On The Outside (Song Of The Clone) *NC17*
Copyright 1996
Deslea R. Judd
drjudd@tig.com.au
Disclaimer: This work is based on The X Files, a creation of Chris Carter owned by him, Twentieth Century Fox, and Ten-Thirteen Productions. Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, Bill Mulder, Mrs Mulder, Samantha Mulder and her clones, the Cigarette Smoking Man, the morphing alien, the Doctor Gregors, Gareth Weiss, and Ambrose Chapel remain the intellectual property of those parties. Other characters are the author's creation and are copyright, and may not be used without her written permission. These include Clone 1 (Cynthia), Clone 3 (Carolyn), Clone 4 (Catherine), Clone 9 (Christiana), and Clone 14 (Cara). A number of passages contain verbatim quotes from Colony/Endgame; those quotes are also property of Chris Carter et al.
Spoilers: Duane Barry, Ascension, One Breath, Colony, Endgame, Talitha Cumi.
Note: Prequel to my novel Offspring.
Rating: NC17 for f/f sex. (Samantha/Other)
Summary: Colony backstory. Samantha must betray the woman she loves. And why does she hate Mulder? Told in journals, case notes, even Scully's stolen letters.

On The Outside (Song Of The Clone)
Deslea R. Judd
drjudd@tig.com.au
Copyright 1996

Prologue

THE FOLLOWING ARE CONTENTS OF A FOLDER WHICH MAY BE FOUND IN THE ARCHIVES OF DR SAMANTHA MULDER IN HER LABORATORY IN NEVADA. THE FOLDER IS TITLED, "CYNTHIA MULDER". IT IS STAMPED, "CLOSED".

//From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Cynthia Mulder.//

"Come in, One."

I heard the words in the background, but they didn't register in my mind. I had been thinking idly, and I didn't come to myself until another, feminine voice called, "Cynthia, come in, please."

I looked up. "I'm sorry," I said, "I was preoccupied." I got my coat and my purse together and entered the large office. "You wanted to see me, Sir?"

The man motioned to a chair. "Sit," he said brusquely, grinding out the inevitable cigarette. I suppressed the cough that rose in my throat. God, couldn't the bastard open a window? He was a walking smoke machine!

The woman greeted me rather more kindly. She always had. Sometimes she was so nice you almost forgot she was on the other side. I met her brilliant blue eyes, so like my own. "Hello, Samantha," I said conversationally.

"Dr Mulder," the man corrected sternly, but Samantha brushed this aside.

"Father, don't be so petty." She turned back to me. "Hello, Cynthia."

He stared mutinously at her for a moment, but then he backed down. I'd never seen him back down before, daughter or not. I was fascinated. But his gaze fell on me again, and I brought myself to attention. "You know why you're here, One?"

I'd never really minded being called One in my youth, and none of the others had minded being called by their own numbers, either. But that had been before we met Samantha, the one from whom we all came. Not a particularly sentimental personality, she had nonetheless been horrified at the inpersonality she perceived. Swiftly, she had assigned us all names, justifying it on the basis that it would foster a greater humanity in the aliens, such as myself and Catherine. This was not a universally popular endeavour; but its opponents had to admit that our successes in covert assignments changed for the better in the aftermath. Now, I had been Cynthia for seven years; and One, frankly, pissed me off. I bristled, but kept my voice steady. "Am I correct in assuming it is to do with Fox Mulder?"

Samantha inclined her head. "How much do you know about Fox, Cynthia?"

I recited the basic details. I knew them almost by rote. We all did...they were legendary. "I know that he's your half-brother and that he was present when you were removed from the family home in 1973 for your safety. In recent years he has begun to recover memories of your removal. He's FBI and he succeeded in being assigned to the X Files as a result of his interest in your case. In the last two years his work has become rather more dangerous to the Project than before. Attempts have been made to end his work, including the abduction of his partner, Dana Scully; but those attempts have been unsuccessful." I knew it was unwise to remind the man of his failure on the Mulder question, but I couldn't resist it. One, indeed!

He lit a cigarette, his expression grim. "A situation we mean to rectify." He paused, inhaling deeply. "We have elected to give Mulder what he wants - his sister's return. But you must realise that Dr Mulder's work is too valuable for her to be spared. You, One, will go in her place, pacify him with a story upon which you will be briefed, and maintain an ongoing relationship with him. In due course we will phase out your involvement -perhaps fabricate a job for you on the other side of the country or something similar to minimise your contact with him. But we anticipate at least two years of regular contact."

I stared at him. "And you believe he will give up his work?" I asked, trying to hide my incredulity.

Samantha shook her head. "No. But we believe he will become more moderate, less dangerous. We think, once the reason for his crusade is gone, he will go back to being a muddle-headed, inefficient federal employee."

I thought on this. "And what makes you so sure he will accept me as his sister?"

The man blew a cloud of smoke. "He won't, initially. You will be briefed, of course, but he won't accept you on the basis of your knowledge alone. It will be necessary to forge a bond with him. We've decided to fabricate an intrigue that conveys the impression that your life is in danger. In fact, we will be using the opportunity to get some help from Mr Mulder on the other operation, the elimination of the rebel clones. He will come to trust you, then love you." He rose, stubbing out the cigarette in the ashtray. "That's all. Dr Mulder will brief you, of course; but I have other matters to attend to. Good luck."

I nodded respectfully at the sanctimonious pig. "Yes, Sir."

One

//From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Cynthia Mulder.//

"Hello, Cynthia."

I looked up from my drink, and nearly fell off my chair at what I saw.

It was Samantha, but it was Samantha as I had never seen her. Her fair hair, so like my own, rested in a soft knot on top of her head, and she wore a fitted cocktail dress of rich burgundy. Her slim legs were encased in the finest embroidered stockings, and I breathed out shakily as I saw the faintest glimpse of flesh at their top. I was not immune to her beauty, of course; but never before had she made my breath catch in my throat as she did now.

"Samantha, you look beautiful!" I blurted. I couldn't help it.

She rewarded me with a gentle smile. "As do you."

Normally, I took no pride in such compliments. My looks, after all, were not of my own doing. But I had quite deliberately dressed up this evening, terribly aware that I would be close to her for the whole evening; and I blushed with pleasure. "Take a seat," I managed.

Samantha had been called away that day in the office, and she had told me to meet her here; an invitation I had accepted with pleasure. I had come to be briefed, but suddenly the Project was the last thing on my mind. I stifled the urge to reach out and kiss her right there and then; and the only thing that stopped me was that we looked like identical twin sisters. To have kissed publicly would have been risking being thrown out...or worse. Two women kissing passionately was one thing, and I knew that in these more exclusive hotels it would be discreetly ignored; but twins...no. It was asking for trouble.

I hoped she would sit next to me, but she sat opposite me, placing a bundle of papers on the table before her. Her legs brushed against mine unselfconsciously, and I started to see that this, too, had its rewards. I reached out and lightly touched her hand. "So, Samantha," I said, a gentle mocking in my voice, "brief me."

She didn't remove her hand. Smiling faintly, she said, "You know, Cynthia, we didn't have to meet. This could have been done by memoranda."

"You asked me," I pointed out.

She just flashed me a wide grin that said that was exactly the point she was making. Dropping her gaze, she perused the sheaf of papers in front of her. "We should spend some token time on this, I suppose."

"Of course."

Her tone became businesslike. "You will receive much of the historical material in writing to memorise. You do understand the basic assignment, of course?"

I nodded. "The Fox Mulder aspect, yes." I paused. "I don't completely understand how the rebel clones fit into it all, though."

Samantha's voice was grave. "You do know of their existence, however?"

"The Doctor Gregors, who were placed in abortion clinics across the country, were put there to undertake experiments with foetal tissue. The idea was to use them to glean further research to aid the breeding project - the developing of a satisfactory alien-human hybrid."

