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Piece of Cake
Summary: The boys find themselves in trouble with an old enemy of Hannibal’s and a sick Murdock. Be kind. This is only my second A-team story. Please send me some constructive criticism. This story needs it.
Rating: PG-13. This is based on some torture that is mild or eluded to. I wouldn't call it graphic, but I don't want anybody to be upset. No sex. No slash. No swearing.
Disclaimer: I wish I owned them, but they aren't mine. Stephen can have them for a time. But soon enough they'll be with me, and we'll live forever, happily.
Piece of Cake
Hannibal slept softly in his director’s chair. He wasn’t the director, but the actors got one of those chairs as well. His new role was very lucrative, and would look great on his résumé. The work, however, was exhausting, and when a stagehand woke him up with a telephone call, he was none too pleased.
"I was asleep!" he yelled into the phone.
"Señor?" a woman asked in Spanish. She sounded very confused. Hannibal felt very foolish.
You’re not Face or B. A. he thought to himself. "I’m so very sorry, ma’am. I thought you were someone else. Please forgive me. What can I do for you?"
"Sí. It’s okay. You are John Smith? From the A-team? The team who helps people?"
Hannibal pondered the question for a moment. Why would she ask that? More importantly, how did she know to ask that? "Maybe you should tell me why you need to know that, ma’am."
The woman took a deep breath. "My husband was kidnapped down here in Argentina by a drug lord. I want my husband back so badly. I heard that the A-team helps people with this sort of problem."
"They certainly do, Señora, but it is not on a pro-bono basis."
John bit his lip. Simple English, simple English. "They A-team does help save people from mean drug lords, but they don’t do it for free. There is a price to pay for such services."
"Of course, Señor. Is 20,000 American dollars enough to cover their fee?"
The newly lit cigar fell from Hannibal’s mouth. 20,000?! "Madam, you have called the right man. I can assure you that the A-team will be more than happy to help you in your dire situation. Please tell me where and when to meet you and you will have all the help you need."
The woman exhaled heavily, grateful for his positive answer. "Thank you, thank you! If you can fly to a small airport in Huarga, Argentina within twenty-four hours, I would be so appreciative. I’ll have a jeep waiting to pick you up there. Is this acceptable?"
"Very much so, ma’am. The A-team will meet you then and there and I can assure you that we will do everything to save your husband."
Hannibal hung up the phone. He was grinning from ear to ear as he phoned Face. "Face? Have I got a job for you…"
Face gave the nurse his winning smile. "How do you do, ma’am?" he asked in his most innocent, gentlemanly voice. "I’m Major John O’Reiley here to take Captain Murdock to Colonel Decker. Is that okay, Lieutenant?"
The pretty brunette cocked her head at him. "I dunno, Major; Captain Murdock is kind of ill. Can’t this wait?"
Peck blinked once. "Unless he’s dying, I’m afraid this can’t wait. Is it…contagious?"
"No, sir, you won’t catch it," she answered with a smile. "Captain Murdock is right down the hall. I’ll let you-"
"Elise!" a man’s voice bellowed down the hall. "Elise, we need you in here. Crocker is going off his nut. Bring a tranq!"
Elise grabbed a needle and a bottle of medicine, threw the key to Murdock’s room at Face, and raced off. "Fifth door on the left!" she yelled as she ran down the hall.
Thank you, Mr. Crocker. Face waltzed down the hall and unlocked Murdock’s door. He stepped through to find his friend sprawled face-down on the bed. "Hey, buddy, have we got a job!"
"Faceman, I don’t feel real good." H. M. sniffled. "I don’t suppose you could do this job without me?"
Peck sat on the edge of the bed and patted his friend’s back gently. "I’m sorry, Murdock, but we have to fly down to Argentina. I’d ask B.A. to fly us, but you know how he hates showing off."
Murdock started laughing, but the laughing turned into coughing. A great fit of coughing that left him out of breath and physically worn out. "Geez, Murdock! Are your lungs still in your chest?"
"Don’t make me laugh anymore," he said quickly, but with a smile. "I’ll go with you, but this job had better be worth it. And you can be sure that Hannibal will get a piece of my mind!"
