Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to CC and 10-13. Half of the other characters belong to 20th Century Fox and the other half belong to me since I changed them around a bit. No infringement intended. Honest. Would I lie to you?
Authorís Note: This is my first and most likely only crossover. I took the X-Files team and stuck them in another movie, changed the dialogue and the names of characters. I hope itís different enough that you enjoy it sufficiently. Iíll leave you to guess which movie until the end. If you think that it was worth the time and you got a few laugh, e-mail me. If you thought, well, that was a rip off of the story, you can still mail me. XScout@hotmail.com
A Normal Holiday
Dulles International Airport
December 24, 1998
An airport on Christmas Eve is a sight to behold. Thousands of people swarming in the streets, laden with luggage and brightly wrapped packages. Cars are backed up for miles, the blaring of horns and the unintelligible shouts of people in a hurry the only sounds. And at this moment one of the dozens of cars parked in front of the airport was being loaded onto a tow truck's flatbed.
"Hey! Hold on! Wait, I'm here!" The tall man wrapped in a trench coat jogged over to the police officer who was standing next to the car.
"Too bad buddy. You can pick it up at the impound. Next time read the sign." The overweight cop jabbed a finger at the 'No Parking' sign.
The owner of the car shook his gloved hands emphatically, "I just stopped for a minute. I'm only here to meet a plane. You don't understand, I *need* that car."
Geez, I hate it when they beg, the rotund cop thought to himself. He gave the tall man a once over. Nice shoes, clean haircut, warm coat, and is that...why yes, that's a suit under there. Yeah, like this guy can't afford a little fine. He sneered, "And I need a million bucks but I'm not holding my breath."
"But it's not my car, it's my partner's mother's. Hey, I'm an FBI agent, how about we forget it just this once?" Fox Mulder was starting to get really annoyed with the short red faced cop.
The officer grinned haughtily. That explains the suit. "Yeah? I worked with the FBI once...hated it."
"I don't care for it much either but-" He was interrupted by a screech from the direction of the front of the car. "Hey! This isn't a cheap car, be careful up there!" He sighed in exasperation and turned back to the cop, noting his name badge. "Listen, Officer Scarpelli, give me a break. C'mon, it's Christmas."
"So why don't you ask Santa for a new car. Merry Christmas buddy." Scarpelli handed the ticket to Mulder and strode away to torment some other unsuspecting soul.
"Yeah Merry Christmas to you too asshole." Mulder mumbled under his breath. This was not what he needed. He and Scully had just finished a big case in Oakland and he had come back a day earlier to write the reports while she finished up the autopsies. Since his car was in the shop Margaret Scully let him borrow hers. He still couldn't call her 'Mom', even though she insisted. Ever since he and Scully had become romantically involved Margaret treated him like one of the family. Well just wait 'til she hears about this, then we'll see how she treats me.
His thoughts were interrupted by the chirping of his cell phone. He pulled it out of his coat pocket and pushed a button. "Mulder."
"Hey, it's me."
"Hold on, Scully, I can't hear you." He walked quickly into the airport lobby area and shook the few unmelted flakes of snow off of him. "Okay, that's better. I should have come in full riot gear, this place is a zoo. Did you land yet?"
"Aren't you eager?" she chided.
"What can I say, I'm an addict to your wonderful personality."
She laughed. "I'm looking forward to the rehab sessions. Listen, it looks like we won't be landing for another half hour, I just wanted to let you know. Did mom give you a hard time about borrowing her car for an extra day?"
"No...not yet. You know, I was thinking-"
"Oh no! Stop the press!" she mocked playfully.
"Ha ha." he muttered. "As I was saying, I was thinking that we should just forget the paperwork. It's Christmas Eve, I'm sure Skinner won't mind. We can just hole up at your place with a bottle of champagne, candlelight, soft music..." he trailed off enticingly.
Scully chuckled into her phone. "Sure G-man."
"Then I'll see you in about half an hour. Love ya."
Guardian Angels Church
Hank Wells loved Christmas Eve. People came from miles around to fill the old wooden pews and softly sing hymns in the candlelight. Father Price would preach about faith and love and everyone would hold hands. It was a beautiful ritual that had been going on for the past forty-five years - except this year.
No, this year the church was closed and was scheduled to be torn down next week. So this year Hank just curled up on the velvet cushioned chair usually reserved for Father Price and watched the television.
'Encante airport, in the republic of Valverde, was swarming with soldiers today as deposed General Carlos Chavez was being loaded onto a heavily guarded plane that will bring him to the United States for extradition. Tensions run high as ranking pentagon officials were accused of providing the General with weapons, the congressional ban notwithstanding. Evidence that Chavez's forces violated the neutrality of neighboring countries is mounting, causing Congress to withhold funds which Chavez is charged with replacing by going into the heroin smuggling business. Despite rumors that-'
The drone of the reporter on the television was cut off by the hollow knocking of someone at the church door. "Who could that be?" Hank stood up slowly and shuffled to the large oak doors. He opened one with a bit of effort and peered outside to see two men dressed in orange uniforms. "Can I help you with something?"
"Pardon us, Sir, but we're doing a routine check of all conduit lines in the area. Have you noticed any problems with the one in your backyard?"
Hank scratched his head in confusion. "I don't know, I mean, what's a conduit line?"
One of the men stepped closer. "How about if we take a look, make sure it's all working properly?"
"Sure, better safe than sorry I always say." Hank let the two technicians in and led them to the front of the church, starting a conversation on the way. "Not like it will matter in a week, since they're tearing this old place down. I've been here since it was built in 1954 and watching it be destroyed is like getting a bullet in me."
Hank turned around and only had a second to regret his trusting nature before the bullet pierced his skull.
The shooter yanked a small handheld radio from his belt and spoke into it as his companion dragged the body off to one side. "This is Charlie Brown, the doghouse is empty."
"Excellent. Rendezvous at fifteen-fifteen hours." The man switched off the radio and stuffed it back in his vest with the other equipment. He checked himself in the hotel mirror. His thin chestnut hair was slicked back in a wave, his taut face scrubbed clean, and his square jaw was smooth shaven. His dark clothing was impeccable as usual. He would be considered handsome by most but the cold blue steel in his eyes betrayed his kind looks.
Colonel Stratton stretched his well muscled body one last time and picked up the red and green wrapped package at his feet. He stepped out of his room and headed towards the elevator. He was joined by at least a dozen other men, all carrying similarly wrapped parcels, and they entered the elevator in silence.
Dulles International Airport
A blonde woman in a smart business suit and holding a microphone stared into the camera and began her commentary.
"Here at Dulles, the Justice Department awaits the arrival of General Chavez, the man who has come to epitomize the corruption of authority. America's war against drugs still rages on, but at least one battle is won. Anna Cole, WNDW News."
She motioned to the cameraman to stop filming and searched the busy airport for some sort of newsworthy subject to fill air time, oblivious to the huge story sitting in the small cafe area behind her.
A burly man with close cropped hair and a perfectly trimmed mustache closed his cellular phone and set it on the table in front of his two associates. "That was the Colonel, everything is set. What's the weather report O'Neil?"
The man on the left held his hand to his ear, pressing the tiny radio into his ear canal to get a clearer transmission. "Small storms all along the coast, leading up to a big one heading from the north."
Andrews laughed, picking up his discarded phone, amused at their good fortune. "Let's all thank the weatherman. All right, you have your assignments." He stretched his arm out in front of him to reveal a technologically advanced watch and waited as the other two did the same. The man on the right, a black man who was all business, put his hand to his own identical watch and pressed a button.
"Fourteen fifty-one, mark." Andrews and O'Neil synchronized their watches with Benson's. O'Neil and Benson picked up their respective packages and wandered off to their destination, unaware that they were being watched by an FBI agent three tables away.
Mulder had seen O'Neil take the small radio from his ear and noted that it was the sort of equipment used for surveillance. Plus all three men were wearing similar nondescript clothing and appeared to be synchronizing their watches. Not normal behavior for...God, if Scully could hear me. I'm getting way too paranoid. After two of the suspicious characters left, the remaining man surreptitiously shoved his own identical present under the table as a security guard walked by. Something is definitely up. He glanced around the cafe and spotted two police officers leaning against the bar.
He got up and headed towards the two cops whose backs were turned to him. "'Scuse me officers, this may seem strange, but I think I just saw-" Mulder clamped his mouth shut as Officer Scarpelli swiveled around and gave him a greasy smile.
"Saw what?" Scarpelli sneered.
"Kris Kringle." Mulder turned and walked away, shaking his head in disgust and ignoring the snorting laughter behind him.
Anna Cole was getting desperate. She was supposed to be covering the Chavez story but boredom was beginning to eat away at her. She needed something to report, someone to interview perhaps. Then she spotted him. "Hey, isn't that Colonel Stratton?." She and her cameraman Dave jogged over to the renowned soldier who was talking to another man.
Andrews leaned closer to Stratton and whispered in his ear. "Security is as pathetic as we surmised."
Stratton repressed a grin. "Of course." He turned a corner and was almost run down by a blonde reporter.
"Colonel Stratton, could we have a word?" Anna shoved her microphone into Stratton's face.
He stopped short and glared at the woman. "You can have two. Kiss and off." Stratton stormed away, Andrews scurrying after him.
Anna just stood with her mouth open, shocked at such rudeness, until Dave put a hand on her shoulder. "Forget it, he's old news." he said by way of apology.
Mulder cautiously followed the two shady characters from the cafe, ducking in and out of the masses of people swarming about the airport. He got stuck behind a huge family gathering their bags just as the two men disappeared into the luggage room. He squeezed past the enormous grandmother and her eight suitcases with a muttered "Excuse me" and rushed to the entrance of the luggage room.
The door was locked.
Mulder scanned the area and found what he was looking for - a janitor. "Hey," he called to the young man mopping the floor, "Do you have the key to this door?"
The youth took off his oversized headphones and snapped his gum loudly. "Uh-huh, why?"
Mulder flashed his badge and was rewarded with a wide eyed look. "Because I want you to open it, that's why. Is there any kind of security around here?"
The kid nodded hesitantly as he unlocked the door. "Uh...airport police are somewhere about."
"Then go find them." With that, Mulder turned and entered the luggage room. A maze of mechanical ramps transporting baggage to their respective destinations and flashing orange lights made it hard to locate his prey, but Mulder stood quietly for a moment until he could hear voices.
A deep baritone chuckled maliciously, "Hand me the screwdriver."
Another replied, "Here, let's hurry it up."
"I am. Okay, hold that end."
"Watch it man, I need all my fingers you know."
"There, we got it."
All the while, Mulder was walking slowly towards the unaware men and took off his coat, pulling back his jacket so they would see that he was armed. He held up his badge and spoke in an authoritative voice, "This is a restricted area. What's the matter, couldn't trust the luggage handlers with your valuables?"
Benson and O'Neil whirled around at the sound of Mulder's voice and were momentarily afraid when they saw the big blue letters on his ID reading 'FBI'. Benson stepped forward with his hands palm up in front of him in a non-threatening manner. "We work here."
"Prove it." Mulder demanded.
"Sure, no need to get bent out of shape." Benson reached into his jacket and whipped out his gun, firing almost instantly.
Stupid. Mulder thought to himself as he dodged behind a ramp heading upwards. That was really stupid. He got out his Sig Sauer and aimed in the direction of the other men, firing blindly. There was a minute of silence and Mulder used that opportunity to climb onto the ramp, letting it carry him higher.
More shots followed and he fired back, jumping off the ramp onto a catwalk. Suddenly he was hit in the back with a large suitcase, knocking him off balance, causing him to drop his weapon. Mulder frantically searched for something with which to arm himself and a silver glint caught his eye. He pulled the nine iron from its holder and hefted it like a club. He stealthily snuck up behind Benson and let the golf club fly at the man's turned back.
Benson must have heard something because he turned sharply and was only struck a glancing blow. He lashed out with his foot and caught Mulder under the ribs, robbing him of breath. Benson used the chance to attack the FBI agent, leaping on him and punching him in the gut several times.
Mulder shoved Benson off and scrambled to his feet, holding his sore stomach. He pulled back his fist and sent it forward but it was met by an iron grip when Benson grabbed it and pushed Mulder violently against a metal wall with a loud *clang*. Mulder kicked low and knocked the other man off his feet.
Benson scurried backwards while Mulder tried to shake away the stars he was seeing. The black man grabbed the largest suitcase he could find and heaved it at Mulder, sending clothes flying. Mulder ducked in time and managed to find a can of aerosol hairspray in the mess of spilled contents. He sprayed Benson in the eyes and was about to take down the man who was now bent over rubbing his eyes when gunfire resounded and the can in Mulder's hand exploded.
