Tuesday. March 29, 2005Edit
Reyes starts to wake up. “Monica. Can you hear me, Monica?” Reyes opens her eyes and tries to focus on the face that is leaning near. She realizes that it is Dana. She tries to talk but her throat is parched and burning. Dana slips an arm behind Reyes’ head and pulls her head up off of the pillow and puts a glass of water to her lips. Reyes manages to gulp some of the water down. She can feel a bandage on her back where she was shot by the clone. Scully says, “Welcome to Alcatraz.”
Monica’s consciousness expands and she realizes that Mulder and the Lone Gunmen are in the room. She croaks out, “The gang’s all here.”
Mulder comes over with big goofy grin on his face. “You’re crashin’ the party, Agent Reyes.”
Reyes says to Mulder, “As soon as I have the strength to shout, I’m going to make your dumbass ears ring.” Mulder shrugs and raises his hands in mock surrender.
Scully lets Reyes’ head sink back into the pillow. Reyes realizes that it is a very comfortable room, not just hospital functional. It feels like she is floating on the very soft bed. She asks, “Where are we?”
Mulder asks, “Did you ever want to be an astronaut?”
Reyes realizes that it is not just that the bed is soft. She lifts an arm and feels it seem to float above her. Dana says, “Gravity is one sixth Earth’s. We must be on the Moon.”
Reyes looks at every face in the room and nobody is laughing. “How long?”
Dana explains. “I’ve been here since Sunday. The Knights in shining armor,” She nods towards the others, “Got here yesterday.” She looks at her watch. “It's now about daybreak Tuesday in Washington. They brought you in about half an hour ago.”
Reyes asks, “Who are ‘they’?”
Byers says, “By a vote of 4 to 1 we’ve been leaning towards aliens, but Scully is still holding out hope for a black government operation.”
Langly says, “Earth to Moon in a few hours? No human government is capable of that.”
Frohike suggests, “Maybe it's alien tech in the hands of humans.”
Scully crosses her arms and assumes her best school marm pose, “We’ve certainly seen no aliens and everything here seems like conventional Earth technology.”
“Except for the clones,” Remarks Langly.
Scully says, “We do not know that they are clones.”
Mulder nods and dead-pans, “They might be a set of secretive quintuplets with very privacy-minded parents.”
The Lone Gunmen launch into a Scully attack. Byers says, “And a summer cottage on the Moon.”
Langly adds, “And a two door space garage with fusion powered space Beemers.”
Frohike starts to add a comment but Scully stares him down. Since his mouth is still open he takes the opportunity to say, “So how do we bust out of this joint?”
Reyes is feeling stronger and sits up. “Have our hosts told you anything at all?”
Dana gives Monica quick summary. “We’ve all been questioned about our knowledge of the branched DNA. It seems like they just want to find everyone who knows that the branched DNA came from a virus-infected human subject.”
Reyes gasps, “Dr. Westlake, Doggett and Skinner also know!”
Dana asks, “How did you figure it out?”
Reyes explains, “I got some help from Karen and Westlake knows.”
Mulder says, “But it is not just a matter of knowing the source of the DNA. Westlake does not know about Scully’s previous abduction does he?”
Reyes replies, “I didn’t tell him about that, but he knows about the medical facts of Dana's brain cancer.“
"So it may be that Westlake is safe," Scully concludes, “But we have to assume that Doggett and Skinner are at risk.”
4 of 6 Edit
One of the clones walks into the room. “Let’s go to the dinning room so Agent Reyes can fortify herself. We will talk.” Everyone follows the clone, Reyes leaning on Scully as she walks, getting used to the low gravity.
They walk through what appears to be a modern mansion and come to a large dinning room with food already on the table and three other clones already seated. Everyone sits down except the first clone. “Please, everyone, eat. The situation on Earth has stabilized. We are not going to be able to accomplish abductions of Doggett and Skinner. We have been in contact with Skinner and warned him not share the knowledge that he and Doggett have. If he lives up to his end of the agreement, it will be possible for all of you to go back to Earth. He turns to Dana, "But you are a special problem Dr. Scully.”
