Disclaimer: I don't own 24, that honor belongs to Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow and 20th Century Fox.
Basically, with the news of a 24 spinoff appearing in the media, I decided to write my own story that would give Jack and the original show some proper closure. This is the first of 24 chapters that will give everyone the closure they feel wasn't there at the end of Live Another Day.
Just hours after the London incident, Jack Bauer finds himself thrown back into danger when the Russian helicopter transporting him to Moscow is shot down near the Russia-Ukraine border – in his fight to reach the Ukraine capital, Jack must battle combined Russian and Ukraine forces without any sort of backup and even if he successfully escapes the country, his troubles are not over...
Meanwhile, over the Atlantic, a United Airlines plane en-route to Washington is hijacked by European terrorists – on the same flight happens to be Chloe O'Brien and Belcheck who are forced into action to stop the terrorists. What they don't know, however, is that the hijacking and Jack being hunted is nothing but a ploy to distract an ailing President Heller away from a deadly plot – a plot to destroy Washington DC and the presidency...
1: 4pm – 5pm (EST):
The following takes place between 4pm and 5pm, European Standard Time.
Events occur in real time
"This is Chopper AV-75 calling Kangilinn Base – do you read me, over?" the pilot for the helicopter spoke into his radio in a thick Russian accent. "This is Kangilinn Base, Chopper AV-75. You appeared to be here without authorisation – state your intention or we will be forced to shoot you down, over" the cold, monotone-like voice replied within an instance. The pilot got worried – it was his first time going out to "Kangilinn Base" and he had been assured repeatedly that he shouldn't face any issues whilst requesting permission to land.
Then he felt an arm on his shoulder. The pilot looked up to see one of his passengers, a well-known and revered Russian General. "Leave this to me" he told the pilot in an even thicker accent before picking up the radio and speaking into it in his native language. "Kangilinn Base, this is Chopper AV-75. I don't know who you are, son, but I can tell you that I don't need any sort of permission to land here!" he said in a no-nonsense way. "Ge... General! I am so sorry, I had no idea you were aboard, sir! Permission to land, granted!" the voice replied before being suddenly cut off. The pilot's eyes rose in surprise and he looked up at the General. "How did you do that, sir? It's almost like you've been here before!" he asked, incredulous. The General smirked. "Oh, you have no idea, pilot" he said simply. As he moved to sit back down, the pilot started to follow the instructions give to him on where to land at Kangilinn Base.
Lying at the very north of the North Atlantic Ocean was the autonomous country of Greenland – with a population of just around 96,000, the country had a very interesting history. Whilst seen as part of the North America continent, Greenland has been long associated with Europe, something that is mainly put down to the fact that the country is a part of the Danish Realm. During World War 2, following Denmark becoming occupied by Nazi Germany, Greenland was in-turn occupied by the United States in an attempt to stop Axis forces – during these years of US occupation, America's northernmost Air Force base, Thule Air Base, was built and is still used today.
To the very south of Greenland is the settlement of Kangilinnguit, a former naval base with a population of around 50 people – nowadays, it's only open to help with the local economy and for helicopters to fuel up. However, what very few people know is that the settlement has a second use, many miles below ground-level – during World War 2, a group of US scientists and Naval officers found a disused mine shaft that went down to about a mile underneath Greenland and proceeded to turn it into a secret base that would only ever be used should World War 3 take place. However, following the end of World War 2 and the near-abandonment of Kangilinnguit, the base was left dormant. That is, until 1991, the year that the Soviet Union fell; in the weeks leading up to the Union's dissolution, the base was rediscovered. Just months later, the base was re-fitted to 1990s standard and claimed by Russia, despite some vehement opposition by the Ukraine.
Whilst there was a belief that the base should only be used in the eventuality of World War 3, it was ultimately decided that the base would be used as a normal military intelligence base that was secret to the world. For the next 2 decades, operations ran completely smoothly and in order to avoid the truth being outed to the rest of the world, the existence of the base was kept secret between 100 people – anyone who shouldn't have found out or were viewed as untrustworthy were either shot or thrown in jail on false charges. Over time, a submarine bay was added to the secret base and its location meant that pretty much no-one was none the wiser. After a few minutes of manoeuvring, the helicopter finally landed on a small black heli-pad that was surrounded by fuel tanks and a small shaft that looked like a part of an elevator. The pilot checked his fuel meter – he had about 5 minutes left before the helicopter would automatically switch off. He moved to switch off the rotors as the old Russian General came up behind him. "Thank you for the lift, son" he spoke in Russian with a smile. "It's no problem, sir – it's my job" the pilot said, without looking up from the controls as he continued to shut off the helicopter.
