Chapter Sixteen: . . . Escape! (Part Four)

Do ya' ever get the feeling that you're just not making any progress? Well right about now I think I could write a book about that . . .

With an unhappy grunt, Sam gazed at the trap door above. Yes, of all places he was back in the blasted black hole - again. Of course this time things were a bit different . . . this time he wasn't alone. Mac and some fellow he had yet to identify were there and to make matters even better they also now had a ladder. Found in a corner of the upper basement room, unintended compliments of Neilson no doubt, the ladder had been a most welcome find.

Standing next to his son, Mac curiously traced the young man's gaze upward. Seeing nothing but vacant space, he wrinkled his brow. "What?"

Startled from his mental wanderings, Sam quickly dropped his eyes. "Oh, nothing. I just don't seem to be getting very far, that's all," he mumbled.

Mac struck a playfully offended look. "Hey - you found me, remember? That's progress, right? Now, c'mon, show me what we've got to work with down here."

Sam grinned, feeling somewhat encouraged, and began a basic run down of the assets at their disposal. "Well, we've got lead pipes up above that run the length of this room along with some form of recessed lighting. I couldn't find a switch for them down here so I'm assuming the controls must be upstairs somewhere. There is a holding cell down at that end with three hydraulic powered locks on the door. Inside you'll find running water and a dim can light."

"That's it?" Murdoc pried incredulously.

Sam shrugged. "Except for air - there's plenty of that."

Mac's face lit with amusement at the assassin's reaction to this comment and he found himself stifling a chuckle. "Don't look so tragic Murdoc. Our resources may be limited, but they're not that bad. What do you think Sam? Hydraulic fluid for the ladder?"

"Sounds good. Maybe a drip rag for the can light?"

"Right. What about the lead pipes will they work for . . . you know?"

"Tried and tested - they'll hold, but you won't like it."

Mac grunted. "Yeah, no kidding. What about the water?"

"There's no way to transport it, but we could start some running to attract attention?"

"Good thinking. We confiscated some gun parts upstairs, too. They should come in handy - don't cha' think?"

"Only -" Murdoc interrupted, having had all he could stand of this fractional dialogue. "If you put them together."

XXXXXXX

The sound of splitting wood filled the empty room. The door gave way immediately and soon the area was filled with as many heavily armed men as it could handle.

Neilson moved in and assessed the result of his order. Had he been a man given to humor, he might have laughed at the force with which they had just captured an unoccupied room. Given his sour nature, though, the event served only to stoke his already smoldering anger. Motioning to the door on the left, the one leading to the security chamber, he ordered half of his men to make entry. As these moved forward, the remaining guards also advanced, re-securing the now vacant positions. As this transition was being completed, Neilson allowed his eyes to once again scan the outer room. Something was wrong. He had sensed it the moment they had entered . . . the question was, what?

XXXXXXX

"Okay, according to Pete, we've got about twelve guys coming our way," Mac announced, "and Nikki's timer is gonna go in about nine minutes."

"Nikki's timer?" Sam questioned.

"It's complicated, son," Mac deflected hurriedly. "But in about nine minutes this whole place goes into lock down - no body in or out."

Sam nodded immediately. He might not understand all of the details, but 'lock down' certainly sounded like something to be avoided. "Ah huh," he grunted, nodding again. "So, we should get a move on then . . . what do you want me to do?"

"Hydraulic fluid," Mac suggested. "Murdoc, you come with me."

XXXXXXX

Two heavy fists pounded on the security chamber door. Caught completely unawares, those inside jumped to their feet. A flurry of activity then followed as they attempted to straighten the disorder Nikki's 'repairs' had caused. Their efforts died quickly, however, when another round of thunder rained down upon them. Thus discouraged, the head security officer hastened to the door. Seconds later, four of the six advancing guards fanned into the chamber, guns drawn.

