Ororo stared at the Cancer Man, her expression one of absolute amazement. But then her blue eyes narrowed into angry slits. She released her hold on Rogue, who lay sprawled across her lap, and raised her hands slowly.
"That is quite enough." Bolts of pure blue-white light seemed to fly from her hands. Mulder was forced to shield his eyes as the light streaked around the room. It sizzled and hissed like some living thing, and Mulder watched the soldiers writhe and scream as the lightning wrapped around them, pierced them. Even Cancer Man had no defense against the white light that clawed at him. It had to be lightning, Mulder thought as the soldiers fell. He'd seen it before—a boy who could call lightning from the sky, be struck by it, and walk away unharmed. But this was a little different. That boy had not been able to control lightning, or to generate it.
The brilliant light cut out abruptly and Mulder tried to blink away the glare spots that danced before his eyes. He turned at the sound of Remy's chuckle.
"Now dat's more like it." Behind him, Scully stared at the tall man, her expression dazed. She looked from him to Ororo, and then to the bodies scattered all around them. Then she went to the nearest soldier and squatted down, reaching for his neck.
"He is alive, Agent Scully," said Ororo calmly. Her perfect composure was just as unnerving as the Cajun's laughter.
"We better be movin'." Remy gestured to Mulder to help him as he knelt beside Ororo and carefully lifted Rogue out of her lap. Mulder hesitantly offered Ororo his arm. She smiled tightly, and allowed him to help her to her feet. She was surprisingly light as she leaned her weight against him.
"Elizabeth." Ororo glanced back at the other woman when she did not respond. "Elizabeth?" Betsy stood stiffly in something that would have resembled a parade rest in anyone with less unusual hair. Her head was turned slightly upward, and her eyes were empty.
Remy glanced at Ororo. "Got a bad feelin' 'bout dat." He transfered Rogue to a shoulder-carry and dipped his hand into his jacket. Mulder wasn't certain what to think when that hand re-emerged with a couple of playing cards.
Betsy seemed to snap out of her daze. "We have to get out of here. Now!" To Mulder, she sounded frightened. Without so much as a glance at the others, she darted to the door and slipped through it. Remy followed her at a trot, and Ororo urged Mulder to follow as well. With a glance at Dana, he did so. Dana only shrugged, then retrieved their weapons from the unconscious soldiers who held them before bringing up the rear of the odd procession.
They moved through the sterile halls at breakneck speed. Mulder found himself falling behind until Scully came up on the other side of Ororo and helped to support the injured woman. Mulder was actually somewhat amazed by how well she held up, considering the amount of blood that was soaking down the leg of her pants.
Betsy slid to an abrupt halt in front of them. "No good. Soldiers." She pointed in the direction they were headed.
"Den it's time f' a detour, neh?" Remy glanced at Ororo as he raised the hand that still held those playing cards. Ororo nodded.
"Move back," Ororo told Mulder. "Around the corner. That should be enough to shield us from the explosion."
"The explosion?" Scully asked as they backed away. The turn in the hall was just a few paces behind them. On the other side of the Cajun, Betsy, too, was moving away.
As they pulled Ororo back into the other hall, she answered, "Yes. Remy is something of an... explosives expert." The roar of a sizable blast punctuated her statement. Mulder moved forward to look around the corner. Remy stood in front of a jagged hole where the wall had once been. Through the gap, Mulder could see open ground and beyond it, the perimeter fence. Sirens wailed outside as loudly as in, and floodlights lit the area as brightly as the sun.
"Where, exactly, do you think he was hiding the C-4?" Mulder murmured to Dana. Remy was both tall and lean, and did not appear to favor baggy styles. Mulder was pretty certain he would have noticed that kind of bulge, even in his jacket. It would have taken a sizable chunk of plastique to blow that hole.
Mulder and Scully brought Ororo forward as the smoke began to clear. Remy ducked through the hole he'd made and they followed. Betsy must have been just behind them, for she almost seemed to materialize at Remy's elbow.
"Now where?" Remy demanded and Betsy pointed off to their right. They turned that direction and started across the open ground at a dead run. Ororo's breath came in ragged gasps, but she stayed on her feet and ran with the rest of them. Still, it was impossible to think that they wouldn't be seen. Mulder spotted the soldiers that were running the length of the rooftop behind them. They would soon be in a position to shoot, and they would have a clear field of fire.
"Soldiers! On the roof!" he shouted at the backs of the two in front of him. Betsy turned, allowing the three of them to pass her as she slowed.
"I've got them!" she told Mulder and waved him after Remy. Mulder had no idea what she might be able to do, but he wasn't going to argue. He'd already seen a handful of miracles from these people. But that didn't keep the spot between his shoulder blades from itching in anticipation of a bullet. He risked a quick glance back as he ran. Betsy stood with her hands to her temples, staring at the roof. Strangely, she reminded him of a butterfly standing there, though he couldn't say why. And there was no sign of the soldiers.
