Title:  This is a Test
Authors: Moseley and Proto
STPteach@aol.com
vmoseley@fgi.net
Spoilers:  Requiem
Summary:  Post Requiem from Mulder's perspective and someone else.
Disclaimer:  Carter, bite me...and me
Archives: yes, to those sites already granted approval, as well as Ephemeral 
and Gossamer, the Pyramid, and the Garden.
Author's notes:

Vickie:  OK this took us all summer, but we finally got it all together.
We started this with high hopes for the new season.  At the time, we
actually thought it would all work out.  Now, I for one, am not so sure.
But fan fic lives on and so does this story.  Just in case anyone else
forgets what the focus of the show really is.  
But enough soapbox!  As always, it's a pleasure writing with Mrs. P.  We
had some rough times trying to decide if anyone else could interpret our
actions, but in the end, we came up with a story that I feel is unlike any
of the other Requiem Post Eps out there.  So, sit down, get comfortable,
and enjoy this one.  

Susan:  This one started out as a labor of love for me, but turned into the 
story that almost wasn't.  As my partner in crime can attest to, I was having 
my doubts there for awhile as to whether this was all worth the effort.  I'd 
found it difficult to read any X-Files fanfic for a good long while, much 
less write any of it.  The disparaging remarks that have been flung around 
all summer regarding the show itself, the lack of Mulder, the emergence of 
the Doggett character (see?  I can say the name...<sigh>) and his *chemistry* 
with Scully, in addition to the various controversies within our own little 
world of fanFicdom, well, it made me wonder if I really wanted to put anymore 
effort into something that so few seemed to be able to express an 
appreciation for.  
    And then I got to talkin' with the gal whose note are above me, and I 
remembered why it's worth it.  I've made some wonderful friends through my 
Philer experiences, and I don't want to lose them.  Vickie has been my 
supporter, my mentor, and my therapist when it came to figuring out what 
exactly I was feeling about our beloved show.  So, I thank her for her 
patience and understanding, as well as incredible ideas and willingness to 
have ideas bounce back and forth.  I agree with Vickie- I think this one is a 
little different from all the rest.  We like it.  I hope you agree.

Special thanks to all who took a gander before we turned it loose onto to the 
public.  Thanks to Sally, Dawn, and Ten for all of your enthusiasm and 
comments!

Vickie & Susan
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is a Test
By Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com) &
Vickie Moseley (vmoseley@fgi.com)


The Holy Ones have written "Victory is ours.  We have only to live long 
enough to attain it."  I have never felt that more deeply than I do right 
now.  Tonight, I reached a long-held goal.  The little grebe flew into my 
hand.  He came to me, of his own accord.  I didn't believe it possible.  Our 
cause has just received a bounty of untold worth.  All I have left to do is 
get him to the battle alive.  

When he saw me, I could see the fear in his eyes.  But this one is so 
different.  Humans cower in their fear.  They avoid your eyes, they tremble.  
He stared at me, eyes wide open.  He had fear, but the courage was 
unmistakable.  The Holy Ones were right, as always, may they be praised.  He 
is the one we have sought.  But the journey to victory is as hard as has been 
foretold.  And it's only just beginning.

I know I have spoken to you of the sickness these human beings acquire when 
first on the dark journey.  We have no way to resolve this sickness, our
healing abilities have no effect on it.  So we wait, and watch.  Not all of
them survive it.  I remember this one's mate, when she was taken some time
ago.  She was so ill, I feared she wouldn't survive.  So ill that we had to
return her before we were able to undo what had been done to her by the
evil I dare not name.  But she did survive.  At the time, I thought she was
the strongest human I had yet encountered.  I was wrong.  He is.  

He has endured more than I could ever imagine in a species so young.  I've 
seen his thoughts, heard his wonderings.  He understands the teachings of the 
Holy Ones without ever having heard their words.  It is truly inspiring.  And 
at the same time, unnerving.  Were we once this na´ve?  Were we once this 
culpable?  Doesn't it confuse him to know the truth and yet live under the
control of those who only lie?  I know we were that confused once, and the
thought makes me shudder.

But back to my newest recruit.  He's still quite ill, still lying in the 
makeshift habitat we cobbled together out of one of the holding bins.  His 
companions are there, too.  Some of them are faring better than the rest and 
are acting as nurses, tending to the sickest of the group.  He is one of the 
sickest.

He's lost moisture, and it doesn't seem to be replenishing.  He's weak as a 
new offspring, unable to walk, or even quench his own thirst.  He grabs at 
his middle, the pain is evident in his cries.  Sometimes, he just lies in a 
ball and moans like the Beings in the Underworld.

I wish I could take this from him.  Not that I have grown attached to him, 
like a pet.  But because I know how desperately we need him to be whole and 
complete when the battle arrives.  We will need him to be at his finest, and 
I wonder if that is possible.  I fear that I've made a gross miscalculation.  
I think I have separated him from his other half.

Even as he writhes in agony, the name on his lips is that of his mate.

I think often of you and the offspring.  I hold you in my being as I hold 
your image in my mind.  But I must confess that you are not my only thought, 
my only focus.  I focus on the battle to come, on the glory and necessity of 
victory, of the bitter cost of defeat.  With this one, that is not the case.  
I am afraid that when the time comes, he will be thinking of his mate, not 
the battle.  And that will cost us all.

I know what you would say.  I can hear your voice in my head as clearly as if 
you were standing next to me.  You would look at me in that way of yours, 
tilt your head and tell me 'bring him his mate.'  But that is not possible.  
His mate is gestating their offspring now, and I can't risk losing what we've 
waited for so long.  She will produce the new one, the first of a generation 
of humans to stand beside us, to help us in the struggle.  Their mating, 
though more belated than had been hoped, is a reason for great joy among us.  

So I left her behind, protected for the moment by the mere isolation of this 
forsaken planet.  Oh, the evil toys with Earth, but it is far from ready to 
overtake it.  The time of great battle, however, is drawing so close.  We 
have to stop them now, in the Great Cluster, or all is lost.

What would you have me do?  I can't bring her to him.  I can't take him back. 
 I have only the situation as it has been given to me.  I have to do the best 
I can with what I have.

You don't have to shout so loudly.  I would have figured it out on my own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The switch is back on.

The cacophony of voices course through my veins, and I don't know where to 
run to hide from them.  Billy Miles is calling out to Theresa and pleading 
with her to not worry, but Theresa cries back to him that all she wants is 
her baby.

There are others, oh dear God, there are so many others, who chime in and 
join the chaos that is now my mind.  

I can't live through this again.  Please, God, don't make me live like this 
again.  It's not living.  It's not even existing!  I search for her image in 
my mind, hoping it will help anchor me to the here and now.

Scully!  Scully, help me, please.  

Please help me, I cry out in my mind.  I know there is no sound coming from 
lips; the pain is too great to utter anything other than moans.

When I have the strength, I pace around to every corner and all points in
between of the small room.  I have no sense of time, so I don't know how
long ago they brought me here.  But now, I feel that if I stop moving the
voices will only get louder, while the pain grows longer and larger. 

Scully!  Scully, help me, please!  

I don't know if I am capable of surviving the chaos that controls my mind 
again, but I know Scully is looking for me.  I just don't know if she'll find 
me this time.  I don't know if she can.

I don't know if she should.

I am losing my mind again.  The voices are all turned on at once and I don't 
seem to have any control over them.  All I want is for them to stop taunting 
me, to stop causing me a pain to end all pains.  How do I make it stop?  

How do I make it stop?  

I fall down to the floor and try my hardest to curl into myself and hide; I 
try to hide from the voices.  I begin to cry out in an attempt to drown the 
voices out.  

"Scully!  Scully!" I call out loud, or at least I think that's what I've 
said.  I can't tell.  I can't hear myself over the voices, all of the voices. 
 I want to crawl into my mind and bitch slap them all to just shut up, but I 
can't.  My mind won't let me.

They won't let me.

Who are they?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The quiet astounds me almost as much as the endless voices have.  It's as if 
the room is now void of all sound; it's a soundproofing mastered to 
perfection.  I can't even hear my own voice when I speak aloud.  I'm not sure 
what is more disconcerting: chaotic sound or its total absence.

I've been sleeping, but I have no idea for how long; there's no timepiece 
within my reach.  They've taken my watch from me, though I suspect that it 
was rendered useless as soon as we took off.

Took off?

Oh, sweet Jesus, have I truly joined the ranks of those abductees who 
preceded me?  Is this what the MUFON women experienced?  Is this where Scully 
was taken?

Scully.  

Scully!  I scream out her name, but no sound bounces back to my ears.  I 
wonder if this is my choice; unrelenting sound that reduces me to a babbling 
idiot or total, complete silence.  I know I cannot live with the former, but 
I wonder if the latter is any more palatable.  There isn't the physical 
suffering, but the isolation is no less painful.  

I ache.  I ache to be with her again.

I'm sorry, Scully.  I'm sorry I left you just when we finally found each 
other.

Time has all but stopped for me, and the effort it takes to try to figure out 
where my body is in time and space becomes almost Herculean in nature.

As suddenly as I'd risen into the silence, I now find myself immersed back 
into the dissonance of the voices that imprison me.   

Oh, sweet Jesus, it hurts.

I've decided that the dead silence is infinitely the lesser of the two evils. 
 The voices hurl at me; I have to work so hard to decipher who is speaking.  
There is no one that I can determine speaking directly to me.  All they do is 
talk, and all I can do is unwillingly eavesdrop.  

Make it stop!  Oh, God, it hurts.

I try to control it; I try to overcome the fear and the pain, but after what 
seems like hours, though is probably only minutes, I drop to the floor.  I 
can't stand the pain of the voices anymore, and I curl up.  I roll up into a 
tight little ball in a vain attempt to create a defensive wall between the 
voices and me.  

