Chapter Fourteen

Storming the compound was pure chaos. As much as the BAU had hoped it would go smoothly, they were met with opposition from everyone. Men stood their ground, women locked themselves in houses, older children threw stones. The moment they crossed through the gate, a rock smacked Reid on his face, causing a gash under his eye. Blood trickled down from where his face was bruising until he wiped it off with his sleeve, gun in hand, and proceeded through the crowds.

Palmer resisted the urge to check on Reid, instead she just glanced in his direction but he only looked forward, all of his attention on the task at hand. These people didn't have many guns, but they were likely to use them against this invading force. Everything they had ever known was being threatened in this moment, and they would do anything to preserve their way of life.

Sticking close to Reid, Palmer made her way through the compound toward the main houses, while the SWAT team took control of the situation in the main town. Hotch gave the signal for Palmer and Reid to check the doctor's house and the pair broke off to find the boy who they had found in the dungeons.

The doctor tried to bar his door against them, but to no avail. Reid pushed the door open, careful not to injure the elderly physician in the process. When Palmer passed the old man, he stepped back and spat at her feet, cursing her as a witch. She swallowed hard, tired of being called that. Tired of the set of strange abuses the men of the compound had forced her and JJ to endure. They had done nothing but treat them like a plague since they arrived and Palmer was sick of it.

Instead of pistol whipping the man like she wanted to do, she ignored him and followed Reid, almost afraid to let him out of her sights. They opened the door and saw the boy in a bed, bandaged. He had been sleeping until the agents forced their way in and now he was staring at them groggily, rubbing his eyes.

"John?" He whispered.

"No. Peter, I'm Agent Palmer and this is Doctor Reid. We're here to help you. Just stay still, I'll call in the paramedics." She assured him before reaching for her walkie. "This is Agent Palmer, we need a medic at the doctor's house. There's an injured child here."

"Is John alright?" Peter asked, tears in his eyes. "He did nothing wrong. They made me give his name."

"It's okay, we know you don't mean harm to your brother." Reid said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "But Peter, we need to know who did this to you. It's important."

Peter looked between the two agents, hesitant about telling them anything.

"If you don't tell us who did this, we can't stop them from hurting you again, or from hurting your brother." Palmer said, trying her best to convince the boy without being too harsh.

"Bishop." He said quietly. "Bishop and the other leaders."

The paramedics rushed in, pushing aside the doctor as he tried to protest them taking his patient. They immediately went to work on the boy, checking his wounds to prepare him for transport to a hospital.

"Help John. Please, you must help him." Peter said as Reid and Palmer rushed out to join their team.

Palmer lagged behind a bit, limping more heavily now on her ankle but pressing forward at the sight of the others gathered in the area in front of the big houses. "Hotch, paramedics have the boy. He confirmed what we thought, it's Bishop. We need to get to the tunnels now." Palmer said.

Hotch motioned over the Sheriff. "We're headed down now."

"I'll lead." Sheriff West said before striding up the steps of Bishop's house. Hotch followed him closely, gun at the ready. The whole team rushed through the door and Riley limped along last, after Reid.

"Riley, you need to go back." Reid said as they reached the front door of Bishop's house. He stuck out an arm to block her entry. "Please Riley. We can handle this." He pleaded. Having her down there would only put her in further danger.

"Spencer, I'm going with you. Move." She said, aware after she said it and pushed past him just how firm she had been with him. An apology would be in order later but for now they had to get to the tunnels. This time it was Reid who had to catch up, as Riley's forceful behavior caught him off guard.

Palmer lowered herself into the tunnels, landing easily on the dirt floor. The team waited in silence, the gleam of their weapons faintly visible in the light that filtered from the hole above. Reid descended and they crept forward.

At the section where the tunnels crossed, Hotch motioned for Rossi and JJ to take the left, Morgan and Reid to take the right. Reid glanced back at Riley moments before disappearing into the darkness. A sick feeling stuck with him as he followed Morgan. He wished he had been strong enough to make her stay behind, but she was strong. She was her own person and he knew he would have to change his way of thinking, his way of treating her, if they were ever going to work together as a team. He also knew he would have to start trusting the other members of the BAU with her life, like he trusted them with his own.

Riley paused for a split second before following Hotch and Sheriff West toward the torture chamber. Voices could be heard ahead, speaking angrily in hushed tones. Another sound, more faint, caused Riley's blood to run cold. It was a child, crying, quietly. It had to be John.

