"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 45 of 45

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Mary Keller

Sep 10, 2020, 8:00:02 AM9/10/20
"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 45 of 45
E-mail: mrke...@eclipse.net, mrkel...@gmail.com
PG-13 X-File: Myth-arc Disclaimed in Part I
Already sent to Gossamer

Apartment 42
Arlington, VA
Monday, August 10, 1998
8:17 pm

Fox Mulder dropped his running shoe on the futon at the knock on the door. "Coming!" There was no response, which immediately had him seeking the location of his SIG. {There, next to the answering machine.} He slid his weapon free, then padded to the hall. A peek through the spyhole had him lowering the gun. His partner was without, still in the pale green shell and charcoal suit she had worn to work, but she had swapped out the flat black pumps for her equally dark walking shoes. To his surprise, she was pacing, chewing her lip, not standing rigid in front of the bronze numbers as she usually would. He unlocked the door. "Hey, Scully, what's up?"

She was almost at the far end of the short hall as she turned. Eyeing his faded Bureau t-shirt and tight-fitting shorts, she took a step back. "Oh, my apologies, Mulder, I'll let you get to your run." She started toward the elevator.

But he grasped her arm as she passed him. "No, not a problem. I got one in this morning, and I was a little bored, so I thought I'd work off some of those beans and greens and stout brown bread someone made me eat last night."

She sent him a small grin, which told him whatever had her spinning outside his entry couldn't be dire. "Thank you. It was nice to sleep in my own bed, even if it's getting too soft for me."

He tugged at her jacket sleeve. "Scully, come in."

She let herself be guided through the opening. "I'll not keep you for long, in case you change your mind. I just needed to give you an update and get some advice."

That brought him to a halt, but not turning to face her. {She needs my advice?} "Hey, grab whatever's non-toxic in the fridge and I'll be right there." He raced to the bedroom to quickly throw a pair of jeans over the black latex shorts. When he returned, she was poised primly on the edge of one of the mission chairs, a water bottle balanced on her palm. {Whatever you want to say to me, Scully, you look like you've thought about it so much you've memorized it already.} He flopped into the other. "So, go." He tugged at her sleeve again.

She rotated the plastic, a ring of condensation collecting in her hand, then looked over at him. "Mulder, first, I'm here looking for the advice of a friend who understands the situation. I don't want this to obstruct or derail our work in any way. But, I don't know whom to consult other than you."

He shifted. {No, it's serious.} "I'm listening." He held out both hands. "Please."

She set the bottle on one of the tiles of the coffee table. "I received two phone calls tonight, one right after the other." She settled back an inch or two. "Caroline called." She allowed herself a gentle smile. "You Mother is just the soul of graciousness, Mulder. She thanked me for my help with Sandra, getting you two together, and to Santorini."

He nodded, but said nothing.

"Then, she apologized for not filling me in on the situation with your Father's final resting place." She rubbed both hands together. "I told her, and I meant this sincerely, that she had nothing to apologize for. You, she, and your Father had entered into a confidential agreement. She kept that confidence, which was the honorable thing to do." She reached for his dangling fingers. "So did you, until it became part of an investigation, when there can be no secrets between us."

He returned the clasp, then propped his chin in his palm. "Agreed, Scully. Why do I have the feeling there's another shoe?"

She sighed as she slid her hand back into her lap. "Your sister is Caroline's daughter, in every way. But, she's used to life in a relatively sane world, which isn't ours." They exchanged small grins. "Once she learned we were in the UK she took it upon herself, with only kindness in her heart, to alert my family that we were overseas, simply as a precaution."

"Ah." Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees. "That probably didn't sit well with the Paterfamilias, did it?"

She shook her head. "Fortunately, it was my Mom who answered the phone, so kept it quiet. It was Mom who called me right after Caroline. She had left several messages on my answering machine from her cell while we were away but I hadn't yet returned them. She was babysitting while Bill and Liz were out grocery shopping, so she could speak without interruption."

He settled against the thin cushion, throwing out his arm to touch the back of her seat. "How much did you tell her?"

She shook her left hand, sending what few drops remained onto the wool Navajo rug. "Only the barest minimum required. We were investigating some information we had recently uncovered, data that took us overseas. Not anything about your Father, the Forty, or Gradus Absoluta, and nothing about my stay in the hospital, or why. She liked hearing about House Derwbryn, though. I knew she would."

"Then, you did right, Scully." He touched her arm. "So, why did you need my advice?"

