The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part IV -- Reading the Endtrails
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Scully and Mulder arrived at the Toronto Airport, carrying their sparse belongings with them. The atmosphere was calm, and even the children seemed well-behaved. Lawrence Welk music played on the PA system.
"You know," Mulder shook his head. "It just doesn't feel right."
"What do you mean? Nothing out of the ordinary is going on."
"That's just my point! We haven't had any bizarre visitors, disruptions, or guys with sunglasses firing blindly into the crowd."
Scully smiled. "Oh yes, remember that spot over there?"
"All too well." It seemed to put him in a better mood, however. It was *the spot* -- the place where the two FBI agents, an ex-Fed, several immortals, and a vampire had all converged at the same time. What had happened afterward was history.
Uneventfully, they met Dr. Natalie Lambert, the Toronto Coroner. She stood as if she were impatient and dreading to see them at the same time. She held out a nervous hand, "At last -- the cavalry's arrived!"
Mulder looked at Scully, his eyebrow raised, murmuring, "That's a rare welcome."
Scully elbowed him in the ribs, but Nat didn't seem offended.
* * *
Axer and Nick were in the only multimedia conference room of the police station. It not only had a blackboard and slide projector (Nick was silently relieved), but also several computers, a computer-projector, a transparency projector, and a Pentium with a complete multimedia system -- which was what Nick didn't like.
Nick was totally lost in this room -- he still had an old IBM complete with the yellow and black monitor and a daisywheel printer. When confronted with the different types of computers, operating systems, connections, programs, and so on, he just wanted to scream, "Calgon, take me away!"
His head sank into his hands. //Great! Now commercials are running in my head!//
Axer was in a near-trance state, his fingers flying so fast that they were quite literally a blur. His hands hovered in place, not even twitching, the fingers dancing all over the board. Very few things impressed Nick; *this* impressed him, even though it was something pretty mundane.
Nick looked over Axer's shoulder and saw several different windows up. In one, text was typed so fast that Nick found it hard to read at the same rate it was written. Two other windows showed the computer status. The fourth showed a BBC transcript of a news report. Not only were those functions going, but Axer also had a music CD playing -- some kind of heavy metal music. Nick didn't complain about the music, since he figured that the music helped Axer concentrate.
Occasionally, Axer would switch to some other function, flipping through windows and executing commands so quickly that Nick couldn't even make sense out of it.
//How does he do it?// Nick wondered. //It's hard enough for me to accept changes in fashion, and here Axer is -- older than LaCroix -- and he changes even faster than the times do!//
He had long since given up trying to anchor Axer in this world, and resigned himself to watching the show.
Tracy broke the silence, walking through the door with that innocent smile on her face. Nick couldn't help but wonder if that was all an act. She took a look at Axer, and looked at Nick with questioning eyes. He nodded through the door, and they both walked out of the room.
"Has he made any progress?" she asked him.
"I don't know," Nick shook his head. "He's like a madman. I can't make any sense out of what he's doing -- I hope he *does* make sense when Scully and Mulder get here."
Tracy looked shocked. "They're the feds coming up here?"
"Yes. I figured that they would be the best consultants -- they have a reputation for handling the difficult cases."
"If this is a difficult case, I'd be afraid to find out what you call an impossible case!"
Nick laughed, "The night is young." He sighed deeply, "I'm going to stay with Axer until the presentation. I don't know what else we can do for now."
"I'm going out for dinner, then. I'd offer you some -- but I know, you're on a special diet." She just remembered something, "The Captain wants to see you."
"What's it about?"
"He didn't tell me."
They parted ways as she left for dinner and Nick headed for the Captain's office, but he was spared a trip. The large, usually jovial man met him in the hall.
"You wanted to see me, Captain?"
Reece nodded. "I understand you have an 'independent' consultant working with you other than the two FBI agents."
"Yes. I've worked with him on a few other cases over the years, and he's proved to be most informative."
"How come I've found out about it only a few moments ago?"
Nick didn't show any of his nervousness, "I got here only an hour ago, and I didn't want to disturb you."
Reece accepted that. "Don't worry about it. Why don't you tell me about him?" It wasn't quite a request.
"Well... his name is Axer Carrick, and he's an expert at pretty much everything."
"Everything?... How is he useful in this case?"
"For one, he knows how to use computers," he gestured with his head towards the multimedia room. Reece nodded sympathetically -- he didn't even have a computer. "But he was also an eyewitness who tried to save the life of one of the victims. He volunteered to help us out."
"How is he related to any of the victims?"
"He didn't even know the one he brought in. He was just one of those bystanders who gets involved."
Reece puffed up his cheeks as he blew out, "I wish we had more people like that... What does this guy do for a living?"
"Right now, he's retired. But he used to be a researcher back in the States -- environmental physics, that sort of thing."
"Well, why don't you get back to work -- but don't worry about interrupting me whenever you need to pass me any information." The look in his eyes was a lot firmer than his jovial tone. He looked down at the bottled water. "They remembered to fill it!" He took a cup, then spit it out, yelling to everyone within earshot, "Who put Perrier in the water bottle?!"