She gave a single nod. "That's correct. We have developed these hybrids, as you know; but they are not entirely satisfactory for our purposes. Their capacity to withstand the projected limits of bio and nuclear warfare are adequate; but they are not nearly human enough. The best we've managed so far is a 47.63% human with those characteristics. The immediate aim is to break the 50% barrier. Longer term, we would like to reduce the alien content to below 20%." She paused, suddenly smiling. "I have to keep reminding myself that you're an alien also, Cynthia. I mean no offence. But realise, the idea of all of this is to provide a basis for human survival in the most complete form possible in the event of holocaust. There's no point if we can't even manage half. We humans have stupidly painted ourselves into a corner in which we are capable of doing damage to the planet which we ourselves could never survive. We must change if we are to survive when some asshole somewhere decides it would be a really good idea to nuke or contaminate the rest of the earth. But - we don't want to change more than we have to. We want to preserve the integrity, if you can call it that, of humanity."

"I do understand, Samantha. I understand from the other aliens that a similar situation exists on our planet. We must adapt to water, our only abundant resource, for our hydration and other uses. No-one says very much, but I have the impression that similar hybrid experiments are taking place there with similar aims."

Samantha raised an eyebrow, obviously surprised at my knowledge. Surely she realised the aliens talked to us, their closest counterparts? We may have looked human and taken on human characteristics to a degree; but we were largely alien -over 86%. The cloning was in a different category to the hybrid project. We were technically a classification of hybrid, of course; but the sectors of our DNA which had been tampered with were minimal - those concerned with appearance, mostly.

Now, she nodded slowly. "However, the Gregors have decided that they are more interested in cloning. They want to colonise - multiply. Realise, cloning is a very difficult process, and a very secret one. You can understand the danger that would result from the general availability of that knowledge. We believe that the Gregors themselves mean no harm - it appears that it's something similar to that very human urge to procreate. As an aside, I will add that I'm intrigued by the fact that this is shared by all the Gregors, and none of the other clones such as the Jeremiah Smiths, who are part-morph. It raises the question of how much of instinct is biologically determined." She gave a self-deprecating laugh. "I'm sorry, Cynthia. It's the scientist in me coming out. We've asked the Gregors to cease their unsanctioned experiments. They haven't, and a number of them have dispersed so that we can no longer find them. We believe that they are on the verge of a breakthrough, if they haven't succeeded already. They must be eliminated before they can expose the Project by multiplying into noticeable numbers. The very fact that they are in the habit of congregating is itself dangerous. And their research must be destroyed before it can fall into the hands of people with interests other than our own."

I regarded her for a moment. "And where does Fox Mulder fit into all this?" I asked.

Samantha shrugged. "To some extent, he doesn't. We could use his help, of course; but it's not crucial. The morph will find all the Gregors sooner or later. But if the Gregors were to get wind that someone like Mulder was trying to protect them, they just might congregate and lead us to them, which would make our job much simpler. And naturally, incorporating you into all this will solidify his feelings of protectiveness for you -give you a foothold for this relationship." I nodded slowly. "There's something else, too. We think there are a few other rebel clones besides the Gregors - possibly higher up than them. They are engaged in similar experiments. They don't seem interested in colonisation as the Gregors are; but their research links in. At this stage, we don't know enough about their intentions to make a decision about their future; but if we could find out who they were, it would be an added bonus."

We were silent for a few moments, but then her tone changed, brightened. "Enough shop talk, Cynthia. Tell me what you've been doing with yourself all these weeks. It's been too long."

Samantha and I had been in the habit of meeting for dinner once a month. We had little in common beyond the Project; but somehow, we always seemed to click. And we almost never talked shop. We lived and breathed the Project; and for me, those dinners were a welcome respite from it. For a long time, I had been aware of growing feelings for her; but they weren't obsessive. Maybe they would come to something, probably they wouldn't; but it didn't much matter. I just went with the flow and enjoyed whatever time I had with her.

But we had missed last month, and I had missed her - a lot more than I'd expected to. Now, we chatted freely, and I felt a delicious warmth spread over me. A lot of the clones had wondered if there was a real person underneath Dr Mulder, she was that focussed; but I had always known there was. She was there, and she was funny and intelligent and piercing. And she sat here with me, her knee brushing mine, that quirky little smile on her face. It was wonderful. And it ended all too soon.

I walked her to her hotel room.

I don't know why - there was no need. She wasn't my date, and it was a safe, five-star hotel. I hoped for nothing, expected nothing; but it seemed right. And when we reached her room, I took her hand, thanked her for a lovely dinner, and kissed her cheek. I had no inkling of what she might have in mind until she didn't release my hand when I released hers.

And that was when she kissed me.

I shouldn't have been surprised. Samantha's preferences were legendary. But somehow, it had never occurred to me that she might want me. I was a clone, after all. Another species. There was something faintly taboo about it.

I was so surprised that at first, I didn't respond, but sat there, stock-still. It was only when she started to pull away that I came to myself and pulled her back to me, kissing her firmly, her mouth opening beneath mine to receive me.

She was so //soft.// Somehow, I had expected her to be strong - masterful. She didn't look it, mind you; but she had such a commanding presence that I somehow expected that to be translated in how she acted...how she made love. But I felt as though I were falling very gently into the depths of a mist. She was insubstantial and yet very real at the same time.

She kissed me gently, tentative as a very first kiss, her lips closing around the still-stunned lips they found. But it was I who roused myself and freed the passion within us both.

I pulled her closer, kissing her demandingly. I wanted it to be gentle, leisurely; but suddenly I felt overtaken by desire...need. Thought went out the window. My mind swam with her name, over and over again. Her tongue wildly searched my mouth for the oneness we both so desperately sought. My fingertips found her body, and the soft velvet under my hands as I ran them over the curve of her breasts made me shiver. I took the pin from her hair and it came loose, tumbling down over her shoulders.

She swept my own hair behind me and kissed my ear, my neck. I cradled her blonde head in my hands as she pressed her warm body against me; pushing me against her hotel room door. I felt her slide a hand up my fitted lace top and cup my breasts, her thumb rubbing my nipples in a circular motion that drove me wild.

We fell, rather than walked into Samantha's hotel room and blindly found our way to her bed. There was a tangle of bodies and fabric as we hurriedly pushed each other's clothes aside.

But when flesh met flesh, it was as though time had slowed down. The frenzy ceased, and we lay entwined in one another's arms. Her ivory skin was silver in the moonlight, and I ran my hands over it in something akin to wonder. Once again, we kissed, this time with great tenderness, our moisture mingling as I ran my hands over her breasts, down over the delicate curve of her belly. Her own slid down to my thighs, then up to my hips, drifted there a moment, then once again found my hair. Even my scalp tingled at her touch.

Samantha gently broke away and crouched over me. She kissed the small indentation at the base of my neck, smiling to herself when I shivered and drew in my breath. She took my hands and linked them in hers, slowly moving down my body. Her mouth found my breasts and nuzzled them gently.

Finally, her tongue found my nipples, and bathed them until they stood erect, pink and proud between her soft lips. Reluctantly, she moved on, kissing my belly, my hips, my thighs, studiously delaying that final delight. It was agonising...but it was delightful.

She kissed my knees, my ankles, even the creamy white soles of my feet, but then finally moved back up my body. Samantha gently parted my legs and fluttered her tongue up my inner thigh, teasingly brushing my pubic hair with her fingers. I longed to touch her; but she had me in such exquisite agony that I just couldn't.

