"Mulder? Mulder!" Invictus' intense whisper cut through the haze of
Mulder's deep sleep.
"What?" Mulder replied in a voice that almost echoed in the walls of the
"Shhh! Be quiet!" Invictus said, close to his ear, "put these on. And
He shoved a bundle of clothing in Mulder's lap and sat down on his bunk to
quickly lace up a pair of high-ankle leather hiking boots.
Mulder wiped the sleep out of his eyes and unwrapped his bundle, spreading
the contents out over his bed.
A pair of boots identical to Invictus', a pair of long johns, a pair of
blue jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a milk chocolate brown, wool sweater, a
brown leather belt, a pair of boxer shorts with red stars on them, and a
black, down vest. He gave the clothes the once-over and glanced at
"Friend that works at the Gap?" Mulder asked, in a hushed voice.
Invictus smiled, glancing up at Mulder from the backpack he was rummaging
around in. "Close friend who *looted* the Gap. Now. Get. Dressed."
Mulder proceeded to take off his scrubs and put on what Invictus had given
him. He was surprised to find how well everything fit him. He finished
dressing and proceeded to lace up his boots, throwing a glance up at
"So, do you have a plan? And if so, are you going to tell me what it is?"
"Yeah," said Invictus, his attention still focused on the items in the
pack, "I'll brief you in a minute. Ah!" he said, pulling out a smaller
pouch, "here we go!"
Mulder watched as the older man unwrapped the leather surrounding the items
inside. Mulder's eyes widened when he saw what was within.
"Here," Invictus threw him a large handgun in a shoulder harness, a clip of
ammunition, a long, sheathed hunting knife, an expensive looking black
Casio G-Shock watch, and a small, compact compass.
Mulder picked up the gun out of its holster and weighed it in his hand. It
held a vague familiarity, almost a sense of de ja vu. It felt customary,
somehow, to hold a gun. He processed this thought for a moment, and put the
gun back in its holster, attaching the harness to his back.
"Am I supposed to know how to use this thing?" he asked.
Invictus pushed a clip of ammo into his own gun, looking Mulder in the eye,
the whole time. "It's like a cheap camera, Mulder," he said, pointing the
gun to the floor and squinting one eye to look down the sight. "Point," he
then cocked the gun, and shoved it into his own holster, "and click."
Mulder snorted quietly, as he attached the knife to his belt and the watch
to his wrist.
"You sound like a bad action movie."
Invictus snorted back.
"This whole scenario is like a bad action movie." He strapped the pack
snuggly to his back and checked his own watch, "now, lets get to it, and
hope we fare as well as most action heroes. Though I could do without the
seemingly uninhibiting gunshot wounds."
Mulder nodded and moved over to sit next to Invictus on his bunk.
"In exactly five minutes, at 5:37AM, a guard is going to come to our door.
He's a good guy. His name is Dice Powers, and he's the son of a close
friend of mine. If all goes well, he's going to take us to the sub-pod that
will take us to the surface, come back here, 'find' that we've disappeared,
and sound off the alarm. We've got a 35 minute window to get that sub-pod
to the surface, where there should be a boat waiting for us.
"The way the pods work is that, when one goes up, another goes down.
They're looped. When we get to the surface, we have to haul ass, because I
guarantee you that they'll be on the pod at the bottom, hot on our tails.
Dice assured me that he's got the system worked so that they can't call the
pod back, or stop it, but they're sure as hell going to follow.
"When we get to the surface, we'll either head to Mackinaw City, or St.
Ignace, whichever looks more promising, and get our asses to Lansing as
fast as possible."
"What's in Lansing?" Mulder interjected.
"The vaccine is," Invictus continued. "The government had an elaborate set
up at Michigan State University. The University has acres of land right on
campus that were being used for agricultural research. Considering the
school's reputation, no one questioned their presence. They've been right
there for years, purifying and working on the vaccine until they got it
right, and no one was any the wiser. They even tested it on some of the
animals down there. The veterinary school was the perfect set-up. We've got
to get down there and find the finished product. From there, we've got to
get it to people that can and *will* reproduce it and spread it out to the
masses. So I hope you're prepared for some action, Mulder, because this
isn't going to be easy."
Mulder blew out a long breath and gathered himself. "I guess I don't have
much of a choice."
Invictus winked at him. "That's the spirit!"
He then grabbed Mulder's left arm and held it next to his own. "Let's
synchronize our Swatches."
