The Sound of Thunder Part II: Section 1
by Range Ryder
Rating: PG for Angst
Archive: Yeah, I think it's ok since Sockii's got the zine it's in online.
Summary: missing scene for ep. Sound of Thunder, How the guys got out of Vietnam, where they went to get Murdock treated for his wound, how they managed to not get accused of kidnapping and killing General Fulbright, etc.
*words* = character thinking to himself or dreaming---can't
(historian's note: this story takes place in 1986 at the end of the mission to Vietnam to find General Fulbright's daughter)
"Let's go, Colonel." Captain H.M. Murdock shouted from the cockpit of the chopper as he set it down. In the copilot's seat, Lieutenant Templeton "Face" Peck was breathing hard. He and Murdock had reached the helicopter as it had begun to take off and had found themselves dangling from the skids while the Vietnamese pilot desperately tried to shake them off. Although the struggle was over within seconds, it had seemed like an eternity to Face as the ground dropped away beneath him. He had finally managed to pull himself into the cockpit and toss the copilot out, only to see that Murdock was still dangling as the bird continued through a series of twisting and bobbing motions. Several frightening moments later, Murdock managed to get a leg up onto the skid and after grabbing the door frame with his free hand, pulled himself inside, pausing to eject the pilot. The chopper had immediately spun out of control, dipping perilously close to the ground before Murdock had been able to right it and set down.
From his position in the copilot's seat, Face could see the shack where General Fulbright had been held captive. Fulbright's daughter, Tia, was within 25 feet of the chopper and closing the distance fast. Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith and Sergeant B.A. Baracus were moving more slowly as they struggled to support Fulbright who was still unable to stand on his own.
I never want to have to do that again. Face thought, shuddering and looking around to see if they had been flanked. As he turned back toward the shack where Vietnamese troops had already reestablished their position, he heard a shot and saw Fulbright stiffen and then go limp. On either side of him, Hannibal and B.A. struggled to maintain speed and balance as they covered the remaining distance to the chopper. "They're in, letĖs go, Murdock!" Face yelled as Hannibal and B.A. climbed aboard, hauling Fulbright with them.
A short burst of rifle fire ripped through the skin of the chopper and Face started at the sharp intake of breath beside him. He turned to the right in time to see Murdock recoil against the seat, his head thrown back and his mouth open in shock. "Are you all right?" Face asked. As it dawned on him that the pilot had been hit, he placed his right hand on Murdock's shoulder to steady him and with his left, began to smooth the pilot's clothing to see where he had been wounded.
"Uhhhh.....I may not make it to the States...." Murdock shifted forward slightly and then back again as he realized he could not move away from the pain. "...I can...uhhn......probably make it back to the plane" he managed to finish.
As they lifted off, the lieutenant noted a small patch of red in the upper left quadrant of the pilot's chest seeping through his leather flight jacket. He pulled the jacket away to get a better look, but the chopper dipped suddenly downward as Murdock initiated a sequence of evasive maneuvers. Face released the jacket, grabbed the back of the pilot's seat with his right hand and, with his left, held firmly onto the pilot's shoulder as he concentrated on keeping himself and Murdock in their seats. After a few seconds of hair raising zig-zags and sudden altitude changes, they settled into a more normal flight pattern and he began to relax. "Looks like we lost 'em." he said, then asked, "Are you doing ok?... Murdock?"
At the sound of his name, the captain gave a wan smile "...yeah, a little woozy, is all, Faceman."
Keeping both hands on the pilot, Face turned toward the back of the helicopter to see how the others were doing. The other team members and Tia appeared to be unharmed and unaware of Murdock's condition. A look from Hannibal told the lieutenant that Fulbright was dead. He turned back to Murdock.
In the rear section of the helicopter, Hannibal, B.A. and Tia were buffeted back and forth as Murdock took the aircraft through a series of evasive maneuvers. "What we gonna do, Hannibal?" asked B.A. "No one gonna believe that Fulbright hired us to do this job," he said, thinking about the young lieutenant who had been on duty when they stole General Eckworth's plane. Fulbright had told him he needed it to transport the captured A-team, but when the young officer hesitated, they had improvised, snatching Fulbright's pistol and pretending to take him hostage. Eckworth had driven up just as they had boarded the plane and taxied down the runway. Now, there was a lieutenant and a general out there who had "seen" them "kidnap" Fulbright. "Hannibal, they gonna think we killed Fulbright" he added.
