Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (7/24)
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.
"What one man can invent, another can discover."
~~Arthur Conan Doyle -- The Dancing Men~~
THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2000
SIERRA CLUB OFFICES
The guy's eyeballing us like we crawled out from under some rock. He's a
total suit. Normally, Byers would take care of this stuff, but he's still
like not really in any shape to be leaving the house much, and he's
definitely not able to work right now. So Frohike's being the interface man.
I am so not into talking to the suits. His name is Rob Harris, and he's
Sari's boss, the site manager. The contract's been signed, but he's still
edgy about us. "There are only two of you?" he asks, like this is some kind
of problem. The guy looks like he's having the kind of day where hanging
himself might be on the agenda for dinner instead of his usual.
"What we lack in numbers, we more than make up for in knowledge and skill,"
Frohike says. That's one of Byers' lines. Mel's all calm and everything.
Like, we both know there's nothing here we can't handle. "I assure you, sir,
we're the best in the business."
Sari's boss looks suspicious. "You do come highly recommended, and your
references are excellent, but I was expecting ten or fifteen techs,
actually. Are you sure that the two of you can handle a system this size?"
"Hey, two guys who know what they're doing are better than fifteen clueless
kids right out of tech school any day," Frohike tells him.
"I suppose that's true," Rob says. No way he's gonna take us real serious
until he sees our kung fu. But once that happens, he'll be all ready to kiss
our toes, I guarantee.
Frohike doesn't let him get any further. "Now, if you'll just have someone
show us down to your computer department and authorize us for sys admin
access, we'll get down to business and show you just how capable we are."
We're both chomping at the bit here, because this job is like setting a kid
loose in a comics shop and saying 'you can have anything you want, no
charge.' I can't wait to get my hands on their system. I'll teach it tricks
it never even imagined. Too bad Byers is missing this. He'd love it. Damn, I
hope he gets well enough to help again soon. He's been out of it for way too
long. He's gonna be so pissed when he finds out what kind of fun we're
having without him.
Boss-man calls some gofer into his office and tells him to take us down to
tech support, handing him a memo. "Give this to Jessie O'Connor," he says.
"Tell her these guys are our tech gurus of the day, and to extend them
"Yes sir," the gofer says, then motions to us. "Come with me, please." We
pick up our juju kit and follow the kid.
"So who's this Jessie person?" I ask.
"I don't know her very well, but she seems to be decent. She doesn't yell at
me very much," the kid says. "She's the head of the computer operations
division; tech support, networking, webworks, upgrades, all that stuff."
The whole place here is in total chaos. Sari was right, it's like totally
wilder than a 'zilla stomped Tokyo. It's no wonder she was such a mess when
she got to our place. It's not like her to just snarl at people like she did
this morning. I mean, she didn't even laugh at any of our jokes. How could
she not laugh at our jokes? But Frohike's face is lit like a Christmas tree.
Actually, I think we're both just about ready to cream our shorts. This is a
dream job for us -- a totally awesome hack and crack, we get a look at more
evidence to see if Sari's right about this being connected to Pinck, and a
place that's doing the right kind of things on top if it all -- and we're
gonna end up rolling in the dough after this, too. Byers will take care of
the tax end of things, of course, so that we don't give the IRS any reason
to look at us too close. Damn, though, the kinda shit we can buy with what
we'll get off this job, it'll be utterly gnarly. When we get down to the
computer shop, we get led into this teensy office with a hand-lettered sign
on the door that says 'Banzai Institute,' and there's this short, red headed
chick, about my age, who's screaming at people on the phone and shredding
some kind of official looking papers for stress relief while she's at it.
"What do you want?" she bellows at the gofer.
He looks pretty intimidated. "Memo from Mr. Harris. These are the guys who
came to fix the place. He says you're supposed to give them your full
cooperation." He drops the note on her desk and runs like hell. I can't say
as I blame him.
"Aegis Consulting," Frohike says, offering her his hand. "I'm Melvin
Frohike, and this is my associate Richard Langly."
She looks around. "Where's the rest of your team?"
"We are the rest of our team," he says.
The chick groans and looks like she's about to slam her head into a wall.
