Author's Notes: This is an alternate ending to the episode The Farm where Ed's not the only member of the team taken hostage. I dreamed most of this story and had to sit down and write what I could of it once I woke before I lost it all. This really doesn't have anything to do with Growing Up Too Fast but I suppose it could fit into the same time frame since this would happen before any of those events. The story starts off in the middle of the actual episode when Jules realizes Ed's been taken captured. It will be a two-parter and hopefully I'll have the second part up in a day or so along with chapter 61 of GUTF. Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: The show Flashpoint and its characters were created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern and belong to them and its perspective networks. I am making no money off this story and it is for entertainment purposes only. However, this particular story is my creation and should not be used without my express written permission.
"Sarge, they got Ed. I'm going in to take a closer look."
"Negative, they'll be looking for you. Stay clear and observe only. We're almost there."
Jules frowned as she copied his message. Her teammate was captured, possibly in danger, and she was being told to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Logically she knew Greg was right. She wouldn't do Ed any good if she was captured as well. And she would be outnumbered if she went in. Still it chaffed her to no end to know that she was helpless to do anything more than observe.
Following orders she stealthily made her way closer, trying to decide which building would give her the best rooftop advantage. Selecting one, she was about to climb the side when her radio crackled to life again and an unfamiliar voice filled her ear.
"Female officer in my compound, listen and listen carefully. I have your comrade right here and if you do not show yourself I will be forced to hurt him. If you do not want his blood on your hands, I suggest you come out now so we can try to settle this peacefully."
"Jules, hold your position." Greg warned through the cell phone feed knowing Charles Stewart wouldn't be able to hear him.
Charles continued. "Of course you have a choice, Constable. Come forward and save your comrade from being hurt or stay in your cowardly little hidey hole and know you cost him his life. You have until the count of ten to decide. 1...2..."
As the count continued, Jules frowned. She'd accepted Greg's order to stay hidden when he'd first given it because as much as she hated to wait, it had been the right choice. But now with Ed's life being threatened, surely that changed things. "Sarge, I've got to engage. Maybe I can negotiate Ed's release."
"It's too dangerous." Greg warned.
Jules flinched when the gun went off even though the shot was not directed at her. The bullet slammed into Ed's vest, the Kevlar protecting him from serious harm. Still Jules knew from experience that even taking a shot to the bullet proof vest was still incredibly painful. Every officer at some point during their training had experienced the sensation so that they would be prepared if and when it happened in the field. The only pain Jules could say was worse than the bruising force of high impact bullet colliding with the sudden stop of Kevlar was when armor piercing bullets weren't stopped by that vest and slammed full force into your actual body. Ed remained standing but he'd have a hell of a bruise later.
"Consider that a warning shot, Constable. One designed to let you know I am serious. The next shot won't hit his protective vest I can assure you. Step out where I can see you, Constable, or the next bullet goes between his eyes."
Jules frowned. "Sarge, he's serious. I can't sit back and do nothing. Maybe I can stall him with negotiations until the rest of you arrive. Even if I can't, I have to try."
"Be careful. We'll be there as soon as we can." Jules could hear the sigh of defeat in Sarge's voice and knew he didn't like granting her permission any more than she'd liked being told she had to wait earlier.
She keyed the radio back to the channel Stewart was using on Ed's confiscated comm link. "I'm coming out."
Jules emerged from behind the building she'd been about to scale, training her assault rifle straight on Stewart. Trying to negotiate from behind a loaded weapon wasn't ideal but she'd have to make due since she was without backup and Ed was being held at gunpoint.
Charles smiled and Ed looked unhappy as she came into view. Her steps were slow and measured. Her focus was on the primary threat of Charles Stewart but at the same time she was fully aware of the peripheral dangers of the other men in the compound.
"There you are. I'm glad you decided to join us." Stewart addressed her sounding more like she'd come for tea and not for a gun fight. "I would have hated for you to have to explain Constable Lane's death to his family. Now I'm sure we both want to avoid any possibility of the children being hit by stray bullets so my men will relieve you of your weapon so we can talk without that danger."
"Jules, don't give him your weapon." Ed warned even though that was exactly what he'd done to make sure Isaac had stayed safe earlier.
