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The usual suspectsEdit

Reyes

Special Agent Reyes

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."

"Speaking."

"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."


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