Author's Note: This is my first fanfic, so I hope I have respected all the rules. It started out as just Sentinel characters, but MacGyver kept sneaking in. Finally, I gave up and welcomed him to the party. Many thanks to Sharon, Fran, and Tapu for reading it, then giving me comments and moral support. You can send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org Enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. I'm borrowing them out of deep reverence, affection and respect. I will accept only personal fulfillment, and no monetary gain.
Rated PG-13, mostly for language.
C. L. Combs
Thursday, 1:05 p.m., Cascade Police Headquarters
Detective James Ellison nearly turned around when he saw the tilting pile of paperwork stacked in his inbox. Only his sense of responsibility forced his feet to stay on course to his desk. After spending all morning in court, he wasn't in the mood for it. Nor would his partner be able to help him for at least a couple more days. Blair Sandburg was working long hours at the University this week, preparing for mid-terms and finishing his own papers. Jim had barely seen his roommate as he dashed in and out. However, spring break would start in a couple days. Then Blair would be free to help him catch the criminals, or at least tame the paperwork.
Guess I'd better sort it out according to priority, or at least what can wait for Sandburg, and what can't. Ellison sat down on his chair, and immediately heard a loud click. A very ominous click. Jim looked up, and called to the first person he saw, "Hey, Brown."
Brown barely slowed down as he walked past his desk, concentrating on the folder in his hands. "Yeah?"
"I need you to do me a favor "
Brown briefly glance up in annoyance. "What? Now?"
"It might be urgent."
The tense tone of Ellison's voice finally penetrated Brown's preoccupation. He raised his head again, and saw the stony expression on Jim's face. Oh, oh. "What's wrong?"
"Will you check under my chair."
Brown briefly wondered if Ellison was trying to pull something on him, but there wasn't a bit of humor on his face. He walked around Jim's desk, knelt beside his chair, and glanced underneath. What he saw blew any other thought out of his head. "Oh my god," he whispered to Jim. "There's a bomb."
"Damn!" Jim softly swore.
At that moment, Captain Simon Banks stopped at Ellison's desk. "Hey Jim, have you finished the paperwork on the McMillin case yet?" Looking down, Simon paused when he saw Jim's face. "Jim?"
Brown stood up and repeated, "There's a bomb under Jim's chair."
"Oh, hell." Simon immediately took charge. "Brown, find Taggart. I'll start evacuating the floor. Jim, hang in there, I'll be right back."
Jim looked Simon in the eye. "Don't rush back on my account. Get to safety." Simon rolled his eyes in response, and quickly annouced the bomb's presence to his people in the room.
Jim closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. Who on earth got past all the policemen in this building, and managed to place a bomb under his chair? He started running down the list of people who he had ticked off enough to blow him up. It was a long list.
MacGyver entered Joel Taggart's office, chuckling at his friend's joke. The nice thing about these recruiting trips for Pete was that he could catch up with old friends. Taggart had been his best student in an advance explosives class sponsored by the Phoenix Foundation. During the course, he had become friends with the huge policeman. He looked around, noticing the high pile of paperwork. "Joel, that looks like quite a stack for a quiet city like Cascade."
Joel laughed. "Hey, don't let it fool you. It often feels like Cascade is the most dangerous city in America."
Mac frowned. "Why? You guys having some kind of a crime spree?"
Joel shook his head, still laughing. "No, not really. It just seems like we are a magnet for trouble lately. You won't believe some of the stories I have to tell you."
Suddenly, a round-faced man with frightened eyes skidded through the door, panting. "Taggart! There's a bomb!"
All humor was wiped from Joel's face. "Where?"
"Under Ellison's chair. And he's sitting in it!"
"Damn!" Taggart lumbered out the door past the officer. Mac followed him, beginning to see what Joel meant.
Taggart walked swiftly into the room and straight to Ellison. Mac stopped near the detective's desk. Ellison appeared to be a tough man in his mid-thirties, with a military bearing. Mac noted the tightness in the man's face, and the intelligent spark in his cold blue eyes.
"Hey, Jim," Joel greeted him with a subdued voice, awkwardly getting down on his knees. "You know, if you wanted to see me, you just had to invite me over for some of Blair's chili." He ducked his head under Jim's chair to examine the bomb.
Jim continued to sit as still as possible, feeling the tension in every single muscle. "Actually, I haven't had Blair's chili in a while, either. He's been pretty busy. Besides, I'd rather have chili without the ostrich." Why is it that everyone, including a bomb expert, was quiet around a bomb? Perhaps it was to prevent yourself from exploding with the stress.
"Oh, I don't know," Taggart continued absently, tilted his head the other way to get a better view. "I think it's pretty good with the ostrich. As long as I limit myself to two bowls."
Simon cautiously walked back to Jim's desk, after seeing the rest of his division safely out the door. He eyed the blond man at Jim's desk with surprise. "Who are you?"
Before Mac could answer, Joel replied from under the chair, "Simon, that's MacGyver, the man who taught me all the practical stuff I know about bombs. Mac, that's Captain Simon Banks, and my friend in the hot seat is Detective Jim Ellison." Mac nodded to both stern-faced men.
Simon came directly to the point. "How does it look, Joel?"
Joel pulled his head back, and started opening his case. "Well, I don't see a timer. Looks like it is pressure-activated."
Simon glanced at Jim's terse face, then turned back to Joel. "Is that good or bad?"
"Good in that I don't have to race the clock. Bad in that any movement by Jim could blow us all sky high."
Simon looked at Jim. "I suggest you don't move."
A faint smile made a brief appearance. "Wasn't planning to."
Simon, encouraged, added, "At least it isn't Sandburg in that chair, or we'd all be gone by now." Joel chuckled as he ducked back under the chair, and Jim gave another small smile. It was hard for the energetic young man to stay still for any length of time.
"Where is Sandburg, by the way?"
"Safe at the University. Otherwise, with his luck, he'd be sitting in this chair."
Thursday, 1:15 p.m., Balsam Hall, Rainier University
Blair glanced at the clock. He had another 5 minutes of class to review the material on the mid-term. Then he'd have an hour to eat the sandwich he'd picked up that morning, and review some of his notes from last night's lecture on ancient Zimbabwe before his office hours started. He expected another long line of students asking questions or requesting help for the tests tomorrow. Man, he hoped Jim was having more fun. Blair returned his focus to a student raising her hand.
Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Cascade Police Headquarters
"I already have Brown checking into your past cases, to see who could have pulled this stunt. Do you have any ideas?"
Jim was about to shake his head, then decided against even that small movement. "No. Anyone I can think of who could pull this off is either dead or behind bars."
Simon glanced at MacGyver, then asked, "How about during your time with Covert Ops?"
"Maybe. But no one person is jumping out at me." Jim could feel his legs beginning to cramp up. He tried to relax like Blair had taught him.
Both Jim and Simon froze, staring at each other. It wasn't a good sign when you bomb expert swore. Mac restrained an urge to shove himself under the chair to check his former student's work. "What's wrong?" Simon asked softly.
"There isn't a detonator here. Just a cable leading to Jim's PC."
Realizing it would be nearly impossible for the imposing Taggart to inspect the computer under the desk without disturbing Ellison, Mac softly stated, "I'll check." He squeezed past Ellison's legs, and took the screwdriver Joel handed to him from under the chair.
In the tense silence, Jim could hear Joel's friend gently easing the screws off computer case. Also, he realized Simon was holding his breath. "Simon, why don't you check what's happening outside?" Why should all of us blow up? If we did, who would look after Daryl? Who would break the news to Blair?
"No way. You're under my command, and my responsibility." And a good friend.
"I said no. Not unless Taggart tells me to run for it."
"What the..." came from under the desk.
"What is it?" Simon asked, urgently praying it wasn't time to run yet.
Mac's puzzled voice slowly replied, "There is a message taped to the hard drive. It says, 'Galileo was here.' "
"Galileo!" Simon exploded. He had enough of that arrogant SOB months ago. Galileo had dropped a elevator holding hostages five floors at a time just as a diversion to rob a gold bullion exchange. If it hadn't been for Sandburg's quick action, he and the other hostages would have died when Galileo triggered a bomb inside. "He should be in a cell, not making bombs!"
Suddenly, Jim's PC screen snapped to life. As Joel pulled himself out from under the chair, Jim and Simon watched as Frank Rachins, also known as Galileo, appeared.
"Hello, boys! Welcome to my circus." Jim clenched his jaw, wishing the man in front of him was actually present so he could smash a fist into his face again. "In the near ring is the Keystone cops trying to defuse a bomb that's not connected." Mac stood up then, and turned to the screen. "And in the far ring, we have a magic act featuring the disappearing Anthropology student. Have fun!" The screen turned off.
Jim, Simon, and Joel turned to each other. "SANDBURG!" The inoperative bomb forgotten, Ellison grabbed his phone.