"One thing at a time, Sergeant. The most important thing right now is to get out of here in one piece." Hannibal began, but was interrupted as the chopper rocked violently from side to side and then settled back down. He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted toward the front "Murdock, what's going on up there?" Getting no response, he turned to B.A. "Weapons status?"
"My rifle's empty, Hannibal. I have nine rounds of .45ACP left in my service pistol. I picked up a nine millimeter when we took the shack... it has four rounds left in the magazine." B.A. reported.
"Okay, I saw Murdock and Face drop their rifles when they went for the chopper. They may or may not have ammo for their service pistols. Check around for any weapons that our friends may have left on board. I have a feeling Murdock's got his hands full keeping this thing in the air. He may need to ditch it before we get back to the plane. If we end up on foot, I want to be prepared." He looked toward the front of the chopper just as Face turned toward the back. As their eyes met, Hannibal read the concern on Peck's face and began to worry about Murdock's silence. Whatever's going on up there, it's got Face spooked, he thought to himself, wondering if that last burst of gunfire from the ground had damaged the hydraulics.
"Hannibal! There's a case of grenades over here and one AK47 with a full magazine. That's it." B.A. shouted over the noise of the rotors. Then he added "I ain't heard a peep out of Murdock since we been in the air. I don't like it."
"Yeah, I know. Things must be pretty dicey up there. He didn't howl when we took off." Hannibal replied.
As the chopper settled to the ground beside the plane, B.A. looked at Hannibal. "What about Fulbright, Colonel?"
Hannibal bent down beside the dead General. "We put him on the plane. He deserves a proper burial, and I know someone who'll see to it that he gets one with full military honors, if we can get him back to the States. LetĖs go." He and B.A. lifted the General out of the helicopter. "Tia, run for the plane. We're right behind you."
"I ain't gonna fly." B.A. protested as they approached the small jet.
"You got on the chopper, didn't you?" Hannibal pointed out.
"Yeah, but there wasn't no choice with all them Vietnamese soldiers shootin' at us from all directions." B.A. said. "I'll help you get Fulbright on the plane, then I'll get my own ride back."
"Suit yourself" said Hannibal, beginning the climb up the stairs to the plane.
As they laid the General's body in the cargo section of the plane and covered it with a blanket, B.A. asked "What about Tia, Hannibal?"
"Well, she can't stay here. Fulbright has been officially declared a war criminal. Now that he's dead Tia is of no use to them. She'll probably be declared an enemy of the state." Hannibal glanced out the door toward the chopper. "Go tell Face and Murdock to hurry up, we haven't got all day. I'll get the engines started." B.A. hurried off. The colonel moved toward the front of the plane, calling over his shoulder to Tia, "Find a seat and strap yourself in. We're taking off as soon as Murdock gets here." Rummaging through the onboard first aid kit, he found a sedative and muttered to himself "Now, I just have to figure out how to get this into B.A. when they get here."
As B.A. approached the helicopter, he could see Face silhouetted in the center of the cockpit next to the pilot's seat. "Hurry up, Faceman, the Colonel says we ain't got all day," he shouted through the doorway at the lieutenant's back. Then, noting that Face and Murdock appeared to be having a conversation, he added "What's takin' you so long, anyway? Tell that fool to shut up and get over here, now!"
Ignoring B.A., Face squatted next to the captain "Come on, Murdock, stay with me, we've got to get to the plane. Then we're home free." He gripped the pilot's left wrist with his left hand, ducked his head, and gently draped Murdock's arm over his shoulder. He turned his head and shouted over the noise of the still turning rotors "B.A., give me a hand here. He's been hit...I'll lift him out of the seat, you go around to the other side and I'll hand him down to you." As B.A. ran around the front of the chopper, Face slid his right arm around the pilot's waist. "Okay, Murdock, on the count of three we're going to stand up. Think you can handle it?"
"Piece of cake, Faceman..." Murdock mumbled drowsily. Then began to sing softly to himself "One, Two, Three, Four, what're we fightin' for..."
