Chronicles of the Wanderer
Sounds of Silence
by Michael Weyer


The X-Files, all rights and properies owned by Ten Thirteen Productions.
Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye, all rights and properties owned by the Pax Network.
Clint Barton created by Stan Lee and Don Heck, owned by Marvel Comics.
Hellboy created by Mike Mignolia, owned by Dark Horse Comics.


SPOILERS:

1. Mulder and Scully were killed in 1996 and became Immortal.
2. The two are now married.
3. Water Skinner is their Watcher.
4. Scully is an Amazon while Mulder has an equal empowerment from Robin Goodfellow.


A ditty that hit me quick and wanted to share.


In which a deaf person is queen in the valley of the hearing.



Washington D.C.
September 4th, 1999
0904 Hours EST

 

As much as they may try, there is simply no way a person with hearing can understand what it's like to live in the world of the deaf. Even the simplest of sounds that are taken for granted, such as the sound of one's breath or heartbeat or even air...none of them register. The world is just utter silence, an experience those with hearing cannot comprehend.  As a woman who had lived in this world all her life, Sue Thomas almost never gave it a thought. It was natural to her, as natural as the breaths she couldn't hear. She was an example of a woman who refused to let her disability hamper her and had more than succeeded despite it.  She appeared to be just another woman walking the halls of the FBI. Her blonde hair flowing forward to her shoulders with bangs over the forehead. She was rather attractive with an athletic build dressed in professional slacks and coat with a dark blue top. The only incongruity to her appearance was the leash attached to the Golden Retriever padding along beside her. Levi was
Sue's ears and seemed to be an extension of herself, the two having a bond that constantly surprised people. Sue let Levi take her in to the main office of her surveillance team unit.


"Hey, Sue!" Lucy Dotson said as she came up. The attractive black woman was dressed in one of her nice professional suits, smiling at her friend and roommate.
 

"Hey," Sue said, her voice sounding a bit halting despite years of learning how to speak.  People soon got used to the fact that when talking to Sue, she'd tend to glance at their lips instead of their eyes. She was an excellent lip-reader, which was what had brought her to the unit in the first place. "Sorry I'm late, traffic made it hard to grab a cab."
 

"You should do what I do," a slightly arrogant voice came in. "Make sure a ride is always available." Myles Leland III carried himself with an intelligenct air that unfortunately had the side effect of exuding arrogant superiority. Despite such flaws, he was a good agent when the time
came and his co-workers had learned to put up with his ego.
 

"And how might you do that?" Bobby Marshall asked, his accent showing his youth in Australia. He lounged at his desk chair, his jacket off, feet on his desk with arms behind his back.
 

"Well, being an FBI agent has its privileges," Myles stated. "If I need to be somewhere in a hurry, all I have to do is flash a badge at a passing driver and I have a free ride. It also works wonders at restaurants and the occasional hotel."
 

"You're going straight to hell, you know that?" Jack Hudson told him.
 

"At least I'll be well-rested and fed when I get there," Myles replied. 
 

Jack just shook his head. The black-haired and handsome agent gave Sue a smile. It was he who had realized that a woman with such drive and lip-reading skills was wasted in the fingerprint division and had brought her on. So far, the move had paid dividends.
 

Tara Williams appeared to be ignoring the entire conversation. The young agent was sitting at her computer, her light brown hair bobbed around her pretty face, wearing a light skirt and blouse. While appearing a bit absent-minded and offbeat, Tara was a brilliant computer expert and one of the better hackers of the agency.  Sue smiled as she took in the conversation. She was so used to reading the lips of the people around her that it almost seemed she could hear them. "Myles, I was under the impression that sort of thing is frowned on by the accounting division."
 

Myles shrugged as he removed his coat and hung it on a hook. "Believe me, Thomas, with the number of bizarre finances they get lately, I just sort of slip on in."
 

"All right, listen up." Everyone turned to see Dimitrius Gans stride into the main area. The tall and handsome black agent was the senior of the division and from the expression on his face, everyone could tell this was something important. "We've got another kidnaping."
 

"Same as the others?" Bobby asked.
 

Gans nodded. "Young woman in her twenties, taken off the street with no warning and one of those odd gold braids left behind."
 

"Damn, that makes, what, seven now?" Jack asked.
 

"Ten," Tara spoke up from her computer. "Two more cases were confirmed last night."
 

"Ten in three days," Myles remarked. "It can't be just one man. We could be looking at some sort of gang here."
 

"Well, this time we have a witness," Gans said. "And a video tape. Jack, Sue, Bobby, Myles, you all go and check it out. Tara, I'm having the tape transferred so you can get a look at it. We're getting some pressure on this one, people so let's get cracking!"

 

The office immediately became a bustle of activity, Sue pulling Levi along for the ride.

Patrick's Pub
0935 Hours EST

 

The quartet of FBI agents made their way past the police lines as they arrived at the scene of the latest abduction. It was an alleyway behind a local restaurant, one often frequented by young people who worked at the offices nearby. They could see some police talking to a young woman in a light suit and approached.

 

"FBI," Jack said, flashing his badge. "We'd like to talk to her."
 

The officer backed away allowing the woman, an attractive blonde, to face Jack. "Hi, I'm Agent Jack Hudson, I'm with the FBI."
 

"I'm Heather Miller," the blonde said. "My friend is Nancy Givens."
 

"She's the one who was abducted?"
 

The woman nodded. "Yeah, she was." She took a deep breath. "We'd been doing some shopping and we stopped off here for lunch. I went to the ladies' room and when I came out, she wasn't at our table. I asked a waiter and he said he saw her heading out the back with someone. So, I followed and I saw her getting into this car with this guy."
 

"Can you describe him?"
 

Heather furrowed her brow. "About average height, red hair, dark suit with long coat. He was...I don't know how to describe it but...it's one of those faces that is so average, it stands out, you know?"
 

Jack slowly nodded. "Well, maybe we can hook you up with a sketch artist. Was Nancy struggling?"
 

Heather shook her head. "No, she was getting in like it was normal but...I don't know, there was something about her that seemed off, like it wasn't fully her choice."
 

Nearby, Myles, Bobby and Sue were examining the piece of evidence left behind. It was an orange braid with an odd knot in it and what appeared to be a design resembling a dragon.

 

"This is weird," Bobby remarked as he held the braid. "It doesn't seem to have been cut. It's almost like it just...fell off somehow."
 

"This is the part that throws me," Myles admitted. "Why such a bizarre calling card?"
 

