Title: 'Bite the Bullet'
Series: 'Air Force One - Part IV' <airforceonevote@yahoo.co.uk>
Author: Anna Rousseau <annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk>
Fandom: The West Wing
Genre: INTERACTIVE Drama/Action-Adventure
Category: Cast
Rating: PG-13
Archive: Please, just tell me where.
Spoilers: Season 1, up to 'Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics'
Set: AU, S1 finale. Josh doesn't have PSTD :o)

Summary: General overview on Part I. President Bartlet and Luis discuss the terms of their agreement whilst Sam and Toby craft a speech which will surely rock the EU summit.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, dammit! And I'm sorry for hurting them all, bad me :o) But, hey, Aaron, if you're reading, I'm 17 today and I would appreciate my very own Sam and Josh.

Political Disclaimer: Do I look like a suave political operative to you? Spin doctor maybe, supremo statesman I am not. So again, don't shout. Credit goes to Encarta 2001 Reference Suite!

How to Vote: Details on Part I, basically put your vote in a review or e-mail (subject heading 'AFO 4' so I know what part you are voting for) it to me at <airforceonevote@yahoo.co.uk> ASAP. Part V is out in a fortnight (hopefully, homework not being to heavy!), so you have a week to vote. No chads involved, so it should work out OK!

Votes for 'Should We Tell the Vice President?': Great response and suggestions, so thanks! It's great to get the input and you're helping me out so much. Please keep voting, it's the only way to do this!


"BITE THE BULLET"
=================


11:01 EST - 3 HOURS INTO FLIGHT
AIR FORCE ONE, SITUATION ROOM

President Bartlet looked from Leo McGarry to Donna Moss, her face becoming red and flushed at the proximity of the knife being held to her throat.

"Time to make a decision, Mr. President," Luis sneered, his face quite calm and his voice very steady.

There was a moment of silence in the room as the President looked down at his hands that were resting on the table and then closed his eyes. Beside him, Leo's eyes were darting from Donna to her captor.

Finally, Bartlet looked up his eyes cool and unyielding. "I want a guarantee that this plane will land safely if I comply with your terms."

Luis let his knife fall back from Donna's neck slightly and nodded. "That is reasonable. What do you propose?"

"I want your 'word'," the President's voice caught slightly as if he couldn't believe the words coming from his mouth, "that you will keep the pilots alive."

"Do you really want your only request to be that idiotic, Mr. President?" Luis replied, staring Bartlet straight back into the eye. "I am a man of honour, Mr. President. I am not a murderer and I do not wish to put the lives of the people aboard this plane in danger." He took a breath and brought the knife away from Donna's neck, but poised it over her cheek instead. "However, if it is necessary, I will not hesitate to kill anyone here."

"So that's a yes," President Bartlet replied dryly, loosening the knot in his tie.

"Yes," Luis replied, the blade still hovering over Donna's face. Donna closed her eyes and a small choking noise was emitted from her mouth.

Leo leant forward, his voice uncompromising; "We will need to speak to the Vice President."

Luis laughed, "I'm afraid that is out of the question."

"Well, I'm sorry, but without an Air Force escort the President will not agree to your demands," Leo replied, his forehead furrowed.

"You should not be threatening me, Mr. McGarry."

"I'm not threatening you, I'm telling you that this is the way things are," Leo said, his eyes wide. "We're not negotiating with you on this one, we want a guarantee that you're not all gonna jump ship and blow this plane out of the sky."

Luis spun the knife around in his hand and let it come to rest with its sharpened point pressing into Donna's cheek, yet drawing no blood. "Will you agree to the terms if I allow this?"

Leo looked at the President, who weakly nodded, his eyes downcast. "What else can we do, Leo?"

The silence in place of a response was the only answer any of them needed. This was a situation none of them had planned for; one none of them had ever contemplated even in their darkest hours. This was something they should not have to go through.

