Fly Paper Chapter 1
Sunday, March 27, 2005Edit
Agents Skinner, Reyes and Doggett have interviewed the few MUFON conference attendees still at the motel and are making one last effort to collect evidence from the conference hall where Dana was abducted. Skinner completes a phone call to Washington and notices Agent Reyes waiting to talk with him. He puts his phone in his inside jacket pocket and smells his not too clean under arms. He wonders if the motel's manager would let him slip into a room for a quick shower. It had been a mad dash to catch the first available flight out of Washington after the report of Scully's abduction. Skinner briefly wonders why he still lets himself be manipulated by Mulder. He does not want to admit to himself that he is here only because he is still highly protective of Scully, probably protective to an unseemly extent. Still, Scully had left the FBI on good terms with almost everyone and few would question his loyalty to her. Not that he would change even if someone did question his actions.
Special Agent Monica Reyes can read the scowl on Skinner's face like an open book. She knows well how infrequently Skinner gets out of his office and takes command of an investigation. Reyes waits for creases between Skinner's eyes to smooth a little then she holds up towards Skinner the three digital cameras she is holding, “We have some excellent photos of the armed intruders in the act of abducting Scully."
Skinner does not trust himself to speak in a civil tone. He can't stop thinking about –and resenting- how Mulder endlessly involves Scully in his crusade to obtain solid evidence of alien UFOs. Skinner takes one of the cameras from Reyes and tries to figure out its controls. Monica can see the tense line of Skinner's mouth and bunched muscles of his jaw. She restrains herself from explaining the control switches on the camera and lets Skinner read the labels on the controls for himself.
Doggett approaches Skinner and Reyes and holds up an optical disc. “This is the disc that holds Dana’s presentation.” On their flight out from D.C. the agents had discussed the obvious hypothesis that someone had apparently wanted to keep secret what Scully was going to speak about at the MUFON conference. That hypothesis had not survived the first minutes of investigation into the abduction. "All the witnesses report that there was no attempt to take the disc."
Skinner shakes his head, “This goes deeper than what Scully had to say." He is looking at an image showing Scully being taken away through a room full of protesting conference attendees. Skinner mutters, "Who ever is behind this has no fear.” He looks intently into the LCD display of the camera and continues to scan through the stored images. It is a small display window so he is holding the camera up close to his face.
Reyes glances at Doggett, smiles, winks and mutters, “Who ever....or what ever.”
Skinner scowls at Reyes over the edge of the camera and he sounds pissed, “What do you mean by that, Agent?
Reyes maintains her bright student's smile. She is always happy to reveal things to her boss, particular since she knows Skinner is confident enough to never feel like he is being made to look stupid when he does not know everything. She explains, “Sir, look closely at the images of the ‘men’ who took Scully.” Skinner does as she suggests and slowly looks through the images that are stored in the camera a second time.
While Skinner reviews the images, Doggett is looking through a printout of the names of everyone who had been registered at the motel that weekend. Reaching the end of the listed names, he looks up from the papers and sees Monica waiting patiently for Skinner to finish studying the images. Monica looks from Skinner to John and gives a slight nod to indicate that he would not be interrupting if he spoke. Doggett's heart beats a little faster as his eyes lock to Monica's. As the day has unfolded, Reyes has fully taken on the role that he thinks of as the cheer leader, trying to prevent everyone from sinking into despair. Doggett is thankful for Monica's reminder to stay open to the possibility that all is not lost and that it might actually be possible to rescue Dana. He tells Monica, “Scully’s name is not on this registration list.”
Reyes is not surprised. She says, “According to Richard Wells, Dana drove in last night for the talk and was not planning on staying here over night." At one level of her mind, she can accept the idea that Scully would not want to stay at the MUFON conference any longer than it took to give the talk. Reyes does not yet doubt that Mulder had talked her into giving the "alien" presentation. Scully had been working for years to build her professional credentials as a medical researcher and the last thing she would have been looking for was a gig at a MUFON event.
Skinner stops looking at the images stored in the camera and holds the camera so that Reyes and Doggett can see one of the images, “Recognize anyone?” he asks sarcastically. They all recognize the Lone Gunmen in the image, pictured sitting beside the motel's swimming pool. The three FBI agents share looks that say, 'I should have known!' Anytime that Mulder can find a way to get into trouble, the Lone Gunmen are expected to be nearby.
“I did not notice anything unusual about the men who grabbed Scully.” Skinner turns the camera’s LCD screen back towards himself and scrolls back to the last few images in the memory, the images of the abduction.
Reyes holds out her hand, “May I have the camera, Sir?” Skinner glares at her then decides not to look at the images a third time and hands over the camera. “I missed it at first, too. That LCD is too tiny for a good view.” She takes the camera over to the podium and does a wireless download of the images from the camera into the Mac Mini that is connected to the room's big screen projection system. “Let’s enlarge the images.” She hits some keys on the keyboard and a picture of Scully being dragged out of the conference hall fills the screen. “There.” She switches to another image. “There.” And a third, “And there.” She cuts parts of the three images out and pastes them all into a blank page, side by side. Now it is clear that the men all look identical.
Doggett whistles. “Clone troopers, Princess Leia.” He moves to the computer, “But you missed something.” He returns the computer to one of the original full-sized images of the abduction and points to Mulder’s profile at the edge of the image. “There's Mulder, just watching the whole thing go down.”
Skinner asks, “Did they take Mulder, too?”
Reyes has skimmed through all of the statements taken from conference attendees by the Ashville police. She shakes her head, “No. The witnesses are all very sure: only Scully was taken. Those early reports we had of a third van being involved in the abduction were from confused witnesses. From what most of the witnesses report, it is clear that the third vehicle was the Lone Gunmen and Mulder following after Scully.”