I fail miserably.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I lost him. I don't know what else I can say. I lost 
him. I'll be asked... what I saw. And what I saw, I can't deny. I won't." 

Skinner?  Skinner's speaking?   He's crying.  Holy shit!  The AD is crying.  
Why?  

Scully?  Scully!  Are you okay?  Oh, God, please let her be okay!

"We'll find him.  I have to." 

Scully's voice is answering him.  I can recognize her even through her tears. 
 Oh, Scully, don't cry.  Please don't cry.  Find him?  Oh, Scully, it's me,
isn't it?  You *are* looking for me!  I'm here, Scully!  I'm here.  Please,
come and find me soon.  

It hurts.  So.  Bad.

"Sir, um... there's something else I need to tell you. Something that I 
need for you to keep to yourself."  

What do you need to tell him, Scully?  Suddenly, I feel cold.  I feel so 
damned cold, and I don't know if I will ever feel warm again.

"I'm having a hard time explaining it." 

I wait, as I'm sure Skinner is waiting.  What is it, Scully?  What do you
know that must be kept secret?

"Or believing it."

Oh, Jesus!  Please, not the cancer.  Please don't say the cancer has returned.

"But, I'm pregnant."

I hear her smile.  I feel her tears, but I hear her smile.  

Suddenly, I feel my entire body seize.  I'm not sure if it's in shock, or 
joy, or a combination of both, but I suddenly jerk awake from what was 
obviously a very restless slumber.

Was I sleeping?

Dreaming?

No, no this was real; it _is_ real.  I was able to hear both Scully and 
Skinner.  I could hear them.  Damn it, it was real!  

It has to have been real.

I want to be a father.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For a moment, I thought I'd killed him.  Only heartbeats after the voice of 
his mate became clear to him, he seized and contorted, and I was sure he was 
in the throes of death.

I guess this is a race that just can't take good news.

He's resting, finally.  His dreams are no longer terrifying to him; he has 
something to hold on to.  

I can feel the smug expression on your face.  

I admit I'd forgotten how important that could be.  Something to hold on to, 
some goal to achieve that is personal.  I have you to thank for teaching me 
about that.

But I look at him, still weak and with all those emotions tumbled inside him 
and wonder if this is a fool's journey, just the last hopeless quest of a 
race doomed to extinction.

I'm sorry.  I know you don't want to hear my doubts.  And you know that they 
are nothing more than the ramblings of any warrior before a battle.  But how 
can this weakling, this unformed, untrained, unreliable being huddled in the 
hold of my craft possibly be our savior?  

I hate doubts.  They force me away from my focus.

So I will focus on you.  

You don't seem surprised that he would rest so peacefully after the 
information was transferred to him.  I don't quite understand.  I mean, I 
understand that now he has a reason to continue.  That he wants to see his 
offspring and his mate, and now that he's heard her voice, he is willing to 
believe that I've done nothing to harm her or allow her to be harmed.  But 
it's more than that.  It's almost as if . . .

As if they are more like us than I'd ever imagined.

But that is nonsense.  I've seen them, walking around in their clouds of 
emotions, oblivious to the dangers right outside their very atmosphere, 
within their own reach.  They blindly reach for the stars, assuming a few 
blasts of static and cosmic disturbances are the solid evidence that they are 
alone in the universe.

Pets.  That's what so many of our kind consider them.  Domestic animals not 
capable of reaching their full potential.  Wild things, best left alone until 
proper training can be achieved.  Or worse yet, slaves.  Drones. Beings to 
serve, never to attain the rank of masters.

I've been around them so long, and I still don't know which is the more 
plausible rationalization.

I'm not dropping into heresy.  I'm not suggesting that I give up this journey 
or fail in my mission.

I'm just having my doubts.

But that is your chore, isn't it?  To convince me they are senseless, these 
doubts I have.  To make me realize my reason for doing this.  To remind me 
that I am not out here in this craft for my own selfish reasons, but for 
reasons we argued and discussed for ages before coming to an agreement.

I remind you now, you told me I'd have my doubts.  Once again, you can feel 
satisfied in your wisdom and your prophetic abilities.

It is time to begin the tests that will ultimately lead to his training.  I'm 
not involved in that part of the effort, the tests.  I feel that is for the 
best.  If I am to train him, I can't be the one who inflicts the agony on 
him.  He would never come to trust me, as he will have to trust me as a 
teacher.  So I wait in the observation chamber and look for the signs of 
weakness I suspect will be evident.  Then, I have to devise a training that 
will obscure that weakness before it can become a liability.  I have to
make him strong, stronger than he's ever been.

I can hear his thoughts.  The human mind is not fully developed enough to 
understand thoughts, to untangle the sounds that assault the mind.  It's not 
capable, at this point in their evolution, to filter the sounds.  I had to 
assist him to filter out her voice among the many invading his thoughts.  Now 
that he's accomplished this, even with my assistance, he is able to
untangle her voice from the threads of the others and hear her whenever he 
needs, whenever he wants.  I don't think he realizes this yet.  I also don't 
think he can detect our voices among the many still tangled and jumbled in 
his head.

He screams in pain against the applicators.  He can't hear our own quiet 
assurances, he can't understand that if he would simply relax, force his body 
into stasis, the tests would not inflict pain or injury.  Those performing 
the tests keep trying to make him understand, but they are as incapable of 
communicating on his sub-sentient level as he is incapable of understanding 
their assurances.

He fears his own death.  

But in the midst of it all, the pain that he doesn't realize he's
inflicting upon himself by his own stubbornness, he turns to her.

Once again, you seem to understand him far better than I.  Maybe they should 
have sent you on this mission, and I could have stayed behind and cared for 
the offspring.

In any event, he knows she's searching for him.  He knows the ones he left 
behind have not forgotten him.  That knowledge will cause him pain as the 
time grows on, and I hope it doesn't cause him to reject the training.  I 
don't think I can break through the husk of one who is longing to be 
somewhere else and not truly engaged in the undertaking we have before us.

The first test was successful, much to my surprise.  He is far more resilient 
than I'd given him credit for being.  The second set of tests are begun 
almost immediately after the first.  He still has to learn to find stasis, to 
find the peace that will override the physical pain.  This is as much 
training as it is testing.  But again, he searches out her voice, completely 
without my guidance.  I feel an odd burst of pride at his achievement.  And I 
know that means he can be guided, he can be trained.  

He just has to desire the result.

It is up to me to make him desire the result we've brought him here to attain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I can't move.  

Why can't I move?

It's horribly, uncomfortably bright in here.  It's difficult for me to keep 
my eyes open.  I wonder if they've painted the walls in some kind of 
reflective paint, as the glare is painful to my eyes.

I turn my head to the right and open my eyes to slits.  I'm bound at my 
wrist.  I turn to the left and see my left wrist is fastened to a rail as 
well.  When I try to lift my head, I can feel that my chest is bound also. 
 I can only lift my head up so high before I can feel the constriction of the 
bindings.  My legs are tied down as well.  Only my head seems to have escaped 
confinement.

Footsteps.

I hear footsteps.

Scully!  Scully, please find me.  Please!

"Mulder's got to be out there somewhere!" 

Scully!  Scully, I'm here!  I'm right here!  Where ever the hell here is.....

"Damn it, haven't you been able to catch the latest satellite photos, yet?"

God, Walter, don't yell at her.  She doesn't need you to yell at her.

"We're working on it as fast as we can, Skinman, but these things take time."

"Don't call me that."

For the first time in what seems like years I feel like laughing.  I can just 
picture Skinner's face.  Only Frohike could ever get away with calling Walter 
'Skinman.'  Well, maybe Scully could.  

Shit, there was a time when I thought I could, too.

I sigh.  My eyes have adjusted a little more to the brightness of the room, 
but just barely.  It's still painful to open them fully.  But at least I know 
Scully's got the cavalry in place.  I just hope they hurry up.

The footsteps are coming closer.

Suddenly I hear a sound that resembles wind being let out of a balloon 
quickly.  I realize it's the entrance to the room I'm in.  I hear the 
footsteps come closer.  I think there's more than one pair.

I try to pretend to be asleep.

I try to pretend to be anywhere but where I am.

I try to pretend I'm sleeping right by Scully's side.

Scully!  Find me. Find me, soon.

Please.

"We need to track any unusual blips in the satellite transmissions.  I'm sure 
he's not far from here.  I can almost feel his presence."

"Not far?  Scully, I saw the Goddamned space ship.  It went up.  Way up."

"Sir, with all due respect, I understand that, but given what we think we 
know about this alien technology, there's a good chance they're in some kind 
of stealth mode and sitting right under our noses."

Did I hear her right?  Did my partner, Dana Katherine Scully, just utter the 
words 'alien technology' and 'stealth mode' all in the same sentence?  Oh, 
Lord, you're killing me here.  The woman has just given me absolution, and 
I'm stuck who the hell knows where, without any way of getting to her.  

Please, let me find a way back to her.  I need her.  

I need our baby. 

Oh, God, please let me find my way back to my family.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They're speaking to one another now, but I don't understand their words.  I 
hear the singsong cadence, so I realize they're having a conversation, but I 
can't understand the meaning.

Suddenly the lights are dimmed and I can open my eyes fully.  I am surprised 
to see what appears to be two Bounty Hunters standing near me.

Oh, lucky me. Two for the price of one.

"What do you want from me?" I croak out.  I haven't used my voice in so long, 
it sounds foreign to me.

They merely look at me.  They don't say a word.

"What do you want?" I call out louder.  I wish they would talk to me.  It 
would make this interminable waiting more bearable.

Suddenly I feel something touching my head, and I realize that what little 
freedom of movement I'd once had is now gone.  I feel something hard and 
inflexible molded to the top of my head.  I try to turn my head, but there is 
no longer any range of movement available to me.