Staring back at the President and the Chief of Staff, Luis never let his arm move from where it was pinning Donna around the waist to his lap. "There must be no word to the Vice President about the specifics of the situation. I will tell you what to say and when to say it. If any word of this gets to the EU leaders, I will know." He smiled enigmatically, "The people of America will know, also, as I will detonate the bomb."

"Agreed," President Bartlet replied after a while, in a resigned tone of voice.

"In the meantime some speech-writing needs to take place," Luis said, his voice positively happy. "Let me remind you, and your staff, that if you attempt to disregard the terms, either here or at the Summit, then something far more dire than this will happen."

As if to demonstrate, Luis gripped the knife and drew it across Donna's check, a stream of crimson blood flowing from the severed skin. Donna jumped back from the knife and let out a brief and high-pitched shriek, one solitary tear tumbling down her face to mingle with the redness of her blood. Her face blanched and she trembled slightly.

Luis looked around the room to observe the outraged reaction from the assembled staff and journalists, and smiled to himself. His gaze returned to the President, whose eyes were steely cold.

"Do you understand, Mr. President?"

Bartlet nodded, trying to hold back his distress. "Perfectly."

***

11:12 EST
THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON DC

"Mr. Vice President!"

Hoynes turned from speaking to Fitzwallace as an uniformed man sitting opposite him at the conference table in the Situation Room raised his voice above the frenzied chatter that filled the darkened room. "Yes?"

"It's Air Force One," the man replied. This sent waves of murmurs through people around the table. Some staffers started to put calls through to the Pentagon, and technicians fiddled around with the computers and displays on the screen at one end of the room.

Hoynes nodded and a hush settled over the room. He looked to one of the staffers who gave him a swift jerk of the head, and he cleared his throat. Hoynes then started to speak into the telephone unit in front of him.

"This is John Hoynes, Vice President of the United States of America, to whom am I speaking?" his tone was official, almost regal to some extent.

The voice that came across the line through the loudspeaker was clear, foreign and only marred by the slight crackle of static. "I am a member of 'Basque Liberty and Equality', we are a group dedicated to the partition of the Basque Country. I, at the moment, have control of Air Force One, and one of my hostages is the President of the United States."

Hoynes looked around the room at the assembled generals and chiefs, then took a sip of the glass of water in front of him. "What is the status of the passengers on board?"

There was a slight chuckle. "They are all alive and well... except for the Secret Service agents whose number has been severely diminished. But that was inevitable, you understand."

His cheeks flushing slightly, Hoynes proceeded. "And the First Lady and the President's daughter?"

"Unscathed," the disembodied voice replied, "not for long, though, if you try anything underhand which will jeopardise our demands."

"And what would those demands be?"

There was a moment of silence. Hoynes glanced around at the technicians, not sure whether the line had been cut. All he received in response were blank stares.

"John."

A sigh of relief was issued from the people in the room as President Bartlet's voice came through the speaker.

"Mr. President," Hoynes replied, feeling somewhat relieved. "Are you hurt?"

"No I'm not, but I can't say that Sam Seaborn and Josh Lyman are doing too well, they-" Bartlet's voice disappeared for a while, as if his captors were restricting the content of his speech. When his voice returned it was firm and void of emotion. "I want an Air Force escort sent right away. No word of this situation must get to anyone outside the situation room. No press. No consultations with the EU leaders."

"Fine," Hoynes replied, slightly puzzled by the President's element of secrecy and his abrupt tone of voice.

"No word," the President reiterated, his voice almost sharp. "No military action must be taken. Just an escort of five fighter jets."

Hoynes looked to Fitzwallace who nodded and turned to his staff, "That was a direct order from your Commander-In-Chief. Get to it."

"Sir, what can you tell us about the sit-"

The Vice President stopped as the unfamiliar noise of silence filled the room. A technician called from across the room; "They cut the call."

Sighing Hoynes looked at Fitzwallace. "How long till we can get the escort to them?"

