Evita swiveled around when she heard the door open. She got up and bowed to the approaching fur "Hello Doctor. Did you sleep well?"
"Hello. No, I didn't. I know I'll regret this in a few days, but I can't afford to spend my time in bed right now. Not now, not with all that is happening around us." They both sat down "Do you have any news?"
"Yes." Evita asked nervously "Ummm... would you like some coffee?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Ok." Evita signaled one of the lower ranking furs. When she had given him their orders, she went on "They have traced us to the New Brunswick outpost, but they have not located it yet. But it's only a matter of hours, I have found some indications that the USAF has sent at least one spy plane into that region. Several warships may be headed there as well, but I don't know for sure. The army cut off our access to several of their systems a few hours ago."
"Ok. Have you informed our people there?"
"Of course. They are ready; they have destroyed all documents and all the computers that we won't need any more. The defense system is online and the self-destruct system is ready. Most of them have already left the base; the last furs should move to the first fall-back position any time now."
"Ok. Were there any problems?"
"No, Sir. Everything is moving according to the plan."
"Good." They were silent for a moment "Any other news."
"Yes. Manuel hacked into the hospital records. Our guest's girlfriend was there to look for him. She had a few problems and they ran some tests on her."
"Ok. I assume they found something interesting?"
"Yes. Do you want the highlights?"
"She fainted when she realized that we had her friend and that he had not been taken to the hospital. They found no problems with her health. But..."
"It seems that she is pregnant."
"Ok." Suddenly the hooded head snapped up "You mean..."
"Yes. Our guest is the most likely the father."
"But... But that's impossible..."
"So I would have thought. But that is what the hospital report says. It is not certain, however."
"Ok. I want a full dossier on her and keep a watch on her. This is an interesting development."
"What is the status of our computer access?"
"They have found and closed off most of our sources. I managed to put in several new back doors, but we won't know about them until I try to access them. Which I don't want to do until things cool down a little. We have several sleepers that I think weren't compromised. They have not done anything about the other governmental systems yet, we are still getting a lot of information from there. It'll take a while to patch things together once they take out the New Brunswick base, but we won't be completely blind."
"Ok. Try to keep us connected as much as possible, but don't take any risks."
The hooded fur got up and moved to his private desk. He powered up his computer and called up the file Manuel had put together on Sarah. There was not a whole lot of information. She looked like an average female squirrel of 28. The physical the hospital had given her had not shown anything out of the ordinary. Only that she was pregnant. He ran a few calculations and decided that she was indeed pregnant. He didn't have enough information to know if the alien was the father and he wondered if it would be good news if he was.
He pondered the problem for a while, and then he wrote a note to Dr. Gonzales to do a full DNA analysis of their guest. And to test specifically if he was genetically compatible with the furs of this world.
# # # # #
The phone rang. Sarah's mother went to pick it up. She listened for a moment and called her daughter "Sarah!"
"Ok." Sarah got up and grabbed the phone from her mother's paw. "Hello?"
"Hello Sarah! Are you still on?"
"Ummm..." Sarah stared at the wall, her brain refused to supply her with the missing information.
"We're supposed to meet our lawyer in an hour. To talk about what to do with your friend."
"Yeah..." The memories hit Sarah and she began to cry.
"Sarah?" Betty waited a moment, when there was no answer except for more heart wrenching sobbing, she tried again "Sarah? Are you all right?"
*Sob* "No..." *Sob.* Sarah swallowed hard and wiped her eyes with her arm. After a minute she could speak again "Chris was abducted yesterday."
"Oh." Betty was silent for a long moment "I don't know what to say... This is terrible."
"Is there anything I can do? My parents have a few connections to the police..."
"Thank you, but I don't think so. The FBI is already looking for him."
"That's good to hear. But maybe we can give them a bit more incentive to look hard. All too often they just file those cases away without really doing much of anything..."
