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Bitter Harvest

BITTER HARVEST - Excerpt only, incomplete
by  Rita Ractliffe (lovpeppard)

Rated:  Entire book will be R-X overall, this chapter PG-13 Summary:  Hannibal has surrendered himself to Vietnam to save his 4 year old son.   Hannibal is being put into solitary a lot, and these are some of his recollections while trying to pass the time.

Warnings:  Ultimate book:  Very Adult themes, cons M/F sex, VC/Russian torture for information, Laotian/Cambodian border atrocities.  Ultimate book not for weak stomached.


Disclaimer: A-Team characters were created by Cannell and Lupo and are owned by Universal.


Original characters and story otherwise belong to me. Copyright: 2000



 //How long will it take for them to catch on that I really don't know?//  He didn't mind buying into the stiff upper lip ploy when there was something `real' for him to protect, some way he was safeguarding his country by his silence.  But this was ridiculous.  Always one to resent pointless punishment, Hannibal was growing  increasingly frustrated at their inability to get past this one area.  //But really, it's more than just the bank - the money - they're taking out all their latent hostility on all the Special Forces ops over the years.  They've got me good; legally bound by their laws to be punished, now they're making up for all the years of humiliations B all the POWs who escaped all those years, not just us; all the POWs who would not break, would not bend to the will of their captors and who ultimately went home with honor.  I'm just a symbol for all those they couldn't break B all those failures.//  Smith understood the rationale, but he was just one man - one very tired man at this point.

This couldn't go on much longer without him finally succumbing.  //But not breaking - you haven't broken me in 20 plus years; I'll be damned if I'll give you the satisfaction now!//


Sitting alone in the dark, Hannibal found he was losing track of time since they had conveniently placed him in a cell where he  could not see the passing of day to dark and reverse.  The only way  he  had to know days were passing were the food trays that were left  inside his door twice a day.  They would remove the bottom slat from  the door, slide the tray in and then replace and lock it again.  If  he  did not place the tray back in the same spot, then they would not  feed  him the next meal.  It took a few times for him to catch on, and  seeing no purpose in overt rebellion, he complied.  He fully intended  to be as model a prisoner as he could, given circumstances.

 Having nothing to do to pass the time, Hannibal began delving  back into his memory, digging out old bits and pieces of his life and reviewing them, estimating them, judging them and himself in the process.   //When you sit down and think about it, it's been a pretty interesting ride.//  He called up memories of his parents, and their premature deaths in Korea.  That had always been a sore ache in his heart and he had always blamed himself.  If he hadn't been wounded, then Mom wouldn't have been traveling on that damned road to come see him.  It was bad enough that Dad had died in battle only a couple of days before, but for her to be taken too just because of a goddamned land mine had always filled him with an impotent rage.  Unable to  find any way to let his anger out, he had finally condemned it to the back recesses of his mind, and finally shut all the doors and would not talk about his parents any more.  He'd been given the appropriate  medals and honors for having survived in a war that made no sense,  and  then spent about ten years knocking about the world, going wherever  he  was sent, honing his skills and slowly but surely rising in the  ranks. Post-war Korea, Japan, Germany, West Berlin - none of them held  any  particular attraction for him - he simply went where he was sent and went through the  motions.

Then came Vietnam and they needed officers, tested officers,  to put in the field.  He'd signed up for tours there since he had  nowhere else really to go.  When marriage to Jan had proved to be a  commitment he couldn't make, and Jack Harmon was more than ready and  willing to jump into the void, he mentally shrugged, figuring it was all for the best. She wanted stability, she got it.  Harmon was not a  terribly intelligent nor charismatic man, but he was stable.  He  remembered their parting just before he went back to `Nam...

..."She's going to marry me, Smith.  Not you.  So why don't  you get your sorry ass out of here and leave us alone."  Harmon was  never one to mince words.