Jules could hear the pain in her friend's voice only because she knew him so well. Everyone on the team knew each other well enough to pick up on what others wouldn't. She shook her head answering Stewart rather than Ed. "I'm afraid I can't do that as long as you are threatening a hostage with your own weapon. Mr. Stewart, things will go more smoothly for you if you surrendered your gun and released Constable Lane."
Stewart merely laughed. "That's rich; the two of you come onto my property without cause and now want me to surrender my weapon. I don't think so. Not when I hold all the cards. I will ask you one more time to relinquish your gun willingly or it will be taken from you by force. If it comes to that, I'm afraid innocent lives might be taken in the process. Is that what you want? Maybe you need another incentive?"
Before she could protest, Charles fired a second shot straight into Ed's vest. There was no mistaking the pain on the usually stoic man's face. He sagged but Charles held him upright.
"I could be wrong here, Constable…" He looked at the name on her uniform. "Callaghan, but these vests do start losing their effectiveness the more shots they block, don't they? It might not hold up to another one."
"Jules….don't…" Ed wheezed out painfully.
But Jules couldn't take the chance. She could only hope the rest of the team was close. She lowered the muzzle and immediately three of Stewart's followers surged forward and were at her side. One man took the rifle from her as the other two each grabbed one of her arms. She struggled at their grasps but the man who had taken her rifle from her rammed the butt end sharply into her ribs. She folded inward but refused to call out or react more than a involuntary rush of air that expelled as the air was violently forced from her lungs. Her knees buckled but the two men holding her arms kept her from falling.
Her arms were wrenched behind her back and she felt her handcuffs being removed from their spot on her uniform. Before the metal clicked around her wrists she squeezed her fists shut tightly so that the cuffs would be looser later when she relaxed her muscles. She was glad to see that the cuffs weren't as tight as her captor could have made them in the first place. The man who had hit her also reached over and removed her radio, cutting off her contact with the rest of the team the same way they had Ed.
"What do you want us to do with them?"
Stewart frowned. "Take them to my office for now. I do not wish harm on them but I can't allow them to interfere with what's happening either. Someone stand guard but I need the rest of you getting things ready. I'm pretty sure we're going to have company soon and we're going to have to move our time table up."
The men nodded and one of the men who had grabbed Jules by the arm jerked her forward making her walk with him while the other took Ed from Stewart. The guy with her gun followed Stewart away from the captives. The men marched the two SRU officers across the compound into a small building and room. Jules wanted to struggle once more as she was forced into a chair but held back. Right now her handcuffs were relatively loose and she'd stand more of a chance of getting free if they believed she wasn't a problem. One of the cuffs was released in order to snake it behind the chair locking her in place. As it was clicked back around her wrist she once more made a fist. This time it was tighter, not quite biting into the flesh but not far from it. But at least the other hand was still relatively loose. The man who was going to guard them stepped right outside the room leaving Ed and Jules alone.
"You okay?" Jules whispered. She could only imagine the pain he was feeling from the two blasts he had taken from the gunshots earlier.
He nodded. "You?" She nodded that she was okay. They both knew the other was lying but neither pressed the issue. Ed frowned. "You should have stayed out of sight. We didn't both have to end up as hostages."
With a slight shrug, Jules relaxed her fists and made her hand as small as possible in the loose cuff, hoping to be able to slide it out. "Yeah, well, let's just say I didn't really relish the idea of going to another friend's funeral. Besides, breaking in a new TL would have been a real bitch."
Ed snorted and then groaned a little in pain. "Yeah, guess I wouldn't have liked that outcome either. Still, you think you can do that little Houdini trick of yours and …"
Jules held up her hand which was now free of the handcuff, a small smile on her face. "You mean this one? Come on, let's get out of here." She reached for her handcuff key and unlocked the cuff from her other wrist and then freed Ed from his shackles. Ed got into position behind the door and nodded to Jules who once more sat down like she was still handcuffed. "Hey get in here. He's not breathing. I think those shots must have hurt him worse than we thought. Come on help. You heard your boss; he doesn't want anything to happen to us."