XXXXXXX

Emerging from the side entrance, Carpenter breathed in the fresh air. Though not given to claustrophobia, she had to admit that the consulate had managed to grow amazingly small and uncomfortable during the past few minutes. Her escape, or 'planned exit' as she preferred to call it, had been close. While passing through the oval reception room she had actually caught a glimpse of Neilson's men descending the stairs. Thankfully, due to the angle of the winding staircase, she and her guide had managed to reach the side hallway before being detected - a fact for which she was profoundly grateful.

Now safely outside, Nikki felt her surge of adrenaline begin to wane. Exactly why it had risen so acutely in the first place she wasn't sure. There had been nothing overtly hostile about the group on the stairs. They were armed, of course, but so was everyone else at the consulate. They were large in numbers, but that was nothing new. Whatever the reason, though, her reaction had most definitely been negative.

Shrugging to herself, Carpenter inhaled again and walked over to the van. Hoisting the tool box, she nimbly slid it into the back compartment. Nodding a smile in the direction of her guide, she then went in search of her partner in rescue - Jack Dalton.

XXXXXXX

Climbing the ladder, Murdoc followed Mac through the basement's inner doorway back to the main entrance. "Are you crazy?" he hissed. "Our company could be coming through that door any minute."

"Grab them," MacGyver ordered indicating the 'neutralized' guards. "We're taking them down with us."

"But what about the door?"

Dropping to his knees the troubleshooter began sorting through the pile of dismantled weaponry. Retrieving a rifle barrel from the tangled mass, he then held it up for Murdoc to see.

"Well that explains everything," the assassin muttered. "Now I feel much better." With a roll of his eyes, he then set about removing the bound guards.

Mac rose and kept pressure on the door until the live door stops were well on their way. Once the area was clear, he then placed one end of the rifle barrel beneath the handle while simultaneously pressing the opposing end against the floor.

Nothing like a good old fashioned door jam to keep your enemies at bay - momentarily anyhow. This is just one of many unintended purposes for guns that I have discovered through the years. Nice, huh? I know people say that guns have their place, but for me they're just things to be taken apart and re-appropriated for non-violent stuff like this. Usually works out pretty well too - shame more people don't try it.

XXXXXXX

Retreating from the control room, the party of six guards reported to their leader. "Colonel, there are no unauthorized personnel in the chamber."

Acknowledging this statement with a distracted gesture, Neilson stared intently across the room. The source of his sensation of error was finally beginning to dawn. "The door," he announced vaguely.

"Colonel?"

"Look at the bolt," Neilson ordered, training his eyes on the basement entrance. "It isn't locked." Then, to further his point, he continued. "Two officers were assigned to secure that door. Where are they?"

XXXXXXX

Gathering up what remained of the bundle of weapons, Mac retreated back through the inner doorway.

"Took you long enough," the assassin complained between heavy breaths.

"What's the matter, Murdoc? You outta shape?" Mac needled, ignoring the man's comment. Retrieving another rifle barrel, he then set about securing the second door as he had the first. Once this was done, he swiveled around to face the hit man. A withering look, the likes of which Mac had never before seen, instantly met him.

"Out of shape?" Murdoc growled.

Mac twisted his growing smile into a sort of lopsided smirk and nodded. "Yeah, with the way you're breathing."

Throwing his eyes to the ceiling, the assassin moaned. "Fishing line, duct tape, guns that are in pieces, and to top it all off three hundred pounds worth of unconscious guards to haul around and you have the audacity to say that I'm out of shape! Have I died and gone to MacGyverland or what?"

"Or what," Mac assured him, still burying a grin. "MacGyverland is much worse than this . . . just ask Pete."

XXXXXXX

Outside, Nikki had little trouble finding her compatriot. Spying him within a matter of seconds, she stood confounded by the array of living statuettes surrounding him. By what magical power did the pilot have them mesmerized? Crossing to his side to investigate, she leaned comfortably against the wall.

"Jack . . ." Carpenter drawled softly.

"Yeah, Jonesy?"

"What are they doing?"

