Sent: Saturday, October 07, 2000

Title: The Ley of the Land
Author: Eve11
Email: Eve11-xf@psu.edu
Category: Old-fashioned X-file!
Spoilers: Blink and you'll miss one for Closure. Takes place between then
and 'Requiem'
Rating: G
Archive: Yes, but please email me

Summary: When two boys have a strange encounter in a rural New Mexico
cave, Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate a possible alien
abduction. But the truth may be far older and more powerful than
anyone suspects.

Author's Note: I've had to put writing on hold for a while due to the
swamping influence of a graduate program workload. But, this piece was
written back in July, and just aired (with a slight alteration in the
timeline... October instead of April) as Virtual Season episode 2x18 at
http://www.angelfire.com/ky/ixnaysxfiles/fanfic.html . Anyone interested in
learning more about the topics presented in this story can check out "The
New View Over Atlantis" by John Michel.

A big thank you to Brianna L. for beta-reading!

Eve

(Oh yeah, Mulder and Scully and the X-files aren't mine, yada yada yada,
I'm making no money on this, etc...)


The Ley of the Land
By Eve11
1/4
**

St. Michael's Church
Land's End, England
April 14, 2000
4:00 pm


"Ryan, pay attention," Clarissa whispered in his ear.

Ryan rolled his eyes, and tried to focus again on the curator's
monotone, but he really wasn't interested in the history of some
measly collection of rocks. He'd tried his best to stay home today.
He hated field trips, but his mother had been adamant. It would be
good for him, she'd said. But what did she know; it wasn't like
people stared at her every time she went out. And, despite her
insistences, she never came on these center-sponsored field trips.

He signaled Clarissa. "I'm bored as hell," he told her.

"Stop complaining," she whispered back. "Listen and you might learn
something."

Reluctantly, he focused his attention back on the curator, a stout
woman who looked flustered at the idea of giving a lecture to ten
wheelchair-bound teenagers. He could hear it in her voice. He could
see it in her stance. She did not want to be talking to them.

But talk she did. Ryan sighed.

"The church here is in the shadow of St. Michael's Mount, which
rivals Stonehenge in its age and design. This church was actually
built over a much older pagan shrine found at the southern end of
the rocks on the Mount. The chapel behind me was just opened last
year," she turned and pointed to an alcove, "and is actually a
remnant of the original shrine. If you go back there . . ." she
started, and trailed off. The only way back around the altar was
through a short, narrow staircase.

Ryan smiled. Sometimes it was amusing to see people get so
uncomfortable, so quickly. It would be a chore getting anyone from
this tour up those stairs.

He looked at the stairs again. It would also save him from this
ridiculous lecture. He got Clarissa's attention with a wave of his
hand and, doing his best to feign real interest, half-signed, half-
pointed toward the stairs.

"I want to see the chapel."

Clarissa gave him a warning look. He wagered she suspected his
motives, but that wouldn't make him back down now.

"Will you fit?" Clarissa asked critically.

He moved his alphabet board in toward his lap, and studied the
stair again. He wasn't completely certain.

"Of course," he signed. Anything to escape this tour.

Clarissa raised an eyebrow. But she got the curator's attention.

"Ryan wants to see the chapel," she said simply, gesturing in Ryan's
direction. "I'll take him up, if you don't mind."

The woman was taken aback, as if she didn't expect that any of the
kids could actually understand her. But after recovering from her
shock, she gave a slight nod. "Yes, please, go ahead."

Ryan scoffed as he manouvered toward the staircase. Let her gawk and
wonder. If she'd been talking about anything interesting, like space
shuttles, instead of rocks, he'd even be asking questions. He took a
glance at the other students. Most were paying attention to the
lecture. Bobby Harris shot him a smile and gave him a sign,
shorthand.

"Sly fox."

"Got that straight," Ryan shorthanded back. They'd both wanted to go
to the science museum in London, but they'd been outvoted. Ryan knew
Bobby was as bored as he was. Then Clarissa got hold of his handles
and started him up the stairs. It was a tight fit, but five minutes
later, he was in the hallway leading back behind the altar.

Ryan let Clarissa catch her breath, and went ahead. The hallway was
almost as narrow as the staircase. It was arched, built out of old,
large stones. The trip was more than a little bumpy, and it was damp,
almost like going underground. Getting his bearings, Ryan realized
he might even be going underground, into the hill that the church was
built upon. It actually gave him a chill, thinking about it. He
heard Clarissa from behind, urging him to wait for her, but now that
he was up, he found he really did want to see what was back there.

The hallway opened into a small rectangular room with stone walls and
a stone floor. It was still damp, and it had a musty smell. The
rocks in the walls looked older than the ones in the hallway, that
was for sure. The Christian altarpiece looked out of place, like an
afterthought. And the floor. . . the rock patterns on the floor
were in a circle; they looked like a specific design, but he couldn't
quite make it out. Maybe if he could see it from the front . . .

Ryan moved forward, into the circle. That's when he noticed the
humming. The whole room was humming, all around him.

The hum got louder. Frantically, Ryan tried to back up, but the
chair barely responded, getting only half-way out of the circle
before the room gave a concussive shake. Ryan found himself lurching
forward, out of the chair as it rolled away behind him. He braced
himself for impact with the hard stone floor.

The world exploded into light and noise, and then, there was nothing.

**


Cactus Flats Reservation
Cactus Flats, New Mexico
April 14, 2000
9:10 am


"What, you scared?"

Adam Swiftriver looked his cousin in the eye. No small feat, because
Janine was four years older and a foot taller than he was. Janine's
brother Frankie stood at her side.

"Yeah," Frankie added. "You scared?" He was two years older than
Adam and two years younger than Janine, which meant that Frankie went
along with whatever Janine said, especially if it picked on his
younger cousin.

"No way," Adam said confidently. He ignored the sweat dripping down
his back; most of it was from the walk up here, anyway. No way he was
going to lose it in front of Janine. She'd never let him live it down.
No way he was going to be outdone by a girl either.

"Well, go in then," Janine taunted him. "Unless you actually believe
all those old stories."

"Yeah, go in," Frankie echoed.

"Fine, I'll go in," Adam snapped. He looked into the mouth again, and
took a deep breath. It wasn't that he believed the old stories. He
didn't. The Growling God was just a Navajo myth; this wasn't his
cave.

"What are you waiting for?" Janine asked. "The longer you stand there
looking, the faster your heart starts beating, and then . . . POW!"

It was just that the cave was so dark. He wasn't going to let on
that he was afraid of the dark. Not to Janine. No, he'd told her
he wasn't afraid of anything, and now he had to prove it. Stupid
Janine. He didn't think she had it in her to come up with this.
She'd masterminded the whole thing; she was gunning for him ever
since last night when he'd made that stupid comment. She and
Frankie ambushed him on the way to school, and now, she was holding
all the cards. He couldn't back down.

Adam took another deep breath, held it, and stepped into the cave.

"Keep going," Janine instructed.

He took a few more steps, trying his best to see what was in front
of him, but the light died quickly around him. His heart did start
beating faster, and he tried to ignore it. Make it through this, he
told himself, and there's no way Janine will tease you. Another step.
Make it through this and you'll be the one who can dare the little
kids to do it. Another step. Make it through this . . .

What was that sound? Adam stopped in his tracks, listening. The
cave was humming. There was no denying the jump in his heart rate
this time. The hum sounded like a static buildup in his older
brother's guitar amplifier. It sounded electric. Like lightning.

Adam backed up, slowly. The hum got louder. He turned around, and
then the hum exploded into light.

Adam screamed, louder than he'd ever screamed in his life. In the
sudden brightness, he fell down onto the floor, scrambling to get
away, screaming at the top of his lungs. The flash died, and the
now pitch darkness sprang to life around him, all rocks and sharp
edges.

Then he felt something wet grab onto his arm, and Adam Swiftriver
promptly fainted.

**

The humming ended in a flash of light and a loud, powerful crack that
sent Janine and her brother sprawling from the mouth of the cave.

The silence afterward was deafening. Janine screamed, but to her it
sounded like she was underwater, far away.

"Adam! Adam, are you okay?"

There was no reply.

She turned to her brother, who had a stricken look on his face. She
saw the stain on his pants and the small puddle on the rocks. Frankie
had peed himself, and was practically hyperventilating. Well, it was
up to her. She wasn't going to leave her cousin in the cave, not when
it was her fault he was there in the first place. Hands shaking, eyes
wide, she grabbed her pocket flashlight and took as many steps forward
as she dared.

The cave was silent. Frantically, Janine tracked the walls and floors
with the flashlight. When the beam finally fell on her cousin, Janine
let out a gasp. After a few seconds, she managed to find her voice
and screamed for her brother.

"Frankie! Get an ambulance!"

**

Cactus Flats General Hospital
April 15, 2000
9:00 am


Agents Mulder and Scully were met at the hospital entrance by a tall,
dark-haired man with a lean build. His police uniform was accented
by a large cowboy hat that almost completely hid his dark eyes. They
introduced themselves, and he gave each of them a warm handshake.

"Agents, I'm Deputy Harold Fisher," he introduced himself. "We sure
are glad to have your help on this one."

"Glad to be of help," Mulder answered as they entered the building.

The hospital was small but clean. It didn't have a pediatric wing,
though the last two rooms on the eastern ell had been turned over to
the two victims, Swiftriver in 110, and the John Doe in 111.

Victims of what, no one was sure.

"Deputy, does the Cactus Flats police department have an idea as to
what happened?" Scully asked.

Fisher shook his head. "Sherrif Brady had a thought it might be ball
lightning, but it doesn't explain the, uh, substance found on the
one boy."

Mulder raised his eyebrow, a quick gesture meant only for his partner.
Scully's first theory on hearing the case had been ball lightning.
The deputy was a few steps ahead, and Mulder leaned in toward his
partner.

"Hey, you'll fit in here just fine," he said with a hint of a southern
accent.

Scully gave him a tip of an imaginary cowboy hat. "Just keep
surrounding yourself with intellectuals, Mulder. It'll eventually
rub off."

Substance, indeed. Mulder, in his usual enigmatic presentation, had
just told her it was all 'real wrath of God type stuff.' "Lighting
and thunder, and primordial ooze in the one case," Mulder had quipped.
Then, "I also have documented abduction cases with strikingly similar
scenarios."

It had been a relatively short slide presentation this time, mainly
because their flight was scheduled for departure in forty-five
minutes. Scully spent the plane ride studying the documented
abduction cases in further detail, as well as examining what little
information was available from New Mexico, and she wasn't convinced.

Deputy Fisher ushered them to the right. "Through those doors, to
the end of the hall," he said. "I'll be waiting here; the kid doesn't
want to see any more uniforms for a while, I'm sure."