"Why a calling card at all?" Sue noted. "We wouldn't know it was the same person or persons if they didn't leave the clue behind."
 

"Well, that's what separates the disturbed from the rest of us," Myles said in his pompous tone.
 

"What they do makes sense to them and them alone."
 

"Sort of like how you pick out your ties," Bobby teased.
 

Myles glowered before something caught his eye. He turned to see two people entering the crime scene and groaned. "Oh, God, no."
 

Bobby rose to his feet and followed Myles' gaze, his face wincing. "For once, mate, I'm with you."
 

Frowning, Sue turned to see the two new arrivals. The man was tall and lanky with dark hair and an odd little smile on his handsome face. The woman was quite beautiful with red hair and a professional demeanor. Both wore suits and long coats. "What is it?"
 

"The President and First Lady of the Freak department," Myles sardonically said.
 

"The two people you never want to show up on your case," Bobby chimed in.
 

"Mulder and Scully?" Jack moaned as he joined them.
 

Sue frowned deeper. "I don't understand. Who are they?"
 

Before anyone could answer, the two agents came up, flashing their ID's. "Agents Mulder and Scully," the man intoned. "Who's in charge?"
 

"What are you doing here, Mulder?" Jack said. Even reading his lips, Sue knew he was saying it in a sardonic tone.
 

"Same as you, investigating the latest kidnaping," Mulder replied. He nodded at the braid. "Same as the others?"
 

"Yes," Bobby said, gripping it tighter. "And this is our case."
 

"Shouldn't finding these woman be more important than arguing jurisdiction?" Sue said. 

 

Scully glanced at her and blinked. "You're Sue Thomas, right? I read about you in the newspaper after that kidnapping case. I admire your work."
 

"Thank you," Sue said, somewhat surprised. Levi padded over to sniff at Scully, then at Mulder, then licked Scully's hand.
 

"Oh, great, the dog likes them," Myles muttered.
 

Mulder looked to Jack. "Agent Scully and I have been studying the history of the braids found at the scene. They suggest some sort of cult involvement."
 

"You think these women have been kidnaped by a cult?" Sue asked.
 

"It's a possibility worth looking into," Scully said. "We're still narrowing down leads but I think we can prove some assistance in this case."
 

"No offense," Jack said in a slightly offending tone of voice. "But I think we'd like to stick to more logical possibilities before we start looking at out there theories."
 

Scully peered at him. "Look...We all want these women found and quickly. Thomas is right, that should be our priority, not any problems you may have with us."
 

"Tell you what, Dana," Bobby piped up. "We come across any little green men behind this, we'll give you a call. Until then, let us do our job."
 

The redhead gave him a look that made Bobby more than a little nervous.

 

"It's Scully," she said in a clipped tone.
 

Mulder looked at Jack. "You sure you don't want us around?"
 

The look on the man's face was pretty much answer enough. Sighing, Mulder turned and started to walk away with Scully following. Sue turned to Jack, amazed at his reaction to the duo.
 

"Jack, shouldn't we have accepted whatever help they could give?"
 

Myles snorted. "Thomas, the only thing those two can help you with is a quick trip to the review board. I've lost count of how many times they've been called on the floor for some mess. How they're still on the job is beyond me."
 

Jack shook his head. "Listen, we should get back on this fast. Sue, help me out with some interviews and hopefully Tara will have found something interesting with the tape."
 

The group moved to go back to the job but Sue found herself looking at the two departing agents and getting the feeling they knew more about this case then they were saying.


FBI Headquarters
1127 Hours EST

 

The group was gathered around Tara's desk as the agent brought up the video feed.
 

"Okay, I've cleaned it up as much as I can. It's not much, I know, but here goes." She clicked her mouse to let the video roll.
 

The team watched as the black and white video rolled. They saw Nancy at the table alone, chewing at her meal. They then saw a man approach her. He appeared to be in his late thirties with dark red hair and a good build. His face was rather average, not handsome, not unattractive, not bland but also not exactly the type that would get one's attention.
 

"Nice suit," Bobby observed.
 

"That's gotta be three grand at least," Myles put in. "And I'll lay you odds you don't get those shoes at Foot Locker."
 

"Obviously someone wealthy," Jack concluded. "Narrows the range a bit."
 

They watched as the man stood by the table and appeared to speak. Nancy looked up at him with confusion. They saw her speaking as well, Sue narrowing her eyes to read the lips. "She's saying she doesn't know him. I guess she's trying to blow him off."
 

She saw the man speaking again and leaned in. "The angle isn't good enough, I can't get a clear view of his lips. I can't make out his exact words." She frowned as she saw Nancy rise up from the table and follow the man away.
 

Myles glanced at Tara. "Wait a minute, that's it?"
 

Tara nodded. "That's all they had."
 

Jack turned to Sue. "You sure you couldn't get a read on him?"
 

Sue shook her head. "Not really. With only part of the mouth, he could be saying most anything." She frowned. "There was something though....his throat..."
 

"What about it?" Bobby asked.
 

Sue turned to Tara. "Run back when he's talking and zoom in on his head." The agent complied and as the video ran, highlighted the man's head and allowed it to fill the screen. Sue watched it play and nodded. "That's...weird."
 

"What?" Jack asked.
 

Sue pointed at the screen. "His throat doesn't seem to be moving right." Seeing the confused looks on her co-workers, she elaborated. "A person's throat always constricts in certain ways when they speak, the Adam's apple bobbing and such. His isn't doing that. Or rather, it's doing it in a different way, like he's speaking louder or faster than normal."
 

"Witnesses didn't report anything like that," Bobby said.
 

"Ok, we at least have a face," Gans said as he straightened. "Tara, run through, see if anything comes up for it. Rest of you get cracking on the reports, see if anything jumps out."
 

The others walked around bustling but Sue remained staring at the computer, tapping her chin. Something about this was bugging her. Something unusual. "Tara? Where in this place would I go to dig up some information on weird subjects?"
 

Tara was momentarily surprised but then sighed. "Well...there's really only one place to go for that."

 

Sue hadn't heard too much about the X-Files before today but the fact that she had to go all the way into the basement to find the office wasn't a good sign. She exited the elevator with Levi trailing before her, briefly wondering if she was in the right place or if this was some sort of initiation prank for raw recruits. She finally found the door with the placard "Agents Mulder and Scully" on it and knocked upon it.
 

It was probably just as well that she couldn't hear the sudden crashing sound as if two people had fallen off something. She couldn't hear the sounds of rushing movement and hurried whispers. She knocked again, unaware of the sounds of zippers pulled up and clothes hurriedly thrown on. However, it was hard to miss the fact that when the door was opened, both Mulder and Scully had some rather disheveled clothing.
 

