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Divine Intervention
A Touched by an Angel / X-Files / Piercing the Darkness Crossover
By Laura Picken (cranesnake@bigfoot.com)



308 March Street
Hamelton, VT
Monday, February 1
11:45 p.m.

Jessica threw a pillow over her head, trying to block out the sound of the
flute player practicing next door. She had just gotten to sleep not fifteen
minutes earlier, and already that blasted music had woken her twice.
Turning over to see if her husband was sharing her pain, she discovered
that Bill was not likely to wake up before the next ice age. Giving up on
sleep for now, she started to get up to go get a mug of warm milk, when her
daughter, Sharon, blocked her path, the ever-present Carter the Bear being
gently squeezed in her small arms.

"Mommy?"

"Yes dear?" Jessica replied, yawning. [Why am I suddenly so tired -now-?]

"Do you hear the music?"

Trying to keep the annoyance at her neighbor out of her voice, Jessica
replied, "Yes I do, sweetheart."

"I'm scared of the music, Mommy. Can I sleep with you tonight?"

Jessica sighed.[Sharon is eight years old, but she's still scared of her
own shadow sometimes. I guess she's just a sensitive child.] Wordlessly,
she got up, pulled the covers down on the bed, and motioned for her
daughter to get in.

Jessica never saw the gun hidden behind her daughter's teddy bear. So she
had no time to scream when she felt the cold metal placed between just
above her heart and heard her daughter release the safety and pull the
trigger. The feel of the bullet hitting the mattress woke Bill up enough to
roll over and see his only daughter pointing his gun just above his heart.
His last words were to his daughter: "Sharon? Why?"

-^v^-

Sharon watched her sleeping parents carefully. Kathleen had told her that
if she tapped her parents with the magic wand, that they would be able to
get a good night's sleep and wake up all rested and ready to play. Sharon
looked up at her imaginary friend and smiled. It would be good for Mommy
and Daddy to get a good night's sleep, they had been really tired and
grouchy lately anyway. Placing a tiny blood-stained hand on her father's
shoulder, she whispered, "Good night, Daddy! Good night, Mommy! Maybe we
can go to the playground tomorrow?"

Kathleen came up behind the child and whispered into her ear, "We can go to
the playground right now, if you want..."

The excitement evident in her voice, Sharon practically bounced on the bed,
asking Kathleen, "Can Mark come to? I really really want him to come!"

Kathleen looked down at her little excited charge and smiled. "He's already
there, child! I sent him while you came here to help Mommy and Daddy." She
extended a carefully manicured hand out to the girl, who climbed out of the
bed and immediately onto her back. Moving carefully so as not to drop the
blood-covered child, Kathleen tucked the covers carefully around Sharon's
parents. "To make sure they get a good night's sleep," she whispered.
Waving a hand over the gun to make sure no fingerprints could be detected
on it, she couldn't help but think, [The master will be so pleased...]

Taking the girl's hand in his own, Kathleen walked with her out to the
hallway. Looking down to get Sharon's attention, Kathleen asked, "Ready?"
Sharon nodded excitedly.

Kathleen then declared, "On the count of three."

They both counted together, "One, two, three!"

And vanished.

-^v^-

308 March Street
Tuesday, February 2
9:30 am

Carrying her customary bag of bakery-fresh blueberry muffins, Paula stormed
into the house in her customary fashion. [The kids are at school,] she
figured, [and Bill's on his way to work, so Jessie won't mind if I just get
things started...] Setting the muffin bag down on the table, she went to go
grab a plate out of the cupboard when she realized that there was no coffee
in the coffee maker. Allowing herself to think out loud, she said, "Strange.
Bill always has at least two cups before he goes to work..."

The muffins forgotten for the moment, Paula called out, "Jessie? Jessie,
are you awake yet?" She grew even more concerned at the way her words
echoed through the unnaturally quiet house. [Maybe their power went out
during the night and they overslept,] she thought, [It's not like they've
been getting a whole lot of rest lately. I'll just go upstairs and check on
them, see if everything's okay.]

Quickly and quietly, she climbed the stairs. [What -is- that smell?] Now
worried, she ran for the master bedroom, and saw her two friends, in bed,
looking like they were asleep. She sighed in relief. [They probably
overslept. Strange that anyone could sleep with that smell...like something
died in here? Oh God.] She didn't want to think the things she was
thinking, but she knew she had to at least check. If she woke them up,
well, she could simply blame it on paranoia and offer to help clean up
whatever was causing that odor, which was getting worse by the minute.

Tiptoeing her way over to Jessica's side of the bed, she nudged her friend
gently, whispering in her ear, "Jessie? C'mon, sweetie, wake up." Brushing
a hand against her friend's face, Paula suddenly, horribly realized what
was creating that awful smell.

Her best friend's blood.

-^v^-

"Tess, why do people have to go through so much security to get into this
particular building? This isn't an airport."

Standing near the metal detectors to get a good view of the people as they
came into the building, Tess replied, "Because, Monica, this is the
headquarters of the FBI."

Monica's eyes widened a little in excitement. "FBI? Are we going to catch
some awful murderer? Infiltrate the mob? Save the President of the United
States?"

Tess rolled her eyes, then replied to her enthusiastic young associate,
"That's the Secret Service, Monica. Remember?"

Many people walked into the headquarters of the FBI at the same time as
Tess and Monica, but only one person caught the older angel's attention.
Tapping Monica on the shoulder, the older angel motioned for her to follow.

This petite redhead that Tess had expressed an interest in entered the
elevator, pressed "B", and waited for the doors to close. Many others
walked into the elevator, some of them talking to each other, but none of
them speaking to her. They reached around her to push the buttons for their
respective destinations, then let out a collective groan as the elevator
started to go down instead of up as they were expecting. When the elevator
reached the basement, the redhead forced her way out the doors and down the
nearly empty corridor. Behind her, unnoticed, Tess and Monica appeared
again, quickly following her.

Monica asked Tess, "So who's she, Tess?"

"She is the one we're here for," Tess replied. "Her name is Dana Scully.
She and her partner investigate things that most humans barely even know
exist. But they're about to get a case that is going to test the limits of
everything they believe in, and we're here to make sure they pull through
it together."

End Prologue -^v^ -
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Monday, March 8
8:58 am

FBI Special Agent Dana Scully was having an incredibly bad morning. When
she had gone to sleep the night before, she tried to prepare to come early
so she could fill out the mountain of paperwork from their last case, which
she just knew she was going to have to do on her own.

However, she didn't count on her alarm clock deciding that today was a good
day to die. Consequently, she overslept, had to run out of the house, got
stuck in traffic for half an hour, and got a run in her stockings as she
stepped outof the car in a parking building two blocks away from work (the
office parking structure was somehow suddenly full). She stormed into the
basement office she 'unofficially' shared as part of the X-Files division,
threw her briefcase in the corner, collapsed into the nearest chair and
sighed loudly.

Her partner and best friend, Fox Mulder, had already been in the office for
an hour and a half, taking the time to catch up on his e-mail and the
latest issue of the Lone Gunman magazine. He looked up at his partner
sympathetically and smiled.

"Hello Scully. Having a rough morning?"

"Mulder, you have no idea." Rolling her head back, she exclaimed, "God, is
it only 9:00?"

"Yep. I brought you some breakfast." Not moving from his desk, he tossed
her a white paper bag, which she caught effortlessly, but opened with great
trepidation. Seeing the contents weren't going to give her a heart attack
by noon, she smiled, finally allowing herself to relax.

"Banana Nut mini muffins? Mulder, sometimes you can be the most wonderful
human being..."

Mulder smiled in return, finally standing up to go to the coffee machine.
"Well, I try. Would you like me to get you a dose of the brown liquid of
life?"

"The way you make it, it's more like the brown liquid of death, but yes,
coffee would be great, thanks."

"You ready for another lovely day of paperwork?"

Sipping her coffee, Scully replied, "Can't wait. You know how much I just
love filling out your claim forms and expense reports."

"Hey! Is it my fault I'm allergic to New Jersey sewer sludge?"

"No - it's my fault for letting you drag me through it. Again."

-^v^-

An hour later, a phone call roused both agents from the monotony of their
work. "Yours," stated Scully as she recognized the distinctive ring of
Mulder's office line. Picking up the phone, Mulder listened intently,
rattling off a few quick "Yes, sir"s whenever appropriate. When he hung up
the phone, he turned to his partner and said, "Skinner wants to see us in
his office in fifteen minutes."

Scully got up and quickly grabbed her suit jacket, joking, "Well Mulder,
want to place your bets on which one you think it is this time? A new case,
or our regular bi-weekly ass-chewing?"

Mulder, following her lead, held the door open for her and replied with a
smile, "I'd put it at about even odds, Dr. Scully."

-^v^-

The two agents stepped off the elevator and made their way to Skinner's
office. As he watched his two most troublesome agents walk into his office,
the Assistant Director was forced to suppress a chuckle. [Do they naturally
assume that they're in trouble every time I call them? I guess, with their
track record, that would make sense...]

In his most authoritative voice, Skinner instructed the pair, "Agent
Mulder, Agent Scully, please take your seats."

Skinner sat down behind his desk as Mulder and Scully sat down in front of
him. Before they could ask what the meeting was about, he handed Scully a
manilla folder and told them, "I have a new assignment for you."

He noticed both agents start to relax, and Dana start to flip through the
red-bordered file. [Now for the part they're not going to like...] "On this
case you will be observed by two rookie agents, who will meet you in your
office after this meeting is over."

As Mulder opened his mouth to protest, Skinner cut him off. "Now, Agent
Mulder, before you protest about how strongly you object to being put on
baby-sitting detail, let me finish. Regardless of your 'reputation', you
have one of the strongest male-female agent partnerships in the Bureau. As
part of a program to help agents work together successfully in mixed gender
partnerships, the Director himself has worked with the head of Quantico to
put together this program; where several veteran partnerships like your own
will have rookie agents observing them through the duration of a single
case. I volunteered you two, because I figured you needed as much positive
PR as you could get. Taking that into consideration, I suggest you treat
agents Smith and Wesson with the utmost courtesy and respect."

[Smith and Wesson? He's -got- to be kidding.] Before Mulder could open
his mouth to actually verbalize a protest, Scully quietly replied, "Thank
you, sir," silencing her partner with The Look.

Seeing that he wasn't going to get the expected argument, Skinner dismissed
them, "Very well then, that will be all."

-^v^-

In the basement offices of the X-Files, two very unusual agents were having
a very unusual meeting. One, a gentle-looking woman with dark hair and a
thick Irish accent, went to embrace her 'partner', a tall, blond, and
handsome gentleman who appeared very clearly American.

"Andrew!" the woman exclaimed, " What are you doing here?"

"Actually, I'm not quite sure. My orders were simply to help you with
whatever comes up on this assignment."

"Oh, so you're supposed to help me out, eh? Does that mean I'm in charge?"

"No, it means that we're partners, Monica. We work equally."

Monica turned her gaze away, embarassed. "Sorry, I didn't mean to upset
you."

Andrew broke into a wide grin. "S'okay. I'm not upset. I just didn't want
you to explode from a swelled head or anything." Feigning mock insult,
Monica gave Andrew a good-natured punch in the shoulder.

As Monica and Andrew continued to joke with each other, Mulder and Scully
walked in from their meeting with the Assistant Director. Scully paused for
a moment -- it was surprising to see new partners who were so comfortable
around each other, especially after Skinner's description of this 'program'
these two were supposed to be a part of. She began to wonder, not for the
last time, who these two really were.

"Good morning. I'm Dana Scully and this is my partner, Fox Mulder. I assume
that you are the two agents who were sent to observe us?"

Andrew stood there for a minute, unable to speak. [I know these two from
somewhere,] he thought, [But for the life of me I can't remember where...]

Noticing Andrew's unusual shyness, Monica imitated her human counterpart
and replied, "Yes, my name is Monica Smith, and this is my partner, Andrew
Wesson. We're looking forward to working with you."

Mulder grumbled under his breath, "Man, these two are the biggest
blue-flamers I've ever seen."

Before he could give voice to that comment, Scully interrupted, "Well, it's
always nice to find out that someone has taken notice of the more positive
aspects of our work," while giving Fox a look that screamed, 'Mulder, I
know what you're thinking and DO NOT go there.'

Seeing his partner's look,Mulder swallowed that comment (along with his
pride), and stated, "So, shall we take a look at our latest case?"

Scully nodded, and both of them took their seats near Mulder's desk. Andrew
and Monica pulled up chairs that were sitting against the wall and turned
their attention toward Scully, who was holding the file.

Scully began, "I skimmed the file briefly while in the elevator on our way
back down here. Ten couples have been murdered in rural communities in
Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Each couple had two children, a boy
between the ages of 11 and 13 and a girl between the ages of 7 and 9. Both
children disappeared after their parents were murdered; none of these
children have yet been found, dead or alive. Each couple was listed as
having died sometime around midnight."

"The witching hour," muttered Mulder.

Scully knew her partner meant that literally. Rolling her eyes, she
continued, "The cause of death varies in each case. Three of the couples
were stabbed with knives from their own kitchens, three were strangled,
three were suffocated using (according to the ME on the case) the pillows
they slept on, and the last couple was each shot in the chest at close
range with a gun they had recently purchased. Get this, Mulder - the
neighbors' statements report that they heard sounds similar to a flute near
the houses of the dead couples, but other than that, there were no other
signs of a struggle, forced entry or of anyone coming in or going out of
the houses. In fact, other than the music, no one noticed anything unusual
until the bodies were discovered the next morning."

"Any prints on the murder weapons?" asked Mulder.

"None," replied Scully, "and we are set to go to the sight of the last
three murders tomorrow. We leave for Hamelton, Vermont at 7:30 tonight."

Mulder groaned, "Leave it to Skinner to make sure we get at least half a
day's time to do paperwork. I'll take the file and start working on a
preliminary profile. Scully, would you like to show our two 'observers' the
joys of the Bureau's paper trail?"

Scully sighed. There was no way she was going to get out if it, was there?
"Okay. If that's all right with you two?"

Andrew and Monica, to Scully's great relief, nodded, making it clear that,
unlike her partner, they were more than happy to help with the paperwork.

Dulles International Airport
USAir Terminal, Gate 13
7:15 p.m.

Scully smiled as she watched Monica and Andrew approach her. "Good evening,
Agent Scully," asked Monica, "Where is Agent Mulder?"

"Agent Mulder has made it a tradition to get on a plane fifteen seconds
before they close the doors, so we have a while before he gets here. The
plane should begin boarding in a few minutes. Shall we sit down?" She
motioned to the nearly empty waiting area for the flight to Montpelier, and
Monica quickly found a seat, followed by Dana and Andrew. Trying to jog his
unusually cloudy memory, Andrew decided to engage Dana in a bit of social
conversation. "So, how long have you and Agent Mulder been working
together?"

"About four years."[God, has it been that long?]

"Agent Mulder seems like a very interesting person to work with," said
Monica.

Her comment got a raised Scully eyebrow in response. As far as she could
remember from her last trip to Quantico, the legend of 'Spooky' Mulder was
still a hot topic of conversation, both among the faculty and the recruits.
However, it seemed like Andrew and Monica knew very little about her and
Mulder.

"Well, there's never a dull moment when I'm around, as you'll soon find
out," chimed in a very familiar voice.

"Mulder, you're early! This is a surprise," exclaimed Scully, turning to
see her partner, who had just walked up behind them.

"Well, I like to keep you on your toes. May I?" asked Mulder, motioning to
a seat.

Everyone nodded for him to join them, so Mulder took a seat next to Andrew,
which put Monica and Scully directly across from him. Scully was eager to
get off the personal bent to this conversation, so she turned to Mulder and
asked, "So, Mulder, any ideas about this case yet?"

"Not really," replied Mulder, "These don't look like your normal abduction
cases. There's definitely some human force behind it, but I'm not quite
sure what it is yet."

" 'Normal abduction cases'," repeated Monica, "But I thought you said you
knew these children had been kidnapped?"

This raised Mulder's suspicions. From what Scully had told him, and from
what little time he spent at Quantico, he knew that no new agent left that
place without getting a good dose of 'Spooky' Mulder stories. Yet, these
two seemed like they knew very little about him. He glanced at Scully,
whose look only showed that she was suspicious too, but that they would
talk about it later, alone, and tried to keep his face expressionless as
Scully calmly replied, "Agent Mulder and I differentiate between kidnapping
and abduction cases."

Monica nodded, and glanced at Andrew, who looked like she had just gotten
them in trouble, again. [Maybe I should have read that background
information Tess gave me,] she thought. Her gaze falling to the floor, she
sighed, "I see,"

Scully took one look at her and, for some reason, her heart just went out
to her. She felt that if she explained Mulder's ideas to Monica, that she
wouldn't condemn him as crazy, like every other agent she met. "It's all
right," whispered Scully, "When Agent Mulder talks about abductions, he's
talking about abductions by extraterrestrials."

Monica's eyes lit up. Well, at least that she could deal with. She's seen
enough types of beings from her days in the heavenly chorus to understand
that God made many more types of creatures than humans, although humans
undoubtedly were his favorites. "So, do you believe in the existence of
little green men, Agent Mulder?"

Mulder had a hard time trying to keep from cracking up. How many times had
he asked that question to someone, and either gotten an argument or
hysterical laughter in response? And now, another agent was asking that
question to him? This was too good. "Gray men, actually. And please, just
Mulder. Actually, yes I do. Do you?"

"Why certainly, Mulder. I find it hard to believe that most people would be
so arrogant as to believe that this is the only planet that God spent any
time working on. After all, the universe is a whole lot bigger than most
people can even understand, let alone appreciate."

Mulder wasn't sure whether to smile, laugh, cry or draw his gun. Finding
another person who held the same beliefs he did always did that to him.
Scully rolled her eyes and had to stifle a groan. One 'believer' on a case
was enough trouble, she though, but two? This was going to be a long one.
Andrew, on the other hand, started looking around the airport for a quick
escape route and was fidgeting nervously. [If she starts going off about
her friends from Bajor in the chorus,] he thought, [We are in big trouble.]

Fortunately for all concerned, the stewardess from USAir announced just in
the nick of time, "Ladies and gentlemen, at this point we are going to
start boarding passengers for Flight 1013 to Montpelier, Vermont..."

Montpelier International Airport
Monday, March 8
9:00 p.m.

A wave of nausea overtook Monica even as the plane was making its final
approach. She had taken airplane trips before on assignments without
problems. So what was happening to her now?

Andrew watched his partner, the worry evident on his face. He had felt the
familiar twinge of evil as well, but was hoping he could shrug it off as
nothing. Monica's strong reaction, though, made him see otherwise. Grabbing
her hand, he whispered reassuringly, "We'll be landing in just a minute,
Monica. It'll be fine." It wasn't much of a reassurance, he knew, but it
would have to suffice.

Once the plane finally taxied to the gate, Andrew stole a quick glance at
Mulder and Scully, hoping they wouldn't notice Monica's rapidly declining
appearance. He relaxed slightly when the two agents, consumed by their
desire to get off the plane, left without even a nod in their direction.

Turning back to tend to his partner, he saw that her condition was growing
worse. She was pale, sweating slightly, and still looked like she was about
to be sick at any moment. Andrew frowned, his concern growing. If Monica
was feeling like -this- now, when the local air was just starting to get
into her system, could she handle getting off the plane, and facing what he
knew was coming? He said a quick prayer for God to give her strength, and
helped her get off the plane.

Sure enough, when they made it to the gate, Monica's appearance had
improved considerably, but not enough to get her past Dr. Scully's watchful
eye. The agent stopped them as soon as they got off the plane, her concern
for Monica's appearance obvious.

By this point, Andrew was working hard to not sound desperate. He knew that
Monica needed, and deserved an explanation as to what was going on here,
but he couldn't do a thing with the two agents around. With a leading arm
around Monica, he guided her, "Come on Monica, let me take you over here
for a minute to get some air."

Scully touched Andrew on the shoulder and asked, "Andrew, it's all right,
I'm a medical doctor. Monica, can you tell me what's wrong?"

Monica recovered enough to find her voice. "It's all right, Agent Scully.
Andrew's dealt with this before." A quick glance at her partner's face
confirmed that he had, indeed, dealt with this before. [What's going on
here?] Wanting to reassure the other woman, Monica continued, "I should be
fine in a few minutes."

The skeptical tone never left Scully's voice as she said, "Fine. We'll give
you a couple of minutes alone while Mulder and I go pick up the rental
cars. Andrew, are you sure about this?"

It took every ounce of faith Andrew had to quickly reply, "Yes, she'll be
fine." [Oh Lord,] he prayed, [Please don't make me a liar.] He placed his
arm around Monica and let her far enough away from Mulder and Scully that
he could talk to her without being heard. Turning his attention to Monica
again he encouraged her, "Come on, Monica, take deep breaths, try to relax,
gain some strength. You'll be fine in a couple of minutes, I promise."

After Monica had composed herself as best she could under the
circumstances, she whispered, "I can't believe it! Andrew, have you ever
felt so much evil in one place before?"

Andrew grabbed her and pulled her into a fierce hug. All he could do was
quietly whisper, "Yes, I have." He had indeed felt such evil. It was a long
time ago, and it was something he hoped he would never have to face again.

Monica looked up at him in shock. Staring straight into his eyes, she
whispered, "You have seen this before, haven't you? Andrew, what's going
on?"

Looking around to make sure no one was listening, Andrew replied, "Monica,
I had hoped I would never have to reveal this to anyone, but I believe you
need to have some idea of what we might be dealing with here. I have a
feeling that my 'secret' is the reason I was sent to help you out on this
assignment. You must promise me, though, that you will keep what I tell you
now strictly between us. Even Tess does not know what I am about to tell
you." Monica nodded.

Satisfied, Andrew took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and revealed his
only secret. "Okay. Monica, before I was an angel of death, before I was a
case worker, I was in Special Forces. I fought in Ashton and Bacon's
Corner. This--feeling, this evil you just felt? I felt it in the air just
before both those battles."

-^v^-

When Andrew said that he had a secret, which she thought no angel had, she
had no idea what to expect, but she certainly did not expect that. Special
Forces? She thought nobody ever left that group. That was the best
assignment an angel could get, in her opinion--fighting the demons that
plague the Earth, and making sure that the most powerful ones never got a
chance to inflict the pain that she hated to see. She had heard the legends
about the battles at Ashton and Bacon's Corner since her days in the
heavenly chorus so long ago. Both those battles were hard-fought victories;
both barely won. None of the angels who fought there came out unscathed.
Many carry wounds that are still physically visible. [And we're dealing
with a force that is just as evil, just as palpable, as the Destroyer and
the Strongman,] thought Monica. She voiced her concerns out loud to Andrew.
"I guess what Tess told me was right; if we're dealing with something this
strong, Fox and Dana could not possibly be prepared for something like
this. I don't even know if I'm prepared to deal with something like this."

"Have some faith, Angel Girl," Andrew smiled, and tried to encourage her,
pulling her into another hug, "I'm still here, aren't I? As Tess would say,
'If the good Lord could pull me through those battles, he can pull us
through this one.'"

"I guess you're right," declared Monica, comforted already by the thought
of her friend and supervisor, who promised she would be meeting Monica and
Andrew in Hamelton. "We should find Fox and Dana, before Dana starts
wondering if she'll have to perform an autopsy on me."

"And then Fox will start one of his 'X-File's on the both of us," agreed
Andrew, laughing. "Let's go."

-^v^-

I-35 North
Heading toward Hamelton, VT
Monday, March 8
10:00 p.m.

When they found Mulder and Scully, they had rented matching blue Ford
Tauruses, one for them, which Mulder drove, and one for Andrew and Monica,
which Monica drove. Andrew spent the drive filling Monica in on the rest of
the background information she was supposed to have read before the
assignment, while Dana and Fox discussed the case and their increasingly
interesting 'observers'.

"So who do you think they are?" asked Scully.

"I don't have any idea,"

"Do you think they work for our cigarette-smoking friend?"

"I'm not really sure," replied Mulder. "They acted like they didn't know
anything about me, or our work, even though you know how many rumors are
floating around the Bureau about us."

Scully sighed, and started out the window at the multitude of stars that
blurred past them. "Frankly, Mulder, I'm wondering if all that 'believing
in aliens' stuff she talked about before we got on the plane wasn't just
for your benefit, to get you to trust her. And yet, there's something about
them, particularly Monica, that makes me feel like she would accept
anything, as long as it was the truth. My instincts say they don't work for
*them*, but if they don't, then I really don't know what to make of them
yet."

"Do you think they're aliens?"

"Mulder!"

"Just kidding!..."

-^v^-

Mercurius always loved this detail. Watching over a small town, making sure
its people were protected from harm was, to him, a most rewarding
experience. It had brought him great joy to know that the people below him
in Hamelton felt as safe as when God brought them into the world.
Sometimes, he would even spend the evenings walking the quiet neighborhood
streets, silently, vigilantly checking on the people he considered friends.

Which is why he was so disturbed when the demon Angelos came to town. He
tried to stop Angelos before the demon took young Mark McLintock, and was
almost destroyed in the process. Disturbed, he flew off immediately to
speak with Guilo, who had been working at Captain Tal's right hand ever
since the battle at Bacon's Corner. He briefed Guilo on the havoc and death
Angelos was creating in town, and asked his friend for his advice and help.

Guilo tried to reassure him. "Mercurius, thank you for alerting us to this.
We have been tracking him for some time, and now that we know where he is,
we can plan our strategy for his defeat."

