Behind the Curtain

By Rocket

Episode 9.18

Part Three

 

For a week, they’d listened to the Carmichael twins’ bugs without learning anything about Atlas. Although Willis’ custom-made bugs were good, they’d been unable to determine which twin was which from the snatches of conversation and phone calls they’d heard.

Then one of the bugs had stopped working…

Now all they could hope was that the remaining bug belonged to Tristan Carmichael and that something about Atlas would surface soon.

“Shhh,” Seeley pressed the earpiece closer to his ear and closed his eyes, listening. “I think we’ve got something here.” He scribbled rapidly on his notepad then held the pad up for MacGyver and Willis to see. At the top of the page, Seeley had written one word…

‘ATLAS’

MacGyver gave him the thumbs up and then left the room with Willis so that Seeley could listen to the rest of the conversation without interruption.

Ten minutes had never taken so long to pass.

“Pay dirt!” Seeley high fived Willis as he came into the break room, “Okay, Carmichael, whichever one we’ve got, is meeting up with the general organising the Atlas project.”

“Did he mention Atlas by name?” MacGyver sat forwards in his seat.

“Yes,” Seeley turned the page in his notepad, “Here, yes. ‘I’ll expect an update on when Atlas will be ready to go’ There it is.” He smacked the notepad with the back of his fingers and grinned.

“When?” MacGyver drained his tea and stood up.

“Saturday, three pm, Dodgers Stadium,” Seeley nodded, “Take me out to the Ball Game.”


* * * *

“Do you see him?” MacGyver murmured into his walkie talkie. The stadium was empty and he felt very exposed lurking in the bushes outside the wall.

“On approach,” Seeley’s voice was equally low, “You got the general?”

“Oh yeah,” MacGyver peered between the branches at the general, sitting on a park bench and pretending to read a newspaper. He scanned the surrounding bushes and trees for movement, but saw nothing. The general put down his newspaper and turned at the sound of a car. A black Lincoln pulled up outside the stadium and a man got out, opening the door for Carmichael. Carmichael got out and stood by the car, pulling on his gloves and looking around as though enjoying the view. He smiled on seeing the general and crossed the grass to sit on the bench. In the bushes, MacGyver raised his camera and photographed the two together.

“Coming up now.” Seeley’s voice was quiet. “Grady, good to see you,” Carmichaels voice lacked accent or compassion.


“Mr Carmichael,” General Grady nodded briskly. “And how are you progressing with your part of my project?”

Carmichael glanced around, his gaze lingering on the bushes where MacGyver hid, and on the top of the wall surrounding the stadium. MacGyver frowned at the man who had accompanied him, trying to place where he’d seen him before.

Seeley eased himself forwards in the long grass and swept the area with binoculars. He and MacGyver has been in position for an hour and he couldn’t shake the feeling that they weren’t alone. He watched Carmichael talking to the general and followed his gaze to where MacGyver hid and then to the top of the wall. He refocussed the binoculars on the top of the stadium, but saw nothing. “Stay still, Mac – he just looked right at you.” Seeley murmured. He swung the binoculars back again, studying the man who had accompanied Carmichael, still standing next to the car. “His man’s a pro, watch yourself.”

“Coming along well, Sir. Should be ready in eight weeks.” The general glanced at Carmichael, trying to judge his reaction. “The aeroplane is being converted for the payload, but it’s complicated work, and taking time to complete.”

“Eight weeks.” Carmichael pursed his lips. “I’d hoped for sooner. You really must put more effort in, Grady.”

“It could be done sooner, Sir, but to do so would leave a trail that could implicate all of us.” Grady blinked when Carmichael glared at him, but didn’t look away.

“I see.” Carmichael pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit one, not offering one to the general. “Then eight weeks it is.” He breathed out smoke through his nose, which curled away in the cold air. “I shall be pleased to see an end to the… nuisance that has plagued me all these years.” He stood, looking down at General Grady. “You have everything you need, yes?”

“Yes sir. Just...” Grady looked up into Carmichael’s cold stare.

“Yes?” Carmichael took another drag on his cigarette.