Mulder dropped the fiery can, a familiar fear curling his stomach, and escaped behind another moving ramp, climbing up onto a higher catwalk. An abrupt light over to the side caught him off guard and he didn't see O'Neil point his gun at him. By the time Mulder turned his head back it was too late. The bullet sliced into his upper left arm, throwing him against the wall.
Searing pain raced down his arm and across his chest but a quick glance told him that it just grazed him, miraculously missing the bone. It would hurt like Hell but it wouldn't kill him. He struggled to his feet and crept to the edge of the catwalk. Peering down he saw O'Neil directly below him. Now or never. He slid over the edge and fell right on top of his target. They both fell over onto yet another ramp and wrestled briefly.
Off to the side, originating from the same place as the unexpected light, the young janitor was gesturing wildly to two uniformed men, telling them about the FBI agent who demanded entry.
Benson saw the three men and decided to make a clean getaway. Good luck O'Neil he shook his head and ran for the exit.
Mulder looked up from his position on top of O'Neil and saw that the motorized ramp was bringing them right into the luggage compressor. He punched O'Neil in the face with all his might and jumped off the ramp. He landed with a dull thud and squinted his eyes as the wet crunching of bones echoed throughout the room.
Out of the corner of his eye Mulder saw Benson headed for the exit. He strove to get up, ignoring the pain in his stomach and arm and chased after the fleeing man. His long legs caught up to Benson easily and Mulder tackled him, sending them both into carefully stacked luggage. A mountain of suitcases buried them and by the time Mulder uncovered himself, Benson was gone. "Damn it," he grumbled and was about to get up when a gun was shoved in his face.
"Freeze!" the officer shouted.
Mulder did as he was told, holding his hands out in a surrender. "Sorry guys, wrong man. The guy you want went that way." He waved in the direction Benson disappeared. "I'm an FBI agent."
"Where's your badge?" the stubborn cop asked skeptically.
Mulder reached into his jacket and came up empty handed. Shit, must of lost it somewhere in the middle of getting my ass kicked. He looked up forlornly at the officer, "On its way to Florida?"
The coroner zipped up the body bag, shaking his head at the remains of the dead man's skull. "Glad I'm not doin' the autopsy." he grumbled as he stepped aside, allowing an officer to pass.
The cop stepped over to the tall man who was holding a bloody towel to his left upper arm and arguing with another officer. His arrival silenced them both. He reached in his pocket and held out two items to the wounded man. "Sorry, Agent Mulder, I had to make sure, you understand."
Mulder took the gun and leather wallet from the cop and winced as he stretched his arm.
"You should have someone look at that." The officer said concernedly.
"No. I've been shot enough times to know whether or not I need a doctor." Mulder shrugged his indifference. Though I know one doctor who wouldn't agree. It was then that he noticed all the people milling about the area, including a news crew. "What the Hell is going on?? This is a crime scene, you've got to get these people out of here!"
The cop shook his head. "That's up to the Captain."
"The Captain?" Mulder took his arm and led him out of the crowd. "I think I'd like a little chat with the Captain."
Guardian Angels Church
Lieutenant McBride stood up and wiped the sweat off his brow, leaning against the large shovel he had been using a moment before. He glanced around as he rubbed sore back muscles and saw a dark figure walking towards him. He jabbed his fellow shoveler. "Hey, Eustace, Benson's back."
Lt. Eustace looked up from his manual labor to grin at the man coming up the walkway. "Hey Benson, you're gonna be in deep shit. You're late." Then he noticed that Benson was alone. "Where's O'Neil?"
Benson took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. "He didn't make it."
"Oh man." Eustace clapped Benson's back in a show of sympathy. The black man straightened his shoulders and entered the church.
Pews had been shoved aside and the altar rearranged to create a command center. Colonel Stratton was hunched over charts spread across a large lighted table, taking careful measurements. Benson walked resolutely up to him and saluted.
Without looking up, Stratton growled, "You're late."
Benson put his trembling hands behind his back. "We had a bit of trouble, Sir. Some FBI agent killed O'Neil and almost had me."
The Colonel looked up from his notes, mouthing the letters 'FBI', and glared at his subordinate. "Did you accomplish your mission?"
"Yes Sir, but O'Neil, Sir..."
"Then the damage is negligible. The penalty however, is not." Stratton reached into his coat and swiftly pulled out his gun, bringing it to rest against Benson's forehead. He waited until he could see fear in the man's eyes before pulling the trigger.
"Another screw up like that and the chamber won't be empty. Dismissed." The Colonel turned beck to his charts. Benson staggered away in shocked relief.
Dulles International Airport
The cop with FBI agent in tow knocked on the window of the door in front of him.
"What do you want?" answered a rough voice from within. Not even waiting for a reply, the voice continued, "Come in."
The officer opened the door and held it, allowing Mulder to enter. Mulder stepped into the cramped office, coming face to face with a pitbull. At least that was what he reminded the FBI agent of. He was short but compact, thinning hair and greasy clothes clung to the wide limbs. He could have stood to lose a few pounds but from the looks of the half eaten food scattered around the office, there was little chance of that.
The Captain swiped the flakes of glazed donut from his mustache. "Yeah?"
Mulder proffered his badge. "Agent Mulder with the Fed-"
"Yeah, yeah, I know who you are. You're the guy who just made a mess of my airport, running around with a gun like a maniac. What do you call that stunt?" Loaiza leaned back in his chair, his demeanor haughty.
"Anti-terrorism." Mulder quipped.
Loaiza rocked forward to glare at the taller man. "You think that FBI badge gives you any authority around here?"
"No. I just thought I might be deserving of some professional courtesy."
"Not during the silly season, I just don't have the time." The balding Captain stood up and walked around his desk to stand in front of Mulder, his stale breath wafting up to fill the air between them.
"Your crime scene is swarming with tourists and you want to wrap this up in ten minutes? It's not going to happen." Mulder paused to regain control of his temper. "You've got to tape the area off, call forensics to take pictures and dust for prints."
Loaiza jabbed a thick stubby finger into Mulder's chest. "Don't you lecture me hot shot, I know my job. We're gonna get forensics down here after-"
"After what?" Mulder asked incredulously. "After four or five hundred more people traipse through there? You would be lucky to lift your own prints. You've got to seal it off right *now*."
"Now huh! You think it's that easy to shut down one of the main areas of the airport on one of the busiest nights of the year? I've got everyone from political prisoners to little kiddies waiting for Santa coming here. But, Agent Mulder, he's got a problem. Hell, let's just shut down the whole fuckin' airport." His face was starting to purple over from rage. "They aren't gonna like it at all, and it's my ass on the line." His hands waved towards the ceiling, indicating that the 'they' he was referring to were the airport managers.
"Why don't you quit worrying about your ass and start worrying about the safety of everyone in this airport. Call upstairs and see what *they* say." Mulder said coldly.
"I don't need to bother them with something as trivial as luggage thieves."
"Luggage thieves?" Mulder scoffed. "One of them pulled a Glock Seven on me. You know what that is? It's a porcelain gun, doesn't show up on your metal detectors and costs in the five figure range."
"Hey, hey, hey, Mulder, don't start takin' your own press to heart. Yeah, I know about you and your partner and that serial killer case you just solved. Just because reporters think you're a hero doesn't mean you are. This is my airport and what I say goes. So you stop a baggage crook, I'll send your Director a fucking commendation. But right now I want you out of my office before I have you thrown out of *my* damn airport." Loaiza shouted for the officer who had escorted Mulder to his office.
Mulder turned to leave but before he stepped out he threw a disgusted look over his shoulder and spat, "Hey, Loaiza, if you had a brain half the size of your stomach, you'd know I'm right." With that he strode out into the hallway, leaving the Captain sputtering in his wake.
God damn arrogant bastard. Can't even see what's right under his nose. I should- Mulder stopped mid-thought as a gurney laden with a black body bag rolled past him. I just got an idea.
He jogged over to the car rental desk and gave the clerk his best smile. He reached over the counter and grabbed a stamp pad and a sheet of paper. "Can I borrow these?" Without waiting, he grinned at the clerk again and quickly chased after the coroners.
"Hey guys, wait a second!" He waved at them to stop.
"What do you want?" Asked the man at the head of the gurney.
"Need to get his prints before you ship him off." Mulder pressed the dead man's fingers onto the stamp pad and then to the paper.
The coroner scowled at him. "They do that at the morgue."
Mulder spoke in his best authoritative FBI voice. "Yeah they may do that in the police department, but at the Bureau we don't take any chances." Before they could protest he was already on his way back to the rental desk.
Aboard the 'Senorita Rojo'
Over Gulf of Mexico
The pilot tapped his partner on the shoulder and nodded out the cockpit window. "Escort is pulling away."
The navigator watched the three fighter jets veer off of their similar course to return to their country of origin. "It's okay, smooth sailing from here on in. What's our ETA?"
The pilot glanced at his instruments. "Two hours."
In the back of the cargo plane sat two men, one sitting at attention with a rifle resting in his lap, the other shackled by hand and foot to the floor.
The restrained man was in his late forties, thick beard and tanned skin added to the healthy appearance of his muscular body. He leaned down and rubbed at the cuffs around his ankles then straightened up and stared at the other man.
"What do you say you let me out of these for a few minutes? I promise not to run." He laughed as he indicated the futility of escaping from an airborne vehicle.
The young guard shook his head in denial. "Sorry, General Chavez, that's against my orders."
"You are a good soldier, you serve your country well." The youth inclined his head in acceptance of the compliment. The General pulled a fine Cuban cigar from his pocket. "Now, if it is not against orders, give me a light."
The soldier stepped forward and flipped open a lighter.
Dulles International Airport
After returning the borrowed supplies to the rental desk, Mulder then asked to use their fax machine. The clerk was hesitant at first but Mulder laid on the charm and she was quickly convinced.
He set the paper with the five black smudges on it into the machine and picked up the phone. He quickly dialed a number and waited until someone picked up after the fourth ring.
"Yeah Danny, if you can pry yourself away from the computer for a moment, I need a favor."
Danny chuckled into the receiver. "Hey Mulder, you working on Christmas Eve?"
Mulder gave an exaggerated sigh. "And you're not? Actually, I'm waiting for Scully's plane. Listen Danny, hold on for a fax okay?"
Mulder could hear Danny get up and rifle through piles of paper to get to the fax machine. "Here it comes right now." There was a pause as he looked at the message. "Fingerprints?"
"Need an ID on the recently deceased. I circled the whorls in pen in case the transmission is fuzzy. Listen, run it through the system and see what you get."
"Sure, give me ten minutes. What's this all about?"
Mulder grinned. "Oh, just a hunch."
"Ouch," Danny snickered. "When you get those kind of hunches, the guys in expenses start to get nervous."
"I thought they enjoyed the extra work. Fax number's at the top of the sheet I just sent you. Call me when you have the results."
Danny studied the number. "You playing nice with the local cops?"
Mulder laughed maliciously. "I'm afraid I never learned social skills in kindergarten." He pushed the 'end' button and dialed another number.
"It's me, are you still in the air?"
"Yeah, I asked the flight attendant what was going on but she just brushed me off. Probably weather problems."
Mulder looked down at his shoulder, the bandage covered by his shirt. "Yeah, weather." he mumbled. "Well, I hope that you're not going crazy up there without me."
"Mulder, it's only when I'm *with* you that I'm crazy. Folie a deux."
He chortled in appreciation. "Scully, if that's what it feels like to be crazy, put me in an institution."
Dulles International Control Tower.
Eugene Thames was not a happy man. Eleven years ago when he was put in charge of this airport he thought that he was on top of the world. But after over a decade of problems and emergencies he was starting to doubt his decision to climb the ladder.
He sighed frustratedly just as his assistant came up next to him. Malcolm Franks was a godsend. Not only was he an excellent assistant who knew as much as his boss did about the workings of an airport, he was also a good friend. Franks was a head shorter than Thames and younger by only six years. Their temperaments counterbalanced each other. The domineering Thames was a big man who ran the airport with rough efficiency and loud decisions. The dark skinned Franks smoothed ruffled feathers, oversaw machine foul-ups, and kept employee morale high with his quiet understanding and dry wit.
"Long day?" Franks asked sympathetically.
"Just when we get a break, the Almighty goes and brews up another storm." Thames motioned towards the monitor glowing next to them. "Look at this new front moving in. Makes the last one pale in comparison."
