Title: Mission Prague
Author: Tohonomike firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners...it will start off with the Joss/ME characters but also the National Treasure, xXx, Mission: Impossible and Swordfish characters aren’t mine either and any real-life folks are clearly not mine. NO money is involved. None are mine.
December 23rd, 1999 – 8 AM – Prague
Augustus Gibbons remained quiet as the Czech and Prague officials left with the papers confirming Xander’s ownership of Yorgi’s assets in the Republic. XXX, Yelena, Tatiana and Wesley were laughing over something inside the riverside club that had been owned by Yorgi and his group.
“Kid, where the hell do … how can someone your age be such a …”
“Life in Sunnydale really…ages those in the know. Most of the folks there are like sheep, unaware. But the shepherd…he kills the wolves and learns their ways. The sheep are still there, but it …if you don’t do more than survive, you won’t survive long.”
“Well it’s working for you. You buy out the ruins of Anarchy, and to keep everything quiet, the thanks of and by the locals means you squeeze ‘em for tax-exemption for this past year and half of next year. And they didn’t give in until you told them you’d dusted William the Bloody last week. Who was he?”
“William the Bloody AKA Spike, was a vamp over a century old that would rate up there in scariness with the top for or five super-serial killers on your list, who with his gal Drusilla the Mad, was responsible for that nasty rash of murders here about two and a half years ago.”
“Like forty or fifty people torn apart or something before it stopped?”
“Yep. So they figure they owe me for that too. This way, they get to balance more debts with being nice to me. And I get the sub.”
“Why are we letting you have the sub again?”
“Because I won’t do anything with it like Yorgi’s bunch, and you want me to either do another mission for you or owe you one.”
The career NSA agent smiled, “There is that, but I think we could have gotten you cheaper.”
“What would you do with the underwater RV? It really isn’t practical except along coastlines, and you have faster stuff in stock already.”
“Point. The CIA seems to have a few problems in Europe right now, and I’d like you to shadow a few odd developments we at the NSA aren’t quite able to pin down without them knowing something’s up.”
“Can you give me a hint? Since its Christmas time, you realize I’m planning to head back and visit friends or something. I’d rather wait a week…or two.”
“Well, you know that Kyrill got away, right?”
“We suspect from a few papers that survived the taking of the castle, that in his copious spare time, he’s a competent assassin for hire.”
“This sounds unhappy.”
“And there are a few folks in Russia that seem intertwined with several things going on right now. There are lots of Russians of ‘ill repute’ in Berlin and a few other cities looking for something or someone. And we don’t think it’s just the normal gangster stuff. And with the way Russia’s having trouble economically, and that Romanov guy is going on…”
“It makes the Anarchy 96 stuff even more suspicious…but what’s the CIA stuff?”
“Well they seem to be doing something odd in France and Switzerland, but another group with a few overlapping players are in Berlin. And it involves a lot of old-time pros. We could understand Berlin, but not the other? At the same time?”
“Okay, that’s still seems iffy.” Xander tapped his ear phone, making it look like he was on it. “Any names to throw at me?”
“Abbott, Conklin, Landry, Gretiak, Gretkov. Bourne, Wombasi.” Gibbons looked at him, not expecting anything. He was surprised when Xander considered things.
“Nothing, except for the fact that Wombasi is an exiled CIA monster. I’m guessin’ the Gs are the Russians. What about my little group?”
“I’m sure if you brought ‘em with you it could speed things up.”
“Any bodies dropping like rain?”
“Nothing I’ve picked up on so far. Though a Jason Bourne seems to have tripped some detection in Zurich a couple of days ago. The CIA seems to want him, but in what condition we don’t know. In Berlin, there seems to have been an explosion last night. Someone’s Op went up.”
“Anything to sweeten the deal?”
“No, but we’d like to put in one or two of our people as silent listeners, tripwires of our own, in each of your clubs and business assets here.”
“And I get?”
“How about we fly your sub back to Sunnydale for you?”
“And diplomatic passports for my little group and both of my current identities?”
“You HAVE to tell me where you’re flying. At least a voicemail. But you need to do two somethings for me.”
“You and any of your group here you can convince? The NSA presence in your hometown.”
“I was thinking of LA, but I know I’ll end up there often.”
“But you can funnel information from your sources to us.”
“Okay. I’ll have to talk to the others, but we have a tentative deal on that point. What’s the other?”
“There’s something odd going on in Prague the last few days. Something involving the CIA IMF division trying to clean up a loose gun they seem to have.”
“And this is our concern why?”
“Because it might have something to do with the rest of the craziness the Langley types are doing. And since we’re just down the street from the embassy, and whatever goes down is supposed to happen tonight…”
“You want your new freelancers…”
“Are you going to be in the building?”
“Yes I am, right next to the Ambassador in case he’s the target.
