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The Journey Continues, Continuation of "Continuum"
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Dragondog
Posted: 24 January 2020 - 08:42 PM                                    
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Phoenix Special Agent
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Episode:Halloween Knights
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QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 24 January 2020 - 10:40 AM)
Ha! I love being able to write a good cliffhanger! Now you have to wait until next week, Dragondog! In response to a couple of your comments, at the end of the episode The Wall, Mac is playing a video game one a computer...I believe hockey so I stole this idea. Joanna's not thrilled he agreed because she really doesn't want him involved with Phoenix in any way...and she knows how these things go!! LOL!! As for the computer games he created, my inspiration was Candy Crush and Pet Rescue Saga!!

Well, the wait will be worth it tongue.gif

Okay, I forgot about the game in The Wall XD

Joanna's reasoning is fair enough. As someone who's never been in a relationship, I'll go by the word XD

Never had the pleasure of playing Candy Crush or any of the others. Maybe someday smile.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 28 January 2020 - 10:36 AM                                    
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DXS Agent
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Chapter 34: MacGyverland (Part 2)


MacGyver was halfway across the front lawn when he heard Joanna call to him from behind.

“Hey! You can’t do that!” she yelled.

He stopped and turned. “Do what?” he asked impatiently.

“Tell me you got an agent killed and then just walk out.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it,” he replied before turning to walk away...again.

“Is it classified?” she asked, now keeping pace at his elbow.

“Not yet,” he mumbled.

“Then please tell me about it while you still can.”

MacGyver stopped in his tracks and looked at her. He should shut down this whole conversation right now. Then he remembered what Pete had said about how lack of communication ruined his first marriage to Connie and told Mac not to make the same mistake he had.

He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. “A veteran field operative was tasked with handing over a microchip containing top secret information to a U.S. representative in an undisclosed foreign country. Instead, it appears he set up a rendezvous with an enemy of the state, gave him the chip, and then was killed with his own gun.”

“He killed himself?”

“The authorities are working to determine whether it was suicide or just made to look that way.”

“But what does all this have to do with you?” Joanna asked, her brow furrowed in confusion.

“The operative was the same agent that had started training for recertification using the new program. A routine cyber security check found that his computer had been compromised. It’s entirely possible the enemy hacked in through the program I designed.” He sighed again. “I should have been more careful, put more security measures in place.”

“You don’t know that for sure,” Jo countered. “And I don’t get why any agent would apparently hand over highly sensitive information to a known enemy.”

“I know,” MacGyver agreed, shaking his head. “None of this makes any sense.”

“So what are you gonna do about it?”

“What can I do? I’m no longer a Phoenix employee, remember?”

“That hasn’t stopped you from working with them before,” she said drily. “Besides, you owe it to yourself and the agent to get to the bottom of this. At least the part about the computer.”

Mac’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Wait a minute. Are you telling me to go to Los Angeles and insert myself into the investigation?”

“That is what you want to do, right?” she asked with a sly smile. “Besides, there’s no school until Monday so I can take your place at Challengers.”

“You are the absolute best, you know that?” he praised just before cupping her face in his large hands and giving her a firm, quick kiss.

XXXXX

MacGyver stared down at the Visitor’s Pass the security guard at Phoenix handed him and curled his lip.

“A tough thing to get used to, huh?” the younger man asked with a smirk.

“Yeah. Kinda makes me feel like a second class citizen around here,” Mac responded flatly.

“You? No way! You’re a legend within these hallowed halls!” the guard exclaimed as he led MacGyver to the elevator and pressed the button.

“A legend?” Mac’s innate modesty scoffed at the idea, but his all-American male ego swelled just a bit.

“You bet! You’re the best field operative Phoenix ever had. Every agent wants to be like you.”

The kid was going overboard now and MacGyver couldn’t help but laugh. “Is that part of the new HR pitch they give you when you get hired now?”

“Hey man, I’m serious! You’re still a big deal around here.”

Uncomfortable with his newly discovered fame, Mac was relieved when the guard deposited him in Craig Bannister’s office and took his leave.

“I don’t suppose I need to ask what you’re doin’ here,” the Director of Foreign Field Operations said after friendly greetings were exchanged.

“I want in on the investigation, Craig.”

“That’s not up to me, Mac.”

“But I thought you were spearheading it.”