"Yes..." the General said, as he pulled a gun from his holster. Making sure a silencer was screwed on tight, he fired two shots into the pilot's body. "Sorry, son, I couldn't risk anyone finding out" he said with a touch of sympathy in his voice. He pulled the helicopter door sideways and jumped out, landing with both feet on the ground. He walked to the back of the military chopper and knocked on what appeared to be the cargo bay door three times. "We're here, it's time.." he spoke, though this time in English. After about 3 seconds, the door opened and 6 people, 5 men and 1 woman, emerged. The Russian general turned to one of the men, a young person who looked in his 20s. "Those below will get suspicious if the fuel tanks are not used. Prepare the helicopter for fuelling after you've set the bomb, then met us" he told him, now switching to Croatian. The man nodded as the General turned to the rest of the group. He indicated for them to follow as he walked towards the elevator shaft.
"It's no good, sir – Belarus just won't give us permission to go through their airspace. We'll have to go through Ukraine" the pilot spoke to his superior. Stanislav Vladan sighed – he had hoped to go through Belarus airspace, but now the journey would be both longer and slightly riskier. "Very well, inform Russia of the delay – we'll be in Moscow possibly an hour later than planned" he replied. The pilot nodded and Vladan turned to his prisoner. "For you, this is what you Americans call... "delaying the inevitable?" he asked. For a moment, it seemed like Jack Bauer would not reply but after a few seconds, he gave a curt nod. Vladan sighed. He had not gotten a single word out of Bauer since they'd taken off from London about 4 hours ago; well, considering time-zones, it was technically 5 hours but it still felt like 4. The intelligence agent looked out of the helicopter at the scenic Ukraine – he was really hoping that any Ukraine military potentially on the ground would not spot the helicopter.
"Bit risky, isn't it? Russians flying over the Ukraine... what is it, I'd say at least 5 months after your illegal occupation of Crimea?" Bauer asked suddenly and snidely. Vladan was caught off-guard a bit by Bauer suddenly talking but he inwardly scoffed at what he was saying. "You Americans, all thinking what we did was illegal. It may have been... "controversial" but it was entirely legal. You're just blowing it completely out of proposition, like always" he retorted. Bauer simply glared at him. "Well... just agree to disagree then" he simply said. Vladan shook his head, he had tried everything to make the helicopter journey as enjoyable and as calm as possible for everyone but Bauer was clearly not buying into it. Another few seconds went by before the agent picked up a red flask and filled the top up with some coffee. He looked up at Jack. "Thirsty?" he offered.
Bauer did nothing for a few seconds but glare, but then took the drink and downed the warm beverage before handing the flask top back. Vladan rose an eyebrow at how quickly the American downed the drink. "Tell me something, Mr Bauer – why were you so willing to give yourself up for Ms O'Brian? It almost seemed like you don't have any friends aside from her..." he then asked. Bauer smirked. "You're the intelligence agent, surely you should know that" he said with quite a bit of sarcasm. "Possibly, but let's say I've only met you for the first time and I know nothing about you at all.." Vladan suggested. "Very well..." Bauer said and he started to think back – he wasn't going to tell the whole truth, just a few bits. "In the whole of my career linking to intelligence agencies, I've only ever had a few friends – Chl... Ms O'Brian, she's the only one left. The rest are dead, killed either because of me or... in some cases, by me" he explained – in reality, part of what he had said was a lie. Tony may still be alive, but the Tony that Jack and Chloe knew was dead. He had died the moment Michelle had been killed during the Sentox nerve gas conspiracy and in his place was a shadow of his former self, now languishing in prison.
"As it is, Ms O'Brian is the only person who I would trust completely with my life. Aside from my daughter, that is" Jack continued. "Ah yes... Kim. Before I came to London, I did some delving and I've found out some details. I believe you already know you have become a grandfather again – Kim has had a boy. Patrick Jack Matthew Wesley, currently 20 months old" Vladan spoke. He noticed Bauer glaring at him again, but this was unlike any other glare he had gotten from the American over the last few hours. "Why are you telling me this?" he said angrily. "Just thought I'd let you know – thought you'd be interested" Vladan insisted. Bauer gave an angry sigh. "I swear, you had better not go after Kim. Or Chloe, for that matter. You know what I said I would do if you hurt the people I love..." he warned. Vladan knew only too well what the American was capable of – during the New York incident, Bauer's lover Renee Walker had been killed by a Russian sniper. In response, Bauer had gone on a murderous rampage and killed countless Russian citizens in his search for justice, not just for Renee but for Omar Hassan as well. "I know what you are capable of, Mr. Bauer. It's that which has led to you being on this helicopter. But as I told you back in London, we just wanted you. You have our word we will not go after Kim, or Ms O'Brian" Vladan assured.
