Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (14/24)
Authors: Erynn and Sally
Archive: Ephemeral, Gossamer, LGM, FLO, all others ask first.
Rated: R for grownup stuff
Spoilers: We assume you've seen the series. There are some slight spoilers
for the LGM Pilot. This little Gunmenverse takes off from the main line of
the X Files canon universe after 3oaK but before FPS (which happens in this
timeline in early May).
Disclaimers: You know who really owns these guys and the other XF
characters. It ain't us, much as we'd like to. Some characters are blatantly
based on our friends. They made us. (BTW, you guys, you can put down the
red-hot pokers now) Others, we just made up for our amusement. Chapter
opening quotes used without permission. Remember, love not money is the
motivator here -- like anybody would ever pay us for this stuff.
Category: Gunmen action/adventure, humor, angst, a little Langly romance,
and a budding friendship.
Keywords: Lone Gunmen
Summary: It's hacker season. Do you know where your computer is?
Stories in the Things Undone series:
Things Undone, by Erynn; a 5-part story wherein the Gunmen deal with some
TU 2: Mending the Tears, by Sally; a 6-part story wherein Fro and Langly go
to the ER.
TU 3: To Carry On, by Erynn; a vignette wherein the Gunmen begin to deal
with the repercussions of their adventure.
TU 4: Alchemy of the Word, by Erynn and Sally; a 17 chapter novella wherein
words are more important than they seem, and Byers starts to get a life.
If you haven't read them, you may be confused here.
Sally say: Special thanks to pigs in slop. We only want you to be happy.
Erynn say: I never thought Things Undone would turn into its own little
universe, but it's been a hell of a lot of fun writing with Sally. Thanks to
all of you folks who have been enjoying the story and encouraging us to
write more. You're the greatest.
"That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new."
~~Robinson Jeffers -- Selected Poems~~
SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2000
LONE GUNMEN HQ
Mulder and Scully left shortly after dinner to get ready for their trip to
Wichita, and are in the air now. Frohike grumbled for a while about not
being able to go with them, but I know he understands that I can't take up
the slack yet, much as I wish I could. I hope that this is a short,
successful trip, not simply because Ms. Jackson could most likely provide us
with critical information for our investigation into Pinck, but because
there is a life in the balance. Perhaps a great many lives. I hope that
Mulder and Scully aren't too late.
Sari's still here with us, silent. She's been getting more depressed as the
evening has passed, and her silence has become an oppressive presence all
its own. I don't think she believes Nicole is still alive. She's been
through so much lately that it doesn't surprise me she's reacting this way.
I think if she went home right now, she'd simply be even more miserable,
alone with her worries. I'd drive her home and stay on her couch so that she
wouldn't be by herself, if I could see well enough. This temporary loss of
vision has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. Sari and
I are sitting together in the TV room on the couch, motionless, my arms
around her. The only thing she's said since we sat down was "would you just
hold me for a while?" I could never refuse her such a request, particularly
not under these circumstances. I've tried a few times to engage her in
conversation, hoping to distract her at least a bit, but her responses have
been monosyllabic at best. Normally I would find this a very calming,
peaceful way to spend an evening, but I'm almost as unsettled as Sari is
right now. She seems unfocused and lost in thought, unconnected to anything
outside herself aside from our physical contact. I would believe that she
had completely dissociated, except that every so often she moves a little
closer, or squeezes my hand, obviously conscious of my presence. I can feel
her shudder every now and then as well. I haven't seen her this way before,
and it worries me deeply. I wonder if this is a normal stress reaction for
her. Perhaps I should ask Devi tomorrow, when we hear from her about that
diplomatic soiree she's having tonight.
In the office, Mel, Ringo and Deborah are going through several databanks in
search of Pinck-sponsored research projects, and those funded by Pinck's
corporate blinds and subsidiaries. Deborah's passwords made it simple to
access the information, and of course, Langly created god accounts to search
the classified materials unavailable from Deborah's access level. I hear
them now and then, muttering to each other as they compare the public data
that Deborah can access with the classified data on the same projects.
