"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 38 of 45

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"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 38 of 45
E-mail: mrke...@eclipse.net, mrkel...@gmail.com
PG-13 X-File: Myth-arc Disclaimed in Part I
Already sent to Gossamer
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Suola di Atene
Cambridge, England
Sunday, July, 19, 1998
8:17 am

"You must wear this one, Atrebates." Ap Gwinn was holding a grey-cowled robe toward Mulder. "You have the right to enter, as none other of your colleagues, but the Riata, do."

"Sheesh." The dark-haired agent grimaced at the thick wool. "I stayed as far away from this stuff as I could at Oxford. Plenty of creative anachronisms there." As he slipped into the deep sleeves, he sighed. {This one's for you, Scully.} After engaging the clasp at his throat, he reached back for the hood.

"No need to hide your face, Atrebates. You will be greeted eagerly." The Cymru removed the silver rising sun from the right shoulder. "This was your Father's garment, but, you do not walk beside the Slav. You have the signal honor of attending on the Riata." He was affixing a bronze half sun with twenty wavy rays in its place.

Mulder rolled his eyes. "Okay, okay. We've had our chat at the Pony. I'm here to rescue my partner, so let's get started."

Ap Gwinn's lips curved. "All is not as it seems, Atrebates. The form of one thing often conceals the fact of another. You have seen much in your investigations that tells you the same is true without the Suola as well as within." He grasped the lever of the door handle. "Follow me." With a twist, he pushed the barrier aside. As they proceeded, the Cymru raised both arms. "We are many, we are one! The Atrebates of the Riata is come into the Ekklesia!"

The whoosh of robes sliding off thirty-eight seats was followed by an echo of the incantation and extended applause from the Fellowship, some in black and some in grey.

Mulder found himself being embraced, touched by unseen hands, smiles and nods appearing before his eyes. 'Brother! Brother!' sounded in his ears, whispered by some, shouted by others. After initially feeling smothered, the dark-haired agent was surprised by how comforted he felt to be in the center of the assembly. If {Not if, when, G-man} this worked, he would have a whole new list of teasing names to throw at his partner during their debates. Two pairs of arms guided him to a spot along the wall, close to the front. The empty high seat, with its gilded finials and chalk banner, stood in front of him.

The Cymru had ascended the dais, his arms still raised. "Brothers and Sisters, I come to you to redress a grievous error we in the Fellowship have committed."

The Aborigine strode forward. "The Tribuno deceived us, did he not?"

"I feared it would be so." The Suebi was standing in front of his seat. "He was too eager to apply Gradus Absoluta. He is all of war, none of reason. He opposes the good offices of the Riata."

The Pict was leaning on his lion. "She was not offered the choice?"

The Cymru lowered his arms. "She was not. You have heard, no doubt, of the events at the Embassy in Washington. I was gassed along with all the others."

The Mughal shook his turbaned head. "He has attempted to break the Fellowship. That must not be permitted. Any action he promoted must be terminated."

Mulder snorted as he stepped forward. "Yeah, yeah, E Pluribus Unum, we are whatever. We don't have all morning to decide how best to drop a whispering demon-possessed ring in a volcano. I need to get to my partner before my Father's killer puts a bullet in her brain, too."

"You are your Father's Son, Atrebates. He was all action." The Suebi drew himself up fully. "I deeply regret bringing that vulture among us. We know what we must do. The Council of Ten must reassemble and deliberate. We must rescind our vote."

The Slav strode over to stand beside him. "There is no question. I should have had the wisdom to foresee the outcome of my decision. I have witnessed behaviors over the past seventy-two hours I have not seen since the Communists gave up control over my country. I change my vote to persuasion. It is now eight of the ten in agreement."

Ap Gwinn stepped off the dais. "Then, Brother Pict, Brother Suebi, Atrebates, we must return. We have evil work to undo, and quickly."

--o-0-o--

Unknown place
Unknown time

Dana Scully's first sensation on awakening this day was of throbbing, of dull pain. She lay still, trying to localize it, to determine its severity, but the ache was all over her body. With a gasp, she remembered the pummeling of the previous afternoon. Her head both burned and itched, a single touch revealing why: a new wig had been affixed to her scalp. {No ringlets of curls.} Her hair felt more like it had when she was in college; one glance down at the faded jeans, UMD sweatshirt, and running shoes told that was exactly the stage of her life to be parodied today. {Today when I try to escape, at least I won't fall.}

She rolled out of bed, quickly surveying the barred windows, {Ground level. Those must be original.} the NSync and Hansen posters {Really? That's a miss.} until she spotted the bathroom door. Relieve, clean, drink. As she left, she noted the sharp edge of the door latch. {That will do.} A third parallel line reddened her arm. There was no activity yet, so she had time to plan. She quickly made up the bed, just because; then, in these more comfortable clothes, put herself through warm-up, stretching, and isotonic exercises, her only tools for pain relief. Finally, she settled at the creaking student desk by the window to think the day through. If they held to their past pattern, they would be attempting to excoriate her for giving the right answers to Physics questions, but, there, she could at least control the pace and timing of the negative reinforcement.

