Title: House of Life
Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate a mummy which got up, unwrapped itself then took a bus from its museum, despite a dream Skinner has which predicts disaster if they pursue it.
Author's Note: Yes, this is a WIP. I write and post 'em like this for several reasons. First, I live for feedback and really really enjoy cliffhangering people. Second, I tend to write long stories and hate to find 27 chapters of a story cluttering my in-box at one time, so this is a way to make it easier on you. and Third, I get ideas from the feedback. So if there's something you think oughta be in the story, while I'm writing it is the time to suggest it! And yes, I do take requests. So, c'mon, let me WIP you and don't wait till the thing is finished before you e-mail me, huh? I promise I'll finish the story.
July 27, 2000
As far as he knew he'd never seen this place in his life. He knew, with sudden clarity that he was dreaming this. It wasn't real.
That didn't help.
The room was stone and dark and the ceilings were lost to shadows. In the flickering light he could see paintings on the wall depicting figures half-men, half-animal. He looked more closely and recognized the pictures. Egyptian. It looked like ancient Egyptian tomb paintings.
Gingerly he scuffed his feet forward in the red clay dust, his hand against the cool plaster as he felt his way ahead.
Then he heard the first scream. It was loud, the cry of a man being murdered, no, being tortured to death. Instinct took over and he started running toward the sound. Something familiar in that cry.
Panting, he ran down hallways until he came to a large square room, torchlit and smelling of blood.
In the room's center squatted a huge red granite sarcophagus, set next to a deep pit half filled with dirt and pottery shards. The sarcophagus was surrounded by deep shadows and Skinner couldn't see what lay around it.
Dark, amorphous shapes held a woman against the painted wall although she struggled to break free. Her red hair sparkled in the firelight as she cried out in rage.
"Let me go! Damn you! Stop it! Let him go! Please!" she yelled at full volume.
Then the other cry came again, a man's voice.
"No! No, don't do this!"
The darkness around the sarcophagus parted a bit and Skinner could see that a man, covered in blood, was tied to the roof of the sarcophagus. Above him, a huge black shape hovered, and lifting a dripping double-bladed axe, brought it down on the man's chest with a crunch of bone.
The man screamed again and Skinner could see Mulder's head turn toward him, his agonized eyes blindly searching for help that never came.....
Skinner sat bolt upright in his bed, shaking with sweat. He took some long, careful breaths, rubbing his hands over his face. No. No it wasn't real. Just a dream, a nightmare, thank God. They were safe. It hadn't happened.
Skinner sat up and remembered the file he'd looked at before going to sleep. Frantically he scrabbled on his bedside table to find his glasses, then padded into the living room.
There they were, the files he'd brought home. More digging brought it up, a 302 submitted by Fox Mulder today, requesting permission to open a file on a stolen mummy in San Jose California.
Skinner frowned as he read Mulder's documentation more closely. The mummy, a recent acquisition, was amazingly well preserved as was its ornately decorated mummycase. The case had been found open, with nothing inside but a pile of wrappings, looking for all the world as though the mummy had quietly unwrapped itself and walked out of the museum.
Skinner noted Mulder's comment which he'd dismissed earlier as a Mulderish attempt at humor:
"A museum janitor claims that a figure, resembling the mummy, was seen catching a number 36 bus shortly before the disappearance was discovered. It should be noted that although the evidence seems to indicate that the mummy walked out under its own power, this should have been impossible. X-rays of the body taken by archaeologists reveal that the body had been dismembered and cut into approximately 14 pieces before death and embalming."
His hands shaking, Skinner fumbled for a pen and opened the folder to the 302, then scrawled a large "NO" across it.
Feeling calmer, although not by much, Skinner went back to bed.
July 28, 2000
"I want to see him," Mulder repeated patiently to Skinner's secretary, Kim.
"I'm sorry, but he's not available right now," she said unhelpfully.
"Not available? Or not available to me?" Mulder shook the paper over Kim's desk. "I deserve an explanation for this, not just the word 'NO' scribbled across it." Mulder raised his voice, knowing that it would be carried through the thin partition walls. "He's offered no reason, none at all, that this case shouldn't be investigated! Damn it, he owes me one!"
"Mulder, it's just a case. We have a dozen others just as important down in the office with the 302's signed off..." Scully spoke soothingly, hoping to lower Mulder's tone.
The office door opened and Skinner leaned against the frame. "Is there a problem, Agent?" he asked with barely suppressed irritation.
"Yes sir, there is." Mulder led a resigned Scully into Skinner's office and placed himself in his usual chair. Scully cast a helpless look at Skinner's expression. He didn't look happy.
Skinner closed the door and went to the desk. "You're here about the Rosicrucian case, aren't you?"
"Yes sir, I am. I don't understand why you turned down the 302. The Bureau routinely investigates the theft of antiquities, and in this case it's especially important given the age and rarity...."
"I am well aware of the age and rarity of this antiquity. I read the file very carefully and am confident that the San Francisco Field Office is capable of handling it. There is nothing here that brings to mind an X file."
"On the contrary, the circumstances of the mummy's disappearance make this an X file. It got up, unwrapped itself and walked away! This is clearly a case of the paranormal. Sir, a janitor saw a figure that looked a lot like the mummy catch a bus outside the museum!" Mulder found himself standing over the desk, waving the 302 at Skinner's face.
Skinner got up and stood nose to nose with Mulder. "Agent, I have my reasons for refusing this case and I am requiring you to respect them. You are not going to have any involvement in this matter and that's final!"
Mulder glared at him for a moment, then felt small hands tugging at the back of his jacket. Scully, trying to sooth the situation as usual.
"C'mon Mulder, I think we're done here," she murmured to him as she pulled him back into his chair.
Mulder studied Skinner's closed face for a moment then shook his head. "I don't think we are. Why is it you don't want us on this case? You're afraid of something, aren't you? Have you been warned off it?" Mulder looked at a silent Skinner, then folded the 302 and tucked it into his pocket.
"I have several weeks of vacation time which I am required to take before the end of the year. I, therefore, would like to take the next three weeks off, effective Monday. I'll be flying to California, so I expect to be out of touch for some time...." Mulder spoke slowly, his eyes meeting Skinner's now worried ones.
Skinner let out the breath he was holding and leaned back in his chair. "All right, Agent. You win. I do have a reason for refusing the 302 but I don't know if you'll believe it.....I don't quite believe it myself."
"Try me," Mulder kept the look of satisfaction from his face as he realized that, whatever it was, it had clearly upset Skinner.
"I....had a dream last night. About you two and this case." Skinner's gaze passed between Mulder and Scully, looking for disbelief. Scully kept her face neutral, while Mulder leaned forward.
"A prophetic dream?" Mulder asked with interest.
"I...hope not. Put bluntly, if you go on this case you'll die. Horribly."
"Can you be more specific?" Scully asked crisply.
Skinner turned haunted eyes away from her and began to talk. "I...was in an Egyptian tomb and heard screaming, terrible screaming. I followed it and found you and Mulder. You were being held back by some kind of shadowy creatures while Mulder....was being hacked to pieces by a creature I can't identify. It was so real that I could feel the plaster on the walls, smell the torches, the blood. God, I haven't had a dream like that since 'Nam."
There was silence while both agents digested this.
Scully began in a soft voice, "Sir, this may only be the result of your having read the file before sleeping. You may have projected what happened to the mummy onto your natural concern for Agent Mulder and I...." she faded as she realized how thin her argument was. She tried again. "Sir, it's only a dream after all."
"I believe him," Mulder said quietly. "But it makes me all the more curious about this case. We aren't going to Egypt after all, so the tomb might be symbolic of something else. I would like to follow this up, sir."
Skinner gave Mulder a long look, then his mouth twisted. "All right, Agents. The case is yours since I have no *logical* reason to deny it to you. However, there will be three agents investigating this. I'm going with you."
August 1, 2000
"Mulder, how do you pick these luxury accomodations?" Scully sighed as she set down her suitcase onto the naugahide sofa and eyed the velvet painted walls of her motel room.
"Scully, it's clean, within the department's budget and next door to the Cozy Restaurant. What more do you want? Hey, I even got you the room with the velvet Elvis! How can you complain about that?"
Scully heaved her overnight bag onto the bed and turned to face her smirking partner.
"Has it ever occurred to you that not everyone wants to spend their life on the road, staying in seedy motels so that they can investigate the secret of the mummy's tomb? This is ridiculous. Local law enforcement can handle this just as well as we can."
"But Scully, this is the Mummy! We're talking Lon Chaney stuff here. Aren't you at least interested in how the mummy got bus fare?"
She was silent and turned away from him as she fumbled for the key to her suitcase. "Mulder, I normally don't believe in precognition or anything like that, but..."
"Skinner's nightmare worries you, huh?" Mulder's voice came over her shoulder. "Well, you said it yourself. We are *not* in ancient Egypt here, so it's unlikely that I'm going to be dismembered a la Osiris, or....our....mummy..."
"Mulder?" Scully turned and saw Mulder eyeing the velvet Elvis, with a meditative expression.
"I was just thinking....according to legend the god Osiris was murdered by his brother Set, first imprisoned in an ornately decorated box and then hacked into 14 pieces which were then thrown into the river. Odd that this mummy came to the same number of parts."
"Mulder, you aren't suggesting that we have the body of a god here, are you? By all accounts, he was pretty dead when he arrived." Scully adopted her habitual stance, arms folded skeptically across her chest.
"But he wasn't dead when he left, was he?" Mulder grinned a challenge at Scully. Just as she was about to give him the putdown he deserved, Skinner arrived.
"Agent Mulder, do you two normally stay in rat traps like this?" Skinner caught his agents' postures. "I see that you two have already begun discussing the case. We'd better hurry if we want to make our appointment with Robert Horace at the museum."
Still grinning, Mulder nodded and retrieved the rental car keys. "Bob was the one who referred us to the case. I've known him online for about two years, ever since I did some research into the Rosicrucian Order."
Scully and Skinner followed him down to the car.
"He's a Rosicrucian, then?" Scully asked, her voice suspicious. "Don't they advertise in every two bit magazine, send your fifty bucks and find enlightenment?"
Mulder held her door open and slid into the driver's seat. As Skinner moved into the back, Mulder turned the key. "Well, enlightenment costs a bit more and you have to study for five years to get the basics but that's essentially it."
"Agent Mulder, you sound like somebody who's already a member." Skinner leaned forward from the back seat.
"Well, Bob has been trying to get me to join for years but I keep telling him that I just don't have the time. I'm too busy finding enlightenment in my own way. Well, here we are.....Wow."
Mulder parked the car in front of a row of sphinxes and palm trees which surrounded a square fountain. Steps led up to the huge, two-storey sandstone building fronted by papyrus shaped pillars. Suspended behind the pillars were huge double doors of what looked like beaten gold.
"My God, we might as well be in Egypt," murmured Scully.
"Yeah...Bob said that the museum is a recreation of an actual temple in Egypt, near Tel El Amarna, I think." Mulder drank in the building.
Skinner was silent and quietly double-checked his weapon.
The three walked up the steps and Mulder hauled open the golden portal, allowing Skinner and Scully to precede him into the building.
Mulder showed his badge to the security guard. "We're here to see Robert Horace, Agents Scully, Mulder and Assistant Director Skinner."
The guard looked carefully at the badges offered. "Mr. Horace's office is in the administrative building. Sheri will show you." He motioned and a young woman came from behind a display.
"Hello, I'm Sheri. I understand you want to see Mr. Horace? All right, I'll take you there."
She led them back through the huge doors and took a right turn around the building. The agents followed her through a lush rose garden peopled with sculptures and mosaics before they found themselves facing an even more impressive sandstone building.
"All of these buildings look like Egyptian temples," Mulder commented.
"That's right. The entire complex was designed that way. As much as possible, the grounds recreate what we imagine a temple complex looked like during the reign of Akhenaten."