Remy had already reached their quarry by the time Betsy rejoined them. It was a civilian HumVee, parked at the edge of a small side lot. Remy made another one of those cat-like leaps into the back of the vehicle, and laid Rogue down gently. Then he dropped into the driver's seat and broke the steering column and ignition open with the speed and dexterity of an accomplished carjacker.
"This just keeps getting better," he heard Scully mutter as she slid into the passenger seat. Remy glanced at her, but if he said anything, Mulder didn't hear it. He was too busy helping Ororo up into the back seat. Betsy hopped up into the vehicle and helped from that side, and they managed to lift her in without too much more trauma to her injured leg. The engine roared to life as Mulder scrambled to get aboard. Remy peeled out at high speed, forcing Mulder to grab on to avoid being tossed out of the open-topped car.
"Over there! The gate!" Scully had to shout to be heard over the engine and the sudden staccato of gunfire that chased them. Remy swung the wheel in the direction she was pointing, and Mulder could see the thick steel beams of the front gate. It was closed solidly, with two military vehicles parked in front of it. Soldiers watched them approach from their covered positions behind the two trucks. Despite the reception waiting for them, Remy turned the HumVee in line with the gate and floored it.
"What are you doing?!" Scully yelled at him. In response, he grabbed her arm and dragged her toward him.
"Take the wheel!"
"Take the wheel!" He climbed out of the driver's seat. Wide-eyed, Scully slid over to take his place. When their reckless speed began to slow, he snapped, "Floor it, chere!" and she increased their pace. They were only about fifty yards from the closed gate.
"What are you going to do?" Mulder yelled from the back. Remy ignored him. He was now standing up in the passenger seat, despite the bullets that were flying around them as the soldiers opened fire. He leaned down to talk to Scully.
"Whatever happens, don' stop." His voice was magnetic.
"Right," she answered tightly. Her red hair whipped about her face, but Mulder knew the grim expression beneath it. If Remy didn't have some magic means of opening that gate, they were going to slam right into it, full speed.
Then Remy reached into his coat and pulled something out. Something that glowed a lurid pink in his hand. He pulled back and threw a sidearm fastball towards the gate and the soldiers. Whatever it was in his hand streaked toward its target, separating into four separate, glowing objects. The two on the ends slammed into the two trucks, while the two in the middle passed between the trucks to strike the gate directly. The trucks exploded in fantastic fireballs that tossed the burning chunks of twisted metal away from the gate like toys. A moment later the gate exploded with the same fury.
Mulder ducked as they hit the wall of fire, bracing himself for an impact that never came. They barreled through the gateway, bouncing through the crater left by the explosion, and careened off along the road away from Turing-Rocheland. Mulder turned to look behind them, but he saw no signs of pursuit. All he could see was fire against the dark Southern night, and the burning skeleton of one of the trucks.
About ten minutes later, Dana Scully slowed the HumVee and pulled over to the side of the road. She leaned her head back against the headrest briefly and closed her eyes, thinking that her Academy driving instructor would be proud of her.
"We gon' have visitors?" Remy asked Betsy, who shook her head.
"They will not risk exposing themselves."
Behind Dana, Mulder leaned forward and squeezed her shoulder. "How are you doing?" he asked. He made no effort to mask the concern in his voice.
Dana threw him a wry smile, but didn't feel like trying to voice her answer. There were too many reactions and emotions tumbling around inside her to put into words. But Mulder seemed satisfied with her smile.
"What now?" he asked Remy.
"I should take a look at Ororo's leg," Dana added before Remy could answer. Ororo leaned against Betsy, eyes closed. Dana could see her breathing gently, but was certain she was unconscious. She had lost a lot of blood. "She needs to go to a hospital, though." Dana looked up at Remy, who seemed to have taken Ororo's place as leader. "There isn't much I can do for her here."
He nodded in understanding. "Do what y' can, chere. We got friends comin'."
"What kind of friends?" Mulder asked.
Remy turned to look at him. "You always ask dis many questions?"
Mulder grinned. "Yes." Remy simply rolled his eyes and got out of the car to help Dana and Betsy lift Ororo and carry her to a grassy patch beside the road. They laid her down and Dana was unsurprised when Betsy produced a knife from somewhere on her person and began to cut away the blood-soaked pant leg. Mulder stood behind them, watching. After a moment, Remy got up and went to get Rogue. He laid her down on the grass a short distance away. A glance told Dana that she, too, was losing blood, but there was less that Dana could do for her than for Ororo.
As Dana began to try to locate the bullet, she heard a low moan and turned her head to see Rogue's eyes flutter open. She blinked several times, then tried to sit up, falling back with a cry of pain.
"What in the world...?" It was hardly more than a whisper, in a thick Southern drawl.
"Easy, petite. Don' try t' move." Remy helped her to settle back on the grass, his expression almost sick with relief. Rogue turned her head, slowly focusing on him.
