Chapter 24: Archetype Café
March 23, 1998
9:00 a.m. Chemistry Lab
Scully noticed Krycek following her in the morning, and ignored it as she always did. Joe was back to looking like Joe, and he smiled when she came in. “I blocked of some time for you in the lab we’ll need,” he said, without bothering with niceties like ‘Hello.’
“Thank you. You have paper instructions?” she asked.
He handed them to her, and pointed at a cart filled with a variety of chemicals. “I got the ingredients, too.”
She nodded. “Any idea how long this will take?”
He made a show of counting on his fingers. “Four hours. Give or take twenty three minutes and fourteen seconds.”
“How much are we making?” she asked.
“Enough to kill me about fifty times over.” He grinned cheekily.
She frowned. “How toxic is it to the rest of the class?”
He shrugged. “Not sure, since it’s not something you’d normally find around here.”
“This planet?” she asked.
“This solar system,” he said. “It’s just an unlikely confluence of parts, and your kind of life just wouldn’t bother. But you should probably go level B on the suit just to be safe.”
She nodded. “Great. Let’s get going.”
He pushed the cart, and they walked down to another room. This one looked almost like an operating theater, complete with observation room. She spent a while reading the instructions, then set her ingredients out, measured, found the equipment she would need, and did a quick dry run. Then she suited up, and got started.
He spoke to her periodically through the little local intercom between the observation room and the lab. At one point she looked up and was surprised to see Krycek standing at the other end of the observation area, silent, watching.
It took four hours and thirteen minutes before she reached the end of the ingredient list, and she spent another five minutes staring at the viscous white liquid. The recipe had generated a half liter of liquid, and another liter and a half of discarded materials in four different smaller containers. She spoke, finally, and said, “What should I do with the excess reagents?”
He frowned. “The two containers on the left should be flushable, I think. If you mix the middle one with alcohol, it might turn into a decent hand cleaner in couple hours. The one on the right? That’s the one that worries me. I think it’s pretty reactive...”
She peered into the glass container. “It’s etching the glass.”
“How about we dilute it first, then once you’ve cleared that evil stuff out of there, I’ll spend some time adding a reactant to it until its a little less—shall we say—vigorous.”
She nodded. “Have you thought about delivery method?”
“Not really. Can you put it in bullets?” he asked.
Krycek rolled his eyes, and walked down the steps to a little airlocked passthrough cubby. He put a number of things in it, then walked back up to the observation room, took the mic, and said, “Whichever of those you think will be best.”
She stuck her gloved hand inside something that looked vaguely like an oven mitt, walked over and opened the passthrough. Many 3 cc tranquilizer darts, with a loading syringe. Plus several dozen jet injectors and some old-fashioned glass syringes. She sighed, and took them over to the workbench, where she started first with the little tranquilizer darts, filing the loading syringe first, then each in turn. It was challenging, working with a sharp needle, gloves, and a substance with an unknown level of toxicity.
She finally resorted to clamping each dart with a pair of tongs and then injecting it. She repeated the procedure with the jet injectors, and had enough left over to fill the syringes. When the last of the material was used, she began to clean up all but the most reactive of the excess reagents.
It was nearly three by the time she was done with that part of the project. Finally, she put the syringes, capped, in a plastic bag, pocketed a handful of the jet injectors, and put the rest in another plastic bag, the darts in still another, and loaded everything back onto the cart.
When she came out, she handed the material to Krycek without a word. He surprised her by planting a kiss on her cheek and saying, “Today you may have made the single biggest leap we’ve ever made in being able to fight this war on the ground.”
She gave him a weary smile and said, “It’s my job. And credit Joe here, I was just the hands.” She held out an injector to Joe. “You should take at least one of these, just in case.”
Joe looked at the syringes and injectors warily. “It wouldn’t have occurred to me without you.” After a moment, he accepted the injector, and put it in his pocket, looking perturbed. Then he said, “By the way, take this.”
He handed her several packets. “Mix that... 1cc from each packet per 250ml of sterile saline. Mix it right before you use it, and you can get away with room temperature saline. Mix it in the IV bag, and rock the bag back and forth for about 20 minutes before administering. That should be enough to get you through several years.”
Krycek said, “A better option might be to flush the molecular probes out of his system entirely.”
Scully stared at him. “Can we do that? Will there be a negative effect?”
He shrugged. “Clone said that flushing them out leaves everything status quo, and he seems to be doing all right that way. Flushing them out may not be simple, I don’t know.”
She frowned. “Did he say what the probes were still doing?”
