Crash & Burn

By MacsJeep

Episode 8.15: Part One



MacGyver slid through the door to his home, dropped down his backpack and slumped into the nearest chair. Just lately it didn’t seem like he’d had much downtime, and then there had been the incident at Christmas to contend with, and that alone had left him exhausted both physically and mentally.

He exhaled, blinked and pulled himself wearily up to get a drink of water. As he reached out for a glass, he spotted a piece of notepaper on the nearby table.

But I locked the door…

Mac put the glass back down and snatched up the message. The writing was a crude scrawl, as if it had been hastily written, but the meaning was clear enough.

Meet me at Reno’s Place, tonight at eight. Sam gets it if you don’t…

Reno’s Place was a seedy downtown biker bar – the type of establishment MacGyver usually avoided, and he certainly didn’t know anyone who worked there. That left a more sinister implication to the note.

But then, he’d only been able to think of one name since he’d picked it up off the table – Roger Mariotte.

Mariotte hated Sam, and he didn’t think much of MacGyver. Was this one of his mind games?

Mac’s stomach lurched just thinking about it and what might be happening to his son while his mind was turning it all over. He checked his watch. It was seven-thirty already, and the bar was at least a half hour away.

He tugged the Jeep’s keys from his jacket pocket and raced from the door, not even realizing if he’d looked just that little bit closer, that the handwriting on the note was kind of familiar.

* * * *


Reno’s Place
Downtown L.A.
8.35p.m.

The bar didn’t disappoint. It was dark, grimy and full of men with bald heads, large beards, and huge muscles. If it came to a fist fight with one of them, Mac was definitely going to have to use brains over brawn.

He inched his way carefully up to the counter, letting his eyes play around the room for signs of Mariotte or anyone else that might be familiar.

The overly-tattooed bar tender nodded to him as he approached. “What can I get you?” The man scrutinized MacGyver like he was an insect about to get squashed.

Mac slid a twenty across under the man’s nose. “A little information?”

The tender smirked and began rubbing at a glass absently with a towel. “You a cop? ‘Cause you oughta know the folks in this establishment don’t take too kindly to questions.”

MacGyver shook his head. “Nope, not a cop,” he answered honestly. “I just got a message to meet someone here at eight-thirty?”

The man’s eyes suddenly lit up knowingly and he nodded. “Ah, then you’d be wanting the back room…” He pointed with a wiry finger to a curtain behind the bar, just back of where he was standing.

Mac licked his lips. This could so easily be a trap, and yet he’d dismissed the idea of the police, or any Phoenix back up in case it put Sam’s life at risk.

And just where was Sam anyway?

He moved to a section of the bar counter that lifted open and slipped behind it, pausing at the grime-ridden curtain to suck down a breath. A bullet could be waiting for him, or any other manner of deadly weapon, and he had no choice but to take whatever was coming.

MacGyver exhaled and stepped forwards, pushing the curtain out of the way to find himself in a small, and very glum room with a table at its center. There was a beer and an orange juice sitting on it, waiting.

“Compadre, what took you so long?! I thought I was gonna have to leave without you!”

Mac scrunched his fists together, resisting the urge to punch Jack Dalton square on the nose. His heart was racing, his mind was spinning, and for what? Another one of Dalton’s hair-brained schemes, no doubt.

Jack seemed to sense his friend’s anger and pushed back on his chair, holding up a hand in submission, while clutching a huge cigar like a lottery winner with the other. “Mac, me boy, what’d I say?” He seemed genuinely surprised he’d done anything, as ever.

“Dang it, Jack, what were you thinking leaving notes like that?” MacGyver moved closer to the table, but despite his reddening cheeks, his anger was already abating. He never could stay mad at Dalton for more than a few minutes. “You almost scared me half to death!” He pulled out a chair, ran a hand through his hair and then sat down. “And just what did you mean by “Sam gets it”, if I didn’t come here?”

Jack grinned, took a puff on his cigar and let out a huge plume of smoke that earned him a scowl. “Because, Mac, my good buddy, Sam gets the adventure of a lifetime if you turn me down…”

MacGyver rolled his eyes, the urge to hit Jack returning with every word the pilot offered. “Aww c’mon, not another one of your crazy schemes? I am so not repairing any planes, minding any of your offspring, or giving you any of my money to invest in anything illegal…Oh, and forget anything to do with the CIA and rogue agents while you’re at it!”

