12 hours later…
11:20 am (Unknown location)
The rhythmic bleeping gets louder. He opens his eyes. He can’t breathe – there’s something blocking his airway. He tries to lift his hands to move the obstruction but he can’t move his arms. They’re pinned down. He starts to panic, the bleeping gets faster. He’s fighting to move, fighting to breathe and he feels weak and powerless. He shuts his eyes, trying to control the terror.
‘Where am I? What happened?’ His thoughts race from one scenario to the next without pausing, trying to pinpoint the correct answer to his own questions. Did he get taken by the Russians again? Will he now be facing interrogation?
A female voice with a strong accent cuts through his nightmare.
“I’m taking the breathing tube out now. Just relax.”
He opens his eyes, a female nurse is standing right by his bed. He feels a sensation of something being pulled from his throat, which makes him gag. He can now breathe, but it’s more difficult and painful than normal. The nurse places an oxygen mask over his face, easing the laborious breathing. He wants answers, so he tries to lift his hands up to remove the mask, but he still can’t move his arms.
“You came around much sooner than anticipated,” says the nurse with a note of seeming reproach in her voice. “Just relax.”
He realizes there is nothing he can do, and he feels so weak. He submits to her request and lets his head sink back into the pillow and closes his eyes. The beeping starts to slow, settling back to a steady rhythm.
He realises he has no awareness of his legs. He also starts to realize the haziness of his mind ‘I must have been drugged.’ He concentrates to wiggles his toes. They are there, he can feel them rustling against the sheet. He looks down the bed and visually confirms two sets of toes are moving. He then examines what he can of the rest of his body. He is undressed and his right shoulder is heavily bandaged. There is a restraint around his midriff, half obscured by the sheet covering his legs and bottom half. Both his arms have cushioned restraints around the wrists.
He feels the panic beginning to build again and has to focus on calming himself. He looks to both sides of him to check out his surroundings. He appears to be in a makeshift medical room, the heart monitor by his bedside is responsible for the rhythmic bleeping.
There is a window higher up on the wall on his right. It’s daylight, but the sky is grey and heavy. As he focuses, he realises it is snowing gently.
He looks again at the nurse. She has a slightly Asian appearance. Is she Yupik? Has he ended up in a Siberian Gulag?
The nurse turns away, picks up the phone, and dials.
“You wanted to know when he came around? He’s awake.”
‘Who’s she calling?’ He fights the restraints again. Panic rises up in him and the bleep again increases in frequency.
She puts the phone down and turns back to him. “Mr. Bauer, please relax. I’ll take your arm restraints off now. It was just while you were in transit. We’d only just got you here. You’re obviously tougher than we anticipated,” she says smiling.
True to her word, she undoes the restraint on his left wrist and he immediately brings his hand up to remove the oxygen mask.
“No, keep it on,” she says, guiding his hand back down.
He tries again and she does the same thing, but he can’t fight her – he has no strength at all.
The nurse says to him, “It’s very important you keep the mask on. Somebody will be along shortly.”
Before he can offer any sort of resistance, his left arm is put back into the restraint. He fights for a short moment, but finally resigns in exhaustion.
9:24 am (Washington, D.C.)
“Ethan? It’s Ritter, I’m checking in.”
Ethan walks to his office door and shuts it before speaking.
“Erik, I’ve thought about your proposal. You know I can’t give the go ahead, don’t you? This will need Presidential approval.”
Ritter purses his lips in frustration. “Ethan, please. You know there’s a need. We have proved it in the last twenty four hours. How much more proof is needed before Washington sits up and listens?”
“Erik, I’ll give it some more thought, but I’m not prepared to promise anything at this stage. The President has been busy fielding questions from international leaders all morning. He’s exhausted.”
“You know it needs to be done,” Erik paused before continuing. “You’re not one to back down when you know what’s right.”
Ritter hangs up, leaving Kanin with the phone to his ear. Kanin tosses the phone lightly onto his desk and goes and lays down on the couch.
‘I’m exhausted, too,’ Kanin thinks to himself.
11:27 am (Unknown location)
The nurse has injected something into his IV, his breathing feels easier and the gnawing pains in his chest and shoulder have lessened.
She leans down towards him and says “Your vitals are looking pretty good. I need you to keep the mask on though. Here’s Dr. Whitman to explain.”