With deliberate slowness, she parted my lips with her hands and with her tongue found what they concealed. Samantha gently nuzzled the the soft peak at its base with her tongue, moving with me as I shifted with pleasure. I heard the tiniest moan escape me. She flickered her tongue over the tip of my clitoris, then ever so slowly slipped it inside me. The strange sensation of probing softness, so different from a man, fascinated me as it always had. With ever decreasing strokes, she pulled away and moved up to meet me. "All in good time, Cynthia," she breathed tenderly.

My reply was to pull Samantha to me and kiss her insistently, tasting myself on her lips. That slightly sweet taste whetted my appetite for more, and I maneouvered Samantha onto her back and ran my tongue over the length of her body. I touched her sweetly between her legs with gentle fingers, but occupied my mouth elsewhere - first on her neck and shoulders and behind her ears, then on her magnificent breasts and in the cleft of her underarms (which smelled fresh yet were impregnated with Samantha's taste, her scent), her belly and navel, her sides, her elbows. By the time I finally sought her with my mouth, she was trembling, mouthing silent moans, her breathing laboured, her legs parted invitingly.

I took Samantha's hands as Samantha had done with me, and held them tightly as I lowered my face into the soft blonde hair and beyond. First, I teasingly passed my tongue over the clitoris, but Samantha bucked her hips with racing, uncontrolled longing.

I was happy to oblige. I thrust my tongue inside her. I breathed deeply, taking the sweet smell and the warmth into myself. I could feel Samantha spasm with growing desire, and I let go of her hands and turned my body, my own secret longing swaying above her mouth.

I felt her hands cupping my buttocks and firmly bringing me down into reach. Soon, my lazily growing orgasm was racing. And when I came, I thought not of myself in that dizzying moment, but of her. And as she cradled me in her arms, stroked back my hair and kissed my eyes, my cheeks, my lips, I felt as though I were human, at last.

Two

//From printed papers enclosed in the file. No author can be identified.//

I was a fool. I knew she was to be terminated, even then; and still, I gave in to my feelings for her. Perhaps that's why I gave in to them.

I blush to read of the night we shared. There's a part of me that still can't quite believe she committed such an intimate moment to paper. But then, I suppose it's no different to me reliving it.

And I do, every day.

We stayed there for three delirious days. I loved her heart, her mind by day; her body by night. For those three days I could almost believe that the Project didn't exist. That she wasn't doomed. And on the third day, as I looked at her from the corner of my eye, I knew I had to try to save her.

Not that I'd have gone against my father or the consortium. I knew the priorities here - indeed, I quite believed in them. Love or no, the Project came first. But I thought there were some quite strong strategic reasons to come to an alternative arrangement. It was with this is mind that I arranged to meet with my father.

He sat, waiting, smoking. We were close, but we were not in the habit of social calls. We ate, and we exchanged news; but there was expectancy in the air. When finally I ordered a scotch and downed it in one, shuddering gulp, he touched my hand. Gently but firmly, he asked, "What's wrong, daughter?"

I thought, from nowhere, that no-one who knew him would believe he could be like this. They thought he was a monster, his opponents and allies alike. And they were right, I knew; but they were also wrong - terribly wrong. He loved with a strength and an integrity and an insight that was beyond articulation. I realised that for his own good, it was just as well he loved no-one but me. Me, and just possibly my mother.

I answered him. "Father, I have my reservations about this Mulder affair." I reflected suddenly that I considered the Mulder family and myself, Samantha Mulder, to be in completely different categories. I felt no recognition of myself in the use of the name.

"I know that, Samantha. You've never been a good liar -at least not to me. Even as a child, I knew-" He shook his head. "Let's not get into that. It doesn't matter. What are your concerns?"

"Why don't we just kill him?" I blurted out. "Surely you don't really believe he's some sort of centre of a cosmic force that's against us?"

He laughed, lighting up a cigarette. His laugh was indulgent. It reminded me of the very first time he'd laughed at me - with me - and I had realised in some secret part of myself that he, and not stern Bill Mulder, was my father. How old had I been? Six, seven? He spoke. "That's the problem with you, Samantha. You're a scientist. You can never quite bring yourself to tap into the intuitive - the greater scheme of things. In some ways you're like the ignorant masses we protect, too frightened to move past that which can be safely articulated." He blew out a puff of smoke. "Understand me, Samantha; I'm not criticising you. You're young, and you're bright enough and you've seen enough that your worldview will expand to accommodate greater realities in good time."

"Those damned things will kill you," I snapped irrelevantly, annoyed.

He just laughed, as I knew he would. "I deal with intergalactic demons every day. I have greater concerns and dangers than such petty possibilities as lung cancer." True enough, I supposed. "Now, Fox. You know, that's exactly what he is: the nucleus of something. Maybe not a cosmic force, but he's the focus of a number of different people, benign enough in themselves, who when they come together do so in power. Take Scully, for instance: she's a scientist, like you. If she didn't have him there to constantly expand her horizons, she'd put the blinkers back on and leave us alone. And those paranoid little men who write that ridiculous conspiracy magazine."

"The Lone Gunman," I supplied.

"Thank you. They seek conspiracy for its own sake. It's a game - a serious one, but still a game. Left to their own devices, they would just fumble in the dark on a myriad of unconnnected conspiracies, real and imagined, with no idea and no influence. It's Mulder that brings the threads together. Then," he said, inhaling from the cancer stick far more deeply than normal, "there's X."

"'X'?" I asked.

"The unknown factor - the unknown informer. Whoever he is - and I say he because it's easier, and don't accuse me of being sexist, young lady; it could just as well be a she -" I grinned suddenly; he knew my thoughts too well, "whoever he is, he has divided loyalties. He must be located and eliminated; but at the same time, I doubt he's a danger in and of himself. He knows enough to bring us all down if he were so inclined. He's not. But he believes in Mulder's crusade, and that's why he feeds Mulder the bits of information he does."

I repeated my earlier question. "Then why not kill him? Blow the centre apart, like a tumour? Stop the spread?"

He put out the cigarette (and it occurred to me then that despite his filthy habit, he never threw his butts away - he always politely, discreetly ashed and stubbed in an ashtray. Strange how a man can care more for his surroundings than his internal organs!). "No. Kill Fox, and you make a leader into a saint. The core of - well, followers, if you like - they'd make his work their crusade. You can't martyr him. He has to go out with a whimper, not a bang." He paused. "That's why he must reach some closure. Give it up. That's why he must have you back. We must remove his reason for searching."

"You don't like him," I realised.

My father hesitated, but he met my gaze steadily. One thing he was not: a coward. "Not especially, no. He places his own personal agenda ahead of the good of the country - the planet. He searches for the truth and he searches for you, never mind that he could destroy this nation's heart and soul in the process." He frowned. "Do you know, the behavioural psychs think that if the public came to know of the presence of alien life on this planet, they would be so stunned by the blowing apart of their preconceptions that they would just numbly surrender to them? Become their slaves? Mulder cares nothing about that. He just wants to find you, like he wanted to find Scully. I have no respect for that." Taking a sip from his tumbler, he went on piercingly, "Samantha, do you //want// me to kill him?"

I, too, hesitated; but unlike him, I couldn't meet the eye of my accuser. "No, of course not," I admitted (but was that true? I had loved him once; but then, it had been so long that I almost didn't care anymore). "But you wouldn't protect him on my behalf alone. Nor should you."

He nodded slowly, admitting that was true; and he drew the attention of the waiter, ordering another brandy. When we were alone once more, I said, "Then why are you going to kill Samantha off? Surely he would be more content to let it alone if he had her, alive and well. What's wrong with the plan you laid out to Cynth - to Clone One?"

My father's voice became firm. "That's too risky, Samantha. In the short term, she can give him a story which will satisfy him. But sooner or later, he'll want to know more and more - maybe encourage her to undergo regression hynotherapy or some such thing. It won't be an investigative thing; it will be a concerned brother trying to help her cope and move on. But sooner or later he'll get suspicious at her refusals, and the whole thing will start again." He drained his glass. "There's something else to consider, too. It will only take one, miniscule accident for her to bleed in front of him - jamming her finger in a door, say. It could happen inside of three months - even three weeks. What's Special Agent Mulder going to think when he sees her spilling green blood?" He shook his head. "It's too risky," he repeated.

