Title: 'Bad On So Many Levels'
Summary: General overview on Part I. The staff and press aboard Air Force One have to cope with a terrorist hi-jack and the death of nearly the whole Secret Service detail, leaving them without any means of communication with their lives, and the President's, at risk.
Disclaimer: I'm not taking credit for 'Air Force One' or Mr. Sorkin's genius so please
don't sue me, or I'll get Sam to bust you like a pinata. Thanks also goes to
JedBartlet.com which proved to be an invaluable source of information.
Political Disclaimer: I'm British, ask me about Parliament and I'm your girl. But when it comes to Congress and US politics, everything I learnt about it I learnt from The West Wing, TIME and The 1995 World Almanac. So go easy on me :o) Everything I learnt about Basque Separatists comes from Encarta 2001, The Sunday Times and Time Magazine. No offence is intended to those who are for the Basque cause. Also, I'm using my imagination with the layout of Air Force One, as we haven't seen it that often in the show. Also, I know that this would never happen!
IMPORTANT VOTING CHANGE: Due to the volume of response I have created a separate e-mail address for votes for 'Air Force One' at <email@example.com>. (All feedback for my other stories still goes to the usual address).
HOW TO VOTE: Details on Part I, basically put your vote in a review or e-mail (subject heading 'AFO 2' so I know what part you are voting for) it to me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> ASAP. Part III is out in a week, so you have 3 days-ish to vote.
VOTES FOR 'FORGET PARIS': Thanks for the massive response- I've been totally bowled over by this, as you can tell! Please continue to vote for this story, as it makes the writing/reading process less predictable. Polling numbers (and they are by no means soft!) are available at the end of this chapter, as are the cliff-hanger questions for Chapter II.
"BAD ON SO MANY LEVELS"
Gina Toscano glimpsed the President ducking under the partitioning curtain at the entrance of the senior staff area as she exited the restroom, her ears finally clearing from the change of pressure in the cabin. Grinning slightly, she saw Mallory O'Brian slap Sam Seaborn playfully on the arm, he in response grabbing her hand and giving her a wide smile as they hung in the entrance way.
She started to head after the group, but stopped as she heard what she hoped was not the sound of muffled shots being fired from a handgun. Gina's hand moved slowly to the gun in the holster underneath her denim jacket and gripped onto weapon, her hand closing over the cool metal as she whipped it out in front of her, poised for the worst possible scenario.
Edging forwards she heard choking noises and loud thuds coming from where she knew Ron Butterfield's detail were staying during the seven hour flight to Paris. Suddenly, two figures in dark suits, each wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying rifles, left the area only twenty feet in front of Gina. With a short gasp she pressed herself flat against the wall and held her breath as she heard their footsteps fade into the distance.
Panting, Gina did her best to overcome the immense fear that was assaulting her confidence and moved quickly to the Secret Service centre, her gun held out, eyes and ears alert. Backing into the room she turned to see the majority of the detail laid motionless in their seats, their eyes glassy, blood and brain matter splashed across the cabin walls. Gina's eyes were wide as she surveyed the massacred Secret Service agents, immediately assessing the situation as extremely, extremely bad.
There was a groan from the floor, where Ron Butterfield lay, his bloody hand clapped over his chest which was heaving from the exertion of trying to breath. Cursing under her breath, Gina bent down and stared into the older man's glazed eyes.
"Agent Butterfield," Gina coaxed, grabbing his hand and trying to determine how serious his injuries were. "What happened?"
Butterfield's forehead was glistening with sweat as he burned with the fever of shock. "Get the...President," he managed before his eyes rolled back and closed, his breathing becoming strained then-
Gina's heart sank as Butterfield's fingers went limp in her hand. It was then that she noticed for the first time that the armoury had been broken into to and most of the weapons stored there for an emergency had been taken. Gina scrambled up from the floor and went over to the lock-up, grabbing three more handguns and stuffing extra ammunition into her pockets after loading the firearms.
She rushed to the red phone attached to the wall which was the Secret Service's direct link to the Situation Room in Washington DC. Her breathing caught as the intensity of the situation finally caught up with her. Breathing a sigh of relief, she was connected.
