Jan 20, 2013

Beginner's Luck - 24 Fan Fic - All audiences

Here's another one of my 24 fanfic stories.
No time frame, really.
I had fun writing it, so I hope you'll enjoy the read.

Beginner’s Luck.

Three days had passed since he got there.
Three days of taking in the sun – not that he wasn’t used to the sun ‘back home’, he usually didn’t have the time to take it in.
Three days of tranquility.
Peace and quiet.
Now that was a change!
Usually his days were filled with phone calls, files to read, briefings to attend and gunfire … or worse.

But now.
No, not now.
Now, he was shooting too, but he was shooting pictures, not terrorists. The sights were even more beautiful in reality, the brochures hardly did them any justice. His digital camera was doing wonders, his super-sized memory card and big stack of spare batteries helped him get through the day without frustration and his keen eye did the rest.
Every night, he transferred the day’s ‘bounty’ to his laptop and charged the batteries, preparing for the next day.
He had four of them left.

Four more days without annoying phone calls, buzzing computers and – most importantly – without hard-headed terrorists.
Four more days of peace.
Four more days of letting others take care of things for a change.


Today was local-market-day.
He knew better than to take his camera there, he was sure to ‘lose’ it in a heartbeat.
His wallet was empty but for his driver’s license, his cash spread out across different pockets of his pants and light, sleeveless jacket. Even if they emptied one, he’d still have more money on him. His ‘plastic’ was in his hotel safe and he didn’t carry anything on him that could identify either his hotel or his room number.

After a while on the main market place, having seen most of what was offered there, he wandered off into the side streets, discovering hidden treasures as he went. Not everything could be found on the market and if you wanted a sample of the real life, of the real culture, these were the places to go to. Here, things were well worth buying.
And with an extra tip, he had the goods sent to his hotel. They would be waiting for him at reception and he kept his hands free, unlike most of the tourists who spent their hard-earned money at the market.


He came to a small square and stopped for a quick meal, hoping to stay ahead of lunch-hour rush.
Even they encountered the problem.

Leaving the place after a more than decent meal, he wondered if he should circle back to the market place, but decided against it. There was nothing more to see. Instead, he headed further away, more to the outskirts and the so-called ‘rough’ areas.
They weren’t rough to him.
If you kept your eyes open and gave a no-nonsense impression, nothing usually happened.


When something did happen, he wasn’t even directly involved.
It happened up ahead.
The sound of roaring engines suddenly cut through the day, followed by screams and – what made him react at once – gunfire!
He shot forward, closing in on the corner of the street with rapid strides, realizing too late he wasn’t carrying a weapon and would stumble head over heels into a gunfight. By then, his momentum had carried him out into the open and into the situation already. With bullets flying in his direction, he did the only thing he could do and dove for cover, finding only meager behind a fallen dirt bike on his left. He stayed down, hoping to fool whoever was shooting at him and bullets stopped nipping at things around him.
Luckily, none of them had hit home.

What the hell was he doing there?

He couldn’t fire back.
Hell, he didn’t even know who was shooting at who.
It could be rivaling gangs.
It could be the police.
He had no idea and yet, he had thrown himself in the middle of it.

Now what?


Peeking up, he saw three men in brown overalls, sporting automatic rifles.
He saw no badges or name tags or anything that might help identify these people.
Or the group they belonged to.
One of them was coming his way, but he wasn’t looking at him.
The man didn’t notice him peeking up from behind the bike. It gave him one shot at getting the hell out of there.

He jumped up, heaving the bike up in the same action, swung his leg and kick-started the engine, bringing it to life with a roar. He gunned it at once and twisted the handlebars, making the bike spin and kick up dirt. It did the trick of surprising the machinegun-toting goon who took a shower of dirt over him, which caused him to jerk back and turn away.
It gave him a clean getaway.

Or so he hoped.

One – or both – of the others opened fire on him, trying to prevent his escape and he threw himself as flat as he possibly could, twisting the handle as far as it would go, speeding away at full throttle. Seconds later, he cleared the intersection, dashing between houses. He kept his speed high though. He had no intention of getting sucked back into whatever had happened there.
Checking his rear, he saw two dirt bikes coming after him and he cursed.
They weren’t going to let him get away.
Even though he had obviously just ‘stumbled’ into things and had no part to play in whatever was going on.

He quickly discovered they had a serious advantage on him.
They knew where they were, he didn’t.
It forced him to slow down.
It allowed them to gain.
Gaining on him also allowed them to take a few more shots at him.

With bullets whizzing around his head, he couldn’t keep all of his attention on where he was going. He had to split it between the road ahead and the danger behind.
Splitting his attention was what made him miss the wire.
When he saw it, it was too late to limit the impact.
The brakes would serve him no good.
He didn’t even get a chance to try them.
His front tire hit the wire and he felt the machine coming to a sudden stop beneath him, bucking its rear up. His momentum and the bike’s bucking motion carried him over the handlebars, ejecting him savagely from the saddle. Bracing for impact, he thanked his lucky stars for the packed dirt instead of concrete and hit the ground hard, rolling to limit the damage.

Rolling to limit the damage was usually a good idea.
It wasn’t all too terrific when your speed was as high as his.
It was even worse when it set you on a collision course with a brick wall.
He hit the corner of the house legs first. Arms wrapped around his head for protection, he could do nothing to slow his roll and he felt – and heard – the bone snap under the impact.
His cry of pain was cut off an instant later when the rest of his body slammed into the wall. The impact knocked the wind right out of him and he slumped to the ground, his body practically hugging the wall that had stopped his roll with breathtaking determination.

