CHAPTER 19

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 1:00 A.M. AND 2:00 A.M.

To say that Sydney was surprised by the arrival of the first B613 operative they'd met would've been an understatement; her sister had been certain that the team that had imprisoned her had killed Ballard just for form's sake. And considering that he'd been entrusted with an automatic weapon- Vaughn had taken it from him, along with a couple of other gadget- made even less sense, everything Ballard himself had told them was that Command was not the forgive and forget type.

"You didn't find him attached to anything explosive, did you?" It was a silly question to ask, but right now, she was trying to get anything that might justify this turn of events.

"I was one of Command's personal projects," Ballard told them. " Someone he'd invested a lot of time and energy in. Besides, you people have been doing an impressive job of thinning his ranks. I guess after Huck disappeared, he really was scraping the bottom."

Sydney wasn't inclined to believe this either. Then Kim, who was understandably frazzled, told them about the conversation she had overheard in the control center she'd just visited. "His supporters are not happy with him," she told them. "I've guessing that's why he's so determined to get his hands on the two of you."

"They're going to be royally pissed when they find out we slipped through his fingers," Vaughn told them.

"And what are you exactly, Mr. Ballard? " Sydney asked. "Some kind of Trojan Horse here to set us on the wrong path yet again? 'Cause I gotta tell you, we don't need an insider anymore."

Ballard had managed a remarkable level of calm the first time they held him prisoner. That was all gone now, and it had nothing to do with the fact that they had him at their mercy.

"One question, and you are going to answer it in words of one syllable: was Command here?" Vaughn demanded.

"He pulled out half an hour ago," Ballard told them. "He left the second we apprehended your daughter-in-law."

"How did he even know I was there?" Kim retaliated.

Ballard either was playing them still further or he just didn't care any more "He's Command. He has access to files that no one else does. You honestly think you can break into one of his buildings and he won't know about it?"

"You're telling me he's destroying his sources of power one by one?" Vaughn demanded.

"All he needs is the intel inside the data stream. Everything else is only bricks and mortar. And you know how highly he values human life."

There was a certain mercenary logic to this; it definitely fit what they knew about Command. "Why hasn't he blown this building yet?" Kim asked instead.

"This is the equivalent of a command and control center." Ballard reminded them. "My guess is there's something on the hard drives here that he needs to hold on to." He must've known his credibility was less than zero, because he added: "You really think he's the kind of guy who shares his secrets willingly?"

Just then Will, who had been pulled back before the 'exchange' had taken place, finally showed up. This was a reunion that, frankly, they could've all lived with out. "Doesn't anybody stay fucking dead anymore?" he shouted.

"In his defense, we didn't know for certain they had killed him." Vaughn said reluctantly. "We hoped that was the case."

Will eye-fucked Ballard, then told them he had gotten off the line with Chloe. "Jack and Nadia are en route. They wanted to know if the building was secured."

"I think it's safe to see that no such animal exists in B613," Sydney reminded them. "Did you tell Jack about the little reunion that's going on?"

"I did." Will hesitated. "He told me they already had a VIP of their own in custody. He wouldn't give a name, but he made it pretty clear that whoever it was trumps Mr. Ballard here by a considerable margin. Said he'd leave it to your discretion as how to handle this guy."

Sydney brightened a little. That pretty much gave them a greenlight to put a bullet in Ballard. "You have until the count of five to give us reason that we should let you live. One."

"You really think it'll solve anything to just kill me?"

"You're dead weight, Mr. Ballard, and we're trying to slim down. Two."

"Command wants you and your sister dead. He usually gets what he wants."

"He's been trying that all day, and yet we keep drawing breath. Three."

They had to hand it to him, Ballard was still remarkably calm. "The man has backup plans to his backup plans."

"Are you even trying?" Sydney took her gun out and put it to his forehead. "Four."

"Is your VIP his daughter?!"

That got Sydney and Vaughn's attention. Will had pointedly not even mentioned the sex of the person. Sydney shot a look to her friend. "What's her name, you're so smart?" he shot back.

"Olivia Pope. 38, educated at Brown, lives out of D.C. Would you like me to give you her measurements?"

