Jack makes it to the waste paper basket just in time before violently vomiting up the contents of his stomach. Although his gut is now completely empty, his abdomen carries on heaving involuntarily, but it eventually subsides. He goes into the side kitchen, washes his face and hands at the tap, then makes a bowl from his hands to rinse his mouth. He straightens up, hands leaning on the sink, while he waits for his body to stop shaking.
Elizabeth comes in and puts her hand on his shoulder. He turns and moves, prompting her hand to slip and fall away. He can’t speak. Not yet. He reaches for a towel and Elizabeth, without saying anything, goes back into the living room.
Jack, composing himself, concentrates on the mundanity of drying his hands, but is soon interrupted by a commotion from next door.
Elizabeth is in front of Katya, who has a bright red hand print on her right cheek where she has just been slapped.
“How dare you,” Elizabeth says in a low growl, “You use me to get to my son after all he’s been through, just to try and get revenge for somebody who was a terrorist, a murderer, and a traitor. I don’t care who she was or what she meant to you. What sort of person does tha….”
Elizabeth is stopped in her tracks by Jack’s hand firmly around her arm. “Elizabeth. Go and sit down.”
Katya had initially shrunk away from Elizabeth’s physical and verbal assault, but as Elizabeth starts to move away on Jack’s request, she fires back tearfully, “She was my mother, she was not a..a..terrorist or a murderer. He’s the murderer. You don’t know who he is.” Katya looks at Jack, her eyes filling with tears. He looks back at her and finds himself genuinely feeling sorry for her. She would have been too young to have had any idea of Nina’s history and he knew only too well the impact that Teri’s death had had on Kim.
“She killed his wife,” blurts Chloe from the other end of the room.
Katya stiffens at the words. She looks at Jack questioningly.
“It’s true.” He watches Katya’s face, a jumble of emotions, one by one, show in her eyes as she processes what she is hearing.
Marie, who has been silent up to now, looks at Katya, “Don’t listen, I knew your mother, they are lying. He murdered her for no reason.”
Katya focuses on Jack. “Tell me. Tell me everything.”
“I can’t. I just…. can’t,” he says, and leads Elizabeth to the other end of the room to join the others.
The helicopter makes its way down to ground level, the downwash from the rotor spinning up dust and causing a clump of young trees to bow and sway.
The passengers swiftly alight and disperse into the darkness.
The helicopter immediately takes off again, and before it has gotten more than thirty feet off the ground, a blazing trail of light from the building’s rooftop speeds across the landscape towards it. The helicopter is immediately engulfed in a fireball and the burning wreckage plummets back to the ground with a boom, illuminating the terrain fifty yards in every direction.
From the building’s roof, a series of smaller flashes follow and the air is filled with the sound of rapid fire, followed by screams from the men, as they are mown down one by one in the light from the burning helicopter carcass.
The smell of aviation fuel and burning plastic starts to disperse on the night time breeze and the landscape stills, the helicopter now a mass of twisted metal, interspersed with ash and glowing embers.
One man lies still, he has a horrific gunshot wound to his shoulder, but he knows he is lucky to be alive.
Belcheck and Kate have taken over watching the three prisoners. Jack is standing alone looking out the back window at the far end of the room without really seeing anything. He can’t bring himself to carry on interrogating Katya. Not yet. Katya has been sitting in silence with her head down. He’s going to have to start again soon, but he’s not ready.
Katya breaks the silence, “There’s two men coming back here.” Jack turns around at the sound of her voice.
“What are you doing?” snaps Marie.
Katya turns her head and looks at Marie, “You tried to blow up half of California, you’re a psychopath, I realized that a long time ago.” She looks at Kate, appealing for some level of understanding, and carries on. “We were living in North Africa when my mother died.The people that took me in were radicals. A mix of insurgents and Al Quaeda. I often wondered why I ended up there, and I only stuck around because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I was going to leave when I was old enough,” she looks back at Marie “….and then you came back to the group when you were released from prison and you told everyone what had happened to you and who had arrested you. When I told you about him killing my mother, you said he had killed her for no reason and that you would help me find him, so I stayed.”
Marie stares stonily back as Katya continues, “There are so many things that over the years haven’t made sense, and I always knew I was missing a piece of the puzzle.”
Katya looks over to Jack. “What I said about the two men is true. They are coming back, they’ve gone to get something from a seller. I don’t know what.”
