Disclaimers in Part One
Echoes of Thermopylae: Part Two
by Joseph Anderson
Alex Krycek was just stepping out his apartment. He carried a small bag, liking to travel light. Whatever he needed he would get in Taiwan. Sensing something, he looked down his hallway saw a shape on the floor by the elevator, drew his gun and walked to investigate. Then he put his gun away and knelt down.
"Kimberly...Kimberly...can you hear me?" He sat her up and an empty 750 ml bottle of whiskey clunked out of her clothes. Alex was glad the smoking man wasn't here. His cigarette would ignite her breath.
She mumbled, "Kushranhara...no worse than anybody else..." Kimberly half opened her eyes to look at him and smiled a little. "My...knight in shining.." her voice trailed off.
Krycek frowned then said, "Yeah, that's me."
He managed to get her standing and half dragged her to his apartment, propped her up as he opened his door and brought her inside and deposited her on his couch. Krycek studied her a second then called the airline to cancel his flight.
Their chief had instructed them to bring him Krycek, who had been seen with Langland. He'd taken a drag on his Morley and looked at them like they were idiots to still be standing there. There were three of them. They'd gotten a key to his apartment by flashing a badge at the manager.
"Who the fuck are you?"
A big brunette in a white bathrobe was looking at them.
"Federal agents. Where is the man who lives here?"
"Federal agents don't come sneaking in that way. Take your pencil dick friends and get lost."
"Where is Alex Krycek?" the senior operative said, angrily. He didn't feel like taking crap from some bimbo Krycek was shacked up with.
The woman studied them then said, "You aren't from Langland OR Jilly. You work for that walking advertisement for lung cancer Langland has dancing around like an organ grinder's monkey. If you don't want your own organ in a grinder I'd advise you to take Shemp and Larry here and go right back out that door."
"You're coming with us," the agent said, and nodded his head at the others who began moving toward her.
"Alex has really gotta start associating with a better class of people," the woman said mildly. When the men approached her she pivoted and kicked both of them in the face dropping them. Their leader drew his gun then felt a sharp pain in his wrist and the woman was holding his own gun on him. The other agents were groggily getting up. She quickly went to them and took their guns, putting them in the pockets of the robe.
At that moment the door opened again and Alex Krycek stepped in with a bag groceries which he just dropped.
"You just bought yourself a mess of trouble," one of the men she kicked said to Kimberly.
"Lemme tell you something; I'm not the person to threaten that way." She just casually fired the gun and the man cried out and fell holding his thigh.
"Hello, Wilson. I see you met my friend," Alex said.
She said, "Do you wanna call the cops? Phone's right there. Tell THEM how you're federal agents. Your boss'll be happy to come bail you out. He'll just be glad you're safe and sound, I'm sure."
Wilson licked his lips nervously and said "Tell her to put the gun down."
Alex looked at Kimberly and at the man moaning on the floor. "I think I used up my cards for telling her what to do. An unarmed woman in a bathrobe took the guns from three armed operatives and wounded one for being stupid. Have fun explaining that. Get out."
Wilson said, "Krycek, you're only making it worse for yourself."
Alex snarled and grabbed his own gun from where it was concealed in his waistband. Wilson mouthed the word NO and barely raised his hands pathetically as Krycek slashed down with the pistol across his face, knocking him to the floor where he cowered. All the fear and rage and anger that he had been feeling because of Langland and Jilly just exploded out of him. He struck him twice more with the gun, then Krycek viciously kicked the man several times as he moaned. Breathing hard he stopped and looked at Kimberly who was just watching him and at the other two fearful men. Alex turned Wilson over with his foot. He studied him.
"Alex!" Kimberly said sharply. He looked at her with his sweaty enraged face then back down at Wilson and kicked him in the side once more.
"Take him and get out," he ordered the two other men. They quickly obeyed, the one with the wounded leg grunting in pain as he helped pick up Wilson's bloody figure.
When the door closed he put his gun back in his waistband and said to Kimberly, "The shot wasn't too loud." He looked at the bloodstained carpet. "We can just cover that if the cops come by before we can clean it up. Glad you finally woke up. How do you feel?"
"Like hell," Kimberly answered and sat down heavily, putting the agents' guns on the coffee table. "Did you undress me last?"
"Yeah," Krycek said.
She nodded and said, "Thanks. I hate waking up in my clothes. How'd I get here?"
"I found you out in the hall doing your street derelict impression."
Kimberly grimaced. "I must like you more than I realized."
"Who's Kushranhara?" Alex asked. She stared at him, then shook her head and looked away.
Alex said, "I have to go to Taiwan. This is one more good reason. Come with me."
Kimberly smiled at him. "That's not a very good idea. You're carrying out an assignment for Langland. I might break your concentration. Screwing up a job for him isn't healthy. Besides the fact, I might get it in my head to sabotage whatever you're doing."
He started to say something but stopped as she held a hand up. "Don't explain, Alex. Maybe it's not so bad this time...maybe it is. I don't wanna see you doing what I can't stomach. It'll happen sooner or later. I'd rather it be later."
He sat beside her and put his good arm around her shoulders and Kimberly leaned into him. She'd taken a shower and he kissed her clean wet hair.
"Can I stay here while you're gone?" she said.
"They'll be back," Alex said, indicating the guns.
"I'm counting on it," she murmured. "I need something to do."
"Kimberly," Alex said softly. She looked up at him. "Do you want me to change?"
She reached a hand up to stroke his cheek and said, "No, Alex. You can't change. I've known plenty of guys like you. I was watching you give it to Wilson there. I like you just the way you are."
He looked in those amazing blue eyes. "Okay, Kimberly."
"Mulder, if you say one more time that was the best meal you've ever had, I'll scream. Can we just concede it was good food and please move on," Scully said in exasperation.
Her partner looked askance at her. "Whoa, sorry, there. Little defensive aren't we? I didn't mean to insult YOUR cooking. You don't have to be insecure in your femininity."
Scully looked up at his smart ass face. "Mulder, I am not insecure in my femininity and what the hell do you know about whether I can cook or not? And for the record, being a mentally unbalanced professional killer isn't exactly classically feminine either."
Fox smiled and said, "I know, Scully. I'm just trying to get your goat. It's only that that food was..."
"Will you DROP it with the food already?" Scully exploded. She had gone home and tried to recreate the antipasto and wound up feeding it to her dog. Scully bought an eggplant too and located a recipe, but she hadn't attempted it. The vegetable just sat on her counter, mocking her with its smug shiny surface as if it was saying, You?
Mulder looked away pouting. She said, "Maybe, I am a little insecure about my cooking."
"You make good fudge. I remember that, Scully."
"God, Mulder. Can we just drop it?"
Mulder smiled, tiring of baiting her, and said, "I called a detective in the Organized Crime Unit here. I told him Jilly Snopes said we should watch for crossfire."
"And?" Scully said.
"And, he said that was good advice. It's a strange situation. Apparently Langland and Jilly are trying to kill each other. Maybe that would explain that remark she made about Krycek, Scully. Anyway, they aren't trying to kill each other's people, but it looks like Langland's enemies think this is their chance to make their move. Problem is, according to my detective, that Langland isn't even really involved in local crime. It's peanuts to him."
Scully was listening, analyzing what he was saying. She said, "Jilly."
Mulder nodded, "Yep. These guys who think it's a disorganized operation ripe for taking, are actually moving on Jilly the Butcher. She provides protection or something for all these numbers parlors, drug dealers, etc. A shipment of cocaine got jacked. There's some cute new crime scene photos, Scully."
Scully said "What about Professor Moriarty?"
"Well, somebody tried to blow him up." Mulder explained.
"Jilly," Scully said.
"You'd think though it's not her style from what I know. But the next day the head of a big European chemical consortium and his security chief were decapitated. There were several other unexplained murders that same day of company security personnel. Langland acquired 51% of the consortium at that same time."
"Sounds like James Bond stuff," Scully said.
"My detective said Langland has a new bodyguard they can't identify but he was nowhere to be seen during the European incident. I called Kersh. He's really into it, Scully; wants to nail Langland and is glad to see me chasing crooks instead of spooks. He got back to me. The bodyguard is this man of mystery from India or Pakistan. Langland got himself a new Jilly, it looks like."
"Maybe this isn't really our kind of thing, Mulder. If it's international we should hand it off to Interpol," Scully said.
"You're forgetting that I really am chasing spooks here, Scully. But Kersh doesn't want to hand it off. He wants the Bureau to nail 'em. So does the director apparently."
"Congratulations, Mulder. We can all be obsessive together."
He smiled, "Not you, Scully. You can keep us all grounded."
She nodded but was really thinking about the eggplant on her kitchen table. Waiting for her. Laughing at her.
"We have a new player it seems. Krycek has forged a new alliance." The speaker paused and drew on his cigarette. He was speaking to a room full of older white men in gray suits.
A heavyset man said, "Krycek is nothing but an operative. Now he is even less: just a criminal working for another criminal. How does that concern us?"
Taking another drag, the man said, "As I've been telling you for years now, Langland is more than a criminal. Perhaps much, much more. But I'm not speaking of Langland now. A woman was seen in Krycek's apartment who may represent other forces."
An older man said, "We've all heard your paranoid theories about Langland. Perhaps that is where Mulder gets it."
The cigarette smoking man looked coldly at him. "As you know full well, Mulder's theories are anything but paranoid."
The heavy man spoke. "So Krycek has betrayed Langland to another criminal. Again, so what. It's probably that Snopes woman. A simple gang war. You are wasting our time. If we had listened to you years ago we would have pursued Langland instead of uncovering the colonization plans."
The smoking man looked down at his cigarette. "Yes, the colonization plan. So frightening, so terrible that it supercedes everything else and makes Langland, or anything, of secondary importance."
The well dressed man said, "He's babbling again that it could all be a hoax. He is as obsessed with Langland as Mulder is with little green men. Pathetic."
The heavy man said, "We will tell you again: Do your job as we tell you, killer, or we will find someone who can. Don't waste resources on Langland or some other unimportant criminals. Do you understand?"
"I understand all of you well enough."
"I'll take that as a yes. Don't waste our time again on this nonsense" the well dressed man said coldly. He looked around. "This meeting is over."
It was 3:20 AM. Mulder had his Glock ready and Scully her Walther PPK as they quietly slipped into Krycek's apartment. The building manager had given them peculiar looks when they showed him their identification and they got the key from him. This wasn't strictly legal but Krycek wasn't any normal suspect. Mulder knew that Scully was right: he did have a hard on for Krycek; and she wanted a piece of him herself. They searched the darkened apartment and didn't find anything.
They put their guns away and Scully said, "Nothing, Mulder. Maybe somebody tipped him off."
At that moment the lights flipped on and woman naked except for the big pistol she held was looking at them with cold blue eyes.
"Kimberly!" Scully said and slowly raised her hands. Mulder followed suit.
"What dya know? Real federal agents...but you didn't knock either. Tut tut, agents. Haven't you ever heard of the Constitution? Janice is right about you secret police."
"Would you like to put some clothes on?" Mulder said uncomfortably.
"Why? Is it hard for you?" she said with a sneer.
"Kimberly, the Sword of Ares never harmed prisoners," Scully said.
The woman smiled. "You think I'm some nutball you can manipulate by playing to my delusions. You should get your facts straight, Agent Scully. The Sword of Ares killed plenty of prisoners if she thought they deserved it; crucified 'em, buried 'em, skinned 'em alive if they were known for doing that kind of thing to other people."
Mulder said, "Neither I or my partner have EVER skinned anyone alive."
The woman absently scratched her pubic hair and said, "I know. You're the good guys and Krycek is the bad guy."
"Exactly!" Mulder said with relief and began to lower his hands but the naked woman gestured with the gun to keep his hands up.
"What makes you think I'm not a bad guy?" she said with a smile.
"Is that why you rode into the Athenian lancers? You didn't want to be a bad guy?" Mulder said.
The woman stared at him without expression. "Who told you that?"
"Jilly," Mulder said.
She shrugged and lowered the gun and set it down and just walked unconcernedly into the kitchen, opened a cabinet and brought a bottle out and poured a drink for herself. Scully and Mulder looked at each other.
The woman came back out and sat on the couch, took a drink, and said. "If you draw your weapons again now I'll kill you. I don't like being tricked. I'm what you call an antihero. You gotta watch characters like me. Sometimes we do all the wrong things for the best reasons and vice versa."
Scully said, "That's delusional. We are now armed and your gun is across the room. We have the upper hand."
Kimberly took a drink and said, "Really? Why don't you draw your weapon, Agent Scully. Just know it's the last thing you or your partner are ever gonna do."
Scully looked like she was going to call her bluff so Mulder said, "We believe you. Don't anger the great warlord, Scully. She is being merciful."
Kimberly was taking a drink and coughed. She said angrily, "Cut out that bullshit! What are you doin' busting in?"
Scully decided Mulder was right. There was no reason to confront her delusions yet. Scully said, "We're looking for Alex Krycek."
"He is wanted in conjunction with a number of crimes going back years, including murder," Mulder said. Then added, "He may have killed my father."
Kimberly sighed and drained her drink. She got up and wandered back to the kitchen. Mulder couldn't help but look at her ass. He winced as Scully slugged him in the arm.
Instead of pouring herself another drink she seemed to just be looking at the bottle. Mulder looked at Scully and they both walked over.
Kimberly looked down at her naked body and back at the agents. "I used to be really uptight. Being a rich WASP does that to you. Callisto and Jilly really had fun with that. Even Joxer. I mean they were all pagan Greeks and just didn't have the twisted Judeo-Christian body stuff that we do. We can try to unlearn it, but they just didn't have it at all. It made me a perfect foil. I'm glad Joxer had something like that on me. Poor guy never had the upper hand with anybody about anything else."
"I've heard of Callisto but not Joxer," Scully said, trying to draw her out.
The woman looked at her. "He was nobody. Just a bumbling idiot who people barely tolerated."
"Sounds like he was somebody to you," Mulder said.
Kimberly poured another shot and downed it. "Yeah," she said without looking at either of the agents, "Joxer was somebody to me." She brushed past them and disappeared into the bedroom.
Scully started to follow but Kimberly emerged from the bedroom in a white bathrobe, sat down again on the couch, just leaned back and closed her eyes. The two agents went over to her.
