Chapter 2

Mulder rolled over slowly and groaned. The light was bright and his head
spun wildly to the left. The pain behind his eyes was reminiscent of a hangover,
but that didn't go on to explain what was happening to the rest of his brain.
He closed his eyes and thought of how he'd gotten wherever he was because he couldn't
remember. Anything. Not his name, his occupation, his family. His mind was
a total blank, and he was seized immediately by panic.

He sat up quickly and regretted it instantly. His head lolled involuntarily
toward his chest and he grabbed it with both of his hands.

"Fuck me!" he gasped.

The pain was ferocious, beating in his ears and roared in his veins and
spread from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. And then it faded. As quickly
as it had come, it was gone, and aside from the throbbing in his skull, left no trace of
its previous existence.

"It speaks!" a loud voice laughed, and Mulder jumped and spun his head to
his left, seeking its source. "Not the richest language I've heard, but it speaks
nonetheless." A man stood up from his bunk, across the room from Mulder's bed and
slowly walked towards him. Mulder followed him silently with his eyes. "Fox
Mulder," the man stated simply. "I didn't know if they were ever going to
bring you back here."

"Who?" Mulder croaked, swinging his legs over the bed and digging his palms
into his eyes. "What the hell is going on?" He mumbled to himself, head still bowed.

The man backed up and flopped back down on his own bed, his white
scrub-like pants and shirt bunching up beneath him.

"Of all the people who could beat them, I would have thought it'd be you."
He heaved a sad sigh and continued. "I guess I *am* the only survivor."

"Survivor of *what*?" Mulder asked, slowly meeting the mans eyes with an
irritated glare.

"This whole bloody travesty, Mr. Mulder. This colonization. This whole
wonderful expansion. This perfect instance of Manifest Destiny coming back
to bite us right on the ass." He paused and his expression lightened somewhat.
"More specifically though, the memory wipe, which you are so obviously suffering
from." The man ran his fingers back through his dusty blond hair, "You're smart.
Not smart enough to avoid being captured, but I'd have at least thought that you'd
beat the memory wipe." He sighed again. "Everything *is* going straight to hell."

"Who are you?" Mulder asked. "Come to think of it, who am I? How do you
know me? What is this place?"

The man grinned a little and looked at him. "Glad to know they didn't suck
your personality out too. Still as ever curious as can be."

"Whatever you say," Mulder muttered, rubbing his eyes again. "I take it
*you* managed to beat this 'memory wipe,'"

"Of course," the older man said, "I'm a survivor."

"Well Mr. Survivor, do you have a name?"

"I have many names. But you can call me. Invictus." He grinned up at
Mulder. "Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"

"Spellbinding," Mulder droned in his best sarcastic monotoned cadence. He
leaned back, glowering at his roommate.

"So, Invictus," he said, putting a nice austere edge on the name, "since
you managed to beat this whole memory-wipe thing, and since you so obviously
have an astounding grasp on my current situation, would you mind filling me
in? Because as you have so astutely pointed out, I'm having a hard time doing
it myself."

"Easy, Mulder," Invictus said in a hurried whisper. "If you get worked up,
they're going to hear you. As it is, they don't know the wipe didn't work on
me. As far as they're concerned, we're no longer two men who know far too much
about their plans. Plans that are far more sinister and deadly than I think
even *you* had ever imagined. We're a couple of drones that they've disappeared
and, are as we speak, probably debating on whether or not to kill us. I'll
tell you everything I know. I'll do my best to help you regain your memory,
but you need to realize that unless you act as confused and ignorant as you are
right now, we stand to lose any and all hope of ever getting out of here. And to
tell you the truth, I think that there is more hinging on our escape than anything
you could possibly *hope* to fathom."

He leaned back, surprising his roommate with his sudden concurrence. He
shrugged at the man's sudden look of surprise. "Do tell."

XxXxXxXxXxX

It will end where it all began. In a kaleidoscope of perfect moments.
Perfect love, perfect hate, in perfect destruction, and perfect creation.
And you will die as you have lived.

Memory would remain. For you could kill a body but never its soul, and
what is a soul if not a memory. There was hope, but little, in the older man's
words, his narrative leaving space for conjecture, but precious little for a
soul to find its mate. And in his tale, the only hope for salvation was in the
mating of two souls that had been separated time and time again.