“Shut up,” snarls Marie.
Jack points his gun at Marie and walks towards her. “What are they buying?”
“Kill me and you’ll never know,” says Marie, smiling.
“Who said anything about killing you?”
“She knows what’s planned. I don’t. Lebedev never told me. I didn’t ever think that they would go through with the first attack. I was the one that moved the bomb earlier today. I didn’t want people to die. I only wanted to kill you…” Katya says, her voice trailing off.
She composes herself, looks squarely at Jack and continues, “I saw your face, when I said my mother’s name. I saw your face and then you threw up in the trash can. You weren’t pretending. You didn’t fake that, so I believe you. You still murdered my mother and I can never forgive you for that and I’ll hate you forever,”
Her voice cracks as she speaks but she brings her voice back under control, draws a breath and says, “but I’ll help to stop the attacks.”
Jack looks at her, “I can live with that,” he says and turns to stare out of the window again.
Iosif makes a low guttural noise in his throat, impersonating a fox, reaching out to his team with their call sign. He’s been trying for the last couple of minutes at roughly thirty second intervals, hoping for a reply, but so far nothing. He’s on his own. He knows he has to move, he is too exposed where he is. He looks around as best he can with the minimum amount of head movement. He can’t see anywhere better to move to. The spindly trees offer little or no protection, his only chance is to try and put the burned out helicopter in the line of sight between him and the house.
He starts to move inch by inch, trying not to cry out as he’s forced to move his shattered shoulder.
“Anton, can you move the car? Park it on the road away from the house,” asks Jack.
“I’ll do it now,” Anton stands up and heads to the door.
Marie’s cell phone buzzes to life, vibrating against the table top.
“Kate, you need to take this,” says Jack striding to the table and handing her the phone. “Keep it at a minimum, let them do the talking. Let’s find out as much as we can.”
Kate nods, takes it and answers the anonymous call, holding the phone so Jack can hear both sides of the conversation.
“I just want to talk,” says the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Okay,” says Kate, playing for time, “talk,” she says.
“You called earlier with information about a terrorist attack.”
“So?” says Kate, not wanting to reveal her identity.
“You said that Jack Bauer was involved.”
“Who is this?” demands Kate, all pretense forgotten.
“My name is Erik Ritte..”
“Erik, it’s Kate Morgan.”
Jack snatches the phone from Kate and holds it down by his thigh.
“Do you know Ritter’s number?” he asks Kate.
“Yes, I do.”
Jack holds the phone to his ear, “Has your number changed, Ritter?”
He waits a beat for a reply and then says, “We’ll call back.”
“You sure it’s him?” Jack asks. Kate nods. He hands the phone back to Kate and says, “Dial it.”
Kate does as she is bid and hands the phone back to Jack.
The phone rings once, connects and the voice on the other end says, “This is Erik Ritter, who am I speaking to?”
“Erik. Jack Bauer. How did you get this number?”
Erik tells him about the trace from the earlier anonymous call and then relays the conversation he’d had with Marie. He finishes with, “What the hell is going on Bauer, where are you and why is Kate Morgan with you?”
“We’re in downtown Moscow.” Jack ignores the last question, “What’s the status of the helicopter you sent to Suvarov’s?”
Ritter says, “They were scheduled to make contact once they’d recovered you and Suvarov.”
“Check in with them. Tell them I’m not there, only Suvarov is.”
“Let me speak to Kate.”
Jack hands the phone over. “He wants to talk to you.”
“Erik?” Kate listens to the voice on the other end of the phone.
“I’m fine Erik. Trust me and trust Jack. Contact the assault team.” she hangs up and puts the phone back on the table.
Jack goes over to Katya and goes to uncuff her.
“Jack? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” asks Kate.
Jack ignores her, removes Katya’s cuffs and hands them to Kate.
Katya brings her arms stiffly around and rubs her wrists. He helps her up, takes her by the arm and leads her over to the others, away from Marie.
He sits her down on the couch under the window and says, “Start from the beginning, tell me everything you know.”
Iosef has covered about fifteen yards and the helicopter is still thirty yards away. He shuffles himself up against the bloodied body of one of his team. He checks for a pulse but there is nothing. As final confirmation, Iosef realizes the skin is already starting to cool in the night air. Using only his good arm, he slowly searches the corpse for anything that may help him. He finds a radio and puts it to his face, “Two-six-five, come in. this is three-seven. Do you receive me? Mayday Mayday.” He repeats the plea and the relief floods through his body when his second call instigates a response from his command centre.