"I wish you both the best."  Hannibal tried to keep the  sarcasm from his voice.  He loved Jan desperately, but he could not  give up his life in the Army and knew, pragmatically, that he would  always have an itchy foot.  Jan had made it abundantly clear that she did not intend to be an Army `wife' traipsing all over the world,  never having a home to really call her own, and especially in the  small police action turning dirty that was called Vietnam.  She  wanted  no part of it.    If he would not give up his career in the military,  then she was sorry, but she couldn't, wouldn't share his life.

It tore his heart apart.  For a few days, he'd gone on a  bender, the likes of which he'd never experienced before.  When he  finally came out of his drunken haze, he shipped back off to Vietnam  for yet another tour, trying to rationalize to himself that it was  for  the best.  He had the Team waiting for him -- the "family' he was  creating for himself.  //If you really love her, you would give it  up... all of it. So it must not be love, John.//  He tried to  convince himself, but never totally succeeded, and like the memory of  his parents, he locked it away in a small, dark closet of his soul,  nevermore to be looked at but to be kept and cherished as a musty  past  memory.

 Except Jan could not quite shake the handsome soldier out of  her life, and when she had Kyle, nicknamed `Kid', she'd made sure  that  he knew about it, asking him to be one of the boy's godfathers at the  very late christening.  Kid was already seven and a little old for  it,  but she and Jack had always argued about everything, including  religion, until they both realized they were putting the child's soul  in danger. Hannibal had accepted, but said there was probably no way  he could get back to do it in person.  Her letter had shed a wealth  of  her understanding of him and how he was hooked together.

"Dear John,                                 

I know you won't be able to join us for the  christening, but we have a surrogate standing in for you, so that you  will be officially his godfather.  Jack wasn't too thrilled, but he  has always understood that I will always love you, even if I couldn't  live with you.                                 

I pray every night that you survive that dreadful war  over there and that you will come back home to all of us.  I know Kid  wants to see you again.  Jack was so angry with me because I wanted  to  name him John that we nearly separated over it. But he finally  relented when I told him that John was the proper name for Jack in  any  case.  Aren't I the clever one? And anyway, Kyle is his father's  name,  so he couldn't say much.                                 

Stay well, dear John, and come see us the next time  you get some time free.  You will love Kid, he's such a wire!  If I  didn't know better, I'd almost think he was your boy.  He is so  unlike  Jack in personality.  But then that would have been the pits, huh, if  I'd had a blonde kid?  Jack would have never believed that we never  slept together... and that is something I will always regret, sweet,  that I turned you down that night.  But you were more sensible than I  (why couldn't you have been so with the Army thing?).                                 

Have to run to get this posted.  Take care John.                                                         

Jan Harmon

 Jan had never known how close he'd come to chucking the whole  damned Army `thing' and going back to try to repair the damage  and see  if he could win her back.  And then she had died in childbirth trying  to have her second baby and so it was one more thing that he locked  away in that secret closet of his.  Jack had sent him a scathing  letter telling him his presence was not wanted and to stay away.  But  Hannibal took his vows of godfather-hood seriously and made it a  point  to check in on the family whenever he got leave in the U.S.  Kid had  always loved seeing his "uncle" John and so they'd remained  connected,  despite Jack's sour and dour efforts to prevent it.  Then when they  had the trouble with the Hanoi mission, his own life created the  chasm  that kept him and the boy apart.  Kyle was the closest thing he had  to  a son, besides the Team.  Smiling to himself, he often wondered if  Face ever really knew how much he regarded him as a `son'.

Having gotten onto that track, Hannibal's mind replayed the  situation that had caused all the chaos in his life to start with...

...They'd been cranking over the rutted and potty roads like  the demons of hell were after them B which considering the VC's  propensities, they probably were.

 His cigar clamped tightly between  clenched teeth, Smith hung onto the window frame for dear life, as BA  drove the unwieldy amored truck at speeds it had never been designed  for.  Ever so often he would hit a pothole or a missing piece of  asphalt and they would all get tossed upwards to hit the ceiling and  bounce down again.  Face was holding on to two tiedown straps from  the  center frame bar to keep himself from being bounced completely out of  the truck.

