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05 November 2009 @ 04:14 pm
Machines of Freedom: Chapter 1  


November 30, 2012
6:07 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital

Wendy poked her head out of her office door. She relaxed the moment she heard the click of heels echoing down the hall; she wasn't too late. "Dr. Scully?"

Halfway to the stairs, Dr. Scully stopped and looked up from her Blackberry. She had her coat on, her briefcase over her shoulder, and a tired look in her eyes. "What is it, Wendy? I'm heading out."

Wendy trotted down the hallway holding out the file. "You just got a file from the virology lab? I wasn't certain if it was something you requested for someone else, or what I should do with it."

Dr. Scully sighed and put her Blackberry back in her coat pocket. "No, it's mine." She took the file and struggled open her briefcase.

"Should I put a copy in someone's file?" Not that she didn't love working for Dr. Scully, but it would be helpful if doctors actually told you what they wanted you to do, without making you guess half the time.

"No, it's not for a patient. Just some research I'm doing." She latched her briefcase again and locked it.

Wendy laughed and shook her head. "You have the strangest research schedule, Dr. Scully."

Dr. Scully smiled--well, not a real smile, those she reserved for people under fifteen, but the little smirk she tended to prefer. "I'm eclectic. Have a good weekend, Wendy."

"You too." Wendy turned and headed back to the office. She had the day's charts to file, and a bunch of reminder phone calls to make. The heels clicked their way out to the staircase behind her.

***

The roads weren't icy yet, which was good. Probably they would be by the time she got off the highway, but Scully wasn't going to think about that until she was dealing with it. As she crawled along the interstate in the dusk, she flipped through the file. The aerosolization technique was effective at a rate of 75%. Not good enough, but much better than the last round. Effective against the six different types of viruses she had put through their paces. She wasn't sure any of them were as good a structural match as Matt argued they were, but she couldn't bring test samples into her lab here, so it'd have to do. Time to send the plans on to Montana, see if they could replicate them with live samples. She needed to increase the lab staff out there--mental note to make sure it came up on the call tonight. Some jackass in an SUV cut her off, and she nearly spilled her coffee on the file. Well, they'd seen worse.

As she got towards her exit, her Blackberry rang. The caller ID was a ten-digit sequence; she was guessing it wasn't actually a legal American phone number, though. She sighed. Why was anyone calling her? They were going to be talking in, shit, three hours. She needed to drive faster.

She picked up. "Hello?"

A brief buzz as the decoders came through, and then Monica's voice. "Kara?"

"Rosalba!" she enthused, though she was pretty sure it sounded fake. "How have you been?"

"Oh, fine. You know Robert, always working. It's been a mess around here, as you can imagine."

Scully rolled her eyes. Monica got way too into character. "I can. Sorry, I'm just on my way to the grocery store. Can I call you back later?" Like, say, at the scheduled conference call, to which Scully was going to be late if she didn't concentrate on not spinning off the road on a patch of black ice.

"I was just calling to see if you and Sam could come to a dinner party next Thursday?" Which meant she was confirming tonight's call. "Robert's cousin is in town, and we'd love for you to meet him." Which meant they had actual news.

"Sure. What time?"

"Six-thirty?"

Scully hit the steering wheel. Because moving up the meeting was such a good idea. But she couldn't really argue. "I think we can make it. Can I bring anything?"

"You know, I'd love if you could run past the bakery near your house and pick up some of that olive bread?"

Scully scribbled on the edge of the file: have new cost projections for meeting. "I'll try. You know they tend to run out of it by the end of the day."

"Well, if you can. Anyway, I'll let you go. My love to Sam and the kids."

"Thanks, I'll tell them. See you next week." Scully hung up and threw her phone onto the other seat. She was 95% sure this was the first international conspiracy to be run by what would sound like, if anyone was listening, a series of soccer moms planning their social calendars and their bored husbands scheduling golf outings and, occasionally, affairs. (That innovation had been Mulder's idea. Of course. It did add a certain flair to the calls, though, knowing that, in the giant soap opera of their cover names, Kara and Robert's affair had been going on only slightly longer than Rosalba and Sam's.)

