8.1: Part Two
was just slotting the hatch cover back into place when
he heard the sound of the gunshot. It was a noise that
never ceased to grate on his ears, and in a confined environment
like the Boeing, it also meant double the danger –
yes, bullets could kill if they hit a person, but they
could also kill everyone on board if the outer skin of
the plane was ruptured causing decompression.
heart leapt in his chest as he jogged two steps at a time
up the stairs to the upper level. There were raised voices
shouting, but at least no screaming, so he guessed there
probably wasn’t a gaping hole in the side of the
plane to worry about.
On the top step,
he paused, just poking his head out enough to see what
was happening before diving into the situation.
What he saw made
his blood run cold.
Grant was fighting
with one of the passengers, and he still held a gun in
his right hand. He seemed not to care that his incompetence
had already shot someone – but not just anyone –
resisted the urge to rush to his son. He couldn’t
think about one life, he had to think about the many souls
Right now, the
most important thing was to stop Grant.
Mac moved lithely
from the stairs and into the aisle. None of the other
passengers moved to stop him. Most were cowering, terrified
in their seats.
That was good.
There was less chance of someone walking into another
Sam, please be alive…
Two seconds before
Mac was upon him, Grant finally realized he had company
and whirled around.
As his eyes met
MacGyver’s, he just had enough time to register
the anger in them before Mac’s fist hit him square
on the jaw, dropping him with just the one blow.
Mac leaned over,
quickly grabbing the gun from the marshal’s hand
before anyone else could take possession. He dropped the
clip and tucked it in his belt, wishing he could toss
the thing out of an open window.
Around him, the
other passengers were daring to move, and two of them
had grabbed the so called “terrorist”. For
now, that situation was under control, and Mac could finally
get to his son.
Dana, the flight
attendant was already with Sam, and a first aid kit lay
open on the next empty seat. She shook her head, though,
obviously not really knowing what to do with a gunshot
Sam was awake,
but shaking. He looked apologetically at his dad as MacGyver
hunkered down next to him. “I couldn’t let
the little kid take a bullet…”
Mac glanced over
and realized what Sam had done. He should have been proud
of that at least, but he didn’t have time to be.
“It’s okay. We’ll fix you up in no time.
Just sit back and let me take a look.”
Sam glanced down
at the crimson stain already soaking through his shirt.
“I can’t feel anything,” he admitted.
Mac nodded, he’d
taken enough bullets in his time to know how it generally
played out. You didn’t feel anything for maybe fifteen
or twenty minutes sometimes, but then the pain would kick
in so bad you wanted to pass out, and sometimes did. “Trust
me, it’ll hurt later,” he assured, cutting
away Sam’s shirt with his knife to take a closer
The bullet had
passed through Sam’s right shoulder and exited,
and while people tended to think that wasn’t too
serious a wound, MacGyver knew different. You had to be
very lucky for any gunshot not to be dangerous, and in
that area of the human body, there was lots of major blood
vessels, bone, and nerves you could easily damage.
Sam seemed to
read his dad’s expression a little too well. “Bad,
huh?” He coughed.
need to stop you bleeding is all.” Mac smiled wanly
and tried to sound way more confident than he actually
think the bullet had hit an artery, that was one good
thing, but there was very little chance it had missed
Sam’s shoulder blade. And that meant all kinds of
trouble, including shattered bone and maybe severed nerves.
Trying not to
think about odds, and how long Sam could go without real
medical attention, he took a couple of dressings Dana
had offered up and pressed down hard front and back on
the entry and exit holes.
Sam let out a
little gasp, but to his credit, he didn’t pass out.
He coughed again, and then tried to smile. “You
know how I said I couldn’t feel anything? Well I
felt that,” he hissed through gritted teeth.
“Feels like something grinding together in my shoulder.”
Mac bit into
his bottom lip just a little. Shattered bone, then?
And how long before infection sets in? Blood loss? He
didn’t want to think about all the complications
Sam faced without a hospital, but his mind was offering
them up anyway.
