The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part I -- When The Veil Is Lifted
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Nick was remembering the body of Dyson. He found it hard to use the< word 'murdered' -- perhaps a more accurate word would be 'sacrificed.' He just couldn't believe the 180 degree turn that Axer had made. One moment, he was a beaten-down alcoholic philosopher, and now he was some demon-driven, violent executioner with a belief in the Great Mother. All because he retrieved a sword that was locked up for an indefinite period of time.
He had been to Wales many times since and during the 13th Century, and he had heard no mention of a Great Mother. Could Axer had picked it up somewhere else?
It was like being put in a popcorn popper. Every time Nick developed a picture of Axer's personality, it changed. Already in the last two days, he had made radical changes from moment to moment. Utterly chaotic...
This recent turn of events really worried Nick. Was the man cracking up or simply preparing himself for a long night? The fact that Dyson had been brutally sacrificed rang again and again in his mind.
"Do I have to kill him?" he asked himself. He didn't want to, but the necessity screamed itself at him.
Axer was now at Radio Shack, buying what appeared to be a walkman and batteries. Ten minutes before, he had bought some music cassettes. Totally confused as to Axer's odd behavior, but unwilling to break his cover, he waited and observed...
* * *
Scully and Schanke entered the Raven. It had not quite become full and rowdy, so they were able to spot Janette and reach her without too much hassle.
"Ah... Schanke, and Scully," said Janette with her best 'hostess' face. "What brings you to such a place?"
"We just couldn't stay away," laughed Schanke. "Look. Did Nick talk to you since last night?"
"No..." she hesitated. "Why do you ask?"
"He hasn't shown up at the station and he's not answering his phone. He hasn't told you where he was going, by any chance, has he?"
"He has told me only part of his plan -- I knew he was hiding something -- but I also knew that they were details that wouldn't matter to me."
"What did he tell you?"
"He understood what Axer had said on the phone, but he didn't tell you -- why? Because that is the way of Nicola. He went ahead of Axer to a place where the informant was supposed to be. He would take the sewers back."
Scully whistled -- judging from Nick's inability to handle sunlight, he had taken a big risk. "Where is this place?"
* * *
Mulder's screams had become hoarse breathing. All sensation had become a maelstrom so chaotic that he didn't even know where the pain was coming from.
"Your stubbornness does not help you, Mulder," whispered the smoker. "All you have to do is submit and the pain will end."
"I... won't... betray," Mulder managed to say -- just barely. His head was spinning and pounding.
"Then I think it's time for another screw."
Ten screws had been screwed into Mulder's back with the power drill. They penetrated deep, but also prevented blood from flowing out -- blood clots formed at the edges, a few dried blood drips remained from when the blood did flow.
The power drill revved again, but Mulder was too exhausted to scream this time.
* * *
"Oh my god..." whispered Scully, covering her mouth and shuddering.
Scully and Schanke stood a few feet from Dyson's decaying form. The blood had already begun to separate into its different components, and dogs were fighting over the remains. His face was still intact, but then a bird swooped down and began to peck at one of the eyes.
Scully averted her eyes, and Schanke felt as if he would vomit. He shooed the bird away, but two more came in its place.
"Did Axer do this?"
"You bet he did," said Schanke. "I really thought Axer would just ask him a few questions and turn him in. I never figured he'd do this... So what now?"
"We try to find Axer. He mentioned sacrificing Mulder so he could find the third party. I just want to make sure that Mulder doesn't get killed."
"You know, I really trusted Axer. I was even beginning to like him."
"I never did."
"How to we find him?"
Scully grimaced, "Some people with the phone company owe me a few favors. We'll try to track him down with his cellular phone, and if that doesn't work, we'll question his informant."
"You better be able to speak that language of his."
"That was for our sake, you can bet on it."
* * *
Axer was at the edge of the abandoned warehouse, scoping out the place. He had Catherine Wheel playing on the walkman while he walked around the place one time so that he could create a mental model of the layout.
When he had worked at Hanford, he had gone on a lot of long walks, and one thing that he observed was that whenever the walkman was on, it would play static whenever he walked near electric lines of any kind, power or communication.
This was the low-budget way of finding the wires for the surveillance sensors.
* * *
Nick hovered a few hundred feet up, watching Axer. Axer had circled the place once, paused for a moment, and then headed to the side. He seemed to be very good at being unseen and unheard while covering a lot of ground.
