This is a slightly different fic written from the POV of rescued hostage. Two journalist have been kidnapped by terrorists somewhere in a rural area of the Middle East. They're being held for a undetermined amount of time by their captors. You'll see Joes later on, and these OC's will not reappear in further fics, one shot only.
This fic was inspired by CatShitOne. If you've never watched this privately made film, do it. Do it now, do it repeatedly, because CatShitOne is the awesome bomb. It answers that often asked question of "What if Beachhead was a bad ass bunny rabbit?" No, really, it kind of does. This fic does NOT recreate, nor follow the plot of CatShitOne. No elements of CatShitOne were used or copied in this work of fiction. I do not have any rights towards GI Joe nor the characters created by Hasbro. I make no funds from my writing of fics. All fics are subject to shipping stress but are measured by weight not volume(not even the volume put out by a certain Sgt major). Some settling may have occured. Your results may vary and please... don't try this at home.
Onto the fic.
Grace Harker tugged at her bindings again futilely. She didn't know how long until one of their captors would come back to brutalize her or beat poor Jack again. She was used to reporters being able to go anywhere with immunity. Jack had believed they'd be safe too, so it'd been a horrifying shock when a gang of terrorists descended on them without warning, screaming obscenities at her and beating both of them. Dragged into a van and tied up, the two hapless victims were quickly blindfolded and driven away for hours until they'd arrived "here".
'Here' was a dirty chill room that they'd been locked in for what seemed like forever. The small window was covered with a heavy wooden shutter on the outside and peering through the small cracks only showed a dusty deserted street and the blank side of another decrepit building. Jack was beaten several times, in a casual manner that made it even more callous and cruel. There seemed no reason behind it, as they did nothing to provoke any attacks from the men. Grace shuddered and tried not to think about how she'd been treated. They had both been completely clueless as to what exactly was happening until they'd been sat up against a wall to have a picture taken.
"Give money! Much money you.. us give much money and things!" Grace finally understood that the men believed they would get ransom for them. She tried to plead that they were no one special and that they would give them money if they let them go. After another brutal attack, she learned not to talk unless they were asking her a question.
Curled into a corner of the brick room, Grace looked at Jack and whispered at him. "Jack... are you okay?"
Lifting his head, the lean cameraman nodded. "Just tenderized. I'm really sorry.. " He rubbed his face on the brickwork a little. "I should have fought them off... never should have let them take us. They're going to kill us both."
"No no..." She protested. "Someone will pay them some money and they'll let us go."
The look she was given was almost pitying. "Grace, we know who they are and they've beat the crap out of us. They'll kill us when no one pays, or when someone does pay, or when they get tired of keeping us." Jack obviously felt bad about telling her bad news. "Sorry.. I shouldn't have let them take us.."
The door to the room banged open and an angry man strode in and yelled at both of them in Arabic. Both hostages cringed but he satisfied himself with a open-handed swat to Grace's head, more yelling and then he left, slamming the door shut behind them.
"Grace?" Jack's whisper was a bare hiss in the dull silence of the room. "Are you okay?"
"No..." She shook her head and then pressed it against the cool stone of the wall. "No... I'm not.. I want to go home..."
".. me too..."
Grace would never be able to say what made her look at the narrow window in the wall. It was the wee hours of the morning and she couldn't say she heard something or saw something but maybe she felt the presence of someone.
Peering up, she watched as a dark figure gingerly lifted a wooden shutter off the exterior and took it out of sight. There was no sound of it being set down. Grace found herself straining to hear, beginning to worry that she'd somehow gone deaf while she slept. When she straightened up, she listened with relief to the noise of her clothing scuffing across the stones. She looked fearfully towards the door then back at the window where the stranger was suddenly filling the entrance for an instant. He dropped to the floor nearly soundlessly.
"Who are you!" Her strained whisper made him hold up a cautioning hand as he padded past her, not even looking at her. He listened at the door briefly, then stepped over to Jack to loosen his bindings quickly. When Jack woke, a hard hand clamped over his mouth, muffling any outcry. A slight hiss warning the captive to stay quiet and the man freed Jack and pointed at Grace, moving himself back to the doorway instead of tending to either of them.
Jack untied her quickly and she staggered to her feet, eyes fastened on the stranger. He for his part, ignored her while he listened at the doorway. Suddenly he turned and motioned them into the corner with a few hand gestures, placing a finger to lips hidden under a ski mask.
