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Que Sera, Khe Sanh
Que Sera, Khe Sanh
R (but a light one)
Disclaimer: The A-Team characters belong
to Stephen J. Cannell and Universal. Copyright to "All Along the Watchtower"
belongs to Bob Dylan. I don't know who owns the copyright to the real lyrics
of "Louie Louie," but it's not me. I don't think anyone owns the
copyright to the fake lyrics.
Warning: Some violence,
injury, a little sex (not particularly graphic), some m/m (also not graphic),
Comments: Please. Special thanks to
Fingers and auntiehill for their initial comments and to
everyone on the ATFF mailing list who commented on the first draft.
Summary: Hannibal comes up with
a bad plan, Face gets an education and Murdock and BA get taken for a bumpy ride.
And a lot of bad jokes.
This is a response to the first ATFF Throwaway Line Challenge. The challenge
was to write a fic about the Vietnam-era plan to capture the Cong General mentioned
in A Small and Deadly War, the episode where the team gaslights the
leader of a rogue SWAT team. The plan is mentioned in a scene in the van
that goes like this
Hannibal: Now we've primed
the pump. Let's see if we can get it to blow a cylinder.
Man. I don't know why you had to go and send that warning, Hannibal.
Hannibal: BA, that is what
is called style.
I call it dumb. You don't go kick a snake you're tryin' to sneak up on.
Hannibal: Part of my plan.
Murdock: Plan? I didn't
hear anything about any plan. I must be fading in and out again.
If you have a plan, Hannibal, perhaps you'd care to share it with us.
Hannibal: These guys got
to have an achilles heel. We'll just keep pushing them and pushing them
and pushing them until we find their weak link. It's the same plan we nailed
that Cong general with outside Khe Sanh.
Ahh . . . You mean where I took it in the leg?
Murdock: Where I got shot down?
That was a terrible plan.
Hannibal: Now we've got
all the kinks worked out.
Que Sera, Khe Sanh
You got that, BA? Hannibal asked.
The sergeant nodded deliberately, but his mouth twisted as if he had just eaten
Something you want to add, Sergeant? the colonel added.
No, BA mumbled. Dont got anything to add.
Good, Hannibal stated. With a smile, he turned to his new lieutenant.
See, kid, this is going to be a piece of cake.
Face had watched the interplay between the other two members of his squad with
interest, but turned away from BA to nod at the colonel. Hannibal grinned
back, exposed a full set of teeth and immediately put Face at ease. Face
could not help but trust Hannibal. No one could fake an honest smile
like that, Face thought as he watched Hannibal head out the door.
The colonel was right. This mission would be a piece of cake.
The angry noise from the other end of the hooch forced the lieutenant to turn
around. The gruff sergeant began stomping around, grumbling about Hannibals
terrible plan and how the colonel was as crazy at that fool
The lieutenant shook his head. He did not understand what BAs problem
was. Didnt BA know that Hannibal Smith was a military genius?
Everyone in Nam knew that. Hell, that was the reason that Face had
doctored the transfer orders so that one Richard Bryant went to Charlie Company
and one Templeton Peck went to Smiths unit. Face chuckled slightly,
when he recalled the colonels surprised expression when, instead of a dyed-in-the-wool
career office with three tours of Nam under his belt, a young, wet-behind-the-ears
kid lieutenant just out of Special Forces training had turned up on Smiths
But Face was determined to learn from the best. And no one disputed that
Hannibal Smith was the best.
Things had been fine during his first few missions with the team. They had
taken out some supply depots in the Ashau Valley and had ambushed some VC patrols
in the hill country surrounding Pleiku. But, while the missions were successful,
they did not live up to the billing that Face had received. Hannibal Smiths
unit was supposed to do the impossible. His a-team pulled off daring tasks
that other units could only dream of accomplishing. Faces first few
missions seemed pedestrian and, frankly, he had found himself disappointed.
This mission, though, was going to be different. This was something that
only Hannibals unit could pull off and Face considered it his first real
test as a member.
Yad better get ya head out of the clouds, L-T, or were gonna
be pickin up yore pieces all the way from Quang Tri to Khe Sanh.
Face had to chuckle. BA Baracus definitely had a way with words.
I think I got your point, Sergeant. You dont like this plan,
but theres nothing to worry about. Hannibal said this job would be
a piece of cake. Besides, you and Hannibal dont speak Vietnamese .
. . even if you could get inside.
BA just shook his head, making no effort to hide the rueful smile that said he
thought the lieutenant was a kid without a clue. Face found himself growing
annoyed. Of course, knowing BAs reputation for punching superior officers,
it was not as if Face was going to say anything.
Umm, Sergeant, why dont you finish up checking the weapons?
Im going to go see about the extra supplies the colonel wanted.
