smiled, "We're waiting..."

Methos shrugged...

*


..."Well, *who is he*?" demanded Sharpe a bit roughly,
holding Brigit's arm so tightly that she grimaced.

"Let go of my arm!" she snapped grabbing for a meat cleaver.
He let go and backed off a foot. "His name is John, and
he's a much nicer man than you!"

"And what does he do -- interior decorating?" he mimicked a
an accent usually associated with effeminates.

"No! He's a professor of history at Oxford, and he's much
more civilized than you'll ever be -- and he has a good
taste for wine... not that *gin*!"

"What's wrong with gin?" he took a large guzzle out of the bottle.

"It's a soldier's drink!" She shuddered as she watched him
guzzle the drink.

He smiled. "I'm a soldier -- you should know that!"

"And I'm a lady! When I met you, you were a general, but
you act like an enlisted man! I had hoped that you would
straighten out after the war, but I've finally realized that
you're still living it! You never put down that sword, and
you have no plans of settling down! I'll be the laughing
stock of them all!"

"You knew what I was when you met me!"

"And I thought that you would grow up!" She stormed out the door.

"Brigit!" he screamed, trying to follow her, but he was so
drunk that he slipped on the tile floor and banged his head
against it.

He woke up sometime later. Reflexively, he raised the gin
bottle to his mouth, but realized that he had dropped it on
the floor. The gin was still pooled on the floor.

//Professor John, eh?... An Oxford professor shouldn't be
too hard to find around here...//

He stormed out of the house, grabbing his horse from the
stable, and riding away like the wind. Riding cleared his
mind somewhat, but all it did was focus his anger and need
to strike out at someone.

Sometime later -- he didn't bother to keep track of time --
he had asked enough people to find out where this Professor
John lived. The house was on the outskirts of town --
complete with a garden, atrium, and a team of maids.

Nobody was around to stop him when he charged his mare in
through the front door, his sword swinging around. Though
he was dressed as an 1870s Englishman, he resembled one of
the black knights of old as he rode his horse through the
house, looking for someone to kill.

"John!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. "Show yourself!"

The horse stopped, and Sharpe felt the most powerful
Buzz he had ever experienced. His very bones twinged
at the sensation. An impudently smirking man stepped from
behind a corner, holding a Roman sword expertly.

"Where did you learn your manners?" was the only thing he
asked. "Didn't your father ever tell you to keep the horses
outside, or are you an Arab, who would sleep outside and let
the horses sleep inside?"

"Are you Professor John?" demanded Sharpe.

"Yes, I am."

Sharpe charged without saying a word, and swung his saber at
John's neck. The only problem, that's what he *remembered*
trying to do. He was now on the ground, the horse was
standing in the corner, and his head still vibrating.

"What is your quarrel with me?" asked John politely, giving
Sharpe the chance to get up. "I can tell you're not after
my head for the Quickening."

"You stole my wife from me!"

"Brigit?" asked John innocently. "I honestly didn't know
that she was married! She told me her husband died during
the war!"

"A likely story!" He charged again, and found that he was
gaining the upper hand. John felt like an old one, but his
skills were very poor, as if he didn't know quite how to
handle Sharpe's style -- or hadn't fought in a long time.
Within a moment, John was disarmed and bleeding.

An idea entered Sharpe's mind then, and he grinned wickedly.
While John was down, Sharpe pulled a length of rope that he
always kept hanging from the saddle, and tied him up in a
very unusual fashion. John was too wounded to struggle, but
when he began to heal, he did.

"Don't worry, John, I'm not going to hurt you -- but you're
going to wish that I'd killed you! You like to sleep around
with other mens' wives, eh? Well, it's about time you saw
yourself for what you actually are: an animal!"

John didn't quite understand what he meant by that, until he
left the room and returned about ten minutes later with a
very excited stallion. It was fidgeting around like it had
been fed some kind of drug.

Sharpe smiled, "Say hello to your prize stallion!"

"What do you mean?"

"Open wide!" Sharpe forced John's mouth wide open, laughing
at his incoherent screams...

...It was sometime later. Sharpe was waiting for Brigit to
show up, and for John to recover from the first phase of his punishment.

Curious as to what this man actually kept in his library --
many scholars tended to brag about what they study, and have
a library that never reflected their supposed knowledge.
Surprisingly enough, John was more of a master of
understatement than overstatement: his library was crammed
with enough old texts to fit in three offices.

What intrigued him was a bookshelf that was set separate
from the rest. After investigation, it revealed a set of
diaries -- in French, Latin, Greek, and a few other
languages he couldn't recognize. He could easily read the
French and Latin, and was pretty amazed by what he read.

Only, he hadn't been around immortals long enough to know
that Methos was supposed to be a myth. All he could gather
was that this guy was old, and pretty knowledgeable.

He went back to the room where Methos was tied up. He had
woken up and was trying to spit the bad taste out of his
mouth, without too much success.

"Well, Methos," smiled Sharpe. Methos snapped his head up
in astonishment. "Let's see how well you pass phase two of
your punishment. I call it: Mountain Through The Eye Of The
Needle."

Methos didn't know what he meant, but he was afraid to
imagine what it might mean.

"We just have to wait until Brigit gets here. I think she's
going to learn how much of a man you really are."

Sharpe...


*

...managed to look a little embarrassed, while Methos was laughing out loud. Duncan and Richie were looking somewhat shocked by the whole affair.

"Guinness, anyone?" asked Methos.

Sharpe took a swig of gin.

* * *


Axer and Nat were at his place. Kate was asleep in the bedroom, which made Nat feel weird. She didn't have any special feelings for Axer other than a little bit of respect and fear -- that episode in the morgue when they first met still rang in her mind -- but it still made her feel like she was somehow intruding.

Axer was drinking some tea, and Nat had a cup as well -- she preferred coffee, but she trusted Axer when he claimed that this stuff had "more caffeine per unit volume than Mountain Dew." That was a lot of caffeine.

"Tell me what happened to the vampire," Axer was saying. "I want the *real* story -- not some official report that most likely says nothing.

"I know you're concerned," soothed Nat, "but I don't think you want to know--"

"Cut the horse crap!" yelled Axer. "Might I remind you *what* I am?! The only thing that bothers me is not knowing the truth -- not learning it!"

Nat shook her head. "Somehow, her blood was turned into a polymer."

"That's impossible!"

"It's unexplainable," corrected Nat. "Since it happened -- it's not impossible."

"Have you done an analysis of the blood?"

"It's still being run by the university chemists, but their preliminary results say that the molecule is unrecognized by any of the data bases. We still need to determine exactly what this substance is.

"I couldn't find any point of entry -- injection seems to be the most logical means of entry -- so how this happened is baffling everyone. I called in some FBI agents -- they'll be up tonight."

"FBI agents?" Axer's head snapped up. "Their names wouldn't be Scully and Mulder, by any chance?"

"Do you know them?"

Axer laughed, "You don't know the beginning of it. Somehow I feel that things are falling into place. But back to the original subject -- I wonder if those men I saw were somehow creating that polymer at a distance -- perhaps through some physical means, rather than chemical?"

"I don't know what you're getting at?"

"What if one of those boxes was somehow directing chemical reactions? It sounds impossible, even to me, but what if all these bizarre murders are actually the testing of new weapons on the populace by some unscrupulous terrorist, or even government organization?"

Nat shook her head, "You're getting to be as bad as Nick!"

"Don't scare me."

* * * *


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