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Authors: Kevin Anderson,Chris Carter (Creator)

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Ground Zero (The X-Files)

BOOK: Ground Zero (The X-Files)
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GROUND

ZERO

KEVIN J. ANDERSON

Based on the characters created by

Chris Carter

To Katie Tyree

whose constant insistence and enthusiasm convinced me to watch
The X-Files
in the first place—at which point, of course, I was hooked. Without her encouragement, I never would have been able to do this book.

Contents

One

Even through the thick windows of his

laboratory building, the…

1

Two

The security guard stepped out of a small prefab shack…

12

Three

The thick outfit made Mulder look like an astronaut. He…

24

Four

The safety technicians and radiation

specialists at the Teller Nuclear…

30

Five

A boring routine in a buried trash can that somebody…

35

Six

With his visitor’s badge firmly clipped to his collar, Mulder…

42

Seven

52

The key fit the lock, but Mulder knocked loudly anyway,…

Eight

Two days of maniacal asbestos-removal

construction—destruction, actually—had left a disconcerting…

60

Nine

Scully took the rental car and drove alone into Berkeley,…

66

Ten

Miriel Bremen led the way to a small

microbrewery and…

74

Eleven

From the Coronado shipyards the ocean

sprawled westward, stretching toward…

82

Twelve

As if playing a scene from an old John

Wayne…

90

Thirteen

Scully took her shift driving south from Albuquerque across the…

101

Fourteen

Before reaching the interstate on their trip back to Albuquerque,…

108

Fifteen

Sitting at his impeccably neat and carefully arranged desk in…

116

Sixteen

After an uneventful weekend—for

once—Mulder drove back to the Teller…

120

Seventeen

Scully returned to the headquarters of the Berkeley antinuclear protest…

127

Eighteen

Late afternoon in the Washington, D.C., area, hot and humid.

132

Nineteen

The body looked the same as the others, Mulder thought—severely…

139

Twenty

After so much time on the road, Scully found it…

146

Twenty-One

When Miriel Bremen went into the upper

floors of the…

154

Twenty-Two

A blind man has no need for lights. Alone in…

160

Twenty-Three

Following a hunch, Mulder went to see

Nancy Scheck’s “friend,”…

163

Twenty-Four

With a suitcase lying open on his bed,

Mulder dashed…

170

Twenty-Five

The atoll had recovered remarkably well in forty years. The…

175

Twenty-Six

Mulder and Scully arrived in the San

Francisco Bay Area,…

182

Twenty-Seven

Leaving Pearl Harbor behind on a perfect picture-postcard morning, Scully,…

187

Twenty-Eight

The weather grew even rougher, tossing and batting the small…

193

Twenty-Nine

The pressure of the approaching storm felt like a psychological…

200

Thirty

Mulder looked up at the angry skies.

Wistfully, he thought…

208

Thirty-One

In the full darkness of early night, the roiling ocean…

216

Thirty-Two

As Scully looked on, the security officer used a jingling…

222

Thirty-Three

Scully had just returned to her own cabin for a…

229

Thirty-Four

As howling darkness engulfed the island, Scully and the others…

243

Thirty-Five

Mulder watched Bear Dooley stride over to the countdown clock…

247

Thirty-Six

Captain Robert Ives didn’t know how he

could possibly remain…

254

Thirty-Seven

In the sudden black chaos following the power outage in…

259

Thirty-Eight

“Don’t just stand there,” Bear Dooley

squawked. “Get that damn…

263

Thirty-Nine

The storm spoke to him in its

power—dreadful voices against…

269

Forty

Facing into the storm, it was Mulder’s turn to keep…

272

Forty-One

Mulder’s watch had stopped, but he

suspected it had more…

278

Forty-Two

The FBI Headquarters building in

Washington, D.C., was a concrete-and283

glass…

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Praise

Other Books in the X-Files Series

Credits

Cover

Copyright

About the Publisher

ONE

Teller Nuclear Research Facility,

Pleasanton, California

Monday, 4:03 P.M.