Out of earshot from the deputy, Scully spoke her mind. "I don't mean
to be a stick in the mud, Mulder," she said, "but I don't think the
evidence here points to abductions. I mean, the Navajo boy wasn't
abducted, he didn't suffer any missing time, and we really don't know
enough of anything about the John Doe to make conclusions."

"Well, let's wait for the eyewitnesses," Mulder replied. "Adam
Swiftriver is being released today."

"Adam Swiftriver wouldn't have even needed a hospital stay if he
hadn't fallen and suffered a mild concussion," she said, remembering
the boy's file. "Not a good argument for the clout behind the wrath
of God, either."

Mulder turned to his partner. "I guess the thunderbolt missed.
Anyway, the abduction cases . . ."

"No one was abducted," Scully interrupted. "If anything, we've got
one too many children here. I mean, if no one was abducted, and it
wasn't the wrath of God . . ." she trailed off, slowing her steps.

"Then we've got the largest hairball on record from the rogue Magical
Mr. Mistoffilees," Mulder deadpanned. "And he even gave them a show."

Scully stopped short. "I didn't know you saw 'Cats'," she teased.

"Only in my deepest, darkest nightmares," her partner answered, and
knocked on the door to 110.

A Navajo woman, presumably the child's mother, answered the knock.
After looking at their badges, she consented to let the two agents
talk with her son. Of the two victims, Adam Swiftriver definitely
appeared to be the lucky one. While the John Doe was drifting in
and out of consciousness, the 10-year-old Navajo boy had only a small
laceration on the back of his head, and lingering headaches.

Adam sat in bed, squinting at the two agents.

"If the light bothers you, we can close the shades," Scully said.

The boy waved a dismissing hand, and his mother spoke for him.

"He doesn't like the dark. I tried to tell him, but he's afraid."

Mulder spoke up, addressing the child again. "Afraid of what, Adam?
What did you see?"

Adam spoke quietly. "I was afraid to go in. I guess, um, that was
the reason. . . " He trailed off, then took a deep breath. "Anyway,
I already told the police. It was lightning." He fidgeted on the
bed. "Talk to Janine. It was her idea to go to the Growling Cave
anyway."

"The Growling Cave?" Mulder asked. "Is that its name?"

"It's a loose translation," the boy's mother offered. "The cave is
named after the Growling God -- he's also called the Thunder God. The
old story is that if the Growling God senses fear in your heart when
you go in the cave, he will strike you down with lightning."

The two agents exchanged a glance before urging Adam to continue with
his story. The boy recounted his tale haltingly; he entered the cave
on Janine's urging, and then there was a low humming, and lightning.
He fell, he hit his head, and he thought something grabbed onto his
arm. The something, as was later learned, was the other boy, whose
identity was still unknown, and who had been found in the cave covered
head to foot in a strange gelatinous substance.

"Janine said it looked like Ectoplasm," Adam said, then added with a
sulk. "Am I done here?"

Mulder thanked both the boy and his mother for their time, but he
asked one more question before they left.

"Adam, do you remember seeing the other boy in the cave, before the
lightning struck?"

Adam shook his head. "I didn't know he was even there at all, not
until he grabbed my arm."

In the hallway, Mulder cornered his partner's attention.

"Coincidence?" he asked, gesturing at the door. "The myth definitely
seems to have some truth to it."

"It could be a hoax," Scully countered. "Kids around here obviously
know about the legend. And our only eyewitness so far is a 10-year-
old child who was scared out of his mind."

"And his two older cousins," Mulder added quickly. "Do you think it
was a prank? Do you think the John Doe was in on it?"

"Could be. Maybe they got carried away." She paused. "What was that
last question all about?" she asked.

"Well, if no one was abducted, maybe someone was returned," Mulder
offered. "It's the next logical conclusion."

"Just because Adam Swiftriver didn't see the other boy on the floor
of a dark cave when he was already too frightened to think straight
doesn't mean the child wasn't there," Scully pointed out. "He most
likely got lost from a camping trip." Then, "Are you heading up to
the reservation?"

Mulder nodded. "I'll get the cousins' statements, and check out this
'Growling Cave,'" he said, fishing for the keys to the Taurus. Then,
he added, "Meanwhile, I want the low-down on this other boy and the,
uh, goo, found on him."

**

Growling Cave
11:00 am

After a dusty, bumpy ride, Mulder learned a new appreciation for the
term 'outskirts.' Deputy Fisher had assured him that the reservation
was 'on the outskirts' of the town of Cactus Flats; he didn't say it
was an hour-long trek northward along the winding Pecos River. And
the Growling Cave was another half-hour hike from the reservation's
main road. Mulder stumbled on the gravel path for the tenth time,
and for the tenth time wished he'd worn hiking shoes.

"There it is," the deputy pointed to a small, arched opening in the
cliffs in front of them. Mulder eyed the cave, trying to envision
where the three cousins had been standing during the incident.

He had taken statements from both Janine and Frank Swiftriver.
Janine was contrite; it had been her idea to visit the cave, and in
that way, she felt responsible for what had happened. Both children
were frightened from their encounter. They corroborated their
cousin's story about lightning, and about the other boy in the cave.
Janine had only noticed the other boy after the lightning, when she
searched the cave with her flashlight. Frankie had called for an
ambulance, and that was that. In Mulder's opinion, there was nothing
in the interview to support the idea of a prank. Janine and Frankie
were not the culprits; they were just as scared and confused as their
cousin.

Mulder caught Deputy Fisher's attention. "Was there any evidence at
the site of a prank or a hoax of some kind?" he asked.

"We had people up here all day yesterday," the deputy said. "Couldn't
find any wires or electrical devices. Couldn't find much of anything
at all, really. A few beer bottles, but they were old. You wanna
look inside?"

Mulder nodded, and the two men made their way up to the cave. On
closer inspection of the opening, Mulder stopped. The mouth of the
cave was actually a gap outlined by two large rocks, each a part of
the cliff face. The rocks themselves were obviously part of the
natural landscape, and most of the opening in front of them was just
an extension of the gap in the cliffs, but the arch above the opening
was a different story. While the gap between the rocks extended some
twenty feet upward, the cave entrance was only about seven feet high.
It culminated in the arch, made by three large boulders wedged into
the gap with what looked like human precision.

"Is this man-made?" Mulder asked, pointing out the smooth curve of the
archway.

"If it is, it's a might older than anything around here," Fisher
answered. "You'd have to ask the Dineh to be sure, but I think it's
always been that way."

"Dineh?" Mulder echoed.

"Dineh. The Navajo name for the tribe. You know," he added, staring
at the archway again, "I'm sure of it. Four is the magic number with
the Navajo. The Thunder God is one of four gods." He passed a hand
over each of the boulders. "The story, which is as old as the hills,
says even the other three gods think twice about going in, and choose
to wait outside instead."

Mulder eyed the stones again. If they were natural, then nature had a
much more precise eye than he'd like to think.

"Well," he said, "They can wait out here as long as they want, but I
suppose we've got to test our mettle with the Thunder God."

Deputy Fisher gestured to the opening. "After you," he said with a
smile.

Mulder turned on his flashlight and ventured into the cave. The entry
way curved off toward the left, and the outside light soon faded. It
was amazing how dark the cave got in such a relatively short distance.
Panning the flashlight around, Mulder found himself at the far end of
a small, almost rectangular room with a high ceiling. The walls were
far from smooth, but there also seemed to be spots lined with the same
type of boulder that made up the archway at the entrance. There was
a pile of rubble in front of him. Mulder panned up again, and he
could almost make out the spot where, ages ago, part of the rock
ceiling had collapsed.

"A quaint fixer-upper," he muttered under his breath.

Studying the floor again, Mulder noted that it was mainly worn rock
and clay. But again, there were a few spots where boulders seemed to
be set in the hard clay, meeting with almost seamless precision.

"The other boy was found over here," came Deputy Fisher's voice from
behind. Mulder started, and then, abashed, turned around to meet the
deputy. Fisher pointed toward the center of the cave. Moving around
the rubble, Mulder noticed more of the boulders set into the clay.

"It's almost a pattern there, isn't it?" the agent said, amazed.
"Like a circle." Indeed, the stones seemed set in a circle about ten
feet across. Mulder walked forward, trying to get a better look at
the floor. But as he knelt down to study the circle in more detail,
his flashlight flickered and went out.

Fisher pointed his own beam in Mulder's direction. "You alright?" he
asked.

"Fine," came the reply. "My light went out, though."

"Happens sometimes," the deputy answered, stepping around the rubble.
"Use mine."

Mulder pointed to the floor in front of him. "I was trying to study
this circle here," he started. Fisher bent down, intent on shedding
some more light on the subject, but as he did so, his own light
flickered and died, leaving the two men in darkness.

"Damn," came Fisher's voice from Mulder's left. "That's the fourth
time, too. Can you backtrack? There should be a little bit of light
toward the entrance."

Mulder tried to force his eyes to adjust, and looking behind him, he
could make out the tunnel where they'd entered. "Yeah, I got it," he
said. Both men carefully picked their way back to the entrance and
emerged from the cave, blinking in the bright sunlight.

"I just put new batteries in this thing," Fisher said, hitting his
flashlight against his hand in an attempt to knock some life into it.
No luck; the beam was completely dead. Mulder's light fared no
better.

"You said that was the fourth time this happened?" the agent asked.

"Mmm-hm," Fisher affirmed. "The Swiftriver girl mentioned her light
going out, and we didn't think much of it. Then the same thing
happened to deputy Marks yesterday. But it wasn't a big deal, because
we mainly just used a track light at the entrance." He eyed the path
in front of them. "Would've brought it this time, but the sucker was
heavy."

Mulder nodded in understanding. "We'll bring it next time," he said.
"I think I've seen enough for today."

**

End (1/4)
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+



The Ley of the Land
By Eve11
2/4

**

Cactus Flats General Hospital, Room 111
1:15 pm


Through the observation window, Scully let her eyes wander from the
chart in her hand to the unconscious occupant of Room 111, and back
to the chart again. It didn't matter how many times she looked. The
results were no less astonishing. The patient was no less a mystery.
In fact, there was absolutely nothing about this boy that made sense.
Being found in a remote cave covered with an unknown gelatinous
material was just the tip of the iceberg.

"Is he awake yet?" Mulder asked, looking through the window at the
child. Scully focused her attention outward again, trying to figure
out how long her partner had been standing beside her.

"Uh, no. Not yet," she said, finally tearing her mind away from the
chart. "However, I did manage to find out quite a bit about him."

Mulder looked at the chart, his untrained eyes seeing only random
scrawls and checks. He couldn't pick up on the specifics, but from
Scully's rapt attention, it was going to be good.

"Lost camper?" he asked innocently.

