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 
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. 
______ 

"To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer." 
______ 

THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2000 
SARI'S OFFICE 
LATE MORNING 

SARI: 

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 
you." 

"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, 
yesterday." 

"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 
*this* wide. 

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 
laughs. 

"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 
LATE MORNING 

FROHIKE: 

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 
myself. 

"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 
had. 

"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, 
Mel." 

"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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