An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
An exploration of Krycek's life from the car bomb (early Season 3) to infection by the black oil (*Piper Maru)
I left Alberta even jumpier than I'd been when I went there. I'd met a guy who could do things that contradicted the laws of nature--nature on this planet, anyway--had seen a crop that would help spread future terror and watched the restless sleep of a girl with no voice and even less of a life. Did I mention that I almost died? It was brief but it made its impression. Before the sun came up the next morning I'd set off on the road to Vancouver. I was running from my own fears as much as from the old man's vengeance and what Smith had shown me the day before. But sometimes it takes a while before you notice things like that. All that registered was that I was running. Each mile I went seemed like a victory at the time.
For a while I played the radio as I drove along, but it didn't really block out the things pounding through my head. I'd seen the Oil and I'd heard the story about Maria Ivanova's parents. I'd seen evidence of the tests and the hybrid attempts while I was in charge of herding the Japanese doctors around. But there was some kind of distance to those things, some mental cushion, compared to actually sitting at a table with a couple dozen live, in-the-flesh cloned kids. Maybe it just hit too close to home; I'd been a kid at a big community table once myself. The clones, though, they were empty inside, their hollowness hidden away inside those perfect bodies: no scars, no rail-thin limbs, no haunted eyes or acting out at Smith's installation. I kept trying to tell myself they were just test tube products, machines created for a purpose, but it wasn't enough to chase the chill from my gut. Even as I drove along, my mind kept pulling up memories of the orphanage that I hadn't known were still in me. And Smith--I had no idea how he'd done what he'd done to me. Whether it was some way of rearranging matter or whether there was some kind of mind-trick involved, the big question was what else could that power be used for? How could you defend against it if they decided to use it as a weapon?
Smith was a pain in the ass, but more than anything else he'd shown the clumsiness of an amateur spy. If he believed in their cause, he wouldn't have shown me what he did. But everything he said was cryptic, like he was afraid to let too much out. I'd seen the bees, though, and I knew what they were for. Was this how they were going to get rid of whatever part of the human population they didn't want, just infect us with some variation of an antiquated disease? If that was their plan, the vaccine efforts weren't going to make much difference in the end. Or was the smallpox just a test virus? Obviously they had the ability to breed the features they wanted into a population. But the clones weren't perfect, either; I'd seen that in the girl's restlessness while she slept. And what did they want with hybrids, anyway? Were they waiting all this time just to have janitors who could survive to clean up after them? Hardly worth the hassle of invading and colonizing a planet. They must need more than that. How had Smith put it? They wanted 'to live, to express themselves. Not to be confined.'
There was something in there, some hint in what he'd said if only I could figure it out, but my mind was a mess. I'd been on the road for seven hours, five of them spent in what must've been the first major rain storm of the season, and the motion of the wipers was getting hypnotic. I hadn't really slept much the night before and I could feel my alertness slipping. And I wasn't about to pull what Mulder had on the way to Skyland Mountain and end up drifting into oncoming traffic. So when the road brought me into the town of Cranbrook, I decided it was time for a break.
Bad break, as it turned out.
I'd just eaten and was starting to back out of my parking space when a cop with nothing better to do came up behind me and stopped me for having a brake light out. He actually parked behind me, blocking the car I was driving, so I was stuck. My gut reaction was to bolt, but I needed this car. So I tried bluffing my way through, said the car was my cousin's. I think he would've bought it but evidently somebody'd been watching when I changed the plates on the car twenty miles out of Medicine Hat and they'd called it in. I didn't know that at the time; I just knew the cop was spending way too much time on his car radio and when he got out again I could see it in his face: I'd been had. So I took off as fast as I could but my biggest concern was the tape in my jacket pocket. If they caught me, they'd confiscate it and my future would be gone. All I could do was gamble, so I tossed the tape out into some ivy beside a building as I ran past. Good thing, too, because thirty seconds later two guys came running from the opposite side of the street and brought me down with flying tackles. I took it hard on the shoulder and then there was pain and a crowd started to gather and I was snatched up and hauled off to the local jail.