Craig chuckled. “That’s above my pay grade, pal. They’re just letting me sniff around because Duncan was one of my men.”

“Who do I need to talk to, then?”

Bannister eyed MacGyver carefully. “You sure you want to get yourself caught up in this?”

“Listen, Craig. I know that his computer was hacked and it could be because of my re-cert program. I need to do this.”

“Fine,” Bannister sighed. “I’ll get you on board. Do you have a place to stay? This could take some time.”

“Yeah, I know. I was plannin’ on lookin’ up an old buddy and bunkin’ with him.”

“Sounds good. You go get settled in and we’ll hit the ground runnin’ in the morning.”

Late that afternoon MacGyver parked his nondescript rental car in front of the Hacienda Village Apartments. A tall, wrought iron fence and sturdy gate separated the courtyard and sprawling, four-story Mediterranean style building from the outside world. It looked like a respectable place in a respectable neighborhood. Mac couldn’t help glancing at the address he had scribbled on a piece of paper while talking to Jack. Yep. The address matched. MacGyver walked to the gate and pressed the button on the panel next to Jack Dalton’s name.

“Hark! Who goes there?!” a gruff voice asked through the speaker.

“It’s me. Mac.”

“Hey buddy!” Jack greeted in his normal voice. “I’ll be right down.”

MacGyver leisurely surveyed his surroundings while he waited for his friend who soon appeared on the other side of the fence, opening the gate to allow MacGyver into the courtyard.

“Nice place you got here. Guess the air limo service is really taking off.”

“Good pun, Kemosabe!” the pilot chortled. “But seriously, I should have taken your advice sooner and got an honest job. I mean, just look at this place! And I don’t have to worry about getting involved with, how shall I say, less than savory businessmen.”

“You mean you’ve finally decided to settle down and stop looking for that one last great adventure?” Mac asked incredulously.

“You bet!” Jack replied, just as MacGyver turned to see his friend’s left eye twitch. “Well, at least for the foreseeable future. Oh, by the way, I got you your own key,” Jack said, digging into the pocket of his bomber jacket.

“You got some pull with the manager?” Mac asked. His question was answered as a tall, blonde female crossed in front of them, waggling her fingers towards Jack. “Let me guess, that’s the manager.”

“You got it, amigo,” Jack confirmed, waggling his fingers in return.

“Sorry I don’t have an extra bedroom,” Jack apologized as Mac dropped his duffle next to the couch.

“No problem. I probably won’t be spending much time here anyway. Mind if I use the phone?”

“Help yourself!”

MacGyver started to dial when his friend interrupted.

“Um, it’s not long distance, is it?”

Mac stopped and glared at his temporary roommate. “Is that a problem?”

“No. I mean, it’s just that I’m on a limited plan,” Jack sputtered.

“I’ll pay you back,” MacGyver muttered.

“I hope you gave Joanna my love,” Jack said when Mac hung up.

“How can you be so sure I was talkin’ to her?”

“Give it up, Mac. You can’t hide your feelings from ole Uncle Jack! I saw you get all googly-eyed as soon as you started talking.”

“She’s fine. And I did not get ‘googly-eyed’!”

Jack held up his hands in surrender. “Whatever you say, compadre! Whatever you say! So, you gonna tell me why you’re back working for Phoenix?”

“I’m not working for them. I’m just helping out.” MacGyver chanced a glance at his friend who eagerly awaited more information. “There was an incidence. I can’t say anything more. It’s--”

“Classified,” Jack frowned. “Why is all the good stuff always ‘classified’?”

“Jack, an agent died! I wouldn’t exactly call that ‘good stuff’!” Mac snapped.

“Oh. That’s too bad, Mac. Really.” Jack paused and the air hung heavy between them. “So, how’d he die?”

MacGyver glared at his friend.

“Right. It’s classified.”

XXXXX

Early Saturday morning MacGyver walked into the Phoenix office building and picked up his pass from the weekend security guard. He smiled to himself when he saw that Bannister had arranged a Civilian Consultant badge for him. Less than twenty-four hours in the city and he was already climbing the ranks. He was headed for Craig’s office when he met the man in the hallway.

“As of thirty minutes ago this investigation is officially classified,” Bannister said in place of a friendly greeting. “From here on in, all information is strictly on a need-to-know basis.”

