24™ Declassified: Death Angel
Based on the hit FOX series created by Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran
After the 1993 World Trade Center attack, a division of the Central Intelligence Agency established a domestic unit tasked with protecting America from the threat of terrorism. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Counter Terrorist Unit established field offices in several American cities. From its inception, CTU faced hostility and skepticism from other Federal law enforcement agencies. Despite bureaucratic resistance, within a few years CTU had become a major force in the war against terror. After the events of 9/11, a number of early CTU missions were declassified. The following is one of them.
1. THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 11 A.M. AND 12 P.M. MOUNTAIN DAYLIGHT TIME
Jack Bauer was getting ready to leave for his meeting with Peter Rhee when somebody knocked on the door of his motel room, room number eight.
The sound was almost drowned out by the shuddering wheeze of the air conditioner. The unit produced more noise than cool comfort. It wasn’t much of an air conditioner, but then the Trail’s End wasn’t much of a motel, either. It was a grade-C lodging whose clientele consisted mainly of business travelers and tourists on a tight budget.
The room was a tight, boxy, low-ceilinged space. There was a single bed and a long cabinet with two sets of drawers. A round-topped table and an armless straight-backed chair were crowded into a rear corner. The furniture was made of synthetic composite material covered with dark brown simulated wood-grain plastic surfacing. A cable TV was bolted to the cabinet top, and the remote was secured to the night table. The bathroom was the size of a walk-in closet.
Anonymous, impersonal, the site fitted its occupant’s purposes. There were no front desk managers, night clerks, or doormen to monitor his comings and goings. The motel was conveniently located midway between Los Alamos city proper and the massive lab complex on the South Mesa.
Jack’s seeming isolation and vulnerability here were designed to entice the opposition out of hiding into making a try for him. He’d made himself a target — human bait in a trap that could work two ways.
Jack Bauer was in his mid-thirties, trim, athletic, clean-shaven, with short sandy hair and sharp blue eyes. He wore a lightweight brown denim vest, gray T-shirt, khaki pants, and ankle-high hiking boots. He looked like a nice, decent fellow, a caring and compassionate human being. Which he was — except when he was on a mission.
He was on a mission now.
He’d been detached from his post as Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit, SAC CTU/L.A., for temporary duty as a field operative in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Los Alamos, the self-styled Atomic City where the A-bomb was born and extensive research and development of cutting-edge nuclear and other weaponry continued to be its stock-in-trade.
Ironwood National Laboratory, a key component of the Los Alamos complex, had over the last six months been struck by a murder wave. Five important staffers had died under violent and mysterious circumstances. The victims included scientists and security personnel. The first deaths had been made to look like accidents or natural causes.
In the last few weeks the pace had picked up, with no pretense of the last two deaths being anything than what they were: out-and-out kills. The assassin — or assassins — grew bolder with each fatality.
The FBI has jurisdiction in all domestic espionage cases. There is one exception: the CIA is empowered to investigate cases of spying at all nuclear research facilities.
Created in the aftermath of the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, CTU was established as a division of the CIA to combat terrorist activities at home in the United States and abroad.
Whatever else they were, the Ironwood kills went far beyond the parameters of conventional espionage. The murder of persons associated with a facility responsible for the research and development of America’s high-technology weaponry was reason enough for CTU involvement in the case.
But it took something more than that to have Jack Bauer detached from his post as head of the unit’s Los Angeles branch.
The inciting element was a name from the past that had suddenly surfaced in the Ironwood affair:
In feudal Japan, the shogunate’s dismissal from its service of the military samurai caste had loosed a flood of suddenly indigent warriors and swordsmen on the land.
These masterless men, known as ronin, no longer bound by their oath of loyalty to the emperor, made their living the only way they knew how, by selling their blades and skills to those who could pay, be they warlords, ambitious provincial tyrants, feuding clans, or the gambling syndicates of tattooed men known as yakuza.
The result was a generation-long epoch of anarchy, lawlessness, and ultraviolence that afflicted nobles and commoners alike.
Similarly, the end of the Cold War superpower rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had set the stage for today’s era of global intrigue. Thousands of intelligence professionals on both sides of the gap found themselves without a job. Their numbers included career professionals and contract agents of the now-downsized spy services. Among them were spymasters, analysts, technicians, specialists in the black arts of sabotage and murder, paramilitary types, and mercenary soldiers.
Like the ronin of Old Nippon, legions of clandestine operators now sold their skills around the world to the highest bidders. The less scrupulous among them found new employers in the form of moneyed terrorist organizations, ruthless industrial cartels, drug lords, and organized crime syndicates.
In this lethal new environment, a handful of names stood out in the subterranean milieu of the world-class elite of professional killers for hire.
At the top of the list: Annihilax.
Who or what was Annihilax? Was it a lone individual or a league of assassins?
The answer was unknown even among those who contracted for the services of this murder machine. What was known was that Annihilax was stateless, rootless, owing allegiance to no country, creed, or ideology except that of the highest bidder. And even that loyalty was good only until the assignment had been successfully carried out. Once completed, the former employer was vulnerable to targeting by any rival who cared to meet Annihilax’s price.
The exterminating agent took on only the most expensive and challenging contracts. An intricate network of ever-shifting contacts and go-betweens handled the initial groundwork between Annihilax and the would-be client. When the contract was finalized, exorbitant fees were deposited in escrow in secret numbered Swiss and offshore bank accounts.
Annihilax’s iron-clad guarantee promised a full refund to the client — minus retainer and expenses incurred in the course of the preliminaries — in the event of failure to fulfill the contract and make the hit. The inside line among those who knew, namely rival members of the killer elite, was that no such refund had ever been made.
Targets included heads of state, big business magnates, crime bosses, spy chiefs, generals, mercenary leaders, political dissidents, cooperative witnesses in high-profile investigations, those who knew too much, and those who stood between rich and powerful clients and something they wanted.
Five years ago, fate had conspired that the paths of Jack Bauer and Annihilax should cross.
The prime mover was NATO’s opening the bidding on the contract to develop a new light armored vehicle resistant to improvised explosive devices, IEDs, such as car and truck bombs so well beloved by terrorists the world over. The contract to equip all NATO fighting forces with this new LAV meant billions of euros in profits to the successful bidder.