"Remy?" It seemed to take her a moment to recognize him. "What... happened?"
"Hush." He put a gloved finger to her lips. She batted his hand away.
"Where am ah?" Her voice was growing stronger, though Dana could clearly hear the slurring effect of the drugs she'd been given.
Remy snorted and rubbed the back of his hand, as if Rogue had slapped him hard enough to sting. He seemed to be hanging on to a deeply buried anger, and she wondered briefly what kind of relationship the two might have. Then she firmly told herself it was none of her business and went back to work on Ororo.
"Y' in Florida, chere." Remy's voice had lost its gentleness.
"What happened to Iowa?" Rogue craned her neck to look around, and spied Ororo. "Storm?" She was immediately concerned.
"Your friend is going to be all right," Mulder supplied helpfully and Rogue appeared to notice him for the first time.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Fox Mulder, and this is Dana Scully." He waved in Dana's direction. "We're with the FBI."
Rogue blinked at him in surprise. "FBI? I was dreamin' 'bout the FBI." Her voice trailed off as her eyes unfocused. She was very definitely still in the throes of the sedatives she'd been fed. "All those little gray geezers dressed in suits... Just like yours." She waggled her fingers at Mulder. "Kept crowdin' all around me. Ah tried ta run..." Her expression turned pleading as she looked back at Remy. "Ah did. But they were too strong... " She trailed off again as Remy shushed her.
Mulder knelt beside Rogue, his expression intense. "Rogue, what did these gray men look like?"
"Mulder!" Dana was appalled. He looked up in surprise at her sharp tone. "It's bad enough that it was our own government that did this," she continued heatedly. "Don't try to bring aliens into it."
Remy turned sharply to look at her, then over at Betsy. Dana followed his gaze, but could interpret nothing of the other woman's expression. Mulder, too, looked between them, drawing his own conclusions. Dana bit back her frustration. The real world was bad enough. Why did he always have to see something more in everything?
"Are there aliens involved in this?" Mulder asked the two.
Remy and Betsy traded glances as if conferring, and then Betsy cracked the first real smile Dana had seen. It was a rather predatory expression. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you," she told Mulder.
Dana ducked her head, trying to hide her smile, and heard Remy chuckle. Mulder's expression was absolutely priceless. But then Betsy sobered. "You will find the truth eventually, Agent Mulder," she said quietly. To Dana, it almost sounded like a prophecy and she felt a chill. Mulder, too, seemed to feel the weight of her statement because he didn't respond.
To cover her sudden discomfort, Dana turned back to her examination. The bullet was imbedded in the femur, and Dana suspected that the bone was fractured. She would need to see an X-ray to be sure, though. She set about using Ororo's remaining pant leg to bandage the wound.
"He's here." Betsy's sudden announcement made her look up and then around. She saw the man who appeared to have just stepped out of the trees and tried not to gape at him. An Aborigine? But that was certainly what he looked like. He was all of about five feet tall, with a graying beard and a solemn expression. He was dressed in a traditional loincloth, and held a bola in one hand. Dana glanced at Mulder, who shrugged. The Aborigine said nothing, but simply stood waiting.
"I take it this is the friend you were waiting for?" Mulder asked.
Remy nodded. "Oui." He crouched down and gathered Rogue up in his arms. She began to protest but quit as a sudden stab of pain stole her breath away. Betsy picked up Ororo's still form, and Dana was impressed by how easily she raised the larger woman.
The Aborigine turned and stepped back between the trees. Remy took a step to follow him, then hesitated. He turned back towards Mulder and Scully. "We owe y' bot' a debt-- More dan y' c'n guess." He looked between them. "If y' ever run into dat 'truth' an' y' need our help, jus' call. We'll be dere."
Mulder's puzzled expression mirrored Dana's own. "Call you how?"
"You will know." Betsy's expression was full of hidden meaning. Mulder opened his mouth to ask her what she meant, but she turned her back and walked after the Aborigine.
"Bon soir, mes amis," said Remy with a nod, then he, too, turned away. Dana and Mulder watched as he disappeared between the trees after the others. A few moments later, they heard the peculiar buzzing sound that Dana knew came from the Aborigine's bola. The sound abruptly cut out, and Dana and Mulder looked at each other.
"Do you think, if we went in there, we would stand a chance of finding them?" Mulder asked.
Dana stifled a snort. "No."
Together, they walked toward the HumVee. Mulder climbed in behind the wheel and Dana was content to take the passenger seat. She laid her head back against the rest and closed her eyes. She felt Mulder put the car in gear and pull back onto the road.
"What do you think they really were?" Mulder asked after a few moments.
Dana Scully did not believe in Mulder's little gray men, or in ghost or werewolves, telepathy or magic. But did know that those people had been a little bit more than human. She didn't open her eyes.
"They were mutants, Mulder."