The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part I -- When The Veil Is Lifted
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Nick waited inside the abandoned factory. It must have been empty for years. Nick thought it interesting that these sites served vampires as well as immortals.
He remembered the one-sided conversation that he heard when Axer had talked to his informant on the phone. Axer had said that he would do two things: first, go to this factory and retrieve an< item; second, to meet Dyson, the bruiser who had attacked Axer, where he was holed up.
Naturally, he had told Janette only half of the story, but the part he left out wouldn't be important to her anyway.
Nick waited high up in the framework of the ceiling, blended in the shadows. His vampire-enhanced hearing allowed him to hear every sound that Axer would make -- but Axer would not be able do likewise, because he was a good five stories above the floor.
Axer walked to the center of the empty room and sank to his knees. "You know," he said aloud to nobody in particular, in that archaic Welsh once more, "I thought I would be able to leave< you behind. I thought that I could leave the game and become mortal again."
Nick felt stunned. If anyone seemed in harmony with his immortality, it would be Axer Carrick, and next to him, LaCroix. Axer continued his monologue, nearly praying to the center of the room, "I remember the promise that I made to you, that I would chain you forever in darkness, and that you would never ride into battle with me. The Fates have decreed otherwise, and so I must embrace Fate and slay once more. I hope that She decides she likes my performance, so that the dice may not roll against us.
"I had accused Scully of being a blind Newtonian, but I now know that I had been one in spirit. It is easy to be a non-Newtonian in philosophy, but it is hard to be that in action and in one's whole being.
"For the sake of Fate and the Balance I release you once more. The Wave rises and falls, and thus the dice decree. I free you -- become one with me, as I shall become one with you. Together, let us feel the great heart beat and replenish the Great Mother with the blood that we shall spill this great day."
Nick sat in shock as he heard Axer speak. It almost sounded like an apology. But to whom was he speaking?
Axer ripped open some boards on the floor and brought out a great wooden chest that showed great age. A giant lock held it shut, and Axer unlocked it with a great, silver key.
Inside the box was something wrapped in silk and muslin. Axer unwrapped it, and a sword was revealed. It was drawn, and Nick gasped in awe. It was a grand sword -- artful, delicate, intricate, and strong as the roots of the earth. With his enhanced vision, he saw elaborate weave patterns on the leather scabbard and grip that resembled the patterns on some of the gravestones still standing in the Isles -- like the Celtic crosses with the elaborate patterns chiseled into them.
Nick had seen no sword designed like it. The grip was longer than the length of a forearm -- enough to comfortably place four of Axer's hands side by side, and the blade was of a metal that Nick couldn't recognize. The blade was leaf-shaped, a full edge on the front and a quarter edge on the back. A blood grove ran down the center of the blade.
Nick patiently waited as Axer prayed -- for that was what Nick reasoned Axer was doing. Axer prayed for the success of his mission, the safety of Mulder, his enemies, and the Great Mother who would take back the life that she had granted.
Nick could see how much turmoil this man was going through at having to kill Patrick Morgan, the possibility of having to kill every single man in the place where Mulder was being held, and the possibility that Mulder would be severely tortured or dead because of Axer's inability to see through the trap and save Mulder before it was too late.
He felt troubled by what he had heard these last few hours. Many Christian crusaders, including himself, had believed that murder was against the Laws of God, and yet they broke it every day in His Name. They had all prayed for their enemies, and slaughtered them on the battlefield and in their homes.
For that all Nick was respecting the man more and more, and feeling like a kindred spirit, he couldn't help but ask himself if Axer was acting like the hypocrite that he himself once was, or if there was something else that he was missing.
He *wanted* to respect the man, but the thought that Axer was about to justify the slaughter -- which Axer had loathed -- in the name of the Great Mother, was too much. Or could it be that this was the only way that Axer kept his sanity when killing was required?
//But why,// he asked himself, //did he bury his sword here? Why did he go without it when his very life was in danger so many times? He expressed the fact that he can die for good, though he wouldn't tell me how.//
Too many questions to ask, but at least he had time to ponder them... Although it certainly felt like only an hour, the day had ended and the sun set. Nick breathed a sigh of relief -- he would be able to follow Axer directly now.
Axer rose from his prayers and apologies to the Great Mother concerning the soon-to-die, and when Nick looked directly into them -- even from a great distance -- Axer was a transformed man.
Gone were the drunk's eyes and the alcoholic. Instead, a great and powerful man stood there.
* * *
Mulder still sat bound and blindfolded on the chair. Nothing had happened to him yet other than lengthy questioning and threats of chemical torture. The only questioner was the man with the raspy voice who happened to smoke a lot of cheap cigarettes.
The smoker had whispered and yelled, threatened and soothed, but to Mulder's credit, he had presented information that was a matter of public record, but nothing more. He said nothing of his speculations, unofficial investigations, or the tips given to him.
"Mulder," whispered the raspy voice in his ear, "you have been given more time than most *ever* get. Your time has long since run out, so I won't be gentle with you any more. I think it's time for the next phase of our questioning."