When B.A. appeared in the doorway on the pilot's side of the chopper and nodded that he was ready, Face said "Okay, lets do it, Captain.....One, Two, Three, up we go..." as they stood up, Murdock grunted in pain, but managed to get his legs working well enough to move unsteadily toward the door where B.A. was waiting.
"You gonna be all right. I'm gonna get you out of here, Murdock," B.A. said reaching for the pilot. "Wait, don't move... let Faceman ÎnĖ me do it." Holding on to Murdock's legs, B.A. took most of the pilot's weight while Face lowered him out of the helicopter. Once they had gotten the captain's feet on the ground B.A. said to him "Okay, buddy. Now, hold onto my shoulder while I straighten up... yeah, good..." He slid his left arm up around the pilot's waist and said "Okay, I got him, Face....Let's go!"
Face jumped out of the helicopter and landed beside them, reaching for the pilot's wrist. "All right. Left arm up around me, just like before, Murdock. That's it." Then, as the captain clenched his eyes shut and hissed in pain, said "Take it slow, B.A., he's really hurting."
Hannibal looked through the windshield of the airplane in time to see B.A. run to the other side of the helicopter. The vague concern he had felt earlier turned to dread as B.A. and Face reappeared, holding Murdock upright between them. He watched for a moment as they slowly made their way to the plane. No wonder Face looked so scared. ... Thank God Murdock's been giving me flight lessons, he thought as he finished the engine start up procedure, ran through the preflight checklist and then made his way back to the door. He hadn't soloed yet, and it was pretty clear that he would never be the highly skilled combat pilot that Murdock was, but he had been through the basics of takeoff, navigation and landing. "I wish we'd managed to log more hours in the air" he muttered to himself. The mission to rescue the Beller Air jet from highjackers a few years back had been a wakeup call. Murdock had been temporarily blinded by powder burns and had had to talk Hannibal through the landing at LAX. Soon after, they had decided that another team member needed to be able to take the controls in an emergency. Hannibal was elected. Unfortunately, the difficulties of trying to scam a plane and simultaneously get Murdock out of the V.A. meant that time for flight lessons had been limited. On a few occasions, after missions that had gone smoothly, Murdock had coached Hannibal through routine flight procedures, but they had both agreed that a typical mission was not the ideal learning environment.
As the three men neared the plane, the Colonel could see that B.A. and Face were working hard to keep the pilot upright, although he was still conscious. "How bad is it?" he called.
"I don't know, Hannibal," Face responded. "It happened right before we took off, and I haven't been able to take a good look at it.... " He stopped and looked at Murdock who mumbled something "Say again Murdock?" he asked, but the pilot didn't respond.
B.A. answered for him, shouting over the noise of the jet's engines. "Murdock said he can get the bird in the air, but he don't know about landin' it. He said you might have to do it, Hannibal."
They reached the stairs leading up to the cabin of the jet and paused to let Murdock catch his breath. "Did you get that, Hannibal?" Face called up to the colonel, who was standing in the doorway. "What do you want to do? Maybe I can scam a car somewhere, we could drive north into China...."
Hannibal shrugged, "I don't think we have a choice, Lieutenant. The army will have all the roads out of the country blocked by now so I don't think a car will do us any good. If we weren't going to go by air, our best bet would be to hike. Now, Captain Murdock here is obviously not up for that." he said, indicating the pilot leaning heavily against B.A.
"But Hannibal, you haven't soloed yet." Face protested.
"Murdock says Hannibal can do it." B.A. interrupted. "Quicker we get him on the plane, quicker we get him to a doctor and he need a doctor now."
"Okay, up it is." Face said as he placed his foot on the bottom step and began to coach Murdock. "Left foot up, Captain, that's good, now right..." The three men made their way slowly up the steps. Just beyond the midpoint the captain cried out in pain, then weakly reassured Face and B.A. that he was all right. But it was all he could do to get his legs to hold him as Face began to move forward again.
"Wait up, Faceman, let him rest a little." B.A. said when they were a few steps below the top. He repositioned his arm around Murdock's waist then added softly "He gettin' weaker, man."
"I know." Face murmured back, then looked at the pilot who had gotten alarmingly pale and was breathing raggedly. "Murdock, tell us when you're ready..."
After a few minutes the pilot responded "LetĖs do it."
