Mulder awoke slowly. He brought his hands to eyes, trying to wipe the sleep
out of them. He was a little dizzy, and hesitated to open them.
"Hey, he's waking up," he heard a male voice say distantly.
Immediately, he felt nauseous and rolled over and vomited.
This time, the voice was much more clear, and he recognized it as belonging
to John Baxter.
He hazarded attempt at opening his eyes, and he did so.
The nausea began to lift, and he blinked and looked around him.
He was in one of the staterooms on the Prometheus Unbound, and Baxter was
sitting near him on another bunk, nautical maps strewn about him. He was
looking with disgust at the floor that Mulder had just soiled, and then
glanced up at Mulder.
"Sorry," Mulder apologized.
"That's alright," he said, though he didn't sound much like he meant it.
"We're just glad to see you conscious. Feel better?"
"Do you know how long you've been out?"
Mulder shook his head.
"About three days."
"Three days?" Mulder asked, surprised.
"Yeah," John said. "Do you remember what happened?"
He thought about the storm, about bringing the life vests up from the
cabin, and then succumbing to the visions from his past while prone on the
"Some of it. What happened?"
"That's what we were going to ask you," John said, "you were coming up on
the deck to help me loose the sail in the storm, and the next thing we
know, you're laying there, barely hanging on, and then, whoosh, you were
overboard. What happened to you? Cass said she was watching and that
nothing hit you, you just suddenly collapsed."
"I." Mulder started, looking up and into John Baxter's eyes, "I remembered.
Everything. I don't know how, or why, but it all just hit me."
"You're kidding." John said, a little unbelieving.
"No," Mulder answered him, sitting up in the bunk. "I'm not. What happened
when I went over?"
John stared at him for a moment, then shook himself and spoke up.
"Well, I saw you go in, and I dove in after you. We're lucky you were
wearing a life vest, or we'd both be dead. Cass managed to get us into the
boat, and at that point you were unconscious. I think you know the rest."
Mulder nodded and looked down at his bare chest. He rubbed at his beard and
looked about the cabin. Finally, he spotted his clothes, folded on another
bunk. He rose and began to dress, pulling the jeans on gingerly, his right
hand still hurting a little from his stint on the bridge, and stepped aside
as John walked into the cabin after retrieving some paper towels. By the
time he'd finished dressing and was pulling on his shoulder holster, Baxter
had finished cleaning up his mess.
John threw the towels into a trash bag and headed for the door, turning for
"Come on," he said. "Let's go let everybody see you and tell them the good
"So, you remember everything?" Invictus asked, as they all stood around the
deck, the sky a sunny one, in deep contrast to the way it looked the last
time Mulder had seen it.
Mulder thought back to the day he'd first seen Invictus.
He was standing on the side street near the Hard Rock Café in downtown DC,
not far from the Hoover building. Invictus approached, and Mulder turned
before he reached him, and headed down the next alleyway.
Invictus rounded the corner and paused.
"Agent Mulder," he said, nodding.
"McCloud," Mulder nodded back.
"Where's your partner?" Invictus had asked him.
Mulder felt the conflicting emotions he'd felt then once again, and again
regretted not telling Scully where he'd gone.
At that point, the van had pulled into the alley, blocking their exit, and
two men dressed in waitstaff uniforms from the Hard Rock stepped out of the
building behind them, and they were trapped.
Mulder shook his head to clear it, and looked to Invictus.
"Yeah," he said. "I remember you."
Invictus took in Mulder's pained expression and pulled him to the side as
the others set back to working on the boat.
"What's the matter?" He asked him.
Mulder looked out over the water, casting his eyes in the full 360 degrees
around the boat. There was no land in sight. Inside, he felt just as lost.
He found Invictus' eyes again, and he shook his head.
"It's nothing," he mumbled.
"Your partner?" Invictus asked him honestly.
Mulder sighed and nodded.
Invictus took a moment standing beside Mulder then asked, "So why are you
remembering? Why now?"
"That," Mulder said, "is the one thing I can't figure out."
"So you were up on the deck."
"And the storm broke, lightning flashed, and there it was."
"The lightning." Invictus said quietly to himself.
"What?" Mulder asked.
"The lightning," Invictus repeated, louder this time. "Were you looking
right at it?"
"Maybe that's it then," Invictus said.
"What's it? What do you mean?" Mulder asked.
"Well, you know the principles behind epilepsy seizures? How, like, a
strobe light can induce them?"
"Maybe it set something off in your head like that. Although, I can't
really see how or why for sure."
Mulder got a strange look on his face and bit the inside of his cheek.
"What?" Asked Invictus when he hazarded a look at him.
"Well, I don't really remember all that well, but, according to my mother,
I suffered from epilepsy seizures until I was twelve."
Invictus stared blankly at him for a moment and then shifted on his feet.