Running at something faster than a full sprint, he reached a solid-looking piece of wall -- and this startled Nick -- ran *up* the wall for a good ten feet. He grabbed the bottom of the window and pulled himself up while he still had some momentum.
Holding himself up with his left hand, he pried the window open with his right. He slid through and vanished from sight.
Now that Axer was in, Nick decided it was time to enter himself, but by a different route. He landed on the roof.
"What the hell?" said a startled guard.
//Oops!// thought Nick, as he saw a man seated in the shadows where the vents punched through the roof.
"Stand right there!" commanded the guard, aiming a rifle at him.
Nick didn't have any time for this. He moved forward so fast he was a blur and grabbed the rifle away, baring his fangs at the man reflexively.
A moment later, two more men ran over, seeming to come from nowhere. They didn't say anything, but they did fire their guns. About ten bullets slammed through Nick, throwing him to the ground. His "vampire" appearance had faded.
A flashlight lit and illuminated his face. "That was a close call."
"How the hell did he get up here?"
"I have no idea -- he just appeared out of nowhere!"
"Well, he's dead now. Check his ID."
Hands checked his coat, but found nothing. "He's clean. I can't even find a gun."
They looked around to find any other intruders, and all looked in the wrong direction. Nick sprung into action, dispatching them one at a time, silently and efficiently. They probably didn't even know what hit them.
"You're good," said a man from behind him. "Very good."
Nick turned around sharply. An arrogant man faced him with a sword. "I am Patrick Morgan. I would have your name before I dispatch you."
"Nicholas de Brabant." He grabbed a rifle standing next to him and shot Patrick in the shoulder.
Patrick was hit in the right spot -- he flew back a bit, and when he landed, lost his footing. He'd forgotten that the edge of the roof was a foot behind him, so when he tried to land, his feet couldn't find anything.
To his credit, he didn't scream when he fell. A few seconds later, Nick heard a loud thump. //Oh well...//
* * *
Axer silently walked down the hall, moving as softly and silently as a ghost. There seemed to be few guards in this part of the place, and he had been able to slip past them with great ease. Most had been so focused on being attentive that they had wore themselves out and were nearly half-asleep.
He climbed some stairs and reached a door which said, "Jonathan K. Brughel," in dusty letters. It was locked. Axer never had the skills to pick locks -- he'd never needed to.
Instead, he laid his hands above and below the door handle.
He breathed in and out slowly, his muscles completely relaxed, but another part of his body tensing like a spring. Each exhalation and inhalation tightened it up tighter and tighter until he paused... and cut the string. Though his hands must have moved a fraction of an inch, the door quietly flew open from the burst of power.
Inside sat a startled man with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. The mouth hung open, and the cigarette dropped.
A recognition so strong hit Axer like a Mac truck slamming into his nervous system at a hundred. Axer knew this man quite well, though he never caught the name.
"So YOU'RE the third party," whispered Axer to himself. "It all makes sense now."
"Axer Carrick," smiled the man. "We meet again."
"You sadistic bastard! I'll have your head!"
"Come and take it." He produced a gun. "You know, Mulder had a lot of interesting things to say about you. I screwed him full of flatheads. I don't think he'll be a pretty sight to see if you ever do lay eyes on him."
Axer's soul turned ice cold. Shivers went through his skin like electric shocks, and his stomach threatened to throw up everything he had eaten. A terrible guilt hammered at his very soul, as he realized he was too late.
Axer usually had some witty statement, but this time, he was dreadfully silent. A growl rose up from his lungs, sounding every bit like that of a wolf.
He leaped across the desk, tackling the smoker out of his chair, but not before a few rounds slammed through Axer's chest and abdomen.
Both men lay on the ground. The smoker got up, aiming the gun at Axer's brain. "You're crazier than they said you were."
* * *
Nick ripped open the aluminum sheets of the roof, making his own door. Below was a giant room full of assorted boxes. The floor must have been a good five stories down.
He slid through and covered the opening up after him. Sitting on the ceiling framework, Nick scanned the place, trying to find any sign of Axer or Mulder.
There were no signs, he concluded, until he heard the sound of a power tool. In another part of the place, he heard a gun shot.
Figuring that the gunshot must have had something to do with Axer, Nick went after the sound of the power tool.
