"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 39 of 45

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Sep 10, 2020, 7:55:12 AM9/10/20
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"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 39 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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Chapter VIII – Fall Out

-----o------------------------------------o-----

The President: We have just witness two forms of revolt. The first, uncoordinated youth, rebelling against nothing it can define. The second, an established, successful, secure member of the establishment, turning upon and biting the hand that feeds him. Whether these actions are dangerous, they contribute nothing to our culture and are to be stamped out!

Hooded, masked audience applauds wildly. The masks are half black, and half white. The President strikes the gavel on the pad once. The green eye on the rocket labeled '1' starts flashing, and the screen shows two real estate agents removing the 'For Sale' sign from the fence in front of The Prisoner's townhouse.

The President: (speaking over video of the townhouse) At the other end of the scale, we are honoured to have with us

(The Prisoner watches from the seat of honour)

a revolutionary of different caliber. He has revolted, resisted, fought, held fast, maintained, destroyed resistance, overcome coercion. The right to be person, someone, or individual. We applaud his private war and concede that despite materialistic efforts, he has survived intact and secure. All that remains is, recognition of a man, a man of steel, a man magnificently equipped to lead us, that is, lead us, or go. In this connection, we have a prize.

(treasure chest is rolled in on a cart by a masked hooded figure)

You will see that your home is being made ready. Above and beyond this, we have the means for you to desert us and go anywhere.

(the chest on the cart is stopped in front of The Prisoner)

Key to your house. Traveler's cheques, a million. Passport, valid for anywhere. And, uh, petty cash. You are free to go.

The Prisoner: Free to go.

The President: Anywhere.

The Prisoner: Why?

The President: You have been such an example to us.

The Prisoner: Why?

The President: You have convinced us of our mistake.

The Prisoner: (growls) Why?

The President: You're pure; you know the way, show us.

The Prisoner: (cheerfully) Why?

The President: Your revolt is good and honest. You are the only individual. We need you.

The Prisoner: I see.

The President: You do. You see all.

The Prisoner: I'm an individual?

The President: You are on your own.

The Prisoner: I fail to see.

The President: All about you is yours. We concede. We offer. We plead for you to lead us.

The Prisoner: Or go.

The President: Go if you wish.

The Prisoner: I, I don't know.

The President: Take the stand. Address us.

The Prisoner: Should I?

The President: You must. You are the greatest. Make a statement, a true statement which could only be yours, but for us. Remember us, don't forget us. Keep us in mind. There, we are all yours.

The Prisoner descends from the seat of honour, takes the passport, traveler's cheques, key, and petty cash. To the ecstatic applause of the robed, masked audience, he crosses the room, ascends the President's podium, bows to the audience, pockets the petty cash, strikes the gavel once, and begins to speak.

The Prisoner: I-

The audience shouts 'I' repeatedly and raucously. After several attempts to begin to speak, each time beginning with 'I', and each time, being drowned out by the shouting, repeating audience, The Prisoner simply continues to speak. Any words he says are lost in the shouts of the audience as the President looks on, a smug expression on his face. The Prisoner finishes, as the audience is on its feet, still shouting 'I' repeatedly.

The President: (raises hand, audience cheers, quiets, and sits) There, on behalf of us all, we thank you.

The Prisoner looks down, confused.

The President: And, now I take it, you are prepared to meet, uh, Number One.

The Prisoner still looks confused.

The President: Follow me, if you would be so kind, Sir.

The Prisoner turns, looks back at the now silent audience, descends the steps of the podium, and follows the President as "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" plays.

Fall Out

-----o----------------------------------o-----

Tyrgleipnir, Northumbria
Sunday, July 19, 1998
1:03 pm

Alex Krycek struggled against Walter Skinner's hold. "Hey, let me go! This was all their idea!" He tried kicking at the loam, but, the former Marine had him in a hammerlock.

"I doubt that." The bald Director flicked his eyes toward the dark-haired agent, who was hovering over his supine partner. "Talk to me, Mulder!"

But the tall man heard nothing except Scully's rattling gasps, saw nothing but the blood on the right side of her chest, and, incredibly, her green-blue eyes locked on his gaze. "Scully?"

"Mulder, listen to me. Mulder?"

After tearing off his FBI jacket to ball it up, he pressed the black canvas against the spreading red. "Okay. It'll be okay."