I was silent for long moments. Finally, I took one of his cigarettes without asking and lit up. Cynthia described my smile once as quirky, and she was quite right - and it was just like his. Quirky, like now. "Those damned things will kill you," he shot.

I grinned then. I couldn't help it. The sudden levity gave me the courage to go on with it, even though I knew the answer. "Father, why not one of the human clones? Fox isn't going to have a sense of closure with a missing body, and we can't have him find her corroding away." I shuddered at the thought of it. "Why not a human clone, that he can mourn and bury?"

His mood became reflective. "I share your concern on that point, Samantha; but the humans are too valuable. For some reason, it's much harder to successfully clone a human than an alien - you know that; you wrote the project evaluation. We can't just kill one off for something like this. Besides, individually, they're too important. Three - what did you call her? Carolyn? She's too much a part of the intelligence behind the hybrid project. And Ten is too important to the germ war investigations. They're all in important positions, humans and aliens alike, besides One. They just can't be spared." His expression was grave. "Samantha, is there some other reason that you want One off the project?"

I should have said something. I believe now that just maybe he would have tried to find another way if I had only spoken up. But I just didn't have the courage. "No, Father. I just don't think it's ideal." I ground out the cigarette in the ashtray, following his example, and downed another scotch. With my mouth already bitter with nicotine, it wasn't so bad. "But if it's the only way..." I stopped short.

He nodded, not without regret. "It is."

I met his gaze once more. "Then let's do it."

I returned to the hotel in Virginia in the early hours of the morning.

Cynthia didn't stir when I came in, and seeing her still form in the dim moonlight, naked against the ivory sheets, I knew that I loved her - that I had for a long time.

And, God help me, I had signed her death warrant.

Wild ideas occurred to me. I could substitute another of the clones. I had enough authority to command it, and there would be no questions until it was too late.

And my father would know, and he would be disappointed. Somehow, that troubled me more than the knowledge that the consortium would almost surely order my termination. No, such a thing was impossible.

Then what if I had the morph rescue her? That, too, seemed impossible. For Fox to believe that she was dead, she would have to die in conditions in which her survival was not a foreseeable eventuality. How it was done would depend to some extent on the contingencies of the situation, but it was expected that she would be drowned in freezing conditions. That wouldn't kill the morph, but it would certainly kill her.

Damn it! I paced restlessly back and forth across the plush carpet, searching for answers that I knew didn't exist. And there was no time. She was to go to the Mulder home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachussets, in the morning. There was no time for plans, no time to back out.

There was time only to love.

I undressed and went to her then. I smoothed back her hair and stroked her back. Smiling faintly, she murmured something, and opened her eyes.

"I'm back," I said gently.

And then, before she could wake properly, while she was relaxed enough to just feel and revel in feeling and ask me no questions, I held her, and kissed her, and loved her. I gave to her with that little thrill of mischievous delight I always had when I made love in Virginia, where oral sex was a felony; and I touched her in her most secret and most delicious places. She wanted to give to me, too; and part of me wanted to let her this last time - but a greater part of me needed to cherish her as though she were mine forever. So I held her down very gently and said, "No, Cynthia. This time's yours."

So she relaxed, and ran my fingers through my hair; and suddenly, I was thankful that I was between her legs and not in her arms, because then she would have seen that I was crying. I'll never forget that strange bittersweet taste of her sweetness mingling with my salty tears.

And when we were done, and I cradled her soft, warm body in my arms, I tried not to think that I was cradling a living corpse.

Three

//From printed papers enclosed in the file. No author can be identified.//

That day, we engineered a broadcast of a faked rescue of the morph from an unidentified craft in the Beaufort Sea. The craft was real, of course; but it had lain undisturbed for some time. We could not possibly have allowed any rescue mission to come in contact with the real craft - its emissions were too dangerous. The easily-manipulated naval crews rescued him, and footage conveniently made it to air in most of the cities where I knew there were Gregors. I had already leaked to them that he was on his way to kill them, and I knew it was only a matter of time before they congregated.

The next afternoon, I contacted the Germantown, Maryland Gregor - Dr Dickens was the name he was using. I warned him that he had been located by the morph, and that he was in great danger. I drove him to his home and told him to pack. But thanks to the e-mail I'd sent Fox, he and Dana Scully arrived with the morph hot on their heels. Fox and Scully knew nothing of this; they believed the morph was CIA Agent Ambrose Chapel, and were mystified by Dickens' sudden flight.

Dickens recognised Chapel as the morph, of course, and he ran; but it didn't matter. The morph caught him and killed him. I felt no guilt about creating the situation. It would have happened sooner or later anyway. And the Gregors had served their purpose, as far as I was concerned. Now they were becoming troublesome. They disposal was convenient not only from the consortium's viewpoint, but also my own.

The problem with the Gregors was that they had become obsessed with the idea of true colonisation. I had told Cynthia only half the truth on that point (as indeed could be said of many things). Initially, it had just been a desire to reproduce in the sense that we as humans understand it. It had been a desire to reduce the loneliness. It was a desire I could well understand, and we had served one another well. But at some point in the last couple of years, they had come to the conclusion that they could take over the world in due course. They had ceased to see themselves as guests who should assimilate and come to see themselves as superiors who should conquer. That was the danger of their work, not the research itself; but I couldn't tell Cynthia that. She was an alien herself.

The drawback to the faked rescue mission was that it drew attention to the area. Within days, the real alien craft had been located by a nuclear submarine. An admiral who knew both too much and too little for his own good ordered its destruction, resulting in the sub's disablement and loss. Damned fool. Even more foolhardy, he shortly afterwards ordered a naval destroyer from Anchorage to destroy the craft. As it happens, that fitted in with my plans beautifully; but it was still a stupid thing to do.

This is what happens when you give information piecemeal. The consortium would do well to learn from my father on that point.

//From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Cynthia Mulder.//

To my regret, I farewelled Samantha when she was called to Maryland on business. The next day, I made my appearance at the Mulder home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachussets. It was, of course, terribly uncomfortable and awkward - and I think it would have been even if I had really been she. What do you say to strangers who are your family? Not that that's something I'll ever know. Family...it's an intriguing thought.

And not, I must say, necessarily a nice one. Bill Mulder is an odious man. I admit, some of that is prejudice; I know how he treated Samantha. I suppose it's understandable; after all, she wasn't his child; but I hated the man on sight. I didn't know everything, of course. But I knew she had seen something that had made her unsafe. And her father had known that Bill would not protect her. That was why he had brought her away.

One of the Mulder children going missing had always been on the cards, of course; Mulder was too independent a thinker to go unchecked. Initially, Samantha's father had planned to take Fox on the premise that taking his real child would have more of an effect on him; but after Samantha saw whatever it was she saw, her father gave Bill the choice of which child would be taken - knowing what his choice would be. Bill, apparently, had snapped that Samantha's father could have his own illegitimate little brat. Once, I had wondered how any woman could desire Samantha's vicious father; but alongside this vindictive, stern, cowardly man, it was a tough call.

It didn't help that as soon as Fox showed up Bill cornered him on the verandah and started his hypocritical ravings about the comfort of certainty being disturbed (what, the certainty that I - I mean Samantha - was dead? Asshole). I had my back to the window, my attention on Samantha's mother; but I heard them, of course. I wanted to wring his petty little neck.

