by Jennifer Lawson
PART II: Filed Under X For … Xena
Please see part one for all disclaimers.
Private Alex Tyding wearily shuffled up to the front desk after making his rounds through the base’s main building. With an exhausted sigh, he handed his report in to the soldier at the front desk, Private Keith Smith. "Hey, Alex," said Smith in greeting as he took Tyding's report. "How’s your night?"
"Aw, the usual," Tyding replied with a wave of his hand. "Pretty boring, you know. It’s kinda quiet for a Saturday night."
"That’s because it’s not Saturday night anymore. It’s Sunday morning."
"That’s probably it," he agreed, wagging a finger at Smith jokingly. His expression shifted to a frown as his memory of the evening started to come back to him. "You know, something weird did happen."
"Oh, yeah? What’s that?" Smith asked complaisantly. He didn’t pay much mind to Tyding’s ramblings. He liked to talk too much and usually his stories were just that…stories.
"Well, I was making my rounds like usual, when I stopped upon this couple."
"Couple?" Smith asked, knowing he was setting himself up for a long one. This one sounded like one his long, drawn-out jokes.
"Yeah, a guy and a girl. The guy stopped me, asked directions and wanted to know about the bunkers and the barracks. Mostly they just looked like they were roaming around the building."
Okay, so the joke ended too soon. Where was the punch line? Curious, Smith wondered if Tyding might be talking about the two he had checked in about 45 minutes ago. "Did you get their names?"
"I looked at the their lapel passes, but I didn’t ask for their IDs. Was I supposed to do that?" he asked seriously.
"Yeah!" Smith exclaimed, playfully slapping him on the side of the head. "What part of the military were you trained in? So, you didn’t get their names at all?"
"Well, they told me their names, but I don’t remember’em. I just remember they were weird-ass names."
Smith picked up his roster and reviewed the names. "Raimi and Tapert?"
"Yeah, that’s it!" Tyding cried out.
"They’re supposed to be in with General Leick about security," Smith stated guardedly, then picked up the phone and dialed the General’s office. The General picked up immediately. Smith still found it strange that the man worked such late hours.
"Leick," said the General on the other line. "What is it?"
"General, sir, this is the front desk. I’m just checking with you about your guests. Have you sent them on a tour of the building or something?"
"My ‘guests’, private?" the General inquired. "What are you talking about?"
"Yes, sir," he responded confidently. "The ones who are here to meet with you about base security—Samson Raimi and Roberta Tapert."
There was silence on the other end of the line for several seconds that left Smith’s stomach in knots. Then, came General Leick’s inevitable response, choked with tension. "Young man, this had better be some kind of a joke."
"Okay, you guys, you gotta stop doing that," Langly said to Mulder and Scully as their dots began to move again. "How am I supposed to keep track of where you’re going if you keep buggin’ out on me like that?!"
Mulder and Scully ignored him as they entered the Infirmary. With the late hour, it was no surprise to either of them that this room was just as dark as the corridors had been. Most people were in bed at this time of night, even military personnel…except, of course, for Scully and her partner. However, at the moment, sleep was the last thing on her mind. She walked over to the edge of the table where the covered body lay. Though it was her job to deal with the dead most of the time, Scully felt it would be a disservice to this soldier to flip back the covering and view his body. So, instead, she lifted the covering at his feet and read the toe-tag. Her eyes scanned over the letters written along the black lines and as she did, the color bled from her face and her eyes widened in shock. She turned back to Mulder and he looked at her inquisitively. "Who is it?" he asked. Though she read the name on the toe tag, she had to be sure before she answered Mulder. She walked to the head of the table and with a slight hesitation, she pulled back the covering. Her suspicion was confirmed.
"It’s Private Campbell," Mulder uttered in astonishment, answering his own question. They had just spoken with him earlier that evening. What could possibly have happened to him in that amount of time? Mulder looked up at Scully and saw the look of confusion on her face. "What happened to him, Scully?"
Scully shook her head, beginning a visual examination of Campbell’s body. "I don’t know, Mulder," she said in a shaky voice. "There’s no way I can ascertain the cause of death without performing an autopsy. There seem to be no outward or physical signs of trauma, no contusions, no marks. I don’t know what to tell you."
Mulder was quiet for a moment. An odd sensation was playing through his head. It was almost dizzying in its effect, but it was as if a sudden realization had come upon him from out of nowhere. He had felt the killer’s presence in the darkened corridor and he felt it much more strongly in the Infirmary near the body. He didn’t know how else to explain it, but to Mulder, it could only mean one thing. "He did this. He killed him, Scully."
"How can you be sure?"
Mulder shook his head, his brow creased as if he were in some kind of pain. "I don’t know. I feel it…somehow."
Scully couldn’t begin to comprehend what Mulder was experiencing, but she refused to doubt him. Mulder was not one to play tricks on her, at least not in a situation as serious as this. She could see real pain and fear etched into his face. "What does he want?" she asked, concerned, staring across the table at Mulder.
"He drew us here, Scully, lured us. He wants us here…" Mulder muddled in a broken voice, looking at her through hooded, painful eyes and shaking his head in confusion. "...for some reason I couldn’t possibly imagine."
Scully stared hard at Mulder, the coldness in her heart coming to a hard freeze. She was terrified. The realization of it made her lightheaded. Just as Mulder had felt only minutes before, Scully now felt the paranoia, the eyes watching her. The more fear and paranoia Mulder emitted, the more she seemed to pick up on it. She was like a sponge, her mind and body soaking up the fears and feelings that came off of Mulder in huge waves. "Mulder, let’s just get out of here," Scully demanded abruptly, coming around the table to grab at Mulder’s arm.
"No, Scully," Mulder told her, snatching his arm back. "He started this, now we have to finish it. If we leave now, those four people are dead. I’m sure of it."
Anger began to show through her fear. "Mulder, you’re not even positive that those people are here. This is some game he’s playing with us. If we stay, we’ll be playing right into his hands! I say we leave now while we still have the chance to get out!"
Scully was taken aback when Mulder gripped her by the shoulders, looked intensely into her eyes and said, "You don’t get it, do you, Scully? It’s too late. He won’t let us leave now."
There was a madness in Mulder’s eyes that Scully had never seen before and it scared her. "He won’t, Mulder? Or you won’t?" But, inside the madness, she saw the Mulder she knew, straining to fight through the madness. "What is it? What’s wrong? Talk to me, Mulder." The intensity in his eyes died away when Mulder saw the look of sincere concern on Scully’s face. He loosened his grip on her and held his eyes shut tightly, as if ashamed and surprised by his actions. But there was something else…pain. Scully could see the expressions of pain on his face, but could not diagnose it. "Mulder, tell me what’s wrong. How can I help you?" she asked, feeling completely and utterly helpless as she watched Mulder shake his head dizzily, his eyes bloodshot and red-rimmed, his face white. Scully took his head in her hands and looked into his eyes trying to read symptoms into his reactions, but finding no answers. She brushed the hair back from his forehead in a comforting manner to try to calm him. "Mulder, please talk to me."
Then, he spoke, his voice raspy and broken. "I feel him, Scully. He’s in my head…and I can’t get him out. Help me get him out."
Her concern for her partner shown through on her face as she told him comfortingly, "I will, I will, Mulder. Just hold on. We’re going to get out of here. Langly…I’ve got to get him out of here. What’s the quickest route?"
Before Langly could respond, Mulder jolted away from her, a sudden clarity showing through on his face. "No, we can’t leave, Scully. He’s here and I know where he is."
Frohike just finished setting up his telescope, when he heard Mulder beginning to lose it in there. Sure he liked to joke with Mulder a lot, but this was beginning to worry him. He ignored his telescope while he held the earphone closer to his hear, listening to Mulder and Scully’s conversation. Covering his mike, he spoke to the other two. "What the hell’s going on over there?"
"I don’t know, man, but he’s losin’ it!" Langly responded, his own mike covered. He turned to Byers and asked, "What do you think?"
Something else had already taken Byers attention when Langly had asked his question. Byers never heard him. He looked into the distance, squinted his eyes and stared. "Now, what’s going on?" Frohike asked Byers, becoming even more worried.
"Frohike, I need to borrow your telescope," was Byers only answer. He trampled over equipment to reach the telescope, but made it without breaking any bones. If he was right, it was worth the risk. Looking in the eyepiece, the base appeared before him like it was only six yards away instead of six miles. What he saw was activity beyond the norm’ for one o’clock in the morning. There were no audible alarms, but lights were flashing and armed guards were moving into position around the base. Shifting the view of the telescope, Byers saw more armed guards entering the main building where Mulder and Scully were. Things were going to hell in seconds. It was his duty to warn them. "Mulder, Scully!"
Scully was suddenly alert to Byers’ voice, as was Mulder. "Something’s happening," they heard him say and looked at each other worriedly. "There are armed guards all over the place, they’re in the building! Get out of there now!" Byers ran back to Langly’s side. "We’ve got to get them out of there now! What’s the quickest way out?"
"I’m workin’ on it, man! I’m workin’ on it!" screamed Langly. He just knew things wouldn’t remain this calm for long. With a sudden burst of nervous energy, he began to search out possible exits on monitor and on paper.
Just as Byers voice disappeared, they both heard sounds outside the Infirmary door. Mulder, signs of dizziness and pain apparently gone, reached out for Scully’s hand and she quickly took it. They searched the room for another exit and they spotted one on the opposite end of the room. Dodging for it, they made it just as the Infirmary doors burst open to the sound of the word: "Freeze!" But, the word was easily ignored as they ran.
They entered another equally dark room and Mulder let go of Scully’s hand long enough to pull a heavy cart across the doorway. Scully took the moment to remove her gun from its holster just before Mulder ushered her out the door at the other end of the room. The officers at the other door ran smack into an obstacle. They could hear them screaming and hollering on the other side.
Mulder and Scully stepped out into another dark corridor, cautiously looking around before heading out. Mulder spoke loudly to reach his microphone, buried within the folds of his dress shirt. "Langly, I need to know where those elevators are."
"No way, man, I’m getting’ you two out of there!" came Langly’s reply.