Up at the house, Alexei is alerted by the sound of anxious footsteps running down the hall towards his suite.
Yury bursts in with no ceremony. “Alexei, we’re picking up a radio transmission. Someone’s out there.”
“Go and get them. Bring them back and find out what they know.”
Yury runs out the door, shouting for the others.
Chloe goes across to Jack who has resumed his position by the window. “Jack?”
He doesn’t acknowledge her, he’s completely lost in his own thoughts, so she says it again a little louder and touches his arm.
Jack is completely unaware of her presence until her touch makes him jump. He looks round at her.
She’s just about to speak when Marie’s phone jumps into life again. Jack sidesteps round Chloe and grabs the phone from the table.
“We can’t make contact with the chopper,” says Ritter on the other end. “We’re contacting the Russians now. Hopefully they can do a satellite sweep and can make contact with their tac team.”
“Jack, we need you to co-operate. We have an international incident,” says Ritter. “We need you to come in. The Russians have intel that puts you behind the attacks. They think it’s a U.S. plot to destabilize the Russian presidency. Hand yourself in, so we can get this sorted out. We can protect you. We will protect you. I give you my word.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep Erik,” says Jack and cuts him off.
The men that spilled from the house have spread out in a line and are working their way across the ground towards Iosef. He managed to update control with his location and status before the enemy combatants came out of the building. A rescue team will come. He just needs to stay alive long enough for them to get to him.
The men are sweeping the ground, occasionally kicking something in the long grass, all the time getting closer and closer.
Iosef delays the inevitable by staying still and quiet.
One of the men shouts to his leader who goes over to him. They have found a body. The first man nudges the corpse with his foot. The leader slams his rifle butt viciously into the dead man’s torso to see if there is any response. After a moment, the two men go back to their places in the makeshift line and carry on with the sweep, all the time making their way closer to Iosef.
Iosef hears the odd call from men as they find another body. Each time, they call out for Mikhail, the leader, and even if he can’t see them, Iosef hears the leader’s rifle butt being stabbed into each cadaver on the ground. His heartbeat quickens as he realizes the men are now only yards away from him.
The shout comes. Iosef lies there, his heart’s now hammering against his rib cage, adrenaline coursing round his body.
Mikhail comes over and stands over the body next to Iosef. He is just about to jab the body when he sees the radio lying by Iosef’s side. He walks round and stands over the wounded agent.
Iosef realizing time is up, lifts his good arm up in surrender.
Seminov, now fully conscious, has been listening to Katya.
“Jack, we have nothing,” he says. “We should go back. I need to check in with Morozov, he’ll be looking for us. Maybe they have more leads.”
Jack looks at him impassively. Seminov is right, they have no leads and Suvarov is still out there, planning another attack.
Jack says quietly, “I’m not going back,” turns and walks away back up to the far window.
He looks out into the inky black night and considers his options. He does know that he’s not going back, not to that cell or to be executed. If he is to die it will be on his terms not Morozov’s.
Jack ponders his predicament. He can stay and try to clear his name by stopping the attacks or he can walk out the door right now and disappear into the night. He’ll be a fugitive again but at least he would be free. He did it before, he can do it again. Even if he does stop the attacks, there’s no guarantee he’d be a free man. He doubts that Morozov will keep his promise and so he is as good as dead anyway. Maybe walking away is the right choice. He’d never walked away before, and it had always ended in trouble. If he’d walked away in New York, Renee would still be alive – she certainly wouldn’t have been shot in his apartment and died in his arms. And if that hadn’t happened, he wouldn’t be here now. If he hadn’t gone to London and stopped Cheng, Audrey would still be alive. Both of them were dead because he had got involved. ‘I am so, so sorry,’ he thinks.
All of these thoughts come crashing together in his head as he turns back around to face the room and look at all the people seated at the far end. Chloe, Kate and Belcheck. How can he disappear on them after all they did to find him? Elizabeth – he owes her too. She has risked a lot to free him. He would like a chance to spend time with her. Properly, not like this. ‘I like her. I want to know my mother,’ he thinks fiercely.