She settled back, then rubbed her eyes. "I need to warn Sandra about my brothers, and I need to be careful." She looked over at him again. "You, Caroline, Max, and she are just at the beginning of becoming a real family, and I don't want my problems to interfere with that in any way." She clasped her hands together, interlacing the fingers, before dropping her gaze to her knuckles. "It upset her so when we told her the truth about the Smoker. I need to pick my words carefully so that won't happen again." She sent him a tentative half-smile. "Human interactions are such a mine field. You've spent more time with her, Mulder. How should I go about this?"

He chewed his lip for a moment, then queried Socratically, "How would you tell me?"

She arched her shoulders. "I'd lay out the facts dispassionately, but not embellish, waiting for you to ask me questions so we could hash it out between us. Then, I'd try to summarize what we needed to know. If Sandra and I were discussing some research, or participating in an investigation together, I'd do the same."

He patted her shoulder. "Then, try that. We can give her a call now, if that would help." He bent forward. "Would you like to place this call from the Gunmen's so it's encrypted?

She shook her short auburn curls. "No, there's nothing we'll be discussing that we need to keep concealed, but, the Guys don't need to hear my problems either. We take up enough of their time and energy with our X-Files investigations."

He snorted. "Besides, Bill might pop a gasket when he pulled open his front door at the sight of a short, bespectacled knight in chain mail, challenging him to a duel with a sword at his throat." He grasped his own neck with both hands, then let out a few choking gasps in mockery. At her delighted smile, he rose to retrieve his cordless landline phone, which he rested beside the clear plastic. "Although, knowing Sandie, once she heard about your troubles, Scully, I'd half expect *her* to fly to the East Coast and give him a good sock in the jaw." He reached for the water bottle. {Unopened, as I expected.} "I've thought about that myself, but, it would only make matters worse. She could get away with it."

She reached for his arm. "Thank you. If you don't mind?"

He passed the black unit to her before settling back in the chair.

The diminutive agent leaned forward. "What's her number again?"

He pointed. "Number four, Scully. I dropped the Miami house number because Mom and Max haven't used it in a year and a half."

A single tap. "This is her cell phone?" She put the unit on broadcast.

"Yeah. I probably won't call her at her - Hey, Sandie!"

"Fox? Is that you? Are you and Dana okay?"

He grinned. "Yeah, we are. Scully's here, too. We needed to speak with you about something." The hazel canted toward his partner.

Scully clasped her hands together again. "Sandra, first of all, thank you for calling my family to let them know I was out of the country. That was very kind of you, and something I don't always remember to do."

A growl-chuckle issued from the standing unit. "Not a problem, Dana. I take it you'd rather keep your professional life separate from your family life? Is this some Bureau protocol I've stepped on?"

The auburn curls bobbed up and down. "Yes, and no. Sometimes our cases take us from one end of the country to the other on a few minutes notice, and it's hard even for us to keep track." She and her partner exchanged smirks. "As far as the Bureau goes, as long as it doesn't compromise operations, they don't issue any particular guidance. They train us to use our independent judgment."

"But not always in the cases of the X-Files, Sandra." Mulder twisted on the seat. "Usually, the less the Bureau political types are aware of what we do, the better off we are."

"Okay, I'll remember that." A slight cough emanated from the speaker. "Now, other shoe?"

Scully canted her green-blue eyes quickly toward her partner, who was wiggling with glee at his sister's choice of phrase. "Here it is. There's a situation in my personal life you need to be aware of. The whys and the wherefores aren't important; in fact, I don't quite understand how this all developed myself, but, my brothers aren't very happy with me right now."

A snort rattled out of the tiny speaker. "Dana, I don't mean to belittle your concerns, but, that's crazy. They should be proud and thrilled to have someone as accomplished as you for a sister. I know I would be. But, okay, sorry to interrupt. Go on."

When her partner pushed on her shoulder, the diminutive agent glanced over, just catching the smirk on his 'Told you so!' face. "No, no, Sandra, that's alright. I appreciate the support."

"They're Navy, aren't they?"

"Yes, both of them are, just as my Father was."

"Yeah." Sandra drew out the word into three syllables. "We get enough of those types around the area with the Naval bases. They're all for family, family, as long as it's a specific and very limited definition of one." She snorted. "Let me guess, they think it's wrong you're single, devoted to your work, not even dating or especially concerned."

The dark-haired agent crossed his arms. "We'll have to catch you up, Sandie. They don't get that women are people first, with brains and character and heart." He couldn't help but send a broad grin to his partner, who was still staring at her hands, her face coloring. "They'd rather specific classes of humanity stay in the boxes they've created in their own minds. We have those types in the Bureau."