"This is Agent Gina Toscano, I'm on Air Force One. There's been an incident, all the Secret Service detail have been ki-"
She stopped talking as the line went dead. Hearing a noise behind her, Gina froze. Her fingers tensed around the trigger of her gun.
She turned around and saw Agent David Gawinski staring wide-eyed at the bodies of his colleagues. Gina sighed and tossed him a rifle and a few clips.
"Not sure what happened but we have to get the President off this plane," Gina told him in a hushed tone as she made for the exit.
"I was only gone a minute," Gawinski replied, taking the rifle and loading it.
Gina peered out of the door. "That's how long they took. Oh, Christ!"
"What?" Gawinski followed Gina out of the area, each of them covering themselves, guns stretched out.
They both jumped as a small beep, clearly audible in the stillness of the aeroplane's corridor, from their pagers signalled that someone had pushed a panic button.
"Look." Gina waved her gun to the senior staff area where the two dark figures were pushing Sam and Mallory with the barrels of their guns into a group of staffers who were all grouped around one seat, presumably the one where the President was sitting. As a way of confirmation, Gina saw a tuft of sandy hair through the web of bodies that had been placed between the gunmen and President Bartlet. Gina glanced at Gawinski and gave him the signal to advance.
"I could take one out," the dark-haired man breathed, aiming his gun at the bullet-proof vested man.
"Get the President out of there first." Gina reprimanded him, as they kept to the wall, now only a few feet away from the entrance.
In the staff area Gina could see Josh Lyman step out of the group and move to the side, his hands on his hips, face set in disbelief, a little laugh in his voice. "Where the hell is the Secret Service?"
The man standing in the entrance turned the barrel of the gun he was holding on Josh, and slowly squeezed the trigger.
"Josh, no!" Donna Moss screamed, her hands clapped over her mouth
Gina watched, her mouth open, as Toby Ziegler and Charlie Young pulled the President and Zoey Bartlet to the ground. Leo McGarry grabbed his daughter from where she was standing, her face pale and unresponsive, next to Sam. Donna threw herself to the floor only to find CJ Cregg toppling over with her, the two of them landing with a thud on the floor. There was the piercing sound of the bullet being fired from the weapon and cries of pain as the ammunition penetrated flesh.
Without hesitation the two remaining Secret Service agents burst into the staff area, Gina heading for the President and Gawinski taking the shooter out with a single shot to the skull.
"MOVE!" Gawinski called to the President as Gina and Charlie ushered Zoey and her father out of the other entrance, taking the moment of confusion as an advantage to get the President clear of any immediate danger.
Blood pounded in Gina's ears as she rushed down the corridor to the cargo bay where the emergency escape pod would be waiting, ready to transport the President off Air Force One.
"Zoey?" The President asked, turning to his daughter.
"I'm fine, Dad." Zoey responded, her face greenish with nausea.
"Are you OK, sir?" Gawinski demanded, looking over the President as they clattered down the metal steps.
"Did they get anyone?" President Bartlet replied, seemingly dismissing any concerns for his safety.
"The whole Secret Service detail," Gina confirmed bitterly, as she bolted the door behind them.
The President stopped and put his hands on his knees, breathing raggedly. "Where's Abbey?"
Josh opened his eyes, but then clamped them shut quickly as the morning sunlight that shone through the cabin windows hit him squarely in the eyes. He was struggling to breathe. Opening his them slightly, Josh let his eyes wander to his chest, where he presumed he would find blood, soaking through his shirt from where the bullet had penetrated his skin.
With a start, Josh saw the blood and then he saw a body sprawled across his chest. Sitting up slightly Josh could see a head of thick dark hair and the familiar line of Sam's jaw. There was a rip in Sam's dark suit jacket from where his blood was spilling, deep crimson, onto Josh's light blue dress shirt.
Sam rolled off Josh, clutching his shoulder in agony as he laid back onto the ground. Casting a concerned glance over at his friend, Sam pointed to Josh's arm.
"You're bleeding, Josh."
Josh looked down at his sleeve where the fabric was soaked with his own blood. "I got shot."
