Disclaimer: This story is based on
characters created by Chris Carter and Ten-
Thirteen Productions. Characters used
without permission. No copyright
TITLE: Ashes to Ashes
AUTHORS: Obfusc8er and Jenna
ARCHIVE: Two weeks exclusively on VS11;
others please ask first.
CLASSIFICATION: X, MT, MSR
SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully are participating
in a multi-agency public safety project when
serious threats emerge, both old and new.
AUTHORS’ NOTES: Includes the re-introduction
of Agent Grif Michelin and Carlos, Vickie
Moseley’s creations in Great Balls of Fire,
used here with her permission. You are
encouraged to read her story before this
one. Also contains quotes from Monty Python
and the Holy Grail, written by Chapmen,
Cleese, et al., property of FOX. Rousch
Pharmaceuticals is a fictional entity, also
owned by FOX.
Thank you to Sally and Jamie for the
We would also like to recognize Vickie for
her indispensable suggestions,
encouragement, and guidance during the
course of the writing of this story.
Key to organization abbreviations used:
CDC – The Centers for Disease Control and
FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency
NG – National Guard
SBCCOM – US Army Soldier and Biological
USAMRIID – United States Army Medical
Research Institute for Infectious Diseases
WHO – World Health Organization
Federal Building Plaza
Pleasant wind coaxed a rippling wave from
the grass and rows of flags adorning
Military Park, oblivious of the bodies
scattered across the plaza. They lay in the
street, on the steps of a nearby news
building, and in front of a quiet formation
of colorful standards representing dozens of
nations. As still as the bodies were, the
vestigial quiet of the scene had long since
fallen to the din of law enforcement
officers, medical personnel, firemen, and
others attempting to organize and deal with
the situation. Survivors called out for
help, some of them screaming in pain, others
babbling incoherently. Countless emergency
vehicle sirens were still converging on the
site, adding to the noise.
Special Agent Dana Scully stood right in the
middle of the chaos. She was carefully
taking note of the activities around her,
but she remained focused on her own current
goal: directing the removal of the bodies.
The two-way radio attached to her jacket
crackled to life, and the weary voice of a
city coroner’s office employee informed her
that 300 body bags were on the way.
“Thank you. When should those be arriving?”
“ETA fifteen minutes.”
“Okay. Please see if any of the outlying
hospitals have more bags to spare and have
them on standby, just in case.”
“Will do.” A click and a second of static
signaled the end of the conversation.
Scully turned to the Indiana State Police
lieutenant standing next to her, politely
waiting until he finished barking a line of
orders into his own walkie-talkie. He
noticed her attention, and looked at her
“Yes. Have your men set up a perimeter
around the deceased. We want to minimize
unnecessary contact. Guide civilians to
triage, and keep all other emergency
personnel away from the bodies. If anyone
has an issue with that, have their
supervisor contact me.”
The man moved off to brief a nearby circle
of officers on their new duty. Scully
sighed and rolled her head around in a
counterclockwise circle, stretching tired
neck muscles. She surveyed the mass of
people and equipment before her with
scrutinizing but tired eyes. Men and women
wearing jackets emblazoned with various
initials worked furiously to organize and
coordinate hundreds of disaster victims,
some of whom bore the bright red marks of
casualty. The FEMA representatives remained
at a temporary tent station, where they
consulted with offsite officials in
determining the overall course of action.
Agents of the CDC overlooked the early
diagnosis, quarantine, and treatment efforts
of the Red Cross and local medical
State and local police organizations were
just now receiving reinforcements for their
own organizations’ efforts in the form of a
detail from the Indiana National Guard.
Scully’s own agency, the FBI, fought to
preserve the integrity of all available
evidence of possible terrorism at the scene
and pitched in wherever their expertise
could be of aid. The US Army’s biological
and chemical response team, SBCCOM, was also
present at the affair, helping direct and
maintain the overall chain of interagency
command, along with the National Joint
Terrorism Task Force. The thought of the
reams of imminent paperwork to be done made
Scully’s head hurt, on the verge of
bursting. Finally, her two-way radio
crackled to life again, and a deep voice
boomed out of the handset, along with those
of everyone milling around her.
“Ladies and gentlemen, our daily objectives
have been met. Stage four of TOPOFF is
complete. Please report to your field
supervisor for debriefing before departure,
and return to your assigned posts at 0730
A palpable sense of relief accompanied the
collective sigh heard upon the completion of
the message. The blessing of the Joint
Terrorism Task Force was upon the throng of
laborers. Equipment was already starting to
be packed up for a night’s storage when
Scully began stepping carefully around the
field of “bodies”. She stopped and looked
down, eyebrow raised, when she came to one
still form lying supine on the smooth
concrete incline next to the steps of the
news building. It was a male, covered in
crimson, with feet propped up on the low,
flat finial of the railing and hands clasped
behind its head. The face had relaxed into
an image of eternal peace.
“Mulder, get up.” No response. She leaned
closer and spoke in a louder voice.
“Wha?” He jumped, startled awake, and
nearly fell off of the concrete railing.
“It’s over for today. You don’t have to be
dead again until tomorrow morning.”
A sly smile spread across his face, white
teeth showing through the red of fake blood.
“I’m not quite dead, yet,” he protested in
his best lousy British accent. “I think
I’ll go for a walk.”
Scully grinned in spite of the weariness
pulling at her.
“So,” he inquired, sitting up with interest,
“how did the drill go today?”
“Surprisingly well, actually. Now, let’s go
get you cleaned up. You look like death
*** ACT ONE ***
Holiday Inn Express
It was late when Mulder and Scully arrived
back at the motel, and both were exhausted
from their long day. Wasting no time,
Scully opened her purse, removing the motel
keycard to gain entrance into her spacious
room. She heard the thump of the adjoining
room’s door as it closed. Mulder had been
quiet during the car ride, she mused. Even
Scully began to organize her paperwork for
the night. The muffled rush of water in the
plumbing system was soon followed by rapping
on the door that separated her room from
his. It was already unlocked.
“Come in,” she called, appreciative of his
politeness, spotty as it was.
“I’m dead tired, Scully,” Mulder proclaimed
as he dragged himself into the room and flopped
face-down onto her queen sized bed. He
reached blindly for the remote control on
the nightstand and pointed it in the general
direction of the television. It blinked to
life. He lifted one arm slightly glancing at
the screen from the gap between his armpit
and the bed. An NCAA playoff game was on,
Scully noticed. Duke versus UConn. Mulder
groaned and lowered his arm. It must not
have been going the way he wanted.
“I’m worn out, too. I’ve been craving a
nice, hot shower.”
Scully rolled her neck around in slow
circles, the tension of the evening
manifesting in audible pops from her spine.
Her muscles ached from standing in high
heels on the hard concrete for most of the
day. She decided that staging a mock
disaster for a terrorism exercise was
definitely strenuous work.
“Mmmph.” Mulder’s deep, rumbling reply
dissipated into the comforter on the bed.
She knew that he must have been truly
exhausted when her mention of a shower did
not provoke some positive lavatory taxis on
Scully divested herself of her clothing on
the way to the bathroom. Turning on the
spray, she found that the deliciously warm
water sluicing over her tired and aching
muscles was more relaxing than anything that
she had encountered all day. Well, except
for taking quick peeks at her partner. She
had chosen to wear a suit that accented her
best features and caught Mulder glancing at
her on several occasions. Scully had just
smiled at him in response. She knew those
reserved reactions drove him crazy.
Despite the long and tiring conditions of
the day, she decided that she was glad she
had taken on the terrorism readiness
exercise. At first, it had angered her that
A.D. Cassidy had even suggested she and
Mulder go on the assignment. Her inbox was
already overflowing with requisitions forms,
autopsy reports, and case summaries that
needed her review and signature.
However, in reflection, Scully realized that
her no-nonsense attitude had given her the
edge the drill’s organizers were looking
for. She had excelled today, shouting
orders and dealing with demands, and had
everyone around her carrying
out her every directive.
With her shower completed, she donned a set
of pajamas. Scully carefully sat on the soft
bed and leaned against the pillows, trying
not to disturb Mulder’s obvious slumber. She
reached for the file folder on the night
stand and opened the latest notes on their
most recent case.
She smiled slightly as she fingered the
pages of the unfinished portion of Mulder’s
report, recalling how they had gotten into a
small argument about the paranormal aspects
of the case, or more accurately, the lack
thereof. Not an argument. A discussion. She
had not been quite sure what to do with
herself after the case was resolved without
the slightest hint of alien, mutant, or
boogey-man involvement. In the end, she
settled for winning a bet that Mulder’s
venture into internet smut-writing would not
last two weeks. He had taken her to a new,
cozy diner close to her apartment and
laughed over copies of the e-mails he had
received. They both agreed that the place
had a great ambiance and decided to visit
Scully smiled at the memory, stood from the
bed, and quietly fished around in her
briefcase for the requisitions. Sitting at
the motel’s desk, she opened her laptop and
prepared herself for the long evening ahead.
Twenty minutes into typing her report, she
stood to stretch. Her muscles had tightened
again, still tired from the stress of the
day’s drill exercises.
Deep in thought, Scully was startled by a
clap of thunder. She sat down and resumed
her typing on the case file notes, saving
them every few minutes so that they would
not be lost. She had learned her lesson in
Bellefleur years ago. Scully worked as
quickly as possible, oblivious to the snores
arising from her partner. Finally, at about
2 AM, she put the finishing touches on the
last report, saved it, and shut the computer
off. She also unplugged the laptop to
prevent power surge damage.
Scully picked up her terrorism drill
procedure manual and slipped under the
covers of her bed, wishing she had brought a
novel to read, instead. She knew without a
doubt that the manual would lull her to
sleep in record time, though. Mulder did not
budge when she propped up her pillows and
situated herself to read, and she did not
have the heart to disturb his sleep.
She watched him for a few minutes, soaking
up the innocent, child-like expression on
his face. She even found the little puddle
of drool forming on his pillow endearing.
With a sigh, she tore her eyes away from
Mulder and tried to concentrate on the
manual. Her valiant effort to study was
doomed, however. Within a matter of minutes,
true to Midwest form, a loud blast of
thunder shook the room, and lightening
streaked across the night sky. The room was
plunged into darkness.
Rousch Pharmaceuticals Research Division
“What do you mean the formula isn’t ready?”
“I’m sorry sir, but we haven’t had the
proper amount of time to prepare it as you
“Well, get it finished! We don’t have a lot
of time, and the contract ends this week.
It has to happen before then.”
The man tousled his hair in frustration at
the latest developments.
“Sir, if I may ask. What exactly are you
planning to do with this formula?” the lab
technician asked meekly.
“That is none of your business. Just do
your job as you are told!” The man stormed
out of the conference room, annoyed.
Hans Gregor walked back to his office,
flipped on the computer, and typed in the
password, gaining entry into his e-mail.
Noting there was nothing of importance, he
swiftly scanned over the messages without
opening them. Near the end of the list, a
subject stood out in red bold letters.
Apprehension settled in as small beads of
sweat quickly accumulated on his forehead.
Before opening the e-mail, he looked around
his office to make sure no one was looking.
The message popped up on his monitor with
one click of the mouse.
<Date: Fri, 3 April 2003 06:42:15 EDT)>
<I am contacting you to inquire about our
joint venture. I trust all is going
according plan. Contact me *immediately*
if there are *any* delays in the project.
And remember, can get what want mission accomplished. We will make
direct at original safe location
after your directives have been carried
Carefully, Gregor regarded the e-mail and
pondered his next option. He didn’t know
exactly how he had gotten mixed up with
this, but he certainly knew why. He also
knew that he had to speed up the process,
even if it meant that he had to call on the
external sources he had come to despise.