A tall, slender woman walks to his bedside, holding a clipboard with Jack’s information.
“Mr Bauer,” Dr. Whitman begins, “you’re incredibly lucky to be alive. You’ve suffered a great deal of trauma. You lost a lot of blood from the gunshot in your right shoulder. We were able to remove the bullet. You were fortunate of the angle you were hit – it barely scraped your scapula and caught the edge of an artery so we were able to repair it. A millimeter off and you’d likely have lost your arm at best. You also sustained damage to your lungs from inhaling the water. We’ve drained most of the fluid out of your lungs but there is inevitably some residual fluid which needs time to clear. That’s why you need to keep the oxygen mask on. While you heal, there’s still going to be some pain with your breathing, the mask will help with that too. You also had a nasty stab wound that needed several stitches, as well as multiple abrasions and contusions. There are also signs of malnutrition. We can treat that of course but it will mean that your recovery will be slower than one would normally expect. ”
Jack appreciates the news about his condition, but that doesn’t explain the restraints. He begins to struggle against the restraints again, but to no avail. He also tries to speak, but he feels tightness in his throat. Only muffled sounds are heard through the oxygen mask.
“Don’t try to fight, Mr Bauer” the doctor says. “You need your rest. You have nothing to worry about. Agent Ritter has taken care of everything.”
‘Ritter?’ Jack thinks. ‘Am I under CIA custody?’
“If I undo your restraints, will you keep the mask on?” the doctor asks.
Jack nods and the doctor releases Jack from the padded manacles and the restraint across his midriff. Jack moves his left arm around slowly, allowing his joints to bend again. His right arm, however, is less mobile. He can bend it at the elbow, but his shoulder is tight and painful and the bulky dressings restrict almost all movement.
Jack’s thoughts then move away from his own condition. ‘Where are the others? Did they get taken by the CIA too? What will they do to … ?’
The door opens. ‘Chloe!’
Chloe comes through the door, but Dr. Whitman quickly intercepts Chloe before she can reach him.
“He was a little confused when he woke up, but he seems much better now. I’ll leave you two alone for a couple of minutes. Make sure he keeps the oxygen mask on and don’t tire him.”
Dr. Whitman leaves the room and Chloe walks over to Jack’s bed and immediately can’t help but focus on the scar on his left shoulder, a leftover from where she had shot him in New York.
“Jack! I’m so glad you’re awake.”
Jack lifts his left arm up towards the mask.
“Jack! Please. Don’t.”
Jack takes no notice and lifts the mask up. He tries to speak but it’s inaudible. He tries again and this time makes perceptible sounds, “Where are we? Are you okay?”
Chloe helps him put the mask back on. “Jack, you’re safe. We all are. The others are here too. You just need to rest.”
She hopes that her inner conflict isn’t showing outwardly – or at least that Jack isn’t sharp enough in his current condition to catch it. She hates keeping information from him. She has known Jack for a long time and regrets the times she had to hold things back.
He immediately lifts the mask up again and his voice is slightly stronger but it’s barely more than a whisper.
“Don’t worry, Jack,” Chloe answers, understanding Jack’s concern. “Just as Heller pardoned you in London, he also signed my pardon before having to resign. I’m no longer a fugitive.”
“Where are we?”
“We’re at a small base in Greenland. We’re off book right now so the Russians shouldn’t be able to find us.”
“How did we get here? What happened?”
Chloe says, “Jack, you need to rest. I’ll come back and see you later. Get some sleep. You’ll get the answers soon.”
Jack is frustrated at not getting the explanations he is looking for, but he is at least relieved that Chloe and the others are safe.
Chloe reaches over and grabs Jack’s hand with both of hers, lingering for a moment. She knows she has to leave now or she’ll blurt out the bad news. She then moves his hand and arm to his side and replaces his oxygen mask. She turns and leaves the room.
He stares at the ceiling trying to focus on remembering how he ended up like this, rather than the cold grip of fear saturating his being at being left alone. The nurse comes back into the room and only then does he close his eyes in surrender to the drowsiness pervading his body.
4:30 pm (Moscow)
The beeps from the secured medical room echo in Seminov’s ears as he passes the guards. The door is shut and secured behind him with a click of the lock. Across the room, President Putinov is leaning back in the bed, reading some official documents.