“Hey, at least you know I’m not hypnotized to kill anyone this time. At least I don’t think I am…” Jack prodded the front of his flying jacket for good measure. “Anyway, I’m wounded, Mac, genuinely wounded that you would think its any kind of scheme or trick!” Jack’s eye twitched just a tiny bit, and MacGyver had to smile.

“Your eye’s telling me otherwise,” Mac teased. “So out of curiosity, just what is this little adventure? ‘Cause you’re so not involving Sam.”

“It’s simple. I have a job delivering a very nice airplane to Africa, and I wanted my good buddy along for the ride.” Jack took a sip of his drink and waited patiently.

“Are you kidding me? I’m never getting on a plane with you again – not ever!” Mac threw his hands in the air in a gesture of defeat. “And besides, don’tcha think I had enough with the whole Boeing incident a couple of Christmases back?”

Jack smiled again and leaned forward, patting MacGyver on the shoulder as if it might soothe his old friend. “I can see why you might doubt me, I really can, but this time it’s all above board, legal, safe, and what’s more, the bird in question is a new million dollar Learjet, so you have nothing to worry about!”

MacGyver looked away, unconvinced and mumbled. “With you, I always worry. Call it a reflex action after years of practice…”

“You know, I could kind of turn on the thumb screws?” Jack batted his eyelashes pleadingly. “That Boeing incident with you and Sam you just mentioned? Just who was it found you a nice cozy airstrip to land on when Papa Thornton came up empty handed?”

Mac scowled, and reluctantly whispered, “You did.”

Jack put a hand to his ear, feigning deafness. “What was that, Mac, I can’t hear you?”

“YOU DID!”

“Right, so I figure you owe me this trip.” Jack took another puff on the cigar. “Don’t worry; it’s a regular milk run. We just drop off the Learjet with some rich African dude, collect our fee and spend the rest of the weekend being pampered at the guy’s extensive estate.”

MacGyver was still frowning. “So why do you need me?” There was suspicion in his voice.

“Can’t a man want a little company on a long haul flight? Can’t he ask his bestest buddy who he always thinks of, trusts and helps out?” Jack’s eye twitched again and he rubbed at it, possibly attempting to hide the tick.

It didn’t work.

Jack…

“If you don’t come, I’m gonna ask Sam, I swear…”

MacGyver considered a right hook, or maybe even an uppercut to the jaw, but instead sighed and capitulated. “No,” he bemoaned. “I really don’t want Sam involved. I’ll go, but that plane better be just how you described it, or I swear…”

Jack grinned. “Trust me, Kemo Sabe, it’s all that and more!”

* * * *

LAX Terminal 3
Private Gate 24

MacGyver stared at the Learjet so hard his eyes actually hurt – but he simply couldn’t shift his gaze off the plane. It was new, it was big, and it was very expensive. Basically, the aircraft was everything Jack Dalton had described.

Could Jack have turned a new leaf and actually be doing an honest days work for a genuine businessman?

Mac shook himself. No, that really would be asking too much. Something was going on, and he just hadn’t figured it out yet.

The Learjet’s door floated open revealing steps and Jack in his usual cap. He saluted. “Your transport awaits, dear sir!”

MacGyver grabbed his backpack and hopped up the steps two at a time, pausing at the top to look around inside the cabin. There were thick leather seats, a bar, built in media center, and much more. He ignored the lush aft section and climbed upfront, settling into the co-pilot’s seat to check out the instruments.

Again, everything was perfect – no broken dials or missing radios.

I must be dreaming. Jack Dalton doesn’t fly something that isn’t on a wing and a prayer.

“We do have a flight plan?” Mac asked suspiciously.

Jack stuffed a hand inside his flying jacket, pulled out a crumpled piece of paper with coffee stains and stuck it under his friend’s nose. “All above board, me boy!” He rummaged under his seat and came out with a large roll. He tapped it over MacGyver’s head playfully. “And just for you, I even have charts!”

Without waiting for a reply, he tugged off his cap, and pulled on the leather flight helmet he usually wore on his motorcycle. Goggles came next, to complete the effect. “Chocks away, and all that!” He chuckled as he began his pre-flight checks.

MacGyver was speechless, at least for a few seconds as he watched Dalton asses the instruments. Once he was convinced he wasn’t dreaming, he moved to close the hatch and then settled down in the back.