"Approximately ninety minutes," Fitzwallace replied, his forehead glistening with perspiration under the yellowish light. "They're off the ground now."

Hoynes nodded and took up his glass of water in his hand. "I guess all we do now is wait."

***

11:42 EST
AIR FORCE ONE, FLIGHT DECK


"Pouvoir. Je peux, tu peux, il peut, nous pouvons, vous pouvez... ils... ils... uh," CJ Cregg stared up at the ceiling and bit her lip. "Ils?"

Toby Ziegler rolled his eyes, his temporary state of tranquillisation over. "Will you two stop this now?"

Mallory and CJ had been biding their time, and keeping their mind from other more pressing matters, by trying to remember irregular French verb conjugations. It was barely working, but there was little else to do when they were tied to chairs, hands bound by rope. Secretly, CJ had been filling the time by trying to extricate her ankles from the ropes that bound them to the chair whilst trying to make her movements subtle.

"Unless you know what the 'ils' form of pouvoir is, I suggest you shut up," CJ replied curtly, only just keeping her nerves. Her left ankle slipped out of the grip of the rope and the other one followed. She allowed herself a small smile.

"When did you learn French?" Toby replied, ignoring her last statement.

CJ turned her head and directed her smile at him; "I minored in it."

He nodded, his eyes set on hers. "There's a lot I don't know about you, Claudia Jean."

Her face fell, looking at him seriously. "I'm a woman of mystery, Toby. Get used to it. I have dark secrets like knowing a little French and being able to cook, y'know, food."

"How dry you are," Toby mumbled, looking down at the floor to the splatters of blood that stained the floor in a random pattern.

CJ bantered back, "Get used to it, I'm not going away anytime soon."

Looking back at Mallory who was staring into space, her eyes not fixed on anything in particular, CJ sighed. She looked around the cabin and honestly couldn't find anything more interesting to concentrate on apart from French verbs or their inevitable death. French verbs won in the end and jubilantly CJ announced, "Peuvent!"

Toby stared at CJ as if she had grown a second head. "Oh, God."

CJ was just about to retort when footsteps sounded on the metal steps and two figures ascended into the cabin.

Mallory's head snapped around and Toby looked up to see Donna being lead onto the flight deck by Luis, his arm resting around her slender waist. There was a long red line across Donna's pale cheek, the blood that had once dripped from the cut was now congealed and dry.

"What happened?" Toby demanded, more than slightly shocked to see Donna in front of him, her face cut.

Luis pushed Donna roughly into the arms of Roberto, his bulky guard who was stood opposite Mallory, eyeing Leo's daughter lewdly.

"Nothing to concern yourself with, Mr. Ziegler," Luis replied, moving over to the Communications Director and beginning to untie him from the chair. "I need you to concentrate on a speech I want writing."

Toby looked at Luis, his eyes incredulous. "Well, I'm sorry, I'm not really in the mood for crafting oratory at the moment, because, y'know I'm surrounded by dead bodies and terrorists. The ambience really takes my creativity away."

"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit," Luis sneered, tossing the rope he had just untied from around Toby's wrists onto the floor.

"That wasn't sarcasm."

Luis ignored Toby and motioned for him to get up. CJ watched Toby eye Luis warily as he got up from the chair. The dark-haired man indicated to the table opposite, which had just been cleared of its official flight documents and the bodies of dead flight technicians by Luis' accomplices. "I'm letting you do this without being tied up on the condition that you will obey me. Now sit."

Toby said nothing, and sat at the table, stroking his beard and looking at CJ who threw him a look of desperation.

Luis grabbed Donna back from Roberto, where she was being held against the tall man's body, her eyes wide and watery. Starting to tie her into the chair Toby had just been released from, Luis looked up at her pale face from where he fixed the ropes around Donna's ankles. Luis gave Donna a small smile and reached up to brush her golden hair out of her face. Donna's head dodged his touch and she sneered at him, her voice shaky, "Don't touch me."