Sam's lips turned upwards. "First time for everything, I guess."
Nodding, Josh sat up and was immediately greeted by Donna's face. "Josh?"
"Don't worry, Donna. I'm fine-"
Donna rolled her eyes. "You're on my leg, Josh."
Josh's eyes widened. "Why, thank you for the concern, Donna."
She looked at him with one of her looks. One of the looks which meant nothing, but everything at the same time. Josh took a breath, a small smile playing on his lips. "You were worried about me."
"Well, if you die, I'm out of a job," Donna replied, trying to lighten the mood.
Josh gulped and breathed a deep breath. "How sensitive of you."
As he clamped a hand over his wound, Josh looked over to Sam. He was lying, his back on the floor, beads of perspiration covering his whitened face. Toby, Leo, CJ and Mallory were all kneeling on the ground next to him. Mallory was pressing her father's handkerchief to Sam's shoulder and whispering assurances into his ear. Toby was at breaking point, the anger that he was concealing coming out as irritated sounds and movements. CJ and Leo were looking from Sam to the dead gunman laying on the ground, his accomplices had vanished when the President had been taken from the area, leaving the woman who had earlier been pressing a gun into the small of Mallory's back and another younger man. That woman was at this moment pacing towards the members of the Senior Staff who were surrounding Sam, the rifle she held was trained on them as she kept control of the situation with a hawk-like stare.
"Get up," she ordered, her voice had a European lilt though her pronunciation of what must not have been her mother tongue was impeccable and cut through the voices of the staff.
Toby stood and gave her a hard, unyielding glare. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" His voice was still quiet, but Josh could tell that this level of control would not last for long.
Leo gave Toby a warning glance as Sam looked on anticipating what Toby was going to say. Donna froze halfway to a standing position as Josh watched Toby take a step forward.
The woman raised an eyebrow and returned Toby's stare with equal intensity. "You are in no position to ask that of me."
"I'm not, am I?" Toby replied, stroking his beard. "You come in here, threaten us with *rifles*," his voice boomed on the word making the hairs on Josh's neck stand on end, "you SHOOT at us and EXPECT us not to ask what you're doing? ARE YOU SOMEHOW MENTALLY DERANGED?"
CJ put a hand on Toby's arm, but it was immediately shrugged off. "Toby, this is not-"
Toby turned to CJ wildly and waved his arms in the air. "I shouldn't say this because we might shot at again? They can shoot us anytime they want. Whatever I say won't make A DAMN DIFFERENCE! Come on, shot me. Shoot all of us, that's what you people do, isn't it?"
Her facial expression never flinched for a second as the woman listened to Toby. She spoke to the man by her side for a moment then turned back to them. She cast a glance at Mallory who was supporting Sam in a sitting position. "Get up," she repeated, waving the gun at them. "Now."
The staff rose one by one, Leo and Mallory helping Sam up onto his feet. "I'm fine," Sam said quietly, clutching a handkerchief to his shoulder.
Josh looked at Donna who was clutching her bag to her chest, her mouth hanging open as she took short and shallow breaths. Moving in the direction of the rest of the senior staff, Josh heard Toby's voice ring through the air once again.
"Get your hands off me!"
Josh turned to see the man by the woman's side dragging Toby in the other direction, his hands tied behind his back. Leo and CJ made to follow Toby, but they were stopped as they felt the barrels of guns pressing persistently into their necks.
They could do nothing as Toby was pushed down the corridor, leaving them with no choice but to do what the woman said or face a fate that none of them really wanted to think about.
Abbey Bartlet took a mouthful of the recirculated air, coughing as the taste of tabacco filled her throat. Looking up at the man standing in front of her she gave him a disapproving glare, her eyes full of tears she wouldn't give them the satisfaction of spilling. "Could you put that out?"
The man took another sharp inhalation from the cigarette he held between his thumb, index and middle fingers then tapped the ash from the end onto the console next to him. Abbey once again was forced to look at the bodies of the engineering and piloting crew slumped over their work stations. She had no idea if the pilots in the cock-pit were still alive, though she grimly thought that this was probably not the case.