"Oh, Agent Thomas!" Scully said with surprise. "What are you doing here?"
 

"Ah, I wanted to talk to you two," Sue said. "About the kidnaping case."
 

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "I was under the impression your unit didn't want us on this case."
 

"They don't," Sue confirmed. "But I think that's a mistake. Maybe if we compared notes, we'd find something we've each missed separately."
 

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "A word of warning. You might find your reputation suffering if people find out you're hanging with us."
 

Sue smiled and nodded at her dog. "Well, Levi likes you, so you're okay in my book."

 

The dog barked an affirmative that caused both X-Files agents to smile.  A minute later, Sue was sitting in the cramped room, watching Mulder lay out some papers and an old book. Scully stood nearby as Mulder showed Sue what he had. "It took a little digging but we did find some history behind the symbol on the braid," Mulder began. "It belongs to an ancient sect, located in India, that was supposedly wiped out by the British in the early 1900's."
 

Sue frowned. "A cult?"
 

"For lack of a better term," Scully said. "This one was rather fond of human sacrifice in honor of a demon they called Jerotor."
 

Sue raised an eyebrow. "A demon?"
 

Mulder held up his hands. "Just telling you what they believed."
 

Sue paused to consider this. "So you think maybe this...cult could be behind these kidnaping?
 

Why?"
 

"We don't know yet," Mulder admitted. "But we are working on it. What have you found out?"
 

Sue told them about the tape and the odd reaction the kidnaped woman had. Mulder rubbed his chin in thought. "So she just went with him without any fight?"
 

Sue nodded. "I couldn't understand it. He just talked and she went right with him."
 

"Hmmm," Mulder muttered. He looked at his partner. "Could be another Modell."
 

Scully resisted a shudder. "Goddess, I hope not."
 

"Modell?" Sue asked.
 

Mulder looked at her. "A few years ago, Agent Scully and myself were involved in a case with a killer, Robert Modell. Due to some odd mutations in his brain, he was actually able to force his will onto others, make people do things or see things the way he wanted. Even going so far as to kill themselves or others on his word."
 

Sue was stunned. "And you think this could be like that?"
 

Scully sighed. "While the circumstances that allowed Modell to gain his abilities were extremely rare, it's not impossible that they could be duplicated."
 

Mulder rose up from his desk. "We're still missing a few pieces of this puzzle," he said as he pulled on his coat. "We need to check out the crime scene again."
 

Sue rose up as well, gripping Levi's leash. "I'll come with," she said. "Maybe if I'm around, you two won't get into trouble."
 

If Sue was more familiar with either Mulder or Scully, she might have known the utter futility of her words.

Patrick's Pub
1347 Hours EST

 

Mulder knelt on the ground as he examined the site where the braid had been found. "You sure the examination teams didn't find anything else?"
 

Sue shook her head. She and Scully were standing nearby, Levi calmly sitting on the ground.
 

"What is he trying to find?" Sue asked Scully.
 

The redhead shrugged. "Sometimes, you just have to let Mulder go and hope he finds whatever it is." She suddenly turned her head toward the entrance to the alley. Sue followed her gaze and was surprised to see both Tara and Lucy walking up, both wearing light coats over their suits. "What are you guys doing here?"
 

"Chief wanted us to check out the video equipment to make sure it was okay," Tara said. "Plus do a couple of follow-up interviews."
 

"Anything else turn up?" Sue asked.
 

"Not by us," Lucy answered. She looked at Mulder and Scully, then at Sue. "I don't think Jack would be too happy about who you brought in to help."
 

"Don't worry," Mulder said. "We haven't corrupted her yet."
 

"I haven't seen any little green men so far," Sue jovially told her friends. "I guess I'm still sane."
 

"Not being able to hear Mulder is a plus," Scully muttered from behind her.
 

Levi suddenly rose up, a low growl coming to his throat. Sue looked down and frowned.  "Levi, what is it?" The dog moved forward, straining on his leash as he looked down the alley. Everyone followed his vision as a figure silently strode in. He was tall with a dark complexion and a calm smile on his average-looking face. Sue, Tara and Lucy all tensed as they recognized the man from the video. Seeing their looks, Mulder and Scully were instantly on alert.
 

"Ladies," the man said in a deep voice. "And gentleman. A nice afternoon, isn't it?"
 

"FBI," Lucy said, holding up her badge. "We've actually been wanting to talk to you, Mister....?"
 

"You can call me Mujab," the man said as he stepped forward. "I take it is has to do with my presence here earlier?"
 

"It does," Scully said, her hand carefully going to her gun. "We want to know why you were here and what you did to Nancy Givens."
 

Mujab smiled. "I am here to show you actually. To tell you just what happened to her. Or, better yet...to show you." He took a step forward and found himself looking at the guns of Mulder and Scully, Lucy, Sue and Tara right behind them. Mujab smiled and spread his arms. "Now, now...there's no need for violence, is there?"
 

Scully blinked. Something about the man's voice...was so strange...and somehow familiar. Shaking her head, she aimed the gun. "Sir...put your hands on your head..."
 

"Lower the guns," the man said. His voice seemed deeper, as if echoing, not just in the ears and in the minds of the agents before him. "All of you, lower them."
 

Slowly, they complied. Mulder first, then Lucy, Tara, Scully and finally Sue. "Drop them,"
 

Mujab said and five revolvers clattered on the ground. Mujab backed away, beckoning to the group. "Come with me if you please," he said as he walked away. All five agents followed, Sue in the rear as Levi barked and tried to pull her away. All the agents had calm expressions, as if this
was perfectly natural but the dog could tell something was seriously wrong. He tried to follow as the humans were led by Mujab into a waiting van. The doors shut with an ominous click and the van peeled away, leaving a dejected Levi behind.

Underneath the Washington Mall
1422 Hours EST

 

Accessed by a seemingly non-descript office space was a tunnel that led a couple hundred feet below the landmarks of the city. The caverns were old, older than Washington itself, their origins lost to the original settlers. Torches lit the way through the maze as men in dark robes walked about...along with others who wore their own unique marking. Vincent Karisters smiled as he sipped his goblet of blood. The 393-year old vampire was of Italian descent, his black hair slicked back, wearing a nice suit, his tall body pacing carefully around the small room he had made his chambers. With its plush carpet, walls decorated with tapestries and elegant dining table, it stood out in the rocky surroundings. 
 