"No, I don't think that's necessary. I... I don't know the details, but the FBI thinks that he was abducted by a dangerous terrorist... or a mob boss or someone like that... anyway, they are looking really hard for them."
"I see... I... This is bad, isn't it? I mean whoever took him didn't do it just for the ransom?"
"I... I'll pray for your friend... pray that he will return safely. If there is anything else we can do..."
They were silent for a long moment "Would... would you like to come over? To relax or something?"
"I..." Sarah began to cry once more.
"I'm sorry. Did I say something wrong?"
This time Sarah got herself under control relatively quickly. "No. I... I just remembered that we visited you less than 24 hours ago. It feels as if it was years ago. Chris was abducted when we came home."
"Oh. I'm sorry. I can understand..."
"It's ok. I don't know... I'll think about it."
# # # # #
"Flora!" Flora grumbled but refused to react. "Wake up!"
The paw shook her again and again. Finally she opened her eyes and looked up at the intruder "What..."
"Are you all right?"
"Ummm..." Flora still had trouble making out what was going on; she was still groggy and not fully awake yet. It took her a few moments to make sense of her surroundings. She was sitting in a chair in one of the hospital rooms. She turned to look at the bed next to her. She hissed in pain; her neck muscles were stiff and protested against every movement. She yipped in surprise when she saw the bed's occupant. Finally her brain got into gear and things made sense again. "I'm ok."
The standing female wolf asked dubiously "Really?"
"Yeah!" Flora stood up and stretched. All her muscles protested. "I wanted to make sure he was all right. I must have fallen asleep. I had a really long day yesterday..."
"Maria, is he alright?"
"I think so. I came to check on him, actually."
"Ok." Maria examined the unconscious while Flora watched. "Shouldn't he wake up?"
"Not yet. Dr. Gonzales decided that we should keep him sedated for a day or two. He looks fine to me. Well, as fine as anybody who very nearly died a few hours earlier can."
"Will he recover?"
"Dr. Gonzales thinks so. He'll run more tests on him later today." Maria checked off her visit on the care sheet and turned to the other female. "Get something to eat. You look as if you could use a gallon of coffee."
"Yeah." Flora reached for the alien's almost hairless hand and squeezed it gently. "God, please keep him safe!" A single tear ran down her cheek. She knew she would do whatever was in her power to help him recover. After a moment she followed the other femme out of the room.
# # # # #
Alan and Penny finally convinced Sarah to go swimming with them. She hadn't done anything but mope around anyway; she didn't feel like doing anything but they convinced her that even if she didn't do much, it would be better to do nothing outside than in their house.
When they got to the Lakesides' residence, Betty enfolded her in a bear hug "I'm so sorry, Sarah. If there is anything I can do..."
Sarah looked up at the much bigger femme. Finally she asked in a small voice "Did... did you wash the towels you lent us yesterday?"
"No, why?" Betty stared at her for a moment "Oh, I see. Come." She grabbed Sarah's paw and dragged her down into the basement to the laundry room. She rummaged through the laundry basket and produced one of the towels "I think that was the one Chris used."
Sarah accepted the towel and buried her nose in it. She inhaled the scent and sighed "Yes." After a minute she asked "Betty, can I..."
"Sure, keep it."
"Thank you. This means so much to me."
"You're welcome. Do you want a sealable plastic bag?"
"Come." They found a large bag in the kitchen and Sarah sealed the used towel in it.
When they were done, they went down to the lake. Sarah didn't do much but lie around, but her friend's presence calmed her a little. Penny or Betty held her every time her thoughts turned back to Chris and she began to cry yet again.
# # # # #
"They have located the New Brunswick base; our sensors have picked up several fighter planes. I am shutting down our communication links. All our furs are safely outside. Should we try to fight or do you just want to blow up the base?"
"Hmmm... let's go out in a blaze of glory. I'd like to know how effective our defenses are."
"Ok. I'll arm the defenses."