“Can you clear us with the Ambassador? At least let him know we’re official somehow?”
“How many of you?”
“Just me, Xander and our two Russian dates.”
“No gals, not until the paperwork goes through.”
“So…just me and XXX. I guess we’ll have the others a block or so away keeping an eye out.”
“Okay. I have been directed to let him in on some of the activity the two of you have accomplished. Your attendance can be used as recognition of that.”
“Okay. What time?”
“Seven, and please dress for real for this one.”
“You’re a billionaire, so is it the adrenaline that keeps you doing this?”
“Actually…I don’t know HOW to be a billionaire. And I’m seriously considering taking time off to figure out the answers to most of the questions you have about me.”
“Fair enough. Ever think about lying?”
“Should I lie to you right now?”
“Only you can answer that question, kid.”
“Knock off the kid. That’s a condition, Gus.”
“If we’re on a first-name basis, I prefer Augustus, Alexander. It shows at least passing respect.”
“Alright, but how ‘bout a plane and pilot for our use in case we have to go zipping around Europe or the States for this.”
“I have one at the airport you can use. And run down the op in France first. We have a few assets moving toward Berlin and a few other cities with connections to the Russians.”
December 23rd, 1999 – Paris – 22:30 CET - American Embassy
Embassy – Elevator Shaft
Jack wore a set of black coveralls and modified ‘Visco’ eyeglasses as he entered the elevator shaft through a small door at the base of the wall. He looks
up the shaft, shining a flashlight until he finds what he's looking for –a gray metal box, protruding from the wall just over one floor above his head.
Jim Phelps sat at a table in the apartment his team were using as a safe house, and watched a bank of monitors which Hannah had wired together earlier. The monitors were already active, one view of the elevator shaft and three others the party inside of the Embassy.
Phelps wore a full headset and speaks into the mouthpiece, “Ethan, Jack's inside. Window's open by twenty-three hundred.”
The formal affair was in full swing on the second floor of the Embassy, most of the partygoers in attendance having moved through introductions into the dancing and social portions of the event.
Senator Waltzer, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Appropriations Committee and strong backer of Trust interests in the political arena, walked up the grand staircase, headed in. A junior American diplomat in a tuxedo hurries up to him.
“How do you do, Senator, I'm Rand Housman, the Ambassador's aide. If I could just steer you through the reception line here…”
The diplomat guided the Senator by one arm to a reception line at the bottom of the stairs to the party, where Ethan (actually disguised as the Senator) recognized the two Xanders from their extreme sport and treasure recovery news coverage.
Housman ignores them in favor of local dignitaries, “Allow me to introduce Jaroslav Reid, the director of the National Gallery, Petr Brandl, the mayor of Prague –”
An attractive young woman dressed in an elegant gown brushed gently passed Xander Gates as she stepped out of the guests to shake hands with the powerful politician.
“I bet you don't remember me, do you, Senator?” she smiles. He smiles back at her and nods.
“Of course I do. How are you, Miss Norman?”
The senator leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek in a friendly manner, and as this happened she whispered to him in the tones of a professional agent.
“He's in pocket. Under the archway behind me.”
The Senator, actually Ethan Hunt of the IMF, took out and put on a pair of Visco glasses from his pocket. Looking up, over her shoulder, he scanned the arch near the entry to see that Alexander Golitsyn, the Ukrainian agent they’d been briefed on, had just come in from outside.
From his vantage back in the team safe house, IMF Agent Jim Phelps watched through a monitor configured to the glasses worn by Ethan at the Embassy, as Golitsyn settled in at the party. Phelps spoke into his microphone, transmitting back to the agents.
“Sarah, mark the package and go to two. Ethan, give us a quick look around, would you?”
Sarah continued to obviously hold the Senator's attention, and as Xander Cage stepped by behind him, placed a guiding hand on Ethan’s back so as not to bowl the man over as he headed across them. Cage followed right behind a moment later, shaking hands on the way with the mayor they’d met earlier. When XXX caught up to his younger friend, he smiled slightly.
“I don’t know if the ‘Senator’ noticed you put the tracer on him.”
“Let’s hope not…or they might just run and we’ll have to listen to Augustus go on about it.”
Triple X smiled, “Not necessarily bad, but you’re right. Since our next stop is supposed to be Paris, the girls’ll get mad if we actually had to pay instead of Gus.”
Sarah briefly wondered about the two semi-celebrities who were out of place to such an obvious extent, it had thrown her off a moment, but she recovered.
“Your advance team mentioned you'd want a tour of the facility, so I've gone ahead and set that up for you –”
“Terrific. Let's get going,” the fake senator smiled, the turned to the diplomat still escorting him, “Will you excuse us?”
Embassy - Elevator Shaft
Jack climbed up the elevator shaft, making his way towards the gray metal control box. It took a moment, but he was just removing the cover when he heard the elevator coming down the shaft, forcing him to press himself flat against the wall.