Thursday, 1:25 p.m. Rainier University campus
Blair shoved his hands in his pockets as he hunched his shoulders against the cold air. He walked past the newly renovated business building, gazing at the new stonework. "Not just 'the business building' anymore", he reminded himself, "Boy, is that change going to be tough to get use to. Thankfully, I've never have to go into the business building."
As Blair walked by the shrubbery near the Admin. building, a muffled cell phone ring emitted from his backpack. Pausing for a moment, Blair dropped his shoulder, sliding the pack down his arm to his hand, and swung it up to his other hand. As he pulled the zipper, a hand clasped a cloth to his face, and an arm grabbed his waist to pull him into the bushes. Blair had barely began to struggle when his vision blurred. "Chloroform." was Blair's last thought as he fell into blackness.
Thursday, 1:50 p.m. Rainier University campus
Suzanne Tomacki was waiting when Jim's truck pulled into a parking lot behind Hargrove Hall. She liked and respected Jim Ellison, and wished she had better news for him. She had noted the strong friendship between the detective and Blair Sandburg, and knew this had to be rough on him.
Jim jumped out of the truck, and walked towards her. "Anything?"
Suzanne shook her head. "I have my people scouting the entire area between here and the building Sandburg was teaching class. They are now spreading out to the other main buildings on campus. All we know is that Blair held his class, talked a few minutes with a couple students, and was last seen headed towards his office. It doesn't look like he made it this far."
"Damn!" It had only been a half hour since Blair's class ended. Jim could hardly believe his friend disappeared so fast with no witnesses on the busy campus. He didn't want to think of what else could happen to him within that time.
Simon and Joel walked up to them. "Captain, this is Suzanne Tomacki, chief of campus security. Suzanne, this is my Captain, Simon Banks, and Joel Taggart, our bomb expert."
"Bomb expert?" Suzanne shook each man's hand, but gave Taggart an uneasy look after Jim's introduction.
"Ms Tomacki, last time we worked against this guy, he had an elevator wired to explode, plus a backup bomb. Already this afternoon he had a bomb planted under Ellison's chair. Cpt Taggart is here as a precaution." Simon explained.
"You mean I have some kind of a mad bomber loose on my campus, possibly with a hostage, and nobody told me?" Suzanne took pride in her campus' safety. She didn't like the sound of this at all.
"We were only notified minutes after Rachin's message that he had escaped from prison. At this point, we are not even sure if he would still have Sandburg on campus. They may be long gone." Simon could see Jim's jaw clench, but knew he was speaking the truth.
Suzanne sighed. "Well, the timing could be better. We have a big dedication ceremony tonight, with several important guests coming in."
"Dedication ceremony? For what?" Jim asked.
"The newly renovated business building. It's being renamed Wilkinson Hall, in honor of Mr. Malcom Wilkinson who donated the funds."
"Wilkinson!" all three men shouted. They looked at each other, a feeling of foreboding creeping over them.
Suzanne was liking this less and less. "What's going on here? How do you know Wilkinson?"
Jim unclenched his jaw to give Suzanne the bad news. "You know the elevator Simon mentioned? Well, it was in the Wilkinson Tower. Mr. Wilkinson was the target of the ransom demand, and Frank Rachin is Mr. Wilkinson's very unhappy ex son-in-law."
Suzanne closed her eyes a moment. This sounded like a disaster in the making, right on her peaceful campus. "Sounds like I will need some help." Her radio squawked, and she immediately answered.
"Chief, you better get back here quick."
Now what? "What is the problem, Kevin?"
"We just got a bomb threat."
Suzanne closed her eyes again, guessing where this is going. "I'll be right there."
"Oh, and do you know how to contact a Detective James Ellison?"
Suzanne traded 'oh oh' looks with Jim. "He is right here, why?"
"He'd better hear this too."
Thursday, 2:20 p.m.
Slowly, Blair crept back into consciousness. He could feel the cold rough floor beneath his cheek, and listened quietly to the silence around him. Remembering the incident outside the Admin Building, he opened his eyes cautiously. The cement room was circular, lit by a very dim bulb. It was also cold. Blair groggily sat up, and rubbed his hands up and down his arms. His coat was gone, but at least he wasn't tied up. Above, he could barely make out a hatch in the shadows above the light.
Blair's mind swirled with questions. Where am I? What's happening? Who did this to me? Why? Has anyone missed me yet? Does Jim know? Who's going to hold my office hours? How do I get myself into these things?
Finally, he took a deep breath to halt his frantic thoughts. Okay, what do I know? Apparently, I was abducted outside the Admin. Building. Did any one see me? Well, no, that area is kinda isolated. I just take it as a shortcut. Was I a random victim, or did someone want me specifically? Well, not enough info to know that. Wait a minute! My cell phone was ringing just before it happened. Jim is the main person who uses that number he should at least know I didn't answer. Was he calling to warn me about something, or just asking if I'd be home for dinner? Again, no info. Damn, what do they want! Do they want ransom, extortion, revenge, or is it just some psycho who wants to play games?
Blair jumped up, and started to pace. What is this place? Some kind of a cement icebox?
Suddenly, a voice boomed, echoing around Blair. "Are you awake yet?"
Blair jumped, then turned in a circle, looking for the source. "Who the hell are you?" he shouted. Finally, he spotted a tiny speaker next to the light bulb.
"Good. Just wanted to make sure you don't miss the next act in my circus."
"Circus? What circus?" Blair paused. "Are you there?" Pause. "HELLLLLOOOOO". No response.
"Well," Blair muttered to himself. "That answers one question. This is definitely some psycho."
Thursday, 2:24 p.m., Hargrove Hall, Rainier University
MacGyver carefully checked around and under the desk while Joel inspected the computer and its monitor. "Nothing here." Mac stated as he crawled back out.
"Nothing here, either." Joel sighed. "Guess Rachin didn't need to leave any surprises in Blair's office." A picture taped to the wall caught his eye.
Mac could hear the worry in his friend's voice, and understood. On the drive to the University, Taggart had given him the history of his friendship with the young observer. Also, many in the long line of students waiting for Sandburg had expressed concern for the well-liked teacher, in spite of the inconvenience his disappearance caused. Mac was hoping he'd have the chance to meet the young man. He sounded just like the type of person Pete was looking for. Standing up, Mac followed Joel's gaze. The picture was of a black teenager and a slim white man with long brown hair. Both were standing on a riverbank, smiling and holding up fish.
Feeling Mac's questioning glance, Joel sighed again. "Blair and Simon's son, Daryl. Heard they really torn into the fish last time they went camping. Simon and Jim were almost skunked." Joel turned away and shook his head. "This has got to be tearing Ellison apart. He and Blair are like brothers, and Jim doesn't let many people in."
Mac studied the picture again. Infectious enthusiasm filled the young man's eyes, along with the intelligence and compassion that Joel had mentioned. He can't be much older than Sam. Plus, he looks familiar... To Joel, he asked, "Where is Blair from?"
Joel replied thoughtfully, "Actually, my impression is that he and his mother traveled around a lot, so he was never in one place for very long. Why?"
Mac shrugged. "He just looks familiar." But at that moment, whether due to the similarities to Sam, or the vast amount of potential he suspected was in the young man, Mac realized he had to help rescue Blair Sandburg.
Joel checked Blair's clock. "Well, Jim and Simon should know more about what's going on soon. Guess I'd better check in with my teams."
Thursday, 2:29 p.m., Campus Security Office, Rainier University
Jim tried to pace in Suzanne's tiny, crammed office, but kept tripping over boxes and books. He felt like a tightly wound spring, ready to release violently at any moment. Blair had become the friendly kid brother Jim always wished he had, whose safety was Jim's responsibility. It was irritating not to be able to dash to his rescue. Instead, his friend had become a pawn in a game Jim didn't understand yet. He could only hope the incoming phone call provided some answers.
Suzanne and Simon entered. Simon glanced at Jim, leery of accidentally setting off volcano Ellison. Suzanne glanced at the clock, and commented, "It's nearly time."
Ellison also glanced at the clock. Blair had been missing over an hour now. "Is Taggart's unit in position?"
Simon nodded. "They are ready to move in as soon as we know something."
"Do you really think this guy will tell us anything useful?" Suzanne asked. She had been on edge ever since learning of the bomb threat via email. It stated that instructions would be phoned in at 2:30. It also ordered Ellison to be present.
"Believe me, this man has one of the biggest egos I've ever seen. He will tell us something." Simon hated even thinking about the man, especially when it looked like he had Sandburg.
"Yeah, but it might just be a diversion," Jim slowly added. "He organizes everything, accounting for every move we will make. He easily diverted our attention last time with the hostages, just to hide his real objective. The only reason he failed was his wife's timely confession, and Sandburg's quick thinking with the bomb."
"Great," Suzanne replied. "So which is the diversion? Abducting Sandburg, or the bomb?"
At that moment, the phone rang. Suzanne paused, then pushed the speaker phone button. "Chief of security Tomacki, " she answered.
"Hello, Suzanne Tomacki. I am Galileo. Happy to make your acquaintance." The tension increased in the room as Jim and Simon recognized Rachin's voice.
