Chapter 14

Observe! The children of the new master species. The tall Colonist nodded in the direction of the newly gestated life forms. They hunger.

Debbie gasped along with several others as the new reptilian aliens began to advance upon them. They lumbered slowly forward, playing with their prey the way a cat might with a mouse. The folds of their mouths slid back to reveal row after row of blade-like fangs. They rubbed their sinewy arms and hands together as they approached the humans, anxious to feast upon a delicious meal.

As the scaly aliens approached, the band of survivors drew closer and closer together until there was nowhere else to go. Scully could feel the tight mass of bodies behind her quiver in fear. Off to the side, Debbie had hold of William and was pressing his face against her body. "Don't look," she was sobbing. "Look away." Jim had hold of both his wife and adoptive son in a hug, squeezing them into a sandwich. His lower lip was trembling and tears were streaming from his eyes in a steady waterfall. Mulder took Scully in his shaking arms and brought her close.

No. It couldn't end like this. She wouldn't let it. Scully pushed away from Mulder and made her way to the front of the tight circle of survivors. Mulder grabbed for her, uttering a quick "What are you doing?!" but Scully paid him no attention. With her newly discovered immortality, she could fight the aliens off without fear of death. But there were so many of them. Already, the beastly immature Colonists had their tiny group surrounded on all sides. There was no way Scully could keep them all at bay. There were simply too many.

William, she decided. No matter what happens, William is my number one priority.

She outstretched her arms and legs as far as they would go. She looked as if she was about to start with a series of jumping jacks. But she had to make herself as big as possible, better to function has a human shield.

Beyond the slithering troops of the greenish aliens with their claws and fangs, and standing off to the side of the other, more delicate fully-grown Colonists, was Dona Lola. She had her arms crossed and her head was tilted to one side. One of her trademark sadistic grins was evident on her face as she prepared to watch the last bit of humanity left on Earth go up in flames.

There was no time for Scully to think about her promise to kill her. For the reptilian aliens were drawing up on their hind-legs. As they stored up momentum, they made a chilling high-pitched hissing noise. Feral. Strong. Bloodthirsty.

Scully gulped. A lump had formed in her throat, but she paid it no mind. This was it. William. Just protect William if you can't protect anybody else.

And then, like a coiled-up spring, the aliens pounced. They flew through the air hissing and screeching, their talons fully extended, their fangs bared for all to see.

They were no more than three feet away when a series of gut-wrenching explosions shattered the air. In a flash, the pouncing aliens erupted into flame and dropped like a stone back to the ground. The crowd of survivors screamed in surprise at the sudden incineration. Scully turned this way and that in a frenzy, making sure that all the "baby Colonists" were dead. They were. They were nothing more than charred blackened ash piles.

What had just happened? What the-

"LOOK!!" Somebody screamed.

Scully and the others looked up just in time to see another ship come careening out of nowhere. It was circular instead of triangular and was of cruder construction than the others. It dipped low in the sky, dodging lightning strikes, and clipped the side of one of the Colonists' triangle spaceships – sending it hurtling through the air, off-course.

The circular ship was joined with others like it. They came flying in from every direction, north, south, east, and west. There were dozens of them. They swept through the sky on crash-courses with the other ships. Some made direct hits, but more often than not, the triangle ships were able to easily out-maneuver them.

There was no time for the human survivors to register this new information that was overloading their brains. They just stood stupidly in their tight circle, watching the amazing air ballet that was unfolding in the raging skies above.

Suddenly, a savage battle cry emanated from off to the side. Scully turned her attention to this new commotion and saw a stampede of dark-haired, faceless men clad in black jumpsuits charging down the forest hills. The alien Rebels! They were swinging their arms crazily and cried out orders to each other in their native language. They ran down the side of the steep hill like a big black wave, hooting and hollering – ready for war.

Scully's heart leapt with new hope at the sight of these alien reinforcements. Never before in her life had she been so overjoyed to see anyone or anything. The bedlam of the charging Rebels and their ships attacking broke the attention of their captors.

"Run!" Mulder screamed over the pulsating explosions as the ships exchanged invisible cannon fire with one another.

Scully couldn't agree more. She echoed Mulder's order to the rest of the group, and they moved together as one big blob toward the Mount Weather complex up ahead.

They were about halfway there when a sequence of high-pitched squeals stopped them dead. Across from the forested hill where the Rebels dropped in at, a new surge of reptilian Oiler-derived Colonists came flooding into the area. The tiny group of humans found themselves stuck smack dab in between the two charging alien species.

Chaos erupted. The tight-knit group fractured off into multiple sections. Part continued on for the gates of Mount Weather while others, confused by the ruckus, became confused and turned around and ran back into the mayhem.

It was every man for himself now.

In the uproar, Scully lost sight of Mulder. He disappeared into the churning mass of humans and aliens, perhaps never to be seen again. But she did still have an eye on William. The boy had lost his parents and was standing in the middle of the road leading to the Mount Weather complex with a bewildered expression on his face. Scully ran forward and took him roughly by the hand. Without a word, she pulled him along at breakneck speed toward the safety of the military instillation ahead. She was pulling at him so hard, and running so fast, that she was in danger of popping his arm out of the socket. But that was of no consequence now. The tunnel leading into the bowels of Mount Weather was straight ahead! If they just kept running they could make it!

She was vaguely aware of William yelling at her as they fled. He was saying something about finding Jim and Debbie. Scully didn't answer his questions. It wasn't that she didn't care; it was just that she could only think about one thing at a time right now and that one thing on her mind was getting her child to safety.

"SCREEE!!!!!"

Whipping her head around, Scully saw an immature Colonist bounding toward them both. It was using both its front arms and its hind legs to cut the distance between it and them in half. A long black tongue darted out between the two rows of fangs furiously and its mouth was stretched out wide to accommodate for its future meal.

"William, keep running!!" Scully cried as she prepared to face down the alien herself. She couldn't see William, but she prayed he was taking her orders.

The alien was coming closer.

Okay. I can do this. It wasn't like she had to kill it or anything. She just had to distract it long enough so that William could find a hiding place inside the complex.

The alien was galloping toward her now. But it seemed to be looking beyond her. It wasn't focused on her. William was its prey.

Over my dead body, thought Scully.

As the alien whizzed past her, on its way to devour the boy, Scully stuck out her hand and grabbed the creature by its neck. She was momentarily struck by how cold its skin felt. Cold and slimy. But she was snapped back to attention as the alien began to thrash its body about. It was trying to break the hold.

The monster was strong, but Scully's resolve was stronger than the beast's brute muscle and she refused to let go.

When it became clear that the alien wasn't going to be able to toss her off, it decided on another course of action. With a sweeping gesture of its arm, it ripped out Scully's throat and sliced off her left arm in one quick movement.

