As Mulder drove recklessly along the rutted track there came a bang on the metal grill behind him. He glanced over his shoulder to see Krycek, now conscious again, looking furious and mouthing something at him.
'He's probably yelling,' Mulder thought as he concentrated on the track again. It had turned downhill now and the truck was going faster, he stepped on the brake, but nothing happened, he pumped hard on the pedal but still the brakes refused to work.
Kneeling in the back of the truck Krycek was having difficulty maintaining his balance as the vehicle gained momentum on the downward slope.
"Mulder, for Christ's sake, slow down!" he yelled, his voice snatched away by the wind, drowned by the noise of the engine. He saw Mulder keep glancing at the floor with a worried look on his face, and he suddenly realized that the brakes had failed.
Alex dropped to the floor and inched his way towards the rear, hovering on the edge, hoping for a miracle. He felt the swerves get wilder as Mulder tried desperately to keep the truck on the track. 'But, how long is he going to he able to keep making the turns?,'. Alex was in a dilemma, he had to get off before it crashed, the risk of being crushed was too great but, if he got off too soon he'd be too far away from the crash to help if Mulder was hurt.
The track dipped again and Alex decided that it was time to hit the road, literally. He rolled off the truck letting his field training take over to minimize the effects. Even so, his right shoulder felt jarred and sore, as he climbed to his feet. A few moments later he heard the truck crash, the engine roar, then die. Ignoring the new bruises he ran on down the track towards the spot where the vehicle had left the road. Then, over the sound of his pounding feet he heard the unmistakable noise of horses galloping. They, of course, hadn't had to follow the track, but had been able to ride over the ridge, which had considerably shortened the distance they'd had to travel from the camp. Krycek dived for cover, he didn't want to get tangled up with them yet, if Mulder was still with the truck, alive or dead.... 'Oh please, don't let him be dead,' he prayed. He took a steadying breath. 'Think positive Alex,' he told himself, 'If he's with the truck then the guards will take him back to the gulag, so you can reveal your presence and make sure he gets there unharmed.,'
He crept forward, keeping to cover, until he could see the truck lying on its side. The riders were searching the area, to find some sign of which way the American had fled, so obviously Mulder had survived the accident.
"Now all I've got to do is find him," Alex muttered, backing away. He looked at his watch, then exclaimed, "Shit! Sergei! I've got to stop him."
Throwing caution to the winds he ran as fast as he could back the way he'd come until he was sure he was out of earshot. Crouching in cover he took the earphone and microphone of the miniature transmitter he'd been given only the night before out of their hiding place, and switched on. Holding the microphone close to his lips he tried to control his harsh breathing. "Sergei; can you hear me - don't go to the pickup!"
"Alex. What's wrong?" Sergei's voice was loud in his ear.
"Mulder made a break for it, they wouldn't let me see him, so I didn't get a chance to warn him."
Krycek interrupted him. "How, or even, why is irrelevant, he's on the loose. Just come as close as you can, we'll join up and search for him. I'll keep in touch."
Alex switched off and put the small device away again, wishing *he* knew why Mulder had been in the yard - the instructions that had been given to the commandant had been very explicit, look after the prisoner, keep the American safe in his cell until 'Comrade Arntzen' could return with transport and the proper papers to get him released. He'd been loath to leave Mulder at all, but the commandant had been adamant. Until his identity as Arntzen had been verified, he would not be allowed to converse with the FBI Agent. So, he'd gone where directed, contacted Moscow and tried to be patient while waiting for their tickets to freedom.
Getting to his feet again, he moved westwards, knowing that Mulder would also have to head that way to use his UN passport to get out to of the country.
After walking for half and hour, he stopped in a thicket and used the small transmitter again.
As soon as he was on the air, Sergei said, "We're down. You're to the east of us. Keep your radio on and we'll come to meet you."
Krycek acknowledged the instructions and fixed the microphone and ear-piece in place. Not long afterwards, as he was running through a stand of trees, he suddenly found himself surrounded by a horde of one-armed men.
Krycek pulled up, and caught his breath before addressing them in Russian [What do you want from me?]
One man stepped forward and asked, "[Why do you run?]"
"[I have escaped from the prison camp.]" Alex replied.
The Man examined him closely, then said, "[You are a liar.]"
'Oh God what have I got into now?,' he thought, then said, "No.." then realizing that he had reverted to English, he went on nervously, excusing himself "I'm sorry... Nyet, [I am American... and I've been falsely accused of spying.]"
The Man, considered the answer, then replied, "Then your enemy is mine. We can protect you."