Just the man's smooth, arrogant voice was giving Suzanne the creeps. "What do you want?"
"Nice and to the point. I think I will like you, " the voice purred. "What I want is what I always want. Money and lots of it. Especially if it comes from Malcom Wilkinson. Which brings me to my first demand. Please have Wilkinson here by 5 p.m. tonight. Then I can make my money order to the main person."
"All right," Suzanne responded, wondering how the trace was doing.
"Now, of course my old buddy Ellison is with you."
Jim grimly replied, "What do you want, Rachin?"
"Galileo to you. And unless you speak nicely to me, who knows what might happen to your little observer friend."
"I want to speak with him," Jim requested, fighting his anger.
"Well, of course. Here you go." Click.
Suddenly, Jim's voice echoed in Blair's cement cell. "Sandburg?"
"Jim?" Blair called out, halting at the sound.
"Are you okay, Chief?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, just a little cold. Hey, what's going on here?" Silence. "Jim?"
"Oh hell," Sandburg slapped his hand against the wall, then shook it as it began to sting. "Guess that answers another couple questions. Jim knows I'm gone because I'm being used against him."
"Yeah, I'm fine, just a little cold. Hey, what's..."
Jim clenched his jaw as he heard Sandburg's voice cut off. At least it didn't sound like he was hurt, or even that scared. Mostly, he sounded confused. Did he even know he was being held hostage by Galileo again?
"What do you want, Ra...Galileo."
"Good boy. I want you and Mr. Fix-it here to stay out of way, since the two of you ruined my plans last time. So unless you want your friend to blow up with my finale, I suggest you back off."
"Like Hell," Jim thought to himself.
"Well, guess I'll have to wait until 5 to hear your beautiful voice again, Ms Tomacki. Until then!" Static.
"Well, I guess that means you're off the case, Jim," Suzanne sighed.
"Maybe off the bomb and Wilkinson. I'm still searching for Sandburg."
Thursday, 2:44 p.m.
Sandburg continued to pace in a circle, both to keep warm and to aid his furious thoughts. "So, I've been abducted, and the target is Jim. Why? I doubt it's for money, so it must be either revenge, a trap, or to force him to do something. DAMN! I hate being used, especially against Jim. There has got to be a way to stop this. There has got to be a way out of this." Blair slowed down, "Out of this..." He stopped to examine the wall in front of him. There were holes, arranged in rows, going up the side of the wall. Plus, Blair could barely make out a small tab of concrete jutting out just above his head. "There must have been shelves all along these walls." Tilting his head back, Blair tried to make out the door above him, wishing he had Ellison's night vision. Could he get it open when he got there? Could he even see it there in the shadow? Blair checked his pockets. Apparently the psycho hadn't, because he pulled out his pocket knife and his keys. Attached to the key chain was a tiny lantern Molly had given him because 'it looked so cute'. Testing it, it provide a bit of light, brighter than the current source Blair had. He smiled. It might just be enough to get out of here. He began untying his shoes.
Thursday, 3:00 p.m., Rainier University Campus
Ellison was through arguing. With Simon occupied directing his men, Suzanne trying to reach Mr. Wilkinson, and Galileo forbidding Jim to be involved, it was time to use his senses to find Sandburg. Jim started at Balsam Hall, at the door where Sandburg was most likely to have left the building to walk to his office. Looking around, Jim spotted several students grouped together and pointing. He focused his hearing on them.
"I saw another guy in a dark jacket and a dog over by the student center."
"I wonder if it has something to do with Campus security being all over the place right after lunch."
"They must be after some kind of a drug ring."
"Yeah, I heard they were cracking down..."
Jim pulled back. At least the student body wasn't in a mass panic yet. Most will probably forget about it in their rush to leave for Spring Break.
Taking a deep breath, Jim started using his senses to scan for signs of his missing friend. Mostly concentrating on sight, but using smell and hearing to prevent a zone out, he began to retrace the route to Sandburg's office.
Thursday, 3:05 p.m.
"Ow!" Blair gasped as his foot slipped off the cement tab, bashing his knee against it. Somehow, he managed to keep his fingers gripping the two holes above him. His boots, tied to the belt loop of his jeans, banged against his thighs. Blair stared at the wall in front of his nose, trying to steady his breathing and not look down. He suspected he had climbed high enough to do some damage if he lost his hold, but didn't want to confirm it. Instead, he glanced up. Only another foot to the hatch above. In the dimness, he could make out a latching mechanism. With a little luck, maybe he could open it. Cautiously, he placed his sock covered foot on the tab again, and gently pressed his weight. This time, his toes were able to support his weight, though the knee throbbed, and wetness was soaking through the torn jeans. Blair continue to find holes to grip up the final foot to the hatch.
Perched precariously on the final two cement tabs at the top of the room, Blair pulled out the tiny lantern from his shirt pocket. Pressing it, he studied the crossing metal bars above him. It didn't look too hard to open, as long as it wasn't locked on the topside, and providing that he could figure out a way to reach it without falling to his death below. Carefully, Blair shifted his balance on the tabs, trying to stretch out to the latch while not putting extra weight on the sore knee. With his fingertips, he tried moving the bar. No, it was too far for the fingers to push. Shifting back again, he carefully sought more foot and hand holds sideways around the room, adjusting to a better position to the bar. Again, Blair shifted around, and stretched. Fingertips touch the bar, then pushed. It moved. Encouraged, Blair stretched to the maximum, gritting his teeth against the throbbing knee, and was able to push the bar further.
Instantly, the hatch flew open. Blair nearly lost his balance, expecting to face a psycho on the other side. Instead, only dim light and damp smells greeted him. Must be on a spring. Carefully, Blair grasped the rim of the portal with first one hand, then the other, then pushed himself through.
After crawling a couple feet away from the hole, Blair turned and sat up. Another dim bulb lit up a section of damp tunnel. Pipes ran along the walls, which opened to three other tunnels. Blair gently checked his gashed and bruised knee through the new hole in his jeans, then studied his surroundings. The area was too big to be just a basement, and it didn't smell like a sewer. Where was he? Though a bigger question was, where was the psycho? Blair didn't plan to hang around and find out. Quickly, he untied his boots from his belt loop, and brushed off his socks to put them on.
Thursday, 3:15 p.m., Admin Building, Rainier University Campus
When a faint voice called him, and a hand shook his shoulder, Jim jerked back. He was standing on the sidewalk near the Admin building, and Simon was standing next to him.
"You zoned out, didn't you?" Simon asked quietly.
"Yeah," Jim admitted. He shook his head a little to clear it. Then he walked into the bushes.
"Jim!" Simon followed him, wondering what was going on.
Jim knelt down, and pulled the backpack he had zoned on from under a bush. "This is Sandburg's", he explained quietly.
"Looks like it is partially unzipped." Simon observed.
Jim glanced inside. "Sandburg's cell phone is here. He may have been trying to answer my call when he was abducted."
Simon looked around. "This appears to be a short cut. Isn't Blair's office just over there? Plus, these bushes would block the view from the sidewalk."
"Yeah, but where would Galileo take him? There are sidewalks on either side of these bushes. It's not like he could swing Blair over his shoulder and walk off without someone seeing him. Even walking behind him with a gun would chance detection."
Simon looked up at the building next to them. "Is there a door or a window he could get through?"
Jim began scanning the wall. There was no windows or doors nearby that he could see. Focusing tighter, Jim was instantly rewarded. "Simon, look!" He knelt down beside the building, gently pulling back the bush. As Simon leaned over, Jim pointed at the couple small branches caught between two of the stones near the base of the building. "There must be some kind of a door or entrance through here."
"Door?" Simon questioned. "What kind of door would be hidden in the bushes next to a University building?"
"I don't know," Jim admitted. His eyes and fingers searched the stone for a latch or opening, but failed. "Maybe Suzanne would know."
Thursday, 3:20 p.m.
Galileo walked his new domain, confident his plan was running smoothly. His bombs were nearly ready, Wilkinson should soon be sweating, the cops were running around clueless, and he had neutralized the main troublemakers from last time. He would generously toss water down to his 'guest', and maybe even his jacket, then prepare to make his call. No, not the jacket. Wouldn't want the twerp to get too comfortable. The good mood evaporated when he noticed the hatch was open on his Anthropologist cage.
Racing to the hole, he looked down to confirm the escape of his prisoner. He stood, infuriated. How could that long-hair, pseudo-cop get out of his trap? How dare he! Galileo shouted down the other two passages, "Try and leave, Sandburg! Only I know the ways of these tunnels! You will never find your way out before I find you, and you are dead when I do!"
Hundreds of yards down one of the passageways, Blair stopped to listen, beginning to shake from more than the cold. The psycho was really mad now, and Blair had no doubts that he could carry through with the threats he had just made. There had to be a way out, some way he could contact Jim and help him catch this guy. Yet most of all, Blair couldn't afford to get caught. Well, maybe the psycho couldn't find what he couldn't see or hear. He turned off the small lantern, then cautiously laid his hand on a pipe at shoulder level. He continued silently walking in the dark, running his hand along the pipe and away from the ranting behind him.
