Jared Padalecki was playing cards with his buddies and fellow SWAT Team officers Jason Manns and Chad Michael Murray when the alarm sounded. Cards forgotten, they geared up and rushed to the waiting vehicles with the rest of their unit.
Captain Charles Malik Whitfield quickly briefed them about the mission, making sure everyone knew this was going to be one dangerous operation. There were weapons involved. Not just the weapons the team was carrying and what could be expected on the targets, but a shipload of high caliber rifles, semi-automatics and even rocket launchers were in the mix.
Jared considered all this as he pulled down his balaclava and added the helmet. A quick glance into his friends' eyes assured him they were equally focused.
"Remember, be discrete, observe, and act on my mark, no matter who or what you see," Captain Whitfield repeated. Jared frowned under his gear. That was not something the Captain - or Charlie, as they called him off duty - usually emphasized. He must have known something they didn't, and felt they shouldn't know beforehand.
The drive to the abandoned warehouse was relatively short and like the well trained unit they were, Jared's team smoothly found their spots to wait for Captain Whitfield's signal. Jared knew there were weapons involved and that there were roughly eight to ten perps, about the same number as the count in his unit. So they needed to be alert and on point.
They arrived at an abandoned industrial area. It had once been the center of a conglomerate of firms and factories, but due to an accident with radioactive material it had to be abandoned. That had been many years ago, before Jared had been born. Now, roughly three years ago, new probes and tests showed the radiation level was back to normal yet no firm, company or similar had been willing to revive the place. It was a plot full of ghost buildings.
Jared and his team got dropped at the edge of the ghost plot. They had been briefed with a map during the drive, as well as a blurry picture of one of the big guns who were meeting. A man known as JD.
When they reached a building in the rough center of the ghost plot, Jared noticed a black SUV with plates indicating the local PD. He frowned. He'd not been aware the police were already present. Charlie hadn't mentioned that. A glance over to Jason told Jared, he'd found more vehicles on his side.
Using only hand signals, Jared's team silently entered the building in question, sneaking closer to where they could hear the muffled voices of a conversation.
"Take positions. Wait for go," the intercom in Jared's ear buzzed. Jared found a great spot. Mostly hidden by whatever machinery, he had a full view on the curious meeting taking place. He was situated at the bottom right corner of a rectangular open space, having a view on the two incongruent parties.
With the backs mostly to him were only two men, dressed in suits, one of them sporting a bald head Jared could have sworn he knew. He was talking to a man opposite him that could match the blurry picture of JD. JD was flanked by six sidekicks, two of which appeared to be fairly young. The others, just like JD, were middle aged, all training guns at the two suited men.
"Tango Zulu in position," Jared softly stated, pressing the intercom. "Full visual."
"Juliet Mike, copy and dito." Jason's reply was instant.
"Charlie X-ray, copy. Restricted visual," Chad informed his team. Most of the team, but for Jared and Jason, only had a limited view on the scene.
"Alpha Charlie. Understood. Wait for signal. Take down both sides," Charles Whitfield commanded.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan had an uneasy feeling tickling the deepest pit of his stomach. Something about this meeting with Mitch and whatever his name was didn't sit right. Jeffrey, or JD as they called him, had met with Mitch several times over the past two years and never had had any reason to distrust the man. Tonight, however, something seemed off, and it bugged JD that he didn't know what triggered his Spidey-senses.
"Come on, Mitch," JD called. "Same deal as always. It's three crates of fire power, it gets the usual amount of dead presidents, even if Jack here does the transaction. Gotta train the new blood some time, right?"
Mitch however, wasn't too happy about not seeing JD in the eye for this transaction. Jack, a young, blond guy standing next to JD, face stoic and impassive, had been there for transaction the last few times already, but usually was confined to background guard work. Same as the other young man next to him.
"I'm warning you, JD. You know what's at risk for me," Mitch replied. "If precious Jack messes up...," Mitch didn't finish with words, but with a hand gesture. JD frowned. And if Mitch wasn't totally blind, Jack's eyebrows narrowed, causing Mitch to briefly focus on the distinct scar on Jack's right temple.
"Jack is trustworthy. Which, right now, I can't say about you, Chief Inspector," JD countered icily. He was satisfied seeing Mitch tense at the form of address. "So, do we have a deal?"
Mitch straightened up at that, his partner shooting nervous glances at him. This wasn't playing out the way he'd anticipated. But Mitch knew, if he backed out now, him and his partner in crime would be bird food. He had no choice but to take the bull by the horns and play nice. Jack stepped up, getting ahead of JD.
"Do we have a deal?" He repeated JD's words with a firm voice. Mitch waited a few heartbeats and then nodded.
"Tango Zulu, close in with team," Jared's intercom buzzed to life. "Wait for command."
Jared knew his team had gotten the order and moved up accordingly. He expected the Go at the moment the actual trade was being made.