There really was no point sitting up front, because Jack had already connected the earphones in his helmet to his usual tape deck. The sound of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper filtered through the cabin, he had it turned up so loud.

Why that song, out of the hundreds he could listen to..?

Jack began to sing along as he hit the throttles for take off, and it was more than Mac could stand. He slammed the door between the flight deck and rear cabin and put his fingers in his ears.

MacGyver had no idea how long he’d stayed that way, but a few hours later he awoke with his hands still clamped either side his head. Thankfully, the horrendous racket from Jack’s mouth had stopped, and he was now whistling.

Mac rubbed at his eyes and glanced out of one of the port shaped windows to see it was dark. How far had they traveled? He’d been pretty beat when he’d arrived back at his place, and then Dalton had run him across downtown L.A. and beyond with his note. Could he really have slept his way halfway across the world?

He yawned and poured some water from a glass decanter set into the wall, but as he tried to put the drink to his lips, he realized the Learjet was suddenly yawing wildly to the right.

MacGyver set the drink down, rolled his eyes and headed for the front. “Jack Dalton you so better not be asleep at the wheel or I’m gonna kick your b…” He paused as he saw Jack stabbing at a button manically on the cluster in front of him.

Jack’s expression said the button wasn’t exactly playing ball. “Err…Mac, I think I might need just a little, tiny, teeny weenie bit of your expertise…” He grimaced. “As in, I think we have a small fire…” He glanced over his shoulder, out the window to the engine.

Mac’s eyes widened and he stretched over Dalton to the cockpit glass, just so he could see the rear of the plane. Sure enough, the super expensive, brand new Pratt and Whitney turbofan engine was engulfed in flames.

“Small! SMALL! Jack we have a fireball for an engine!”

Jack shrugged. “Well I think you’re maybe being a tad over-dramatic, but if you insist on putting it that way…”

MacGyver resisted the urge to go find a parachute, and instead focused on the Learjet controls. “What about fire suppression? This thing is supposed to be so state of the art, it has to have extinguishers?”

Dalton pointed to the button he’d been feverishly pushing. “It does! Well actually, no…it has a button for them, but as you can see it doesn’t really work.”

“You said it was brand new. You said it was perfect. You said nothing could go wrong!” MacGyver threw both hands in the air, then tugged out his pocket knife and began to dismantle the panel that held the fire systems. “Why Jack? Why did I believe you…?”

Jack’s expression said he was trying to think of a logical answer, but his twitching eye suggested he wasn’t exactly having honest thoughts, as ever. He rubbed at the offending orb as if it would stop the tick. “Err, because for once I actually believed what I was saying?”

MacGyver couldn’t argue. They’d both thought this trip was going to be the one, the only none-dramatic journey they’d ever made together. Now, Mac was having pretty bad flashbacks to United Airlines Flight 4177, a nightmare he’d hoped never to have to relive.

At least Sam isn’t with me this time!

The thought spurred him on, and after a few more precious seconds, MacGyver had the small metallic panel he was working on free. He pulled it away from the main console and couldn’t help but simply stare at it agog.

There were no wires, no nothing attached to the rear of the button Jack had been pressing. It was impossible. An aircraft like this would have stringent safety checks during production, and no way would an error so glaring get through quality control.

“Say, Mac, I’m no expert, but isn’t that supposed to have like, something connected to it?” Jack actually looked a smidgen worried.

“Ya think?” MacGyver dropped the panel onto his lap and stuck his hand in the hole it had come from. Nothing had come detached or was hanging loose. “Now might be a good time to start diving the plane. It might help with the fire.”

Jack didn’t appear to have a sassy retort. At least, if he did he kept it to himself, and quickly slid the yoke in his hands forwards. The plane’s nose dipped as its angle of decent increased dramatically, and MacGyver had to hold on as he stretched forwards to peer inside the panel.

He couldn’t be sure, but it looked like a harness should link between the button and a small circuit board using two connectors each end.

So where the heck is the harness?

There was no time, however, to worry about missing components. MacGyver pulled his head from the console and looked frantically around for something to bridge the connection.

Without asking permission, he tore off Jack’s flying helmet.

“Hey, watch the hair!” Jack bemoaned. “If I’m gonna die I at least wanna look good!”