"I guess that explains that, then."
The two men stood on the gently swaying deck for five minutes more in
silence, then made their way back down toward the galley.
When they arrived in the main stateroom, Cassidy had the electronics board
open and was arguing with Alan Shirilla.
They didn't hear or see the two men come in and continued quibbling for a
moment while Mulder and Invictus watched on in silence.
Finally, Mulder broke in.
"What seems to be the problem, here?" He asked.
Cassidy stopped her rant mid-sentence, glared at Alan a moment before she
composed herself and turned to the two men.
"The storm threw us off of our course, and lightning hit the ship, which
knocked most of the electronics either completely off, or it screwed them
up something fierce. I'm trying to tell Alan here that we're headed in the
right direction, but he maintains his stance that I don't know how to read
"That's not," Alan began, then paused a moment, trying to regain his own
composure, "that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that we've been out
here lakeside forever. We should be there by now. I think we're going in
"And *I* was saying," Cass went on, "that the last time I checked, my
compass still worked."
"I just proposed the idea that maybe the aliens might have the technology
to screw that up."
"They don't have the power to demagnetize the entire *planet* Alan," Cass
said, beginning to show her irritation with the man once more.
Alan opened his mouth to protest, but Mulder interrupted.
"That's," he started, "pretty unlikely."
Alan shot him a dirty look, but remained silent.
"What about GPS?" Mulder continued.
Cass shook her head but kept her eyes on the maps in front of her.
"The satellites stopped working long ago."
Invictus stepped forward to take a look at the instrument and electronics
panel when John Baxter came all but sliding down the stairs, excitedly.
"Land!" He shouted a bit loudly in the crowded stateroom, "I saw land up
there. We made it!"
The group couldn't scramble to the deck fast enough.
Diana's face was frozen into a grimace that accentuated the care-worn lines
on her face. Scully tried to avoid looking at her as she crouched over to
remove the heavy beams and boards that were pinning her to the ground, but
could not avoid seeing the small trickle of blood by her mouth, guessing
that Diana had bit her lip in an attempt to hid her scream of pain as
Scully dragged a steel sheet off of her torso.
"I'm sorry this is hurting," she said with something akin to pity in her
Diana's breaths came out fast but shallow. Her face was almost as pale as
the blanket of snow she lay on. "It's not your fault," she rasped as
Scully pulled hard at a beam.
After some struggle with said beam, Scully told Diana, "I'm going to get
some help," as she wiped the sweat from her brow. A hand suddenly caught
her elbow and Scully stared down in disbelief at the strength of the grip.
"Please don't leave me, Dana. I'm almost free. Please . . . " Tears were
teetering on the edge but did not spill over. "I don't want to be left
Scully tightened her mouth, but she nodded in compliance to Diana's
request. Her mind though was abuzz. Why was Diana afraid? Was there something
out there, roaming unchecked . . . ? She shuddered as she gave one last great
pull and felt the heavy wooden beam groan unhappily at being moved. Scully
felt a twinge of dissatisfaction at having to free Diana,
especially after all she had done to them, but she was not a cruel woman, even if she
had a reason to be. She would not let that change. If she found Mulder
again, she would return to him the same woman and start back where they had
left off, if they could say they had actually left off *somewhere*.
"Can you walk?" Her voice was chilly as her eyes.
"I think I just need a little support." She looked up at Scully, her eyes
wide and droopy like a puppy dog. Scully sighed, not completely in
irritation but more so in pity.
"Here." She bent down and Diana sat up, moaning in considerable pain and
wrapped one arm around Scully's shoulder. "Lean on me."
"I don't have much of a choice. You're much shorter than I am." Diana
smiled at her attempt at humor. Scully let it pass and together they
struggled through drifts of snow and years of animosity toward the house
where tension, anger, and the truth would undoubtedly reveal itself as it
welcomed them back.
Home sweet home, she thought.
She could read nothing and everything in their eyes when she entered,
dragging Diana behind her. She made no pretense, made no effort to explain
then, and took Diana upstairs to be deposited into a room. On their way up
Diana made no move to hide her extreme pain. She clutched at her chest,
almost sobbing as she jerked and wobbled up the stairs. She was having a
very hard time breathing. Scully marveled that she had made it this far.
Although she had no equipment and had not looked Diana carefully over, Scully
sensed that time was running out for the once tenacious Agent
Fowley--traitor to the human race, she added as a side-thought.
Diana moaned mournfully as she laid down, and dropped off to sleep not soon
after Scully left the room to face Richter and Elspeth.
Richter stood at the bottom of the staircase when she descended. His face
looked impassive, but she knew it was anything but that. He opened his
mouth to speak, but she raised a hand and he stopped. Brushing past him,
she walked into the living room where Elspeth sat, face turned to the
window outside. Richter stopped in the archway of the room and leaned up against
the curve of the wall.