"Mulder!"

He focused on her face. "Scully?"

She grasped his right wrist with her left hand. "This isn't fatal." She coughed. "Keep the compression in place. Push down hard. It won't hurt any worse than it already does." As he complied, her lips set in a firm line, since the pain had morphed her words of encouragement into shouting lies.

Nichols bent over them both. "Mulder? Scully?"

They twisted to look up at him.

The ASAC was grasping both his knees to keep himself upright. "We can have you to a hospital in Newcastle in twenty minutes, a half an hour, tops. Ap Gwinn is getting the airspace cleared to the trauma center there."

Behind them, they could hear the rotors spinning up.

Mulder checked back over his shoulder. "Sir?"

Skinner set his jaw firmly. "He's not going anywhere. Look to your partner, Agent Mulder."

He squeezed the jacket into a smaller ball, before bending close to his partner's ear. "Scully, you're panting, but I can barely hear you breathing."

Her grip on his wrist tightened. "Pneumothorax. My right lung has collapsed." The alto was breathy and raspy. "It sounds worse than it is. Mulder, Krycek's gun is in my pocket. You need to take it out and hang onto it before I go into surgery."

He looked up helplessly, finally catching Rosen's eye.

She knelt beside them both. "Okay, what do you two need?"

He gestured with his head toward the bulge in his partner's jeans pocket. "That's Krycek's gun. We need it for evidence. Make sure you don't lose it, Rosen."

The brunette astronomer slid the weapon out, checking the safety before tucking it in her waistband. "I won't. I know how important it is. But, we need to move Scully to the helicopter." She twisted to look up at her former partner, standing over them all, then at the others gathering around.

Stickle was hovering in the middle of the lawn, looking pale and lost. Feeling at loose ends, Terry Phillips, waiting a few feet away, was watching Pendrell in the pilot's seat of the helicopter.

Nichols waved them over. "Agent Stickle, Agent Phillips. Go into the house and see if you can find something we can move Scully on."

Suddenly focused, the blond Agent grabbed the nearest Quaestor by the arm. "Help me with this."

Phillips, her jaw firm, was sprinting toward the back entrance.

The grey-cowled man looked to the Suebi, who was swaying on his feet, his hands still on his face, blocking his view of the horror he had unleashed, so the Quaestor turned to several of the others. "Search for a board, or even a light tabletop. Hurry! This is for the Riata!" They scrambled back over the lawn.

The Pict and the blond Quaestor emerged from behind the side of the building, their faces registering only curiosity as to the source of the explosions they had heard. But, their composure fell away to shock at the scene in front of them. The man with the lion cane headed toward his supine Riata, only to be waylaid by Rosen, who, in a barrage of whispers, briefed him on the situation. A single nod of a white head, then he turned to approach the Suebi. After a short conversation, the Pict directed the blond Quaestor toward the house. When the younger man emerged with the others, they were carrying a stretcher, stored at Tyrgleipnir between village rugby tournaments, toward the woman on the ground. As the pathologist was rushed toward the helicopter, the Pict again approached the Suebi, now clutching his knees in a huddle on the grass. The man with the lion cane rested a hand on his Brother's shoulder as the rotors spun up, then the Riata, her Atrebates, Agent Arthur Pendrell, and Professor Andrea Rosen were borne into the sky.

--o-0-o--

142 Curie Avenue
University City
San Diego, CA
Sunday, 4:37 am

Sandra Miller bent over the sleeping Jerry Donato, who was stretched out on her sofa. "Hey. It's okay." She pressed down on his shoulder as the black-haired man, eyes still closed, was feeling around for his weapon. "Really. We're okay."

He swung his feet, still in their black socks, to the floor. "What? Sandie?"

She settled beside him. "You don't need to check the windows and doors again, Jerry, I just heard from Andrea Rosen. They're on a case in the UK, which is why I couldn't reach Fox when I landed."

He blinked at her several times. "No more information than that? Nothing about the British Embassy in DC?" He fumbled for the remote. "We saw Director Skinner and Agent Mulder outside, but not Agent Scully. There has to be a connection." As the screen flared into brightness, the CNN logo swirled, but the 'Breaking News' was about a fire on a cruise ship. "Shoot, they've moved on."

