XTC
by Henry Wyckoff
Crossover: XF, DW (4th Doctor), HL, ST:Voy, and the world of David Eddings


Chapter 8

Cut to the Chase


The pimp spun by reflex, and his jaw dropped when he recognized Jan. He knew that the man was out for blood, so he yelled (not screeched) immediately, "Get him!"

The bartender had been observing these proceedings with a cautious eye, and at this moment chose to grab for the phone. She expected objects to start flying, so she ducked under the bar. Only her hand rose above it, dialing and darting back down to join the rest of her body. "Hello? This is the British Stone..."

The toughs all closed in on Jan, who was instantly supported by the Scully, Methos, Chakotay, and Silk. The lights flipped off, and chaos resulted. Chairs, bodies, and beer immediately started to fly.

A high-pitched female shriek was heard above the noise, for just a moment, before it was quickly silenced. Several loud thumps were heard immediately after. By sheer chance, Sarah had been knocked out by several flying objects and dodged punches. The Doctor, though he was right next to her, was miraculously untouched by any of this.

The lights turned back on. A swaggering cowboy type complete with the dirt and wide hat stood at the front door, pointing a shotgun to the ceiling. He fired once, and bits and pieces of the ceiling fell on his head. "I DON'T GIVE A DAMN WHO ANY OF YOU ARE!" he drawled at the top of his voice. "I WON'T BE HAVING ANY GODDAMNED BRAWLING IN MY PLACE, SO YOU TAKE IT OUTSIDE BEFORE I START SHOOTING THE LOT OF YOU!" He aimed the gun at those guilty of throwing fists.

A few innocent bystanders trying to get out had been knocked senseless, and two of the pimp's guys were dead. Everyone else was momentarily confused and trying to get their bearings.

Chuck snarled, whipping out a gun from his jacket and blasting out the old man's trigger hand. "Ah, SHIT!" The shotgun fell out of his hands. When it hit the floor, it went off, hitting the jukebox. As the sparks flew everywhere, the Red Hot Chili Peppers stopped singing about some airplane. The old man fell to his knees, wrapping his jacket around his blasted hand. "SON OF A BITCH!"

Another shot went off, and hit a previously uninjured member of the pimp's men. "AAAAAHH!!" He flopped around on the floor, his hands nearly clawing at his face.

Clovis and the gang kid got out of there really fast, and the Nightman noticed. "NO! Don't go!"

Duncan was close enough to try to stop Clovis, but he was too slow, and got a back kick to the groin for his troubles. "OOF!" He fell to his knees, closing his eyes in pain.

Scully, acting on reflex, tried to block the door. She pulled out her gun, screaming, "Stop! FBI!"

Clovis sneered as he grabbed the gun out of her hand as if she were giving it to him, and shoulder-butted her out of the way. He followed through with a hefty shove into a table. "Aah...!" CRASH! It took her a few moments to pull herself back to her feet.

The Nightman ran up, and Scully recovered, her eyes opened. "What the hell--?" She was still shaking her head, trying to scare all the birds away that were still flying circles around her head..

"We don't have time for that! He can't get away! The kid pushes XTC!" The Nightman said it out of reflex, but knew that he said the right thing. The pimp's head snapped up. Neither he nor Scully noticed.

At that moment, the pimp tackled the Nightman in his attempts to get out through the only door, but Jan got to him before he could leave. The two pimp's men who were left standing tried to get to Jan, but a bright flash filled the room, and when it cleared, the two men were flat on the ground, motionless. Jan was covering his eyes. Zedar stood up, eyes narrowed as the pimp got to his feet, stumbling out the door.

Scully ran out the front door, with Methos right behind her. Chakotay and Silk looked at one another, and followed them. Chakotay hadn't noticed yet that Janeway was in the bar. He wouldn't find out for quite a while yet, it would seem. Janeway, realizing that she'd better catch up with Chakotay, took off after him.

The sound of police sirens could be heard, and immediately grew stronger. "Shit! It's time to go!" snapped the Nightman, who took off after Jan. Everyone else followed too. The Doctor slung a still-unconscious Sarah Jane Smith over his shoulder, running out the door as if he were carrying nothing heavier than a sack of bread.

Chuck was about to follow, but was tripped by surprise. He hit the ground pretty hard, and looked up to find Zedar staring down at him, "I don't trust you," he whispered.

The pimp reached a waiting limo, and they could hear him yell at the chauffeur, "Get moving!" The door shut and locked just as Jan got there. Jan punched a hole through the window, and got shot in the leg by the chauffeur, who had quickly opened his door long enough to fire his shotgun. Jan slammed to the ground, clutching at his blasted thigh, moaning in agony as the limo shot away.