He looked up as Mujab strode into the chamber and smiled. "Ah, how goes it, my old friend?"
 

"It goes well, Vincent," the man replied. "Thanks to the unexpected additions, we have enough for the ceremony."
 

Vincent smiled. "Yes. Perhaps we should have let the authorities discover our activities earlier." He sipped at his blood. "Tonight, we will bring him back. Bring him to Earth."
 

"And our reign of blood shall begin," Mujab smiled back. The two looked to see a man enter the room. He was thin with a wiry build, dressed in an odd brown uniform, almost like a monk.His bald head gleamed in the torchlight as he bowed to the pair.

 

"Ah, Rastan," Vincent said.
 

"What is the word?"
 

"We have prepared the new arrivals," the man said in a tone that seemed to hiss.
 

"Excellent!" Vincent smiled. "With those ten, we are pure and complete."
 

"Ten?" Mujab looked at him, puzzled. "Don't you mean eleven?"
 

Rastan frowned. "No...the six Knights and the four you just brought in."
 

Mujab whirled on him, his eyes wide. "Four?"
 

Rastan nodded, not sure why the other man seemed upset. "Yes. The man and three women."
 

Mujab shook his head. "No..no, there should be four women. The black, the small one, the redhead and the blonde."
 

Now Rastan looked worried. "There was no blonde."
 

There was silence as Vincent took a long sip from his goblet and licked his lips. "Put out the alert and block up any exits," he ordered. "Find her quickly. But also prepare for the ritual."
 

He looked at Mujab. "Even if somehow this woman is free...there is little she can do to stop us."
 

Mujab nodded. "True." He smirked. "She is only one woman."

Sue Thomas leaned her back against the cavern wall, trying to keep her breath steady. Her palms were sweaty around the barrel of her gun and she could feel her heart beating furiously in her chest. She shut her mouth, afraid her breaths might carry too far and terrified of who that might bring. The moment she had seen the others lowering their guns, Sue realized something was wrong.  She also realized that making a stand then and there might be a bad move. She remembered what Mulder had been telling her about Modell and didn't want to chance having to fight the other four agents, two of whom were good friends. 

 

The ride to the building had been entirely in silence, Sue trying to secretly communicate to any of the others but they seemed oblivious to her. The van had pulled into the building where they were led out, marching behind Mujab in a straight line to enter the caverns. It had been as they rounded one corner that Sue managed to steal away. She had tried to backtrack through the caverns and quickly realized she was completely lost.  She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the wall. She tried to mull things over, tried to figure out the one thing that had been bothering her. Why her? Why was she not effected by whatever talent Mujab had? Why did she not follow Mujab's word...
 

*Word. Voice. His voice.*
 

Sue's eyes shot open, the answer so obvious, she couldn't believe she'd ignored it. Whatever it was about Mujab, it was in his voice. Meaning that Sue and Sue alone was immune due to her deafness.
 

The agent took a deep breath as she tried to think over her options. Even if she could escape somehow, she didn't know if calling for reinforcements was a good idea. For all she knew, Mujab could just ensnare them as well. Yet, going on a solo rescue was something she was not trained for and the entire situation was making her feel helpless. It was hardly helped when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She yelped as she spun around, her gun held up before her to face the tapper. He was a tall and handsome man with short blond hair and deep blue eyes. He was clad in a tight pair of leather pants and a dark top with a cross-like symbol on it, the outfit with an odd purple color to it. He wore purple gloves, one of them covering his forearm. Slung over his back was what looked like a quiver and in his hands was a large bow. His mouth was moving but Sue was too startled by his appearance to read his lips properly.
 

The man was staring at her quizzically. His mouth moved again and Sue could tell she was asking her name but remained silent, her gun held up. The man frowned, then brought up his hands and signed /It's okay. I'm a good guy./
 

Sue blinked and lowered the gun. "You are?" she asked.
 

The man smiled and nodded. "Yep. Name's Clint. Was starting to think I was on my own here."
 

"Where----where did you come from?" Sue asked, looking at his odd dress.
 

Clint sighed. "Well, my team and me were sent in to try and rescue some of these kidnaped girls. Unfortunately, we didn't know about Mujab's little whammy voice." He raised an eyebrow.  "Happen to you too?"
 

Sue nodded. "Yes. Only I couldn't hear his voice." She looked at him with suspicion. "How come..."
 

The man tapped his ear. "Busted up my hearing in a battle a few years back. I've had to wear hearing aids in both ears ever since. Guess that protected me."
 

Sue relaxed. "Oh. So...now what?"
 

Clint sighed. "Well...looks like it's up to us to pull off a rescue."
 

Sue stared at him. "Us? Two people against I don't know how many cultists?"
 

"And vampires."
 

Sue's stare continued. "Vampires."
 

Clint nodded. "Yep. Looks like them and the cultists are working together. Usual end of the world type things."
 

Any hope Sue had was fading as she began to doubt this man's sanity. She saw him suddenly look over her shoulder and turned around. A group of men had moved into the hall, five in all. Three were dressed in robes, the other two in grungy street clothes. As they moved closer, Sue started at the way the two men's faces were disfigured, looking more like animals than people.  She held up her gun. "FBI! Hold it right there!"
 

Behind her, Clint simply sighed and rolled his eyes. Then he moved.
 

Sue felt a whistle of air by her ear practically at the same time she saw an arrow embed itself into the heart of one of the disfigured men. Her jaw dropped as the man suddenly went gray and then dizzolved into a pile of dust. Before she could react, Clint brushed past her and dropped to one knee. His bow was held before him, an arrow nocked and sent flying forward. The tip seemed to pop open, strands of rope suddenly emerging and growing. It struck the other demon-faced man and pinned him to the wall, caught in a net. He growled, fighting against the strands but they remained tight.
 

One of the robed man had been holding a spear and lunged forward. Clint dodged it and placed his feet on the cavern wall. He made a few steps before flipping backward. In mid-air, his hand went to his quiver, yanking out an arrow and firing it. He flipped over as he drew and fired another arrow. One streaked toward the cultist with the spear, the tip seeming to glow. With good reflexes, the man managed to block it with the spear handle. However, the instant the arrowhead touched it, a shock of electricity went out. The cultist went rock-straight, his body quivering, then collapsed. The second arrow had a blunt end to it, which smashed into the nose of another robed man, sending him down with a bloodied face.  Even as he landed, the blonde man was firing off another arrow. This one had an odd design to the top as it streaked toward the final robed man. The man ducked and the arrow flew over his head. He smiled as he advanced, pulling out a dagger. Clint simply rose to his feet and smiled. The robed man frowned just before the arrow suddenly spun around and nailed him in the back of the head.
 

