Numb3rs - PURSUIT

In the pursuit capital of America, even an FBI agent and a math professor can be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Disclaimer – I don't own them, I just borrowed them. All programs and characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended.

A/N: Just a short something that occurred to me as I was doing research into TV news stations in LA – strange where the internet can take you… Still working on another story.

Charlie glanced over at his older brother in annoyance. Don had his cell phone glued to his ear, speaking with someone at the office. Fortunately his older brother had plenty of experience driving his SUV whilst thus preoccupied so was able to deftly manoeuvre the large vehicle through the morning traffic.

No, what annoyed Charlie was that up until the phone call they'd been having an actual conversation. Don had come by the house that morning for no real reason, had breakfast and offered to drive Charlie to CalSci. There was no ulterior motive, they weren't even discussing a case. Just reminiscing on various childhood adventures they'd had. But half way to CalSci Don's cell rang and he'd been on it ever since. It was Megan. Charlie had listened to Don's half of the conversation for a few minutes but it was mostly about correct forms, what should be included in the report and so forth in relation to a case Charlie knew nothing about.

He reached out and fiddled with the radio, turning it on and scanning through the channels. He rarely found anything he wanted to listen to on commercial radio, but with nothing else to do… He shrugged and kept scanning, listening to each for a few seconds before moving on.

"…has being going on now for nearly two hours. I wonder how much gas he could have left." A voice announced. Intrigued Charlie waited a little longer. "At these sorts of speeds he must be nearly running on fumes. The LAPD, not giving him a moment's rest, have been right on his tail the whole time."

A second voice came on. "Dan, can you tell us again how this dangerous pursuit started?"

"From what we've heard on the scanner the car refused to yield after running a red light. Officers have identified that the vehicle is in fact stolen, carjacked at gunpoint at about 5:30 this morning. LAPD first saw the car a little after 6am and have been chasing it on surface streets ever since. We've been overhead in the CBS2 helicopter for most of that time. Oh, that was close! He nearly took out that pickup truck making that right onto Cerritos."

"Do you have anything on who the driver is?"

"All we know is that he is armed with a hand gun. Woah! Through that red light without stopping, nearly t-boning that compact! This is a desperate man, trying to escape the LAPD."

"With the statistics showing only one in five pursued perpetrators managing to escape, the LAPD are unlikely to back off." The second announcer explained.

"That's right." Dan confirmed. "They had the stop sticks out earlier but he managed to avoid them. The streets are too busy now for the PIT manoeuvre so they are sticking on his tail, keeping the pressure on. The LAPD chopper is overhead as well. It will have to end soon. Left onto Sunkist, the car fishtailing wildly as he nearly loses it. He must be getting tired."

Charlie sat up suddenly, looking around. They were currently slowing behind traffic stopped at a red light. Charlie looked at the street sign and could just make out that they were on State College Boulevard at East Ball. Those streets the reporter had named were streets near here, Sunkist only a few blocks over. He wound his window down and could faintly hear sirens approaching.

"Don." Charlie said, trying to attract his brother's attention. He was ignored. The sirens came closer.

"Don!" Charlie pulled at his brother's right arm.

"Hang on." Don lowered the phone. He looked up and saw the light was still red. "What's up, Charlie?"

"Don, listen." Charlie pointed at the radio.

"…nearly cleaned up those pedestrians. They had to run to get out of the way." The announcer was continuing in his excited voice. "From Winston onto State College Boulevard now, doing at least 50. Slowing down, braking hard now. Looks like traffic all stopped ahead at the lights. It might be all over. He has nowhere to go."

The sirens were right behind them now. Charlie turned in his seat and Don looked out his rearview mirror as the announcer continued.

"He's out, running up to a black SUV in front of him. I hope they got their doors locked."

Don belatedly reached for the lock, putting the pieces together and realising what was happened. But it was too late as he saw the man come along the side of his SUV and open the back door, jumping in behind him. He heard Charlie's startled gasp and turned to see first the gun pointed at his younger brother and then the man that held it.

"Oh no, looks like a hostage situation now. LAPD keeping well back waiting to see what happens." The radio blared.