Face helped Murdock get up and slipped the straight jacket over his friend for looks. It wouldn’t look right if Face walked out of a psychiatric hospital with his arm over a patient’s shoulder. "Actually, Hannibal isn’t coming," Face said as they walked out of the building. "He’s filming in Los Angeles and the part is so good that he doesn’t want to leave it. He says we’re old enough to take care of a little drug lord. He told me his plan and we can improvise as needed, but we’ve got a plan."
The two stepped into the waiting van. "Do you think you’re going to be okay, H. M.? Should we stop for some Robitussin or something?"
"What’s wrong wit da foo?" B. A. asked from the driver’s seat. Face crawled into the passenger’s seat without putting on his safety belt.
"Oh, he’s got a cold and doesn’t feel very well.
"Yeah, so be nice to me, ya ugly mudsucka."
B. A. chuckled in a not happy fashion. "We picked you up, foo, we can put you back. Oh, and I suppose you think we’ll be flying?"
Murdock reached over B. A’s seat and grabbed the big man buy his shoulder. He squeezed hard and felt his friend go limp.
Face grinned as he grabbed the wheel and kicked B. A’s foot off the gas pedal. "Well, I believe we will be flying after all."
Murdock pointed down at a landing strip. "There’s where we’re going to land. Your misery is over, Faceman."
Face looked over at his pilot friend. His face had a green tint to it. "Too much turbulence, Murdock. Could you have found anymore air pockets on the way here?"
There was movement in the back and the door to the cockpit shot open. Both men looked at each other grimly. "I pity da foo who knocked me out," B. A. rumbled. "One of you is gonna be in a lot of pain in a minute."
Murdock landed the plane skillfully and turned to face B. A. "What was your jibba jabba, B. A.? I wasn’t payin’ you no attention."
B. A. pounded his fist into his hand. "Foo, I’m gonna kill…foo, you ain’t lookin’ too good. What wrong wit ya?"
"I got a cold. Does that mean ya ain’t gonna kill me? I mean, seein’ as how I already feel like somebody run over my chest with a bulldozer, why trouble yourself?"
Face shook his head. "Guys, I think we ought to get off this plane and get to our job. I realize it’s going to be an easy enough job, but maybe we should get started."
The three men made their way off the plane. B. A. stomped off, angry as hell because he’d been tricked again. He would never get the best of his friends. Murdock coughed and pointed at a jeep. "I think that’s for us," he wheezed.
They walked up to the jeep. Face looked inside and found it empty. No people, no keys. "I don’t get it. Where is this lady we’re supposed to help?
The Team never heard the four men come up. They struck the team members in the neck with nasty looking syringes. B. A., Face, and Murdock fell to the ground with thuds.
I think it was a trap Face thought to himself as he lost consciousness.
B. A. woke up first. He felt groggy and sick to his stomach. He pushed himself up against the metal bars of a cage. As the mental fog cleared he took in his surroundings. He sat in a very large metal cage which hung off the ground and was covered on the bottom with hay. It was outdoors but surrounded by a building on all but one side."
B. A., are you awake?" Face asked. "What happened?"
"We got ambushed. Somebody knew we was comin’ and they was waitin’ for us. I don’t like, Face. And somebody’s gonna pay."
B. A. and Face crawled over to Murdock. His face was flushed and his breathing raspy. "He looks worse," B. A. commented. "Crazyman shoulda stayed in bed."
"He was kind of important to the mission, but you’re right. I think," he said reaching to touch his friend’s face. "He’s got a fever. Hey, Murdock, wake up. C’mon, buddy, wakey, wakey."
B. A. pulled Murdock up by his shoulders and shook him gently. "Okay, okay, I’m up, B. A. You can stop that now before I throw up all over you. What happened?"
"Near as we can tell," Face began, "whomever we’re working for let word slip that we were coming. I think the drug lord found out and got to us before we could get to that lady."
B. A. looked annoyed and confused. "What did Hannibal say about this mission? Did he think anything funny was going on?"
"And I quote, ‘it’ll be a piece of cake’."
"And you believed him?!" Murdock asked incredulously. "Every time he says that we end up in a situation like…well, like this. You know, when he says that, I think I’m safer with Decker than with him."
B. A. shook his head sadly. "Y’know, the foo’ got a point. Next time Hannibal…says…," B. A. trailed off as he noticed two men walking out of the compound which surrounded their cage. "We got company."
