8.15: Part One
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
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
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.
me at Reno’s Place, tonight at eight. Sam gets it
if you don’t…
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.
Sam, and he didn’t think much of MacGyver. Was this
one of his mind games?
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.
* * *
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.
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.”
his head. “Nope, not a cop,” he answered honestly.
“I just got a message to meet someone here at eight-thirty?”
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.
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.
what took you so long?! I thought I was gonna have to
leave without you!”
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.
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?”
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
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!”
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.
telling me otherwise,” Mac teased. “So out
of curiosity, just what is this little adventure? ‘Cause
you’re so not involving Sam.”
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.
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!”
away, unconvinced and mumbled. “With you, I always
worry. Call it a reflex action after years of practice…”
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?”
and reluctantly whispered, “You did.”
Jack put a hand
to his ear, feigning deafness. “What was that, Mac,
I can’t hear you?”
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
still frowning. “So why do you need me?” There
was suspicion in his voice.
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.
don’t come, I’m gonna ask Sam, I swear…”
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…”
“Trust me, Kemo Sabe, it’s all that and more!”
* * *
Private Gate 24
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
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.
door floated open revealing steps and Jack in his usual
cap. He saluted. “Your transport awaits, dear sir!”
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.
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.
have a flight plan?” Mac asked suspiciously.
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!”
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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! Jack we have a fireball for an engine!”
“Well I think you’re maybe being a tad over-dramatic,
but if you insist on putting it that way…”
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?”
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.”
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…?”
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?”
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.
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
I’m no expert, but isn’t that supposed to
have like, something connected to it?” Jack actually
looked a smidgen worried.
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.”
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.
be sure, but it looked like a harness should link between
the button and a small circuit board using two connectors
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.
permission, he tore off Jack’s flying helmet.
the hair!” Jack bemoaned. “If I’m gonna
die I at least wanna look good!”
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
boy! It’s working!”
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.
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.”
eye began to twitch, and MacGyver’s stomach instantly
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
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.
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
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.
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…”
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.
suggested it was working – to a degree, at least,
but simply not fast enough.
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.
there’s nothing much to hit out here,” Jack
offered helpfully. “’Cept for maybe a few
elephants, and maybe Tigger, or how about Tarzan..?”
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.
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.
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.
had strapped himself in earlier, Dalton had not. And right
now, Jack was still fumbling with the centre buckle on
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