Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (16/24)

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 
unfinished business. 
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. 

Author notes: 
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. 
______ 

"something is happening. 
something obscene." 

~~Lucille Clifton -- The Gift of Tongues~~ 
______ 

SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2000 
LONE GUNMEN HQ 
MORNING 

BYERS: 

Now that Sari and Devi have arrived, the troops are all assembled. Mulder 
has safely returned from his close encounter of the security guard kind, and 
he and Agent Scully are most definitely not dressed alike today. Deborah and 
Langly are both awake and with us, as is our guest, Nicole Jackson. Sari 
looks exhausted, but this doesn't surprise me. I doubt she slept very well 
last night. Devi simply sports the 'kill me now' look of the hung over. 
"Good morning, darlings," she says. "I'm sorry I'm so dismally attired 
today." I can't imagine what she means by that, unless jeans with 
rhinestones along the pockets and a scarlet sweater are 'dismal.' Of 
questionable taste, yes; Dismal? I doubt it. I think Sari's right -- her 
sister is a magpie. 

Sari puts down her cat carrier, and releases the Cardinal into our midst. 
"Oooh!" Frohike coos in a nauseating falsetto, "my kitty-boo is here to see 
me! Does the Cawdinal want his bwekkies? I'll make some scwambled eggs and 
bakies for oo..." Mel scoops up the purring ginger mountain, "... doesn't 
mommy ever feed oo?" Mulder and Scully stare at him in disbelief as our 
resident dirty old man heads for the kitchen. 

"I fed him twenty minutes ago, Mel," Sari says. "You keep this up and the 
furry-assed beast won't have any ground clearance left." 

Deborah follows Frohike and the cat with her eyes. "Oh, that is such a 
gorgeous cat!" 

"Hey, you ain't feeding that cat my breakfast," Langly shouts, following him 
into the kitchen. Nicole is simply looking around in confusion. "Like, 
Richelieu's obviously never missed a meal in his life," Ringo whines, but it 
really is time the chef did his job and provided us with some breakfast. 

"Oh, Nicole, thank all the Gods you're here!" Sari runs to her and throws 
her arm around Ms. Jackson. The two women embrace, passionate in their 
mutual relief to see one another alive and safe. Nicole bursts into tears, 
and Sari mumbles words of comfort in her ear. I'm not sure they'll let go 
anytime this year. I'm happy to see Sari so relieved. The contrast to last 
night's intense, disturbing silence is extreme. We all know it isn't over 
yet, but I can be fairly certain that neither Sari nor Nicole are likely to 
disintegrate in front of us. 

Nicole is alarmed when she realizes Sari's right arm is in a cast. "Sari, 
girlfriend, what the hell happened to your arm?" 

"Barry," Sari replies. "Almost a month ago now. I'll be fine -- and it won't 
happen again, because these wonderful people" she indicates all of us 
"finally found a way to put the bastard behind bars for good." 

"That is good news, honey." Nicole holds Sari out at arm's length, examining 
her. "Not your arm, I mean, but taking that asshole down. Is it healing 
okay?" 

"Yeah, it's fine. I'm right on schedule. I assume you've met everyone here 
already, but this is my sister Devi. Devi, this is Nicole Jackson, the 
friend I was telling you about, and Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who 
helped nail Barry." 

"Just Mulder," Mulder says in his typical monotone. 

"Hi Nicole," Devi says, rising to embrace Nicole warmly. "I'm so glad you're 
safe. Digging into Pinck's business like that is incredibly dangerous, as 
I'm sure you know all too well. We were so worried about you. Sari was 
nearly out of her mind over it." Devi turns to our fibbies, offering them 
her hand, and they each take it in turn. "Thank you, both of you, for 
helping to save my sister's life. I could never express the true depth of my 
gratitude for what you've done. If you ever need anything that I can 
provide, you have but to ask. And that goes for you boys, too," she says to 
us. "But to return to the Pinck issue," she says, as Langly and Frohike 
return with table settings, and a couple of large platters of food, "I do 
have some news for you, gentlemen. I'm not sure what use it may be at this 
point, though." 

