From Marshal To Guardian, Part One: The Crossing

Situation Mid-Air

International Flight BR82, Heathrow Airport, near London, United Kingdom

21:53, October 23, 2014.

Christopher Barnes Markson, Federal Air Marshal Service, TSA

It did not matter for a second how hard he tried, in the end, the process was unstoppable, and the feeling of nausea defeated him right after he arrived in the back of the plane. The speed he rushed into the lavatory with did not allow him to look around for Higgins, but meeting with his partner did not seem any important to Markson at the current situation, as he... Well, some things are better left untold.

After Chris was relieved of his sickness, he leaned down to the basin to wash his face with cold, refreshing water - he even rinsed his mouth; for a moment, the thought of drinking did cross his mind, but rejected the idea in the last minute: having bottled and clear liquid in someone's system was better to consume, if accessible, especially after what he just went through. When he will actually finish his discussion and briefing with Higgins, Barnes will personally go and get himself some water, as the attendant failed to do this simple task.

Looking up, Markson could see his fatigued and worn-out face, still pale white and weak from the physical exhaustion the emesis caused on him; bloodshot eyes, dark circles under them; Chris looked exactly like a person who did not sleep for days. The only problem was that the past three days were slept through by him, as to get him ready for this travelling method.

It was then, that he started to spot the abnormalities on himself: something was out of the ordinary, due to some kind of red fluid, leaking from his nose...

„Blood!", he realised with a shock, and touched the region under his nose; „A nosebleed?", he thought. Hoping that this was only his imagination, Markson slowly moved his hand back, to see if anything was on his fingers. To his total dismay, there was; the vital fluid was smudged all over his left index and middle finger.

„Did a blood vessel burst?", wondered Barnes, and took out a paper tissue from his pocket, which he used to wipe off the blood; „How could it possibly have? I never had any nosebleeds, and I am 35!". He just realised that a strong trembling took over him, which he responded to by clutching into the edge of the sink, which did stabilise him - although barely. He looked up slowly, and caught his own, quivering gaze, filled with the look of confusion and comprehension.

All of a sudden, Markson felt the unavoidable urge to cough, forcing him to lower his head downwards - yet, this time, it felt painful; the irregularity in the otherwise natural flow of events was that seconds after it ended, Chris saw the sight of blood again; but this time, in the sink, sluggishly progressing down to the drain.

Panicked, Barnes raised his head, and saw his face again, but now, the red fluid was oozing from his lips; he would have been swift to use the paper handkerchief again, but, for some inexplicable reason, he spat out instead, which coloured the sink in a way that would have been disturbing to another person.

However, Chris noticed something that he believed to be just some hallucinated vision, produced by the shock; thereupon he realised that he was not imagining things, but rather perceiving reality:

Markson was not mentally scarred or damaged, he was fully capable of duty - otherwise, he would not be here in the first place; he could answer any type of a question, especially if that was about the colour of his eye, which was brown.

There was only one problem with this right now: in the mirror, he could perfectly see every single detail of his iris, its unique pattern, the clean structure, nothing exceptional, nothing, that would have caused such a reaction in him; excluding the faint, but distinct tinge of blue in both eyes, right around the edges of the iris, spreading inwards, re-painting his oculus by every minute that passed.

„What the hell is happening to me?", he asked the rhetorical question, „Whatever this is, it is definitely not normal!", he thought, and stared at his own reflection in disbelief and dread; this was not the best place to be consumed by despair, but Chris could not do anything. He had no reasonable or logical idea about what he was experiencing, but one matter he knew: there was something awful going on here.

While Markson was paralyzed by fear, due to the consternation of the past minutes, he did not notice the abruptly loud noise of someone knocking on the toilet's door. After the individual carried on for a few seconds, Barnes snapped out from his trance-like state and came to his senses, he could actually hear what was happening around him:

- Agent Markson? - another sound of a hand hitting against the door sounded; before Chris could respond, the person, who he recognised to be a woman, spoke in a more concerned and caring way - Chris, are you feeling alright?

„Susan!", came his mind to a quick recognition, while another matter came to his head; „I cannot go out like this!", he referred to his face's current appearance in thought, but, after realizing what he just literally said in his head, Barnes snapped on himself: „You are the air marshal! Who cares if you are pale, or bleeding from the nose! Go out there, get yourself some water, and whip shape up!", Markson motivated himself in a more aggressive way.