Captivity does a number on me, not so much the effect of the confined space as knowing somebody else is pulling the strings; I just want to get the hell out of there and back to where I can breathe for myself. And I had it bad in Cranbrook, though I tried not to let it show. I had to remember where I'd thrown the tape and I went over and over the route in my mind, but I sat there with sweaty palms and a sick pool in my stomach anyway. I was by myself for most of the afternoon, trying to keep from losing it over the way my life had spun out of control in the last couple of weeks, fighting back flashbacks of my argument with the old man, watching Scully's sister go down, remembering the way the explosion had thrown me. Then there was the bee sting the night before. I made myself come back to the tape lying out there in the rain. Hopefully it'd fallen down between the leaves and not ended up where some kid would pick it up and pull the tape out of the cassette just to watch it flutter in the wind. Hopefully some dog wouldn't piss on it. Chemical wipe-out. The old man had this spiel: the mundane things that sometimes bring down men and nations, and this looked like a pretty good example.
Just before dinner they transferred me into a cell with three local skinheads. I got the stares and the verbal shit--they wanted to make sure I knew I was the omega in this group--but things seemed to settle down after dinner and frankly, I was dead tired. So while they played poker, tossed around their bonehead rhetoric and generally ignored me, I hunkered down in the corner and fell asleep. Came awake thinking I was back in Afghanistan, that I'd been hit by flying debris, but--lucky me--it was just a blanket party. There's something about having your head slammed against a set of bars. Repeatedly. Nearly broke my nose, but there's not much you can do when they've got your head covered and your arms pinned back. When they were finished they dumped me in the corner again. All I could think--when I could think past the explosion in my head--was that I'd be a jurisdictional issue since I'd stolen the car in Alberta and this was B.C. They'd talked about transferring me. It would be my one chance to get away. Assuming I lasted until the cavalry came.
I guess luck smiled on me a little there. In the morning a squad car showed up for me, and just one officer. He was taking me back to Alberta--Lethbridge, which was more than a four hour drive and perfect for what I had in mind. About eight miles out of town I started telling the guy I had to take a leak, I couldn't wait; I wasn't going to make it to wherever he was hauling me, or even to the next town for that matter. So after a couple of minutes he stopped on the roadside and followed me toward a stand of trees. But even though he was watching, half-anticipating I'd make some kind of move, I still got the jump on him. Tripped him, took him down and left him cuffed to a young tree, unconscious. I'd bought myself maybe six clear hours to work before anyone would miss him and start searching. By then I'd better be halfway to Vancouver.
Took his uniform and headed back into Cranbrook in the squad car. I'd watched the route we'd traveled leaving town and I found my way back to the place where I'd tossed the tape. Spent half an hour in the rain between two buildings, scanning the surface of the ivy inch by inch, then slipping out to search it whenever there were no passersby, the whole time my pulse beating in my ears and my head thundering like a stamping machine in a factory. Luckily the wet weather was keeping people off the streets.
Eventually I did find the tape. I went back and changed into my own things, then swiped another jacket from an unlocked car and a baseball cap to hide what my forehead looked like. Behind a shopping center I managed to get myself a ride in a grocery chain big rig heading west. I would've liked to stretch out in the back but the driver didn't trust me enough to let me back into the sleeping compartment. But after what I'd been through, just a dry seat and the knowledge that nobody was going to beat me up was good enough. I was cold and soaked and I felt like death warmed over. Driver took pity on me, gave me some coffee and a couple of aspirin and I just curled down into the corner and slept the whole twelve hours it took to reach Vancouver. When we got in, it was nearly two in the morning and I was dropped off on a deserted street corner, my head feeling like it was about to break, the rest of me wrapped in what felt like the onset of the flu.
Che'd set me up to meet with someone at Simon Fraser University, a whiz kid into encryption who might be able to break into the data on the tape I was carrying. I'd need to sell some of that information just to buy myself a plane ticket off the continent. Turned out to be old home week. Or it could have been. Grigori was Russian but I realized right away that I couldn't afford to let him know my background; it'd be a giveaway to anyone the old man sent looking for me. So we met outside the campus library at seven in the morning, me looking like hell and nothing like a student.