“Great. Come on.”
Ethan Hunt, disguised as the Senator, and Sarah, moved behind the entering Golitsyn. Sarah pulled from her purse a small bottle of perfume and sprays it just a little. But she aimed slightly to the left unobtrusively covering the back of Golitsyn’s head before they continued on.
Jim Phelps closely monitored the Visco views of the party. With Ethan and Sarah headed down the stairs, and Jack in the elevator shaft, his focus moved to the fourth monitor. On it, a view of the party, jolting from ascending stairs, continues to include most of the people around.
“Hannah. He's marked. Let’s go.”
“En route,” she responded, dressed appropriately for the embassy party and just a bit winded from racing up stairs. Like the others, she also wore Visco glasses, and scanned the gathering below. She pressed a tiny switch on the glasses, activating a tinting of the lenses.
The party as seen through the glasses, and Jim Phelps’ monitor, appears almost the same, but Golitsyn’s hair now showed a fluorescent green where Sarah sprayed it.
Ethan and Sarah come down the stairs and pass a sign that says "Denied Area --Political Attaches Only." Ethan checks his watch. 23:00.
He nods to Sarah, they round a corner, and come to an elevator at the end of the corridor. A sign in front of it says "Out of Order." They head for it anyway.
Jack can be heard through the link in their glasses, “Governor's in position. We have the elevator.”
A Marine guard appears from behind a side door, surprising them, “Excuse me, can I help you?”
Sarah speaks to Ethan, and only flashed an ID at the guard as they continued, “-- which leads directly to the Denied Area, the only limited access area in the whole facility. As you can see, this area has both a Marine guard and video surveillance, and is strictly monitored at all times.”
Sarah stepped up to the thumbprint analyzer on the elevator bank and slid her thumb inside it, only to have the message of ‘Access Denied’ flash. She feigned annoyance as she half-turned to Ethan as she tried again.
“Senator, don't you have a young man on your staff named Jack?”
“Jack? I believe we did have a young man named Jack. Not a reliable man, as I recall. Constantly late or behind in his work.” He watches as access is denied again. The guard looked over and noticed the denial of entry.
“Excuse me, let me see that ID again!”
Embassy - Elevator Shaft
Phelps realized Jack’s situation in the shaft, “Jack's pinned down Sarah. Should be just a second. Keep dancing.”
Ethan improvised, mimicking the Senator's southern accent, “We were forced to tie him to my best stallion and drag him around the barn a few times.”
Another handful of seconds, the elevator finally descended a floor, allowing Jack freedom of movement and access to the control unit not only for the elevator but for other key systems including security.
“Relax your crack, Foghorn, I'm workin' on it.”
The tech spy connected his laptop to a control port, and after setting up atop the elevator, hacked into the system and began downloading the cover information. This included Sarah's thumbprint and the ID picture.
Sarah ignored the guard tried the thumbprint analyzer, this time it flashed the message ‘Identity Confirmed.’
The elevator doors slid open, the guard surprised that it was the well-known Senator.
“Oh. Sorry, sir,” he apologized as the two agents entered the elevator.
Embassy - Elevator Shaft
Jack looked through a grating in the elevator and confirmed their presence, and quipped about his angling for a date with the attractive woman, “The drink with Sarah is definitely off.”
Phelps shifted observance from the elevator to that of the party through Hannah's glasses. But she’s moved in such a way as not to see the Ukrainian agent. He chided the younger agent.
“Hannah -- I'm blind again. Hannah.”
Hannah, stationed on the second floor of the Embassy, responded by stepping higher and Phelps can soon see Golitsyn's ‘glowing’ head. Hannah murmured perspective to the senior agent.
“He's heading to the denied area.”
Embassy Work Room
Ethan and Sarah ignore the many filing cabinets and terminals in the area, Ethan after handing Sarah his Visco glasses straps on a wrist monitor linked to them. He tuned it as she placed them upside-down on one of the cabinets to establish a clear shot of Golytsin when he made his move.
“Sarah, higher, please. Higher. Right. Right, and good.”
Not only does Ethan Hunt have a view through his wrist monitor, but Phelps' monitor now began to receive a clear signal for recording the foreign agent’s activity. Satisfied, Phelps issued a warning to the agents in the room.
“Get moving you two. He's rolling to you.”
Embassy Work Room
Ethan pushed the elevator button but realized the elevator must already be responding to their quarry.
“Jack we're in position…” he stated, and paused. “Jack. Jack.”
“I didn't touch it. It must be him.”
Phelps viewed Goliytsin inside the elevator through Jack’s glasses, and with no little tension in his voice, relayed the situation.
“He's in the box, Ethan, he's in the box!”
Embassy Work Room
Ethan and Sarah looked for place to hide, but realized Jack’s way in way their only way out.
