Mulder was led into a navy blue hallway that curved both to his left and
right. The only illumination in the dark corridor was provided by small
yellow lights that peppered the rounded walls like sconces in a castle.
"This way," muttered one of the guards tersely. They kept a firm hold on
his shoulders and led him to the left.
The hallway kept curving in to the left, leaving Mulder to deduce that the
building he was being kept in was a circular one.
They came to a tunnel-like hallway that branched off from the annular
complex, and ended in an exact duplicate. Turning quickly down yet another
rounded hallway, the guards paused in front of a metallic door that
resembled an industrial refrigerator. They opened the door, pushed Mulder
"Sit down," the guard said, indicating a chair at the end of a long table.
"You won't be joining me?" Mulder pushed out quickly before the door
quickly slammed shut. "Pity," he muttered to the empty room.
He sat down in the chair and looked about the plain room in mild
It was the same shade of midnight blue as the hallways, though the lighting
in this room was a little more bright and cheerful. He was seated in the
lone chair of the room, which was firmly bolted into the floor at the head
of a long, white table facing the door. Mulder glanced at his opaque,
grainy reflection in the metal and drummed his fingers on the table,
wondering what would happen next.
His silent musings were interrupted then by the door opening. Three men
entered, one in higher-ranking military dress, the other two in suits, one
of them sans jacket.
The one in military dress, Army by the looks of it, perched himself to
Mulder's left, on the other end of the table. The man without the jacket
leaned back against the door, crossing his arms in front of his chest, and
then glared at Mulder. The other man, the one with the coat, crossed the
room to Mulder with a pleasant smile on his face and extended to him his
Mulder reached out tentatively and took it as the man began speaking.
"Mr. Mulder, my name is Dr. Joel, this is Mr. Fandango," he motioned to the
man leaning against the door, who merely blinked at him, "and this is
Darwin, the man in the uniform, a young man, particularly for a General,
with close cropped black hair, a strong jaw and a pleasant face, nodded at
Mulder and offered a courteous "Sir."
Dr. Joel continued.
"Mr. Mulder, I'm not going to beat around the bush, here. I have some
questions for you. Some very serious questions, and I need very truthful
answers." He looked to General Darwin and then back at Mulder. "I will not
Mulder swallowed hard, examined his fingernails closely, and wondered just
what the hell was going on.
"I still don't see why we're keeping them alive," Fandango started after
Mulder had been led from the room. "All of these people. Why we spend
time, money and resources to wipe their memory and then keep them down here
in the depths of nowhere." He noticed Joel about to interrupt, so he
hastily continued. "Wait Jerry, let me finish. I understand who these
people are. I know they were clued in on what would happen with the
colonization before even *we* were, and that we stole them away and wiped
their memories so they couldn't stop it. What I don't see is why we have
them down *here*. Hidden away from everything, even our own people and the
colonists. If they were such a threat, why not eliminate them?"
"Jesus, David," Dr. Joel said, looking at Fandango in contempt, "have you
*been* to the surface lately? Have you *seen* what's going on up there?
There's been too much death already." He shook his head sadly, and lowered
his voiced on a sigh. "I can't even believe you'd bring it up."
"And besides," said General Darwin, shoving himself up and off the table
top, "if everything goes as planned, we'll need them-- All of these
people." He paused and grinned at Fandango's confused expression. "Haven't
you been informed, David? These people are essential. And with the right
stimulation, an absent memory is easily rediscovered."
At Fandango's look of dismay, Darwin elaborated. "He knows things we
don't, David. He's got the answers to a lot of questions we don't even know
we should be asking. And we're going to *need* those answers. But we don't
want him, or any of the others to know the power they have, and we need
them to be completely accessible when the time *does* come. Contrary to
popular belief, the shit has NOT hit the fan. It's not even in the same zip
Mulder was shoved into his cell with more force than necessary. When he
finally regained his balance, the door had been sealed and locked.
"They work with such finesse."