"Mrs Bartlet," he breathed with a carefully studied English accent, his European origins given away by him prolonging the 's' in her name.
He was tall, about six foot four, slim built with olive coloured skin and cropped black hair which was slicked back with gel. He was in his mid forties, with piercing grey eyes and a shadow of stubble on his tanned skin. His clothes were stylish and well cut, the fabric visibly of a high quality.
"Dr. Bartlet," the First Lady corrected. As feeble as her retaliation was, it was all she could do when her hands were tied behind her back and she was immobilised in an uncomfortable chair.
The man shrugged his shoulders. "Dr. Bartlet, my name is Luis, I'm the head of our operation and I'd appreciate it ever so if you would co-operate fully and unconditionally with us."
Abbey nodded with a small bitter smile, "Or I end up like my Chief of Staff?"
"You could say that, yes."
She glanced over to Lily Mayes' body, laying in an unnatural position on the stairs down to the main cabin of the plane, blood spilling from her mouth onto her cream designer suit jacket. "What do you want?"
"The President's time," Luis replied, leaning back against a console, carefully avoiding a pool of blood that was collecting on the surface. "There is an issue very close to my heart that I-"
Abbey's wrists were raw from her earlier struggles and when she moved, pain shot up her arms. "Arrange a meeting, God-dammit, why the hell murder everyone on board?"
Luis took another drag on his cigarette and exhaled the smoke into Abbey's face. "I would love to think that it would work that way, Dr. Bartlet, but sadly these matters are not that simple."
Her eyes narrowed. "Where's my husband?"
"We're looking for him," Luis replied. "And your daughter. They can't go very far, fortunately."
"Who else is dead?" Abbey demanded. Luis didn't answer her, he only drew a silver cigarette case from his tailored suit's pocket, discarded the cigarette in his hand, took another from the case and lit it with an expensive lighter etched with an insignia.
Luis looked amused at the First Lady's outburst. He sighed, "The Secret Service, I believe."
"Oh God," Abbey moaned, her eyes falling to the floor. Her worst suspicions had been confirmed. She looked up as footsteps fell heavy on the steps, the approaching figure pausing to push Lily's body to the side with their foot. Abbey's eyes widened as she saw who the person was dragging up the stairs. "Toby!"
Toby stumbled up the last step and gave the person pushing him a disdainful look. He looked up at Abbey and then saw the corpses that laid, hap-hazardly, across the various stations. "Please tell me you didn't murder the pilot."
Luis blew a stream of smoke directly into Toby's face. "Why would I do that?"
"Why would you hi-jack Air Force One," Toby responded calmly, ignoring the nicotine that was filling his nostrils. "Why would you shoot Josh Lyman and Sam Seaborn? Why would you *murder* over ten people?"
Abbey watched as the tension snapped in Toby, trying to stop him mid-stream would be like slowing a runaway train.
Eyeing Toby as he was tied to a chair next to the First Lady, Luis put his cigarette out on the heel of his expensive Italian dress shoes with one swift movement. "Mr. Ziegler, we need you not to be so rash-"
"Rash?" Toby repeated, his voice soft again. "I'm being 'rash'?"
Pulling a handgun from the holster around his waist, Luis leant forward so his face was only a few inches from the Communications Director's. "I don't need you, Mr. Ziegler. I need the President. You are some what... dispensable."
"Well that's always good to know." Toby replied, his tone level and paced. "What do you want from the President?"
Straightening his back, Luis replaced his gun and leant back against the wall. "We want to talk. We want to establish the Basque Country as a nation separate of that of France and Spain. In order to do this we want the backing of the President of the United States. He shall do what is in his power to liberate the Basque people and create partition and in return..."
"And in return what?" Toby asked impatiently, a slight smile playing beneath his beard. "You spare our lives?"
Luis smirked at him, lighting up yet another cigarette.
"Oh this is too good," Toby exclaimed. "How do you expect all this to happen, exactly?"
Abbey was infuriated by the man's proposition. Her eyes widened and her cheeks became flushed. "My husband does not negotiate with terrorists."
"But we are not terrorists, Dr. Bartlet," Luis replied his cigarette halfway to his lips. "We are freedom fighters."