"Boomerang arrow. Gets 'em ever time," the archer murmured. He turned to Sue, who was staring open-mouthed, unable to comprehend all she'd seen. "You ok?"
 

Sue stammered, trying to will herself to blink. "How...how did you...how...?"
 

Clint shrugged. "Ah, something I picked up in my youth at a circus. It's helped me since I hooked up with the Grail." He looked over to the vamp who was netted up and walked over, Sue following. "Okay, pal," he said. "How many we facing here and what's the skinny?"
 

The vampire snarled and spit out at him. "I'm not telling you anything. It won't matter! Once Mujab finishes the ceremony, we'll have the power to reign supreme!"
 

Clint sighed as he looked at Sue. "It's always gotta be the hard way..." He reached to his quiver, his fingers trailing along the special coding in the nock. Finding the right one, he pulled it out and held it up. "Flare arrow," he told the vampire. "Now...you answer questions or I stick this in a very uncomfortable place..lit."
 

The vampire tensed before speaking. "We've got more than the two of you can handle. And that includes a few Grappler demons."
 

"Demons?" Sue whispered.
 

"Doesn't matter what you do to me." The vampire smirked. "Those buddies of yours are dead and you're going to be right after them."
 

Clint calmly nodded, then hefted the arrow and planted it into the vampire's chest. The creature let out a shriek before turning to dust, the net closing on empty air.
 

Sue stared in utter disbelief. "That...that was...real, wasn't it?" she whispered.
 

Clint looked at her and nodded. "Fraid so, honey. And we may be up against even more by the time this is done." He paused and looked her in the eye. "By the way, never got your name."
 

"Sue," she automatically answered. "Sue Thomas, FBI."
 

"Clint Barton." The archer grinned. "But my friends call me Hawkeye."

Clint led the way through the maze of tunnels, his bow out with an arrow nocked. Sue followed him, her gun out as well, trying to calm her nerves.

 

"How close are we?" she asked.
 

Clint turned his head slightly to her. "Not too sure. I wasn't exactly handling a map when I was making my way around here. My best guess is we keep going down and we'll find something."
 

Sue stared at him. "You were never a Boy Scout, were you?"
 

Barton winked at her. "Nah. Could never get good enough for them." He looked back as he made his way into a side hall. He stopped and backed up, holding Sue back. They watched as a group of robed figures marched only feet away, a few vampires following them. Clint waited a
few moments before stepping out in the dim hallway, Sue next to him. The archer sighed. "Odd's are getting worse by the minute. We could really use some reinforcements."
 

"Fraid there's nobody left for the side of the angels. How about someone from the other side?" Hawkeye spun around, his bow up and ready. Sue, surprised by his reaction, turned to see just what had gotten his attention. She swore her heart stopped as she took in the figure who was calmly striding toward them.
 

He stood nearly seven feet tall with leathery skin that was a deep crimson. He wore a dark pair of pants with large boots and a long overcoat. His left arm was well-muscled while his right ended in a massive fist that seemed to be made of red metal. His face was marked with a large flat brow, his large chin holding a soul patch scruff of black hair. His head was mostly bald with black hair slicked on the back and sides. On the front of the brow were two large nubs, as if two horns had been filed off. Behind him, a long tail flicked on the ground. The regular-sized hand was enclosed on what looked like a mini-cannon slung over one shoulder. "Hey, Barton," he said in a gruff voice. "Been a while."
 

Hawkeye sighed as he lowered the bow. "What the hell are you doing here?"
 

"Same as you," the large figure replied. He looked over to Sue, who simply stood with a blank look on her face. "Oh, yeah, this is Sue Thomas," Clint said. "Sue, this is Hellboy."
 

The demon nodded and held out his oversized right hand. Sue simply stood frozen before her eyes rolled up and she keeled over backward in a dead faint.
 

Clint shot Hellboy a nasty look. "Nice going, pal."
 

"Ah, women fall over me, it's my curse," Hellboy said with a shrug.
 

Hawkeye crossed his arms. "So...what brings the bright boy of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense to D.C.?"
 

"Trying to stop these nuts from calling up Jerotor," Hellboy answered. "Trust me, you don't want that guy coming to Earth."
 

"Old friend of yours?" Clint asked, only half-teasingly.
 

Hellboy glared at him. "Okay, I'm not the only one with a sordid past here."
 

"So how long have you been down here?"
 

"Not too long. Managed to infiltrate a few hours ago."
 

How a seven-foot tall red-skinned demon was able to infiltrate anywhere was something worth exploring but it was at that moment that Sue groaned as she woke up. She raised her head up and yelped as she took in Hellboy. She scampered to her feet and moved back. "What...what is that?"
she gasped.
 

"It's okay," Clint told her. "Really. He may be a demon but he's on our side."
 

"A...demon?" Sue whispered.
 

Hellboy shrugged. "Yeah, some Nazis decided calling up a demon would help them out. I didn't go along with that plan."
 

"Demons and Nazis," Hawkeye remarked. "Makes sense."
 

"Hey, don't sell the human race short, Barton. You came up with that bastard Hitler on your own." Hellboy focused back on Sue. "So, nowadays, I'm working to fight evil."
 

"He's a demonic demon hunter," Barton said.
 

"I prefer the term paranormal investigator," Hellboy informed him.
 

"Are...are you here alone?" Sue asked.
 

Hellboy nodded. "Yeah, unlike you two, my organization actually does their homework. They knew about Mujab's little talent, which only works on humans. So, I was the logical choice to send in." He hefted his gun a bit. "Course, there's also the fact the guy's got a little insurance on himself."
 

"What kind of insurance?" Barton asked.
 

"Little protective spell," the demon answered. "Basically, no man born, now or ever, can do him harm." He smirked. "Luckily, I'm not a man."
 

Sue was having a hard time following this. It wasn't just the fact that she was standing here talking to a demon. It was also that the being's lips were more difficult to read than a human's.
 

She finally spoke up. "So...what now?"
 

Hellboy nodded toward a side tunnel. "From what I got eavesdropping, the main happenings are down here. We check it out, we can get a read on the situation and figure out our next move."
 

"Lead the way," Barton said, motioning to him.
 

Hellboy glanced at him. "Figure it's better I take any shots that come our way?"
 

Hawkeye smirked. "What do you think?"
 