# # # # #
Benjamin Brown was at peace with the world. So far the holiday in the New Brunswick wilderness had been a full success. The bear had rented a canoe and paddled up a lonely stream. He had caught plenty of fish. After a year of busy life in the city he needed this time to regenerate, to get back in touch with his roots. Today he had hiked up a low hill. He lay down in a bush near the summit and prepared to take a nap.
Suddenly the silence was shattered by the deafening roar of jet engines. Benjamin howled in pain and covered his ears. He looked up and a moment later he was assaulted with noise once more as a second fighter jet passed directly overhead. Both planes flew low, only a few hundred feet above the ground.
"Shit!" Benjamin thought when he saw several more planes pass by close only seconds later. The day had begun so well, now his head hurt and he knew that it would take hours for the headache to fade. He watched the planes as they disappeared from sight only to reappear moments later. They seemed to be searching for something "Why do they have to have their exercises right here?"
He finally got a good look at one of the planes as it turned and noted the colors. It took him several moments to notice what was amiss "Those are US planes! What are they doing this far over the border?"
A moment later he got an answer of sorts. A puff of smoke rose from a hill a few klicks to the north. A line of smoke climbed out of it. One of the planes that was close by suddenly turned hard and began to climb. Benjamin stared at the scene; it took him a moment to make sense of it. There was an explosion and the plane's climb turned into a spiraling descend. It trailed smoke.
"This is no an exercise!" The plane disappeared behind a hill. Benjamin breathed a sigh of relief when he saw a parachute deploy "At least the pilot got out!" Moments later another explosion shook the ground.
Benjamin looked up again. As far as he could tell, the other planes, there seemed to be about 8 or so, circled the hill from which the missile had been launched. They kept a much bigger distance than before. For a minute nothing else happened. He wondered if he should head back to his camping site, but curiosity won out "What is going on here? Has the US decided to invade Canada?" Benjamin decided to stay put and watch the show.
After a minute or so, they seemed to have reached a decision. One of the planes banked and streaked towards the hill. Another missile rose to meet it, but it missed the plane. Ben didn't see the bombs, but moments after the plane passed explosions shook the hill. Seconds later the next plane started its run at the hill. More explosions shook the hill. But moments before the bombs hit, another missile was launched and this time it hit the plane. The plane went down. This time Ben didn't see a parachute. He hoped that the pilot had ejected safely, but it did not look like it. He couldn't be sure, however, the plane had been quite far away and the clouds of smoke and dust rising from the hill obscured the view.
The bombs seemed to have taken out the missile launcher, however. Three more planes dropped their bombs on the hill, but no more missiles were launched.
Nothing much happened for several minutes. The planes continued to scout the area. Then a new sound reached Benjamin's ears "Helicopters!" A minute later they came into view. Benjamin could see four of them. He counted two small gunships and two large troop carriers. They passed by not far from where Ben watched. The troop carriers set down at the base of the hill.
Ben was too far away to see what transpired, but a few minutes later the fire of small arms filled the air. There were several smaller explosions, most likely from grenades. Moments later the two gunships joined the fight. After a minute or so the shooting stopped.
There was silence for several minutes. Apart from the continuous drone of the still circling planes, that is. Suddenly the ground began to shake and a moment later the whole hill disappeared in a gigantic explosion. A head sized rock smashed into the ground not far from Benjamin. He could not see what had happened at the hill; a huge cloud of smoke hid the whole hill and a large portion of the area around it.
Benjamin decided that he had seen enough, possibly too much. He headed back to his campsite. The area would likely be crawling with soldiers soon. He hoped that he would be able to get out without being stopped and to continue his holiday in a more peaceful location.
# # # # #
"I have just received a coded message from our furs. The self-destruct device worked, the base is no more. We will know more when they contact us from the safe house."
"Ok. Thank you."
# # # # #
"Ah, Doctor. What can I do for you?"