All these thoughts jumble through his mind but as he processes it all he knows in his heart that walking away isn’t an option he wants to consider. Not yet. He’s just fantasizing, trying to eliminate the risk of being confined in a cell for the rest of eternity. Apart from what he owes his friends, he wouldn’t ever be able to forgive himself if he just turned his back on these terrorist attacks. When it came down to it, he didn’t regret not walking away in New York or going to London, despite the tragic outcomes for the people he cared about. He still believed that each time it had been the right thing to do and he would see this through to the end.
His gaze turns to Katya, it isn’t her fault she is Nina’s daughter. ‘Is it worth trying to untangle all this?’ he wonders.
Then there’s the Captain. Would Seminov let Jack walk away, even if they manage to stop the attacks? Walking away in many ways would be easier. But if he runs, he’s sure that any chance he’ll ever see Kim again is gone. The Russians would never stop hunting him down, he could never put her at risk by going near her. Maybe he could write her a letter and explain. Or would that just cause her more pain and heartache?
He certainly hasn’t got the heart to tell them all that Morozov, in all likelihood, won’t let him free regardless of what happens.
He gives up trying to find a solution for now. He’ll just have to wait for everything to play out and, if need be, find an opportunity to disappear later.
5:21 p.m (Washington)
President Putinov is impatiently waiting to be put through to the American President. As soon as he hears Hayworth’s voice on the line, he says without introduction, “President Hayworth, we have received communication from one of our men on the helicopter that was sent to retrieve Bauer and Suvarov.”
“President Putinov, kind of you to call. That’s good news. We have been unable to make contact with our crew.”
“It’s not good news at all. They were attacked. He believes he is the sole survivor and is badly injured. He anticipates he will be captured before long as he is unable to make it to cover. We are putting together a plan to dispatch a recovery team. I will keep you informed.”
President Putinov rings off without any polite exchange of salutations or giving Hayworth a chance to respond and turns to Serge and asks, “When did we lose satellite coverage of the target location?”
Serge replies, “About twenty minutes ago, Sir. We have no coverage at the moment and there will be a delay of about thirty minutes until the next satellite can be put into position.”
“One other thing. We think the intel that came in across the open channel may have come from one of Elizaveta Hejduk’s old associates. We ran voice recognition and we came up with a match. Do you remember her, Sir?”
“Oh, yes, Serge, I remember her very well. If she is back in this country, I want her found.”
Back in Washington, President Hayworth turns to Ethan, “Get Ritter for me. I want an update.”
“Jack?” Elizabeth has come over to him, “Let me contact my CIA handler and tell him what has happened. Seminov will tell the Russians his side. It’s evidence that proves you are not involved and have been trying to stop the attacks. You don’t have a choice. If you don’t hand yourself in, they’ll find you and kill you. I’ve only just found you and I don’t want to lose you…again.”
“Elizabeth,” Jack says gently, “you really think the Russians would let me go if I hand myself in?”
“The American government would insist,” she says firmly.
Jack just smiles sadly and turns his head away to resume staring out the window.
Iosef opens his eyes. All the nerve endings in his wounded shoulder are overloading his brain with excruciating messages. The pain is unbearable. He tries to focus beyond the agony and remember how he got here. He recollects the leader, Mikhail standing over him outside. Then Mikhail ordered two of his men to take him back to the house and they had picked him up from the ground. He’d cried out, which had made Mikhail smile. He’d been dragged roughly towards the house and, at some point he must have passed out.
He looks around him. He’s lying on the floor of a bare room which has nothing in it apart from a chair and some stains on the floor which appear to be dry blood. From a previous prisoner, he concludes. There was one door which was no doubt locked. He tries to sit up but his shoulder screams at him not to.
He stays still for a moment, waiting for the pain to subside and then starts to shuffle his way slowly but deliberately towards the nearest wall.
Jack drags his mind back to the present. Elizabeth is on the phone, reporting to her CIA contact about the events of the night. Seminov had wanted to contact Morozov, but Jack had asked him not to. Jack was rather surprised that Seminov had agreed to stay dark, maybe Seminov was more of an ally than Jack had given him credit for.
Chloe is on the other couch talking to Katya who is listening intently, white faced. He hones in on Chloe’s voice above the other chatter and realizes that she is telling Katya about Nina. Considering almost all of Nina’s treachery had taken place before Chloe had transferred across to CTU was testament to Chloe’s almost inexhaustible ability to recall facts from the old files that she used to read during CTU down time.