Over the thumping of his blood in his veins, he heard the engines throttle down and when he looked up, he saw both bikes clearing the wire now that it had been lowered again. They advanced slowly, weapons aimed in his direction over the handlebars. It became obvious they had no intention of simply gunning him down. He wouldn’t be breathing anymore if they did.
One of them dismounted while the other kept his weapon trained on him.
The man yelled something at him, but he didn’t speak the language so he didn’t understand.
He figured it would be something along the lines of ‘Keep your hands where I can see them’ or ‘Put your hands on your head’, which were two things he would probably be yelling in this type of situation.
He kept his head down and his hands on top of it, posing no threat whatsoever and praying he wouldn’t take a bullet.

When it was his time to go, he wanted to see it coming.
If they shot him now, he wouldn’t see any of it coming.

The guy dropped his weight on him, making him grunt as the air was once more forced out of his lungs. Very quickly, the man locked handcuffs on him, securing his arms behind his back. The weight came off and the man pulled him to his feet, making him yelp in pain and nearly fall flat on his face because his right leg wasn’t supporting any of his weight. The guy held him though, pulling him closer again while tightening his grip and he snapped something, still in their own language.
He still didn’t understand and shook his head.

“English,” he said, “I broke my leg.”
The guy pushed him, but he resisted the impulse.
There was no way he could walk.
“My leg,” he repeated, looking at the other one still perched on his bike, “I broke my leg.”

Even if they didn’t understand English, they had to understand he was trying to tell them something and from the grimace on his face, they shouldn’t have any trouble determining he was in pain. And he wasn’t resting any weight on his right leg, leaning all of it on his left.
The second man said something and the first pulled him around, forcing him to balance on the tip of his toes to keep from falling. It sent a searing hot flash of pain through him and he felt himself break out in cold sweat.
If they kept this up, he would pass out.

“Sit!” the guy snapped, shoving him.

He had no other option but to bend his leg and try to keep his right leg clear, which – of course – he couldn’t.
Wincing, he maneuvered himself in a less painful position once the guy let go of him.
Breathing hard and trying to keep his wits about him, he focused on his leg, isolating the pain. Once isolated, he could block it more effectively and get back in control of himself.
By now, the second guy was on the radio, yapping away into it, then listening, then yapping some more.
He had no idea what was being said and they didn’t tell him either.
He refrained from asking.
He was sure he’d find out soon enough.


He didn’t have to wait long.
Minutes later, a military jeep pulled up and three men jumped out, all dressed in the same brown overalls. They were armed as well, gun belt and automatic rifle on two of them, double gun belt for the driver.

“Up!” one of them snapped, stopping in front of him, hands on his hips.

“I can’t.”

“Get up!” the man snapped again, putting his hand on his gun.

“I have a broken leg, I can’t get up,” he repeated, “not on my own anyway.”

The driver shoved the other one away and took him by the arm, the right arm.
“Get up.” he said, in a much more civilized manner than his friend.

He pulled his left leg up and with the man’s help, pushed up, keeping his right leg out of the equation this time.
With a nod, the third man understood his help was needed and together they helped him to the jeep, getting him into the front passenger seat and securing him with the seatbelt.
Not a word was said and they pulled away from the scene of the ‘accident’.
These guys didn’t show any visible signs of any type of organization either and he wondered what the heck he had gotten himself into. If these guys weren’t officials of some kind, he might be in more trouble than he had bargained for. If they were officials, he’d be able to clear things out quickly enough.
At least he hoped so.


The place looked like a prison, but he could be seriously mistaking.
He should’ve taken more time to check into possible ‘hostile’ activity in the area.
It might’ve given him an edge.
Or at least the advantage of knowing who he was dealing with.

They parked behind a large building and got him out of the jeep, handling him as before, which was sternly but without unnecessary use of violence. They weren’t roughing him up.
Once inside, they didn’t process him but took him straight to a cell.
He didn’t know if it was a holding cell or not, but he was alone in it, which was good. He didn’t need any kind of company who might get upset at him for having the wrong hair color. He couldn’t stand on his leg and a fight was the last thing he needed right now. Besides, they didn’t remove the cuffs. He would have no way of defending himself against anything.

Leg throbbing painfully, he stayed on the bunk where they had put him and did the only thing he could, wait.


He had no idea how long he had been there when he heard the lock turn.
Looking up at whoever came in, he didn’t make a move. It probably saved him from a free bashing. Two men came in, long wooden batons in hand. They stood at attention on either side of the door, batons ready for use should he decide to make a move they didn’t want him to.
An officer walked in, followed by the jeep driver.
This time, he could tell what organization they belonged to. They were local law enforcement. At least he hadn’t gotten entangled with the local wannabe terrorists or a bunch of runaway rebels. It allowed him to drop some of his anxiety.

“What is your name?” the officer asked, his English all but perfect.
It didn’t need to be for such a simple question.

“Jack Bauer.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m on vacation.”
It sounded so ridiculous.

“Vacation?” the officer repeated to which the driver quickly translated.
It got him a questioning look.
“Who are you, mister Bauer?”

“I’m a Federal agent.” Jack said truthfully.


“I work for the United States government.” Jack explained before the driver could translate.


“Not really.”


“Something like that, yes.”

“Something like?” the officer replied, curling his nose as if he suddenly smelled something rotten.

“I work for the government but not for the FBI.” Jack tried to clarify.


“No.” Jack said, suppressing a sigh.
Those batons looked dangerously efficient.

“What is that?” the officer snapped even before Jack had a chance to explain.

“Counter terrorist-”

Terrorist?” the officer snapped again, interrupting him.
“No terrorist here!”

“I know.” Jack said, “I’m on vacation. I’m not working.”

“Not working? You spy!” the man spat.

