Colonization V (PG-13)

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"I was able to read a man in Toronto.  There're a lot more cities here than in North Dakota," William complained.  "It's crowded even now."


"What did you get from him?"


"There're no private cars anymore.  The people that are controlled use moving trucks and panel vans to haul supplies to warehouses, things you can't see inside.  Except for people.  They move the people in armored cars."


"Armored cars?" Skinner looked over at Mulder.


"They think people are more valuable than supplies?" Mulder shrugged.  "Is it the same in DC?  We have to get to her before she's put inside one.  We'll have to hide this car as well, and steal one of theirs," Mulder began thinking out loud.


"Be nice if the one we steal is full of supplies," Gibson grinned.


"I like the way you think," Skinner clapped a hand on his shoulder.  "We're going to have to take some back roads now, stay as far away from cities and towns as possible, but William's right, it's more crowded here.  We're going to have to slow down."


Mulder's head flew up and his mouth opened.  Skinner just stared at him and he clamped his lips shut.  Okay, the man was right, but . . .  Mulder looked over at William.  "Have you been able to pick up anything about where the women go when they reach the front of the line?"


William shook his head.  "But if they're putting people in armored cars in the middle of the night, and she hasn't seen anyone leave . . . "


"Yeah.  It's a leap, but hey," he managed to grin at Skinner.  "How far from the front of the line is she?"


"I'll try to find out tonight.  I think I've been pushing too hard during the day."


"What do you mean?"


"Well, we keep trying to ask her things but we really aren't getting through during the day, and she keeps getting headaches."


Mulder froze and Skinner reached for him.  "That makes sense, William.  Back off during the day.  If she's more receptive at night, that's the best time to try to reach her."


William was looking at his father though and Skinner wasn't sure he'd heard a word.  "Cancer?" the boy whispered, horrified.


Skinner's hand tightened on Mulder's arm.  "William, your mother is fine.  She was sick a long time ago, long before you were born.  Your father found a cure and she's been well ever since.  I don't want you to worry about this, right, Mulder?"


"R-right.  Sorry, I was just . . . "


"I won't hurt her, Dad.  I promise."


Mulder reached for the boy and he rushed into Mulder's arms.  "I know that.  Don't mind me.  I get a little crazy when I'm Scully-less for more than a few hours." 


Skinner and Gibson chuckled at that, causing a glare from Mulder, and went back to packing the car.  They were definitely moving slower now that they had turned south toward the United States again.  They had decided to travel only when both boys were up and able to concentrate on diverting attention away from them.


"What I'd like, is to get to DC and be able to scout around.  I don't remember a building like Scully is living in near the monument.  I know they could have converted just about anything, but if they're got dormitory space for two hundred women and for all we know men somewhere in this . . . " Skinner's voice trailed off.




"The Pentagon.  They're being held in the Pentagon."


"But that's a couple of miles and a river away from . . . "


"We were thinking the thing just fell over.  It was blasted, remember?  It could have flown that far."  After a moment Mulder nodded.  "Are you familiar with the layout?"


"I've been in the basement a couple of times," Mulder said with heavy irony.


Skinner's chuckle caused Mulder to glance over at him, shaking his head.  They piled in the car and headed south again.


They had been traveling a couple of hours when William touched Mulder's arm.  "One of those places where they store supplies is just over there.  They have those vans and trucks there.  That's what we need to be traveling in now."


"Okay, sounds like a good idea. We need to find a place, a safe place, to hide this car."


Gibson pointed from the backseat.  "Over there.  The cars they've already searched are stored in a big parking lot.  We can hide in plain sight, just not near the edges."


Skinner nodded and turned in that direction.  There was no one at the entrance, thanks to the boys and they pulled deep into the lot.  They pulled into a space and Mulder turned back toward the boys.  "We've got to head over to the other site.  We have to be careful not to be seen. I've got an extra gun, Gibson, if you - "


"No thanks.  I think I'd rather go with what William's already taught me.  I'll be more effective that way."


Mulder and Skinner nodded.


"We shouldn't stay together; four is a lot to hide.  We can meet up again at the southeast corner of the lot, near those bushes," Skinner pointed, whispering.  Mulder agreed and took William's hand.


"See you there."  He and William ducked down and headed south.  Gibson and Skinner moved east. Both Mulder and Skinner had their guns out, despite Gibson's confidence.


Only one person came close to Skinner and Gibson, and Gibson turned his attention elsewhere with no problem. Mulder and William were waiting for them without worry.  Mulder thought again how incredibly lucky he and Skinner were to have this advantage, even if the humans they'd seen were drugged.


