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Brave New World (1/2)

Title: Brave New World
Fandom: The Pretender/7 Days/X-Files
Genre Crossover
Word Count 7073
Summary While celebrating Miss Parker's birthday in town, the gang from NNL get a call regarding a break-in and the Parkers are surprised to see a familiar face.
Follows Trust Someone, 7 Days to Pretend, Building a Better Mousetrap and Thicker Than Water
Author's Note This is the 5th story in my ongoing crossover series. I want to thank everyone who has read my works and dropped a few ideas my way. If anyone has any ideas of where I can go next, please let me know! I would also like to thank my two betas, BladeMistress and Kyliexoxo.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brave New World
How many goodly creatures there are here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in it!
Miranda in "The Tempest"


Lying on his stomach on a bluff overlooking the base, Mulder trained his binoculars on the gate. There wasn't much traffic as it was in the middle of the desert. Despite this, the base was heavily guarded. For him, that was like waving a red flag. It took him long enough to find this place that didn't exist. He had always wondered about this place, especially after having been to Area 51.

His life had changed drastically over the last couple of years-some good, some bad. He lost his job but got the girl. He grinned at the thought. She willingly joined him in his life on the run, staying in sleazy motels while they searched for the truth.

"Mulder, what's going on out there?" Scully's voice came over the headset.

"Nothing. Just trying to observe as much as possible before going in. You have the plans ready?"

"I've mapped out your route so there shouldn't be a problem. Just turn on your transmitter when you're about to go in."

Mulder waited another twenty minutes as those who worked the "daily grind" left. He made his way to a culvert away from the fences that they learned conveniently housed a sewer run-off that led into the base. He turned on the transmitter. "You receiving me, Scully?"

"Perfectly. And no, they won't be able to pick up our conversation," she said anticipating his next question.

Mulder couldn't help but smile. Dana had become quite the hacker. "Any alarms or cameras?"

"Taken care of."

"Right. Here I go." Mulder entered the pipe and walked along hunched over until directed by Scully to stop and climb a ladder to his left. "Clear?" he whispered.

"Clear. There's nothing else registering." That was good enough for him. The grate at the top of the ladder opened with a little effort into a shaft with only one opening. He knew this was where he had to go.

Mulder found himself in a converted hangar with banks of instrument panels and monitors about. On one side there was something rather large hidden in shadow. He was drawn to it, knowing somehow that this was the reason the base existed, the reason he was here. As he got closer, he could see it was a large blue sphere. Its purpose was indiscernible, but with the gantry surrounding it and the wires and hoses connected to it, he would guess it housed some sort of power source-or was one.

As he walked closer still, he heard Scully's insistent voice in his ear. "Mulder, get out of there now! You must have tripped a silent alarm. Security will be there any second!"

He heard her but couldn't move, entranced by the sight in front of him. He couldn't say how long it was before he became aware of the guards.

"Turn around slowly, hands where I can see them!" declared a southern accent.

Mulder did as he was told, taking note of the number of guards with guns aimed at him. "Mulder, I'm cutting our connection. I'll wait at the rendezvous."

"Take that headset off him," ordered Boss Man. "Lord only knows who he's communicating with."

The headset was ripped from his head and he was searched for weapons and surveillance equipment. "Do I get a hat check ticket for those?"

The security men said nothing but just shoved him forwards until he came face to face with Boss Man. "How did you get in here?" he demanded. "This is top-level security!"

Mulder kept his mouth shut. Any smart comment he came up with would only make things worse at this point.

"Fine! Just take him down to lock-up while I tell Talmadge what's happened." Boss Man stormed off.

"Don't wrinkle the suit, fellas. It's hell to iron," Mulder said as he was strong-armed in the opposite direction.

***************************************************

Jarod looked at Miss Parker and was pleased with the change that had taken place. Her hair was done in a softer style and her clothes had been chosen for comfort rather than intimidation. But what most amazed him was the fact that she was smiling and laughing; probably the happiest she had been since being with Tommy. She now had a brother she trusted and liked and co-workers that were true friends.