Don reached out a hand without looking and managed to hit the off button, all whilst keeping his eyes on the armed man. He was more a kid actually, young, barely 20 and looked terrified and determined at the same time. His clothing was middle of the road basic, casual jeans and sweatshirt against the cool morning. His hair had seen the inside of a barber shop some time in the not too distant past. The single ring in his eyebrow was plain along with the plain stud in his right earlobe. All in all he didn't quite fit the picture of a gang-banger or a street kid. More like one who was trying to look the part but wasn't the real deal.

The gun shook in the kid's grip but stayed pointed in Charlie's general direction. Don could see that the gun was loaded, it was a revolver and the cylinders that he could see definitely had bullets in them. As to whether or not it would fire was an unknown. It all depended on where the kid had got it from. A lot of revolvers on the street lately were faulty, more likely to kill the wielder than the potential victim. Don couldn't take the chance with Charlie's life however.

"Get me out of here." The kid yelled glancing at Don. "Drive or I'll kill your friend."

"Charlie," Don started, talking calmly and evenly. "Get out."

"W-what?" Charlie quavered not taking his eyes off the muzzle.

"Get. Out." Don said firmly in the tone of voice Charlie called his 'official FBI voice'. "Now."

"No!" The kid yelled. "Drive!"

"I'll drive when he gets out." Don said his voice leaving no room for negotiation. "Charlie, out. That's an order."

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Charlie finally moved. He unlatched his seatbelt, twisted and flung the door open, tumbling out and running a few steps through the traffic to safety. A voice yelled at him from behind the stationary cars, an LAPD officer telling him to get down. Charlie angled his way back towards the officer.

A new siren started, from back the way he had just come. Charlie turned and saw his brother's SUV back up slightly before pulling around the stationary cars in front of it and leap towards the intersection, passenger side door closing due to the acceleration. Don was on the wrong side of the road, siren blaring. Charlie knew that the line of strobe lights across the top of the windscreen would be on as would be the flashers in the headlights. He could see the red and blue lights in the rear window. Don would not make such a dangerous move without them. The SUV made it safely through the intersection and was away, pursued by all but two of the squad cars.

Charlie reached the officer that had called out to him. The other officer was checking the car abandoned by the fugitive. "You got to help Don." Charlie started, voice raised to be heard over the helicopters overhead.

"Don's the driver, right?" The officer said.

Charlie nodded.

"Who is he? The siren…" The officer started to say.

Charlie interrupted. "Don Eppes, my brother. He's FBI."

The officer swore and grabbed at the radio handset clipped to his shoulder, calling it in. "Dispatch, this is 377. The hostage is an FBI agent."

The dispatcher relayed the information to the pursuing LAPD units.

"I'm Andrew Gilden." The officer introduced himself, steering Charlie towards his squad car.

"Charlie Eppes."

"Are you FBI as well?" He continued after sliding in behind the wheel.

"No. I'm a math professor at CalSci. I just consult for the FBI."

"I've got to take you downtown." Gilden said starting the car.

"No. I've got to stay with Don."

"I can't take a civilian on a pursuit." Gilden argued.

Charlie scrabbled around his pockets finding his wallet. He sorted through the cards and finally found the one he wanted. He thrust it under Gilden's nose. "I'm not a civilian."

Gilden took the card, looking at it closely before handing it back. "NSA?"

"We've working an important case." Charlie lied desperately. "I have material in the car that can't be lost." Partially true. "I have to stay with it."

Gilden felt that Charlie's story wasn't quite true, a moment before he'd been a math professor but now produced a NSA ID card. Gilden came to a snap decision. With the NSA card in the equation he figured he was covered so relented. He put his unit in drive and pressed the accelerator sharply, headed not downtown but after the SUV.

Charlie reached frantically for the seatbelt as they screamed off up the road trying to catch up to the other units. Charlie tried desperately not to watch as his driver wove in and out of traffic, even occasionally pulling onto the wrong side of the road dodging on-coming vehicles. He couldn't help it however and soon noticed that there were less vehicles on the road and more pulled off to the side of the road. They were catching up to the pursuit. As much as the dangerous driving scared him he did not want to be anywhere else, except maybe still in the SUV with Don. On one level he kicked himself for abandoning Don, but on the other he realised that Don now felt able to do something about the situation. Don would never take any chances if his youngest brother had still been in the vehicle.

A voice came over the police radio, something had been thrown from Don's SUV. A few seconds passed and then the same voice announced: "FBI's tossed his gun."

"What's that mean?" Charlie asked.