She fell to the ground, bleeding profusely. She could feel her body shudder and knew she was on the verge of blacking out. Somehow, she willed herself to stay awake. With her good hand, she propped herself up and scanned the horizon for William. Where was he?! She couldn't see! All she could see was a mass of black jumpsuited Rebels intermingled with Colonists and the occasional "Costco Survivor". The Rebels were putting up a good fight, setting the other aliens aflame with their cattle-prod weapons, but it wasn't enough. The Colonists outnumbered them at least 5 to 1 and they were simply too quick to be attacked for the most part.

But where was William? Maybe he had already made it inside! Maybe he was safe!

No such luck. Scully saw him, running frantically past the warring aliens toward the tunnel gates. He was running as fast as his legs could carry him, but it wasn't fast enough. The alien, that just seconds ago had injured Scully, was lunging at him.

Scully tried to scream at him to watch out, but all that came out of her mouth was a soft whistling noise.

William! He didn't have any idea what was behind him. He had no idea he was about to die…

There was no way she would reach him in time to save him, but Scully was determined to try. She got to her feet shakily and took off. She pumped her arms to get the better bang for each step and took huge awkward leaps. But with her damaged (yet healing) throat, she was having difficult breathing and couldn't quite get enough air in her lungs to run fast enough.

Something went hurtling past her head, something long and thin. It shot into the sky ahead and came tumbling down right on top of the alien pursuing William. It made a last-second mid-air adjustment and skewered the creature through the back of the neck. The alien let out an ear-splitting howl and dropped to its knees, trying to dislodge the thing that had punctured its neck. (The thing in question was a sort of mechanical javelin weapon, about four feet long with a thin spade-shape blade on the end of it.)

But after a few seconds of painful yelping, the alien fell facedown into the dirt. Dead.

Scully turned her head and saw a faceless Rebel, his hands still in the position he had used to throw the weapon. She bobbed her head up and down in a hurried "thank-you" nod and took off running once more. Her neck had completely healed by this time (And she had grown a new hand as well. It was an ugly pasty color and was a little smaller than the other, but it was a hand nonetheless.) and she was able to make good time. She grabbed his upper arm and swept him along the battlefield toward Mount Weather.

Once inside the relative safety of the tunnel entrance, Scully allowed herself a quick breather. William was beside her, unhurt. That much was fine and right with the world. And there was Mulder, standing next to Marita and Bryce. When he saw her, he gave her a quick "thank God you're alive" squeeze.

"Where are my parents?" William's eyes bulged in their sockets as he examined the faces around him. "I don't see them! They're still out there! I've gotta find them!" He exclaimed as he took a step back outside.

Mulder seized the boy by the waist and held him fast. "It's too dangerous!"

"Let me go! They're out there! MOM!!! DAD!!!"

Were they out there? Were they really? Scully looked about the few people gathered and saw that Jim and Debbie were not present. She then looked back outside. The night sky was flashing with lighting mixed with flame. Above, the Rebel and Colonist ships duked it out with one another while the enormous Space-Palace oscillated in between them silently. Below, it was a war-zone.

If Jim and Debbie were out there, they were as good as dead.

It was a dream. Or more precisely, a nightmare. There was no other explanation. Debbie kept telling herself that as she ran around blindly, not sure which way to turn. The noise was overwhelming! The shrieking of the gray/green aliens, the shouting of the faceless ones, and once every few minutes or so there would be a tremendous explosion as the ships overhead fired upon one another – the sound of which made Debbie's heart sink into her stomach like she was on a roller coaster.

What was she doing here? WHAT in the WORLD was she doing here?! She was just a simple housewife for God's sake! How did she wind up here, amid the battle for Earth? It wasn't real. This wasn't happening.

Something exploded close by, sending mounds of dirt and rock spewing up into the air. Debbie shrieked and fell to the ground. She began to sob. She didn't know what to do! She didn't understand what was happening! She was going crazy! Never in her life had she felt so helpless. All she could do was sit and cry. She wasn't of any use to anybody.

But then she heard a scream off in the distance. It was louder than the explosions or the alien battle cries. And it sounded familiar, too. Debbie got back to her feet and dried her eyes. There was something about that scream that was moving her to action. But what…

Oh. Oh, no!

Jim was there, a good twenty feet away. He had fallen onto his back and was using his hands to crawl away backwards from one of those scary reptile-aliens. The alien had noticed him and was making its way toward him.

All it took was one look at its extended claws and its powerful arms to motivate Debbie. She galloped forward, nearly tripping over upraised rocks and uneven pavement. Her eyes never strayed from her husband. He was screaming bloody murder now and was using his arms as a shield. The alien was crouching low, ready to pounce.

If only she had a weapon! Anything!

Yes!! Up ahead, she spotted something glittering on the ground near the outstretched hand of a dead Rebel. It was one of those cattle-prod things! She didn't take time to retrieve it by stopping and bending down. Instead, she kept running and scooped it up with her hand as she passed by it.

Debbie took a quick glance at the strange weapon in her hands. It was silver and pretty compact. But how in the blazes did it work? There were two tiny red buttons near the top of the thing and she franticly pressed them both. Nothing happened. Wasn't it supposed to shoot fire or something?! Why wasn't it working? What was wrong?!

"AHHHH!!"

Jim.

The muscles in the alien's legs flexed in slow motion and Debbie knew that if she was going to act, she had to act now.

Screaming like some mad cavewoman, Debbie swung the cattle-prod weapon like a baseball bat. The tip connected solidly with the side of the alien's head. There was a soft tick noise; a shower of orange sparks and the monster erupted into flame. Both Jim and Debbie watched in horror as the thing fell backwards, dissolving into a pile of green goo.

"You okay?" Debbie cried.

Jim nodded, wide-eyed, and got up off the ground.

Debbie jammed the cattle-prod into her husband's hands. "Here. Take it. I. . . don't want it anymore."

He took it and off they ran toward Mount Weather, hand in hand.

"We got to do something!" Alfeo pumped the sawed-off shotgun in his hands and starting barking orders at the rest of the armed survivors in the tunnel. "I'm gonna divide us into squads. Squad A, you'll go out in a few minutes. Squad B, you go after them. Squad C and D, split off into two and head for opposite ends of the field. Okay, let's move out and-"

Marita looked at him as if he had lost his mind. "What are you doing?"

"Planning a counterattack! You're in Squad C."

The night air outside exploded into a ball of flame. The temperature inside the cool cave-tunnel rose about twenty degrees. Marita and the others crouched low instinctively. "Don't be an idiot!" She cried, more vocal than she had been in ages. "You wouldn't stand a chance out there!"

"We have guns! Guns! We can take 'em out!"

"Listen to me! Guns won't have any effect! The only way to kill one is-"

But Alfeo wasn't in the mood for a lecture on alien anatomy. Shotgun in hand, he stormed out of the tunnel and out onto the flaming battlefield.

"Somebody stop him!" Marita yelled to anyone brave enough to go after the brash young man. "The idiot's going to get himself killed!"