Will looked at Kim, who by now had gotten Jack and Nadia back on the line. "How do you know this?"

"Command has surveillance on heads of state 24-7, you really think he doesn't have someone doing the same thing with his flesh and blood?" Ballard told him.

A horrible thought crossed Syd, Vaughn and Kim's heads simultaneously. And they had a pretty good idea that it had crossed the rest of their family as well.

"How far out are you?" Kim demanded.

"Five, six minutes max." Mulder told them.

"Do you think you're being followed?"

"I know we're not." This was something Jack could talk about with assurance, One of the more obscure devices attached to the Bauer's vehicle was a miniature radar device that picked up nearby vehicles within a five mile radius. Any car that appeared within that window could be tracked and identified within two minutes. They had been clean almost entirely en route.

"What about the airspace?" Sydney demanded.

Now they were getting nervous. Monitoring airspace was not something a security company could do without going through a shitload of legal work. Even CTU would've had a lot of paperwork to get through just to get to that point.

"This guy may be a monster, but he's not an idiot." Mulder was able to think a lot along the Bauer's mindset these day. "If he has drones in his possession, he's still not going to risk killing his daughter as collateral damage."

"No," Nadia thought. "But he might very well wait until all of his enemies were in a group, then fire a single missile. Poof. Problems solved."

"Is Command monitoring our communications?" Sydney demanded.

"Does that mean I get to live?" Ballard asked.

"Four and a half," Vaughn now resumed counting.

"If he was, he'd have killed you people hours ago!" Ballard was starting to sound frustrated, which was really ridiculous given the circumstances

"What are you offering in exchange for your life?" Kim demanded instead.

"He has a deadline to meet, and alliances to maintain." Ballard said slowly. "There's a way to beat him, though, and I'll help you do it, if you guarantee my safety."

"I just know we're going to regret this, but... how on earth would you do that?" Sydney demanded.

1:09:29/1:09:30/1:09:31/1:09:32

ONE MILE SHY OF RENDEZVOUS

They had surpassed the level of insanity they could take quite a few hours ago, but even Jack thought that if Command really was as megalomaniacal as he appeared to be, he might just be mad enough to do what Ballard was suggesting. So they decided to play along a little longer.

They got out of the car about where Ballard suggested they should. The second they were visible, Jack took out his Glock and put it an inch away from Olivia's head. "Start walking," he ordered.

"You don't have to treat me as if I'm a master criminal," Olivia said slowly.

"Right now, you're precious cargo," Nadia told her. "Assuming of course, your father has anything resembling a heart."

Olivia shrank even further if this was possible. "Am I never going to be free of him?"

"Given everything we know, there's only one of two way that happens," Nadia told her. "You're an intelligent woman. I think you've worked out which one of those it has to be."

"Get started," Mulder told them, as they walked out. "I want to be in the open even less than you do."

Sydney had not taken her weapon off Ballard yet, but she didn't trust him any more than the people she was walking towards. "All right, Mr. Ballard, or whatever the fuck your name is, start proving you're worth saving."

"B613 only has three drones in its possession in the continental U.S.," he told her. "He only dispatched one over the tri-state are- the other two are still in D.C. He's kept it for surveillance- until Olivia Pope showed up."

"I'm tracking air traffic now," Marshall told them. "Crossing through Army bandwidth." Air traffic had, as everybody knew had been suspended over the state of New York for the last twelve hours, save for Air Force One. Finding the drone would be easy. What they did next-

"You guys know that hacking the feeds going to be the opposite of a picnic, right?" Edgar told them.

"Right now, that's Ballard's problem, not yours," Vaughn told them

Marshall finally made contact- unfortunately. Marshall was one of the best hackers in the world, so it said something about the level of the security system that he was detected at all. But he was, and the instant was, bad things started to happen. "Uh, guys, maybe we should've rethought this entire approach," Marshall sounded even more frantic than usual. "Cause right now, he's looking directly at Jack."

"How long will it take you to override the controls?" Jack said in as calm a voice as he could manage.