Mercurius was reassured that the leaders of this battle were aware of the
situation, but he still was greatly concerned for his friends in Hamelton.
He eagerly awaited his orders, but was afraid to ask for them.

Sensing Mercurius' concern, Guilo came a step closer to his friend, knowing
that he was not going to be happy with what he had to tell him at this
point. "Stay out of sight for now, my friend. Be patient, for we will send
help at the proper time. Until then, Angelos must not know that there are
angels who will defend Hamelton to the end. Our prayer cover there is very
weak right now, and we still must find the remnant there. If you find
someone who will be part of the remnant, protect them from Angelos if he
attacks them, but that is all we can do for now."

As Guilo suspected, his friend hated the plan. He swept his long blond hair
behind his broad shoulders, and sighed. He may not like it, but orders are
orders, and, for the best interests of all concerned, he knew he must obey.
"And what of the case workers? Should I inform them of the situation?"

Guilo was not aware of any case workers who were working in the area near
Hamelton, so his curiosity was piqued. "Case workers?"

Mercurius replied, "Yes, there are three case workers who have just come
into town tonight. Two of them are staying at the Inn on the outskirts of
town with two FBI agents, and a third is working undercover as a waitress
at a small restaurant nearby."

[Perhaps Tal knows of these new arrivals to Hamelton. They might even be of
use in finding the remnant here,] thought Guilo. "What are their names? I
need to discuss their presence with the Captain."

Mercurius turned to the small notebook that was his trusted companion as
witness - protector for Hamelton. "The worker at the restaurant is named
Tess, and the ones with the FBI agents are called Monica and Andrew. The
agents they are with are called Mulder and Scully."

Guilo took in a sharp breath. Andrew? He remembered the young angel from
Bacon's Corner.[So what is he doing in Hamelton now? For all we know, he
may be there for one of the two agents, but the timing is just too
God-like.] he thought. [I must ask the captain about this.] "All right, for
now, do not reveal your presence to them. Let them continue with their
assignment, and wait for word from either the captain or myself. We will
come to you when the time is right to fight our common foe. Are we in
agreement?"

Mercurius nodded. He knew his friend's great strength and wisdom, and
trusted his judgment implicitly. "Agreed. Good bye, my friend. I will see
you soon."

The two angels embraced, then Mercurius flew away, quick as a lightning
bolt, to return to his beloved town.

End Chapter One -^v^-
Hills outside of Hamelton
along I-35 North
Tuesday, March 9
6:00 a.m.

The man sitting on the hill sighed deeply, his mind consumed by the
terrible events that were occuring in the town below. He had watched demons
work from time eternal, and no matter what harm they caused, it never got
easier to stomach.

And this battle was no better. Seeing the innocence of a child turned to so
much dust in the wind was a pain that pierced his soul like a sword through
the heart. It was common knowledge that a child's guardian angel had direct
access to God himself, and any threats to a child's welfare were to be
answered in the strongest possible manner. That was why he was here. The
children were too valuable to let a threat like this be answered by anyone
else.

Yet he knew that now was not the time to strike. Tal had not become Captain
of the Host by being impatient. The prayer cover in Hamelton was almost
nonexistent at the moment, and there weren't even enough warriors in the
area to do more than fray the edges of the dark canopy that covered the
town. Now, watching the sun rise as he did every morning, no matter where
he was, Tal silently prayed for guidance and contemplated their next move.

Within a few brief moments he noticed his friend Guilo coming from the
south. Tal rose to embrace his second-in-command, and Guilo sat down beside
him, unsure if the news he brought would encourage the captain or bring him
further trouble. "I bring news from Mercurius," said Guilo. "He had a
run-in with Angelos, and was forced to flee. Another couple is dead at the
hands of their own child."

Tal sighed, "I am aware of the passing of William and Jessica, friend. But I
sense that you have other news. What is it? You can not trouble me more
than I already am."

Gathering all his mighty strength, Guilo stated the news as simply as he
could. "There are other angels in town. Case workers. They have brought the
FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Captain, Andrew is among them."

For the first time since this terrible struggle began, Tal smiled. "Take
heart, friend, this is good news! Andrew has a brave heart, and his time
away from us must have done him some good, or the Lord would not have
deemed him fit to come and help us fight this battle. And the FBI agents
with them have fought many of the evil forces in this world." He remembered
their largely unseen work in helping to roust the Omega Center. "I sense
that the Lord has sent them here to play a key role in saving Hamelton."

Having heard his companion's words of reassurance, Guilo was both relieved
and impatient. "So what now, Captain? Has the Lord granted you some insight
into what our next course of action is to be?"

"I must stay far out of sight. I have become too well known among the
demonic forces. If Angelos sees me, he may attack immediately, or worse,
send for help and then attack, and that would be too much for us right now.
However, Andrew must know that we are here. He has probably already sensed
the evil that has descended on this town, and it is time to let him know
how much he is needed here. We must have more prayer cover! The remnant
needs to come together soon, and I believe Fox and Dana will be
instrumental in starting this."

Guilo could feel the seeds of excitement sprouting to life in his soul.
"Excellent! So where do we begin?"

Tal knew what he was about to say would please his friend to no end. "It
seems we have an old ally in Hamelton. He and his family have just moved
there, and already he has been praying for his new home."

Guilo could barely contain his excitement. "Who is this ally, Captain?"

Tal smiled, and placed a hand on Guilo's shoulder. "Tom Harris."

Hamelton Motor Inn
Room 6
6:45 a.m.

The sunlight streamed through the tiny crack in the curtains to hit Andrew
right on his left eye. Unable to fight off the glare, the angel slowly,
groggily woke up. [It's been so long since I've had to deal with mortal
sleep,] he thought, [That I've forgotten how hard it is to wake up in the
morning. Ah well, I guess it's time to wake Fox up so we make breakfast on
time.] He turned over to look at the other bed...

...and realized that Mulder was gone.

Andrew panicked. Something just told him that the concept of Mulder going
anywhere alone, for some reason, was a very bad idea. He started to look
around for any evidence that Mulder had taken off in the middle of the
night. Sure enough, both Tauruses were outside the rooms, most of Mulder's
clothes were still in the closet and dresser, and his bag was still there.
[So where could Fox have gone?] thought Andrew.

Just then he caught sight of the notepad left on the table. He quickly
picked it up, and, sure enough, the note was from Mulder:

Andrew -

Went out for a run. I'll meet you and the ladies
at the diner for breakfast.

-- Mulder

Andrew sighed, quickly crumpled up the note, and headed for his favorite
human activity -- a hot shower. As he started the water, he heard Scully's
alarm clock and her futile attempts to shut it off. [Guess she doesn't like
mornings either,] thought Andrew. Finally he heard Scully wake up, shut off
the clock, and then he heard Monica say something about letting Scully have
the first shower. Satisfied, he stepped into the shower for himself.

Myrtle's
adjacent to the Hamelton Motor Inn
7:45 a.m.

Myrtle Caloquat thought she knew everyone in this town, but now she was
starting to think otherwise. [First, the Thomases up the road turn up dead,
their kids missing. Then the Joneses. Now Jessie and her husband Bill are
dead, their kids gone, and all these new people are showin' up. Lot of
those tourist folk been crowdin' up the Inn, just like she heard happened
out in California when OJ Simpson killed his wife and that other fella.]

[Now there are these four other folks who say they're here to try and find
out what happened and get those kids back, though she had no idea what they
had to come back to, what with their parents dead and all. Good thing that
new lady, Tess, came in here lookin' for a job the other day. If this keeps
up, I'm definitely gonna need the help,] thought Myrtle. "Hey Tess," she
said, "Can you go over to table 6 and take their breakfast order?"

"Sure thing, Myrtle," replied Tess. She mentally thanked God for his
perfect planning. This was the best way for her to keep up with the latest
opinions about things going on in town and keep an eye on Andrew and
Monica. Since this was the only eating place in town, Mulder and Scully
would have to be in here at least three times a day, and Andrew and Monica
would have to follow. She walked over to the table where three people sat
in trenchcoats. "Mornin' folks. My name is Tess, and I'll be your waitress
for today. Aren't y'all waiting on someone?"

"Why, yes, he should be here any minute. How did you know?" replied Scully.

"Word travels fast around here. And you four are the talk of this town. Do
you really think you're gonna find those kids?"

"We'll certainly do our best," replied Scully.

"Well that's good enough for me," said Tess, "Now can I get you good folks
something in the meantime?"

"Do you have a double decaf mocha latte?" asked Monica. Tess, Andrew, and
Dana all looked at her like she just asked for a dose of cyanide. Refusing
to give up, Monica asked, "Well then, how about a capuccino?"

When more uncomfortable stares were leveled in her direction, Monica raised
up her hands in defeat. "All right, all right, I'll just have coffee then!"

Glaring at her young charge, Tess set about getting their coffee, while
Monica decided to try and get more information out of Scully about her
partnership with Mulder. "So, is this a normal type of case for you?"

"It's about as normal as our cases tend to get, yes." [Funny how your
definition of normal can change over the years...]

Monica was really hoping she'd get into more detail, but after Scully said
no more on the subject, the angel decided to try another approach. "So,
what's it like being a woman in the Bureau? I mean, you've been around for
much longer than I have. Does it get any easier?"

"Depends on what you mean by easier. If you mean the cases, yes, it does
get a little easier over time. It never gets easy, especially on cases like
this that involve children -- if it stops bothering you, then that's exactly
the time you need to resign, and fast. If you mean dealing with the 'old
boys network', then no, it doesn't get any easier. Some may learn to admire
you, even respect you, but that only makes the ones who don't give you more
of a hard time. It helps when your partner is one of the people who
respects you."

"Like Agent Mulder respects you?" asked Andrew.

Scully nodded automatically. [But does he really respect me?] she thought.
If he respected me, why would he keep going off and following his own leads
without me?]

Andrew and Monica looked at each other, both knowing that she wasn't quite
certain what she just said was true, then stared into their cups of coffee
as if they held the meaning of life.

After a few tense moments of silence, Mulder walked in. His hair was still
wet from the shower he so quickly took after getting back from his run that
morning. "Good morning everyone. Have I missed anything?"

Andrew and Monica stole a quick glance at each other, unsure of what to
say. Finally, everyone shook their heads in unison. "No, you didn't miss
much. We were just discussing life in the Bureau," replied Scully.

"Great," said Mulder, "So when do we eat?"

Tess, seeing Mulder walk in, picked just that time to show up with a fresh
cup of coffee for him. "Right after you get a chance to look at that menu,
honey," she said, handing Mulder a one-page laminated menu card with the
few breakfast offerings the diner had. "So what'll it be?"

Dana ordered a fruit salad, half of a plain cinnamon raisin bagel and a
skim milk; Andrew ordered the same. Fox, on the other hand, ordered two
eggs over easy, greasy diner hash browns, extra bacon, a bagel with cream
cheese, and a second cup of coffee. Before Dana could start chastising him
(as usual) for ordering something that might kill him before the next
liver-eating mutant has a chance, Monica piped in with, "I'll have the
same." Dana, after hearing that, looked at Monica's slim physique and
wondered if she just might really be some sort of alien genetic experiment
after all.

As Tess went to place the order, Andrew dove right in to the case at hand,
asking, "So, what's the plan for today?"

Mulder replied, "Well, I was thinking that we could go interview the
neighbors of the six local victims - see if they had any connection to each
other."

Monica asked, "You mean besides the sounds of the flute and the
disappearance of their children?"

Mulder and Scully both nodded. Mulder added, "We should probably split up
for this. Andrew, I think we should take the Joneses and the Thomases,
since they lived within a couple of blocks of each other. Scully, I think
you and Monica should take the McLintocks and then go over to the Medical
Examiner's office to see if there's anything that might have been missed on
the autopsies. I noticed in the forensic reports that they didn't do a tox
scan on any of the victims; I'd like to see if they have any specimens that
we could send back to Washington for analysis."

Scully nodded her agreement, and, although they both oddly nervous about
the idea of splitting up, Monica and Andrew both agreed to the plan. At
that point, Tess brought the food, and the foursome finished their
breakfasts quickly and in relative silence, eager to get on with the day's
investigation.

House of Carl & Paula Gorman
310 March Street
11:00 a.m.

Their house looked just like every other typical suburban house on this
typical suburban block. The house next door looked just like theirs, too,
except for the unusual, eerie quiet. The parents, Bill and Jessica
McLintock, had been silenced forever; their children, Mark and Sharon,
gone, with no idea as to when, or even if, they will ever be heard from
again. Monica shuddered involuntarily as she looked at the quiet house.
Scully noticed her uneasiness, and led her away from their blue Taurus to
the front door of the Gorman house, hoping to get some answers.

An older woman with long, dark hair and soft brown eyes opened the door to
the two agents. "Mrs. Gorman?" asked Scully.

The woman at the door nodded, "Yes, can I help you?"

Scully replied, "My name is Agent Dana Scully, and this is Agent Monica
Smith. We're with the FBI, ma'am." She flashed her badge, and then
continued, "We'd like to ask you a few questions about the incident that
happened next door, if that would be all right with you."

Mrs. Gorman quickly stepped aside, ushering them into the house and closing
the door behind them. "Certainly. Please, agents, have a seat. Would you
like some coffee?"

Monica replied, "No, thank you Mrs. Gorman. You have a lovely home here."

Looking at their mauve-colored surroundings, Dana started to wonder again
about the Irish junior agent. [I've never met a woman who warms up to
people so easily,] thought Dana. [Then again, maybe I've been hanging
around Mulder too long. Sometimes he practically exudes paranoia.] Being
the senior agent, Dana began the questioning as soon as everyone was
settled.

"Mrs. Gorman, can you tell us what happened to you that night?"

Paula shifted around uncomfortably. "Well, to be perfectly honest with you,
I didn't see much that night. I'm sure you have the statement I gave
Sheriff Materian that night?" Scully and Monica both nodded. "Everything I
saw and heard that night and the next morning I told him. But I
take it that's not the only information you need?"

Scully replied, "That's correct, ma'am. You and your husband were friends
with the deceased couple, is that right?"

Paula nodded, then her face turned pale. "You couldn't possibly think that
my husband and I--"

Monica interrupted her, "No, of course not! All we want to know is if they
had any enemies? Anyone who might have wanted to have them..." she
grimaced,
hating to have to use the word, "killed?"

Paula shook her head. "No. I've known Jessie all my life. We played
together as children, went through High School together, we even double
dated on prom night. I was one of her bridesmaids when she married Bill,
and I helped throw her welcome home parties when she brought Mark and
Sharon home from the hospital. If they had any enemies, I would have known
about them."

"What about Bill," asked Dana, "do you think--"

Paula shook her head again. "No way. I always thought something like this
would never happen here. Definitely not to them." By this point her lower
lip was quivering, and it was obvious that she was trying very hard not to
cry.

It was taking a lot for Scully to keep a straight, professional face and
not sigh in frustration at this point. She was certain that they were not
going to get any additional information out of the neighbors. She decided
to end this quickly. Standing up, she said, "Well, Mrs. Gorman, thank you
very much for your time." She handed Paula a business card. "If you can
think of anything else that might be helpful in our investigation, we're
staying at the Motor Inn."

Monica, taking her cues from Scully, got up and, after warmly shaking
Paula's hand, followed her out the door.

Scully leaned against the car door and let out the sigh she had been
holding in during her interview with Paula Gorman. "Well, I don't think
that got us anywhere. What about you?"

Monica looked at her sympathetically. "Well, if anything, we know that we
can probably rule out war between the neighbors as a motive for the
killings."

Scully shrugged her shoulders. "I agree. This neighborhood is just too
tight-knit. It's like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting."

Monica agreed, "Except for the fact that you never know if you or your
neighbors is going to turn up dead the next morning."

Dana paused in thought for a moment. "It seems to me that the fact that the
missing children are all around the same ages is significant. And if you
need to find out information about children when the parents aren't
available..."

Monica caught this train of thought immediately. "The next place you check
is their school. Let's go."

Office of the Board of Education
Hamelton School District
noon

When Scully and Monica went back to the hotel, the front desk clerk, June,
was more than happy to give them the address to the Board of Education
office. As Scully and Monica pulled up to a small two-bedroom home, Scully
wondered if June had made a mistake. Their location was confirmed, however,
when the mailbox read "Hamelton Board of Ed" instead of a given name like
the other mailboxes on the block. Their curiosity was piqued when Andrew
and Mulder's Taurus pulled up behind theirs.

"What are you two doing here?" exclaimed Monica.

"Well, it turns out that both the Joneses and the Thomases live, or should
I say lived, three blocks north of here," replied Mulder, "so as we were
leaving our last interview, we saw you drive by, and we decided to follow
you. How did your interviews go by the way?"

"We got nowhere," replied Scully, frustrated. "Turns out that this is your
perfect little rural community. Everyone knows each other, knows each
others business, and no one could possibly murder the neighbors next door."

"Seems we had similar luck, Agent Scully," commented Andrew. "So what are
we doing here?"

Scully replied, "I had a hunch that the fact that the kids were all of
similar ages was a primary factor in these cases, so I figured we should
check out the children's school records and see if they might have known
each other or taken any classes together - some connection that they might
have had to each other."

"Good idea Scully," said Mulder, "let's go in and check it out." Andrew and
Monica led the way up to the front door, Mulder and Scully following. Not
one to miss an opportunity, Mulder leaned down and whispered in his
partner's ear, "Scully, you, working on a hunch? Ooooooh, spooky!"

"Don't get your hopes up, Mulder," whispered Scully in response, "It may
never happen again." The two agents stood in front of their junior
counterparts as they rang the doorbell.

A tall, dark-haired, and well-built gentleman answered the door. Andrew
drew in a deep breath, though only Monica heard it. Ignoring the surprise
on Andrew's face, the gentleman asked, "Good morning. Can I help you?"

Before Andrew could show that he knew the man who answered the door far too
well, Fox and Dana launched into their introductions, "Good morning sir,"
started Mulder. "My name is Agent Mulder and this," nodding to his partner,
"is Agent Scully; we're with the FBI." Both flashed their badges, and
Mulder continued, "we'd like to take a look any records you might have
regarding the children who have disappeared over the past few weeks."

The gentleman nodded, and motioned for them to come in. Mulder and Scully
walked into the small office, followed by Monica and then Andrew, who
leaned in and whispered to the gentleman, "Guilo? Is that you?"

Guilo nodded, and quickly whispered, "Yes. Just wanted to let you know
we're here." He winked at Andrew and smiled.

By this point, the two senior agents had looked over the office and turned
to wait for the clerk to lead them to the records room. Both agents noticed
the clerk wink at Andrew, then looked at each other to see if the other
person noticed the same thing. As they mentally filed the incident away for
future reference, Guilo motioned to them, "If you'll follow me, I'll show
you where we keep our student files." He led them to a small back room
lined with filing cabinets. He turned a light on and continued, "These are
all of the records for the children who are currently in each of our public
schools. I'll leave you to your work. If you need any help, there will
always be someone outside of this door who can help you." As Mulder,
Scully, and Monica nodded and turned to start looking for the appropriate
files, Guilo briefly touched Andrew's shoulder and whispered in his ear,
"Be sure to spend some time looking in the Hs." Guilo then quickly left the
room.

The second Guilo was out of sight, Monica pulled him over to the Jones
files she was looking at. Completely puzzled at this point, she asked,
"Andrew, who was that? He looked familiar to me, and I'm absolutely certain
that you two have met before, just from the look on your face as we were
walking in here."

Unable to wipe the smile from his face, Andrew replied, "You're familiar
with the stories of Ashton and Bacon's Corner?" Monica nodded, and Andrew
continued, "Well, you just met Guilo, second in command of Special Forces."

Monica's eyes widened, and she glanced over quickly at Mulder and Scully,
just to make sure they weren't eavesdropping. "He's here? In Hamelton?
Why?"

Andrew shrugged his shoulders. "Beats me. He said he was just here to let
me know that they were here." He stroked his chin a bit, deep in thought.
"He also suggested that I spend some time looking through the Hs..."
Wondering what that meant, he opened the H drawer.

Monica looked at him in wonder. [Looks like this is going to get more and
more interesting all the time.] She then went back to her appointed task of
looking for the files of MaryAnn and James Jones.

Andrew started looking through the Hs, and quickly found exactly what Guilo
knew he would find. In the front of the drawer were two small files,
obviously new, that each had one sheet of paper in them: an application for
permission to 'home-school' the child named on each file.

The files bore the names of Ruth and Josiah Harris.
He smiled, re-filed the two files, and then went to help his partner.

Fox stole a glance at the two junior agents, and muttered to himself, "Special
Forces? Guilo? What the hell is going on here?"

Myrtle's
6:45 p.m.

Finding those files took much longer than anyone might have anticipated.
Mark and Sharon McLintock's files were easy to find, but no one had any
idea that there were so many Joneses and Thomases in a town as small as
Hamelton. Add to that the fact that the files probably had not been cleaned
out in the past ten years, and many files were misfiled, and by the all of
the files had been tracked down, all four agents were tired, hot, sweaty,
and, having skipped lunch, very hungry. They all decided to go to Myrtle's
for an early dinner and go over the children's files together.

After Tess poured everyone their third round of after-dinner coffee, Dana
reviewed what they had so far. "All right, so as far as we know, here are
the similarities between the files. James Jones and Simon Thomas were all
in the same grade in school, as were MaryAnn Jones and Andrea Thomas. None
of them were in the same classes together, and all three sets of siblings
attended different schools. We only have sketchy records for Mark and
Sharon McLintock because they attended the local private Christian school.
The four children we have full records on seemed to do well in school,
getting all As for the most part. From the comments in the file, all of
their teachers had nothing but praise for these children, saying they were
all quiet, attentive, and well-behaved. I don't get it - it's like we're
looking at records for the Stepford children."

Monica looked puzzled, but Andrew quickly gave her a look that said, "I'll
explain later." Andrew, for the most part, had been quiet up until now.
Finding recent records for Ruth and Josiah Harris puzzled him. [What were
the Harris children doing in Hamelton? Maybe the fact that they're being
schooled at home has some bearing on this,] he thought.

The angel then realized where he had seen the two FBI agents before. [The
Omega Center!], he thought, [Do they know everything about what happened at
Bacon's Corner? They may not even remember the case; after all, it was a
while ago. Maybe...] "Do you think the first four might have learned
something in school that led to their disappearances?" he asked out loud to
the group.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other, then at Monica and Andrew. "It's
possible," stated Mulder. Scully tensed slightly, thinking that Mulder was
going to come out with some outrageous theory, but he said no more.

Andrew, too, was surprised, but he was more surprised that, with Mulder's
eidetic memory, the case didn't come immediately to his mind. [I guess they
didn't get very involved with Amber's side of the case,] he thought, [Maybe
I should mention it.] To the group, he said, "I followed a case a while ago
involving a little girl by the name of Amber Brandon. She was involved in a
lawsuit against a Christian School, something about them spanking her and
her mother deciding to sue for abuse. The case was eventually dropped, but
there might be something in the background to that case we can use here."

"What makes you say that?" asked Scully.

Andrew took a deep breath, knowing that Scully not going to take this very
well, even though it was the truth at the time. "The defense claimed that
Amber was demon-possessed."

End Chapter Two
Scully rolled her eyes at that statement. She would have expected such a
remark from Mulder, maybe even from Monica, but she was hoping Andrew had
a
little more sense. [I guess I was wrong,] groaned Scully.

She delivered her standard scientific argument. "Andrew, demon-possession
is a medieval blanket term that was used for everything from epilepsy to a
variety of mental illnesses. Whenever someone acted beyond the confines of
'normal', they were labeled as demon-possessed. You can't possibly
believe..."

Mulder had heard this type of argument from his partner a million times
before, but this time he couldn't be sure whether or not she had a point.
There just wasn't enough information yet. So he decided to call off this
argument for now. "Scully, wait a minute. Andrew, how do you think
demon-possession could come into play in this case?"

Scully looked at her partner for a minute, and saw the gears warming up in
his brain. She knew that when that happened, her best course of action was
to get out of the way until her 'spooky' partner was ready to come out and
pitch theories to her.

Andrew, for his part, was still trying to come to a connection with Bacon's
Corner himself. "I'm not quite sure yet--I just have a feeling that the
school's curriculum might have something to do with it." He pulled out four
copies of the grade school curricula for first grade and sixth grade that
Guilo had handed him on their way out of the Board of Ed offices. "I was
able to get a copy the curriculum that the first and sixth grades follow.
I'd like for myself and Monica to go over it tonight." Monica was about to
balk at the idea of splitting up into angel and non-angel teams, but Andrew
gave her a look that indicated that this was not his idea and she needed to
follow his lead.

Mulder nodded. "Good idea. I'd like to get some more background on this
Amber Brandon case you mentioned - I have some friends who can get me the
information. I'll talk to them tonight and see what they come up with.
Maybe they can even fax some of it to the hotel tonight." Knowing the Lone
Gunmen, he thought, they will be able to find more about the case than he
ever wanted to know. He continued, "After I talk to them, Scully and I will
work on the preliminary report detailing what we know so far."

That settled, they got up from the table and, after paying their bills,
separated for the evening.

Hamelton Motor Inn
Front Desk
9:00 p.m.

One thing Mulder hated to do was wait. Yet, he found out that, as an FBI
agent, three-fourths of his time was spent doing just that. Waiting on a
stakeout, waiting to get chewed out by Skinner, or, the worst one, waiting
for key information.