Scully says, “Surely I am not the only person on Earth who you infected with branched DNA.”
One of the other clones says, “We had nothing to do with your infection, Dana.”
Mulder smirks, “Pardon us for thinking that you are full of shit.”
“Think what you want to think, Fox. We have no way of demonstrating that we had nothing to do with Dana’s cancer. But think about it. Why would we be going to all this trouble now to get you back to Earth if we were just trying to cover up something we did years ago?”
Fox replies, “Maybe I don’t think you’re going to take us back. Maybe because the U.S. Army now has the means to detect the genetic engineering that you are performing on people like Dana. I think you just want us to tell you the names of everyone who knows what’s going, so you are acting friendly.”
“The truth is much simpler, Fox. First, let me assure you, most of you have heard this story before. And just like before, you will not be permitted to remember it when you go back to Earth. Let me start-“
Mulder cuts in, “What about Dana? You said she’s a special case. Does she get to go back?”
“We intend to make a special offer to Dana, but she can go back if she wants to. Now, please, eat and let me explain."
Reyes and Langly make selections from various dishes on the table and start to eat. The others select drinks and settle back in their chairs, relaxing in the gentle gravity. The four clones alternate telling bits of the story.
The Truth Edit
The story starts long ago when an alien space probe reaches the Solar System. There is no biological life inside the probe, just a type of nanodevice artificial life. Upon finding Earth, the nanoscale life form establishes observations of Earth’s ecosystem and starts a project to reincarnate life forms from its world of origin. This is the mode of space travel used by the nanodevice’s creators. Nanodevices are sent across the depths of space to find worlds with biological organisms. The nanodevices then adapt to the life they find and engineer it to become similar to their creators.
At this point in the story Fox asks, “How long ago did this alien ship reach Earth?”
One of the clones replies, “Over a billion years ago.”
Byers says, “What is this crap? You expect us to believe that these alien nanobots have waited a billion years to start genetically morphing humans into aliens?”
“Not at all. The first intervention into earth’s biosphere caused a radiation of multi-cellular life forms on Earth. Most died out, but some survived. There have been countless other genetic interventions, leading towards- us. Humans. Yes, my brothers and I are as human as you are. Me and my brothers were produced by isolating the first 8 cells of a normal human embryo and letting them each grow and develop. One of us died many years ago and Doggett killed one of us yesterday.”
Reyes feels a sudden rush of panic and demands, “What happened to John?”
“Skinner has placed him in a military hospital. He is fine and, for the time being, out of our reach. Now there are only six of us left. We four here and two still on Earth. We were created to work as a team to go to Earth when needed. Rarely do we go to Earth; it has become too dangerous for us. Usually only two of us go at once, agent and backup. Dana’s abduction was a special situation. We only learned of Mulder’s ploy at the last minute and so we all went to Earth. We were unable to find Dana until she reached the conference hall and then we had to act en masse in order to get her out fast. Mostly we work from here on the Moon, monitoring, but in this case we felt the need to act decisively.”
Dana asks, “Monitoring what?”
Langly replies, “The production of alien-human hybrids.”
“No, you are wrong. That effort was completed long ago.“ The clones explain that some 10 million years previously a gene combination was found in Africa that resulted in apes with a form of conscious awareness that the alien nanodevices had been working to develop on earth. Some of the most promising variants of those highly conscious apes were taken from Earth and extensively studied on the Moon. After 15,000 years of experiments, the alien nanodevices were able to genetically engineer those apes into a life form very similar to the original aliens who had sent out the nanodevices. From the Moon base, those alien-like Earth-derived creatures were able to establish contact with other worlds of the galactic empire. They built their own nanodevices and eventually sent their own space craft out from the Solar System to continue the billions of years old process of finding new worlds.
“This was all millions of years ago, but I can show you what the outcome was.” Images of various alien-looking creatures flash on the walls. “By the rules of alien intervention, none of these genetically engineered Earth-Alien hybrids is allowed to reside on Earth. Most of them have died off, many built colony ships and migrated to nearby star systems. A few maintain well hidden space bases here in the solar system.”
