Summary: A telepathic distress call concerns the Tomorrow People, but first they must deal with one of their number who is drugged, held in a hospital, and questioned by Mulder and Scully. Author's note: This is a crossover between XF and the English television revival of "The Tomorrow People" which I gather shows on Nickelodeon in the USA as well.
THE HALL GOVERNMENTAL RECORDS FACILITY
"Well, who would you go for?"
The man at the control desk, a three-sided square with the fourth side open for access, looked across the room at the guard, whose name was Michaels. "What do you mean, who would I go for?"
Michaels made an impatient gesture. "Hell, what d'you think we've been talking about, Paul?" He shook the porn magazine he held demonstratively. "If not Nikki Dial, who'd you want?"
Paul Blake considered. "I don't know that much about porn," he said eventually, looking back down at the consoles' display screens. There were three of these, one set into each panel of the consoles, and two of them - the two on Blake's left and right - displayed computer readouts. The one on the console in front of him showed a camera picture of a long hall, about twenty-five metres in length, filled with filing cabinets.
"Don't know much?" Michaels scoffed. "You gave me this magazine, man."
"My father-in-law runs a newsagent's," Paul shrugged. "He was going to throw it out."
"How about I mention a few names then?" Michaels suggested. "Ever hear of Ashlyn Gere?"
Blake shook his head after a moment. "Never heard of her."
"Is she that one in Baywatch?"
Michaels stared across the room. "Paul, you are one sad man."
Paul grinned and glanced down at the monitor, then back up again. Then back down. "Jesus Christ!"
Michaels stiffened. "What?"
"There's someone in the Hall!" Blake's hand slammed down on an alarm button beside the monitor as Michaels, reaching for his gun, headed towards the big double doors in one side of the room. Blake flicked a switch and opened the doors, allowing Michaels to go through. As the guard disappeared from view, he lowered his eyes to the screen again. The medium-sized figure had his back to the camera as he rifled through a filing cabinet. Suddenly, he took out a file, then spun round - he must have heard Michaels. A moment later, the security guard came into view, gun levelled.
The intruder hesitated, as Michaels said something. The guard gestured peremptorily, and the intruder again hesitated. Michaels' face tightened with anger and he raised the gun.
The intruder vanished.
MIAMI BEACH FLORIDA, USA
Dana Scully looked out from her hotel window at the beach and wondered what she was doing.
If she had any sense in her, of course, she would never have answered the summons, much less spent her own money in acquiring the room. But then, after just over a year investigating the X files, Scully had learned that Fox Mulder would not have asked her to Miami on any casual whim - or at least, not on what he would have termed a casual whim. Mulder would undoubtedly have what he believed to be a good reason for asking her to come to Miami; it remained to be seen whether or not Scully would think it a good reason as well.
The knock on the door came an hour and a half after she had checked in at the hotel. "You're slipping," Scully said as she opened it.
Mulder allowed a brief smile at her. "Slipping?"
"Took you long enough to find out where I was," Scully said by way of explanation. She stepped aside and Mulder moved past her into the hotel room. As she closed the door behind him, Scully noticed he was carrying a light grey folder in one hand. Mulder stopped beside the window and looked out over the golden sands of the beach.
"Okay, so why am I here?" she asked. "You were supposed to be on vacation."
Mulder turned from the window, the sunlight catching the ends of his hair and putting an odd glint into his eyes. "I knew you wouldn't want to miss a chance to investigate another strange incident, Scully."
"The only strange incident so far," Scully said, "is that most normal people would have taken the leave allotted them and spent it at the beach, or catching up on a book, or in the cinema. Whereas you, presumably, have been concocting your very own X file." She nodded at the folder. "Unless of course you're writing your memoirs and want my thoughts about you."
Mulder grinned for a moment, then let the smile fade as he crossed to the desk in the hotel room and opened the folder. Several photographs were inside, on top of numerous sheets of paper covered in neat rows of computer print. Scully joined him at the desk as Mulder put the photos in order.
"What d'you think?" he asked.
Scully looked at the pictures closely. The first was a slightly tilted Polaroid image, the details blurry as if the holder of the camera had been unsteady. It showed a young girl caught in the upstairs window of a house on fire, her mouth open as if about to scream. Flames licked around the girl's body. The second picture showed the same scene but with the girl missing.
The next three photos were grainy and black-and-white, with white letters and numbers in the bottom left hand corner; Scully guessed they were stills from some kind of security camera. They showed a bank robbery in progress, a masked man with a shotgun standing near the counter and various customers backed up against the wall. In the second photo, the masked man had fired the shotgun and one of the customers, a teenager of around eighteen, was falling to the ground. In the third photo, there was a small bright white dot hovering just above the floor, everyone staring at it in amazement.
Finally there was a single photograph in slightly tainted colour. A security guard was holding a pistol pointed at a flare of white static that had some kind of red electrical energy swirling around it, an expression of astonishment just about to begin on the guard's face.
"Well?" Mulder asked.
Scully looked up at him disapprovingly. "This is another of your tests, isn't it?"
"Bear with me," Mulder requested. "What do you think?"
She looked down at the photographs again. "If I didn't know better I'd think you were asking me about some kind of illegal image processing syndicate. What did they do, retouch a picture without permission?"
"These photos aren't faked," Mulder said, looking pleased as if Scully had given the right answer. He put his finger on the first photograph. "Mary Cahill, Los Angeles. A fire caught the apartment building she was in and she was trapped on the top floor. Witnesses swore they saw her vanish, though the official explanation is she was burnt to death. She was nine and a half." He moved to the second group of photos. "A bank robbery in New York, where a young man by the name of Rob Sanders was shot at point-blank range with a shotgun. He disappeared as he fell to the ground in, quote 'a flash' unquote."
Scully touched the final photo, sitting on its own. "And this?"
"A government records installation in New Jersey last week. An intruder was spotted and held at gunpoint. He vanished in front of the guard's eyes. That flare you see is what swallowed him up." Mulder pushed the photographs together in one big pile. "The intruder was an eighteen-year-old male."
Scully bit her lip thoughtfully. "Teleportation?"
"That's a working hypothesis," Mulder nodded. He tapped the folder. "I picked this up from the FBI offices here in Miami, had it faxed through from HQ. X file reports on teleportation. They go back right to the time of the Bureau's founding; one of the oldest mysteries, Scully. Anecdotes and newspaper reports of vanishings go back even further."
"And what's the connection to Miami?"
Mulder shrugged. "A young girl, Sarah Phillips, disappeared from her home two days ago. In the middle of a hostage situation with sixty cops watching the building, she vanished."
Scully frowned at him. "Mulder, these four people; they're all children."
"Exactly," he nodded again. "Recently, reports have been coming in from other intelligence agencies around the globe as well. The average age of reported teleportees has gone down dramatically. Children are teleporting all over the planet right now."
"Could do wonderful things for the population explosion," Scully said absently. Mulder watched her from the desk as she sat down on the bed, looking thoughtful. When she looked up, it was with another question. "This girl who went missing, Sarah Phillips. Did you speak to her parents? Did she have any?"
Mulder nodded. "They were out of the house when the gunman broke in. Sarah was the only hostage and she vanished without trace. They don't know anything."
Scully made a face. "Then what are you planning to do, Mulder? I don't want to sound depressive, but children and adults disappear without trace every year. How are you going to track anyone else down, especially if they can teleport?"
A slow grin appeared on Mulder's face. "Because there's something else now. Yesterday a young woman appeared out of nowhere eighteen feet above the ground floor of a shopping mall. She was knocked out when she hit the ground, broke a leg, but the doctors say she'll be able to speak today."