“Roman,” Putinov says, looking up from his papers, “I was wondering if the rumors were true about Bauer killing you. I’m glad to see they were wrong.” Putinov, with a nod and a wave of the hand, acknowledges Seminov’s bruised and bandaged nose, and arm sling. “I see you have some battle scars.”
Seminov shrugs. “Nothing that won’t heal.”
The two men lean in to embrace, epitomizing the friendship and camaraderie that each felt for the other. Putinov waves his hand toward the chair next to him, inviting Seminov to sit.
“It seems that there are many rumors that are being disproven, Nikolay,” Seminov says, accepting the offer.
“How so?” Putinov asks.
“For years, Jack Bauer has been a target of our country,” Seminov continues. “It was more under the previous regime than recently. A picture has been painted of the man that doesn’t really match up to reality.”
“Is this your professional or personal opinion?”
“Both,” Seminov says after a slight pause. “I spent time with him last night and into the early morning. Nothing of his savagery and blood-thirsty desire were true. He is passionate and willing to do many things, but it is coated in a … sense of honor and respect that I never expected. His desire is to do the right thing, even when the right thing is unpopular or risky.”
“He killed several of our men in New York and attempted to assassinate Suvarov. How is that justified?”
“Maybe not justified, but understandable. Those men were conducting acts of terrorism – acts that both of us spoke out against – and there was no action coming from his government. At the time, President Taylor was hiding the information and was willing to let it go to keep the peace treaty on track. Bauer didn’t follow the diplomatic route and took things into his own hands. He had the perfect opportunity to assassinate Suvarov and get away, but he didn’t. He created enough turmoil that Taylor finally took action and exposed the plot.”
“So, we should be thankful for what Bauer did?”
“What would things be like if Suvarov wasn’t taken out of power? Where would you be?”
Seminov could see the idea dance in Putinov’s eyes.
“Besides, Bauer saved your life today. He had the opportunity to escape and save himself, but he chose to save your life instead.”
“True.” Putinov adjusted his bed to sit himself up more and handed Seminov the papers he had been reading.
“What’s this?” Seminov asks.
“It’s the pardon I was getting ready to sign for Bauer.” Seminov looked up to see Putinov smiling. “I didn’t spend as much time with Bauer as you, but I was drawing many of the same conclusions. I’m not ready to call him an ally, but I don’t think he deserves to be an enemy.”
“I’m sure he will be grateful.”
“Have you heard how he is doing?”
“I just got word that he is now awake.” Seminov pauses slightly to think through the next words. Even though Jack has now been pardoned, he wonders if it would be wise to disclose his own involvement in Jack leaving the country. He decides to remove himself. “The CIA took him somewhere and he’s had surgery for his injuries. They expect him to make a slow, but sure, recovery.”
“Perhaps you can get word to him about this pardon?”
“Of course.” Seminov paused for a moment before continuing. “One of the terrorists confessed that Suvarov had someone on the inside – someone from Red Square.”
“Yes,” Putinov replied. “I got that in the report. I’ve suspected it for a while – in fact, I’m sure there are many of them at different levels of our government. I’ve been looking for someone I could trust enough to help find who they are.”
“Are you asking”
“Do I have to?”
“Not at all. I will do my best to sniff them out.”
“I know you will.”
“One more thing…”
“What is it?”
11:36 am (Greenland)
“I hate not telling him,” Chloe tells Kate.
Kate, already sitting at the table, looks up to see Chloe walking toward her.
“We’ll tell him,” Kate says. “We just need to wait. The doctor says that he’s not stable enough to take that kind of news.”
“But this is Jack!” Chloe exclaims.
“I know, but how would you feel if you’d just met your mother for the first time in forty years, and then learn that she was taken by the Russians.”
“I understand that,” Chloe says. “But I also understand Jack. I’ve been a part of holding back information about his family, and I’ve seen how he’s handled it. He does better when he knows.”
“But it’s not our call, Chloe.”
“Let me talk to Erik.”
“He’s busy right now. He’s on the phone trying to iron out some details.”
Kate’s phone emits a few beeps and vibrates on the table in front of her. She flips it over and sees the new text:
“President has pardoned Jack.” She spins the phone round so Chloe can read it too.
