On The Road With The 'Young Guns'

Summary: DCI Herbert Maddox and Dr Paula Willars of Northamptonshire CID are kidnapped by the notorious criminals and taken for a ride across Europe, encountering the human face of their adversaries. Set ten years after the original story, and Tebor had better get out that shotgun and go hunting for his disbelief again!

Disclaimer: Paula IS a real person with her real name, a friend from school who actually wants to be a forensic psychologist, and is included here at her own request. The details of her academic career are all true; as is the debate incident (may the winner hang his head in shame). Some of the Young Guns are wholly or partly based on people I know, but names have been changed for their privacy.

*West, Jonathan Alistair: John is a diagnosed sufferer of Asperger's Syndrome, a mild variety of autism whose symptoms include a lack of empathy for fellow human beings. This would seem an obvious explanation for his lack of restraint when employing firearms, but many sources suggest that he has overcome this remarkably well. The close relationship between him and his fellow gang members, especially ISOBEL MCRAE, has been commented upon frequently by our few sources close to them.

John was isolated at school, flouting fashion and dominant culture. He frequently spoke out against racism and homophobia among fellow pupils, often risking verbal or physical assault in order to do so. Possibly he equated the persecution of members of ethnic minorities with the persecution of himself, usually by the same individuals!

It is unlikely that the death of his mother and younger brother affected John in any measurable way; his young age at the time of the accident that claimed them, and his condition, make this unlikely. He and his father clashed frequently, but not much more so than any other teenager. Certainly, many more serious parental disagreements have failed to result in patricide, and an explanation of the murder of his father is no explanation of John's willingness to kill any police officer attempting to arrest him. The explanation for this may be chillingly simple.

All efforts to capture the Young Guns have been met with a response that is as far outside the experience of our Armed Response Units as it is brutally effective. From the very start of the terrible saga, John, ISOBEL and eventually the remaining members operated a policy of 'kill-on-sight.' Arresting officers were clinically, ruthlessly gunned down. When McRae was captured, the remaining gang members embarked on a daring rescue operation in which nearly fifty police officers and two prison wardens lost their lives.

John seems to have adopted the mindset that soldiers must acquire in the field of battle: when threatened, do not think, but REACT. To hesitate in using his pistol or automatic rifle would have resulted in his capture countless times. Instead, from the age of seventeen he and his friends have raided numerous prisons and turned loose their inmates, for a substantial fee. The Young Guns operate more like a small business than a gang, and they show remarkable 'professionalism'.

The above paragraph paints Jonathan West as an emotionless, sociopathic killer. There is much evidence that this is not so; he put his own life in a great deal of danger to rescue Isobel, and if she really did allow herself to be captured to facilitate his escape then guilt must have played a part in the decision, as well as his deep emotional attachment to her.

John's true motivations are unclear; guilt, loyalty and strong affection are part of his emotional makeup, yet he has killed anybody who tries to stop him. Perhaps even John himself cannot say for certain what drives him to pursue a course that must surely end in his premature death.

McRae, Isobel Christine: Isobel is perhaps the strangest of the six gang members; she is the most unlikely killer and gun-for-hire imaginable.

A slight hearing deficiency, corrected artificially, left her rather isolated at school. Self-consciousness exacerbated straightforward shyness, compounding the problem. It is noticeable that JOHN took it upon himself to befriend her, and the two became romantically linked. All sources suggest they still are, and that her sheer infatuation with him led her to insist upon accompanying JOHN when he escaped.

This bond is a mutual one, and impressively strong; JOHN has risked his life for her, and she was quite willing to go to prison before aiding the police in capturing him. In other circumstances this would be laudable.

JOHN, surprisingly, had a good relationship with Isobel's parents. They seemed to be in sympathy with his actions regarding his father. Their association was not an illicit one, and their relationship is unlikely to be a factor in causing him to run away. Her parents were unsurprised at the turn of events, and much less alarmed than expected; nothing in the evidence suggests that she is the innocent waif ensnared by a madman and manipulated into acts of violence.