“Got it,” Mac acknowledged, falling into step beside his friend. He was silently relieved to know he hadn’t really lied to Jack. Just misled him prematurely. Oh great, now he was starting to think like Jack! MacGyver shook his head to reorder his thoughts. “So where are we headed?”

“The computer lab. There’s someone I want you to meet. Oh, and Mac…” Bannister put a hand on his arm to halt their progress. “I just got the medical examiner’s official cause of death on Duncan. The gunshot wound was self-inflicted.”

MacGyver shook his head sadly. “We’ll get to the bottom of this. We have to.”

Moments later the electronic doors to one of the computer labs slid open and Mac and Bannister entered. Several technicians, all wearing white lab coats, worked silently on consoles stationed throughout the room. Craig led them to a young Asian man on the other side of the lab.

“Jimmy Choo, I’d like you to meet MacGyver. MacGyver, this is Jimmy Choo, Phoenix’s number one computer tech. You’ll be working together on the hacking issue.”

“It’s nice to finally meet you in person. I’ve heard a lot about you,” Jimmy said as he shook Mac’s hand.

“Let me guess, the ‘hallowed halls’ speak?”

“No,” Bannister chuckled, “not this time. You might remember Jimmy’s dad, James Choo. He was a foreign operative back in your day.”

“Of course,” Mac replied. “I knew that name sounded familiar. What’s your dad up to these days?”

“He’s retired, sir.”

“Call me Mac. Tell your dad I said hello. We never worked any assignments together, but I heard he was a heck of an agent.”

“Yes, he was,” the younger Choo confirmed. A slight hitch in his voice caught MacGyver’s attention, but he decided not to question it. At least not yet.

“So, what’ve you got so far?” Bannister asked Jimmy, quickly turning the conversation back to business.

The young man sighed. “It was definitely a professional job. The mainframe was hacked externally, not from a Phoenix terminal, so we know it’s not an inside job.”

“Not necessarily,” MacGyver interrupted. “Over half the population owns a computer or has access to one so everyone, even Foundation employees, are still under suspicion.”

“Of course, I hadn’t thought of that,” Choo replied apologetically.

Craig raked his fingers through his hair in both anger and frustration. “We’re supposed to have a state-of-the-art security system throughout the building! How could something like this happen? Did Mac’s program compromise it?”

Choo shook his head. “Nope. The dude who did this was really good. He would’ve gotten in no matter what.”

“Did you find anything else?” Mac asked, leaning over Jimmy’s shoulder staring at the rows of numbers and letters on his computer monitor.

“It appears that once the hacker gained access, he honed in on Duncan’s terminal and wrote a program to piggy-back on the recertification program MacGyver created.”

“What kind of program?” Bannister asked anxiously.

“I don’t know, sir. I’m trying to decode it right now but it’s highly complex as well as encrypted. It’s gonna take some time.”

“Well, then I’ll let you two get at it,” Craig said, patting MacGyver on the shoulder.

“Uh, can I see you for a sec? Privately?” Mac asked, hoping he didn’t sound as uncertain as he felt.

Once they made their way to an unoccupied corner, MacGyver turned to Bannister and lowered his voice.

“My computer skills are a little rusty. That stuff Jimmy was supposedly reading looked like gibberish to me. I think I’d be of better use in the field tracking down whoever Duncan gave the classified info to.”

“I’m sorry, Mac. That’s not my call.”

“Then talk to somebody!”

Bannister’s eyes hit the floor as he remained silent.

“Wait a minute,” MacGyver began thoughtfully. “I got access to this assignment pretty easily. You made a deal with the board, didn’t you?”

“I promised I’d keep you here at headquarters,” Bannister confirmed.

“Aw man!”

“It’s a liability thing, Mac! You’re a civilian now. We can’t send you traipsing into hostile foreign territory! You can either stay here and help out or catch the next flight home.”

“Fine,” Mac replied through a clenched jaw. “I’ll stay and see what I can do. And don’t worry...I’ll stay out of trouble.”

“Famous last words,” Craig mumbled as he walked away, leaving Mac alone with the computer boy genius.

After two hours of watching Jimmy pound away furiously on his keyboard, MacGyver decided it was time for a break. Apparently Jimmy did, too, as he sat back in his chair and scrubbed his hands with his face.

