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Challenge of the Rock

Challenge of the Rock

by Ldot Disclaimer: I do not own these characters and I will not make any money from this story, but I will derive a great deal of pleasure from writing it!

Summary: BA and Face must escape from Alcatraz and their nemesis, Colonel Decker.

Notes: In 1973, Alcatraz was opened as a tourist site. For more information and some great pictures visit the official Web site:
http://www.nps.gov/alcatraz/.

Acknowledgements: My sincere and grateful thanks to Quentillian for her prodding and ideas and to ali-j for her edits and support. My gratitude also goes to the makers and participants of Junkyard Wars who have shown me that you can build amazing things with a lot of junk, ingenuity, and duct tape in the space of 10 hours.

************************

"I sure hope Hannibal was right about this boat. I'd hate to blow up the wrong one."

BA scowled at Face in surprise. Hannibal's plans never worked the way they are supposed to but the colonel was never wrong about fingering the bad guys.

"Course it's the right one, fool. Don't mess it up."

Face grimaced and took a firmer grip on the rifle as he waited for his quarry to come into the right position.

It was an unexpectedly bright and sunny October day in San Francisco. The team had tracked a really nasty drug lord to San Francisco, and were trying to shut down the operation. While Hannibal and Murdock were taking care of the drug lord, BA and Face were supposed to blow up the latest shipment. The plan was to plant some small explosives on the underside of the boat to sink it, but the boat hadn't tied up at its usual spot at a quiet out-of-the-way jetty. Instead, it headed straight towards the centre of the tourist area: Pier 39.

Cursing their bad luck, the two men had scrambled to the van and made it to the pier before the boat did. They had figured the best way to deal with the boat was to put an incendiary bullet in the gas tank of the engine while the boat was a safe distance from the crowded pier. They knew that the explosion would cause a great deal of commotion and draw the attention of not only the police but also Decker who had been tailing them quite closely. They gambled that in the confusion they could escape by posing as simple tourists. As Face scoped the best sniper's post, BA had hurriedly purchased and then put on a brightly coloured tourist T-shirt and simple jean jacket in an effort to blend more effectively once the panic started.

What worried them the most was the possible danger to the boat's driver. Neither man could boast that they had never killed a man, but neither did they consider themselves cold-blooded killers. After some brief discussion, they had decided that they would only fire if the sole occupant was safely ensconced in the driver's seat at the very top and front of the boat - a safe distance from the gas tanks at the bottom and rear.

Pier 39 thrust out northward into the Bay from the east end of the popular Fisherman's Wharf area. The pier held a complex of interconnected two-storey wooden structures containing shops and restaurants. The effect was that of a rustic harbour scene of the past with all modern amenities of the 80's. Docks for pleasure boats nestled up to the east and west sides of the pier. A colony of sea lions had made their home on the north end of the western docks.

BA and Face had taken up a position on the roof of the building at the most northwestern part of the pier. They calculated that from that angle, the building would block any debris or last vestiges of the explosion from the crowd. Since the boat was near the end of its journey, they figured that the gas tank would be sufficiently empty to ensure that any explosion would be minor.

With all that effort to ensure the safety of the operation, BA didn't understand why Face seemed to be so spooked. Deciding that saying anything more would not help the lieutenant's concentration, BA turned away and scanned the roofline, making sure their chosen escape route was still open. His eyes kept flicking to the left as the unfamiliar sound of the sea lions barking and snarling kept catching his attention. He grimaced as he forced his attention once more to the hoards of tourists cooing over postcards, t-shirts, and other stuff with San Francisco stamped on it. He knew he could not afford to be distracted, either. It was his job to get both of them out of there once the deed was done.

BA tried not to twitch, but the longer Face took the more restless BA became. He knew that they stuck out like a sore thumb on the roof. It would only take one tourist in an upper story room of a neighbouring hotel reporting them to the police before all hell would break loose. Decker would only have to listen to the police describing a blonde white guy with a rifle lying on a roof next to a big, black guy in an eccentric haircut, and he would be there. He clenched his fists. C'mon, c'mon, do it, do it..., he chanted silently.

When he felt Face drop his rifle and change to a kneeling position, he turned to snarl an invective to stop messing around. He stopped himself in time as he noticed that the boat had changed direction so that the gas tank was now barely visible. He released and then clenched his fists again, and forced himself to recheck their escape route.

"Damn, damn, damn," muttered Face. BA returned his attention to Face and was alarmed to see his friend get to his feet and take a step closer to the roof's edge. From the standing position, the lieutenant was completely visible and exposed to anyone on the pier who happened to glance up as well as the guy in the boat. With a look of complete concentration, Face raised the rifle and took aim. BA held his breath in an effort to not make a sound or movement that might distract Face.

And still Face did not shoot.

20 seconds, BA promised himself, 20 seconds and then I drag him back here and we try something else.

15 seconds passed before they both realized that the boat was moving much faster than either man had anticipated.

"Face, c'mon, it's getting too close."

Face did not even bother to reply. Instead, he gently squeezed the trigger.

They both released their held breath as the engine blew up with a satisfying bang, and the boat's driver grabbed a life preserver before he abandoned ship. Face turned to BA and they exchanged grins. Then a strange whumfing sound made them look back at the boat. It was engulfed in fire. Then, it exploded shedding water, fire, and debris like water from a wet dog. The pier lurched and shook as the force of the explosion sent waves of water and air crashing against the pilings and the exposed buildings at the north end.

Oh shit, BA thought as he turned to make for the escape route. It was his last thought before the world went black.

***************************************************

As he came to, BA shook his head and tried to recall what had happened. The movement made him very aware that he had a crushing headache. He groaned and shut his eyes for a minute. The headache meant something had whacked him good - much harder than the taps they guys sometimes administered before they put him on a plane.

As the memory of the explosion came back, he groaned again and felt for damage on his head. He found a lump on the back left side of his head, but no gash. He mentally catalogued the rest of his body and discovered that nothing else seemed to hurt very much - maybe a scrape or two.

There must have been something besides drugs in that boat. Man, I hope no-one else was hurt.

At that moment he became aware of the sounds of panicked tourists and emergency vehicles. To his relief, he also heard the unmistakable sound of someone taking charge. Although, he knew it wasn't Hannibal, the tone was exactly the same as the one the colonel used when in full command mode. People panicked less if they believed someone was in control of the situation. Face always said that people would do anything you ask if you asked with sufficient authority in your voice.

Face! He opened his eyes and sat up to find his friend. To his dismay and alarm, the lieutenant was not on the roof. Knowing that his friend would not willingly leave an injured team mate, BA's first thought was that Face had fallen off the roof. His heart hammered as BA crawled towards the edge of the roof.

He stopped as the top of a ladder appeared in front of his face. Surprised, BA sat back on his heels, crossed his arms, and waited to see who would appear. His vague hope that it might be Face was dashed by the appearance of the hard face of Colonel Roderick Decker.

"Hold it right there, Baracus."

BA rolled his eyes, scowled, and raised his hands although inside he was in a real quandary. He desperately wanted to know if Face was okay, but he didn't know if Decker was aware that BA had not been alone. He decided he'd rather blow Face's cover than risk leaving him injured and helpless.

Without moving a finger, BA asked, "What about Face?"

Decker finished climbing onto the roof before he answered, "Don't worry, Sergeant. We fished him out of the water before the sea lions ate him. He's the one who told us that you were on the roof."

Another soldier climbed on the roof after Decker. Together, they kept their weapons trained on BA.

"Okay, Baracus, this is the way it's going to be. You will climb down the ladder until you reach the deck. Then you will lie face down on the ground with your hands behind your head until you are told otherwise. I have three men on the ground as well as the two of us up here. If you give me any trouble, I will not hesitate to shoot you or Peck. Got it?"

BA nodded.

Carefully, he got to his feet and put his hands on his head. He knew the drill all right. Equally carefully, he walked to the ladder and turned around before he put his hands down so that he could climb the ladder. He paused briefly at the top to get his bearings. He saw Face lying face-down in a puddle of water on the decking. He had his hands linked behind his head and his legs spread in the "I have been caught" position. Two soldiers stood guard very near him. To BA's relief, the lieutenant appeared to be chattering to the soldiers in his usual infuriating way.

