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


Chapter 28


The black-box men and their reinforcements were all dead -- some blown to bits by Mulder and Scully, but most bashed, bludgeoned, and de-blooded. Nick and Janette were both exhausted, keeping a nervous eye in all directions.

Scully had fallen to her knees, unable to catch her breath or her nerves, so exhausted that she couldn't even tense a muscle, let alone move it.

Mulder was in a state of super-energy and super-excitement. Out of them all, he was the only one who had come through this feeling cleansed and charged. Although he knew deep down that he should be feeling horrible for causing so many deaths, he was honest with himself and admitted that he was exhilarated. He began to go around the bodies, trying to find an intact black box before any of the others recovered enough.

He found one that appeared undamaged. It was too big to hide on his person, so he hid it underneath some boxes. When the coast was clear -- maybe in a few days -- he would recover it.

The main doors were blasted open with some explosives then, and the Toronto police barged in, led by Reece, Detective Vetter, and someone that none of them recognized. This last one was a youngish man with a drawn gun and a rash attitude. He looked around with focused, almost nervous eyes, and seemed to recognize Mulder. The feeling was mutual -- even though Mulder could swear that he'd never met the man before.

"Spread out!" boomed Reece. "Move it! Move it!"

Special police units designed for this type of operation moved in, spreading out throughout the whole warehouse, and into the upper levels. Reece pulled his revolver and ran over to where Mulder and the others were, followed by Vetter and the other one. Of course, they were all too late, but it was a nice gesture. Mulder decided he'd have to send them a nice thank-you card.

"What the hell went on here?!" demanded Reece in a booming rumble, looking at all of the bloodied and blasted corpses in an expression that could only be called anger. Since Mulder was the only one with any apparent functionality, Reece addressed him, "Perhaps you could explain?"

"We were following some kidnappers here, and we were met with armed resistance. It was too late to call for backup, and so we dealt with it as best we could. If I may ask, sir, how did you know we were here?"

Mulder's unemotional expression and frank statements seemed to calm Reece down somewhat, "He did," nodding towards the unknown man. "Detective Peter Caine. He said that I needed to get some shock troops down here in a hurry -- claimed that 'his sources' said there was something going down."

Mulder nodded towards Caine, holding out his hand, "Agent Mulder, FBI."

Caine shook it, an odd look on his face as he nodded, "Nice to meet you."

Mulder continued his report to Reece, "It turned out that the kidnappers were also the black-box killers. We haven't been able to find out much about them up until now, but if we search this place -- which appears to be their headquarters -- we might be able to find some files, or other evidence that will give us a direct clue -- or a better hint -- as to what this group truly is and why they were testing electrogravity weapons on the populace."

If the situation weren't this grim, Reece would be smiling at Mulder's concise manner of communication. He just nodded, "Then get to work." He looked at Vetter, "Help Agent Mulder."

She nodded, and they both took a good look around. There were a lot of boxes here, and this was just the ground floor.

It was then that Mulder noticed that LaCroix was gone from where he had lay dead, but he noticed that Janette had also vanished, so he relaxed, figuring that it was she who had moved him.

Peter Caine looked around as well, letting memories flood him for a moment. It seemed as if those memories took over until he was in two times at once -- and the same place. The two times were superimposed on one another, each just as real as the other.

There were fewer boxes here now, in different arrangements, but this was the very warehouse where he and a very unusual bunch had fought the immortal Dimack, Jin Ming.

In the current time, he could scuff his feet on the floor and see the traces of the oiled net that had nearly proven their downfall.

He looked a few feet away, saying to himself, //That was the place where Duncan nearly killed Jin Ming before Pop reminded Duncan of his oath.//

The superposition left, and everything returned to normal. Reece looked at him. "Any thoughts?"

"Yeah," said Caine, "I think someone should demolish this warehouse. I think it's cursed. Do you realize that so far three 'incidents' have taken place here?"

Reece smiled, "But at least we'll know where to look next time."

"Next time?" Caine raised his eyebrow.

"Yeah. I'm something more of a cynic -- I say the half-full part of the glass just got drained." He frowned, "Thanks for reminding me -- I've *got* to do something about that water bottle!... ...and find the joker who filled it with Perrier..."

"Captain?"

Reece shook his head irritably, "Nothing! Let's get started."

Up above, Powys and Heimdall stood up, stretching their legs. So as not to make any noise, Powys just left the popcorn bag sitting on the beam before they left.