Jack doesn’t want to hear any more. He was there – he lived it – and he purposely concentrates on something else.
He looks across at Pavel who appears to be asleep. Both his wounds stopped bleeding some time ago and he hasn’t said a word since Jack had used him to get Katya to talk.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Marie glance up at the clock and then look away again. He watches for any sort of tell, but her face shows nothing. He now knows she is waiting for something and that there is still time before it happens.
Any thoughts of him fleeing are put aside as Jack walks back up the room and whispers to Seminov, “We have Marie, she knows something. Watch her. She is watching the clock. She is still calm, we still have time.”
Alexei had watched the men bring the prisoner up into the house. He was unsure what to do: should he interrogate him and risk being late meeting the truck or should he trust one of his men to do the interrogation for him? Who did he trust the most? He still hadn’t worked out who could have shot Suvarov, and he really needs all his men with him to guarantee the next stage of the plan is successful. He decides he will do the interrogation himself. The man was clearly badly injured, so he will see if he can find out what the security services know. Maybe he will make a useful hostage.
Alexei walks out of his suite, down the flight of stairs and along the corridor. He checks the screen for the surveillance camera and sees a wide smear of blood on the floor in the centre of the room that leads across the floor to where the prisoner is sitting, leaning on the far wall. He unlocks the door and walks in. “I see you’ve made yourself comfortable. Tell me who you are.”
Iosef looks up at him glassy eyed. The blood loss he has suffered from his shoulder is starting to affect him badly.
“Help me,” he says weakly.
“Tell me who you are and I’ll help you,” answers Alexei.
Iosef knows well enough that he isn’t going to get any help from Alexei – he just has to stay alive. He plays on his weaknesses and lolls his head, closing his eyes and feigning unconsciousness.
Alexei looks at his watch and deliberates. He doesn’t have time to wake the man up or wait for him to come around in his own time. He needs to make preparations for leaving to go and meet the truck.
Iosef hears Alexei sigh and leave the room, and then hears the lock on the door fall into place. He’s trapped.
Belcheck is the first to hear the car coming up the drive. “Jack!, We have company.”
Jack orders everybody apart from Kate to go into the bedroom and to stay down. Belcheck hurries them in and closes the door behind him.
Kate grabs a cloth from the kitchen and forces it into Marie’s mouth as a makeshift gag. Jack points his gun at Pavel, puts his finger to his lips and says quietly, “You make one sound and I will rip your tongue out. Are we clear?” Pavel nods. Jack and Kate line up on either side of the door, weapons ready.
They watch as the car headlights arc around the drive, briefly shining through the gap in the heavy drapes at the window.
They hear the car engine die and then two car doors slamming shut, accompanied by low conversation.
Moments later, the front door creaks open and the voices become audible
“Dan, I’ll be downstairs, you update Marie and I’ll be up in a bit,” says one voice, accompanied by the sound of footsteps rapidly descending the basement stairs.
Jack and Kate, on either side of the living room door look at each other, with the intuitive mutual understanding of partners.
Footsteps continue down the hallway towards the door to the living room. It starts to open and Jack first sees a hand on the door handle, then, as the door opens wider, an arm. With perfect timing, Jack grabs the arm with his left hand, pulls the man in and brutally chops him in the neck with the grip of his Glock before he can even shout out. He crumples to the floor gasping for breath through his assaulted windpipe.
Jack leaves Kate to deal with the captive and goes after the second. He goes out into the paneled hallway and makes his way to the stairs that go down to the basement.
He descends the stairs, careful to stay to the side of each tread to minimize the chance of them creaking underfoot. He listens intently for any movement from below to see if he can gauge where the man is. He makes his way down but one of the stairs emits a groan as Jack places his foot on it. ‘Sonofabitch!’
Jack waits to see if he’s been discovered, but doesn’t hear anything untoward from beneath him, so he carries on down to the bend in the steps, places himself hard up against the wall and peers round.
He immediately pulls back as a bullet ricochets off the wall, creating a plume of dust right by his nose.
Several more shots emanate from the basement until Jack hears a hollow click from an empty magazine followed by the sounds of a weapon being reloaded.
Jack quickly crouches down and blindly fires two shots into the basement as cover fire and then puts his head around the wall to fire a third.