Just as the last words were out of her mouth, there came a deep BLAM from outside. Heads turned to find Alfeo standing toe-to-toe with a mature gray Colonist. Judging by the loud popping noise and the smoke curling out of the barrel of the shotgun, it could be assumed that he had fired upon the E.T.

Sure enough, a bright green liquid began to bubble up from the Colonist's wound. Alfeo's face was aglow with an absurd amount of pride. He had just killed an alien! But then his smile faltered. His dark eyes blinked rapidly. The shotgun dropped from his hand and he started to gasp for air. The Colonist, uninjured, walked calmly forward. It's toxic blood oozing from multiple cuts caused by the shotgun shrapnel.

Alfeo cried out in pain and clawed at his eyes with his fingers as the toxin poisoned the air.

"I'm going after him," Mulder announced.

"It's too late," Marita said. "You'll be affected too! Mulder. Mulder!"

But it was no use. He was already sprinting across the field. A brave man, but also foolish. Didn't he know that once he got within five yards of the alien, he'd succumb to the same poison? Marita didn't understand his devotion to a man he had only first met a few days ago.

She looked away. Maybe they would have a better chance if she weren't looking. But that was foolish.

All at once, there came a loud pop and a sizzling noise. The crowd around her broke out into cheers. Marita turned and saw Jim and Debbie rushing toward them. Jim had one of the Rebel's weapons in his hands and had just used it to set the bleeding Colonist alight. Mulder was then able to make his way to Alfeo unharmed. He scooped up the other man in his arms and carried him back to the tunnel.

The four of them were able to make it to the complex safely. Once William had seen that his adoptive parents were alive and well, he hugged both of them with teary eyes. "I'm so glad you're safe!"

"We're not safe," Marita said, breaking up the happy moment. "We're still in danger here. We need to move further inside. Now!"

At the sound of her authoritative voice, the crowd rushed deeper into the underground tunnel. A dozen different corridors branched off from the main shaft, but Marita didn't take any of them. She led the group charge. From the way she was running, it was clear she knew where she was going.

"In here! Now!" Marita threw open a thick metal door in the rock that led to a stairwell. The others rushed past her and when she saw that nobody else was coming, she closed the door behind her.

The noise from outside, the explosions and the screaming, was muffled in the stairway. In fact they were so distant, it was hard to believe that a war was going on outside at all.

Once things were settling down a little, Scully spoke up to ask if anyone was injured. Mulder nodded and presented her Alfeo. The man was breathing heavily. The skin around his eyes and nose was red and puffy. Blistered and swollen almost shut.

"The blood," Mulder said. He didn't have to elaborate.

"How long was he exposed to it?" Scully asked, moving closer to the wounded man.

"Not long. Maybe a few seconds."

"Good." Scully put two of her fingers to the side of Alfeo's throat. "His pulse is a little thready, but he'll be okay." She looked around. "Anybody else hurt?"

The people crammed together in the stairwell were silent. They had a few cuts and scrapes but nothing deadly serious. They had been lucky. The few survivors gathered were only a fraction of the 30 or more people they had before.

Noticing this for himself, Mulder looked up suddenly. "Elijah. Has anybody seen Elijah?"

Bryce gulped loudly. "He's dead."

Mulder turned on the other man swiftly. "How do you know that? Did you actually see him? Don't say that unless you-"

"I saw him." Bryce patted Mulder on the shoulder in a fatherly way. "He's dead."

Mulder hung his head and sank against the gleaming white walls of the stairwell. "It has to end tonight," he whispered. His eyes met with Scully. "I'm so tired. I don't have the energy to live even one more day like this. It has to end tonight."

No sooner had he said that when the stairway lights went out, plunging everything into complete murky darkness. In one giant voice, the survivors screamed at the sudden absence of light. The only person who remained even slightly calm was Marita. And it was her silence that allowed her to hear something that the others weren't able to.

"Sshh!!" She called out over the commotion. "Did you hear that?"

Jim perked his head up like a dog. "Yeah. A crunching noise? But what is it?"

There was no time to answer his question. Without warning, the top of the stairway came twisting off and everyone inside was caught up into a swirling vortex.

In the split second after the roof of the stairwell was blown off, Scully could clearly see the Space-Palace hovering in the night sky overhead. It had positioned itself directly above the complex, its many levels spinning, the odd symbols glowing purple against its glossy black surface. The spikes running along its bottom had extended further out and bright pink bolts of energy crackled between them, forming an electric web.

Then came the deafening screeching of metal as the stairs and landing erupted beneath them. The walls collapsed inward and twisted upward. And soon thereafter, Scully felt herself being lifted into the air. She swept skyward, utterly weightless. As she was tossed head over heels further and further up, she caught a quick look at Mount Weather down below. Or what used to be Mount Weather. There was nothing left now but a giant crater.

A toilet floated dreamily by. It was followed by a bookshelf, still loaded down with books. Scully's eyes tracked it as it rocketed up. It zoomed into the sky until it was just a dot against the sparking web. Then – POP! – and it was forever gone.

So that was it. Everyone and everything had been caught up in some kind of tractor-beam. The heavier the item, the faster it flew up. And when it reached the spike's electric rings. . . POP! like a mosquito flying into an outdoor bug lamp. This was bad news for Scully. Her small frame and short height meant that she was gaining altitude twice as fast as everyone else. She had to hold onto something heavy to slow herself down.

The fact that she couldn't die was lost amidst the chaos. A primal survival instinct had temporarily overtaken her brain.

She shot past a small bolder spinning in mid-air and latched onto it. The rock provided an anchor – she wasn't hurtling up quite as fast – but it still wasn't heavy enough. What else then?

Aha! Down below, a thick blue metal door spun lazily skyward. If Scully could jump to it, it could provide better weight. But she would have to time it just right.

For the briefest moment, the door and the boulder aligned perfectly in the air. Scully made a daring leap and grasped the doorknob. She was able to pull herself down with great effort. The gravitational pull generated by the Space-Palace was tremendous.

Moe debris flew past her. The pop-pop-popping noise above grew louder. And then came Mulder. He went speeding past a mile a minute. But Scully's reflexes were sharp. She darted out her hand and caught him by the wrist. The sudden jolt that came from Mulder's abrupt stop was enough to dislocate her arm, but she paid it no attention.

"Mulder!" She screamed above the pandemonium. "Lower yourself down!"

He flapped his arms and legs madly in the air, trying to swim toward the door. But it wasn't working. He was too heavy. Scully could feel her grip on the doorknob slip.

"Mulder!"

"I can't!"

"Lower yourself down! Come on!" Scully gritted her teeth and tried her best to reel him down to her like a fish. It was actually working, and then –

Her fingers slipped from around the doorknob and she felt herself crashing upward. The door, unrestrained by weight now, went blasting into the air. Up, up, up. POP!