Scully glared. "You were saving that," she accused.
Mulder tossed the grey folder to her. "Read some of the case histories while we're en route to the hospital, why don't you?" Putting the photographs in an envelope and the envelope in his pocket, he rose from the desk and pulled his car keys from his suit pocket.
Scully rose as well, looking through the folder. Her eyebrows shot up and she pulled a glossy-cover magazine from the back. "I think this is yours."
Mulder looked at the cover. "I wondered where that had gone." He took it from her and put it into an inside pocket, then led the way out. Grinning, Scully followed.
QANTAS AIRLINES BOEING 747
Ami leaned against the window in the side of the Boeing as it banked to avoid a high range of mountains, pressing her nose to the glass in an effort to see South America far below them. Though the Boeing was travelling at just above the speed of sound, she was still able to pick out the details of the rainforest beneath her - or was it a jungle? Ami was unsure about the difference, or even if there was a difference. With a shrug, since it didn't really matter that much anyway, she continued to stare out of the window. Behind her, on the inside aisle seat of the plane, her mother was asleep, coping with the jet lag they were both going to suffer when they finally reached England.
After a while staring at the continent beneath her, Ami pulled away from the window and leaned back in her seat as well with a sigh. She stretched lazily, then relaxed. The three weeks' holiday in Australia had done her good; she had almost forgotten how good it was to just sit and lie there on the beach with no thought about anything else - like what she was, for example. Travelling by airline had made her almost believe that she was a normal person once again, that she was no different from the other passengers.
She didn't particularly regret being a Tomorrow Person, as Adam liked to call their kind, but it was nice to forget about the responsibilities and problems that seemed to crop up every time she had to exert her powers in some way. Ami snuggled deeper into the comfortable seat and looked at the back of the seat in front of her, then closed her eyes in an attempt to go to sleep.
Her eyes snapped open almost of their own accord and Ami jolted upright in her seat.
Beside her, her mother stirred. "What is it, Ami?" she asked sleepily.
"What? Oh, nothing."
"Don't jerk about so much then." As her mother's eyes closed again, Ami frowned thoughtfully. She knew the difference between dreams and telepathy, and she knew the words had come into her mind from an outside source rather than her subconsciousness. It was a cry for help.
She considered teleporting out of the plane right now, but although the majority of the passengers were asleep the rest of them would undoubtedly be disturbed to see a girl disappearing into thin air. Plus, of course, it would worry her mother no end; the older woman was still uncomfortable seeing her daughter vanish as quickly as it took to snap her fingers. Ami leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes.
WESTON-SUPER-MARE SOMERSET, ENGLAND
"You'll never do it."
"Shut up, Megabyte." Bracing the butt of the rifle against his shoulder, Adam Newman squinted down the sight at the target, a big round circle twenty feet in front of them. He gently increased the pressure on the trigger, holding the rifle steady.
"Not a chance," Megabyte said, hoping to put him off.
"Shut up, Megabyte," Adam repeated, not losing his concentration as he centred the barrel of the rifle on the bull's eye of the target. His finger whitened on the trigger -
Caught off-guard, Adam squeezed the trigger in a sudden convulsive tug. The air rifle jolted against his shoulder and the pellet spanged off the wall of the shed, rolling in the dust on the floor. Megabyte cheered and held out his hand. "Five pounds."
"Shut up a second." Adam had a frown on his face. "I head something. Something telepathic."
"Yeah, right," Megabyte scoffed. "Excuses. Hand over the cash."
Adam, Megabyte, are you there?
"Okay, I heard that."
"It's Ami." Adam pulled Megabyte away from the shooting range, and they retreated behind the shed, away from some of the noise of the funfair. Once they were alone, they could concentrate properly.
Yeah, Ami, we're here. What's up? I thought you were on holiday.
I am. Did you hear anything just now? Anything telepathic?
Hi, Ami. Megabyte, who had lagged behind a little, joined the conversation. What's going on?
I'm not sure. Her telepathic "voice" was filled with puzzlement. We're flying over South America right now, on our way back from Australia. Then I heard this voice in my head that said "save me".
We didn't hear anything in England, Adam noted. Maybe there's a Tomorrow Person in South America who needs help and you heard them call.
Maybe, Ami agreed, but this sounded like it came from somewhere else. Like it was aimed directly at me or something.
Someone who knows you? Megabyte suggested.
Could be, Ami allowed, but there was one thing I was sure of.
There was pain in that voice. Whoever it was, they were in trouble.
MIAMI GENERAL HOSPITAL
Scully followed Mulder into the ward and almost immediately guessed which one of the three young women they were concerned with. About nineteen, with a faintly Latin air to her skin tone and features, was lying in bed with a glazed expression on her face, though her eyes were open, and her left leg was in a cast. Apart from the leg, however, she could have been almost normal, her dark brown hair spraying out over the pillow, dressed in fairly expensive silk pajamas.
"Karen?" Mulder said as he sat down beside the bed. "Karen, this is Dana Scully, friend of mine. Scully, meet Karen Ariquela."
"Hiya," Scully said gently. Karen shifted her head slightly to look at her, but the clear blue eyes were empty of any interest in her. Scully frowned. "Have they been giving her drugs?"
"Some kind of sedative," Mulder nodded.
Scully put a finger on Karen's wrist, feeling for a pulse. It was slower than it ought to have been. "Mulder, she's not going to say much. Looks to me like she's under something, some kind of neural anaesthetic."
"At least it'll stop her disappearing," Mulder remarked. "Karen, can you hear me?"
"Yes." The voice was low and slightly accented, but coherent.
"D'you feel like talking?" Mulder leaned over her a little. "We want to know a bit more about yesterday, Karen. Can you remember anything about it?"
"Don't force yourself, Karen," Scully put in. "Take it gently. If you try and force it, it won't come."
"What do you remember about yesterday, Karen?" Mulder prodded gently.
"Escaped..." She whispered the word, and a spasm of pain crossed her face as she said it. Not physical pain, from the broken leg; it was the memory of something worse.
"Escaped from where?" Mulder asked. "Escaped from being held prisoner?"
Karen nodded very slowly. "Prisoner..." she murmured. "Prisoner in dark place. No way out."
"A dark place? What kind of dark place?"
Karen shivered. One hand flapped briefly at her face, like a dreamer in the middle of a nightmare. Scully leaned forward. "Mulder, don't push that. She doesn't want to remember."
Mulder gave no sign that he'd heard, but he switched his line of questioning. "Karen, where do you come from? Where were you born?"
"Madrid," she answered.
"Madrid. Do you still live in Madrid?"
A brief movement of the head, probably shaking it. "No. Moved to England."
"Where in England?" Mulder pressed.
"Do you know where you are now?"
Mulder frowned. He glanced at Scully, who shrugged. "What's the Galleries, Karen?" she asked.
"Shopping centre...middle of Bristol."
Mulder hesitated, then turned away, moving a few feet back. Scully followed him. "She thinks she's in England," he observed.
"She's taken a hell of a wrong turn," Scully said.
"Not necessarily." Mulder had one of those expressions on his face which she recognised meant he was about to come up with an outrageous idea. "The Earth's rotation could have thrown her out. If she timed her teleportation wrong, she could have ended up halfway round the planet. And orbital motion would interfere as well."
"You're saying it's a miracle she didn't end up on the Moon?"
"Or drifting in orbit forever." Mulder didn't seem to notice Scully's little shiver.
Scully thought of something. "But if you're going to suggest teleporters can control their destination," she suggested, "surely their natural instincts would compensate? The same ability to choose the place would account for these factors."
Mulder frowned. "Unless those instincts were suppressed."
