Mulder and Scully
Meet the B.O.R.G.
CHAPTER 1 – “CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER!”
FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, MD, snugged the belts of their blue trench coats and donned their habitual polite smiles as Mulder pressed the doorbell of the modest Georgetown house. In the seconds before the door opened, both were thinking of the cryptic e-mail that had summoned them to this meeting. It read:
There has been a peculiar death at the Army Weapons Lab where, I work, in Rockville. Dr. Stanford Adams is dead and Dr. Carlton Bennington strangely disabled and taken to DC Central Mental Hospital. I don’t trust the laboratory administration, especially General Carruthers. I will try to get more information this afternoon. Please meet me at my home at 31 Paladin Way in Georgetown this evening at 7:00.
Signed – Dr. Naomi Lesher
Army Advanced Weapons Lab
The peephole in the red door before them darkened momentarily. Then they heard the deadbolt go “plock” and the door opened inward.
“Come in! Come In!” said the stately Dr. Lesher, beckoning nervously with one hand. Her strained smile belied her otherwise calm demeanor thought Scully, noticing that the dark-skinned scientist searched the street with her eyes before locking the door securely. As the two agents reached for their pockets their hostess made a dismissive gesture saying, “No need for IDs. I recognize you from your recent pictures in the paper. That’s how I happened to contact you. You have a reputation for solving…uh…unusual cases. Come this way, please,” she said softly, moving deeper into the house.
Crossing the wide tiled entry hall behind their graceful hostess, the agents noted the manicured antique provincial living room to their left and a large sitting room to the right that featured a baby-grand piano and comfortable-looking antique furniture. In a moment they stepped through a very tall double doorway into another high-ceilinged room that had obviously been built as a library. The walls were lined on three sides with well-filled bookcases and the fourth side of the deep maroon carpet hosted a modern U-shaped desk with built-in hutches and file drawers and replete with black computer monitor and roll-out keyboard. It stood before a set of heavy drapes that concealed the tall window facing the garden to the west. A high-backed black leather chair stood on castors before the desk on a heavy clear plastic mat.
“Do be seated,” invited their hostess, gesturing toward the sectional leather sofa and armchair opposite the desk. “You can put your coats on the end of the sofa there,” she continued. “Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Sherry?”
“No thanks,” said Mulder.
“I’m fine,” demurred Scully, settling into the sofa. “Perhaps you could tell us what is going on. There was no mention of Dr. Adams or Dr. Bennington in today’s FBI bulletins, and we usually hear about deaths of significant scientists, so we are more than a little puzzled.” Saying this she reached into her coat pocket retrieving a small tape recorder, which she turned on and placed on the coffee table after exchanging nods with Dr. Lesher.
As Mulder joined Scully on the sofa, Dr. Lesher said, “Of course. I’m going to tell you everything I know, even though I could probably go to jail for revealing military secrets. But first I need a couple more aspirins.” She walked to her desk and began fumbling with a large aspirin bottle. “I’ve had such a headache and been so nervous…frightened really…ever since General Carruthers left.” At this point the lid of the aspirin bottle popped off and about half the contents of the bottle scattered across the floor under the desk.
“Carruthers was here?” asked Mulder.
Pausing to gulp down half a dozen aspirins with a swig of water from a glass that had been on a silver coaster amidst the clutter on her desk, the scientist replied, “Yes, yes! And it was so odd! He showed up at 6:30, just a half hour before I expected you. I almost didn’t recognize him in his civilian clothes…had only met him personally a couple of times. He’s the head of the lab, you know.” Ignoring the aspirins on the floor, she crossed the room with a somewhat uncertain gait and seated herself gingerly on the edge of a tall armchair that faced the sofa at right angles.
Watching their hostess with a clinical eye as she leaned forward to rub her temples with both hands, Scully remarked, “I can see where an unexpected visit by your top boss could seem pretty odd. I’d have been rattled too.”
“Yes,” said Dr. Lesher, sitting up straight and dropping her hands to her lap. “But it wasn’t that that really got to me. At first I was afraid he knew about my e-mail to you, or about the data disk I made for you this afternoon. I hid it in my favorite Chaucer on that shelf,” she pointed, “when I saw who was at the door through the peephole. But what really scared me was when he licked me.”
“He what?” asked both agents in unison.
“It was when I let him in,” she said, “I offered him my hand, but instead of shaking it he lifted it and turned it palm-downward. Then he said, ‘Ah, the estimable Dr. Lesher!’ and bent forward. I thought he was going to kiss the back of my hand, but instead he licked it…once…deliberately. I jerked my hand away and almost jumped out of my skin! I felt so…so…menaced!”