It was a draining day, and a more draining night. Samantha's mother went to bed after five in the morning. I, too, needed sleep; but I knew that it was just the beginning. I sat on the swinging chair on the front verandah on the basis that the cold would keep me awake, but still, I was half-drowsing when Fox emerged. We spoke vaguely for some minutes about the awkwardness of it all, but there was a question in his eyes. I answered it with the story that had been prepared.

I had been returned at about the age of ten without memory or history. I had been placed with adoptive parents. And then, reluctantly, I fed him that awful bit of emotional blackmail that recalled his own tortures in the aftermath of Samantha's kidnapping: "I started having trouble a few years ago," I said. "It was diagnosed as free-floating anxiety. Nothing worked for me. I hit rock bottom..." I didn't want to continue, but I had to. "Until I underwent regression hynotherapy." I caught my breath at the hypocrisy of it all. "And it all started coming back...the abductions - the tests -"

I couldn't go on with it. I thought of Samantha, who had been taken in stage-managed circumstances but whose worst torture had been being raised by a man who idolised her, and I felt ashamed. I went to Fox and held him tightly. He believed I was seeking comfort, but I sought to give it.

We stayed that way for a long moment, but then I broke away, knowing there was important work to be done. "I'm in danger, Fox," I told him; and this time I felt no shame. I was starting to fear that that was the truth.

He asked what I meant, and I told him. "You've been contacted. You know there's a man hunting my father and the other doctors." I stopped short. Whatever had possessed me to use such poor wording?

"Your //father?"// Fox demanded.

"My adoptive parents," I explained. "They're only visitors here. What people would call aliens." I felt a little silly saying the words. The fact that we genuinely existed did not in itself remove the sense of the ridiculous from them. It was too culturally ingrained. But Fox just looked at me steadily, and I went on, "A bounty hunter has been sent to kill them. You've met this man; his lies to you have caused others like my father to die. He won't stop until he's killed them all - and anyone who tries to stop him." That much was quite true, I was sure of it. "He'll come for me soon."

Fox is an agent, through and through. He asked me no questions, but immediately brought me inside. He tried to contact the woman Scully, his partner; but to no avail. The most he was able to do was leave a message warning her against that CIA agent, Chapel.

I was reluctant to tell him, for I feared to alarm him; but this part of the script was true. He had to know. "She won't be able to recognise him. He has the ability to disguise himself - as anyone. You can't recognise him," I added, "but I can."

I didn't have to say any more. "Let's go," he said quietly.

With difficulty, we made our excuses and caught a flight back to Fox's home in Virginia. I think Bill was quite relieved to see us go; but Fox's mother protested that we hadn't had enough time together. I think she was frightened of losing me - Samantha, I mean - again. I felt great warmth for her; and I tried to be gentle with her. "No, Mom," I told her, taking her hands in my own. "It's too soon, and too much to cope with. I'll fly back up on the weekend and we'll talk then. I promise." She gave a grateful smile, and she held me tightly; and then she let me go.

I felt very loved.

We arrived in Virginia in the early afternoon, where we learned from Fox's answering machine that Dana Scully, believing herself to be in danger, was at a motel in Germantown, Maryland. Since Germantown was where Dickens had had his laboratories, I suspected she was doing more than watching cable.

We left her a message with the motel, and we tried her cell phone. There was no answer. He nearly threw the phone across the room in disgust, but I grabbed his arm and pulled it down. "Fox, don't. Maybe she's just in the bathroom or something. Just give her a couple of minutes. She can't be far away." He shot me a look, and for a moment I thought he was going to lash out at me; but he put the phone down with a look of defeat.

I went to the bathroom myself, and when I came out, he was speaking. "Scully? Scully, it's me. Where are you?...Scully?...Scully?...Scully, are you there?...Scully, what's going on?"

This time, he did throw it across the room. It landed with a soft thud on the couch. "She hung up on me," he said. "Something's wrong."

I grabbed my coat. "Let's go."

We arrived at the Vacation Village Motor Inn soon afterwards - though not soon enough for Fox. The door to her room was ajar.

I think I knew the truth right then. Everything suddenly fell into place. And suddenly, I knew exactly what had happened here, and what the morph was going to do, and what was going to happen to me. I felt no surprise, but rather, a recognition of what I had known in some part of myself all along.

And I think that was the moment when I made my choice.

The room was a shambles. A glass coffee table was smashed to bits, a lamp overturned. There were a few stray droplets of blood. Fox dipped his finger in one of the drops on the remains of the coffee table and stared at it, his shoulders stiff. I longed to comfort him, but I knew then that the best thing I could do for him was to keep him focused.

"He's been here," I said. Talk about stating the obvious! "Your partner is alive," I reassured him hurriedly at his dark expression. "He took her to get me."

His voice was monotonous. "There's no sign of a break-in," he observed automatically. "She wouldn't have just let him in."

"She might not have known who he was," I pointed out. Then, more gently, "She might have thought it was you."

Fox looked at me. There was pain in that look.

I reached out to him then. I had to. Taking his hands in mine, I told him quietly, "We'll get her back, Fox. I promise."

We made our way to the car. Not unreasonably, Fox demanded to know why the morph wanted me. I stuck to the script. "Because I know how to kill him...by piercing the base of his skull."

"That will kill anyone," he pointed out.

"But it's the only way to kill him," I explained patiently. "You have to be precise. I'm fairly sure it will work."

"'Fairly sure'?" Fox echoed.

This was where the script and I parted company. I wasn't going to tell him about the weapon, but I had to give him some warning of the dangers involved. A hasty act on his part might kill him - him or the woman. "He's got powers I've never seen before," I told him truthfully. "If it doesn't work, there's a chance you could die. Their blood is toxic. Human exposure to it is fatal." I glanced up at him. "I know this sounds incredible-"

Fox cut me off. "No, no, no. That's just it. It doesn't seem incredible at all."

I gave him a querying look, but he ignored it. It was only later, while we were waiting, that I learned that a fellow agent of his had died in suggestive circumstances. He went on. "Now, how do we find him?"

"We don't," I said simply. "He'll find us."

Four

//From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Cynthia Mulder.//

Fox was pacing.

He'd been pacing for hours - ever since our return to his apartment. It was getting on my nerves. Even when our dinner arrived, still he paced, eating absent-mindedly as he went.

I begged him to sleep. The night before, at his father's, he hadn't done so; and he'd slept only briefly on the flight down from Massachussets. If my suspicions about what would happen tonight were correct, it would be at least another twenty-four hours before he had another chance. I couldn't tell him that, though; and he refused as I knew he would.

"Tell me about her," I said at last.

He shot me a look, as though in indecision. He frowned a moment, and then he said, "Scully was assigned to keep tabs on me. The Bureau was under pressure to keep me in line. Scully's a scientist to the bone, and she was basically asked to debunk my work." He gave a goes-with-the-territory kind of shrug.

"But she didn't?" I asked.

He shook his head. "No. She still doesn't believe, despite everything we've seen; but she's terribly, terribly honest. She's not afraid to admit when she doesn't have the answers. She believes there are rational answers out there and it's just a matter of finding them." He grinned suddenly, a quirky grin; and I realised Samantha's grin came as much from their mother as her father. "So do I, but not in quite the same way."

The smiled faded. "I get very obsessed, and very eager to leap to a paranormal explanation. And I'm right a lot of the time; I really believe that. But I'm also biased. Scully...Scully keeps me honest."

Wondering if I was overstepping the mark, I said cautiously, "You love her?"

Fox thought on this for a moment. "I guess maybe I do," he admitted slowly, "but it goes a lot deeper than that. I //trust// her. I don't trust //anyone,// Samantha. Not Mom or Dad, not any other partner I've had. Sometimes I don't even trust myself. But Scully...Scully I trust with my life. And not only with my life, pathetic as it sometimes is; but with myself."

Did I trust Samantha like that, I wondered? I realised I did not. "That sounds nice," I said gently, aching for him...and also for myself.

