Buchanon quickly descended the stairs, followed by Audrey Raines. “I just got a call from Jack. The terrorist strike is occurring now, as we speak. Jack has managed to set up his ear piece undetected and we’ll only be able to use one way communication with him. Chloe,” he turned to the brunette who bit her lip lightly, “I want you to run point on this. Remember, you can talk to Jack but he can’t reply. Shari, contact the Chief of Staff at the White House, let him know what’s happening.”
Chloe stared at him in surprise, her heart rate already speeding up when Milo threw his hands in the air and vacated the station for her.
“The army helicopters are ready and waiting for your command,” Audrey told Bill quietly.
“Understood,” Bill nodded. “Chloe, the two tac teams have been informed and should be holding an initial perimeter of one mile around the plant. Make sure they’re in position.”
Bill spied his newest CTU analyst nearby, “Milo, reposition the Dharma DoD satellites, I want a clear image of what the hell is going on here and in Washington.”
“You’re sure they’ve access to satellites?” Audrey questioned the director of CTU.
Bill nodded gravely, “Jack told us early on they’d managed to gain control of a decommissioned army satellite. They’ve been using it to keep tabs on our CTU satellites, and keep an eye out for any unusual activity around the water facilities.”
Audrey nodded, her gaze focused on the large screen in front of her as a dark image of the earth appeared before getting closer and growing in detail as the city of LA became apparent and the nation’s capital appeared in a split screen.
She crossed her arms tightly and breathed deeply. Jack was out there somewhere, once again risking his life for his country, and for nothing more than a civil servant’s salary. She felt the sharp edge of the ring on her wedding finger cut into her side, and she felt a twinge of guilt inside.
She couldn’t help but compare Jack’s civil servant wage to that of her future husband – one day to be the future president she was sure. He was a good man, a man she loved, but his salary compared to Jack’s was a scandal. And Craig wasn’t the one risking his life out there every day. Thank God.
Involuntarily her gaze slipped to the now brunette Chloe O’Brian, and she felt a frown crease her lips. It was eerily like old times – Chloe at her station leading and guiding Jack while she sat back quietly, observing and worrying, her pulse racing and nervousness attacking her body. Of course she tried not to let it show, she just wasn’t as good at it as the computer analyst.
Chloe sat at her old station, her heart pounding as she took up point. That was one thing that had never changed. She was well aware that she was responsible for the agents out on the field. That they relied on her to lead them safely through the enemy territory and warn them of possible dangers ahead of them.
“Curtis, do you copy?”
“Copy, Chloe. Good to hear your voice again.”
“Thanks. Are you in position yet?”
“We’re taking up final positions as we speak.”
“Gonzalez?” she asked switching channels.
“Reading you loud and clear, CTU. We’re just in position.”
“Copy,” Chloe looked up, immediately meeting Buchanon’s gaze. Out of all her bosses only he could come somewhat close to Jack in understanding how she worked.
“Mr Buchanon, the tac teams are almost in position.”
“Alright, Chloe. Okay people,” he called addressing the floor at large, “I want everyone at one hundred and ten percent. We want this done swiftly and strategically. No mistakes.”
“Confirming final positions,” Chloe answered.
Buchanon nodded, in his natural role of leader and protector, guiding and guarding his staff and agents. He slipped his ear piece on and strode towards the centre of the floor, his hands on his hips, pushing back the fabric of his jacket.
They spent moments in tense silence, waiting for something to happen. Eventually, Gonzalaz’s voice was heard over the static.
“Three four by fours are arriving on the scene.”
“Have we been able to identify the occupants?” Buchanon asked.
“Negative sir, the windows are tinted.”
“We’ve three dark colour coloured four by fours coming from a northwest direction.” There was a pause. “It’s Harrison. He’s accompanied by eight others and Jack. They’re all armed with tranquiliser guns and glocs. ”
“Okay, Curtis, make sure your team holds position for the moment.”
“Jack,” Chloe said quietly into the headset. She could hear the clearing of his throat, an indication he could hear her loud and clear. “Jack, we’ve got you in sight. The two tac teams are on standby.”
As expected she got no reply and switched off the talk button. Across the room, Milo monitored the progress in Washington and was quietly liaising with their sister unit. On the satellite feeds images of CTU agents and terrorists made their presence known and every person held their breath to see what the next image would show.
“Remember,” Buchanon cautioned, “this is not a shoot to kill mission. The last thing we need is to turn Harrison into some sort of martyr.”
