Title: Each Time, a Little More
Category: X-File, MA. SA.
Spoilers/Timeframe: Early Season 7, pre-Closure. Summary: Mulder and Scully follow a lead to Roush Laboratories, and find more than they bargained for, leaving with less.
Archive: Gossamer, any other nice home. As long as you ask.
Disclaimers: Mulder and Scully belong together, Kersh belongs in the bad books, but since Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen and Fox own them, I borrowed them for shameless action and drama. No money exchanged hands, and I didn't intentionally break copyright laws. Author's Note: A special thank you to the quick thinking people who showed me how Roush was spelled and even pronounced.
OFFICE OF ASSISTANT DIRECTOR KERSH
Mulder had suffered considerably on his most recent nonmainstream case. His search for an extraordinary serial killer had put him in serious jeopardy, and he had been hospitalized for four days before the doctors were sure he had suffered no permanent damage. It was another week before he was back at work.
"With all due respect Sir, while there seemed to be a schism in Mulder's mind between the rational and irrational, I'd say he's recovered quite nicely."
"Then you're sure he's fit to resume his normal duties? Because if Agent Mulder isn't a hundred per cent, then I don't want him taking any chances with your lives or those of the public." Yes, Kersh could be quite strict. Always strict. "Are we clear on that?"
Mulder was quick to respond. "Yes, Sir. Now if you'll excuse us, we wouldn't want you thinking we love sitting in this office all day enjoying your company," he muttered, in his most sarcastic tone. "C'mon, Scully."
"Well, I see you are back to normal, Agent." Kersh still sat there, hands folded. He knew his emotionless stare disturbed Mulder to no end.
Scully stood. "That's enough. Let's go, Mulder. Thank you, Sir."
When they were out of Kersh's earshot, Scully grabbed Mulder's arm and frowned at him. "Was that really necessary, Mulder? We're not in a position to get him irritated. You know that, right?"
Mulder grabbed her by the shoulders. "Look, if he's not with us, he's against us. And I think his loyalties lie very far from us."
Scully rolled her eyes and sighed her annoyance. "Must you always be so paranoid, Mulder? He's just doing his job, and we have to do ours!"
Mulder pulled her down the corridor and whispered, "I know that. You know that. But for who?"
"What are you getting at?" Scully angrily whispered.
"I can't say as of yet. Let's just say I have my suspicions.Let's get the rest of the day over with, so we can go home tonight knowing we're going to be doing the same thing all over again tomorrow. Background checks. Service with a smile. Stale coffee."
Scully smiled. "Okay, so what are we really doing tomorrow?"
"That's my Scully! We're off to M.I.T." The previously sullen Mulder was all aglow with boyish enthusiasm. "I got a heads up from a scientist's analysis of one of those chips. The kind that were placed in all those women."
"No, Mulder." Scully could see the wheels turning, and while a part of her dreaded the consequences of leaving without Kersh's go ahead, part of her was overjoyed that her partner was back to his own self after all the torture he'd endured under a sadistic serial killer from his past. Still, there was a part of her that could not bear the reminder that she had had a malicious device placed in her body, against her will.
MINNESOTA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
OFFICE OF PEDRO GARCIA-MELENDEZ, PHD.
Professor Garcia-Melendez's office was small, and cluttered with physics books, charts of the atomic elements, pictures and instruments. "You've finally come, as I had hoped you would, Agent Mulder. And this is?"
Scully extended her hand. "Special Agent Dana Scully. I've heard a lot about you, Sir. This is truly an honor."
"Thank you. Please, sit down. Please excuse the mess. It's been a busy term, and with my other research going on... well, publish or perish. However, since someone managed to recover this chip from its diseased host, a small number of interested parties have been examining it closely. Don't panic, Dr. Scully. We are not in league with its manufacturers."
"Dr. Garcia-Melendez, I've told Scully about the latest information on that chip. Can you give us any more information?"