The door opened and the man came barreling inside. He stopped about three feet from Jules when it finally registered to him that the other chair was empty. Before he could react, Ed tapped him on the shoulder and punched in him the face as the man turned around. With a nod to each other, the two SRU officers rushed toward the door. Ed wasn't as fast as Jules because of the pain in his chest.
Their escape was quickly noticed, and with a yell, Stewart and one of his men took off after them in pursuit. Jules could hear Ed breathing heavily behind her and wanted to turn to check on him but knew he'd ream her across the coals later if she did. But when she heard the thud of a body hitting the ground and Ed's muttered curse, she couldn't help but look back. Therefore she didn't see the man who had taken her gun from her step out into her path. Didn't see anything until once again something hard and unforgiving was swung like a baseball bat into her stomach. She went to her knees and a hard boot on her back forced her the rest of the way to the ground. She lay there trying to catch her breath.
"How did they escape?" Stewart demanded.
The man they'd gotten past in the office came running up holding both pairs of handcuffs. "Sorry Charles, they got out of their cuffs somehow. I think the girl must have slipped a hand free or something cause only one side of hers had been unlocked. They got the better of me. I'm sorry; I'll take full blame."
Charles shook his head. "No, I believe we'll put the blame on our two guests here. I can see now I was too nice. Take them to the barn and secure them to the posts in the front of the room - securely this time, so they aren't able to escape. Then assemble the others. It's time and the officers can join us in what will happen."
Jules felt the boot lift off her back and then her head exploded in sudden pain as the man who had been practically standing on her back grabbed her by her ponytail and gave her hair a good yank pulling her up. She couldn't help but cry out.
Ed tried to lurch out of his captor's arms to go to her aid but the man he'd temporarily knocked out in the office suddenly swung the butt of his pistol at Ed's head. The tactical leader's eyes rolled backward and he sank back to his knees as the blow rendered him unconscious.
Jules struggled as she was dragged toward the barn in the center of the compound. She was worried about Ed; blood was already trickling from the gash on his forehead where the gun had made contact. A head wound on top of the bruises from his chest couldn't be good. The man leading her gave her ponytail another good yank and growled at her to cooperate if she didn't want to end up like her friend. Jules stopped struggling as much knowing that one of them had to remain conscious if they were both going to get out of this alive. She said a silent prayer that the others were close.
Once in the barn she was practically thrown against a wooden post that helped to support the ceiling. Her arms were wrenched behind her back and she once more felt the metal of the cuffs bite into her wrists. She didn't have a chance to make a fist this time as the cuff was tightened painfully around her slender wrist. There would be no chance of sliding it free this time. The man grabbed her jaw and squeezed painfully.
"Sorry, too tight? Don't worry; you won't have to worry about it for long." He laughed and gave her cheek a stinging slap before walking away.
Jules glanced over at the post on the other side of the room and saw that Ed had also been handcuffed to the post. He had roused himself partially but was still only semiconscious. She wished he was close enough so that she could talk to him, check on him. Her mind was whirling. Rachel back at the gas station had said she needed to get away, needed to get Isaac away because Charles planned on killing the entire commune. That had to be the time table the deluded man had been referring to outside. Everyone was to be gathered into the barn and Charles was going to commit mass murder. Her heart began to pound. How did he plan on doing it and were she and Ed now two of his intended targets? Would he pull a true Jim Jones and put poison in a vat of Flavor Aid? Would the members of his community willingly end their lives after being led to the decision like lambs to the slaughter? Or would Stewart take the choice away from them and subject them to something whether they wanted it or not?
Jules frowned as she considered Ed's condition. In his mostly unconscious state, there was no way he could defend himself from whatever Stewart had planned. She'd come out of hiding in an attempt to protect him but how could she help him or even herself while handcuffed to a wooden post?
She couldn't give up though. She owed it to Ed and the rest of the team to do everything she could to stall for time; to keep the civilians and Ed and herself alive until Sam, Sarge, and the rest of the others arrived. Perhaps later - provided there was a later for her - she'd ponder the fact that even after she had ended things with Sam to protect their jobs, his name was the first in her mind. Was it wrong of her to want him to burst into the barn and take her into his arms and to hell with what anyone thought?
One of the men who had earlier captured her came into the barn dragging a metal drum barrel. If all she had was her mouth, then she'd use it for all she was worth. "Are you really going to kill all these innocent people just on Charles's order?"
