Hot Call 1 - Bang Fitness

Enroute to Bang Fitness - 7 am

"Team One, gear up. Winnie, details" Greg said as he was pulled from his memories and moving to gear up himself.

"Shots fired, at Bang Fitness on Bay View Ave. Full address sent to your PDAs. At least two hostages according to the caller. Subject is an unknown male at this time" Winnie rattled off.

"You gotta be kidding me – shots fired at a place called Bang fitness. Talk about irony" Spike quipped.

Snickers could be heard from most of the team. They could always count on Spike to lighten the tense mood with some witty, or not so witty, remark.

"Units on scene and setting up a perimeter. They say they have three witnesses for you to talk with when you arrive" continued Winnie.

"Thanks Winnie. Jules, you and Lou find out what you can from the witnesses when we get there. See if we can identify the subject, hostages and what prompted this" Greg directed.

Bang Fitness - 7:10 am

Arriving on scene, three black SUVs and a command truck come to a rapid halt. Seven SRU team members emerge quickly. Jules and Lou head off to question the witnesses. Greg engaged with the senior patrol officer on scene to get an update on the current situation.

Ed rounded the back of an SUV to get geared up as he handed out tactical assignments to the rest of the team. "Spike, in the truck, I need you to pull up blueprints of the gym and send them to our PDAs. See if you can get eyes in if there are cameras. Wordy, need you to determine the best entry point. Sam, you're Sierra 1. We don't know where the subject is yet but see if you can find a vantage point across the street since the gym's front is all floor to ceiling windows. See if you can locate the subject and determine the number of hostages."

A chorus of "Copy that" sounded through the headsets.

Sam scanned the businesses across the street from the gym to determine which one would give him the best visibility into it. The roofs were too high to give proper view into the single level gym. He picked the one directly in the center. It had windows on the second floor that opened.

It would allow him to position himself with good visibility to the entire gym and if he had to take a shot, he could do so without damaging the windows of the business. It was Sam's ability to rapidly assess a myriad of conditions while considering the impacts and making a split second decisions to minimize the impact to the public that made him a tactical asset to the team. He grabbed his Remi and kit from the SUV and sprinted over to the building.

The officers had not cleared this business yet. As he walked in he realized it was a massage therapy spa. He had been slightly intrigued by the business name 'Relax'. Now he understood.

The looks the patrons gave him as he entered were priceless. Sam had come to understand that most people were a little in awe of a SRU officer in full tactical gear. It was a sight to see. The team liked to joke it was because they had the 'cool pants'. He got a few smiles and 'I want you' looks from the ladies in the reception area, not that he really noticed, which he didn't usually.

His short blonde hair, intense blue eyes and rugged good looks had that effect on women; even without the SRU uniform. And today, all that was enhanced by a beautiful smile that seemed to be plastered to his face. Sam clearly had no clue the affect he had on women, devastating. He calmly informed the manger of his need to be in the center room of the second floor and was immediately granted access. The patrol officers arrived to clear the business and secure the building.

As he set up the rifle, Sam listened to the chatter of the team, keeping abreast of the developments but he could not keep his mind from wandering a bit to the fact that he was so very happy today. He was doing something he loved, helping people and he belonged to a family. Belonging felt so good.

"Sorry Boss, no cameras in the building. The owner wants to make sure people don't feel uncomfortable when working out. Apparently, many people feel self-conscious about video cameras taping them while they sweat. Doubt our Jules would mind. Know Samtastic wouldn't; he probably go shirtless and hog the camera time" Spike joked.

Sam lightly laughed at Spike's comment. He really liked that guy. Sometimes he was over the top but he made Sam laugh a lot lately. Laughing was good, it helped heal the soul.

He opened the window to quickly scan the gym across the street with the high-powered scope. "Boss, Ed, I've got a good view of the whole gym. No blind spots. Got a twenty on the subject. He's against the green wall, about mid-way between front and back, near the free weights. Has a gun to the head of the female hostage who is on her knees in front of him. Second hostage, male, also on knees in front of subject but facing hostage one. I don't see anyone else in the gym. And Spike you're just jealous I can bench more than you."