Waiting was what he was doing just now. It turns out that the Amber Brandon
case was a hot topic with Langley, who felt that the ACFA was really a
front for the ominous 'men in black'. He had plenty to say on the case,
particularly the "Finding the Real Me" curriculum that was taught in the
public school where Amber went before she went to the Christian school.
"New Age histrionics taught in the public schools and approved by major
school districts as an 'affirmation of self-esteem'," Langley had said.
"Frightening."

He got off the phone with them fifteen minutes ago, and Langley had
promised to fax him enough information on the case to get him started,
including pieces of the "Finding the Real Me" curriculum. What surprised
Mulder, however, was that Langley also promised to drive up by Thursday
morning with copies of everything he had on the case. "If you're dealing
with the guys who wrote this curriculum," Langley had said, "you'll need
all the help you can get."

The fax had just finished coming through, and, after making June promise
that she would give it to him exactly as it came off the machine (Langley
wanted him to pull it off page by page, but even he wasn't that paranoid),
he picked up the rest of the fax and quickly brought it to his room.

As he closed the door, Scully looked up from her laptop, where she was
typing her notes. "Anything interesting in the fax they sent you?"

"I don't know," replied Mulder, "I wanted to wait until I got back here to
really read it over." Knowing that meant he had already fully read the fax
and just wanted to 'read' it again with her around, Scully went back to her
notes.

Having come out of the fax machine backward, he saw the last page first.
The bottom of the last page held a note in Byers' handwriting, saying:

Mulder --

On a hunch, I checked out the two 'junior agents' who
are 'observing' you.

Found out some interesting things.

Call me back ASAP.

"Hmm," wondered Fox, "what's this about?" He dialed the number for the Lone
Gunman.

Frohicke answered the phone. "Lone Gunman."

"Turn the tape off Frohicke."

"It's off."

Mulder didn't hear Frohicke move, but he did hear the tape going in the
background. "Yeah right," he muttered, then decided to just get on with it.
"Can you put Byers on?"

Mulder heard some movement on the other line. "Hello?"

"It's me," replied Mulder, "What did you find?"

"Ah, Agent Mulder. Let me tell you something, our friends in the dark must
be getting sloppy. I went to check the records of your observers, and I
found out that outside of their biographies in the FBI personnel database,
these people have no other proof that they ever existed. No birth records
(fake or otherwise), no social security numbers, no drivers' licenses,
nothing. Their bios make them FBI for all intents and purposes, but that's
it."

Although Mulder had his suspicions about their junior counterparts, he
still wasn't quite prepared to hear the truth from someone else. Spies had
been sent to him before - even Scully had first been assigned to him to spy
on him. But, if the spy came direct from the consortium, the spies and
their records were usually much more complete, or at least much more
creative. Even Skinner, who won't look him in the eye when he's being
forced to send a new 'spy' down to him, seemed to have no problem with
these two. And these two have slipped up more times in the past twenty-four
hours than that black-lunged fool ever had in his life. "I don't think they
work with our men in black. Their men usually aren't this sloppy. Any ideas
as to who they might work for?"

"That's your department, G-man. Maybe you should ask them."

Mulder sighed. "All right. Just another day at the office, eh? Thanks for
the tip."

He could almost hear Byers half-smile over the phone lines. "Always glad to
be of service, Mulder."

Frohicke chimed in in the background, "For both you and your lovely
partner!"

Mulder couldn't help but laugh at that one. "Tell Langley I'll see him
tomorrow night. Until then, we'll work with what we've got so far. Thanks
again guys."

Byers signed off with, "Take care of yourself, Mulder."

Langley chimed in behind him, "And be careful!"

As Mulder hung up the phone, he turned to his partner. "Well, Scully, it
seems you were right. Whoever our 'observers' are, they're not straight out
of Quantico. In fact, I'll bet they probably don't even know where Quantico
is."

Scully raised an eyebrow in half-surprise. She had figured as much all
along. "Not FBI, Mulder? Then who are they? Any ideas?"

Mulder shook his head. "No. Their records are too sloppy for our
cigarette-smoking friend to have sent them. Even Skinner liked these two
too much for them to be after us. I guess we'll have to find out who they
are when they get here."

Scully nodded in agreement. As if on cue, Monica and Andrew walked in the
door.

"Hello," said Monica, "find anything interesting?"

"Actually, we did," replied Mulder. The suspicion was evident in his voice.

Andrew and Monica looked at each other on confusion. Mulder then continued,
"My friends got us the information on the Brandon case, and a couple of
other things."

"Like what?" asked Monica.

"Like we know you both are not FBI agents," replied Scully, "So we'd like
to know who you really are."

Monica looked stunned. [This was never supposed to happen,] she thought.
[Well, sometimes God has other plans.] She looked at Andrew, who was just
as stunned as she was.

Andrew asked her, "Do you want to explain it to them, or shall I?"

Monica looked at the two agents, who were primed and ready for an
explanation. "Do you think they'll believe us?"

Mulder replied, "I think we ought to be the judges of that."

Andrew sighed. [I don't know who's going to have a tougher time believing
this, Fox or Dana.] After trying to come up with a better explanation and
failing, he gave in and revealed the truth. "We are angels. We have been
sent by God to watch over the two of you and help you out on this
assignment. I suspect we may have other things to do here, but they have
not been revealed to us yet. So, in some ways, we're investigating this
case as much for ourselves as we are to help you out."

Mulder and Scully looked at Andrew in disbelief. Mulder, for his part,
wasn't sure whether to be shocked at the sheer insanity of what he just
heard or laugh out loud that such an obviously intelligent guy could be
so self-deluded. This was something that was a little hard to swallow,
even for him. "You're angels?"

Andrew looked at the agents, and it seemed like he was looking both agents
in the eye at the same time. He glanced back at Monica, who stepped forward
until she was just behind Andrew. As she touched his shoulder, the angels
started to glow, almost as if a light were shining gently on them and
another was shining gently from behind them. Monica's standard FBI dark
blue suit was changed into a short-sleeved, ankle-length white dress that
reflected the light around them, enhancing her glow. Her hair was released
from the French Twist she wore it in to flow long and free down to her
waist. Andrew's dark suit had turned completely white, and a long white
scarf hung around his neck. His hair even seemed to grow a couple of
inches, to lightly touch his shoulders. Mulder and Scully both gasped at
the sudden changes in the room and their two 'observers'. As if on cue,
Monica's pet dove flew into the room and contentedly perched on her
shoulder.

Satisfied that they might not be so skeptical now, Andrew continued.
"Angels have been protecting you on all your assignments, though you may
not have always seen them."

Scully looked at the two [Could it really be?] angels in confusion, tears
welling up in her eyes. If two angels were really standing before her, then
she had some questions she needed answers to. "Then why was I taken? Why
was Melissa murdered? She wasn't a part of what we do."

Andrew looked toward Scully, and the love in his eyes and the kindness
in his voice started to set her at peace immediately. "I don't know why
you were taken, but you know what an impact it has made on your life.
His quest,"nodding over to Mulder, "is now yours as well, isn't it?
That was the way it was supposed to be all along. Even then, though,
we were watching. Remember Nurse Owens?"

At that point, Mulder nodded. Scully did not remember much about the nurse
who watched over her in the hospital, encouraging her, but Mulder,
who never left his partner's bedside, found her hard to forget. Mulder had
to confirm what was going through his mind. "She was one of you?"

Monica nodded and smiled. This wasn't nearly as hard as he thought it was
going to be. As usual, God made sure they had the words to make sure these
two believed. Andrew replied, "Yes, she was. As for Melissa, well, Fox
probably explained it to you as well as I've ever heard it. It was her
fate."

When Scully heard that, he knew Andrew must be telling the truth. No other
human being had heard the conversation in Melissa's hospital room, except
for Mulder. Neither of them had said anything to anyone else about that
conversation -- it was one of their most private moments, and something
that each had felt they should keep for themselves. Yet Andrew knew every
word of their conversation. "You were there, weren't you?"

Dana watched him closely as he nodded, replying, "I helped your sister
cross over. She is an intriguing woman."

At that, Scully had more questions. "What do you mean, cross over?"

Andrew replied, "Every human has an angel present when they die. That is my
job."

Mulder steadied himself, and took a deep breath. He was afraid to ask the
question on his mind, but he also felt he had to know. He might not get
another chance. "My sister? Do you know--"

Andrew gave him the answer he was looking for. "She is not with us, Fox.
Keep looking--one day you will find her."

Scully then put two and two together. "Wait a minute, if your job is to
escort someone when they die, then is one of us going to--?" She couldn't
stand to finish the thoughts running through her mind.

Andrew decided at that point to cut the 'light show', as he sometimes
called it. Immediately, both angels returned to their 'normal' appearance,
and Monica's dove flew away, disappearing quietly as she rose from the
angel's shoulder. "No. As far as I know, I'm not here to do that this time.
Why don't we all sit down? There are a few things we need to discuss, and
they are directly related to this case."

Monica pulled in the chairs from the adjacent hotel room and the two agents
and two angels sat down at the table by the window. Andrew then began to
loosen his tie and tell Mulder and Scully what little he knew about
the case so far.

"When we first got off the plane, and Monica was feeling sick, it wasn't,
obviously, a human sickness. It is a feeling an angel can get sometimes in
the presence of strong amounts of evil. Monica hasn't felt it before, but I
have. There is a presence in this area that, for lack of a better word,
reeks of evil. I believe that presence is a demon that is at least
partially responsible for the killings."

[A demon?] thought Scully. [Makes sense. If I'm sitting here, speaking to
two angels, then there must be a demon out there killing people. I have got
to take a vacation after this case.]

Mulder, for his part, seemed to be taking all this in stride. After he was
able to accept that he was dealing with at least one supernatural force,
working from that base premise was simple. "Do you have any idea where this
demon might be?"

Andrew shook his head, and replied, "Unfortunately, it's not that
easy-believe me, I wish it were. A demon will usually work through a
person, planting thoughts in their head. If we're working with one killer,
I can practically guarantee that the demon will be working through him."

Mulder chuckled lightly at Andrew telling him to believe him, then shook
his head. "I don't think we're working with a single killer. The distances
between the murder sites combined with the timing of the killings lead me
to believe that we're working with at least two people who are in contact
with each other somehow." Scully nodded in agreement.

Andrew frowned. "Then he could be anywhere. Demons are not limited by the
same constraints as humans. They can move faster than the speed of light,
to the point where they could almost be in two places at once."

Scully spoke everything that was going through her mind. "So our killer is
a demon who moves at the speed of light who kills indiscriminately? Then
why are we" pointing to herself and Mulder, "here?"

Andrew explained, "There's more to it than that. For one thing, I doubt
he's killing indiscriminately. Although we haven't found it yet, there has
to be a connection between the victims. It's almost impossible for a demon
to kill a human directly unless it's out of extreme desperation. More than
likely, he is working through one or more human counterparts. Since you two
are used to handling situations outside the realm of normal human
experience, these facts would make you perfect candidates for finding out
how he's working, who he's working through, and how to stop them."

"So where do we go from here?" asked Mulder.

Andrew addressed the group. "Dana was right on target when she came up with
the idea of investigating a connection between the missing children. I
definitely believe that the connection between the victims lies with the
children, and that it might have something to do with what they're teaching
in the schools in this area. Mulder, that's why I brought up the Amber
Brandon case. I was part of a group of angels guiding the people
surrounding the case, and that was the last time I felt an evil as strong
as the one that is at work here. You did say that you got the information
from your friends, right?"

Mulder agreed, "Right. And I also got an earful about a program called the
'Finding the Real Me' curriculum that Amber was being taught. Scully," he
turned to his partner, "The guys got so nervous when I asked them about
that case that they were only comfortable with faxing me a small amount of
the information they had. Langley is driving up here tomorrow with the rest
of it."

Now back on the case, Scully was much more comfortable, but this made her
eyes widen in surprise. "Langley felt the need to drive here from DC with
this information? Mulder, do you realize how big this has to be for him to
do that?"

Mulder nodded. Andrew also nodded in agreement. "Mulder, did your friends
tell you who wrote the original 'Finding the Real Me' curriculum?"

Mulder grabbed the papers on the table and started looking through the fax
pages that the Gunmen had sent over. "He sent me the title page to the
curriculum. It's around here somewhere...here it is. Scully, take a look at
this." He took one of the pages and moved it between himself and Scully so
she could get a better look. "It says here that the curriculum was written
by a Sally Beth Roe for a group called the Omega Center."

Scully looked at the page in front of her. "The Omega Center...Mulder,
didn't we have a case involving them once?"

Mulder nodded, his eidetic memory flipping back to the details of the case.
"Yeah, it was that guy Santinelli. He seemed to have his hands in
everything, as I recall, including getting a Satanic cult that he often
hired out as hitmen. Had some college professor killed, and tried to kill
Roe off too, right?" Andrew nodded. Mulder continued, "I remember going to
Massachusetts to arrest him. The place was supposed to be some sort of New
Age retreat, but it had a really strange feel to it. Andrew, is that who
we're dealing with? Is the Omega Center back again?"

Andrew shrugged. "I honestly don't know. Monica and I did look at the
district's curriculum, and there was nothing unusual listed as part of
their studies. However, that doesn't mean that they're not being totally
truthful with their records. If we're not dealing with the Omega Center,
though, we're dealing with someone very similar and just as evil. We do
have someone in town who can help us, though."

Mulder and Scully looked at him, completely surprised. "Who?"

Andrew replied, "Tom Harris. He just recently moved here. I found
applications for permission to home-school his children in the Board of
Education files."

Mulder remembered the name from when he scanned the papers he got that
evening. He also remembered the scenes he saw and the things he heard from
the Board of Ed offices that afternoon. "Harris was one of the defendants
in the Brandon case, right?" Andrew nodded.

Scully thought about the names of the missing children, and caught a detail
that her partner, she thought, had missed. She asked Andrew, "Wait a
minute. We were all looking at files under the victims' names. Harris
begins with an H. How did you know to look there?"

Mulder continued Scully's train of thought. "My guess would be that the
clerk at the Board of Education offices doesn't really work there, right?"

Andrew and Monica looked at each other in silent communication. The angels
both realized they had to tell them, they couldn't lie and the agents knew
about angels already. Monica replied, "We are not the only angels in town.
There are others, although we aren't really sure how many."

Dana asked, "Well, how many do you know of?"

Monica replied, "Two. The gentleman who helped us at the Board of Education
offices? You're right, he's not a regular employee. He's the one who tipped
Andrew off to look at the Hs."

Mulder turned to Andrew and confirmed everything he saw and heard that
afternoon, "You said something about him being in Special Forces.
I take it you two know each other?"

Andrew replied, "Let's just say we knew each other from the Brandon case.
Long story."

Scully cut in before Mulder could force Andrew to continue. "And the other
angel?"

Monica sighed. "Okay, but you have to promise not to let on that you know
who she is, because if she finds out that I told you, she'll throttle me."
Mulder and Scully both nodded. "Tess, our waitress at the diner? She's my
supervisor."

The two agents couldn't help but giggle a little. "Don't worry, Monica,"
replied Scully, "if there's one thing we're very familiar with, it's
getting 'throttled' by your supervisor. We'll keep your secret for as
long as we can."

"Although in this case," chimed in Mulder, "secrets don't seem to be
getting kept for very long."

At that remark, everyone smiled and chuckled a little in agreement.

Scully yawned, and looked at her watch. It was almost midnight. She then
announced, "Well, I don't know about 'angels', but we humans have to get
some sleep sometime. Goodnight, everyone. I'll see you in the morning for
breakfast?"

Mulder looked at his partner, and his overprotective concern for her
kicked in at full speed. The dark circles under her eyes gave a good
indication that the past couple of days had been quite long for her.
"Why don't we make breakfast at 8:00 tomorrow, if that's all right
with everyone?"

Andrew and Monica agreed. Andrew commented, "Sounds good. Maybe then
you
could get to breakfast on time, Mulder?"

Mulder had the urge to kick Andrew for that comment, but he suppressed it.
To make sure he avoided responding to it, he simply turned and said,
"Goodnight, Scully," giving her the chance she needed to return to her
adjoining room and get some sleep. When Monica followed her, Scully turned
around, surprised, and asked her, "Do angels really need sleep?"

Monica smiled. "Days like this make me crave sleep more than anything." She
then turned and announced to the men, "Goodnight, gentlemen. We'll see you
in the morning."

Outside the Inn, a small black shadow crept across the parking lot. He was
scared to death, but he saw the burst of heavenly light and felt a little
too curious for his own good. What he saw, however, intrigued and concerned
him. "Two angels and two humans traveling together?" he asked himself, "And
the angels revealed themselves to the humans? I must inform my master of
this." He then flew off to the south.

End Chapter Three
Hamelton Motor Inn
Wednesday, March 10
6:00 a.m.

Mulder smiled, and slowly woke up from his favorite dream. A bit dazed and
disappointed, particularly when he saw who was his companion in the room
(or rather, in fact, that it wasn't his partner), he shrugged off the last
of his dream, and started to wonder why he had slept (relatively)
peacefully the past two nights. Then he remembered the events of the
previous evening, and started to wonder if there was a connection . [I'm
going to have to ask Andrew about that sometime before this case is over,]
though Mulder. He sat up, climbed out of bed and started to pull on his
running clothes when he looked to the other bed and realized that his
roommate was, indeed, awake, although just barely.

"Morning, Andrew."

"grrrmph" was all Andrew could reply at the moment.

"I'm surprised, Andrew," commented Mulder, "Angels aren't morning people?"

Andrew sat up, squinted, and slowly opened his eyes. "Actually, they are
for the most part. I'm the only one I know of with this problem. Does it
ever get any better?"

Mulder chuckled a little in sympathy. "Not according to my partner."

"So where are you going?"

"Running. I'll be back in time for breakfast."

"Okay, give me a minute to get ready..." he stopped when Mulder looked a bit
uncomfortable. "You don't mind, do you?"

Mulder pondered the concept of a guardian angel for a running partner for
about half a second and then replied, "No, of course not. In fact, it will
give me the chance to get answers to all the questions I have going through
my head."

[Couldn't agree more,] thought Andrew. He quickly changed into running
clothes, and they were out the door in a few minutes.

Along I-35 North
6:15 a.m.

They had been running for about fifteen minutes, and neither the angel nor
the man had said a word. It had been so long since anyone other than Scully
had gone jogging with him that Mulder had forgotten he usually jogged at a
pace that left him in no mood for conversation -- Scully usually didn't
talk because she was too preoccupied with keeping up with her partner's
long legs. Andrew, however, had no problem keeping up with him. In
fact, the angel even tried to push him a little. Of course, this fired up a
competitive streak from Mulder, and the two had started to race. Finally, Mulder
collapsed to the ground, exhausted. "Okay, okay, you win."

Andrew sat down next to his running partner and waited for Mulder to
catch his breath, using the opportunity to take in the sights from where
they were resting. They had run far enough away from town that they
were well into the hills, and the hill they were resting on had a spectacular
view of Hamelton and the surrounding countryside. He nudged Mulder
to convince him to sit up and take a look at the view around him.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"

Mulder nodded. He had to admit, it was pretty nice up here. He had finally
gotten his breathing down to a point where he was able to talk. "You're a
pretty good runner, Andrew."

Andrew decided to take the complement and leave it at that. "Thanks. How
did you sleep last night?" He knew that Mulder was constantly plagued by
nightmares about his sister's abduction and his partner's disappearance.

Having the perfect lead in to getting his questions answered, Mulder replied,
"Pretty good, actually. In fact, I've slept pretty well the past two
nights. That couldn't be a result of having you around, could it?"

Andrew shrugged. "Probably is. There are only a couple of ways that a human
can be protected from a demon. One is when there is an angel working in close
proximity who is not blocked by orders not to protect a person from attacks."

"And you think these demons are what cause my sleeping problems?"

Andrew nodded. "Anytime that you're tormented by a persistent, nagging
train of negative thought, an emotion like guilt, or fear, or something
like nightmares, a demon can often be one of the root causes, if not the
root cause."

Andrew watched Mulder, and saw that he understood, and connected that with
his
own guilt, as well as the nightmares. Mulder then asked, "And what's the
second way?"

Andrew looked at him quizzically. "Mmmph?"

Mulder recited back what the angel had said. "There are a couple of ways
humans can be protected by demons?"

"Oh," Andrew mouthed, without saying it. [It should be interesting how he
responds to this one,] he thought. "The other way is through an increase
in what we call the 'prayer cover'."

Mulder had a feeling he knew what that meant, but he wanted Andrew to
explain
it anyway. "Prayer cover?"

Andrew nodded slightly. "When someone prays for a particular person, place
or situation, our 'prayer cover' over that area grows. In a way, it
strengthens angels almost in a physical sense, giving us the ability to
make sure that a particular situation works out for the long-term good."

"So someone's praying for me and Scully? That's part of the reason you're
here?" [It's probably Scully's mom,] thought Mulder.

"Part of it. Part of it is also because of your work, and how important God
considers it."

[This should be interesting,] thought Mulder. He nodded for Andrew to
continue. "Go on."

"Well, God has a hand in every time someone gets elected to public office,
because he believes that everyone who wins an election, inherits a throne,
or is appointed to a position of power has the potential to do tremendous
amounts of good for his people. Whether or not they do is another matter.
These dark forces that you and your partner deal with every day, however,
are different. As you know, they're pure evil, bent only on obtaining
absolute power and accomplishing their own agenda. God did not want them to
have any power, let alone stay in power, and does not want them to succeed.
That's why you discovered the X-Files, and that's why Scully was assigned to
you as a partner. Together, you are the two most formidable adversaries
they've ever had. That's why they have attacked you so many times, and
that's why you've always come out, if not on top, at least alive."

"Because God is protecting us so we can keep fighting?"

"Yep." Andrew nodded.

This was a little much for Mulder to handle. He always thought that God hated
him, and he had often blamed God for taking Samantha away and for
everything his parents put him through growing up. And now, not only did he
find out God allowed that to happen for a reason, he finds out that God was
orchestrating everything in the creation and survival of the X-Files? That
God himself considered his work important and valuable? That he and Scully
were players in some sort of cosmic spiritual battle between good and evil?
He couldn't look Andrew in the eye anymore, so he looked down at the town
of Hamelton below them. He definitely needed to change the subject. "How's
Hamelton's prayer cover?"

"From what I can tell," replied Andrew, "it's pretty weak. Since my main
assignment is you two though, I can't get more than a vague impression
behind your prayer cover, which is pretty strong."

"So what happens if we get in too far over our heads with weak prayer
cover?"

"Well, what happens when you take off on a hunch and leave Scully behind?"

His mind quickly flipped through all of the times he did that, and he
blushed when he realized the result. "Most of the time, I put my life in
danger."

"Would your life have been in danger if Scully had been there?"

"Most of the time, probably not."

"Well, there's your answer. Your prayer cover is for you and Scully
together. Those who are praying for you, are praying for you as a team. So,
when you're working together on a case, whether you're physically together,
mentally together, or emotionally together, your prayer cover is strong.
Those are the times when you start to make real progress toward finding out
the truth." Mulder nodded in recognition.

Andrew continued, "When one of you leaves the other behind, however, your
prayer cover weakens considerably. At those times, you are most vulnerable to
the forces that oppose you, both the physical ones and the spiritual ones. When
prayer cover is weak, both angels and humans are considerably more vulnerable
to attack. Prayer is a pretty powerful shield."

"So how do we strengthen Hamelton's 'prayer cover'?"

Andrew paused in thought for a moment. "I don't know. From what I can tell,
that's really not our job here. However, I have a feeling Tom Harris has
something to do with it."

"The man from the Brandon case?"

Andrew agreed, "Yes. He's a minister, and his faith is strong. What little
prayer cover Hamelton has, he has played a large part in providing.
Bringing him in on this case should help encourage him to pull the remnant
together."

Confused, Mulder asked, "The remnant?"

Andrew raised an eyebrow for a second, then realized Mulder had no idea what
a
remnant was. "In every town, there is a group of people with strong faith
who can provide the prayer cover a town needs in a time of crisis.
Sometimes it's a church, sometimes it's part of a church, sometimes it's
just a small prayer group. Many times, though, the 'remnant' as we call
them, don't even know each other. It takes something like this and someone
like Tom Harris to pull them together. That's what he did in Bacon's
Corner."

"And that's what you believe he will do here?"

Andrew smiled, "Of that I have no doubt. I also believe that he'll be able
to give us some insight into how to get our hands on what the school's
curriculum really is. That's why we need to get a hold of him first thing
today."

Mulder looked at his watch. It was almost 7:00, and it would take at least 25
minutes from where they were to get back to the Inn. "We better get going
if we're going to get back in time for breakfast."

Andrew looked at the watch on his wrist, and nodded in agreement. However,
he was more concerned with how Mulder was taking this. It was a lot for a
human to get hit with all at once. "How're you doing?"

Mulder was tempted to get offended by that comment, but he looked at Andrew,
and one look in Andrew's eyes told him that Andrew meant that comment with
all sincerity. "I'm fine. A little overwhelmed, but I've had to fight
things that were a lot tougher to believe. Give me a little time."

Andrew smiled, confident that Mulder was telling him the truth, and they
quietly jogged back to the Inn.

Neither man turned back to notice the large rock they were leaning against,
nor did they notice the two large men dressed in khakis who were sitting
behind that rock. The strong, dark-haired man turned to his blond-haired
friend and asked, "Well, what do you think of that conversation, Captain?"

Captain Tal pursed his lips in thought for a brief second, then smiled. "I
think our enemy has much more to be concerned about that he could have ever
bargained for. Has Mercurius received his assignment for the morning?"

