Author: Sue (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rating: M-14 (for mature audiences)
Category: Gunfic (Story)
Spoilers: Those you recognize.
Timeline: Events happening not too long after 'Three
Of A Kind.'
Summary: The discovery of a deep-cover covert
operation doing the Government's dirty work
in plain sight under the guise of environmental
activism and charity projects... And many
other discoveries along the way.
Disclaimer: All X-Files characters and
references are property of C. Carter and Company,
Morgan & Wong, 10-13 Productions and FOX. The
British chick's mine.
Thrown Back - 3/18
"Thanks." Before he could tell her she'd
applied the bandage like an ER staffer, she
followed up its application by giving the
swollen member a little kiss. Overtones of
'making it all better,' were implied.
"What was that for?" His facial muscles
were twisting and turning. Women....a
surprise a minute, he thought, squirming.
"For a speedy mend," Margot knavely replied.
In the seconds which intervened, she sensed
that their jocular free-for-all had shifted to
something a little more personal. Deciding
it wiser to keep things 'just friendly,' she
said, "Does it have to be for something?"
His tongue tripped over his teeth, and Langly
wished he'd never said anything. "Nope."
Burying it in his larynx he mumbled, "Just
kind of nice." He went on reading the menu
as though nothing had happened, even though
both had sensed something had.
Margot scolded herself, watching him, before
picking up her own menu. "What are you
having?" she inquired, sounding tentative,
and more than a little disappointed with
"Oh? And what's that?" She noted the sudden
chilliness he'd applied to his tone. Very
effective, she judged.
Langly looked up, then nailed down the menu
with the only finger that wasn't throbbing
as much as the others; the pinkie of his left
hand, indicating his choice's bright photo.
"Steak an' eggs, with a short stack of
buttermilk pancakes on the side."
"That sounds delicious. Think I'll have that
He eyed her suspiciously. "It's a lotta food.
Sure you've got that big an appetite?"
"To be sure, when I'm ravenous, I'm insatiable."
"Oh, is that what you are?" Their eyes did the
locking thing again.
Margot blushed this time, and it was her turn
to lower her head. "Leastwise where food's
concerned," she hedged. When she raised her
ken again, Langly had this disconnected look
she wasn't about to interpret, deciding to let
ambiguity reign supreme for once.
When their mirthless waitress finally returned,
whose questions registered in the form of
grunts, he ordered for them both.
Margot had no problem with his ordering for
her, taking charge as he had. Liking men who
took charge, up to a point, was a fixation.
One that had earned her many a scar of the
emotional as well as the physical kind.
The observant hacker was about to hand the
waitress their menus when the same narrow-
faced man, whose hooked nose reminded Langly
of owls belonging to the Strigiformes family,
had his beady eyes trained on them again.
What's up with that, Langly thought, worriedly.
Once the waitress left, he muttered with a
frown, "Ever since that weird dude back there's
come in, he's been showin' more interest in
us than I'm comfortable with. Don't call me
paranoid, 'cause I know what I'm feelin'."
"One can never be too paranoid," Margot
whispered. Langly stared at her, not quite
believing he'd heard right. "What man?"
Margot followed up, making initial turning
around movements. Her nerves set on edge.
"Don't turn around!"
"Okay," she hissed back, "but how will I know
who you mean?"
Langly scratched his forehead which was itching
like crazy. "He's a big guy, mean lookin', and
he's got black hair cut like a Marine's. A
wicked square jaw, and a mole on his right
Margot went paler, and she stopped blinking.
"It's him, right?"
She nodded with a mannequin's animation. "Ye-
yeah." She could barely talk now. "Wh-what
are we going to do?"
"He's five booths from us." Margot began
shaking like leaves in a stiff breeze, appearing
as though she were a small trapped creature
holed up in a cage, gasping for breath she was
beginning not to have.
A concerned woman from the booth behind asked,
"Is she all right?"
"She's been better," Langly replied like he held
a grudge. He hazarded another wary glimpse of
The intimidator, a monochromatic study in dark
navy, rose from his booth, with predatory eyes
that looked as though they were ticking off the
exact distance between himself and them. The
inconsequential gap could be erased any moment
And then what? Mass murder and manic mayhem
amidst the flapjacks?