                         Smith's grin was demonic.  Dangerous or not, he was having the  time of his life.  The thrillseeker in his nature was scaling the  heights with all the adrenaline flowing from this impromptu escape.  Once their originally planned transportation had been lost, it had  been improvisation all the way.  Ditching the small jeep Face had commandeered outside the city, they'd found this hulking troop carrier parked with the engine on.  How could you argue with luck like that? "How much further, BA?"  His voice  was mostly lost over the loud clunking of the complaining engine.

                         "Dunno.  You say 15 klicks earlier.  We gotta be pretty close  by now."  Baracus had his hands full just keeping the steering wheel  even.

                         "We should be seeing the cutback area any time."  Hannibal was  working straight from his memory; the precious maps they'd had with  them had been stowed in the original vehicle. "There, that looks like  it!"  He tried to lean his head out the window just as BA hit another  chuckhole, and nearly brained himself on the frame again.

                          A sudden, sickening snap skewed the truck all over the road.  They all held on desperately as the truck took its own path.

          "BA!  What the hell happened?"  Hannibal knew whatever it was,  it might have just spelled their death warrants.

                         "The axle, man, the axle!  It done snapped!" BA was doing a  heroic job of keeping the truck upright.  Realizing that he didn't  have much longer to control the truck's path, he slewed it around in  a  tight 90 degree  turn, slamming it into a grove of large mangrove trees and  huge bamboo tubes, effectively blocking the road to any other traffic.

                         "Good move, BA!"  Smith thoroughly approved the maneuver.  //Quick thinking, Sergeant!//  Scrambling out of the door, he grabbed  his two bags of money and then looked in the back.  "Coming, lieutenant?"

                         Face was still trying to get re-situated from having been  thrown across the bed of the truck during BA's last spin. Slightly  dizzy, he grabbed his sacks and tossed them out, followed by their  armaments.  BA, also out of the truck by now, caught a couple of the  bags, set them down and then took the rifles that Peck handed out.

                         "Now whadda we do, Hannibal?"  BA looked around nervously.  The damned Cong had been on their tails for most of the ride.  It was  going to be a real squeak to get across the border.

                         "What else?  We run like hell."  Smith had been shrugging into  packs and attaching everything he could to them. Finally ready, he  turned to the two other men, who had been likewise occupied.  Hoisting  his M-16, he pointed off in one direction.  "The defoliation starts  over there, so I'm thinking that's our best bet. The road curves  around a lot, so this way will be straighter and quicker.  Anyway,  they're gonna be tied up for awhile trying to get that truck outta  the  way."  Smith's pleased smirk told his two men how very happy he was  considering the dire straights they were in.

                         "Don' you go gettin' on the jazz, Colonel.  We ain' made it  yet."  BA's practical nature came out.

                          "He's right, Hannibal.  Let's get moving... now!"

          Smith smiled at them for a moment longer, then took off loping  towards the area he'd pointed out.  Following on his heels, they were  careful to shadow his every step, knowing full well the area was full  of landmines.

                         It had been a really strenuous hump, the humidity sucking out  all their body moisture and energy along with it. Hannibal was  pouring sweat when he finally called a halt.  "Shhh, guys.  I think I  hear something."  They all silenced and listened to the sounds around  them: jeep engines, people tromping noisily through the underbrush,  and finally good old American slang coming across a walkie talkie.

                         Hannibal grinned like a cheshire cat.  "I think we have  arrived, gentlemen."  Pulling out another cigar to replace the one  which had gotten trashed in the crash of the truck, he bit off the tip, spat it out and happily started chewing down the end.  Waving  his hand, he led them forward through the underbrush until they came face to face with a GI patrol - with all rifles pointed at them!

                         "Whoa!  Hey guys, we're US Army... put down the rifles!"  Hannibal had been expecting a lot of things, but not quite this.  "Boy, are we glad to see you!"

                         "We know who you are, Colonel Smith.  Put your weapons down  and raise your hands."  The non-comm in charge looked at them like  they were dirt.