"Hardly," she replied. "The police department has been doing a check
on missing children in this county and all the surrounding ones. So
far, they've come up with nothing. But that's not the half of it."
She held up the medical chart as though it were a carrot on a string.
"You're going to love this."

She led him down the hallway and out to the main building, then
through a set of swinging doors toward Radiology, talking as she
walked.

"The staff did a CT scan of the patient yesterday morning. They were
looking for signs of swelling or hematoma in the brain, neither of
which were present. But for the most part, the scan was almost
unreadable. The material he was covered in was actually interfering
with the instruments, and they were also having a tough time keeping
him still, despite his semi-conscious state." She stopped at a small
office, removed a few films from an envelope she was holding along
with the chart, and illuminated one on the wall display in the office.
The film showed sixteen small pictures from what Mulder assumed was
the CT scan.

"Here," she said, pointing at what looked to Mulder like a bright
white blob on the film. "No major problems, but it's really hard to
make anything out."

Mulder squinted. "Of course," he said.

Scully continued. "Last night, the duty nurse said he was having what
she thought were some sort of febrile seizures, but he didn't have a
fever, and his vitals were strong and healthy, though they said he
looked malnourished when they brought him in." She put up another
film. "Today, I had them run another CT. As you can see, there's
still a few that didn't come out because of his movement, but all in
all it's much better resolution than the first, and it says a lot."

Mulder studied the equally enigmatic film in front of him. "Like
what?" he prompted.

Scully pointed to a whitish spot at the bottom of one of the blobs.
"See the damage to the basil ganglia here? It actually extends
further out, to other parts of the brain, but when I brought it to the
attending physician's attention, he came to the same conclusion I did.
Especially after looking at the patient, and given the reports last
night, I'd say it's athetosis, and from the rigidity in the leg
muscles, I wouldn't be surprised if he's got spastic diplegia as
well."

"English?" Mulder asked helplessly.

"He's got severe cerebral palsy, most likely from birth."

Mulder stared at the film in front of him, letting that fact sink in
for a few moments.

"It couldn't be a result of recently suffered trauma?" he asked.

"Not given his muscle tone and bone deformities," Scully answered.
"Those develop over time. It's obvious when you look at him. The
only reason no one saw it beforehand was because no one was expecting
it, given where he was found."

Mulder thought back to his trek to the cave that morning. He'd
stumbled more than once, and he was a healthy field agent. "You
don't think he could have walked to the cave," he stated.

Scully's eyes grew slightly wider, and she snapped the film off of
the wall display. "I'll be surprised if he can talk," she said, "let
alone walk. There's no way he could have gotten there on his own."

So much for a lost camper. "So what we should be searching for,"
Mulder said simply, "is a wheelchair without its occupant."

"Makes sense. They didn't come across anything like that at the cave?"

"No, but I'll broaden the search radius. Speaking of the cave,"
Mulder changed the subject, "Deputy Fisher assures me it's 'old as
the hills', and not made by the Navajo, but I'm positive it is
man-made."

Scully didn't look up from the film envelope she was closing.
"Restricting construction to the human race, are we?" she asked.

"Now that you mention it . . ." Mulder retorted, then added seriously,
"Someone must have dropped this boy off here. The question is who,
and why? Did you get a look at the material found on him?"

Scully shook her head no. "Not yet. They've got an expert analyzing
it downstairs. That's my next stop."

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "They've got an expert on gelatinous goo?"
he asked. "In the basement?"

"Biology and biotechnology, actually," Scully corrected. "And the
basement is a lab, not some dungeon. Really, Mulder." She stepped
back into the hallway, still a little too serious for her partner's
tastes. Mulder caught up with her in easy stride, and ventured one
more fact.

"Did I mention the cave drained the batteries of four flashlights?
It just sucked them dry, from what I could tell."

Scully stopped at the stairwell, and sighed.

"Right now, nothing is going to surprise me. Your alien architects
could drop from the sky, right in front of me, and I'd welcome them
with open arms."

With that, she opened the stairway door and headed for the basement.
Mulder watched her descend for a minute, then turned his eyes skyward.

"Well, there went your chance," he implored to whatever beings were
listening. "Honestly, I give and give in this relationship . . . "
He shook his head and headed for the parking lot and Police
Headquarters. He had an empty wheelchair to look for.

**

"It's not a collagen or a suspension, but it's not uniform, either."

Scully peered into the microscope at the translucent gel, then back
at Dr. Lee. "Did you get its molecular makeup?" she asked.

"For the most part," the stout Navajo woman answered, "It's carbon and
silicates. I'm no geologist, but if I had to make a guess, it looks
like the same makeup as the earth's crust, minus the metals. It's
almost the perfect insulator."

Scully thought back to the patient's CT scans. The staff had tried
to get most of the stuff off the boy before the procedure, but it had
still interfered. "Is there anything in its composition that would
explain interference with X-rays?" she asked thoughtfully.

Dr. Lee checked her notes. "There are a few calcium compounds in the
makeup that I haven't seen before. Could be something there that
absorbs X-rays. I sent a sample to the lab in Albequerque; I can ask
them to test for it."

Scully nodded in assent. "I'd like a copy of your report, and your
notes, if you wouldn't mind."

"No problem," Lee answered amicably. "Anything else?"

"Um, yes actually," Scully replied, picking up a petri dish and
scrutinizing the material inside. "Do you have any idea how it was
made? I mean, is it a natural compound?"

Dr. Lee shook her head. "It's like nothing I've ever seen. Like I
said, though, its makeup is definitely terrestrial."

Scully quickly turned her gaze away from the petri dish, meeting the
doctor's statement with a questioning look.

"Well," Lee said, smiling. "I've heard the UFO stories going back and
forth between the staff. Just because I'm down here in the basement
doesn't mean I'm out of the loop. And it's not as far-fetched as
you'd think. You'd be surprised at how much creepy stuff I've run
across in my time."

Scully smiled inwardly at the irony in the woman's statement. "I'll
have to get my partner down here," she said, looking up at the pipes
on the ceiling. "You and he can swap stories." At Dr. Lee's shy
smile, Scully turned her attention back to the substance in her hand.
"So it's carbon and rock," she said. "How did it end up looking like
this?"

Lee shrugged. "Beats me. Some form of molecular breakdown. It might
be something a lab could reproduce, but I've spent the past day and
a half trying to figure out even where to start, and I've come up
with nothing." She paused, staring at the small dish in Scully's
hand, and offered one more conclusion.

"If it's man-made, it's a technology we've since lost."

Before Scully could ruminate further on the implications of Dr. Lee's
statement, there was a quiet rap at the open door. One of the day
nurses, looking out of place in her soft pink scrubs against the
backdrop of the windowless basement hallway, stood in the doorway.

"Our John Doe is awake," she said, leaning on the door. To Scully,
she added, "You said you wanted to be informed."

"How is he doing?" Scully asked.

The nurse gave a sigh. "Scared. Frustrated." She gestured back
toward the main wing. "I'm heading to the Physical Therapy supply
room now, to see if they've got anything like a letter board. He's
trying to talk to us."

**

3:00 pm


Scully could see frustration in the boy's eyes as he slowly and
painstakingly tried to make himself understood. He was trying to
communicate with some form of sign language, but it was simplified
and subtle due to the difficulty he had with movement. If there
were any doubts as to his ability to reach the Growling Cave on his
own, they were put to rest when he awoke. His disabilities were
plainly and painfully evident.

Athetoid cerebral palsy caused spasms and involuntary muscle movement
which left the boy with little control over fine motor action in his
upper body, and which also affected his speech. He could sign, but it
was difficult to tell which gestures were signs and which were a
result of tremors or muscle contractions. Scully also noted that his
legs stayed relatively rigid; a sign that the child suffered from
spastic diplegic cerebral palsy as well. Despite his physical
limitations, though, Scully detected no signs of mental retardation.
His eyes reflected a keen intellect, and though he had initially
reacted with quite natural fear to his unknown surroundings, he had
quickly calmed himself down, and was handling the situation admirably.

She did succeed in asking him a few basic yes or no questions, to
which he answered with either a slight nod or shake of his head. No,
he wasn't in pain. No, he didn't need any medication. Before she
could continue, however, the boy raised his hand slightly, pointing in
her direction, and inclined his head. It took her a minute to
understand; he was asking her name.

"My name is Special Agent Dana Scully," she answered, abashed. She
had been so intently focused on the patient that she had forgotten
about introductions. "I'm with the FBI," she continued. "This," she
pointed to the corner where deputy Fisher had taken an inobtrusive
seat, "is deputy Fisher, and this is Dr. MacDonald," she pointed at
the attending physician. Then, "Do you know where you are?"

A shake of his head. No.

"You're in Cactus Flats General Hospital. You were found in a cave
about an hour north of here." She started to say more, but at that
moment, the door opened. Scully saw nothing but relief in the boy's
eyes as the day nurse appeared with a complete alphabet board tucked
under her arm. The nurse positioned the board on the boy's lap, and
slowly, he spelled out a simple question.

U. S. A. ?.

Scully gave him a questioning glance. "Yes, that's right. You're in
Cactus Flats, New Mexico."

The boy's eyes grew wide, and before Scully could ask another
question, he started spelling.

G. B. Pause. D. O. R. S. E. T.

Scully watched, but was unsure of the meaning. "Is that your name?"
she asked. "G.B. Dorset?"

The boy let out a sigh of frustration and shook his head, then started
spelling again.

R. Y. A . . .

"His name is Ryan Harkness, he's fourteen years old, and he's from
Dorset, Great Britain. He was on a trip to St. Michael's Church in
Land's End when he disappeared."

All heads in the room turned to the door, where Agent Mulder stood
with cellphone and fax in hand. Ryan pointed to Mulder and nodded,
his eyes filling with tears. Mulder approached the bed and spoke
directly to the boy. "Everything's going to be fine, Ryan. Your
parents and sister are on their way. They'll be here in about nine
hours, but we're going to do our best to understand you and answer
all the questions you have between now and then."

Fisher spoke up. "I'm not familiar with Land's End. Never heard of
St. Michael's church, either." Before Mulder could answer, though,
his partner was already peppering him with more direct questions.

"Nine hours? Where are they coming from?" And finally, "How did you
find him?"

Mulder chose to answer the last question first. "I broadened the
search radius a bit," he stated, "and then some more. I kept looking
further, until I found an article in 'The Evening Post'." He held up
the fax, an article with a prominent picture of the lost boy. "Ryan
disappeared from a church in Land's End, _England_ , around four PM
yesterday," he finished.

The room fell into complete silence, like a moment frozen in time.
Only Ryan Harkness moved, tracing his fingers slowly across the board,
bringing silent light to the question on everyone's mind.

H. O. W. ?.

Mulder shrugged, breaking the spell, and gave the boy a tired smile.
"Well, we're, um, not too sure about that one yet. Deputy Fisher can
tell you more, if you're up to it."