Scully and Mulder tumbled through the air like deranged acrobats. Their hands were still intertwined. The crackling and popping of the electric web drove out all other sounds and thoughts. Scully could feel her hair stand on end with static electricity.

There were no other things nearby to grab onto to slow their ascent. Nothing stood between them and the latticework of death overhead.

Suddenly, Scully felt a pair of strong arms around her waist. And they were pulling her down and off to the side. But who was doing this? She looked down, but saw nobody holding her. But then she noticed William. He was down on the ground, surrounded by most everyone else. His blue eyes flashed as he used to telekinesis to lower Mulder and Scully to safety.

The sensation of being pulled in two different directions was a nauseating one. But once the two of them were free from the Palace's artificial gravity field, things became smoother and they were gently laid upon the ground.

"You guys okay?" William asked.

Mulder and Scully each gave him looks. Did he really just ask that?

"Are we all here? We all safe?"

"Bryce!" The blue-streaked girl screamed, grabbed William by the shoulders and shook the poor kid hard. "He's up there! Help him!"

Bryce was a mere speck zooming through the air, mere feet away from the energy bolts. He wasn't alone either. A woman in overalls was beneath him. William tried to make contact with them both, but couldn't. They were too spread apart. He had no choice but to go after each of them separately.

William sent him mind out, hurtling through across the sky with incredible speed. He made contact with Bryce and hauled him out of the tractor beam and tossed him roughly to the ground. The man made an "Umph!" sound and cried out in pain. But there was no time to be gentle. The other woman was in danger!

He sent his mind out again. He pictured his telekinesis as glowing white bands – they stretched out for the woman. Just a little more! A few more inches! She looked so scared. But there was no reason for her to be afraid. William could feel her in his mind. Contact! All he had to do was-

POP!

What had just happened? William didn't understand at first. The woman had been there one minute and gone the next. There was nothing left of her but a psychic afterglow of sorts. Then it made terrible sense. The woman was gone. Dead. Atomized against the pink web.

Everyone on the ground was silent. They didn't know how to react. After a while, William felt a hand on his back. "You tried," Jim said. "That's all you could've done."

Yes, he had tried. But there was still more that could be done. Something had to be done or this madness, this war, would last forever. . . or as long as humans existed upon the Earth. But what else could he do?

William looked around him with growing dismay. The Rebels were being defeated. Colonists, mature and not, walked the battlefield casually. The Rebel's ships were being blasted from the sky. It was futile. How could you defeat an enemy such as this?

His eyes settled on a piece of glass embedded in the rocky ground. It was pretty big and he could see his full reflection in it. His face was blackened with soot, his brown hair with the red highlights stuck up in every direction. His shirt was nothing more than tatters hanging on a thin frame. But his eyes. . . . what was wrong with his eyes? They were still blue, but their color was muted. A white film swam over them. Like swirling milk.

An idea came to him like a bolt of lightning and he took off from the rest of the group. He heard his father call after him, but he couldn't stop. He had to go through with his plan before he lost his nerve. He just hoped it worked. It had to.

Now where was Dona Lola?

She was on the battlefield amid the turmoil. And she wasn't happy. This wasn't the way she had envisioned the great re-colonization. Mulder and Scully (and the blasted child) had ruined everything! They weren't going to win, of course. It was just annoying that they had disrupted the Glorious Welcoming Ceremony. Why had they come here in the first place? Did they really think that they had a chance at winning? That must be it.

Humans these days were idiots. Back when Dona Lola had first been created, the human race was just blossoming into being. When the Colonists first breathed the breath of life into her lungs, there were no more than 50 humans on the planet and the Earth itself was a wild uncontrolled place. Back then you had to be smart. You had to be strong, too. Humans back then had no time for childish notions or silly ideas. That's what upset Dona Lola the most about the Earth in the 21st century. Humanity now expected everything to fall in their laps. They thought that just because they wanted something, it would happen.

As she reminisced, she saw a small form silhouetted against the fiery horizon moving swiftly off to the east. It was that William boy. He was running like his pants were on fire for some reason.

Seeing that boy again made Dona Lola's blood boil. He was the source of all this insanity. His power was unbelievable. And he was the fulfillment of the Prophecy. The ancient Anasazi Prophecy that spoke of a man who would fight the coming plague and who would emerge victorious. Before the child's birth it was assumed that Mulder was this man. But they were wrong. It hadn't been him after all, but his son. William. But by the time they figured this out, it was too late. After a few botched kidnapping attempts, the mother had sent the infant off beyond the Syndicate's reach. If only they had gotten hold of him while he was young and impressionable! What a great ally he could've made with his abilities. He could have been strong! Second only to the Colonists themselves!

If only. If only.

But he had been corrupted by idiotic human emotions like love. And for that, he had to die.

Dona Lola ran after William. She could already feel the boy's neck in her hands as she slowly crushed the life out of him. In her mind's eye, she pictured his stupid little face growing purple and his eyes rolling back in his head. If she couldn't kill Mulder and Scully, she was more than willing to settle for their child. Ha. The death of a child. What greater sorrow could there be for a parent?

Something blew up in the sky and Dona Lola looked up to see a Rebel ship come crashing toward the ground in flames. She jumped aside just in time. When she regained her senses, she felt something trickling down her cheek. Blood. A flying piece of the broken ship must've struck her. She cursed loudly. Thanks to the distraction, she had lost sight of the boy. Well, he couldn't have gone far.

Something collided into her and Dona Lola fell down hard on her back. A man, balding and dressed almost entirely in denim, was straddling her. His face was bright red and a gun was clenched tightly in one hand. And it was leveled at her head.

"You!" The man (whose name was Jim, Dona Lola remembered) screamed. "You caused all this! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you here and now!"

The gun grew closer and Dona Lola put on her best damsel-in-distress face. She began to sob. "Please don't hurt me! Please! I – I'm a woman!"

The hand that held the pistol dropped slightly. The blazing anger in the man's eyes dissipated to an extent. Dona Lola seized upon this opportunity and snatched his gun away.

"Thanks. You're such a gentleman." She pointed the gun at Jim and pulled the trigger. After the explosion of gunfire, he howled in pain and tumbled over backward. It was a mystery as to whether he was dead or just injured. But who cared, really? He wasn't anybody important.

Now that that unpleasant business had been taken care of, the search for William continued. Ah. There he was. He had climbed up on a towering pile of rubble that had at one time been the Mount Weather Assembly Room.

Dona Lola fired her new weapon at the kid, but there was no flash and no bang. Nothing but a dry click. Hmph. No more bullets. Well, that was fine. She preferred to kill him with her own hands anyway. It was cozier that way.

She tossed the gun over her shoulder and tiptoed toward William. He was scanning the area in front of him and was totally oblivious to her approach. With a ninja's stealth, Dona Lola climbed up onto the heap of metal and concrete and smiled. She could rush him and snap his neck in a second, but she wanted to have a little chat with the boy first.