BA continued to shake his head as he watched the kid lieutenant walk out the door.
Actually, Face was not supposed to be that much younger than BA, but the sergeant
figured that Faces age was a bit inflated. If the lieutenant was really
21 as he claimed, it would be cause to worry. At 21, Face would have been
too old for hero worship. No, theres no way Face is that old,
BA thought. Kids probably just outta high school.
With a sigh, BA finished oiling Hannibals 16s and his own M-60.
Then he checked the ART on Faces M-14 sniper rifle to make sure the scope
was not loose. No question the kid could shoot. He was one of the
best marksmen any of them had ever seen. BA still marveled at the show Face had
put on with a heavy sniper rifle the team had borrowed. The
kid had nailed a target twenty times at 1200 meters. Then he had stood up
with a shit-eating grin and pretended like it was the easiest thing in the world.
Even Hannibal had been impressed.
Yeah, BA thought, as he tightened the ART, Face was one of the best distance shooters
around. Maybe that was what was bugging the sergeant about Hannibals
plan. Face should be planted in some tree a half-click away, not going in
the front door. And especially not using these stupid radio prototypes Hannibal
had told BA to get in working order.
Hey, you ugly mudsucka, came a voice from the door of the hooch.
BA groaned inwardly. He had enough to deal with right now. He did
not need Murdocks jibber jabber right now.
Whatcha want, ya crazy fool?
Whoa, kimmosabe, Murdock answered. Me look for paleface
Exasperated, BA growled. Stop that fool talk and speak English.
Murdock broke into a wide grin. Im looking for the Faceman.
BA should have known. No wonder Face was being such a fool about this mission.
He had been hanging around with the crazy pilot since arriving in Da Nang.
Hes gettin some equipment. Dont know where he went,
but Murdock, if you find him, talk some sense into him. BA nearly
laughed out loud when he realized what he had said. Asking Murdock to talk
sense was like asking Nixon to hug Bobby Seale or Abbie Hoffman. Aint
ever gonna happen, he thought.
Murdocks reaction came as a surprise to the sergeant. The pilot looked
up with a serious expression on his face and inquisitive brown eyes.
Sensing the question before Murdock even asked, BA answered. This
is a terrible plan, but the kid dont see it. He dont realize
that he cant be Hannibals fan. Face aint thinking things
Murdock stood quietly for a moment as he pondered BAs words. The pilot
understood what BA meant. Hannibal needed his second-in-command to rein
in the colonels recklessness. As BA said, Hannibal did not need a
fan. He needed a devils advocate. Face just did not understand
Come on, muchacho, cut the kid some slack. Faces just learning
the ropes. Give him some time and hell figure out his role.
Despite the assurance in his words, the pilot pulled off his baseball cap and
started twisting it into a ball.
BA shook his head. Somethin bout this mission dont
feel right. Sendin Face into an enemy camp to gather intel on General
Sung just so Hannibal can use it to gaslight him . . . Dont sound like too
good of a plan ta me.
Listening quietly, Murdock pursed his lips. The plan did not sound to kosher
to him either, but Hannibal and Face both seemed convinced it would work.
Of course, BA was probably right that the new lieutenant had not figured out that
Hannibals plans did not always work as planned. They worked, true
enough, but plenty of things went wrong in the process.
So what do you want me to do, BA? Tell the colonel his plans
no good? Tell Face that he should refuse to follow orders? Murdock
could hear the undercurrent of frustrated anger in his voice. Did BA really
think Murdock was going to be able to change things? They both knew what
Hannibal was like when he was on the Jazz.
No, BA growled and he slammed a piece of equipment against the table
where he was working. Talk to the kid. Tell him to use his head
. . . Tell him Hannibal aint god, no matter what the kid thinks.
Murdock nodded and headed out of the hooch. BA had said that Face was gathering
supplies, so the pilot started toward the supply depot. If the lieutenant
was there, he was probably chatting up one of the pretty supply clerks.
As he strode across the small base, Murdock pondered BAs comments.
The gruff sergeant rarely talked like that. And he never openly questioned
With a deep breath, Murdock thought, Either BA has the hots for Face or
Hannibals plan really must suck.
Murdock knew that the first thought was not true. BA did not swing that
way, but, at the moment, the pilot wished it were otherwise. He did not
like the alternative.
The telltale sounds coming out of the supply shed told Murdock that Face was inside.
Doing what, Murdock was not sure he wanted to know. For a kid as naive as
Face was about some things, he obviously knew a hell of a lot about others.
With more than a little trepidation, Murdock peeked inside the door of the shed.
The supply clerk, a petite brunette that most soldiers on the base drooled over,
was up against the wall, her legs wrapped around the lieutenants waist.