Thursday, 3:30 p.m., Campus Security Office, Rainier University
"A secret door on the East side of the Admin Building?" Suzanne repeated, looking at Ellison as if he had finally cracked under the pressure.
"Yes, Suzanne, " Jim sighed, realizing she didn't have the information he needed. "It is the only way Rachin could abduct Sandburg from that spot without anyone seeing him."
"Oh," a voice suddenly piped up behind them, "You must mean the old maintenance tunnels."
Jim and Suzanne turned to Mrs. Martin, Suzanne's secretary. Assessing her, Jim realized that the smart older woman had probably worked most of her life at the University. "What old tunnels?"
"All the old University buildings are connected by tunnels. Originally, they were used for maintenance. During the forties and fifties, they were quietly set up as bomb shelters. I haven't heard anyone mention them in years."
Suzanne shook her head, "I've never heard of them. Certainly no one has used them recently."
Jim questioned his new source of information. " Would the Admin building and the new Wilkinson building be part of this tunnel system?"
Mrs. Martin nodded. "Most certainly. They are part of the original campus."
Still dazed, Suzanne asked, "Is there any information on these tunnels?"
"Like a map?" Jim added hopefully.
Wrinkling her nose in thought, Mrs. Martin replied doubtfully, "Maybe in the archives. Let me check." She stood up, and entered the small records room.
Suzanne turned her attention to Ellison. For the first time since he had arrived, Jim had an almost eager look on his face. "Jim, what are you planning?"
Jim glanced down at her. "I'm going to find Sandburg. Those tunnels must be where he took him"
"But Galileo said..."
"Yeah, well last time he said he'd let the hostages go if he got the ransom. In reality, he planned to blow them up in that elevator all along. That included his wife. I have no faith that he will let Blair go unharmed if I play his game. So I'm not playing."
Thursday, 3:15 p.m., Admin Building, Rainier University Campus
Banks, Taggart, and MacGyver met Jim next to the Admin Building. Mac had been studying the stone wall Banks had pointed out. He was amazed that Ellison had spotted the tiny branches tucked between the stones. Taggart was right -- Ellison was good.
"Well, I have maps of the tunnel system underneath the campus. But they are old, and I'm not sure how accurate they are." Jim gently laid the rolled up papers on the ground by his foot, then took the pack Simon held out for him. "I've left copies of the maps in Suzanne's office." He unzipped it to check the supplies inside.
"I still don't like this, Jim," Simon protested. "There's no way of knowing what Rachin will do if he spots you down there."
"There's no way of knowing what he'll do to Sandburg eventually, either, sir. I'm going." Jim poked around in the pack, not looking at Simon.
Joel added his concern, "Jim, we don't know what little surprises he has set up. You might accidentally trigger something."
Jim zipped the pack back up. "I'll be careful."
Simon tried again. "Jim, I don't like you going down there without backup, especially with the possibility of explosives."
"You and Taggart are needed up here. I'll be okay." Jim continued to avoid Simon's eyes. He knew what Simon was worried about, and he was, too. It would be easier and far more dangerous to zone out in a dark tunnel than a campus sidewalk. He wished Sandburg was there to back him up. But if Sandburg was there, Jim wouldn't have to go. For Blair, Jim was willing to take the risk.
"I can go with him."
The three friends instantly turned to the man they had forgotten about. Taggart immediately asked. "Are you sure?" Mac nodded. Joel smiled in relief, confident both in Mac's ability and experience.
Simon was nowhere near as confident. "Do you know what you're volunteering for? Have you ever done anything like this before? No one knows what's down there. You could died. "
Mac smiled, and Joel would have laughed if the situation wasn't so grave. "I spent several years as a DXS agent, and several more as a troubleshooter for the Phoenix Foundation. I know what I am doing."
Previously, Ellison had been too preoccupied to paid much attention to Joel's friend. Now he was studying the lanky man, quietly assessing him. He asked one question. "Why?"
Mac understood. "Your friend is about my son's age. I'd like to think someone would help him if he was in this situation. Besides, I've helped scientists in trouble before."
Jim pondered his answer, then asked, "Do you have a flashlight?"
"JIM!" Simon protested as Taggart handed Mac his flashlight and bomb kit.
"It will be all right," Taggart soothed. "Mac's good. Trust me."
Simon stared at Joel, and saw the quiet confidence there. Maybe Joel knew what he was talking about. He hoped so, for as much as he didn't want to involve a stranger, he didn't want Ellison down there by himself even more. "Oh, all right," he relented, "How do you guys get in?"
Jim paused. That was the one part he hadn't figured out yet.
"Usually, these tunnel doors work on a hinge," Mac replied thoughtfully. "Sometimes the lever is right by the door, but often away from it."
Startled, Simon stared at the unassuming man. That almost sounded like something Sandburg would come up with, only Sandburg would be bouncing with enthusiasm. Maybe he had done stuff like this before.
Ellison immediately started scanning the area. He spotted a brick in a flower bed border that seemed to be at a slightly different angle than the others. Walking over to it, he knelt down and tried pulling it.
Mac followed him. "Try pushing it left or right."
Jim complied, and the brick easily swung to the left. In response, so did the stone in the wall.
Taggart shone his spare flashlight inside. It revealed a staircase leading down.
"Guess this is it." Jim swung the pack over his shoulder and picked up the maps.
"Be careful!" Simon ordered as he and MacGyver started down. Jim found a handle near the entrance, and pulled the stone shut.
Simon and Joel stood there, staring at the foundation. "Where is MacGyver's son?" Simon asked quietly, wondering if he would ever see the man or Jim again.
"Sam's a photo-journalist assigned to Bosnia." Simon turned to Joel, beginning to understand Mac's answer to Jim's question. Joel clasped his shoulder, and began walking towards the campus security office. "Let me tell you what I know about MacGyver."
Thursday, 4:05 p.m., the tunnels under Rainier University
Blair gritted his teeth, quietly thinking a string of curses he didn't dare say. Yet running into the crumbling cement barrier blocking his path wasn't exactly painless or soundless. Blair waited a couple minutes, straining for the slightest noise that would give away the psycho's position. Only the sound of dripping water rang around him. The pitch-black tunnels contained so many turns, openings, and dead ends, maybe he had lost him. Then again, maybe he was just around the corner. Not for the first time during this little adventure, Blair wished whole-heartedly that Jim was there. Then he berated himself for his selfishness. He should be glad Jim was somewhere else, somewhere safer. Besides, why couldn't Blair take care of himself? He always had before meeting Jim. Of course, natives and wild animals were a whole lot easier to deal with than the violent criminals in Jim's world.
Hoping the last turn in the tunnel would shield his light if the psycho was following, Blair pressed the lantern, shielding his eyes until they could adjust. He studied the debris in front of him. Apparently, part of the roof had collapsed in this section, leaving large cement chunks scattered across the floor. Water dripped from somewhere above, yet only rocks and dirt were visible. This was not a way out. Well, there had to be one, and Blair had to find it.
Wanting to save the battery on the lantern, Blair memorized a path to one of the openings, then carefully picked his way towards it in the dark. Suddenly, a light flashed across the far wall. Blair ducked between two chunks of concrete, and prayed to every major god he could think of. He heard footsteps, and started praying to all the minor gods, too.
The blond man that walked past him was tall yet trim. Anger was still detectable in his eyes, even in the shadows. The face did seem familiar, but Blair couldn't place it. Blair held his breath as the man swept his light and eyes over the debris. They didn't rest on his hiding place, and finally settled on one of the other tunnel openings. He continued on his way, his light dancing a losing battle with the shadows behind him. In spite of the cold, Blair didn't move until long after the light was gone.
Thursday, 4:30 p.m., the tunnels under Rainier University
A hand gripped his shoulder. Jim shook his head again and rubbed his eyes. MacGyver was looking him over worriedly. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," Jim replied, wondering how much longer before the stranger figured out he wasn't. While he was trying not to focus too much on any one of his senses, this was the second time he had almost zoned out. Yet it was so tempting just to focus on his sense of smell. He smelled the chloroform when he had first enter the tunnels. Now, the faint odor of both Sandburg and Rachin lingered ahead on the damp, still air. The mingled scents were like a beacon, drawing him to his friend.
Mac was still worried. Did Ellison have a problem with closed spaces, like he did with heights? Or was the stress and worry catching up? So far, Ellison had been leading through the tunnels, somehow picking up clues as if from thin air. Mac had seen a print or two to confirm they were on the right trail, but nothing compare to Ellison's tracking speed. The exceptions were when he would pause and nearly enter a trance-like state. Joel had said he and Sandburg were tight. Was Ellison pushing too hard?