                         Smith turned to his men, a puzzled look on his face.  "Do what  they say, guys.  I don't know what's going on here, but I'm sure  we'll  get it straightened out."  He leaned forward, lay his rifle down on  the ground, then shrugged out of the backpacks and set them down too,  while BA and Face followed suit.  Putting his hands in the air,  Hannibal tried to figure out what this was all about.

                         "Now, put your hands behind your head, spread your legs and  stay still."

                          Hannibal looked at the Team again.  Something was wrong here,  but he didn't have a clue what it could be.  "Y'mind tellin' me what  the hell is going on here?"  He looked carefully at the rank insignia  of the soldier in charge.  "Uh, Captain?"

                         "You are under arrest, Colonel Smith.  You and your men."

                         "What?!"  The cigar dropped from Hannibal's lips unnoticed in  his shock at the statement.  "Arrest?  For what, chrissakes?"

                         "Robbing the Bank of Hanoi."  The Captain looked particularly  smug.  "We've been expecting you."

                         "Well, uh yeah, we did, but it was under orders.  Call up  Colonel Morrison at [name of camp] and he'll tell you."

                         "Colonel Morrison is dead."

                         Hannibal Smith's face went white.  If Morrison had been killed  and hadn't told anyone else they were on the mission, then they were  in one hell of pile of shit.  "When?  How?"

                         "Two days ago, after you and your men left the camp."  The  captain was really enjoying this.  Hannibal Smith was loved by his  men  but despised by most of the higher-ups because he would not follow  the  rules exactly to their liking.  He served under one of those Generals  who hated Smith's guts and was relishing informing him about Smith's  fall from grace.  "How, Colonel Smith?  I would think you would be  able to tell me about that."

                         "What are you talking about?"  Hannibal was now in no mood to  play word games.

                         "Right after you left, the whole camp came in for a heavy set  of shelling.  Too much of it was too precise in the hits.  Someone  had  to have told the VC where things were located, since we had moved  things around a couple of days before."

                          "I know.  I helped Morrison move his tent to the lower side of  the camp... farther away from the ammo dump.  How many others were  killed?"  Hannibal's nature as a commander came into bearing; he'd  had  other men in that camp, 6 others assigned to his particular A-Team.

                         "Too many."

                         "Dammit, I want names!"  Smith's temper was close to the edge  and about to explode at this little poppinjay's antics.

                         "Krowsky, Randall, Germane, Hollander, Alvarez, Jones,  Sorenson, Chang, Ngyuen Li, and a few others."

                         Smith suddenly felt sick.  Six names from his unit.  He looked  back over his shoulder at Peck and Baracus.  The shock was on their  faces as well.  More than half their unit had been totally wiped out  as well as Morrison.  Then he turned back to the pissy captain.  "God  help them."

                         "Little late for that, Colonel.  You shoulda thought of that  before you sold them out."  He moved toward Smith with a pair of  handcuffs.

                         Hannibal's temper couldn't be contained any longer.  Realizing  now that he was considered a traitor and also guilty of killing his  own men, he knew these men would look for any excuse to do him in,  but  he could not resist the urge to pop the sanctimonious jerk in front  of  him.  As the Captain came up to him, Smith decked him with a solid  right, sending the man to the ground hard.  Standing over him with a  look of pure and utter satisfaction, he then looked up to realize  that  every rifle in the place was aimed at his heart.

                         BA and Peck had started to move.   Hannibal saw it and waved  them back.  "Leave it, guys.  Do what they tell you. This one was  just for me."   He looked down at the moaning soldier on the ground.  "Just following orders, Captain."  He immediately raised his hands up  and locked them behind his head.  Fighting would get them nothing  here  except killed.  //There's been some snafu... we'll get it  straightened  out, but not if we're six feet under.//  He flinched as a burly  sergeant and an MP moved to him, roughly grabbing his wrists and  shackling them behind his back.