Sergei heard the conversation via Alex's wire and swore when he realized that they weren't going to let Krycek leave.
After a few moment's thought, he called his team together, quickly told them what had happened, then said, "We'll split into two groups as we need to triangulate his position. My group will move slightly north of east, Stephen's will move south of east. As soon as we've pinpointed his position we'll regroup. Keep an eye out for Mulder, if we can scoop him up, so much the better, at the moment though our first priority is Alex, as I've got a feeling he's in danger."
The two teams silently started out. When they'd been on the move for 45 minutes, Sergei called a halt and waited patiently for his men to try for the triangulation they desperately needed. He breathed a sigh of relief when they reported that they had Krycek's position down to 'a few yards'.
Ordering his men forward again, they moved on converging courses and when the two groups met up again they stopped and sent three scouts forward to determine how far they were from where their comrade was being detained.
After what seemed like hours, but in reality had been less than one, the scouts returned and reported they'd seen Krycek lying by a fire and that he was still surrounded by a large group of one-armed men.
Sergei assimilated the information, then sighed, his group was vastly outnumbered. Okay we go in quiet, taking them out as we go," he told his men, "If they show any sign of resistance, shoot to kill."
The team passed through the trees virtually unchallenged, as there didn't appear to be any guards out. As they came in sight of the large clearing, they saw a man draw a red hot knife from the fire. Then without warning, in a move they'd obviously used before, they fell upon the huddled form of Krycek, dragging off his clothes to bare the left arm and as the red hot knife cut into his biceps, Alex started to scream.
Sergei and his men rushed forward shooting at those on the periphery of the action not daring to aim at the major participants for fear of hitting their comrade. As their companions started to fall around them those attacking Krycek took to their heels and fled into the night.
The medic rushed forward to Krycek's side and quickly put a tourniquet above the deep gash which was pouring blood, then slapped a field dressing on the wound. He looked up at Sergei standing horror-struck at his side, and said, "He needs surgery, otherwise he could still loose that arm, even if I manage to save his life. Put him as close to the fire as practicable and keep him warm. He's in shock at the moment, but what I've got in the way of painkillers is not going to help him for long."
The sound of the medics voice brought Sergei to his senses. Turning away he took hold of the larger radio which had kept them in touch with their transport group. After identifying himself, he said, "Patch me through to the Boss." He knew he was taking a risk using the satellite link from here, but Alex's life was in danger.
Half a world away a telephone rang in a brightly lit office and a tall broad-shouldered man, named Michael Thornton, answered it. "Yes?" he enquired.
"Sergei Olmontov needs to speak to you urgently sir," the voice of the duty watchman was replaced almost immediately by static, then came the team leader's voice.
"We need a medical evacuation for Alex, his arm is half off, my medic says he needs emergency surgery or he's liable to lose the arm, if not his life."
Biting down the questions he wanted to ask about how it had happened, Thornton tucked the receiver beneath his chin, pulled a folder across the desk towards him and opened it to display a map of Russia. Where's your nearest evac point?" he barked.
"Two zero one," Sergei replied.
Thornton's finger found the LZ on the map and calculated time and distance, "Two hours," he said.
"We'll be there," Olmontov promptly replied, and cut the connection.
The section chief released the line, then immediately dialled another number and gave the order for the pickup, the details Olmontov had provided about the injury and the name of the patient so his medical records would be available to the OR team.
After replacing the receiver Thornton stared at the phone. Four hours before Alex could start receiving treatment. Thornton sighed, he hated it when any of his Agents got hurt, and Alex had had more than his fair share of pain during the time he'd been working for the Company.
Feeling he couldn't sit still any longer he went into the outer office and walked over to where Harwood was making detailed arrangements for Alex's care. When the Agent had put down the phone Thornton asked;
"Where are they operating?"
Thornton nodded, then said, "Book me on a flight there, I need to talk to him."
"Yes sir, I'll get on it right away."
"Call me on my cell, I'm going to my apartment and grab my things then I'll go straight to the airport."
"Yes sir," Harwood replied as he picked up the receiver again.
Sergei made sure that all his men were okay, and that guards had been posted before allowing himself to check on his injured friend. Going back to the fire he hunkered down, and studied Krycek. Alex had his eyes open, staring blankly at the flames, seemingly oblivious of his surroundings.
Staring at the flames, Alex's drugged mind was trying to sort out what was happening to him. His arm hurt like hell ... He remembered: screaming, the red hot knife biting into his skin ... screaming ... starting to grate on bone ... screaming ...
Not wanting to know, yet feeling compelled to look, his eyes flickered towards his shoulder, taking in the tourniquet, then the field dressing, then the unmistakable outline of his arm, where he'd been expecting to find empty air.
