so Pete’s passed on that Tristan is planning to
let Atlas loose in New York.” Seeley sat down again
and ran a shaking hand over his smooth hair. “Local
police are on their way.” He nodded at the twins.
“How’re they doing?”
Nikki glanced at the Carmichaels. “Troy’s
been going nuts at Tristan, all about how insane he is
and how he’s got to stop the plane before he unleashes
mayhem and destruction etc etc. Tristan is lapping it
up – look at him!”
turned, seeing the Carmichael twins’ reflections.
The second twin was red in the face and leaning across
the table, berating his brother in a fierce whisper. The
first twin sat back and listened, his expression triumphant.
“Yuck.” Nikki repressed a shudder. “How
long before DXS have planes in the air to stop him?”
“Not long, I hope.” Seeley looked grim. “Also,
Willis says the plane has taken off, which means Mac and
Jack weren’t able to keep it on the ground. Mac
sent the plane specs through, but we’ve lost contact
with them for now, so they’d better get that thing
under control before DXS decide to shoot it out of the
* * * *
“There has to be a way to break the code.”
Jack’s eyes were very wide and frightened in the
glow of MacGyver’s flashlight.
MacGyver shook his head.
OK.” Jack took off his hat, scratched his head and
paced the length of the cargo bay. “If we can’t
crack the code, how about bringing this bird down?”
He kept his voice steady with effort, aware that he was
talking about a suicide mission.
“Crashing the plane would still spill the superbugs
on impact.” MacGyver shook his head. “Even
if we just do enough to force a controlled landing, the
device is on a timer. All we’d be doing is changing
the location of ground zero.”
“Alright.” Jack was secretly relieved. “Then
we need to take out the pilot and get control of the plane
ourselves. We fly it out somewhere over the ocean, bail
out and let the bugs drown when the plane ditches!”
like it!” MacGyver glanced up from the device. “You
know how you said breaking into airplanes wasn’t
a quiet job?” He nodded to the locked cockpit door.
“It’s time to make some noise!”
* * * *
The first Carmichael twin smiled at his brother’s
whispered tirade. He’d waited a long time to see
him lose it like this, really lose control and show that
he knew he was defeated. A pity he’d had to go to
such lengths to gain his victory but, as their father
had always said, the end almost always justifies the means.
He reached for his cigarettes on the table in front of
him. No smoking regulations be damned – he wanted
a smoke and it wasn’t as though he couldn’t
afford the fine.
up the packet and lighter, he glanced down. Ignoring his
brother’s continuing tirade, he turned the lighter
over in his hand. Not his. “Brother, I do believe
I’ve been wearing your coat!” He held out
the lighter, oblivious to his brother’s incredulous
you heard anything I’ve said? Anything at all?!”
The second twin drew breath to continue, but words failed
idiot cloakroom girl must have given us the wrong ones
at that tedious fundraiser.” He unhooked the coat
from the back of his chair and held it out to his brother.
mad! You’re actually mad!” The
second twin pushed back his chair and stood up. “All
this to win some stupid competition? You stop this, Troy,
and you stop it now!” Behind them, Seeley and Nikki
exchanged horrified stares. As one, they said “We’ve
been tracking the wrong twin!”
* * * *
Jack glanced out of the small window behind the cockpit
door, then did a double take and pressed his nose to the
glass. “Mac. Mac!” He turned to see MacGyver
look up at him and then back at the device. He seemed
to be getting somewhere – wires and components littered
the floor in the flashlight’s beam. “Mac,
I get that you’re busy right now, but I’m
watching Vegas go by underneath us here.”
This time MacGyver’s hands stilled and he looked
“So, we’re not heading for New York after
all. We’re heading for…”
Jack’s voice was grim. “This thing’s
going to drop right on the City of Angels!”
* * * *
Seeley swore and stood up, the bar stool clattering to
the floor. He pushed his way through the crowded restaurant
and elbowed past Tristan Carmichael to grab Troy by the
front of his expensive dinner jacket. Two men sitting
at the nearest table stood up, ready to intervene.
stepped between them and the Carmichaels. “Don’t
try it, fellas.” She shook her head. “We got
shrugged and sat down again, but the other stayed on his
feet. “He’s gonna hurt him, lady!” He
reached out a hand to move Nikki aside and she pulled
a small pistol out of her purse.
She waited until the man held up his hands. “Walk
away.” She glanced over at Seeley, who still had
Troy Carmichael’s shirt bunched in his hand. Troy’s
nose was bleeding.
US HOW TO STOP IT!” Seeley’s yell was loud
in the silent, shocked restaurant. Troy Carmichael tipped
back his head and his laugh echoed back off the walls.
