When the man beside him got up and moved toward the front of the plane, Mulder chanced a look over to see if he could find Eddie. Yes, there he was, just a few feet away. A strange feeling came over Mulder and he tried to capture it, something about a dream he'd had just before waking -- but it was gone. He sighed, concussions were definitely not conducive to great memory.
It was dim in the cabin of the plane, but from what he could see, the boy look unharmed. Thank heavens. Mulder had grown very fond of the child in a short period of time. It struck him that it would be hard to give him back to the child authorities when this case was over. Poor kid -- shuffled from pillar to post, no family, no life, really. But maybe, if they could figure out what the hell was going on and who had targeted him and deal with it, maybe some nice couple could take him in, understand him, love him. He was only six, maybe it wasn't too late.
Provided they didn't both get killed before he had a chance at life.
The two men were talking. The one who'd stayed up front was obviously the pilot. Mulder could hear him setting flight plans with the next control tower. Just from looking around he could tell they were in a small craft, probably a private jet. Someone with money wanted the boy. But why take me, Mulder asked himself. All the other times the families had been killed and the boy had eluded the captors. What was different this time?
"I can't believe this is finally happening -- that my father's work is finally going to come to fruition," the man who'd cinched Mulder's arms said blissfully.
The pilot grunted. "It's not over yet," he muttered just loud enough that Mulder could make it out.
"But it will be, soon. And then we'll face the Coming and all will be well. Just as it was written by my father in his journals."
"Yeah," said the pilot but Mulder detected a note of skepticism. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking on Mulder's part. He didn't like the sound of this supposed 'Coming' at all.
Father, journals, Coming -- the Second Coming? None of it made any sense to Mulder and the throbbing in his head was increasing to the point where he thought he might vomit. Not a good idea, he knew, so he swallowed thickly. He strained to hear more but the voices became jumbled and he couldn't make them out clearly. Their voices became a drone that matched the engines' vibrations that were thrumming under his ear. Finally, he surrendered to the darkness once more.
Sometime later, judging by the fact that the plane no longer seemed to be in flight, but was quiet and stationary, Mulder was dragged into consciousness as they pulled him up and frogmarched him down the stairs. He looked around, searching for Eddie, but couldn't see the boy.
"What did you do with him? Where's the boy?" he rasped frantically.
One of his captors smiled grimly. "You don't need to worry about the boy. He's safe. You need to shut up and not cause any trouble. It'll only make it worse for you."
Never one to take a kidnapper at his word, Mulder was still relieved to hear that Eddie was all right. He looked around again, trying to figure out where they were. It was dark and there wasn't much light around, save for some sort of floodlights in the distance. He could make out some mountains on the horizon, but no buildings, no town or city of any sort in any direction.
"Where are we?" Mulder tried again, knowing the answer wouldn't do him much good with his hands tied behind him.
The man who had answered him the first time smiled brightly. "This place? It's where you're gonna be executed," he said happily and laughed with his companion at the joke. "But don't worry. That won't happen for a couple of days. Gotta do things by the book, ya know."
Mulder stopped asking questions then and tried to figure out what the hell was going on. 'By the book' was a common phrase, but the way the man said it sounded like there really was a guide, some sort of plan or agenda that they were following -- to the letter. These two men weren't the same ones on the plane, so that meant at least four people were involved, possibly more. Did all this tie in with that journal the man on the plane was ranting about?
They were walking toward the floodlights, and as they approached, Mulder saw a number of shanty type buildings, trailers and tents. It looked more like an archeological dig than anything else. The floodlights surrounded an area where a huge hole had been excavated, the piles of dirt circling the rim of the hole. They skirted the hole as they walked to the other side. Mulder couldn't see down into the opening because a tent hid the actual excavation.
"What's down there? What are you looking for?" Mulder asked, but this time the man just shook his head and refused to answer. They arrived at a wooden shed and Mulder was thrown inside. He heard them padlock the door securely and he was left alone in the dark.
Mulder sat up and leaned against the rough wooden wall of the shed as he tried to take in what was happening. Eddie was safe, or as safe as he could be under the circumstances. By now, Scully would know what had taken place -- unless . . . Oh, God, if they'd gone in and hurt her --
Mulder couldn't let himself travel down that line of thought. There would have been no reason to go back to the house and get Scully if what they wanted was Eddie. He shook his head. Not the time to buy trouble, he was in enough as it was.
So why Eddie? It all came back to that. And why hadn't their captors taken Eddie any of the other times they'd attacked if he was their ultimate goal? Eddie had hidden, yes, but in a closet. Anyone with half a brain would have looked in the closet of the kid's room, right? It made no sense, and Mulder's head was starting to pound. As much as he didn't want to let his guard down, there was little he could do with his hands secured behind him with plastic tie-downs. He leaned his head back. Just a few minutes to rest. Then he could think clearly and try to figure a way out of this mess.