"Come on, guys.  We need to get over to the storage building."  Cautiously they moved from hiding place to hiding place and, with the boys' assistance, made quick work of reaching the building.  They found several vans there, waiting to be unloaded.  Skinner and Gibson scouted the other side of the building and found the empty vans getting readied to be sent back out.


"We might as well take a full one, if we're going to steal it anyway," Skinner said.  "Just pick the one with the most gas." 


That didn't take much time and they were on their way, Skinner driving, with the others hidden in the back until they were out of sight.  In addition to the food stored in this panel van, there were also a couple of containers of gas, so they set off for DC with few qualms.


"We need to get there in plenty of time to be able to scout things out.  We believe she's in the Pentagon, but that's not assured.  We also need to hide this vehicle and get one of the armored cars to transport her away from the building, so keep an eye out.  We should have four days before she's moved and we'll need every minute of that."


Mulder nodded, letting Skinner take point on this.  It did feel like a military operation. 


They reached DC by early afternoon and carefully scouted around.  Skinner's building had been demolished, but surprisingly Mulder's old apartment building was still standing.  Looking around inside of a city for the first time, they realized the precision of the destruction.  Business buildings, skyscrapers, tourist attractions were gone, but the buildings that were mainly housing stood undamaged.  Skinner's building had housed a bank and several retail shops on the bottom floors.


"Did they plan to kill this many?  They struck in the middle of a week day and took out just about all of the commercial property."


"Who knows?  They did leave plenty of living space, which isn't being used since they've gathered everyone up and are apparently keeping them under control, at least for now."


"The drugs are definitely in the water," Gibson reported.  "They're also giving them more drugs in some cases, like the cookies, but everyone is getting the water.  That's why Scully's still semi-drugged even avoiding some of the food."


"Mulder, you're familiar with the water plants - "


"That was a long time ago, and in Newark."


"But if we went over there, tried to figure out how the drugs are getting into the water, then we might be able to . . . "


"We're here to get Scully."


"Yes, and we will, but look at all the other people that need our help.  Scully would want us to do everything we can.  We can't do anything for her until they bring her out of the building.  We can at least check this out," Skinner pressed.


Mulder grudgingly nodded.  He did know more about water processing plants since investigating Flukeman, and Skinner was right.  Anything they could do to break more people free would be Scully's goal.


"We have an advantage," William offered.  "They think the drugs always work.  They've 'trained' the semi-drugged ones and fully drugged anyone else - they think.  The fact that Mom quit eating the cookies for some reason, well, they never thought about that.  They're not even here now.  Once they got the population here under control, they moved to another city.  There aren't very many of them on Earth at all.  They don't have guards out protecting things from us.  The drugged people are especially easy for Gibson and me to turn away."


"So we shouldn't have much trouble getting into the water plant?" Mulder asked.


"Right.  They think they're smarter than we are."


"Okay, let's take our advantage and use it.  Maybe we'll even find some fuel to top off the tank while we're there."


Using back roads and a couple of detours, they made their way to the water processing plant.  William had been right; there were no guards and few workers.  Those few were easily sent to other areas of the building.


Mulder led the way down into the plant to where the cleaned water was released back into the system.  The four of them stood at the entrance, scanning the large area.  It was Mulder who realized the tarp covered mound wasn't just equipment.  He led the others that way and lifted one corner of the tarp.  It hid a stainless steel tank and he saw the small tube leading from the tank into the water.


"Is it the drug?"


"Don't know, but it is being fed into the water."  He pulled the tarp off the tank completely and realized there was another tank beside it.  He stepped closer and then jerked back.  "Shit!"


"What?" Skinner was closing in on him.  "What is it?"


Mulder looked up at him.  "I don't know."  They all stared at the second container.  It was a glass container rather than stainless steel, but it was what was floating in it that had their attention.  At first Mulder had thought it was a rock, until it moved.  The impression was of a jellyfish with green tentacles and a stone covering resembling a large shitake mushroom.  It rose and sank within some sort of fluid, but it seemed to be . . . sweating.  Small beads of an amber moisture were forming on the rock and then sliding down into the fluid.  That was what was being pumped into the stainless steel tank.


"That was never in any biology class I took," Skinner said softly.


"You obviously didn't study xeno-biology, but don't feel bad, none of us did."  Mulder turned towards the boys.  "I don't suppose it has any thoughts you can pick up?"