He turned to her. "Think about this a moment, Scully. A Spanish girl living in England who has been kept prisoner somewhere that she can only describe as "a dark place". She teleports away to escape and ends up misjudging her destination by five thousand miles. If her normal instincts'd compensate for orbital drift and rotation, what does that suggest about the "dark place"?"
Scully didn't take more than a few seconds to come up with the answer. "Sensory deprivation."
Mulder nodded. "Exactly. If she was kept in a sensory deprivation tank she'd start to lose all the natural instincts that make us what we are. Trained astronauts used to go mad after a few hours in a tank; an inexperienced girl like herself would suffer even more." He looked at the silent motionless figure. "It's a wonder she escaped."
Scully folded her arms. "So you want to claim that this girl can teleport herself around the globe, but was caught by someone and subjected to sensory deprivation experiments of some kind which resulted in her losing the natural instinct which allowed her to teleport. She managed to regain it, but - "
" - but only partially," Mulder completed. "Yes."
Scully whistled gently. "Mulder, that's a reach even for you."
"Have you got a better idea?"
She opened her mouth, and then realised she hadn't.
The island was uninhabited, and had not been touched by anyone for a million years.
On the south side, where a golden beach stretched for a full undisturbed kilometre, a strange fin-like construction arced up out of the sand. The curved surface was curiously hard and knobbly, like a fragment of shell from some giant egg; it terminated in a swept-back shape that tapered to a point. At the base of the fin, a circular metal hatch was half-covered with sand, symbols that seemed vaguely runic around its edge. Anyone listening would have heard a deep hum coming from the fin, as well as from under the sand around it.
Beneath the sandy cover, twenty feet under the island, the big circular control centre of the buried spacecraft hummed gently to itself. A central column stretched from floor to ceiling, a faint glow filtering through the gaps in the hard uneven crustacean surface; a seesaw-like arrangement was locked in place halfway up the column, a chair at either end of the seesaw. Three-quarters of the control centre protruded into the ocean, the remaining quarter leading into the rest of the ship; in the open three-quarters, a foot-high rectangular strip of some transparent material which was not quite glass allowed anyone in the centre to look out through the water. The light patterns from the ocean played around the control centre, providing the only real illumination and adding a soothing atmosphere to the room.
Beside the column, a burning white light flashed into existence. It shrank to a single point and suddenly extended fingers of static up and down, producing a long line. Red electrical energy snarled and twisted around the static as it grew and shaped itself into a humanoid form. The energy flared brighter as the static coalesced and gave way to outline a young girl of eleven. The outline vanished and the last rush of energy disappeared as the girl came to life.
Jade looked around the control centre of the spaceship expectantly. The expectation was replaced by faint disappointment when nothing happened. "Isn't anyone here?" she complained aloud. Receiving no answer, since nobody was, she moved to one of the windows in the wall of the control centre and stared through into the depths of the ocean, which she guessed was probably the Pacific, it was so blue and clear. One of these days, she would put on a swimsuit and teleport straight out into the water, just to go for a swim.
Her skin tingled suddenly and a rush of pins and needles swept through her. Jade scratched at the backs of her hands, which had started to itch abominably, and turned as Adam and Megabyte appeared out of nowhere six feet in front of her.
"Hi guys!" she said cheerily.
"Hi Jade," Adam said.
"Jade," Megabyte acknowledged.
"What's up?" Jade frowned, noting the serious looks on their faces.
"We think Ami picked up a distress call from one of us," Adam said. He explained the background of their telepathic conversation with Ami as Megabyte crossed to the central column and pulled one of the chairs from the seesaw arrangement down so he could climb into it.
"She told you two? She didn't tell me," Jade said, sounding faintly upset.
"Maybe she wanted two people who could handle it," Megabyte suggested with a grin.
"I'm not an idiot, Megabyte," Jade complained.
"Take no notice of him," Adam urged her. "Ami doesn't know about you yet, we haven't told her. We were saving it as a surprise for when she got home."
"Didn't want to spoil her holiday." Megabyte leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes, concentrating on something. The central column of the spaceship suddenly glowed brightly and a deep roaring sound, like a thousand monks chanting, seemed to come from all around them.
Jade felt suddenly scared. "What's he doing?"
"Mindscan," Adam said. "He's trying to see if he can pick up anyone around the world who's telepathic and in trouble. Start with South America, Megabyte," he added.
"I'm there now," Megabyte said distantly, eyes closed. "I can't feel anything. I'm moving up over Mexico to the States....still nothing. Can't hear - " He stopped abruptly.
"Something?" Adam said sharply.
"Not sure. It's fuzzy...blurred." Megabyte's brow creased in puzzlement. "Coming from Miami. Like someone's being drugged or something."
"Is it one of us?" Adam asked.
"Yes." This time the answer was definite.
"We'll look into it then." Adam moved over to stand by Jade. "Keep scanning, Megabyte."
"You and me?" Jade stared up at Adam with excitement running through her. She liked Adam, a lot, and wouldn't have objected in the slightest if he'd suggested going out together. So far, no such thing had happened, but Jade was an optimistic girl. And if they were going to America together...
"You and me," Adam confirmed. "Megabyte, where in Miami?"
"Miami general hospital," Adam said, looking down at Jade, who was about nine inches shorter than he was. "Okay?"
She nodded. "I'll follow you. I'm not that sure on this teleporting business."
"Sure." Adam closed his eyes and concentrated. Red energy overwhelmed him, he turned into static, and vanished in a flash of white light. A moment later, so did Jade.
MIAMI GENERAL HOSPITAL FLORIDA, USA
Two points of brilliant white light flashed in an empty corridor, expanded into swirls of energy, and became Adam and Jade. They blinked instinctively at the sudden change in light levels; the corridor was dark and silent, and moonlight was coming in through a window at the end of a corridor.
"Looks like they've gone home for the night," Adam said in a whisper. Now he was actually in the hospital building, he could feel the girl - it was definitely a female - who they were looking for, sense her blurred distress and anxiety that was buried beneath a layer of drugs. Jade could obviously sense her too, for she had a funny expression on her face that could only be described as "disturbed".
"I can feel her," she said unnecessarily. "She's on the floor below us."
"I know," Adam nodded. "This way."
Ami carefully moved past her mother and started off down the aisle towards the rear of the plane, noting with amusement how stupid some people looked when they had fallen asleep. A somewhat portly man with greying hair, wearing a business suit, was snoring loudly with his mouth open, and Ami wondered why nobody had thought to drop something in such an inviting receptacle. She smiled and moved on by until she reached the rear of the first-class compartment, heading for the toilet. She pulled aside the curtain and stepped into the little anteroom in between her compartment and the second-class one.
"Hi there," a voice said behind her.
Ami nearly jumped out of her skin. "Megabyte, what are you doing here?"
Megabyte grinned annoyingly at her. "Came looking for you. Listen, that distress call you heard. Have you heard it again?"
Ami shook her head. "No. Should I have?"
Megabyte frowned. "Don't know. We picked up one possibility, at a hospital in Miami, but I don't think that's the right one. The girl in Miami's too fuzzy, too incoherent. She was drugged, I think. It's got to be someone else that sent that call. Anyway, Adam and Jade went to - "
"Jade?" Ami interrupted suddenly. "You mean that girl who - "
Ami stared. "You've got to be joking."
Megabyte shrugged. "She's alright. She's grown up a bit now. She's less of a sprog." He chuckled, then turned serious. "Anyway, they went to the hospital to look at this drugged girl, but it's almost certainly not her. So who made the call?" He peered at her suspiciously.