Krycek cocked his head to one side. “They’re not harming him. They probably increase his cognitive ability. In a variety of areas.”
“In what ways?” she asked.
Krycek answered, “He wasn’t sure. Said you wouldn’t see it until he was old enough to demonstrate in exactly what ways he was special. Apparently you two have nifty and interesting genes. Should be quite a kid.”
“Just cut to the chase. Special how?”
Krycek shrugged. “He said it was possible he might have anomalous cognition. Didn’t know what.”
She shook her head. “He’s a normal, loving little boy.”
“Just think about this, Sally. Why did he start calling your husband ‘Da’? And he called you ‘Mama’, didn’t he?” Krycek turned and walked away.
She watched him go, speechless.
9:30 a.m. National City
Mulder spent the morning at SDCSS headquarters, reviewing files. Krycek had told him about the mole. Unfortunately the mole appeared to be high on the food chain. No direct action would be possible until the bad boys were broken, but he wanted to be able to point them to the right files, help them find the dots.
After lunch, he headed over to Tif’s house. It occurred to him after a while that it was amazing how completely normal it felt, now, being with his son. *One of those friends that it doesn’t matter how long you are apart, as soon as you are together again, it feels like no time has passed.*
But Tyler was flirting with walking. Mulder found himself wishing hard that the boy would wait until Scully was there. *Let your mama see you walk the first time, sweetie.*
He was oddly pleased when the boy sat down on his rump. The routine was comfortable, he found. *Why is it, baby boy, that when I am with you, I have no real desire to go out and fight the monsters?* It felt good to turn his brain off for a while and just be.
When he came back out of the house, he noticed the tail down the street was someone new. Looked like Joe. No, the bounty hunter. He felt very lucky at that moment that he’d been practicing ignoring the tail for so long, and he carried on about his business as usual.
5:00 p.m. The Condos
When Scully left the school, Krycek joined Skinner back at the surveillance condo.
“Take these,” he said, handing Skinner a loaded dart pistol, a small CO2 canister, and two injectors. “We don’t know how many darts it will take to stop them, but the injectors are a larger dose.”
Skinner turned the pistol over in his hands. “Airgun?” he asked.
Kryeck nodded. “Standard trank pistol. Hopefully sufficient to bring those things down.”
Skinner tucked the pistol away. “That’s good news. I take it we’re still waiting to put the bad boys down?”
Krycek nodded. “They’re still working on more approaches, and I’d like to be able to test them all. We’ve got enough targets, but only if we’re good about not springing the trap too soon.”
They went upstairs and sat down to play cards. Skinner glanced at the monitors. “Isn’t our girl supposed to be there?”
Krycek frowned. “Joe was going to give her a ride back over here.”
“Better hope she gets back before our ‘supervisor’ comes back,” Skinner said. “Or we’ll have to test your new toy sooner than later.”
A few minutes later, Mulder pulled in. A minute after that, the bounty hunter was coming up the stairs. Skinner had his hand poised, as the alien glanced at the monitor and said, “You lost your target. Care to explain yourself?”
Krycek pointed out the window. “What do you mean, lost?”
Sure enough, Scully was climbing out of a car, carrying a bag of groceries, and waving to the car’s occupant.
The bounty hunter frowned, and settled in to watch the monitors closely.
In the kitchen of the other condo, Scully set the bag of groceries on the counter, leaned up for a kiss from Mulder, and then started pulling things out of the bag. She washed her hands, put on an apron, and started preparing dinner.
At five thirty, the Daldsens came over, Rich carrying Amanda, who lay her head listlessly on his shoulder, eyes closed. Scully frowned, and asked Rich to put Amanda down on the couch so she could examine her. Joanie moved into the kitchen, and started making the salad.
When the girl was on the couch, she wasn’t visible to the monitors, and the bounty hunter leaned forward as if that would allow him to see over the back of the couch. He gestured for Krycek to come over. “What are they doing?”
Krycek looked. “The girl is sick. It looks like Doctor Harrod is examining her. Which is exactly what you would expect her to do.”
“Don’t the Daldsens have strict orders to take her to Calderon?” the bounty hunter asked.
Skinner said, “I believe they did take her out, earlier today.”
The alien quit asking questions then, but scowled at the screen.
Across the street, Scully surreptitiously slid a syringe and tourniquet out of her pocket, and whispered to Amanda, “Shhhh. This will hurt a little, but I’ll try to be fast.” Amanda did not stir, and Scully, careful to keep her hands low, quickly and gently drew a blood sample from the little girl’s arm, taking care to avoid a tendril radiating from a nodule in the girl’s armpit. She capped and pocketed the syringe, and said, “I need to head back to campus for a few minutes. The salmon should be done in five minutes, will you get it out of the oven, Martin?”