“This is impossible!” the young man spat, frustration overflowing.

“Whoa, take it easy. You said yourself it was a complicated program. Cut yourself some slack,” Mac advised.

“I’ve been working on this for three days,” Jimmy countered. “I can decode most programs in a matter of hours. So much for being the number one computer tech at Phoenix!”

“Look, why don’t we go grab something to eat and you can come back and look at it with fresh eyes?”

“That’s it, MacGyver! You’re a genius!”

“I am?”

“Yeah! I need a pair of fresh eyes! Will you take a look at it after lunch?”

Mac hesitated. “I’m not sure I’m the right man for the job, but I’ll give it a shot.”

When the two men returned from the cafeteria, MacGyver sat down at Choo’s computer.

“I’m gonna try and see if I can find the hacker’s location,” Jimmy said as he booted up another machine.

For the rest of the afternoon, Mac sat staring at the monitor, trying to make sense of the seemingly random rows of numbers and letters. He dug into his memory and ran as many decoding programs as he could remember, fondly recalling his own computer hacking days...all done in the name of research, of course. His eyes were burning and his back was aching and he was ready to call it a day when a small sequence at the bottom of the screen suddenly looked familiar. With renewed energy, MacGyver continued his investigation.

“I think I got it,” he announced to Jimmy thirty minutes later.

“You did? How? What is it?”

“Let me get Bannister down here first.”

“We were overthinking this,” Mac explained once Craig arrived and the three men were gathered around the console.

“What do you mean?” Jimmy asked.

“The encryption as well as the code is actually very basic.”

“That can’t be! I started with the most basic decoding programs I know,” Jimmy protested.

“Exactly!” MacGyver exclaimed.

“Would you care to explain yourself?” Bannister demanded.

“I used an old program, and I mean really old, to decipher it. I doubt that most technicians these days are aware of it and, unless I miss my guess, the culprit was counting on that! It also means that whoever wrote this code is probably closer to my age than Jimmy’s.”

“Okay,” Craig capitulated. “So what does it say?”

Mac turned to face his friend. “Remember back in the late fifties when movie theaters were accused of using subliminal messages in films to advertise popcorn and stuff?”

“Yeah, but I thought that was eventually debunked.”

“Not totally. And from what I see, the hacker programed a subliminal message into my recertification program. At least the one accessed with Duncan’s password.”

“Go on,” Craig urged.

“While Duncan was practicing for re-cert, three phrases were flashed on the screen, each for ten milliseconds, in a continuous loop.”

“And what did these phrases say?” Bannister asked in a childish, sing-song voice that indicated he was growing frustrated with MacGyver’s stall tactics.

“It’s bad,” Mac warned, his stomach churning. “The phrases were: ‘Rendezvous with Ahmad’, ‘Hand over microchip’, and ‘Kill yourself with service weapon’.”

“Oh my god,” Craig muttered as the blood drained from his face. “Duncan was brainwashed.”

“Is that even possible?” Jimmy asked, clearly not convinced.

“Given the evidence, I’d say it is,” Mac replied.

“And since the coding used is basically outdated, we can assume it was probably done by someone close to our age, right MacGyver?” Craig deduced.

“Yeah. But that doesn’t exactly narrow the suspect pool,” Mac replied dejectedly.

XXXXX

That evening, per Nikki’s invitation, Craig, MacGyver, and Jack gathered around her dining room table where she served up a scrumptious meal. However, Mac couldn’t help noticing that she barely touched her food and the normally outgoing, opinionated agent barely contributed to the conversation. It was almost as if she didn’t want them there, even though she had asked them to come. When the dishes had been cleared and she was in the kitchen making coffee, Mac decided to broach the subject.

“Hey Craig, is Nikki okay?” he asked in a low voice. “She doesn’t seem to be acting like herself.”

“It’s this thing with Duncan,” Bannister sighed. “She’s taking it really hard.”

“Did they work together much?”

“A couple times over the past few years, but you know how it is.”

“Yeah,” Mac nodded. He knew all too well that underneath her oft-prickly exterior, Nikki had a soft, vulnerable heart.