Mulder asks, “These Earth-Alien hybrids are what people on Earth call aliens?”
“Unfortunately, sometimes the Earth-Alien hybrids are occasionally seen on Earth, yes. Such events have been rare and are generally illegal. According to the rules of alien contact, only minimally modified biological agents such as me and my brothers are allowed to visit Earth.”
The clones continue their story explaining that Earth is still a rich biological incubator and the monitoring of Earth’s evolving life forms continues. It was of interest to see how consciousness would develop on Earth without the massive genetic intervention that produced the Earth-Alien hybrids. But the situation is complex. Over the past billion years the original alien nanodevices diverged and now there are several different alien-derived nanodevice factions in the Solar System. They do not agree on policy in terms of how much intervention should be allowed on Earth. This is a critical time for humans, having entered the technological spiral.
The clones explain that some nanodevice factions favor minimal intervention into the affairs of Earth while others insist that Earth’s ecosystem must be protected from damage due to human technology. Each of these different nanodevice factions has their own biological agents. "We are agents for a faction that is mostly in favor of a hands-off policy with respect to Earth. There is another faction that has been engaged in a project that we would like to thwart. This other faction, we call them the ‘interventionists’, believes that the only way to protect Earth’s biosphere is to genetically modify the human population of Earth and turn humans into an environmentally responsible species. Dana is an example of their human test subjects…..a human who has been genetically engineered to be environmentally friendly."
Dana says. “You are lying. I have not suddenly become a ‘green’ following my infection with the branched DNA vector.”
“No, of course not. You were selected for the gene engineering because you naturally have the mental disposition of one who would never harm the Earth or its web of life. The brain structures in you -and others like you- that give you an instinct for respecting all life, those brain structures and the key neuronal networks they form were mapped long ago. All that remains now is to find a way to make sure that the growth of those key neuronal networks can be engineered into all humans on Earth. It is a race against the ticking clock of technological progress and human population growth. The branched DNA vector that you were infected with had previously been tested and shown to be effective, converting environmentally insensitive humans into tree huggers. You were part of a control group. What would happen to the people of Earth who already have those ‘green’ neuronal networks? The answer was death by uncontrolled brain cell growth. This was bad news for the interventionist program. Even they are not willing to kill off millions of humans in order to save the baby seals."
Reyes asks, “So how do you come into this? Why is your “hands-off” faction abducting people like us?”
“The branched DNA vectors developed by the Interventionists are an example of technology that will be made possible on Earth by nanodevices that are still decades in your future. Our faction always acts to prevent the introduction of such technological advances before humans on Earth are ready for it. The nations of Earth are only slowly learning how to regulate genetic engineering. Letting this branched DNA technology out of the bag now would be like supplying atomic weapons to the armies of Europe in 1915.”
Dana asks, “Why are you telling this to us?”
“I think we have the situation contained on Earth. We are now into the phase of making the facts of your branched DNA disappear from the memory of Earth. The cover story will be that the branched DNA you detected was the remnants of a special diagnostics test performed during your treatments for cancer. Everyone who now knows the truth will be made to forget the truth and learn the cover story.”
Byers asks, “What do you do, flash your magic Men In Black light?”
“It is almost that simple. Memory is chemical. We will inject you with certain chemicals and then have you watch a multimedia extravaganza all about branched DNA and your little vacation here on the Moon. As your neuronal circuits that hold your memories of branched DNA are stimulated by the information about branched DNA, the chemicals will deflate the critical synapses of those circuits resulting in selective memory ablation. The next day, you will watch a second multimedia extravaganza all about our cover story and a new set of chemicals will stimulate the formation of new memories. When we return you to Earth, you will have only patchy and rapidly fading memories of what really happened to you.”
Dana says, “But you want something else from me besides my memories.”