She walked to the front door, put her fanny sack on, caught the keys that Mulder tossed at her, and went out to drive to campus.
In the surveillance condo, Krycek was already moving, and was gone, following her, before the bounty hunter could say a word.
Skinner watched, tense and ready to grab for the pistol, but the bounty hunter made no move.
A few minutes later, Scully returned, followed soon by Krycek, and the rest of the evening was uneventful. The Daldsen stayed until about seven. Mulder and Scully watched the Oscars, Mulder staring aghast at the screen as Titanic won over and over again.
When the condo was quiet, the bounty hunter stood up and walked out in to the night, taking one of the cars with him.
March 24, 1998
8:00 a.m., The Condo
Mulder and Scully decided not to leave until after the home visit, which left them with their first leisurely morning in several weeks. They ate breakfast, cleaned, did laundry, and tried not to fret. At nine, they sat and filled out paperwork. At ten, sitting on the couch, waiting, Scully turned on the TV, and stared in horror at the news coming in from Arkansas.
Scully stared at the news crews, the tickers, the news vans sitting in front of yet another school, reporting about how an eleven year old and a thirteen year old had plotted and shot and killed other children. Mulder stood up after a few minutes and turned it off.
She wanted to say, “Is this what we’re fighting for?” but all she could safely say was, “How could they? What would make children break that way?”
He wanted to slip into profiler mode and explain it. He wanted to talk about how alienation and a culture of hopelessness might conspire with psychosis... but he just held her and said, “I don’t know.”
At 10:30, Scully went to the kitchen and made tea.
Flo showed up at 11 on the nose, looking vaguely upset. The first thing she said was, “Did you hear?”
They nodded, and welcomed her in.
It felt strange to be going about normal business, but there didn’t seem to be anything else to do. So Mulder led a tour of the house. Flo asked questions such as, “Where will the baby sleep?” and “Have you gotten a carseat yet?” They asked for a shopping list, and made an appointment to go check carseat installation at the local fire department.
When Flo asked about work schedules, Scully said that she was planning on taking time off after her shift on Thursday.
When Flo asked about finances, Mulder pulled a sheet of paper out of the document case and handed it to her. When she saw the bank balance, Flo blinked a little, and checked something off on her clipboard.
Then she asked about baby proofing. Mulder and Scully looked at each other, and around the living room. Scully said, “I think we can have that done by Friday morning.”
Flo spent a fair amount of time reviewing their answers to the questions on the forms they’d filled out, and then asked, “Now what provisions have you made for his medical treatment?”
Scully said, “I’m a doctor, and I’m hoping that if we adopt Tyler, we’ll be able to continue his treatments wherever we are living. Until we can make those arrangements, we’ll stay where he can be treated, as long as we need to.”
Then Flo asked, “Why are you wanting to foster?”
Scully smiled a little sadly and said, “After I lost my baby this winter, I was told I could not get pregnant again. We weren’t planning on adopting right away, but Tyler... we’ve both spent time with him, and I understand he needs long-term placement, and is likely to be available for adoption... I very much would like to provide that for him. Not so much for me, although I think it would be healing, but because what he needs, we can provide.”
Flo nodded, and looked at Mulder.
He just smiled and said, “I adore the kid. What can I say?”
Then Flo asked, “Do you have a support system if you need help?”
Scully nodded. “We have friends both here in and in Victoria. If we need practical help, we can hire it.”
“Any history of mental illness?”
They both simply shook their heads. Not something to go into then.
Then Flo started asking a list of questions about parenting style. Spanking. Discipline. Mulder answered more of these than Scully, and when he started talking about Dreikursian parenting methods, Flo’s eyes glazed over, and she checked another mark off on the sheet. Scully resisted the temptation to stare at him as if he’d grown an extra head. *Psychology. The man majored in it.*
At noon, Flo looked up from her clipboard, smiled, and said, “I’ll be back on Friday at 11 to check your baby proofing and bedroom setup, and I can get all the rest of the paperwork done on Thursday. You should be able to take him home, if all goes as expected, at about 4 on Friday.”
They looked at each other, and took a deep breath, and then Mulder shook Flo’s hand and said, “Thank you, so much.”
She laughed, and said, “I wish all my families were as punctual and involved as you two seem to be.”