"It means your brother tossed his gun out of the vehicle. One of our units stopped and picked it up." Gilden replied.

Charlie suddenly thought of Don's team. They needed to know what was happening. They would find a way to help. Don needed help.

Charlie wanted his cell phone and reached into his pocket before remembering that he had put it in his laptop bag. The same laptop bag that was in Don's SUV. He felt a pang of worry for the laptop, it did contain some precious data. But it could never be as important as Don and he felt guilty for worrying about it. He didn't want to interrupt Gilden but he needed a phone. "Officer Gilden?"

"What?"

"Do you have a phone I can use? I need to call the FBI field office."

The officer took a hand off the wheel causing Charlie to close his eyes. "Here." Gilden said a second or two later. Charlie opened his eyes and saw a cell phone being waved in his direction. Gratefully he took it. Grateful to have the phone but even more grateful when Gilden immediately put the hand back on the steering wheel. He noticed his hand was shaking and felt clammy. He tried desperately not to think of the accident statistics relating to high speed pursuits. LAPD drivers were well trained but they were driving in amongst other drivers who weren't so well trained. Those accident statistics clearly indicated that other drivers often pulled out in front of a black and white without even seeing it, despite lights and sirens.

Charlie dialled but Megan's phone was engaged. He tried David's phone next, in his mind an old memory surfaced, Don telling him once that 'numbers were his thing'. He had never been so glad, mathematics aside, otherwise he would never have been able remember all these phone numbers.

"Sinclair." David snapped, sounding distracted.

"David, it's Charlie."

"Charlie, are you alright?" David asked suddenly his full attention on the conversation.

"It's Don," Charlie started, ignoring the question.

"We know. He left his cell on, Megan heard what happened."

"Is he alright?"

"He's fine, Charlie." David reassured him.

Charlie could hear voices in the background, he thought one sounded like his brother. "You have them on speaker."

"We're monitoring and recording." David told him. "We're not in contact. Charlie, where are you?"

"I'm in a LAPD squad car behind the pursuit. Officer Gilden is trying to catch up." Charlie looked out the windshield, able now to see the other LAPD cars up ahead in the distance.

"Hang up Charlie. Let the officer concentrate on his driving. We'll call if anything comes up."

"Wait, this isn't my phone. Mine's in Don's SUV." Charlie asked Gilden for his number and passed it on.

"Got it." David said and broke the connection.

Charlie looked at the phone in his hand before again looking out the windshield. They were at the back of the pursuing squad cars. Gilden seemed content to stay well back. Charlie couldn't even see Don's SUV. He felt disconnected, he couldn't help Don, didn't really even know what was happening. He heard the constant updates on the police radio but they were almost in code, brief and to his analytical mind virtually non descriptive.

He suddenly realised what he needed: the radio. But he didn't want to distract Gilden, the ride was hairy enough already. He looked closely at the cell phone and started scrolling through menus. He finally found what he wanted and accessed the radio, selected speaker, setting the volume to low and placing the phone against his ear. He knew he could have accessed the video feed but that would take up too much phone battery and frankly looking at such a small screen in a moving vehicle would have made him thoroughly car sick in very short order.

"…heading up to the freeway now." The announcer Charlie had been listening to before said, continuing a blow by blow description of what was happening from his vantage point in the helicopter overhead.

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Don let out his breath in relief as his brother finally moved and almost fell from the SUV in his haste. He watched until Charlie reached the relative safety of the other side of the car stopped beside them. Through the still open door he saw Charlie react to something and turn his head to look towards the LAPD units. He was safe.

Don turned his attention back to the kid sitting behind him, unobtrusively putting his still active cell phone into the drink holder in the centre console. Megan would be able to hear everything. He looked back to see that the gun had now swung his way. He found himself looking down the trembling barrel, the same view that Charlie had had seconds ago.

"He's out. Lets go!" The kid yelled, deliberately shaking the gun as emphasis.

Don winced, the kid was way too keyed up, the gun could go off by accident the way he was waving it around. "Alright. Anything you want. Just settle down and lower the gun." He said in as soothing a voice as he could manage.

He checked his mirrors and glanced at the traffic around him. The other cars were still stationary at the intersection, blocking him in. He looked over at the oncoming lanes and found them virtually empty. As much as he didn't really want to be involved in this he had no real option. He certainly couldn't allow the kid to move onto another car and hijack an innocent civilian. No, for the moment at least, he had to play along.