They both shook their heads, torn between fascination and horror as they stared at the thing.


"What do we do?" Skinner asked Mulder.


"Uh, well, I'd say this isn't something necessary for the water.  Is there really not some sort of alarm connected to this thing?"  They all looked more closely at the apparatus in front of them.  "They are arrogant.  I say we turn off the tap and not let any more of this junk get into the water."


"We'll need to stop the source too," Skinner mused as he closed the tap of the stainless steel tank, stopping the flow of whatever was in it into the municipal water supply.  He pulled the tubing up and out of the water, carefully keeping his hands away from the wet areas.


"Kill that thing.  Yeah, okay.  Any ideas on that?" Mulder looked at all of them.


"It doesn't use oxygen," Gibson offered.


"How do you know that?" Mulder asked quickly.


Gibson pointed to the small tank that was flowing into the glass tank just above the level of the fluid. 


"How do we know that's not oxygen?"


"Well, we can't be sure, but isn't that the symbol for fluoride?"


He turned to Gibson. "I believe the last class I took in chemistry was before you were born."  He looked over at Skinner.  "See why I need Scully?"


Skinner cocked his eyebrow at him.  "Wouldn't you say that anything that breaths fluoride would have a big problem with oxygen?"


"I'd think so."


"There're oxygen tanks over there." William pointed.


"Do we really want to try this?" Mulder asked.


"We really want to keep the 'soma' out of the water," Skinner replied.


"Can't argue with that," Mulder sighed.  "Okay, let's try it."  He headed toward the larger tanks and moved one over to the two tanks.  "Everyone get back."


"Mulder, why don't I - "


"Because I've already started.  Keep an eye on the guys," Mulder interrupted as he closed the valve on the fluoride tank.  He disconnected it from the glass tank as Skinner moved the boys back toward the concrete wall.  Once Mulder had removed the small fluoride tank, he glanced back at Skinner, then carefully attached the tube to the oxygen tank.  He opened it the slightest amount and saw the ripple of the fluid in the glass tank as air began to flow again.  The jellyfish had continued its calm up and down movement during all of the commotion outside of its tank, but when it reached the top again and the tip of the rock-like surface touched the oxygen, it jerked, moving rapidly down to the bottom of the tank.


"I think I'll take that as a reaction," Mulder mused, watching the thing closely, but moving back away from the tank slightly.  Almost immediately the tentacles that hung down from the jellyfish began to change color, going from the green tint toward a red hue.  "Does that mean it's getting angry?" he asked and heard Skinner harhumph in response.  He turned and grinned, but William's pointed finger caused him to look back quickly.  The beads of 'sweat' for lack of a better term were also turning red now and there was no more up and down movement.  In very little time, the thing was completely motionless at the bottom of the tank.  The beads of fluid stopped appearing on the rock like surface.




"That'd be my guess."


"We need to clean up, so it won't be noticeable that we've done anything."  Mulder quickly disconnected the oxygen tank and Gibson rolled it back over to where it had stood before.  The fluoride tank was reconnected but not turned on.  Skinner, using rags, coiled the tube from the stainless steel tank around its base and then they covered both tanks with the tarp that had covered them before.


"Let's get out of here," Skinner advised as they turned back toward the exit.


Safely back in the van, the boys were excited about what they had accomplished.  It was Skinner that spoke.  "We have to hope that it dissipates quickly.  It would be nice to have some people realize something was being done to them before 'they' get back to fix it."


"We'll get Scully out in just a couple of days and head back to North Dakota.  Stay out of their way for awhile, but maybe these guys can keep a look out for non-drugged activity," Skinner said.


"True, we need to do that, but what if we look for water treatment plants on the way, at least in the smaller area," Gibson agreed.


"Good idea.  I don't want them to lose their arrogance, but I would like to see us make some trouble for them," Mulder grinned down at William, who nodded.




They found a place where they could hide the van and hold up for a couple of days.  The waiting, this close to her was actually harder for Mulder than when they had been traveling.  Now he was having to just wait.


The first couple of days in this apartment building, they had broken into the apartments and taken what supplies they could find.   It occurred to Mulder that Scully would want medications, vitamins, things like that, so he concentrated on that kind of thing while the others handled food and whatever they deemed essential.


The apartments had been stripped now, and they waited.  It was eerie that no one was in the streets, coming or going. 


There were no more preparations they could make.  The plan had been reviewed so many times, Mulder dreamed of it and he was pretty sure the others did as well.