"You've got to be kidding. Jesus Horatio Christ on a pogo stick, why do
those brainless fucks in admin always manage to send us less than a tenth of
what we need to do the job?" She waves her hands in the air and screams, all
throaty and sharp, sorta like you'd hear from one of those Hollywood scream
Me and Fro, we just look at each other. This wasn't quite the reception we'd
been hoping for, but aside from the scream, it's the sort we're used to.
She'll change her mind real fast once we get to work. Frohike says, "Look, I
know we don't look like what you were hoping for, but let me assure you that
our kung fu is the best in the business. We'll get your system back up and
running, and we'll do it fast and with a minimum of bullshit."
"You'd fucking well better." She shakes her head. I've seen better tempers
during Shark Week on Discovery. "If you don't, I'm the one whose head's
gonna roll, so you'd damned well better be all that and a bag of chips too."
"We're all that and the full gourmet dinner." Mel grins at her. "Don't you
worry, my dear. You just give us the access codes, show us to a couple of
terminals, and we'll be right on it. We specialize in this sort of mess."
Man, I'm so hot to get started on this, I can barely stand still. Fro elbows
me and hisses, "Quit your fidgeting, Langly."
Miss Bitch reads the memo, then looks at Frohike. "The word 'modesty' isn't
in your vocabulary, is it? Well, you're what they've sent us, so I guess
you'll have to do. I'm Jessica O'Connor, and if there's anything you need,
talk to me." Seems like she's not gonna give us a real hassle after all.
O'Connor leads us out to the main computer deck, stands on a desk, and
whistles for attention over the frenzy. "Yo, people, listen up!" It only
takes a couple minutes to get something resembling quiet from the assembled
drones. "These two" she says, indicating us, "are the rescue team that
management's sent our way." We're getting a lot of dubious looks. "They're
supposed to be hot shit on a stick, and we've been instructed to extend them
our complete cooperation. So let them do their work, and listen up when they
say something to you. With any luck, we can bail this out and not get all
our asses fired by the end of the day." There's a lot of mumbling, and I can
tell there's a good bit of resentment going around, but for the most part, I
can see people nodding. I can feel the desperation in the air. She turns to
us. "Well, boys, it's all yours. I'll be in my office. Here's your God
access." She hands us each a piece of paper with a login procedure, then
hustles back into her office and slams the door. Everyone else is staring at
Frohike grins like a crazed monkey. So do I. "Okay everyone, let's see what
we've got!" he says. We each pick a terminal and have a seat. We are so
godlike. Just call me Alpha Dog. The joyride begins.
LONE GUNMEN HQ
I can almost see the lcd display on my clock when I wake; I think it's about
3 o'clock in the afternoon. The Cardinal walks up my back and licks the back
of my neck with his sandpaper tongue. "Oh, stop that." I shrug him off me
and he makes a rather undignified protest as he hops to the floor. It's
strangely silent here. Usually if I wake up this late, I can hear Langly and
Frohike playing cat and dog over some stupid technical detail, or at least a
police scanner, or music playing, but today there's nothing in my ears but
the white noise hum of the place in shut-down. I guess I'll have to make
some tea and see if they've left me a note. I hope it's in very large
When I enter the office, I see that the red couch is still occupied by a
familiar blanket draped form. Why didn't Sari go to work today, I wonder?
"Sari?" I touch her shoulder gently. If she's ill, I don't want to startle
her. For that matter, if she's ill, I can't imagine the guys would have left
her all alone here without waking me. She moans and rolls over onto her
"G'way..." She waves her good arm in a dismissive gesture. I don't think
she's quite awake.
"Sari, are you all right? It's the middle of the afternoon."
Her eyes snap open and she gropes for her glasses under the edge of the
couch. "Oh... sorry. I'm... I'm fine." She finds them and puts them on.
"You're really late for work, you know."
"Oh, that. Been and come back already. A hacker took the whole damn place
out before I got there this morning. The guys are over there playing Lone
Ranger at the moment." Well, that would explain their absence. I wish I were
there too. I get so frustrated when I can't do anything. She sits up and
"Is your personal system all right?"