Sandra picked Salazar up off the floor to cuddle his vibrating body. "That's what twenty-four hour news is all about: flit, flit, flit. They did manage to focus on it for five days, but nothing new was being released. Next it'll be some celebrity divorce, just watch." Tuggles trotted past the screen, then circled several times, the fan tail waving in the blue light. "I'll feed them. It's the only way we can get some peace and quiet, now." The British Shorthair still in her arms, she rose.

He followed along behind her. "Sandie, I'm sorry." The black-haired detective watched as Salazar pushed off her chest to leap into the kitchen ahead of her. Both felines settled to wait, blinking while they bobbed expectantly.

Having scraped breakfast onto one plate, she was piling food onto the other, but stopped, fork in mid-air, to look over at him. "Whatever for, Jerry?"

He rubbed the back of his neck as he leaned against the counter. "Ah. I was worried. I overreacted when your brother called."

She sent him a lop-sided grin as the white plates lowered to the floor. "Don't fret, Jer." She brushed his shoulder with hers as she began rinsing out the container. "I've been positively spoiled these past three weeks. You've been here when you weren't on duty. Mom and Max and Fox were so attentive. Mom just watched me work." She smiled gently. "Max was so happy to trot out the Fluid Dynamics he had learned in Vienna over dinner. Fox was my goofy brother again, finally."

The thick-chested detective pushed her loose curls back off her face, then over her shoulder. "Some people deserve it, Sandie."

The can rattled as it and its lid dropped into the recycling bin. She stepped close to him. "Jerry." She landed a passing kiss on his nose before squeezing dishwashing soap into the sink, a faint lavender scent rising as it hit the hot water. "You don't have to sleep on the sofa like a watchful knight. Head upstairs for a few more hours, if you want. The sheets on the guest bed were washed before I left for Santorini."

He reached toward her elbow, then dropped his hand to his side. "Ah, I should go home and get showered and changed. It's roll call at seven, and you have to get to campus to work on your papers." He watched her finish washing utensils and dishes in silence, then found himself lifting a red checked towel off a hook to apply to the standing crockery.

When the plates and fork were tucked away, she took the cloth from his fingers to dry her hands, then dropped it on the counter. "Jerry." She was studying his face carefully. "I wanted to give you this, but there was too much going on when I landed." She slipped diffidently to his side. "Close your eyes."

He held his breath as he complied. The brush of her lips on his was tentative, then firm and warm. He wrapped his arms around her cinch waist as hers encased his thick shoulders. He had not expected this now, but pulled her tightly against him nonetheless.

"Yeow!" The insistent pronouncement from the floor set them both laughing as they leaned against each other for a few more moments.

Still smiling, Jerry released Sandra. "Kids. Gotta love'em." He grasped her cheek briefly, then turned to head to the sofa. "See you tonight, Professor." He was wiggling into his leather shoes as she walked to the door to grasp the latch.

--o-0-o--

Royal Victoria Infirmary
Great North Trauma and Emergency Center
Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK
Sunday, 1:29 pm

Fox Mulder staggered into the waiting area with Andrea Rosen striding purposefully on his heels.

A nurse in green scrubs looked up at their arrival. "Gurney!" She crossed the room to the agents. "Sir, where are you injured?"

He glanced down his shirt, red on white, before shaking his head. "I'm okay. It's my partner, Dana Scully. She was just brought in with a gunshot wound to the chest. You need to know her condition."

The tiny woman smiled gently at him. "Oh, yes, you're the American FBI agents who just landed. We've been expecting you. We have her in surgery now, so, have a seat. I'll be there to take her information shortly." She turned to trot back to the nursing station.

He was reaching into his back pocket for his wallet. "You'll need this."

She looked over her shoulder at him. "You shan't have to worry about your card, this is the UK. I just need to know if she's on any medications. She was conscious and communicative when she was brought into surgery, so they know in OR, but it will be required to tailor the rest of her treatments. Have a seat, both of you."

The brunette astronomer watched her walking briskly away. "They've been expecting us?"

He sagged into a nearby chair. "The guy with the lion cane is the MP for Inverness, and a couple of other places I don't remember right now." He sighed. "Yeah, Strathspey, that was one of them. He grabbed his cell phone on the way out of their chamber, so he's probably the one who made the connection." At her wrinkled forehead, he sent her a lop-sided grin. "He's House of Commons, Scottish Nationalist Party, Rosen. Three hours is a long flight with two men old enough to be my Dad. Once the pair of them found out I went to Oxford, suddenly I wasn't such a hopelessly ignorant American, and they started chattering to me as if we were all old school chums."