I am truly trapped.  I am forced to look skyward and nowhere else.  One of 
the Bounty Hunters moves within my field of vision, and I suddenly feel very 
cold. 

And very, very afraid.

I watch as he lifts his hand up; his hand is clenched as if he has
something precious within it.  Another pair of hands comes within my view; 
Bounty Hunter #2 is reaching with his hands toward my face.

I try to move to avoid his touch, but I cannot.  I am trapped.  The room 
lights are turned on to their fullest brightness again, so when he pulls open 
my eyelid as wide as he can, I expect to feel a certain amount of discomfort.

It's the second thing I feel that is surprising to me.

Oh, dear God!  It's as if they've taken a needle and stuck it into my 
eyeball.  No, several needles.  Hundreds and hundreds of needles.

Oh, God, make it stop.  Make the hurting stop!

I can't see.  Something is blocking my vision and I can't see.  Why can't I 
see?  What did they do to me?  Oh, God, Scully!  Help me.  Help me get away 
from them. 

I think they're going to kill me, Scully.  They may not mean to, but they're 
not going to know when to stop, and they're going to kill me all the same.  

Please, please find me before they kill me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I don't understand this, damn it!  He's out there, somewhere!  We know he's 
out there; where the hell is he?"

I'm here, Scully.  I'm here.

"Dana, they're doing the best they can do.  Your friends will find him, 
you'll see."

Mrs. Scully?  Oh, Mrs. Scully, take care of her.  Do you know she's having a 
baby?   Make her take care of herself and the baby.

"Mom, I have to do something.  I can't just __, just sit here and do nothing."

"You are not sitting and doing nothing.  You are taking care of yourself so 
you can take care of my grandchild."

You tell her, Mrs. Scully.  You make sure she takes care of herself and the 
baby.  My baby.  Take care of our baby, Scully. 

"Dana, you have to stop this!"

Shit.  Shit, shit, shit.

"Bill, stop what?  Stop worrying about where the father of my child is?  Stop 
worrying if he's been harmed or killed?  Stop worrying if he'll ever come 
back to me?  What do you want me to stop?"

Oh, Jeeze, Bill.  Don't do this to her.  Don't make her more stressed out 
than she already is.  Be a big brother to her, for crying out loud.

"Dana, listen to me.  I know you want to work all day and all night to find 
him.  I understand that."

You do, Bill?  You understand?

"But I also know that even though pregnancy does not render a woman an 
invalid, it does change the body chemistry a bit.  Your body tells you when 
it's being overloaded, so that you don't harm the baby, Dana.  Listen to it.  
You will be of no use to anyone if you become sick.  

"And, Sis, the last thing you want to do is lose this baby.  Remember, I know 
what that's like.  Tara and I had tried so many times before we had Matthew.  
Don't overwork yourself to the point where you're endangering yourself and 
the baby."

All right, big brother!  Thank you, Bill.  Thank you for watching out for 
your sister.

"I'll go lay down for a little while, okay?  Are you happy now?"

I'm happy, Scully.  I really am.  Go rest.  Take forty winks for me too, okay?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The lights!  I can see the lights, but they're so bright again that I
almost wish I was blind.  And the voices are back.  Oh, God, they're all 
back.  

What are they trying to do to me? 

I'm on overload; it hurts so much.  I need to silence the voices and shut out 
the light, but I can't block any of it.  My head feels as if it will explode 
if the voices don't quiet soon.

I feel someone touch my head and turn it to the side.  Suddenly the headgear 
is back on, though this time it braces my head to its left side.  Once again, 
I cannot move.  I cannot move my head at all.  I pray that the voices still 
themselves soon.  I can't escape the stimuli, and it's starting to make me 
question my sanity again.  I don't know if I'll ever be sane again, Scully.

Needles!  Pain!  Oh God, it hurts!

The needles are back, but this time they're in my ears.  Oh, Jesus, my ears 
are on fire!  Help me, Scully!  I can't stand it.  It hurts.  It hurts so 
damned much.

Find me soon, Scully, or I'll lose my mind and won't be worth finding.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He expelled the evil!

I don't believe it myself, but his body defeated and expelled the evil.  It 
almost killed him, his body was contorting, and he was screaming her name; 
the name they give their concept of the Wise Ones, anyone and everyone who 
might help him through the torment.  At one point, I heard him call for his 
parents, though he knows they are in the beyond.  He thought he was dying.  
To be honest, so did I.  But he survived.

The others wanted to check on him, but I had to be certain for myself.  After 
all, if any of the evil remained, he would be an even greater threat to us 
than if we'd just left him on his home planet.  One who was controlled by
them in our midst and able to convey our positions, our plans, beyond all
the efforts at 
shielding that we've built and are using - that would be the end of us all.

When I entered the room, the smell was overpowering.  The fear, the torment, 
I had to block it from my senses and try not to feel it as it bounced off the 
walls of the small room.

He was a mess.  He laid there unconscious in filth, secretions, and body 
fluids that covered him.  I cleaned him as best as I could.  But even as I 
went about this most disgusting chore, I silently cheered each time I plucked 
more of the black, limp vileness from his skin.  Carefully, I placed each 
little puddle of hatred in a dish to be dissected and later destroyed.  Then, 
when I thought I had all there was, I carefully lifted his eyelid.  The
evil seems to stay close to the ocular nerve in this species, so it's easy
to detect them, if the body is infested.

His eyes were clear, that odd brown-green-gold color that I find repulsive, 
but completely clear.

I shouted my praise of the Wise Ones until the small room shook from the 
sound.

The others entered and took him to a more comfortable room.  He will be
well treated, now.  He will be care for as none before him.  Now I'm not
the only one to see that he is our prize, the one that we have all hoped to
find, but never truly believed we would find.       
           
They think the quest is over.  He will vanquish the evil; drive it from the 
universe and go on to reign over us in benevolent peace.  But that is where 
they are wrong.

I know the true battle is going to be won quietly, by sheer force of mind.  I 
know that I must convince him, persuade him, to take up our cause.

This is where I feel my most inadequate.  I am fierce as a warrior, I never 
back down from a battle.  I have killed without impunity.  But as we both 
know, I am not a man of words.  I am a man of action.  

Once again, I wish you were here with me on this journey.

I hear your laugh in mind.  You are the better diplomat, the better seducer.  
No, I am not so na´ve to think that I wooed you.  You won my heart, but I 
could never have won yours unless you had set your sights on me first.  You 
had the silver tongue, all the right arguments to convince this very lonely 
warrior to put down his weapons long enough to look around and grasp what was 
right in front of him.

You could easily persuade him to join us.  You would remind him, as you have 
me when my faith lags, of the greater purpose and how that is just an 
extension of the personal need.  That if we ignore the greater at the expense 
of the personal, we lose both.  See, even in this I am totally out of my 
element.  I battle with weapons, with anger, with fire.  With him, I'll need 
soothing thoughts, tranquil words, and the greatest weapon of all, I will 
need flawless logic.  But what if logic won't woo him to our side?  

I miss your voice.  I love feeling your thoughts caress my mind, but your 
voice always gives me strength.  And I feel very weak indeed at this juncture.

I need you here with me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I feel him enter the area, but I'm too weak to move.  I can't remember the 
last time I felt so debilitated.  My head feels as if it is actually swollen; 
my eyes are so swollen that I can't see out of them.

My arms lay helplessly at my side.  My legs refuse to move.  I can't decide 
if I feel more pained or more numbed from all that I've been through.  Yet I 
can feel his presence.  

I feel him touching me now.  Oh, God, please, no more tests.  I realize 
that's what they've been doing to me.  They'd slipped once or twice and said 
the word, tests.  

Or maybe I'm finally starting to understand their alien-speak?  Oh, Scully!   
How long have I been here that I'm starting to make sense of their language?  

Help me, Scully.  Please.

I hear him say something to me.  I wonder if I cried out to you aloud instead 
of just inside my head?  But then again__.  Shit!

You can hear my thoughts, you sonofabitch!  You can hear me! Get out of my 
head, you bastard.  Get out of my mind!  You can't have my thoughts to her!  
You can't!  I won't let you have my thoughts!

Oh, God, Scully, it hurts.  If I didn't love you so much, I'd say this would 
be a good time for me to die.  

I look at him through the slits that are my eyes.  He actually shows some 
expression on his face.  Shock?  Understanding?  I don't know, but whatever 
it is, I hope he realizes I can't take any more of this.  I can't deal with 
more tests.  I can't.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I must have fallen asleep, but at least I'm clean now.  The filth was washed 
away, thank God, but I still feel so weak and helpless.  I try to move my 
arms, but they feel as if they're tethered by thousand pound weights.  My 
legs are even worse.  I can't move, and to make matters worse, I suddenly 
have an urge to take a piss.

I can't move, but I don't want to piss all over myself.  Damn it.

Scully!  Scully, I'm so tired of this shit.  Help me, Scully.  Please.

"I will not agree to this, Sir!  I cannot!"

Scully, what's wrong?

"Scully, calm down.  I'm not agreeing to anything yet either, but I don't 
think it would hurt to listen to what the guy has to say." Skinner, you 
should know better than to try that voice to calm her down.  It'll only piss 
her off.

"But that ratbastard was the one who got Mulder to go to Oregon!" 

See, I told you.  Wait.  What ratbastard?  Not him!  Not *the* Ratbastard!  

"Mulder trusted him because _you_ invited him and the blonde ratbitch in the 
first place!"

Wait, Scully, don't blame Walter.  You need him, G-Woman.  Don't alienate one 
of the few friends we have.  Put the blame where it belongs, on Krycek and 
Marita.  Ratbastard and Ratbitch.  I love it when you talk dirty, Scully.

