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That Time in Vegas…

The Ultimate Untold Lone Gunmen and Walter Skinner Adventure – Oh, yeah, and Scully’s in it too.

By P.R. Chung

Preface

Number one, we need to suspend canon here, in both the realms of the X-Files AND the Lone Gunmen, and we’ll wedge this into a series timeline somewhere between Seasons 5 and 7 of the X-Files. So now just roll with it, enjoy, it’s just fan fiction – bat shit crazy, out of control fan fiction full of allusions and homages to so much pop culture and stuff that happened twenty-five or more years ago, that this is very likely going to possibly be too overwhelming for some readers. So please reach back into your past, when you had an open mind, and when the X-Files and its Fan Fiction, however inconceivable and farfetched, was embraced with wide open arms. And there’s a soundtrack to go along with it on YouTube: That Time in Vegas.

** X **

In the shadowy world of covert operations and murky affiliations, there stood one mysterious figure - Morris Fletcher, the man whose associations danced on the edge of credibility. Rumors linked him to the secret realms of Area 51, the revival of the legendary Majestic 12, now reborn as the enigmatic and unimaginative Majestic Y12, and most intriguingly, the frontier of PTCT - Practical Time Control Technology. Rumor had it that Fletcher was ready to spill the classified beans, provided he could find the right price, and a trustworthy middleman - a conduit for his invaluable secrets.

When word reached the Lone Gunmen, that Fletcher would be at Def-Con 9 in Vegas, they knew they had to be there, ready to seize an opportunity that would make the Dead Cow’s infamous CIH-infected Back Orifice incident seem like child's play. Yamaha was still recovering from shipping all those infected hard drives.

Yet, the task at hand was far from a walk in the park. Getting close to a man as elusive as Fletcher wasn’t going to be any walk in the park. The Lone Gunmen were no strangers to this sort of clandestine activities and well knew how to meticulous prepare.

In the world of conspiracies and covert schemes, the Lone Gunmen were the masters of their craft, and the shadow operative Morris Fletcher would soon find himself ensnared in a web of deception spun by the most unlikely of heroes.

Their mission was clear: infiltrate his world, gain his trust, and extract the information that could shatter decades of secrecy and deception forced upon Americans – the entire world even – there was no telling how far and deep this went. The Gunmen diligently compiled their dossier, gathering a tantalizing trail of breadcrumbs leading them closer to their mark.

Fletcher's weakness for the fairer sex was a chink in his armor, a vulnerability they intended to exploit. With carefully crafted personas, and an intricately woven web of allure, the Lone Gunmen would deploy their most charming and skilled operatives.

** X **

“Oh no,” Scully declared into the phone, “You guys tricked me before. I should still kick your asses.”

“No tricks, Dana,” Frohike explained in earnest. “We need your expertise in this.”

“No. Get Mulder to do it.” she asserted.

“We tried, but he’s in England.”

“I know that.” She said and waved her hand in frustration. “Can’t this wait until he gets back?”

“No, this is the utmost urgency… We wouldn’t ask unless it wasn’t. Can you please come out here and we’ll explain?”

“No. Just no. I’m not getting caught up in some—some… I don’t know what again.”

“I promise we’ll make this worth your time. Besides, what else have you got going on?”

Scully looked at the invitation on the table. This wasn’t just a gathering with her immediate family, her brothers, their wives, the nephews, and nieces, all of whom she loved dearly, but no, this was first, second, and even third cousins, great-aunts and uncles, a virtual DNA strand of Scully’s and their offshoots going back to the Mayflower it seemed.

She pouted, thinking for a moment. Then asked, “Do I get my own room?”

** X **

Less than 5 hours after the call, Scully found herself deposited at the Bellagio hotel, and escorted to her private room. She was more than stunned. The Gunmen has come through, and she couldn’t help but wonder how as she open the blackout curtains to a pristine view of the pool and gardens.

This was posh, she’d give them that, but what was the overall plan? She wondered, trying not to be drawn in too deeply by the luxuriousness of her surroundings. And as for the luxury of her surroundings, just how in the world were those three paying for this?

Before she could consider it more her cell trilled.

“Scully, it’s Frohike.” His voice came over the phone. “Everything to your liking we hope.”

“Uh, yeah,” she answered as she glanced around the room, “How are you guys paying for all of this?”

