The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part V -- Riding the Wave
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995



Chapter 7

Richie drove the rental car, looking in shock at all the death and destruction. He'd been in bad neighborhoods in his life, and he'd seen riots -- but nothing on this scale. This was the type of riot you'd expect to see somewhere else, but never in a city like this.

It might as well have been some natural disaster that caused all the damage, because in a normal riot situation, the rioters are still hanging around with demands for the emergency aid to come, even though they were the ones who'd torched their own shops and homes. In this case, there was nobody around, demanding emergency aid or rushing to meet the news crews. Aside from the wounded, struggling to stay alive, there was nobody on the streets.

That's why they reached the Raven far quicker than they normally would've -- they had no traffic to contend with, and the road obstacles were easily avoided. With wide eyes, they parked near the front door and saw the puddles of dried blood and the dead bodies. The emergency crews were still working on the few living bodies, so stressed over the 'close-call' cases that they couldn't worry about those already dead.

Richie knocked on the front door, joking, "Get ready to meet your first vampire!" They both felt the presence of an immortal, and looked at one another. "I wonder who it is."

The one who opened the door was a man that neither of them recognized. He looked almost like an FBI agent, had a frown on his face, and dark sunglasses over his eyes. "Yes?"

Richie was taken aback by the man's intensity and blatant apathy. "We're friends of Nick," Richie stammered. "We just came into town and thought we'd stop by."

"This isn't the best of times," the doorman frowned even more.

Methos interrupted, "It's not the best of times for us either. It's vitally important that we be allowed in. Would Axer be in, by any chance?"

"You know Axer?" That seemed to take him back a bit, but it was hard to tell with the sunglasses. "Who are you?"

"I'm Adam Pierson, and this is Richie Ryan."

Something suddenly occurred to the doorman. He saw the tattoo on Methos' wrist, and did a total turnaround. "Come on in! Sorry, but I had to make sure who you were."

Methos nodded, "Quite understandable. Don't mention it, Mr.?..."

"Kermit Griffin," he smiled, holding out his hand. "I thought I recognized you from somewhere! Have you come any closer to finding Methos?" That seemed to be humorous to Kermit.

Adam smiled, "No... but the work continues."

Richie looked around the place, "It looks different." //...and I don't know if I like it.// Maybe it was because it looked like this place was ready for a siege.

"I'm sure LaCroix would be thrilled to hear that," smiled Mulder lopsidedly, looking a bit sick in the face. Regardless, he looked as if he was making preparations to leave. What Mulder didn't know was that Scully was making some discreet preparations herself.

Richie tilted his head, "What are *you* doing here?"

"I'd ask the same of you," Scully looked a bit shocked to see him. "I'm almost afraid to ask why."

Richie and Methos looked at one another. Methos spoke first, "It's a long story that we'll have to cut pretty short."

Kermit smiled at that, "I like short stories."

Richie then noticed Halscombe, sitting in the corner as if he'd lost his mind. Maybe he had. "What happened to him?" He nodded with his head. Halscombe was staring at the wall with a deadpan expression, rocking his head side-to-side.

Coleen decided to rejoin the human race after her chair- throwing session with the TV, which was beyond repair. Her tone was still pretty subdued, with a base of weariness underneath it. "That's Halscombe. I wouldn't worry about him if I were you."

"What happened?" he repeated. //What happened to the both of you? You look like hell.//

She laughed bitterly, "I don't even know the half of it, but it doesn't matter. He's in league with the Invisible Ones."

"We don't know that for sure," protested Mulder and Scully at the same time, for totally different reasons. They gave one another odd looks.

"He admitted it himself," snorted Coleen, standing up. "That's all I need!"

"What's gotten *you* so worked up?" asked the soft-spoken Powys, walking into the room silently. He even managed to startle Kermit with his entrance. "You'd think he'd done something to you."

"He started it all," she muttered.

"No," he shook his head. "He's just the symptom, and a poor victim at that. He's no more to blame than a pawn. I'd be walking in his shoes a mile or two before giving him that kind of look."

Mulder and Scully looked a bit angry at that. Mulder snapped, "And what put *you* in a good mood?"

Powys spread his arms widely, as if he was enjoying the first glow of the morning sun, "It's another day. What more excuse do I need?"

Methos' eyes had widened in shock, and it was obvious that he was at a loss as to what he should do -- draw a sword or use his fists. "Alan?"

"Ah, Methos. How nice to see you after... how long was it... three centuries?" His tone was quite jolly.

Kermit nearly fell back in his chair, "*METHOS*?!?! *YOU'RE* METHOS??!" His eyes were bulging, and his hands gripped the table.

Methos looked as if he truly wanted to cut off Powys' head right then and there, but he'd never been sure if Powys was his kind of immortal or not. He still couldn't feel the man's presence, and the Buzzes of three other immortals didn't help matters. The fact that the man had shaken the world for at least a millennium, to his knowledge, still didn't convince him the man had a Quickening. But there was a way to find out.