"Well, I don't know who it is," Ami protested. "Look, we'll be landing at Heathrow in three hours. As soon as we've got back home, I'll warn Mum and then join you and Adam, wherever you are." She realised she was speaking too loudly and lowered her voice. "I'm as worried as you are, Megabyte. Whoever sent that distress call was obviously in big trouble. As soon as we land, I'll join you."
Megabyte nodded. "Alright."
"Oh, Megabyte." Ami thought of something suddenly. "There was one thing."
"Whoever sent that cry for help...it sounded almost familiar. Like it was someone we'd met before."
MIAMI GENERAL HOSPITAL
"Are you sure you're staying for the whole evening?"
Scully turned to look at the doctor who had spoken. He was a young man, about twenty-five, with close-cropped dark hair which looked like an army legacy. Arms folded, he was looking at them in the same way as the past three hospital people who had confronted them about Mulder's idea of a night-time vigil. Scully sympathised; she hadn't been expecting to stay up all night herself, but Mulder wanted to wait for the anaesthetic to wear off so he could talk to Karen Ariquela properly.
"We're sure, thanks," she said, with a polite smile. "It's important."
"She's only a young woman," the doctor frowned. "I don't see how she could be FBI business."
Mulder spoke without looking up. "We're staying."
"Thanks anyway," Scully said to the doctor, with a nod. The young man chewed his lower lip for a moment, then nodded brusquely and started back out of the ward, footsteps echoing on the cold silent floor. Scully waited until he'd gone, then turned to her partner. "Mulder, are you sure about this? Can't we just wait until the morning?"
"Suppose she disappears again?" Mulder was sitting on the bed next to Karen's, which was empty, with his chin resting on his hand as he watched the motionless girl.
"There's no proof yet that she's a teleporter," Scully said. "According to the case history, the only witness to her miraculous appearance was a drunken tramp who'd wandered into the mall by mistake. It was late afternoon, there weren't many people around."
"She appeared twenty feet in the air!"
"So the tramp said," she shot back. "How do we know he wasn't just making it up to get attention?"
Mulder sighed. "Scully, bear with me. I've got a hunch."
"Oh. No arguing with that. Move up a bit then." Mulder shifted sideways and Scully joined him in sitting on the hospital bed. For a few minutes they sat in silence.
"I've got that magazine with me," Mulder said after a while. "You can read it if you like."
"It's not my style. Thanks anyway."
The ward door opened and two people came in. Mulder and Scully looked up and saw a young man of about eighteen enter, followed by a much younger girl, maybe only ten or eleven. Because the ward was dark, they hadn't seen the two FBI agents.
"Where is she?" the girl whispered.
"Over there," the boy said with certainty, starting towards Karen's bed. Mulder nudged Scully silently and they stood up. At the same time, Mulder flicked on Karen's bedside light.
"This isn't visiting hours," he said with deceptive blandness.
The boy and girl stopped dead; they obviously hadn't expected anyone else to be in the ward. They started to back away towards the doors.
"Don't," Scully said hastily, stepping away from Karen's bed out into the centre of the ward. "We won't hurt you. We just want to know why you're interested in Karen."
"FBI," Mulder added.
The girl looked to her companion. "Adam?"
"Sorry," the boy said. "We'll come back later."
They turned and ran to the doors. Mulder rushed past Scully and she followed a moment later, her reactions slightly slower. As they neared the ward exit, Scully hesitated and started to slow. Mulder shot right through the door as she turned back towards Karen, just in time to see the white flash begin just beside the bed. Watching in stunned silence, Scully saw the flash expand into static, swirl with energy, and then become the girl who had been at the ward entrance a second ago. She moved forward and put her hands on Karen.
Reacting with speed, Scully drew her gun. "Don't move!"
The girl looked up.
"Can you disappear faster than a bullet could travel the space between us?" Scully hated to sound threatening, but she knew that there was a constant risk the girl would simply disappear in the same abrupt fashion as she had arrived. "Do you want to try?"
The girl hesitated. "No," she admitted.
"Take your hands off Karen and step back." Scully didn't waver the gun in the slightest. She guessed the girl would take the first chance she got to disappear. She waited until her captive had done as instructed before moving forwards, to stand by Karen. "Sit down on the bed," she ordered.
Jade sat down and felt even more depressed. Mulder skidded round the corner just in time to see the flash light up the gaps in the doors of the next ward with startling brightness. A moment later, as he pushed open the doors, he found as expected that the ward was completely empty. Disappointment overwhelmed him and he turned back to return to the ward where they were keeping Karen. At least he knew they were on the right track now; the two teenagers must have been teleporters as well, come to rescue their fellow. The idea occurred to him that perhaps Karen had committed some crime and the punishment had been the sensory deprivation experiment.
He pushed open the door of Karen's ward and stopped in surprise, seeing Scully holding the young girl at gunpoint. "Explain yourself, Scully," he said with dry humour.
"She teleported in here behind us to try and pick up Karen," Scully answered. "It was lucky I turned back to check, otherwise we wouldn't have anything to go on." She looked down at the girl. "As it is, Jade here's given us another chance to investigate."
"Jade," Mulder noted, as if trying the name out. He advanced into the ward until he was standing at the foot of Karen's bed. Jade's eyes followed him warily. "Hi," Mulder said.
"Hi," she answered reluctantly.
"English accent," Mulder noted aloud. Scully, standing out of Jade's sight, nodded in acknowledgement. Mulder sat down on the bed beside Jade. "So what are you doing trying to steal Karen, Jade?"
"We weren't stealing her!" she said indignantly. "Just trying to - "
"Just trying to what?" Mulder prompted when she fell silent. "Jade, Scully saw you teleport. There's no secret to be kept anymore. What were you going to do with Karen?"
Jade looked at him defiantly and said nothing. Mulder sighed. "You're a long way from home, Jade. The secret's out. Why keep quiet? Maybe we can help you and Karen."
Jade looked askance at the FBI agent and wished Adam was there. PACIFIC ISLANDS Adam materialised in the control centre of the spaceship with a sinking feeling that things weren't exactly holding together well. He threw himself down against one of the slanting buttresses that encircled the control centre and assumed an expression of mulish dissatisfaction. Slowly, this gave way to worry, then anxiety when Jade failed to appear. Despite his protests to Megabyte, Adam had a certain amount of affection for Jade's doe-eyed adoration of him, though her endless enthusiasm was a little wearing at times. He wondered if she had left the hospital in Miami or if she was still there, possibly being interrogated by the two FBI agents who had been waiting beside the bed of the drugged girl. And there was still the matter of the telepathic distress call Ami had heard whilst flying over South America.
Adam closed his eyes and concentrated. Megabyte, where are you?
The reply took a few seconds, as if the thought's owner was distracted. Heathrow. Waiting for Ami and her mum to arrive. Their flight's due in forty-five minutes; it's early. How did your visit go?
Not good, Adam replied briefly. Come back to the spaceship.
To his credit, Megabyte seemed to sense the urgency in the thought; it was barely a second before Adam felt the pins-and-needles sensation in his arms that signified a teleportation about to begin. Sure enough, there was a flash about six feet in front of him which grew and became the red-headed American. Megabyte was holding a stick of candy floss and chewing; he swallowed it as he saw Adam was on his own. "Where's Jade?"
"Don't know." Adam outlined what had happened in Miami for Megabyte's benefit, then added, "I want you to go back there and find out what's going on."
"Because those two FBI agents know me," Adam pointed out reasonably. "I'll meet Ami at Heathrow. You go back and try and find out what's happened to Jade. Don't try telepathy, she's not experienced enough yet."
"Sure, okay." Megabyte was about to teleport, then hesitated. "Oh."