As he moved to the door, Grace couldn't help but wonder... who was he and why he was here? Was he rescuing them or could he be worse than their kidnappers? Examining him as best she could in the darkened room, she could see he had military body armor on and a nasty looking rifle slung across his chest. Her first thought was that he was one of the UN soldiers, although she immediately dismissed the idea. The gear he wore was battered with the evidence of being used hard for years. The UN troops wouldn't have a mishmash of equipment, with the Czeck styled body armor, two different knee pads and a Soviet SKS rifle with a chinese scope. The most absurd bit was the ski mask, worn in the middle of a desert.
She heard someone coming to the room and squeaked softly as she huddled in the corner. When the door banged open, she cringed and watched one of the more brutal of the captors walk in looking for her. Before he could set eyes on her, the dark figure beside the door drifted to behind him, slipped powerful arms around and after a slight struggle and a rather ugly sounding crunch, dropped his body in a heap.
She blinked at the masked man, noticing the extended hand that he used to beckon them with, crooking two fingers at them to signal they should follow. "Quietly.." She hesitated and Jack took her by one arm to push her along. As soon as Jack moved her, the stranger slipped out through the doorway, disappearing down the dark hallway before they even stepped out. He reappeared again at the end, motioning urgently for them to move faster. Grace felt an irrational fear as they were escaping, feeling confused and somehow as if she would be caught and punished and perhaps it would be best to just go back to the room where it was safe.
Jack gave her a little shake. "Shhh.. come on.." His soft whisper woke her senses and she straightened and began to move under her own efforts. She was getting OUT of here right now, and if this stranger was helping her get out, great. If he was stealing her to the same fate elsewhere, she'd deal with that later.
Jack suddenly stopped as their rescuer held up a hand, peeping around the corner and then motioning for them to stay as he slipped away. Grace started forward and then stumbled backwards, muffling a scream of terror behind her fist shoved into her mouth. Their erstwhile rescuer was back with another of the kidnappers. He had a hand clamped over the man's mouth, muffling any outcry. A twist and both staggered into the wall, the terrorist slamming his opponent into the stones twice before he grappled him into a very uncomfortable headlock under one arm. Another twist and jerk and soft gagging noises started to issue from a partially crushed throat. Almost casually, the soldier slipped a large k-bar loose, paused a second to line it up just so, like a person trying to decide how to best divide a bit of cake between a pair of friends. Then he thrust it in the side of the neck, giving a funny little twist and holding on as the body thrashed and struggled in his arms. A slight wheeze was the ending statement from someone who had actually been walking and talking only a moment before. Grace wondered if he was one that had brutalized her or one that brought them water and hard bread to eat. Did he have a family or was his life one of kidnapping and beating innocents for money?
Jack pushed her again, and she noticed the man puffing out an annoyed breath and motioning again for her to move. They snuck out of the building and stopped all too soon for Grace's peace of mind. They were still against the building's outside wall for god's sake! She started forward and was waved back. She did pause but the urge to flee was too much and she scooted forward again, stepping out right in front of the walking guard who had just turned to go back to other way. Another few seconds and they could have crossed behind him unseen.. and now he was opening his mouth to yell, staring down at her terrified face and listening to her soft whimpers of fear.
The thunk sounded so loud and the warm spray across her face made her shut her mouth and step backwards. Her soldier had stepped up and slammed the giant scary knife right into the guard's neck. Instead of stopping, he slammed a fist into the dying man's face twice, letting him fall down and kick a few times. Then he grabbed an arm and dragged him behind a pile of crates, bending down and doing something out of her sight that made the leg she could still see jerk around a few times before it quit. He kicked that stray limb behind the crates and waved them down the roadway. She stood there until he came back and grabbed her arm to tug her along.
"Dang fool woman..." The muttered grumble was so soft she almost missed it. The tugs on her arm got her moving and she stumbled along the road behind him until he turned loose. Even though she kept moving, he looked back often to make certain she hadn't stopped. Jack stayed behind her.
They moved along several dark streets, stopping at every corner or open spot. The stranger's motions for them to continue became more urgent the longer they took. Jack tugged her to a stop again, both of them sinking to the ground against a brick wall while the shadowy figure crouched at the corner, peering around carefully. This time his back stiffened up and he rose to the balls of his feet as he watched another of the guards patrolling the area. Instead of watching him until he left their space, he tensed and Grace could clearly hear the footsteps as they came closer and closer. A shadow formed and began to grow larger on the street in front of her as the guard approached step by fateful step.