“OK. Taking Golitsyn's exit. Jack, open the doors.”
“What about my coat?” Sarah asks, “It’s December, I'll freeze.”
“I don't have it,” Jack murmurs.
Phelps raced over to the laptop and began typing in access commands for the elevator.
“Opening the doors, now,” he informed them, then hit the ENTER key, “Go under.”
Embassy Work Room
The elevator doors opened up a second later, the empty shaft beyond easily accessible to the two agents. Ethan Hunt and Sarah Davies quickly looked around then jumped down into the five foot empty space below the work room floor. Above them, the elevator continued its descent.
Embassy Work Room
Golitsyn stepped off the elevator, doors already closed remotely by Phelps after his two friends reported themselves in the shaft. The foreign agent made his way across the room and recessed a 3.5” computer disk into the computer. Through the Visco glasses Ethan and Sarah planted, we can clearly see him at work, downloading the vital information.
The two Xanders had given the likely protagonists of the sordid spy adventure enough time to engage or steal or do whatever would be sufficient to incriminate them. Nodding to Augustus and the Ambassador, the men head for the elevator and press the button, their legitimate identification prominently displayed to minimize interruption.
The elevator seemed unresponsive, but after a moment. Xander turns to Triple-X.
“Is there a set of stairs?”
“Not right here. And I don’t hear the thing responding to us.”
“Feel like rappelling down an elevator shaft?”
“I should warn you junior, that line doesn’t *usually* work with the ladies.”
“Is that a yes?”
“What the hell, you only live twice.” The two men each pulled out reinforced gloves and began pulling open the doors of the car.
Embassy - Elevator Shaft
Waiting below the elevator, Ethan removed his jacket and began to reverse it. He briefly checked his wrist monitor and noted that Golitsyn just finished copying the information and smiled and transmitted into a microphone.
“He's got it. Saved your ass again Jack.”
“Give me a break, Pops.”
“Such a nice ass,” Sarah quipped with a smile in her voice.
“And a lonely ass,” Jack flirted back mock-morosely.
Ethan rolled his eyes and to others on the line, offered his commentary, “Sarah's reconsidering their date again. Claire, transport in five minutes.”
Embassy - Elevator Shaft
Ethan, readied for exit, comms the onsite tech, “In position. Jack open the door, let the package roll.”
“Roger that. Opening doors now.”
After a minute, the doors opened for the elevator itself as up top, the two NSA freelancers pried open the other doors. Jack is as surprised as the two Xanders as he knocked his glasses down the shaft and swore.
“Hey!” shouted Xander Cage at the in the shaft, and drew the X-Gun, what his group called the multiple-round weapon he’d been issued a few days before for the Anarchy mission. “Hands where we can see ‘em. Move over here nice and easy.”
Down below, Ethan has stripped off his mask and now wearing the reversed jacket, exited the small door at the base of the elevator shaft with Sarah. They paused a moment and listened as soon as they heard what sounded to be Jack swearing and then the apparent shout out a short ‘Hey’ before the transmission ceased. Glancing quickly into the wrist unit, Ethan watched as the spectacles go static after a few seconds.
“Jack? Jack! Jim, I’ve lost Jack!”
“Ethan, I’m not in control of the elevator; it’s resuming normal operation. Jack’s locator shows a fall, Ethan. No further signal. Get the two of you out of there.”
Ethan is staring at the static on the monitor that once was Jack’s signal.
Knowing what the continued silence meant, Ethan inhaled and thought quickly, “Stairway, you’re wrapped, go to transport.”
Hannah nodded and responded as she headed further up the stairs, her coverage of the secondary route complete, “En route. Good luck.”
Embassy - Elevator Shaft
The elevator car engaged with a sharp jolt -- Jack watched as his equipment sparked for no apparent reason – unless he was being cut loose. IT was possible his team believed him dead from a fall.
Jack looked nervous as he moved slowly over to the two somewhat unorthodox-looking agents.
“Hey. The car’s starting to rise. There’s no one in it.”
“You better hurry then,” Cage told him, “Because if it’s not responding to us it’s going for the roof.”
Cage reached out to help Jack with the slimmest of margins as Xander stepped back and covered him with a drawn weapon.
Embassy Work Room
Golitsyn retrieved the disk from the computer and slipped it into his jacket pocket before heading back toward the door.
Phelps continued to stare at the continued static from the glasses monitor, trying to fathom a meaning. Things weren’t working out as planned, and it made him nervous. He came to a decision then raced out of the apartment.
“Man down, everybody. From what little I can detect the elevator went up to the roof. If Jack fell, he’s gone now. Stay where you are. I’m on my way.”