Don reached down and flipped the switch for his lights and siren as he put the SUV in reverse. He backed up a few feet before changing gear and peeling out into the oncoming lanes and crossing the intersection. He switched back to the correct side of the road as soon as he could. Driving into the oncoming traffic and through cross traffic was not something he wanted to do too much of. He saw the LAPD units following as he accelerated and wove his way around the slower moving cars.

"Who the hell are you?" The kid demanded in surprise. "Some kind of cop?"

Activating his lights and siren was a dead giveaway, but Don knew it wouldn't have taken the kid long to see all the paraphernalia mounted on his dash and realise that this was no ordinary vehicle that he'd hijacked. "FBI." Don told him.

The kid swore with feeling, punching his left hand into the back of Don's seat. He came to a sudden realisation. "That means you got a gun. Gimme!"

That was the last thing Don wanted to do. He had some doubts about the kid's gun, but he had none about his own. Don shifted in his seat, drawing the Glock from his holster. The kid reached out a hand but Don suddenly flung the Glock out his window. He'd had no time to unload it and he hoped the internal safeties were up to the task as he watched it bounce onto the roadway behind him. He saw a LAPD unit slow and stop to pick it up.

"No!" The kid protested. "Hey man, what'd you do that for?"

"You've already got a gun, you don't need another one." Don told him. He spared a glance into the mirror to look at the fugitive.

The kid raised the revolver and shook it in Don's direction. "That's right Fed. You gotta do as I say."

"Already doing it, kid." Don told him maintaining a calm voice. If he stayed calm he hoped it would settle the kid down. "What's your name?"

"I'm not telling you nothin'." The kid said stubbornly. "I'm the one in charge."

"Yes you are." Don affirmed. It was important for the kid to believe that. "But I need to know what to call you. My name is Don."

"Jinx." The kid finally offered. "They call me Jinx."

Yeah, I can see why, Don thought to himself. Definitely been a jinx to me. But Charlie was now safe, that was all that mattered. "Jinx it is. Where are we going Jinx?"

"Just get away."

"Okay." Don said staying on State College Boulevard. The kid was starting to settle down slightly. Everything was going his way for the moment so that was no surprise. Don checked the rearview mirrors and counted six LAPD units. He though he could see another set of flashing lights further back and gaining fast.

"Come on man, this is a cop car. Faster." The kid urged.

Don kept his speed up but wasn't prepared to go any faster. The FBI tuned SUV was powerful enough to give the LAPD units a run for their money but it was simply too dangerous on these surface streets. Not that Don wanted to lose them in the first place. It was also taking all his skill as a trained emergency driver to avoid collisions. The traffic was steadily increasing as the good citizens of LA made their way to work. His best choice was to make for a freeway and head out of town. Less traffic relatively speaking, better road and more opportunities for the LAPD, CHP or Sheriffs Department to stop him dependant on whose jurisdiction they were in when the best circumstances presented themselves. He took a turn leading them onto the Riverside Freeway on-ramp.

"Put the radio back on." Jinx demanded.

Against his better judgement Don compliantly reached over and pressed the button as they reached the on ramp. "…heading up to the freeway now." The announcer said.

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Charlie pressed the phone firmly to his ear, trying to concentrate as they followed Don's SUV, he could finally see it, up the on-ramp onto the freeway.

"Yes, the black SUV is definitely getting onto the Riverside Freeway. What is going to happen next is anybody's guess. In all my years covering pursuits in LA I've never known a situation quite like this. An FBI agent has been taken hostage in his own vehicle by a carjacker being chased by the LAPD." The announcer continued, summing the situation up in a single sentence. Dan sounded more excited than confused. "Taking the ramp to the Orange Freeway. We're now coming up on the 8:30 newsbreak for K-CAL 9. Stay tuned."

A brief piece of station ident music blared from the speaker followed by the sound of the news intro. Charlie had no idea which radio station this was but it was obviously taking a feed from a television channel. A female voice came on. "This is the K-CAL 9 8:30 newsbreak. We cross now to Dan in the Sky-9 helicopter. Dan we understand there has been a major development in the chase we've been following this morning."