Mulder was on the beach again. This time, he looked for the boy. "Where are you? William, where are you?" he called but the words came back to him with the wind coming off the surf.
"William, if you're still here, answer me!" he shouted, pacing around the large sand structure. It was enormous and the sides were smoothed and even. It seemed triangular in shape but it was the size of a large house. He couldn't see the top of it from where he stood. He glanced behind him. There were rocks further ashore -- maybe if he got on the rocks he could see down on to the top of the sand structure.
The rocks were sharp and creviced and he had to be careful as he scrambled to the top. He was out of breath was he reached the highest point. Turning around so that he could look down on the sand structure, his eyes widened and he sucked in a breath. It was the space ship he could remember them building back in other dreams, but this was not like the other sand castles built by father and son. This was enormous and had lights just under a thin layer of sand that peeked out in growing darkness. Mulder got down on his knees so he could lean forward and get a better look, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to his left and saw the boy.
"William," he said and smiled, hugging the boy to him. "I thought you weren't here."
"I'm always here," the boy replied, displaying a gap-toothed smile. The boy quickly hugged Mulder back. "Can you hear me?"
"Yes, I can hear you. And I can see you," Mulder smiled back at the child. "I can see that, too," he said, pointing to the sand structure. "What is it? Do you know?"
"They think it's supposed to be mine, but it isn't. It's from a bad place. I don't want it." William was shaking his head and frowned. "We need to blow it up."
Mulder snorted. "Well, Will, I don't see how we're going to be able to do that. We'd need explosives, and all sorts of stuff to blow it up. Can't we just kick at the sand and the waves will take it at high tide?"
The boy shook his head and frowned now at Mulder. "No, it's only sand on the outside," he said, speaking sternly as if to a small child. "It's metal under that. It came a long time ago from somewhere far away. We have to destroy it, or it will destroy us."
"Destroy us? Who? You and me?" Mulder asked, having a hard time following what the boy was trying to tell him.
"No, us -- all of us. The whole planet, all of us!"
"Will, I don't know -- "
The boy took his hand and held it. "You have to believe me. You're the only one who does or ever will," he said, staring into Mulder's eyes. "When you wake up, you'll remember parts of this dream. But you have to work fast, we have to hurry. We only have a few hours till it's light."
It was almost dawn. Scully sat staring down at her cup of coffee as Drummy stalked, she couldn’t call it pacing, around the kitchen.
“You’re fuckin’ joking, right?”
She didn’t bother to answer this time. She’d thought Agent Doggett was ‘resistant’ when they had worked together. Of course he’d had a little more time to work toward the idea.
Drummy took the seat across from her, again. “You think these cult members, the ones that want ‘aliens’ to take over the planet want to kill Mulder and worship this kid. Now I can understand them wanting to kill - nevermind. Where the hell are we supposed to start looking for these people? Is there some cloud they hang out on?”
“I don’t know where they went. I’ve seen these . . . ships in Calgary and the Ivory Coast - “
“You’ve really seen these things, with your own eyes.”
Scully took a deep breath, eyes closed. “And in the Antarctic.”
Drummy shook his head.
"You saw nothing?" he asked again and she squeezed her hands into fists before she answered.
"Nothing, Agent Drummy. They were gone when I woke up. I checked the house, and I don't believe anyone even came inside. I believe E-Eddie panicked when he realized someone was here and ran to the tree house that Mulder had shown him earlier."
"Dr. Scully, they obviously had a car, which you did not see. There's no way to get a description out and we don't we have a direction."
"So we try another route!" she stood then, Special Agent Dana Scully would not be browbeaten by any man, agent or not. Her eyes widened. "There's a small private air strip about 15 miles northwest of here. We need to contact them, see if anyone's taken off in the last hour."
Drummy only hesitated a moment, then yanked his phone from his pocket. She paced, her mind grabbing and rejecting ideas at a furious pace. She didn't dare slow down enough to feel right now, she had to think.
"I've got a deputy headed over there. I couldn't raise anyone by phone. The damn thing's probably closed."
"Let's go." She was already moving toward the door. Drummy had no option but to follow.
His cell phone rang before they were a mile from the gate. "What's the name on the truck?" he asked as Scully's head swiveled toward him. "Fuck. We're on the way."
"What?" she demanded.
"The truck that met me here, the men that installed - "
"Damn it!" She cut him off, knowing the rest of the sentence. "Was anyone at the airstrip?"
"Yeah, but it's only one man. He'd probably gone to the can when I called."
"Hurry." She seemed to settle back in the seat, but Drummy could see her knuckles were white.