She led them through an ordinary glass door and handed them over to a receptionist who checked their badges as thoroughly as the security guard had. Then they were led into Horace's office.
"Mulder! It's great to see you!" A thin man in his middle thirties got up from a desk and stretched his hand out to Mulder.
As they shook hands, Horace paused a moment and eyed Mulder searchingly, then allowed himself to be introduced to Scully and Skinner.
"As you already know, I'm the Assistant Curator here at the museum. I had the enviable job of unpacking the mummy when it arrived recently." Horace sat back in his chair.
"Just how valuable was the mummy? Is money a reason it could have been stolen?" Scully had her notebook out.
"Value? It was priceless. The museum acquired it from a private collector's bequest. Apparently it had been in their family for over a hundred years. On preliminary examination, it appears to be the oldest complete mummy in Egyptian history. Both the mummy and its casket were in a state of excellent preservation, unusual for its age. The earliest mummies date to the Fourth or Fifth Dynasties, circa 2600 B.C. This mummy carbon tested at double that age."
"Surely there was a mistake in the sample collection. You'd be going back into pre-history," Scully commented.
"Not quite that far, but almost. This mummy dates to the pre-dynastic period of Egyptian history. And no, there is no mistake. We've tested it multiple times with samples from all over the body and the casket."
"So, you think this might have been the body of one of the first Pharoahs?" Mulder asked quietly.
Horace looked at him directly. "Or the first. Legend says that Osiris was the first ruler of Egypt."
"And he was chopped into 14 pieces, just as this mummy was," Mulder finished for him. "Do you give any credence to the account that has the mummy leaving the museum of its own accord?"
Skinner and Scully shot quelling glances at Mulder. He ignored them both, fixing his attention on Horace.
"Mulder, you know that I accept possibilities far beyond what are considered normal for our society. Still....a mummy walking? That seems too Hollywood, doesn't it?"
"Not unless it had a reason to walk. May we see the casket and case?"
"Certainly. The mummy had only just been put on display in the museum when it disappeared. Come on, I'll show you."
Horace led them past the hawk-eyed receptionist and out to the museum again. Mulder could feel Skinner's nervousness as the walked through the gardens, and Scully's unease as well.
"So, Bob, for the sake of argument, what reasons would Osiris have to take a hike?"
Horace stopped short of the building, thinking. "If this were Osiris, then the body is just a shell anyway. His wife, Isis, restored him to life through her spells and thereby ensured the fertility of the earth. It could be said that the integrity of the earth, its balance if you will, depends on the integrity of Osiris' presence. He represents order and law as opposed to Set's chaos and darkness. Osiris might remove himself if he were endangered by dark forces. But that couldn't happen here."
Horace began walking swiftly toward the museum again.
Mulder ran to catch up to him and grabbed his arm. "What do you mean, that can't happen here?"
"I...can't explain. We...well, this is a pretty protected place, metaphysically speaking. I don't see anything of that magnitude coming in here."
"Excuse me, magnitude of what?" Skinner asked bluntly.
"Evil, the forces of evil. We've been warding the property since it was built. Nothing evil can come in here without our knowing about it. Nothing. Come on, I'll show you the exhibit."
Horace led the agents back through the golden doors and past the foyer into a room, set several steps down. The room was darkened and lined with glass cases, most containing mummies.
"Oh my..." Scully bent and studied the bodies preserved before her.
"This is the best collection on the West Coast of the United States," said Horace proudly. "The new mummy would have been the gem of our collection." He gestured toward a case that was taped off in yellow.
Mulder moved forward to study it. "Hey Scully, looks like the glass was broken from the inside. See? No shards inside the case."
"And there's quite a pile of wrappings inside the casket. Are they being examined?"
Horace nodded. "Your San Francisco field office took a sample, but I can tell you that the quantity of linen wrappings is consistent with a completely unwrapped mummy."
"Odd that he'd decide to go out without being dressed. I mean, where's his modesty. Bob, did you want to say something?"
Horace looked distinctly uncomfortable. "Uh, Mulder, one of the reasons I asked for you is that you'll understand what I'm about to say. We discovered...um...a set of coveralls missing from the janitors' closet the day after the theft. We did tell the police and they theorized that the thief may have disguised his appearance with them."
"But that isn't what you think, is it?" Mulder said gently. "You know that the mummy put the clothes on so he'd blend in."
"What's this?" They turned to see Skinner at the far end of the room, standing by a large, stone cave-like structure.
"Oh, that's the mock-up of a rock cut tomb. We give tours of it when this part of the museum is open. We had to shut this entire room down when the mummy was stolen."
Skinner eyed the doorway, his adam's apple moving as he swallowed. "Mind if I look inside?" he rasped.
Scully moved in behind him. "Why don't we all take a look. Mulder?"
Mulder nodded. "Bob, do we need flashlights?"
"Oh, no. The area is lit inside, albeit dimly. Adds to the suspense. Please help yourselves. While you're inside, I'll see if the security guard has brought over the documentation on the mummy yet."
Visibly shaken, Skinner led the agents into the tomb.
They walked down a long, musty smelling hallway, painted with hieroglyphics.
"Was this what you saw in your dream?" asked Mulder.
"I don't know," Skinner said shortly. They walked through an anti-room peopled by broken statues, then walked through a doorway and stopped abruptly behind Skinner, who'd frozen in his tracks.
In the far corner of the room stood a huge red granite sarcophagus, bordered by a 20 foot pit.
"Welcome to ancient Egypt," said Skinner grimly.
He slowly walked forward to the sarcophagus, dimly conscious that he was looking for the blood he'd seen spattered all over it. He shook his head. Of course there was no blood, it hadn't happened yet. He ran his hand over the cold stone of the sarcophagus and found it amazingly dust free. He started when he heard Scully's soft voice behind him.
"Sir, just because you dreamed of it doesn't mean it will happen."
Skinner sighed, never taking his eyes from the sarcophagus. "I dreamed of the attack that killed everybody in my unit except me, but I kept it to myself. Nobody wants a crackpot fighting next to him. They died. I watched. That won't happen this time."
"Sir, you can't let this get to you. Mulder and I have seen all kinds of strange things but we've always survived, haven't we Mulder? Mulder?"
She turned around and at first didn't see her partner. Then she heard Skinner curse under his breath and run to the corner of the room, where Mulder had crumpled to the floor.
Bright light, golden light and a shimmering blue sky. Mulder squinted, then struggled to sit up. His hands sifted through burning hot sand and, as he sat upright, he could see palm trees and pyramids in the distance. Pyramids?
"Hello, Mulder. I hope you aren't feeling too unwell. I know that this was unexpected." A tall, bearded man in linen robes walked around to Mulder's side and stood expectantly, then reached down a hand and helped him up.
Mulder noted that the man's arm was muscular and decorated with an ornate blue and gold armlet. A matching collar decorated the man's neck. Mulder blinked as he noticed the striped headdress fronted by a striking serpent and realized that he was in the presence of...what?
"Who are you? And, for that matter, where are we?" Mulder looked around and saw nothing familiar. "I'm hallucinating this, aren't I?"
"This is a sort of in-between place where we can talk. I hope you don't mind that it reflects my cultural preferences rather than yours. Why don't we sit down in the shade and talk." The man gestured toward a small stone temple that hadn't been there a moment before.
Mulder shrugged and followed him inside. The flat roof cut the sun's glare nicely as the man sat down on a stone bench and motioned for Mulder to sit as well. Mulder did, eyeing the small tiled fountain with lotus flowers nearby.
"You're Osiris, aren't you?" Mulder broke the silence. "You don't look dead. Or mummified."
The man laughed. "No, I'm not dead. That was the whole point of the mummification. My 'ka' or spirit is grounded in my mortal remains, but I don't abide there. But my continued existence does depend on the survival of my mummified body."
Osiris reached a hand into the fountain and stirred the waters. "You see, unlike the belief your people hold, my people have always seen that spirit and body are joined and dependent on one another. A sick spirit will sicken the body, and vice versa. Even after death, destruction of the body dooms the soul, at least for me."
"And you want me to prevent that," Mulder said flatly.
Osiris looked up hopefully. "That and more. I am the balance-point of the world. The powers that my wife used to revive me from death are centered in creation itself. In a real sense, I *am* vegetation, life, creation, order. Destroy me and chaos reigns."
"Are you saying that your physical body is threatened? By what? You've lasted thousands of years so far." Mulder felt himself beginning to sweat from the heat and pulled his jacket off, then loosened his tie.
"My danger is the same as it has always been. Set, my brother and my rival, has ever sought my destruction. When I was moved to the museum, I could sense his presence and my danger. Therefore, I removed myself to a place of safety until balance can be restored." Osiris sat calmly, but gave an entreating look at Mulder.
"So, I find your body and then what? It can't be as simple as that, can it?" Mulder folded his arms and watched Osiris. The man, god?, wasn't telling everything.
"Ever the trained investigator. Your skills are why I chose you, as well as your inherent nature. No, it isn't that easy. I used a great deal of magical power to reanimate myself and move to another place. That power must be restored, or the earth will suffer."
"Uh huh. I take it I'm off to find you the Holy Grail or something?"
"What my brother means is that he wants to use you to further his own goals." A man stepped through the doorway of the temple. "Hello, Osiris. It's been a long time." He was as tall as Osiris with dark auburn hair and beard, also dressed in linen but lacking the gold jewelry.
Osiris stood, his fists clenched. "Set, I knew that I couldn't keep you blinded forever."
"No, you have always underestimated me. Have you told him *everything* you want from him? I didn't think so." Set turned his attention on Mulder. "Osiris and Isis have used humans for centuries to build power, to keep power. The worship of centuries has kept their...batteries...charged, if you will, for a very long time. Now the worship is ended and Osiris has attempted to escape me, leaving him depleted. He needs power and needs it now, from the classic source." Set smiled grimly and leaned toward Mulder. "He needs it from you."
"What do you mean by that? I'm not a pagan worshipper," Mulder said levelly.
"He needs your blood, your human life-force. As it was in the old times, before humans learned to write or to build. With human worship we outgrew that need, but Osiris' power drain is very real. I would help you out by disposing of him for you, Mulder, but in this place of his creating I am powerless to do anything more than manifest. But heed my warning."
"Set, you were always the liar!" Osiris cried.
Set gave Osiris a long look. "And the winner is the one who writes the history. I *will* see you later, brother and we will finish things." Giving Mulder a last smile, Set vanished.
"Your brother implies the need for a human sacrifice. What is it you really want, Osiris?"
"Find my body, Mulder, please. You must not allow its destruction or the world will die as well. The chaos is already beginning. You will hear of worldwide disasters, famines, earthquakes, fires as the chaos spreads, fanned by my brother. You will be guided to me. My wife Isis is looking for me. You must lead her to me, and she can restore what is lost by her powers. I will be with you, watching you. But I can tell you no more or Set will hear. I cannot force you to help me or to give or do anything to me. You must choose to help. Follow the udjat. It will lead you to me. " Before Mulder could flinch away, Osiris placed his palm on Mulder's forehead. "Forget everything but your purpose, Mulder, until it is time to remember....And follow the udjat."
The light began to shimmer, like the sparkle of a mirage on the desert sands. The shimmer accellerated until all of reality dissolved.
Skinner got to him first and was loosening Mulder's tie as Scully came to a stop.
"He's still breathing. No sign of trauma," Skinner said quickly, pulling off his jacket and covering Mulder with it. Scully nodded and knelt down next to Mulder, one hand on his neck feeling for a pulse, the other pulling his eyelids open.
"Pulse is a bit fast, but normal range. Eyes react to light." She moved his head into her lap and began examining his skull with her hands. "No sign of head injury; you'd better call 911. I don't know what this is."