CJ could see that Mallory was watching Donna's treatment with anger, her cheeks stained red. Mallory leant forwards in her chair and narrowed her eyes at Luis, "Leave her alone!"

Luis leered at Mallory and let his hand come to rest on Donna's arm. "Why should I?"

Extending her long legs, CJ kicked Luis shin, sending him toppling over onto his back from his crouching position.

Luis picked himself from the ground, and examined his suit, only to find dark spots of blood on his finely tailored suit. He looked at CJ, his eyes gleaming. Reaching into his pocket he drew out his gun.

Mallory's eyes widened in shock as Luis approached CJ. The Press Secretary sank back into her chair, looking down the barrel of the gun as it was levelled on her face.

"Do that again, and I will not give a second thought to firing this bullet," Luis breathed, his accent becoming thicker and more pronounced. "Understand?"

CJ swallowed, feeling herself break out in a cold sweat.

"Understand?" Luis barked.

Donna glanced over at CJ's blanched face. Mallory prompted her, her voice pleading, "CJ!"

CJ looked up at Luis and nodded quickly. "I understand."

Luis stared at CJ for a lingering moment then let the gun fall to his side before putting it back in his pocket. He turned to each one of them individually. "We all understand what happens if you cause trouble?"

There was a series of mute nods.

Toby simply stared down at the stack of lines paper in front of him and sighed, not wanting to risk the consequences of being pedantic.

***

11:52 EST
AIR FORCE ONE, SITUATION ROOM

It had been over half an hour since Luis had left the room with Donna and the President had not seen his wife or Zoey since they had parted their ways hours earlier. He looked around the press who sat on the other side of the room, some typing furiously, their story ready to be sent to their editors, others sat in shock, their eyes motionless as they stared into space. Leo was talking to Mrs. Landingham in a hushed tone.

President Bartlet raised his voice. "Anyone here have a cigarette?"

A tall man stood up and walked over to him, digging into his jacket's inner pocket and producing a packet of cigarettes and a red lighter. The President took the items from the man with a grateful smile and placed a cigarette in his mouth, lighting it with a quick flick of his thumb against the lighter.

Bartlet inhaled the tabacco and then breathed it out. "I don't recognise you, you're not a member of the White House Press Corps."

The man held his hand out. "David Kennedy, BBC News 24. I was assigned to the Washington DC only last week, Mr. President."

Nodding, Bartlet's eyes twinkled as he took another puff from his borrowed cigarette. "You got right into the exciting stuff then, David."

David nodded with a wry smile, "I can't say I'm really enjoying this much, though, sir."

The President looked around the room, and an idea came to him, seemingly out of the blue. He glanced up at David. "Do you have a satellite phone with you, by any chance?"

Raising his eyebrows, David replied with a nod. "Yes, sir, but I'm afraid it's back in the press area." He paused and then called over to a woman who had thick blonde hair pulled up into a loose knot. "Grace."

The woman came over to the table and nodded to Bartlet, her accent was undeniably Scottish. "Mr. President."

David waved a hand towards her, "This is Grace McCoist, she's with ITN." He turned to Grace, "Have you got your phone on you?"

"Of course, I never leave home without two." Grace stuck her hands into her pockets and drew out two phones. "Mobile or satellite?"

"Prepared for anything," President Bartlet replied with a smile. "I wondered if I could borrow your satellite phone and put a call through to the Prime Minister."

David leant forwards and his voice hushed. "Won't that effect the radar, sir. It's not really advised-"

President Bartlet held a hand up to silence him; "We're being held captive on a plane full of terrorists. This may be our only way out. Do you really care what happens to the radar?"

Looking at the President, David calmly shook his head. Grace passed Bartlet the satellite phone, "Sir."

Bartlet took it from her and gave her a small nod. "I appreciate this. Now I just need someone to distract that hawk-eyed Carmen over there-" he scanned the room and called over to the woman standing next to Danny with flippy red hair, "Margaret!"

