TITLE: "Mikhail's Fire IV: Where There's Smoke"
CATEGORY: V, WIP, Krycek/Other (No slash)
SPOILERS: Up to "One Son" S6
ARCHIVE: Yes, please
DISCLAIMER: All characters from "The X-Files" are property of CC, 1013, and FOX. (Thanks for bringing our man back, CC! ) No copyright infringement intended.
SUMMARY: Continuation of my series "Mikhail's Fire," part of (it finally has a collective title!) the "Move Heaven and Earth" universe. The entire saga can be found here--http://www.angelfire.com/ak3/expositions/mhae.htm
NOTE: Still a possibility of **character deaths** ahead. You've been warned.
YET ANOTHER NOTE: D'OH! I wrote down the wrong destination of Alex & co. in chapter two. I meant to say Mount Defiance, *not* Mount Deception. Ooops! At least I got it right in chapter three. (In case you're wondering Deception Pass is a beautiful region of Washington State, where I live--and Mount Defiance is in the Adirondack Park, New York. Yep, my brain had a big ol' meltdown.)
For those of you (and there are far too many to mention) who stood by me, held my hand, and made me feel appreciated, even when I had nothing to say. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." --John F. Kennedy
"Do I know you?"
Sabryn watched Erik Larsen digest Walter's question, looking for any sign that he knew he'd been caught. Instead of the telltale malevolence she'd been expecting, he merely smiled with chagrin.
"You'll have to forgive my nosiness, Mr. Skinner. You see, Miss Bryn holds a striking resemblance to my late wife--just as I told her brother yesterday afternoon. Before I gathered the courage to speak to her myself, I happened to notice your name on the credit card receipt before the cashier at K-Mart put it away. I was only wondering if she might be your wife."
Walter glanced down at her, his dark eyes searching her expression.
"We met a few days ago," Sabryn said. "And his wife did look like me. But that doesn't explain why your name is of any relevance."
"It was wrong of me to have looked," Larsen admitted. "Just curiosity really. No harm done."
Yet, she thought. Still, given the situation, between the colonists and the man before her, Larsen seemed the least likely threat.
"What do you propose we do, Mr. Larsen?" Walter's voice hadn't lost a touch of skepticism. "You've seen the news reports."
"We were told to remain in our homes."
"And yet you haven't."
"It was a little too noisy in my home, with dozens of trucks and tanks rolling past. We wanted to see what was happening. And being neighborly, I had intended to see if you all were all right."
Walter glanced at Sabryn again. "Maybe you and Caroline should take the kids back to the house while we decide what to do."
"Everything we need is in those silos." She didn't care anymore if Larsen heard her. She was more afraid of the invading military forces than she was of him. There was no point in going back to the house if they were just going to be rounded up like cattle. And she'd be damned if she ended up as an alien experiment. "We have to find a way to get in there and get it."
"What do you have in there?" Larsen asked.
"Food and weapons," Walter said, impatiently. "And there's no way we're getting in there with the fences."
"They can't possibly fence the whole area, Mr. Skinner. Those sheds and underground tunnels reach on for miles."
Walter stared at him for a moment. "Do you know a way in?"
Sabryn turned her gaze to John. "Is there enough gas for your camper?"
"Enough to get us to a gas station...assuming the pumps are still working."
"What's going on here?" Larsen asked.
"It's a long story." She licked her lips. "You'll have to trust us."
"Sounds a bit funny coming from a woman who thought I was stalking her."
"I hate to tell you this, Erik, but that's the least of my problems."
"Taking a quite conspicuous camper out on the roads, to a public gas station, isn't a great idea," Walter said. "They may even have the roadblocks set up already."
"I have horses." They turned to stare at Larsen, frowning. Finally getting their attention, he smirked. "You don't have to look so shocked. There's obviously more going on here than some 'chemical spill,' or there wouldn't be an entire army marching past my front door."
"Just what are you suggesting?" Walter asked.
"Would four people be enough to retrieve those supplies?"
Nodding his red head towards the man to his left, Larsen said, "Dane does not ride, so he'll have to stay behind. But he's an excellent shot with a rifle. He could protect the children, and whomever stays at my house."