"Yeah, but I didn't go online, because I figure our bad boy probably has a
packet of nasty evil shit waiting for me as soon as I do." Well, that makes
sense. I'm glad to know that she's being cautious about this. "And I had
backups from yesterday, you'll be happy to know." She smiles, pleased with
herself. I guess that, unlike most people, she actually learned something
from her last encounter with a hacker.
"I'm going to go put on some tea. Would you like some?" I offer her a hand
"That sounds just lovely, actually." When she stands, she offers me a hug,
and I gladly take her up on it, even though I'm still in my bathrobe and
pajamas. It isn't the sort of thing my parents would have approved of as
casual social behavior, but I'm learning to be a little more flexible
lately. "Mmmm. You give good hug, John." She does too, although I don't say
I smile at her. "I have a good example to learn from." I'm so comfortable
with Sari, and it feels good. For years I've been watching my back
constantly, waiting for a betrayal, or a bullet in the dark. Being able to
trust someone outside my tight circle is a sea change. Her presence has made
such a difference in my life. I thought, after Susanne, that I would never
let anyone near me again. I'd even shut out my best friends. But here is
this amazing woman, and somehow she brought me back to life after a long,
painful time as a walking corpse. We wander into the kitchen, and I start
the tea water and get out mugs.
It's hard to believe how much improved the place looks after Langly finally
cleaned up. I can't attest to the smaller details of course, but overall,
I'd say it looks almost as good as if I'd done it myself. "Do you need to
check your email?" I ask her.
"Well, yeah, but there's no way for me to do that without getting toasted,
"Of course there is. There are actually quite a number of ways. I can show
you how, if you like."
She chuckles. "Naturally, you'd know a dozen alternatives, wouldn't you?
Sure, I'd love to learn how to get around a little without having to depend
on the normal rules of the game. But you can't really show me, because
you're still not allowed to read from a screen." She's got a set look in her
eyes, like she's not going to let me do anything my doctor wouldn't allow.
Considering the horror stories Scully told me about the possible
consequences of overdoing with this kind of injury, I'm not about to step
beyond the prescribed parameters.
I shake my head. "That doesn't mean I can't tell you how to do it for
yourself. All you have to do is read me what you see on the monitor, and
I'll tell you how to do the rest. It's not that hard at all. You're
certainly more than intelligent enough to learn this stuff. It's really very
"You're sure?" she asks. I know she's a reasonably competent user already,
and there's no reason she shouldn't be able to understand anything I explain
"Positive. But I need to have my eye done before we do anything else." Not
that pain is what I like to wake up to, but it's necessary.
"I'll get your meds. Why don't you go sit on the couch and get ready. I'll
be right with you." I head for the couch, and watch as the Cardinal wraps
himself around Sari's ankles. "Hey little putz, you'll get fed in a minute
or two. Hold your horses."
Within fifteen minutes, my eye's been treated, the cat's been fed, both of
us have tea mugs in hand, and I'm instructing Sari in the fine art of
bending the rules of the net, version 1.0.
SIERRA CLUB OFFICES
"You got that new, improved firewall in place?" I ask Langly, who's clicking
away furiously at the keys. He's one with the machine. I've seen this look
in his eyes before. If we lived in a cyberpunk novel, he'd be hardwired into
"Been there. Done that." He doesn't look up or stop typing. I do a quick
scan. Directory trees all in place, virii disinfected, tapeworms untaped. We
haven't been able to completely restore the file systems yet, but with the
directory trees in place, the home team should be able to accomplish it in
short order. That's for tomorrow.
Ms. O'Connor wanders over periodically. To say that she's somewhat less
stressed than when we arrived would be like saying an elephant is larger
than a mouse. She's standing next to me right now, looking exhausted but
immensely relieved. "Listen, guys, I'm going to call it a day. Thanks for
keeping me and half my division off the unemployment lines. I'd offer to
take you out for a drink, but I think all I want to do right now is go home
and melt into a small puddle of goo."
"Are we all set for the video conference tutorial with the regionals in the
morning?" I ask her. I've taken care of what needs to be done from our side;
I'm just making certain her end is in place.
"I've given the monkey boys their instructions; have them run a systems
check on it before you leave."
"Will do. Now, go get some sleep, dear." We still have a lot of work to do,
but what we've done so far is put the basic framework back in place and made
it possible for them to go on line without getting infected all over again.
