Chapter 9

Diana, still smirking in a tailored suit, said nothing. Her face, a few
lines more grooved than last Scully saw her, looked amused as she watched
her two captives squirm before her. The click of high heels--amazingly
insensible attire for the situation they all were in--echoed ghostly and
tense in the small, rectangular room.

"How is Fox?"

Forgetting herself for a brief moment, but a moment that she had been
waiting for since she laid eyes on Diana, Scully lost her composure and
spat quickly and directly into Diana's over-manicured, plastic face.

Diana, obviously startled, stumbled back, tripping on one of her heels.
She braced herself against the wall, her knee smashing against the white wall and
tinting it with a soon-to-be purple and yellow splotch. She lifted her
head, strands wiped out by the non-supporting hand and stared in disgust at Scully.

"You react well for a dead woman."

"You . . ." Diana stopped, pushing herself to an erect position, adjusting
her beige skirt. Her face was twisted red in anger, eyes flashing and
ready to strike.

Scully's face was set in repose once again though, even through the faint
strains of Richter's laughter from behind her tickled her senses.

"Once, I believed you did something noble to save Mulder's life. That you
hadn't rotted to the core yet. Was I wrong even then? Was it all some ploy?"

Diana did not respond, her face set icy cold.

Disappointed by Diana's lack of response, but not devastated, Scully spoke
again, hiding her frustration.

"What did you do with Elspeth?" she demanded.

Diana, sensing she now had the advantage, walked over and peered down at
Scully again, although this time at a safer distance.

"Don't you know?" she said with mock shock. She was given a stare in
return. "You don't," she said softly with a surprised laugh. "Amazing--she didn't
tell you? Not even you?" she conjectured, looking at Richter.

Scully's heart was beating faster and faster. Elspeth, a traitor . . . No,
it couldn't be possible. She swallowed hard, clenching her fists. She
would not let this be their end . . .

"We trust her to tell us what she wants us to know when we need to know
it," Richter said defensively.

"How do you know that you can trust her, though?" was Diana's haughty
reply. "Can you really trust anyone anymore?"

"Where is she?" Richter pressed, though his body and his voice was laced
with tension. "What did you do with her? What did you do with Elspeth?"

"How sweet--a lover's demand." Richter reddened, perhaps from anger or
embarrassment--or even both. He grew silent.

"I knew you were treacherous and a backstabber, Diana," Scully said, "but I
never thought that you would turn your back against humanity. That you
would forsake your world for power."

"We do what we need to survive," she said with a bored voice. Then her
eyes came to focus in on Scully's. "You think that you can live on idealism
alone? You're a fool then, Dana. Like Mulder was a fool."


Diana tilted her head. "Optimistic still? Ah well. This world may not be much,
but at least I will be able to live the rest of my life with some
assurance of safety and control. You," she shook her head disdainfully,
"you will be like the others--fighting for some grand cause. It doesn't
exist! It's futile--can you not come to terms with the colonists? They're
not just going to go away. They got this far for some reason. What are we
to them? Nothing, that's what. We are bodies--farms and food for them.
At least you are. I have something at least--something to cling to."

"And you think we don't?" Scully challenged. "Your comfort is temporary,
Diana. You are nothing to them, too. And you are nothing to me, or anyone
else who still even dares to hope a little bit."

"That world is dead, Dana."

"You are as good as dead, Diana. You don't need me to explain to you why,
either, do you?"

Silence. Diana paced. She twisted her hands uncomfortably.

"I admire you, Dana. I always have. But I have to disagree with you
still." She spoke these words, but she did so hesitantly. "Dreams are
nice, but they have no basis in this world. Until you're able to see the
whole picture, you can't judge me or anyone else who is doing what it takes
to stay alive."

"And exactly what is it that is giving you the motivation to live, Diana?
Without any glimmer of hope, what do you have to live for? Power? That's
an empty feeling, and you know it. If this world is so damned, what gets
you through the day? Is it something you're afraid of?"

"I see it's impossible for me to try to even get you to begin to understand
what sort of situation we are in. Go ahead. Live in your world and say
what you will about how I am leading my life, but you can't change me."