Skinner grabs the printout of names from Doggett and reads down the list. “Ya, Mulder was here, alright.” He points to a name on the list, "Charles Mantle. That’s Mulder, room 242." He squares his shoulders and looking at Monica and John is struck by how they resemble two race horses pent-up at the gate. "Reyes, get these images FTPed back to Washington. Doggett, see if Mulder left anything in his room. I want to know what he thought he was up to. I’m putting an APB out on the Lone Gunmen. Those bozos stick out like a sore thumb and I’m betting Mulder is still with them." As the two younger agents bolt to comply with Skinner's requests, the Assistant Director is glad to have them both on the case. Briefly he thinks of cats and lives and wonders how many lives Dana and Fox still have banked in their accounts.
Agent Doggett is let into Mulder's motel room by a maid who hands him a card key so that he can lock the door when he is done. Doggett notices that the maid's hand is shaking as she hands him the magnetic key card. He guesses that she is probably an illegal immigrant and totally freaked out to have police and FBI swarming around. He tries to paste a friendly smile on his face and asks her, "How many of these magnetic keys are active for this room?"
The maid hesitates before answering. The door lock starts to emit a buzzing sound and the maid steps through the doorway and presses a button on the inner side of the lock, silencing the noise. Doggett moves through the door to try to see what the maid is doing. There is not much space in the narrow entry way to the room and Doggett ends up sandwiched quite close to the maid. He reads her name tag, P. Viray.
The maid tilts her head up at an angle. Doggett stands more than a foot taller than she does. She meets his eyes for the first time and seems to relax a little when she sees his smile. She replies in her excellent second-language-English, "When they coded this card in the office just now, it became the second. Mr. Mantle has the other. Please bring this one back to the office when you are done, Sir."
He assures her, "I will, Ms. Viray." She moves to leave, but he asks, "Did you speak to Mr. Mantle or notice if he was with anyone else, maybe other guests?"
The maid stops in the hallway and turns back to look at him again. She shakes her head and replies, "No, Sir."
"Okay, thanks." The maid departs down the hallway and Doggett lets the room door swing shut. He quickly collects Mulder's belongings: shaving kit, a change of clothes, a small gym bag. Doggett puts all of Mulder's items into the bag. He leaves his business card on the desk in case Mulder returns. Just as Doggett leaves the room, agent Reyes comes down the hall. Doggett holds up the bag, "Mulder travels light." The door lock starts to buzz and Doggett hits the warning buzzer kill switch on the inside of the door.
Reyes wants to have a quick look around Mulder's room so she moves past Doggett, brushing her hip against him as she goes through the doorway. She resists the temptation to make a snide comment about Mulder never having encumbered his life with any excess baggage, but she is tired of expressing editorial comments on Mulder's fanaticism and single mindedness. Doggett watches Monica inspect the room and wonders if she will see anything that he missed.
While she scans the room, Monica tries to generously let Mulder off the hook with a playfully flippant jab, "It's the incredible lightness of UFOlogy. THEY," she says with a drawl, making reference to space aliens, "have serious weight restrictions, so if you hope to hitch a ride to Aldeb'rin you need to pack light and keep your affairs in order."
Monica bends over to peer into the lower cabinet of the wooden chest that holds the room's television set. She glances over her shoulder to make sure that John is watching her tush. "You look tired, John." She gestures to the bed and asks, "Would you like to lay down for a few minutes?"
Doggett grins. This is the Monica that he has never seen in a public setting. Briefly he wonders what Skinner would do if he was ever subjected to Monica's bawdy humor. But Doggett knew that Reyes was too careful of protocol to let her hair down in front of a superior. Doggett automatically sends a silly reply right back to Monica, "I've never had a desire to get into Mulder's bed."
Monica laughs and she is glad that they can keep up some good cheer. She fears the sluggishness of thought that can descend if she lets her fears take hold. Keeping a positive frame of mind allows her to keep her creativity flowing. She knows that gloom and doom keys Doggett to a heightened state of attentiveness, but she also knows that he can only sustain that kind of peak fight-or-flight efficiency for short times and it is best if she can knock him out of that state if danger is not imminent. Finding nothing in Mulder's room, she exits into the hallway. As she passes close to Doggett she winks at him and mutters quietly, "Mulder's not here, I am."
As they start walking down the hall, Doggett thinks -Oh, you know that I noticed, Monica!- John knows that Reyes can play his emotions with casual ease, but she has never abused the power that she holds over him. Through the years of working as partners they have developed a complex ritual of private games and play that only John and Monica know anything about. Doggett constantly marvels at Monica's ability to effortlessly improvise that play so as to keep it fresh and positive. Outside of his marriage, Doggett has never had such an intimate adult relationship, and each day that he shares with Reyes reminds him how lucky he is to have a work relationship that can be so rich and endlessly stimulating. The buzz of the door knocks him out of these pleasant thoughts.
The doors from the hallway to the guest rooms of the motel are set to give a warning buzz each time they are opened. To shut off the buzz, either a cutoff button inside the door must be pushed or the magnetic key must be inserted in the outside key reader. A sign on each door explains that this is a reminder for guests to take their key and lock the door. Doggett turns around, returns to the door of Mulder's room and uses the key to shut off the buzzer. Doggett quickly reviews the security instructions that are printed on the door then the two agents walk down the hall and past the fire extinguisher. Doggett says, "You know it's Aldeberon." He enjoys watching her try to act stupid; she really can't do it at all.
"There must be an "Aldeb'rin"....somewhere" She sings quietly, "Somewhere, out there, reflected as pale moonlight."