"I have that paperwork you want..." Bob stopped in the entryway, a sheaf of papers in one hand. "My God, what's happened?" He rushed over to Mulder's side, as Skinner began talking into his cell phone.
"He just passed out without warning. Skinner's calling the paramedics," Scully said without taking her eyes off Mulder.
"I hope it's nothing serious," Bob leaned forward and touched Mulder's forehead. "He doesn't feel feverish."
Mulder began to stir, then his eyes opened and he quietly scanned the faces surrounding him. "Mulder? Do you know where you are?" Scully asked gently.
"Um...museum?" Mulder closed his eyes and tried to catch the wisp of thought that was floating away. Something he'd seen? Dreamed? Important.
"What day is it? Who's the President of the United States?" Scully carefully watched his reactions. Mulder grinned up at her.
"Today is a work day, August first, we are in beautiful San Jose California and the President of the United States is really Hillary Clinton but nobody's admitting it. Can I get up now?"
Skinner hid a relieved grin as Scully helped Mulder to stand. "Should I call off the paramedics?" Skinner asked.
"I don't know. I'd like him to be examined. It's not normal for a healthy person to have fainting spells. Mulder? How do you feel? Are you dizzy?" Scully frowned as Mulder dodged away from her grasp and stood by himself, swaying a bit.
"I'm fine. It was probably the heat and that Cozy Restaurant breakfast I had, nothing serious. C'mon, I'm okay. Call off the paramedics."
Skinner pulled out his phone and began talking again.
"Okay, but we're going to the emergency room and having you looked at, okay? I don't want you passing out on me again."
"All right," Mulder said absently, then realized that his left hand was clenched tight around something. He opened his hand and found a small turquoise and silver amulet in the shape of an eye. "That's strange. I don't recall picking this up anywhere," he muttered.
"Mulder, what's that?" Scully picked it up from Mulder's palm, then gasped as it sent a tingle through her hand. She stared down at it, glowing in her fingers.
"What a beautiful udjat," Bob commented. "You didn't tell me you collected Egyptian antiquities, Mulder."
"No, that has to be one of yours. I've never seen it before just now." Mulder rubbed his hand, trying to get the tingling sensation to diminish.
Bob picked it up, but seemed to feel nothing as his fingers touched it. He looked it over closely. "No, it doesn't belong to the museum. I've viewed and catalogued everything in our collection, even the artifacts not on display. No, this definitely isn't ours and I wouldn't lay claim to it." Bob looked up at Mulder speculatively. "If Someone chose to give it to you, then I'd say you should keep it."
"Someone?" Scully queried as Bob handed the udjat back to Mulder. "And just what is that thing?"
Bob laughed nervously and ran a hand through his hair. "It's a very special amulet, an udjat, called the Eye of Horus. Horus was.."
"The son of Osiris and Isis, known for his sharp vision and wisdom. He is his father's eye and hands on earth..." Mulder spoke in a flat tone, his eyes never straying from the amulet in his hand.
"Very good. The udjat has the power to heal sickness and, legend says, was used to bring Osiris back to life," Bob finished as Mulder curled his fingers around the udjat and put it into his pocket.
"Well, I for one want to heal the sick by taking Agent Mulder to the nearest hospital and having him examined." Skinner gave Mulder a very firm look. "Bob, we'll call you tomorrow about following up on the case further."
"That's fine. There's a hospital just down the street...."
Two hours later
"Like I told you, I feel fine," Mulder complained as he put his tie back on. "I don't need to go back to the motel to 'rest' and I don't have heat stroke."
"Mulder, the doctor said it's 101 degrees today and they're seeing a lot of people affected by the heat. You aren't unusual in that, and I for one don't mind sleeping off my jetlag." Scully grabbed his suit jacket and draped it over her arm. "Besides, the motel has a pool."
"And Agent, your boss says that you are taking the afternoon off. You always obey your boss, don't you?" Skinner followed the two agents to the front door of the hospital.
Mulder sighed as Skinner got out the keys to the rental car. "Okay, I know when I'm beat. But I feel fine."
"Sure you do, let's see you keep on feeling that way," commented Skinner as he watched Mulder get into the car's back seat.
Back at the motel, Scully eyed Mulder silently until he gave up and excused himself to take a nap in his room.
"I'm feeling pretty tired, sir, I think I'll take a nap as well," Scully commented.
Seeing the weary look on her face, Skinner's face softened. "Of course. It's been a long day. I think I'll take the car and go back to the museum, look around. I'll be back in a few hours."
Scully watched him leave, then slowly retired to her room. Mulder had gotten two rooms with connecting doors for himself and Scully, then another room downstairs for Skinner. She snorted as she pondered the wholly incorrect assumptions Skinner might make about the arrangement.
Damned air conditioning wasn't working. She swore and thumped the machine, then held her hand against it. Warm air. Not cold, not hot but warm air. Cheap motels.
The heat was making her sleepy. She stripped off her suit and hung it carefully in the closet, then, in bra and panties considered the air conditioner. Oh well, nobody was going to disturb her for a few hours. She pulled off the bra and panties and dropped them to the floor and lay gratefully down on the bedspread. She luxuriated in the breeze, such as it was, on her naked skin then was soon asleep.
Brilliant sky, blue like lapis, filled her eyes. And everything held a living golden light, the kind of light she imagined shone at the world's beginning.
Luxuriantly, she stretched her arms overhead and yawned, feeling her long braided hair just brushing her bared shoulders. Nobody should wear anything more than a few beads on such a day as this, she decided as she stood up from the pallet under the awning. She motioned for the girl with the fan to leave, and began to walk through the gardens.
He was here, she knew it, she could feel his presence. He was golden like the day, her husband, her lover. And he was such a man, so intelligent, so wise. For all the deep knowledge she claimed for her own she knew that this man held greater secrets within him than she would ever know. And he loved her, that was the best secret of all.
"Husband, why are you wandering the gardens alone?" she called to the tall, dark man standing beside the lotus pool.
"Waiting for you, my beloved. Are you rested?" He smiled deeply into her eyes before moving close and cupping her chin with a hand. She loved his long-fingered hands, and how fragile and small she felt beside his height. She smiled up at him.
"I am rested and have energy for...anything my lord might wish," she said teasingly.
"Anything? My Isis, that leaves much to the imagination."
"Ah, Osiris, I know that between the two of us we can contrive something." She grabbed his hand and led him back to her pallet in the shade. Her few beads and his linen kilt were soon lying on the brick pavement.
She spread her legs and looked up at him with shining eyes. "My lord, the land of Egypt lies before you. Do you worship her as you see fit."
She felt her body sink beneath his as he moved upon her. His hands were hot on her skin, stroking down her breasts, stopping to thumb her nipples gently and kiss her between them. She gasped and arched her back at the sensation, then felt the coolness as his tongue traced a path down her belly.
The heat intensified as his fingers came to rest on her thighs, gently parting them further as he kissed the lips inside. Then he worked inwards with tongue and teeth and so much imagination. She sucked in a deep breath and slowly let it out in a moan.
"Does my goddess approve?" He murmured.
She clutched his hair in her fingers and pushed him back down. "Yes. Don't stop," she said frantically. "Don't sto...ohhhhhhhh..."
She jerked with the spasms but he wasn't done yet. While she fought to catch her breath she felt him at her entrance, solid and powerful. She smiled, opened her eyes, then relaxed her muscles to receive him.
His rhythm was gentle, then roughened and became powerful, pushing her further into the pallet. She sighed and clutched at him, holding him as closely as she could. Osiris was passionate, that was what she loved about him. Her husband....
She could feel him moving harder, harder, on to his completion and she began to feel a strange sensation.
Noise, a strange creaking sound, and a banging, in time to his rhythm. Oh...she recalled, that must be the box spring and the headboard is hitting the wall. Good thing we don't have neighbors.
Box spring. Headboard.
Dana Scully opened her eyes, wide awake, just as Fox Mulder gave a loud, satisfied groan and collapsed between her thighs in a liquid rush.
Dana Scully looked up at Mulder's half-closed eyelids in startlement and shock. He moved his body inside hers a few more times then stilled, a blissful expression on his face.
No, this wasn't real. This was a dream.
She could feel the cool line of his saliva trailing down her belly, then became aware of the sticky soreness between her legs. He moved his lips down her neck before fastening them on her nipple.
"Isis, my love...." he murmured into her skin.
Oh my God. This is real. This is REAL.
"Mulder! What the hell are you doing?" her voice rose with panic. "Mulder?"
His half-open eyes shot wide open he and pulled his lips from her breast, pushing himself onto his elbows in one motion. His green eyes stared down into her blue ones with shock. "S...Scully? What?" He ran his tongue over his lips, remembering where they'd just been, and then she could see the panic set in as he mentally took inventory of the rest of his body parts.
"Oh shit!" He rolled off of her and darted off the bed, backing away from her, his hands outstretched. "Scully...I don't understand...? What happened? Scully...what did I do to you?"
Scully, in the meantime was scrabbling together as many bedcovers as she could manage and was pulling them up to her chin, which wasn't very easy since it looked like they'd done it on top of the bedspread. Still, she was motivated and she managed.
"Mulder, what are you doing in my bedroom?" her voice rose in outrage.
Mulder had managed to find a towel and was carefully covering himself with it, still backing away from her. "I...I'm...wait a minute, Scully. This is my room. I have the print of the dogs playing poker, you have the velvet Elvises, remember?"
She looked around and saw that he was right, then demanded, "Okay, then, what am I doing in your room? In your...bed?" She gulped on the last.
Mulder's eyes were wide with shock. "Scully, I...I'm sorry. I don't know what I was doing to you...God, I'd never hurt you, never..."
He pulled the chair back to a far corner of the room and sat down. "Scully, I raped you, didn't I?" He scrubbed his face with his hands. "You'd better call 911 and have them pick me up..."
"Mulder, we're not thinking straight here. Before I woke up and you were...uh....I was having a dream about Isis and Osiris in a garden doing pretty much what I think we were doing."
Mulder took his hands from his face. "You too? I dreamed I was Osiris, making love to the woman of my dreams." He looked at her sadly. "But I wasn't making love, was I? They have laws against what I was doing. Did I hurt you?" "Hurt me? No, Mulder, you didn't hurt me. The noise of the bed woke me, and I saw you...um...completing the act of intercourse and naturally I was shocked and surprised, so I yelled out. Mulder, I'm certain that you weren't awake until after I yelled. You obviously didn't know what you were doing." She gave him a sympathetic look. "It was a strange experience but it wasn't rape. During most of it I was dreaming that I was Isis and that Osiris was making love to me, at my invitation. And I heard you call me Isis."
"In my dream I was Osiris, making love to my wife. It's as though we were possessed. We were *them*," Mulder adjusted the towel more securely over his loins. "You know, in many religions the faithful seek to be possessed by the gods, to share their wisdom and their power."
"Well, I'd like to skip sharing in their sex life," Scully muttered, then blanched. "Mulder, what else could they make us do?" Her face flushed bright red at the possibilities.
Mulder finally grinned. "Probably not all the things you're imagining. They didn't have this effect on us until we were asleep. Maybe they control the subconscious, dreaming mind, rather than the conscious one."
"So, does this mean that we sleep with locked doors from now on? What happens if Skinner finds us cuddled up in bed together, being Isis and Osiris again? Damn it, Mulder, I want to choose my own partners, thank you, not have some ancient god do it for me." She planted both arms angrily at her waist , forgetting to clutch the blanket against her chest, then frantically scrabbled the cloth to cover again.
Mulder looked wistful and averted his eyes. "I'm sorry, Scully. Maybe we should tell Skinner and have him share the room with me, to prevent any more things like this from happening again.
"More things like what....? Excuse me...." Skinner took one look at his undressed agents and backed out of the room's connecting door. Both Mulder and Scully began diving for clothing while Skinner averted his eyes.