"Wait until we get back with the coffee and tea," Frohike says, grabbing 
Langly by the arm and dragging him back into the kitchen. 

"I wanna sit down with Deb and eat," Langly protests. 

"As soon as we're done. You have to carry the mugs, Hairboy." Langly gets a 
pissy look on his face, but complies. Devi and I lay out the plates and 
flatware. 

"I'll come help," Deborah offers, and follows them into the kitchen. Sari 
takes the moment of calm to come and give me, Mulder and Agent Scully all a 
hug. I'm somewhat surprised when both of them accept her gesture without 
comment or any hint of discomfort. Then again, Sari did stay with Scully for 
a few days, from what I've been told. 

"Thank you for bringing Nicole here, Dana," she says quietly. "It means so 
much to me that she's safe now." 

"We don't really know how safe she is here," Mulder cautions, "and we don't 
have any way of knowing how safe you are, either, if Pinck has managed to 
connect the two of you." 

Something's bothering me, and I can't put my finger on it. "Black Widow... 
oh, hell -- he may already know about the connection," I tell them, 
considering the possibility for the first time. I feel my stomach tighten. I 
have a very bad feeling this. 

"Who may already know what?" Langly asks, hauling in a tray full of mugs. He 
sets them out in front of everyone as Deborah and Mel come out with the hot 
beverages and their various possible adulterants. As the three set 
everything down, Sari goes around and hugs Mel and Langly, then offers one 
to Deborah. She looks at Sari for a brief moment, then nods, and Sari 
embraces her as she has everyone else in the room. 

"She's willing to hug Frohike?" Mulder mutters to Scully as Sari moves 
around the room. "She really is braver than I thought." I hear a muffled 
thump as Scully kicks Mulder's ankle. He yips. 

"Black Widow may already know about the connection between Sari and Dr. 
Jackson," I tell him. Langly's eyes narrow, and he and Mel exchange glances. 
"That's the hacker who was in Sari's system, and crashed the Sierra Club 
system Thursday," I explain to the agents. 

"Hadn't thought of that," he says. Frohike shakes his head; he hadn't 
either. The tension level in the room rises, but we all sit around a 
cleared-off work bench to tuck into our breakfast. "If he knows, Pinck 
probably knows." 

"You know, folks, you can call me Nicole. I save the titles for work." She 
piles her plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, and a poppy seed muffin. I take 
some of each, sprinkling chopped serranos and shaking tabasco onto my eggs. 

"Ooh, Sari, he likes it hot," Devi teases, poking her sister in the ribs. 

Sari sighs. "When did you say your thirteenth birthday was going to be?" she 
asks archly. They both giggle. Sari takes two muffins and a big mug of tea, 
then becomes serious again. "John, how likely is it that Black Widow 
actually knows about my connection with Nicole?" 

"There's a damn good chance of it by now," Frohike replies. "I'm sure Pinck 
would have had him check out Nicole's system as soon as they found out who 
their leak was. Nicole, did you keep any records at all of Sari's contact 
address?" 

"I had the contact in my e-addresses, but not with Sari's name on it." 

"Was it the only address you had with no name on it?" Langly inquires. He 
has a point. If I found one address out of dozens with no identification, 
I'd look into it. 

Nicole looks perplexed. "Ah... yeah. Would that cause a problem?" 

"It would flag that address as special," I explain. "And if they suspected 
Sari was getting inside information from somewhere, knowing that you were 
leaking it, they'd probably make the connection fairly quickly. This could 
be a very dangerous situation for both of you." I look around to our 
assembled think tank. "Any suggestions about how to help minimize the 
danger?" 

Deborah, quiet until now, says, "Ummm... guys, I know that you're into some 
really weird shit here. I saw more of it last night than I expected. Are you 
saying that people really are in danger?" Langly takes her hands. 