From his new spot he saw the young man step up and repeat the question JD had posed. Jack's voice had sent an involuntary shiver down Jared's spine that luckily he managed to shake right off.
Jared took aim at the young man when subsequently he approached to hand over the mafia money to Mitch. Chief Inspector. Jared could worry about the significance of this later. Right now he had to focus on the task at hand.
As Jack stepped into the light, Jared heard the intercom crackle a clipped "go" in his ear. His finger tightened on the trigger, aiming for Jack's right shoulder, to put him out of action. Right then the light of one of the makeshift spotlights illuminated Jack's face and Jared almost seized up. He knew that face. He knew that scar.
The shot rang out and Jack went down, grabbing his right shoulder as Jared's bullet winged him and all hell broke loose.
"You filthy traitor!" JD roared as he hastily scrambled to take cover. "Jenkins, GO!"
Suddenly, from the depths of the building, a whole mass of JD's people swarmed the place, forcing Jared's team to take cover instead of attacking. They were grossly outnumbered.
Jared didn't know why his brain wasn't reacting the way it was trained to, but his blink of an eye distraction caused him to inexplicably be seperated from formation. Instead of being the front of the attacking line he found himself surrounded. He had to get back to his team.
Diving for cover, Jared heard a bullet zing past and his eyes moved on their own volition, seeking out Jack. Jack was keeping his head down, trying to minimize any target he gave. He used a brief pause in the fire to crawl a bit towards safety, where he was met by the other young man on JD's side for support.
The next pause in fire, Jared noticed an opening and gunned for it. It was his chance to get back into his line. Watching Jack save himself had deflected his focus and as Jared got into a crouch to run, it was only a few steps he managed to go before the floor in front of him exploded into a zillion pieces as a grenade, as he guessed, hit, and his consciousness froze and then faded.
JD had taken cover behind a few man sized metal crates as the crossfire had begun. He couldn't believe Mitch would set him up like that. His eyes searched out Jack on the ground. He'd gone down with the first shot and JD found himself relax slightly when he saw Jack inching his way towards cover until Ben ran up to him to give him a hand.
Jack was JD's biggest hope to take over his empire one day. If he'd been killed... JD forced himself not to finish that thought. The kid was like his son. When he'd napped the boy some seventeen years ago, it had been to try and assuage the pain of the loss of his own boy who - in the moment of a temper tantrum - had run across the street just to be hit by a bus. Jeffrey Junior aka JJ had been instantly killed. He'd been six years old and the only kid JD had had.
His empire needed an heir and he wasn't ready to start over, so a few weeks onwards, JD had come across this young fellow he'd watched playing outside with an older boy. He'd actually reminded him of JJ and JD hadn't hesitated ordering the napping.
He'd called the boy Jack, found out he was actually a year younger than JJ had been, but showed a good bit more promise than his own boy had. Three weeks later the boy had stopped correcting him when he'd called him Jack. Today, JD was sure Jack had no more memories of who he'd been the first five years of his life.
Jack had been a quick study, a great fighter, an even better marksman and it was time he'd get eased into calling the shots. Jack and Ben found cover behind another of these crates and JD returned his focus on the open patch in the building.
Mitch and his buddy were sprawled out, unmoving, along with another person who looked like a member of a SWAT team. JD's men had advanced, pushing the rest of the SWAT team back. JD noticed Chuck standing over the fallen police man, gun aimed at the head.
"Chuck!" JD boomed, stepping out of his cover. "Live hostage!"
Chuck looked at him and nodded, then knelt down to secure the unconscious fighter with a couple of handcuffs. He directed two of JD's men to get their hostage stowed in their pickup and, motioning towards Ben and Jack, JD made to get to transport and out of this mouse trap. The rest of his people would follow eventually.
Ben was steering the pickup, hostage stretched out in the cargo area, a bleeding Jack next to him, as he stopped briefly to take on JD.
"Jack, you good?" JD asked, taking in the blood soaked sleeve of Jack's shirt.
"Just a scratch, JD. I'll live," Jack replied with a tight smile. JD nodded and looked at Ben, who was sporting a scowl.
"Something wrong, Ben?"
Ben met his eyes briefly before focussing on the road. "Nope. Just wondering what we're gonna do with the helmet in the back."
"He's insurance," JD explained.
"You think Mitch snitched us out?" Jack asked.
"Looks like. Never would have expected that," JD nodded. "Good thing I always have my backup team there, no matter how well I know my trading partners."
"Well, he ratted us out, he got what he deserved. Saw a bullet splatter his brains all over," Ben added, gripping the wheel tight as he rounded a corner. "What are we gonna do with our hostage?"
"He'll be in the dungeon," JD decided. "Jack, you and Ben take turns watching him. Get confirmation that Mitch was a snitch."
"Right," Jack nodded. "And when we have that?"