Opening his eyes, Jim was rewarded by a faint touch of light on the bend in front of him. He held a finger to his lips, and pointed to the light. Mac squinted, but he too picked up on the light. Jim drew his weapon, and slowly approached with Mac following. Focusing his hearing, Jim could only detect the hum of a low-wattage light bulb, and the faint trickle of water. Jim drifted back to smell. Yes, both men's scent were still there, but there was no heartbeat. Where was Sandburg's heartbeat! Fear for his partner threaten to undo his control, but Jim fought it back while he continued to creep to the turn. He gave Mac hand signals on how they should enter the room, mindful of the fact that MacGyver didn't have a weapon. Should have thought of that before, but this time Jim was fairly confident no one was waiting for them.
The two men swing into the room, Jim's gun at ready, sweeping the place with their eyes. The light bulb lit a circular alcove, with an opened hatch in the floor's center. MacGyver spotted cables pulled through a hole in the wall, and cautiously walked over to inspect it.
Tightening his focus on sight, Jim scanned the room, noting a smudge of blood a few inches away from the hatch. Fear again reached into his chest as Jim slipped to the hole, and looked down. It was empty. Jim released the breath he hadn't known he was holding. Yet, his nose twitch with the next inhale. Blair's scent was strong; he had spent some time here.
Mac had noted Jim's reaction. "He's not there?"
Jim shook his head as he knelt by the hole, and again focused on sight. "This must have been where Sandburg talked to me, though. There is a tiny speaker and mike down there. It looks like a good place to hold a prisoner. "
Mac nodded with agreement. "These are phone cables. Rachin could have easily place the call from here." Looking around, Mac picked up a leather jacket. "Ellison, does this look familiar?"
Worry darkened Jim's eyes as he gazed at it. "That's Sandburg's"
"So where is Sandburg now? Did Rachin move him?"
Another scan into the pit brought a blood covered cement tab into focus, a couple feet from the top. A faint smile of pride slipped across Jim's face as he realize what Blair had done. "Nah, Sandburg isn't much for doing what you want him to, or for staying in one place. He climbed out of this on his own. I just hope he didn't hurt himself too badly, " as Jim pointed at the blood smudge on the floor next to him. Jim looked back down into the pit, and shook his head, "It must have been rough on him, though. Blair's scared of heights."
Mac glanced into the pit, and immediately pulled back. "It's amazing what you can do if you are determined enough."
Jim noted the reaction he normally saw in Sandburg. "Well, now we just have to find him before Rachin does."
Thursday, 4:40 p.m., the tunnels under Rainier University
Rubbing his hands up and down his cold arms, Blair stared up at the familiar yellow and black sign featuring three triangles. A bomb shelter? Had he been abducted and dropped into a weird early sixties movie? Better yet, where in Cascade would there be a bomb shelter? Old tales told by his mother and teachers of the cold war scares flooded his mind, but none had mentioned tunnels. Blair tried the metal wheel, wondering if there would at least be some drinkable water left behind. The wheel was stuck in place by decades of rust.
Sighing, he turned around. Certainly, if this was a shelter, there had to be a way to reach it from the outside. There was only one other opening besides the one Blair had entered from. He turned out the light and continued walking, trailing his fingers along the wall.
Thursday, 4:55 p.m., Campus Security Office, Rainier University
Now it was Simon trying to pace in Suzanne's office. He had an extortionist with a bomb in an unknown location on a campus full of students. In addition, his best detective and an unfamiliar bomb expert were trying to trace a houdini anthropologist through pre-WWII tunnels where said extortionist was operating. On top of that, he could hear Wilkinson's voice in the reception area. And the doctor said he needed to reduce stress. As the anthropologist would say, 'Yeah, right.'
Wilkinson stormed in, fury in his features. "Why am I still being victimized by that criminal? He should be behind bars!"
Simon turned, holding back his own anger. "I agree, he is suppose to be behind bars. If it was up to me, he would be. But he escaped, and has victimized my people much more than he has you. So let's decide on a game plan."
"Does this 'game plan' depend on me giving up large sums of money?" Wilkinson asked sarcastically.
Oh, this was going to be REAL easy. "My main plan for the moment is to keep this man from blowing up a campus full of students." Suzanne Tomacki came in, noting the tension between Banks and one of the university's prime benefactors. She wisely decided to keep quiet.
"So what exactly are you doing to prevent it? Following along with a bastard who would shoot his own brother and blow up his own wife?"
Before Simon could lose his temper, the phone rang. Suzanne looked up at the clock, and stated, "It's him."
Wilkinson was surprised when Suzanne punched the buttons, and even more so when she announced "Chief of security Tomacki."
"Chief Tomacki," the voice purred. "You sound so beautiful. I'd love to take a china doll like you with me."
Suzanne's face revealed her disgust, but her voice stayed smooth and in control. "Mr. Wilkinson is here, with Captain Banks. Please state your demands."
"So my miserly father-in-law is there."
"EX father-in-law." Wilkinson refuted forcefully.
"Oh, touchy, touchy. Well, dear EX-daddy, I want 5 million transferred to a Swiss bank account number I will give to you. Or else the ceremony tonight will celebrate the destruction of the new Wilkinson building, along with anyone else in or near it.
Suzanne's eyes widen in horror, as Simon started to rub his pounding forehead. Wilkinson was the only one who didn't seemed moved. "How do you plan to do this, with the cops surrounding the place?"
"Oh, Galileo has his ways. Now I want to speak with Ellison."
Simon and Suzanne traded looks, which didn't escape Wilkinson's attention. "You ordered him off this, " Simon replied. "I sent him home."
"Well, I better not see him, or his friend dies. I will call back at 6."
"Wait!" Simon stopped him. "I want to speak to Sandburg." Suzanne shot him a puzzled glance, since they both knew from Jim's last radio contact that Sandburg had escaped.
"Oh, no, you will have to pay for that privilege. Or should I say EX daddy will. Good-bye."
At the sound of the click, Suzanne turned off the speaker. Wilkinson, suddenly quiet, turned to them and asked, "What are you doing?"
Simon turned slowly to face Wilkinson. "Our jobs. Which is any and all means necessary to stop a man who has threaten to blow up a university building, planted a bomb under my best detective's chair, and abducted a civilian member of my unit. We WILL stop him, whether you cooperate or not."
Thursday, 5:15 p.m., the tunnels under Rainier University
MacGyver and Jim again walked the dark tunnels, Jim trying to split his focus on more than one sense. While he was checking out a scuff mark near the wall, perhaps made by Blair's boots, his nose picked up a familiar scent. Nostrils briefly flaring, Jim tilted his head trying to identify it.
"What is it?" Mac asked, wondering if Jim saw or heard something.
Recognition of the scent led to dread. Keeping his voice steady, Jim explained, "I think there's another room back here. " Swiftly but cautiously, Jim followed the scent down to an off-shoot room, MacGyver on his heels.
Both paused at the door, shocked at what they saw. Mac slowly shook his head. "There has to be enough C-4 in here to blow up a building."
"How hard will it be to defuse it?" Jim asked quietly, praying they were not under a dorm, or the library, or the student center. The scenes from the Oklahoma City bombing was flashing through his mind.
Mac softly stepped closer, then whispered, "Oh, Hell." Jim swallowed quietly. Slightly louder, Mac reported, "It is one of the more complicated bombs I've seen. I'm going to need another pair of hands."
Jim knelt on the floor, and unrolled the map. "Maybe we can figure out a way to get Taggart here to help you." Mac joined him as he studied the map. "You know, I think we are under the Wilkinson building. Which would make sense, since Rachin's biggest beef is with Wilkinson. In fact, there should be a door from the building's basement that opens to this room."
"Yeah," Mac drawled, studying the room again. "There it is. But if anyone comes through it, we can say good-bye to everything above us."
"Damn!" Jim replied.
"How about," Mac suggested, tracing a line on the map with his finger, " This building here? It looks like a fairly direct route from there to here."
"We can only hope, " Jim replied. He flipped on the radio to report the news to Simon.
Mac continued to study the map, trying to memorize the tunnels surrounding them. As much as he shied from the thought, there may be more bombs down here to find. Mac didn't relish the idea of searching this tangled maze for more explosive devices.
Jim turned back to him. "I've explained the situation to Simon, and he will send Taggart down the route we suggested. Now, I still have to find Sandburg." Pausing, Jim pulled his gun out. "You may need this while I am gone."
Mac glanced down briefly to the weapon, then shook his head. "No, I don't use guns. Besides, you may need it more."
Jim gave him a strange look.
Mac smiled. "Honest. I have never used them."
Jim shook his head, a faint smile on his lips. "No, I believe you. It's just that Blair refuses to use them, too."
Now, it was Mac's turn to look surprised. Jim turned and had just crossed the threshold when he heard the man mutter, "I have got to meet this kid."
Thursday, 5:30 p.m., the tunnels under Rainier University
Blair bumped into another concrete block, and turned on his light. Again, it was a section where the ceiling had fallen. Surely it wasn't the same room, was it? Shining his light on the floor, he could see his boot prints smeared in the film of mud. Damn! Blair took a deep breath to force down the panic. His only option was to pick another one of the openings, and hope it led to a way out. Wearily, he eased past the rocks and concrete, cautious not to slip on the mud.