The professor leaned back in his chair, folding his hands. "I have explained to you that the chip is made of elements which form another element we have as yet not been able to name. We have no idea how someone managed to combine these particular elements. The mechanism of this device is to alter certain genes in humans. We've tried experiments with mice, rats, even monkeys, with no effects. However, we remembered your bout with cancer, and that of Betsy Hagopian and her friends, so we do know it can switch certain cancer genes on or off, as well as influencing bodily systems."
Scully could feel her stomach churning with anxiety as unpleasant memories of her cancer treatment reared their ugly head. "Professor, do you know how this chip activates these genes?"
"That, Agent Scully, is a mystery. Frankly, we're stumped. I know one thing: Someone engineered it, and someone must have those answers. At this time, I know of no one in my scientific circle who would know. I'm sorry."
Scully was crestfallen, and Mulder wasn't willing to give up. "Do you know of any other scientific circles wherein some key biologists frequent?"
"Frankly, Agent Mulder, I think you know the answer to that. Does the name Roush sound familiar?"
"Very, Professor. Thanks a lot. Scully, I think we should pay a visit to our friends at Roush. Thank you for your time, Professor."
Scully and Mulder rose to leave.
"Be very careful", Garcia-Melendez cautioned them. "I've been told of several cases of yours in which Roush was involved."
"We will," Mulder assured him. "Scully, I think we need another company tour." As Mulder followed Scully out of the office, he feared what lay ahead, and what Scully might endure again. No, he told himself. *They wouldn't try now, with what we know*. He wasn't sure he believed his own inner pep talk.
18 HOURS LATER
Mulder stopped the rental car in front of the Roush building. "Well, this is the source of a lot of scientific breakthroughs, Scully." He got out of the car and opened Scully's door.
"So, why are we here in the middle of the night, anyway?"
"I doubt they'd roll out the red carpet for us, and I'm just dying to know what's in there."
"You don't have a search warrant... Mulder." She knew her partner was not above creative investigations. "All right. But if there's the slightest hint of trouble... "
"Don't worry, Scully. You're my look-out."
"Your what? Mulder, you're crazy."
"Are you with me or not? Because if you're not, then you can bow out anytime and get on a plane to Washington. I think you want to nail them just as much as I do."
"Fifteen minutes, Mulder. Then we're out of here?"
Mulder jimmied the lock on a door at the side of the building. "All right. Let's see what we can find." He led Scully down a series of hallways, most of them with locked labs, and the odd check point for employees. "I think we've found something, Scully." There was a computer in an office that had not been locked for some reason. "Let's see what's on file."
"If all the other doors were locked, why is this room open, Mulder? This could be a trap." Scully stood at the door, scoping out the hallway. She saw a security guard making his rounds. "Get your flashlight out, Mulder. I'm canning the lights. The night watchman's doing his rounds."
"I hear ya. Scully, look at this."
"Microchip 951B6A9 Subjects injected. CODE 59432R7 documented. There must be thousands of names here," she whispered. "Mulder, Samantha A., Murphy, James T., Murphy, Alison K, Nakano, Sarah,... " Scully scrolled down the list. She had to know for sure. "Scully, Dana K... Me?" She scrolled to the bottom of the screen.
"Date for administration: December 15, 2007. CODE 671B." Mulder didn't quite know what to tell Scully. "I don't know what this means, but I think... " Mulder inserted a floppy into one of the computer ports. "Good. I think we're outta here in about a minute."
Scully scanned the hallway. "Coast is clear. We'd better go out the same way we came."
With the file copied, Mulder removed the disk and made his way out along with Scully.
After they had successfully left Roush without detection, and Mulder was suspicious of that, as well, they talked in Mulder's motel room.
"All right, Mulder. You've kept your mouth shut all the way back here. Now, tell me why my name is on that list, and what they're planning."
"I have no idea, Scully. But I plan to find out. These codes mean nothing to you?" He opened his laptop.