The trio stopped just short of the curtain, Sheriff West's hand gripped the fabric tightly, he counted to three in nearly a whisper, then they tore open the curtains and drew their aim on Bishop and two of the other town elders. The three men leaped back in shock, one dropping some sort of metal object to the floor.

Braziers between the two groups separated them with flames. "Let the boy go." Hotch demanded, his steely gaze locked on Bishop. But the other man merely sneered and snatched up the boy by his collar.

"You want a heretic? Take him." Bishop tossed the boy to the floor and the child scrambled away to Riley, who was motioning to him. She pushed him behind her, telling him to stay still.

"You're all under arrest. Don't make us do this the hard way." Sheriff West said, circling around to the right as Hotch mirrored him to the left. Riley pushed John back behind the curtain with one hand, assuring him that everything would be alright but that he needed to stay behind the curtain and out of sight before she stepped forward.

Bishop put up his hands and the other two elders looked at each other in confusion. Their leader was giving up too easily. Everything they knew, everything they had fought for, and their parents before them had fought for, was about to go up in flames.

Sheriff West holstered his weapon and eased toward Bishop. The older man turned his back on the Sheriff, putting his hands behind him in willing arrest; but as he did so, Riley saw Bishop's face. The smirk across his thin lips, the reflection of fire in his eyes, all played well into the devilish air he was giving off. Before she could even speak, Bishop reared his head back, smashing into Sheriff Wests' face. The officer stumbled back, clutching at his nose, which was now pouring blood.

Hotch leaped into action, catching one of the Elders across the cheek with his pistol so hard the man was unconscious before he even hit the floor. The other Elder grabbed up a strange looking knife but as he turned to meet Hotch, slashing the wickedly curved blade at the agent, he was taken down by a shot to the chest.

Riley quickly arrested the unconscious man as Hotch went to help West with Bishop, who was attacking the Sheriff relentlessly with some large crude pliers. He grabbed Bishop from behind, the pliers landing a blinding blow on his temple as he did so. The world went hazy, his ears rung so loudly, all other sound was drown out.

The commotion was heard all throughout the tunnels, and when the sound of gunfire reached Reid's ears he shot off and left Morgan in the dark with only a moment's hesitation before he too was sprinting through the pitch black tunnel, hot on Reid's heels. Another shot fired and Reid resisted the urge to call out for Riley. He should never have left her.

When they rounded the corner they were met by Rossi and JJ from the other direction and the whole team burst into the torture chamber ready for anything.

Hotch was on the floor, attempting to sit up, Riley stood over the body of one man who was knocked out and handcuffed, gun drawn and aimed in the direction of the Sheriff, who had fallen back onto a spiked chair, Bishop dead at his feet. Rossi and Morgan rushed to the Sheriff, but they had no idea how to help him.

"Call the paramedics, but don't move him." Riley instructed as Reid approached her. "Those spikes aren't long enough to hit any vital organs and they'll stop the blood loss for a short time. But you need to get those medics down here ASAP." She panted, holstering her weapon. Her hands were still shaking but she waved off Reid, who reluctantly turned tail and ran off down the tunnels to find a paramedic.

JJ helped Hotch to a small wooden bench beside the large brazier, inspecting the wound on his head. Within a couple of minutes the paramedics were at the hole where Riley had fallen through before, chopping away at it with axes to open the hole. There as no way they could lift the injured Sheriff through the small opening in the house, this was their own hope for getting him out alive.

Riley leaned back against the wall, the pain in her ankle worse than ever and she knew she had strained it far past it's figurative breaking point. All she wanted was to be off of it and to see all of this over with. The cherry on top would be if the whole compound burned to the ground and the people would finally be free. Not that they would see it that way.

Hotch clapped a hand on her shoulder as the paramedics prepared the Sheriff to be moved. Once they lifted him from the torture device blood seeped from his wounds.

"Will he be alright?" Riley asked quietly, thinking about his poor wife and child waiting for him.

"I don't know." Hotch replied calmly. He hoped the Sheriff would be alright, but he was in the medic's hands now. There was nothing else the BAU could do but hope for the best. "Look, everything is wrapping up here. You and JJ go ahead and load up. We'll be there in a minute."

Riley took one more look at the body of the man she had killed, unsure of how to feel about it all, before turning her back and limping back down the tunnels and away from that terrible place forever.