“No, I’m not a spy. I’m visiting.”

“You spy on us.” the officer repeated, “You are taking pictures everywhere.”

It didn’t come as a surprise.
He knew he had been watched.
He didn’t know who was doing the watching though.
Now he did.

“Of course I’m taking pictures, I’m visiting your country.” he said, trying to keep the conversation under control, “The pictures are souvenirs, to remember what I saw here.”

“Yes, to sell information to our enemy.”


The guy snapped something in his own language and the batons moved.
Bracing for impact, Jack watched the two goons approach, but the batons didn’t come into action.
Not just yet.
He had a feeling they would soon enough.
They grabbed him and hauled him to his feet, disregarding the broken leg.
He was yet to receive as little as a painkiller.

They didn’t take him very far.
Just a few doors down the hall.
This was without any doubt an interrogation room.
The blood stains on the floor said enough.
No cameras or microphones, no two-way mirrors or high-tech toys to convince a detainee to talk, only the prisoner, the interrogator and a whole hell of a lot of pain.

For starters, they left the cuffs on and tied a rope around his elbows, pulling them together behind his back. He had a choice between putting his weight on his legs or on his arms. He wasn’t quite certain which would be more painful at this point. He was bound to find out.
Very soon.

The officer came in again and took a seat.
The driver stood next to him, the two baton-wielding goons stood on either side of Jack.
For now, they were in front of him. He could see them.
He would see their blows coming.

“What is your name?” the officer repeated.

“My name is Jack Bauer,” Jack repeated as well, “I work for the United States government-”
He took a first punch.

“I asked your name.” the officer said.

Jack kept himself in check.
There was no blood as of yet.
It had been a warning.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m on vacation,” Jack replied quietly, “visiting your country.”

“Where are you staying?”

“The Rhiad Hotel.”

“What is your room number?”

“Four three seven.”

“Are you alone?”


“What are you doing here?”


“Visiting what?”

“What every tourist visits.”
It earned him another punch.
Still no blood though.

“Tourist take pictures.”

“You know I’ve been taking pictures.” Jack replied, “That’s why you think I’m a spy. Because I’m taking pictures to sell to your enemy.”

At a nod, he took a hard blow to the gut.
He’d braced for it, but what he couldn’t brace for, was the effect it had on his balance.
His right leg couldn’t carry him and he understood hanging his weight from his arms was the least interesting option he had.
Thankfully, the goon who had landed the punch also pulled him back onto his feet.
The cold sweat was back.

“You are not taking picture today.” the officer stated, “What are you visiting today?”

“I went to the market.”

“You go to market?”


“But you buy nothing.”

“I bought some things at a shop near the market. They’re taking it to my hotel so I don’t have to carry it with me all day.”

“You buy what?” the officer asked, “Where?”

“I don’t know where,” Jack replied, “it’s a small shop near the marketplace. I bought some local craft. Souvenirs.”

Again, the officer curled his nose up and shook his head.
“No. You are a spy.”
He got up from the chair.
“You will tell me later.”
He turned and left the room, followed by the driver.

The goons on the other hand, stayed in the cell with him and from the looks of them, this was going to hurt.


One of them circled behind and while Jack expected the worst, he got possibly the best. The goon grabbed him by the arms as if he were holding him up for his buddy. It took all of the strain off his arms and most off his leg as well since it allowed him to lean his weight into the guy.
What little benefit he could find, he used.
From the turn of events, he gathered there wouldn’t be much to find at all.

The guy pounded the crap out of him, mainly aiming for his chest and gut, taking a few shots at his face, be it without conviction.
This was a first serious warning but still they drew no blood on him.
When the guy stood up straight again, signaling either a break or the end of the beating, Jack was having trouble breathing. His chest was on fire and his gut throbbed in sync with his leg. The guy lifted his face – probably to see the pain in his eyes. In doing so, he revealed just how much effort he had put into it. His face was flushed and sweat ran down from his hairline.
He was breathing harder than Jack.
He spat something in his tongue, a menace of some kind probably, sounding like a vicious hiss to Jack. It went to waste since Jack still didn’t understand their language. The other chuckled at his buddy’s words and let go of Jack’s arms. He didn’t do it too suddenly though, giving Jack a small advantage on gravity. It helped to keep the pressure on his leg down to a minimum.
It didn’t look like they were going to trade places for another round of this, but he wasn’t going to pin his hopes on that.
They did in fact leave, locking up behind them and leaving him alone.

Not much later, they came back in the officer’s wake, the goon now looking refreshed.
Jack bit his tongue to keep from saying anything that would only get him a free beating and kept his attention on the officer instead.

“Your name?” the officer snapped, coming to a halt in front of Jack.

Maybe the guy was hard of hearing.
Or maybe he had a problem with his short-term memory.’
“Jack Bauer.”

“Are you a spy, Jack Bauer?”


“I do not believe.”

“Yeah, I think I got that part.” Jack replied coldly, eyes locked on the guy.

He wasn’t afraid of him.
Or his ‘henchmen’.
If their roughing-up left the guy on the receiving end of the beating in better shape than the one dealing it out, they weren’t bad enough to scare him.

“Look,” he continued, despite the fact he had taken a punch previously for giving more information than they asked for, “I am a Federal agent but if I were a spy, do you really think I would’ve told you that?”

A quick translation later, the officer nodded his understanding.
“Why you take picture?”

“Because I am in your country as a tourist.”

“No, not tourist.”

“Contact the Embassy,” Jack said, annoyed at the man’s insistence, “they’ll confirm I’m not here on official business.”

Another quick translation left the officer smelling that rotten thing again.
“Of course they say you are not a spy.” he said disdainfully.