Paloma, the woman whom the President had talked about, was stationed at the door. She was keeping a close eye on Danny Concannon for some reason, her lips pursed and her foot tapping on the floor.

Margaret turned at her name and rushed to the President. "Yes, sir?"

Bartlet beckoned her closer and leant in towards Leo's assistant, his tone hushed. "I need you to get Danny and go distract that woman."

Margaret looked at him suspiciously, "Why, sir?"

"I want to phone Prime Minster Blair and Hoynes and tell them what's really going on up here," he replied, his eyes darting over to Paloma who was not paying any attention to the President's scheming.

"I think, uh- really, you shouldn't do that," Margaret replied firmly, shaking her head and sending her fine hair flying. "No, not really a great idea, sir. They could, y'know, kill us... Mallory, CJ, Toby, Donna... no, Mr. President."

Bartlet's eyes locked onto Margaret's as she failed to find any more words to discourage him. "Margaret I need you to do this. Unless I get in touch with this people, more lives could be at risk than just the people on board this plane."

She nodded, after a moment of contemplation. "Yes, Mr. President."

Margaret scuttled over to Danny and Leo came over to the President, suspecting that something was happening. He sat next to Bartlet and leant into him, staring at the phone which the President held firmly in one hand, out of view, under the table. "Sir?"

"I'm gonna take a risk and get in touch with Hoynes, tell him to start looking for this bomb," Bartlet paused to gauge Leo's reaction. His Chief of Staff nodded and so he continued after taking a breath. "Then I'm going to tell Tony Blair to get in touch with the Spanish government and see what they can get on this Basque faction."

There was a brief moment of silence as neither of them failed to find anything to say.

President Bartlet touched Leo on the forearm and his best friend looked up at him. "Am I doing the right thing?"

Leo looked back at the President and nodded heartily. "They hi-jacked Air Force One. They threatened the President of the United States. They shot at us, they took Abbey, Zoey, Mallory, Toby and CJ hostage and they're threatening to blow half of America up as well as destroying any credibility that we have amongst the Europeans as peacemakers-" Leo looked at him with an understanding gaze, "I think you're doing exactly the right thing, sir."

Nodding back, President Bartlet turned to Grace McCoist, noticing that Danny and Margaret were getting into a heated conversation with Paloma about violations of human rights, Danny's insistent and enraged voice turning the heads of the other journalists in the cabin.

"Show me how this thing works, will you?"

***

11:54 EST
AIR FORCE ONE, FLIGHT DECK

The pain in Sam Seaborn's shoulder had subdued slightly when a burly olive-skinned man roughly pushed him up the stairs and up into the flight deck. He had spent the last few hours in the medical room being tended to by the First Lady, and a few minutes ago he had been frog marched up here whilst Josh Lyman and Abigail Bartlet had been escorted to the Situation Room where the rest of the passengers were being held.

Sam could feel himself shaking still, his shoulder was bound with bandages, his dress shirt had dots of blood and large red stains on it and it was buttoned up loosely, not tucked into his trousers.

As he caught his first glimpse of CJ, tied to a chair, her mouth gagged and her limbs immobilised, he couldn't help but feel happier at the thought that Mallory would be there also. But that emotion accompanied dread as he thought of what they could have done to her in the space of time that they had been apart.

Donna was tied to the chair in front of CJ, her cheek cut and her eyes wide at the sight of Sam, his shirt covered in blood, his face pale and unemotional.

"Ah, Mr. Seaborn," Luis cooed as he spotted Sam at the end of the cabin.

Mallory's head appeared from behind CJ as she leaned away from her chair. "Sam! My God, are you okay?"

Sam was slightly unsteady on his feet as he made towards Mallory; his body still racked with a dull ache. "Mal!"

