The Project Must Go Forward
Andrew C


It grew dark as he lay there at the bottom of the stairs, tangled in
the wreck of his wheelchair, neck broken, his life ebbing ever weaker,
ever further away. Even now, his body craved nicotine, but he could not
move. He could not rise. He could barely breathe through the hole in his
throat. He opened his eyes, his body wracked with pain, and watched the
sunbeams on the rug move slowly away, darkness filling the room.

He didn't know how long he lay like this, waiting for death. He
lamented it all. His personal failures, the deaths of the few whom he
could call friend, above all the failure of the Project. It was all for
nothing, now. Nothing mattered anymore. Not even...

He heard a faint sound, like a rush of air, then a footstep. Someone
was here, in the house. Who? Had Krycek returned, to finish him off? To
make sure? As he pondered, even beginning to think about God, something
moved in front of his eyes. A face. Who? A man's, but... Not Krycek. Not
Mulder. Who...

"Well," said a voice, and he felt himself lifted from the floor. "It
would seem we have come to a bad end, old friend. Or nearly so." The
newcomer hauled him to his feet, feet that no longer answered to his
will, and looked into his eyes.

"Who...?" he croaked, barely able to speak. He tried focusing on the
face, but his brain was tired. Better to just die, now. "I don't

"Ah, but you do," said the other, and as he spoke, his eyes changed.
They began to shimmer, then to glow red. "We've known each other, you and
I. For a long, long time."

"Uhh..hh.." gasped the dying man, but the eyes were gone. He felt a
terrible pain in his throat, something sinking like needles into his
necrotizing flesh. He tried to scream, but could not draw even the breath
for that. Slowly, sickeningly, he felt what little life was left to him
being drawn out, stolen, sucked away. His mind reeled, as the sensations
went from vile, to rapturous. And visions. Visions strange and grotesque
surged through his dying brain, mingled with those of his own life.
Mulder. Kennedy. King. The Project. The Aliens. Ray, Samantha,

He awoke, at once sensitive to a difference. Though it was dark, the
shadows were not dim to his eyes. He felt a hand on his, and was lifted
to his feet. His feet! He could stand. He raised his hands to his face.
It felt whole. Restored. The hole in his throat was gone, too. He could
breathe! He filled his lungs with air, deeply drawing it in. The pain in
them was almost gone.

"I...what has..."

"Steady on, " said the voice, and he looked at the speaker. He was
tall, about 6' 4", and had blondish, receding hair. His face was like a
marble statue, and his eyes... 

"What has happened to me?" He looked down. "I'm well. I was dying."
He focused on his benefactor, and recognition dawned in his eyes..
"You've come back. Kept your promise." He felt a hunger begin to stir. A
hunger, and a thirst. The sound of a heartbeat began to thrum, roaring in
his ears. "I'm thirsty."

"But of course," said LaCroix, and took him to another room. There,
insensate in a chair, was a man. Without thinking, instinctively knowing,
he felt his fangs drop, and was on the mortal in a blur. He sank his
teeth into him, and felt the man's life-force explode into his newly
transformed body. He felt the thoughts, he felt the succulence...

He felt the power! 

After the mortal fell dead, another was as quickly produced, and as
quickly drained. Then, a bottle was put into his hand, and he drank on.
He drained five bottles, till at last his hunger was calmed, and he came
back to his senses. He stared a few moments at his savior, and felt his
mind clear and his memories begin to return. 

"You...came back," said the now Cancer-Free Man. "You kept your
word, LaCroix."

"Of course. I told you I would come. LaCroix always keeps his word,
Charles. But now it is time to go." LaCroix picked up the dead male, and
positioned him near the overturned wheelchair. Then, taking a lighter
from his pocket, he found a newspaper, rolled it up, and lit it. "No
point in leaving needless traces." He tossed the firebrand onto a chair
next to a curtain, and watched it begin to burn. "Come."

"Tell me, LaCroix. One thing. Why? Why did you do it?"

"I told you, Charles. I gave my word. And..." He took his newest
child out of the burning house, and grasped his hand.


"And," said LaCroix, with the hint of a knowing smile as fire burst
through a window, "you are important to the equation. You have said it
yourself, often enough. The Project must go forward." And with that,
Master and fledgling took to the sky.