During his serene introspection, Fox Mulder could not as yet remember. But
for some reason, the unlikely, bizarre tale Invictus weaved before him made
an odd kind of sense. He believed him, though he had no justification as to
the honesty of the man's story. For all he knew, he could be in an insane
asylum, his roommate a man living in a world he himself had created.

And while the story held the promise of the most caliginous of dark times
ahead, it also held hope. Hope for the future, and most importantly, hope
for himself. And hope was the only thing Mulder had to hold on to.

So Fox Mulder believed.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Mulder sat on his bed, staring at the ground before him, digesting the
man's story piece by piece. And then he snorted. The snort turned into a
chuckle, and the chuckle turned into a full blown laugh.

"You know," Mulder murmured between chuckles, "you're one crazy son of a
bitch, you know that? But for some reason, I believe you." He looked the
other man in the eye, "God help me, I believe you."

"Credero quod consolarit," the older man muttered.

Mulder took a deep, calming breath and narrowed his eyes, looking at
Invictus questioningly.

"Credero quod consolarit, Mr. Mulder. 'I believe because it comforts.'"

"Touché," Mulder said, nodding as he sat back down.

"So what do we do?" He leaned forward again and began speaking again in a
hushed tone. "If what you say is true, what do we do next? How wide spread
is this colonization? And what can I, *me* of all people, do about it?"

"Listen Mulder," Invictus chuckled at his new friend's reaction, as though
hearing his name for the first time, "the first thing we have to do is get
out of here."

Mulder interrupted before he could get another sentence out. "Where is here
again? I was a little caught up on the 'alien invasion' part of your story
when you got to the part about where we were being held."

"Michigan." Invictus answered, chewing on the inside of his lip and looking
fleetingly about the room. "Sort of."

"Sort of?" Mulder stated, looking at Invictus oddly. "How are we 'sort of'
in Michigan?"

"Well, we're technically well within the borders of the state. Only.."

"Only?"

"Only we're 300 feet below the surface of Lake Michigan." He looked to
Mulder, trying his best to ease into the severity of their situation. "In
the Straits of Mackinac to be precise."

"Oh!" Mulder said suddenly, as if he'd had an earth-shattering epiphany.
"So we just hop into the old Bubble Mobile and have Dr. Crenshaw speed us
on up to the surface, then."

"Of course. Only we'll have to get Melvin, the freshwater wonder dolphin
to take him a message, because yesterday, while I was running a scan on
the supercomputer, my transmitter broke." Invictus looked at him
with disdain. "Look Mulder, I know all of this is a lot to swallow, but
could you just *try* to work with me here? Please?"

Mulder sighed and reluctantly nodded.

"Now, I have a plan for getting out of here, but we'll get to that later.
To answer your other questions, the colonization *is* widespread, but it's
most condensed on the east coast. The further west you move, the less control
"They" have. Their grip is tightening here in the Midwest, starting with the larger
cities, as far north as we are, in this relatively rural country, we should be
okay. But we *do* have to be careful."

"Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase 'go west, young man,'" Mulder said
quietly.

"Indeed," Invictus agreed. "Look Mulder, we have to make our move soon.
Once we're out, we have to head south, down to Lansing. I have it on faith that the
government is secretly working on a vaccine that can stop the colonization dead cold.
*We* have to get it."

"I don't follow," Mulder said. "Why do *we* have to get it? I mean, how
can we stop this? If our government has a. a vaccine? To stop colonization, why
would we have to do anything? The government will use it to take out the aliens,
or whatever this vaccine does."

"The vaccine actually makes humans immune to effects of a
certain..."weapon". that the aliens are using to make the population of Earth a slave
race. But Mr. Mulder, our government can no longer help. While they've developed and
continue to develop this vaccine, they've been working with the aliens for well over
fifty years. And now that the aliens have come, our government is useless to stop them.
They're trying to buy some time by working in cahoots with the aliens, but the aliens are
too powerful. They have too much control. We're the only ones who can stop this now,
Mulder. We're the only ones that can do anything. But we need all of the help we can
get.." He paused. "We need your partner."

Mulder was about to question Invictus once more, when the sound of the lock
sliding back on the door silenced them both. As the handle was turning, Invictus
harshly whispered, "Remember Mulder, total ignorance! You don't know what's going on!"