“That’s of no importance,” he replied, “there’s attire in the closet for you.”

“Attire?” She questioned.

“Yes, please dress and meet me downstairs in the Lilly Room in an hour.”

“Frohike…” she began to ask more questions and realized he’d hung up. She sighed, “these guys.”

She went to the closet, opening it to find a full rack of dresses, the floor lined with shoes – not her style in a million years, but gorgeous non-the-less.

“What in the hell are they up to?” she said to herself and pulled out a red dress… “No way.”

** X **

Scully wasn’t going to fall for this asinine clandestine crap with these three until she knew what was going on. There was no red dress and matching shoes as she marched into the Lily Room of the Bellagio, prepared to ask a battery of questions once she laid eyes on the Gunmen—

Scully halted, taken aback. Was she seeing what she was seeing? She questioned herself as she spied three men at the bar dressed to the nines, who vaguely resembled the three men she knew as the Lone Gunmen in another life, another reality.

Frohike made eye contact with her, immediately looking concerned, and headed from the bar to approach her. Dressed in a well-tailored suit and shined shoes, he looked nothing like the grizzled rough and tumble leather bound man she had come to know.

“Scully why aren’t you dressed?” he immediately questioned, as he glanced around.

“What is going on?” she asked, thrown off entirely as she assessed his appearance, and that of Byers and Langly.

Langly was clad in a black mock turtleneck and jeans, his statement long locks drawn up into an odd bun, while Byers was not so differently dressed than normally in a suit that, however, appeared much more expensive.

“Frohike, what is—”

“Scully, there’s no time to explain, please,” he stressed, glancing around nervously. “Go back to the room, change into one of the outfits—the red one would be the best…”

“No,” she scoffed and defied his urging. “You need to tell me what is going on.”

“We are meeting our contact tonight,” he explained hurriedly, “we need you to… get his attention and hold his attention in conversation. We need you to get as much information out of him as possible.”

“All right, well I won’t even mention how obviously demoralizing this sounds,” she began, “but just what information am I supposed to get from him while I’m dressed like a dime store floozy?”

“Floozy?” Frohike was offended, “Scully, never. We had the best stuff picked out for you—”

“Oh, well, hello there.”

Both Scully and Frohike turned seeing the grinning man ogling them both, especially Scully. “Richter, you must introduce me to your friend,” the man addressed Frohike, and turned his leering gaze on Scully.

“Uh,” Frohike began, taken off guard, the plan going sideways.

“Dana,” Scully introduced herself pleasantly and extended her hand to the man. “My pleasure, you must be...”

“Morris,” he grinned, taking her hand in his. He looked at her directly as he placed a kiss on her hand, “Morris Fletcher.”

Scully saw the worry in Frohike’s eyes, and feigned her best most alluring smile, “Enchanted. I hope you can excuse my appearance, I just arrived, and my baggage is on its way.”

“Oh, pish posh, you look absolutely stunning, Dana.”

** X **

“We need you, big guy.”

“Who is this?” Skinner asked, the phone pressed to his ear, reaching for the light as he came up out of a deep, and unusually peaceful sleep.

“Melvin Frohike.” The voice on the other end of the line answered. Skinner flicked the clock on the nightstand and squinted. It was nearly one in the morning.

Skinner sat up to rest on his elbow, asking Frohike, “What is going on—and how did you even get my number?”

“I think we were in a situation that we need some backup.” Frohike tried to explain, his voice was threaded with distraught. “We need you, big guy. Scully needs you.”

“Scully?” Skinner declared and sat upright. “What is going on? Is she okay?”

** X **

The red-eye flight touched down at McCarran, smoothly placing Walter Skinner in the embrace of a Las Vegas desert sunrise. As he peered through the airplane window at the terminal, he couldn't help but wonder how he had ended up here, spending his precious weekend on a mission to rescue his agent from the bewildering escapades of a trio of well-meaning but, in his opinion, somewhat bumbling geeks.

Skinner let out a sigh and rubbed his eyes, trying to shake off the fatigue that had settled in during the flight. He questioned himself inwardly, almost chastising his own decision. Was this really necessary? Had Scully truly gotten herself into such a situation? He couldn't help but feel that there was more to this situation than had been relayed to him during that phone call. Nonetheless, he was resolute in his determination to unravel the mystery and bring Scully back safely to her normal life.