Langly flipped Max the bird with the bandaged
finger, underneath the table, and considered
he wasn't even going to get a last meal. He
banged his eyes shut and his breathing became
more shallow, and he thought he could hear
Frohike's sarcastic, 'If you hadn't been
thinking with the bottomless pit you call your
stomach, Blond Boy, you wouldn't be in the shit
you're in now...'
"I'll think of somethin'," Langly muttered.
"It's go-gonna be cool." He racked his brain.
What the hell would Mulder do in a situation like
this? He thought, weighing options.
....Well, for one thing, he'd probably create
a diversion, Einstein....
Hey....that's an idea.
So would he.
"Can you make like you're sick, Marg?" he
asked, as though he were pleading. She nodded
like her head was a cinder block. "Okay, when
I say when, start groanin' like you're dyin'.
Make it good." She nodded again, vowing she'd
give it her all. He reached across the table
and squeezed her arm. "Here we go. Ready, set,
The buzzy hubbub wafting through the eatery
beehive was shattered by her shrieking in what
sounded like authentic agony. All activity and
conversation came to a standstill.
"QUICK!! Somebody call nine-one-one!" Langly
clamored, startling the clientele another notch.
"She's pregnant. Something's wrong! She could
be havin' a miscarriage! Anybody--call fast!
We left our cell phone at home."
Margot clutched her stomach, moaning and
groaning as though she had gone into labor
right then and there. With her head on the
table, she writhed in distress. Langly rubbed,
then palmed the back of her head. Their
waitress rushed to the table, telling them that
Freida, the cashier, had just placed the call.
"Thanks," Langly shot back, stressed-out for
"She doesn't look preggers," the waitress
observed, with a rueful look in her eyes.
"She carries compact our OB/GYN told us, and
she's just a couple a months," Langly speedily
conjured up. "What hospital's closest in this
Most of the people on their side of the
restaurant were milling around their table.
"Vencor," a hoarse-sounding young man called
"Take it easy, kid," the waitress lulled to
Margot. "Your first?" she shucked at Langly.
He grinned like the expectant father he
wasn't. "Our first, second and third; she's
carryin' triplets. Yo, when I score, I score
The waitress glared at him, galled. Men--she
condemned. Her husband had done her no favors,
leaving her high and dry to run off with his
secretary, younger than she by five years.
Leaving her two boys to raise alone. He
wasn't even wild about having to pay child
The two well-meaning truckers at the adjoining
booth in front of them offered to drive a
'delirious' Margot to the hospital, full Mac
The EMTs arrived, just when a patron was in
the act of skipping out without paying. The
medical team was at the center of the tight
crowd around their booth, a hive of commotion,
In the midst of the melee, and after he was
told to step back, Langly looked to where Max
had been spying on them. He no longer was.
Her ex was nowhere to be seen in the disrupted
IHOP. An icy shiver snaked down Langly's
Once the EMTs had their patient outside in the
remarkably humidity-free, balmy air of late
August, the female caregiver told Langly to get
into the modular ambulance, once they had
finished hoisting Margot into it.
Its impatient driver was revving its motor.
His shrewd eyes monitored the rushed situation
in the side view mirrors.
"Our van's parked right here. I'll follow ya,"
Langly spoke up crisply.
"Think you can keep up, pal?" the male EMT
asked as though posing a challenge, while he
readied to shut the transport's weighty doors.
"Watch me," Langly fired back, hefting Margot's
backpack, and then he streaked for the vintage
van. He'd be human glue. The keys were in
his hand, then turning over the van's sluggish
engine. All the while Langly kept his eyes
peeled for Margot's fear-inspiring ex. He
gunned the engine several anxious times.
Where had Max disappeared to? Not that finding
out was uppermost in Langly's state of panick.
Darting eyes spotted no trace of him no matter
where Langly looked.
When all systems were go, the ambulance convulsed
into explosive movement. It hadn't really gotten
going before its heavy doors suddenly burst open
with resounding double bangs.
Margot hopped out, as though jet propelled,
landing on all fours. The EMT closest to the
door launched herself after the bolter.