She made notes for the new budget at stoplights, until the last bits of dusk faded from the sky and she was driving along the gravel road towards the house in the pitch black. She turned in at the gate nearly by instinct, dialed the gate code on her Blackberry (which was the addition to the house security system she was most proud of), and crawled up the driveway, which was a mess of puddles. Honestly, if they were all alive in January, they were paving the driveway. It was the least they could do. Literally.

She parked and gathered up the detritus of the week. Mulder had better have started dinner. If she hadn't eaten before this evening's call, she would not be responsible for her actions. Plus now there was the budget to do. She kicked the car door closed, climbed the steps, and wrangled the door handle open.

Dora the Explorer was singing on the television as she stepped into the living room. Sadie was jumping on the couch, wearing her Cinderella dress, a knight's helmet, a feather boa, and a pair of light-up cowboy boots. She was swinging a potato masher in one hand and holding her foam sword high in the other. "Mama!" she yelled, and jumped off the couch, knocking over a large pile of small wooden horses in the process, and clumped across the living room, waving her weapons.


She was swinging a potato masher in one hand and holding her foam sword high in the other.



Scully dropped her briefcase and scooped Sadie up. Her back was too old to have a three-year-old, but, well, some things can't be helped. "Hello, sweetheart. Where's your daddy?"

"He's cookin'." Sadie took off her boa and draped it around Scully's neck. "I had a frog."

"Really? Hold on, I need to take my coat off."

Sadie responded by wrapping her legs around Scully's waist harder. "And then it rained."

Scully walked over to the dining room table and tried to extract Sadie. When that didn't work, she just pulled her coat off her shoulders and let it hang down her back. "And then what happened?"

"Lemme down." Sadie squirmed off her, crawled across the table, jumped down--Scully was convinced she was going to break an ankle every time she did that--and ran towards the stairs. Scully picked her coat off the floor and went over to the coat rack to hang it up.

Mulder came out of the kitchen with his phone held to his ear, and a wooden spoon covered with tomato sauce. "No, don't worry about it, John. We'll miss you on the green, but I think we can drum up a fourth from the club house." He made a "where the hell did the kid go" gesture. Scully pointed up the stairs. Mulder rolled his eyes. "Are things at the office OK? Well, say hi to your secretary for me." He laughed, a laugh which was patently insincere if you were talking to Mulder, but the Sam persona appeared to be more sociable. "All right. Take care. See you around." He hung up and threw the phone at the couch, where it bounced twice and ended up between the cushions. "Matt and Isabel are skipping the call tonight. He said he'd emailed you what you needed to know." He kissed her on the cheek.

"Monica called to move it up to eight-thirty." She curled a hand into his waist and leaned against him for a moment. This was nice, coming home to dinner on the stove and a child who was only mildly insane today.

"Seriously? How many times have we told them we're not free before nine? It's not like it's that late out at the compound." He kissed her hair. "Come on, let's eat."

"Yeah." She kissed his chest and went to collect her briefcase and purse from the doorway.

Mulder yelled up the stairs, "Sadie?" When there was no clomping in response, he escalated to "Cassandra!"

"I'm playin'!" she hollered back.

"It's dinner time. Get down here now!"

"No! Later!"

"I'll get her," Scully said. "I have to drop off my bag in the office anyway."

He shook his head. "Hegel would have a field day with her."

"He probably wasn't a very good parent." Scully took a deep breath and headed up the stairs.

***

The first thing Mulder had done after he was handed his official letter from the FBI Director's Office announcing that they would not seek legal action against him was book them a two-week vacation in the Bahamas. They ate fried snapper and drank nothing but Kalik beer and drinks with umbrellas in them and had sex until they passed out several times a day. Occasionally, they would ride around in a boat. It was among the most pleasant times Scully could remember.