"Scully __, Dana, please.  I know.  You don't think I haven't kicked myself a 
million times about that already?  But what if he does have some information 
that we can use to get Mulder back?   I know we're taking a big chance in 
talking with him, but given the fact that we have so damned little 
information to go on, can we afford _not_ to talk with him?"

I know Scully, I know.  Every time I see the little scumbag I want to 
strangle him, but don't brush Skinner's thoughts off.  Maybe he can help you 
find me.

God, Scully, I need you to find me.  Soon.  

I'm scared, Scully.  I think they're going to do something to me, and I don't 
know if I'm ready for it.  Find me, Scully.  Listen to the Skinman, please. 

She giggles.  Oh, Scully!  You can hear me, can't you?  Listen to Walter, 
Scully. Trust him.  You can trust him.

"What's so funny, Agent?" 

"Nothing_, nothing, Ski_, Sir."  

If I weren't so damned weak as a newborn, I'd be whooping and hollering!  You 
can hear me, G-Woman!  I love you, Scully.  I'll always love you!

"Scully, are you okay?  You've got the strangest look on your face."

Sure, she's okay, Walter.  She just knows I love her, that's all.  Okay, Sir, 
it's time to talk.  Tell us what's going on.

"I'm fine.  It's just . . . I can almost hear what Mulder would say in this 
situation.  But that doesn't matter.  What can you possibly tell me that will 
convince me to listen to Krycek?  

"Sir?  Are you all right?"

Now I do manage a raspy chuckle out loud.  Hot damn, Walter, you can hear me, 
too, can't you?  C'mon, Skinman, admit it!  You _can_ hear me!

"Scully?" He sounds rattled.  Uh-oh.  C'mon, Walter, it's okay.  Talk to her. 
 Scully, tell him it's okay.

"Sir, sometimes I feel like he's in the same room with us, too." 

"I thought I was having flashback."  

Ah, shit.  No, Walter, a flashback would be you reaming my ass out for an 
overdue expense report.  This is me talking to you, but you aren't ready to 
believe that.  And apparently, neither is Scully.   

I realize now I'm going to have to be more judicious with whom I make 
contact.  I don't want to frighten Skinner; he's been through too damned much 
already in his life.  

"Okay, I want the two of us to meet with Krycek just to hear what he has to 
say.  He may be able to give us information.  He'd mentioned something about 
Spender wanting a piece of this, and I'd venture to say Krycek wants a piece 
of Spender.  Maybe we can offer our services in that department as a trade 
for Mulder's return.  What do you think, Agent?"

Go for it, Scully.  Skinner will watch your back.  But maybe you should call 
in reinforcements, just to make sure.

"On one condition," she says firmly, "that we call in the Gunmen to wire this 
place from top to bottom and have them slip wires on the murdering 
sonofabitch and his she-wolf."

Oh, Scully.  If I weren't hurtin' so much, I swear you'd be turning me on.

"It's a deal," says Skinner in between chuckles. 

Keep fighting the good fight, Scully.  Get out the reinforcements and find 
me.  Find me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They've left me alone for what seems to be a very long time.  It's the 
longest they've left me by myself since I've been here.  I can feel some 
strength come back to my arms and legs, and I long to stand up and stretch, 
but I'm afraid I'll fall on my face.

Ohmigod!  I can hear him.  I can hear _him_!  What the hell?  But I don't 
want to hear that Ratbastard.  I'd much rather rip his other arm off and 
serve it to him on a spit.

"I truly cannot believe you're still alive old man.  How many pacts have you 
made with the devil to keep giving you another life?"

"One doesn't need to make a pact with oneself, Alex.  You of all people 
should know that."  

Jeeze, can this day get any worse?  Two rats for the price of one.

"Well, I'm here.  What do you want from me this time?" 

I'll tell you what I want from you, no good piece of scum!  I want your head 
on a platter!

"Now, now, patience.  Allow an old man the chance to think and speak."

As for you, you black-lung bastard, I could stand to put your head right next 
to Krycek's!

"I don't have time for this, Spender.  Spit it out now, or I'm out of here."

"I can get you Mulder."

You can, _what_?  You can get me?  For this murdering, lying son of a bitch?

"How?"

"I have my ways."

Oh, I'm sure you do, Spender, I'm sure you do!  C'mon, GCB, tell him.  Spill 
the beans!

"You're bluffing, old man.  You've always been the prince of bluffs.  Well, 
no more.  I don't need you any longer.  I've got my own alliances now."

Spender and I ask 'who' in unison.

"Ah, wouldn't you like to know?"  

Your voice is really ugly when you laugh, you sonofabitch.  
Assuming you even had a mother... 

"Let's just say they're not exactly squeaky clean, but they'll help me get 
what I want if I give them what they need."

What do you want, Alex?  And for Christ's sake, who are you working for and 
what the hell do they need?  

"And what is it exactly that you have access to that is wanted by your new 
cohorts?"  

The old man sounds half dead.  Damn, how I can I push him the
rest of the way over?

"Who else?  The Madonna with child."

SCULLY!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I must have passed out before.  I want to open my eyes, but I'm too 
exhausted.  Oh, God, someone is touching me.  I don't know who it is.  I feel 
as though I should be afraid, but for some reason, I am not.  The touch is 
soothing.  

I wonder if it's him.  I wonder if it the one who has been hunting me and 
thwarting my goals all of these years.  I wonder why I don't fear him?  

Why don't I fear you?

'Because you know I mean you no harm.'

'What?  You can hear me, too?'

'Of course, I can.  Who do you think taught you to hear your mate?'

'My mate?'

'The one you call Scully.  The one with child.'

'You know Scully's pregnant?  If you hurt her or the baby, I swear, I will 
kill you.'

'Yes, I'm quite sure you would.  That is not our goal, however.  Your mate 
will not be in danger from me.  There are others however that will put her in 
danger.'

'Others?  What others?'  

I try to open my eyes, but the brightness of the room makes it impossible.  
As he is witness to my attempts, the Bounty Hunter tells me to keep my eyes 
closed.  

'It would harm your vision to open them now.  They need time to heal.'

I ask him who is a danger to Scully, as I'm starting to feel panicky.  

'The one who has betrayed you over and over.'

Suddenly my memory returns, and I realize it's Krycek.  Maybe Cancerman, too, 
but I suspect that Krycek is the one we should fear even more than Cancerman. 
 The old man's days are numbered.  If I don't get to kill him soon, I'm sure 
there are many others out there who are biting at the bit to have their shot 
at him.

But Krycek is another story.  He wants to get his hands on Scully, and I 
don't know why or for whom.  Oh, God!  Skinner wants her to meet with Krycek. 
 Shit!  I've got to warn them! 

'You are agitating yourself.  Do not.  It will not benefit you nor your mate.'

'What the hell do you expect me to do, you sonofabitch!  Let me out of here 
so I can go to her.  I've got to let her know to stay away from the 
ratbastard!  Please!  Let me go to her.'

'You can speak with her anytime you wish, but is that wise?'

'What are you talking about?  I've got to warn her!'

'But your mate is one who seeks challenges.  Would your mate not want to meet 
with the enemy simply to try to bait him and catch him?  Is that not what you 
and your mate do?'

'She wouldn't if I could speak with her face to face.  I have to explain it 
to her.  I have to warn her that she and the baby are in danger!'

'I fear that is not possible at this time.  It is our hope that you will be 
reunited with your mate sometime in the near future, but first we have 
unfinished business to complete.  But you are correct.  You need to contact 
someone who will protect her.'

'Skinner!  I can try speaking to Skinner; he'll stop her from going.'

'No.  Your Skinner will simply go in her place.  Think!  What will she do 
when she finds out what he has done?'

Suddenly, I feel totally defeated, because I know what the bounty hunter is 
thinking.  She'll go after Skinner when she finds out, and that would put 
everyone in danger.  Skinner, Scully, and the baby.

'Damn it.  Who do I contact?'

'I know of the one that can help you protect your mate.'

'Who?'

'He is in her likeness.'

'In her likeness?  Scully's likeness?  Oh shit!  You don't mean __?'

'The one who calls himself Bill.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He doesn't understand, even now.  And I'm supposed to make him a warrior?  I 
feel you nudging me.  Stop it!  I can handle this myself.  Now, be silent 
while I work.

'You can talk to him, this one called Bill.  She and he have a connection, 
therefore you and he have a connection.'

'Yeah, he hates me.'

This species wastes far too much time on humor.  But I sense that he's 
probably correct.  I don't understand their interactions, but I know how deep 
family connections can run.  Your family is an excellent example.  And I 
meant nothing by that, it was just an observation.

'You need to connect with him, in the same way you connected with your 
superior.'

'Skinner thinks he's flashing back to 'Nam.  It didn't work.'

'But her family, although she is more doubtful than the rest, have an 
inherent understanding of communication beyond what the rest of your species 
is capable of.'

'What are you saying?  That Mrs. Scully and her dreams . . .?  Are you 
telling me that the Scullys . . .'

'More the female than the male, but yes.  Their offspring received their 
abilities from the female.'

'So all the times Scully knew I was in trouble and came to my rescue . . 
..that was what?'

'Your connection to her.  And her ability to hear your thoughts that she 
received from her female parent.  It is quite primitive I have no doubt.  
More than likely, she only understands your emotions.  This is the strongest 
message.  She senses your danger, your fear.  I don't believe she senses your 
words.'

'Yeah, well, don't sell her short.  Scully's been reading my mind for a long 
time.'

I understand that well.

'So, you think I can just home in on ole Bill, zap him some ideas and he'll 
just drop everything and make sure Scully doesn't meet up with Rat Boy?'

'Your thoughts are jumbled, but, yes, that is what I'm conveying to you.  He 
is very protective of his family.  This is why he hates you, as you have 
already mentioned.'

'Don't rub it in.  Okay, so how?  I mean I can't even figure out how I 
managed to talk to Scully and Skinner.  There's a couple of billion voices 
down on that planet; how am I supposed to pick out Bill Scully from all the 
rest of them?'