"They're marking the points of origin for our circuit so that they won't be lost during the reinstatement process. I already notated the distances between them and have just been working on calculating their ultimate compatibility for re-circuiting." Batting his eye a few times, Jack then passed his clipboard over for approval.

As she viewed the paper, a snort of laughter caught in Nikki's throat. Top to bottom it appeared to be one, long, continuous mathematical problem that managed to morph from addition to subtraction, multiplication, division, as well as a few other manipulations that she failed to identify. The original figures had long since been lost, re-introduced and lost again, resulting in a mass of worthless numbers.

"Well," Jack prompted raising an eyebrow. "Whacha' think?"

Biting the inside of her cheek, Nikki swallowed the final shred of laughter lingering in her throat and responded. "Third column, fourth line," she stated seriously. "You dropped a one on your carry over."

"By Jove! I do believe you're right," Jack responded aghast. "Now I shall have to do the entire matter over again . . ."

XXXXXXX

Crossing to the basement door, Neilson examined its handle. The slide bolt, as he had previously noted, was not engaged, and soon it became apparent that the electric lock had also been compromised. The Colonel's anger rose clearly at this discovery and he backed up several steps. "Kahn," he barked.

"Sir!"

Jerking his head in the direction of the door, Neilson again indicated that he wanted forcible entry made.

Nodding receipt of this order, Kahn moved into position. Standing a stride's length away, he then lifted his leg and, in one smooth motion, delivered a powerful kick to the lock. Unfortunately for him, the door had been jammed too well. So well in fact that it was unable to absorb even a fraction of the force exerted upon it. This being the case, all excess power was instantly rejected and sent recoiling back from whence it came. The result was ungainly, unprofessional, and unbalanced. It was also decidedly embarrassing for Kahn as he landed in a jumbled heap on the floor.

The Colonel was speechless with rage.

"I . . . I must have misjudged the resistance," Kahn stammered, struggling to collect himself.

"I should kill you now," Neilson seethed in an all too quiet voice. "Fail me again and you will wish I had."

XXXXXXX

Well I just checked in with Pete . . . latest reports say we've got about six and half minutes left before the lock down. Breaking it down that leaves us with about two minutes to finish getting ready, three and a half minutes to take out our greeting party and thirty seconds to get from the basement door to the side exit. Of course with all the thudding I've been hearing upstairs, we might have to shave a little off our prep time. Sounds like our guests are kinda anxious to join the party. That's okay, though. Like I told Pete, two minutes is really more than we need.

Yeah, I know, he laughed, too . . . or would groaned be a better word?

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned things are shaping up nicely. Well, okay maybe not nicely, but definitely quickly. It took some doing, but me and Murdoc managed to get the unconscious guards tucked away in the holding cell. Their trip down the ladder was interesting to say the least - but I won't dwell on that. We got the weapon pieces down here, too (lot less hassle there) and have them in place.

We found the controls for the recessed lighting upstairs, or up ladder if you want to get technical, in the second chamber. After some finagling, I managed to remove the cover panel and cross up the circuits. Now that switch won't be turning on anything. The added darkness should give us an advantage; plus anyone who tries flipping that switch now is gonna get a bit of a buzz. Nothing deadly of course, just enough to get their attention.

Sam's got a nice little leak going on one of the hydraulic cylinders. Since we don't have a traditional means of transporting the fluid he's collecting it in his flannel shirt - or on it rather, the thing's just about soaked. It should be ready for the ladder any second now.

Murdoc is doing better . . . I think. At least he hasn't prophesied our total failure during the last two minutes. I guess you could call that an improvement . . . for Murdoc anyway. Right now, he's on the ladder rigging up the drip rag for the light bulb. Basically what we've got there is a can light that hangs down about six inches from the ceiling, suspended by an insulated cord; and, courtesy of the guards' uniform sleeves, two rags - one wet and one dry. The dry one gets tied right above the bulb and the wet one right above that. In theory, it's sort of a primitive delayed detonator. The desired result being that when the dry rag soaks with water it will then drip onto the bulb causing it to blow. Exactly when that will happen, though is kinda hard to judge. Hopefully it will be at a good time . . . I'll keep a good thought.