Bauer sat back. "I wonder what is happening with Ms O'Brian now" the Russian agent thought aloud. "After all, she's still technically a fugitive and there isn't exactly anywhere for her to go". He then noticed Jack smiling at him. "Oh, you have no idea..."
15:16:01PM BST time
Belcheck looked over towards the passenger seat for possibly the 84th time in the past two hours. Chloe had not said a word after since they'd left the meeting point with the Russians over 3 hours ago. It seemed like she was still in denial over what had happened – her only friend had surrendered himself to the Russians and possibly sacrificed his own life in the process. By now, it was mostly likely that Jack was somewhere above Belarus and not too far from Russian airspace. Now, putting your life at risk for the sake of your friends and family is not uncommon but for Chloe, it was pretty hard to take. It was as Jack had told her well over 12 hours ago: "I'm the only friend you have left" which was pretty much as close to the truth as possible. She did have friends from the original LA CTU but they were either dead or in prison. Jack was as close to a friend as she had.
Belcheck slowed the car down at a set of traffic lights and again turned to face Chloe. "I think you should look ahead" he said. Chloe didn't move for a few seconds. "Chloe? Please?" he pushed again. Finally, she moved her head to look out of the windscreen. As she moved to the position she was originally in, she stopped and looked again. They were just outside London Heathrow Airport. "Sorry it took so long, but obviously everything that has happened over the last day caused delays across London" the Serb assassin explained. Chloe looked towards him with a face of confusion. "I... I don't understand" she stuttered. "As Jack told you before he left... "it's time to go home". And that's where you're going" Belcheck. He noticed the lights turn green and he started the car up, heading towards the car park. "But.. but... I can't go home! I'm still effectively a fugitive, they'll arrest me before I even get off the plane!" Chloe protested. "Well, I've got some news for you.." Belcheck insisted as he found a parking space and pulled into it. He pulled a large blue bag from the backseat of the car and handed it to Chloe.
"Open it.." the Serb said simply. Chloe stuck her hand in and pulled out a white envelope. Inside was a CD. "Put it in the player" Belcheck urged and Chloe did. After a few seconds, it kicked in.
"Chloe, hey" Jack spoke. "Now, you're probably wandering what's going on – well, President Heller gave me a written pardon for everything that happened in New York. Whilst we worked on trying to fool Margot Al-Harazi at Wembley, I convinced him to give you a pardon too, as well as a pardon that pretty much expunges both your prison sentence and criminal record – yes, you fulfilled the sentence so you're not technically a criminal but the pardon is for all your actions with the hacker group. Now, if you look inside the bag again..." dead air on the CD continued whilst Chloe pulled out three large white padded envelopes. One had the written pardons and the second one had a passport. "I've got you a passport as well. The last envelope... that's for Kim, when you find her. I really want her to know that I'm alive, I love her and that I'll find her and you one day! That's all I ask for. Now come on, as I said earlier, it's time to go home and I promise... I will find you again one day. Goodbye, Chloe". The CD player clicked and the disc popped out.
Chloe looked towards Belcheck in utter shock. "J... Jack did this?" she asked. The Serb nodded. "He also booked the tickets this morning – our plane leaves very soon, they should be starting boarding any second now" he explained. "Wait. OUR plane? Are you coming?" Chloe asked, utterly surprised. Belcheck nodded again. "I made a vow to Jack that I would ensure you get to America safely and without harm.. I intend to keep that vow" he explained" he said, almost in a monotone matter. For the time in quite some while, Chloe gave a proper smile. She had given some smiles over the past 24 hours or so, but they weren't really smiles. "You're like the Terminator – if given a job, you do it without any sort of emotion!" she remarked, half-joking. Belcheck simply rose an eyebrow. "I do have emotion.. I just perhaps might not show it like you would" he pointed out. Chloe rolled her eyes and sighed. "Well..." she said as she opened the car door. "...no point wasting time, let's get on that plane". Belcheck nodded and he got out the car. He then noticed Chloe looking up towards the sky. "Are you thinking of Jack?" he asked. After a few seconds of silence, the former CTU analyst spoke. "Not just Jack... but the President as well. I mean.. he lost his daughter in trying to stop the Chinese. In his state, I can only think what's going through his mind..." she said, not once looking down.