The sound of Reyes voice sends a chill up Doggett's spine. He has never heard her sing except when they are alone. He is enchanted by her singing voice and has often wondered if she has training or if she just naturally can sing so sweetly.
Reyes reaches into her coat pocket, "Nothing was in his rental car except this map." She hands a road map to Doggett and he hands her Mulder's bag.
They go down the stairs and stop in front of the rental car. Doggett looks up at the sky and says, "I wonder why it just occurred to me to wonder if we and Scully still share the same big sky."
Reyes is pleased that John so closely follows her thoughts. "I've had the same feeling, as if Dana had slipped away, further away than she has ever been before."
In the parking lot, Skinner is telling an employee of the car rental company to lock Mulder's car again. "I know the car is due back at your lot by five O'clock, but I want you to leave it here until you hear from the FBI. I've already asked the motel manager to let it stay here. If Mulder comes back, he may need a car."
Skinner and an FBI electronics technician join Doggett and Reyes on the sidewalk in front of the rental car. Doggett is spreading the road map on the hood of the car and Reyes is looking through Mulder's belongings in the bag. Skinner says, "The GPS tracker is in the rental car and we'll leave a video unit in Mulder's room."
Doggett looks up from the map. "I doubt if Mulder will come back. There was nothing of interest in his room.....tooth brush and a pair of boxers. Only strange thing is this map. It's a map of Maryland." Doggett studies the map intensely.
The technician clears his throat. Doggett looks up, reaches in his pocket and hands the magnetic key for Mulder's room to the technician, "Room 242. Take the key back to the office when you are done."
The technician leaves to install a video camera in Mulder's room. Doggett starts to fold up the map but makes a mess of it. Skinner asks rhetorically, "What was Mulder thinking when he set up this crazy operation?"
Reyes briefly watches Doggett struggle then she takes the map from Doggett and neatly folds it while replying to Skinner's question, "Strangely, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if Scully was behind this whole fiasco, with Mulder actually doing all he could to protect her." In a few seconds she has smoothed all of the map's creases and has it neatly folded to the one panel showing College Park. Doggett and Skinner look at each other and shrug; wondering how the FBI got along before there were female agents.
Reyes points to a spot on the map and says, "There is what looks like a small pencil mark near College Park." She points to the edge of the map, "And these numbers along the margin match the mile counts between College Park and BWI airport."
Skinner says, "I want to know anyone in College Park that has a connection to either Scully or Mulder. Check the airlines and see if Mulder has a flight booked." Agents Reyes and Doggett take out their phones and start making calls.
The Alien Genome ProjectEdit
Later, agents Reyes and Doggett are on their second flight of the day. Back in Mulder's motel room, Reyes had been correct about Doggett being tired. He had been up late the night before, reading, and only had two hours sleep before being told to catch the flight to Ashville. Now Doggett is trying to sleep in an airliner seat that is too small for him and Reyes is looking at Mulder's map of Maryland. She knows that Mulder still lives near W.D.C. in Virginia. Reyes mutters, "What makes no sense is that Mulder would fly to Baltimore in order to get to College Park."
Doggett mutters in terse reply without opening his eyes, "Side trip."
Reyes realizes that she is keeping Doggett awake. For a moment she thinks about trying to catch a nap, snuggled up next to him, but she feels the weight of Scully's need driving her to press ahead with the investigation. Monica wants to know exactly what she is going to be doing and where she is going when the plane lands. Besides, she tells herself, I got enough sleep last night. She folds the map again and opens her laptop, enters a password, and reads the notes that she entered earlier:
Scully has been using molecular biology laboratory facilities at The University of Maryland Division of Human Genetics, in Baltimore. University of Maryland also had on record that Scully had visited the Materials Research Center at the College Park campus.
Reyes looks out the window and sees that their flight is turning towards Baltimore from the northwest. She can see Frederick. Although Monica and Dana had grown quite close during the time that they had worked together, they had not had much contact since Scully left the FBI. But now Reyes had reviewed the FBI's current dossier on Scully. Monica starts to type:
Scully has been living in a rented house in Damascus, MD. for the past two years. Damascus is about in the center of a triangle formed by Fort Detrick, the University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore and the College Park campus.
Reyes takes out an optical disc with a copy of Scully's MUFON presentation and steps through the slides.
The first slide is the title slide:
The Alien Genome Project by Dana Scully
Reyes is immediately repulsed by the sickly green letters of the title. Monica muses, –It looks like the credits for some college student's horror movie project.- The next few slides are more professional and outline Scully's work as a consultant for a government research project based at Fort Detrick that has been developing biological warfare agent detectors. Scully had been involved in field testing the detectors and suggesting modifications
Reyes comes to a slide titled "False Positives" followed by a list of field test locations. The next dozen slides show her analysis of each case and an account for the false detection of an apparent biological warfare agent. Reyes yawns and shakes her head at Scully's methodical devotion to detail. She mutters to herself, "Those MUFON geeks would have been bored to tears." It crosses her mind that maybe they hired the hit men so that they could get out of Scully's lecture and hit the bars early.
But then she sees the slide for the last remaining false positive:
Molecular analysis unusual nucleic acid backbone sugar: tagatose six distinct nucleotides 3 allowed base pairs
The next few slides then describe how the biological warfare agent detector was able to detect the unusual nucleic acid.
The plane has reached the gate and passengers start to gather their belongings. Reyes goes back and notes the origin of the sample containing the unusual nucleic acid. It is listed as, "FBI- missing person crime scene."
The final group of slides deals with Scully's on-going effort to adapt DNA sequencing technology to the task of determining the sequence of nucleotides in the unusual nucleic acid sample.
Reyes wakes up Doggett and they leave the plane. "I think I know why Mulder was thinking about going to College Park. Scully must have gotten the Materials Research Center there to help her with analysis of the alien DNA."