The second thing he did was start pinging all his old anti-colonization networks. There weren't many people whom the Consortium hadn't cleaned up in one way or another while they had been on the run, but those who were still around were a little star-struck when they got a covert message from Fox Mulder--the actual Fox Mulder--and when they heard "I've been out of touch for a while," they interpreted it as "I've been living underground fighting the man," not "I grew a beard and sulked at my girlfriend for three years, though I did learn how to bake." They were also, mostly, useless. Mulder was very polite, very efficient, and got copies of everyone's research. In January of 2009, in their living room, a small group of people who understood the urgency of the threat, most of whom were or had been federal employees, undertook the task of saving humanity from the impending alien invasion. Everyone needs a hobby.

The third thing he did was say to Scully, quietly but assuredly as they lay in bed together, that he wanted them to have another child. The center of her chest went cold as she heard him say it.. "Mulder, no," she wanted to say, but how could she say that? He'd lost his son because of her, because she hadn't been able to hold on to him; as much as she knew he didn't blame her anymore, she couldn't help but blame herself. She tried a safer tactic. "I don't know if I can anymore."

"But what if whatever restored your fertility gave you extra years? It's entirely possible that you were given back the healthy reproductive system of a thirty-year old; likely, even, given how quickly you conceived." He kept looking at the ceiling, which she appreciated; she couldn't handle having him staring at her while they talked about this. "If it would be difficult--I mean, I'm not suggesting another round of IVF, or the hormones, or anything like that. I just...I want to try."

She remembered the injections, the scheduling, the sudden crying jags brought on by seeing babies in stores, the time he found her sobbing in the basement ladies' room because she knew, just knew, the next day's procedure wouldn't work. She couldn't do it again. Not like that. She took a deep breath. "Why? Why do you want to try?"

There was a long silence; she listened to him sort his thoughts out, move them around. She expected a speech, an argument, a long, drawn-out narrative. But that wasn't what he said. "I always wanted to have children with you. That's why."

And there wasn't any way to say no to that. She had gone to her gynecologist warily and alone, expecting to be told the worst, but the first round of fertility testing had been shockingly positive--her hormone counts and follicular ultrasounds had both been positive, and the reproductive endocrinologist she had been referred to appeared to be just barely restraining herself from asking if she was really, actually, forty-five. Finally, after talking her through the data, Dr. Fuchs said, "Are you interested in doing inseminations in the office here? We have a list of gamete services we've used."

"Um, no," Scully said, a little surprised. "This was mostly precautionary. We'll...be trying at home."

"Oh." Dr. Fuchs blushed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to presume..." She shrugged. "It's not that big a hospital. I didn't realize you were--" A quick glance at the ring finger. Scully narrowed her eyes and half-dared her. "Partnered."

Scully stood and picked up her briefcase. "He's not much for socializing."

So the box of condoms slowly gathered dust in the drawer, and Scully started charting her ovulation cycle for the first time since she was 23. As consciously as she knew what they were doing, she expected it to take a while; she expected to have some time to get used to the idea. But two months in, she was suddenly, unaccountably dizzy during an exam, and had to step out; the next day, she threw up twice between her 7 AM surgery and her 10 AM rounds. Sitting on the floor in the bathroom, she realized there was no way this wasn't a pregnancy. Terror struck her suddenly. She couldn't have a baby, what was she thinking? She had a practice, a busy one; Mulder might not be technically sentenced to death anymore, but he wasn't on anybody's favorites list in DC; they held twice-monthly potlucks that dealt with how to overthrow their coming alien overlords; her mother would kill her. She sat there for twenty minutes, realizing how profoundly fucked she was and briefly considering a quick trip to the pharmacy with a hastily written script. Mulder wouldn't even have to know. But no, she couldn't give up his baby again. He'd leave her. And she'd deserve it.


Sitting on the floor in the bathroom, she realized there was no way this wasn't a pregnancy.