"I picked something else up on the scan after you and Jade left."
Adam waited expectantly. "What?"
Megabyte frowned in puzzlement. "I don't know...it wasn't right. Didn't feel like one of us, y'know? It was kind of dark. Like a black hole or something. It was pitch black, like a night with moon."
Adam considered this. The mindscan ability was not something they used often, because it was imprecise and often failed to get results; it could be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Sometimes it seemed to depend on the particular person's mood, while at others it was the ship that seemed responsible for deliberately fudging the scan. They knew they couldn't do it without the ship, but at times the ship acted like it didn't want them to use the ability. One more puzzling thing about the ancient vessel.
Megabyte had described the strange thing as "dark"; often, Adam remembered, things tended to show up as colours. A concentration of blue, for example, often meant a Tomorrow Person who was about to break out, whose abilities were starting to surface. But never had Adam seen anything pitch black before.
He noticed Megabyte was looking depressed and clapped him on the shoulder. "It's not that bad."
"It was weird," Megabyte shrugged. "Never seen it before. It was kinda chilling."
"Yeah, well." Adam dismissed it from his foremost thoughts, though it continued to lurk at the back of his mind. "We'll check it out when we get Jade back and Ami's turned up. Let's go."
ENGLAND SOUTH COAST
Ami looked out through the window of the Boeing as it left the sea and began to travel over land with a sudden sense of danger.
The plane was heading directly into a thunderstorm, lightning occasionally flashing down and illuminating the sheets of rain that were sweeping past the aircraft as it headed towards Heathrow. Most of the passengers on the plane were awake now, including Ami's mother, who was reading a magazine beside her daughter. She looked up, saw the storm through the window, and grimaced. "Back to good old English weather."
Ami said nothing. She was still thinking about the telepathic call and Megabyte's brief visit, in which he had mentioned something about Adam going to Miami to investigate a drugged Tomorrow Person who might be the source of the call. Yet though she had been flying over South America at the time, Ami had the feeling that the call had nothing to do with geographical location; it was something to do with past knowledge, with being familiar to the person who had called.
"Ami?" Her mother prodded her.
"Huh? Oh, sorry, Mum." Ami offered a weak smile. "Just thinking."
Her mother's eyes narrowed. "Is this about - "
"Yes," Ami said, interrupting her. "Something's wrong."
"I can't - I don't know. I'm not sure." Ami allowed the worry she was feeling inside to show on her face. "There's one of us in trouble somewhere, not Adam or Megabyte or this new girl, Jade. It's someone else, possibly someone new. He's in pain."
"He?" her mother queried.
Ami started to nod, then hesitated. A frown appeared again. "Yes," she said thoughtfully. "I think it's a he. And I just have this feeling that I know him, whoever he is."
"If I were you -" her mother started to say.
The shout came from behind them. A moment later a man in a greenish-grey uniform that looked like some army clothing dashed past them and turned at the end of the compartment, holding a dull green object in one hand; Ami recognised a hand grenade. Another man joined the first, then pushed past him and moved forward into the cockpit of the plane.
"This is a hijack," the man with the grenade snarled. "Nobody move or do anything stupid and you won't get hurt. We don't want to kill anyone but we will."
Ami started to shift in her seat and her mother stopped her with a warning hand. Ami removed the hand with a reassuring smile and turned just enough to look back over the seats. Two more men were standing at the other end of the first-class compartment with machine guns in their hands, covering all the passengers in the area. Ami was about to sit round again when someone else entered the compartment.
He was small; that was the first thing she noticed about him. He was also scruffy, wearing baggy black jeans held up with braces over a black t-shirt. Colour was added by the long green denim shirt he wore over the top. His hair was a confused tangle of black, and his features were almost Roman, with a sharp aquiline nose and piercing blue eyes. He surveyed the compartment silently and his eyes met Ami's. She knew in an instant, somehow, that she was who he was looking for; and he seemed to know at the same second who she was.
Without hesitating, he strode forward until he was level with their seats. Ami moved with him, staring up at him as he drew level. For a moment, they faced each other in silence, until he spoke. "Who are you?" The voice was quiet but hard-edged, and seemed too mature for the body.
"My name's Ami," she responded.
"Fleet," he acknowledged. "Stand up."
"What do you want with her?" her mother demanded.
"Please be quiet," Fleet requested coolly without looking down. "Stand up," he repeated. Ami hesitated, and Fleet's eyes hardened. He leaned forward. "I'm not going to say it a third time."
Ami took a long moment to decide. She reached out and touched her mother's shoulder, in a casual gesture anyone might make. Then she closed her eyes, concentrated, and they both disappeared in a swirl of static and a flash of white light.
Fleet growled, showing white teeth. "I never thought she'd do that," he muttered.
MIAMI GENERAL HOSPITAL
Fox Mulder sat beside the silent unmoving form of Karen Ariquela and tried not to fall asleep. Across the ward, he could see Scully talking to Jade, or rather asking questions of Jade. Despite their best persuasions, Jade had refused to talk, though they had extracted from her a promise not to teleport away, at least for the moment. Mulder wondered whether they could rely on her to keep her word; certainly she had no need to, since despite what Scully had said he suspected she could easily disappear before they had even pulled the trigger of the gun. Their best chance lay in the fact that, abilities notwithstanding, she was still eleven years old and with any luck acted just like one as well.
The ward doors opened and Mulder looked up, blinking, as a shaft of light fell on his face. He moved out of the way of the light beam and frowned questioningly as several men dressed in the clothing of medical orderlies advanced into the ward. "This ward's off-limits," he said. "FBI business."
"I'm afraid this investigation just got taken out of your hands," the lead orderly said. His hand seemed to blur for a second, and a moment later he was holding a revolver aimed in Mulder's direction. One of the other orderlies was already covering Scully and Jade.
"What's going on here?" Mulder asked.
"Quiet. Let's not make a scene." The leader gestured and two of his comrades moved over to Karen Ariquela, lifting her off the bed. A third frisked Mulder and removed his gun; the same happened to Scully.
"Where are you taking her?"
"I said quiet." The click of the safety-catch being taken off was loud in the silence of the ward.
What happened next happened very fast.
A bright flash momentarily blinded Mulder, as he was looking straight at the lead orderly. Seconds later, as his sight returned, he saw a red-headed young man appear out of a haze of static right beside the leader. The newcomer blinked, surprised, and reacted immediately by jumping on the man and knocking him to the ground.
"Go, Jade!" he shouted. Jade hesitated for a moment, then grabbed Scully. As the older woman started to pull free they dissolved and vanished.
Mulder grabbed the man who had just frisked him and snatched his gun back. As the two men carrying Karen started to put her down, he knocked down the man beside him and fired a single shot in the air. Everybody froze motionless.
"Put the guns down," Mulder said to the man who had taken Scully's weapon. "Now."
Carefully, the orderly lowered the guns to the floor. "Now stand in the centre of the room. You," he added to the young man, "come on over here."
Megabyte joined the FBI agent as the orderlies gathered together in the middle of the room. "Hi there," he said. "I'm Megabyte, by the way."
"Fox Mulder." The agent kept the orderlies covered. "Where did Scully and Jade go?"
Megabyte shrugged. "Wherever Jade chose. They'll be alright. What do we do about these guys?"
"Pick up the guns." Mulder's gun hand didn't waver an inch as Megabyte collected the orderlies' weapons and those lying on the floor. "Now call the hospital security. We'll - "
The ward doors swung open a second time. Megabyte and Mulder, half- blinded by the sudden influx of light into the dull ward, just made out the figure of a young man, about five foot ten, rushing into the ward. He dived into the centre of the group of orderlies, each of whom grabbed hold of him; then static surrounded them. In a corona of sparkly red energy, they disappeared.