"I didn't recognize anything except some of the names, and I want to know why your sister's name is there, as well as my own."
"Oh, I want to know more than anything, Scully. The date on this record, it means they have future plans for all these people, including you and Samantha. 2007? Just how confident are they?"
Mulder saw the worry in Scully's eyes. "I'm sorry."
"I'm okay, Mulder. It's a bit overwhelming thinking of the possibilities... but we'll deal with things when the time comes."
"Hopefully before then. Look, I'm going to the internet cafe I saw when we got here. If I can send it to the guys, maybe they can decipher the information."
"The Three Stooges," Scully whispered. "Mulder, I think this requires a more expert opinion. Why not Doctor Garcia-Melendez?"
Mulder typed a note into his laptop. "I doubt it. He's on the outside, I'm pretty sure of that. No, I think this calls forsome sneaking around."
"And why not?" Scully asked, with strong sarcasm. "We can do some jail time, and that will keep us safe from the nasty implants."
"That, I doubt." He closed the laptop. "Look. I'll be gone about half an hour. They can call me when they've found something. Order in, and I'll pay."
Before Scully could say "Mulder, wait..." her partner was gone. She ran to the door to finish her protest.
As Mulder reached for the car door, there was gunfire. He took cover. Scully ran out to investigate. "Scully, stay put. Lock the door." He grabbed his gun and peered around the back of the car. A black van sped out of the parking lot.
"I'm going with you," Scully shouted. "No arguments! Get in the car, Mulder."
Mulder stood and took the driver's seat. "You're right. I'll need your help. Apparently, someone is on to us." As they pulled out of the parking lot, onto the main drive, Mulder wondered just how far Roush and their cohorts were willing to go to hide the information he wanted so desperately to have.
HEIDI'S INTERNET CAFE
Scully looked on as Mulder inserted the disk into the port and clicked send. "So, just what do you expect them to find, Mulder?"
"Anything and everything, hopefully. Okay 100% uploaded."
"Got it," Byers typed. "Is this an X-File?"
"Careful what you tupe," Mulder replied. "Sorry to get you guys up at such a late hour."
"Frohike was playing Doom again, anyway. Okay, give us a few minutes. Langly just popped it into our drive."
As he sat back in the steel framed chair, Mulder glanced at Scully. "I'm sorry. I know it's late. But chances are, we wouldn't have made it here if we hadn't left when we did."
"As long as we know what we're doing, which is something I'm not sure of. I did bring my gun. Take a look. Frohike's typing something... "
Mulder's jaw dropped when he read the analysis of the disk. "Nothing, Scully. They looked for encryption, hidden files, nothing. Nada, niente, rien."
Scully turned her back to look at the parking lot.
"Are you sure?" Mulder typed.
"Blank, Pal. Sorry."
Scully spun around at the sound of Mulder banging the table with his fist. "Damn!" he shouted. "Nothing!?"
"Mulder, how can that be? I saw you copy the information."
"Oh, I don't know how. It can be, though, Scully. Roush is really shrewd." He calmed himself enough to type to the Gunmen, "Sorry for all this. Thanks. Keep looking for other ways to find out. I'm signing out for the night. Call in the morning."
"What now, Mulder? We can't stay out here forever, hunting the invisible."
"Why not? We've been doing it for years... Well, we pick up a pizza, and call it a night. My treat." He retrieved the seemingly worthless disk, and held the door open for Scully.
"Why were you shot at if you got a whole lot of nothing?" Scully asked, outside the car. "Maybe there's more than meets the eye."
"Maybe. Maybe I was set up. C'mon. If the Gunmen find anything new, they can type to me at the motel. You're tired, I'm tired."
Neither Mulder nor Scully had slept well that night. It was 4:00 when Scully bade Mulder 'good night', but she was haunted by the image of her name on the computer screen at Roush. She couldn't bear the idea of the cancer coming back any time some chip, either arbitrarily or by some other means, sctivated and instigated the whole process again. How many women had the cancer killed? Too many. Even one was too many, from her perspective. How many bodily systems did this microchip have possible command of? Her mind raced through Gray's Anatomy and although she had fallen asleep eventually, there was no rest with the nightmares that danced in and out of her brain.