"He's only out for himself, a vicious killer capable of anything. Help us get him," Mulder said.
Kimberly opened her eyes and looked at him. He felt a shiver. She said, "I know that's what he is mostly. I don't know how this whole thing is gonna play out. Maybe I'll see Alex do something and I'll stop him. Maybe I'll even kill him. Or maybe I'll just go hit Langland and go into business with Jilly with Alex as a lieutenant. One thing I do know is that helping you two put him away is not on the menu. Now get lost before I call the ACLU on you for illegal entry."
Scully said, "Kimberly..." but stopped as the cold eyes turned on her. She continued, "You may have knowledge of the whereabouts of a fugitive, Alex Krycek. You're coming with us. Get dressed."
Mulder didn't saying, carefully watching the dark woman.
Kimberly said, "You read about the Sword of Ares, right? At the library?"
"No, I did a search on the net."
Kimberly looked slightly confused. "The what? Oh, wait a minute...yeah. God, that was so long ago. Agent Scully, I'm not going anywhere with you. You should really consider what you read before you cross me."
"You aren't the Sword of Ares. That's a delusion. You need help. Knowing Krycek he's using you somehow, pretending to believe you," Scully said.
Mulder was looking nervously from one to the other. He had largely accepted Scully's interpretation. But even IF Kimberly WASN'T who she said, she still might possess the skills to go with her delusion as Jilly did. This could be a far more dangerous person than Scully seemed willing to consider.
"Scully, let's go," he said. His partner looked at him furiously.
"Smart of you," Kimberly said.
Scully lost her patience and said, "Mulder, she's a witness and is coming with us!" She reached for her gun.
Mulder said, "Don't!" just as he saw Kimberly seem to burst up off the couch in defiance of gravity and grab Scully by the throat and plant a foot in his own face. Then he didn't remember anything.
"Hail, brave one! Agent of justice and seeker of truth!"
Mulder groaned at the voice and opened his eyes. "SHIT!" He frantically scrambled away but there was a rocky wall behind him. Looking around he saw craggy mountains some of which glowed like volcanoes. It was dark but a huge bonfire nearby provided light. Scully was lying not far from where he had been. She was naked, her fair skin yellow in the fire light. Mulder didn't have anything on either. He looked in terror at who or what had been speaking to him. It was a hideous monster. An actual honest-to-God monster with lumpy, mottled, deformed looking scaley skin and a long tail. It seemed to be on four thick crooked legs, but also had a pair of big powerful pincers. For a head, except for a pair of tusks, a relatively ordinary bald old man's face just emerged from this hideous body. It smiled up at Mulder ingratiatingly then waddled over to Scully and tickled her nose with the end of his tail.
"Get away from her!" Mulder said almost hysterically. The old face looked back at him and winked. Scully opened her eyes and screamed. She was right beside Mulder in seconds, both of them staring at this hideous apparition smiling benignly up at them.
"Hail, wise one! Your beauty and skill are only matched by your zeal!"
Mulder and Scully were flattened against the rock wall and breathing raggedly in fear. They caught each other's eyes.
Scully gulped and said, "I have to be dreaming, Mulder." She covered her breasts and crotch awkwardly.
"Certainly hope so, Scully," her partner said.
The creature turned its low slung heavy muscular body surprisingly quickly and called out, "Master, the two watchmen are awake."
An elegant crowned figure in black walked up. "Thank you, Helms."
"Serving you is my only joy, kind master!" the monster said and rubbed his bald head against a black clad leg.
"Mortal stupidity just continues to amaze me. You two are supposedly intelligent and competent. But then when one of the most dangerous people who's ever lived tells you if you draw a weapon on her she will kill you both, you go ahead and do it anyway. You two are lucky I got you out when I did. She was doing you both fast, getting it over with. She didn't particularly want to kill you but she had told you she would. Somebody like Kimberly has a reputation to maintain. She knows at least I'm watching her, probably Ares too...who knows who else? She can't afford to say she'll do something like that and then not do it. I'll straighten it out for you though it's not something I intend to make a habit of."
"Thanks. Who are you?" Mulder said.
Hades reached down to keep Helms from leaping at Mulder and tearing him apart. "It's all right. There's no reason he should know." The demon gnashed its teeth in fury and glared at Mulder who unconsciously pulled Scully in front of him.
"Sorry.." he said embarrassed, at the look she gave him as she jerked away.
Helms said, "Ignorant clay! This is Great Hades, Lord of Life and Death, Master of Tartarus and the Elysian Fields! Remember that!"
"Nicely said, Helms," Hades said.
"Oh, thank you, Master!" Helms said looking up at the god.
"Helms, go supervise those earthquake victims who are arriving. Judy died in one herself and might get talked into something she shouldn't."
The demon glared at Mulder again and then bounded off.
Hades looked after him and shook his head then looked back at Mulder and Scully. "Wish he was more independent. He's smart enough and even has good judgment when he's not going overboard because of his loyalty. I keep trying to give Helms more responsibility but he just can't seem to handle it. He feels terrible when he fails but it's my fault for asking too much of him. For instilling terror or just ripping enemies to pieces he's marvelous. Well, you saw. Just now he practically frightened you to death. Both of you are still shaking and Helms didn't lay a claw on you."
Hades studied Scully and she felt new fear as she saw something come in his eyes. Against her will the hands she was using to cover herself moved to her sides and she felt completely exposed. Then Hades shook his head. "Persephone would have my godly gonads for breakfast. My brother can have a home life like that but not me," he said.
Scully opened her eyes and found herself in her own bed. She looked over at the clock and saw the alarm was close to going off so she reached over and turned it off and just got up. That was some kind of dream. She'd decide whether to share it with Mulder or not. That being naked with him...you could interpret that different ways. She went to her desk and glanced at her notes, and was disappointed to see the case was real. The entire thing wasn't some dream.
When she arrived at the office Mulder was already there with a cup of coffee. He seemed a little self-conscious when he looked at her.
"What's wrong, Mulder?" she asked.
"Nothing, Scully. Just a stupid dream."
She didn't say anything but nodded and looked away.
There was a knock on his office door which then opened up. "Excuse me."
Mulder and Scully both had sharp intakes of breath. The speaker was a bald old man who smiled ingratiatingly at them. He was short and stocky and in a gray suit and had a red tie with little hourglasses on it.
"Can I help you?" Mulder said weakly. He glanced down at Scully who was pale.
"I'm here to help you, Agent Mulder. And you, Agent Scully."
"Do we know you?" Scully asked.
The old man smiled and said, "I'm Helms. Surely I don't look that different. My kind master wants me to protect you. There are future plans for you it seems, and it wouldn't do for you to be killed by Great Kimberly, Terrible Jilly or that crafty King Langland."
"Oh," Scully said. "I thought you looked familiar but just wasn't sure."
"Nice suit," Mulder said. Helms beamed up at him.
Helms said, "I will await you outside, brave ones." The old man smiled and left their office.
Scully looked at Mulder. "Do you have any theories about this, because I would be very interested in hearing them."
"Only that I'm dreaming, Scully."
"That's what I said to you in MY dream. It sounds even worse when you say it. Mulder, I'm waiting for you to say that everything in the dream was real. That everything Jilly and Kimberly claim is real." Scully was stressed. She kept hoping for a rabbit with a watch to appear so she could be sure it was a dream.
Mulder said, "What can I say, Scully? You convinced me earlier that they were crazy. If we ignore the dream, then we can say Helms is just one more member of this cult or whatever it is. Maybe Covington hypnotized us or something."
"That old woman is your villain? God, Mulder. This is all just too much. Even your aliens and conspiracies are better than pagan gods and their gophers running around," Scully said.
Mulder smiled. "At last. You finally appreciate me!"
Scully was frowning at the floor. She looked up. "Let's take Helms to Jilly's restaurant. Just see what happens. Stir things up."
Mulder. "Ooo, Scully. I love it when you get wild and crazy that way."
"Shut up, Mulder."
This time they had reservations and were shown quickly to a table for three. Jilly was already on the floor in another beautiful dress. They saw her grin when they came in. She came over.
"Fox, Dana....Helms," she said. There was a glitter in her eyes when she looked at the old man.
Mulder to his amazement saw Helms seemed nervous. He said, "Hail, mistress of death and delight of Ares' heart...I bring greetings from my master."
Jilly sat down and looked at the two FBI agents. "This is unexpected. Something is definitely going on with you two. Helms here tried to kill me when I was a little girl."
"Exalted one," he said. "You know I only was serving my great lord who desired your fine spirit to reside with him."
"Yeah, I know. That's blood down the drain. Whatcha doing with a couple of cops? Moonlighting?"
Helms laughed too much at the joke as Jilly continued watching him with cold eyes. Mulder and Scully felt like she had about as much interest in them as a pair of stale breadsticks.
"Great warrior, I am here to see they come to no harm."
Jilly listened then looked back at them. She said, "Maybe Langland had it wrong. Maybe it's you two the gods are interested in and I can go ahead and flay Krycek."
"Why would you want to kill Alex Krycek?" Mulder asked.
"Like I told you, that's your job," Jilly said sweetly.
Scully said, "I'm a doctor, Ms. Snopes.."
"Call me, Jilly. So what?"
"All right, Jilly. I just wanted to tell you that Paul Cerruti's condition is anything but hopeless. I spoke to his physicians. He may have some residuals but nothing that would force him to be institutionalized."
Mulder felt the air get electric. Helms was watching Jilly closely. Fox wondered if he would just turn back into a monster if the need arose. The blonde woman's eyes had gotten wide and her pupils contracted.
"What do you know about Paulie?"
Scully was careful herself. She hadn't talked to Mulder about this. Scully had talked to the same Organized Crime detective Mulder had. The fact that someone was in the hospital for natural causes didn't strike Mulder as particularly noteworthy. Scully had investigated it though and found how far back the patient went with Jilly. "Mr. Cerruti worked for your father, Cal Snopes. From what I know the rift with Langland followed soon after Mr. Cerruti's stroke."
Jilly got to her feet. "Dana...don't spring stuff on me. It's not a safe thing to do. Sometimes I do things I regret later. Langland has twenty spare sets of dentures and six pins in him various places for that very reason."
Scully said, "I'll remember that. I wanted to tell you that there doesn't seem to be anything suspicious. I spoke to his cardiologist and neurologist and Mr. Cerruti had high risk factors for cerebrovascular accident, including his father and uncle."
"I didn't know that but it doesn't change anything. Langland always makes it look good. Thanks for your concern," Jilly said, then waved a waitress over. "Don't charge 'em. Bring 'em whatever you think is good tonight." She looked back at Helms. "You wanna talk to me alone about anything?"
The old man smiled ingratiatingly. "I cannot leave my charges, great one."
Jilly nodded and walked back to her office.
Krycek had been getting what news he could of what was going on back in the States during his time in Taiwan. He found a computer he could use to go on the net. There were gangland killings occurring but that didn't really tell him anything. If Langland were killed it would make news in the financial pages so that hadn't happened. Alex just methodically went about arranging for his target to be caught embezzling. The man was innocent apparently so it was a little tricky. Krycek was curious about the situation. This man was anything but innocent in other ways, being a regular visitor to brothels which specialized in innocent young country girls from Thailand. Alex found evidence his man had actually killed one once. It made him incredibly vulnerable but that wasn't what Langland and Jilly wanted; they wanted him nailed for embezzlement. Some arcane financial dealings, Alex assumed, and went about framing him.
As Krycek came off the loading ramp he saw a tall figure in a motorcycle jacket. He hadn't told anyone he was coming back but that she found out wasn't really surprising. He was glad to see her. Alex hadn't been with a woman, or a man, for the three weeks he had been away. There were plenty of opportunities but he found he just kept thinking of her.
Kimberly kissed him as he walked up to her. "How was your flight, honey?"
"Okay," he said with a smile. He'd left his Ferrari with her and now they began walking out to where it was parked.
"Kill who you went for?" she said lightly.
He looked at her. "I thought you didn't want to know what I was doing? And, no, as a matter of fact, I didn't kill anybody. I set up somebody who you would've done a lot worse to."
"Good for you," she said. Kimberly began going to the driver's side then tossed him the car keys and got in the passenger side.
"What's up, Kimberly?" he said as he took the sports car onto the expressway, sensing something from her manner.
"Mulder and Scully came to your apartment looking for you."
Alex digested that for a moment. "What happened?" he said.
"We talked for a while. Then I tried to kill 'em but they disappeared into thin air. Have you eaten yet? I thought we might go by Jilly's. I haven't been to see her yet; been nervous about it. Mother/daughter stuff. Maybe I can square things between you two. Assuming you didn't poison Paulie that is. I sure hope you didn't, Alex."
"What do you mean they disappeared?" Alex said tensely, then added, "I didn't do anything to Paulie except kick his ass once to set him straight."
Kimberly said, "I'm glad to hear that. I didn't think you did. I don't think Langland did it, though I understand where Jilly might think so. He'd never push her over the line that way. He's too smart. Unfortunately for him, Jilly doesn't always operate from logic. Funny as hell, I've gotta say."
"Mulder and Scully?" Alex said, though tried to keep the irritation from his voice. Kimberly was no one to piss off as he'd come to find out.
She looked over at him and smiled. "Sorry, babe. They disappeared. You're gonna see a lotta weird stuff now that you're involved with us. I can tell you what probably happened but you won't believe me."
"Try me," Alex said.
"A god took them to save them. Coulda been anybody though I'd look at Hades first since he's my boss. Even if it was someone else they'd probably clear it with him first. Nobody but Ares or Zeus would have the cajones to screw with Hades like that. Rescuing cops isn't exactly Ares' style though and Zeus has more important things to do."
Alex didn't say anything.
"Told ya," Kimberly said and chuckled.
Alex looked over at her. "Mind if we stop at my place before we go out to eat?"
"Sure, why?" she said.
Alex smiled at her.
Kimberly reached over to stroke his short brown hair, and said, "Okay, lover."
Krycek sensed something and glanced over at Kimberly who was also alert. He floored accelerator just as the shot took out the rear window.
Kimberly was looking behind them. She had her big Beretta out. "It's a white Bronco with two men. I see a rifle barrel."
Krycek nodded as he made a screeching turn and shot onto the on-ramp. The Bronco followed. The red Ferrari was going 148 miles an hour and they were leaving the Bronco behind. He said, "I'd like to know who the hell just tried to kill me."
