Atlas

By Rocket

Episode 9.20

Part Three

 

“So, dear brother, have you been gainfully employed this year?” One Carmichael twin swirled red wine around in his glass and took an appreciative sniff.

“Of course.” The second twin took a sip of his own wine. “Have you?”

“Of course.” The first twin smiled and put down his glass. “I do so enjoy our little get-togethers each year. Father would be so proud of what we’ve each achieved.” “He would.” The second twin cut a bite of steak and chewed it before continuing. “He always had high hopes of the pair of us.” He speared a potato with his fork. “Although I’ve always thought he’d have been happier to see us working together instead of competing all the time.”

“I disagree, brother.” The first twin’s grin was mischievous. “Where would be the fun in that?”


* * * *

“So, which is which?” Nikki glanced from one twin to the other.

“The bug came in with the twin on the left so he’s Tristan and the goody-two-shoes on the right is Troy.” Seeley drained his glass and ordered another. He watched Nikki frown. “Relax, it’s only lime and soda. No-one’s getting drunk tonight.” He looked out of the window, seeing the sun set red and gold behind the buildings.


* * * *

MacGyver squinted into the sunset, shading his eyes with his hand. The row of aeroplanes parked outside aviation services looked innocuous enough. He and Jack had been hiding behind a low building and watching the planes coming in and going out. Every one had been moved, repaired or attended to except for one at the far end of the building, which nobody had approached. Beside him, Jack shifted position and sighed. “How much longer do you reckon?” Jack looked from MacGyver to the lone plane and back again.

“As long as it takes, Jack.” Long experience of stakeouts with DXS kept MacGyver from speculating. Speculating only made the wait seem longer.

“It’s just that we’ve been hunkered down here for a really long time, and I gotta tell you compadre – I got pins and needles in places I didn’t think you could get them!” Jack shifted uncomfortably.

“So, go for a walk.” MacGyver turned to look at him, lowering his binoculars. “It’s about time one of us had another scout around anyway. Just don’t talk to anyone, walk fast like you have somewhere to be, and don’t go snooping into anywhere ground crew aren’t meant to be.” MacGyver turned back to the plane and raised the binoculars again.

“Leave that part to me, OK?”

“OK, Mac.” Jack stared at his friend’s back, thinking that he really didn’t know this new, serious MacGyver at all.


* * * *

“So that’s about everything I’ve done this year.” The second twin swallowed his last bite of steak and pushed his plate away. “Turned a tidy profit too. No wolf at the door for me this Winter.” He picked up his wine, admiring the rich colour before drinking. “And your tally, brother?”

“I’m still waiting for one bird to arrive at its nest.” The first twin smiled, as though at a private joke. “So my tally isn’t quite complete.” He laid down his fork. “Though even if I haven’t done as well as you this year, I guarantee I’ll outstrip you next year.” He finished his wine and poured more.


* * * *

“Is he sweating?” Nikki looked at the Carmichaels’ reflections in the mirror behind the bar.

“Probably.” Seeley loosened his own collar. “It’s plenty warm in here. Which one?”

“Tristan. No, Troy.” Nikki frowned at the reflection, confused by the reversed image.

“Tristan looks cool enough.” Seeley shook his head. “His veins must run ice water instead of blood. He knows what he’s about to do and he sits there eating steak and drinking wine as though nothing’s changed. Unreal.”

“Keep it down.” Nikki touched the back of Seeley’s hand. “We wait and we keep listening until we’ve got the goods, OK?”

“Right.” Seeley moved his hand out of reach. “Listen and wait.”


* * * *

“Anything?” Jack sidled back around the corner of the building and crouched down next to MacGyver.

“There’s a bunch of guys loading drums onto a trolley back there – all with hazard stickers on them. Think they’re our guys?”

“You tell me.” MacGyver passed Jack the binoculars and moved to let him through.

“Yes!” Jack leaned forwards and MacGyver grabbed his jacket, pulling him back into the shadows. “It’s them!” He watched the ground crew loading the barrels onto the lone aircraft for a moment longer before handing the binoculars back to MacGyver.

Night was falling, the sky darkening quickly. The temperature was dropping and the stars appearing above them promised a cold, clear night.