Ryan gave a nod, and also made a quick sign with his left hand.

"I guess that's a 'yes'" Scully said. As Fisher moved closer to the
boy, Scully captured her partner's attention. "Can I talk with you
outside?" she said, ushering him into the hallway. Once there, she
studied the fax he'd brandished in the room, searching for something
specific.

Finally, "This can't be right," she said, pointing to the time.
"Greenwich Mean Time is, what, five hours ahead of us? He can't
have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in two hours."

"Actually, you're still thinking on DC time," Mulder said. "Cactus
Flats is seven hours behind London. And Scotland Yard double-checked
it for me. He disappeared out of his wheelchair, and out of an
enclosed chapel room, right around four P.M."

"Which means . . . " Scully started.

"Which means," her partner finished, "he traveled across the Atlantic
Ocean, not in two hours, but more like two minutes."

**

Office of the Lone Gunmen
Washington, DC
1:30 pm (EST)

"Lone Gunmen."

"Turn off the tape, Langly, it's me."

Langly stretched his legs out to rest on the desk in front of him.
"So tell me Mulder, when did you get the idea you were immune from the
tape anyway?" he said in mock seriousness. "I mean, you're a G-man,
the establishment, the enemy. You've got the secrets, you know the
real story. You know . . ."

"I know what really happened to Frohike's tape archive last month.
Mice, ha, that was a good one . . . "

"Jeez! Okay, okay, it's off," Langly hissed, then whispered, "Don't
talk so loud, the man's got elephant ears."

"What about Britney Spears?" Frohike asked from the other room.

"Nothing, nothing," Langly yelled back, then focused his attention on
his phone conversation again. "So, what's up?"

"I want to know about Land's End, England. Specifically a St.
Michael's Church or a St. Michael's Mount."

"St. Michael's Mount," Langly repeated. "Doesn't ring a bell. . .
wait, Byers is making goo-goo eyes at me across the table." He put
the phone down. "What?"

"St. Michael's Mount? In England?" Byers was practically jumping out
of his seat.

Langly took up the phone again. "Looks like we have a winner," he
said to Mulder, then tossed the phone to Byers. "Okay, it's your
show."

Byers, ever the straight man, started lecturing as soon as he touched
the receiver. "St. Michael's Mount, Mulder. It's the western end of
one of the most prominent and famous ley lines in England, all
prehistoric sites dedicated to serpent killers -- St. Michael, St.
George, St. Margaret, those types. What? No, L - E - Y, and get your
mind out of the gutter. This is deep stuff, Mulder. It's all about
pre-history, the lost civilization. Atlantis, Stonehenge, the Ark of
the Covenant. Harnessing the earth's natural energy . . . yeah,"
Byers cradled the phone against his shoulder and started typing on his
laptop. "Yeah, okay, I'll give you some references . . . "

**

Cactus Flats Police HQ
8:00 pm


"Ley lines?" Scully echoed. Given the amount of books and maps her
partner had in his hands from four hours at the library, any question
was just inviting a lecture, but Scully was prepared. Mulder set his
references down on the table, and began unrolling maps, talking in his
usual understated monotone as he did so.

"In 1921 an English merchant named Alfred Watkins made a startling
discovery about his native countryside in Hereford. Watkins was atop
a hill, checking his map when suddenly he saw a web of lines linking
holy places and sites of antiquity within his view. These lines
connected mounds, old stones, old crossroads, churches placed on
pre-Christian sites, legendary trees, moats and wells in exact
alignments that ran over beacon hills to cairns to mountain peaks.
Watkins called these tracks 'leys' after noting an abundance of towns
along the alignments with that name."

Mulder unrolled a small map of southern England and Wales, and pointed
out about twelve different straight-line tracks traced across the
countryside in pen. "The lines could continue uninterrupted for miles,
usually ending on a mountain peak or high hill," he added. "It wasn't
really a new discovery. There are parallels in China, the South
Pacific, Australia, and North and South America."

"So they were old roads? Trade routes?" Scully asked.

"Possibly," Mulder answered. "Watkins thought so. But he was
extremely wary of the occult; he didn't ever speculate further about
the existence of leys beyond their use as trade routes. He didn't
want to incur the wrath of God." Mulder gestured toward Scully's
Cactus Flats files, as if stating an example.

"Smart guy," Scully quipped.

"Well, all lightning bolts aside, others have theorized that ley
lines are a holdover from much earlier times, that they indeed are
maps of elemental power lines inherent to the earth. Their layouts
are usually in accordance with what numerologists refer to as
'precessional numbers,' numbers reflecting an extremely precise
knowledge of the cosmos, and it's speculated that they also map
resonance points in energy pockets created by the earth's magnetic
field." He paused, noting Scully's skeptical stance.

"Such ideas are even evident in the Old Testament," he added, trying
to spark her interest. "Most notably in tales of the Ark of the
Covenant, which brought such ills to the Philistines that they wanted
only to be rid of it. They set it on a cart drawn by oxen and left
the beasts to find their own way back to the Iseraelites. But," he
checked a scrawled note and fished out a book from the middle of his
stack, "the oxen started humming, then set off in a straight line
across the desert, ending at a standing stone marker on the border.
As if," he glanced at Scully again, trying to gauge her receptiveness
to further information. She had uncrossed her arms and was looking at
the small library he'd amassed in his research, which he took as a
good sign.

"As if," he continued, "the Ark itself drew power from the straight
path, and guided them. Stories like this one have many researchers
convinced that the secret to leys, the pyramids, Stonehenge, and
other seemingly miraculous ancient sites, lies in a universal,
elemental science, a type of technology known to the ancient world,
but which has since been lost as civilization drifted from harmonious
coexistence with nature toward the more destructive tendencies that
categorize modern scientific discoveries . . ."

He had enough breath for at least another sentence, but Mulder trailed
off. Something he said had caught his partner's attention. During
his speech, she had looked up sharply from her perusal of his sources,
to focus more intently on the stream of information he was sending her
way. Then, almost as an afterthought, she had gone back to staring
at the books.

Scully looked up again, confused at his silence. "What? I was paying
attention, I swear."

"No, I know," he answered. "What did I say? You started at it. You
looked up." It was like pulling teeth to get her to admit to any
possible paranormal slant, or to lend credence to his research when
he was in lecture mode. He figured it was nothing personal; she was
just trying to maintain an objective, scientific mind when his was
most open. He didn't begrudge her that, but he still wanted to know
what had sparked her curiosity.

Now was no different. "Nothing," she said, then changed the subject.
"As much as I'd enjoy a discussion on the merits of futurism, Mulder
. . ." she started, but he wouldn't let it go so easily.

"No really, I want to know," he interrupted. "Something about
elemental earth science?" he asked, keying in on her deflection.

She sighed in defeat, like a child caught with her hand in the cookie
jar. "Something Dr. Lee said to me today, about the material found on
Ryan Harkness," she said, looking him in the eye. "I asked her if it
was man-made and she said if it was, then 'it's a technology we've
since lost.' Those were her exact words. I guess I wasn't expecting
to hear almost the same statement from you."

He knew why she had tried to cover it up; it was nothing more than a
creepy feeling and a weird coincidence. No evidence. No proof.
"Kind of gives you the chills, doesn't it?" he asked.

His partner didn't answer; she only looked away for a brief moment.
Then, she traced her finger along one of the leys on the map, and
ventured a question. "So what does all of this have to do with Ryan
Harkness' disappearance, Mulder? The boy suffered missing time,
not . . . "

She trailed off, noting her partner's incredulous look. "Well, he
must have suffered some sort of time lapse," Scully added, growing
defensive. "In order to travel as far as he did." Still, Mulder said
nothing. Scully gave a sigh of exasperation. "What I mean," she
clarified, "is that I thought you were following up an abduction lead,
and you come back here with pre-history instead. What does it have to
do with alien abductions?"

Mulder smiled, happy for once to be on the receiving end of a verbal
retreat, and then decided to come to the rescue. "Not much unless you
believe Erich Von Daniken and the whole 'Chariots of the Gods' saga,"
he answered. "Not that I'm saying I don't, I'm just saying that right
now, I'm not convinced we're dealing with alien abductions anymore.
And I'm not sure Ryan Harkness suffered from missing time, in the
sense that we know it."

Scully threw up her hands. "I can't win," she complained.

"You'd think I set that up," Mulder teased. Scully gave him a warning
look, and he turned his attention to the map. "But, I think there
are more elemental forces at work here. Look," he pointed to one
ley, extending southwest from an area north of London down to the
southernmost tip of the peninsula separating the Bristol and English
Channels. At the tip, he remarked, "Here's Land's End, where Ryan
Harkness disappeared. You'll notice it's at the end of quite an
extensive ley."

"I noticed that," his partner replied coolly.

"This ley is also known in lore as the Serpent Road. Most of the
sites I've circled here are dedicated to dragon killers. St. Michael.
St. George. St. Margaret. The others, like the Avebury rocks here,"
he pointed much further north on the line, "while not dedicated to the
serpent killers, do have an insignia in common. In Avebury, it was
built into the landscape in megalithic style, a monument of huge
stones that ran for miles."

"What's the insignia?" Scully asked.

Mulder searched through a stack of maps and papers, finally
withdrawing a small sheet of white paper from the pile. "This," he
said proudly. On the paper was pictured a snake passing through a
winged circle. "A feathered serpent," he added. "This particular
image," he gave the paper a shake, "is actually ancient Egyptian in
origin. But, it's painted across the British countryside in stone,
it shows up along the edges of Mayan temples, it shows up in ancient
Chinese stories, and," he saved the best for last, "I'm almost
positive it's built into the floor of the Growling Cave, Cactus
Flats, New Mexico."

Scully studied the picture, trying not to let her partner's excitement
color her judgement. "You saw it?"

"Before the circle sucked the life out of my flashlight batteries,
yes."

Scully crossed her arms again. "So, just so we're square with this,
we're not dealing with alien abductions anymore. Instead, a severely
handicapped boy somehow got himself . . . transported . . . across
the ocean using elemental Atlantian powers -- ancient terrestrial
powers that may or may not have alien origins."

"Oooh, can I quote that in the report?"

"No. You know, I read Von Daniken back in med school."

"Scully, you're turning me on."

"It was a particularly hellish finals week, and a friend recommended
it as evidence that there were people out there crazier than those of
us taking Physiology and two O-chem labs at the same time."

Mulder smirked, then stood up from the table, gathering books and
papers. "Still counts."

Scully gave a sigh, and started helping her partner gather up his
research materials. Mulder was already back down to business,
focusing on the case at hand.

"Tomorrow," he started, "I want to talk with Ryan Harkness again,
see if he saw a similar serpent insignia in the chapel. Then we
can get Deputy Fisher to take us back out to the cave to be sure."