"No food?" she inquired looking at the open soup can and the fire.
"No water," Richter said flatly. "You went out for the icicles and
"Feel free to hide your contempt for me," Scully snapped.
"We were more worried about what had happened to you. We were talking
about going out to find you when you came back in . . ." Elspeth trailed off.
"With her," Richter finished, the sneer of the early days returning.
Scully scowled. "Richter, get off your high horse, will you? Did you even
stop to consider why I brought her here?" Her face grew red, but not from
the heat of the fire that glowed behind her.
"I'm wondering why you didn't leave her out there to die."
"Because I'm not you."
That shut him up, and he turned away, ashamed.
"I'm sick of this fighting, and this mistrust! How long have we been
together? We have been through so much, but still this bickering!" She
glowered at Richter. "Try to learn to ask questions before you pass
"We have been together a while," he began again, the anger rising once
more, "but we still know so little about each other." He glanced quickly, and
sadly, over to Elspeth who seemed to be lost in thought. "And if it only
were so easy, Dana. There isn't time to ask questions, and you know why?
Because people lie, and sometimes when you take too much time for courtesy,
you find yourself lying dead in your own blood."
"Is there so little trust in your heart for me? For Elspeth? Do you
think that we're conspiring against you?" Her voice was much softer now, the
anger burned out.
"Didn't your friend Mulder believe that everything was a conspiracy?" She
froze at his inhuman tone, but she recovered.
"Maybe, but I trusted him, and he trusted me, and he did not let his anger
and prejudices cloud his mind."
He paced, looking back at her, and then at Elspeth.
Scully's voice changed "She's dying, Richter. It won't be long."
"Then why didn't you leave her?"
"Because . . . . There are things we still don't know or understand. Maybe
she can give us the answers."
"She could just as easily lie to us."
"But why? She's dying." They both turned to look . Elspeth spoke now.
"Maybe telling us what we want to know will clear her conscious. She can
die knowing that she did something good, regardless of what she was
before." She turned away again, pulling her blanket up closer to her chin.
"What's she got to lose?"
"Are you here to listen to my confession?"
Scully placed a tray of warm soup on the night stand adjacent to Diana's
"If you like, but I'm just here to bring you some food."
"I can feed myself."
"I had no intention of feeding you."
"You really don't like me, do you?"
Scully pulled out a chair from a nearby desk and moved it towards the bed.
She sat down, patience and calm coloring her demeanor.
"It really doesn't matter if I like you or not, does it? It didn't seem to
"What if I said I was sorry?"
"You would actually have to be sincere for me to care, Diana. You'll get
no reaction otherwise." Scully pulled distractedly at a tiny ball of lint
that had gathered on the sweatshirt she was wearing.
"That was a low-blow," Diana said, hurt.
"Yes it was, but it's true, isn't it?"
Diana changed the subject, speaking not with irritation, but more of a
resignation in her voice. "I'm dying, aren't I?"
Scully almost softened with pity. "Yes," she said quietly. "I'm not going
to lie to you." Diana gulped hard, and her hands shook. However, Scully
continued. "A couple of your ribs are crushed, and it doesn't take X-rays
and tests to see that you are bleeding internally." She motioned to the
area above Diana's stomach. "I think two of your floating ribs have broken
and collapsed in on your abdominal cavity, likely puncturing some organs
there." Suddenly, she stopped, realizing that her cold analysis was not
going to make Diana's inevitable death any more comfortable. "I'm sorry
that there's nothing I can do to help." She spread her hands out, palms
up, helplessly. "I have nothing to make it better, and nothing to make the
pain go away." Diana nodded as she continued. "I'll try to make you as
comfortable as possible . . ."
"Before I die," Diana finished tonelessly. A tear trickled down her cheek,
and more came following after it. Yet she did not sob. It was like rain
on a sunny day--odd and out of place. As the flow of tears began to stop,
Diana tried to straighten herself in bed with more dignity. The haughty
face also seemed to return, much to Scully's disgust and dismay.
"We're two women who understand each other," Diana said out of the blue.
"No, I really don't think we are, Diana," Scully returned sharply. "I
really don't understand why you do what you do. That's why I'm here. I
need you to answer some questions for me."
Diana ignored her and continued. "We are two women who understand each
other," she asserted, "but you're afraid to admit it."
"Admit what?" Scully asked agitated.
Scully stiffened. "What?"
"We both loved him. We still do." Diana sounded smug, but Scully did not
look at her face.
Love, not *loved*, Scully thought despairingly. And though not willing to
verbalize it, Scully could not control the compulsion to mouth the words,
and Diana saw this and smiled.
"What are you trying to get at?" Scully asked irritably.
