The Dead Zone

By MacsJeep

Episode 9.4

Part Three


MacGyver wasn’t sure what his own record for holding his breath was, but he was sure he’d just broken it. Rigging the clothing with the life jackets inside and the fluid for blood had been the easy part, staying submerged while Famosa’s people fell for the ruse was another matter.

Mac kicked hard, pushing through the underwater gloom and under The Katarina to resurface the other side behind The Crucible. Famosa’s people hopefully wouldn’t be looking for them at all, but if they still were, it wouldn’t be here.

He gulped down several long breaths and waited for his pounding heart to calm. A splash at his side indicated Dawson had joined him, even before she spoke.

“I think they’re falling for it,” the captain offered, sucking down air. “That was pretty smart, inflating those vests in the clothes…”

Mac shook his head. “They won’t fall for it for long. Once they try and pull in the bodies the game is up. I’m just hoping the lack of steering fluid in the system holds them up long enough for us to get to the island first…” He squinted, looking into the distance where Tapping had suggested they would find the tiny land mass. It was there, visible on the skyline, but it looked painfully far away considering they had to swim. “C’mon, we need to hurry.”

MacGyver pushed off, taking one quick look behind to see if Famosa was trying to move the yacht. So far, its engines remained silent. He felt an internal sigh of relief, and then settled into a rhythm. Dawson followed, quickly moving to his side with just as quick a pace.

After a few minutes in the water, MacGyver had to admit that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. He wasn’t in his twenties anymore, and his muscles and joints ached from the exertion. He reminded himself what was at stake, and pushed through the pain barrier.

This wasn’t just a friendly race; it was a contest to save the world from an arms dealer that didn’t care if he sold a new weapon to a madman.

* * * *

Somewhere in the Atlantic
1hr 20mins later…

MacGyver pulled himself up onto the small, rocky beach took a few steps until he was out of sight, and then collapsed onto his back, finally allowing his muscles to relax.

The perfect blue sky above him was pockmarked with high cumulus clouds that painted the scene, making it look idyllic. He almost wanted to close his eyes and sleep, but Dawson’s breathless arrival reminded him that wasn’t possible.

“The next time you suggest we take a swim, I’m going to punch you out!” The captain slumped onto a small boulder and sagged.

“Yes, ma’am…” Mac pushed up onto his shoulder, some of his strength returning slowly. He peered back at the ocean, searching the vista for Famosa’s yacht. It didn’t take long for his eyes to latch onto the sleek vessel, and it was moving, albeit more slowly than it should. “We need to find McKenna and the machine, our friend Paulo is on the move.” He pointed out to sea.

Dawson turned and scowled as The Katarina grew closer. Reluctantly, she pulled herself up and offered Mac a hand, which he gratefully took. “Where do we start? Famosa will have plenty of his people around, we can’t just roam across this place.”

MacGyver brushed off his wet clothes and shielded his eyes from the sun to get a better picture of their position. After a moment, he pointed south. “We follow the smoke, and we keep our eyes peeled for bad guys.”

“That might be easy or you, but I’m a ship’s captain, not Rambo!” Dawson padded after Mac as he scrambled over boulders and into an area of dense foliage.

Mac ran a hand through his wet hair as he moved. “I’m hardly Rambo,” he assured. “Live off the land, even in a jungle with just a knife, yeah, I can do that, but all those guns?” He stepped over a fallen branch.

Dawson struggled over the same branch, her gait much shorter. “You don’t like violence, huh? I wish my ex-husband felt that way. It got to the point where I started throwing punches back…”

Mac winced. No relationship should ever end up that way. Maybe being single wasn’t such a bad thing. “Divorced?” He guessed.

Surprisingly, Dawson shook her head. “Nope, I didn’t get the chance. He was a cop. Some young punk with a Beretta took him out. So, even though he was an ass, I get your point about guns.”

“Some day society will learn.” MacGyver sighed. “But until then we just have to pick up the pieces.” He paused as he finished the sentence, his attention taken by something else.

Pulling back more foliage, Mac revealed the ragged, broken frame of an aircraft half suspended from the overhanging trees in front of them. The plane had once been blue, but now it was faded and in places was almost unrecognizable. One of the wings had snapped, and sat in an upright position as if saluting some long dead general. The cockpit glass was still in place, but bullet holes and jagged cracks filled the front of the canopy.

“Dawson appeared almost awestruck by it. “What is it? I mean, it’s really old, right?”

MacGyver moved forwards until he was able to touch the snapped front propeller section that had torn up the ground many years previously. “It’s U.S. Navy – a Grumman Avenger from the Second World War, I’d guess. They used them for torpedo planes out here.”