- Can you hear me, Chris? - the knock came even more louder, almost painful to his ears.

In a desperate - and, for some reason, tense - way, Barnes was quick to answer:

- Yeah, I am fine! - he shouted, to make sure that he was audible outside - Give me a minute! - looking up, he could still see that darn blue colour in his irises, growing larger and larger... „Only if you would know", he whispered in thought.

For the last time, Chris wiped away the blood from the underside of his still bleeding nose, put the paper tissue away, opened the tap to wash the red fluid down the sink, then, finally, opened the door of the lavatory.

- Susan - he said after stepping out, which a brown-haired woman responded to by turning; for a second, she looked happy to see Markson, but her facial expression promptly changed to a mix of surprise and worry.

- Chris! - she walked away from the counter that held many different foods, and - to Barnes' relief - water bottles; Margolyes moved up to him, not hiding her shock and alarm - My God, what happened?

„Concerned, like you always were!", thought Markson with happiness inside him; this was why he liked Susan: she had feeling for people, whatever the cost was.

- I am alright, just some... minor ailment, it is gone now! - he smiled at the woman, but could see on Margolyes' face that she did not believe him; Chris changed the topic - Listen, Susan, I would need to speak with Jacob. Do you know his seat number? - but he spotted what he did not expected on the woman's face: anxiety.

- That is what I wanted to ask you about, Chris - „What is she talking about?", thought the mentioned person - Agent Higgins is not on the plane.

This struck down on Markson like one of the lightning bolts that were constantly setting the dark skies ablaze outside would probably have. This means that he was technically all alone on a flight; not that it was endangered by anything else than the weather, not to mention that there was not a suspicious person on board. Except that... „Ah, not even him", he thought.

- Chris? - he could hear Susan talking to, which he only noticed, despite that she said the same thing at least six times.

- Sorry, I just gazed off for a moment - Markson dried his ever-sweating forehead - How... What do you mean he is not on the plane?

- I noticed not longer after takeoff - she said in a low voice - Heathrow reported to the captain that Agent Higgins collapsed before entering the aircraft, in front of the boarding gate - Barnes was speechless - They said it was... cardiac arrest or something similar, but I have no idea, and...

- It is OK - Chris put his hand on the flight attendant's shoulder, to calm her - But this makes no sense to me - he walked over to the counter that had all the foods and drinks, and opened a bottle of water - Jacob was 31; he had no problems with his heart! I knew him for 4 years, he never... - instead of finishing the sentence, Chris just sighed, and took a sip from the water; the cold liquid felt highly refreshing and satisfying as it trickled down his gullet; his stomach, which was raging since the emesis, now seemed to cool down, partially ceasing his constant sensation of weakness and vulnerability. After he finished with the half of the bottle, Chris exhaled in a contented way, and carried on talking - Is he alive at least? - he asked in a concerned fashion.

- I do not know - Susan looked at him sadly, right in the eyes; but then, her facial expression changed slowly to a mix of curiousness, surprise, and puzzlement. She hurried towards Markson, which he did not understood at first, but then it dawned upon him - What is this?

Barnes checked all over himself, as to ensure that there was no blood on his clothes; the jacket was clean, the trousers he wore were spotless; the problem itself was somewhere else to be found.

As Susan approached him, and was no more than half meter away from Chris, the eyes of the two locked for a few seconds; almost awkwardly, as it seemed to the marshal. For a moment, Markson felt his issues just simply... wash away: the bright, green glow of Margolyes' eyes repeatedly and perpetually amazed him, throwing him into an increased heartbeat and body temperature every single time something like this occurred; Barnes would have - personally - interpreted this as a type of passion. He never knew how unrealistically close he was to the actual truth.

A moment later, Susan spoke again, knocking him back to reality.

- Chris - she started cautiously - What happened with your eyes? - Margolyes asked the question, then crossed her arms, as she could see that Markson, although involuntarily, but still hesitated. To signal him to hurry up with an answer, the flight attendant raised an eyebrow.