**

End (2/4)
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+



The Ley of the Land
By Eve11
3/4

**

Cactus Flats General Hospital, Rm 111
April 16, 2000
8:32 am


Ryan scrutinized the drawing in front of him for a few minutes, then
started signing.

"Yes, I think that was it. I didn't see very much of it, and it was
at quite an angle. I tried to get a closer look -- I moved forward,
and then the room started humming. There was this amazing explosion,
I fell, and that's all I remember before waking up and talking to your
partner."

Mulder turned his attention to the teenaged girl at Ryan's bedside.
Clarissa Harkness and her parents had arrived during the night.
Mulder tried to pick up what the girl saw in her brother's silent
language, but it was nearly impossible. In her shy, feminine voice,
tinged with a lilting British accent, Clarissa gave every one of her
brother's subtle signs a different meaning, a different nuance, even
in her tone of voice. At a casual glance, one might think the girl
was practicing mental telepathy.

The boy's parents, exhausted from their flight, were sleeping in one
of the nurse's stations. But Clarissa had refused to leave her
brother's side.

"What about you, Clarissa?" Mulder asked. "Do you remember seeing
anything on the floor of the chapel?"

The girl shook her head, and answered in her own voice this time.
"I really couldn't see past the empty wheelchair. If you could
imagine . . ." she had to blink back tears, "I'd just lost my brother.
He was gone . . . disappeared, right in front of me . . . " She
trailed off, giving her brother's hand a squeeze.

Mulder let out a heavy sigh, trying to focus on the girl in front
of him instead of a shadow of his own past. Ryan signed something
that made his sister laugh, a short, fluttering sound that was more
like nervous relief, and Mulder broke eye contact for a second,
focusing his gaze on the ceiling.

"Only if you're lucky," Clarissa teased, smiling at her brother
through her tears.

There was the slightest touch on his hand as Scully stepped forward
from where she had been leaning in the doorway. She was giving
him a moment to focus again. He didn't need much time, but it was
a help, and rather than snapping at her or giving her the all-
encompassing 'I'm fine' glance, he just let her take over.

"Clarissa," Scully started. "Can you tell us what you do remember?"

The girl took a few deep breaths. Then, "He was trying to get out
of a tour . . . don't give me that look, Ryan, I know when you're
being sly . . . So when the guide mentioned the chapel, Ryan told me
he'd like to see it. Well, the woman was not the most interesting
person in the world, so I supposed I'd humor him and take him up to
the chapel, in spite of the steps."

At Mulder's glance, Scully ventured a question. "There were
steps?"

Clarissa nodded. "Five or six. It was a tight fit, but I'm
stronger than I look." She gave them a shy smile.

"Did any of the other students go to the chapel?" Scully asked.

Ryan signed something, and his sister translated with only a
glance. "No, just me. Nobody else . . . it was an old building,
not accessible at all. it was a trial simply getting all of us in
the door."

Clarissa finished her tale; Mulder noted that she also saw some
sort of lightning when she was in the hallway, as well as hearing
a heavy, concussive boom, 'like a fireworks rocket going off.'
When she looked in the room, her brother was gone.

After hearing both Clarissa and Ryan's stories, the agents thanked
the Harkness children for their time, and turned to leave. Scully
exited to the hallway, but Clarissa stopped Mulder before he could
leave.

"Thank you so much for finding him, Agent Mulder," she added.
"Thank everyone here for me for taking care of him. I . . . I
don't think I could've forgiven myself if something happened to
him, not when I took him there."

Mulder met her gaze and saw an all too familiar pain behind it.

"No matter what the outcome, Clarissa, it wasn't your fault,"
he said, maybe a little more tenderly than he would have liked.
He tried to think of a reason that both he and the girl could
believe, something that wouldn't turn his stomach like the
too-sweet, over-compensating platitudes he'd heard his entire
life. When he finally sorted it out, he even found a part of
his own spirit lifting, as though he'd never realized it
before.

"You got caught up in something that the whole world is still
trying to explain, and maybe they never will," he said. "Blaming
yourself is just too simple of a solution."

**

Growling Cave
11:45 am


The path was narrow enough that, at times, the three investigators had
to travel in single file -- Fisher in the lead, followed by Scully,
with Mulder taking up the rear. As the cave came into view, however,
the trail widened, and Mulder drew alongside his partner.

"So, Scully, how much do you remember from your undergraduate
days at Maryland?"

Scully picked her way around some loose rocks in her path, then
stopped to catch her breath, meeting her partner's glance with
tired eyes.

"You want me to try and explain the physics behind an elemental
power conduit?" she asked.

Mulder raised an eyebrow expectantly.

"Do you even know the amount of energy we're talking about here,
Mulder?"

"Not at all," Mulder answered, offering her a helping hand around
a large boulder. "Care to enlighten me?'

"Believe it or not, I was actually thinking about something you
mentioned last night," Scully said nonchalantly. "Science in
harmony with the earth and that. You know the earth has a molten
core, right?"

"Yeah, I think I learned that back in tenth grade," Mulder mused.

"Well," Scully remarked as they neared the entrance, "The earth
exerts a force on this molten rock as it rotates around it,
disturbing it. Hence, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the magnetic
field," she waved an arm about her, as though this were the most
obvious observation.

"How does that explain anything?" Mulder asked.

"It's a matter of finding the energy to power your conduit," Scully
explained. "Millions of tons of spinning molten rock is quite
a dynamic energy source. If you could harness that . . . "

"You'd have no problem rocketing someone across the ocean?"

Scully held up a hand. "I'm not saying that's what happened. I'm just
saying that if the technology existed, it would probably be able to
provide the energy levels you would need." She let out a sigh. "Other
than that, I'm not sure what kind of technology could do it."

Mulder shot her a grin. "Aliens versus Atlantians, Scully. Did our
benefactors come from the vast empty reaches of space, or is it more
probable that here on earth, where we know intelligent life has been
developing for thousands of years, a civilization could have been
born, thrived and died in the distant past, leaving us nothing but a
few structures and hints of its technology in age-old legends of
magic?"

"Sounds like 'Planet of the Apes,'" Scully countered. "Move over,
Cornelius and Zira."

"I don't know. I always pictured myself as more of the 'Charleton-
Heston-in-ratty-loincloth' type."

Scully smiled, then took on an air of mock indignation. "Mulder!
That casts me as the mute!"

"You said it, Scully, not me. . ." he anwered as they reached the
mouth of the cave. Scully merely shook her head and let the subject
drop as her companions unloaded their gear.

Deputy Fisher had brought a large track light for placement at the
entrance to the cave's main room. Mulder had brought his own share of
equipment as well. Packed into a medium-sized duffel bag were two
cameras, a voltmeter, a flashlight with extra batteries, and, if that
weren't enough, he was also lugging along a rather large and heavy
car battery. Scully eyed the bag with skepticism, but she kept any
comments to herself. Mulder handed her a camera, and the three of
them studied the entrance before them.

"Shame the Harkness boy couldn't come with us," Fisher remarked,
setting the light on the ground. "He's probably got a better idea
about what's going on than we do."

Mulder nodded in understanding. Fisher had talked at length with Ryan
the night before. For the most part, Ryan had to use the alphabet
board, but he was still able to ask pertinent questions and pose his
own theories as to the technology behind his miraculous journey. The
deputy had been duly impressed, and surprised. It wasn't until after
Clarissa's arrival that Ryan could talk in detail about his passion
for physics and space travel.

Mulder gestured to the mouth of the cave, silently offering his help
with the light. Fisher accepted, and the two men made their way into
the cave, while Scully stayed behind to take a few pictures of the
arch at the entrance.

"We'll just have to document everything thoroughly," Mulder stated as
the two men disappeared into the shadows. A few minutes later, Mulder
called to his partner. Scully lowered the camera and made her way
into the cave, to find her partner and the deputy standing in front
of a well-lit, circular design built into the rocks on the floor.

"Feathered serpent, Scully, just like I told you," Mulder
stated. He moved toward the circle, brandishing the voltmeter.
Scully watched as he set the leads on either side of the circle,
one at the serpent's head and one at the tail. The needle jumped
to life, springing immediately to the maximum reading on the
meter. At Scully's request, Mulder handed her the meter.

"Quite a potential," Scully remarked, standing up. "Deputy, take a
look at this. . ." she said, and started to hand the meter across the
circle to Fisher.

"Scully, don't. . ." Mulder started, but it was too late. As
soon as the voltmeter passed the boundary of the circle, the
needle died as quickly as it had come to life.

"If that ain't the strangest thing," Fisher remarked, staring at
the dead meter, but Mulder cut him off. The agent held up a hand,
seemingly concentrating on the air around him. Finally, he spoke.

"What's that noise?" he whispered.

The cave grew silent as the three investigators froze. Then, Scully
heard it as well. A low humming noise, faint at first, but getting
louder.

"Scully, back up from the circle," Mulder warned quietly. "Everyone
back away."

The hum grew still louder.

"Mulder?" Scully asked expectantly, but she couldn't hide the fear
behind her voice. The hum was gaining intensity, and she had
no idea what it was or how to stop it.

There was a breath of still silence, and then Mulder suddenly sprang
up like a statue coming to life. "It's coming from outside," he said
quickly, already on his way out.

Scully followed close behind, but not without giving the circle in
front of her a wide berth. As they neared the mouth of the cave,
the humming grew still louder, and it took on a pulsing beat. The
air outside the cave was violently disturbed; the wind picked up
red dust and small plants, flinging them around to the pulse in
the air. Mulder shaded his eyes and looked up. He tried to
say something to his partner, but the noise swallowed his words.
Instead, he simply pointed.

Trying to keep her hair from whipping around her head, Scully
looked up, already knowing what she was going to see. By the
time Fisher made it out of the cave, the green helicopter was
at eye level, landing on a flat strip about a hundred feet from
the three incredulous investigators.

As the copter blade powered down, Scully made her way over to
her partner's side.

"Who called in the cavalry?" she demanded.

Mulder shook his head. "More like infantry," he said sarcastically,
watching as armed, fatigue-clad soldiers exited the transport.
He turned around, intent on going back into the cave, but stopped
when he heard the telltale clicks of about ten automatic weapons
being aimed his way.

"Nobody move! Hands in the air where I can see them!"

Both agents raised their hands in mute frustration.

**

Cactus Flats Reservation
Municipal/Tribal HQ
2:30 pm


"Kirtland Air Force Base is a hundred miles away from here!" Mulder
raged. "You can't expect us to believe you're running training
excercises. This is private property, and we've got every right
to continue our investigation!" It was bad enough that the three
of them were marched from the cave at gunpoint. Then, the Air
Force had the gall to hide the whole damn operation behind the
lousiest, most inconceivable excuse possible, as if to flaunt it
in the FBI's face.