"About thirty seconds, but according to my calculations, there's going to be a missile locked on you in less than twenty."

"Is there anything you can do in the meantime?"

"I got one trick, you guys better hope that it works," Marshall told them.

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION

"Sir, there's no way we can do this without killing your daughter," the B613 operative nervously told Command

."Are Bauer and Santos within range?" was all Command said.

"Sir, did you hear what I said?"

"I asked you a question. Anything else you have to say is irrelevant. Do. You. Have. Them?"

"Yes, sir."

"On my command." There wasn't even the slightest hesitation. "Fire."

It would've taken a man of stone to not be able to look straight at what was coming. Command didn't even flinch.

The missile was fired. The screen went white.

"Scanning now." An interminable wait. "The target has been destroyed."

Command looked around. "Verify the footage, and send it to our friends overseas. Tell them they have no excuse to not support me."

"Yes sir. " The subordinate knew that this was probably a mistake, but said it anyway. "I'm sorry about your daughter."

"Don't be." Command walked out of the room.

1:14:37/1:14:38/1:14:39

Marshall's 'trick' had been to take control of the camera, record an image of Jack and Nadia in the frame, and hold it. It lasted just a few seconds, but that was all the time they needed to get Jack, Nadia, Mulder, and a terrified Olivia Pope out of the range of the drone. The second the missile was fired, Ballard's tech regained control of the missile. He managed to have it connect on the car that they had just deserted.

A missile detonates within a few feet of you, one would have to titanium balls not to be rattled by it. It took Jack and Nadia nearly two minutes before they were anywhere near calm to enough to consider approaching Olivia Pope. Mulder looked severely shaken himself before he managed to have the energy to stand with the assurance he wasn't going to tip over.

"That is as close as I'd ever want to cut it," he said when Jack walked towards him. "And I've been declared dead four separate times."

Jack and Nadia were impressed- they'd only known about two of them. "How long do you think it'll be before Command knows we eluded him again?" Mulder asked.

"Not long," Nadia admitted. "If we're very lucky, this'll buy us a couple of hours."

"Good," Mulder told them. "I have a nasty feeling that it's going to take that long to get her-" he gestured to Olivia Pope, who hadn't moved in nearly four minutes- "to be of any use to us.."

Olivia may have been Command's daughter, but she was nevertheless a civilian. And frankly, Mulder wasn't sure which would be the bigger shock - that she'd nearly been the target of the drone, or that the kill order had been given by her father. Even Jack admitted that he'd never believed Rowan Pope was cold enough to order the murder of his only remaining living relative. "Any sign that she's in there?"

Mulder shook his head. "Scully's the doctor, not me. I can tell she's got a pulse, and that's she's breathing. That's about as far as my training takes me. Does yours go any further?"

They knew enough to realize that Olivia had probably gone into shock, psychological and physical wouldn't have been uncommon given what had just happened. Jack had to admit that it would probably be easier just to carry her somewhere. But even if they got her to a hospital, there was no guarantee she'd be any use to them, even if she wasn't injured.

By now, Kim had made it the rest of the way to the rendezvous point, and ran in to her father's arms. "I didn't think you were going to make it this time," she said

Neither did I Jack thought. "The others OK?"

Kim nodded, then looked to Olivia Pope. "That who I think it is?"

"The monster's daughter." Nadia told her. "Who, as was resoundingly proven, doesn't mean anything more to him than a stray dog."

"He kept a drone on her all day just so he could have the privilege of killing her himself?" Kim asked. 'Even by the standards of the people we work with, that's cold."

Jack couldn't help but agree with that.

"What are we supposed to do with her?" Kim asked

"We're just working that bit out," Nadia told them. "Not to sound worse than B613, but do we have anyway of finding Command/" She looked up. "Without having to do something this drastic?"

"There may be something," Kim took out her phone. "We've been having trouble reestablishing communication, but Agent Whitney's been looking inside the building we just liberated. Said there might be something we can use."

Jack blinked. "He's not planning to blow the building the second we get there?"

"If he is, he'll need to have more tricks then we do." Kim assured her father. "Marshall''s hacked into the data-stream. Even if he does decide to blow the building, we'll have all the intel from the servers."

