Monday. March 28, 2005Edit
Reyes is dreaming. She is on an airplane with Doggett. Everything morphs into an external view of a flying disc. A set of lights on the bottom of the disc starts to spin and an annoying buzz comes from the floating ship. Doggett says, "Is that my cell?"
Reyes wakes up and realizes the buzz is her cell phone. She is totally disoriented and by the time she finds her phone it is quiet, the display reads: missed call 5:47am.
Reyes realizes she is in Dr. Tekalni's house. They had talked late into the night and then Pearle had insisted that Reyes stay there for the night. Reyes had agreed and had been glad to not have to face another hour of driving to reach her house in Virginia. Particularly since she would just have to drive back that distance Monday.
Reyes calls the phone number for the missed call and is connected to the FBI image analysis lab. "Monica Reyes, here. I just missed your call."
The FBI technician says, "Sorry to wake you up, but I thought you would want to be brought up to date."
Reyes notes that the technician does not sound a bit sorry. "Yes, of course. What do you have?"
"We were able to clean up both the North Carolina images and the Maryland webcam images. I'm 95% certain that the man who was in that lab two weeks ago is part of the gang that abducted Dana Scully. We pulled several other matches out of the image bank. One was from a security camera at Fort Detrick from a week ago. I've already passed that on to Doggett."
Reyes asks, "What are the other matches?"
The technician replies, "Nothing that we can fit into a pattern. There are about a dozen scattered images from around the mid-Atlantic states during the past month."
"Any near Baltimore?"
The technician pauses to look at the list, "There was another one in Maryland. Here it is. Some little town called Poplar Springs. Photo-radar speed enforcement image. The vehicle could match the vans used in Scully's abduction in North Carolina."
Reyes asks, "Where is Poplar Springs?" The technician pulls up a map of Maryland. Reyes says, "Is it anywhere near Frederick, Baltimore, Damascus or College Park?"
The technician finds Poplar Springs on his map and replies, "Its right between Damascus and I-70."
Reyes informs the technician, "Check the Scully file, she lives in Damascus. Fax that list of matches to my laptop."
"Yes, sir." The technician acknowledges. "Doggett already asked me to do that. One more thing. Director Skinner asked me to tell you that our satellite scan found the stooge-mobile in the Blue Ridge mountains. Skinner is on his way there."
Reyes asks, "The stooge-mobile?"
"That's what I asked when Skinner said it." The technician pauses. "He said you would understand, something about the lone ranger."
Reyes suggests, "The Lone Gunmen?"
"Ya, that was it," Confirms the technician.
"Are you saying that the Lone Gunmen's van was found abandoned in the mountains?"
"I have not seen the data. That's in another section. I can have them call you if you need more information."
"Have them fax me a report." Reyes cuts the connection and falls back against the pillow on the bed. She is tempted to head for the Blue Ridge mountains and join Skinner there. She suspects he will be leading a search of the area around the van.
She sits up and opens her laptop. She discovers that there is no wireless internet access point within range that she can connect through. There is a quiet knock at the door. Pearle asks, "Everything okay, Monica?"
Reyes opens the door. "Sorry to wake you. Just a call from Washington."
Pearle says, "I was not sleeping. Any word on Dana?"
"No. Nothing." Reyes wakes up enough to realize she is practically naked. She notices that Pearle is unconcerned like a battle hardened mom.
Pearle asks, "Are you ready for breakfast or are you going back to bed?"
Reyes replies, "I need to make some calls and read some faxes and I need a shower."
"Well, let me know when you are ready to eat. I'll be in the kitchen. Towels are in the hall closet."
Reyes asks, "Can you give me the password for your wireless router? Washington is trying to send me some files."
Pearle nods, "Its Nanoscope647A. All lower case except the first and the last letter. Want me to write it down?"
Reyes shakes her head. "Thanks, I got it. If I have any trouble with your firewall I'll let you know."
Pearle offers, "I could shut off the firewall while you are here."
"Don't bother, it's almost certain that my computer can hack it, all I needed was your password to get past your encryption."
Reyes connects to the internet and reads files from Skinner, Doggett and the image processing sections. She calls Doggett.