Grabbing Mulder by the arm, Scully asked him with concern, "Are you crazy? We have to get out of here, Mulder!" Mulder’s mind was working at a feverish pitch and the last thing he was thinking of was leaving. Some unknown force was exerting power over his mind and was telling him to head in a certain direction. He knew Scully was worried for both their safety, but he couldn’t leave. He turned to tell her this, but shouting at the far end of the corridor caught both of their attention and they turned to see more soldiers heading their way. "Come on!" He grabbed Scully’s arm and began to run toward another corridor on their right. He had no idea where it would lead him, but right now direction wasn’t important. Then, Mulder felt a pull on him that forced him to stop.
"Mulder, stop!" Scully demanded forcefully. "This has to stop now!" She knew it was dangerous to keep running. They should just save themselves a lot of trouble, and their lives, and simply end it right here. She stood away from him, her eyes determined.
However, Mulder knew these guys were serious. "Scully, come on! These guys aren’t playing games!" He grabbed her arm and glanced up…it was as if everything slowed down. The world seemed to slow around him and he was the only one who noticed it. Scully was facing him, so she didn’t see the soldier who knelt down and aimed his rifle at her. Although time itself had seemed to stop, he had no time to scream as the crack of rifle fire erupted through the air. In just that instance, Scully jerked her arm away from his grasp and backed away from him. The momentum knocked Mulder back against the wall and to the floor. He never saw the bullet glance off Scully’s head and bury itself in the wall just above him. He only felt a shower of sheet rock tumble into his hair.
The glance of the bullet knocked Scully to the ground, as well, on the other side of the corridor. Her shoulder slammed against a door and she slumped to the ground. She was dazed, but could still hear Mulder calling her name as if from a thousand miles away. The sound of rifle shots continued to echo through the corridor as well, but she couldn’t see where they were coming from or where they were going.
She couldn’t have known that the rifle shots were being fired at Mulder. His position was much more vulnerable. He was out in the open, whereas Scully was slumped in the indenture of the door. "Scully!" he called to her still form. He continued to call her name until the shower of bullets forced him down that right-handed corridor. "Scully!" he called to her again, remaining just on the other side of the corridor. More rifle shots fired and a chunk of the corner exploded in his face. He screamed with the pain of the sheet rock in his eyes. His eyes watered and burned, but when he was finally able to clear them good enough to check on Scully, she was gone. His heart stopped cold. On the door was her blood. Sounds of shouting and running footsteps forced Mulder to continue down the corridor, before it was his turn.
At the sound of gunshots close enough to bust their eardrums, the Lone Gunmen ripped off their headsets. Even then, they could still hear the gunfire in the distance. They stood in stark silence, their worst imaginings seeming to come true. Then, the stillness broke when the gunfire stopped and they reach again for the headsets. Where there was silence, there was now shouting and yelling. "Mulder!" Frohike screamed into his microphone. "Mulder, can you hear us?"
"Come on, man, where are you?!" Langly continued the frantic calling.
Then Mulder’s voice finally came in a shaky whisper; "I’m okay. Check on Scully."
This time, Byers did the calling, his voice much more calm and controlled than his partners had been. "Agent Scully, it’s Byers. Respond, please." There was silence. "Agent Scully, respond. If you can hear me, try to make some kind of contact." The silence was absolute. "Agent Scully?" He looked to Frohike and Langly for answers.
Without hesitating, Frohike attacked his computer checking their wireless link to Mulder and Scully, and Langly jumped back to check his monitor. "I’ve got the monitor on Mulder," Langly stated. "Let me go back. Mulder, stay put for a moment so I don’t loose you."
"I can’t!" Mulder replied in a frantic whisper.
"It’s Scully…" Frohike breathed out slowly.
Turning to check on Frohike’s progress, Byers saw that his face had turned white. "What’s wrong?!"
"She’s gone." Frohike looked up at Byers, dumbfounded.
"What?" Byers and Langly asked at the same time.
Frohike couldn’t believe what he himself was saying, but it was true. "Her connection’s severed," he told them.
"Son of a bitch," Byers cursed, running a shaky hand through his hair.
Then Langly spoke up excitedly. "No, no, wait! I’ve got her here!" Byers and Frohike were at Langly’s side in less than a second, staring into the monitor. Their elation deflated as quickly as a balloon when they looked at the flashing dot on the monitor. Byers said what the other two didn’t even want to mention. "She’s not moving."
"Oh, God," Frohike muttered in a shaky voice.
There was no way to know for sure, exactly, where she was, because the room was so dark. Her head throbbed terribly and she knew she was bleeding, because she could feel the wetness in her hair. Scully remembered hearing the gunfire, but not much of what happened. She could only assume she’d been hit…just barely, anyway, but it was enough to cause her pain and make her dizzy.
When the gunfire had continued, she did what she could at the time and that was to get out of the way. Her closest exit was the door she’d fallen against, so she had reached up, turned the doorknob and slipped in. It wasn’t long after that when she realized she could no longer hear the Lone Gunmen blabbing in her ear. Either from the shot or from her fall, she had lost her connection to them and her only way out. She thanked God that she hadn’t lost her gun during the whole thing, but her gun wouldn’t do her any good if she didn’t get out of there. She could hear the sound of footsteps outside the door and she knew it wasn’t Mulder.
Hurrying to her feet, dizziness nearly overcoming her, Scully ran her hand along the door in the dark, trying to find the knob. It took no more than a second did to find it, but what she was hoping for was a lock. There it was! It was a simple lock, not hard to pick or break into, but just enough to hold back any intruders and give her time to get away. When she turned, she realized that wasn’t going to be very easy in the dark. Searching her pockets for her penlight, she jumped when she heard the doorknob jiggling. There was no time to waste as she located the penlight in her trousers’ pocket, but before she even had a chance to turn it on, a door opened on the other side of the room, what turned out to be small surgical storage room. Surprise and fear caused her to drop the penlight and raise her gun at the silhouette that stood just inside the doorway.
"Federal Agent! I’m armed!" The jiggling of the doorknob stopped. The men behind the door must have assumed she was talking to them, but she was hollering to the silhouette that was wearing what looked like military fatigues. If he was military, he would be armed, as well. Any second, he was going to raise a weapon and she would be forced to fire. Then, everything changed, when the silhouette responded in a very familiar voice. "Scully, hurry up! We’ve got to get out of here!"
Her gun still raised at the person in the doorway, Scully suddenly realized, ‘It’s Mulder.’ How had she seen a soldier? It was dark, her head was injured. She was seeing things…her mind was once again playing tricks on her. Her hesitancy lasted only a couple of seconds, but it seemed Mulder couldn’t wait. She saw him turn, seeing his face clearly, and then disappeared behind the open door. Scully quickly followed, the jiggling at the door picking up again. It wouldn’t be long now before they were in. Scully ran though the doorway and shut it, then turned to follow after Mulder…
…but he was gone.
"Hey, you guys!" Langly hollered to Byers and Frohike. "She’s okay, she’s okay! She’s on the move!"
Mulder was crouched inside a doorway, waiting for the sound of running soldiers to pass him by, when he heard Langly’s announcement. He closed his eyes and sighed. It was some news, at least. Unfortunately, it was no sign of her safety. Langly had spoken too soon to know for sure. For all they knew, her movement was actually soldiers carrying her dead body. His stomach turned just thinking of that. "Where is she?" Mulder asked Langly.
"Not too far from where she was. It’s a storage room, I think. She exited out the back way."
Now, that was a good sign. If the soldiers had killed her, they wouldn’t have taken her out the back way. It was much more plausible for the soldiers to take her back the way they had come. To escape, that’s the way Scully would have gone. It gave him more of a sense of relief than before. So, now, he could concentrate on the situation at hand—getting to the killer. And Mulder knew right where he was. "Langly, I need you to direct me to those elevators."
"Forget it, man! Are you crazy?"
"I have to get there," Mulder said in an angry whisper. "That’s where he is."
"Mulder, listen," came in Byers, attempting to be the voice of reason. "It’s possible that Agent Scully could be seriously hurt. You need to get to her and get the both of you out of there. It’s not safe there!"
"You think I don’t know that? I’m the one being shot at and hunted down, not you! Now, you listen to me. He is here in this building and I have to find him. I have to stop him. Now, I need you to guide me to those elevators or I’ll be forced to do it on my own."
Frohike covered his mike and told Langly, "Do it, man. Don’t piss him off."
Langly looked to Byers to make sure they were all in agreement. Byers nodded reluctantly. "Okay, Mulder, Langly will talk you through it, but you’re on your own. We’re keeping our eye on Scully."
"That’s a good idea," Mulder said. "Just keep me posted."
"Will do," Langly complied. "You ready?"
Mulder listened closely and chanced a look outside the door. It was strangely quiet. He didn’t know whether he should trust it, but he didn’t have a choice. He had this feeling that he was slowly running out of time. "Yeah, I’m ready."
With her gun still in hand, Scully’s whispered echoed down the curving corridor. "Mulder, where are you?" There was no answer. She knew she had seen him. He was here somewhere. The question was where? She was in a much smaller corridor, almost like a back alleyway. It must be similar to a type of service way. Here the walls were a cream color and there was actually light. She looked above her and saw rows of dim, recessed lighting. There were several back doorways along the right hand wall on either side of the corridor. Anyone could be waiting. She could feel her heart jumping in her chest, her breathing heavy from exhilaration. "Mulder, this isn’t very funny. Come out." She looked up and down the corridor, but there was no one there. This was just too odd. ‘I saw him. I know I did.’
The voice of a frightened young girl popped into her mind: "Okay, you guys. This isn’t funny anymore." Her mind replayed the events she’d witnessed on the videotape. A sense of déjà vu surrounded her and a chill ran up her spine. Rolls had been reversed and now Scully was the frightened young girl. Yet, unlike that young girl, Scully would stay calm. She wouldn’t do as Lucy had done—panic and run. Instead, she concentrated on her thoughts. When she’d seen Mulder only a few moments ago, he’d turned to his left, out of her line of sight. Following his direction, Scully raised her gun, turned to her right and continued down the corridor.