"El Nino at work again." That elicited a chuckle from his somber friend. "Sanding the runways and keeping the plows going is all I can offer."
Thames scratched his head, messing up the already tousled gray hair. "It'll do for now." He swiveled around and addressed the rest of the tower. "All right everyone, let's start calling our pilots, let 'em know what's headed our way."
Aboard Flight 619
From LAX to Dulles International
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Captain speaking. I've just been informed by Dulles traffic control that there's a weather front moving in ahead of us. We're going to be up here a little while longer."
Dana Scully sighed and stared forlornly out of the window. All she wanted was a long hot bath, a good night's rest, and a decent meal. She was glad that they had solved the Oakland case so quickly. It had rained almost non-stop while they were there, as if the weather reflected their mood. Most of her relief was due to the fact that Mulder hadn't gone 'Spooky' on her. Well, at least not much. He had written the eerily accurate profile and then puked his guts out right afterwards. That coupled with her autopsy findings gave the locals the information they needed to catch the killer. The ever-antagonistic cops actually thanked the two FBI agents.
And even though she had seen him a little over ten hours ago, she missed Mulder. They're partnership had grown stronger after they became involved and their solve rate even jumped up seven percent. It took the scare of almost being separated to shock them both into finally admitting their true feelings for each other and now that they had 'seen the light' so to speak, they took full advantage of it.
After the debacle in Antarctica they had spent an entire night talking. About their relationship, about their work, about their hopes and fears. From then on hardly an hour went by that they weren't together. She knew that eventually they would need a break from this constant closeness, but right now she was agonizing over their distance.
"Ah, young love."
Scully turned around to look questioningly at the elderly woman sitting beside her. "Excuse me?"
"You're thinking' about your beau. I can tell these kind of things honey. And you've got that look in your eyes." The old lady giggled impishly.
"What look?" Dana was curious.
"The twinkle of someone that has found true love. You're lucky young lady. Most people spend their entire lives searching for the one person who would complete them and never find 'em."
"Completes me," Scully mused. "That describes him perfectly. I've always searched for a way to define our relationship and I think that you've finally put it into words. He completes me."
The white haired woman smiled affectionately.
Dulles International Airport
"My, aren't we impatient?"
Mulder snorted into his cell phone. "Just tell me what you got."
"Printing out his dossier as we speak."
Mulder stepped over to the commandeered fax machine and started to rock back and forth on his heels impatiently. "So..."
"Thank you. I knew you had all the answers."
"No, no. According to the DOD he's been dead for two years."
Mulder stopped rocking. "What?"
"That's right. Sergeant Elijah O'Neil. An advisor in Cuba, killed in a car accident on three twelve ninety-six. Read between the lines and I'd say it looks like a lot of cloak and dagger stuff."
The machine beeped to signify its accomplished task and Mulder took the warm sheet from its tray. "Sounds like it's right up my alley. All right Danny, thanks a lot."
"Hey, anytime. You still owe me those Knicks tickets you know."
"Now I owe you courtside seats." Mulder hung up and headed towards the control tower.
Anna Cole was on a pay phone with her producer, trying to get him to allow her to interview one of the main investigators in the Chavez case. He was in the middle of telling her that the man refused to talk to the press until after the trial when Anna interrupted him. "Hold on, I think I see someone. I'm gonna have to call you back." She hastily put the phone back in its cradle and motioned for Dave to follow her.
She and her cameraman half walked, half jogged, over to the tall dark man in the trench coat. She stepped in front of him and extended her microphone to hover right beneath his nose. "The Oakland Strangler. Agent Mulder, right?"
Mulder narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Who are you?"
"Anna Cole, WNDW News."
Mulder rolled his eyes and tried to brush her aside. "Pardon me."
Anna refused to budge. "Hey, cut me some slack. I saw the body, my hunch is you had something to do with it.
"No. I only do serial killers." Mulder ducked under the camera and retreated from the news team.
Dulles Control Tower
Thames took the headset off and tossed it angrily onto the counter. "Just what we needed. National is iced over, we've got to start taking their planes.
"Most wonderful time of the year, my foot." Franks muttered, dodging past the loud mouthed head of security.
"The press was all over it." Loaiza whined. "They were here already, Ďcause of Chavez. Got the whole bloody mess on tape."
"Murder on TV." Thames rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to relieve the growing headache. "Happy holidays. So what do you figure it was? A gang thing like last week?"
"Not unless your gang members are trained in black ops."
All three men turned towards the direction from which the last comment had originated.
"What is this?" Thames demanded.
Loaiza started for the unexpected visitor. "Mulder, you're not authorized-"
Mulder ignored the ostentatious cop and directed his next statement to Thames. "I'm a federal agent."
Federal agent? What the Hell else can go wrong? Thames waved Loaiza away. "So, what's your problem Agent... Mulder, is it?"
"I'm sure Captain Loaiza has updated you on the trivial altercation with the luggage thieves." Mulder's tone dripped with sarcasm. "Try explaining this." He handed the fax message to Loaiza.
Thames stepped behind the Captain and read over his shoulder. They both raised their heads to stare at the FBI agent.
Guardian Angels Church
Eustace flipped off the blow torch, lifted the protective mask from his face, and grabbed the radio attached to his belt. "We've tapped in to all their systems, Colonel. All we need to do is shut off their control."
"Good work. Continue with your assignment." Stratton turned the dial on the console before him, toggled a switch and grinned triumphantly as the sounds of Dulles Control Tower filtered through the speaker.
Dulles Control Tower
Thames set the fax down and settled himself against a desk. "So, we have a guy in the freezer who appears to have died twice. Assuming it's not a clerical mix-up, what do we assume?"
"That something big is about to go down here."
"And what the Hell is that supposed to mean? I know you think we're idiots up here, Agent Mulder, so why don't you give it to us simple. I mean, are we talking about a hijacking, a drug deal, what??" Thames queried.
"I can't be sure, but I do know-"
"Oh he can't be sure," Loaiza sneered. "Well, I'm speechless."
"I wish." Mulder glared at the fat cop and did his best to ignore him. "Don't you see that these people are professionals?"
"Professional at what?"
"Are you blind??" Mulder snatched the fax from the table and shook it in Thames' face. "This is the resume of a professional mercenary. You've got a major drug dealer due anytime, do I need to draw you two a picture? Or will you need another body bag before you start paying attention?"
Loaiza laughed shortly. "You're the one you gave us that body bag, Mulder."
"Maybe you'll be in the next one I give." Mulder said icily.
"Are you threatening me??"
Thames intervened before things got out of hand. "Loaiza, call your shift commanders."
"What?" Loaiza squeaked. "You're not actually believing all this?"
Thames' next comment answered that question. "I want them to report anything out of the ordinary. Understand?"
"Oh God!" was shouted off to the side.
Thames strode hurriedly over to where Franks was standing, staring out the window.
"The runways," Franks said quietly, "They're going off."
As the four stunned men watched the lights on the runways flicker and die, other systems began to bleat and blink wildly.
"Switch to emergency lighting!" Thames ordered.
Franks grabbed the tower-wide intercom and spoke into it. "Emergency! We are on yellow alert!"
An operator swiveled around in his chair, his face draining of color. "Back up systems are not responding."
"Transfer to another terminal!"
The operator looked over to the man seated next to him. "Nick, what do you have?"
Nick was flipping switches and turning dials frantically. "Nothing, the whole network is down."
"What the Hell is going on?" Thames turned to the urgent tugging on his shoulder by Nick. "What?"
"The planes are calling in with questions, what do we tell them?"
Franks answered for his boss, "I've checked all the systems, we're dead in the water. Tell them to maintain position."
Guardian Angels Church
McBride handed the power saw up to Eustace and climbed out of the trench they had finished digging fifteen minutes ago. "All lines have been cut, we're in control now."
Eustace grinned. "And ahead of schedule at that. Let's go tell the Colonel."
Dulles Control Tower 3:58 p.m.
Franks laid a hand on Russ' shoulder, the operator who had announced the runway disaster. "What's it look like?"
"Approach is gone." Russ looked apologetically up at his superior.
Franks shifted over to Nick, asking with his eyes.
"Instrument Landing is negative." Nick informed him grimly.
Franks shook his head and returned to where Thames was standing with Loaiza and Mulder. "Every damn system is down and all the monitors are blank.
Thames closed his eyes briefly and then opened them. He walked resolutely over to the intercom system and pushed the button. "Attention all controllers. We have are on red alert. I repeat, red alert, this is not a drill. All aircraft outside our landing pattern gets diverted to their alternate airport. Everyone already on approach or inside our pattern, hold on the outer markers. Move!"
He turned to the others. "Okay, nobody breathes a word of this to anyone not in this room. There's more than sixteen hundred people in this airport and we don't need to cause a panic. We've got maybe a little over three hours before the sky starts falling. Mulder, did you expect this?"
"No, but this isn't all."
A red light began to flash next to the intercom and beeped annoyingly. Franks looked at it in confusion. "The FAA hotline? How can they know already?"
"They can't." Thames insisted.
"Maybe it's the guys who turned off your lights." Mulder offered.
"Put it on speaker." Thames directed.
*BEEP* "Attention Dulles Tower. Now that you're free from distractions, I'd say I've got your full attention.
"How did you get on this line? Who are you?" Thames demanded.
"Who I am is irrelevant." replied the disembodied voice. "What I want is what you should be concerned about. And if you don't want those planes diving into the Potomac as they exhaust their fuel supply, I suggest I get what I want soon. A plane will be landing at this airport in approximately ninety minutes. I am sure you are all aware of this flight's cargo?"
"Chavez." Mulder whispered.
"This plane will not be met by anyone. It will land on a runway of my designation where it will remain isolated and unapproached. That will conclude my interest in this aircraft and your responsibility for it. At the same time I want a 747 cargo conversion fully fueled and placed at my disposal. You have two more minutes to advise your inbound aircraft to hold at their outward radio marker. After that you will be able to receive only. Any attempt to restore your systems will be met by severe penalties." The voice paused.
"Damn it, we need more time, you can't-" Thames growled.
"I can and I will." *BEEP*
Silence filled the control tower for a second and then it erupted into chaos as operators rushed about on urgent errands.
Franks had to yell to be heard over the din. "Okay guys, listen up. I may have an idea, but it'll take some work."
"If Chavez gets on that plane and makes it to a country with no extradition treaty, we're finished." Mulder said defeatedly.
Loaiza shoved Mulder aside and stood in front of Thames. "If they can talk to us on our own line, they've got to be fairly close. I'll have my men search this place from top to bottom."
"Captain Loaiza to the rescue." Mulder mumbled.
"Hey Mulder, I got a SWAT team and all the men I need, we don't have room for any holier than thou FBI agents." Loaiza puffed up importantly.
Mulder leaned down into the captain's face. "My partner is on one of those planes you self-righteous little shit and that puts me on the playing field. If you had listened to me in the first place we wouldn't be in this mess now and you could still be sitting on your lazy ass eating donuts."
"That's it!" Loaiza sputtered. "Security! You just bought yourself a ticket out of here."
Off to the side Franks was conversing with Russ who was pushing ineffectively at buttons on his console. "We have to find a way to transmit."
"Oh yeah," Russ said sarcastically. "Let's send someone to Radio Shack and pick up a transmitter.
Franks shook his head. "We already have one. The new terminal wing they're building has its own antennae array." He glanced over to where Mulder was being herded over to the elevator, arguing the entire way. Ignoring the ruckus, he spoke a little louder. "All we have to do is patch into the array and we can get everything back on-line."
Just as the doors opened, a blonde woman with a microphone burst out of the elevator. "Anna Cole, WNDW News-"
Loaiza stepped in her way. "No way lady, not a chance in Hell!"
"How many times do I have to tell you, Cole, this area is off limits!" Thames said as she and Mulder were forced back onto the elevator. The door closed and Loaiza spoke into his radio.
"Lobby security come in."
"There's two people on their way down in the elevator. I want you to take them straight out of here or you are gonna spend Christmas day looking for a new job."
"Ten four." Several floors below the tower, Thompson turned to his fellow officer. "You heard the man, let's go."
Anna Cole practically jumped all over Mulder the second the doors shut on them. "What's going on?"
Mulder pointed to the railing next to Cole, "Hang on over there."
"Just hang on." When she complied, Mulder pushed the emergency stop button on the elevator level panel and it lurched to a halt, shaking its occupants.
Never missing a beat, Cole plowed on. "Political prisoner on his way here, gun play, every controller freaking out and rushing up here. Coincidence? I think not. Come on, Mulder, just a few words."