He looked over
to Dana. “Can you keep pressure on these?”
He motioned to the dressings. “If they start to
soak through, put more on top. Don’t take these
Dana nodded and
slid her hands into place as MacGyver moved his away.
Mac stared down
at the blood covering his palms and fingers.
Why did this
have to happen now? Why couldn’t it have been him
taking the bullet, not Sam?
Mac had long
since learned that life wasn’t fair, and it never
played out the way you expected or wanted, but this was
plain cruel. They’d spent so little time together.
wouldn’t lose Sam like this, not when it should
have been their first Christmas together.
A shriek from
the back of the cabin shook him from any further melancholy
thoughts, and MacGyver fully expected to have to punch
someone else out or worse.
Instead, as he
glanced up, he realized the cry had come from a little
man that appeared absolutely terrified. The very geeky
looking gent had just exited the toilet compartment, briefcase
in hand, and his eyes were almost popping out at the sight
of Sam’s blood on Mac’s hands.
yelp of alarm, the geek turned tail right on back into
the toilet and slammed the door, locking it for good measure.
Fletcher” huffed, putting down a bunch of knitting
to eye MacGyver uncertainly. “He locked himself
in there when the trouble first began,” she offered
sagely. “Silly little man is obviously a wuss!”
Mac almost gaped
at her brusque attitude, but then couldn’t help
a small smile when she looked over her glasses at him
like an old school teacher.
he’s outta the way in there,” he agreed. “People
who panic like that can make these situations worse.”
nodded, knowingly. “And right now, you’ve
more on your mind than the likes of him.” She looked
over to where Sam was propped, Dana still at his side.
a lot more.” MacGyver turned to look at
Sam, watching him try to chat to the flight attendant.
For now, he was conscious and talking. That meant Mac
needed to turn his attention to saving the plane again.
going to make it. We’re all going to make it.
Mac ignored the
drying blood on his hands and moved back to where the
passengers held both Grant and the suspect.
The Asian didn’t
appear to be scared of the people around him, despite
some of them making veiled threats as MacGyver approached.
Mac didn’t blame them, they were afraid, and this
man might be the cause.
in charge here?” The so called “terrorist”
stared at Mac expectantly.
be me, if only you bozos would listen. I’m employed
by the airline and my title makes me a federal
air marshal.” Grant tried to get up, but a passenger
pushed him back down again. He grunted.
to punch Grant again, just for the hell of it, but he
resisted the temptation. He was a better man than that.
“I think you’ve done enough damage, Grant.”
He looked to the Asian man. “You mind telling us
why the lady over there thinks she’s seen you on
T.V.? As a bomb maker, no less?”
The man shrugged.
“Because its’ true, I was featured on a documentary
for shall we say, having certain beliefs. But
I’m on this flight for the same reason as everyone
else. To get to L.A.”
supposed to buy that?” Marvin huffed.
the Asian admitted. “But it’s the truth. My
wife has just had our first son, and I was on my way to
see him when this happened. Believe me, I’ve no
wish to die without seeing my firstborn.”
the man, and for some unknown reason, actually trusted
what he was saying. Maybe it was because he’d only
just found his own son, and he knew what that felt like.
Maybe it was
the sincerity in the man’s face as he spoke about
the child. There was love there, Mac was sure, and a father’s
But if that was
true, then where did that leave them with the plane?
Not to mention,
Mac doubted the other passengers would so easily buy the
He was right
about that, too.
poked the man with the tip of her knitting needle just
enough to make him jump. She apparently still didn’t
like sitting near him. “I saw what you did on that
show, and I still think you’re at the bottom of
within your rights to suspect me,” the man sighed.
“Do with me what you will, but it won’t solve
any of our problems.”
I punch you out anyway,” Grant growled. “It
would sure solve one of my problems…”
Mac held up a
hand. “Look, folks, whether this man is responsible
or not, we still need to focus on what we do next.”
themselves wasn’t going to get the Boeing on the
ground or Sam to a hospital.
he was starting to form another possible scenario in his
mind – what if this whole thing revolved around
him? Or at the very least whatever Pete had wanted him
so urgently about?