Airspace Above the Norwegian Sea
It had been 3 hours since Air Force One had taken off from London en-route back to Washington DC, but because of the time-zone difference between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, it was technically 4. Inside, the mood was pretty much as sombre as it could be – everyone was still affected not just by the death of the First Daughter Audrey Boudreau, but also by the actions of her husband Mark, the now-former Chief of Staff, during their time in London. Not only had he committed treason by conspiring with the Russians in an attempt to capture Jack Bauer who had resurfaced in London, but in conspiring with the Russians, he had unwittingly played a hand in the Chinese and Ching Zhi trying to start a war between America and China. But whilst his actions still came as a shock, he was obviously the last thing on everyone's mind – the biggest concern was President Heller himself.
No-one knew whether to try and talk to him or just give him some privacy – ever since they had left London, not one person had spoken to him. In the conference room, which felt like the only room where anyone could talk without feeling awkward, about 7 Secret Service agents had gathered and were trying to come up with a solution to whether someone should just talk to Heller or not. Speaking of Heller, he was currently in the plane version of his office. He had been sitting at his desk for a good two hours, just going through a large photo album of him, Audrey, his stepson Richard and Audrey's deceased mother Alicia. He knew full well his memory was deteriorating and he was looking at the photos to keep reminding himself of the family he once had – as he had told Alistair Davies, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, before he had left for Washington DC, no matter how hard he would try to remember, he would eventually forget he even had a daughter, let alone she died. At some point, he could look through this photo album again and he wouldn't even remember any of the faces on them.
He was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts by a knock on his door. He quickly checked the clock on his desk and he realized he had been all alone ever since they had left London. "Come in" he said. The door opened and a smartly-dressed young man came in. "Mr President, I'm sorry to intrude on you..." he said, though in a British accent. "It's alright, son. What can I do for you?" Heller said with a polite smile, relieved that someone had come in. He didn't mind the privacy but he wouldn't have minded having someone to talk to either. "It's just, we've had to change our course. We're gonna have to fly close to Iceland, so we'll be delayed in returning to Washington by another 50 to 60 minutes" the man explained. "Right, ok. That shouldn't be a problem. Thank you, son" Heller nodded. The man smiled and moved to leave when the President spoke up. "Hold on a minute, sorry... this might be my dementia speaking but.. I don't think I've seen you before. And you're British, no disrespect, so why are you on this plane?" he asked, slight suspicion mixed with confusion. The man closed the door and turned back to the President. "I do apologize, sir. I'm Andrew McKaye, I'm with British MI-5. I'm part of an inter-agency exchange with the FBI.." McKaye explained, holding his hand out. Heller thought for a moment, then instantly realized.
"Oh yes, I just about remember now" he said, shaking the hand of the MI-5 agent. "Yes... and before I go, I would like to express my utter condolences for what happened with your daughter, Mr. President" McKaye said, sympathy in his eyes. Heller's expression changed and he again nodded. "Thank you, son. I appreciate that" he said with sorrow in his voice. "I don't want to seem tactless, Mr President, but I know what losing a family member is like – I lost my my parents, my sister all over 3 years ago and... it's my fault" the MI-5 agent explained. Heller looked up, with a face of surprise and shock at what he had heard. "Oh... I'm sure it wasn't your fault at all – what happened?" he asked. McKaye indicated to the chair, asking if he could sit down and Heller nodded. "Well... we were all heading to a family reunion up in Birmingham and I managed to break my leg during a training exercise at MI-5. Whilst they insisted they wouldn't have to go at all, I got my parents and my sister to go to the reunion without me.." he explained and slowed down as he tried to keep it together. "...but as my friend was helping me home, I learnt that my parent's car had been involved in a pile-up and that Dad accidentally crashed into a fuel tanker... they didn't stand a chance.." he finished and Heller could see full well that he was trying very hard to keep a brave face.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Andrew..." he started and McKaye looked up. "...but you shouldn't blame yourself. No-one could have seen that crash coming and had you been in that car, you would have died as well.." Heller finished. He could see McKaye wasn't looking too convinced. "Let me tell you something, McKaye. You've heard of Jack Bauer?" he restarted and McKaye nodded. "Only a few things here and there, like how he went on the run following events in New York but I have heard of him". "Well... Jack actually resurfaced over 24 hours ago. He had heard an attempt would be made on my life and he resurfaced to save me" Heller explained, trying his best to remember the events of the past 24 hours. "Now, had Jack not resurfaced... Audrey wouldn't have been the only one who would be dead. I would have been dead, everyone on this plane would potentially have been dead, the Prime Minister would have been dead and London would be in ruins... long story short, whilst most would have.. I do not blame Jack for Audrey's death, not one bit. Yes, he did resurface and the actions that followed did indirectly lead to Audrey's death, but chances are she would have died whatever happened".