Frank had kept him up-to-date on Miss Parker's adjustment to life at Never Never Land. Needless to say, the others were shocked when Frank and Donovan came from Delaware with her in tow. Thanks to a little string pulling, Bradley Talmadge, head of the Backstep program, got her NSA approval and clearance. Nate Ramsey, head of Security, made it his job to try and catch her up on something. After all, she was a Parker. He put up a fight when Bradley assigned her to Security but once he saw her in action he learned what the rest of them had already known, that she was damn good at her job.

Frank had also told him that she was now rooming with Olga. It was only intended to be temporary, but since decent apartments in the immediate area were hard to find and the fact that the two were getting along, it became permanent. It seemed that Frank had accomplished what his father wanted.

"What are you smiling at, Einstein?" she asked.

"You finally got a normal life," he told her.

"I'm still working for an organization on a project I can't talk freely about."

"But you have to admit there are a few more perks. You actually like your associates."

"There's always one to make you miserable."

"Hey!" interjected Frank, hurt.

"I meant Ramsey. How do you put up with that ass?"

"Working with Mr. Ramsey has its moments," said Olga.

"Yeah, like the time you planted the camera in his shower," laughed Donovan.

"Don't you even think of trying something like that on me."

"I wouldn't dare," Frank said with a grin.

Olga's cell phone chose that moment to ring. "Yes? Oh my God. Of course. We'll be right back." She ended the call.

"What is it, Olga?" Frank asked.

"There's been a security breach at the base and we have to head back. I'm sorry, Jarod," she said, looking at him.

"That's all right. I'll hang around for a couple of days. You know my cell number if you need to reach me."

He shook hands with Frank and Donovan as they said good-bye. Olga shook his hand as well as gave him a small kiss on the cheek before following the men. Then he was looking at Miss Parker.

"Thank you for coming, Jarod. It means a lot to me," she said, taking his hand.

"You should know I wouldn't have missed this."

"When I didn't hear from you-not even a phone call-I thought you gave up on me."

"Never. I just thought you needed time to adjust to your new life without any ties to your old one. Frank kept me up-to-date on everything."

She smiled then, a smile that showed she knew someone cared. For Jarod, that was all he needed to know he had done the right thing. She released his hand to join the others.

"Happy birthday, Miss Parker," he said over his shoulder.

*****************************************************

Frank leaned forward from the backseat. "So, Olga, what did they say?"

"Not much, only that they found a man inside the hangar. Ramsey has him locked up waiting to see what information they can get on him."

"Someone actually made it into the hangar? Someone's butt's gonna be in a sling once Ramsey finds out who slacked off," said Donovan without taking his eyes off the road.

"But how did someone get inside the perimeter, let alone the hangar?" asked Miranda. "Ramsey has every way in covered."

"It's thanks to me that he knows about even half of those "

"What do you mean?"

"When I first started, I was confined to the base and, well, I didn't like it."

"I can see why you and Jarod got along so well. So what's going to happen to the, ah, sightseer?"

"There won't be an open trial-if there is one at all-since they can't admit to the existence of Backstep," said Donovan as they were waved through the gate. "More than likely, he'll be locked up somewhere."

The four rushed inside and to the briefing room where Talmadge and Ramsey were waiting. A collection of communication equipment was on the table. "This is what you found on him?" Frank asked.

"Yeah, all top quality stuff, too," said Ramsey, picking up a piece at random.

"His partner must be close by," said Talmadge, "probably in a van."

"Any luck finding out who he is?" asked Donovan.

"No, he hasn't said a word. We're lettin' him stew for a bit, then we'll go get his prints."

Talmadge turned on a monitor to show a man dressed in black, sitting calmly in a holding cell. "As you can see, he's taking this quite well. Not at all what we expected."

Frank walked up to the monitor for a closer look. "You may not need to get those prints." He motioned for Miranda to join him. "Take a look,"

She peered at the grainy face on the screen. "You're right. I think it is him."

"You know him?" Ramsey asked Frank in disbelief.

"Yeah, if it's who I think it is. I met him in Nebraska a couple years ago."

"I first saw him in New York with a mutual friend about four years ago, then again in Nebraska with Frank," Mira added.

"You told him what you did?" demanded Ramsey. "Parker, of all the dumbass things..."