                         "Hannibal?  What are we going to do?"  Face's voice was lost  and worried.  //To escape the VC for this?//

                          "Do what you're told, guys.  We'll get this all sorted out  back at camp.  I don't know what's been going on since we left, but I  do know Morrison sent out a copy of those orders to Washington, so  we're safe."

                         The MP suddenly shoved him forward and stuck out his foot as  he did so, so Smith tripped and went sprawling into the muck.  Without  his hands to balance him, he took the fall bad, landing on his right  shoulder and sliding forward, ripping his cheek and laying it bare  from the root-covered terrain.  The MP gave him a swift, hard kick  in  the groin while he was down, payback for Smith's attack on the  Captain, causing Smith to curl up in a tight ball of sudden, gut wrenching agony.

                         BA had been tractable until that moment. Already shackled,  nevertheless his bulk could make quite a battering ram and he ran  towards the MP intent on getting his licks in.  //Don' no one do that  to Hannibal!  No one!//  Seeing his CO kicked while he was down and  helpless brought back all the bad memories from the VC camp and  Dien's  insane punishments of Smith and sent BA over the edge.  The MP saw  him  coming, turned and raised his rifle.

                         Raising his head, Hannibal saw him too, and desperately trying  to catch his breath, barked out orders.  "Stop it, BA!  Do what he  tells you.  I'm fine.  I will be okay, just got to catch my breath."

                         Baracus stopped mid-stride, not because of fear of the MP nor  his rifle, but only because his CO had ordered it.  He looked back at  Smith lying in the muck and saw his eyebrow quirk up and then saw him  mouth, "Not here, BA... not like this."

                         Nodding, BA stood at loose attention while they put more  chains around him.

                         The soldiers surrounded Smith and hauled him to his feet,  ignoring the blood pouring from the fresh wounds on his cheekbone and  eyebrow.  The sudden motion made him dizzy and he swayed for a  moment,  looking like he might pass out.  The MP's grabbed his arms and held  him tightly upright until they felt the shakes stop.

                          Face stood in stunned silence, watching all of the events  unfold.  He simply could not believe this was happening. They were  being arrested for carrying out their orders?  What in hell was the  justice in that?  Then when the MP brutalized Hannibal and BA nearly  followed suit, it hit him hard B they were damned if those orders  couldn't be found.  He'd heard the subdued undertone of anger in the  Captain's voice when he'd called out the roll-call of the dead soldiers at camp.  Of course, they were his friends too, and if he thought that the Team had had anything to do with it, he would probably want any excuse to execute them on the spot.  Peck looked  back at Hannibal to see the usually bouyant colonel watching him  closely, understanding he'd reached the same conclusion.

                         Hannibal shook his head slightly.  //Don't give `em any guff,  guys... any excuse to kill you.  We will get this straightened out...  we will.// .....

                         ... //Oh yeah, we got it straightened out alright.  Shipped  back stateside, to be stuck in prison, run through a sham of a trial,  then stuck back in the slammer...//  Smith sighed heavily at the long-forgotten memories.  It had been a long time since he'd even  consciously thought about the `homecoming' they'd had when they  came out of northern Vietnam the second time.  Their lives had never been  the same afterwards.  He remembered when they were interviewed by  their counsel for the defense and how totally disinterested the man was in anything they had to say.  He=d kept reiterating that the papers had to be found.  If they could do that, all this would be straightened out.  The lawyer had been unimpressed, saying that teams of researchers had been looking through all the papers that had come out of Vietnam at that time, and there were no orders for any such mission.  Hannibal knew they were screwed when he heard that. What he could never understand was who would have done it to them... and why.  If someone had a vendetta against him, then fine, attack him personally but for God's sake, to kill six men and destroy the lives of three others?  He'd never been able to reconcile it and knew if he ever found out who hated him so much, he just might cross the line and take his cold-blooded vengeance, for himself and for all the men.  Face, BA and Murdock had suffered equally much, and he would take it for them as well.  They had trusted him and look what it got them!...



BITTER HARVEST - Excerpt only, incomplete by Rita Ractliffe



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