Kimberly said, "Let'em catch up, keep moving so we don't get shot."
Alex nodded and slowed the sports car, weaving as if he had a blown tire so they wouldn't be suspicious. In the rearview mirror he saw the white Bronco gaining quickly.
"Come to mama," Kimberly said with a cold smile. She rolled her window down and the wind whipped her black hair wildly. Krycek seemed to be losing control of the car. The white Bronco was right beside them, the rifle barrel extending out the window, and then Kimberly was no longer in the Ferrari but was holding onto the side of Bronco and reaching inside. Krycek saw the rifle bouncing on the freeway in the mirror. Looking quickly he saw a splash of red on the windshield of the Bronco. A moment later Kimberly was behind the wheel. Krycek headed for an out of the way place he knew. Luckily there weren't any cars nearby to witness any of what happened.
The Bronco pulled up behind the Ferrari in a secluded spot. Alex quickly ran to it. Kimberly was holding her Beretta on two men, one of whom had a bloody head wound. Alex saw a bullet hole in the roof. Krycek opened the passenger door and dragged out the wounded man who moaned and collapsed. Then he hauled out the other man, keeping his own gun on him as Kimberly got out and came walking around. The standing man had his hands up and was licking his lips nervously. Kimberly said, "Who do you work for?" They were Latinos.
"The Puyanas," he answered. Kimberly looked at Krycek who nodded.
Alex said, "Were you after me or her?"
When he didn't answer Krycek walked over to the wounded man and put his gun in his mouth. Alex looked up.
"They know you work for Langland. Don't hurt my brother."
Krycek said, "How did you know what flight I was on."
The man answered, "We've just been watching the airport. They figured you'd be back."
Alex nodded and pulled the trigger.
"Dios Mio!" the standing man cried out and lowered his hands. Kimberly kicked and he fell moaning to the ground.
Alex came over and knelt down and held his bloody gun to the man's face.
"Alex.." Kimberly said warningly. He glanced up at her.
Krycek said, "Take us to the Puyana brothers. They owe me a new rear window for the one you shot out."
"What about my brother?" the man said fearfully.
Kimberly said, "He isn't going anywhere. Maybe you can come back later for him if you do what you're told. Come on. I'll ride with you again. Let's pay a visit to these Puyanas."
"Jesus!" Krycek said. He and Kimberly, with the man wedged between them had came to the house their prisoner said was the headquarters of the Puyanas. The door was unlocked. Kimberly had an amused expression on her face and just casually walked inside.
The walls were covered in blood. Three heads were arranged along a counter with flowers in their teeth. The headless bodies were on stools in front of them. Six other bodies in various degrees of dismemberment were also arranged about the house as if they were playing cards, doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom.
"That's my girl," Kimberly said with a laugh.
Krycek felt queasy. Indicating the heads, Alex said to the prisoner, "Rafael, Jose and Jorge Puyana?"
The man nodded and began to shake.
Alex said, "Hey." When he looked up Alex hit him in the throat and he fell choking. "He saw me kill his brother," Alex said to Kimberly who had an inscrutable expression then nodded in the direction of the door. Kimberly and Krycek quietly made their way out of the house. They carefully wiped down the Bronco for Kimberly's fingerprints then sped away in the Ferrari.
Both Alex and Kimberly were breathing hard as they reached his apartment. Their lips were locked together as they tore off their clothes and didn't even make it to the bedroom.
Ahmat was studying Langland. He knew what was coming. It was just a matter of time. Now might be it. For weeks his genius employer had been getting more and more quiet. He'd taken to staring blankly out windows or at walls instead of corrupting foreign politicians, studying oceanographic charts, or writing articles under one pseudonym or another for one of a thousand scientific journals. Ahmat had been debating how to handle it.
Langland was sitting behind his desk looking out the thick bulletproof plate glass window. He spun around and looked at Ahmat who had put down his ever present crossword puzzle and seemed to be waiting.
"You're too smart for what you do, Ahmat. Why aren't you more ambitious?" Langland asked.
The man said, "Why should I want the headaches you have? I'm surprised you don't have ulcers."
Langland glanced away. Ahmat laughed. "I thought so. I should be like you and burn out my stomach lining with stress? I don't think so."
Langland smiled slightly, "You don't think you're in a high stress occupation?"
Ahmat said, "Not like you are. I'm not carrying the world economy and geopolitical stability, or lack of, on my shoulders. I just kill who I have to, go home and sleep like a baby...unless somebody tries to kill me. I'm a light sleeping baby."
Langland shook his head sadly. "I'm gonna pay you off, Ahmat. Want me to deposit your money somewhere or just write you a check for twenty-million dollars."
Ahmat said, "Just like that? You're going to let her kill you, just like that?"
"She won't kill me. We'll get back together," Langland said.
"Bullshit. She's kept up a steady stream of those little jokes. Bullets for me to push you out of the way off. Bombs for me to intercept. Even that ridiculous poison snake. Did she see that in a Fu Manchu movie or something?"
"Yeah. Revenge of Fu Manchu, I think," Langland said nostalgically. "Pretty funny, you've gotta admit."
"Poison snakes are no joke where I come from," Ahmat said. "You know her and you think she's going stop fooling around now. She's going to really come after you and you'd rather die than let me save you by killing her."
Langland said, "The only problem there, Ahmat, is your assumption you CAN kill her. But aside from that, you're right. I don't want to take the chance you can beat her. I can't hurt Jilly."
"She intends on killing you, probably painfully, though I doubt she'd go through with that part of it. She'll just break your neck or stab you in the heart when the time comes," Ahmat said.
Langland shrugged in response.
Ahmat stood up. "Just write me a check. I'll stick around and keep you alive. I won't go after her."
Langland was mystified. "You're a professional. You've got your money. Move on."
Ahmat studied him. "I talked to Jilly right after you hired me, Langland. Did you know that? Stupid question. Of course, you did. Anyway we talked a little about you and why she didn't believe you. Jilly says you don't understand loyalty. She knows you love her in your way but you can't understand how she feels about Paulie."
"That's ridiculous. I completely understand how she feels. That's why I hired you," Langland said with irritation.
Ahmat shook his head. "I know what she meant now. You understand in your head how she would feel. But you don't really feel it. You don't feel anything except when it comes to Jilly, and maybe science. The only reason you wouldn't kill Paulie is that Jilly told you not to. Maybe you were even going to ask her to carry it out for you. That he had worked for you for years and trusted you would just make him easier to get to."
"So?" Langland said.
"So, you hired me to keep you alive and aren't thinking clearly now, which I'm sure is a new experience for you. I intend to protect you because I'm a professional and you paid me. It's not something you can understand. Don't worry about it. If it comes to letting you die or killing Jilly, I promise I'll let you die. It's the only human thing about you and I wouldn't take that from you."
Langland studied the big man then he said, "Okay. Thanks."
Ahmat sat back down and picked his crossword puzzle back up. "You're welcome, Langland."
Ahmat stood up quickly. Langland was still lost in the article he was writing about recent advances in carbon dating techniques. Without a word Ahmat reached across the desk and picked Langland up and ran with him to the office door, slamming it behind them as the entire building shuddered and the reinforced door buckled. Langland picked himself up from where Ahmat had dropped him. He ran a hand through his long hair and looked curiously at the door and at his bodyguard. The big man was listening carefully. He drew a small gun and yanked the door open after a few tries and looked inside seeing what he expected. A small plane had crashed through the window behind Langland's desk and now was wedged inside. Ahmat carefully studied the cockpit and scanned the room, then put his gun away and walked closer followed by Langland who studied the shambles of his office.
Langland looked at the plane and said, "Remote controlled. It's not what I usually think of as Jilly's style."
Ahmat glanced at him. "Looks like she's finally stopped fooling around. Unless this also rates as a joke."
Langland smiled slightly. "Probably sorta both. She wouldn't be surprised you saved me, but also wouldn't have been surprised if it killed me. I think you were right. She's not trying to get me to personally torture. I'm really touched by that."
Ahmat looked at him. "Sending a plane into your office to turn you into a stain on the wall rates as a valentine?"
Langland said, "It does compared to what I've seen her do."
Mulder looked down at Helms sitting beside him. He was eating another hotdog covered in chili and onions. "Aren't you sick of those yet?" Mulder asked, putting a sunflower seed in his own mouth.
The old man finished it and smacked his lips. "No, brave one. I have simple tastes I must confess. I understand that Terrible Jilly is as fine at cooking as she is at killing, but that is too much for a simple servant like me. When I have the chance to sample mortal fare this is much more to my taste."
"Don't you eat usually?" Scully asked from the other side of Helms, feeling like an idiot.
The bald old man smiled at her and said, "Not in Tartarus, wise one. Only when I visit the world of mortals for my great lord. It has been several hundred years. The last time was during the Black Death and the food was terrible. That's what I remember most. I slew a company of soldiers and the manor they served, but I can't recall any details beyond that. But that foul concoction they were passing off as food...phew! Everyone who could cook had perished apparently."
Scully said, "1348?"
Helms answered, "1349, wise one. It was well underway when my kind lord sent me to do his bidding."
"Scully," Mulder said tensely.
She and Helms both followed his gaze. They were sitting on a bench not far from the food vendor and across from a bank. As they watched they saw four men march determinedly into the bank. All wore Halloween masks and carried guns and sacks.
"Brave ones..." Helms began to say, but they ignored him as they drew their weapons and began making their way across the street.
"Call 911! Tell 'em there's a bank robbery in progress and two FBI agents are on the scene," Scully shouted to a woman with a baby carriage looking fearfully at her.
Leroy was waiting for the others when before he knew it two guns were pointing at him and he was being hauled out of the car and handcuffed to the door. As the two plainclothes cops left to begin working their way toward the bank, Leroy saw an old man coming toward him. What the hell was this?
Helms studied the highwayman his charges had already apprehended so well. They were very brave and skillful he had seen, and operated under rules which required them to take risks he certainly thought were excessive. Anything he did for his wonderful lord Hades was an honor but protecting these fine young mortal watchmen was especially good since they had the hearts of heroes. Although neither had the skills to be a favorite such as Xena and her descendants, they nevertheless had noble brave souls and protecting them was a pleasure for an ancient demon such as Helms.
"Tell me of your accomplices inside. How dangerous are they?" Helms asked.
"Fuck off, you old fart! I don't say anything without a lawyer," Leroy said with disgust. He was thinking about what his wife would say when she heard he was arrested again.
Helms reached for the highwayman's hand which was shackled to the chariot. He let his own hand change back into a pincer and began squeezing. He was holding his other hand over the fool's mouth. Although it looked human it had the strength to rip his jawbone off.
"Answer me, dog. You don't know what pain is," Helms said with his usual ingratiating smile.
The two agents caught each others' eyes then went in the bank door quickly with their guns in the prescribed two-handed grip. Mulder glimpsed something moving quickly in his peripheral vision. The bank customers were all on the floor. "FBI!" Mulder yelled. A machine gun held by a tall man wearing a Darth Vader mask swept toward him, but before he could fire Mulder saw a hideous form leap on the man and tear the machine gun from his grasp. Mulder heard a shot from Scully and saw another robber fall. The two other bankrobbers were firing at the creature as it leapt from the mangled form of the one with machine gun at them. Scully witnessed the head of one man in a pirate mask seem to just collapse as a pincer closed on it. The other who had a Spiderman mask dropped his shotgun screaming as a tusk ripped his belly open.
Mulder and Scully watched as the hideous demon turned to look at them with its blood covered old man's face, then bounded away and out the door. The two agents carefully walked up to examine the bodies but there wasn't much for them to do now except wait for the regular police. They could hear sirens getting closer. The rest of the bank patrons were getting shakily to their feet, talking confusedly of what happened.
"Scully," Mulder said in a low voice, "I think we should just say it seemed a concerned citizen set his dog on 'em and then ran away. We can't say Hades sent a demon to protect us. They'll lock US up."
The small woman was looking at the mangled form of the first robber Helms had attacked. "I think you're right, Mulder," she said just as uniformed police burst in and yelled for them to drop their guns.
Hours later when the two agents finally emerged from the Police Station the old man was waiting by their car. "Hail, brave ones!"
Mulder said, "We had the situation under control, Helms." Scully was looking closely at the old figure.
Helms answered, "That may well be, but I learned they were most dangerous men and I am here to keep you from harm. I did my duty just as you did yours, oh noble ones." He spoke in a wheedling tone.
Mulder was going to say something else but Scully just said, "Yeah, sure, whatever. Let's go. I've gotta feed my dog and want to take a hot bath." She got in the driver's side. Helms and Mulder looked at each other and shrugged and got in the car.
Ahmat looked around the office he had prepared for Langland to move into. The bodyguard pressed his wristwatch and steel plate shuttered down over the windows. "All right," he said and Langland came sauntering in looking at the windows.
"Charming," Langland said. Ahmat glanced at him and frowned.
"It'll protect you from anything like that plane again. You've got a living apartment through there. You never have to leave. I'll start watching for atomic bombs," he said. "Oh, the Wanli sent an assassin after you."
Langland said, "They did? I always got along fine with Lin."
"She thinks without Jilly she can take you out. Just business," Ahmat said.
The handsome man sighed and said. "Have you done anything yet?"
"The assassin is dead. Another team might be somewhere though. Want me to go after Lin? Langland, are you even listening to me?"
"Do whatever you think is best, Ahmat," Langland said.
"Snap out of it! Jilly doesn't need to get to you. She's already killed you," Ahmat said angrily.
"You're right, Ahmat. Yeah, go kill Lin. Long as you're there take out Quan Chun and Li Shao Sho. It was probably their idea. Leave now," Langland spoke briskly.
Ahmat nodded and said, "That's more like it. I'll take care of the second team when I get back. Just stay here. Don't leave this room without me."
Langland said, "Goodbye, Ahmat."
The big man looked at Langland, something about the tone making him uncomfortable. "I mean it, Langland. Stay here."
Langland shrugged and said, "I heard you. You better get going."
Ahmat said, "Goodbye, Langland."
"What is it?" Alex asked Kimberly. She had stopped walking and was scanning the evening street.
"Not sure, yet. I feel something. Let's get a drink, maybe it'll come to me."