Wendy walked in while she was sitting there, and startled to see her boss sitting on the floor with tears on her face. "Dr. Scully? Are you okay?" She grabbed a hunk of paper towel off the roll and handed it to her.

Scully wiped her face with her hand, instead, and worried the towel between her fingers. "I'm fine. Don't worry about it."

Wendy hesitated for a moment, and then sat down on the floor next to her. "Look, I know we're not really what you'd call friends, but--if there's something I can do--"

Kick me in the stomach really, really hard. And then disappear, because Mulder will kill you with his bare hands, ten minutes after he kills me. "I'm just being self-indulgent and depressed. It'll pass."

"I have a bag of brownies my mom sent me in my bottom desk drawer for emergencies."

Scully laughed, then. "Yes. I think this qualifies as an emergency." They went back to her office, and sat behind a locked door, silently eating slightly stale but really exceptional brownies. Wendy didn't ask, and Scully didn't explain.

She stayed at the hospital as late as she could; but finally, her cowardice shamed her enough that she went home, stopping by the drugstore on the way to pick up a pregnancy test. Mulder opened the door as she turned off the car lights. "I was just starting to get paranoid."

"Starting?" She climbed the steps and put the test in his hands, walked past him, and went into the kitchen.

He followed her, watched her silently as she opened the fridge, extracted a tub of hummus and a bag of carrots, and started eating. She knew he could tell she'd been crying. She leaned against the counter and ate, eyes closed, feeling him watch her.

After a few minutes, he spoke. "I think it's reasonable to expect that we are both going to go insane for the next year or so."

She laughed. "Going to?"

"Yeah." She heard him cross the room, until he was blocking the light in front of her. He took the bag of carrots out of her hands. Slowly, as if he were expecting her to fight, he put his hands on her neck. "Because that's what traumatized people do when they're repeating their trauma. See, I learned something in school."

She shuddered softly. "I don't know if I can do this."

He pulled her into his chest--not holding her, just letting her feel his presence. "Well, no promises, but so far you've told me you think you're pregnant and I haven't been abducted by aliens yet, so we're already ahead of the game. So I'll try not to die, and you'll try not to have the worst pregnancy in recorded history, and then I'll try not to abandon you, and then we'll try not to have to leave the baby and be wanted fugitives. How does that sound?"

And it hit her in a sudden rush: she and Mulder were going to have a baby. Really, really, and this time maybe they wouldn't fuck it up entirely. She leaned all her weight on him, and found herself smiling, almost against her will.

Of course, it didn't get easier after that. They both vacillated between poles, never quite in sync: one day they'd be overjoyed, the next resentful, the next silent and aloof, the next paranoid, the next angry. Scully couldn't bring herself to walk into the baby furniture store; Mulder literally tried to step in between her and anyone who approached her when they were out in public. She had nightmares about Emily, nightmares about William, asking her why she had let them go, what had been wrong with them that she hadn't loved them enough to keep them, to save them. Mulder started dreaming about Samantha again, which he hadn't done in years.

They settled on a lie for the obstetrician: their son had died in a car accident. It was close enough to the truth that it made their paranoia and anxiety rational, but sufficiently normal that no one would ask further questions. Scully didn't tell her mother until she was six months pregnant and couldn't put off a visit any longer. She walked into the restaurant where they were meeting (with Mulder sitting in the car, half-offering, half-threatening to bug her to make sure she was okay during the afternoon she would be out of his sight) and watched her mother's jaw drop. After a moment, she recovered enough to say, "Well, Dana, you have certainly gotten very good at surprising me," and by the end of the lunch, she wanted to know when she could see sonogram pictures. Scully had pulled them out of her purse and slid them across the table, and smiled for the first time since she had arrived. "It's a girl. Mulder wants to name her after his grandmother, but we're still arguing."