Mulder looked over at Invictus' bunk, where the voice had come from. The
older man stood up and faced Mulder, standing akimbo.
"To tell you the truth," Mulder began, "I'm not so sure. They asked me a
bunch of questions, most of which having to do with whether or not the
content of the question had any significance to me, and then they showed me
a few pictures, were apparently content with my reactions and answers, and
brought me back." Mulder looked Invictus in the eye. "It was all very
confusing. And considering my current state of mind, I didn't think that
Mulder sighed and flopped down on his bed.
"So what kind of things did they ask you? Can you remember anything
"Not really, they started off asking me if I remember who I am, if I know
where I am, things like that. They mentioned a few names and dates and
asked me if they held any significance, seemed satisfied with my answers
and proceeded to show me a few pictures." He paused, thinking. "I can seem
to remember general stuff, movies, music, the Presidents-just nothing
"Do you remember any of the names they asked? Dates?"
Mulder thought hard. The questions they asked him were asked in rapid
succession, a new one being fired off as soon as he finished answering. It
must have been to throw him off, but considering he answered every question
they asked negatively, there wasn't a lot to throw.
"Names. names. nope, none that I can recall off the top of my head." He
paused, thinking hard. "They did ask if the date August 8th held any
significance for me though."
At Invictus' sharp exhalation of breath, Mulder sat up in the bed and
narrowed his eyes at him. "What? What happened on August 8th?"
Invictus snorted in disdain. "What happened? He wants to know what
happened." He looked Mulder square in the eye and answered him. "On August
8th, Mr. Mulder, Colonization happened." He sat back down on his own bunk
and leaned back to stare at the ceiling. "And you and I are two of the few
people that knew ahead of time and actually had the power to stop it."
Mulder sat for a moment in silence and then looked up to Invictus. "So why
didn't we stop it? What happened?"
Invictus shook his head. "This happened," he gestured around their cell,
"this *place* happened. It's all gone to bloody hell." He paused a moment
before sitting up and lowered his voice, bringing Mulder in close to hear
him. "And while it's too late to stop what already happened, we can still
Mulder's tone matched his own. "What can we do?"
Invictus suddenly appeared to lose interest, and rolled over in his bunk,
turning his back to Mulder. "It's a long story, Mulder. I'll explain on
the way out."
Mulder was confused. "On the way out *where*?"
Invictus yawned and pulled his sheet up around his body, ignoring Mulder's
question. "Get some sleep Mulder, I assure you, you're going to need it."
Scully fanned her face with a tattered sheet of paper she had been
scribbling on for the past three hours. Her eyes were sore; her skin
dry like sandpaper. She rubbed her throbbing temples with her thumb
and forefinger, then dropped her arms to the side of the chair and
stared across the room at Richter who sat hunched over his own work.
Since Nathaniel had brought them full-circle into the resistance,
Scully had found herself busy again with what she had been good at
investigating. This time, though, her X-File consisted of a missing
person's case. Mulder.
She sighed once more, shifting in the wooded chair. Today she had
interviewed three different people who had claimed to have seen
Mulder since he had disappeared, but none of the stories had matched
up with one another.
Elspeth then walked into the room, her hips swaying as though she were
without care in the world. She approached Richter behind and suddenly caught him
in her smile. Scully leaned back in her chair and thought, they have no idea what
they're in for.
She closed her eyes momentarily and found that she
could only see blue. Like the sky. Like the ocean. Like sadness.
She briefly opened her eyes; closed them once more. No, not sadness,
she thought. It was worse than simple sadness. It felt tired. Then
it came to her in a whisper like the wind. Regret. She licked her
dry lips with a flick of her tongue. It tasted like sin.
The last time he had spoken to her.
"I think . . . I . . . this is it."
Winsome, like dipping your toes in a pond under Jupiter's gaze. He
had looked tired. As tired as she felt now, reliving the memory.
The sunlight hit her face at an angle, and Scully felt herself
slipping back in time to the day before Mulder had disappeared. The
day before they had come. Before colonization.