He was nearly at her side when Luis stepped in front of Sam and pushed him backwards, the palm of his hand firm against Sam's chest. He looked into Luis' cold eyes and then to Mallory's wide open ones. Sam sighed and let his shoulders fall in exasperation. He looked back at Luis coolly.

"I don't know what the hell you people think you're playing at," Sam said, his voice breaking slightly.

"I'm not playing, Mr. Seaborn," Luis smiled. "I'm fighting for what is rightfully mine. For what belongs to the Basque people."

"Oh," Sam replied, this being the first time that he had heard about the motives of the people who had shot at Josh. He couldn't muster the strength he needed to hit this man as he wanted. "You're with ETA?"

Luis guided Sam over to the table where Toby was sitting and forced the Deputy Communications Director down into a chair opposite, with a firm hand on his wounded shoulder. This elicited a slight cry of pain from Sam who knocked Luis' hand away quickly.

"I'm with 'Basque Liberty and Equality'," Luis explained as Sam made darting glances at Mallory whose eyes were focused on him. "We are a peaceful organisation, unlike ETA."

Sam's eyes were wide with disbelief. "You call this peaceful?"

"Yes," was the simple response.

"Would you like me to look up the definition for you, 'cause I'm pretty sure that-"

Toby cut in with a warning glare, "Sam."

Sam looked back at the other speechwriter and sighed, "Toby, what's going on here?"

Toby looked up at Luis and their captor nodded at him, indicating that he could proceed. Sam looked on in amazement, wondering what they had all been threatened with had subdued the enraged man he had seen being dragged away hours earlier.

"We're gonna write a speech."

Sam laughed, in spite of the conditions. "Excuse me?"

"A wonderful piece of oratory endorsing the Basque cause for the President to read at the EU Summit tomorrow," Luis explained, fiddling with a pen he took from his pocket.

Looking at Toby, Sam raised his eyebrows. "Do y'know what trouble this will cause? The Spanish government will wage war on us; we'll alienate the whole of Europe. This is outrageous. Do you know what many civilians and tourists died in terrorist bombings in Spain alone last year? Toby this can't happen."

Toby played with his beard, his tone soft and resigned. "It's happening Sam."

Sam looked at Toby and his face fell, knowing the impossibility of this situation. He turned to Luis, "We can't just write a speech like this. We need references, three checks against each source... and in the first place we actually need to know something about the subject we're endorsing."

Luis smiled with bemusement. "Don't worry about that, all the information that you need," he tapped his chest, "is right here. And as an incentive," Luis drew his gun from his pocket and pointed the barrel at Mallory, "need I say more?"

Mallory gasped loudly in terror and looked from the gun to Sam. He stared at the gun and Mallory's face in bewilderment. "Don't," Sam croaked, his throat dry and hoarse.

The two speechwriters exchanged glances as they contemplated the full implications that this would have, and the inevitable death of the three hostages. Sam had to do this, if only to spare the lives of the three women closest to him. He looked at Mallory and the pain flowed through him, just as sharp as it had been hours ago when he had first been shot.

He looked at Luis with a cold stare, "I'll write your piece of propaganda, but I won't put my name to it."

Luis smiled at Sam for some unknown reason. "You'll be my little ghost-writer then, Mr. Seaborn. What an honour."

There was the sound of engines outside the plane. Luis went over to one of the windows at the far starboard side of the cabin and looked out. "Ah, the cavalry has arrived, but I fear it is too little, too late."

Sam could see an American Air Force fighter jet flying a few hundred yards away from Air Force One. Toby leant across to his deputy and tapped him on the arm. Sam turned to Toby, "Yeah?"

Toby's voice was little more than a whisper, barely audible above the sounds of the fighter jets. "We're gonna write this speech with a legal mind, Sam."

He looked at Toby blankly, "What d'you mean?"

"We're gonna put so many double negatives in and play around with semantics so much that we won't be harming ourselves at all, when anyone analyses the transcripts they'll see that we aren't endorsing the Basques at all," Toby explained. "We're gonna get ourselves out of this mess."

