“Steve, you’re going to kill me.”
“Why am I going to do that?”
“Look at this,” Mal said as she pulled open her laptop and brought up a photograph.
“Is that Murdoch?” John asked.
“What are you doing with a picture of Agent Murdoch?” Steve’s voice had an edge.
“I may have written a program to wirelessly clone the data we stole as it was being transferred to our driver’s computer,” Mal said, holding up her hands when she saw Steve’s brow furrow. “It was intercepted communications of known terrorist and mercenary groups, raw data. Very recent too, hadn’t been fully analyzed yet.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. The only people that would be interested in information like that are intelligence agencies.”
Mal paused for a moment to let Steve’s words sink into his own brain.
“The data was encrypted, wasn’t it?” The stress in Steve’s voice made it clear he already knew the answer, and what it meant.
John still hadn’t caught up with the two of them yet.
“So what if it was encrypted?”
“She would’ve needed days at least to decode it. More, depending on the level of encryption,” Steve said. “But she didn’t need that long because she already had the access codes.”
“How could she have already had the access codes?” John asked.
“Because my CIA clearance unlocked the files,” Mal said. “Ana’s dad is CIA.”
“But if Ana’s dad is CIA, and we stole his files, that means…”
“Murdoch isn’t CIA,” Steve said. “He found out he was in those files and he knew as soon as the data was processed he’d be on every terror watch list from here to New Zealand and back.”
“He must’ve known about Project Mentor and decided to use us to do his dirty work,” Mal said.
“That means everyone he’s working with aren’t CIA either, doesn’t it?” John asked.
All three of them looked over at the man at the other end of the passenger area of the plane. He was reaching into his coat as he watched them watch him. John broke into a run. Now that it was obvious the gig was up, the man tore out a pistol. John launched himself over the nearest seat and lashed out with both feet. His momentum slammed the man’s forearm onto the side of the plane. The blow forced his fingers open and the gun clattered to the ground.
John and the mercenary threw kicks and punches at each other. John was strong, but his opponent was stronger. Each blow knocked him into seats and pushed him back further down the aisle. He started taking advantage of the small space, ducking out of reach behind rows of seats.
Striking with his fists, he pummeled the man, raining blows on his head whenever he got the chance. A nasty kick to the chest sent John tumbling down the aisle. He struggled to get up, pressed to the floor by the pain in his ribs. He heard a click and looked up. He recognized the sound of a safety coming off. The man had recovered his gun.
John winced when he heard another click, but this one wasn’t followed by the explosion of a gunshot. Looking up, he saw the man plucking a metal and plastic cylinder out of his chest. Then he collapsed to the ground. Behind him, Steve was holding one of their tranquilizer dart guns.
Worried voices from cockpit caused them to burst into action. When the copilot opened the door to see what was going on, he was staring down the barrel of three dart guns. From the front, they looked quite a bit like the real thing.
“Time to see about landing this thing,” Steve said.