Langly is sitting in front of a computer screen, going through email addressed to The Lone Gunman. One item is from "WaWa@spoook.net" and is titled "satellite images". Langly opens the email and his screen fills with an image showing the deck of the Floreana. The circular profile of the salvaged disc is visible. He clicks on a button that says "forward" and types "email@example.com" into the "to" field and then hits "send".
May 6, 2005 3:10 am, 114.34 W 19.20 N
In the middle of the night another space ship arrives above the Floreana and uses a gaviton beam to lift the salvaged disc off of the deck. The mineral-encrusted disc rises gently and slides into the hold of the larger space ship. The guard watches, at first he is stunned and motionless, then he raises an alarm and the rest of the crew soon comes out on deck. First the guard then the rest of the crew is lifted up into the air and pulled into the space ship.
In the control room of the Floreana, the helmsman watches everything that is happening on the aft deck as shown on a video monitor. He cannot see the space ship hovering above the Floreana. He goes to the radio consol and puts on the headphones. He types "1650 kHz" into the keyboard and says, "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is Floreana out of San Diego."
Two men who look like identical twins leap out of the hold of the space ship and fall feet-first towards the Floreana. One lands on the narrow walkway that rings the control room; somehow what should have been a bone-shattering landing is gentle as a cat step. He opens the control room door, enters and points two fingers at the helmsman.
Out of the corner of his eye, the helmsman notices the man enter the control room. The helmsman turns and continues to talk, "Captain and crew taken off ship! Pir-"
A crystalline projectile erupts from between the two fingers of the clone, ripping into the chest of the helmsman. The helmsman springs from his chair and attacks the clone, but as soon as he grabs hold of the clone's still out-stretched arm, his legs buckle and he falls to the floor. The clone steps to the helm consol and shuts off the engines of the Floreana.
The other clone goes below deck and into a room that holds the video archives. He pulls open one of the drawers that line one wall of the room. Inside are neat rows of magnetic tapes. He puts pieces of plastic sheet over the two ventilation ducts in the room then opens all the tape storage drawers a crack and sets a small canister on a desk and departs. Soon the canister emits a cloud of orange acidic mist that ruins the video tapes.
The two brothers perform a quick search of the rest of the ship, find nobody else on board and then they step out on deck and are pulled back up into the space ship.
The hold of the space ship closes and the ship slips away silently into the night. Inside the hold, the two bothers are separated from the crew of the Floreana by a semi-transparent barrier. One of the clones holds up a hand, "Greetings, we mean you no harm. Our only interest is the space ship you salvaged from the ocean floor."
The Captain of the Floreana shouts, "You can't get away with this kind of piracy!"
The clone signals to his brother who activates a control switch on the wall. A gaseous form of their knockout drug starts to spill into the part of the hold containing the crew of the Floreana. "Relax and sleep. Everything will be fine." The crew members start to stagger and collapse. The two clones turn and exit from the hold.
Reyes and Doggett are doing paper work in the X-Files office. Doggett is looking for something that is lost in the papers on his desk and he accidentally knocks some file folders on the floor. Doggett groans and says "I really am ready for the paperless society."
Reyes looks up from her work, sees the mess on the floor and goes to help pick up the items that went sliding out of the folders and across the floor. She says, "Maybe we should put through another request for an office assistant."
John and Monica pick up the assorted photos, reports and other items and try to figure out which folder each belongs in. "We may be 'special agents' but we are not special enough to get a secretary."
Three times in a row they each reach for the same folder and they do a funny little juggling of the folders. Monica giggles and gives up, letting John finish re-filing the last few items. "They are not called 'secretaries' anymore." She leans against John's desk and crosses her arms.
John looks up at her, "Ya, I'm just a politically incorrect flat foot. I'd use the term 'lord high master of executive file folder management' if it would get some of this drudgery off my back." He picks up the last item from the floor and stares at it. "Hey, this report is what I was looking for." Task complete he stands up, places the miss-filed evidence report on his desk and takes the folders to a filing cabinet. "Thanks for your help, Monica. I guess I should not complain, and should be grateful for what I do have. I hate to think how really awful this job would be without you here to share in the glory of endless paperwork."
Monica says without conviction, "You're a lucky man, John." Taken out of the routine of report writing, a thought about her abduction by the clones surfaces in her mind. Monica can almost hear Dana’s voice, trying to communicate something of great importance….but the meaning is illusive. Cascading echoes of her abduction experience suddenly clog her thoughts and generate a demoralizing dysphoria.