While for us, this is business as usual, she's becoming extremely agitated
by the discrepancies they're finding, and the implications of a number of
these experiments. I think the realities of the situation are beginning to
register with her at last. I only hope she's able to handle it. It would
crush Ringo if she left because of this, but for her sake, it might be the
only sane thing. I'm uncomfortable with the level of Deborah's involvement.
Disclosure is one thing -- indeed, I believe it's absolutely necessary for
all three of us as we open our lives more to others -- but getting her
wrapped up in what we do is something else entirely. I'm not sure she
understood what she was really doing when she handed over her passwords, nor
do I believe that the implications of her act were clear to her, and what
her involvement in our work will mean. For us, friendship, intimacy and love
carry a far heavier burden than the emotional risks expected by others.
Welcome to the dark side, Dr. SaintJohn.
"Hey, guys, we got something you might find interesting," Frohike calls in
to us. Sari looks up at me, apparently more aware of her surroundings than I
suspected. I am equally concerned about Sari's involvement, but I know that
hers is an informed choice, and that she understands many of the risks
inherent in what we do -- and what she does.
"What is it?" I ask, as we return to the office. Not being able to read the
screen is aggravating.
"I think we got something," Langly says. Deborah looks pale and exhausted.
He points to a note on his monitor, and Sari leans in to read it, a hand on
his shoulder. "Had to go way past god access to get it, too. There's
research being done through the NIH at a County Extension Office that's
associated with the Pinck test fields Sari was reporting on. The public
report discusses genetic crop modification, while the high-security stuff
says it's a project on genetically engineering cattle to be resistant to
"Brucellosis is a big concern to ranchers in the region," Sari says quietly.
"They believe that it passes the species barrier from bison into
domesticated cattle, even though there's never been a single substantiated
report of such an occurrence. In Wyoming, they're shooting all the bison
that wander out of Yellowstone foraging for food during the winter. They,
and the Wyoming state government, have also gone on raids into Yellowstone
to find and massacre animals within the park. It's a massive concern for
conservationists involved in preserving the bison and the associated
tall-grass prairie that supports them most efficiently. The ranchers are
deeply, almost superstitiously attached to the concept of bison causing
brucellosis outbreaks in their herds, to the point of slaughtering any that
wander outside of strictly patrolled territories. Personally, I think they'd
all be smarter to give up raising cattle and take up raising bison instead."
"Yeah, but check this out. This is what I had to go into hyperdrive for: a
lot of the statistics here," Ringo pulls up an immense data file and pokes
the screen with a finger decisively, "indicate that they're monitoring human
and wildlife populations as well as the cows." He leans back and looks up at
Sari, then at us. "There's a mention of this place, Andover Community
Medical Center, as a data collection point for their human subjects.
According to Sari's paper, that area's ground zero for the whole birth
defect thing. What if this is it, dudes?" I can hear the pride and triumph
in his voice at getting through the maze to find this nugget, but he and Mel
are also extremely upset by what they've found. So am I. Sari's tense stance
shows me that she, too, is unhappy with this development.
"This must be what Nicole was trying to point to," she says, closing her
eyes. "No wonder she hasn't answered me. I only hope she was lucky enough to
get out before they came for her." She sighs, then whispers, "May Kali-Ma
and Durga protect her."
"You guys getting a record of this?" I ask them. I'm sure they are, but one
always needs to be certain of the details.
"You betcha," Frohike says. I can hear a printer start up, and he's got a
DAT tape in for copying. "So, Deborah, what do you think of your first trip
into the dark?" We all look over to see her reaction, but she's fallen
asleep in the last couple of minutes, nose firmly planted in her keyboard.
"God, Langly, get her off that thing before she drools in it. Poor kid."
Ringo looks entirely crestfallen. His squeeze is unconscious, so it's
unlikely he'll get laid tonight. Perversely, I find this very amusing. I
think he expected to spend her entire visit fucking like crazed ferrets. I
successfully manage to suppress my snicker.
"Dammit," Langly mutters. "Byers, could you like help me haul Deb into the
bedroom so she won't have a keyboard stuck to her face in the morning?"