Puzzled he looked back to the fire, trying again to figure out why he was here, what had been so important ... Mulder ... he'd been trying to find Mulder ...
Sensing movement beyond the flames, Alex looked straight into Olmontov's eyes and finally realized that his backup team had apparently arrived in the nick of time.
Goading his mind into action, he whispered the question uppermost in his mind, "Have you found Mulder?"
Sergei shook his head, "We'll send out scouts as soon as we've got you out of here."
Alex looked stubborn, "I'm not...."
"Don't argue. You need surgery, and we need to be mobile," the team leader told him bluntly.
Alex nodded, acknowledging that he hadn't been thinking straight.
The medic had returned while they were talking and gave Alex another painkilling injection, before helping to lift him onto the litter that had been laid down next to the injured man.
Sergei walked around the fire and laid a gentle had on Krycek's right shoulder. "Pick up is at LZ 201 in just under two hours. Tony and I will go with you on the chopper and wait there until the pick up has been made." He paused, then smiled, "Rest easy Alex, we'll find your wandering boy and make sure he gets back to the US safely."
"Yeah, thanks," Alex muttered, his eyes closing as the additional medication flowed around his system.
When they reached the edge of the trees, the chopper had already arrived. They quickly climbed aboard and were whisked away to the area designated LZ201. At the LZ they laid the landing lights out on the ground and maintained a listening watch for the signal that the transport was approaching.
In the helicopter's cabin, Tony fussed over Alex, making sure that the tourniquet was eased off a regular intervals to ensure that the flesh remained healthy.
Upon the warning of 'two minutes', they lit the beacons. Suddenly their ears were overwhelmed by the scream of jet engines as the specially converted VTOL craft swept into sight and landed in the glow of the lights.
Alex was quickly loaded onto the jet, the doctor on board checking his vital signs and hooking him up to an IV to help reduce the trauma, then the covert team stepped away and the aircraft screamed away into the night.
Gathering up their equipment, they went back to their chopper and left the LZ as quickly as possible, just in case someone had managed to track the aircraft's progress, and when they reached their temporary base Olmontov outlined his plans for carrying out the search for the missing FBI Agent when the dawn came.
Thornton was met at Seattle airport by James McIlroy, the senior operative in the city who then drove him to the hospital.
Once they were away from the airport, McIlroy said, "He arrived safely, Mike, and was still in the OR when I left to collect you. I've two of my men guarding him, just to be on the safe side, and they reckoned he should be in recovery by the time you get there".
Thornton nodded his acknowledgement of the information, hoping that Alex would indeed pull through okay, and stared out of the window wondering how long it would be before he could talk to Alex and find out how much Damage Control might be needed to get the situation in hand.
On their arrival at the hospital, they were met by, John Barker, McIlroy's assistant. He was smiling, as he said, "Our boy went into the recovery room a few minutes after you left, and has just been transferred to a private room. Follow me and I'll take you up."
As they approached the room on the third floor, Barker spotted the surgeon at the nurses station and stopped to speak to him. He introduced Howard Yagiu to Thornton, and told the surgeon that section chief was Alex's employer.
"Pleased to meet you Mr Yagiu," Thornton said, shaking the proffered hand. "How's my boy doing?"
Yagiu smiled, "Fortunately the knife had only chipped the bone. We were able to reconnect the important ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, etc.. At the very least he'll have 90 per cent functionality and, with luck, he may never notice the difference at all."
Thornton felt a load lift from his shoulders, and he let out the breath he had been unconsciously holding since the surgeon had started talking.
"I'm very pleased to hear that," he told Yagiu, then asked, "Are we allowed to see him yet?"
Yagiu smiled, "Yes, he's awake at the moment, but he'll probably go back to sleep soon to clear the anaesthesia out of his system."
Thornton shook the surgeon's hand then walked to where two men were guarding a door, and went into the room.
Alex was propped up in bed, and he smiled as his boss walked into the room.
"They tell me you're gonna recover completely," Thornton said by way of a greeting.
Alex's smile broadened, "Yeah, they tell me that too," he replied huskily.
"Alex, what the *hell* were you doing in Russia?" he asked plaintively, the concern over the injury was now replaced by a deep-seated need for information from his Agent.
Alex sighed and rolled his eyes, "So when did Pete and his team lose me?" he asked in return.
Thornton turned down the corners of his mouth, "Pete himself was following when you, Mulder and Scully left Dulles airport. He was killed in a pile-up, so I didn't get your last report on those terrorists you had been ordered to join up with."