"Nate, this is not the time," Bradley said, stepping in before the two began to trade insults-or blows. "What can you tell us about him?"

Frank exchanged a look with Miranda. They couldn't say anything about Mulder until they knew what was going on.

"Perhaps we should let Frank and Mira speak with him first. If he sees them as friends, he might be more open," said Olga.

"Aw, come on!" groaned Ramsey.

"That's not a bad idea," added Donovan. "The whole exchange will be recorded so you don't have to worry about anything."

Talmadge finally relented and Frank and Miranda walked down to the holding cells. "I am not looking forward to this."

"What are you talking about?"

"As you know, I don't have many good friends. I included Mulder in that group. What will he think when he finds out I work on a project he's 'investigating'?"

"Frank, you can't spend time worrying over what might happen. Mulder was with the FBI and he'll understand that you couldn't discuss what you were doing. He may not like it, but he can't fault you for it."

Frank grinned. "Thanks for being a straight talker."

"That's what family's for, right?"

Frank reached out and opened the door.

*******************************************************

Scully drove the van into town and pulled into the hotel parking lot. There was no doubt that Mulder was locked up and it wouldn't be long before they discovered his identity. Any computer search would alert the FBI and then there would really be trouble. She sighed and brushed the hair out of her eyes. She would wait here for a couple of days before heading out to the rendezvous. All she had to do was act normal and she wouldn't attract attention.

She checked in and told the clerk her cover story of being a nature photographer here for some desert shots. That seemed to satisfy his curiosity and he handed over her key without any further questions. That hurdle behind her, she climbed the stairs thinking about the nice hot soaking bath she'd take and then the soft bed. Tomorrow she would listen for any news of Mulder.

As she was inserting the key into the lock, she heard a naggingly familiar voice. "Agent Scully?"

She turned to see a man somewhere in his mid- to late-thirties with black hair that just about covered his ears. As he got closer, she could see the mole and his brown eyes. She knew him, but how? He smiled, waiting for her to remember and then she did. "Jarod? You've changed. I almost didn't recognize you." She opened the door and motioned for him to go in. "And I'm no longer with the FBI."

"I know, but I wasn't sure what to call you."

"Everybody calls me Scully. Well, everyone except my family." She dropped her bag on the bed and collapsed next to it.

Jarod sat in the only chair in the room. "Even Mulder?"

"Especially Mulder. After all this time we're still more comfortable using last names."

"And where is Mulder? I know we have a bit to catch up on."

"We're to meet up in a couple of days."

"Funny, I thought he was already in the area."

Scully looked at him, forgetting how intuitive he could be. "What makes you say that?"

"The base up the road, mainly. I know it's the type of thing he likes to investigate."

"Really? I didn't know there was a base around here." He was getting too damn close.

"Scully, I know you were up there and he's been caught. I was just with a group from the base and they had to leave due to a security breach."

"Were you with them or were you just in the same bar?"

"I've known most of them a few years. Only two are aware that I know what goes on there. As far as the others are concerned, I only know where it is."

Scully stood and began to pace the room in frustration. Even though both Mulder and Jarod had tried to explain the latter's talent, it still boggled her mind. There had to be a way to use his abilities and get onto the base to save Mulder without making him renege on a promise. "What if you made up passes with high enough clearance?"

"I don't think even I can get something with the clearance necessary. Besides, how would we explain our presence? As far as we know, they haven't told anyone outside the base of what happened, and, with what's happened since I last saw him, we can't afford the wait."

Scully sighed. She was not thinking clearly at all. Jarod was right in that they couldn't wait that long.

"Let me see what I can do," he said as he took out his cell phone.

***************************************************

Mulder heard the lock on the door open and pretended to be entranced by the ceiling tiles. He was not going to act wild and paranoid for them. It wouldn't take long before they found out he was a wanted man.

"See what you get when you don't call ahead for reservations?"

Mulder sat up at the sound of that cocky voice. "Frank?" He then saw his other visitor. "Miss Parker?"

"You certainly have fallen hard, G-Man."

"You two certainly got here quick to break me out." He fell back into his previous position. "You work here," he said without hiding the betrayal he felt.

"I doubt I'd be let anywhere near this place otherwise," Frank joked.

"How long?"