"I guess, long story short, life is far too short to blame people for something they didn't directly do. I made the mistake of blaming Jack for something that happened to Audrey at the hands of the Chinese nearly a decade ago – I'm not going to make that same mistake again" Heller finished; he was a bit surprised that in his mental state, he had managed to remember all that. But McKaye seemed like he had accepted what the President was saying. "I guess that's true... and if you don't mind my asking, sir, I'm guessing Ms. Boudreau is in one of those photos?" he asked, now indicating towards the open photo album. Heller looked down and chuckled. "Yeah.. I was just going over a few old memories. Come here, I probably shouldn't but have a look at a few.." he said, indicating for McKaye to look over his shoulder. As the Brit got up, Heller thought to himself. He was obviously not 100%, but he was grateful to McKaye for giving him a chance to be open about his feelings.
The elevator doors slid open and the Croatian that had been ordered to hook the fuel tanks up to the helicopter emerged from the lift, onto the base's 3rd lowest level. The sight that met him took him by surprise – 7 Russian officers, old and young, sat dead in their chairs. Gunshot wounds in the head and chest. At one of the desks was the lone woman of the group that had arrived by the helicopter, trying to break some kind of code. The Russian General spotted him. "Are the fuel pumps hooked up?" he asked. The Croatian nodded. "And the C-4 secured in place. How are things here?" he asked. This time, the woman spoke. "I've been spending the last 10 minutes trying to break into the over-ride that will take the elevator down to the lowest level – these officers have put in a damn good security code!" she said, this time in Ukrainian. The Croatian looked around. "Are the ones you've already killed the only ones in this base?" he asked. The General shook his head. "There are more, but they'll be taken care of. There's a meeting going up between the most senior people within the base and they're none the wiser – the sooner we can get to the lower level, the better!" he explained.
Suddenly, the desk panel that the Ukraine woman was at beeped several times and the security code on the large computer screen lit up green. "We're in!" she declared and she clapped her hands together. A computer-like voice spoke out. "Access to the lower levels granted" it said. "Ok, everyone but Aralica head down to the lower level. Get ready to leave" the old General ordered and everyone except for the Croatian man, now known as Aralica, headed back towards the lift. As the doors closed, the General turned to Aralica. "Put this canister directly into the conference room's air maintenance, then head to the lowest level and send the all-clear. I'll record the message for when they come to find survivors" he told the Croatian as he handed him a small bottle-like canister. Aralica nodded and headed around the corner towards the conference room. The General turned towards the desk and started to work the various buttons.
Down on the lowest level, meanwhile, the elevator doors once again slid open and the 5-strong group walked out, onto a gangway overlooking a large pool of water. Down below was various scientists walking around and... "There it is – the main prize" the Ukraine woman smiled smugly. "The "Yury Dolgorukiy"". Indeed, down in the pool of water and partially submerged was a Borei-class submarine. "Well..." one of the men said, speaking in a thick Romanian accent as he pulled out a gun fitted with a silencer. "..let's do this". The other 4 people pulled out guns with silencers fitted and split up into groups.
Back on the higher levels, Aralica had rounded a corner and found an airvent that read "Air Conditioning". He was currently in the process of unscrewing a tube and replacing it with the bottle he had been given by the Russian General. He had to be very careful as if he dropped it, he would be overcome by what was inside the bottle. Not too far away, the General was now standing in front of the computer screen. "To those who may not know, I am Russian General Andre Benediktov. And if you have found this when I think you will find it, then you are too late" he started.
Back in the submarine bay, two soldiers rounded a corner, out of earshot and eyeshot from the scientists. Suddenly, one fell to the ground and the second one fell a second later before he could even react – both were dead. One of the gunman quietly rounded a corner, followed by the Ukranian woman. On the other side of the submarine bay, scientists were shot one by one with those still alive not even realizing what was happening. Outside the conference room, Aralica finally secured the canister within the Air-Conditioning Unit and replaced the air-vent. He pulled a small phone in the shape of a walkie-talkie out of his holster and pressed a number before bringing the phone to his air. After a few seconds... "This is Aralica of the Marina Cell calling Eastern Cell. We are in position – you have the all-clear! A.F.E!" he spoke in Ukrainian before heading off towards the elevator. Back down in the submarine bay, the 5-strong group were nearly finished killing all of the scientists. Bodies lay strewn everywhere as the last one left spotted the bodies and was about to raise the alarm before being shot in the head.