Mulder smiled. “Thank you for your help. I’ll get my report to my supervisor by Friday.”
She nodded, and then got up. “You two have some shopping to do. I’m going to assume you don’t need a clothing budget?”
Scully shook her head.
When Flo was out the door, she stood there for a moment looking a little dazed, and Mulder put his arms around her. *So much to say, and no space to say it,* she thought.
She leaned against him, and sighed. He looked down at her, kissed the top of her head, and then stepped back a little to say, “Shall we go shopping?”
She nodded, got her shoes on, and grabbed her pack. She looked back, to see him at the computer in the corner. She frowned, but then he pulled a couple of sheets of paper out of the printer and smiled. “Shopping list.”
They found a boutique in the mall nearby, and without looking at prices bought a crib, a Britax carseat, a stroller, a couple baby gates, knob protectors, funny little jobbers that promised to making opening drawers impossible for small hands and easy for large ones, plug covers, and to Mulder’s amusement, a designer diaper bag made out of silk brocade. Scully frowned at a selection of frame backpacks and puffy baby slings, then Mulder reached past her and said, “That one,” pointing at a colorful striped sash-y looking thing hanging under a poster showing a woman carrying a toddler on her hip.
The clerk who was helping them cooed and said, “Oh, our customers love the Maya Wrap.” She’d said that about the carseat, stroller, crib, and knob protectors too.
Next, a high chair and funny bowls with suction cups on the bottom. Rubber tipped spoons and spoons with loopy handles. Then an array of the bottles that looked the most like the ones that Mulder had used at Tif’s house.
By the time they were done adding toys and clothing to the loot, they had more than could possibly fit in the car, and the store owner, after looking at the amount at the bottom of the receipt, volunteered to drive it home for them in her minivan.
The baby stuff, boxed, took up a substantial part of their living room. They stared at the pile for a few minutes, and then Mulder looked at his watch. “I’m going to go see Tyler,” he said.
She nodded. “Can you work on this later, when you’re home? I have to work this afternoon starting at three.”
He smiled. “Of course.”
11:00 a.m. Teen Mothers’ Home
Krycek didn’t know whether not seeing the bounty hunter was a good thing, or a bad one. *Finish your cure, Scully. I want to watch him die.*
The routine at the home was unchanged. He was good at waiting, but this was stretching longer than he liked, and his instincts were starting to shift from a whisper to a strong chant. *Getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout*
But getting out would mean throwing the more pregnant girls to the wolves. Getting out would mean tipping their hand too soon.
Watching the men, the staff, he tried to figure out which was a bounty hunter, which was a clone, which was just some poor sod trying to make a living. The nurses, he knew. The doctors. Of course. But the rest?
He fingered the pistol inside his leather jacket, and waited.
1:30 p.m. Chemistry Lab
Jeremiah was placing a droplet of pink liquid on a slide when Scully arrived. He looked up, smiled, and said, “look in the microscope.”
Scully looked. “What am I seeing?” she asked.
He smiled. “A new protocol. I think it works. The data from their failed experiment was very educational, and I was able to adjust my design to take into account their failure.”
She watched the sample under the slide change color. “What did it do that?”
He smiled. “I took my cue from the antidote. Added cyancobalamine and several of the other components. You’re watching the uptake in living cells. That’s a mix of nanoids, nutrients and enzymes, in a base that will aid penetration. The problem the others had was that they only used nanoids and did not account for the extreme toxicity of the lysed protein. This takes that protein and breaks it down further immediately, buffering the toxic components for excretion before they can cause damage. It does not contain the glycoprotein from the immune globulin-based treatment. I think that I can have enough for a single treatment for testing by the end of the day tomorrow.”
She smiled. “That’s amazing.”
He shrugged. “Not amazing enough unless I can get more nanoids to work with. One treatment won’t accomplish what you want to accomplish.”
She nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”
6:00 p.m. The Condo
Mulder arrived home, picked up leftovers, and drove over to Urgent Care to bring Scully her dinner. Afterwards, he came back, and set to work. The carseat was physically demanding, but following Tif’s advice and reading the instruction sheet, he managed to get the seat in tight enough that once everything was buckled, he could not shift it, on the third try.
The crib was another matter. The instructions appeared to have been translated into German, then into Korean, and finally back into English. He left the pieces spread out in the corner of the bedroom, and went back downstairs to deal with baby proofing. Three trips to the store later for a drill, hammer, and screwdriver set, he was pretty sure that no one would ever open any of the kitchen drawers ever again. Little covers in sockets. He was pleased when he managed to get the gates installed at the top and bottom of the stairs.