In the end, it had been the easiest pregnancy she could have imagined. While hospital gossip was not kind, most of the worst offenders had backed off when Mulder started showing up to take her to appointments, bring her lunch, and basically stalk her to protect their fetus. ("Mulder, you cannot come into the operating room with me!" she had yelled at him in the hallway one day. "You were a lot easier to follow around when you worked with dead people," he had responded.) Wendy had even organized a baby shower, covertly, and had managed to somehow ensure not only that only the people Scully liked attended, but that the assholes were all compelled to send gifts.

The day she turned thirty weeks, Mulder had packed three suitcases, both of their laptops, and his basketball, and met her at the hospital. "We're not going home," he said. "You're giving birth in the hospital this time." So they checked into a hotel two blocks away. Three weeks later, she went on maternity leave, and they almost stopped leaving the hotel room; every so often, he would swim laps in the pool, but he required she watch him, just in case. Wendy would bring over patient files, and Mulder would hover as Scully dictated second opinions and make recommendations to the doctors covering for her. (Wendy passed her a post-it note that said "Your boyfriend's crazy" one day. Scully wrote one back that said "At least he's cute," and Wendy nodded, sagely, and crumpled it up.)

The birth was terrifying; even though she was in a hospital, even though Mulder was there and her mother was waiting outside, even though she knew everything was going to be fine, she found herself bodily remembering the terror of William's birth, desperately wishing that everyone watching were gone, that she wasn't having to do this for an audience again. But in the end, as always, the birth paled in comparison to receiving the child at the end of it. And Cassandra Rose Scully-Mulder was most certainly an excellent outcome to a disastrous process.

***

Scully checked her watch. Eight-ten. Mulder and Sadie were involved in a protracted argument about whether or not it was actually time to get out of the bath. The spreadsheet in front of her seemed to have all the expenses laid out, both with present staff and what she'd be asking for, in addition to the new spectrometer. She saved it and ran it through the two different encryption programs they were running. Then she booted up the signal displacer, which gave her a nonsense IP address, and logged in to Kara Anderson's email. She wrote a quick note about a bake sale to Rosalba Velazquez-Johnson, and then attached what would look, to any observer, like a nonsense junk file attached by accident by the mail program. She hoped Monica would remember in which order to run the decryption programs this time; she didn't feel like sending it again.

"Mama! Mamamamamama!" Sadie jumped up and down in the doorway to Scully's office. She was wearing her yellow towel that had a duck-billed hood at the top. "Daddy says read me a story."

"Okay. And then you have to go to bed."

"First you read me a story." Sadie skipped down the hall to her bedroom.

After a mercifully brief discussion on the necessity of wearing pajamas, and three iterations of The Princess Knight, Sadie fell asleep curled against Scully's arm. Scully lay and watched her for a moment. As reluctant as she had been in the beginning, being a parent again had been fulfilling in ways she hadn't expected, and she supposed, someday, she should thank Mulder for suggesting it. She still missed William, but actually getting to raise her daughter was a sort of balm for it. The sharp stabs of pain that came on his birthday and the day she had given up custody were still there, but they alternated with a quiet assurance that somewhere, a set of parents were loving him the way she loved Sadie, because it was the most natural thing in the world. She didn't know if she would ever see him again. Perhaps, when Sadie was old enough, she might want to look for him, and Scully would help her; she doubted William would be able to find them on his own, given the lengths to which she'd gone to cover his tracks. But that was a long way off, now.

Mulder appeared in the doorway. "She out?"

Scully nodded. "Is it time?"

"Yeah. I just got the system hooked up." He smiled. "You look comfy."

"Well, my arm's asleep, but yeah." She extracted herself carefully, and slid out of the bed.

In the living room, they settled in front of the big-screen TV. The cable box and the TiVo had been disconnected, and were sitting off to the side; a small white box, which the casual viewer could have mistaken for an extra hard drive or some other piece of random television technology, was connected to it, and a series of green lights glowed on its front. The first said the jamming signal was working; the next, that the encryption protocols were running; the third, that the connection was stable. The fourth light was blinking, which meant the call was already in progress. "I hate being late to these things," Scully said, grabbing her research folder.