Did it mean he already checked?
Or did it mean he thought the Embassy would deny official business anyway.

“I know you are a spy, mister Jack Bauer.”

He motioned for the goons and took a step back.
They were done warning him now.
The first punch stung.
The second hurt.
The third split his lip.

Any given day, he could split a lip with a single punch.
These idiots still didn’t scare him.
He eyed them angrily which made them mad, but it didn’t result in any more power behind their punches.
It took five more and almost as many backhands to give him a bloody nose.
If he hadn’t broken his leg, he would’ve returned the favor.
Maybe when they were done fooling around, he could teach them a thing or two.

This round of beating gained them no more than the first.
The only thing they managed, was to piss him off.
Pissed off and in pain, they had better watch out.

When the officer called them off, Jack’s glare found a new target and he saw the man hesitate.
Not for long though.
It was a blink, no more, but Jack’s trained eye saw it and recognized it for what it was.
The man didn’t come any closer to him and probably wouldn’t, unless Jack was barely conscious.

“Why are you taking picture?” he asked from a safe distance.

“I’m visiting your country and I like beautiful things,” Jack replied coolly, “I take pictures of those to keep as memories of what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation.”

A short nod preceded the sound of a baton slicing through the air.
It hit him in the thigh.
Luckily, the left.
It hurt like hell, but what notice he had gotten, had sufficed and the only reaction they got was a twitch in his face.

“Did you check with the Embassy?” he asked, “They’ll confirm I’m not here on official business.”
He took another hit in just about the same spot.
“I guess you haven’t.” he concluded coldly.

“You are lying.”

“Look, what else do you want me to say? I’m on vacation. Yes, I’ve been taking pictures and visiting tourist areas. That’s what tourists do. I’m not carrying my weapon or my badge and I’ve given you all the information you’ve asked for. What more do you want?”

“Why did you run?” the driver asked.
He would translate later.

“Because I found myself in the middle of a gunfight.”

“We are the police.”

“Well, if your men hadn’t started shooting at me without warning, I wouldn’t have felt the need to run. Besides, they don’t have any kind of badge or logo on their overalls. How was I supposed to know they’re the good guys?”

“Who else could they be?”

“How the hell am I supposed to know?” Jack asked, feeling his impatience rise to a boiling point.
“I deal with terrorists for a living. What do you expect me to do when I stumble into a gunfight and I don’t even have my own weapon?”

The officer interrupted them, demanding to know what was being said and Jack bit his tongue.
There were a few more things he’d like to say to these people.
And if it weren’t for his leg, he’d be kicking the moron’s ass.
Well … if it weren’t for his leg, the ropes, the handcuffs and the armed guards.

“We are not terrorists.” the officer snarled once the translation was complete.

“Yeah, I figured that out by now.”
“Look, I didn’t know who was shooting at me,” he added quickly before he took another hit, “I made a mistake. I’m sure you’ve made some as well.”

The officer snapped something, waving his hand across as if chasing a bug and both goons moved as one.
The rope around his arms was released and he breathed a shallow sigh of relief when it came off.
Next thing, the handcuffs came off as well, but when he looked up at the officer, meaning to thank him for – finally – making the right decision, he knew instantly not to say the words.
They weren’t setting him free.
They weren’t done yet.

Tying his hands in front by means of the rope, they were merely securing him differently for the next chapter in this charade.
This time, the ‘real’’ interrogation began.
For every cocky or ‘wrong’ answer he gave, one of the goons smacked his baton down on him, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt this was what they excelled in. It was probably the reason why their earlier beating hadn’t meant much. They were so much more efficient with a baton.
But Jack hadn’t spent fifteen years in Special Forces to give them easy satisfaction.
He made them work for it.

His upper body was on fire before they elicited the first cry from him. It gave them a reason to put their hearts and backs into it, making sure he would cry out on each of them from that point on.
It wasn’t enough though.
Not to make him cry out.
Not to make him talk.
Not to make him give up.
Not yet.
He could take a little more.
And if it was important enough, he could take a lot more.


The abuse stopped as suddenly as it had started, leaving him panting and mad as hell. They didn’t accept a thing he said, no matter what it was. They were convinced he was a spy and they would force a confession out of him. No matter how hard they had to squeeze.
But they understood they weren’t squeezing him right and gave up on that approach.
He didn’t think he’d appreciate the alternative though.

At least they hadn’t gone after his leg yet.
A direct hit with one of those batons to his broken shin would impose a thousand times more pain than they had inflicted so far.
For now, that idea hadn’t sprouted yet.
Or it was something they weren’t willing to do.


When the door locked behind them, he hung his head, letting out a heavy sigh of relief.
Even if it only lasted a few minutes, it was a welcome break.
Closing his eyes, he controlled his breathing, bringing it back to normal.
There was no isolating the pain this time, it was everywhere, assaulting his nerve center on all sides.

After a while, the most intense pain dulled down and he wondered what was taking them so long.
When would they be back for the rest of it?
There was bound to be a rest of it. They would’ve untied him if there wasn’t anything else.
Or they would’ve shot him.
Would they let him unwind and relax, then only to come back for more?


Sometime later, he realized it was getting dark in the cell.
Nightfall wasn’t far away.
Would they leave him here all night?
Or would they come back for more after dark?
Did they think that would have a bigger effect on him?
Or were they hoping the sleep and food deprivation would loosen his tongue?
Maybe they were hoping the pain would make him delirious and talkative.
Or maybe the bastards had gone for the night.
Left him to freeze his ass off, strung up by his hands in the middle of a stone cell.