BA slowly climbed down the ladder, partly because his head was still feeling spinny and partly because he didn't want the guards to get jumpy. As he reached the ground, he took a step towards Face. The menacing sound of several guns being cocked stopped him in his tracks.

"Other way, soldier." Decker barked from the roof.

Face managed to turn his head towards BA and gave him a quick searching look. Obviously satisfied that the sergeant was not severely injured, Face flashed him a reassuring smile and said, "Hey BA, so glad you could make it to the party. I know the company's not much, but...oof" The rest of his comment was cut off by a swift kick to his gut by one of the guarding soldiers.

BA growled. The air suddenly thickened with tension. Decker, who had begun to climb down the ladder, turned around to face the group from the top rung.

"Baracus, face down on the ground, now! Peck, shut up or I will have you gagged. Chen and Travers, secure Baracus. Powell, you fool, step back from Peck. He's a green beret, dammit. He could take you down with just one kick from that distance." Decker finished issuing orders and completed his climb to the ground.

BA decided to play it cool for now and peaceably did as he was told. Things weren't too bad right now, and he wanted some more time to shake the last remnants of dizziness. As one of the soldiers knelt down and debated whether the cuffs would fit over his massive wrists and bracelets, BA turned his head to look at Face more closely. Although his initial view seemed to indicate no more damage than a dunking in the bay, that soldier's kick had shut him up more quickly than usual. BA wondered if Face had come in contact with more than just the water either on the way down or while being pulled out of the water.

Unfortunately, soldiers' feet blocked his view. BA turned his attention to what Decker was saying. The colonel was talking into a field telephone.

"Yes, yes, I have....Thank you, Colonel Jones. Now, I need somewhere to put them until I can transport them. ... What? You're joking! I can't use civilian facilities! There's one man still missing. Who knows what kind of chaos he will cause when - and notice I said when and not if - he tries to break out these two. Why can't I use your stockade?...Oh....I see...Well, what do you suggest?.... That is not amusing, Colonel... Seriously?....Well, then, that will do very well. Thank you, Colonel. I'll have my men take them there immediately while I rendezvous with you and the park authorities to pick up the papers and the rest. Good-bye."

The final note of satisfaction in Decker's voice gave BA the shivers.

The ground vibrated slightly as Decker marched over to Face.

"Lieutenant Peck, you have something of a reputation for being able to pick any lock and break out of any cell. Well, I'm going to give you a chance to really test yourself. I'm taking you and your sergeant to the Rock."

"Alcatraz? Decker, you're nuts! It's not a prison anymore. It's a tourist attraction. What are you going to say to the tourists? 'Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, these are two examples of prisoners. Don't poke your fingers through the bars because they might bite.'" Although his tone was flippant, BA detected an undercurrent of nervousness in the Faceman's voice.

"Not to worry, Peck. Alcatraz is temporarily closed to tourists to repair some storm damage. I'm sure you will be quite secure there until I can arrange transportation to a more modern facility."

With that, Decker started issuing orders for obtaining transportation for his two special prisoners to the small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. That task completed, Decker handed over the care of the two men to Sergeant Powell and left to obtain the correct papers and provisions he needed.

In a surprisingly short time, a military boat appeared and the two hapless members of the A-Team were manhandled on board and shackled to a short hand rail that circled the open part of the front of the boat. In an effort to prevent him from picking the locks, the soldiers cuffed Face so that his back was to the rail and his arms were spread out on either side of him. They briefly debated doing the same thing to BA, but after one look at his scowling face, they decided to leave his hands cuffed behind his back and chained the cuffs to the rail, instead. Then, the party of two prisoners and six soldiers and one ship's captain set out for Alcatraz.

Despite the warm sun, it was decidedly breezy out in the bay. The soldiers retreated to the shelter of the cabin leaving the prisoners exposed to the wind. Face in his wet clothes started to shiver in earnest.

"Hey, can I get a blanket or something out here. I'm freezing!" he shouted to the soldiers.

His request was greeted with laughter.

"Better get used to it. It's a whole lot colder on the Rock. Especially in D block," one soldier called out.

BA scowled at the soldiers and then turned to look at Face. Despite his chattering teeth, the conman grinned at BA and commented, "I've always wanted to see Alcatraz. I just never thought I'd get such an up close and personal view of it."

Despite himself, BA could feel his own excitement at the prospect of seeing where the gangster legends of his childhood had ended up. As a native of Chicago, he knew all about Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. As kids, when he and his friends had played cops and gangsters, the gangsters always ended up in 'Alcatraz' - a scary crawlspace under the stairs by the backdoor to the school. To them, Alcatraz was like a haunted house - terrifying and strangely attractive. You think bad things happen there, but you want to go see all the same.

He forgot about Face and his headache as he focussed on his unexpected rush of emotion represented by the chunk of rock sticking out of the Bay of San Francisco. For most of the short journey, the rectangle of the Cellhouse squatted menacingly behind the elegant column of the lighthouse at the highest point of the island. The shell of the former Warden's house sat to the right of the lighthouse. The delicate lines of its roofless walls seemed to enhance the solidity of the Cellhouse.

As they approached the dock, the Cellhouse nearly disappeared from view while the Warden's House seemed to hover dolefully over the imposing Barracks building. The Barracks building dominated the dock area with its wide four stories skirted by two levels of verandas. Although the building looked solid, the paint was peeling and some of the windows were cracked. Traces of slogans left behind by the Native American activists a decade earlier still decorated the side of the Barracks. In contrast to the overall feeling of desolation and decay, the sign proclaiming "United States Penitentiary" was astonishingly fresh and bright.

An involuntary "brrr" from Face, brought BA's attention back to his friend. Guiltily, he realized that the other man was going grey from cold while BA was absorbed in the romance of the Rock. Not that there was much BA could have done to help Face since both were shackled to opposite sides of the prow. Still, the sergeant felt he could have at least distracted the lieutenant.

"Face, you okay?"

"Yeah, I always did like a brisk breeze while sailing," Face's grin was almost a grimace in his pinched face. After another violent shudder, he continued, "I'll be okay once I start walking."

Before BA could question him further, the soldiers spilled out of the protection of the cabin and started hustling their captives onto the dock. Since the soldiers did not want to risk removing the leg irons of the two prisoners, two soldiers were assigned to each prisoner to help them climb the steep hill to the Cellhouse. One soldier walked in front of the group and the sergeant walked behind.

At last, the little parade started the climb up to the Cellhouse. Despite his hampered steps, the very fit BA had little difficulty climbing the hill. In fact, he took perverse pleasure in going just fast enough to make his escorts pant. He kept up his pace as the road did a switchback and climbed a steeper hill in almost the opposite direction from the first hill. As he approached another switchback, his escorts demanded he stop and wait for the others.

He turned and was somewhat surprised that Face appeared to be struggling to make progress up the hill. Although he affected a complacent playboy image, Face was invariably in great physical shape. BA began to worry in earnest about his friend. He hoped that it was just the effects of exposure to cold on the boat, but he suspected that Face had really sustained some injury in the blast and was hiding it.

Finally, the second half of the parade caught up to the first half. Face was panting and looked even paler than before. BA noticed for the first time that he was favouring the left side of his body. Sergeant Powell, though, was looking at the lieutenant with disgust, clearly thinking what a poor excuse for a soldier Face was. BA took a step closer to Face. Immediately, three guns appeared in the hands of three soldiers.

"Hold it right there, mister," Powell snapped.

"I think he's hurt. Let me help him," BA said in a carefully neutral voice.

Face looked up at him, but didn't say anything.

"Why should I be sympathetic to a terrorist who blows up boats in the middle of a bunch of tourists? You're both damned lucky that no one was killed."

Face turned to look at Powell, "We didn't know there was anything explosive in the boat. It was just supposed to blow the engine."

"What about the poor bastard inside the boat?" Powell countered.

Face closed his eyes and bowed his head. BA winced and turned away, too.