He looks into her eyes. "Yeah, Deb. That's what we're saying. I didn't want 
to drag you into this. I was kinda wanting to keep you out of it by not 
telling you too much. I thought like maybe you could be safe that way. But I 
don't think that was ever possible, being around us. Byers was right. You 
have to know everything if you're gonna be with me... if you even want to 
still be with me now." There's a catch in his voice, fear, and a deep 
sadness. If I didn't know he wouldn't show it in public, I'd think he was 
close to tears. I reach out and take Sari's hand under the table, and she 
squeezes mine tightly in return, our fingers twining together. Langly's 
fears echo my own. Sari is my friend, and anything that puts her at risk is 
cause for concern. 

Deborah looks down into her plate, avoiding his gaze. "Ringo, this is all 
getting kinda confusing for me. Can we talk about it later, in private?" She 
looks up briefly, and he nods. 

"We do need to get down to business, though," Devi says. "Where do you want 
to start?" 

"I will," Nicole says. "The packet I gave to Agent Scully last night is the 
core information for one of Pinck's current research projects, code-named 
Wildfire, just outside Andover, Kansas. When you read through it, you'll 
find a description of their plan to develop and attempt to deliver a toxin 
to the civilian population. I don't know what its ultimate purpose is. The 
project is funded through the National Institute of Health, but ultimately 
derives from an upper-echelon military mandate within the Department of 
Defense." She pulls a small specimen cassette from her pocket. It looks 
extremely well-sealed. "This," she says, "is what was inside Bootsie. And 
Deborah, thanks for putting my pup back together. My late husband won him 
for me, a few months before he died." Nicole hands the cassette to Agent 
Scully. "This is a sample of the toxin they've been working on. I was a 
minor research fellow on this project. The project head tried very hard to 
keep its true nature from us, but I could see that there was much more to 
this than met the eye, and started looking into it." Mulder and Scully 
examine the cassette. "Please don't open that outside a Level 3 Hazmat 
Containment area," Nicole says calmly. Mulder snaps his hand back away from 
it quickly. "It's quite safe in its sealed cassette, but if for some reason 
the tube inside has cracked, or the seal has broken, it will be very 
dangerous to open the case." 

Scully nods. "Yes, we have some resources we can use to analyze the sample." 
She puts it in her pocket. "Thank you, Doctor Jackson. I know you must have 
put yourself at extreme risk to obtain this material." 

"Scully," Mulder says quietly, "do you think that Smoking Bastard is behind 
this?" 

"It's certainly possible, Mulder, but we both know that most of his cohorts 
died at Fort Marlene. I still want to know how he's maintaining his power 
base. We haven't seen much of him recently." 

"I'm less concerned about who's behind it right now, than what it is," Sari 
says, "and what Pinck and the DoD plan to do with it. Why are they working 
with some toxin that results in massive birth defects in both humans and 
wildlife, not to mention who knows how many other things it might be 
causing?" 

"They've been working for years on secret projects like this," Mulder says. 

"Yeah," Frohike adds, "it's all about that alien hybridization project..." 

"Oh, please guys, can we can the alien bullshit and discuss reality here?" 
Sari snaps, muffin halfway to her lips. "Nicole's life is in danger. Let's 
not talk little green men." 

"Grey." Mulder says. "They're grey. And they're quite real. I've seen them." 

Sari stares at him in disbelief, then looks at Agent Scully for a voice of 
sanity. "I've seen a lot of very strange things in my time with the X Files, 
Sari," Scully says. "I don't know if they're alien, but they are essentially 
inexplicable under the currently known laws of science. There is, without 
doubt, a massive conspiracy within our government involving the cloning of 
human beings, attempts to create and disseminate toxins through very unusual 
means, and a collaboration with forces unknown that are working 
extragovernmentally with what seem to be very sinister motives." 

Deborah, Devi, Nicole and Sari are all rather confused at this. Nicole looks 
at Sari. "You sent *these* people to rescue me? Girl, where the hell is Rod 
Serling?" She's become very uneasy. We've got to do something to reassure 
her, and fast. 