There was a sound…Scully gasped and turned, her finger tightening on the trigger…then there were the sound of voices. The soldiers had broken through the other door; they were heading for this one. She noticed a keyhole on the outside of the knob and realized that it must have locked automatically when it shut, but she wasn’t about to test that theory. She had told herself she wouldn’t panic and run, but different measures were in order now. Turning, she ran for her life, just as the soldier’s bullets were tearing through the lock.
Mulder reached the elevator without any interference, but he was still cautious. There was a wall behind him with two corridors extending off from his left and his right. It was terribly quiet here; almost too quiet and it unnerved him. He ignored the mental warnings and turned back to the job at hand. He stood before an elevator with an arrow pointing downward. There was a keypad and a card swipe.
He could hear the Lone Gunmen through his ear piece, chattering about this or that, but drowned them out for the most part. His mind was more tuned in to what he was doing, to the mental images or messages he was receiving. Strange as it was, that’s exactly what it felt like. Someone seemed to be speaking to him in some way, telling him where to go, and he believed that someone to be the killer. Why would he be stupid enough to listen to a killer, you ask? That’s a good question, one Mulder probably couldn’t even answer. Except for the fact that he knew, whether he was walking into a trap or not, some part of that truth he was seeking might be there.
Langly suddenly spoke into his ear. "Mulder, she’s on the move again."
"Where’s she heading?" Mulder asked, concerned.
"She’s in a service way and moving pretty fast. I think she’s running."
"Is that gunfire again?" Mulder heard Frohike ask.
"I think so," Byers answered.
"Scully’s gonna be all right," Frohike told himself. "She’s a tough chick."
Mulder believed that himself. In a crisis, Scully knew how to handle herself, but that didn’t stop him from worrying about her. As much as he disliked it, he would have to put her out of his mind so he could concentrate. "Okay, you guys, I’m at the elevator. There’s a key pad and a card swipe."
Byers turned his attention to Mulder. "All right, try the card first. Let’s see if it works."
"And if it doesn’t?"
"Let’s deal with that when we get there."
Mulder pulled the card from his pocket and prepared to swipe it through, hesitating slightly as he exhaled nervously. Then, with one quick motion, he swiped the card.
The Lone Gunmen looked between each other as the silence ensued longer than they expected. Frohike didn’t like this. He could feel his palms perspiring, so he rubbed them along his jeans. Then, Mulder finally spoke. "Nice invention, guys." Though the words sounded appreciative, his tone didn’t. In fact, Mulder sounded extremely displeased. "These cards don’t even work." This time they all exhaled. "Now what?" Mulder received an unexpected answer in the sounding of an alarm. The alarm sounded throughout the entire base, loud enough to reach even the Lone Gunmen.
"Now the shit’s gonna hit the fan for sure!" said Frohike in exasperation.
"This is going to hell," moaned Byers
"You can say that again…quicker than a tarnished nun!" In frustration, Langly yanked off his glasses and rubbed at the bridge of his nose, sighing heavily.
Picking up his laptop, Byers started to type fiercely. "Mulder, I’m going to hack into their system. Let’s just hope I can get the elevator door open."
Looking off to his left, Mulder couldn’t see, but he could certainly hear far off voices and running footsteps. "You better do more than hope, because they’re coming," he warned.
"Shit! Frohike, help me out!" Frohike grabbed his own laptop and began to work right along side Byers.
To be sure he was hearing what he thought he was hearing, Agent Spender stepped from the driver’s seat of the car. They were sirens all right. Quiet as hell for nearly an hour and now all of a sudden things were going to hell over there.
He reached into his glove compartment and grabbed his binoculars. Leaning over the hood of the car, he focused his lens to get a better view. The base was alive with activity, lights were flashing and armed guards were running about. What was that? Gunfire?
Unbelievably concerned, Spender took out his cell phone and began dialing a number. It rang at least six times before someone picked up.
"Hello," answered a man’s voice, raspy with sleep.
"Assistant Director Skinner, this is Agent Spender. I’m sorry to wake you, but…"
"It’s one o’clock in the morning, Agent Spender. What do you want?"
"As you know, I’m in Lake Keating, New York with Agents Mulder and Scully. Something is going on here that I think you should know about."
Scully ran as the pounding of many feet followed her down the narrow corridor. Ahead an open door beckoned her and she headed toward it. Without much thought to where she was going, she ran into another darkened room, slammed the door and felt a hand slap across her mouth. She tried to scream from sheer terror, but the hand had covered her mouth completely. Scully was drawn backward into an unwelcome embrace and forced into some kind of smaller, enclosed room that was even darker. She tried to struggle free, but the stranger wrapped his other arm around her and held her in place.
"Shhh!" the stranger whispered. "Be quiet or they’ll hear you. Don’t even breathe."
Though reluctant, Scully listened to the strangely familiar voice. Just then, the door banged open and the soldiers bounded in, shouting orders and looking around. "Lights!" Another soldier apparently flipped a switch somewhere, for Scully could see strips of light showing through the bottom of the door. The light blinked once or twice when a soldier passed in front of it. "Anything?"
"Nothing, sir. She must have gone out the other way."
"Damn that woman must be some kind of magician." The soldier’s shadow fell across the door as he moved closer to it, inspecting it. Scully could see the shadow of his legs along the bottom of the door. "Did anyone check this closet?" the soldier asked.
"No, sir! I’ll check it, sir!"
The stranger’s mouth was just at Scully’s ear and she could her his calm breathing while she strained to calm her own. As the other soldier’s shadow joined the first soldier, she heard the man say in the calmest voice possible, "You don’t have to check it out."
"Um…you don’t have to check it out," the commanding officer said.
"You sure, sir?"
"Uh…um, yeah…don’t worry about it."
The stranger whispered again. "There’s no one in here."
"There’s no one in there," the commander told his subordinate.
Scully was suddenly more afraid of the man who rescued her than she was of the men she was running from. What if Mulder was right? What if the killer was in the building? As she was pondering her questions, the soldiers began to file out of the room, heading off in another direction to search for her.
Once the door clicked shut, Scully felt the man’s hands slacken. In an instant, she pulled free of his grasp and busted out of the closet to face him with her gun aimed at her unknown assailant. The soldiers had shut off the lights on their way out, so she was now back in the darkness again. "Come out of the closet. I’m armed!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!!!" the stranger nervously hollered. "Agent Scully, calm down! It’s just me!"
"I don’t know who you are! Step out of the closet!"
"Okay, okay! Calm down! It’s Detective Steinman. You know…David Steinman. You remember me, right?"
It sounded like him, but she wasn’t sure and she wouldn’t be sure unless she saw his face. "You seem to know this room so well, find the light switch! And then I’ll tell you if I remember you!"
"All right, all right! I’m doing it! Just don’t shoot!"
Scully could see the figure of a tall man with his hands raised walking to the door she just so recently ran through. Nothing was for certain right now. She thought she’d seen Mulder a minute ago, too. With the flip of a switch, bright lights descended upon the room, blinding Scully for a moment. When her vision cleared, she saw Detective Steinman wearing the same suit she’d seen him in earlier in the day standing there with his arms raised in the air. As the truth became apparent to her, she exhaustedly lowered her gun and sighed. Her other hand raced to her heart, still beating in fear. Scully suddenly looked very tired when she exhaled and said, "Oh my God."
"Does that mean I can put my hands down now?" Steinman asked cautiously.
With a small smile and a look of relief, Scully said, "Yeah, you can put your hands down. I am so sorry. I thought you were someone else."
"Good lord, who did you think I was?"
Her smile became an embarrassed laugh and she shook her head in answer, trying to catch her breath. "Mulder has this crazy idea…I thought you…I don’t know what I thought. I’m just glad you’re you."
"Me too!" he declared, laughing.
Almost giddy with relief, an insane question strangely popped into her head. However, the question made so much sense that Scully stopped laughing when the absurdity of it hit her. "What are you doing here?"
Steinman stammered, "Uh…well, when Mulder contacted me…"
"When did Mulder contact you?" Scully pried. "I don’t remember that. I’ve been with him all evening."
"Okay, look," Steinman told her, holding out open palms as if that would calm her. "He didn’t want me to tell you about this, but I’ve been working with Mulder closely on this one…" He hesitated for several seconds. "…from the beginning."
"How?" Scully asked, her trust in this man slowly seeping away. "For what reason?" Scully saw on Steinman’s face that he realized she no longer trusted him, but what she expected was for him to become defensive. Instead, he became very calm, and chose his words carefully as he said, "I called him here to Lake Keating. I showed him what to look for, where to find things…why to come here."
Scully shook her head at Steinman and said very determinedly, "No, I don’t believe you. Mulder would have told me."
"Is that what you think?" he attacked. "You think he tells you every little detail like a father confessor? You’re not that important to him."
"What?!" Scully looked at him strangely. He stood there before her seeming so alien, so unlike the person she had come to know over the course of this bizarre day. She found him so repugnant, she began to back away from him, but he inched forward, continuing to antagonize her.
"He doesn’t want you…he wants his sister, and you…you are just an uncomfortable reminder of her."
"What are you talking about?" she asked in a whisper.
"I’m talking about the truth, Agent Scully. Can’t you tell the truth from lies? I thought the truth was your business, your job. Learn the truth…get into the minds of the liars…but you can’t even see that your own life is a lie. You go to work; you go home, living your life in the pursuit of another man’s dream. You follow after Mulder like the obedient dog. You don’t like it, but you do it anyway… thinking… hoping…one day he’ll see you instead of his sister."
"You’re insane." As she watched this peculiar version of Steinman turn his back on her, Scully glanced at the door behind her, planning to run through it.
"Am I?" he asked, his back facing her. "Or are you just saying that to mask the truth?"
"Shut up! Turn around and keep your hands at your side." When Steinman ignored her, Scully became afraid again. She raised her gun again and pointed it directly at his back. "I said turn around!"
"You wouldn’t shoot a man in the back, now would you?"
At the back of her mind, Scully wondered how he knew she had raised her gun, but she never allowed herself to continue thinking on it. "I don’t know who you think you are, but you’re not a friend of Mulder’s. You had nothing to do with this case and I can promise you, you had nothing to do with bringing us here."