Doggett is waiting for papers to be pushed to clear him into the labs at Fort Detrick and with nothing better to do, prescreens the incoming call and notes that it is Reyes calling. "Hello Agent Reyes," He says cheerily.
"Damn it, John, I thought I was up early. Are you on the road already?"
"I'm on military time today. Did you hear the Blue Ridge news?"
Reyes replies, "Yes. I'm afraid we now have five missing persons."
"Looks that way. I'm a bit worried about anyone connected to this case." Doggett asks, "Should we put protection on these civilian scientists Scully has been working with?"
Reyes describes the break-in at the Tekalni lab. "I doubt if the clone gang found anything in College Park to concern them."
Doggett agrees. "Everything seemed to get hot when Mulder started pushing this 'alien DNA' angle last week. Could be that the reason nothing interesting was found on either of Scully's computers is that they were sanitized before we could get there. By the way, I called the University of Maryland Medical Center and told them to impound their security videos. They are on a one week tape cycle so there is a chance we might spot one of these 'clones' on a visit to Westlake's lab during the past week. Oh, and be careful with the 'clone' talk. The official position is that all these facial matches are due to the use of latex masks."
Reyes laughs. "Thanks for the warning. Well, I guess I'm just going to go back to Baltimore and wait for Westlake to show. Seems like it will be a waste of time. Apparently Scully was working independently from Westlake."
"Well, I'm getting that same story from this end. Scully was totally free to use these military bioagent detectors as she saw fit. According to the army, she had a knack for finding problems with the detectors and suggesting fixes. Given her steady contributions, she was given a lot of latitude." Doggett talks to someone at his location. "I have to go. Later."
Reyes puts away her phone and heads for the shower.
Reyes is sitting at Scully’s desk looking through her computer files on branched DNA. She finds reference to the first branched DNA sample in a report that is nine months old. She is puzzled by Scully’s labels and asks Karen for some help. “This file seems to indicate that Dana first detected branched DNA in a negative control sample.”
Karen reads the file and points at an image of a DNA sequencing run. “I remember when she ran this gel. She asked me if I had ever seen anything like it. See these gaps in the pattern where there is a hole in the sequence? But you are correct, Dana’s notes indicate that this DNA came from a blood sample that she was using as a negative control. Then she lists it as a false positive in the small pox test.”
Reyes asks, “Small pox test? Dana was working on small pox?”
Karen points at Scully’s notation. “See this ‘Vv’. Variola vera. Small pox. I know that is one of the biological warfare agents that the detectors from Fort Detrick are designed to recognize.”
Reyes wonders, “Why would a blood sample test positive for small pox?”
“See this number here? 834, that’s the signal for the positive control. The test value for the negative control was 123, but it was higher than all the other samples tested. Most of the time this would mean that the negative control sample was contaminated. Scully would have checked that. Here it is." Karen pages a few days ahead in Scully’s notes. "This PCR test shows that there was small pox DNA in the positive control sample but not the negative control sample. Conclusion?” Reyes shrugs. Karen continues, “Cross-reactivity. Something besides small pox DNA has triggered the detector. This is the sort of problem Scully is paid to identify. And here is the DNA sequencing run…..Scully wants to know what is in the negative control blood sample. What I do not see is what she used for a sequencing primer.” Karen scans back through the files for ten minutes, describing to Reyes the various experiments and procedures mentioned in Scully’s notes. “Okay, now I get it. Look here. Months before, Scully had done a subtractive hybridization on the negative control blood sample DNA. Bingo. She used random primers. She did not bother to write it down in her notes.”
Reyes is lost in the molecular biology jargon storm. “What is a random primer?”
Karen explains, “A trick that allows you to sequence unknown DNA. Dana could get away with it because she had removed almost all the human DNA from the blood sample in the subtractive hybridization.”
Monica asks, “What would be left in a human sample after you removed the human DNA?”
“Hopefully nothing. That’s why it is a good negative control. But if the person who gave the blood had an infection, you might detect microbial DNA. In this case, the first guess would be small pox DNA, but Scully tested for that and detected none. So she did a shotgun sequencing reaction to detect anything that was there. And what she saw was this weird sequence with gaps.” Someone opens the door to the lab and Karen turns to see who it is.