The demon snorted before walking away, the blonde man behind him. Sue just stared at them, not believing any of this, before following them both. 
It was, by Susan's reckoning, about twenty minutes later that the trio found themselves coming to a cul-de-sac that ended with a rock outcropping overlooking a large chamber. They all went to their knees, crawling over so they could look at the scene before them. The chamber was large and circular, a massive round platform in the middle. At the center was a pit with smoke billowing from it. Nearby, Rastan stood, holding a large dagger, it's point glinting in the light. Robed and hooded figure surrounded the edges of the circle along with several vampires. There were also a dozen hulking, oversized gray-skinned creatures spread about the chamber.

 

"I make about thirty," Clint whispered, signing for Sue in case she couldn't make out his lips. "Plus a dozen Grapplers."
 

Hellboy seemed surprised. "You see all that?"
 

A smirk came to the archer's lips. "They don't call me Hawkeye for nothing."
 

"Yeah, usually you have to pay 'em," the demon quipped.
 

As they watched, Karisters strode forward onto the dias and turned to face the others, his arms spread. "My brothers!" he called out. "What we have worked toward for so long is at long last here! Within the hour, Jerotor shall once more walk the Earth. And with his power at our side, we shall have humanity in our grasp! You monks shall have the apocalypse you've wanted.  And we'll have the chance to turn humanity into our private buffet!"
 

Barton rolled his eyes. "Destroy the world, get humans to feed on, honestly, can't these guys do anything more original?"
 

"Old habits die hard," Hellboy said.
 

Karisters turned and called out. "Mujab! Bring them in!"
 

There was silence for a moment, then movement filled the far side of the chamber. Everyone watched as Mujab strode in, leading a procession of naked forms. Sue felt her heart drop as she saw Tara and Lucy, both nude and blank-faced, walking in. Mulder and Scully were behind him.  She felt Hawkeye tense and knew the other men in the group, and possibly a couple of women, were his fellow Knights. The others were the ten missing women. Taking in the sight of the entranced captives, Sue shivered and for the first time in her life gave thanks for not being born with hearing.
 

"Damn," Hellboy muttered from behind Sue as he looked at the women. "Say what else you will, Mujab's got good taste!"
 

Barton nodded. "Yeah, that redhead is pretty hot. Reminds me of my last date."
 

The demon scoffed. "Yeah and what year was that?"
 

"Hey, women can't keep their hands off me, Big Red. Which is more than I can say for you."
 

"I get plenty of tail."
 

"In your case, literally." Clint looked Scully over again. "Man...that's some six pack abs for a woman that size."
 

"Must have gotten lipo with the boob job," Hellboy growled.
 

"No, no surgery. And she's a natural redhead too."
 

"How can you be------"
 

"Red, trust me...I know best how to size a woman up. Makes it easier to score with them."
 

"You talking in a fight or in the sack?"
 

"Both."
 

It was probably best Sue didn't hear a word of this sexist discussion. Her eyes swept over the chamber, trailing along the mesmerized captives. Despite the situation, she couldn't help checking out the naked men, her eyes lingering a bit on Mulder. *Damn, his name suits him.*  Shaking her head she turned back to the man and the demon, who were still talking. "Okay," she spoke up.
 

"Do we have a plan?"
 

"Yep," Hawkeye informed her. "Step one, we disrupt the ceremony. Step two, we take out the guards. Step three, we free the hostages. Step four, we take out the guys in charge and step five, we all get the hell out of here."
 

"That sounds dangerous," Sue remarked.
 

"It is," Hawkeye agreed. "Especially considering I have no idea how we're going to do any of it."
 

Hellboy rolled his yellow eyes. "And they wonder why I prefer to work solo."
 

Sue watched as Rastan paced before the silent captives, a sick smirk on his face. She watched him fondle Scully, then Lucy, his hands rubbing her friend's naked bosom. Sue felt a rare case of anger rip through her as she hissed. "We have to do something now."
 

"Right." Clint hefted his bow. "Okay, me and Sue will try to get over to the other side unnoticed. Hellboy, when we're in position, we'll try to get at vamp-boy and the head monk. You keep the rest of them entertained."
 

"Darn, I left my harpsichord at home," Hellboy said, snapping his fingers.
 

Clint chuckled. "Just do your 'Evil Dead' impression. That always slays 'em." He hefted his bow and pulled out an arrow with a cable coming out of its end that he attached to the bow. He paused before turning to Sue. "How much do you weigh?"
 

Sue blinked, positive she hadn't read his lips right. "Excuse me?"
 

"How much?" He held up the arrow. "And be honest, this is very important."
 

Sue sighed deeply, closing her eyes. "112."
 

Hawkeye nodded as he adjusted the shaft of the arrow and nocked it. Aiming the bow across the chamber, he let the arrow fly. It shot outward, the cable flowing behind it. The tip buried itself into the wall and the cable straightened out. Hawkeye unhooked the end of the cable from his bow and planted it into the ground. Turning to Sue, Clint spoke. "Okay, grab onto my neck, hold on tight and try not to make a sound."
 

Sue swallowed before doing so, clasping her hands around the man's neck. Taking a deep breath, Clint jumped off the small ledge and hooked his bow onto the cable. He and Sue swung downward slightly, the blonde biting her lip to hold back a scream. Hellboy watched with bemusement at the fact that not one person down below so much as glanced up at the duo overhead. He crouched at the edge, hefting his gun. Below, all eyes were on Rastan as he maneuvered Lucy toward the edge of the pit. He held up his dagger as he got ready to make the sacrifice. His voice made a dark chanting with words of an ancient language flowing from his mouth. The other hooded figures bowed deeply, joining the chant as Rastan raised the knife before Lucy's throat and prepared to cut in. There was a blur of red and a loud crashing sound filled the chamber. Everyone spun around to see Hellboy rising up as he brushed at his coat.

 

"Sorry to interrupt," he announced. "I'm from the zoning commission and I'm afraid we never got the permit for human sacrifices here."
 

"Kill him!" Karisters ordered, motioning to the Grapplers.
 

"And people complain about my dialogue," the demon muttered as he swung out his famous
 

"Red Right Hand of Doom." The metallic fist smashed into one Grappler, sending him flying backward and into a group of others. Hellboy spun around and swung his fist back, nailing one vampire with such force, its head was ripped from its shoulders. The demon pulled out his gun, aiming and letting a blast of ammo rip outward. It cut down two Grapplers and one of the robed men as the others scattered.  Seeing the chaos as his chance, Hawkeye snapped off the arrow from the wall and send it sailing to the ground. He swung down, Sue still holding on, struck by how well-built the man was. As he lowered himself, Hawkeye nocked an arrow and fired it off. It struck the far side of the cavern and ignited an explosion that sent several fighters flying about.