- I... I... - stuttered Markson, then, instead of carrying on with his sentence, he gulped down the rest of the water the bottle contained. After he could no longer continue stalling with this action, he tried to speak his way out of the situation; for what reason he was doing this, he did not know - I should really get back to my seat now - he suddenly felt an urge to cough again, but, this time, he managed to overcome it. Needless to say, Margolyes still had her doubts, which Markson responded to by maintaining his flow of persuasive and convincing reasons - After all, I am the only air marshal on the plane, my duty is to watch over the place, I...

- Cut the gibberish, Chris! - Susan's tone escalated to a more imperative and violent level, halting Barnes in his tracks, who already started to slowly inch to the direction of the tourist-class - Tell me what is wrong with you, and tell me now! - those calming green eyes now flashed dangerously at Markson; he never remembered seeing Margolyes in such a mood.

- Calm down Susan, I... - he made something between a laugh and a sigh - We are just having a horrible flight tonight, I just needed to calm down for a moment in an isolated place...

- Also, you needed to throw up in an isolated place, and the lavatory was the obvious pick - interrupted Margolyes, still with eyes looking intimidatingly at Barnes.

- These turbulences messed up my stomach, I could not really help it now, could I? - Chris' tone became minimally stressed, but he could keep the worst of it in for long enough.

- Did the winds also caused a nosebleed? That must be some very new phenomenon, as I did not hear anything about it yet! - Markson knew that when Susan went onto a sarcastic field, things were beginning to head south.

- A blood vessel was burst due to the pressure difference, it happens from time to time with everyone... - but both sides could feel that the end of this sentence was awfully powerless, which gave Margolyes a simple, almost effortless chance for a reply.

- Plus, apparently, either the turbulence or the pressure change causes the discolouration of both pupils since... now? - she asked, and this caused Chris difficulties to answer.

- I do not know, maybe, uh... - he was looking for the right scientific expression he picked up years ago at the university - Maybe it is an advanced case of heterochromia, who knows? - but right after saying this, Barnes realised that he had made a grave mistake in the conversation: „Wait, Susan also studied at university!", he thought, and could feel the inevitable coming to him.

- Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot that the process of heterochromia occurs between one to five minutes! Only if I had went to university to study more! - she said in a serious voice, but then changed her tone, again - But wait; I did! What a surprise that I know that what you are saying is total bullshit! - Susan could see on Markson's face that a type of anger, which only came around in the heat of a conversation, was building up.

- There have been recent cases of specific individuals, who went through the effects of heterochromia in just a few minutes! - this was, of course, a lie, only attempting to end the conversation or, at least, change the topic - Maybe this happened to me! - Chris' voice started to tremble, but not of alarm or fright, but of building stress and the lack of concealment and certainty in his bluff.

- Ah, recent cases! - she almost shouted; the only way one could force Susan to lose her temper was to keep arguing with her; Markson was going along with that just fine, gradually dragging the attendant closer and closer to the edge - Are you telling me that science decided to change its rules? Is that right? Chris? - she bent her head slightly to the right in a questioning fashion.

This was the point where Barnes gave it up; he was fighting a verbal battle he could not win, let alone that he would be decimated if this became a war; he clapped his hands together once, raised his arms - as to show his surrender - then dropped them to the side. He sighed deeply while he looked down on the carpet of the aircraft. When he looked up, he did it with a half-angry, and half-bitter gaze. With his... „new", blue eyes, Markson's face was quite a sight to behold for someone who had not seen him before. After doing a hard swallow, Chris started to talk.

- Okay, do you know what? - he began prudently, and, to his own surprise, took out his phone, just to buy himself some time to think. No new messages arrived; not surprising at all, the weather was still on its peak, and the storm was raging. Nothing changed in the past fifteen minutes; nothing, but Chris' eyes - Here is the truth, Susan - his speech was barely audible, he almost squeezed the words out - I have no actual idea about what is going on right now, and yes - he heavily emphasised the last word - I am afraid; my partner might be dead, I am the only marshal on this plane, not to mention that I am not in a correct shape, and on continuation of that thought, some... some kind of instant heterochromic disease or... or an advanced carcinoma, I do not care! - Barnes let out a painful, almost hysterical moan as he hit the table with his fist, then buried his face in his left hand; he was not crying, nor was he in pain, but all these... events with his body that just went down? He was still in a bit of a shock - I still need time with Anna - I... I think I will just sit back down - he said afterwards - I need time to calm down and to... to think - he moved his palm, and looked at Susan - I trust that this is alright with you? - Markson's voice was weak and frightened, his body posture did suggested a fragile state, moreover, his body started to quiver again...