Guilo nodded, "Yes, he is at Sally Roe's right now, making sure she gets to
Tom Harris' house in plenty of time. He will be ready."

Tal asked, "And what of the remnant? Are they coming together?"

At this, Guilo smiled. "They have been meeting together for months now,
though they don't know it yet. All that needs to happen is for their hearts
to get a gentle push in the right direction."

The two angels stood up from the spot where they had been sitting and Tal
placed a hand on his old friend's shoulder. "That they will get, my friend,
and soon. Let's go."

They flew off the fight their respective battles for the day.

Myrtle's
7:45 a.m.

It was a pretty slow morning, as things went. Myrtle, as always, was
behind the counter, taking the opportunity with the rare lack of business
to straighten things up and enjoy the conversation between the
few regulars the diner had. Myrtle's had become a morning ritual for them,
as routine as brushing their teeth. Each of the regulars always got the
same thing every morning, and Myrtle always charged them the same prices
every day. When the killings started in town, the diner was full almost
all the time, so Myrtle didn't get the chance to talk to the regulars like
she always did. Now, though, was the perfect time to catch up.

She walked down to the seat by the register to give Sheriff Materian his
third cup of coffee. This was a welcome break for him, too. Handing those
murder cases over to the FBI was a relief to him. Having some sort
of crazed killer on the loose in his town was more than he particularly
cared to deal with. Although he made sure not to show it, the killings
scared him just as much as everybody else. He ran a hand through his dark,
slightly graying hair, adjusted his silver wire-rimmed glasses, and thanked
Myrtle for the coffee. He came to Myrtle's because she made the best eggs
in four counties, never charged him for the three refills he always got on
his coffee, and didn't give him a hard time about the caffeine and
cholesterol like his wife did. As he leaned on the countertop and looked up
the short line of seats, he saw his old friend George McLintock nursing a
very cold bowl of oatmeal. It had only been a couple of weeks since Bill
and Jessie had been killed, and he still hadn't quite gotten over the
shock. "Hey George," called the sheriff, "how're you doing?"

George looked over at his old high school buddy and sighed. He was angry,
mad as hell that he was never going to see his boy again, and even madder
that whoever it was who killed his boy had the nerve to take his grandkids
away from him too. When Mary Ellen died a couple of years back, he still
had family in town to help him through it. Now he didn't have anybody. [Oh
Mary,] he thought, [I miss you so much.] Then he realized that Jeff had
said something to him. "Oh hi Jeff," replied George, "any word on the
kids?"

"Not yet. But I promise, we will find them. I turned the case over to a
team of feds yesterday. If anyone can get us a lead, they can."

"I saw them come in here yesterday," chimed in Myrtle, "they look like good
people."

"Yeah," agreed the sheriff, "I really get the feeling that they won't rest,
let alone leave until we find out what happened to the kids and their
parents."

"I think you're right," added Marie, "I saw them at the Board of Ed office
the other day when I came back from lunch. They were still there when I
left. Looks like they were looking for something important in the school
records." Marie was one of two secretaries for the school district, and the
only female regular at Myrtle's.

"You think that the schools might have something to do with it?" asked
Myrtle, pouring Marie a cup of coffee.

"Lord, I hope not!" she exclaimed. "Can you imagine?"

George hung his head and agreed, "I don't even want to think about it. I
just want my grandkids back."

Marie put a hand on George's shoulder in sympathy. "Me too, George. Me
too."

Myrtle nodded, and raised her eyebrows, tilting her head toward the door.
Everyone knew that meant the federal agents, subject of their conversation,
were coming in, and they had best change the subject. The door opened, and
the two agents and two angels walked in. Myrtle called over to Tess, who
was refilling the salt shakers last time she checked, but Tess was way
ahead of her, already heading over to the corner booth with menus and
coffee. The elder angel noticed that although the four of them were all
business, just as they were yesterday, there was something different about
them -- a sense of camaraderie that she didn't get from them yesterday. It
was like the walls that had been between them yesterday came crashing
down overnight. It intrigued her, but she decided to do nothing until she
knew more.

The foursome at the table, for their part, were in quite an interesting
situation. All four were frustrated that yesterday provided very few
concrete leads in the case, yet amazed from the things that yesterday (and
for Mulder, this morning) revealed. No one seemed to have a clear indication
of why they were there, yet they all knew that they had to continue, before
someone else died. One thing was certain to all, however: Andrew was no
longer there to purely 'observe' or 'back up' anyone; his experiences and
insights from Bacon's Corner provided the few leads they did have. It was
he who spoke up first: "So what's our plan for today?"

"I would like to go over the autopsy reports on the six victims from here
in Hamelton, especially since I didn't get a chance to look at them
yesterday," replied Scully.

"Good idea," said Mulder. "If this demon is working through a particular
person or persons, the autopsy results may provide some clues as to how he
picks who he works through." Scully was about to chastise him for working
based off of a far-off assumption, but then the events of the previous
night came flooding back into her memory, and she reluctantly nodded. Mulder
continued, "There are also three other things I would like to see us do
today: First, I would like to take a look at each crime scene. There might
be some subtle clue that the local police might have missed in their
investigation. I think we should all be there and do that as a team: one of
us might pick up on something the other three might not have recognized.
Second, I think we should talk to some of the other parents at the school,
and maybe observe what's going on in each classroom. If the children are a
link in this case, maybe someone will be willing to admit their child is
acting a little strange."

At this, the other three agreed. Monica chimed in, "If we split up for
that, after we take a look at the crime scenes, we will be able to cover
more ground."

All were in agreement on this point too. Andrew then asked, "What's the
third thing?"

Mulder replied, "I agree with you, Andrew, that we need to talk to Tom Harris
as soon as possible."

[Agree with Andrew?] thought Scully, [What's he talking about?]

Unnoticed by the agents, two heads at the counter popped up when they
overheard what Mulder had said.

One was a young man, thirty-eight years old, although he could easily pass
for someone in his late twenties. He was another regular at Myrtle's: new
in town, he always came in for a cup of coffee and an english muffin before
getting home to start his children's lessons. He was a friendly sort, what
most people call a 'people person'; he wanted to make friends with the
people in this town, whom he liked and who liked him. Myrtle's gave him
that opportunity. Very few people knew where he was moving when he left
Bacon's Corner, so he was surprised that an out-of-towner would be looking
for him. He was even more surprised when that out-of-towner was an FBI
agent. [I wonder why they want to talk to me,] he thought, [maybe I
should head them off at the pass.] He walked over, and was quickly noticed
by everyone at the table. "Excuse me, but I couldn't help but overhear.
You're the FBI agents looking for those missing children, is that right?"
All four at the table nodded.

"I believe you're looking for me. My name is Tom Harris."

Mulder couldn't believe their luck. No one had any idea how to get a hold of
Harris, and he knew he would have a real hard time convincing Scully that
all four of them should do this interview together. He looked over at
Andrew, who was doing everything he could to keep from grinning like an
idiot. [I guess it's true what they say,] thought Mulder, [God works in
mysterious ways.] Andrew extended a hand out to Tom, who shook it warmly.
"Good to meet you, Mr. Harris. Would you like to pull up a chair and join
us for breakfast?"

Having only gotten there a few minutes before the agents, he had only taken
coffee himself, so he readily agreed to the offer. He went over to a nearby
table, grabbed a chair, and pulled it up to their table. He then motioned
to Myrtle to make sure to bring his breakfast and the check over to the
table instead of the counter before sitting down. "I can't stay long,
ladies, gentlemen. I have to get home to my children soon."

Mulder nodded, and agreed. "That's quite all right, Mr. Harris. I'm Agent
Mulder
Mulder, this is my partner Dana Scully, Andrew Wesson, and Monica Smith.
We
just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to ask you a couple of
questions about Amber Brandon."

Tom drew a deep breath and sighed. That name brought back a lot of painful
memories for him. "You'll have to forgive me. I almost lost custody of my
own children because of the things that happened to that child. It's still
hard for me to talk about sometimes."

Scully leaned forward, elbows on the table, and quietly asked the next
question. "What exactly happened, Mr. Harris?"

Tom scooted his chair a little closer to the table, and folded his hands
together for a second, as if quickly praying for the strength to be
completely open with what he had to say. He then began his story:

"I was the pastor of the Good Shepherd Community Church in Bacon's Corner,
as I'm sure you know. I also ran their small elementary school, where they
taught up to fourth grade. Amber came into our school after being in the
class of a Mrs. Brewer in the elementary school. Several weeks after she
came to the school, she started teaching the other children relaxation
techniques, that, according to her, she had learned in Mrs. Brewer's class.
She said she liked the exercises because they made you feel better and you
met special friends, 'imaginary guide' she called them. Her 'imaginary
guide' was a pony named Amethyst. Several times, she would come back from
recess not as herself, but as Amethyst. At first the behavior was only
mildly disruptive, and I dealt with it using our standard procedures,
including spanking. However, when at one point she became not only
disruptive, but hostile, violent and blasphemous. She cursed more in five
minutes than I've seen many 'sailors' curse in days. The other children
were literally terrified of her. At that point, I believed that Amber was
possessed by a demon-this was not the personality of a small child."

He looked at the faces of the four people in front of him. Whenever he told
this story, by this point, most people looked at him like he was either a
child molester or a complete lunatic. These four, however, continued to
look at him with all seriousness. By this time Myrtle had brought over his
english muffin, and he took a bite out of it as he quickly studied the
faces of the other people at the table. He could have sworn that the men
were paying much closer attention than the women, particularly the
redheaded Agent Scully. The men, particularly that Mulder fellow, looked
like they not only believed him, but that this was something essential that
they needed to know. Mulder even urged him to continue from that point,
"Go on, Mr. Harris. What happened then? What did you do?'

Tom took another deep breath, and continued with his story. "I attempted to
exorcise the demon, and for a while there, I thought it had really left.
That's when my own personal nightmare began."

Her curiosity now piqued, Scully repeated the last part of what Tom had said,
"Your own personal nightmare?"

Tom continued, "Yes, apparently Amber told her mother about what had
happened. At first, her mother had no problems with the steps that were
taken. After a visit by the ACFA, however, she seemed to see things
differently. I was soon defending my actions in court not only to save the
school from closing, but to regain the custody of my children as well.
After the indictments against The Omega Center and Amethyst's brief
appearance in court, however, the case was quickly dropped."

Andrew was curious as to the circumstances that brought Tom to Hamelton, so
he asked, "After the trial, why did you leave Bacon's Corner?"

Tom replied, "Are you familiar with the 'Finding the Real Me' curriculum
that was at the center of the controversy?" At this, all at the table
nodded. Tom continued, "Well, during the trial, I had started receiving
letters from Sally Roe, and although I was never able to respond back to
them, she had apparently decided to fight against the people who she had
previously worked for. Her letters contributed evidence that was vital to
our case. However, those letters were also deeply personal, and by the time
I had finally met her, I felt like I had known her for some time. We
started talking, and then we started to spend time together--strictly as
friends, mind you. Her past had started to spread rumors around town,
though, and she couldn't stay in Bacon's Corner for very long after the
trial was over. When she moved, I decided I wanted to continue to get to
know her better, so I bought a house here in Hamelton. She's watching my
children right now, which is why I have to get home, so she can get to work
on time. If you'll excuse me--"

As Tom got up, the four agents got up to briefly shake hands with the young
minister. Andrew asked, "Would it be all right if we took down your address
and phone number? It looks like your experiences might be helpful to the
case we're working on."

Tom gave them his address and number, then added, "Why don't I give you
Sally's number as well? I'm sure she won't mind talking to you, and if I've
been a help to you, I'm sure she could give you even more insights."

Mulder added, "That's an excellent idea, thank you." As he took down Sally
Roe's telephone numbers, he pulled out a business card and added his and
his partner's cellular phone numbers on the back. "Here's my card. If you
can think of anything that might be helpful to our case, please don't
hesitate to call. My cellular number as well as Agent Scully's is on the
back of the card."

Tom replied, "I'm sure we will be in touch. Ladies, gentlemen, I must be
going." He put down some money for Myrtle to pick up, and headed out the
door. Before the door shut behind him, though, he turned back to the agents
and quickly added, "I've been praying for you to find those children. I
know this will all work out for the best."

Both Andrew and Mulder smiled, a source of great confusion for Scully. Mulder
replied, "Thank you."

As Tom left the diner, Tess also saw the smile on Mulder's face. Knowing Agent
Mulder's background the way she did, she was definitely surprised to see
him smile like that at the concept of someone praying for him. Their
breakfast orders were ready, and that gave her the perfect opportunity to
go over to the table and find out what was going on. She gave each person
their orders, looking briefly at both Monica and Andrew. The look in her
eyes told the two angels that she needed to know what was going on,
immediately. As she left, Monica and Andrew quickly started to excuse
themselves, briefly tilting their heads toward the waitress who had just
left.

Mulder and Scully both saw and quickly recognized the look on Tess' face. It
was
the "In my office, NOW!" look that they thought Skinner held the copyright
on. They both thought simultaneously, [Must be something you learn
whenever people start working for you.] Mulder said to the two angels, "Go
on. We have some things to discuss ourselves." Again Scully looked at him
curiously, but he dismissed it. He continued, "We both know how it is to
deal with a tough supervisor. Good Luck."

As the two angels went off to face their bewildered supervisor, Scully turned
to her partner and asked, "Okay, so what's going on?"

Mulder looked at her, puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"I think you know what I mean, Mulder. What's going on with you and Andrew?
And why were you so 'pleased' when you found out someone is praying for
us?"

Mulder looked at her, and wondered what was going through her head. He knew
that Scully had been raised Catholic and lapsed, so the concepts of God,
angels, demons, and prayer were not new to her, but her scientific mind was
probably still a bit bewildered by having all of these things laid right
out in front of her in a span of less than twelve hours. He told Scully
everything that had happened during his run with Andrew that morning. When
she didn't have a response, Mulder grew concerned. "Scully? Are you OK?"

She didn't respond. [Not even "I'm fine, Mulder."?] thought Mulder. He
encouraged her, "What do you make of all this?"

"I really don't know what to make of it, Mulder," replied Scully. Her hand
found its way to the gold cross that almost always hung around her neck. "I
always thought I believed in things like God and angels - maybe because I
grew up hearing about them. It's a little disturbing, though, when you're
standing face to face with someone who claims to be an angel."

[Claims to be?] thought Mulder. "Scully, after everything that happened last
night, after everything Tom Harris just told us, you mean to tell me that
you don't believe that these two really are angels?"

"I never said that," replied Scully. [But then what do I believe?]

End Chapter Four
The air was still cool from the early spring morning, and Monica was
wishing she had her trenchcoat with her. The fact that she was given no time
to get it when Tess hustled them out of the restaurant made it clear to her
that Tess was not happy with what was going on.

She and Andrew both fidgeted uncomfortably as Tess stood in front of them
and spoke her mind. "Usually, I don't have a problem getting information
from the two of you when we're on an assignment. In fact, Monica, most of
the time I have a hard time getting you to make your own decisions on an
assignment. However, this time, not only do you two seem to be making most
of your own decisions, I don't seem to be hearing any more about what's
happening here than the regulars at the diner! I have no idea what to make of it.
Now will one of you tell me exactly what is going on here?"

Monica looked at Andrew, and decided that, however uncomfortable this was
going to be, she best just spit it out. "Mulder and Scully found out that
we weren't humans."

Tess sighed. Somehow she expected that. "And what did you tell them?"

"The truth, of course," replied Monica.

Tess sat down on the restaurant steps and massaged her temples. Normally,
they would never reveal their identity this early in an assignment. There
must be a reason why they needed to stay on this assignment as both humans
and angels. "Could someone tell me _why_ you were compelled to tell them
who you were this early on?"

[Mulder was right,] thought Andrew, [no use keeping secrets.] He asked
Tess, "Did you feel anything different when you approached this town?"

Tess nodded and replied, "I felt really sick -- like something was strangling
every ounce of strength from my body. Can I assume you know what
caused that?"

Andrew nodded. "There is a demon working in this town that is nothing like
the two of you have probably ever seen before. From what I can tell, that's
the reason I'm here."

Tess asked him, "So how do you know what it was?"

Andrew replied, "Before I was assigned to you as a case worker, I was in
Special Forces. The last time I felt a demon this strong was at Bacon's
Corner."

At that point, Tess did something that Andrew never saw her to in all the
years they had known each other: her eyes bugged out and her jaw dropped
practically to the ground. [So that's why I never heard any stories about
his days before he became a case worker,] thought Tess. "How did you get
transferred? I thought no one ever left Special Forces."

"After Bacon's Corner, I felt like I wanted to be involved with humans on a
more direct basis. I hated all the fighting and started to take things a
little too personally. I went to Captain Tal and confessed how I was
feeling. He and Clara are good friends, and they arranged for me to become
a case worker. Clara thought it best if you didn't know the background I
had just come from."

Tess nodded her acceptance. "So Mulder and Scully know about you two?"

Andrew and Monica nodded, but they both still looked very uncomfortable.
Tess looked at them and said, "Why do I get the impression there's
something that you're not telling me?"

Monica knew they couldn't hide what was going on. She had to find out.
"They asked us if there were any other angels in the area..."

Tess cut off her thought. No matter what happened, she knew she was going
to have to accept what was coming next, whether or not she liked it. "Don't
tell me..."

Monica completed what they were all thinking. "They know about you, too."

Tess held her head in her hands. Now she really had heard everything.
"Well, it looks like there's no sense in my keeping my distance from you
guys, now is there?"

Monica looked at her supervisor in awe. "You're not mad at us?"

Tess smiled. "I could never get mad at you, angel girl. I just wanted to
know why Mulder seemed different all of a sudden."

Andrew replied, "He seems to be taking the truth a lot better than his
partner. After last night, he seems to accept it as one more fact about the
case. Scully, on the other hand..."

Tess added, "Well, you have to remember that, although Scully went to
church when she was little, she has believed only in science for a long
time now. She'll follow Mulder's lead on the case, and she'll come around
to everything else. Don't worry, it may not take as long as you think.
She's just a little overwhelmed right now; give her time." That seemed to
reassure Monica, who was uncomfortable with the fact that Scully still had
a hard time believing that she was an angel.

Monica asked Tess, "Are you still going to work as a waitress?"

Tess nodded. "There's something about the people in this diner. I need to
stick with them and find out how they fit into all this."

At that point, Mulder and Scully walked out of the diner, carrying two
white paper bags. Mulder looked at Monica and Andrew, then at Tess, and
wished he could come out of a chewing out from Skinner as relaxed as these
two looked. He told Monica and Andrew, "You two were out here for so long
you didn't get a chance to eat your breakfast, so we got it to go."

Scully asked the three angels, "So how is everything out here?"

Tess smiled at the skeptical agent. "Just fine, Agent Scully. Monica and
Andrew were just telling me about the little talk you four had last night."

Mulder looked at her, and wondered if he would ever get a chance to get to
know Tess. He hoped that he would; she seemed like such a wise woman. "So
what do you make of the case so far?"

Tess replied, "I haven't been able to make heads or tails of it. Andrew
seems to know more than any of us."

Scully replied, "Well, hopefully we'll rectify that today." She started
toward where the rented Tauruses were parked. "Coming, Mulder?"

Mulder replied, "Yeah." He then looked at Andrew and Monica and asked them,
"Are you guys going to follow us to the first crime scene?"

Andrew and Monica both nodded. Mulder then turned to Tess and, in an
unusual move for him, warmly shook her hand. "Tess, it has been a pleasure
to finally properly meet you. I hope we will get a chance to talk again."

Tess looked at Mulder and wondered what it was about last night that
changed Mulder's attitude like this. As Scully watched from a distance, she
wondered the same thing.

308 March Street
Former home of William & Jessica McLintock
9:30 a.m.

[Life goes on,] thought Mulder, as he watched the young children playing
not two doors down from the porch where he and his partner were now
standing. There was none of the familiar yellow "Police line - do not
cross" tape along the door; it had been a week since the murders; all the
'true crime' fans had gone home, and the people in town wanted nothing to
do with the places where these couples had been killed, except for wanting
the four people now standing in the too quiet entry way to find out who
killed them and bring those missing children home.

Andrew and Monica agreed to go in the back and check the kitchen, while
Mulder and Scully went upstairs. A trace of stale blood smell still hung in
the air - evidently the house had not been aired out since its owners were
killed. As Mulder and Scully entered the master bedroom, everything was as
the police had left it: the thick goose down comforter laid in a crumpled
mess on the floor, close to the doorway. Black dust lined the windowsill,
the doorframes, the top of the dresser, and any exposed surface, yet showed
none of the latent fingerprints that the local police had hoped for. At
first glance, the mattress was the only indication that anything sinister
had gone on: It was soaked with blood.

Scully immediately headed for the bathroom: her intention was to look in
the medicine cabinet and see if the victims were taking any medication,
specifically anything that might heavily sedate them for long periods of
time or cause hallucinations. She also wanted samples of anything that
might look ordinary but could have been tainted to produce that reaction,
such as over-the-counter vitamins or painkillers. Even toothpaste or
drinking water could be suspect. She worked in silence, trying to gather
her own thoughts while allowing her partner to collect information.

Mulder started to slowly wander around the bedroom, trying to get a feel
for what might have gone on that night; he looked for any of the minute
details that the local police might have missed: a 'trophy' obviously
missing from the nightstand or dresser, a possible unusual point of entry
(after his work on the Tooms case, any hole is the wall was suspect). He
found a picture on the night table of a young Sharon McLintock, six years
old, with chestnut brown hair in ponytail braids: obviously a posed first
grade school picture. The resemblance to Samantha at that age was so
striking that he had to choke back tears for a minute. [We'll find you, I
promise,] was the thought that resounded in his mind-in his heart, it
applied to both little girls. He carefully place the picture back in its
proper place and turned around.

Seeing the bedspread tangled in front of him, he picked it up to carefully
examine it. He recalled the details from the file of how the victims
were initially found: each victim had been shot through the heart at close
range, and the bedspread had been placed back over them, their eyelids
closed to make it look like they were still simply sleeping. [The blood
should have been on only one side of the bedspread then,] he thought.
Which made it so surprising to find small traces of blood about two feet
down from the top of the clean side of the bedspread. He called out to his
partner, "Scully, could you come here for a minute, I need you to take a
look at something." He pulled a Swiss Army knife from his pocked and opened
the scissors attachment. As his partner knelt beside him, he began to cut
open the comforter just below the blood stain. "Scully, do you see this
bloodstain on the bedspread?" She nodded. "What do you think could have
caused blood to get on this side of it? As you can see, this was the side
facing away from the victims."

Scully replied, "More than likely, the blood soaked through the side of the
bedspread that covered the victims. There was about eight or nine hours
between the time of death and the time the bodies were found, after all."

By that point, Mulder had made a significant tear in the comforter. He
commented, "True, but if that were the case, why so little blood? If blood
was soaking through the comforter, after eight hours, there would have been
a lot more blood on this side. Plus, the feathers would be soaked clean
through on this side. Look at this." He opened the tear to show the
condition of the feathers just above the blood spot. Except for a few tiny
brown spots, they were pure white.

Scully's eyes widened slightly in surprise. She had just made the same
connection Mulder had. "That means this blood stain-"

Mulder completed the thought, "Had to be tracked by someone other than the
victims." He then called out for Andrew and Monica, who rushed quickly up
the stairs. He asked them, "Did you find anything downstairs yet?" They
both shook their heads. He then ordered them, "I want you to check the
children's rooms and the hallway. Look for anything unusual." The two
angels then left to start their search. Mulder then took the comforter and
placed it on the bed, to mimic the position it would have been in after the
killer tucked in the bodies. The blood stain was exactly halfway between
where each of the victims had been.

Scully then leaned over on the bed and examined the bloodstain closely. It
was a small down-turned oval shape. She could just make out the tell-tale
lines of a small palm. "Mulder, look at this," she exclaimed. "When I was a
little girl, I was terrified of thunderstorms. When a clap of thunder woke
me up in the middle of the night, I would often go to my mother's room and
ask if I could sleep with her in her bed. Mulder, I believe this bloodstain
was made by a child's handprint."

Mulder looked again at the handprint, then dropped to his knees and began
to examine the carpeting around the room. "My god - it had to have been
Sharon. Twelve year old boys usually consider themselves too old to come
crawling into their parents' bed when something scares them at night. But
then, how is there no blood on the carpet? If the killer had carried her
out, the extra weight would have left indentations in the carpet at the
very least; if she had walked out, her feet should have tracked blood
further than just this handprint."

Just then Monica called out for the two agents, who rushed to the hallway
across from the children's rooms to join her and Andrew, who was pacing in
a way that seemed, to Scully, to be very similar to the way that Mulder
would always pace whenever he was formulating some wild theory. Monica
looked at the two agents and told them what she and Andrew had found. "We
think we have an idea of how the children disappeared." She was holding on
to a small brown teddy bear. "We found this over here by the window. I
checked the bedroom, and it seems that Jessica had a collection of teddy
bears."

Mulder took the bear from Monica's hands and looked at her. "She was
carrying this the night her parents died?"

Monica replied, "It looks that way. We believe that whatever demon is
causing the parents to die is taking the children as well."

Scully asked, "You said that you had an idea of how the children
disappeared?"