Dr. Glenn Westlake enters the lab. Karen goes over to him and they speak for moment. Reyes logs out of Scully’s files and stands up. Karen brings Dr. Westlake over to Dana’s desk and introduces Westlake to Reyes.
There are half a dozen students working in the lab and Reyes suggests to Westlake that she go with him to his office. He agrees and they start walking from the research wing to the hospital wing. Along the way they talk about sailing. They reach a door with ‘’’Dr. Glenn Westlake, MD.’’’ on it. Westlake unlocks the door, they enter the office and they sit on opposite sides of his desk. “Now, what’s this about Dana being kidnapped?”
“It is not really a kidnapping case.” Reyes explains, “There have been no contacts from the men who abducted Scully. Do you know any details of her DNA work?”
Westlake asks “You think this crime is related to her work?”
Reyes nods. “I have some idea of the nature of this unusual DNA she was working with. Do you think it could be alien DNA?”
Westlake laughs. “Alien DNA? Is that what the FBI thinks? Are you going to tell me that Scully is E.T. in drag?” He laughs again.
Reyes flushes pink. “Why do you say that?”
Westlake shrugs. “If you think the DNA is alien then you must think that Scully is an alien.”
Reyes asks, “Why must that follow? You think a human scientist could not recognize alien DNA?”
“Not at all." Westlake wonders just how little sense Dana's research makes to Reyes. "Its just that the samples with the branched DNA all came from Dana." He pulls a printout of part of Scully's lab notes out of his desk drawer. He points in the notes, ”See all of these notations, SDS?"
Reyes replies, "That is something I recognized when I started looking through her notes, it's a common laboratory detergent."
Westlake nods. "True, but not in this context. Here it means 'source, Dana Scully'."
For a moment Reyes mind shifts and reorients, adapting to this new fact. Reyes realizes that she had almost been to the point of realizing that Dana must be the source of the odd DNA. Dana’s own blood would be the ready source of control DNA that she would be likely to use in her work. “Dana found branched DNA in her own blood?”
“Not much, but it was there in steady amounts over several months. That was the first thing she checked. She told me that she thought cells in her body had to be making a steady supply of the stuff. That’s when….” He stops and rubs his chin. “I’m not sure about the ethics of this situation. Do you need a search warrant or something to get into Dana’s medical history?”
Reyes shakes her head. “If you know anything that might help the FBI solve this crime you should tell me. I’m sure that under these conditions Dana would not want you to feel an obligation to keep her medical information private.”
Westlake's doubts about the medical ethics are calmed. “Dana told me that she has reason to suspect that her brain was the source of the branched DNA. Of course, when she first told me that I did not know that she was dealing with branched DNA. She just had this strange sequencing data that showed gaps in the sequence. Dana asked me to do a brain biopsy on her. I told her that there was no way any doctor would cut into her brain. Apparently she had already asked several other doctors and they had all refused. She told me about her brain cancer and she claimed that she had huge amounts of branched DNA in her blood when she had the cancer. She was afraid that the cancer might come back. She showed me two scans of her brain. In the recent scan, there was no visible tumor but there was unusual growth in her cingulate cortex. That was the part of her brain that she wanted biopsied. In the second scan, an older scan, I could see a tumor and I could see that her cortex had been normal then. I finally got Dr. Bond in Neurology to do the biopsy. Dana tested that brain tissue and found that it was producing branched DNA. By then, she and Dr. Tekalni had shown that it was branched DNA.“
Reyes asks, “The branched DNA made her cortex grow?”
Westlake replies, “Apparently it was in some way associated with that growth. After Dr. Tekalni figured out the structure of the DNA, Scully learned how to cut out the branches. She could then sequence new parts of the DNA. The part that was originally sequenced turned out to be uninteresting. The new sequences were for some interesting genes that are normally expressed in large amounts during early development when the brain is growing rapidly. Scully found that the branched DNA had inserted modified copies of these growth genes into certain neurons of her cortex. We also did a functional MRI scan. It showed that Dana’s hypertrophied cortex region was very active and was causing a distributed pattern of altered brain activity.”
Dana feels a shiver of horror for what Dana had gone through. “It was making Dana sick?”