XXXXXXX

After several more balanced attempts, Kahn at last succeeded in jarring the rifle barrel out of place. Immediately upon this victory blow, the door opened with a snap. As before a portion of the guards moved into the new space, guns drawn. Finding the room deserted, an attack was then launched on the interior basement door.

XXXXXXX

"They're making progress," Murdoc noted sending an ominous look toward the ceiling.

"So are we," Mac returned calmly. "In fact, I'd say we're just about finished."

"I was afraid of that," the assassin mumbled.

"Don't be such a sad sack, we'll make it - right Dad?"

It was more a statement of fact rather than a question and Mac couldn't help but smile at his son's frankness. "Right, Sam. You about done with that ladder?"

"Yep. Last rung."

"What's the score?"

"Top eight are clean. From then on, ever other rung is greased down. I had a little extra so for good measure I slicked up the side grips, too."

"Alright," Mac murmured approvingly. "I think we're in business."

"Oh is that what this is?" Murdoc mocked in an annoying sort of voice.

In response, Mac's head tilted to one side and his features creased with consternation. "Tell me again why I brought you along?"

Well so much for Murdoc being better. You know, I'd be the first to admit that sarcasm is not without merit. Lord knows I've rattled off plenty of smart aleck remarks in my time (and thoroughly enjoyed them, too I might add) but this guy . . . And his pessimistic attitude! Forget about seeing the glass half empty, according to him we don't even have a glass. Okay, so our situation isn't the best, but hey it could certainly be worse. Don't ask me how - I can't waste time conjuring up problems that aren't there - just trust me . . . it could be. But I digress. The point is I can dish out sarcasm and I can usually deal with doom and gloomers, but I am rapidly deciding that Murdoc, master of dark thoughts and mockery, is beyond my depth of patience.

XXXXXXX

The Phoenix command unit felt eerily quiet. There had been no radio transmissions for what felt like a small eternity and the security camera feeds were not wired for sound. As for Pete and Willis, the sum total of their communication during the past few seconds consisted of multiple sighs accented by bouts of finger drumming.

"Anything?" Thornton asked finally, shattering the silence.

"Nope. Once they passed through the basement door I lost all visual contact. There must not be any cameras down there. I'm sure Nikki would have patched the extra views in, if they had been available."

Pete nodded and launched another chorus of drum rolls. On an impatient impulse he then depressed MacGyver's toggle switch. "Command to Rover One, what's your status?"

The static riddled reply came quickly. "We're all set Pete. Just waiting for our party crashers."

"Received, Rover One . . . You sure you're okay, Mac?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I don't know, you just sound a little . . . I don't know . . . off, somehow. Not quite yourself," Thornton observed.

"Oh, that."

"Mac," Pete called with concern. "What does 'oh that' mean - exactly?"

There was a moment's hesitation and then a deliberate, unenthusiastic sort of answer. "Heights, Pete. Good ol' heights."

Pete's mouth budded into a smile. "Oh, that."

XXXXXXX

Having made careful use of the greased ladder, MacGyver, Murdoc and Sam now sat perched along the upper pipes. Their mode of ascension was still propped against the trap door's opening – purposefully left there to lure the bad guys downward.

With strained patience, the elevated trio waited for the impending attack. Knock after knock sounded from above, until at last there came a piercing crack. A swarm of foot beats followed and then all was quiet. As the new silence descended, Mac caught his son's eye. More than anything he wanted to offer some word of encouragement; some unbreakable promise that everything would be alright . . . but words eluded him, so he simply smiled. In return, Sam gave a subtle wink accompanied by a look of absolute trust . Seeing this reaction, MacGyver's eyes lit with pride and his smile deepened. It may have been silent, but this moment of communication allowed him and his son to say all that was necessary, and more.

XXXXXXX

"Ahh!" Kahn retracted his hand immediately as sparks flew from the switch to his fingers.

