Chapter 6: Jones


"Can we all consider for a moment how much of a low-blow this is?" Nick whispered. I gave him a confused, sideways glance. "Hijacking a plane, that is," he elaborated. I continued my blank, uncomprehending stare. "Being that I'm an American and all," he looked at me, his visage a mix of disbelief and worry.

"What are you on about?" I asked.

We were sitting at a terminal in the Aeroporto di Firenze, keeping our heads low and our faces obscured by books, glasses, or newspapers. Natasha sat across the terminal from us, while Matthias was at the next gate over. We found ourselves here because we required transport to Africa. The middle of the Sahara. As we lack an 'Oktocopter,' Matthias decided the easiest way to obtain that transport was going to be hijacking a plane. Unfortunately for us, the Italian military is spread thin, which means that a large amount of airports are also being used as military refueling stations. That, of course, means that there is a rather significant security detail present in the airport. Matthias said it wouldn't be a problem, but I can't help but to think Italy is good at making shotguns for a reason.

The plan is a simple one, because as Natasha says, the simplest plans leave are the easiest to adapt. When we are given the go-ahead from Daphne and Renard, who are helping us but will not join us on our flight, we're going to take a group of twelve or so civilians as hostages, and march them at gunpoint to the nearest 747, threatening to kill them all if the security tries to stop us. I'd like future generations to know that, yes, we were aware that this plan was incredibly stupid. That's why we had Renard and Daphne as a fallback plan. Daphne infiltrated the air traffic control tower armed with a sniper. Renard, meanwhile, wrapped the back-up generators and main power lines of the airport in C4. If our initial plan went south, he'd detonate, shutting off power to the entire airport. That would create enough of a distraction for us to make it on to the tarmac, where Daphne would cover us as we attempted to steal a plane.

The hardest part would be getting Katie on board. We had already managed to sneak her onto the tarmac, inside of a large, wooden shipping container we had stolen the day before from an industrial-strength glue factory (a less exciting adventure, lots of really good one-liners from Nick about 'sticky situations' though). However, how we were going to get her into the cargo area of a 747 was beyond me.

We knew Renard was about his dirty work before we received any sort of notice from him or Daphne. The guards around the terminal had begun to frantically communicate in hushed voices, and every once in a while, a group of guards would rush by the gate, clearly panicked. No alarms though, no announcements either. I was surprised at the time, but retrospectively, this seemed obvious. The authority wouldn't want to cause panic, that would just make it easier for the saboteur to do his work.

Renard was less discretionary.

"Hello?! Is this on?!" a voice crackled across the intercom. The civilians glanced around, confused by the informal announcement, and the guards stood stock-still. "Okay! Alright, hey! It's Renard. Matthias, I guess this is one of those 'measure twice cut once' things, but it turns out that C4 I planted," the collective expression of the crowd of civilians was priceless, "had timed detonators, not remote detonators. Of course, I didn't realize that until after I armed them. Anyway, long-story short, they're gonna go off in... Well, right about n-"

The foundation of the building shook violently, and we were plunged into darkness (with the exception of the blinding natural light coming in through the windows.) Natasha wasted no time, she sprung into action, and, seemingly effortlessly, she blew out the kneecaps of the two nearest guards with her handgun. From the opposite side of the gate.

"That was an amazing shot!" I called to her as she ran towards us, pulling out my own pistol (Matthias had given both Nick and I our own handguns).

"I missed, that was Matthias!" she said. I spun around, Matthias has seemingly materialized out of nowhere, and was taking cover behind a pillar. The entire security detail of the airport was descending upon us, armed to the teeth.

"Smith, get down!" Matthias yelled. Nick grabbed me, and pulled me to the floor just as one guard, armed with a mean-looking machine gun opened fire. Bullets riddled the seats Nick and I had been using for seating a moment ago, and for cover now. The already screaming crowd totally lost it. The ran like headless chickens. Matthias blended into the horde, using them as cover. I lost track of him for a few seconds, until he opened fire again. He shot two guards in the chest, and a third, unlucky bastard had a hole punched through his cranium. I saw Matthias grimace visibly as the dead guard crumpled.

"With me!" Natasha barked, grabbing Nick's arm and dragging him towards the jet bridge. We blew past the attendant who was cowering behind his desk, and paused momentarily as Natasha shot a hole in the glass doors that blocked off the walkway. If they weren't too busy panicking, I'd like to think the crowd would've been cheering us on. That particular flight had been delayed an hour five times consecutively.

As we bolted down the jetway, Matthias close behind us, the lights in the airport flickered back to life.

"The hell?!" Matthias exclaimed, and we all froze for a second.

"And we're back!" Renard's voice crackled over the intercom again, "So Matt, I really dropped the ball this time, which is unusual for me, but I didn't have time to sabotage the back-up generators, and Daphne has been keeping them from starting up manually all this time. Anyway, if you head to the tarmac, she won't be there to cover you. I'm gonna go find her, and then we're gonna have to bail! Really sorry! We'll see you in Greece!"

"SON. OF. A. BITCH!" Matthias screamed.

"Oh! Almost forgot! There's a lot of red lights and alarms going off here, and a lady is saying 'unidentified aerial anomaly approaching' so that seems bad! Best of luck!"

"You three go on, I'm going to go find Renard and kill him," Matthias snarled, but Natasha grabbed him by his collar and began dragging him towards the stairs down to the tarmac. Nick and I followed after. The guards, who apparently had kindly paused to let us listen to our message, came back with a vengeance.

"Storm clouds," I muttered as we made it onto the tarmac.

"Where did those come from?" Nick asked.

"Hey! Matthias! Isn't this gonna make take-off difficult?" I called.

"We have no choice!" Matthias was already bounding over to the next gate where a gleaming 747 awaited us.

"Wait!" Nick's eyes grew wide, "MATTHIAS WAIT! What was that last thing Renard said? About the aerial anomaly?" Realization dawned on all four of us simultaneously. A bolt of lightning rocketed down from the sky, impacting the 747. The ensuing explosion threw Matthias to the ground. Cackling filled the air.

"NO!" I screamed.

"Jones!" Nick called after me, but I ignored him, I was already bolting to the sparking wreckage of the plane.

"Did you miss me?" a sickeningly familiar voice echoed through the air. I don't have to tell you who it belonged to. You already know.

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