Her skirt was hiked up above her hips and Faces pants were around his knees.
They moved together, gasping and moaning, oblivious to all else.
He really shouldnt.
No. Really, he shouldnt.
Oh yes, he should.
Ride em, Cowboy.
Murdocks yell had the desired effect. Face pulled away, scrambling
to pull up his pants. In his haste, his legs got twisted and he fell roughly
to the ground. The woman, more annoyed at the intrusion than anything else,
just glared in Murdocks direction.
A friend of yours, Temp? she asked.
Face looked up from the ground and spotted the captain. Murdock,
Hiya, Facey. Murdock put on his best innocent smile. Umm
. . . Did I interrupt something?
The lieutenant turned red with anger. You could say that.
Face stood up and buttoned his pants while giving Murdock a look that clearly
conveyed a desire to inflict pain. As Face finished buckling his belt, he
growled, This better be good.
Murdock grew nervous. Maybe he had underestimated Faces reaction.
It probably was not a good time to mention BAs concerns about the mission
or to try to convince Face to second-guess Hannibal. Instead the pilot frantically
tried to come up with an excuse for the interruption, finally selecting one he
thought Face might buy. Umm . . . The colonel needs to talk to you.
He . . . umm . . . sent me to find you and BA said you were getting supplies.
Well, part of that was true. Most likely, by the time Face figured out which
part, he would have cooled down a bit. Murdock had to remember not to screw
around too much with these Special Forces types. Green berets knew too many
ways to kill and even more ways to inflict pain.
For the moment, Face seemed to accept the excuse. Turning to the supply
clerk, he smiled apologetically. Like a proper gentleman, Face took her
hand and kissed the back of it. Perhaps we can continue this when
I return in a few days.
From the lustful gaze in her eyes, Murdock had no doubt that Face would get his
Okay, Murdock, lead the way, Face said with a sigh as he returned
the gaze to the brunette.
Murdock froze for an instant. If he went with Face to Hannibals hooch,
the colonel would deny sending Murdock. He would be a dead man. Recovering,
he hemmed and hawed, Thats okay, Face . . . I, umm, have to check
my Huey . . . The colonel just wanted to talk to you. Umm . . . Said it
Face was obviously preoccupied with the woman or he would have detected the lie.
Instead, he just nodded. With a quick, Ill see you later,
he headed out the door and towards the colonels hooch.
Knowing that all hell would soon break loose, Murdock decided BA could deliver
his own message to Face. With a quick tip of his cap to the supply clerk,
Murdock slipped out the door. He had already reached the safety and
the locked doors of the mechanics shed when Faces angry yells
reverberated across the base.
This is a terrible plan, Face thought as he tried to get the blood
flowing through his cramped muscles. He had been trapped in the crawlspace
above General Sungs office for the past two days relaying reports of the
generals actions to Hannibal and BA, who were hiding in the jungle outside
Sungs base. Right now, as he peered through the tiny hole in the ceiling,
he could see no one moving around below him.
Piece of cake. Right. Sure. Easy for Hannibal to say.
The teams plan, at least what Face understood of it, was to try to smoke
out General Sung, part of the VC military brain trust. Apparently, Sung
controlled the VCs operations along the Ho Chi Minh trail. Capturing
him, the US believed, would disrupt the flow of soldiers and supplies from the
North to the South. The problem, though, was that Sung never left his heavily
fortified compound, a former plantation near Khe Sanh left over from the era of
French colonialism. In fact, according to the teams intelligence,
Sung never even left the manor house.
So Hannibals plan had been to smoke Sung out of the compound or at least
out of the house long enough for the team to snatch him. To do this, the
colonel decided that the team needed to send the general into such a fury so strong
that he would grow careless.
Face remembered Hannibals exact words as he had described Faces role
in the mission.
All youve got to do, Lieutenant, is sneak into the headquarters and
find a good hiding place where you can hear Sung. Then report back on the
radio about whats happening. Leave the rest up to me.
Yeah, right, Face thought sarcastically. Maybe he should have
listened to BA a little better. If he had, Face might have thought to ask
Hannibal about how the lieutenant was supposed to escape from the hiding place.
Or, he wondered as his stomach rumbled, what he was supposed to do when he ran
out of food.
Apparently, Hannibals plan had seen some success. Typically within
an hour or so of one of Faces radio reports to the colonel, Sung would come
stomping into the office shouting at his underlings.
Face knew that the general had received annoying notes from Hannibal conveniently
translated into Vietnamese by Murdock that the pilot dropped into Sungs
compound. The notes detailed recent events or comments, things only someone
in the room or listening close by would know. To Sung, the
notes were more than an annoyance. Completely unaware that Face was literally
hiding in the woodwork, the general had destroyed half his furniture trying to
find a non-existent listening device.