"Hello, William."

The child turned around calmly. "Hello."

It was a little disappointing that he hadn't screamed in fear when he saw her, but Dona Lola wasn't going to let that rain on her parade. She intended to enjoy this. "I've been looking for you," she said pleasantly.

"And I've been looking for you, too."

The boy's nonchalant attitude was irritating. He was so smug and calm. Dona Lola wanted him to cry a bit. "I think I just killed your daddy," she said casually. "Your pretend daddy, not the real one."

William just stared back at her, blank-faced. No, that wasn't entirely true. As the sky rained burning chunks of metal, his face was lit in a fierce orange glow. His mouth was nothing but a thin line of fury and his eyebrows were bunched together like he was deep in thought. His hands were clenched and shaking. But he didn't utter a word.

Dona Lola snapped. "Don't you get it?! You're going to DIE! Doesn't that scare you at all?! I'm going to kill you in two seconds! Cry! Whine! Beg for mercy! Do something, you stupid idiot!!!"

Nothing.

Why? Why?! Did the kid know something she didn't? Or was he just too dumb to realize what was going to happen? Dona Lola was about to strike him when she noticed something hanging around his neck. A tiny gold cross. The sight of that thing dangling on the end of the chain repulsed her. It filled her with a rage she had never felt before in her entire life. That stupid piece of jewelry symbolized everything that had gone wrong with the human race.

She snapped her arm out, clutched the little cross in her hand and yanked. The golden chain went taunt against William's neck and then snapped in two.

Dona Lola brought her hand up close to her face and studied the thing. Just a simple gold cross. Probably not even real gold, either. Probably just some cheap little trinket somebody bought at the local K-Mart. And yet, there was something behind the inexpensive piece of jewelry that made Dona Lola's stomach churn with disgust. An idea. A fool's idea of faith.

"What is this stupid thing?!" She screamed, shaking the necklace in William's face. "Is it a good luck charm or something? A talisman? Is it a nice little reminder that Jesus loves you?" She threw her head back and laughed into the falling sky. "News flash for you, kid. This thing I have in my hands is nothing more than a cheap piece of trash you paid five dollars to hang around your neck."

And with that, Dona Lola slung it off the pile of rubble. The small cross glittered once as it turned over in the air, and then it was gone. Gone forever into the night.

"See that?" Dona Lola asked, mocking the still silent boy in front of her. "That's what I think about God! Let me tell you something! I've lived millions of years. Maybe billions. And not once have I ever seen something that would convince me that there's some kind of Man up in the clouds looking out for us. Sorry to burst the buddle. But He doesn't exist."

"You sound pretty sure."

Blinking, Dona Lola looked down at William. Those were the first words he had spoken. What a shame they would be his last. Too bad he couldn't have thought of something more inspiring.

"I am sure. It's just a figment of someone's imagination. Think about it. Shouldn't He be here? I mean, the world is ending! It's gone to Hell! So why isn't He here saving everyone? Answer me that. I defy you. I defy you and your faith!"

Suddenly, the night sky went a dazzling blue and the air rippled with electricity. Dona Lola felt the whole back side of her body go hot. There was a roaring Zzrktt noise followed by a tremendous splitting sound.

Bewildered, Dona Lola turned her upper body around. Behind her, a tree had been split down the middle by lightning. The top of its Y-shaped husk burned in a captivating array of blue and white flames.

There was something about that fire… Something that terrified her. Something she couldn't take her eyes off of.

In the second it took Dona Lola to turn around, William had already pounced. He shot forward and hurled the woman to the ground. She let loose with a startled cry and jerked her body to and fro, trying to crawl out from under him. William was a skinny kid, only 70 ponds at the most, but he was able to keep her pinned down. His telekinesis acted as a weight upon her chest.

The next part was the scary part.

William rolled his eyes back into his head and summoned forth the white liquid. He could feel it rise in his chest like mucus. There was a terrible urge to gag. And then it came gushing out of his mouth, eyes, and nose. A gooey white milky substance.

Dona Lola's body stiffened in fear as William's eyes clouded over. Then the first few drops of the ooze began to fall from his opened mouth and she began to scream. It splashed upon her expensive blouse and began to slither its way up toward her face in white ribbons. She knew what it was headed for, so she clamped her mouth shut with a loud snap.

The liquid moved from fabric to the naked skin of her neck and Dona Lola couldn't help but to scream out again. It felt warm. It felt alive. It crawled up onto her face and forced its way through and into her mouth. She felt it as it slid down her esophagus – thick, creamy, and foul. She could feel it as it entered her blood stream and used those narrow channels as passage to the brain.

HELP ME!!! HELP ME PLEASE ANYBODY!!! Dona Lola screamed the telepathic plea out in Navajo as loud as she could. She knew the Colonists could hear it, so why weren't they rushing to her aide? Why weren't they coming to her rescue? Could it be that-

And then Dona Lola's vision went hazy as a thousand white streams washed over the cornea and blinded her forever.

William sat up shakily and let out a deep breath that had been in holding since the dawn of time, it seemed. That had felt … weird. But had it worked? Dona Lola was down at his feet, a crumpled up mess of a body. But her eyes were open. And a think white film was swimming over her dark irises. Yes. It had worked. The first part of the plan had, anyway. Now for the grand finale.

"Get up," he commanded with both his voice and his mind. And Dona Lola got to her feet with the jerky motions of a rusty robot. She glared at him, not really seeing anything. Her body was stiff and her gaze remained steadfast, never blinking.

"Go back to where you came from."

Dona Lola didn't nod or acknowledge that she had heard the order in any way. She just climbed down from the pile of rubble and entered the smoldering ruins of Mount Weather. Once there, she looked up at the spinning Space-Palace overhead. She remained that way for some time, perhaps having a telepathic conversation with the inhabitants onboard, perhaps not. But in any case, she was a puppet. And William was pulling her strings – strings made of white liquid.

The stormy sky was suddenly aglow with a vicious purple light. It flowed from the Space-Palace in intense waves of luminescence; waves so bright, William had to turn away to keep from being blinded. But before he had averted his eyes completely, he saw a small shape lift off the ground and float through the sky before being swallowed up by the Palace.

Dona Lola. They had accepted her back into the fold. She was now onboard the Palace. William could feel her inside his mind. Now all he had to do was detonate her like a bomb. She would infect the Colonists onboard with this New Purity (that was what William had taken to calling the liquid he had used to control Dona Lola), and then with the Colonists infected, the new "virus" would spread amongst the aliens all over the globe, killing all of them.

That was the theory, anyway. And why shouldn't it work? When Dona Lola had infected William with the Black Oil, his body had been able to change it – to mutate it somehow into something else. This new product, the so-called "New Purity", was tied to William as the Black Oil had been tied to the aliens. And if he was able to infect one of them with it, he had a good feeling the NP would win the viral fight with the Oil and subsequently infect all the other aliens as well. After all, wasn't the Black Oil omnipresent in a way?