"Casios," Mulder corrected him.
"Details," said the man, dismissing his comment with a flick of his hand.
That done, Invictus looked at his watch, bending it down to catch the
half-light the room was illuminated with at nighttime.
He took a deep breath and threw his head to his left and right, cracking
his neck. "Show time."
Just as the words were out of his mouth, the door latch pulled back, and a
large, young black man in military fatigues stepped into the room.
"McCloud," the man said. "If you're really going to do this, we've got 25
minutes. Let's go."
Invictus got up off of his bunk and walked quickly to the door, giving the
man a brief hug. Mulder followed suit, sans hug, and they headed out of the
cell, Dice taking the lead, Mulder in the middle and Invictus taking up the
"What ever happened to 35 minutes, Dice?" Invictus asked so quietly, Mulder
worried the young man wouldn't hear him.
"Think of it this way," Dice said, putting his hand on Mulder's chest to
stop their movement, and glancing up to his left, and then to his watch,
"you had 35 minutes 10 minutes ago."
He then started up again, giving a quick tug on Mulder's vest to get him
He nodded his head up to the security camera, its operating light curiously
not on as they passed it.
"The best I could do was a 10 minute window."
They continued on that way, Dice stopping and pulling Mulder along every 20
or so feet until they reached the door to a large chamber.
Dice swiped a card threw the lock next to it, and led them quickly inside
to the pool where the sub-pod was waiting.
"You've got 25 minutes to get to the surface McCloud," Dice said, "and five
to get the pod en route, before I pull the alarm. Now go!"
Invictus gave a curt nod and walked up to the young man, taking him by the
"Thank you Dice. Thank you for everything."
Dice nodded and gave Mulder a sideways glance before looking back at
Invictus. "I believe in my father, and I believe in the cause. I did what
I had to do. Now cut it with the sentimental shit and GO!"
Invictus jumped down onto the top of the pod and cranked the hatch open. He
threw the pack down into the belly of the sub. "Come on Mulder, get in!"
Just as Mulder jumped down onto the top of the sub-pod, a loud siren began
to sound, and the red light above the entrance to the room began to flash.
"Shit!" Invictus shouted, "what the hell is that?"
"It's the alarm!" Dice shouted above the siren. "Someone must have found
the glitch in the surveillance systems! If they find me here with you gone,
they'll kill me!"
Invictus took in the panicked expression on the young man's face and then
reached out his hand to him.
"Then come with us!" He shouted.
"I can't!" The man shook his head. "I'm the only inside source left! You
*need* me here!" Dice bit his lip and drew his own weapon, pointing at
Mulder and Invictus. "Shoot me!"
Invictus, momentarily startled, realized what the man had in mind and shook
his head violently. "No! No way!"
"It's the only way! If they find me here shot with my gun drawn, then at
least I can say that I found you trying to escape and took the necessary
actions," Dice shouted. "Now do it! And hurry the fuck up about it! Just
don't hit anything important!"
Invictus grabbed Mulder by the arm and shoved his gun into his hand. "You
do it. There's no way I could do it in clear conscience."
Mulder opened his mouth to protest, but Invictus wouldn't let him.
"There's no time! Now DO IT!"
"Do it!" Dice shouted at him, reinforcing Invictus' instruction.
Mulder raised the gun, hesitated a little, hoping to God he really *did*
know how to fire a gun with some accuracy, clenched his teeth, and fired.
He saw the man slump to the floor with a fresh wound in his left shoulder.
Invictus shoved him toward the opening to the sub before he had a chance to
see if the man would be all right.
Walking in the dark, she wondered how fate had the ability to throw
together a group of strangers and force them into what would almost be called
Fate. The word tasted strange on her lips as she mouthed it. Nat and
Elspeth had spoken of fate once back before their sudden new twist of
situation. She could not decide whether or not she believed it in now, as
circumstances were so different from the way they had been before.
Scully swore to herself. Had she ever really believed in it? Had she ever
given herself the option of even considering something so
fantastical--something so . . . unscientific?
Suddenly she felt herself tumbling forward, her feet rolling on stones.
Elspeth came up behind her and helped her up. "We should all rest, it's
been a long day." There was a weariness in her dark brown eyes, a finger
tracing down the worry lines on her face.