A sigh emerged noisily from the phone. "Yeah, women are all just supposed to be walking fetus factories, according to them. We get the right-wing religious spouting 'Family Values' out here, too. So, Dana, how do you want me to handle this?"

Scully sent her gratitude to her partner with a glance, then faced the phone. "Caroline knows how this work goes, Sandra, and how crazy our lives can become at times, so you can discuss this with her, quite freely. My mother understands a little bit of what we do, but, I keep the more unpleasant details from her. My brothers-" She paused to shake her head. "-I only speak with them when it's unavoidable."

"And you'd like me to do the same? I can handle that." They heard the sound of a mockingbird in the background. "Salazar, don't!"

The auburn-haired woman smiled, broadly and genuinely. "You're working out in your lovely garden right now, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I am. I was thinking of trying some vegetables next year, just to see how they would go. Our seasons are different from back east, so maybe I could do some warmer-weather vegetables in the fall and winter. That might be fun." Another sigh issued from the speaker. "But, Dana, back to your concerns. Leave your brothers to their own devices, but your Mom may need an ear?"

Scully began with a bob of forehead-hugging auburn curls. "Just keep things light with her. She's under enough strain as it is because she's staying with my older brother. She spent time with Caroline and Max overseas last year and earlier this year, so she knows the world is a bit bigger place than my brothers understand it is."

"Yeah, I get it." There was a pause. "Um, guys?"

The partners exchanged a glance before Mulder replied. "Yeah, Sandra?"

They heard a breath, released through clenched teeth. "One thing you need to know about my past." There was a longer pause. "I have an adoptive brother you need to watch out for."

Scully leaned toward the speaker. "What do you mean?"

"Uh, not as in the sense of look out to take care of, but look out to avoid." Another long pause had the partners both frowning. "Don't get me wrong. He's brilliant. He was first in his class in Harvard Law. He's a lot like you, Fox, but he kind-of, ah, went wrong, as much as I hate to admit that about him."

The auburn-haired pathologist checked the tall agent's face. It was clear and untroubled, so she spoke to his sister in San Diego instead. "Okay."

"But he never had anyone like you to work with, Dana, someone to help him focus, channel his talents and abilities. Even when he was kid, he was always off making up harebrained schemes or chasing crazy ideas. After the deaths of our parents, he became detached from normal society."

Mulder's long fingers gently wrapped the slight palm resting on the flat arm of the mission chair beside his. "Yeah, I get that."

"He's never been able to settle or make a success of himself. I have to bail him out financially every few months when he runs through his friends from law school. Once he finds out about you, Fox, as well as how much Bill Mulder left each of us in trust, and he will, he'll assume that because you're connected to me, you're connected to him. He'll come begging. You need to not give him the time of day, or even a dime."

The slight digits tightened around the broad palm before Scully slid her hand away. "Brothers. What can you do with them? Should we alert Caroline and Max?"

"We should. He won't stop at the water's edge in his pursuit of cash."

"Okay, we will." The pathologist leaned forward to catch her partner's hazel gaze, speaking directly into his face. "But, remember, not all brothers are pains in the posteriors. Some of them are the best people you can ever know."

As his cheeks colored, the dark-haired man's eyes dropped to his knees.

They heard Sandra cough. "Agreed. Well, it's late back east. I should let you guys go?"

Mulder nodded. "Yeah, I think so. With us needing to head to the West Coast to investigate semi-regularly, I'm sure we'll see you soon. I call Mom and Max when they're up, Sandie."

Scully leaned toward the phone. "Indeed, Sandra, thanks for being so understanding. My brothers are good men and they love their families, but they have - "

"A different world view. Not a problem, at all. Bye."

The dark-haired agent placed the unit in its base before standing over her. "So, that help?"

His diminutive partner nodded. "It did." She rose to look back up at him. "Every time, except for that visit to her lab, I think how sane and centered your sister is, and I realize, in a way, Mulder, you've had it harder than she did."

They were walking to the door together. "Oh?" The tall agent looked over.

She stopped to blink up at him. "You always ask: why her, why not me? I think it was you, Mulder." She brushed her fingers over his elbow. "You were aware of her loss, while she wasn't. She got to make herself who she wanted to be, while you had so little to cling to, except a giant, unwanted burden that should be placed on no child. Those evil men left you and Caroline no room to maneuver."

He dropped a hand to her shoulder. "I've had enough, Scully, or, at least, I feel like that now." He held her gaze for a moment. "I thought our work was starting to wind down. But, after reading through the contents of the MJ tape..." He shook his head as he crossed his arms.