For the time Chris knew Susan for, she never looked so sympathetic as she did now; he was not sure, but Barnes could have sworn that compassion sat deep in Margolyes' eyes.

- Anything you need - she said in the most supportive way probably possible, picked up a water bottle, then handed it over to Markson - Just in case you... - she paused, although unnecessarily; both knew what she was going to say. Needless to mention, she still managed to finish the sentence - You know why. Uh... - hesitation followed for a moment - We have some sedatives and other medications in the front of the plane, if you would want to take any.

- Yeah - sighed Chris, and started to walk towards the closed curtains, where he would enter the aisle, and head back to his seat - Thanks - he pulled the curtains open, and turned back, halfway behind his shoulder - For everything.

While proceeding through the tourist-class, Markson did checked around and observed some people carefully, despite the way he was feeling about his current health. Nothing different from the boarding gate; regular people, travelling to their regular destination, maybe a business-trip, maybe vacation, who knows?

The plane was in the air for quite a while now, the attendants started to walk through the aisle with different foods and drinks that could be bought for a pretty pricey value; one of these „cars" was heading straight towards Chris, so he decided to be polite, and got out of the way, although in a minimally awkward manner: he tightly pressed against one of the seats with his back. The person who occupied the place commented with an annoyed sigh, but Markson found it more easier and sensible to ignore the man than to confront him.

A surprising amount of people were using there phones or tablets; „I guess it is just today's technology. After all, I cannot complain, I also use my phone in my... well, work"

When Barnes reached his seat in the first-class, a voice greeted him - yet he was not sure which way he should react on it; negatively, or positively.

- Are you feeling better now? - it was Tate, who, sadly, did not seemed to have changed his personality in the past minutes, let alone that he was just still here; definitely a negative for Markson, this was unquestionable - Flight does effects some people in horrendous ways, you are probably no... - while saying the previous sentence, he looked up, checking on the other member of the conversation; while doing so, his facial expression changed in a similar manner Margolyes' has in the back of the aircraft. His eyes opened wide, his mouth almost dropped open - Mr. Montague, what happened to...

- My eyes? - interrupted the marshal while he was in the middle of sitting down; Tate's gaze followed him constantly, as he did spotted the irregularity of the irises. Markson acted like he did noticed what Boyd was doing, although, in reality, it did bothered him, but he would not give the man the pleasure and satisfaction of a remark; instead, Barnes just sat down, and took out his book from the bag that he put on his seat, right before he left for the lavatory - Do you want to know my honest answer? - started Markson in a stringent tone, ensuring that Tate will understand the point that he was trying to make - I do not know what happened, or what is happening to me - he lowered the bag, and slowly placed it down on the floor - And, albeit I know that you would gladly go into a discussion or debate about it, that is not going to happen! - Chris made a glance towards Boyd, and, after seeing no angry or dangerous response, fully turned his head to the right - Now, for the rest of this flight, I want total silence, no pointless questions, no comments, nothing. Are we understood?

First, Tate looked like he was going to say something that would have violated the statement Markson just gave, however - totally in contrast with his personality - the man stayed quiet, looked downwards with a half-open mouth - as if he was about to say something - then, instead of any taken actions, just exhaled strongly.

- Yes, Mr. Montague - said Boyd not so long after - It is clear that you are in the need of... silence, and I understand that - Markson could not believe his ears; was this guy really doing what he was doing? If Chris' premonition was correct, the man, the one that he hated from the first moment, even though that was only 30 minutes ago, was about to apologise - I am sorry for my past behaviour, I...

- I told you previously, forget about it - Markson cut him of before he could get more deeply into his apologetic monologue; it was one of the last things he needed right now, although the thought of listening to Boyd's apology did not seemed as painful as Chris has originally thought.

- No, I am being, fully, absolutely serious right now; I was never a people's person, and... - Barnes interrupted him; as he said beforehand, he was uninterested in a further conversation, and Boyd was not helping.

- Come on, Tate! Please, save me the trouble of going through this again... - Barnes, although he just said quite the opposite, was about to explain to his seat-neighbour why he needed silence and tranquility, but then...