11:47 PM CENTRAL TIME
We were delayed nearly half an hour in landing at Wichita due to a spring
rainstorm that drenched the runways and destroyed visibility. Time counts in
our business. Needless to say, when I was gripping the hand rests during the
flight, fear of flying had nothing to do with it. Every extra second we're
in the air is another second when Nicole Jackson's life is in jeopardy. I
pray to God we're not already too late. At least the flight wasn't crowded;
Wichita doesn't appear to be a trendy tourist spot in early April. We always
have to go to the customer service counter, announce that we're FBI agents
and we're armed, and be escorted through security. Not having to check
luggage saved some time. We're not planning a lengthy stay.
The plan is simple: find Nicole Jackson, get her to safety as quickly as
possible, and remove as much documentation as we can find, both to support
her situation, and to expose Pinck's plots. It's not officially a Bureau
matter -- not yet -- but if we can locate hard copy proof, I think they're
likely to become very interested. A simple plan, with so many possible
problems I can't even conceive of all of them, much as I'm trying. I keep
telling myself that sometimes a Sig Sauer on your hip is better than a plan.
To make matters worse, when we arrive, the Lariat rental car counter isn't
in the terminal, but off site, and requires a shuttle ride to a location
outside the airport. I really wish the Bureau would consider another rental
company for its contract, but Lariat has the distinction of being the
cheapest in the business, and God forbid we should spend an extra nickel for
convenience. "They say Avis tries harder," I comment to Mulder as we're
wasting precious time awaiting the arrival of the Lariat rental shuttle.
When it arrives, it's a wheezing minivan that smells like small children and
animals have spent a great deal of time inside, and the cleaning crew hadn't
noticed -- assuming there is a cleaning crew. "They really should try harder
to get the Bureau's business. They'd increase profits fivefold just from our
"Ah, but then we wouldn't have the pleasure of driving a 1997 Taurus station
wagon in piss yellow," Mulder grins as we approach our designated vehicle.
Some markets have better cars than others. I think Wichita is The Land Time
Forgot. I suspect they may still have a horse-drawn buggy in the back, just
Traffic is minimal, thankfully. Who in their right mind would be out on a
night like tonight? Then again, no one's ever accused either of us of being
in our right minds. I can hardly see the front end of the Taurus. "You sure
we're going the right way?" The fog is thick but patchy, unforgiving. I
suspect Mulder is relying some alien divination system for his directions;
or perhaps it's simple random number generation. Every so often, a patch of
pavement becomes visible under the haloed blur of a street light. As long as
we're not on somebody's lawn, I think we're probably okay.
"Scully, how many times have I ever been wrong?" Don't make me answer that
one, Mulder. "About driving, anyway." Well, I'm glad he threw in the
Ms. Jackson lives in a condominium complex just outside the city limits,
which doesn't take long to reach, even in this soup. It's not a security
complex. This is good for us; it provides easy access. The bad news is, it's
also good for anyone else who wants to reach her. She lives in number 21,
but we have to park in front of 15, where the guest spaces are. The others
all appear to be occupied. Good, people are home. If anything has gone
wrong, maybe we'll have a witness. We make our way to her apartment and
knock on the door. No response. Frohike supplied Mulder with one of those
lock pick guns, and he's getting very practiced at breaking and entering.
"And they say I don't know how to show a girl a good time on a Saturday
night," Mulder mutters as he releases the locks. She has four of them. Well,
at least she took some precautions, but the ease with which we got in
"Mulder, did we check in with the Gunmen? We were supposed to," I comment as
he opens the door. We call out for Ms. Jackson, but there's no response.
Someone was definitely here, though: a mess like this doesn't just happen,
and it most assuredly doesn't occur during daily living, even in cosmically
scaled disaster areas like Mulder's or the guys' place. The place was
"Shit, gotta do that." He speed dials the Gunmen, and even though I can't
hear much, I can tell Frohike answered; he's fretting like an old mother
hen. No Jewish mother ever carried on like Frohike when he's worried. "Yeah,
we're fine, but the girl's not here. Say what? You've got something we can
use? Give it to me." He pauses for Frohike's information. "We don't know
where she is, we'll let you know as soon as we find out... Yes, this time I
promise!" He shakes his head as he hangs up. "What a yenta. But we've got
another problem, Scully."