"Was I interrupting something, Agents?" Skinner's voice was icy cold. "While the Bureau does not frown on personal relationships between its agents, these things should...ah...be reserved for your personal time, not indulged in while on a case."
"Sir, that's just the problem, this was not anticipated and may be related to the case," Scully said breathlessly around the sweatshirt and jeans she'd hurriedly put on.
"Would you like to explain that?" Skinner eyed the rumpled and stained bedspread with a jaundiced eye.
"I think I can," said Mulder. "You had better sit down."
After much hemming and hawing, both agents managed to tell Skinner the gist of what had happened. Far from being amazed, he merely looked tired.
"So let me get this straight. You need me to share Mulder's room so that I can act as a kind of chaperone to prevent these gods from possessing you again and making you have sex."
"The way you say it, it sounds so tacky," commented Mulder.
"Sir, honestly, we woke up from the same dream and found ourselves...uh......" her eyes caught Mulder's and begged him to finish the sentence. He grinned back and let her flounder.
"I get the picture," Skinner sighed. "When we started this trip the most I had to worry about was Mulder being dismembered by some madman. It never occurred to me that he might be at risk for sexual harassment charges. All right, Agents," he held up his hands. "I believe you. Agent Mulder and I will share a room beginning tonight and I will prevent any night-time ramblings from either of you." He shook his head, perplexed. The office had been waiting and speculating for years on when these two would finally get a clue and become overtly romantic, and now he'd been elected the duenna.
"Was your trip to the museum fruitful?" asked Scully trying to change the subject.
"Not terribly. The janitor swears that he saw the mummy get on a number 36 bus and ride away. He had no description other than to say that the man looked remarkably healthy and had a nice tan."
"From the natron..." Mulder looked up as two pairs of eyes watched him patiently. "Natron was a preservative salt used to mummify bodies. It darkens the skin color.....what the...?"
A loud rumbling sound echoed throughout the motel and Mulder stood up as the room began shaking. The pictures on the wall rattled as the walls swayed.
"Earthquake! Get into a doorway!" yelled Scully as she dashed for the connecting door. Skinner and Mulder headed for the entrance door.
The earth kept shaking, and rolling. Mulder concentrated on keeping his balance, trying to avoid falling over. He could hear the sound of glass breaking, then watched in awe as the window of his room shattered, then the plaster over his bed slowly crumbled into little pieces and collapsed in a heap.
Finally the shaking stopped
Scully crouched in the doorway, her hair covered with plaster dust. Skinner slowly took his glasses off and wiped them clean. Distantly, they could hear car alarms going off and further, the sound of fire engines.
"Get out of the building now, before the aftershocks begin. Now!" yelled Scully and herded them out the door. They quickly ran down the stairs and into the parking lot, joining the other motel guests.
"I lived in San Diego when I was a kid," she explained. "We had earthquake drills. That was a pretty big one."
"How big, you think?" Mulder asked curiously, eyeing a wide crack in the plaster of the motel.
"I don't know. It's hard to say without knowing how far we were from the epicenter."
Mulder felt a shiver go through him. He closed his eyes as visions began to flood his mind.
"Mulder? What's wrong?" Scully's concerned voice brought him out of his trance.
"I remember what I saw today, when I passed out. He told me that there would be disasters. Unless Osiris' body is found and...revitalized....somehow, the disasters will only get worse. This is only the beginning."
"Who told you?" Skinner demanded.
Mulder stumbled to the curb bordering the parking lot and sat down suddenly. "HE did. Osiris. I saw him in a..a kind of vision."
Mulder's eyes stared ahead, unfocused and his voice grew toneless. "He was in danger, so he left the museum to protect himself. His physical body is so tied to his spiritual essence, that to destroy the body destroys him. After a thousands of years, Set desires to achieve a final victory over the house of Osiris. If this is allowed to occur, the forces of chaos and disorder will prevail. There will be firestorms, earthquakes, disease and madness. All forces for law, enlightenment and justice will sleep until the world is torn apart by it....."
"Is that what's happening now?" Scully's voice was soft as she gently felt for his pulse .
"It has begun and will only worsen. I must use the udjat to find him; this is a tool he has given me that will enable my eyes to see with the eyes of a god, to know with his wisdom, to discern things not comprehended by man. The udjat is the Eye of Horus, the all-seeing one, son of Osiris, who shares in his Father's powers....." Mulder reached into his jeans pocket and held the amulet out to the sunlight.
It seemed to catch the light and hold it, glowing softly in Mulder's palm. He closed his fist over it and replaced it in his pocket, then lapsed into silence.
"What's wrong with him? He looks like he's in some kind of trance," Skinner crouched next to Scully.
She nodded. "I can't explain it. He's not under the influence of any drugs I can name. I can only conjecture that this is..some left over influence from what affected the two of us earlier today. For lack of a better term," she looked troubled. "He's possessed by a god."
Skinner's face went still and he stood upright as a black and white patrol car turned into the motel driveway. A police officer got out of the car.
"Excuse me, but you wouldn't happen to be Walter Skinner, would you?"
"Yes, I am. Can I help you Officer...Brown?" Skinner walked up to the officer, who was casting a glance at Mulder.
"Do you need an ambulance? With that quake, lots of people are suffering from head injuries, shock, you name it. He doesn't look so good."
Skinner looked back at Mulder and struggled to maintain an expression of unconcern. "No, he'll be fine. Just a little post-earthquake traumatic distress. His first earthquake."
The cop nodded. "Okay, then. Well, I am glad to meet up with you so quickly. The phones are out in this area, so we got a request from the FBI Field Office in San Francisco to locate you. It looks like some terrorists have seized the Federal Building and six Federal Judges in the wake of the earthquake, and they are asking for your assistance, since you're down here from D.C. They're sending a helicopter."
Skinner frowned. "I can take the freeway and drive. How bad is it?"
The cop sighed. "The Golden Gate bridge lost a quarter of its span in the quake, five overpasses on Highway are down and Highway 101 has developed no less than 5 sinkholes. Both freeways are shut down and traffic is being re-routed through side streets. The only way you'll get there today is by flying. They're saying it was an 8.2 on the Richter scale, and half of San Francisco has been flattened."
As the cop finished his sentence, they all heard a rumbling noise and the earth began trembling again.
"Shit! Aftershock! Everybody get away from the buildings! Come on!" The cop bellowed at the top of his lungs and dragged Skinner to the center of the parking lot. Scully grabbed Mulder and pulled him after.
The quake was over much more quickly than the first, but left more devastation. The radio in the patrol car went wild, and the officer listened grimly to the dispatcher.
"10-04, I'm on my way. Mr. Skinner I need to drop you off at the airport asap, there are about five different crises that need my attention."
Skinner turned toward Mulder and Scully. "Agents, I want you to remain here and continue working on the current investigation."
"Sir, we might be of help to you in San Francisco," Scully began but Skinner cut her off.
"Agent Scully, if there is even the remotest chance that the mummy's disappearance is causing this, then your investigation becomes the priority. I'll keep in touch. Take care of yourselves."
"Yes sir," Scully replied as Skinner got into the patrol car and left.
Mulder abruptly shook his head and swayed. "Huh? What? What happened? How did I get out here? Where's Skinner?"
Scully looked at him intently. "You went into some kind of trance, and you spoke. Do you remember any of this?"
"I remember that I started to tell you and Skinner about my vision of Osiris, and the warnings he gave me, then...nothing until just now. I dropped into another trance, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did. You foretold all kinds of disasters unless Osiris can be saved from the power of Set. A San Jose P.D. black-and-white came to pick up the Assistant Director. The quake has resulted in chaos in San Francisco, including some terrorist activity that they need Skinner's help on. He left us here to follow up on the case. The quake was an 8.2 and has already destroyed half of San Francisco. You predicted firestorms, earthquakes and other destruction unless Set is stopped." Scully paused. "I don't want you to think that I give credence to the possibility that the earthquake was caused by the theft of a 6000 year old mummy, but..."
Mulder grinned. "But you're scared shitless. Well, I'm not exactly calm about this either." He looked down at his jeans and t-shirted body. "I don't suppose it's safe to go back to the room to retrieve my suits?"
A check with the manager determined that Mulder's room was uninhabitable, as was Scully's. Also unfortunately, he had only one usable room available for rent.
"But why can't we get two rooms," Scully wailed in dismay.
"Look, I'm sorry, ma'am, and I'll bring in an extra bed. But we just had an major earthquake and everybody on the planet needs a roof over their heads tonight. I've booked every undamaged room I got, except this one. It's either this or sleep on the street. You aren't gonna have much luck anyplace else, either, I'm afraid."
"It'll be okay, Scully," Mulder whispered softly. "I don't sleep much anyway."
She shot him a look, daring him to be joking, but when he appeared sincere she nodded dispiritedly. "All right, we'll have to take it then. But do bring in a rollaway bed."
The two agents moved their dusty bags to the new room. Mulder set his carefully next to Scully's in the closet, then took a seat at the table and gave her a solemn look.
"Scully, don't you think we should talk?"
"About what?" her voice pitched high.
"About THIS, about what happened this afternoon, about what might happen tonight despite both of us."
"Mulder, I don't think I'm ready to talk about any of this," her voice trembled as she wrung her hands together.
Mulder took a deep breath and stared deep into her eyes. "Scully, what are you afraid of? Are you afraid of me?"
"Mulder, I don't know what you're talking about. Of course I'm not afraid of you..." She reluctantly sat opposite him at the small melamine table, but couldn't look at him. "What happened today was..." She sighed and buried her burning face in her hands. "Oh Mulder, I don't know what it was, but I'm afraid of it. When I woke up...and we were there...and you were...." She closed her eyes and covered them with trembling fingers.
Mulder took her hand and held the cold fingers, warming them between both hands.
"Scully, when you were asleep this afternoon, who were you and what did you think was happening?"
"I was...a woman called Isis and I was busily trying to seduce my husband, Osiris, in our garden." She smiled, remembering.
"What did you feel for your husband?" Mulder leaned forward, studying her.
"I would have walked through fire for him. He was my match, my mate, the one who made my life complete. I was making love to the other half of my soul..."
Mulder gave her a twisted smile, "So, asleep you were making love to your soul-mate, a god. Then you woke up and it was...me. I'm not surprised you got mad."
Scully retrieved her hand and laid it on the table between them. "Mulder, I was scared and startled. I fell asleep in my own bed, had an incredibly erotic dream, then awakened," she gave him a wry smile. "In a completely unexpected way."
"And that's all it was? Unexpected?" Mulder asked sadly.
She looked at him quietly for a moment. "Mulder, what do you want from me? What do you need to know?"
Mulder sighed. "Scully, we've been dancing around this for seven years but never really talking. Well, I don't think we have a choice anymore. We *have* to talk now, try to understand....how things lie between us."
"How...?" Her voice cracked and she swallowed hard. "Mulder, the fact that we were...compelled...doesn't have anything to do with us...and...our relationship."
"I think it does. Osiris told me that he couldn't force me to do anything I didn't want to do. I think that holds true for you as well. How much of your actions were Isis and how much were Dana Scully?"
"What about you, Mulder? You got up pretty fast when you woke up." Scully leaned back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest.
"Yeah, I did. I thought for sure I'd hurt you, done something to you. But Scully, I didn't want to leave that bed. Those first few moments of consciousness, all I knew was that I was someplace warm and loving and incredibly safe. I could smell your body, your cologne, the essence that is Dana Scully. No other woman could reproduce that for me." His haunted eyes caught and held her.
"Mulder....I'm so afraid of this. Not you...this. I...don't do relationships well. When I woke up, at first I thought it was just an erotic dream, like others I've had about you. Then it became clear that this wasn't a dream, it was real. How could that have happened? For me to be in bed having sex with you could only mean that I'd somehow lost control of myself, done something incredibly stupid and ruined everything."
