Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (6/24)
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.
"To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer."
THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2000
I ended up spending the night on the couch at the guys' place last night.
It's much cleaner than it was last time I saw it, and considerably more red
than any of us had suspected. It's bright enough to burn a hole in your
retinas, and it still looks like a refugee from a whorehouse. It might have
been safer to leave it dull and dirty. Ringo and Mel were still working when
I faded out at about 2 a.m., and John was doing what Ringo referred to as
'back seat hacking.' It looked to me more like he was analyzing and
synthesizing the information the other two were retrieving, and doing a
pretty good job at it for someone who can't read.
I left the Cardinal with them, skipped dropping by my place to change
clothes, and was still late getting to the office. I had planned on
apologizing to my boss and my team, but when I arrive, the entire place is
in chaos. People are literally running around, shouting at each other. It
takes me twenty minutes to find someone calm enough to tell me what caused
the whirlwind of half-panicked activity here. "We got hacked this morning,"
my temp aide Janet tells me.
"Oh, lovely." I mumble. I've got to check my computer and see what's
happened. Fortunately, I learned my lesson a few weeks ago, and have backups
for everything. I start them just as I leave for the evening. The inside of
my computer looks like an explosion in a noodle factory. "What divisions got
hit?" I ask her.
"Nobody's sure of the extent of the damage yet. We know that most of the
research, statistics, and PR computers are down hard. Some in accounting,
and quite a few in records that we know about so far. It's ugly. I don't
think anybody's going to get anything done today. They have the techies in,
but even they're throwing their hands in the air right now. It's the worst
mess I've ever seen anywhere in all my years of temp work."
"Oh bliss. I'll be up at Rob's office if anyone needs me, okay?" Rob is our
site manager. I'm sure he's having a headache the size of the capitol dome
right now. I hope I can help him. I have a proposal in mind, but I'm
probably going to have to do some selling.
"Sure, no problem," she says. "That'll probably be the easiest thing for me
to keep track of today." Janet shakes her head and buries her face in her
hands, looking miserable.
When I get to Rob's office, I tell Rebecca, his secretary, that I'd like a
few minutes of his time, and that I have a proposal to offer him. It's just
as chaotic here as it is everywhere else in the building. Her phone is
ringing on all lines.
"You and everyone else," she says sardonically as she ushers me in.
Rob is really a wonderful boss, and we have an excellent working
relationship, but in view of the day's events, I'm not surprised that he
looks at me as if I'm about to open a box full of vipers. "Got any ideas on
this one?" He groans wearily as he grabs a bottle from his drawer and offers
it to me. "Advil?" Rob is a mess. He's sweaty and irritated and sounds like
he's been strangling baby mice all morning.
"I'll pass, thanks." I might really have a headache later, but I'm only
mildly anxious at the moment. I watch as he gulps four of them, dry. Rob is
ordinarily one of the calmest individuals you'd ever want to meet. It takes
about a 10 on the Richter scale to knock him off balance. This was more like
a 12, from what I can tell. "Actually, I do have an idea, and a proposal for
"Go ahead," he groans wearily. Rob is a light drinker, but his expression
suggests that the Library Lounge will be getting a big chunk of his
hard-earned salary tonight unless somebody saves his ass from the alligators
that are snapping at it. With a little luck, I might be that person. It
never hurts to bail out your boss.
"You remember how a couple of weeks ago, my personal PC got hacked, before I
had to give my white paper?"
"Jesus, who could forget that? We nearly lost a huge fight, and a ton of
monetary support over that one. You pulled off a real miracle, Sari."
"Yeah, well I think I can pull off a second one here, if you'll let me."
Rob eyes me suspiciously, but there's a slight tone of hope in his voice.
"Really? How?" He massages the bridge of his nose and his temples as he
waits for what I have to say.
"I can pull in the guys who salvaged my system. They've seen this kind of
damage before, and if what they're looking at right now is correct, this may
be directly connected to what happened to my machine, and to what they're
working on for another firm. I think we've got a situation connected to
Pinck's ongoing experimentation here, Rob, and that these guys can connect
the dots for us."
