An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
Vaccine distribution, complications and unexpected good news
The vaccine pick-up was just the start of things, though. Our next hurdle was to see that it actually got into people. I stayed with the plane after Marita left, overseeing drops in Boston, Ohio and at the Naval Training Center on Lake Michigan. After that, the last doses went with me to Toronto, where I was to watch over the inoculations at the massive CamGen research campus there and report any problems. It was a week of apprehension served with a side of fear as I snooped around CamGen's health center, watching all their researchers--future fighters in an unearthly war they had yet to find out about--line up for the needle, and waiting to see how many reactions we'd get, how bad they'd turn out to be, and whether they'd throw up any one of half a dozen red flags that had the potential to expose us. All of a sudden the whole plan seemed a lot like walking into a den of lions.
There were dozens of injection site reactions bad enough to send people back worried or complaining. For the most part the doctors didn't seem overly worried, though there was talk of contacting the manufacturer about the batch. Marita had that covered, too, with contact numbers printed right on the vaccine vials... which went to one of her people, of course. It would hold us as long as nobody thought to contact the manufacturer through an actual corporate phone number. In any event, I can't say I slept well, and by the end of the week when I messaged her asking if she wanted to meet and compare notes, she replied with a time and the name of a deli in Brooklyn. So I booked a flight and took off for New York, wondering how things would play out this time.
What I was hoping for was a chance at the vaccine retrieval code; Marita had things set up so any pick-up required her approval before the shipment would be released. It'd made sense when she didn't know me that well, but in the long run it was going to be dangerous: if anything happened to her, our distribution would be dead in the water, vaccine piling up in a Cali warehouse and no way to access it. We'd gone around about the access code in Cali, but she hadn't been about to give it to me then. So that was definitely on my mind, along with the hope that we could pick up where we'd left off the last time on the personal end of things.
But if I'd been thinking I'd get lucky again, I was obviously in for disappointment. We made contact at the deli and I followed Marita to an older fourth-floor walkup that turned out to be a secret second place she kept. Small and basic--definitely not her Upper West Side apartment--but probably a much more secure place for us to meet away from prying eyes. But as soon as she'd gotten me settled and we'd finished our initial intel swap, she took off for some party she claimed she had to show up for at the British Embassy. Didn't even say she'd be back, just promised to connect with me the next day. Which left me alone, thanks a lot, to amuse myself for the evening. Okay, I probably wouldn't have made very good company anyway. I was already in the mood to bite something after the tension of the week in Toronto. I thought seriously about taking off--just flying on to D.C. Why should I bother to hang around here by myself? But I knew by then what a private person Marita was, and the fact that she trusted me enough to let me into this private hideaway of hers... well, obviously it was big. Maybe big enough that she was thinking of giving me the access code. Couldn't help to encourage her. So I decided to stay. Spent a few hours snooping around--she had to figure I would--checking out closets, drawers, family pictures, trinkets she'd brought with her when she'd had to move here at fifteen--generally filling in more of the blanks in this partner I'd ended up with. Which I had to admit was worth the time spent. Then I turned in early, desperate for the kind of clear sleep I'd missed in Toronto.
Which lasted until about 4 a.m., when I woke to footsteps in the living room that turned out to be Marita coming in with news I never could have anticipated: the old man was dead. The group had finally had their fill and offed him; Marita'd arrived home from her party at the British Embassy to find a brief message from the Brit on her machine.
It was the kind of news that turns your world upside down. But it was also 4 a.m. I was groggy as hell, the fact of it was almost too much to process; how many times had I dispatched the old fucker in my mind, figuring it would never happen for real? And here was the bearer of my bad news--or good news--with one knee on the bed, looking like maybe if there hadn't been news to bring, she would have made some up. I sat up; we talked. She shivered; I invited her in where it was warm. We curled up and went to sleep. Woke up later and things heated up pretty fast. We both slept like babies after that. Spent the day lying around, talking, generally decompressing. Worrying about whether it were really true that the old man was finally gone, never to mess up either of our lives again. Marita promised to check out the details ASAP and let me know.
When she did, some of their facts didn't seem to jibe, but we weren't sure if we were just being paranoid about the whole thing. Word was that the old man was going to be given a pauper's burial in a D.C. cemetery 'to keep any public interest from arising over his disappearance'. Yeah, right. Curiosity drove me there a week or so later in the drizzle and fog. There was just a little rounded pillow of a headstone with 'C. G. Billings' carved on it and the dates. I wished like anything he could have been there to see what they really thought of him. There was still this little whisper of uncertainty in the back of my head but I put it aside; I had things to do, and anyway, I wasn't in a position to find out any more than what Marita already had.