Rough hands untied him and dragged him to another room. The next thing Mulder knew was that he was chained face-first to a cold wall, and his shirt was being ripped from his back with a sharp knife.
"I strongly believe that torturing methods should be based on statements the tortured make in life. You've complained often in the States about being screwed by the Powers-That-Be. Well... I think something like that is fitting. Do you prefer Phillips head or flathead? No preference? Then flathead it is." A slight pause. "I'm really going to enjoy this."
The sound of a power drill being revved up was magnified by the small room. Mulder's soul-wrenching screams echoed for at least a mile in all directions.
* * *
Scully and Schanke paced back and forth at the police station. They both knew that Axer would take a while, but Nick should have shown up by now. Once Schanke explained to Scully that Nick couldn't go out in the sun, she relaxed a little, but when he added that he always showed up to work on time, Scully became more worried.
"Where could they be?" she cried to nobody in particular. Most of the heads in the room turned her way, but she ignored them.
Schanke had a sinking feeling what had happened. "I think Nick followed after Axer."
"After what he told us?"
"Yep. Trust Nick to be the cowboy... again."
Scully shook her head, "He's just like Mulder -- always going off and doing crazy things. Now that you mentioned it, it just occurred to me that they're very similar. ...Axer is the same too once you think about it."
"Axer? You've got to be kidding!"
"I'm not," she smiled. "They all entertain crazy ideas, and except for Mulder, do crazy things to back up their ideas."
"What do you mean, except for Mulder? He has the best track record that I know of for backing up his ideas with crazy things!"
"Is he stronger than he looks? When Nick kept me sitting down, I thought he was going to crush my shoulder!"
Schanke nodded, "He *is* strong. I always figured it was the adrenaline rush."
Scully nodded. "That can explain a lot of it." Yes, that explained everything. After a slight pause, "Do you *really* believe what Axer said last night?"
Schanke paused himself. "Axer was right. I don't understand what happened, and I don't care. All I know is that he has some unusual skills, and that he's on our side. When it's all over, he's going to bring us some of the *real* bad guys and then live his life in peace somewhere else. What else can a cop ask for?"
Scully laughed, "I think I agree with you, but Mulder wouldn't. He'd want to strap Axer to an operating table and see how he ticks." Her expression changed to one of shock, "And he's risking his life to save Mulder's. I sure hope Mulder appreciates the irony here!"
* * *
Dyson stood against the wall, smoking a cheap cigarette and holding a bottle of Bud in his hand. Business was pretty slow after that incident with the drunk -- his boss told him to lay low after a while.
He reflected on the events. He'd nailed a whole lot of people in his life, but never one like that drunk. Dyson *saw* the guy down five double shots of some pretty strong scotch as well as a full pitcher of Guinness, and the guy still punched a hole in his throat with his bare hand.
Other memories came back. He'd hit the guy smack in the middle of the head with a pipe filled with lead -- and all the guy did was grunt and fall down. Most people should have died then and there. Instead, he got back up and gave him the beating of his life.
Pretty strange... He took a deep swig of beer, and when he lowered his head, he found a sword at his throat. He dropped his beer and cigarette with a startled cry.
"Hello, Dyson," smiled the drunk -- only this guy was stone-cold sober, and looked like he never tasted a drop of drink in his life. "SHHH!! No need to wake the neighborhood!"
Dyson tried to reach for his gun, but the blade dug into his neck, cutting the skin, "My blade is VERY sharp!" whispered the drunk. THE DEAD MAN! Dyson realized. He started to shake. "You're dead... You're dead!! Your heart got blown out! I saw it with my own eyes!"
"Yes, yes... An old story. How about telling me a new one, like the location of Patrick Morgan?"
Dyson was a coward through and through. He may have been a professional killer, but he wasn't a professional fighter -- he didn't have enough guts to face the music when the man who uses the sword must die by it.
Axer smiled, "Before you die, I would give you my name. I am Axer Carrick. Do you know how I got that name?"
Dyson shook his head nervously.
"I'll tell you then. Axer means simply enough: one who uses an axe. Think really hard, Dyson -- who uses an axe, in a professional kind of way?"
Axer laughed pretty hard at that one. "Nice try, but they use double-man saws and power tools. No, a professional axer is an executioner. Consider yourself an honored man: you forced my entry back into the Game, and my role is the executioner that I have been for many centuries past, but relinquished in my belief that mortals were worth forgiving.
"Do you believe in some power greater than yourself? God? Satan?"
Dyson looked shocked, as if he realized that his only mistake might have been trying to kill a vengeful lunatic, but said, "Yes. Yes!!"
"So do I. I call her the Great Mother. She is the one who gave birth to us all, and takes life back when it is time. It is the time, and I am Her Instrument. Your decaying body will feed Her creations, and you will ensure the coming of the next cycle."
Nick, who sat in the distance, also listened closely. His face blanched once he heard the last statement. //Axer an executioner? It all makes sense now!//
Dyson's death was swift and relatively painless, and Axer took no joy in it, as a professional executioner does not take any joy. Axer said a prayer over the headless, heartless, and gutless body, praying that the Great Mother would show at least some mercy towards such a clueless idiot.
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