Finally, a move that the bastard couldn't circumvent. "What has she found?" Jack asked.

1:21:14/1:21:15/1:21:16

FBI OFF SITE NEW YORK

Using the intel that Kim had managed to recover while she was in the building, they were starting to run through the data that the most recent B613 had available. Naturally, there was an immense amount, and even using some of the intel their combined tech support had, it was going to take hours, if not days, to try and decode all of the intel that was on the servers. But there were sections of the data stream that seemed 'familiar' for lack of a better word, and now that Marshall had sent some of the sequences, Agent Whitney was beginning to see why.

Dakota Whitney had never worked the X-Files the same way so many of Mulder's followers had. She had been drawn to his work by Mulder's locations of people with psychic ability- Luther Lee Boggs, Clyde Bruckman and Gerry Schnauz had been her way in rather than little gray men. But she had read enough of the file so that she had a rough idea of what shapes and forms the conspiracy had taken. So when Marshall had highlighted a large collection of files that had long strings of data, all headed with the letters SEP, she had a good idea what this building had been responsible for.

"You were right when you said this is one of the Syndicate trafficking areas," she said to Sydney and the others. "A huge amount of the data here is listed from the Smallpox Eradication Program. Whatever B613 is up to, they have clearly taken over the job of cataloging people, if they're not tagging them directly."

"And given everything you've told me about them, B613 would be one of the biggest agencies capable of maintaining that data. " Mulder had been keyed into the conversation. "If nothing else, this proves that Rowan Pope is part of the Consortium."

"And it would explain why he was talking to people from Germany and Japan," Sydney told them. "He's shoring up support for the organization in the easiest place to get it."

"This links him to the conspiracy, at least a part of it. " A tinge of excitement appeared in Mulder's voice. "This is the first time since this black-lunged son of a bitch died that we've actually got one of them. And that's enough to bring him down on a whole host of charges."

"How does any of that help us find him?" Nadia brought them back to reality.

"That may not. But I think I also found something that will." Whitney told them. "A lot of what was in the building were floor plans. A lot of them. They're all encrypted to an extent, but Marshall is pretty sure they're almost all of the New York Locations for B613. Three of them match up to the ones that have already been destroyed."

"How many are there?" Sydney asked.

"Besides this one, there are still eight to go."

At last, after a day of bad breaks, finding Command's location had been reduced to an exercise in probability. There was, of course, the small problem that they didn't have the manpower to raid them all at the same time. But Jack had an idea about climbing over this particular bridge. "Get Doggett on the line."

1:26:36/1:26:37/1:26:38/1:26:39

MOUNT CEDAR SINAI

Audrey Heller had put a lot of faith in the Bauers. Even though her father had nearly paid with his life, she knew for sure that B613 would have eliminated the word 'nearly' from that sentence. And because she wanted the President to retain use of his faculties, she had reluctantly gone along with the doctor's advice to keep him out of the loop.

However, her patience had run out ten minutes ago, when she received confirmation that one of their drones had apparently ordered a missile strike on American soil. While there were no confirmed casualties, she knew damn sure that the use of those strikes on American soil had been forbidden by executive order. Her father had been the man who issued it.

By now, she knew that going after Command directly wasn't going to work. Exchanging words with him wasn't even going to make her feel better. So she decided to do the next best thing, and try and cut the ropes that were providing him support. And fortunately, she actually had someone around who could do that.

"Mr. Buchanan just arrived," Aaron told her.

"Anyone besides the agents we discussed know he's here?" Audrey asked.

"Of course not, ma'am," Aaron said. "You want us to send him in?"

"No," she told him. "Send him in with the President. I want to say this with as few people listening to them as possible. I'll be right there."

Audrey knew that the leadership of CTU had effectively been compromised. But if they tried to freeze them out on something as big as what they were planning, Command would find out sooner then they would. She knew that eventually there would be some kind of screw-up based on what was going on. She had not expected it to be the Texas-sized mistake that he'd made, but at this point, it only helped their cause.