Major Reynolds just stood calmly in the doorway, weathering the
agent's tirade with an air of bored resentment.

While Scully tried to decipher the legal documents they had been
given upon their arrival at the reservation, Mulder paced the room,
seething. He had spent half an hour trying to get under the skin
of the CO, and then had been relegated back to the waiting area
for all his efforts, with no more information than the ridiculous
'training excercises.' Now, he was working on the unsuspecting
major standing guard.

"Mulder," Scully offered from the corner, staring in disbelief
at a piece of paper in her hand. "The investigation's been
classified. Read the fine print. They're taking it right out
from under us."

Mulder accosted the major once again. "We both know what's going
on here, Major. This smokescreen is an insult to the intelligence
of everyone in this room."

"The only insult," Reynolds shot back, "is that I have to stand
here listening to this instead of knocking you unconscious and
sending both of you back to DC where you belong."

"What kind of training excercises are these, Major?" Mulder
impugned. "Are you learning how to rob the Navajo of more land?"

"Oh, like the FBI should talk," Reynolds shot back.

"Then what? Sending up weather balloons? Roswell's pretty
close to here. . ."

"Roswell is bullshit," the major answered.

"Well, I'll tell you what," Mulder said with a low intensity.
"Whatever is in that cave makes Roswell look like a cake walk."

It was the subtlest of signs. Reynolds' bravado faltered for
just a split second, but Mulder was trained to pick up subtle
signs.

"Are you going to tell me your training excercises have nothing
to do with the Growling Cave?" the agent asked.

Reynolds set his jaw. "It's classified," he said through gritted
teeth.

"It's classified," Mulder echoed, "because the military is scared
to death. They've got no idea what's going on here either, and
it's going to burn them, what with the Air Force's exalted history
of 'intelligence'. What do you think, Agent Scully?"

Scully usually let her partner make his own rash mistakes. She
was supposed to stay the calm, collected, and unthreatening
partner. But an hour of staring at trumped-up legal documents
had brought out some of her fire. Still, she played it straight
and calm.

"I'd have to concur," she answered without looking up.

"They might as well be poking around a mine field with sharp sticks,"
Mulder added. Then, "You remember what the legend says, don't you
Scully?"

Scully gave a nonchalant "Mmm-hmm," at the same time Reynolds
spoke.

"This conversation is over, agents."

"Beware, ye of faint heart," Mulder said as Reynolds turned away
and walked into the hallway.

"Take one step out here, Agent Mulder," Reynolds called as he
exited the doorway, "and I'll shoot you without a second
thought."

Mulder shot Scully a grin that silently claimed victory, then
walked over to examine the document she'd flashed at him.
Not only was Cactus Flats being turned over to the Air Force,
but the church at Land's End was also falling under military
jurisdiction.

Mulder slammed the paper onto the table in disgust.

"This isn't over, Scully," he said.

His partner sighed, then took the document off of the table, trying
again to decipher the text. "I'm willing to entertain suggestions,"
she offered, only half kidding. She anticipated Mulder's move, so it
didn't surprise her when he took the paper from her hand, crumpled it
up, and threw it in the corner.

"How were the pyramids made?" he started, pacing the room. "How
was Stonehenge built? Why do feathered serpents show up in ancient
sites as far apart as Thailand and Peru -- how could the world have
global themes before it was even possible for humans to traverse the
continents?" He stopped, taking in the scene around him again, then
gestured vaguely in the direction of the reservation cliffs. "That
cave could explain global mysteries from Atlantis to the Anasazi, and
I'm not going to let some pig-headed, paranoid military brass sweep
it under the rug with the rest of what they don't understand!"

"Speaking of pig-headed paranoia," came a voice from the corridor.
Mulder and Scully looked up to see the CO, Colonel Chaney,
standing in the doorway. "You're to leave Cactus Flats as soon
as possible, Agent Mulder." Mulder saw Reynolds smirking in the
background as the Colonel continued. "Your investigation is over,
and your presence here is no longer required or appreciated."

Mulder and Scully simply stared at the officer, not moving, not
speaking a word.

"Well, agents?" Chaney asked after a minute.

Scully shot her partner a quick glance, then gave the answer
both partners were thinking.

"We're waiting for the other shoe to drop, _sir_," she said icily.

"I assure you, agents, it just did," Chaney answered, stating the
obvious. "There is no end game here. Reynolds will escort you
back to the town to gather your things."

Scully tried to remain calm as she gathered up the papers on the
table in front of her. Mulder looked up to the ceiling, trying
to contain his own anger. He brought his hands to his forehead
and closed his eyes. He took two deep breaths.

"Let's go, Agents," Reynolds goaded them from the doorway. But
Mulder had grown eerily calm. He was not to be baited. As though
set in a course of action, he suddenly decided to move, grabbing
his now empty duffel bag from the table.

Scully watched with a patient eye, raising her eyebrow in a silent
question. Reynolds was already half-way down the hall; he wouldn't
have heard even if she'd spoken aloud, but it wasn't necessary.
Mulder understood.

"There's always an end game," he told her before walking out the
door.

**


Cactus Flats General Hospital
4:30 pm


Scully had convinced Reynolds to stop at the hospital, on account
of the fact that their flight from Albequerque wasn't until 10pm,
and she had some insurance forms to fill out from her CT scan
requests. It was a flimsy plan, something to buy time -- maybe
a few more minutes of snooping behind their military escort's
back, but it was all they had at the moment.

It didn't give much, though, and Reynolds was no fool. They were
not to split up; Mulder would wait at the desk with Reynolds while
Scully filled out the forms. And they were not to talk to anyone
about the investigation.

"Anyone involved with this case has already been warned about
that," the major added. "So don't try anything."

Apparently, that warning already reached the ears of the Harkness
family. As Scully plodded away on the insurance forms as slowly
as she could, Ryan, Clarissa, and their parents came through
the swinging doors from the eastern ell. The family had reunited
Ryan with his wheelchair, but instead of using the motor, Clarissa
simply pushed him along. He looked exhausted. Mulder was sure Ryan's
military debriefing had been a long and ardorous process.

Clarissa gave Mulder a half-hearted wave, and she and Ryan
approached the desk. Reynolds gave them a glare; though he
had not participated in the debriefing, Mulder was sure the
major knew of the British family and the disabled child.

"Ryan just wants to say goodbye, and thank you," Clarissa said
casually as she set the brake on the chair.

Reynolds took one look at the boy in the wheelchair, and then
gave a dismissing wave. "He knows not to talk about anything
he saw, doesn't he?" the major asked.

Clarissa gave a nod. Ryan put up a hand, and started signing,
slowly.

"Thanks. for . . . charging . . . to my. rescue. at the . . .
cave . . . " Clarissa translated haltingly. Reynolds gave them a
warning look, but Clarissa just shrugged. "Often, you have tell him
more than once before he understands," she said simply. "He just
wants to thank them."

Mulder wondered what was wrong. She had spoken so fluently for
him before. Then, Ryan accented his sister's plea with a
grunt, and Mulder finally realized that it got the desired
response. Reynolds turned away, suddenly focusing uncomfortably
on Scully's papers instead of the painfully disabled child in front
of him.

Mulder's eyes widened, and he saw an answering twinkle in the boy's
gaze. Mulder knew enough of the ASL alphabet to subtly sign Ryan a
message.

S.L.Y. . .

Ryan smiled and started signing again, and Mulder couldn't help but
remember his conversation with Fisher at the cave that morning. What
had Ryan picked up on that the rest of them had missed? Mulder suddenly
found himself concentrating on Ryan's gestures, trying to divine the
child's message.

"I. wish I. had the. capacity. to visit. longer," Clarissa started.
And Mulder knew the words to focus on. There were a few words that
Ryan took the time to spell out, letter for letter on his board, with
a trembling hand. And so far, some of them were not quite the words
Clarissa so painstakingly translated.

"But, who knows? Maybe. we. will. meet again. one. day."

"Maybe," Mulder said smiling genuinely. "Look me up the next time
you're in the colonies."

"I. look. forward. to the. trip. Another. time. perhaps?"

Mulder reached out and took the boy's hand, giving it a firm
shake. "Perhaps," he echoed. "I look forward to it as well."

Ryan's face lit up, and he reverted back to shorthand.

"Take care," Clarissa translated effortlessly, then released her
brother's brake. Ryan took a moment to give a halting wave, and
then both children joined their parents for the trip home.

Reynolds watched the children depart, oblivious. Scully had picked
up on something, though, and she finished her paperwork with a sigh,
handing the triplicate forms over to the duty nurse.

As they exited the hospital, Mulder caught Scully's attention
with a slight glance. As Reynolds escorted them to the car,
Mulder leaned toward his partner. His terse murmur couldn't hide
the determination behind the words.

"We're not getting on that plane, Scully."

**

Albequerque International Airport
Gate 25B
9:46 pm


"Mulder?"

"What?"

Scully pointed ahead of her to the jetway. "If you hadn't
noticed, we're getting on the plane."

"Not if I can help it," her partner answered under his breath.

"You've got about sixty feet to make your move," Scully answered
as they entered the jetway. She turned around, noting Major
Reynolds' position at the front of the gate. Air Force or
no, the flight attendants had refused to let him past the
small terminal desk. Reynolds mouthed a silent 'bon voyage,'
then disappeared from view as the two agents turned a corner
on the jetway.

Scully was still looking behind her when Mulder took her arm
and whispered, "Thought we'd never ditch that Major Major. Time
to make our move." Then, she was being pulled to the left, over
a small red velvet rope barrier, and up a slight, curving slope.
It was only then that she noticed the jetway veered off in two
directions. Built to service both small and large aircraft, it
had two walks. The higher walk, for larger planes, was not in use,
and only held a few airport wheelchairs.

"And what a move it was," Scully remarked as she and Mulder
crouched ignominiously behind the chairs. "I'm impressed."

Mulder answered in a flat monotone. "I spent the weekend building
up my stealth points." He glanced around at the extra tunnel, and
added, "That, and my serendipity."

After a few tense minutes, there was a rumble, and a jolt as the plane
backed away from the jetway. The two agents waited for a safe amount
of time before moving again, then simply backtracked their steps,
heading for the car rental stations. Reynolds was nowhere in sight.

One half hour and one short telephone call later, Mulder and Scully
were in a rental Taurus, ready to make the two-hour trip back to
Cactus Flats. Before starting the engine, Mulder handed his partner
a small slip of paper, on which was written six words.

charging. cave. capacitor. one-way. trip. another.

"See if you can make heads or tails of that," he said with a
sigh. "So we know what we're looking for when we get there."

**

End (3/4)


+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+



The Ley of the Land
By Eve11
4/4

**

Cactus Flats Public Library
April 17, 2000
12:40 am


Deputy Fisher shook his head as Mulder and Scully emerged from an
alley beside the library.

