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



Chapter 9

Reflections of a Gambler


"So, what should we do?" Janeway asked the Nightman.

He scratched his chin. "Let's wrap this kid in a sack and take him to my place." He pointed to the pusher who was with Clovis in the bar, who was mercifully unconscious. "It's a logical meeting place. Besides, one direction's better than any if you don't know what you're doing."

"I thought you lived this before!"

"I did. At the moment, I've just died of XTC poisoning, and I'll be spending the next few hours coming back to life and having one hell of a hangover. You gotta remember what I was drinking back there too."

They didn't have any sacks, but as it turned out, they could make it look like they were helping a drunk walk. He was wearing over-sized pants, and by cutting off some strips of clothing from the corpses, they made it appear as if the kid was walking on his own. If he woke up, it would be a plus because it would be difficult to get a running start on them.

They made their way back.

* * * *



Powys barely avoided running into Chuck, and thought it an odd quirk of his luck. //Maybe he'll be useful later?// It was a one-way street full of traffic, but regardless, he spun the truck around, skidding it most of the way. Now aimed at Chuck's motorcycle -- which had just turned itself back around so it was going in the proper direction -- Powys gunned the engine. Even with the windows up and the radio at full blast, he could hear the tires screech and smell the burned rubber. Less audible were the honks and screams from the other drivers as he dodged a car in his apparent attempt to run down Chuck.

Maybe Chuck was preparing for the worst, because he played chicken first, nearly getting hit by another truck going the right direction.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" screamed someone. He wasn't paying enough attention to know who.

Once he was sure he was past Chuck, he made a sharp turn into a closed side street and slammed the pedal again. "Let's see him find us now." While everyone else was attempting to regain their nerves, Powys smiled and flicked off the radio. Then he put on some "soothing music" which turned out to be Anthrax.

"Where do we go?" He looked and saw that his front-seat companion was none other than Sarah Jane Smith, recovered from whatever had knocked her out. The Doctor sat next to her by the window. In the rush, Powys hadn't noticed. He smiled theatrically at her. "You know, I hadn't thought of that. I was thinking we could figure it out as we go along."
The Doctor frowned. "Has anyone told you that you have a very igniting personality?"

"How so?"

"You've probably started more wars with that 'I haven't thought of that yet' than the language barrier has ever caused!"

Powys laughed. "You mean, the lack of a language barrier? If everyone understood one another, you'd see the destruction of civilization as we know it!" He laughed some more while Sarah just stared at him.

Powys kept to himself after that, letting the memories take him back. It was in an abandoned church just outside of Toronto, where a group of cultists had taken some folks hostage from a vampire bar called the Raven [cf. The Cycle of Axer Carrick, Part 2]. Those captured were three immortals: Richie Ryan, the no-longer-student of Duncan MacLeod; Axer Carrick, a very old and notorious Welshman (like Powys himself); and Coleen, Axer's own student who'd become notorious in her own way. After a few hours of sneaking around, the shock troops had come.


The head priest whispered, "The Invisible Ones come!"

"I don't think so," said a voice behind him, speaking
in Old Norse.

The priest turned around in shock and found the one
face that every Odinsson knew by sight. "INFIDEL!" It
was a scream of rage and horror blended into one.

Powys was infuriated at the one and only insult that
could ever affect him. Shaking, he backhanded
the old man, who fell and hit his head against the
altar.

He stared at the orb and dagger, knowing what must be done.

The three immortals stopped their advance, shaking
their heads in confusion, aghast at all the blood and
guts that were splattered all over their bodies.

"What the --" Krycek tried to say as he gazed over all the dead bodies.

A loud, triumphant yell in Welsh shook the room,
cutting him off in mid-sentence. An energy strongly
resembling the Quickening flooded the man, coming from
the orb, the dagger, and the headless priest's body.
The lightning came in pulses that slammed into his body
again and again, faster and faster, until Powys was
literally thrown against the wall. Then it ended.