He could see tears welling in her eyes. "Is having sex with me such a terrible thing?" he asked softly.
"Oh no. No, not at all. I've wanted it for so very long. But Mulder, I've been afraid, too. Your respect is so important to me. I haven't wanted to lose your respect for me as an equal to become something lesser." She looked away, eyes fixed on the table. "I..don't have a lot of sexual experience Mulder. Jack Willis was the last real relationship I've ever had. I thought Jack loved me for my mind and my body. But..after a while I realized that he was making all the decisions, where we'd eat, where we'd stay, what we'd do." She snorted. "Hell, he even decided on the sexual positions we'd use. I realized that I'd lost something when I became his lover. I'd diminished somehow, from the intelligent professional woman I had been, I had instead become his appendage, not his partner."
Her honest eyes bored into his. "My partnership with you is the center of my life. I would never, ever do anything to jeopardize that. And..and it never seemed to blossom into anything romantic."
"Is that all it is, then? A partnership? It could be so much more, Scully. You do me a disservice to assume that I'd treat you the way that Jack did." Mulder looked right back. "I'm willing to take the risk if you are. I want more from you than your body or your mind. Dana Scully, I want all of you, the whole package. And I'm not looking for an appendage to my own glory, although it would be nice if you agreed with my theories from time to time." He gave her a lopsided smile.
She lifted her hand and stroked her fingers down his cheek. "Mulder..."
He caught her fingers and kissed them. "I'm serious, Scully."
"Mulder, are you sure you want this? I'm not afraid of you. I am afraid of...of *us*. If we become an *us*, who will we be then? The way we've been, I've had you as a friend, an equal, a partner. If I become your lover, what will you be then?'
Mulder leaned forward, across the table. "The man who loves you," he murmured before kissing her deeply. Her eyes closed on a sigh, and remained closed long after he had disengaged and sat back.
Finally her eyes opened, still troubled. "Mulder, if we wake up tomorrow morning after spending a night as Isis and Osiris, how will we know what was us and what was them?"
Mulder stood up and grabbed her hand. "By finding out what is *us* in advance. It's after 5 p.m. and we can't do anything more on the case today. Are you up for some exploration, Agent Scully?"
She smiled, her face flushing again, and nodded.
Mulder closed the drapes and locked the door, then carefully unplugged the phone and turned his cellphone off.
When he turned around he gasped as a naked Dana Scully stood before him.
"That was...quick," he choked.
"No it wasn't. It took 7 years. Strip, G-Man."
Mulder grinned and complied, shedding jeans and t-shirt in record time. As he sank on top of her into the bed, he heard her whisper into his ear.
"Mulder, what if we have another earthquake and the building collapses on top of us?"
"They'll find that we died with smiles on our faces," Mulder replied and ran his fingers down her hips, cupping her buttocks close to him. "Feel that?" He rubbed his erection against her. "That's *me*, Fox Mulder. And it's for nobody but you, Dana Scully."
"Then why don't I share my own input," she murmured and reached her hand down to stroke his length.
"Does this meet with your expectations?"
"Well, compared to a god, I'd say it was...passable."
"Passable? I'm offended, and determined to prove myself." Mulder's eyes gleamed in the dim room. "What position would you prefer first, Agent Scully?"
"This one," she held him tight and rolled them over until Mulder lay on his back and she straddled his hips. "I like to be in control. Think you can handle that, Agent Mulder?"
"Oh yeah....um...do with me what you will?"
"You got it, Mulder," she said as she lowered her mouth to his penis.
While she worked on arousing Mulder to a speechless frenzy, Scully could feel the world expanding and contracting around her. She closed her eyes to concentrate better on Mulder's pleasure and became aware of a spicy, exotic scent. She caught her breath and opened her eyes, to a shadowed, moonlit garden.
She gasped and let Mulder's penis fall from her lips as she saw a night full of stars overhead.
"M...Mulder?" She leaned closer to the man she was loving and prayed that the face would be familiar.
His green eyes opened dreamily, then he saw the stars. Mulder sat up. "Scully, those are stars overhead." He looked around and saw the trees and flowers. "We're in the garden, and I'm me, you're you. Aren't you?" he asked worriedly.
"Yeah, I'm me. But I feel...different. More alive, somehow. And I don't think it's just the sex." She moved next to Mulder and he held her close.
"I know, I feel it too. But I'm not afraid. I don't feel endangered."
"Nor should you be afraid," a woman in a linen gown stepped from around a tree. She was small, with delicate features, her dark hair in multiple braids, hanging to her shoulders.
She came to stand at the foot of the pallet where the couple still lay entwined and naked. "You are both chosen of me and my husband. You have no cause to fear this place or us."
"Isis?" Scully asked hesitantly.
"Yes, daughter. I am Isis, wife to Osiris. I greet you in his name. I have watched your search for wisdom and your struggles for some time. I am proud of your efforts to acquire learning. And you, Mulder," she turned to him. "You have many of the qualities my husband hoped to foster in mankind. You are fearless in your curiosity, but would give your life to see justice done. My husband and I need your help, desperately."
"I'm sure we'd be happy to assist, but you have us at a disadvantage.." Mulder gestured to their state of undress.
Isis gave a tinkling laugh. "Mulder, I have been fostering what happens between man and woman for centuries. There is no aspect of coupling that is foreign to me. Do you think that I find your nakedness any sort of distraction? Ah, how sensitive you mortals are. Here.." She gestured and Mulder found himself dressed in a linen kilt with lapis collar. Scully wore a linen gown like Isis' and a necklace of green faience scarabs.
"Do you feel more comfortable now? I am so glad you chose to make love. By doing so you unintentionally invoked me, as the goddess of love and sex. This makes it easier for us to meet and talk."
"Good, then maybe you can guide us to Osiris. We've already been warned about the dangers to him from Set." Mulder stood up and gave a hand to Scully. Isis led them across the moonlit garden to three chairs surrounding a moonlit table piled high with exotic fruit and wine.
"Sit, please. Have some dates, they are very good this year. I am glad that my husband has made contact with you. Alas I cannot help you to find him. I am unable to contact him directly, through Set's influence. I found you, Mulder, with my husband's hand upon you and...met with him last night for the first time in 2000 years."
"Two thousand years?" Scully gasped. "Why?"
Isis looked at the agents sadly. "With the fall of Egypt to the Romans, the last Egyptian monarch also fell. For all that Cleopatra was a Greek, she was ever a true daughter of the old faith. As all of the Pharoahs did, she safeguarded Osiris' body with ancient spells and prayers, handed down from ruler to ruler since the dawn of Egypt. When it became apparent that Egypt's cause was lost, my husband's body was hidden in a place of safety, where Set could not find it. I knew his location, but could not talk to him lest Set locate him through me. When an amateur archaeologist retrieved my husband's coffin, I was able to hide that fact from Set and succeeded in clouding his mind until just now. Set tracked my husband to the museum, where he intended to destroy him. To save himself, Osiris marshaled his powers and was able to leave and hide himself elsewhere."
She shook her head. "But where he is, I have no idea. Osiris chose you, Mulder, to find him and vanquish Set.
"How does he know about me?" asked Mulder.
"He read the thoughts of those who entered the museum. Your friend Bob had just read a recent message from you, discussing your avocation to, as you put it, 'find the truth'. My husband searched for your mind and found you to be a true son of Ma'at, so he had you brought here."
"How do you know this? You just said that you couldn't communicate with your husband because of Set," Scully broke in.
"And so I cannot, by myself. But the human mind is sufficiently complex and chaotic for Set to have difficulty reading it. Or did you think that we were using your bodies only for pleasure?" She smiled. "Of course, much of the emotions and delight originated with the two of you. Osiris and I were both quite impressed with the depth of your feelings for each other."
"See! Told ya!" Mulder whispered to Scully, then made an 'oof'ing sound as she elbowed him.
"So, you want us to find Osiris for you? But won't that just expose him to Set and endanger him again?" Scully asked.
"It is imperative that my husband be found. His powers are depleted, and his control over the Balance of the world is failing. The earthquakes today are a direct result of that, as are other cataclysms and social upsets, wars, strife. Set is in control and he's getting stronger. Unless Osiris is regenerated soon, it will be too late to save the planet."
"When we find him, how will you regenerate him?" Mulder tasted a date and then happily found a pile of sunflower seeds in a small earthenware bowl.
"We will discuss this when my husband is found. My spells are sufficient, but I will require your assistance."
Mulder started to nod, then stopped as Scully's hand found his arm.
"Wait. Skinner had a nightmare before we ever came to San Jose. He dreamed...he saw Mulder being cut into pieces by shadowy figures. How much of this was prophecy? Just how do you plan to save Osiris? And what is our part in this?"
Isis looked at them both sadly. "Set will certainly try to stop you from finding my husband, and will threaten your well-being. When you have found him, to regenerate Osiris, life force is required, given freely. The 'ka' must be released from its host body and joined to Osiris. This release of life force ever revitalizes the earth." Her smile encompassed them both and she faded away.
They sat alone in the quiet garden and Scully shivered. "Mulder, the 'ka' is the soul, isn't it? She wants to kill you to save her husband." She wrapped her arms around him and snuggled close.
"No Scully, I think she wants me to give my life to save the world," Mulder said gently as he stroked her hair.
When Mulder opened his eyes again, he and Scully lay on the motel room bed. A check of the clock showed that only minutes had passed. Scully's eyes were closed and her breathing even; she was still in trance, then.
Mulder pondered what Isis had said. Set would certainly try to stop them from finding Osiris, and Skinner's dreams had been bloody ones. Of course, the means of their help was a little worrisome. Mulder frowned, remembering his class in anthropology in college. The idea of becoming a surrogate for the sacrificed god did not appeal at all. If he did a stupid thing like that, Scully would kill him herself. Mulder smiled at Scully and gently moved a strand of red hair from her face, tucking it behind one ear.
He got off the bed and retrieved the udjat from his jeans pocket, then returned to sit next to Scully. He studied it closely, determined to learn its secret, then sighed when nothing happened, no great enlightenment rose in his soul. He put it down on the bedside table and turned to check on Scully.
Then his eyes widened. He saw Scully, but he saw...more. Tiny, fine lines of light ran across her skin, pulsing with her heartbeat. A faint glow outlined her body. He looked at his outstretched hand and saw a glow around himself as well. He blinked, then padded over to the window and peeped out, then stared. The pine trees in front of the motel, the grass, the flowers, all were glowing in brilliant living colors. He could see the peculiar life force of all that was around him.
"Damn. I'm a Kirlian camera," he muttered.
"Mulder?" He heard Scully's soft voice from the bed. "Mulder, where are you?"
"I'm here, Scully. You back?"
"Tell me that was a dream," she pleaded.
"Sorry, no such luck. We went to an Egyptian garden, met Isis and were told to find Osiris or the world ends in chaos. Was that your dream?" He went to the bed and sat down.
Scully reflexively averted her eyes from Mulder's naked body, then forced herself to turn and look at him. "Yup, that was my nightmare. We didn't even get to finish.."
"I'm up for another round if you are," Mulder smiled.
"What if we call *her* up again?" Scully asked nervously.
"Then we tell her to wait until we're done. I've waited 7 years for this. No god and no goddess, no matter how desperate is going to interrupt me now. Okay?" Mulder cupped her chin in his hand, watching her smile back.
"Good. Now shut up and let me kiss you."
In answer, Scully just nodded and returned his kiss with interest.
This time Mulder knew he was embracing Scully, and an ardent Scully at that. She stiffened when he moved his lips to the tangle of curls between her legs, then she relaxed before crying out.
"God, Mulder...I didn't know you could do that..."
He lifted his lips and grinned. "There are lots of things you don't know about me. And I've had 7 years to plan for this." He inserted first one finger, then two into her, savoring her shudders. "And this...." he rotated them and stroked her until she began twisting on the bed. "And, of course, this..." Then he applied his tongue and teeth to her clit again until she squealed .