She watched the guard's elbow as he stopped right at the corner. Their rescuer was flattened against the wall lying in wait for him to come within reach so he could stick the giant knife into him like the others. Grace held her breath because she knew he could hear her breathing.. he might even hear her heart as it was pounding through her chest.
Impossibly, he turned and walked slowly back up the street away from them. The steady footsteps grew softer and she took a soft breath before she passed out. Jack's tight grip was hurting her elbow but she didn't pull away. They all stayed completely immobile until the noise of the treads faded completely. Then they were beckoned with the now familiar motion of the two fingers and headed across the road. All three started across, the soldier peering up the street for the now-departed guard.
The silence and their attempted stealth made the gunshots and yells seem all that much louder when they erupted. Grace saw their would-be rescuer suddenly stand up straight, his back arching in pain as a bullet drove into his lower back. The ugly rifle was scooped up smoothly and he twisted to face a guard that had apparently been standing in a small alcove out of sight. A single shot rang out from the rifle and the guard slumped into a now unthreatening heap.
"Get movin'! Now! Gawd damn it.." Grace was shoved along the street and broke into a run. Jack caught up with her seconds later and all three of them raced down the streets. Adrenalin pushed all of her exhaustion out of her body. Dimly seen figures ran towards them and were cut down by bullets from their rescuer, all of it seen only vaguely from her terrified eyes. Grace had to dodge around a body in the street. Turning, she could see the soldier gliding along in a low slung trot, rifle held to his cheek as he took out any living being that came into view other than their tiny pack of three. He was limping slightly and she wondered how long he'd be able to keep up.
The edge of the small town appeared as they continued up the road in the dark. Shouts and noise began to fill the buildings receding behind them and they ran and ran and ran, no buildings now, just empty darkness on all sides and Grace had no idea where she was or which direction to go. The rough voice at her elbow scared her. "Left.. left.. off the road! Get off the dang road, ya useless little fluff!" She dodged sideways away from him and tripped into a dip beside the road. Her arm was snatched up and she felt her weight lifted back onto her feet. "Up.. move!"
"I can't..." Her lungs were burning and even the sheer terror that he would stick the huge knife into her if she didn't obey him immediately couldn't make her run any further. "Please... don't kill me!"
"Leave her alone.." Jack was there, standing next to her and supporting her with a kind arm tucked around her waist. "I'll help her.. come on Grace, we can't stop." He lifted most of her weight and continued along a path they could barely see. The brush got thicker until it was a struggle for them to push through the reaching branches.
"Faster.." The harsh whisper came from behind them as their soldier followed them, rifle still held at the ready. Grace twisted enough to look back at him. He wasn't even breathing hard yet, gliding over the uneven ground, turning to aim the rifle back down the path watching for enemies. She stumbled slightly and almost took Jack down with her. Her friend dragged her upright again. Another harsh comment sent them to the left as the path divided. "Keep goin'!" Grace turned to look again and saw him stop and crouch at the first bend in the trail. Suddenly instead of fearing him, she feared he would abandon them. Jack pulled her along with him as he continued as fast as her exhausted legs would carry her.
They broke into a clearing and stumbled to a halt. "Jack... which way? What do we do?" Grace managed to keep her voice to a low whisper despite the lack of evidence of anyone out here. "Where are we?"
Jack was gulping in air, turning a circle as he searched for any sign of a path to follow. "I don't know.. " he hissed urgently. "There's got to be a trail..." His panic was barely under control.
A slight scuffing noise made them both whirl, Grace muffling a fearful cry as she saw a terrible figure come gliding out of the bushes without warning. Almost immediately she recognized the smooth run and reached out to grasp at the soldier's arm. "Where do we go? Who are you?"
He batted her hands away, impatiently shoving them both to one side. "Move... no time." He herded them unerringly to a barely visible path. "Up.. go... don't go back down that trail, it's booby-trapped now." Jack scrambled up the trail and she tried to follow. Her limbs felt so heavy she didn't know if she'd be able to make it much further. The only light was from a half moon overhead, casting a dim shadowy light on swaying bushes and scrubby trees. After another blur of climbing over rocks and scrambling up trails, Grace suddenly fell, her legs refusing to carry her another step. Jack heard her soft cry and came stumbling back to her.