'Focus on him, on the last time you and he were in the same location.  
Concentrate.'

'We were in his house on the base in San Diego.  Wait . . . wait a minute.  I 
hear him.'

'So can I.'

'Yeah, but you're good at this, I'm just a beginner.'

" . . .so that means we'll be moving to Okinawa in a couple of months."

"Oh, Bill!  This is so exciting!  We should call your mom.  I know she'll 
want to know.  And maybe we can get out there once more before we move.  All 
three of us."

"I'll see what I can do.  I know I want Mom to see Matty before we move."

"Speaking of the King of All He Surveys, I hear someone up from his nap.  I 
better go get him before he finds my make-up drawer again."

'Now!  You have to do it now, while his mate is with the child.'

'Uh, Bill.  Bill can you hear me?'

"Tara, did you say something?"

'Shit!  It worked.  But he thinks it's Tara.'

'Keep trying.  But don't be so direct.  Just put the idea in his mind.'

"No, honey, I didn't.  Bill, Matty just pulled all the toilet paper off this 
roll and it was the last one.  Could you be a love and run down to the PX and 
get me some more?"

"Sure, Sweetheart.  Can I get anything else while I'm out?"

"We're down to the last gallon of milk.  Oh, and lettuce, if you want salad."

'C'mon, Tara, let me get a word in edgewise here!'

'Patience.  You are such an impatient species, for one so backward.'

'I don't remember asking you!'

"Go get toilet paper, go get milk, oh, and go get lettuce.  I thought the 
women were the gatherers . . ."

'Try again, he's alone.'

'This is crazy.  The man hates my very existence.  He wouldn't believe me if 
I told him the sky was blue!  It's not going to work.'

'She's your mate, she's gestating your offspring.  It's your decision.'

'You play really dirty, you know that?  OK, here goes nothing.  Something 
simple.  Something even William Scully, Jr. could understand . . . 

'Dana's in danger!'

"HOLY SHIT!"

'I suspect that was probably a little too strong.'

'It's okay, I don't hear sirens.'

'Very well, continue.'  

'Bill, she's in danger.  She must not meet with or trust Alex Krycek.  He's 
going to harm her.'

"Who said that?  Damn, I am definitely going to bed early tonight.  No more 
Hitchcock reruns on AMC for this sailor.  I don't care how much Tara begs!"

'Alex Krycek.  He's the enemy.  He'll harm Dana and the baby.'

"Dana and the baby?  What the hell is going on?  How do you know about the 
baby?  C'mon, there's a hidden mike in here somewhere, isn't there?  If this 
is some kind of sick joke . . ."

'Ask your Mother.'

"Dad?  Dad is that you?"

'Shit, he thinks I'm his father!'

'If it gets his compliance, what is the harm?'

'Aside from the fact that Scully will most definitely kill me if she ever 
finds out?'

'You honestly think your mate will harm you?  You are saving her life.'

'Forget it, I knew you wouldn't understand.  Okay, if it gets him to save 
her, I'll pretend to be the Holy Spirit.  One more time . . .

'Go to Dana.  Make sure she doesn't meet with this man Krycek, . . . son.  
Her life is at stake.'

"Damn it, Dad.  I can't believe she's got to go through all of this because 
of that no good, asshole partner of hers.''

'He's not that bad when you get to know him, son.'

'I don't believe that will work.'

'Always worth a shot.  Besides, who's doing this?  You or me?'

"Dad, you never even met him.  But that's beside the point.  I've got to get 
to Dana."

'Good, son.  Very good.'

"I'll do it, Dad.  And Dad . . . I love you."

'I, ah, love you, too, Bill.'

'Now what?'

'Now, we begin training.'

'No.  No way.  I'm not budging an inch until I know Scully is safe.'

'Then we will wait.  Together.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm tired.  I'm so tired.  The waiting is as excruciating as anything else 
I've been put through.  I look over at the Bounty Hunter and wonder what the 
hell he has in store for me.

But while I wait for Bill to contact Scully, there's something else that's 
niggling at me.

'What's your name?

'Name?'  

He looks at me with a perplexed expression.  

'I'm Mulder.  What's your name?'

He seems to understand my question, but he doesn't answer.  He remains quiet.

'Don't you have a name?'

He shakes his head gently. 'No, I have no name, as you call it.'

'You don't have a name?'

I don't know why I find this so hard to believe.  It just seems important to 
me that I have an identity that is basically unique to me.  Granted, here are 
many John Smiths in the world, but there are a few George Browns in the world 
to differentiate from them as well.  

Of course, there aren't too many Fox Mulders out there either, in any 
universe, luckily for mankind.  I can't imagine another set of parents 
putting their child through what I went through growing up.  I have to laugh 
out loud at that thought.

The Bounty Hunter looks at me quizzically.  

'You humans are a puzzling lot.  You go from one end of the emotional 
spectrum to the other in a matter of minutes.  Does it not take a great deal 
of energy to do this?'

I'm the one with the confused look now.  I try to explain to him that it's 
the nature of human beings to show emotion.  It's one of the traits that 
makes us who we are.

'It's what helps to tell us apart from other animals.'  

I look at him and wonder if he'll be insulted or if he'll ignore the jab.

'It is what makes you a backward species.  It is what makes you so pliable 
and compliant; you are easily led by your emotions to make choices that are 
not always beneficial.'

'Yeah,' I agree, 'but it's what makes us who we are.'

He nods, accepting my words though obviously not in agreement with them.  

'So, what do I call you?' 

'Call me?'  

The puzzled expression appears again.

'Yeah, call you.  I can't keep thinking of you as the Bounty Hunter.'

'Bounty Hunter?' 

Now I really let out a chuckle.  He had no idea that's what we called him.  I 
calm down and tell him I'm going to give him a name.  Since there are too 
many John Smiths in the world, I dub him George Brown.

'George?'

'It suits you.'

'George?'

All I can do is smile.  For once, he's the one who's flummoxed instead of me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time has no meaning here.  One minute I'm hearing a conversation between Bill 
and Tara in San Diego, the next I'm hearing one between Bill and Dana in DC.

In the AD's office no less.

I look over at George for some kind of an explanation.  Now he's the one who 
smiles.  Damned alien.  Probably doesn't understand it himself.

'Oh, yes, I do.'

I look at him.  'So?'

'I would not even attempt to explain the tesseracts that may be employed in 
the space-time continuum.  You would hardly begin to understand its 
ramifications.'

'Tesseracts?'  I know I've heard that term before, and I struggle to
remember.  'A time wrinkle!'  I practically shout it out.  'The children's 
book, A Wrinkle in Time talked about the use of tesseracts to cross time and 
space.  L'Engle.  Madeleine L'Engle wrote it.'

George smiles again.  I think he approves.  

'She was quite ahead of her time, you know.'

I nod in amazement.

But I am immediately brought back to the conversation I hear going on in 
Walter's office.

"Look, damn it!  I don't care what you have to do to convince her to stay 
away from this Krycek fella; just do it!"

You tell 'im, Billy Boy!  

"Captain Scully, when was the last time you succeeded in telling your sister 
what she could and could not do?"

Right.  Score one for the AD.

"You don't understand.  It's imperative she avoids meeting with him.  She's 
in danger."

"Who's in danger from what, and, Bill, what the hell are you doing here?"

Oh, boy.  This should be interesting.  Just remember to retract the claws, 
Scully.  They're your brother and boss, for crying out loud.

"Dana, please, you've got to listen to me.  Please."

Listen to him, Scully.  As shocking as it may seem, I want you to listen to 
ole Bill here.

"Bill, shouldn't you be home with your wife and son?"

C'mon, Scully, give the guy half a chance.

"I've learned you plan to meet with someone.  Someone that poses a real 
danger to you and your unborn baby."

Good boy, Billy, go for the jugular!

"Bill, what the hell are you talking about?"

Oh, Scully, you sound tired.   Please, Dana, you have to take care of 
yourself; take care of our baby.

"Agent Scully, your brother is under the impression that you are planning to 
meet Alex Krycek. . . alone."

Walter, give her an opening.  Don't sound judgmental or she'll shut down.  
You know she'll shut down on you.  Please, give her an opening.

"I think Alex may have information too, Dana, but I don't want any one of us 
to take unnecessary chances.  We _all_ want to find Mulder, but we have to 
work as a team.  So, if Bill's right and you do have any new information 
regarding Krycek, I would appreciate it if you would keep me informed."

Walter, I knew there was a reason why you made AD.  C'mon, Dana, take the 
bait.  Tell them the truth.

"As a matter of fact, the piece of slime did contact me."

Damn it, Scully!  When the hell were you going to tell somebody!

"Damn it, Agent Scully, when the hell were you going to tell somebody!"

Whoa.  Now this is a little freaky.  Walter Skinner is channeling me.

"Dana, you can't meet him."

Billy, be careful.  You have to try and reason with her.  You can try and 
make her think it's her idea, but for Christ's sake, don't make it sound like 
an order.  We both know she'll tell you to screw off.

"Fuck you, Billy."

I stand corrected.

"Damn it, Dana, listen to me for once.  I have it on pretty damned good 
authority that this Krycek guy means to do you and the baby harm."

"Whose authority?  Who the hell are you talking to that has information about 
Alex Krycek?"

Careful, Billy Boy.  Be very, very careful.

"Well__."  

Easy, Bill.

"It's Dad."

"What?"

I hear both Walter and Scully gasp in unison.  So much for being careful, 
Billy.  Why don't you just come right out and say you're a raving lunatic and 
will say anything to get your baby sister to do what you tell her to do?'

"I know it sounds crazy, but Dana, I swear, I heard this voice.  I mean, it 
was unlike anything I've ever heard before.  It sounded like there was a 
microphone in my head, and I kept hearing Dad's voice say that I needed to go 
warn you about Krycek.  He kept telling me it was up to me to protect you 
now."