If he was disturbed by my appearance Grigori didn't let it show. He took me back to his apartment and sat right down with the tape, leaving me to fix myself something to eat and sack out again on the couch. By the time I was ready to return to the living it was late afternoon. I was feeling a little better and my host had scored his first hit. He'd read extensively about World War II codes and recognized the use of Navajo. Two days later he made contact with some Indian kid whose grandfather had been a code talker. I didn't like the idea of potentially spreading the tape's information around--these guys were computer geeks and they could have had connections to anyone--but there was really no choice. Somebody had to get at that information; either I wanted it opened up or I didn't. So I waited for the translations, in limbo, hanging around Grigori's apartment, which made me antsy as hell. It made me realize that when I got to wherever I was going, I was going to need a place of my own, something stable and secure for however long I'd be there. No hotel rooms, no guest beds. I needed to be by myself, let myself sink into the local landscape and disappear.
Anyway, I waited. Grigori managed to find me a cut-rate airline ticket for when the time came. But a lot of the time he was away at class and I was left to shift for myself or to face the stuff running through my head, none of which was any too pleasant.
When the documents finally came in, I had to process the information in them. Roswell, Majestic 12, sightings by military pilots--they were all there, a record of alien contact dating back to the forties. But who had money to pay big for this stuff? Not the civilian UFO groups out to validate the experiences of their members. I'd need someone who was out to profit one way or the other--souvenir hunters or some government that thought it could capitalize on the knowledge it might discover. Or someone willing to pay me not to spread the information. My biggest risk was in spreading the word about the material being available. If the syndicate got wind of it, they or the old man would track me down no matter how many layers of security I tried to hide behind.
Ché was the one who found me my initial buyer, a rich Austrian industrialist whose wife had had an encounter one night while on a Washington state vacation. He'd seen the ship's lights himself, had found his wife speechless and shaking on an outdoor balcony overlooking the ocean. There were records in what I had--dates, times, pilots' accounts. He paid me $350,000 for my information, dropped in a Virginia park where Ché was waiting to pick it up, and I had my traveling money. I didn't waste any time in booking that flight off the continent.
I went to Singapore first, probably because I thought Hong Kong might be too obvious a place to land. Paid three months' rent on an apartment and I guess I was okay for the first couple of weeks. I had this bunker mentality; the only thing I could think was to create a safe perimeter around myself. No run-ins with the law--Singapore definitely isn't the place for that--and nothing to attract the old man's attention. All my contacts were filtered through Ché, and to prospective buyers I became Maxine, retailer of treasure maps to alien crash sites. I thought about getting a bodyguard but they attract attention and they can be bought; after all, they do what they do because it pays. Truth was, I didn't trust anybody and in the end I figured I was just as well off without one. The lower-key the better. What I did need was someone to run errands, send messages, cook, clean, translate. Maybe help me navigate the area if I needed it. Found a woman through an agency--Lilly--and she took care of the day-to-day stuff. She was middle-aged, short and stocky, all business and dependable. In fact, she was efficient enough that I didn't have to go out at all, and as it turned out, I'd come just before the onset of the winter monsoon, so by the third week it was raining nearly all the time and I was stuck inside my little paid-for palace as surely as if I were locked away in a prison.
At first I tried to ignore the trapped feeling. I buried myself in the documents I had for sale, going over them for any information I could use. A lot of it, like the Majestic-12 papers, weren't that helpful. They talked about analysis of the Roswell and Corona wreckage for the purpose of using the technology--craft materials, how they must have been flown, the strategic consequences to society and the power structure if there were a lot of sightings and people started to believe. There were instructions for handling crash materials, both vehicles parts and bodies, and here I finally found information that rang true to the kind of things I'd seen and heard: four crash workers in hazard suits had fallen ill hours after handling the Roswell bodies. All four died in the hospital of "seizures and profuse bleeding". So there it was, the truth all the military and political bureaucrats were ignoring in their rush to analyze the spoils: the attack we were facing wasn't going to be military but personal. No weapon in any military arsenal, no layout of hardware or show of firepower was going to stop what the black oil would do to individual human bodies.