“I would like to confirm that my own exit strategy is in place, Sir.” Grady swallowed as Carmichael continued to stare at him.

“You’ll be well taken care of, Grady. Be assured of that.” Carmichael stared for a moment longer before grinding out his cigarette under his heel and turning back towards the car.

MacGyver lowered the camera, having taken all the photographs he needed. The tape recorder capturing the conversation whirred quietly in his pocket and he reached in to press the ‘stop’ button. He glanced through the leaves at the man by the car, who was looking straight at his bushes.

The man’s eyes narrowed. MacGyver gasped, suddenly realising where he’d seen the man before. The last time he’d seen the man, he’d been in Berlin, fleeing from a sniper and with Gunther Schmidt’s blood still on his hands! He’d been chased across the city and cornered in a dank alley, had a terrifying fight with this man, a knife expert, and escaped by dumping him down a coal chute!

Moving as slowly as possible, MacGyver keyed his walkie-talkie. “Seeley, we may be in trouble here. The man by the car is Klaus Muller, knife for hire, and I think he may have spotted me. Keep a lookout, last time I saw him, he was travelling with a sniper partner.”

“Great.” Seeley scanned the roof of the stadium again. “If there’s someone up there, they must have been here before us, because we didn’t see anyone else come in.” He glanced up at the roof again, then down to MacGyver’s bushes. “Angle’s not that great from up there, but it’s the only high point that wouldn’t have trees in the line of sight. Either’s there’s no sniper, or they might just have missed us on approach.” He looked across at the car again, seeing Muller stripping off his gloves and reaching into his pocket. “Mac! You’re blown! He’s seen you!”

“Damn!” MacGyver zipped the tape recorder into his pocket and stuffed the camera inside the front of his coat, the strap holding it securely around his neck. “Cover me – I’m going to have to make a run for it. We can’t let this evidence fall into their hands!” He glanced through the leaves, seeing Muller striding towards him. “Now!”

MacGyver ran out from behind the bushes, zigzagging as a shot rang out from the roof. Seeley fired upwards, his bullet striking sparks off the metal railing and causing a flurry of movement from the rooftop. Carmichael and Muller spun around, ducking at the sound of shots. Muller grabbed Carmichael, hurrying him back to the car, but Carmichael shook free of his grip and opened the driver’s door. “Get in!” He yelled to Muller, who jumped into the shotgun seat, and the car roared off across the parking lot, chasing MacGyver.

Seeley shot again as the sniper’s rifle reappeared over the edge of the roof, then sprinted across the grass and burst through the gate and up the stairs.

MacGyver glanced over his shoulder, sprinting flat out across the parking lot and plunging into the bushes and scrub at the edge of the stadium. He heard the car crunch off the road and start crashing through the undergrowth, engine revving hard. He flinched as a bullet whined past his head, followed immediately by the flat crack of a pistol shot. He slithered down a hill, seeing buildings through the bushes ahead of him.

Leaping the low fence into the nearest back yard, belonging to a café, he heard the car screech to a halt and turn. Leaning against the side wall of the café, panting hard, MacGyver heard the engine rev again, and the squeal of tires turning the corner towards him. “You gotta be kidding me!” MacGyver took a deep breath, looking around him. Glancing up, gauging how long he had before the car reached him, he spied a ten-gallon drum by the café’s back door and reached for it, tipping it over and rolling it towards the road.

Seeley flattened himself against the wall of the stairwell as another shot chipped the plaster near his head. He heard a stealthy footstep, much nearer than before. The sniper had to be close, just above him…

The car screeched into view just as MacGyver unscrewed the lid of the drum. Waste cooking oil poured out of the drum and across the road. The car’s front wheel caught the edge of the slick, and Carmichael sawed wildly at the wheel as the car spun out of control. Muller, hanging out of the window, fired again but his shot went wild and he had to grip the edge of the door to avoid being thrown out of the car. He lost his grip on his gun, which clattered onto the road and fell down a drain.