The poor slob on duty at the tiny air strip was looking even more confused when Scully and Drummy burst into his office a few minutes later. Posted speeds be damned.
"Yeah, I cleared them. There was no traffic, not this time of night," he finished answering the deputy's question.
"What's your name?" Scully asked.
"Dwight, uh Dwight Nelson."
"Dwight, did they file a flight plan?" Scully asked before Drummy could.
"Well sure, I don't let anyone take off from here without one. I'm not getting my ass - "
"Where is it?" she cut him off and came around his desk when he didn't move fast enough for her.
"Here, right here." He thrust the paper at her.
Her eyes raced down the page. "They were headed to St. Louis to refuel, final destination Jordan, New Mexico. Five hours twenty . . . Where the hell is Jordan, New Mexico?"
The poor man jerked open a drawer before she could demand it and pulled out a handful of maps, flipping through them rapidly. He spotted the New Mexico one and yanked it open, spreading it out on his desk. They scanned it together and she spotted it first, her finger poking it for Drummy.
"Who was the plane registered to?"
"Just a second." Dwight grabbed up his log book. "Uh. Hopeson, Hopeson, Inc."
"What do they do?" she demanded.
"I, I don't know." He actually quailed at the look Scully threw him.
"Come on," this was directed at Drummy who never thought to question her authority. He tossed back a thank you toward the deputy and Dwight and was racing down the stairs after the diminutive ex-agent.
"Where are we going?" he asked as he entered the SUV.
"Back to the house. I have to make some phone calls, and I want a land line."
They made it back in record time and he followed her inside. She picked up the phone and dialed an old familiar number. "Danny? It's Dana Scully. I'm sorry to - Yes, I need your help." She nodded though the man couldn't see. "Mulder. Okay, I need to know about a company called Hopeson, Inc. possibly out of New Mexico. Whatever you can find out. I know. . . thank you." She hung up and turned to Drummy. "This won't take long, I need to call Skinner."
"Danny Valido, he works at the Bureau." At Drummy's vacant expression she continued. "He's helped us out a lot over the years."
"He'll just . . . find stuff for you?"
"Don't analyze it, Drummy. Not everyone thought Mulder was crazy, especially not the ones who really looked at what we were doing."
Drummy winced slightly at that but didn't respond. He wanted to ask her what she wanted him to work on, but she wasn't even an agent, why did he feel like he should be following her orders?
"Sir? Yes, he's here. We just got back from that small air strip just north of here. They flew them out of there - "
"You don't know that for sure," Drummy spoke, but Scully ignored him.
"I've got Danny looking up the company. Have you ever heard of Hopeson, Inc? Me neither. They were flying to New Mexico. Could there be another . . . Thank you." She hung up and turned to face Drummy.
"What's he doing?"
"He's going to meet us at the airport. He'll have the tickets. Do you have your overnight with you?"
"My . . . are you kidding? We're taking off for New Mexico with no more than -"
"Yes. I'm going to pack."
"I, I left a, a friend . . ."
"You left a woman in your bed?" His face darkened. "Well I hope you left the money on the dresser, because we don't have time to go by there."
"I don't pay -" but she was already up the stairs. He just stood and glared.
She was back downstairs with a gym bag in just minutes. He started to speak, but the phone rang. She picked it up before it could ring a second time. "Hello?"
"Scully? I think I have your information. Hopeson, Inc. is a mining company. They used to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Strunghold Mining." He hesitated at her gasp. "I picked right, huh?"
"Yeah. Where are they based?"
"New Mexico. Right now they're on a large job near a small town called - "
"Jordan," Scully interrupted.
"Yeah. See, you don't really need me."
"Hardly. I didn't have a clue about . . . What kind of job?"
"Not sure, but they've leased a lot of heavy equipment. Jordan's about half way between Albuquerque and Amarillo. There's no major construction project that I can find, and it's in the middle of nowhere. What's going on?"
"I'm not sure."
"But it's an X-File?"
Drummy saw the slight curve of her lips, not knowing the subject of the conversation.
"Yeah, it is."
"Cool. Call me anytime."
"Thanks, Danny." She hung up and turned back to Drummy, all business again. "You ready?"
He merely looked exasperated, so she headed to the door, holding it open waiting for him. He huffed and moved past her with ill grace. At the car she held out her hand. "Do you want me to drive?"
He blinked at that and she saw the chauvinist peek out. "That's okay."
She opened the passenger door and was already buckled by the time he seated himself. "Look, we know they're planning to land in St. Louis. Why don't we have them detained until we can get there. The local -"
"No. We're talking about fanatics. The police aren't equipped for this. They have Mulder and the boy. Their safety -"
"From what you said, it sounds more like they want Mulder than the boy. It's not making sense."