Mulder was the first to find his voice. "That was one of your kind," he said.
Megabyte nodded. "I know," he said uneasily.
Adam paced impatiently back and forth along the floor of the terminal, glancing every so often through the big rain-soaked plate glass window that looked out onto the runway where the Qantas Boeing 747 had landed five minutes ago. He guessed Ami and her mother must be going through Customs, and he waited anxiously for them to finish. He was uncomfortable with hanging around like this so much.
The voice brought him spinning round on one heel, and he saw Ami and her mother rushing towards him, worry on both their faces. Adam realised something else was wrong, and he moved forward to meet them. "What's up?"
Breathless, Ami recounted what had happened on the plane. She had teleported herself and her mother directly to the women's toilets at the airport terminal. "He said his name was Fleet," she added at the end of the story. "Adam, he was one of us. I'm sure of it."
Adam frowned. "We'd know him, wouldn't we?"
Ami shook her head. "Not if he was avoiding us. Look, the hijack didn't happen until we were over the English coast. We'd been on the plane for over ten hours before then. The hijackers couldn't have waited all that time. They must have teleported on board, with Fleet's help." She bit her lip worriedly. "I saw something there, in his eyes. I'm sure he was a Tomorrow Person."
Adam puffed his cheeks out uncertainly. "A renegade?"
"This could be very dangerous," Ami's mother interrupted. "We should call the police. Now."
"No," Adam said suddenly. "No, I've got a better idea. General Damon. He'll know more about all this. Ami, we'll go and - "
Adam, where are you? The telepathic voice was tinged with panic and worry, and both Adam and Ami recognised it instantly as coming from Jade. Adam, this is all going wrong. I need you to come back to the spaceship, quickly. Please help me!
Jade, what's wrong? Adam ignored the expression of confusion on Ami's mother's face at the way both of them had instantly withdrawn from conversation, a look of detachment on their faces.
It's that girl - at Miami - and Megabyte - and this FBI agent here - and I - Adam, please!
A different telepathic voice intervened. Jade, it's me, Ami. Just wait a moment. We'll be there in a second. Ami turned to her mother. "Mum, that's Jade calling for help. We've got to go. Just get our luggage, go home, and try not to worry."
"Try not to worry!"
"Please," she begged. "It's important."
Her mother relented. "Alright. Be careful."
"Come on." Adam was already running towards the toilets. With a last wave to her mother, Ami followed him, both of them skidding through the door of the gents' and earning an outraged shout from the attendant. As he started through the door, a flash nearly blinded him. Opening the door wide, he stared in amazement at the empty room.
Scully noticed a sudden change in the air. A moment later the hairs on her arms tingled and pins-and-needles swept through her. She turned as two flashes illuminated the control centre of the spaceship like day, before contracting to bright points. Two thin columns of static arose, one from each star, and as the static expanded bright scarlet energy crackled around the forming shapes. Seconds afterwards two young people, one male and one female, solidified out of the static and the outline around them vanished. Even though it was the second teleportation she'd seen that day, the process was so smooth and filled with such natural energy it took Scully's breath away.
Adam looked at the red-haired FBI agent in front of him. She was in her early thirties with a face that was not conventionally attractive but had a kind of stable strong beauty to it nonetheless. She wore a neat trouser suit with her FBI badge attached to the breast pocket, though her hair was slightly mussed and she was looking a little harassed at the moment.
"Hi there," he said, giving a little wave.
Scully returned the gesture. "Hi."
Jade appeared behind Scully. "Hi guys," she said, looking a little shamefaced. "Sorry about this. This is all my fault."
"S'okay, Jade," Adam said reassuringly. He grinned at Scully. "We'd better introduce ourselves. I'm Adam, and this is Ami. That's Jade over there."
"Dana Scully." They shook hands. "Now why don't you tell me what's going on?" Scully suggested.
MIAMI GENERAL HOSPITAL
Megabyte helped the man who had introduced himself as Fox Mulder to lift the motionless Karen back onto her hospital bed with a slight sense of foreboding. Though Jade had escaped, taking the other FBI agent - Mulder had referred to her as Scully - Megabyte had a feeling that he wasn't quite as lucky. The fake orderlies who had attempted to steal Karen had been taken away by the hospital security guards, but that still left him alone with Karen and Mulder.
"Okay then." Mulder sat down on the bed. "You, Jade, Karen, and that other boy who came in with Jade and then escaped. You're teleporters."
"Guess so," Megabyte muttered sullenly.
"Hey." Mulder waited until the boy's eyes were on him. "I'm on your side."
"Yeah, right. The last time the government got involved with us was to experiment on us and use us as some kinda secret weapon."
"Why does that not surprise me?" Mulder said drily. "Listen, Megabyte. The FBI may not be the world's best organisation, but Scully and I are a little different from the usual. We investigate the FBI's X files - cases that can't be explained by ordinary rational answers. You people have been around for a long time, or people like you, disappearing and reappearing."
Megabyte frowned. "We have?"
Megabyte considered this. "Yeah, well, you might be right. We've certainly been here some time. The first one of us was Tutankhamun, the Egyptian pharoah? He got killed by this bloke called Sam Rees before he reached full use of his powers, but we've been off and on ever since then."
Mulder nodded. "Do you know why or how you can teleport?"
Megabyte took a deep breath. "Yeah. Adam calls us the Tomorrow People. He says we're the next stage of evolution for mankind. We're taking our time establishing ourselves but eventually everybody's gonna break out and replace homo sapiens. So he says."
"Another evolutionary stage?" Mulder's eyebrows had skyrocketed upwards. "That would explain a few things."
"Like the abilities appearing in children. Evolution's a response to the need for some ability or power that is lacking in the current form of the species. One of the reasons the Neanderthals died out was because they didn't have the ability to think or adapt like we do, and conditions on Earth were changing. Get an anthropologist to study the situation and he'll find a reason for the human species to develop teleportation."
Megabyte shrugged. "I guess so. I don't know. I don't feel much different. The only thing is having this kind of group link."
"A group link?"
"I'm linked to her." He nodded to the silent Karen. "And Adam, Jade, and Ami. All the others around the world; we've met several. And those who haven't broken out yet but are going to. I know where they are. If I concentrate, I can know what they're feeling. I can communicate with any of them."
"You're telepathic as well?"
Megabyte gave a slightly shamefaced grin at giving away another secret. "Yeah."
Mulder looked down at Karen. "That might explain it. Scully and I had a theory that she'd been subjected to a sensory deprivation experiment of some kind. If that meant she lost the group link you all share, it might account for her being so disturbed. She mentioned dark."
Megabyte shivered suddenly, and Mulder noticed it. "What?"
"She mentioned dark?" Megabyte scratched his nose thoughtfully. "One of us, a girl called Ami, picked up this telepathic distress call when she was flying back from South America. We sort of did a telepathic scan of the area and I sensed this kind of black area. A darkness. Did she mention that?"
Megabyte frowned. "Maybe...maybe some kind of lab where they're carrying out experiments on people like us. Karen must have escaped by some coincidence or something. They must have found some way of stopping us teleporting, so maybe that's the darkness."
Mulder leaned forward. "Where was this...this darkness?"
Megabyte shrugged. "Can't tell."
Frustrated, Mulder leaned back again. "There's something we're missing...." He looked up suddenly. "How will you know where to find Jade and Scully?"
Megabyte shrugged again. "That's easy. They'll be back at the spaceship by now."