He laughed at her. It was bad enough having to hear his ridiculous little laugh all day long every time Mulder cracked a joke, but to have to hear it now. And it sounded so odd, so unlike his voice. It sounded so…there was no other word for it…cruel. Then, his laugh ended, and with these simple words he said in a voice that was not his own: "Oh, I beg to differ," and turned to face her.
In that moment, Scully’s reality shattered around her like a thousand pieces of glass. For when Steinman turned to face her, he no longer had his own face. Before her now stood another man, a man she’d only seen once before…through the blurred lens of a camcorder.
Mulder wondered how much longer it would take as he stood there staring at the elevator doors that were definitely not moving fast enough…not moving at all, actually. The alarm was still ringing in his ears, but nothing could hide the sound of those pounding feet that were coming closer with each passing second that he stood there.
"How much longer?" He could hear frantic typing on the other end of the link.
"Uuuuhhhh…" was Byers’ only reply.
"Come on, I need a better answer than that!"
"Keep your panties on!" shouted Frohike. "We’re doing the best that we can!"
Mulder’s eyes were on the corridor to his left where the sound was only getting louder. "I don’t think you’re best is going to be good enough. They’re almost on top of me!" Only seconds later, at least five soldiers turn the corner at the far end of the corridor. "Aw, shit!" Mulder dived to the ground at the first round of gunfire. He inched inside the doorway of the room across from the elevator and made a last minute stand. He didn’t care what it took; he was going to get into that elevator. Sneaking out from inside the doorway, he aimed for the first guard’s kneecap and took him out. Four more left to go and they were coming closer. "Come on, I’m not gonna last forever!!"
Byers' fingers worked at the keyboard until they ached. Sweat dripped from his brow and into his eyes, but he ignored the stinging. The gunfire in his headset nearly deafened him, but he refused to move his hands from the keyboard. This was no longer about helping Mulder solve a case, this had become about saving he and Scully’s lives.
"Scully’s stopped again," Langly informed them. "I don’t know what she’s doing."
"We’re almost there," Frohike said to Byers. "Not much longer."
Byers drowned out all other sounds. Nothing was as important right now as opening those elevator doors and getting Mulder to safety.
Another guard was down. Only seconds had passed, but it seemed like an eternity. That’s when a most welcome sound reached his ears: "Ding!" The elevator doors slid open to Mulder’s relief. He could hear Byers and Frohike cheering in their victory, but their solution presented a new problem. How was he going to get across without ending up with as many holes in his body as a dead Mafia crime lord does? He didn’t have much time, because the doors wouldn’t stay open forever. The only thing he could come up with was to pull a John McClane (of "Die Hard" fame) and jump out shootin’. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite do the McClane job he wanted to.
Running, Mulder literally jumped the corridor to the other side. He attempted to shoot to cover himself, but ended up twisting himself at such a bad angle that he landed on his ribs and slid the rest of the way through the elevator doors until his backbone crashed into the wall to break his momentum. His aching body protested any movement, but if he stayed put, he’d be dead for sure. With his face scrunched up in pain, Mulder scrambled to the control panel, keeping himself just inside the doorway and not out in the open for every bullet to find him. Mulder slapped his open palm on the CLOSE DOOR button. There were only two other buttons: MAIN and SUB. Mulder instantly hit SUB.
Just before the doors closed, the soldiers arrived. There were shouts to catch the door before it closed, but Mulder wasn’t going to let them get that far. He fired several warning shots through the closing doors. He saw a bullet hit at least one of them in the arm before the doors finally shut. Lowering his gun in exhaustion, Mulder relaxed against the wall of the elevator, catching his breath. "That was close. That was too close."
"Mulder, you okay?!" asked Frohike.
"Never better," Mulder responded, breathing heavily.
"I was watching you the whole time on the monitor, man," Langly said excitedly. "How’d you pull that one off?"
"You ever watch "Die Hard"?"
"Mulder, did you see that?!" exclaimed Byers.
"Yeah, I saw that."
"That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done!!"
"Good. Let’s hope you can do it again."
"Again?" The wide-eyed excitement that had shown in Byers' eyes disappeared.
"Nine times outta ten."
Byers flopped down in his seat, dejected. He didn’t know if he could handle that kind of pressure again. It had completely drained him. The only thing he’d had left in him was a reserve of energy to be excited. A sudden sound from his headset caused him to jump. "Wha-what was that?"
"Relax, Byers, the elevator just stopped." Mulder got to his feet and waited for the elevator doors to open.
When the doors opened, it was as if he’d just stepped into a different building. Before him was one long corridor. It started at the elevator and continued all the way to the other end of … nothing. It was so long, he couldn’t see that far.
"What do you see, Mulder?" asked Frohike.
"Yeah, we’ve got nothing here," added Langly. "It just looks like you’re walking through walls on the main floor."
Standing inside the open elevator doors, Mulder’s reception, which had been clear all night, suddenly began to break up. He pushed a finger to his ear as if he could push the sound closer. "Are you picking me up all right? There’s a lot of static on my end."
"You’re breaking up a bit, but we’re still receiving you," Byers informed him.
"What about on the monitor?"
"We see you just fine," Langly reported.
"Hey, aren’t you supposed to be keeping an eye on Scully?" Mulder asked, remembering their warning to him that they would only keep their eyes on Scully.
"Uh…" came Langly’s hesitant voice. He’s glad Mulder’s not there to see him hurriedly switching his view. "…yeah, we’re keeping an eye on her. Don’t worry."
Taking off his suit jacket, Mulder asked, "Where is she?"
"Uh…okay, give me a minute."
Mulder wasn’t sure what was going on, but he was starting to get concerned. Keeping himself busy, he shoved the suit jacket underneath one of the doors to keep it from closing and the elevator from going back up. The last thing he needed were a dozen more soldiers in here to cut him to pieces with their submachine guns.
Certain the door wasn’t going anywhere, even though it tried, Mulder began to walk down the long corridor explaining to the three anxiously waiting outside exactly what he was seeing. There were doors on each side of the corridor, at least twenty feet apart from each other, each one of them locked and using either a keypad or a card swipe method of entry. There were so many, and it extended like this for what seemed like miles.
How would he know which one to choose? He still felt the sensation of someone speaking to him or directing him through the installation. The sensation had been so strange at first, making him feel dizzy. Now, like the ear piece lodged inside his ear, he had become used to it. The killer was here. Mulder felt that now stronger than ever, but he didn’t feel himself drawn to any one room. Should he try to pick or wait until he felt something?
"Mulder," Langly said, his voice tinged with uneasiness.
"I…uh…I can’t find her."
"You what?" Mulder asked nervously, stopping cold down the long corridor.
"I can’t find her…she’s gone."
Frohike paced back and forth in front of them. He seemed to carry the weight of worry for all three of them. This had become far more serious than simply sneaking onto an air force base to look for a couple of kids. Strange things were happening that didn’t make any sense to them. If this didn’t turn out extremely bad by daybreak, they would all be surprised.
"What do you mean you can’t find her?" they heard Mulder ask angrily through static.
"Mulder, just calm down," Byers told him, his own voice calm, belying his fear. "Things were a little hectic there for a few minutes. We just lost track of her."
Langly continued the calm deception. "Yeah, she may have gone into a part of the building that could be masking her signal. I wouldn’t worry about it." Langly looked up to see Frohike’s disapproving yet worried look in both their directions.
Frohike grabbed his mike and covered it so Mulder couldn’t hear what he was about to say. "I hope you guys don’t think Mulder’s that stupid."
Mulder’s response was immediately after Frohike’s. "If there was any place in this building that would mask a signal it would be where I’m standing, not anywhere in the building. I’m not buying it guys."
"Told you," said Frohike.
They were all silent for several seconds, not knowing just what they should tell Mulder. Byers was the first to speak up, continuing to keep his voice calm. "Okay, she’s completely gone from the monitor. We don’t know what happened. Like I said things were hectic and we lost track of her, but we’re going to keep looking and we’ll keep you posted. All right?"
They heard Mulder sigh. "All right. Let me know as soon as you see her."
"Absolutely," Langly said, his voice more nervous this time, realizing his mistake.
"I’m going to continue forward. I’ll let you know when I have something, but for now, let’s just keep radio silence."
"Right." Frohike switched off his mike. Langly and Byers followed suit.
How easy this had all been. Step by simple step, they had followed as if Gaelen had taken them by the hand and led them. Their separation had not been planned, but that had turned to his advantage. Mulder was now alone, except for those idiots he called friends. They were becoming a nuisance. If he had time, he would just as soon have gotten rid of them. They were interfering and distracting Mulder, but not so much that Mulder couldn’t listen. Mulder heard him, perhaps not with ears, but with his senses, his feelings. What made it so interesting was that Mulder knew this. He knew he was being manipulated, pulled as if by some chain around his neck and led toward an eventuality which could possibly mean his end. Gaelen was fascinated by it.
Of course, Mulder was not at all to be trusted. Gaelen had been led himself and he refused to ever let it happen again. It was unwise now for him to start thinking so overconfidently. He would maintain his distance, no matter the strange connection he felt to Mulder or how easy it was to communicate with his mind. He sensed they were somehow on the same wavelength…somehow the same. They shared something, but it would take more digging and more probing of his mind to figure it out.
Nevertheless, he remained cautious. There was no telling how things would eventually play themselves out, but one thing he knew for sure…Mulder would follow.
Mulder glanced at his watch and was amazed to find that almost an hour had passed since he first stepped from the elevator. He turned back to see if the elevator was still open, but it was now so far away, he couldn’t see it. When he turned back, he saw much of the same before him, an endless corridor that stretched on forever with no beginning and no end. He suddenly felt trapped.
After passing door after door, this experience which had at one time seemed new and exciting, became mind numbing. Sure he was curious to check each and every one of them out, but not a single one of them drew him as he had hoped. Mulder turned back again, tempted to return to the main floor, but where would that get him? No place but the morgue. He’d end up lying next to Private Campbell with his very own personalized toe tag and matching sheet set. No, that was definitely not a good idea. If only the bastard who was insistent upon playing with his head would get his ass in gear…
Just as soon as the thought entered his mind, Mulder felt a blinding pain in his head. The pain was so intense, it weakened him and he dropped to his knees, crying out. A cacophony of voices swam through his mind, but only one stood out: "How’s that?" He heard the voice as clear as day. It echoed in his head like the sounding of a gong. Somehow, he knew it was the killer. Still reacting from the pain, Mulder told the voice in his head, "Nothing a little Excedrin couldn’t cure."