The comm unit crackled in Chloe’s ear as Curtis made contact. “The hostiles have entered the facility. We have three men at the entrance.”
“Move in,” Buchanon instructed, “carefully, we don’t want to alert the others before we’re ready.”
On her screen, Chloe brought up blueprints of the station and studied it quickly, making note of the main exits and corridors. In her minds eye she saw Jack and six other men being lead through to the centre of the facility towards the main tanks, where Harrison could cause the destruction of LA.
Over the comm unit she could hear the rustling of agents as the two tac teams moved forward and took out the three men at the entrance, but not before one could radio the others.
“Dammit,” Curtis cursed, “Chloe, one of them contacted Harrison, they know we’re here.”
Chloe felt her heart rate increase rapidly and listened as Buchanon ordered the men to move in.
“We got Washington!” Milo announced triumphantly, a smile on his face. “We’ve got Mason in custody and seven others. The vials have been apprehended and are being transported to CTU Washington as we speak.”
“Chloe,” Curtis called, “what’s the best way to get to the main water tanks?”
“Go through the main entrance, and take the door on the immediate left. At the end of that corridor is a turn to the right, take the second door on the right and follow the corridor to the second last door, go through that door. There’s another door twenty six metres straight in front leading to the tanks.”
Curtis followed her instructions with his men while Gonzalez’s team rounded up the watchmen and prepared to escort them to secure places and bring some back to CTU.
They had arrived outside the darkened facility, in relative silence. Getting out of the vehicles, Jack watched as Harrison and Drescher talked quietly ahead, while his eyes scanned the horizon, knowing that somewhere out there the best of CTU were out there hidden, waiting.
“Jack,” he felt a swell of relief hearing Chloe’s voice in her head, it had been so long since the last time. “Jack we’ve got you in sight. The two tac teams are on standby.”
He cleared his throat and turned back towards the rest of the group.
“All right,” Harrison said, addressing the small following he’d brought with him. “You all know what you’re meant to do. Robinson, Watters, Blake you’re all to stand guard at the front entrance. Williams, Connors and Johnson, as soon as we enter the facility, you’re to go the main office and take care of the guards there. Drescher, Tyler, Bauer, you’re all with me at the water tanks.” He looked around at the all, a smile on his face. “I thank you all for your foresight and dedication in taking this path. In years to come you will all be considered the true saviours of not only this country, but the world as a whole. This country will owe you all a great debt.”
Drescher stood solemnly at Harrison’s side, eyeing everyone of the group in front of him, before settling on Jack. There was something about that man that rubbed him up the wrong way.
“Let’s go,” Harrison declared, and immediately they all followed him. As they had planned, Robinson, Watters and Blake took out the guards at the front entrance and stood guard, while the remaining members of the raid split up as previously agreed, and made their way through the facility.
Jack was following Drescher and Harrison along with Tyler when he heard the crackle of the radio and the warning before the machine was quickly cut off. Blake hadn’t said much, but it had been enough.
Harrison and Drescher locked eyes, before Harrison swung towards the others.
“We’ve been discovered. We’ll have to hurry.”
“They were waiting for us,” Drescher insisted, baring his teeth angrily. “Which means somebody told them of our plans.”
He turned to Jack, a distrustful look on his fleshy face.
Jack straightened a snarl on his features. “You think it was me?”
Drescher cocked his gun and pointed it at Jack, immediately causing Tyler to follow suit.
“No Drescher,” Harrison stopped him, “we’re not killers.”
Jack didn’t feel the need to point out they were attempting to commit mass murder, and instead stood his ground, fists clenching at his sides.
“We should get rid of him,” Drescher insisted.
Harrison hesitated, but then nodded. “I think you’re right, Drescher.”
“Harrison,” Jack growled.
Harrison walked towards Bauer, a smile on his face. “I’m sorry, Jack, but we can’t take the risk.” He nodded towards Tyler, who grabbed Jack and drew his arms around his back, and despite his struggles, he couldn’t get rid of Tyler’s steel like grip.
Raising his hand, Harrison lowered the butt of his gun heavily, knocking Bauer to the ground with a sickening crack to his upper cheek, and Jack’s world went blank.
He knew nothing until the distant call of his name forced him to open his eyes and send pain shooting through his head.
“Jack?” Curtis knelt down beside a groaning Jack Bauer. He opened his eyes groggily. “You okay?”
“Dammit,” Jack seethed. He attempted to sit up but felt light headed and lay back down. “Get them, Curtis,” he managed before screwing his eyes shut.