Griffith Michelin made all men look like
angels, even considering himself in the
equation. He was reluctant to turn to
Michelin. Gregor was not accustomed to
dealing with dregs.
He had been impressed when Michelin managed
to wring an acquittal from what appeared to
be an open-and-shut conviction. However,
even Michelin did not escape the stigma of
the accusations, and he was drummed out of
the Bureau in short order. The whole matter
was distasteful to Gregor. Unseemly.
However, after the careful planning of
Gregor’s concept to test the formula, it was
inevitable that it would fall through
without outside help. Still, he realized he
had no choice but to throw a bone to the old
dog. Gregor gave him a position as a Public
Information Officer for Rousch
Pharmaceuticals in addition to
other…responsibilities. Picking up the
phone, he heard the dial tone, jabbed at the
buttons and waited for Michelin to answer
his cell phone.
“It’s me. We’ve got a problem.”
“Just so you know, the word problem does not
exist in my vocabulary, Hans. So what can I
help you with?” he sneered audibly.
“These idiots your guys hired have screwed
up the original samples and are starting the
process over from scratch. There is no way
we’ll be ready for this little shindig we
have planned. Any ideas on how we can speed
“Let me think about it and I’ll get back
“Just don’t wait…too long.” Before
Gregor could say anything further, Michelin
had disconnected the call.
Gregor slung the phone against the desk.
“Damn, we don’t have time for this!”
Drawing his hands through his thick chestnut
hair, he sighed, pushed away from his desk,
and stood to leave for the evening, unsure
of what would happen if this didn’t pan out
as expected. All he knew was that there was
an equation at work here. He was a part of
that equation, as a representative of
Rousch, as was *Agent* Mulder, and it all
added up to delayed but determined
revenge… This was one project he was
determined to see through to the end.
Holiday Inn Express
“Mmmmm…” Scully felt like she was in a
dream world as something soft and fuzzy
moved enticingly across her cheek and kissed
the corner of her mouth. Her eyes forced
themselves open and found Mulder propped up
next to her, eyeing her appreciatively.
“Morning, sleepyhead. You ready to start
the second day of the drill? Of course, as
you can see I’m ready and ‘dying’ to go.”
He laughed at his own pun, a mischievous glint
in his eyes.
She smiled at his contagious good mood that
had started affecting her before she even
got out of bed.
“Nice way to wake up.” Scully sat up and
stretched. She leaned over and gave Mulder
a quick peck on the cheek before rising from
the bed and padding toward the bathroom.
“Give me 30 minutes and I’ll be ready.”
“Okay, but hurry. We want to eat breakfast
before we go. I heard someone say today’s
operations are going to be much longer than
Mulder heard her groan and smiled to
himself. He walked back into his own room
to get himself ready. He had a tough time
shaking the remnants of sleep from his mind,
so he decided to start easy. Television.
Flipping through the channels, he came
across a local news station, which was
showing excerpts of the success of
yesterday’s drill. The view briefly showed
Scully shouting orders to everyone around
her, and then swept across the disaster area
to reveal bodies strewn all about, being
tended by various medical personnel. The
screen also showed the head of a local
pharmaceutical company’s terrorism
simulation team, his face obscured by a
dozen microphones. He was speaking to the
reporter about yesterday’s events.
Something struck Mulder very odd as he
looked at the man. The voice seemed vaguely
familiar, but Mulder couldn’t place him. He
listened intently as the reporter continued
to talk to the man. Suddenly, reading the
scroll on the bottom of the screen, his
worst fears had come true. The man was none
other than the former Agent Grif Michelin.
Michelin? Mulder could not believe he had
managed to stay out of prison, much less
finagle his way into a high-profile job
already. A position of authority,
nonetheless. Mulder was immediately
suspicious. Michelin could pose a serious
threat to everyone involved with the
project. Mulder cast a reflexive glance
toward the door adjoining Scully’s room. The
sound of the shower would have masked the
familiar voice coming from the television.
Mulder began weighing his options, looking
back and forth between the glowing screen
and the closed door. Scully was under a lot
of pressure, and her role in the terrorism
response team was vital. Mulder did not want
to compound any organizational problems or
be the cause of more weight on her
shoulders. He knew she would not approve of
him rushing in for covert investigation on
his own, but he had met a couple of guys
from the local CDC office who might be
*** ACT TWO ***
The phone rang, filling the room with its
shrill rhythm. A shaky hand shot out to
answer the call. Bleary eyes opened to see
“4:45 AM” glaring bright blue from the alarm
clock. The disoriented man choked the
receiver with a white-knuckle grip and
simultaneously bumped his half-empty tumbler
of scotch with his elbow. It teetered on
the edge of the mahogany bed stand for a
moment before plummeting to the floor.
Gregor did not appreciate the irony, knowing
that a stain was slowly expanding on his
“Hello?” he barked, an edge of irritation in
“You really shouldn’t be drinking. Bad for
your liver,” a deep, gruff voice answered.
Gregor’s eyes widened at the cryptic remark.
A chill ran up his spine as he pushed the
covers aside and walked over to the bedroom
window. He carefully parted the curtain,
looking into the dim light of pre-dawn for a
“Who is this?” Gregor’s voice was much more
“A secret admirer.”
Gregor recognized the man, the voice no
“Michelin, you don’t have time to play
games. The people you contracted have
failed to adhere to the schedule we agreed
upon. Other parties are growing
dissatisfied. This had better be good
news.” Gregor paused, allowing Michelin
time to consider his statement. Their fates
were tied together. If one of them failed,
they would both fry. “Very, very good
Gregor paced back and forth next to his bed
while awaiting a reply. His right foot felt
a cold squish as it found the wasted scotch.
He stopped and closed his eyes in an attempt
to suppress his anger.
“It’s all taken care of. I found
an…alternate source.” Michelin cleared
his throat, implying that Gregor was better
off not knowing the particulars. “The
solution’s concentration is lower, but the
effectiveness will not be compromised. It
will do its job. Should be ready for you
today, about 1 PM.”
“You’d better be damned sure. And what
about our friend Carlos?”
“I’m taking care of that personally,”
Michelin purred. “I’m going to get some work
out of him first.”
Gregor could almost see the malicious grin
spread across his face.
“You have a lot of work to do. Better get
to it. I expect a report ASAP.”
“Will do, Hans. Nice pajamas, by the way.
Yellow is definitely your color.”
The line clicked before Gregor could
respond. He felt the heat rise in his ears.
He set the handset in its cradle with excess
force. Michelin was becoming a constant
source of frustration…but Gregor would
have to put up with him in order to rid
himself of a larger problem. The
tantalizing promise of revenge sparked his
mind, despite the early hour. He picked up
the tumbler and headed toward the kitchen,
practicing the events to come over and over
in his imagination. The glass was left on
the counter, the carpet stain immediately
forgotten, as Gregor’s attention was
diverted by a brown cardboard box sitting on
the bar table. Its innocuous appearance
contrasted with the fact that it had not
been sitting there the night before.
Gregor opened a cabinet drawer and grabbed a
pair of scissors automatically, never taking
his eyes off of the box. He rushed over to
it like a child hurrying to open birthday
gifts. The package bore no labels, but he
did not need any to know the contents. Tape
split cleanly between steel blades, and
Gregor unfolded the leaves of the box top.
He lifted the upper half of the high-density
Styrofoam packing and removed the
information packet, placing it on the table
for later perusal. He ripped open the
sealed plastic bag with his bare hands,
finally revealing the cargo inside. Gregor
pulled the metal canister from its housing
and cradled it in his hands, his eyes fixed
on the curved, red tongues of the warning
symbol emblazoned on the side. He ran his
thumb over the word printed in bold below
Gregor nearly quivered with anticipation,
only a few hours away from obtaining the
formula, and the canister would be the
vehicle of his justice, his success, and
unrequited love. It was almost too perfect.
The man set his prize on the table and
hurried through his morning routine,
scrubbing himself to immaculate perfection
and donning the suit he had laid out the day
before. He had planned every aspect of this
day and smiled in satisfaction. He placed
the canister in his briefcase and locked it.
Gregor had grabbed his wallet and keys and
started out the door, hand on the light
switch, when he paused. He glanced one last
time at the 4″x6″ framed photograph on the
On the left side, an angelic smile and
emerald eyes shone brilliantly against ivory
skin. Crimson hair shimmered like strands
of spun lava, even in low winter sunlight,
belying the vibrancy of the woman’s
presence. His heart melted just looking at
her. It seized with anger, however, as his
eyes swept over the jagged white border of
fractured glass to the image on the right
side. Her partner. Even the word raised
his ire. The man was leaning over, saying
something to her as an aside. Something he
did not intend for anyone to hear, no doubt.
Gregor’s mouth went dry and his breath
hitched as he looked at the way the man had
invaded her space, brushing against her as
if he owned her. They were never aware that
he was watching them, of course, but the
territoriality was apparent all of the time.
Well, if her partner could not take a hint,
it was his own fault.
Gregor stepped toward the bookshelf and
stared at her for just a moment longer. He
was surprised by the hot track of a tear
sliding down his cheek as he reached out and
touched his fingers longingly against the
glass. His achievements and hard work would
never be quite enough to get her attention.
This time, though, he was going to make his
move. There was no way she could ignore him
now. Gregor turned and left the room, turning
off the foyer light before locking the door.
The sun’s rays painted broad strokes of pink
and orange in apartment windows, slanting
down ever so gradually, not quite touching
the water. A breeze bent vivid green blades
of new grass in stadium waves. Ducks
floated idly in the narrow channel. Most of
them were still asleep, heads tucked firmly
Scully watched the aquatic birds with
curiosity while finishing her breakfast.
They were content to go wherever the water
took them, secure in the knowledge that they
would not wake up somewhere in the middle of
the Atlantic Ocean if they slept too long.
Scully sighed, wishing she had been able to
sleep in, too.
Scully took another bite of her organic
high-fiber bagel, thinking as she chewed.
In some ways, she pondered, she was like one
of these sleeping ducks, only she followed
Mulder. She was content to go wherever he
took her. Well, almost. There was the time
he talked her into accompanying him to the
She stopped herself from eating more of the
bagel, and looked at it with one eyebrow
raised, wondering what exactly it contained
that had provoked her odd musings. Scully
tore the rest of the bagel into small pieces
and fed it to the group of mallards that had
gathered before her.
Scully was beginning to succumb to murky
thoughts of setting Mulder’s alarm clock to
go off at 4 AM on Sunday in retribution for
his rooster-like tendencies, but the scenery
made her change her mind. With the steep
grassy banks rising on either side of the
water to muffle sound, she could almost
forget that she was in the middle of a city.
After a little deliberation, she decided
that getting up at an obnoxious hour to
accompany Mulder to the downtown canal for
his morning run was not such a bad thing.
At that moment, he emerged from under a
bridge, running along the opposite bank.
It was almost time to leave, so Scully stood
and stretched before heading back toward the
car. The persistent quacking of hungry
mallards pursued her until she followed the
inclined brick path away from the canal.
She waited for her partner at the top of the
bank as he crossed the bridge. His
footfalls pounded across the synthetic
boards in a steady rhythm.
Scully gazed at a small boy and a frail-
looking elderly man wearing a veteran’s cap
on the path below. The boy listened to the
man’s words with wide eyes and then reached
out to press his hand against the engraved
granite face of a large memorial stone.
Below several columns of names, the
inscription across the bottom read “U.S.S.
Indianapolis”. The scene appealed to
Scully’s sense of duty, the solemn pair
reminding her of the reason why she was
Mulder panted slightly, jogging in place and
stretching his arms and torso. He laid his
hand on her shoulder, which got her
attention. She turned to him and pressed
the remote unlock button on the rental car’s
keychain. The car beeped in reply.