* * * *
Jack looked around the cargo bay, his own flashlight casting
a feeble beam. Pulling aside a tarpaulin, he grinned.
“Come to daddy…” He picked up a rusted
crowbar and slid it quietly into the cockpit door handle.
“Three, two, one, knock knock!” He wrenched
the crowbar and kicked the door just below the locking
was a metallic screech as the lock gave and Jack jumped
into the cockpit, fist raised. “GAAH!” Jack
stumbled back as the pilot launched himself out through
the door. Jack’s foot caught against the doorframe
and they both crashed to the floor with Jack underneath.
pilot grabbed hold of Jack’s lapels, staring at
him with wild, terrified eyes. “We gotta get out
* * * *
“Seeley!” Nikki called c=back over her shoulder.
“The police are here, let them handle this.”
“HOW?” Seeley shook Troy, who laughed harder.
can’t stop it! No-one can stop it!” Blood
from Troy’s nose sprayed out with his words. “You’re
finished, Tristan. Finished!”
police grabbed and handcuffed Troy, who was led away still
laughing maniacally. Seeley turned to Tristan who’d
sat down again, his face ashen.
really believe he’ll do it.” Tristan’s
voice was shocked and his hands shook as he took out his
own cigarettes. “He was always on the ragged edge,
even as a child. I remember having to cover up things
he’d done. Cruel things.” He looked at the
cigarette in his hand and dropped it on the table, unlit.
He blinked and shook himself, looking up at Nikki and
Seeley. “If there’s anything I can do to help,
you only have to ask.”
“Matter of fact, there is.” Nikki put away
her gun and folded her arms. “You can tell me exactly
where in L.A. your brother is likely to have aimed his
* * * *
“Tel me what happened.” MacGyver stared at
the pilot, now being held by Jack.
“I took off, standard run out to LAX. Then the radio
stopped working. Then the autopilot kicked in and the
radio fired up again on a different frequency –
all about weapon trajectories and blast radius and weapons
stuff.” He took a shaky breath. “Then I couldn’t
disengage the autopilot and I worked out the new flight
plan and we’re going to crash! On L.A! And I can’t
stop it!” He pulled out of Jack’s grip and
staggered a few steps before stopping. “I fly freight!
I’m from Missouri, not Miramar! This should have
been a commercial flight, not some nightmare secret mission
and –“ He pointed a shaking finger at the
drums of liquid and the device bolted to the plane floor.
“- what the hell is THAT?!”
“That? Oh, that’s just a secret bioweapon
that’s going to wipe out everyone and his dog if
we don’t disable it!” Jack nodded at the pilot’s
open-mouthed shock. “So we got bigger problems than
a simple crash! So you and me, we’re going to go
back in there –“ he jabbed a finger at the
cockpit – “And we’re going to work out
how to NOT crash while Mac here works out how to switch
off the doomsday device! He turned the pilot around and
gave him a push towards the cockpit. “Now, GET!”
* * * *
Willis caught up with Seeley and Nikki at the police station.
“Where is he?” Willis skidded to a halt, his
sneakers squeaking on the polished floor.
the cells.” Seeley rubbed a hand across his face,
looking tired. “Did he tell you how to –“
Willis broke off as Nikki shook her head.
he’s lost it but good. We’ve got Tristan going
through everything we can find on Troy’s laptop,
so Seeley’s going to see what we get off that. DXS
have scrambled planes to intercept too.”
on it.” Willis pulled out a complicated-looking
gadget from his backpack. “I found a way to boost
the signal to Mac and Jack, so we can at least give them
“Great.” Nikki nodded. “Let’s
get to work.”
* * * *
“I jammed all the dispersal valves with chewing
gum and stuck the whole thing together with duct tape.”
MacGyver ducked his head and stepped through the low door
into the cockpit. “It won’t stop the device
firing, but it should foul the delivery and limit the
spread some.” He shoved the remains of the duct
tape into his pocket. “I also messed with the timer
as much as I dared, but I dunno…” He shook
“We can’t get into the launch stuff, but Carl
there is busy unhooking the autopilot.” Jack pointed
to a pair of feet sticking out from underneath the console.
that’s good. At least we get to choose where we
crash!” Mac Nodded. Carl the pilot crawled out from
under the console clutching a bunch of wires.
it now.” He dumped the wires on the floor and watched
as Jack gripped the controls. The plane banked gently
to the left and then straightened up. Jack tested switches
Mac, we got control of the direction we fly in but not
the speed. Glass half-full eh, Kemosabe?”
