Atlas

By Rocket

Episode 9.20

Part Two

 

Willis flipped a switch and Carmichael’s voice filled the lab. “-ing to be too long before we see each other again, dear brother.” There was a rustling of cloth.

“No, I hadn’t forgotten.” The second voice, identical to the first, sounded impatient. “You need to be going brother, or you’ll miss your flight.”

“Hardly.” The first voice sounded amused. “It’s my plane…”

“Of course. I’d forgotten you’d gone into aviation this year.” Footsteps echoed on a hard floor and a door opened. “Until Kansas City, brother.” There was another rustle and one set of footsteps faded away.

“I hate Missouri.” The second Carmichael twin sighed. “And I’ve always hated the brinksmanship in which we’ve both become involved.” The door closed and the remaining set of footsteps faded away too.

“OK.” Willis rubbed his hands together. “The bug stayed here in Tristan Carmichael’s house, so it belongs to Tristan and not Troy.”

“Because Troy is now heading for LAX ready to go back to New York.” MacGyver nodded. “So all the hinky stuff you’ve been hearing about these last few weeks is down to Tristan.”

“Looks that way.” Willis grinned. “Tristan’s our guy! Thank you, modern technology!” He blew a kiss to the recording equipment.

“Seeley will be pleased.” MacGyver grinned back. “He’s been saying all along that Tristan was the one behind Atlas.”


* * * *

The next morning MacGyver arrived to find Seeley waiting for him. “Anything exciting?”

MacGyver handed Seeley a cup of coffee and sat on the edge of his desk. “Very.”

Seeley blew on the coffee and took a sip. Pulling the night shift and listening in on Carmichael’s bug had left him looking tired, a shadow of stubble on his chin. “Not long after you left, before Tristan left for New York, he had a very interesting phone call with his pet General. The one from the stadium, yes?”

“Right!” MacGyver sat up straight.

“Superbug plane will be in Kansas City on Sunday.” Seeley rubbed his eyes, stifling a yawn.

“This Sunday?” MacGyver ran a hand through his hair. “That doesn’t give us much time…”

“No.” Seeley took a swig of coffee. “So we’d better get busy working out a plan to shut it down before it goes anywhere after that!”


* * * *

“Just one loose end now.” Nikki stood in front of the noticeboard. “Where does Sundance’s sleazy boss fit in?”

“Still working on it.” MacGyver leaned back in his chair, flexing his foot to work the stiffness out of his ankle. “Sundance was involved in kidnapping homeless people, but without knowing who his boss was, we don’t know why.”

“Huh.” Nikki walked around her desk and tapped at her computer keyboard. “Well, if I was going to kidnap a bunch of homeless people, I’d want to have a ready market for them.” She turned the monitor around to face MacGyver. “Wouldn’t you?”

“Where did you find this?” MacGyver leaned forwards to read the screen.

“Doc.” Nikki shrugged. “We’ve stayed in touch since he helped out with finding Matthew at Christmas, and he collects any news he can find concerning homeless people. Including this little gem.” She waved a hand at the screen.

“Right.” MacGyver frowned, reading the news article Nikki had pulled up on the screen. Border patrols had intercepted a van travelling south into Mexico. The patrolmen had been alerted by shouting coming from inside the van, otherwise they wouldn’t have investigated. When they opened up the back, they’d found a dozen homeless people who’d been kidnapped. The group claimed they had been told they were being taken to a medical facility where they would be used as unwilling test subjects in disease and drug trials, but the local police were never able to confirm this. “Well, that links them, at least in theory -” MacGyver held up a hand as Nikki drew breath to speak. “- to Sundance at one end and Wellforce and Atlas at the other, but we’ll have a hard job proving it. Certainly not by Sunday, anyway.”

“I guess.” Nikki shook her head. “The van matches the one Sundance had too…”

“I know.” MacGyver shrugged. “I think we have enough for Pete to get the police involved even without this, but thank you for finding it.”

“No problem.” Nikki returned to her desk, turning the monitor back around. “Do you have a plan for Atlas yet?”

“Almost.” MacGyver glanced at his watch. “Just waiting for the final piece of it to get here, so that we can put it together.”

“Final piece?” Nikki stopped typing and looked up.

“Jack Dalton.” MacGyver flinched, waiting for the reaction. Nikki had met Jack before.

“Your plan to stop Atlas spreading superbugs all over the US of A hangs on California’s most unreliable man? Really?” Nikki shook her head in disbelief.

“Yeah.” MacGyver held up both hands. “Trust me, I know how it sounds!”


* * * *

“So, let’s check that we all understand what we’re doing.” Pete folded his hands in front of him, looking round at the blurred figures filling his office. “Mac?”

“Sure, Pete.” MacGyver glanced at Jack, who’d been told to stay quiet and, for once, had done so. “Me and Jack go to the airfield and get onto the plane. We disable the plane so it can’t take off and defuse the superbug apparatus so it can’t disperse. Then we get clear and wait for the authorities.”

“Good.” Pete nodded. “Jack, I want you and Seeley to work out what kind of plane they’re going to use. You’re the aviation experts here.”

“Yessir!” Jack saluted, making Seeley duck as Jack’s hand flashed past his ear. He gave Jack a sour look, which Jack ignored.

“Seeley?” Pete turned.

“I continue working with Willis, trading shifts in listening to Tristan Carmichael’s bug to find out as much as I can about the plane, the superbugs and the timetable.” He frowned at Jack, who grinned back at him. “In between, I work with Mr. Dalton here on identifying suitable aircraft capable of carrying the payload and using that particular airfield.”