"About six years now. C'mon, you can't be angry with me for not telling you. This place is so top secret that only a handful of people outside the base know what goes on here."

"But that's exactly why it needs to be exposed, made public."

"Making its existence public would be more of a hindrance than a help," Miss Parker said. "Believe me, this is not some secret evil that feeds upon an unsuspecting public. This project is beneficial and has saved countless lives." She looked at Frank as if for confirmation.

"Oh, yeah, countless lives."

Mulder could hear the earnestness in their voices and knew this wasn't just some spiel they were trained to say in such an occasion. "OK, I'll give you that--for now. I still can't be found here." He was afraid to say more, knowing they were being watched.

"We don't have all that much pull here," Frank told him, "but I'll see what I can do."

Miss Parker's phone rang. "Parker." She looked at Mulder. "Just a second." She started for the door. "Finish up," she told Frank. "We've got a lot to do." She left the room.

"She hasn't changed much," Mulder commented as Frank made to follow her. "Still bossy."

"Isn't that the way older sisters are supposed to be?" He left.

Whoa! Frank and Miss Parker brother and sister? Jarod had to have had a hand in discovering that piece of information. Frank must feel good knowing that she left her whole life behind her to come here. That meant she was no longer chasing Jarod. I wonder how he feels about that. He sighed and resumed his contemplation of the ceiling.

*******************************************

Once outside in the hall, Miranda could speak a little more freely. "Jarod, when I made that comment about your phone calls, I didn't mean for you to start right away."

"I'm at the hotel in town with Scully, Mulder's partner-"

"The red head from New York."

"The same. I take it you know about Mulder."

"Frank and I were just in his cell. He came here to expose Backstep and there's no way he'll be walking out of here." She could hear a muffled conversation. "What is it?"

"He's a wanted man."

"He said as much."

"But did he tell you it was for first-degree murder?"

"First-degree?" She lowered her voice. "That can't be right."

"According to Scully, Mulder's enemies felt he knew too much and paraded his beliefs on alien conspiracies in front of a military court. No one believed him, of course, and he was convicted. Scully and another friend within the FBI broke him out."

All that and he was still carrying out his crusade instead of laying low like any sane man would. Another like Jarod.

Frank came alongside her. "Who is it?" he mouthed.

"Let me tell a couple more people and see what we can come up with." She looked at her watch. "I'll call you in a couple hours." She closed her phone.

"So what's going on?"

"Get Olga and Donovan and we'll meet in your room."

Thankfully, Frank didn't ask why, but walked beside her in silence.

******************************************************

Olga watched along with everyone else as Frank and Miranda spoke with Mulder. She figured that since the man knew both of them, that meant he had to have been in Nebraska that time Frank went to help Jarod.

She looked at the two of them and saw how they worked off each other as if they had been doing it for years and not just a few months. When Frank and Donovan returned from Delaware with Miss Parker in tow, her initial reaction-once she got over her shock-was jealousy. Once she was introduced as Parker's half-sister, she was immediately relieved followed closely by shame for harboring such feelings when neither she nor Frank had openly declared their feelings towards each other.

Once the story of their escape had been related, Olga offered Miranda a place to stay until she became adjusted enough to want her own place. After spending a number of nights talking over glasses of wine, she had gotten to know her houseguest and invited her to stay on as a roommate. Olga could tell that Miranda never had any true girlfriends to share such intimacies with, or even be silly with and was happy when she accepted.

She excused herself from the security office and said her good-nights as she walked the corridor to her office. She gathered a few files and her purse before turning to leave. Frank was standing in the doorway, his hand raised to knock. "Mr. Parker, I was just on my way home. It's been a long day."

"It's gonna get a bit longer. We're having a little chat in my room. Mira and Donovan will meet us there."

*******************************************

"What is it?" The voice coming through the phone was tinged with a combination of impatience and boredom.

"Mulder's here at NNL. He was caught right after breaking in."

"Does anyone know who he is?"

"I think a couple of people do, but as far as I know, they haven't told anyone else he was FBI."

"Have they run his prints yet, or a photo?"

"I don't know. I haven't heard anything about that yet."

"We should have people there within a few hours. More than enough time to be there first. You've done well. Keep me posted."

