A/N This version is very different from the original, isn't it? I guess that's a good thing. I actually watched selected sections of the episode for this, since I haven't watched it since it aired. My thanks to all of you who leave comments and give me ideas for future chapters.
"Now she's a real girl."
"Not very subtle, your husband."
"We set a trap, General."
Sarah turned, to see Hannah standing behind her, looking surprised. She put on her best cool, slightly disdainful look. "Yes? Sarah Anderson. Have we met?" Don't let me down. Over their comms Chuck was relaying the gist of the encounter to her teammates.
Hannah adopted an embarrassed expression. "No. I'm sorry, it was just a chance resemblance to someone I know."
Sarah sniffed, her expression getting colder. "I thought not. I can't imagine anyone I know appearing in public in last year's fashions. Be a dear and hold this for me." She handed Hannah her glass and sauntered away. Behind her she heard a stage-whispered 'Bitch" and smiled to herself.
"Well-played, wife," said Chuck over her ear-comm.
"She's not gonna **Unit two?** problem, is she?" asked Casey.
Sarah took a brochure and made a point of studying it, bringing her watch closer to her mouth. "Getting some interference." And not from Hannah, either.
"What kind of **In position, standing by.** getting, Sarah?" Chuck sounded concerned, but his 'freaking out' days were in the past, it seemed. She sort of missed them.
"Military-style instructions." She replaced the brochure, turning to sweep the room with her camera again. Across the room she noticed Shaw tense slightly, not that he appeared to have relaxed very much. She looked around, checking for guards or other security types using a radio or something, but saw none.
"Scanning. **Leader is moving.** up a signal, but it's encrypted."
"I'm hearing it plain as day."
"Not saying you aren't, just won—wait a minute, turn back."
She turned back towards the door as another party of guests made their own entrance. The man in the middle focused on the Mask, removing his gloves but not his scarf, and Sarah noticed some burn scars.
"That's Nicos Vassilis, a very bad man. I doubt he's here for the lecture."
She watched the other men with him as they fanned out. "Tell Shaw." He wasn't on their network.
Shaw reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone, read the text, and excused himself to the others he was chatting with. He walked into a corner, keeping his face away from the crowd. His phone automatically patched through. "We have to abort. I gave him those burns, there's no way he won't recognize me. Neither of our projected scenarios will work now."
Casey snarled into his comm, too disgusted to grunt.
"Then we'll have to go to plan C," said Sarah.
"What's plan C?"
"Charles?" asked Carina, eyeing some jewels speculatively.
Shaw actually sounded interested. "Carmichael? He's here?"
"No," said Casey. "But this sort of snafu-bar is red meat for the Mad Dog. If I know him I'll have to get my 'mean face' on."
Sarah and Carina happened to be looking towards each other when the same thought popped into both of their heads. They both snatched up new flutes of champagne to hold in front of their mouths until the smirks went away.
"How long will it take him to get here? Vassilis wouldn't have revealed himself if this was just a scouting operation."
"What makes you think I'm not already here, Agent Shaw?"
"What are our resources, and don't forget to mention a wheelbarrow if we've got one."
"No wheelbarrows, Carmichael. We've got me on the outside, everyone else is dressed to the nines on the inside. Small sidearms, knives, the usual."
"Hannah's here, too," added Sarah softly.
"She's an analyst."
They could hear Charles' lip curl. "She's a Holocaust cloak, Colonel, just waiting to be lit. Excellent. I do believe I will let her have some fun. Carina?"
The beautiful redhead in the form-fitting dress suddenly stood, frowning. Sarah looked, found Hannah standing by a vase on display, fingers tracing the design. Sarah coughed, a sound that only caught at the attention of someone familiar with the sound.
Hannah looked up, and saw her friend watching her. Deliberately, Sarah looked to her left, and Hannah followed her gaze. Suddenly the beautiful redhead sneezed. She saw Hannah staring at her and stared back, before 'remembering' to her disgust that her skimpy outfit had no room in it for underwear, much less a handkerchief. She headed for the bathroom.