Now all we have to do is show the regional offices how to do what we've done
here. I've already had discs with our software for it FedEx'd to all the
offices in question. Langly and I are just about done for the day.
Jessie snorts. "Sleep? What's that? I'm a sys admin, remember? 'The only joy
is duty!'" She does her best John Whorfin imitation, and smiles a sweet,
winning grin that sheds years from her face.
"Anywhere you wear your hat is home," I reply. She snickers, and I watch as
she departs. Nice ass on that girl. Not quite as nice as Ms. Scarlett's, but
I'll always settle for good visuals. "You ready to call it, Langly?" I ask
Blonde Ambition as he continues his furious typing.
"Just be cool a bit, okay?" It's not a request.
"What're you doing?"
"I think I've found our uninvited guest."
"Anyone we know?" Trust me, we know most of the people in this business,
even the ones in deep cover. The hacker community is nearly incestuous, if
not necessarily friendly.
"Don't know... wait... got it!" A big, smug smile settles over his face,
then fades rapidly into a distressed frown. "Black Widow. Jesus. I knew I
recognized that kung fu."
"I bet you had to work to get that."
"I did. This guy's good."
"Or girl." Women hackers are more common than they used to be, though not
extremely numerous, but the ones that are out there tend to be very, very
good, and extremely crafty. Women hackers tend to fall prey less often to
the hubris that the male of the species is so prone to. And they're
excellent at covering their tracks. The amount of trouble we've had
identifying Black Widow might suggest a woman's mind behind this.
"You really think it could be a chick?" He seems bothered by that, even
though he knows most of the female hackers out there and tends to respect
their kung fu. "I mean, a lot of this was brute force on top of the hot
coding. Slash and burn. Not a chick's style."
"We gotta get a trail on this one. Bastard's dangerous."
"Yeah, I know. But in the meantime, it's nearly 7 o'clock, and I don't know
about you, but I'm starving. I was thinking we might celebrate our victory
with a little dinner."
He hasn't looked up yet. "What, you mean you're treating us to Taco Hell
tonight?" he groans.
"I was thinking more along the lines of Yamato." It's a top-rank Japanese
place with all the perks; shoji screen walled private rooms, sumi-e
paintings, tea ceremony, grill in the table, sit on pillows on the floor,
wait staff in kimonos and geta, the whole act. And the food's damn good,
That gets him to look up -- and smile. "I'm like so there, dude."
LONE GUNMEN HQ
LATER THAT EVENING
Sari's seated at Byers' computer when we return. We're singing a very
off-key version of Queen's 'We Are The Champions,' which gets rolled eyes
from Byers and giggles from Sari. She seems a lot better than she was
earlier today. Her little nap couldn't have hurt. "I'm guessing it went
well," she laughs.
"Oh man, it was great!" Langly's all puffed up, gloating like a kid who
brought home straight A's. "Fro's buying dinner tonight!"
"I'd love to join you, guys, but I already promised my sister I'd have
dinner with her." Byers looks disappointed. I'm sure he already knew, but
having to listen to it again makes him look like a sad, lost puppy. I wonder
if Sari notices.
"Why don't you ask her to join us? We're headed for Yamato," I say, trying
to entice her. I feel comfortable asking her sister to come along; if she's
as likable as Sari, it's bound to be an enjoyable evening.
"That's a wonderful offer, Mel. Are you sure you don't mind?"
"We'd be delighted," I assure her.
"Actually, I think you'll find Devi quite entertaining," she says with a
broad smile. "Let me call her. Oh, and Mel, were you going to reserve the
tea ceremony? It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure."
"I could." Why not? We're in the money again. Whoever said money couldn't
buy happiness didn't have any. Byers is dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt.
"Hey buddy, you gonna clean up a little?" I chide him gently.
"For Yamato? Of course." He stares at me as if I've completely taken leave
of my senses, which is always a possibility.
"I'll have to go back to my place and change into something more
appropriate, not to mention cleaner," Sari says. That won't be a problem.
We'll have a while before our reservation comes up.
"You're not gonna do the suit, are you dude?" Langly kids him.
Johnny grins. "As a matter of fact, I am." Ah, welcome back, Byers. It's
good to have you home again.
It's been a very, very good day.
End part 7
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