Clovis' truck appeared a moment later, screeching to a halt. Powys was driving it, and he was uncharacteristically hurried. "Come on! Everyone get in!" Though it seemed like an eternity, it was only twenty seconds. The Doctor and the Nightman pulled Jan into the back of the truck, and everyone got thrown to the rear as Powys gunned the engine.

Though the truck had already started moving, and Zedar had been a stone's throw away, he managed to land up in the back of the truck a few moments later. Nobody saw him running for the truck or appearing out of thin air. Zedar shrugged.

Meanwhile, Chuck tried to get up and run after them, but on standing, he collapsed to his knees, falling back on his face. His left ankle didn't feel right. By the time he could pull himself back to his feet and stagger to the motorcycle, they were barely within sight.

* * * *



"Hey mon, are you ok?" the gang kid looked like he was on the scared side.

Clovis, who had been bent over, trying to catch his breath, snapped, "NO! I am NOT ok! I meet my Doppelganger when I'm about to enjoy some of my XTC, and then all hell breaks loose, and my Doppelganger drives away with MY wheels! To make matters worse, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON!"

"Chill, mon!" the kid was waving his hands in a surrender gesture. "Chill! I don t know what the hell's going on either!"

"No," Clovis whispered, "of course you don't. If you did, I'd kill you for being a smart alec. Now let's get the hell out of here."

"Stop!" he heard a woman's voice behind him. "FBI! Don't run!"

Clovis and the pusher looked at one another, and they both nodded. "Split up!"

Clovis ran to the east, towards the university, and the pusher ran south, towards the bad part of town. The kid ran a hell of a lot faster.

Scully and Silk reached the same spot a moment later, panting. She looked back and forth, but didn't see anyone. A moment later, Methos and Chakotay caught up. "Which way did they go?"

Methos pointed east, "One of them went that way!"

Chakotay caught the gang kid's fleeing form. "The kid's that
way!"

Before Scully could say, "Forget him!" Chakotay and Silk ran off after the kid..

"Damn it!" Scully swore, taking off after Clovis. Methos followed her.

Janeway, who had just reached the scene, continued running after Chakotay.

* * * *



Clovis couldn't run any more. The drink was beginning to take hold of him. Normally, when he was drunk, he was good at sprinting for short distances until the short distance caught up to him, as it was doing now. He was within the university now, and smiled when he saw that the woman and the Englishman were on his tail and catching up.

"Follow the leader!" he panted.

* * * *



Chakotay and Silk cautiously made their way down the alley, from where they heard the fighting sounds. When they got close enough to see shapes and movement, Silk gasped, "Dagashi!"

"No," smiled Chakotay. "It's the Nightman." He frowned. "Too much was going on at the bar, but for a moment, I thought I saw two of them." It made him remember the last time he'd been in a tight spot with the Nightman as a Maquis.

Chakotay and the Nightman carried rocks. They had done
so for the last three weeks, pretending to be mindless
laborers. Chakotay was a strong and healthy man who had
been living a rough life, but even he was not used to
this kind of work. He had lasted longer than most, who
were dying left and right of malnutrition and illness,
but he too was getting weaker day by day. His hands
were blistered and bleeding, his joints were sore, and
his muscles were aching with every movement. His feet
ached every night, and swelled up to the size of melons
by the end of the day. He couldn't even sleep because
of the pain.

The Nightman barked out a warning, "Watch it, idiot!"
It was an alien of some unknown race who was stumbling
along and had almost run into the Nightman. The alien
regained his own focus and went about his own way,
struggling to keep a hold of is own load. "Mark my own
words, that man is going to get himself killed before
the day is out."

"Not nice today, is it?" Chakotay felt similar
frustrations at the near-collisions, but he also didn't
wish ill things on the other prisoners.

"Who cares? I ve long since stopped being nice."

//He was nice once?// Hard to believe, but probably
true. He was probably nice too, but he had become less
nice even before he was confronted with the
Cardassians. A lot of things were also hard to believe,
like how the Nightman never seemed to have bruised,
blistered, and bleeding skin for more than a few
moments at any time. By the second day, his hands were
as calloused as if he had done this all his life. He
was never muscular, but all of the right muscles became
more visible after a week. He could work himself to
exhaustion and still wake up refreshed every morning
without any sign of wear or tear.

The Nightman nearly threw his load onto the steel
wagon.

"You'd better watch yourself," warned Chakotay. "You
can't keep this up for much longer."

The Nightman smiled, shaking his head. "Look who's
talking. You should use your legs more, and less of
your back."

Chakotay hadn't noticed he'd been doing that.