Hannah looked back at Sarah, who smiled. The slight brunette ambled toward the facilities herself.
"Colonel," said Charles, "I hope you were lying to me. If you don't happen to have your usual arsenal in the trunk I'll be very disappointed."
"It's a museum, Graboid, not exactly the right kind of place for a frontal assault."
"Diversionary tactics only. Do this right and no shots will need to be fired."
Oh well, at least it's action. Casey smiled around his cigar. "I may have forgotten to mention a few things."
Carina and Hannah returned from the bathroom, not at the same time, of course. Shaw was pleased to note the new addition to their team didn't even so much as glance in his direction, even though she must have been briefed. Carmichael surrounded himself with good people. Then his phone buzzed.
Sarah watched Vassilis in the reflection of a display case, quite certain that her teammates could keep Hannah on course and completely safe. The terrorist was circling the display like a vulture, and that wasn't good. "Hurry it up, Charles."
"Just making a phone call, no need to panic. I hope you don't mind getting arrested…"
The museum manager came out of his office, looking flustered and trying to hide it. With quick gestures he summoned his security chief and started talking rapidly.
Vassilis finished his slow, patient circle, letting his men take their positions among the overdressed sheep as he contemplated his prize. In just a few moments, the United States would—What? No!
Sarah saw his face twist in sudden rage, but before she could even turn to take him down, the door slammed open to admit a very large man with a very mean face and a big black bag. The security guards, forewarned, took up positions to block the door behind him.
"Federal Agents! Daniel Anderson, you are under arrest!"
Shaw flinched and fled, fleeing down the nearest hallway before Vassilis could turn to see what was happening. Casey pushed his bag into the security chief's hands and followed.
"Federal agents!" shouted Hannah, Carina's gun in one hand and Carina's ID in the other, and all eyes turned to the other side of the room. "Sarah Anderson, you are under arrest!"
Sarah turned, saw her friend looking very fierce and clearly enjoying herself, following Casey's lead as Chu-Charles had told her to do. She sighed and surrendered meekly. Hannah stalked up to her and spun her around, slapping Carina's cuffs on her wrists. "Be a dear and hold these for me."
She turned Sarah about, as Casey emerged from the hallway, an unconscious man cuffed and slung over his shoulder, his suit coat dangling and obscuring his face. "What?" he asked mildly, looking only at Hannah. "Resisting arrest."
The museum manager stalked up to Casey. "What is going on here?"
"Art thieves, sir," said Casey, dumping his captive none too gently on the floor. "Daniel and Sarah Anderson, wanted for a number of thefts on the west coast. They were after your Mask in LA, but they couldn't get past the security. I knew they'd follow it here, I just had to wait for the opening."
"You had to ruin our opening gala? Why?"
Casey nudged the body on the floor with his toe. "Because this little freak's too good to get caught in the act, but he's got a weakness. He likes to attend the openings, knowing all along that the centerpieces of your little displays are sitting in his car, waiting to be fenced." He held out his hand, and the security chief gave him his bag. Setting it on the floor, Casey unzipped it and pulled out another Mask of Alexander, draped in a plastic bag.
"You will give that to me, now."
The sound of numerous guns being readied accompanied the man's heavily-accented words, although when Casey looked up from his crouch, the scarred man himself was not holding one. Casey looked around, and saw a number of thugs with weapons pointed at him and his partner, the only gun-holding people in the room other than them. Catching Hannah's eye, he set his gun on the floor and raised his empty hand away from it. She did likewise.
"I have to thank you, Agent, for returning my property," said Vassilis condescendingly. "When I noticed that this was not the original I was prepared to order my men to slaughter everyone here on general principles, but that would not be nearly so newsworthy. You may commend yourself on a job well done. Give me my Mask."
Casey stood up slowly, emphasizing his lack of threat. He held out the mask, allowing the shaft to spin in his fingers.
The front panel flopped open and a canister fell out. As Vassilis looked in horror, Casey said in a bored tone, "Here we go."
The canister started spewing smoke.
Hannah dropped, falling on the gun but mainly just getting out of the way.