She had walked into the office to see him hunched over his desk
wearing his leather jacket, a backpack laying on top of papers. He
had lifted his head as soon as she had entered, though, the five
o'clock shadow hanging warily on his face. She had stopped at the
door and they had stared each other down for what seemed like an
eternity. Something then had passed between them, something
intangible but very real. She had remembered something catching in
her throat, and she had lifted her hand to the base of her neck,
lifting nervously her gold cross that had been lying lazily in the
hollow of her throat.
"What's wrong," she had asked, drifting closer to him, caught in his
Oh how she wanted to drown in the memory now.
He had attempted a smile; lifted his hands up like Christ in the
crucifixion. As he lowered them, they cascaded onto her hands, warm
against the contrast of the cool grain of the desk. A thumb on her
skin. A gentle, stroking motion back and forth like cool water.
"Nothing yet," he had said, his eyes averted then back, focused in on
her face, "but maybe soon. I came across this yesterday." He had
gotten up then, his hands occupied elsewhere. She missed his touch
as soon as it was gone. "Rumors have been going around that the Date
is near, but I never realized how soon it really was until I got
Mulder lifted a vial out of a box. Within the vial was another broken
glass tube filled with a dark purple fluid. "The vaccine," he had said,
his eyes alight in wonderment.
"I don't understand," she had told him, "I thought . . ."
"The one that was administered to you--that was mostly theoretical.
It worked, thank God, but this, this," he blustered, eyes bright, "is
the real deal. Created by scientists working in a resistance group."
"Resistance to what?"
"Colonization. The destruction of everything we know and love."
"Of the truth," she had said flatly, almost angry. Why . . .
The gaze he had given her then was still vivid in her mind. She had
been branded by his eyes. He had almost slunk forward, a slight sway
giving away intentions that he had eventually suppressed, but his
eyes, they were like Nero sitting mad with his violin as he watched Rome
burn like an inferno.
"Of everything, Scully." A dip in his voice, like a scoop of vanilla
moon dropped in chocolate. It made her back off; made her think
twice before speaking.
"I have to go and follow this up."
He had hesitated.
"Are *you* leaving now?" she had remarked coldly.
He had lied to her. Maybe to be selfish, maybe to be protective.
Perhaps both, but he had lied to her, his body painted like a martyr.
She wanted him back now, with or without that lie that lay like a
gulf between them. She sighed, a forlorn wind on her lips.
Mulder . . . .
"I'll be back."
She had not stopped him, even though she knew in her gut he was going
without her. She wondered about it still. Why had she let him walk
away? Why had she traveled so far with him only to watch him as he
crossed another river, turning her back to him as he left without her
this one last time?
"Time to go."
Scully jumped in her chair as Richter leaned over and tapped her
gently on the shoulder. She wiped the drowsiness from her eyes and
mumbled to acknowledge him.
"Sorry, I was just remembering."
"Yeah." Richter let his tone drop off like the conversation.
"Where's . . ."
"Elspeth left quite a while ago, Dana. What were you thinking about?"
"Um, just some of the interviews I went over today," she partially
lied. "I found a few things out, but it was mostly ranting and
raving. This whole thing," she waved with her hand, "God, Richter,
how did this happen?"
He shook his head, "I don't know. Apathy? Ignorance? Hopelessness?"
She suddenly grasped his arm. "Don't say that. Please." Scully
loosened her grip. "Sorry," she apologized lamely, recomposing
herself. "It's just, well, lately, it seems hope is all we have
anymore. Don't say, don't even think that hope is dying."
"You really miss him, don't you?" Scully ignored the comment and
continued gathering up her things.
Richter laughed a soft, deep sort of laugh. "Come on, let's get home
before it gets too dark."
October in the woods, trekking home to a house on the seashore. It
should have been something dreamy and romantic about it. A honeymoon
between two lovers so invested in each other that the tranquility of
the scene could not compare, yet it was not, and rightfully so,
because this was no travel catalogue. This was Colonization.