Richter walked slowly toward a clearing, whistling them to come over
toward the sound. Guided by Elspeth, Scully walked out of the woods and found
herself letting out a small, although happy, gasp. Richter had found a
shelter. There was an overhanging carved out of stone and overhanging
vegetation where they settled themselves down. There was a nearby pond, thin and
"I would kill for a sleeping bag right about now," Richter grumbled as he
pried small stones out of the dirt to make himself a spot to sleep.
Involuntarily, Scully chuckled and thought instantly of Mulder.
"Good memory?" Elspeth eyed her, a smirk curling at the edges of her mouth.
"Very good," she laughed. "Although it could have been so much better if
only . . ." She stopped, blushing.
"I won't ask. But may you have sweet dreams about it, Dana."
They woke up not to the sound of birds calling in the early morning, but
rather to the biting of bugs taking their last fill of blood before death
"We're never going to make it to Michigan at this rate," Richter commented
as they washed off as much grime as possible in the pond. "We need to move faster."
"We'll steal a car then," Elspeth said matter-of-factly. She twisted the
remainder of the water out of her hair, her tresses clumping wetly on her
"Steal a car?" Richter shot back, questioningly.
"Since when are you up for obeying the rules, boy?" Elspeth snorted and
walked over to him, her hand curling on his arm like ivy. "It's not a big
deal. Who do you think is going to mind?" Her voiced dipped. "Who's
really left to care?"
"Well let's go," Scully said. "Mulder's not the type to just sit around
waiting for me."
"Right. He wouldn't wait for you." Surprised, she stared back at Elspeth
who spoke as though she had the wisdom of the world at her disposal. "He'd
head right back in this direction like a rage, looking for you until he
found you again."
Although she made no response, she turned and found herself smiling. Yes,
he would do something like that, she thought. Yes, he would.
"So," Richter said, his arms spread out like a gliding bird. "What's
The three of them stood in used car sales lot, a virtual cornucopia of
selection at their disposal. Always pragmatic, Scully asked, "Would
anyone happen to know where we can find some keys?"
"Don't worry about that. We can just hot-wire it or something."
"You're the regular criminal, aren't you Elspeth?" Scully smirked.
"Why yes I am!" she responded, sauntering off over to a newer looking
Saturn. "What do you think? Red? Too sporty, you think?"
Scully walked over to the passenger side. "Locked over here. Do you happen
to have a coat hanger handy?"
Then, like explosive surrounded sound, sirens began blasting from what
seemed like every direction.
"Where's Richter?" Elspeth shouted over to Scully, her eyes now large and
panicked. "Where the hell did he go? We have to get out of here. They
know we're here!"
"Who? Who knows that we're here, Elspeth?"
"Richter!" Spinning, Elspeth broke into a run, hands still slammed shut
around her ears. "Richter!" Then, like a ghost out of a corridor, Richter
flew in from behind Elspeth and grabbed her by the waist, his face pressing
against her neck. He whispered something to her and a slow smile spread on
her face. In his hands, Scully saw a pair of keys shining in the afternoon sun.
She saw Richter motioning for her to join them, and Scully ran over to
Richter and Elspeth. They flew over to the car, and taking the key, Richter jammed
it into a navy blue Honda Accord.
"We gotta go, now!" Elspeth yelled in a panic. "Now!"
Just as she was about the close the door, Scully saw a leather wallet on
the ground. She grabbed it out of habit and slammed the door shut as quickly
as possible, and just as Richter floored the car out of the lot.
"Find cover as soon as possible. They can't know where we're going. They
can't find us or we're dead!" Elspeth slumped into the backseat of the
"You dropped this, Richter," Scully said, a little abashed that she had
actually stopped to pick it up among the panic. She was about to close
the wallet when she noticed something odd on his license. "They would have
known who you were." She paused, her mouth agape. She shut it and her
lips formed a thin, angry line. She peered at it again, her eyebrows raised in
half-moon arcs over her inquisitive eyes. "They would have known that you had been
Richter turned and looked at her opened-mouthed, but he turned back and
drove on, the sirens still blasting away from behind them.
Mulder dove into the opening of the sub and was quickly followed by
Invictus who swung the hatch shut and latched it quickly. They shuffled to
the front of the small craft and took up the two seats behind the controls.
Invictus who sat on the left, gave the control panel a quick once-over, and
then looked over to Mulder.
"So," he said, a nervous smile on his face, "do you know how to drive one
of these things?"
"No," Mulder said, confused at first and then suddenly overly-anxious.
"You mean you don't?!"
