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

Chapter 5

The young man who walked through the door looked like he was a body-building construction worker wearing his Sunday best. His brown hair was combed nicely, his clean face freshly-shaven, and his clothes casual. He wore cowboy boots, a t-shirt that said 'Montana'.

Joe looked in his direction from where he was sitting with Bill MacMurdo and breathed a sigh of relief -- help had come. "Hey, Greg!"

"Joe," Greg's voice was a bass rumble, "I hear you need some help running the bar." He shook with his left hand -- there was no tattoo.

"Yeah. I'm need to leave town for a few days, maybe longer."

"That's no problem at all. When do you leave?"

"Right now."

Greg nodded.

Bill stood up, downing the last of the coffee. "Are you sure you want to do this, Joe?"

Joe nodded gravely, "If Kermit says that we've something strange going on, then it's a good idea to check it out."

Bill straightened up and set his shoulders "Then let's go."

* * *

Kate and Coleen were at the Raven, laughing out loud. Axe had been a bit leery about the two meeting -- he knew it wasn't like he was a two-timer, but it almost seemed that way to him. Surprisingly enough, once Kate learned who Coleen was, the two got along very well.

That didn't make Axer feel any better either.

The club was empty tonight for some strange reason, so when LaCroix and Nick barged through the front door, they saw it immediately. Then they saw who Nick was carrying.

"What - " Coleen ran over, with Kate a step behind her.

Axer was limp as a noodle, his mouth open and his eyes staring blindly upwards.

"What happened?" demanded Kate.

"It's a long story," said Nick. "Let me put him down first!"

LaCroix took the other limp figure downstairs to the basement while Nick explained what had happened earlier in the evening.

"I don't understand," said Coleen. "I think I'm missing
something here!"

Breathing out in irritation, Nick took a few more steps backward and explained about the murders and Axer's observation. It took a few moments for it all to sink home. Coleen shook her head, "I can tell you this -- if they're testing out electrogravity and remote control chemistry weapons, we're dealing with a bad group of people. I thought all that was science fiction, but I guess I was wrong!"

"You know about this?" Nick tilted his head.

She made a face, "When Axer was training me, he *forced* me to learn calculus, physics, *and* chemistry. I hated it, but it's amazing how much stuck with me." She looked at Axer, "It's sort of like learning Latin so you can speak with an ancient Roman."

LaCroix, who had just returned, snickered at that one. Kate looked at him with a worried look -- he was so uncharacteristically happy. "I think we're about to learn our answers. Do you care to come downstairs?"

Kate knew what might happen -- she *knew* LaCroix, "No thanks. I'm staying with Axer."

Coleen thought for a moment, and nodded. "I'm staying here."

"Nick?" asked LaCroix.

Nick nodded and followed him downstairs, where their prisoner was chained up to a medieval style rack. It was originally set up for the use of vampires who felt homesick for the old days, where people *really* knew how s/m was supposed to be done.

LaCroix had accumulated two millennia worth of observations of human nature as well as torturing/interrogation techniques. Nick felt nauseous when he realized that LaCroix fully intended to use the instruments he saw.

"Is this really necessary?" asked Nick.

"The last time I tried to question his kind, he killed himself and nearly destroyed the room." His look became distant. "He was programmed to kill himself if hypnotized -- but I don't believe he was conditioned to do so if tortured. I also think he'll be a bit more honest."

"If you have as much experience as you claim," retorted Nick, "then you'd also remember that people on the rack will swear to anything."

LaCroix smiled, "I know, but it's more fun this way."

* * *

The prisoner was slowly waking up, coughing and spitting. Then he opened his eyes and realized where he was. Rather than asking the usual cliche questions, he kept silent.

The room was dimly lit, the only light coming from a torch in the corner of the room. All the prisoner saw were shadows moving towards him. One whispered, "You will answer our questions."

The prisoner remained silent.

"Brave men are stupid men here. Do you want to leave intact? Do you want to spare yourself pain?"

Another voice spoke sternly, "He needs a bit of encouragement!"

"No!" pleaded the first voice sincerely. "No killing!"

The second voice laughed, "Killing is for amateurs! I guarantee he *won't* die!"

There was a brief silence. The prisoner began to sweat.

"What is your name?" whispered the first in a soft voice.

"Tim," stammered the prisoner.

"No it's not!" yelled the second slapping him in the face. "You have no name! You're not human -- only humans have names!"