Well, the moment had come to find out. It was now or never. He could see Dona Lola in his mind, standing mere inches away from a Colonist.

"Do it," he said.

Scully was on the ground with the other survivors, treating Jim's gunshot wound. She had taken off his shirt and had torn it into shreds, using the pieces of torn fabric to act as a makeshift bandage and tourniquet to stop the bleeding. The bullet had entered the shoulder and was still lodged in there, but the injury wasn't too serious.

What was serious, however, were the dozens of Colonists surrounding them. The Rebels had come to their aide and had formed a defense perimeter around them, but they weren't holding up well. The Colonists were swatting them down like flies. It was only a matter of time before they would break through the line and kill them all.

And they were about to do just that, (the Rebel defense had been slaughtered and was only down to a measly five men) when they stopped in their tracks and tilted their heads up into the sky like they were receiving radio signals only they could interpret. Scully exchanged a confused look with Mulder, who returned the look right back. He didn't have a clue what was going on either.

Then the attacking aliens began to twitch. Their big black eyes squeezed shut; they put their long elegant hands to their heads and screamed. It was a horrible sound, unlike anything the cowering earthlings had ever heard before. Totally inhuman. It sounded like a mix between a pig's squeal and an infant's cry.

The Colonists all over the battlefield sank to their knees and thrashed about in pain, screaming toward the heavens. Scully could do nothing but just stare about in wonderment. What was going on? One minute, they were perfectly fine. The next-

"What's wrong with 'em?" Bryce cried over the blood-curdling screams. His hands were pressed to the sides of his face much like the Colonists were doing.

"I don't know!" Mulder exclaimed.

Scully gently laid Jim on the ground and looked about for the source of the alien's torment. She saw nothing but Colonists in pain, thousands of them – a sea of gray writing and rippling upon the dirt. Up above, their ships were flying erratically in crazy loops and turns and sickening nose-dives.

What was going on?

Then, in answer to her question, Scully caught sight of William standing high above the rest of them on a pile of debris. He was looking out straight ahead, entranced. His long hair flew about him wildly as if he was caught in some kind of tornado.

"William!" She screamed.

Her cry caught the attention of Jim, Debbie and Mulder and they all called out to the boy. They somehow knew he was doing this to the aliens.

Scully ran to him. "William! What are you doing?!"

I'm doing my job, came the clear voice of her son. It was a telepathic one, but unlike the Colonists, the voice of his mind was soft and soothing. This is my destiny. Don't you see?

"But what are you doing?" Mulder asked. He had heard the voice too.

I'm reaching out to all of them. To all the aliens throughout the world. But there are so many of them. Billions. And I have to make contact with every single one of them.

The animal cries of the Colonists rose to a warbling crescendo and their bodies began to split open, spewing their familiar green blood along with a milky white ooze onto the ground. Up above, their triangle ships fell from the sky and came plummeting toward the Earth in fireballs.

"He's doing it!" Cried Alfeo joyfully. "The kid's doing it!"

Everyone broke out into applause as the aliens dissolved into stinking piles of bubbling green goo and the ships dropped from the air like stones. But Scully didn't join in. She was focused on William. He looked like he was in pain.

"William?" She asked.

There's so many of them! I have to get all of 'em. Each and …. every …. one.

Something was wrong. His telepathic voice was forced and choppy. Scully looked at the boy atop the debris pile with growing trepidation. William's face was bunched up like he had taken a whiff of something unpleasant. He was bent forward at a sharp angle, his hair swirling around his face as the air around him spun faster and faster.

"William!"

But there was no response this time. Nothing but static.

Scully ran forward a little and stopped. Something was wrong. William was convulsing now. His head was jerking so severely from side to side; it looked as if he would snap his own neck. His mouth was open, gasping for air. His hands were rigid claws. His face – that was the worst of it – his face was sunken and his skin had taken on a leathery appearance. Ugly purple circles grew below his eyes.

Motivated by the seriousness of the situation, Scully shot forward once again, only to be stopped by Marita.

"What are you doing?" The other woman asked.

"I've got to help him! He's seizing! Look!" Scully jerked her head toward William, who was now bleeding from his eyes, ears, and nose. He had collapsed upon the rubble, but was still shaking.

She tried to wiggle out of Marita's grip, but she held firm. "He's made contact with the aliens all over the world," she said. "Just hold off on helping him for a little longer, and it'll all be over with!"

"No! I've got to help him!" Scully tried to sprint forward but Marita still had a tight grip on her. "LET ME GO!!" She trashed her arm back suddenly, felt it connect with something, and Marita's grip went slack.

Scully ran forward, calling out for her son with tears in her eyes. He was still seizing, but by now his jerking was slow and rhythmic. Death convulsions.

Scully had just reached the rubble pile and was about to climb, when a strong force hauled her by the back of the shirt she was wearing and tossed her through the air. She sailed backward about twenty feet and crashed to the ground. The wind had been knocked out of her, but other than that, she was fine.

It had been William. He had tossed her back. He was so close to winning the war; he wouldn't let anything stop him. Even if that meant his death.

Up above, the purple symbols of the Space-Palace flickered on and off. It's many tiers stopped spinning with a rusty squeak.

But it wouldn't come to that, would it? William couldn't die! Not after all that they'd been through! Scully raised herself up with a grunt. She had to see what would happen next. She had to see William . . . maybe for the last time.

There was a gigantic explosion from overhead and Scully's attention was drawn to that. The Space-Palace had cracked open like an egg. Its fiery innards were exposed and its glossy black hull ripped from its frame. The once great ship came falling to the earth with a mighty roar, spewing smoke and wreckage in its wake. But just before it did, Scully lowered her gaze to William. She saw him. He was lying upon the rubble heap, dead still.

But she only caught a glimpse of him before the remains of the Space-Palace came crashing down on top of him.

Monica had been walking for ages, it seemed. Her feet were sore and covered in blisters, her entire body bled from the cuts she suffered from the barbwire, and she was cold. Not just cold, but freezing. The temperature had dropped at least thirty degrees since her escape from the Birthing Center and her lovely potato-sack dress offered absolutely no protection against the fierce chill.

But it didn't matter.

That phrase was quickly becoming her mantra. It didn't matter. Pay it no mind. Do what needed to be done.

John. She had sworn to avenge him.

Monica sighed and sat down on a tree stump. The faint rumbling of thunder could be heard off in the distance. It sounded like the storm was moving on. But that wasn't the only sound she could hear. Beyond the trees, back in the direction of the Center, an otherworldly wail rose up into the sky, reached a fevered pitch, and died down, leaving the woods silent.

Monica held her breath. What had just happened? Something big had happened, that was for sure. She was receiving some serious vibrations that indicated as much.