Then he heard a thick West-American accent, talking about something that is not only a forbidden topic on an airplane, but, if the content would have been meant seriously, the conversation could have been classed as a violation against the federal laws, or as a threat against it.

Markson had no idea how he overheard this, but, somehow he did; it was as if his hearing instantaneously became perfect, sharp, and just... strangely accurate.

- Did you go over the plan with Hank? - when Chris first heard the voice, he thought that he only overheard someone either in front or behind him. Seconds later dawned the realisation upon him that wherever this came from, it was a problem they were facing.

- Ja - the other speaker was definitely German, deducting from the accent, and the dialect - We take the guns out, get everyone in their seat, forced if needed - this was bad, real bad! If some people had weapons on this plane... It was close to the unthinkable - After that, we find and secure the package.

- Then what? - the West-American was talking again; Barnes listened very carefully now, and could feel his sidearm pressing against his back.

- Get the code for the cockpit from one of the attendants, kill some if needed - Chris' eyes opened wide at this point; what if Susan happens to be in the way? - Then force the pilots to descend to 3000 feet. Next, we jump - finished of the German voice.

Markson shook his head, as to clear it out and get himself straight; „I need to warn the captain!", he thought for a moment, but realised that - apparently - it was too late now.

Afterwards, something happened that he not just did not expect, but - for a split of a second - felt slightly frightened; nevertheless, this wore off in no time, then Markson proceeded with what he deemed appropiate in the current situation; and indeed, his action was what he should have done: he stood up, and walked towards the source of the screams.

Now about those cries: they did not started at the first shout, only after a shot sounded; then, everyone started screaming and crying out for help, mercy, or just random words, induced by the panic spreading on-board.

- Everybody get down! - another round was fired off, causing another flow of shouts; the person who ordered the passengers was a third man, bearing a thick French accent - Stay down, and you will not get hurt! We are not here to kill you, but we will not hold ourselves back if you force our hands! - around the same time he finished, three or four other voices, not yet heard by Chris, started to do and say the same, but Markson did not bothered to listen to this anymore.

He dropped the book on his seat, stood up, then took out his gun; to his surprise, someone to his left started shouting.

- Ah, God, are you one of them? - Tate cried out annoyingly loudly, and raised his hands in front of himself, as if those could protect him from any harm - Please do not kill me!

- Boyd, Boyd! - hissed Chris in a low voice - I am an air marshal - he raised his badge to prove this - Now, I need everyone here to stay down, can you tell that to all passengers here?

- I... I am not sure if... if I can... - stuttered Tate, not fully concentrating on what has been just said.

- Boyd, I need you to concentrate! - said Markson sharply, picked his earpiece up from his bag and put it in his ear; then pulled the slide of his pistol, chambering a round - Do what I told you, and stay down! - he put the sidearm back to its original position, hidden under his jacket.

- Any control tower or aircraft in vicinity, this is Flight-BR82, we have a distress call! - Markson heard O'Neill on his communication channel - Shots were fired on board, the presence of a bomb is likely; we are commencing the bomb-protocol and will attempt to return to the nearest military airfield. Once there, we will try to land. I say again, any planes in the vicinity... - the talking suddenly turned into static, giving Barnes another good reason for intervention; if it was these hijackers blocking the frequency, they must have had some high-tech equipment.

With a cautious movement, Barnes started to walk casually towards the tourist-class; when he entered through the curtains, he could see five or six men waving pistols around, hitting passengers, forcing them to sit down. At the sound of the curtains being drawn, one of the men turned towards the noise - Chris - and raised his gun.

- Hey buddy, wandering around, are ya'? - it was the West-American, who was in the middle of beating an attendant to obtain answers, but, when he spotted Markson, he immediately turned to the new „threat" - Right, I will tell you only once: go back to your place and stay calm. 'Else you gonna be in a hella' trouble!

- Please - acted Markson in the scared civilian-style - Please, my wife sits at the back, I... if I die, I want to sit next to her! - he waited for a reaction, but the man just kept holding his gun firmly.

- Stay in your seat, or you will not even have the chance for saying farewell! - the man kept a pause - I will shot you! Now start walking! - Chris remained stationary - I said now! - shouted the West-American, and shot into one of the seats.