"Connected? I mean, I know the Pinck findings were controversial, but what
makes you think this is connected to that?"
"How much damage has been done?" I ask.
"Sari, this hacker has thrashed most of our in-house system, and blew out
some of the regional offices as well."
That gives me pause. I had no idea that Pinck would try taking out the
regionals as well. "Yeah, but which ones?"
"Mostly in the Midwest. And the damage is all over the place in those
offices, too. It's like somebody's trying to put us out of business. This is
ugly. I've got no idea how we're going to recover from this. Our tech boys
are screaming, the bean counters are tearing their hair out about being
twenty percent over budget for upgrades this year already, and the execs are
breathing down my neck to figure this out and get something done,
"I'm sure they are. And I'm also sure somebody's trying to put us out of
business. But that doesn't mean they're not targeting something specific.
What better way to cover up what you're really after than by messing up a
whole system? You know how bad Pinck looks now that we've exposed those
problems with their Midwest test fields. You also know that it's where Pinck
is headquartered. I discovered last night that there's new evidence Pinck's
working on something much bigger than anything we suspected before. Bigger,
and much uglier than I even want to talk about right now. Who knows who
could be listening in? If I can confirm this, I'll let you in on it later.
Look, my tech gurus know about this, and they'll have ways to tell what's
really happening here."
Rob leans back in his chair and sighs, one hand over his eyes. "You know we
don't usually contract out for the in-house stuff." He looks at me, his eyes
dull and pained.
"I realize that, but they were the ones responsible for my being able to
present the Pinck white paper at all. They're very fast and efficient, and
they really know their stuff. They're unconventional, but let's face it,
this isn't your garden-variety system explosion, either."
"Ah, no, not exactly." I get a wry smile from him. "My big concern isn't
that they couldn't do the job. Obviously they were able to help you and
thus, help all of us. You've indicated that they're very discreet, and you
realize how important that is."
"That they are. So what's the problem?"
"The problem is getting past the drones in accounting. It's a good thing
you've had the response to the Pinck paper you've received. As it is,
getting the invoice for the damage to your personal system was like pulling
molars. And we're talking entire orders of magnitude larger here.
Tyrannosaurus molars. Blue whale molars." He doesn't look optimistic. I
don't blame him, but I really do believe I can help here.
"Ummm, Rob, I hate to break it to you, but neither T. Rex nor blue whales
have molars. Blue whales don't even have teeth."
He laughs. "No, but if they did, they'd be *huge.*" He spreads his arms
He's right, of course. I smile. "I bet I can negotiate a reasonable contract
with my tech team, if you'll have financial authorize me to act on our
behalf in this matter." I know the guys would go for this. They're not doing
well financially right now, and this could cover their budget for the rest
of the year if I can get the job for them. Even if it means underbidding our
usual contract house by a few cents. That's what FOIA's for, after all. And
I owe them big. This might be a step toward helping to settle the debt that
I owe them.
"Let me talk to financial, and to the big kahunas. You've got a good
reputation here, Sari, and most of the old line trusts you. And your recent
win in the Senate means you've been on everyone's mind lately. I think I can
work that. In the meantime, nothing even vaguely resembling real work is
going to get done here today, so why don't you go grab some sleep? You look
wasted. Give me a few hours; I'll call you as soon as I know anything. I can
get you at home."
I sigh with relief. Maybe I can get a little rest today after all. "No,
don't try me at home. Call me at this number." I give Rob one of John's
business cards. "I'll be talking to the guys at Aegis to let them know
they'd have to jump right on this, okay?"
"Sounds good to me. If it's approved, they'll need to be ready to move fast.
Better they should have a heads up than have to waste the day working
through the contract negotiations."
We stand, and Rob shakes my good hand. "Thanks, Rob. You're a saint." He
"Yeah, well, they say no good deed goes unpunished. Now, get outta here." I
do. I should stop by my place and see if anything's happened to my personal
system, too. Then it's off to Chez Bachelor Pad to tell the guys they've got
a paying job.