Doggett rubs his face, shaking off sleep. The flight had been too short and his attempt to get some sleep disturbed by anxiety over Scully's abduction. Doggett's intuition told him that the trail had instantly and unnaturally gone cold and that the conventional investigation methods of the FBI would fail to deal with yet another X-file case. As usual, he was starting to pin his hopes on the unconventional mind of his partner. As they navigate through the crowded airport, Doggett asks, "What is this about alien DNA?"
Reyes quickly summarizes the key elements of Scully's planned presentation at the MUFON conference. Doggett asks, "So Scully was trying to decode the gene sequence of this unusual nucleic acid sample?" Skepticism is evident in his voice.
Reyes nods. "Think about it, John. This is the perfect way to detect aliens. Aliens can't possibly remove every molecular trace of their presence on Earth. Scully apparently has an alien DNA sample and has been working to show that it contains alien genetic instructions."
They reach a shuttle bus that will carry them to a car rental shop. They wedge themselves into a small bench seat of the bus and Reyes turns partly sideways to make room for Doggett's shoulders. She places both of her hands on John's right leg and lightly squeezes his thigh. "John, do you think Scully would have taken evidence with her when she left the FBI?"
Doggett's head whips to turn to the side so he can see if she is serious. He asks in disbelief, "Why do you ask that?"
Monica tells him about the source that Scully had listed for the alien DNA sample. John offers his guess, "Walking off with FBI evidence seems more like something Mulder might do. Scully, as an ethical medical doctor would not compromise biological samples from a crime scene."
Monica zigzags the finger nails of her right hand along the inner surface of his thigh. "Think about the nature of this evidence. Scully leaves the FBI and then gains access to new, highly sensitive detectors of biological materials. And I happen to know that Scully does have at least one sample from an FBI case. Remember that device that she had removed from the back of her neck?"
What Monica is doing to his leg is making it hard for John to think, but he says, "I don't think that qualifies as official FBI evidence. You think that device contained alien DNA?"
Reyes shrugs. "I don't know, but I think that the detection methods she was using are so sensitive that she would not have to take an entire piece of evidence out of the FBI, maybe just a tiny fragment would be enough, and Scully would be comfortable taking diagnostic samples from pieces of evidence for forensic analysis."
Doggett realized that Monica has a reasonable hypothesis. He says, "Okay then, you seem to have a handle on this DNA angle. We'll split up from here. You hit the two University of Maryland labs and I'll head north to Scully's place and Fort Detrick."
Reyes nods agreement. "There is one thing about Scully's presentation that bothers me."
Doggett asks, "What's that?"
Reyes replies, "Calling it 'The Alien Genome Project.' That is so NOT Scully. I mean the word 'alien' is nowhere else in the whole presentation."
Doggett chuckles. "It stinks of Mulder."
Reyes asks, "Do you think Mulder put her up to it?"
Doggett shrugs. "Why else would Scully even be at a MUFON event? I think it was Mulder trying to attract someone's attention. Scully was the bait." Doggett sounds bitter. He silently curses Mulder for making use of Scully in such a way; what essentially turned out to be a ritual human sacrifice.
"Fly paper?" Monica asks. The bus reaches its destination and they stand up. "Well, if so, Mulder should have known better." Reyes disparages the Lone Gunmen. "Placing Scully's life on the line and trying to back her up with the help of the three stooges seems mighty lame, but I'm not sure we know the whole story yet."
They exit the bus and get in line to rent cars. "I don't know. Maybe Mulder did not even know that the Lone Gunmen would be there." Doggett speculates, "Maybe I'll find something at Scully's house. A message from Mulder or something explaining his plan."
They are occupied for a few minutes getting keys to their rental cars. Reyes advises Doggett, "Your only chance is that Scully left something on her computer. When she was still with the FBI she was using a hardware encryption device that the Lone Gunmen gave her. I heard that when Scully was run out of the FBI they spent six months trying to crack into the computer files that she left on her office computer and eventually they had to give up. You'll never get into her files without her password."
They go into the parking lot in search of their cars. "Ya, I've heard rumors about Scully's computer, that the NSA dismantled it chip by chip and could not even find the hidden encryption system. They threw all of their computing power they have at her hard drive and could not unscramble the text of her notes."
Doggett puts his bag into his rental car. "Anyhow, thanks for the warning about Dana's computer, but Skinner and I were involved with getting her security clearance approved for working at Fort Detrick. Given her track record with data files, they insisted that there be a fail-safe on Scully's computer. Her keyboard was bugged and Skinner told me he could get access to her password."
Reyes groans. "That's a dirty trick, John, she's a private citizen now."
Doggett finally finds his rental car. "Private citizen with a military security clearance."
Reyes sees her car just a few more spaces down the row. "A dirty trick, but it might help save her life."
Doggett unlocks the trunk of his car and with military precision executes the required planning for when partners are forced to split up during an investigation. "We are dealing with a criminal conspiracy of unknown depth." Some irrational fear floods his mind with the idea that he may never see Reyes alive again. He tries to drink the image of her in with his eyes. "Frequent phone check-ins with Washington and call me if you find anything of interest."
Monica places a hand on his shoulder, "Ditto for you, Agent Doggett. I'm puzzled why we have not yet heard from Mulder. By now he must know that he bit off more than he can chew. I'm afraid that he has gotten himself into a position where he can't contact us anymore, even if he wants to."
"If you are right, that probably means we are dealing with five abductees, counting the three bozos." Doggett tosses his bag in his rental car and starts to get behind the steering wheel then calls to Reyes, "Hey, can I have that road map? Where the hell is Damascus, anyhow?"