Sprinting away from the vehicle, Margot spilled
up to the passenger side. She pounded her
fist on the window. No, she hadn't taken leave
of her senses, if that's what Langly thought.
He didn't know what to think.
"Hurry--quickly! We've got to get out of here!"
Margot smacked the window again with her palm.
Langly opened up on command. Seated beside
him, she slammed the door in the female EMT's
bewildered face. Margot pantomimed that she was
sorry, but had no time to explain her 'deranged'
actions. "Max's the driver!" she railed at
"Shit!" He tore off, not giving anything else
Struggling, Margot said, "He means to have me."
"The hell he's gonna get ya," Langly spat, and
concentrated, giving the van the gun.
"He's gaining," Margot shouted over the
deafening advent of the siren.
"Tell me about it," Langly said brittlely,
his line of vision bouncing off the rearview
and back to the road ahead. "Fuck this!"
exploded from his lips. He rammed the pedal
to the metal and they were doing eighty; almost.
"Layla's old; can't go much faster than this
without blowin' most of her shot gaskets.
Shoulda replaced 'em when Fro' squawked for me
to a month ago." Langly plowed through
another red light and thanked the traffic powers
that be for the light vehicular flow.
He thought that after after all these years
he'd listen to the little know-it-all, once and
awhile. After all, Frohike had been one of the
busiest SIGINT techs military intelligence put
to much use for the Khe Sanh skirmishes; a prelude
to the Tet-Offensive. Melvin, Super-Snoop in a
flak jacket, watchin' the napalm waft by in his
gas mask, early in the morning....
The ambulance careened ahead of them at the
next intersection, swerved into the tightest
arc Langly had ever seen anything ever make,
to slam to a complete stop, barring their way.
Dumbfounded, the hacker's heart leapt, as it
sluiced into his throat. He had two options,
he analyzed, watching Max fling them an
"Prick!" It looked as though they were about
to pile into the ambulance.
"We're going to CRAS--"
"NO WE AIN'T," Langly yelled at her, in the
throes of giving the steering wheel a sharp,
maniacal turn to the right. The van banked
steeply on two wheels, but resisted the
gravitational pull to roll over.
Once clear of the ambulance, the VW bus
streaked off, rounding the adjacent corner,
sideswiping, then knocking over a newspaper
dispenser. Determinedly, Langly cut through
a huge parking lot of a McDonald's, several
hundred feet from another imposing Wal-Mart,
not daring to look into the rearview for fear
the jinx would be in, and he'd see the ambulance
He decided to chance it. No ambulance on the
scopes, he rejoiced, but didn't dare ease up
on the speed until they sped down more
well-traveled Arlington routes closer into the
hub instead of hinter-byways.
"I think you lost him."
"Hope so," Langly said, looking over at her
long enough to see how badly shaken she was.
"I don't hear the siren now. You okay?"
"Yes, now." Margot stared at her blanched
hands that were still trembling. Once her
sigh had faded into thin air, she said, "The
hapless ambulance driver, though. Max most
likely killed him." Just the way the Foundation
wants him, she thought, distraught, more machine
Memories of London, where they'd met in the
spring two years ago, an uncommonly warm
spring, as she recalled, enveloped her mind.
It had been at a seminar the CR Society had
wanted her to attend, all expenses paid.
Max had been the sole bodyguard for the Phoenix
Foundation's President. A man known only by
the name of 'Pete,' no last name, who had
disappeared under bizarre circumstances over
a year ago.
The story went that while vacationing in Oregon,
he'd vanished while hiking in the woods in the
vicinity of Klamath Falls. A body had never
been recovered. The sole personal effects that
had been unearthed had been his muddy boots,
which had looked as though they'd been gnawed
"Max excels at killing."
"If that's supposed to make me feel better,
forget it." Langly scowled with a perversity
he wanted her to see.
"We can't go back to your facility."
"We shouldn't go back."
"Why the hell not?"
"It's not safe." Margot lowered her head,
staring at her hands again which weren't
shaking as violently as before, but were far
from resting comfortably. "No-not anymore
it isn't, if I go back there."
"'Cos he's found ya, right?"
