"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 41 of 45

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Sep 10, 2020, 7:56:48 AM9/10/20
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"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 41 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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Royal Victoria Infirmary
Great North Trauma and Emergency Center
Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK
Tuesday, July 21, 1998
10:24 am

Dana Scully leaned back against the pillows. {Good thing this hospital has Internet connectivity.} She brought up the official brochure for tourists to the residence where she was first held. How had Mulder pronounced it, as they had compared mental notes on the past few days, while she had been tied down by the tubes, unable to move, and he too exhausted, even to sleep? {Fenleyding.} She opened the pdf, zooming in to the gardens. There. She had read the description several times, letting the words play in her mind. {Fenleyding, Fenrir's binding.} A long row of wormwood tracked the north side of a sinuous path, variety Fenleyding. Someone in the Suebi's past must have been an herbalist, to have created their own cultivar of artemesia, setting him on his life's profession.

At the end of the lane was a crossed-off circle, labeled, 'Abandoned mine, do not enter.' That made sense. There were coal lenses throughout the region, so for an estate to have had its own fuel source would, at one time, have been exceedingly useful. But the acrid tang of the wormword hung in her olfactory senses, pulling other remembrances along with it. {Smells have the strongest associations with memory.} Words floated back into her mind, distorted, distant. 'Good thing she never thought of going in there. We would never have been able to get her out.' She let out a long breath. {What if that had been the only refuge the Suebi could find, as the house had been broken into, before the fire began raging?} She needed to discuss this with her partner. Cradling the hand unit with her left shoulder, she tapped in his number. "Mulder?"

"Yeah, Scully, you okay?"

She took a breath to explain her theory, but stopped. She could see the tips of two black shoes just protruding past the opening. She dropped the phone to grab the revolver, leveling it at the entrance as she flipped off the safety with her thumb. "I have a weapon. I want you to step into the light very slowly, hands in the air."

"Scully!" The roar was audible, even with the hand unit dangling close to the floor.

The short figure of the 'Professor' appeared. "Don't shoot me. I was just hired to play a part."

Her eyes flared. "Fine. Then who hired you? What did he look like? Stay there!" The man was shifting as far away from the doorway as he could. "Don't move!"

"Get down, Scully!" Her partner was pounding down the hallway. "She has a weapon!"

The diminutive agent threw herself onto the tiles, just as two shots sent drywall shards flying. She scrambled to aim at the opening, where the 'Teacher' had been standing. "I have a weapon! Show yourself! Now!" She found herself coughing from the dust, red flecks spattering the tile. "Mulder! There's one here, inside the doorway!"

"I have her, Scully! You! On the ground, now!"

The tall woman complied.

"Stay there!" The dark-haired agent kicked the weapon away from her fingers to the far side of the hall. "Scully? You okay?"

She rolled to her knees to aim the revolver at the short man. "I'm good, Mulder. Is she cuffed?"

The tall agent had his SIG in the 'Teacher''s back, one cuff on her left wrist, the other on the support for the handrail running at waist height along the wall. "She's secured." He stepped into Scully's room.

"Don't shoot me, please." The little man was shaking. "She hired me. She never told me anything."

Heedless of the loose, open-backed, too-short hospital gown, the diminutive agent was walking slowly toward him, the revolver level in her left-handed grip with the grey mustache, her bare feet moving in an uneven tread. "If you were just playing a role you were assigned, then why did you enjoy hitting me with that cane so much?"

Mulder stared at her for a moment. We'll talk about this sooner than later, Scully. A feint by the 'Professor' in his partner's direction focused him. "Don't move!" He placed the muzzle of his SIG on the man's neck. "Get back down. Hands over your head, where we can see them. Legs spread." He looked over at his partner. "It's okay, Scully, just call for the orderlies, then Nichols. These two have a lot of questions to answer."