"When Walter joins us, we can bring you up to speed. Just hurry."
Drummy huffed at that, but turned toward DC.
Mulder woke again with a dry mouth and a growling stomach. He squinted in the dim light of the shed. By scooting over, he could peer out between a couple of the rough boards and see the flood lights in the distance. It gave him an idea. But first he had to get his hands to the front.
He'd done it before, but after six years he was decidedly out of practice. By the time his hands were in front of him, he was dripping with sweat and nearly out of breath. He let his arms rest a minute while he recovered. They'd tied his wrists, but his fingers were free. It didn't take him long to find what he was looking for -- a sharp metal edge along the hinge of the shed door. Being careful not to slice open his wrist, he sawed at the plastic tie until he cut it neatly in two.
It felt wonderful to roll his shoulders and work his arms, but he only allowed himself a few minutes of the luxury. He moved to the back of the shed and tried to see out in the darkness. From his vantage point, as minimal as it was, he couldn't see any other lights behind the shed. He assumed that meant there weren't any other tents or buildings in that direction. He felt along the boards until he found one that was loose enough for his purposes. It took some work, but in short order he had a respectable hole in the side of the shed just at the base. It was a tight squeeze, but he made it out.
Mulder let his eyes adjust to the darkness. When he'd lived in the city, the blackness of the country often left him breathless. Now, after years of living in a rural area where the nearest light source was their back porch light, and the stars spread out above him every night like a blanket, he had no problem picking out landmarks and targets. He found a cluster of tents huddled near the collection of floodlights and headed in that direction.
There didn't appear to be any guards around, which he found rather odd for a kidnapping. In fact, it seemed that everyone in the camp was asleep. The problem was the tents themselves. They were dome tents, family camping tents and all of them were closed up tight against the chill night air. One thing for certain, he was cold and he could see frost on the ground as he walked.
There were half a dozen tents, each large enough to sleep four to five people if they crammed in like mummies. He had no idea where Eddie could be among them. He needed a weapon, something he could use to overpower anyone that might wake up and find him there.
He searched around the site. There was an earthmover, not exactly a delicate piece of machinery. Whatever they were doing, they weren't concerned about destroying possible artifacts in the process. He wanted to get closer to the floodlights, close enough to see into the hole. He moved in that direction but was suddenly hit with a tsunami of sound waves. They crashed over him, dropping him to the ground like a rock. He clamped his hands over his ears, trying to keep his brain from exploding from the vibrations. He found he could crawl and he inched his way away from the direction of the hole.
When he managed to get about twenty feet farther back, the sound ceased and the dead quiet was almost frightening. He sat up, gasping for breath. What the hell had just happened? He looked around, trying to figure out why no one else had come running out of the tents, why no one else heard that horrible sound. Everything was completely still and then he heard a loud snore coming from one of the nearest tents. Could it be that they hadn't heard that screech?
The search for a weapon became his priority, and then he'd go looking for Eddie. He found a length of wood, a two by four piece of lumber about the size of a baseball bat. Not that great going up against armed gunmen, but he couldn't remember seeing a gun on the two guys in the plane or the two goons who tossed him in the shed. If he maintained the element of surprise, the makeshift bat would be enough to knock someone unconscious. Now he had to find Eddie.
He crept around the tents, hoping to hear something. When he felt the familiar humming sensation, he smiled. As he made his way to the front of the tent, he heard the zipper to the door start to lower and he froze. Holding his breath, he waited at the side, weapon at the ready. When Eddie's head stuck out the door, he exhaled in a chuckle. "C'mon kiddo," he whispered.
The boy smiled at Mulder and came the rest of the way out of the tent. Carefully, he zipped the enclosure shut and then straightened. He held out his hand and Mulder gratefully took it.
"Let's get out of here," Mulder whispered.
"No, wait. We can't go yet," Eddie whispered back.
Mulder kept walking, tugging lightly on the boy's hand. "Yes, we can and we are. Don't argue about this, Eddie."
"No!" the boy said aloud and Mulder slammed to a halt, hushing him with a finger to his lips.
"They'll wake up soon. I don't think they have guns, so if we can get ahead of them -- "
"We have to destroy it!" the boy insisted, not listening to what Mulder was saying. "If we don't, it will happen!"
Not wanting another incident like those he'd experienced back at the house, Mulder put his hands on his hips and stared down at the child. "Eddie, what are you talking about?"
"That!" With a pointed finger, Eddie showed the way to the floodlights and the large tent. "C'mon. Look at it."
Feeling almost as if he were in a dream, Mulder followed the boy at a trot the some 100 yards over to the area of the floodlights.
"We'll be seen," Mulder warned.
"Come around here," Eddie reasoned, and ran about the perimeter to the far side of the lights, and into a gap in the tent.