"There certainly has, Stacey." Dan replied. "Up until a few minutes ago the LAPD were chasing a carjacker in a stolen car. They closed in on him when he was stopped by traffic at State College Boulevard and East Ball Road. The carjacker then abandoned the stolen car before he hijacked a black SUV waiting at the lights. We saw a man escape from the passenger side of the SUV before it took off. We've learned from the police radio that the driver of the SUV is an FBI agent! If we move a little ahead here and I zoom the camera in you can see the flashing lights on the SUV. This FBI agent sure can drive, look at the skill! Up to eighty miles an hour in and around traffic on the Orange Freeway."

"Do we know who the agent is?" Stacey asked.

"No we don't. But the carjacker has to know that he's jumped from the frying pan into the fire. If he had any thoughts that the LAPD would back off, he'd have to know that that won't happen now."

"Any idea how they're going to handle this now?" Stacey queried.

"I don't think anyone knows what is likely to happen next." Dan said. "There is now a fellow law enforcement officer in danger. The pursuit has moved up onto the freeway, we don't know if the agent did that on purpose or if the carjacker wanted to go there. Previous to this he had been sticking to surface streets so I'm thinking the agent has some control over what is going on in that SUV. We'll keep following it and let you know what happens."

"Thank-you Dan." Stacey said and went on to other news.

Charlie was impatient, pulling the phone away from his ear, unable to listen to what else was wrong in the world this morning. Nothing was more important than what was happening to Don. He could now see the black SUV up ahead weaving around cars and trucks. Gilden was still hanging back but the squad cars had spread out across all six lanes now they were on the freeway, opening up his view to their quarry.

His fingers itched. He had to do something as numbers started tumbling into his mind. Speed, time, distance, engine power, fuel usage, friction co-efficients, PIT manoeuvre trajectories, the SUV's centre of gravity, skill levels of the LAPD drivers compared with Don's skill. They were some of the variables that would affect the outcome of the pursuit. He saw the officer's clipboard and grabbed it, flipping up the top sheet of notepaper as it already had stuff written on it. "Pen, I need a pen." He mumbled looking around. He found one in the officer's shirt pocket and plucked it out before Gilden could stop him.

The equations flowed freely from the pen onto the paper, covering page after page. But they were all useless. He didn't know a lot of the actual figures, how much fuel was in Don's SUV? Neither did he know what the LAPD pursuit supervisor would do. What he did figure out left him more worried than relieved. The high centre of gravity on the SUV made the use of stop sticks or the PIT manoeuvre more dangerous than it would have been on a standard car. The SUV was more likely to loose control and roll despite the modified FBI suspension and the skill of its driver.

He scribbled forcefully over his equations, the pen tip breaking through and tearing several sheets of paper. Don, there's nothing I can do to help, he thought hopelessly. Except be here when whatever happens, happens.

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"In other news this morning, the mayor…" Don switched the radio back off.

"Leave that on." Jinx demanded from the back seat.

"You don't need some helicopter pilot telling you what is happening." Don said making no move to turn it back on. I also don't need some helicopter pilot telling you that you're not in control, he added to himself. "It's a distraction. You need to work out what is going to happen next."

"What's happening next is you are putting the radio back on. Hey man, we're famous!"

Don saw that Jinx was excited by the prospect. He was no longer terrified. Now that the kid wasn't driving and didn't have to concentrate on where he was going or avoiding traffic he was starting to actually enjoy himself. He was acting like he was on some sort of ride and wanted a running commentary to go with it. That wasn't good.

"Jinx, this is serious business." Don wanted to make the kid realise what was actually happening, what was really at stake. "You've kidnapped a federal officer. The LAPD are not going to back down anymore. You've seen these chases on TV right?"

"Yeah man, pursuit capital of America."

"They end up being caught or killed. You would have seen that."

"Sometimes they get away. Ain't none of them never had a cop driving them before. You can drive as good as they do. They can't stop you."

"Yes they can." Don said as he manoeuvred around an 18 wheeler and crossed a few lanes to avoid some other traffic bunched up around the slow moving vehicle. They came to the end of the Orange Freeway and Don took the ramp onto the Foothill Freeway heading east. Don realised that his driving skills were somewhat evident, but he wasn't going to change that. He wanted to go home tonight and he wanted all the other drivers around them to go home tonight as well. "They might hang back for a little while but they will come in hard soon enough."

"They'll get you killed man." Jinx said, starting to come to his senses. "They know I got a gun."

