The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part V -- Riding the Wave
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Note: Chapters 13, 14, and 15 were originally labelled chapters 13A, 13B, and 13C - Tia'RaHu
Janette opened her eyes. The sun had set, and Nick still
dozed against the arm of the sofa, his face troubled
//Sleeping like a mortal... he might actually get his wish.// The thought sent chills down her spine. Although she could remember every moment she'd had as a mortal, it seemed like a distant memory. It was like growing up in another country -- say, China -- as a young child, and growing to maturity in a different land. Though the memories of the old land would stay, the language and culture would go unless those were brought with the child. Janette hadn't brought any souvenirs of her humanity with her, and after all this time, she didn't miss them.
"Good evening," said a cold and dead voice.
Janette jumped up, truly startled, and searched for the source of the voice. "Vasilnek."
Vasilnek was dressed in a manner similar to Mozart, with even similar materials. The only differences between his appearance and Mozart's was the hair -- his head had no wig or powder. The hair was straight-black, and tied into a neat ponytail. Not a *single* hair was out of place. His skin was perfectly pale, without a single blemish or roughness. Not even the faintest touch of a shadow.
He smiled, bowing grandly -- but his expression was still cold. "I'm so pleased that you remember me. I just wished to congratulate you on *such* a good job. In the brief moments you have returned, you've managed to unleash such chaos that even I am amazed. Even though you have not managed to neutralize Dr. Lambert, your causes leave such effects that even we are forced to admire." His glib tongue coupled with his dead expression made a frightening combination.
Janette felt a shiver of fear roll through her nerves, but she hid it well. "You have what I require?"
"Yes," Vasilnek held up a single vial. "This is all that you will ever get from me. Use it well." His pause seemed almost human. "You *do* know how to use this, do you not?"
Janette nodded. "You drink it, and fast for a full day and night."
Vasilnek nodded. "You are correct." He handed her the vial, which was unlabelled with a screw-top. "I am baffled as to why you would want this, but it's your decision." He looked in her eyes directly -- something he rarely did, "I was correct. It's not for you... it's for him." He looked at Nick. "Is that not his decision?"
"It *will* be."
Vasilnek nodded, then silently walked out the door, seeming almost human. But Janette knew better -- Vasilnek just happened to be the eccentric among the Invisible Ones. All of them were so inhuman that they seemed closer to rocks than humans -- they only happened to look human.
Nick began to stir, and Janette began to think to herself. //Do I *really* want to do this? Was it worth it?// She looked at the liquid once more, which was clear as water.
When Nick opened his eyes, Janette had hidden the vial. She couldn't bring herself to use it yet. It was too soon.
* * *
Methos stood up, raising his voice, "The charter leaves in
an hour. I ask you again, join us -- all the signs point
towards the Landing."
Axer shook his head, "I'm sorry, but I don't see any signs pointing to the Landing. They all seem to be pointing here." Before Methos could protest, Axer added, "I *know* what that book says, but I don't believe in prophecy."
Methos looked at everyone else, silently pleading. Everyone -- Joe, Bill, Kermit, Mulder, Scully, and Axer -- shook their heads. Everyone, that is, except one.
"I'll come," said Coleen, leaning against the bar. For some reason, the decision lifted a lot of the tension from her face.
Methos nodded, "Then pack your bags -- we're leaving right now."
The room seemed quiet and subdued as Coleen gathered up her few belongings from the back room. As she checked to make sure that everything was in order, she couldn't help but feel that everyone probably viewed her leaving with relief. She knew what everyone was thinking and saying behind her back -- a brief flash of rage nearly froze her, but she forced herself to keep packing. If they didn't want her here, she could take a hint.
A voice that was both harsh and soft startled her. Coleen hadn't noticed her approach. "So you're going to the Landing." Nat's expression was stern, and her face unforgiving.
Coleen felt like cringing, but it didn't show. The only expression on her face was a dead look. "It's for the best. Nobody else wants to go, so it might as well be me."
"If that's what you want. I just think you're leaving for the wrong reasons."
"What do you mean by that?"
Nat didn't answer. She just shook her head and walked away.
Coleen's eyes tightened, but she let it go and went back to packing. A moment later, and she was on her way out.
Methos tilted his head a fraction as he noticed Coleen's expression, "Is everything all right?"
"No," grunted Coleen curtly, not elaborating.
Methos shrugged. He really had better things to worry about than adolescents and their problems. //I'll never understand children... trivial problems and they make mountains out of them.// Still, he looked a little concerned.
* * *
Skinner got off the private jet, looking around. The riot
hadn't touched the airport, but he could smell the smoke
from the fires; some of them still burned. He was very
sensitive to smoke. His eyes crinkled as he shoved away an
A limo was waiting for him, and he opened the door, reflexively checking for anyone unpleasant who might also be in the car. There was one other passenger, and he smiled lopsidedly. It was none other than Mr. X. He seemed... different somehow.
"Get in -- we don't have much time to waste. Everything's happening at once."
"Mulder and Scully?"
Mr. X sadly shook his head. "You wouldn't believe it, but they're actually behaving themselves. It's the others I'm worried about. They actually drew the Invisible Ones out of the woodwork. Then there's Powys -- I have a strong feeling that Mulder's not going to listen to me this time."
He did get in, and the driver gunned the motor, driving at a deadly pace to who knew where. The sudden acceleration slammed Skinner against the seat.
"What now?" he asked.
"We're going for coffee."
Skinner looked at him as if he'd lost his mind.