Westlake is impressed by the look of concern on Reyes' face. “Not at all. She said she never felt better.“
Reyes asks, “Where do you think this branched DNA came from?”
“Dana figured that out. She told me that she found an integrated viral genome in chromosomal DNA of her brain tissue sample. The branched DNA was from a virus. I told Scully that we had to publish her results. She said it was a government secret and that we could not publish. She refused to show me the sequence data for the provirus. Then she told me she was going on leave from being a consultant for the army. That was a week or two ago. I told her that it sounded to me like she picked up some virus out at Fort Detrick. Or maybe it was some experimental gene therapy from when she had brain cancer. She stopped telling me about her work." Westlake shrugs. "If I were you, I’d go to Fort Detrick and ask them what is going on.”
“My partner is there today, but we have no evidence that anyone there knows anything about this branched DNA. They gave Scully permission to talk about it.” Monica hands Westlake the disc with Scully’s MUFON presentation.
He brings the title slide up on his computer. “So this is where you got the idea that it's alien DNA. This must be a joke. Sometime scientists put joke slides into their talks to break up the monotony.”
Reyes realizes that only someone familiar with Dana’s and Fox’s past with the X-files would connect branched DNA to aliens. Clearly, Dana had not shared that background information with her scientific friends. Until today, only Fox and Dana (and possibly the Lone Gunmen, depending on what Mulder had told them) would have known that Dana’s body contained evidence of alien genetic engineering. And everyone who knew that secret was now missing. Except now Reyes knew the secret, also.
What Reyes could not figure out was why someone would be so worried about what Dana knew that they would grab her in front of 50 witnesses and yet they would leave available all of the laboratory evidence of the branched DNA and how to detect it and study it. Then Reyes realizes that as long as Scully -the only source of the DNA- was unavailable, there was no way to confirm the idea of an alien virus that had been used to genetically engineer a human. Reyes notices Westlake watching her. She asks, "Is there more of the brain biopsy tissue?"
Westlake shakes his head. "The tissue sample was tiny and Dana used it all for her lab tests." Westlake watches the wheels turning behind Reyes' eyes. He says, “There is something you are not telling me.”
Reyes does not want to put Westlake in danger by telling him more than he already knows. “Four others are now missing. They went after Scully when she was abducted, but now they cannot be found. I’m worried about you and any of your students who have worked with Scully. Security does not seem very tight here.”
“True. Sometimes people wander over to the research wing from the public areas of the hospital. There has been talk about locking doors in the hallways, but nobody wants to deal with extra keys. I doubt anything will be done until there is a serious crime here in the building.”
Reyes tries to judge if Karen or Glenn are likely to guess that Mulder might have known what he was talking about when he made Scully use the term “alien DNA”. She asks Westlake, “Would you be willing to let me talk to your lab group and stress the need for extra security?”
Westlake nods. “Since five people are missing, it seems reasonable to take precautions. Dana has a military security clearance. I’m sure she knew things that none of the rest of us know. The answers must be at Fort Detrick.”
Reyes asks Westlake to arrange a lab group meeting for 4:00 PM and then goes downstairs to meets with the FBI technicians who have been reviewing the hospital security tapes. The video cameras in the hospital are arranged primarily to image everyone leaving the hospital. The technicians have failed to find any archived images that match the men who abducted Scully. Reyes asks the technicians to put magnetic key locks on the doors to Westlake’s office and his lab and video cameras in both rooms.
By 3:30 the work is done and Reyes tests the locks and confirms that the video feeds are reaching the image analysis section in Washington. She calls Doggett again, not expecting to get through since he has not been answering his phone for hours.
But the connection opens. “John Doggett.”
Reyes complains, “I’ve been trying to reach you all day.”
John wonders about the cause of the emotion he can hear in her voice. He teases her, "Nice to know you missed me. They would not let me take my phone into the labs up here. I’m checking out of security right now.”
Reyes says, "I do worry about you, and everyone else associated with this case." Reyes asks, “Did you learn anything about the source of this unusual DNA?”
John gives a hearty sigh expressing his frustration over a long day with few results. “No. All they have here are Dana’s reports. Chemical analysis of the DNA from Scully and atomic microscopy results from Dr. Tekalni.”
