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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Strange Encounter - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 04/26/2007 02:10:46 AM

Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Twenty minutes later, they were well inside the complex, and Mulder had begun to develop a healthy respect for Remy. Mutant or not-- whatever that might mean-he could break locks with the best of them. Mulder had taken an immediate dislike to the man originally, perhaps because he reminded him a little too much of Krycek... just not quite so slimy. And he was doubly curious about which government had given him his training. Some of what Mulder had seen him use simply wasn’t available any other way.

Betsy held up a hand, and they all froze. She and Remy were crouched on opposite sides of the corridor where it opened into another hallway. They had been working as a team this way since they’d entered the building. They had only run into one person so far, but the man had never seen what hit him. He had been bound, gagged, and quietly stuffed into a janitor’s closet in a remarkably short time.

Betsy jerked her head towards the wall behind her, indicating that Remy was to go around the corner in that direction. He did and she followed, and their entire party moved into the new hall. Mulder glanced behind them only to see another blank corridor stretching out behind them. Occasional doors broke the sterile monotony, but none were marked with anything more than a number on a small black nameplate beside the door.

Betsy seemed to know where she was going. She finally opened a door into what appeared to be a small observation room for a surgery. The room was darkened, making the brightly lit surgery seem even whiter. A woman lay on the table at the center of the operating room. Mulder had never seen her in person, but knew who she had to be.

Two steps in front of him, Remy had gone pale.

"Dear Goddess..." whispered Ororo.

The woman lay in the midst of a frightening tangle of tubes, wires and machinery. She was naked, covered only by a clear plastic sheet. At several points, the sheet appeared to be streaked on the inside with blood. The steady beeping of a heart monitor was the only sign Mulder could see that she was even alive.

Scully was the first to the door leading into the surgery. Her doctor’s instincts were something that Mulder had come to depend on. She often tempered his intensity with compassion, a trait he often felt he was sorely lacking in.

Dana went immediately to the woman’s head, with Remy right on her heels. Before anyone could remind her, Dana grabbed a set of sterile gloves from the box on the counter behind her and slid them on. She checked the woman’s pupils, then her pulse.

"She’s stable, at least." She turned her attention to the two bloody bandages that had caused the streaks on the sheet. One was on her arm, at the point where an IV was inserted. The other, larger, was just under her ribcage.

Remy caught her wrist as she reached for the IV. "You a doctor, non?" he demanded harshly.

"Yes," Dana answered, and he released her. Mulder could read the sick fear on his face, and had no trouble guessing who this Rogue was to him.

"Agent Mulder, Elizabeth," said Ororo, "will you please watch the door?" Betsy nodded and Mulder followed her. He stayed at the door to the operating room while she went out into the observation area. Ororo turned back to the table and began undoing the metal brackets that held Rogue’s wrists and ankles.

Dana pulled back the bandage around the IV to reveal a hole approximately the size of a pencil. She carefully turned Rogue’s arm to reveal that the puncture wound did, in fact, go all the way through the arm. She looked up at Remy.

"I thought she was invulnerable."

The muscles of his jaw stood out in clear relief as he answered, "Dis done wit a laser. Crank it up high ’nough an’ it even go t’rough her skin."

Dana turned back to her study of the wound. The IV was inserted into an open end of a vein that had been sheared by the laser. Much of the puncture had been cauterized, but it continued to ooze blood. It looked to her as though they had used too high a setting at first, drilling entirely through the arm and cauterizing the veins they wanted to access. Successive passes at lower settings had allowed them to cut the tissue with the precision of a scalpel. She looked up at the bag hanging from the IV stand. Her expression of shock was apparent to Mulder from across the room.

"They’re feeding her enough sedative to kill an elephant! I’m not even sure how she can still be alive--"

"It is a reasonable dosage for Rogue." Ororo trailed her gloved fingers through a layer of grayish soot that decorated the unconscious woman’s hip and thigh. She rubbed her fingertips together thoughtfully and looked to Remy. "Rocket launcher," was all she said. Mulder wondered if he really wanted to know if she was implying what he thought she was.