Funny, he pondered as he worked, Dana Scully can squeal. I want to hear that again. He nipped again and was gratified to hear the sound another time. He could feel the energy running through her writhing body, coursing along her veins and energy centers. The energy was beginning to flood him as well, his cock hardening and lengthening with it.
Breathing raggedly, he climbed up her body and slowly inserted himself between her legs. As though a switch had closed, they both gasped. She arched her back and groaned, while he struggled not to pound her into the bedframe with his movements.
Sex had never been like this before, not with anyone. Ever. The Dana Scully factor? Maybe, or maybe a little help from our friends the fertility gods. Better not...tell...Scully...He could see that she was very near her culmination. She stiffened and tucked her head against his chest as she rode out her orgasm in sharp, panting breaths. He could see the lines of energy flowing and coursing through her, feel them moving from her and into him. Then he could feel himself coming, the seed spilling into her, and knew that the energy had traveled back into her. A loop, that's what it was, a circle. Constantly given and taken. Dimly, in the back of his fevered mind, he thought about sharing that with her. But one look at her, sweating against him in a daze, made him suspect that she wasn't in the mood to hear it just now.
"God, Mulder..." Scully kept her eyes closed, but licked her lips. "I don't think I can walk for a while. D'you think you could carry me?"
Mulder buried his lips in the crook of her neck and began to nuzzle her. "Anywhere," he answered. "So, you want pizza tonight? Or Chinese food?"
"I always knew you were a romantic. You mean the whole time you were fucking me to within an inch of my life you were trying to decide for pizza or Chinese?" An eyelid pried itself open and both her hands buried themselves in his hair while he worked his lips down her throat.
"I always like to concentrate on all my hungers simultaneously. Food. Sex. Work. Sex. You. Sex."
"Ahhhh, I see. You are...eep..multi-talented. Okay, whatever you want for dinner, I...uh...oh!...feel pretty sated. Hey..."she said in disappointment as Mulder rolled off her and instead lay beside her, resting on his elbow.
"Scully, I hate to break the mood but I had a spiritual experience while we were making love."
"Uh huh? Well the earth moved for me too," she said blandly.
"Nope, it was more than that. After I woke up from our little out of the body trance, I picked up the udjat and focused, really concentrated on it. And now...I think I can sense auras."
She grinned. "You can sense auras. Right. You are so full of shit, Mulder."
"No, really. I could see you glowing while we were making love, and so was I and no, it wasn't just sweat or lust."
"You're really serious about this. You aren't joking, are you?" Scully looked up at Mulder and bit her lip. "What did you see?"
"Patterns of light running through our bodies, yours and mine." He put his hand on her breast, over her heart. "And I could feel it when we made love, like energy feeding back on itself."
She laid her hands over his. "So what do you think this means? I'm almost afraid to ask."
"The udjat is the Eye of Horus and I think it confers some kind of second sight. They said I had been given the tools necessary and I think this is it. I bet Osiris left some kind of spiritual trail that I could track him by."
"And Set will track us as well," Scully answered solemnly. Mulder nodded.
"Let's skip the pizza then. I want to take advantage of all the quiet time we can get." Scully reached up and pulled Mulder's head down, then rolled him onto his back on the bed.
August 2, 2000
Walter Skinner tossed in his hotel room bed. His sleep had been plagued by evil dreams that he couldn't remember. Bad enough that the San Francisco Field Office had so many emergencies to deal with, but now he was losing valuable rest.
He picked up his pillow and punched it down again, then closed his eyes.
He was there again, he could recognize the room. Once again, the painted figures on the walls shivered and danced in the torchlight. Skinner shivered and reminded himself that this was just a dream, but when the screaming began he knew that this was real somehow.
He began running down the hallway and entered the room with the red granite sarcophagus. Mulder lay on the slab as before, only covered with blood. Scully wasn't here, though, that was different. The shadows were more plentiful this time, the shadow in the corner darker and denser than it had been before. Only this time it had eyes.
"Stop this! Just stop this!" yelled Skinner desperately. "Why are you doing this?"
The glowing eyes turned to him as the shadow gently rested the axe against the stone floor. Mulder's voice muted to a harsh intake of air as he struggled to breathe. Skinner couldn't tell what his injuries might be through the blood.
"Where is Agent Scully?" he demanded.
A whispery voice rattled back, "She is not here. I have no connection to her. He is mine."
"What is it you want?" Skinner asked as steadily as he was able.
"What do all living things want? Freedom to grow, to change, to die."
"How does this man's death serve that?" Skinner inched closer to Mulder.
"His death does not serve my cause, but neither does his life." The voice grew low and whispery. "I am change and chaos. My brother seeks control, law, strictures. This cannot be permitted any longer; his time is far past."
"Then again, why are you killing this man?" Skinner moved a little closer. Mulder's eyes were open, looking at him dully. He was conscious, but barely.
The eyes bored into Skinner's skull. "He will die, sooner or later. I prevent what his death will cause."
"What is that?" Skinner edged close enough to place a hand on Mulder's bound wrist and feel for a pulse. Skin was cold and clammy, pulse weak. Not good.
"I will win this time. I will not be caged as I was before. This man stands between me and my goal; you know that. You know me."
Skinner's eyes narrowed as he remembered an ambush in Viet Nam. "I know you. You can't have him, and you won't win."
Gusty laughter rolled through the room. "I will win and you will see it, Walter Skinner. You, of all people, know the face of death and chaos and you haven't the guts to change any of it."
Skinner could feel his nails biting into the palms of his hands. Before he could take breath to say anything more, the shadow raised the axe again and slammed it down.
Skinner threw up his hands against the shower of blood that flew at him, hearing Mulder's voice ring through the room, then stop suddenly in a fluid gurgle.
Unable to move a step closer or to back away, Skinner watched helplessly and heard the dull noise of the axe and smelled the iron tang of blood as it spattered over his body. At last, all was silent and still and even the shadows had gone.
Skinner was left standing, his arms frozen outstretched, watching the red blood drip off his hands onto the floor.
Skinner woke screaming.
Desperately he batted the sheet away from his body and jumped out of the bed and into a fighting stance. Then he realized that he was in the hotel room and it had all been a dream. A dream. He'd known while he was dreaming it that it was a dream, but that didn't make it any less real.
Mulder. Got to warn them. Got to warn them NOW.
Skinner fumbled for his glasses and picked up the phone, dialing Mulder's cell number. Nothing but static greeted him. He tried Scully's number with the same result. Then he tried to call the motel, but that line was out as well.
Earthquake? Skinner shivered as he considered that the Lord of Chaos didn't want Mulder warned.
He had to get to them somehow. He looked at the clock. Eight a.m. and God only knew how much time he had. Not much. Today. Have to get to them today.
Skinner picked up the phone and called the switchboard at the Field Office.
His demand for a helicopter couldn't be met. All available machines were in use for medical emergencies. He'd have to drive and both 101 and Highway 280 were still closed. He checked his watch: 8:30 and no time to lose.
Dana Scully woke slowly, feeling drowsy and contented. And sore, don't forget sore. She stretched luxuriantly. Mulder was going to have to carry her for sure. She'd had no idea he could be so...athletic.
And no visits from any Egyptian gods in the night. She was relieved. The prospect of being an unintentional participant in another couple's sex life didn't appeal to her, although she suspected that Mulder found such things titilating. Yeah. Video collection. He likes to watch sex.
His broad body was draped over hers, like a big, friendly sheepdog. He'd managed to hog all the covers and most of the bed to himself. Still, she couldn't fault him. He had been *so* good last night. Who knew her partner was so talented?
She frowned. She just hoped she could keep him alive long enough to enjoy more of this. She knew he was planning to ditch her. It was going to get dangerous, and that was what he did. Well, she wasn't going to be ditched this time. She'd stick to him like...like...like Isis. Nobody was going to threaten her Mulder and get away with it. Not a god, not the forces of nature, nobody.
That decided, she eyed the udjat still sitting innocently on the bedside table. She scooped it up and looked it over closely. Nothing, just a silver and lapis amulet. Pretty, but unremarkable. She looked away and tried to see those lines of force Mulder had described in her body and his. Nothing. Just a contentedly sleeping man.
Her face softened. She'd never seen him sleep so quietly, and she'd seen him napping on stakeouts, zoned out on drugs, completely anaesthetized and in surgery. This had been good for both of them, regardless of which dieties inspired it. She gingerly set the udjat down and began thinking of breakfast.
"Mulder," she pushed at him. "Mulder, I'm hungry."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm getting up....yeah", he rolled over and buried his face in the pillow. She grinned wickedly.
"Mulder, Skinner's in his office waiting for your last two case reports and he's MAD!" She said clearly into his right ear.
Gratifyingly, Mulder jumped awake and sat up. "Yeah, I'll be right there. Tell him to wait....Oh." He looked blearily at his partner. "That was a low blow, Agent Scully. I was tired. I worked myself..... to the bone..... last night." He grinned back at her.
"Oh, you certainly gave us both a workout. Now I'm hungry and want breakfast. We never did get dinner last night. How about that health food place up the road?"
"Aw, Scully, I bet they don't even have cholesterol-laden eggs or anything."
"But I'm sure they have some ginseng teas...wonderful aphrodisiacs, you know..." Scully murmured and cast him a seductive glance, vaguely amused that she knew how. Mulder immediately saw it her way and soon they were discussing strategy over breakfast at the Good Earth.
"I think we need to talk to the bus driver," she said over her whole-wheat bagel with honey.
"I still think we could just drive that bus route and I could pick up Osiris' trail," Mulder dug into his Denver omelet, with real eggs (to his relief).
"Like a bloodhound? Mulder, let's insert just a little bit of science into this case, just to say we did, huh? Besides, the driver might remember this man..mummy...god...whatever. I'd like to have a sketch artist there."
"Scully, look at this. We're running out of time," Mulder pushed the morning newspaper across the table. "The wheat and corn crop has failed in two states and an outbreak of smallpox has erupted in Oregon."
"Smallpox? But that was eradicated," she put down the bagel and grabbed the paper. "The chaos is beginning. It says here that looting in San Francisco is so bad that the city was under curfew last night. Skinner must be busy, that terrorist group still has hostages in the Federal Building. They're threatening to kill the first judge today at 3 p.m. if their demands aren't met."
"More chaos. They want the doors to the County Jail opened and all prisoners released." Scully chewed her bagel thoughtfully.
Mulder took another bite of his omelet. "It's almost as though the chaos were traveling in ripples, with this area as an epicenter. By the way, does the paper say where the quake was centered?"
"The Calaveras fault. It runs along the hills of San Jose, very close to here. You think that Set has a stronghold here, somehow?"
"It makes logical sense, doesn't it? He's battering against Osiris and slowly pushing his power out from the center. We have to stop it before the ripples get too strong."
"Do we really have to do this? The things that Isis said, they want you to die for their own purposes. We should leave now, while we still can." She gave him a worried glance and took a sip of cinnamon tea.
"Do we have a choice? The disaster will just follow us in waves as Set's power spreads."
"You aren't even considering....Mulder you aren't thinking about even the possibility of sacrificing yourself in whatever ritual they have in mind are you?" Her look grew more anxious as his silence lengthened.
"Scully, I am not suicidal, especially after last night. But I also believe very strongly that Set poses a danger to everything we hold dear. I want to find a way, a middle way, to support Osiris' cause without hurting anybody. I hope that we can find that way." Mulder looked into her eyes and smiled a little. "C'mon, you've got to admit we've been pretty lucky so far."
Her hands clenched on the mug of tea. "Mulder, if I were smart I'd knock you out right now, hand-cuff you and strong-arm you onto a plane to D.C."
"But you won't. You agree with me that the danger is real." Mulder sipped at his own coffee and watched as Scully struggled with her own conclusions.