I'm holding my breath.  I don't know if she's going to buy it.  C'mon, 
Scully.  Scully!  Listen to him.  Listen to me!  He's right about this.  You 
can't see Krycek.  He's up to no good as usual and you'll be in danger.

"Oh my God."

Scully, what?  What is it?

"It was Mulder."

What was me?

"Scully, what are you talking about?"

Even the AD is confused.

"Bill, it wasn't Dad's voice you heard; it was Mulder's."

Damn, if this woman isn't headed for a directorship, I don't know who is!

"Mulder?  No, it couldn't have ___.  Oh that sonofabitch tried to
convince me it was Dad and that I should give Mulder a chance!  Son of a 
bitch!"

Hey, I never said I was your father, Bill.  You were the one to make that 
asinine assumption.

"Oh, Bill, stop.  That doesn't matter!  Don't you understand what this means?"

"What?" 

The three of us all ask this in unison.

"Mulder's alive.  He's out there somewhere, communicating with us, and he's 
alive!"

I'm here, Scully.  I'm right here, waiting for you!  

"Now I've got to meet with Krycek!"

No, Scully, no you don't!  

"Agent Scully, there is no way I can allow you to go off and meet with Alex 
Krycek on your own.  So, if you insist upon going, then I'll have to insist 
upon my going with you."

"Whoa, hold on, Mr. Skinner.  Nothing personal, but your track record isn't 
exactly flawless, you know?  I mean, you were the one who accompanied Mulder 
when he disappeared, right?"

NO!  Billy, no!  It wasn't Walter's fault!  Don't blame him.  Don't do that 
to him.

"Captain Scully, I never meant __."

"__Walter, don't."

It's the first time I've ever heard Scully call the AD by his first name.

'Bill, tell him you're wrong.  Tell him *I* said you were wrong.'

"Um, Mr. Skinner?"  

"Are you okay, Billy?  You look like hell all of a sudden."

"Yeah, Sis, I'm __.  I'm wrong.  I'm sorry, Mr. Skinner.  I'm wrong.  It's 
not your fault Mulder disappeared.  It's not."

"I don't understand, Bill.  What makes you now think it wasn't my fault?"

"Because, I think Mulder just told me."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He doesn't like the new arrangement any better, but at least his mate will be 
safe.  Now, apparently, his superior and his mate's sibling are meeting with 
the traitor.  This human cannot be satisfied, but I have no time to deal with 
it.  We are quickly approaching our destination.  We have precious little 
time now, as the enemy will have the full advantage if the human is not ready.

'Listen to me.  We have little time.  We have to begin the training.'

'Not till I know she's safe!'

'She will not be safe unless we accomplish our goal!  You fail to grasp 
something as simple as that?'

'What goal?  Whose goal?  What goal are you talking about?  Wasn't it your 
goal to abduct me?  Take me away from my partner, my home?  Take me away just 
when she needs me?  Wasn't that your goal?  If it wasn't, why don't you tell 
me what this precious goal is all about?'

'Your arrogance is annoying, but I understand your anger.  We did not take 
you on a whim, as you might think.  You are needed.  And in fact, our goal is 
your goal.  The protection of your race, and by extension the protection of 
your mate and your offspring, this is our goal.'

'My mate, as you keep calling her, and our child are the *only* things I care 
about!  Get that through your fucking head!  I don't give a rat's ass about 
the rest of humanity!  They don't give a damn about me!  And I find it hard 
to believe that you give a flying fuck about any of us!  So, just tell me 
what the hell this is this all about!'

'I am waiting for you to calm yourself.  Your species takes an inordinately 
long time to do that.'

'I'm as calm as I'm gonna get, you son of a bitch.  Tell me!  Tell me know or 
I'll . . .'

'Good.  Feel the anger.  Feel the hatred.  But direct it, use it!'

'I'll fucking rip your head off you sanctimonious fucking alien asshole!  How 
DARE you tear me away from Scully!  How DARE you tell me that I'm supposed to 
be saving the whole fucking human race!  I'll kill you with my bare hands!'

'Your mind.  You can kill me with your mind.'

'What?'

The box is in place on the table.  Its resonance causes the air to hum in the 
examination room.  I point to it.  

'Kill me.  Destroy the box.'

He doesn't believe me, but he wants to believe.  

'Direct your anger, your hatred of me, at the box.  Do it. Do it now before I 
have a chance to stop you.'

The box explodes with a deafening roar.  Even the pieces are incinerated.

I had no idea he hated me that much.  It's a good thing the human is 
incapable of killing merely for the sake of killing.  I just hope it's a 
barrier that doesn't extend to our enemies.

'There.  Why aren't you dead?'

I suspect he already knows the answer.  He realizes that he does believe me.  
He can sense that I am not the enemy, and that I am telling him the truth.  
That's why I haven't been incinerated, like the box.  Though he senses this 
truth, I have to help him comprehend it more fully.

'Can you kill, if it's to protect the ones you love?'

I don't need to know the answer.  He needs to find that in himself.  I am 
pleased that he takes the time to consider the question before he answers me.

'Yes.  Yes, I can kill if it's to protect her.  To protect both of them.'

'You failed to kill the man you think harmed her in the past.'

He falters in his anger toward me.  I'm afraid I've tapped into another of 
this species' less productive emotions - guilt.

'I could kill him now, if I could find him.'

'You can find him with your mind.'

He stops, considers.  Focuses himself.  Holy Ones, he's going to -

'STOP!'

It takes all the power I have to stop him.

'That one is needed.  At least for the time being.'

'Then don't put ideas in my head.  And why can't I kill the old man, and 
Krycek, for that matter?  Then Scully and the baby would be safe from them.'

'But our enemies would know of our strength.  They would see those deaths and 
know how they came about.  And they would have the time to prepare against 
us.'

'Then tell me how to get them in my mind, and I'll kill them all.'

I have to smile at his arrogant self-confidence.

'It is not as easy as it seems.  They are clever and deceitful.  They can 
mask themselves.'

'So can you.'

'True enough, but they can mask their minds.  I can only mask my physical 
appearance.'

'How do I know that?  How do I know that you aren't masking your real 
intentions right now?  That you aren't deceiving me that you aren't going to 
hurt Scully while I'm gone.  How do I know that anything I've seen or heard 
while I've been in this place is real or true?'

'You have to believe it's true.  You have to . . . trust.'

'Don't ask me to trust you!  Nothing you've done to this point . . .'

'I saved your life!  They would have found you and you would have been 
killed.  I saved her life, your mate, your Scully.  On that bridge, during 
the burnings when they called her with the chip of your species' own making.  
I could have killed you both a hundred times over!'

'You almost did kill me!  You left me to die on that ice flow!'

'The cold saved you.  I helped you in the only way I knew how.  You shot me, 
if you remember.  You released the toxin, not me!'

'I still don't trust you, and I won't help you.  I can't.  I won't.'

'Then let me show you what will happen because of your stubbornness.'

It hurts to remember almost as much as seeing it all happen in fact.  Whole 
worlds, whole species, destroyed in flaming conflagrations.  The screaming 
torture of a million souls, torn from their physical casings and cast asunder 
in an endless sea of blackness.  When the images are done, we are both 
feeling ill.

'That's what they do?  That's colonization?'

'No.  That's sterilization.  They have no desire to colonize.  They want only 
the bare worlds, the planets themselves.  They have no need for the species 
that inhabit them.'  

'But they told the old man, they said it was colonization.'

I can feel the confusion that the conflicting information causes in him.  
He's trying to sort it all out.

'The evil lied to get the compliance from the leaders of your world.  It's 
easier for them that way.'

'And I'm supposed to believe that you wouldn't lie to get my compliance?'

Look, I'm watching a human chase its tail.

'Consider what you've seen, what you know to be true.  Consider what will 
happen if you do nothing.  I promise you, these things will come to visit 
your world.  The decision is yours.'

'Then leave me alone to make it.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And they call me paranoid?  Oh, Scully, if you could only know what they want 
from me.  

I've got me a whole damned universe to save.

Jesus, Scully, how the hell am I supposed to believe him.  He's killed over 
and over again just to get what he wants.  How the hell does he think I can 
trust him, just like that?

I don't know what to do.  I don't know what I'm supposed to do.

"Damn it!  Damn them all!"  All at once, I find myself screaming at the top 
of my lungs, and I don't know if anyone can hear me.  It doesn't matter 
though.  I feel so frustrated and angry, that I fear I'm going to implode.  

I pace around the cold, sterile room; I feel like a caged animal and walk the 
four corners of the small cubicle.  My fingers clench and unclench into 
fists.  The anger continues to grow and rise from the tips of my toes to the 
top of my head.  God!  I need to do something to dissipate this frustration, 
this fury!  The thought of incinerating something quickly passes.  I don't 
want to think!  

I need to physically do something! I want to pick up something to heave 
against the antiseptic white walls, but there's nothing.  Even the bed, or 
what they consider a bed, is molded into the wall of the room.  There's 
nothing loose to pick up.  Nothing!

"Damn them!" I scream, as I hurl my left fist into the clean white wall.  The 
first time it hurts like hell, as it does the second and third times.  I 
scream out each time I make contact. 

By the sixth time, I feel nothing.  I concentrate on the blood patterns that 
splatter all over the white wall canvas.  It's almost as if I've created a 
work of modern art.  I pound the wall over and over again.  The numbness 
travels up my forearm and beyond my elbow.  I wonder with mild detachment if 
I've caused myself some serious harm here.

But I can't stop.  It's almost as if I've gone into automatic pilot and the 
rhythm I've set up bashing my fist into the wall is synchronized with the 
beat of my heart.  

If I stop, I will die.