"Yes, sir." Finally able to report news of such magnitude, the caller switched off the cell phone and returned to work.

********************************************

Jarod put his phone in his pocket and told Scully of what he had learned from Miss Parker without revealing her name. It didn't matter; she had already heard his side of the conversation.

"The person you spoke to knows Mulder," she stated, sitting at the foot of the bed.

Jarod mentally winced at that oversight. "There are actually two people there who know him. One of them you know as well."

"Jarod, you have to be more specific than that. There is a large number of people who fit the bill."

"New York City, Christmas 1999. The time we met, actually." Jarod remembered that moment on the sidewalk near Rockefeller Center. Scully considered him highly suspicious as Mulder practically dropped everything to meet him and was then taken by Miss Parker, Sydney, and Broots. An exchange was set up at Grand Central. The group from the Centre didn't know Scully was in New York and that's what made Jarod's plan work.

"That woman who was after you, the one who took Mulder, she's there?" She buried her face in her hands. "She knows he was FBI."

"She won't tell anyone unless she knows they can help. She's changed, Scully. She just needed a reason to leave the Centre." She looked at him, waiting for him to elaborate. He should have known a simple explanation wouldn't be enough. "Miss Parker had begun to question what was happening at the Centre but still wasn't willing to make the break. Not until I had proven that a man we both knew was her brother did she leave."

"I thought it was family that kept her there."

"It's a bit complicated. He's her half-brother, actually. As far as everyone there was concerned, he died at birth. In actuality, he was sent to an orphanage in Philadelphia. He went through a number of foster homes before joining the Navy, and then the CIA."

"Wait a second. Mulder said there had been an ex-CIA agent with you out in Nebraska."

"Did he tell you his name?"

Scully thought a moment. "Frank Parker. Did she know at the time?"

"No. I was able to get samples to do a DNA test and proved they were related."

"And it was the result of those tests that persuaded her to leave?"

"It's a bit more complicated than that." He went on to tell Scully of the trip to Blue Cove and how Frank was kidnapped off the street by Lyle, his subsequent torture, and the manner of how Raines and Lyle learned the truth of Frank's birth.

"Why would the fact of his birth matter so much?"

"The Centre has been treated like a Parker dynasty. Since there was no question of Frank's parentage, he represented a threat to Raines and Lyle."

"Since he wanted no part of what was going on, they were under no threat."

"Just knowing he existed was enough of a threat for them. Parker and I, along with Frank's best friend, rescued him. As we were leaving the building, we were stopped by Mr. Parker-a man we all believed dead."

"Frank got to meet his father."

Jarod nodded. "Only for him to be shot by a man he called son. With Mr. Parker dead, Miss Parker -and Frank-had no protection. Frank brought her out here and got her a job."

"And no one from the Centre has figured out where they are?"

Jarod gave a slight laugh. "Miss Parker was the best they had. She knows how to cover tracks. Plus she and Frank have the government to assist."

"You can't always count on that."

"They're a tight-knit group out there. Anywhere else, Frank would have been brought up on charges a number of times."

"You really trust them?"

"I have done before and I'm still here. I think I'll make up an ID just in case." He looked down at the former federal agent. "Don't worry, Scully. We'll get him out."

********************************************

Donovan was just leaving the briefing room when Olga and Frank found him. "There's a meeting in my room"

"What for?"

"Mira called it after getting a call on her cell."

"Three guesses as to who." Craig couldn't help but admire how well she had adapted to her surroundings. Those outside her small circle of friends tended to give her a wide berth, whether out of fear or respect, he wasn't sure. She had slowly started to show the wicked sense of humor she shared with Frank but she still wouldn't take nonsense from anyone, which made Ramsey wonder how the two Parkers could be related. "Any idea why?"

"I'm guessing it has to do with our guest." Frank didn't want to name him out in the hallways.

"You can't mean to help him escape?" questioned Olga

Craig motioned for her to lower her voice. "With it being someone they both know, I wouldn't put it past them. Plus, with Jarod in town..."

"He'd be the ideal unknown element." She looked at Donovan. "We have to keep him from doing anything wild," she said as if Frank wasn't right there.

"And that is a job in itself." He held the door open for her.