The day finally dawned, and William assured him that Scully had indeed received the first shower of the women in her dorm.  Small reward for being taken wherever she was scheduled to be taken tonight.  There had been no information on that front.  No one that had been taken was available for William or Gibson to read.  That gaping silence was enough to chill Mulder's blood.


As the day continued though, Mulder found himself steadying with icy resolve.  She was his and he would get her back, they would get her back.  That part of the darkness would be gone.




She was led to a door she had never used before, that led outside.  There she was placed in a line of other women dressed exactly as she was.  Had these women also reached the front of the 'line' in their dorm?  They walked toward a large heavy vehicle and again words appeared in her head, 'armored car'.  It wasn't a car, it was a truck, a large one and the back was open.  The woman at the beginning of the line was already climbing into it.  Where would they take her?  What would happen to her?  The women around her were so damn compliant; did they not realize what was happening to them?  Did they not care?


Suddenly all activity stopped.  The handlers stopped in their tracks, their faces even more blank, if that was possible.  The women didn't seem to notice or care, standing still until they were urged to move forward again. 


A movement on the far side of the truck caught her eye and a man, the man she now thought of as her husband, stepped out from behind it looking around to ensure that no one was noticing this activity and motioned for her to come to him.


She didn't hesitate, it was him, the man she had been dreaming about.  He took her hand, holding it tightly, but her grip was just as tight in return.  He and the bald man, who had remained hidden behind the truck, hurried her around a corner and toward a vehicle identical to the one they had kept her from entering.


"It's okay; we 'borrowed' this one.  Come on."


She nodded and scrambled into the back.  The little boy, his son from the dream was already there.  The young man with the limp was in the front seat.  The man she thought of as her husband climbed in beside her, and the bald man took the wheel.  They were moving before the back door was completely shut.


"Give us a few minutes," the man was speaking to the little boy and he nodded.


They were all checking the windows.  No one could see inside, but they were obviously watching to see if they were being followed.


The bald man drove carefully but swiftly, as though laws didn't apply to him.  She kept quiet; it had been the right thing to do to go with them, but . . .


After several long minutes, in which he never let go of her hand, he turned back to her.  His eyes, she'd been right about one thing, this man loved her.


He pulled her against him, burying his face in her hair.  He was murmuring something she couldn't quite get, "sully"?


He kissed her tenderly and let his fingers explore her face as though reacquainting himself with the feel of her.


"You must have a thousand questions," he finally said when she remained quiet.  "Go on, I'll try to answer them."


After a moment she nodded, she had to do this.  "What, what's my name?"


She felt the vehicle swerve slightly as the bald man looked in the mirror and the others turned to stare at her.  He was frozen in front of her.  "Scully?"


"Is that it?  Scully?"


"Oh god."  He looked at the little boy, obviously asking questions, but not speaking.  "Scully, do you know me?"


She shook her head slightly.  "I, I think you're my husband."


Relief flooded his body.  "Yes, I mean, we're together."


"Is this our son?"


"William, yes."  She looked at the young man.  "That's Gibson, Gibson Praise, he . . . works with us.  And that's Walter Skinner.  He's a very good friend."


Her hand reached for him, but didn't touch him.  "I'm Mulder."




"Fox Mulder, you call me Mulder and I call you Scully."


She looked puzzled at that, but didn't know the question to ask.


"We were partners, we worked in the FBI.  That's how we met."


"I work at the FBI?"


"You did, we both did.  We've been away from it for a while."  She didn't say anything for a moment.


"We, we left together?"


"It's a long story.  I will tell you everything, I promise, but I need you to trust me for now."


"I . . . I do."


The smile he gave her startled her, but she responded with one of her own.


He carefully took her back into his arms.  He couldn't seem to get enough of touching her, but she didn't mind.  It felt safe in his arms, and her headache had vanished at the sight of him.  She'd had it so long she hadn't realized it was a constant until his touch removed it.


He looked up, not releasing her and looked at the boy.  "Is it gone?"


The boy shook his head.  "All of her memories are still in there; they've just been . . . blocked off.  I didn't realize, I didn't think to - "


"No, it's not your fault.  No one thought to even check.  If it's still in there, we'll get it back."


She tentatively reached out and stroked the boy's hair.  "Please don't blame yourself.  I want to know you.  I'll work on it, okay?"


"Uh, actually you don't know him, at least you haven't seen him recently," Mulder offered.  "It's another thing I'll tell you."


"Who are we at war with?  Who bombed Washington?"