"No matter what you do or how you do it, you simply will not be able to find us.." Benediktov continued the recording of the "message" as Aralica headed into the elevator. He turned to face the left-hand side of the lift as the doors closed.
"How much longer until we clear Ukraine airspace, pilot?" Vladan asked his pilot out of the blue. "I'm sorry, sir, but it's gonna be longer than we expected – another 3 hours..." the pilot explained. He could see from his cockpit-view mirror that Vladan was shocked at the length of time and rushed an explanation. "If we continue on our current route, we'll be flying right near Chernobyl – you can give me any punishment you wish, sir but I refuse to fly anyway near there!" he insisted. Vladan looked like he was about to protest but kept his mouth shut. "What's the matter, worried about a little radiation?" Bauer taunted. Vladan glared at him. "No, just... I'm a very time-efficient person. Minor delays I can take, but big delays have me on edge!" he insisted though inside, Bauer knew he was lying. He WAS worried about possibly going over Chernobyl, much like any other person would be. Vladan then turned back to face his pilot who began talking again. "Course change made, sir. We should be overflying the city of Duha within the next 5 minutes, then Kiev in an hour" he explained.
Vladan nodded and turned back to face Bauer. "Looks like we'll be stuck together for longer" he told the American. Bauer nodded and then suddenly stopped. His facial expression changed and he appeared in thought. "Something's not right" he whispered to Vladan, indicating to him to close the small door that enabled contact between him and the pilot. The Russian rose an eyebrow, but turned to close the door. He turned back to face Bauer. "If my geographical knowledge is correct, we've been flying right on the edge of the Belarus-Ukraine border, right?" he asked. "Yeeesss..." Vladan said, unsure of what Bauer was indicating. "Well... Chernobyl is not on the edge of the Ukraine, it's several hours in and even then, I think pilots would be warned if they stray too close to the restricted zone.." he continued. Vladan still looked unsure of what Bauer was trying to say. "We could have stayed on our original route and not at all been worried about whether we'd accidentally fly over Chernobyl or not – why would the pilot take us on a different route when we wouldn't even be flying near such a restricted zone to begin with?". It took a few seconds but Vladan's eyes rose in alarm. "I think that pilot is intentionally flying us into a trap.." Bauer revealed his theory.
Vladan instantly moved to open the small door behind the pilot but it wouldn't budge. Inside the cockpit, the pilot turned off the radio and pulled a small phone out of his shirt pocket. "Go" he said, speaking into the phone. In the main helicopter area, Vladan was trying all he can to open the small door. "WHOEVER IS IN THERE, OPEN THIS DOOR!" he yelled in Russian. Suddenly...
Everyone lurched to the left as a huge bang hit the helicopter and send the whole craft into a spin. One of Vladan's officers fell on top of Bauer whilst the other hit his head on a door, knocking him unconscious. Vladan had kept his balance and was trying everything he could to open the door. Realizing his attempts were futile, Jack pulled his arm out from under the officer that had fallen on him and grabbed Vladan's leg, pulling him down on the officer. The helicopter continued falling and spinning, before hitting the ground at high speed.
The elevator doors to the submarine bay and General Benediktov emerged – he walked down the steps towards the pool of water where the 5-strong group were standing and waiting. "Submarine secured?" he asked Aralica. "Yes General!" the Croatian replied. "Is the submarine fully equipped, Krylenko?" he then asked the Ukraine woman. "Yes, sir! Fully fuelled, fully stocked, it's ready to go!" she replied. The General nodded and turned to two of the other men. "Chadli, Dragusha, set the C-4 on the walls. Let the caves crumble!" he declared and the two men nodded, picking up a large bag full of plastic explosives before splitting up in two directions. The General turned towards the remainder of the group. We leave in 5 minutes, climb aboard the submarine!" he ordered them and turned towards another console as the 3 did as ordered. After pressing a series of buttons on the console, the General looked at the computer screen. "Submarine bay doors will open in 5 minutes – clear the area. Repeat, submarine bay doors will open in 5 minutes – clear the area" it repeated over and over. Benediktov smiled.
"It begins..." he said quietly.