“Yes.” Pete nodded again. “Willis?”

“Uh, surveillance, like Seeley said.” Willis cleared his throat. “I also maintain comms with everyone and make sure everything happens at the right time.” His hands shook as he folded his papers.

“Relax, you’ll do fine.” Pete heard the rustling papers and the tremor in Willis’s voice. “Nikki?”

“Wheelman.” Nikki grinned. “So to speak. I tail Carmichael from L.A. to Kansas City, just in case he makes any unexpected detours, stick with him while he’s there and then I blend into the scenery afterwards when the police turn up to take him in.”

“Great.” Pete smiled. “We sound like Mission Impossible, don’t we?” Then his smile faded. “Let’s hope we have just that much success.”


* * * *

The week passed slowly.

Pete spent most of it talking to the police, to Los Angeles detective teams, to anyone who would listen. He grew increasingly frustrated with the pace at which the authorities worked, having hoped they would leap into action immediately. LAPD promised to keep him informed. But updates were sporadic and, as Sunday grew closer, he grew more and more apprehensive.

By Tuesday, Jack had irritated Seeley so much that they were working in separate rooms. Jack’s initial awe at being part of such an important Phoenix project wore off quickly, and his usual exuberant personality resurfaced. Seeley found working alongside such an irrepressible and chaotic person intolerable and had split their tasks, shutting himself in a spare office and leaving Jack to spread his notes and blueprints across every flat surface in the main office.

MacGyver spent the week studying maps, aerial photographs and the schematics for every crop sprayer, sprinkler system and spray-bomb he could find. One of his DXS contacts found him some truly terrifying information about bioweapons that had been ‘retrieved’ from some unsavoury overseas locations. It gave him sleepless nights and haunted his days with the awful consequences of failing to bring Atlas down.

Nikki traded shifts with Willis and Seeley, listening in on the bug in Tristan Carmichael’s pocket. Carmichael spent a quiet week, after the revelations of the week before and, if he carried out any further preparations for launching Atlas, he did it out of earshot of the bug. Willis, who was most familiar with Carmichael, thought he seemed more subdued, less vitriolic in his dealings with employees and associates than usual. Nikki didn’t think he seemed much different, and was sure that any change was due to anticipation of the events to come.


* * * *

On Saturday evening, MacGyver, Seeley, Jack and Willis left for Kansas City. Nikki watched their plane take off and walked back to the parking lot, feeling nervous and very exposed.


* * * *

Pulling up near Carmichael’s mansion, she checked her pocket one last time for her plane ticket to Kansas City. She setup her mobile listening equipment and sat back. The signal was clear, and she heard Tristan talking to his secretary and preparing for the trip. He sounded calmer than she had anticipated, as if he was just going to a regular meet-up with his brother and not about to unleash disease and despair on an unsuspecting public. Nikki shifted in her seat, and settled in for a long wait.


* * * *

“Movement.” Three hours later, Nikki made a call to Willis and started her car. She pulled out at a discreet distance behind Carmichael’s limousine and followed him through the Los Angeles traffic.


* * * *

“This should be fun, right?” Jack rubbed his hands together, watching an aeroplane take off as MacGyver steered the Jeep into the airport parking lot.

“You and I define ‘fun’ very differently, Jack.” MacGyver shook his head and Jack dragged his gaze away from the aeroplane.

“Sure, bioweapon, right.” Jack nodded, trying to keep his excitement under control. Aeroplanes and flying filled him with a childlike joy that he found almost impossible to contain even in a situation this grave. He followed MacGyver out of the Jeep and across the airport in silence. Looking left and right, MacGyver ducked through a service door, pulling Jack in after him. Walking down an unpainted corridor, MacGyver pulled two waterproof jackets off their hooks and handed one to Jack. “When we go out, we head straight for Aviation Services at the far side of the airfield.” MacGyver waited for Jack to nod. “We do not stop to admire the aircraft. We do not talk to the ground crew. We do not give anyone ‘orders’.” MacGyver made quote marks in the air. “This is serious, Jack. I need you to work this my way.” He watched Jack nod again and swallow hard.

“Sure, Mac. This is your party.” Jack looked around and took a deep breath. “Your world is a pretty scary place, Kemosabe!”

“You don’t know the half of it.” MacGyver smiled, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Come on.”


* * * *

“And… I see them.” Seeley murmured into his mic, concealed up his jacket sleeve. He took a sip of his drink and glanced around the New Majestic Steakhouse, his outward expression bored.

“There they are.” Nikki’s voice in his ear was quiet. “I still don’t get how they do the identical clothes thing. It’s not like they call each other and compare notes!”

Seeley hid his smile behind another sip of his drink. “Some weird, psychic twin thing. My daughter tells me about them – she thinks supermarket tabloids are the last word in cutting-edge journalism! Good evening.” He turned on his bar stool as Nikki sat down next to him.

“Psychic or psycho?” Nikki signalled the bartender, allowing Seeley to kiss her on the cheek and smiling at him.

“Bit of both.” Seeley helped himself to peanuts and let his gaze wander across the room, to where the Carmichael twins were eating steaks.

“So here we all are.” Nikki stirred her cocktail and ate the olive. “Mac and Jack are at the airfield, Willis is on standby and, last I heard, Pete was finally getting somewhere with the police. All we need is Carmichael to say the right words and we’ve got him.”

“Mm.” Seeley watched the Carmichaels over Nikki’s shoulder. “Go on, you scumbag.” His voice was icy. “Go on and say the words…”


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