- Sir, please! - kept moving Barnes, gently, as to not raise suspicion; he had only one chance at this.

- Look, buddy, I am going to count to three; if you are still here at that time, you are going to be shot, understood? - the man's face was almost emotionless; these guys were not some petty robbers or terrorists. These men were professionals - One.

The West-American checked if there was a bullet in the chamber, and kept Markson's head in his sights. Just a few more centimeters, and Chris should be just in the right position.

- Two - carried on the hijacker, and strengthened his grip on the weapon - Time to make a choice, man!

- Please, I just want to sit with my wife! - Barnes gave the final blow of the lie; everything was ready for his plan now.

- Sorry, you cannot say „goodbye" to your wife! Thr... - the West-American attempted to pronounce the words, but could not; with his left hand, Markson grabbed the man's right arm, which got the pistol out from his face. Lucky to him, the food and drink stand was right next to them, and, when the West-American's hand hit the metal edge, he was forced by the impact to drop the weapon; afterwards, with his own right hand, he took the P228 out, put it directly to the man's stomach, then pulled the trigger; twice, to be perfectly exact.

With a surprise on his now dying face, the West-American did not resist, he was paralysed by the speed of the events (or this could have been caused by a bullet that might have separated his spine, we may never know).

Using this time-window, Chris gripped onto his right shoulder, spinned him around, clinging his arm around the man's neck in the same time, using him as a human shield. After he was sure that the now either dead or dying West-American's body fully covered his own, Chris aimed at the head of another hijacker.

When Markson pulled the trigger, five heads turned toward him - not counting the civilians - although one's skull was already penetrated by the bullet fired seconds ago.

- Batard! - shouted one of them; he was definitely French, judging from the language he just used.

There were now three different nationalities in this hijacker team. What was this, some multi-national terrorist operation? „That cannot be!", thought Barnes, „The chances are equal to nothing!".

While thinking of this, three or four shots were fired upon him, which - although only hit the dead body - did gave him a bit of a push.

„Damn!", Chris released the corpse, which - if he was not for all this time - definitely deceased by now; seeing the counter with some magazines and pamphlets on as a potential cover, Markson jumped behind it, and checked his pistol's magazine - a common fetish of his.

„One in chamber, ten in the mag", he concluded, and placed the clip back into its place. „Okay, Chris!", he readied himself for the inevitable combat and shooting, „Pick them off, one by one. Remember, shoot to stop; first the chest, then the head. If your aim is perfect, you will only need eight rounds!".

- Müller, Keshnyev! Flank him! - shouted the French, then a pair of footsteps running up towards Markson's position were heard.

Quickly deciding on the action, Chris leaned over the counter, and aimed down the sights of the sidearm; whilst he did this, time appeared to have slowed down: Barnes could see all the civilians, covering their heads, faces or other body parts in defence, living through this nightmare sky high; the two men who were sent to kill him carried H&K USPs, compact but pretty advanced pistols. Special forces used this kind of arsenal, not hijackers!

Markson picked out the man on the left, who was about to take his own shot; before that happened though, Barnes pulled the trigger, firing a bullet through the terrorist's left lung.

- Ah! - prior to the second pull of the trigger Chris would have done, the man fell over from the impact - Seize! - he swore while he attempted to stand up.

In the meantime, Markson managed to take a shot at the other hijacker, penetrating his chest, then, moments after, his skull: he collapsed on the ground, motionless and dead.

„Three left", counted the marshal while the German tried to rise from his wounded state to continue with his plan of murder.

Before he could do so, Barnes - in a slow and relaxed manner - pinpointed a lethal spot on the man's head with the foresight, then sent him after his late associate.

„Two remaining", he crossed off another number from his metaphorical and imaginary list.

- Chris! - he heard a shout, seemingly from the other end of the aircraft; originally, Markson could not determine to whom the voice belonged to, but, seconds later, he realised: it came from Susan, held by the neck by one of the hijackers.

- Come on now, connard! - it was the French man, but he held a sub-machinegun, more specifically a H&K MP5, a lethal weapon if used correctly - You do not want the pretty lady to die, oui? - while talking, he put the weapon's barrel to Margolyes' head, and switched off the safety catch - Drop that gun! - he pushed the muzzle closer to the woman's temple, which she responded to by letting a painful cry out.