This relationship has stood the test of time, and though the idea of a domestic between such accomplished killers is often bandied about among the investigation team in jest, it is my opinion that this is a remote possibility. Her relationship with the rest of the Young Guns is close; observers have reported a total absence of the shyness that plagued Isobel in earlier years among her colleagues. In an ironic twist, this suggests that she is a better-adjusted person now than before her murderous boyfriend triggered the chain of events that would lead to so many tragic deaths. *

"Very insightful," Detective Chief Inspector Maddox remarked. "I never thought that guilt would form part of his makeup."

"I've known him a bit longer than you, guv'nor," she replied cautiously. Maddox nodded; they'd been in the same kindergarten class together.

"I've got the psychobabble, now I need the man. What was John West LIKE? Was he friendly, did he ever exhibit violent behaviour? How was he as a person?"

"Impenetrable," Paula said after some thought. "You could never really get close if he didn't let you, and the only person he let get close was Isobel and maybe the rest of the gang. He barely spoke to other people." It was always the quiet, unapproachable ones that went nuts, Maddox concluded with an internal sigh of despair. "And McRae?" he prompted. "What about her?"

"Didn't know her as well," Paula replied. "Nobody did. She was so quiet that nobody spoke to her; half the time she seemed scared someone would notice her. It's a terrible cycle; the more you feel nobody wants to speak to you, the more invisible you become, ad bloody infinitum!" Maddox raised an eyebrow; Willars rarely swore or raised her voice.

"I wish I'd tried to speak to her, now. Almost nobody did, except John," Willars continued. "We all hold ourselves to be better than the crooks we chase; we have to. But I've read the reports, and that frightened little mouse is a happy, outgoing young woman with plenty of friends. Who helped her, made friends with her, LOVED her? A damn serial killer, that's who, and suddenly I don't have the moral high ground any longer."

Maddox thought this over. What she was saying made sense; it would be nice if he could just keep thinking of them as heartless murderers. Suddenly he wished he'd never commissioned the damn report. What good had it done? It sure as hell wouldn't point him to their hideout, or even give him a clue as to where the bloody Young Guns would strike next. Jonathan West wasn't 'Buffalo Bill' or the Trophy Rapist; he did what he did for CASH, not because he liked the smell of cordite in the morning! He thought of breaking convicted criminals out of jail as a JOB, for God's sake, and Maddox was even beginning to believe he might like him if he met the murdering bastard socially.

He respected them, all right; if a hunter didn't respect his quarry's capabilities he wouldn't catch much. After the Woodgrove incident, that respect had been replaced by horror and revulsion... but beneath it, a little terrible admiration.

Whilst trying to think of some reply, Maddox studied the young woman before him at his desk. She was slight- /Willars? Willow, more like, / he joked inside the privacy of his head- and olive skinned, with short brown hair. He found her attractive, in a bookish way. Bright, too; more GCSE A-grades than the rest of her form combined, and she'd needed both her parents to help carry all the awards and trophies!

"Maybe you're right," he said quietly. "Keep reading it to me."

*Bristow, Patricia Amy: Trish has a lengthy and diverse criminal record, ranging from vandalism and shoplifting to GBH. She and several others absconded from a Juvenile Detention centre after a fire, which was later discovered to have been started deliberately, and encountered JOHN and ISOBEL purely by chance. She and her companions forged an alliance with them after JOHN killed the police officers that attempted to arrest her.

Trish's early upbringing was traumatic; her father died when she was young, and she was left to assist her mother in the care of her siblings. As the eldest, she would have been in a near-parental role from the age of eleven. It was at this point that she began to show signs of the deep resentment that she felt towards society in general.

Precisely when she began to commit crimes is unclear, but by the age of sixteen she had been detained twice. Psychologists interviewing her at the time suggest that her actions, and the apparent lack of remorse she felt at them, may be due to her anger and grief for her father. This anger turned Trish into the proverbial rebel without a cause.