Sam gave him a small smile as Luis came back over to the table. "Okay, but you'll have to write, 'cause by shoulder's aching slightly."

***

12:03 EST
THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON DC


"Larry!" Ginger called to the Communications Aide as he walked into their bullpen. She put down the chicken salad she was about to eat and waved him over to her desk.

He looked up from the manila folder he was leafing through and looked at her absentmindedly. "What's up, Ginger?"

Bonnie came up by Larry's side and gave him a set of statistics on Global Warming. "We can't get through to Toby and Sam."

"They're on the way to the EU Summit, aren't they?" Larry replied, placing his folder down on the filing cabinets and pouring himself a cup of coffee from the machine.

"Exactly," Ginger breathed, getting up from her desk and joining him and Bonnie next to the coffeepot. "There's no way to get in touch with them apart from the onboard phone line, and that's not working."

Larry looked from Ginger's wide eyes to Bonnie's expectant gaze and brushed off their concerns with a flippant wave of the hand as he took a sip of the lukewarm coffee. "I'll check with the people at meteorology and Air Control, it might just be electro-static interference."

"Aren't the systems on Air Force One supposed to be state-of-the-art?" Bonnie replied pointedly.

Larry could feel the heat rise to his face and his cheeks flush as he tried to hold his ground. "It's nothing, Bonnie. Don't worry about it."

"It doesn't look like nothing," Ginger pressed, edging towards Larry. "We haven't been told anything that's going on, and something is going on. Toby was working on Senator Kimberton on the public health bill and when I got through to the senator, I couldn't get the call on to Air Force One."

"Something's going on," Bonnie insisted.

Larry looked at the two women and was slightly swayed by their adamant expressions. "I'll look into it, but I'm sure it's nothing. Don't worry!"

Cathy came from Sam's office and rushed over to the group of Communications staffers. "There's something going on in the Situation Room," she breathed in a low voice.

Bonnie and Ginger gave Larry a 'told-you-so' look and he nodded. "I'll go ask Ed."

At that moment Henry Hanson, the Deputy Press Secretary, walked into the bullpen and came over to the four aides. "I expect you've heard about the situation on Sir Force One?"

Bonnie nodded, "We had our suspicions."

"I suppose you should know this. Okay," Henry sighed, "don't do anything, Bill Holland wants a full lid on this and he's going to arrange statements," he added, picking up a mug from next to the coffee machine. "Hoynes is down in the Situation Room with Fitzwallace and the Joint Chief-of-Staffs. We're not aware of the specifics, so don't let anything get out."

Larry frowned. "Is there a hostage situation?"

Henry shook his head and poured himself some coffee. "From what I heard from the aides that were in there, they haven't been in touch with Air Force One. But then again, I'm not good friends with this guy and-"

Bonnie held up a hand to silence the Deputy Press Secretary. "Has anyone been injured? The President's alive, isn't he?"

"He should have been in the emergency escape pod," Ginger added, fiddling with her bracelet.

"I really don't know what's going on," Henry reiterated, taking cautious sips of his strong coffee. "But I can tell you that I'm not too crazy about Hoynes controlling the news cycle."

"Can he do that?" Larry asked in amazement. "I thought they'd have to clear these things through Toby, or Sam even."

Henry shook his head. "Holland told me where to get off. Seems even the White House can't keep control when Hoynes puts his mind to it."

"Surely, it's your call when things like this happen," Larry replied, becoming slightly infuriated at what he was hearing.

"Yeah," Henry said, taking a gulp of his coffee. "But the entire Senior Staff and the President have never been hi-jacked on Air Force before. This isn't a situation we have contingency plans for."

***

12:49 EST
AIR FORCE ONE, FLIGHT DECK

Luis looked at the console in front of him and stared at an irregularity in the radar recordings. His face melted into an expression of rage and he could feel his cheeks stain themselves red with anger.