“I’m dying to get started,” he said in a
Scully sighed at his droll humor.
“Thanks for accompanying me, though, really.
Had to run. I get restless lying still all
She raised an eyebrow, wordlessly demanding
an explanation of how playing a corpse in
the staged disaster could possibly be more
difficult than directing the body-recovery
effort. He tried to hide a sheepish look by
wiping the sweat from his face with the edge
of his tee-shirt.
“You know, Scully, it’s hard work!” His
voice rose to mock-whine level. “People
stepping on you all day, dragging you
around, zipping you up in those bags…” He
paused and frowned. “I think I do get
“Mulder,” she shot him a disapproving look,
“you’re not supposed to discuss that.”
“Sorry. It’s just really unnerving. Even
with the ventilation material and interior
zipper.” He started toward the car, talking
over his shoulder as she followed. “Not to
“I suppose it does get pretty warm in there,
but you shouldn’t be in the bag more than a
few minutes. If everything goes well, that
is.” She rolled her eyes, even though he
“Scully, the locals call us ‘Hot Pockets’.”
He said the last two words with exaggerated
distaste as he sat in the passenger’s seat
of the rental.
“Hey, if the bag fits…”
Mulder shut the car door, interrupting her
bad analogy. Scully continued to stare in
the direction of the memorial stone, lost in
“Let’s go. I still have to change into my
blood-soaked clothes,” he called from the
passenger’s side. “By the way, Scully, I
won’t be at the hotel tonight. I signed up
for an overnight emergency security breech
scenario at the local CDC office. I’m going
straight there from the drill this evening.”
She raised an eyebrow at that.
“Oh, really, Mulder? Since when did you
start giving up quality sleeping time to
hang out with a bunch of ge…Nevermind.”
“Ha ha. Anyway, I’ll just head over to the
site in the morning and catch some ‘z’s on
the lawn,” Mulder stated with what he hoped
was just enough sincerity to convince her.
He was not quite sure.
“Okay,” she said dubiously.
She shook her head, clearing some meandering
thoughts, and sat in the car beside Mulder.
“Scully? Something wrong?” His voice was
tinged with concern.
“No.” She paused, reviewing the day’s plans
in her mind. “Why?”
“Oh, no reason. Just morbid curiosity.”
Scully did not have to look at Mulder to
know that there was a smile on his face. She
gave him a swat on the shoulder, started the
car, and headed toward the drill site.
Federal Building Plaza
Grif Michelin surveyed the earnest chemical
containment effort in progress with a
mixture of restless boredom and
anticipation. His briefcase sat atop a
chest-high portable cabinet, its handle
still gripped tightly in his left hand. The
metal canister it contained was no longer
empty, and that fact got his adrenaline
The army’s Chemical and Biological Rapid
Response team representatives had just sent
samples from the recovered remnants of the
“weapon” to be analyzed. Preliminary in
situ tests had indicated the presence of a
strong acid, so all response personnel were
now wrapped quite warmly in poly-vinyl Level
B Hazmat suits. Everyone except for
Michelin, who sweated bullets inside his
Level A suit.
He had many hours of experience with the
restrictive protective gear and respirators,
but the situation was making him
claustrophobic. It would all be worth it,
though, he mused and smiled to himself.
Everything was going as planned. No one had
questioned his choice of Hazmat suit, even
though it was a bit overboard for the
drill’s circumstances. Certain perks came
with being the representative of a major
pharmaceutical company, and one of them was
opting for the $5,000 model over the $1500
Level B. His neon orange suit was
incredibly gaudy, but it was also a
completely sealed, self-contained
environment. No sense in taking chances, he
A sudden movement against his waist startled
him. He almost jumped before he realized
that it was merely his pager. So, it was
time. He checked the numerical message
anyway, to confirm the order. The small
digital display read “7734”. Michelin said
nothing, knowing that all voice transmission
via the respirators’ com links were being
recorded. He pulled the briefcase off of the
cabinet and quickly made his way around the
perimeter of the small park, heading toward
the “casualty” preparation area.
A few volunteers and government officials
were already getting organized for the day’s
events. Michelin spotted Mulder sitting in
a makeup artist’s chair. He was having the
finishing touches put on his blood red corn
syrup and glycerine-painted face and body.
It would be the perfect cover, Michelin
mused. He wished he had thought of that
little detail himself.
In less than a minute, Mulder was nearly
unrecognizable. He vacated the chair for
the next casualty in line and headed toward
the large cold drinking water dispenser.
Michelin took three deep breaths and walked
back to the other side of the small park.
He squeezed into the narrow gap between a
mobile generator unit and the satellite
Louie’s familiar face was visible at the
other end of the van. They met in the
middle of the hidden space. Michelin handed
him the briefcase without a word. His elbow
bumped against a bright yellow cord that ran
from the van into the bundle of cords
supplying the command tent. Nothing seemed
to happen, though, so he turned and strode
back to one of the tent’s computer stations,
logged himself out for the rest of the day,
and hurried to his car. It took all of his
self-control to repress the urge to peel his
tires in the parking lot.
Louie shifted nervously inside the stifling
layers of his business suit. He felt too
conspicuous carrying Michelin’s briefcase in
the middle of a growing throng of federal
agents. It was far too late to back out,
though. He traced Michelin’s path across
the park to find Mulder and his other
Mulder proved difficult to recognize. Louie
nearly bumped into him before he figured out
which man covered in fake blood was his
target. Louie put a little distance
between them, trying not to hurry too much.
He leaned against the building, avoiding the
West end of the makeup area, where dozens of
teeming Boy Scouts chattered incessantly.
Louie was becoming irritated with the delay
when he spotted the other contacts.
The two stout men with their own distorting
makeup approached Mulder. The tall one
sporting a goatee shook his hand before
conversing with the agent in a low voice.
Louie heard a few words here and there. It
was enough to discern that they were asking
for Mulder’s help moving a large box of
catering food to the drill site. He
acquiesced. The men continued to talk and
gently guided Mulder between two sandstone
buildings, careful to maintain congenial
body language. Louie was impressed by their
The men led the apparently unsuspecting
agent into a partially obscured loading dock
alley while Louie stayed behind. Mulder was
preoccupied with helping the first man lift
a large, heavy cardboard box while the other
pulled the security gate shut and locked it.
He paused to nod at Louie before turning his
attention back to Mulder.
The two men at the dock struggled under
their heavy burden. Mulder staggered for a
moment and nearly dropped his end of the
load before regaining balance. He struggled
to keep his momentum, walking backwards
while the shorter man urged him to keep
moving. Mulder did not hear the goateed man
approach. He could not see the leather sap
that appeared from under a loose-fitting
jacket, and he never anticipated the
devastating blow to the base of his neck
that sent him careening to the pavement.
“Did anyone ever call Colonel O’Neill?”
“Where are my field reports? I need them on
my desk in five minutes!”
“SBCCOM is having trouble with the satellite
feed. Get one of the NG techs out there to
see what’s wrong.”
Scully rubbed the bridge of her nose with
one hand and squeezed her eyes shut, trying
to block out the cacophony of increasingly
frantic voices around her. She had expected
to supervise the body recovery team again,
but the unexpected addition of a possible
chemical weapon to the scenario set a
different procedure into action. About
halfway through the morning, only the Army’s
chemical response team and the ever-present
“casualties” were allowed in the restricted
Scully had found herself “facilitating
communications between the command
authorities and local officials”, which
meant that she had the honor of informing
the Indianapolis mayor’s office, the county
coroner, and local hospitals that she was
not sure exactly how much longer the drill
was going to take. She could feel a
migraine looming on the horizon.
Scully pried her eyes open. A CDC employee
was looking at her with a concerned
“Are you okay?” the woman asked. “You look
like you’re having a tough time. Need some
Scully tried to give her a reassuring smile.
“No, but thanks, Nickie. I think I just
need to get out of this room for a few
minutes. I’ll be back in a bit.”
Scully checked to make sure she had her
pager in her jacket pocket before heading
for the outdoor break area. Once she was
close to the “Caution” tape, she reflexively
scanned the restricted zone. She observed a
fairly orderly scene of chemical containment
teams picking their way through the “dead”
to evaluate the area. Scully scanned the
ground, but she could not identify Mulder
among the scattered “bodies”.
She sighed, wondering what he was really
planning for that night. She hated to be
untrusting, but she could not shake the
feeling that he was up to no good. However
she might try, she could not convince
herself that he was merely trying to make
himself more helpful for the drill
supervisors. With that thought nagging at
her mind, she reluctantly turned and went
back to work inside the command tent.
Mulder winced as he drifted towards
consciousness. His head throbbed
mercilessly, obscuring all other sensations
for some time. After many deep, slow
breaths, he decided to open his eyes. A
bright light became distinguishable between
the slits of his eyelids, causing another
colorful cascade of pain.
His calming breaths turned to rapid panting
when he realized that he was inside some
sort of self-enclosed capsule. Strange
faces obscured by Hazmat hoods and masks
peered in at him through the transparent
Mulder tried to shove against it, but his
movement was halted by restraints. His
entire body twisted and contorted in an
effort to pull free, but he was held fast.
His heart sped, sending throbbing bolts of
agony through his skull.
He searched the faces above him for answers,
but they offered none. One of the men waved
at him. Very odd, Mulder thought, until he
realized that it was not meant as a
greeting. It was a good-bye. A hissing
sound accompanied an invisible jet of moist
air directed toward his face. It grazed his
skin for about 15 seconds before
terminating. The mist was soon followed by
a jab in the back of Mulder’s neck. The man
who had waved leaned closer. Mulder
recognized the familiar face of Grif
Michelin leering at him from the other side
of the lid. He slipped into darkness before
he had time to process what was happening.
Scully and Mulder stood silently in the
middle of the empty park. A deep sound
grew, rising from the unfamiliar buildings
around them. Scully saw the source of the
noise, now very loud. A great throng of
people were gathering in the park. Many of
them were adorned in ghastly costumes.
Scully felt like she was in a bad zombie
movie. She reached out to Mulder, just to
make sure he was still there.
Soon, she was surrounded by the crowd,
pushing, wanting, demanding her attention.
Mulder was next to her, now holding her
hand. The people pressed closer until she
could no longer move. When she turned to
Mulder, he was gone, and she was left alone,
a large, empty bag now clutched in her hand.
A loud buzzing rang in Scully’s ears,
causing her to jump. She opened her eyes to
darkness, her breath quickened and her heart
racing. Her hands searched cautiously for
the source of the incessant noise. Finally,
she felt the smooth, flat surface with
raised buttons. Her fingers were numb and
stiff. She couldn’t tell which button was
“Alarm Off”, so she just smashed them all.
The buzzing in the room stopped, but the
buzzing in her head continued mercilessly.
Her hand found the switch on her bedside
lamp and turned it. The light assaulted her
eyes. She groaned, her head swimming with
pain and disorientation. She eyed the
bottle of Imitrex on her night stand with
loathing. Not only had she fought her
headache for hours before falling
asleep, but she had been haunted by
nightmarish visions throughout the night.
Most of them had vanished into the recesses
of sleep before she could commit them to
memory, but the last one still bothered her.
The more Scully thought about the dream, the
more apprehensive she became. It didn’t
take an Oxford psychology degree to
translate that message. She rolled her eyes
once for good measure and swung her legs
over the side of the bed. Her clock read
5:30 AM. It was too early to go to the
site, but she decided to get ready, anyway.