It didn't help my state of mind, thinking about it. Finally I had money and I was on my own. I could buy myself anything I wanted--security, comfort, sex, vacations, another motorcycle; I'd missed that since I left Malibu. But what good was it going to do me in the end? My apartment offered no safety from the future. I was still locked out of the only possible salvation around and I had no idea how the hell I was going to get myself back on the inside. The more I tried to think about it, the more the walls closed in on me. I bought exercise equipment and worked out. I dipped into the nightlife a little but it made me nervous, being out there and always wondering whether someone might spot me. Anyway, it was easier to order girls in, and I did that a few times...until they sent me one who looked like she was about twelve and scared out of her wits. I knew how the young ones got there, sold by poor families or tricked into thinking they'd be working legitimate jobs. If I sent her back, somebody else would only do what I hadn't so I gave Lilly some money and told her to find the kid a legitimate place to stay. It pissed me off bad, the fact that they'd even sent her to me. After Lilly'd taken her away, I put a fist through the wall.
Two days later was my birthday. I wasn't in the mood for another girl and I'd taken to drinking, so I sat around feeling sorry for myself and my twenty-eight pointless years, refilling my vodka glass and remembering five years earlier when Patty'd come up with that strawberry shortcake for my birthday in spite of the fact that she'd had to hunt all over to find berries in November. In a way it was a minor thing, a lot of effort put into a detail, but what I remembered is how she'd put out to do something nobody else had ever done for me.
I nearly called her. Don't know what I would've said but I actually dialed the number. Then I got a jolt of reality and hung up fast. What good would it do to up-end her life like that? I knew how she'd been that last night, crying onto my shoulder and hoping I wouldn't notice. The last thing she needed was to have me check in from out of the blue, Mr. Come For The Weekend. I wasn't exactly anybody's dream lover. Hopefully her life had worked out for her.
It was the last straw. The next morning I had Lilly do some research, find me a place in Hong Kong, and I went. Took Lilly with me because she was dependable and spoke the language. She was all business and that's what I was looking for, someone who could get the job done and leave at the end of the day. I told her six months max--six months and we'd re-evaluate--and that was okay with her; she had family in Singapore and didn't want to be gone too long. I had Ché put out some feelers geared toward salvage seekers. Several B-36 bombers carrying atomic payloads had gone down in the Arctic during routine patrols in 1950 and the people interested in them wouldn't necessarily be the kind the old man and his group would pay attention to. I made the sale, took in about a million and a half and decided I'd better bank it; no telling what I'd need it for later on. I tried to get a grip on myself and my life. Hong Kong has a lot of parks. I made myself take walks, get out there and face trees and grass and birds. Hell, I even took one of those island ferries to watch the pink dolphins off Lantau Island. Took Lilly along on that one. She'd never seen anything like that and she was curious. We both stood there at the deck railing thinking our own thoughts. She was as self-contained as I was and it was a good thing. It was perfect.
The unexpected bonus to my downed bomber transaction was that I was contacted by some guy named Jerry Kallenchuk, the salvage broker who'd outfitted the B-36 group. He wanted to work a deal: he'd get me customers for a cut off the top, and of course he stood to make money outfitting the salvage operations that followed. Which was fine with me. It was a chance to get Ché off the hook. I'd been nervous about Ché's part in this from the beginning. He was too valuable a resource to lose by getting caught working this UFO sales job. Jerry did a couple of minor transactions for me before we finally met. We were sitting at adjoining tables in a downtown restaurant, both of us waiting, when I finally realized Jerry was Geraldine. Needless to say, she was surprised to find out I was Maxine. I didn't like her much and I figure the feeling was probably mutual, but I knew that as long as I was her cash cow, I was safe.
