The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part IV -- Reading the Endtrails
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Nick and Axer sat in Captain Reece's office, facing the captain as if they were facing a firing squad. Reece was chewing on a piece of beef jerky, deep in thought. It was only for a few seconds, but it seemed to last for a bit longer. Although both Nick and Axer were centuries old and feared very little in the way of physical danger, they were afraid of Reece.
He finally spoke, "I think you have a lot of explaining to do."
Nick spoke, "What do you mean - ?"
"Cut the crap! I can spot a killer in a crowd of civilians any day! I don't know what State-side agency sent you here, and I don't care how many of you come into my territory, but I would prefer to be *TOLD* about these things!"
"Agency?" laughed Axer sardonically. "You're right that I'm from the States, but my only role in government work was with the Department of Energy when I worked at Hanford, and I don't think they count."
"Then perhaps you'd care to explain why it is that you're carrying a shotgun, and what looks like two military-type pistols under your trenchcoat? I've yet to meet a scientist who's as armed as you are."
Axer smiled, "No, I assume you haven't. I guess I can also correctly assume that you think that everyone should be good little sheep and let the police handle everything -- and that good citizens have no business protecting themselves from anything and everything?"
Nick felt like taking a few steps back; Reece got visibly angry and stood up. "I don't like your attitude, Carrick!"
"And I don't like yours, but that doesn't make me uncivilized, does it?" Calm and collected, he even smiled again, warmly. "Why don't you get to the point?"
"What agency are you with?" Reece repeated.
"I'm going to say this only once, so listen well -- if you insist on playing the inquisitor, then you've only yourself to blame for what happens next. *I AM A MEMBER OF NO AGENCY.* *I DON'T WORK FOR ANYONE!* *YOU HAVE NO REASON TO BE HOUNDING ME WHEN I AM AN ESSENTIAL PART OF YOUR INVESTIGATION.*"
Reece was fuming, "I don't take that crap from anyone -- you hear me? I don't take threats, back-talk, or evasions! You'd better spill the beans now, or --"
"OR WHAT?" interrupted Axer. He made no threatening moves, and didn't raise his voice, but it had a quality to it that made it seem like he was shouting. Even Nick was knocked back by it. The voice was as soft as a whisper -- Nick would always remember that. "WHAT HAVE I DONE, EH? I'M DOING YOU A GODDAMN FAVOR, AND HERE YOU ARE THREATENING ME. YOUR COPS PAY INFORMANTS AT LEAST TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR MEASLY HINTS, AND LET THOSE MONSTERS HAVE THEIR WAY ON THE STREETS BECAUSE THEY CAN HELP YOU OUT WITH THE HIGH-PROFILE CASES.
"AND HERE YOU ARE, TREATING ME LIKE I'M SOME KIND OF CRIMINAL. WHAT KIND OF AN IDIOT ARE YOU? I'M VOLUNTEERING FOR YOU, I DON'T CHARGE A CENT FOR MY LABOR -- WHICH WOULD BE MORE THAN YOU COULD AFFORD IF I DID CHOOSE TO DEMAND PAYMENT -- AND WITHOUT ME, YOU'LL NEVER SOLVE THIS CASE.
"AND LOOK AT MY RECORD. YOU DON'T FIND ME RAPING, KILLING, OR WORSE -- AND YET THIS IS WHAT YOU CONDONE EVERY DAY IN THE MONSTERS OUT THERE. MY RECORD IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD, AND INDISPUTABLE. WHY DON'T YOU TAKE A LOOK AT THAT AND ASK YOURSELF WHY YOU'RE ACTING LIKE SUCH AN IDIOT? I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYONE AS MORONIC AND ABRASIVE AS YOU!"
Axer had barely spoken above a whisper, but Reece was knocked back in his chair -- wide-eyed and pale, which as quite an accomplishment for someone with dark skin. His fingers were twitching like he'd drunk a pot of espresso, and he kept on trying to say something, but he couldn't even get out a stutter.
Axer stood up and left, saying in a normal voice that seemed very soft-spoken and whispery now, "You have your wish. I'm leaving, and when you come back on your knees begging for my help, you know what I'll say."
It took a few moments for Nick and Reece to recover. Reece felt similar to a bumbling rookie who just got chewed out by the Governor for losing the case of the century; Nick felt like the poor guy who'd witnessed it, which he had.
The thing that bothered Reece the most was that every word that Axer said was right on target: every day, Reece let trash get away with much worse things than carrying concealed weapons and possibly being more than he appeared to be.
But he *would* take Axer up on his offer and check out his record.
Nick stood up and shook his head back and forth a few times. "Did you have any more questions?"
Reece glared at him, so he left, following Axer, who was walking a little stiffly.
"Axer," called Nick, "wait up!"
Axer kept on walking, and didn't even acknowledge him. When Nick put a hand on his shoulder, he was savagely thrown to the ground with a broken wrist.
Axer's eyes were full of a powerful demonic fury, "Back off!" It looked like he was trying to hold back grabbing his sword. Everyone in the room was looking at them now, but Axer didn't care.
Nick, of course, was pretty shocked by all this. "What --"
"I SAID, BACK OFF!!" His voice had become a sharp bass, and this time he was actually yelling.
When Nick recovered, Axer was gone, and everyone in the room was looking at him strangely.