He didn’t know.
What he did know, was that his words hadn’t meant a thing to them.
He hadn’t been able to convince them of the fact he was just an innocent guy caught up in a situation he had no connection with.
He didn’t even know who the police had been shooting at before he ran into trouble.
All he knew, was the officer still believed he was a spy.

It meant he had no reason to believe they would leave him in peace.
It meant he had to stay alert all night.
Alert and ready for them.
He couldn’t let them catch him off guard.
Couldn’t afford to be caught half asleep.
It meant he was in for a very long night.


By morning, he was stiff and sore, his arms and hands were numb and he was freezing. Shivers rattled his body incessantly, causing the pain in his leg to flare up continuously, keeping him from getting any kind of rest. He was tired and mad as hell but he kept his anger under control. It was no use anyways. He couldn’t move without causing himself more pain and he was alone. Who would he move against?

Daylight slowly filled the cell, but he knew it would be a few more hours before the cell would warm up.
When it did, it would only be a little.
It would get nowhere near warm enough to make him comfortable.

His eyes stung with fatigue and he kept them closed most of the time, trying to give them a rest.
He knew he wasn’t at risk of falling asleep, so he could afford to close them. He was too cold and in too much pain to sleep, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t get any rest. Whenever he did open his eyes, he barely opened them wide enough to see. He would cast a quick glance around that portion of the room he could see and let them flutter shut again.

That changed when he heard the lock.

His first reaction was to open his eyes, but he closed them just as quickly and hardened himself. Chewing down the pain and fatigue, he clenched his jaws and filled his lungs. When he opened his eyes again no more than two seconds later, he was at full alertness and he locked onto target instantly.
It wasn’t the same officer as before and some of Jack’s anger faded, leaving his expression neutral rather than lethal.
The man was alone and unarmed. He wore the same uniform as the others, but with more dignity. There were only a few badges and patches on it, but Jack had a feeling this guy was top brass. Or a special unit maybe.
Different anyhow.
Whether that meant ‘better’, remained to be proven.

The man stopped in front of him, eyes on Jack without revealing any emotion or thought.

“Who are you?” he asked, his English significantly better than the other ones.

“My name is Jack Bauer.” Jack replied calmly.
Maybe no one had bothered to leave any record of his presence in the cell.

“Why are you here?”

“I wish I knew.”

The man’s hand locked on his face at once, putting pressure on his cheeks.
So much for the ‘no record’ thing.

“Why are you in this country?” the man repeated, a hint of anger in both his voice and eyes now.

“I’m on vacation.” Jack said through involuntarily clenched teeth.
The man let go, took a step back and waited.
Waited for him to continue.
For him to keep talking.
“Yesterday, I went to the market,” Jack explained, hoping to make more sense to this guy, “I wandered off into some side streets. I heard gunfire and instinctively ran towards it. That’s when these guys started shooting at me so I grabbed that bike and tried to get away from there.”


“To get myself to safety.”

“They are policemen.”

“I didn’t know that. They didn’t identify themselves and I didn’t see any official logo on their uniform. They started shooting without warning.”

“You say you heard gunfire and went towards it?”

“I’m a Federal agent, I’m used to gunfire. I thought someone might need help.”
“I wasn’t expecting to get shot at.”


“Yes, I work for the United States government.”

“Why were you there? It is not a known tourist area.”


“The bike you took. It belonged to the men we were trying to arrest.”
It made Jack look up and take notice.
“He is a double agent.”

That was why they thought he was a spy!
All the pieces of the puzzle fell together now.

“Look, I work for the government, a division called CTU, Counter Terrorist Unit. We only operate on US soil.” Jack explained.

He was convinced words would suffice to clear this thing out.
If he could make them understand – and believe – his being there was totally unrelated to the double agent, this would all end here and he would be able to get medical attention for his leg. He needed a painkiller and the bones had to be set. The longer it took before he got that medical attention, the bigger the risk of the bones not mending correctly.

“I’m here on vacation,” he continued, “you can check with our Embassy, they’ll confirm I’m here on a tourist visa.”

“I’m sure they will.”

Jack’s conviction in the power of words took a serious blow.
“What do you want me to say?” he asked, now realizing this could still get seriously out of hand.

“Tell me why you were there.”

“I told you already,” Jack said, “I wandered away from the marketplace-”


“To see some of the shops in the side streets.”

“Did you buy anything?”

“Yes. I tipped them extra and asked them to take it to my hotel.”

“Which hotel?”

“Rhiad. I’m in room four three seven.”

“Did you give them your room number?”

“No, just my name. It should be at reception.”

This was far away from the marketplace. There are no shops there.”

“I ate in a small restaurant a few streets from the marketplace. From there, I just kept going instead of heading back.”

“We recommend tourists not to go to those areas of the city.”

“I’m a Federal agent, I don’t scare easily.”

“Yes …” the guy said pensively, “The captain thinks you’re a spy.”

“He made that abundantly clear.” Jack replied sarcastically.
It ticked the other one off.
“Look, I work for the United States government, I told you that.” he continued quickly, “I also told you which specific division I work for. Do you really believe I would give you any information if I were a spy?”


Maybe you should check with the Embassy. I don’t know what more I could tell you.”

He saw the flicker in the man’s eyes and knew exactly what he was thinking.
The truth.’
They didn’t believe him.
Didn’t believe a word he said.
To them, the fact he was a US official – whether he was there on official business or not, the fact he ran towards gunfire and the fact he took the double agent’s bike, all proved his guilt.

“You said you were taking pictures.”


“Where is your camera?”

“At my hotel. I didn’t take it with me to the market.”


“It’s very expensive. I don’t want to risk having it stolen.”

The man nodded his understanding.
“How many pictures?”

“A few hundred.”