They might not have made any noise, but for some reason, Caine found himself looking upwards, and seeing two figures. A logger-type and... "Alan?!" he whispered.

"Excuse me," he said to Reece as he silently tracked the progress of the two above, without drawing attention from them or those on the ground level. They might have thought he was nuts, but they didn't even consider that he might be subtly looking up.

Powys and Heimdall went by different ways, and when Powys was about to walk out the back door, he was quite startled - - for once -- to hear the click of a 9mm behind him.

Caine stepped out, "All right, Alan, you have a hell of a lot of explaining to do. First Jin Ming, and now this. What the hell's your game, Welshie?"

Powys smiled uncertainly, his hands in his coat pockets, "Observing. Rolling the dice. Stirring the pot. Whatever you want to call it. You know full well that I don't interfere."

"I don't believe it. And I get enough of the poetry and code language from my dad -- I want a straight explanation from you."

"How much do you know of quantum physics?"

"CUT THE CRAP!" Caine yelled, his gun-hand tensing. "If *you* know your 'quantum physics', you should be able to explain it to a barmaid!"

"Feynman?"

"No. Axer Carrick. I met him at Tam O'Shanty's. He was playing 'drink scotch till you drop' with Strenlich." He stopped himself, shaking his head sharply, "Stop evading and answer my question!"

"You wouldn't know the answer if it hit you on the head." Powys' tone was patronizing.

"Oh yeah?" Caine looked pretty annoyed. "I think I'll get it."

Powys nodded, coming to a decision, "Very well. You do deserve an answer, and for an old partner's sake, I'll tell you. But -- are you sure you want it?"

"YES!" Caine's voice rose a little in irritation.

Powys nodded once more. "Just remember -- the truth sometimes hurts... a great deal."

In a movement so fast it was a blur, Powys threw a small figurine of a cat at Caine's forehead, hitting him with an audible 'thunk' and knocking Peter down -- and then knocking him out when his head hit the hard asphalt.

Powys stood over Caine's unconscious body, saying lightly, "See? I told you so! You *wouldn't* know the answer if it hit you on the head! And the truth *does* hurt!"

He left the cat figurine with Peter.

* * *

The 'shock troops', as Caine had called them earlier, barged into the office, only to find a decapitated man. The lay of his body and sword showed that he had somehow chopped off his own head, which had everyone scratching theirs. He had somehow performed an impossible feat -- nobody had the strength to chop off their own head. That's why they started to look for clues that someone else must have been here.

One of them made a call over the walkie-talkie, "This one needs assembly..."

[squawk] [murphle] "...cute! Really cute!" [pause] "The coroners on the list have a long backlog. We're going to have to borrow one." [pause] "Look for a Dr. Natalie Lambert. She's with Reece's crowd."

* * *

Mulroney was pulling on Axer's arm like a little child tugging at his mother's arm. "Come on! They'll be here any minute."

The ones who came that minute were Jay and Coleen, who ran up to them and almost scared Mulroney out of his wits; he demanded, "What are you doing here?!"

"Getting rid of those who were about to come any minute. You should be thanking me, you know."

Axer seemed to be quite pensive, his face nearly folded in thought, and spoke suddenly, "Everyone get out of here -- this place is going to blow!"

"What?" demanded Mulroney, disbelief -- and fear? -- on his face. "What's the problem?"

"Me," smiled Axer. "Now go!"

"Are you out of your mind?!" screamed Mulroney, grabbing at Axer. "First you're talking to yourself, and now you want to blow the place up?"

"I've never had a clearer mind," whispered Axer, firmly pulling Mulroney's hands off his jacket. "I understand what work is going on here, which is why this lab needs to be destroyed. I'm burning in hell before I see this work continue."

Coleen looked uncertainly at Axer. His expression was calm, as he usually was in a non-crisis situation, but he also looked... unusually focused, almost like Mulder. She pulled at Jay and nearly dragged him out of the lab. Mulroney followed her after a moment of hesitation.

Axer walked over to the power supply, and turned knobs at random.

A few minutes later, an explosion so horrible it could have been made from ten bombs rocked the very ground, throwing everyone for a little ways. Lightning and electrical fires erupted, and the sounds of fire sirens were heard.

Axer was the first one to raise his head from the ground, whispering "Let's move it!" He was the first to reach the fence, nearly sailing over it.

Mulroney was next, but he didn't follow Axer.