"Yeah, well, it's not like they can do much without you," Mulder said, and turned on the TV.

The divided screen materialized slowly; the major problem with running this much encryption was a loss of speed. Skinner appeared first; he always did, in part because he was local, in part because he was the only one not in a rural backwater. He was mid-sentence. "Not that I have worries about the structure, it's just--oh, they're here."

The second half of the screen faded in on Monica and John, both on a single camera, in front of a grey background. "We'll talk about it later, Walt," John said. "Mulder, Dana. Glad you could make it."

"You're just lucky Sadie isn't on the call with us," Mulder said. "What's up?"

"Not much. We were waiting on you. Mon, you got the agenda?"

"Yup," Monica said, and typed something on her keyboard. A small block of green text appeared on the left of the screen. "Walter, you're first up."

It was odd, Scully thought, that it boiled down to the five of them. The real core team was about fifteen, eight of them doctors or scientists, the others with a variety of backgrounds in federal law enforcement or the military. But when they divided up leadership, it all rested in the hands of X-Files alumni. She oversaw all technological and biological research; Mulder was in charge of gathering data from MUFON and other non-governmental networks; Monica ran international coordination; John organized what military strategy they could manage; and Skinner, still at the Bureau, was in charge of governmental relations. Sure, Matt and Isabel were the nominal heads of the labs at the compound, but they needed too much guidance to be really independent. No, it was the X-Files that were going to save the world, and she was proud of that.

Skinner ran them through the final version of the plan to inform the White House of what was going on. They were purposefully delaying it until the last moment, as soon as any evidence of colonization beginning was apparent to the public. They couldn't risk a leak of any sort, and, even though Mulder could find no connection between anyone in the Obama administration and any of the Consortium's incarnations, it paid to be careful. "We've got our way in, and the presentation is just about done. I only wish I could be in DC to present it in person."

"Not a chance," John said. He was the firmest about the everyone-in-the-bunker rule, probably because he was in charge of organizing personnel and refugees at the compound.

Monica was next on the list. "The really good news," she said, "is that Cape Town is finally online. Between their installation, Buenos Aires, and Canberra, I think we now have sufficient southern hemisphere coverage."

"What's their technical status?" Scully asked. If she had to brief a whole new collection of officials, she'd need to take a sick day this week.

"I sent them the briefing book you put together for Kandy. Apparently, they didn't have trouble setting up. Obviously, there are going to need to be alterations, but it's something, at least."

She exhaled. If they were running Kandy, it wouldn't be too difficult an update. "Great. Can you set me up a chat for later in the week with their technical director? After 9PM eastern, please."

"No problem." Monica ran through her notes. "Apart from that, our translation and monitoring work is coming along fine--ups and downs based on the daily work contingent, but nothing to be worried about. Still not getting any pings from our monitoring; it seems like international intelligence chatter has almost nothing to say about colonization. I don't know what to tell you; it's like no one knows it's coming." She sighed. "That's about it. Mexico is having trouble maintaining sufficient staff; I've referred a couple of bilingual folks off of our network to them, so that might end up being a joint-nationality operation. Andorra is a little cranky, but what's new; I might need to fly over there for a day or so, just to make people feel better. Siberia managed to get their scanners working for the first time; Isabel's been doing daily calls with them. Not much else to report."

"Are the scanners having trouble in the top range or the bottom?" If Siberia couldn't pick up viral density, they'd have real problems; but if it was just a question of modulation, Isabel should be able to link them to Montana's mainframes in a pinch.

"Top. Oh, Matt said to tell you--" Monica shuffled through the papers. "Nairobi and Cairo are both going to have to be run out of Montana, because they don't have the staff to monitor the fluctuations. But he's got the system worked out already."

"We can't run them out of Andorra?"

"Like I said, cranky. I'll see what I can do." She leaned back

She glanced down at the screen. "Mulder? What's up with you?"