{I'll take a page out of your book, Mulder, giving them a silent, baffling lecture that will leave their heads spinning.} Her forehead creased. Why did she think of her partner right then? Was the coercive persuasion becoming more effective as the charade approached the years of her working life? Or, was it just that she was preparing for the mental sparring at which he was so adept, that intellectual thrust and parry they had engaged in so very, very often? A crack of paint separating from paint turned her attention back to the entrance to the room.

"Hey, you'll be late, come'on!" It was one of the grey-cowled 'boys' pretending to be annoyed.

{Or was his agitation genuine? They don't know how to play this game, either, remember.} Only the next few hours would tell. With a silent wave, she followed him out the door, then down the stairs. This was a new location, but the open area in the front of the ground level was of similar size as yesterday's. There were sixteen desks, as before, but the tops folded down, as in most auditorium seating. Two, not one, were empty. The memory of Thorton's lecture and Mulder's frequent exhalations beside her blew over her, reminding her that, not long ago, she had been other than she was now. The 'Teacher', too, was different. No longer the upright, emaciated, sharp-nosed woman, but a short, grey-haired, tweed-wearing, bespectacled man with a mustache bushier than Nichols's.

The 'Professor' cleared his throat. "Okay, I need a volunteer from the class to explain projectile motion, Anyone?" He made a great show of looking at all the 'students' in their seats.

{Do the unexpected.} Scully raised her hand.

"Oh, you. Maybe a girl can do this. Probably not." He pointed at the mobile blackboard. "Let's see if you're smart enough. Just don't start crying when you fail."

{Okay, let's do some poking and prodding, shall we?} She drew, first, a tilted cannon, then, a stick figure of a man with a ramrod. There were noises from behind her, shifts, creaks. {Good.} She drew a single vector, then broke it down into its components. She drew the arrow again, with an arc and a theta for the angle, showing the changes in the y component caused by the acceleration due to gravity. Working with only the vertical terms, she derived the travel time. The rustling behind her grew. She used the pretense of needing to flip over the board to check the 'Professor.' His face was pulling into a mask, part confusion, part frustration. She was obviously not playing the part he had been told to expect. More scratching of chalk on slate. Finally, she drew a box around the expression for the horizontal range, set down the yellow cylinder, then resumed her seat.

Silence. No calls of an incorrect answer. No opprobrium.

The 'Professor' cleared his throat. "Okay, smart girl, Einstein's twin paradox."

Really? That? How little did they know of my life? She walked to the board again. Mulder, this one's for you. She began, in her best cursive, 'Vlog and Zerg are brothers on Alpha Centauri.' She drew a cratered planet, then a stick figure on it, as well as a stick figure on a flying saucer. A stray titter emerged from one of the 'students' at the rear of the desks. 'Vlog stays home while Zerg travels to earth and back, approaching the speed of light as he goes.' She continued, writing relativistic velocity equations, drawing diagrams. She covered both sides of the blackboard, then, again, finishing with derivations of relativistic momentum and mass. She faced the 'class' as she pointed to the last equation. The 'Student' who had chuckled had thrown back his hood, revealing closely-cropped blond curls and sad brown eyes.

Scully set down the chalk before beginning the walk to her seat.

But, the face of the 'Professor' was twisted in rage. "No! No! You're wrong!"

She heard the whistle of the pointer, but could not duck in time. It whipped the air repeatedly, stinging her back and shoulders, until, with a snap, it broke in two.

"Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! You, girl, you are an abomination!" The 'Professor' had his fists clenched as he was glaring down at her. "No lunch for you, girly-girl."

Scully could not control the involuntary gasp. Had the morning been entirely a set-up for the release of that pair of words into my psyche?

The bushy mustache was inches from her nose. "The others can go outside. But, you. Miss Smarty Pants, you get to stay here and clean the board." She heard the shuffling and tapping as the grey-cowled men filed out behind her.