“And they are all on your camera?”

“No, I saved them on my computer.”

“Which is … ?”

“In my safe at the hotel.”

“Of course.”

“What do you want?” Jack asked.
“Do you want me to give you permission to search my room and check my computer?”
He could tell from the man’s reactions that was one of the things he had in mind.
“You have it.” Jack continued, “I’ve got nothing to hide.”

Once more, the man nodded his understanding.
“Do you know a man by the name of Suleyman Kapoor?”

Jack ran the name through his memory, but it didn’t ring any bells.
“No, I can’t say I do.”

“And Amar Patil?”

Again, Jack took a moment to think about it, but he came up as empty as before.

“How about Danti Talwar?”


“Abheri Saini perhaps?”


The man nodded again, turned and walked to the door.
“I will talk to the captain.” he said before leaving.

Jack had absolutely no guarantee as to the outcome of that.
He didn’t get his hopes up though.


Very slowly, the air around him warmed up, but – as expected – it wasn’t enough to warm him up.
It made him barely less cold.
After the man had left – he didn’t know his name or rank – he allowed himself a little more rest than before.
It proved to be the right decision.

Nobody came for a long time. When they did, he knew resting had been the wisest choice.
The captain was back.
As were the goons with the batons and the interpreter.
A fifth person entered, wheeling a cart in.
With that, he knew they weren’t about to let him go.
On the contrary, they were determined to get ‘the truth’ out of him.

Not a word was said while the new man prepared his gear.
Jack wasn’t looking at him though. He had seen the equipment and knew what to expect.
His eyes were on the captain.
The man approached slowly and stopped within arm’s length of Jack who didn’t react in any way.
Not to his presence, not to his nearness and not to the threat embedded in the equipment on the cart.
He knew what was coming.
He wasn’t afraid of it.
He wasn’t afraid of them.

With deliberate lentor, the captain unbuttoned Jack’s shirt, pushing it aside.
He revealed only a small portion of Jack’s chest.
A restricted part of the collection of scars.
Maybe if they had ripped it off, would they have known he didn’t fear what they had in store for him.
Jack held the man’s eyes. His, cold and fearless, the captain’s full of anticipation and confidence.

By the time he was done, one of the goons had pulled a fire hose into the cell. The officer stepped out of the way and the goon proceeded to hose Jack down. The water was freezing and the cold took his breath away, making him gasp violently and clasp down to limit the shock. When the streaming water stopped, he shook his head to clear as much as he could and locked on target again.
Soaking wet, freezing and mad as hell, he would take the first opportunity he got to take a shot at the bastard.
Whichever he could take!
But the captain stayed at a safe distance now.
He stayed out of reach.

Firing the generator up, the new man put the final touch to the preparations.
They were all ready and set to fry his ass.


The man approached slowly, showing a pair of medium sized rods, touching them together to make sparkles fly, a big smile on his face. He wore rubber boots and gloves to protect himself and ‘fearlessly’ advanced, stepping into the puddle of water around Jack’s feet. He made a point of waving the rods back and forth for a moment, convinced it would cause even more fear in his helpless victim. Jack ignored the rods, keeping track through peripheral vision only. He kept his eyes on the man holding them.

The first rod went up, coming to a rest on top of the rope that tied his hands. He didn’t react to the contact with his skin.
When the second rod went up as well, he braced for it, uncertain of what the guy had in mind, but certain of imminent pain.
The rod merely brushed across the fingers of his left hand, sending a short shock across his hand. It only made him grind his teeth.
It made the other chuckle though and he said something which made the rest of them laugh. Then, he brought the rods back into view, talking some more, oblivious or uninterested in the fact Jack didn’t understand a word.
He touched the rods to both sides of Jack’s chest without any warning, but Jack didn’t need any, his eyes told him all he needed to know. The pain was fierce – as it always was – but he gave them no satisfaction and wiped those smiles right off of their faces.

This wouldn’t be as easy – or as much fun – as they would’ve hoped for.

The reaction from his torturer was the best he’d ever seen though. And he’d seen a few.
The guy’s smile fell away and he looked from Jack’s face to the rods in his hands, probably wondering whether they weren’t working correctly. To test it, he pressed them down on Jack’s skin again, getting no more from him than before, which made him stop and turn to check the generator.
It made Jack laugh inwardly.
This really was just a bunch of amateurs.
Wannabe tough guys.
When the guy couldn’t find anything wrong with the generator or the connections, he turned back to Jack. It was obvious he had already lost the cockiness with which he had approached him the first time.


For long minutes, there was only torture.
Then, the questioning began again.
As with the batons, every ‘wrong’ answer was immediately punished. The punishment didn’t yield any ‘right’ answers from him though. Despite the growing intensity of the pain, Jack held on by sheer willpower, fighting them with every ounce of anger he felt. They put him on the brink of the abyss a few times, but he willed himself to stay conscious.
They didn’t have what it takes to bring him to his knees, no matter how often they made him cry out.
He could take their crap, even if they kept at it all day.
A standard issue stun gun was worse than this.
If this was all they had, they were in for a big surprise.
And he was probably in for a very long ride.

What he wasn’t prepared for, was when the sonofabitch went for his leg.
It didn’t matter if he got time to brace or not, that was something he couldn’t be ready for.
The rods touched him inches above the ankle and knee, causing the muscles in his legs to contract violently, sending a searing hot bolt of lightning through him. It threw him in instant agony and the ensuing roar bounced off the walls, making them all jump in surprise.
Despite the extreme pain shooting through him, Jack held on, his rage as intense as his pain.