Her relationship with the group is close, despite having very little in common with them. She is vocally right wing, pro-war, and has very few of the same values as the more liberal faction of the group. However, this has not affected the strong bond of friendship between them. An unsubstantiated report quotes JOHN as calling Trish, and the others, 'the three brothers and sister I never had.' To say the least, I find it unlikely that the two would have anything pleasant to say of one another in different circumstances...*

There was a massive explosion from the ground floor, followed by bursts of gunfire. "Speak of the devil," Maddox grumbled. The office door burst open, to reveal a heavily armed man. Who promptly dropped to the ground screaming as Paula's police-issue taser gun hit him in the groin.

"Nice shot!" Maddox remarked. "Now let's get out of here before- oh, shit." They found themselves staring down the barrel of three submachine guns.

"Put that thing down, and put your hands up. Do anything else and I will kill you both," said Trish very, very firmly.

I was observing this from up a tree outside the building, through the telescopic sight of my G3. Sandy had fallen off his branch for laughing when Charlie got a taser in the spuds. I was too busy trying to figure out a way to stop Trish doing something awful.

I fired a quick shot at an armed officer, dropping him before he could bring his gun to bear. Isobel gave me a thumbs-up, and they left my field of view dragging both cops. Oh, Christ, what the HELL were they doing?

Our target, a young Irish bank robber awaiting transfer to a maximum-security prison, waved to me joyfully as he sprinted for the ancient Volvo estate we used for transport purposes. I acknowledged him, and shinned down the tree.

The others met us there soon after, Trish helping Charlie.

"What have you brought those two for?" I asked, trying not to raise my voice.

"They're part of the CID team that's after us," she explained. "We need them out of our way. You'd prefer me to just shoot them?"

"That does seem to be your modus operandi," Maddox observed sourly. Was the man suicidal, or just terminally dense?

" 'S my first choice!" Charlie remarked.

"They're unarmed, and we've put their own handcuffs on them. Could any of you shoot them like that?" Isobel said. I could believe it of poor old Charlie, if he could stand upright.

"Oh, very nice, very nice," our client interjected. "Now, JUST HOW THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO GET ALL NINE OF US IN THE CAR?"

"Well, if seven women's rugby players can fit into a Mini..." This was a confident statement I was later to regret.

"I think being shot would have been the less painful option," Paula remarked.

"Look, Charlie is very literal minded and probably won't be able to get an erection for at least a week thanks to you, so quit tempting fate!" I said from somewhere underneath. "And you're a lot smaller than me, so I can't see what you're complaining about."

"This little pervert's hand on my arse, for a start!"

"Mick's alright when you get to know him," Sandy laughed. Mercifully, we stopped five minutes later, at a motorway service station in darkest Shropshire. Everyone scrambled out, and Paula gave Mick a solid kick in the rear. Her liking for high heels only made matters worse.

I couldn't help but laugh, and Mick received little sympathy from me; he HAD spent the last half-hour feeling her up, and anyway I'd rather liked Paula at school.

"Right, I'll go and get coffees, and you lot keep an eye on those two," I said. "Then we'll have to think of something to do with them before their faces are all over Crimewatch. And I'd prefer not to kill them, if you don't mind. Dead bodies are actually harder to hide."

"Oh, I don't know," said Trish in a knowing tone of voice that got her eight suspicious looks. "If she's speaking from experience she never mentioned it before," I reassured our captives.

"Hardly the kind of thing you'd casually mention in passing, is it?" Maddox said caustically.

"Depends on the company you keep, really," I replied. Paula actually laughed at that.

"I always had you down as a nice boy, John," she said, grinning.

"Quit flirting with him or I'll let Trish shoot you," Isobel growled. This was an interpretation that hadn't actually occurred to me.

"FLIRTING! Give me a little credit!" Paula was positively bristling; the only time I saw her this angry was when she lost a debate on 'Is Britain Admitting Too Many Asylum Seekers?'

"Oh, stop it the pair of you!" I shouted irritably. "I really don't need this!"