“That’s an interesting choice of words,” rejoined Scully. “I think most women would have felt more ‘violated’ than ‘menaced’.”
“Perhaps,” said Dr. Lesher, “but his whole manner seemed menacing. I immediately regretted having let him in.”
“What happened next?” asked Mulder.
“Well, he walked right past me into my living room and started pacing back and forth, all the while ranting and raving about national security, patriotic loyalty, and the legal penalties for espionage. I thought he was threatening to prosecute me for communicating with you…for telling you too much. I don’t remember his exact words, but he went on like that for maybe five minutes. Then he stopped and faced me directly. I thought he was staring at me, but he didn’t say anything. Then I realized he was staring through me, off into the distance. He could have been in a trance. He reminded me of a hypnosis demonstration I had seen in an undergraduate psychology class years ago.”
“What did you do?” asked Mulder.
“Nothing,” said Dr. Lesher. “I just stood there, speechless, like a deer in the headlights, I was so terrified. For a full minute or more we both just stood there. Then he seemed to come back into himself and looked right at me. Then he gave me this strange smile. I thought my blood might freeze at the sight of that smile! And then he said, ‘You will not tell anyone what you know about the B.O.R.G. project’, and then he left, walked right out my front door without another word. When I went to close the door behind him, he was gone. I couldn’t see him on the street. It was the creepiest encounter I have ever had with anyone.” She shuddered visibly.
“What’s the B.O.R.G. project?” asked Scully, noticing that Dr. Lesher’s hands were still trembling.
“I’ll get you the disk,” said Dr. Lesher, starting to rise with her hands braced on the arms of her chair. “It has all the details I could get.” As she started to turn toward the bookcase on the northern wall to her right her knees buckled and she crumpled to the soft carpet. “Damn him!” she said loudly, almost croaking. “My legs are gone!” she said, rolling onto her back. “He got me, the bastard! I know what he did to me!”
By this time the two agents were bending over her on either side, helping her to sit up with her back against the padding of the armchair. “I’ll get an ambulance,” said Scully.
“No time!” shrilled the scientist weakly, grasping Scully’s left coat lapel with her right hand. Her left hand groped uselessly toward Mulder. “You can’t help me medically. Just get that tape recorder and listen to me!” As Mulder hastened to comply she went on, her words becoming more labored by the moment,
“Everyone in the world is in danger now, including President Privet. He was at the lab for the demonstration yesterday. They may have done something to him. God help us if they have! They wouldn’t let me attend because I’ve expressed doubts about the project from the beginning. Amazing they didn’t get rid of me sooner. The project…” her voice trailed off and she seemed to be having difficulty focusing on her two confidantes.
“You need a hospital,” said Scully.
“No use! Just Listen!” the woman replied. “The project is a perversion of new technology stolen from the Titanians.”
“Who are they?” asked Scully.
“Never mind now,” said Mulder. “I can fill you in later. Please go on Dr. Lesher.”
Starting to gasp now Dr. Lesher continued, “The new stuff combines microbiology, molecular biology, nanotechnology………. DNA engineering…and machine-assisted…telepathy……. all based on HCT computers………..all stolen.” Her eyes closed, but she continued speaking. “Must warn Titanians…EPR research endangered…Scan my brain…blood…with hand back microscope electron…you are too danger in imminent…worse the plague than could be it…heeg ist dik!”
As the woman’s head dropped forward with a sigh the two agents could almost see the life flow out of her. Her breathing stopped and a trickle of blood ran from one nostril and dripped onto her white blouse. As Mulder reached for her throat to check for a pulse Scully yelled, “Stop! Don’t touch her.” Then, donning a surgical glove that she pulled from an inner pocket, she carefully confirmed that Dr. Lesher was indeed dead.
“I’m going to the car for my bag,” said Agent Scully, running toward the doorway. “You call it in. Get a CSI team here and find that disk!”
“I’m on it,” said Mulder, his cell phone already in his hand. “We need to get her body to your lab ASAP!”
Scully’s head teemed with unanswered questions as she ran to the car. Since being appointed Chief Medical Officer of the FBI’s Forensics Division her bag went with her everywhere. She hefted it out of the trunk of her car as she wondered: Who are the Titanians? What is their EPR research? What is DNA engineering? Just how far has the development of nanotechnology come? She already knew that HCT stood for HyperComputer Technology, the latest generation of supercomputers that were about three orders of magnitude more capable than their predecessors; but she hadn’t heard that they originated with the Titanians…whoever they were. And what, exactly had happened to Dr. Adams and Dr. Bennington? And what was the “demonstration” to which Dr. Lesher had alluded? Answers didn’t seem imminent, so she ran back into the house and into Dr. Lesher’s study.