Unfortunately, the notes only seemed to cause Sung to become more entrenched in
his position. Still not leaving the house, he ordered more and more soldiers
to wait for Murdocks helicopter passes. From the sound of the barrage,
Face knew that only luck had allowed the pilot to get away the last few times.
In the darkness, Face regretted not setting things right with Murdock and prayed
he would be okay.
Not that Face lacked reason to be angry. He had pursued the supply clerk
for weeks and Murdocks little stunt had ruined everything. And then
the pilot had hid in the mechanics bay, not even man enough to come outside
when Face had tried to break down the locked doors. Then, on the flight
out of the base the following morning, Murdock had said nothing while Face had
listened to Hannibal and BA snicker in the background. By the time the Huey
had reached the LZ, Face was so furious that he had returned Murdocks Good
luck with a murderous glare.
Face now realized it was stupid and childish to have left things like that.
The pilot was risking his life each time Face gave Hannibal a new report.
Murdock, Face, any one of them could die on this cockamamie mission, and Face
knew he should have worked things out with Murdock before leaping from the chopper
skids into the jungle.
To take his mind off the pilot, Face checked the little radio for what seemed
like the hundredth time. It was a feat of engineering genius, a small transistor-size
communication device. Much smaller than a PRC-25, it had more range than
a walkie talky and the battery lasted longer. It had taken a lot of work
to forge the papers to get two of the devices delivered to Da Nang, and then BA
had spent hours modifying them. But so far, the radio was working perfectly.
Feeling for the volume control, Face adjusted the level and whispered close to
where he seemed to recall the small hole labeled mic being.
It was so dark in the crawlspace, Face could not even read the markings on the
radio. Below him, the office was quiet. Still, he kept his voice low
just in case someone entered.
Fearless Leader, this is Eagle Eye. Come in, over. Face
wondered why they even bothered with code names. At least, he had managed
to avoid the nickname Pretty Boy. Hannibal had been pretty insistent
on that one until Murdock suggested Eagle Eye based on Faces
The radio crackled to life as he heard the colonels voice. Eagle
Eye, this is Fearless Leader. Report.
Face groaned at how serious Hannibal sounded. Trying a little levity, Face
joked, Well, the quarters are a bit tight and room service leaves a lot
to be desired. Any idea when breakfast is served? In truth,
it could have been afternoon. Face knew it was light outside, but could
not tell the time of day. In the darkness of the crawlspace, he could not
even read his watch.
The voice on the other end assured, Dont worry, kid. Well
get Sung out of there soon. Just hang in there. Did you get any sleep?
Face could detect a faint trace of worry in Hannibals voice. Two days
without sleep would dull Faces reaction times if he had to move quickly.
But there was no point in getting the colonel worried at the moment.
Yeah, Face lied. A couple of cat-naps here and there.
Its pretty quiet at the moment.
Great, kid. Let me know if anything new happens.
BA and Murdock watched Hannibal put down the radio. Murdocks chopper
was hidden carefully in the dense canopy, a perfect location for the mission.
The Huey could enter and exit without being seen, so the pilot did not have to
return to Da Nang before each flyover.
That was the kid, Hannibal said as if the others had not heard every
word. Everythings going according to plan.
BA rolled his eyes. Right, he thought sarcastically. Everything
was going according to plan except that Face was trapped in an enemy camp with
no food and no way out. How could Hannibal be so blind to things going
Murdock sat against a tree, his legs folded up, his arms wrapped around his knees
and his head nodding listlessly. BA knew the pilot was worried for the young
lieutenant and felt guilty about what had happened at the base. It had been
pretty funny, the sergeant acknowledged, but Face had been furious and there had
been no time to set things straight before the mission.
The sergeant knew better than to go out on a hump angry at a buddy. Too
much could go wrong to leave things unresolved. Too many friends went out
on patrol and never came back. Now, BA knew as he watched the pilot for
a long time, Murdock was beating himself up over the thought that Face might not
make it out of Sungs camp.
Hey, fool, the kids gonna be all right, BA said.
Murdock looked up, confused for a moment and then gave an appreciative nod.
But before he said anything, Hannibal spoke up. The colonel had the radio
pressed tight to his ear.
Heads up, he ordered. Face says theres some movement.
Through the peephole, Face watched General Sung enter the room with another VC
soldier. Face listened and watched closely, hoping that whatever he learned
next would coax Sung into the open.
<No one is to know about this. Do you understand>
The soldier, just a kid from Faces perspective, nodded.
<You will die if you mention this.>
Sung stomped across the room and ordered the other soldier to stand at the desk.
From his vantage point, Face laughed silently. He had gotten into enough
trouble at the orphanage, at boot camp, at well, pretty much everywhere
to know when someone was about to get disciplined. It was nice for
a change that the someone being disciplined was not him.