She sent him a dazzling smile. "You realized there's more to do than just mustering the Tooks and Proudfoots to send Old Sharkey packing?"

"Proudfeet!" His cheek morphed into a lop-sided grin. "Your schematics from yesterday evening got me thinking. There's more from the European sections of the tape I'd like to work through with you. You up for a late dinner, or are you good?"

She tucked her chin. "Something light, so we can just talk. I have leftovers, if that would do."

"You just offered a committed bachelor free food, Doctor Scully. What do you think?" He smirked, then issued a theatrical sniff before heading toward his bedroom. "Let me put on something a little less salty." He disappeared behind the wall separating the two spaces.

She leaned against the cabinet by the door, waiting. When he emerged, in his jeans and an untucked tan polo shirt, she straightened. "So, you saw the encrypted E-mail from Nichols about the Osaka businesses in Honolulu before you left?"

He waited for her to exit, then locked the door. "Sure did. I think we need to head out to the Aloha State to investigate." They began walking comfortably, side-by-side, to the narrow elevator.

She pressed the inverted pyramid of a button. "At least we can have one actual X-Files case somewhere tropical." She turned to look up at him. "Just us, though? If the Gunmen's intercepts are right, we have several islands to investigate, and they're hundreds of miles apart. Pendrell and Phillips are more familiar with the Big Island than any of us, and they wouldn't mind at all going back out there."

He nodded. "Nichols has his own shop to run. Rosen splits her time between her measurements and working with him, so they both need to stay put. Director Skinner will need help with Krycek, because, well, it's Krycek." He threw up both hands in disgust. "Stickle and the Big Cheese worked together well while we were searching for you, so our Junior G-man gets to stay behind to assist with legal matters. He's the only true lawyer among us."

She arched one brow, the red hairs corkscrew-wild as they regrew, just as many of her auburn curls remained untamed. "Now, we need an accountant, and we'll be any old standard-issue Bureau group." They exchanged tiny smiles at the thought, then she sobered. "Okay, then, Cynthia. She's between classes, and we could use her help coordinating."

A chime from overhead, so he guided her through the opening, his hand on her back. "Yeah. She's been left behind to hold down the fort enough times. We'll set her up in a Bureau office with a desk on a lanai and she can be command central. I think she's ready for that."

"It would be good to show her how important she is to us." She sent him a one-sided grin. "I'm glad we're keeping it light. We have our Tuesday lunch tomorrow, the first one since the Mall, if you remember."

He chuckled as the doors closed. "Already have it scoped out, Doctor. Someplace I think you'll really like. On the water, lots of fins and scales. You just need to be ready to go at noon."

Green-blue met hazel. "You never stop surprising me, G-man." {And, I hope you never do.}


End – Chermera – Fall Out



Here have I cause, in men just blame to find,
That in their own praise too partial be,
And not indifferent to woman kind,
To whom no share in arms and chivalry
They do impart, nor make memory
Of their brave gestes and prowess martial;
Scarce do they spare to one or two or three,
Room in their writs; yet the same writing small
Does all their deeds deface, and dims their glories all.

But by record of antique times I find,
That women wont in wars to bear most sway,
And to all great exploits them selves inclined:
Of which they still the garland bore away,
Till envious Men fearing their rules decay,
Gan coyne streight lawes (Began writing strict laws) to curb their liberty;
Yet since they warlike arms have laid away:
They have excelled in arts and policy,
That now we foolish men that praise begin to envy.

Where is the Antique glory now become,
That once was in women to appear?
Where be the brave achievements done by some?
Where be the battles, where the shield and spear,
And all the conquests, which them high did rear,
That matter made for famous Poets verse,
And boastful men so oft ashamed to hear?
Been they all dead, and laid in doleful hearse?
Or do they only sleep, and shall again reverse?

If they be dead, then woe is me therefore:
But if they sleep, oh let them soon awake:
For all too long I burn with envy sore,
To hear the warlike feats, which Homer spake
Of bold Penthesilee, which made a lake
Of Greekish blood so oft in Trojan plain;
But when I read, how stout Debora strake (struck)
Proud Sisera, and how Camill' hath slain
The huge Orsilochus, I swell with great disdain.
Yet these, and all that else had puissance,
Cannot with noble Britomart compare,
As well for glory of great valiance,
As for pure chastity and virtue rare,
That all her goodly deeds do well declare.
The Faerie Queen
(Book III: Canto Two, Stanzas 1-3 and Canto Four, Stanzas 1-3)
Edmund Spenser, 1590

Author's note: Before I proceed, I would like to retire a long-unrecognized debt to Daniel Wood. His gracious praise of my work in the on-line version of "Cinescape" on September 10, 2001 (yes, THAT September Tenth) has been a reminder and a prompt to me as I worked on this novel.