As the pain and the strange voices slowly dissipated, Mulder’s way began to seem more clear. He wasn’t far now. It was just up ahead. The sensation was so strong in him now, he wanted to run, but a voice in his head stopped him. "Mulder, you all right?!" Langly asked, worried. "We thought we heard a scream."
Mulder got to his feet, frowning at the thought of himself screaming. "I’m fine, Langly. I stubbed my toe and I didn’t scream."
"Well, it sounded like a scream to me."
"Well, it wasn’t. Now if you don’t have anything interesting to report, like where Scully might be at the moment, you can shut off the mike." Mulder actually hoped to hear some news about Scully’s whereabouts, but his hopes were dashed when Langly’s mike clicked off. Instead of constantly worrying about Scully, Mulder forced thoughts of her out of his mind. As much as he wanted to drop everything and leave to find Scully, the sensations he was feeling were too strong to allow him to do that. In fact, they were becoming stronger, so much so that Mulder involuntarily picked up his pace. His feet began pounding down the long corridor, his head swinging right and left, searching out the place he was to go.
Byers opened up the blueprint again and sat next to Langly. "Anything?"
Still looking at the monitor, Langly shook his head. "No sign. I don’t know where the hell she is."
Frohike walked up to Langly, his arms stretched out in front of him in an expressive gesture. "Okay, where was the last place you saw her?"
"Here in this room," Langly said, pointing at the blueprint. "The altercation with the soldiers happened here, in this corridor. Then she moved into the storage room, here. She went from there to the service way, here, ran about twenty yards or so and ended up here in this room. That’s where she stopped. Then we got interested in what was going on with Mulder…" He paused as he sighed remorsefully. "…and then we lost her."
"Well, what exactly was she doing?" Byers quizzed, looking for more clarification.
"How the hell should I know? We can’t hear her, she can’t hear us; all we got is a dot on a screen and we don’t even have that anymore."
Frohike leaned forward into his face and said in irritation, "No, dingy, what was she doing just before you went to see how much fun Mulder was having?"
Langly looked at the two of them in his face and started to get angry. They were looking at him as if this were his fault. "She was standing here in the room. She was running, so I’m assuming she was being chased. She runs into this room…then for some reason…I wasn’t paying much attention at the time…she jumped up against this back wall."
Byers conferred with the blueprints in his lap. He pointed at the back wall where there was a diagram of a swinging door. "Well, it looks here like there is some sort of closet or cabinet. Perhaps she hid in there while the guards passed through."
"That sounds right." Frohike nodded, turned to Langly again and asked: "Then, what did she do?"
"She moved from the wall and walked almost center of the room and stopped. That was all I saw before I switched to Mulder’s view."
Byers scratched at his beard, thinking. "So, the guards left and she came out of the closet—"
"Hey!" Frohike pointed his finger at Byers defensively. "You said cabinet a few seconds ago, why you saying closet all of a sudden? Rephrase that."
Langly shook his head and laughed. "What are you afraid of, man?"
"All right, whatever," Byers conceded. "Scully came out of the cabinet and stopped in the middle of the room. Now, she had to have some reason for that."
"Yeah, don’t we wish we knew what it was," griped Frohike.
"Then, you switched views to watch Mulder and she disappeared," Byers said to Langly.
Langly shrugged his shoulders, wondering what was the point of the conversation. "Yeah, that’s basically what I just said."
"Wait a second!" Byers got to his feet with a sudden inspiration. "You left Scully to watch Mulder and then you lost her."
"So, what?! Why do you keep going back to that?! You trying to lay a guilt trip on me or something? At least I left Mulder to go back and look for Scully."
"Yeah, so why couldn’t it happen the other way around?!" Byers asked, trying to make Langly understand his reasoning. Frohike and Langly both look at Byers as what he was saying slowly sank in.
"Are you saying what I think you’re saying?" Frohike asked warily.
"If Scully disappeared, so could Mulder."
"Aw, man!" Langly cried. Ignoring the blueprints, they turned their attention back to the monitor, as Langly began to scroll through the monitor’s image of the blueprints searching for Mulder’s signal. Langly immediately went back to where they had last seen Mulder. He remembered seeing him practically walking through walls on his monitor. Now, though, as he scrolled through the entire blueprint of the air force base, Mulder was nowhere to be seen. "He’s not here, you guys! He’s gone! Shit!"
Byers instantly switched on his mike. "Mulder, do you read me? Mulder, are you there?!" Fear began to boil in the pit of their stomachs when they encountered silence on the other end. But, then they all jumped at the sound of Mulder’s voice.
"I thought I told you guys to keep those mics off!"
"We thought we lost you, man!" Frohike hollered angrily. "Where the hell are you?"
"I’m right where I’ve been for the last hour, walking what seems like miles down this corridor. What’s going on? Did you find Scully?"
"No, but we can’t find you either," Langly retorted. "Mulder, according to our readings here, you’re not anywhere in the building."
"As far as I’ve walked, by now I’m probably not. I’m somewhere underground, I think. This corridor goes on for miles and miles."
Byers raised his arms and slapped his hands down on his lap. "That’s why we don’t see you. Maybe that’s what happened to Scully, too."
"I don’t see how, with the elevator being the only way down."
Byers consulted his blueprints again. "According to this blueprint, the elevators were along the east wall, then you started walking straight west."
"We’re west," Frohike told them, standing behind them and looking over their shoulders.
"Langly," Byers called out, smacking his arm in an attempt to get his attention. "Scroll west, towards us. See if you can pick up his signal."
"I’m already doing it," he replied, his eyes glued to the monitor. Scrolling the blueprints towards them, Langly stopped when he finally saw Mulder’s dot continuing to move in a straight west direction. "I’ve got you, Mulder."
In amazement, Frohike pointed at the monitor and shouted, "Whoa, look at where he’s at!"
"Damn, Mulder, you’re almost right under us!" Langly proclaimed.
Byers looked at the distance between them and the base. He was completely amazed. "How’d you make it that far in that amount of time?"
But, Mulder doesn’t hear Byers’ question. A realization had come to him. It was such a simple explanation; Mulder wondered why he hadn’t seen it before. With a look of wonder in his eyes, he told the Lone Gunmen, "That’s how he took them. There’s some way to the surface in here. That’s how he was able to come and go, and leave absolutely no trace." He and Scully could get out through here without anyone being the wiser. That was why they tried so hard to keep him from getting to the elevator, not to mention what he could possibly find down here. The only problem was finding Scully. Where could she possibly be? "I’m going to go on ahead. I’m close now. You guys just keep an eye out for Scully."
"I’m scrolling," Langly said. "She might be down there somewhere. I won’t loose either one of you this time."
As his feet moved along the concrete flooring, Mulder’s senses began to strengthen. Just as he’d told Langly, he knew he was very close. His pace slowed, the sensations pressing in on him, on his mind like they would crush him. It was the strangest feeling, but he could feel the killer in his mind, like before in the Infirmary. The crushing pain he’d felt moments ago returned to plague him, stopping him in his tracks. It was not as bad as before, but as Mulder tried to move forward down the corridor, it became steadily worse. Was this the sense he’d been waiting for?
On his right hand side was a door and strangely enough it was open just a crack with a swirling cloud of mist seeping through. Mulder swallowed back a large lump in his throat as the pain began to ebb slightly. It nearly disappeared as he turned toward the door. ‘This is it,’ he told himself. The final confrontation, the last draw…the end of the show. But was it? "There’s an open door here on my right. I’m going in."
"Are you sure that’s a good idea?" Byers asked him.
"No." With both hands, Mulder pushed open the heavy, metal door that was wet with condensation. Inside was complete darkness and freezing temperatures. He could see his breath forming as he exhaled. It was strange, but this was exactly where he should be. The pain in his head completely vanished, as completely as Lucy and Michael. "It’s like ice in here."
Langly followed the dot as it slowly moved into the room Mulder spoke of, which was only about a yard away from them. Scrolling up the screen to follow Mulder’s movement, he was taken by surprise by the presence of another dot. The loud sound of his voice caused everyone, even Mulder, to jump. "I’ve got Scully! I see her!" Byers and Frohike, who had been by his side at the time, didn’t even react as quickly as Langly and they still jumped.
Dressed only in his dress shirt and pants, Mulder began to freeze as he looked around in the dark. "Where?!"
"Uh…" he began, his hands shaky, trying to keep the monitor still, "about maybe…ten feet from you…straight ahead."
The room was dark, so it was impossible for Mulder to see any less than a couple of inches in front of him. There was a good way to test the length of a room without the use of eyes and that was by the sound of an echo. "Scully?" Mulder knew the killer was here and if Scully was here, then he had her. There was no doubt in his mind, so he didn’t expect a response and wasn’t surprised when none came. What he counted on was the echo and got the response he expected. The room was deep, deep enough to accommodate ten feet of length. Instinctively, Mulder drew his gun from its holster and prepared himself in the case he had to use it.
"Do you see her?" Mulder heard Frohike whisper, but didn’t answer him. Instead, he felt along the cold, metal wall for some kind of light switch. His hand finally made contact with it and just by touch, Mulder felt five switches in a row. Taking them cautiously one at a time, Mulder flipped the first switch and a set of four lights came on, two on one side, two on the other. The bright light hurt his eyes for a second, and then he was able to focus on what the lights shined on. They were rolling tables; metal slabs like the ones used in the Infirmary.
Flipping the second switch, Mulder saw more of the same. The third switch revealed what he had begun to fear…bodies. There were two of them on his left-hand side. The glow of the lights revealed more beyond them on the left and right hand sides. So, Mulder flipped the fourth switch, then the fifth one. There, way on the other side, was Scully, a gun held to her head by their killer. The very same man Mulder had seen in Lucy’s video. If he was right, Lucy and her friend were one of the ten people he saw on the slabs.
