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Cascade Telephone Exchanges
Envelope Series 5
---how on earth did this become a series? I mean, really! I have a busy enough life without a series running through my head. Does anyone know who introduced me to Krycek and Cancerman? Oh, yeah, I remember... Chris at the Bash at the Loft. Boy do I ever owe her one... X-Files and Sentinel... she dared me. ;-)
Warning: Has anyone seen Xtro-2? If so, I just crossed over and found a nice, evil, sneaky way for Cancerman to own Krycek. If not, well... the movie is worth the $1.50 rental just to get neat X-Files crossover material.
Let the story begin...
She stared at the yellowed card; not really believing it was in her hand. Nor did she believe what she had done ... stolen part of Naomi's medical file. Okay, she had memorized the file, read and understood the notes attached to it, and stolen one of the business cards stapled to the back edge of the file. Not too shabby, even if everyone was distracted by the zoned sentinel. Too bad Blair had gotten there so quickly, she hadn’t gotten to look at the folded paper in the file and somehow she knew it was important.
And she wasn’t going to get a second chance to look at it either. She knew there was no way a pair of detectives could miss the little holes on the cardboard or the slightly darker spot where the card had been stapled. At the time she had taken it, she had been moving fast, uncaring of the risk. Now she wasn't so sure. She had made the promise so long ago it seemed unreal now. But she was supposed to keep an eye out for things like that business card.
The card had shocked her. Realizing that Naomi, and by extension, Blair, was connected to someone that high in one of the most secretive organizations had been a blow. The number on the card was out of date -- it had to be. It had been over twenty years since she'd seen that phone number; by this time it would belong to some poor innocent. She didn't want to involve an innocent.
From what she'd read, the whole medical file was about someone who cared little about the conventions of civilian vs. military, volunteers vs. victims. She couldn't let them get their hands on Naomi, she was an innocent... one whose entire life had been shattered by those nameless, ruthless people. Blair was even more of an innocent. He had born the ultimate price, loss of his father, his brother, his identity.
Kyrie AJ Fortaleza was too restless to sleep. Her mind was still spinning with the information she’d learned over the past 48 hours. Someone was threatening her friends. They were threatening her and her family. She couldn’t let it go. She tried not to disturb Rafe as the thoughts struggled in her mind. He looked so peaceful as he slept that she didn’t want to disturb him.
Finally, she slipped from the bed to call in a debt that might be able to help. She paused at the door to look back, wondering how he would react if he knew. He didn't like secrets. She didn't blame him but she couldn’t tell him about her sources of information. Then again, she didn’t have to hide that she was still connected to them. And they needed more information before anyone made any moves against the threat.
After a fast trip to the kitchen, clearing the table and starting water to heat, she turned her attention to the wall. The hardest part was going to be removing the picture without dropping it. A hand gently pushed hers away from the wooden frame and Brian silently moved the picture out of her way. After that, it only took her a few minutes to open the hidden wall safe.
Before she could ask for his help, her heavy metal box was set on the kitchen table. Carefully, she began unlocking the combination on the left lock. She slipped and bit her lip, starting over with the combination. Then she stopped and looked up, Brian was leaning on the doorframe, eyes hooded.
"Are you going to wait over there all night? I started the water, but I..." she didn't have to raise her voice to vent her frustration. "I can't do stuff with this stupid cast on my arm."
"I wasn't sure I was wanted." The sleepy, half-lost look on his face brought a smile to her lips.
"Always, Bri." He smiled at her answer as he deftly poured the water into a mug and dropped in a teabag. After a brief pause, he made himself a cup of instant coffee. He grimaced as he took a sip of it. He hated instant but wasn’t about to take the time to make the real stuff. Kyrie grinned as he handed her the mug of tea. He sat down and took another sip of his coffee. "So, what's in the box?"
"A satellite relay phone." She put her mug down. She glared at the box unhappily and Brian unsnapped the two latches to reveal a single combination lock. After he turned it back towards her, she unlocked last latch. "Some people still owe me."
"Are you going to tell me what you’re after?” Rafe watched her curiously as she entered the codes that activated the relay. He knew she would tell him, if he wanted to know and asked. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
“Information on Brackett and Krycek. I don’t like not knowing exactly what they want.” She lifted her finger to her lips, waiting for the line to be answered. After a moment of silence on the other end, she began speaking into the phone. “This is Silence Two. I’m calling in one of those favors you owe me.”
“I wondered how long it would take you to call us.” The man on the other end laughed. “People have been asking about you.”
“Who’s been asking?” She frowned thoughtfully.
“Even you don’t have enough pull for me to answer that one, Silence.” The man growled at her but she was used to it. “Ask your questions. The rate is still four per debt we owe you.”