As he shakily lifted his left foot up toward the last step, Murdock stumbled and sagged heavily against B.A, nearly dragging Face down with him. "Hang tight, Murdock, I got you... We almost there, just one more step." B.A. said, taking most of the weight while Hannibal helped the captain lift his feet over the final step into the cabin.
"Lets have a look at that wound." Hannibal said, motioning Face and B.A. toward a row of seats. "Lay him over there."
"No time, Colonel...I'm already seeing spots." Murdock protested weakly. "You need my help getting this bird in the air...Believe me, she won't behave the same on this dirt road as she did on the paved strip back home.... I'll have to handle the takeoff...You can take over later...I...uhhhn..." he stopped and clenched his eyes shut. When the pain had passed he opened them, then finished "...don't know how much longer I can stay awake. Let's take her up, now."
Quickly assessing the captain's condition, Hannibal decided he was probably right, they didn't have a choice. "All right. B.A., Face, help him to the cockpit." After Murdock was settled in the pilot's seat, B.A. and Face returned to the passenger section and belted themselves in. Hannibal slid into the copilot's seat just as Murdock began to taxi down the road.
"Okay, Colonel" Murdock said "Course set for Hong Kong. Autopilot is on... you just keep monitoring like I showed you..." he leaned back against the seat and clenched his eyes shut.
The takeoff had been difficult, getting up to speed made nearly impossible by the lack of traction and occasional ruts in the dirt field road. Hannibal had heard the pilot's agonized yelp and seen the color drain from his face as the plane hit the worst of the ruts and bounced. It had been all he could do to stay in his seat. He had feared that Murdock would lose control of the jet, but the captain had managed to wrestle the bird into the air. They had opted to head for Hong Kong, 600 miles north east of their present location outside of Hanoi, because Maggie Sullivan's friend and colleague, Dr. James Redpath, lived there. Getting aloft quickly had seemed the best choice at the time, but now, looking at the drawn features and grayish cast which had crept over the pilot's face, Hannibal wished he hadn't let Murdock talk him into postponing medical treatment. "Face, bring the medical kit up here."
"I'm on my way." Face called from the passenger section.
"....We're on our way.... on our way....we've got a little problem...." Murdock sang softly to himself. "....but it'll go away...." he trailed off as Face approached, first aid kit in hand.
"I don't like it, Hannibal. Last time he started singing that song, we nearly lost him." Face said, referring to the time Murdock took a bullet meant for Hannibal. "And earlier, in the chopper, he was singing Country Joe and the Fish 'I Think I'm Fixin' to Die Rag'...'" He set the first aid kit down and began rummaging through it for bandages and antiseptic. "Here, Hannibal, hold these a second, I've got to cut his t-shirt away..."
Hannibal took the supplies that Face held out to him and said softly "It used to worry me in 'Nam, when the wounded guys would start talking about death and Îgoing away.Ė Maggie says the same thing about working in the ER back home---she says a lot of times the ones that aren't going to make it know before the doctors do and they start talking about it... How's it looking?"
"Pretty bad." Face said, squatting in the aisle between the pilot and copilot seats. "He's lost a lot of blood...hand me the antiseptic." The lieutenant poured antiseptic into the wound as best he could and set the bottle down on the floor, then held a hand out in HannibalĖs direction ÏOk, gimme a bandage.Ó Murdock cried out and feebly tried to slap FaceĖs hand away as the lieutenant pressed the bandage against the wound. "Sorry Murdock...Ó Face murmured soothingly. ÏI know it hurts, but we've got to get this bleeding stopped."
"'salright...Faceman, issalright" Murdock mumbled.
"He's starting to slur his words, Hannibal...how much longer till we arrive in Hong Kong?"
"I make it another hour, hour and a half."
B.A. made his way to the front of the plane and stood behind the pilot's seat. Holding on to the upholstered headrest he watched Face press a fresh bandage to Murdock's chest while Hannibal flew the plane. Though obviously weak and in pain, the captain was responsive, if somewhat drowsy.
As Face finished changing the bandage and stood up he looked over at B.A., then turned to Hannibal. "B.A. isn't looking too good, either. Maybe I should get him a sedative." he whispered to Hannibal. "If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I'd never have believed that he'd willingly get on a plane. I sure don't want to have to deal with him flipping out if it looks like we're going to crash..."