"Damn. I'm sorry to hear that." He paused to collect his thoughts. "As we agreed, I passed some of the receipts for the bomb making equipment on to Mulder and then the receipts for the storage facility so they'd know when to move in on them, meaning to get away in the truck as planned. However, after I passed on my report to Pete, I learned through my 'controller' that a consortium courier was coming in through Dulles. So when the truck took off, and we were going to out-distance the FBI, I shot the driver." He paused and looked rather sick for a moment, then, after taking a deep breath to control the rising nausea, he continued with his narrative. "I let them capture me and passed the information on to Mulder. He and Scully took me to the airport where they intercepted the courier. As soon as they challenged him, he ran, dropping the diplomatic pouch, which they retrieved. Inside was a piece of rock. I must admit that threw me. Scully took the rock and Mulder took me to Skinner's apartment... "
"Skinner?" Thornton queried, knowing he'd heard the name before but unable for the moment to remember where.
"A.D. Skinner, my former boss at the FBI. I spent the night sitting outside on his balcony handcuffed to the fucking rail," Alex replied rather bitterly. He sighed, then went on, "The next morning he let me inside to use the bathroom and gave me breakfast, then put me back outside while he went to work. Late in the day the courier broke into his apartment. I heard a noise and could see the guy rifling through Skinner's desk. I climbed over the balustrade and hung on by my fingers, hoping I wouldn't be noticed. Whether he heard the handcuff on the railing, or caught the movement out of the corner of his eye, I don't know, but I heard the balcony door open. When he looked over and saw me I grabbed him and pulled him over."
Alex paused and closed his eyes, the next words were almost inaudible. "God I was scared. Sixteen floors up, hanging from the rail by just a handcuff. I didn't dare move in case the strain broke the chain and I followed the courier to the ground."
He swallowed hard, then opened his eyes again staring into space. "Finally Mulder came and pulled me back and I told him that it had been the courier who'd died, and reminded him that when the guy had been identified there'd be no doubt as to whose balcony he'd fallen from. He was all for carting me off to jail, so I urged him to find out where the pouch had come from. We left Skinner's building, sneaking out actually, and he took me to his own apartment to get cleaned up and get something to eat. Then he went out, leaving me chained to the bed, so I finally got some sleep."
"When he came back it was evening. We shared a pizza, then he hustled me out to a car from the FBI pool, and drove us to New York. He left me cuffed to the car outside an apartment building for nearly three bloody hours. I knew then that I'd lost my backup somehow."
Thornton nodded. If the team had been on the job Alex would have been released and away before Mulder returned to the car.
Alex took that as a signal to continue talking, "When he came out he refused to tell me anything. In fact when I tried pushing for information he slugged me. He drove us to JFK and was going to leave me in the car in the in the long term parking."
He looked down, suddenly finding the fingernails of his right hand fascinating, "Ever since the silo incident, I've had a little problem with enclosed spaces and the dark, and when he started walking away I lost my temper and started swearing at him."
Thornton smiled grimly, then asked, "In Russian Alex?"
Krycek met his eyes and nodded, "You'd think I'd know enough English ones by now, wouldn't you," he replied wryly. "Though how *he* knew they were Russian I don't know. Anyway, he came back and asked me did I speak Russian. I was so surprised that I told him 'yes'. So he took me with him."
I helped him get to his destination, interpreting for him... I guess I should have let him go on alone when he went under the wire at Tunguska... but, my curiosity got the better of me. The rest you already know."
"Yes, I've had reports from both Dimitri and Sergei."
Alex fell silent, waiting for his superior to speak again. The door opening broke the silence and they both looked towards it. McIlroy poked his head into the room, a wide smile on his face. "They've found Mulder and will assist his passage back to Krasnoyarsk"
Thornton and Krycek both grinned back at him, then at each other before becoming serious again.
"Thanks Jim, keep me informed," Thornton requested as McIlroy withdrew, and the Seattle Agent acknowledged the order with a wave of his hand.
Alex voiced the issue now at the forefront of their minds. "I have to go back to Russia otherwise Dimitri will be in jeopardy. My orders were to help Mulder escape then report back."
"If you go back they may discover you're not who they think you are and you'll both be in danger."
"And if I don't Mulder will also be in danger, he has no papers now," Alex reminded him.
Thornton acknowledged defeat in his mind but still tried fighting a rear guard action, "The surgeon may not release you."
Alex raised a sceptical eyebrow. "He says my arm should be as good as new so long as I don't put any strain on it." He closed his eyes and shuddered at the memory those words invoked. Forcing his mind away from that trauma, he tried to consider the problem objectively, a slight frown deepening the crease across the bridge of his nose.