The Sunday evening traffic of people returning home from their weekend excursions was compounded by road repair work. It is after dark by the time Reyes reaches the University of Maryland Medical Center. She is tired and hungry and distressed that it is almost a day since Scully's abduction and the investigation has found nothing significant and useful that might help them locate Scully.
With the help of her cell phone and a cooperative Medical Center operator, she is able to find her way through the maze of hospital complex hallways to the research lab where Scully has been doing her DNA work. She finds room D934 and reads the sign next to the door:
Dr. W. Westlake. Diagnostic Genetic Assays Laboratory.
Before Reyes can knock, a moving figure can be seen through the small frosted glass window of the door and the door opens a crack. Reyes holds up her badge to the crack, "FBI agent Monica Reyes. I think I spoke to you by phone about an hour ago."
The door is opened all the way by graduate student Karen O'fein. "Come in." Karen locks the door behind them and somewhat self-consciously explains, "We're told to keep the doors locked at night. Sometimes people wander over here from the hospital wing." Karen turns to face Monica and stands wringing her hands. She asks hopefully, "Any sign of Dana?"
Karen is young and frail and Reyes can understand her concerns about security, Monica herself had felt uneasy walking through the mostly deserted corridors of the hospital research wing. Reyes replies, "No reports on Dana's current location have been received." Monica glances left and right, "Are you the only one around?"
Karen nods, sending strands of her fine dark hair dancing along the angles of her pure white cheeks. "It is always quiet here on Sunday nights."
Reyes is looking around the lab, trying to guess which of the half dozen work benches might be the one where Scully did her lab work. Monica is annoyed with herself and mentally corrects herself- where Scully DOES her lab work. "Why are you here on a Sunday night?"
Karen shrugs. "It's a good time to get work done. I'm trying to complete my research and graduate. I already have a postdoc lined up in Oregon." At that moment Monica's stomach lets out a world class growl. "Hey, would you like a snack and some tea?" Monica nods but is busy looking at all of the interesting items in the lab and remains silent. Karen leads Monica to her desk at the end of a lab bench. "We are not allowed to eat in here, but I can get away with anything on weekends. Dr. Westlake goes out sailing 50 weekends of the year." She has an electric water heating pot on her desk and several bags of dried fruit and nuts. Karen opens a drawer and finds a second mug and some packages of tea, "These are the choices," She holds up the packages for Reyes to look at.
Reyes notices one packet mysteriously labeled "Orange Dust" and says, "I have to try this one." She reads the label while Karen pours the mug full of hot water. Monica rips open the packet and places the tea bag in the mug. Karen pulls a second chair over from the adjacent desk and they sit down. Monica munches fruit and nuts while they talk.
The entire room looks sparkling clean. Reyes asks, "Why the rule about not eating in here?"
Karen explains, "We do use some nasty chemicals, like DNA intercalators that can cause mutations, but nobody who works in this lab is a slob, so it is safe to eat in here."
Reyes realizes she has dropped some nut crumbs and they are perched conspicuously on the shelf of her breast. She flicks off the crumbs and wonders if she qualifies as a slob. She asks, "What if somebody had an accident and spilled some of these intercalators? I mean, how much would it take to cause a mutation?"
Karen is impressed by Monica's statuesque figure. She looks down at her own more modest bosom and tries to imagine if it might be possible for even a few food crumbs to gain purchase there. She tries to explain about intercalators, "Intercalators are not like radiation, you have to ingest them, not just be near a source. But they are like radiation in that there is no safe level of exposure. Just one intercalator molecule in the wrong place at the wrong time could cause a mutation that might trigger a cell to change, maybe causing dangerous cell growth, cancer."
The idea of microscopically small quantities of a chemical causing a possibly lethal toxicity slackens Reyes case of the munchies. She picks up the mug of tea and sips. "This is good tea." They discuss varieties and brands for a minute then Reyes says, "On the phone you indicated that you know Dr. Scully."
"I've known her for two years." Karen smiles wistfully and looks off into space. She reminisces, "Dana was impressed by the odd teas I find. She and I would make up alternative names for them. We called this one 'agent orange'."
Reyes asks, "Did Dana tell you that she used to be an FBI agent?"
Karen nods, "Yes, we got to know each other well, but I got the feeling that she was a lab geek and did not do the sort of things you do....field work."
Reyes smiles at Scully's modesty. "Dana never shied away from field work. She was a field agent for years; she just never gave up doing lab work at the same time. She's probably the most versatile agent the FBI ever had."
Karen nods. "I don't think there is a molecular biology technique she doesn't know about. I've learned a lot from her."
"Do you know what Dana's research was involved with?"
"Yes." Karen stands up and leads Reyes to one of the desks in the lab. "This is Dana's desk."
Reyes taps the keyboard of the computer on Scully's desk. A password dialog window comes up on the screen.
Karen says, "Hey, don't you need a search warrant or something?"
Reyes takes out her cell phone and tries to contact Skinner. "No, not really. If we are going to get Dana back, I need any information that might help us find where she has been taken. It's a safe bet that she would not object to me accessing her computer files in an effort to investigate her abduction."
Skinner answers the call, "Skinner."
Reyes turns away from Karen and speaks to Skinner, "Reyes here. I've got Scully's computer in Baltimore. Doggett told me you can hack her password."
Skinner says, "Give me the number on the keyboard."
Reyes flips over the keyboard and reads off, "KY2230745GRZ7a."
Skinner repeats the number back and then says, "Give me 5 minutes."
Reyes looks at her watch, puts her phone in her pocket and turns back to Karen. "Dana was abducted by armed men just about 24 hours ago, but we have learned nothing about where they took her."
Karen says, "On the phone you mentioned it happened at some UFO thing?"