The Lone Gunmen, he mused, were not bad men at all. In fact, he found himself rather fond of them. They were not only helpful and resourceful but also genuinely well-intentioned in their own quirky way. However, there was one thing that had always bothered him, especially when it involved one of his best agents - the occasionally questionable tactics they employed.

Skinner couldn't help but let his mind wander for a moment. Thoughts of Scully, her unwavering dedication, and her remarkable intellect came to the forefront of his consciousness. He felt a warmth in his chest as he thought about the times they had spent working together, the late nights, the close calls, and the undeniable connection they shared. It was a feeling he had tried to suppress for years, given their professional relationship, and now was not the time to indulge in such thoughts.

With a shake of his head, Skinner refocused on the task at hand. He had a job to do, and sentimentality had no place in it. He was here to ensure Scully's safety and uncover the truth behind this puzzling situation. As he disembarked from the plane, he steeled himself for whatever challenges lay ahead, all the while silently scolding himself for allowing his thoughts to drift in a direction, he knew was ill-advised.

He'd get to the bottom of this insanity soon enough he thought as he climbed into a cab. Soon he would be finding the Gunmen and Scully to sort this out and get his agent home safe.

** X **

“Big guy, glad you’re here.” Frohike greeted Skinner brightly as he approached their table on the street side patio of Mon Ami Gabi that overlooked the boulevard and Bellagio fountains.

“Would you stop calling me that,” Skinner grunted as he seated himself.

Frohike nodded in agreement. “You got it, uh, Walt—"

“Stop.” Skinner reinforced, shooting a glare at the three of them.

“How should we refer to you as, if you don’t mind me asking?” Byers asked, puzzled.

Skinner didn’t answer, and only asked, “Where’s Scully?”

“In her room.” Frohike explained. “She’s safe,” he reassured.

“Safe.” Skinner repeated with a nod as he considered the three of them, his austere gaze falling on Frohike. “Right, so tell me exactly why I received a call at one am last night that brought me to Las Vegas on a red eye because one of my agent’s was in danger?” Skinner leaned forward, shifting his pointed gaze between the three of them. “And you better make this worth my time, gentlemen.”

“Good morning, sir, would like a menu, perhaps a mimosa to start with?” The waiter appeared, grinning.

“No thank you,” Skinner abruptly told him.

“Okay, I’ll come check back later…” the waiter said sadly and sulked away.

“I need some answers.” Skinner demanded of the gunmen.

Frohike leaned close to him. “We've uncovered a top-secret government project. Something so deep, so dark, that even Mulder and Scully couldn't sniff it out.”

“Major dark shadow government.” Langly chimed in.

“It’s something being referred to as TAPS, The Anonymous Payload System, a layered internet server system designed to route traffic through a series of veiled nodes to obfuscate the origin and destination of data packets, delivering viruses able to shut down entire governments, their military, even bring cities to their knees by hacking municipal utilities," Byers explained, “and our contact is ready to sell the information to the highest bidder.”

Skinner nodded, “Who’s bidding?”

“Middle East, Russian, North Korean.” Frohike answered.

Skinner worked his jaw in frustration. He straightened and looked between them. “What are you three thinking—Do you realize how much danger this could involve?”

“We didn’t until last night.” Byers answered.

“That’s why we called you in.” Frohike explained.

“Called me in?” Skinner echoed, astounded. “And just how did Scully get involved?” Skinner questioned the trio.

Frohike exchanged a guilty look with Byers and Langly before turning to face Skinner. “We talked her into it.”

Skinner squinted at Frohike. “You talked her into it? Scully doesn’t get talked into situations. What load of bull did you give her?”

“We needed her as a distraction.” Frohike explained. “This guy Fletcher has a serious weakness for the ladies, and Scully was only meant to… charm him.”

Skinner stared in disbelief. “And she agreed to this?”

“No, not exactly.”

“Then what is the problem here?”

“Fletcher took more of an interest in her than anyone expected, and he’s refusing to discuss anything with anyone until she attends a high stakes poker game with the buyers.”

Skinner shook his head. “So, I’m assuming one of you three is playing an interested buyer?”

Byers and Langly looked at Frohike.

He raised his hand. “Ritcher Manus,” he introduced his pseudonym, “a digital broker in the deep web arena, trading private databases, academic libraries, and certain sensitive government documents.”