Jack. Glass half-full.” MacGyver frowned at the
console. “What else can we do? Can we open the loading
Carl stepped out of the cockpit. “You thinking of
just yet.” MacGyver grinned. “Jack, aim us
for the most remote place you can find, OK? I’ve
got the beginnings of a plan…”
* * * *
“Why’s that lighting up?” Nikki reached
for Troy’s tray of possessions, picking up his cell
phone and flipping it open. “Hey, guys? Look at
“What is it?” Seeley glanced up from Troy’s
like the inside of a plane. All dark and green lights.”
Nikki held up the phone. “Hey, that’s Jack!”
The viewpoint changed, showing Jack sitting in the pilot’s
must have a camera hooked up in there.” Seeley leaned
over Nikki’s shoulder.
“Hey, how about we show this to the arch-scumbag
in there - I bet he won’t be expecting this!”
They watched for a moment longer, both breathing a silent
sigh of relief when MacGyver came into view.
Troy Carmichael sat on his prison cell bench as though
sitting on a throne. He looked up with mild interest as
Seeley and Nikki approached, smiling at them. “I
trust room service will be along shortly?” His blue
eyes were wide, bright and quite mad.
“You wish, buster.” Nikki held up the phone
to the bars. “Read it and weep!”
shook his head, disappointed with Nikki’s rudeness,
but got to his feet and crossed the cell. When he saw
the phone, his eyes lit up and he reached for it, but
Nikki moved it away.
“Ah, yes.” Troy smiled at the tiny image of
his pilot flying the plane. Then his smile vanished as
the pilot got up and someone else took his place. Someone
tall. Someone with shaggy hair. Someone familiar…
“NO!” Troy’s hands flew to his mouth.“No,
he’s dead. He’s… He can’t possibly
be…” His knees gave out and he sank to the
floor of the cell. “But if he’s…”
He gestured helplessly, his hands falling to his lap.
“All my plans…” He blinked up at the
Phoenix agents. “He can’t stop it, you know.
Not even him.” A feral grin showed his teeth. “He’ll
be the first to die! A fitting sacrifice ahead of the
total destruction of my damnable brother and his damnable
city!” he nodded, clutching the bars with both hands
and pulling himself upright. “Yes!” Spit gathered
at the corners of his mouth. “He’ll die first,
and you’ll all die with him! All of you!”
He threw back his head and laughed.
* * * *
“WILLIS!” MacGyver yelled into the phone,
sticking a finger in his other ear to block the noise
of the engine. “We’re going to have to ditch
the plane! DITCH THE PLANE! Yes, that’s right.”
He listened and then shook his head. “No, no way
to disable it totally. Yes, we’ve done that. You
have? That’s great! THAT’S GREAT! Not more
than a mile, I hope.” He listened again. “The
most remote spot we can find, way west of Mountain City,
Nevada. Yes! Hold them off as long as you can!”
He looked around the hold and sighed. “No, there
aren’t any. THERE AREN’T ANY!” He ran
a hand through his hair. “I know. I’ll figure
something out.” He flipped his phone shut and put
in in his pocket. He shone the flashlight around the edges
of the hold, stopping on a crumpled heap in one corner.
“OK, that’s a start…”
* * * *
“This isn’t going to work.” Carl shook
his head, pulling at the straps crisscrossing his chest.
“You’re crazy!” He held onto the side
of the cargo hold as the plane started to tip forwards
into a dive, the note of the engine rising.
“You’d be amazed how often the crazy stuff
works out.” Jack shrugged, trying to hide his own
nerves. He’d heard about most of MacGyver’s
crazy ideas over the years, but never taken part in one
quite as crazy as this. On the floor between them lay
a spiders-web of rope, scavenged wires and seat belts,
all fastened to a massive tarpaulin. The air was thick
with the reek of aviation fuel, spilling from cut lines
into the cargo hold.
“It’ll work, trust me.” MacGyver slid
his phone into his pocket, careful not to disconnect the
call. He tightened the straps on his makeshift harness
and cranked the cargo door open, the shrilling of the
alarm lost in the roar of the wind. He glanced once out
of the door, seeing only darkness outside, and took a
deep breath. “JUMP!” He leaped out, pulling
the other two with him.
The wind screamed in MacGyver’s ears, so strong
that it made his eyes run with tears and threatened to
rip the ropes from his hands. He felt someone slam into
him and heard a frightened yell before the wind whipped
the sound away. He heard the howl of the plane’s
engines and, squinting against the wind, saw the plane’s
lights spinning away beneath him. Above, the frantic flapping
of the tarpaulin steadied and his arms were almost jerked
out of their sockets as the canopy opened out and filled
risked a glance down, seeing the light of his phone shining
out through his jeans pocket in the rushing darkness and
feeling the weight of one of his companions against his
back. Below him, the plane’s lights spiralled, and
vertigo threatened to overwhelm him. A helicopter whizzed
by, seemingly close enough to touch, and the makeshift
parachute swung and bucked in the turbulence. The plane
made one last circle and a fireball mushroomed up as it
crashed into the desert below. The spilled fuel caught
immediately, burning bright and hot in the night. Instinctively,
MacGyver and Jack pulled their feet up, trying to get
as far away from the superbugs as possible. Beside them
in the darkness, MacGyver could hear Carl praying. Moments
later, the sound of the explosion reached them –
a rolling boom following the fireball up into the desert
air. The sound echoed, then faded, and MacGyver was left
only with the sound of the wind.