Face was not prepared to see the younger soldier drop his pants and bend over
the desk. The lieutenant was even less prepared to see Sung unbuckle his
own pants and sidle up beside the young soldier.
Ohmigod. Face froze, his eyes nearly popping out of their sockets.
Years in a Catholic orphanage had not prepared him for the sight below.
What was Sung doing? Then it dawned on him that he really did
not want to know. He felt his jaw drop at the sight. Was that
As the shock began to past, Face realized that, if he got caught, he was a dead
man. Sung had threatened a soldier in his own command. What would he do
to an enemy? He would be in a fury at the thought of an American watching
A fury . . . Of course. Face anxiously reached a trembling hand
for the radio.
Eagle Eye to Fearless Leader, Face whispered as quietly as possible.
The volume was turned down as low as it could go and still be audible.
Go ahead, Eagle Eye.
Face smiled at the genius of his idea, completely forgetting the code names.
Hannibal, you wont believe this. Our good general has a thing
for boys. If you move fast, you can catch him in the act. Face
thought how he had reacted to Murdocks prank. If Sungs reaction
was half as strong, the general would go ballistic. That was the goal of
Hannibals plan after all, wasnt it?
Over the radio, Face could almost hear Hannibal grin. How about this?
Roses are red, violets are blue. Your boyfriend sucks cock and you
probably do too. What do you think?
Face looked back through the peephole. Well, the rhyme was truthful,
he thought. In a whisper, he asked, Will it translate?
Murdock says yes, Hannibal assured. Hell be overhead
in about two minutes. You get ready for all hell to break loose and see
if you can get out of there.
At the mention of the pilot, Face sobered considerably. Before Hannibal
could cut the transmission, the lieutenant added, Hannibal . . . Tell Murdock
everythings cool between me and him, okay?
Murdock heard Faces words on the radio as he was scrawling the new note.
The pilot looked up and saw Hannibal gazing in his direction. With a nod,
Murdock said, Tell Facey its cool on this end.
Hannibal started to speak, but Face cut him off. I got that, Hannibal.
Ill - Faces words were cut off abruptly, replaced by a
loud, sharp tone that erupted from the radio. It was followed almost immediately
by the strains of Jimi Hendrix.
must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief,
There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
What the hell? Hannibal sputtered.
BA was next to the colonel in an instant. The big man grabbed the radio
out of the colonels hand and started checking the device. He gave
an immediate diagnostic.
The transistors pickin up AFR.
Murdock stood wide-eyed for a second and then spun and raced for the Huey.
It suddenly dawned on Hannibal what Murdock was thinking. If their radio
had picked up the armed forces broadcast, Faces must have too.
Without another word, Hannibal and BA locked eyes. Then each man grabbed
his gun and began a desperate sprint for the chopper flight to the VC compound.
In the darkness, Face worked frantically to silence the radio that had suddenly
gone haywire. As if the loud, near-siren had not been enough, the music
that followed came through loudly and Face could do nothing to silence it.
The entire concept of volume control no longer seemed to exist.
There was no way that Sung could miss the noise coming from his ceiling.
Looking back down through the peephole, he saw that the general and the soldier
were pulling up their pants and looking around in confusion. As Face watched,
the general slowly began to set his gaze on the direction of the song.
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
Face felt his eyes widen as Sung removed his sidearm and pointed it directly at
the ceiling panel where Face was hiding. Damn, he thought.
This was not the way he wanted to die.
Several shots rang out, and Face felt the bullets cut through the ceiling panel
and whiz around in the darkness. Miraculously, none of them struck him.
He pulled his own sidearm and shifted in the tight space in an effort to move
along the crawlspace, but realized his mistake too late. The bullets had
knocked the panel out of position. The panel, Face and the traitorous radio
tumbled to the floor.
Landing hard, Face was momentarily stunned and his gun went clattering across
the tile floor of Sungs office. When Face recovered enough of his
senses to look around, he saw Sung looming over him. Though surprised to
see an enemy soldier on the ground, the general was quickly recovering from his
Face followed the generals gaze to where the radio lay and realized that
the song had changed. The swirling guitars of All Along the Watchtower
had been replaced by the garbled lyrics of the Kingsmen singing Louie, Louie.
The general looked back from the radio to the lieutenant. Then, his lips
drew back in a cruel smile and he pointed his gun at Faces head.
In response, Face shrugged and grinned broadly. He waited for a moment and,
then, in time with the song, screamed as loud as possible.
Louie, Louie, me gotta GO!!!
Faces yell caught Sung momentarily off-guard. Taking advantage of
the generals surprise, Face scrambled to his feet, shoved the general aside,
bolted for the window and launched himself through the glass.