Powys smiled again.

* * *

Nick leaned back on the sofa, half-asleep. Janette lay next to him, his arm draped over her. They had argued through the day, and had agreed to disagree. Janette still thought he was a fool, and he still felt -- well, he didn't know what he felt. His emotions were telling him to do two different things.

At least they weren't screaming at one another. Janette wasn't throwing anything within reach at him, and he wasn't posturing like a fool.

"So," he whispered, "what are you going to do?"

Before Janette could answer, there was a knock on the door.

Before any of them could say or do anything, the door opened. It was Nat, who had been talking as if she were already having a conversation with Nick. "You didn't answer your phone, and you're not at the Raven, so I thought I'd stop by to see if you're all right. I--"

Nat stopped suddenly as she realized that Nick and Janette were both staring at her as if she had lost her mind.

Nat's face drained of blood pretty quickly, making her look almost like a vampire. She took a step back, stammering, "I- I thought I -"

She couldn't finish her sentence. A chaos of emotions on her face, she left the way she came.

Janette looked at Nick in honest confusion. He was quite baffled himself -- so baffled that he couldn't even stammer in confusion.

On the other side of the door, Nat leaned against the wall, "What am I doing here? Why do I even try?..."

She looked at her arms, still healing from the needle marks. The effects had long since died off, and she had in her own mind become the person she once was. Gone were the mental haze and the strange compulsions.

When she looked at the door once more, it was with anger. "I'll get to you later, Janette!"

But first, she had a score to settle with Coleen.

"How ironic," whispered the man in the shadows, holding a black box in his hand. He adjusted a knob and followed her discreetly. //You'd think I wouldn't even need the box...//

* * *

Reece was driving pretty fast down the road, a cellular in his hand. His whole face was a mask of annoyance and anger. It wasn't a furious anger -- more like the special anger one reserves for all bureaucrats.

##That's about all I can tell you for now.##

"Thanks, baldie. You've really helped me out. How long 'til you think you can get up here?"

##As soon as I can.##

"Good enough."

##Crack some skulls for me.##

"That's what I'm going to do," smiled Reece as he put down the phone and illegally parked at the base of the skyscraper.

His face was a dark storm cloud as he entered through the revolving door, ignoring the doorman and two security guards, who were so startled by the man's total ignorance of their presence that it took a moment for them to spring into action.

"Sir?" one of them put a hand on his shoulder.

Reece turned around, pulling out his badge. "Yes?"

"Sorry, sir," stammered the guard, pulling back a little. "Can we help you?"

"No."

Without another glance or word, he walked to the elevator, not even bothering to look at the directory. He knew where he needed to go.

The elevator was pretty opulent... and fast. It took him to the top floor in just moments, even though it was quite a ways up. //If only they can get the elevators back at the station working faster than a crawl...//

From the elevator, it only took him a few more moments for him to reach the spacious office, where the woman sat on her comfortable armchair. Her face was in the shadows, only the tip of her long cigarettello visible.

"I've been expecting you," she spoke in a crisp, metallic voice.

"I figured as much," he deliberately pulled out the foulest, cheapest cigar he'd been able to buy on short notice. He'd probably be coughing blood for the next week, but he thought it would be well worth the look on her face.

Unfortunately, the shadows hid her face too well. He could hear her snort, however. "What do you want?"

"You mean there's something you *don't* know?" He smiled as he took a few deep puffs, spreading the foul smoke everywhere. He almost choked then and there, it was that bad. He took a few more steps towards her desk. "I want to know what you're up to. I don't know what you have against Axer Carrick, but I can sure smell politics when the fumes come wafting my way."

"So *that's* what brought you here... I thought it was the monthly bribe I send your way." He let that pass. "I can't help you."

"That's where you're wrong."

She leaned forward so that the sunrays lit up her face. It was hideous.

"My god..."

Her eyes narrowed, "You said something?"

"What happened to you?"

"You have a lot of tact," she snorted again, taking another deep drag. "It's none of your business."

"Fair enough, but Axer Carrick *is* my business."

"And it's none of mine. I can't really help you. I don't associate with murderers."

"No, but you pay others to do that association. The word says that you paid a million dollars to get a videotape of Axer in action, and then you had the tapes sold to the news stations. But why would you want to do something like that?"

"You're wasting your time."

"And now I'm about to waste yours." He brought out a legal paper. "You're under arrest."

"On what charge?" she demanded in utter shock.

"The news stations presented information which they claimed came from the police. That information had to come from somewhere, and it wasn't the police. The fingers point at you."

"And what if I did? I'll be back out in an hour!"

Reece just smiled. It was a cold, unforgiving smile.

* * * *


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