"What's that?" We're slowly, carefully making our way through the house,
prepared to find a corpse. I'm not smelling anything, and I don't see any
blood. This, at least, is encouraging.
"The boys got some more info on Pinck, and it sounds solid."
"Mulder, we are not here to break into Pinck. Our job is to find this woman
and, if she's still alive, get her to safety as quickly as possible." If I
die in this godforsaken wasteland, I'd really rather not do it at Pinck's
"No, this is a County Extension Office, and the Andover Community Medical
Center. Piece of cake. The boys've looked over the alarm systems and
security, and say they can override it in their sleep."
"Good, because considering the hour, they might have to."
"Where do you think she might have gone?" We're looking through the debris
in the place, trying to be both careful and fast. This is a good trick if
you can pull it off. We're improving at it: all I can conclude is that we're
getting way too much practice.
"I have no idea. You're the profiler; you tell me." I'm trying to catch a
clue from anywhere, anything.
"Serial killers, Scully. I do serial killers, not mad scientists."
While I'm looking through various and sundry items, I notice a small,
stuffed dog on the floor. It's buried under a bunch of other things, like
someone intended to take it, but dropped it instead. It would be a strange
thing to take if you were in a hurry to get out, but perhaps it's of some
sentimental value. At a closer look, its collar reads 'Topeka State Fair.'
"Mulder, I think I know where she went."
"Oh?" he asks. I show him the dog. "All right, here's the plan. You take the
car, call the guys to see if they can trace her, and get to Topeka fast as
you can. I'm gonna go pay somebody a little after hours visit. I'll meet you
back in DC." Time to split up. I drop Mulder at a car rental place. It's
amazing what's open at this hour in this hick town.
Langly gave me a probable safe house location in Topeka. I hope she's there,
and still breathing. The drive is nerve-wracking in the fog, and having to
constantly watch to make certain I'm not being followed is not my idea of a
relaxing Sunday drive.
The safe house is a small, typical suburban home on a typical suburban
street. I knock loudly on the door. "Open up! FBI!" Usually, that works, but
she might think I'm trying to kill her, not protect her. I need to reassure
her. I just hope I'm not talking to empty air and a dead body. "Ma'am, I'm
not here to arrest you; I need to get you to safety as quickly as possible."
Several minutes pass. I feel my apprehension growing. Am I too late?
Finally, I hear someone approach. "Are you Nicole Jackson? Sari Thomas
warned me that you're in danger." I speak softly, unwilling to advertise her
presence if it's indeed her.
"Sari sent you?" The voice is halting, fearful.
"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully of the FBI." I hold my ID up to the peephole
so she can see it. "Your residence was turned upside down by a person or
persons unknown. I've come to get you out of here." I hear an electronic
security system being disarmed and the door being unlocked, and am greeted
by a tall African-American woman. I can smell fear on her. Her composure is
dangerously close to collapsing.
"How did you find me here? Sari doesn't know how to find me," she says.
"There's no time right now. We'll talk in the car."
"I have a couple of things I need first," she says, letting me in. In less
than a minute, she's got a small bag packed, and she hands me a large manila
packet of papers as we walk out the door. When she gets into the passenger
seat, she notices the little stuffed dog. She clasps it to her chest, and
only then does she break down and cry. It's going to be a long flight back
to DC. Time to call the Gunmen and let them know that our subject is still
alive. I pull out and head for the Topeka airport.
SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2000
LONE GUNMEN HQ
We manage to get Deb tucked away in bed, and I sure wish I was there with
her. It's mostly 'cause it's her there, and I love feeling her next to me,
but I'm like totally dead tired too. Looks like there's no rest for the
wicked. Fro's fidgeting like a crazy person. Wish he wouldn't do that, it
just makes me nuts. "Mulder hasn't called yet," he says.
"He's gonna call." I hope. "Why don't you like go make some tea for the
lovebirds in the TV room?" Anything that won't drive me insane while we wait
for Mulder to get back to us.
"Been there. Done that."