She entered the room. By now, her father was dressed again, and looking a lot better than he had a few hours ago. Some daughters would've been concerned about whether or not this was best for their only parent's wellbeing. Audrey knew that what her father was about to do was going to lower his blood pressure considerably.

"You're going to give me the same excuses I've been hearing all day? Your sources didn't track this? The intel was sloppy?" President Heller was saying to Chambers, Command's would-be flunky. "It doesn't matter. You're done."

"With all due respect-"

"Everything you have done today demonstrates that you don't have any. Not for me. And certainly not for the safety of this country.." Heller looked at him. "You were either incompetent or duplicitous, and at this point, I don't care which. You and whatever people are in charge of CTU are relieved of command. You have five minutes to hand over your intel and get the fuck out of here, and if I'm in a good mood, maybe I won't have the Attorney General prosecute you for your gross incompetence."

'Sir-"

"If the next words out of your mouth aren't 'I understand, Mr. President,' I'll have him prosecute you for treason. Believe me, it won't be that hard."

Chambers was silent for several seconds, seeing the rock that her father and Command had pinned him under. Finally, he gave the only answer he could that might save him. "I understand, Mr. President."

"Good. Now leave."

Chambers walked out the door. "Are Aaron's people watching him?" the President asked.

"They will."

The President walked over to Bill Buchanan. "I realize that you've been through a lot today already," he told him. "And frankly, I wouldn't blame you for telling all of us to go to hell. But right now, we need people that we can trust. And you and your wife are among the few people in the system that we are certain about. Will you help us, Bill?"

Bill didn't hesitate. "What do you need me to do, Mr. President?"

"Your first task after reassuming your former position will to be help oversee a joint CTU-FBI operation." The President told him. "We are in the process of confirming the locations of eight cells in the city of New York. Present in each of these cells are men who are responsible for various acts of treason against America, including designing and supplying the bio-weapon responsible for killing nearly twenty thousand people today, as well as being responsible for an attempted coup d'etat."

"We should caution you that a lot of the intel was received thanks to the helps of several people our government has recently classified as 'having possible terror connections,' " Audrey added.

"Sir, I'm more than willing to take down these cells, but you have to know that this will be like swatting the lead bug in a swarm," Buchanan told them. "B613 is a global conspiracy. Just taking out the New York offices probably won't even get us close to killing the monster."

"It is if the bug is the queen bee," President Heller said. "And let's drop the insect metaphor; I know how dangerous Rowan Pope can be."

"If he's anything like the monster I've heard, he's probably not even in the state any more." Buchanan told them.

"There might be a way to get to him, though." Audrey told him. "When the drone strike was made, our friends at CTU weren't the only ones he targeted."

1:33:44/1:33:45/1:33:46

"The operation is a go," Deputy Director Doggett was telling Mulder. "I've been in contact with our friends at Homeland. Byers and Langley have been going through the locations with Jack's people. They've finished decoding the addresses, they're in the process of sending them to my people at the New York Bureau."

"All people you trust?" Mulder asked. "Command has deep roots, I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't got at least one guy for the other team."

"I've been double tracking ever since we got involved a few hours ago. Ran a couple of lists with Chloe. She came up with a master list. Every team you have will be people that came on with me. Not perfect, but..."

"Probably the best we can do." Mulder thought for a moment. "Why do I feel like I'm going to be juggling nitro in a little while?"

"'Cause you've been here before, and come up with shit?" Doggett admitted. "What about this Olivia Pope? Can she tell you anything useful?"

"Ever since we narrowly escaped death, she's been practically catatonic, " Mulder told them. "I almost wish Scully was here. She could do something."

Doggett took a long pause. "There are people who could get you what you need, and they're right next to you," he said gingerly.

This was a still something of a sore point. As much as Mulder respected the Bauers, he still considered some of the methods they used to extract information 'extreme'. Even if he had, he would've had a hard time with them doing it on a comparatively innocent person. Still. "There might be another way," he said.

"There isn't much time left,' Doggett reminded him "You've got maybe twenty minutes before we have to lead the assault."

"That much?" Mulder joshed, before assuring them that he'd be ready.