"SANDBURG!" The blond man had just entered the room.
Caution forgotten, Blair ran through the opening and down the tunnel, the pounding of the stranger's steps echoing behind him. Suddenly, a huge black hole opened in front of him. Blair skidded, and just barely stopped before going over the edge. Water rushed somewhere below, but it was too dark to see it. Cold nausea churned in his stomach as he turned around.
"Well, well, well," the deep arrogant voice taunted, "Looks like you're stuck, unless you have wings." He held a gun aimed at Blair's head
Blair's fear erupted into anger. "Just who the hell are you!"
"I'm Galileo, the one whose plan you ruined in that elevator. You should have died then, along with my unfaithful wife. Guess it's time to rectify that now."
Shocked into recognition, Blair unthinkingly took a step back, and slipped on the edge. An instant before the gun fired, he fell into the blackness. Blair reached out in desperation, his left hand managing to grasp an unseen pipe. Swinging his stronger right hand to join it, a rough edge cut into the palm. At that moment, a light centered on him, and another gun shot rang out. The bullet hit the pipe next to his hands, the spark startling Blair into losing his grip. Falling again, Blair slammed into a pile of wet sand. A light shone on the flowing water next to him. Blair rolled away from the water and the light, entering the mouth of an opening under the ledge above. The light swept the area in front of him.
"You can not hide from me, Sandburg! I am Galileo, master of these tunnels! "
Yeah, well, go to hell. Blair shakily stood up, and assessed his situation. He had lost the lantern in the fall, leaving him in total darkness. Damp sand covered him from head to foot. His hand stung and bled, but the cut didn't feel too deep. Aches from the new bruises he'd collected all seem minor. His ankle hurt the worst. Gingerly, he placed weight on it, deciding it was just twisted. He should be able to walk it off. Overall, he had been pretty lucky. Or least as lucky as you can be with a mad bomber tracking you down in the dark. Blair shivered in his now damp clothes, fighting his fear and trying to take deep breaths. "God, Jim, I wish you were here," he thought, no longer caring if he was being selfish. He carefully felt around for the wall beside him, and limped down the tunnel.
Thursday, 5:35 p.m.
Jim's head lift at the sound. Rachin had just found his partner. Damn! Jim raced in the direction of voice, praying he could reach Blair in time. Upon entering the room with the collapsed ceiling, Jim soon gave up trying to read the confusing array of footprints, and concentrated on hearing. He was just in time to hear first one shot, then a second. Oh, God, please no. Before Jim could force his feet to move, he heard Galileo yell to Blair. Jim closed his eyes in relief. Blair had apparently eluded Galileo again, but the kid's luck was sure to run out soon. Focusing his hearing again, Jim checked each opening, then chose the one where the sound was strongest.
Taggart, with Rafe carrying his equipment, also heard the shots. He and Rafe traded worried looks, but continued. They still had a huge bomb to defuse, and just had to trust that Ellison and Sandburg were okay.
Thursday, 5:45 p.m.
A faint touch of light danced across the ceiling of the bend. Jim paused, flipping off his own light and closing his eyes to listen. There were two separate hearts beating in the room around the corner, both faster than normal. The further one seemed to be heading away. The closer one was faster, coming towards him, and familiar. It was Blair. Worriedly, Jim detected a limp in his soft footsteps. Had one of the bullets found their mark? If so, he had better reach his partner quickly, and get him out of this cold black hole. Then Jim could concentrate on apprehending Rachin. Only how to reach Blair without alerting Rachin?
Blair fought to keep his teeth from chattering. He suspected Galileo was close, and didn't want to make any sound that would expose him. Thankfully, his sore ankle seemed to be holding up. In his damp clothes, Blair knew he was a prime candidate for hypothermia, and walking was the only thing that was keeping it at bay.
The wall Blair's fingers trailed began bending away from him. Would it protect him from the light he had seen moments ago? It would have to. Blair limped another step, and suddenly large arms enveloped him from behind, a hand clamping around his mouth. Oh man, he was dead! Every muscle in Blair's body tensed, ready to feel the cold gun barrel, to feel the shot that would end his life.
Then a soft "shhhh" entered his ear, and the hand turned into a finger against his mouth. Oh, thank God! Blair relaxed into the warm hold, feeling infinitely safer than he had a moment ago. His Blessed Protector had found him.
Jim felt the tension flow out of the cold, sandy body he held. Blair had recognized him. Yet that didn't stop Blair's shivering, and Jim could feel the clamminess of his shirt. He needed to get his friend somewhere safer, so he could check him out. But the other heartbeat was now approaching them. Silently, Jim pulled Blair to the other side of the bend, gently placing Blair behind him. Rachin would have to go through him to reach his partner again. Jim tracked the heartbeat as it approached, ready for the light when it flashed past the bend.
Blair started and threw up his arms when the light hit them. He hadn't realize Galileo was that close. Before Blair's eyes could adjust, the flashlight was rolling across the floor, with the tangled mass of Jim and Galileo rolling back around the bend. Blair could hear blows being traded as he limped over to the light and picked it up. Jim seemed to be gaining the upper hand, until a foot shot out, and kicked him towards Blair. Jim was instantly on his feet, as was his opponent, both breathing hard. Blair stood behind Jim, holding his breath.
After what seemed like eons, Galileo snarled, "I thought I told you to stay out of this!"
"Not when you threaten my partner!" Jim growled back.
A remote suddenly appeared in Rachin's hand. "You should have stayed out. Now I will have to start this act early, and make you both pay."
Jim froze, thinking of MacGyver and possibly Taggart under the Wilkinson building.
Blair glanced around, and spotted the red light blinking on the ceiling. "JIM! ABOVE US!" he shouted, grabbing Jim's arm and pulling him back around the bend as Galileo pushed the remote's button. Jim glanced up, then turned to shoved Blair to the ground, covering him with his body. A roar thundered over them.
Thursday, 5:50 p.m., under the Wilkinson building
"On three." Mac called over to Taggart. "One, two, THREE." Each cut a wire in synch on the word three, then paused. The flashing lights on each display disappeared, and both release long held breaths.
"Is it safe now?" Rafe asked softly from by the door. He had been keeping watch, in case Rachin showed up. However, more of his concern had been on the bomb behind him than on the madman who might be nearby.
Mac and Joel traded smiles. "Safe enough," Taggart replied. "Now it is just a matter of relocating this much C-4."
At that moment, a muffled explosion rumbled from the tunnels. The three men traded glances. "Ellison and Sandburg might need help," Rafe quietly stated, dreading thoughts of either being dead under tons of rubble.
"Go find them, " Joel ordered, worry deepening his voice.
"I'll go with you," Mac offered, grabbing one of the flashlights and trotting behind the young detective.
Thursday, 5:55 p.m.
Jim's head was still ringing when he felt the slight body move beneath him. Gently, Jim rolled off Blair and sat up, rubbing both temples.
Slowly, Blair eased himself up, and looked back at the pile of debris highlighted by the flashlight that was miraculously still on. He turned worried, dazed eyes back to his friend. "Are you all right?" he asked hoarsely.
"Yeah, I'm okay." Jim lifted his head, studying Blair's shivering form beside him. "You?"
"O-Okay." Blair's teeth were beginning to chatter again.
"Take off your shirt."
Blair threw Jim a startled look. "What?"
"Take off that shirt. You are cold and wet, and that is a dangerous combination." Jim unzipped his jacket, then looked back at Blair who still hadn't moved. "Come on, Sandburg. After all the trouble I went through to find you, I'm not having you freeze to death on me now."
Blair slowly unbuttoned his shirt with shaky fingers, and eased it off. Jim helped him put on the large jacket. Blair sighed, enjoying the warmth as it began to melt away the chill in his body. A hand gently grasped his chin, forcing Blair to look into Jim's worried eyes.
Jim didn't like Blair's stunned gaze, or unusual quietness. Remembering the shots and Blair's limp, he asked softly, "Where are you hurt?"
Blinking, Blair pulled back, and pushed his hair away from his face, briefly revealing the dried blood on his hand. "Mostly my ankle. I think I twisted it in the fall."
"Fall?" Jim questioned. He carefully felt both ankles, noting the slight swelling in the left one. His eyes also noted the blood-covered tear in Blair's jeans over the left knee.
Blair nodded as he wrapped his arms around his still cold body. "I slipped on a ledge over an underground river when Galileo found me. I grabbed a pipe on the way down, but he shot at me again, and I lost my grip. I landed on a pile of sand next to the river." Blair then blinked again, and glanced back at the debris. "Do you think he made it?"
Jim frowned, viewing rubble. "Definitely. It was planned. He probably still has a few more surprises down here, and we can't follow him at the moment."
"Jim, where are we?"
Jim smiled at the return of his partner's curiosity. It was a good sign. "We are in a system of tunnels under the University. " Jim stood up, then held out his hand to Blair.