"And I don't need her trying to screw her way to freedom!" Isobel shouted back. It's moments like this that I really wish I hadn't got her to go to that assertiveness workshop. Judging from Paula's slightly shocked expression, this escape route was not one that she had explored.

"Oh, like he'd let her," Trish sniggered. "Though why you think she'd WANT to I can't imagine." Thanks a lot, Trish.

Paula vigorously nodded, causing Isobel to punch her extremely hard in the stomach. Our client -whose name was Seamus, by the way- unlocked Paula's handcuffs, and it required the combined efforts of the whole gang plus Maddox to separate them. By some strange coincidence, Maddox and I hit on the same thought simultaneously, though about different people. "It's always the quiet ones," we chorused.

"You wouldn't know Paula had such a temper on her when she was at school," I added rather hastily. Isobel accepted this; I was well acquainted with her own occasionally explosive temperament after ten years.

Seamus buried his face in his hands. "What sort of maniacs am I among here?" he moaned. I went to book some rooms for the night, wondering exactly the same thing.

(Author's note: I may have to update from hospital: 'Isobel' will never forgive me for this!)

Seamus's benefactors arrived the next day, leaving us with a mere eight people between six seats, two of which had come to blows earlier. I solved the problem by persuading Maddox and Paula into the luggage area in the back, and we arranged the seating so that Isobel was in the front passenger seat next to me.

"We have got to get rid of that woman!" Isobel muttered to herself.

"She's got a slightly odd sense of humour, that's all," I replied. "Forget it, OK? Even if she had tried anything on, I wouldn't even have been tempted."


"REALLY, I promise."

"I'm crushed," Paula quipped from the rear. I gently banged my head on the steering wheel, and tried to ignore the snorts of laughter from the others. /Lord, gimme strength, /. I might have known taking hostages would turn out like this. Trish's bright ideas tended to backfire this way; explosive entry charges, for instance. Granted, they at least went off, but to quote Michael Caine, "You were only meant to BLOW THE BLOODY DOORS OFF!" At that point I was standing in front of a partially demolished derelict house. Thank God we thought to do a couple of dry runs before actually deploying them operationally.

We sped up the motorway, Radio One blasting on the stereo. I'm not a big fan of Radio One, but it was a better alternative to Paula's suggestion of a morale-boosting singsong, an idea I felt would destroy our morale far more effectively than even Mark and Lard. And in my humble opinion, that's saying something!

Paula dug out the report on me, Isobel and Trish. She read it out to us, causing a great deal of amusement.

"So I'm better adjusted now than when I was at school, am I?" Isobel said in mock-outrage. /Stand by for referee duty! / I told myself.

"Let's just say you'd never have thrown a strop like that in Year 11," Paula replied evenly. "Hanging around with this lot has made you a lot more assertive."

"Well, with the likes of us you either get assertive or dead!" Isobel laughed, her hostility lessening. I heaved an internal sigh of relief; I wouldn't have minded women fighting over me in Year 11, but it doesn't seem as much fun now.

"She's always had a temper," I pointed out. "It's just that nobody ever noticed until fairly recently." Isobel's carton of orange juice disgorged its contents in my lap, encouraged by her. The car swerved, narrowly avoiding a truckload of thermostatic radiator controls.

"Shit!" I yelled, trying to regain control. "See what I mean?"

Sometimes I wish I worked in a bank.

We stopped for lunch at another service station, and I was deputised to purchase sandwiches and various soft drinks. When I returned, I found the car riddled with bullet holes and an extremely irritated-looking Isobel helping Paula bandage Mick's head. Maddox was conspicuous by his absence, and Sandy was swearing in Czech and waving his MP5 in a worrying fashion.