But whatever it was, it wasn't of immediate importance. Monica shrugged and got up off the stump and was about to move on, when she stopped. A sharp pain was tearing through her stomach – a pain unlike anything she had felt before (and she had become quite the connoisseur of pain during her stay at the Center.) It drove her to the forest floor, and Monica had to fight to keep from screaming. Who knew if the Oilers were still looking for her?

Something wet slid down her leg.

My water broke, she thought absentmindedly.

And if that was the case, she had a job to do. Monica spread herself out on the ground and pushed. She took a deep breath and pushed again. She repeated the procedure over and over again until the pain went away and her large belly deflated like a balloon.

She remained lying on the cold dirt for quite some time. She had just given birth. But her delivery date wasn't for another few weeks at the least. So what had just happened? Eventually, Monica got to her feet, still feeling quite woozy, and looked down.

She had given birth to a blob. There was no other way to describe it. It was just a mass of semi-solid green and white goo that looked a little like Silly-Putty. But the more Monica inspected it, the more convinced she became that it had, at one time, been something. She could make out a tiny hand sticking out of the gunk, clawed and gray in color. And that was it. There was nothing else that resembled a baby, alien or otherwise.

She had had a miscarriage.

That fact would have devastated the old Monica. The old Monica would've loved even an alien baby. But this new Monica only gazed at the green/white blob of fetal matter with a cold indifference. She gazed at it for only a few seconds before turning and walking away.

No tears feel for her dead child, and that's what it was - her child. It had been an alien baby, true, but half of its DNA belonged to Monica. It was, or had been, as much human as it had been alien. But Monica didn't care about such things. The new Monica only cared about one thing.

John. John and what she would do to the people who hurt him. They were still out there. They had to be. And one day, she would find them and make them suffer. That one thought kept her walking ever forward.

Well, that thought and one other. A memory, really. The memory of her, standing along the seashore, dressed in a simple white dress, looking deep into her lover's crystal blue eyes.

That memory would drive her as long as she could remember it, until her little gray brain cells shriveled up and died with age.

"I will," Monica whispered. Without a pause.

And she continued on, without a destination. With nothing but John's face burned forever into her mind.

The Colonists were no more. They had been wiped from the battlefield and not a trace of them remained. Their ships laid in smoldering pieces on the ground. The war was over and humanity had somehow emerged the victor. It would have been a perfect happy ending but for one thing.

William was nowhere to be seen. He was buried somewhere beneath the rubble of the Space-Palace. Everyone who was able was on their hands and knees, digging through the wreckage. Even Jim, with his bad shoulder, remained at his wife's side, both furiously throwing pieces of spaceship over their shoulders as they looked for the body of their son.

That was what they were looking for. A body. There was no way he could've survived that massive thing falling right down on top of him. But still, they continued to search. If only for a body. Something to bury.

They had been looking for hours, it seemed, when a voice rose up and announced, "Found him!"

Everyone else dropped what they were doing and ran over to Bryce, who was standing over the bloody and beaten William. Half the boy's body was still pinned under a large piece of black glass and it took the combined strength of four men to lift it up off of him.

Scully dropped down to William's side and began to poke him all over with her fingers, frantically searching for a pulse. But there was no reason to do so. The boy was clearly not breathing. William looked like a skeleton. His chalky skin was pulled so tight against his bones that his veins looked huge and misshapen. His eyes were closed, but there were large ugly brownish circles underneath them. He was a corpse.

Debbie uttered a loud cry and placed William's head in her lap. Jim stood behind her with one hand over his mouth and tears streaming down his face. Scully, meanwhile, was beating on the child's chest with all her might. She would beat, then open up his mouth and blow a lungful of fresh air into it and continue to hammer away again.

This went on for a full minute until Bryce put a hand on Scully's shoulder. "It's over," he said. "You can't do anymore for him."

Scully whipped her head around. Her normally sweet face and delicate features had mutated into the face of a rabid madwoman. "Don't say that!" She screamed, her voice cracking. "DON'T YOU EVER SAY THAT!!!" She turned back to William and continued to perform pointless CPR. But as time wore on, the clearer it became that nothing could be done and the chest compressions grew less and less frantic. Finally, they ceased altogether,

Jim and Debbie raised their heads in unison and stared at Scully, unable to comprehend what was going on. But all they needed to do was take one look at William and then it all became clear.

Mulder watched Scully take William's body in her arms and cry – the choked, silent cries of absolute unspeakable grief. He watched Jim and Debbie join in. Their bodies quivering and shivering as they reached out with shaky hands to touch the cold face of their son. And then the three of them fell to their knees as one, sobbing and gasping, pleading for it not to be true.

Mulder watched all this feeling disconnected. William had been his son, and yet he had never really connected with him. He had never played catch with him, never given him a piggyback ride and he would never get a chance to have that father/son talk about sex. Something that all parents dreaded. Come to think of it, Mulder had never even told William that he loved him. There had just never been the chance.

No. That wasn't true. There had been plenty of chances. The first was when William had been born. Mulder had been there, but had to leave as soon as William had come into the world. The Syndicate had been after him and he had to run to stay alive. He had left both William and Scully. At the time, he had taken it for granted that he would be able to see them both again sometime in the future. But then the news cam that William had been put up for adoption, and oh, how Mulder had despaired then! But 10 years later, on the streets of Washington, he dropped back into his life like an atom bomb. Mulder had lived with William for six months, but had never formed a close relationship with him.

So many chances and he hadn't taken a one of them. If given the choice to do it all over again, he would've never left his son in the first place.

Mulder bent at the waist, put his head in his hands and sobbed like a baby. He really had failed, after all. He had failed as a father. And that was what mattered most.

Mulder, Scully and the others were so swept up in their grief that they didn't notice a black form make its way through the crowd and over to the body.

"Let me see the boy."

Mulder looked up and saw one of the faceless Rebels with his hands outstretched. Scully brushed a strand of hair away from William's face and hiccupped. "W-w-what for?" She asked through sobs.

The Rebel said nothing more. He just continued to stand there with his hands out. Finally, Scully handed over the boy's body to him, sobbing anew at the way William's head bobbed lifelessly back as the alien took hold of him.

The Rebel bent his featureless face down and placed one scarred hand over William's forehead.

Suddenly, a faint glimmer of hope began to shine in the dark recesses of Mulder's mind. He took a wary step forward. "Can you … can you help him?"

"We shall see," the Rebel responded simply,

They must've stayed like that, frozen with anticipation, for only a few seconds but it seemed like forever. All the survivors, not just William's family, but everyone, crowded around to see what was happening. For a long time, it seemed like nothing would happen, but then, William's skin began to take on a healthier peach tone and the circles beneath his eyes began to fade away.

"Look!" Debbie cried. "Look at that! It's working! Oh, thank God!" She tugged on the sleeve of the Rebel's jumpsuit and bounced up and down on her feet. "You're doing it! You're doing it! Keep on!"