“Yes, Dana, you are special. You were the only test subject in your group to survive. You now have an unusual brain structure that was reported at a scientific meeting by one of the U. of M. Medical Center doctors working with Westlake on your case. If you go back, neurologists will want to study your brain. Rather than risk that they will again discover and start studying the branched DNA that is now a part of you, it would be safer if you stayed with us. Frankly, we would like you to help us monitor the activity of the Interventionists. They are sure to be working on a new branched DNA vector that will not cause cancer and you have the skills to help us watch for the eventual use of that new vector on Earth.”
Reyes is outraged and asks, “How can you ask Dana to give up her life on Earth?”
“It is up to her. If she stays here she will join our faction and have access to medical technology far beyond what exists on Earth. She will not be bored. We have a colony of over six million humans here at our lunar base. And if she stays she will be doing important work, helping us protect Earth from possible harm at the hands of the interventionists. Now, we have had our say. Tomorrow we will start our memory microsurgery.”
To stay, or not to stay Edit
The four clones depart from the dinning room and Reyes asks, "Have you tried following them?"
Mulder nods, "There is only one door to this place. It is like an airlock. We can get through the first door but the second door will not open if any of us are in the airlock."
Scully says, "Shall we retire to the lounge?"
They leave the dinning room and cross the hall to another large room with a central fire place surrounded by comfortable chairs. Scully asks Reyes if she remembers how she got to the Moon. Reyes tries to remember, but her last clear memories are from the meeting with the Westlake lab group. “I have fragments of memories from the parking garage under the U of M Medical Center. I remember shooting at one of the clones.”
Scully speculates, “I think they use a drug that causes retrograde amnesia. As soon as I was put into their van, they injected me with something. I have only fragments of memory from my own abduction, even though I know I was conscious when they dragged me out of the conference and put me in their van.”
Reyes remembers that she has a bone to pick with Mulder. “Mulder, what were you thinking when you got Dana into this?”
Mulder does his almost whining ‘what, little ol’ me?’ routine, “I wanted to find whoever has been experimenting on people like Dana, the “interventionists”. When I learned about her work on the branched DNA in her brain, I thought we could use that information as bait to bring the Interventionists out into the open. I did not realize that the Interventionists do not care if their advanced genetic engineering technology leaks out.”
Dana puts a hand on Monica’s arm. “Don’t badger Fox. I had my own motives for wanting to find the source of branched DNA. It was me that got Mulder involved in all this.”
Reyes shifts her ire towards Dana, “Don’t tell me you’re thinking about joining forces with these clones!”
“Maybe it is an idea that should not be dismissed automatically.” Everyone is looking at Scully like she has three eyes. “Look, I think Fox and I have both been through this before and we both have always decided to go back. Where does that get us? We are left with no idea of what we are really up against. Maybe if I stayed here I could work from this side.”
Langly says, “Dude! Do the Mata Hari!”
Byers complains, “But what’s the point? We are SO in over our heads. These nanodroids are a billion years ahead of us.”
Scully shakes her head. “No, I think it's not that bad. The clones indicated that the alien nanodevices are restricted in what they can do on Earth. The aliens have some rules that they have to follow and so only humans like these clones we have met are permitted to interact with humans on Earth. We may be in over our heads, but that just means we have to learn to swim.”
Frohike says, “I wonder which of these alien-inspired factions is right. I mean, what if the Interventionists are right? Then you’d be working for the wrong side, Dana.”
“It does not sound like these clones want to stop the Interventionists.” Scully explains, “It seems like they just want to keep the Interventionists in line with the “rules of alien intervention .“
Langly asks, “But what if Earth is in a crisis? Maybe this is not the time to be clamping down on attempts to save Earth. Maybe the rules need to be bent- or broken.”
Scully holds up her hands. “Maybe. Maybe. But there is something else I have been thinking about. What if there is some way we could go back to Earth with our memories intact?”
Reyes asks, “Do you know a way to prevent them from scrambling our memories?”
Scully shrugs. “I suspect there might be a way to chemically block the drugs they use to erase memories, but we have no access to drugs and no way to know which drugs they actually use. I suspect that by this time tomorrow, all of you will be back home wondering who is going to win the Final Four.”