"A MUFON meeting in North Carolina," Reyes replies. "A group of UFOlogy enthusiasts."
"Ya, that's it. Dana was laughing about it all week while she was putting together her presentation. For a whole week she kept saying things like, 'Mulder's a sucker' and 'Mulder has flaky friends in low places'." Karen points to a picture of Mulder on a nearby book shelf. "He came into town about six months ago and took Dana to dinner."
"Mulder and Scully worked together at the FBI." Reyes picks up the small framed photo of Mulder.
"That's what Dana told me, and something about Mulder's obsessions being the cause of her getting kicked out of the FBI."
Reyes returns the picture to the shelf, "Dana was not really kicked out. She was given the chance to resign and the FBI helped get her a new job. Do you know the nature of her work?" She does not add that it was Mulder who got kicked out.
"We're all working together on Dr. Westlake's Army contract. Dana is our contact with the lab up at Fort Detrick. I'm sure she knows aspects of the work that I'm unaware of."
Reyes asks, "You did not hear that Dana terminated her consulting work with the Army last week?"
Karen nods. "Dana said it was a temporary leave, that she was going to be doing some traveling and speaking for a while. She left for North Carolina on Friday. She said she was going to make a bit of a vacation out of it."
"Did Mulder call and speak with Dana last week?"
Karen shakes her head. "Not that I know of, but I probably wouldn't know. You still have not told me exactly what happened to Dana. Is this Mulder character a suspect?"
"No." She shows Karen a picture of one of the clones that abducted Scully. "This is the suspect. Look familiar?"
"No. Who is it?" Karen asks.
Reyes' phone rings and she answers the call, "Reyes."
It is Skinner calling back. "Try this: Majestic-hybrid."
Reyes enters "Majestic-hybrid" into the password dialog and gains access the operating system. "I'm in," She tells Skinner.
Skinner instructs Reyes, "Establish a connection with the internet and leave it running. We will take-over the machine and download everything from this end."
"Let me know if you find anything about her contacts with the College Park lab." Reyes confirms the internet connection.
Skinner says, "The Materials Research Center at the College Park campus seems to be a dead end. Nobody there seems to know Scully. The computer data is on its way. Later."
Reyes pockets her phone and turns back to Karen. "We are trying to find out if Dana was collaborating with anyone at the College Park campus."
Karen says, "Sometimes Dr. Tekalni comes up from the College Park campus to work with Scully. And I know Dana had been going down to her lab a lot for a while, too."
"What does Tekalni work on?"
Karen shrugs. "It's fairly mysterious. Something to do with nanotechnology. She and Dana kept talking about atomic microscopy. I think Tekalni was reading the structure of molecules in some of Dana's samples by atomic force microscopy."
Reyes asks Karen to write down "Tekalni" so that she is sure of the spelling. "When was the last time Dr. Tekalni was here?"
"Hmm. It has been a while. A couple of months ago she was here every week but she has not been here for about a month."
Reyes logs off of the computer. The hard drive indicator light kept flashing as the techs in Washington copied its contents. "Did Scully seem nervous or upset about anything this past week?"
"She seemed a bit giddy. I figured she was excited about having a chance to talk about her work, but all she did was joke about those MUFU guys....she did not seem to take them seriously. You know, I think she has a soft spot for that Mulder guy. Maybe she was just excited to be meeting him in North Carolina."
"Thanks for your time." Reyes hands Karen a card. "If you think of anything else, like maybe a name Scully might have mentioned recently.....anything unusual recen-"
Karen cut in, "There is one thing I have been wondering about. After her work with Dr. Tekalni wound down, Dana ordered some unusual enzymes and then did a bunch of sequencing runs. I saw her collect a sample of her own blood and I think she was using her own DNA as a control. Why would she do that? We have standardized human genomic DNA in the freezer. When I asked her she just said, 'I know my own DNA like the back of my hand.' What is that supposed to mean?"
"I guess she's just used to using her own DNA." Reyes remembers some of the medical school "war" stories Dana had told her about and speculates, "I think she started doing research as an undergraduate. Back then they may not have been used to all the conveniences that are available to molecular biologists now."
Karen shakes her head. "You know what I thought? I wondered if Dana is sick or something. I know some people who experiment on themselves. I thought, maybe she is trying to treat herself for some genetic disease. She started reading all these papers about genetic engineering." Karen points to a stack of journal articles on Scully's desk.
Reyes heads to the door, "Try not to worry about Dana. As far as I know she is in perfect health. I think she was going to talk about some biowarfare topic and the people at Fort Detrick found out and stopped her."
Karen sounds shocked, "You think she was abducted by the Army?"
"It's a logical guess. My partner is heading for Fort Detrick, with luck he'll find her there getting a lecture about government secrets." Reyes is just making up a story for Karen and is in a hurry to go, hoping that she can locate and speak with Dr. Tekalni. Reyes turns the bolt to unlock the door and exits to the hallway. "Thanks for dinner and your help, Karen."
Karen follows and locks the lab with a key. "I'll walk out to my car with you. Sometimes it's creepy down there at night."
They take an elevator down to the underground parking garage. Reyes asks, "Have you ever been out to Scully's house?"
Karen gets into her car. "Ya. She had the whole lab out there when she moved in. Why?"
"Nothing much. It just occurred to me that maybe she has a house mate or a boy friend or something."
"I don't think so. She has often said how quiet it is out where she lives. I think she gets lonely out there. She's often in here with me working on the weekends. You know, I don't think she has a real life. I hope I don't end up like that."