Even through the thick windows of his laboratory building, the old man could hear the antinuke protesters outside. Chanting, singing, shouting—always fighting against the future, trying to stall progress. It baffled him more than it angered him. The slogans hadn’t changed from decade to decade. He didn’t think the radicals would ever learn. He fingered the laminated badge dangling from his lab coat. The five-year-old picture, showing him with an awkward expression, was worse than a driver’s license photo. The Badge Office didn’t like to retake snapshots—but then, ID

photos never really looked like the subject in question, anyway. At least not in the past five decades. Not since his days as a minor technician for the Manhattan Project. In half a century his face had grown more gaunt, more seamed, especially over 1

THE X-FILES

the past few years. His steel-gray hair had turned an unhealthy yellowish-white, where it hadn’t fallen out in patches. But his eyes remained bright and inquisitive, fascinated by the mysteries hidden in dim corners of the universe. The badge identified him as Emil Gregory. He wasn’t like many of his younger colleagues who insisted on proper titles:
Dr
. Emil Gregory, or Emil Gregory,
Ph.D
., or even Emil Gregory,
Project Director
. He had spent too much time in laid-back New Mexico and California to worry about such formalities. Only scientists whose jobs were in question concerned themselves with trivialities like that. Dr. Gregory was at the end of a long and highly successful career. His colleagues knew his name.

Since much of his work had been classified, he was not assured of a place in the history books. But he had certainly made his place in history, whether or not anybody had heard about it.

His former assistant and prize student, Miriel Bremen, knew about his research—but she had turned her back on him. In fact, she was probably standing outside right now, waving her signs and chanting slogans with the other protesters. She had organized them all. Miriel had always been good at organizing unruly groups of people.

Outside, three more Protective Services cars drove up for an uneasy showdown with the protesters who paced back and forth in front of the gate, blocking traffic. Uniformed security guards emerged from the squad cars, slamming doors. They stood with shoulders squared and tried to look intimidating. But they couldn’t really take action, since the protesters had carefully remained within the law. In the back of one of the white official cars, a trained German shepherd barked through the screen mesh of the window; it was a drug-and

2

GROUND ZERO

explosive-sniffing dog, not an attack animal, but its loud growls no doubt made the protesters nervous. Dr. Gregory finally decided to ignore the distractions outside the lab building. Moving slowly and painfully in his seventy-two-year-old body—whose warranty had recently run out, he liked to say—he went back to his computer simulations. The protesters and guards could keep up their antics for the rest of the afternoon and into the night, for all he cared. He turned up his radio to cover the noise from outside so he could concentrate, though he didn’t have to worry about his calculations. The supercomputers actually did most of the work.

The portable boom box tucked among books and technical papers on his shelf had never succeeded in picking up more than one station through the thick concrete walls, despite the jury-rigged antenna of chained paper clips he had hooked to the metal window frame. The lone AM station, thank goodness, played primarily Oldies, songs he associated with happier days. Right now, Simon and Garfunkel were singing about Mrs. Robinson, and Dr. Gregory sang along with them.

The color monitors on his four supercomputer work-stations displayed the progress of his simultaneous hydro-code simulations. The computers chugged through numerous virtual experiments in their integrated-circuit imaginations, sorting through billions of iterations without requiring him to throw a single switch or hook up a single generator. But Dr. Gregory still insisted on wearing his lab coat; he didn’t feel like a real scientist without it. If he wore comfortable street clothes and simply pounded on computer keyboards all day long, he might as well be an accountant instead of a well-respected weapons researcher at one of the largest nuclear-design laboratories in the country. 3

THE X-FILES

Off in a separate building on the fenced-in lab site, powerful Cray-III supercomputers crunched data for complex simulations of a major upcoming nuclear test. They were studying intricate nuclear hydrodynamic models—imaginary atomic explosions—of the radical new warhead concept to which he had devoted the last four years of his career.
Bright Anvil
.

BOOK: Ground Zero (The X-Files)
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