Embassy Work Room
Golitsyn, disk in hand, tired of trying to call the elevator, the button of which didn’t even light up. He looked around, then examined the elevator doors. Forcing open the doors, the agent jumped into the shaft as had Ethan and Sarah, makes his exit through the small door at the elevators shaft’s base.
Nearing the Charles Bridge
“En route, almost to the Charles,” Phelps huffs over his transmitter as he ran through the night. “Be there shortly.”
Phelps after a few minutes had dashed onto the Charles Bridge in the direction of the US Embassy. He looked over his shoulder, the manner of Jack’s loss causing paranoia to seep into his mind beyond the normal levels healthy for a senior agent. He wasn’t sure, but he could almost swear that the man and two women on the far side of the bridge were watching him before they turned away. And
Embassy – Upper Level
Xander Cage had caught Augustus Gibbons’ attention and that of two Marine guards, waving them into the ‘Denied Access Area.’
“Gentlemen, what do we have here?” he asked as he saw Jacked tied up and unconscious,
“Guy was in the elevator,” Xander Gates remarked as he pocketed the man’s few weapons and such, “But he’s all yours. I think you should hide them; hopefully they’ll think he’s dead.”
“Where are you going?”
“We’re going after the thief, then the others. Can you get it so that if we call about more guys we shoot with the X-Guns, you can send some folks to d a quick pick up?”
“Yeah, I have my glasses on. Just keep yours on, and I’ll be able to guide reinforcements.”
“Hey, since the Mayor’s downstairs, you might let him know what we’re doing on his turf. He doesn’t have to tell anybody…but it seems polite.”
“Kid, Alexander, you keep thinking and I’ll stick you with my job when I retire.”
“Threats like that fill with more fear than Anarchy ever did. X, let’s rock.”
Triple X looked at his friend and raced after him, “That’s better, just don’t start talking like them. Remember, we’re only in this to keep the system in place so we can piss it off.”
Outside the Embassy, Golitsyn escaped notice and pushed through the service area door. Hurrying past a drunken couple who were in the midst of a lover’s quarrel, in Russian, he stepped into the street and began departure.
Phelps raced across the bridge to link up with Ethan and the team, but stopped suddenly, and acting like he hears something, scanned the area as though sensing something off.
Augustus was quickly called by the Marine Guard to take extremely quiet custody of the captured and head-thumped agent (Jack). Having left instructions to report the man over the common radio as dead to throw off his two accomplices, the Xanders hurried after the woman with the senator now lost track of.
Embassy - Outside
Having followed the foreign agent outside the embassy, with Ethan continuing to watch, Sarah reported to Jim Phelps, “The package is in the open. He’s in the open.”
“I’ve got a shadow,” Phelps assured them, though the trio heading over the bridge toward him didn’t act like they were in much of a hurry, especially when the man from halfway activated a car alarm system on his vehicle on the embassy side of the river.
“Can you lose him?” Ethan asked with concern. Sarah watched as Golitsyn continued getting away. Fog began to roll move over the river towards the bridge, the temperature changing quickly enough that the fog started to obscure it.
“He’s out of pocket. We can’t, Jim.”
“Abort. That’s an order.”
“Negative, Golitsyn’s on the move.”
“No, damn it, no, I said ABORT!”
Sarah and Ethan argued in Russian as two men, the less-bulky one wearing glasses, nonchalantly left through the main entrance smoking and laughing as they circled around toward the service exit side of the embassy. Their walk was fast as moved in the direction of the bridge, but stopped after a moment, checking watches and apparently discussing something.
“Sarah eye on the package,” Ethan told her, “Jim, I’m coming to you.”
Sarah shook her head, “Jim gave an abort, we should walk away.”
“No, we’re going to recover the disk, understand?! Now move!”
Ethan took off for the bridge, leaving Sarah to shadow Golitsyn. For the moment, the two men were forgotten. They follow the girl, who is following the other man.
“Hey Triple, what’s the deal here? It looks like there were a bunch of guys watching these guys, who are after the other guy.”
“I don’t know, but since the Lone Ranger has whatever was in the embassy, I’m guessing your boss wants us to get him.”
“Hey, I’m just backin’ you up, my man. I’m not part of the system.”
“You keep tellin’ yourself that.”
Hannah, out of the embassy and down the way a little, hurried toward the Claire and the getaway vehicle.
Ethan moves to the bridge stairs, passing three people that act like they’ve lost someone or something. Phelps transmits.
“Where are you, Ethan?”
“About two hundred yards from the bridge.”
“They’re covering this frequency, Ethan. Cut all radio communications. Repeat. Cut all radio communications.”
Ethan continued to run toward the stairs that went up to the bridge, sparing only a glance toward Claire sitting in the getaway car. The experienced agent looked on his wrist monitor as he moved, and sees and hears what Phelps does. Which was complete silence as Ethan’s mentor looked back over his shoulder to see the trio has turned to look over the side and point into the fog. Otherwise, the bridge seemed deserted.