The man below fires back, but aims high and the bullet goes harmlessly far above Jack’s head. Jack aims and fires off two shots and then springs back into cover behind the wall.
Jack hears a grunt from below and the sound of the man hitting the floor, one of his shots has hit its target.
He risks peering round the wall again. The man is lying motionless on the basement floor. Jack, with his Glock aimed squarely on his adversary, makes his way down the remaining steps and into the light of the basement.
He kicks the handgun away, out of reach of the man and sees a large pool of blood spilling out onto the gray concrete floor from the man’s neck. It looks like one of his shots has just nicked the man’s carotid artery just below his ear.
“Dammit,” says Jack out loud as he crouches down and tries to stop the blood seeping from the man’s neck. The man’s blood loss has now formed a large puddle. He can see the last vestiges of life are drifting away from the prone body.
Jack knows his efforts are futile. As a last hope, he checks for a pulse, but as expected, there is no sign of life.
5:36 p.m (Washington)
Ritter is waiting outside the Oval Office, he looks up as the door opens and Ethan beckons him in. He follows Ethan into the room.
“Take a seat Erik,” says the President indicating a chair. Hayworth gets up from his desk and sits down opposite Ritter. “What do we have?”
Erik updates him on the latest news about the CIA helicopter that was dispatched to recover Jack & Suvarov. He then recounts the call he’d subsequently had with Jack and also the details of the call Elizabeth had made to her handler, which had made their way to his desk.
“So Bauer isn’t involved?”
“No Sir, if anything it seems he’s been trying to stop the attacks. He was captured by Suvarov in the process.”
“Do you know where he is?” asks Ethan.
Ritter turns to him and says, “No, only that he is somewhere in downtown Moscow and that Bauer is with an old associate of mine, Kate Morgan. They are both with this other ex-agent who has been on the CIA’s books for years.”
“What’s Bauer’s connection to these two agents?” asks Hayworth.
“He worked with Kate Morgan in London, no previous association. They stopped Al-Hazari between them. The other agent, I don’t know. All I know about her is that she used to be a double agent, but we had to pull her out a few years ago when the Russians got suspicious. I trust Kate and the other ex-agent is considered trustworthy by her superiors so……. ” Ritter trails off, not sure what he can add.
The President thinks for a moment and says, “This is a mess, Erik. We need Bauer to hand himself over to the Russians so they stop blaming us for what is ultimately a Russian domestic incident.”
“I don’t think he’s willing to do that, Sir.”
“Well, he needs to start thinking about the greater good,” says the President firmly. “Call him again. Convince him. I’m going to call President Putinov and get an update. Don’t leave the White House.”
“Yes Sir.” Ritter stands up and is escorted out by Ethan.
Alexei is in the front passenger seat of an SUV. He had considered going back to the room and killing the prisoner, but judging by his wound and his physical state, he didn’t have many hours left and Alexei had never considered himself to be a cold blooded killer. If people died as a consequence of him crusading for the cause, that was an unfortunate by product. Alexei had a clear distinction in his mind between fighting for his beliefs and having blood on his hands.
He thought back to the bomb primed in the basement that he had set to a one hour countdown just before he left. ‘I gave him a chance, can’t say fairer than that,’ he smiled to himself. He shifted his mind to the present and glanced at his watch.
“Speed it up Yury,” he says to the driver next to him. “We don’t want to be late meeting the truck.”
Yury obligingly puts his foot down on the gas. The SUV behind them, driven by Mikhail with three passengers, follows suit and keeps pace.
Putinov answers his phone and is greeted by President Hayworth.
“Mr. President, we have some news for you. We have proof that Jack Bauer is not involved. He’s not at the target location, he’s somewhere in downtown Moscow. We will organize that he hands himself over to the Russian authorities so you can focus on the people that are behind these atrocious attacks on your country. I trust that is satisfactory.”
“Thank you Mr. President,” says Putinov, “let me get back to you.”
Putinov rings off and immediately picks up the phone and calls Morozov.
“Yes, Mr President?”
“President Hayworth has given me assurances that Bauer will hand himself in, which means we just need to deal with Suvarov. Your airstrike proposal – make it happen.”
“Yes Sir, right away.”
5:40 p.m (Washington)
Ritter is calling the cell number over and over but nobody is picking up.