Powell continued, "As I said, lucky for you, he had already jumped off the boat before it exploded."

BA opened his mouth to defend their actions when Face caught his eye and shook his head.

This time, as BA headed up the hill, he made sure he went a great deal slower.

******************************

While they were climbing the second hill, Face had thought that he was never going to reach the top. He was stiff with cold, and his side ached fiercely, which made breathing painful let alone hiking. And, the gorillas masquerading as soldiers on either side of him certainly didn't help matters by yanking on his arms every five seconds. He could have handled the physical discomfort a whole lot easier if it weren't for the guilt he felt over the exploding boat. He hadn't known about the explosives - it was supposed to be a shipment of cocaine. On the other hand, he should have anticipated that the guy was going to have a stash of ammunition or something explosive. He worried that his lack of foresight had led to the injury of the boat's driver or any of the tourists.

The only thing remotely pleasant about the situation was watching BA's guards struggle to keep up with him. BA looked like a tank, but he was anything but clumsy. His constant training sometimes put the rest of the team to shame. Certainly, it put the much younger soldiers to shame.

Face's blue funk only started to lift after learning from Powell that no-one had been killed by the explosion. The lieutenant still felt bad for taking such a stupid chance, but he was relieved that only he appeared to be paying for it. Even BA seemed to have come through relatively unscathed.

At that point, Face finally started paying attention to his surroundings. They had just turned the second switchback and started up the third and considerably steeper hill up to the Cellhouse. Looking up towards a water tower partly shielded by a tree, he was frankly astonished at the amount of greenery on the Rock. He had expected Alcatraz to have nothing but rock, concrete, and iron bars. And yet, on the left thick vegetation masked the base of the wall and on the right, ivy wormed its way across and through the stonework parapet. There was even an enormous tree on the right, shading part of the road.

Almost against his will, Face felt a stir of excitement. This was Alcatraz. Since the orphanage had frowned upon such tales of wickedness, all the boys in young Templeton's dorm had delighted in stories about gangsters and the Mafia. Like BA and his young friends, the little boys at St. Mary's had their own version of Alcatraz. Templeton Peck had, of course, the dorm's record for escaping. Now, twenty years later, Face felt the same thrill of the challenge of escaping Alcatraz.

After what seemed like an eternity, they made it to the top of the hill, but to Face's surprise and dismay, they still had another hill to go. Fortunately, the guards were starting to feel the effects of marching up the steep roads. They stopped for another but longer break. One of the soldiers, Chen, was obviously a keen student of Alcatraz history because he kept pointing to things and buildings and providing a running commentary.

While Chen prattled on about the morgue and other cheerful features, BA and Face surreptitiously scoped the escape possibilities. After about 30 seconds, it was depressingly obvious that the escape possibilities bordered on slim and non-existent. They still exchanged encouraging looks - each intent on cheering up the other. After awhile, Powell decided that he was ready to move on and chivvied the rest of the little group into marching order. Groaning inwardly, Face began to trudge the final haul to the top of the island and the location of the penitentiary buildings.

By the time they got to the top, the lieutenant really didn't care to look at the view. All he really wanted to do was lie down under a dozen blankets. Preferably, nursed by a beautiful woman with a sympathetic look and warm hands. Such was not to be. Instead, he forced himself to stand reasonably erect as he waited for Powell to figure out how to open the buildings.

To his left, Face could see that BA was seriously in awe of the whole thing. He kept looking around at all the derelict buildings and then glancing up at the imposing fa┴ade of the actual Cellhouse. Those who didn't know him, would have missed the fact that his mouth was ever so slightly ajar and his eyes were more rounded than normal. For his friend, the signs were unmistakable. If Face hadn't been feeling so bad, he might have smiled at his friend's almost childlike wonder.

Instead, he shivered and glared at the three soldiers gathered around the door arguing about which key to use. He debated whether he should just volunteer to pick the damn lock for the soldiers. Just as he opened his mouth, the young men succeeded in opening it.

"It's about time," Face couldn't stop himself. His nemesis Powell gave him a dirty look and deliberately made him wait outside while BA was escorted inside. The lieutenant sighed and rolled his eyes while he continued to shiver in the completely exposed front area of the Cellhouse. Finally, it was his turn to go inside.

***************************

"This way, Baracus."

The group of guards marched BA into the entrance of Alcatraz and through the entrance hall. BA looked at the posters and notices posted for the benefit of the tourists and the piles of tools and equipment left behind by the work crews who had been repairing the storm damage. He was fascinated to see that the original control centre still looked largely intact. It wasn't until he saw the visitor's room that he remembered that this really was a prison. He frowned and began to re-examine the area with escape in mind.

The group of guards marched BA down the centre aisle of the cell block. He stared around him, partly in awe and partly in an effort to find a way out. It was a truly humbling experience. On either side were long rows of cells. Each row was three tiers of cells high. In the roof were huge skylights rendering the hallway like a canyon with the soldiers and BA as lowly worms at the bottom. His heart quailed at the sight and he began to believe that there was no way out. This was Alcatraz - the place of no escape. His thoughts continued along this gloomy train as he was led to the back of the cell block, through a door under a raised guard's cage and into the mess hall. Once there, they ordered him to stand in the middle of an open area. Sighing briefly, he settled into a solid but relaxed stance and waited for them to bring Face.

Within a few minutes, Powell arrived with a scowling Face in tow. After positioning Face next to BA, Powell joined his men in a low discussion. One of the guards continued to keep a watch on the two men.

Face was radiating aggression and irritation in a complete contrast to his normal nonchalance in the face of danger. BA realized abruptly that, in fact, Face was taking on the demeanour BA normally adopted while BA was standing quietly and patiently. The inadvertent switch in roles made him grin.

He muttered quietly, "Hey Face, you trying out for the Bad Attitude Baracus role?"

Face widened his eyes and raised his eyebrows as he looked sideways at BA. Then he broke into a grin, "No-one does it better than you, BA."

Happy that he had managed to lighten his friend's mood, BA glanced around the mess hall. It was a large room brightly lit by many large barred windows in the two side walls. The floor was a deep reddish-brown. The ceiling and most of the walls were white. A strip of mint green covered the bottom 2 or 3 feet of the wall. Large square pillars formed two columns down the centre of the room, leading to the kitchen area at the back. Despite the brightness, large industrial looking girders and support beams holding the roof gave the room an institutional feel. Briefly, BA wondered if the cafeteria in Murdock's hospital had the same depressing feel.

He was distracted from this train of thought by the sudden flurry of activity from the soldiers. Two of them left the mess hall while the others started dumping their gear around one of the tables lined up cafeteria-style along the walls with the windows. Chen approached the two members of the A-Team and continued his Alcatraz lecture starting by pointing out the gas canisters lurking in the ceiling of the mess hall. Fortunately, BA found the information interesting and the time passed quickly while they waited for the two scouting soldiers to return.

When the two soldiers returned, they had a brief discussion with Powell and then the trio walked over to the prisoners.

"Baracus, Peck, we're putting you in Block D," Powell paused to smirk, "Chen tells me it was the most hated block in the Cellhouse."

********************************

The small group entered Block D. The cells in this block were larger than the other blocks. Three levels of cells were stacked along one wall with a row of large bright windows against the opposite wall as if taunting the prisoners with views of what they couldn't experience. It was also noticeably cooler in this Block. That and the beckoning view must have been the reason for the reputation of the most hated Block amongst the former inhabitants.

More importantly for the MPs, several of the cells had been left unlocked for the tourists to snap pictures of each other inside the cells. Powell directed Face and BA to enter two adjoining cells. He motioned for Chen and one of the other soldiers to unlock the prisoners' shackles and used the chains and locks to secure the cell doors.

After being unshackled, BA stood exactly where he was and glared at Powell. After one glance at Baracus, Powell cleared his throat and abruptly turned to one of the soldiers, "Travers, you take the first watch." With that, he and the remaining soldiers exited.