Krycek shrugged. He was tired of her constant drinking but his father had been an alcoholic. Maybe that was part of why he got along so well with her. He knew better than to get in an argument over it. She headed for the dive bar again. Alex smiled slightly following her. Kimberly had a self-destructive side that was fascinating.
They stepped inside the bar and both saw him simultaneously. Kimberly and Krycek caught each other's eyes. He said, "It has to be a trap." The woman didn't say anything but was carefully scanning the room.
"Let's say, hello," she finally said quietly to Alex. They walked over to the table where the handsome man was sitting alone with a drink with ice in front of him. He looked up with a smile.
"Ah, Alex, and my mother-in-law. When I learned you two were an item, I confess I was amazed. Please join me."
Krycek felt like he was walking on a tightrope. He looked around. Langland couldn't just be sitting by himself vulnerable in a bar. It wasn't only Jilly out to get him after all. Practically everyone who had ever had anything to do with him even remotely wanted to kill him. Alex counted himself in that. He was furious at finding himself in the middle as he had between Langland and Jilly. There was also the little matter that his arm had been cut off thanks to Langland's smokescreen.
Kimberly sat down and looked up at Alex. She could see how tense he was. She didn't blame him. Langland gave her the creeps and she was much closer to his level than an errand boy like Alex Krycek. "Have a seat," she said. Kimberly was sitting across from Langland but Alex sat beside him, where he could kill him in a second if Langland really was vulnerable.
The almost pretty man glanced over at Krycek ironically. "Alex, I told you before you should be on my side. If you take Jilly my body there's no telling what she'll do. Maybe reward you, maybe kill you fast, maybe kill you slow. She's a moody girl. Without me to calm her down who knows what kind of trouble she'll get in."
Kimberly picked up Langland's drink and sniffed it. "Since when did you drink whiskey? I thought a glass of chardonnay once a week was pushing it for you."
Langland softly smiled and took his glass back from her hand. "I'm surprised you haven't killed me yet, Kimberly. You've wanted to for years. Jilly's not here to stop you...she wouldn't even if she was."
"Where's Ahmat?" Kimberly asked. She didn't like this. Langland knew what his life expectancy was these days without his bodyguard. She hated him but that he would passively kill himself out of love for her daughter...it wasn't quite the Langland she had always wanted to cut into a hundred pieces. Kimberly looked at Alex and made a quick movement.
"What are you doing?" Alex whispered angrily. He had decided to just break Langland's neck. He'd worry about the witnesses later; just kill 'em all if he had to. But Kimberly had intercepted his prosthetic arm before it smashed into Langland's amused face.
"Not yet," Kimberly whispered back at him and released his wrist. He looked furious and she knew how he felt: just like she had when Jilly had stopped her from killing him. Langland was sipping his drink calmly. He'd known what Krycek was doing but hadn't tried to stop him. Langland just didn't care anymore. Kimberly also knew how he felt. She'd never experienced that with Langland before. He had always seemed like he wasn't even the same species as far as she was concerned.
Kimberly heard the door burst open behind her and without hesitating she drew her Beretta 9 mm and rolled away on the floor. She fired twice and heard Krycek's gun bark three times. They got to their feet and looked at the three swarthy dead men with Uzis. The bartender and other patrons were scrambling out the door. Alex's heart was pounding. He looked at Kimberly who was studying the dead men. Alex looked back and saw Langland still sitting unconcernedly at the table. He sipped his drink, stood up and walked over.
"The Mossad, I imagine," Langland said easily.
"Israelis?" Kimberly said.
"They're Modi'in, Army Intelligence. I worked with Yuri once," Krycek said tensely.
Langland said to him, "That's right, Yakov was transferred over that stupid business about his wife's cousin. Relax, Alex. They were after me, not you. You were just carrying out my orders. You don't rate this." He looked earnestly in Kimberly's eyes. "You saved me, Kimberly. That's twice in just a couple of minutes." There was a mocking edge to his voice.
Kimberly looked at Alex who seemed like a coiled spring, with his eyes darting around and his gun ready. She turned back to Langland. "They were gonna spray the table. We didn't do it to save you."
Langland shrugged and said, "I know. But you still saved me. What would Cal say?" He finished the drink and went behind the bar and picked up a bottle. Kimberly walked over and took it out of his hand. He looked curiously at her.
She said, "If you're gonna start drinking at least do it right. This is crap." She put it back and found a bottle of Chivas Regal. "Here, Langland." She set three shot glasses out, filled them, and picked one up. Alex came over and took one. Langland smiled slightly and picked up the remaining shot glass. Krycek and Kimberly both threw the shots down. Langland followed suit and began coughing.
The dark woman looked at his red face. "Go back in your bunker, Langland. This isn't your style. I'll even make sure you get there okay."
Alex remained quiet watching the exchange. He knew he was out of his league.
The slender, too-good-looking man set the shot glass down and refilled it. This time he just sipped it. He looked at her ironically, "Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out."
"Let's go, Kimberly," Krycek said. She looked at him then back at Langland who was going back to his table with the shot glass and the bottle of Chivas.
"Yeah, okay. Goodbye, Langland," Kimberly said.
Langland sat down and just waved at her. She and Alex left the bar and began walking back in the direction of Alex's apartment. They could hear sirens coming to investigate the shots, but they turned and stepped into shadows and watched as two cars came screeching up and five Asian men ran into the bar. Machine gun fire lit up the doorway. After a pause there was another burst of fire, then another. A moment later the men dashed out, got back into the waiting cars and drove off with squealing tires.
"Kimberly..." Alex said. He was looking at her face, not being able to read her expression.
"Come on, let's get outta here," she said abruptly.
Three squad cars arrived simultaneously and the officers waited outside a moment assessing the situation then went into the bar fast with their weapons drawn.
They relaxed when they saw it was all over apparently. Three dead males in their twenties and thirties, possibly of Middle Eastern extraction, were just inside the doorway, and another dead male of indeterminate age across the room. He was shot up so bad it was hard to see anything but that he had longish brown hair and was slender. No way to tell if he'd been good looking or ugly as a toad. An unarmed Caucasian female in her twenties was sitting there holding his head in her lap like he was asleep. She was stroking his hair. His blood was all over her elegant white dress.
The cops looked at each other. The sergeant nodded at a female officer. A lot of times they were better at dealing with stuff like this. Officer Janet Johnson holstered her weapon, though the other officers kept theirs trained on the woman.
"Honey, Honey..." the black policewoman said, carefully approaching her. The woman looked up at her. "Can you tell us what happened here? Who did this? Is this your husband?"
Pallas Athene looked up then back down at her favorite. She answered calmly, "No, he is not my husband. I am a chaste goddess. His enemies did this. He had many enemies but he could have outwitted them as always if he had cared to. You mortals live in so much pain..so much pain." She rose and picked the limp bloody form up like it was weightless.
"Put him down, ma'am. We'll take care of him for you," the Officer said. She'd seen stuff like this before. People crazy with grief, refusing to give up their loved one's bodies. Dogs would do that too with their dead masters. She was shocked at what the woman said.
"You have a fine heart, Janet Johnson. But you have it backwards. I am the mistress and Langland my loyal dog. He was my sly dissembler, as fine as in his way as Odysseus or the Warrior Princess. I've lost him twice now...my beautiful man. He wanted me to save him before but I could not. This time I could but he did not want it."
"Put him down, ma'am," Officer Johnson repeated.
The woman looked at her and the policewoman had never seen such perfect features or such deep gray eyes that seemed to bore into her soul. She said, "Be sure to wear a bulletproof vest tomorrow. You will need it. Farewell." The elegant woman and the bloody corpse she held seemed to shatter into a thousand mirrored shards which tumbled away in all directions.
"Shit!" "What the fuck!" "Christ!" the police officers exclaimed.
Mulder answered his cell phone and waved Scully over as he listened, finally saying, "Yes, sir. No, it wasn't what I wanted either but it's no loss. All right." He slipped his phone back in his pocket and said, "Langland's dead."
Scully said, "Jilly?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. He was in a bar and got shot and a mystery woman took his body. Witnesses say a man and a woman matching the description of Kimberly and Krycek killed three men with Uzis in a shoot out. Who the hell knows what's going on?" Mulder replied.
Helms had approached them as Mulder was speaking. He said, "Terrible Jilly did not kill King Langland. He was slain by other enemies, barbarians from the land of Chin."
"How do you know that?" Scully asked.
"My kind master informed me of it. He warned me to be vigilant as Jilly's actions cannot be anticipated," Helms said. "She is most dangerous."
"We already know that," Mulder said.
Helms looked up at him. "No you do not, brave one. What you have witnessed is nothing to what she is capable of. Crafty King Langland restrained her and softened the Queen's hard heart."
"What do you mean? What might she do?" Scully asked.
The old man shrugged and said, "I am a mere servant and cannot predict the actions of one so high above me. The Queen may be overcome with grief and do nothing, she may seek solace in drink as her mother, or she may avenge Langland by slaying everyone in the land of his killers."
Mulder said, "China? There's over a billion people. That's absurd. She's just a gangster."
"Brave one, she is Jilly the Butcher, who delights the heart of the God of War. What you have witnessed here and find so fearsome are diversions which she did merely as entertainment. She had no need to be a criminal. It was nothing but play to her. But she may well stop playing now that Langland is dead. She may drown the world in blood.
"My god," Scully said. "We have to do something, Mulder."
"Wise one, there is nothing you can do. Great Kimberly would have killed you if not for Hades. Jilly is even more dangerous. I would advise you to avoid her for the time being. You were seeking to incarcerate Langland and her after all, and her temper may well be short."
Charlie was nervous. He knocked on the office door and stepped inside. Jilly looked up from the restaurant supply catalogue she was reading and said, "What is it?" Then more intently as she saw Charlie's face. "What?"
Charlie put the newspaper in front of her. He had been sure to keep the door open. Jilly looked at the page three story. "Financier Presumed Dead. Body missing in bizarre circumstances." Jilly read the short piece then looked up at Charlie. "It's probably just one of his tricks."
"Yeah, Jilly. You'd know, right? I just wanted to let you see it," Charlie said. He really wanted out of this small room. He nervously saw Jilly stand up and begin rereading the article. She was starting to weave. Charlie backed out of the room and closed the door. He began to run and nearly made it out of the restaurant before a pair of feet slammed into him.
"Jilly.." he said as she used his own weight to hurl him across the room, crashing over a table. Then she was sitting on his chest and Charlie felt a knife at his throat. "Honey...it wasn't me! I just brought you the paper." The whites showed all around her brown irises and she had that demented smile and Charlie began praying inside. But then the knife moved away from his neck and Jilly stood there weaving again.
Finally she said, "Sorry, Charlie." She helped him up and brushed him off. "Lemme give you a new car. I shouldna' done that. You okay?"
Charlie was shaking and bruised but he said, "I'm okay, Jilly. Sure, I can use a new car."
She patted his shoulder and walked back to her office unsteadily. "Go pick one out. Anything you want. Go crazy. Get a overpriced sports car if you want." Her voice was choked. "But not a Corvette, okay?"
"Okay, Jilly. Honey, I'm sorry..."
She didn't answer but just closed her office door.
Kimberly said softly, "Remember how I said you were moving up the food chain, Alex? Well, you're about to meet a big fish."
Krycek followed her gaze and saw an attractive dark haired young woman had come into the restaurant where he and Kimberly were having breakfast. She walked over and sat down with them. She was conservatively dressed in black and Alex noticed a small gold pin of an owl. The waitress approached and refilled his and Kimberly's coffee but acted as if she didn't even see the newcomer who was studying him and Kimberly with gray eyes.
"Happy now, oh noble Kimberly?" she said in a melodious voice finally.
Kimberly sipped her coffee, wanting to put some whiskey in it but not in front of her. "Not really. I would rather Jilly personally killed him when he was poisoning babies or something. Langland's punishment for Siegfried was much better."
"You would think that," Athena said calmly. "You could have made peace between Langland and your daughter. You are the only one. Instead you chose to let it play out, chose to let my innocent favorite be destroyed."
Kimberly said, "Yep, that's what I did all right."
Alex felt something awful. It seemed as if the table became liquid for a moment and the walls and ceiling shimmered and could just come crashing in on them. He saw anger in those gray eyes but the face was still calm.
"Show proper respect. I am not my brother. He enjoys consorting with mortals, allowing them to speak freely. I do not. It was as a peacemaker I requested my uncle bring you here. I foresaw the illness of Jilly's servant and knew she would blame Langland. Hades refused to instruct you, however, or allow me too, either; perhaps finding entertainment in my discomfiture, as if he were holding water just beyond reach of a thirsty man; perhaps he had another motive. It would have been a service to your daughter who loved my favorite. But your selfish hatred was more important. You are no better a mother to Jilly than you were to the son you abandoned."
Kimberly was stricken. "Jilly is better off without him!"
"Convince yourself of that, fearsome Kimlee. Your liquor should help," the goddess answered.
Athena looked at Krycek. "There is more to you than appears. Hades has an interest in you I have not divined yet." She caught his eyes and looked into his angry conflicted soul. "What would you do for the return of your arm?"
Kimberly was horrified. She tried to speak but was paralyzed.
Krycek licked his lips and said, "I would do anything."
Athena reached over and laid a hand on the shoulder of his missing limb. She said, "I accept." She stood up and looked down at Kimberly who found herself able to move again. "Think of me when your plaything strokes your white breasts with his new hand."
"Wait!" Kimberly said in terror as a thought hit her. Athena looked at her and there was a slight smirk on her perfect lips. "What will Jilly do?"
The goddess said, "That has finally occurred to you, has it? When Xena went mad with grief to become the Bitch of Tartarus, it took Ares thousands of years to find you to set things right. Jilly is no Xena, however. As you know yourself she is far more dangerous. Farewell, Kushranhara."
Ahmat whirled around and studied the figure who had just appeared behind him in his apartment.
"Jilly," he said to the ghostly figure with wild eyes and a twitching mouth.
"You were supposed to be protecting him," she said in a disjointed voice.
"He wouldn't let me. He sent me away and went out alone. Langland knew what he was doing. He always did."
The slight blonde figure weaved slightly. "You were supposed to protect him but the Wanli got him. Shot him to pieces. The cops said he was...he was...she came to get her boy, I guess." Her voice trailed off.
Ahmat jumped aside and avoided the rapid fire of bullets from the little Beretta. She stopped firing and began reloading the weapon. "Very nice, Ahmat. Very, very nice. Why couldn't you do your job that well?"