After that I headed for Brussels and spent a week there while they made me a new arm. It was a lot more comfortable than the old one, so it was worth the wait, though I didn't like the way I'd lost muscle in the stump. I was going to have to make sure to exercise it regularly; no sense having it become more of a liability than it already was. I also took the plunge and got a hook attachment for the arm. It was a choice I hadn't wanted to face before, but the fact was it was a hell of a lot more useful than the hand, which was only good for making me look normal. The hook was amazing, so much more controllable, letting me do a dozen little things that the hand would never be able to accomplish. It wasn't for the street; it definitely wasn't going to help me blend in, and it could look intimidating. Then again, that might come in handy somewhere down the road.
I had a month after that with nothing to do, which drove me up the wall. I'd have been much happier working myself until I dropped, distributing vaccine until all of it had been given out, then being able to rest knowing the work had been done and we were safe. But it wasn't going to happen that way. It had been nearly a month since I'd seen Marita, and it would be another five weeks before we got together after the second distribution, and frankly, my mind kept drifting back to reasons--maybe excuses--to meet with her. But I knew she was busy, and more than that, that she needed to keep her focus. Anyway, the pull I was feeling was starting to worry me. Or at least, it worried me that I wasn't fighting it; I knew well enough what a classic danger sign it could be, the personal distraction that caught your eye and all of a sudden you were off the road and dead in a ditch. I told myself that seeing Marita would just have to wait.
The second batch of vaccine had been marked out exclusively for military installations, which made sense from the point of having trained men able to fight a future invasion, but also because our vaccine would be slipped in with half a dozen others being given at the same time, so any reactions to it would be virtually impossible to trace. Besides, it would be too late in the season--December--to pass the stuff off as flu shots in other venues. I kept telling myself this one should be easy, but two weeks before the pick-up, I got the call I was hoping never to get from Marita: a high-level researcher at CamGen Toronto had died from a heart attack caused by the build-up of an unknown substance in an artery. Anywhere else, the source of the problem might never have been found out, but in a bioresearch facility, where all the guy's buddies were researchers, too, it hadn't played out that way. They'd dug in and ended up tracing the mysterious substance to our vaccine, which obviously had nothing to do with the flu. Marita was beside herself.
So I took off for Toronto to do damage control while Ansbach handled the medical diplomacy part. All I had was the name of the researcher who'd made the discovery, obviously given to Marita by someone on the inside who had links to her and had been watching for post-inoculation incidents, and the fact that two vials of the vaccine had been left over after the inoculations were given, leaving them plenty to experiment on. In the future we were going to have to make sure no stray doses were left lying around. I called Ché before I left; any data they had on their computer system was going to need to be wiped, and it was probably going to take him some time to hack in. It took me nearly a week until I was able to get into the right lab and set it on fire. Like most big research firms, CamGen had plenty of security people on frequent patrols, but security has a notoriously fluid pool of employees; slipping in as a sub for someone eager for a day off wasn't all that difficult.
Which left me one problem: Klaus Schenker, the guy who'd traced our vaccine. I wasn't looking forward to getting rid of anybody; I hadn't done any of that since before Mulder and I took off for Tunguska and frankly, I could really do without the aggravation. But the fact was that as long as Schenker was in the picture, burned lab or no, he'd go on looking for the cause of his friend's death, and that could expose us pretty damn fast, and possibly destroy the entire planet's chance for survival.
Whatever I did, it was going to have to look like an accident, nothing that could be traced back to the lab fire and the data glitch that had wiped out Schenker's research files. Luckily, two days after the fire Schenker took a mental health day to try to come to terms with his losses and, enthusiastic ice fisherman that he was, headed north to Cook's Bay, which is where I caught up with him. I wasn't in any condition to fight with a guy on the ice, and while a nice, clean shot fired from a hundred yards would've been my first choice, it would also leave blood and a bullet hole that was going to scream 'Investigate this!' if they managed to find the body. So I did what I could, joined Schenker on the ice for a while, chatted about ice fishing in Europe and offered him some doctored coffee. Fifteen minutes later all I had to do was come back and push him into his fishing hole.
It was quick, and as clean as I could have hoped for, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I was getting too old for this kind of shit. I was tired of the ghosts that haunted the edges of my dreams, and the acid feeling in my gut afterward. More than anything, this time it left me worried that, for as relieved as Marita would be to find her problem taken care of, she'd look at me differently now.
Three days later I flew to Cali and picked up the second batch of vaccine. I hadn't yet shaken off the hit, so I was glad to be alone, though I couldn't help remembering the times Marita and I had been together, what a relief it had been to let down, to come together, get a clear night's sleep and maybe laugh over some crazy bit of apocalyptic black humor nobody else would ever get.
The distribution was scheduled for just a week after I delivered the vaccine, which went to Army bases throughout the South. This time I wasn't involved in any of the distributions, which was just as well because I was still in a mood. Even when Marita and I met afterward, we didn't seem to have much to say to each other. I think we were both still on edge from the CamGen scare, Marita had a bunch of social functions to show up at for the holidays--it was a couple of weeks before Christmas--so the meeting we had was brief, just an hour or so in the middle of her workday, and then she was gone again. The next vaccine pickup wouldn't be for another two months.