“Now this is some news we can share,” Kate says, standing up quickly to leave the room. Chloe grabs the phone from the table and follows her out.
11:38 am (Greenland)
Jack looks around the room and sees the doctor and nurse talking quietly and writing notes on his clipboard. He had his eyes closed for a while but never dozed off. He is a little groggy from the medicine, but can’t sleep while he has so many unanswered questions.
‘Maybe I should just be patient,’ Jack thinks to himself. ‘I’m not a prisoner. They’re just trying to help me.’
Jack lays his head back, staring back at that same stain on the ceiling. Just then a knock on the door, grabs his attention. His body tenses as he lifts his head to look toward the door. Just as quickly as he tensed, he relaxes slightly when he sees that it is Chloe and Kate now talking with the doctor.
“Just keep him calm.” Jack could hear Dr. Whitman’s familiar instructions to Chloe as she leaves the room.
Kate and Chloe walk over to Jack’s bed, Chloe on his left and Kate on his right. Neither of them say anything for a moment. Chloe appears to be struggling with something, but Jack can’t figure out what. Kate is looking Jack over – it must be her first time to see him after his surgery.
“Jack,” Kate starts, “we received some news from Seminov.” Jack nods to show he understands. “He says that President Putinov has signed a pardon for you. You’re no longer wanted by the Russian government.”
Jack cracks a small smile inside his oxygen mask. He wishes he could talk, but the mask makes it almost impossible to be understood. He lifts his arm intending to take the mask off.
“No, Jack,” Kate says. “The doctor says to leave the mask on.”
Jack, ignoring Kate, lifts the mask up onto his forehead and says croakily “Thanks for the news. I’m sure there are some that are still after me, but at least it won’t be their government.”
After a slight pause, Jack asks, “So I take it Putinov survived?”
“Oh, yes,” Kate says. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to her until just then that Jack didn’t know the aftermath. “He has some very minor injuries, but will be fine.”
“Good,” Jack says. “And Elizabeth?”
Kate trying to keep any emotion from showing on her face, says nothing. Chloe looks away to avoid eye contact.
“What happened. Tell me. Now” he says as forcefully as he can muster
“We got a call from Anton…” Chloe blurts, but is cut off by Kate.
“What’d he say?” Jack asks.
“He said that Russians broke into the house and took her,” Chloe continues. “They tried to follow, but lost them.”
Jack pulls the mask off his head and drops it onto the bed “I need my clothes.” He manages to push himself up off the bed to a sitting position and starts to swing his legs round under the sheet to the side of the bed to stand up while trying to disconnect the myriad of IV lines attached to his body. A wave of dizziness hits him and he finally stops as he struggles to breathe. His machine starts to beep erratically. Kate grabs the mask and puts it back over his mouth and nose.
“Try to calm down, Jack,” Kate says.
The beeping machine draws the attention of Dr. Whitman, who comes back into the room quickly.
“What happened?” the doctor asks.
“I’m sorry,” Chloe says. “I took his mask off a little so he could talk.”
The doctor walks over to Jack’s bed and efficiently sorts out the sheet, gently settling Jack back into the bed. She checks over the IV bags, methodically checking the length of each line and each connection. Once satisfied, she unclips one of the lines, and presses a few buttons on the machine. The liquid slowly flows down the line and into Jack’s arm.“That should help calm him down a little,” Dr. Whitman says. Looking at Chloe, she adds, “Try not to stir him up too much this time. This is your last chance, Miss O’Brian. He has a heart condition.. The mask is vital right now.” The Doctor turns to look at Jack, who she can see is fighting the effects of the drugs she has just administered.
“Mr Bauer, I was warned you might be headstrong. Let’s be clear here. My intention is that in due course, you will walk out of here under your own steam, not be carried out in a body bag.” In one swift movement she puts Jack’s arms back in the restraints.Kate nods in appreciation. Dr. Whitman walks back to the door, glances sternly back at Chloe again, and then exits the room.
Jack moves both his arms back and forth once in the hope that one of the cuffs comes loose but when they don’t yield he doesn’t bother to waste any more energy. “Sorry,” Chloe says, both to Jack and Kate. “I couldn’t hold it from you, Jack.”
Jack feels the effects of the new medicine calming him down. ‘Must be a low-dose sedative,’
“It’s okay, Chloe,” Kate says. “I’m just glad it was you and not me that broke first.”