The door opened, admitting two armed men in military fatigues. They
brusquely walked in, grabbed Mulder by the arms and ushered him quickly
into the hallway. Mulder shot Invictus a worried glance as the door shut
swiftly behind him and locked with resounding metallic clank.

XxXxXxXxXxX

"Richter began pacing around the corridor, his face
spitting mad. "As though we didn't have enough people here. We don't
even know who that woman is!"

"Will you calm down for once?" Cynthia snarled.

"Will you shut up for once?" he snarled right back, walking straight up to
her face, close enough to step on her toes.

Margaret then stepped in between them and tried to break up their
impending fight. Scully, though, was distracted. As the shouts and
angry curses faded into the background, she found herself following
the woman into the kitchen. Blue ocean light filtered in through the
large window by the sink, only broken up by the shape of the woman
leaning over the sink drinking water out of her cupped hands.

"I'm sorry about this," she began just as Scully had opened her mouth to
speak. "I don't want to intrude, but I can't help it. They," she said
this word with such venom and hatred, Scully could almost feel it
vibrate into her bones, "they are watching me. Us."

"It's not your fault," Scully replied. She moved closer until she was
leaning next to the dark-haired woman on the counter. "Ignore Richter. He
can be a real high-strung ass, even when he doesn't apply himself."

She gave a small smile. Scully smiled back. "I'm Scu. . . Dana. Dana
Scully"

"Scully?"

She smiled softly to herself, as though she were tasting a memory.
"My . . . friend use to call me that, but he's not around anymore." She
licked her lips. "Just call me Dana."

"The name sounded familiar." She shifted her feet and turned so she would
face Scully straight on. "I'm sorry about your friend." There was a slight,
pregnant pause. "I'm Elspeth Parr." She reached out her hand, her long,
strong fingers grasping Scully's tiny one.

"Nice to meet you Elspeth, under the circumstances." Scully made a
gesture in the air with her hand. They both grew quiet, shifting
uncomfortably in the newness of their acquaintance. Suddenly, there was a
crash of feet running down the stairs and a loud, boisterous voice ringing
in through the hallway.

"The prodigal son has returned! Jodie!" There was a scoop in
the cadence of the voice.

Together, Scully and Elspeth migrated towards the front entrance. There
Jodie Adler stood, a brighter shade of girl, facing a lanky Asian man. His
face was comically alive, grinning like a man completely unaware of the
reality around him. There was something certainly enviable in that, Scully
thought as she moved in more to greet Nathaniel Liu, in all his jester-like fashion.

"Well hello, who do we have here?" Nathaniel's smile suddenly faded as his
eyes focused in on Elspeth. They flickered for a moment of
recognition, but he turned away somewhat confused and greeted the rest
of the household.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Six of them sat on the porch and watched with seeming apprehension the
setting of the sun. As its flaming orange dipped into the cool recess
of the blue and green horizon, there seemed to be a chill coming in from
the tide behind them, black and thin, sweeping through like a sonic boom.
Jodie sat perched on the railing that circled the house. Her hair was made up in

messy braids, and she was resting her head tiredly against a column. The
only movement she made was the occasional glance over at Nathaniel who was
busily engaged in conversation with Elspeth. Scully watched them all from her
seat on the front steps.

Across from her sat Richter sat in a wicker chair. He was leaning back,
but even then he looked agitated and aggressive. He looked like he could explode
any second now. Scully brushed away her hair with the palm of her hand and
took a moment to scrutinize him. She had to admit, he was handsome. There was
something dangerous--almost animalistic about him, and the magnetism rolled off of
him in waves. She could also see that beneath that angry veneer in
his ice blue eyes she was almost sure he was hiding something--pain, she
guessed. They call carried scars miles deep these days, she thought
soberly. Some, though, wore theirs like a badge; a right to be angry,
while some carried their wounds around as ghosts and shadows infused in and out
through every cell living and dead in their bodies.

Ghosts, Scully thought sadly. I have too many ghosts and too little of
life around me.

Margaret Scully came by her daughter then, touching Scully's shoulder
reassuringly. She gazed up at her mother and reached out for her
hand. She squeezed it, finding comfort in the pressure. Seeing her
daughter okay, Margaret excused herself and re-entered the house.