Doggett closes the file cabinet drawer and carries one remaining folder back towards his desk. He starts to speak but stops and watches Monica. She suddenly seems a million miles away. Or at least a quarter million. During the past month she has continued having flashbacks and dreams concerning the events during her abduction. She has become increasingly persistent in her belief that the group of abductees was taken to the Moon. Doggett at first had dismissed the idea, but he had since heard the same from Mulder.
Doggett has a little flashback of his own, the sight of the clone's head rupturing and the wall behind suddenly turning glittery with the light of reflected red neon. John briefly closes his eyes and shakes his head, trying to free himself of the hauntingly tactile memory of collapsing helplessly as the clone’s drug entered his brain. He opens his eyes and drinks in the sight of Monica. He wonders what she is thinking as she stares unseeingly in the direction of his chest. He leans close to Monica's face and blows a little puff of air onto her forehead. She is startled out of her daydream. John asks, "Am I lucky or just trigger happy?" He moves on over to another filing cabinet in order to file one last folder.
Monica tries to regain a sense of good spirits by sheer will. "We have to put the past behind us. I have to trust that Scully knows what she is doing." She stands up straight and takes several slow and sauntering steps over to John. He closes the file cabinet drawer, turns and finds himself toe-to-toe with Reyes. Slowly she rises up on her toes and looks him in the eye, "And you, Mr. Doggett have to trust your instincts. Nobody has questioned your shooting of that clone."
He looks pleadingly into her eyes, "But Monica, think what we might have learned if I had just wounded him and we could have questioned him. Or maybe we could have done a trade for Scully."
She slowly shakes her head and lets her heels sink back to the floor. "What would you do, call the Moon and say, ‘we seem to have misplaced a former FBI agent, care to swap?’ Drop it, John, and move on. It should be your instinct to go after these aliens with a head shot. We know that might be the only chance of stopping them."
The idea of needlessly killing anyone, and the clone in particular, still causes strong revulsion in Doggett. "The problem is, based on the autopsy and from what you and the other abductees reported, these clones are not aliens."
Monica wrinkles her forehead, "I don't know John. This whole run-in with the clones is all too fuzzy now. They may have brain washed us into believing that they are not alien."
"Are you suggesting that the autopsy results were faked?" He shakes his head emphatically. "That guy I killed was as human as we are. I did not have to kill him."
“Even if those clones were human, they might be agents for aliens.” Monica resists an impulse to grab John by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. She realizes that she is not going to win this staring contest with John. She backs down, turns around and goes and sits down at her desk.
Reyes looks at the papers on her desk and takes stock of her progress on the day's work. She looks at Doggett and sees him flipping through and scowling at the once lost but now found report. Monica tries to cheer John with a change of subject and some flippancy. "We could have some fun with this. I could nominate you for FBI office assistant of the month."
Doggett chuckles. "You'd just get us farther onto the bad side of the executive staff."
Reyes gets really mischievous, "Or we could have some sort of contest where the winner does get to have an office assistant for a month. If you win, I have to do all of the paper work for a whole month."
Doggett says, "Why do I think you are planning a contest that you are sure to win? Anyhow, even if I did win it would be no good.” He pretends to read the report and says no more.
Monica waits a moment to see if he will explain, then she asks, “Why not?”
John looks up from the report, “I couldn’t go even a day watching you do all the paper work while I slacked off.”
Reyes is glad that they have again broken the gloomy spell cast by the loss of Dana. The office phone rings. Doggett picks up, "Hello."
It is Assistant Director Skinner's office assistant calling. "John, quick question,” For an instant Doggett wonders if the all-knowing league of office assistants is going to come down on him for his mocking of their title. “Can you and Monica come to a meeting?"
Doggett is ready to do anything to put an end to the paper work. "Sure. I mean, when is the meeting?"
"Right now. Conference room 1. Skinner is putting together an emergency task force."
"We're on our way." Doggett slams down the phone and grabs Monica's hand as he rushes past her desk. "Come on, something has come up."
Agents Doggett and Reyes open the door to the conference room and twenty pair of eyes turn to them from the gloom. The lights are low and an image of the Floreana is projected onto a screen at the far end of the room. Skinner turns and says, "Come in, Doggett. Reyes. I thought you should hear this. Agent Geer, do a thirty second recap, then continue your briefing." John and Monica sit on a small bench in a corner of the room.