I went back to D.C., caught up on my sleep, hung out with Ché, who insisted on boring me with every last detail of the process he'd gone through to destroy Schenker's files. Found myself at the dead end of Franklin Street Northeast one day, staring at a little pillowed granite headstone. That's when I knew I needed to get the hell out of town, clear my head somehow. I called Marita but there was no answer. Probably she'd gone somewhere for the holidays, though I remembered her saying she didn't get together with family. Too many lies to keep straight, and she and her mother didn't see eye to eye. The idea stuck in my head, though, and after a few more attempts to call her, I flew to New York. I checked her place and the Brooklyn flat--no sign of her--then went to see Ansbach. She'd gone to Mallorca for some R&R, he told me finally. Alone. I called and made myself a reservation. I had no idea what I was going to say, what sort of reason I'd give for showing up on her doorstep, but at that point I really didn't care. I needed to see her.
Long story short, she did open the door. She let me in; I stayed for a week. There wasn't much pretense of it having to do with business. In fact, we tried not to think about anything strategic. I can't say it was relaxing in the same way my week on the island had been, but it gave both of us what we needed at the time--the chance to come together, to decompress, to get away from the tension, the planning, the old men, her hectic schedule. Being able to sit in a window soaking in the sun, to let down in a place where you knew the old men's snoops were nowhere around, or to wake up in a soft bed and not have to think of anything but the warm body tangled up with yours: priceless.
I knew Marita'd chosen the location because of her dad, though she never said it in so many words. But they'd gone there together before he got really sick, right near the end. And now, four years after he'd died, a good dozen after his plan had started as nothing more than a dream, it had finally become a living, breathing reality. I had no illusions about an afterlife or being able to communicate with the dead, but I could see how, with all that had happened, the idea might appeal to her--go to a place that held good memories and maybe leave a note in a chink in some psychic wall in case his spirit might happen to wander by and find it.
I tried to stay out of her way when she needed the space. Sometimes she'd go down and walk along the beach by herself; other times we'd go together, not speaking, Marita in her long beige coat, her sunglasses and scarf, and me in a coat and hat. We must have looked like throwbacks to another time. Once we hiked the rocky coastline near Cap de Formentor and sat huddled together on the cliffs, freezing in the winter wind, both of us caught up in the amazing shades of blue and green in the water hundreds of feet below. By the end of the week, things had gotten a lot more personal between us than they'd been before, and when I left, it was knowing that we'd be together again in six weeks when, our luck holding, we'd have completed our third vaccine distribution and would need to connect to analyze the results.
Two things stood out in my mind in the weeks that followed: 1) that the old men and their scheming had taken just as much from Marita as they had from me, so any kind of payback I could engineer would serve her as well, and 2) that for all the years I'd spent hoping Mulder and I would click, in Marita I'd stumbled across the partner I'd always hoped for. Mulder and I might share genes, but that was never going to make him change his view of me. Anyway, he was stuck in his little fantasy world of 'truth' and 'honor' and 'justice'. Which would all be well and good, I guess, if you could find a game where everybody was willing to play by the rules. But when you're fighting an enemy who doesn't buy into your little ideals, let them guide your actions and you're going to end up dead in a hurry. Besides, Mulder was never going to act against the real threat. Hell, it wasn't even on his radar; he couldn't manage to see any farther than what affected his sister or Scully. Marita, on the other hand, knew the score. She'd been dragged into this fight, but she'd adapted, learned to swim instead of sink. She was tough, realistic, observant and a good strategist. We didn't agree on everything; sometimes it was like going a round or two in the ring, jostling ideas and opinions with her. But at the end of the day, we were on the same page. Which is what I'd been looking for all this time: someone I could count on.
The third vaccine pick-up, like the second, I made on my own. Both of us would've liked to meet in Cali and have a couple of days together, but just knowing that we'd plan it for that reason made us leery. There's only so far you can spread your focus without something going wrong, so in the end we decided we'd better play it safe. The third distribution had initially been meant for a variety of pharmaceutical research campuses and universities, but since we were still worried about possible fallout from the CamGen incident, we diverted the entire 12,000-dose shipment to the military, funneling it to bases throughout the Midwest.
It was mid-February by then. Marita had plans to meet me
afterward at a ski resort in Vermont, but at the last minute she ended up with
some sudden priority project at the U.N. and had to cancel. The next batch
of vaccine was due to be picked up the second week in April and I hoped by then
she'd be able to work out some time away. But the pick-up never happened.
What did happen was a rebel strike in Kazakhstan that changed everything.
© bardsmaid 2005 |