" Fate!" Nathaniel trailed off as Scully picked up the tail end of
their conversation. His hands flew in a nervous flourish.

Elspeth took a long sip of water and smiled with only the corners of her
lips turning up. "You are so full of shit, Nat!" Elspeth had seemed to
mellow in the short time she had been with them. " You tell me that
you believe in fate, but then you also go on about some resistance and how
we have to fight. If it's all premeditated by fate, then what is the
point?"

"You don't believe in fate?" Richter barked, surprised, his eyes burning
into Elspeth the whole time. He had been watching her throughout the entire
conversation, but what ever his thoughts were, they were a mystery to all
but himself.

Elspeth turned her dark eyes toward him and leveled him with her stare. "I
believe in free will, yes," she said slowly, and her voice seemed to
grow deeper and stronger. There was a gleam in her eye. "I think we
all manifest our own destinies, even if the universe is full of chaos. Our
choices are the things that brings a little order to it. "

"But our choices are made to simply carry us along the path that fate
has already set down, Elspeth!" Nathaniel said emphatically. He slammed a
fist into the palm of his other hand. "It's fated that the colonists would
come. It was fated that *you* showed up today at this house and not
another one. It is fated that there is a resistance and that it will fight
for its freedom."

"Sounds like you're just trying to find a loophole to get yourself out
of having responsibility for your own actions, Nat," Richter said.

"Exactly," Elspeth agreed, a strange look crossing her face as she
raised an eyebrow at Richter. Turning back to Nathaniel, Elspeth
continued. "But now tell me more of your branch of the resistance."

"There's a meeting tonight." His voice fell to a hush. "Very covert
and secretive. Hush, hush, wink, wink, you know." He winked at Jodie.
He reclined in his seat and asked off-handedly. "Are you all interested in
coming?"

Elspeth nodded faintly, as did Richter, albeit reluctantly. Jodie was
all excitement.

Nathaniel turned his attention now to Scully. "Dana? Are you in?"

Scully turned her head up. She paused a moment, almost for the dramatic
effect, considering the offer. She pursed her lips together and responded
definitively with the strong voice she had been missing for the last few
months.

"Yes. Definitely."

XxXxXxXxXxX

The contrast between the cool night and the throbbing heat of the hidden
warehouse room was almost enough to knock Scully off her feet, but she
liked the feeling of a hundred different scenes being attacked all at once.
She was sandwiched between Elspeth and Richter, with Jodie trailing behind. Bodies
hit bodies, and they pushed their way until they found the stage where Nat
was setting up for his speech.

There were more people packed into that small room than Scully had seen in
ages. They were a cornucopia of races, genders, and from what she suspected,
there were not only humans, but also hybrids, much like Cassandra
Spender all those years ago. She had to keep this to herself, however.
From what she knew of Richter from their brief acquaintance, it was obvious that
he had a long-standing problem with everything and anything not human. She wasn't
ready to antagonize him or have him go berserk during the meeting.

Nathaniel waved to them from the stage, his arms busy with some wires.
Scully leaned forward, resting her torso against the stage. Her cheeks
were flushed, but her hands were cold. She pressed one palm to her face and
circled around to survey the surroundings. It was dark and wild inside. There were
people dressed in rags and those dressed in suits. The excited murmur was
punctuated by enthusiastic yells and screams.

Nathaniel stood up and moved to the podium and called for silence. It took
him a while, but he kept a happy face on until the crowd finally settled itself
down.

He paced first, then stopped, a sly smile curving from his mouth.
"You are all here because you believe in the same cause. You believe in
preservation, in life. You believe in the human race!

"We can be all talk, though, but what we need is action if we want to save
ourselves from this cruel fate we have been dealt!" No one else noticed, but Scully
saw Nat's eyes flicker to Elspeth. He then cleared his throat and shouted,
"Resist their slavery, their death. Together, we have the genius of a crowd, the
strength and combined forces to win this battle!"

"Am I supposed to be excited or something?" someone heckled from the crowd.
Laughter erupted and Nat was visibly discomposed. He shifted his feet and
a red blush spread to the tips of his ears. The blush soon turned into the red
of indignation, and his temper flared out as he glowered back at his audience, shouting
obscenities and for them to quiet down so he could finish.

"Hybrid?"