The man, Mulder, exchanged looks in the mirror with the bald man.  "Scully, the, the planet was invaded."




"By aliens."


She stared at him.


"Yeah, I know, we've been here before."  He managed a sick sort of smile.  "Look, it's the middle of the night.  Why don't you try to rest?  Everything will look better in the sunlight.  I promise, okay?"


As though at his instruction, she seemed to droop in front of him, too weary to do more than crook her finger toward William.  He came to her eagerly and curled up next to her smiling.  She lay her head on Mulder's thigh and was asleep before her arm completed encircling their son.


Mulder and Skinner were quiet then, each thinking their own thoughts.  Gibson avoided them both, concentrating on keeping their path clear and unobserved.  Skinner returned to the packed van they had been using.


Gibson took William and Mulder lifted Scully into his arms.  He lay her on the floor of the van on a pallet.  There was less room, but the supplies were more important than comfort.  Mulder took over the driving, giving Skinner a break, and himself some sort of control.


She didn't know him.  She thought he was her husband, and hell, he was and had wanted to be for some time.  She knew their son if only from the dreams he had sent her.  At least she'd come with him, they'd get the rest back.  They'd return to North Dakota and take the time she needed.


He heard her stir and glanced over at Skinner, asleep in the passenger seat.  He heard her talking to Gibson and turn to smile at her.  "Hungry?"  He grinned at the sound of her stomach rumbling.  "I guess you are."


Gibson offered her some food and offered his name.  Mulder, watching in the mirror saw her curiosity.  "I can read minds," Gibson said.


Before Mulder could respond, Skinner opened his eyes.  "Could we let her ease back into this?"


Mulder was still watching Scully's expression and immediately pulled the van to the side of the road.  Skinner took over the driving even as Mulder was closing the sliding door.  "Too much, huh?"


"What's going on?"


"We're on our way to a safe place."


"Why did we change cars?"


"We couldn't be sure that truck wasn't being tracked, and this one was already packed."




"With the supplies we're going to need."  At her expression he knew he had to give her more than he had so far.  He looked around, hell, everyone that could hear him already knew the story.  She got comfortable and listened.


Well, she didn't argue with him, though from her expression she wasn't what you could call convinced.


Gibson joined the conversation, explaining how she had been able to help them, as Mulder just watched her.  She was real. "You're stronger than I am."  Mulder squeezed her hand.  "Tell me what you did while we were apart.  What you remember."


She related her "adventures" such as they were.  When she was through they sat in silence until Gibson spoke quietly.  "There's a convenience store ahead.  We should stop.  It's deserted."


Mulder led them in and watched William take Scully's hand and show her the kinds of things they looked for - lighters, batteries, food that was still good.  William found a box and they loaded it with things they decided were the most important.  The others joined them after filling up the gas tank and canisters.


"We should stay here tonight," Gibson said.   "Yes, it's safe," he said before Mulder could ask.


William and Scully fixed a meal as the others cleaned up.  Scully realized that William was watching her, and she stroked his hair.  "I'm sorry I can't remember . . . "


"You do," he said quietly.  "They've just blocked you for getting to it, temporarily."


"Can you and Gibson help me get it back?"


"We don't know, but Mulder doesn't want us to try out here.  When we get to where we're going, we'll try."


"Where are we going?"


"Mulder has a place.  I've only been there once.  Gibson might have when they were in hiding."


"In hiding?"


"Don't worry about it, please.  Mulder will keep you safe, there's nothing more important to him than you."


"You're his son, our son."


William smiled.  "Yes, but he hasn't known me very long."


She started to ask more questions, but the others joined them and they ate.  When the others drifted off to sleep, Mulder led Scully to a private corner.  "You doing okay?"


"I guess so.  I want to know what's going on.  I want to remember you and Will and what happened."


"Will and Gibson say that will happen.  Maybe whatever they drugged you with hasn't worn completely off yet.  It's enough to know its all still in there.  Hey, maybe it's better if you don't remember all the times I've pissed you off or disappointed you."


"Have you ever disappointed me?"


"Too many times, I'm afraid.  Way too many times."


"When I was dreaming of you, it didn't feel that way.  It was the only time I felt secure."


He closed his eyes and pulled her close.  "We're headed north.  There's a place set up for us.  I hope we'll be safe there.  Whatever happens, we’ll be together, all of us.”


She relaxed against him.  He was right, whatever she had to face, she trusted him.  She slept in Mulder's arms that night and had no dreams.



Donna's Stories




Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.