“Don’t worry, Jack,” Chloe says. “I know you want to get out there and help find her. And you will.”
“After you recover,” Kate adds with a small smile. While appreciating the attempt for a lighter mood, his concern for Elizabeth doesn’t go away.
“Yes,” Chloe concedes. “Right now, though, we are already working to rescue her.”
“Seminov,” Kate says. She apparently sees the question in Jack’s eyes, and her answer brought understanding. “He has connections that can help find her. Belcheck stayed behind to help him as well.”
Jack tries to lift his left hand again, but can only move it a couple of inches. He’s able to touch Chloe’s hand just enough to get her to look down. She looks into his eyes, then back down to his hand. She starts to take the restraint off.
“Chloe!” Kate says, alarmed.
“Jack’s going to be sensible this time,” Chloe says, shooting a look back at Jack.
Jack frowns and then nods in agreement as Chloe finishes removing the strap. He reaches up and removes the mask again. “Thank you,”
“You’ll be able to get up and around soon enough,” Kate says.
“Not as soon as I’d like, I’m sure,” Jack replies.. The drugs are helping him keep calmer than he would like to be.
“Erik is here,” Kate says. “He’ll be in to see you soon and debrief you more.”
“Erik…is here? Why?” Jack asks then reluctantly places the mask back over his mouth.
“He’ll tell you when he comes in.I think we’ve told you too much already.”
“Trust us, Jack,” Chloe says.
Jack looks back and forth between the two of them, finally resigning himself to their care.
With his voice muffled by the mask, “I do, Chloe,” Jack says. “You know I do. It’s just hard to be so…weak and useless.”
“You’re not weak,” Chloe says, pushing Jack’s arm down just hard enough that he can’t lift it up.
“Not funny, Chloe,” Jack says.
“This is probably the only time I’ll be able to do that,” Chloe says, flashing a quick smile.
9:49 am (Washington, D.C.)
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Ethan says, excusing himself from the Oval Office.
He walks down the hallway to his office and closes the door behind him. He stops to lean back against the door for a moment.
‘I hope Erik knows what he’s doing,’ Ethan thought to himself. ‘If Hayworth finds out, we’re both out of a job.’
Ethan walks over to his desk and sits down, pulling a folder from his bottom drawer. He opens it and fingers through the pages. He stops about halfway through the stack, pulls a single sheet out, and places it on his desk. He looks it over, wondering if all the work would be worth it.
He pulls his cell phone out of his suit coat pocket, scrolls through his contacts, and selects the name ‘Andrew Smith.’
“Hello?” The answer came after a few rings.
“Erik, this is Ethan. The President dismissed the idea.”
“So we’re going to Plan B, then,” Erik answered.
“Are you sure about this?” Ethan asks.
“It’s not ideal, but we can make it work,” Erik says. “I got my transfer approval thirty minutes ago. I’ll be able to create what I need there.”
“Do you think he’ll get onboard with it?”
“He just woke up a little while ago and I haven’t talked to him yet. I know he’s not the biggest fan of the government after what he’s gone through, but I hope I can convince him.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“We’ll cross that if we have to. Let’s just stick with the plan. I’m on my way to see him now.”
“Get back to me after you do.”
After hanging up, Ethan sets his phone on the desk and shifts his attention to the paper on his desk. Scanning over the page once more, he re-reads the top line:
“Initiative for Counter-Terrorism.”
4:52 pm (Moscow)
Morozov walks down the dank hallway. He didn’t expect to come down here so soon, but he couldn’t hide the smile on his face. He stops at the familiar cell door and orders one of the guards to open it for him.
He steps into the cell. The American woman is lying on the cot, eyes staring blankly into the distance, clutching the stained pillow. He stands there for a while, watching.
Eventually, he gets bored looking at her still form and says, “You’re being transferred out this evening. The requisition has just come in. I’d say interrogation for your crimes and onto Siberia is a guaranteed certainty, Elizaveta. Although, if I were you, if given the option, I’d beg to be executed.” says Morozov, smiling with the satisfaction of telling her the news, although he was actually decidedly irked, the requisition had provided no details of her transfer destination.
Elizabeth doesn’t react to the man. All she knows is that she doesn’t want to leave this cell. It is the only link to Jack she has left. She hugs the pillow tighter, conscious that his smell is already starting to fade.