As Sam lay down on his stomach on the massage table to line up the shot Greg replied "Good info Sam. Let's focus now guys."

"I've got the solution" Sam informed them as he settled in to watch and wait as his teammates, no his family, worked their magic. His professional sniper mask slid onto his face, but there was a faint hint of smile at the corners of his lips. Something that had never been there in all of his life when readying himself for a shot.

"His name is Clive Parch. He was a personal trainer at the gym until last week. The assistant manager tells me that he was fired and banned from the gym because a woman accused him of unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate touching during training sessions" Jules shared.

Spike couldn't help himself as he said "And more innuendo to Bang Fitness. I could sooooo have a field day with this." Soft snickers were heard from several teammates.

"Ed let's slowly move inside and try to get his attention; see if we can get him talking." Greg proceeded to enter the gym with Lou and Ed providing cover behind shields. Wordy was covering the single rear exit as a precaution.

"Spike, join Wordy in the back since we have no techy stuff for you to play with here" Ed directed.

Slowly approaching Clive and the hostages, Greg quietly asked Jules "Do we know who the hostages are yet?"

Jules chimed in again "Yeah Boss, the woman hostage is Lori Plane, she's the one who lodged the complaint. The male hostage is Neal Johnson, Lori's boyfriend. The second witness was also a client of Clive and said that he has been having violent moods swing lately. One time he got so mad at him for doing nine reps instead of ten that Clive threw a free weight at his head. Missed him but after that he refused to work with Clive again. The third witness said this is out of character for Clive, but he thinks he's been under stress while preparing for a weight lifting competition. Said he's been bulking up really fast. He thinks the accusations are false and that Clive is upset at being banned from the gym so close to the competition."

"Why does he think the accusations are false" asked Lou.

"Says that Clive doesn't swing that way and Lori has been hitting on a lot of the guys at the gym to try and make Neal jealous" Jules responded.

"The bulking up quickly could present a problem Boss. Clive is as big as a freaking house, that's just not normal. Wonder if he is taking steroids? It might explain the mood swings and anger issues" Sam piped in.

"If that is the case, talking to him will be very difficult Boss. I knew a guy on the force years ago that got into steroids. Messed him up bad, his rage would go from zero to sixty in a blink of an eye. He went off the deep end one day because some guy borrowed a pen from his desk. It took four guys to take him down, and three of them ended up injured; one bad enough to require EMTs. So watch yourselves" Wordy interjected.

"Good to know" Greg said then he began negotiations with Clive.

As Sam watched through the scope he could see that Clive was all over the place emotionally. He had a bad feeling how this was going to end. Clive was going from red to yellow and back to red with amazing speed. Nothing Greg said seemed to be working.

The woman, Lori looked so scared. She had tears running down her face as she gazed helplessly at her boyfriend Neal in front of her. Sam couldn't see Neal's face but he could probably empathize with what he might be feeling watching what was happening in front of him.

Sometimes you were just in a situation you had no control over and needed someone to help. That's why there was the SRU. Sam smiled again, slipping slightly out of sniper mode. Not because of this situation, but because he was here with Team One and they would help as best they could. They would do everything in their power to get Lori, Neal and Clive out of this mess unharmed. He hoped Greg would be successful with talking Clive down.

Sadly, Clive escalated again, hitting Lori on the head with the back of his hand and shoving her down while lunging forward and pointing the gun straight at Greg's head. "Scorpio" Ed called.

Sam instantly took the shot. No hesitation. Hesitation could cause an innocent or team member their life. Sam had the quickest reaction time of all the snipers in SRU. Hell, he held the fastest response time in all of JTF2 during both his tours. He thinks he may have even held that 'honor' when he was training for Special Forces. His father had started training him when he was only six. Hours, upon hours spent at the range when most kids were playing sports or just hanging out having fun. Punishment was brutal if he failed to hit the targets where and when the General demanded.