Frank walked in and grabbed a beer from his mini-fridge. "Want one?"

"No, thanks," Donovan said as he sat. "We still have to drive home."

"Oh, yeah, right." He took a swig from the bottle. "We'll wait for Mira to get here before we start."

"So, who is this guy?" asked Donovan.

"Name's Fox Mulder. Used to be with the FBI."

"Aren't you afraid of Mr. Ramsey overhearing everything?" asked Olga as she occupied the other chair.

"He gave up trying to bug the place ages ago. I periodically scan for them anyway. We're clear."

Mira came in at that moment. "Ramsey and Talmadge have already put in a call to the FBI. They must really want him bad because they're sending two agents out tonight. They should be here in a few hours."

"We'll have to call Jarod and see if he can get here first."

"It won't work if the FBI is sending two agents," said Olga.

"Mulder's partner is with Jarod now," Mira confirmed. "All we have to do is make sure they arrive before the real agents."

"And just how do we do that?" Donovan asked. "Have them wait and waylay the agents on the way in?"

"We might have to bring Hooter in on this," said Frank.

Mira's reaction to the mention of the base's technical whiz kid was amusing. "You can't mean to bring him in on this. The more people mean a bigger chance of a screwup."

"He may be able to set something up that can help us provide a diversion. Besides," Frank gave a crooked smile, "I think he'll do anything you ask."

The glare she bestowed on her brother couldn't help but make Craig smile. "So what do we need to do?"

"Run interference. I need to get to Mulder and let him know what's going on. I doubt Ramsey'll let me anywhere near him since they found out he's wanted by the FBI."

"Ramsey wouldn't let you near him because you're friends and you might want to break him out," stated Olga.

"And for once he'd be right. So, are you with me?"

"I might be able to talk to Bradley about some intel," said Donovan.

"I could try to distract Ramsey by trying to discuss the breach in security," put in Mira.

"I guess that leaves me to talk with Mr. Owsley."

Frank finished his beer and grinned. What made Donovan worry was the fact that he had seen that grin any number of times when Frank had put forward one of his many insane schemes. They never seemed to come out right.

*****************************************************

Ramsey sat at the desk in the Security office watching the monitor that showed the man down in lock-up. His prints had come back with the result that he was wanted for the murder of an army officer. The search had flagged the FBI and they were sending two agents out. Nate looked at the man lying on the cot and staring at the ceiling. He had to know that the FBI was on the way. Yet he showed no signs.

His eyes glanced over the computer screen where he had pulled up the man's record. Fox Mulder had been one of the best profilers the FBI had seen but it was his penchant for the supernatural that got him relegated to the basement of the Hoover Building in DC and something called the "X-Files".

Mulder had also put it about that there was a consortium of powerful men who were conspiring with aliens in a take-over of the planet. "Of all the cockamamie stories. Leave it to Parker to make friends with the loonies."

There was a knock on the door. "Come in." Parker's sister entered. She was definitely a looker with her shoulder-length brown hair and deep blue eyes. He still couldn't get over the fact that the two were brother and sister. "What are you still doing here? Thought you would have continued your celebration."

"Not after the break-in we had. I think we should go over the building plans and find out how he got in."

"He's a lone conspiracy nut. We can wait until morning."

"We can't be sure he was alone," she continued. "You saw the communication gear. He could have been doing a live webcast or something. Maybe that's why he's so complacent, sitting in his cell like that."

Ramsey had to admit she had a point. With all the technology it would be easy for a wanted man to arrange some way to speak to "followers". "You know him. Would he do something like that?"

"Two years ago, I would have said no. But, then he wasn't a wanted man."

Just knowing there was an outside possibility that knowledge of Backstep's existence had been compromised was enough to make Nate sweat. "The FBI will be here in a few hours. We need to find out who else knows of Backstep." He stood and headed for the door.

"You're going to question him now?"

"What's wrong with you? You're the one who convinced me others might know where he is."

"I think he'd be more willing to talk to Frank than you. Granted, he was pissed when he learned Frank works here, but they still have a friendship. He'd just see you as a pompous ass."

"Fine. You get Parker and I'll tell Bradley."

