Title: The Mummy's Curse
Summary: Scully tries to hold on to reason and science as Mulder decides to call her to act as his ancient forensics expert. Response to an LJ Scifi muses prompt regarding a picture of the bust of Nefertiti looking through an X-ray lens.
"It's a mummy, Mulder," Scully glanced first at the desiccated corpse in front of her, then at her partner who seemed to be far
"It's a mummy, Mulder," Scully glanced first at the desiccated corpse in front of her, then at her partner who seemed to be far too engrossed in the NYPD case file in his hands.
"I know," he murmured in distraction, flipping through pages as his hazel eyes roved over them quickly. He seemed to be indifferent to the incredulous glare she was shooting his way.
"I thought you said you had a body for me to perform an autopsy on," Scully had, of course, cut up all sorts of human beings in all sorts of various different stages of decomposer, from the newly dead to the hopelessly deteriorated. It went along with the job of forensic pathology, you never got truly squeamish at the site of anything dead any more. But nothing in her medical training or scientific background really qualified her to study, cut up, or examine a body that looked as if it had been buried in the Sahara sands for more than 2500 years.
"What do you know about mummies," Mulder asked, flanking down at the dried, brittle remains before them. She knew this tactic of his, he would ask her a seemingly silly, even elementary question to prod out of her the scientific response to the situation, before he would drop the strange, odd, or paranormal element to disturb the neat, orderly rows of her logic. It was the typical game they played in any case, and as irritating as it could be, she played along, know that it was also one of the key elements on how they worked effectively as partners.
"Mummies are the dry-preserved remains of once living animals, most often humans, whose corpses have been stopped in the decomposition process due to chemicals, temperature changes, or environmental factors. Most of the famous ones we know off are as a result of humanity's attempts to maintain the body for cultural or religious reasons, such as the Egyptian belief in the afterlife, while others, such as the mummies found in Peru or in the peat bogs of Scotland are created mostly out of a combination of soil and environment." She glances sideways at him expectantly.
"They teach you that in med school at Stanford," he teased, grinning at her in a lopsided fashion.
"No, Catholic elementary school in San Diego," she tried to imbue her tone with all of the sarcasm she felt at that moment. "Honestly, Mulder, you drag me out of a nice, warm bed at some ungodly hour of the morning to fly a red eye to New York to examine a body that rightly should be in the hands of an ancient forensics expert." She hadn't even had her morning coffee, a sure sign that her mood was going to be sour. "I'm not your personal Discovery Channel, here to tell you the secrets of the ancient dead."
"That's fine, because while our fellow here is dead, he's hardly ancient," Mulder finally passed her the file he had been glancing through, allowing her for the first time since they had stepped inside the New York city morgue to finally understand what he was up. "Peter Fairchild, aka Johannes Faustus, aka James Finch, aka Pierre Frederic, you name it, he's been it. Interpol isn't exactly sure what his real name is or where he was from originally."
Scully glanced down at a black and white photograph at the top of the pile of a slim, moderately attractive man, with the sort of normal features and thinning hair that wouldn't necessarily make him stand out in a crowd.
"According to the file on him I got from Vienna, this fellow here's sort of the Rickey Henderson of the art world, rather than stealing bases, he stole millions in paintings, art objects, manuscripts, you name it. And he was good at it. He managed to get an emerald encrusted, ceremonial dagger from the Ottoman Empire out of an Istanbul museum; it still hasn't ever been recovered."
"Impressive," Scully glanced down at the NYPD police record in the file, her eyes scanning it quickly for the highlights. "It's amazing he never got caught."
"See, that's the thing, Fairchild, or whoever he was, never was in it for the money. Interpol says he was much more into it for the thrill, which is why he was so good, and part of why he was never caught. He never got greedy, as it were, and so no one and nothing was able to stop him...till three nights ago."
Nodding, Scully saw what Mulder was referring to on the page as she read. "He was found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the Egyptian Room, dead, cause unknown." She frowned as she glanced up. "They say that he was found at 2 AM. They sweep the museum once an hour, that means he must have died while trying to get in there."