It took him a good two hours to take the tags and boxes and twist ties and little plastic clips off the toys and clothing. He went to the web and finally decided to just wash the stuff with the perfume and dye free detergent Scully favored.
By the time Scully came home at 11:15, there was a heap of cardboard and plastic in the corner of the living room, a load of laundry in the dryer, and the crib still spread out in pieces on the bedroom floor. She looked around at the mess, yawned, and said, “You’ve been busy.”
He dried his hands off from washing the bottles, and said, “You look tired.”
She nodded, looking raw. “Work was... It wasn’t particularly bad because of cases, but everyone was rattled about the massacre in Jonesboro. I think a lot of the nurses have kids that age.”
He put the last bottle on a drying rack and then wrapped his arms around her. “Let’s focus on what we can do,” he said. “Not the far away.”
She nodded against his chest, and then pulled away to get ready for bed.
They did not make love, acutely aware of the camera and the possibility of Skinner on the other side. He wondered, idly, what made Krycek less inhibiting than Skinner in that regard for her.
She curled up next to him, tired and emotionally worn, but sleep did not come easily.
March 25, 1998
8:00 a.m. The Condo
She opened her eyes an hour later than usual when she heard Mulder swear.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, pushing up on her elbows to see him sitting on the floor near the foot of the bed.
“Pinched my hand in the springs. You want to look at this? I’m about ready to take it back and buy a laundry basket for the kid to sleep in.”
She rolled sleepily to the edge of the bed, put her feet on the floor, and padded over to him in her underwear and camisole.
Yawning, she picked up the instructions and squinted at them until her eyes cleared. “Will you find me coffee?” she asked.
He disappeared. She looked over at what he had tried to assemble, cocked her head, and set the instructions aside. She was staring at the pieces when he returned with her coffee.
She sipped, frowned, sipped again. Then she put the coffee down, picked up one chunk of parts that were clearly put together wrong, and began to work.
Taking apart everything he’d done, she flipped over one piece, reversed another and asked him to hold two parts together while she drove a screw in.
About twenty minutes later, the crib was assembled. He stared, and said, “What’s the secret?”
She laughed. “Needs two people.”
He rolled his eyes, and picked up the stray paper and plastic and extra screws to take them downstairs.
She sat on the end of the bed for ten minutes, sipping her coffee and staring at the crib. A thought wandered through. *I want my mom.*
12:15 p.m. Dulles Airport
Margaret Scully paid for a ticket at the airport, about an hour after she’d put down her book and decided that enough was enough. She wasn’t quite sure why it was important to go see Bill’s family, now, but given that it had been more than three weeks since Dana’s odd morning visit, she had no doubt that getting out of Washington and visiting her grandbaby would help distract her from the continual nagging worry. As soon as she knew which flight she would be on, she called Bill’s house on her cell phone.
Tara answered. Maggie said, “It’s Mom, I’m hoping you guys don’t mind, but I’m going to be in town this evening, and if you have room on your couch, I wouldn’t mind staying with you.”
Tara was silent for a moment, then said, “Of course you can stay. I’ll get your room ready. Is something wrong?”
Maggie sighed. “Well, I don’t know if you know, but Dana’s been off on a trip for a while, and I haven’t heard much from her, and I’m just feeling a need for family.”
“That’s funny you should say that. I thought I saw her here in town the other day, but it turned out to be some British woman with brown eyes who must have thought I was completely nuts, calling her ‘Dana’ in Whole Foods.” Tara laughed.
“You’re shopping there now?” Maggie asked. “What about the commissary?”
Tara sighed. “One of my friends said that Matthew’s colic might be caused by the dairy I eat. So I was picking up rice milk. Honestly, Mom, it will be a relief to have someone to talk to, now that Bill is on active duty.”
“I’ll be there at seven,” Maggie said, “I can get a cab out there, though.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll send someone for you,” Tara said. “I’m sure Dana was fine. It was really spooky though, that woman in the store, if it hadn’t been for the eyes and her long hair, well, and the accent of course. She’s got such a distinctive face, it never occurred to me there would be someone else who looks so like her.”
Maggie frowned, a little bemused. “That is strange. Anyway, I’ll see you later.”
10:00 a.m. Chemistry Lab
Scully said, as she walked in, “Please have good news for me...”
Joe looked up from the computer. “Oh, I do. Is your tail nearby? I need him.”
She looked out into the hallway. Krycek leaned against the wall, looking bored. She gave a little jerk of her head, and he straightened, then followed her back in.