As she settled beside him, she crossed her black-clad legs at the ankles. "That's the one who acted like he knew Scully, right?"

Mulder was rubbing his eyes with his finger and thumb, attempting to project a confidence he didn't necessarily feel. "Yeah, and she knew him, too, somehow. The Doctor and I will need to have a little chat when she's up and around. There's a lot more to this organization than we understand."

As the nurse approached, clipboard in hand, Rosen took out her cell phone. "I'm calling Nic, Mulder. We need to get you out of that shirt." At his startled glance, she gestured with her head to two women waiting several rows across from them. "They keep stealing looks over here, checking that red on you, and looking back to the nurse's station."

With a snort, he slid the typewritten list Scully had made up in Atlantis from his wallet, then unfolded the triangle into a thin strip.

--o-0-o--

Royal Victoria Infirmary
Great North Trauma and Emergency Center
Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK
Sunday, 4:53 pm

Phil Nichols entered the waiting area at the same time as the double glass doors rolled open. He watched as the surgeon and Mulder crossed the space, meeting in the center.

The grey-haired doctor was slipping off his cap. "You're the agents from the Bureau?"

"How is she?" Practically nose to nose with a man almost as slender as himself, Mulder had his fists on his hips. "When can I see her?"

The physician cocked a still-dark eyebrow. "I forget how pushy we Americans can be. She's out of the woods. We'll need to leave the tube in place while the lung repairs itself and we monitor the internal damage from the gunshot wound, but it's not nearly as bad as some I've worked on. The bullet missed her scapula and her spinal column, but grazed two of her ribs. It cracked one, but not the other. Since neither shattered, we didn't have the amount of internal bleeding that can happen. As for when you can see her, she's in recovery right now. When we're sure she's stable, she'll be moved to a regular room."

Mulder was shaking his head. "She's my partner. That's-"

"Fine, Chief. That's fine." The balding Montanan took hold of Mulder's arm. "She's in good hands."

The hazel flicked from one man's face to the other. "No. I need-"

The surgeon sighed. "Okay, my brother-in-law is Bureau, so I know how you guys operate. Only, just for a few minutes. I'll take you in and bring you out, but, that's it. No more."

"Mulder - " Rosen stopped at a sharp backward glare.

The glass parting ahead of them, the dark-haired agent walked side by side with the surgeon. "You're American? Doctor?"

"George Harris, the father, not the son." The grey-haired man eyed the tall agent as his lips quirked. "From Los Angeles. My wife and I moved here about three years ago for her engineering professorship. It's easier doing emergency work here. Better hours, a lot more support, and many fewer cases. This is the first gunshot wound I've seen since we had an accidental weapons discharge flown down from the Hebrides a couple of years ago." They fell into silence as they walked, only the sounds of their footsteps ringing in the brightly-lit corridor. Harris stopped by a glass wall with a view into a recovery room. "She's here. The orderlies have her settled and in good order."

Mulder propped one hand on the steel frame as he checked inside. His partner was still under an oxygen mask, tubes running out of her chest, monitors hooked to her forehead, chest, and fingertip, gauze wrapping her scalp. An IV was pumping fluids into her left arm. Minus the mocking figure in his nightmare, this was exactly the scene that had awakened him in terror in the night to send him stumbling out of his apartment to her. He whispered her name once.

Holding out a face mask and latex gloves, Harris touched the dark-haired man's shoulder. "Here. Put these on and come with me as I check her vitals." He was fastening his own mask in place as the agent wiggled the sheaths on his fingers. "Tell me, why was she so dehydrated?"

"She'd been taken hostage, flown across the Atlantic, and confined for the past four days. She'd tried several escapes, which probably didn't sit well with her captors." The tall agent looked over somberly. "The gunshot happened while we were apprehending a suspect."

The grey-haired man eyed him. "We, as in both of you? Her injuries and physical condition, outside of the gunshot, would have debilitated many people."

Mulder shrugged. "Yeah. Most of our team from the States was there as well. But when she gets her back up, it's best to just roll with it." He sent the surgeon a grim smile before settling the cloth in place.

Harris chuckled as he stepped through the entry. "Sounds like she comes by that red hair honestly."

