Author's Note: This story takes place between the CATU novels Ghosts and Russian Winter.
The train has only been away from the station for forty minutes when the terrorists strike. Melissa Dupree sits three cars away from where the terrorists begin their attack, but being a CATU agent, she sees the signs well in advance.
Alone, she can't do much for the people on the train.
She gets up from her seat and proceeds to the next car. Dupree looks over her shoulder as she enters the car to see two of the terrorists entering the car behind the one she is now leaving.
Better make this quick.
Picking up the pace, she pulls out her phone as she enters the dining car. She ducks behind a table as she dials a direct line to CATU headquarters. Stares from the car's occupants glare at her, but she ignores them. The line clicks over after the second ring. "Agent Melissa Dupree," she says identifying herself. "Patch me through to Director Cornelius," she says with a commanding voice.
Shouts followed by screams and cries resound from the previous car. She knows the terrorists are closing in and she doesn't have much time.
"Go," Roger says from the other side of the line.
"Amtrak train from Adelanto, Cali to Albuquerque is hostile," she pauses long enough to look at her watch. "Forty-four minutes deep."
The door to the dining car opens and the two terrorists she saw before are now entering, shouting commands to get down on the floor. Dupree doesn't respond to the commands and instead remains on the phone listening to the instructions Roger is relaying to her.
One of the terrorists, a large man with a barrel chest, deviates in her direction. "I said down on the floor bitch!" He has a heavy Middle Eastern accent. When Dupree doesn't comply, the big man slaps her. The phone flies from her grip, landing several feet away.
A groan slips out from Dupree as she flies back against the wall. The other man slams his foot down onto the phone. Pieces of the phone fly in every direction.
"The authorities won't be able to help," the second man says gruffly.
"Secure the rest of the train!" the first man yells, then he turns back to Dupree and smiles.
Roger hits the switch hook and dials his secretary—she answers right away. "Get me Agents Reeds and Roberts," he says coarsely.
Spencer and Sam returned to headquarters shortly after the received phone call from Roger's secretary.
"About time you two got here," he says as the two entered the office.
"Sorry boss, we had to pull away from the Miller stakeout," Sam explains.
"I'm handing the case to Agents Welker and Grove. You two are needed elsewhere."
"Something come up?" Spencer asks.
"We have a high jacking of an Amtrak train from Adelanto to Albuquerque. Forty-four minutes into travel, Agent Melissa Dupree reported. We lost our connection with her."
Concern shows on Roger's face contrary to his apparent calmness. Roger cared for each and every one of his agents as if each one was a loved one.
"Do we know anything about the high jackers?" Sam asks.
"From the background noise the attackers are middle eastern. Hard to tell from which country specifically. There haven't been any calls to any of the agencies, so right now we are the only ones aware of the situation. We are treating this as a terrorist attack regardless if they finally do call with demands or not."
"What's the plan for penetration?" Spencer inquires. He is beginning to feel impatient for lack of action. He never met Dupree, but she is a fellow agent deep in the heart of danger.
"I've got a pull inside the Air Force. Using wingsuits, you'll make your jump from a B-2 Spirit. Blueprints for the train and satellite imaging will be ready upon your departure. Any questions?"
"We do we leave?" Spencer asks, cutting off Sam before she has a chance to speak.
"Five minutes ago. Lieutenant Manning is waiting to take you to the hanger. Good luck and bring these bastards down."
Spencer and Sam both nod in conjunction then leave.
An hour after the terrorists took control of the train; it came to a stop at a junction. Within minutes another train carrying a single freight car rolled up to the stationary train attaching the freight car to it.
Melissa focused to listen to the sounds of the second train over the dull murmurs and sniffles from the passengers. They are all stuffed into two of the passenger cars. People are crammed into seats or forced to sit on the floor. The terrorists only gave orders and never demanded anything to give her a hint to what their plans are.
Melissa distinguishes the sound of two cars attaching right before the subtle vibration pulses through the train. Right away she knows this isn't just a simple taking over of a train but something more. A plan begins to form in her mind's eye, but a distraction would be needed and one without any of the other passengers being injured in the process.