"You’re right," the killer said from behind Scully’s brownish-red hair. "Congratulations."
Instantly, thinking only of Scully, Mulder raised his weapon at the man. "Drop it!"
"Why don’t you drop it?" he asked calmly, his voice carried on an echo.
"Drop your weapon now! I’m a Federal Agent!"
"Oh, I know what you are. Do you?"
Mulder couldn’t begin to fathom what he meant by that, but the look of terror in Scully’s eyes and the matted blood in her hair scared him to death. "Mulder, what the hell is going on in there?!" Mulder heard Frohike say. Byers was right behind him. "We hear a voice. Who is that?"
Gaelen stared Mulder down, seeing his indecision to tell his three friends what was happening. "Go ahead, tell them. Tell them who I am."
Mulder’s skin was crawling with goose flesh, from fear and from the cold, even as he held the gun aimed directly at the killer’s forehead. He knew the man never heard Frohike and Byers. No one’s hearing was that good. The only possible way was if their voices had transferred from his mind to the killer’s. "Very good, Mulder," Gaelen commended him. "You’re catching on." He looked at Mulder curiously for a moment. "Aren’t you going to tell them?"
Mulder hesitated, breathing heavily, wondering if he should continue to play this game. He had no idea what this insane person had planned, but Mulder didn’t want to provoke him. So, for Scully’s sake, he played along. "I have my gun on the bastard who’s been killing children."
"He’s in the room with you?" Byers asked with concern.
"Yeah…and he’s got a gun on Scully, so don’t try anything." There was no answer from the Lone Gunmen. He hoped that was a good sign. Mulder trained his eyes on the killer. "That goes for you, too, you psychotic son of a bitch! Why don’t you take that gun off my partner and we’ll talk about this."
With a shake of his head, Gaelen smiled at Mulder, amazed at his brashness. He began to move forward with Scully, his hand over her mouth, down the center of the tables toward Mulder. "I don’t fancy having a bullet in my head. Unless you’d like to see one in hers, you’ll put your gun down. Then we’ll talk about this."
Mulder followed the killer with his gun as he continued closer toward him. With apprehension tightening around his heart, Mulder watched as Scully’s breath wheezed between the killer’s fingers. "Look, I know you’re an asshole, but the last thing you are is an idiot. You don’t want to be that stupid. You won’t get away with killing an FBI agent." As the killer approached closer to him, Mulder saw the arrogance in his eyes, but more than that; he saw depravity and indifference. He was heartless.
Gaelen’s smile was suddenly gone. So, Mulder thought he controlled the show, was that it? He would show him how depraved he could be. Gaelen pushed the barrel of the gun into Scully’s temple fiercely, causing her to mumble a cry. The reaction on Mulder’s face was immediate, his bravado quickly diminishing. "Don’t push me, Agent Mulder. She means nothing to me. Do you really want to see her brains all over the floor?"
Mulder could tell he was more than serious. Seeing the fear in Scully’s eyes was all it took to convince him to lower the gun. "Okay, okay, I’m putting it down."
"Put it on the table and back away."
Mulder did as he was instructed and placed the gun on the first table on his right hand side, keeping his hand free and clear so that the killer wouldn’t suspect him of any false moves. Mulder’s eyes fell on Scully’s as the killer grabbed the gun and continued to move forward. Her face was white from the cold, but it was the look in her eyes that caused him concern. Mulder backed up to the far end of the table on the left side, watching him cautiously. At any moment, the killer could pull the trigger. Would he be able to do anything about it?
"No," Gaelen answered his rambling thought. Mulder’s face wrinkled up in consternation. Gaelen could see him trying to work out all the many implications in his mind, trying to understand the person who was standing before him.
"How do you do that?" Mulder asked calmly, playing for time, but working his mind overtime to understand what was happening. "Are you reading my mind?"
Gaelen frowned. "That was a very unintelligent question. I thought you had me figured out already. Or was I wrong?"
"I don’t know, yet. You’re different."
"I’m no Jeremiah Smith," Gaelen said with contempt. This creature that Mulder considered another version of himself, was only a pale imitation. Of course, he had similar powers, but what he did with them was a worthless waste. "Is that what you mean?"
"No, you’re nothing like Jeremiah Smith. In fact, you’re the opposite. I’ve never known one of you to attack a human…with such a methodical plan. What are you trying to achieve?" Mulder looked over at the bodies on the tables before him. How many times had he seen images like this? Bodies laid out, almost as if they were on parade just for him to see. These people had been taken from where they belonged, examined, prodded, violated and sometimes horribly disfigured. It angered him, because of what he believed happened to his sister…and because of what happened to Scully. Mulder walked over to the first body, a young man. "I’m going to go out a limb here and say it has something to do with these people."
The killer followed his movements until his back was to the door, but he didn’t respond to Mulder’s sarcastic comment. However, his silence was an answer of sorts. Mulder understood him now. He’d lured them here. No, he lured Mulder here. The killer just told him that Scully meant nothing to him. She wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted Mulder for some reason. Somehow, the killer was able to communicate with him. They shared some common link and he wanted Mulder to know that. He didn’t answer Mulder because he wanted Mulder to answer the questions for himself. A cold hearted smiled spread across the killer’s face, acknowledging Mulder’s thoughts.
It was only then that Mulder paid close attention to the body on the table. It was a young man, but dressed in the most peculiar clothing he’d ever seen. All the ones on the left side were. There were two males, one just a boy. The other four were all female—one woman, the rest little girls.
"What kind of a sick bastard are you?" Mulder asked him, anger blazing in his eyes, but he received no answer. Mulder passed by each one of them, inspecting their clothes. They were dressed in clothes so old in design, even Elvis was more in style than they were. Actually, this was something he would have seen in a history book. Mulder looked at the killer in confusion. "I don’t understand. Where are they from? They’re definitely not from Lake Keating…or this country, for that matter." The killer still refused to answer him, but Mulder was beginning to get a sense of where they could be from. A working theory began to form in his head as he looked into the killer’s eyes for answers.
On the other side, were four more bodies, but they were unlike the other ones. Mulder crossed between the tables to get to them. Just as he suspected, Michael and Lucy were among them, dressed in the same clothes they were wearing on the video. The other two must have been Gormel and McCormak. He wondered, as cold as it was, why they weren’t covered up. He knew they were alive, although he had yet to test the idea. He sensed it, just as he had sensed how to get here.
There were things here that made sense to him, but others that didn’t, like the strangely dressed people. The cold triggered his memory. The alien contagion that was carried by the black oil, or in its other form of a bee sting, was only slowed down or stopped completely by extremely cold temperatures. Scully had once been infected with this virus and kept in a facility in the Arctic under freezing temperatures. Mulder had a sinking feeling this was the same thing. He looked the killer in the eyes and knew it was true.
"You infected these people," Mulder accused him. "Why?" When the killer didn’t respond to Mulder’s accusation, Mulder knew he was left to figure it out all on his own. Reaching a hesitant hand to the girl he only knew as Lucy Lawson, Mulder lifted her eyelid and saw the black fluid swimming through her lifeless eyes. Though he suspected, he had never seen this before and it was a disquieting shock to his senses. It made concentrating on the answers difficult. Knowing what this virus did to the human body, knowing what it created, Mulder still could not fathom the reasons why. He knew why people like the Smoking Man did it, he knew why the alien race as a whole did it, but he could not understand why this "man" wanted to infect these innocent people all on his own.
"You still don’t see it, do you?" Gaelen asked, looking at Mulder oddly.
"See what? Is this a part of the larger plan?"
"This is my plan…my new beginning!"
Mulder sensed, and could even see it on his face, that the killer was quickly loosing his patience. He seemed desperate for Mulder to understand. Why? That was the question he couldn’t even begin to answer. The emotions he could see playing across the killer’s face were so intense, that Mulder was afraid he would intentionally hurt Scully or even kill her to make Mulder understand. He’d never seen such expressive emotions on the faces of any of his kind. Mulder was beginning to question whether his own theory was solid. Mulder walked toward the killer, his arms outstretched in a gesture of calm. "All right, why don’t you just calm down. This isn’t getting either of us anywhere. Why don’t you just tell me what it is you want me to know, because I’m just not getting it."
"Can’t you feel it? Can’t you feel it in your blood?" Gaelen asked forcefully, his face turning red with the emotions that coursed through him. Never had he been this close to feeling the rage that the old pain resurfaced in him. He hated it and yet he reveled in it. "We’re the same," he whispered, staring intently into Mulder’s eyes, inching his way into Mulder’s brain, searching his mind and making the connections.
With a cry, Mulder dropped to his knees as the horrific pain ripped through his head again, nearly driving him insane. There was a ringing in his ears and the voices returned. They screamed at him, forcing him to listen to what they had to say. Voices floated in and out of his head as he collapsed to the floor: "…we’re the same…come with me…we gotta stop that friggin’ prick…do we look like super heroes…would you two, shut up…" But, there was only one voice that he clung to, the one he held onto for dear life…his friend…his constant…his touchstone.
‘Oh my God, no, he’s killing him!’ Scully screamed inside her head. She watched as Mulder rolled up into a ball, obviously in severe pain. He was going white and his eyes were rolling up into his head. She struggled against the stranger’s hold on her. She no longer cared about her own life. If she could stop him from hurting Mulder, she would do what she could. In desperation, she stomped the edge of her heal into his toes. He reacted, but just barely. It was as if he had anticipated her move and was able to deal with the pain, but it didn’t matter. She accomplished her objective…to break his hold on Mulder. Unfortunately, in the process, she only managed to turn his rage on herself.
In his rage, Gaelen threw Scully to the ground, looking down on her like a mere piece of garbage he had to dispose of. She fell face first in front of the first table and could almost feel the gun aiming at the back of her head. She turned her last look in Mulder’s direction and could see him from underneath the table, dazed from pain, but getting to a sitting position. Would the last image she’d ever see of him be his horrified expression?