“All right, that’s not obvious.” Skinner scoffed. “You really think you’re going to pull this off?”

The three exchanged uncomfortable glances.

Frohike looked at Skinner. “No,” he admitted, looking ashamed. “That’s why we need you, big guy.”

Skinner considered them for a moment. He wasn’t happy about this in the least, but these three were in a spot, and most importantly, they’d dragged Scully into it somehow. He nodded, and looked at Frohike, asking, “What’s next?”

** X **

Scully rose from her bed, the buzzing of her phone pulling her from dreams that scattered from her consciousness, leaving just enough dust in their wake to annoy her as she tried to recall the images. She looked around the room, slowly remembering where she was, and hung her head.

She could have been in Boston right now, mingling with a multitude of relatives she didn’t know from Adam. She could have gracefully bowed out – lying about having to leave on short notice. But instead… here she was, she recognized as she looked around the lavish refinery of her hotel room, in Las Vegas.

This was definitely a major departure from her day-to-day life, and nothing like she’d ever been involved with when it came to the Lone Gunmen. How they were carrying this off was beyond her. They’d called in every favor and marker they had without a doubt.

Her phone buzzed for the umpteenth time… She looked at it, resigned to what awaited her. Here she was in Las Vegas once again, a player in yet another Lone Gunmen ploy to expose another deep conspiracy in the tech world. Only this time, she thought as she picked up her phone, she was the very unaccepting and uninterested focus of the creepiest man she’d ever met—

“Skinner?” she squinted at her phone, frowning. “What the f---”

** X **

“Sir, your inseam, if I may?”

Skinner acknowledged the tailor, taking a step to spread his legs to allow the man to adjust his pant leg and the cuff of the tailored pants.

He looked at the gunmen the full length mirror he was posed in front of while he was being expertly fitted. The tailor shop was absolutely not in the Lone Gunmen’s zip code, and he damn well knew it.

The atmosphere of sophistication and refinement in the place was telling. There was a rich scent of fine leather and polished wood, with an interior tastefully decorated with dark mahogany furnishings and plush, deep-colored carpets that muffle footsteps. Soft, ambient lighting casts a warm glow, creating an inviting yet exclusive ambiance. The entire place was a showcase of luxurious fabrics, the finest wool, silk, and cashmere fabrics catch the eye, emphasizing the commitment to quality and elegance.

How deep these three gotten themselves he might never know, but he was hoping it was going to either pay off or break even for these three at this rate.

Agreeing to help the Gunmen was a means to an end; getting Scully out of the mess they’d entangled her in was his end goal. This charade was actually going far over the top than he’d expected, though.

“The story,” Skinner said, making eye contact with Frohike in the mirror. “Give it to me again.”

“Nick Paloma. You’re a tech magnet out of Montreal, and you need a serious leg up on the competition.”

Skinner stared back at him. “That’s it? That’s my back story?”

Frohike shrugged. “Mob son that went legit using the family money in the tech industry. Kiss. Keep it simple, Skinner.”

Skinner sighed and looked at himself in the mirror. “Nick Paloma.” He said to his reflection. He looked at the lines of a finely tailored suit, feeling an unbeckoned confidence infusing him. Then, straightening his shoulders and setting his jaw, he repeated the name with more intent, “Nick. Paloma.”

Byers and Langly nodded at each other, impressed.

“You’re ready sir.” The tailor declared, stepping back after his last adjustment to the suit; a perfect fall of the slacks cuff that just brushed the polished leather of Skinner’s shoes.

Skinner adjusted each mother of pearl cuff link, adjusted his tie, and turned to step down in front of the Gunmen, ready to assume his role.

The three stared at their creation. The man that would take this to the next level.

“He’s a King Kong reincarnation of Mel Cooley.” Langly thought aloud, amazed.

Skinner took off his glasses and glared at Langly. “Don’t ever refer to me by that name again.”

Langly sat back, nodding adamantly. Skinner shifted his warning glare on the man as he slowly turned back to the mirror to consider his suit again while the tailor brushed at the fabric and gave his work a final check.

Leaning close to Byers, Langly whispered, “He’s got a lot of rules.”

Byers nodded, confused, “King Kong or Mel Cooley?” he wondered.

Langly shrugged, grimacing.

** X **

... Stay tuned...

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