"I don't suppose you've found any proof of this... conspiracy?" Sari asks 
cautiously. 

"A great deal, but it tends to conveniently disappear into the bureaucracy," 
Scully says bitterly. 

"So how can I trust you with that sample, if your evidence keeps 
disappearing?" Nicole asks. Not an unreasonable question, under the 
circumstances. They even lost that damn bee we found in Mulder's hallway. 

"We have to try to keep it out of official channels for as long as 
possible," Mulder says. "Sari's currently involved in a Congressional 
investigation of Pinck. While most of them are in someone's pocket, there 
are a few here and there who are actually attempting to expose the truth. If 
we can find out what Wildfire is, and keep it out of the hands of the 
government and the bureaucracy at the Bureau until the time comes to present 
the evidence at the hearing, she can present it before the press and expose 
this project for what it is. Whatever it is." Mulder looks over at Frohike 
and Langly, across the table from him. "Are you guys willing to keep this 
stuff here until that time?" 

We look at each other. "Are you kidding?" I ask. "A Level 3 Biohazard? Here 
in the office? You're insane, Mulder!" Mel and Ringo echo my sentiments 
vigorously. It's like asking us to store a pocketful of plutonium for a few 
weeks. We're rather attached to our lives, and we'd like to keep them. 

"Well, where..." Mulder starts. 

"Just because we won't keep it here, doesn't mean we don't know a number of 
more appropriate places," I tell him. He smiles. "We know people who work in 
Hazmat labs. They'll know precisely how to keep it safe and undocumented for 
as long as we need it stored." 

"Look, lets ignore all this alien shit. What I want to know is, what the 
hell is this toxin we're talking about?" Deborah looks pointedly at Nicole. 
"You wanna fill us in, Nicole?" 

Ms. Jackson takes a deep breath. "Okay, here it is in a nutshell. Wildfire 
is a spliced up, bioengineered strain of e. coli, designed to attack 
mammalian central nervous systems. It's been inserted into the wheat crops, 
but vectors through the groundwater under the fields. It's actually harmless 
in the wheat itself, but once it gets into the groundwater, it travels. You 
can get it drinking from a well, a city reservoir, a stream, any unboiled or 
insufficiently filtered water source. For all I know, it may be blood 
vectored as well. As Sari's report states, the general results are late-term 
miscarriages and massive neurological birth defects in both humans and 
animals. It's ugly, and I don't believe that's all it does, but I don't know 
what was going on at the Andover Medical Center. I have no idea what it does 
to adults or children, but I imagine it does something. It may well do other 
kinds of neurological damage, but for all I know, it could take months, or 
even years to show up. I don't know why anyone would want to create 
something like this." 

We're all sitting silent, trying to absorb this. After a moment, I think I 
may have an idea about what's going on. "You said project Wildfire was 
ultimately derived from a DoD mandate?" I ask her. 

Nicole nods. "Yes." 

"Does anyone know if there's anything in the databases or the paperwork that 
can link this conclusively?" I motion to the manila packet near Scully's 
plate. 

"I haven't had time to examine the evidence yet," Scully says. 

"I don't know if that was one of the papers I was able to get before I had 
to run," Nicole says. "I believe I got a copy out of the Pinck files. I 
think it's in here." 

"You don't know?" Frohike asks. 

"Like I said, I had to run. I didn't exactly have time to make an inventory 
list." 

"Hang on guys," I interrupt, before things start to get out of hand, "if we 
can prove the DoD link, I suspect I know why they might be doing this, and 
it I don't think it has to have anything to do with Mulder's favorite 
conspiracy." 

"Okay, Byers, so what's your answer?" Mulder asks. 

"Biological warfare." 

"But why against our own people?" Deborah asks. I remember asking that 
question myself once. 

"They'd say that they require a secure testing ground before they take it 
overseas for use on so-called 'enemy' populations. We mean nothing to them. 
American citizens are nothing but lab animals to these people. And if this 
is what we're dealing with, we can expect the whole thing to be buried by 
Congress the instant we bring in evidence of military involvement." The guys 
are nodding in agreement, as is Mulder. Nicole looks thoughtful; Deborah, 
horrified. Sari and her sister look at each other and seem to come to some 
silent agreement. 