"He knows what's best." The man muttered without meeting her eyes. He settled the drum not two feet away from the post she was shackled to.
"Do you really believe that?" Jules pressed on. "Do you really think all these people would be better off dead? That you would be better off dead? Or is it easier for you to just follow his orders blindly because you think it absolves you of any responsibility?"
Walking to her, he backhanded her across the mouth. Her head bounced back with the force or the blow and she tasted the coppery taste of blood in her mouth. But she took victory in two small things; one, her head did not hit the beam and render her dazed; and two, she knew she'd hit a nerve. A nerve she planned to keep hitting.
"You know this is wrong. What Stewart has planned is sick. Are you really okay with killing yourself and everyone else today? That's what Charles is asking you to do. He might be calling it something noble; saying he's saving all of you from something but it's really just murder. And if you help him, you'll be a murderer as well."
The man's eyes flashed but he didn't hit her again. "You've got a lot of nerve barging in here and trying to tell us how we should live. Charles takes care of us. We trust him. He's been there when we didn't have anybody else."
Jules recognized an opening in his words and pounced on it. "I'm not here to tell you how to live. That really is your business. I just want you and everyone else to be able to live that life however you choose. You can't live if you are dead. Right now for whatever reason Charles isn't taking care of you; he's killing you and that's just not fair. You accuse me of trying to tell you how to live and yet you are taking that choice away from everybody. Do you even know that they want to die today?"
The man shook his head but he didn't walk away. Jules continued. "I saw children when we were asking about Rachel. Beautiful children who haven't had a chance to really even begin their lives. Can you so easily kill them? Is that fair?"
The man lowered his head. "No, I can't do that."
A gunshot rang out for the third time since she'd been at the compound. This time it was so close that Jules could smell the gunpowder. She knew immediately that she hadn't been hit and was about to check on Ed when she noticed the growing red stain on the man's shirt in front of her. His eyes were wide with disbelief as he dropped to his knees. He was dead before he could hit the ground. His eyes were still open and staring up at her.
"His death is your fault." The man who had hit her twice in the ribs, stepped on her back and dragged her by her hair to the beam and then menacingly tightened the cuffs around her wrists stepped forward, the gun still in his hand. "You shouldn't have tried to turn him against us."
He placed the barrel of the gun against her cheek. It was still hot from recently being fired but Jules was too shocked to really notice the sting of the minor burn. Horrified she looked away from the dead man into the eyes of his killer. Fury rose in her. She shook her head.
"No, you can't blame his death on me. Not when you were going to kill him anyway. Were you afraid if he thought for himself he'd realize how wrong you are?"
The barrel dug into her cheek with bruising force. For a moment Jules thought he might shoot her as well. But then he smiled. "That's the trouble with women. They can't keep their mouths shut. You should learn to be quiet like your friend over there."
"He's all but unconscious you asshole." Jules muttered just barely loud enough to be heard.
The man laughed and placed the gun back in his waistband. "You know some guys really like a cheeky loud mouth woman." Then his eyes darkened and he back handed her much the way the man lying dead on the floor had earlier. "I'm not one of them."
Jules grunted in pain and was momentary dazed. She didn't think she'd be able to get anywhere with negotiating with this man.
"I could enjoy beating you as unconscious as your friend is." He confided in her. "Enjoy it a lot actually but I don't have time. I could hit you just one good time and do the same but what's the fun of that? I want you to know every second of what's going on. I just don't want to listen to you in the meantime."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. Squeezing her jaw, he pried her mouth open and stuffed the material inside so far she thought he was going to choke her with it. She gagged, partly because of the material triggering her gag reflex, and partly in revulsion at the thought of what other uses the handkerchief might have been used for since its last washing.
He admired his handiwork. "That will keep you quiet while we work."
Jules struggled uselessly against her bonds as he left. The only results she got for her actions was to further chaff her wrists and increase the pain in her bruised ribs. Ignoring her actions, the two men working closely enough with Stewart to know the plan moved about the room, bringing in more metal drums and setting them in various spots in the room. Jules's heart rate quickened as she realized the plan must be to gas the room as soon as everyone was inside. What agent would they use and would the team make it in time to stop them?