"They also know that I'm one of them. We look out for each other." Don said claiming a kinship that only really seemed to exist in these sorts of situations. Normally LAPD were not all that keen on the FBI, especially as the LAPD often perceived the FBI to 'run roughshod' over them, taking control of incidents without a by-your-leave. But here and now Don knew that he would be regarded as one of them, a law enforcement officer caught up in a sticky situation.

He also knew that they would be looking for him to give them an opportunity to end this. He could do that by slowing down and allowing them to PIT him, or by steering onto a set of stop sticks or spike strips and deliberately blowing his tyres. The kid had to realise that that was a likely scenario if he was thinking things through. At this point in time though, despite finally seeming to realise that things were serious, he didn't seem to be too concerned.

Don continued along the freeway, skirting along the northern edge of LA, hoping he could negotiate Jinx into a peaceful surrender before the LAPD pushed them into a corner. He maintained his speed, wanting to get onto fully open road as soon as possible. It was a risk, but the sooner they were away from LA the better. The kid didn't seem to know what he wanted so Don would take advantage of that whilst it lasted.

He glanced down at the centre console and saw that his cell was still connected, the line open. Don decided to gather some information. "So, kid, tell me what this is all about anyway."

"I'm not telling you nothin'." Jinx said stubbornly. "I got rights."

"Absolutely." Don proceeded to read Jinx his rights. Jinx, it seemed, had been previously dealt with by police. He had that attitude.

"Huh." Jinx said as he was Mirandized. He then laughed. "I got the gun and you're arresting me."

Don had not arrested the kid, which was an important distinction. But now that he'd been lawfully cautioned anything he said could be used as evidence. Don was counting on his team to be recording the phone. He just had to get him to talk. "So tell me where we are going then."

"I don't care. You're the expert, get me away from the cops. I done nothin' wrong."

If only he had a dollar for every time he heard someone say that! Catch someone red handed and they still made that claim. "They don't chase people for nothing."

"So I stole a car. Big deal, happens every day." Jinx finally admitted to what he had done. He was also trying to blow it off as minor despite his desperate behaviour.

"If it's no big deal then why run?"

"Three times, man. I've already been done twice."

Don was not happy with that news. It meant Jinx was a three time loser, guaranteed jail time of several years. Risking another six months for failing to yield was minor in comparison. Now there was a kidnapping charge to add which was worse than the first two put together. It just made it harder for Don to find a way to get Jinx to surrender. The kid sounded regretful but Don suspected that was more because he'd been caught rather than because he stole the car.

"Hey you got a police radio in this thing?" Jinx asked suddenly.

"Why?" Don was caught off guard slightly, not expecting the question.

"'Cause I'm asking." Jinx waved the gun around. He was somewhat fond of that.

"I'll have to get my office to patch them in." Don said finally. The kid's behaviour was a bit up and down. Don was hoping it didn't indicate recent drug usage, just confusion at the unfamiliar and highly stressful situation he had put himself into. Being in the middle of it was not the same as watching it on TV.

"Get on the radio, get the cops to back off and let us go."

Don switched his radio on, pulling the handset off its hook on the dash. He waited for the set to finish its start-up before calling in. "3695 to control."

"Control, 3695."

"3695 requesting patch through to LAPD pursuit controller, incident on Foothill Freeway heading onto Golden State Freeway." Don said giving them a heads up to his proposed route of travel. The Golden State was a few miles off yet but at this speed it wasn't far. Once on that and clear of LA anything could happen. The information would also allow CHP to organise closure of on-ramps to clear traffic.

"Standby for patch. ADIC requesting sit-rep."

Assistant Director in Charge Merrick of the LA field office was now involved. Don glanced in his mirror but so far Jinx had not reacted to anything he'd said. "3695, nil injuries. Single male, name of Jinx, armed with a revolver and wanted for auto theft. Proceeding east, away from LA."

"Received. ADIC wanting to know demands."

"Subject wants to elude LAPD." Don answered. It was simple and relatively realistic, no stupid demands for money or helicopters at least.

"Received. Patch coming on line shortly."

Don continued to change lanes to get around traffic as he waited. It seemed that there were now fewer vehicles on the road as they started leaving populated areas, travelling through the outskirts of LA. The traffic was now mostly semi-trailers and delivery vans, most people at this hour were heading inbound, not outbound.

"Control to 3695. Patch is live, go ahead." The controller stated a minute later.