I reach back with my hand, ready to make it an even dozen, when I feel 
someone grab me and hold fast.  I try to pull away.

"I'm going to die!" 

'You will not die.'  

"Yes," I cry out, "yes, I will."

'No, you will not die.'

Now, I feel so incredibly weary.  "I want to die."

'No, you do not want that either.'

"Damn it, George!  How the hell do you know what I want and don't want?  If I 
can't be with Scully, then I don't want to be anywhere.  I don't know what 
you want from me.  Leave me alone.  Just leave me alone."

I hear the despair in my own voice.  I wonder if George is able to 
differentiate between my different feelings.  I wonder if he cares, or if 
he's even able to care.

'I fear we've already done that for too long.'

"Stop that," I demand.

'Stop what?'

"Stop thinking your words.  Talk to me, damn it.  Just talk to me."

"It is as I thought," he says aloud.  

I sigh, grateful to hear another voice besides my own raspy attempts at 
dialogue.

"What are you talking about?  What have you done for too long?" I ask.

He walks over to me and picks up my hand.  I wince as soon as his hands draw 
near, and I realize I've probably broken every bone in my hand.  Damn, it 
hurts, but his touch is surprisingly gentle.  As he examines my hand, he 
explains.

"You humans are social creatures.  You thrive on the company of others, 
whether they're a part of your family unit or not.  You need others of your 
species around you."

He turns my hand over and holds it in his left hand while he covers it with 
his right.  My hand begins to tingle.

"What are you doing to me?" I ask out of curiosity; I'm not afraid.

"I am repairing the damage you did to yourself.   But I know now that it was 
not a willful decision to harm yourself; it was a reaction to your being left 
without others of your kind."

I watch as the blood disappears and the hand feels healed. I've forgotten he 
has the same healing ability as Jeremiah.  I say that aloud to him.

"I repaired another of your kind once, long ago," he says quietly.

So, you want to have a conversation, George?

"Who?" I ask.

"The older female of your family unit.  The smoking man told me it was 
necessary to keep her alive.  He insinuated it was for your benefit, but I do 
not believe that to be so.  It was for him."

I don't say a word for a moment or two.  I'm too busy trying to contain my 
anger.  The Smoking Bastard engaged the Bounty Hunter to raise my mother from 
the dead because the selfish sonofabitch couldn't deal with her death.  Too 
bad Spender couldn't see beyond his own needs to later give her reasons to 
spare her own life.  

But for now, I am too tired to be angry over my mother's needless death.  I 
am surprised to find out of the role George played in my mother's living, 
though.  Even I can see the irony in my ambivalence towards this strange life 
form that appears to me as a man. 

"Thank you," I say quietly.  

"You are welcome," he replies in kind, as he replaces my now healed hand into 
my lap.  

I stare at it in wonder.  There's not a speck of blood anywhere.  The bones 
are perfectly knitted together, and there are no torn ligaments.  There is no 
swelling, pain, or discomfort of any kind.

"Thank you, again," I say.  He nods in response to this.

"We need to get your living unit properly sanitized.  I will bring you 
someplace to wait while it is being cleansed.  Come."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I enter a room that looks remarkably like a rec room of the sixties and 
seventies.  There's a lot of wood paneling and there's even a bar at one end. 
 I don't understand where this room has come from, as it's the total 
antithesis of the types of rooms I've been exposed to so far.  The others 
were all an antiseptic white.  

But this?  I feel like I'm ready to put on a Beatles' album and start
dancing the 'monkey' or the 'swim'.  I wander around the room and discover 
bottles of Coca-Cola in the mini fridge that's under the bar.  Damn!  Real 
eight ounce bottles!  I haven't had a coke like this since they'd stopped
selling them in the local stores.   These look so authentic.  

I have to use a bottle opener to open it and I take a swig.  I sigh in 
contentment; it tastes just as I remember it.

I check the cabinets and discover potato chips and pretzels.  Now, if they 
had corn chips, I'd be in heaven.  I open a second door and discover a bag of 
Frito-Lay's.  Unbelievable.  It's as if they did a mind probe and discovered 
all of my childhood vices.

I pull out the container of sour cream I notice in the fridge and open the 
cabinet to find a box of dried onion soup mix.  I make some dip for the chips 
and take another sip of my soda when I hear a noise and tense up.

"Can anybody come to this party, or is it for members only?" 

"Billy?  Billy Miles?"  I don't know if I should believe what my eyes are 
seeing.  I don't know if I should believe any of the things that are in this 
room.

"Yes, Agent Mulder.  It's really me.  I'm not sure of the amenities in here, 
but I am most definitely real."

"Sit.  Tell me what you know," I say quickly.  I'm not sure if I'm more 
excited or anxious at the possibility of finding out new information.

"I'm afraid I don't know much of anything.  They keep us pretty isolated, 
though we do have our meals together in a large community room."

"You have your meals together?  With whom?"

"Oh, you know, the rest of the abductees.  Theresa and her husband, as well 
as several others from the area.  There's about fifteen of us, Agent Mulder.  
We've been kind of wondering where you've been all this time.  

"To be honest, Sir, we thought you were dead," he admits.

I sit back for a moment and try to digest what Billy's just said.  While I've 
been subjected to torturous tests and isolation, he and the rest of those 
abducted have been gathering together for meals all this time.  Time. Time!

"Billy, how long have we been here?"  I'm not sure if I really want to know 
the answer.

"I wish I could tell you Agent Mulder, but I don't have a clue.   We have no 
windows, so we can't differentiate between night and day.  We have no clocks 
or watches at our disposal either; it's as if time's stopped."

My face must have fallen, because he quickly reaches out a hand toward me and 
apologizes.

"What have they done to you?" I ask, ignoring his attempt at comforting.   
I'm not sure if I want to know the answer to this question either.

"Done?" he asks.

"Yes, what kind of tests?" 

"Tests?"

I see from his expression that he has no clue as to what I'm talking about.  
No tests.  None of the other abductees have had to undergo any tests this 
time.  I'm embarrassed to realize that this new knowledge makes me upset.  I 
feel like a real bastard for being angry that I was the only one who had to 
endure them, but damn it all!  

Me!  Just me!  I'm so sick and tired of being singled out and having to 
endure every kind of crappy situation anyone could ever think of!  My face 
can't belie my feelings though; I hear Billy say something, but I'm not sure 
of what he's actually said.

"Agent Mulder, what have they done to you, Sir?"  He looks worried.  I assume 
it's out of concern for me, but it may also be because he's apprehensive 
about the possibility that anything they've done to me, they may do to him 
and his friends.  So, I do what I hope is the right thing.   

I lie.

"They've just left me alone all this time, that's all.  I didn't know if 
there were any other humans on the ship with me."

He nods in understanding along with a small sigh of relief.  He's safe for 
now, he thinks.  I hope it's true.  I hope he's safe for now, for always.

"Is everyone else all right?" I ask.

"Yes, we're fine, thanks.  It just gets monotonous between meals, ya know?  I 
mean, we have books to read and music to listen to, but there's no television 
or anything like that.  They do allow us to keep a journal though, so at 
least we can spend our time productively putting our thoughts to paper.  

"What about you, Agent Mulder?  What do you get to do?" he asks.

Me?  I get to save the world.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The visit is short.  George and another like him enter the room to bring us 
back to our quarters.   I say goodbye to Billy and express my desire to visit 
with him again.  He nods and then we walk in opposite directions with our 
escorts.  

"Will I see him again?" I ask aloud.

"Perhaps.  But now there is much for you to learn," he replies in kind.

I had a feeling he'd say this, though I have so many questions about why the 
others were taken, yet I was the only one put through the test.  I begin to 
speak when he cuts me off.

"You have to rest now.  The moment of our truths will be upon us all too 
soon."

"But why__?"

"Now is not the time for questions.  It is time to rest and prepare."

I enter the now properly sterilized room where the white walls melt into the 
white sleeping area.  That is all there is to this room.  There are no 
cabinets, closets, desk, table, chairs, television, books, paper, pencils, 
stereo, CDs; it is void of everything but white walls and the sleeping niche.

I think about what George has said earlier, about me needing to be with 
others like me.  He's right, of course.  As much as I was considered a 'lone 
wolf' growing up, I never could function for too long without an audience.  I 
needed someone to bounce my theories off of, and that someone became Scully.

I miss you, Scully.  If ever there was a time that I needed you to bounce 
ideas off of, it's now.  You're the only one I trust, partner.  I need you, 
now.  

'I don't know what to do.' 

'Do what's in your heart, Mulder.'

'Holy shit.  Scully?'

'Yes, Mulder, it's me.  Where are you?  Are you all right?'

'I can hear you.  Oh, sweet Jesus, I can hear you!  I don't know where I am, 
but I guess I'm all right.  Wait! Where are you?  How are you?  How's the 
baby?'

''I'm __.  You really do know about the baby?'

'Of course I know about the baby, Scully.  Is it all right?  Are you all 
right?  Where are you?'

'Shhh.  The baby is fine.  I am fine. We're trying to find you, Mulder.  You 
know that, don't you?  Skinner and the boys, we're all working so hard to try 
and find you.'

'I know that, Scully.  Really, I do, but please, tell me where you are.'

'I am safely tucked away at my mother's house, since a certain agent 
convinced my brother that I should be taken off the case of finding my 
missing partner.  That was pretty good, Mulder, convincing Bill that you were 
Ahab.'

'I never said a word, Scully.  He made an assumption, and I didn't disagree, 
that's all.  Holy shit!  Did they go?'

'Did who go?'

'Skinner and Bill.  Did they go meet Krycek?'

She laughs.  Oh God, I miss that laugh.  

'Okay, what's so funny?'