She even entertained the idea of going to
the canal while she padded off to the hotel
room’s kitchenette in search of a glass of
Scully passed the television on the way and
decided that it would be a good idea to see
the weather report. Sleep still blurred her
vision, so she fumbled in her first attempt
to turn it on. It glowed to life on the
second try, though. Scully wandered to the
refrigerator, stretching her arms and
yawning before pulling the door open.
As she was grabbing the carton, she heard
the drill being mentioned on a news report.
That got her attention, and she turned to
watch. It was a live ground shot. The
cameras were there too early to capture much
of the activity, but there were already
scenario design techs inspecting the site
and preparing it for the day. After
searching the few faces the camera’s view
for Mulder, she began to pay more attention
to the reporter’s voiceover.
<…rumors circulating regarding the reason
for the location of this operation. When
confronted with these theories, a major
pharmaceutical representative refused to go
on camera, but he released this
The screen switched to a text page graphic.
Highlighted contents were read aloud by the
<“There have been no specific threats made
to the City of Indianapolis. However, it is
large enough to be a possible target and
must therefore remain alert and ready to
respond in the event of a threat to the
safety of its citizens. We don’t want to
take any chances.”
The mayor has gone on record in support of
the selection of Indianapolis, saying that
he welcomes the preparedness drill and that
safety is his top priority. However, with
the world’s largest sporting arena next
door, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with
a capacity of over 250,000 people, there is
speculation that there is more to the city’s
selection than we’re being told…>
The visual switched back to the site as the
reporter continued, with a small inset in
the upper right-hand corner. Scully read
the caption “Griffith Michelin, Rousch
Pharmaceuticals Spokesman”, and her heart
immediately sank. Mulder. She was stunned
for a moment. Her eyes flickered back and
forth, focused on nothing, as she surmised
exactly what was happening. Hot blood
rushed to her face. Her fingernails dug
into her palms.
She was being ditched.
It all made perfect sense. She had known
that Mulder’s sudden volunteerism was highly
unusual, but she had never imagined that he
would intentionally mislead her in order to
She pursed her lips, infuriated that he
would do this to her. Not only was it
condescending of him to assume that she
wouldn’t have backed him up, but worst of
all, he had lied to her. She shook from
head to toe, temporarily stifling her anger.
There was important work to be completed,
and unlike her partner, she was actually
going to make sure that it got done.
Their arrival at the park was right on
schedule. To Louie’s knowledge, no one knew
Mulder had even been missing. Louie pulled
the van to a stop just out of the sight of
the day’s activities. His pal Carlos was
awake and alert, training a gun at Mulder’s
head when Louie opened the doors to the van.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“I told you, I was making sure he didn’t go
anywhere.” Carlos crouched down and jumped
out of the van. Laying Mulder on top of a
body bag, they proceeded to pull him to the
nearest corner of the grassy area, where
most of the “dead victims” were being
staged. Once they were certain no one had
spotted them, they returned to the van with
the bag. Louie waited until Carlos was back
in the driver’s seat before reaching into
his inner jacket pocket. Louie’s lopsided
grin made Carlos squirm uneasily in the
seat. Louie slowly pulled his hand from his
jacket, revealing a large envelope stuffed
with money. He handed the cash to Carlos
through the lowered widow. Louie just could
not follow Michelin’s orders. Good no-
questions-asked lackeys were getting hard to
“Well done, man. Now scram…and don’t let
the boss see you around these here parts
The gleam in Carlos’ eye was apparent as he
mentally counted the wad of cash Louie had
passed in his direction.
“Yeah, nice doing buz’ness with ya.”
Louie sighed in relief as Carlos got into
the van and drove out of the park.
Two hours into the day, Scully was already
exhausted. The combination of stress and
lack of sleep was brutal. The order that
all field agents wear their Hazmats only
compounded matters. While everyone else had
donned their “prophylactics” with
jocularity, she had been glad that her
respirator might hide the scowl on her face.
Mulder’s deception consumed her thoughts,
and when she went hunting for him at her
first opportunity. She felt a predatory
glide in her step. Other people must have
noticed it, too, because the crowd of
workers seemed to part before her. She
searched the park, finally spotting Mulder’s
long gray training shoes in one corner of
the grassy area. A small spark of relief
lit at the sight of him, but she made quick
work of it. This time, she deserved to be
Mulder lay on his back, limbs sprawled out,
face turned to one side. He looked all too
comfortable soaking up the sun, Scully
noted. The makeup artist had gone a bit
overboard with the fake blood, but she could
still see the carefree, relaxed expression
on his face.
“Mulder, I saw the news today. Is there
something you’d like to tell me?”
She made no effort to disguise the edge in
her tone, although the suit’s microphone and
speaker made her sound like she was inside a
tin can. She waited expectantly. Mulder
did not move or reply.
“Fine. You stay in character now, but if
you don’t tell me what the Hell you were up
to last night by the time today’s exercise
is over, you are dead meat.”
Still no reply. She shook her head,
suppressing the urge to scream at his
silence, and quickly walked away from him.
Scully pondered the possible motives for his
lie as she crossed the park again, but none
made the act hurt any less. She was again
thankful for the respirator. It concealed
the handful of angry tears that fell from
(Two hours later)
The tailgate slammed shut on the back of the
Coroner’s van for another trip to the Marion
county morgue. Scully sighed. Only one
more load to go. Her team had documented
and organized all of the fatalities. They
had sent 58 “casualties” off for staged
autopsies. Although her job was nearly
complete, Scully approached it with
reluctance. Mulder was still lying in the
exact same place, awaiting his turn with the
rest of the last group.
Scully considered herself to be a very
professional person. She was difficult to
fluster. Everyone knew that, even her, but
the insult of Mulder’s deceptive game was a
constant presence in her mind. It grew out
of control, feeding itself, dominating her
mind as she tried to work, and the more she
thought about it, the angrier she got.
While the rest of her team attended to an
elderly woman and a large man nearby, Scully
dragged a body bag next to Mulder. She
avoided looking at him, trying to just do
her job and block out her emotions, but she
She stared at him and demanded in a lowered
voice, “Exactly how long are you going to
play this out, Mulder? What was so
important that you had to make up a story?
I checked with the personnel director. You
did not sign in for any scenario work last
night. If you’re going to ditch me, fine,
but you could at least give me the dignity
of not lying to me about it beforehand!”
Her tone had started out calm, but she was
talking adamantly by the time she finished.
She could feel her face blush with fury.
Scully waited for Mulder to say something,
but he did not even acknowledge her
presence. She noted with contempt that he
did not move at all. In fact, he was in the
exact same position she saw him in earlier.
“Asleep on the job. Figures.”
She started to unzip the bag in preparation
for Mulder’s transport when a peculiar
feeling gave her pause. Something about
Mulder’s breathing was not quite right. It
sounded like he was congested. Scully was
not sure if the sound was due to her suit’s
communication system, but it made her take a
closer look. That was when she noticed that
a trickle of the thick red liquid covering
his face was actually flowing. Upon closer
examination, the patches of his skin that
showed through were abnormally pale.
Scully’s mind raced as she realized that
something was very, very wrong.
She placed a gloved hand on his right
shoulder and shook him, but he did not
respond. She reached out and felt for
Mulder’s carotid through the thin plastic
layers of her gloves. His pulse was slightly
rapid and weak. Carefully, Scully eased one
of his eyelids open. Only the whites of his
eyes were visible.
Suddenly, Mulder looked at her, his gaze
unfocused, and tried to pull away. Before
Scully could react, Mulder’s body was
wracked with a violent cough, and a few
small droplets of blood sprayed on her
sleeve, contrasting sharply with the bright
Scully was stunned for a minute, unsure of
exactly what was happening. The only thing
she could think of was that her partner
needed help immediately. She stood up and
turned toward the crowd behind her.
“We need the paramedics over here. Now!”
Turning her attention back to Mulder, she
found him nearly bouncing off of the ground
with his coughing. His eyes wandered
aimlessly; his mouth hung open. Scully
knelt beside Mulder, at a loss to help him.
She couldn’t tell how much of the red blood
covering his body was real.
Scully tugged at his shirt until his abdomen
and chest were exposed. His torso was
soaked with beads of sweat and stripes of
red fluid. To Scully’s relief, it appeared
to be flaking off in places, but it was not
rust-colored. It was the drying remnant of
the fake blood. However, when Scully tried
to palpate Mulder’s ribs, she felt feverish
heat radiating from his skin, even through
the plies of her suit. The ribs seemed
intact, but something was still hampering
his breathing. His chest heaved under her
touch as he struggled for air.
Mulder’s head turned slightly. He looked at
her with fear in his eyes and moved his
mouth. She knew he was trying to say
something. His eyes grew wide, and he shot
out a hand, grabbing the sleeve of her suit
with an iron grip. A wave of pain passed
visibly through his body, and when the
trembling subsided, his eyes drifted shut
again. The hand on her arm went limp and
fell to the grass. Scully felt cold,
uncertain of what her partner was going
Paramedics still adorned in yellow Hazmat
gear arrived, immediately pulling her away
from Mulder. She tried to push her way
back, but other people got in her way. They
were the Indiana State Police officers from
“I need to get to him! He’s seriously ill.”
“Let the paramedics do their jobs, Agent
Scully. Just come over here with us…”
“No!” She had to get to him. Had to. “I’m
his doctor, and I’m going to stay with him!”
Still, they would not let her through. She
shoved one of the men out of the way and
moved to her left so she could at least get
a better view. The medics checked Mulder’s
vitals while the police moved everyone back.
The drill started to fall apart as people
dropped their scenario roles to watch. Their
chatter was restrained to a quiet buzz of
speculation. Various media
representatives tried to move close enough
to get Mulder on camera, but the crowd would
not allow it.
Scully realized that she was holding her
breath waiting for the ambulance to pull up.
It rolled onto the grass and stopped
directly beside Mulder. Scully noted that
he was stirring again. One of the medics
was trying to simultaneously ventilate him
with an Ambu bag and hold him still while a
gurney was brought to his side and lowered.
Just as two men began to lift Mulder onto
the flat mattress, he jerked to a sitting
position. The men set him back down at his
movement. His eyes were squeezed shut, and
he tore the mask from his face. The crowd
of onlookers fell silent. Mulder’s stomach
rippled and his arms quaked as he wrapped
them protectively around himself.
He tried to cough, but he only produced a
wet crackling sound. Scully could not stand
to watch from the sidelines any longer.
Just as she drew close enough to touch him,
one of the paramedics turned and stopped her
with a firm hand wrapped around her upper
“Let me go. He needs me.”
Scully was not even looking at the medic as
she spoke to him. She was noticing the
sweat collected on Mulder’s brow, the way he
rocked slowly back and forth, his grimace of
pain that was gradually worsening…
The coughing started again. This time, it
was the paramedic on his left who was doused
in bloody droplets. The attack did not stop
there, though. The entire plaza seemed to
still as Mulder’s strangled hacking began to
produce red foam. Scully added his symptoms
together: fever, nausea, difficulty
breathing, abdominal pain, bloody sputum…
There was a silent pause before one of the
medics shook his head and recognized what
had to be done.
“Quarantine protocol! No one enters or
leaves this plaza!”
The orders were relayed to the guards
surrounding the park. National Guard and
police began repositioning barriers and
enforcing the perimeter. Scully moved closer
to Mulder in spite of her shock. She
kneeled and supported his neck. One
paramedic helped her ease him back to the
ground while another continued to ventilate
him. Scully heard bullhorns directing the
drill participants to stay calm and follow
supervisors’ orders. She knew SBCCOM would
prepare for the worst and initiate a multi-
casualty incident response plan. The
problem would be convincing everyone
involved that it was not part of the drill.