"Just two - " Mulder reached up and pushed on the hatch in the ceiling, pushing it aside to reveal an exit.
"I know, kiss and off." Anna was unruffled. "Thanks but I already got that from Colonel Stratton."
Mulder paused in his efforts to climb through the hole in the ceiling. "Stratton? The guy thrown out of Congress? He's here?"
Anna smiled smugly, knowing she had his attention. "Yeah, ran into him about an hour ago. What are you going to do?"
"It's okay, I do this kind of thing all the time. Oh, and I was going to say 'no comment'." With that Mulder pulled himself through the opening and replaced the hatch.
When the elevator finally reached its destination, it was met by two uniformed security men. They looked at Cole suspiciously.
"Hi." Anna chirped.
"Where's the other one?" Thompson demanded.
"Abducted by aliens?" Anna brushed past the officers and headed through the lobby.
Dulles Control Tower
Thames took the threat at face value, using the two minutes offered to communicate with the planes. "This is Dulles Approach to all aircraft in our holding pattern. We are experiencing some technical problems here. Our approach and navigation systems are down due to weather conditions and due to an unforeseeable human element, we expect to lose voice in another minute. We want you to continue holding at the outer marker and wait for further instructions. As soon as we're back on line we'll expedite your landing on a fuel emergency basis. Good luck." Thames removed the headphones and spoke to the rest of the controllers. "All right, change the boards."
Hundreds of expectant passengers and those waiting for friends and family began to grumble loudly all over the airport as computer screens indicating flight departures and arrivals became replaced with blinking 'Delayed' signs.
Behind him, Franks was speaking so fast in his excitement that the others were having trouble following. "I can tie in our frequency in thirty minutes wiring a crossover and we're up and running."
Thames didn't care if it made sense, if it had a chance of working, he'd go for it. "Get what you need any way you can."
"I want my SWAT team to go with him as protection. If we thought of it, they probably have too." Loaiza insisted with the first display of good thinking he had shown.
Ten minutes later, Franks gathered his equipment and headed out the door, a SWAT team close on his heels.
Somewhere In The Bowels of Dulles International
Mulder crawled on hands and knees through the cramped tunnels, ducking hot steam and dodging mechanical dangers. He followed the largest pipe overhead and managed to emerge on the landing of a flight of stairs leading both up and down. As he tried to decide which direction to take, the soft singing of a woman floated up to him. Follow the siren's song he thought and headed down.
Two levels below he came upon a large room decorated with papers, cleaning equipment, and antiques. Mulder cautiously surveyed the area, discovering that the source of music was an old record player where a Helen Reddy album spun rapidly. He reached out to lift the needle from the record when a hang gripped his right shoulder.
He whipped around and slammed his assailant against the wall, ignoring the twinge in his left arm, his gun drawn and pointed at the man's face. The man was scrawny and dirty, somewhere between fifty and sixty years old. "Who are you?"
The man's hands went up in surrender and he stammered, "I'm Ed...Ed." He pointed to his nametag which read 'Ed Rath'. "I was thinkin' you was tryin' to steal my albums, is all. I'm just the janitor."
Mulder's brows furrowed a moment and then he relaxed his grip on the grubby man. That would explain the mop and ammonia. "Sorry about that Ed but I'm a little tense. We have a situation upstairs..."
He quickly outlined everything that had transpired in the past hour, hoping that Ed would be able to give him the information he needed.
"The skywalk annex..." Ed unrolled a large bunch of blueprints onto a cluttered table, knocking off trash and fifties memorabilia.
"No damn it, the annex skywalk. They were talking about it right before they threw me out."
"Let me see." Ed studied the prints for a moment before he circled a large area in the center of the paper. "That's a raised platform and there's the new terminal. That's your skywalk."
"They're headed straight into an ambush. That's a damn bottleneck." Mulder slammed his hand down on the blueprints. "I need to get there right *now*."
"Follow me." Ed led him down a corridor, twisting and turning at uneven intervals until he came to a sudden stop in front of a small rectangular opening in the wall. "Right in there. Take you straight to the annex."
"Thanks Ed." Mulder tossed his coat at the janitor and squeezed into the tight fitting tunnel. He slithered forward about ten feet until there was no light. Flipping on his every-ready tiny flashlight, he grumbled, "Just once I'd like a normal Christmas. No mutants, aliens, clones, or psychotic killers. Just some eggnog, a Christmas tree, and even a turkey. But noooo. I've got to crawl around in a tunnel a la Eugene Tooms."
Franks and the SWAT team had reached the annex and were walking up an escalator towards what appeared to be a construction crew. Franks was updating Thames on his cell phone. "We're in the annex, the array is just outside, I'll give you a call for a systems test as soon as it's operational. Pray that it works."
Up ahead, the man who had been painting a wall reached down and pushed the button on the side of the escalator, stopping it. Everyone stumbled a bit as the floor beneath them ceased to move. Thomas Jackson, the SWAT leader picked up the pace, shouting, "What the-"
The painter just resumed his earlier task. He was positioned at the bottom of scaffolding upon which another man was working on the air ducts. Across the room a pair of workers were carrying pipes to and fro.
That made Jackson angrier. He didn't have time to deal with this shit. "Hey buddy! Who do you think I am?"
The man dropped his paintbrush and a gun appeared in his hand. "A dead man." He fired his weapon and Jackson dropped to the ground, a bullethole in his forehead.
The SWAT member behind Jackson returned fire but the painter had already ducked behind some equipment. Then all Hell broke loose.
From within an air duct fifty feet away, Mulder could hear the echoes of gunshots. "Damn it, why do I always have to be right?" He pulled his own weapon from its holster and crawled faster towards the source of battle sounds.
War had broken out between the SWAT team and the construction crew. Scattered shouts of "Look out!" and "Get down!" were interspersed with screams of agony. Swat took heavy casualties, seven of the original ten members were down and only one of the pipe toting workers. Franks was huddled in a corner where a SWAT guy had stuffed him, trying to ignore the death around him. He heard a loud crash and glass sprinkled over him, cutting his face. He ducked his head and prayed.
Then there was silence.
He slowly raised his head and peeked out from his hiding place. Cold steel was pressed against the nape of his neck. A single gunshot resounded through the spacious room.
Franks opened his eyes, confused. That was when he saw Agent Mulder peering down at him from one of the air ducts. The painter lay in a pool of blood at Franks' feet. Franks was about to offer his thanks when several cracks were heard and sparks exploded from the metal surrounding Mulder's position.
Mulder ducked back inside the duct and stretched his arm out to fire back at the man on the scaffolding. Then he hastily jumped down next the Franks. "Stay down." he hissed. He dove forward into a roll and came up shooting. The bullets glanced off of the metal rails of the scaffolding and the man atop it aimed his gun.
The man's gun was empty. Mulder took the opportunity to dodge under the scaffolding and fire up through the wooden platform. He heard several painful grunts as his bullets hit their target. But the man was only wounded. He reloaded his gun and shot at Mulder, who scrambled away quickly. Mulder stood up and rammed his whole body against the scaffolding, tipping it over. The man fell from his perch and his scream was cut off as the platform crashed down on him.
Mulder's relief was short lived. Boards, pipes, and tubing from the platform had rocked backwards to fall on top of the agent. His gun skittered across the escalator to come to a rest four feet away. A form appeared at the other end of the escalator.
It was the other man who had been carrying pipes. He had lost his weapon earlier in the crossfire and had waited until he had an advantage to press an attack. He sneered in triumph at the FBI agent pinned under rubble and sauntered toward the gun lying just out of the trapped man's reach.
Mulder's eyes grew wide and his mind raced, desperately searching for a way out of this. He strained his arm, reaching futiley for his weapon. Instead his hand came in contact with a short pipe. Ah hah! Mulder snatched the pipe and used it to push the button to reactivate the escalator. The moving walkway rumbled to life, bringing his Sig closer and closer.
The man at the other end saw this and raced for the gun, but it was to late. Mulder was able to reach it first and without hesitation, fired at the oncoming man. The attacker fell to the side, flopping over the edge of the escalator.
Mulder's arm dropped to the ground and he lay still for a few minutes, regrouping. Christ, he hurt. Now he could add bruised back and pounding headache to his list of injuries. He heard movement behind to him and struggled to get out from under the heavy equipment.
"Calm down, it's me." Franks knelt next to the FBI agent and began to move the rubble. "Boy am I glad you showed up when you did. You okay?"
Mulder pulled himself out of the wreckage and turned over to look up at the small black man. "Yeah, just dandy. What about you?"
"Me?" Franks reached up to feel the blood running down his face. "Just a few scratches, but the antennae array, I've got to get to it and set it up."
As though on cue, the array, just fifty feet from the glass doors, exploded. Heat and wind smashed through the windows, glass flying everywhere. Mulder shoved Franks over and covered him with his own body. When the danger passed, Mulder rolled off of Franks and leaned up against the escalator, staring out the window.
"Damn." Mulder muttered. Franks looked over his shoulder to see the burning remains of their only hope at contacting the planes. "They planned this. SWAT team gone, us wasting our time. We can't afford losses like this.
Dana stared forlornly out the window, wondering when this plane ride would be over. She hated planes, hated flying. Kind of strange when she had to fly all over the country all the time but she would never get used to it. Why couldn't she have been a pilot's daughter? No offense Ahab she thought glumly.
The elderly woman in the next seat who had introduced herself as Audrey, leaned over to peer through the tiny window. "Wow. Looks like there's quite a few planes out there."
"Yeah, it almost looks like a parking lot. I wonder why it's taking so long." Dana pulled out her cell phone and pushed speed dial one.
It was three rings before someone answered. "Mulder."
"Hey, it's me. We're still up here, the Captain says we're having weather problems but... I don't know, I have a funny feeling."
Mulder closed his eyes, fear washing over him as he thought of what was at stake if they failed. "Hey Scully. So, you have a *feeling* huh? Woman's intuition?" He hoped a joke would cover his anxiety.
She saw right through him. "Mulder, what's wrong?"
"Um... Scully, we have a little problem here. You know the General Chavez investigation?"
"Uh huh. He's that drug lord who's flying up here...tonight I think. Why?"
Mulder sighed. "Someone decided he doesn't belong in jail. They've taken over the airport systems and none of the planes can land. We're trying to come up with something but these guys are professionals who'll stop at nothing. We've already lost the SWAT team but we took out five of their men."
"Are you all right?" Her worry was plainly evident in her tone.
"Mulder..." she trailed off warningly.
"Okay, okay. I'm a little banged up but nothing your expertise can't handle." A garbled tinny sound reached Mulder's ears and he searched the area for its source. "Look, Scully, I've got to go, the sooner we get this resolved, the sooner you're safe on the ground."
"Be careful." she pleaded.
"I will." he promised. "Dana...I love you."
"I love you too." She hung up.
Mulder pushed himself up from where he was sitting and maneuvered around the medics who were futiley trying to revive the SWAT team. He stopped before the body of the painter he had shot and crouched down, all the while listening to the sound he had pinpointed a moment ago. He flipped the man over and rummaged through his pockets to discover a small radio. He quickly returned to his earlier position where Franks was talking into his own radio.
"...all dead. And that was the only array. We're pretty much out of options." Franks noticed Mulder motioning frantically at him. He spoke into the phone again, "I'll have to get back to you, I think we have something here."
Guardian Angels Church
Benson was getting anxious. His grip tightened on the radio in his hand and tried once more. "I say again annex team, come in. Do you copy?"
Mulder and Franks listen to the nonsensical sounds emitted by the radio Mulder had recovered. ďIts got some kind of scrambler on it, can you do anything about that?"
Franks took the proffered radio and flipped a few dial, examining its complexities. "No, the scramble mode is activated on this 10 digit pane, there could be a million different code combinations." Franks dropped the radio dejectedly on the chair next to him. "Next time get 'em to enter the code before you kill 'em."
Mulder grinned. "No problem."
Guardian Angels Church
Benson stepped up behind his superior, hands behind his back. "Sir, we just intercepted a call from the chief engineer, the array is gone and their SWAT team has been annihilated."
Andrews chuckled smugly. "So predictable."
"We didn't predict losing our own people." Stratton stalked over to the main table, yanking the phone from its cradle and stabbing out seven numbers. "Attention Dulles Control Tower, I know you can hear me."
Mulder grabbed Franks' radio from the floor and turned the volume up as Stratton's steely voice filtered through it.
"You were expressly forbidden to attempt to restore your systems. Lives and time have been lost in a useless effort that will be met with severe consequences."