* * *
Tracy was rubbing the tension off her face, leaning against
her desk. Not as good as a full day of rest or taking an
endless shower... but it helped. Opening her eyes, she
spied Nick's empty desk. //Where the hell *is* he?// Ever
since the advent of the black boxes, he seemed to spend a
lot of time away from work. True, it had only been a few days
ago, but it seemed like a lifetime.
Maybe it was the unusual angle of her vision that did it, but she noticed a very odd shadow underneath the desk. Curiosity taking the better of her, she took a closer look and found a very odd axe, hidden underneath a dust-saturated cloth.
Picking it up, it felt like a well-used axe. The oils had soaked into it for a long time, and the sweat patterns showed that it was used a lot. The design said that it wasn't a fire or wood axe -- the axe-blade was designed for killing.
Tracy had planned on setting it back where it was, but she couldn't. A few more minutes later, it never occurred to her that she should at least be making an effort to hide the axe as she walked out the front door with it. But everyone paid less attention to it than she did.
Reece poked his head out of the office door to ask her something, but found that she was gone. "Where the hell did she go? I could have sworn she was there a moment ago?"
Neither Tracy nor Reece noticed the man who had entered the main room twenty minutes back and sat down on a bench. He paid neither one of them any mind as he sat, and even less as he stood up, almost bumping into her as she exited, and walking down the corridor which led to the holding cells.
Mulroney -- former British solder, experiment of the Invisible Ones, and now a shameless mercenary -- walked down the halls, remembering every step of the way. The only time he almost forgot was when he was bumped by a preoccupied man in a business suit who muttered something in Swedish. Mulroney, not speaking the language, didn't even look back. It didn't take too long for him to find the proper solitary confinement cell and open the slot-window. The light seemed to cut into a tangible darkness inside, as if it was as thick as cheese, and the light a tangible stiletto -- sharp, but unable to make more than a dent.
Inside the cell she stood, her gaze as imperious as any queen's. And she recognized him. She smiled as coldly as a neck slit from ear-to-ear. "Mulroney."
Mulroney bowed grandly, his own expression so human that it made the Invisible One seem dead. "Golien'an. It quite becomes you to be locked in a cell by yourself. I've been hoping you'd go ahead and kill yourself in frustration."
"Still with the glib tongue?" She stared him down. "What are you doing here?"
Mulroney smiled, "Word gets around, and the word said that an Invisible One was here. I decided I'd hire myself for a little job. Motive: revenge." He pulled out a silenced-gun and fired.
* * *
Tracy had reached the main door when she realized what it
was that had been nagging her for the last few minutes: she
*recognized* the man who had nearly bumped into her
upstairs. A memory jolted her that instant, and she
identified the face of the man in that memory -- the man who
had locked her in the trunk of his car.
She did a full turnaround and ran back inside, the axe unconsciously gripped in a ready position. Nobody seemed to notice that (a) her face was filled with an obvious adrenaline rush, and (b) she looked ready to kill someone.
* * *
Golien'an lay still on the floor, quite dead. Her heart no
"You won't play that trick on me," growled Mulroney as he pulled out his army-issue knife (British issue -- those knives were made for killing, not scaring children). His muscles tensed as he made the major cut, cracking the breastbone in half and prying it open.
He yanked the heart out in one powerful motion, crushing the beating heart in his hand, squirting the blood in all directions.
He ate it right then and there, taking big bites. //Mmm... Tastes like a human...// When he finished, he slurred, "Try to resurrect yourself now."
The dead Invisible One didn't say anything. A finger twitched, and then stilled.
Mulroney staggered away as if he were drunk, his face red as a beet and his steps becoming less sure.
"Mulroney!" yelled someone from down the hall.
He looked up, surprised, and he saw Tracy. By the looks of it, that was the very axe used in the Odinsson's church a few years back, and Tracy was under its influence.
"What do you want?"
She didn't respond, instead charging at him. Her eyes were full of the battle-madness that the axe -- or any of the Aesir weapons -- would produce.
"I'm not in the mood for this." She might have the axe, but he had the experience. This wouldn't take too long, or would it?
As chance would have it, they were at a crossing of corridors, and who else would be walking down the other way... than Reece and the mayor of Toronto.
"This is intolerable!" the mayor was saying. "I *demand* that she be released at once!"
Before Reece could say anything, he looked a little further ahead and saw Tracy and Mulroney, who were momentarily frozen in startlement.
The mayor's and Mulroney's eyes locked, and Mulroney thought he recognized the man... in an odd sort of way. It wasn't the face that he remembered, but rather the man's bearing and body language.
The mayor certainly remembered Mulroney, judging by his expression.
Reece, having none of Mulroney's or the mayor's backgrounds, only knew that something unusual was going on, and that he'd have to do something about it. The fact that Tracy would pull an axe on a bloody and unarmed man meant that the other guy was bad business, and she was out of ammo.
Before he could say or do anything -- it might have seemed like an eternity, but in reality had lasted only a few heartbeats -- Tracy sank the axe into Mulroney's shoulder, cutting downwards.
Mulroney snapped back into reality and howled in pain -- but he'd had worse, and was enough of a British soldier to ignore the pain. He grabbed the axe in one hand and slammed her throat with the other. It slammed Tracy into the wall, for a few brief moments, but long enough for him to slip past her at a sprint.
Tracy pulled herself up followed him, sprinting a little faster. She'd catch up with him in a few moments.
Reece and the mayor looked at one another, and came to the same conclusion. "He came from the cells."
They took off as fast as their feet could carry them, and made it to the open cell, where a heartless corpse lay. Her face was locked in expressionlessness.
The two looked at one another again, "This isn't good." Both men's faces were pale.
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