He stared out the window for long seconds. I wondered if he were hiding tears, but I realised that was something I had no right to know. "It is."

The seconds turned to minutes, and the minutes to hours. The hours dragged. Once, he asked absent-mindedly what I was writing; but by the time I could half-fib, "Just letters," he'd tuned out once more.

By midnight, the strain was starting to show. He accused me of keeping back information. I couldn't bring myself to be hurt; after all, it was true. I told him. Some of it was scripted and false, some of it quite true. Most of it was somewhere in between.

I told him that the clones had been here since the late nineteen forties and had become enamoured with the idea of colonisation. Their research involved hybridisation with a view to eliminating their identical appearances. That much was true, but what I didn't tell him was that the clones themselves were a type of hybrid developed by our own government, or that the rebel clones and their colonisation project (of which Samantha would have been stunned to know I knew the details) made up only a small part of the picture. The bounty hunter, I told him, had been sent to kill them because the unsanctioned experiments were considered a dilution of the species. This, too, was true insofar as there were opponents of the sanctioned hybridisation experiments on both planets; however, the real reason they were to be exterminated was that their actions endangered interplanetary relations, so vital to each planet's survival.

Samantha, of course, had never told me the truth about the colonisation project. She underestimated my own contacts among the aliens. I suppose she feared that my own loyalty was to them and their race, that I might agree with the rebel project; which despite her involvement had veered completely, dangerously away from her plans.

She was wrong. I am a creation of the interplanetary survival project, and therein lies my only allegiance. The only good thing to come from this mess, I see now, is that at the end of it, Samantha's enormous error of judgement in the matter of the rebel project will be wiped from the board. For that, the price of my life is acceptable.

Fox's boss, Skinner, is here. The last of the Gregors are dead - Scully had them in protective custody with the Federal Marshall's office, and the morph got to them there. Scully just called, too; the morph is ready to deal. I'm quickly finishing this while Skinner arranges for a sniper - for all the good it will do. I will run out and throw this in the postbox on the corner while the two of them are getting their things together. I want Samantha to know what has gone on. Crazy as it sounds, after all that's happened; I want her to understand why I have acted as I have.

I don't expect to write again.

//From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Dana Scully.//

Dear Melissa

I'm sorry I cut you off on the telephone. I know I was terribly rude, but I've just been so worried about Mulder that I'm not thinking straight. I know you're concerned for me. I'm writing because it's too late to call you and if everything goes according to plan tonight, I'll be going away. I don't know how long I'll be gone.

Mom told you I'd been kidnapped, I guess; I don't really know why she bothered. I was gone for less than a day. It goes with the territory. I'll tell you about it, but don't you dare tell Mom the details. She's been so protective of me since the Duane Barry thing.

I was kind of knocked about when the man took me; but he didn't hurt me. He made me call Mulder and demand an exchange for a woman who was with him, naming a time and place. He didn't tell me who the woman was - I assumed it was to do with some case Mulder was working on. Mulder didn't tell me, either; he just agreed. I wish to God he'd told me then what I know now.

We arrived at the Old Memorial Bridge in Bethesda. We drove onto the bridge from one end. Mulder's car was already parked at the other. Mulder got out, and the guy - the morph, Mulder calls him (one of these days I'll tell you why, but we'll both be drunk first, because I can still hardly believe it myself, though I saw it with my own eyes) - he got out too, dragging me with him.

The morph told Mulder to bring "her" out - her being the woman I was to be exchanged with, I guessed. Mulder turned and looked into the car and gave the faintest nod. The woman emerged, her back straight, her eyes forward. I had assumed the exchange was a setup, but something about her stance told me that whoever she was, if it came down to it, she was going to do it.

Her eyes met Mulder's for a long moment. Mulder seemed to be struggling with something, but the woman just gave a slight nod and a gentle smile and approached us. Damn it, Melissa, I should have known then! All the clues were right there - he'd been called away on a family emergency, and he hadn't returned my calls, even when I was in trouble. Mulder //always// checks his messages. Who else could have consumed him so totally?

So anyway, she approached us. She seemed so //courageous.// There's no other way of saying it. Working in the Bureau, you see a lot of courageous //acts,// but this was different, somehow. This was a courageous //person.// It was only when she got up really close that her calm seemed to falter. Her expression changed slightly, but she gave me the slightest smile and let him take her.

He pushed me aside, and I stumbled over to Mulder, a little dazed. I told him I was okay and got straight into the car. I could see it wasn't over yet, and I couldn't do anything but get in the way without any knowledge of the situation. The morph started backing away with the woman, towards the car; and then everything happened very quickly.

First, she turned around and tried to stab him with some kind of spike she'd been hiding. Gutsy, but useless - he got it off her at once. He was saying something to her, but none of us could hear what it was. Then the sniper Mulder had arranged fired. The morph collapsed against the side of the bridge, then fell over the side, taking her with him. Mulder called her name, but I didn't catch it. I certainly caught it the second time, though; it seemed to come from the depths of him.

//It was his sister.// I was so completely stunned, so horrified, that for a split second, all I could do was sit there; but then I bolted out of the car and ran to him. He was shaking, and so was I. Then he started yelling and pulling off his coat, trying to go in after her; and it was all I could do to restrain him. It was thirty six degrees in there. I grabbed him by the arms and held him. He pulled against me until he started bleeding from my fingernails digging into him, and then the fight seemed to go out of him. He collapsed against me, and then he broke down there in my arms.

I didn't want to leave him, but Skinner insisted I go to the hospital. I finally agreed when he promised to stay with Mulder. Skinner was very kind to both of us that night.

I went back as soon as I was discharged and I found him right where I'd left him, watching them search the lake. His voice was raw, but he seemed numb, as well. I felt so hurt for him, Melissa. I asked him why he hadn't told me it was his sister. He just said that I wouldn't have let him go through with it. Damn it all, of course I wouldn't have!

We found her body a few hours later. I had to tell him, and I begged him not to blame himself, but I know he does. Melissa, I feel so responsible and so sick to think that after twenty two years, he had her back; and he lost her again in the space of days.

There was something strange about her body, but I can't get into it. It's not so much protocol as that I don't understand it myself. But before she died, she apparently left Mulder a message putting him onto a new lead in the whole kidnapping thing. What he found suggested that maybe the woman who died was not his sister, but we just don't know right now.

And now, he's gone.

Just vanished. He left me a message saying that he couldn't let me risk my life and my career on his personal cause. I don't mind admitting that I'm pretty pissed about that, because we aren't on those terms. We're there for one another, no limits...that's just how it is.

But more than that, I'm scared. I'm scared of what might happen to him. Something died in him that night on the bridge, and I'm not so sure that it's returned. If anything were to happen to him, I just don't know what I'd do.

That sounds melodramatic, I know. But I don't mean it like that. I mean it exactly as it reads. Mulder and our work...well, that's all there is for me. It sounds pathetic - yuppie spinster syndrome - but it isn't. Somehow, things like relationships and going to parties pale in comparison to what Mulder and I do. What we do means something - something bigger than the individual. The fact that it costs and that it cuts us off from others to a degree only adds to its worth, and draws us closer together. I don't expect you to understand that, but there it is. And if it were to end - and it would end if he weren't here with me, in it - I know my life would never be the same.

But I have a plan. Mulder knows someone who would have told him where to go next. I will find that person, and I will make him tell me what he knows. I only pray I'm not too late.

Must go; I'm terribly sleepy. And I don't know when I'll sleep next. I'll be in touch.

All my love, Dana

Five

//From printed papers enclosed in the file. No author can be identified.//

Surrounded by the clones, you become a lot more perceptive. The tiniest things make a difference, or help you to recognise someone. Like Catherine - she has the faintest crease on the left-hand side of her mouth from where she always has a pen dangling out of it. Christiana's face was almost completely bare of lines because she's so damned expressionless.