"They think he was after this," Mulder reached over to the file in Scully's hands, and pulled out a single black and white photograph from the stack of pages, placing it on top, under her nose. It was a pendant, or some sort of necklace, made of metal and semi-precious stones, and depicting a stylized eye on the background of a blazing sun.
"The Wrath of Ra, or at least that's what the museum Egyptian curator calls it."
"A bit of an overdramatic name, sounds a bit like someone's been reading one too many old pulp fiction novels."
"Hey, I'm not the one who named it," Mulder held up his hands innocently. "Though to hear the back story on that thing, it sounds like someone was up late at night watching one too many Indiana Jones movies. Apparently since it was found in Egypt a century ago it's supposedly been responsible for the deaths of five people, all of whom were trying to take the pendant under nefarious means." His voice dropped down to a low, spooky rumble, and despite herself Scully felt the hairs on the back of neck stand up a fraction. In retaliation, she gave Mulder her most skeptical look.
"Doesn't every ancient, Egyptian object have that sort of back story, dig me up or steal me and you will be struck dead?" She snorted derisively. "Lord Carnarvon and the Mummy's Curse, you don't buy into that, do you Mulder?" As usual, she took out her flag, and firmly placed it in the camp of science and reason. The speculative shrug told her where Mulder was falling in all of this.
"When Fairchild was found in the museum that night, they found a perfectly normal looking human, albeit a very dead human. They bagged and tagged him, and the corner brought him here, where they identified him, shoved him in a locker, and waited for someone to get enough time to get a chance to perform the autopsy. The following day when they came to find him, this is what was left," he pointed to the dry, husk of a human before them. "Explain that to me with science, Scully," his voice was light and teasing, but his eyes were intense and bright as they challenged her. It wasn't the first or the last time Scully wondered if he got off on this sort of argument between the two of them. He certainly seemed to enjoy the challenge of standing up to her with all of her sane explanations and clear thought.
And most irritating, Scully admitted, was that she knew she didn't have a good or even reasonable answer for it. "Mulder, it could just be someone's idea of a practical joke. Long hours at a morgue cutting up the dead, people sometimes do stupid stunts just to break the tension."
"Well if it's someone's idea of a joke, NYPD isn't laughing, they are the ones who called us in here. As far as anyone here at the morgue knows, no one was in here messing around with the bodies, and no one brought anything in from the outside that wasn't checked in through the corner's front desk. Look at it, Scully, do you honestly believe that they keep something like this hiding in a broom closet around here?"
"It's a mummy, Mulder, the process takes weeks or years of chemical or extreme environmental change to the body for it to produce this effect, it doesn't happen over night, not even today with modern methods. This can't be Peter Fairchild, or whoever he is, because this body looks like it's been this way for centuries, if not millennia."
She clung to her flag in the reason camp, she waved it in his face, hoping he might see it and realize that she was right in this, that this was probably some joke on some interns part that had just gotten a little out of hand. But there was that glint in his eye again, and he cocked his head as he regarded the mummy on the table, his face stoic as she could see his mind working rapidly, and already she wasn't liking where this was going.
"Unless there really is such a thing as the Wrath of Ra, Scully," Mulder finally murmured, turning on his heels as he did so, that familiar single-minded purpose in his steps. She stared, open mouthed at him as he went, blank minded for several seconds as he reached for the door.
"Where are you going," she finally managed, her voice much more shrill than she intended for it to be.
"To the museum, to find out more about that pendant," he called back over his shoulder.
"And you want me to perform an autopsy on this," she couldn't help but sound shockingly doubtful as her voice rang through the concrete and steel room.
"How hard can it be," he said as he waved at her, whipping around the corner. She stared in stunned anger at the spot where he vanished for several long seconds, before clutching the file, still in her hand, to her chest as she glanced down at the table in front of her.
"I swear to God, if you come back from the dead to kill me like in the movies, I'll stab your eyes out with a scalpel," she growled, as mentally she was already doing that very thing to her partner, with sheer, angry glee.
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