The usual suspectsEdit
Karen drives away and Reyes gets into her rental car. She calls the College Park campus operator and gets into a mechanized directory that provides both an office and a lab phone number for Dr. Tekalni. She tries both numbers and gets no answer. Next, she tries to get a home phone number for Dr. Tekalni, but none is listed publicly. She calls Skinner and puts a request in for Tekalni's home phone number. Skinner says, "Dr. Tekalni? I saw that name. Here it is. She's not in the materials division. She's listed under applied physics. I'll get back to you with the phone number."
Reyes calls Doggett and he answers, "John Doggett."
Reyes says, "Hi, John, this is Monica. Where are you?" She puts on her hands-free phone gear and starts the car.
He replies, "I'm heading for Frederick. I'll find a room near Fort Detrick and get over there first thing Monday."
Reyes drives out of the nearly empty parking garage and into street traffic. "I was lucky enough to find a student here at the lab and I sent the contents of Dana's lab computer to Washington. I'm going to try to contact a Dr. Tekalni who did some DNA work with Scully at the College Park campus. I'll probably just go home tonight."
Doggett asks, "No luck finding Dr. Westlake?"
Reyes replies, "I did get through to his wife. She confirmed that he's sailing on the Bay and never takes a phone when he's out sailing. He's expected back sometime Monday."
Doggett says, "We're not doing real great are we? Scully's rental house is like a bachelor pad. No home-like touches. She doesn't even have cable, so I pulled the hard drive out of the computer. I'll try to FTP the contents to Washington from my hotel tonight."
Reyes' phone chimes. "Hold on, John. Incoming call." The other call is a clerk at the FBI getting back with the home phone number for Dr. Tekalni. Reyes takes the home phone number and street address and connects back to Doggett. "Westlake's student indicated that it was Mulder who got Scully to talk at the MUFON conference. I don't think Dana realized there was any danger in her giving a talk down there."
John says, "I'm sure it was Mulder who provided the MUFON connections, but I can't see him dreaming up the alien DNA angle."
Monica concurs. "Somehow I also feel that Dana was not simply dragged into all of this by Mulder. She's the DNA expert. Maybe she told Mulder about this unusual nucleic acid she was working on and he got the idea of calling it alien DNA."
Doggett fills Reyes in on some information from Washington. "According to Skinner, the army okayed the contents of Scully's talk. She sent them the contents of her presentation last week, they reviewed it and they didn't care. They were puzzled by her title for the talk and told her that there was no evidence that she had found alien DNA, but it was only her personal reputation at risk if she wanted to talk about aliens to some UFO buffs."
Reyes says, "Okay, John. I'm going to try to phone Dr. Tekalni. Maybe I can talk to her tonight. If I get anything from her I'll call you later. Otherwise, call me Monday from Fort Detrick."
Doggett signs off, "Okay. Good night, Monica. Drive carefully."
"Good night, John." She calls the home phone number of Dr. Tekalni.
Dr. Tekalni answers the call, "Hello."
"This is agent Monica Reyes of the FBI calling for Doctor Tekalni."
"Dr. Tekalni, I understand you have done some DNA research with Doctor Dana Scully."
"Yes. That work was completed about a month ago."
"Dr. Scully was abducted by armed men yesterday. Do you have any idea why someone might kidnap Dr. Scully?"
Dr. Tekalni gasps. "Abducted? You think it has something to do with her work? I know she was working on an army-funded project, something to do with biological warfare."
Reyes replies, "We are working on the assumption that her abduction is related to her contract with the army and the work on DNA."
Dr. Tekalni says, "Well, that DNA she had was certainly interesting. Unique. But Dana would not tell me much about it. When I pressed for more information, Dana said that access to more detailed information than what she had told me about was restricted by the military."
Reyes asks, "Did you ever meet Fox Mulder?"
"Not that I recall."
Reyes explains, "I have reason to believe that Mulder may have been planning to visit you. Either today or Monday."
Dr. Tekalni is puzzled. "Not to my knowledge. But wait. I have not checked my office voicemail since Friday. Hold on." Several minutes pass. Reyes reaches Interstate 295 heading south towards Washington. Takalni comes back on the connection to Reyes. "A Mr. Mulder left me a message. He said he would be in Maryland today and he wanted to meet with me. He mentioned Scully. Said he knew of me through Dana."
Reyes asks, "Why do you think Mulder wanted to meet with you?"
"It must have something to do with that strange DNA Dana is working with. Who is this Mulder, anyhow?" Takalni asks.
Reyes replies, "That's a rather complicated story. Can I meet you tonight?"
Dr. Tekalni sounds nervous. "You have gotten me a little bit upset. You tell me that Dana has been kidnapped and I do not even know who you are."
"I'm sorry to contact you in this way, but we are trying to find any information that might help us figure out who abducted Dana. Let me give you the number of my office, the FBI in Washington. Call and ask them about me and this investigation. Then call me back at this number. I'd prefer to meet you tonight. If you can think of anyone who would abduct Dana, you need to tell me that right now. Otherwise, I'd like to make an appointment to see you first thing Monday."
Dr. Tekalni takes the phone number for the FBI. "I'll call you back."
Reyes is off of highway 295 and getting close to the town where Dr. Tekalni lives by the time her cell phone rings. "Monica Reyes, here."
"Pearle Tekalni. I just spoke to someone named Skinner at the FBI. He says I can trust you. Let me give you my address."
"I have your address. You can expect me in about five or ten minutes." Monica breaks the connection and tries to figure out the local streets leading to Tekalni's house. After a few wrong turns it is close to ten minute before she finds it. A man opens the door after Reyes rings. "I'm Agent Reyes with the FBI. Are you Mr. Tekalni?"
The man nods. "My last name is different, but I'm her husband. Please come in." He leads Reyes to an adjoining room.