Agent Geer is standing at the far end of the conference table. She points with a laser pointer at the circular disc on the deck of the Floreana that is easily visible in the black and white image projected on the big screen. "This is a satellite image of the artifact that was raised from the floor of the Pacific. The salvage team reported that it was glowing with self-generated lights and had an anomalously low mass for an object of this size."
She advances to the next image which shows a color aerial view of a Coast Guard cutter alongside the Floreana. The salvaged disc is gone, and a military VTOL aircraft rests on the cargo hatch which had previously been under the salvaged disc. "The Floreana was returning to its home port with the artifact, then it was attacked by pirates. The entire crew, except one man, is now missing. The salvaged disc is gone.”
Geer turns the room lights back up half way. "This is the recording of the mayday that was transmitted by the one crewman found on board."
They hear, "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is Floreana, out of San Diego. The guard sounded the alarm and when I looked, the artifact was gone! Then everyone started floating off the ship! Just drifting right off the deck! Captain and crew taken off ship! Pir-" There is a loud clatter in the recording, some faint noises then silence.
Geer explains, "The crewman who made the distress call was the only person left on board. Analysis of the recording shows that low frequency noise from the engines cut off soon after the crewman was silenced in the middle of his mayday message." Geer shows the next image, a close up of a wound on a man's chest. "He was incapacitated by some sort of drug, introduced into his body by a glass projectile."
Reyes says, "Analysis will show that it is plastic, not glass. A biodegradable plastic that will leave no permanent residue."
Geer asks, "You've seen this sort of wound before?"
Reyes is ready to reply but Skinner silences her with a glance. Skinner stands up and walks around the length of the conference table to stand beside Geer. "Let me re-cap, since I misjudged this case from the start. Certain terrorist groups have become very active in open sea piracy. Initial indications were that the Floreana had salvaged some archeological artifact or maybe a piece of lost military hardware. I now think these explanations unlikely. This case increasingly resembles several past X-file cases...."
"Geer interrupts, "Sir, you already put me in charge of this case."
Skinner heaves a deep sigh and pauses before replying, letting his ire at having been interrupted dissipate. He has long experience with the rush of excitement and possessiveness experienced by agents given their first major task force to run. "And you remain in charge, Agent Geer.” Skinner realizes that he is grateful that Geer interrupted him. He really does not want to get into a discussion of X-files.
Skinner tries to bolster the group’s focus on a conventional piracy investigation. “This is a large, high priority investigation and it is going to take team work- all of the resources we have. Agents Reyes and Doggett filed a fifty page report on this type of wound last week. I'll summarize. This type of wound is produced by a crystal projectile that carries a potent neuroactive drug, inducing unconsciousness in less than ten seconds. This type of projectile has been used sporadically all over the world during the past thirty five years. The CIA thinks that the drug was developed in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The plastic is similar to certain polymers created by a French chemist in the 1950's, but never commercialized because of their unstable chemical structures." Skinner turns control of the meeting back to Geer who proceeds to set the task force into action along the lines of a piracy investigation with possible ties to international terrorists.
When Geer ends the meeting, Skinner signals for Doggett and Reyes to follow him back to his office. Just inside the door, Skinner stops and huddles with John and Monica. "Guess where you are headed?"
Monica and John both say, "San Diego?"
Skinner nods and grins. "The one remaining crewman from the Floreana has been taken to the Naval Air Station Hospital there. He's in exactly the same kind of drug-induced coma that John was in for two days. I want you there when he wakes up."
John says, "He is not going to remember much. I only retained a few flashes of memory from the 20 minutes prior to being injected with that drug."
Skinner shrugs. "Do the best you can. Try to confirm if he was shot by one of the clone brothers that carried out Scully’s abduction."
Hearing Skinner talk about Scully and the clones sends a shiver up Monica's back. She is rocked by a nightmare-like doubt about Skinner's intentions with respect to Scully. She blurts out, "Sir, are you telling us everything you know about Scully?"
Skinner is surprised by Monica's outburst and stops just before speaking, leaving his mouth hanging open. John is surprised too and he says, "Monica, what are you implying?"
Reyes has a severe sensation of vertigo and stumbles to a chair. She starts to sweat and her respiration is deep and fast. Doggett takes her pulse at her neck and Skinner brings a cup of water. Doggett takes the cup and presses it to Monica's lips. She takes a sip of water then grabs the cup and pours its contents over her scalp and face. Skinner thinks she's having a heart attack and opens the door and starts to shout orders to his assistant, "Medical emergency, call..."