Joe looked at Krycek, and said, “You have someplace you can test this, to see if it works?”
Scully frowned. “The last time...”
Krycek said, “There’s no chance if we don’t try. They’ll die anyway.”
“I need more of the nanoids. The molecular probes. Can you get them?” Jeremiah asked.
Krycek nodded. “Tomorrow, probably.”
She sighed, then gave a tiny nod, and Jeremiah handed a jet injector to Krycek. “Apply to the jugular.”
“Doesn’t it have to be put in with the baby directly?” Krycek asked.
Joe’s eyes got wide. “You didn’t tell me that’s... it explains a lot. No, this will be a bit more gradual, and it’s better if it happens by filtering through the placenta instead of trying to go through the fetal skin.”
Scully said, “Can you find out about flushing the probes from Tyler’s system?”
Krycek nodded. “I think I have the tools I need to extract that information.” His eyes glinted, and Scully shuddered a little.
He left, and they spent the rest of the morning looking at ways of separating oil from shapeshifter.
Noon, Archetype Café
That’s not what it was really called. It was really called the Grange, but one of the ladies had passed a song around the listserve the year before, and Heron couldn’t resist hanging a hand-drawn sign over the door. They filtered in over the course of an hour, women short and tall, thin and fat, most greying, some pushing the years away with dye of various colors, potters and teachers, social workers and martial artists, civil servants and entrepreneurs, a few young, most in their late forties to early sixties, smiling and hugging. A few men, as well. Frohike and Byers. An older black man, tall and angular, with a merry smile. Punch and chips and pot luck dishes seemed to multiply like tribbles on the tables along the back wall. Music was playing, Joan Baez and Judi Collins and Carole King in the background, an undercurrent of warm altos and thready sopranos humming along under their breaths with the familiar strains.
Gwynne looked out over the faces of her old friends, Teena sitting at her side with an expression of slightly scandalized wonder, with Heron off to her left. They sat on a low platform above a sea of round tables surrounded by folding chairs, café style, a podium next to Gwynne with a microphone, courtesy of Frohike.
On the other side of the podium, Flo, Carol and Dot Frohike sat side by side, chatting.
At 12:15, when most were at their seats with little plates of casseroles and salads, Gwynne stood up and moved to the podium. She tapped the microphone, which gave a small squeal, and then spoke, calmly.
“Sisters, brothers, I cannot tell you how glad I am to see you all here. We have a few missing, but what I have called you here today to tell you is that the lost have been found, and it is time for us to move our collective resources into action.”
A quiet murmur moved through the group, and she waited for it to stop before continuing. “My son has been found. He is married, living nearby, and his wife, another who was lost, is finally reunited with her family as well. It has been almost twenty-five years.”
Another pause to allow this to sink in. “You who are here are my community. You were my salvation when I was lost, and you helped me find my strength. What I have to tell you today is going to be difficult to hear, more difficult to believe, but today I will tell you a story that will help you understand how each and every one of you can help us in the coming weeks, the coming years, to fight the most important battle of our lives.”
Another murmur, this with a little bit of confusion in the undercurrent.
“I use the language of violence. I know that it is anathema to what we have stood for. We’ve spent years working to end violence against women, against children, against all who want to walk gently in the world. But we have come to a point where there is no other choice. We were born to parents who lived in a similar era of choicelessness. They faced a great evil, and the only way to put an end to it was to fight with every breath they had.
“As must we. We face a greater evil.”
There was no sound in the room. She wasn’t even sure they were all breathing.
“What I have to say... Please hear me. Your first instinct will be to shut down, to dismiss what I say out of hand. But know that I am not crazy, that what I say can be corroborated by several of the people in this room, and that I have no cause to lie to you or mislead you. I wish I was not right about what I am going to tell you, but I know in my heart that it is, ultimately, the only explanation that makes sense. I’ve seen too much evidence not to believe, and I ask that you trust me.”
One of the women in the front row gave a short, sharp laugh and called out, “Cut the melodrama Gwynne, we’re too old for it. Give it to us straight. We’re all about believing people who are not believed.”
Gwynne chuckled, and said, “There are aliens.” She heard a sharp intake of breath, and continued. “They have been coming to our planet for a very long time. Maybe as long as civilization, we don’t know. What we do know is that they are the scouting force, the probe, as it were, setting the stage for a much larger presence, an invasion.” Another murmur started, she continued talking in spite of it. “We know the date of the invasion. And our government has been complicit.”