She returned to the bed to reach for the assistance button, but, the green light was dark. Her legs were shaking, now, so she folded onto the mattress. "Mulder, I'm trying Nichols." She held the hand unit to her ear. "It's dead. Toss me your cell phone." She pushed herself up on her feet.

"Hah!" The 'Professor' was snarling as the tall agent's fingers went still by his pocket. "You're not the only two who are good with technology." He pointed at the toggle in Scully's hand. "We disabled the intercoms on this floor."

"And, we can unlock Bureau cuffs." The 'Teacher' was standing in the doorway, her handgun leveled at Mulder's head. "Put down your weapons, Agent Scully, Agent Mulder."

The tall man set his SIG on the floor.

The diminutive pathologist held the revolver up, then set it on the rolling table, before her clinician's anger took over. "Someone could die, thanks to you."

The little actor pulled out his own SIG. "That's the general idea. Too bad the old man's service revolver was left in its case for so long. Alex could have put it to some good use if you hadn't wrestled it away from him, Scully. And, yes, I enjoyed caning you. Women like you, who don't know their place, you deserve it, and more."

Mulder, his jaw jutted, had his hands in the air. "So, how does this end, people?"

The 'Teacher' advanced on him. "With you two dying in each other's arms, of course." She wagged the tip of the Remington, forcing Mulder to back up beside his partner. "Like Franz Ferdinand and Sophia. How tragic." Her voice switched to a nasal sing-song. "When was that, wicked little girl?"

The pathologist shook her head. "We're not playing a game here anymore."

Mulder looked over his shoulder at Scully, who canted her eyes toward the weapon on the rolling tray. He sent her a fraction of a dip of his head.

The 'Professor' stood, shoulder to shoulder with the 'Teacher.' "No, we're not."

"Now, Scully," Mulder hissed through clenched teeth.

She dove for the revolver, then her partner threw the rolling tray at the two, who jumped out of the way. The 'Teacher''s long legs tangled with the 'Professor''s short ones, collapsing them to the floor as they struggled. "Both of you! Stay on the ground!" She was shivering, but kept her weapon aimed at them.

The tall agent kicked the guns away. "You okay, Scully?"

She nodded. A cough sent blood onto the tiles.

Mulder gritted his teeth, but managed to dial Nichols's cell phone. "We need you two in here, now. Bring the Yard. We have two of our suspects." He terminated the call, then stood by his partner. "I'd cuff them together, but, I don't think that will help." He spared her a glance as he walked over to collect their guns from where they rested against the far wall. "You really okay?"

She shrugged, but said nothing, just leveling her aim at the 'Teacher.'

To Mulder, it seemed an eternity of waiting, watching the man and the woman on the floor, looking for any motion or feint toward their weapons lying on the now-righted rolling table. His partner's ragged breathing as she wavered beside him was the only repeating counter in the eerily quiet wing of the hospital. {At least I can hear it.} Finally, at the end of the long corridor, the stairwell door clicked open, followed by Nichols's gravelly comment, "They're here, on this hall."

"Okay. Ready your weapons." Emani was obviously speaking to several compatriots. "Let's go."

Nichols, Rosen, Emani, and four Inspectors moved through the doorway, aiming their guns at the two on the floor as they entered.

Mulder pointed at the 'Teacher.' "Watch that one, she can work out of the cuffs."

After the two, an Inspector on each arm, were led away, Emani turned to the partners. "These are two of your known captors, Agent Scully?"

She nodded, then dropped the gun in her partner's hands. "It's just the older woman you have to get. They were working with Krycek. They admitted it."

The tall agent holstered both his weapons. "If you know their identities, we can tie them back to him, track some of his movements." He glanced down at his partner, waiting for her upturned face to offer her affirmation. She had been focused and active throughout the confrontation, but, now, they would see the toll her instincts were taking on her battered frame. "Scully, talk to me."