“I want information on Corporal Tommy Baines. I worked with him in 1990. I met someone who looks a lot like him. I also want information on Lee Brackett – current information.” Kyrie settled herself comfortably on the chair as she waited for the answers. She could hear the men at the other end of the satellite relay discussing her requests and the sounds of keystrokes as different computer systems were consulted.
“Well, this is interesting,” she heard the man on the other end of the line mutter. Another whistled thoughtfully. “Tommy Baines retired along with his unit in 1990. They formed a security group specializing in dangerous, highly classified installations and special retrievals. In 1994, the entire group died in an accidental explosion at a research facility in New Mexico.” The man paused, reading from the notes in front of him. “Baines’ younger brother, Alex, raised quite a stir, claiming there was a cover-up and then disappeared. The younger brother went under their mother’s maiden name – Krycek. Silence, if you’re involved with Krycek you need to get off this line. We don’t work with him or anyone who does – he’s bad news.”
Behind him, Kyrie could hear a string of curses. One of the other men yelled to the others, “We’re being traced. Kill the system! Fast!”
The phone was dropped as he raced to help his companions. She listened intently, paling as the men fought to protect their computers and their location. After a long interval, the man she’d been speaking to picked up the phone again.
“Silence, that one question filled one of our debts to you. The people protecting Krycek nearly managed to fry us and we’ve got to change addresses, again.” His voice was thoughtful, introspective as he spoke to her. “If you’re running with him, get out. If you’re up against him, run. The word is that you are not only retired but to be left alone. Krycek’s people won’t follow that warning and your friends might not be able to protect you.”
Another man took the phone from the first. “Listen to me, Silence. You’ve given us good information, but this is deadly stuff. Not even Thinker would touch it. Whoever is protecting Krycek’s files is good – they nearly beat us. We don’t want to know what you’re up to this time. We won’t research this one for you. These people have come real close to taking out our friends.” He sighed and added, “We’re going to be moving, so don’t contact us for a while. Be careful.”
“I understand.” Kyrie whispered as the line disconnected. She stared at Brian, thoughts racing through her head as she took apart the relay equipment and returned it to the box. After it was locked, he took the heavy case and returned it to the safe, deftly closing the door and replacing the framed aerial photograph.
“Kyrie, what did your friend say?”
“Nothing. Nothing I can use. Nothing I can give you or Jim to help you.” She turned away, shaking her head. Still thoughtful, she began picking at the plaster cast. “I’ve never had that kind of reaction from them before. They were scared for us, Bri. Scared of Krycek and whoever runs him.”
“Come on. It’s late. Let’s get some sleep. Maybe with rest we’ll have some new ideas.” Brian pulled her to her feet. “Tomorrow we’ll tell Jim what your people said about Krycek. Until then, Jim will make sure nothing happens to Blair. But you get to do the explaining.”
“I’m not telling him that you had a way to get information. You he will only glare at.” He grinned and winked at her. “Now, there’s a very tired looking cat pacing in the other room and you look even more exhausted than it does. Come to bed, querida.”
She sighed, knowing he was right and let him lead her back to bed. Maybe an idea would come while they slept.
He looked up from his computer as the secured line rang. Curious, he checked the time and shook his head. It didn’t normally ring at this hour. That meant trouble. Gingerly, he picked up the receiver.
“Settler, this is 22. I just got a call from an old acquaintance. Do you know who Corporal Tommy Baines, Alex Krycek, or Lee Brackett are connected to?”
“22, hang up now.” Settler ordered and slammed the receiver down. Quickly he shot off an E-mail, praying he’d be in time. Then he began packing up his notes. He’d only been in Seattle for a little while, tracking a lead on Brackett. But if a remote operator had picked up that name… well, it was time to report in anyway.
The E-mail didn’t make too much of a stir. Not at first. Then a clerk typed in the names and requested data from the mainframe. Silent alarms were triggered within moments. The clerk nearly fainted when the division head appeared at her desk. She turned over the original E-mail and all of her data. Then she watched impassively as security took her computer, all of the notes on her desk, the printouts, and her computer disks.
When it was gently suggested that she take the rest of the night off, with pay, she was happy to leave. She’d been highly paid to report any occurrences of a certain name. She went quickly to the payphone at a nearby convenience store. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t notice that security was tailing her. Before she could say anything to the man on the line, a hand reached past her to disconnect the phone.
The man frowned as he hung up the phone. He didn’t like calls with no one on the line. It made him nervous. Then he looked at the phone again. It was the one which only one person knew. He didn’t even stop to grab his stuff. Instead, as he raced out the door, he hit a concealed switch. Within minutes, flames were consuming the office building.
