The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part I -- When The Veil Is Lifted
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Janette held Nick's hand tightly enough to crush a diamond -- not out of any need for closeness, but rather to keep Nick from running off.
"Let me go!" demanded Nick. "He's getting away."
"He's not the one you should be chasing!"
"Who should I be chasing then?"
"I don't know. Only Axer can tell you that."
"This is just great!" he fumed. "I'm a step away from catching him, and I can't get him because he has to tell me something first!"
"Maybe if you would grow up and open your eyes, you would learn something!" Janette's eyes blazed. "You want to be a mortal so much that you're oblivious to everything around you!"
"What is it that I'm missing then? Please enlighten me!" The last remark was dripping with sarcasm.
* * *
Mulder followed Axer for about a block. He was weaving in the sidewalk slightly, but all in all held himself together pretty well for someone who had just drained enough scotch in 20 minutes to topple most people.
Axer seemed to be wandering aimlessly. Every once and a while, he would take a swig of scotch, and keep going. It seemed almost humorous, the game that Mulder played. Mulder would sneak up closer and closer, then duck behind something when Axer got suspicious and turned around.
It must have stayed this way for a few more minutes until Axer seemed to vanish when he turned a corner. Mulder looked around for a few moments, scratching his head. There was no trace of him. It was like he up and flew away...
What comes up, must come down. A heavy form landed on top of Mulder, slamming him to the ground. A firm hand locked his right arm behind his back, and a long, sharp knife found itself at his throat. Judging by the strong smell of liquor on the man's breath, Mulder figured it had to be Axer.
"Who sent you?" asked Axer, his voice very slurred.
"I sent myself."
"Then who are you?"
"Federal Agent Mulder."
"FBI? What the hell do you want with me?"
"The FBI doesn't even know about you, but you've left quite a mystery around yourself. I came to satisfy my curiosity."
"How you came back from the dead. The evidence is a matter of public record, but nobody seems to have an official interest in it."
"So you actually believe it, eh?" He paused for a few moments.
"What do you know about me?"
"Not much, except that you've left a very enigmatic paper trail behind you. Why would you give up such a promising career in environmental science, even with the budget cuts, and turn into an alcoholic in some Toronto slum? And then how is it that you came back from the dead? Have you come across some means to revive yourself? Or was there an accident at Hanford you might care to tell me about?"
"You certainly have an active imagination. Have you ever considered writing fiction?"
Mulder chuckled. "I could write a whole lot of facts about you and sell it as fiction if I wanted to."
Axer shook his head. "What am I going to do with you?..." He paused a moment. "I think that's been decided for us. We have company. I suggest you stay in the shadows if you know what's good for you."
"And if I don't?"
"Be my guest if you want to be stupid. If you expose yourself, I'm going to watch you die for your own stupidity -- understood?"
A man wearing a bandanna over the lower part of his face emerged from the shadows. His eyes were full of rage and in his hand was a plain sword.
"Axer Carrick," said Morgan deliberately. "You've got a lot to answer for."
"You tried to kill me when I was drunk and I fought back. What's wrong with that? Besides, YOU killed ME."
Morgan spat. "And you put out my eye."
"What's wrong with that? It's healed, isn't it?"
"Do you have any idea what it feels like? Perhaps I'll do that to you before I take your head!"
Mulder couldn't believe what he was hearing. Were they both delusional, acting for his benefit, or telling the truth? If it was the truth, the implications were astounding: there were immortals -- plural, now -- walking the earth, and not just one.
"You're certainly welcome to try, but if you go after me now, I won't let it slide."
Mulder was tempted to pull out his gun and stop the fight, but he was curious as to how this would turn out. He also hoped that he could learn more about the secrets surrounding Axer. He soon regretted leaving his gun in the holster, because a rough hand gripped him over the mouth, and before he could react, a sweet smell flooded his senses. Next came a dreamless sleep.
* * *
Nick tensed. "Something 's wrong, Janette!" His eyes clouded over as he listened more closely. "It's Mulder -- that idiot!"
Janette sensed it too. "This way!" she snapped, heading for the back door.
They hit the cold air and immediately flew down the back alleyways. They didn't consciously know where Mulder was, but they had an instinctive feeling what direction it was, and they followed that instinct. It was about half a block away, in a garbage-filled alleyway.