“Here we go!” Nikki said with what MacGyver knew was forced cheerfulness as she carried a tray of coffee cups into the dining room. When she set a delicate cup of the dark liquid in front of Mac, his first instinct was to push it away. Apparently she had forgotten he hated the stuff. But he stopped himself. Tonight, for Nikki, he would drink coffee. But before anyone could take a sip, Jack spoke up.

“Sorry Nikki, but I gotta get going. It’s getting late and Mac’s my ride.”

Everyone glanced at their watch with Nikki being the first to speak.

“Jack, it’s not even nine o’clock. Surely you can stay for just one cup,” she protested.

“No can do, mon amie. I have an early flight booked and need to get some shut-eye. Can’t be falling asleep at the controls of my fancy new plane, now.”

“You didn’t tell me anything about a flight,” Mac countered.

“Oh, sorry. Must’ve slipped my mind,” Jack apologized to his friend before turning to address the rest of the group. “This super-rich oil baron hired me to fly him to New York for three days. Wants to leave at first light. As a bonus, he’s putting me up in a five-star hotel and covering all my meals and expenses until it’s time to fly him back. So Mac, you’ll have my place all to yourself. Don’t go throwin’ any wild parties or anything.”

MacGyver pulled a face as the others laughed before exchanging good-byes.

When Mac awoke the next morning, the apartment was eerily silent. Jack had already left. Knowing his friend had never been an early riser, MacGyver couldn’t help wondering if the pilot had really gone to sleep last night or just stayed up until time to leave. Mac mentally shrugged, rolled off the couch, stretched out his back muscles, grabbed a granola bar and headed out the door. Upon arriving at Phoenix, he headed straight to the computer lab.

“Find our hacker yet?” he asked Jimmy Choo who was already hard at work.

“No,” the technician admitted. “But based on what we found out yesterday, I’m running an older tracking program in case he’s using an older computer.”

“Good man,” Mac praised, clapping Jimmy on the shoulder before sitting down.

“Listen, Jimmy. I’ve been thinking about your dad. If I remember correctly he’s a couple years younger than me. What made him decide to retire so early?”

“Why do you care?” Choo asked in a clipped tone.

“I don’t know, I just do,” Mac replied innocently.

Jimmy stared at the floor for so long MacGyver didn’t think he was going to get an answer when suddenly the younger man pinned him with an empty gaze and began to speak.

“There’s not a whole lot to tell. My dad was up for recertification and he wiped out in MacGyverland. Phoenix didn’t want to let him go, so they offered him a job in computer program development. Not many people know that my dad was a whiz with technology. Taught me everything I know. Anyway, he turned down the job and retired instead. Said if he couldn’t work in the field he didn’t want to work at all.”

“Aw man, that’s tough,” Mac acknowledged somberly. “But he must be proud of you, following in his footsteps and all. What’s he up to these days anyways?”

“I gotta get back to work,” Jimmy mumbled, ignoring the question and turning his attention back to the computer monitor.

Uneasiness in the pit of MacGyver’s stomach grew as the afternoon progressed. He kept replaying the conversation with Jimmy in his head and didn’t care for the conclusion it kept leading to. Before leaving for the day, he sought out Craig Bannister.

“Hey buddy, how’s it going? Any new information on the hacker?”

Mac shoved his fingers through his hair and blew out a breath. “I think I know who’s behind this.”

“Well, don’t keep me in suspense! Who is it?”

“I think it’s Jimmy’s dad, James Choo.”

Now it was Craig’s turn to blow out a breath as he sank silently into his desk chair, a look of disbelief shrouding his eyes. “It can’t be,” he finally mumbled softly.

“I know. I don’t want to believe it either. He was a great agent, but all the pieces fit. Think about it. He washed out on his recertification and felt railroaded into retirement. Not to mention he has the computer skills to pull this off. What better way to get what he sees as revenge on Phoenix for ending his career?”

“Mac, it’s impossible,” Bannister said sadly. “James Choo committed suicide two days after his retirement.”

XXXXX

MacGyver flopped down on the couch. He had just gotten off the phone with Joanna. They both knew he couldn’t talk about the investigation, but he was hoping some conversation about Challengers and simply hearing her voice would calm his mind. It hadn’t. Who was behind the hacking and subliminal message sending? Theoretically, they were back to square one, yet Mac couldn’t help feeling that the answer was closer than anyone dared to imagine. The phrase, ‘Taught me everything I know’, kept cycling through his brain. He was on the verge of dozing off when suddenly everything fell into place, like tumblers in combination lock. He was reaching for the phone to call Bannister when the buzzer on the wall sounded indicating that someone was at the courtyard gate. Frustrated that he had to delay his call, he got up and walked over to the intercom.