Toby leant back in his seat. "Well you say potato..."
"Do you honestly expect the United States, a democracy, to publicly back a group which killed American citizens and countless other human beings?" Abbey questioned, her tone incredulous and rushed.
"Yes," Luis responded after a moment of hesitation. "We have the First Lady, the First Daughter, the White House Press Corps, the West Wing senior staff and the President of the *United States of America* hostage. I have the lives of the people he loves and the people he works with in my hands." Luis paused and gave them a small smile. "And, in a warehouse in Los Angeles there is a nuclear bomb that I have the detonator to. Yes, Dr. Bartlet, I do expect the President to agree to our...terms."
Toby rolled his eyes. "Oh it gets better! Who the hell gave this guy a nuclear bomb to play with?"
Abbey's heart leapt into her throat at this revelation. She wanted to believe that Josh and Sam would jump in here, unscathed, and make fun of her for falling for this joke. But this was real. This was the worst case scenario that Jed and she had talked about late at night. But they had always concluded those conversations with the reassurance that this only ever happened in movies. This was real, it was happening. The blood was real. The smell of death mingled with the cigarette smoke and Luis' heavy cologne was real.
Luis smiled at the First Lady. "Does your husband still not want to negotiate with us, Dr. Bartlet?"
Danny Concanon whirled around as the door to Air Force One's situation room burst open, Josh, Donna, Sam, Leo and Mallory stumbling in as they were pushed inside at gunpoint. CJ was putting up a fight, yelling about something to do with Toby and refusing to co-operate with terrorists.
The woman who seemed to be in charge breathed a heavy threat which momentarily silenced CJ before she followed the others into the room grudgingly.
CJ looked at Danny and the assembled press as Carol rushed up to her and started to ask her questions. Then the reporters started to flood around Sam and Josh who were both bleeding, asking for statements. They were quickly pushed away by Leo, Donna and Mallory who pleaded with the news-hungry journalists to give them some space. CJ joined them and then turned to the others in the room.
"Please, people, don't panic. Sit down, talk amongst yourselves....I dunno." CJ sighed, "But rest assured that you've probably got the biggest scoop of the year."
Danny took a few steps over to CJ and laid his hand on her arm. "What happened CJ?"
CJ brushed her fringe out of her eyes and gave Danny a look which conveyed her unwillingness to show any sort of fear. "They shot at Josh, he and Sam got hit." She let down her defence momentarily. "Danny..."
He looked at her pleading eyes and fought the impulse to take her in his arms. "Where's Toby and the First Lady."
Quietly, CJ replied after a moment of silence. "We don't know."
The President, Charlie, Gina, Gawinski and Zoey were on the their way to the emergency escape craft when they heard the sound of the door to the cargo bay being forced open and footsteps fall on the metal stairway.
"Quickly, sir," Gina urged as the footsteps approached quickly. They dodged around the crates of soda cans and equipment as they headed to the other end of the cabin.
Suddenly, the President stopped in mid-step and cast a glance at the end of the cargo bay.
"We have to move, sir." Gawinski pulled the President along by the arm.
The President shook his head and took a breath. "I can't."
Sam winced as pain shot across his shoulder without any warning as his suit jacket fell off his shoulders. Mallory drew her chair a little closer to where Sam was sitting at the conference table, and glanced at him as he squeezed his eyes shut.
"Sorry," Mallory apologised, as she continued to work on unbuttoning his blood soaked shirt. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I'll be gentler."
"No, it's not you," Sam said, shaking his head. He gritted his teeth as she pulled the shirt away from his body.
Mrs. Landingham stopped by Sam's side and held out a Tupperware box. "Would you like a cookie, dear?"
Sam shook his head. "Uh, no. Thanks all the same, Mrs. Landingham. Give mine to Josh, he needs one."
The older woman gave him a little smile and patted him on the arm before she left. "Very well, dear."
A smile played across Mallory's lips as she worked Sam's left arm out of its sleeve.
"What?" He asked as he saw her smile.
"I'm getting you out of your clothes a lot sooner than I'd imagined," Mallory replied, glad to have something to talk about other than the situation at hand.