Sarah followed Golitsyn as he hurried toward a cobblestone walkway that ran along the river. She lost sight of him as he walked into the fog, but noticed the two men from before heading along the path between her and Ethan. One of them pointed something, and a car alarm went off in the other direction. The men stopped and looked around, one laughing at the other before they began arguing about something.
‘Too obvious to be agents,’ she thought, and continued after the enemy.
The Charles Bridge
Phelps’ point of view changed drastically and jerkily as his head moved around in search of the presence he’d reported following him. As he whirls again, Ethan watched in the wrist monitor as he approached the stairs of the bridge, the barrel of a gun is visible. A gunshot rings out, and after a second, the perspective revealed a bloody hole in Phelps’ chest. The senior agent’s head seemed to rock, then the man tumbled into the river below.
Ethan was shocked and horrified, “Jim!”
The Charles Bridge
Ethan raced up the remaining stairs as a man and two women ran over and looked over the side of the bridge. He runs up and notes their confusion, and that there is blood on the pavement. Ethan reached into his pocket for his weapon, but kept it there as he moved to the railing and saw only the dark, icy river below. The man turned to him.
“Did you, did you see what happened?” asked the Englishman in his mid-to-late twenties, “We heard a gunshot and then a splash.”
“No, no I didn’t,” Ethan replied with a little uncertainty. He turned to look over to the embankment and saw a figure he believed was Golitsyn hurrying along the river walkway. “But maybe he knows something.”
Ethan raced in pursuit.
Ethan ran toward the getaway car, and noted that two men seemed to be gaining on the drunken couple from the embassy that had meandered after Golitsyn and been overtook Sarah. As he neared the car, he looked up to see Claire’s outline in the driver’s seat, but almost as quickly as he does, the car explodes and bursts into flames, throwing him back.
“Claire!” he screams, and watched the burning vehicle that had killed another teammate on this fubar mission. Ethan remembered Sarah, and ignoring the gathering crowd, rushed toward the embankment.
Sarah came out of the fog near the riverbank to see Golitsyn now strolling at a leisurely pace before a man steps out of the fog, dressed all in black and quite bulky, and seems to ask for a light. Sarah drew closer, but turned to find that the two men have intercepted the couple that hadn’t stopped following her.
Sarah is almost to Golitsyn when two things happened: first, she heard the faint but distinct sounds of two suppressed rounds being fired, and second, the man in front of Golitsyn pulled the foreign agent toward him. Sarah turned quickly, seeing one of the men standing over the couple, the other aiming toward her. She threw herself to the side.
Xander Gates fired, but not at the ‘trapped’ female agent. Having selected the bloody knock-out rounds, he fired at the form attacking the thief. The mystery man seemed to expect something was up and the rounds seemed to strike only Golitsyn. Xander raced forward with speed born of fleeing vamps in Sunnydale. Sarah moved to draw a weapon, but the man was too quick for her, firing twice in her direction as the man further back seemed to do the same. Blackness engulfed her.
Sensing something wrong, Sarah quickens her pace. The man is now hunched over Golitsyn, facing away from Sarah, going through Golitsyn’s pockets.
Ethan raced to the embankment in time to see the two men spotted earlier and bodies on the ground. He watched as they nonchalantly fired into Sarah and continued on toward yet another man who lunged into the fog toward the river. The drunken couple were on the ground, and seemed to ooze blood, as did Sarah. From behind him he could hear three people, presumably those on the bridge, as they approached.
‘Damn! We were set up and trapped!’ he screamed mentally and raced for the cover of the alley as a police boat began to pull toward the shore.
River Embankment – Five Minutes Later.
Augustus, the Mayor and three marines came up and found Xander Gates being pulled away from the body of Golitsyn, his attempts to keep the man alive unsuccessful, as the other four members of his group casually faced off with police, some of whom recognized them from the events of the previous few days.
The Mayor spoke quickly in Czech to the policemen, who concentrated their efforts on crowd control and the burning car. Augustus nodded his thanks to the politician, who then cleared his throat and having been briefed, returned to the embassy.
“What do we have here?” the NSA man asked aloud in hopes someone would answer. The British fellow, Wyndham-Price stepped up to the plate and gestured first at the couple, then Sarah.
“We have two people who might be part of the IMF trap team, and one from the ones being trapped,” the man politely informed him, “None of them were immediately engaged in the other man’s murder. There was another, the one who killed him, but he managed to use the thief as a partial shield. And as he didn’t drop, must not have been hit in an exposed location.”
“Any idea who he was with?”
Wesley looked to Triple X, who took over.
“From what I could see, and what Xander told me while we tried to keep the other dude alive, she didn’t seem to know what was going on. So we probably have a lone gunman show up and while the CIA yahoos danced around each other.”
“How’s Alexander doing?”