“Jack’s not here,” he said as he pressed the button.

“It’s me, Mac. Nikki. I really need to talk to you,” came the grainy reply.

The desperation in her voice caused MacGyver’s pulse to beat double-time.

“I’ll be right down,” he said into the speaker.

Moments later he escorted Nikki into Jack’s apartment. She was halfway across the living room before she turned, pointing a revolver at Mac’s chest.

“Whoa, Nikki, what’s goin’ on here?” MacGyver asked, holding his hands up in surrender.

“You should’ve drank the coffee, Mac. It was poisoned. You would’ve come home, gone to sleep, and never woke up. Nice and clean and painless.” Her cold, monotone voice was a stark contrast to the pools of tears forming in her eyes.

“C’mon Nikki. You don’t wanna do this.” His voice was calm and gentle.

She remained silent, the gun still aimed at his heart.

“If you really wanted me dead you would’ve shot me already. Put the gun down.” His voice was firmer now.

“I can’t. I have to kill you.”

“Who said?”

“I have to kill you,” she repeated mechanically.

“Okay. Then what? What are you gonna do after you kill me?”

“Kill MacGyver, kill yourself,” she intoned.

“Nikki, you know you don’t want to do this,” Mac repeated.

“I have to.” A tear slid down her cheek.

“Who told you that?” MacGyver gentled his voice once again.

The woman’s brow furrowed slightly as her finger began to put pressure on the trigger.

Mac could feel beads of sweat beginning to form on his forehead.

“You don’t have to kill me and you don’t have to kill yourself. You don’t have to listen to them, you have a choice.”

Nikki stayed silent, but MacGyver noticed her hold on the weapon waiver just a bit. His first instinct was to use the opportunity to wrestle the gun away from her, but he hesitated. The odds of one or both of them getting hurt were too high.

“C’mon Nikki, this isn’t you. We’re friends. Good friends. You don’t wanna kill me. You can’t kill me. It isn’t in you, Nikki. Now put the gun down.”

“I have to--”

“No, you don’t,” Mac interrupted firmly. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t wanna do. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right.”

Tears were now freely flowing down her cheeks. “But I have to,” she insisted, even as her arms lowered.

MacGyver quickly stepped toward her and wrapped his hand around the gun, easing it from her grip as his other arm snaked around her back before they both crumpled to the ground, Nikki sobbing against his chest.

“It’s okay, Nikki. It’s all over now,” he soothed as he gently rocked her back and forth, stroking her hair.

Mac didn’t know how long he sat on the floor, comforting his friend, but he would sit there all night if he needed. Suddenly Nikki sniffled, hiccupped, and pulled back, looking around before her wide eyes met his.

“MacGyver, where am I? What happened?” she asked, panic tinged her voice.

“Everything’s okay,” he quickly assured her. “You’re in Jack’s apartment. You came to kill me but thankfully had second thoughts,” he teased, hoping to coax a smile from her.

“But why? How?”

“I’m pretty sure you were brainwashed, just like Tom Duncan.”

Mac helped Nikki into the kitchen and settled her at the table with a glass of water before heading towards the telephone.

“Who are you calling?” she asked.

“I’m calling Craig to come pick you up and then I’m going to Phoenix and end this once and for all.”

“I’m going with you!” Nikki stood up so fast the wooden chair she had been sitting on skidded across the linoleum floor.

“No way, Nikki,” Mac began to protest, but then he saw the determination in her eyes and knew he was fighting a battle he wouldn’t win. “All right,” he sighed. “I’ll have Bannister meet us there.”

As soon as the trio entered the foundation, MacGyver headed directly to the security desk to sign them in.

“Is Jimmy Choo on the premises?” he asked the guard.

“Let me check the log.”

Mac waited impatiently before the guard answered.

“According to this he’s in computer lab one.”

“Great. Have the fourth floor security officer meet us there,” Mac directed before herding everyone toward the elevators.

“Do you mind telling me what’s going on?” Craig asked, clearly confused and frustrated.

“As soon as I check something out,” MacGyver replied.