It was later, as they were resting, that Chakotay
asked, "How is it that you can keep working like this
day after day? You eat less than the others, but you're
working like a robot."

The Nightman chuckled softly, "One step at a time. I
think your problem is that Starfleet coddled you.
In my day, soldiers lived a harder life."

Several statements shook him at the same time. "What
else could you be, if not Starfleet?" Then soldier ran
through his mind. "Where could you have been a soldier?
Starfleet isn't the military!"

He nodded. "There's a lot more about me than you'll
ever see. You won't ever learn about that past, just as
there's a lot about you that I won't even ask, yes? But
I'll show some of what I know, things that will
certainly make your life much more bearable."

Although they were laborers, they were given enough
privacy to move around a little during their rest
period, which never was much of a rest. After all, what
threat could they pose? What the Nightman had to show
looked a lot like the yoga that he had learned at
Starfleet, but there was more to it, as he soon
learned.

"This is nothing new!" Chakotay muttered. "I just
didn't pay much attention to it."

"There's more. Hold this posture, and don't think, 'I
want my hand to reach my toe.' Think, 'I will hold this
posture, relax, and breathe.' Do so, and open yourself
up."

This was Chakotay's introduction to a yoga much older
than what Starfleet had to offer.

Several days passed, and Chakotay indeed began to feel
more relaxed. Some of the aches remained, but at least
things didn't get worse. They would both 'relax a bit'
as the Nightman preferred to say. 'Doing yoga' or
'practicing' grated on the Nightman's ears, for some
reason that Chakotay didn't understand, but he soon
learned to adopt the Nightman s manner of speaking.

Time passed quickly, and soon came the time to act.
Their quarry was found, and she understood the plan.
Chakotay would move her to safety, and the Nightman
would create a disturbance and maintain the attention
of the Cardassians.

Chakotay found her, and she nodded from a distance. The
Nightman, carrying a heavy load of rocks, also nodded,
and instantly threw that load several feet into the
back of a standing Cardassian overseer. His brains
splattered against another Cardassian, who was so
shocked that he barely cleared his phaser before the
Nightman tackled him to the ground. Most prisoners in
this situation struggle for the phaser, but he didn't.
Instead, he moved out of the way as the Cardassian
fired the phaser. Rocks fell from the ceiling, barely
missing both.

Before another shot could be fired, the Cardassian
screamed, because his eyes were now punctured, their
contents flowing down his face. The phaser had fallen
to the floor, and it was then that the Nightman picked
it up, and fired them in staccato bursts.

For every one shot, there was one kill.

Chakotay almost forgot his own task, viewing those few
heartbeats of focused violence with amazement. But then
he remembered his task, and got the very important
woman out of there.

One more look behind him, and he saw a sight that he
thought he'd never see again. The Nightman was now
unarmed, for he had spent the whole energy cartridge.
Thirty guards had come into the scene, running at him
in a fight formation, using stun clubs, because they
wished to control and hurt, rather than kill, this
still-healthy worker.

The Nightman ran forward at something faster than a
sprint, and on reaching the cluster of guards, took
them out with his bare hands. It took five passes, in
which all he did was turn back each time. He didn't
slow down once, and what he did was too subtle and fast
to see, but he managed to take down all of them. Fast
and efficient, without a single wasted -- or even
visible -- move. Only a few times did he even see a
visible attack. He slammed his hand through one tough
Cardassian throat, and he cracked the necks of a few
others. The last one to stand was thrown to the ground
so quickly that the falling was a blur. None of them
got back up again.

Not slowing down, he ran to Chakotay and the woman,
hissing, "Come on!" He wasn't even panting for breath.


How many shadows there were to begin with, neither one knew, but there were ten men left standing, not counting the single one who apparently opposed them. After a few moments, only one shadow was left.

Silk looked at Chakotay, "You know him?"

He nodded, "I don't know how he got here, but thank whatever god you worship that he's on our side. Come on."

They made their way down the alley. "Nightman. It's Chakotay."

The shadow became visible. It was a very tired Nightman, covered with blood, but no cuts or bruises. None of the blood was his own. "I've found you at last. Where's the Murgo?"

Chakotay smiled, "He's in protective custody. Let's stick together and find the others."

They turned as they heard Janeway's wry voice, "That's the best idea I've heard all day."

The Nightman bowed grandly, "Thank you for your approval."

* * * *



In the jail cell, the Murgo Dagashi paced back and forth. //What will become of me? The magic bones are gone!// The magic bones, given to him by the Dark One, were utterly destroyed. He didn't know how the Infidel had done it, but they were forever destroyed. The burns still hurt as badly as a sword wound. His forearms were swelling painfully.

