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posted in 24_fanfic

Title: The Beauty Of Our Weapons, Chapter 1
Author: marinw
Rating: R for violence
Characters: Jack/Renee/Chloe
Summary: A canister of pathogen is in New York
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of those crazy kids at the Fox Production Company.
A/C: Oh, Leonard, you are such a good source of fic titles. Minor spoilers for Day 8. If you’ve seen the trailer, you won’t learn anything new. Thanks to my beta cybertoothtiger.

“The intel is good.”
“How did you get it?” asked Renee.
“It doesn’t matter now.” There was fresh blood on Jack’s knuckles.
 Renee didn’t ask who the suspect was or where this person was now.
Jack drove the commandeered yellow taxi through another red light. A couple of unsuspecting vehicles screeched out of the way.
“Chloe, where is backup?!” Renee demanded over her comm.
“Ten minutes out,” Chloe answered apoligetically. “Mr. Hastings insists on proper scrambling procedure, and doesn’t want to send agents in without the CDC nearby, and they’re fifteen minutes out.”
“We need that building evacuated!” said Jack.
“External communications have been cut off. I can’t get through. This grid is some ass-backwards 2009 setup,” said Chole.
“Dammit!” said Renee.
“We’re going to have to do this ourselves,” said Jack.
“We don’t have HAZMAT suits. Or even vests.”
“We don’t have a choice.”
Two minutes later they were at the base of the skyscraper. It was a very tall, gleaming thing, a showcase of 21st Century architecture and engineering.
Jack parked the taxi at a haphazard angle. Jack and Renee abandoned the car and ran into the large glass atrium.
“Federal agents!” Renee declared to the security guard. It was almost true. “We need access to the third sub-basement.”
“Ma’am, I need to see some ID.”
“Now!” Jack screamed. He pointed his gun at the man.
The guard released the lock on the stairwell. “I’m calling the cops.”
“Tell them to stay out of the way until we’re done,” ordered Renee.
Jack didn’t demand an evacuation. They were past the point where it would have made a difference.
Renee ran to the door with Jack close behind. After months of therapy and exercise, his body had almost returned to what it had always been: he was lean, strong, fast and well-coordinated. It was astonishing how well his body functioned considered the various abuses he had suffered.
Renee still could run faster. Jack chose not to let that bother him.
“Chloe, we’re in the third sub-basement,” Renee said over the comm.
“I have the building schematics. Room 101 is twenty feet south to your right. I’m hacking into the door-code now.”
Jack and Renee were there a few seconds later. “Chloe, talk to me,” said Jack.
“The ventilation shaft is eight feet up on the far wall,” said Chloe.
“I’m going to have to close it manually,” Jack said as the realization dawned on him.
Renee looked at her watch and her face clouded. “We’re out of time.”
They both knew what that meant.
“I’ll go shut off the vent,” said Jack.
“The pathogen.”
“I’ve already been exposed. I’m immune.”
“Is that what Dr. Macer told you?”
“Not exactly. But the theory is sound.”
“Go. I’ll hold them off.”
Jack handed Renee his gun so that Renee would have two weapons. He entered the room, closing the heavy metal door behind him.
He saw the too-familiar shape of the canister underneath a table. He didn’t need to look at the red blinking of the digital readout.
Two seconds…One second…
There was one, flat, barely audible beep and the canister split open.
The gas looked familiar too. It appeared as thick water vapor, a deceptively harmless-looking fog. Jack held his breath, not that it would do any good. His memory still held the noxious smell.
He grabbed a chair and pushed it against the wall, underneath the vent that Chole had mentioned. Jumping on the chair, he noted that the vent could be closed by a simple lever. He pulled the lever down now, trapping all the air in small room.
Had they been too late? Had any pathogen escaped through the shaft? Enough to infect the hundreds of people who worked here?  Until the CDC got here with their instruments, there was no way of knowing.
Outside the thick walls, Jack could hear gunshots. Single shots, not automatic weapons.
Macer had estimated that it took about thirty seconds for the pathogen to become inert.
It was going to be the longest thirty seconds of his life. Jack didn’t question Renee’s abilities, but how many Starkwood agents was she up against? The guns were fully loaded. Renee had an extra clip, but reloading in the middle of a firefight wasn’t always possible.
Thirty seconds was far too much time. After twenty Jack jumped off the chair.
He needed to start breathing. He reluctantly exhaled.
He pushed open the door quickly, to surprise Renee’s assailants and to protect himself.
Renee was no longer outside the door, she had must have needed to change her position. Jack glanced to his left and glimpsed a long red ponytail disappear behind a corner. Propping the door open with the chair, he ran towards her.
She was already down. The floor was slick, thick liquid dyeing the tip of her ponytail an even darker shade of red.
Jack dove on top of Renee, to shield her from further gunfire and to reach one of her weapons. He could feel the rise and fall of her chest beneath his own. He almost vomited with relief.
Jack barely registered the pain when a new bullet entered his side. He screamed as he fired Renee’s gun. The other man fell quickly, falling on top of another man whom Renee must have already shot. Both men must have been Starkwood even though they were wearing generic security guard uniforms. Jack couldn’t tell if they were dead, or if they wore masks.
He could already hear new footsteps. The security guard must have been Starkwood too. Jack didn’t know exactly how many bullets Renee had fired, but he was reasonably sure he was almost out of ammunition.
“Drop your weapon, Bauer. It’s over.”
Jack looked up. These people were wearing helmets, full face masks with respirators, and Kevlar vest bearing the CTU logo. The Calvary had arrived.