After all, Sam’s
bike being stolen, and then the mysterious message and
tickets from Pete, it just didn’t add up.
Then a name flicked
into Mac’s mind, and he instantly wished it hadn’t.
This whole mad
situation just stank of his zany M.O.
The thought tumbled
around in MacGyver’s head until he felt almost dizzy.
But there was no time for conjecture, not while Sam lay
Mac turned to
Marvin, thinking he might at least have some common sense.
“Just watch him,” he pointed to the Asian.
“No fighting, no taking revenge – we don’t
know that he’s done anything for sure.”
a little taken aback, but nodded. “He’s going
now I need to find a way to talk to the authorities…”
Mac was about to head back up to the cockpit, but “Jessica’s”
voice stopped him.
you just use a phone?”
Mac stopped mid-stride.
The Boeing had the customary Airfones built into the back
of the first class seats, but the bad guy was far too
clever to have overlooked those, wasn’t he?
Mac had to try
anyway; it might be their only hope.
He moved to the
nearest Airfone and quickly examined it for more booby
traps. There didn’t appear to be any outward signs
of danger, but then the bad guy they were dealing with
was quite capable of rewiring things internally.
That was the
risk he had to take.
Sucking in a
deep breath, Mac tugged the phone from its slot and was
relieved when he didn’t immediately fry. He put
the unit to his ear and was surprised to find it still
But would it
dial out, and who should he try first?
There were two
options, the authorities at LAX, or Pete Thornton.
After a moment’s
consideration, he chose Pete.
The whole Airfone
system was known for not being reliable and having drop
outs, and if he spoke to Pete, then he could kill two
birds with one stone, as Pete would in turn talk to the
Not to mention,
he’d finally get to know what Pete had wanted him
for, and if it was connected to what was happening.
that, why is this phone working at all? The guy who rigged
this plane isn’t that stupid to have overlooked
Mac ignored the
alarm bells singing out in his brain and dialed Pete’s
office at Phoenix, hoping his old friend was in despite
the late hour.
After three rings,
Pete answered without it even going through to his secretary.
give him chance to say anything more than his name.
thank heavens…” The line hissed with static
as MacGyver spoke, and for a second he thought it was
going to be cut.
I thought you were still doing your whole born to be wild
thing with Sam?” There was mirth in Pete’s
voice – he hadn’t a clue that Mac wasn’t
still on his road trip.
you didn’t leave a message at our motel that you
needed help? No plane tickets?” Mac already knew
the answer, but he had to ask anyway.
would I? Mac, is everything okay?”
waiting for more static to clear before trying to explain
everything as fast as he could. “No, we’re
not okay, Pete. We took the flight back to LAX that was
on the tickets, except it never arrived. We’re still
on it headed out to sea. The pilot’s dead, co-pilot’s
out cold, and…” He couldn’t quite bring
himself to say it.
There was real concern in Pete’s voice now.
hurt. There’s an air marshal on board and he got
a little too gun happy with one of the passengers. Sam
took the bullet,” Mac’s voice cracked as the
last word left his lips.
want to answer. He didn’t want to admit that Sam
could actually die if they didn’t turn the plane
the lack of an answer implicitly and didn’t push
further. “Do you know why? Who is behind this?”
I thought maybe just your run of the mill hijacking, but
if you add in the fake message and tickets, this all has
to be aimed at me somehow.” MacGyver paused, thinking
of all the times his arch nemesis had played these silly
games. “Pete, what if it’s Murdoc? If he’s
discovered I have a son, it would make Sam a prime target.”
is you’ve ticked off way more than Murdoc in your
time. Mac, the list of possible people behind this could
be endless.” Pete sounded frustrated. “Look,
the best thing we can do is for me to liaise right away
with the authorities on this. I’ll deal with the
airport, police and anyone else I need to. You just look
after Sam, and watch your back.”
a passenger manifest.” MacGyver was still thinking,
working out every possible angle. Somebody somewhere knew
what was going on, and he was running out of time to find
out who. “And any information you can get about
the people on that manifest, Pete. Any skeletons in the
closet, right down to parking tickets.”
more thing – I need an avionics expert for a Boeing
747 on the line as soon as you can.” Mac took a
second, thinking about the device he’d seen. He
hadn’t mentioned it to the passengers, and they
might be listening now. He still didn’t want to
panic them. Not yet. “I have some questions.”
