The aliens were forced to abandon the planet during the last ice age as their viral form is deactivated by extreme cold. Upon their departure, they left behind underground deposits of the black oil virus, in preparation for their return. The virus apparently contains the aliens' genetic blueprints, awaiting reconstitution when the master species returns to Earth. While away from Earth, the Colonists evidently sought out life throughout the universe in an effort to subdue other species and take over the universe. Purportedly, the Colonists planned on returning to Earth in the year 2012, as The Smoking Man (William B. Davis) later remarks to Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) that the ancient Mayans were so terrified that they stopped their calendar on the exact date of colonization: December 22, 2012. The Colonists eventually returned to Earth in 1947 when one of their ships crashed in New Mexico due to exposure to magnetite in the surrounding rocks. Shortly after this event, a select few power brokers, mainly in the United States and the Soviet Union (though some also came from other nations), first learned of the Colonist plot to retake the planet. These men eventually formed the Syndicate; they included the Well-Manicured Man (John Neville), The Smoking Man, and Bill Mulder (Peter Donat), among others.