Her hand reaching to push downward on the thin hospital gown, she took a long breath. "I think Professor Rhys-Jones has concealed himself in an abandoned mine on the grounds of Fenleyding. I remember a brief discussion on it when I was recaptured." She met his inclined gaze. "That was why I called you, Mulder, to discuss where to go with my recovered memory, before I saw the leather toes of the 'Professor''s black shoes through the doorway."

He sent her a lop-sided grin. "I thought the Professor always wore blue sneakers, Mary-Ann."

Both checks creased, before a fit of coughing overtook her, leaving her doubled over where she stood. She pulled herself rigid with difficulty before she looked up at her partner. "Sorry. Mulder, I thought this was healing."

The tall agent carefully wrapped an arm around her back to guide her toward the head of the bed, as he cast about in his mind for a comment that would keep her focused. "You may be right, Scully. He explained in the helo that Fenleyding was his favorite estate. He would have played on the grounds as a child and should know it better than anyone else."

"Yes." It was all she could manage before she started coughing again, red appearing on the white of the shoulder of her partner's shirt.

He held her upright, both of them perched on the edge of the mattress.

Rosen was in the doorway. "I'm going off to find a nurse, Nic. I don't like this."

The ASAC sent her an affirming nod. "There are other patients who need attending, too, Ros."

But the elevator doors were opening, worried staff spilling out. The brunette astronomer waved to Doctor Harris. "Please, it's Agent Scully."

The grey-haired man spun into the room, then stopped at the sight of the motionless woman in Mulder's arms, her gauze-wrapped head limp against his chest. "Gurney!" At the looks of horror on the faces of the four officers, he tried a small joke for reassurance. "I think Doctor Scully will have me redoing some of my best handiwork."

Feeling desperately helpless, Mulder simply tightened his grip on his partner.

Chattering wheels called the surgeon's attention to the door. "In here!"

The pallet coming to a stop beside him, Mulder slid his arm under Scully's knees to lift her onto the mattress, releasing her slowly as the orderlies began applying compression to the chest wound. When the men began moving her out of the room, the tall agent, his face darkening, fell in step behind them.

Harris grasped Mulder's shoulder as he passed. "We'll take it from here." The gentle command, full of compassion, stopped the dark-haired man's relentless motion.

Once the elevator doors had rolled closed behind the doctor and two orderlies, Mulder reached into his pocket to extract ap Gwinn's card. After all three had joined him in the corridor, he held it toward Rosen, who was standing between Emani and Nichols. "Call this number. If Rhys-Jones is hiding in the mine, a friendly voice may help you talk him out."

Nichols gripped Mulder's elbow. "Chief, one of us can stay with you."

The hazel eyes sent out depthless gratitude, but he shook his head. "I'll wait here. Scully will be fine." He crossed his arms. "She has to be. You two have to go get Rhys-Jones before it's too late." After a glance into the now-unoccupied room, the bed canted at an angle, the table pushed against the wall, he headed toward the waiting area outside surgery.

--o-0-o--

Dark Apartment
Washington, DC
Tuesday, 9:41 am

The old spy swiveled the rocker at the rasp of the key in the lock. There was one other person who had access to this space, but it was not the building manager. He had paid good money, many years ago, so that would be the case.

Frijdolf, still in his dark blue uniform, was standing in the open entry. "There you are, you old Devil. You haven't aged a day."

The Smoker slid to his feet, then waved at the recliner. "You told me to be here, so I waited. A beer, or have you been spoiled by decades of British ale?"

The slight man lowered himself into the cushions. "This is the same one I bought you? Who knew Mephistopheles was sentimental."

Age-spotted hands set up a folding chair. "Why waste money if it still works?" After he sat, he crossed his arms. "So, what news from beyond the Pond?"

Frijdolf leaned forward. "That weasel Krycek was unable to finish the job."

"I expected no other from that self-promoting, spoiled child." He reached for the red and white packet, but dropped it. "So, is Dana Scully the Riata now, her loyalties forever divided between them and the Bureau? Or has she been removed from play permanently?"