MacGyver dived into the front yard of the house across the road. He burst out from between the houses and hurdled the fence into a schoolyard. Behind him, Carmichael wrestled the car under control and swung the wheel left, speeding down the road and doubling back along the next street. Seeing a flash of movement, Muller yelled and Carmichael rammed the schoolyard fence. Hearing the crash, MacGyver ducked behind the school kitchen, dodged behind a tall dumpster and pushed.

Heart hammering, Seeley took a deep breath and swung around the corner of the stairwell, staying low. He ran forward, he knocked the sniper’s gun barrel up and her bullet slammed into the ceiling. He grabbed the sniper by the throat, punching her in the gut with his other hand.

The sniper cried out, but kicked him hard in the knee and brought the butt of her rifle down, catching Seeley across the temple and knocking him to the floor. Stars exploded in his vision and he felt as much as saw the sniper leap over him. He grabbed her foot as she sailed overhead, and she crashed down, hitting her head on the corner of the wall and collapsing on top of him. Seeley pushed and kicked, shifting her off him and wobbling to his feet, using the wall for support. He touched his head, feeling blood trickle down his face, and looked out of the nearest window. Tire tracks ran across the car park and disappeared into the scrub at the edge of the stadium. Seeley shook his head, trying to dispel the dizziness, and set off down the stairs, stopping only to handcuff the unconscious sniper to the metal bannisters.

Carmichael braked hard as the dumpster rolled into view just ahead of him, then swore and accelerated, ramming it out of the way. He caught sight of MacGyver running up the slope and crossing the road at the top. He gunned the car up the steep slope, ignoring the crunch of metal as the car crested the top and bumped over the narrow road and into the park on the other side. MacGyver heard the roar of the car engine and the scrape as the car crossed into the park, revving that indicated Carmichael was bogged down in the mud at the edge of the park and then a yell as Muller spotted him. “There he is!” Muller, once again leaning out of the car window, pointed at him and Carmichael sent the car surging forward. Panting for breath, MacGyver forced his tired legs onward.

Seeley reached the bottom of the steps and set off across the parking lot to his car, parked out of sight near the road. Dizziness made his world tip and swirl, blood running into his eyes and making it hard to see. He paused for a moment, hanging onto the side of his car as the world echoed and darkness crept into the edges of his vision. “You can’t pass out now, Atkins, you have to save Mac!” Shaking his head to clear it, Seeley got into his car and set off after MacGyver.

MacGyver dodged through the trees at the edge of the reservoir, the car close behind him. Picking the densest undergrowth slowed him down, but meant the car could not follow exactly, but had to run parallel to him. To his right, cars flashed past on the freeway.

Ahead, the road curved around, disappearing behind the brow of the hill. MacGyver forced himself up the steep slope, turning when he reached the top and running alongside the chain link fence. He risked a glance back, seeing the car only yards away. He had a brief glimpse of Muller’s bloodthirsty grin, and Carmichael’s intense concentration, then he spun back around and leaped for the fence. He stumbled on landing, the car showering him with stones and loose earth as Carmichael rammed the fence just behind him.

MacGyver ran headlong across four lanes of traffic, ignoring the screeching brakes and honking horns. Behind him, he heard another crash as Carmichael’s car smashed through the barrier and careered across the road. The sound of the engine was so loud, it seemed to fill his whole world. He’d almost made it across the road when he felt a massive impact. He was momentarily aware of flying through the air, he heard gravel crunch and scrape as he skidded across the ground, then there was a moment of weightlessness before the shock of landing in the freezing river, swollen with snowmelt, stole his consciousness away.

Carmichael screeched to a halt and Muller leaped out, running to the edge of the road and peering into the river below. The water rolled and boiled, running fast and deadly. Muller looked downriver, seeing MacGyver surface for a moment, limp and pale, before the current sucked him under again and carried him away.

Muller returned to the car, nodding to Carmichael. “He’s dead. Nobody could survive that.” He glanced back at the river as Carmichael rammed the battered car into gear and pulled away into traffic amidst a chorus of horns, and gestures from scandalised drivers. “Get another car organised. This one must be crushed"

 

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