"I just want you to realize that though we are different, in some ways we
are alike. I'm not all bad, Dana. I still have love and compassion in me,
no matter how dead inside you think I am."
"I'm not here to be your judge, Diana. God has that right, not me. I'm
just here to question you."
"Why should I cooperate?" Diana began to cough, grabbing for a tissue from
the nightstand. A small red stain appeared to blossom on the fragile sheet
"You don't have to cooperate," Scully shrugged, "but if your deeds lie on
your conscience at all, maybe this is how you can die with a clean slate.
Unmake the harm you have done. You're not a bad person, Diana," Scully
continued. "You've just been misguided."
Diana seemed to consider it and then looking up as she pulled away the
blood-stained tissue, she said, "What do you want to know?"
Scully took a deep breath and leaned forward in her chair. "Tell me why we
have been chased across half the country."
"You still don't know?" she muttered with a shake of her head. "Your
friend Elspeth is who they want. She hasn't told you what she is yet?"
Scully felt a twinge of pain hit her broadside. "No," she said hoarsely.
"She's revealed only so much, but I trust her."
"No reason why you shouldn't," Diana said matter-of-factly. "Don't worry,
she's not a traitor, but I am really surprised still that she hasn't told
you anything about what she is." Diana leaned forward like a sixth-grader
with a pressing secret to tell. "She's a hybrid. Full-blown,
full-blooded, made in America hybrid. Just like Cassandra Spender. You remember her,
Scully leaned back, puzzled. "Well that's a surprise, but why should it
matter . . ."
"Because she's the link. You must have heard about the slaughter at
Antioch? Oh you must--your man down there was one of the ringleaders . . .
those people, they weren't hybrids, you know. Most of them were clones.
The others, just some very unlucky men and women."
"That's horrible!" Scully cried. "They died
without purpose. . . Why?"
"Those idiots didn't know anything!"
"Why is she so key? What makes her worth the slaughter of all those
Diana hesitated and coughed. "I honestly don't know why they want her so
much. My job was to find her and deliver her--alive. You and your friend
were lucky that I recognized you, or else you would've burned in that
"Should I be thankful for that?" Scully said acidly, not at all
appreciating Diana's patronizing tone.
"Sorry." Diana suddenly lurched forward and began spasming and coughing.
Scully leaned forward and supported her.
"I also need to know--is the vaccine really in Madison?"
"Yes." Another cough. "You're headed there, aren't you?"
"No where else to go. But tell me, why Wisconsin?"
"Why not Wisconsin? They used the facilities at the university to produce
the vaccine, I'm assuming."
"'They'? Who are 'They'?"
Diana broke out into another spasm of coughs as her condition was worsening
almost by the minute. "You tell me," she rasped. "I don't know, and I'm
damn certain I'm not going to be around to find out."
"What are the colonists planning?"
"They're colonists--what else do you think they're going to do?" The next
set of racking coughs disabled her as Diana Fowley broke into
uncontrollable sobs of pain. "I can't, I can't answer anymore. Please let me rest."
Scully nodded. She had enough information, and there was no reason more to
torture the dying woman, although she was tempted with one last question.
She kept quiet though because she believed, with or without confirmation
from another source, that he was, indeed, still alive. Scully remained by
Diana's side--a quiet watcher. Time passed, but more in feeling. Minutes
turned to hours and dusk turned into deep evening.
Diana was going fast. Her breathing began to slow, but she remained lucid.
Her eyes blinked open weakly, and Diana turned her head to Scully, who
dozing slightly jerked awake.
"Thank you," she began, "for helping me--even after all . . ."
"Shh," Scully said, patting Diana's hand. With that, a last breath broke
from her lips and she shuddered dead, eyes half-opened and locked onto
Scully stood up and shut Diana's eyes with her hand. For this woman, she
thought, it was going to be a long struggle to God, but she resolved to
pray for her and help her on her way.
One last look and Scully moved out of the room and down the stairs to find
Richter and Elspeth. It was time to move on. She shut the door quietly
though there was no way she was going to disturb the dead. She forgot
about the soup. It sat on the nightstand next to dead, neglected, uneaten and
"We'll bury her before we go." Scully stood and addressed them before the
"What did she tell you?" Richter inquired. He was still wiping the sleep
from his eyes.
Scully looked at Elspeth, and it seemed that in that glance, they both
became aware of the mutual secret they now shared.
"I'll tell you tomorrow. We need to get some rest for the trip."
"Trip? Already?" Elspeth asked.
"We'll find another car in the morning and then we're off to Madison.
God," she muttered in vain, "we've got to get moving. We've been inactive so
long that nothing is going to happen if we don't make it so."
"Then tomorrow," Elspeth said.
"Tomorrow," Scully replied, shutting her eyes and saying a silent
prayer--for all of them. They would need all the help they could get.