Considering it had hit the ground at high-speed, the helicopter was still pretty much intact. Yes, there was bits of wreckage strewn out over the area but the helicopter as a whole was still in one piece. Inside, Jack groggily regained consciousness. After a few seconds of pushing, he managed to force one of the Russian officers off of him, only to find that he was dead – a piece of wreckage had penetrated his heart and had actually missed him by a mere few centimetres. As he got to his feet, he could smell something exposed... FUEL! He instantly got to his feet and picked up the two machine guns that the dead officers had, just in case. He then stopped and looked back at Vladan, who was starting to stir himself. After a few seconds of debating whether to help or not, Jack's passive side kicked in and he held out a hand to Vladan. "Come on – this helicopter could blow up at any minute" Jack said with urgency. Vladan eyed his hand for a few seconds before accepting. Suddenly, another bang followed and the smell of fuel became even stronger. "Sh*t! COME ON!" Jack yelled and the two raced out of the helicopter, onto the Ukraine ground.
An even louder explosion than when the helicopter hit the ground filled the air. Jack and Vladan were forced down onto the Ukraine grass by the shock-waves of the explosion. More wreckage lay, strewn out by the explosion and surrounding the two. Vladan slowly and uneasily got to his feet as soon as the last explosion appeared to die down. He looked towards the helicopter. "I think we're the only survivors, Bauer. No-one inside there could have survived that..." he said uneasily. Bauer looked at the smouldering remains of the helicopter – thank god he had stirred when he did. "Where... where are we?" Vladan asked, looking around. Jack finally got to this feet and spoke as he did: "That pilot said we were 5 minutes outside the city of Duha. I think we're on the outskirts". He handed Vladan one of the machine guns. "I have a feeling that whoever shot the helicopter down will try and find survivors – we'll be waiting for them" he further explained. Vladan gave an incredulous look.
"Are you serious? If the people that shot us down ARE out there, we can't stay here! We should get to Duha or at least try and find a Russian convoy of sorts!" he protested. "Those options may work for one of us, but it seriously screws the other – if we find a Russian convoy, they'll just shoot me on sight regardless of orders and if we try to go to Duha, the people in that city will not take kindly to seeing a Russian and I'd rather we stay together despite our differences!" Jack pointed out. Vladan knew he was right – they were enemies but as they were stranded in a country with people who would have no qualms of killing either of them on sight, they had to stick together. He was about to stand speaking when they heard what sounded like a rocket launcher. Just seconds later, a bazooka flew past them and hit a large tree. "DOWN!" Jack yelled and the two hit the deck as the tree exploded and fell.
Then from out of the blue, several machine guns could be heard and bullets flew over the two of them. Taking advantage of a few seconds silence, Jack forced his machine gun into the air in the direction of where the guns were coming from and fired non-stop. "OPEN FIRE!" came a loud voice in Russian and a battle of bullets ensued. Vladan was about to join Bauer in the firefight, but then stopped – why was that order in Russian? If someone had shot down the helicopter, why would it be Russians? "Bauer, hold it!" he yelled and crawled over to the large piece of wreckage that was currently keeping them from being spotted. "I know this may seem irrelevant but I heard that order in RUSSIAN!" he explained. Jack was about to give him a look that suggested it was irrelevant but then he stopped. "Are you sure you heard Russian?" he asked. Vladan nodded. "I'll try to get a look and see who's shooting at us" he replied, pulling out a small telescope. Whilst he looked into the grass behind the wreckage, Bauer covered him by starting to fire more rounds of his machine gun.
After a few seconds, Jack stopped firing. "Anything?" he asked. "Yes... I can see... it's a Russian platoon! And... hang on, I recognize that shirt – it's not just Russians, I can see Ukraine rebels!" he said, shocked at the sight he had seen. Jack was just as in shock – Russian soldiers and Ukraine rebels WORKING TOGETHER? Something just didn't seem right. "Are you sure?" he asked. "Positive!" Vladan insisted.
Sitting on some steel waiting seats were Chloe and Belcheck – they had checked in without a hitch and boarding would take place any minute now. Chloe looked up at the airport clock; she had been told boarding would commence nearly 6 minutes ago. Belcheck looked up from the newspaper he had been reading and sighed a bit. "That's the 6th time in the past 10 minutes you've looked at that clock – just relax, they'll make the announcement" he said with a hint of annoyance in his voice. "Sorry" Chloe simply said, a little sheepish. As the clock hit 3:56PM, the airport announcer suddenly spoke: "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen – we are pleased to announce that boarding for United Airlines Flight 681 en-route to Washington DC has now opened. Anyone taking Flight 287 can now join the queue to board, thank you".
