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05 November 2009 @ 04:11 pm
Machines of Freedom: Chapter 4  


December 10, 2012
9:07 AM Mountain Time
Kaycee, WY

Scully froze for just a moment, and she could hear Mulder's indrawn breath behind her. The man with the shotgun, who she was guessing was Paul Van de Kamp, advanced on them very slowly. His hands shook on the stock, which made her feel slightly better; at least he didn't want to shoot them. She raised her hands gradually, palms open and facing him, to make clear she wasn't reaching for a weapon. "Sir, we don't mean you and your family any harm. We're from--"

"I do not give a damn where you are from, and who you are," Van de Kamp shouted, and took another step forward. "I'm not letting you have him, so you just get back in your car and drive back to wherever you came from, and tell them they can't have him either."

She licked her lips and thought. It's been so long since her time in law enforcement; the instincts are faded, but still running there beneath the surface. Mulder seemed to be following her lead rather than reaching for his weapon, so that was a small victory. "We just want to help you protect your family. We're no threat to you. I assure you of that."

He stepped forward again, fully out of the bushes. He seemed about to say something, but paused. He looked first at Scully, and then at Mulder, then back at Scully. She watched as he, very carefully, put two and two together. "Shit," he said quietly. "You're them, aren't you? You're his birth parents."

She felt the ripple of Mulder's energy behind her, but ignored it, and stepped closer slightly. "Yes."

Van de Kamp's hands tightened on the gun. "Are you why they're after him?"

Scully kept her eyes on him, but couldn't restrain the wince. "Yes. That's why." She watched as his mask of anger flickered, and worry and tension shot through it. "Please," Scully said. "We're just here to help."

Van de Kamp lowered the gun. "When are they coming back? What do we have to do?"

Honesty seemed the best policy, now that the guns were all away. "We don't know," Scully said. "We don't know what's been happening. We just got a message that William--" She couldn't stop her voice from breaking slightly as she said his name. "That he was in danger. We came as soon as we could."

Van de Kamp looked back at the house in the distance. "Last week," he said. "That's when they came first. Men in suits. They said something had happened with Will at school, some sort of strange incident, and they had to investigate. They asked us questions about him, about his adoption--it didn't make sense. He's just a kid." He turned back to them. "Then the next day, they said they wanted to take him to a facility, where they'd run tests. They told us we couldn't come. We told them where to stuff it. And the next day, they sent the FBI. But something was wrong with them--I don't think--I don't think they were real."

"They weren't," Scully said. "You did the right thing."

"What do we do? I'm not letting them take him," Van de Kamp said.

Scully took a deep breath. "We have a place that's safe. You can come, all three of you. It's not far, about a day's drive."

Van de Kamp laughed bitterly. "Oh, and just because you look like him you get to tell me just to get up and go."

Mulder stepped forward slightly. Scully looked back over her shoulder at him. His jaw was set, and the slight narrowing of his eyes spoke more clearly than his mouth could have. I think we'd win the argument, he'd said in the car. She held out her hand to him. He dug his hands into his pocket and turned away from her, away from Van de Kamp. She exhaled. "Mr. Van de Kamp, I realize that you have no reason to trust us right now. We just want to make sure that you're safe--all of you. Please. If you let us come up to the house, we can tell you--" She realized suddenly that she was about to tell the entire story to a civilian, a civilian who might be bugged, who might not be friendly. "We can explain to you where we would be going. We can offer you some options." She started trying to figure out how to explain that the world was about to end without sounding crazy. Mulder would be better at that part, if he could speak without shooting anyone.

Van de Kamp stared back at the house. His wife was probably there; she worked on the ranch with him, his tax returns had said. And William--they probably weren't letting him go to school. Her heart twisted a little tighter. They had to get up to the house.

"Let me unlock the gate." Van de Kamp walked over to it and undid the chain.

"Thank you," Scully said, as a wave of relief washed over her.

Van de Kamp opened the gate. "I'll drive along with you."

"That's fine." She was going to see him. She was actually going to see him again.

"Scully," Mulder said suddenly.

She looked over at him. He pointed, simply, to the sky to the east. "We have company."

She turned to look. Three black helicopters were appearing over the horizon.

"Shit," she said. This was the elimination.

"What is it?" Van de Kamp said.

"Get in the front seat," Scully said, and ran to the backseat of the car.

Mulder jumped into the driver's seat and started up the car. Van de Kamp followed, a little hesitantly. As soon as all three of them were in, Mulder slammed on the gas, and the car broke through the half-open gate and barreled up the driveway.