"I don't know why I'm doing this," he said. "Shadowy meetings against
military orders . . . I don't usually just break the law like this."
He tried to come up with a tangible reason for offering his help, but
settled for a simple, "Consider yourselves lucky."

Mulder gave the deputy a firm handshake. "I'm glad you changed your
M.O.," he quipped. "Can we get inside?"

Fisher nodded and led the two agents up the stairs. He unlocked the
door, and the three of them ventured into the dim building. Mulder
headed straight for the reference desk, and started pulling up local
maps and atlases.

"It's got to be here somewhere," Mulder murmured under his breath.

Fisher caught Scully's attention and drew her aside. "What's going
on?" he asked. "What are you looking for?"

Scully withdrew Ryan Harkness' message from her pocket, and handed
the paper to the deputy.

"Ryan pointed us in the right direction," Scully answered. "We
debated about it in the car, and after agreeing on what his message
means and extrapolating, we thought it was definitely worth a
second look."

Fisher scrutinized the paper, trying to divine what the agents
had deduced.

"What's the story?" he finally asked.

"I don't know if you know how a capacitor works," Scully said,
pointing to the third word in the list. "It was our first clue."
At Fisher's blank stare, she ventured an explanation.

"In a circuit, a capacitor stores energy. There are two components;
a charging component, and a release. When the circuit is on 'charge,'
the capacitor draws energy from a battery and stores it. Opening the
circuit will stop the current from flowing, but the potential energy
in the capacitor is still present. Closing the second switch, the
'release' switch, will cause the capacitor to discharge, releasing
its energy."

Fisher scratched his head. Behind him, Mulder gave a soft curse.
"I can't find anything on the map," he said, standing up from the
table.

"Here, let me try," Scully said, sitting down.

"But what's that all got to do with the cave?" Fisher asked.

Mulder exchanged glances with his partner, and took up the
explanation.

"I don't think we'll ever know how long the chapel in Land's End
was powered up," he started. "It was only opened to visitors last
year. Ryan's wheelchair must have been the first thing in there with
a strong enough electromagnetic field to flip the 'release' switch.
When he crossed the circle, it closed the circuit, the capacitor
discharged, and the mechanism transported him across the ocean like
a giant slingshot, depositing him here in the cave at Cactus Flats."

"But, the flashlights," Fisher countered. "They didn't set off any
'mechanism' in the Growling Cave. Why not?"

"Because we're on the wrong side of the gate," Mulder answered.
"Closing the circuit in Land's End discharges the mechanism.
Closing it in Cactus Flats charges the capacitor." Mulder
gave a sigh. "And since we have no idea how the Atlantians
charged the thing, I'd say it's got to eat about another twenty
million batteries before it'll work again." He gave a short
laugh before concluding, "The Air Force is in for a long wait."

"Wait a minute," Fisher said, staring at the paper. "Ryan
said this thing is a one-way trip. You called it a slingshot."

Scully spoke up from the desk, where she had been following
the conversation. "That's most likely a result of the earth's
rotation. You have to go against the flow."

Fisher stared at the last word on the paper for a long minute
before he finally understood.

"There's another gate," he said simply.

"Arrivals versus departures," Mulder answered. Then he pointed
back to the maps. "Now it's just a matter of finding . . . "

He stopped short as his eyes fell on a large globe in the corner
of the reference room.

"Scully, we're being stupid," he said. His partner looked up
from where she had been scrutinizing a local area map of the
reservation. Mulder pointed at the globe. Beside it was a
small jar full of stick pins, and a few lengths of string for
marking distances. Mulder grabbed some pins and one string.

"We already know where the gate is going to be," he said.
Starting in southern England, Mulder secured the string in a
straight line extending from just north of London through
to Land's End. Across the Atlantic Ocean.

Across the northeastern United States.

Across the midwest.

Right through the Cactus Flats Reservation and points southwest.

Mulder traced a finger along the string, then stood up
triumphantly.

"Looks like we just need to follow the ley of the land."

**

Cactus Flats Reservation
5:20 am


It took them two hours to skirt the mobile army camp surrounding
the Growling Cave. They had cover of darkness for most of it, but
there were a few times they had to lie low to avoid a patrol.

Though the morning light made the two agents more conspicuous, it
also allowed them to search the landscape. A few more precise
measurements at the library had given them the direction they needed
to follow. Mulder cradled a small compass in his hand, and he and
Scully oriented themselves as close to 38 degrees south of west as
they could manage.

Scully shifted the weight of her backpack. It wasn't heavy; she
carried only some hastily gathered food, a canteen, and an industrial
sized flashlight. But the backpack, on loan from Deputy Fisher, was
too large. The flashlight kept grinding into her spine. Mulder's
was heavier; it held another voltmeter, replacing the one that had
been confiscated earlier, and a bulky old video camera pilfered from
the library's meager store, but at least it seemed to rest
comfortably between his shoulders.

She dug a fist into the small of her back, and tried to focus
on the terrain in front of her. "What exactly should I look for?"
she asked.

"Watkins called it 'the old straight track," her partner answered,
suppressing a yawn. "Paths, or large stone markers, maybe lining
up with a cliff peak. We'll know it when we see it."

The landscape in front of them was red, dry desert. Hard-packed
clay gave way to large boulders and a few stunted trees. Rocky
cliffs jutted up from the desert floor; in some places it looked
like a violent collision, and in others, the rock looked as though
it had been chiseled away with fine precision. Mulder and Scully
were at the foot of the reservation cliffs that housed the
Growling Cave. Their position offered them a bit of high ground,
but both agents were still having trouble locating anything that
looked like a ley.

There were a few large boulders over to Scully's left that could
possibly afford her a better view. While her partner continued to
survey the land in front of them, Scully scaled the largest boulder.
At the top, she started to look outward, but stopped, suddenly
focusing on a much closer landmark.

"Mulder," she called. "Can you take a look at something for me?"

She motioned for him to join her on the large rock. Once there,
she pointed to the stone beneath her feet.

"Is this the sign you wanted?"

The boulder, weathered and flattened on top, was chiseled into an
almost perfect circle. From this view, extending down in two
directions, the rest of the boulders in the group suddenly gained
a precise order. Though weather-worn, the seams at one time must
have been flawless. Even now, the insignia was unmistakeable.

Mulder nimbly made his way down to the serpent's head, and studied
the view.

"There it is," he said, pointing. From the serpent's head, the
landmarks finally came together to point the way. Aligned in a
perfectly straight path in front of them was a network of ancient
standing stones, stones the may have been mistaken for wind-worn
boulders at first, pointing the way to a break in the cliffs
some miles away.

"Follow the ancient-Atlantian brick road," Scully quipped as the
two agents made their way down from the serpent to the desert
floor below.

**

"Sir, they're moving again."

Colonel Chaney motioned for the binoculars. Staring through them,
he watched the two FBI agents pick their way around a large group of
rocks, then head off to the southwest.

"They're heading away from us, soldier," Chaney said to the PFC,
Hicks, beside him.

"Yes sir," Hicks replied.

"Why do you suppose that is?" Chaney asked. Before Hicks could give
an answer, though, the colonel gave an order.

"Get Major Reynolds up here, and Jackson and Duan."

Hicks gave a quick salute and left. Minutes later, Reynolds
appreared, followed by the two infantrymen. Chaney handed the
binoculars over to the major and pointed out the two agents.

"I want you boys to keep an eye on them. Follow them, discretely.
I want to know what they're on to. And Reynolds, I don't want any
more mistakes."

Reynolds acknowledged the order with a quick "yes, sir." No mistakes
this time. This time, the two agents were tresspassing, threatening
disclosure of classified information. Automatically, he checked his
sidearm.

This time, he would be authorized to use any means necessary to
contain a possible breach of security.

**

7:10 am


Once sighted, it was easy to follow the old straight track. For a
while, it seemed like they were getting nowhere; the destination
cliffs never grew any larger, and the ley just stretched out in front
of them, marker after marker, in an unending, unfaltering straight
line.

Eventually, however, the land fell away behind them. Their sightline
changed, and the desert floor crept up to meet the foot of the cliffs.
As if making up for lost time, the cliffs grew impressively tall as
the agents got closer, taller than either Mulder or Scully would have
guessed from their view only an hour before, until looking up made
them slightly dizzy.

The break they had seen, and that the ley directed them toward, was
one of many huge fissures in the rock face. The light died quickly,
obscuring the interior in shadows.

Mulder checked the ley, stretched out behind them, and eyeballed the
fissure. "It's right in line," he remarked, the first words either
of them had spoken in quite some time. The air around the agents
deadened the sound; instead of echoing off the rocks, Mulder's words
reached his partner's ear in a hush, as though he'd whispered a secret
to her in a closed room.

Scully looked up at the cliffs again, half expecting them to be
smaller than she'd first thought, but instead, they seemed even
larger. She tried to imagine the sheer power behind their creation.
She felt the ground beneath her for what it was; a relatively thin
shell of solid earth, and miles upon miles of roiling, molten rock.

Mulder put a hand out and touched the rock face in front of him.
"Can you feel the energy here?" he asked reverently. "It's amazing.
Is it something about the cliffs? It almost makes you feel. . ."

"Small," his partner offered. "I was thinking of that, too."

Both agents stared at the fissure in front of them, caught up in
a moment of silence. Then, Mulder broke the spell, dropping his
backpack heavily to the ground.

"This has got to be the place," he said, fishing out the camera.
"If ever a power conduit . . . belonged. . . somewhere, it's here."

Scully shed her backpack as well and removed the offending flashlight.
Piercing the darkness in front of her with the beam, she led the way
into the fissure. The path narrowed quickly and veered off to the
left, so that the mouth of the fissure was soon out of sight. But
only a few feet past the bend in the path, the walls receded, opening
the space around them.

Scully scanned the area with her flashlight while Mulder followed her
line with the camera, stopping only for a moment in order to affix
his own smaller flashlight above the device. The cavern extended some
forty feet until the rock walls came together again and the path
narrowed. As her beam passed the far end of the cavern, Mulder
caught his partner's attention.

"Back up, Scully. Let me see that again."

When Scully brought the light over again, Mulder had the camera aimed
and ready. "Three boulders in an arch, just like the Growling Cave,"
he said, pointing to the top of the entrance. Without a word, both
agents traversed the cavern, coming face to face with an exact replica
of the Growling Cave.

There was no mistaking the nature of the gate. In comparison to the
Growling Cave, it was in excellent shape. Huge stones came together
in seamless, interlocking patterns to form smooth walls. The ceiling
was one large, uninterrupted monolith, completely flat. Mulder
followed Scully's flashlight beam with the camera, keeping up a
quiet commentary as he filmed. There was no need to whisper, but
Mulder found he didn't want to raise his voice.