ETA in three minutes," the pilot informs the two agents over the intercom. Sam and Spencer are looking over the satellite imagery and blueprints of the train. Both hear the announcement, but don't give any acknowledgement to it. Instead, Sam is the first to speak about the mission ahead.
"Roger gave us full permission to use whatever means necessary. I say we go in hard and hit them hard."
"If we can give Dupree some sort of signal that we're there, she may be able help in some way," Spencer suggests.
Sam takes Spencer's no objection to her statement as him accepting it. She pulls out a picture of the train with thermal imaging. "This large area has to be the passengers. It looks like they have their people scattered throughout the train. How about we cut the power here," she says pointing to a panel near the front car. "We have night vision goggles. They'll never know what hit'em."
"I like the idea, but if we leave it cut for too long the suspects will began to get suspicious and start to believe special ops are there. But if we cut it off temporarily, it will give us just what we need. One of us can cut the power while the other notifies the conductor about it."
"And when one of the terrorists questions it, he tells them it was a temporary light failure," Sam finishes the thought.
"Exactly. Dupree should interpret it as a sign since she knows someone will be coming in," Spencer continues explaining.
"Sounds good," Sam says with a smile.
"ETA thirty seconds. Dropping to thirty thousand feet," the pilot announces.
"Good luck," Sam says before she kisses Spencer. She gets up and moves into position for the drop.
Sam and Spencer land on the freight car being pulled by the train. Once they have their footing, the parachutes are released, being allowed to be carried off by the wind.
"This wasn't in the schematics," Spencer says into the mic while pointing down at the car they were now standing on.
"It must have been added on at sometime after it left the station," Sam replies.
"Maybe." Spencer doesn't like the abnormal freight car being there. It gave him a feeling of uneasiness. "We'll double back to check it out," he finally says.
Sam stands looking at Spencer in her tactical suit, with a neutral look on her face. "You coming or what? We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," she says forming a smile.
"I'll be right behind you," Spencer replies.
Sam turns and begins her trek to the front of the train.
Dupree sits waiting for the opportune moment to act when it finally comes. The lights throughout the train suddenly go out causing confusion in both the passengers and terrorists. Orders to stay put are given out as the terrorists look out the windows for any sign of trouble.
"Get to the conductor and find out what the fuck is going on," the apparent leader of the group says, grabbing the jacket of the man beside him and shoving him forward. Into a portable radio he says, "Everyone on high alert, we may have trouble."
Dupree doesn't waste any more time. In the confusion and darkness, she slips into the restroom. From there she loosens the toilet and slips through. The path leads her to the underside of the train. The wheels screech as they hold to the track and the train shakes violently. She never realized how much of the shaking was taken away when you rode inside the train instead of under it.
Using caution, she makes her way to the end of the car and climbs up to the area between the cars. She looks in the windows to see the lights still are off. She has to get back inside, but without knowing the placement of guards, opening a door could prove to be dangerous. She looks down the side of the next car and sees an open window – the perfect place to slip into.
A Middle Eastern man enters the conductor's car and anger instantly washes over him. "Where is Majid? He was here on guard, where did he go?" the man asks pointing his gun into the conductor's face.
"He—He said he had to use the restroom. I don't know where he is," the conductor answers. His body shakes from both being nervous and scared.
"Kiral will not be happy," the man mutters to himself.
"Shut up! What happened to the power?" the man demands.
At that moment, the lights kick back on.
"Mu—Must have been a power failure. It happens every once in awhile," the conductor explains, knowing full well he just told a lie.
"Show me this place the power comes from."
"It won't be necessary. It's a defect of the trains wiring and can't be fixed." The man pauses considering the conductor's excuse. After a moment he orders the man to stay put and wait for Majid to return.
After the terrorist leaves, the conductor's shoulder droops and he lets out a sigh of relief. From the shadows Spencer steps out with Majid. The terrorist's throat has been slashed, his body now held up by Spencer. "You did a good job. Act like we weren't here and this will be all over shortly."
The conductor nods without saying a word. Spencer drags the terrorist out, throwing the body off the train. "We're clear Sam, I'm on my way.
Dupree is able to slip in through the window with ease. She is thankful the car is empty. She begins her way to the door leading to the next car when the power is restored. Behind her, the door begins to open. Cursing silently, she ducks from the aisle into a set of passenger seats.