Face and Murdock turned to see the men. One was very large—perhaps larger than B. A.—and Hispanic. He carried a machine gun over his shoulder and looked like he wanted nothing more than to use it. The other man was Asian and obviously the leader. He walked with purpose and confidence towards the cage. The five men stared at each other.
"Who’re you, foo’, and what we doin’ here?" B. A. demanded angrily.
The Hispanic man started menacingly towards the cage with his hand on the weapon at his side: a cattle prod. The Asian man put a restraining hand on the large man’s shoulder.
"I," the Asian man said, stepping forward, "am Ho Dok Chi, a former General in the in the Vietcong Army. This is Juan Santos who will be looking after you for your stay here."
"Why’re we here?" Murdock asked calmly. Insanity had its positives; no matter where he went he was somewhere else.
Ho cleared his throat and began, "Truthfully, I was not after you. It is your leader, Colonel John Smith, whom I desired, but apparently he does not follow his team everywhere. You see, Colonel Smith captured me in Vietnam and I felt the need to return the favor, so I had a call made to him with a story that I had kidnapped a woman’s husband. You came and I took you, but unfortunately, Smith I still do not have."
"Want us to go get him?" Murdock asked hopefully.
"Shut-up, foo’!" B. A. whispered.
Ho laughed softly, a very unpleasant sound. "That is quite all right. Since I have the three of you, I will simply invite him to join us. Please come with me," He directed, pointing to Face. "I would like you to call your Colonel."
All three of the men stood up. "Take me instead," Murdock requested. "I’m the highest ranking person here. Take me."
"I pointed to him," Ho replied stoically.
"Please take me instead of him. It doesn’t matter who goes with you, so leave him here-"
Face pushed Murdock into the bars of the cage. "Don’t be so stupid, Captain. I can go with him. I’m a big boy."
But Peck had already moved to the door of the cage and was led out by Juan Santos. The three men disappeared behind a metal door. Murdock kicked one of the bars with his foot. "He’s stubborn as an ass!"
"Dats the pot callin’ the kettle black. Ain’t met anyone as stubborn as you, Murdock."
Murdock smiled weakly. "Well if it ain’t the black man tellin’ me I’m the pot callin’ the kettle black.
Five minutes went by. Suddenly, a loud scream was heard from the building. Murdock jumped up and grabbed the bars of the cage, squeezing them so hard that his knuckles turned white. B. A. ran up next to him and stared at the door Face had walked through.
"Maybe it idn’t him," B. A. suggested, though he knew it was.
"It has to be. I remember the screams from…’Nam. That is Face!"
Murdock began shaking the bars furiously. He yelled obscenities at their captors and begged them to bring Face back. His voice cracked and tears began to run down his eyes. B. A. grabbed his friend and pulled him off the bars. Murdock was more than exhausting himself.
"Don’t waste your energy, foo! Murdock, stop yelling and don’t fight me."
Murdock feebly fought the much larger man, and if the situation hadn’t been so dire, Murdock’s pathetic attempt to free himself from B. A. would have made the big man laugh. But it didn’t. And Murdock collapsed to the ground.
"I don’t wanna go back. B. A. It’s a dark place, you know. Oh, God, please, I don’t want to go back."
B. A. swept Murdock into a bear hug and held on tightly. "L’il brother, you ain’t gonna go back. It’s okay. I got you, and I ain’t gonna leggo."
Before Ho even spoke, he motioned for Juan Santos to use the cattle prod on Face. Juan set the device to its highest setting and struck Face in the chest with it. Face screamed.
"That is your warning. I’m going to dial Colonel Smith and when he answers you will speak with him. If you do not, I will leave you and Señor Santos alone with the cattle prod. Do we have an understanding?"
"Yes," Face gasped.
Ho dialed Hannibal and put the phone to Face’s ear.
"Colonel?" Face asked. "Hannibal, we have a small problem here."
Hannibal shook his head in Los Angeles. "What did Murdock do to B.A. this time? Please tell me it didn’t involve any sharp objects."
"Hannibal, we’ve been captured."
"You’ve been what?"
Face took a deep breath. "We have been captured by a man named Ho Dok Chi. The entire mission was a ruse just to get you down here so he could capture you. But you didn't come."
"Give him the phone. I want to know what the hell is going on," Hannibal demanded.
"He wants to speak with you," Face said, glaring holes into Ho.