Travers watched the others go before moving to stand underneath the windows on the wall opposite the cells. BA crossed his arms and stared at Travers. After a few nervous glances at BA, the soldier raised his chin and took a firmer grip on his gun and stared determinedly at either the other cell or the space between the two, BA couldn't tell which. Deciding that baiting the soldier wasn't going to achieve much, BA rubbed his aching head and glanced around his cell.

On the right, a bunk was bolted to the wall. In the far left corner, a squat, cylindrical cement structure emerged from the wall. The hole in the middle indicated that this was the toilet. A white, porcelain sink jutted out from the wall at waist level in the space between the bunk and the toilet. Above it, at eye-level perched a short shelf. The walls were painted white from the ceiling to shoulder height. The bottom six inches of the wall were a dark forest green and the remainder was an institutional mint-green. The doors and bars were painted a strange fleshy pink that was somewhere between bubble-gum and peach.

BA could hear Face moving about. He moved towards his bunk and grabbed the extra folded blanket at the end furthest from the bars. Turning towards the front of the cell, he stopped at the puzzled look on the guard's face.

Face's voice remarked, "C'mon, don't tell me you've never seen a man undress before?"

BA watched the soldier blush, turn his head away, and then sputter, "But...?"

Face continued, "Can you believe it, BA? What are they teaching recruits, these days? Obviously not basic survival skills," He paused and BA heard the squelch of wet clothing hitting the floor. "Okay, soldier. Here's your first lesson. Sitting around in wet clothes in a cold room is the quickest way to hypothermia."

"'Cept if they're wool," added BA as he pushed his blanket through the bars of his cell and towards Face's.

"Really?" Face replied. His voice indicated that he was moving towards the front of the cell.

"That's what my mama used to say. She used to make us wear wool sweaters and socks. We hated them because they itched like crazy." BA paused as he watched his friend's hand reach through the bars for the dangling blanket. The skin was very pale while the cuticles were blue. Not a good sign.

"Yeah? Well, let me tell you, BA, I'd trade my car for one of your mom's scratchy sweaters and an itchy pair of socks right now."

The tone was playful, but BA was alarmed at how cold his friend looked and sounded. He recalled how a similar dunking years before had left the lieutenant with a scary bout of pneumonia requiring a two-day stay in a hospital. Then, there was that unknown injury that Face was hiding.

He gripped the bars tightly and snarled at Travers, "Hey, fool, the man's freezing. Get some blankets. And some clothes."

Poor Travers visibly blanched and took a step back. It would have amused BA if he hadn't been so worried.

"Easy, easy, big guy," soothed his friend. "It's not his fault. I'll bet he's just as cold as we are."

BA gripped the bars even more tightly, but he let Face's smooth voice ease the guard's tension. After a minute, Travers was smiling. After two minutes, he nodded and walked towards the exit.

BA took a deep breath, but Face forestalled him by saying, "So what's the plan, BA?"

The big man exhaled so fast he nearly choked. He heard a chuckle from Face.

"C'mon, Big Guy, don't be so modest. You make pretty good plans when you want to."

Just then, Powell's voice interrupted them, "You did what? You idiot! Peck could be gone by now! Do you want to spend the rest of the night searching for him? Back to your post."

"But..."

"Move it!"

Travers scurried into the room, closely followed by Powell. While Travers returned to his position against the wall opposite the prisoners, Powell marched over to the cells and inspected the chains holding Face's cell door shut. Satisfied that his prisoner had not tampered with them, he stood in front of Face, arms akimbo.

"Nice try, Peck. Good thing I know your type. Now, hand over your clothes."

"What? They are hardly your size," Face responded, "or style."

"Hand 'em over. I want to make sure you don't have any handy lock-picking devices tucked into a seam."

"How about a little exchange here. My clothes for some of yours?"

"I don't think so, Peck. They're hardly your size," grinned Powell, "or style."

Face heaved an exaggerated sigh and pushed his clothes through the bars.

****************************

Forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty...

BA paused at the apex of his pushup. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face as he debated whether to continue with another set. An insistent throb in his head and a slight tremble in his arms warred with the fierce desire to not allow any personal weakness to interfere with his set course of action. A rustle from the next cell reminded him that he needed to be ready for action and not weakened from exhaustion.

He sighed and got to his feet. After stretching, he walked to the front of the cell furthest from Face and motioned the guard over. Hesitantly, Dobbs, the current guard, walked over but remained out of reaching distance. BA jerked his head in Face's direction. Dobbs threw a glance in the same direction before returning his gaze to BA. He shifted his rifle to one hand and held the other out palm down. Then he rocked it from side-to-side and shrugged.

BA gripped the bars tightly with both hands. He frowned and stared at his knuckles as they turned white. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as he released his grip on the bars.

He looked up and asked in a low voice, "Can you get him some blankets and some Aspirin or something?"

Dobbs scrunched up his face, looked towards the ceiling before replying, "My watch ends in about half an hour. I'll see what I can find."

BA nodded his thanks. Dobbs returned to his previous position leaning against the wall opposite the cells. BA wandered over to the corner nearest to Face.

"Face? Faceman, you okay?"

There was a pause.

"Yeah...I'm fine. How about you? "

"Hey man, I'm fine. It's you that got busted up at the pier."

"Uh huh, so why didn't you finish your workout?"

The sergeant blinked. He hadn't realized that Face knew his routine well enough to know when it was incomplete. Face had always seemed so uninterested in BA's workout regime. BA shook his head and reminded himself that for Face disinterest did not mean he didn't pay attention especially when it came to his friends' likes and dislikes.

Then BA frowned and decided it was about time he started paying more attention to Face's needs. The man was obviously hurting. Maybe Face was right and it was up to BA to come up with a plan to get them out.

"BA?" the concern in Face's voice, made the sergeant realize that he hadn't actually replied to Face's question.

"I'm alright. Just a little tired, is all. Didn't want to wear myself out."

"If you say so, BA."

Both men were silent as the watch changed. Dobbs nodded his head at BA as he left the room. BA returned the nod and lay down on his bunk. He had to think of a plan.

****************

Face heard BA lie down. Although he didn't think the sergeant was seriously injured, he knew that he must have been banged up somewhat because BA never did less than 100 pushups at one go. He was glad the big man was lying down; the rest would probably help him recover. At least it would help his temper. And, Face knew that whatever happened next, a foul-tempered BA would not help either of them.

He shivered and shifted restlessly, curled up on his less bruised side. He was bone-tired but too uncomfortable to sleep. He didn't think his ribs were broken, but they were badly bruised and scraped. Although the water in the bay was sea water, obviously, the sea lions had polluted the water at the pier because the scrapes were already showing signs of infection. On top of that, despite his two blankets and BA's extra blanket, he still felt chilled and lethargic from the cold trip across the Bay.

He was glad that BA couldn't see him because he knew his friend was fiercely protective of his comrades, and Face didn't really have the energy to handle a berserk BA. Ruefully, he admitted to himself that he hadn't exactly been smart about his own temper either. He berated himself for antagonizing Powell. He should have played nice and then maybe he'd have a warm uniform to wear. As it was, all he had were woefully inadequate blankets smelling of mildew and dust.

Then, he sneezed, and the subsequent ripple of agony from his chest made him curl up tighter and groan involuntarily. He closed his eyes and prayed that it was just a single sneeze and not the beginning of a sneezing fit.

"Face?"

He didn't move a muscle - willing his body not to repeat the sneeze.

"FACE!"

v The next sneeze did not come. Face released his tensed body slowly and carefully. The bars rattled in the next cell. Face opened his eyes and saw the current guard standing with his gun half-raised and body posture tense.

Face knew he'd better respond before things got out of control. "BA! BA, calm down! I'm okay. It's just some dust getting up my nose."

The bars stopped rattling.

And then Dobbs walked back in. He paused at the sight of his tense comrade.

"Hey, Chen. Is everything okay?"

Chen relaxed his posture and turned to Dobbs. "Yeah, everything is fine." He threw a glance at BA, but dropped the muzzle of his gun down to point at the floor. Dobbs slapped him on the shoulder before looking at the prisoners.

Face saw him toss a glance and a nod at BA before the soldier approached Face. He held out his bundle and placed it on the tray shelf in the cell door. Dobbs grinned at him and said, "Gotta present for you, Peck." Face quirked an eyebrow at the soldier.