Scully began to feel an unfamiliar feeling
creep up inside her. Fear. This was not a
drill, and Mulder’s illness was
Scully’s partner was at least semi-
conscious. She could see a subtle grimace
underneath the clear plastic ventilator
mask. He opened his eyes for a second,
rolled them wildly, and took two deep
breaths. His eyelids fluttered shut again,
and he began unconsciously gasping for air.
The third paramedic immediately joined them
and grabbed his ankles.
“One, two, three.”
They efficiently lifted him onto the gurney,
strapped him down, and loaded him into the
ambulance. Two medics climbed in with the
gurney. The driver took his place at the
front before Scully realized he had moved.
The doors banged shut. Scully did not even
have time to demand to ride with Mulder
before the ambulance left her standing in a
cloud of dust and confusion.
Scully swallowed a mouthful of water,
downing a large tablet in the process. She
threw the empty plastic cup into a recycling
bin and immediately headed for the door. It
had taken her over an hour to dispose of her
contaminated Hazmat suit, get her
prophylactic dose of Ciprofloxacin, give her
official statement as a witness, and
convince the on-site medical director to
allow her to visit Mulder at the hospital.
A National Guard staff sergeant drove her to
the University Hospital in a Humvee. Any
other day, she would have been amused by the
way the traffic parted like the Red Sea.
However, the lack of information regarding
Mulder’s condition dominated her thoughts.
Five minutes and 26 possible diagnoses
later, she was at the Emergency Room door.
Scully approached the receptionist’s desk,
noting that the ER did not seem to be
“I need to know the location of a patient.”
She briefly displayed her badge. “Fox
Mulder. He was brought in about an hour ago.
A containment case.”
The receptionist rattled the keys on her
computer and nodded.
“Mr. Mulder is in Level Three Isolation…”
“I need to get to him,” Scully stated. She
was not emotional. It was just a fact.
“Someone already called ahead for you.”
The receptionist leaned down and reached
into her desk. She produced a security
pass, security mask, and neoprene gloves.
She handed them to Scully, her features
conveying a touch of fear.
Scully thanked the receptionist, clipping
the pass onto her jacket and turning off her
cell phone while reading the hall signs.
Scully immediately found the Isolation
listing and hurried down the hall, her high
heels striking a war beat on the linoleum
floor. She maneuvered among three dozen
visitors, patients, and slow-moving students
before she found the “Isolation Ward” sign.
She pulled the gloves on and slung the mask
strings around her head. Her heart pounded
with anticipation as she made her way to the
isolation rooms. National Guardsmen stood
on either side of an entrance marked
“Restricted” and bustling with nurses and
“Bingo,” Scully whispered.
One of the guards approached her
immediately, checked her pass and badge, and
instructed her to gear up with the rest of
the required protective wear inside the
anteroom. She pushed the large gray swivel
door open and grabbed a face shield, Tyvek
apron, and a pair of shoe covers, knowing
that precautionary procedures were being
followed. After donning all of the required
PPEs, Scully peered through the small
windows into Mulder’s room.
The staff was still setting up Mulder’s
room. Scully used every bit of self-
restraint she had to avoid rushing in there.
She did not want to be in the way, so she
stood outside and watched like a hawk,
seeing only the backs of several sets of
scrubs through a small anteroom.
After about ten minutes, the staff dispersed
to other tasks, discarding their
contaminated gear in the anteroom’s large
biological hazard bins, and Scully wasted no
time in taking her place beside Mulder. The
negative-pressure room sucked at her hair
when she opened the door and hurried to his
side. She studied him quietly, processing
the scant clues that lay before her
regarding his illness. He was still under
the influence of an anesthetic, unaware of
the ventilator inflating his congested
Scully looked at his chart with trepidation.
He was listed in guarded condition with an
aggressive unidentified respiratory tract
infection, slight dehydration, and a mild
concussion. She winced in sympathy. He was
going to be in for a painful awakening.
Scully hung the chart back on its hook and
went to stand beside Mulder. She wanted to
hold him, but she was almost afraid to touch
him, even with her protective gear. He
looked pale and sunken. The beds of his
nails carried a cyan tinge, and he was
strapped to the bed to prevent him from
removing the vent. Scully felt a sadly
familiar emptiness inside, wondering how
many more times she would stand by his
bedside anxiously awaiting a prognosis from
yet another ER doctor before she heard the
one she most feared.
Her hand hovered over his cheek, but she did
not touch him. Her eyes welled up, but the
tears did not fall. Scully gazed at his
twitching eyelids and listened to his forced
breaths until muffled footsteps alerted her
to the presence of another person in the
room. She turned to see a physician making
his way toward the foot of the bed. He
began furiously scribbling on Mulder’s chart
before he acknowledged her.
“Sorry for the rush, but I’m sure you
understand. I’m Jack Lange,” he introduced
himself, dispensing of the “Doctor” title.
A nod was offered in place of a handshake.
“We are double- and triple-checking our
preliminary findings, but everything we’ve
seen so far is pointing Yersinia pestis.”
He scrawled a signature on the chart and set
it down, meeting Scully’s stunned gaze. She
had to concentrate to follow the doctor’s
words. One word was drowning out everything
else in her mind. Plague.
“Are you absolutely sure?” Scully asked in
“Well, it will take approximately 72 hours
to receive a confirmation. We’ve notified
the State Department of Health, and sputum
samples are already on their way to the CDC
and USAMRIID. Of course, we couldn’t wait
that long to begin treatment. I’ve
consulted with many colleagues on this most
unusual case. The presentation of
hemoptysis and cyanosis were our first
clues, in correlation with the presence of
Gram-negative, bipolar staining bacilli in
his bronchial smears. Adding to that the
results of his chest films,” Lange said as
he pulled an x-ray film from the chart, “we
are convinced that we’re dealing with
He slid the film into a view panel and
turned on the backlight. Scully was
astounded at what she saw. The area
spanning the ribs, which should have only
hinted at the edges of soft organs, was
dominated by two large white masses with
diffuse borders. They filled the bottom
two-thirds of Mulder’s lungs, showing the
exact positions of the beset lobar organs.
“According to various statements, including
yours, he seemed to be in perfectly good
health yesterday. This sort of fulminant
consolidation of the lungs is highly
indicative of a pneumonic plague infection.
Of course, this diagnosis has very serious
implications. We are administering
streptomycin right now and working on
cultures for further tests.”
“The good news is that Mister Mulder’s
temperature has stabilized, and his
concussion seems to be minor. As for the bad
news… Frankly, right now, it’s a battle
to keep him from drowning. He’s producing
pulmonary drainage as fast as we can clear
it. His kidneys are also cause for concern.
He was already a bit dehydrated, which is
not an uncommon early symptom of pneumonic
plague. With the nephrotoxic propensity of
the antibiotics, he’s in quite a
predicament. The effectiveness of his
treatment should be apparent in the next 24
The doctor cast a worried glance at his
patient before looking back at Scully.
“We’re already in contact with the CDC and
WHO, comparing his symptoms and lab values
with known manifestations of natural and
manipulated strains. So far, no one else
from the project site has been reported to
have symptoms. It’s very puzzling.”
“To say the least…” Scully noted while
trying to cope with the frightening turns
her day had taken. “Thank you. Please let
me know as soon as any further details are
known,” Scully said. “I believe you already
have my cell number…”
“Yes. If you’ll excuse me, I have more work
Scully watched as Lange exited the room.
She did not envy him. He was young,
probably relatively inexperienced, and he
had suddenly been thrust into the middle of
a situation that could have global
implications. Scully felt reassured that he
was competent, though. It was a small
comfort, but she would take what she could
get. Scully studied Mulder’s slack features
for a few more precious seconds before
heading to the anteroom to discard her
protective gear. She had some phone calls
The shouts of the reporters storming the
Capitol Building steps could be heard for
blocks. “Excuse me, Mr. Michelin. We’d like
to ask a few questions.” Several reporters
shoved microphones in his face as he
descended the steps. The cacophony of
voices blended together to one as each
person shouted out various questions.
“No comment,” Michelin stated, as he pushed
his way through the mob of reporters around
“Sir, the public needs answers. They are
very concerned by this latest news regarding
what was supposed to be a terrorism drill.
Is that all it was?”
“Mr. Michelin, can you tell us about the
rumors of a toxin that was found at the
drill site? How it will affect those who
were participating in the exercise? What
about long-term effects to those people in
the surrounding area?”
“I said *no* comment!” The mob was
disappointed and dissipated as soon as
Michelin’s car pulled away from the curb.
The drive to his gated estate was relatively
peaceful. He made it in just a few short
minutes; however, his peace was short-lived
when he found television crews from CNN,
FOX, NBC and CBS standing at his gate. The
gates swung open and his car pulled into the
long drive and pulled up in front of the
house. Entering the foyer, he dropped his
briefcase and keys down on the table and
yanked at the tie around his neck. Deciding
a much needed drink was in order, he poured
himself a glass of scotch on the rocks, a
habit he had picked up from his new
The phone began its shrill, incessant ring,
and, growing tired of the sound, Michelin
picked it up. “Hello,” he snapped,
“Mr. Michelin, this is Anita Drabee, a
reporter from CNN. We’d like to ask you
some questions. Can you tell us if…”
“Go the hell away and leave me alone!” He
slammed the phone back down into its cradle
and threw back a long swig of the scotch,
draining his glass. Michelin was concerned
with how quickly rumors of the toxin had
spread so quickly. He knew this was only the
beginning, and hoped he could withstand the
pressure of the upcoming insight committee
talks at the Capitol Building.
The doctor had left hours ago. The soft hum
of monitors could be heard through the
darkened room. Scully sat in the bedside
chair and held Mulder’s limp hand in her
own, absently stroking his knuckles.
Resting her head back against the soft vinyl
leather of the chair, she could feel her
anger rising with each whoosh of the
ventilator that allowed Mulder to cling
fiercely to life. Scully gradually became
oblivious to the coming and going of the
respiratory therapists and nurses caring for
Mulder. After being on a high adrenaline
rush most of the day, the sleep that had
eluded Scully the night before finally
She awoke at around 7:00 the next morning to
the sound of the food carts being rolled
down the hall. She stood, stretching the
stiffness from her body and looked down at
her still unconscious partner. Remembering
her revelation from the night before, she
decided that a visit to Rousch
Pharmaceuticals was in order. Scully knew
that Michelin would have either direct or
indirect access to highly restricted
microbial organisms, and she wanted to know
if anything suspicious had occurred at
Rousch recently. Immediately, a sense of
dread poured over her, and she decided to
confront Michelin. She stared down at
Mulder again and knew she needed to call for
Lifting the room’s phone handset, she
punched in the number and the call was
answered promptly on the second ring. Her
gloved hand crackled across the connection.
“It’s me, Frohike. Turn off the tape
After a moment of rustling, a voice rang
out. “What can we do for you, Scully?”
She proceeded to explain the recent goings
on with Mulder to Frohike. “I need you guys
to fly out to Indiana and sit with Mulder.
I realize that this request is a bit
unusual, but I don’t want him to be left
alone for a moment. I have some digging to
do. Can you all get out here for a few
days? It shouldn’t take me long.”
“Sure, we’ll call you with all the flight
details, try to hop the next flight out, and
meet you at the airport. And, Scully, don’t
worry. Mulder’s a fighter. He’ll make it
through this.” Frohike’s voice pause for an
uncomfortable few seconds. “He knows you
love him too much to give up on him.”
“Thanks, Frohike, I…yeah. I’ll see you
soon.” Scully replaced the receiver in the
cradle and turned back to Mulder,
whispering, “I promise, I’m going to find
out what caused this and find a way to get
you well. I have to.” The silent tears,
which she had held in check last night,
pooled in the bottom of her lids before
splashing down on her cheeks like a
waterfall. Grasping his fingers, she laid
her hooded head against his hand and fell
asleep again, knowing how crucial the need
for rest was right now. She needed to be
able to concentrate fully. Scully had a
determined purpose ahead.