"I did my job as well as he'd let me."
The slight blonde figure weaved some more then jumped and Ahmat barely avoided the lethal kick. He caught her with a body blow that broke her left collarbone and a kick that sent her reeling back then he found himself on the ground with two broken legs and Jilly on his back, holding the gun to his temple with her right hand. Her left arm was hanging limp.
"Not bad. You're as good as Xena or my mother. I'd stay away from Angela and Kush if I were you though."
Ahmat prepared to attack her again but she jumped away anticipating it and said, "Don't...I'm leaving. I was afraid you'd sold him out."
"You were the one trying to kill him. You were why he needed me," Ahmat said.
She began weaving again slightly and said with a giggle, "Haven't you heard it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind?" It sounded to Ahmat like a totally different person speaking. Her eyes were wide and and blank looking. Jilly said in a girlish voice "Gotta go. I have places to go and people to kill.." With a wave she left by his front door. Ahmat pulled himself over to a phone and called an ambulance.
The pale slightly stooped man with a lined face looked at the others as they came in the room. They were grim. He smiled slightly as he lit another Morley.
"Do we know what has happened?" the heavy man said. He looked around at the others. "Well? The world money markets are in a shambles. Areas that we all thought were stable have erupted in violence. Even simple communications and transportation is disrupted and food riots are imminent. It is as if some cohesive force has simply disappeared. Well?"
One of the others looked at the smoking man and said, "What are you smirking at? Does this amuse you?"
He took another drag and said, "Was I smirking? No, the situation does not amuse me. But you all do. You want to know what is different? Langland is dead. That is what's different."
"This is no time for your paranoia!" the well dressed man said harshly.
"You are all fools. We could have prepared for this eventuality but you would not listen to me. Well, so be it. Truthfully, I am amused by what is happening now but only compared to what may be coming."
"Explain yourself," the heavy man demanded.
"There have break ins at armories around the world. You should be receiving word any time that one of our nuclear submarines is missing along with the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga. In addition, fifty F14 Tomcat fighters have disappeared, ten Stealth bombers, along with two-thousand SAM missiles, five-hundred SCUDs, and any number of experimental prototype weapons. That is all in addition of course to the large numbers of conventional weapons stolen from armories including tanks. NATO and Russian armories have also been raided."
"My God! And you're only telling us now?" the well dressed man exploded.
"Who is behind this? Is it somehow related to the breakdown we were discussing earlier?" the heavyset man said.
"Yes, it is related. I confess I underestimated Langland...though that was your fault for preventing me from adequately monitoring him."
"Get on with it. We don't need to listen to you saying 'I told you so'!" another man who was usually quiet said grimly. The man took another puff of his cigarette and said, "Jilly Snopes."
"Langland's mistress or whatever she is? What has she to do with it?" the well dressed man said.
"You've never even read any of the memos I've sent you. I see. She is raising an army. Precisely what she intends to do with it is questionable, however. She may not know herself. Mental stability is nothing she's ever been accused of. Killing thousands with her own hands, being a tactical genius, being an expert with a hundred different weapons, oh, and at torture: yes; but being stable: no. Mulder considers her a paranoid schizophrenic though I think that is going a bit far. At any rate, with Langland gone she may be seeking comfort so to speak by doing what she knows best."
"That is ridiculous! She is nothing but a criminal. This is serious and you are the one who is unstable!" the well dressed man said.
The cigarette smoking man said, "Yes, I anticipated you would feel like that. She will soon show herself. When she does call me if you wish, though there is nothing any of us can do. It is already too late. The other forces Krycek may have aligned with are my only hope. We shall simply have to watch what unfolds. Possibly the end of the world we have all known and a new dark age of rampant violence and warlords. As I said, the Snopes woman may seek comfort in the familiar."
"We cannot be distracted from the alien colonization plans by this fantasy," the heavy man said.
The cigarette smoking man said, "I doubt very much you will need to worry about that any longer. It bore all the trademarks of a diversion by Langland. Jilly the Butcher does not seek her goals in such roundabout ways. Goodnight. Call me when you need me." He left the room.
The gray clad men looked at one another. "Could he be right?" one said.
"Of course not!" the well dressed man said too forcefully. The others looked at him, hearing the uncertainty.
The huge figure in a rumpled suit came walking up to the tent and stepped inside. "Jilly," he said slurring his speech. The left side of his face had a drooping quality. The woman dressed in tan military khakis at a small table and studying reconnaissance pictures looked up.
"Somebody to see you. Lotta brass and shit on their chests."
"Bring 'em in. No wait," she said.
The woman came walking around the table to look at Paulie's face with concern, "You taking your medicine, Paulie? And eating like they said?"
"Ah, Jilly. It tastes like crap! Your dad never ate like that."
"And where's Cal now? Do what I say, Paulie. Don't make me lock you up and feed you."
The big man looked nervously at her, "You wouldn't do that to me would ya, honey?"
The fear in his voice made Jilly wince. That was new since his stroke. She straightened his tie. "Nah, Paulie...I'd never do that. Please, take care of yourself though, huh? Now go get General Wilson and his aides "
"Okay, Jilly," the big man said and lumbered off.
Major General Wilson representing the Joint Chiefs along with three lieutenant colonels followed the hulking man. This was absurd. He seemed like a retarded fighter out of some old movie. However, the rest of the men and women they saw weren't absurd. They were disciplined troops of many different nationalities. A jet flew by overhead and one of the colonels looked up and frowned, recognizing it as a US Navy fighter.
In the tent the men took their hats off and waited. Jilly smiled at them. "Hello, Gentlemen. What can I do for you?"
General Wilson said, "We demand the return of the US military equipment you have stolen. You will pay the consequences if you do not comply."
Paulie exploded, "Don't talk to Jilly that way, faggot!"
Jilly said sharply, "Paulie...wait outside!"
The big man had been about to attack the general but froze, then mumbling to himself lumbered out of the tent.
"Sorry about that. He's been with me a long time. Well, General, is that all you came to say? Because you wasted your time coming here if you did. As for me stealing ...a fine sword is made to be used and the best swordsman should have it. Since I was able to take the Ticonderoga and the rest, it's mine by right. If you can take 'em back you'll show you deserve 'em. We are at the basis of everything here, General. When you get down to it, might makes right. Believe me, General, that's the basis of civilization. I know, I was there. Not that I consider what we have now real civilization. Not compared to Athens or Corinth. But I'm gonna do something about that."
"You're a madwoman who will bring nothing but destruction on yourself and anyone following you," the general said frigidly.
Jilly smiled but the corner of her mouth was twitching slightly, "Really? You know, Paulie had a point. I don't like your tone. My mother would have cut your head off by now. Callisto would probably hang you over a fire for talking like that to her. But I'm not like that...at the moment, anyway."
Collingswood was assessing the situation carefully. He wasn't really a staff officer. If there was an opportunity to eliminate her he should take it. Before he could make a move the woman he towered over just walked up and poked him in the chest with her index finger.
"Listen, I actually have a lotta respect for somebody who would accept a suicide mission. You must figure on being killed after you do me. You're outta your class though and whoever sent you had his head up his butt." She looked at General Wilson. "You maybe? That's brave itself. Stupid but brave. Kinda like Paulie. You wanna kill me, the only one'd who'd even have a chance is Ahmat. He'd know not to meet me one on one now, and he's not half crazy like I am. I'm telling you that to make things interesting."
Collingswood struck down at her and the others also jumped for her. He found himself on the ground. Both of his shoulders were dislocated. He looked around and saw the others were unmoving and had staring eyes.
Jilly said, "You guys are okay...real Spartans." She studied the man grimacing in pain, then said, "I'm not gonna kill you. Tell 'em what I said about Ahmat. He's the only one. Well, he's the only one you guys can get. Things could get real interesting if...never mind." She loudly called out, "Hey, Paulie..bring some body bags." Jilly said to the man. "I'm gonna let you take your comrades back. Be sure their families know they died well."
The CIA assassin said through gritted teeth, "Who, Jilly? Who could make it real interesting?"
Jilly smiled at him as she grabbed one arm then the other and snapped his shoulders back into their sockets, ignoring his cries of pain. She answered, "My brother's girlfriend, Angela, or else his best boy, Kush. Now THAT would be interesting."
Mulder was walking down an empty hallway in the Bureau. He sensed a movement and looking over saw Helms had pushed a tall figure against a wall. Mulder said harshly, "What do you want?"
The man looked ironically down at the old figure holding him with an inhumanly strong grip. He took his time lighting a cigarette and said, "Impressive, Agent Mulder. I suspected you might come in contact with the same forces as Krycek in your pursuit of him. Introduce me to your little friend, why don't you."
Helms smiled and said in an ingratiating tone, "Do not speak of me like that. I show respect to those who deserve it. But you are not such a one." With that the apparently old man flung the cigarette smoking man against the opposite wall where he fell in a heap.
Mulder began to say something but Helms said, "I will not injure him, brave one. He needed to learn some manners." He looked back at the man awkwardly getting to his feet and staring coldly at him.
Mulder said, "I've been wanting to do that for years. Thank you, Helms."
The old man beamed up at him. "You are welcome, brave one."
The tall man brushed himself off, stepped out the cigarette he had dropped and lit another. He didn't speak for a moment, then said, "Jilly Snopes is loose. If I was a religious man I'd start looking for the other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I also know if there is a way to stop her it will be with the help of whoever or whatever sent this thing here."
"I warned you, dog," Helms began to say then stopped and seemed to be listening. He glared at the cigarette smoking man but did not speak.
Mulder looked curiously at him but the cigarette smoking man smiled slightly. "Yes, I thought so. They are interested. Should I be speaking to you and not my young friend here?"
Helms said, "I haven't disliked one so much since the Gudean, Gagrathelusha, insulted my mother and sought my position serving my great lord."
The smoking man said, "You had a mother, Helms? Did she also look like something an animal vomited up?"
Mulder looked nervously at the bald old man whose face had gotten red and was opening and closing his hands which momentarily had an amorphous appearance.
Helms said, "Enjoy taunting me. My master forbids me harming you for the time being. That may change. One greater than me will come to you." Helms walked stiffly away, as if he didn't trust himself.
The smoking man said to Mulder. "We are on the same side now. Amazing, isn't it? It's finally happened. Speaking of mothers say hello to yours for me." He walked away down the hall.
Sarah Weinstock stood on her back porch looking perplexed at the clear sky. This weather was insane. It was all over the news that tornadoes had been tearing a path of destruction through Nebraska but this sure didn't seem like tornado weather to her. She could hear far off thunder or something too, and even see flashes in the horizon. They were all supposed to be in their tornado shelters but after a few hours it just seemed ridiculous, so most everyone had come out. They were still careful though and not going far. She called out, "William! Susie! Don't go far!"
William called back, "Okay, Mom. We won't." He was ten. Susie was five and waved at her, holding her brother's hand.
Then Sarah heard it, a roaring coming closer. It didn't sound like any tornado she'd ever heard of but she said, "Get back in the shelter kids!" She ran to open up the door to the underground room. Looking up she saw the roaring sound was coming from several planes flying overhead. She was relieved but when one of them broke formation and began coming toward them she was perplexed. Then to her disbelief she saw something shoot out from the plane. She had seen movies and knew what missiles looked like. "Kids!" she screamed just as her house exploded.
In the lead plane Jilly said, "Nice shot, Jack." Below where there had been a structure and some targets moving around, now there was just a smoking crater. "Jack, you and Arlene, head over to Franklin. I don't want a telephone pole left standing or a dog left alive."
"Yes, Commander," a voice answered and two planes veered off.
Jilly said, "The rest of you, get ready. We're going into Lincoln, now. It's a population center so after we drop our payload we'll come back in for strafing runs. The ground troops will be along to finish the cleanup."
The cigarette smoking man frowned as he approached his simple home in Connecticut. He looked around, sensing something.
He turned and sauntering toward him was a tall redhaired woman with freckles and wearing a long black leather coat. She stopped and seemed to be studying him with an ironic expression in her pretty, cold, green eyes. "Yes."
"Helms wants to shove a red hot pincer up your ass. What'd you say to him? He doesn't take the job personally."
The man dropped the cigarette he was holding and stepped it out. He took another Morley out but before he could light it the woman was holding a lighter for him. He nodded his thanks, took a drag and said, "I just asked a question about his mother."
The woman grinned and said, "And you knew at least somewhat what Helms is right?"
He shrugged. "No point in letting the help get uppity."
The woman licked her lips as she looked at him like he was a cut of meat she was considering buying. She said softly, "You're a real motherfucker. I like that. Not too many of us around who don't even try to put a pretty face on it. I'm Angela. Screw with me or my boss and you're dead. I'm no Helms either. You piss me off and Sam tells me to leave you alone...I'll still kill you. We understand each other?"
He smiled thinly at her. "Perfectly. Who do you work for? Who is Sam?"
"Lemme give you a hint. The blood is the life."
He froze for a moment then took another puff. "Good Prince Samuel."
Angela smiled and said, "It's been a while since anyone's called him that. They usually just call him Lord Progenitor these days."
"What does Lord Progenitor mean?" He asked.
Angela licked her lips again and said with a purr, "Sorry. You don't have clearance. I'm sure you understand."
Alex was sitting beside Kimberly at a table. After what happened last time she had finally given up on her favorite dive bar. Somebody would be sure to remember them from the shooting and call the cops. Krycek looked around. This place was even worse. They could get shot here in the crossfire between drug dealers or pimps. He never went to places like this unless the job required it. He did what he did partly so he could afford to live well and own nice things. Kimberly had told him she used to be into all that, designer clothes, the works. She was in a new phase now. She said it ironically but Alex could tell she was telling the truth. She wasn't forcing him to hang out with her. He kept thinking he should put as much distance between them as possible, but then he just found himself still with her. Kimberly seemed like a lightning rod for trouble. Of course, she also knew some very interesting people. He looked one more time at his new hand. Whatever that scary little woman from the restaurant wanted, he would do it gladly.