The very first time I saw Cynthia, I knew she was brave. It was a long time before I could identify the proud tilt of her head and the way her eyes were always wide and cool, but I sensed it before I saw it.

Damn it, I should have known! I should have known what she would do! She exchanged herself for the woman Scully, and she was killed.

My dearest Cynthia. Dead - for a woman they'll kill some other time anyway. And for a man who will always be tortured no matter what they do to him. Damn you, Fox, how could you swap her for that woman! She isn't even your lover, or your wife - that I could possibly understand. How could you, how //could you?//

And Cynthia, the damned fool, left him a message to go to the abortion clinic in Rockville if they were separated. He showed up there the day she died, and he found us. Christiana, bless her, rallied well, having the presence of mind to switch on the intercom so that the rest of us heard and were warned. We told him the truth - most of it, at least. We were the last remaining rebels and we needed his help to escape the morph.

We let him think that I, too, was a clone. One of them, Cara, slipped and said that I was the one from whom they had come; but he attached no significance to the statement. Perhaps he believed that I was the original rebel clone and that I had created them all. I don't know. By that point, I didn't care; for I knew even then that she must be dead. Had I known then what I was told later, perhaps I would have killed him myself, brother or not.

But there were more important matters to attend to. He had led the morph to us. I made some effort to get them out, but I knew then that they were doomed, the three of them. They were ordinaries, not morphs; and they could be killed as easily as I. All I could do, once the fire broke out, was get out myself.

I was lucky - very lucky. The smoke sparked an asthma attack. I was lying unconscious in the grounds when the morph found me. For the love of God - it could so easily have been Fox!

He found my medication and gave it to me, but when I came to, he accused me of helping the rebel clones. I laughed at him. "Fool," I said, "I found them. They were on the verge of telling me what they had discovered. I'd planned to eliminate them myself once I knew. Now we're back where we started. Who knows what valueable research they had done? You even went and burnt the place - we can't even access their files. My father will not be pleased."

He wasn't convinced, and admittedly, the explanation was a weak one; for part of his assigment was to destroy the research lest it be found by other, unknown rebels and sympathisers. He threatened to tell my father his version of events; but I could tell he was not confident that he would believed. I told him as much, and added that if he ever got me offside I would tell the cosortium where the missing weapon was - the only weapon which could kill him and the other morphs.

The morph paled. I was stunned - I hadn't known they could do that. It was such a //human// response. And with the exception of one of the Jeremiah Smiths, the morphs were so damned inhuman. That was why there was a faction of the consortium which, despite the project's success, were anxious that the morphs be eliminated. "I could kill you now," he threatened; but his voice held no conviction.

"You could, but you won't. You must realise that I've already made arrangements for the information to reach them in that eventuality. You are many things, killer; but you aren't stupid."

He wasn't; he let me go.

//From a loose sheet enclosed in the file. It is headed, "Field Notes". //

February 1, 1995

After being treated for smoke inhalation, Agent Mulder was released from Spyridon Hospital in a satisfactory condition. At his request the abortion clinic where he was found has been searched repeatedly; but the bodies of the women he insists perished there have not been found.

This report remains incomplete. Many aspects of this case defy explanation, including the identities of the identical men and women. Agent Mulder's claim of alien origins cannot be substantiated.

The man under suspicion in their disappearances is still at large and has now been charged with the death of FBI Special Agent Gareth Weiss, whose body has been quarantined at the US Medical Institute Of Infectious Diseases. Weiss' death involved a thickening of the blood. It appears that he was subjected to a virulent strain of virus whose origin and behaviour are also unexplainable. It is my hope that further study of this contagion will aid in the solution of this case.

Dana K. Scully, MD Special Agent Federal Bureau Of Investigation

//A handwritten note appears at the foot of this page. The author has been identified as Dana Scully.//

Sir: Spoke w/Med Inst Infectious Diseases pathologist. Contagion appears to be a retrovirus which triggers an immunological response, specifically massive production of red blood cells (hyperviscousity syndrome). Retrovirus seems to become dormant at lowered temperatures. Also: The body of CIA Agent Ambrose Chapel has been located in wasteland just outside of Washington, D.C. Initial CIA pathologist findings are consistent with those in the case of Gareth Weiss. These findings will be incorporated into my revised report. DKS

//From printed papers enclosed in the file. No author can be identified.//

I saw my father that afternoon. It was then that I was told that Cynthia had been swapped for Dana Scully. The morph had jumped over a bridge with her, seemingly to escape a sniper's bullet; but of course the bullet couldn't have killed him. It was to kill her, and end Fox's search.

The irony of it all is that it didn't. Against all odds, her body was found. Like all the alien clones, she corroded when she thawed. It makes my skin crawl to even think of it - that beautiful body disintegrating, caving in on itself, dissolving into green fluid.

But then, humans do it too. It's just slower, and smellier, and more putrid. Death is never attractive. But this was different, somehow...this was Cynthia.

But he knew then that she was a clone. And had he not, he still would have figured it out when he got to the clinic in Rockville, thanks to that damned note she left him. It was all for nothing.

My father told me all of this, and I slumped in the chair by the window, staring out at the sleet. He watched for some minutes, smoking, then cleared his throat. He ground out his cigarette. "She left you a note. It arrived by express post this morning."

I looked up at him in surprise, and took it when it was offered. "You didn't open it," I noticed.

He inclined his head. "The things which pass between partners are private, Samantha. There is little in this world that I respect, but I respect that."

I blinked, startled. I knew he knew, of course; word had filtered back to him of many of my entanglements. But never before had he referred, overtly or otherwise, to my sexuality. "You loved her?" he asked, diffidently.

I nodded slowly. "Yes."

"I'm sorry." And somehing in his voice told me he was.

I shook my head. "I knew she was to be terminated. It was my own fault." I looked down at my name, written in her hand. All that was left of her, or us, lay there in my palm. I felt sick. Suddenly, I blurted, "Damn Fox!"

He was silent. It was an expectant silence, and finally, I continued, "How could he exchange her for that woman Scully? His own sister! At least, he thought she was. Damn it, Father, why?"

His voice was grave. "You know it's not as simple as that, Samantha. Scully is part and parcel of his life crusade - the X Files. That's what makes him so dangerous - it's his religion. And Scully is his high priestess, and that's why we took her." He lit a cigarette, his tone suddenly reflective. "Do you know, it actually worked? That idiot Skinner refused to accept his resignation. But the profiler's report on Fox says that Scully means more to him than family, or friends, or lovers. She represents everything that gives his life meaning. I believe he would have exchanged his own mother for her if we'd asked him to."

"Is he in love with her?" I asked.

"Maybe," he shrugged. "Who knows?"

We were silent for long moments as I thought it over. Finally, he spoke, puffing a cloud of smoke.

"What about the rebels?"

"What did the morph say?" I demanded before I could stop myself.

He gave a wry grin. "What you told him to. You threatened him with the weapon, I suppose?" I was rebelliously silent. His tone became grave. "I know you were the leader of the rebel project, Samantha. I've always known."

"And you covered for me," I said, surprised. Love or not, we were part of a greater plan. I really never thought he would protect me. Nor did I expect it. That wasn't in the rules of this crazy game we played.

"I understood your reasons," he said simply. "And I knew I had some responsibility for them. Your only heritage which means anything anymore is that of myself and the clones. That's my fault, taking you from your family at such a young age. I did the only thing I could to keep you safe after they learned you saw your mother hide the weapon; but nonetheless, it was at great cost to you." He paused, stubbing out the cigarette. "It's only natural that you should want to pursue the cloning project even further. Your mistake was in involving the rebel clones."