A direct hit to the brain stem leaving no chance of a twitch of a finger on the gun as Clive crumbled to the ground. Dead. Sam rarely missed. In fact, he couldn't remember the last time he missed.

However, he remembers when he wished with every fiber in his being that he had missed. Matt. Oh god, Matt, he thought as all traces of smile vanished from his face.

"Subject neutralized" Ed softly called into the headset.

Sam lay completely still. Breathe held as the pain of taking another life and remembrance of Matt washed over and through him carving another line in his soul. He hated taking a life but logically knew that it was necessary sometimes. But it didn't make it any easier. He had taken so many lives; death was familiar, all too familiar, but never ever easy.

The General was a cruel bastard who kept forcing his son into mission after mission in JTF2. Other members in his unit got downtime. While they were taking a break from the horrors of war he was forced to temporarily join other active units. Always put in missions with high death counts.

Sometimes Sam wondered how many lives he could end without completely losing his soul. He knew exactly how many people he had killed though he would never share that number with anyone. It was too painful to let others know how much blood there actually was on his hands. It would color their perception of who he is, the person he desperately wants to be.

Breathe, remember to breathe; a shuddering deep breath taken in and harshly blown out.

"Sam you okay?" Ed queried hearing the ragged breathing over the headset. Ed knew what it was like to take the shot. The first breathe after always burned. It took some time to clear the head after too, even if the shot was to save an innocent. Ed had been amazed and frankly a little scared at how quickly Sam could right himself after taking a shot.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Be right out" Sam managed to reply smoothly. That was his standard reply 'I'm fine'. It was true; Sam did not like to lie. Fine was an absolutely true statement if you knew that he actually meant F.I.N.E. instead of the simple word fine. Yeah, Sam was F.I.N.E.; Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. Who wouldn't be F.I.N.E. after ending a life?

The post shoot mask slipped firmly in place, as he pushed the pain and Clive's face down, down deep into the dark place he built to keep those things and firmly locked them away.

He grabbed his kit and Remi and headed out the door to hand over his weapons to the SIU agent. He hated the interrogations with a passion. He was forced to open that place and allow the ghosts and pain out while he relived the shot over and over in excruciating detail.

Sam understood the legal and ethical need for it, but damn some of the agents could be brutal and it was sometimes hard to keep the mask firmly in place. Some agents were actually compassionate; those sessions were not too bad to deal with. Some SIU agents just treated it as a formality to validate the auto-scripter account. Those were the easiest; he could stick to just facts, no emotions dredged up. But unfortunately as in all professions some people were just assholes and relished in making a process as painful as possible.

His first lethal force experience with SRU he had been assigned one such SIU agent. Richard Donner. At the time he and Ed were still butting heads and not really communicating. So Sam had no idea of the actual process, he had no prep or guidance on how to handle it either.

He didn't realize he was allowed a lawyer, no one told him. Right after the shot was taken SIU had swooped in. They confiscated his guns and placed him in a patrol car with a directive that he was sequestered and was not allowed to speak to anyone other than SIU. The scene was a mess and Greg's attention was needed elsewhere. So Sarge did not accompany him since SIU was so fast on picking him up. He now knows SIU did not follow standard procedure that day.

When he arrived at SIU headquarters he was briskly ushered into a small windowless room with only a metal table and three uncomfortable looking plastic chairs. Agent Donner told him to strip to his boxers. The SIU agent had actually sneered at Sam's shocked expression.

He had not expected to have to strip, let alone in front of someone; not that he had any shyness after being in the military, but it did take him by surprise. He was so very glad he had not gone commando that day. Knowing that part of the process now, he never went commando at work. That would be slightly embarrassing to strip completely down, especially in front of the female SIU agents.

Everything was bagged and tagged as evidence by a young constable who looked rather uncomfortable with the whole process. Once he was only in his boxers, not even socks, agent Donner pointed to a chair and said, 'sit' while he threw a file folder on the table. Sam sat shivering slightly in the ice cold room answering the same questions over and over for what seemed like hours.