Mulder toggled a button on the radio. "You've already destroyed the lives of the SWAT team and their families, what more is there?"
"Stay out of this, Mulder, you're not part of-" Loaiza's nasal whine was cut off by Stratton.
"Mulder? Fox Mulder, the FBI hero who solved the Oakland Stranger killings? Well, well. Personally, I think he could have been caught sooner if you had really put your mind to it."
"Fuck you. At least I saved lives instead of ending them. Chavez must be paying you well to make you a traitor to your country." Mulder replied angrily.
"Money is not my primary motivation, Agent Mulder, I am driven by something more useful...power. And you would do well to remember that a man with power is more dangerous than a man with wealth." Stratton intoned.
Mulder gripped the radio tightly. "And a man with both has nothing if he doesn't have a heart."
Stratton's deep chuckle echoed through the control tower. "True. But it also means that I have no qualms about what I am going to do." With that, Stratton hung up decisively and swiveled around to face Andrews. "What flight has the least fuel left?"
Andrews quickly reviewed the monitor to his left. "Lindbergh 131 has enough fuel left to fill a shot glass."
Stratton nodded. "Activate the ILS, but recalibrate sea level...minus 200 feet."
Russ' eyes bulged as he watched the screen helplessly. "Mr. Thames! Ground level has been reset, minus 200 feet!"
Thames' head snapped up as he took in the information. He was still in shock when a recognizable voice came over the intercom, directed at a plane above. It was Stratton, his words tinted with a southern accent.
"Lindbergh 131, this is Dulles Tower."
The pilot, unaware of anything amiss in the 'controller's' manner, replied immediately. "This is Lindbergh 131, it's about time you showed up."
"Lindbergh 131, this is Dulles. Systems came on line just a moment ago. You are cleared for approach on runway twenty-one."
"Dulles approach, we'll happily comply. We were starting to think you'd forgotten about us."
In the annex, Mulder's mind was racing. "Oh my God, he's going to crash the plane. We've got to warn them!"
Franks was shaking his head. "We can't, he's using our frequency, they have no reason not to believe him."
Mulder tossed Franks the radio and jogged over to the discarded painting equipment strewn about the floor. He pulled a drop cloth out from under the wrecked scaffolding and began tearing it into strips. "I need your coat, and do you have a lighter?"
Franks complied without hesitation, removing his heavy coat and pulling a small lighter from his pocket. "What have you got in mind?"
After wrapping the strips of cloth around two short metal poles, Mulder bent down and picked up a paint thinner, removing the lid. Setting down the poles he accepted Franks' proffered coat and slipped it on, grateful that it was large enough. "I have an idea that has a snowball's chance in Hell of working." He dipped the cloth ends of the poles into the thinner and waited until they stopped dripping before tucking them under his arm. "But I've got to try."
Franks followed Mulder to the shattered window and stared as the FBI agent climbed out. "Good luck, Mulder!" he shouted over the howling wind.
Mulder nodded once then turned and ran across the landing area, heading for runway 21. Upon reaching his destination he reached into his jeans pocket and withdrew the lighter. He flicked it open with his thumb and switched it on. Igniting the flammable liquid soaked into the cloth, he lifted them up and started to wave his arms back and forth methodically. The fire was frighteningly close, but he thought of all the people on the plane and pushed his fear away. He prayed that the pilots would see his signal and realize that the ground was a lot closer than their instruments told them.
The pilot of the plane was relying on those instruments as he reported to the tower. "Approach flaps, approach speed 120, altitude 600 feet."
Thames cursed loudly. "400, your at 400 damn it."
Stratton crooned into the radio. "Looking good Lindbergh. Watch your speed, the runways are a bit icy."
Mulder's arms were straining with the effort, his eyes burning from the smoke and with tears. The airplane showed no signs of pulling up. It passed over his head less than 25 five feet from the ground and he whirled around just in time to see the nose of the aircraft plunge into the snow, bursting into a ball of flame. The explosion threw Mulder to the ground, shrapnel and sparks whizzing past him. He felt a sharp pain in his side but ignored it, keeping his head down until the danger was past.
He struggled to his knees and then to his feet, wearily circling the blazing wreckage. Within a few minutes the area was swarming with ambulances and fire crews, several news vans interspersed among the emergency vehicles. He staggered through the remains, unaware of the firemen and paramedics scurrying about, desperately trying to find survivors. He paused and stooped down to pick up what was once a doll. Its face was seared black, its dress torn at the edges, one arm and half a leg missing.
He sank back to his knees, the doll falling from his grasp onto the muddy ground. Tears streamed down his face, his shoulders trembling in suppressed despair as one thought repeated itself over and over. It's all my fault.
Dulles Control Tower
Thames strode over to where Franks and Mulder were being treated by the paramedics. He arrived just in time to overhear the argument between the FBI agent and the EMT.
"You need to go to the hospital, Agent Mulder."
"I'm fine. You can just stitch it up here, I don't have time for a hospital."
The medic looked petulant. "All right, only because the emergency rooms are already overflowing with crash victims."
Mulder inclined his head in agreement and lifted his shirt to reveal a long gash running from his left hip up over his ribs. The wound was bleeding and caked with soot and grime. Thames smothered a gasp and looked at the agent worriedly. There were bruises decorating his back in vivid shades of blue and purple and the bandage on his arm was stained red. "Are you sure Mulder, you look like you could use a break."
Grimacing ever so slightly, Mulder said, "Those people up there don't get a break."
Franks stepped up to join the two men. "We've got to find a way to warn the planes without alerting Stratton."
Thames nodded. "I called the governor's office, they're sending out a counter terrorist team as we speak."
"A lot of good that'll do us, we can't even find the terrorists. What we need is..."
Mulder zoned out, ignoring the discussion between Franks and Thames, ignoring the prick of the needle as the medic sewed him up, ignoring the sirens and flashing lights outside. He felt hopelessness creeping up on him. He needed Scully.
He pulled his phone from his jacket, surprised and gratified to find that it was still in one piece. Pushing speed dial one he only had to wait for half a ring before it was answered. "Mulder?"
"Scully." Her name was filled with anguish, the last syllable cracking.
She knew immediately that her partner was on the verge of emotional collapse. "Mulder? What's wrong, what happened??"
"I couldn't stop it. I tried but I couldn't stop it."
"They crashed a plane. I tried to get the pilot's attention but it was useless. Oh God, Scully, there aren't many survivors."
"Mulder, listen to me. I'm sure you did everything you could to try and save those people, this is *not* your fault. Do you hear me??"
He swallowed loudly. "Yeah, I hear you."
Perhaps if he focused on the crime and not the victim he would be able to distance himself. "So tell me what happened."
"The leader of the terrorists is Colonel Stratton, you know, the Congress reject? Anyway, he took over the control tower frequency and the landing computers. He caused that plane to crash, just because we tried to make contact with the pilots."
"Jesus. And there was no way to tell the pilot that he wasn't the tower controller?" she asked.
"No, all the systems are completely overridden. If only we could communicate with them via wireless lines. Then... Holy shit!! I am so fucking stupid sometimes, why didn't I think of this before??"
Taken aback by Mulder's angry tone, Scully waited until he stopped ranting before speaking. "What, what is it??"
"Cell phones! God damn cell phones! We can contact them with passengers' phones. Scully, I gotta go."
"All right Mulder, but please be careful, I don't want to spend Christmas in a chair by your hospital bed."
"What about *in* the bed with me?"
She chuckled softly. "Absolutely."
Mulder was gesturing frantically to the short black man in front of him. "We just need to find out who has phones and what their numbers are. If you can provide the passenger manifests for the remaining planes we can start calling local cellular companies to find out if they are registered."
"Right! And then we can tell our pilots that there's a madman down here pretending to be the tower. We still won't be able to land them, but at least Stratton won't either." Franks' voice rose in pitch as he became more excited.
"I know the number to one of those planes. You find the manifests and I'll contact Flight 619." Mulder again pulled out his phone as Franks scurried away, hope lighting his eyes for the first time in hours. 555-0113. Those seven little numbers were going to help save his partner's life.
"Who else would it be? Scully, I need you to do me a favor. They may not take you seriously at first but flash your badge and tell them you acting under the authority of Eugene Thames, the chief of airport operations. Now, I need you to tell the pilot something for me..."
"Ma'am, you're not allowed to go in there." The flight attendant was starting to get annoyed with this petite woman.
"Listen, I am a federal agent and I will place you under arrest for endangering lives if I have to. Now move aside or you will find yourself responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people." Scully was ashamed at having to threaten the attendant, but damn it, she didn't have the time for this.
The stewardess took the imposing red head's words to heart and stepped quickly away from the cockpit door. Scully didn't even look at her as she moved past and opened the hatch. The co-pilot shifted in his seat. "Judy, can we get some coffee up-" he stopped upon seeing that he didn't recognize the woman before him. "Who are you? This is a restricted area."
"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully with the Federal Bureau of Investigation." She proffered her badge to him and he took it, inspecting it with scrutiny. The pilot had only glanced back once and was now listening as well. "Eugene Thames has directed me to inform you not to take any instructions from the person claiming to be the tower unless you hear your own flight code. Don't attempt to talk to the tower, as your transmissions are not secure."
She waited until they had digested this information before she explained herself. "Terrorists have cut off your two available landing systems, both visual and ILS. The details are too sticky to get in to but the summary is that these men are, in effect, holding all waiting planes for hostage in order to get what they want. A special army unit is on its way and will be taking counter terrorist measures."
The pilots looked at each other in fear and bewilderment. "Do we know how long this is going to take?" one of them asked.
Scully let out the breath she had been holding, relieved that they apparently believed her. "No. But I do know it won't take more then a few hours at most. Why?"
The pilot sighed. "You'd better hope it takes less time than that. We're going to run out of fuel in two and a half hours."
Mulder passed a hand over his face, flinching slightly as his fingers ran across a sore spot. "So how many is that?"
Franks looked up from the papers in front of him at the man across the table. "There are a total of eighteen planes up there, four of which have air phones. We've been able to contact three of them and are still working on the other. Seven more have been reached by passenger cell phones and the rest either don't have anyone with a phone or no one is answering."
"That leaves eight planes still at risk. Any other ideas?" Mulder glanced to his left where Thames was nursing a cold cup of coffee.
"What about big spotlights?"
Mulder shook his head, already having dismissed that option. "They'd just shoot them out. Maybe if we-" he paused mid-sentence as the tower suddenly began filling with men dressed in gray fatigues. "I think the cavalry is here."
All three stood and moved over to the man who was obviously in charge. He was barking orders to the others, directing them where to put several pieces of electronic equipment. Thames held out his hand, "Thames, chief of operations. This is my chief engineer, Franks."
"Major Carey, we're the Alpha Team." he replied, shaking their hands. Carey was a big man, taller than Mulder by several inches and outweighing him by at least fifty pounds. He looked like he could take even Skinner with ease.
Damn it, I forgot about Skinner! Mulder slapped himself mentally for neglecting to call his boss and update him on the situation. After mulling it over for a few seconds, he decided to forego that formality, as it would most likely do no good in the long run.
Loaiza sauntered up and shoved Mulder aside. "Captain Loaiza, Terminal Police. You need anything, it's yours."
"My men will need an area to set up." Carey intoned solemnly.
Mulder spoke up, "This is it? One platoon?"
"One critical emergency, one platoon. Who are you?"
"Agent Mulder, I'm with the Bureau."
Carey's eyebrows rose. "Why is the FBI involved?"
"We're not involved exactly. My partner is on one of those planes and I was here to pick her up."
"Agent Mulder, I sympathize with your situation, but this is better left up to the professionals." Carey began to turn away.
Mulder reached out and grabbed the bigger man's elbow. "It's the pros who are doing this, Major. Wasn't Colonel Stratton one of your men?"
Carey turned and wrenched his arm from Mulder's grasp. "Once, but he sure as Hell isn't anymore. I know this man, taught him everything he knows. He isn't going to get away with this." Carey strode away then, his boots clicking loudly on the linoleum floor.
"Maybe your dog has learned a few more tricks since you parted ways." Mulder muttered to the retreating Major's back.
Mulder walked in the open door to find Ed hunched over a sink, noxious fumes billowing out from his position. "Ed?"
"Wha- Who??" The old man's head jolted up and he whirled around, his eyes wide and his breathing ragged. "Jesus, Mulder, don't do that to a man of my age. You'll give me a heart attack."
Despite himself, Mulder smiled. "I need a favor, I want to see the schematics of the power lines running to and from the control tower. I want to know where they lead."