The captain nodded as if that somehow made sense. “I sure wish we could use it to fly out of here, but even your talents can’t fix that.”

MacGyver raised a brow. He hadn’t realized Dawson knew his background. But then, he liked to know who he was working with, why shouldn’t she want the same? “No, ma’am,” he admitted. “I can’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful.” He stepped onto a boulder giving enough height for him to grab onto the fuselage and hoist his body up next to the canopy. With a little leverage, he managed to release the catch, and a central glass section fell away, crumbling as it hit the earth below.

Dawson grimaced, and it was clear she expected to see skeletal remains glaring back at her from the plane, but mysteriously, even though the canopy hadn’t been popped, it was empty.

Mac peered into the back, where two other crewmen would normally sit, but the Avenger’s mystery deepened. There were no bodies. The angle the plane had come down at, even if they’d escaped uninjured, they’d have needed to release the canopy or break it to get out.

“Where is the pilot?” Dawson’s voice cracked, and for the first time she showed a vulnerable side. “How could they get out?”

“I don’t know,” MacGyver admitted.

“Didn’t a whole flight of these planes go missing in the triangle back in the forties? This couldn’t be..?” Dawson’s face said she was actually considering something strange, despite their earlier conversations.

Mac finally smiled. “Nope,” he reassured, “this isn’t one of Flight 19. That was a navigation training exercise, meaning no weapons, this puppy was armed.” He lowered his body just enough to be able to point to a torpedo slug under the Grumman’s midsection. It was almost obscured from view by the ever-growing flora. “And that small fact might come in handy, depending on what we find at the end of that smoke signal the bad guys are giving off.”

Dawson frowned, peering at the torpedo as if it would sprout legs. “Huh?”

“We might be able to use the Torpex explosives inside that thing to blow up Tapping’s ozone killing machine if they’ve gotten far enough for it to be dangerous.” MacGyver pulled back up to the cockpit and swung his upper body inside as he spoke. After rummaging for a few seconds, he tossed a still-packed parachute to the ground, and then jumped down to join it with a flare gun in his right hand.

“Are you planning on telling the bad guys where we are?” Dawson looked skeptically at the flare.

Mac ignored her and tucked it into his waistband. Then he hunkered over, checking out the ancient parachute. The material hadn’t perished, which was amazing considering its age. He took out his knife, opened up the pack and spread the chute out over the ground, carefully running the lines to the harness flat at first, and then guiding them up into the nearest tree.

“Can you gather some twigs, leaves, anything to camouflage the chute, and spread it out over the canvas?” MacGyver pointed to the ground, while he continued to work up the tree.

Finally Dawson realized what he was up to. “It’s a trap!”

Mac nodded. “Our bad guys walk onto the chute, I cut this line here, and it will scoop them up and dangle them in midair until we cut them down, and not one gun required.”

“Neat, unless they happen to have a knife in a pocket like you,” Dawson mused as she spread out greenery and twigs.

“At the very least, it will buy us time,” Mac countered, dropping down from his position. “And the flare will get them curious enough to come over here.” He tapped a hand to the gun at his belt.

“That’s great, but what is the point in distracting Famosa’s goons if we can’t deal with the machine, or whatever this ozone killer is?” Dawson finished her foliage patchwork and looked at MacGyver expectantly, sweat dripping from her forehead.

“Because that’s what I’m going to deal with next, and for that, we need the torpedo…” He rolled under the remains of the plane and took a look at the weapon. He knew first hand that old ordnance didn’t necessarily mean bad ordinance, but that also meant the torpedo would have to be handled with care. It might still be explosive, but it also might be a heck of a lot more unstable than when it left the factory.

“How can we use a torpedo, even if you can arm it? They’re for under the water, not over it!” The captain looked both puzzled and frustrated at the same time. She mopped her brow with her left forearm, and slumped down onto a moss covered rock.

Mac gently patted the faded projectile. “Two hundred and seventy pounds of this baby is something called Torpex – it was developed by the British, and is forty-two percent RDX, forty percent TNT and eighteen percent powdered aluminum. It’s fifty percent more powerful than TNT alone by mass, and we’re going to use just some of that to make a little trouble.” He climbed back up into the cockpit and pulled the torpedo release, there was a pause, a horrendous metallic screech and the rusted mechanism gave way, letting the torpedo drop a short distance onto a small bush. The bush thankfully broke the fall as he’d hoped.

Dawson turned away, half-expecting a bang. When none came, she moved closer, apparently curious. “I read your profile, I know you used to do this for a living, but I really didn’t think it would be a skill we used on this trip.”