“Damn you, Bauer” he mutters under his breath. Having seen firsthand how the authorities had treated Bauer in the past he could appreciate the man’s reluctance to co-operate now, but Erik was under a direct order by the President to make sure Bauer complied. While he respected Bauer’s abilities to get the job done, he disapproved of his methods and didn’t like him very much. This latest behavior by Bauer was just reinforcing all of his opinions of the man. He gives a sigh and redials the number to try and make contact.
Iosef is at the door trying to work the lock. He had heard doors slam, cars driving away and then complete silence whereas when he had first woken up he had been aware of movement around the house – the odd footstep or murmured voice had made its way into the room.
He satisfies himself with the knowledge that his captors had been sloppy. They hadn’t searched him and the only thing they had removed from his possession was his radio. His feigning unconsciousness had bought him a little more time. Now he needed to put it to good use.
Finally, the lock flips over and he cautiously opens the door. He listens carefully for any noise but can hear nothing. He steps out into the corridor cradling the elbow below his injured shoulder in his other hand. He feels weak, the blood loss and the extreme pain are taking their toll.
He creeps along the corridor and peeks round the first open doorway he comes to. The room is empty, but several weapons are lying on the table. He selects a handgun which feels heavy enough that it has a full magazine. He considers checking it to be sure, but doesn’t want to risk being unable to reload it one handed.
He makes his way back out the room and starts systematically checking all the rooms as he goes. The fourth room he comes to has a closed door. He opens it quietly, just a crack and then swings the door wide open and covers his position. The room is empty. He walks in and looks around. It’s a medical room. He makes a beeline for the cabinets in a small area to the side which look to be full of medical supplies. He starts opening the drawers and pulling out things which he can use to patch himself up and stay conscious and alive for a while longer.
The man has been placed in a chair on the other side of the room from Marie, handcuffed like the other two prisoners.
Belcheck has been trying to beat the information out of him, but so far he hasn’t had much luck. He hasn’t said a word.
Marie is sitting there with a half smile on her face, watching Belcheck achieve nothing but bruise his knuckles.
Jack goes into the kitchen and starts looking through the cupboards. He finds what he wants and puts it on the side, fills up a bowl of water and carries it out of the kitchen along with the jug he’s just found. He puts both of them on the dining table, just out of reach of the man.
The cell phone vibrates on the table. Jack picks it up, looks at the caller ID and then puts the phone back down again, exactly as he has done every time Ritter has rung.
Belcheck steps back, panting slightly from his exertions and rubs his raw knuckles.
Jack steps in and takes Belcheck’s place.
He stands in front of the man and says softly, “Dan, is that your name? I can see you don’t want to talk. But you know something and I need to know what it is. If I need to, I will hurt you.”
He pulls up a chair, sits back in a relaxed manner and starts talking to the resolutely mute man in front of him.
“I’m sure you’ve heard of water boarding. It’s considered a very effective method to get people to talk. It’s used all over the world. Except here in Russia, interestingly. You see, they have a different technique.”
Dan is listening to Jack, and Jack can see his words are having an impact, but the man maintains his silence.
Marie calls across from the other side of the room, “Don’t listen to him, Dan. He won’t do anything – he hasn’t touched me yet, and I’ve been here for hours, it’s an empty threat.”
Jack ignores Marie, looks at Dan and says, “I need to show you something.”
Jack gets up and submerges the jug into the bowl of water. He lifts it out, goes over to the man and pinches his bloodied nose. Dan instinctively opens his mouth to breathe and Jack pours the jug of water steadily into his mouth.
Dan splutters and coughs but invariably swallows.
Jack turns and puts the jug back on the table and says, “All you need to do to stop me is start talking.”
Jack sits back down and says, “The human reflex is to swallow. Some people try not to but then the water progressively gets into the lungs and you start drowning. Slowly. You struggle to breath. Your lungs are irreparably damaged and each breath becomes more excruciating. It’s a very painful way to die. Apparently the pain starts surprisingly quickly.”
Jack pauses for the prisoner to absorb the full impact of his words and then carries on with his explanation.
“Some people just swallow the water which prevents drowning. The human stomach has a normal capacity of less than two pints. As you can imagine, once you start going over that volume it starts to get very uncomfortable. The Russians found that a subject’s stomach can get so full and distended, that it bursts. Most people take about a week to die. Very unpleasant.”