******************************************************

Bradley Talmadge was looking down at the prisoner transfer papers that were waiting for his signature. He had heard stories of this Fox Mulder over the years due to the man's strong belief in aliens and that the government was keeping such reports secret. A number of years ago, Mulder had even attempted to break into Area 51. If Mulder learned what Backstep actually was and how it was fuelled, there would be chaos. Of course, there would be those who wouldn't believe a word but for every five of those, there would be one who did believe. They had to find out just what he did know and if he had the chance to share it with someone before he was taken. He'd have Nate look into that.

There was a knock on his office door and Bradley looked up to see Donovan standing there. "Is this a bad time?"

"No, Craig. Come in. I was just looking over these transfer papers. What can I do for you at this hour?"

"I just thought I'd check with some contacts regarding possible hot spots and I wanted to fill you in on what I learned."

Bradley had a feeling that this was part of a plan cooked up by Frank to keep him busy. "Just prioritize in brief. I need to check with Ramsey on something."

"Oh, of course. There's talk that the Palestinians are planning to assassinate the Israeli President Sharon in the next week or so. It also looks like North Korea is mobilizing forces near the 38th Parallel for a possible invasion of the South."

Before Craig could continue, Nate stuck his head in the door. "I'm gonna have Parker try and get some information out of this guy before the FBI gets here."

"Nate, are you sure-"

"I know what you're thinking, sir, but that area'll be locked down tighter than a drum; guards posted at every door. No way Frank'll get this guy out."

"Very well. I'll join you and we can observe the interrogation." Bradley looked at Craig. "Was there anything else?"

"No, sir," Craig said easing. "I'll just make a few calls before I go home."

"Get some rest. From what you've told me, we might be busy in a few days."

"Good night, sir." He paused at the door. "Ramsey."

As he walked with Nate to the observation room, Bradley couldn't quell the notion that some of his best people had their own agenda regarding Fox Mulder.

*************************************************

Andrew "Hooter" Owsley stared intently at the equation that took up the majority of the old-fashioned swivel chalkboard as if willing the solution to come to him. Before he had joined Backstep, he would have needed to squeeze this in with such needs as toiling away at some boring job. Here, he was allowed to work on outside projects in addition to puzzling out temporal physics and how the Sphere actually worked.

Yeah, there was a tightass here like at any other job, but he was offset by Frank, who was cool, and both Olga and Frank's sister were really hot.

There was a polite cough from behind him and he swiveled in his chair to see Olga there. He ran a hand through his hair in a futile attempt to calm his wayward spikes. "Olga, Dr. Vuckavitch, what can I do for you?" I know what you can do for me.

"You know what happened earlier tonight?"

"Oh, yeah, that guy who made it into the hangar. His communication gear was top-notch. Pretty much strictly government issue."

"He used to be with the FBI. He is a friend of Frank and Mira."

Uh-oh. Here's where we go against orders.

"We need your help. Is there someway you can arrange it so we'll know when the real FBI are here?"

"Why? No, wait, don't tell me. The less I know the better. I might be able to dig up something. When do you need it?"

"As soon as possible. They are supposed to be here in a few hours."

"OK, check back in a couple hours. I'll let you know what I have."

"Thank you, Mr. Owsley." She left.

With a slight smile on his face, Hooter turned his back on the puzzling equation and began to think on his new challenge.

**********************************************

Frank lay back on his couch while he waited for the plan to go into effect. If he were anywhere else, Ramsey would know he was up to something. He had to think of what he could say to make Mulder believe and trust him regarding the rescue. He'd have to be quick before Ramsey caught on.

"Hey, Parker! Get up off your butt!"

Parker groaned. Mira was supposed to keep him busy. "What is it, Ramsey?" he asked, sitting up.

The head of security stood in his doorway. "I want you to question your friend again."

This is too good to be true! "Why me? Your guys afraid of the FBI?"

"Your sister pointed out that he might still hold critical information that can't leave the base. He might relax enough around you to let something slip."

I've got to give Mira credit. She's a first class manipulator. "Sure, Ramsey." Parker slipped on his shoes and followed after Ramsey to the cells. "What exactly do you need to know?"

"How much he learned about NNL and if he shared anything. Don't screw up, Parker." He shut the door, leaving Frank alone in the hall with the guard.