Markson just simply raised his pistol, and waited for the right moment; all hostage situations had the downside, especially when someone would take a civilian and use him or her as a human shield: however hard someone tried, they could not get their head into cover, thus, the most exposed body part was also the one that required only one shot.

- You think you are smart, huh? - grimaced the French man, as he expected obedience in such circumstances; now, he put his finger from the trigger-guard on the trigger - Why not negotiate, a... - Barnes' P228 interrupted his sentence; actually, more than interrupted: ended it forever. The hijacker was hit exactly between his eyes, which caused his head to tilt backwards in a violent manner; his mouth fell open, the grasp he had on the weapon's grip lightened, and, seconds later, the man dropped dead, now just a lifeless body.

As of Margolyes; she was in no better state than Markson before he ran to the lavatory prior to the attack. After she was released by her now deceased captor, Susan began to shakily stagger in the direction of Chris. When she finally approached him, the flight attendant fell into the marshal's arms, what he was barely able to withstand, as Margolyes let go of her body totally.

Markson could feel her trembling, and he could have swore that she started to sob strongly.

- Susan, calm down - asked Barnes almost pleadingly - Please, I need you to calm down! - he said a bit more strongly, but remained careful with his voice's tone.

- Okay - she said in the midsts of her crying - Okay.

- Could you keep a low profile with the others in the first-class? - requested Chris, while he held Susan away with his two hands on her shoulders, not to push her aside, but for to look into her eyes.

- I... - before she could carry on with what she wanted to say, a shot sounded, although not clear where from.

For a moment, the marshal believed that the bullet striked him, and the reason that he did not feel pain for was caused by the sudden adrenaline rush; he looked down on his chest to check for a wound, but found nothing, not even by going over the leather jacket with his right hand, which he took of Margolyes' shoulder for the time being.

Markson glanced back up, and was about to tell the attendant to hurry to the first-class, but the woman's eyes seemed unnaturally glassy...

- Susan? - he asked softly, but received no response - Susan! - this time, Chris gave her a bit of a shake.

This caused Margolyes' head to tilt forward, which revealed a hole, that had a red liquid - blood - pouring out from the back of her skull alarmingly fast. This was what the fired bullet lead to; another death. Now that Chris knew where the projectile hit, he wished that he should not have seen it.

- No - he shook his own head in disbelief - No! - Markson shouted out in his pain and anger.

„That son of a...", he thought while he looked up to scan around for the shooter, whom he detected a moment before he shot again. The round passed Barnes' right ear by centimeters; it was close enough to cause his adrenaline level to spike up again and his ear to ring, but it was nowhere near to kill him.

With a swift movement - and emotional difficulty - Chris released Susan's dead body, and - while the corpse dropped - he took aim with his pistol, then shot.

The last hijacker cried out in painful agony as his left kneecap shattered into pieces, forcing him to unwittingly put pressure on the injured body part; he did this with his right hand, which he held his USP in.

Taking his precious time - two to three seconds - Markson steadied him aim by taking a deep breath, and picked his next target zone while closing one eye, just to give his shot a more likely chance to hit.

- Ahh, helvete! - shouted the hijacker - who now proved to be Swedish - in suffering: the bullet tore his right forefinger clean off, hindering him from using his gun efficiently, or just even using it in the first place.

While the Swedish was attempting to hold pressure on his bleeding wounds, Barnes proceeded towards the hijacker; while keeping a steady pace - as he knew that he had at least ten seconds before the man would come to his senses again - Markson threw his weapon up, then caught it by the barrel. When he reached the terrorist, he already had his arm raised, ready to strike down, which he did moments later.

The Swedish fell on the floor, not even attempting to keep his balance or to stand up; he just simply lay there, accepting that he had lost the battle.

Chris held the P228 now so that it pointed barrel front again, easily capable of blowing the final hijacker's brain out from its respective place.

- Are you going to kill me? - smiled the man, which was a strange sight, taking that blood was leaking from both his forehead and nose. Not long after,he started to laugh, which was even more disturbing, - You do not have the...

Barnes punched his face so hard that not only the man passed out, but the marshal needed to shake the pain off from his now bloody hand. The marshal was holding himself back with unbelievable restraint; yes, this was the man that killed Margolyes, but if they could question him, it could be found out who these men were, what they wanted, and why they wanted it.