Jules began to take deep rapid breaths through her nose. She hoped by over oxygenating herself now, she'd be able to hold her breath longer later should the need arise. It was a trick they'd been taught during her training days that she'd hoped to never have to use.
The trusting innocents of the commune started filing in. The looks on their faces signaled their confusion as to why they were being gathered together during the middle of the day. Their confusion only deepened when they noticed the officers who'd been questioning them earlier were bound to the wooden posts. When they saw their friend dead on the ground at Jules's feet, the confusion turned to horror. Jules saw mothers bury their children's heads against their legs in an attempt to keep them from seeing.
Stewart stepped forward before their horror could get the better of them. "Friends, today is the day I have long feared would come but had hoped never to see. Outsiders have come in to threaten our way of life. They have killed James here and have worse fates prepared for the rest of us. We must defend ourselves at all costs. I will protect you from their heinous deeds. You do not have to fear what they have planned because I will not let them succeed."
Jules wanted to be able to spit out the gag and warn those assembled exactly what Stewart had planned for them. But the handkerchief was wedged in too far down the back of her throat for her to even use her tongue to try to dislodge it.
The man who had killed James and the one who had chained Ed to the post moved to the drums on opposite sides of the room and held a container over their heads as if waiting for a signal. Jules could only imagine that the barrels held some sort of liquid that once combined with the solid in the container would create some sort of poisonous gas.
Instinct told her to hold her breath but she waited. She might need every available second of held breath she could get to survive what appeared to be about to happen. She needed to wait until the last possible second to start holding her breath.
If the assembled crowd knew what was about to happen, they didn't seem concerned. Stewart stepped to the drum in the center of the room and also lifted up a container. He nodded to the other two, giving them the signal they'd been waiting for. The three men dumped the contents of the containers into the drums before moving to do the same in the others. Immediately, the barrels began to fizzle and smoke bubbled over. Now people began to scream in sudden fright. Several rushed to the door only to find it locked.
Stewart issued comforting words that now fell on deaf ears. Panic was setting in as people realized they had no chance to escape. They began to cough violently as they pounded on the door for help.
"This is Sam Braddock with the Police Strategic Response Unit. Move away from the doors. We're coming in."
Not even during those months they actually dated had Sam's voice been as welcoming as it now was to Jules. It meant help had arrived and maybe no one would have to die today. The assembled crowd didn't appear to be listening to Sam though any more than they had listened to Stewart after the smoke began to fill the room. They were still rushing the door, pounding on it as if it would suddenly open. The first time the ram hit the door, however, the people fell back a safe distance, coughing at the smoke threatening to choke them.
Jules's eyes were watering from the smoke making it hard for her to see. However, she could see well enough to notice Stewart suddenly grab Isaac and pull him toward a back door toward escape. A blur of uniforms passed the window on the outside alerting Jules to the fact that her teammates had noticed his escape and were in pursuit.
The door burst inward under the assault of the door ram and the crowd surged forward trying to escape the deadly gas. Strong, authoritative voices, muffled slightly by masks designed to protect the wearer, ordered the people to calmly make their way to fresh air.
Her lungs were bursting for air but Jules refused to give in to the need to breathe. She knew she wasn't safe just yet. It would still be a few minutes before her teammates could even think about rescuing her and Ed. Priority of life dictated that the civilians be rescued first. Despite their worry for their captured friends, the remaining members of Team 1 would have to ensure the safety of Stewart's followers before they could even think to look for Jules and Ed.
Black dots of darkness were dancing before her eyes by the time she heard a familiar voice call her name. The sound seemed to come from a distance, like Wordy was calling to her from the opposite end of a long tunnel instead of standing right in front of her. Her head lolled to one side trying to look at him and even in her distressed state, she could see the concern on his face behind the mask. He was about to step behind her to unfastened the cuffs but she shook her head. At his frown, she indicated Ed with a head bop in his direction, indicating Wordy should rescue him first. It made sense to her. She was holding her breath and had yet to breathe in any of the deadly gas but Ed, being semiconscious, hadn't been so fortunate.