Nick returned to the conference room, and saw that Axer was still typing away. He sat a few feet behind him again, just staring at the warp-speed text flying across the screen.
"Yes?" asked Axer, still typing.
"Nothing," said Nick, walking away.
"What's on your mind?"
"Don't tell me that. You've been pacing back and forth for the last hour. That tells me you're pondering something -- it had better be profound." He smiled a little at that one.
"How can you do all this at once?" demanded Nick. "And how can you keep up with the times? It's the best I can do just to remember what's popular and who are the current movie stars!"
"I've talked with LaCroix about similar issues. I think your problem is that you're oriented towards the past. I'm oriented on the future, so I'm always trying to stay a jump ahead. How else do you think I was a successful scientist for so long?" He stopped typing, "Done -- and just in time!"
The door opened, revealing Nat, Scully, and Mulder. Tracy followed them with a large styrofoam container of salad and steamed rice.
Nick played the host, "Agents Mulder and Scully, I believe you remember my partner, Detective Vetter?"
Mulder nodded, and Scully smiled -- but her smile faded when she saw Axer at the computer. //Great!// she thought sarcastically. //Just the person I wanted to see!//
Axer's thoughts were more along the lines of, //Oh great! Here comes the Miss Abrasive Personality Queen!// He held a good poker face, but it was clear that he wasn't thrilled by her presence either. "I take it that you two have been sufficiently briefed?"
Mulder and Scully looked at one another and nodded. Mulder still had a zealous look in his eye that had become more intense these last few months; Scully looked as if she were going to be sick.
"Well, why don't you have a seat, and I'll make my report," suggested Axer.
Captain Reece entered the room then, and everyone turned to look at him, and he waved his hand, "I've been briefed. Carry on."
Axer nodded, and flipped off the lights once everyone was seated. He turned on the computer-projector system, and the first slide was an unmarked map of the city, "I've spent the last few hours putting all the available data into a database, and I've come up with some rather interesting patterns. This is a map of Toronto. Now, let's look at Toronto with the crime locations superimposed..."
There was an audible and collective gasp of shock. Red dots indicated the locations, and to their utter disbelief, it formed the pattern of a happy face, minus one eye.
"Ladies and gentlemen, although this appears to be the work of one or more individuals with a particularly bizarre sense of humor, allow me to demonstrate that the crime scenes are brilliantly chosen -- look at the nature of these sites." He moved to the next slide, which blew up many of the sites. "These are *all* isolated alleyways. They usually have only one entrance and exit, are in crime-ridden neighborhoods, and are full of undesirables. If someone were to notice any unusual activities, it would most likely be misreported -- if reported at all. I'm willing to bet that if anyone saw anything like I did, they wouldn't have lived to tell the tale."
Reece frowned at that one. He appraised Axer then and there. //For a research scientist, he looks pretty young AND athletic... And what scientist would carry a -- shotgun? -- underneath his trenchcoat? And what is that I see sticking out? Nick has a *lot* of explaining to do!//
"Since I am the only eyewitness who has stepped forward, my analysis of the situation might be somewhat biased. After all, I won't be calling my own observations 'supposed' and 'alleged.'
"Here's the basic story. A group of individuals possess technology that is simply nonexistent in the public domain. We're dealing a group possessing instruments that might even be based off of electrogravity." Mulder's eyebrows shot up in shock, and his note-taking became a great deal less discreet. He was now taking notes furiously.
"I think we can safely say that the only organs affected during these murders, with the exception of one, focused on the brain and nervous system. The most recent one involved the blood polymerization, so my prediction is that the next series of murders will be of a similar nature.
"The question still remains -- how did this happen? My reckoning is that the instruments either enable the traceless introduction of a substance that produces the desired effects, that is, the destruction of a selective organ by chemical means, or they directly cause the damage. The technology is beyond me, so I can't give you any mechanisms, but I can't envision the technology being impossible or inconceivable -- just unreached in the public arena.
"There also remains the question, 'why?' There have been many instances in history where soldiers practiced their killing techniques and weapons on the civilian populace -- the more peasant-like the better. The Japanese even had a name for the practice, although I can't for the life of me remember what it is."
Axer wrapped up his report by showing some photos from the 1950s and archived material dug out of U.S. Army vaults -- released only by the Freedom of Information Act -- that showed that electrogravity experiments were not farcical, and that the world powers still believe it to be a sensitive area. It ended with a photo of Nikola Tesla.
"This is to prove a point -- we've had the theoretical visions since before the turn of the century, and Tesla swore that his visions often came as visions. I think that we have enough evidence to show that there has always been a secret group within the major powers invested in destructive technologies, and that this group has embraced the newest frontier -- and isn't afraid to use it."
The lights turned back on, making everyone squint. Reece had re-evaluated Axer one more time. His expression was very, very grim. As everyone stood up to stretch their legs, Reece tapped Axer on the shoulder, "Could I see you in my office, please?"
Axer's response was somewhat absent-minded. "Sure."
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