Most of the onlookers wrinkled their noses. Smoke bombs don't smell all that great and probably most of them hadn't been forced to endure such a stink since they'd become old enough to tell the maid to 'take it away.'
Vassilis shrieked in horror, "You fool! You've killed us all!" He looked around wildly. "The antidote! Where is the antidote?"
His men stopped watching their targets for a critical second.
All four agents, none of them cuffed any longer, attacked, forcing muzzles up and away from any targets, rendering their holders unable to squeeze the triggers anyway. Within seconds the entire team of Ring goons was disabled and on the ground.
"Don't move or I kill her!" shrieked Nicos as he dragged Hannah toward the door, her gun at her head. He flashed a glance at the door and its guards. "Get out of my way!"
"Please!" said the museum manager. "Everything in this room is a priceless relic! Stop fighting!"
"Agents! Stand down," ordered Casey, and his companions obeyed. He nodded at the security guards. "Do as he says, gentlemen."
Vassilis watched as his enemies moved away from him, dragging his hostage back toward the wall so no one could sneak up on him from behind. Priceless relics. Trash to be destroyed. He burned to kill his enemies but that would have to wait for another day.
Hannah moved backward with him, watching her friends. No Charles Carmichael-inspired high-tech chicanery would get her out of this one. She could see that Sarah would kill this man, and gladly, for threatening her, but she needed the opportunity to do it.
This was so not her thing. She was an analyst, a tech, she loved French films and classical music and art and…and…She reached out, grabbed a vase off its pedestal, and swung it above her own head, glad for once that she was short.
It smashed and she dropped a second time when her captor's grip loosened. A gun fired and a man screamed, but not the same man. She looked up and saw the burned man, a growing splash of red on his chest. One of the agents stepped forward, a tall black-haired man with a gun in his hand. "Goodbye, Nicos," was all he said, as Vassilis slid down the wall.
"You smashed a priceless treasure!" shrieked the manager as the tall man helped her stand. "Absolutely irreplaceable!"
"It was not," she said with some heat. What was she supposed to do, let some whacko with a gun drag her out the door? "Just look at the damn thing! Sure it looks good from a distance, but a lot of the details were wrong." She gestured around the room. "You've got half the Alexandrian scholars on the Eastern Seaboard here, have them look at it."
The manager looked her, stunned. "Another fake? But why?"
"Probably this," said Hannah, holding up a tube that looked like an oversized lipstick case.
Casey took it from her hand. "The counteragent for the poison they thought was in the grenade. We intercepted it last night. When we discovered it was live we realized they might strike at the gala, and set up a sting to distract them. Sorry about all of this." Not that he sounded a bit sorry.
The manager looked at the 'Andersons'. "It was all fake?"
"But…the Mask? The vase?"
Casey shrugged. "Probably never left Damascus. Replaced them with fakes before they ever shipped." Outside, a black van pulled up, and men poured out to gather the unconscious terrorists. "We'll be out of your way in a bit." The manager said nothing, just stood there looking at them. Casey snagged a leftover flute of champagne. "Here. Looks like you could use one."
"I'm so sorry, Hannah," said Sarah, once they were outside.
"Don't be," said the brunette. "I wasn't forced to do it, your husband asked me if I wanted to help and I jumped at the chance." She didn't know which was worse, the feel of the gun against her head, or the thought that Sarah would have to watch, whatever happened. "Never again, though."
"Thanks," said Sarah. "I have enough friends in danger. I'd like to know some of them are safe."
"The operation failed."
"Vassilis?" asked the leader calmly.
"Good." Saved them the trouble of killing him themselves. "What did we learn from the failure?"
"Shaw has found new allies, a most effective team." Digital photos appeared on the screen, Shaw and Sarah, Casey, Carina, even Hannah.
The leader flicked a finger, and two pictures went into the 'Known' file. The others went into the operative's personal folder. "Study these, report to me personally." A tap, and Hannah's image started flashing. "Start with her."
A/N2 I know I suck at fight scenes. That's why I don't do many of them. Comments welcome as always.