I first posted the story in one long part, but when the server went down, thot it better to cut into smaller parts. This story is one that features Sydney, Irina and Jack. I also posted it BEFORE Phase One. All characters are the property of J.J. Abrahms. Note: Italics mean they are speaking Russian or is a Russian word. Lenafan AT LIBERTY A SEASON OPENING EPISODE PROLOGUE Jack was talking to Sydney. Irina had been transferred back to Langley. She had agreed to listen and identify anyone she heard on some voice tapes. In exchange, he said, she would be allowed to attend Sydney’s graduation at UCLA with her Ph.D. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea,” Jack mused. “Why?” “Sloane wants to come and has indicated he will ask you about it.” “I can say no.” He looked at her, ‘Do you think that’s wise?” “Dad! I could just not go then.” “Well, maybe that’s the best option.” He answered. She sighed, “Then there’s Mom!’ “She wants to see you get that degree.” UCLA’s campus and Royce Hall where the Masters and Ph.D. candidates would receive their robe adornments was being set up for the ceremony. The CIA had made arrangements with the Chancellor about getting Laura Bristow, also a Ph.D. and former professor at UCLA, an opportunity to watch her daughter graduate. The appropriate cap and gowns were sent to the Federal Building in Westwood. Laura Bristow would be allowed into the sanctified robing room along with four others agents. She would not have to wear leg shackles, but would wear handcuffs. She was warned to be discreet. She agreed. “I won’t spoil Sydney’s moment,” she told Jack. A few miles away, Sloane was getting ready to go to the University. He was looking forward to seeing Syd get her degree. He felt as close to her as Jack, having been around since the time of her birth. He and Emily had served as her GodParents. He was almost as proud as Jack was, but not as apprehensive. “Where are you going?” said Sark, entering his office. “Syd’s graduation.” Sloane answered with a smile. “Can I come?” Jack looked at him, “I doubt Sydney would have invited you.” He shrugged. “When will you be back?” “Probably around five. Graduation begins at two.” Sloane put on his jacket and walked out of the room, Jack following. Francie helped Sydney on with her cap and gown. Her face was beaming with joy for her friend. Will stood watching. He too, was proud. She had prevailed after so much tragedy. She had gotten this higher degree. He smiled and wanted to kiss her, but didn’t. Her heart belonged to someone else. Sydney asked, “Francie, do you and Will have seats? If not, you’d better go get a couple. I want to talk to Will for a second.” “Sure, no problem.” She looked at Will. “I’ll get them on the left side. You did say that was the aisle?” Syd nodded. “Will, hold me for a second.” He put his arms around her comfortingly. “I hope things go all right.” “Why wouldn’t they?” “My mother is coming.” Will’s eyes got bigger and he was a little frightened. “Your Mother?” She nodded. “And Dad is coming with Sloane.” “Won’t your Mother have guards?” “Yes, but I don’t know where she’ll be in the audience. If Sloane sees her?” She looked at him. “I wanted you to know because if anything starts you are to see to it Francie gets home. I don’t want either of you to get hurt!” She turned and walked out to join the other graduates. The ceremony began at 2:00 p.m. with the graduates marching down the left aisle to seats facing the stage. The professors and teachers came down the right aisle. The teachers and professors marched up to the stage and sat down. The music stopped. The graduates sat down. The Chancellor spoke for a few minutes, and then one of the candidates, Mary Valentine, gave a quick speech. Two more speeches followed and were received politely. Then the Chancellor introduced a Dean of a particular school who approached the podium and started handing out the diplomas to the graduates of his department. Jack wished this were over. Sweat trickled down the back of his neck and into his collar. He yawned for effect, glancing around. Suddenly he went cold. Sark! The man had sweet-talked his way into the auditorium. He sat just a few rows away, behind them. If he saw Irina what would he do? Suddenly Arvin gripped Jack’s arm hard. “Jack!” He hissed. “What?” Jack looked toward the stage. Sydney was walking up to get her degree. She looked great. “She’s