Thanks to those of you who have made it this far. It's been many more years than I expected it would be before I returned to working with Scully and Mulder to expose the CSM and his evil deeds, but, here we are. The initial scenes of the sundry threads of this novel lay scattered in various locations across several hard drives and back-ups, waiting until I had the time and energy to return to them. Most of them made it through intact, with but minor additions, the opening in the Suola especially. I wrote them shortly after I finished "Anath," assuming once I settled in to my new job, I would be able to pick them up and continue.

Life, however, intervened. I found myself working much longer hours at my new place of employment, sometimes for projects I found deeply challenging, and sometimes, just because budgets were tight, deadlines were too-near, and a great deal of work had to be done with the limited resources at hand. It's been fascinating helping, in my small way, to discover and catalog the surface of the planet Mercury, to sound the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, to model aerosols here in Earth's atmosphere, to develop (and patent!) techniques to monitor and track our rapidly-vanishing Arctic sea ice, and to plan hyperspectral imagers for monitoring changes in Earth's coastal regions, as well as to survey Jupiter's Galilean moon, Europa, for the first time. But, there has been little energy left over for anything else. Worse, my Mother fell and broke her hip shortly after I started my new job, which initiated over a decade of slow decline that consumed much of my sister's and my time and money to attend, until her eventual death several years ago.

I should note, however, the passage of time does bring some benefits. With the revival of "Doctor Who" (even with its insanely uneven quality and ADHD storylines), and Peter Jackson's movies (since no one reads long books anymore, or, at least, not until J. K. Rowling created new generations of bookworms – Thanks, J. K.!), I can indulge in "Doctor Who" and "Lord of the Rings" references and expect people to actually 'get' them.

So, what changed? Recent events in the wider world, for one. I'll elaborate more in E-mail for those who are interested, but, I'll let it go at that here. After a great deal of personal involvement in broader matters of national import, eventually, I had to stop staring into the abyss for a bit. I needed an refuge until the storm passed.

Now, it should also surprise no one who has read my stories that my tastes in entertainment run to science fiction. Over the years, once I walked away from the Files before the end of Season Seven and the true wretchedness began, I happily discovered "Babylon 5," "Stargate SG-1," and, for its first three seasons, "Farscape." I had on-line and RL friends who cajoled me into the Buffyverse and "Elementary," which have been different things altogether. Babylon, Stargate, and Buffy were fun, and their creators took care to develop their alternative realities sufficiently that I was engaged by their arcs and satisfied by their resolutions, B5 especially. "Elementary," as well as being a surprisingly successful updating of Holmes and Watson - New York in the 21st Century really is the equivalent of London in the 19th - has recreated that intellectual partnership between two close friends I had thought was the bond between Scully and Mulder. Early in Season Three, Carter and Company decided, in pursuit of ratings rather than originality, that the intellects of the partners were cancers to be excised (why else would Scully’s tumor have been placed where it was?), but that is another long discussion to be had off-line. "Farscape" burned too bright and too fast, basically blowing up at the end of the Third Season, sadly.

But, none of them caught my interest as did those first two seasons of the Files. What brought that all back to me was neither the 2008 movie, which I have no intention of seeing, nor the reboot of the series. Of that, I have only watched "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster," because, hey, it was Darin. The reboot brought back all the plot-lines and writers who had driven me, during the latter seasons, to watch the show with my hands over my face, cringing at how bad the stories had become. The Myth-arc began degenerating into an incomprehensible mess during the latter half of the Third Season, but that never stopped Carter from gleefully making it worse with each two-parter and season-ender/restart (according to Wikipedia, Scully basically ends the series insane – Really, Chris?). So there was no reason for me to re-engage with what had once been one of my favorite series of all time. Instead, it was the reruns of the originals on BBC America. I could watch those fun, odd little stories of Season One ("Ghost in the Machine," "Ice," "Fallen Angel," "Genderbender," "Young at Heart," "Darkness Falls"), and the arc of Season Two, appreciating them, all over again. There were the episodes that addressed serious questions about the nature of reality, asked by two whip-smart agents with different approaches to their cases, played by two intelligent actors who looked impossibly young. This led me to rereading my stories, then, eventually, wanting to pick up and finish what I started.