Kimberly glanced over. Alex was checking out his hand again. She frowned but what was there to say? He'd sold his soul to the devil but he was already as bad as they come. What difference did it make? Athena wouldn't ask him to do anything he hadn't already done worse. She was a class act after all. If Athena wanted to screw with her she might tell him to kill her, forcing Kimberly to kill him. Or she might order him to do something bad that would also force Kimberly to stop him. That seemed kinda small time and petty for Athena though. Maybe she just wanted to screw with Hades by taking Krycek away from him. Her uncle obviously had plans of some sort for him. That could be it, Kimberly thought. She threw down another shot and sensed Alex's disapproval. He actually cared for her, it seemed, and liked less and less seeing her get hammered. One more thing to feel crappy about and drink to forget.
"Shit," she heard Alex say quietly. She looked up quickly following his gaze to see four figures had come in the bar and were looking around distastefully. Mulder, Scully, that chain smoking creep she'd been told about...and Angela.
"Don't try anything with the tall redhead, Alex, no matter what," she said quietly as they spotted the two of them and came their way. Krycek looked at her hearing her tone.
"Angela...it's been a while," Kimberly said.
Mulder and Scully were tense and actually wished Helms were here. He had just shown up at Mulder's apartment with this tall woman and said his master had recalled him. "Farewell, brave one. Give my regards to the beauteous wise one."
"Okay, Helms," Mulder said. He had really come to like the old man or whatever he was. "Take care of yourself." Fox held a hand and Helms beamed up at him and shook it.
"Get lost, Helms. We don't have time for this," the tall woman said.
Mulder thought Helms would teach her some manners like he'd done with the smoking man, but instead the old man looked at her and said in a cringing tone, "Forgive me, exalted one." He quickly left the room.
Mulder looked at her. She was taller than he was. "All right, so you're Angela. Who are you besides that?"
The pretty freckled woman smiled slightly. "Oooh, you're a hero. Except you're not really. You got the attitude but not the chops. I'm here to help. Let's go pick up your frigid friend and Joe Camel. Then I wanna talk to Kimberly."
"Tell me what's going on first," Mulder said.
The woman softly laughed and Mulder found himself on his knees and in agony for a second. It went away when the woman did something with her hands to his neck. "Listen, hero, we're on the same side but I'm not here to protect you like Helms. And nobody's gonna rescue you like before. So do what you're told and don't ever demand anything from me. Helms has a soft spot for noble hearts. I just like to see how long it takes to make 'em squeal like pigs."
Mulder could hear something wet and excited in her voice. Angela was restraining herself he suspected. This was her on a nice day. "I can't endanger Scully," he said.
The woman's eyes lit up and she ran her tongue over her lips. Then she helped him up. "Like I said, I'm here to help."
"Okay," Mulder said, thinking he had pushed his luck as far as he could. Now the four of them were in a rough bar looking at Alex Krycek and Kimberly sitting at a table. Something seemed different about Krycek but Mulder wasn't sure what.
Angela smiled and took a seat as Scully did. Mulder and the smoking man grabbed chairs from another table. Angela said, "Hey, Mom."
All of the table looked at her and at Kimberly who frowned. She glanced around. "She's joking. I'm sorta her mother-in-law just like with Langland. Who are you working for, Angela?"
Alex was carefully watching the exchange. He felt a caution from Kimberly he hadn't before as she talked to Angela. Mulder was looking at him with hatred. Alex smiled and picked his beer up with his restored hand and saw Mulder's and Scully's eyes widen.
"I'm here from Sam...I'm not sure who he's getting orders from. This could be one of those joint operations," Angela said.
Kimberly nodded. "Makes sense. Athena and Hades sent me here but didn't bother telling me it was to save Langland. Now I'm supposed to feel bad for not figuring it out on my own. Friggin gods."
"What are you.." the smoking man began to say but stopped at the look both Angela and Kimberly gave him.
Angela said, "Yeah...Sam takes his regular marching orders from Bacchus, of course, and Ares hasn't told me not to help. So whatever that says. And with Sam getting involved the Slithlocs might be in it just to make sure he stays safe and sound."
"Slithlocs?" Kimberly said.
"Oh, you don't know about that. Sam's bigger than you know," Angela said with a smile.
"He seemed pretty big anyway," Kimberly said.
"Not like this," Angela said.
"That's what you meant when you called him the Lord Progenitor," the smoking man said, ignoring the cold stares he again received.
Mulder caught Scully's eyes. Lord Progenitor was a term they had run across in an X-File once involving blood sacrifices. He said, "The blood is the life," just to see what reaction it would bring.
Angela and Kimberly froze and looked at him. The smoking man said, "Yes, I see now. You should be happy, Agent Mulder. Many of your obsessions are coming to a head."
"Magic and little green men," Scully said with disbelief.
Angela grinned as she saw them all looking at her for answers. She said, "Not little green men; big scaly lizards. The blood angle is just for us though. Slithlocs don't care about that neolithic crap."
Kimberly said, "Maybe it's Sam himself behind it. If he's got that much juice maybe the gods are doing this for him."
Angela looked thoughtful and nodded.
Scully was remembering the history books Mulder had shown her. They had been looking at Jilly and Langland, but there were constant references to Jilly's younger brother who, although not a great soldier like Jilly or a genius like Langland, had eclipsed both of them. She remembered something else. "You're Captain Angela. Where's your thumbscrew?"
Angela smiled widely and reached into a pocket of the leather coat and came out with an article that resembled some sort of nutcracker. She said, "You should try it sometime, Doc. Might surprise yourself." With a chuckle she put the torture instrument, engraved with Prince Samuel's symbol, back in her coat.
"Will Sam be coming here?" Kimberly asked. She tried to keep the emotion out of her voice but didn't succeed and she felt the looks.
Angela said kindly, "Yeah. He wants to see you too."
Kimberly looked away, her eyes red. She felt like a fool, a guilty fool to be feeling this way. Like Athena had said, she was a lousy mother. She'd abandoned Sam when she flipped out that last time. She'd seen him once since and he forgave her, but she didn't forgive herself. "When?" she said.
"That I don't know. Depends on what happens, I guess. He's pretty busy after all. People don't realize what it takes to be Ming the Merciless, Emperor of the Universe. I sure wouldn't want the job. I'd rather do what I'm doing, crushing goodness and trying to kill Flash Gordon."
"You have a smart mouth, Angela. I still think somebody's gonna shut it for you one of these days," Kimberly said.
Angela smiled sweetly and stood up. She looked around the table. "I'll be in contact with all of you." She looked at the smoking man. "Call those dumbasses you work for together again. I'm here to coordinate forces against Jilly. Kimberly, you and your studmuffin are taking orders from me now. Check it out with Hades and Athena if you want." She looked at the two FBI agents. "I'm gonna try and get you two assigned to me. There's gonna be plenty for a couple of smart cops. It won't all be big battles."
"I can arrange for that," the smoking man said.
Mulder glared at him but Angela said, "You can? Good, that'll simplify things. Kimberly, try to cool it on the drinking a little, okay? Jilly's nobody to go up against with a hangover."
Kimberly said, "I'm not gonna fight my own daughter."
Angela said, "I won't send you directly against her. Gimme some credit. There's gonna be plenty of fighting to go around. Sam doesn't want her hurt anyway. He just doesn't want her destroying civilization and slaughtering a third of the world's population."
"You think you're gonna stop Jilly without killing her?" Kimberly said with disbelief.
Angela frowned then said, "Maybe it won't be possible. You stopped the Bitch, Kimberly. Sacrificed your friend Callisto to do it. Jilly killed more than the Bitch of Tartarus her first ten minutes, what with modern technology. I think she'll destroy all of her fancy hardware when she feels she can though. She wants to bring back the good old days. Sam knows I might have to kill her. He'd rather I not. I don't want to either; she's my sister-in-law after all. Plus she trained me just like you and Callisto trained her."
Mulder interrupted, "There's been fighting? Where? Why haven't we heard anything about this?"
The smoking man smiled and said, "Really, Agent Mulder, it surprises you the news has been suppressed? I thought conspiracies were your forte. It will only make the situation worse if people learn there is an insane military genius running amok. We estimate fifty-million dead in China so far, and another twenty-million worldwide. The Wanli, an organization on both Taiwan and the mainland, killed Langland, so she began there and has been particularly harsh. The Sword of Ares a.k.a. Kimlee was at her most savage in China, so there are nostalgic reasons as well."
He paused as Kimberly muttered something, downed her drink and slammed the glass down on the table. He looked curiously at her then got a look of realization. He continued, "The Chinese at first blamed Russia and launched quite deadly reprisals which naturally were returned in kind. Jilly has forces in Southern France, Austria, the Midwest and Florida. Something is happening in Brazil as well as East Africa but it is unclear what. She has been using nuclear weapons as well as conventional ones."
Scully said, "The storms, the tornadoes, the hurricane damage, the droughts...that's what you're using to hide it! My God! My God!"
Taking a drag on his cigarette, the man said, "The Ticonderoga may be making for Japan. Densely populated as it is, it would certainly be a tempting target, since maximum loss of life appears to be her goal."
Kimberly said quietly, "Is she crucifying people, burning 'em?"
Angela said, "No, she's not the Bitch of Tartarus. In Indonesia when some of her men tried to get creative like that she personally led a force in and exterminated her own troops. The people thought they were being saved and thanked her. Jilly said you're welcome left and dropped a bomb on 'em. That has happened other places too. When you start killing like this it's natural to wanna have fun with it, but she's trying to keep it clean."
Mulder said with distaste, "Atrocities are 'natural' and 'fun?'"
Angela slowly smiled as she glanced at him. Mulder sensed a movement and saw Kimberly was staring Angela in the eyes and shook her head. The freckled woman shrugged.
"What does she want? Does she have demands?" Scully said, wanting to defuse the tension. Scully wasn't anxious to see a demonstration of that thumbscrew on her partner.
Angela said, "This IS what she wants. She's been pent up for years, held back by Langland, not doing what she's good at. Now she is." She smiled. "Sorta orgasmic, really. She's trying to destroy modern civilization and go back to a simpler time."
"That's insane!" Scully said.
"Duh..." Mulder said.
Scully glared at him and continued, "Destroying the infrastructure won't bring back Antiquity, won't destroy modern civilization."
The smoking man said, "It depends how thorough she is willing to be. This may be step one. Step two may be targetting modern knowledge itself. Information is largely stored and disseminated electronically. If she can destroy the ability to create electricity on a world wide scale, if she can destroy libraries, etc. Step three could be hunting down individuals who persist in remembering. I am only speculating here, of course. Recreating Antiquity, I agree, is impossible but essentially destroying modern civilization is conceivable."
Angela smiled at him. "I'm surprised she hasn't offered you a job."
"What makes you think she hasn't?" he responded dryly.
Kimberly said, "This is my fault for not making peace between Langland and Jilly."
Angela said, "It's the friggin gods like you said. You got enough stuff that you are responsible for. Don't let'em psych you out over this." Kimberly looked up at her with surprise. Angela continued, "Say what you like about Ares. At least he doesn't play these sick mind games."
Kimberly muttered, "He plays other sick games. You got a point this time though."
The tall redhead looked around the table again with her glittering green eyes, smiled, turned and walked out of the bar with her long leather coat sweeping about her.
The smoking man rose and also left.
The table was awkwardly silent. Kimberly broke it and said, "I'm glad Hades stopped me from killing you. It was nothing personal. Since I said I would I had to do that." She heard Alex chuckle.
Scully and Mulder looked at her, rose, and left themselves. Kimberly looked over at Krycek who shrugged.
"Don't worry about it, Kimberly. Some people just don't have a professional attitude," Alex said.
Mulder and Scully had been told to stay out of this operation but that made them suspicious and they came anyway. Angela smirked but didn't say anything. There were three-hundred soldiers in the cavernous hangar. Angela and fifty men had come out of the plane the soldiers thought they were going to be getting on. Another hundred men had been hidden around the hangar. They all carried machine guns and the unarmed soldiers had their hands clasped behind their heads. Looking around Fox saw a shadowy figure in a car, recognizable by the glowing cigarette.
"Who's in charge?" Angela said harshly.
A middle aged black man in a US Army major's uniform said, "I am."
The tall redhead in her long black leather coat smiled at him but there was nothing friendly about it. "You're traitors. What about that, huh? You see how good Jilly is and just throw in with her? Is that it? You're elite; she's elite; screw your country. That it? People don't follow Jilly for ideals, not like with Sam. Figure on being King of Los Angeles when the dust settles or something? You were gonna set up a regular little boot camp for her, besides being a strike force. Be worth a lot and Jilly's not stingy."
The officer didn't answer. Scully and Mulder looked nervously at each other, not liking this. Scully said, "What provisions are there for prisoners? They need to be questioned."
Angela looked over with her pretty freckled face. "Prisoners? I KNEW there was something I forgot. These guys don't know anything I don't already have. But they can carry a message for me."
Mulder yelled, "NO!" as Angela brought the machine gun up and fired into the officer's chest just as he began running at her. The rest of her men opened fire into the other prisoners. Mulder ran up and tried to grab the gun away from her and found himself on the ground, having received the butt of it in his gut without Angela even looking at him. She continued firing, the noise deafening in the echoing hangar.
Scully pulled her own gun out and pointed it at Angela. "Stop it!" she yelled as loudly as she could in order to be heard but Angela ignored her.
The firing stopped a moment later. The tall redhead looked sardonically at Scully who was pale faced and still had her gun on her. The soldiers were all dead although they had managed to take twelve of Angela's men with them, and eight others were injured. The remainder now aimed their weapons at Scully.
Mulder got to his knees, then his feet. He put himself in Scully's line of fire. "Mulder! Move!" she snapped but he just walked toward her and put his hand on her gun.
"Scully," he said.
She looked around at the machine guns pointing at her and Angela smirking. Scully put her pistol back in it's holster. The men didn't take their guns off of her until Angela made a hand gesture.
Mulder looked back at Angela who was watching them with glittering green eyes. She took something from a pocket and walked to the body of the major she had killed and dropped it on him. She tossed them on a few other bodies as well.
"Let's go," she ordered and went to the car the smoking man was in and got in the back seat with him. The rest of her men ran to waiting cars, taking their dead with them, and soon Mulder and Scully were alone with the hundreds of dead bodies and the spreading blood. The two agents walked over to see what Angela had left behind and found black matchbooks embossed with a red logo.