He walked over to Jack, and asked him which location was the next closest, which apparently was the only one that B613 had hidden in Queens. "Can I ride with your team?" he asked.

Jack told him that the rest of the family was splitting up to meet up with multiple teams so that they could hit them all simultaneously. For the first time all day, they were going to have enough manpower to carry out an operation. Sydney and Will had already driven out; a helicopter was coming for Vaughn and Kim. Nadia was staying with him for the moment. "Frankly, you'd probably be more help from the offices," he told him.

"I never was much for paperwork." Then he told Jack what he had in mind for Olivia. "You've been using the stick all day. Trust me when I tell you this is the time to use the carrot."

"My wife's riding with you."

"Fine." Mulder said quickly. "But she stays in the back seat, and quiet. Subtlety is what's called for. Then maybe, we consider the comfy chair."

Jack could've argued that he was not his wife's keeper, bur he decided for once he wasn't going to pull rank on someone who was technically a superior

"Stay off the grid as long as you can," Jack told him. "B613 thinks we're dead. I'd like to keep the illusion up for as long as possible."

"Same to you," Mulder reminded him, before taking Olivia and getting her in his car.

1:38:30/1:38:31/1:38:32/1:38:33

Nadia didn't know much about Mulder's experience at the Bureau as an interrogator. She knew that he had been one of the best profilers at Quantico, a prodigy of sorts, and that he had developed good, if unorthodox methods of obtaining information. But how he was going to do it with a woman he knew next to nothing about without using the usual method didn't seem like it was going to work.

"We're about eleven miles from our destination," Mulder told Olivia. "Which means depending on how heavily I step on the gas, we'll be there in between twelve to fifteen minutes. They're setting up roadblocks, so they can clear the way, so it might be sooner. When we finally get there, we're going to have to decide what to do with you, which, frankly, we have no consensus for."

Olivia continued to be as unresponsive as she had been for the last half-hour. Nadia wasn't sure what Mulder's strategy was, or if he even had one.

"I get it, you really don't want to talk about your family." Mulder hesitated. "I can relate. Maybe not as well as the other people who were questioning you, but probably a lot better than they think."

Nadia refrained from laughing her ass off. They didn't understand? Nadia's father was Arvin Sloane. Sydney's mother was no picnic. And the way Jack didn't talk about his family, Nadia was fairly certain she didn't want to know.

But no, they didn't understand. Ha!

"My family fell apart when I was twelve years old," he began. "My sister was abducted. Taken from our house when my parents were at a neighbors. Gone. Never an explanation. My parents marriage basically collapsed soon after, though I'm pretty sure they never really loved each other. For awhile, I thought it was my fault, probably I still did for a long time. But one day, I learned that my mother had been having an affair with a colleague of my father's at the State Department. Of course, I didn't learn this until years after my father died, and my mother was nothing but denial about anything that happened to our family. So eventually I had to put the blame on someone else."

Mulder hesitated. "You can stop me if this is boring you. God knows the few friends that I have grew pretty sick of hearing about it." He paused. "But then, it's not like I ever had many of those either. But since we have the time," he looked at the clock on the dashboard, "at least another ten minutes, maybe you'll indulge me a little longer."

Nadia had a pretty good idea what Mulder was trying to do, and, if they had hours to handle this instead of minutes, she'd have been more than willing to indulge him. But she knew how long and arduous the Mulder family saga was, and she knew she'd gotten only the truncated version. Did Mulder really believe he could convince the devil's daughter in little more than ten minutes?

1:44:04/1:44:05/1:44:06

CTU NEW YORK

CTU had been effectively chasing after the wrong people for the last seven hours, and while almost no one here liked the people from 'Homeland', they weren't in a position to go anywhere unless they were fired. And right now, no one wanted to piss these people off anymore than they had to. So the last few hours, CTU had slowed its work to a crawl, which much to their resentment, none of their new bosses seemed to object that much too.

Which was why after they realized that a missile had been launched on downtown New York, most of them realized it was a whole new ballgame. This was something their bosses couldn't ignore. They were therefore astonished when, barely half an hour after the drone strike, a third group of agents entered the building, all wearing FBI vests. Never had CTU personnel been so grateful for the intervention of another group of feds.