"What is it now?" Neilson fumed. Before the man could explain, however, the Colonel waved a hand. "Never mind. Just keep moving!"

XXXXXXX

The trap door opened with a flash and soon the legs of the first guard appeared. As his body moved farther into view, another pair of legs dropped onto the upper rungs and then another. Three men in total, therefore were on the ladder before the hydraulic fluid was discovered. An unintelligible shout announced the event and mass discombobulation quickly ensued.

The first guard's sole slipped on the ninth rung. He yelled and grabbed for the sides of the ladder seeking support. Instead of impeding his fall, though, this maneuver only hastened his demise. Landing in a pile, the guard instantly tried to regain his bearings. Unfortunately for him, guard number two hurried his own journey down the ladder in order to offer some form of assistance. This, of course, resulted in another unscheduled fall and ended with both men flat on the floor. This downward spiral continued and multiplied until all of around five guards lay scattered about.

"What the devil is going on down there?!" Neilson demanded.

A series of grunts, groans and grumbles drifted upward, but no articulate answer seemed to emerge. The mass of bodies slowly began to separate and then those least impacted started testing their legs.

XXXXXXX

Mac eyed the figures below and trained his eyes on one particularly available guard. As he did so, a familiar empty feeling swirled into the pit of his stomach. His head felt light and his palms sweaty. Darned heights. Focus MacGyver, focus! Heeding his own advice, the troubleshooter narrowed his attention and prepared for the task at hand. Mentally he began coaxing his target into range. Just two steps farther. That's it . . . and one more . . . ah perfect!

XXXXXXX

The woosh, clunk of some mysterious, falling object startled the still disoriented foes lingering about the ladder. A muffled sound similar to something solid connecting with an unidentified part of the human body soon followed and then . . . nothing. Readying their weapons, the four remaining guards called out a phrase in their native tongue and waited for some kind of response.

XXXXXXX

Okay, so little problem here. German isn't exactly my best thing. Of course basic deduction can go a long way in semi-interpreting stuff like this. Based strictly on the inflection I'm gonna say that was a question not an order. I think I caught a name in there, too, so it was probably some sort of status check for my friend here.

I still remember a few bits of German, perhaps a little communication can be managed here. Let's see, 'guten morgen' - now that's a big help. Ah, 'aufgeben' perhaps, that means surrender I think . . . of course why the heck they should surrender I have no idea.

XXXXXXX

Straining through the darkness the guards repeated their previous call. This time, their tone was decidedly sharper and more urgent. For a moment, silence again answered them, until . . .

"Hier drüben."

Said in a hushed voice, the phrase elicited an immediate reaction from the guards. As one, they tensed, traded brief looks and moved forward. Guns still at the ready, they delved deeper into the shadows. The transition from the the lighted area about the ladder to the unlit recesses of the basement soon put the group at a disadvantage - a disadvantage from which they were not destined to recover.

XXXXXXX

From his position on the pipe, Sam assessed the situation below. Looking straight down he could see the unconscious fifth guard lying outstretched along the floor. A few feet away, crouched along one wall, was his Dad. On the opposite side of the room, heading directly for this well laid trap, were the guards. Walking in an angular box-type formation, the group appeared to be staying close together. Grinning to himself upon seeing this development, Sam felt his adrenaline begin to rush. Okay, boys. Here we go. Just like fallin' off a log. . .

. . . And fall they did. Connecting with the body of their fallen comrade, the two leading guards stumbled ahead. Their legs and arms extended in an attempt to remain upright, but a fist materializing out of the darkness quickly felled them to the ground. The blows came swiftly back to back, striking first one man and then the other.

Reports of the struggle traveled quickly and the two rear guards lunged forward to the rescue. A split second later, however the familiar whoosh, clunk of falling humanity ended this charge. Crumpling to the floor beneath their attackers, both victims instantly began to struggle. Blows were then exchanged and knuckles, along with other miscellaneous parts of anatomy, bruised.