'They found him all right, but it turns out he was hoping they would lead him 
to you or me.  He was so pissed when it was obvious neither of us was going 
to make an appearance that night.  He ran off into the night muttering 
something about his life not being worth dick since he couldn't get the 
merchandise.  Of course, Skinner says the little rat was smiling all the 
while, which leads us to suspect that Krycek went on that little wild goose 
chase for the benefit of a certain chain smoker we all know and despise.'

'So where are Skinner and Billy now?'

'Skinner's back at work doing his damnedest to make it appear as if he's 
getting the rest of his work accomplished while he searches for you and Billy 
flew back to San Diego this morning.  He didn't want to go, but we kind of 
insisted.  And Walter Skinner can be very convincing when he becomes 
insistent.'

She laughs again.  I can just imagine the expression on Bill's face when 
Skinner went into AD mode to 'order' Bill out of their lives.   

'See?  I'm not the only one who can handle only small doses of William 
Scully, Jr.'

She's still laughing.  No, she's giggling.  She's giggling, and God, I miss 
her so much.

'I miss you, Scully.  I need you. I don't know what to do.'

'Like I said, do what's in your heart. You know the right path to take.  You 
have to learn to trust in yourself, Mulder.'

'You sound like George.'

'George?'

'Yeah, George.'

'Who is George?'

I have to think about this before I answer her.  Then the reality stuns me 
momentarily, and I tell her.  

'George is my teacher.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sense a change in the human.  If I wanted I could probe his mind, but at 
his current level of understanding, he would know what I was doing and 
probably be angered.

He called to me.

It was confounding.  I know it's elemental and should be easy for him, but I 
felt foolishly proud over his accomplishment.  I have no idea what has 
changed in him.  He called to me and told me he was ready to begin.

At the same time, the watchers informed me that we are within range of our 
goal, the battlefield.

You always have said I work best under pressure.

As I enter the room, he stands.  He doesn't speak, and he seems to wave 
toward the wall.

'I decided not to redecorate, this time.'

He didn't use his mouth, he thought that phrase to me.  I smile to show how 
this action pleases me.  It's their custom, and he seems oddly comforted by 
the gesture.

'Do you wish to begin training?'

'Better now than never, I guess.  I get the feeling we don't have much time.'

'Feeling?  What feeling?'

He looks confused, stares at the walls for a moment.

'I don't know if I can explain it.  My brain feels itchy.  Like I want to 
crack open my skull and scratch the living shit out of it.'

'Not an advisable course.'

He laughs.  

'Probably not.  But what does it mean?'

'It means we have little time.  You can sense them, the evil ones.  We are 
approaching their current feeding grounds.'

'You really hate these guys, don't you?'

'You have those you hate because of their nature, their actions.'  

'Yeah, I have a list.  It's getting pretty long, too.'

'You can add them to your list.'

'I think they already have a spot on it.'

'That's good.  That's how a warrior should feel.'

'Well, that's wonderful, but if I'm a warrior, don't I get some kind of 
weapon?  I mean I'm feeling a little naked here.'

'You are clothed.'

'No, naked, without protection.  I don't have a weapon.  You know, going into 
battle with just my bare fists against guys with the power to subjugate whole 
planets.'

I smile again.  It appears to be habit forming.  

'You have a weapon more powerful than any they have acquired.
You demonstrated it to me earlier.'

'The thing I did with the box?'

'Yes, the 'thing' you did with the box.  You were able to incinerate it with 
your mind.  That is an incredibly powerful weapon.  But I must teach you to 
focus all of your energy, without giving you the benefit of practice.'

'Afraid of what I might do to the interior decor?'

'It's difficult to exist in space without a ship.'

'Oh, you're funny!  You're growing a sense of humor on me, George.'

'It's a simple form of communication.  Your species seems to take great pride 
in it.'

'Enough with the put-downs.  How do you propose to teach me to *focus* 
without letting me actually do it?  How will I know I'm doing it right?'

'Their ships will destruct.  Ours will not.'

'Seems simple enough.  But pretty tricky.  What if I focus the wrong way?'

'Then their ships will not destruct, and they will destroy us.'

'I was afraid of that.  OK, how do I focus?'

'Can you recall your feelings when you tried to harm yourself?'

'Yes.  I wanted to die.'

'Can you recall your feelings when I told you to direct your anger at me to 
the box?'

'Pretty much.  I hated you.'

'Can you hate them as much as you wanted to die?'

'I don't know.'

'That is what you have to do.  That is what will need to happen.  It will be 
difficult.  You will continue to feel 'itchy,' and it will grow worse as we 
decrease our distance from them.  But you must search them out, as you can 
now search out your mate.  Then you must gather your feelings and direct 
those feelings against the evil ones.'

'Didn't I see this in Dune on the sci-fi channel?'

He uses humor again, but I sense that he understands.  I have to stop smiling 
at him.  My facial muscles might remain in this position.

'One thing, George.  If I have this power to destroy them, why didn't I 
self-destruct earlier?  I mean, I wanted to die.  Why couldn't I just use my 
mind, my power, to incinerate myself?'

'You didn't want to die.  You just didn't want to make this decision.  You 
have too much to live for.  You have a mate, offspring.  You have too much 
will to live to kill yourself.  You always have.'

'You think you have me all figured out, don't you?'

'It isn't that hard.'

'You better get me close enough to them to take a few of them out pretty 
soon, or I might start directing this power at somebody nearby.'

His thoughts have just entered my mind when he clutches his head and falls to 
the floor.

We have arrived.

He cries out in agony, "Oh God, Scully help me!"

'NO!  Do not call on your mate!  They are here!  They will sense her through 
you!  They will find her!'  

He falls forward.  "God, this hurts!"

'Focus!  You must find those feelings, find that anger.  Focus it.  Direct 
it!'

"Hurts too much!  Can't think!  Oh, GOD!"

'Find it!  Find it now!  You have to focus!'

Suddenly, the walls glow, and his thoughts are projected on them.  I've heard 
of this happening, heard that it was possible, but I've never witnessed it 
myself.  I stand in wonder before the scene.  I remember the writings of the 
Holy Ones: 'The walls around me laid plain the battle.'

The battlefield, a small cluster of planets, appears before me as an image 
cast upon the walls.  I can see their ships, and they are as numerous as the 
stars.  My fear is a tight bundle in my gut.  I look at him, and his face is 
contorted into a hideous mask of pain.  But then I see his eyes change.  They 
are no longer deep green.  Now they are black, not with the film of the evil 
ones, but with anger, hatred.  Just as the writings foretold.  He leaves 
himself, and me, to join the battle.

As I turn back to the star field and watch in amazement, one of their ships 
explodes.  Just one at first, but then one more follows.  I look back at him. 
 His body is here, his mind is there, seeking them out, finding them, 
destroying them.  His efforts affect his physical being.  His breathing 
changes, his face is red and soon dripping with moisture.  I can feel the 
heat that his body radiates.  I tear my eyes from him for just a moment and 
look at the wall.  More ships explode.  Several at a time.  

He screams suddenly in pain, but brings his eyes back into focus and destroys 
an entire flank.  Now he is on his knees, tearing at his hair and I fear he 
will tear it out by the handfuls, but explosions still brighten the dark 
walls, making it look like small stars being born.

I don't know how long this continues.  The Holy Ones told us it would only be 
an instant, but it seems to take much longer.  Still, when I look at the 
walls, only a few of their ships remain, and they are gathering together and 
preparing for retreat.

I glance over to the human, thinking he will rest now.  The battle appears 
over, and their species is rife with empathy for vanquished enemies.  He says 
he hates many, but I've never seen evidence that he has killed any of them.

Just as I turn toward him to acknowledge his efforts, his eyes turn from 
black to fire.  I can see red in them.  I realize it is his life fluid. His 
actions today have damaged him greatly, but it is not stopping him now.  With 
one flick of his head, all the remaining ships explode in a fireball of 
galactic proportion.

The sky is now empty of their ships.  None remain.

And then his eyes roll back in his head, and he collapses to the floor.

The image on the wall is gone.  I wonder what will happen next.  I await the 
inevitable blink that will be the end of my existence just as all the evil 
ones have been destroyed.

It doesn't happen.

My shipmates call to me.  The battle is over.  

We are victorious.

I turn back to him.

The human has stopped breathing.  

His is a hero's reward.  His body is too damaged to continue, and now his 
essence is free to go to the beyond and join his Holy Ones.  It is the way of 
war.  It is our way.  It is what we all accept and cherish that after the 
battle, only peace remains.

I think back to his recent attempt to end his life.  He could have succeeded, 
easily.  But he seems anchored to his existence on that planet.  Unlike our 
own species, I don't think he believes that death is a reward.

I never promised his return to his mate, but thinking back over our 
conversations, I believe he felt that would be his reward.  Not just to save 
her and the offspring, the child, as he calls it.  He wanted to return to 
them, to continue in his existence with them.

It is in my power, if I work quickly, to give him that reward.

It is not our way to recall a life that has entered the next plane of 
existence.  If I bring him back to this existence, and my actions are 
discovered, I will be severely censured.  I could be separated from my own 
loved ones, from you who are in my thoughts every second of my own existence.

He has suffered such great losses.  She, his mate, has suffered much, as 
well.  They have been torn from loved ones.  But never for long have they 
been torn from each other.  

I think of their offspring, their child.  His mate will need his strength to 
bring the child to life, to raise it to be like them, strong and fiercely 
committed.

Without him, she might decide to end herself, as he was contemplating.  She 
might decide to end herself before the child is born.  

Where would that leave the rest of us?

The others are coming.  They will see the body and dispose of it.  I have no 
time, so I work faster than is required.  He will remain damaged, but will be 
able to recover on his own.  There will be no further attempts to assist him. 
 He must become whole without anymore interference.

I briefly touch his forehead and his body heaves one breath.  Then another.  
He is alive. Just barely.  But he can continue on under his own will.

I have done all I can. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End

And yes, it really is...

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