No, probably not. After rising shakily to her feet, she staggered over to the board, picked up the eraser, then began obliterating the equations and figures. She knew what would be coming, probably tomorrow. The charade would be medical school, but a faux savior would appear, ending the corporeal abuse. It would be then that they would try to convince her that the Forty were her beloved brothers and sisters, that this was all a mistake. But, with Krycek somewhere nearby, this Initiation would most certainly not end well.

"No, with water!" The 'Professor' handed her a bowl with a cloth before pointing to the back of the 'classroom.' A modern kitchen, all steel and white tile, was just visible at the end of the hall.

--o-0-o--

Outside, several of the grey-cowled men were gathered in a little group, while the remainder were wandering aimlessly over the thick grass. The blond Quaestor with the sad brown eyes focused on the four who were in front of him. "She *is* the Riata."

A series of nods met his acclamation.

"We need to end this. The Tribuno is on a personal vendetta here, one that will lead to ruin for us and for the Fellowship."

Another of the Quaestores threw back his grey hood, revealing a thick shock of dark brown hair over pale green eyes. "This cannot have been a correctly-performed Gradus Absoluta, not with handguns and torture. Those are purely American."

More nods.

The blond Quaestor met his gaze. "We are many. We can stop him and overpower the others." The rest of the fourteen had gathered around to listen intently. "Are we in agreement?"

"Yes." The response was offered in unison.

The blond Quaestor pointed to several in the large group. "Then, you four, go surround the 'Professor' and the 'Matron.' This must not continue." He waved to another knot of men. "You six, seek out the Tribuno. He is, as you said, an American, so his weapon will be his first recourse. Be ready. He will offer serious resistance." He pointed to the remaining four. "We will go to the Riata, to offer our support. We are many, we are one."

"We are many, we are one!" The group scattered.

--o-0-o--

Aluminum bowl in hand, the white cloth over her wrist, Scully padded away from the 'Professor.' Once she was standing by the sink, she checked over her shoulder. Since this was the alienation phase of the indoctrination, no one had followed her, so she took a moment to gulp several handfuls of water before she used the dish soap to wash her face and neck. {At least three days since my last shower.} She scrubbed her cheeks furiously until they felt truly clean, then picked up the white cloth from where she had dropped it, beside the sink. As she lifted her gaze out of the towel, she saw the back door was open, one of the jeeps parked just beyond. {No!} The keys were still in the ignition of the roofless vehicle. Whether this was a set-up, or a potential escape, she knew she could not pass up the opportunity, especially since she would not be getting far on foot, not now. After dropping the thin cloth, she ran.

"Hey, wait!"

Scully made no effort to identify the voice. She simply turned the key, then jammed her sneaker-clad foot on the gas, throwing up the soft loam to spin in the air. Screeching the rattling vehicle around the house, she was halfway down the drive when a grey-cowled figure positioned himself in the gateway. She stomped harder on the pedal. If whoever it was had an ounce of self-preservation, they would leap out of her path. She would not hesitate. Not now.

"Scully! You'd better stop!" Krycek threw back the hood before assuming a firing stance. "I'll shoot! I've done it before!"

{I know you have, you monster}. She began swerving, side to side, to throw off his aim.

The weapon lowered, three rounds pinging off the engine block, before flatting the two front tires. The Jeep flipped to skid on its side, shuddering to a halt in front of the dark-haired man. "Scully, give it up!" The tip of his SIG was pressed against her temple. "Now, get out, hands up. I mean it!"

She scanned the interior of the Jeep, but could identify nothing in her peripheral vision she could press into service as a weapon, so she crawled out the top to stand. She glared back at the SIG.

He grabbed her by the throat with his free hand. "You're dead, one way or the other, so stop playing their game." He wagged the weapon. "Back to the house." Once she had turned, he clutched the hair of the wig to give it a sharp yank. "Nice and slow, Scully. Nice and slow. Run and you're dead right here. I'd hate to have to plug you before I get to do it in front of your happy band of agents. I bugged that precious oak-paneled Suola of theirs, so I know they're just minutes away from rescuing you, but, I will if you make me."

Both arms raised, she moved cautiously, scanning the wide drive for any distraction that would let her turn to seize the weapon.