The phone woke Scully a couple of hours
later, and, as promised, Frohike called with
their flight itinerary. They were due to
arrive at 6 PM and would stay with Mulder as
long as Scully needed them there.
Unable to go back to sleep, she aimlessly
paced about Mulder’s hospital room for the
next 20 minutes. Dr. Lange entered the room
and was surprised to find that Scully had
spent the night in the chair by her
“How’s he doing this morning?” He asked
Scully rhetorically as he placed the
stethoscope against Mulder’s chest,
listening for any wheezes and crackles in
“He seems to be doing a little better. The
nurses here are excellent and have cared for
him wonderfully.” She sighed and stared out
the window as Dr. Lange continued his
examination. He raised his eyebrows as he
straightened up and faced her.
“Well, the congestion does not seem to have
spread. Immunohistochemistry gave me the
results of his blood smears this morning.
They do indicate the presence of bacterial
toxin in his blood, although the level of
toxemia is not as pronounced as one might
expect, given the aggressiveness of this
strain. Hopefully, this pathogen won’t
throw us any more surprises.”
Scully nodded in somber agreement.
“Dr. Lange, I have some errands to run later
tonight, in case you would stop by to check
on my partner again. However, I have
some…colleagues who are coming to sit with
him. I have reason to believe this
infection might have been a deliberate act
against my partner. I have to check out all
of the possibilities.”
Scully smoothed down a small stubborn strand
of hair across Mulder’s forehead which
refused to lie against his forehead. In
spite of her request concerning Mulder’s
progress to Dr. Lange, it was as if she and
Mulder were the only two people in the room.
“I’ll make sure that Mister Mulder’s
visitors are directed through the process of
getting the proper security passes,” Lange
replied. “I would be happy to do that. For
the record, I’m very sorry about what has
happened to your partner. We are going to
do everything we can to help him. You just
hang in there. He needs you.”
Scully stared at Dr. Lange in surprise, and
a tiny grin escaped from his lips.
“Yes, Agent Scully. It’s very obvious how
much you care about your partner. I hope
you find out who did this, for his sake and
everyone’s.” After an awkward moment of
silence between them, he spoke again. “Now,
if you will excuse me, I have some more
patients to see this afternoon. I hope I’ll
see you again soon.” With that, the door
shut behind him and she was alone again.
A few hours later, her stomach started
growling and, she realized that she had not
eaten since yesterday morning. She looked
sadly down at Mulder. “I can’t leave this
room. There’s no one to sit with you.” She
was starting to feel irrationally guilty for
being so famished. Almost immediately, the
door opened and there stood Frohike, Langley
and Byers, all dressed in protective
equipment. Scully had to fight to suppress
laughter at Frohike’s rumpled, oversized
“The cavalry has arrived.” They each took a
spot around the bed to check out Mulder’s
injuries for themselves.
“How’s he doing?” Byers inquired. “Or maybe
the question I should be asking is how are
*you* doing? You look like you haven’t
slept in days, Dana. When was the last time
you had anything to eat?”
“I’m fine…I just need…I need to go do
some digging now. There is still time to
get where I need to go before it closes for
“Anything we can help with, Scully? Langley
here brought the old laptop to keep himself
busy with Dungeons and Dragons.” Frohike
flexed his fingers and rolled his eyes at
“Right now, no, but if I come up with
anything on this little visit I’m about to
make, you guys will be the first people I
call.” She gathered her purse and kissed
Mulder through her mask on the forehead.
“I’ll be back soon. I promise. I love
She nodded at the Gunmen and stepped into
the small prep room to shed her extra
protective layer of clothing. When she was
finished, she walked just around the corner,
leaned back against the wall, and sighed.
Scully regained her composure and took long
purposeful strides toward the front entrance
of the hospital. She was a woman on a
mission, and for Mulder’s sake, she had no
choice but to pursue it.
Federal Building Plaza
The warm breeze drifted through the open
windows of the stale office. Sifting
through the piles of paperwork concerning
the recent “incident” that littered his
desk, Michelin sighed in disgust as he heard
a knock at the door.
“This had better be good,” he mumbled under
his breath. He opened the door and turned
away before noticing who stood before him.
“If you are a reporter, you can just go
away. I have nothing to say to you people.”
“No, I’m definitely not a reporter, but you
might be even less thrilled to see me,”
Scully said in a calm rage. Michelin froze
at the sound of her voice. “What’s the
matter, Michelin? Afraid to turn around and
face me? Have you done something you
“Ah, what a pleasure to see you again,
*Agent* Scully.” He walked back to his
desk, sat in his chair, and turned to face
her, his eyes straight ahead. His emphasis
on her title did not go unnoticed and even
proved to further infuriate her. “So to
what do I owe this visit?” he asked with a
“Come on, Michelin, don’t play the idiot
with me. As a liaison officer of Rousch
Pharmaceuticals, I know you are most
certainly aware of what occurred yesterday,
and as a result, Agent Mulder is currently
in the hospital. I want some damn answers,
and I want them *now*!” Scully said, first
pounding her fist on Michelin’s desk for
emphasis and then scattering his papers onto
the floor with a sweep of her hand. Her
face grew red as she continued to breathe
heavily across his desk.
The door to Michelin’s office opened and his
secretary stood in the doorway, obviously
frightened by the outburst. “Sir, do I need
to call security?”
Michelin answered her without looking in her
direction, never taking his eyes from
Scully’s. “No, Marlene. That won’t be
necessary. Agent Scully is just looking in
the wrong place for some information. I’ve
got everything under control. You can go
back to work.”
As soon as the door closed, Michelin arose
from his chair and walked around to the
front of his desk, standing in front of
“Agent Scully, if I have happen across any
answers to yesterday’s dreadful occurrence,
I promise, you will be notified. I’m truly
sorry to hear about Mulder. He was a good
man. I trust you can show yourself out?”
With a wave of his hand, he dismissed her
and again walked behind his desk and began
signing papers. Speechless and shocked at
Michelin’s blatant brush-off, Scully traced
her previous steps back to the door and
seethed all the way to the parking lot,
where her rental car waited for her.
Suddenly, she remembered Michelin’s last
words. He had used past tense when
referring to Mulder. He obviously thought
Mulder was already dead. She pondered for a
short while what he could have possibly
meant by that comment before pulling out
onto the highway and heading toward the
hospital. However, no matter what he had
meant, Scully was absolutely certain that
Michelin had a hand in Mulder’s illness.
She also knew that, if anything happened to
Mulder, she would see Michelin pay.
Rousch Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Krycek paused and listened to the wind
whistling through the parking garage. His
narrowed gaze swept over the vast sea of
automobiles and onto the exit door. He
quickly crouched to the ground as he heard
voices approaching. He watched two shadows
as they continued to walk in the direction
of their vehicles, both oblivious of his
presence. Of course, it was the best
possible time to see what Michelin was up to
and to get the antidote…no one but the
inept night guard was around. It couldn’t
be easier he mused. Krycek had made quick
work of the guard at the main door.
Easing the door open and stepping through,
Krycek noticed a shaded light streaming from
the office at the end of the hall. Must be
the slime-ball working late, he thought to
himself. Krycek crouched down and peered
through the glass panels as he watched
Michelin furiously typing away at his
computer and slamming his fingers down on
the keys in apparent anger. After ten more
minutes of that treatment, Michelin stood,
ripped his suit jacket from the chair, and
shoved his arms into the sleeves before
walking toward the door. Krycek scurried
around the corner, watching as Michelin
closed his office door and entered the
Once the elevator doors were safely closed,
Krycek waited another five minutes to make
sure Michelin was really gone. He stepped
in front of Michelin’s office door, poised
to pick the lock, and twisted the handle
only to find the door unlocked. Krycek
walked around the corner of the desk and
pulled a blind slat up, watching Michelin
exit the parking garage in his automobile.
After a fruitless search through the entire
office, Krycek sat in the chair and sighed
in disgust. Rubbing his hands over his
face, he noticed a gleam beneath the front
side of the desk. He moved hand under the
shiny object. The tape ripped easily as he
fingered the key with a slight smile.
Krycek was staring thoughtfully at the key
in his hand, wondering what lock it belonged
to, when he noticed the safe in corner of
the room. “Well, let’s see here, Griffie.
What have you been hiding from the
unsuspecting public?” He turned the fit key
in the slot, opening the safe door to reveal
a stack of folded papers. Krycek unfolded
them and began trying to decipher the
One of the pages contained a list of
virulence factors in one column, and
addition/deletion indictors next to each.
Another paper contained cost projections for
mass-production of an experimental vaccine.
As he shuffled through the small stack, the
next page gave Krycek pause. It contained
specifications of a genetically-engineered
strain of Y. pestis. The data table was
followed by a note indicating something
about induced suppression of lipofusion
Even though he was not a scientist, after a
few short minutes, Krycek’s mind reeled at
the possibilities of the scope of this
project. Krycek felt sick at the
implication that Mulder’s illness had been a
product of greed. He wasn’t one to begrudge
anyone a creatively-gained profit, but
Michelin had picked the wrong test subject.
He again flipped through paper after paper
explaining in detail the exact formula
needed for this engineered biotoxin to be
unleashed and the only antidote which would
cure it. The location of the specimens was
listed on the last page. Krycek wiped his
prints from the safe door locked it. He also
wiped his prints from the bottom of the
Looking around the room to make sure no
stone had been left unturned, he pocketed
the papers, and walked down the hallway to
the other end. Just as the they had
revealed, there was a large steel door with
a number pad. Krycek shuffled through the
pages until he came to the one with the
correct code to the room. He took a latex
glove from his leather jacket pocket and put
it on his hand. He punched in the code, and
all of the indicators lit up green. A small
click could be heard, signaling that the
secure room had been unlatched.
Not bothering to suit up, Krycek felt the
coldness of the refrigerated room seep
through him as he went from one box to the
next, until he came upon one in the back of
the room labeled “7734”. He unlatched the
lid and inside, a glass tube with clear
liquid lay on a bed of velvet cloth. He
smiled as he pictured Michelin’s face when
he realized the antidote and the papers were
gone. Krycek closed the box again, picked
it up, and made his way out of the
refrigerated room…only to find himself
face to face with Michelin.
Scully awoke to a rushing sound. After a
few seconds, she figured out that it was not
just her ears ringing. It was the
respiratory therapist’s suction tube
clearing the excretions from Mulder’s lungs.
She groaned and sat up. Her arms were numb
from leaning on the bedrail.
Scully blinked slowly, watching the pink
liquid snake its way into the small
collection tank. Mulder was so pale, he
looked as if his skin had never seen the
sun. Dark circles shadowed his eyes, and
tiny flecks of blood dotted his upper lip
and nostrils. She looked down at Mulder’s
hand. His fingertips still carried a bluish
tinge. Certainly not a promising sign, she
thought. A nurse entered the room, taking
Mulder’s vitals and drawing a blood sample
while the RT packed up his equipment.
“Excuse me. What is the latest on his
condition?” Scully inquired of the nurse.
“The levels of LPS in his blood have
steadily increased in the last few hours,
and his fever has risen to 102.8, as the
antibiotics have started to work. We are
“Thank you,” Scully said quietly. She knew
that Mulder was going the wrong direction.
The very drugs that were killing the
bacteria in his lungs were also causing them
to release even more of their toxic cell
wall components into his system. If he
didn’t start filtering the deadly
lipopolysaccharide out of his blood soon, he
would go into septic shock.