Andrew stopped pacing, looked at Scully, and nodded. He then stated
solemnly, "I think it's better that we show you this rather than just
describe this to you." He then took Scully's hand, while Monica took
Mulder's. Andrew looked into Scully's eyes, and simply asked her, "My only
request is that you trust me completely for the next couple of minutes."
Scully took a deep breath and nodded. Andrew then turned toward the
wall and led Scully toward it. Scully continued to repeat [He's an angel,
I trust him, He's an angel,] in her head as she and Andrew stepped
through the wall...

...and into the bright sunlight streaming onto the McLintock's front porch.
Disoriented and speechless, Scully turned to watch Monica and Mulder appear
in the same spot that she and Andrew had just walked away from. If she
didn't believe these two were angels, she was sure of it now, especially
when she looked down and saw the bottle of Tylenol in her hand that she
picked up from the McLintock's medicine cabinet. Mulder looked around at
his new surroundings, and quickly acquired the same dumbfounded look that
Scully was wearing. Putting two and two together, he exclaimed,
"Teleportation?"

Andrew nodded, and answered Mulder's implied question. "Angels do have that
ability to some degree, yes. Demons tend to use it more, though. They fly a
little slower than angels, so in a pinch, they will teleport in and out of
a bad situation. From what I can tell, that is how a demon would get into
the house without being seen, and leave the house with the children in
tow."

Mulder opened the front door to the house and motioned for the other three
to come back inside. "Scully and I found out something interesting
upstairs. I think we should all take a look at it." The two agents and two
angels walked back upstairs and back into the master bedroom.

Scully declared, "It seems Sharon was sleeping in bed with her parents when
they were killed."

Monica raised an eyebrow at this statement. "She watched them die?" She was
almost hoping that that was what happened, although she had an idea that it
might be something far more sinister.

"Looks like it," replied Scully.

With an action plan in mind, Mulder spoke up. "I think we should split up
to check out the other two crime scenes. My hunch is that we'll find the
scenes very similar to this one. Monica and I will go to the Thomases.
Andrew, do you think you can handle the Jones crime scene on your own?" He
nodded. Mulder continued, "All right then. If you can, Andrew, I'd like you
to drop Scully off at the local Medical Examiner's office." Andrew and
Scully nodded their agreement to that last statement. The group then
separated and went off to their respective assignments.

In the bushes across the street from the house, Angelos watched the angels
with their human counterparts and smiled. They thought they could find him,
they thought they could catch him, but they were very, very wrong. This
little town was his, the children were his, and he was going to do what he
liked with them. Besides, what could two puny humans do to him anyway? He
laughed and rose above the house they had just left, flying off to plan his
next victory.

Below him, an adversary like none Angelos could imagine watched, hidden,
waiting for the moment to strike. [We'll see who wins this town,
Angelos,] thought Captain Tal, [It won't be yours for much longer.]

Hamelton Medical Center
1:00 p.m.

Andrew pulled up to the office of the local medical examiner at the same
time as Mulder and Monica. Automatically, they mentally went past wasting
time with greetings, eager to update each other on what they had each found
at the crime scenes. Andrew went first, "I found the same evidence at the
Jones house. MaryAnn had definitely been in the same bed as her parents
that night, and I could tell that the kids had been taken out through
teleportation."

Mulder and Monica nodded, indicating that they had found identical evidence
that the Thomas house. The trio entered the medical building just as Scully
was finishing her examination of the body of the last victim. She left the
autopsy bay and practically ran into Mulder, who had come up just behind
her. "Oh, Mulder! Good, I'm glad you are all here. I found some very
interesting things when I took a look at the bodies of the victims."

Mulder nodded, and indicated for her to go on. Scully gave him a look that
told him they should not be in public when they discuss this, and she led
them to a nearby conference room. She took the gloves and hat she was
wearing and set them on the table in front of her as Mulder, Andrew, and
Monica sat down in chairs nearby. She then sat down and started to discuss
her findings.

"First, I can find it safe to assume that the evidence at the other two
crime scenes brought about similar findings?" All three nodded. "In my
findings from the six victims, although the weapons used were different,
the manner in which they died was the same: a violent rupturing of the
aorta, causing extreme blood loss and eventual death. The McLintocks'
autopsies were particularly unusual: when a bullet is fired into the body
at close range, it usually ricochets through the body, causing damage to a
number of organs. These bullets were different, though; they went straight
through the aorta and out of the body, causing only small entry and exit
wounds on either side of the victims. I'll bet we'll probably find the
bullets lodged in the mattress somewhere. Again, it makes our findings at
the crime scenes all the more unusual. The aorta is one of the most
powerful muscles in the human body. Damage like these people suffered would
have cause blood to literally explode all over the crime scene. We would
have found it everywhere. Instead, the bleeding was primarily internal;
what little blood we saw came out the exit wounds and soaked through into
the mattress." At this, Mulder and Andrew nodded in agreement; this
matched the crime scenes they had just came from. "Overall, all I can say
is that these people were definitely murdered. Even someone with medical
training could not have caused injuries this precise. I have never seen
anything like this in my life. Nothing seems to fit quite right."

Monica then reviewed the facts of the case to that point. "All right, we
know that the little girls were in their parents' rooms the night their
parents died, and either found their bodies after they were killed or
watched them die."

Andrew chimed in, "We also know that each of the victims died in a manner
that was unusual in contrast to the means the killer used to kill them. Do
we know anything else at this point?"

Mulder replied, "Our killer either cared a great deal about each of the
victims or their children. Or at least, he wanted to make it appear that he
did. When the victims eyes are closed, usually it shows some sort of
concern for how the victims appear after death. He wants to make it look
like they were just sleeping."

Andrew disagreed. "I agree with you that he wanted to make it look like
they were sleeping, but I don't think it was out of any sort of concern for
the victims. More than likely, he was covering his tracks. He wanted to get
in and out of there quickly, yet make it look like nothing had happened.
At least, not until it was too late for anyone to do anything about it."

Monica spoke up, "That still doesn't answer our primary question. Who
killed these people? The demon wouldn't have used human methods,
so he had to have had human help. But from who? And why did we
find no evidence of this person?"

Andrew sat back and shrugged. "Maybe this demon's really good at
covering his tracks."

A lightbulb seemed to go off over Mulder's head. As he got up and practically
ran over Monica in his haste to get to the blackboard, the angel heard him
mutter, "No one, demon or otherwise, is -that- good."

Scully, Andrew and Monica sat up in their chairs at the table as Mulder drew
a stick-figure bed on the blackboard, two people sleeping in it. Turning back
to the table, Mulder handed his partner the chalk and asked her, "Scully,
based on your autopsy, could you project the trajectory from which each bullet
hit its victims?"

Scully shrugged, "Sure," and approached the blackboard. Grimacing at
Mulder's crude drawing, she nonetheless drew two dashed lines, explaining,
"The bullet that killed Jessica McLintock came from this direction...and
the bullet that killed her husband came from this direction..."

Realizing where the two trajectories intersected, Scully leaned back on the
table, the shock evident on her face. "My God, Mulder, do you know
what this means?"

Grimly, Mulder nodded. "'Fraid I do, Scully. I'm afraid I do."

End Chapter Five

Andrew didn't want to believe it himself, but the evidence was there,
in black and white. The trajectories intersected in the middle of the bed,
approximately a foot above it. That could only mean one thing...
Unwilling to believe the possibility that was being laid out before him,
Andrew got up from his chair and began to pace in the back of the room.
There had to be another explanation...

The look of shocked disbelief on Monica's face was obvious. "Wait a minute,
you couldn't possibly believe that these sweet, innocent little girls could
simply walk into their parent's bedrooms and kill them in cold blood? Do
you?"

Both agents shifted their gaze away from the angels. As painful as it was
to admit it, they had seen too many horrifying things in their careers to
rule it out as a possibility, especially when all the forensic evidence
they had to that point led directly to that conclusion. Monica turned to the
other angel in the room. "Do you, believe that, Andrew?"

Andrew thought for a moment, then started pacing again. "No, Monica, I
don't. These kids wouldn't have done this of their own free will -- which
means that their free will has to have been suppressed somehow." A
lightbulb went off in his head, and he sat down. He sighed deeply, then
looked at Mulder. "The only way I can think of to inhibit the free will of
these children is through the exercises that Tom Harris described. We need
to go to the schools and find out what the school is teaching these
children. Mulder, is your friend still driving up here tonight?"

Mulder nodded. "Knowing Langley, we should probably expect him late --
probably after 9 p.m. He would have wanted to drive straight into rush hour
traffic, to make sure that no one could possibly follow him here." He
chuckled lightly at the fact that the Lone Gunmen were the only people in
the world who actually _liked_ rush hour traffic in DC.

Andrew replied, "Good. I don't think we should go to the schools without
studying that information. If we're dealing with a demon that's strong
enough to convince children to kill their own parents, we don't want to go
in without a full understanding of what we're dealing with."

Scully chimed in, "Knowledge is power."

Andrew solemnly agreed, "Exactly."

A few tense moments of silence passed, then Monica asked the group, "So
what do we do until Langley gets here?"

Scully replied, "Well, I'm done here for now. I'm willing to go in on
whatever you want to do next. Gentlemen?"

Mulder decided for everyone. "By this point, we're not going to get
anything out of the school, so I suggest that we go there first thing in
the morning. So for now, first, we eat. For one thing, I'm starved. Second,
I'd like to get Tess' input on what we've learned so far today. It seems
like everyone so far has brought something to the table, no matter how
surprising it might be. She might have an insight into this case that we
haven't gotten so far. Plus, from working at Myrtle's, she probably has
gotten an earful of local popular opinion. I'd like to know if she's heard
anything suspicious." All were in agreement with Mulder, and they got up to
head for the diner.

Andrew noticed that Monica lagged a bit behind, discouraged. He went over
to put his arm around his partner. "Hey, what's wrong?"

Monica turned to look at Andrew, and smiled for a brief second before the
discouraged look returned to her face. "Mulder said that everyone has
brought something to this case so far. I don't see at all what I've brought
to this case yet. It seems that all I'm doing so far is agreeing with you,
or Mulder, or Scully."

"So what?" replied Andrew. "Monica, what's the first rule we learn as case
workers?"

They recited together, "God picks his own time and place for everything. We
are here not to help the events along, but to help people deal with the
events and make the right choices."

Andrew continued, "That's right. Monica, if you didn't have something
essential to bring to this investigation, you wouldn't be here. Be patient.
When the time is right, I'm sure you'll step in with some little piece of
information or hidden talent and blow us all away." Reassured, Monica
smiled slightly, and Andrew put is arm around her in a supportive hug. "Now
come on, let's catch up to Mulder and Scully and get over to that diner."

Myrtle's
2:00 p.m.

The lunch crowd from the factory had gone for the most part - lunch hour
for everyone was usually over by 1 o'clock. The diner was quiet-only a
couple of people sitting at the counter drinking coffee and reading
newspapers, when the two agents and two angels walked in. They sat in their
usual corner booth, and before they even needed to signal, Tess had come
over with their menus and four cups of coffee. She knew that she needed to
keep up appearances for the sake of her own 'cover' in town, so she
exclaimed, a bit louder than she needed to, "Having a late lunch today,
aren't we folks?"

Having practiced the fine points of cloak-and-dagger work for years, Mulder
picked up on the tactic immediately. He motioned for Scully to give him a
pen, which she quickly produced. He exclaimed to Tess, "Yeah, we've been
pretty busy with the case. How are you doing today, Tess?" He used a normal
speaking voice to show Tess that she didn't have to blast his eardrums from
that point on. On the paper he wrote:

Made some interesting findings I'd like to get your opinion on.

When & where?

"Oh I'm just dandy. Here are your menus. I'll just give y'all a couple of
minutes to decide," Tess exclaimed. She left the menus and walked back to
the counter to get her order pad and a pen. She concealed the order pad and
wrote something quickly on the top sheet, then walked back to the agents'
table. She dropped the note on the table and asked the group, "So
have you decided yet?" Mulder picked up the note on the table, which read:

I don't get off until 6, but I haven't had a chance to take my lunch break
yet.

What did you find out?

Mulder stated, "Hmmm, this is _interesting_," hoping that Tess would pick
up. A raised eyebrow told him she did. He quickly wrote another note on the
placemat while giving Tess his order. The note read:

The field just outside the inn, in about forty-five minutes?

Tess nodded slightly, and Mulder shifted the placemat to make sure that
everyone at the table could see and agree to the arrangement. Slight nods
of the head from each person at the table sealed the deal. The other three
placed their orders. Monica couldn't help but comment, "I hope the service
is quick today."

Tess shot her a look that reminded Mulder and Scully of their boss again,
and stated simply, "I'll go place these orders." She then walked away from
the table to place the orders, making sure to casually mention to the cook
that "...these people are in a rush. Can you make sure they get their orders
ASAP?"

The cook nodded, and went about his business. Tess then poured a cup of
coffee for Tom Harris, the counter's only occupant and the restaurant's
only other customer besides the four agents at the table. He thanked her
for the refill, then pulled out a small business card. He asked Tess, "I'm
having a prayer meeting tonight to pray for the return of the missing
children. I've been inviting everyone in town. I know you're new, but we
need all the support we can get. This card has my address on it. Would you
like to come?"

Tess smiled, and placed the card in a pocket where she knew she could get
to it quickly and not lose it. She replied, "I wouldn't miss it for the
world. What time would you like me to be there?"

Tom returned the waitress' warm smile. "7:30." He dropped a dollar on the
counter to pay for the coffee and replied, "I'll see you tonight, then."

Tess replied, "Definitely." She politely said goodbye to him, and turned to
respond to the cook's bell that signaled that the agents' food was here.
She brought the food to the table just as Myrtle called out to her, "Tess,
I have a few errands I need to run. Can you mind the store for a while?"

"No problem," replied Tess, smiling. "You go on ahead and do what you gotta
do."

Myrtle put on her coat, turned and walked out the front door. Tess subtly
checked on the cook, who was quietly eating his lunch in the back. The
dishwasher on full blast ensured that he was conveniently out of earshot.
Bringing a rag and a bottle of all-purpose cleaner with her so she could
clean nearby tables as she talked, she turned to the foursome at the table
and asked, "Okay, so what's going on?"

Mulder and Scully both filled Tess in on the new physical evidence they had
discovered, while Andrew described how they came to the conclusion that the
demon was teleporting the children out of their homes. Mulder then asked
Tess, "So, what do you think?"

"Sounds to me like you're on the right track so for," agreed Tess, "So
you're sure this demon is working through the children?" All four heads at
the table nodded.

Tess warned, "Be careful. Demons don't often work through outright
possession." Andrew nodded in agreement. Tess continued, "Oftentimes they
will just manipulate people into doing what they think is right, even
causing them to see things that aren't really there." Monica nodded in
agreement. Tess then asked, "How do you think this demon is contacting the
children initially?"

Andrew answered, "I believe that the children are being exposed to a
curriculum at school that makes them susceptible to the demon's
manipulation."

"Makes sense," said Tess, "They like to start in a place where their victim
feels comfortable, and from there they work to drag the person away from
what they know is the truth."

Scully asked Tess, "Have you heard anything about a 'new person' in town
who's working as a teacher or in some other capacity at the school?"

Tess shook her head, "No, but from what you've told me, this might not be a
person who the other people in town would be able to see."

Mulder asked her, "You think this demon might be contacting them as an
'imaginary friend'?"

Tess nodded, and replied, "It's a normal thing for children to have at the
age of the younger girls. I haven't talked to everyone in town, though.
I'll get to hear a little more tonight."

Monica asked, "What's going on tonight?"

Tess replied, "Tom Harris is hosting a prayer meeting tonight at his house.
Hopefully a good number of the people in town will be there."

Mulder and Andrew looked at each other, thinking exactly the same thing:
[The remnant?]

Andrew asked Tess, "Do you know where this prayer meeting is being held?"

Tess gave Andrew the business card she received from Tom, which Andrew read
thoroughly. Scully asked him, "Do you think we need to be there?"

Andrew thought for a moment, then shook his head. "No, we have other
things we need to be doing. The meeting will probably still be going on when
your friend Langley drives into town. But, it's good to know that it's
happening." He handed the business card back to Tess, who put it in the
pocket of her uniform.

Mulder looked at his watch and asked the group, "All right, Langley is
getting into town sometime around 9 p.m. Any ideas as to what we work on
until then?"

Just then, Scully's cellular phone rang. "Excuse me," she said as the
picked up the phone and answered it, "Scully." She nodded and agreed with
the person on the other end of the line several times, and ended the call
with a quick reply, "Thank you." She then addressed the group, "That was
the county medical examiner. Apparently there was nothing usual that he
could pinpoint in the tox screens on the victims, but he did notice that
the victims all had brain fluid levels similar to those found when someone
suffers a migraine."

Mulder repeated, "They _all_ had migraines at the time of their death?"

Scully nodded. "Do I have any idea how this might tie these cases together?
No."

Mulder was already deep in thought. Out loud, he replied, "But at least it
gives us something to go on. We can't ignore any possible connections
between these murders, no matter how small they might be. The question now
is, what caused these people to get these headaches?"

Scully thought it over a moment, then commented, "Just because nothing
showed up in the tox screens, doesn't mean there wasn't something there. I
suggest we go over to the houses of each of the victims, see if there might
be some common object in each of their homes that could deliver whatever
toxin might be doing this."

Seeing no better alternatives available, the group agreed, and split into
separate groups. Mulder gave Tess enough money to cover their check, and
the foursome quickly left the diner, practically knocking over poor Myrtle
who was just coming back from her errands. She looked at Tess in confusion
and asked her, "Did I miss anything?"

Tess could only look at the table she was wiping down, and quickly replied,
"Oh, they just got a lead on the case," working harder to keep from
suppressing the laughter that was desperately trying to come out.

"Oh," replied Myrtle, as if that were the answer to everything. She then
got herself a glass of water, and poured out two of the Tylenol she had
gone out to buy. "Man, do I have a headache," she declared.

For only the second time in her life, Tess' jaw dropped open.

308 March Street
4:30 p.m.

Once the agents left the diner, Monica and Scully went straight to the
McLintock house to look for clues. The minute they got out of their car,
though, one of the neighborhood children ran up to her, breathless and
excited. The little boy caught his breath and asked, "Are you the FBI
people?"

Monica knelt down next to the boy, looked him in the eye, and replied,
"Yes, we are. What's going on?"

The boy replied, "I just found two kids, walking the streets. They won't
answer you when you talk to them or anything. They look like they're really
hurt. I was thinkin' you could help them. Please, you gotta come with me!"
By this point, he was practically dragging Monica down the street by the
arm.

Monica followed the boy down the street, and Scully followed, calling
Mulder on her cellular phone even as she ran to catch up. He picked up with
a quick, "Mulder."

Breathing heavily from trying to run in heels, Scully informed him, "Mulder
it's me. We think one of the neighborhood kids might have stumbled across
two of the missing children. We're following him to them now."

Mulder asked, "which way are you headed?"

"East on March Street," she replied, "get here as soon as you can." She
then broke the connection and ran to catch up with Monica and the
mysterious little boy.

The little boy brought Monica to a small park. In this park were two
children, sitting on a small stone bench near a large fountain. The taller
boy motioned to the smaller girl. He whispered to her, "they're coming,"
and patted her on the top of her head, quickly running his hands through
her auburn curls to straighten them out. Her light blue eyes sparkled.

Monica came up to them, and she turned around to see Scully coming up
quickly behind her. When she arrived, Scully knelt down, as Monica had done
before, to look the little girl in the eye, and introduced herself. "Hello,
my name is Dana, and this is my friend Monica. What's your name?"

The little girl looked down at her feet, which were not able to touch the
ground from the height of the bench. She did not respond.

Scully then decided to try the older boy. She looked up at him, and nearly
gasped, as she could have sworn the child looked like Mulder might have
looked at twelve years old. She composed herself, and asked, "How about
you? Would you like to tell me your name?"

The little boy looked Scully in the eye, and a chill ran down Scully's
spine. His eyes were gray, cold, and emotionless. She felt like she was
looking into the face of pure evil, but could not look away.

Mulder and Andrew were just pulling up to the park, and saw the children
with Scully and Monica. Andrew gasped, and exclaimed to Mulder, "Stop the
car, now!"

Mulder did as he ordered, and instinctively drew his gun. "What's going
on?" he asked.

Andrew pointed over to Monica and Scully. The scene was tense, and looked
almost frozen in time: Monica and Scully looking into the faces of three
black, short, grotesque, horrible demons. Their leathery wings were
outstretched , so that Scully was covered in shadow. The smell of evil was
intense, and Andrew was shocked to realize that Monica did not even
seem to notice the change. One of the demons on the bench took Scully's
hand, and the sight wanted to make Andrew scream in anger. "You don't see
it?"

"No," replied Mulder, "All I see is Monica and Scully with three children
around them."

He then remembered that Mulder was human, and couldn't see. Not without
help. "Those children are demons," declared Andrew. He placed a hand on
Mulder's shoulder. "Look again."

Mulder turned, and saw exactly what Andrew was seeing. He broke away from
Andrew's hand, and sprinted down the hill toward the benches at breakneck
speed, gun drawn, with Andrew close behind. When they had reached the
bench, Mulder pointed his gun at the head of the boy facing Scully, and
declared, "FBI, freeze! Step away from the bench."

Andrew looked at Mulder like he was a lunatic, as if the fact that he was
an FBI agent was going to make an impression on three of the hounds of
hell. Not letting go of his weapon, Mulder looked over to Andrew and
shrugged, "Sorry, force of habit."

Andrew came up behind Monica, touched her shoulder, and immediately her
senses returned to her. Now able to smell the stench of evil, she jumped back
quickly. She then saw the three children for who they really were, and
recoiled behind Andrew in fear. "Andrew," she gasped, "What are
these--things? What's going on?"

"These are demons," declared Andrew. He remained quiet for a moment, and
then spoke in a voice that sounded, to Mulder, like the loudest, most
powerful trumpet he had ever heard. "Darcus, Camarion, and Electra, I
command you, in the name of Jesus, to step away from her."

The heads of all three demons shot up in fear. They had not heard such a
voice since, since, --"Oh, Lucifer," cursed the tall demon Darcus, "I
remember you-Andrew from Bacon's Corner!"

"That's right," replied Andrew, in his normal speaking voice, "I can't say
it's good to see the three of you. Now get out of here," he boomed in the
'trumpet voice', "Now!" The three demons backed nervously away from the
bench, fell into the fountain, and then quickly rose up and flew away.

Once the demons were out of sight, Scully collapsed into a heap on the
ground, and Mulder ran quickly to her. He cradled her in his arms, and
helped her up to the bench to be with her until she regained her senses. He
then looked with awe at the angel standing in front of him. He had so many
questions about what he had just seen, that he didn't know where to begin,
so he just sat on the bench, open-mouthed, with Scully's head on his
shoulder.

Monica, for her part, was a bit shell-shocked, but was starting to recover.
She, too, had a million questions, though, and had to sit down on the bench
next to Mulder to collect her thoughts. "I guess you learned that in
Special Forces, Andrew?" she exclaimed.

Andrew shrugged, and briefly smiled, "Special Forces 101."

Having remembered the term from before, Mulder asked, "Special Forces?"

Andrew replied, "It's what I was doing in Bacon's Corner during the Brandon
case. Think of it as an angelic SWAT team."

Mulder asked, "That's how the demons knew you?"

Andrew nodded, then commented, "I'm surprised, though. With the prayer
cover as weak as it is, it should not have been that easy to send those
demons away."

"That's because they are my puny, pathetic weak underlings who I could
banish into the flames of eternity with a flick of my little finger. I sent
them to bring you to me."

The two agents and two angels turned around, and looked toward the opposite
side of the fountain, where the voice came from. Mulder still had his arm
around Scully, who was barely beginning to recover her senses. He tightened
his arm around her protectively, and asked the woman who was facing them
from the other side of the fountain, "I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch your
name. You are--?"

The woman smiled, and, completely ignoring Mulder, calmly walked around to
the other side of the fountain. She was a small, light-skinned black woman,
a little bit taller than Scully. Her dark hair was pulled back into a loose
ponytail, and her blue eyes sparked with evil as she smiled. Her slight
Jamaican accent was obvious as she replied, "I think your friends know
exactly who I am, don't you Andrew? Nice display of force, by the way. I
didn't know you had such a big mouth. Hello Monica. It's always nice to see
you again."

Monica grabbed Andrew's hand to emotionally steady herself. She now knew
why she was here. She looked to the woman who was addressing them and
simply stated, "Hello, Kathleen."

End Chapter Six

"Why Monica," exclaimed Kathleen, "I'm surprised. You sound like you're not
happy to see me."

Andrew could barely contain his own anger. "What do you want, Kathleen?
You're the one who supposedly brought us here."

Kathleen turned her attention away from Monica and walked up to Andrew,
looking him straight in the eye. Her eyes turned from their sparkling blue
to an evil, glowing red, and the tone of her voice turned deadly serious.
"I brought you here to give you a warning. If you persist in your useless
investigation, you will be faced with an enemy you will never be able to
defeat. He will blow you and your puny little human friends away like so
much dust in the wind." She then turned to Monica. "Also, as an old
friend," Monica winced at that term, but Kathleen continued, "I want to
give you a piece of advice: leave this place. You've seen the power I've
been given. Why don't you come with me? Come on, Monica, it'll be just like
old times."

Kathleen tried to touch Monica's shoulder, but Monica stepped back. Placing
her hand in Andrew's, she looked Kathleen in the eye and shook her head
slowly and deliberately. "Kathleen, you know that it would never be like
'old times'. It can never be like that as long as I am in the light and you
are in the darkness. We are going to continue this investigation, whatever
it may bring, and we will take this town back from you."