“He’s a bit freaked about not being able to save the thief; stealing’s a lot different than murder. And we still don’t know whose side the guy was on.”
“He was CIA, I’m guessing. The bait for the trap. What about the other guy, the one who ran to the bridge and here?”
Wesley cleared his throat then answered, “He seemed genuinely upset about the loss of his friend on the bridge. I believe that somehow the mystery man must have sniped the man from down here somewhere, especially as the direction seems to be approximate, and we know the murdered fellow is over here.”
“Alright, I can buy that for now. So either someone on his team we haven’t seen is their mole, he is a very good actor and is himself the villain of the piece, or this mystery man is.”
“Or a combination of the three.”
“Unfortunately, you’re right. Well, we’ll keep the captures under wraps for a few days while you head to France. Since they seemed to be possible targets, something will come out during questioning.”
“We’ll let the CIA have ‘em back.”
“I was just hoping that as possibly compromised personnel, they weren’t going to … disappear.”
“Now Wesley, we don’t do that unless we *know* they’re somehow damaged goods. And in this case, if suspicions linger, only their employment will be terminated.”
Dark Street – Phone Booth – Ten minutes after leaving the embankment
Ethan disassembled a payphone receiver and placed an electronic device into it before putting the unit back together. The unsettled agent input the fourteen digit number he’d come to know and use from frequent utilization.
After a moment, a flat voice comes on the other side, “Sat Com Seven.”
“Central Europe. Unsecured.”
“Bravo. Echo. One. One.”
“Switching,” came the response, then after a moment a familiar voice came online.
“This is Kittredge.”
A pause, then a series of odd clicking noises sounded over the line the line before Kittredge responds speaks again.
“My team: Sarah, Claire, Jack, even Jim—Hannah, maybe, I, I don’t know.”
“Are you damaged?”
“They knew we were coming. Golitsyn’s dead too it looks. There were at least five of them, with an unknown that got away with the disk. I think I recognized two of them from the party but can’t be sure.”
“Are you intact?”
“Do you read me? The list is in the open!”
“Let's just bring you in safely, and then we'll worry about that, okay? Were you followed?” Ethan closed his eyes as Kittredge reassured him over the telephone by remaining calm and directed. “Hunt?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Don’t think, be sure. Are you clean?”
“Location green. One hour. I’ll be there myself.”
“You’re in Prague?”
“Heard a lot about you, Hunt; don’t disappoint me.”
River Embankment – Five minutes after that
The Xander from Sunnydale approached the group, tossing his suit jacket and gloves into a nearby garbage can; the blood seemed only to be on those, and he’d rather deal with the cold until he got to the car.
“We ready?” he asked the members of his ‘team.’
“For what?” the NSA man asked
“We put a bug on the guy pretending to be Senator Waltzer. He’s just gone off my wrist scanner’s range. If we get in the car, we can follow him to his next stop and see if he’s responsible for this mess.”
Tatiana looked at her new friend closely, “Are you sure, Sasha?”
He smiled at the Russian nickname she’d given him the evening before, a sign of the trust her and her sister seemed to extend to both men. He nodded while exhaling through his nose. “Yeah, let’s get into the car where I can change into my regular clothes and duster. By the time we catch up to the guy, maybe I’ll be warm again.”
“How do you wish to handle this, Alexander?”
“Wes, I think you three go through the front and we’ll neutralize them when X and I come out of the kitchen. Beyond that, speed’s our concern.”
“Do we use the, the X Guns you squeezed from the NSA?”
Augustus didn’t look happy at the continuing outflow of assets without prior request, but remained quiet as he watched the team actually start to coalesce into something beyond a very lucky one-shot mission.
“Yeah, but anyone we take out needs to get taken with us when we go so nobody catches on to us doing the non-lethal thing.”
The group nodded and headed for their vehicles, leaving their ‘boss’ to handle clean up with the authorities and the embassy security.
Prague – Older Section of the City - Restaurant
Ethan walks in the glass front doors, right next to an enormous fish tank, part of the restaurant's exterior wall. He scans the clientele carefully -- maybe a dozen PATRONS are scattered around.
Eugene Kittredge is seated at a table in the middle. He and Ethan make eye contact. Ethan walks to the table, a couple of quick, seemingly cursory glances around the room as he goes. Kittredge has been working on a pretty good-sized lobster. He rises to greet Ethan and they sit.
“I can't tell you how sorry I am. I know how much Jim in particular meant to you, Ethan. Personally as well as professionally.”
Ethan spotted a stack of documents on the table and picked them up. Canadian passport, credit cards, driver's license and more. The documents of a life that isn’t his.
“Passport, visas - you know the drill. We'll work the exfiltration thru Canada, debrief you at Langley. Throw the Prague police a bone, you know toss them a few suspects. Follow me?”