Roughly, he untied CJ from her chair and grabbed her by the wrists, forcing her up onto her feet. There were muffled protests from her gagged mouth that he ignored as he pushed the barrel of his gun below her chin, forcing her head upwards.

Sam, Toby, Donna and Mallory stared at them and there were angry cries as they tried to stop Luis from dragging CJ down the stairs. Toby got up from his seat that was surrounded by crumpled pieces of paper and ran over to Luis, only to be kicked back by Luis who then struck him on the head with the butt of his gun. "Get back to work," Luis sneered.

Toby picked himself off the floor, clutching his head.

Luis continued to push CJ down the stairs and he didn't let go of her even when he had arrived at the Situation Room. He burst through the doors, and everyone in the room turned and stared at Luis and CJ, who was whimpering in an uncharacteristic way.

"Someone here made a phone call," Luis barked, pressing the gun into CJ's neck whilst keeping a stranglehold on her waist with his other arm. "Who was it?"

There was complete silence, apart from the sound of Luis' heavy breathing. He pressed the gun further into CJ's neck until she made a choking noise. "WHO WAS IT?"

Margaret screamed, then clamped a hand over her mouth to silence herself. Josh looked on nervously, his eyes darting around the room, waiting for someone to own up.

The President stood up from where he sat next to his wife and stared at Luis. "I made the call."

"I warned you-"

"I do not negotiate with terrorists." Bartlet looked at Abbey, whose eyes were pleading him to sit down and shut up.

Luis started to press the trigger. "You took the decision, Mr. President, so you must decide," Luis took a box from his pocket and waved it in the air, "the bomb that will kill millions of Americans, or my gun which will fire a bullet through the head of every person on this plane starting with the lovely Ms. Cregg here, then continuing with your wife and daughter."

The President looked at Abbey and for the first time did not really know what to do. "I can't believe you call yourself a human being," Bartlet managed, his voice cold and firm.

"Right now, all I want to hear from your mouth is a decision," Luis spat back, "or I shall be happy to detonate the bomb and kill everyone you see before you. Make a choice, Mr. President, this plane touches down in a couple of hours. What will it be?"

President Bartlet swallowed, a lump forming in his throat as he looked around the room; searching for the guidance he needed, or even a miracle.

***

TBC

***

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

QU1. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SITUATION ROOM?
a) POTUS makes the choice. Which option does he choose?
b) Luis shoots CJ because POTUS takes too long to decide.
c) Josh wrestles the detonator and gun away from Luis.
d) Other. Please state.

QU2. DOES LUIS...
a) Keep control of Air Force One until they land.
b) Lose control of the plane, state how.
c) Keep control of the situation right until they get to the EU summit.
d) Other. Please State.

VOTE NOW!
Via ff.net or to airforceonevote@yahoo.co.uk

***

-THE EXIT POLL-
'SHOULD WE TELL THE VICE PRESIDENT'

QUESTION ONE:
BARTLET AGREES TO THE TERMS ONLY IF...
a) he is allowed to speak to the Vice President. <13 VOTES>
b) he has some sort of guarantee that the plane will land safely. <10 VOTES>
c) he can confer with the other European leaders first. <10 VOTES>
d) some other reason (please state). <4 VOTES, eg Luis has to let Abbey and Zoey off the plane>

QUESTION TWO:
DOES LUIS HARM DONNA?
a) Yes, he kills her. <0 VOTES>
b) Yes, he stabs her so she needs Abbey to treat her. <13 VOTES>
c) No, but he tells the President that he will kill Mallory, CJ and Donna if he tries to pull any tricks. <15 VOTES>
d) Other. Please state. <9 VOTES, Donna taken hostage, Josh wrangling the knife from Luis, Donna kicking Luis' ass, Danny getting stabbed instead>

Thanks for voting and vote for this part via ff.net or in an e-mail to airforceonevote@yahoo.co.uk

***

 

 

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