A lot of things had changed that day. For Powys, it was the day that he went out into the open, because he'd recovered the Orb. No longer would he sneak around in the woodwork, silently manipulating events. He now manipulated events directly and prominently. The events that had happened during the few weeks since had proved that. In that time, he'd acted more directly than he had in the last few centuries.

He sighed. Scully was back in the game, minus Mulder. He missed Mulder and his unique blending of memory and intuition. He was one of the few detectives (or investigators, as they were called nowadays) who listened to his gut. Often, Powys wondered just what that man had in his blood. Maybe some of his own...?

Powys fingered the dagger, which rested in a hidden pocket of his jacket. He felt his fingers tingle a little, as if he'd passed through a weak electric field. The handle felt warm. The orb rested in a pouch that hung around his neck, hidden under his shirt. He always felt its presence.


The front door opened then, and Powys looked with a
jerk of his head. It was Mulder and Scully,
looking terribly exhausted. They looked his way.
It didn't feel right. They both walked over towards him
in a straight line.

Scully looked as if her world had turned upside down.
Mulder's face was expressionless. He held a pack of
cards in his hand. "Care to play a round?"

That caught him by surprise. He shrugged. "A round of what?"

"Five card draw -- blind."

"Huh?"

"It's just like five card draw, except that you don't
look at your cards. They stay face down the whole time."

Powys looked hard at both feds, and could not read
anything useful. //What's your game?// He tried to look unconcerned. "Deal."

Mulder shuffled and cut the deck like a pro, and the
cards glided across the table, stopping exactly where
they were supposed to.

"What's your bet?" asked Powys.

"This." Mulder produced a photograph of Powys in the
experimentation room where Scully'd been put through a
hell of an ordeal.

"And if I win?"

Mulder brought out a lighter. "You'll also learn where
I got it." Scully looked a little shocked at that, but kept her cool.

Powys nodded. "Aces?"

"Aces high."

The two stared at their hands. Now that Powys was in
his element, he seemed to calm quite rapidly. He was
even smiling in that annoying fashion once more.

They discarded cards, seemingly at random, and drew
cards. They each did this three times, and then Mulder
said suddenly, "I call you."

Powys nodded and overturned his cards: 10 of Spades,
Jack of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds, King of Spades, Ace of Diamonds.

Scully whistled in shock and amazement. Powys leaned
back with a confident smile.

Mulder, with shaking hands, overturned his: 10 of
Clubs, Jack of Clubs, Queen of Clubs, King of Clubs, Ace of Clubs.

All three stared at both hands in total shock.
Powys' jaw dropped, his eyes wide open. He was
now visibly shaking. His eyes met Mulder's dead on. "I
bet you run your life like this."

Scully kept her own thoughts to herself regarding that statement.

Mulder just smiled uncertainly. "I think you have
something to tell us."

Powys refilled his pipe, nodding. "You don't want to know."

Mulder stared him down, "I've had enough of that. I
want the truth, and I want it now."



Powys sighed. //If only I knew the truth! All I know is that my reflexes drive everything. I learned to throw myself to the winds of fortune, and it only gives me the appearance of knowledge when all I am is a lucky son of a bitch!//

Sarah tried to start a conversation with him, now that the tape had stopped. They were in mid-town traffic, and weren't going anywhere at the moment. "You're a long way from Wales."

He smiled, "I'm a long way from home too."

"You mean you're not Welsh?"

"I didn't say I wasn't."

"Oh." Then she did a double-take. "Who are you, really?"

"Alan Powys, at your service."

The Doctor smiled, "What he's not telling you is that he's not entirely human. He's close enough to being immortal to be one, though I don't even think he knows what he is."

"Not a Time Lord?"

Powys grinned a bit too much, "Why don't you try to feel for my heartbeat, and see for yourself."

Sarah's eyes widened, and she hit him in the shoulder, "You --!"

Powys laughed loud enough to cut off the rest of what she was going to say. "No. I'm not a Time Lord. They'd have exiled me sooner than they did the Doctor."

"You seem to know much about him."

He smiled, but didn't answer. When they turned off the road, they were parked in front of the house. The Doctor recognized it as Pancho's house. "How did you know to go here?"

