SEVENTH AND MUHAMMED ALI STREETS
12:30 P.M., NOVEMBER 24
Mulder had gallantly carried the unconscious Doctor to the farther side of the car, so when Scully had finished setting the corpse of the reptile person in the back seat next to the Doctor, she was on the driver's side, and Mulder threw her the keys. "Where are we going, Mulder?" she said as they got in.
"Back to the Reese building," Mulder said. "The Doctor said that this -" He motioned at the reptile person. "... this Zhessil, I think he said was her name, had to be brought back to his 'TARDIS'. I think he meant the police box."
"The police box that's really his time machine," Scully said.
"You said that, I didn't," Mulder reminded her. "And you're the one who figured out that those two guys with the trank guns were after him, not her." This was true - and it was also true that the Doctor was connected with the top-secret United Nations Intelligence Taskforce in some capacity or other, and had identified Dr. Watterson's device as a time-travel experiment by sight of its forcefully disassembled pieces alone. "Maybe you are the brains in this outfit," Mulder concluded, grinning. Scully grudgingly allowed herself to be amused.
REESE FEDERAL RESEARCH LABORATORY
12:45 P.M., NOVEMBER 24
Jefferson Rogers had pulled the lunch hour today. He was the security guard on duty at the front desk when the two Feds and their oddball scientific adviser had rushed out of the building, and was still there when they came back. Now the guy was carrying the scientist, and the girl was carrying - it looked like a rubber dummy, from a monster movie - whose chest had been blown away and was bleeding pretty genuine-looking blood on her. "Hey!" Rogers called. "What's going on? Need any help?"
"No thanks," said the guy. He set the scientist down in front of the big blue box, that the scientist had stepped into for a moment on their way out. He took a key from the scientist's pocket, unlocked the box's front double doors which were hinged to swing inside, and stepped aside for the girl to carry the rubber monster inside. As the guy stepped up to the door to look inside - Surely there isn't room inside for him too, Rogers thought; the thing's only about twice as big as a phone booth - Rogers heard the girl call, "Mulder!! Look at this!" The guy looked for about half a minute, talking to the girl in tones Rogers couldn't hear. Then he turned around, picked up the scientist again - and took him into the box too, shutting the door behind him!
What had startled Scully was that the police box was bigger on the inside than the outside.
It was a circular room about five yards across, all over white, with round depressions about a foot in diameter in a regular pattern on the walls. There was a video screen about five by seven in the wall, displaying a view of the building lobby, the confused guard at the desk. Another door on the opposite side of the room implied that there was even more to the interior of the TARDIS than this impossible cubic footage. There was an armchair, and a hatstand, where hung the Doctor's question-mark-handle umbrella. In the center of the room was a mushroom-shaped device, the top divided into six control consoles circling a column in the center. It gave a low mechanical hum.
"How far to the lamppost?" Mulder said, standing just inside the door with the Doctor in his arms.
Scully had laid the dead ... lizard man? lizard woman? on the floor before Mulder entered with the Doctor. A very few drops of blood fell on the white surface; apparently the corpse had done most of its bleeding at the scene, on Scully (whose jacket looked it), and/or in the agents' rental car. The Doctor began moving and moaning as Mulder set him in the armchair.
Mulder waited until the Doctor had shaken off most of the mists of unconsciousness, then said, "Tell my why you have two pulses." This was news to Scully, in the act of putting her jacket on the hatstand, who looked sharply from him to the Doctor.
"You wouldn't believe me," said the Doctor, a cursory brush-off.
The Doctor gave his head another shake, then eyed Mulder piercingly. "I think you would," he said suddenly. "I think you'd believe anything I said, now, whether it was true or not ..."
"I'm not that bad," grinned Mulder. The Doctor grinned back, but still didn't explain his double pulse, primarily because he was distracted by the sight of Zhessil on the floor. "Oh no," he said, and his face went white. He leapt out of the chair and knelt to examine the body.
"I'm sorry, Doctor," said Scully.
"Was she a friend of yours?" Mulder asked.
"No," said the Doctor. His voice was full of terrible grief and sorrow. "In a way she was both the greatest friend and the worst enemy your race has ever had."
"How?" Scully asked.
"During the age of reptiles on this planet, about fifty million years ago," said the Doctor, "her people had a great civilization. One day their astronomers discovered that a large planetoid was headed this way. To preserve their species and civilization, they all went into cryonic sleep, with sensors to trigger their revival when the planetary disaster had come and gone. But it never came. The planetoid entered orbit and became your moon. Most of their people are still hidden in sleeper compounds all over Earth."
Scully noted that Mulder was looking over at her, no doubt expecting a skeptical interruption. He must also have noticed the turns of phrase your race and your moon. But she had half-remembered something she had seen in the file faxed her from the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce about the Doctor, and she was pulling it out to look at it. Mulder asked him, "So why is she so important?"
"She is Zhessil," said the Doctor. "There was political opposition to to the cryonic program, and opposition from a minority of astronomers who predicted that the moon would not impact the Earth. The opposition preyed on the common people's fears, and would have succeeded."
The Doctor stood and moved to the console. Meanwhile Scully had found what she was looking for: in the file, amongst all the security-blacked text, there was a photograph of a creature identical - as far as the muddy oft-xerocopied and -faxed image could be made out - to the corpse on the floor of the TARDIS in front of them. The caption identified it as a Silurian, though that couldn't be right; there were no reptiles yet in the Silurian Age. Any other text relevant to the photo on the page was blacked out, for there was none exposed that referred to it. She passed the open file wordlessly to Mulder as the Doctor worked his controls and continued his story.
"Then about two months before the cryonic program referendum, the opposition aquired a zealous adherent - Zhessil. She was an animal behavioralist. She was the inventor of a new technique whereby she injected animal memory RNA into her own brain, to see the world from their perspective, though always retaining her own identity.
"She began claiming to have been to the future - that the foreseen catastrophe would never come, but another; that the whole race would go to sleep and never wake up, and the mammalian primates would inherit the planet. She was not believed. It was said that her experiments had made her hallucinatory or mad. But she campaigned so hard for the opposition to the cryonic program that she became identified with them, and they were discredited as being as mad as she."
"And this is Zhessil," said Mulder, pointing at the body. "Transported to the future - our present, her future - from just before the referendum."
"I knew when you told me that poor hobo had had his brain removed," the Doctor said to Scully. "She has her equipment with her; she did it to learn what world this is from his brain. Imagine her horror ..."
"Imagine his," Scully retorted.
"For good or ill, his misery is over," the Doctor countered.
"And if she doesn't go back," Mulder said, "the cryonic program is passed up and human history gets flushed. Erased, like Arnold Schwarzenegger does to his fellow future robots in Terminator 2."
"Stipulating that," Scully said (conscious that, among the odd and unusual things she personally had witnessed in the last half hour, none of them had been actual time-travel phenomena), "this being - this person is dead."
The Doctor got very still. "Yes," he said.
Scully got the impression that she had just been warned not to teach the Doctor how to suck eggs.
"This is a time machine, isn't it?" Mulder said.
"Yes," said the Doctor, remaining quite still.
"Can't we go back half an hour and rescue her?"
"What you're proposing is illegal and exceedingly dangerous," said the Doctor.
"Illegal?" said Scully. "By what authority?"
"Is there another option?" Mulder said.
"No," said the Doctor.
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