MacGyver turned his knife to the screwdriver selection and began to undo a plate on the torpedo. Somehow, he managed to look up at Dawson at the same time. “Always expect the unexpected, then you have a chance of being prepared.” He nodded as he looked back down into the bomb. “I can work with this. While I’m removing the explosives and detonator, can you check out Famosa’s camp? I need to know just how big a bang we’re going to need to knock out Tapping’s creation.”

“I thought I didn’t need to play Rambo?” Dawson quipped, somewhat testily. “I’m a ship’s captain, not DXS.” She exhaled. “I’ll do what I can, but if those people get their hands on me, I expect a rescue, okay?”

Mac smiled. “Don’t worry; they won’t keep you too long. Once they know how grouchy you are, they’ll give you back.”

She threw him a mock glare, then carefully picked her way through the bushes and off into the island’s inner bowels. This whole mission now relied on their teamwork, and their ingenuity. MacGyver only hoped they had enough of both to make it happen.

* * * *

Dawson hated being off her ship. Somehow it was her comfort blanket, and although she was quite capable of navigating her way around the island, and doing the recon work, she suddenly felt more alone than she ever had, even after her husband had died.

She trusted MacGyver one hundred percent, even though they’d only just met, but even that gave little solace to how she was feeling right now as she padded over a small stream.

Her boots kicked up water, and she balked at the splashing sound, hoping the enemy wasn’t close enough to hear. She slowed her gait, being more careful about noise. Famosa was not someone Dawson wanted to see again anytime soon.

The smoke she was following was growing thicker as she grew nearer, and she hunkered down, attempting to use the local vegetation for more cover.

A shape ahead in the foliage caught her eye, and she couldn’t help but deviate towards it. As she closer, she realized it was a faded and creased leather boot. The boot was attached to a leg that’s trousers had long since rotted away. In fact, it wasn’t even a leg at all – at least not with any flesh.

The sight of the skeleton didn’t faze the captain. Whoever this poor soul was, he’d been dead a very long time. The bones were sun-bleached and the attire on them nothing more than tatters.

She wiped sweat from her brow, and then leaned over the body. Maybe she’d found one of the men from the downed plane?

There was a book, maybe a journal or log under the skeleton, its decrepit pages bound by a tan leather cover. Dawson carefully picked it up and tucked it into her pocket. The man’s family needed closure, even now all these years after the war.

A snapping sound caught her ear, and she spun around as someone padded through the undergrowth towards her. Without thinking, she dived for cover behind the skeleton and waited for the newcomer to pass. It was the young man from The Katarina that had fired on them with the Uzi. He looked agitated and nervous. He paused and looked around as if he sensed her, then moved on towards MacGyver’s position.

If she could quickly gather the information they needed about the machine, that might work in their favor, as he’d be more easily lured into their trap out of the way.

Dawson waited until his footsteps faded and then headed the way he had come. The path through the brush widened into an opening just a short way from the trail. She pushed behind a tree of some kind for cover, and viewed the scene.

Famosa’s people had made quite a large camp, and there were three tents positioned to one end. The other side, some of McKenna’s crew worked on something that resembled a generator, although it was connected to an awkward looking satellite dish that had been jury-rigged from The Eurybia. It had to be the machine.

Dawson counted Famosa’s goons. There were about three in view at any one time, but she was sure there would be more on the island, maybe even in the tents. They were all armed. She pinched the bridge of her nose, wondering how she’d gotten involved in such a mess.

Then, reluctantly, she turned tail and carefully picked her way back to MacGyver, almost passing the bad guy she’d seen earlier. He was sitting on a boulder, puffing on a cigarette as she slipped around him silently, keeping to the trees.

* * * *

MacGyver looked up from joining two wires together as he heard Dawson’s approach. He smiled, even though she was still scowling. “Did you find them?”

“One of them almost found me!” The captain snapped, and then sighed. “He’s on the trail a short way back.” She jerked a thumb as she sat down to catch her breath.

Mac concentrated on finishing his bomb, screwing down another wire to a small contact plate he’d salvaged from the torpedo. “What about the machine?”

Dawson nodded. “It’s at a camp they’ve set up. McKenna’s crew is still working on it. But why here? Why not make it back on dry land, in some warehouse or even back in Cuba where he’s safe?”

“Maybe he has a buyer out here that wants a demonstration?” Mac completed his work and wrapped the small bomb into some canvas from another spare parachute he’d found.

Dawson shook her head. “Now what? There are at least four of Famosa’s people I can see, there maybe double, even three times that I can’t see!”