Meanwhile, racing down the interstate, the man dialed a number from memory. “Pass on a message for me, love.” He purred, using a horrendously faked accent. “Tell the neighbors that there’s a rat infestation. We’ve got exterminators on the way.”
Krycek grabbed at his cell phone, disgruntled at having it wake him this early in the morning. Fumbling with it, he growled, “Yeah?”
“I’ve got something.” Brackett sounded too happy for Krycek’s liking.
“This had better be good, Lee.”
The rogue CIA agent laughed. “I have an extensive photo library and I think I found something that might interest you. It’s a picture of Fortaleza and someone who looks amazingly like you.”
“I’ll be there in five minutes.” Krycek closed the phone. Maybe he’d finally find the answer to his many questions and the end of his quest for answers. Maybe, just maybe, he’d finally be able to get free of the devil’s bargain he’d made. Maybe this assignment to Cascade wasn’t so bad after all.
Jim listened carefully, making sure his guide was sleeping. The deep, even breathing reassured him that he wouldn’t disturb the tired young man. The past few weeks had been rough on all of them. Cascade wasn’t called the most dangerous city in America for nothing. If only the criminals would give them a break during other crises. Between finding out that Naomi and most of his family had vanished, AJ being kidnapped, and having the kidnappers demand Naomi in exchange for her, Blair had felt the strain a bit harder than most of the department. The information from the envelope Naomi had left behind hadn’t helped, either.
A quick glance at his clock confirmed that Blair would sleep for a while and that it was already business hours on the East Coast. He pulled on his robe and padded quietly over to the desk in the corner of his bedroom. He opened the file folder on the desk and skimmed Naomi’s flowery handwriting until he came to the passage he was looking for – the description of Nick’s office:
I may never visit the city again, but the skyline is so very beautiful at sunset. All the high glass towers make the city shine – like a part of heaven. The sight of the UN building, flags fluttering in the wind, reflecting the sunset, will always be in my memory.
With a grim smile to himself, Jim nodded. He knew the city so he could get the correct area code. Now to get the number from his memory. He concentrated on the exercises Blair had drilled into him. He let his fingers trace the faint outline of the missing business card as his memory drifted back to see all three cards.
Slowly the cards in front of him faded as he focused on the missing one.
“What do you see, Jim?”
Blair’s quiet question made his eyes fly open. His guide was perched on the edge of Jim’s bed, rubbing his eyes sleepily. The look he shot the sentinel warned the larger man not do anything but answer the question.
With a huff of exasperation, Jim let himself focus firmly on the memory. He was no longer amazed at how quickly he could do this with Blair’s help. With his guide present, the sentinel was so much more in control of his senses, allowing him to access the memories in mere seconds. He read the card aloud. “If you ever need anything, anytime, anywhere – call me. Nick 222 1717.”
“Too bad we don’t have an area code.” Blair commented quietly. “So, was it worth it? Or were you trying to zone out?”
“No, I wasn’t planning on zoning. I just wanted you to catch up on your rest. You’ve been doing a lot – teaching that Criminal Science seminar and working with the department.” Jim replied evenly. At Blair’s wordless shrug, he turned his attention to the current situation. “I know the area code.”
“How?” Blair’s eyes lit up and his face revealed his confusion. “The codes have changed a lot in the past few years and this number is over 30 years old!”
With a smile at the idea he’d out-smarted his partner, Jim dialed the phone number. “Naomi sat in his office and saw the UN building.”
“Come on, Jim. You can’t think it’s the same office –“ Blair went silent as Jim signaled that someone was answering the phone.
“Hello?” A cultured voice came on the line. Jim could hear the faint clicks of a trace being started.
“Nick?” Jim asked.
“May I ask who is calling?” The man’s voice sounded slightly surprised at the question.
“Is Nick there?” Jim responded shortly.
“Not at the moment. May I –“
“Willow needs him.”
“Nick will be here in ten minutes.” The voice became pure business at the mention of Naomi’s previous name. “I can have him—“
“I’ll call back.” The sentinel hung up before the man could reply.
“And?” Blair fairly bounced on the bed as he tried to contain his curiosity. His enthusiasm and hope lit up his face.
“Nick will be there in ten minutes. They were tracing the call. The man on the phone recognized the name ‘Willow’ immediately.” Jim stood and walked over to grab some clean clothes. It was obvious that he wasn’t going to be able to outmaneuver Blair so he might as well begin the day.
“Oh, man.” Blair shook his head in excitement. “This is so… wild. Nick knew Mom and he knew Daniel. He can probably tell me about my father and about what happened to him.”
“Slow down, Chief.” Jim frowned, looking at the younger man worriedly. Blair was pacing the length of the small room. “Don’t get your hopes up. We don’t know if this Nick is the same one who helped your mom in 1968. We don’t know if he can be trusted.”