William's skin loosened its death-grip on his skeleton and before long, it looked as if he were only sleeping. And then – and then William did the impossible. He opened his eyes.

"Wassgoinon?" He mumbled in a sleepy haze.

Scully broke out into an unattractive smile and covered his face with wet kisses. Debbie filled in the spots she missed. The Rebel said nothing more as he sat the now-healthy and fully alert William on the ground. Jim scooped the poor kid up and put him up on his shoulders, something that must've hurt a great deal, but the joy of the moment was so great that everything else faded into the background.

The Rebel turned to walk off, but Mulder stopped him. "Thank you," he said.

The alien nodded and dug into his pocket for something. "I found this," he said, as he held up a small golden cross dangling at the end of a broken chain. "Does it belong to anyone?"

"That's mine!" William exclaimed.

Jim bent down so he could retrieve it and William moved to put the thing back around his neck, but stopped when he realized it was broken. He looked as if he were about to cry, when Debbie smiled and put a reassuring hand on his. She reached up and undid her own necklace – a simple silver chain – took the cross from William and threaded it through. She handed it back with a smile.

William nodded in thanks and put it around his neck. Mulder shook his head, laughing silently to himself. That little old necklace had been misplaced and found so many times it wasn't even funny. Maybe it really was good luck.

The survivors stood there in awkward silence for a good while, afraid to speak. Afraid that by doing so, they might disrupt this delicate new peacefulness. Eventually, Alfeo spoke up. "So, is it over? I mean … is it really?"

The Rebel nodded solemnly. "It's over."

The silence remained until it was broken by a shrill scream a few moments later. William stooped playing with his necklace and shot his head up. Scully gasped suddenly and the Rebel raised his cattle-prod weapon high up into the air, ready to combat this new menace. Mulder looked around, his heart hammering hard in his chest. What else could there be? He didn't have the energy to fight any more!

But what he saw made him question everything he had ever held sacred.

Marita was off to the side, her hands up in the air and a massive smile all over her face. It wasn't a grin or a sly smirk. It was an actual honest-to-goodness full-fledged smile. She caught the confused looks of everyone else and she screamed again. She threw back her head and began to twirl around like a mental patient. And then came a sound totally alien to all of them: The sound of Marita laughing. She put a hand to her chest and dissolved into laughter. She was free. For the first time in her life, a heavy burden had been lifted from her shoulders and she was totally free.

The sound of Marita's giggles shattered the tense atmosphere and the survivors broke out into their own laughter.

"It's over!" Screamed Bryce.

"Over!" Alfeo threw back his head and swore loudly. "Thank God almighty!" He took Debbie's face in his hands and laid a juicy kiss on her. "It's over, BABY!!"

Debbie smiled uncertainly and wiped the slobber off her cheek. "It really is over, isn't it?" She asked Scully.

Scully clapped her hands, still laughing and assured her that it was, in fact, over.

The crowd erupted into cheers and Alfeo grabbed William from Jim and lifted him up onto his own shoulders. Still swearing like a sailor, he pumped his fist into the air and started in on a hopelessly off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday to You". It was the only thing he could think of to honor William.

As the survivors clapped, hollered and cheered, the Rebel began to move away. Mulder held up a hand for him to stop. "What are you going to do now?"

But before the Rebel could answer, Mulder continued on. "I think I speak for the entire population of Earth when I say that you and your kind are more than welcomed to stay here."

Scully nodded and wiped away a tear. "Please. Stay. I can never thank you enough for what you did. Helping William, I mean. The Earth can be your home, too."

It was hard to tell, because the alien had no face, but it seemed like he was smiling. "I appreciate your offer, but I must decline. This is your planet now. For the first time since its creation, it truly does belong only to you. My people and I are content to live amongst the stars for however long we have left."

Mulder and Scully nodded. They were disappointed, but they understood that the Earth could never take the place of their old home. The one they destroyed themselves to keep the Colonists from having it.

The Rebel turned to join his fellow people but at the last second, he stopped. "Take good care of the boy," he said, gesturing toward William. "He is a very special person. They even knew it."

"They?" Mulder and Scully asked in unison.

"The Colonists," the Rebel said. He bent down and retrieved a piece of the Space-Palace from the ground. It was still covered in those odd symbols, but they weren't glowing anymore. "The Colonists could peer into the future using Purity and they had a habit of decorating their vessels with what they saw in their visions. This piece right here mentions William by name and how he could eventually defeat them."

Mulder and Scully enchained looks. "But if that were true," Scully said. "Why did they even try to colonize? If they knew it would end in defeat?"

The Rebel threw the chunk of spaceship back onto the pile of others. "They had too much faith in their abilities. They thought they could change the future." He shook his head. "But they couldn't. Nobody can alter destiny. "

And with a wave, the Rebel turned and joined the others, who disappeared in a blinding flash of white light. Mulder watched as their circular ships took off up through the clouds, musing on the fact that he would never again see a UFO as long as he lived. And that was just fine with him.

Then the stormy skies overhead parted to reveal a bright and sunny blue day. The yellow rays of the sun pierced through the black clouds and soon, there wasn't one left in the sky. It was as if God Himself had given the humans down below His seal of approval for a job well done.

It was the morning of December 22nd, 2012 and everything was just fine.

Mulder felt the sun beat down on his face and smiled. They had won. After all the time spent worrying and praying, they had won. Ten years ago, when he had first glimpsed the date set for the final alien invasion at Mount Weather, he had been filled with a sense of total helplessness. He had been afraid to tell Scully. He had been too afraid to even admit it to himself. Later, in a motel room in Roswell after the trial, Mulder confessed to Scully that "The date was set and couldn't be changed." Scully had refused to believe it.

"You wouldn't tell me. Not because you were afraid or broken, but because you didn't want to accept defeat." That's what she had told him. But she had been wrong. That night inside that room, Mulder had given up. He had accepted defeat. But Scully wouldn't allow him to feel sorry for himself. She had pulled him through. Like she always had.

And now, 10 years later, everything had worked out just fine.

"Oh, I almost forgot!"

Mulder looked and saw William, still on Alfeo's shoulders. "They came to me again while I was asleep. They wanted me to say hi to you."

"Who?" Scully asked quizzically.

William frowned. "I think they said their names were Melissa and Samantha."

And then he was gone. He had disappeared into the crowd.

Mulder felt a warm hand slip into his. Scully looked up at him and smiled. Neither one of them questioned what William had said. They had been through too much, see too many things not to believe.

"So," Scully said. "What now?"

Mulder sighed and popped his neck. Was there anybody left alive on the planet besides the pathetic few gathered around him? He felt sure there was. There had to be at least a few people out there. And when he thought of them, huddled in basements, dazed and confused as to what had just happened, he felt a great swell of pity for them.

"We know the truth," he said. "Now we just have to spread it."

THE END