Axer was slumped against the wall, his stomach sliced open. He was trying to stand in vain, his hand holding his innards in. Mulder was nowhere to be found.
"What happened?" demanded Nick, the signs of his vampirism gone. "What did you do to Mulder?"
Axer looked up wearily, "Open your damned eyes, man! Do you think I'm in a position to do anything to anyone? Some guys wearing ski-masks grabbed him while I was distracted. I think it was all a ploy to get him -- if they wanted me, I'd have been grabbed too or killed on the spot."
"Which way did they go?"
"How the hell would *I* know? I got gutted when they were making their getaway!" He stood up, and let go of his stomach. The bleeding had stopped, and the wound had closed.
Nick's and Janette's eyes opened widely. "I think you have something to explain to us, Bard Lanscot," said Janette, deliberately using the name by which she knew him so long ago, "such as how it is that we crossed paths in 1435 and we cross paths again in 1993."
Axer smiled ruefully, "I could ask the same of you -- if it *is* true. I don't deny meeting you, but my memory is better spent remembering my Fourier transforms than names and faces from centuries ago. Hell, I don't even remember my real name!"
"What are you?" asked Nick.
"Someone who wants to be left alone."
"It's not like you're encouraging anyone to do that."
"I could have done much worse to keep you off my trail -- think on that."
"Is that a threat?"
"No, but enough of this useless talk. It appears as if fate has put us on the same side -- we need to find the folks who took Mulder and flush out an apparent third party."
"There's more to this game than either one of us dared to guess." He laughed bitterly, "And to think that you've spent all this energy trying to find me, when all I did was keep my liver from being extracted! You should have been searching after the other two players of this game -- I assume you *did* hear about the attackers who started this in the first place? Did you try hunting for them?" He didn't wait for a response, but Nick looked pretty shocked while Janette shook her head. "I thought so. Are there any other members of your team?"
"Then gather them -- we need to develop a plan."
* * *
Schanke and Scully entered the Chinese restaurant, and were ushered into the back room. Axer had given the owner enough money to ensure privacy -- or at least, that's what Nick reasoned, since Axer spoke to the man in a dialect of Chinese that Nick didn't know.
Axer, in the meantime, had gobbled up a big load of chicken-fried rice and guzzled tons of oolong tea. On the way to the restaurant, Nick and Janette had explained that they were vampires, which was why Axer didn't insist that they eat.
Axer had managed to say as little as possible about himself, telling only the truth -- but not the whole truth. He explained that he was a Brythonic Celt who had been killed in battle over 2500 years ago in what is now Wales.
He woke up in the battlefield and was revered by his tribe, who thought that he was some faerie inhabiting a slain hero. He was made a king for seven years, and was then killed over a field in order to renew the circle of life.
Not wishing to go through that again, he left his homeland and became a citizen of the world. He didn't know why he was immortal or what his destiny was -- but he most certainly wasn't a vampire, he emphasized to Nick and Janette.
Axer deliberately left out the other facts of immortals: the way to kill them, the Quickening, and the Gathering. He was just as convinced that there was a great deal that they weren't telling him about themselves.
Scully and Schanke sat down at the table, and did a double take when they saw Axer. Schanke jumped up and pulled out his revolver. "What the hell --?!"
"Put that back, detective," said Axer, unconcerned at the gun waving in his face. "I'm on your side."
"Do as he says," said Nick. "There's a lot about this case that we don't know." Schanke re-holstered his gun and sat down slowly, glaring at Axer.
Scully noticed Mulder's absence. "Where's Mulder?"
"Ah... that's part of what we need to tell you. He's been kidnapped." He might as well have said that some water spilled on the floor -- his tone was so bland.
"What?!" The blood drained from Scully's face.
"We don't know yet who grabbed him," said Axer, "but I'm tracking down someone who might. I'll get the call when he gets found."
"I think there's something you're not telling us," said Schanke.
Axer sighed, nodding. "There *is* something that I haven't told you -- and I guess I owe you as much to tell you, and we have the time -- we can't do anything until I get the call. In the meanwhile, eat up. You can't get food like this anywhere else."
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