He stands up and partially submerges the jug in the water. He has to suppress the urge to plead with the man to just tell him what he knows, so he doesn’t have to be torturer, but instead turns around to the man while slowly filling the jug and says, “Believe me when I say, I will do whatever is necessary to get you to talk.”
Iosef has patched himself up pretty well. He has found some morphine and a syringe which allowed him to control the pain, and he put dressings on his shoulder to help stem the bleeding. He’s also managed to create a makeshift sling out of some bandages which has made everything more comfortable. The small victory of self-administered medical attention spurs him on and he starts to make his way out of the medical room back towards the corridor. He sees a gurney with the contour of a body underneath it that he hadn’t noticed on the way in, goes over to it and pulls back the sheet. He recognizes the face immediately. ‘Suvarov!’ He knows he needs to update his command centre and convinced that the house is empty, decides to go upstairs and find a phone.
He walks down the corridor back the way he had come. He soon reaches the room where he had been imprisoned and carries on up to the flight of stairs at the end of the corridor.
He takes the stairs two at a time. The morphine is doing wonders. He is feeling slightly euphoric – maybe he took a little too much.
He makes it to the top of the stairs and quietly opens the door. The room is empty as he suspected. It’s a beautiful room: elegant paneling and a large mahogany desk under a panoramic window that looks out over the open terrain.
He goes over to the window and stands to one side of it and looks out. He can just make out the silhouette of the twisted helicopter in the faint moonlight, but everything else is still, even the trees.
He perches on the desk and slides the telephone over towards him and dials the number.
While he waits to be connected, he looks out across the night sky. The sun will start to rise in just under an hour and dawn is just starting to tinge the dark with an indigo hue.
“Two six five, this is three seven checking in. I’ve found Suvarov, he’s dead. The hostiles have decamped, no details of onward location,” He waits for an acknowledgement of his message and then says, “When’s the recovery team due?” As he says it, he sees distant flashing lights in the sky. They move rapidly closer and are accompanied by the instantly recognizable thunderous roar of a fighter jet flying low.
‘Rescue team? No, that doesn’t make sense. Reconnaissance then.’ In the split second it takes him to consider this, he sees the missile detach from the jet’s wing and come directly towards him.
The fighter jet pilot pulls up into the night sky, rising high above the devastated house and speaks into his radio “Target destroyed.”
Jack empties the last of the water down Dan’s throat and steals another glance at Elizabeth. Each time, he’s seen that she has been watching him and he has had to force himself to look away and concentrate on the task in hand. He feels a sense of regret that his first meeting with his mother is her watching him do this. First Katya, and now this man.
Jack has filled the bowl up twice and each bowl has provided two full jug’s worth. The man has probably swallowed less than three pints of water but likely has a very full bladder. Soon his stomach and his bladder are going to start getting incredibly uncomfortable for him, which will crank up his fear. Jack fills the bowl again in readiness.
Marie has been periodically shouting threats across the room for the man to keep his silence.
Seminov calls Jack over and says quietly, “I’ve been watching Marie, she’s starting to show a reaction when she looks at the clock. We are running out of time.”
“She won’t be broken I’ve been there before. This man is a professional but this is working, just look at his body language, I’m almost there. I can get the answers we need in the next few minutes.”
“Jack,” Seminov looks at him with a somber expression, “We may not have the luxury of a few minutes.”
A shadow passes over Jack’s face as he realizes that he has yet again lost track of time and he looks down as he silently berates himself.
Seminov immediately regrets his gentle chastisement. It has been easy for Seminov to forget that Jack has just spent six months in solitary in Morozov’s hell hole. ‘In the circumstances, Bauer has been remarkable and I should be treating him with impunity,’ reflects Seminov.
Seminov is well aware that Jack has probably achieved more than he would have, if he had been leading things. Although Seminov has been prepared to step in, it has been unnecessary until now. He claps a hand gently on Jack’s left arm in a consolatory manner as a show of support and says decisively, “It’s Okay, I’ll show him another Russian technique.”
Seminov takes his weapon, walks up to Marie and, without any warning, shoots her in the kneecap.
She screams. Pavel and Dan look on in horror at the blood and shards of bone where her left knee used to be.
Seminov walks over to Dan on the other side of the room and purposefully points his gun at the man’s left knee.
Dan wets himself in abject fear, looks at Seminov with pleading in his eyes and immediately tells him what he wants to know.
“They’re going to kill President Putinov.”