here?” ‘Who?” “Derevko!” “What?” Jack stood up, looking around. “Where?” “Sit down,” Arvin hissed. Jack did quickly, but he knew from a pre-arranged signal that he had planned with Vaughn, that his standing up had warned them Irina’s presence had been made by Arvin Sloane. “Where?” “There, on the stage, near the podium on the left.” Jack looked. Sure enough. He had never guessed they would be so blatant about where to put her. Jack made as if he were going to leave his seat. Arvin grabbed him. “Sit down, don’t move!” In the meantime, Sydney had gotten her degree. She had nearly fainted when she saw her Mother sitting on the stage with all the other teachers and professors. Then she saw Vaughn at the end of the stage looking strangely agitated. She followed the row of graduates back to the seats. Vaughn suddenly was gone. She looked back at the stage. Four people including her mother had gotten up and moved to the rear, leaving. At the bottom of the stairway, Vaughn met Irina and the three agents. He unlocked the handcuffs. ‘Take the robe off quickly.” “What’s wrong,” she said. “Arvin Sloane spotted you.” “If he suspects you are in custody, he may try to either rescue or kill you.” Irina saw he was serious and knew he was right. She thought Arvin would as soon kill her as try to rescue her. She handed one of the agents her cap and gown. Vaughn snapped the handcuffss back on and took her by the arm. “Let’s get to the car now.” Sloane made a quick decision. He knew Sark was behind him. He motioned him forward. “Derevko was here. She just left with her men two minutes ago. They went out the rear entrance of the Hall.” Sark nodded and took off. Jack was furious and acted as though he could strangle Sloane. “Where is she! How dare she come here!” His voice was getting loud. “Quiet, Jack. We’ll locate her. Don’t make a scene. I think it’s over anyway.” He nodded toward the graduates who seemed to be getting up and moving toward the aisle. He saw Sydney and waved. “Hey,” she said with a nervous smile. “You look great in that cap and gown,” muttered Jack. “Was it worth all the hard work?” She noticed his tense voice and posture. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing, Sydney,” interjected Sloane smoothly. “We have to go to a meeting and I think he’d rather spend the time with you.” Syd looked at him, “Well, we already talked about it. Will and Francie are taking me to dinner and then a party. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She hugged her Dad. Sloane pulled Jack hurriedly down the aisle, almost making it before being bogged down by people hurrying out to meet their son or daughter who were among the grads. When they finally made it thru the doors of the hall, Sloane pulled out his cell phone and made a call. Sark answered. “Have you spotted her?” “No, not yet!” “Who were those men with her?” Sloane asked him. “I didn’t see them clearly. She led the way out.” Sark said. “Her men, or maybe agents guarding her?” “Send a group of men to each Federal Building, there’s one here in Westwood. Let’s see if she goes there. Send teams to the airport, bus terminals and Union Station just in case.” Sark said, “I’ll check the Federal Building myself. Have the office watch for helicopters taking off from either building.” “Good idea!” Sloane motioned Jack to make the call as they climbed into the car. “Boot camp, boot camp,” shouted Vaughn into his phone. “Yes?” It was Weiss. ‘We’re incoming on a 201 alarm.” Irina sat between Vaughn and another agent. She kept quiet and still. She didn’t want to interfere. Her safety lay in their hands. If anything bad happened it would be her fault for insisting she get to see Sydney graduate. “How far out are you?” “We just left UCLA and are heading for the 405. We’ll take it to the Ventura to the 134 and the 5. If traffic cooperates, we should be home in 35 minutes. We’ll come back door.” “You sure you got away unseen?” “Don’t know for sure. But Bristow stood up and that was our pre-arranged signal she had been spotted.” Vaughn hung up. He turned and checked out the rear window. There didn’t seem to be anyone suspicious following the car. He decided to come thru the entrance Sydney used when she came to see her Mother. He and Derevko would enter at that point and the car would quickly proceed away to the Federal Building in L. A. Vaughn helped Irina out of the car, running to a spot under the bridge. The phone