Dobbs took a step back so he could address both prisoners, "As soon as the colonel returns with some supplies, I'll bring you some food and maybe some coffee or something hot." With that, he nodded once more to Chen and sauntered out of the Cell Block.

Face looked at the bundle and debated whether it would be worth the effort of getting up and seeing what it contained. Finally, his curiosity overruled his desire to stay put. He slowly pushed himself to a sitting position. Then, pushing himself to his feet, he shuffled over to the door with his blankets draped around him like a cape.

When he got to the door, he tried to reach for the package without dislodging the blankets. His fingers still stiff and clumsy from cold, failed him, and the coverings slipped off one shoulder. Although he managed to prevent the blankets from falling to the ground, the full extent of his injuries were exposed to the watching Chen.

As soon as he heard Chen gasp, Face sighed. The cat would be out of the bag. Cursing his clumsiness, Face grabbed the package and shuffled back to the bunk, not bothering to rearrange the blankets until he sat down again. He could hear BA questioning Chen, but he decided to ignore it in favour of discovering the contents of the bundle. It consisted of a small tube of Extra-strength Tylenol and a canteen inside another blanket. He quickly said a prayer of thanks, and immediately swallowed three of the pills chased by a swig of water from the canteen. He wrapped all four blankets around himself before turning his attention to BA.

BA was banging the cells doors again while Chen was once again panicking and yelling at him to stop. Face raised his fingers to his lips and let loose a long sharp whistle.

Using his most authoritative voice, Face commanded, "Stand down, Sergeant, Corporal!" Face gave a small grin as his order was obeyed instantly. He continued in a more conversational tone, "Gentlemen, I would really like to rest now. If you would kindly desist from making so much noise, I would really appreciate it."

"Face, I want the truth. How bad is it?" Face winced at the very serious tone in BA's voice. He sighed and rubbed his brow.

"BA, it's nothing more than bruised and scraped ribs. I swear."

BA's voice changed to a more threatening tone, "That ain't the story I heard."

"Well, it just looks a whole lot worse than it is. Some of the scrapes are a little infected, but that's all. All I need is a good night's sleep and I'll be fine. Really."

"You still cold?" BA replied in a calmer tone.

"Your friend brought me another blanket and some painkillers." Face took a chance on stretching the truth as he added, "I feel much better, now." He really felt like hell, but he didn't feel like coping with a BA tantrum. He hoped the Tylenol would kick in soon and at least dull the pain a bit.

"Okay."

Face closed his eyes in relief before he lay down and searched for a semi-comfortable resting position.

***********************

Face heard the voices before he was fully awake.

"I don't think that's a good idea, Sergeant Powell. He's really not looking too good."

"I don't care, Chen. He's still in the military. That means he rises and solutes a superior officer. Get him up when the colonel arrives."

"Hey, man. Just leave him alone. He's hurting..."

"Baracus, if you don't shut..."

"What's the matter, gentlemen?" the gravelly voice of Colonel Decker brought Face fully awake and he opened his eyes.

Face, my boy, don't mess this up. Keep your mouth shut and stay on Decker's good side, Face reminded himself.

"Colonel Decker, sir!" Powell and Chen both drew themselves to full attention. Face struggled to sit up, thinking that maybe he could earn some favour by attempting to stand at attention, too. His muscles had all tightened up during his sleep and immediately went into spasm at the sudden change in position. He gasped involuntarily and gritted his teeth as he curled forward almost onto the floor.

"Peck! What's wrong?" Decker demanded.

"What's going on? Face?" BA called at the same time.

Face could barely breathe let alone respond. Even when the cell door opened, he couldn't move. Great, the perfect opportunity to make a break for it, and I'm crippled by muscle cramp.

The spasm started to ease off as a pair of hands gripped his shoulders. They prevented him from falling forward as the muscles suddenly went limp.

"Thanks, Colonel," he managed to say despite clenched teeth.

"What's the matter?" Decker asked again.

"His chest is all banged up, Colonel," Chen offered, "It looks real bad."

Face opened his eyes to see what Decker would do. The older man looked back at Chen and commanded him to stay outside the cell and be ready to shoot if either prisoner tried anything funny.

With surprising gentleness, Decker eased Face back to a lying position on the bed and then carefully peeled back the blankets. He didn't show any surprise at the other man's lack of clothing. His face did harden when he finally saw the damage to Face's chest. Face was mildly surprised. He shot a glance at his own chest and noticed that all the cuts were red and angry looking. A couple of them had already started to ooze pus.

Ick, Face thought.

"Powell, why hasn't this man received medical attention?" Decker demanded.

"Uh, well, um."

Seizing an opportunity to get Powell in trouble, Face groaned faintly as if involuntarily. Decker was no fool, and a too obvious ploy for sympathy would backfire.

"This man may be a fugitive, but he is still a member of the United States Military. We take care of our own, Sergeant. Do I make myself clear?"

"Sir, yes, sir!"

"Now, go get a first aid kit."

Decker turned to Face and studied him with an intensity that started to make the lieutenant uncomfortable. Face shivered involuntarily and then smiled tentatively at Decker. "So, uh, Colonel. What do you have planned for us?"

Decker pulled the blankets over Face's exposed chest without replying. He stood up and walked out of the cell and towards BA's. Face could hear him talking to the sergeant in a low voice, but he couldn't make out the words. Sighing, the lieutenant stared at the ceiling and hoped that he would be able to get back to sleep soon.

When Powell returned with the kit, Decker took it from him and placed in on the bunk next to Face. He carefully unwrapped the lieutenant and proceeded to clean the scrapes. It was extremely painful, and it was all Face could do not to scream. Instead he gripped the edge of the bunk with his left and groped for something similar with his right. Upon encountering the first aid kit, he grasped it and held on for dear life, gritting his teeth, but refusing to close his eyes.

Every so often, Decker would pause and glance at his face. Face would nod slightly and Decker would continue. Finally, the colonel reached over and gently tugged at the other man's grip.

"Let go, Peck, so I can get some bandages."

Face forced his fingers to let go, but in doing so knocked the kit out of Decker's hands. Fortunately, only a roll of bandages landed on the exposed wounds. The box and the rest of the contents landed on the bunk. However, even that slight weight caused the lieutenant to gasp, roll over, and attempt to curl up protectively. Decker stopped him from curling up and carefully eased him onto his back again.

"Almost there, Lieutenant. Ready?"

Face blinked rapidly and then nodded once. Decker finished bandaging the other man's chest without further mishap. Then, he gathered up the scattered supplies, threw them into the first aid box, and got to his feet. Just as he was about to leave, he stopped and opened the first aid box. Face watched him rummage around the contents without moving a muscle. Finally, Decker held up a pair of scissors and a pen. He quirked his eyebrow at the lieutenant.

"I wouldn't want to leave these behind accidentally. You might just be tempted to use them to pick a lock."

Face smiled slightly and said with as much flippancy as he could muster, "Would I do that, Colonel?"

Decker smiled and snorted slightly before turning to leave.

"Colonel Decker?" Face called weakly. When the colonel stopped and turned, "When can I get some clothes?"

Decker raised both eyebrows, "Why, Peck? Were you thinking of going somewhere?" Then he grinned wolfishly, "You'll get them when we're ready to leave and not before. Somehow, I don't think you'll be inclined to wander around buck naked."

With that, he left.

Face lay perfectly still. He had a secret. The secret was small, hard, thin and digging into his back where it had slid when he rolled over. He suspected it was a pair of tweezers.

Don't bet on it, Decker, he thought, I'm gonna escape Alcatraz even if I have to do it in the nude.

**********************

The current soldier on guard, Travers, was conscientiously keeping watch. BA had hoped that the young, and obviously inexperienced soldier would have fallen into a waking doze, but no such luck. So, BA, lying on his bunk, put his hands behind his head and tried to come up with a plan.

Man, I ain't the planner, he grouched to himself before sighing. He rubbed his face in an effort to wipe away the feeling of inadequacy. Think, Bosco, think. You gotta come up with a plan.