The apparent leader walks into the car and stops. Dupree isn't able to get a view of the man without shifting and giving herself away. She waits for the man to act; instead he stands at the entrance of the door, tapping his foot impatiently. Another thirty seconds goes by before the door opposite opens.
Relief flows through her. She had feared the man knew she was there and was waiting for her to reveal herself. The relief lasts for only seconds. She soon realizes where she is hidden from the leader; she isn't from the other man. A second before the new occupant gets a view of Dupree, she makes up her mind and acts.
Using her gymnast skills from her youth, she flips over the seat in front of her. Both men are briefly caught off guard, which is more than enough time for her to act. Grabbing the second man's arm, she twists it behind his back, causing him to drop his gun. She notices a knife on his belt, so she grabs it and places it at his throat. The leader pulls his gun and aims it at her.
"Drop it!" she yells. "Drop it or he dies!"
The leader smirks and says, "Then how do you plan to kill me?"
"Easy," she smiles back, "I can kill you before any of your bullets hit me.
The leader lowers his gun, but his grip remains. "What do you want? You can leave if you'd like, but the jump may kill you and if not, we're miles away from anywhere."
"What I want is for you to give up and hand yourselves over."
"And what makes you think I'm willing to do that?"
He stands casually, not moving at all. A smile still frames his face, but he gives no evidence of fear or uneasiness. He is in total control. "Who are you and what do hope to accomplish?" Dupree figures if she can keep him talking, she may either find an opening or the help she hopes is here will arrive. "I am Kiral and this train along with you and its passengers are going to give your lives to Allah. Once we reach your American city of Albuquerque, it will be reduced to a ghost town. Nuclear bombs are such a spectacular sight to see, unfortunately none of us will be alive to see it."
"You're crazy, you son of a bitch!" Anger grips her causing her the push the knife into her captive's throat. A line appears from the cut, blood begins to seep, slowly out.
"You Americans may think so, but not to Allah."
Kiral lifts his gun and fires off three shots in rapid succession. The first two hit Dupree's captive, forcing her to drop the dead weight of the man. The third bullet tears into the right side of her chest. The bullet spins her in the air. She falls to the ground, grabbing her shoulder. The knife slips from her hand to land several feet away from her.
Kiral walks over to Dupree. She lies still as pain pulses through her. The floor is soaked in a pool of blood and she is already beginning to feel the effects from the blood lose. He levels the gun to her head, pressing the muzzle against her. "My men are willing to lose their lives for the glory of Allah. It's a shame you'll lose yours for nothing."
Dupree can't move so she just lays there accepting her fate and berating herself for her failure. A shot rings out in the dead air. Time for her feels like it has slowed and she wonders if she is dead.
Kiral drops his gun, which clangs loudly on the floor. His body falls instantly after with a thud. She feels her head, feeling for blood or brains. Surprised to not feel any, she breathes a sigh of relief then falls into darkness.
"Clear!" Sam says rising from her knee.
Spencer comes up behind her, gun in hand. "Help her. I'll clear the remaining cars."
Sam nods putting her gun away and then moves to give aid to Dupree. Spencer finishes off the remaining terrorists as he makes his way to the freight car. What he sees shakes him to the core. The car houses a nuclear bomb with a timer set to detonate the moment the train pulls into the station at Albuquerque.
They are currently in the middle of nowhere; at least he hopes there aren't any lost or stranded people in the desert. Moving out to the freight car, he makes his way back to the passenger cars. With a shift of the connecting lever, the freight cars detach from the rest of the train. He stands in the doorway as the train quickly pulls away from the freight car. Once the bomb stops rolling, he goes back inside and opens a satellite uplink to CATU headquarters relaying the situation. He is assured the bomb will be disabled before it time runs up.
Within an hour, the train slows to a stop just across the New Mexico state border. Sam is able to sustain Dupree, who is air lifted from the scene. CATU arrives in full force to debrief the passengers and begin its investigation into the terrorists.
"How is Dupree holding up?" Spencer asks Sam once they are on their way back to D.C.
"She'll make, she's a tough one. Good call with the lighting," she says grabbing his hand.
"Well you are the one that gave me the idea." Sam smiles as Spencer reaches in for a kiss.