Andrew added, "So, if you know what's good for _you_, Kathleen, you'll
leave this town now, before things get ugly."

Kathleen took two steps back, looked at the group before her, and declared,
"Good luck to you then, for all of you are going to need all the 'luck' you
can get." She turned her back to the group, started laughing uncontrollably
as she walked away, and then vanished in the blink of an eye.

Mulder let out the breath he had been holding during the entire incident,
sat himself down on the bench, Scully next to him, then looked at Monica in
shock. "You _know_ her?"

Monica nodded, then explained, "Are you familiar with the story of how
Satan was an angel who was cast out of heaven?" Mulder and Scully both
nodded. Monica continued, "He wasn't the only one. When he left, he took
many an angel down with him. Kathleen and I were friends once, but, ...what
was that expression again?...Oh yes, they made her an offer she couldn't
refuse?"

Mulder asked, "And what kind of an offer was that?"

Andrew replied solemnly, "The promise of power and prestige."

Scully, who by now had regained her senses, commented, "It seems like she
got what she was promised."

Mulder nodded, then added, "To a point. If she was the one in charge of
this situation, then why all the posturing and show of force? She even
said, 'you will be faced with an enemy'. No, I think Kathleen is no one we
should mess with, and I'm sure she works for the one we're looking for, but
she's not the one who's in control. _He_ sent Kathleen to intimidate us into
leaving."

Scully looked at her partner and asked, "So what do we do now?"

In unison, Andrew and Mulder replied, "We wait."

Mulder looked into his partner's eyes and added, "We can't gather any more
information today. There's nothing we can do now until Langley gets here
with the information on the Brandon case."

Looking into the fountain, Andrew added, "Besides, if we try to work on
anything now, the prayer cover is so weak that we'll only end up doing more
harm than good, anyway. No, it's best if we wait until after the prayer
meeting tonight."

Tired and a bit discouraged, Mulder helped Scully up off the bench, and the
two agents and two angels walked up to the hill, got into their cars, and
started the drive back to the Inn.

As he was driving, Mulder glanced over at his partner with concern. "You
okay, Scully?" he asked.

Scully looked over at Mulder and flashed him a brief smile. She knew he was
worried about her, and in a lot of ways, she was a bit worried about
herself, but she couldn't show that to him - it would drive him crazy. She
reassured him, "I'll be fine. What happened back there, Mulder?"

For one of the few times in his life, Mulder was speechless. He couldn't
put what he saw, what he heard, or what he felt into words that he could
understand, much less use to explain to his partner. She was in such a
catatonic state for most of it that he wasn't even sure what she
remembered. "What do you remember of it?"

"I remember the children," replied Scully, "I asked them to tell me their
names. The little girl just seemed shy, but the boy - I remember thinking
at first that he looked just like what I pictured you looking like at
twelve years old - but when I looked into his eyes, I saw the most
frightening thing I ever saw in my life."

"What was that Scully?"

"My own helplessness. Seeing my own fear, especially in -his- eyes,
paralyzed me. I don't remember anything but my own nightmares
until the children were gone. After that, I can recall bits and pieces
of the conversation with that woman-"

"Kathleen," interjected Mulder.

"Kathleen," confirmed Scully. "but I didn't fully come back to my
senses until she was gone. Who was she, Mulder?"

[I could tell her the truth,] thought Mulder, [but will she believe me? Oh
why not, it's never stopped me before.] "Kathleen is a demon, Scully, as
were the children. That's why you went through the things you went through.
Those-things had control of your mind." He hit he steering wheel in
frustration. "I _knew_ we should never have split up. One of us would end
up getting hurt, like one of us _always_ does; this time it was you, and
it's all my fault."

Scully had heard this speech before, and refused, as always, to let Mulder
run on a guilt trip for more than thirty seconds. "That's enough, Mulder!
It's _not_ your fault. It could have been any one of us - remember, Monica
was taken in, too, for a while. Only Andrew has had any experience with the
things we're dealing with on this case, and it seems like even he's relatively
powerless right now. Stop blaming yourself."

Mulder sighed. He knew she was right, as always, and he was amazed that his
normally skeptical partner was handling this as well as she was. He pulled
into the parking lot of the diner, and, in an unusual gesture for him, went
around to open the door for his partner. He offered her his hand to help
her out of the car, and declared, "Come on, Scully. I promise I won't talk
about this case for a minute during dinner."

When she smiled briefly in response, he knew she was feeling better. As he
opened the door for Scully, he barely noticed the fact that Andrew and
Monica were not following him to the diner. He guided his partner into the
diner with a hand on the small of her back, and let the door swing closed
behind him.

413 Philipps Street
7:20 p.m.

[It's not exactly a full house,] thought Tom Harris, [but Jesus himself
only picked twelve men to start with himself, so God's definitely going to
be able to work through this bunch.] He looked at the fifteen or so men,
women and children who were taking up every available space in his living
room, and smiled. [Yep, God's definitely got a plan here.]

[Couldn't agree more,] thought Tal, smiling, [and the plan is working,
too.] He looked around the room as a dozen of the strongest angels from all
over the Earth were embracing each other, smiling and enjoying the
fellowship. No one raised their voice to any sort of loud or excited level,
though. Every angel there knew the importance of this meeting, and, more
importantly, they knew how necessary it was that they not attract the
attention of any of the demons that have had free reign in Hamelton for so
long. That didn't stop them from enjoying each others company, though. Most
of the angels had known each other for ages, fighting countless battles
together.

Two of the angels there, though, were attracting no small amount of
attention among the other angels. Usually when an new angel was coming into
Special Forces, everyone knew about it. Tonight, though, these two came in,
and many among the group did not know who they were. Yet, Tal recognized
the tall, fair haired angel immediately, and came over to embrace his old
friend.

"Andrew! It is good to see you here. I thought you weren't going to attend
the meeting tonight."

"Change of plans. After this afternoon, I felt we both needed this
opportunity to regain our strength." She motioned to Monica, who was
standing a few feet behind him. As she stepped forward, Andrew introduced
her, "Captain, this is Monica, a case worker who is a very close friend of
mine. Monica, this is Tal, Captain of the Host."

Tal took Monica's hand, gently kissed it, and , looking straight into her
eyes, smiled and said, "I am honored to make the acquaintance of such a
lovely angel."

Monica blushed slightly and replied, "The honor is mine, Captain."

Tal looked again at Andrew. "And where is Tess tonight? I thought she was
going to come to the meeting."

Andrew replied, "Mulder and Scully had an important meeting tonight, so
when we decided to come here, Tess consented to keep an eye on them for
us."

Tal asked him, "And what happened this afternoon that startled you so?"

Andrew and Monica recounted their encounter with Kathleen that afternoon.
Tal muttered, "I see," and briefly brought his hand to his chin, deep in
thought. He encouraged Andrew, "Take heart, old friend - all this encounter
means is that the demons are getting arrogant. They see your work with the
humans as a weakness, but we know the strength in those two. After tonight,
the demons have no idea what they are in for. But they will, and very
soon."

Guilo came up and briefly tapped Tal and Andrew on the shoulder to
interrupt them. "Angels, I hate to disturb you, but the meeting is about to
start."

As the angels quietly took their positions around the room, Andrew and
Monica got a chance to take a good look at the humans who were attending
the meeting. Carl and Paula Gorman had found spots on the couch, as did
George McLintock. Jeff Materian and Marie Nystrom had pulled in chairs
from the kitchen. Naturally, Sally Roe was there, as was Tom's son Josiah,
who was by now old enough to understand what was going on and lend support
to the effort. Tom's daughter Ruth was still a little young, though, and
although she knew they were there to pray for the missing kids, and she
really wanted to help, that didn't stop the little girl from squirming
uncomfortably in her chair. [Now I know why Tess wanted to stay on at the
diner,] thought Andrew, [all the regulars are a part of the remnant. I'll
bet they were surprised to see each other here.]

Samantha Materian, the sheriff's wife, walked into the room after helping
her best friend Jennifer Nalvarez fix some coffee for the group now in the
living room. She set down the coffee on the main coffee table, then had to
run over to the three chairs by the window to calm down her three boys.
Doug Frobitz, the sheriff's deputy, tried to stand off at the back, toward
the door, but he was quickly ushered into the room by Marie. Keith and Mary
Ellen Davis, the young couple who just took over the ministry duties of the
local community church, rounded out the group, and they were sitting
together on the love seat, eager to begin.

As the group quieted down, Tom announced, "I'd like to thank you all for
coming. I realize that most of you have not known me for very long, and I'm
encouraged to see that there are so many people who are coming out here not
because they are friends of mine, but because it is on their hearts to
petition God for the safe return of those missing children." At this, all
of the adult heads in the room nodded in agreement. Tom asked, "Does anyone
have anything they'd like to say before we start?"

George McLintock spoke up first. "I also wanted to thank everyone for
coming. Maybe, with God's help, we can get all of these kids back home to
the families they still have." Every head in the room, both human and
angel, nodded in agreement to that comment.

Keith Davis piped in, "I'd like to make a suggestion, if I may." All heads
turned their attention to the young minister. "Why don't we start a prayer
chain? For every hour of the day, say, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., one of us takes
an hour to pray specifically for these children to come home. I know that
finding these kids is important to all of us, or we wouldn't be here. At
least this way, all of us would be doing something to help."

All the human heads nodded in agreement. Tom suggested, "Keith, that's a
great idea. If you could set up a schedule, that would be great. Sign me up
for 6-7 am and 1-2 pm." Josiah then asked his father, "If it's all right
with you, Dad, I'd like to sign up for 9-10 am, and Ruth and I could pray
for the kids before we start school in the mornings." Tom reached over and
squeezed his son's hand in encouragement and support, nodding definitively.
Others in the group started to chime in suggestions as to the hours they
wanted to take on the task of praying for the children.

The excitement among the angels in the room grew to almost a fever pitch,
but Tal quieted the group. "No! Quiet, all of you! It's not time yet."

After all the spots were filled, Tom smiled, and closed the topic to the
group. "All right, we now have every spot from 6 am to 11 p.m. filled.
Everyone happy with their times?" All heads nodded in agreement. Tom
continued, "Great. Then let's get started. I'd like to suggest that, with
such a small group here, we go around the room, starting with George and
going around in a circle." All heads nodded in agreement, then lowered
slowly to begin the task at hand.

As each person in the room took their turns praying, Guilo turned to Tal,
confused. "Captain, I thought all we needed was more prayer cover before we
could start our attack on Angelos."

Tal shook his head. "I thought so too, at first, but there are too many
things that have not yet been revealed to us, particularly where Angelos
has taken those missing children." He attracted Andrew and Monica's
attention, and motioned for them to come over so he could speak with them.
"Andrew, how is the investigation going?"

"Pretty well, considering the prayer cover was so weak. As I said before,
Mulder and Scully have a meeting tonight with one of their research
contacts. Considering that this came up the same night as the prayer
meeting, I have a feeling that we're going to get a lot of information from
that meeting. Tomorrow we're going to go to the school to try and get a
look at the curriculum in action. I'd say we'll have an understanding of
how Angelos is getting to these kids by noon tomorrow."

Tal replied, "Good, good. It seems, then, that by tomorrow night we should
have all the information we need to finish this once and for all."

"Do you have any advice as to how we should proceed until then?"

"You were right in defending Mulder and Scully against those demons.
Continue to do that if the situation calls for it. Otherwise, let them lead
the investigation, and find out the truth as quickly as possible."

Andrew turned and looked at the clock on the wall above the fireplace. When
he saw the time he said to Tal, "Well, I think we should be going. Now that
the prayer cover is getting stronger, I would like to get back to the hotel
in time to meet with Mulder and Scully's informants, if at all possible."

Tal warmly embraced the former soldier. "Go, my friends, and God speed."

Andrew nodded to Monica, who quickly followed him back to the Inn.

Hamelton Motor Inn
Parking lot
9:00 p.m.

When Scully heard that Langley was coming up here with the rest of the
information on the Brandon case, she had no idea what to expect. She
definitely did not expect Byers and Langley bringing two file cartons of
information into her partner's hotel room. She pulled her partner aside and
asked, "Mulder, it's going to take us a week to get through that much
information!"

Byers heard her comment and replied. "Agreed. That's why we're going to
stay up here with you until this case is solved. It'll be easier to talk to
people who've studied the information thoroughly than to read through this
pile of paperwork yourselves - even with Agent Mulder's eidetic memory and
tendency not to get much sleep."

Langley chimed in, "All of this is just in case we need to refer back to
any of the crucial pieces of evidence in the case."

Byers then asked Mulder, "Oh, and by the way, how did things go with your
'observers'?"

Mulder and Scully exchanged knowing looks, trying to come up with an
appropriate explanation just as Andrew and Monica walked in the open door.

Byers looked at Mulder, then Scully, then 'agents' Smith and Wesson, and
wondered just what had transpired between them in the time since his last
conversation with Mulder. Langley, too, watched the exchange, saw Byers'
confused and thoughtful expression, then asked Mulder, "What are they still
doing here? Can they be trusted?"

Monica looked at Andrew, who looked at Mulder and Scully and sighed. This
was truly going to be a long night. He was just about to launch into the
same explanation he gave Mulder when Mulder stopped him, saying "Maybe I
should explain this to them, Andrew."

He asked both Byers and Langley to sit down, then tried a few 'creative'
explanations. Not lying, mind you- after all, he was in the presence of
angels. He just tried to withhold some of the more outrageous truths.

Naturally, Byers and Langley didn't buy it for a minute. They knew every
person, place or event that was a part of the Brandon case, so the idea of
Monica and Andrew being 'shadow advisors' for the defense didn't exactly
wash. Mulder tried a few other things, but none of them worked. Andrew was
starting to get frustrated, and was about to start the 'light show' when
Scully, who was truly frustrated, blurted out, "Oh, why don't we just tell
them the truth and get on with it! Guys, these two are angels, who are
protecting us from some things on this case I can't even _begin_ to
describe to you."

Andrew and Mulder just stared at her open-mouthed. Mulder had _never_ heard
Scully admit to the existence of 95% of the things they came across in
their line of work, and to tell someone else about it was something she had
only done a very few times. Andrew was shocked that she would tell someone
something that even _he_ wasn't sure they would believe.

Surprisingly, the two Lone Gunmen looked at her with relief on their faces,
as if that explanation was the only one the two agents had tried so far
that made any sense. Byers then turned to Scully, raised an eyebrow and
asked, "Demons attacked you directly, did they?" replied Byers.

Mulder replied, "Yeah, how did you know?"

Byers simply stated, "Direct demonic attacks on a human are rare, but there
are many valid and documented cases, including one I personally witnessed
in Ashton." He then turned to Andrew and let an impressive bomb drop,
stating, "If you see Sigma and Mota any time soon, tell them I said hello.
Now, let's get down to business, shall we?" He then winked at Andrew and
sat down at the table.

After Andrew recovered from the shock of finding out that not only were the
two men in front of him familiar with angels, but that they knew two of his
old colleagues from Special Forces, he and the others agreed, and the group
sat down in various places around the room to discuss what they knew.

Hamelton Motor Inn
Room 6
6:30 a.m.

It had been a long night for all concerned, but they had definitely made
progress. Byers and Langley listened as Mulder and Scully filled them in on
the details of the case so far, and they made many connections to the
Brandon case. Langley also informed the group that The Omega Center for
Educational Studies was alive and well and working under the name of The
Alpha Learning Group. Byers also listened attentively as Mulder, Monica and
Andrew described their encounter with Kathleen and her 'underlings'. He
took notes and added them to his box on the Brandon case, but said very
little. Andrew tried to ask him about the confrontation he had seen in
Ashton, but all Byers did was smile enigmatically and reply, "Maybe I'll
tell you about it sometime after this is all over."

Scully heard Andrew and Mulder leave for their morning run a half-hour ago,
even though they seemed to be as quiet as possible in order to not disturb
Byers and Langley, who had crashed on their floor for the night. She had
only been able to sleep for a few hours herself, and then only fitfully.
The events of the past few days had been extremely disturbing for her, and
it was hard to accept the truths that had shaken her to the core of the
beliefs she had held for so many years. After last night, everyone knew
that today would be the breakthrough day for the case, and that knowledge
held a nervous anticipation that did not help Scully to relax at all.
Monica, sensing her roommate's tension, turned to face the other bed and
asked, "Couldn't sleep either, huh?" Scully shook her head. Monica then
asked, "Are you as nervous about today as I am?"

"Not really," replied Scully, "I guess I'm just overwhelmed. I grew up
going to church every Sunday, and I thought I believed in God and angels
and saints and all of that. When I got into pathology, though, and I saw
the things that people could do to each other, I guess I just lost my
ability to believe in a God who let these kind of things happen to people.
I came to believe that science held the answers to everything. When I
started to work with Mulder, that belief was challenged. Now, this case has
blown that belief right out of the water. I feel like I have no idea how to
handle the future now."

Monica nodded in empathy, and Scully was amazed at how much Monica
seemed to understand exactly how she felt. "Children find it so easy to trust.
When children grow up learning about God, they find it just as easy to
trust him as they do their own parents. As children grow up, though, they
find it harder and harder to keep that kind of trust, if they keep it all."

Scully added, "I guess it's a lot harder to get that trust back than it is
to lose it."

"Absolutely. But, for all of us to get through this case, that's exactly
what you're going to have to do."

Scully nodded in recognition, then swallowed hard. That wasn't the hardest
thing she had ever had to do for a case. She just didn't know how it was
going to happen. The air in the room started to feel a bit stifling to her,
so she decided that she needed to go get some air. As she pulled on sweats
and a t-shirt, she commented to Monica, "I'm going to go for a run. If you
want, go ahead and use the shower while I'm gone."

Monica sat up in bed and watched Scully leave before she could have a
chance to object to her human counterpart going for this run alone. As she
stared at the door that Scully had closed behind her, the angel quietly
prayed for God to protect and guide Scully to the answers she was looking
for.

End Chapter Seven

One, two, one, two, one, two, one, two...

The relentless pounding rhythm of the run was usually soothing to Scully,
especially during a tough case. She used it as a mantra; a meditation where,
with or without her partner, she could relax, and do some serious thinking.

Unfortunately, the only thing the run was doing for her today was making her
lightheaded and disoriented. So much of this case was beyond her realm of
'normal' that she didn't know what to believe, or where to begin. Their enemy
was, for the most part, invisible; their allies were -angels-, for pete's sake, and
something had taken control of her mind and she couldn't even understand what
it was! She thought back to Modell and how hard it was to talk the gun from
Mulder's hand; how he felt afterwards. "Now I understand, Mulder," she
muttered as she stopped her run, gasping for air, "Now I understand..."

That understanding, though, didn't help the frustration she felt. Even in the
strangest of cases, she was always able to find something that she had a tangible
explanation for, something that her scientific mind could hold on to and at least
-attempt- to rationalize. Everywhere she turned in this case, something came up
that she could find no explanation for. And -then- there were those things that
Mulder saw...she didn't know what to make of those.

Stopping again to catch her breath, she realized that she had run up one of the
hills outside of town. The view was breathtaking, but it wasn't what she wanted
to see. Mulder seemed to be having such an easy time with this case. Or at
least, he started having an easy time with this case when he realized someone
was praying for him... "Lord," she prayed, "Why can't I see things like he does,
just this once?"

"Because," replied a voice behind her, "Then you wouldn't be the woman that
your partner treasures so much. You'd be someone else."

Gasping, Scully turned around to see a tall, fair-haired stranger walking up
behind her. Dressed in khakis, he looked like an extra from the set of Bridge on
the River Kwai, except for the power hidden deep within his eyes. While the
young boy's eyes were cold as ice, reflecting only pain and fear, this stranger's
eyes were warm and kind. He seemed to radiate strength and wisdom from every
ounce of his being. "Who are you?"

Chuckling, the stranger replied, "An answer to prayer." Taking up Scully's hand
in his own, he bent down gallantly and kissed its top, introducing himself. "I am
Tal, Captain of the Heavenly Host. Or, as Andrew so succintly put it, the
'Angelic SWAT team'. I must say it is an honor to finally meet you face-to-face."

Scully stared at 'Tal' in disbelief. "You're -another- angel?"

Tal nodded. "God has granted me this opportunity to meet with you and allay
your doubts about your work on this case." At Scully's patented look of
skepticism Tal continued, "You feel like you are trying to fight against forces
that are beyond your understanding, correct?" Scully nodded, the skeptical
eyebrow still firmly in place.

"And while you are finding scientifically viable evidence that crimes have been
committed, the evidence doesn't point to anything that can be explained in
human terms, correct?" Again, Scully nodded, her skepticism wavering and her
caution growing. Evidently this 'Tal' knew details of this case that shouldn't have
gotten past her, her partner, Monica and Andrew. So either Monica, Andrew
and this gentleman were working for someone, as they had first suspected, or
else...

Attempting to close some of the remaining distance between them, Tal spoke
softly, his tone cautious, as though he knew he were about to broach a deeply
disturbing topic. "The demons' attack really shook you, didn't it? To have your
mind...violated by someone who looked so innocent. He slipped under your
defenses..."

Barely above a whisper, Scully completed Tal's words from her own heart.
"Because I couldn't see who they really were." The fear in her voice was
unmistakable, and she poured her heart out to the angel before she even truly
realized it. "Every time I start a case, I know without a doubt that I'm going out
there to catch 'the bad guy'. Even when it seems like we're dealing with the
'shadow forces' we've been fighting since day one, I -know- they're out there. We
just have to find them. But this time..."

Tal completed her thought, "All of the evidence seems to be pointing to very
human crimes, but without the possibility of a human suspect, and you think that
your inability to believe is hindering the investigation."

"Isn't it? Aren't I just getting in the way?"

Tal shook his head. "Dana, I need to show you something. Turn around."
Confused, Scully still complied with his request. Now facing their view of
Hamelton, Tal asked, "What do you see?"

"Houses, stores, streets, cars, a few people but they're pretty small from this
distance..."

Closing the distance between them, Tal placed a hand on Scully's shoulder.
"Now what do you see, Dana?"

Scully gasped at the abrupt change in her surroundings when Tal's hand met
with her shoulder. The peaceful little town of Hamelton below her suddenly
seemed far from peaceful. "There's a black canopy over the town. If I look close
enough, I can just make out some of those things...God, there must be thousands
of them..." Realizing what she just said, she quickly apologized, "No offense."

Tal chuckled lightly. "None taken. What else?"

Scully watched as a demon from the canopy dove to the town below. Following
the demon's path, she realized that nearly everyone she saw in town had some
sort of demon either trailing behind them or hovering over their heads. Taking
her eyes off the scene in front of her, she looked around to see if one of
those...things were following her without her knowledge. When she couldn't see
any of them, only Tal, she asked him, "Do demons follow humans like that all
the time?"

"You tell me," the angel replied, "What do you think?"

Turning her attention back toward the town, Scully watched a demon following
a man as he picked up his morning paper. Thinking carefully, she replied, "Not
all the time, then. But only when you're unhappy, angry, or scared, or doing
something you know isn't right."

Tal nodded his encouragement, even though he knew Scully couldn't see him
behind her. "That's as good an explanation as I could have given you."

"So how do you get a demon off your back?"

"The easiest way?" Scully nodded. "Pray for that man. Don't worry that you don't
know him, just pray that whatever is bothering him, God will intervene and
destroy the demon tormenting him."

Shrugging, Scully closed her eyes and did as she was asked, not entirely
understanding why. As soon as she opened them, a man dressed in attire
matching Tal's snuck up behind the demon and slit his throat. Red gas spewing
from cut, the demon let out an angry scream of pain, and flew away in a rage.
Not staying to savor his victory, the angel disappeared as quickly as he had
come, retreating into the shadows before the demon had taken to the air.

Scully took a step away from the scene she had just witnessed, confused. "I don't
understand, Captain. If there are more angels in town, why are the demons so
firmly in control?"

Tal replied, "Your partner explained to you the concept of 'prayer cover'?"

"Yes, he did," replied Scully.

"We don't have enough of it yet here in Hamelton. The prayer meeting last night
was a big boost for us, but the more consistent the prayer cover, the stronger we
are. Plus, the timing isn't quite right yet."

Scully turned around to face the angel. "What do you mean, the timing isn't
quite right yet?"

"Unlike angels," replied Tal, "Every demon has a human counterpart, through
whom he can work either directly or indirectly. We can't find the demons on our
own without tremendous prayer cover or until someone roots out that human
counterpart."

"And that's our job here in Hamelton?" Tal nodded.

Scully turned away from Tal, looking once again toward Hamelton. Her physical
contact with the angel broken, her mind's eye filled in the images of the evil that
her physical eyes could no longer see. Her concern for the town below her grew
by the second. "Are there enough angels here to handle things when the timing -
is- right?"

Placing his hand once again on Scully's shoulder, Tal smiled confidently. "See
for yourself."

The images in her minds eye matched up with what her physical eyes were
seeing the instant that Tal's hand rested on Scully's shoulder. Those dark
images, though, were counterbalanced by tiny paired dots of incredibly bright
light scattered throughout Hamelton. Looking out to the horizon and through the
surrounding area, Scully found hundreds of pairs of lights, scattered just wide
enough that you could only see them -if- you knew where to look. Scully was
amazed. "Each one of these pairs of lights is an angel?"