I bowed my head. He //did// understand - perhaps better than I understood myself. "I didn't mean to foster division among them, Father. I should have anticipated the problems it would cause. I'm sorry."

He brushed this aside. "I understand. I do. But your interest in the cloning project is obsessive - destructive. I can't protect you from the group again, Samantha. These side projects - they stop now. Do I make myself clear?" I met his eyes, and I nodded, ashamed.

"Father," I asked at last, "Do I disappoint you?"

He came to me then, his expression stunned. He knelt at my side and cradled my cheek in his palm. "Samantha, you're my only delight in a bleak and cowardly world. You're strong and courageous and you don't shrink from what must be done. You make me proud. I love you."

I wept then. I couldn't help it. "You're very good to me, Father."

His tone changed then. "Don't see things that aren't there. I'm not a good man."

I shook my head. "No, you aren't," I agreed. "But you're a good father."

He held me then, and he stayed with me, and I was comforted.

//From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Cynthia Mulder.//

Dearest Samantha

By the time you read this I am almost certainly dead. I know now what they plan to do to end Fox's work - as I'm sure you've known all along. I remember writing somewhere once that you were so nice that you almost forgot you were on the other side. You made me forget by loving me.

But I can't find it in my heart to hate you. Whether you meant it or not, you have given me the means to find meaning and sense in this life. You see, the clones have no heritage. You think you understand that, that's why you run the rebel project (and you thought I didn't know, I suppose) - but you don't. If you're adopted, if you're an orphan, you still know that somewhere out there are parents and family...you can make up the details if you don't know them, or if the real ones are unsavory. But we clones - we have no heritage. None at all. We were not born of the love of man and woman or the existential reality of family in the world. We are Projects, nothing more. Carolyn told me once that we're all dispensible because in some essential way we aren't real. She's right. We clones are standing on the outside, on the fringes of the world, looking in on real life.

But now that has changed. In becoming you for that short time, and becoming one with you in the depth of my heart, and in being a part of that Mulder heritage which is yours, I feel as though I have become a part of the world at last. And that is why I must do what I am doing.

I think I knew, deep down, when you told me to tell Fox that piercing the base of the neck is what's needed to kill the morph. No mention of the weapon. I suspected then that I was being set up, but I didn't want to believe it. But when the woman Scully was taken and I was demanded in exchange, I knew the truth: they were going to kill me so that he would stop looking. They were going to give him some closure and end this thing once and for all.

Fox wants to exchange me. He says I know how to kill it, and Scully doesn't; so if something goes wrong I will be in a better position to get out alive than she. He doesn't know, of course, that that's false; that I can't escape him either because I don't have the weapon. But he has given me the choice. He won't force me. But he won't look at me because he knows I see the agony in his eyes every time he hears her name.

I believe he loves her. I wonder, too, if she loves him; he didn't tell her that the woman the morph was asking for was "Samantha". I asked him why and he simply said that she wouldn't have let him make the exchange. Interesting.

I'm going to make the exchange, Samantha. He has, in part, given me that meaning I talked about at the beginning of this letter. And Scully gives him that meaning, too. I can tell. I'd like to give that back to him. And I'd like to give you back to him - or at least the hope of you. That's why, no doubt to your fury, I am leaving him a note which I hope will lead him to you.

I hope that one day you can break free from the ties that bind you and find in him the heritage that you seek. That heritage is not to be found in the clones, my love; it is to be found in the people from whom you came.

I don't expect to survive. I am taking a sharpened ice pick with which to pierce his neck; but even if I get the chance, I know that it is almost certainly not an adequate substitute for the weapon. No, I shall only come back to you if you plan to have the morph rescue me - but I don't really believe that. I believe you love me, but that's not in the game plan, is it? And the game comes first.

I leave you with a kiss of peace, my dearest love. I ask your forgiveness, and I give you mine.

All my love, Cynthia.

Epilogue

//From printed papers enclosed in the file. No author can be identified.//

"I need a favour."

The morph laughed with easy incredulity. "It seems to me that you're the one who owes me a favour or two, Dr Mulder."

I shrugged off the implied threat. Who the hell cared? "No, I think you'll enjoy this one. It involves some fun and games with the men who are trying to destroy your craft; maybe even the ones from the lost sub, if you can find them - and with Fox Mulder."

He looked at me, his face blank; but I could see he was interested. I went on. "We know he has an informant. I want you to go back to your craft, supposedly to protect it from the naval destroyer that's leaving Anchorage today, and make sure you spread the news of your destination fairly broadly." I added with confidence, "He'll find you."

The morph's expression was curious. "You do realise, Dr Mulder, that if he finds me, he'll probably shoot me in the base of the neck, expecting to kill me? That he will be exposed to the retrovirus in the process?"

I shrugged. "If he gets exposed, he gets exposed," I replied carelessly.

He looked dubious. "Fox Mulder is your brother and you're more or less asking me to create a situation in which he'll almost certainly be killed." His tone was reluctant.

I just laughed. "Don't tell me you're developing a conscience, Killer," I sniped.

He grinned at that. "Hardly. But how do I know I'm not being set up?"

"If I were going to kill you, I'd have done it long ago," I snorted.

There was no answer to that, and he agreed without further ado. But before he left, he queried, "What if he doesn't shoot at me, Dr Mulder? Do I kill him anyway?"

I thought a moment. "No," I said at last. "I've got a much better torture in mind."

I told him, and he laughed. And then he was gone.

//From a loose sheet enclosed in the file. It is headed, "Field Notes".//

6 February, 1995

On February 3, Agent Mulder was located in a critical condition by a naval search team on glacial ice in Beafort Sea, in the Arctic Circle. His condition was one of extreme hypothermia. He was airlifted to a military base at Eisenhowerfield, where he was held for treatment. Upon my arrival, I was able to identify symptoms of exposure to the retrovirus which killed Agents Weiss and Chapel and formed the opinion that Agent Mulder was still alive as a result of the hypometabolic state induced by his exposure to the cold.

Transfusions and an agressive treatment with antiviral agents have resulted in a steady but gradual improvement in Agent Mulder's condition. Blood tests have confirmed his exposure to the still-unidentified retrovirus. Its origin remains a mysterty. The search team that found Agent Mulder has located neither the missing submarine nor the man he was looking for.

Several aspects of this case remain unexplained, suggesting the possibility of paranormal phenomena. But I am convinced that to accept such explanations of events is to abandon all hope of understanding the scientific reasons behind them.

Many of the things I have seen have challenged my faith and my belief in an ordered universe. But this uncertainty has only strengthened my need to know, to understand, to apply reason to those things which seem to defy it. It was science which isolated the retrovirus to which Agent Mulder was exposed and science that allowed us to understand its behaviour. And ultimately, it was science that saved Agent Mulder's life.

Dana K. Scully, M.D. Special Agent Federal Bureau of Investigation

//A handwritten note appears at the foot of this sheet. No author can be identified.//

S: Told him you were alive as per your instructions. May I add as an aside that I think you're a vicious, conniving bitch.

I like that in a woman. K

//From a typed note enclosed in the file. No author can be identified.//

The incident in the Arctic had me mystified. I didn't understand why the morph would go there when he knew that we had dispatched a unit to deal with the Anchorage delegation. It seemed like a stupid risk to take, especially without seeking guidance on the matter first...and even more stupid to so blatantly broadcast his intentions. It made no sense.

I should have known it was her. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do. She doesn't realise it yet; but when you cross the line between the evil that must be done for the sake of the work and evil that you wilfully commit or commission for revenge, you change, somehow. And it's a change you can never reverse.

I had hoped that my daughter would never cross that line. I have crossed it, and I know its cost. Its cost is one's own humanity. And that essential humanity is what I have always treasured in my daughter.

What will become of her now?


Deslea R. Judd
Sydney, Australia
August 29-31, 1996