Scully pulled down the backseat and grabbed the gun case out of the trunk. "Mr Van de Kamp, can you shoot anything other than that shotgun?"

He looked over at her, and gaped slightly at the line of handguns. "I've shot a pistol at the range before."

"What about your wife? What about William?" She pulled her gun off her waist and checked the clip, then slipped two extra clips into her jeans pocket. She put extra clips in Mulder's coat pocket, and handed Van de Kamp a gun and a fistful of reloads.

"Um. I mean, they can hunt. What's happening?" He turned to look at the helicopters. "Do you know who they are?"

"We don't need to," Mulder said. "Do we have anything anti-aircraft in the trunk?"

Van de Kamp paled a little.

She poked around in the boxes. "No, nothing. Well, a few grenades, but no launchers. Do we have shotgun ammo?"

"Blue box." Mulder pulled up in front of the porch and threw on the parking brake almost before he stopped the car. He climbed out of the car and went around the side of the house, towards the helicopters.

"What's happening? Please, I don't understand." Van de Kamp was turned around in his seat.

"Mr. Van de Kamp, listen to me," Scully said, as firmly as she could. "These people coming in the helicopter are dangerous. They probably mean to kill you, and they most certainly mean to take your son. We are not going to let that happen. I need you to reload your shotgun with this ammo." She pressed the blue box into his hands. "Go give it to your wife. She needs to take William and get into the cellar, the attic, somewhere protected, somewhere that will take a while to get to. I need you to cover the door to the house."

"There's a back door too," he said weakly, staring at the ammo in her hands.

"We'll take the back door, but you should lock it and put something heavy in front of it. Anyone who tries to get past you, you shoot. No threatening, no warning, nothing, just a bullet to the chest. Don't think about it, don't hesitate. You will kill people today. Get used to that fact now. Can you load your gun?"

He looked down at the handgun she had handed him. "Yes, I think so."

"OK then." She climbed out of the car.

He followed, and started up the stairs. A woman opened the door. "Paul? What's going on?"

"Get inside, Ginny, get Will. Something's happening." He climbed the stairs, and then stopped and turned around. "Ma'am?"

"Yes?" The helicopters were closer now, close enough to hear their blades. She had to hurry.

"What if it's you trying to get in the house?" He was reloading the shotgun with shaking hands.

"Don't let me." She turned her back to him and walked to the side of the house.

Mulder was crouching behind a woodpile, checking his clips. She slid in next to him, and leaned against a second barrel. "Three helicopters. I've got the grenades. Could we call in air support from the compound?"

"I don't think they're prepared for this. But when we're done, we should be able to get a pick up somewhere nearby--we probably can run for a little while before they track us." He poked his head around the woodpile. "Hay bales that direction, and a tractor over there. Some water barrels. God, is this a Hollywood set?"

The wind was starting to buffet the house. They must be almost here. "There's a back door to cover. I told him to shoot us if we tried to get in the house."

"Good plan." He leaned back in behind the woodpile. "So, throw a grenade as soon as they're down, once it goes off run for the next piece of cover?"

"I'll take hay bales, you take tractor." She moved to a squat and held her gun as loosely as she could.

The helicopters were descending. She leaned around the edge of the woodpile just far enough to see where they were landing. Two of them were coming down; the third hovered, back far enough that she was fairly certain it couldn't see them, but watching. "Two landing. Ten seconds." She didn't even turn around to look at him, though she felt the ghost touch of his hand on her hair. Please, she prayed for just a moment, don't let us die here. And don't let them get him.

The helicopters touched the ground, twenty feet apart from each other. She pulled the pin, counted to three, and threw.

Just as the doors to the nearer copter opened, the grenade exploded. As the smoke went up, she turned and ran towards the hay bales, firing for cover as she went. The near copter looked finished. A man in black with a submachine gun lay on the ground in front of it, but she didn't look at him, and fired into the body of the smoking copter as she ran. (It's been so long since she was taking lives and instead of saving them. Don't think about it, she told herself, just shoot.) She could hear Mulder firing into the open door of the other one, the return fire from inside it. Dammit, she should have given him one of the grenades.

Here were the hay bales; she ducked behind them and stayed as low as she could. The sound of feet running--she peered between two bales and saw more figures in combat gear running towards the front door of the house. A bullet from Mulder tipped one of them backward, but another turned to shoot at him. She aimed for his neck, fired twice, and he was down. Another commando ran past Mulder, and she expected him to follow, but then there was a new barrage of fire, maybe from one of the helicopters, and he was pinned down. She counted to three and began running back to the woodpile, shooting as she went. Her clip ran out halfway through; she skidded to a stop behind the pile and reloaded.