"I wanted to know how things stand with our guest."
"Give me a minute, please." He held up a test tube "I want to get this ready for analysis."
The wolf in the white coat added a few drops of various liquids to the test tube and placed it in a receptacle. He closed the hatch and started the machine. When he was satisfied that the analysis program was running, he turned to his boss "All right, what do you want to know?"
"Everything. First, how is his health?"
"Let's see... As far as we can tell, he is doing fine, given the circumstances. I want to keep him sedated until at least tomorrow morning. We checked his brain activity and it was within acceptable parameters. Assuming they are the same as for us. We won't really know if there was any lasting damage until he wakes up."
"Flora seems to be on a guilt trip. She is really anxious about him. I'm not complaining, mind, she is a very capable nurse and I know that he is in good hands with her."
"I'm not sure, but I can't help but wonder if it isn't a bit more than that..."
"Yes?" The doctor couldn't see the raised eyebrows under the hood, but they were really obvious from his voice.
"She may be a little smitten with him."
"Oh. Interesting. I'll have to consider what to do about this..." They were silent for a minute "All right, what else have you found out?"
"I just want to remind you that we have not had enough time, so all findings are provisional."
"His body is very similar to ours. He has the same organs as we do. Apart from the fact that he has no tail, his skeletal structure is similar to ours. As far as we can tell, his cells are built on the same principles as ours. His DNA is similar, it uses the same building blocks and he has the same number of chromosomes as we do."
"Do you think it is possible that he could interbreed with a female fur?"
"I have not seen anything yet that would rule out this possibility, but we won't be able to say for sure until have done a complete DNA analysis. Why do you ask?"
"The female he was with seems to be pregnant..."
"And you think he is the father?"
"I don't know. But there are indications that she thinks so, at least."
"Interesting. If this is true, it would mean that his DNA is virtually the same as ours. His DNA couldn't be different from ours by much more than 2 percent... Interesting..."
"Yes, very interesting. It might not be such a bad idea to encourage Flora to spend more time around him, if you know what I mean..." Dr. Gonzales could hear the grin, even if he could not see it.
"Aha. I see..." The wolf grinned at the hooded fur "It isn't really our place to poke our noses into such private matters, but it would be an interesting experiment. I'll keep that in mind when I draw up next weeks schedule..."
"Yes, do that. We'll see what happens. Keep an eye on Flora."
# # # # #
Sarah opened the sealed plastic bag carefully and poked her nose in. Tears ran down her face as she inhaled Chris' scent. The towel was the last item he had used that retained his scent well. His scent was mixed with hers and her friends', but that didn't matter. After a moment she sealed the bag once more. For now his scent was safe, but it would not keep forever, especially if she opened the bag often "Please let him be safe! God, please bring him back!"
She wiped her eyes and climbed into the bed.
# # # # #
"They did what?!?"
"They blew up the whole base, Agent Moulder."
"Are you sure? I mean, they could have blown just the upper floor..."
"I am pretty sure. Unless the main base was hundreds of feet underground. We don't even know what they used to cause the explosion. It was huge, in the hundred-kiloton range. I don't see how they could have used conventional explosives, but there is almost no radioactivity. It's more than the normal background activity, but not nearly as much as an atomic bomb would have caused."
"I see. It's just... it does not fill the profile for Dr. X at all. He isn't a fanatic; I don't think he would have committed suicide like this."
"I wouldn't know about this, Sir, I can only tell you what we saw. Half the hill was blown away. We lost more than two dozen furs in the attack."
"I see..." The fox considered for a minute "Major, have you found any signs that they evacuated the base before they blew it up?"
"We have not really looked, but we didn't find anything obvious. Why do you ask?"
"I think that base was just a decoy. My guts tell me that Dr. X is somewhere else. He sacrificed that place to keep us occupied while he took our fur to his real base. Thank you, Major."
End of Chapter 4