"We have orders..." one of the nameless bastards said

"From who?" Agent Drummy demanded. "This order comes directly from the Attorney General, which was issued with the President's blessing. Who do you answer to that outranks him?"

There had been some kind of power play in the last few minutes, and it had clearly not gone 'Homeland's' way. They tried to protest, but there were far too many agents to put up any kind of fight.

The FBI escorted the rogue agents out, then one of them turned around and asked who the ranking agent was. At this point, no one was sure who was left. Finally, Sara Gavin got to her feet.

"Bill Buchanan will be here in a few minutes to resume command," Agent Drummy told her. "Until then, we need you to assign agents in the field for a series of raids that will be under our joint supervision."

It seemed a little tacky to break out into applause, considering how little work they had done for the last few hours, but that's exactly what they did. "Where are these raids taking place?" Sara asked.

"They should be texted to your locations as we speak," Drummy told her. "I'd tell you from who, but I'm betting you have a pretty good idea who did most of the legwork."

Indeed, they did. And Sara got the rest of the credit she'd earned when one of them had her IP address. It said: "Thanks for the S.O.S. Edgar."

Attached were the locations for a series of buildings throughout four of the five boroughs. None of them stood out more than any other, but Sara would've bet all the money on here that this was where 'Homeland' was from.

1:48:51/1:48:52/1:48:53/1:48:54

Nadia was grateful that Mulder really was keeping to telling about his family, and just the abridged version at that. Even just hearing the truncated version, it was clear that his family traumas pretty much left hers and her sister's behind. The question was, was it working?

And then, Olivia spoke up for the first time in half an hour. "So this man who thought he was your father, how many times did he try to kill you?"

"The smoking son of a bitch thought he was offering protection from outside forces, but as far as I know, he gave orders for my death at least three times. Probably didn't think twice about any of them, despite what he says."

"How could someone just do that?" she asked. "Give the order to kill his own flesh and blood?"

"I stuck a gun in his face several times, " Mulder told her bluntly. "The difference was, I didn't have the balls to pull the trigger. If I had, probably there would've been a lot fewer deaths on my conscience. That's the real difference between people like us and people like them.."

Olivia considered this. "I always knew that he was a monster. But I didn't think he could just throw me away like last week's TV Guide."

"That's the thing about them. They say they are concerned with the greater picture, not the individual." Mulder hesitated. "Of course, we think so too. But we know how cruel that is." He was honest enough to stop before mentioning that they were driving with another person with that mindset.

Olivia hesitated. "I've done a fair amount of research on B613," she told them. "There might be one last way to flush him out. Take away his bank account."

"Meaning..."

"The funding for B613 comes in under a subset of the DOD. But aside from my father, I don't know if there's anyone in the agency that knows the code. That's the only thing my father really cares about. Making sure that his child is well funded."

"Really?" Nadia asked sarcastically. "You want us to take away B613's allowance?"

"Any government agency needs money, Miss Santos," Olivia said. "Have DOD find out who's been sucking them dry for the last thirty years, it'll be like hitting an off-switch."

"Too bad we don't have any tech geniuses with experience in hacking government mainframes," Mulder said. "Or an insider who can tell us where to look."

Mulder never gloated- it was one of his more admirable characteristics - but this was as close as he came to admitting that he had succeeded where they had failed. "Don't count your blessings, " Nadia told them. "Even our people going to need at least ten minutes to get that far."

"Well, we have something useful to do in the meantime," Mulder told them. "Lafayette, we are here."

They had arrived at what was- according to Ballard, anyway- the second and final Brooklyn location for B613. It was their major weapons repository for the state. Considering the level of armament these guys had in their other buildings, Nadia dreaded to think what they might be facing in this one.

"Does anybody have a read on how many people we're going to be facing?" she demanded..

"Satellites and BTUs scans aren't giving us much," Marshall told them "I'm picking up two dozen separate readings, but given how much of their facilities are underground, there might be another dozen."