"Hey, whiskey boy!" barked a young rookie, banging a spoon on the bars. "You sobered up yet?"

The Dagashi glared at the blue-uniformed young man, growling, "Fek a'xoel!"

The rookie shook his head, "Must still be high as a kite..." It never occurred to him that the Dagashi was so fully-recovered that he didn't even have a headache. The thought that this man was speaking another language hadn't even occurred to him. "Good thing you got picked up! Must be one hell of a drug..."

"Hey, Mark!" barked someone from the office. "We need you! We have an emergency near the U. It's one hell of a party! Everyone's dropping like flies, and the paramedics think it's murder!"

"On my way! ...Damned hippies!" He turned around to head back to the office, but he was roughly yanked to the bars. The Dagashi had grabbed the hand that had been tapping the spoon on the bars, and pulled until the rookie's shoulder slammed in between the two bars. He was trapped there, which was gave the Dagashi enough time to slam his finger through the man's eye, and into his brain. The rookie didn't even squeak. He spasmed a few times, then went limp.

The Dagashi smiled, and grabbed for the keys.

"Come on, Mark! Time's a-waitin'!"

Someone would be coming on, that was for sure.

* * * *



Chuck was in two places at once. One part of him was raping the motorcycle for all the power she could give. The other part was watching a memory-movie. Though he didn't know how, he was seeing a part of Zedar. Maybe it wasn't a memory. Maybe it was an image symbolic of something. Regardless, it was significant, for it defined the enemy he was paid well to snuff out like a dying candle.


Zedar didn't know whether it was day or night, hot or
cold. He might have been hungry, but he also knew that
he needed to relieve himself. The problem was that
because he was not only buried underneath Cthol
Mishrak, but also fused skin-tight with the bedrock,
his excrement had no place to go. Therefore, he
couldn't relieve himself. Belgarath, in his selective
capacity for detail, ensured that he would live forever
within the bedrock, but hadn' t thought about that one
detail. Curse him!

Zedar.

The voices began to speak once more, and Zedar didn't
know whether he should laugh or cry.

"Zedar."

Zedar couldn't speak, because his jaw had no way to
move, but he could mumble. He tried to speak before he
could remember that he had little breath and could only
move his tongue and lips. "Who are you?"

The voice laughed. It didn' t come from inside his head,
but rather from the bedrock itself. "Silly fellow. Has
it not occurred to you that I am not a who?"

"I don't know anything anymore."

"Is that true humility, or rather a flabby brain?
Flabby, perhaps, from inactivity? Do you even know how
long you have been underground?"

"I don't know."

"Then I will answer you. You have been fused with the
bedrock for nine years. Nine is a magic number. Do you
know why?"

Zedar chuckled. "I am not like a Kell Seer, who studies
numerology, nor am I a Melcene who studies it to ensure
that all subjects are covered. What would I know of
numerology?"

"You were never even curious of what others thought,
just to know how to relate with them, even for selfish
motives?"

"No."

"I will answer then. Count from one. You will reach
nine, and find that it is as high as you can go before
you reach ten, or zero, if you are looking in the same
place. You must also assume that you are dealing with a
number system of base-ten. Nine is also symbolic in
itself. Nine is thrice three: three levels of earth,
three levels of water, and three levels of air."

Zedar sneered, "What? Where is the fourth element?"

"Fire? That is not an element, as you well know. It is
a state of rapid oxidation."

"Oxidation?"

"Whether it is the slow rusting of metal, or the
burning of a substance, it is called oxidation. Fire,
for instance, is a converting of a solid and/or liquid
substance to a gaseous mixture of most usually carbon,
sulfur, and nitrogen gases with various degrees of
combustive-completeness. Thus, fire cannot be reduced
to an element. Neither can earth, water, and air be
reduced to elements, for these can be broken apart into
smaller components. These elements are in fact states
of matter."

Zedar would have nodded if he could. The impulse
translated, nevertheless. "So? I can understand your
logic, but how is it significant?"

"Nine represents the full cycle of progress. Sets of
three for the states of matter, and an inner set of
three for the physical, the emotional, and the
spiritual. Once all nine levels are traveled, they are
bound into one, and you see this for true once you spin
the wheel once more and begin at the first level. Are
you ready to spin the wheel once more, or do you wish
to remain trapped in stone, knowing that you are at the
ninth level?"

Zedar had lived several thousands of years, certainly
long enough to understand philosophical gibberish. He
could also read between the lines. "What do you want in
return?"