Reyes asks, “Did you see Scully’s reports? Did she describe the source of the DNA?”
Doggett replies, “One report said ‘FBI crime scene evidence’.”
Reyes explains, “That ‘crime scene evidence’ was Scully, herself.”
Doggett gives a drawn-out whistle. He says, “Why am I not surprised? All the folks up here really care about is that Scully suggested a way to modify their small pox detector so that it does not give false signals. The most popular view here is that Scully’s abduction is Mulder’s sick way of eloping with Scully and entertaining the MUFON geeks at the same time.”
Reyes hears the smile on Doggett’s face. “John, I hope you are taking this seriously. Now you and I both know what Scully knew.”
Doggett's voice is suddenly serious and it is clear that he had only been amused by the army biowarfare researchers. He says sternly, “Right. You watch your step, Monica." He asks, "Have you told Skinner about the source of the DNA?”
“He’s been in and out of cell phone contact in the mountains. I left a voice mail on his office phone. I have to go to a meeting now. I’ll call again when I’m free.”
“Fine. I’m going to drop off my rental car in Washington and head for home. See you at the office tomorrow?”
“Unless I catch a flight to join Skinner.” She cuts the connection, switches off the ringer on her phone and steps into the conference room where Westlake has assembled his research students. Reyes hands each member of the lab group a magnetic key card. “Carry your card at all times. You will need it to go in or out of the lab. The only exceptions are if there is a fire alarm or if you get a tech in Washington to open the lock. If there is a fire alarm, the key pad will open the door from the inside if you enter 4376. That code is on the lock, you just have to key it in during a fire alarm to get out. Any other time, if you enter 4376 a technician in Washington will look at the video feed and ask you what you need. Questions?”
Karen asks, “Any news about Dana?”
Reyes shakes her head, “Nothing on Dana. Four others are now also missing.”
Westlake says, “If there is a serious danger to my students, why not provide some real protection?”
Reyes explains, “There is no reason to believe that any of you are in danger. If you had been in danger, something would have happened already. We have reason to think that those who abducted Dana were after secret information that she has, related to her work for the Army. It is likely that they have checked Dana’s computer in order to see if it contains that information. That’s why hospital security asked each of you earlier today if you had ever seen any indication that someone broke into the lab. It is possible that someone will try to get at Dana’s computer and this is the reason for the extra security on the lab. If someone tries to break into the lab, let them do so. There is nothing in the lab to protect except you. My guess is that they know there is nothing of value in the lab and all of this will have been a waste of time. We are just trying to be cautious. Other questions?”
One of the students asks, “How long will this extra security be in effect?”
Reyes replies, “Hopefully we will find Dana soon and capture her abductors. Failing that, if nothing happens in the next few weeks the possible danger will probably have passed. Oh, one last thing. There is now a sign on the lab door with a URL at the FBI website where the data from Scully’s computer can be accessed. Do not bother going to that URL. If you do, expect a visit from the FBI. We are simply making the data available so that nobody who wants it will feel like they have to break into the lab and hack Scully’s computer.”
Westlake says, “Thank you agent Reyes. I think we all agree that it will be safer working in the lab now than it has ever been in the past. Still, if any of you need to talk about Dr. Scully or any other worries, just let me know.”
7 of 8 Edit
During Reyes' meeting with the Westlake lab group, one of the clones comes to the door of the lab. He reads the sign on the door that gives a URL for gaining access to the data from Scully's computers. The clone moves away down the hall and waits for the elevator.
Reyes and others come out of the conference room after concluding their meeting. The clone watches as Reyes says a few last words to Karen and Glenn. The elevator door opens and the clone takes the elevator down to the parking level.
Two minutes later, Reyes emerges from the elevator and walks towards her rental car. The clone is watching Reyes through a small window in a door that leads to a stairway. Reyes gets into her car and turns her cell phone back on. The phone rings immediately. Reyes curses herself for not remembering to turn the ringer on after the meeting was completed. "Monica Reyes, here."
It is the FBI automated calling system, "Please hold. The caller is being informed that you reactivated your phone. Please hold..."