“Yeah. I follow you.”
“We've lost enough agents for one night.”
“You mean I've lost enough agents for one night.”
Kittredge refrained from responding, but hen reticently relented, “You seem hell bent on blaming yourself, Ethan.”
“Who else is left?”
“Yes. I see your point.”
“Why was there another team?”
“Of IMF agents. At the Embassy. Tonight.”
“I don't quite follow you.”
“Let's see if you can follow me around this room,” he deadpanned, eyes scanning the room, “The couple waltzing around me in the Embassy at 9 and 11; the waiter behind Hannah at the top of the staircase; Bowtie at 12 o'clock. The other IMF team, but I’m guessing the drunk couple the other guys shot were also yours. You're worried about me when we need to find out who the unknowns are. Why?”
“You're right,” Kittredge agreed tightly, “Maybe this'll save some time.”
The IMF members in the room seemed to have grown uneasy at Ethan’s revelation. Kittredge indicated with a raised hand that everything’s still alright. The CIA-IMF official pulled more documents from his jacket.
“For a little over two years now we've been spotting serious blowback in IMF operations. We have a penetration. The other day we decoded a message on the Internet from a Czech we know as ‘Max.’”
“The arms dealer.”
“That's right. Max, it seems, has two unique gifts, a capacity for anonymity and for corrupting susceptible agents. This time he's gotten to someone on the inside - he's put himself in a position to buy our NOC list. An operation he referred to as ‘Job 314.’ The job he thought Golitsyn was doing tonight.”
Ethan connected a couple of dots, and tiredly guessed, “The list Golitsyn stole was a decoy.”
“Correct the actual list is safe at Langley. ‘Golitsyn’ was a lightning rod, one of ours.”
“This whole operation was a mole hunt. Do you have anyone following up to see who killed him?”
“Yes, the mole's deep inside. And, like you said…you survived.”
Ethan stared at Kittredge without expression, and considers his options. Kittredge continued, “I want to show you something, Ethan.”
He now shoves the papers across the table, copies of a Wisconsin bank account in the name of Donald and Margaret Ethan Hunt, with a balance of $127, 000.
“Since your father's death, your family's farm has been in sub-chapter S and now, suddenly, they're flush with over a hundred and twenty grand in the bank. Dad's illness was supposed to have wiped out the bank account, dying slowly in America after all, can be a very expensive proposition Ethan. So, why don't we go quietly out of here onto the plane...”
“How about if we just go quietly into the bathroom and I wash your mouth out with soap you pathetic button-down bureaucratic asshole.”
“Ethan, I can understand you're very upset.”
“Kittredge, you've never seen me very upset.”
Ethan takes something from his jacket pocket. While Kittredge talks, Ethan unwraps whatever is in his hand. Two women and a man familiar to the IMF team in the Embassy that had done a quick reconnoiter before fading from the crowd at the embankment, entered the front of the restaurant. ‘Bowtie’ decided on action as the best option, reaching into his jacket. The couple of dancers remained frozen for a moment, but demonstrate great recovery as they emulated his action.
The three at the door reacted faster, already prepared for action, weapons coming out.
“All right, enough is enough Hunt. You've bribed, cajoled, killed…and relied on intimate loyalties to get away with it. You're determined to shake hands with the devil and I'm going to make sure you do it in hell.”
Ethan finished with mashing together a special plastic explosive in his hand that had been disguised as gum, and began to go into action designed at getting out of the restaurant successfully. A commotion and screaming began even as he swatted Kittredge’s glass of wine off the table in one quick motion and hurled the wad of gum so that it stuck to the tank. His eyes widen even as he heard suppressed shots being exchanged behind him.
The aquarium glass shattered with explosive force, hundreds of gallons of water neutralizing the man and woman even as they lose consciousness from back shots from the two Xanders coming out of the kitchen area in the rear.
Ethan bolted for the door, leaving his coat behind as legitimate patrons now terrified at the sudden outbreak of chaos also sought to exit. Bowtie fell hard to the floor after three rounds hit him from different angles. The agent felt two stings in his side, scratches that hurt like everything.
Xander Cage pressed toward Ethan’s previous location and fired a rubber bullet round at Kittredge’s back before the man could be able to id them later. Kittredge felt the force carry through the thin vest he was wearing under his close, enough to knock the air out of him.
“What now, Cowboy?” he asked Gates, “Our main guy got away and his jacket’s still here.”
“Do clean up of the bodies. We’ll get him later if the boss want us to try.”
“Alright. Our part in this seems over.”
“By the way…Merry Christmas, man.”
“Back at ya.”
By the time they’d loaded the IMF team into the vehicle, Kittredge had managed to sneak back out through the kitchen and elude capture. But he was no longer a hundred percent certain about Hunt’s innocence or guilt. And somehow he’d get back at the well-wishing unknowns.