* * *
The pain stopped. Perhaps it was a moment or an hour before the chains were released. Mulder was flying in some kind of haze, but it soon left him.
Two clear eyes were boring into his, demanding his undivided attention, which he gave without question.
"Can you hear me?"
"Who am I?"
"Detective Knight." He was? It was hard to tell...
"Can you walk?"
Pain flooded through his body again as the eyes lost their power. Nick looked a little surprised at this, but for only a moment.
He had seen tortured bodies, but this one really topped it. The screws were coated with dried blood, which meant that taking them out would let loose a whole lot of blood. Carrying him out of the building with the screws still in there was out of the question -- any of the wrong movements would make a bad situation worse.
* * *
Axer staggered through the hallway, his wounds mostly closed, but not quite. His face had a blank and focused expression as his eyes searched back and forth like radars.
He turned the corner and found Nick crouched over the still form of Mulder. Nick looked up at him and blanched.
When Axer saw what had been done to Mulder, he blanched in turn. "Is he?..."
"Dead? No. We're just in time."
"We'll have to take the screws out. You know that. I need you to help me. I pull, you cover."
Mulder immediately fainted.
* * *
Scully and Schanke headed the fleet of police cars that surrounded the place. There were no signs of armed battles, so that was good. Nick and Axer must still be trying to find a way in, they figured.
The police swarmed in with riot gear, shooting and clubbing men with ski masks right and left. The front door was cleared, and the force swarmed in.
Yells of "Police!" and "Drop your weapons!" flooded the air, followed by replies that just aren't mentioned in polite company.
The two detectives waited in the safety of the car. This wasn't out of any cowardice, mind you, but rather because they were generals in this battle and needed to be in a place where they could act as effective executors.
It sounded like a full scale war in there, with gun shots, screaming, and tear gas canisters exploding.
"Do you think he's still alive?" asked Scully.
"I don't know."
"He is, but he's in pretty bad shape," said Nick, his head just outside the window.
The two detectives jumped. "Nick!" yelped a startled Schanke. "You mean you were IN there?"
Nick smiled, "In AND out of there." His smile faded. "Axer also got his answers. He was the first to arrive, but even then, it was too late."
Scully jumped out of the car and ran over to Mulder, who was still unconscious from the pain and loss of blood. Her face turned as white as linen when she saw the type and extent of the damages. "Where's Axer?" she demanded.
"We saw Dyson."
Nick nodded. "So did I. It's not what you think."
"What do you mean?" asked Schanke.
Nick decided that sometimes, a blatant lie was better than the ugly truth. "Axer snuck up to him and tried to use a surprise tactic on him, and it backfired. The guy was so high on some drug or another that he freaked, and Axer had no choice but to kill him."
"I have a hard time believing that," protested Scully. "His intestines were splattered all over the ground, his heart was ripped out of his chest, and his head was cut off!"
Nick shook his head. "All I saw was the beheading. Something else must have done the rest."
Axer appeared from the brush, "Hell and damnation! They're BOTH gone. Are you SURE you knocked him off the roof?"
"Well, he woke up and ran off. I think we should do the same."
Scully was about to protest before she remembered Mulder. Then she nodded. Axer laid a hand on her shoulder -- a hand that she almost ripped off. His expression was sincere when he said, "I'm really sorry about this. I did the best I could."
She had no response for him. Instead, she helped load Mulder into the back seat of the car.
Nick was about to say something to Schanke when he noticed that Axer had vanished. A moment he was here, and the next he was gone. Even with his enhanced senses, he detected nothing.
"Where did he go?" asked Nick.
"Axer?" asked Schanke. "He was here a second ago!"
Scully shone her flashlight out over the area and saw nothing. "Forget him. Let's get Mulder out of here."
"I'll stay here to handle this end," offered Schanke. "There's going to be a lot of questions."
"I'll help you out, Scully," offered Nick.
The battle in the warehouse had died down, and Schanke approached it. Nick and Scully drove away in the police car with the sirens flaring.
Nick couldn't help but ask himself why Axer had run away. "That's exactly what he did," thought Nick as he drove through the streets so fast that the needle went off the mark. "He ran *away* from us. Why did he do that?"
The hospital was still a long ways off.
|Previous Chapter||Cycle Main Page||Veil Main Page||Next Chapter|
|Main Page||My Fanfiction||Henry's Fanfiction||My Favorite Links||Webrings I'm On|