Richter was walking slightly ahead, a flashlight dangling on his
wrist. It was just starting to get dark. Scully observed him as he
walked. She smiled to herself as a thought popped into her mind. He
even walked differently now, and she knew why. She wondered if she
had changed when . . . a blush instantly rose in her cheeks. What
had she been thinking? She tried to pass it off as her body's
reaction to the cold weather, but she had some time trying to
convince herself. She hugged her jacket tighter around her small
frame and continued walking, trying to distract herself.
Suddenly, Scully froze in her tracks. Something--someone, was with
"Richter!" she hissed. Ahead of her, he froze, head cocking from
side to side. Slowly he reached into his coat for a dagger he kept
for protection. Scully rotated in her spot, looking up and down for
the source of the noise.
Then out of a dark patch of brush there came a charging figure,
menacing in the shadows. Richter raised his dagger, poised for
Then like a phantom, Elspeth flew into the light, and realizing that
Richter was ready to strike, she moved her lithe body quick and
intense, and disarmed him as easily as one would a child.
"No time for that," she related to them between pants.
From the ground, Richter stared up, all astonishment. Elspeth leaned down
and helped a dumbfounded Richter up. She grasped him atop one shoulder
and on the arm, making eye contact with Scully over his shoulder.
"They came to the house tonight," Elspeth hissed.
"What?" both Scully and Richter cried out at once.
"They took Cynthia. I heard some noise downstairs. The guard came
tonight and dragged her away. I," she paused, eyes trained on
Richter's face, "I ran." Elspeth's face drained and turned pale with
"The others . . . ." Scully left the question hanging in the air.
"They got away. Nat took Jodie and your mother with him. They
should be okay. Nat is good, really good. He has connections deeper
and more tangled than cyberspace. We shouldn't be too worried."
Elspeth let go of Richter. "I don't think this was random. I
haven't heard about them just grabbing people randomly and doing . .
.. whatever, with them. I think they've been watching us, and this
is a threat."
"But how?" Richter asked adamantly.
"Why didn't they take us?" Scully said, reeling in the shock.
"I don't think they knew that we were going to be gone from the
house. I don't think they know where we've been operating from, but
it's possible that someone we've spoken to might have been reached
and revealed us. Exactly what did you find out about Mulder today,
Scully was numb. "They last saw him in Michigan, like you said
before, and one man rambled on about a vaccine, but we knew they had
one. I was . . ."
"Vaccine?" Elspeth's breath froze in the air. "So you've heard
"What is so exciting about this?"
"I've heard rumors about a new strain. That's what Mulder was
looking for when he disappeared!"
"I didn't know that," Scully said dully.
"I . . ." Elspeth paused again. "I'm going after Mulder and the
"This is too important. This might be the key to saving us from
annihilation. Are you two with me?"
"Who do you think you are?" Scully cried out suddenly, her control
lost. Missy was dead. Charlie was dead. Bill was as good as dead.
Mulder gone, and now her mother. "Where do you get off just running
off and chasing these things? What about Jodie and Nat--my mother?
Don't you care?"
"Who do I . . . Is this not what Mulder would do? Take a chance for
the greater good? Is this why he left without you? Won't you take a
chance? Are you so scared, Dana? Do you like being weak, because
you have to realize that we have no options!"
Scully felt the blood drain from her face. She felt as though she
had just been slapped. She was appalled, speechless--she was ashamed.
Elspeth sighed, her eyes apologetic. "Dana, I . . . that was uncalled for.
Scully made no response.
Elspeth turned desperately to Richter. "Are you with me? I can't do
this alone . . ."
Richter threw a glance over his shoulder at Scully, but he was
caught. "I'll come with you, Elspeth."
"Dana, I'm . . ."
"No. You're . . . right, Elspeth." Scully shook her head. "My
mother, she, you think she'll be okay?"
"Yes," Elspeth intoned quietly.
"Right then. I'll come with you to end this. To find the vaccine." She
ran a hand through her hair. "And to find Mulder."
END CHAPTERChapter Four