* * *
Mulder, Scully, Nat, and Tracy were talking in the multimedia room when Axer stormed into the room. Mulder was about to say something, but he immediately clamped his mouth shut once he got a good look at his face. Nat turned pale, averting her face. Scully looked shocked and backed up a step or two.
Tracy was completely oblivious, asking lightly, "What did the Captain have to say?" She was lucky to be alive -- all she got was a glare.
Axer said nothing, grabbed some of his equipment in a dignified manner, and left without saying a word.
Nick came in a few moments later, looking pretty shaken, "Where is he?"
"He left a moment ago," Tracy looked concerned. "He was sure mad about something."
Nick made a face and sprinted from the room. Mulder and Scully looked at one another.
"I won't ask," was all Nat said.
* * *
When Nick caught up with Axer once more, they were on the sidewalk.
"Axer! What's gotten into you?"
Axer drew his sword, nearly frothing at the mouth, "I TOLD YOU TO BACK OFF! WILL I HAVE TO KILL YOU TO MAKE YOU BACK OFF?"
Nick stayed back a few feet. "What's wrong with you?" The effect of the voice was wearing off, but still had power.
Axer didn't answer, but attacked instead, nearly managing to cut Nick's head off. Nick decided enough was enough, he backed off a little, looking deep into Axer's eyes, ^^Put down the sword, Axer.^^
Axer didn't even blink. He moved in, thrusting his sword through Nick's heart. Nick, in pain yet unfazed, grabbed both of Axer's hands and pulled them away from the sword.
Axer was strong, but not strong enough -- or so Nick thought. Nick was driven to his knees by a grappling move -- and now he no longer held onto Axer's hands. Instead, his own hands were bent back to the breaking point, and the bones were levered so that he couldn't break free.
"DON'T DO THAT AGAIN. YOU MIGHT NOT LIVE NEXT TIME."
* * *
LaCroix was at the Raven, watching the flow of humanity. It looked like it was going to be another uneventful night.
//Nothing to do, nothing to think... Another night...//
Suddenly, something gripped at the edge of his senses -- a tingling that became much stronger. It was more of a mental sensation than a physical one -- something that demanded his attention, screaming, 'I'm here!'
LaCroix walked out the front door, and the sensation became stronger. He took to the air and followed the feeling, and a few minutes later arrived at the source of this feeling. Nick and Axer were in a fight, and it looked like Axer was winning.
It was Axer that he felt, and he wouldn't have even known about Nick's presence if he wasn't looking at him. Normally, it was the other way around -- something strange was going on.
Nick had just been stabbed through the chest -- the sword was just then yanked out -- and looked like he'd had a cross shoved in his face. Axer had a look of utter madness in his eyes, a madness he'd seen in one other place.
"What is going on?" demanded LaCroix, landing and moving between Nick and Axer.
The look of madness in Axer's face suddenly left him, and he looked around with a look of total confusion, "How the hell did I get out here?" Then he looked at the bloody sword in his hand. "Huh?"
Nick looked just as confused, but LaCroix smelled a rat. Then he sensed a man in the distance running off as if he were being chased. He looked for the source and saw a figure in black running for a car.
"Stay with Axer," commanded LaCroix, following the running man -- who didn't run that far. He was pathetically slow, managing only to reach the door before LaCroix put a crushing grip on the man's shoulder.
The man dropped the black box he was carrying, and when it landed on the ground and sprayed sparks for a few moments, LaCroix could hear Axer's agonized scream in the distance -- a scream that cut off abruptly.
Acting on instinct, LaCroix didn't plant any suggestions, but rather put a firm hand over the man's mouth and nose until he passed out from lack of air. He carried the man over his shoulder and flew over to where Nick and Axer was. Axer was one the concrete, spasming and gibbering insanely, speaking in several languages at once. Then he stopped. Nick looked up at him, "Did that man have a black box?"
"Yes -- he dropped it when I caught up with him."
"Well, that box was probably doing something to Axer."
LaCroix nodded in the direction of the man he was carrying, "This man can tell us all we need to know, once I take a few precautions. I don't think we need to let the mortals know about this." It wasn't a polite suggestion.
* * *
Another man had watched this whole affair, and once everyone had moved on, made a phone call, "Yeah, it's me... I *did* leave the Watchers, but sometimes duty calls... I think I have a bit of a situation here... Yeah, that one... Look, can you do me a favor and get both of them out here -- this situation's bad!... We need to move out of the woodwork for once, or it'll be a lot more than shit hitting the fan..." He took off his sunglasses and stared at the blood on the sidewalk. In all of his years of doing mercenary work, and his years of Watching earlier on, Kermit had never seen flying men before -- sword wielders were a familiar sight, though.
Kermit scratched his head. He'd been through the database a lot of times, and he could recite the names of all the immortals like a mantra; with each name came a face that he could remember with his photographic memory. He wasn't as good with sounds, but he was perfect when it came to images and anything written down on paper. He'd never seen the sword-swinger before, and he had a look about him that said he was old.
//Hmm... Must have slipped through the cracks -- if he's stayed a secret, it must be because he's a decent guy...//
"Kermit?" asked an astounded voice behind him, one that sounded very familiar. He turned around and saw none other than 'Spooky' Mulder and someone else who looked like an FBI agent.
"What are you doing here?" A lot of suspicions rose to the surface of his mind -- Mulder's presence could explain a great many things.
"Not much -- just working on a case."
"What *kind* of case?"
Mulder smiled helplessly. "Need you ask?"
Kermit found that he was rubbing his hands together.
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