Diana turned her back and headed for the door. She turned for a moment
before she left. "I'm sorry to think that you'll only understand when you
die. What a pity."

The door opened, closed, and again Scully and Richter were left in the
blinding white room.

"What do you want with us?" Scully said through clenched teeth after Diana
had left. She closed her eyes and tried to focus.


Scully jumped--if she could jump from where she lay bound. Her eyes
fluttered opened to see Richter, standing before her, a look of concern in
his face.

"How did you . . ." she began as he undid the leather straps that held her
down. She sat up, rubbed her wrists as he undid the fastens on the
restraints on her legs.

"These are old--and I loosened them up while you were talking to that
woman. Old acquaintances, I assume."

"You could say that," Scully said dryly as she swung her now-free legs over
to the side and hopped down to stretch them out.

"We need to get out of here," Richter said, appraising the room. "And find
Elspeth. I want to know what they're doing with her, and why they took her
away when we were left together."

"It does seem very strange. Diana seemed to be eluding to something, but
I'm not going to jump to any . . ."

"You think she might be a spy?" he asked softly.

Scully hesitated. "Not . . .a spy, but something important to them. But I
don't know. I don't want to be suspicious even though that's what my gut
tells me to do. We've had enough of that so far, don't you think."

Richter seemed abashed for a moment. "Yes we have," he finally responded
with resolve. "Too much. Now let's get out of this place. How do you
suppose we get out of here?"

"A gun would prove very handy right now," Scully mused. "Just shoot the
locks off the door, but that would cause a lot of noise. Still..."

"If we break off part of these stretchers, maybe we could pick the lock."

Scully was pensive for a moment. Richter was about to speak, ask her what
was wrong, but she held a hand up, walking to the door. She gripped the
stainless steel handle and twisted it down. The door clicked open. She
turned to look at Richter, a curious brow raised in amusement.

"That would also work, I guess," he said wryly as they quietly exited.

"I figured if the straps were old, maybe these facilities aren't the
highest quality."

"Simplicity is wonderful," he replied as they slid down the hall.

They were halfway to the next door when alarms started sounding and they
were bathed in a red light that flooded the corridor.

"Oh Christ," Richter swore. "How did they know we got out?"

"No, no," she comforted, "I don't think that's what's going on. Her eyes
flew around and she saw the source of the light--a fire alarm. "Shit," she
swore under her breath. "Fire, Richter. We have to get out of here."

They scrambled down the hallway and as they peered through the door they
saw the shadows of people running out of rooms, throwing things as they ran.
They waited a moment and then went into the hallway.

"We have to find Elspeth," Richter said as they progressed down the hall.
Immediately, he ran to the first door and flung it open. Empty. They
split the hallway, running and throwing doors open as they went, yelling for
Elspeth. Scully turned to Richter to speak but he had disappeared behind a
door. She went across the hall and went in to see Elspeth's pale body,
dressed in a hospital gown, flung carelessly on the ground, a broken rag

His face was stricken, and Scully could not help but feel the tug at her
heart that she had felt so many times when she had found Mulder in
similarly bad situations. He lifted her gently to his chest, one arm slung
protectively around her back and one underneath the bend in her knees for
support. Her head bobbed slightly and finally came to rest on his shoulder.
The comfort of her shallow breathes against his neck, he could never even
start to explain to anyone.

Scully lead the way out, holding the door for Richter and Elspeth. The
moved as fast as they could possibly go up and down the corridors. They
noted that they could hear a siren that was not within the building going
off, and followed its sound.

They did not have to struggle for freedom long. A smile laced with relief
flooded Scully's face as she spied the comfort of a glowing red "exit"
sign. She pushed against the door and it came open without too much effort, but
not all was good on planet Earth tonight.

They were welcomed again by the outside world with a gust of black ash
against a blazing orange skyline. Blue-eyes wide Scully scanned her
surroundings. Buildings rose above the clouds of smoke like obelisks.
Like a shockwave, Scully suddenly realized where she was, with only an inkling
of what was happening, a sickening feeling twisting in her stomach at the
perversity of how history could repeat itself.

Chicago was burning.


Chapter Ten