Mulder sighed in disgust. He should grab the boy up, gag him and run, instead he allowed the boy to lead him to the side of the hole closest to the tents. Even inside the tent the floodlights gave him enough light to see, just no understanding of what he was seeing.
"What is it?" Mulder breathed, looking at something more fantastic than he'd ever seen. It was exactly as he'd dreamed for years -- a structure of some sort but totally foreign to his eyes. Foreign . . . alien.
Though the actual size was hidden beneath thousands of tons of dirt and rock, Mulder could see gleaming metal. There were protrusions coming up from four sides to form an open circle. He detected markings, possible writings on the surface of the craft. He remembered back to what Scully had told him of the craft she'd found in Africa so many years ago. Could it be?
"It's their's," Eddie said simply. "There's a bunch of them. But if we destroy it, they'll know we can destroy them. They'll go away."
"Just like that?" Mulder questioned, not taking his eyes off the top of the structure.
Eddie shrugged. "Yeah. Just like that."
They were both staring down at the hole when someone grabbed first Eddie and then Mulder. Mulder fought back, but when he saw they held Eddie, too, he stopped.
"I told you that shed wouldn't hold him," the one holding Eddie said to the others. The four were holding Mulder. "Make sure he doesn't get away again," he said as he pulled Eddie back to the tents.
One of the four smiled, and in the stark glow of the floodlights his eyes chilled Mulder to the bone. "Just what I've been waiting for," he rasped. One of the men grabbed Mulder's shoulders, holding his arms firmly behind his back while the other three proceeded to use him for a punching bag.
The first guy had knuckles of titanium and used them mostly on Mulder's midsection. When one particular punch hit a rib on his right side dead on, the crack was audible. His tormentor smiled and continued. When 'Oscar de la Hoya' tired, 'George Foreman' took his place. Mulder lost track after that and couldn't really say who finally sent him into oblivion.
Walter met them at the gate. "There's been a small change in plans. Agent Hotchner has a case in LA. We're going to hitch a ride with them and after they're dropped off, the pilot will take us to Albuquerque. It'll be faster."
Scully nodded and followed him, trailed by Drummy who was muttering again.
The private jet caused her eyebrow to rise, but she kept quiet. Thinking of those roach infested motel rooms she and Mulder had enjoyed wouldn't do any good now. She took a seat beside Walter after quick introductions and they were cleared for takeoff, no doubt pissing off a few commercial airliners.
After a few minutes, Walter excused himself and left her side. Almost immediately, she felt someone standing beside his seat. "I'm Agent Morgan, Derek. Would you mind . . . "
She smiled and he took the seat Walter had vacated. "I don't mean to bother you, but you were Mulder's partner, weren't you?"
I still am, she thought but only nodded.
"I've studied him. We're good." His hand encompassed the team on board the plane. "But he's the gold standard. I've read his profiles." The attractive man shook his head. "He was - "
"Spooky?" Scully said softly.
Dereck chuckled. "Yeah."
They both looked up as another young man joined them. He held out his hand to Scully. "Spencer Reid."
She nodded as he took the seat opposite her. "I've studied Agent Mulder as well. The profiles he developed on Roche, Boggs, Barnett - "
"I remember," she interrupted him softly. "You seem to have a very good team here, that's important. You can rely on one another. Just be very careful that you look after yourselves while you're doing this."
"Bill Patterson," Derek said.
She nodded. "This is not a long term career, especially if you work . . . alone."
They talked for a while, mostly them asking her questions. She smiled internally, Mulder the icon, she'd have to tell him about this. He'd pretend it didn't matter, but he'd be pleased nonetheless that his work was the object of study. Derek caught the yawn she tried to stifle and looked over at Spence. "You should get some rest. I don't know what you've been pulled in on, but since you have AD Skinner with you, I imagine it's big. Good luck."
"Thank you." She shook both of their hands and then looked around. She spotted Walter beside Drummy across the plane and behind her. Walter's eyes were closed and he had reclined his seat, resting while he could. She followed his example, grateful that the two young men had taken her mind off of what she faced for a little while. She needed to be fresh when they arrived.
Mulder woke up sometime later. The sun was beating down on the shed -- this one a metal outbuilding with just a small crack at the door and one small screen near the top. No windows, but the amount of light the crack and screen let in were more than sufficient to see. Unfortunately, it was totally insufficient to allow for air circulation. It was easily somewhere near 100 degrees in the shed.
His left eye was swollen shut and his left side was burning -- at least those were the top of the list. His whole body was hurting. There was blood on his shirt, he figured from his nose but it didn't feel broken. Damn. Sweat was streaming down his face and stinging his one open eye. From the little he could tell, he figured it was somewhere near noon. It was going to be a long afternoon till sunset. He let his head fall back down to the floor with a painful thud.