"He got hold of your G3 and hit Mick, then made a run for it. He must have grabbed a spare mag on the way out," Isobel explained. "I'd got out of the car to look for you, and I got one shot off and missed, but he did even worse." I swore, and retrieved the discarded rifle. /You'll get yours, sunbeam, just you wait,/ I thought to myself. /I will put up with being chased for ten years; it's what you're paid to do, and an occupational hazard for us, but hitting my mate and shooting up my car is a bit much!/

We left at some speed, once Trish and Charlie had returned from the toilets and been appraised of the situation. The police were arriving as we departed, but Volvo estate cars are the automotive equivalent of the name Smith. Paula loudly protested her innocence, and surprisingly Isobel backed her up.

So did the radio. "Dr Willars has become very close to her captors, and may well be actually in collusion with them," Maddox reported breathlessly to some equally breathless reporter. Paula was less than impressed, to put it mildly.

"I'll bloody kill him!" she raged. "No, I'll kill him," Mick piped up. "No, no way, I can't let you do that," I said firmly. "This one's MINE."

We eventually found our way to Dover, and boarded a ferry as foot passengers once the car was safely dropped at a moderately disreputable workshop. Body repairs plus a respray and new number plates came to well over a grand. Somebody was going to suffer for this.

I was downright alarmed when Isobel accompanied Paula to obtain some replacement clothes. Isobel has never been a great shopoholic, but when she gets going...

They returned about three minutes before departure, laden with bags. Paula dropped a reciept, and I picked it up. I buried my face in my hands and groaned, then carefully regained my composure. Paula could bloody well pay for this lot, though.

"Don't panic, it's on my credit card," Paula said helpfully.

"CREDIT CARD!" Oh, SHIT. Even the man on the street could tell you that credit cards can be traced, and Paula was supposed to be a bloody copper, for crying out loud.

"Yes, the one you took off me by force and used for your own nefarious purposes before cutting in half and disposing of," she replied primly. "By the time it flags up we'll be the other side of the channel and still accelerating." I shrugged.

"If you say so. You're meant to be CID." AS soon as we boarded, using fake passports obtained earlier, I headed for the bar and had a stiff whiskey.

"This is going to be a very long and trying week," I concluded. I was dead right.

It was a two hour ferry crossing, courtesy of appalling weather. I had a couple more whiskeys as a defence against seasickness, and purchased a few bottles as a defence against what I would soon be facing when we disembarked. No car, not much stuff, the law on our tails; just like old times, in fact.

I shouldered by cricketer's bag, which accommodated my G3A3 easily with the stock folded up. The others met me at the assembly point, and we left the ferry for pouring rain. We changed our Sterling to euros and decided a course of action.

First priority was a car, which we hired cheaply. It was an elderly Renault Espace, thoroughly uncomfortable but just capable of accommodating all seven of us. JUST.

Once we had transport, the next question to address was a destination. Sandy suggested his native Czech Republic, and after a brief debate we all agreed. Paula was included in the decision-making process simply because she was there; it's the way we operate, everyone is equal, even people we'd actually kidnapped.

"If they think you're one of us, they'll treat you the same if we're cornered," Isobel said firmly. "You'll need to be armed." I was less than keen on the idea, but gave the go-ahead.

We found a reasonably reliable dealer in central Calais, and Paula spent hours debating the relative merits of various weapons. At great, unneccessary length she picked a Scorpion submachine gun and a .357 Desert Eagle as a sidearm. Whilst we were there we picked up additional ammunition and grenades.

Paula struck a warlike pose whilst Isobel photographed her, giggling like a kid at Christmas. I tried to restrain my laughter when she found that the Desert Eagle needed both hands to lift. I suppose it was a defence mechanism, the laughter, against the very real possibility that this was a trick.

Sandy smiled at her. "You look nice," he said, his acent becoming more pronounced; he swears it's sexier. Paula actually blushed, and I exchanged looks with the others. We all snorted with laughter, except for Sandy.

"Mikhail Dyanovich, you are shameless!" Trish exclaimed. Sandy went as red as Paula.

Quick round of acknowlegements: Amber for not killing me when she read the catfight scene, and Loganberry for an extremely helpful review. Please look at their stuff; I'm in Amber's one. Can you spot me? Also my fellow Sixth Formers for the praise heaped upon my earlier work, and Paula for not objecting to any of the story thus written, even the 'Willars/willow' crack.