Alex had just emerged from a phone booth when he was surprised to see Kimberly across the street. She was talking to a blonde woman a little taller than Scully. He hadn't told her where he was going but her finding him when she wanted to didn't surprise him. She was dressed differently in a sort of Diana Rigg leather number. He liked it. Alex walked up and lightly touched the small of her back. He found himself held up against a brickwall and Kimberly glaring at him. The few people on the street pointedly acted like they didn't see anything.
"Are you suicidal?" she said angrily.
Alex instantly understood this was a performance for the blonde.
"I mistook you for somebody else," he said. "Sorry."
She released him and looked at the little blonde. "Great...this again! Who is it this time? Meg, Diana, Leah? Or is there a new one running around?"
The blonde, dressed like a soccer mom, said in friendly voice, "Excuse us. We're new in town."
Alex nodded. "Sure. My fault."
Kimberly was studying him like she didn't trust him. She was good all right, Alex thought. She growled, "You're a killer. I can always spot 'em. Who did you think I was?"
"Kimberly," he answered, playing along.
"And just who is Kimberly?" she said.
"A friend of mine."
"People like you don't have friends," the dark woman said.
"Xena, by the Gods!" the blonde said. "Excuse her. She doesn't usually act this way."
At the name Alex tensed and the woman caught it. "Oh, my name means something to you. Why? No one would know me here; wherever 'here' is. Not unless there was a reason to."
Krycek was trying to imagine what her angle could possibly be when she grabbed him again and pushed him back against the wall.
"You still think I'm Kimberly. You two double team people all the time."
"That's right," Alex said, suppressing a smile. She released him with a disgusted expression.
"Take us to where you think I should be, if I wasn't running this scam with you now," the dark woman said.
The short blonde said, "Maybe it's a descendant, Xena. We're in the future, I bet. Look at those horseless chariots and these buildings. Gods! It has to be the future!"
The woman looked around. "Gabrielle, if they have horseless chariots and giant buildings like this, what kind of weapons do you think they have?" She studied Alex and just reached and took his gun from where he wore it in back under his coat. "This...this must be a weapon."
Alex was watching her carefully. He nodded. The woman snorted and replaced it. "What's your name?"
"Alex Krycek," he answered.
"Let's go, Alex Krycek. Oh, and, Alex Krycek, if you draw that weapon on me I'll shove it down your throat, just to be safe. I'll bet you know I can too, whether I'm Kimberly or not."
Alex nodded and said, "Follow me, Destroyer of Nations."
The little blonde had an intake of breath but the big woman smiled grimly.
Scully was stepping out of the FBI building when she frowned as she saw Kimberly and Krycek again down the street. There was a baby faced blonde with them too. She moved to intercept them. Krycek still had information on open cases even if her superiors had made a deal with him for his cooperation. She was also curious about his restored limb.
"Krycek, I want a word with you," she said abruptly as she caught up with them as they waited at a crosswalk.
Xena stopped to watch curiously what happened. The little woman had an edge to her that she associated with security officers. It didn't surprise her Alex Krycek was known and disliked by one. She realized the woman was directing the same kind of looks at her...thanks to Kimberly she assumed.
Alex flashed one of his handsome smiles. "Hello, Dana. What can I do for you?" The tone was meant to insult.
Gabrielle smiled and stepped forward, instinctively trying to defuse the situation. "I'm Gabrielle and this is Xena." She held her hand out.
Scully looked coldly at the outstretched hand. Xena wanted to smile. She wouldn't be too friendly to any companions of Krycek either. Finally the small redhead shook Gabrielle's hand preemptorily. Xena liked her already.
"Another alias, Kimberly?" Scully said frigidly.
"I'm not Kimberly," Xena said calmly.
"Yeah, sure, whatever," Scully said, not wanting to give her any satisfaction by arguing. "Krycek, what about your arm?"
"Somebody fixed it," Alex said, enjoying how much Scully hated not being able to slap handcuffs on him...or even shoot him if she had an excuse.
"What was wrong with his arm?" Gabrielle asked with concern.
"I only had one," Alex and flashed a grin at the small blonde.
Scully asked "Who fixed it?"
"Athena," Alex with a smile.
Scully saw Kimberly go rigid. The dark woman demanded, "What did she say?"
Alex looked at Kimberly. When she was acting she went all the way. He'd play along. "Asked what I'd do for a new arm. I said anything and she said it was a deal."
"That's wonderful!" Gabrielle exclaimed, missing the irritated look Xena directed her way.
Scully said suspiciously, "I'd like to meet this Athena."
"No, you wouldn't," Xena said seriously. The short redhead looked curiously at her then frowned when she remembered she didn't like her.
Xena grunted, looking at Krycek. There was more to him than it seemed. Had to be. Athena didn't go around helping killers. She wasn't like Ares after all. Xena had her problems with Athena but that didn't prevent her realizing the Goddess of Wisdom and Protector of Cities was the best of the Olympians. Xena was worried about her friend though. Gabrielle didn't get it about Krycek. She was falling for his good looks and charm and thought Xena was being unfair. He was like somebody Xena would have had as a lover in the old days, then sent to his death when he thought he was betraying her. She bet he was great in bed. Guys like that always were.
Scully was thinking about Hades . Why not Athena? The only way she could deal with all of that was to put it in a compartment and hope it was rationally explained somehow eventually; for example,she was crazy. That had occurred to her. But until then she had to act like what seemed real was real. What else could she do?
The door opened, Angela entered and looked around carefully. She stepped to one side and a tall blue-eyed man with long dark hair and a mustache came in tripping slightly. He appeared around thirty and was wearing a beautiful cream colored suit and a maroon tie.
He was followed by another tall man, this one with almond skin, straight blonde hair, massive shoulders, and wearing a long black leather coat like Angela. The men noticed another figure stationing himself outside the door before it closed. He was also in a long black leather coat.
The smoking man said deferentially, "Welcome, Prince Samuel," and inclined his head slightly.
The tall man smiled slightly in answer and looked around the room at all the grey clad white men, who were just watching him carefully.
The well manicured man stepped forward and said, "About time you got here."
The Prince glanced at Angela whose hand lashed out. The man made a choking sound and fell to his knees holding his hand to his throat which was pumping blood. Angela replaced her chakram in her coat, pulled him to his feet, and said to the smoking man, "Bring me one of those." She indicated some glasses beside a carafe of water on the large table.
Without a word he handed a clean glass to the redhaired woman. Angela bent the struggling choking figure over and let the glass fill with blood. Then she dropped him still twitching and what looked like a glass of tomato juice Prince Samuel. The Prince looked around at the men who were all pale and speechless watching him. He raised the fresh warm blood to his mouth and sipped as if he were evaluating it, then took a swallow. His lips were red before he licked it off.
"Let's try again," Angela said with a smile.
The heavyset man said in a whisper, "Welcome, Prince Samuel" and inclined his head. The others followed suit. Angela was leaning against a wall with her arms crossed; her fair face and red hair seemed almost to be floating above her black coat and against the dark wood wall.
Prince Samuel took a seat at the head of the table and said, "I'm very happy to be here, my friends. I wish it could have been under more pleasant circumstances. Please, be seated." He turned, "Kush..." he said quietly and indicated the body.
The big foreign looking man picked the corpse up, opened the door and tossed the body out. "Dispose of this, Laconius," he said in an accent none of the men in the room recognized.
Samuel looked around the table and said, "Jilly Snopes is my sister for those of you who don't know. I'm here to help you stop her. We need to begin military operations immediately, which is why I've come to you. Angela will coordinate that. It will take some time for me to bring the rest of the world into the struggle against my sister. When they do Kush will lead them. Any questions?"
A grim faced man said, "The Chinese and Russians will never cooperate with each other."
The Prince smiled. "They will when they see me. If need be I will depose their governments and rule them once more myself. Now, arrange a meeting for me with the President in six day for three AM here. I'm going to attempt to talk to Jilly before then. It may be hopeless but it is just possible she will abandon her plans when she realizes she will be fighting me."
"What if she kills you?" the smoking man said.
Prince Samuel sipped his cup of blood again before answering. "She won't. She'll make sure to never put me in danger."
"Don't get any ideas about holding Prince Samuel hostage against Jilly." Angela said with a smile. "She'd never fall for it. She knows I'd never stand for that. That's not even taking into account what the Slithlocs would do to anybody screwing with their Lord Progenitor. Right, Kush?" The blonde man nodded but did not speak.
The heavy man said, "And what if the president doesn't want to cooperate with you?"
Angela snickered. The Prince glanced at her with irritation and said, "I hope he doesn't make a mistake like that. I have a sentimental attachment to the United States and don't want to impale its leaders and create a new government. I will if I have to though. Democracy is a noble experiment, gentlemen, but it doesn't give people emotionally what a leader can. The people will support me if I make myself known. They have for three thousand years."
"You're crazy!" the heavy man.
Angela smiled and took a step toward him but stopped when Samuel held a hand up. He said, "I'll let that one go. Never talk like that to me again."
The heavy man was pale as he realized how close he had just come to dying. The others were looking at him like he was a fool. Just as he would if one of them had done something so stupid. They would never listen to him in the same way again.
The grim faced man said, "We understand, Prince."
Kimberly was watching Get Smart when she heard someone at the door and could tell it was more than one person. She turned the TV off, stood and watched as Alex, Xena and Gabrielle came in. Krycek looked surprised which was understandable. She watched Xena. Time traveling was a tricky business. Xena might see her as family or a rival, might be guilty about her, or might not even know her, depending upon where she had been grabbed from.
"You must be Kimberly. Do you know why we're here?" Xena demanded.
Answers that question, Kimberly thought. She said, "Save the world. Same old, same old."
Xena was studying the woman carefully. "Who sent you?"
"Hades. Ares probably sent you. He still thinks he owns you no matter what you feel about it."
Gabrielle said, "Why would Hades be the one to send you?"
Xena said, "Because she's dead, Gabrielle. Probably handles situations Helms isn't up to."
Kimberly shrugged, "Beats hanging out in Tartarus or the Elysian Fields. Of the two, I prefer Tartarus. More interesting group."
Xena jerked a thumb at Krycek. "What's trash like this doing with an agent of Hades?"
Gabrielle said, "Xena!"
Kimberly said dangerously, "He's my friend."
Xena looked from one to another, sensing she had gone too far. There was something vicious about the man that rubbed her the wrong way. She could see some of her old self in him.
Alex didn't say anything. He knew he was hopelessly outclassed. It was happening so often he was getting used to it.
Kimberly said, "Hades and Athena are both interested in him...just so you know."
Xena nodded. "Hades too? I heard about Athena. That's in addition to what you might do if I hurt him, I suppose."
Kimberly said, "That's right." She glanced at Gabrielle.
Xena scowled but before she could say whatever she was going to the bard stepped between them and said, "Can't we all just get along?"
Xena stopped and said, "Yeah. Good idea." Kimberly and Alex Krycek relaxed slightly.
Alex smiled at Gabrielle and she returned it. He sensed something and turned to see four pairs of similar cold blue eyes looking at him.
"Think, I'll be going. They gave me a new assignment, Kimberly. See you later," Alex said lightly.
"What kind of assignment?" Xena said suspiciously.
When Alex didn't answer, Xena stood up to shake it out of him but realized Kimberly had also risen. The warrior Princess glanced over and could feel the woman's readiness, even eagerness.
Kimberly nodded at Alex and said "Be careful out there."
Krycek gave all three of the women his charming smile and left. Xena immediately said, "Stay away from him, Gabrielle. He's murdering scum."
Before Gabrielle could say anything Kimberly said, "If anybody would know murdering scum it would be you, Xena. What's wrong? Scared he's gonna steal a piece of your pie?"
"I've had about enough of you!" Xena snarled at Kimberly.
"Stop it! Both of you! Xena, what's wrong with you?" Gabrielle exclaimed.
Kimberly sneered, "Alex reminds her too much of the old days. And she's afraid of what you might do if you ever get a taste of a real man instead of that twerp you were married to. You might discover there's more to life than carpet cleaning."
"What do you know about Perdicas? Don't talk about him like that! And what are you saying? I don't even know what you're talking about." Gabrielle said angrily. She could see the two warriors were barely holding themselves back.
Kimberly smiled at the bard. "Oh, you don't? Even better, Xena. You're pathetic!"
Xena hit Kimberly in the face sending her spinning around, but found a foot in her own face that she hadn't seen coming.
"All right, Xena! About time. I've wanted a piece of you for three thousand years. You're not the Bitch of Tartarus but you're close enough!" Kimberly's eyes were blazing.
Xena reached up and caught a dagger flying at her. She threw it back and it buried in the wall where Kimberly's head was a split second before. Then Kimberly was on her and sent her crashing against a wall with a combination punch and kick.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Gabrielle cried and put herself between the two big dark women.
"I just love a good catfight! Meeeowww...rowwrrrr...spit..spit!"
The warriors and Gabrielle froze at the new low voice and turned. He was in his usual studded black leather and grinned through his perfectly trimmed black beard. "Don't stop on my account. I can't wait till you tear each other's clothes off. Maybe I can get some mud in here."
"Ares..." Kimberly and Xena both said in similar tones of dislike.
He got a disappointed look on his face and disappeared in flame.
"What was that?" Gabrielle said, mystified.
Kimberly and Xena were looking wryly at each other. Kimberly said, "He wanted to make sure we didn't hurt each other. He just did it in the most obnoxious way he could find."
The bard looked at Xena questioningly. The warrior Princess said, "Yeah, I'd say that's it. We're not here to fight each other. You wouldn't let a horse you wanted to race get hurt would you? Same principle."
Kimberly said, "Let's get something to eat."
Jilly was directing the artillery and air support when a message came over the radio in a clipped tense voice and French accent. "White Queen, White Queen, this is Foxfire Two. Come in, White Queen."
"This is White Queen. Go ahead, Foxfire Two," Jilly snapped. They had been drawn from an elite regiment she had created made up of men from various Special Forces units. She had sent them to destroy a communications center and hopefully a good number of the most able generals fighting her. It wouldn't be easy but it was do-able, and they wanted tough missions. That's why so many Russian Blue Berets, American Green Berets, etc, had come over to her. Jilly had been a pinup for Soldier of Fortune for years. Her last recruits had never shown up though. There were unclear reports of an incident in an aircraft hangar.
"We have met unexpected resistance and are sustaining heavy casualties."