He was so thirsty. Breathing hurt. Keeping his eyes open hurt. He thought back to just a few months ago when he was still a wanted man, living like a hermit in the back country of Virginia. Those were the days, he sighed internally.
He had to think but his head hurt far too much to make any sense of the little he knew. And in the back of his mind there was that hum again. He closed his eyes and concentrated as much of his energy as he could on that hum. After a while, it started to sound like something. He willed his body to relax and just let his mind follow the hum. It would lead him somewhere.
This time it wasn't the beach, it was the tree house in the woods. Eddie sat with his back against the far wall, knees drawn to his chest, tears running down his face. "They hurt you," he accused.
"It's okay, sport, just a bloody nose. I've had 'em before," Mulder assured the boy as he climbed the rest of the way up the ladder to join him on the floor of the little structure. "Are you okay? They didn't hurt you, did they?" Mulder asked, looking the boy over, feeling his hair for an indication of a cut or bump. He didn't know what he'd do if he found one, but it was something Scully always did to him.
"No. They didn't hurt me. They're afraid of me," Eddie said glumly. "And they think I don't understand them so they talk around me. They're planning to kill you tomorrow."
Mulder sighed. "We just won't let that happen," he answered. He knew Scully was on her way. He just had to hold out until she arrived.
The flight from LA to Albuquerque with just the three of them was actually less comfortable than with the whole team. "So, now that we're alone, what the hell are we heading into? What is it about this kid?" Drummy demanded.
Walter looked over at Scully, giving her the lead. She took a deep breath. "I told you Mulder and I were . . . familiar with this group. What I didn't tell you was that 'this kid', Eddie, is my son, Mulder's son, William."
She watched the expressions race across Drummy's face. She also saw the memory of the rumors he had heard regarding them, probably the wagers that had been placed on her pregnancy. "William was taken when he was a few months old by this same cult. Agent Reyes and I were able to track him down and rescue him, but the cult members were . . . killed when the ship I told you about took off. After that I knew I couldn't keep him safe. I . . . I put him up for adoption. I didn't know where William was, I, I thought he was placed with a family to keep him safe."
"That worked out well," Drummy said dryly, then realized his mistake when he met Skinner's eyes. "Sorry. How did they find him?"
"I don't know. I thought he was away from . . ."
"Look, I'm sorry - "
Scully shook her head. "We don't have time for that. We have to find out where they've taken them and get them back."
Skinner sat forward then. "We'll rent a car in Albuquerque and drive to Jordan. We don't want to make much of a presence and there's not exactly a Ritz Carlton in Jordan. We're going to need to reconnoiter, find where this major construction Danny mentioned is. I'm concerned about cover while we're looking around. The terrain is flat and I'm sure if they're who we think they are, there will be guards posted. Scully, are you armed?"
After a moment she nodded. "It's in my bag."
"I don't suppose you've been target practicing lately."
"Uh, yes, I have. When Mulder . . . it felt like something I needed to do."
Skinner grinned. "You beat him again, didn't you?"
Her cheeks pinked and she didn't bother to answer. Drummy just watched them both. Skinner rose from his seat. "I'm not dressed correctly for this. If you'll excuse me." He grabbed up his bag and retreated to the lavatory.
"Dr. Scully, are you okay?"
She met Drummy's eyes. "We have to do this. We know they're more than willing to kill for what they want, and they have Mulder and our son. I have to be okay and we have to do this."
He nodded and settled back with an extra laptop the team had on board. Pulling up Google Earth, he started checking out the area around Jordan.
It was desolate, and hot. They checked into the small motor court in Ragland, the closest town to Jordan. Skinner and Scully checked in as a married couple, Drummy taking a room down the hall. He and she switched and everyone took quick showers. The hottest part of the day had passed, so after changing, they took a ride toward Jordan.
They spotted the construction site from a distance. They could see the standard green construction fences, but no good reason for them. This wasn't a place people would be walking past, certainly no sidewalks to protect.
"That's one hell of a mound of dirt they've moved," Drummy mentioned. He was right, even at this distance they could see the dirt rise above the fence in the distance. It was one damn large site.
"Okay, we need to head back. If we're just tourists driving around, we don't want to get any closer. They have to have guards posted. We need them to think we've taken a wrong turn." Skinner pulled over to the side, to make a U-turn.
"Wait," Scully said. Skinner looked over at her and saw her hand lightly rubbing her brow. Nasopharyngeal mass - the words came to him as he knew they came to Mulder at her slightest twinge.