"Really?" Blair asked as he grabbed Jim's hand. He wobbled a little as he stood up, and Jim steadied him by his elbow. "I'd always heard rumors about tunnels, but thought they were just some wild tale."
"I wish they were, Chief, " Jim sighed as he lead Blair back to the MacGyver and Taggart.
Thursday, 5:58 p.m., Chief of Security's office.
Simon and Suzanne quietly stared at the phone. In the corner, Wilkinson and the school president quietly discussed their options. Simon wasn't liking his. Neither the president nor Wilkinson wanted to postpone the ceremony, feeling that would be bowing down to terrorism. Simon was having visions of young people only a few years older than his son being blown into tiny pieces. In spite of the report from Taggart that the bomb below the building was now disarmed, Simon still had a bad feeling. Taggart's report of an explosion, and reports of a 'quake' felt near the library only increased it, especially since Ellison was missing as well as Sandburg. No, Simon didn't like this at all.
The phone rang. Suzanne took a deep breath, and answered it.
"Well, well, well, your plan to stop me using Ellison has failed." The voice growled into the phone.
Suzanne's face turned white, but she continued calmly, "What plan?"
"Oh, don't give me that, china doll. I blew him up along with the boy wonder. Now, I want my money, or the same thing will happen to the Wilkinson building."
Suzanne looked stricken, Wilkinson and the president left speechless. Only Simon hung on to his control. "Where do you want the money?" Galileo rattled off some numbers, which Simon wrote down.
"Now, you have only an hour until my circus ends with fireworks."
"How do we know if you have disarmed the bomb?" Simon demanded.
"When it doesn't go off." Click.
Suzanne looked at Simon, unshed tears in her eyes. "Captain Banks "
Simon laid a hand on her shoulder and forced a smile. "Hey, Ellison and Sandburg have rescued me and my son against some pretty long odds. I'm not giving up until I hear from my team."
"In the meantime," the president asked sarcastically, "What do you want us to do?"
Simon stared at him. "I'd like you to call off the ceremony and evacuate the building. Hell, I'd like you to evacuate the campus."
The president stared back, "Unacceptable."
Simon's stare dropped in temperature. "Then I suggest you pay the man."
Thursday, 6:15 p.m., tunnels under the Wilkinson building.
For the first time since his last class, Blair was finally warming up. Once they had met Rafe and MacGyver, it had been a fairly short walk to the room under the Wilkinson building. Now, he was wearing Rafe's spare sweatshirt, his jacket MacGyver had returned, and a blanket Jim had draped across his shoulders. A cup of wonderfully hot coffee from Joel's thermos was tucked in his good hand. Blair had only taken an occasional sip, but the warm cup did wonders for both body and soul. As Jim and Joel traded reports, then called Simon, he was able to piece together what had happen since his abduction. Man, had he missed a lot.
Jim approached him, carrying a first aid kit. "Okay, Chief, let's see that hand first."
"Jim!" Blair protested. He hated being fussed over, especially by Jim in full mother hen mode.
Jim knelt beside him, opening the kit. "Work with me, Chief. You don't even know what you cut it on. It needs to be cleaned out, and you better be up to date on your tetanus booster."
With a sigh of resignation, Blair pulled his hand out from under the blanket.
Across the room, MacGyver was helping Taggart stow away gear. He glanced over as he heard Sandburg's sharp intake of breath. "Jim! Come on!"
Mac smiled to himself. As Joel had said, the two were like brothers. He had also noticed Ellison's quiet protectiveness towards the kid since they had found them. It reminded him of his own feelings when a friend had been in danger, especially Pete with his fading eyesight. At least the daze in the kid's eyes was nearly gone, replaced by keen intelligence and awareness of his surroundings. Mac suspected his story of eluding Galileo would be interesting. He was looking forward to hearing it.
Taggart snapped the latch on the last case. "Well, looks like we have stopped Galileo again."
Blair, about to snap at Jim again as he cleaned the gashed knee, noticed his face. "You don't think so, do you?" he asked his partner, hissing as Jim pulled out some sand.
That caught everyone's attention. "What do you mean?" Taggart questioned, "We have disarmed the bomb, and have Blair back safe. Sure, I'd feel better once we catch him, but his plan is ruined."
"But do we know what Galileo's real objective is?" Jim responded, applying disinfectant.
"That's true," Blair agreed, hissing again. "Last time, the whole hostage/ransom deal was just a smoke screen to get everyone away from his real objective, the gold exchange."
MacGyver realized where they were going. "So, you guys think that there is something else he wants, besides the extortion money from Wilkinson."
Blair nodded. "The money from Wilkinson would probably be icing, but, yeah, he's the type to have something else going."
Jim stood up, still deep in thought. "Remember, he keeps referring to all this as a circus. Keep everybody's attention on the first two rings, while he has the big act in the third."
While Rafe and Taggart continued to shake their heads, Mac nodded. "So, the question is, what else is he after."
Silence fell as everyone thought of what else Galileo could possibly want. Suddenly, Blair snapped his fingers, then winced at the sting it caused on his cut palm. "The exhibit."
"What exhibit?" Jim inquired.
"The traveling Zimbabwe/Swahili exhibit. It is a wonderful collection representing those two cultures."
Jim sighed. Blair was in his vague anthropologist mode. "Is there anything in it that Galileo would be interested in?"
"The Swahili were successful maritime traders, right?" Mac asked Blair thoughtfully. "And didn't the Zimbabwe use their gold to trade with them?"
Blair nodded. "Up until the Portuguese crashed the party in the 16th century."
Jim finally hear something pertaining to the situation at hand. "Did someone say gold?"
"Yeah, gold, " Blair continued, his normal enthusiasm resurfacing, "There are several gold figurines in the collection. What isn't common knowledge on campus, is that a large quantity of Swahili coins are here as well. The stash was recently found on the coast of Somalia, and Dr. Johnson of African studies is trying to authenticate them."
"How large?" Jim inquired patiently. He was getting used to dragging information out of Sandburg.
"From what I heard, several large bags full."
Mac shook his head. "Those coins could be easily melted down, and sold as solid gold."
Blair's eyes widen in horror, "That would destroy their historical value."
"But then the gold would be impossible to trace," Jim pointed out.
Taggart and Rafe had been following the exchange like a tennis match, heads turning to each speaker. "You guys think that this whole show is just so Galileo can go after this gold?" Joel inquired.
"I'm sure revenge against us and Wilkinson was also part of the plan," Jim admitted, "but Suzanne's force isn't all that big. All he would need to do is set up a distraction "
"And blowing up the business building is one hell of a distraction." Blair finished.
"So what do we do now?" Rafe asked.
With a call to Simon, they decided to split up. Taggart and Rafe would guard the C-4 under the Wilkinson building, Simon would grab a few officers and head for the Hargrove Hall to check on the artifacts, while Ellison and Mac headed through the tunnels to prevent any escape attempts by Rachin. The disagreement came with Blair's role.
"You'll stay here with Taggart," Jim stated.
"No way, man. You need me."
"Sandburg, you've been through enough today." Jim disagreed. Exhaustion was plain on his friend's grubby and drawn face. However, the feisty blue spark was back in his eyes.
Blair switched tactics. "Jim, I am the one who knows the exhibit, where Dr. Johnson's labs are, and what Swahili coins look like. You need me."
Jim played his last card. "What about your ankle?"
"My ankle is fine," Blair lied without a twitch. Hear that ankle? You are fine.
In spite of Jim's hard stare, Blair held his ground. He had to. Blair realized that navigating the pitch-black tunnels had to place tremendous stress on Jim's senses. He didn't trust that MacGyver would pick up on the signs of a zone out, and pull Jim out in time.
Unknown to either, MacGyver was picking up on quite a bit. So, Sandburg is just as worried about Ellison being in the tunnels as Banks was. Was it tied into Ellison's 'trances' he had witnessed? Did Cascade's best detective suffer from a medical condition? Was that why a young anthropologist that the detective trusted was allowed to be his unofficial 'partner'? Mac's interest was firmly caught. This was turning into quite a recruiting trip.
Thursday, 6:45 p.m., Hargrove Hall
Simon and Brown, with several campus and Cascade PD officers, soon discovered that Jim's hunch was correct. The first sign occurred at Hargrove Hall, when they were nearly ran over by a herd of scared students storming up the stairs. "There's a fire!" one young woman exclaimed, her eyes wide. "The smoke is really thick!" exclaimed another.
"Oh, hell," Simon muttered as he and Brown struggled against tide of humanity. By the time they reached the basement, smoke was flowing out from under the door. They were met by a couple security guards and a older man, all three coughing so much they could barely speak.
"Lots *cough* smoke *cough, cough*, saw *cough*, no fire, *cough, cough*' the older man struggled to report.
"Dr. Johnson?" Simon asked.
The older man, still coughing, nodded his head.
Damn! "Get outside. We'll take it from here."
Brown opened the door. Acidic smoke poured out the door, sending Simon and Brown into a coughing fit. Brown quickly closed the door, tears streaming down his face. "Gali *cough* ileo?" Brown struggled to ask.