It was a futile gesture. The sound of gunfire echoed around the courtyard
of the manor. Face had barely regained his footing after crashing through
the window and taken a few steps when a bullet struck his right thigh. The
leg gave way under the force of the blow and he collapsed heavily to the ground.
The force of the landing knocked the breath from him. Face lay still on
his left side, knowing there was no point to trying to get away. The
sound of rapid footfalls echoed around him and he found himself lifted roughly
to his feet. In the process, Faces right hand brushed the wound on
his leg and came away covered with his blood.
Ive been shot, he realized. Until that moment, he did
not fully comprehend what had happened. He had acted purely on instinct,
but now the reality hit him. He looked around, seeing only the barrels of
Kalashnikovs pointed in his direction. One set of anxious eyes peered
over each barrel; each gun was prepared to fire at any sign of movement.
<Guess I took a wrong turn at the DMZ.> Face announced before
he could stop himself. Frankly, he was astonished that he could joke, let
alone joke in Vietnamese, at a moment like this.
<Very funny, my American friend. Too bad that may be the last joke
you ever make.> The cold, authoritarian voice sent a chill up Faces
spine and wiped away his cocky grin. He recognized the voice from his two
days of reconnaissance. Sung had exited the manor and was now standing directly
behind the lieutenant. In his periphery, he saw the general move around
the guards and then step fully into view. The general still held his sidearm
and pointed it at Faces head.
The sheer irony of the situation struck him. He had spent two days trying
to get Sung outside the manor, but had accomplished the feat only when Hannibals
plan went to hell. But now that Sung was outside, Face was helpless do anything
<Yes, you are very funny,> the general continued angrily.
Face could tell that the anger stemmed from being caught with the young soldier.
More irony. Interrupting the general in the act was probably the very reason
Sung was now outside.
<You and the pilot of the helicopter. Very funny,> Sung
went on. <But you will learn better than to make jokes at my expense.
Others have done that, and their deaths were slow and painful.>
Face suppressed a deep swallow and tried to hide a tremor that shook his body.
He wondered how Hannibal would act in this situation. The colonel would
never show fear. He would laugh in the face of an adversary like Sung, hoping
to infuriate the general into making a mistake. Finding his answer, the
lieutenant forced the broad grin back onto his face.
<You are a brave one, but I can see the fear in your eyes,>
Sung commented. He studied Face carefully and reached forward to run a hand
along Faces jaw. <And such pretty eyes you have, too.
I think I might enjoy seeing how pretty those eyes and your face look after Ive
played with you a bit.>
<Im sure youll enjoy yourself,> Face spat, wondering
if his sarcasm translated into Vietnamese. <Does Ho Chi Minh know how
much you like playing with boys?>
The sarcasm must have translated, because Sung dropped his hand from Faces
cheek and brought it down hard on the wounded leg. Unable to stop himself,
Face cried out in agony.
<You will regret that remark, American,> Sung hissed.
Face could not stop himself from laughing. Whether from the shock of the bullet
or just from trying to fight his own terror, the utter ridiculousness of Sungs
comment sent Face into hysterical convulsions. He was already a dead man.
The remark did not change anything. Realizing this, Face found himself growing
<I regret a lot of things, Sung. Seeing you without pants, though,
is number one on the list.>
The general turned beet red in fury and raised his hand above his head, gun clenched
tightly in his white-knuckled fist. Then, gathering all his strength, he
began to swing the metal hilt towards Faces head. The lieutenant braced
for the impact, wondering if the two soldiers gripping his arms would allow him
to fall to ground or if Sung would continue the beating after Face lapsed into
At that moment, all hell broke loose.
Before the gun could hit its target, something struck Sung in the chest and he
staggered backwards. Face looked down and saw a metal cannister rolling
away from the general.
The poem, he realized. Murdock was dropping the notes in metal
canisters. Face realized that had been so focused on the gun that he had
never heard the approaching sound of the helicopters whirring rotors.
The same was true of the guards who had failed to keep a lookout for Murdocks
chopper, which now hovered directly overhead.
Still in the grip of the two soldiers, Face jerked his head in the direction of
the little cannister. <Thats from the A-Team Poetry Appreciation
Society,> he announced to the disbelieving general just as an explosion
erupted in the courtyard and everyone staggered from the force of the shockwave.
Looking up at the chopper, Face saw BA firing round after round from his M-60
and Hannibal tossing grenades into the courtyard of the manor house. Under
the barrage, the two soldiers holding Face let go and ran for cover. Face
would have done the same, but, as he tried to move, his injured leg collapsed
under the weight and he fell to the ground.