Doggett shouts at Skinner. "No! Wait, she's okay!"
Skinner looks at Monica, "Are you okay? Can you talk?"
Monica nods and replies, "I'm okay. It was some sort of anxiety attack."
Skinner turns back to his assistant, "Have Dr. Josselsen call me." He closes the door again and pulls a chair up next to Reyes.
Doggett takes that chair and continues holding Monica's hands in his. She is still sweating but her hands feel stone cold.
With clear exasperation Skinner pulls over yet another chair and sits down with Reyes and Doggett. "What the hell is going on?"
Reyes shakes a drop of water off the tip of her nose. "I'll be fine, sir."
Doggett says, "Shut up, Monica. She's not fine. She's been dealing with all sorts of strange shit for the past month. Nightmares. Flashbacks."
Skinner says to Reyes, "You've been having these panic attacks for a month and not reporting them?"
Reyes sighs deeply. "No. I've never felt what I just felt. Sir, I had this, I." She tries again. "I knew you were not telling us everything you know about Scully's abduction."
John squeezes Monica's hands, "Monica, do you want to force Skinner to put you on medical leave? There's no-"
Skinner puts a hand on John's shoulder. "No, John. She knows what she is talking about. I don't know how she knows, but she's right. But I can't tell you what I know." Skinner has taken a business card out of his wallet and is writing on the back of it. "You are both going to have to trust that I am doing what's best for Scully."
He hands the card to John, he reads it and hands it to Monica. "Meet Jeff. Mem. 1h," is what Skinner wrote on the card. Skinner keeps talking while they read, "As long as you are physically and mentally fit, Agent Reyes, I need you to get out to San Diego."
Reyes looks up from the card and nods to Skinner. Doggett helps Reyes get to her feet and half carries her out of Skinner's office as she tries to fight off remaining dizziness.
One hour later Reyes and Doggett have booked a flight to San Diego and are on their way to National Airport. They meet Skinner at the Jefferson Memorial and move off to a peripheral area, away from the tourists. Reyes and Doggett wait for Skinner to speak. Finally Skinner says, "After John shot that clone, I got a phone call from his brother."
Doggett asks, "One of the clones called you by phone?"
Skinner hangs his head. "I made a deal. The clone said that everyone who had been abducted would be safe if I kept what I knew about Dana's branched DNA to myself. I accepted the deal."
Reyes slaps Skinner's face and screams, "You gave them Scully? You bastard!"
Some tourists are starring at the FBI agents. Doggett takes out his badge and holds it up towards the tourists. "FBI. Everything is under control." He grabs Reyes arm and pulls her over into a dark alcove of the memorial's structure.
Skinner follows along but says nothing. Reyes figures she didn't hit Skinner hard enough. She winds up to really slug him, but John puts her in a bear hug. "Hold on now, Monica! Let him finish!" Then he demands of Skinner, "Is that it? Is that all you have to say?"
Skinner straightens his back and lifts his head. "I assumed Scully would be back. I..." His voice breaks.
Reyes can see tears in Skinner's eyes and she stops straining against Doggett's restraint. She takes one of Skinner's hands in both of hers. "I'm sorry."
Skinner shakes his head, "You are right. It was wrong to make the deal. We never deal with terrorists."
Doggett says, "Don't try to be cute. We are not dealing with terrorists here."
Skinner, sneering, asks Doggett, "What are we dealing with here? Can you tell me that?"
Doggett fires back, "Then name the terrorist organization behind this! You know this is an honest-to-God X-file. Standard FBI rules do not apply."
Reyes does not want Skinner and Doggett getting into a pissing match. She tries to diffuse the cloud of testosterone. "Look, I was there with Dana. She wanted to stay. I'm sure of that now."
Doggett thinks she is just trying to take some of the weight off of Skinner and John is not buying that. "You are not sure of anything. Your memory was turned inside out by those clones."
Reyes looks Doggett in the eye and says, "I know what I know, John"
Doggett smirks, "Ya, right. You know only what those clones programmed into your brain."
Skinner cuts off their bickering. "This is pointless. Either you trust me or you don't. I say," He pauses, "You have no choice. In any case, I'm counting on you two. I can count on you two?"
Reyes and Doggett both say "yes." Skinner turns and walks away.
Reyes takes hold of Doggett’s hand, "Come on, hurry, we're going to miss our flight."