Devi speaks. "Actually, John, your analysis makes perfect sense. And I think 
at this point, I should tell you I've learned that Pinck is planning on 
expanding its overseas operations within the next three months in Sri Lanka, 
South Africa, and Indonesia. I overheard a discussion between a Pinck 
representative and an Indonesian trade representative, and the Pinck rep was 
talking about how things are 'heating up' here because of a Congressional 
investigation. The Indonesian was discussing the 'better business 
opportunities' in his country for all kinds of research activities. They 
were discussing the use of one small island, inhabited almost entirely by a 
'troublesome' indigenous population, not unlike the East Timorans. With the 
knowledge just provided by Nicole, and your analysis of the situation, I 
believe that we may be facing corporate genocide against an Indonesian 
minority within the next three months, as a field test for an American 
military operation." 

Everyone starts talking at once, and I doubt that anyone is actually 
listening. I think we need to break for a while to let the implications of 
the situation sink in. The situation has suddenly changed drastically. The 
danger is no longer theoretical. If this information leaks before Nicole and 
Sari are able to testify, they stand a very high risk of assassination. I 
feel my heart skip several beats, and look at Sari. She looks back at me, 
fear in her face. I lean over to her so she can hear me, and take her hand. 
"Let's talk." She nods and we enter the hallway in search of a little quiet. 
"You have to step away from this, Sari. It's just gotten far too dangerous. 
Let Mulder and Scully take this to Congress." 

"What, the same government that conveniently loses all their evidence?" She 
snorts. "Right. That'll help." 

"The military isn't beyond sending assassins after people if they think one 
of their pet projects is endangered. We could deal with Barry, but he's only 
one man. We're talking about the entire United States military here. Who 
knows how high this goes?" 

"If the information is given to enough people, John, who will they 
assassinate? Eliminating me or Nicole won't kill the information. We're 
talking about thousands, maybe ultimately millions of lives here. We're 
talking *genocide,* John. How can you ask me to sit silent in the midst of 
all this? Would you ask for my silence if we lived in Germany in the 1930s? 
To remain silent while millions perished, when I could expose that horror 
and perhaps prevent it? I suppose you're going to ask me next if I'm scared, 
and the answer is, I'm fucking terrified, but that doesn't mean I'm going to 
let this go." She glares at me. 

"Sari, this isn't about letting it go. It's not about allowing genocide. The 
guys and I can publish the information, but you know how we're received by 
the general public. I'm just asking you to let Mulder and Scully take it 
from here. Please. If you won't do it for your own sake, then..." I can 
barely say the words, "then do it for me. I don't care if you think I'm 
being selfish. Maybe I am. I don't have that many friends, and I don't want 
to lose you. You mean too much to me." 

Her anger vanishes, replaced by astonishment. Tears start to well in her 
eyes. "John, I..." she wraps her good arm around me, and I hold her close. 
Her lips brush my cheek, and she says, "Thank you John. I... I didn't 
know... it's just..." she steps back and looks me in the eyes, "I can take 
this to the mainstream media, John. With Nicole's documentation, with the 
sample she brought, and the records Mel and Ringo found last night, we can 
bring enough evidence to the table to crack this open long before Congress 
gets around to hearing the information. We can bring it before the people, 
where it can't be silenced. You and your friends may not have the 
credibility to do that, but I do. I have to, John. Nicole and I have to do 
this." 

"Sari, we don't have proof yet, particularly not of the information that 
Devi overheard. We can't risk exposing your sister by going public with that 
information. But we can use it behind the scenes to find the documentation 
and prove it without bringing her name into it." She nods. 

"I can agree to that, but we need to discuss it with Devi first." 

"Fine, then let's discuss it with Devi. But please, Sari, don't expose 
yourself any more than you absolutely must." She nods, and we return to the 
office. 

End part 16

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