"I don't know if I like this idea," John muttered. Sabryn met Larsen's gaze through the icy fog of her own breath and swallowed heavily. She couldn't stand that intense stare for long. Reaching over, she took a hold of Walter's sleeve, and pulled him back a distance away from the others.
"Are you honestly considering this? You don't even know this man."
"I don't see a lot of other options."
"I don't trust him."
"Well, you're going to have to trust me." He stopped her with a look before she could say anything more. "Krycek isn't here anymore--"
"I know that."
"You made a decision and I'm well aware of that. But I'm the one who's going to get you through this, Sabryn. Not him."
She blinked up at him, fighting the urge to argue. "I know."
"We do this thing together, or we don't get through it at all."
"All right. But when Larsen rips his flesh off and starts talking like the Terminator, don't say I didn't warn you."
"You're going to have to hold her. This isn't going to be pleasant."
Holding Scully down was obviously the last thing Mulder wanted to do. He glared at Alex in frustration before moving down to her ankles, unable to see the cut when it was made. Kneeling astride her waist, the switchblade in his right hand, Alex took a deep breath. This was why he didn't kill women. It made his hand shake just to contemplate cutting her. He knew it was completely psychological. Her flesh may have been softer, her movements more delicate, but that didn't make her feel pain any more so than a man. It only seemed that way. Still, as he nodded to Marita to pull back the collars of Scully's jacket and blouse, the tender flesh exposed underneath made him pause.
"God damn it! Just do it and get it over with."
At Mulder's angry order, he flipped open the knife and felt for the tiny bump under her skin. Piercing the knife into her flesh, he winced. She cried out, her body going taut, her arms struggling against the cuffs. A sanguine pearl formed in the knife's path, growing, before dribbling in a lazy stream down her shoulder. Using the tip of the blade, he found the chip and pried it from her flesh...trying desperately to ignore the agonized shriek that escaped her throat. The chip surfaced, stained red much like his knife, and he picked it up as he got to his feet. Turning to face Mulder, he handed the broken man his cure, his curse, before walking away from the mess he'd made.
Heading back to the truck, he crouched down to peer at the undercarriage. What a fucking mess. Tangled limbs, ripped jaggedly from bushes, hung with as much ugly chaos as the back bumper. And judging by the steady dripping coming from the engine compartment, they'd stopped just in time. Cursing under his breath, he yanked the handle to the hatch and tugged hard to open the door. Catching momentarily on the scarred bumper, it lazily gaped open as he reached for his bag.
Unzipping the duffel just enough to see that everything he needed was in place, he tossed his keys in the bushes and turned to face the others.
Marita paused in the middle of bandaging the agent's shoulder. Sitting up, cuffs off and her glare directed at Alex, Scully didn't look the slightest bit pleased to have had the chip removed.
"Where do you expect us to go?" Mulder asked.
"Up. We climb from here, until we can find another truck. Mine is toast."
"Climb? It's a damn mountain."
"You got a better plan?" He nodded towards the road, which was steadily getting brighter with the approach of oncoming headlights. "You can stay here if you want, but I'd rather not get caught."
He didn't wait for an answer. Passing the truck, he started walking deeper into the woods. Hugging his coat tighter about him to keep in the warmth. More intent on getting to the safe zone than ever before. He'd known what those chips could do, had imagined the single-minded determination of the implantees...but he'd never before seen one in action. This was only the beginning, the calling. Once those chips were completely activated, it was all over. He wouldn't have been able to stop Scully if he'd tried. She would have been a mindless killing machine.
And there were millions more, just like her.
Before he'd even walked twenty steps, he was grabbed from behind and spun around by a strong pair of hands. He was surprised to see Marita glaring at him, instead of Mulder.
"You're not just going to walk away."
"No one's forcing you to stay here. Let's go."
"She's in no shape to walk all the way, and neither am I."
His gaze swept over her gaunt face, the tired eyes. Damn it. He knew she was right. "So what the hell do you want me to do about it?"
"I think Agent Scully had the right idea. We need to get that Jeep."
