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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

Faith and Dreams - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 04/26/2007 02:10:47 AM

Chapter 18

Chapter 18

"You’re not going to find anything," Dana stated in quiet frustration.

Colonel Fury glanced up at her over the top of her FBI identification, which he currently held in one hand as he studied it. A computer screen to his left continued to flash through picture identity files, searching for her record.

"Because you’re a federal agent only in another dimension?" His tone was studiously neutral.

"Yes." Dana sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. When she had the opportunity, she was going to tell Shadowcat her opinion of Fury’s reasonableness.

"So why should I believe that this is real at all?" he waved the I.D. at her.

"Herr Fury," Nightcrawler broke in, his anger invisible save for the tail that lashed back and forth beneath his chair. "Both Professor Xavier and Phoenix have vouched for her. She is what she says."

Fury’s gaze moved to the small, blue-furred man. "And I should believe them?" He leaned forward in his seat, his expression suddenly intense. "You sit here, telling me about a pending invasion of Earth to be staged from ships that no one can see and whose existence has been disavowed by the President of the United States and his counterparts in every NATO country around the world." He tossed Dana’s badge down on the table. "Give me one reason why I should believe you."

Dana stared at the Colonel with a growing sense of desperation. Though she didn’t believe he would kill them, she was convinced that he would turn them over to his superiors if they couldn’t prove their case, and that probably meant they would in turn be given over to the shadow government that supported the Racth’zai. Unfortunately, she had no idea what kind of place S.H.I.E.L.D. held in this world’s political structure. They obviously had extremely advanced technology, from the Helicarrier to their cloned decoys...

Dana paused, startled by the pieces of information that collided in her brain. Her heart lurched at the picture that appeared from the mix and she had to take a steadying breath before she spoke.

"Colonel Fury."

His gaze snapped to hers and Dana forced herself to speak with as much certainty as she could muster. Fury could not know that what she said was built on a rather flimsy collection of data.

"About a week ago, S.H.I.E.L.D. was sent to a remote area in Russia, to the site of a crashed spaceship. You were instructed to retrieve the pilot of that ship and leave a decoy copy at the crash site."

Fury raised an eyebrow at her flat pronouncement, his expression neutral, but Dana was certain she saw recognition in his eyes. That tiny confirmation was enough to set her heart to racing, and in her lap her hands squeezed into fists as she fought to keep her composure. This man had seen Mulder. He knew if he’d survived the crash. He might know where he was.

She took a deep breath. "The man you found is my partner. His name is Fox Mulder."

Time passed with agonizing slowness as Fury stared at her. Finally, he drummed his fingers sharply on the table and stood up. "Stay here. I’ll be back." His gaze swept the gathered members of Excalibur and Dana before he turned and strode quickly from the room. The two guards at the door moved aside to let him pass and then returned to their positions blocking the door.

After he was gone, Dana let out a shaky sigh and tried to take control of the exultation that was trying to break free inside her. She still didn’t know for sure that Mulder was alive. All she could do was wait... and hope.

The echoing shriek of the thing that followed them sent chills up Remy’s spine. It was definitely gaining ground. Beside him, Krycek turned to fire down the dark passageway, the bullets striking sparks where they ricocheted from the cast iron plumbing that lined the maintenance tunnel. With both Krycek and Cancer Man providing ammunition, Remy had taken them straight down four floors into the sub-structure of the building, and from there Cancer Man had led them through a torturous maze of basements and maintenance accesses. Now, they ran through an old steam tunnel that Remy guessed hadn’t been used in nearly a quarter-century. Luminous mosses grew in patches on the walls, their feeble light the only guidance the trio had. Remy tried not to wonder what kind of slime coated the floor of the tunnel and grew in the pools of frigid water that had collected in the low places. He was barefoot and still dressed in the hospital scrubs he’d been wearing at the mansion. His feet had long since gone numb from the underground chill coming through the cement, providing yet one more challenge to his already over-extended reserves.

He stumbled over a crack in the floor and Krycek caught him, one arm wrapping around his waist to keep him from collapsing.

"Keep moving!" Krycek snarled, dragging him forward.

Overbalanced, Remy fell to his knees. His vision whited out for a moment, then reasserted itself as he struggled to draw air into his lungs. The sharp edges of his broken ribs dug into him, making each breath agonizing.

"Can’," he gasped, resisting Krycek’s frantic attempts to draw him to his feet. "Got’ kill dat t’ing... can’... go... any further."

Krycek shook his head vehemently. "No, it’s too fast. We have to lose it."