 

Sue had pulled out her service revolver snap-aiming it and firing it into one cultist. The man yelped as he fell back on the ground, Sue already moving to another target. It was amazing just how much of her combat training was coming back to her as she kicked one vampire in the gut and smashed her gun into his face. Behind her, Clint was firing two arrows at once, both dusting a pair of vamps. He smacked the bow into the face of a charging robed cultist and punched another down. He whirled around to fire another net arrow, which wrapped a robed man up. He had a wild smile on his face as he moved. Despite the danger and the seriousness of the situation, despite the fact he was outnumbered and outgunned, it was at these times that Clint Barton felt the most alive. 


Hellboy made his way through the crowd of demons and vampires, firing off shots of his gun in between savage punches. Any Grappler, vampire or cultist who got near him soon paid the price. One got in close to stab him, only to have its head knocked off his shoulders. Hellboy grunted as he pulled out the dagger and stabbed another cultist with it. He glanced over to see Hawkeye firing off an arrow that ignited one vampire and shook his head. "Guy read way too many Green Arrow comics as a kid," he muttered under his breath.
 

He finally made his way to the platform as Mujab moved toward him. The man seemed to have no fear of the creature closing in on him, his arms crossed before him.

 

"Okay, pal," Hellboy announced. "I'm feeling kind-hearted today, so I'll give you a choice. Burial or cremation?"
 

Mujab laughed. "Take your best shot, creature. It will do no good."
 

With a shrug, Hellboy reared his massive fist back and then threw it forward. It smashed into Mujab's face with enough force to put a hole in a tank. There was a flash as the fist seemed to hit some sort of field. Hellboy stared, for once struck dumb as Mujab's smile grew. The man pulled his leg back and then lashed out with a kick, planting his foot into Hellboy's sternum. The demon yelped as he was sent flying back toward where Clint and Sue were standing. The two barely managed to duck as the red body flew above and smacked onto the ground. Hellboy moaned as he rolled over to look at the duo. "Okay...looks like when the spell says 'no man can hurt him,' it actually means 'male.'"
 

Clint took a deep breath before reaching to his belt. He fumbled before pulling out a small crossbow, unfolding it to its full length. "Sue," he said. "It's up to you."
 

Sue stared at him. "What?"
 

Clint shook his head. "Nine times out of ten, a spell like this has a loophole: A woman can hurt him. Actually, kill him is what we're going for."
 

"But...how do I...?" 
 

"Here." He handed her the crossbow with an arrow already set in it.
 

Sue looked at it before glancing back at him. "Okay, what is this? Net arrow, explosive arrow, flare arrow, boxing glove arrow?"
 

Hawkeye shook his head. "Nope. This is my good old fashioned 'very sharp, if it hits you, it'll make a really big hole in you' arrow." He took her hand and leaned in, looking in her eyes. "Keep calm. Aim. Breathe. You'll know when it's right." He gave her a smack on the arm to indicate she should go. He then pulled up his own bow and fired off a pair of arrows for cover. Hellboy managed to rise up, pulling his gun back up and went back on the attack.
 

Karisters snarled as he turned to Rastan. "Don't just stand there! Finish it!"
 

The dark monk swallowed and tried to ignore the chaos as he once more took up the chant.  He moved back to Lucy, the dagger held up and ready to go. Mujab watched him, a sick smile on his face as he prepared to see the entranced agent with her throat slit. He heard a sound behind him and turned to see Sue standing there, holding up the crossbow.  Sue realized too late that Mujab was far faster than he might have looked. Before she could properly aim, he had reached her, smacking the crossbow away and punching Sue down. She gasped as she fell, rubbing at her chin and trying to clear her head. The crossbow fell to the ground and broke apart, the arrow coming loose and rolling on the stone surface.  Mujab shook his head as he lashed a kick into Sue's ribs. She gasped as she rolled around, biting back a cry of pain. "So sad," the man said in a quiet voice. "You could have been part of the coming age. Instead, you have to die with the rest of the chattel." He watched Sue crawling over, her hands moving about and threw his head back. "Please. If you're going to crawl, it could at least be to me."
 

He walked forward and bent over, his hand grabbing hold of Sue's hair. He pulled back on it and was rewarded with a scream as he turned Sue around. "I'll make it much quicker than you deserve," he said as he pulled her forward. He was so intent on her that he failed to notice how
Sue's hand was enclosed around an object. With a loud yell, Sue threw her hand outward in a wide curve, the arrow-head slicing through
the air toward Mujab. He pulled back instinctively so the edge didn't cut right into his neck. Instead, it cut through the front of his throat, slicing his skin, muscles.... And vocal cords.  Mujab dropped Sue, his hands grasping at his bleeding throat. Nearby, Rastan was about to make the first cut when suddenly, Lucy moaned and dropped to the ground like a broken doll.  Behind her, the row of mesmerized captives followed suit as Mujab's control over them broke.
 

The man staggered about, choking on his own blood and trying to hold himself upright.  Karisters hissed as he made his way toward Sue, ready to break her neck in half. A whistle caught his attention and he turned to see Hawkeye aiming an arrow at him, a sly smirk on his face.
 

"Nothing personal, pal. But one more vamp lord this month and I get a DVD player." He let the arrow fly, the shaft streaking forward and embedding itself right into Karrister's heart.

 

The vampire looked at it and then up at him, a look of utter bewilderment on his face. "Not fair...." he got out before dizzolving into dust.
 

Mujab was still choking, trying to hold back the blood when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned and stared in shock at Dana Scully. The agent stood before him, a look of utter hatred on her face and a sword in her hands, every muscle of her nude body tense.

 

"Sorry, Pavarotti," she hissed, hefting up her blade. "But the fat lady's on."
 

She swung out, the blade slicing through Mujab's neck and neatly decapitating him. His head collapsed to the ground, his body slowly following. Rastan could see the moment he had planned so long for falling apart and rage covered him. He held up his dagger and lunged toward Scully. He had only got a few steps before he felt a sharp pain in his back. He froze in place and looked down as he saw the point of a sword rip through his chest. He began to choke on his own blood as Mulder leaned in and hissed in his ear.
 

"This...is for feeling up my wife." The agent gave the sword a savage twist and Rastan collapsed to the ground. Mulder pulled his sword out and wiped it on the man's robe as he looked to his wife. He couldn't resist a thrill at the sight of her, stark naked, sword raised and a look of
satisfaction on her face. "Dana? You ok?"
 