The killer turned wicked eyes to Mulder slowly, as his finger squeezed the trigger. It was as if it was all some dream and none of this was really happening. Mulder could still hear himself screaming. Scully was looking at him with eyes that told him she would never see him again. He led himself to this eventuality. He would lose Scully right before his eyes. And if this bastard wasn’t smart enough to kill him, too, Mulder would tear him apart limb from limb. He wouldn’t care what ungodly toxins would spew from his body.
Mulder’s nightmarish ending came to a screeching halt when the killer suddenly dropped the gun. He was stunned, standing there with his eyes and his mouth wide. He stumbled backward, reaching for something behind him, and when he moved, Krycek became visible. There was an ugly hatred in his eyes as he watched the killer stumble away from him.
When the crack of gunfire never came, Scully turned and saw with surprise what was happening. Instantly, she got to her feet and grabbed her gun back. The gun was aiming at her captor before she even understood what was happening. She chanced a look in Mulder’s direction and saw him getting to his feet, as well. "You all right?" she asked him.
Mulder nodded to her, his answer quick and curt as he stared at the man who’d tried to kill her. Only now did he see what he was reaching for. Sticking out of the back of his neck was a sharp, metal object.
"Die, you son of a bitch!" cried Krycek. He had stabbed the thin, pen-like dagger into the back of his neck, because it was the only method of death for their kind. He waited for him to die like all the others, to melt away in a green, toxic fizz, but to his surprise, the monster simply pulled the dagger from his neck and threw it to the floor. What shocked him so much that he began to back up against the wall, was the red blood that covered the needle-like dagger.
All of Mulder’s theories went south in a heartbeat at the site of the red blood on the dagger, on the back of the killer’s neck and on his hands. He thought he was confused before. He didn’t know what to think now. "He’s not alien."
Scully looked at Mulder curiously, more in the dark than he was. She noticed his gun still lying on the table where he’d been forced to abandon it. She grabbed it and slapped it into his hand. Mulder took it from her, but was too shocked to even think to use it.
"What the hell are you?" Krycek demanded of the wounded man he had taken for a life form unlike his own.
Gaelen looked up at the three of them, forcing himself to ignore the pain in his neck. How small their minds were. They thought on such basic levels, only on what they knew or understood, that seeing someone as complex as himself was too much for their little minds to handle. "Nothing you could explain in your whole pitiful existence." Gaelen turned his eyes to Mulder. He still felt the connection and was sure that Mulder felt it, too. There were so many questions he sensed Mulder wanted to ask, so much he wanted to know, but Gaelen decided not to tell him. Let him discover the capabilities he had and answer those questions for himself. "There’s more to your existence than you could possibly ever understand. You possess abilities you don’t even know you have. We’re the same, you and I."
Krycek looked at Mulder, piqued by the strange man’s words that he had directed to Mulder. His brow furrowed in confusion, wondering what he was referring to. "What’s he talking about, Mulder?"
Scully dismissed the killer’s words as psychotic ramblings. He was not what Mulder had thought he was. He was no alien. He was human, and with a neck wound that would certainly kill him if not treated by a doctor. He was bleeding profusely. Mulder, on the other hand, was not ready to dismiss his words as mere ramblings. There was meaning somewhere in the insanity of it all. "You said that before. What does it mean?"
The killer merely laughed through his pain. Ignoring them, he reached into his pocket… "Put your hands up!" Scully yelled, aiming her weapon. He continued to reach into his pocket. "I said put your hands up!!"
Mulder rested a hand on her outstretched arm. "Scully, put the gun down." Scully looked at him like he was crazy, but when she turned back, she saw that there was no weapon in his hand. Instead, there was some strange triangular device in the bloody palm of his right hand. Krycek saw it, too. He started walking forward, his fear of the man seemingly gone.
"What do you mean by that?!" Mulder continued to ask. "Answer my question!"
"He’s not going to answer you, Mulder," Krycek told him. He had no idea what the strange man was up to, but Krycek knew one thing…they couldn’t just let him live. Not with the knowledge he held and the way he had been using that knowledge to do just about whatever he wanted. He could upset the entire plan. "Just kill him, Scully."
"Shut up, jackass," Mulder hollered at him.
"If you don’t kill him, he’ll get away!"
Gaelen continued to ignore them, walking farther away from them toward the table where he kept his bodies. Let them squabble, he thought. There would be less interference in what he had to do.
"Ignore him, Scully," Mulder told her. "Put the gun down. He’s got no where to go."
Scully’s lip quivered as she said, "You don’t know that. You don’t know how I got here." She could see Mulder looking at her questioningly out of the corner of her eye, but she didn’t give him any answers. There was no time for answers, for as Scully stared at the monster before her, something strange began to happen. It drew everyone’s attention.
Gaelen stood at the other end of the room, his face white from pain, but he ignored it. Closing his eyes, he placed his bloody hands, as he held onto the triangular device, on the two tables in front of him and a bright, white light began to fill the room. Instinctively, Scully and Krycek shielded their eyes from the light that filled the room, but Mulder didn’t. Though the light hurt his eyes, he forced himself to look. He watched the light permeate the room as it extended to each of the bodies that lay on the tables. They glowed like the stars in the heavens seeming to rise up off of the tables and float in the air. The man Mulder only knew as ‘the killer’ was silhouetted in the glow of these bodies. His eyes remained closed as the light faded away…and the bodies disappeared.
Uncovering her eyes, Scully was in shock when the bodies were no longer in the room. In this room, reality had no boundaries and what was fantasy became real. She backed away. There was no way she could deal with this and remain sane.
Mulder was too amazed to be shocked, but was close to realizing what had happened. "Where did you take them?!" There was no answer. He simply stared at Mulder, but in his head, Mulder heard: ‘Come find out.’ Mulder shook his head, not understanding…not wanting to comply.
In his hand, the killer held the strange triangular device. As he played his thumb across the top of it, he continued to stare at Mulder. Mulder couldn’t move an inch as the bright, white light returned. He now knew what was going to happen and he knew he was powerless to stop it. He was powerless to stop this strange deviation of nature that only looked human.
Krycek was still in a state of shock, but after all the things he had seen up until this moment, this was no surprise. His shock came from the realization that this thing was not what he thought he was…and that made him a much greater threat.
The light surrounding the killer became so strong, that wind blew in the room like the wind from a hurricane. Scully fought to stand her ground. This time she would not cower; she would see with her own eyes what was going to happen.
Gaelen turned from them, their curious eyes watching him like he were some god ascending to a heavenly place. Then, he turned away from them and disappeared into the light. However, Mulder refused to let it end so easily. He could not allow him to continue the brutality he’d so methodically began. He didn’t care where it took him. He would stop him and he would mark this x-files case solved. As the light remained, seeming to wait for him, Mulder made his decision. He glanced once behind him to look at Scully, then ran into the light and disappeared.
From the very beginning, things had not gone just as The Lone Gunmen had imagined it would. It had been a simple plan: get in, find the kids, get out. But, this simple plan had gone to hell in a matter of minutes. As they sat there, on the edge of their seats, listening through their headphones as these bizarre events were unfolding right below them, they were completely silent, like three old ladies watching the most dramatic scene in their favorite soap opera. Every so often, one would speak, asking a question of another that there was no answer to.
Any attempts that had been made to contact Mulder or Scully during these events were either not heard or ignored in the heat of the moment. They gathered that, at a certain point, the killer, who had been holding Scully at gunpoint, was now disarmed and being held at gunpoint himself. Then, strange things began to happen. "That sounds like wind blowing against their mikes," Byers announced.
"Wind? Are you nuts?" exclaimed Frohike. "Their inside an enclosed room!"
"I’m telling you, that’s what it sounds like."
Langly was silent as he watched Mulder and Scully’s dots move around with no apparent course. He wished he could see what was happening in there, instead of just hearing. Why hadn’t they used their brains and wired them with mini-cameras instead of mikes? If only he could turn back time. ‘Ugh,’ he thought to himself. ‘What’s with the Cher lyric all of a sudden? I hate her!’
Without warning, Mulder’s dot began to move and, in an instant, was gone. "Whoa! Whoa! What the hell?!"
"What happened?!" Byers asked with sudden concern.
"Mulder’s gone, man! He just friggin’ disappeared!"
"What kind of a joke you trying to pull?!" came Frohike’s angry question.
"This ain’t no joke, man, look!" They both leaned over and saw with shock that Langly spoke the truth.
Just as she had intended, Scully stood her ground…and saw more than she wanted to. Her sense of reality faded away like a really good dream and now she was waking to a nightmare. Total disbelief surrounded her as she watched the killer disappear into the light that formed behind him. Yet, that could not top the sudden shock and emptiness she felt when Mulder disappeared right behind him with only a small glance back in her direction. The glance back had said nothing to her, only to show her the determination in his eyes to catch this person she was not able to refer to as human, because no human could perform the things she had witness here tonight. Not even David Copperfield was that good.
The only thing she could think was: ‘He left me.’ Once again, Mulder left her alone, leaving her to sort through the mess, to answer the questions and to face the consequences. How could he do that to her again? Seconds passed as her mind raced, forced to choose between two decisions: follow Mulder or stay here. The light flickered.
Looking at her through the swirling, cold wind, Krycek could see that Scully was trying to decide what she should do. He was afraid Mulder had made a terribly stupid mistake and if he didn’t stop her, Scully would make one too. Krycek shouted through the roar of the wind. "Don’t do it, Scully! Don’t be that stupid! You’ll only be following Mulder to his death!"
Scully turned briefly to Krycek, as the light flickered again, repulsed at the idea that he knew what was right and what was not right for her to do. Mulder was her partner and her friend. If she had to follow him to his death to try and save him, she would. But, there wasn’t much time. The light was beginning to flicker repetitively. She would have to make her decision and hope it was a good one.
Not giving him so much as a ‘goodbye’, Krycek watched Scully run and jump into the light just as it was closing. He shielded his eyes from the brightness of the light and the power it wielded. When the light and the wind quickly faded away, Krycek lowered his hands and stared at the room. The room was completely empty and he was alone.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone for long. Soldier’s burst into the room with weapons raised, but they neither surprised nor frightened Krycek. He obeyed when they ordered him to put his hands behind his head. He didn’t react when they cuffed him; neither did he fight when they led him from the room. His eyes were focused on the spot in the room where the light had been…the strange light that Mulder and Scully had disappeared into.