"Yeah." Megabyte recounted the story of how they had discovered the ancient craft buried beneath the Pacific island. "Anyway, we use it as a base now," he concluded. "It acts a bit like some kinda magnet as well, pulling newcomers to it. Jade teleports there most of the time, if she's not concentrating."
Mulder stood up. "We have to go there. I need to talk to Scully."
"I have a theory about this darkness. I think I know where it is. But I need to talk to Scully."
Megabyte shrugged. "Okay. I'll take you. But only if Karen comes as well."
Mulder nodded. "Alright. What happens?"
"Put your hands on Karen." Megabyte did the same thing. "Ready?"
Static shrouded them all and they vanished.
PROJECT DOLPHIN ISLE OF WIGHT, ENGLISH CHANNEL
Static and energy flashed in the laboratory and solidified to become Fleet. He shook his head in disgust. "Damn it, that should have gone better."
Seated at a console opposite him, a burly man with a black and grey beard looked up. "Did you get her?"
"No we didn't," Fleet muttered, "no. She teleported herself and her mother right out of the plane. Looks like she's got more control than most of the ones we've got so far." He leaned on the console and stared the burly man, whose name was Williams, right in the eyes. "I think she's linked to the spaceship crew. Adam, Megabyte, and Jade. Your intelligence was wrong."
Williams refused to be provoked. "The project hasn't been running long. We can't be perfect. As far as we knew, she was just on holiday in Australia. Pretending to hijack the plane en route back to England seemed the perfect way to abduct her."
"Well, it wasn't," Fleet snapped. He turned away from the console and moved down along the length of the laboratory, which was a shadowy rectangular room filled with vertical cabinets each the size of a person. The interior of each cabinet was invisible behind frosted glass. There were twenty cabinets, ten on either side of the laboratory; each cabinet was connected to a complex console, which in turn was linked to the central one at which Williams sat. Fleet tapped against a cabinet. "This one caused enough trouble because you didn't realise he had been part of the group. I told you; they have access to the spaceship, it gives them far more control of their abilities than any of the others."
"I know," Williams said patiently. "We need to leave them well alone and not arouse their suspicions."
"Well, arouse their suspicions we have." Fleet nodded towards where the door of one cabinet stood ajar. "Especially when Karen Ariquela escaped. That was a catastrophic error."
"And the men responsible have been punished." Williams was slowly beginning to lose his cool. "Fleet, we have been over this ground before. There will be no more mistakes. It was impossible for us to find out that Ami was one of those with access to the spaceship because we've only been operational for a month. Now we are safe; you don't need to worry anymore."
"Worry?" Fleet spun on one heel and walked back to the console. "I'm not worried, Williams. I'm concerned for you."
"Oh yes. I can always disappear if this project fails. You? You lose everything. Including your life." Fleet smiled snidely at him. "Now, bearing that in mind, let's get on with it. We've filled sixteen cabinets and that's given us partial control, but it's not enough. Get your people to work on it. Four more. Now."
"This is incredible," Mulder said, running a finger over the runic symbols inscribed at the base of the column in the centre of the room. The column glowed into life and the deep roaring sound echoed through the control centre; Mulder hastily withdrew his hand.
Adam watched with pride. "It's a great place," he allowed. "Look, Mr Mulder, this is getting us nowhere. We really need to hear what this theory of yours is about where the darkness is. If there are others of us involved or trapped somewhere, we have to rescue them."
Scully stepped forward, ducking under the big arm of the seesaw device. "Rushing in headlong won't help, Adam."
"Neither will waiting," Mulder said unexpectedly. "He's right, Scully. We have to move pretty quickly on this one."
She looked down. "What? Why?"
"Because whoever they are," Ami said, from her position sitting beside Mulder, "they're experimenting on Tomorrow People for some reason. They've already got some of us helping them, like Fleet and the one who rescued the fake orderlies from the hospital in Miami. Whatever they're experimenting for, I don't think it's good."
"Experimenting?" Jade asked queasily.
"It's worse than that, Scully," Mulder added. "Think what these kids could be as weapons. They could carry nuclear warheads anywhere and set them off. Even hypnotised to act as suicide bombers. There's no defence against them, not that we know of. Megabyte said this was tried once before."
"Colonel Masters and Lady Mulroney," Adam nodded.
"So we can't wait for the cavalry on this one," Mulder concluded. "We have to move now."
Scully took a moment, but eventually nodded. "Yes," she said simply.
"So where's the darkness?" Megabyte insisted.
Mulder turned to look at him. "Something Karen said. She thought she was in Bristol when she arrived in the shopping mall, right? The experiments they were carrying out threw her instincts out and she forgot orbital rotation and drift."
"It doesn't work like that," Adam frowned. "As long as you know the place where you want to be, you get there."
"Normally, yes," Scully nodded. "Sensory deprivation experiments work against that, though. Imagine losing sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste all at once. Most of the time your other senses become sharper if you lose one; blind people hear better than sighted ones, for example."
"Evolution again," Mulder put in. "When there's a need for something, nature provides it."
"In the case of Karen, she lost her other senses as well," Scully said. "Her telepathic link to every other Tomorrow Person around the world, her sense of place which was so vital to teleportation. She didn't have time to adapt to that before she had to teleport away from the place where they were carrying out the experiments."
"How does that tell us where she was?" Jade frowned.
"Backtrack it," Mulder said simply. "You can work it out because you have the same ability. Scully and I can't do it, but any of you can. If we gave you the time and place all you would have to do is follow your instincts, let them take you back along her route."
"The Arcadia shopping mall, Miami Beach, June 16th," Scully supplied.
Megabyte frowned. "I don't get this."
"I do," Jade said, surprising herself as much as anyone. "If we were as messed-up as Karen and ended up in Florida instead of Bristol, where would we have started from?"
"It's like having the answer without knowing the question," Adam said. "Instead of working out where she went, we work out where she came from."
"Exactly," Mulder nodded. "Can you do it?"
Adam looked at the others, then nodded. "I think so. If we do it together. Jade, Megabyte, come over here. We'll all go at once."
"Wait." Mulder got to his feet. "Take us with you."
"Sorry," Megabyte said automatically.
"No, wait, I mean it." Mulder's expression was serious as he looked the four youngsters over. "Whoever kidnapped Karen Ariquela, and probably other Tomorrow People as well, they could get around all your special abilities. Scully and I can help."
"He's right," Adam said, before Megabyte could object. "Okay, everybody link hands, one of us on either side of Scully and Mulder. We'll take them all with us."
"The ship could help," Ami volunteered.
"Sure," Adam nodded. "Everyone ready?"
Adam, Jade, Megabyte, and Ami took deep breaths, and closed their eyes. Scully and Mulder watched as tense expressions appeared on their faces. The central column of the spaceship glowed into life and the deep roaring echoed around them, louder and more powerful than they'd heard before. Pain flickered briefly on the teenagers' faces, and suddenly a staticky outline appeared around the six people. Tendrils of energy curled over their bodies, crackled and swirled around them. Scully saw Mulder dissolve into static, tried to look at herself, and realised she couldn't move. Her vision clouded over and she lost consciousness.
PROJECT DOLPHIN ISLE OF WIGHT, ENGLISH CHANNEL
A huge flash, almost as bright as a sun, lit up the laboratory like it was daylight. With a cry, Williams overbalanced and fell backwards off his chair, shielding his eyes. He dragged himself up as a huge cloud of static grew up out of nowhere and separated into six forms. Energy danced over their forms, earthing itself occasionally on the floor of the laboratory, as the static coalesced and solidified into people. The outline vanished and the new arrivals came to life.