"Even though they'll whine, these fancy-pants prisses pretending this is some Medieval parlor game, if you're dead, they'll find somebody else to be their Riata. They always have. But, I can't wait to hear Mulder moaning like a stuck bull over you as you bleed out." He spun her around by the glued-on hair to scowl into her green-blue eyes. "That'll be extra-sweet. You should have seen him, trying to get to you on Skyland. How many times did he do you, anyway? A man never goes on and on about a woman like that unless he's getting some. Hum?" He yanked her head to the left and right several times, making her stagger to keep herself on her feet, then placed the muzzle of the SIG on her curved throat. "Is he that good in the sack, Scully? Is that why you put up with the whining about aliens and the tripped out ranting he passes off as theories?" His grip on the wig tightened as he began twisting her head contemptuously, delighting in how it distorted her features. "Or, is it you who gets frisky when you're horizontal, little cunt? Do you just spread those stubby Catholic good-girl legs wide and let him drill you deep and hard? Is that why he runs to you every time you whimper?" He spun the gun in his hand until he was clutching the chamber as if it were a steel stone. He landed three punches on her jaw with the weighted fist, but she neither flinched nor gasped. Her stoic silence enraging him further, he plunged the clenched fingers repeatedly, deeply into her abdomen. "How many of his kids did you throw away to keep him, you thoughtless whore?"

The diminutive agent felt a blast of pure sorrow that someone who was so outwardly handsome could be so contemptibly ugly within. It was at that moment, after all the twisting and shoving, that the glue holding the mesh in place tore her skin, releasing red tendrils to run down her forehead. She found herself blinking as she hissed a response she could no longer repress. "That. Is. Not. Who. We. Are."

"She speaks!" The dark-haired man snarled as he leveled the SIG to point it at her throat. "Don't lie to me now, Scully. You can tell me the truth before you die. It can't be that he actually enjoys debating ideas with you. Your pinched little nasal voice makes me crazy after two words. Besides, women can't think like men. That's not what they're good for. I'll make him understand that, right before I watch him eat his gun over your corpse. Maybe I should a take a little taste of what he's been getting all these years." Shoving the muzzle harder into her neck, he rammed his mouth against hers, then pushed his tongue against her teeth. He growled as he felt her jaw clench tightly shut. Before he pulled back, he bit down, leaving both their lips red. He kicked at her shins while he yanked her head in an attempt to drop her to the ground, but the motion finally ripped the wig off, freeing her to stagger backward. He snarled impatiently at the blood and skin clinging to the mesh. In disgust, he turned to throw the hairpiece away into the thick grass.

{That's all I need.} Gritting her teeth against the raw stinging pain that set her vision swimming, Scully balled her fists together to pound the hand with the gun, knocking it to the grass. She followed with a kick up between his legs, then, as he doubled over, pummeled the back of his neck with her joined fingers, the blow slapping his chin against his chest.

"Bitch!" The former Consortium operative fell in a heap, clutching himself. "You evil bitch!"

She dove for the SIG before he could react. As she rolled to her knees, she instinctively assumed her two-handed firing posture, the muzzle of the gun almost touching the tip of his nose. "Back off, Krycek. You killed my sister and Mulder's father!" Her voice sounded hoarse, strange in her ears. "I'm going to put you away for the rest of your life for what you did!" She kept the weapon in place as she stood. "Now, back off!"

He issued a feral laugh. "Yeah, I did Bill Mulder. I didn't pull the trigger on your sister, but I was there. They dropped like stones." He held up both palms as he took three steps away from her, but not before they were surrounded by the grey-cowled men. He started to dive for her throat, only to find several pairs of hands reaching out to restrain him.

The face of the blond man who had shown himself earlier appeared in his line of sight. "Tribuno, you are wrong to threaten the Riata. She holds the Seat Royal."

"What?" The dark-haired operative struggled. "I can't believe that you people really think this! Don't you already have a queen?" He pulled an arm free. "You people and your love of rules. This is my office. I decide when she's the Riata, not you."

Scully found two grey-robed figures standing between her assailant and herself, facing her, so she lowered the SIG. "Thank you, Quaestores, for your assistance." {How did I know that was their title?} Two deep hoods were thrown back, then the cowl-wearers knelt.

"I can't believe this!" Krycek was howling now. "Are all of you people insane?"

The blond man bowed deeply before Scully. "Forgive us, Blessed Riata. You have shown us, by your great heart, that rules are never so absolute that we should abandon thought, discard reason. This man threatened you with death. He threatened an Atrebates, trampling the one unshakable bond on which we all depend. He admitted to the deaths of those close to you, in the past and the future. He has proven himself completely unworthy of the trust of the Fellowship and his high office. Those of us who only serve will recommend to the Brothers and Sisters he be handed to you, so that in your life in justice beyond the Ekklesia, he can be given the reward he has earned. But, you, when you were reduced to the least among us, showed yourself faithful to what is right, to the truth, without whimper or shout. When you had the means of revenge in your hands, you chose justice and mercy. You have shown us that there is always a better way. We are your humble servants." He knelt with the others not holding the struggling Krycek.