Langly finally slowed to stop for a red light.
They were in a bleaker section of the outskirts,
where the streets needed a good scrub-down. He
turned his head, waiting for her to go on, at
least she had better.
Margot looked out her window before she'd
let him see tears streak her cheeks. "His...
implants...give him vast abilities..."
Langly's mouth fell open, and he balked at her
with sharp, cold eyes. "Implants," he croaked,
"which gives him the ability to scope you out
no matter where you go, no problem?"
He *is* astute, Margot thought yet again. "I-I
was afraid. If I told you, you and your
colleagues outright. You would have rightly
judge me to be insane. I shouldn't have kept
it from you. Better still, I shouldn't have
come to you in the first place, despite
"Insanity isn't cracked up to what it used
to be these days."
Margot snapped her head around to gape at him,
hearing her internal brakes screech. There
wasn't a hint of levity in her voice. "I don't
know the brand of insanity you're used to,
but if I tell you that Max is a humanidcyborg,
a killing machine, bent on killing me, will
you make me get out of this van?"
"Darth Vader lives," Langly mumbled. "A, a?
huma--what?" The light had turned green
twice since, but he stayed put. "What, he's,
he's...he's like the Terminator? Arnold
Schwarzenegger's evil twin?"
She drew a blank; his reference plainly
unfamiliar. "He's a very sophisticated entity,
developed by painstaking design. He's a
biologically-engineered superior anything they
can tailor him to be. Whether it's-- a soldier,
paratrooper, guerrilla fighter." She paused for
a margin, then arched, "Storm Trooper." Langly
snapped his fingers and pointed at her. "Well,
I did see some of those *Lucas* films." It
seemed as though it had been ages since she'd
smiled. He liked it when she smiled. With a
bit more purpose, she continued, "Bodyguard,
dictator, president, cop on the beat. It's
Esther who's the veritable wellspring of
information. I'm merely a foolish, secondhand
source who just happened to have had the
misfortune of being a patsy."
"Like Robocop. Only your ex looks a lot more
"Robocop? Can't say I know--"
"An animated T.V. series featuring this mortally
wounded cop that his police force salvaged. It
was a movie first. They turned him into this
super robot cop who fights futuristic urban
crime." Langly, not looking nor sounding the
least apologetic, said, "A kids' show. They
pulled it off the air a year ago. Like so not
fair. I could program up a storm while I
"Max's internationally-diverse creators and
programmers have perfected his unique
"It's *always* the way. It's all in the
programming. So, what's the deal? Why does
he want to kill you?"
Langly posed another fair question. "What do
you know that we haven't snooped into?"
"I'm, I'm sorry. I should have told you
"They're gonna unleash newer, improved viruses
to wipe-out the bulk of us slugs off the face
of the earth, and your ex's the prototype of
who inherits the planet? Byers found something
that suggests that, out last week. He was
snoopin' into some not such a snap-to-crack
DOD d-bases. Wait a sec--it must've been
Esther helping him pull it off, not that he
needs help, but he was surprised how easy it
got after so many tries."
"I don't have to tell you you're on the right
track, then." Margot brought her backpack up
from the floorboard, and braced it against
her chest protectively.
"Our ever-lovin' Fibbies are at large, runnin'
a secret investigation on the latest batch of
some suspicious viral microbes on the QT side
of its being an official investigation out in
"I feel like such a fool."
Langly shook his head and looked at her as
though she didn't know what she was talking
about. "You knew when it was time to split."
"Did I? He was going to kill me."
"The man-machine made a fatal mistake."
"And what mistake was that?"
"Virtually, he's indestructible." She gave
a short, sardonic laugh. "I know differently,
and they found it out too. I gave him the
one thing his co-creators, with their..."
She hesitated for a moment. "Don't judge me
ready to be fitted for a straitjacket, because
I know how this will sound...extraterrestrial
technology." Langly didn't bat an eye, she
wondered why, but went on. "...Never did, never
thought for one moment that he needed, let
alone expressing, and being influenced by at
"Tell me already," Langly pressed in typical
smart-ass fashion; the suspense was killing
"Max fell in love with me." Her sigh was
cleansing. "His big mistake. If he's capable
of killing me, their great success happens."