"Hello, Colonel. I have your men. Do you want them back?"
"What do you want, Ho? I remember you all too well to know that you don’t just want to chit chat."
"I just want you, Colonel Smith. I want you to come down here. I will capture you and let your men go; my grudge isn’t with them. But I will kill you.
"Don’t do it!" Face yelled, but Juan Santos quickly pistol whipped Face into silence. The pretty lieutenant fell forward in the chair.
Ho grimaced and continued speaking. "If that isn’t enough incentive for you, Colonel, then let me assure you that for everyday you are not here, I will break one bone in each of your subordinates bodies. Thus, I suggest you hurry if you are coming. If you are not, you can tell me and I will execute them right now. It will be slow and painful and involve many instruments of torture. God knows I could use the practice."
"Shut-up," Hannibal commanded. "I will come and I will be there within a day so don’t break their bones. If I find out you’ve hurt one hair on them, I’ll destroy you."
Ho laughed softly and hung up the phone. "Let us take him back to the cage," he said, pointing at Face.
Juan Santos dumped Face in the cage. Murdock cradled Face in his arms, checking him over for wounds. Face began to come to and Murdock was so happy he began coughing.
"Don’t cough on me," Face said weakly, but with a tiny smile.
"Whachyou do to him? Wha’ happened in there?"
Ho smiled. It was a very ugly smile. "Your commander is coming."
Hannibal walked confidently onto the army air strip. He glanced at the pilot next to him. A tall, lean man with hard eyes glanced back.
"I want to thank you for doing this," Hannibal said as they boarded the tiny plane. He sat in the copilot seat, leaned back and lit a cigar. "I realize this could get you in trouble, Captain Blakeslee."
Leonard Blakeslee flipped the planes switches to start the engine. "You’re absolutely right, Colonel. But if Howlin’ trusts ya, then I do, too. I can’t tell you how many times Murdock saved my butt in the air. He’s the best pilot I ever knew. It’s worth getting in trouble to return the favor."
In no time at all, the two men were on their way to Argentina. Although Hannibal appeared to be sleeping, Blakeslee knew better. The colonel was thinking intently on how he was going to save his team and his friends. John Smith was known for his planning abilities. That was what so often foiled Decker’s plans. "What’re ya thinking about, Colonel?"
Hannibal smiled. Leonard Blakeslee was perceptive. "Just wondering what my guys are doing right now. I’ll bet B. A. and Murdock are fighting and Face is trying to calm them down. They may not seem to get along, but they’re really very good friends."
"B. A.? You mean "Bad Attitude" Baracus? Murdock used to talk about him all the time. Said he was the ugliest mudsucker on earth, but one of the best people Murdock ever got to know. Colonel Smith, what’s a mudsucker?"
Hannibal laughed softly. "Yes, it’s a peculiar relationship, but that’s how it is with all of us. Nothing can ever just be normal?"
"You sure seem attached to them. I wish I had friends as good as you do."
Hannibal stared off into the sky reflectively. "I am awfully blessed, aren’t I? However, my position as their commander and friend is precarious to say the least. How much longer until we get to Argentina?"
"About three more hours. It’ll go by quickly."
Leonard sat back as he flew and Hannibal resumed his shut-eye. Truthfully, Leonard knew exactly how Hannibal felt. Hannibal felt like a father who just had his only three sons kidnapped. For that was exactly what happened. He could hear it in Smith’s voice when he spoke. That concern and worry was as evident as the sky they flew in. So was Hannibal determination.
Just over three hours later, they arrived in Argentina. Hannibal left the plane to scout the territory. He thanked Blakeslee again and let the pilot return to the U. S. where he hoped Captain Blakeslee wouldn’t get into trouble.
As Hannibal headed onto the dirt road that led away from the airport, he never noticed the pair of eyes that watched him leave.
"Man, how long we been stuck in here?" B. A. asked, wiping sweat from his brow.
"Ten hours, seventeen minutes, and twenty-eight seconds," Murdock replied hoarsely.
"But who’s counting?" Face replied. Face crawled over to B. A. "I’m very worried about Murdock. He’s sounding worse by the minute. His breathing is so raspy and look at him; he’s feverish and sweaty at the same time. He keeps coughing. I knew I shouldn’t have taken him out of the VA. A doctor could be seeing him right now and helping him get better. He-"
"Is going to be fine," B. A. comforted Face. "Ain’t nothin’ gonna happen to dat stubborn foo’. You’re worryin’ for nothin’."