Taking a deep breath, MacGyver looked first up at his
improvised parachute. As far as he could tell against
the starry sky, neither the descent nor the helicopter’s
turbulence had damaged it. Then he looked down between
his feet. The fire was burning in several places on the
desert floor below, showing the plane had broken up on
impact. The fire still burned fiercely, lighting up the
landscape and burning the superbugs into oblivion. The
helicopter made a low pass, searchlights scanning the
“Jack?” MacGyver blinked in the darkness,
swaying as the parachute spun them around.
here, Mac!” Jack sounded breathless. “Was
that it? Is it gone?”
hope so!” MacGyver glanced down again, tightening
his grip on the ropes as he saw the crash site slide past
underneath him. “I think so.” He turned himself
around, feeling his shoulder bump against the pilot. “Carl?”
Carl tightened his grip on the ropes and screwed his eyes
even more tightly shut. “You OK?”
Carl spun himself around to face MacGyver, but was unable
to stop and carried on turning. “Do I look like
I’m OK?! I’m dangling a million feet in the
air from a parachute made of dust cloths and seatbelts,
with two lunatics somewhere above a freaking desert full
of superbugs!” He revolved slowly, coming around
to face MacGyver again. “There is no part of me
that is OK!”
“He’s OK.” Jack laughed and kicked his
feet. “Boy, Mac – we really did it, didn’t
really did.” MacGyver grinned, feeling the weight
of the past year lift off him. “We brought down
What’s Atlas?” Carl revolved around again,
hanging on grimly.
saved the world today, buddy!” Jack grinned. “You’re
looking at two bona-fide heroes right here!”
you say, man.” Carl spun slowly away. “I just
want to get down and go home!”
“Hey Mac, how are we going to get home?” Jack
frowned. “I mean, gravity takes care of the ‘down’
part, but we’re going to come down in the remotest
patch of desert I could find, with no way to steer the
Good Ship Dust Cloth here, and we could have a lot of
trouble hailing a cab in this neighbourhood!”
“Don’t panic, Jack.” MacGyver pointed
at his pocket. “Willis is tracking my phone signal
so they should be able to find us just fine.”
the landing part?” Jack looked down at the ground,
which suddenly seemed very much closer.
MacGyver looked up at the ropes holding them to the tarpaulin.
He tugged on one handful and the parachute lurched. “I’m
working on it! Any landing you walk away from is a good
straight!” Jack whooped as the ground rushed up
to meet them. “Here we go!”
The parachute swung and flapped as MacGyver tried to steer
their progress. A gust of wind caught them, buffeting
them sideways, and the parachute caught in a tall cactus
and dragged them through sagebrush and thorny scrub before
fetching them up hard against some rocks. It tugged a
couple more times and then collapsed, draping itself over
the three struggling men.
“Mac?” Jack’s voice was muffled as he
thrashed his way free of the tarpaulin. “Mac, you
Jack.” The tarpaulin heaved and bulged, and MacGyver
rolled out, stopping at Jack’s feet. “Is Carl
“NO!” A voice came out from underneath the
tarpaulin. “I think I’m dead!”
A light shone at the top of a nearby hill. The helicopter
appeared, spotlight beam bouncing over the uneven ground.
Shading his eyes, MacGyver raised his other hand and waved.
“Yes!” Jack punched the air and turned around
to help Carl up. “Carl? Our ride’s here.”
He took the trembling pilot by the arm and led him to
the approaching helicopter, holding his hat on as the
wind from the rotors threatened to blow it away.
MacGyver got to his feet. The landing had been hard on
his ankle and he limped slowly across the desert to the
helicopter, now waiting for them on the ground with the
rotors turning lazily. By the time he got there, Jack
and Carl were already seated and strapped in. “Hey
Mac – any landing you hobble away from is good too,
right?” Jack grinned and reached down to help MacGyver
into the helicopter.
Jack. Something like that.” MacGyver buckled his
seat belt and gave the pilot a thumbs up.
As the helicopter lifted off, he looked out of the window,
seeing the crash site fire dying down. He closed his eyes,
stretched out his bad leg and leaned back in his seat.
Then he felt a tap on his good knee and opened one eye.
“So, Mac,” Jack grinned over at him, “What
are we doing tomorrow?”