"Fate. It was bound to happen."

Sarah had learned by now not to ask the questions that he wouldn't answer. The Doctor tilted his head a little, frowning, but said nothing. As had been alluded before, he had crossed paths with Powys previously. He snorted as he remembered that episode.


Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart sat at his desk. Being very active, the now
middle-aged man could barely stand to be seated for more than a few
moments. He spoke with a younger man (though not a young one) wearing a
conservative business suit, who spoke with a Welsh accent so strong
that he might not have been understood easily by a Londoner.

"Ah, Doctor," nodded the Brigidier, "thank you for
arriving so promptly. Meet Agent Powys, of Interpol."

The Doctor had been adjusting to his recently-acquired
regeneration, and so was a bit giddier than usual. It
was with a genuine, but highly exaggerated, smile that
he vigorously shook Powys' hand. "How wonderful to see
you!" Perhaps it was the Doctor's light mood that
allowed him to notice something unusual about the
Welshman. At the moment, all he could say was that the
man had presence. Unusual presence.

"Please be seated, Doctor. Agent Powys has unofficially
briefed me on a matter that is of great interest to
UNIT, and perhaps to you, especially."

The Doctor raised his eyebrows theatrically,
"Especially of interest to me?" He looked at Powys with
an even greater smile.

Powys shrugged, "Take a look at these. What do they
suggest to you?" He handed over some large photos of
some mangled corpses.

The bodies may have been unidentifiable, but the signs
were clear as daylight. The Doctor lost some of his
cheerful mood, and stared at Powys. "Where did you get these?"

He shrugged again, "I found it in the 'recent corpses'
pile at the main office. Happened in York. Funny thing
is, it happens in clusters, and has moved around the UK
for the last hundred years, but nobody really noticed
the pattern until an MIT student tested a mathematical
program for their new mainframe. He needed some genuine
data, and found death data to be perfect. That pattern
popped out." Powys looked at the Doctor more directly,
"Some doctors would suggest that it's a virus, but I
somehow have a hard time believing it. You wouldn't
happen to know about the manner of death, would you,
Doctor?"

The Brigadier looked at the Doctor more
intently as well. He was expecting the answer that
came: "Yes."

"What would that manner of death be?"

"A hellish one."

"Doctor?" the Brigadier spoke up. "We know it's bad, but
if you know what this is, please tell us."

The Doctor looked at him. "No, you don't. I'm
dealing with this alone. There are some things that you
are better off never knowing." He stood up and started
to walk out the door, but Powys stopped him.

"We're doing this together."

For some reason, the Doctor didn't stop him.



Now, the Doctor knew why. It was because it was fate. It was bound to happen.


"Helllp mmmmeeeeeeeeeerlgj!" The sound didn't quite
die off. It changed from a human scream to sort of a
SLORSCH! sound. Yet another one of the
seemingly-endless supply of disposable UNIT soldiers
was being liquefied.

Just as Powys had rightly suspected, this conversion
from healthy, solid human being to dying, suffering,
liquefying, unidentifiable thing took place within
moments, and not days. The destruction would have been
on par with a Level 4 virus, but no virus worked that
quickly.

Speaking of Powys, where was he?

The one who fired the hellish weapon stepped away from
the shadows. "I'm really quite amazed that you've
uncovered my secret," smiled the man, his skin looking
as if it were totally dehydrated. Some places were
already severely cracking off.

"You don't need to do this!" the Doctor pleaded
quickly. "There are ways to deal with your condition!
There are artificial means of supplying your body with
fats!"

The man snapped, "Like the normal folks eat fake
hamburgers? It's disgusting! Besides, I'm doing the
world a favor and decreasing its surplus population!
The world gets some more living room, and I get what I
need!"

The Doctor had no idea that the human race could mutate
in this fashion. He had suspected that it was an alien,
but it wasn't. It was a human being who couldn't get
fat through normal means: he had to pre-digest a human
being and eat the fat from what had become a mass of
sludge. This weapon was just a way to make the
digestion process much faster. Spray a pulse of some
very special acids and enzymes, and any human would be
digested in a few minutes.