In a blur Curtis left and Jack began focusing on other things. He heard the whirring of the army helicopters arriving outside the building, and the heavy footfalls of agents moving in the distant. Determinedly, he got up and took a few lazy paces before following in the direction Harrison had taken. There was no way in hell he was going to let that man get away now.
“Chloe?” Jack croaked out.
Chloe closed her eyes in relief, “right here, Jack. Curtis is nearly with Harrison.”
Jack said nothing as he approached Harrison’s final position, swiftly taking in the scene before him.
He arrived at the tanks, in the middle of a standoff. Harrison stood over the main tanks while Drescher and Tyler stood on either side of him, guns drawn and ready to serve until their final breaths. Tyler had a gun pointed at Curtis, Drescher at another CTU agent on the other side of the floor. The tac team were spread out around the room, but none clear enough to take out Harrison before Drescher or Tyler could shoot.
“Give it up, Harrison,” Jack directed through clenched teeth, ignoring the throbbing in his head. “There’s nothing left. You’re not getting out of this.”
As soon as Drescher heard his voice, his gun swung towards Jack, like a compass facing North.
“I knew you weren’t to be trusted,” he snarled.
“Drescher!” Harrison reprimanded him, as he smiled at the CTU agent. “My dear, Jack. Who ever said this was about me? This is about educating the country, showing them the-”
“Shut up, Harrison,” Jack interrupted, “I’ve had to listen to your propaganda long enough, I don’t need anymore of it now.”
“Jack,” Chloe’s voice rang out in his head, and he touched his ear, never once daring to take his eyes off Harrison and Drescher.
“Jack, it’s me,” Chloe’s voice replied, “it’s all over in Washington. We have Mason in custody along with six other men and one woman. CTU and DoD managed to get to them before anything could happen.”
“Thanks, Chloe,” he answered smirking at Harrison.
“I’ve bad news for you. Mason’s in custody and the people of Washington can wake up tomorrow without fearing their water.”
Harrison smiled beatifically at him. “I’m afraid LA won’t be able to say the same.” He raised his hand and raised the vial, angling over the nearest tank.
“No!” Jack yelled, his fingers tightening on the trigger.
Immediately shots rang out. Harrison fell to the ground, alive but in pain, the contents of the vial falling down through the tank.
In the chaos, Drescher aimed his gun at Jack, a deadly smirk on his face. He pulled the trigger as one of Curtis’s men pulled his on Drescher. Jack felt the pain rip through his shoulder and slumped to the ground, cursing beneath his breath. He looked across the yard, seeing Drescher’s lifeless eyes staring back at him. Tyler groaning in pain nearby.
Behind him, Jack heard the heavy clump of Army soldiers arriving on the scene, guns poised and ready for a battle that was already over. Jack frowned, sitting up wincing in pain. Better late than never he supposed.
“We’ve apprehended Harrison,” Curtis said into his earpiece, before focusing his attention on Jack. “We’ve an agent down,” he knelt down beside him. “You okay there, Jack?” he asked, taking his hand away and inspecting the bullet wound.
“I’ll be fine,” Jack insisted, panting lightly, “have we rounded up everyone?”
Curtis nodded, “yes, Harrison’s being taken by chopper to CTU.” He frowned, “I think maybe you should go with them, Jack. This doesn’t look good.”
Without waiting for a reply, Cutis activated the ear piece. “Chloe, tell the chopper pilot he’s taking an extra passenger. Jack got shot.”
The cold dread that seeped through her at those words reminded her just why she’d left this job, this hateful job that hurt people. And that was if they were lucky.
“Understood, Curtis,” she said calmly, relaying the message to the pilot.
Her mind went blank. She didn’t hear Bill thanking everyone for their hard work, or the relieved smiles and cheers from the people around her. Quietly, she slipped from her station and went to the bathrooms, bracing herself against the sink. She raised her eyes to her reflection.
She’d only been there a few hours and already she looked like crap. Her skin was pale and clammy, her eyes carrying dark circles underneath that were a combination of a weeks worth of essay correcting and the pressure and stress in the last few hours. She didn’t know when it had happened, but she’d lost her footing here. She was out of habit, out of the swing of working long hours in pressurised situations, surviving on adrenaline and trying to ignore the fact that the people she cared about were out there risking life and limb for an ungrateful country.
She heard the door close quietly behind her and looking to the left in the mirror her eyes met those of Audrey Raines.
“Hello, Chloe. It’s been a while.”
To be continued…..