"What kind of resistance?" Jilly said, looking at aerial photographs as she grabbed a shoulder holster, preparing to personally go to the scene if she could pinpoint their location. Sounds of explosions and weapons fire came over the radio. Jilly held on listening, trying to piece together what must be happening. She heard crunching footsteps then breathing on the other end. Jilly finally said, "Who is this?"
"Well, well,...the White Queen. I just took your Frog Knight, Jilly, or was he just a Pawn?" a sardonic voice came over the speaker.
"Angela!" Jilly said. "Where's Sam?"
"He's around. Wants to talk to you. Get you to call it off. I told him it was a waste of time. Langland held you back just like Sam does me. Hell, if anything happens to Sam... But he thinks maybe he can reason with his big sister. Men...they just don't understand. Stand by your man and if somebody whacks him, destroy the world! I can dig it, Jilly. I might be the only one. Maybe we can get this all wrapped up in time so you can come over for Thanksgiving. Oh, Maurice Chevalier here has something to say to you."
Jilly heard a scuffling sound then the tense but disciplined voice of Foxfire Two's leader. He had literally been in the Foreign Legion. "The unit is no longer a viable force, General." He began to quickly say, "Coordinates 263..." but then he made a grunting sound and there were sounds of a scuffle.
Jilly's fingers were white as she gripped the phone, heard Angela laugh and say, "Nice try! I'm gonna make an example of you traitorous fucks, starting with you!" Jilly kept her face expressionless as she heard soft grunts, which broke out into yells, and finally screams of agony. She thought of her sister-in-law's thumbscrew and wondered exactly where she was using it; she didn't think that officer would have sounded like that from his thumb. When Angela's voice came back on Jilly could hear how turned on she was. "Unfortunately, I don't have time to give your boy the full treatment." There was a crack Jilly recognized as a pistol shot. "I heard you wanted me or Kush to show up to make things interesting. Lucky you. We're both here. Bye for now. I've got the rest of your men to say hello to. Thanks for sending them my way. Ya know, what's really cool, Jilly? I'm the good guy!" The radio went silent.
Jilly cursed and stood up in her command car as her driver dissolved in blood. She pushed his body out and began weaving the vehicle in and out of the incoming shells. She'd underestimated Ahmat. Jilly stopped the jeep and looked at her army which was having huge holes ripped in it by the incoming shells. Well, she'd asked for it. She wanted it interesting but was so arrogant she'd hadn't really anticipated that it would be. Ahmat was almost certainly a better general than she was. He was a lot like Kimberly. Jilly just used her tactical brilliance and personal ability to overwhelm her foes. Kimberly's victories often had a feeling of inevitability about them. Jilly's often were dependent on Jilly herself being there to personally take out communications, kill enemy commanders at key moments, etc, snatching victory from defeat.
This was only a portion of her forces, of course; she wasn't that stupid. She began barking orders into a radio, launching a counterattack since there was no way to avoid the shells. Two jet fighters caught her eyes. They were heading her way.
"Shit," she said, then realized the planes weren't together. One was coming after her without a doubt. But she could tell the other was pursuing the first plane. She took off in her command car again. She heard the rocket and sent the vehicle flying off an embankment and leapt clear. The smart missile followed the jeep and Jilly covered her ears against the explosion. Looking up she saw the two F-14s were in a dogfight now, diving, rolling, and climbing. Jilly tried to imagine who this could be. He or she was in for a promotion, that was for sure. Her rescuer finally caught the pursuer with a missile. Jilly was glad to see the pilot eject, respecting him. Then as she watched, the winner opened up on the parachutist with machine guns, and kept on long after there was any need. Jilly frowned and returned to giving orders into the radio. She had to get back into the fighting. Without her they wouldn't stand a chance.
Jilly and her men were back at her base camp. She had managed to extricate them by going deep into the enemy's lines herself and disabling the rocket launchers. She pulled her men out before Ahmat could regroup. He'd nearly got her with that jet he'd sent after her. That could've ended the whole thing if whoever it was hadn't come along. Now she heard a roar and looking up recognized the black F-14 that had rescued her. She watched it land and ran over to a jeep and drove out to meet the pilot. The plane wasn't one of her's she realized. It was probably a defector who had decided to throw in with her. The pilot in a flight suit clambered out of the cockpit. Jilly's heart began beating quickly and she found herself running toward the figure who was taking the helmet off.
Jilly stopped and felt her face getting red. The pilot frowned and said, "What did I always tell you?"
"Crying is dangerous and weak," Jilly said in a choked voice.
The pilot nodded and said, "Let's go back to your command tent. Lemme see your plans. You can't just have everything dependent on you, no matter how good you are. You should know better than that."
The blonde fighter pilot looked around with a smile that was too wide for her face. "Quite an operation you've got going here. I hear you've killed something like three-hundred-million people so far. I can't even imagine that many people being alive." Callisto put an arm around her shoulder and hugged her. "Good girl, Jilly!"
Gabrielle jumped at the loud sound and Xena's chakram was in her hand. Kimberly waved at them reassuringly and picked up the phone and said, "Hello...What's up, Angela?"
Xena was embarrassed and put her chakram back on its clip.
Kimberly's tense voice caught her attention.
"Jesus!...Yeah...I can't figure where Ares is in all this either. He was just here...being a dick, what else? He could go either way...the fighting itself...What about Bacchus?..yeah, but there's lots of blood... Hades, sure...I ran across somebody too and it's just perfect...Who do you think? If you were some asshole god...You got it...She's right here...her too...stuffing her face, yeah..."
Gabrielle stopped chewing the Bacon Double Cheeseburger a moment. In her other hand the onion rings were momentarily halted in their journey to her mouth. She glanced at Xena and saw she was trying not to smile. That was wise of her.
"Well, I'm not fighting HER either...I don't care...I don't care...I remember even if she doesn't....Take it up with Hades...neither of 'em, nope...You know what you can do with your thumbscrew, Angela!... Okay, yeah, I know...I didn't either...I know you're under a lot of pressure ...Okay...Ahmat would be good...well he's got one,I suppose, but she had standards. She wasn't like...got a point there, Angela. Kiss Sam for me." Kimberly set the phone down and looked at Xena.
The Warrior Princess said, "Callisto."
Mulder and Scully looked up at a knock and their office door opened. They were both hoping it would be Helms but a young man stood there in the same kind of long black leather coat Angela had been wearing. Gestapo wear, Mulder thought. The agents stood up.
"Can we help you?" Mulder asked with unconcealed hostility.
"Kush would like to see you," the man said pleasantly.
Mulder still said sarcastically, "I suppose we are to drop everything and go with you, and if we object you've got a little motivator like Angela."
The young man had a half smile. "We aren't all like the great Captain. I'll pick you up at your apartments around seven. You can tie up whatever loose ends you have. Don't eat first. Kush hopes you will dine with him."
Mulder looked sheepish. "Sorry. Guess, I flew off the handle there a little."
"Sometimes Captain Angela can be a little abrasive, I know," the young man said.
Scully said, "We'll be waiting. What's your name?"
"Laconius. I'm the Lord Military's aide." He shook their hands. Both of the agents noted he wore several rings on all of his fingers. He saw their look. "Just a fashion I picked up when I accompanied Kush to his homeland. Goodbye."
The man left. Scully and Mulder looked at each other. Mulder said, "Is that homeland or homeworld, I wonder." Scully rolled her eyes.
Laconius picked them up as he said he would in a limousine which he drove. "I love cars. These chariots are amazing," he said.
"Chariots?" Scully said curiously.
Laconius smiled at her. "Vehicles, automobiles, whatever."
"Where are you from, Laconius?" Mulder asked.
"Originally a farm in the Greek countryside," he answered.
"And now you're fighting Jilly the Butcher," Mulder said.
Laconius frowned and said, "Please don't call her that. It is not respectful. Yes, though I hate that it has come to that."
"Why?" Scully asked.
The young man turned down a side street. "I left home to serve her. She's not my first loyalty anymore but it doesn't feel right."
"Who's your first loyalty?" Mulder asked curiously.
"The Prince of Blood," Laconius said matter of factly.
"Prince Samuel?" Scully said. Laconius nodded.
"Is he the Slithloc Lord Progenitor?" Mulder asked.
"This is not for me to discuss, Agent Mulder," Laconius said and drove in silence for several more minutes until they reached an expensive looking townhouse. He got out and opened the door for Scully to her surprise.
Inside he led them to a dining room and stopped seemingly surprised. The agents looked at the occupants of the room, two men. One was a tall, clean shaven, brown skinned, blonde man with massive shoulders, wearing a suit which had the look of a uniform. The other was white and slightly shorter with long dark hair and a mustache and dressed in a beautiful ivory white suit. Scully and Mulder both recognized him from the history books.
"Laconius, it's good to see you," the long-haired man said. "I arrived unexpectedly."
"Your royal highness," Laconius said, approached him and kissed his hand.
The Prince smiled at the agents and approached them.
Laconius said, "This is Agent Scully and Agent Mulder, Lord. Agent Scully is a healer."
"Your highness," Scully said falteringly, and tried to curtsy though she really didn't know how. She added, "Actually, I'm a forensic pathologist."
Mulder nodded his head, not sure what to do. He didn't want to commit a faux pas but didn't intend on groveling either. Neither he or Scully had ever felt anything like this before. There was just something about the Prince, though they didn't know what it was exactly.
"Come, my friends. Let's eat," the Prince said and lightly touched both of their arms. It was like a pleasurable warmth went through them from where he had touched them.
Three maids began bringing food in. Mulder and Scully felt something odd, a kind of tension from Kush and Laconius when the servants came near them.
"Thank you very much, Clea. Have you girls eaten yet?" the Prince said.
The maid shook her head, then another one said. "Not yet, but we have something ready. Something you'll like."
Kush and Laconius got even more tense. The agents both understood something was happening they didn't have an inkling about. The Prince smiled and said, "Elvira, I know that look! German, I'll wager."
"Even better, Swiss," the maid said and smiled. Mulder thought he was seeing things. For a moment it seemed she had long canines.
"When I was a child I loved Swiss-Miss cocoa. My sister made it for me," the Prince said.
"Swiss Miss," Elvira said and nodded. Then she bent down to whisper in his ear. His blue eyes flicked quickly over to Scully again.
"We'll see. I'll join you later. You can leave," he said. The maids didn't move and the Prince indicated Kush. "I'll be all right. You can leave." The maids returned to the kitchen.
"They are concerned. We all are, Lord. This is a primitive dangerous place. A bomb or missile would be unimpressed by your station. There is no need for you to be present," Kush spoke for the first time. Neither Scully or Mulder could place his accent, or his look for that matter. Who had black eyes, brown skin, and blonde hair?
The Prince said, "I do have to be here. This is Jilly." He looked at the agents. "You've met her, I understand. What did you think of her? Be honest. You don't have to worry about what you say."
Mulder answered, "A paranoid schizophrenic who has the talent and resources to act out her delusions of mass murderer. I always thought of her as a crazy gangster. I've only learned recently that crazy war criminal would be closer to the mark."
Prince Samuel listened closely. "She's so talented and that's what she does with it," he said with sadness. "I think paranoid schizophrenic is a bit harsh, Agent Mulder. In my opinion she has more of a personality disorder or adjustment disorder, from what I know of them. Though she hears voices sometimes, I know."
Mulder said, "Most of the other profilers agree with you, sir. I'm a minority opinion. They feel she wouldn't be able to function at the level she does if she was as disturbed as I think. But I feel she makes it work for her. It energizes and focuses her."
"Semantics. It doesn't really matter. We have to stop her," the Prince said.
The pain in his voice prompted Scully who slowly said, "Sir, is she really your sister?"
The man looked in her eyes and she felt lightheaded. He said, "Yes. Jilly has had a hard life. There's a lot I don't know. Things she can't talk about...to me anyway. I think she could talk about anything with Langland. Without him... She and Langland raised me after my mother was killed."
"We met Kimberly," Mulder said.
The Prince looked at him and Mulder felt like a butterfly being pinned by those blue eyes, then the Prince turned his head to look at Kush. The big man said, "My caste brother, Angela, felt it was best not to tell you yet."
The Prince said, "Excuse me a moment," rose and went in the kitchen. They heard murmuring voices. Kush and Laconius seemed tense. The Prince returned a moment later carrying a golden cup which he sipped and sat back down.
Observing him, Scully suspected it was more than wine. Something laced with amphetamines perhaps? Or some personal blend of psychotropics. He was Jilly's brother after all and mental illness often ran in families. He caught her eyes again and she felt fear and something else. He said, "It's Swiss Miss. Perhaps I'll let you try it. Elvira, Clea and Fotena are impressed by you. Would you be interested in coming to work for me? There are excellent benefits. Good life and medical. Plenty of travel."
Mulder was frightened for Scully. He had no idea what was happening here. His partner seemed mesmerized and there was something overwhelming and cruel in the ironical way the Prince was speaking. Mulder said, "She's not a servant."
The Prince looked at him and Mulder felt like he was falling. The Prince said, "My girls are far more than servants. Body guards would be more accurate, though they are more than that too. It is up to Dr. Scully, not you, if she wants to come serve me. My girls have never before indicated they would welcome a new addition, and it has been a very, very, very long time." He turned his attention back to Scully. She knew she would do whatever he wanted but he released her will and said, "Think about it. No hurry. I have plenty of time."
"I..I..I don't think so. Thank you for the offer," the small woman said.
"Please say you'll think about it," the Prince said smoothly.
"I'll think about it," Scully said and meant it.
They returned to their meal. One of the maids, the only one with blonde hair, came in once and took the Prince's cup which she then returned with from kitchen. "Thank you, Fotena," he said. Then she refilled the wine glasses of the others. Mulder wondered what the Prince was drinking, then he remembered what Laconisus had called him.
"Are you drinking blood?" he asked abruptly. The Prince nodded, smiled at him and sipped his drink. Mulder stood up and said, "Scully! There's a woman in kitchen. He's drinking her blood!" He reached for his gun and found himself held in a headlock by Laconius. Scully hadn't moved. The Prince was looking in her eyes.
Laconius took Mulder's Glock 9 and released him but a pair of even stronger hands held him instead. He looked over to see Fotena. Her eyes were glowing yellow and she bared her teeth at him and there was no missing the long canines this time. Mulder looked back at Scully but she was still gazing into the eyes of the Prince of Blood, while Clea and Elvira stood behind her running their hands caressingly through her red hair.
Continue on to Part Three