Remy stroked the long red hair that tumbled over the edge of the table. "Almost got away, eh chere?" he murmured to her.

Dana carefully extracted the IV and taped a new bandage into place. "Do you know how long it will take her to recover from the sedative?" she asked to the room in general. She was already moving around the table to look at the other wound.

"Not long," Ororo answered.

Dana peeled back the other bandage. She had noted the continuous trail of blood that leaked from the edge of the bandage and ran down her ribs to soak into the padding beneath. The wound was not terribly large-- a straight cut approximately three inches long. She probed the edges lightly and was rewarded with a fresh welling of blood, but it answered her question. The cut was deep, but did not go through her. She gathered fresh supplied from the cabinet and began rebandaging the wound.

"They were doing some kind of exploratory surgery, it looks like. But they couldn’t pierce her tissues on a fine enough scale to take stitches, so they’ve left the wounds open."

"How much blood has she lost?" Ororo asked as Dana taped the last edge into place.

Dana shrugged. "I can’t say. Her pulse is fairly strong, though, so she isn’t in immediate danger."

"Give me y’ coat." Remy demanded suddenly, and Mulder’s attention snapped from the two women to the man who approached him.

"Sure." He surrendered his suit jacket without further comment.

Remy returned to the table and gently wrapped Rogue in the jacket. He picked her up easily, cradling her like a child. Ororo went to the cabinet and began searching through it. After a moment, she grabbed a familiar plastic bottle. Then, to Mulder’s surprise, the unscrewed the top and upended the bottle over the blood-stained pad on which Rogue had been lying. Unconsciously tidy, she tossed the empty bottle into the trash can and walked to the door. Remy followed her.

Mulder let them pass as he waited for Dana. "What was that bit with the alcohol?" he asked when she reached him.

Dana pulled off her gloves and stuffed them into her pocket. "She was contaminating the blood." Her eyes were wary. "They don’t want to leave any evidence behind."

Dana was exactly four steps into the hallway when alarms began to wail all around them. She drew her weapon and saw Mulder mimic the action. None of the other three appeared to be armed, though she was encouraged to see them shift positions into a defensive formation.

Betsy waved them along. "The lab is this way." She took off down the hall at a lope. They all followed, with Dana and Mulder bringing up the rear. At each intersection, Betsy paused as if listening. Then she would choose a direction and go on. Finally, she stopped and shook her head. "No good. They’ve cut us off."

"Now what?" Remy asked Ororo.

"Do we have any options?" She turned the question to Betsy.

"I say we blow a hole t’rough de ceiling and get out o’ here. We gone, Stormy. Who cares what dey see?"

Ororo shook her head vehemently. "No! We cannot risk exposure here. They are here." Whatever her words implied, it was enough to silence him.

"Who are they?" Mulder wanted to know. Ororo only shook her head and turned back to Remy.

"Give Rogue to me," she said. Remy gave her a questioning look.

"You will need to have your hands free. If we can force them to confront us in these halls, you and Elizabeth should be able to subdue them." Ororo glanced at the FBI agents. "And they can provide some covering fire."

Dana looked to Mulder for his reaction, but only received a shrug. Remy transferred the unconscious woman to Ororo and then pulled a metal cylinder from his jacket pocket. To her surprise, it telescoped into a five-plus foot staff that he spun once, seeking the proper balance. Apparently satisfied, he joined Betsy and the two of them proceeded down the hall.

"You do realize we’re probably facing some kind of military assault team, right?" Mulder asked Ororo in an undertone.

"Of course." Her stride never faltered.

"And you don’t think those two are... poorly equipped to go up against assault rifles?"

"No, Agent Mulder."

Mulder surrendered in frustration. Dana sympathized, but really didn’t know what to say or even feel. Events seemed to be careening out of control once again, sweeping the both of them up and tossing them who-knows-where. So far, they had escaped alive from every situation that Dana was certain would be their deaths, but she had no confidence that the trend would continue. In plain English, she was scared, and she didn’t particularly share Ororo’s belief that the two people who walked ahead of them would be sufficient protection.