was ringing. He punched in the code. He pulled her around to the back of the freight carrier and the door opened. They stepped inside. Jack and Sloane arrived at SD-6. The office was humming, but not as though anything special was happening. Jack followed Sloane into his office, shutting the door behind them. “What are you going to do?” Jack asked, his mind reeling with all the possibilities. “Try to locate her immediately.” He flipped the switch on the intercom. “I had Sark start by checking the Federal Building. Three strike force teams are covering it, the Federal building downtown and their operational center.” “Operational center? I didn’t know they had one?” Jack was suddenly very frightened. “Yes, an informant told us Wednesday that an intelligence team of CIA and FBI agents were working together in a building in the industrial part of L. A. near the 5 freeway. I put a team on it today.” “Is she there?” Sloane shook his head. “No, Derevko’s been out of sight for nearly six months. I don’t even know if she’s there.” He smiled. “Look Jack, I was going to tell you at the meeting this evening. I just didn’t want you to get upset. You’ve hated her for so long.” Jack dropped into the chair in front of Sloane, looking at him with cold intent. “If and when you find her, I want to talk to her first!” “We’ll see.” Sydney’s cell phone rang. “Yes?” “The center’s been made. Someone told Sloane about the CIA and FBI intelligence center. Don’t go there.” “Mom?” “Your Mother would not want you to reveal your double-agent status. Kendall has assured me he will see to it she is removed to the federal prison for her safety.” Two blocks from the Center, two trucks pulled up on a deserted street. They off loaded twenty men, dressed in black and carrying weapons of varying degrees. “We’re here.” One man said into the mike on his collar. “How close?’ “Two blocks.” “Move into position and wait, just let me know when you are ready.” The men jogged off into the night. Inside the center, Kendall was getting the last of the staff out thru the rear entrance. He had already ascertained it had not been discovered. He looked at his watch. They were going to get Derevko to the Federal Prison as soon as possible and a helicopter was on its way. Sydney entered the Center from the rear entrance. She passed the staff as they quickly made their way to waiting cars. All were carrying files and books. She saw that her Mother was not with them. She stopped one man she had seen before. “Where’s Derevko?” “Still in her cell. There’s a helicopter coming to pick her up.” Sydney ran toward the cellblock. She got to the cell doors, but they were still in place. She looked at the office where all the operational equipment was kept. It was empty. “What the hell--?” She went inside and began raising the doors using the panel on the desk. She could hear them going up. She ran out down to the cell where her Mother was being kept. Irina was waiting at the doorway still wearing the handcuffs. She looked apprehensive. “Mom, we’ve got a helicopter coming.” Sydney pulled at the door. It didn’t open. Then she remembered to press her thumb to the light sensor. The door opened immediately. Irina ran with her down the hall, heading for the stairway, which was outside the cellblock. She had gone up and down it twice a week, for a 15-minute exercise period. She hurried up with Syd behind her. “Where’s Michael?” Sydney asked. “I don’t know. He left me here when Kendall called.” “How long ago?” “An hour.” They burst out onto the roof. Sydney looked around. Then in the distance she heard the helicopter. “It’s coming.” “Stay down!” Cautioned Irina. She shivered in the night air. She wore only the prison garb they had given her. The helicopter began making its approach. It would land on the upper roof. Suddenly there were lights in the front of the building. The sound of guns firing. Irina and Syd looked up. The helicopter was taking hits. The pilot was trying to maneuver closer. There was someone standing in its doorway. Syd tried to see if it were Michael. Irina held onto her. “Stay down!” She shouted. “We’re here,” yelled Sydney waving. Suddenly there was another burst of gunfire and then what looked like a small rocket hit the tail section. It exploded. Sydney leaped to her feet, but was instantly thrown to the ground. Irina rolled over, covering her daughter’s body with her own as the helicopter exploded.