I’ll get to work on it all right away.”
the line open, Pete. I don’t know if I can get a
connection again if we lose it.” Mac ushered Dana
over as he spoke. “Can you hold the phone and keep
the line?” He asked, putting a hand over the mike
even though he didn’t need to.
Dana nodded and
took the Airfone, but she looked worried.
Mac noticed instantly.
two things…” Dana seemed almost reluctant
to answer. “First, Dean is awake.” She pointed
over to where they’d left the co-pilot and he was
sitting up on the chair, rubbing his head like he had
bad?” Great, I don’t have to land this
bird on my own after all.
Dana looked almost
apologetic as her gaze shifted to another seat. “No…but
it’s Sam. He’s not doing so well.”
need her to say anything else. Leaving the phone in her
capable care, he scooted to Sam’s side, trying to
keep a smile on his face.
Sam looked up
as he approached, and Mac could see fear in his son’s
eyes. And why wouldn’t there be? This was the first
time Sam had taken a bullet, and hopefully the last.
Mac had taken
a few in the line of duty over the years, and it wasn’t
an experience he wished on his son. The irony, though,
was that somehow MacGyver had always gotten away with
it. Most had been flesh wounds, and those that hadn’t
had always managed to miss anything vital.
Sam have been so lucky?
“Do I look
that bad?” Sam pulled a face as Mac kneeled
by his side. “I feel that bad,” he admitted.
“And…I can’t feel my arm so much…”
probably damaged some nerves,” Mac replied honestly.
What he wasn’t
so honest about was what his own experience was telling
Sam was pale,
and every now and then he slurred his words. He was getting
sleepy, and keeping awake was going to get harder and
appeared to have stopped, but it was the amount Sam had
already lost that was causing the problem. He was going
into shock, and no duct tape or pen knife was going to
This is my
fault. Someone has a grudge against me, and Sam has had
to pay the price.
kinda cold.” Sam shivered and then blinked like
he was trying to keep focused.
ever get close to gets hurt or worse…
Mac reached up
and pulled out a blanket from the overhead locker, laying
it gently over his son. “You just stay awake for
me, okay? I might need your help later, so no snoozing.”
and even that seemed an effort. “I already snoozed
Beauty, except for the extra snoring,” Mac tried
to tease, to make Sam forget all the pain and fear for
a moment, but his mind still screamed that this was going
to end badly.
A voice thankfully
broke him from that thought.
It was Dana, and she was holding out the Airfone. “Your
friend needs to speak to you.”
Mac laid hand
on Sam’s good shoulder for a second reassuringly.
“I’ll be back soon.”
save the plane, dad,” Sam whispered as MacGyver
moved away. “Just do what you always do…”
Mac took the
phone from Dana and was relieved to hear Pete’s
voice once again. It was funny how a portly blind man
with very little hair and a penchant for junk food could
be so comforting, but Pete was all that and more.
looked up to Pete for years, and that would never change.
what ya got for me?”
your avionics expert as promised.” There was a click
on the line as Pete pressed the conference button, letting
everyone join in the conversation despite being in different
employee didn’t waste time on small talk. “How
can I help?” His question was simple, but that was
all it needed to be.
was in the avionics bay wasn’t going to be so easy.