The man in the recliner sighed. "I could not tell. There will be no glorious ceremony of initiation, but, she is ensconced in the trauma unit in Newcastle, Bill's boy standing guard over her like Ajax over Patroclus. Whether she lives, only the surgeon's skills will determine. Rhys-Jones was deeply disturbed by the events at Tyrgleipnir, so I took him home to Fenleyding."

"All went there as we have planned?"

"Yes. That silly little woman you found for me staged a break-in, so he wanted to hide. I helped him to a place of safety."

"One so secure he will never be found again?"

"Yes. I followed your methods precisely, so no ties can be established back to us. Time and exposure will do its work, and the fires will erase his evidence. Then, the surveillance of us and the Europeans will cease. The rest of his Fellowship does not know how he monitors their enemies, so their stream of knowledge will be choked off."

"Ah. What of the Europeans?"

"They are in close communication with the Japanese. James Andrews has been their conduit."

"Yes." Now, the cellophane rattled. "It is as Amanda has discerned."

"I see. You have had some luck with your former associates, then?"

A click, then there was an orange glow. "With three of her, we could regain our former status, my friend." A sigh, then rings of blue smoke appeared. "But, she is only one. And she is often distracted by her ever-attentive consort. He, too, will have his uses, so he cannot simply have an accident."

"One more matter."

"Yes?"

"Krycek has turned the MJ tape over to the Forty. If it were to be used as an attraction to bring Dana Scully into their fold, then much damage would ensue."

More blue swirls billowed. "Less than you think. The documents contained on it pertain mostly to the US operations, less to the Europeans or the Japanese. With the precipitate actions of my young colleagues, nearly all of that information on us is obsolete, meaningless."

"But, not all of it."

"Of course not. That old Indian encoded much for us, but, as you say, not all of it, so even the evidence of the Bureau's recordings from his memories is incomplete. A few of us are still alive, and for Caroline's son to learn the full extent of our actions would stoke the fires of his heart. As of now, he has all he thinks he desires: his sister, knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence working its way though World culture, our apparent exposure, status in the Bureau, more members of his flock. The Truth, as our old friend liked to call it, is finally 'out there' for all to see. His work appears to consist of putting us away, we, the Japanese, and the Europeans. Then he can return to his monsters and mutants."

"But the tape would tell him there is still more to be exposed."

"It would. We were able to extract it before he understood any of it before. While Doctor Scully had diligently read far more of the contents than he, her knowledge of us is less extensive, so there were fewer connections she could have made, even with her encyclopedic study of the Bureau's X-Files. If she were to join the Forty, and if Rhys-Jones lives, there is much he could tell her that would spur her to action as well."

Frijdolf nodded. "Then, it would be better the tape should disappear, once more."

"Indeed. It should be made so."

"What of Krycek? He is in the possession of the FBI as we speak."

A snap of yellowed fingers rang in the bare room. "What of him? Let him rot. He is the Bureau's burden now, not ours, as the Assistant Director will soon learn. Should it appear as if he is about to tell the Department of Justice something useful, we have ways of preventing that, even as he rests behind bars. So, my friend, shall we share a meal before you go?"

"Ah. That would be most pleasant."

"Then let me take care of a few matters of the flesh, and we can be on our way. Old Ebbitt? They should be open now."

"Hah! Haven't been there in years. Just the thing. My stomach thinks it is well past lunch."

"Then I'll be just a moment." The old spy detoured into his bedroom to reach into the bottom drawer of his dresser for a leather case. {Trust no one, as our old friend would advise.} "Won't be a minute!"

But there was no answer as he noiselessly slid bullets into the chambers.

When he stepped into his front space again, the leather seat was empty, the door hung open. {You know me too well, old friend. We shall not see each other again.} He returned to the bedroom to unload the Smith and Wesson. Finished, he walked back to his living room, picked up his briefcase set by the door, shrugged into his jacket, then locked the apartment after he stepped out. {To work, then.}

--o-0-o--

End – Chermera – Part 41 of 45
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