It almost worked out that way. A few big-ticket deals came in. I took in the money and put it away except for the bonus I gave Lilly; she had a bunch of relatives she was helping to support and I wanted to keep her on my side. It was crazy, having money. Anything I'd wanted I could've paid cash for and taken home, but I wasn't used to living that kind of life and there didn't seem to be any point in starting now. Anything I wanted... except safety, and the chance of being saved down the line. Okay, so I bought a few clothes and some furniture, enough to make my place livable. Couple of pieces of art. I thought of starting my own little army, my own muscle, but I'd been on the other side long enough to know that loyalty was only a function of who paid the most. Besides, just how much of a threat would I be, up against the old man and his group?
I was beginning to see something, though, now that I'd had a few months to let things settle--now that I was hidden and could step out onto the sidewalk without sending my blood pressure through the roof. It wasn't just the way I'd head-butted the old man that'd made him try to get rid of me. I was the obvious one to sacrifice. I'd been in the Bureau; they knew who I was. I'd made the perfect patsy for the attack on Skinner. The other two would be a blur to him. I was the one he was going to remember. And since the Scully job had been botched, they would've been pressing the old man to get rid of the liability I represented.
I thought of something else, too, maybe farfetched but hopeful: what if this was another one of the old man's tests? Real, life-or-death test, granted, but a test all the same. He'd been ready to sacrifice me in Afghanistan. If I beat the car bomb, maybe he'd see me as even more valuable somewhere down the line. Not right away; it was going to take a while. But maybe--maybe--there was a way to work myself back to the inside, to move up, even, if I was patient and played my cards right. I'd have to have something to offer the group, though--maybe something they'd be desperate for. With a little planning, I just might be able to pull it off.
Enter my big brother.
I had a few days warning, at least. Ché'd been following the radar movements of the salvage ships and he'd been watching the Piper Maru just to keep us on the safe side. When it pulled out of the North Pacific unexpectedly and made a beeline for San Diego, he knew something was up. Next thing we knew, the crew was all in the hospital with radiation burns and the FBI had been called in. And I knew what that meant. It was going to be a mystery to them and that meant the case was going to end up on Mulder's desk. I'd worked a case with him and I knew how he got off on solving puzzles. With the promise of something alien attached, he'd work even harder. I just hadn't counted on how fast he'd put the pieces together.
But I did have Ché monitoring airline flights, so when Mulder's name came up on a flight to San Diego, and then to San Francisco and Hong Kong on the same day, I knew it was time to clear out. I didn't know if Kallenchuk would sell me out to save herself or not, but Mulder'd know the tip that had led to the Piper Maru's search had come from the DAT tape, which meant it had come from me. And I couldn't afford to let him go putting my name in a report where the old man could pick up on it and track me down. Not after five months of hard work at keeping myself off the radar. I was going to have to try and make some kind of a deal for Mulder's silence.
In the twelve hours I had before he got in, I made arrangements to vacate my place. I'd paid ahead but I wasn't concerned about getting the money back; I had plenty in a bank account in Zurich. Lilly took care of the move-out details. She'd stay behind to pick up the refund on the lease and I told her she could keep it. After all, she'd been a big help, she had mouths to feed... and I wanted to make sure she stayed grateful enough to keep her mouth shut about me. The only way I could see to shut Mulder up was to offer him the DAT tape, which wasn't any particular loss to me since I had all the decrypted documents anyway. It shouldn't be that big a deal. I'd offer Mulder the tape, he'd react like a little kid at Christmas and I'd take off for Madrid where hopefully Paco could help me find a place to hang out for a month or so until I could plan my next move. Funny, though, that no matter how many ways you map things out in your head, they always play out differently.
I had Lilly stake out the restaurant in front of Geraldine's office because I knew she always went through the restaurant to get to there. When Mulder caught up with her, Lilly would give me a call so I'd be ready for them back in the salvage office. The whole plan seemed straightforward enough, but in the couple of hours I had left, my mind started eating away at me. The last time I'd seen Mulder was right after I'd killed his father. He wasn't going to have forgotten that. And then I'd nearly killed his partner and he'd be pissed about that, too. Maybe he wouldn't want to deal; maybe he'd feel more righteous hauling me back to the States in handcuffs, and then where would I be? He'd have his precious tape and me on the road to 'justice'. Though having the tape would be like carrying around a time bomb. Expose that information and the syndicate would be forced to take him out. But he'd probably never think that far. He was such a blind idealist. All those perks--Oxford and everything--while I grew up in an institution, and he still needed to be bailed out of the problems he created for himself, either by Scully or maybe the way I'd saved him when I knocked him down from the top of that tram car. What would he have gained by frying himself up there? Some badge of loyalty to his partner saying he'd tried to find her even if it killed him? He'd nearly killed both of us trying to prove that earlier on the parkway. He was a real piece of work. I would've made something of the opportunities he'd had.
Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans. Lilly did her job but how were we to know the French would be right on Kallenchuk's tail? Lilly saw them enter the restaurant in time to warn me and I realized Mulder and I were going to have to talk fast, but as soon as he got inside the door he started harping on his father. First words out of his mouth. Not 'Where's the tape?', which is what he'd come for, but something he couldn't do a damn thing about. I snapped. I had to make this deal but those French agents were probably already headed toward the back hall. I tossed Geraldine outside the door just in case they'd gotten slowed down in the restaurant and Mulder and I still had a minute. No luck. I heard the shots and I had no choice but to get out of there. So I bailed.
It was a lot like running from the car bomb, my life melting to shit before my eyes, but I had to make one last stab at getting to Mulder. So I ducked into a produce shop halfway down the block, hoping Mulder would manage to get away, and he did. Luckily he ran in the same direction I had and I was waiting to grab him as he went past. I told him I could get him the tape he was looking for and to meet me at the airport in forty-five minutes. If he followed me, the deal was off. If I even smelled a setup, I'd make it my life's work to be sure he never found that information. Then I got out of there, watching him over my shoulder as I made my way down an alley and over to the back street where Lilly was waiting with the car. Mulder looked fit to be tied but he stayed put.
I went straight to the airport and studied the departure area for any sign that Mulder'd set somebody up to intercept me, but I watched for a long time and I didn't see anything suspicious. Inside my jacket, my heart was banging away like an engine low on oil, though. He'd want to capture me; he'd feed on the satisfaction of turning in his father's killer. But he didn't have a gun; this was Hong Kong, and they weren't allowed. Besides, he had no jurisdiction here, and negotiating cooperation from the locals would be a matter of months, not minutes. Still, he could try something on his own. In which case I'd have to counter with an offer I knew he could never refuse--information about Samantha. I wasn't absolutely certain she'd been held at McClellan, but the old man's interest in dead kids in the area made it damn likely.
In the end there was no guarantee Mulder wouldn't find some way to trap me, but the alternative to not showing up at the airport was certain exposure in his case report. My hand was being forced. Hopefully the lure of the documents would be enough to buy my safety. But before I handed over that key, I'd make damn sure Mulder understood the danger he'd be facing if he tried to go public with the information. Hell, beyond saving my own skin, I might save my brother from becoming the old man's target. Which was okay. For as naive as he was, his heart was in the right place. Some day that do-right, crusader spirit of his might just come in handy.
But would he do the 'honorable' thing and let me walk away without a struggle? If the situation were reversed, he knew I wouldn't.
I'd told Mulder to meet me near the phones; I'd actually called him from the other side of the terminal to make sure he was in place. But when I went to meet him I caught sight of the backs of two men in trench coats at different banks of phones. For a split second I was looking the other way, and that's when Mulder took the opportunity to smash me in the face with the receiver. The pain in my nose threw me off long enough for him to get me up against the wall and take my gun, and for a moment there I thought he wasn't going to be satisfied this time with just dumping the contents of his little storm cloud over me; I figured he was actually going to kill me right where I stood, even if it meant never getting the tape. But he cooled down.
My nose hurt like hell. And for the moment I was trapped. Mulder sent me to the bathroom to clean up and I figured I'd have a few minutes to work on my next move. But it didn't play out that way. One thing I can say: If I ever see a woman in a men's bathroom again, my reaction won't be to laugh. A second after my face hit the wall, I knew I was on my way to living out the nightmare that had haunted me since I was a kid.
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