Plans made him think about Hannibal which made him wonder just what his commander and Murdock were doing. If only Hannibal were here... He scowled and ruthlessly forced his mind back to more practical matters. Like he did with all his fix-it projects, he started off pinpointing exactly what he wanted the end-result to be. In this case, it was him and Face off this rock and back in the city - preferably back in the van with the others. Then, he started figuring what he needed to get that result. Being BA, he mainly thought in terms of vehicles and parts. He mentally designed and built a watercraft out of the remains of the damaged buildings scattered around the Cell Block. He was just figuring out how he was going to build a chain cutter out of cutlery when he fell fast asleep.

**********************

Face watched as bright sunshine filtered in through the dirty windows, flooding D Block with light. Unable to sleep, he had positioned himself so that he could observe the guards while disguising the fact that he was awake. In between guard-watching, he began to formulate a plan. He knew that getting out of the cells wouldn't be too difficult. Getting off the island was the real challenge. There were all those lovely tools by the front door and there seemed to be lots of building material nearby. But what to build? A boat? A submarine? A space ship? He smiled briefly at his own silliness. BA will know what to build and how to build it. I just have to get us out of here.

The problem was communicating with BA. He needed to know if the big man was okay, and if he wasn't, when he would be. He knew his own physical state wasn't good enough to make the break immediately.

The important thing, he decided, was to keep Decker and his goons convinced that he was too injured to pose any threat of fleeing. As his muscles screamed at him for daring to change his position, he figured it wouldn't be too hard to keep up the "wounded duck" pretence. In fact, he admitted to himself, It may just be harder convincing myself that I'm ready to go.

****************************

BA woke abruptly, but didn't open his eyes immediately. He listened first. He could hear Chen talking to Travers as Travers took over Chen's guard duty. He was somewhat surprised to hear birds twittering and singing. Then, he heard a very slight gasp from the next cell. He sat up and listened for a repeat, but there was nothing. He relaxed and then got to his feet to begin his morning stretches.

His concern for Face made him more determined than ever to get a plan together. The biggest snag in his plan was actually getting the cell doors open. If only he could fashion some kind of tool to force the links open or cut the locks open. He continued to mull over the problem as he went through his routine.

After a few minutes of watching the sergeant stretch, Travers pulled out a deck of cards and began to deal himself a solitaire game. BA smiled to himself and began his situps. Stupid, kid. Need to keep alert on guard duty.

Half an hour later, BA was done his warm-up. Now, he was not only hungry but ready for some action. He listened to see if he could hear his friend.

"Face? Hey, Faceman, you awake?"

"Well, I am now." Face sounded disgruntled, but not as shakey as the previous night. A good sign. An even better sign was that Travers only briefly looked in their direction.

"Face, you know that new computer thing that IBM announced last week?"

"Uh, yeah?" BA could hear the puzzlement in his friend's voice.

"Do you think you could get us one?"

"Uh...maybe. Why?"

"Just thought it would be neat to see." C'mon, Face, work with me here.

"Well, sure. I mean, it's definitely the wave of the future." To BA's relief, Face had started to warm up to the topic. BA didn't know too much about computers, but figured it would be a topic of no interest to the young guard. Travers gave them one quizzical look and then returned to his game.

As the two men talked, BA quietly tapped a message in Morse code with his ring against the bar. Face replied in kind. By the time Dobbs came to relieve Travers, the two prisoners had exchanged enough information to make them both feel good about their chances for leaving Alcatraz. Travers, on the other hand, left wondering why two mercenaries would be so interested in discussing such a useless thing as a personal computer.

************************

The day was uneventful. In the morning, Decker came to visit his prisoners. He inspected Face's chest and changed the dressing. The lieutenant resisted his normal reaction to hide his pain, and allowed some of it to show, but not too much. As it was, the ordeal left him white-faced and trembling with gritted teeth: Decker was competent but hardly gentle. However, the pain eased off much quicker than the previous night, to Face's relief. Even the chill had not developed into a cold. He felt optimistic that he would be ready to go the next day.

As the guards changed, BA and Face chatted and joked with them and each other. The guards, except for Powell, began to relax around them. One of them, Chen, had even left his gun propped against the wall out of reach as he played gin rummy with BA. From time to time, Face made sure to move awkwardly and either wince or gasp quietly to reinforce his weakened condition. By the time evening fell, he was positive that the next day would be a good time to make their break.

Just after the final meal, Decker paid one more visit. After he changed Face's bandages, he mentioned that the lieutenant would have to handle it by himself the next day since the colonel would be returning to the city to arrange for their transfer to proper holding facilities. Face could feel a bubble of elation well inside himself, and failed to stop himself from making a smart aleck response. He regretted it the second it left his mouth, even more so when the colonel retaliated with an unnecessarily firm press on a particularly tender spot.

"One more smart-ass remark like that and I'll remember that the Special Instructions section of your file explicitly recommends that you be shackled at all times," Decker said without any inflection.

Face could feel his face start to freeze in an expressionless mask so he forced himself to gasp and moan with not-quite simulated agony. He mentally berated himself for being such a fool and nearly giving away how much better he was. He absolutely could not allow Decker to think he was strong enough to pose an escape risk..

Finally, Decker left. Face rubbed his face with his hands and mentally kicked himself again.

BA interrupted his thoughts, "Hey Face, you okay?"

Face took a deep breath and bit back the sarcastic reply. Instead, he replied in a deliberately weak voice, "Yeah. I'm fine." He knew that BA wouldn't be fooled, but he was pleased to see Powell, who was on guard duty, smirking. Keep grinning, soldier boy. It'll be my turn tomorrow.

*************************

A second day dawned bright and beautiful. BA, waking up, actually grinned with pleasure. Despite Face's assurances that he was fine, BA was still worried about pneumonia. The sergeant was convinced that another soaking would definitely make his friend ill. He made sure he carefully schooled his face into a scowl as Decker walked in to check on them.

"Feeling better, Lieutenant?" the colonel inquired brusquely as he stopped in front of Peck's cell and handed over a package of bandages and disinfectant.

"Yeah, some." BA heard the slightly stronger tone than Face had been using the previous day. Mentally, he patted Face on the back. It wouldn't have been believable if Face hadn't appeared to be getting better.

"Good. You'll be moving to more permanent quarters, soon, and I'd hate for you to arrive at a disadvantage."

"With all due respect, Colonel, go fuck yourself," came the irritated reply.

Decker grinned, "My, my, that smooth, cultured facade doesn't last long when you're feeling under the weather, does it?"

"Piss off, Decker."

The colonel actually laughed and said, "Bye, boys, be good. I'll see you tonight," as he walked out.

BA could hear Face muttering in the other cell. He winked at Chen who grinned in return.

"How about some cards, Chen?"

*******************************

After that, the operation went relatively smoothly. BA kept Chen distracted while Face picked the lock and then crept up behind the young soldier. Then, BA reached through the bars and held onto the soldier so that Face could bind and gag him with bandages. Only then did he pick the lock on BA's cell door. Together, they stripped Chen to his underwear and tied him up in Face's cell. BA returned to his own cell as Face donned the soldier's uniform and then carefully covered the bound man with blankets.

Face knelt down and whispered, "Chen, I'm sorry that this had to happen. You're a really good kid. Let me offer some advice, don't get within reaching distance of your prisoners and keep them all in your sight at all times. Not everyone is as unwilling as I am to kill or hurt you. If I had been a more ruthless man, you'd have been dead instead of tied up. Understand?" Chen glared. Face sighed and said, "Well, don't say I didn't warn you."

As Face left the cell, he pulled the door closed and wrapped the chains as they had been before without actually closing the padlock. He handed BA Chen's rifle before sitting on the floor in front of BA's cell. Fortunately, Chen's uniform came with a cap which hid the fact that Face did not have Chen's black hair. The two men played cards until Travers walked in to relieve Chen. With almost casual ease, the two members of the A-Team disarmed, gagged, and bound the young soldier. Carefully, they placed him in a comfortable position in BA's cell.