He was in as much agony as he would ever be and he took his shot.
This was as good a time as any and if it convinced the sonofabitch to stay away from his leg, it would serve its purpose.
Pulling on his arms, he got his weight off his leg and kicked. Battered, tired and mad as hell, he poured everything he had into the kick, meaning to make it count. His boot connected solidly with the sonofabitch’s knee, snapping it like a twig.
With one knee bending the wrong way, the torturer tumbled to the ground, howling in pain. The rods dropped from his hands as he grabbed for his knee and they hit the puddle of water seconds before he did, sending the voltage through him now. Jack’s boots effectively isolated him and he watched the man flop around at his feet until the generator blew out, instantly cutting the current off. A split second later, he took a devastating blow to the kidneys from one of the goons.
The interpreter ran out, yelling – most probably for help or a medic – while the goons made a point of beating the life out of Jack, using their batons to do so.
This time, he didn’t fight the darkness when it seeped in from the edges of his vision.
He sagged in his bonds not much later.


He didn’t witness any of the commotion around him, but when he came to, he was alone again.
The cart was gone and so was the fire hose. There was nothing else in sight that could indicate what else was planned for him.

A while later – he had lost all notion of time – two men came into the cell.
There were no officers, no interpreters and a lot of muscle.
There were no questions either.
Only a great deal of pain.
This was what these guys did best and they probably did it to make him pay for that kick.

They punched his lights out more than once, reviving him with all but subtle techniques.
When he passed out a few times in quick succession – mainly due to the lack of oxygen – they called it quits and left him hanging in his bonds, blood dripping from his chin as it ran from his split lips, cut brows and battered nose.


He came around, a complaining moan rippling up from the pit of his stomach.
Every inch of his body ached now and he wondered how much longer they were going to keep this up.
It had been a while since he’d been put into this big a hurt locker. He wouldn’t be surprised to find out it held a few more - undiscovered as of yet – dark and merciless levels.
He had no idea how long he had been unconscious, or how long Beavis and Butthead had been pounding on him, which made him completely oblivious of the time. What he did know, was that he’d been strung up like that for far too long.
Something would have to give sometime soon.


He could only hope that ‘something’ would be on their side.
Even if it only meant getting him down. His shoulders were sore as hell and he could barely move his fingers. Those were only minor worries if he could get them down sometime within the next few hours. His bigger concern was his leg. He was going to need medical attention soon. It would have to be set so it could heal right.
He didn’t want this farce to screw up the rest of his life.

Sometime later, the sound of the lock brought him back to full alertness once again.
The muscle was back and his hopes of resolving this thing sank a little deeper into the mud.
One of them stayed near the door while the other walked into the room, be it not towards Jack. He stayed near the wall and Jack tried to keep his eyes on him without losing sight of the other. It became increasingly difficult to divide his focus, he was getting extremely tired and his focus was wearing thinner by the hour. It left only a little on each. He hoped it would suffice.
If not, he might hit the next level of their hurt locker faster than anticipated.

The goon didn’t circle around him though, but stopped at the loop to which the rope he was strung up with, was attached.
Getting a hold of it to keep Jack from ‘stealing’ more leeway, he quickly untied the knot and reeled it out, letting gravity do its work in bringing Jack’s arms down. It hurt like hell when his shoulders started to move again and he clenched his jaws, biting it back. They stopped moving when the goon tied the rope off again, leaving his arms at a slightly less than ninety degree angle.
They weren’t untying him.
They were making sure he wouldn’t try to kick again.
There was no way he could pull up high enough.
Not from this position.
His elbows were a few inches below shoulder level and he could barely use the rope to help steady himself. It forced him to keep all of his weight on his good leg if he wanted to spare his injured one, which was exactly what they had in mind.


With Jack now secured in a safer way, the top brass returned.
Again, he came unarmed and alone, only this time, the muscle was already in the cell.
Fed up with the situation, Jack rested his forehead against his bound hands and merely followed the sound of the footsteps as they moved deeper into the cell and around him, circling behind him and coming to a stop on his right side.
He hissed when the man grabbed his hair and pulled his head back, but gave no other reaction.
Nothing he could say or do would make a difference anyhow.
The ball was in their camp.
They had to decide how much longer they wanted to keep this up.
Until they got fed up with it, he would undergo whatever they chose to throw at him.

“You are a spy, mister Bauer.” the man hissed, “You will confess before this day is over.”

Before Jack could reply, his worst nightmare came to life.
The bastard didn’t even do much of anything. He simply bent his knee, hitting Jack’s.
The impact sent the gauges of Jack’s nervous system straight into the red and made him cry out in instant agony.
It left him breathless and dizzy.

“You are a spy.” the officer repeated, “Admit it!

“I’m not a spy,” Jack spat, “I’m on vacation.”

“You’re a spy!” the officer snapped angrily, “You were going to meet with an agent working within our government to collect information. Secret information!”


Yes. But you came too late. We intercepted the double agent before he could give you the information-”

“CTU doesn’t operate outside of America.” Jack snapped, interrupting the accusations.

It earned him another kick to the leg, making him roar in pain again.
Still the man held him by the hair, head tilted back.
It didn’t help with his breathing and only made the dizziness worse.

You are a spy!” the officer snapped.

“I’m not a spy.” Jack snarled, “I’m a tourist.”

The man let go of his hair and took a step back.
His kick caused an explosion of pain inside Jack’s skull and for a moment, he thought his head would blow up, but then the stroboscope slowed down and the pressure dropped somewhat. His entire being was on fire and he struggled to hold on. Struggled to remain awake. This was the moment of truth. He knew it and acted accordingly.
Fighting gravity to stay on his feet, he also fought oblivion.
If he blacked out, this would only last that much longer.
This thing had to end and it had to end right there.