“Jim!” Blair froze in mid-motion and stared at him. “Come on! It has to be the same one. He saved my mom’s life and mine too! He’s trustworthy.”
“Maybe he was thirty years ago, but people change… and not always for the better.” This was why Jim had wanted to avoid letting his guide know his plans for contacting Nick. The past years had been hard – Blair had been forced to learn through pain and disillusionment. Jim had vowed to protect the eager, naďve innocence that remained of the Blair he had met in Cascade General – before the young graduate student had been forced to decide between friendship and academia, his degree and his honor. He was not about to allow an unknown to waltz in and announce that he was part of Blair’s past – not without thoroughly investigating the situation first. “I’m not about to trust anyone we don’t know. I’m going to grab a quick shower. Could you start some coffee?”
Blair nodded thoughtfully and headed for the kitchen, leaving Jim free to ponder the situation. Next time, he was going to need to plan ahead a little better.
The phone rang in a small room in Topeka, KS. After it the first ring, a switching relay transferred the call to Washington DC. When it was answered, a flat disk was placed against the microphone, blurring the voice.
“Lone Gunmen.” The blond haired man announced, as his companion switched on their recorders.
“Langly, this is Famine. All Hell just broke loose. I need to speak to Frohike and turn off the blasted tape.” A thick voice announced.
Frohike grabbed the phone as the recorder was switched off. “What happened?”
“Someone sent a nasty gram. Fourteen sections are down thanks to you not warning me. Who on earth is this Krycek person?” Famine groused. “When the info group hung up on me I should have known, but then I found the other reference and wham. They traced us and within an hour we were hip deep in feds. We’re closing shop and moving. Warn the others. Oh, someone hit the Willow tree. Looks like that’s causing trouble too.”
Frohike went pale and hung up. “Langly, call Mulder and tell him to lie low. I’ve got to get to Willow.”
The scent of fresh coffee met him the moment he opened the bathroom door. Jim grimaced and headed straight for the phone. It was time to call Nick again. He ignored Blair’s intense stare as he dialed the memorized number.
“Good morning, Detective Ellison.” A different voice answered. Jim wasn’t surprised they knew his name -- he’d expected it. From the pieces of information Naomi had left in her journal, he knew Nick worked for one of the many covert groups of the government. He would have been surprised and suspicious if the man hadn’t known his name.
“Are you Nick?” The sentinel spoke in a deceptively soft voice, his head tilted to listen to all the noises in the distant office. Nick wasn’t alone; the other people in the office were being very quiet – probably listening on a speakerphone.
“Yes, I am. Why are you calling?”
“I don’t like talking about this over the phone.” Jim responded. When there was no reply, he added. “How much do you know?”
“She is being hunted and the hunters are in Cascade. She isn’t with you.” Impatience fought with curiosity in the voice on the phone and for a moment, Jim thought he heard a faint accent to the words. At Jim’s silence, the man added, “I am not your enemy Detective Ellison.”
“You know who I am. I want to know who you are before we start talking about Willow and the past.”
“Detective, I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you.” There was a soft sigh and Jim heard a piece of paper being handed to Nick. His words were crisp as he spoke again. “I have reservations for flight 2134 arriving in Cascade at 2 PM.”
“How will I recognize you?”
“Captain Ellison, we’ve met before. I believe you called me a cold-assed bastard, but the best sniper you’d seen until you ran up against Yuri.” Jim nearly dropped the phone at the unexpected comeback. “My partner and I will meet you at the airport.”
“Yes, sir.” Still slightly stunned, he hung up the phone and stared thoughtfully at the mug of coffee Blair handed him. The younger man waited patiently, only his movements testifying to his nervous excitement. After a long moment, Jim
stood and headed for the refrigerator. 5am was NOT too early for a beer. Not today anyway. Before Blair could say anything, he turned the phone on again and punched the speed dial. “Simon? Blair and I are meeting his godfather this afternoon… Yeah, I thought you might want to be there too.”
A soft gulp was the only reaction Blair made.
The tentative voice broke into the man’s contemplation of his notes. He looked up and waved his minion closer.
“We’ve been advised that there is some unusual activity among the other agencies.” The man licked his lips nervously. “Unfortunately all we’ve ascertained is that several information groups suddenly pulled all their operatives out of New York City, DC, Paris, Cascade, Seattle, and Lima.”
“The entire Willow Tree was routed? Who leaked that we had traced them?” His crony shook his head in panic, denying the fault. The man frowned in thought as he took a deep pull on his cigarette. Something was happening, something he couldn’t control. “Contact Krycek and advise him of the activity. I want to know what is happening. Then book me a flight to Seattle.”