MacGyver ignored him and began cutting the headphone wires free from the hat and player. When he had the right length, he used his penknife to strip back the ends and twist them onto the connector on the board. It was hard to get them to stay put, and there was no way it was going to work on the rear of the button. He was going to have to physically hold the two wires onto that connector.

Mac closed his eyes, pushed the wires and prayed. “Jack, will ya press the button again?”

Dalton took one hand from the yoke he was now struggling to hold and pressed hard. The light on the panel section turned from red to green and a buzzer began to sound from the depths of the cockpit.

“Mac, me boy! It’s working!”

MacGyver dared to open his eyes and crane his neck to look to the rear of the aircraft. Foam was pumping from some hidden system all over the engine, and as he watched, the licking flames began to die as they were starved of oxygen.

A few seconds later, the fire was gone.

“Maybe we could stop diving now?” Mac suggested as he spotted just how fast they were falling and how badly the wings seemed to be shaking. “I really don’t want to see Africa that up close and personal.”

Jack’s eye began to twitch, and MacGyver’s stomach instantly lurched.

“Well, it would kinda help if I had some fuel?” Jack tapped a finger on the jet’s twin gauges. The two red warning lights were now flashing along with the fire suppression one.

“You did fuel this thing up?”

Jack looked hurt. “Of course I did! I watched the crew fill this baby full to the brim! I even got them to clean the windshield and check the tires.” He wiggled his eyebrows mischievously, despite their situation. “Seriously, Mac, I have a receipt and everything.” Dalton pulled a payment slip from his pocket.

“So where’d it go?” MacGyver wasn’t incredulous anymore, he was suspicious. This wasn’t just a regular Jack Dalton episode, this was something different. He believed his friend had fuelled the jet, and no way was the engine fire a coincidence.

If they lived through the whole thing, then there would be a lot of questions to ask. Right now, though, surviving was the priority.

Ex-ACT-ly!?” Jack drawled as if to ask the same question MacGyver had. “Maybe it leaked out somehow?” He proposed after a seconds thought. “Although that usually entails someone shooting us full of holes first, like that time we rescued Mike…”

Mac shook his head. Another quality issue on a brand new plane just wasn’t feasible. “We’ll worry about that once we land,” he suggested, harnessing himself into the co-pilot’s seat.

“Or crash and burn,” Dalton said woefully. “Well maybe not burn, seeing as the fuel is gone…but crash is definitely sounding like the only option in town…”

MacGyver refused to be defeated so easily. He took up the yoke in front of him and began to pull hard back on it, attempting with Jack’s help to straighten up the nose of the Learjet.

The instruments suggested it was working – to a degree, at least, but simply not fast enough.

The altimeter counted down rapidly, but in the depths of night, neither Mac nor Jack could see the earth below closing on them. Perhaps that was a good thing.

“At least there’s nothing much to hit out here,” Jack offered helpfully. “’Cept for maybe a few elephants, and maybe Tigger, or how about Tarzan..?”

Mac grimaced and tugged harder on the controls until his knuckles looked like they would pop. “I don’t think the elephants, or Tarzan would find that very comforting!”

The Learjet agreed, and finally decided to lift its nose barely seconds before its belly slammed into African brush land. There had been no time, and no point in lowering the undercarriage, as it would have been torn off on the uneven ground anyway.

The plane bounced and groaned as its sheer speed propelled it through drought-hit trees, flattening an already barren landscape further. Metal screamed as the airframe buckled and the tail section came adrift settling in a dry river bed while the rest of the Learjet continued to slide.

MacGyver felt the straps of his harness digging into his flesh as the terror ride carried them further, but was thankful he’d put it on; given the alternative would have been a swift trip through cockpit screen.

The danger wasn’t over yet though.

Ahead, even in the encompassing blackness of night, he could see a huge dark shadow in their path, and there was no way to stop the jet’s momentum.

Whatever it was, they were going to slam into it, hard.

“Jack, we’re gonna hit something!” Reflexively, Mac threw his arms in front of his face, and waited for the impact, hoping that the nose cone would take the brunt of the collision.

When Jack didn’t answer, MacGyver had one split second left to glance over and see why.

While MacGyver had strapped himself in earlier, Dalton had not. And right now, Jack was still fumbling with the centre buckle on his harness.

As the Learjet struck the immovable object outside, Jack just had enough to time to mouth. “Oops…”

And then their world went darker than the African bush that had swallowed them up.

 

Continue...

 Original content is 2015 MacGyver.tv.