* * *

"Can you grab it?" yelled Methos from the top of the trap. He dangled a long rope from their climb down the hole. Richie tugged on it, and began to climb as Methos began to walk back. Within a moment, Richie was out.

"Whew!" he wiped sweat off his face. "I thought I was going to die in there -- I found two skeletons next to me!"

Methos nodded, "I imagine he's played that trick before. He thinks it's funny."

"Did you know that guy?"

"Not really. Forget him -- we have more important work to do..." he sighed deeply. "We have to go through the files and get whatever we can, and if this isn't the European Headquarters, we'll have to find out where it is. I have a hard time believing that a megalomaniac like Jesus shouldn't be doubted..."

Richie nodded, "Then let's get moving. I'll start on the west side; you start on the east."

* * *

Mulder was ready to pull out his hair. No LaCroix... No Cancerman... No files... No answers...

He looked at his watch -- 30 minutes since Reece had arrived. //Nnnhgh!! I need to stop drinking coffee!//

Nick had recovered and left so that he could get to shelter before sunrise -- and he had no idea where Janette was. Detective Caine had gone off on his own to check out something and had not returned yet. Scully was just now beginning to recover from her exhaustion.

Detective Vetter was the only one who was at all helpful, and seemed to catch onto his way of doing things pretty quickly. They had methodically -- that is, by Mulder's method -- searched the whole ground floor, and were now ready to move one level up, where the offices were.

Before they did, however, Caine stumbled his way in, rubbing the back of his head, "Damned Powys! I'll kill him!"

That shocked Mulder. "You *know* Powys?"

"Yeah! He was my partner back during that series of decapitation murders."

A lot of things clicked for Mulder, but he kept silent about that. He would have time to dig into it at a later time. "Where is he?"

"He's gone now -- he was hiding up in the beams," he nodded upwards, wincing in pain, "when I saw him, and I followed him out back. I tried to get some solid answers out of him, but he pulled a fast one."

"That doesn't look like a punch," Mulder observed, peering a little at the odd-shaped bruise on his forehead.

"It wasn't -- he threw *this* at me!" Peter produced a cat figurine. "I just got up a few moments ago. ...The last thing I remember him saying was, 'You wouldn't know the answer if it hit you on the head.' Some answer!"

"Let me see that!" snapped Mulder, grabbing it and examining it closely. "Of course!" He started laughing, almost doubling over.

"What is it? What does it mean?"

Mulder managed to stop laughing, "Don't you know what this is?"

"A cat?"

"It's Schroedinger's cat! This is too good!" He fell over, laughing again, tears streaming down his face.

Caine chalked it up to exhaustion. The guy was as wired as a chihuahua, and needed some sleep -- bad. He took back the cat. Maybe another someone he knew might be able to make sense out of it.

* * *

Axer and company made it back to the Raven in one piece, and just in time, because the sun had begun to rise. Jay made a big show of riding off, but Axer looked out the window long enough to see him pull back in on the other side and hide in the bushes.

"What a funny guy," he muttered. "A good thing it's not April the first yet..."

Coleen went to handle her own affairs, and so Axer was left with Kate, who was sort of nudging him down the hallway.

"Good idea," Axer muttered, "I need to crash."

Kate pouted, but nodded after a moment.

* * *

Richie found something. "Methos! Look at this!"

Methos ran over from the adjoining room only to see an old book, perhaps a century old. It was a diary written in an old-fashioned cursive that was nearly illegible due to its sloppiness.

It was a Watcher's book. The Chronicles of Odin.

Methos and Richie looked at one another.

More books were found in the same area -- a whole series of Chronicles: Tyr, Heimdall, Baldur, Loki... A final one said, The Prophecies of Ragnarok.

Richie looked questioningly at Methos, "If these guys are supposed to be gods, then why do the Watchers have chronicles for them?"

Methos scratched his head, "It could be that the Watchers didn't know that they were gods. Perhaps they thought that they were immortals playing at gods -- or were just plain immortals. Or it could be that Powys lied to you all."

"There's more! Here's one called Non Videt, Sed Video."

"What?? Let me see that!" He leafed through it. "This is it!"

"You can read that?"

"Don't you know Latin?!" He took a step back, "Sorry. I forgot -- American education is substandard!"

The sounds of guards could be heard.

"Let's go!" whispered Richie.

They quickly gathered the books and were off. They left just in time. If they hadn't, they'd've been answering some pretty awkward questions.

* * * *


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