Sarah had serious difficulty sitting still in preparation for the briefing. The conference room was where she'd said goodbye to Mitch before they left to go on that crazy mission. It wasn't crazy but it drove her crazy. And it made her sick with worry. She hated that.
She looked up at the head of the table and saw Dave in a familiar position, hunched over the notes he'd most likely spent the last few hours scribbling on. Even when they were chatting in the lab, he was scribbling. She likened his habit to a form of stress relief, which, she decided after thinking for a moment, it most likely was.
Cass and Chris, she noted, were all adorable and tangled up in each other. She was happy for the both of them, considering how bad a break up Cass had been involved in the year before. And most likely, as far as she knew, Chris had the glow on his face she forever linked with first love. Definitely adorable.
And of course, on the other side of the table were Sloan, Ed and her Uncle Walter. Sloan was pale, her dark hair and light eyes standing out more against the whiteness of fear. Ed had his hand on her shoulder, and Sarah could see the redness of his knuckles, as if he was holding on to her for dear life. His dark eyes were tight, and even from across the table, Sarah could see the from the expression on Ed's face that it wasn't his nerves that drove him to hold Sloan so tightly.
The realization that Sloan was, most likely, so nervous that Ed had to physically hold her up to keep her from toppling over made Sarah's stomach twist. Sarah was steeling herself, trying not to loose her mind. She knew that if she gave herself the luxury of falling apart, she wouldn't be able to get through these next few hours, something that everybody most likely would judge as critical.
"You can't hide," whispered a soft voice tinged with an accent. She felt a familiar hand slide down her back, forcing her towards a shoulder. "Not from me at least."
Sarah couldn't help but grimace, not from Gilad's touch but from the fact that he could see right through her. "What if I want to," she muttered under her breath.
He nodded, smiling. "Of course you do," he replied, a grin on his face. "But it's impossible."
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah. I know." She felt so stupid, helpless. Heartsick. "I..."
"It wouldn't be you if you weren't affected by this...you wouldn't be..." He laughed and shook his head, confusion coloring his features for some reason Sarah couldn't pick out. "You know," he continued, changing his tone and arching an eyebrow. "Any other day I'd be able to finish the expression but now." He shook his head and winked at Chris, who in Sarah's view, understood what Gilad was getting at. "But now I'm not so..."
"Alright everybody," came the ever efficient voice of Uncle Walter. "Let's settle down."
Dave raised his eyebrows. From the look on his face, Sarah could tell that he was less than thrilled at Walter's apparent attempted coup. "Have we gotten the additional information that I'd asked for? Or have you found information that eliminates the need for it?" His tone was menacing and seemed to give Walter no breathing room. Which, of course was his point. Sarah was glad that it was Walter who was on the receiving end of Dave's most likely icy stare as opposed to she. Or her, whichever it was.
Uncle Walter shook his head slowly, his dark eyes fixed on Dave. Sarah was glad she didn't have to deal with him either. "No," he replied slowly. "No Sir," he corrected with apparent difficulty. "But I thought...."
"We cannot plan further," Dave interjected. "Until we have the information. Or..."
"Sir," interrupted Charlie Parker as he entered into the room. The current Naval representative to MACC held a post based in technology, and from what Sarah remembered hearing, the guy was a wiz. "The photographs," he intoned, dropping a brown paper envelope onto the table in front of Dave. "And the AIO briefing..."
Dave smiled and opened the envelope as Charlie took a seat by the wall. Sarah felt Gilad's eyes on hers as they both strained to see the photographs as they were emptied out onto the table. Of course, Dave raised an eyebrow and Sarah felt herself smiling.
"Better than I thought," Sarah heard Dave muttering before he shook his head. "Right." He swallowed. "We've got photographic confirmation of the location where Carmen, Mike, and now Mitch and Tom are being held."
"Where?" Sarah burst out before she knew she was saying anything. "Where are they....."
"In a fortress built into the side of Volcan Tacan, the highest summit in the midst of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range..."
Sarah felt her stomach twist yet again, and saw Chris's features pale out of the corner of her eye at Dave's pronouncement. "A volcano?" she made out. And swallowed. "I hope it's not an ACTIVE volcano..."
"And," she heard Chris mutter. "How high are you talking about?"
Dave rolled his eyes and winked. "To answer both of your questions in one shot," he began, as he shuffled papers. "Tacan is an active volcano, peaking out at bit over 13 thousand feet."
Only Mitch, Sarah thought to herself as she heard Chris groan.