But, there was still this larger cloud from the wider world to address, and a fine vehicle to do so, which brings me to that other series I reference in touches large and small throughout this story: "The Prisoner." Now, those of you who have never seen McGoohan's masterpiece should clear a weekend to spend time with the 17 episodes involved – ignore the day-glow Sixties colors and the random appearances of antiquated technology, and pay attention to what the series is saying. You see, this is what television could be, and should be. It asks questions about authority, society, and the right of the individual to exist, all in a package that spans spy stories, science fiction, political intrigue, and even America's myth of the Western. I saw this series first when I was in college, and the questions it raised haunt me to this day. Further, the show was a trailblazer for television that few have followed. We would never have had "Twin Peaks" without "Fall Out," nor would the Psy-corps of "Babylon-5" been born without The Village. X-Files touches, only briefly, on some of the themes "The Prisoner" spotlights so intensely ("Anasazi," cough, "Anasazi"), but not nearly as often as it should have. I suspect such is the case because the latter-season X-F creative team just didn't want to look that hard inside themselves, which serious wrestling with the themes of "The Prisoner" forces one to do.

There is no way to write a crossover between the two series; they're simply too different. However, the themes and arcs could be brought over, if modified to fit in an X-Files universe. Through those, I realized, I could address my disenchantment with the state of current affairs, which has affected all facets of our society. Everyone, certainly, has been put under stress, but especially women, which is why it is Scully who gets put through the wringer this time around. With all the changes our culture has seen, women, for all their talents, education, and labor, have still not broken the ultimate glass ceiling. There have been changes in the past few months for the better. But we are not, yet, at the place in our culture where women are accepted simply as human beings, capable of great things, who can go as far as their many different talents and interests allow. Women are still being strait-jacketed into one role, one fate, pressured to bend and shuffle to appease constricting powers and forces completely out of their control, for no reason other than they are not male.

So, here we are. I have no real time, outside of weekends, to write, but, I had made a promise to my readers, years ago: real myth, in a real arc, and we're still not finished. There is no point in telling the beginning and middle of a story, but not the end, where all the themes and plots come into final focus and fruition. We have met the incarnations of the first two faces of the Triple Goddess, hinted at in "Twelfth Night," in the first two trilogies, while the third is just coming into view. I have had E-mails over the years, asking when I was really going to reunite Mulder with his sister, which I had always intended to do in this story, because, you see, Samantha is Persephone, one of the myths in my myth-arc. She has to return, or else we will never have spring.

Further, there are broader horizons, beyond the personal, for the partners to address. The question for Mulder at the end of "Zurvan": What does a man do with the rest of his life once he thinks he has all his answers, remained. In life, as in science, one never has all the answers, just more questions; in this story, I was able to give him some, and from an unlikely source. Scully, too, has achieved some of that professional recognition she has always sought, which has just led to further complications for her in her life, professionally and personally. Their parallel and interconnected stories will continue to play out through the remaining two novels, now that they are no longer "the FBI's most unwanted."

Let me close with a few references, for those who are interested.

The full text of Fairie Queene can be found on-line at: http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/fqintro.html. I took the quotes from there to avoid copyright issues. I have modernized the spellings to make it easier to read, and added translations of Spenser's purposely retrograde English in parentheses where the text would be otherwise incomprehensible to modern readers. For a version with explanatory notes, quite helpful introductory materials (and a glossary) try: "The Faerie Queene", by Edmund Spenser (1590), Books Three and Four, Edited, with Introduction, by Dorothy Stephens, General Series Editor Abraham Stoll, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-855-1 (paperback, books 3 & 4), ISBN-10: 0-87220-855-9 (paperback, books 3 & 4), 512 pp. The other books of Fairie Queene (Spenser had planned twelve, but only lived to write six of them) are published separately, so search on Abraham Stoll, Spenser, and Faerie Queene to pull them all up.

Scully's Cavalli-Sforza, still in print: "The History and Geography of Human Genes" by L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, P. Menozzi, and A. Piazza, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1994, ISBN 0-691-08750-4, 1086 pp. Of those pages, 526 are maps and color plates, so our Doctor is one very dedicated reader!

For a more recent view: "Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past" by David Reich, Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House L.L.C., New York, New York, 2018, ISBN 9781101870327, 335 pp.

On the hero for scientists and mystics both: "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition" by Frances A. Yates, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1964, paperback edition, 1991 ISBN 0-226-95007-7, 466 pp.

Or, for a more recent reference: "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey - The Voyage Continues, Episode 1: 'Standing Up in the Milky Way'" written by Ann Druyan and Steven Soter, directed by Brannon Braga, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and produced by Livia Hanich and Steven Holtzman. Original air date: March 9, 2014. Available on Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Blu-ray Cat. # 2293207.