- Is everyone alright? - he shouted to the passengers to check if at least they were still alive. Seconds later, a collective "yes" came from all sides of the cabin, relieving Chris from one problem.

Markson rose, then glanced around the business-class, looking at all the corpses that were killed in the last five or ten minutes: the West-American, the German, the French, the Russian, and one that had an unidentified nationality, but Chris recognised him: it was the "sweatpants guy". Apparently, Barnes was right: there was - was - something wrong with this individual. Now, with nothing on his face other than blood, he laid an awkward pose on the floor, no expressions, no feelings; just wide open eyes, and a bleeding bullet-wound. Something similar happened to Margolyes.

She lay motionless, a massive puddle of blood appeared in the last minutes around her head, shouting the obvious fact at Markson: she is dead, and he cannot bring her back.

He checked his watch: 22:32, time flew fast in the heat of the situation. Still, they will not land stateside now, the pilots will fly the plane back to either Heathrow (as the hijacker problem was solved now), or land on a military airbase. "I should check through the baggage for explosives; who knows, there still could be a bomb on this plane!".

In all of a sudden, Markson felt something peculiar: déjà vu, as he had a nauseous feeling again. But this was different, way worse than the one he had in the lavatory: this was generated by the massive amount of stress he just went through, not by some random turbulence in the air.

- Any aircrafts or towers in the vicinity, the situation seems to be resolved, bomb-protocol is still active - although the marshal first jumped a bit, he was still glad to hear O'Neill voice through the earset - We will try to land at the nearest military...

All the lights went out, and Markson could feel as his feet lifting off the floor, and a moment later his whole body crashed into the ceiling, then, as the craft seemed to have returned to its normal flying angle, Chris was dropped back down, the ground punching all the air out from his lungs.

Gasping for breath while coughing - which was not overwhelmingly pleasant - Barnes slowly got up on his feet, still in the dark. The civilians were screaming all around him, putting his mind in a more stressful environment than the shooting and fighting did.

- Anyone nearby, this is Flight-BR82! - this was Watts talking now, what happened to O'Neill was unknown by the marshal - We have been hit by a lightning-bolt, our whole system is down, and we cannot get it back up! - a cough that sounded painful and not so reassuring about the first officer's health could be heard on the frequency - The captain is dead! We are going down, Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, we have an emergency! I repeat, we are...

Another tremor shook the plane as it once again went into stalling, and soon, Markson could not keep his legs on the ground anymore.

As he smashed against the ceiling one more time, the lights started flickering, randomly turning on and off, illuminating the business-class for a few seconds, then descending into full darkness again.

While one of these intervals happened and the lamps switched on, someone's suitcase - probably made out of something incredibly hard - hit Chris right on his head, giving him a massive headache, but, also, a sense of fear, as he could feel his consciousness slipping away treacherously.

The screaming now appeared to have stopped, but soon, Markson needed to realise that it was just his hearing blocking down, due to his weakening grasp on reality. The only sound heard by him was his own, laboured breathing, and his insanely rapid heartbeat.

Still gripping hard on the P228, Barnes' strength started to reach its final limits and reserves; he tried as hard and desperate as he could, but, gradually, his mind started to lazily give up; and the more altitude Flight-BR82 was losing, the more weaker Chris got, and the more closer he was to falling unconscious.

In an uttermost determined attempt, Markson tried to hold onto the thought of Anna, the thought that mattered the most to him on the world. If he was to die now, he will go out while thinking about her daughter; not other way he could pass away in peace.

Before he blacked out though, a feeling came through him, as if he was ripped out from the plane; the sense of falling was gone, no sound was heard. Now, Barnes could feel that he was lying on the ground, but it was still pitch black, and he was too weak to move a muscle, not to mention the unbearable pain burning through every single one of his body. His head swam with many different thoughts; was he dead? How was he thinking this now if he was? That would conclude that the plane did not crash. But how did it not crash? If it did plummeted to the ground, but Markson survived, why was he lying on the ground and not in the wreck? He could not possibly have fallen out from the aircraft, could he?

Then, inevitably, either from the exhaustion or from the shock and the events, all of his power dissolved, and he fell into the comforting and calm darkness of the unconscious mind.

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