"Sure, sure." Ed turned off the water in the sink and waved his hand to clear some of the fumes. He went over to his stacks of papers and rifled through them. "Hmm, where did I put that? Is it under P for Power lines, or E for Engineering. Or maybe- ah ha! Here it is, under C for Control systems." He spread the blueprints out on the large tables.
Mulder peered over his shoulder, scouring the schematics for any place with easy access. "Damn." he mumbled. All the power lines were located within airport property, lowering the probability of finding Stratton and his men by tracing the route of the lines. He pulled at his lower lip, his mind trying to come up with a new plan.
His thoughts were interrupted by a mechanical noise in the background. "This is Andrews, request permission to replace sentries. It's getting colder and that makes it hard to focus."
Another voice emerged from the pile of junk as the other had. "This is Colonel Stratton. Andrews, permission granted. Have the remaining men assemble for a briefing, over."
Mulder's mouth hung open as he stared at the small black object sitting on the desk. A cry of pure joy emerged from his throat and he suddenly pulled Ed into an awkward embrace. A moment later and he was clearing away the trash on the desk to reach the radio. Sighing happily, he picked it up, turning it over in his hands.
"What?" Ed was confused by the agent's display.
"Where did you get this?" Mulder breathed.
"I found it on the floor, by the luggage belt. Why's that got you all excited?"
"It still has the code punched into it." Mulder explained.
Ed shrugged. "Whatever. You like it? How about giving me fifteen bucks for it." He smiled toothily.
Mulder adopted a stern expression. "How about I leave the IRS out of this?"
Ed's hand's went up in mock surrender. "Man knows how to bargain."
Guardian Angels Church
"Sir, General Chavez' plane just appeared on radar."
Stratton clapped his gloved hands together. "Excellent." He picked up the phone connecting him to the tower. "Attention Dulles Tower, in a moment we will be lighting a runway. Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to land any planes." He hung up and took the radio Benson held for him. "Dulles Tower to Senorita Rojo."
A voice with thick accent answered, "This is Senorita Rojo. We read you Dulles, over."
"Senorita, you are to come in on runway 13, repeat, one-three."
"Dulles, our instructions were to land on runway two-seven, has this change been authorized by your Justice Department?"
On board the Senorita Rojo the cockpit door suddenly flew open, revealing General Chavez, pistol clasped tightly in his hand, pointed straight at the pilot's head. Behind him they could see the body of the young soldier, his neck twisted in an unnatural manner. "Captain, you will proceed to runway 13 as ordered." Chavez said authoritatively.
The pilot flashed a look at his co-pilot in silent communication before nodding to their gun wielding passenger. He pretended to change course, watching his comrade from the corner of his eye. The co-pilot lashed out, trying to knock the weapon from Chavez' grasp. They grappled for a while and the gun fired, the bullet piercing the hull. The co-pilot desperately attempted to throw Chavez back through the cockpit hatch. He failed miserably and didn't even have time to regret his failure before he was shot in the forehead. The General then turned the weapon on the pilot and finished the execution.
All the while the radio bleated loudly. "Senorita Rojo, come in! Come in!"
Mulder was gripping the radio so tightly that his knuckles were white. "Ed, what's the fastest way to the runways?"
Ed pulled out another blueprint. "See this here crawl space? That's the one you were in before. But this time you make a right in the second opening. Follow that and you'll find another tunnel that has a Hell of a lot of offshoots, each one leading to a separate runway. Just count 'em off as you go by and you'll get to whichever one you need."
Mulder clapped the janitor on the shoulder. "Thanks Ed, I really owe you."
"You can make it up to me by cleaning up the mess y'all are makin'." Ed shouted after him as he disappeared into the dark corridor.
Chavez shoved the body of the pilot aside and grabbed the yoke. "This is Senorita Rojo. Mayday, mayday. I've lost cabin pressure, I must land on the first accessible runway."
"We copy Senorita. Reroute to runway eleven, repeat, runway one-one. We're lighting it up right now."
Mulder was just passing the tenth opening and was thanking the Fates for working in his favor for once. Another minute and he'd be on runway eleven.
The radio in his hand crackled to life. "I can see the lights. Gracias amigo. ETA in 50 seconds."
Stratton's voice replied, "We're on our way."
Mulder reached the ladder at the end of the eleventh tunnel and climbed frantically. He had to make in onto the runway before the plane landed and Chavez escaped. At the top of the ladder was a large grate made of thick metal. He tried to lift it but it was too heavy. He stepped up another rung and used his back and shoulders to push it open. He managed to get his torso through the opening and he twisted around onto his back to see the nose of an enormous plane bearing down on him.
"Holy shit!" He scrambled to get out from underneath the grate but he kept slipping on the wet snow. The plane was getting closer and closer, its lights catching him like a deer in headlights. He sucked in his breath and kicked out with his legs, at the same time pushing against the metal. Suddenly he was free and without waiting a second he rolled to his left, just as a six foot wheel slammed into the upturned grate, shutting it with a deafening *clang*.
General Chavez let out a breath as the plane rumbled to a halt. He jumped out of his seat, neatly sidestepping the two bodies strewn on the floor and moving to the exit hatch. He pushed it open, allowing the stairs to unfold before he turned around to retrieve his weapon from the cockpit. Tucking it into the holster he had 'borrowed' from the guard, he moved back to the doorway.
He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, spreading his arms wide. "Ah, freedom." Suddenly his face exploded in pain and he was reeling back, clutching his damaged nose.
"Not yet, you son of a bitch."
The General looked out from between his splayed fingers to discover a man standing there, gun in hand and pointing it at his chest. He was wearing jeans and a coat with black soot marks streaking its blue cloth, his hair wind tossed and dangling in his face. All in all, not the picture of the soldier Chavez was expecting.
"Who are you?"
"FBI." Mulder returned, his aim never wavering.
"FBI?" Chavez scoffed.
"Yeah. And I am going to make sure you and your friends are going to pay for what you've done. Now move over to-"
He was interrupted by gunfire, the bullets pinging off the outer shell and a few coming through the door to lodge in the ceiling. Mulder whirled around and fired several shots out the door, relieved to see one of the men outside fall. They started shooting again and he threw himself aside, out of the line of fire. From the corner of his eye he saw Chavez go for his gun. Mulder fired blindly, hearing Chavez grunt in pain. The General was clutching his shoulder and raising his weapon with the injured arm. Mulder ducked into the cockpit and slammed the door behind him, praying that it was thick enough to withstand bullets.
Andrews barreled into the plane, his gaze sweeping over the empty space before coming to rest on the General. "Where is he?"
Chavez gestured to the cockpit. "He's in there." He pushed Andrews aside and angrily stormed down the steps where he was greeted by Colonel Stratton's worried face.
"General, are you all right?"
"Fine. He claimed to be an FBI agent. I thought you said this place was secure!" he accused.
"Damn it." Stratton growled. He strode over to stand just below the nose of the plane. "Agent Mulder! I assume it's you, Mulder! You're really becoming a thorn in my side! I believe it is time to remove you for good!" He turned and nodded to the soldiers.
They raised their rifles and fired at the cockpit, the bullets shattering the glass and decorating the white belly with black holes. Then they simultaneously pulled one grenade each from their vests, pulled the pin, and tossed them through the broken window.
Mulder had huddled between the pilots' seats when the gunfire erupted and panic rose thick in his throat as the first grenade landed a few inches from his face. He scrambled to his feet and quickly sat in the co-pilot's chair. Buckling the safety belt with trembling hands he reached out and pulled the eject lever before he had time to change his mind.
Stratton and his men saw part of the cockpit fly up and out a second before a large shape hurtled from there. He was about to order his troops to open fire but the sound of sirens made him rethink the situation. It wasn't time for an entanglement with the special army unit that he knew had arrived. Not yet. "Fall back to headquarters!" The soldiers ran over to a covered truck and jumped on even as it started to move away.
Mulder never considered himself a religious man, but at this moment he was praying to God with everything inside of him. He was flying through the air at a sickening speed, the chair twisting and turning as the wind buffeted it. He slowed as he reached the apex of his ascent and the parachute unfurled, snapping open with a crack.
Watching the world sway and undulate beneath him Mulder clenched his eyes shut, tamping down on the need to retch. Damn this motion sickness. Seconds passed and suddenly his whole body was jolted hard as he hit the ground, the parachute fluttering down to cover him. He unbuckled himself and fell out of the chair, his limbs shaking. Losing his battle with vertigo he dry heaved for a moment. Good thing his stomach was empty.
He rested for a few minutes, his muscles weak, tired, and sore, his whole body screaming for relief. He wanted to lay there forever, letting the cold seep into his bones. But then he thought of Scully. He was up and moving in seconds.
Franks pulled the gauze tighter, mumbling "Sorry" when Mulder flinched. His jaunt into the skies and subsequent meeting with the earth had undone all the hard work of the paramedics. His arm had begun to bleed again and several of the numerous stitches over his ribs had been pulled.
"Well, Chavez is grounded, but he's hurt. Took a round in the shoulder. I managed to off another one of their men, that's a total of six out of the way."
Loaiza guffawed self-righteously. "Whoopee dee. And that'll make a big difference if they've got fifty guys. We've got no idea how many there are, so *excuse* me for not breakin' out the champagne."
Major Carey looked down at the man sitting in front of him. "We appreciate your attempts to help, Agent Mulder, but we don't need some maverick FBI agent out there screwing this up. They could decide to crash another plane because of what you've done."
Mulder shook his head, glancing at Franks. "They don't have that option anymore. Besides, if I'd captured Chavez this whole thing'd be over."
Carey snorted. "But you didn't get him, did you?"
Mulder shot up from his seat, ignoring Franks' protests. "Well at least I tried. That's more than I can say for you!"
Carey straightened to his full height and glared at Mulder. "Listen smart ass, we're here to do everything Stratton wants until he tries to take off. And until that time we are going to antagonize him as little as possible. You are the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Story of my life." Mulder muttered.
A soldier stepped over to the Major and held up a radio. "Governor is asking for an update, Sir."
"I'll take it in here." He walked away into Thames' office.
"Mulder?" Franks was tugging on his elbow.
He scrubbed his face with his left hand. "What?"
"I was thinking. You said these guys arrived out there in no time at all. That must mean they're pretty close to the field right? I think I know where. See," he walked over to a table adorned by several large maps, "these are the old plans of all our conduit lines."
Mulder nodded, recognizing them. "Yeah, I looked at them earlier, they're all located on airport property, so unless Stratton and his boys are within the fence-"
"You're right, but this is before the longer runways went in about ten years back. They had to move all underground lines so they could handle drainage. It would now all run along right outside the property, past this neighborhood." He motioned to an area of a few blocks next to the runways.
1105 Autumn Way
Mulder slammed his palm against the hood of the car. Franks looked at him and shrugged, returning his attention to the map that was spread across the front of his car. Mulder turned around and crossed his arms, leaning against the vehicle and staring at nothing.
"Franks, we've looked at eleven houses so far and we've come up empty. We're running out of time." He sighed, his breath billowing out in a white cloud in front of his face.
Franks rubbed his hands together and blew into them. He felt like his brain had frozen along with the rest of him. "I don't know what to tell you, Mulder. The only place left to try is the church just behind that house." He nodded at the small brick building in front of them. "But I'm sure that's not it."
Mulder didn't look at him. "Why not?"
"Well," Franks didn't understand why the agent was confused. "I mean, it's a *church*."
"You'd be surprised what kind of horrors a church can hide. C'mon." He was moving in an instant, jogging across the street to the side of the house. Franks hurried to catch up to him. Together they peered around the corner to see the small chapel, the cross on its tower leaning precariously to the left. The paint on the walls was flaking off and the wooden fence surrounding the property looked as though Tom Sawyer had built it.
"Doesn't exactly look like it's a church that's been frequented lately." Mulder mumbled.
"There's someone." Franks pointed to a man who was walking in the snow along the northern wall of the building. As they continued to watch, the man turned around and walked back the way he had come. Reaching his starting point he again turned.
"Probably a guard." Mulder noted.
Franks pursed his lips. Mulder was being a bit paranoid. "He's probably out for a walk."
"Oh yeah, everybody is careful to go over their own footsteps during their evening walk." He ducked low and scrambled over to a car parked just outside the fence. Franks was ready for his sudden departure this time and was right behind. They crouched behind the old vehicle heaped with snow and tried to speak softly.
"I want you to wait here and get ready to call Carey and his troops." Mulder pulled out his gun and checked the clip. He had used all but one bullet, he would have to make sure this one counted.