LONE GUNMEN HQ
Oh God, do I need coffee. Langly and I finally crashed around 5:15 because,
after a while, it occurred to me that it wasn't the screen moving, but my
eyes failing to focus. Blondie balked a little, but within five minutes of
hitting the pillow, he was sound asleep, on top of his now-naked bed. Not
very comfortable, but I doubt he noticed. We'd insisted that Byers go to bed
about five minutes after Sari crashed, as he'd been up far too late already.
I peer into Byers' room first. He's sleeping peacefully, sprawled across his
bed on his stomach. Good. This is happening more often, and it's a huge
relief to all of us, probably none more than him. I still can't help but
wonder what kind of conversation triggered this change. The Cardinal, who
spent the night with us, is curled up between Byers' feet, probably
contributing to his pleasant slumber. I say, let the boy sleep. He needs it
if his eye -- and his spirit -- are going to heal properly. Slowly but
surely, I think this might be happening. I close the door quietly.
Langly looks positively exhausted. His is more the sleep of the dead than
the dreamlike, relaxed state Byers is in. He's going to have a hard time
waking up, which he needs to do soon, but for the moment, I'll be merciful.
Besides, he looks like a little kid when he's out, and I've got a real soft
spot for little kids. How do you think I've managed with these guys for so
long? It isn't their native charm.
I stagger into the now-clean kitchen, blinking to make certain I'm in the
right place. There are no dishes piled in the sink, no empty pizza boxes on
the counter, no empties all over the kitchen table. Well, they say if it
weighs the same as a duck... and the coffee maker's on the counter,
sparkling clean. For once, I can start the coffee without having to rinse
out the pot first. I'm getting it started when I hear the buzzer. I hit the
button before I head for the door, so I won't get distracted and forget.
Goddammit, Mulder, you have no respect for the dead. I'm sure it's him; who
the hell else would have the nerve to wake us up at the ungodly hour of
10:43 a.m.? I mean, assassins aren't usually up yet, and we haven't had a
Jehovah's Witness in years.
I'm ready to hurl a stream of invective Mulder's way when I notice on the
video monitor that it most assuredly is not Mulder, but a woman. In fact,
the very same woman that crashed on our sofa somewhere in the vicinity of 2
o'clock this morning. "Sari?" I can't understand what she'd be doing here at
this hour; she, after all, has a normal job with what passes for normal
hours. What's she doing here at what to us is the crack of dawn? I unlock
all the locks on the door and let her in. "Sari, dear, are you all right?
What happened? Did you get fired?" That's why people normally come home in
the middle of the working day -- either that, or she's ill. And she does
look extremely tired. Still, if it were simply a case of not feeling well, I
think she'd be much more inclined to head for the comforts of her own home,
and let us bring the Cardinal back to her at a reasonable hour.
"Fired? That might be a cheerful alternative to what's happening at work
right now," she laughs, a bit morbidly.
Before I can get any more detail from her, a heavy set of feet come into the
room from behind us. It's Langly, in all his bed-head glory. He must still
be 90 percent asleep; he hasn't even put his glasses on. "Whassup?" he
croaks out, yawning.
"Morning, Ringo," Sari greets him pleasantly enough, but her voice is tense.
"Sari, man, what're you doing here?" I could smack that boy. Sometimes he
can be so rude. It occurs to me that I'm not in much better shape than poor
Langly. I'm still in my jammies, slippers and Kevlar vest. Definitely not
street attire. I'm sure I smell ripe and I know it's been a while since I
shaved, but at the moment, I can't remember exactly how long it's been. On
the other hand, Ms. Thomas is still in the same garb she was wearing when
she arrived last night around 8:30. Langly is standing there in sweatpants.
"I think we all need some coffee. Langly, put on a shirt, we've got a lady
present, for Christ's sake."
"Oh, like she's never seen a shirtless guy," he yawns.
"You may be kinda buff, dude, but I'm not giving anybody their morning hug
until you're presentable," she says. He looks pleased when she says he's
buff, but his face falls at the news he's not going to get a hug while he's
half-naked. Poor baby.