The theory got its test only a minute later when five men in black fatigues, kevlar and rifles rounded the corner ahead of them. They were well trained, and reacted immediately. The front two dropped to one knee, taking aim, the other three took up positions behind them and raised their weapons as well. Betsy and Remy did what Dana considered to be the stupidest thing she’d ever seen, and dove straight for them.

Remy rolled to his feet right in front of one of the kneeling soldiers. He used his staff to deflect the rifle, which fired uselessly into the wall and struck the man in the face with the heel of his hand. As the man recoiled, Remy made a throwing motion toward the soldier standing behind the first. He, too, staggered and Dana saw a spray of blood. Beside Remy, Betsy performed a similar maneuver, though she used her feet and fists in a flurry that Dana could not follow. At the same time, Mulder fired several shots toward the ceiling, making the soldiers duck and giving Remy the opportunity to knock the last soldier’s gun out of his hands. He swung the staff around again, bringing it down with enough force on the soldier’s helmet that he collapsed.

Dana blinked in surprise at the pile of bodies. The fight had lasted less than ten seconds. She, Mulder and Ororo approached and looked down at the soldiers. Four appeared to be alive, but one had a knife lodged beneath his chin. Blood oozed around the hilt.

Ororo pinned Remy an accusing stare. "That man is dead."

He only shrugged. "We not playin’ games in de Danger Room, chere." He brushed by her and continued down the corridor. Betsy followed him. A brief expression of sadness crossed Ororo’s features as she watched the two, but then she shook herself and stepped past the dead soldier.

Danger Room? Mulder mouthed at Dana as he passed, following Ororo, but she could only shrug helplessly. She had quit trying to understand. Surviving would be enough for her.

Betsy leaned against the wall outside another unremarkable door. "There are four technicians inside," she told Ororo. She did not seem the least out of breath, despite the reckless speed at which they had been running through the halls. Ororo nodded.

"Maybe we should take the point on this one," Mulder suggested. He had never been one to just follow along. And beside that, their guns and badges would probably be enough to confuse the scientists and allow them to take control of the room without violence.

Ororo considered for a moment, then nodded her agreement. Mulder and Scully flanked the door, with Mulder providing the silent count. They went through in a practiced rush, taking the room’s occupants completely by surprise. Mulder ordered them away from their stations, corraling them against a side wall, while the others spread out into the laboratory. He kept his weapon trained on the four startled men, but they didn’t seem inclined to resist.

With Scully’s help, Remy found the proper blood and tissue samples, which were quickly disposed of. Betsy rifled through the tall racks of medical files, but Mulder couldn’t tell how successful she was.

They were in the last stages of preparing to leave when the door to the lab slammed open. Mulder whirled and found himself staring down his sights at a young Marine with a rifle that was aimed directly at him. Behind the Marine stood the Cancer Man. Mulder felt as if time had frozen for a moment as he and Cancer Man stared at each other. But then motion returned and soldiers poured into the lab, quickly surrounding them.

"Surrender your weapons, Agents," Cancer Man said as he stepped into the room.

Mulder stared at the ring of high-capacity rifles, and then back to the Cancer Man. It galled, but he slowly raised the muzzle of his pistol and let one of the soldiers take the gun from him. Nearby, another soldier did the same to Scully. Remy had placed himself between Ororo, who still held Rogue, and the Marines as much as he was able. He held his staff at the ready, though what he thought he was going to do with it, Mulder couldn’t guess. The soldiers didn’t seem too concerned with trying to take it away from him.

Cancer Man circled behind the ring of soldiers until he could face Ororo directly, though she was half-eclipsed by Remy. The Cajun’s position wavered as he tried to split his attention between Cancer Man and the Marine squad leader. Without warning, Cancer Man drew a slim pistol out of his pocket and fired twice at Ororo. One bullet ricoched off of the metal staff that Remy swung up in front of her. Mulder heard it rebound across the lab. The other struck Ororo in the thigh. She cried out in pain and collapsed, suddenly unable to support the weight of the woman in her arms.

"Just checking," said Cancer Man with a small smile.


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