"Wait a minute." The buzz, it was so faint, but was this what Mulder had been hearing, feeling? *William? Is that you?* The buzz hyped up at her question to near pain, but it was welcomed. *William, we're here. We'll find some way to get you and Mulder out. I'm your mother and I'm going to rescue you.*
She turned to Skinner. "This is definitely the right place. Head back to the motel."
"What happened?" Drummy leaned forward from the back seat.
Scully looked out the windshield. "William told me."
There was dead silence from the back seat as Skinner finished his turn and headed back toward Ragland.
"We need to eat and get some rest. We can't do anything out here tonight, but maybe we can learn what they want people to think is going on."
Skinner pulled up to motel and Drummy jumped out. Then Skinner and Scully headed to the bar and grill across the street. They entered and took a booth to the side, then ordered dinner. Skinner watched as Drummy entered and looked around. He spotted another African-American male at the far end of the bar and headed that way. He took the stool next to him.
"Don't see many brothers out here," the stranger said.
"Didn't think so. I'm Mose."
"Luther," they bumped hands and Drummy ordered a beer and a burger.
After taking a long pull on his beer, Drummy looked back at Luther. "I just finished up a construction gig in Texas and I liked the area. You know of any work around here? I saw what looked like a mother of a job west of here."
Luther chuckled. "Yeah, it's a mother all right. That's where I am. Pay's not bad, but the company in charge is rat fucked. They're probably hiring day labor. If you like I can take you out there in the morning. If you don't get on, you'd have to find your own way back to town."
"That'd be cool. What'ja mean rat fucked?"
"The head guy, he's young, took over from his father when he died, I hear. That was before my time, but how he's makin' a profit . . . " Luther shook his head. "None of my business as long as my paycheck don't bounce."
"What're you building anyway?"
"That's just it, we ain't building, we're excavating. I don't know, maybe he's found a dinosaur graveyard or something."
Drummy looked up as his dinner was placed in front of him. "Thanks," he murmured to the waitress and picked up the burger. After a couple of bites, he turned back to Luther. "Hey, I don't care as long as the pay's decent. I'm staying at that excuse for a motel across the street. If you're serious, I'd like a ride out there tomorrow."
"Sure. Just meet me here at six thirty. We get as early a start as we can, before the heat, ya know?"
Drummy nodded, his mouth full. Hot damn! He'd get inside that fence and look around at least. So the boss was crazy, well that fit into Scully's cult.
Skinner and Scully had also ordered dinner and since the waitress seemed friendly enough, they started a conversation about the area.
"I was born here, that's about the only way you find this place," Janie grinned down at them. "Don't get many tourists, unless they're on their way to Carlsbad or on to California. It's picked up some lately, due to all the work over near Jordan."
"Yeah," Skinner said, "we drove past that on the way here. Looks like a huge site. What's going on?"
Janie shrugged. "Diggin' is all I know. This Hopeson Company came in nearly a year ago with all this big earth movin' equipment. The people runnin' the place don't come over very often, but the workers like to come here and eat occasionally, just for something different."
"Just digging? Aren't they building something?"
"Well they sure haven't yet, but they've moved a ton of dirt," she laughed again. "Probably more like ten or twelve tons. It's a mining company, so we thought they'd found something, but I haven't heard what it might be. Doesn't look like we're gonna get rich off of it in any case. You want some more coffee?"
They both took another cup. "Are there caverns around here? You know, like Carlsbad?"
"I've sure never seen or heard of any. That might bring in some tourists, so if that's what they're looking for, I wish them luck." She was called to the kitchen then.
Janie was busy after that, so they finished their dinner and left without acknowledging Drummy. Back in Skinner's room Scully sank into the chair. "We need to get out there."
"I know, but we can't do anything tonight. We don't know the terrain, what surveillance they might have. Besides, you've been up since, what one this morning? You have to get some sleep."
She looked at him incredulously. "You don't really expect me to - "
"Yes, I do. There're three of us here to handle this and we all need to be at the top of our game. When Drummy gets here we'll find out if he's learned anything, then we'll come up with a plan. Are you still able to . . . to feel William?"
She shook her head in despair. "I can't do what Mulder does. The artifact had no effect on me."
"Okay, but you know that William is out there. We have to assume that Mulder is with him." Before she could answer there was a knock on the door. Skinner pulled his gun and looked out the peephole. "Drummy," he said softly and opened the door, staying completely out of sight.
Drummy stepped inside and shut the door behind him. "Well, I have an in for the morning. My new buddy is going to pick me up at the bar and grill and take me in to see if they have any day labor. At least I can get inside the fence."
"Great. You can look around and contact us. Scully and I can park the car in that dip we saw, it won't be completely out of sight, but at least less obvious than just parked. We'll come in on the far side of the dirt mound. That should keep us out of sight of the main area. You'll need to make sure your gun stays out of sight."
"I'll use my ankle holster."