“It doesn’t matter.” Mac slid his knife back in his pocket. “All we need is to disable that machine. He won’t have parts to make another. It will give the authorities time to get here. Don’t forget, our ship will be classed as missing soon when Pete can’t get through. He’ll send in the cavalry.”

“You hope!” Dawson scoffed. “So what’s our move?”

MacGyver turned and pointed to the line that controlled his “trap” up in the tree. “I head for the camp. When I’m halfway, I’ll shoot off the flare and hopefully Famosa’s people will come running. You pull cord when they’re in the centre of the chute, and bingo! We trap them, even if it only buys us minutes to blow the machine.”

“Okay…so what do I do after I pull the line? They’re going to figure a way out pretty fast, you know that right?”

“Um…run?” MacGyver couldn’t help but tease. “Seriously, try and find somewhere to hide. If I don’t get caught, I’ll find you.”

If you don’t get caught? Jeez, that’s comforting!” Dawson began to clamber up the tree anyway, and after just seconds was perched on the branch where Mac had rigged the line. “Okay cowboy, go blow something up!”

Mac shot her a small salute. “Yes ma’am!” He assured as he jogged away towards the still spiraling smoke.

He picked his way along the path, mindful of the henchman that may or may not still be smoking.

The goon had apparently started his last cigarette, and screwed up the empty packet, tossing it into the shrubbery as MacGyver approached.

Mac hunkered down, retrieved the flare from his belt and fired it off back on Dawson’s direction. The Cuban started as the smoke trail into the sky suddenly ignited in red, shooting fire across the pale blueness of the heavens. He threw the cigarette down still burning and began to run towards the downed plane.

MacGyver didn’t move, hoping that more of Famosa’s people would come running. It took five minutes, but two more men appeared, both armed with machine guns. They were more wary than the first man, slowing and wafting their guns around expectantly as the trail widened.

As soon as they were out of sight, Mac took a risk that no more would follow and bounded out onto the trail. It took a further two minutes, and he was at the clearing. There was no sign of the fourth guard, or McKenna’s people. In fact, the whole area was deserted. It was too good to be true, and suddenly Mac’s sixth sense was screaming to run, just like he’d told Dawson.

You can’t run, if this machine is finished, and it works, it could be the end of the planet…

MacGyver moved warily over to the machine. It looked ridiculous, like some overgrown Bond movie set gone wrong – except this was no joke, no film set, and no prop. He dropped onto his knees, pulled his homemade device from his shoulder, and un-wrapped it from the parachute canvas. There was no clock, only the timer used inside the torpedo, and that was fifty years old.

Mac placed the bomb up to what he hoped was the device’s power source. It looked like a marine battery of some sort, maybe from The Eurybia, or maybe even Famosa’s yacht. He touched a wire onto a contact, listened for a familiar tick, and then backed away, intent on turning and running before he was caught up in his own explosion.

He only half turned, when he bumped into something soft. Surprised, Mac stepped back and realized he’d walked into Dawson – or rather, a gagged and bound Dawson. Behind her, Famosa grinned like he’d won some kind of prize for best criminal lunatic.

“I’ve heard a lot about you MacGyver, so nice to finally meet.” Famosa held a blade to Dawson’s throat. “You see, we’ve been having some trouble getting our friend Tapping’s creation to work, and I have a buyer inbound from Puerto Rico that wants to see results.”

Mac’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t see how I fit into that equation.”

“Because you’re good at “fixing” things, aren’t you? And I want you to fix the machine.” Famosa pointed to the thing that looked like Frankenstein had created it to match his monster. “First, you’d better remove the bomb, or we’ll all go together…”

MacGyver licked his lips. He didn’t want to remove the bomb, and he certainly had no intention of “fixing” anything. On the other hand, he didn’t want to be scattered all over the island in little pieces even Pete couldn’t identify. He leaned down, slowly removing the wire he’d connected earlier until the bomb stopped buzzing.

Famosa nodded with a grin. “Give him the plans…” he looked to one of his sub-ordinates, the young one with the Uzi who liked to smoke.

The man looked scared, but did as he was told, handing over a schematic that had obviously been hastily hand drawn by Tapping.

Mac took it and for a moment, considered tearing it to pieces.

“Fix it,” Famosa hissed, his eyes growing dark as his pupils narrowed.

“And if I don’t?” Mac dared to ask.

Famosa dug his blade just slightly into Dawson’s neck until she whimpered, even through the gag. He drew blood that trickled down her throat and onto her top. “Then I slit her throat in front of you, followed by someone from both crews until you agree…”

 

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