She stopped, waiting for the murmur to die down. “The government took my son. They took her daughter. They took her son’s wife. And they have been doing unspeakable, horrible things to them and to their children, for years. Now, it is time for them to fight back. I would like our group to help them.”
She looked over at Flo. “Floria over here can explain to you how many infants and small children have died in San Diego in the past three years alone, abandoned without comment in our hospitals, tested and experimented upon until they died brutal, painful, horrific deaths.” Flo blinked, gasped a little, and then nodded.
“Teena can tell you how her daughter was taken, her son driven almost mad, deliberately.”
Teena nodded, no shock for her.
“There has been a systemic effort for years to convince the aliens that our government was working with the aliens. And simultaneously an effort to undermine that work, to find ways of fighting. One of the people who has been most hurt by this has helped to find a way, finally, of fighting back. We need to protect her work, to protect her, her small family. She has been robbed of fertility, children created without her knowledge or permission to die horrific deaths, denied the right to parent her children when she did find them, and yet she is working even now to find cures for the children who are left, to give them a chance where they had none.” Gwynne glanced at Flo, who had a curious expression on her face.
“In the next few weeks, if we do what we hope we can do, we will be able to move to freedom a number of teenagers who have been kidnapped, made pregnant, and subjected to medical torture. We may need to help a number of adoptive families and foster children get new identities and new places to live. And we have one undercover couple who are striving to adopt a child who is genetically theirs who will need to be moved to safety as well. Two of the pregnant girls are pregnant with their child. All are victims in this.” Gwynne saw when the realization dawned on Flo’s face.
“Will you help?”
She saw the nods moving around the room. “Any questions?”
There were a few. Several which she categorized under the heading of , “Aliens? Really?” And finally, the question she’d been waiting for. “How can we help?”
“I need homes. Places. I need some of you to stay here, ready to shepherd. Dot, I need you ready to do a couple more makeovers on that lovely couple. Flo? I need you to push thing through as fast as you can to get that boy with his parents. Those of you with the science skills to help with the research, I need you to work with Carol. Figure out where you want to do your work. I have some options, but I would prefer that not all activities happen in one place. Most of all, I need ideas. Think about the issues at hand, figure out solutions.”
One of the better organizers in the group stood up, and said, “May I direct for a time?”
Gwynne nodded, suddenly very tired. The organizer, a tall woman with broad shoulders, designated parts of the room as science, logistics, housing and travel, etc. They broke up into groups, and Gwynne sat for a long moment, looking out at the sea of faces clustered around the room, talking intently. Maryl, the organizer, spotted people starting to come to Gwynne every 30 seconds with questions, and said definitively, “Make a list of questions, folks. Give Gwynnie time to catch her breath.”
Flo brought her chair over and said, “You’re saying Tyler belongs to Martin and Sally.”
Flo asked, “Why don’t they just have him prove paternity? We deal with that often enough.”
“They’re undercover. They can’t have their real names tied with his, or all hell will rain down on them.” Gwynne sighed. “Do you remember Emily Sims?”
A nod. “Emily was Sally’s biological daughter.”
Flo closed her eyes. “That was the baby she lost.”
Flo sighed. “I understand why he couldn’t tell me, but I wish...”
“Emily’s parents were killed for wanting to stop treatment. When Dana tried to adopt Emily, she was told that her biological parenthood was irrelevant. Legally, according to California law, there is a huge grey area, in that while parenthood is determined by intent in surrogacy cases, it is also illegal to profit from a crime, and illegal to steal gametes. They could not risk losing another child to those loopholes. And when they found out that he was the parent of all of the children made with her ova...”
Flo’s eyes widened. “How many?”
“Thirty. Just theirs. Twenty seven of them are already dead.” Gwynne spat the words out. “And your mole at the SDCSS, the one who has been letting all this happen? Is your direct supervisor.”
Flo blinked. “Oh my god. She was in charge of Dana Scully’s attempt to adopt Emily. It was the talk of the office, such a strange case where a biological mother stepped forward who had no knowledge of the child’s existence. We get fathers like that, but mothers? She was the one who blocked it. Blamed it on the judge, but they just rubber stamp what we do.”
“She’s working on the cure. Will have it soon, we think. We just need a little more time.” Gwynne sighed. “We always need more time.”
Flo smiled. “The one bit of good news is that if they complete the course tonight and get their house baby proofed, I can issue the license tomorrow, and they’ll be able to take him home on Friday. And she has no say in licensure, has no idea that Sally Harrod has anything to do with Dana Scully, and if I don’t bother to file the paperwork until the last thing on Friday, she won’t even know until Monday that the child has been moved.”