Slipping his hand away from Scully's shoulder so she could turn to face him, Tal
nodded. "Just as Andrew told you before, angels have always been with you on
your cases, though you may not always have seen them. But, in a fight like this,
we mobilize as many as we possibly can. They go into hiding until the time is
right."

Turning back to look over the town, Scully asked, "What happens when the time
is right?" When she received no answer, she turned around to repeat her
question to the captain...

...and found that the captain had disappeared. She called out,

"Captain? Captain?", but no one answered the call. Slightly confused, but also
filled with a renewed sense of purpose, Scully looked at her watch and quickened
her pace back to town. If she didn't get a move on, -she- was going to be the one
who was late to breakfast.

Sitting near the tops of the branches of a nearby tree, Tal and Guilo watched the
red-headed agent as she continued her run back to town. Tal couldn't help but
notice the confusion on his old friend's face. "You seem troubled, Guilo. Want to
talk about it?"

Guilo replied, "I was just surprised that you -chose- to reveal yourself to Dana.
Highly unusual tactic, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is. The things she's seen have confused her mind to the point where she
didn't know what to believe anymore. And since she's the one with real faith, we
need her to be strong for all that lies ahead. I simply did what was necessary to
strengthen that faith."

Guilo nodded in understanding, picking up on the implications of his captain's
statement. "It's coming, isn't it?"

Tal squeezed his friend's shoulder. Confidently, he leaned in and whispered,
"Soon, my friend. Very, very soon."

Hamelton Elementary School
10:00 a.m.

Scully was fighting off the urge to laugh as she walked beside her partner
through the front doors of the elementary school. After their conversation with
Tom Harris over breakfast, the group agreed that they should not approach the
school without a warrant, since it would be a surprise if anyone was willing to
cooperate with their investigation. Normally, she would have been the one to
object to asking for a warrant on so little evidence, but, after her morning
conversation with Captain Tal, she decided to try a little experiment. The minute
her partner got on the phone to Skinner, Scully prayed that they would get the
warrant, no questions asked.

Two minutes later, her partner had sat down at the table, his eyes wide with
disbelief. In a voice that was little more than a whisper, he declared, "We got the
warrant. It'll be waiting for us at the sheriff's office in ten minutes."

Monica and Andrew looked over to Mulder with wide-eyed surprise. "Really?
How did we get it so fast?"

"Apparently," replied Mulder, his voice gaining strength, "The judge our boss
called was familiar with Tom Harris' case. He granted the warrant almost
immediately."

Ever since that conversation, it had taken all of Scully's reserve to keep her face
cool, calm and collected. [It worked! Maybe there's hope for these kids after
all...]

Now, though, as they approached the school, Scully's mind quickly returned to
business, and she said a quick prayer that the warrant wouldn't be necessary.

Andrew and Monica shared a glance at each other as Mulder knocked on the
door. Even though the distracted agent hadn't noticed the expressions dancing
across his partner's face, the two angels had most definitely noticed, and they
couldn't help but wonder exactly -what- had happened to Scully during her
morning run.

They decided they'd have to ask her about it later, though, as Mulder's greeting
to the school secretary interrupted their musings. "Good morning, ma'am. I'm
Agent Mulder, my partners Agent Scully, Agent Smith, and Agent Wesson.
We're here to investigate the disappearances of several children in the area, and
I was hoping I could get some information from you."

"Of course," replied the cheerful, gray-haired secretary. "What would you like to
know?"

Mulder jumped right to the point. "Does your school teach any curriculums to
help children improve their self-esteem?"

The secretary's brow furrowed in confusion. "Not that I know of. However, each
teacher does have some freedom in what they teach their class outside of the
board's required curriculum, so I don't know if any particular teachers might be
teaching something unusual."

Flipping through her notebook to find the list of each of the missing child's
teachers, Monica asked, "Is there any way we could observe some of the
children's classes in action?"

"Of course," replied the secretary. "Whose classes would you like to observe?"

Glancing at Monica's notebook, Andrew offered, "How about we go to Miss
Janssen's class first? She was the teacher of the most recent girl to have
disappeared."

"Certainly," agreed the secretary. Looking at her watch, she informed the group,
"The class is at recess right now, so if you would like to wait a few minutes..."

"Actually," interjected Mulder, "This might be the perfect time for us to visit
that class. Scully, why don't you and Monica go out to the playground -- see
what you can pick up from seeing the kids interact with each other outside the
classroom. Andrew and I will go with Miss --?"

"McGillicuddy," the secretary cheerfully replied.

"Miss McGillicuddy," continued Mulder, "and see what we can find out from her
about her curriculum."

As they followed Miss McGillicuddy out of the office, Scully nudged Mulder to
get his attention. When they were a few steps away from the secretary, Scully
whispered, "Did you happen to notice that in a town where everybody knows
everybody, our Miss McGillicuddy didn't mention Sharon's name once in the
time we talked to her?"

Mulder nodded slightly. "Definitely makes you wonder, doesn't it?"

Scully nodded. Whispering a quick "Good luck" to her partner, Scully followed
Monica back out the doors to the playground while Andrew and Mulder followed
the curious secretary. Scully couldn't help but think, [Somehow I doubt they're
going to get anything out of Miss Janssen with -her- around...]

Shrugging off the negative impressions, Scully turned her attentions to the
playground, where a curious scene was unfolding before her. Of the thirty or so
children on the playground, only about five of them were playing. The rest were
lying on the ground near each other, heads touching, each in some stage of a
deep meditative trance.

"What do we do now?" whispered Monica.

Motioning to a nearby swingset, Scully shrugged, replying, "I guess we wait to
see who comes out of it first."

*****

Veronica Janssen carefully scrutinized the two agents trying to squeeze
themselves uncomfortably into desks meant for youngsters one-fourth their age.
Turning to the older woman still standing protectively at the entrance to her
classroom, the young teacher encouraged her, "Thank you, Miss McGillicuddy.
I'd like to speak to the two agents in private, if you don't mind."

Miss McGillicuddy continued to stand in the doorway, ever vigilant. "According
to district policy, Miss Janssen--"

Veronica cut off the older woman before she had a chance to finsh. Closing in
on the classroom door, she insisted, "I am aware of district policy, Miss
McGillicuddy, and in this case I do not believe that I need counsel, or for that
matter, a representative of the district here to assist me. These gentlemen are
here to find the missing children, nothing more, and since I am confident that I
did not have a hand in their disappearances, I have nothing to be afraid of, do
I?"

Having backed out of the doorway instinctually, Miss McGillicuddy replied,
"Well, it is certainly within your rights to do that, Miss Janssen, --"

Veronica cut her off as she shut the door, "Yes, it is, Miss McGillicuddy. Good
day." Sighing loudly, she turned back to the two handsome (and hopefully
single) men and apologized, "Forgive me, gentlemen, but Miss McGillicuddy
can be a bit of a pompous windbag. I had to get her out of here so we could talk
freely."

Andrew chuckled lightly in agreement, and Mulder brought the group down to
business. "It's our understanding that you were Sharon McLintock's teacher
before she disappeared, it that correct?"

Veronica nodded. "Yes."

"Did she exhibit any sort of...unusual behaviors prior to her disappearance?"

No longer able to sit comfortably in her spot on top the teacher's desk, Veronica
moved to the window and looked out at the playground.

Noticing the children deep in meditation and the two women standing guard
over them, Veronica called the two men over to the window. "Would you
consider that to be unusual behavior for first-graders at recess?"

It took every ounce of restraint that Andrew had not to run out of the classroom
to the playground; a restraint solely based in the knowledge that those with him
didn't see the hoarde of demons playing with each child's mind and whispering
sweet deceptions in their ears. His part was to help Mulder in any way he could;
not rip those demons off of those children and send them off into oblivion, no
matter how much he wanted to. The helplessness he felt was overwhelming.
Noticing the concerned look on Mulder's face, though, he shook off the thoughts
and brought his focus back to Veronica. Feigning ignorance, Andrew asked,
"What are they doing?"

"They're in some sort of meditative trance," replied Veronica bitterly, "At first I
didn't mind. It even lit a spark of creativity under some of the children who had
been painfully shy before."

"And now?" asked Mulder.

"They're all discipline problems. Every single last one of them. They talk out of
turn in class-usually swearing. I don't think they listen to a word I say, and every
once in a while, one of them will just get up and start running around the room.
Within five minutes, six are following him."

"And you can't control them, even by force?" asked Mulder.

Still looking out the window at the few good kids she had who were playing on
the slide, Veronica sighed. "I tried once. Would you believe me if I told you that
six year-old child nearly threw me clear across the room?"

Through clenched teeth, Andrew replied, "Oh, I believe you, all right. I most
definitely believe you."

Veronica turned away from the window to look at Andrew. The surprise in her
voice was evident. "You -do-? Everyone else thought I was crazy."

Getting back to the subject at hand, Mulder asked, "What about Sharon? Was
she a part of the group as well?"

Veronica nodded solemnly. "Yes, she was. Such a great kid before all this
started. But after she got involved with that group..." The teacher sighed
deeply. "In some ways she was worse than the others. She wouldn't eat snack,
she wouldn't listen, she never turned in her homework, and every word out of
her mouth was either a swear word or a lie. I was just about to call her parents
in for a conference when - "

Realizing this was the perfect time, Andrew asked, "Do you know who's
teaching the children these techniques, Ms. Janssen?"

Immediately, Veronica blurted out, "I'm not sure..." After a few moments of
silence, though, she exclaimed, "Wait! I remember one of the kids saying
something about going over to a Mr. Gregorson's for 'playtime' after school.
Since -all- of them seemed to recognize the name I can only assume that's him."

Mulder worked hard to keep the excitement out of his voice as he realized they
finally had a solid lead. Instead, he politely told Veronica, "Thank you very
much, Ms. Janssen. You've been a great help." Handing her a business card,
Mulder added, "If you can think of anything else that might help us, my cell
phone number's on the back."

"Well, I don't know how much help I've been, but thank you anyway." She took
the card as she led the two agents to the door. "Do you think Sharon's okay?"

Andrew nodded. "She will be, Ms. Janssen. We'll get her back soon, I promise
you that."

For the first time in weeks, Veronica Janssen's face lit up in a bright smile. "In
that case, call me Veronica."

"Well, Veronica," cut in Mulder, "We really need to get going. Thank you for
your time."

"Anytime, Agent Mulder. Anytime." As she watched the two agents head out to
intercept their colleagues on the playground, Veronica did something she hadn't
done in years.

She prayed.

*****

Martha McGillicuddy thanked all the gods in the universe that years of good
nutrition and very good genetics had blessed her with great hearing. Standing in
the hallway just outside of Veronica Janssen's classroom, the older secretary
pulled out a cellphone. "Gary? It's Martha. I think we've got a problem."

*****

Angelos danced gleefully down the halls of Hamelton Elementary school. The
Captain of the Host was smart, but, this time, he had finally underestimated his
opponent. Did he not think that two humans snooping around with two -angels-
at their guard wouldn't act like a warning beacon to him of what was to come?
Especially when the angels so carelessly revealed themselves. No, this time he
was fully ready for Captain Tal and the pathetically small group stationed in
Hamelton. [And this time,] he thought, [It will be the Heavenly Hosts who will
be in for the shock of the ages...]

*****

Scully was usually a patient woman, even in the best of circumstances, but
watching two dozen children under the influence of some psychotic hypno-
suggestion and simply 'waiting' for one of them to come out of it was starting to
grate on her last nerve. Turning to the angel sitting next to her she sighed,
"This has gone on long enough. I'm going to wake one of them..."

"Wait!" exclaimed Monica, "You don't know what it would do to the children."

"Well, what do you suggest we do? We can't wait here forever."

A familiar voice behind them replied, "Well, we -could- go follow up on this
lead, but if you want to keep on waiting, go ahead..."

Scully nearly jumped off the swing at the sound of Mulder's voice. "What have
you got, partner?"

"Miss Janssen overheard the children discussing their other 'teacher'. She gave
us a name, but she didn't have anything else."

"Well, at least we -have- a name now," replied Scully, grateful to finally have a
human foe to focus her energies on.

"I agree. We should split up, check with the teachers at the other schools. An-"
Realizing what he was about to say, Mulder stopped himself. "-Scully-, why
don't you and I work on the Thomas children's school. Monica, Andrew, you'll
take the Jones children's school?" At Monica and Andrew's nod, Mulder
encouraged them, "All right then, we'll meet at Myrtle's in an hour. I want to
make sure Tess is aware of what's going on before we go in there. Let's go."

*****

Myrtle's
11:30 am

Myrtle looked over at Tess for what had to have been the fifth time that morning
as the other woman wiped down tables in preparation for the incoming lunch
crowd. Even though Tess had only been working for her for a few days, the two
women had started to build a warm, caring friendship. And it didn't take a
rocket scientist to tell that Tess had something on her mind. Leaving her own
rag on the counter, Myrtle crossed the length of the restaurant and laid a hand
on the other coman's shoulder. "Tess," she asked, "Are you okay?"

Tess had been so distracted by thoughts of her two young charges that she hadn't
noticed Myrtle was nearby until the woman spoke. Taking a moment to calm
down, Tess smiled warmly at her new friend. "I'll be all right, Myrtle. I've just
got some things on my mind."

"Anything I can help with?"

"No," sighed Tess. "Just make sure you pray for those kids. That'll be help
enough."

Now Myrtle was confused. Sure, everyone in town was worried about those
kids-had been for weeks. But Tess had only been in town for two days. "Tess, is
there something you're not telling me?"

Before Tess could come up with a truthful answer, Mulder, Scully, Monica and
Andrew rushed into the restaurant, heading straight for the older angel.
Politely, Tess turned to Myrtle and asked, "Will you excuse me, Myrtle? I think
they're looking for me."

Her questions unanswered, Myrtle was barely able to exclaim, "But-" before Tess
was already off in a corner with the four agents. After a few moments of intense
conversation, Tess turned back to her friend and called out, "Myrtle, can you
handle lunch without me? There's something important I've got to take care of."

"Sure," replied Myrtle immediately, "But-"

Before Myrtle had a chance to get out another sentence, though, Tess had
already replied, "Thanks, Myrtle!" and run out the door after the rest of the
group, who piled into one car and sped away. Realizing that she wasn't going to
get her questions answered -yet-, Myrtle simply sighed and picked up her
cleaning rag, once again saying another prayer for those children...and throwing
in a prayer for Tess along with it. "Whatever she's doing," mumbled Myrtle,
"Keep an eye on her, Lord. I have a feeling she's going to need the backup."
Then she picked up the phone. "Tom? It's Myrtle from the diner. You left me
one of those cards about the prayer meeting a while back...anyway, y'all met,
right? You're still praying? Great. Can you make sure everyone's praying right
now?" Staring out the window at the Taurus now speeding away from the
parking lot, Myrtle insisted, "I just have this feeling that something big's about
to happen very, very soon."

*****

Tal and Guilo watched the two agents and three angels speed away from the
diner, Tal's satisfied smile a stark contrast to Guilo's barely contained
excitement. Everything was falling into place, Guilo was sure of it. It -had- to
be time! But Guilo also knew full well that this was -not- his call. He turned to
his friend and Captain, only to see the older angel barely containing his
laughter. Confused, Guilo asked, "What is it, Captain?"

"You, old friend," replied Tal, chuckling, "You're always bouncing with a child's
joy just before a battle."

"So is it time?" asked Guilo, the excitement in his heart building rapidly.

"Yes," replied Tal. "It is time. Sound the call."

"With pleasure, Captain. With pleasure." Lifting the long trumpet up from just
under the ground, Guilo blew out a resounding blast that shook the heavens as
both angels revealed themselves in full glory, robes and wings glistening in the
noonday sun. Raising his sword, Tal followed the trumpet blast with a call that
brought all the Heavenly Host to it's feet:

"For the Saints of God and for the Lamb!"

When the two angels heard the resounding call echo throughout the area, they
took to the air, following the agents to their battleground.

*****

From the minute Mulder pulled out of the diner parking lot, he started to
describe exactly how they were going to rescue the children, whom he believed
were being held somewhere on the grounds of Gary Gregorson's two acres of
property. "Okay, here's the plan. Scully and I will confront the suspect and
question him while Monica and Andrew search the house..."

Andrew's voice called from the back seat, "Mulder, stop the car."

Undaunted, Mulder continued, "Scully, call Judge Warrington in Washington.
Tell him you're working with me and explain the situation. We'll get the war--"

"MULDER, STOP THE CAR NOW!" yelled Andrew.

Shocked by the loud voice behind him, Mulder reflexively hit the brakes.
Grateful that there had been no other cars on the road, the agent pulled over.

Before he could turn around to yell at the angel, though, the three angels had
already jumped out of the car, apparently listening to something neither he nor
Scully could hear. By the time the two agents had caught up, it had begun to
feel like they were intruding on a very private moment between three old
friends...

A single tear rolled down Monica's cheek. "Do ya really have ta' go, Andrew?"

Andrew's tears flowing freely, he wiped them away from his cheeks as he
nodded. "From the moment we touched down in Hamelton I knew why I had
been called here. That call means it's time."

Her own voice choking with emotion, Tess declared, "Well, you best be sure and
come back to us, Angel-boy. We still need you around here, you know."

Turning away from the sound of the call to face his friends, Andrew swept up
the older angel in a fierce hug, barely able to whisper, "I promise, Tess. I
promise."

Turning back to face the call now ringing in the angels' ears, Andrew felt the
familiar weight on his back. He knew now what he had to do. Pulling the gilt-
edged sword from its sheath, his wings spread out to their full breadth as he
responded to the call by echoing it, "For the Saints of God and for the Lamb!"
The angel then leapt into the air, his wings carrying him along the strengthening
wind, and in a flash of light, he was gone.

Mulder turned to his partner and couldn't help but notice the awestruck look on
her face that he was sure matched his own. "Did you -see- that, Scully?"

Finding her voice again, Scully replied, "Yeah, Mulder. I don't believe it, but I
saw it."

Mulder's expression changed from one of awe to one of surprised satisfaction.
"Great! I'm not the only one this time." He knew that only meant they would be
arguing about the event for years to come, but he was looking forward to -that-
part. For now, he simply relished the fact that, for once, they had been able to
share in the experience. Nudging his partner back to the car, Mulder
encouraged, "C'mon Scully. They can't help us if we don't help ourselves."
Turning his attention to the two remaining angels, who hadn't moved since their
friend had left, Mulder called to them, "Tess! Monica! Don't just stand there!
We've got work to do!"

*****

The wind ran freely through Andrew's hair as he flew across the countryside.
He had always loved flying...but now was not the time to revel in simple
pleasures. At Bacon's Corner his batallion had clear orders, direction as to what
they were to do. Today he had no such direction...sure enough, Guilo and Tal
were just ahead of him. Racing to catch up, he called out, "Captain!"

Without turning back, Tal called out to greet his old comrade. "Andrew! Glad
you could join us!"

"Yes," chimed in Guilo, "I believe the human expression is, 'Welcome to the
party...pal?'"

Andrew chuckled. The Lieutenant never did use human slang all that
well...[Kind of like Monica.] "Captain, what are my orders? Am I to join up
with my old batallion?"

"No," replied Tal, "The children are being held in the basement, each one of
their souls restrained by seven strong demons. Monica and Tess are going to be
sent in to retrieve the children's human forms. Your orders are to make sure that
the demons are in no shape to follow. Guilo will help you while I take care of
Angelos."

Calling out with confidence, Andrew responded, "Consider it done, Captain!"

"Then let's not waste time," ordered the Captain. Stretching his right arm
further in front of him, the Captain disappeared in a rush of light an wind.
Letting out their own whoops of excitement, Andrew and Guilo soon followed.

*****

Jeff Materian paced in front of Hamelton's only police car, hoping the Feds
wouldn't pass right by him. This was the only route they could have taken to get
to Gregorson's house, and he wasn't about to let them go in and handle
something in -his- town without him standing right there next to them.

Besides, in his hands he held the one piece of paper they couldn't go on without.
The search warrant. If it hadn't been for the stupid battery in the stupid cruiser...

"God," he prayed, "Don't let me have missed them." Laughing, he realized that
must have been the fifteenth 'quickie' prayer he had prayed that morning, which
amounted to more times than he had prayed in his entire life to this point.
[Anything to get those kids back.]

Moments later he saw the blue Taurus speeding toward him. Waving his arms
wildly, he didn't stop trying to attract their attention until the car pulled up
behind his own. Moments later the male agent [What was his name again? Oh,
right...Mulder] got out of the car and walked toward him. Before the man could
ask him any questions, though, Jeff volunteered his own information. "Agent
Mulder, I wanted to make sure I got to you before you got to the house. This
warrant just came in for you."

Mulder looked down at the pieces of paper the sheriff had just thrust in his
hands. "A warrant for the arrest of Gary Gregorson and for the search of his
premises...yes, everything appears to be in order. Thank you, Sheriff."

"You're welcome," replied Jeff. "Now, since my car is a little conspicuous,
would you mind giving me a lift to Gregorson's house?"

Mulder's eyes widened slightly. He had no idea what they were going to see
when they got to Gregorson's house. Bringing the two angels into the situation
was one thing, but this... "Sheriff Materian, while I appreciate your going out of
your way to make sure all the paperwork was in order, this is a Federal
investigation-"

Jeff was prepared for the argument. "I am aware of that, Agent Mulder, but I am
also aware that you are about to apprehend a potentially dangerous felon, and
I'm your only backup within ten miles." Unable to take no for an answer, Jeff
simply headed toward the car. Turning back to face the bewildered agent, Jeff
simply suggested, "Shall we go?"

[Would someone like to tell me -when- I lost total control over this
investigation?] thought Mulder. Immediately he answered his own mental
question. [Oh. Right. Sorry.] Shrugging his shoulders in defeat, he simply
motioned for the sheriff to get into the car.

*****

Outside the newly abandoned cruiser, a tall, powerful man was sitting atop the
car's trunk, having a good laugh with two of his colleagues. Tossing his long,
blond hair away from his face, Mercurius asked his new comrades, "So,
Lieutenant Sigma, should I let them out now?"

The older angel cocked his head to the side slightly, listening to see if the car
holding the agents and angels was safely on its way. Smiling with satisfaction,
he hopped off the trunk with the assumption that the other two angels would
follow his lead. "Open the trunk, Mercurius."

"With pleasure, Sir," declared the younger angel. Tapping on the trunk to get it
open, Mercurius and Mota soon pulled out two of the ugliest demons the angels
had ever seen. Their leathery black wings had been covered with a slimy film
that bore a resemblance to both crude oil and toxic waste. Both demons were
scrawny things, with frail-looking arms and limbs that belied their surprising
power. Watching the two demons now cowering before him, Mercurius became
grateful that he did not have the humans' sense of smell. The odors coming
from the foul red vapors these two breathed could not be pleasant. Every minute
that Mercurius spent with the pair made him all the more grateful for
Hamelton's newly strengthened prayer cover. He would have hated to face these
two empty-handed on a battlefield.

As it was, though, that was not something he was going to have to trouble
himself with. A moment after the two demons were liberated from their prison,
Mota beheaded one of them into oblivion and the other was being grabbed at the
neck by Sigma. Fighting with all of his great might to keep control over the
slimy demon for the moment, the older angel declared, "I'm going to send you
back to your master now, prick. But I want you to take him a message from us."
Turning to the younger angel of his two charges, Sigma called out, "Mercurius?
Would you care to give our little friend here your message?"

"With pleasure, sir." Pulling out his gilt-edged sword, Mercurius proceeded to
carefully carve the image of a cross into the demon's arm. When the monster's
roaring howls had died down to whimpering sobs, Hamelton's angel held the
sword to the demon's throat as he declared, "Pride goes before destruction,
demon. That is what is has happened to your friend, it is what it will happen to
you, and it is what will happen to your master very, very soon. Hamelton
belongs to the Almighty, and we -will- reclaim it. That is my message. Deliver
it quickly."

As Mercurius sheathed his sword and turned his back on the demon, Sigma
flung the offending survivor to the skies. Turning back to those who had set him
free, the demon hissed, "You have not heard the last from me, angels. Be
assured of -that-."

Rolling his eyes, Mercurius grumbled, "Of that I have no doubt, demon. Of that
I have no doubt." Bringing his attention back to his comrades, Mercurius' focus
changed immedately. "So, I take it the battle is not over?"

Sigma let out a low whistle at the angel's innocence. Obviously this was a first
fight for him. "On the contrary, my friend. It has only just begun."

Nodding his understanding, Mercurius followed the lead of the two older angels
as they disappeared with a leap in the air and a flash of brilliant light.

*****

As Andrew touched down in the field behind the Gregorson house, he had
prepared himself to see many things; the horrors of battle that he had seen so
long ago. He assured himself that even though the battle around him would be
intense, God had given him instructions to carry out, and he would be ready to
follow by whatever means necessary.

He was hardly prepared for the scene that lay before him.

If there were any other angels within five miles of the complex besides himself,
Tal, and Guilo, Andrew definitely could not see them. Instead, all he saw were
demons. Thousands of them, it seemed. And the biggest one stood front and
center. Seven feet tall, he was probably about two feet across the chest with his
muscular build alone. And that didn't include the leathery black wings folded
behind him which could have shielded six of his men when fully outstretched.

But the demon's imposing form wasn't the key toward the revelation of his
identity. No, that key was written all throughout the demon's arrogant grin. It
was, apparently, a look that Tal recognized as well. "Angelos, I presume?"

"Captain Tal!" exclaimed the demon. "How wonderful to meet the angel of such
great reputation face-to-face." Turning to two of his men, Angelos stretched out
a bony claw finger and pointed it in the direction of the angels, a silent capture
order.