The diminutive agent studied the exposed faces for the first time, seeing quiet, earnest young men, as her brothers had once been. {Was this part of the indoctrination, or was this for real? A test, then.} "Okay, does anyone have a cell phone I could use?"

Three black units materialized in front of her.

She lifted the one in the center free, punching in a number known by heart. The Athens Bureau had issued them both European cell phones at the same numbers as their US ones, so, if the pattern held, this might just work. The buzz, then the click, in her ear told her the call had connected. "Mulder?"

"Scully!"

The shout was audible to the little knot of grey-cowled men, who glanced at each other.

She stepped out of the close circle. "Where are you?"

"Scully?" The question was barely voiced.

The scratchy, aching tenor had rolled into her ear like a balm, so she settled onto the lawn beside the drive. "That's still my name, G-man." She used the inside of the banded hem of her shirt to wipe her face free of the sweat and red.

"Scully, we've just passed through the sparkling bucolic village of High Buston, so we should be to your location in about fifteen minutes."

She peered out in both directions at the road. "So, where am I?"

The silky chuckle was soothing, familiar. "Not where you should be, Doctor."

She crossed her arm over her stomach, then, she sobered. "I have him, Mulder." She glared back at the kneeling Krycek, his hands and ankles now bound by belts. "We have him." The blond Quaestor had a thick clump of dark hair firmly in the grasp of each hand, while two stood behind him, pushing down on both shoulders. The remaining two had wrapped their belts around each muscled arm, holding him in place while staying out of his potential blows.

"Yeah. We do." He coughed. "Listen, Scully, there are people with us he won't be happy to see. I don't know how locked down he is, but make certain he can't take off on you. You have a weapon?"

"I have his weapon, Mulder. His *Bureau* weapon." She could hear him passing her comments along to others in the same vehicle as he.

There was that growl-purr again. "Always a pleasure doing business with you, Ma'am." The tenor lightened. "Hang tight, Doctor. We're almost on you."

As she terminated the call, she checked the roadway again. In the quiet, she could hear the beating of the helicopter rotors, but could see nothing. After tucking the SIG in her jeans pocket, she individually thanked the grey-cowled Quaestores gathered around Krycek, while keeping a good distance between herself and the struggling dark-haired man. Finally, she spotted two black SUV's hurtling past the rolling fields, an Airbus H175 whiffling along behind them, so she staggered partway down the drive to meet them separately. The vehicles skidded to a halt where she stood, the tall agent throwing himself out the passenger door of the first. Behind the SUV's, the helicopter blades were slowing as the landing struts settled into the loam.

His forehead deeply furrowed, Mulder was beside his partner in three leaping steps. "Scully?" His hands hovered over her bare scalp before pulling her delicately into his arms. "Oh, Scully. What they did to you. What they did." The oozing scrapes and dark blotches on her head and face kept him from instinctively tucking her under his chin, so he stepped back to hold her by both shoulders. "We found your message." He crouched to check her face, trying to bring the hazel level with the green-blue. "Are you really okay? Really?"

She turned her chin up firmly. "Yes." Feeling the battering of the past few days, she wobbled toward him. "Sorry. Tired. Haven't eaten." She sent him a tiny quirk of her cheek.

Pressing her against his chest, he sighed as she reached around his waist, then cast about in his mind for a tease that would buoy her. "You little hell-raising Pinhead, you. Talk to me."

She rested her bruised cheek against his shoulder for a moment, drawing strength from the respite he offered her, before stepping back out of his hands. "After a bottle of Advil and a long soak in a hottest water I can stand, I will be, G-man." Seeing the others gathering, she turned. "Cymru, are you alright?"

Ap Gwinn bowed deeply at the waist. "I am now." He extended his arm toward two white-haired men emerging from the now-silent helicopter, one striding forward freely, the other leaning on a lion cane as they approached. Then, awed at her composure, he gazed back at her. "See, more of your Brothers are here to welcome you to the Fellowship, Gracious Riata."

She reached out to the taller white-haired man. "Brother Suebi. So good you are here."