“Who do you think the target is?” Despite the danger, Jack found himself excited, keen to carry out his part of the mission.

“We still don’t know.” MacGyver squinted through the binoculars in the fading light. “Come on, we have to get on there.” Staying low and dodging from shadow to shadow between the airfield lights, MacGyver and Jack made their way to the plane.

Aviation services was darker than the rest of the airport, the lit bays where the planes were worked on all at the other end of the building. Reaching the last pool of shadow before the lone plane, MacGyver took hold of Jack’s jacket again and turned him round. “We walk out to the plane like we’re meant to be there, right?” He watched Jack nod. “If we’re questioned, what do we say?”

“We’re checking coolant levels and hydraulic fluid before take-off.” Jack nodded.

“What do we not do?” MacGyver kept hold of Jack’s coat.

“We don’t make anything else up. We don’t try and make small talk with anyone on the plane because they’re either bad guys or ground crew, and they’re not going to be pleased to see us!”

“Correct.” MacGyver let go. “Any problems, let me handle it. You’re an ace pilot, but this part of the plan is my part, ok?

“You got it.” Once again Jack was unnerved by how serious MacGyver had become. “We got this, compadre. You know that, right?”

“I hope so, Jack.” MacGyver looked across the tarmac to the waiting plane. “I hope so.” He zipped up his stolen ground crew jacket and set off towards the plane.

* * * *

“So, do I ask anything about this mystery bird of yours?” The second Carmichael twin looked over the top of the dessert menu at his brother.

“Oh, you’ll see it soon enough.” The first twin glanced through the restaurant window at the night sky beyond. “No, dear brother, this time next year not only will I win our little competition, but you will be incapable of competing.” He lifted his glass and toasted his brother, who leaned back in his chair.

“Really.” The second twin wiped his mouth with his napkin and signalled to the waiter.

“Any guesses?” Nikki murmured, glancing across at the Carmichaels and then back to Seeley. “Your goody-two-shoes looks about ready to lose it.”

“Nuh-uh.” Seeley finished typing a text message and flipped his phone shut. “Pete’s got the local police involved now, so all we need is Tristan to admit what he’s up to and brag about where the plane is going. Willis has the police patched into the feed from the bug so, as soon as he says it, they’re good to go.”

“Great.” Nikki turned back to the Carmichaels, now eating dessert and arguing in whispers. “Come on Tristan, make with the bragging…”


* * * *

They were almost at the plane when they heard the shout. MacGyver and Jack turned, seeing a man wearing a ground crew jacket walking towards them. “This one’s done.” The man shook his head, “No need for any more checks.”

“Uh, yeah.” MacGyver held up the empty container he’d taken from the trash can outside aviation services. “It didn’t get the coolant levels checked.” He smiled and turned away, walking towards the plane.

“Everything’s been done.” Now the man sounded angry. In three long strides he’d caught up, grabbing hold of Jack’s sleeve. MacGyver stopped and looked down, seeing in the dim light that the man wore combat boots instead of the standard issue work boots worn by the rest of the ground crewmen he’d seen. He looked up again, catching Jack’s eye and nodding. Simultaneously, they both drew back a fist and punched the fake ground crewman in the face. The man’s eyes rolled up and his knees buckled as he was knocked unconscious. MacGyver caught him, putting an arm around his waist and ‘walking’ him towards the plane. Beside him, Jack shook out his hand.

“Hurts, doesn’t it!” MacGyver spared him a brief glance and a grin before hoisting the unconscious man higher.

“It really does!” Jack blew on his knuckles. “What are we going to do with him? We can’t exactly take him with us!”

“He won’t be out long. We’ll leave him on the grass away from the runways.” MacGyver let the man slide to the ground. “He’ll be safe enough.”

“What if he wakes up and raises the alarm?” Jack looked down at the unconscious man.

“We’ll make sure he can’t go anywhere, at least for a while.” MacGyver reached into his pocket, producing a roll of duct tape.

“Ah!” Jack grinned. “Kemosabe, I like your plan!”


* * * *

“They’ve got to say something soon!” Nikki prodded at the olive in her latest, untasted cocktail.

“I surely hope so.” Seeley watched the Carmichael twins finish their desserts and order coffee.