Pearle Tekalni is sitting on a sofa with a laptop. "Have a seat, Agent Reyes, I'm just checking my email. I discovered that Dana sent me an email on Friday saying that she would be passing through Washington on Monday or Tuesday and she would stop by the lab if I was going to be available."
Reyes sits in a chair and asks, "Did Dana mention Mulder in her email?"
"No." Pearle turns to her husband, "Maybe you can check on the tea." She turns back to Reyes. "Would you like some tea? I decided to have some. I doubt I am going to get much sleep tonight."
Reyes leans back in the chair. "Yes, please, I'll have tea." Reyes smells something like pastry and realizes that she is still hungry after the snack with Karen. "I want to tell you that we are doing everything possible to find Dana. I'm not sure if you know this, but she was an FBI agent until about two years ago."
"Yes, Dana once mentioned that." Pearle closes her lap top.
"I'm not sure if this will make you feel any better, but Dana is tough and resourceful. She has been abducted before, when she was an agent, and she always seems to find her way home."
Mr. Tekalni brings in tea and hot pecan cinnamon rolls. Reyes' stomach growls and they all laugh. Pearle says, "If my motherly instincts are still working, you have not been taking care of yourself. Dana is your friend?"
Reyes takes a bite of a cinnamon roll and finds her teeth threatening to lock up on its content of an embedded sticky caramel swirl. After a sip of tea she finally replies, "Yes, I worked with Dana when she was with the FBI. We became quite close."
Mr. Tekalni sits down next to his wife. "I'm surprised that you are on the case if it involves someone you know."
Reyes offers a defense of the practice. "In cases like this it can be useful to involve people who know the victim well."
Pearle asks, "And what if you are so anxious to find Dana that you do not take time to eat and you do not bother to sleep and then you start showing fatigue and making errors?"
Reyes asks for a second roll. "Then I rely on good luck to find someone who will feed me and remind me to take care of myself. Do not worry about me. I live close to here and I plan to sleep in my own bed tonight. I'm waiting to talk to Dr. Westlake, but it looks like he is out of reach until sometime Monday."
Pearle says, "Yes, I met Westlake several times when I was meeting with Dana in Baltimore. I understand he is a sailing enthusiast."
Reyes asks, "Did Dr. Westlake closely supervise Dana?"
Pearle replies, "No. Westlake works with his students. The contract that he has with the Army is basically a way to buy Dana lab bench space and access to the molecular biology facilities in Baltimore. There may be some technology transfer, too, but mostly what Westlake gets is money. He has no say in Dana's work."
Reyes is not happy to hear this. She had been hoping that Westlake might be working closely with Dana and be able to provide some insight into her plans. "Did Dana tell you that she had taken leave from her work for the Army?"
"No." Pearle is surprised. She asks, "When did this happen?"
Reyes replies, "The leave took effect about a week ago. I have been told that it is temporary, to give Dana time to travel and do some speaking."
Pearle gestures to her laptop. "I'm surprised. I could show you a rather heated exchange of emails I had with Dana about a month ago. I was trying to get her to agree to publish our results on the unusual DNA she is working on. She refused. I even requested that I be able to give a presentation on the DNA analysis at a scientific meeting and she refused. She claimed it had to be cleared by the army and that they did not want to permit it."
Reyes wonders why Dana changed her mind towards speaking publicly about her DNA research. "Well, something changed about a week ago. She requested and got permission to give a presentation in North Carolina. She was just starting to speak when a gang of armed men grabbed her right out of the conference hall."
"Strange. I was upset with Dana, but now it sounds like she might have been protecting me. I can't help thinking that maybe the army is involved in the abduction."
Reyes shakes her head. "Not as far as the FBI can determine. The army approved the content of her presentation. Here it is." Reyes hands Pearle the optical disc with Scully's presentation.
Pearle inserts the disk and brings up the presentation. She laughs at the first slide. "Alien DNA? Is this a joke?"
Reyes grins. "Do you know Karen O'fein?"
Pearle narrows her eyes. "Isn't that one of Westlake's students? Wee bit of a lass?"
"Yes. That's her," Monica replies.
"I know her," Pearle explains, "but not well."
Reyes continues her thought, "She told me that Mulder was responsible for the title of Scully's talk."
Pearle scans through the rest of the publication. "It is strange that Scully would agree to use that title. What kind a meeting was she speaking at?"
"A MUFON event."
Tekalni's husband laughs. Pearle asks, "What is 'MUFON'?"
Pearle's husband explains, "UFO nuts.....er, enthusiasts."
Reyes explains further, "Mulder has long been interested in finding evidence for aliens on Earth. It seems likely that it was Mulder's idea to interpret the results of the DNA analysis in terms of aliens."
Pearle frowns. "I hope the FBI does not think that aliens abducted Dana."
Reyes shows Pearle the photo of one of the men who abducted Dana. "Do you recognize this man?"
Pearle hands the photo to her husband and she opens her laptop. She brings up an image. "About two weeks ago there was a break-in at my lab. One of my students has a webcam on his computer that captures an image of the inside of the lab every five minutes. This image shows the person who apparently broke into the lab."
The webcam image is not very good. The camera was not set up for the purpose of photographing people in the position where the intruder was detected. Reyes is not sure if the man's face matches the appearance of the group of clones who abducted Scully. Reyes asks, "What was taken from your lab?"
"Nothing, but my office adjoins the lab and that night the hard drive of my computer was taken."
"I assume that your hard drive contained information about the DNA you and Scully were working on."
"Yes, it was annoying to have to get a new drive. My computer archives data to servers on the university network every night, so nothing was lost."
Reyes says, "I need the original webcam images and I'd like to send all of your emails and other information related to Dana and the DNA work to Washington."
End of Chapter 1Edit
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