Scully spun around to see Richter, his jaw set in controlled anger. Elspeth
turned and stared at him. When he turned his gaze on her, she didn't turn away.
Instead, she trained her stare even harder until he looked away.

"Don't let your hate overwhelm you, Richter," she said calmly. "There's a
good man in there somewhere. Let him out." He did not look back.

"Your attention, please!" Nathaniel shouted from the above the roar of
the crowd. "Come on!"

Elspeth stared up. "What are you doing, Nat?" she asked calmly. He
reached down and grabbed her hand. "We need you, Elspeth. You. Speech.
Now."

Nathaniel dragged her up, and she resisted very little. He nudged her
gently towards the podium and took a step back, relieved to escape the spotlight for now
at least.

Elspeth blinked out at the audience before her. They were quiet now and
had all their attention directed trained on the woman on stage. She threw a look back at
Nat, but he shrugged. It only took a moment though for Elspeth to sink into comfort.
She suddenly seemed very much in her element.

"Some would say," she began slowly, her eyes downcast, thoughtful, " that
this is a time for heroes to be made. But who are our heroes? Where have they all
gone? Have they died? Have they left us? Run away? Who are we to turn to now?" She
lifted her head and stared out, her jaw set determinedly. "But maybe we are
asking the wrong question and looking at all the wrong places to be saved." Scully
saw Elspeth's eyes twinkle. "We can be passive and wait, and hope that our knight in
shining armor will come galloping by, but is he really going to come? If we keep on
waiting all we're doing is wasting, and time isn't something we have much of. We
need to become our own heroes. Nothing's too big, nothing's too small, but we
cannot sit around and wait." She spread her arms out wide. "Look at what waiting
and inaction has done to us," she pleaded, "and consider your options. It's
do or die, and I believe every one of you can grasp the enormity of it."

The enraptured silence continued, and Elspeth continued, her blue shirt
glowing in the dimness of the room.

"I was brought here a few days ago from a compound in Michigan. And let me
tell you, it's not just us. Everyone, everywhere is just as bent if not
broken. I've seen men and women there who were once leaders, but what they've done to
them . . . they're not the same anymore. They've become shells of their former
selves. Whimpering babies crying for their mothers. We cannot wait for them
anymore because even if we did, what could they do?

"This is not to say that this is the situation for everyone, though. There
was a man I saw there-I think some of you would recognize his name, a Fox Mulder,
who though tortured was still himself in many ways." Scully gaped, her
mouth opening and closing like a goldfish out of water. "He lasted because he
still had his strength of conviction that we could defeat the colonists, and he
is still out there fighting for us because he still thinks it's a cause worth
fighting for. However the question now is, will you fight as he fought? Will you risk
everything to have your world-your lives-back? Or is this the world you want you and
your children to live and die in?"

The world suddenly heaved and Scully felt herself jerking as though she
were caught in a storm. Chills coursed through her body and she felt too much
blood rushing to her head all at once. She barely noticed Elspeth descending
from the stage among the growing hum of people around her. Their voices were
getting louder and stronger and filled with what could only be conviction of their
own abilities to do good.

Elspeth sidled towards them, her face sweaty but calm with a look of
immense relief. "That seemed to help," she said thoughtfully, and then looked at
Scully whose face was white and stricken.

Suddenly she mouthed, "Scully? You? Mulder? You and him?"

"He's alive?" Scully finally managed to croak out. "You know where he is?"

"Well I'll be damned," Elspeth said biting her thumb, an amused smile
playing on her face. "Damn," she laughed again.

Scully was still paralyzed with the shock when she felt Elspeth grab her
around the arms in a tight hug leaning in and whispered in her ear, "Apparently we
have a lot to talk about."

Elspeth released her and turned to Richter with a bemused
expression on her face. She reached out her hand and tentatively, he took
itnot so reluctantly.

"Time to go," Nat called, his smile warm and broad, and they left, new men
and women suddenly transformed by the re-emergence of the human spirit, because
despite everything. Despite the past. Despite the future. Despite herself, Dana
Scully was feeling again the glow of caring, the slow rumble in her stomach and shine
returning to her eyes.

They walked through the beautiful Rhode Island night like worshippers
returning from a holy crusade. Scully was alive.

If Mulder could rise from the ashes, so could she.

Chapter Three