* * * *

“I can’t get in!” Jack wrestled with the door handle. “The cockpit’s well and truly locked!”

“You must have broken into a plane before.” MacGyver glanced up from trying to pry the cover off the landing gear mechanism. “Don’t look at me like that, Jack – I’m pretty sure you know how it’s done!”

“Well, yeah.” Jack gave the handle one last tug and then turned to MacGyver. “But it’s not exactly a stealth operation, y’know? I start seriously breaking and entering, it’s going to make a lot of noise and attract a lot of attention!”

“OK.” MacGyver beckoned to him. “Let’s see what we can do from inside the cargo hold.”

They climbed into the cargo hold and Jack went to the front, examining the lock on the cockpit door. Moments later, someone outside slammed the cargo hold doors shut and they heard someone climb up into the cockpit. MacGyver ducked down behind the device bolted to the plane floor and Jack dived behind the drums of liquid. The engine fired and MacGyver and Jack exchanged horrified stares as the whine of the turbine grew louder.

“Mac, this was not in the plan!” Jack scuttled to the back of the hold, to where MacGyver was examining a squat, ugly device.

“I know.” MacGyver crouched down, looking under the device. “We’ll work it out, OK?” The plane rumbled down the runway and lifted up into the sky. Jack leaned over MacGyver’s shoulder, holding a flashlight as MacGyver examined the wiring on the bomb.

“Guess we’re on our way, amigo.” Jack glanced out of the window, but the sky was dark. Underneath the drone of the engine, he could hear the pilot talking on the radio but couldn’t make out the words. He leaned forwards over MacGyver’s shoulder. “How’s it looking?”

“Not good.” MacGyver reached into his pocket, pulling out his Swiss Army Knife. “Not good at all…”


* * * *

“Perhaps you’d care to elaborate, dear brother.” The second Carmichael placed his hands on the table, staring at his twin. “What exactly did you mean when you said that I’ll be incapable of competing next year?”

“Well.” The first twin sat back, a manic gleam in his eyes. “The reason you won’t be able to compete is that you and your shiny little empire will no longer exist!” He grinned. “I arranged to spend some time with some very clever men, who share my fascination with the possibilities offered by, shall we say, selective removal of the opposition.” He held up a hand to forestall his twin’s comment. “Very soon, your stupid, flashy, money-making city will cease to exist in its current form!” He watched his twin, nodding in satisfaction at his horrified expression. “The city itself will still be there, but no-one will want to do business there for an inconveniently long time!” he fished a pack of cigarettes out of the inside pocket of his overcoat and reached a hand into another pocket for his lighter.

“You’re insane!” The second twin found his voice, his face white.

“No, poor people are insane.” The first twin put the lighter down on top of the cigarettes. “I’m merely eccentric.” He met his brother’s shocked gaze calmly.

Seeley and Nikki exchanged a brief, horrified look. “Willis, are you getting this?!” Nikki’s voice was high and thin as she thumbed her mic.

“Got it.” Willis sounded equally shocked. “He’s seriously going to unleash a plague on a whole city just because he hates how successful his brother is?!”

“Looks like.” Seeley shook his head. “He’s going to drop superbugs on New York just to increase his market share!”

“I’ll relay this back to Pete.” Nikki could hear Willis tapping his computer keyboard in the background. “That way he can set in motion whatever DXS are going to do.”

“How do you go about protecting a whole city?” Nikki looked at Seeley, aghast. “Where do you even start?!”


* * * *

The plane droned on through the night, hills and scrub and desert gliding past the windows far below. A drop of sweat ran down MacGyver’s forehead and he blotted it on his sleeve before it could fall into the device before him.

“How’s it going?” Jack held the light a little higher and cast a nervous glance at the cockpit.

“I can’t…” MacGyver shook his head, running bundles of wires through his hands. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Even the fail-safes have fail-safes! Everything’s coded. If I mess with anything, it goes off!”

“You can do it, Mac.” Jack forced a smile and punched MacGyver on the shoulder. “I got faith in you, buddy.”

“Not this time, Jack.” In the beam of the flashlight MacGyver’s face was white and desperate. “I don’t even know where to start! I can’t break the code! I… I can’t do it!”

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