Scully sighed as she lowered her blade, trying to collect herself. "Mulder...I really, really, *really* HATE being mind-controlled."
 

"Me too, hon," Mulder sighed as he came over and drew her into a hug.
 

Sue was watching the entire exchange and glanced over to see Clint next to her. "Turn around, mister," she ordered.
 

"Oh, come on," Clint whined. "I've seen enough already..."
 

"Now." Sue replied in a strong voice and with an overeggerated sigh, Clint turned around.
 

Sue smiled at the two. "Hey," she said.
 

The two agents stared at her in surprise. "Thomas?" Mulder asked. "You did this?"
 

"I had help," Sue said, motioning to Hawkeye.
 

"You two alone?" Scully asked.
 

"Hey, no need to sell me short," Hellboy said as he came up. Mulder and Scully both hefted their swords up as he approached. His coat was torn in a few places and bits of blood and dust were scattered over his chest and face. "Well, the clean-up's taken care of," he announced as he brushed at his coat. "A couple of stragglers managed to escape but I doubt they'll be much problem without the sacrifice to pull off."
 

"Who the hell----" Mulder started.
 

"You're half-right," the demon said. He looked over toward Clint. "Well, looks like my job's done. See you around, Barton."
 

"You're leaving?" the archer asked in surprise.
 

Hellboy nodded. "I'm not much for the limelight, you know that. You, on the other hand, like it there."
 

"Well, that's true," Hawkeye admitted with a smile. "Have a blast, Big Red."
 

The demon nodded, gave a goodbye wave to Sue, then turned and walked out. He paused and turned around to let his eyes rake over Scully.

 

"Damn," he muttered. "Sometimes, I do wish I was human..." Shaking his head, he walked off into the darkness.
 

Mulder and Scully both turned to look at Sue. "This is going to be an interesting report, I can tell," Mulder quietly remarked.


FBI Headquarters
September 6th, 1999
1032 Hours EST

 

Sue knocked on the door of the X-Files and was surprised at how quickly it was answered.  She entered, with Levi trailing along.

 

"Agent Thomas," Mulder said as he moved back to the desk. "What brings you back?"
 

"Just a couple of loose ends," Sue stated. She reached down to scratch Levi's head. She was grateful the dog hadn't gotten lost when the group had been kidnaped. As it happened, a police officer heard his barks and found him sitting among some FBI-issued handguns. It had brought Sue's team in and Jack had cared for Levi before Sue had managed to call him.
 

"Such as?" Scully asked as she crossed her arms, her professional brown suit far more presentable than the last time Sue had seen her.
 

"Well, something has been bothering me," Sue said as she frowned. "Tara and Lucy don't remember anything that happened since the alleyway. Neither do any of the other women. I'm trying to understand how you two not only remember but also recovered a lot faster than anyone
else."
 

Sue watched the two agents look at each other and was struck by how it seemed like they were talking without words.

 

"Just chalk it up to good metabolism," Mulder lightly answered. 

 

"And in Mulder's case, a somewhat abnormal mind," Scully dryly added.
 

Sue looked at them both carefully. "Right. Well...I guess I'd better get back to work." She paused before speaking again. "By the way. What was with the swords? How did you get them and why would you-----"
 

"Agent Thomas," Mulder broke in. "I think this case has more than enough secrets for all of us, don't you?"
 

Sue blushed a bit before nodding. "I guess. Well, it was good to meet the both of you. I hope we can work together again sometime." She walked away, pulling Levi along, exiting the room. She stopped by the elevator to look at her dog. "You know, I'm jealous of her," she said.
 

Levi made a quizzical growl.
 

Sue laughed. "Not her looks, really." She smirked as she scratched Levi's brow. "I'm jealous she gets that man's package all to herself." She sighed lightly as she entered the elevator.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other. /Think she knows?/ Scully asked.
 

/She knows something's up/ Mulder answered over their mental connection. /But I think she also knows when it's best to back away./
 

Scully nodded as she walked forward and placed her arms around Mulder's neck. /So, Mulder...care to pick up where we were interrupted the other day?/
 

Mulder smiled and pulled her in for a long kiss as they lay back on the desk.

"Welcome back!" Jack said as Sue entered the room. "And congratulations!"
 

Sue blushed as the others applauded. "It wasn't that big a deal."
 

"I'd disagree," Lucy told her. "Well, I would if I could remember any of it."
 

Sue hated to have to lie to her friend but knew there was no way she could report all she had seen. Instead, she, Mulder and Scully had concocted a cover story: That Mujab had drugged them and kidnaped them; that Sue had managed to recover quickly and played possum until they got to Mujab's lair; and that she, Mulder and Scully had managed to turn the tables on Mujab and his accomplices. Unfortunately, in the battle, Mujab was beheaded in a freak accident with a plate of glass and his fellow kidnappers were killed. But they had managed to rescue all the missing women.
 

Sue could still remember Clint and his group making sure the tunnels and caverns were sealed so that no one who happened upon the office building would find them. The cultists whose wounds matched their story had been dropped around the building, in normal clothing while the rest had been taken care of.
 

"All the women have been in good health and with no lasting effects," Jack told Sue. "Luckily we stopped them before this guy could sell them overseas."
 

"Director seemed pleased to hear this one go so well," Bobby said. "Maybe a commendation is in your future."
 

"It was good work, Thomas," Myles said. For him, that was massive praise. 
 

Sue smiled and nodded as she came to her desk. She paused at the large package sitting on it. 
 

"What's this?"
 

"It came a few minutes ago," Tara explained. "No return label but it checked out okay."
 

"Looks like you've got an admirer," Bobby remarked as he sat in his chair.
 

Sue frowned as she undid the top of the package, removing the tape and wrapping and opening the lid. She brushed aside some paper to show off what looked like an arrow pointing straight up in the middle of an odd apparatus. "What in the world..."
 

There was a clicking sound and Sue instinctively pulled back. Suddenly, the arrow shot up, arching toward the ceiling. There was a flash and the tip seemed to burst open to reveal a bouquet of flowers that floated down into Sue's hands.
 

"Wow!" Lucy exclaimed. "Eat your heart out, FTD!"
 

"Who sent those?" Tara asked, amazed at the unique display.
 

Sue paused to read the card inside the bouquet. There was a phone number and then some writing. *Just in case you ever want to get into archery. I'm always available. Hawkeye.*
 

"Oh...just someone who might be worth taking a shot on," she answered with a smile as she sat at her desk and prepared for another day in the world. A world that had gotten a bit noisier for her.

 

The End

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