Taking a deep breath, Frank motioned for the guard to unlock the door and stepped in. Mulder didn't even get up. "I need to talk to you, Mulder."

"Frank, I'm not telling you anything. You're wasting your time."

"You know if it were up to me, you'd be halfway to California by now. However, we're being observed and there are armed guards posted at every exit. Even if you had help on the outside, you couldn't get out of here. Hell, a genius couldn't get out of here." He emphasized the right words, hoping Mulder would get the message.

Mulder scoffed as he swung his legs around and sat at the edge of the cot. "You're basing this all on one meeting over a year ago. Right now, you're merely pretending to be my friend in the hopes I'll tell you what I saw tonight. It's not gonna work, Frank."

"Mulder, the FBI is on the way here and I don't think they'll be as kind in their questioning. Then, of course, there's that whole murder rap. . ."

"Your bosses are just afraid I'll spill what I know to the wrong people and they want to know what that is so they can put the proper spin on it."

Frank decided to take another tack. "OK. Who would you rather have in possession of this information? The people who have run the project for years without any major screw-ups of the FBI where there is a lot of political in-fighting with the possibility of the information being used for personal gain?" Mulder still said nothing. "OK, it's your funeral. Just call me if you change your mind." Frank walked to the door. 5...4...3...2...

"I guess you are the lesser of two evils. This really must be something major if you can't let any other organization know."

"Big time," Frank said, pulling up the metal chair. "This is Change-the-World big and I would not like to see it fall into the wrong hands." Again.

"Well, you and your superiors," he said with a nod to the cameras, "can rest easy because all I saw was a large blue sphere in the hangar."

"Anyone else in on this?"

"Just one. If anything went wrong they were to go to the rendezvous and wait three days. If I didn't show up by then, I wasn't going to."

"Will he cause any trouble trying to get you out?"

"No. We knew this was a possibility. He may move on to expose something else or just try to blend back into society. I've no idea."

Frank stood. "I'm sorry, Mulder, but there's nothing else I can do."

"That's all right, Frank. I feel a little better talking to you. Just keep me in mind the next time you do, well, whatever the hell it is you do around here." He held out his hand.

Frank grasped it in a firm shake. "No problem, buddy."

*********************************************

Scully came out of the bathroom to find the hotel room empty. Jarod must have headed back to his own room for some reason. Too bad she didn't know where it was because he seemed to be on to something. She looked at the bed and wished she could just lie down and sleep for twenty years-or at least twenty minutes. It was then that she saw the note on the pillow. All it said was Room 103. J. With a slight groan, Scully decided to change into one of the few business suits she saved for such an occasion. When things started moving later, she probably wouldn't have a chance.

Once changed, she went downstairs and knocked on the door to Jarod's room. She heard the creak of a chair and soon the scrape of the chain lock as it was removed. "Come on in, Scully."

She pushed open the door and was surprised by the neatness of it. She had become so used to Mulder in a hotel room with clothes and papers strewn about that seeing a man's hotel room with everything in its place was strange.

Jarod sat back down at the desk where his laptop was open at a familiar page. "Like the suit." His fingers practically flew across the keyboard. "I take it you still have your old FBI ID. I have a couple somewhere. We'll just give you a new name, do a little cut-and-paste and. . .voila."

"Do I get a word in here?" Scully pulled out her ID card. "We've already changed our names."

"Of course. I should have realized."

"What are you doing inside the FBI's mainframe?"

"We need the correct clearance and transfer papers in order to pick up Mulder. We also need the signature of the head of the Vegas office. We both know what sticklers they are for paperwork and protocol."

"So you're saying all we need are proper IDs and forged transfer papers?"

"And luck and support from our friends on the inside." The printer hummed as the forms were spit out. "I do wish we had some government plates for the car, though. We know they're close enough to drive so wouldn't bother with a rental."

Scully afforded herself a smile. "If we stop at the van, I might be able to find something."

Jarod gave her a smile. "Always prepared, eh?"

"A regular Boy Scout." She helped him gather the papers. "So, is this everything?"

"Yes. Now, we get the plates from your van and drive off close to the base and wait for the go-ahead call."

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