"Well, you could make me some coffee, then. I'm like dyin' here. Hell, I'm
gonna be doing a face plant just like Deb if Mulder doesn't get his ass in
gear." The phone screeches, and we both freak for a second. Why is it when
you're expecting a call, when you finally get it, you just about leave a
hole in the ceiling from jumping so hard? I don't even try to reach for it,
Frohike's like a grandma whose daughter's in labor. God, if me and Deb ever
tried to have... oh Jesus. What are you thinking, boy? Get back to work!
"Thank God. Come right straight here, no stopping on the way." God, Mel
sounds like your mom when you're a little kid and you're walking home from
school the first time. He sets down the receiver. "Scully's found Ms.
Jackson, and she's alive. They're on their way back to DC. I'm gonna go tell
Sari and Byers." Okay, one victory. Problem is, relatively speaking, the
night's young. Why does it feel like it's so old already?
"Sari, we just heard from Scully. She's alive." Frohike is standing in the
doorway of the TV room. Sari and I are seated on the couch again. Her head
is buried in my shoulder, her glasses on the coffee table. I've been trying
to offer her what comfort I can, but I feel as though any solace I've been
able to give is utterly inadequate.
I've been so focused on Sari that Frohike's words don't immediately
register. "Do you mean Nicole, or has something happened to Agent Scully?" I
ask cautiously. I think it's the mention of Nicole's name that jolts Sari
sharply back into the room. Her head shoots up, grey eyes wide in her pale
"Nicole is alive?" Her voice is nervous with hope and disbelief.
"That's what Agent Scully tells us. They're on their way back to DC right
"Oh, thank you goddesses!" I can feel the tension melt out of her shoulders.
She pulls me to her in a tight one-armed hug.
"This is wonderful news," I murmur to her, then look up at Mel. "Thanks,
"Don't mention it," he mutters as he leaves the room. I think he was about
to add, "now let's get them home in one piece," but seeing Sari's relief
probably gave him pause. Mel does occasionally know when to shut up. I was
thinking it too, but don't say it. What matters most right now is that
Nicole is alive and safe.
Sari buries her face in my chest. I can feel her shaking again. "Sari? Are
you all right?"
She looks up at me timidly and sniffles, her face streaked with tears. "I'm
fine, John. I'm just so... so relieved. I was so afraid she was dead. I...
I'm sorry, I know I'm acting like an idiot."
"You're not acting like an idiot, Sari. I think you're behaving fairly
normally, under the circumstances." I hold her with all my strength, just
letting her work through this. Emotionally, she's been a mess all evening. I
don't believe I've ever seen her cry before. I suspect that she became an
expert at concealing her distress from Barry as much as possible, most
likely to avoid his violence. Perhaps she's beginning to realize that it
isn't necessary any more. Not here. Not with me. She trembles for a long
time, crying softly, but she obviously needs this release. The least I can
do is give her a safe place for it, and whatever time she needs.
Finally she looks up at me. "I'm so tired, John. Thank you for being here
for me, but I really need to go home now. Besides," she smiles a tiny
half-smile, "the Cardinal hasn't been fed, and you know how he feels about
slow service." We both laugh quietly; I've become well acquainted with the
Cardinal's protests when he feels that he's been forced to wait an
inordinate amount of time to be fed. His definition of 'inordinate' is
anything over five seconds from the time he's decided that he's hungry. He's
quite vocal in his disapproval of the slow-moving humans who are charged
with keeping him happy.
"Are you certain you're all right to drive?" I'm very worried by how tired
she looks. I'd drive her myself, except that we'd probably end up with a
fresh set of injuries, and I generally prefer to bond with people over
other, more pleasant activities.
"I'll just head home, feed the Cardinal and the lizards, and get some sleep
until she arrives. You will tell me when she arrives, won't you?" The last
part is not really a request.
"She'll be safe here, Sari. You really do need to sleep. Do you want Langly
to take you home?" We walk out to the office.
She laughs again. It's so good to hear her laugh, it's delightful. It also
means that she's regaining her equilibrium, which relieves me immensely
after her intense silences tonight. "I don't know. I don't think he's in any
better shape than I am." My vision is still blurry, but if I'm not mistaken,
that's a tall blonde slumped over the keyboard.
"You're probably right about that. Frohike? I think we need some coffee in
End part 14
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