"Nothing." He sighed, linked his hands behind his head. "Seriously, nothing. There's chatter about the date, but that's because our new alien overlords picked the most overdetermined apocalypse date ever. I mean, they made a John Cusack movie about it." He shrugged. "Like you said, Monica: nobody knows it's coming."

"I can't decide if that's better or worse," Scully said, shuffling through her papers.

"Me neither." He sighed.

"Well, at least we're not having to switch tactical gears," Monica said. "John? You want to do the compound update?"

"Sure. We're pretty much in stasis here. Current staff component is at thirty-five. We're trying to rotate people in and out for week-long leave at the moment, since we don't know how long we're going to be down here, and we're pretty much going to 24-7 operation as of the fifteenth. So far we haven't had any real security problems with leave."

"Real?" Skinner asked. "What does that mean?"

"Nothing," Monica said. "Just people running late, losing our connection for a few hours at a time, things like that. I don't think we have to worry about anything."

John looked less convinced, but turned a page. "We've got the shelter set up. I'm running simulations to try to get a final count for what we can handle. I know we'll be able to get everyone's core lists in, but we might not be able to go beyond five refugees per staff member. It depends how efficient Josh can get the air filters to be, and how much food we can store. I'm aiming to have a list and an evacuation plan by the fifteenth." He sighed.

"You know we trust you with it," Scully said, and swallowed. The refugees list was the hardest thing, she thought: knowing that you were responsible for how many people might survive the apocalypse, that you would have to tell people that, no, their families couldn't be saved. She felt strangely blessed; she had spent two sleepless nights trying to decide how to rank-order her family members, until Mulder had stuck a pair of post-its on her laptop screen: SCULLY read one of them and MULDER the other, and they split between the two of them the assorted members of the Scully family and Ellen and her boys. "Are you sure?" she had asked that night in bed.

"This is my family," he said to her, resting his head on her shoulder.

"Yeah, well, it's still gotta get done." He turned to the next page. "We've got six weeks' worth of minimum power in batteries from the solar cells; we're trying to run as low as possible to maximize storage now that it's winter, but luckily it's still pretty bright. The techs have worked up some additional power sources, too. Not having any trouble getting supplies in, so far. Military supplies in good order, though I'm upping our ammo runs."

"I need a new stockpile, with specs," Skinner said. "I'm arranging for it to go with the portfolio. Might as well give the actual government a chance."

John made a note. "And, well, I think that's it. Morale's good up here. We feel like we're doin' something."

"There's always that," Mulder said.

"OK," Monica said. "Dana? How's it going?"

Scully sighed. "It's better news than you would think, actually. I sent the files around; does everyone have them?"

"Yeah, but they made more sense before I decoded them," Doggett said.

"You'd better talk us through it," Monica said, pulling a stack of papers out of her notebook.

A small voice spoke up from the steps. "Everybody's talkin' on the TV."

"Is that Sadie?" Monica said, grinning.

Scully rubbed her temple. "Apparently."

Sadie crossed over and stood in front of the TV. "Hi, TV people."

"Hi there, sweetheart," Monica said, waving.

"Hey, Sadie," John said, and waved too.

"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Skinner said. She avoided smiling at that; God, you could tell he'd never had kids.

"Say goodnight, Sadie," Mulder said, picking her up.

"You want us to hold the call for you?" Scully said.

"Nah, you can explain it to me later. Back as soon as I can."

"Bye-bye, TV people," Sadie said, resting her head on Mulder's shoulder.

Scully watched them climb the steps, and then took a deep breath. "OK. Here's how it's going. The good news is, we're going to win."




Click here for Chapter 2
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Amal Nahurriyeh: mof: omgship!amalnahurriyeh on January 3rd, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
I am dorkily pleased you'll be doing this chapter by chapter, because there's something very satisfying about seeing a reader's process of engaging with one's work. So, hooray!

The philosophy thing--it's absolutely unconscious 50% of the time. I'd been reading Honneth when I was wrote the "Hegel would have a field day with her" line, is why it's there.

Enjoy it!