"The Major didn't want you interfering." Franks couldn't care less about what Carey thought, he just didn't want Mulder running headlong into a possibly deadly situation.
Mulder raised an eyebrow. "He can sue me. Now be ready." He was gone in a flash, dodging behind a tree and jumping the fence. He moved stealthily up behind the guard, the snow barely crunching beneath his feet. He was about fifteen feet away from the sentry when a shrill chirping broke the silence.
"Shit!" Mulder cursed under his breath, hastily reaching in his jacket and turning of the cell phone. When he looked up it was a second before the guard's body hit him. Together they toppled to the ground, the sentry landing heavily on him. Mulder brought his knee up sharply and the other man yelped in pain, rolling off the agent.
Franks had witnessed the guard's attack and was now holding his radio up to his mouth, hissing loudly into it. "Dulles Tower come in, come in Dulles!"
"This is Dulles, who the Hell are you and how did you get on this frequency??"
"Loaiza? It's me, Franks. I-"
"Where are you? Thames has been breathing down my neck to find you. And where's Mulder?"
Franks looked through the windows of the car to see Mulder wrestling with the sentry. "He's with me. We're at Guardian Angels, the local church just east of you."
"What the Hell are you doing there? Oh never mind, just tell me what's going on." Loaiza was writing down the location as he spoke.
"We found their base of operations. Get Major Carey over here right *now*!" Franks switched off the radio, not wanting to hear Loaiza's protests. He glanced back to the struggling men, dismayed to see that Mulder appeared to be losing.
The guard had a knife and was holding it with both hands, just inches away from Mulder's face. Mulder had his own hands wrapped around his attacker's wrists, straining to keep the knife from embedding itself in his eye. But he was tired and he was sore, what strength he had was being burned up fast. He had to do something.
He did the first thing that came to him. He spit in the other man's face. The guard's concentration shifted momentarily and Mulder was able to deflect the downward motion of the blade, the sharp sting on the side of the neck letting him know he hadn't escaped it entirely. The weapon was now imbedded in the snow and Mulder managed to get a hand up to punch the man in the face before he could pull the knife from the ground.
With the sentry temporarily out of his line of vision he saw that they were under a low overhang, a porch cover above the basement entrance. Suspended from the edge of the overhang several long icicles glistened in the waning light. Then the guard's angry visage blocked his view again, enraged by Mulder's actions.
Just as the sentry was bending over the agent, Mulder pulled his knees up and planted his foot in the man's stomach, shoving upwards with all his might. He was rewarded with a wet gurgle of surprise and a hot splash of blood on his chest. Lowering his feet he was sickened by the sight of the dead guard, body remaining impaled on the icicle, blood mingling with the melted ice to dribble onto the ground below.
He scooted out from under the gory scene and hastened back to the car where Franks was staring at him, wide eyed. Mulder ignored him and panned his gaze across the area, noting that all appeared as it was before. Whoever it was inside didn't seem to be aware of what had occurred during the past few minutes.
En Route to Guardian Angels Church
Carey sat in the back of the covered truck, crouched in the middle of the benches on which his soldiers were perched. Loaiza was up front with the driver, babbling into his radio. The Major swept his eyes over his troops, grinning with satisfaction.
"Gentlemen, we're headed to Colonel Stratton's base of operations. You have all been briefed on what the outcome will be and you have your orders in accordance to each possible scenario. You know what to do."
The soldiers, clad in white, began pulling out their guns, hand held automatic weapons that could fire up to two thousand rounds per minute. The large clips for these were all tagged with blue markers at one end and red at the other. The troops inserted the clips, blue side down, and switched off the safeties.
They pulled up outside of the church seconds later and they filed out of the truck in a practiced manner. Loaiza joined them and together they walked the few paces to where Mulder and Franks were hiding.
Mulder stood up a bit shakily and Franks put a hand under his elbow to steady him. He was using his injured left arm to hold a cloth up to his neck, his torso covered in blood. Carey reached them first. "Christ, Mulder, you okay?"
Loaiza didn't let him answer. "Who do you think you are? Elliot Ness?? I should arrest you for interfering with a police investi-"
"Shut up, Loaiza." Carey waved his hand at the Captain. "Why don't you do something useful, like sealing off this street."
"Hey, you can't order me around!"
"Oh no?" The Major gestured to a soldier behind him. "Sergeant, please get this piece of garbage out of my sight." Ignoring Loaiza's sputtering protests, he turned to another soldier who was hovering by his shoulder.
"The men are in position, Sir." he reported.
"Good. We'll go around the back. Only fire on my order, understood?"
"Yes Sir." The soldier saluted crisply and whirled around to jog back into the night.
Mulder watched the scene with a mixture of amusement and tension. "I guess I was wrong about you, Major. You're not such an arrogant bastard after all."
Carey grinned. "No, you were right. I'm just your kind of bastard."
Inside The Church An insistent beeping got everyone's attention. Stratton looked at the blinking red light on one of the many consoles. "Andrews, give me a situation report."
"Army special forces unit on three sides, west side is clear."
General Chavez glared at the Colonel. "Another unexpected turn of events?"
Stratton smiled his widest. "Certainly not, General. This is anything but unexpected." He motioned to his men who were still seated at the consoles and waiting for directions. "It is time. You all know what to do." It was an eerie echo of Carey's words.
The men vacated their posts, gathering weapons from a pile in the center of the room, blue marked clips protruding from their undersides. All the consoles were shut off and two men moved about the room, flipping switches underneath the machines. Then they headed out the door facing west, towards the airport, slipping unseen into the night.
They marched over to a small stand of trees where snowmobiles waited. Climbing on, they started them up, the engines roaring mightily.
Mulder hear the ruckus and ran away from where Carey was standing. His saw around the corner and paled at the sight of Stratton's men speeding away on mobiles. "They're getting away!!" he shouted.
"What??" Carey came over, yelling orders into his radio. "Move! Move!"
The army unit swarmed the church, bursting through windows and breaking down doors. Mulder didn't bother going with them, he was too busy racing after the last snow mobile to pull away. He paused in his chase, aimed carefully, and fired.
The soldier toppled from the mobile, the vehicle slowing and stopping as it encountered a snow drift. Mulder sprinted over to the dead man, confiscating the automatic weapon since he had just emptied his clip. He then moved to the abandoned mobile and leapt aboard, continuing the chase. The other soldiers hadn't noticed their fallen comrade, dismissing Mulder as one of their own bringing up the rear.
He used their ignorance to his advantage. He raised the large gun and fired, surprised when he missed the man directly in front of him. The man he had missed lifted his identical weapon, switching the clip so that the red marked side was showing. He turned and pointed the barrel at the FBI agent.
Franks wandered around the room, noting the quality of the machines set up. He grew more excited as he recognized more and more. "We could land our planes with this equipment!" He reached out to toggle a button.
Carey's hand snapped around Franks' wrist. "Don't touch anything! They wouldn't have left this to us so easily, it's probably wired."
A soldier's head poked out from beneath one of the consoles. "It is. There's enough C-4 down here to blow up a whole city block."
"Let's move out!" The team quickly exited the church, returning to the truck where Loaiza was waiting. "They've wired all the equipment to blow, I want the building sealed off and the surrounding houses evacuated until the threat is neutralized."
Loaiza was nodding and now glanced around. "What happened to Mulder?"
The bullet hit the front of the snowmobile, sparks flying up into his face. He veered away to the right, brining his gun up and returning fire. But again he missed. More soldiers had noticed the skirmish and were slowing, turning slightly so they could dispatch this bothersome man behind them.
Bullets were zinging past him now, many penetrating the mobile's engine. He had to pull the vehicle to the left suddenly and was unable to avoid the snow bank in front of him. The mobile flew into the air, tipping slightly and throwing Mulder off seconds before it exploded in flames, crashing into the snow. Mulder landed a few yards away, hitting the frozen ground on his right side, sliding a couple inches until his head met with a rock. He lay motionless for a few minutes, listening to the sounds of snow mobile engines die away.
The cold snow felt good against his sore body, numbing away the pain that radiated from everywhere. What happened? I had those soldiers in my sights, they should be the ones lying in the snow. The gun was only a small distance away and he struggled to his knees. The world spun around him, gray spots dancing across his vision. He closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing. In out in out. The swimming sensation abated and he was able to crawl over to the discarded weapon.
He pulled the gun into his lap and pulled out the clip, examining it carefully. The blood running from his forehead was a stark contrast to his pale face. "Jesus Christ." he whispered. He pushed himself off the ground and staggered towards the airport.
Dulles Control Tower
"Attention Dulles Control, attention, this is Colonel Stratton. Is the plane I requested ready?"
Thames swallowed the bile in his throat. "It's been fueled and prepped. It's in the most remote hangar we have, number nineteen."
"Will I need a ground crew to confirm the plane's condition or should I take you at you word?" Stratton's voice was condescending, as though talking to an errant child.
Carey stormed over to the radio. "You listen to me you son of a bitch, we've done everything you've asked!"
"Why, I know that voice! Major...Carey, isn't that right?"
"Don't bullshit me, Stratton, you know who I am. I'm the man who is going to put you down." He slapped the radio off and whirled around to face his men. "We move out in three minutes, I want everyone to have a flight jacket and body armor. Snipers use your nightscopes. Loaiza, get all your men together and seal off all the exits from the airport, I don't want any of these guys slipping past you to break onto the ground."
"It'll be my pleasure." Loaiza grabbed his jacket and headed for the elevator, ready to finally bring this night to a close.
Ed removed the 45 from the record player and carefully placed it back in its cover. He perused his collection and selected one from the end of the row. He placed the record on the turntable and set the needle on it. The sounds of Johnny Mathis' 'Wonderful, Wonderful' echoed down the hallways.
Still, a loud crash was detectable over the baritone music. Ed picked up a broom, wielding it like a baseball bat, and walked cautiously to his slightly open door. Suddenly, the door swung inward and a body fell through it onto the floor. Ed jumped back and dropped the broom, bending down to discover the identity of the man.
"Geez Mulder, where'd you come from? World War Three?" He helped the younger man to his feet, bringing him over to sit down in a chair, despite his protests. "You look like you could use some rest." He went to his small kitchen area and poured a cup of coffee, bringing the steaming liquid back to the FBI agent.
Mulder took the proffered cup gratefully, his icy fingertips tingling against the warm ceramic. His teeth chattered when he spoke, the low temperatures and early stages of shock making him shiver violently. "I n-need to g-get to Loiaz-za's a f-fast as possib-ble."
"What you need is a hospital man." Ed saw the look in Mulder's eyes and gave up trying to persuade him of any other course of action. "All right, let's go."
Ed took Mulder through a door practically hidden behind a mountain of dirty rags and into a tiny garage where a cart was parked. They climbed aboard and Ed flipped on the orange light on its front. Putting his foot to the gas he pushed the little vehicle to its limit, speeding across the open spaces toward the airport's main terminal.
Upon entering the airport they were swamped by people, a veritable sea of relatives and friends who were anxiously waiting for their loved ones to land safely. Ed added the 'beep beep' siren to the light and the crowd gradually parted, allowing them through. They pulled up in front of the Terminal Police Captain's office.
Mulder ignored the officer trying to block his way, barging through the door to where Loaiza was just hanging up the phone. "Loaiza!"
"What the- Are you insane, Mulder??"
"Where's Carey and the Alpha team?" he demanded.
Loaiza sniffed self-righteously. "They went to the hangar to take down Stratton."
"Wrong. They are going to get on the same God damn plane and fly away together."
"What are you talking about? Get out of my office you nutcase!" Loaiza was on his feet, ready to physically remove Mulder from his office.
"Stratton must have replaced the unit with his own men right before Congress canned him." he reasoned.
"Then why would he shoot at his own men? You were there, you saw that fire fight." Loaiza scoffed.
Mulder was shaking his head. "No, it's all just a ruse, to make us waste our time, just like with the antennae array."
"You know, I checked up on you, Mulder, and you know what I heard? That you're one crazy bastard. I believe it. And you know what else? You're under arrest." He moved forward, cuffs in hand.
Mulder stepped over to meet him, bringing his arm up and shoving the Captain back several paces. Then he lifted the weapon he brought with him and fired point blank at the cop, who cringed back against the wall. Mulder ceased fire and ripped the clip from the gun and tossed it to Loaiza who plucked it out of the air.
"Those are the bullets they were shooting at each other with out there! Blanks!"
Loaiza stared at the clip in his hand. "Shit." He moved to the intercom. "This is Captain Loaiza, I want every officer recalled and assembled in five minutes. Meet in the motor pool with full body armor and weaponry." He tossed the clip back to the other man. "Good work, Agent Mulder."