“But not you?”
“What if the change to my brain is something other that what the clones have described? Let me tell you why I ask. I have always had a good memory, but increasingly over the past few years my memory has improved. It turns out that recent research is indicating the cingulate cortex as a part of the brain where certain memories are stored. What if the Interventionists are really trying to find a way to build-up and strengthen our brains and our memory systems so that the clones cannot take our memories away any more? What if the growth of my cingulate cortex is proof that there is a way to do this? And what if the clones can no longer take away my memory? Maybe that is why they want me to stay here.”
Mulder grins. “The seems like a lot of good questions, but not a basis for making life-altering decisions.”
Byers is doubtful, “Pardon me for objecting Dr. Scully, but your hypothesis sucks. Why would your bulked up cortex prevent drugs from acting on your synapses and dulling your memories?”
Dana explains, “I’m led to think along these lines by the nature of the genes that were introduced into my brain cells. Some neurotransmitters have growth-promoting action in the brain. One of the genes that was inserted into my cells was the gene for endocan-2. My CSF now has unusually high levels of endocan-2. Endocan-2 is a neurotransmitter known to be important for memory and there have been some reports that it can stimulate cell division. My guess is that the Interventionists wanted to engineer human brains to be able to make enough endocan-2 so that our memories cannot be erased. I think that the growth of my cortex was a side effect of the elevated endocan-2 levels.”
Byers shrugs, “You’re still just guessing.”
They hear a commotion in the hallway. The clones carry a body into one of the bedrooms. Dana, Reyes and Mulder go to look. When the clones move away from the bed, Reyes looks at the person on the bed and exclaims, “It's Westlake!” Dana steps out and returns quickly with some bandages and antiseptic and starts to change the bloody bandage on Westlake’s left arm.
One of the clones says, “My brothers on Earth had to pick up Westlake, he was refusing to take Skinner’s advice to keep quiet about your case, Dana.”
Dana tries to belittle the effectiveness of the clones. "The more people you abduct, the more other people will ask questions."
Reyes asks the clone, “Would you let me talk to Skinner?”
The clone replies, “Sorry, but I already turned down Skinner’s request to talk to you and I have no interest in creating an opportunity for you to pass information to Skinner.“ The clone leaves.
Reyes wonders how the clones abducted Westlake. She figures that the clones just waited until Westlake went home, but would Skinner have left Westlake unprotected? It occurs to Reyes that she never heard how Mulder and the Lone Gunmen were abducted. “Hey, Mulder, how did the clones capture you?”
“Scully had a radio transmitter hidden in her large intestine. We followed the clones to an abandoned lumber mill outside of Ashville. By the time we got there, just a few minutes after they did, the ship was already gone. We figured they would go to their base, somewhere on Earth, so we followed the signal from Scully.”
Reyes asks, “Did it cross your mind that you should have had some serious backup?”
Mulder smirks. “I suppose you think I should have asked the FBI for help. When are you going to admit that the FBI can’t deal with these kinds of unconventional issues? Anyhow, we tracked the signal from Scully’s transmitter into the mountains. We figured that the clones would be trying to figure out who else on Earth knew what Scully knew. One of the clones broke into Scully’s house and we used the video conferencing system of Scully’s computer to tell him that we were prepared to tell the world about the branched DNA they had put into Scully. We had parked about a mile from where we thought their space ship was hidden. Langly was working by satellite relay out of the Lone Gunman van back to the internet connection in the Lone Gunman office. Byers and I had hiked into the forest to where we thought the ship was, thinking we might find a hidden base. They must have known we were coming. They had detected the transmitter inside Scully. By the time we got near the transmitter, the ship was gone, but two of the clones were waiting for us with the transmitter they had taken out of Scully. They took Byers and I with ease then got Langly and Frohike from the van. After their space ship dropped Scully off on the moon it came back and picked up the four of us.”
Scully is done re-dressing Westlake’s wound. She pulls up the back of Reyes shirt and sees blood on her bandage. “You might as well let me change your bandage, too.”
End of Chapter 3Edit
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