"All of them with the best weaponry our government can provide," Mulder told them. "How many are in the raiding party?"

"About thirty agents, equal parts CTU and the Bureau," Nadia told them. "And before you asked that's what they're sending to every building. Bill's diverting all non-essential units to our raid, but the numbers were spread pretty before the situation went FUBAR."

"How sure are we that the buildings aren't all going to explode the minute we step foot in them?" Mulder asked.

"Chloe and Marshall think, that with Ballard's intel, the second we break the doors down, they're going to enter an override code that will essentially hand control of the security over to us." Sydney told them over the wire. "Of course, the only way that's guaranteed to work is if we hit all eight targets at the same time."

Sydney checked in with all the assembled teams. They were all scheduled to hit the buildings at exactly 2:00 A.M. It was the same kind of attack plan in play when they had taken down SD-6 nearly a decade ago.

She didn't need anybody to remind her that particular raid had not gotten the man they were after. And Command probably wouldn't even have to leave the county- hell, he might've gone to Jersey while they were cleaning up this mess.

Which was why Nadia had tasked Byers with the job of trying to follow Olivia Pope's suggestion, and try to hack DOD's mainframe to look for B613's funding. Even Byers was not optimistic that this could be done rapidly.

"I guess telling you to think in terms of baby steps would be a waste of time," Mulder told her

"We've been trying to tear down a mountain with a spoon all day," Nadia reminded him. "Anything that is the equivalent of dynamite I'll consider a step in the right direction."

She got ready to leave to take charge of her team.

1:55:09/1:55:10/1:55:11

"Does anybody even believe that we're going to get anything other than a single arm- hell, probably not even a finger- of Pope's organization?" Vaughn was asking his wife. "This guy's been a step ahead of us all day."

"We have to find him," Sydney told them. "And I find it impossible to believe that of the hundreds of agents were about to snatch up, one of them has the common sense to not go down with the sinking ship.".

Everything Sydney was saying was logical, even reasonable. The problem was that Command, by even the loosest definition of the term had been crazy before the day had even started. He was definitely over the edge now. And she knew far better than anyone else how dangerous crazy people could be.

"No one is this clever," Sydney said reading his thought. "And if he has the level of paranoia that you're considering, he'd be one step away from a plan on world domination. Even whatever coup he was trying to plan, that had to be months in the making. He's running out of time to be overly elaborate. He's not Sloane, much as he's trying to be."

Vaughn was considering making the heretical comment that Pope might be even worse than Sloane, but he knew better than to push that particular point. "How long until we can knock out the cameras?"

"Not til the last minute. You know how impatient our people get." Sydney paused. "You're right about one thing. This is just too damn easy. You know, considering all the hoops that we had to jump through to get here."

"Get in position. It's time to synchronize our watches."

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION

"You had orders and you didn't follow through," Command was saying in a disconnected tone that sounded like it had very little to do with reality.

"They came from the President, sir. How exactly would you have liked us argue against them? That your authority overrides his?"

"I've outlasted four administrations. I will survive this puny man's attempt-"

"All due respect, sir, you won't. We don't have the manpower or the people. They are coming for you, and they don't intend to stop until B613 has been wiped from the map."

The signs to surrender were so obvious it would've taken a blind man not to see them. But Rowan Pope was the kind of person who would gouge out another persons eyes just to spite his face. "Don't bother coming back, I don't have any use for you anymore." He terminated the call.

"Did our people overseas send us the codes?" he turned to one of the few subordinates he had who was still alive.

"They're going to know about the President ordering raids on B613 targets any minute now," the subordinate was clearly perspiring. "Once they do, they'll change the sequence."

"It still will take them half an hour to input recall codes," Command said blissfully. "By then, it will be too late. Is the aircraft our friends told us about ready?"

"Waiting on your order, sir." Reluctantly, the subordinate handing him the piece of paper with the code on it.

Command already had one half of the launch codes. The German had given him the other half. All he had to do was to give the order, and a stealth bomber with six three megaton nuclear warheads would be launched. By the time it appear on anybody's radar, it would be two late to stop it.

1:59:57/1:59:58/1:59:59/2:00:00