“She’ll know,” Gwynne said. “Every home where one of these children is placed is thoroughly bugged. The Harrod home has cameras in every room. And they know it.”
Flo shook her head. “How they can live like that...”
Gwynne laughed. “They’re FBI agents. And they’ve been under surveillance for most of the past six years.”
“Will he be safe with them?” Flo asked.
“Safe than he could possibly be anyplace else. I think we’re going to send them into Mexico. Doña Isabel could not be here, but her hacienda in Oaxaca would be an ideal place for them to lay low, especially if they get the pregnant girls out.” Gwynne frowned. “When I think about those girls... they’re all more than 12 weeks along, and most likely Catholic, and no one has ever given them a choice. I don’t even know what choice would mean in this situation. Should they keep babies they have no genetic tie to? Babies whose parents are in most cases already dead? I’ve spent a good chunk of the past several days going over the records my boys have gotten out of the jaws of the enemy, and it is chilling. My hope is that we can find ways of helping them through these births with the least physical and emotional damage, help them find a place and a way to get educated and stable, give them a choice about the babies, if we can. But some of them... one is fourteen. Several are fifteen. The oldest is seventeen. When I think about what my life was back then?”
Flo laughed. “You were flirting with your future husband and about to marry him fresh out of high school.”
“True, that.” Gwynne smiled. “But even so... those poor kids. Where are their families? How do we make them whole?”
“I can help with that. I think. I have ties. And can translate.” Flo smiled. “at least there’s something I can do in this mess. The science is beyond me, but I think I can help whoever’s getting those chickies where they’re going.”
Gwynne nodded. She watched lists of questions growing, and sighed. It was going to be a long afternoon.
1:00 p.m. Urgent Care
Scully’s shift started earlier than usual, a half shift, filling in for one of the other doctors off on a field trip with his eight year old. When Meg saw her getting ready, she said, “I hear tomorrow is your last day?”
Scully nodded. “We’re getting a foster placement sooner than we expected, and we’re both taking a little time to help him adapt.”
“Well,” Meg said, “congratulations. Are you going to adopt?”
Scully shrugged. “I hope so, but you never know.”
“Do you need any baby stuff?” Meg asked.
Scully laughed weakly. “You would not believe how much shopping we just did. It was insane.”
Meg chuckled. “Not surprising. Amazing how much stuff one little person needs. Let me know if you need anything, I tend to pack rat and my kids have all outgrown that stuff.”
The shift proceeded with the usual assortment of bumps and sneezes.
6:00 p.m. Archetype Café
By the time dinnertime rolled around, they had a plan. Questions had been answered, Gwynne had talked herself hoarse, and people were starting to filter out in groups of two or three to get started on their assignments. Teena watched as the room emptied, and when it was down to a small handful of people, she said, “How much money do you have for this, right now?”
Gwynne said, “Another three million. Part of that is set aside for basic living expenses for me and the girls, but most of it is available.”
Teena nodded. “You will need more.”
Gwynne cocked her head. “Oh?”
“I have fourteen million. Five of that is liquid. I want to make it available.”
Gwynne raised an eyebrow.
Teena gave a dry laugh. “You should have stuck around. Between my mother’s family’s money, the divorce settlement, and the ongoing hush money? Trust me. There is nothing I would like better than to apply my resources to this fight.”
Gwynne smiled. “That’s the spirit.”
9:30 p.m. The Condo
The last class had passed in a haze of overwhelm, mostly discussions of practical issues and places to shop. When they arrived home, Mulder and Scully stared around the condo, transformed with a knot of toys, high chair, bottle racks. Not one space on the bottom floor was free of baby-related equipment.
Scully commented, looking at it, “It looks like someone else’s house. Like someone else’s life.”
He shrugged, and said, “Did you know that there are cultures in the world in which there is no special baby equipment? They tie their babies to their naked bodies, take them into the bushes to pee, nurse them, and let them crawl in the dirt.”
She stared at him. “Which I’m sure works very well in places where people arrange their lives to be fundamentally childproof. Walking around naked represents a lowering of standards I’m just not ready for in my day-to-day work life.”
He leered. “Awww.”
Upstairs, she looked at the crib in the corner of the bedroom, and said, “Better there than in one of the studies?”
He gave an odd smile. “I thought maybe we wouldn’t want to be that far from him, at first.”
She nodded. “Fair enough.”
~Continue to Chapter 25
(second half of Archetype Café)