“CSI team is on the way,” said Mulder, “should be here in ten minutes or so.” He was sitting at Dr. Lesher’s desk checking through her computer files.
“Did you find the disk?” asked Scully, kneeling beside the body on the floor.
“Yes I did,” said Mulder. “Right where she said it would be, in a beautiful early edition of Chaucer. I’ve got it tagged and bagged and in my pocket.”
“Anything interesting on the hard drive?” asked Scully. As she spoke she applied sterile swabs to the victim’s mouth, hands, and the blood that had dripped from her nose.
As Scully popped the swabs into individual test tubes and sealed them, Mulder replied, “Not much. I figure she kept all the specific project stuff at work; but there are a few files here that might have some bearing, so I am copying them onto a CD for us to examine at our leisure. I’m sure our CSI team will bring us the whole hard drive, but I like to get the most likely files copied off as a backup.”
Before Scully could answer, the doorbell chimed and the CSI team of three agents let itself in carefully. They always walked like Hindus, thought Mulder, avoiding stepping on insects. He knew they were actually avoiding contaminating the evidence inevitably present on the floor. Scully introduced Mulder to the team’s leader, Akina Kuroma, a petite Asian woman with an extraordinary manner of intensity and focus.
Three hours later, about 11:00 p.m., the job was done. The house had been systematically searched. The study had been scoured with instruments, cameras, chemicals, and every forensic evidence collection tool in the book. Dr. Lesher’s once-beautiful body was bagged and ready to go. The computer’s hard drive and all the other evidence collected by the team was properly documented, packaged and ready for transport.
Glancing around the study to make sure nothing had been overlooked, Scully said, “OK, Akina. Let’s get everything over to the lab pronto. This is going to be another all-nighter.”
“See you there!” rejoined the CSI team leader. “This time of night it should take us about eight minutes to get there.”
Fifteen minutes later Scully drove into the FBI underground parking facility. They had detoured on the way downtown to pick up sandwiches at an all night sub shop. “They’re not here yet,” said Scully. “Right there is where the van parks. What could have happened?” Just then Scully’s cell phone began ringing insistently. “Scully,” she said as she held it to the side of her head.
“Dr. Scully,” said the trembling young woman at the other end of the connection. “It’s Dr. Kuroma…they killed her…took everything!”
“Slow down,” said Scully. “Who is this? Where are you? Tell me from the beginning what happened.”
“This is Natasha Neyfakh. I’m Dr. Kuroma’s assistant. I was at the house in Georgetown with you tonight.”
“Go on,” said Scully.
“We were almost to the lab, going around that big traffic circle by the park in Foggy Bottom, that we go by all the time, you know the one. That’s where we are now. Anyway, we were intercepted by three hummers and a helicopter. The hummers blocked our van, stopped traffic on the circle, and the chopper hit us with a big light from overhead.”
“Who were they?” Scully couldn’t resist interrupting.
“They said they were NSA, but they were dressed like Special Forces in full battle gear, with no insignia or identifying marks at all; and they were armed with suppressed machine guns. There must have been fifteen or twenty of them including at least two in the chopper”
“Go on,” said Scully starting to drive out of the underground parking lot.
“They said they had jurisdiction over the case and ordered us all out of the van. They asked where the two of you were and seemed unhappy that you weren’t with us. Dr. Kuroma refused to get out without more information, so they just shot her and threw her body in the back with Dr. Lesher’s body. Then the light went out on the chopper and one of them got into the van and they all drove off leaving Lee Ping and me just standing there. I was so scared! I’m lucky to be alive. But what should we do now?”
“My suggestion,” said Scully, pulling onto the street, “is that you both get out of town for a few days while Mulder and I see if we can sort this out. I don’t know what’s going on, but it is very strange and obviously very dangerous! I’ll call you when we know something.”
“OK,” said the young forensic protégé. “We’ll do just that.”
As Scully hastened eastward, she explained what had happened to their evidence and to Dr. Lesher’s body. “But why kill Akina?” she asked, her eyes suddenly hot with tears. “Damn them…whoever they are!” she said, seeming to echo Dr. Lesher’s last sentiments.
“I think we’d better lay low ourselves,” said Mulder. “I have an idea that whoever they are they may be looking for us, and I’d rather they didn’t find us at this point.”
“That’s what I thought too,” said Scully, continuing east on US-50. “I have a friend in Annapolis that I trust to put us up until we figure this out. Do you have your laptop with you?”
“Yes, under my seat here,” said Mulder, reaching for the portable computer.
“Why don’t you crank it up and see what’s on that disk Dr. Lesher made for us?” Scully suggested as the agile Mercedes sped them through the night.
“Good idea,” said Mulder, and within a few minutes was totally absorbed in his study of the Top Secret files.