Remy didn’t try to find the breath to answer with. He just reached out and snatched the gun from Krycek’s fingers, his motion so fast that the other man didn’t have a chance to tighten his grip.

With his enhanced night vision, Remy saw Krycek’s eyes widen in surprise. "Not... too fast," he managed.

"How--?" Krycek was cut off by another scream from the approaching creature. His head snapped up and then he reached down and dragged Remy to his feet. "It’s coming."

In the distance, they could both hear the rapid slap-slap of the creature’s feet on the slime-covered cement. The steps began to slow as they grew louder, and both men turned instinctively toward the source of the threat.

Remy straightened painfully, his sensitive eyes straining into the darkness for a glimpse of the creature. "Give me y’ knife," he held out his empty hand to Krycek without taking his eyes off the depths of the tunnel. He’d seen the telltale bulge of the sheath back in the video room.

The weight of the hilt settled in his palm a moment later, and Remy closed his fingers around it, testing the balance as Krycek slowly backed away. "You’d better know what you’re doing," Krycek said in a hushed voice.

Remy couldn’t answer. He could see the creature now, its form a slightly darker shadow against the blackness. His spatial sense tracked its motion as it shuffled slowly forward and Remy had the unpleasant feeling that he was being stalked.

With a slight twist, Remy reversed his grip on the knife and began to charge it. The power tingled painfully in his fingers until he had to grit his teeth to keep from dropping the blade. The lurid glow emanating from it seemed inordinately bright and threw everything in the tunnel into stark relief. Remy found himself staring at the creature from a distance of about twelve feet. It flinched at the sudden light, its large eyes narrowing to slits as it cocked its head to study him. Remy didn’t move. He needed more charge to be sure of killing it.

Remy continued to pour power into the knife, acutely aware that he would get only one chance. If he’d misjudged the creature’s speed, it would kill him. They remained frozen like that, studying each other, and then without warning the creature snapped into motion.

Remy didn’t have time to think as it lunged toward him, its form a blur. Entirely on instinct, he threw the knife he held. His aim held true and he watched with a sense of satisfaction as the blade sunk into its chest with a dull sucking sound. Then the image was gone as the knife exploded in a flash of brilliant light. The force of the blast was funneled toward Remy by the confined space, rolling toward him in an expanding ball of fire. The blast wave slammed into him, throwing him backward like a rag doll. Remy hit the ground and tried to roll, but the pain that lanced through him left him stunned, barely able to breathe. He found himself on the cold floor, his cheek pressed into the slime that filled the pores in the cement. A ways away, he could see the gruesome pile that was all that remained of the creature. Remy felt a stab of pleasure. The explosion must have ripped it in two.

Hands closed on him, pulling him to his feet. Dimly, he recognized Krycek and the Cancer Man. Krycek’s face swam before him for a moment, his expression intent as he studied Remy. His mouth moved soundlessly, asking questions Remy couldn’t understand through the violent ringing in his ears, and then Krycek disappeared as the darkness that filled the tunnel closed in.

Colonel Nick Fury stared at the images on the screen before him, his thoughts tumbling. The surveillance tape had recorded their debriefing of the pilot, and the file that lay open on the desk in front of Fury matched the voices that came through the speaker. The disturbing thing was that the woman Scully knew details of the debriefing that had not been released to anyone beyond the Colonel’s direct superiors.

Fury frowned. It argued rather strongly in her favor, and though he could never admit it, the fact that the X-Men vouched for her was also compelling. Unfortunately, if what she and Nightcrawler said was true, then the Earth was about to be invaded and his own government was facilitating the assault.

He ground his teeth, resisting the temptation to slam his palm down on the desk. The question was what to do now. If the government was involved, he couldn’t use the normal channels and right now he wasn’t certain who outside of those channels he could still trust.

The strident wail of the alarms interrupted his thoughts. Fury hurried to the Helicarrier’s bridge, stopping short on the threshold as he spied the image on the main screen. The numbers displayed in the lower right hand corner indicated that the picture was at the system’s maximum magnification, but despite the grainy quality, Fury could clearly see the unfamiliar lines of the ship that was plunging through Earth’s atmosphere. That wasn’t what grabbed his attention, though. The stocky ship was surrounded by a sphere of glowing blue energy, and gripping that in its talons like a large ball was a phoenix.

Hopefully not The Phoenix, Fury thought grimly. As he watched, the fiery bird threw its head upward, uttering a scream that didn’t reach far enough to be picked up by their sensors. Its wings flexed as if it were straining to slow its descent.