Trying to get out of the way of the grenades and bullets, his eyes darted left
and right and locked on Sung a few feet away. The general was spinning around
in confusion, trying to comprehend what was happening. Face could tell Sung
also was trying to figure out which way to run.
Oh, no you dont, Face muttered. He had not been through
all this to let General Sung get away. This may not have been part of the
plan, but at the moment, Face had a chance to get his hands on the target.
Ignoring the pain in his leg, he stumbled partially to his feet and, falling forward,
grabbed onto one of Sungs feet.
In the Huey, Murdock realized that the teams momentary element of surprise
was almost gone. Sungs soldiers had nearly regrouped and, in a minute,
they would probably let loose with a heavy barrage designed to knock the bird
out of the sky.
Son of a bitch. Look at the kid. Hes got Sung, Hannibal
yelled from the back. Murdock was so busy attempting to dodge VC fire that
he had no idea where Face was at the moment. Taking his eyes off the attacking
soldiers, the pilot looked down and saw the lieutenant.
It was an almost-comical sight. Face lay flat on his face, but he had a
tight grip on one of the generals legs. Like the actor in a TV show
trying to shake loose a biting dog that had latched onto his pants leg, the general
was flapping his leg around in an attempt to free himself from Faces grip.
The scene would have been more comical to Murdock if he had not seen the blood
flowing from Faces leg or the gun in Sungs hand. In the confusion,
the general must have forgotten about it, but it would only take another minute
or so for him to realize that there was a far easier way to break free than jumping
Get us down there now, Murdock. Hannibal apparently had seen
the same thing as the pilot.
Murdock dropped the chopper as quickly and as close to Faces position as
possible. A few feet from the ground, BA and Hannibal jumped off the skids
and made a beeline for the lieutenant. Hannibal clubbed Sung with the stock
of his M-16, knocking him to the ground. BA used one hand to lift Face over
a shoulder. With the other, the sergeant continued to fire his M-60 at the
Hurry up, hurry up, Murdock chanted anxiously. He watched as
Hannibal dragged the Vietnamese general back to the chopper. Dumping Sung
roughly on the floor of the cabin, the colonel turned and laid down cover fire
for BA and Face. Dodging bullets as he raced across the courtyard, BA reached
the chopper and pulled himself and the wounded lieutenant inside.
Take us up, Hannibal yelled as he laid another barrage of grenades
into the courtyard. That was an order the colonel did not have to give twice.
Murdock lifted the chopper, banked her sharply to the right and pushed the bird
forward. In an instant, they were away from the compound.
BA sat in the back of the Huey, trying to staunch the blood from Faces wounded
leg as the lieutenant struggled to remain still. His blue eyes were clouded
with pain and confusion and he gritted his teeth against the pain.
Youre gonna be okay, Faceman, BA reassured. The injury
was not life-threatening provided Face reached a medic. Trying to take the
lieutenants mind off the pain, BA reminded him of the battle. What
made you tackle Sung? Youre crazy as Hannibal.
The lieutenant laughed weakly. He managed to get out the words, Learned
from the best, before the chopper lurched forward and Face pitched to his
Hey, fool, BA called out as he steadied himself and caught the injured
lieutenant. Faceman needs a doc pretty soon, so stop playing games.
Uhh . . . sure . . . BA, came Murdocks hesitant reply.
BA did a double take and Hannibal jumped up from where he had trussed up the VC
general. Even Face knew there was a problem. His blue eyes no longer
seemed cloudy and confused. They were bright, alert and panicked.
Hang tough there, BA said, surprised by the calm evident in his voice.
He sure did not feel calm, especially when the chopper lurched again and Hannibal
yelled from the front of the helicopter.
Realizing that they were going to crash, BA braced his legs against the wall and
leaned across Face, hoping to spare the lieutenant further injury. Glancing
out the side of the chopper, BA watched as the treeline grew closer and closer
until the skids were striking branches sending leaves flying into the cabin.
With a thunderous roar, the Huey sliced through the jungle canopy until it hit
solid ground. Metal and glass showered the men inside. Losing his
grip on Face, BA flew against the back wall and the world went dark.
Murdock woke to a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Hannibal leaning
over him and the world moving. Or was it Murdock moving and the world standing
Youre going to be fine, Captain, Hannibal said. The pilot
noticed that the colonel had a bandage around his head.
What happened? Murdock asked, noticing how faint his voice sounded.
You must have hit your head harder than I thought if you dont remember,
Hannibal quipped. Before the crash, you said we took a bullet to the gas
tank when we charged Sungs compound. But it all turned out okay.
You got the Huey within 10 clicks of a firebase and we got spotted by a patrol.
Murdock nodded as he saw the marines carrying his stretcher. So that explained
the world moving. Then he looked up quizzically. Hey, Hannibal.
Does this count as getting shot down?