Face, still in bare feet, silently made his way to the cafeteria. It was his job to scout out the location of the remaining three guards. He figured the remaining guards would congregate where they had initially set themselves up. He was pleased to see that he was right.

Silently, he padded back to where BA was waiting for him. With hand signals, he told his friend what he had discovered. Once again, he headed back to the kitchen, the gun raised and ready in his hands. He could hear BA following him, but slowly to minimize the sound of his footfalls.

At the entrance to the kitchen, Face debated waiting for BA to catch up. He realized then, that for some reason, the three soldiers were all very silent in the cafeteria and would hear BA any second. No sooner had that thought entered his mind than he charged into the cafeteria waving his gun in front of him.

The soldiers were all gathered around one table absorbed in a game of chess. The reason for the silence was that they had reached a very critical moment in the game. They were so caught up in the game, that Face had to actually clear his throat before they looked up. Then, in a moment of pure comedy, the three men jumped up and bumped into each other in their haste to run for their guns. Face grinned and shot a round or two above their heads.

"Gentlemen, I highly recommend that you lie face down on the floor and put your hands behind your heads."

Slowly, all three men obeyed. Face felt BA enter the cafeteria behind him. He could see on the other men's faces that BA looked a whole lot bigger and meaner when he wasn't incarcerated. Face grinned and winked at Powell who turned his head away in disgust.

An hour later, Face finished lacing up his boots. It felt good to be dressed in his own clothes again, and he liked having his lockpicks and other tools near him. Besides, every time BA caught sight of the bandages, he would start to frown, and Face was running out of ideas to distract him. His chest felt fine, well, relatively speaking. Specifically, relative to the first day, it felt fine. So, he was fine, right?

"Face, you ready to go?"

"Sure, big guy. Onto part two," he replied cheerily.

BA scowled and muttered, "...worse than that crazy fool Murdock."

*****************************

The two members of the A-Team left the Cellhouse by the front doors. BA strode forward between the ruins of the Warden's house on the left and the lighthouse on the right. As he reached the observation point, he saw the streets of San Francisco beckoning. After a brief pause, he tore his eyes away from the shore and towards the remains of what had been the small "town" when guards had families living with them on the island. After the Indian Occupation of 1970 and 1971, the apartments had been bulldozed.

Some people would only see rubble and junk. BA on the other hand, saw endless possibilities. He clapped his hands together, interlaced his fingers and then stretched out his arms, palms outwards. After dropping his arms, he headed back towards the Cellhouse and Face who was leaning against the wall, eyes closed and face tilted up towards the sun. As BA drew near, Face opened his eyes and arched his eyebrows inquiringly.

"We got a goldmine, Face. We just need some tools."

Face pushed himself away from the wall and the two of them headed back into the building. Lucky for them, the work crews who had been repairing some minor damage to the buildings had left an impressive pile of tools just inside the doorways. BA immediately snagged a belt with a large variety of items hanging from loops or tucked into pockets. He poked around the other equipment, and grinned when he discovered there was a welder. Grabbing that, too, he then motioned to Face to grab a red box filled with an assortment of tools, screws, and other junk. He didn't miss the slight hesitation as Face leaned over.

Fine, huh? Face, I oughtta tan your hide for lying to me. BA grumbled to himself as he reached over and snagged the red box out of Face's grasp.

As Face turned in surprise to confront BA, the sergeant thrust the much lighter tool belt at his friend and then headed towards the road by which they had arrived. After a few strides, he started thinking about Face. The man exasperated BA beyond belief because everything had to be approached in an indirect fashion with Face. He would never tell you something if you asked him outright. You always had to wheedle the information out of him, and BA was not good a wheedling. Usually, if he thought something was wrong with the lieutenant, he would tell Murdock or Hannibal who would then deal with it. This time, neither Murdock nor Hannibal was around, and BA was starting to lose patience.

For perhaps the first time, BA wondered why Face was so difficult to pin down. As he trudged down the steep roadway, a thought hit him. Maybe Face really did think he was okay. Maybe Face was convinced that he was in good enough shape. The idea was so intriguing that BA unconsciously slowed his pace. He only realized that he had done so when Face skidded and nearly crashed into from behind. He heard the other man hiss and snap, "BA!"

Then, Face stopped. BA turned around and was surprised by the look of concern on his friend's face. The lieutenant reached out and gently placed his hand on BA's shoulder.

"Are you okay, BA?"

BA widened his eyes and frowned in puzzlement, "Whatcha talkin' about, fool?"

Face took his hand off BA's shoulder and stepped back slightly, "You just stopped suddenly. Then, I saw the bump on your head...," he paused brushed his hand through his hair in a self-conscious gesture, "So, I was worried about you," he finished.

BA was touched, "Don't worry about me, Face. I'm okay. It just stings. Ain't no worse than what you guys do to me, sometimes."

Face crossed his arms and replied, "It sure looks a whole lot worse to me."

"How about your ribs, man? You keep tellin' me that you're fine, but you can't even bend over without hurting."

Face raised his eyebrows, "BA, I am fine. I'm sore, yes, but that's to be expected. That doesn't mean I can't do my job."

"I didn't say nothin' about you not doing your job, Faceman. I'm talking about you being hurt but telling me that you're fine."

"If I can do my job, then I am fine." Face's jaw was not exactly clenched, but the muscles along side it were taut.

BA thought to himself, who are you trying to convince? Me or you?

BA raised his chin slightly and cocked his head to one side in a completely uncharacteristic gesture. If he had seen himself, he would have recognized one of Hannibal's "I'm not buying your bullshit" looks. He couldn't see himself, but he could see Face. The lieutenant narrowed his eyes slightly and then he smiled, uncrossed his arms and raised them palms out in a conciliatory gesture.

"Hey, Big Guy, maybe we should just drop this for now and concentrate on getting off this rock. When we meet up with the others, we'll let Hannibal decide who is fine and who isn't."

BA decided that was probably the best he was going to get from the lieutenant so he nodded and together they headed down to the Parade Ground. Halfway down the second switchback, Face asked, "What are we building?"

"We're gonna build a catamaran. If we can find a generator or an air tank or something, we'll put a motor on it. If not, we'll make a sail."

Face nodded his head, "Sounds good. What do we need?"

BA shot a brief look at his friend and then smiled slightly. He was mildly surprised, but very pleased that Face had accepted his plan so readily. He took it as a compliment and a real sign of respect.

"We need buoyant stuff like sealed oil drums or barrels. Maybe 6 of 'em. Then, we need some metal beams we can use to make cross braces. It wouldn't hurt to find something we can use to make a sail."

"Okay. I figure we've got about 6 hours before Decker will be back. How long do you think it'll take to put together the catamaran?"

With that, the two men quickly put together their cut-off times and a rough schedule. Part of that schedule included checking on the prisoners at irregular intervals. Finally, the two men started scavenging through the remains of the buildings on the Parade ground.

Two hours later, they met on the Parade ground by the pile of stuff they had gathered. They hadn't found everything they wanted, but they hoped it was enough. They only found 5 barrels and one was considerably smaller than the rest. There were lots of loose wiring for binding material and beams for braces, but nothing suitable for a decent sail. In the end, they chose to create a motorized catamaran with oars. A small sail wouldn't get them across the bay quickly enough to counterbalance the fact that it would make them easier to spot when the MPs came looking for them.

Looking at their stash, the two men drew a plan for construction. Within half an hour, they were welding and cutting and bickering amiably. As time passed, Face became more silent and BA more vocal. It was clear that neither man was really in the kind of physical shape they needed to be. Doggedly, they persisted. And tried to keep out of each other's way.

On schedule, at the 5 hour mark, they finished their masterpiece. It consisted of two pairs of two oil drums on either side of a wooden framework. A fifth and much smaller barrel jutted out of the front of the wooden frame at the prow of the boat. A metal framework resembling a child's drawing of a house with a X through it was welded onto the top of all the barrels and held the barrels in place and reinforced the wooden frame.