Scully's catalogue of the evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence from the shape-shifters's homeward-bound ship shares similarities with the characteristics of Oumuamua, minus the patterned EM signatures, of course. For some opposing views on this first object to be definitively identified as from outside the solar system, try:

Bialy, S., and A. Loeb, "Could Solar Radiation Pressure Explain 'Oumuamua's Peculiar Acceleration?", The Astrophysical Journal Letters, vol. 868, no. 1, 2018 November 12, doi: /10.3847/2041-8213/aaeda8.

Katz, J. I. "Evidence against non-gravitational acceleration of 1I/2017 U1 'Oumuamua", Astrophys Space Sci (2019) 364:51, doi:/10.1007/s10509-019-3542-z.

I'll also send people to NASA's web-page: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/comets/oumuamua/in-depth/ and the Wikipedia entry on Oumuamua: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CA%BBOumuamua. They are quite extensive, and survey the controversy dispassionately.

If Surfer Dud were capable of actually doing a little reading (and thinking), Oumuamua would have made for a perfect X-File, although, as someone who works in space exploration, I would agree with Scully on the issue. Scully's and Mulder's arguments would be epic.

Now, a few words on The Forty. I had always wanted to create a genuine secret society for Scully and Mulder to investigate over the course of the Sandra Ann Miller Trilogy, so I had seeded several hints throughout "Zurvan" and "Anath" of this part of the story to come. But, I didn't, initially, grasp how it would involve them personally. Once I did, though, many of my earlier threads wove into place, almost as I wrote. It also set up a longer skein I'll be following through the remaining novels.

There are many, many references on secret societies, some instructive, some not. Of interest for "Chermera" was: "The Origins of Freemasonry – Scotland's century 1590-1710" by David Stevenson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1988, ISBN 0 521 39654 9 (paperback), 264 pp.

To meet the original Atrebates, Suebi, Helvetii, etc. I'll direct you to the latest (but fortunately, not the last) of the Landmark series: "The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Complete Words – Gallic War, Civil War, Alexandrian War, African War, and Spanish War", edited and translated by Kurt A. Raaflaub, Series Editor Robert B. Strassler, Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House L.L.C., New York, New York, 2017, ISBN 978-0-307-37786-9, 785 pp. It is accompanied by many reference essays on-line (http://www.landmarkcaesar.com), for those who want to learn more about the various titles and laws The Forty use and refer to among themselves. Sadly, I could never work an excuse into the story for our Oxford-educated G-man to spout Julius's famous opening words, "Gallia est omnia divisa in partes tres." But, I have two more novels to go!

For a sense of how the archipelago between France, Norway and Denmark, Iceland, and Greenland that we refer to as "Great Britain" or the United Kingdom could have built up such far-flung connections to the rest of the world, so that The Forty could consider themselves shepherds of the entirety of the human race, I'll offer these possibilities.

First, all islands are crossroads, so there is political, cultural, and genetic exchange that goes on anywhere there are isolated outcroppings of land in the ocean. For the genetic: "The Origins of the British – A Genetic Detective Story: The Surprising Roots of the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh" by Stephen Oppenheimer, first published in the UK by Constable, an imprint of Constable & Robinson, Ltd, and in the US, by Carroll & Graf Publishers, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, Inc. New York, NY, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0-78671-890-0, ISBN-10: 0-7867-1890-0, 556 pp.

Second, there were those astonishing centuries where, through the vagaries of history, these small islands made political and personal connections with most of the rest of the globe to dominate it: "The Isles: A History" by Norman Davies, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, ISBN 0-19-513442-7, 1999, 1264 pp. Among many, many other texts, of course.

The peoples of dal Riata, or Dalriada, depending on your preference, formed, so far as surviving histories record, one of the first "kingdoms" uniting major parts of Scotland with sections of Ireland, beginning in the Fifth Century, or, shortly after the departure of the Romans and the abandonment of Hadrian's Wall. Much reference material I wanted to consult was out of print, so I used:

"The Oxford Companion to Scottish History" edited by Michael Lynch, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2001, reprinted 2007, 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-969305-4, 758 pp.

"Scotland – A New History" by Michael Lynch, Pimlico Press, London, UK, 1991, with multiple reprints, ISBN 9780712698931, 528 pp.

To understand what it means to be a Daughter of the Enlightenment, I can think of no better set of texts than Jonathan I. Israel's epic odyssey from Descarte through to the U.S. Constitution:

"Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750" by Jonathan I. Israel, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2001 (hardback), 2002 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-19-925456-9 (paperback), 832 pp.

"Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man, 1670-1752" by Jonathan I. Israel, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2006 (hardback), 2008 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-19-954152-2 (paperback), 1007 pp.

"Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750-1790" by Jonathan I. Israel, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-954820-0, 1082 pp.

Or, for the Cliff Notes version:

"A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy" by Jonathan Israel, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2010, ISBN 978-0-691-14200-5, 292 pp.

Lastly, some background on La Serenissima:

Scully's Norwich is the English-language history of the Republic that is sold in Venice's museum gift shops, so it must capture, to some extent, the way the Venetians, who can be reticent with outsiders, see themselves: "A History of Venice" by John Julius Norwich, Volume One (1977) and Volume Two (1981) published by Allen Lane, London, UK, US hardcover (1982) by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. New York, NY, Vintage Books Edition (paperback), published by Random House, New York, NY, 1989 (multiple reprintings), ISBN 0-679-72197-5 (paperback), 702 pp.

For later chapters in Venice's story:

"Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848-49" by Paul Ginsborg, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1979, ISBN 0 521 22077 7, 435 pp. Interesting fact: Manin is the only person honored by being entombed in a sarcophagus in the walls of St. Mark's Cathedral.

"Paradise of Cities: Venice in the Nineteenth Century" by John Julius Norwich, Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., USA, 2003, ISBN 0-385-50904-9, 360 pp.

For the art (mostly in black and white, sadly, so take a trip to see it in all its glory in place):

"Venice: Lion City – The Religion of Empire" by Barry Wills, Washington Square Press (paperback) a registered trademark of Simon and Schuster, Inc., New York, NY, 2001, ISBN 0-671-04764-7, 416 pp.

Finally, for those who will never have the opportunity to step inside the actual Consiglio dei Dieci in the Doge's Palace in Venice, try: https://www.italyguides.it/en/veneto/venice/st-mark-s-square/doge-s-palace/hall-of-the-council-of-ten. There's a wonderful interactive projection that lets you scroll and zoom around all the walls and the ceiling. When I had the opportunity to visit in person, back in 2005, I was thrilled to see the representation of Hermes and Athena in Ponchino's "Mercury and Minerva" opposite Veronese's "Juno Showering Gifts on Venice" on the ceiling. It's one of the few places in Western Art where Hermes and Athena appear together without the other Olympians and I made a mental note to work it somehow into one of these stories.

I must say, picking up the the "Kuxan Sum Cycle" again was like a long reunion with very old friends. The X-F universe has such possibilities for story-telling I have had a wonderful time, over the past 11-17 months, re-inhabiting it. The story-lines fell in place rather easily, although, putting a character for whom I have such great affection through the gauntlet of "Once Upon a Time" was more emotionally traumatic than I expected it to be. (It was originally supposed to take all seven days for Scully to defeat Krycek!) Mulder and Scully do get to Venice in the third novel, and on a case. I promise.

Be Seeing You!

End – Chermera – Part 45 of 45

Paislie H

Sep 24, 2020, 5:56:28 PM9/24/20
On Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 10:00:02 PM UTC+10, mrkel...@gmail.com wrote:
> =====o============================o=====
> "Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 45 of 45

ether without the other Olympians and I made a mental note to work it somehow into one of these stories.
> I must say, picking up the the "Kuxan Sum Cycle" again was like a long reunion with very old friends. The X-F universe has such possibilities for story-telling I have had a wonderful time, over the past 11-17 months, re-inhabiting it. The story-lines fell in place rather easily, although, putting a character for whom I have such great affection through the gauntlet of "Once Upon a Time" was more emotionally traumatic than I expected it to be. (It was originally supposed to take all seven days for Scully to defeat Krycek!) Mulder and Scully do get to Venice in the third novel, and on a case. I promise.
> Be Seeing You!
> End – Chermera – Part 45 of 45

What a blast to see you posting a new fic here! I was only just rereading the Dana Scully Trilogy, with plans to get to the others. I'll grab this one from AO3 and I'll shoot you an email at some stage.

Thank you for all the time and effort you've put into writing these incredible stories.

Paislie xxx

Mary Keller

Sep 24, 2020, 6:18:51 PM9/24/20

Thank you for your much appreciated and very kind words!

I had posted everywhere else, but it just didn't feel official until it was up at ATXC. Old habits, and all that.

Just as a follow-up, I have spent the past several months researching Japan's history, reading (English translations of Japanese) literature from the 8th Century to the present, and learning about the wonderful world of Shinto. I want to present that amazing culture in all its ancient and present magnificence when I write this next novel. It has been a blast, and I hope to do it justice.

Thanks again!

Mary, who just received her DVD of "The Great Yokai War" today
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