"Something...is happening here. I don't know what it is, but I don't like it. It feels wrong. But Mulder," she glared at him angrily. "If you get yourself killed, I'll never forgive you!"
"Yeah, that's what the guy looked like," the bus driver gazed with interest at the sketch being produced by the artist. "Oh, he got off the bus pretty much where I expected him to. He was pretty strange, y'know? Didn't talk much, just sat up front and looked out the window and he smelled....kinda like old dried fish, like salt and mildew. Anyway, he got of the bus at the Winchester Mystery House. Yeah, that's where all the weirdos get off."
Scully exchanged a glance with Mulder. "Was there anything else unusual about him?"
"Well, one more thing. I think it was him. When he dropped his money into the till it didn't look right, but I couldn't be sure. When we counted the change later, we found this." The driver fished into his pocket and held out a flat disc of metal.
Scully picked it up and turned it over before handing it to Mulder.
"It has a scarab on one side," he commented. "And an ankh on the other. Both symbols of life. This is ancient."
"Yeah, well," the driver confessed. "I kept it out of the till for a good luck piece and, funny thing, I was fighting off the flu, felt like shit all day. Then the instant I touched this thing all the symptoms went away, just like that!"
Skinner fumed in the traffic. He'd been warned, but this was the best route left to Silicon Valley. Three lanes of traffic at a standstill. Between potholes and collapsed overpasses, the roads were choked with cars and nothing was moving.
He tried his cellphone again and was rewarded with a loud blast of static. He could swear he heard the voice of his dream laughing at him. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel impatiently. Move, damn it! Move!
He hadn't always supported Agent Mulder, or even believed him. But Skinner had to admit, that generally Mulder was right, no matter how crazy the case was. These days Skinner tended to accept Mulder's judgment, no matter how far from reality the agent seemed.
These damned dreams. Not for the first time Skinner said a fervent prayer for his agents. Oh, he'd never let them know he cared that much, although he suspected that Mulder at least had an inkling. Scully, now, she was almost obsessively suspicious of all official personnel at the Bureau, giving her trust only to Mulder.
That was good, she'd survive better that way. Skinner knew how deeply his own sins went and how badly he'd been compromised. He'd tried to sit the fence but, predictably, had picked up splinters in his ass. He lived in fear that one day They would tell him to do something to mortally betray Mulder or Scully. He didn't know what he'd do if that eventuality arose, and until then he'd fight like Hell to keep them both alive.
Mulder, now, that man had a death wish. That was what frightened Skinner the most. He shook his head. Mulder seemed to have more lives than a cat, but Skinner knew that one day Mulder's luck would run out and Skinner would be arranging a memorial service, not filling out Worker's Comp. forms.
Damn. Why did he approve that 302? Move. Move!
"This place is weird!" Mulder commented as he looked up from the map they'd been given at the office. "It has over 100 rooms, doors that lead nowhere, or to 20 foot drops, stair steps that are 3 inches tall, and a seance room."
"A seance room? Give me a break, Mulder! And besides, what would a mummy want with a seance room?" Scully eyed the multi-acre, four story sprawl that was the house. "And how on Earth are we going to search it?"
"I don't know," Mulder commented. "Maybe we should get a ball of twine and unroll it after us so we can find our way out again. But he's in there. I can see a kind of...well, a glow over the house."
"How do you know it's him?" Scully asked curiously.
"It's hard to describe. It's a kind of feeling, like there's a part of myself lost inside that house. And I know it's him. Scully?"
"I don't like this, Mulder. I didn't like them fooling with our dreams, I didn't like them...possessing our bodies. And I still wonder how much influence they have on our minds, sleeping OR waking." Her anxious glance passed from Mulder to the house and back again.
"Well, since we don't have an answer to that question, and logic tells us that this was the last place our 'suspect' was seen, it makes sense to go inside, doesn't it?"
Scully eyed the huge house, then glared at Mulder coolly. "I get worried when you start sounding logical, and frankly this whole thing is starting to feel like an episode of Scooby Doo." She sighed. "All right, where do we start?"
Mulder grinned. "So, which one am I, Scully? Scooby or Shaggy? It's a good thing the place is closed today because of the quake, we won't have tourists getting in the way. Why don't we try to find our way to the seance room?"
"You would want to start there. Are you sure you don't want a guide? It's a pretty big house."
"Guide? We don't need no stinkin' guides! Besides, when was the last time I got us lost?"
She just looked at him before heaving another sigh and walking into the house.
"Hey, Scully! You're forgetting the flashlights. The place isn't electrified." Mulder handed her a maglight.
"Yeah. Right. Whatever," she muttered and walked through the entrance.
After the second time Mulder almost walked into a brick wall, then fell down a flight of 3 inch stairsteps, Scully made them stop. "Mulder, let me have the map. I'll navigate." She scowled up at him. "I can't believe I'm chasing an animated mummy in a haunted house...."
"C'mon, Scully, try to get into the spirit of the thing...." he could see her face turning red, and taking the better part of valor handed her the map. "I still think that I...wait a minute.." Mulder squinted down the long hallway. "I think I see something."
"What? ghosts? I don't think that's the right way to the blue seance room... Mulder? Where are you...? Mulder!" She pattered down the hallway to catch up with him. "Mulder, the last thing we need right now is to be separated!"
His eyes were opened wide, staring fixedly into the gloomy house ahead. "He's there, up ahead. I can see a sort of pool of light." He stopped at a doorway and turned the ornate handle.
Gently opening the door, they could see a human figure standing in the corner, motionless as a statue. Mulder brought up his maglight and trained it on him.
"Bob!" he said, but Bob neither moved nor answered. "Scully, it looks like he's surrounded by a cloud or something..."
Scully went forward and tried to touch Bob's body, but was unable to break through the halo of dark light encompassing him. "It looks like...well, like some sort of force field for lack of a better word," she said in amazement.
"Just like Star Trek," Mulder whispered, then walked up to Bob and touched a finger to the shadowy field. To his surprise, the light touch of his fingertips dissipated the cloud like a burst bubble. Bob drew a sudden deep breath and all but collapsed forward.
"Mulder!" Bob looked at Mulder desperately. "I'm so glad it's you. We have to find him. Set has him and he'll kill him unless we get there fast!"
"Set has Osiris? You've seen them?" Scully moved in front of Mulder to check Bob's vitals, but Bob shook her off.
"We're losing time. Yes, Osiris was here. I came to help, but Set followed me and took him. We have to find him; you have to help him Mulder." Bob gave Mulder a desperate look.
Mulder had been looking at Bob very carefully since entering the room. "Bob, don't take this wrong, but you don't glow like the humans I've seen today. Just what are you?" he asked softly. Osiris is your father isn't he, Robert Horace? Cute play on the names, by the way." Mulder folded his arms across his chest and eyed Bob speculatively.
Bob sighed in resignation. "I guess when we gave you the udjat, we should have expected this effect on you, even if you are human." Bob sighed. "Okay, I'll tell you everything on the way, but we have to find them! Mulder, where have they gone?"
"Why do you think I know?" Mulder asked, then his eyes narrowed. "The udjat does it, doesn't it? It makes me sensitive to life force, and especially to Osiris. That's how I sensed you, his son." Mulder closed his eyes, then opened them again. "The museum. They've gone to the museum."
Scully drove the car with one eye on Bob, wishing she dared keep the other one on Mulder.
Bob began to explain. "Yes, the name my parents gave me is Horus and yes, I'm not human. They called us gods in the land of Kemt, Egypt to you Westerners. The legend of Osiris is true in its essence. Father was killed by Set and brought to life by my mother's magic. He was hidden away after the fall of Egypt and Mother didn't dare approach for fear of attracting Set's attention. But Set didn't watch me as closely and I was able to blend in as human. I was able to arrange for Father's mummy to be protected by the museum, but Set found us." Bob gave Mulder a misery-laden look. "Father's weakening since he had to reanimate his body to get it away from the museum, and that weakens his ability to hold the balance between chaos and order in the cosmos. He's dying."
"Just what was Osiris doing at the Winchester Mystery House?" Scully broke in. "It's hardly the place I'd expect to find a mummy."
"Spiritual energy. The house is permeated with it and father hid there to camoflage his presence beneath it."
"You mean the place really is haunted," Mulder grinned.
"Of course. It has dozens of ghosts. Didn't you know that?" Bob gave Mulder an incredulous look while Scully visibly cringed, then pulled the car to a stop in front of the museum.
"Well, we're here. What now?" she asked crisply.
"That's a good question. Just what is it that I'm supposed to do for you? I mean, you're a god and you can't seem to handle Set at all." Mulder asked. "And from the way Isis was talking, you intend some kind of human sacrifice."
"Mulder, you are the only one who can sense Osiris' presence right now. Set is blocking me and I've lost contact with Isis as well. I assume that's Set's doing. When we find Osiris, we'll deal with Set."
"You found your father once already and got ambushed by Set," commented Scully. "How is this time any different? And you haven't answered Mulder's question."
Horus looked uncomfortable. "My family, we don't kill people. That's the sort of thing that Set does. Osiris died himself, and in so doing brought fertility and balance to the earth." Horus looked at Mulder and Scully in turn, then said carefully "But we, each of us, is in the hands of fate. Neither I, nor my parents, would bring deliberate harm to Mulder, or to any human, but this is an inherently dangerous situation and the outcome cannot be predicted. So, yes, you are both in danger of being killed or hurt. We want to preserve peace and order. But I can't do this alone. Mulder has already absorbed quantities of Osiris' essence, because of the udjat. And that's the one advantage we have. He has, effectively, been...um..channelling Osiris."
Scully just stared at him and opened her mouth to demand more answers, when she was startled by a tap on the window. She jerked and found Skinner standing outside the car. She rolled the window down.
"Sir! You're back.." she stared at Skinner, who seemed very distressed.
"You have to leave here. Now!" he said urgently. "Mulder, you especially. You're in terrible danger.." he broke off as the earth began to shake. The trees around the museum began to sway and the tiny Victorian house next door quietly collapsed in on itself. They were left watching dumbly after the shaking stopped.
"It's getting worse," said Horus miserably. "The disasters will only increase along with Set's power."
"Well, let's go do something about it then," said Mulder getting out of the car. Horus followed, with Scully trailing behind more slowly.
"Maybe we should wait..." she began, then ran to catch up to Mulder.
"No time," he shouted. "Come on!"
Skinner ran after Mulder and grabbed his shoulder. "Mulder, you can't go in there. If you do, you'll die! I've seen it."
"What? What have you seen?" demanded Scully.
Skinner's face took on a haunted expression. "Terrible things. Mulder, you'll get hacked to pieces if you go in that tomb again. I...I..." Skinner couldn't finish and clamped his jaw shut.
"And what happens to the world if we don't take the chance? Did you see anybody else die?"
"If we don't save Osiris, the quakes will escalate, nations will go to war, disease and famine will decimate the planet," Horus said flatly. "If you can't help, I understand. But he's my father and I'm going in there, with or without you." He gave Mulder a pitying look. "You're only a human, after all."
Horus began walking up to the giant double doors and pulled a key from his pocket. Mulder cast a frustrated look at Skinner and Scully, then ran after him.
"Dammit Mulder!" muttered Scully, then followed. The three entered the museum and Skinner was left alone on the sidewalk, fighting with himself.
Inside the museum, Horus turned to Mulder. "Do you know where they are?"
"They're in the tomb. Why aren't there any people in here?" He looked around at the empty and darkened museum.
"The place is closed today to check for quake damage, but you're right. There ought to be at least security guards..." Horus wandered away, then returned looking grim. "I was right. Set is here. The guards and maintenance workers are all asleep."
"Well," said Mulder cheerfully. "Let's go beard the lion in his den."