Mac took a second
to bring the picture back into his head before beginning
his description of what had been tampered with.
a small black box in the corner that almost every system
has been wired into,” he recounted after giving
a few more details. “It seems to cycle through those
systems every few minutes, but I have no idea what each
one does, or what we’d lose if I tried to disarm
The expert took
a breath so deep even Mac heard it down the line. “From
what you’re describing, your terrorist has rigged
the plane’s systems into a bomb that plays Russian
roulette. I think it’s running random sequences
and if anyone tries to disarm it or its maker activates
it, then whatever sequence it’s on at the time is
what systems it takes out.”
suspected as much, but that didn’t tell him what
it would take out. “Any ideas what we’d lose
if it’s activated?” he asked.
on the information you’ve given; I’d say it’ll
take out three vital functions in any one sequence. Trim
control, cabin pressure, landing gear, fuel management,
the picture,” MacGyver cut in. “Any way of
telling which three will go together?”
if you could watch it for awhile and tell me what system
lights are going on and off as it goes through the various
sequences?” The expert didn’t sound all that
Mac rubbed at
his temple. “So, basically, if I try to diffuse
this thing or disengage the autopilot and it activates,
we won’t even know what systems are going to go
down until it happens. That’s just great…”
Pete joined in
the conversation, his tone suggesting he was getting annoyed
by both the device, and its maker. “This has to
be the weirdest bomb ever. It doesn’t actually kill
outright, unless its maker presses a trigger.”
it causes massive avionics malfunctions that will bring
us down anyway,” Mac pointed out. “It’s
like whoever is behind this wants to torment us before
he makes the kill.”
still thinking Murdoc?” Pete asked.
know.” MacGyver shook his head. “What I do
know is that its one device my skills in bomb disposal
won’t work on. I can’t beat it, Pete.”
maybe we can cheat it.” The Boeing guy offered.
“It’s a massive risk, and I think we should
still attempt to find the person who built it to try and
get them to disarm it first.”
we can’t?” Pete didn’t sound happy.
he knew where the expert was going. “I think he
means we cut off the autopilot and let it activate the
device, Pete, but hopefully on the right sequence that
won’t make us explode in midair.” He looked
over to Sam’s pallid form huddled under the blanket.
“All I know is whatever we’re going to try,
it has to be fast. I don’t think our bad guy has
finished playing with us yet. And Sam isn’t doing
There was a slight
pause and MacGyver thought he heard the rustling of paper
coupled with a very familiar voice. He waited, hoping
it was good news at last.
spoke again. “I think we might be able to help with
finding your man. Nikki’s been working hard on this
since you got in touch, and she’s dug up some interesting
information from the manifest.”
Mac was surprised
to hear Nikki was back at head office, but was glad she’d
been there for Pete in his own absence. In fact, he was
glad she was there right now, probably about to save his
hide along with two hundred other passengers.
that one of the passengers on board – one Roger
Mariotte has served time for fraud. But listen to this,
not just any fraud. He was running an electronics company
making sub-standard circuits that were in turn going to
be sold as "A" grade to Boeing. If they’d
actually have been fitted, those parts could easily have
malfunctioned and caused a crash.”
guy would know all the systems on board this plane and
how to mess with them.” MacGyver theorized. “He
has all the right credentials, and maybe a motive. Except
for one thing.”
Pete sounded puzzled.
“I don’t know the man, and I’ve never
even heard of this case. Why would I be a target? I mean,
c’mon, this has to be linked to me, or why those
tickets for this flight and the phony note from you?”
There was a pause
while Pete obviously thought about it. “You’re
right. It doesn’t make sense. I get that Mariotte
might think Boeing is a target in some warped way because
of the time he served in jail. But why pick on you?”
I think we’ve already accused the wrong man once
already, maybe Mariotte isn’t our guy either? Having
a motive is one thing, but there’s no evidence.
All we have is a plane flying itself and two hundred passengers
on borrowed time.”
what?” Frustration was creeping back into Pete’s
voice, and MacGyver could just picture him sitting in
his office feeling helpless.
But that wasn’t
going to help them. Only one thing was – direct
Mariotte,” Mac sighed. “And then we confront
him, and hope he doesn’t have a gun or the bomb
trigger in his hand…”