Hannibal grinned down at him. Yeah, I think this counts.
Murdock nodded again and then asked another question. Is this part
of the plan?
NO! It aint part o the plan, came another voice
that Murdock immediately recognized as BAs. That was good. BA
was okay. BA hated to crash. Murdock remembered that.
Face. Face was in the back of the chopper with BA. The kid had been
wounded, but he had been conscious. Where was he now? The pilot struggled
to sit up so he could look around.
Whoa. Sit still, Captain, Hannibal ordered.
But . . . Face?
Hes on a stretcher behind you. Thats why you cant
see him. The medics got him pretty doped up because of the leg wound,
but thinks hell be okay.
As if on cue, someone behind Murdock began to sing. It was hard to decipher
what Face was singing, but Murdock thought it sounded like Louie, Louie.
Of course, Face was singing the false, dirty lyrics for the song.
A fine little girl a-waiting for me
a girl across the way
her and park all alone
a girl I lay at home
Murdock groaned and started to ask the medic to give Face some more sedatives,
but the singing abruptly cut off. It did not really matter. Murdocks
head had started to swim again and he knew he was going to lapse back into unconsciousness
Before he did, Murdock decided he needed to say something. Hannibal?
That was a terrible plan.
Two days after the team made it to the base, Hannibal entered the hospital ward
and surveyed the room. His two officers were playing a game of cards on
a small table set between their hospital beds. Ever the mother hen, BA dozed
lightly in a chair next to Murdocks bed.
Face looked pretty good. His leg was wrapped tight from the knee to the
hip, but the doctors said he would be fully fit in a couple of weeks. Aside
from a concussion, Murdocks injuries were confined mostly to cuts and bruises.
He would be fine too.
It was a small price to pay for the capture of General Sung. The kindly
general was now in Saigon answering a lot of questions and getting serenaded regularly
with poems in his honor. The thought caused a smile to cross Hannibals
face. His team had accomplished the impossible. His men.
Seeing that Face had seen Hannibal arrive, the colonel spoke up. Hey,
guys. You both look better.
Murdock looked up, sulking. Face is cheating.
Am not, Face interjected. I cant even hide a card
in this hospital gown.
No, but you can under your covers, Murdock spat back. To prove
his point, he reached across the table and pulled an ace of diamonds from between
the sheet and blanket.
Face feigned innocence and slammed his cards down on the bed in mock outrage.
Howd that get there? Do you know what that means, Murdock?
Weve played all of our games with only 51 cards.
Yeah, sucka, BA, now awake, piped up from his chair. It
means ya gotta return all the fools comic books that ya won.
Like I really would have taken Murdocks prized possessions,
the lieutenant retorted. Im hurt, BA. Deeply.
BA harrumphed. Ya almost as bad as the colonel and the fool.
Yeah, Murdock added. But I think we have a new code name
From the glint in Murdocks eye, Hannibal knew Face was not going to like
it. The lieutenant studied Murdock suspiciously before sighing. Go
From now on, we dub you Ankle-Biting Chihuahua in honor of how
you gallantly let the enemy shake you from Khe Sanh to Saigon.
Face and BA groaned, but Hannibal laughed at the picture of Faces desperate
hold on Sungs ankle.
Well, Im glad you are all getting back to normal, the colonel
said. Youll be back in the field in no time.
Both injured men looked up suddenly. Though neither spoke, Hannibal knew
something was up.
What? he queried.
Face shifted uncomfortably in the bed. Umm . . . Youre not going
to send me in the front door any time soon?
And Im not going to be flying sorties to drop notes? Murdock
Hannibal looked askance. Whats wrong with that? The plan
In wide-eyed shock, the two younger men looked first at Hannibal, then at each
other and then back at the colonel.
Perfect . . . Face sputtered.
Are you out of your mind? Murdock gasped.
We got the General, Hannibal said. Everyone made it out.
But, Hannibal, Face whined. I took one in the leg.
And I got stuck in the dark without food for two days.
BA leaned over and whispered low to Murdock. Hannibals lost
his biggest fan. His only fan, cept himself, I think.
And that prototype radio freaked out on me, Face continued,
cataloging a litany of other things that had gone wrong with the plan.
And I got shot down, Murdock chorused.
Hannibal nodded. Maybe, but those are just minor details.
They looked at him like he had just returned from a vacation on Mars. Aw,
come on, guys. Honestly. Dont you just love it when a plan comes together?
The two pillows struck the colonel simultaneously. When he looked up, he
saw Face and Murdock glaring at him from their hospital beds. BA's arms
were crossed and his expression was even more murderous.
Okay, Hannibal admitted. Maybe there are still a few kinks
still to work out.
Que Sera, Khe Sanh by Reckless
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