"You want us to hijack the military patrol?"
"Have you got a better plan?"
"You're going to get us killed, you know that?" When she didn't answer, he muttered a curse that made her grin and opened his duffel bag to hand her a gun. "Let's do it."
"How many guns do you have in there?"
"Enough. I hope."
He started back towards the road, Marita following closely behind him as she checked her clip and popped it back into place. Just as he was about to throw his bag to Mulder, giving the agent a chance to arm himself, he was swiftly reminded that the man had more of an arsenal than he could handle.
Special Agent Dana Scully daintily wiped the dirt off her slacks before turning and slamming her fist right into Alex's mouth. He wasn't sure what was more shocking--the bitter taste of blood on his nipped tongue or the sudden burst of laughter that escaped from between his lips.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Marita trying hard not to giggle herself. As Scully walked past her partner, the two of them shared a momentary meeting of palms...an odd secret handshake that wasn't quite deliberate, but meant more than Alex could hope to contemplate. Their last strike against him? Maybe. Spitting a frothy pink gob of saliva onto the ground, he fervently hoped it was the only blood he would shed that day.
Jogging to catch up with them, he thrust his pack into Mulder's hands and readied his own pistol. Time for the game to begin.
Larsen's home wasn't a palatial estate by any means. It wasn't even half the size of the cabin they'd spent the last few days in. But it had power. And when the heat washed over Sabryn's face as she walked in the door, she could have kissed the man. Stranger-be-damned, she was about two minutes away from unpacking her belongings and taking up residence.
"Make yourselves comfortable," Larsen said absently, as he walked into the kitchen. "Find yourselves something to eat, take a nap, whatever you'd like. I don't think we need any formalities at this stage."
"Who's going to go to the silos?" Carolyn asked, keeping her children tight against her body.
Pausing, Larsen looked from John to Walter. "That's a good question."
John crossed his arms. "No offense, Larsen, but I don't know you or your brothers. I'm not leaving my wife and sister, not to mention my children, alone with a complete stranger."
"Understandable. No offense taken. In that case," he looked at Sabryn, "I guess you'll be accompanying us on the horses. You do know how to ride?"
John opened his mouth to speak when he suddenly seemed to realize his dilemma. They'd need as many hands as possible to carry the supplies--and if he stayed behind with his family, that only left Walter to follow Larsen's lead. Squeezing his arm, Sabryn nodded to Larsen.
"Yes, I do."
"All right then. Let's get the horses saddled."
They'd been prepared for ambush, but the MP's Jeep rounded the corner to find nothing but an open stretch of road. Reducing speed at the first sign of gasoline on the roadway, the driver never saw it coming. The tiny pulse flash of breaking glass, followed by the sudden jolt of his body was his only indication he'd been hit. He didn't even live long enough to see where the bullet had come from.
Forced into action, the passenger shoved his way over the stick shift and hurried to move his dead partner out of the way. Yet before he could get behind the wheel and get the hell out of harm's way, the shooter stepped right in the vehicle's path.
Screeching to a halt just inches from Alex's legs, the soldier lifted his hands in surrender.
"Good idea, pal," Alex muttered. "It's not worth dying for."
Stepping out of the thick foliage along side the road, Mulder stood beside him with his weapon drawn. "You got that right. What the hell did you do?"
"I stopped the car."
"You shot him. Jesus, you didn't even--"
"What did you expect, Mulder? I'm a trained killer, remember?"
The agent glared at him. "All too well."
Gesturing to the man in the Jeep, he shouted, "Get out of the truck."
Faced with two armed men, and suddenly confronted with more guns as Marita and Scully stepped on the roadway from the opposite direction, the soldier didn't hesitate. He carefully opened the door, keeping his hands visible, before standing and lacing his fingers behind his head. His expression was neutral, neither showing fear or anger, as Scully checked his body for weapons. As she took his sidearm and stepped back, he swallowed heavily.
"Who are you people?"
Alex smirked. "Majestic, asshole."
"That's not possible, sir. We would have been notified of your presence."