The elongated face bowed as he took her hands between his reddened fingers. "Riata. Your Agent Pendrell provided us the smoothest flight back I've ever taken. A marvel."

She sent a quick smile of gratitude to Arthur, who simply nodded as he clutched Terry Phillips under one arm, his helmet beneath the other, before dropping his gaze from Scully's battered form.

The man leaning on the cane with the Celtic lion stepped forward. "You were gone from us. From me. You were no longer visible."

She rested her fingers on the hand holding the alder. "Brother Pict. Dear, Faithful Brother."

Mulder eyed his partner silently, then placed a palm on her side. "How do you know him, Scully?"

She turned to look up into the darkening hazel. "I just do, somehow."

As she faced the Pict again, he sent her a broad smile, deepening creases around his warm green eyes. "Riata, ancient Queen of ancient Queens, you have returned." He propped the lion against his hip so he could wrap her face in both his soft hands, then lowered her forehead to brush his lips against it gently, before, with a sigh, he leaned back. He held her by the shoulders through several long breaths before he released her to grasp the cane again.

The white-haired Suebi crossed to where Krycek was kneeling, surrounded by the Quastores. "You lied to us, Tribuno. You said the Riata had been offered a choice. She had not. This is all your doing, this prolonged session of torture. We have taken a vote, we of the Ten. This initiation is illegitimate, and we shall proceed with persuasion, as we always should have, not your horrific coercion. You are stripped of your office and your association with the Ekklesia is terminated, permanently. You will be cast out, abandoned. The Riata will take you, and she and the Atrebates in their lives on the outside will see to it that justice is done on the other side of the pond."

"Honored Suebi, a word." The blond Quaestor moved to stand at his right shoulder. "You are wise. The Tribuno is false, bent purely on vengeance. He threatened to kill the Riata, her Atrebates, and all of us in the Ekklesia. But, the Riata has proven herself true to all of those of us here. She is as she was seen to be, and more. Do not discount the judgment from this process because of who initiated it."

The Pict stepped over to him. "Tell me more, Faithful Friend. Tell me of the proofs." The pair were walking away from the main circle of cowled men as they spoke.

"Guys!" Scully trotted over to the small clutch of FBI agents. "You came?"

Nichols glanced at Rosen. "Wouldn't want to miss this picnic, Scully." He grasped both her hands before hugging her as delicately as Mulder had.

Holding out both arms, the brunette astronomer claimed her attention next. "Hey, Scully, don't let him get you down."

Snug in the younger woman's muscled embrace, she bit her lip for a moment. "I haven't had a bath in a week. I'm sorry."

"Shh, shh. Not a problem. Shh." Rosen rubbed her short spine carefully before stepping away.

"Sir?" Scully looked up at the bespectacled Director. "Sir, how was Agent Mulder in my absence?"

A flick of brown eyes toward the tall man, a half-step behind his partner. "About as you might think, Agent Scully." He gazed down at her gently from behind the lenses. "You will be well?" His right hand reached for her elbow, but he let it drop to his side without contacting the cloth.

She straightened. "I will, Sir."

Stickle, Pendrell, and Phillips moved forward, but the Suebi's shout called their attention away.

"Tribuno! You cannot be serious. No!"

"Krycek!" The dark-haired agent's bellow snapped around the heads of those on the lawn. The partners were running, side by side, Skinner just behind them. The former operative had worked his wrists and ankles free of the leather to wrestle with the white-haired man. Light flashed off clouded metal in the hands of the two.

"Stop!" Scully dove for his waist as Mulder reached for the straps hanging from his arms.

"Drop it." The tall man's barely-voiced growl forced Krycek to comply. The former operative staggered backward as the dark-haired agent began shaking his cuffs free of his pocket. Once the restraints were in place, Mulder bent to the younger man's ear. "We have proof you killed my Father, Krycek. You won't be able to weasel your way out of this one. You're going to go away for a long, long time."

The former operative sagged in the agent's hands, trying to free himself to run.

But the Suebi was holding an ancient service revolver at the younger man's head. "You threaten the safety of every member of the Forty, Tribuno? All those on whom we depend? Then, this is the only justice you'll ever know."

Scully twisted to reach for the age-spotted hands. "No, Suebi, No. We have him. We have him!" She pulled the weapon toward the ground moments before it discharged three times. "We-" A grunt, then she crumpled into motionlessness.

Mulder tossed the handcuffed Krycek at Skinner. "Scully! No! Scully!"

--o-0-o--

End – Chermera – Once Upon A Time

End – Chermera – Part 38 of 45
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