"And I pretty much thought I knew the worst
things that suck." He eyed her carefully,
taking his time about how he was going to
phrase this. "You still love him?" He was
willing to bet that Byers didn't know about
"I-I'm not sure." She turned her head away
quickly, but he heard her sniffles distinctly.
She was surprised when she felt his light
touch to her left forearm.
Langly brushed his long hair out of his
sensitive eyes. "It wouldn't be a sick thing
if you still were, ya know. There are sicker
things. When did you find out he was only
half the man you thought he was?"
She dropped her head into her hands. "Not
too long ago. Esther told me. He'd gone
away for about a week, and during that time,
she exposed him for what he really is."
From the depths of her lap she said softly,
"She told me they'd summoned him for
re-conditioning, to get me out of his system.
Ri-Ringo, I'm so confused."
"Yeah, I bet." He was about to say more, but
yawned again. He needed sleep; if not the
deep REM variety, then at least a light nap
to tide him over. "Maybe you're safe for the
moment. We've been parked here for a while
now, and haven't seen him. Tell ya what.
Let's sleep on this. I'm so tired, I can't
see straight. Too many long hours of deep
research wastes me."
She raised her head a fraction, and began
straightening up, feeling depleted too.
"Sounds like a good idea, but as I said, it
wouldn't be the wisest thing going back to
"No, we can't go back there."
"So, where, then?" She coughed some, hoping
she wasn't about to have an asthma attack.
In the confusion of evading Max, she'd left her
inhaler behind. Her coughing intensified.
"I'm-I'm a-an asthmatic."
Alarmed, Langly, contemplating her frowzy,
tear-dappled face, asked, "Don't you have one
of those things?"
"Yes, but no. Not with me. My inhaler's in my
apartment back in New York. There wasn't time."
"There's a twenty-four/seven medical supply not
too far from here. We can pick one up if we
can." He was glad that her attack was a short
one. "You've got the prescription at least?"
She nodded, any signs of comfort in her face,
absent. "An-an after that, wh-where to?" she
asked, wrestling with trying to regain her
composure. "No-nowhere I g-go is safe..."
....Now she tells me.... He chided himself
for thinking like that, but it was true. She
hadn't told them *everything*. He couldn't
help wondering if there was more she hadn't
"We'll get your breathing thing, drive around
some more. Throw him off your 'scent' maybe.
I don't know."
"I'm so sorry..." She opened the door,
preparing to get out.
"What are you doin'?"
"I can't justify endangering anyone else."
Then more to herself she muttered, Not
"Get back in," Langly said roughly. His hand
weighted her shoulder.
"No but's, just do it. Get back in."
Nodding, Margot obeyed, but she still looked
distressed, which did a cruel number on her
face. "You owe me nothing."
Langly shrugged, knowing that in spades. "Look,
Maxie isn't the only thing to worry about in
this neck of the woods. This is drug turf."
The block they had just passed was the grisly
scene of a shoot-out between warring factions
in last week's Washington Post. "We owe our
readers the truth about everything connected
with Phoenix. Me and the guys have put it on
the line for the bulk of our bylines."
Letting that sink in, she said, "So, we drive
"Get some rest till morning."
"It is morning," she said, yawning.
"Until it gets light."
Now, the only question was where? Sleeping
in the van was never a good idea with him.
Especially ever since the Gunmen had slept in
the van that cold night in George Washington
National Forest, investigating reports they'd
pulled off the newsgroups of 'intermittent
bursts of lights from the sky.' Sacroiliitis
had been his reward for his trouble, enough
said. His stern look didn't last long though,
feeling himself relent. "Then, then..."
"I'll think of somewhere..." He gave 'the beast'
some gas, and they sped away from the area of
Margot nodded, looking up into the moon-dominated,
cloudless heavens, as though searching for a
sign, thinking about the surreal phenomenon she'd
witnessed nearly twenty miles west of Fort Peck
Lake, Montana, earlier the past month. She
inspected the starless sky warily, thinking sadly
that the vast expense was no longer a comfort to
gaze up at as it once had been.
End Part 3