"Tell me, are you using alien technology?"

"But of course! The Master is a very understanding Time
Lord, unlike yourself. He understands the need for
survival at any cost."

The Master. How many projects did that man keep running
at once? How many of the plans reaching maturity were
planted long ago, and how many were just recent?
Sometimes, it was like playing a multidimensional game
of chess, and nobody seemed to win except for the
Master.

The Doctor was trapped, and he knew it. He truly
thought he'd lost the game, but the cavalry came at the
last second.

BLAM! BLAM!

Powys was hanging upside-down from an air-vent with a
sawed-off shotgun in his hands. He let go, flipped
once, and landed on his feet.

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! CLICK! CLICK!

Powys kept on firing, even though he had no ammo left
to fire. Something about the man had totally disgusted
Powys. The Doctor laid a hand on his shoulder, "It's
over."

It was true. There's not much else you can do to kill a
man any further once he was already dead. "If I ever
find the 'Master', I'm doing worse to him!"

The Doctor stared at Powys. "You've met him before?"

He nodded. "Damn near shrank me too!" His smile was
frightening, "I've got a trick in store for him next
time."

Powys generally kept a carefree and happy attitude, but
at this moment, he was quite frightening.



The Doctor couldn't help but wonder what might've happened to the time streams if Powys had killed the Master... if the Doctor hadn't interfered as he had. Others might say that the Master deserved death, but the Doctor believed that nobody, not even the Daleks, deserved anything. People just happened to get what came to them, for good or bad, so why judge it? Might as well judge gravity, and call gravity good or bad.

Jan was standing now, with only the bloodstain to show that he'd been shot. Duncan kept a watch on him anyway. Jan was furious for having lost the pimp, and he was still fuming over it. Nobody talked to him at the moment. "Nice place," muttered Sarah. She wasn't sarcastic. It reminded her of home in some odd sort of way. She finally put her finger on it. The place looked unexciting. No excitement implied a sense of normalcy.

* * * *



Scully met them at the front door. "I was beginning to wonder what happened to you!" she breathed in relief. "You've solved me the trouble of having to hunt you all down!" She smiled briefly, but her expression returned to a more normal, serious expression. "I found Clovis. He's alive, but he's not doing too well." She looked at Jan, "You don't look so well either."

He shrugged, "The pimp's chauffeur shot me. I couldn't get to him."

Pancho smiled, keeping his thoughts to himself. "I think we're all accounted for."

She stared at him. "Good. That means that maybe we can start making sense out of this mess." She looked at both of them. Jan sighed in resignation, but not Pancho.

"I would certainly be interested in hearing what you have to say." Janeway was a lot more relaxed, now that she had time to acclimate to her surroundings, but she didn't lose her edge. If anything, she was even sharper. "I also think there's a great deal more you'll have to say."

He shook his head. "You'll have to come up with the questions. I've never been good at presenting the answers to everything at the spur of the moment." He wasn't in a bad mood, but he did seem strained as led the way back into the house. With all the people in there now, it was getting a bit crowded. Still, there was room for the people to unconsciously form groups.

Silk, Chakotay, Janeway, and Pancho formed one group. Scully and Jan formed a second. Clovis lay in the corner on some Mexican blankets, all by himself. Zedar, the Doctor, and Sarah formed a group. The gang kid was firmly tied to a chair, with a ball gag firmly strapped to his mouth, firmly cutting off noise -- he didn't try to make any, as he was still knocked out cold.

Oddly enough, Powys was standing with the Nightman. It was the Nightman who said, "Because I don't want Clovis waking up to the presence of alcohol in this house, and because I need a drink, I'm going to raid the pantry. Anyone else is welcome, since it's my stash anyway."

Scully tilted her head at his odd choice of words. "Maybe you should also provide some explanations. Are you his twin?" she nodded at Clovis.

"Agent Scully, is it?" She nodded. "Agent Scully... I feel that who or what I am is completely irrelevant to the case at hand, and that any thoughts down that chain will only take you in the wrong direction. Next question?"