The officer grabbed his hair again, doing him the favor of helping him find his balance and keeping it.
It kept the weight off his leg even though it was throbbing furiously.

“CTU only operates on US soil.” Jack hissed, “I’m not here to spy.”

“Then why were you there?”

“I told you.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“There’s nothing else I can tell you.”

“Yes, there is.” the officer snapped, letting go again.
His kick was even more vicious this time around.
“You can tell me the truth!” he yelled.

He didn’t give Jack the time or the opportunity to hold his balance but lashed out again, kicking his legs out from under him.
The shock in his shoulders as they caught his weight only added to the fathomless intensity of his agony and he couldn’t find the strength or desire to pull himself back to his feet.

“Tell me the truth!” the officer snapped, lashing out again, kicking at Jack’s thigh this time.
It inflicted as much pain as a kick directly to the fracture.

“I am telling you the truth.” Jack replied, gasping and struggling for air.
“I’m on vacation.”

The officer grabbed his hair once more, yanking his head back.
I don’t believe you.”

“CTU only works on US soil.” Jack repeated.
He had lost count of how often he had told them that.
“I’m here on vacation.”

With an angry snarl, the officer ‘threw’ his head forward and took another step back.
No kick followed though but Jack didn’t attempt to look at him. He was too busy with himself to worry about anything or anyone else. If the sonofabitch kicked, it would most certainly knock him straight into oblivion. There was nothing left for him to hold on to. His reserves were dry, his body working on ‘petrol fumes’.
He needed a break.
If they put any more pressure on him now, nature would give him that.

But there was no more pressure.
There was no more abuse.
Not at once anyway.
The officer stood, seething, observing the man hanging limply from his bonds.
He had to be in incredible pain.
He had to be desperate for this to end.
And yet, he refused to speak.

Or did he speak the truth?
Had he been caught in a situation he didn’t belong in?
Was he a victim of circumstance?

He couldn’t decide.
Couldn’t make up his mind about this American.
Signaling to the guards, he left the cell, leaving the prisoner without touching him anymore.

When they left, Jack felt the last ounce of strength seep out of him and his world turned black.


The sound of the lock pulled him out of it.
It brought him back to the waking world.
He didn’t know why or how, but it did.

He was in agony.
Absolute devastating agony.

It hurt to breathe.
It hurt to move.
It hurt to think.
It even hurt to open his eyes.

He did though.
He had to.
He had to see.
See it coming.
It allowed you to prepare for it.
Preparing allowed you to take it.
Take it and gut it out.
Gut it out.
All of it.

New faces.
Two of them.
No three.
They looked different.
Acted different.
Sounded different.

“Mister Bauer … can you hear me?”

Was that worry in that voice?

“Sir, can you hear me?”

A different one now.
Less worried.
More commanding.
He turned towards it, moaning softly.

“Don’t try to move, sir, we’ll get you out of here in a moment.”
“Get a stretcher.”
The third face ran off, boots slapping on the cold floor.
“Sir, can you tell me where you’re injured.”

The cuts and bruises on his face were obvious, the burns on his chest would become that very quickly.
“Leg.” Jack whispered.

“Left or right?”


“What’s wrong with it?”

“Broke it.”

“Okay, I’m gonna need you to hang in there a little while longer.”
Jack nodded faintly.
“As soon as the stretcher is here, we’ll get you out of these.”

It didn’t take long.
He heard the boots and the wheels.
Heard them approach.
More faces came in.
All Americans.
All military.

“This is going to hurt.” one of them warned.

They got him back to his feet before cutting the rope that held his arms, but they didn’t let his arms drop. They slowly lowered them after what they lifted him onto the stretcher, trying their best to get his right leg on it with minimum impact. He still groaned in pain.
The rope that tied his hands was cut away and they lowered his arms to the stretcher in a controlled manner. Then, they turned his attention to his leg.

“Sir, we’re going to put your leg in an inflatable cast,” the man informed him, “it’s going to hurt.”

“I know.” Jack whispered.

They weren’t waiting for their colleague to get the IV in and give him a shot of morphine.
Seconds later, his leg was lifted, then lowered again.
It didn’t take long to get it in position.
It didn’t take long to inflate it either.
By the time they were done, the IV was in and so was the morphine.
Now, it was a matter of minutes.
They didn’t wait for the morphine to kick in, but wheeled him out as soon as they were ready and had him strapped down securely. They would tend to the rest of his injuries in the ambulance and at the hospital, what mattered now, was to get him the hell out of there.


He rolled his head to look at the man.
“I wasn’t sure you were awake.”

“That’s okay.” Jack said quietly.

“We’ve arranged for a flight back. You’ll be flying home with a team of Seals.”


“In three hours.”

“My things?”

“The ambassador is taking care of that, sir. We’ll have all your belongings before you leave.”


“Including the package that was dropped off at reception for you.”

“Thank you.”

He closed his eyes again, a smile crawling across his face.
He would be home in a few hours.


“Hey Jack.”

“Tony.” Jack greeted his friend and colleague as he walked up to the hospital bed.
They shook hands, for a moment only friends.
Then, they became colleagues again.
“Did you get it?”

“Yeah, we got it alright. That was a smart move, having it sent to your hotel.”

“Tony, when national security is concerned, there is no such thing as Beginner’s Luck.”

“I hear ya.” Tony said, his eyes going to the IV in Jack’s arm.

“Don’t worry, I’ll live.”

“Yah, that’s what the doctors said too.”
They shook hands again.
“I’m glad you made it.”

“Yeah, so am I.”

“Take care.”

“You too.”


With that, Tony left again, heading back to the office to work on the information Jack had brought back with him.

The End.

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