Another peek through the holes between stacked wood. The third copter was landing, which meant more soldiers. The pilot of the copter she had hit with the grenade was dead; there were bullet holes through the windshield of the other copter, and she thought she could see a slumped body through the glass. Someone inside the other copter was trading fire with Mulder, at least two someones, based on the frequency of shots. Seven bodies on the ground, maybe dead, maybe not, but not shooting, that was what mattered. The copters weren't big, probably only had a capacity of five plus a pilot, which meant one person unaccounted for; fuck, the guy who'd gotten past Mulder. She dug the other grenade out of her pocket, judged the distance to the other copter, and maneuvered herself closer to the edge of the woodpile. She could make it to the tractor in the time it would take for it to explode. She took a deep breath, counted, pulled, and ran. As soon as she was clear, she threw the grenade, and made a frantic dive for the tractor. The explosion came just before she hit the ground.

Mulder was braced against one of the tires. "Nice slide."

She crawled up against him and ran her hands over his face. Little shrapnel nicks, but nothing serious. "The guy who got past--"

"Van de Kamp got him." He nodded towards the house. "Anyone survive that blast?"

She leaned over and peered out under the tractor. No motion from the newly grenaded copter. "I don't think so. But the new copter is coming in between them."

"Fuck." Mulder reloaded and slid over to behind the other tire. "Do you have more grenades?"

"That was it." She leaned back against her tire. The new copter hit the ground with a thud she could feel. "Let's go," she said.

Together, they rolled onto their stomachs and looked under the tractor. Three sets of boots jumping out of the copter and heading towards them. They pulled back and stood, crouching behind the tractor. She held up an hand and counted with her fingers--1, 2, 3.

And she and Mulder rolled up above the hood and around the bumper of the tractor and started firing.

Three soldiers, face shields down. She aimed for the arms, and then the space where the neck was exposed under the chin. Four shots, and one of them went down. The next turned towards her, and there was an opening in his underarm; she nailed it, and he fell. Mulder had gotten the third, and was trying for the pilot when his clip jammed. He swore and bent his head to unstick it, which was why he didn't see the fourth soldier jump out of the copter and take aim for his head. She didn't take the time to warn him, just tried to aim for the new guy, who suddenly swung around and was pointing his gun right at her. She pulled her trigger, which clicked--she needed to reload--she opened her mouth to call for Mulder--

Suddenly the soldier collapsed, a spurt of bright blood exploding from his neck. Scully startled at it; Mulder too, looking away from the jammed gun in his hands. A hand holding a silver handgun had emerged from the door of the copter. The hand retreated, and then a whole person appeared and disembarked.

The girl from the alleyway stood over the body of the man she had just shot, and tapped his shoulder with the pointed toe of her pump. She pulled a pack of cigarettes from her trench coat pocket and tapped it against her palm, looking around at the smoking helicopters, the crumbled bodies piled around on the ground. She opened the pack, pulled a cigarette out with her lips, and put the pack away again. As she pulled out her lighter, she looked directly at Scully. "Do you have him?"

"What the hell are you doing here?" Scully stepped out from behind the tractor, barely able to stop from shooting her without waiting for an answer.

"I'm the back-up plan," the smoking girl said dryly. "Do you have him?"

"What is that supposed to mean?" Mulder growled. "Why did you use us if you were just going to parachute in and take him? What game are you playing?"

"My interests, I assure you, are in alignment with your own." She flicked ash onto a body as she walked towards them. "But in any case, I think you'll find that Mr. Mulder's gun is terminally jammed, and that Dr. Scully is out of rounds. Which leaves you two in a rather weak negotiating position. So I'll ask again. Do you have him?"

"We aren't letting you take him," Scully said, and moved to stand between the girl and the house. "You can kill us, but the Van de Kamps are armed, and they won't let you through."

She chuckled. "How resourceful of you. Perhaps this is the moment when I should point out that I have rockets on the helicopter? This house could simply be eliminated." She slipped the cigarette between her lips. "Obviously not my ideal plan, but beggars can't be choosers."

"Just try," Mulder said, and stepped up behind Scully.

"No," said a voice behind them. A young voice, a boy's voice.