"Go on to bed, Scully. Rest if you can't sleep. We don't know what we're going to have to do tomorrow, so we need to be ready."
She nodded and rose to her feet reluctantly. "I just feel like we're running out of time."
Skinner put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed, but didn't bother with platitudes. Scully hurried down the hall to her room, she didn't spot anyone moving at all outside, but could hear music from the bar they had visited earlier.
She quickly dressed for bed and stretched out. Skinner was right, she needed to turn this off and rest. "Mulder, William, I'm here, I'll find you." She rolled over, pulling the covers tightly around her.
*You need to hurry. They've hurt him bad and it's going to get worse. They want to kill him and use me. Help us.*
She sat straight up, the dark was overwhelming and she was disoriented for an instant. Then she remembered where she was. "William?" It felt both silly and comforting to say his name aloud in the empty room. "Tell me what I need to do. Please, I want to help you, tell me what I need." She lay there quietly, but nothing came to her. She finally slept again from sheer exhaustion and that's when he appeared to her.
*You fight me when you're awake. Stay asleep and listen. They're building something to hurt Mulder, they're going to hurt him tomorrow and he's already hurt bad. Bring Walter and that other guy and get us out. Mulder thinks you're going to need guns. It has to be different from the last time, when I was baby. They got away then, I can't let them go again. You need to get here and get Mulder out of the way so I can work. Don't forget.*
This time she didn't wake, sleeping on through the night, taking the rest her body desperately needed.
When she came awake the next morning, she was on her feet before she processed waking. William had talked to her last night. They would need guns and Mulder was already injured and it would be worse today. Damn.
She took one of the shortest showers on record and was dressed before Skinner called her cell phone. "Scully?"
"I'm ready. Mulder's injured. We need to get moving."
"How . . . never mind. Drummy's leaving now to meet his friend. We need to be behind the traffic going to the site to work. The rental car will stick out, but we'll be close behind them. Come on down to the room."
She hung up and grabbed up her bag, taking it with her down to Skinner's room. Drummy spoke, then headed for the bar. Skinner could bring her up to date on their plans.
"Do you want to get something to eat?" He asked after Drummy shut the door.
Skinner gave a grim smile. "I think we're going to need some sustenance. It might be a long day."
She nodded, hating the time it felt like they were wasting, but followed him to the car.
After a filling breakfast and the emptying of the parking lot, Skinner turned toward Jordan. "We'll have to hike from where we leave the car to the 'back' of the site. Drummy should be calling soon with directions and hopefully the layout of the place."
Scully looked down at her watch again and kept quiet.
Drummy and Luther pulled into the employees' parking and got out. "That looks strange," Luther said watching a large group of people near the entrance.
"They're not letting people go to their stations. Wonder if somethin' happened to the equipment?"
Drummy looked around and saw what the man was talking about. Everyone seemed to be clumped up at the entrance and no equipment was moving. Not good. They approached the crowd and Luther spoke to one of the men milling around.
"Don't know. They're telling people to go home, that there's no work today. They want the site cleared."
"We drove all the way out here. Do you see any vandalism or anything? This don't make sense." Luther was squinting, trying to see into the construction site.
"Tell me about it. Looks like they're setting up a pay station. Damn, I need this fuckin' job."
Drummy looked over where Luther pointed and saw a small building with what looked like a drive up window. There were people inside, and as he watched the workers began lining up.
"Looks like you made a trip out here for nothin'," Luther said to Drummy.
"Hey, I appreciate the lift."
"Hang out and after I get my pay, I can take you back."
"That'd be great. Go ahead and get in line. I'll hang out here." Drummy watched Luther and the other man join the line, which was not moving fast at all. Scully had been right, something was happening and he needed to get inside.
He moved to the side, hopefully out of the way and unobtrusive. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Skinner's phone.
"I don't have a lot of time. There's no work here today, their paying off everyone and sending them away. No equipment's moving."
"They don't want witnesses," Skinner said, glancing over at Scully. "Can you get in?"
"Workin' on it. You better hurry and go wide, away from the entrance."
Drummy broke the connection and pocketed his phone. Looking around, he began making his way to a large bulldozer parked closest to the line. There was a disturbance in line and several of the guards moved in that direction. Drummy took immediate advantage of the situation and moved himself quickly but quietly behind the large machine. Moving carefully, watching everywhere, he made his way deeper into the area, closer to the actual excavation. He spotted something they hadn't been able to see from outside. There was a canopy, no, a tent over the actual hole, hiding whatever they had uncovered from sight.
There were obviously people under the tent, so he avoided it moving around to what seemed to be semi-permanent living quarters. There were trailers here and several storage buildings. The sound of hammering startled him and he ducked behind a dump truck. Who was building something?