On top of the metal frame, BA had welded a couple of old grilles for a platform. Face had scavenged and then bolted a large plastic box to the back of the grilles as a waterproof container for the generator and motor. BA had assembled the generator and a motor and fan into a propeller for the craft. The biggest challenge was that the motor had to stay dry but the propeller had to be in the water. Fortunately, they managed to overcome the difficulty with ingenuity and duct tape.

At the front of the boat, they had nailed together thin sheets of plywood to create a prow that would cut through the water. Although not part of the original plan, BA added a wind and water barrier for the passengers out of plastic sheeting and some wooden stakes. Finally, they lined the base of the catamaran with more plastic sheeting.

Face sat down rather abruptly on the edge of the vehicle. He rubbed his face and pushed back his hair. As he looked at the craft, he started to smile. It got wider and wider. He looked at BA.

"I can hardly believe we did it, BA. This is great."

BA who had been stretching his shoulders while he surveyed the craft turned to Face. Seeing the delight in his friend's face, he smiled, too. He decided at that moment to forget all the faults he could see with the ungainly craft.

"Yeah, man. We did it," Then, impulsively, he clapped Face gently on the shoulder, and continued, "You did a real good job, Face."

Startled, Face's eyes widened and his smile slipped for a brief second. As he recovered, he punched BA's shoulder lightly. "You, too, BA. Now, let's go see if this thing floats."

Early in the process, they realized that they wouldn't be able to carry their creation down to the dock so they had mounted the wheels from a couple of dollies onto the craft. It still took them the better part of a half-hour to manoeuvre the awkward vehicle down the three treacherous switchbacks to the dock. At last they arrived.

They leaned against the raft and caught their breath. Face looked at his watch. Five and a half hours had passed since they started building the boat. 6 and a half hours since they had broken out of the cells. About eight hours since Decker had left. They didn't have much time left. Time to move.

"C'mon, Sergeant, let's move it."

BA glanced up at Face. He was irritated at the brusque tone, particularly since it implied he was the one holding things up. As he looked at the lieutenant, he read the stiff body posture, tense jaw muscles, and with a flash of insight recognized that the other man was trying to hide his own fatigue.

Pick your battles, Bosco. Let's get home, first. He reminded himself and swallowed his irritation.

To their relief, they discovered that the work crews had left behind a temporary slip from which they could launch their craft. As the catamaran slid down the slip and into the water, the two friends held their breath and waited to see if it would float. They collectively blew out sighs of relief as it floated serenely.

Quickly, they scrambled on board. The craft rode lower to the water than either man liked, but it did float and they weren't in any danger of being washed off. BA's concern was that there was no way to avoid getting wet. He hoped the journey would not take too long.

Carefully, BA used the oars to paddle them away from the dock while Face started up the generator. Face whooped with joy as the motor started and the propeller spun. BA raised the oars and they were off. The craft moved like a brick through the water, but at least it moved.

As the craft left the shelter of the island, the wind reminded them that it was autumn. A stiff breeze cut right through their clothes, bringing on the shivers. It didn't dampen the spirit of either man. They had done it. This was a moment out of their childhood fantasies. They hunkered down below the wind screen and prepared to enjoy the ride.

They were so pleased with themselves that they completely failed to notice the boat commandeered by the military police was heading their way. Then, their motor sputtered and died.

"Can you fix it?" Face cringed to hear the anxiety in his own voice. He involuntarily placed a hand over his sore ribs at the thought of rowing all the way to San Francisco.

BA, bent over the engine, didn't bother to answer. If he could, he would. Otherwise, they would have to row. Maybe we'll get lucky and catch a lift from a passing boat. I think I can even hear a boat engine... No sooner had he articulated the thought when it occurred to him who would be the most likely person to come to Alcatraz. Oh no....

BA lifted his head and peered towards the sound of the motor. Face frowned and then followed his gaze. From his higher vantage point, he spotted the boat first.

"Shit, it's Decker!" he cried and then crouched down to grab the oars, "Keep at it, BA! I'll see if I can get us hidden behind the dock. With surprisingly agility, Face turned the craft and heaved with all his might to go back the way they had come. BA went back to fiddling with the motor as best as he could while the little craft tossed him about. After a few minutes, he gave up and watched the MP boat instead. It was definitely gaining, but it was hard to tell by how much. There was still a chance they could make it. Certainly, the catamaran would be hard to spot unless you were looking for it.

They were rounding the island once more and the MP boat was out of sight. Face was gasping with every heave. BA was aching to take over the oars but knew that a change in rower would delay them more than they could afford. He was even afraid to break his friend's concentration by talking so he just sat and willed Face to keep going. C'mon, Face, you can do it. You can do it. Keep going. keep going...

Then, the MP boat rounded the island, too, and at a much faster rate than either man had hoped. It was obvious that it had spotted them as it headed straight for them. BA sagged and let his head drop. They had been so close. It took him half a minute to notice that Face was still going. Abruptly, BA realized that the other man was so focussed on achieving their goal that he hadn't seen the MP boat.

Gently, BA put out a hand and touched Face's shoulder.

"Face? Face! C'mon, man, you can stop. They've got us." Face heaved once more and then stopped. He swayed gently.

"Got us?" he asked in a lifeless voice.

"Yeah. You can rest, now."

"Okay," Face said simply and then collapsed backward. BA leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees and his head in his right hand. He didn't even look up as the MP boat pulled up beside him. That's when the familiar voice caught him completely by surprise.

"Hey, Mudsucker, need a lift?"

BA shot a startled glance up at the boat. Sure enough, the cheerful face of HM Murdock was peering down at him. Two emotions hit BA with equal force: relief and fury. The combination left him speechless but with an overwhelming desire to break something. He closed his eyes, breathed deeply, and counted to 10 slowly.

When he opened his eyes, he felt marginally more in control. At least sufficiently in control that he wouldn't injure someone. Then, an idea occurred to him that evaporated the anger.

Murdock was looking at him with a puzzled and concerned expression, "Uh, BA, Face, you guys okay?"

BA replied calmly, "Help me get Face into the boat."

Murdock's expression turned to alarm and he quickly reached down to drag the groggy lieutenant into the boat. He turned to give BA a hand, but the sergeant shook his head.

"I gotta see if I could have made it."

Murdock frowned. Then, he started to smile, as he understood what BA meant.

"Okay, BA. I'll let the colonel know."

Then Face croaked, "BA wait. Let me come, too." He had dragged himself back up to a standing position beside Murdock.

The captain grabbed Face's arm and opened his mouth, but closed it again. Sighing, he assisted Face to climb back onto the raft.

"What's the hold up, guys?" Hannibal's voice made all three look up.

The colonel was approaching them from the cabin area of the boat. His tread was quick and firm. Murdock looked at BA who took a deep breath and let it out slowly and then resumed his task of assisting Face back on the raft. Murdock turned to respond to Hannibal, but the colonel reached the side of the boat before any words were spoken.

Hannibal looked down to see what was going on. He saw an exhausted BA with an almost comatose Face sitting on a makeshift raft-like structure.

"Geez, Face, you look like crap. C'mon BA, get on board so I can help Face."

BA set his jaw and looked Hannibal directly in the eye, "No, man. We gotta see if we can do this thing."

Face raised his head and nodded his agreement. He looked bad: pale and shaky. BA didn't look much better with a pretty severe bruise on one side of his head. Hannibal shook his head. He didn't want them to do this. It was unnecessary. It might aggravate any injuries they had. It was a bad idea.

Two sets of determined eyes watched him. Hannibal abruptly recognized what it was they wanted to do, and with that realization came an understanding of what it would mean to his two friends.

He smiled, "Be careful, BA. Signal if you run into trouble."

BA nodded and then turned back to the motor on the raft. This time, he spotted the loose wire right away. Smiling to himself, he connected it. Once more, the ungainly craft set out on its journey to the port of San Francisco.

They knew that Hannibal was following them fairly closely because occasionally they heard Murdock cheering them on. But, this was a personal journey so they did not acknowledge the cheers. Only when he arrived at the port, did they turn and wave to the others. They both wore the biggest grins that Hannibal and Murdock had ever seen.

They had done it - escaped from Alcatraz.


Challenge of the Rock by Ldot

 

 


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