"Oh really," Sam smiled through the hellish agony that the bullet wound was causing him. "When were you imagining that this was going to happen?"
Mallory rolled up the left sleeve of his undershirt and pressed the handkerchief she had borrowed from her father onto the wound. She lowered her voice and brought her lips to his ear. "Tonight, when I'd found your hotel room."
"I'd like to hear more about this," Sam replied with an intrigued smile.
"Maybe when we get some time alone, Skipper," Mallory promised, kissing him on the neck. "Let's just say that's its just you, me and your hotel room in Paris."
Sam grinned weakly. "Where are we going to put Toby?"
"I forgot about him," Mallory admitted, thinking briefly about the fact that the two speechwriters always shared rooms. Sitting back and looking around the room for a first aid kit, Mallory sighed. "Looks like this is going to be a long day."
Sam sighed as he saw that the blood, at least, was not flowing as freely as it had done before. "Yeah."
"Do you want a raincheck on that thing I was talking about, Skipper?" Mallory said, a slight catch in her voice as she turned the material over and saw Sam's tanned, ripped flesh.
"'Kay," Sam replied, stroking her cheek. He leaned in towards Mallory and placed a small kiss on her forehead as she started to sob silently.
"Oh, Sam..." Mallory choked, wrapping her arms around his waist carefully so not to move his left arm. She leant forwards and placed her cheek to his chest. "What's going to happen?"
His voice was a barely audible murmur. "I don't know, Mallory. I really don't know."
After a moment, Mallory moved away from Sam and looked up into his pained, blue eyes. "The bullet's still in your shoulder, Sam."
Sam was beginning to feel a lot lighter headed than he had been previously, the cold sweat that had earlier subsided was beginning to consume him once again. "Mallory-"
She pressed her hand to his forehead. "It's getting worse, isn't it?" Sam nodded and Mallory called over to her father. "Dad, Sam needs a doctor right now."
Leo moved over from where he was talking to Donna and Josh and joined them. He inspected Sam's wound.
"How's Josh?" Sam asked, grimacing as Leo replaced the handkerchief.
Leo tried to avoid Sam's eye. "Just a graze. The bullet went past him and hit you." They made eye-contact for a moment. "Sam, hang in there. I'm going to get you to the First Lady, she'll sort everything out."
Sam fell back into the chair giving Leo a quiet 'thank you'. He closed his eyes and
tried not to let go of consciousness. Mallory rubbed his forearm.
"Sam, you have to stay awake," she urged. "Keep your eyes open, Sam. Look at me." His eyes started to roll shut. "Come on, Sam. I'm not that repulsive."
He opened his eyes, though it took an immense amount of strength to do so. "I could look at you for hours, Mal."
Mallory smiled through her tears. "That's very sweet, Skipper."
Sam raised his eyebrows, his voice barely a whisper. "I try my best."
Leo approached the woman who was surveying the situation room with purposeful steps, not wanting to show any signs of apprehension.
"Excuse me," Leo said firmly, addressing the woman. "That man over there is hurt badly. He needs medical attention immediately."
The woman stared at Leo. "There's a first aid kit on the wall over there."
Leo gazed back at her with wide eyes. "He has a *bullet* in his shoulder, he doesn't need a band-aid, he needs a doctor. Get the First Lady down here now, or he'll..."
He couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence. Death was an unlikely possibility, but still, it was a possibility and a chance none of them wanted to take. Leo looked the woman in the eye and saw that she wasn't completely without compassion. She started to talk to a dark haired man at her side, who spoke in a foreign language into a two-way radio unit he was holding. After a moment she turned back to the Chief of Staff.
The woman looked over at Sam, who was being coaxed to stay awake by Mallory. "Fine. One condition, though."
"What?" Leo asked, unsure of what else could possibly go wrong.
The woman surveyed the room again, her eyes settling on one person a few yards away from her. "I'm taking her as a replacement hostage."
Leo followed the woman's gaze and opened his mouth to protest.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
All votes via reviews on www.fanfiction.net (on chapter 2's page) or to email@example.com