Seeing the scuffle, Mac tried to lend a hand, but his advance was hindered when one of the previously downed guards grasped his leg. Tumbling to the floor, the troubleshooter recovered himself quickly and rolled to one side landing on his feet. His opponent executed a similar move and soon the pair sat facing each other mere feet apart.

Whenever I see a man squared off against me like this two possibilities come leaping to mind. One, he's gonna' shoot me or two, he's gonna' jump me. Both have happened to me more than I care to remember and most of the time I have not enjoyed the out come . . . especially the whole shooting thing.

Having lost his gun in the darkness, it became necessary for the guard to implement option number two - namely 'jumping'. Accordingly, the lanky body dropped, set, and then launched forward. It flew high and fast, angling expertly for the target's position.

Having identified his attacker's strategy in an instant, and being well practiced in the art of ducking, Mac readied himself for a quick tuck and roll. A fraction of a second later, he unfolded from this maneuver and rose successfully to his feet. A soft moan then greeted his ears and, upon inspection, he found that the would-be human projectile had impaled himself into the closest wall. A wince creased the troubleshooter's face and he turned away sympathetically.

Ouch. Concrete versus head. Don't think I like the sound of that.

With his opponent thus disposed of, MacGyver moved to reassess matters in the basement. Sam, he noted, was just polishing off one of the guards with a beautiful Karate chop while to his left, Murdoc sat atop an apparently vanquished foe with a superior sort of smirk decorating his face.

Alright. Five down, six to go . . .

XXXXXXX

Kneeling close to the trap door's edge, the Colonel tried to make sense of the noises rising from below. Obviously his men had encountered someone or something that was causing them difficulty, but detail-wise events still remained sketchy. He had heard dull thuds, muffled thwunks, and a variety of other sounds, but nothing readily discernible. What remained of his patience, therefore was now rapidly deteriorating.

"Kahn - report!"

XXXXXXX

"Neilson," Sam murmured and flicked his eyes toward his father. Raised eyebrows and a questioning look met him in return so the young man offered a bit of clarification. "Colonel Kurt Neilson - former East German Intelligence."

XXXXXXX

"Kahn - report!"

XXXXXXX

Understanding lit MacGyver's face. That voice, that name - he knew them both. Memories from their encounter years ago surged to the forefront of his mind. The questions, the poison, the narrow escape, everything. Along with these memories came the realization that this was the man who had taken his son. This was the man who'd had Sam in his clutches. The very thought caused his heart to pound. How could he have let this happen?

Standing close by, Murdoc watched as the troubleshooter worked to process this new development. When the man's look of recognition changed to one of sadness and then anger, he felt the need to investigate. "Let me guess," he hissed. "You know this guy, right?"

Mac gave a half nod and a shrug, but did not elaborate further.

Finding this response to be wholly unsatisfactory, the assassin pressed for more. "And?"

"And?" Mac grumbled back, clearly indicating that any and all pursuit of this subject was, as far as he was concerned, quite unnecessary.

Still undeterred, Murdoc folded his arms, pursed his lips and forged ahead. "And?"

MacGyver sighed. This was hardly the time or the place to enter into a battle of wills with his long time nemesis. If they wanted to make it out of the basement alive, there was no time left to be wasted. "Alright, alright," he capitulated softly. "If it's the same Neilson . . . he tried to kill me once about seven years ago."

"Well, didn't we all. It was a good year for that sort of thing."

Mac saw the fire leap into his son's eyes at this flippant remark. The young face became at once angry and fiercely protective. "Sam," Mac whispered, touching him on the shoulder. Their gazes locked for a moment and he offered a faint smile. "Don't listen to him; and don't worry about Neilson. He couldn't kill me before and he's not going to hurt anyone now."

XXXXXXX

Motioning to the remainder of his men, the Colonel ordered them to enter the basement. "Move out! And if MacGyver or his boy are down there, bring them to me - without fail!"

Shouts of acceptance, met Neilson from all sides, but he remained violently still. His usually well masked ire was rapidly rising unchecked to the surface.