Maddox threw his cigarette end in the direction of the wastepaper basket, not caring if it missed.

"If you're wrong about DS Willars, guv'nor..." said Hadley for the fifth time. Maddox felt his temper begin to desert him.

"She was on first name terms with them, damn it! It was like she and West had known each other for years, and she was making eyes at that Russian one!"

"Czech, guv'nor, Czech," Hadley replied, slightly exasperated.

"Whatever!" Maddox was unaware of the look he was recieving from one of the other Detective sergants, whose parents had fled Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover. "Extradition proceedings are going to take months, even if the Czech police somehow find them and don't get killed trying to arrest the bastards!" He lit yet another cigarette. "I'm going to try and get permission to go out there myself. Hell, they can pretend to sack me if they like, just so long as I can get at those murdering little..." He stopped, and wondered about the pain in his chest.

It was decidedly crowded in the old Espace, but fairly cheerful. Somehow, we had contrived for Sandy to sit next to Paula in the back, with a solid line of three seats between them and our view. There was a reasonable amount of legroom, thanks to the roof rack that held most of our bulkier luggage. The guns stayed with us.

For some bizarre reason, the Grease soundtrack was on the stereo. My impression of John Travolta leaves much to be desired, but Isobel's Olivia Newton-John isn't bad. "You're the one that I want!" we chorused happily until Trish resorted to hurling Polo Mints at us. We were all laughing so hard the car swerved from side to side and I confidently expected us to be nicked by the gendarmes au traffic, or whatever (French was never my best subject). Now THAT would be an embarassing way to be caught; the notorious Young Guns on a Driving Without Due Care and Attention rap in France!

We decided to stop for the night once we reached the border with Germany. We found a small service station, with a reasonable hotel nearby, and booked in. I half expected Paula and Sandy to ask for a twin room, but Sandy's Catholic upbringing showed through and he remained the perfect gentleman. This struck me as slightly silly, really; we must have broken every rule laid down in the Good Book already, but he refuses to 'fornicate', as his teachers might have said. It could hardly make things any worse, could it?

At the appalling hour of 4AM, I was awoken by a siren. A conditioned response took over and I was fully dressed and out of the room, G3A3 in hand, before I actually awoke. A loudhailer was saying something in German. A man staying a few rooms down the corridor shouted something back, and there was a brief exchange of ill-tempered conversation. At least, I think it was ill-tempered; my German is worse than my French, and Paula- who studied it at A-Level- was still nine parts asleep. The others, in response to the same instincts as me, were totally alert.

The man left his room, carrying a revolver. "It is OK," he said in halting English, "they do not know you are here. They want me."

We looked at each other. "Oh, well. We might as well go back to bed, then," I said with a shrug. If there was any humour to be found in this situation it didn't register with me for several weeks.

Of course, we had to make a discrete exit via the fire escape before the gendarmes went around asking for statements. We finished up sleeping in the car just over the border, elbow to arse. I hate this job sometimes!

I was first awake for a change, largely on account of Paula ramming her exceptionally pointy elbow into my ear in her sleep. I can't repeat my remarks at this juncture. In retaliation, I 'accidentally' knocked over a half-empty can of Coca Cola, drenching Sandy by mistake (they were in significantly close proximity) and getting the day off to a flying start.

"You complete [something in Czech]! C'mere!" I exited the car at speed, before being painfully tackled and hurled bodily into a nearby pond. "Hey, look!" I spluttered. "It was an accident, I meant to get Paula for elbowing me, that's all!" That really didn't help my case, did it?

I climbed out of the pond, and took a direct hit from Sandy's left fist. "That's for trying to chuck Coke all over my girlfriend!"

"Right!" In seconds we were on the ground, wrestling viciously. Then a bucket of cold water hit us both. Isobel then attempted to give us a lecture, hampered by the fact that she was shaking with laughter. Sandy and I looked at each other, and suddenly we began to laugh as well.