Scully felt herself go numb. It was a very
real possibility that she was not ready to
handle. As she watched, Mulder’s eyelids
fluttered briefly and his lips tightened
around the vent. The actions were barely
discernible, however. Scully had seen his
face twitch or his fingers bend slightly
from time to time, but so far, he was
She did not like sitting idly by, watching
Mulder’s now ghostly form waste away. There
had to be something could do to help him.
She remembered a series of articles in one
of the journals she had reviewed in
preparation for the terrorism drill. It
dealt with emerging vaccines and treatments
for potential bioweapons. Perhaps one of
those articles might provide some feasible
solutions, not only for Mulder, but for
everyone involved. Scully felt a surge of
energy at the thought.
She squeezed his hand and ran her gloved
fingers through his hair.
“I’ll be right back, Mulder. I promise.”
Scully stood and hurried to the anteroom,
shedding her protective gear in record time.
She was fairly well-practiced by now. She
went first to the lobby, where she knew that
the Gunmen were waiting. Langley was the
only one she found, though. He was running
his laptop’s defragmenter program when
Scully approached him.
“What happened to the rest of the crew,
“Oh, they’re out trying to track down some
food.” He closed the laptop and looked up
at her with a very serious expression.
Scully took a deep breath.
“He’s…still hanging in there. Look, I
left something at the hotel that I think
might be worthwhile to review. It shouldn’t
take long. Do you mind holding down the
“Thank you. I’ll be back shortly.”
Langley smiled at her briefly. Scully could
not reciprocate. Instead, she patted him on
the shoulder as she walked by and headed
toward the parking garage.
“Going somewhere with that?” Michelin’s
glance at the locked antidote box did not go
unnoticed by Krycek. A loaded gun was
pointed at Krycek’s face with the hammer
“Why don’t you just put that down on the
ground, walk out of here calmly, and we’ll
act like nothing ever happened.” Michelin
Placing the box on the ground away from his
feet, Krycek slowly straightened up and
surprised Michelin by throwing a blow to his
midsection. The gun was knocked away in the
skirmish as they wrestled with each other.
Krycek was knocked off balance, but managed
to recover and grab the gun just inches away
from Michelin’s hand. Standing on his feet,
Krycek kept the gun trained on Michelin as
he retrieved the antidote box. He began
backing out of the room slowly, but Michelin
bolted toward him. A loud vibrating bang
shook the hall as Krycek pulled the trigger,
hitting Michelin square between the eyes.
Michelin’s body slumped over and fell to the
floor, writhing for only a few seconds
before going limp.
Krycek checked Michelin’s pulse, assuring
himself that the man was dead. He pulled
Michelin’s heavy limbs up over his shoulder
and exited toward the parking garage
stairway. He dragged his victim to a van
that he’d planted the day before. Krycek
hefted Michelin’s body into the back of the
vehicle and went back into the building. He
found some bleach in the custodian’s closet
and cleaned up all evidence of the shooting,
taking care not to miss anything. Picking
up the antidote lock box, he walked toward
the van and drove out of the parking garage,
contemplating what his next actions would
Krycek pulled the van off of the small
county at an unmarked intersection, checking
for onlookers before he followed a dirt path
into a small wood. Gravel crunched under the
tires as the van slowed to a stop, right in
front of a small lake. An empty car was
waiting there for him. Krycek got out of
the van and placed the antidote inside the
car. He then pulled a tank of acetone from
the side panel door. Krycek had been
pleased when he had thought of acetone in
place of gasoline. It would dissolve in the
water, should the van ever be found, though
he didn’t think that was likely.
Krycek set about his task and poured the
acetone in and on the van. He lit a match
and tossed it inside the vehicle. He
immediately ran for cover behind some heavy
brush as high, hot flames erupted within
After sitting for over an hour, Krycek grew
tired of waiting. He was becoming fidgety
when he observed an explosion. The flames
had finally found the gasoline tank. The
fire flared then slowly burned out.
Donning a pair of heat-insulated gloves, he
reached into the van, placed it in neutral
gear, and braced against the gravel. When
it had gained enough momentum, he backed
away. The van rolled easily down the steep
bank and into deep. Air bubbled up for
several minutes. When they eventually
stopped, Krycek’s thoughts turned to
repairing the damage Michelin had caused.
Holiday Inn Express
Krycek left Scully’s room just in time,
slinking around the corner of the entrance,
awaiting her arrival. He smirked as he
heard her mumbling about Michelin and how
sorry he would be if she had anything to do
Scully slung her keys against the wall of
her motel room in disgust. She had been
contemplating her conversation with Michelin
on the way to the hotel. The more she
thought about it, the more suspicious his
aggressive avoidance tactics seemed.
“The gall of that man, brushing me off like
that! Well, I am damned well going to get
some answers, even if I have to bang heads
all the way up to the president of the
Rousch.” She shut the door and paced angrily
around the room, mulling over her next
course of action. The shrill ring of the
phone interrupted her.
After Krycek was sure she was going to stay
in the room, he slinked his way to the
partially curtained window and stared at her
every movement. Her voice was muffled but
“Hello?” she huffed.
“Hi, Frohike. Sorry about that. Yeah, I’m
Krycek watched as she picked up a folder
from the dresser.
“So, what’s the latest?” Scully inquired in
a hushed tone. She kept her eyes cast
“Yes. I was afraid of that…”
“They told me his fever was holding steady.
Hematuria? Well, that means his kidneys are
being damaged…” Her voice cracked before
she could finish.
“Yes. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
Should he happen to wake up, I want to be
the first person he sees. Thanks, Frohike.”
The last two words were shaky. Scully hung
up the phone and stood completely still for
a minute. Krycek felt his heart pound at
witnessing this rare moment of her
vulnerability. He began to sweat, feeling
uncomfortable and incredibly lucky at the
Scully sat on the bed slowly, her absent
gaze focused on nothing. She looked down
toward her shoes, her red-rimmed eyes
pooling deep. An unusual shape caught her
attention from the edge of her field of
vision. A long, slender black object
protruded from underneath her pillow.
Intrigued, she leaned over to pick it up,
noticing a bright yellow sticker that said
“7734 ANTIDOTE” on the front. She went to
her briefcase, pulled out a pair of latex
gloves, and snapped them on.
Uncertain as to the contents of the
container, Scully lifted it carefully onto
the desk. She spotted an envelope taped to
the lid. She suddenly felt uneasy, knowing
that someone had broken into her room.
Abandoning the box, she moved to the window
and pulled the curtains back, staring out
into the fading evening sunlight. Krycek
ducked down as far as he could behind the
bushes in front of the window so she would
not see him.
Shaking her head, Scully turned back toward
the box and opened the envelope, which
contained a key to the box in front of her.
Slowly, she turned the lock and found a
typed note lying on top of a clear liquid-
filled vial which said, “For Mulder.” She
dropped the paper in surprise and picked up
the syringe, staring at it in amazement.
She only hoped she wasn’t too late. She
scrambled out the door, unknowingly striding
past Krycek on her way to her rental car.
He stayed hidden until her car was out of
site. After witnessing the effects of
Mulder’s illness on Scully, Krycek was
tempted to risk his own cover to dig further
into Michelin’s records. However, he could
not afford to. Krycek stood motionless in
the falling darkness. He knew that he had
done all he could for the time being. The
rest was now up to Mulder.
Rousch Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Hans Gregor shook his head in disbelief.
Michelin was more conniving than he had
given him credit for. Gregor surveyed the
neat, organized, and notably empty room. It
was suspicious when Michelin did not show up
for his nightly meeting, but now the
evidence of Michelin’s backstabbing was
right in front of him. The deserter. He
was probably in Mexico by now.
Gregor allowed himself a few minutes for
self-pity. He had been a fool to trust
Michelin, he thought. An absolute moron.
Stacks of unfinished government and media
inquiries sat atop the absent man’s desk.
Gregor had first checked on the engineered
antidote for his own peace of mind, finding
only an empty slot where the product of
years of hard work and investment had been
sitting only hours earlier.
He heard that an FBI agent had visited
Michelin earlier. Whatever she said must
have been sufficient to scare him strait
into hiding, Gregor mused, sitting in
Michelin’s vacant chair. He sighed,
reminding himself that all was not lost.
There was more of the antidote at the Kansas
City lab. The project was not
destroyed…it was merely delayed.
It was an extremely costly delay, however.
Gregor picked up Michelin’s desk phone and
punched in the number for the State Police.
The sooner he reported the theft of valuable
research material, the sooner he could
transfer all of the blame to good old
Scully rushed into Mulder’s room
breathlessly, her Tyvek apron rustling over
her clothes. The Gunmen were sitting in
three chairs on the far side of the bed, all
propped up against the wall and fast asleep.
Scully shook Byers’ shoulder with a gloved
hand. His startled jump awakened his
“Hey, guys. I have some good news! I’ve
found what appears to be the antidote for
Mulder’s infection. They’re running tests
on it right now, to ensure safety, but it
appears to be legitimate. The hospital has
been given permission to administer it.”
“Good deal,” Frohike said, his eyebrows
“The cure for the common plague,” Langley
“Excellent news.” Byers smiled up at her.
“But where exactly did it come from?”
“That’s the big mystery. Someone broke into
my hotel room and left it there.” Scully
looked over at Mulder and back to Byers. “I
brought back the article I told you about.
It lists all of the labs currently doing
research on Class A microbes. One of the
labs, Rousch, was a participant in the
“Interesting,” Byers stated. “The doctor
came in here and told us that the strain in
Mulder’s system matched a previously known
form in the WHO database. It was one of the
weaponized strains created by the USSR
during the Cold War. They concluded that a
very sophisticated lab has altered it,
though, made it more aggressive.”
“Well, if that antidote works, then they
also added an Achilles heel.” Scully chewed
on her lower lip, deep in thought.
The anteroom doors swung open, admitting Dr.
Lange. He held a capped syringe. Scully
walked over to Mulder, reflexively taking
his hand in her own. She immediately felt
his fevered heat through her gloves, and she
noticed that his urine collection bag held
conspicuously pink fluid.
“We’re going to give it a try.” Lange
stated. “The solution appears to be
designed to inhibit bacterial outer membrane
fusion with phagocytic endosomes, thus
rendering the bacteria vulnerable to
digestion. If this works, we should
probably see a marked improvement in the
next few hours.”
Scully nodded, noting that Lange had left
the alternative unsaid. But the injection
had to work. It was the last option.
Scully watched with anticipations as he
uncapped the syringe and sank the needle
into Mulder’s IV port. She whispered a
quick prayer as the thick liquid traveled
through the tubing into Mulder’s arm.
Scully continued her vigil late into the
night, through yet another shift of nurses
and technicians. She even took her turn
trying to beat Frohike’s top score on
Langley’s game. She failed miserably, but
it kept her awake, at least. She was busy
telling the Gunmen about some of the
peculiar domestic quirks of Mulder’s that
she had only discovered recently, when she
felt his hand jerk beneath hers.
That got her attention, and she turned to
see his eyes fluttering open. This time,
rather than becoming still again, he slowly
rocked his head back and forth. He was
trying to get away from the ventilator. His
fingers continued to twitch as he fought for
consciousness. Scully noted that his skin
was beading with sweat and felt cooler than
it had only a couple of hours ago. She also
glanced at his urine collection bag. The
fluid appeared a normal color, no longer
exhibiting the pink tinge of blood. Mulder’s
hand twitched again.
“Guys, I think he’s trying to come around.”
The Gunmen approached while she pushed the
call button. Mulder rolled his head from
side to side and began to pull at his
restraints. He tried to say something, but
it only came out as a clicking sound around
“Shhh,” Scully tried to calm him, stroking
the side of his face with her fingertips
through the glove. “Try to relax, Mulder.