XXXXXXX

Hearing the orders above, Mac, Sam and Murdoc reacted immediately. As planned, they now took shelter in the holding cell. MacGyver turned on the water faucet to attract attention, Sam pulled open the heavy door, and Murdoc retrieved the remaining gun parts from the far side of the room.

XXXXXXX

Exercising greater caution than their predecessors the latest descending guards managed to avoid toppling off of the ladder. It was tedious work, but eventually the lot of them reached the ground quite solidly on their feet. Having mastered this obstacle, the group, with weapons raised, now fanned out six abreast. The murmurs of running water soon reached their ears and as one they advanced toward the cell. Along the way the still unconscious 'first wave' bunch was discovered, causing several of the new arrivals to preemptively ready their guns. Obviously being caught off-guard was not in their plans.

XXXXXXX

Inside the holding cell, pressed against a wall near the doorway, Mac stood at the ready. The footfalls were getting closer. Any moment now the time to act would be upon them. Glancing up at the still glowing light bulb, he tried to judge the progress of their water timer. The once dry rag certainly looked damp enough . . . surely the light had to be close to blowing, right?

XXXXXXX

Two out of the six guards moved in close to the cell door and flattened themselves against the wall. The sound of running water continued to meet their ears, but other than that everything was quiet. Peeking a cautious eye around the corner, the senior man came within a fraction of spotting Mac. As it was, though, he saw nothing but empty space. A quick motion with his head then acted as an unspoken order for the remaining guards to enter and clear the room.

XXXXXXX

Sensing how close the enemy was, MacGyver threw a pleading look toward the light bulb.

Aw, c'mon. Blow . . . now, please . . .

The muzzle of two guns poked through the open doorway.

Aw man . . .

Four bodies, moving with military precision, flooded into the room. One went left, two forward, and another right. As a result, Mac found himself staring point blank at a the business end of a machine gun. Before his instincts had a chance to react, however, it happened - a loud crack, a flash of light and then darkness. Seizing this moment of opportunity, Mac grabbed the weapon aimed his way. Jerking it hard in a circular motion, he soon had it wrenched from the guard's hands. Without pause, he then used the non-lethal end to register a knock to his opponent's left temple. The man crumpled instantly.

Meanwhile, Sam managed to take down two of the other guards himself. Having taken up a position between the open door and the wall, he had successfully transformed the seventy-five pound door into a hinged battering ram. Plowing into the fixture with all of his might, the young man had swung the obstacle solidly into one foe while simultaneously winging another. A swift Karate kick had then made short work of the latter, rendering him quite indisposed.

During this time of utter pandemonium, Murdoc also leaped into the action and made himself useful. Having tucked himself away behind the half-wall partition, armed only with the remaining gun parts, the assassin timed his attack perfectly. A split second before the light blew, he jumped up and over the wall. Clutching the flannel shirt that held the weapon pieces in one hand, he swung it hard into the first guard he found. The first blow disarmed his enemy and the second incapacitated him. Then according to plan, Murdoc emptied the contents of his 'club' onto the floor. The noise was astounding.

Acting immediately, the guards who had remained outside plunged through the door. Instantly they slipped and fell as their feet rolled over the barrels, screws and cylinders of the dismantled guns.

"Sam! Murdoc! Go!" Mac ordered as he pushed the fallen men deeper into the cell. Feeling two bodies move past him in the dark, the troubleshooter smiled in satisfaction. Grabbing the door, he then pulled it tightly shut. Engaging what was left of the hydraulic locks, he then sagged against the wall. Angry fists soon began to pound on the door and he smiled all the more. Eleven down, one to go . . . "Sam? Murdoc? Everyone okay?"

"If I were you MacGyver, I would start worrying about myself."

Swiveling hard to his right, the troubleshooter's eyes searched through the darkness for the source of the ominous voice. Almost immediately Colonel Kurt Neilson came into view, gun drawn.

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** For those who are curious 'hier drüben' means 'over here' . . . just FYI. :)