"Your rebirth. Your growth. You will be supposedly
working for me, but what you will truly be is a
student. I am hiring you to open your eyes, your ears,
and your heart. What you must do will be up to you. Not
once will I give you orders, which means that you are
also ultimately responsible for yourself."

Zedar sighed, for he truly understood what that meant.
"Any port in a storm."

Apt imagery. "OPEN YOUR EYES!"

Zedar did so, and found himself standing on the ground,
the ruins of Cthol Mishrak about him. The sun shone,
and the perpetual dark cloud was gone. The iron
buildings were rusting very fast. In front of him stood
a man of medium height wearing strange clothing, and with an open
smile. What land this man came from was beyond him, but
he could tell that there was something about him that
was universal. He transcended such things as nations,
languages, culture, and so forth.

"Careful now. You have to let your eyes get used to the
light. Wear these." The man slipped a black object onto
his face. It darkened everything he saw, and he
realized that his eyes did hurt, and that they hurt
less now. The man let go of Zedar 's hand, which he had
still been holding. "Welcome back to the land of the
living. I assume that there are some living functions
you need to attend to first?"

Zedar didn't even need to be reminded of it. He ran to
the closest building.


Chuck thought he was going to be sick. He could almost feel himself being buried alive in bedrock, fused to the bedrock. Then he remembered the guy he saw in the vision. Powys. "You're dead meat." Pretty amazing how the world was a small place after all. Chuck turned the corner, and noticed that a cop car was chasing him, the lights flashing and the sirens screaming. Although he was tempted to blow it off and keep following the truck, he knew he should do the smart thing and pull over.

A voice blasted through the loudspeaker, "Turn off the bike and throw your keys on the sidewalk."

This was going to take longer than he hoped it would. Still, it wasn't that bad. Chuck was smart enough to keep several spare keys in as many places as he kept spare knives. Throwing the keys into the bushes didn' t bother him. He almost smiled when he heard the cop chuckle in confusion, forgetting that he was live.

"Get off the bike and put your hands over your head. Straighten your arms. Lace your fingers together. Lie down on the ground with your hands out." Chuck did all this, and the lone cop finally felt confident enough to come out with his gun drawn. He smiled almost nervously. "Do I need to ask you, boy?"

"No. How fast was I going?"

"I clocked you at a hundred and fifty in a forty-five zone."

"So?! YOU ON DRUGS, BOY?"

"No sir. I'm cleaner than sober."

The cop nodded, "So you're just plain crazy. I'm arresting you for excessive speeding and endangerment of the public."

"Whatever."

The cop shook his head, wondering what was up with the tough guy as he fished out his cuffs. "Do you have someone who can pick up the bike? If you don't we can have it towed to the impoundment yard." Chuck was silent as the cop cuffed one hand, chanting the Sacred Rights. "You have a right to--"

It was clearly impossible. Anyone would say so, whether witnessing it in person or watching it on video. Even the cop would have said it was impossible. Chuck had one hand cuffed, and the other wasn't yet cuffed. He was lying down on his stomach with his left hand extended forward and his right behind his back.

In a movement so fast that a card sharp could have missed it, Chuck pulled his right hand free, spun his body anti-clockwise towards the cop, and whipped his left hand into the cop's eye. The palm-side struck, the middle finger bent so that it punched through the right eye. The force of the blow was enough to crush the eye, but not penetrate into the brain. "Aiiie!" The cop slammed into the asphalt, clutching at his eye, howling his soul out. Chuck was forgotten, and all he knew was that he was in a fire of pain.

"Damn!" swore Chuck as he sped off on his bike. He didn't care that he nearly killed, and certainly crippled, an innocent man. His concern was that he lost three crucial minutes.

The video camera in the car pointed right at the cop. A pulse monitor on the cop's watch reached the upper control limit, and quickly exceeded it. Within a microsecond, a Global Positioning Satellite beacon was lit, along with an alert to an automated computer at the University Medical center, which the GPS calculated was the closest hospital. The cops and ambulance would arrive soon enough to save the cop, but not his eye. They would certainly be too late to catch Chuck, but they had his bike and face on tape, as well as a guess as to what this mystery man might could do. Chuck would have destroyed the tape if he'd known about it whether he had the time or not, but that was not important at the moment. He did have other things to worry about.

It came unbidden, bit come it did. A fire shot through Chuck's brain, and he nearly lost control, speeding at 80 miles an hour. For a moment, he thought he saw a flash of moving images. He didn't know what they meant, but he began to wonder as he remembered the words of the Black Monk, and after the visions he had. A man as practical as Chuck wasn't one to scratch his head, wondering if he was becoming mad.

The question became irrelevant when he turned a corner and realized that he was going the wrong way down a one way street.

* * * *


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