Save your strength.”
The Gunmen looked at each other in turn,
amazed at the effect her voice had on
Mulder. His struggles lessened gradually
until he lay still, his expression pinched
into a frown. He tried to cough, but he was
hampered by the vent. The gurgling in his
lungs was audible. Scully squeezed his hand
as a sign of encouragement, and Mulder
attempted to pry his eyes open again. Soon,
his gaze swept the room until he found
Scully. She saw fear there, but not panic.
His expression relaxed when she smiled at
“Welcome back, Mulder,” Frohike offered with
Mulder turned his attention toward Frohike’s
voice, and his eyebrows furrowed. Scully
had to suppress a giggle at Mulder’s
confounded reaction to the Gunmen’s
presence. A nurse entered the room then,
covered head to foot with protective wear,
and gasped with pleasant surprise upon
seeing that her patient conscious.
“When did he wake up?” she asked as she
began taking Mulder’s vitals.
“Sleeping Beauty rejoined us just a minute
ago,” Frohike replied, a gleam in his eye.
Langley elbowed him, and Frohike grunted,
shooting him dirty look in retribution.
“Behave, you two,” Scully warned in a
The nurse removed an aural thermometer from
Mulder’s ear and read the display.
“He’s down to 101 already. Remarkable.”
She paged the doctor on the room phone and
took Mulder’s blood pressure. Lange entered
the room before she was finished. The
Gunmen backed up, making room for the
“His BP is normal, Doctor Lange.
Temperature is finally decreasing.”
“Thank you. I’ll take it from here.” The
nurse entered her findings on Mulder’s chart
and left the room. Lange smiled upon
discovering that Mulder was watching him, a
hint of suspicion in his eyes. “Just relax,
Mr. Mulder. I’m going to listen to your
He adjusted the earpieces of the room’s
dedicated stethescope and slide the tympanic
piece under the wide neck of his patient’s
hospital gown. Mulder flinched upon contact
of the cold surface with his fevered skin.
Everyone waited quietly while Lange listened
to various points of Mulder’s chest. After
a few moments, he straightened up and
removed the earpieces from his ears,
directing his attention toward Scully.
“Well, it sounds like the congestion in his
lungs may have diminished slightly. It
certainly doesn’t sound any worse. Our
mystery cure seems to be working, although
it won’t remain a mystery for long. We are
working on a detailed analysis right now.”
He addressed the rest of his words to
“You have respiratory therapy scheduled in
just a few minutes, so I’ll be back
afterwards and see how you feel then.
Mulder nodded, indicating that he
understood. Lange gave him one last
reserved but triumphant grin and left the
room. As soon as the door shut behind him,
Mulder began to stare at Scully, patting his
right hand against the mattress. She looked
at him, puzzled at his behavior. Mulder
moaned and guided her gaze down to his hand,
which was now making a side-to-side
“John, would you hand me that notepad and
pen off of the table? I think he wants to
Mulder nodded. Byers retrieved the
materials and handed them to Scully. She
placed the notepad under Mulder’s hand and
carefully positioned the pen in his grip,
wrapping her hands around his to help him
hold the implement. He began to write
slowly. Scully could feel his hand tremble
with the effort. Finally, he stopped, and
she lifted the notepad. The shaky lines
scrawled on the paper were nearly
indecipherable, but once Scully recognized
the “M” at the beginning, she saw the rest
of the word.
“Michelin?” She looked at Mulder
He nodded, a deadly somber look on his face.
Scully immediately grabbed the room phone
and dialed an outside line. After it rang
through, she gave her name and badge number
and asked to speak to the supervising agent
of the FBI task force assigned to
investigate the events surrounding Mulder’s
“Sir? Yes. This is Agent Dana Scully. I’m
with Agent Mulder. He’s awake now, and he
has identified a party involved in infecting
him with the organism. Griffith Michelin.
Scully’s left eyebrow ascended her forehead
as she awaited another chance to speak. The
long pause made the Gunmen curious, and they
all leaned forward in hopes of listening in
on the conversation.
“I see. Yes, I understand. I will let you
as soon as any more information becomes
available. Thank you, Sir. Goodbye.”
Scully hung up the phone with a frown on her
face. She glanced down at Mulder and turned
to the Gunmen.
“Michelin was reported missing by his
supervisor at Rousch earlier today. He did
not show up for a meeting. There is no one
at his listed residence, and they said some
items were stolen from his office.”
“Are they suspecting foul play?” Byers
“It doesn’t sound like it, although they are
checking every possibility. Apparently,
various data sheets and reports concerning
the company’s work on a new plague vaccine
were among the items taken. The only
fingerprints they found were Michelin’s.
“Think he’s trying to leave the country?”
Langley asked with disgust.
“That would be my guess. That vaccine could
be a very valuable haggling tool for him
overseas. I wouldn’t put it past him.”
“This sort of thing could create a panic…”
Byers stated absently. “I understand why
they put us under a gag order, but this all
seems too convenient to me.” He lifted
Mulder’s chart from the foot of his bed and
flipped through the pages. “Well, what’s
important is that they find Michelin. He
could still have possession of a Class A
bioweapon, for all anyone knows.”
Scully sighed, feeling overwhelmed by the
compounding circumstances. She noticed that
Mulder’s eyes had drifted shut once again.
The respiratory therapist pushed his suction
equipment through the anteroom door, so
Scully gave Mulder’s hand one last squeeze
before releasing it. She got up and headed
toward the lobby to give the technician more
room, three vinyl-clad Lone Gunmen in tow.
Scully was sore. Very, very sore. She
opened her eyes to find that she’d fallen
asleep on a row of the hospital lobby
chairs. Langley sat next to her, once again
absorbed in a video game on his laptop. She
could not help but notice that her three
Gunmen had dwindled down to one.
“What time is it?” she asked in a groggy
“Oh, hey!” he said by way of greeting as he
paused his game. “It’s, uh…9:30 in the
“Why didn’t you guys wake me? I certainly
didn’t mean to fall asleep while waiting for
the doctor to come back…”
He grinned at her, causing his black-rimmed
glasses to rise on his face.
“You looked beat Scully. Uh… N-no
offense,” he stuttered when Scully shot him
the eyebrow. “Mulder was sleeping most of
the time, anyway. The nurses say he’s still
improving. The docter even said that he
might get discharged in as few as three
days, if all goes well. I guess they have
to keep him for observation for 72 hours.”
“Yeah. That’s standard,” Scully stated as
she sat up and yawned, absorbing the good
news. “Any word on Michelin?”
“Nadda. He’s not even on the local news.
According to the public reports, everything
is going just swell.” Sarcasm dripped from
Scully rolled her eyes.
“So, an anonymous person provides a miracle
cure, so no harm, no foul? They must really
not have a clue where to look.” Scully
stood and straightened her suit jacket.
“I’m going to go see Mulder. Care to join
Langley turned off his computer and followed
her to the isolation ward. They both suited
up and went in Mulder’s room. Byers and
Frohike were already at Mulder’s side.
Scully took one look at the man in the bed
and turned on Langley. A broad grin lit her
“Why didn’t you tell me he was taken off the
“Well… You didn’t ask.” He tried to look
innocent in spite of his surgical mask.
“Mulder, have you those two been keeping you
in line, or is it the other way around?”
Scully leaned over, placed one gloved hand
against the side of his face, and gave him a
kiss on the cheek through her mask.
When she pulled away, some of the weariness
had melted from his features. His pallor
was slowly being replaced by a healthy pink.
“Hey, Scully,” Mulder whispered, his voice
raspy. “I’m a free man now.” He gave her a
weak smile and lifted his hands to
demonstrate. His restraints had been
“You’re an amazing man, Mulder, and if you
can behave for three more days, we might
even think about busting you out of here.”
Byers got up and stood next to Scully.
“The respiratory therapist said that he’s
doing remarkably well. The bacteria in his
lungs seem to have completely stopped
growing. In fact, they’ve already been able
to suction out the majority of it. They’re
not anticipating any significant amount of
Scully surprised Byers by turning and
hugging him. Their Tyvek aprons crinkled
between them. Byers noted Frohike shaking
his head in disapproval. Byers tried to
copy the expression of innocence that
Langley had just used. It did not work that
“Thanks, guys,” she said after turning to
face all of them. “Your help has meant a
lot to me. If I can ever repay you…”
“Eh, don’t worry about it, Scully,” Langley
insisted. “I’m just here to make sure that
Mulder doesn’t skip out on his tab. He
still owes me two cheesesteaks for my
Mulder laughed silently in his bed,
simultaneously wincing at the pain in his
tender diaphragm. Scully blanched and shook
her head at Langley’s statement.
“What? Autopsies don’t phase you, but
cheesesteaks *do*?” Langley teased.
“Do you know what is in those things,
Langley…?” Scully asked incredulously.
He stopped to consider his answer.
“Well, no, but…”
Byers stepped in to stop a debate in the
“All this talk of food is making me hungry.
Why don’t we go grab some breakfast?” He
addressed his question to Frohike and
Langley. “Scully, what can we get you?”
“I’ll just take an apple and some coffee.
“No problem. Anything for our little lady,”
Frohike called on his way out the door.
Scully stuck her tongue out at him, even
though his back was turned. Mulder shook
his bed with laughter.
“You know how to pick ’em, don’t you,
He nodded in agreement and reached up with
one hand to touch her arm, urging her to sit
down. His expression became more serious.
“Thank you.” His voice was still rough from
the ventilator. “Thanks for being here.”
“Anything for my partner.”
Mulder’s eyes lit up at that statement.
He sounded hopeful. Squeaky, but hopeful.
“One thing at a time, Mulder.”
He glanced at the newspaper lying on the
“Any news on Michelin?”
“No. They haven’t turned up any leads yet,”
Scully replied softly.
“He screwed up. Someone gave you that
antidote because he screwed up.” Mulder
looked up at Scully in sudden astonishment.
“Someone who actually didn’t want me dead!
That’s a switch.” He wore a rather smug
expression on his face.
“Well, that makes two of us. You got into
your part way, way too much, Mulder. Please
don’t do that again.”
The corners of his mouth tugged upwards. He
couldn’t resist the urge to do one last
impression, especially since his dry voice
would make it sound more authentic.
“I feel happy! I feel happy!”
Scully rolled her eyes.
Hans Gregor hung up the phone and leaned
back in his chair, contemplating. The
government seemed to be accepting his
explanation of Michelin’s disappearance, in
light of their lack of evidence to the
contrary. Gregor had no idea how Michelin
had managed to gather all of the information
that was stolen taken without someone
Gregor placed his hand on the phone’s
receiver again, unsure of whether or not to
make the next call. He was not longer
particularly concerned with Michelin.
Wherever he was, the copy of the genetic
engineering notes he had was incomplete. He
had taken a preliminary trial copy, not the
blueprint for the final product. Even Agent
Mulder’s survival, although disappointing,
was not the most urgent matter. Gregor had
more pressing issues weighing on his mind.
First and foremost was the government’s
rejection of the plague vaccine, in spite of
the demonstration of the infamous disease as
a viable and real threat. Tens of millions
of dollars and several years had been poured
into its development, and Gregor could not
afford to let that go for naught. His very
livelihood depended on it. The only other
option he could see was to make a profit on
its sister project. His hand flexed and
opened repeatedly over the phone in
apprehension. Finally, he lifted the
receiver and punched in the digits on his
“This is Gregor. With Rousch, yes. I’d
like to authorize the auction, $120 million
minimum.” He paused. “I’ll be using the
account already established.” He closed his
eyes and drew a shaky breath. “Thank you.
Just list the item as ‘7734’.”