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ADEN 2/2

posted in 24_fanfic

Title: Aden, Chapter 2
Author: marinw
Characters: Jack. Pirates. The motley captain and crew of the Aden. Need I say more?
Rating: R for violence
Summary: A few months Pre-Redemption. Jack travels between India and Africa
Disclaimer: 24 is the Property of the Fox Production Company.
A/N: I’m taking a few librities here: IIRC, we are never told if Sangala is a land-locked country, or what side of Africa it’s on. But I am following the canon in that almost everyone speaks English. So there. Thanks to my beta, cybertoothtiger.
One of the barrels had been pierced by the gunfire. The dark, viscous fluid was seeping over the deck.
Jack almost lost his balance as he slid across the deck. The other crew members and the pirates were too engrossed in their own fighting to notice him.
He crouched behind the barrels. He aimed the rifle at the crowd. It was impossible to get a clean shot of the pirates. There was a time when he would have sacrificed one of the innocents to eliminate the threat. He now knew that he couldn’t do that anymore.
He could sacrifice himself. For a good reason.  A small tanker full of crude wasn’t a good reason.
An explosion. It would be the answer to a lot of things. Everyone was far enough away. Almost. Maybe.
Jack crawled over to a nearby electrical panel. He tore open the box and yanked out a cable. The glowing, ragged end reminded Jack of the sparkler Kim had once put on his birthday cake.
He choose his target. The barrel was small, and isolated. The fire would be small and contained. Theoretically.  
He dipped the hose into the dark slimy puddle, and then he ran liked hell.
He made it inside before the barrel exploded. He could feel the walls shake with the concussion. Jack grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall and went back onto the deck.
For a moment, the fear almost stopped him. He expected to see bodies. Bodies that were no longer living because of what he had just done.
He fought down the nausea that had formed in his throat. If he saw burned bodies he knew he would vomit.
The fire was already dieing down. He could still feel his knees star to melt. He blinked at the heat and the acrid smoke as he stumbled out to the deck.
There were no bodies. Not this time.
Instead, he saw the pirates scurry overboard. The four men hastily crawled down the ladder leading to their own vessel. One man had the chief over his shoulder. Was the man dead? Jack would never know.
The crew  leaned over the railing, shaking their fists. Laughing and spitting.
It was over, and it had almost been too easy.
“Cowards!” The Captain spat.
Jack ran up the railing. The pirates had boarded their little boat. Jack counted: Five. None of the pirates were hiding on board the Aden.
In their haste, the chief’s machine gun had been left on deck. Jack grabbed the nearest rifle and shot a few rounds into the water.
“They won’t be back,” Jack declared.
“I do not know whether to thank you or to kill you,” the captain said.
“Yeah, you’re welcome.”
“I would just have given them the oil. And they would leave us alone. Instead, you endanger everyone.”
“They would have killed us. You know that. I made the right call.”
“I know of no such thing. I am the one in command, Jack. Now, the authorities have been alerted by the satellites. The Americans will become involved.”
“They Americans don’t care about us. Trust me. They don’t.”
“It is their oil in our hold. They will care.”
The Captain was right. As soon as the Aden docked in Sangala, the United Nations security force was surrounding the ship. They were easy to identify by their blue vests and helmets.
The captain spat in disgust. “I do not need this attention. Now my ship will be known to all pirates. You, Jack. Go to the blue men. Take the credit. Hero.”
Hero. The captain made the word drip with sarcasm.
“I can’t. Sir, I haven’t been entirely honest with you.”
“You don’t have a degree in chemical engineering. I figured that.”
“It’s not just that. I’m not a Canadian. I’m American. And my government is looking for me.”
The Captain reached into his inside pocket and handed Jack a pile of damp bills. Jack knew without counting that it was less money then he was owed.
“Go. Get someone else in trouble,” The captain hissed through his thick, chapped lips and  broken teeth.
Jack nodded and left the deck.
Jack went back to his bunk. A small room with only a porthole for a window. A tiny sink. A metal bunk with a thin mattress, old sheets, a scratchy blanket and a rather lumpy pillow.
The room was also about the same size as the tiny room in the Buddhist Monastery where Jack had lasted exactly three days before the silence punctuated by chanting became unbearable.
The room looked like a jail cell. The only real difference was that Jack had chosen to be here.
He changed into his one other outfit. He wondered when the next chance to do laundry would present itself. He washed his hands and face and decided to delay shaving for another day.
Packing his courier bag and his knapsack only took a few minutes. He washed the blood off of his knife and replaced it in its sheath. But not before he picked off the little maple leaf patch from the knapsack.
He took a moment to carefully fold the silk shawl he had purchased in Rajasthan as he admired the translucent fabric  and the green and brown pattern. He wondered if he would ever be able to give this gift to it’s intended recipient. It wasn’t bulky, but it still took up valuable space in his pack. Jack kept it anyway.
He  made sure he had all his official documents, the passport he never flashed and the credit card he never used.  Those things were what normal citizens used. Jack couldn’t leave a trail.
His few belongings on his back, Jack took a final look around his little room. He wasn’t leaving anything behind. It would be as if he was never here. The UN. envoys would have nothing to find.
As a final measure of courtesy to the ship’s crew, Jack deposited his bed sheets in the laundry chute.
Jack left the Aden as the blue UN helicopters landed on the deck. He walked along the wharf and into Sangala’s small capital city. He would have to be careful to avoid the American Embassy.
The subpoena would soon be overdue. Jack hadn’t been paying too much attention to the international news, but he did know the polls favored Allison Taylor to win the upcoming election. And she wasn’t going to let the Senate hearings slide. On the contrary, one of her campaign promises was to continue the investigation into the more controversial methods used by CTU and the other intelligence agencies.
Eventually, Jack was going to have to stop running.
But not today.