The security officer was waiting for them when they arrived at the lab. He slid his key card through the reader and the electronic door slid open. Jimmy swiveled in his chair where he had been working on his computer, obviously taken by surprise.

“Get him away from there and keep an eye on him,” Mac instructed the guard before sitting down in the chair Jimmy had abandon.

MacGyver pounded away on the keyboard, easily breaking and reading encrypted programs to make sure he had the proof he needed. When he was satisfied with his findings, he turned back to Craig and Nikki.

“Contrary to what we were led to believe, the hacker also breached Nikki’s terminal and loaded it with a subliminal message code,” Mac announced.

“You can’t know that!” Jimmy cried from across the room where he stood next to the guard who had a large, meaty hand wrapped around his bicep. “You said yourself you couldn’t read the codes!”

“I’m a fast learner,” MacGyver replied facetiously. “Besides, it was easy once I figured out you were using a nearly obsolete program.”

“Wait a minute,” Bannister broke in. “Are you saying Jimmy did all this?”

“Yes sir. And if you look you’ll see that the activity can be tracked to his father’s computer.”

“But why?” Craig asked Jimmy.

The young man glared at MacGyver. “Why don’t you ask him since he seems to think he knows all the answers?”

“Because I want to hear it from you,” Bannister ground out.

Realizing there was no way out, Jimmy began his story. “I blamed MacGyver for my father’s death,” he confessed. “Mac designed the obstacle course that my dad failed on and lost his field clearance which led to his suicide. I promised myself I would get my revenge by killing MacGyver. I worked night and day to get hired on at Phoenix. But by the time I came on board, he had already left. When I heard that the board wanted to get rid of MacGyverland, I figured he come back to fight for it. And I was right.” Choo paused to send Mac a triumphant smirk.

“But if your beef was with Mac, why get Duncan involved?” Craig asked.

“I needed something big to get everyone’s attention and then divert it away from me, and it worked. You sent all you’re best operatives to track down the man Duncan met with and left me to work the computer angle alone.”

“That way you could feed us fake information about the hacker and shift any suspicion away from you,” Bannister groaned.

“And it was working, too, until you had MacGyver come sniffing around.”

“That’s what I don’t get,” Nikki piped up. “You had plenty of opportunities to kill Mac yourself. Why bother brainwashing me?”

“I couldn’t exactly off him here at Phoenix without getting caught,” Choo replied, rolling his eyes. “I needed someone he trusted. Someone who could get close to him. You were perfect.”

“Perhaps a little too perfect,” Nikki countered. “Mac was able to get into my head far better than you and because of that, he’s still alive. So you’re grand scheme failed in the end.”

“But why instruct them to commit suicide?” Bannister asked Choo.

“I wanted them to feel the hopelessness my father felt and take their own lives like he took his!” Jimmy spat.

Apparently satisfied with Choo’s story, Bannister turned his attention to MacGyver.

“And you figured all this out?”

“Pretty much,” Mac replied casually.

“How?”

“When Jimmy was telling me about his dad, he slipped up and said that James taught him everything he knew about computers. That meant he would know the old coding that other technicians his age were never taught. After that, everything else just kinda fell into place.”

“But what about all those fancy, new-fangled programs he kept running to track down the hacker?” Craig asked.

“They were fakes that he wrote himself,” Mac explained. “That’s why I couldn’t make any sense of them and no other tech could have read them either. He was counting on you assigning him to this case solo. Isn’t that right, Jimmy?”

This time, the young man remained silent and hung his head in defeat.

“And it almost worked,” Craig groaned.

“But it didn’t,” MacGyver assured his friend firmly. “Now how about we call the authorities and wrap this all up?”

XXXXX

The following morning MacGyver and Bannister stood in Phoenix’s psychiatric laboratory anxiously peering through a glass partition watching Doc Beatty “deprogram” Nikki, much as she had done to Jack several years ago when he had been brainwashed to kill a visiting foreign dignitary.

“Is she gonna be okay, doc?” Craig asked as soon as the session ended and the two women returned to the lab.

“She’s going to be fine,” Beatty assured him. “Everything in her brain is one hundred percent Nicole Carpenter.”

“Aw, man, now we’re really in trouble,” Mac groused, albeit with a playful glint in his eyes as his friends broke into carefree laughter.

































Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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