"So why Mexico," interjected Gilad, breaking the silence, laden as it was, at least in Sarah's view, in serious tension. "What's so..."
"It's said that Oaxaca is the origin of the new species," Ed began slowly. Sarah looked up and met his eyes, nodding. "Lewis ..."
Chris looked up, and for the first time in a while, Sarah could see that his face was free of fear. But she felt somewhat nervous because it seemed to her that the fear had been replaced by anger. "From what I know, and it's not that much," he began. "This fortress was meant to be his hideaway...his shelter from where he'd catalyze the events that were supposed to happen this past October..."
Sloan nodded, an energy coloring her face unlike any Sarah had seen since the beginning of this adventure. "Hence the necessity for a volcano."
Gilad sat back in his chair, folding his hands and nodding. "And from all reports," he interjected, thoughtfully. " Tacan didn't ...explode in October like it was supposed to... so I guess what he...was waiting for didn't happen?"
A thoughtful nod from Chris. "Again," he began, hesitantly in Sarah's view. "I don't know much because I've been rogue from the scientific community for a few years now," he continued with a look to Ed, Sloan and Walter. "But the last I knew of things, a team was building this headquarters, using instructions laid out many years ago, apparently by the ancients. The doomsday event was supposed to happen, harnessing the power of the volcano...."
"The background is nice," Cass interrupted, somewhat of a nervous tinge in her voice. "And it's fantastic that you're confirming the existence of this facility and why you're definitely coming with the party that goes, Chris," she swallowed, grabbing his hand. "However, we've got a situation on our hands. If we don't move...innocent..."
"Moving without thinking is stupid," Gilad interrupted, turning his eyes on Cass. "We need to know this information so we know what we're up against." He turned to Dave, and Sarah swallowed, wondering what exactly was going to happen once he opened his mouth again. "You called me in for a reason. Are we talking strategy or...and for that matter, what do the briefing papers say?"
Dave laughed. "You haven't changed a bit," he made out, winking at Gilad.
Gilad shrugged his shoulders. "What did you expect?" He grinned. " That I should be any different after finding myself attached to a future Canadian attorney?"
Sarah smiled at the passing reference Gilad made to the fact that he'd been dating her friend Ari for the past few years. She and Ari were heading into the halfway point of their law school careers, Sarah in California ; Ari in Vancouver.
"True," Dave interjected, laughing. Sarah could see the sarcastic reply he had decided to hold back as it flashed in his eyes. "The prisoners are being held in a specially designed cell in the middle of the complex...fortress."
"By specially designed," Gilad began, raising his eyebrows. "Do you mean..."
"I mean," Dave replied, thoughtfully. Sarah swallowed as she took a brief look around the table, partially to see if everybody else was still there. Ed, Sloan and Walter were all sitting there in a stunned silence. Their eyes were fixed on Dave's forehead, not seeming to move one inch.
"The cell is fortified with an electromagnetic pulse," Dave continued, breaking Sarah out of her thoughtful reverie and causing her to gasp. "The emp...."
"Holy crap he's paralyzed," she exclaimed before she realized she'd done so. "And..."
"Which means," Ed interjected. "The first thing we have to do..."
"Is find a way to destablilze the emp," Chris interrupted, almost seeming to Sarah as if he were thinking aloud. "I read somewhere that you can create a metallic shield to cover..."
"Do the photographs you have give blueprints of the facility?" Inquired Gilad, his back seeming to straighten as if it were pulled from the ceiling. "Including the dimensions of the cell and the location of the device..."
"And it's dimensions," Chris interjected, a smile in Gilad's direction. "A metallic shield, from what I read, " he continued, his cheeks flushing, his eyes briefly closing. "Must cover the device that's emitting the pulse completely, or there will be absolutely no chance of it working at all...."
Dave smirked as he flipped through a set of white stapled pages, highlighting as he moved through the information. "The photographs don't show it but the briefing papers give us a pretty good idea of what we're up against. Details of all sorts..."
"Including the location of the landing strip, the size of the area, and the number of entrances and exits..." Sarah saw Cass bite her tongue in anticipation. "I'm not flying people into a trap, right?"
Dave shook his head. "No trap. I actually," he confessed. "Didn't expect AIO...the academy information organization, to turn up very much on this. From what I've heard from various sources," he continued, gesturing at her uncle in a way that told Sarah they'd been talking. "I got the feeling that they keep their information very very close at hand, very tight. But somehow there's a leak of some sort..."
"I guess," Ed interjected. "They don't expect to be invaded."
"They underestimate what they don't understand," Chris noted. "And I don't think they understand what they got themselves into this time."