Sam decided that agent Donner got his jollies by hearing the sickening details. He kept asking for more and more descriptive words to be used to 'paint the picture'. How far did the blood spatter? Was there any on the subjects face, on the hostage? How fast did he fall? Was he still when he hit the ground or did he twitch? Questions Sam couldn't even begin to see how they pertained to determining if it was a justified, legal use of lethal force.

A lawyer stormed into the room three hours later. He only knew it was that long he'd been in that room because the lawyer indicated that in the tirade he unleashed on the agent upon entering the room. The lawyer, Dale Gibbson, exploded in a barely chained fury at agent Donner for not contacting him sooner and for beginning the interview without him.

Gibbson also lodged a formal complaint against the agent when he found out that Sam had been denied water, the opportunity to call a family member (not that he had any to call) and most especially denied clothing. He had been appalled Sam was forced to participate in only his boxers for three hours. The session ended quickly after Gibbson arrived.

Sam liked Gibbson. He had Dale's number in memorized contacts now. He now always called him on the way to SIU and the man never failed to be there when Sam arrived. Sam was not sure how the man always arrived before him at SIU but in a small way it comforted him to know someone would do that for him.

Sam laughed a little bit remembering the whole thing. Gibbson made it clear that he thought it was cruel and unusual to force Sam to be interviewed in only boxers. What Sam never shared with the lawyer, or anyone else for that matter, was that he wished all the 'cruel' interrogations he'd been subjected to were that cozy.

The faded scars on his torso were visual testament to ones that were actually considered cruel and unusual. The sad thing that popped into his head as he approached the SIU agent was that one might think that the worst scars were inflicted by the enemy while he was in JTF2. But in reality many of the worst scars, the ones not visible to human eyes, were much, much worse.

"Aw crap, my head is all over the place today" he said softly as he started to hand over his Remi to the SIU agent.

"What was that Samo?" Ed asked hoping he hadn't heard what he thought he did. Not a good sign if his men were not totally focused and on point while on the job.

Sam didn't realize he'd voiced that aloud until then. So to cover up he flippantly said with a hint of sarcasm "Said nothing Ed, you hearing things? And hey you know you're not supposed to talk to subject officer."

"Okay, I see you're following protocol today Sammy. Good boy" Ed glibly retorted.

"Ed, told you not to call me Sammy" laughed Sam.

"Oh so 'boy' is okay but Sammy is not. I'll make note of that Samtastic" Spike interjected.

"Jules is the only one that is allowed to call him Sammy" added Wordy.

"Don't bring me into this, boys" Jules laughed with extra emphasis on the word 'boys'. "I'm over here just minding my business and packing up" she finished.

"Easy children, settle down. Sam we'll see you for debrief back at the barn when you're done with SIU. You did good" Greg said as he took off his hat and rubbed his hand over his head. Still trying to figure out how he had lost the subject, he replaced the hat and moved towards the command truck.

This good natured bantering brought the smile back to Sam's face. It was nice to belong.

Sam was about to respond with thanks, when Winnie's voice broke over the headset "Team One, hot call, shots fired, robbery alarms triggered, Central Bank in mid-town." During that exchange Ed had walked to where Sam stood with the SIU agent.

"Winnie we are one man down, with Sam going with SIU. Taking on a bank call is not ideal without a full team. Is Team Three available?" Greg asked.

"No, sorry Sarge, both Teams Three and Five are engaged in calls and it would take over an hour to recall either Team Two or Four."

Ed adopted his sternest face and stared at the SIU agent "Sorry, my officer is needed in the field. Bag his rifle and gloves for now and when we are finished you can have him back."

It was rare, but there was precedence for this course of action. Hot calls and team safety in the field trumped SIU interviews. The SIU agent agreed hesitantly but took the Remi and gloves only, leaving Sam with his unused side arm. Sam and the rest of the team ran to the SUVs to head to the next call.
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