Reyes checks the number and sees that the call came from the image analysis section. She puts on her hand-free phone gear and has the car started by the time a technician comes on the line. "Agent Reyes? Are you still in Baltimore?"
Reyes is surprised by the agitation that she hears in the technician's voice. "Yes, I'm just leaving the U. of M. Medical Center."
Reyes notices a large blue van in the parking garage as she drives towards the exit. The technician says, "We got an automated facial recognition match from one of the video units in the Medical Center just 15 minutes ago."
Reyes slams on her brakes and backs up to the van. "I'm in the parking garage of the Medical Center. There is a blue van here matching the description of the vans leaving the scene of Dana Scully's abduction." It has what looks like some kind of temporary or dealer plate. Reyes parks the car, gets out of it and draws her gun.
The FBI technician says, "Medical Center security has already reached the Westlake lab and reports no trouble there."
Reyes looks in the driver's window of the van and then returns to the back of the van and bends down to look closely at the temporary plate. "It looks like a West Virginia dealer or delivery plate, number-" She hears a step behind her and tries to dive behind her rental car, but the clone fires a small crystal projectile into her back from a hole between two of his fingers. The crystal shatters and injects a drug into Reyes. Her cell phone smacks the bumper of the car and bounces out of her hand and onto the ground. Reyes fires a blind shot over the trunk of the car as she crawls to the open driver's door of her car. Reyes slumps onto the seat behind the steering wheel as the drug reaches her brain.
There are several people in the parking garage who hear the gun shot. One driver stops his car, a red compact model, at the end of the row of cars where the blue van is parked and watches the clone pick up Reyes and put her into the van. He shouts, "Hey, what are you doing?" He has his cell phone out and is calling 911. The clone ignores the man and starts engine of the van. The van pushes the rental car out of the way as it backs out of its parking space. The clone stops backing the van and starts to drive towards the red compact at the end of the row.
A Medical Center security guard steps out of the elevator with a phone to his ear. He sees the blue van over the roof of the red compact. He shouts into the phone, "I see the van!" He realizes that the van is going to try to drive past the red compact, but it does not look like there is enough space. The van clips the front end of the red compact sending it spinning towards the security guard. The van speeds towards the exit. The guard runs towards the exit and watches the van crash through a gate and leave the garage.
In the last light of day and a mile out of the Fort Detrick gate, Doggett sees the glowing sign of a diner called The Trading Post. Doggett pulls off the road and parks. He tries to reach Skinner again.
Skinner opens the connection. "Skinner."
"This is Doggett. Did you get the message from Reyes?"
Skinner replies, "Washington says that Reyes left me a message. Something about Scully being the source of the strange DNA."
"Ya, we should have guessed that if Scully was working on branched DNA it would be related to her brain cancer." Doggett speculates, "It sounds like the army biowarfare agent detector was sensitive enough to detect the low level of branched DNA that is still in her blood."
Skinner says, "I'm on my way back to Washington. This search out here seems like a classic Mulder-initiated decoy."
Doggett asks, "Why would Mulder want to throw us off the trail?"
"Why would Mulder put Scully in danger in the first place if not to make contact with those who caused Scully's brain cancer? He might not want us trailing him and scaring off those who were attracted by Scully's presentation. By the way, the MUFON website for the Ashville chapter posted the title of Scully's presentation on Friday."
Doggett shakes his head. "The Mulder broadcasting system. Okay, I'll see you back in Washington." Doggett breaks the connection. It is now night. He gets out of the rental car and immediately notices a large blue van in the well-lit parking lot. He draws out his gun and walks over to the van and looks into the passenger side window. From behind and by the corner of the dinner, one of the clones shoots Doggett in the back with the same type of built-in weapon that had been used on Reyes. Doggett turns and fires his gun at the clone. Crack! Crack! Crack!
The clone's head splinters and blood sprays the wall of the dinner. Doggett's knees buckle as the drug from the crystal projectile reaches his brain. He aims his gun up under the rear of the van and fires the rest of his clip. Gasoline starts to leak onto the pavement. Doggett tries to move away from the van but consciousness slips away. Soon he is in a pool of gasoline.
End of Chapter 2Edit
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