Instantly Guilo's and Andrew's swords were drawn, ready and waiting to send
any demon who crossed their paths into oblivion. Tal's hands on theirs, though,
stopped both angels from starting the fight. Moments later the angels felt their
wings forcibly folded and their hands painfully pushed behind their backs.
With a wave of his claw, the angels were being pushed and shoved, taunted,
teased and abused by those who sought to go against God with every rancid
breath. The temptations to be angry or afraid were there, teasing at the edges of
Andrew's consciousness. Did he come so far only to end up being swallowed
into oblivion?

It was then that he saw it. Out of the corner of his eye, a small light pierced the
overpowering darkness, and Andrew had to fight back the urge to smile.
Whatever was going to happen to him in the next few moments was simply part
of God's plan to save those children.

The armies of God were on their way.

*****

Mulder had to shake off an attack of goosebumps as he emerged from the car
less than a block from the home of Gary Gregorson. As his partner came up
beside him, Mulder asked, "Are you feeling the same thing I'm feeling, Scully?"

Scully nodded. "It's too quiet. No breeze, no animals, not even a mosquito
buzzing. It's eerie."

Mulder nodded his agreement even as he squinted while watching the bright,
sunlit scene. "Kinda feels like walking into a graveyard at midnight."

Scully shrugged in response. "Not like we haven't done that before."

Jeff Materian, Tess and Monica climbed out of the back seat, feeling the same
sense of dread hanging over Mulder and Scully. Jeff shivered and stuffed his
hands in the pocket of his jacket, while Monica whispered over to her
supervisor, "Have you been praying, Tess?"

"Every chance I get, baby," Tess whispered in reply. "Every chance I get."

Once the group was assembled, they moved silently toward the house, not
wanting to disturb its occupants for fear that they would escape, possibly with
the children in tow. Mulder, Scully and Jeff kept their hands on their weapons
as a precaution as they ascended the stairs to the front porch. When everyone
was in position, Mulder knocked on the door. He yelled to anyone who might be
inside, "Gary Gregorson? Mr. Gregorson, we know you're in there. FBI, we
have a warrant to search these premises. Open the door."

*****

Many had a difficult time remembering what had come first. Some said it was
the blinding light that enveloped their very being and prodded them in relentless
pain. Others said it was the roaring battle cry that stung them in the very depths
of their being. Whatever it was they believed--none of them would ever forget
the battle that followed.

If they were fortunate enough to live through it.

One minute the demons were enjoying the very heights of power and strenght,
pushing around three of the most powerful of 'angels' like they were mortal. The
next minute, though, those three were forgotten as it seemed the entire host of
heaven had fallen out of the sky to come to their rescue.

The weakest of demons perished quickly, disintegrated either by the blinding
light of so many angels in full glory or by the equally punishing power of their
many swords. Those who had lived through a few battles fared better, possibly
getting in three or four blows with their own swords before losing their heads to
one of heaven's warriors.

As the cloud of red smoke rose high above the battlefield to be carried away by
the winds, the strongest among the demons let out a collection of painful sighs.
It was going to be a -very- long day.

*****

[One human saying can definitely hold true here,] thought Andrew, [Never look
a gift horse in the mouth.] Tal, Guilo and Andrew used the chaos caused by the
arrival of the angelic armies to make their way into the house. Tal had seen
Angelos slip away unnoticed when the battle first began, and he swore that the
demon would -not- get away from him. Whispering a quick goodbye to his
comrades as they went down to the cellar for the children, Tal raced ahead,
finally cornering Angelos in the living room. "It's over, Angelos. Hamelton
belongs to God, and we're taking it back!"

Raising his sword over his head, Angelos countered the angel's attack with one
of his own, roaring, "Not without a fight you're not!"

As the Angelic Captain and the Demonic Lord fought for control, Tal was
strengthened by hearing a human voice outside the door calling, "Gary
Gregorson? Mr. Gregorson, we know you're in there. FBI, we have a warrant to
search these premises. Open the door."

*****

Kathleen was enjoying herself beyond limits. At first she had toyed with the
human child, coaxing her into a little game of 'imaginary friend' by pretending
to be a cuddly living teddy bear who would crawl up into her mental lap as the
child meditated. While it was a plesant pasttime to be playing such an innocent
deception, Kathleen and her friends, who appeared to the child as other
'wilderness creatures', were not satisfied, but they stayed within the restrictions
ordered by Lord Angelos.

But then her master put their plan into action. Each of the Generals started to
appear in human form to their young charges, building a friendship of sorts,
while the meditations continued to cloud the children's minds. Then, slowly so
as not to arouse suspicion, the children were taken, one by one. Nothing was left
behind but the rotting corpses of the humans that had given these children life.
At that point, Lord Angelos allowed each of his Generals to work with six other
demons and torment each child as they saw fit.

And so chaos reigned in that little basement as each of the demons pushed and
shoved and fought for the chance to play some little 'trick' in the mind of one of
the children. Some worked quickly, rushing the children's minds with images
that were so violent it would leave the child retching bile when they pulled away.
Others were far more deceptive, preferring at first to use soothing images of
peace and tranquility and then twisting the images piece by piece until the child
was left screaming in agony, tortured as they re-lived the murders of their
parents by they own hands. The younger children had already descended into
the depths of madness, and their stronger, older siblings would be following any
day now. Kathleen laughed in ecstasy as she brought the last horrifying
moments of Jessica McLintock's life into her child's mind and she screamed in
pain once more. The power that was flowing through the room and coursing
through her veins was like nothing she had ever felt in her life. "Not even that
little tramp Monica could stop me now!" she cried in delight.

"No," boomed a voice behind her, "But I can."

Kathleen turned around, confused. [Why does that voice sound so familiar?]
Immediately squinting in the face of the radiant vision before her, three things
instantly fell into place in her mind: one-Andrew was the familiar voice behind
her; two - the reason his voice could boom so loud was because he wasn't just a
case worker, but stood before her in the full glory of one of the Heavenly Host;

and three - from the look on Andrew's face, she was one dead demon if she
didn't do some very -fast- talking and soon. Just as she was about to open her
mouth to speak, though, Andrew cut her off, grabbing her by the lapels of her
black leather jacket. "Listen to me, Kathleen, and listen good," he growled, "I
should send you into oblivion right now because of the things you have done to
that child, but because Monica still holds out -some- hope that you'll come back,
I won't. -However-, I can't speak for my comrades, so if you don't get out of
Hamelton -right- now-"

Kathleen shook her head. "You don't have to tell -me- twice," she assured him
in a nervously shaking voice. "If I'm lucky our paths won't cross again for a
long, long time. See ya." And in a flash, she was gone, leaving Andrew to face
the six now sniveling demons who were waiting for their turns with young
Sharon McLintock. Only one even bothered to put up a fight before Andrew's
sword dispatched all six demons of their heads and turned them all into clouds
of black and red smoke.

By this point, the battle raging above their heads was unmistakable, and hearing
the sounds of their falling comrades was sending the demons in the basement
into a full panic. They rushed the exits in a desperate attempt to be spared from
the fate of their comrades above, only to be stopped at every turn by two
immovable columns of light and their powerful gilt-edged swords.

*****

"Mr. Gregorson?" Mulder was getting frustrated. Had Gregorson somehow
been tipped off to their presence? Was he already gone? They couldn't even be
a hundred percent certain that the children were in the hou...the sound of a half-
dozen blood-curdling screams cut off that thought. Those kids were in there,
and whatever was happening to them, their lives were obviously in danger.

Taking two steps back from the door, he kicked in the wooden obstacle only to
be met by a hail of bullets raining down on them. The group ducked for the
nearest available cover and Mulder, Scully and Jeff returned fire, trying to hit
whomever it was that was firing at them from the top of the stairwell.

Mulder tried to give orders over the loud explosions around them. "Tess,
Monica, can this stuff affect you guys?"

Tess shook her head. "Not unless we get shot."

Mulder rolled his eyes. That was -not- what he needed to hear. "Can you still
go after those kids, like we planned?" Tess nodded, and Mulder continued, "All
right, start with the basement, then. We'll cover you as best we can, then we'll
go after Gregorson."

Tess nodded, and nudged Monica's shoulder, working to keep the frightened
angel focused on her purpose. "C'mon Monica. Be ready to go on my signal."

Swallowing down her fear, Monica nodded. When Tess saw Mulder and Jeff
ready to provide cover fire next to her, Tess ordered, "Now!" and pushed Monica
forward toward the basement.

The sounds of gunfire still ringing in their ears, Monica and Tess found the
basement doors and descended the stairs only to find a sight more disturbing
than anything either had seen in a long, long time. The children were still in the
bedclothes they were taken in, but the clothes had long ago been covered head to
toe in all kinds of nauseating filth. Each child lay unrestrained on the bed, but
none of them made any effort to get up. Instead each child tossed violently in
the bed, writhing and screaming in a way that shook each of the angels to the
core of their being. Whatever it was that had a hold of the children, they needed
to get those kids out of there and -fast-.

Looking around the dark basement, Monica was barely able to whisper, "How
are we going to get these kids out of here, Tess? We certainly can't take them
back through -that-."

Hearing the sounds of gunfire still being exchanged behind them, Tess nodded
her agreement. "God will provide us a way, baby. I'm sure of it."

The children's screams were quieted by a loud creaking noise on the other side of
the room. As Tess and Monica watched the column of light widen in the
darkened space, they realized that is was a door leading from the cellar to the
field behind the house. Their opportunity had arrived.

Tess had to fight off the urge to laugh. "There's our chance, angel-girl," she
declared. "Now let's get these kids out of here!"

Monica nodded her agreement, and ran across the room. Climbing up the
ladder, she made her way out the doorway and into the bright sunlight. Turning
back to face the darkened stairwell, she heard Tess call out from the basement,
"All right, Monica, I'll pass each child off to you as I can get to them."

"All right," she called back. Within moments the first child was in her arms.
Cradling her precious cargo, she scanned the field, and saw the perfect patch of
green grass not more than ten feet from the house. Running with the child in
her arms proved difficult, but she was able to manage, and soon the young girl
was resting comfortably, her cries finally quieted now that some distance had
been put between her and the house.

Turning around to go back for the other children, Monica felt a warm, gentle
breeze blow past her, the first one she had felt that day. Following the direction
of the wind with her eyes, she saw Andrew, still in the full glory of the Heavenly
Hosts, cradling the girl in his arms and singing to her softly.

Confidence now growing like wildfire within her soul, she turned back and
raced toward the cellar door. [The sooner we can get those kids out of there, the
better.]

*****

As another bullet whizzed by Mulder and Scully's position on the other side of
the front door, Mulder reloaded his gun and prayed one more time for his
ammunition to hold out. "Well whoever is shooting at us," he yelled over the
gunfire, "He was definitely prepared for a fight."

Scully couldn't help but nod her agreement. They were pinned to the spot by a
hail of bullets, having barely been able to provide enough cover to get Tess and
Monica past the stairwell and into the living room. With any luck, they had
found the basement already. Scully yelled to her partner, "Any suggestions?"

"I thought I saw a steplader outside the house leading to an open window on the
second floor when we came in here," replied Mulder. "If I go to check it out,
can you handle things here?"

Scully and Jeff both nodded. Scully replied, "Good luck, partner. And watch
your back. If anyone's going to shoot you, I'd rather it be me, not Gary
Gregorson."

Checking to see how many rounds he had left in his gun, Mulder leaned his
head briefly against the wall, chuckled lightly at Scully's bad joke, prayed once
again for himself and the partner he was leaving behind, and raced away from
the porch to the side of the house.

*****

Angelos let out a low whistle of surprise. "You're a better swordsman than I
thought, Tal. I thought all these years as a leader would have made you soft."

Tal continued to fight, looking for any weakness in Angelos' skills. He heard
Dana and the other humans caught in a firefight nearby. He could only assume
that gaining the upper hand on Angelos would give them the break they needed.
So quickly, silently, Tal ignored the demon's verbal barbs and countered every
attack that Angelos tried to use. He just hoped that the strong prayer cover
would give him and the humans the strength to endure.

*****

Every shot that rang through the air was like a pinprick of pain to Mulder's
heart. He had just gone off and left his partner alone, again, to face a dangerous
criminal while he ran off on a wild goose chase. Would that weaken the prayer
cover enough to put her in danger? The thought of putting her at that level of
risk stopped him in his tracks...

[...Whether you're physically together, mentally together, or emotionally
together, your prayer cover is strong...]

[...If anyone's going to shoot you, I'd rather it be me, not Gary Gregorson...]

Mulder realized that since Scully had agreed to the plan, they were mentally
together this time, and their prayer cover hadn't been affected. So, since that
thought had to come from somewhere..."Give it a rest, you guys," addressing the
demons he -knew- were in the area, "It's not going to work this time."

As a warm breeze swept past his face, Mulder smiled, certain in his heart that
the demons were gone, and pulled down the ladder to get to the second floor.

*****

The fight still blazed on ferociously, but Tal sensed a change in the air. Their
side was gaining the upper hand, he was sure of it. Even the air around him felt
lighter. Renewed, he pressed his attack forward, knowing his -own- victory
could not be far behind.

For the first time in his existence, Angelos could feel fear creeping in, eating
away at the edges of his soul. The foolish human he had been stupid enough to
ally himself with was running out of ammunition, and was starting to advance
his position in a last-ditch hope that he could take down the officer and agent
below. Behind him, Angelos could hear the quiet slide of the window that
alerted him to the presence of a sneak attack that would certainly catch
Gregorson unprepared. And while his arms were starting to grow weary with a
physical heaviness, the angelic captain seemed to be advancing on him with
renewed strength.

Eyes darting around in a furious attempt to catalog his surroundings, Angelos
started looking for a way out.

*****

The second floor was quiet in comparison to the explosions of gunfire going on
below. Mulder moved quickly and quietly, praying constantly that he wouldn't
hit a creaking floorboard or some other noise that would alert Gregorson to his
presence.

Finally, Mulder had the shooter in his sights, now understanding why the
gunfire down below had been so consistent. Two shooters, Gary Gregorson and
Martha McGillicuddy, were perched at the top of the stairs, one providing cover
while the second re-loaded. To Mulder's advantage, though, both shooters were
working from the same side of the wall, making it impossible for one to get the
drop on him when he trained his weapon on the other.

*****

Resigned to his imminent defeat, Angelos realized that the open window the
human Mulder had used to get into the house was the perfect way for him to get
-out- of the house. Darting around to spin behind the angelic captain, he
shuffled his feet back toward the open window, Tal close at his heels. Finally
reaching the window, Angelos turned his back on the captain and jumped
through the open portal. With Tal too surprised to try and follow him, Angelos
called out to his opponent, "Until we meet again, captain!"

Knowing that Satan was not going to let someone who was responsible for a
defeat of this magnitude live for very long, Tal allowed himself to laugh as the
demon flew away. "I doubt we will, Angelos. I doubt we will."

*****

The explosions from Gregorson's and McGillicuddy's weapons meant that they
never heard Mulder coming until he yelled from behind them, "FREEZE! FBI!
LOWER YOUR WEAPONS!"

Not willing to risk finding out exactly -which- one of them Mulder was closest
to, both shooters lowered their weapons, finally allowing Scully and Jeff the
opportunity they needed to get up the staircase and apprehend their suspects.

Not knowing the position of his partner and the sheriff, Mulder ordered the two
shooters, "Drop your weapons and put your hands where I can see them!" Gary
Gregorson's gun landed with a clack on the floor, but Martha McGillicuddy's
gun seemed to end up in the right place at the right time, for as it dropped, it
started to roll down the stairs, hitting just in the right position to fire off one
more round-sending Scully down the stairs in its wake.

Tess squinted as her eyes adjusted to the change from darkness to light. Her
mind, though, was still focused. "That's the last child, Monica. Let's bring him
over to his sister."

"Okay," whispered Monica. Cradling the child in her arms, she walked slowly
toward the children's resting area, letting the child be enveloped in as much of
the warm, soothing, healing breeze as she could.

Tess was confused. "Why are we whispering? Have any of the children come out
of this yet?"

A brief look of sadness flashed across Monica's face as she shook her head.
Then the warm look of contentment returned to her face as she replied, quietly,
"I didn't want to disturb any of them."

Letting her eyes follow in the direction that Monica was leading her, Tess
gasped as she took in the sight before her. Each one of the children was being
attended to by one of the Heavenly Host, their wings providing a sheltering
cocoon where the healing process could now begin. Some of the angels had
white bowls sitting in front of them and they were carefully bathing their
charges, trying to get some of the dirt removed from children's bodies. Others
were brushing the hair of their little girls, working to make the children look
presentable even though none had awakened from their catatonic state. And in
the middle of it all sat Andrew, still rocking Sharon McLintock in his arms, still
singing softly to her as the tears continued to stream down his face.

As Monica quietly handed the last little boy over to Guilo, who lovingly took
over his care, she quietly explained to Tess, "They just took each child from me
as I brought them out. It's almost as if they needed this too."

"We -do- need this," echoed a voice from behind them. "It helps us begin the
healing process for us as much as it does for them."

Monica turned around to see Captain Tal standing behind them, evidently
pleased by what he was seeing. "Captain, it is good to see you well."

"As it is to see you, Monica." Turning to Tess, he introduced himself, "I am Tal,
captain of the Hosts. You must be Tess?"

"Yes, I am," Tess replied. "It is an honor to meet you, Captain."

"As it is to meet you, Tess. Clara never stops bragging about you."

Tess had the good decency to blush at the compliment. "Really?"

Tal nodded. "That's why we placed Andrew to work with you. Clara was
confident that you'd be good for him." Watching the formerly brash young
soldier carefully tending to the little girl's needs, Tal added, "I'm definitely
inclined to agree."

"Thank you, Captain." Letting her eyes wander back to her old friend, Tess'
heart broke as she continued to see the tears in his eyes. She excused herself, "If
you don't mind, I'd like to see how he's doing?"

Pulling his wings back to a resemblance of human form, Tal replied, "Go right
ahead, Tess. From the sound of things, there's someone I would like to check on
as well." Turning to the other angel, he asked, "Monica, would you care to join
me?"

Even though Monica was slightly confused by his statement, who was she to
argue with the Captain of the Heavenly Host? "Certainly," she replied, taking
his offered arm.

*****

The front of the house was a mass of activity when Tal and Monica arrived.
Someone, evidently, had picked up Sheriff Materian's cruiser and brought it to
the house, because Gary Gregorson and Martha McGillicuddy were now sitting
in the back seat muttering soft curses to each other, blaming the other one for
having 'gotten them into this mess in the first place'. A few feet away Sheriff
Materian was talking to one of his deputies, more than likely giving him detailed
instructions as to how to process the two criminals when the deputy brought
them back to the station.

The angels' focus quickly moved to the ambulance, where a red-headed woman
with an equally fiery temper was declaring loudly, "And I'm telling you I'm fine
for now, and I'm not leaving until you've done a search of the house to find those
kids!"

"But Scully," replied her partner, "You've been shot!"

"Yeah, and in the same place I shot you, so you know it's not fatal. The bullet
went clean through, so there's not much they can do in the hospital that they
haven't done already here." As the two angels came closer, they saw Scully look
up to stare into her partner's hazel eyes. "I'm a -doctor-," she emphasized.
"Trust me, I know these things."

Taking her free hand in his own, Mulder let his gaze wander to the ground as he
quietly replied, "I trust you with my life, Scully. I just wish I trusted myself."

Releasing her free hand from Mulder's grasp, she used it to bring his chin up so
that his gaze met her own. "Hey," she reassured him, "That's what I'm here for.
To trust you when you don't trust yourself."

"That's good advice, Mulder," chimed in Monica. "If I were you, I'd hold on to
it."

"-And- to her," piped in Tal.

Mulder and Scully looked up at the new participants in the conversation with
surprise. "Monica, Captain Tal, what are you doing here?" asked Scully. "Have
you found the children? Are they all right?"

While Mulder mouthed under his breath, "Who's Captain Tal?" Tal replied,
"They'll be all right, Dana. But they're going to need some assistance."
Addressing both agents he continued, "Will you both come with me, please?
And tell these paramedics that they're going to need to, how do you say it, call
for backup?"

Confused at Tal's lack of urgency, Scully nevertheless complied with his wishes,
and the two agents followed him to the back of the house.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jeff noticed the new arrival to the group of Feds,
and how he seemed to be accepted so quickly. Surprised and confused as to how
anyone could have made it to this remote location so easily without his
knowledge, he followed.

*****

Tess watched the two angels walk back toward the front of the house, then
turned her attention to her 'angel-boy'. Quietly making her way though the
group of seated angels, she was soon kneeling beside him, using his wing for
balance as she let her gaze fall upon the child. "How is she doing, Andrew?"

The other angel sighed deeply. "Physically, she's going to be fine, as they'll all
be. Mentally, though...I can catch glimpses in her mind occasionally, see the
things they've made her watch these past few days." His voice broke with
emotion as he continued, "I can't help but wonder if she'll ever be okay."

Brushing her own hand gently against the child's cheek, Tess assured him,
"Baby, these kids may not have their mothers and fathers anymore, but they all
have people in town who love them very much. They have a difficult road ahead
of them, but with that much love behind them, they'll all end up just fine."

Reassured by his old friend's words, Andrew's face darkened slightly as he
thought of the humans who helped to do this to them. "And what about
Gregorson? What's going to happen to him?"

"Well," replied a familiar voice behind him, "I'd say the kidnapping and
weapons charges alone will put that guy away for a long, long time, even if we
can't tie him in to the murders."

Andrew looked up to see Mulder and Scully headed toward them, followed
closely by Captain Tal and Monica. Pulling himself instantly back into human
form, he looked around to see that the rest of his comrades had already left, the
only evidence of their presence the snow white clothes each of the catatonic
children were now wearing.

Scully knelt down in front of Andrew, using her free hand to check on the child
in the angel's arms. Standing over them, Mulder asked his partner, "How's she
doing, Scully?"

"Physically, she seems fine, Mulder, but she's in some sort of catatonic state."

"They all are," Andrew informed them. "They've all been subjected to various
levels of abuse, all of it mental. They're going to need a lot of help."

"They'll get it," volunteered a new voice behind the group. The agents and
angels turned around to see Jeff Materian headed for them, followed by a couple
of paramedics. "Whatever they need, we'll make sure they're taken care of."

While Tess flashed Andrew a look that said, 'See? I told you so,' Andrew simply
handed Sharon McLintock over to the paramedics and told Jeff, "Thank you."

Jeff shrugged off the thanks. "Hey, they say it takes a village to raise a child,
right? Well, I guess since these eight kids ain't got parents anymore, they're
going to need the village more than ever." His curiosity piquing again, Jeff then
asked, "I'm sorry, son, I didn't quite catch your name."

"It's Andrew," the angel replied without thinking. "I work with Mulder and
Scully."

"You can say that again," the two agents muttered simultaneously.

As the first set of paramedics wheeled Sharon away, several more pulled up to
load the children onto stretchers for their trip to the hospital, a task which
Sheriff Materian closely supervised. Leaving the officer to his responsibilities,
Andrew, Captain Tal, Tess, Monica, Mulder and Scully all started to make their
way back to the car. After a few brief moments of silence where the group
listened as the last of the children were put on a stretcher, Tal complimented
Andrew, "Well, old friend, you were excellent today. It's been good to have you
back."

"Thank you, Sir," Andrew replied, "It's been good to be back."

"You know," the Captain commented, "If you ever want to come back to join the
Heavenly Host..."

Andrew cut him off. "Thank you, Sir, but I'm happy where I am." As the angel
let his gaze wander over to his two best friends, he told the Captain, "My talents
are put to good use right where I am now."

Tal sighed, the smile never leaving his face. Although Andrew was a fine
soldier, Tal knew the angel was right. Offering a hand to his old comrade, Tal
said, "Well then, soldier, I'll leave you to your duties."

Andrew shook the offered hand, replying, "Thank you, Sir."

As he pulled the other angel into an embrace, Tal cautioned, "Now don't be a
stranger this time, old friend. At least let us know what you're up to."

Releasing the embrace, Andrew replied. "I will, Sir. I promise."

Stepping back to allow himself the room to make his ascent, Tal bid the group
farewell. "It's been a pleasure working with all of you. Take care."

And in a flash of light, the angel was gone.

When the group finally took their eyes off the place where the Captain had
vanished, Mulder asked his partner, "So how do you know this guy, Scully?"

Scully smiled enigmatically in response as the two agents started to quicken
their pace to walk ahead of the three angels. "Long story, Mulder. Long story."

As the three angels stopped to watch the two agents walk back to the car, Tess
asked, "So what do you think of those two, Angel-girl?"

"Well," replied Monica, "I think they make an excellent team."

"I agree," chimed in Andrew, "They do work well together."

Monica then noticed the way that Mulder's hand was protectively placed on the
small of Scully's back. Her mind recalled the other affectionate gestures she had
seen between the pair on this assignment. Before, she had ignored those
subtleties in favor of focusing on the case, but now...she asked Tess, "Do you
know if they are, well, y'know..."

Tess knew where this was leading, but she decided she wanted to tease her
young charge just a bit anyway. "Know what, baby?"

"Are they -more- than just work partners?"

Smiling warmly, Tess replied, "Long story, angel-girl. It's a long story."

High above the heads of the three angels, a white dove cooed in agreement.

*****

That's it! It's over! It's finished! Wasn't quite the ending I thought I was going to use, but I think it works, don't you?


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