Chloe looked up and looked at her ticket. "Flight 681, that's us!" she said and she moved to get up. Belcheck followed, leaving the newspaper on his steel seat. Sitting further back, meanwhile, and in a position where he could clearly see the boarding queue, was a smartly-dressed man with a goatee and beard. He eyed Chloe and Belcheck getting into the boarding queue and pulled a small phone also in the shape of a walkie-talkie out of his jacket pocket. "This is Hermann of Airborne Cell – all members have been accounted for and separated to avoid suspicion. We will engage in 2 hours. A.F.E!" he spoke into it in German before getting up and picking up his briefcase to join the boarding queue.
Inside the near-empty submarine bay, the Yuri Dolgorukiy was finally submerging. At the controls for the Borei-class submarine, Dragusha and Aralica were preparing to take it out of the bay and into the Northern Sea. Chadli was at another control panel, checking the submarine's armament whilst Benediktov, Krylenko and the last member of the group were checking out the rest of the submarine. "We will be clear of base within the next 60 seconds, General" Dragusha spoke into a headset. Below them, the General responded to the Albanian. "Thank you, Dragusha – Chadli, what's the status of the armament?" he asked. "It's exactly as you said, sir – 16 RSM-56 Bulava SLBMs, with 10 of those carrying MIRVed warheads as well as 6 RPK-2 Viyuga cruise missiles complete with their own torpedo tubes!" the Romanian replied to his question.
"Excellent – Divjak, the detonator?" Benediktov turned to the last man, asking in Bosnian. "Yes, General" he pulled a round detonator with a simple red button on the top and handed it to the old Russian. "20 seconds, General!" Aralica said from the control room. The General turned to Krylenko and Divjak. "Get into position, the two of you" he said and the two left, heading off in different directions. "10 seconds!" came Dragusha's voice. The General waited and waited. Finally, the news he wanted came. "We are clear of the submarine bay, General. We are in the Northern Sea!" Aralica said. "I propose you hold on tight up there – we could get some aftershock from the explosions" Benediktov said before finally pressing down on the red button.
Back on the surface, the helicopter was almost filled up with fuel when suddenly...
A loud explosion ripped through the helicopter and because it was still hooked up to the fuel tanks, the fuel went up with it. Fire instantly spread everywhere and to the fuel tanks. A massive fireball ripped through the tanks and straight towards the elevator shaft. At the same time, another explosion ripped through the shaft. Back in the submarine bay, the C-4 that had been secured on the rooms surrounding the bay blew up, bringing down either metal or rocks onto the floor or the water. One explosion actually took place in the water and whilst the Yuri Dolgorukiy had cleared the submarine bay, the General's prediction was true; the submarine felt some of the shock-waves. "Once the shock-waves stop, surface" Benediktov ordered the submarine pilots.
Back on the outskirts of Duha, the battle between Jack, Vladan and the gun-men was continuing with no real outcome starting to show – whilst the gun-men clearly had Jack and Vladan pinned down, they couldn't see them to save their life. "At some point... they'll bring in reinforcements – we need to stop them HERE AND NOW!" Vladan stated just as the gunfire stopped.. "I appreciate that.." Jack whispered, "...but in case you haven't noticed, they'll spot us the moment we move! How do you propose we get out of here?". Vladan sighed and put his hand into his coat. "Not we, Mr. Bauer... You. You're more important and more significant. I'm gonna give you a headstart.." the Russian agent said as he pulled out a hand-grenade. Bauer's eyes rose in horror. "Get ready to run the moment this explodes!" he added before leaping up, over the wreckage and into the grass. Gunfire continued from both ends and Jack moved his head up so he could see. Seconds later, a loud explosion replaced the outline of Vladan.
Jack could just about hear yells of "HIT THE DIRT!" and "GET DOWN!"; or at least he thought that was what was being yelled as he could only hear Russian or Ukrainian. Remembering what Vladan told him, he picked up the gun and used the explosion to run as fast as he could. He had absolutely no idea where he was or how he could avoid running into gun-men all that took a backseat in his mind as he ran and ran and ran.
The Yuri Dolgorukiy had surfaced, quite a stretch out from the Greenland coast but enough to see the large thick clouds of smoke wafting into the air. From the submarine periscope, General Benediktov watched the fire. "Good... people won't find out about the base until after they've put out the fire" he commented. He moved away from the periscope and towards Dragusha. "Is the course set?" he asked the Albanian. "Yes, sir." came the response. At that, Benediktov turned to Aralica. "What is our ETA?" he asked. "At fastest speed underwater, 19 hours, sir" the Croatian replied. "Excellent. Prepare to dive!" the General ordered. "East Coast of America, you won't know what's about to hit you!" he said to himself, giving a smug smile. At that current moment, the Yuri Dolgorukiy was visible to anyone in the area but within 5 seconds, it was untraceable to the eye. It was like a silent predator.