Fury glanced over at the parameters displayed beside the screen and sucked in his breath. The ship was plummeting out of the sky, the digital readout of the altitude changing so rapidly that the right hand numbers were nothing but a blur, but eventually they began to slow.

"Put us on an intercept course," Fury ordered his pilot. "I want to be there when that thing touches down."

"Yes, sir," the pilot responded and Fury felt the deep vibration come up through the soles of his feet that meant that the hover system had gone into forward mode.

They reached the site just as the phoenix deposited its burden on a deserted expanse of ice in northern Canada. The bird threw its head back, uttering another of its fearsome screams before simply... evaporating. Fury blinked in surprise. The energy field around the ship winked out a moment later, leaving a strange stillness in its wake.

"Scan it," he ordered.

One of the bridge officers complied, his brow furrowing as he studied the readings. "Sir, there are life readings on board. Eleven human-- all registering as mutants-- and thirty-one unidentified... make that thirty. Twenty-nine." The officer glanced up at him. "Whoever’s in there is killing them off at a pretty good rate."

Fury had a sneaking suspicion that he already knew who it was. "All right. Let’s get a welcoming committee together to greet the victors. Tell Captain Reeves to be on his best behavior." He didn’t need to alienate the X-Men any further when they had information he needed.

The officer nodded. "Yes, sir."

Dana stood just outside the outer door of the downed spaceship, a feeling of reluctance suffusing her. Despite everything she’d seen, there was a part of her that did not want to go inside, did not want to see the proof of everything Mulder had been chasing for the past five years.

"Dana?" Jean was watching her with an expression of concern.

Dana shook her head brusquely. "I’m all right." She was the one who should be concerned about Jean. The other woman’s face was marred with exhaustion, and though she remained on her feet beside Dana, it was obvious that the effort to land the falling ship telekinetically had taken its toll on her.

Jean nodded lightly. "We need to get going," she reminded the FBI agent and Dana sighed.

"Right." Without further prompting, Dana forced herself to step into the ship. Jean fell in beside her and they followed the telltale signs of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s investigation toward the site where the X-Men had battled the ship’s inhabitants. The ship was abuzz with Fury’s people and Dana had to take back at least some of her original impression of the man. Once he’d become convinced that the threat was real, he had acted with a decisiveness that erased any doubt Dana might have held that he was nothing but a government puppet. The X-Men needed to leave now because both the press and the military were on their way, and Dana had been given the impression that neither was known for treating the X-Men kindly.

The reached the first signs of the conflict and Dana stopped in her tracks, startled despite herself. It was one thing to tell herself she was going to look at a bunch of alien corpses. It was quite another to actually see them.

After a moment, she walked over to the nearest of the two bodies. A technician of some kind looked over at her curiously, but did not protest as she knelt to examine it. Even a cursory examination was enough to convince her that this could not be a fake. The internal structure she could see through the massive wound in its chest was undeniably alien to Earth.

Throttling her curiosity, Dana rose. This wasn’t the real reason she had come into the ship. She went on with Jean trailing behind her. They moved deeper into the ship until they found Colonel Fury.

He looked up at their arrival, his expression shading toward wariness. Dana found herself unconsciously steeling herself for an argument as she walked up to him.

"Colonel Fury."

He nodded in acknowledgement. "Agent Scully."

When he offered nothing further, Dana ground her teeth in silent frustration and forced herself to speak. "I need to ask you a question."

Fury raised the eyebrow over his good eye. "If it’s about your partner, the answer’s yes. We picked him up." His tone was clipped and brusque.

Dana forgot to breathe as she stared at him. "Is he alive?"

Fury frowned thoughtfully. "He was at the time. I turned him over to my superiors." He made a tiny gesture that might have been an apology. "I can’t tell you any more than that."

Dana didn’t notice. The pure relief that swept through her left her knees weak and her heart racing. Mulder was alive! Despite the identification she herself had made, despite the funeral and cold ache that had haunted her since then, Mulder was alive. Dana felt as if the world had suddenly snapped into focus. She was filled with a sense of... energy, of renewed belief that the struggle was worthwhile...


Dana blinked and came back to herself. Jean had one hand under her elbow, supporting her as she reeled under the emotional flood. "We need to go."

Dana nodded briefly to Colonel Fury and allowed Jean to lead her out of the ship. The cold air sweeping across the Canadian ice was like a slap in the face and Dana took a deep breath, savoring it. She had no idea where she would go from here or how she would find Mulder, but she did not doubt that she would find him. Relentless pursuit of a dream was something that Mulder had taught her, and she was surprised to realize how well she’d learned.

Smiling softly, she walked toward the Blackbird.


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