The three made their way into the tomb. Scully noted with a shiver that the emergency lighting was on, rather than the regular power. The dim, orange light cast a flickering glow on the rooms making the Egyptian paintings move and waver mysteriously.
She could see Mulder surreptitiously pull the udjat from his pocket and hold it lightly in his hand. Horus led and was first through the doorway.
"Father!" he cried and rushed forward to a man who seemed to be collapsed on the floor in the sarcophagus room.
"Son? You're here? Go away! It's too dangerous!" A dark haired man in his fifties lay on the floor. Dressed in denim coveralls, he nevertheless looked more like a college professor than a former mummy.
"Osiris, I presume?" Mulder asked, kneeling beside him. "I think we have some..uh..experiences in common."
"Yes. Sorry about that. I hadn't seen my wife in several millennia and the temptation was impossible to resist." Osiris smiled up at Mulder with a twinkle in his eye.
Mulder grinned back. "Well, next time just ask us, okay?"
"Uh oh..." muttered Horus as the room grew colder and visibly darker. "Father, we have to get you out of here. Set's coming back..."
"It's too late. Set is here," a loud voice echoed through the room, spreading shadows before it. "Brother, I have heard enough from you today. Be silent. And you too, nephew." The shadowed figure raised a hand and Horus was slammed against the wall. Set walked forward, smiling at Horus' vain struggles to free himself.
The blurred figure of set moved into a puddle of weak orange light so that, for the first time, Mulder and Scully could see him clearly.
"Skinner...?" whispered Scully.
Skinner's face twisted before Set reasserted control. "I am borrowing your friend's body for the time being. Long enough to finish things."
"Skinner, fight it. Fight him off!" Mulder called to him. "Push him away from you!"
Skinner turned a deep and pitiless stare toward Mulder. "Now you I have plans for.." and began to move on him.
Scully tried to draw her gun but felt herself manhandled by...by freezing air and pinned against the wall next to the struggling Horus.
She watched in horror as Skinner walked slowly toward an immobilized Mulder. She saw that he was held by the same shadows encasing her.
Skinner smiled and retrieved an axe from behind the red granite sarcophagus and gave it a trial swing. "You won't be the savior of Osiris and his plans. You won't save anything or anyone by your death or your life."
She saw Mulder fighting and struggling against the shadows to get words out. "No...Skinner..fight it..You don't have to do this!"
Mulder stumbled backwards against the sarcophagus, held there by the shadows. Skinner swung and the axe bit deep into Mulder's thigh. Mulder cried out and tried to move away, but was held against the sarcophagus.
Scully struggled furiously against the shadows and screamed "Let me go! Damn you! Stop it! Let him go! Please!"
Mulder yelled at Skinner again as the axe swung a second time,"No! No, don't do this!"
Scully watched with streaming eyes as the axe came down again and forced herself not to cringe away. Someone would pay for this if she died for it. The blade bit deep into Mulder's ribcage. Scully mentally noted, probable punctured lung.
"Scully! Scully!" She heard a weak voice at her feet and saw Osiris crawling toward her, fighting against Set's power. "Call Isis! She has touched your body and your soul. My son and I are blocked from calling to her, but you may not be. You are human and Set doesn't understand humans. Try! Call her, by the love you hold for your partner."
Scully nodded, then, focusing her eyes on Mulder she called. With all her heart she called.
She heard the axe, and Mulder's voice getting weaker and she called. She knew that the blows were striking arteries, breaking bones. The blood...the blood was everywhere but he was still alive. No limbs severed...yet. Set was trying to prolong this, looking smug and complacent, not inclined to cut short his pleasure. She closed her eyes and called harder.
At last she felt a tingling heat permeate her body, then a gentle voice rang through the room.
"Brother Set, you have held us all long enough. Your time is over." A glowing figure of a woman appeared next to Osiris. She helped him up and the two of them approached Horus. A touch of their hands freed him from the wall.
Set/Skinner merely stood behind the red granite sarcophagus, the bloody axe upraised over a still Mulder. Scully felt herself released and staggered forward, all but crawling in her attempt to get to Mulder.
"We are together at last, Set. You are stronger than we expected, but your time is over. Go back to your place." Isis spoke forcefully. Horus moved behind her, his arm around Osiris.
Skinner/Set backed away. "You cannot hold. Osiris, you are dying. Even I can feel it, and Horus doesn't have your power. You never had your human sacrifice, did you? I removed him before he could do your will." Set smiled down at the blood-drenched form of Mulder. "I'll go, but I'll be back when your energies fail Osiris. That will be soon. I can already feel you weakening." Skinner/Set backed away from the sarcophagus and a black shadow lifted itself from Skinner's body and dissipated into the air.
Skinner stumbled and fell back against the wall, holding up his bloody hands in front of him, staring at them.
Scully rushed to Mulder's side and tearfully began feeling for a pulse. "He's not dead, not yet." She pushed Mulder's sodden hair away from his waxen face, then looked up at Isis.
"You can heal. The myths say you can heal. You have to save him. Please. Please save his life." Scully's voice trembled as she tried vainly to stop some of the bleeding with her hands.
Isis, Horus and Osiris exchanged troubled glances.
"Daughter, Osiris has the gift of healing but if we heal Mulder there will be consequences to the world. The three of us are all that hold Set in check. He is caged now, at this moment, but if any of us weakens Set will break free and destroy the world. He knows this and is waiting for it." Scully just looked at Isis with pleading, so Isis tried again.
"Child, either we can heal Mulder or we can maintain the balance and keep Set imprisoned. We cannot do both."
"And if Set is released..." Scully whispered.
"We cannot restore the balance. We haven't the energy to do so. I am dying. Unless I am regenerated, this body will crumble to dust and I will be destroyed."
"And how...?" Scully stopped, her eyes wide. "That's what Set meant. That's what you wanted Mulder for. Your human sacrifice! You only wanted him to kill him!" Her voice shook with rage.
"No. Not to kill him. The one who gives his life, dies consenting to sacrifice it for this, and he must have mingled his ka with Osiris. Mulder and Osiris are joined, but we never sought to kill Mulder. However we...foresaw...that this eventuality might occur." Isis sounded apologetic.
"And, knowing that Set would attack him, you decided to take advantage of it!" Scully raged. "You're as evil as he is!" She felt Mulder stir under her hands and saw his eyes open slowly, then, gathering his breath he whispered, "So...I'm dead if I do and I'm dead if I don't..." he was stopped by a fit of coughing.
Scully's eyes narrowed as she mopped blood from his lips. Mulder took a liquid breath and began again. "If...I die and don't agree to a sacrifice...everything dies. Is that it?"
The gods nodded.
"But..if I die...consenting to be a sacrifice...Osiris can hold Set and the balance? Everybody...safe?"
"Mulder, you can't be thinking of this. We have to get you help...please." Scully held Mulder's eyes as he fought to keep them open. He smiled at her, his breath coming in bubbling rasps.
"No choice. 'M dying anyway...I... consent." Mulder weakly lifted his hand toward Osiris. Osiris staggered forward and took Mulder's bloody hand in both of his. Mulder gave a loud cry, echoed by Osiris' own.
Scully backed away from them, and cringed away as a bright flash of light permeated the room, bathing Osiris and Mulder in its glow. Scully fought to keep focused on the them, but had to turn away.
As suddenly, the light faded away. She turned watering eyes back toward Mulder and rushed forward to him.
He was still and pale. And cold. So very cold. Osiris, young looking and vigorous stood before her, Horus and Isis had gone.
"Set is imprisoned and the balance restored. We thank you and Mulder for your courage and your sacrifice," said Osiris.
"Osiris, why Mulder? Why not..someone else?" her voice broke and she gulped, trying to keep her composure. "Why him?"
Osiris gave Scully a sympathetic smile. "It didn't necessarily have to be Mulder as long as the person had his qualities. But Mulder...was here, at the right time under the right conditions. He waits for you in the house of life, the land of the blessed. When your time comes, daughter, he will greet you there." Osiris made a gesture in blessing, then faded away.
Scully stared at the spot where Osiris had stood, openmouthed, then looked down at Mulder again.
Mulder was dead. Dead. Cold. She frantically felt for a pulse, but she knew it was no good. Mulder had made his choice. Damn him! She could feel the tears beginning to trickle down her face, then heard a sob from behind her.
Skinner stood against the stone wall, still looking at his hands dripping blood. "I killed him. I murdered him. I couldn't stop myself."
She shook her head. "No, you didn't. Something older and stronger than both of us wanted Mulder dead, for its own purposes."
Skinner felt for a pulse at Mulder's throat and vainly tried to mop some of the blood away from Mulder's face. "My hands did it. I saw this happening, Scully. I knew it was going to happen, but I LET it happen. I could have stopped this, but I didn't. I...I could have prevented this...No! It wasn't supposed to end like this! NO! NO!"
Skinner's cry of anguish rang through the tomb.
July 27, 2000
Skinner sat bolt upright in his bed, shaking with sweat. He took some long, careful breaths, rubbing his hands over his face. No. No it wasn't real. Just a dream, a nightmare, thank God. They were safe. It hadn't happened.
Skinner sat up and looked at his hands. No, they weren't dripping with Mulder's blood. He hadn't murdered him, thank God. It hadn't happened.
Skinner's eyes narrowed and he frantically scrabbled on his bedside table to find his glasses, then checked the date on his calendar watch. July 27, not August yet. He could still do something about this.
He padded into the living room and found the file he had in mind. There it was, the 302 submitted by Fox Mulder today, requesting permission to open a file on a stolen mummy in San Jose, California.
His hands shaking, Skinner fumbled for a pen and opened the folder to the 302, then scrawled a large "NO" across it. He was going to do this right, this time around.
Feeling calmer, although not by much, Skinner went back to bed. He didn't sleep.
July 28, 2000
Skinner was waiting for Mulder's arrival. Sure enough, Mulder had hardly begun brow-beating Kim when Skinner had both Mulder and Scully in his office.
"Is this about that 302 for California?" Skinner asked, deceptively calm.
"Why, yes, it is. I think that.."
"No. You can't go on it. That is my answer," Skinner said bluntly.
"But sir, I.."
"No. What part of 'no' don't you understand Agent Mulder?" Skinner asked evenly.
"But sir, I think you should at least tell me why you're refusing this case," Mulder said in puzzlement.
Skinner smiled a little. "Agent Mulder, you often say that you 'want to believe'. Well, I am asking for your trust on this one. This is NOT your case and it isn't appropriate that you take it....and further," Skinner interrupted Mulder's attempted interruption. "If you try to take vacation time or otherwise attempt to investigate this case, I will have you on suspension and out of the Bureau so fast it'll make your head swim! Am I clear on that?"
"Yes sir." For the first time in Skinner's memory, Mulder looked cowed. Skinner closed the office door with a feeling of hope and relief. Maybe, just maybe it wouldn't happen....
Outside in the hallway, Mulder stopped an took a deep breath. "Man, did you see him? That was intense."
"He seemed very concerned about the case, Mulder. Do you think he's trying to shield some consortium dirty work? Should we look into it anyway?" Scully asked, and was surprised when Mulder shook his head.
"No. I got the feeling that Skinner...well, he was afraid for us somehow. He wasn't protecting himself, or anybody else. He was truly terrified..for us. For...for me, I think," Mulder gave Scully a solemn look. "I...I just have the feeling that we should take his advice and stay away from this one."
AUGUST 10, 2000
Walter Skinner was enjoying his first cup of coffee and stopped at the report that had come in overnight. In the wake of the California earthquake, a mutilated body had been found in San Jose. Special Agent Ian Thomas of the San Francisco Field Office had been tasked with investigating the missing mummy, stolen from the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. Agent Thomas had been reported missing, but had now been found, murdered. His body was partially dismembered, and the M.E.'s preliminary report indicated that he'd died of multiple blows from a double-bladed axe.
The mummy had been returned to the museum by person or persons unknown, still perfectly preserved.