EAST ROOM, WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON, DC

TUESDAY, JULY 20th, 2010

"While he was in captivity, we worked closely with the Pakistani and Indian officials, as well as the FBI agents present and in Washington DC. Two agents the Army would like to recognize for their particular dedication to finding Agent Mulder are Assistant Director Walter Skinner, who played an important role in organizing the FBI search effort, and Special Agent Dana Scully. Agent Scully is not only Agent Mulder's partner, but was the forensic pathologist assigned to the Bari Trasadi investigation and was at the forefront of the search for Agent Mulder while he was a POW," Major Calhoun spoke to a full room as cameras flashed, clicked, and beeped.

Twenty minutes later, they were honored with the presence of General David Patraeus, brief though it was. "By the time they found Agent Mulder, he had managed to disable a rogue group of ex-Indian military militiamen who allowed their prisoner to operate a device they had constructed in hopes that he would be capable of operating it. Agent Mulder is a world-renowned expert on ancient technology and had recently given a publicly-available speech on the Bari Trasadi at Georgetown University. The perpetrators in India had constructed a similar device to the one specified in the ancient legend, but were unable to control their creation. This resulted in the catastrophic deaths of thousands in both India and Pakistan. Multiple villages in Pakistan were flattened with no survivors, and thousands were killed in subsequent terrorist attacks in India. The Bari Trasadi War, as Indian President Patil has named it, is the deadliest event in India in decades. Agent Mulder, though gravely injured and within inches of his life, managed to not only gain control of the Bari Trasadi device, but also re-direct its use in such a manner that destroyed it and simultaneously destroyed multiple terrorist strongholds. Agent Mulder saved the lives of millions of civilians who would have perished in terrorist attacks, and he saved the lives of any military personnel who would have engaged in defensive action to protect US security interests abroad. His actions were integral to the success of our mission in the Middle East, and essential for our security here at home."

After Mulder shook Patraeus' hand and the General left to attend to his duties, several other important officials spoke about security, missions of peace, and heroism.

It was nearly an hour later that they heard the Vice President state, "The President sends his apologies for not being able to be here to present this award to Agent Mulder in person. It wasn't a difficult vote. Both houses passed the resolution in record time after hearing the facts from all sides. There is no doubt in anyone's mind: the entire world is safer today because of what Agent Mulder accomplished only eleven days ago. Therefore, it is my honor to award Agent Fox William Mulder with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award. Will you please step forward, Agent Mulder?"

Mulder rose as smoothly as he could and made his way to the podium, where he was presented with a small box. Inside was a unique medal, the only one in the world exactly like it. Carved specifically for him and what he had done, it was inscribed with his name and the year, and a brief description of why it had been issued.

As Mulder reached with his good arm to accept the box, thousands of megabytes of pictures and video captured the moment so that it would live on forever.

SUMMER HOUSE

QUONOCHONTAUG, RI

FRIDAY, JULY 23rd, 2010

1015

"How did you keep your sanity during your ordeal? Does the FBI train their agents to withstand torture?"

Mulder's facial expression had twitched at the question, and he frowned while watching the DVR'ed press conference. He sat with his nephew Matt on the couch in the family room. Maggie had taken Claire to get ice cream. They had been at the summer house for the past few days, attempting to get away from the press and have some peace and quiet. Scully was back at work, deciphering the alien text from the laptop. The most disturbing news she had was that she had found Strughold's name in the text.

There would be time to address that, though. For now, Mulder was recuperating with his family and relaxing at a place where he actually felt safe.

He was nervous about showing the press conference to Matt, even though the twelve-year-old had begged non-stop until Mulder finally caved and turned it on. It was Scully's fault for recording it in the first place.

"Ben Sherwood is a survival expert who's written a book called, The Survivor's Club," Mulder explained on video. "In that book, Sherwood details what an average, non-trained person can do to adapt to a new situation. And that is the key. Adaptation. One has to be able to transcend their situation by accepting it and moving forward with whatever circumstances they're handed."

Typical cookie-cutter crap, Mulder thought. He looked over at Matt, who was glued wide-eyed to the television, absorbing every word Mulder spoke.

"Agent Mulder, how does it feel to be the only FBI agent to ever receive the Congressional Gold Medal?"

"Honestly? I truly was just doing my job out there, doing what I had been trained to do, and I would gladly return the medal in exchange for the lives of those who were lost in the attacks."

"Agent, is it true that you spend most of your time and Bureau resources hunting for clues into the existence of extraterrestrials?"

"No, that's incorrect. The X-files is an officially-sanctioned division of the FBI that investigates unsolved cases, specifically pertaining to unexplainable scientific phenomena. Occasionally, unidentified airborne objects are investigated as part of that directive, but just as often my partner, Agent Scully, and I are looking into unexplainable deaths and instances where cutting-edge science isn't able to identify the root cause of a crime."

"Congressional Gold Medal recipients have been known to start charities after their receipt of the Medal, particularly as a way to use donations they've received themselves. Do you plan to do something of this nature?"

"There was a group of children I met in Pakistan who were orphaned in the attacks. I've already started a college foundation for these children. Now that they've been brought over to the United States for political asylum, they'll be able to have a future."

"Agent Mulder, do you plan to appear on talk shows and keep up your public image?"

Mulder smirked on camera. "I don't know about you, Sir, but I've got a regular job. Next question?"

"Okay, I think we've seen enough of this now," Mulder reached for the remote.

"No, please, Uncle Mulder! It's only a few more minutes long!"

Mulder sighed. His attempt at ending it here wasn't going to happen. And that meant that Matt was going to see…

"—what you thought about when you were re-wiring the Bari Trasadi to attack the terrorists and explode? Did you believe you were going to die as a result of your actions?"

Mulder's expression on the screen turned from kidding to deadly serious, and if anyone thought his responses were scripted before, they would know from the hurt on his face that he wasn't reading from a script now. "What I thought about, primarily, was my family. My partner's family has become like my family. I thought about my niece and nephew, and…" he chuckled, but the smile didn't reach his eyes. "To be perfectly honest, I was delirious with hunger and thirst, and I don't remember all of it, and what I do remember is a little jostled. But I remember very clearly thinking that I would probably die, and that there were still people out there who were hell-bent on destroying our freedom and the world's freedom…I remember thinking that I didn't want that to happen. And that I would do anything…that I will still do anything, to protect the population of our country and our world. Even if it's at the expense of my own life. This is the duty of every federal law enforcement officer, and it's the duty of every responsible citizen to look inside themselves and think about whether they are willing to do the same."

Like most emergencies and near-death experiences, the Bari Trasadi incident started as a clear sequence of events and eventually devolved into what Mulder and Scully would later remember as disjointed scenes in their lives. They would both recall, with sharp detail, every moment when their lives were on the line. Scully was not cursed with an eidetic memory as Mulder was, but even if the accuracy of her memory failed, she would still believe the events to be as vivid as a movie.

But once the adrenaline left their systems and they were no longer in mortal danger, their memories would only store the times when they felt intense emotion. Mulder waking up in the hospital. Scully's slew of video conferences after the event. Physical therapy sessions with Antoine. Recounting the horrific incident to General Hager. The crowd at the airport, and seeing Alam at Baggage Claim. The award ceremony, and the press conference. And the time with Maggie and the kids. These moments would remain in their memories for years to come, and would serve as moments of closure and clarity in the midst of a great tragedy.