They both turned to see him, standing on the steps of the house, holding a backpack in one hand. His parents were behind him, both clutching their weapons, but he must have talked his way past them, because their faces were set in desperation, and his was still and confident.

William. William was standing on the steps. She couldn't breathe, she realized.

William looked over at them, briefly, and swallowed. "I'll come with you," he said. "It's OK."

Regina reached out and grabbed his arm. "Will--"

He turned back to her. "No, Mom, really, it's OK," and Scully felt hollow hearing him say that to this woman she had never met. "I'll be fine."

Mulder snorted, just barely. If she could have moved her eyes off of William, she would have given him a look.

William turned, glanced at her and Mulder quickly, as if he was trying to avoid been seen doing it, and started walking over towards the girl. He slung his bag on his back, and Scully saw the fear in him that he was suppressing, and the excitement he carried next to it. But he walked past her to stand in front of the smoking girl, who appraised him silently and smiled the barest ghost of a smile.

"Then we're coming too--" Paul Van de Kamp said, starting to walk determinedly towards them.

The smoking girl pulled her hand from her pocket and pointed her gun over William's shoulder, directly at Van de Kamp. "With all due appreciation for the work you have put in up until this point," she said blandly, "you are no longer necessary. I have no desire to shoot you, Mr. Van de Kamp, but I have no qualms about it either." She glanced down at William.

He turned back around and shifted on his feet. "It's OK, Dad. I'm going with them." He looked up at her, suddenly, and she was shocked to meet his eyes. They hadn't changed color since his infancy, were still the clear blue she remembered, but his eyelashes were longer, and he hadn't had the freckles then. He glanced between her and Mulder for a moment, and then looked back at Van de Kamp, and smiled, just a little. "I'll see you soon."

The smoking girl pulled her cigarette out of her mouth and threw it on the ground. "A cleanup team should be along in forty-five minutes to deal with all this," she said to the Van de Kamps, gesturing to the battleground in their yard. "I suggest you be elsewhere for a few hours." She glanced over at Mulder and Scully. "Come along, Agents."

"Why should we come with you?" Mulder said sharply.

She smiled. "To protect your son." She put her hand on William's shoulder and steered him towards the helicopter.

Scully looked at Mulder for the first time since William's appearance. Think for me, his eyes said, and she could practically feel his itchy desire to shoot everyone standing in the yard. She nodded, just barely, and turned towards the copter to follow them. Mulder pressed his hand to her back, probably as much to keep it busy as anything else. But after a step she stopped, and turned around.

Regina Van de Kamp had stepped up beside her husband; she was crying openly but silently, and Paul was watching his son climb into the helicopter with a look of barely contained grief. Scully swallowed; she knew that palette of emotion too well. "We'll bring him back," she said without thinking about it. "We'll make sure he's OK, and we'll bring him back to you."

The Van de Kamps said nothing. Mulder said nothing. She turned back to the helicopter.

William was sitting in the back seat. The smoking girl was fitting a helmet around his head and checking his seatbelt. She smiled at him, flicked the visor down, and patted his shoulder. Then she looked up at them. "I assume you can take care of yourselves," she said, and moved up to sit next to the pilot. She pulled her gun out again and pointed it, very simply, at his head. "Any questions?" she asked. He shook his head and glanced at her nervously. "Excellent. North," she said, and reached for her own helmet.

Mulder slid the door of the helicopter shut and took the seat next to William. Scully sat facing them, unable to take her eyes off the two of them together. Mulder adjusted his seatbelt and then poked at William's; she remembered, suddenly, him putting Sadie in her car seat, and had to fight back the wash of tears. William looked up at him, considered him for a moment, and then smiled. "I've never been in a helicopter before," he said.

At that moment the helicopter rotors kicked to life, drowning out any speech. Scully slipped on her helmet and looked out the window as the helicopter lifted off and swung around sharply. On the ground, the Van de Kamps watched as they flew away.



Click here for Chapter 5
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colebaltblue on February 11th, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
Oh NOES!!!!! What about the Van de Kamp's? They are innocent bystanders and need to be saved.

Hmmm...this smoking woman is very mysterious. Reminds me of Spender - is that on purpose?

Good ol' Scully and Mulder holding it together (on the surface) in the face of such a crisis.

Can't wait to read the next chapter!
Amal Nahurriyeh: mof: csm!amalnahurriyeh on February 12th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
Reminds me of Spender - is that on purpose?

Come back to me in half a chapter. LOL.

I'm really glad I'm making you anxious. I know, I'm evil.