"Shut up, Face, or I'm gonna give you a sedative." B.A.'s knuckles whitened as his fingers dug even more deeply into the upholstery. "I got on this plane because me and Murdock got the same blood type. He gonna need me when we get down. Now, I don't wanna hear no more 'bout no crashes and no sedatives. Murdock said Hannibal can land the plane. You got it?"
Hannibal took the plane off autopilot. "He's right, Face. We can't give him a sedative. Murdock's going to need a transfusion.... Besides, we're almost there, we have visual contact with the airport. I've already radioed ahead that we have an emergency. Murdock has gone over the landing procedures with me. He'll talk me down as soon as we get clearance for final approach... just like when he's giving me lessons. Maggie's friend, Dr. Redpath, will be waiting for us on the ground."
"How Murdock is doing?" B.A. asked.
"Well enough to talk me down." I hope, Hannibal added under his breath.
"Uh, Colonel, if you want my help, we've got to do this now," Murdock said through clenched teeth, "I can't..." he stopped.
Hannibal looked over and noted that the pilot's face was ashen, his eyes were glassy. "Murdock?... Face, B.A. catch him." he said as Murdock slumped sideways out of the pilot's seat. Hannibal reached for the radio "we have an emergency, must have clearance now. Our pilot is down, repeat, our pilot is down... we're coming in now." B.A. and Face gently lowered Murdock to the floor behind the seats.
"Copy that, emergency vehicles are standing by. Runway is clear."
"Hannibal?" Face glanced up, then looked back down at Murdock now stretched out on the floor behind the pilot and copilot's seats, his head cradled in B.A.'s lap.
"Relax, Face, I landed one pretty much like this the last time Murdock and I went up." I just hope I remember everything Murdock told me to do, Hannibal added to himself. "Hang on, it may get a little bumpy."
B.A. braced himself by shoving his right foot against the base of the pilot's seat and forcing his back against the rear wall of the cockpit. Face sat down beside him and braced one foot against the base of the copilot's seat. As the plane bounced and skidded down the runway the two men held on to the unconscious pilot, shielding him from the objects that had worked loose during the landing. When the plane had finally rolled to a stop, they could hear the sirens of the airport's emergency vehicles swarming down the runway.
All in all, the landing went pretty well . Hannibal thought as he shut down the engines and stood up. He turned and saw B.A. sitting on the floor, his arms around the semi-conscious captain's shoulders, supporting him in a reclining position while Face hovered nearby. "How's he doing?" he asked.
Face answered. "He started to come around after we landed, but I'm worried, Hannibal. His pulse is 130. He's pretty shocky. We need to get him to a hospital, fast."
Murdock opened his eyes and began to half sing/half mumble to himself "...we've gotta get out of this place...." he fell silent for a moment, his head lolling against B.A.'s shoulder, then roused himself and continued "...if it's the last thing we ever do..."
"Hang on, Captain," Hannibal said as he opened the exit door for the emergency crew. Two EMTs entered the plane carrying a stretcher and a large white box with a red cross painted on the lid.
A man that Hannibal recognized from Maggie's description as Dr. Redpath followed the EMTs on board. He stopped and looked at the Colonel. "I spoke to Maggie, she's trying to catch the late flight out of LAX. If she's successful, she'll be here tomorrow morning, late. At her suggestion, I pulled in some markers with old friends. The story is that you guys are a film crew that got waylaid by bandits while on location on the Thai/Laotian border. No one will question you. Just don't mingle while you're here. Now, let's have a look at your man."
A few minutes later, the doctor frowned, then directed the EMTs to transfer Murdock to the waiting ambulance. He turned to Hannibal. "We'll take him to a private clinic that I know of. They have a state of the art trauma unit and they won't ask any questions. Your other men can ride in with him. You and the girl ride with me. I want some answers from you."
"Sure thing, Doctor Redpath." Hannibal answered, following him down the stairs toward a waiting car. As they walked across the pavement, General Fulbright's body was loaded into another ambulance and whisked away. "Where are they taking the general?" Hannibal asked.
"I've got some old military buddies who've agreed to get him back to the States." Redpath answered sharply. "Now, get in." He opened the door and motioned Hannibal and Tia to the back seat."