Mulder fared poorly as well. He kept remembering Samantha's name was on the same list as Scully's, and those of countless other men, women and children. The codes that made no sense to Scully and him. What the hell was this technology? Was the purpose to control an entire population? Who was behind it? How many agencies? With an hour or so of sleep he certainly did not feel refreshed. However, he called Scully at 8:30 in the hopes that she had had a good rest.
As he unlocked the door for Food Services, Scully arrived and walked in. "Mulder. I guess you had a rough night, by the looks of it."
"Yeah, I did. Looks like we're in the same boat. I ordered breakfast anyway, even though I'm not that hungry. My sister's name, your name, almost everyone's name is in that file. Why? And remember, we've run into brick walls before. What's the purpose of the tests, the chips, the illnesses, the deaths? World domination by some rogue shadow government?" Mulder stood at the window of his room as if he were addressing Congress, while Scully took a chair at the small table.
"I'm sorry, Mulder. I know how devastating it must have been seeing your sister's name and my name there. Mulder, there's an answer for everything, and you of all people should know we'll find it. You're determined and intelligent, Mulder, and I'm on your side. Any news from the Gunmen?"
"Not yet. If it was blank, it was blank. That was a brand new disk."
"Maybe it was a dud."
Mulder joined her at the table. "What are the odds of that? Scully, maybe... maybe they knew I was coming. Maybe we were had."
Food Services arrived with breakfast and when they left, Mulder locked the door. As he poured Scully's coffee, his cell phone rang. "Mulder."
It was Byers. "Get out the laptop. We think there's something you should see."
"All right, hold on. It's Byers." As he activated his laptop, Scully looked hopefully at the monitor. "Okay. Send me what ya got."
"You see the data?"
"Yeah. Why didn't it turn up before?"
Frohike spoke next. "At normal speed, you can't read anything on the disk. But slow it down, and that's another story. This is what we..." There were sounds of a door being broken down, and then a dial tone.
"Looks like somebody followed the internet highway all the way to the Gunmen's place, Scully. But, I think we can save the data here, no matter what they take from the Gunmen."
"Looks like not, Mulder. The screen's blank, and it's gone."
Mulder snapped the cellphone shut. "See, Scully? Another brick wall!" He was rather loud, but Scully had become used to that. "Every damn time we get even close to the truth, someone gets hurt, evidence goes missing!" He was seething with rage, and kicked the bedframe.
"Hold on, Mulder. Not so fast. Nothing ever disappears without leaving something behind. Look." She held a paper napkin up for Mulder to read. He looked at her with the most apologetic look on his face. "I copied a few of the code numbers I recognized from last night's view. When I saw them again, I thought I'd better get it on paper. Besides, we still have this." She held up the disk. "We appear to throw it into the wastebasket, only it's a blank, and keep this one, which looks like... dust. I don't know how, Mulder, but it came out of your laptop in a dozen pieces. But we do have some code numbers."
"Scully, I've underestimated you."
"Well, I didn't copy in school, but I'm learning now. Looks like in this job sometimes you just need to break the rules. Like you did at Roush."
Mulder took a long drink of coffee. "Yeah, Scully. But what good are a few codes without the disk readable?"
Scully smiled. "You never know, Mulder. Each time we think we're defeated, we go back home with a little more information. Maybe some day, it'll all lead straight to the answers we're looking for. So, what now?"
"Eat breakfast, then we call Kersh and tell him we're heading home."
Scully looked at the napkin and the codes she had written. "And what will we report? Mulder, he's going to want something."
"We tell him we had a tip and that we came up with nothing. It may not be what he WANTS to hear, but it's what I want him to hear. As for what we have, it's like you said: Each time, a little more."
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