Simon nodded, leaning on the rail to support himself as he coughed. There was no way they could enter the floor without gas masks and oxygen tanks. Damn! Ellison, Sandburg and MacGyver may be the only ones who could stop Galileo now.
Thursday, 6:45 p.m., the tunnels
Everything was finally clicking into place. For the first time that day, Jim allowed information from his senses to flow, knowing Blair was there to help if he was overwhelmed. The security of his guide's presence grounded the sentinel, allowing him to fill the ancient role he had accepted.
A couple steps behind him, his guide slipped comfortably into his accustomed position. After all the lonely hours spent avoiding Galileo, it now felt right to chase him with his partner. Blair concentrated on his sentinel, blocking out the cold, his exhaustion, and sore ankle. Only watching Jim's back and aiding his search mattered now.
Bringing up the rear, MacGyver couldn't help but note the natural partnership in front of him. While it intrigued him, Mac forced himself to concentrate on the matter at hand. Which wasn't all that difficult, since he didn't like the idea of being caught in one of Galileo's bombs.
Suddenly, Jim paused. Blair, observing his expression, quietly asked, "What do you smell?"
Smell? Mac wondered what on earth anyone could smell beside mustiness and dirt. He soon forgot his question, though, when Jim replied, "Smoke. Coming from this direction." Cautiously, Jim led them down another tunnel. Soon, Mac and Blair could also smell the acrid odor.
Jim stopped again. A faint red light caught his attention. "MacGyver " he called softly, pointing his light.
"Just a minute, " Mac replied, spotting what had caught Ellison's attention. With his own flashlight, he quietly examined it.
"Another bomb?" Blair asked.
"Yep," Mac replied slowly. "Looks like it is also on a remote."
"Can you disarm it?" Jim asked.
"Give me a couple minutes, " Mac responded, pulling out his knife. He noted the same strange look cross Jim's face as it had during the earlier gun conversation.
Blair had noticed the look, too, though in the semi-darkness he had missed the knife in Mac's hands. "What?" he queried, perplexed.
Jim smiled and shook his head. "Let's check up on the source of the smoke while MacGyver takes care of this problem." Blair gave him another questioning look, but continued to follow.
Thursday, 6:50 p.m., the tunnels under Hargrove Hall
Rachin pulled his gas mask off in triumph. Five heavy burlap sacks full of gold coins and ten figurines filled two shopping carts stolen from the nearby market. Galileo was confident that the stupid cops would not be able to follow him through the smoke. His little toys in this section should prevent Ellison and his little pseudo-cop friend from reaching him, even if they are smart enough to figure out what he was doing. With luck, Wilkinson and his rich friends will blow up in his finale, and take a few annoying cops with them. Isn't it grand when a plan comes together?
MacGyver made short work of the bomb he found. He trotted a few yards in the direction Ellison and Sandburg had gone, when he spotted another bomb in the curve of the tunnel. "Man, another one? Doesn't this jerk know the meaning of the word overkill?" he wondered with exasperation. Again, he focused his light on the wires and unfolded his knife.
Thursday, 7:03 p.m., the tunnels
Galileo struggled to push the carts until the wheels lined up and began to move. Even then, the heavy gold prevented him from breaking any speed records. That was alright. He wanted to wait until 7:10 anyway, when he could be certain the fat cats would be giving their speeches and in position for the fireworks. His first clue that it would not be so simple came when his light illuminated a large figure, with a smaller figure behind it. It couldn't be. "Damn! What does it take to stop you two?" he demanded in exasperation. He should have killed both of them at the beginning of this circus, instead of waiting for the final act.
Ellison aimed his gun at the perp and viewed the shopping carts in front of him. It was a struggle to keep his anger under control. This bastard was willing to destroy a building and kill innocent students over a few bags of gold? He had to be stopped. Casually, Jim asked, "Doing a little shopping?"
"It's the American Way," Galileo replied, thinking fast.
"Didn't know Safeway accepted gold coins," Sandburg pointed out. He was angered at the possible destruction of artifacts, from cultures which didn't leave much behind to begin with. Swiftly, Blair surveyed the corridor they were in. There was three openings in this section. One behind them where they had entered, a second from where Galileo entered, and a third to the left. Barely discernible was metal gate hanging above the third, held up by a chain attached to a wheel. Was that Galileo's escape route? Did Jim see it?
His attention was immediately diverted, though, when Galileo pulled out a remote. "Well, well, well. Guess it is time for the grand finale, unless you drop the gun."
The grand finale? Was that just the disarmed bomb under Wilkinson Hall, or did it include the one he had left MacGyver behind to take care of? Memories of helplessly watching Rachin push a button Jim thought would kill Sandburg crossed his mind. He could not allow that to happen again. "I seem to remember you aren't very good at keeping your word in this situation."
Galileo smiled broadly, "Nope. Guess you should have dropped me from that window after all." As his finger pushed one of the buttons, Jim launched himself at the bomber.
Blair held his breath, watching the men fight. After a moment with no explosion, he released it. The button must have been for the disarmed Wilkinson Hall bomb, or perhaps MacGyver had finished disarming the other one. Only, how many more were in this dark hole? Was there any way to prevent Galileo from triggering them? Inconspicuously, Blair picked up a piece of broken concrete, about the size of a baseball.
Galileo managed to break free, and dodged behind the carts. He gave the remote a quick, puzzled glance.
Jim noticed, and gave him his most icy glare. "Sorry, the C-4 you placed under the new Wilkinson Hall was disarmed an hour ago."
Fury erupted on Galileo's features. He brought up a gun, training it on Ellison, the closest. "You think you can stop me! Think again. I have four more friends down here, and I think it is time to introduce you!" He pushed another button with vigor.
Ellison and Sandburg froze. FOUR MORE!!!
A soft rumble rolled from the passage towards Hargrove Hall. That was the only one.
"Guess three of your friends aren't speaking with you."
The three men turned to the tunnel behind Blair. There was MacGyver, displaying three detonators he had just recently removed.
Galileo's face paled when he saw a third man, holding pieces to his bombs. DAMN! Escape was the only option left. He turned to dash towards the last opening.
Catching Galileo's thought, Blair turned and threw the concrete as hard as he could at the wheel's lever. It instantly began to spin, dropping the gate with a thud.
Galileo slid to a stop. Yelling in frustration, he turned his gun towards Blair. Jim, who had just rolled to where his own had been kicked, aimed and fired. The bullet hit Galileo in the shoulder, causing his fingers to release his gun. Before the bomber could move, Jim shouted, "Freeze! Or you'll wish I had dropped you out that window!"
Galileo, hurt and defeated, froze.
Thursday, 9:45 p.m., the Loft
Blair was fighting to keep his eyes open. The excitement of the day combined with a long week was catching up with him. It felt so good to be safe, warm and clean, with his ankle wrapped and elevated, and his stomach full of takeout Mexican. Yet he didn't want to fall asleep. He was enjoying the stories the guys and MacGyver were telling. Not that MacGyver had said a whole lot. He seemed pretty laid back, letting Taggart tell the story. Something about the man, though, made Blair suspect his life had to be almost as interesting as the sentinel he was studying. Maybe he'd have a chance to ask him. On that thought, Blair lost the battle and drifted off to sleep.
Across the room, Jim had finished adding wood to the fire, and turned just in time to see Blair's eyes closed. He gazed at his partner for a moment, thankful he was safe and suffering nothing worse than a twisted ankle. Memories of listening to the respirator during Blair's struggle with Golden still twisted in his gut. He refused to think about the other possible outcomes of today's fight with Galileo. The fact that the bomber was now safely back in jail under new charges helped.
Jim returned his attention to the rest of his friends. It warmed him that they had accepted Sandburg to the point of not only saving him, but bringing the celebration party to the loft for his comfort. Brown and Rafe sat on the floor, dividing up the last sopaipillas. Simon leaned back in a chair, listening to Taggart's story of helping MacGyver disarm a terrorist bomb. MacGyver relaxed in the other chair, smiling at Taggart's rendition. Jim studied him for a moment. What was it about the man that felt so trustworthy? There were only a few people Jim trusted, and even they had had to earn it. For some reason, taking Mac along to save Blair had been comparatively easy. Was it because he and Blair were so similar? A couple times, Jim could have sworn it was Blair with him. Jim smiled, wondering if Blair would mature into something like MacGyver. Though it was hard to believe Sandburg ever being that quiet or laid back.
MacGyver had also seen Sandburg fall asleep. The poor kid had to be exhausted, and it sounded like he had a full schedule tomorrow. At least he had already told the story of eluding Galileo in the tunnels. Mac planned to write that up for Pete, after quietly making background checks, reviewing Blair's academic record, and reading his Master's thesis. There was no doubt that Blair Sandburg would have an offer from the Phoenix foundation as soon as he finished his Ph.D., though luring him from the Cascade PD and one Detective Ellison may be a challenge. However, life can take many strange twists and turns, as Mac well knew. Perhaps some day the offer will be accepted.
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