Mulder’s feet hit the ground running, but his senses went haywire. Things were suddenly not quite what they were. All at once, Mulder went from cold, metal walls to a humid maze of trees and thick bramble, but he had no time to wonder how he got there. His prey was very far ahead of him. Mulder could hear the killer huffing and puffing through the darkness. He hadn’t known what to expect when he made the hasty decision to follow him into the bright light. For all he knew, he was heading into an alien world, but that was obviously not the case now. He thought that perhaps they had simply transferred to outside and that any minute now he’d run into Langly, Byers and Frohike. Though he liked the idea, it never happened. Strange things were occurring and his mind was alive with questions. Would he have them answered? Maybe so, because he was closing in on his prey, the one with the answers to all his questions.
Mulder gained momentum and leapt forward, bringing the man face down. Holding him to the ground, Mulder pulled his handcuffs from his back pocket. The killer started laughing and Mulder was unnerved by it. He wondered why he didn’t just disappear in a blaze of lights again. Shoving his face in the dirt, Mulder asked angrily and out of breath, "What are laughing at, you son of a bitch?!" Though his face was being shoved into wet dirt, the killer continued to laugh arrogantly, as if he knew something Mulder didn’t. "What’s so funny, huh?! You’re not going to be laughing when I haul your ass off to jail." He shoved his face into the dirt again. "What did you do with those people? Come on, answer me! I’m not going to stand around all night and play your games!"
Allowed to come up for a breather, Gaelen responded. "Whether you want to believe it or not, you have. You played right into my hands, Agent Mulder."
"What are you talking about?" Mulder asked, trying to understand. "I don’t understand."
"No, but you will." He was silent for a moment, catching his breath. Then he commanded, "Get him!"
Mulder still didn’t understand until he heard the bushes rustling around him and a small army of bizarrely dressed, tall, muscular men surrounded him. They all carried big knives or spears, and wore armor from head to toe. Mulder thought to himself bleakly, ‘All I’ve got is a gun.’ Though fearful of the wide array of weapons displayed before him, Mulder chose to hide his fear with a witty remark. "I didn’t know you were attracted to the ‘Conan The Barbarian’ type. No wonder you’re messed up."
Quickly annoyed and out of patience with Mulder, Gaelen commanded, "Shut him up."
The next thing Mulder knew, his face was shoved into the dirt. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get away, but he fought to anyway, losing his gun in the process. One of the big, burly men grabbed him and stood him up to face the killer as he got to his feet. Mulder stared into his eyes, which were brimming with malice. The big man suddenly grabbed his head in both his hands and began to turn his head at an irregular angle. Mulder reached behind him to grab at the man who was trying to twist his head from his shoulders. "Hey!"
"Do you want me to break his neck, Lord Gaelen?" the barbarian named Etimus asked.
Gaelen approached Mulder, who was looking to him to stop Etimus from twisting his head from his shoulders. Giving Mulder a jolt of fear, Gaelen pretended to think on the matter, but in the end, he put a stop to the assault. "Let him go, Etimus." Kneeling down, Gaelen grabbed Mulder’s gun from the ground and pointed it at him.
"Yes, Lord Gaelen."
"Lord Gaelen?" Mulder asked as if making polite conversation, attempting to crane his neck back into a comfortable position. He glanced warily at the gun pointed at his stomach. "So what, you gonna kill me now? After all this, you’re just going to shoot me?"
"No." Without a moment’s hesitation, Gaelen brought the butt of the gun down on Mulder’s head. In seconds, he was unconscious.
Spender had been off the phone with A.D. Skinner for a little over an hour now. His Assistant Director had told him to stay put and keep abreast of the situation, and that he was on the next flight out to Lake Keating. A.D. Skinner had sounded particularly worried and upset at the news Spender had had to relay to him. Spender knew Mulder and Scully had been agents under Skinner’s direction for some time when they worked in the x-files unit. Spender was curious as to their personal relationship and how much A.D. Skinner had assisted them in their investigations. Unfortunately, now was not the time to speculate on such things. Especially since strange things were taking place at the base.
Spender raised his binoculars to his eyes again and saw the front gates opening. From the open gates, came armed guards and several military vehicles at a high rate of speed. Several took an abrupt westerly turn, but at least one of them looked like it was heading right in his direction. He lowered the binoculars, suddenly concerned. Could they be coming after him? He wasn’t about to wait and find out.
Throwing the binoculars into the passenger seat, Spender jumped in after them, slammed the door and started the engine. He didn’t even take time to fasten his seat belt.
As the Lone Gunmen were trying to figure out what happened to Mulder, Scully’s dot disappeared right before their eyes, just as Mulder’s had. "Oh, man! What is going on?!"
"This is not good!" Frohike shouted right along with Langly.
Byers rose from his seat slowly, his eyes fixed on the base in the distance. There was fear written all over his face. Pointing, he said, "And that’s even worse."
Noticing the direction that Byers’ finger was pointing, Langly and Frohike stared in dismay at the distant lights of military vehicles heading their way. Had they spotted them? Had they perhaps picked up on the signals they were sending out or receiving? There was no time to wonder. At the rate of speed the vehicles were traveling, they would be there in a matter of minutes.
"Oh, shit!" Langly cursed.
"Get the gear! Get the gear!" Frohike frantically ordered.
At a frenzied pace, the three of them began stuffing equipment back in their carry cases. As the seconds ticked by and vehicles came closer, they shouted left and right at each other: "Gimme that!" "Put that in there!" "Take this!" "Don’t leave any evidence behind!" Just as everything was ready to go, Frohike realized they had forgotten one thing—the telescope, still assembled and staring undauntedly at the trouble that was coming. "You guys, what about my telescope?!"
They turned back worriedly, their arms full of backpacks and leather, laptop carry cases. Though they did not want to leave any evidence of their ever having been there, a decision had to be made hastily. "Leave it!" Byers said.
"But, we can’t leave it here!"
"We don’t have time!"
Frohike turned and saw that the vehicles were almost on top of them. No, they didn’t have time. All thoughts of his telescope were gone as he followed the guys running into the dark woods. "Who’s got the flashlight?!" he shouted, his voice shaky as he ran. "We’ll never find our way back without the flashlight!!"
"I don’t have it!" Langly responded. "You must have it!"
"I don’t have it, you dumb blonde!"
"I’m going to make you eat those words when we get out of this…if we get out of this!"
"I’ve got it!" shouted Byers in fear and frustration. "Now, come on!"
The light from the flashlight pierced through the darkness, giving them some sense of relief, but the sound of the vehicles coming to a stop back at the open field and soldiers’ voices yelling commands, made the sense of relief a false one. They continued to pound through the darkness, finally finding the yellow tape that would take them back to the highway, but what then? They had no transportation. Mulder had driven away in the only transportation they had.
They bounded out onto the dirt trail that led to the highway, uncertain what their next turn was. Frohike turned on Byers. "Now what, Mr. Smarty Pants?"
"What are we going to do now?" Langly asked, joining Frohike in ganging up on little Byers. "We haven’t got any way out of here?!"
With no other options, Byers continued to run for the highway. "Let’s just get to the road!"
"And what?!" question Frohike, running after Byers. "You think we’re gonna just hitch-hike into some hot chick’s car?!"
Byers ignored him. Actually, he didn’t know what was going to happen. He just knew he wasn’t going to stop running until he was sure there were no longer any soldiers with guns chasing him. But, by some dumb luck, as they reached the highway, they happened upon a car coming straight for them. Without thinking, Byers jumped out onto the road, Langly and Frohike following like they were all in the mood for a good suicide. They jumped and shouted, forcing the car to come to a screeching halt only inches from them. The Gunmen couldn’t have guessed that the driver of the car was ‘the prick in the suit’ who had badgered them about being in Mulder’s motel room.
His heart still pounding at the near collision, Spender stepped from the car, the door propped open and looked at the three men who stood in the middle of the road weighed down with all sorts of carry-ons. "You three?!"
Frohike is the first to react, hurriedly heading for the driver’s side, as the sound of soldiers’ voices became louder. "Why, Agent Spender, what a surprise it is to see you." He grabbed the door and forced Spender back in the car, as Byers and Langly circled around to the back passenger seats.
But Spender refused to budge. "Hey, what’s going on here?!"
"Just a friendly car-jacking," Langly responded as he passed behind the car and quickly smashed the bulb over the license plate with the edge of his laptop carry case.
"We’re here to save your skinny ass! Now, get in!" Frohike pushed Spender in the rest of the way and jumped in behind him. Byers and Langly jumped into the back seat after their gear was thrown in. They looked back to see pinpoints of lights bobbing through the brush and knew the soldiers were on their way.
"Step on it, man! They’re coming!" Langly demanded to the new driver of Spender’s rental car.
"Go, go, go!" Byers said, slapping his hand on the back of the seat with each ‘go’.
Frohike slammed his foot on the gas and everyone was slammed into the back of the seats, like patrons on a roller coaster. They looked back just as soldiers ran out onto the highway, the bobbing flashlights connected to the ends of their rifles—rifles that were aimed at their swiftly moving car.
"Get down!" Spender shouted as he saw the first flash of gunfire.
A barrage of gunfire was heard just as the back window blew out and shattered glass flew into the car. They covered their heads and shielded their eyes, but were unable to protect themselves from a few nicks and cuts. As they sped away from the soldiers, they were finally able to heave a heavy sigh of relief. They’d made it out of there with their lives.
"I can’t believe we made it," Langly said, trying to catch his breath. He caught Byers’ eyes and they shared the moment.
Frohike was less sentimental that Langly and Byers. "That’s more than I can say for Mulder and Scully."
"What do you mean?" Spender asked in shock. He was suddenly concerned, not only for Mulder and Scully, but also for himself. If something had happened to them, this would have repercussions on him. "What happened to Mulder and Scully?"
The Lone Gunmen looked at Spender, then looked between themselves. There was no answer they could give to him that would make any sense, so they said nothing. Instead, they sat quietly, with reserved faces and eyes that would not meet Spender’s.
fan fic index <> homepage