He was so quiet and still that Thornton thought he had fallen asleep, indeed when Krycek finally spoke his words where slurred by fatigue.
"We need to get him to brace it... Put straps so it looked like a false arm... leave details to you... can use injury - say I've got amnesia... " He yawned and cracked his eyes open slightly. "Sorry, tired," he muttered.
Thornton watched the green eyes close again, and as the young man in the bed drifted off to sleep, he thought over the sketchy ideas that Alex had put forward.
Finally he sighed and got to his feet, it *was* the only workable solution to their dilemma. He left the room and went to gather his team together, they would have to work fast to get Alex back in place in time to help get Mulder out of Russia."
While Alex slept, the team, taking advice from the surgeon, worked hard to produce a brace that would the light and comfortable to wear, while being robust enough to protect the arm from any harm.
Sergei Olmontov drove a little way past the small group of people walking along the side of the road. As they approached he got out and asked, "[Would you like to ride with me. I am going to Krasnoyarsk, but I can drop you off on they way}."
Petyor translated the question to Mulder before replying, "Da"
He helped them all into the large cab and once they were on they move he said, "[You speak English to him]."
Petyor nodded towards Mulder, "[He is American. He got lost out here so we're helping him get back home, we're leaving the area to find work elsewhere]."
"I will speak in English too, to save translating," Sergei announced. "My name is Sergei. When I reach Krasnoyarsk, I will be going to visit my family in St Petersburg for a few days."
"My name is Mulder, I need to get to Krasnoyarsk also, I should be able to get a flight back to the United States from there," Mulder replied, "But I would also like to do something for this family that has helped me."
Sergei nodded, "I will ask my cousin, he will know where a job can be found." He waited for Mulder to say something about Alex, but the American stared out of the window, lost in his own thoughts.
They rode in silence for well over an hour before Sergei asked another question. "Did you come to Russia alone Mr Mulder?"
Mulder frowned and a look of pain entered his eyes. 'Krycek. What happened to him when the truck crashed? He wasn't with the guards at the crash site. It wouldn't have been so easy to fool him by hiding under the leaves - we had the same training. Is it possible he hid from them too? I don't know what to believe.,'
Just when Olmontov thought that he wasn't going to get a reply, Mulder slowly shook his head. "No, I didn't come alone. I brought a.. 'a friend? An enemy? What is he to me?,' "..an ex-colleague who speaks Russian with me. I shouldn't have forced him to come... I should..." 'I should be let him go in New York.,'
"We left the compound on the truck together." He sighed, 'He always seems to bring out the worst in me.,' "But when the brakes failed and the truck crashed, I lost him. Petyor had a quick search for him but couldn't find him, and we couldn't stay too long in the area...." He trailed off again, his memory playing and replaying the events of the last few days.
Alex and his small support team arrived in Moscow at about the same time as Sergei drove the truck wearily into Krasnoyarsk. Mulder had written down the name of the street he could remember Alex taking them to, not knowing that Sergei already knew where to go to pick up the items that they'd hidden.
He opened the cache, relieved to find it intact, and debated whether to take it all, but finally decided that it would be better to leave Alex's papers, and return ticket, there in case he wanted 'was able to,' retrieve them. The thing that did worry him was that he didn't have a passport, that had been taken from him at the gulag.
Sergei then drove him to the airport and made sure he got on the right plane to Moscow.
When the Mulder's flight arrived, Alex, now dressed as a Russian officer complete with peaked cap and tinted glasses, was able to make sure that none of the airport officials impeded the American's passage through the terminals and made sure that he got on the right flight to the United States.
After seeing Mulder's flight depart, Alex reported by telephone to his 'superior' that the American had departed safely, and was told to travel to St Petersburg to await the return of Pescow.
After putting the receiver down, Alex grinned to himself, he had a breathing space which would give him that much more time to study the background of the person he was playing, and to master the brace which was helping his arm to heal.
But still... he couldn't help wondering when, if ever, he would return to America.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Although not new to writing fan fiction this is my first attempt at X-Files fiction. Why did I write it? Well, after a fine start in Tunguska and the build up continuing in Terma, the episode seemed kinda rushed at the end as if there should have been a third episode to finish it off properly. Anyway, these are my thoughts as to how the episode should have ended.
Summary: This story starts when Mulder has stolen the truck and busts out of the gulag with Krycek unconscious in the back, and ends just before his entrance into the Senate hearing.
Posting Date: December 1997
Characters: Alex Krycek, Fox Mulder