Morozov orders the guards to get her up. They walk over and jerk her off the bed and throw the pillow into the corner. She tries to reach out and grab the pillow, but is met by the palm of the guard hitting her back. She stumbles and falls to her hands and knees and looks up, her face changing from sadness to anger. The guards ignore her as they pull her hands behind her back and put her shackles back on.
With the guards leading her out of the room, Morozov follows them down the hallway. He had hoped that he would be able to be the one to interrogate her, but was pleased that action was at least being taken quickly.
11:55 am (Greenland)
Erik walks into the room and watches the man laying there with tubes and wires across his body. The oxygen mask is hiding part of his face so he can’t tell if his eyes are open or not.
“Give us the room,” Erik says to Dr. Whitman.
“You’re not going to rile him up like Chloe did, are you?” Whitman asks.
“I have official business to speak with him about that concerns national security,” Erik says, wondering what she meant about Chloe.
“He’s been agitated since waking up,” the doctor says. “The IV bag is giving a light sedative to keep him calm.”
“I’ll be as careful as I can,” Erik says, “but, I have a job to do.”
“If anything happens…”
“I know the risks,” Erik says. “Now, leave us please.”
The doctor nods and leaves the room. Erik turns to lock the door to make sure no one else can enter. He walks over to Jack’s side and sees the man open his eyes.
“Ritter?” Jack says after raising the oxygen mask a little.
“How do you feel, Jack?” Erik says, trying to get a read on his condition.
“How should I feel?” Jack says. “I’ve been shot, drowned, and locked up in here with that incessant beeping. Not to mention what has happened to Elizabeth.”
Erik turns to the heart monitor and turns the volume down so it is just audible and then faces Jack “You know about her?” Erik says, realizing now what the doctor must have meant.
“Yes, Chloe told me,” Jack says.
“While Elizabeth is a CIA operative, she’s outside my jurisdiction,” Erik says. Seeing Jack’s obvious disappointment with that excuse, he adds, “Kate is working on it, following some connections she recently made there. That’s not the real reason I’m here right now, though.”
“I figured there was something more. What is it?”
“I know your history, Jack. You’ve done a lot of things that have been questionable and risky in the name of justice. You’ve even gone to the extreme of threatening and killing government officials. Because of your actions, you’ve been a wanted man by several countries, including our own.”
“I’ve been cleared of all that.”
“I know. Heller gave that pardon before he stepped down.”
“Then what’s your point to this wonderful history lesson?”
“The point is…” Erik pauses to consider his words. “The point is that we need a man like you.”
“Is this coming from the President?” Jack asks. “I was under the assumption he wasn’t my biggest fan.”
“No,” Erik says, leaning a little closer and speaking more quietly. “President Hayworth rejected the idea.”
“I want to bring you in to head up a new CTU.”
“You just said President Hayworth rejected this.”
“I’ve been transferred as of thirty minutes ago. I’m no longer going to be the director over European intelligence. I’ve been named the Director of the National Clandestine Service. Within my department, I’m going to be creating a covert unit for counter-terrorism.”
“You’re serious?” Jack says.
After considering all this for a moment, Jack answers, “So this is all your idea then?”
“No,” Erik confessed. “I had reservations but President Heller convinced me.”
“Heller? How’s he involved? What about his Alzheimer’s?”
“I can’t tell you more until you accept.” Erik leans back in his chair. “I know it’s a lot to ask after everything you’ve been through. But you’re the best man for the job.”
Jack places the oxygen mask back on for moment. He looks up to the ceiling, then back to Erik. He finally lifts the mask again.
“Under one condition.”
“I want to lead a mission to rescue Elizabeth.”
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the email in my inbox & the trepidation experienced reading the final instalment ……….but, it can’t be the final instalment!
Wonderful reading, compelling storyline, always looking forward to receiving the notification the next instalment was available and given the ‘ending’ really looking forward to reading what happens next!
Congratulations for keeping me hooked! Bring on the next instalment (next month?!!!!)
Helen, It’s been great corresponding with you from time to time here and on Twitter! Thanks for your support with the podcast and with this story!
Would you be interested in helping with the continuation of the story? With writing or even just helping with story ideas and proofreading?