He put a hand up to push the hard grip off her arm as the impatient soldier tried to force her back to her feet. Jack's voice rose slightly as he protested. "She can't! Grace needs to rest!" He tried to hover over Grace's panting form. "Leave her alone... just give us ten minutes to rest."
Cursing softly under his breath, their rescuer looked at the two gasping for breath at his feet and then suddenly turned to move a few feet back down the trail. "Five minutes... damn ya'll..." He crouched slightly, looking through the darkness, tension and anger evident in every line of his body. She watched him reach up and tug at a strap that had been repaired rather inexpertly with a bit of wire. The beat-up kevlar body armor was shifted back into place with another tug and a soft grumble. She watched him reaching to his lower back and wincing. "Dang it.. " She saw him look at his hand and grunt. Even in the dim light she could see the dark blood covering his hand.
Before she could ask if he was okay, there was a shout from in the distance. Grace tried to get to her feet but the soldier waved her back down. He stood, intently listening to the voices drifting to them faintly. Jack reached to put his arms around Grace and they sat still, trying to tell where the voices were coming from and more importantly, if they were getting closer. All three waited silently for a few minutes that seemed to stretch into hours.
Grace jumped and gasped when a low explosion sounded through the night. Before she could breathe out again, the soldier was up and urging them to move. Whatever had blown up down the path they'd taken, it had not reassured the man at all. Instead he was pulling them both to their feet and shoving them uphill. Jack staggered but stayed upright. Grace continued to fall every few steps, her abused body refusing to carry her any further despite her fear.
The soldier continued to push her along, hissing at her angrily when she fell again. Finally he slung the heavy rifle strap around his chest and grabbed her arm. She cringed away from him but he hefted her up to her feet and suddenly ducked down and lifted her over his shoulders. She felt the sturdy body jerk upwards to settle her into place. He hooked his right arm around one of her legs and wrapped a powerful hand around one of her arms to hold her in place across his back. It wasn't the most comfortable way to be carried on her part but she was afraid to protest. As soon as he had her positioned, he bounded up the trail behind Jack. Her friend was struggling but still moving determinedly along. At times Jack went to all fours to pull himself over rocks but he kept going.
Gracie clutched at the kevlar vest as she bounced on her rescuer's back. She blinked as she suddenly noticed the darkness beginning to lift. Lifting her head to peer around, she thought she could see the edge of sunrise creeping up on one of the horizons. There was another shout from far away and she grabbed tighter as the soldier stopped and twisted to listen. After a moment she could hear more voices behind them. The soldier snarled under his breath and headed back up the trail, crowding behind Jack in an attempt to force him to move faster.
"Ah can't carry both of ya'll... move it!" The growled orders made Jack increase his efforts to move quickly but Grace could hear the occasional voice growing closer. The light increased as morning came and the soldier began to crouch as he ran, trying to stay out of sight. From her perch on his back, she could turn her head and watch their back trail and so she was the first of the three to see one of the trackers following them as he came over a slight ridge. Her gasp of fear made the soldier pause and turn to look.
The distant figure shouted and pointed, spotting them through the light of the sunrise. Grace couldn't understand anything he shouted, but noted him looking back behind himself as if he shouted for others to hurry. They would overtake the three, then they would probably take them all back to more beatings and abuse and she wasn't certain she could take any more. Her paniced grasping at his arms made him swat upwards at her. She tried to force herself to calm down. The first crack of a rifle shot and the whine of the bullet passing within feet of them destroyed what little composure she had left. Her whimpers grew louder even as her soldier crouched into the brush, darting quickly through sparse limbs to catch up to Jack who had paused to look back for them. "Go!" sent Jack scurrying along, fear giving him energy that desperation had not.
More rifle shots sang out, although the bullets didn't come so close. The soldier paused and dug into a pocket in his pants to pull out a small hand mirror. Tilting it around, he seemed to be signaling the empty hills above them. After only a moment, he tucked the mirror away and continued up the path.
The next time a follower popped into sight behind them, Grace couldn't help the fearful cry. "Look out! They're coming! They're coming right now!" Ignoring her words, the tireless man carrying her continued, seemingly unconcerned about the enemy lifting a rifle to his shoulder to aim at them, their forms now exposed by the thin bushes they were trying to use as cover. Grace closed her eyes, waiting for the bullets to begin hitting her.
Yes, it's a cliffhanger. That's at least the same as my other fics. How does it look so far, and is there anyone who hasn't recognized the Joe yet?