"She does." The dark-haired agent lapsed into silence, since he had passed into the room. He had wrapped both his hands around her left palm, before noticing the traces reading out on the screen by his face. "Why are you monitoring her brainwaves? She didn't have brain damage, did she? She had suffered a slight concussion a few months ago. If that-"

Without looking up from his check of the incision with the tubes, Harris shook his head. "It's just a precaution, with all that trauma to her face and skull. She was very alert when she was brought in, asking a lot of questions and giving directions. She told us about the injury from the Courthouse explosion. I didn't recognize her as the FBI Agent the media were discussing at the time. But, she was able to list the medication dosages she takes exactly, so there likely wasn't further injury."

Mulder found himself smiling behind the mask. "She's a pathologist. She probably told you that at least three times before you put her out. She had been giving me EMT instructions throughout the helo ride here." One long finger ran down her battered jawline. "Looks like we're even in the rib count, right, Doctor?" The tenor was barely voiced.

Now, Harris glanced over before he chuckled. "Oh, you mean your partner, not myself." He straightened. "I'm done. We should go, Agent?"

"Mulder." The hazel was still fixed on her face, but both hands were enclosing her fingers again. "Yeah. She. The Doctor."

"As many lives as?"

"Seems like it, so far." He sighed.

"We should let her rest, Agent Mulder."

"Yeah, sure." He was running his thumb along the prickly lines on her brows, trying to smooth them down. {They even shaved those off?}

"Agent Mulder?"

At the tap on his latex-sheathed wrist, the dark-haired man looked up. "Yeah?"

"That means you need to let go."

"Okay." Reluctantly, he straightened her fingers on the sheets before stepping back.

Harris held out his arm. "Not a problem. I know what it's like to have a fierce woman in one's life." More than that, he would not presume. They walked out side-by-side. "Agent Mulder, it'll be a few hours." As his name was called over the intercom, he patted the tall man's shoulder. "I don't have to tell you the way."

--o-0-o--

Walter Skinner was pacing when Mulder returned to the waiting area. As he emerged, the bald Director crossed to stand in front of him. "What is her condition?" He had no idea how his agent had finagled a trip past the operating theatre doors, but, after so many years, was no longer surprised by it.

The dark-haired man crossed his arms, the mask and gloves dangling from his fingers. "She's in recovery right now, Sir. She's not yet awakened, but the Doctor says she'll make it."

The Assistant Director put his hands on his hips, pushing his black FBI jacket behind them. "Ap Gwinn has arranged for Agents Pendrell, Phillips, Stickle, and myself to take the Embassy Gulfstream back to the States. We have Marshals standing by to accompany Krycek to federal prison to await a preliminary hearing. Doctor Rosen gave me his gun. Do you still have the slug from your Father?"

Mulder extracted the plastic-encased bullet from his wallet to drop it in the waiting palm. It seemed like an age since his partner had handed it off to him in West Tisbury. "He'll serve time for one of his murders, anyway. What we do for Agent Scully's sister, I don't know. The bullet was removed and discarded during her emergency surgery, according to Mrs. Scully."

The bald man offered a silent huff. "One is sufficient, Agent. The threat of life in prison loosens many tongues, and the Smoker has let him hang out there long enough." Once the evidence was secured, Skinner gritted his teeth. "Now, I'm giving you an order, Mulder. Nichols and Rosen are staying behind to back you two up. ASAC Nichols has a hotel room. I'm requiring that you let him drive you there for a shower and several hours rest. Is that clear?"

The balding Montanan took the younger man by the elbow. "Come on, Chief. Ros will let us know if there's any change, or when she's moved to the private room. You've been running on stale coffee and adrenaline fumes since you landed at Dulles."

Rosen made shooing motions toward the door. "I'd alerted Cynthia so she's aware of all the travel schedules. I also took it upon myself to check in with Sandra, Mulder, while we waited outside Tyrgleipnir for you to get back from Cambridge. No details, just that you and Scully had been called overseas suddenly on a case, and that you were fine, which relieved her mind. She'd been trying to contact you for several days, at X-Files East, your apartment, and your cell."

He checked the phone he took from his pocket numbly, quickly scrolling through the messages and missed calls. "She's okay, right?"

Nichols was tugging on his arm. "You can ring her as we drive, Chief, how's that?"

--o-0-o--

End – Chermera – Part 39 of 45
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