Williams reached for his gun; Mulder had his drawn first. "Don't," was all the agent said. Williams stopped moving and raised his hands.
"Look at this!" Jade was crouched by one of the cabinet control consoles, examining it excitedly. She reached out a hand towards one of the switches.
"Don't touch it," Scully said suddenly, pulling Jade's hand back. She rubbed with one hand against the translucent surface of the cabinet and, shading her eyes, peered inside. "There's someone in there," she said, "probably in suspended animation. Maybe one of you."
She turned away from the cabinet and walked towards the main control console, her heels clicking loudly in the silence of the laboratory. Williams moved aside at Mulder's orders and Scully sat down in the chair. "It looks like...like some kind of suspended animation system," she noted absently, reading displays. "More sophisticated than anything I've seen before, though."
"Probably because it's to contain Tomorrow People," Mulder said. "Different brain system at the very least, probably different DNA structure as well."
"This cabinet's open," Megabyte said suddenly. "Could be where they were keeping Karen, until she escaped, if - "
"Megabyte!" Ami interrupted. "Over here!"
Mulder and Scully watched as Megabyte joined the young coloured girl at the cabinet door. His face showed shock, then disbelief, then unhappiness.
"What is it?" Adam asked.
Megabyte turned away dully. "It's Kevin."
"Kevin?" Adam was shocked.
"That must be why I thought the distress call was familiar," Ami said. "It must have been Kevin."
"Adam." Mulder beckoned him over. "Check through that door. Teleport back here at the first sign of danger and don't take any risks, understand?"
"Understood," Adam nodded. He crossed the laboratory and put his hand on the doorhandle just as it started to turn from the other side. Adam backed away as Fleet stepped into the laboratory and regarded him with some surprise.
"Hello," he said mildly.
"That's him! Fleet!" Ami said warily.
"Hello, Ami." Fleet walked into the main part of the laboratory and took in Williams standing in surrender with Mulder's gun trained on him. "Looks like you people have it all under control here."
"What's going on here?" Adam demanded. "What are you doing?"
"I can answer some of that already," Scully said, looking up from the console. "Each of these cabinets serves a dual function. To keep the person inside alive, though deprived of all their natural senses - and to tap into some of their brain centres."
"Tap in?" Jade repeated blankly.
"The project is called Dolphin," Fleet said calmly. "Funded internationally. Its purpose was to examine the brain structures of Tomorrow People the world over, find a common standard, and thus learn how to tap into the centre of our brains that controlled teleportation."
"And then what?" Megabyte asked.
"To use it," Fleet said simply. "This setup is the first of several around the world; there's another in the USA, and a third in Russia. When there are twenty people in the cabinets, sufficient control is achieved to provide a stable teleport control system. Essentially, the teleportation abilities of the people in the cabinets are channelled through the machine and it can be used, then, to move anyone, whether or not they are Tomorrow People."
"Like a transporter," Mulder said. "Straight out of Star Trek."
"Exactly," Fleet nodded.
"It's obscene!" Ami protested. "Like experimenting on animals!"
"That's the first half of Dolphin," Fleet continued. "The second point is that a DNA matrix is being constructed from the constant examination procedures. Soon, there'll be enough knowledge around the world to be able to prompt the DNA chain reaction that causes a person to break out. The governments will be able to create Tomorrow People - out of their soldiers, their ministers, even their presidents. Artificially created evolution, if you like."
Adam's eyes were filled with horror. "Most people don't know how to use our abilities, only how to misuse them. If people get to teleport and be telepathic before their time - "
"There could be havoc," Scully completed hollowly.
Mulder came to a decision. "Alright, listen. Project Dolphin is being closed down - at least, the English part of it is, anyway. Scully and I can go back to America and ferret out our third."
He looked momentarily sad. "We can only hope."
"What, and that's it?" Megabyte demanded. "Everything's okay because Agent Mulder says it is?"
"Not quite." Mulder turned to Fleet. "Revive the ones in the cabinets. Let them out."
Fleet hesitated, then moved across to the console. Scully shifted aside to let him sit down. As he did so, Fleet looked at Adam, Megabyte, Ami and Jade, gathered together in one area of the laboratory. There was a cold light in his eyes that made them shiver.
Fleet moved his gaze back to Mulder. "You'll probably regret this."
"Won't be the first time," said Mulder.
Forgotten for the moment, Williams suddenly reached inside his jacket pocket. Mulder started round, but the other man already had his gun out and was firing. Fleet clutched his left shoulder as the bullet tore through it, falling sideways off the chair. Energy flickered around him and he was vanishing into static before he hit the ground. The flash came a second later, just as Mulder fired. Williams was thrown back against the wall by the shot; he slid down the wall, leaving a bloody trail behind him.
"Scully, see what you can do at the console," he said. He turned to the four Tomorrow People, standing near the cabinets. "Sorry."
Adam frowned. "I don't know if he was one of us or not."
"He teleported," Ami said in puzzlement.
"Yeah, but look at the way he was acting," Megabyte said. "None of us would ever act like that."
"Perhaps he was some kind of throwback," Adam suggested. "He had the abilities of one of us but in his mind he was still one of them. No offence."
"None taken," Mulder smiled.
MIAMI BEACH FLORIDA, USA
The beach at night was almost empty, except for a few brave souls who were experimenting with a bit of night swimming. Near the edge of the road, there was a flash of light which expanded into static and became Adam, Scully, and Mulder.
"Time to say goodbye," Adam said. "And thanks for promising not to tell anyone about us or Fleet once you've found Dolphin and stopped it."
Scully smiled tiredly. "You deserve the chance, Adam."
"Yeah, well." Adam put his hand out and she shook it with a smile. Then he turned to Mulder, who for a long moment said nothing.
"Good luck," he said eventually.
"You're the ones we're going to pass the torch to," Mulder said. "Good luck with the new world."
They shook hands and Mulder shaded his eyes as Adam teleported away. He looked sideways at Scully, who was looking at him pensively. "Something wrong, Scully?"
"You really think they're the next stage of evolution?"
Mulder considered for a moment. "They could be. They were good kids, responsible. They found that spaceship alright. I think they could be our future, Scully. Does it bother you?"
"A bit," Scully admitted. "It's not the nicest thought, that I could be the last vestige of one evolutionary form giving way to another."
Mulder grinned. "Yeah, but we've got our advantages too, Scully. I can go into bars and buy a drink without having to show my ID card. You can legally drink, smoke, and chase men."
A reluctant smile appeared on her lips. "Want to go and do the first of those? That hotel I was in has a great bar. I wouldn't mind forgetting work for an hour or so. Besides, you're on vacation."
Mulder nodded. "Sure."
They started to walk along the beach road.
"Mind you," he said, "we've still got to find the American part of Project Dolphin."
"D'you reckon they'll keep the secret?" Jade asked.
Megabyte nodded. "Yeah. They were good people. I think they will."
"I hope they will," Ami said. "We've got our own way to go, but we need time to get there."
Adam, leaning against one of the buttresses looking out into the endless blue depths of the Pacific, grinned as heard them. "Like Mulder told me," he said, "good luck with the new world." He looked out into the sea. "We may be the next stage of evolution, but I think meeting Fleet just taught us a big lesson."
"Which was?" Megabyte prompted.
Adam turned away from the sea. "Things won't be perfect, even when everyone in the world is telepathic and we're all linked to each other. We'll always have to work at it. We'll never be perfect."
Ami nodded soberly. "It's a good thing. It keeps us on our toes."
Megabyte chewed his lip thoughtfully. "Besides, you know the problem with perfection?"
Jade frowned. "What?" she asked.
He grinned. "It's boring."
but the future is out there...