Wordy frowned. He knew what she was asking of him but he also knew that Ed would have his hide if he didn't evacuate by reverse seniority. Finally he nodded and left her still shackled to the post. It was obvious Ed was hurt worse and was breathing in more and more of the deadly gas with each passing second. Ed might ream him across the coals later but at least it would mean he was alive to do so.
Jules watched as Wordy unlocked the handcuffs holding Ed to the post. She hoped it would be in time before the gas that was still swirling around the room despite the open doors did its deadly damage. Wordy lifted Ed over his shoulders in a standard fireman's carry and headed toward the door.
She wasn't sure how much longer she'd be able to continue holding her breath. Her lungs were burning with the need to take in oxygen and she could feel her consciousness waning. It would be so easy to give into the darkness nibbling at the edges of her awareness but she knew that would mean certain death. Knew that if she passed out now her body's need for oxygen would kick in and she'd involuntarily take in huge gulps of air that would circulate the poison gas through her body with greater speed than if she'd allowed herself to breathe regularly from the moment the powder had been dropped.
Rather than let that happen, she took a small tentative breath through her mouth. She hoped that a few small sniper size breaths would keep her from passing out and that the vile handkerchief in her mouth would filter out the majority of the poison.
She was dizzy from the lack of oxygen that not even her small breaths could appease. She felt herself slipping to the floor, her arms scrapping against the wooden beam, as her legs refused to hold her any longer. Vaguely she heard Wordy call her name again, this time he sounded even further away than he had the last time. She forced herself to pay attention to what he was saying when Wordy shook her shoulder.
"Jules, hold your breath for just a second more. I need to take the gag out of your mouth so I can put a mask on you."
Her body protested holding her breath again; it was so in need of oxygen but the idea of getting rid of the gag was more appealing than losing the cuffs. She gave a brief nod and sucked in a quick breath and held it as he pulled the handkerchief from her mouth. Almost immediately he slipped a gas mask over her head and tightened the straps so that it was snug against her face. Now protected from the deadly gas, Jules greedily sucked in air but could still feel her strength waning.
Wordy moved behind her and made short work of unlocking the cuffs. Jules was relieved to have the biting metal removed from around her wrists. As Wordy helped her to her feet, she wanted to let him know that she was okay to walk out on her own but her body wouldn't respond. Instead, Wordy scooped her up in his arms and ran to the door.
Once in the fresh air, Wordy eased her to the ground. He slipped the gas mask from her face and frowned down at her in concern. "Take some deep breaths of clean air. Damn, the two of you had us scared."
"Sorry." Jules muttered as she began to cough bitterly from trying to take in enough oxygen to satisfy the need her body was demanding. "Not sure what kind of gas that was."
"We've got Haz mat coming in. We're setting up routine decontamination just to be safe. You know we got to get you out of your uniform since it's been contaminated. I'd get Leah over here to help you but she's tied up helping decontaminate the women from the compound."
Jules shook her head. The civilians came first. It was the way it had to be. Which meant Ed would still be delayed getting medical attention. She glanced around. "How's Ed?"
"A medic is checking him out. Don't worry about him. If I hold up a decom blanket to shield you, you think you can get out of your uniform by yourself?"
She shrugged ever so slightly. "Yeah. Medic? Before the civilians? But priority of life…"
Wordy grinned grabbing a blanket from a kit someone had dropped nearby. "In the medic's words, 'screw priority of life, I deal with triage and triage says the worst off get treated first regardless to who it is.' I don't think any of us wanted to argue with him. We're taking precautions with the civilians but it looks like we got them out before they could be injured. Wish we could have done the same for the two of you."
"Stewart got away with Isaac." Jules reported between coughs. She slipped out of her clothes as Wordy held the blanket shielding her from anyone's eyes. The movement cause her sore ribs to protest but she tried to suppress the groans of pain.
"Sam and Sarge saw him and pursued. They'll do everything possible to protect Isaac." Wordy handed her the sterile scrubs from the kit to put on after removing her clothes and she gratefully accepted them. "We had eyes in before they dropped the powder into the drums so we've got the guys helping Stewart contained."
Jules nodded, glad that the nightmare was just about over. Dressed in the scrubs Wordy had given her, Jules stood, determined to check on Ed. A wave of dizziness washed over and she swayed as her knees buckled. The events of the afternoon proved too much and darkness finally closed over her.