Together they made their way down to the motor pool, satisfied by the immediate reaction from the police force. Loaiza stood before them, hands on hips. "We're going to converge on hangar thirteen from all four sides. Now move! Mulder, you're with me."
He got in the passenger side of a waiting police car and Mulder climbed in the back. The driver turned around and grinned. Loaiza started introductions. "Mulder, this is my brother-in-law Vinnie."
Mulder gave Scarpelli a weary smile. "Hi again."
Scarpelli chuckled and pulled out of the garage at an alarming speed. He hadn't bothered to look before he entered traffic and so they were all thrown hard to their right as a cab smashed into the left side. Amid groans and loud curses, the two cops got out of the now useless car and tried to think of a new plan.
Mulder also got out but he already had a plan. He could see the light of a television camera. He dodged through the crowds of people and cars to reach Anna Cole and her cameraman. Her eyes lit up upon seeing the FBI agent.
She stuck the microphone in his face. "Give me this story and I'll worship you for the rest of my life."
Mulder smiled. "I was hoping for something a little more tangible."
The covered truck arrived in the hangar, soldiers filing out of the back, Major Carey in the lead. He walked over to the other ranking officer and saluted. "Colonel, let me take this opportunity to say that you are one ingenuitive bastard."
Stratton laughed heartily and pulled Carey into a brief embrace. "Thank you Major. You're not so bad yourself."
Carey turned and saluted the General. "Congratulations on your freedom, Sir."
"Thank you, but perhaps you should save it until we are all safely on the plane and out of this country."
Carey inclined his head. "Sir."
Stratton looked at the assembled soldiers, to teams joining as one. "Gentlemen, you have more than earned my admiration, my thanks, and a well paid vacation. Everyone on board." He waved at the large plane occupying the hangar.
News 8 Chopper
"Oh God." he groaned.
The pilot grinned. "What's the matter, don't like to fly?"
Mulder glared at him. "Not in helicopters, I'm prone to motion sickness."
Anna was listening intently to his every word, hoping for more insight into the hottest story she would ever have. "Then why are you doing this?"
"Because there are people out there who want to be on the ground as much as I do. Damn." He pointed to a plane cruising down the runway they were flying towards. "They've left the hangar already."
The pilot matched course with the huge aircraft, flying alongside. "Now what do we do?"
"Block their path. Get right in front of them so they can't take off."
"Excuse me?? I'm not playing chicken with a two hundred ton plane!" The pilot was looking at Mulder in disbelief.
The radio in the helicopter came to life. "Dulles, this is Northeast 619 requesting immediate clearance. I know that you cannot answer but we are running on fumes, we have to come down *now*."
"Oh Jesus, that's Scully's plane! Please, take this chopper down!"
"No way." The pilot was adamant.
Mulder chewed on his bottom lip, mind working furiously. "Okay, what about getting directly over it?"
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have no choice but to attempt an emergency landing. Assume crash position as instructed by your cabin attendants."
Scully leaned over and put her head between her knees, covering her head with her arms. Was this it? Was this how it was going to end? She hadn't even been able to say goodbye to Mulder. Oh Mulder. He would blame himself, she knew that for a fact and if her death didn't kill him then the guilt would.
She crossed herself and whispered a prayer to God. "Please take care of my family, keep them safe and healthy for years to come. Please don't let this destroy Mulder. I love him so much, I don't want him to suffer. Please God."
Mulder pulled open the side door of the helicopter and balanced on the edge.
"What do you think you're doing??" Anna shouted over the wind and the noise of the whirring blades.
'You said you wanted a big story!" He turned to the pilot, "Bring it as close as you can, right over the wing!"
"You're going to get yourself killed!" Anna complained.
"If she dies I won't have anything to live for!" With that he leapt from the chopper, landing on the broad wing of the 747, letting his knees absorb the jolt.
Now that he was on the plane he wasn't sure what to do. He looked about him and saw the flap on the back edge of the wing. He tore off his jacket and bunched it up as he moved to the flap, careful to maintain his balance. He shoved the jacket under the flap as it began to lower and stopped, unable to complete its motion.
In the cockpit Stratton's head came up at the sound of a strange buzzing noise. He glanced at Chavez, who was piloting the aircraft. "What is that?"
The General checked his instruments. "Something is not right." He looked in his mirror and saw a human figure clinging to the wing. "Mulder."
Major Carey had been standing behind the other two and spoke now. "I'll get rid of him."
The General snorted. "This time he better stay dead."
Stratton moved to follow Carey. "Don't worry about it, you worry about getting us in the air. You're the only man who can do it."
"That wing is fully fueled, you can't shoot him." Chavez warned.
Stratton nodded and joined Carey in the midsection of the plane. They opened the hatch and Carey jumped out on the wing, Stratton hanging back. He would let the Major do it, and if things got out of hand he could always step in.
Carey didn't see anyone on the wing. He began to turn around to say something to his companion when a force hit him from behind. A fist slammed into his side and Carey shoved his attacker off of him. Carey crouched low and whipped his foot out, kicking Mulder's legs out from under him and moving on top of the prone man, hitting him in the gut as hard as he could. He grabbed Mulder's jaw with one hand and squeezed, the other hand gripping the agent's injured shoulder.
Pain sizzled down his neck and arm, bringing Mulder closer to unconsciousness. He used the panic welling inside of him to push Carey off. But the soldier still had a firm hold and together they rolled to the front of the wing. Carey ended up on top and the Major smiled maniacally. "Too bad, Mulder, I kinda liked you."
Mulder sneered. "Well the feeling isn't mutual." He kicked up and to the side, throwing Carey off of him and sending the man sliding over the edge of the wing. The soldier dangled in front of the turbine, his fingers clawing at the smooth surface. But he couldn't hold on. The engine shuddered as a human body was torn apart as it passed through the spinning turbine.
Mulder was barely able to catch his breath before he was again on the defensive. Stratton had moved out onto the wing, a wicked looking knife in his hand. "Okay Mulder, it's just you and me now."
He lunged at the agent but Mulder was too exhausted to move as quickly as he needed. The blade sliced across his chest, not going too deep but drawing blood just the same. Then the Colonel tackled Mulder, bringing the knife up to cut his throat.
Mulder acted on instinct, sinking his teeth into Stratton's hand, ripping a chunk of flesh from the tender area. Stratton dropped the knife and fell back in surprise, allowing Mulder the chance to get back on his feet. He swung at the Colonel but the experienced soldier easily caught the fist and twisted Mulder's arm, at the same time kicking him from behind. Mulder was tossed backwards, sliding a few feet closer to the tip of the wing. He scrambled to his feet, trying again to make contact with Stratton. This time he was able to get a good right jab to the soldier's side and Stratton was stunned long enough for Mulder to plant his foot in the Colonel's ribs.
Staggering a few paces back, Stratton was angered by the turn of events, renewing his attack with greater fervor. He caught Mulder's next swing and came close to knee the agent in the ribs. Mulder wrapped his arms around Stratton in a body lock, punching his side several times. Stratton freed an arm and got a hold of Mulder's shoulders, flipping him over so that he stumbled away. Whipping around, his leg high, he kicked the agent in the head, toppling the injured man easily.
This time Mulder's slide wasn't stopped after a few feet. He continued to be dragged by gravity all the way to the tip of the wing and right over the edge. Miraculously he managed to grab a hold of the fuel panel lever and twisted frantically at his handhold.
Stratton sauntered over and crouched down to lean over Mulder. "You are one resilient son of a bitch. But not this time." He shoved his heel into Mulder's face and the agent lost his grip, plummeting to the icy runway. Stratton walked to the flap and removed the jacket, tossing it after its owner. He returned to the interior of the plane and slammed the hatch shut. Moving to the front he took one of the glasses of champagne offered to him by one of his soldiers.
"Let us salute to our victory and to all those who died for the cause!" They all raised their glasses and toasted to their good fortune.
Back on the runway Mulder was still conscious, ignoring the fire radiating from his arm, his torso, Hell, his entire body. He searched his pockets and retrieved the lighter given to him by Franks, letting out a small cry of relief when he found it. His hand was bleeding from where it had caught on the panel to the fuel. The *open* panel. He flipped the lighter's cover and switched on the little flame.
"Let's see how resilient *you* are, you bastard." He lowered the lighter to the ground where the trail of gas that had poured from the plane ignited. The flame raced up the stream, appearing to float in mid air as it hungrily ate up the fuel, speeding towards the wing of the airborne craft. Upon reaching the stored source of fuel the fire engulfed the plane, resulting in an explosion that could be seen for miles.
The wreckage crashed to the ground, leaving behind it a fiery trail. Mulder started to laugh hysterically, rolling onto his back and shouting to the sky, "Here's your landing light, Scully!"
The pilots of Flight 619 saw the fire and recognized it for what it was. A way home. They brought the aircraft down quickly, not quite a perfect landing but drastically better than the one they had expected.
Back in the tower a cheer was going up among the controllers, Franks and Thames among them. "They used the fire to see!" Thames shouted.
"They all can!" Franks replied. "Look, they're doing it!" Plane after plane coasted into the airport, moving away to leave room for the other crafts behind them.
Thames whalloped Franks on the back and they laughed jubilantly, tears of joy streaming down their faces.
The runways were in chaos. Planes parked haphazardly about them, ambulances and fire trucks scattered throughout. Emergency exit slides inflated at the hatches of planes, people sliding down them into the arms of waiting emergency personnel.
Mulder wandered amid the milling people, his hoarse voice raised above the noise. "Scully!" He moved from plane to plane, searching for his partner, for his lover, for his life. "Scully!"
Dana Scully gripped the elderly woman's elbow and helped her to sit at the top of the slide. Audrey smiled at the young woman and pushed off, slipping down the air filled ramp. She had been the last passenger on the plane, so Scully now allowed herself to leave the aircraft. She thanked the fireman waiting at the bottom and walked a few paces away, taking in the scene before her.
Her head snapped around, her eyes flitting across the faces of the people surrounding her. Had she imagined it?
No! There it was. "Mulder!"
"Scu-" He stopped when he saw her, her hair tossed in the wind, silhouetted by the flames he had created.
He ran to her, sweeping her into a huge embrace, placing kisses all over her face. "I thought I'd never see you again." he sobbed.
"So did I!" She was crying too, emotions overwhelming her.
"God, I love you so much, Dana." He stared into her eyes, his hands caressing her cheeks. He brought his lips to meet hers, tenderly expressing his love.
Anna Cole was watching from a distance, her own eyes misty. "That's beautiful." she murmured.
"Yeah, it sure is." Dave agreed, his camera pointed at the couple, capturing their intimate moment.
Anna placed her hand over the lens. "Let's find another story."
Releasing Scully from the kiss he hugged her tightly again. "I love you."
"I love you too, Mulder." she said into his neck. "Mulder, why does this kind of thing always happen to us?"
He laughed at that. "Just lucky I guess. C'mon, let's go home."
"Oh no you don't, you're going to a hospital." she corrected, taking in his appearance for the first time. He looked terrible. Blood stained his shirt, bruises and cuts decorated his face and what skin she could see. The bright smile on his face seemed out of place.
"But Scully, it's Christmas."
"Yes G-man, it is. And for your present I'll keep my promise and share that bed with you. Hospital regulations be damned."
He chuckled, opening his mouth to reply. A high pitched honking diverted his attention. "Hey, FBI, c'mon!" Ed was driving up behind them on his cart, light flashing, siren beeping. "Hey Mulder, hop on in here, get your lady in here!"
"Hey Ed. What a day we've had, huh?" Mulder gingerly lowered himself onto the cart, pulling Scully into his lap.
"I'll say. But they've got another thing coming if they think I'm gonna clean up this mess!" He started to pull away but a police car blocked their path.
Captain Loaiza got out, waving a piece of paper in his hand. "Hey Mulder! Vinnie says you got a parking ticket in front of my airport!"
Mulder nodded reluctantly, sneaking a glance at Scully, who for her part was trying not to smile.
Loaiza took the paper in both hands and tore it into tiny pieces, flinging them into the air when he was done. "What the Hell, it's Christmas!" He returned to his car and headed back to the mountain of work waiting for him.
Ed drove slowly away from the conglomeration of planes, vehicles, and people, reveling in the happiness of the moment. Mulder held Scully close, whispering in her ear, "Merry Christmas my love."
Scully lifted her head and he saw tears in her eyes. She kissed him gently. "Merry Christmas."
Yup, you guessed it! It was Die Hard 2: Die Harder.