* * *

Kate had moved Axer to a bed. He was still in a coma. His body was healthy -- even looked like it was enjoying a restful sleep -- but he just didn't have any response.

"Axer," she whispered, her hand slowly going through his hair, "I don't know if you can hear me, but I'm here. I --" She stopped, unable to speak. "I don't know what to say!" her voice started breaking. "I never expected this to happen to you! Don't die on me!" The last was a loud scream.

Kate broke down into choking sobs, her tears falling into Axer's face. "You're the only one I've ever loved," she whispered hoarsely. "I never could tell you that, and now it's too late... Why is it that we never say anything important to the ones we love?"

"Kate," Axer was just barely able to speak. His eyes opened, "Kate. You're back!"

Kate nearly jumped into the air. One moment, he was in a coma, and the next, he had spoken -- there was no transition. "What do you mean, I'm back?"

He looked around in confusion, "What am I doing here?"

"What do you remember?"

"I was walking into Reece's office, and he was giving me a hard time... Then I entered a nightmare." He began to weep like a child, "I thought I would never leave."

"Where were you?"

"I was in an empty corridor, and met every immortal I've ever killed. As I passed by and recognized each and every one, he woke up and tried to kill me. No -- that's not right! It was like a dream, but it was real too. They tried to become ME!" He grabbed at Kate tightly, pulling her closer to him. "Promise you won't leave me! I don't know what's real anymore!"

"What do you mean?"

His whisper was hysteric, "I'm remembering things that I *know* I never experienced. Conversations I never had. Lessons I never learned. It's too much! Are you a dream too?" His eyes were frantic, darting in all directions.

"Is that all that's troubling you?" she smiled. "I can make you forget everything, and remember this!"

Her kisses took his breath away, and her hands slowly moved, lightly touching him there -- and there -- and there --

He began to respond, the fear and anguish leaving his face, replaced by something that could only be called urgency.

Then the teeth sank in.

* * *

Tim: "Please, don't -- I can't --"

#1: "You don't have to do this to yourself

#2: "Please -- do it to yourself! I have such exquisite tortures planned for you!"

Tim's hand was immobilized on a block, with each finger separated and also immobilized. A vise was set around his first finger.

#2: "Please, *don't* tell me a *word*! I just *want* to crush your finger!"

#1: "He means it!"

The vise began to close -- it just touched the skin. Tim screamed in agony, even though the vise hadn't even begun to do its work.

Tim: "Stop! I'll tell you anything!"

#2: "I don't want to hear anything -- I want the truth!"

* * *

Coleen watched from the cracked door, a smile creeping up on her face. She didn't watch because she was a voyeur, but rather wanted to make sure that Axer truly was turning himself around. She was afraid for a long time that there was something wrong with him -- but this proved otherwise. She wasn't afraid that he was gay -- she snorted at that -- no, she was afraid that he was the type who was content with being alone, with nobody to love and nobody to love him back.

After watching this, she could be sure that this wasn't just some night-long relationship.

She tore herself away from the door -- fighting the temptation to go back -- and made her way downstairs to where she kept her belongings, where she kept a laptop computer.

Once it was powered up and connected to the phone lines, she started coasting alt.sci.physics, alt.conspiracy, and sci.physics. After a few moments, she found what she was looking for -- a few discussions about electrogravity, secret government weapons, Tesla, and government conspiracies.

She left a few postings on the newsgroups that said, "Desperately need to discuss electrogravity -- please respond ASAP."

Then she started to contact people by e-mail.

She was almost immediately tagged by a statement: "Request for talk by Accept (y/n)?"

Startled, she typed 'y'.

The screen turned blank, and began to fill with text: "You're playing a dangerous game, Coleen."

"Who are you?"

" That's all you need to know."

"I could finger you."

"Too bad you can't hear me laughing. We're just like AOL -- can't be fingered without having the right software and know-how, which I don't think you have. I believe you have a question to ask me?"

"What do you know about electrogravity?"

* * *

Kermit smiled, "It looks like Coleen has quite an imagination." Mulder and Scully were sitting on the other side of the monitor, so they couldn't see what he was typing. "She's asking me what I know about electrogravity."

Scully was looking bored. "Come on -- you can play chat some other time!"

Mulder shook his head, "No -- this *is* important. Can I take the driver's seat?"

Kermit enabled the proper security systems. "Go ahead. I want to see this!"

* * * *

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