"Well," said the older man, "we kind of skipped over that part."
"Oh, Jesus," Mulder groaned, throwing his head back against the seat rest.
"I don't *believe* this!"
"Hey Mulder," called Invictus from the other seat, his hand poised on one
of the switches. Mulder cracked open one eye and rolled his head to look in
Invictus' direction. "Only kidding!"
With that, he flicked the switch and the pod hummed to life.
Mulder looked around at all the blinking lights and strapped himself in.
"That," he said, grabbing onto the sides of his seat as the sub-pod lurched
down into the water a few feet, "was NOT funny."
Invictus just smiled and flipped on the exterior lights that highlighted
the cable the pod was attached to. He worked it up, going slower than
Mulder was comfortable with.
"McCloud, huh?" Mulder asked, throwing out a question to break the silence
that had enveloped the craft. "And all this time you were telling me your
name was Invictus."
"What," the older man said, shaking his mane of silver out of his face,
"you don't like the name Invictus McCloud? I think it's got a nice ring to it."
Invictus looked over to Mulder for confirmation, but Mulder just stared at him.
"Okay look, my real name is Curtis McCloud. But I *prefer* Invictus. Don't
you know what it means in Latin?"
Mulder shook his head.
"It means 'unconquered.' Do you know the poem?"
Without waiting for an answer, Invictus broke into poetic verse.
"Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeoning of chance,
My head is bloody but unbowed.
In this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,"
At that point, Mulder interrupted him and finished the rest of the poem.
"I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."
"Well," Invictus said, looking over at Mulder, impressed, "I guess you were
right. *Some* memory stayed intact."
Mulder pursed his lips and nodded, slightly troubled.
He didn't know how or where he'd read and remembered that poem, but it was
there somehow. Maybe his other memories, the ones that were completely
absent, would come about in much the same way. At least he *hoped* they would.
He rubbed his chin with left hand, feeling the long stubble and realizing
for the first time that he'd actually grown a beard. He scratched it with
both hands and looked through the small windshield of the pod at their slow
progress. The water was utterly black, he could barely make out the floor
of the lake in the weak light of the pod.
"Can't this thing go any faster," he asked with anxiously.
"No," Invictus replied. "We've got to let this thing pressurize, or it'll
be. oh, just a *little* uncomfortable. For now, let's not worry about how
fast we're going, let's just keep our fingers crossed that there won't be
anyone on the surface waiting for us. We'll have three minutes to get
everything in the boat that should be up there and off before this thing
goes back down. Why don't you go grab the pack and strap it on. We're
going to need to bust a move when we get to the surface."
Mulder unhooked himself and started to make his way into the back of the
pod when Invictus' voice caught his attention.
"Oh!" He called, "and look around and see if you can find anything handy
that we can take with us."
Mulder nodded and made his way around the small vessel opening some of the
smaller hatches and through the covered equipment that was stored in the
back. They must have just brought a shipment down to the station and not
unloaded it yet. He pried open one of the crates with a crowbar that was
hung loosely from the top of the shipment.
He went through the contents quickly, grabbing some food, water, a VHF, and
a small portable radio. He went through each of the crates in the same
fashion and also managed to find other small items that might be useful in
Then, down at the bottom of the last crate, he found a small package,
addressed to General Darwin. Ripping it open, he found a small, cylindrical
metal tool. He wasn't sure exactly what it was, but when he pushed the
button on the side, a long, needle-like protrusion shot up and nearly took
his eye out. He tucked it safely in the inside pocket on his vest, packed
up the other things in Invictus' backpack, strapped it on, and made his way
back up to the front to see how they were progressing.
"How close are we," he asked, sitting down precariously on the edge of the
seat, the backpack making it difficult to get comfortable.
"Close enough to the surface to start going up fast," replied Invictus,
punching a few buttons that caused the pod to lurch upward.
Less than two minutes later, they were at the surface. Mulder headed for
the hatch and just as he was reaching for it, Invictus grabbed his arm.
"Let me go first," he said, pulling Mulder back behind him. "That way if
they're up there waiting for us, you'll at least have a chance to fight
Mulder nodded, and Invictus threw open the hatch. He took one step up and
paused in the opening, letting the dusty orange-gray of early dawn shine in
thin rays around him to the floor of the sub-pod. He stood there, stopped,
and just as Mulder was about to open his mouth to ask what was wrong,
"Oh, sweet Jesus."
END CHAPTERChapter Five