"Consider this notification." His finger started tightening on the trigger when Mulder shoved his hand to the side, sending his shot careening into the woods. Alex swore as the soldier turned and ran, disappearing down the road. The sudden shove he gave to Mulder's arm made the agent stumble backwards. "What the fuck are you doing? You let him get away!"
"We didn't come here to kill innocent people," Marita said, stepping between them. "He can't get far on foot, anyway."
"Innocent people? You don't get it, do you?" Losing patience, he stalked over to the Jeep and yanked the remaining body onto the ground. Scully grimaced, staring at the hole in his head. "If I hadn't shot him, he would have killed me first. Not only are those his orders as a military officer, but once this chip in his neck is activated he won't stop until the job is done. Or until he dies trying. That's his one objective. He won't eat, sleep, or think of anything else."
"Is that what you tell yourself every time you pull the trigger, Krycek?"
"Actually, Mulder, I usually think about shooting you."
As Mulder was about to step forward and knock the grin off of his face, Marita glared at Alex. "All right, knock it off, both of you. We're wasting time."
She was right. The sky wasn't nearly as dark as it had been when they left New York City. If they wanted to reach the mountain top before dawn, they had to hurry.
"Get in the car. I'll drive."
"I don't think so. I'll drive."
Before either one of them conceded to the other, Scully climbed behind the wheel. "I think I can handle a stick better than the both of you. Let's go."
Despite the utterly different circumstances, an errant thought of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse fluttered through Sabryn's mind as she dismounted her mare in front of the silo shed.
She never would have imagined that Larsen would lead the way down the narrow dirt path to the opposite end of the military base. Walter and Larsen's younger brother, Skyler, brought up the rear. Detouring around the base had taken them at least three miles in the wrong direction. Chilled and bone-tired, she was glad they hadn't had to go on foot. She never would have made it. Still, the icy temperature wasn't what sent the shivers down her spine...there was no telling just what they would encounter from here on.
Pulling a crowbar loose from behind his saddle, Larsen set about breaking into the shed. Catching Walter's eye, Sabryn noticed that he didn't look a bit more comfortable that she did. Although armed, their weapons wouldn't do them much good if surrounded by a surprise group of military guards.
And that was only the human threat. She knew what this place was. The Army wasn't setting up a safe zone. They'd built themselves their very own concentration camp. Unlike the Nazi treatment of the Jews or even the US Government's imprisonment of the Japanese-Americans in WWII, the colonists weren't selective. They would exterminate everyone. This was war at its worst. They'd learned nothing from the past. Not a Goddamned thing.
She flinched when the lock finally broke free, sending the door on a squeaky inward creep. Pushing his way inside, Larsen flipped on his flashlight and turned to the others.
"As we'll ever be," Walter answered.
Glancing back at his brother, Erik Larsen gave Skyler a grim nod. And even though there wasn't a touch of malevolence in that two-second stare, it made Sabryn shiver all the same. She met Skyler's gaze over her shoulder. Younger than she was, yet taller than all of them, he didn't smile, didn't even blink. Glacier blue eyes stared at her, burning a hole right through her skin. Attractive enough to turn heads, there was something ugly about this man. She couldn't help but crowd closer to Walter's side.
With only three flashlights among them, the trip down the sixteen flights of stairs was slow and treacherous. Twice she had to grab Walter's arm when she stumbled blindly down the steps. Pitch dark. She couldn't see more than a foot in front of her. If it hadn't been for the uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, she could have pretended it was Alex walking behind her. So much for that idea. What was it about the Larsen men that made them so damned intimidating?
Leaning closer to the light coming from Walter's flashlight, she checked her watch. Jesus. It would be dawn before long. Where the hell were they going to go? They couldn't stay at Larsen's home forever. And they had to get out of this base, fast.
"Do you remember the number of the silo you stored your things in?" Erik asked.
"Shit. That's clear on the other side. Those soldiers are probably crawling all over that area by now."
"We haven't seen anyone going into the sheds," Sabryn mentioned. "They might still be putting up the fences."
"I don't know if I want to take that chance." Skyler's voice was gravely, and far too close for her comfort. "What's so damned important down here, anyway?"
"We've got enough supplies and guns for an entire army, ourselves."