Janeway nodded, glad that he had taken her hint. More of a reminder, not that he needed one. No sense telling people more than they should know. "I think that the young man will be able to provide more information than Mr. Villa."

Pancho nodded, "Good point. If you would excuse me, I'll be right back." True to his word, he came right back with a whole case of assorted liquors: rum, vodka, fine single-malt scotch, and some liqueurs. "Take what you want. I'm pouring what we don't use down the drain."

Without talking to anyone, he poured himself a whole cup of Glenfiddich on the rocks. Taking a sip, he inspected the recovering form of Clovis. His immortality might make him come back to life, but when it came to XTC, he had to pay his dues two times in a row, and not just once. That much, he remembered.

"Where did you catch up with him?" asked Pancho.

"It was in one of the University buildings," said Methos. "He had the keys for one of the research sections, and nobody was around." He looked directly at Pancho, "You know, I think that there's still a lesson that you haven't quite learned yet."

"Yes?"

He finished the rest in Latin, which he figured that a good Catholic ought to know, immortal or not. "I'm not totally blind, you know. I know when I'm seeing two of the same person, and no matter what you're telling the woman -- or not telling her -- I know better. I don't know what's going on yet, but I intend to find out."

Pancho returned in Latin, "You're certainly welcome to try, but you won't get any more out of me than she did. Does it matter?"

"I'd say it does. XTC makes it that important."

There were several other people who understood that exchange. Apparently, Methos hadn't assessed the others well enough. The only ones who hadn't understood were Sarah Jane Smith, Silk, and Scully. Everyone else had language translators (Zedar's was 'magical' in nature.) Jan had learned it as a Viking, and it stayed with him because he did a lot of reading in the language. Historical research on other older immortals was a hobby of his. Powys spoke Latin even better than he did English.

It was merely an odd coincidence that everyone who couldn't understand Latin had names starting with the letter 'S'.

Scully didn't know any of this, and requested in an almost 'hinting' tone, "Can we all speak in English, please?"
Methos and Pancho shrugged.

Jan broke the silence, "What happened?"


Clovis had finished vomiting up his drink, and was now
working on throwing up bile that had become yellow.
"HAWWWWQQQQ!" There was a slight pause, "Ooooo..."

Scully and Methos looked at one another uncertainly.

"I think it's safe now."

"It probably is," Scully agreed, "but what do we do?"

"Immortals don't get hangovers for long."

"He's another one?" she demanded. "How many of you are
there in this world?"

"Fewer and fewer every year," he looked genuinely sad.

Clovis lay on the floor, and then collapsed in a puddle
of his own vomit.

Scully approached cautiously. "Are you ok?"

Clovis' eyes opened slowly, his grin from ear to ear.
"Of course! It's WONDERFUL!" He coughed up more bile.
"I can no longer feel the pain! I understand
everything, and I remember everything, but it doesn't
affect me!" He started to laugh. Then he closed his
eyes for what would be a long while.

Methos shook his head.

"Would this 'pain' happen to be an immortal thing?"
Scully asked him.

"Not really. I'd say it's the Human Condition.
Immortals complain about this mysterious pain more
than mortals because they have to face it for more
years than most mortals do. You met Axer Carrick. He
drank because of the pain."

"You don't seem sympathetic," she observed.

He leaned against the wall, picking at a fingernail.
"You're right. Pain or not, there's life to live. You
can deal with it sober and make the world a better
place, or escape and make the world a worse place. I
had my moments too, and I even dealt with them with
some wine on occasion, but you don't find me drowning
my head in the keg now."

She smiled. "You sound like my father." He had been
dead for a few years now, and she found his death
easier to acknowledge. Time was easing the wound. "He
had more reason to drink than a lot of people, but he
didn't even touch a drop. My mother would get
aggravated with him, because he wouldn't even touch the
wine in church."

"Catholic?"

She nodded. "He was Catholic too, but it didn't matter.
Drink was drink."