"Langly." I think I hear him mutter 'fuck' as he takes off to his room. He
returns a few moments later, sporting a T-shirt that reads, 'Fuck You
Fucking Fuck.' "That wasn't exactly what I had in mind, Blondie."
"Look, it doesn't matter," Sari announces as I hand her a mug. "The reason
I'm here is because this morning, when I arrived at the office, I discovered
that the entire computer system had been hacked." All this and I'm still
pre-caffeine. It's going to be a very long day, I can tell already.
However, this news perks Langly up faster than any cup of java ever could.
His eyes open wide. "The whole system, not just your computer?"
"Damn near everything. It's vaguely possible that central scheduling is
intact." She rolls her eyes. "As I said, this was at work, and the entire
system's been compromised, including some of our regional offices," she
explains, looking more and more tense as she speaks. She looks as if she
hasn't slept in a week. I didn't think the sofa was that uncomfortable
myself, but she may have more discriminating standards. Most normal humans
do. "The whole place is buzzing like Tokyo after Godzilla."
"You looked at your stuff on your home machine yet?" Langly asks her, his
interest now piqued.
"Yeah, it booted fine from what I could see, but I wasn't about to go
online. For all I know, our hacker boy could be lurking just outside,
waiting to take me down. April Fools, after all."
"Sounds like something we could manage," I say.
"Well, that's the reason I'm here," Sari begins.
"You mean it's not for the coffee?" I tease. She just glowers. Normally
she's game for kidding, but this morning, my humor is lost on her. "Go
ahead, dear," I attempt to placate her.
"I've talked to my site manager already, since he's the one that approved
payment for you guys repairing my personal system. He thinks he can swing
the financial drones to bring you guys in. Are you interested?"
Are we interested? Anything that brings cash in right now, and doesn't
involve dealing with toddlers playing CEO, sounds delightful. Even better
when it's something where we can flex our technological muscle and really
show our stuff. "You bet," I tell her. I'm starting to feel a little excited
"Well, you might consider getting in the shower right about now, because if
it's approved, you're going to have to move fast," she advises us as she
sips her coffee. "I'm not sure exactly how much money we're talking, and
you'd probably have to underbid our usual contractor by a few cents."
"No problem there," I assure her. The Freedom of Information Act isn't just
a law. In these parts, it's a way of life. We're the best customers it ever
"You mean like today?" Now Langly looks a little alarmed. "But Deb's coming
tomorrow, I gotta go shopping, I gotta..."
"Ringo, give me a credit card number, and I'll take care of it," Sari says,
patting his arm. "I have a personal shopper at Nordstrom's for emergencies,
and she's bailed me out more than once."
"Nordstrom's? Like, isn't that place expensive?" Langly's eyes grow wide.
"C'mon, Langly, just do what we always do and charge it to Mulder's Visa," I
growl at him. Langly rattles off the numbers rapidly; she's trying to slow
him down so that she can get it taken down accurately.
"You guys better get ready. They could be calling anytime," Sari indicates,
yawning. Poor child looks beat.
"I get the first shower!" Langly bolts from the table.
"Well, there goes all the hot water," I grumble.
"Oh, and guys?" Sari calls out, stopping Langly in his tracks. "I'm sure
you're aware SCI is a very old-line organization. Maybe you could try not to
look so much like, um, yourselves, perhaps? It won't be just your reputation
on the line here. It's mine, too. You have no idea how much tap dancing my
boss will have to do to get your contract approval, and he's pitching this
on nothing more than my word about you."
"My dear, we'll put on our corporate best for them," I pat her on the
shoulder. "Now why don't you go make yourself at home? You look as if you
could use a nap."
"As soon as I call Nordie's, I fully intend to. I really appreciate this,
"Well, let's see if they call first."
"They'll call." She sounds certain of that. "This is really ugly. The
in-house techs are screaming and acting like the Kali Yuga's begun. Nobody's
seen anything like it. They need the best help they can get." Well, with us,
they'll get it. "Oh, and one last thing. Strictest confidence is necessary
here. No bringing anything home."
"Not even a calendar?" Langly asks. All he gets from Sari is a glare.
End part 6
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