"You don't have any guns now?"
"Just the two we have on us."
Skyler's hand slipped into her pocket, removing the weapon in one smooth move before she could react. Reaching for it, she hit the solid wall of his free arm and was immediately knocked backwards into the wall. She hit hard, banging her head against solid concrete, but the ringing in her ears was nothing next to the booming sound of a gunshot in the enclosed space.
Panic raced through her veins, numbing, as she frantically climbed to her feet. She wasn't hit. And as she met Skinner's gaze, then lowered her eyes to see him pull his bloody hand away from his right shoulder, her knees nearly buckled.
She scrambled forward, only to be restrained tightly in Skyler's grip. She cried out in pain, lifting to her tiptoes as he wrenched her arm behind her back. Walter hollered in agony as Erik gave the same treatment to his injured arm.
"What the hell are you doing?" he asked, his voice laced with pain and anger.
Skyler's harsh breath rasped past her ear. "Just stay out of it, old man. We're doing you a favor."
"What are you talking about?"
Erik Larsen's voice carried considerably less rage than his brother's, sounding almost like regret. "You don't understand, Mr. Skinner. That 'woman' is not human."
The Adirondacks in winter, on a maintenance road. In retrospect, Alex realized it wasn't one of his smarter ideas. Then again, he hadn't had much choice at the time. Luckily, the commandeered Jeep had chains on the tires. That probably saved them at least an hour of uphill climbing. Which only left an hour or so to go. Over a mile of trudging through knee-deep snow. Sweating from the exertion, he resisted the urge to peel off his coat. The unprotected parts of his body, namely his face, were frozen solid.
His breath coming out in aching bursts of fog, he glanced back down the hill to see the rest of them lagging behind. Injured and holding her left arm immobile, Scully leaned heavily on her partner through the rough climb. A few steps ahead of them, managing to keep moving only by dragging herself on low hanging tree limbs, Marita gave Alex a withering glare.
"Aren't we there yet?"
Looking past her, out at the panoramic view of Lake Champlain, he nodded. "We have to be. This mountain isn't that tall."
"Tell that to Guinness. We've been walking forever."
"If someone had turned when I told her to, we wouldn't be in this mess."
"Fuck off, Krycek." Out of breath, Scully slumped down onto a fallen log. She scowled, hopping back up as the snow soaked through her pants. "Damn it, I'm tired. Screw the invasion. I'm staying here."
"We're almost there--"
"Just give us a minute, Alex." Marita shuddered in the cold. "We'll catch up with you."
"Fine. Mulder and I will go--"
"I'm not leaving them here," Mulder argued.
"Yeah, well I'm not sitting around. Hurry your asses up, and maybe you'll survive."
Turning on his heel, Alex continued up the hill. His boots were soaked, he was colder than hell froze over, and he couldn't breathe. But he'd be damned if he was going to stop now. Jesus, a few more steps--was that too much to ask?
He didn't let the impulse to turn around sway him. Guilt nipped at his conscience, making him fist his fingers in irritation. But the minute he stepped foot onto flat ground, the racing of his heart didn't have a thing to do with blame. In the distance, just over the tree tops, light spread across the sky like a brightly lit stadium. An old historical site, a British post in the Revolution, the mountain certainly wasn't a huge tourist attraction in winter. He had no doubt that the road up the mountain hadn't seen so many trucks in months. And he was damned certain the people of the region had never seen anything like this.
Cut off by military vehicles, the surrounding forest cleared on all sides, the summit hummed with activity. Yet the men scurrying about the ground below looked like ants compared to the ship that hovered overhead.
How many times had he seen UFOs? More than he cared to count. But the sight of them still managed to take his breath away.
Staring up at the sky, he didn't notice the other man's presence until it was too late. The hard muzzle of the gun pinched against his neck, making him flinch. He didn't have to look over his shoulder to find out who was standing behind him.
The stench of freshly puffed cigarette smoke made it all too clear.
END. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Feedback is almost as sweet as Krycek's return to the X-Files...*almost* (well, except for Marita. Feedback is MUCH sweeter than her). Isahunter@aol.com