Scully stepped forward, sweeping the area in amazement. Suddenly,
she came to her senses, tracking the floor in front of them for the
insignia they knew would be there. She took a deep, steadying breath
as the serpent-decorated circle came into view only a few paces in
front of her.

"Stay out of that," her partner offered. "We don't know how much of
an electromagnetic field will set it off." Scully gave a cursory nod;
for all the wild speculations about the technology's origins, there
was no denying the circle's documented properties. No one had to warn
her twice. Keeping clear of the circle, the two agents set up a small
base in the corner of the room from which to continue their survey.

Mulder documented the scene around them with reserved calm. In almost
eerie silence, he filmed Scully testing the potential across the
serpent circle. He filmed the walls. He filmed the ceiling. He
filmed the floor. But his calmness dissolved when he set the light
to the part of the floor which, in the Growling Cave, had been
obscured by the collapsed ceiling.

"Scully, I think there's writing here!"

Scully turned toward him from where she had been studying the far wall,
intent on asking a question. But suddenly, she felt the hairs on the
back of her neck stand on end. She had only a moment's notice.

"Mulder . . ." she started.

There were two sharp clicks, and the cave was bathed in harsh light
coming from the entrance. Two beams each captured one of the agents,
and Scully put a hand to her eyes, squinting in the new light.

"Don't move," came a voice. "Don't say a word."

Her partner gave a soft curse, then spoke up. "Reynolds," he said
with bravado. "I see you decided to . . ."

The cave exploded in sound and light, deafening them. At the sound
of the gunshot, Scully jumped to her feet, screaming her partner's
name. The soldiers let her reach him. Shaken but unharmed, Mulder
indicated the ceiling behind him, where a single small hole marred
the otherwise pristine surface.

"I won't miss next time, agents," Reynolds' voice came from behind
the light blind. Then, he stepped forward out of the shadows.
"That's the only warning you get. I said I wouldn't hesitate, and I
won't."

The agents said nothing. The major clearly had the advantage; neither
Mulder nor Scully even had any idea of how many soldiers he had with
him. Enough, Mulder figured, squinting at the lights, for Reynolds
to make good on his threats.

After instructing them to face the wall, the major cursorily frisked
the two agents, removing their weapons.

"Jackson, head out and radio Command," Reynolds ordered. "Tell them
to get another team out here." There was a faint 'yes sir' and some
movement, and then the cave fell into silence again.

"Duan, keep an eye on our FBI guests," Reynolds continued as he
started pacing the cave. From the wall, both agents watched the major
as he took a few steps and then stopped in front of Mulder's still-
recording video camera.

"And get this thing out of my sight," he added, giving the camera a
swift kick.

It could have been happening in slow motion. Both agents watched in
horror as the camera skittered across the stone, heading straight
for the ancient insignia built into the floor.

"Not in the circle!" Mulder cried, turning from the wall and lunging
desperately for the camera. Had Reynolds not been in the line of
fire, those would have been Mulder's last words. As it was, Duan only
shouted a warning, and the major came around on Mulder with the speed
and accuracy of a fighting machine. Intent on the camera, Mulder had
no chance. Reynolds caught his arm, and with surprising speed, sent
Mulder sprawling through the air to land heavily on his back upon the
unforgiving stone.

Scully barely had time to turn around before the camera passed the
feathered serpent and came to rest inside the circle.

"Dammit I said don't move!" Reynolds barked, as Mulder gave a
soft moan and rolled onto his side.

The flashlight atop the camera flickered and died.

As Reynolds towered over her partner, continuing his tirade, Scully
realized that Mulder was now lying completely inside the circle.

The room gave a soft, electric hum, and Scully screamed.

She wasn't sure what the words were that she screamed. A warning
maybe. Periferally, she was aware of the other soldier, Duan,
moving toward her, but her main focus was on her partner. The
humming grew, gaining intensity until even Reynolds picked up on
it and stopped, mid-curse, to glance up at the cave.

There was a breath of terrible stillness, over which the hum rose to
a huge, powerful pulse, and then, in a concussive force like gigantic
stones being moved aside, the whole cave shook. Reynolds and Duan
fell to the ground, and Scully dove toward her prone partner.

Mulder felt the earth trembling beneath him, and he tried like hell
to get enough air into his lungs to breathe. He felt something grab
onto his shoulder and then his partner was screaming in his ear and
pulling him backwards.

". . . out of the circle! Move!"

The fear behind her voice sparked him to action. Ignoring the
searing pain in his lower back, Mulder took a huge, agonizing
breath, and pushed himself toward his partner.

Mulder had barely enough time to turn his head back toward the circle
when there was a bright flash, overpowering the paltry flashlights in
the room. In that split second of intense brightness, he could focus
only on the patch of stones he had just left. Impossible as it seemed,
the stones were moving, swirling like a liquid. But before he could
even process that thought, the flash died in the wake of a terrible
crash of thunder, and the cave was plunged into pitch black silence.

He could have blacked out for a minute; it was hard to tell. But the
first thing he was aware of was a splitting headache and a slight,
shaking hand fluttering over his face and head. Sound, when it came,
was muffled and far away.

" . . . okay? Mulder, answer me . . ."

Scully.

He held up his own hand, fumbling for hers in the darkness. He was
surprised to find that his was trembling as badly as hers. When he
finally reached her searching fingers, she seized his hand, holding
on as though her life depended on it.

Or maybe he was the one who grasped her hand with such force. He
coughed, still unable to hear the whole sound. His only strength
came from that petite, unyielding hand in his own.

"Still here," he finally whispered. She gave his hand an assuring
squeeze, and he let his voice fall silent. It hurt to talk anyway.

A light broke through the darkness, illuminating boulders and
shadows, until it finally lit upon the two agents and froze. Mulder
heard, far away, the panicky voice of the other soldier, Jackson.

"Don't move! Hands where I can see them!"

He made no move, but felt his hand rising, still tightly entwined
with that of his partner.

**

FBI Headquarters
Washington DC
April 21, 2000
10:00 am


Conclusions were the worst, she mused. There were always questions
left unanswered, theories left unproven. And yet, the sheer number
of cases they had seen end this way had conditioned her, if not to
accept this frustrating lack of evidence, then at least to give it
the proper literary closure. Her conclusions were a mask, formulaic
at best, for want of real answers. She should really just leave the
damn thing as open-ended and abrupt as it felt.

But something in that last bare paragraph stirred her. Sighing,
Scully began to type.

"As science gives way to speculation, we are left only with theories
whose proofs are as elusive as the technology we witnessed, and we
must draw fantastic conclusions from fantastic observations. Agent
Mulder's claims of an ancient, advanced civilization are enticing in
their philosophical and scientific implications; if our ancestors
possessed this kind of power, what became of them? How did the
Golden Age, if there was such, decline? And what does this imply
for our own future? For if this technology is borne of humankind,
it is either something we lost millennia ago, or something that we
have just now begun to discover."

**

"He's been at that computer all day. He hasn't even eaten anything.
Can you talk to him, dear?"

Clarissa shook her head. She had tried. But despite what her parents
thought, she couldn't unlock her brother's mind. He needed to talk
to her for her to translate.

"Sites on earth science, geology, astronomy. It can't be good for
him to tax himself this way."

She looked up at her mother, who had felt so lost at giving birth
to a son she deemed so far from perfect. If Mum could look past the
physical, it would truly shock her to discover the power Clarissa saw
behind Ryan's inquiring eyes. But Mum would never understand.
Clarissa stood up from the table, suddenly tired of her mother's
company.

"He only told me one thing," she snapped, signing shorthand as she
spoke.

"'I have an idea.'"

**

Scully stared at the paragraph for a minute or two, rolling the words
around in her head. She thought about reading it aloud and then
decided against it when the basement office door opened. Instead,
she kept typing as her partner entered the room, his hands full of
maps and papers.

"If we instead discount these ideas, it must be noted that in an age
of such unprecedented scientific discovery, we have been cowed by the
earth itself. And as we turn our eyes toward exploration of the
heavens, we must admit that we have not yet fully explored our own
home, or uncovered all of its wonders."

She leaned back from the keyboard and hit 'Save.' Another pile of
words that didn't add up to any real closure. She stood up, looking
past her partner's determined gaze to the large map of the Pacific
Ocean he was studying at his desk.

"Mulder, a person could spend their whole life looking for the next
gate, ley line or no," she offered, coming around her desk to face
him.

Mutely, Mulder handed her a single piece of paper in answer.

She stared at it, not comprehending. It was a fax; a classified
document labeled top secret under the military jurisdiction of the Air
Force. Presented in a long laundry list, with instructions to see
annotations for further descriptions, were notes, items and files
confiscated from the investigation.

"Frohike dug that up for me," Mulder said, keeping his eyes on the map
in front of him.

Scully scanned the items: two cameras, two voltmeters, medical
records, geological samples, faxes . . . the list went on and on.
Anything even remotely relevant to the case had been confiscated.

She looked up. "I don't understand."

"It's not what's on there that matters," her partner answered. "It's
what _isn't_."

Suddenly it hit her. She let out a sigh. "So you want to go island-
hopping for a few years to recover it? It might be damaged, or
inconclusive, or, or anything, Mulder. Is it worth that much?"

Mulder just looked at her. She crossed her arms.

"You're not going to go all 'Mosquito Coast' on me, are you?" she
asked, trying to lighten the mood.

It worked. Mulder gave her a wry smile and looked down again, almost
wistfully, at the ley he had drawn across the Southern Hemisphere,
before finally leaning back from the map.

"We'll see," he said, rolling up the map and tossing it to his
partner.

"File this under 'L', would you?"

**

Vaitupu Island, Tuvalu
Northern Marsh
April 21, 2000

The barrow had been deserted for years, ever since the last of the
last reigning king's lineage had died out. It had been a bloody
dynasty, and the only thing anyone wanted to do afterward was forget.
The land was too marshy for development, and the water too rocky for
fishing boats. As such, it was abandoned to the graves and the
birds.

The mound had been closed. No one would ever think to open it.
No one would notice the intricate stonework or the insignia on the
floor of the royal tomb. No one would notice the incongruity of
the presence of a muck-covered, dead video camera, property of the
Cactus Flats Public Library, lying underneath the Queen's wooden
deathbed. The island community had buried their past in the soft
northern marshes for a reason; they didn't want to exhume it.

A pitiful wail started up, but no one heard. Even the bodies had
long ago lost their ears. In the confines of that dank, dreary tomb,
no one would find Major Reynolds, no matter how loud he screamed.

**

End 4/4


+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+

"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."
-- Paul Erdos

"I wish I were a nomad, an indian or a saint. The edge of death would
disappear, and leave me nothing left to taint."
-- Indigo Girls
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+