Methos considered the body. "I don't know how long
it'll take for him to come to. It could be moments or
hours. Maybe days. Alcohol poisoning might take a few
hours, depending on the person." He considered
something else. "I also think that you shouldn't report
this. It's going to look too funny. Let's just take him
out of here, and go back the to the Stone. Maybe the
smoke will have cleared enough, and if the police
bother us, you can show them your badge." He smiled at
that. "Maybe Clovis will have woken up by then."

Scully had no plans of report this anyway. All she'd
say is that Clovis used XTC and lived to tell about it.
Then she'd add whatever statements he might make.

They found an equipment cart that was just barely long
enough to load Clovis' body. He was a short man, who
would have stood only a little bit taller than Scully,
so it worked out quite nicely. His head and feet hung
down. Several tritium-proof table covers were draped
over his body. He was carted out easily, since the
elevator was a little ways away.

By the time they left the elevator, his eyes had opened
again, but his mind was certainly vacant.

Even though he 'died' again a few moments later, it was
promising. The ground floor of this building was empty
at the moment, so they could afford to wait until he
came to once more, and they could leave in a less
attention-getting manner. Carrying a dead body always
attracted more attention than helping a sick man to
walk.

* * * *



"I've got to rest!" panted Clovis. They weren't too far
away from his home, but he really had reached his limit
for the moment.

Methos nodded, and they found some place in the shade.
Right now, they were walking through a grove of pine
trees. "I'll check the Stone and see if anyone got
back." He looked and dressed like a college kid, so
he'd be inconspicuous enough.

They were about a block from the place, so Scully
expected it to be a short delay. In the meantime, she
studied him. Now, he merely appeared to be a town
drunk, and not much worse. "You remind me of someone,"
she said finally.

"Who?" he panted. His face was bone white and his
cheeks sunken in.

"It doesn't matter, but there's something that does
matter. How did you learn about XTC?"

He shrugged, "This gang kid pushed it on me. Funny
thing is that I don't take any drugs other than alcohol
and caffeine. I've smoked hemp, but back in those days,
I lived in places where the hemp was good for rope but
bad for smoking."

This was interesting. "How did he find you?"

Clovis closed his eyes. "You know, I can't even
remember. I just remember not knowing the kid, and then
knowing him. I promised I'd try a sample, and if I
liked it, I'd buy more." His eyes became dreamy, "I
sure liked it! Nothing like an XTC rush!"

Scully wanted to say a lot of things then, but she said
nothing, and let him continue. "It's like nothing you
ever experienced. Have you ever been happy?"

She nodded. "Most of us are fortunate enough."

He shook his head, "Then you were never happy. If
you're truly happy, then you don't even know that
there's such a thing as not being happy." He smiled,
"If you're really happy, then nothing hurts. I was
dying, but I didn't care. I remembered everything that
ever happened in my life, and it didn't hurt. I even
remembered hurting, but it was just a memory." He
sighed, "I don't want to go back to feeling normal, if
normal is feeling pain."

Scully finally spoke what was nagging at her all this
time, and she knew that Methos would have said it
earlier. "Pain isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can be
good. We hurt so that we can keep from getting hurt in
a worse way. Imagine not having nerve endings. You'd
never know if you were being burned, cut, or touched.
You wouldn't know at all what was happening. That would
be a bad thing."

"But what if all you knew was pain? What if pleasure
was only an abstract concept that you knew for only
fleeting moments?"

Scully didn't know what to say, because she didn't yet
know what was causing the man pain. But if it meant her
getting past his selective amnesia, she'd learn.

Methos came back, and they moved on.

Clovis had recovered enough to walk with even less
help. They got to his place, and he noted, "That wasn't
here. What the hell is a British Call Box doing in my
house? I'm not into that Avant Garde crap! What kind of
idiot would call this art?"

Methos noted dryly, "At least it takes up space. Maybe
one of your friends thought you needed some furniture."



There was as moaning from the kid. The Nightman noted with a grim smile, "Guess who just woke up!"

The kid's eyes opened, then he screamed behind his gag when he noticed that he faced the Nightman of the Dawn... a dawn of a long night.

* * * *


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