Face would have responded except that Ho walked into the open area with another person. The three men could hear Ho speaking with the newcomer.
"You know I am opposed to this," Daniel seethed.
Ho smiled. "What are you more opposed to, Dr. Wallace: breaking the bones of these men you don’t even know, or being responsible for the death of your wife and unborn child?"
Daniel sighed and trudged to his patient’s cage. Or was that victims?
B. A. ‘s eyes narrowed as Dr. Wallace entered the cage. "I’m Daniel Wallace," he said shyly to B. A. who simply glared at him. "I’m going to give you a little physical exam. You aren’t gonna…hurt me, are you?"
Ho laughed from the door of the cage. "That would be very bad for you, Dr. Wallace. You’re the only doctor here."
Daniel blanched. He didn’t so much examine B. A. as look him over from a distance. "Yep, you’re just fine," he said and quickly moved on to Face who’s actions were not much better. Wallace gently lifted one of Face’s arms, then let it drop when B. A. growled. "Okay, you’re good to go," Daniel’s voice cracked.
When Daniel moved to Murdock, Face and B. A. stepped closer to their friend. The doctor would have stepped back and just assumed that Murdock was fine, but he knew the pilot wasn’t. Daniel’s eyes narrowed. "He’s sick."
"Brilliant," Face commented.
Daniel moved to Murdock without concern for B. A. and Face. He put a gentle had to Murdock’s face and quickly removed it. "He’s burning up." Wallace put the stethoscope to his ears and listened to Murdock’s chest. He looked into H. M. ‘s eyes and looked up at Ho. "This man is very ill. He needs medical help."
"And what are you?"
"Well according to you, I’m here to break their bones! Now at least give this guy some water. His forehead could fry an egg and his breathing is horrible. He needs water to re-hydrate him and loosen the phlegm in his lungs. Ho, please!"
Chi cracked his neck and waved a hand at Daniel. Murdock would get some water. Daniel sighed in relief. "The bone breaking won’t be that difficult," he said in defeat. "I…can do it."
Daniel brushed a strand of hair out of Murdock’s eyes and patted the pilot on the head. He reached into his pocket and laid two aspirin on the ground next to Murdock. He left the cage on the verge of tears.
"Get some rest," Ho suggested as he locked the cage. "You’ll need it."
Hannibal walked into a seedy looking bar. If answers could be found anywhere, they could be found in that bar. He walked up to the bartender and ordered a whisky. "You know, Señor, this really isn’t the place for a gringo like you."
Hannibal wasn’t never wavered. "I said I want a whiskey."
The bartender shrugged and gave Hannibal a whiskey. As he gingerly sipped the ultra-powerful drink, he pulled a wad of twenties out of his pocket. "Do you like money?"
The bartender gave Hannibal a strange look. "What kind of a question is that? Who doesn’t like money? Show me a person who doesn’t like money and I’ll show you a corpse. Everybody-"
"I’ll take that as a yes. How about you tell me a little bit about Ho Dok Chi, and I’ll give you a lot of money? Is that a deal you can handle? Oh, I should probably tell you that if you don’t tell me about Ho, I’ll have to destroy your bar."
The bartender smiled. "Sounds like a deal to me. What is it you want to know, Señor?"
"Just start from the top."
"Well, Señor Chi came here about eight years ago…yes, because it was 1973 when he first showed up. When he discovered how profitable drugs could be, he made his own empire out of it. Since then, he has run this town."
"Do you know where he is?"
The bartender laughed. "So you haven’t noticed that huge compound three miles south of here?"
"That belongs to Ho?"
"What doesn’t belong to Ho? That is what he operates out of; all the business he does happens there. Why you asking so many questions?"
Hannibal glared the bartender down. "I’m not paying you to ask me questions. What do you know about the compound?"
The bartender was about to speak when he looked up and saw a large man. "Hola, Señor Esteva! Como es ta?"
Esteva rambled off something angry in Spanish and Hannibal heard his name. The bartender turned white and in a split second, the bartender was dead from a gunshot wound. Hannibal fell to the floor, getting out his gun while he fell. He shot the nasty Mexican dead.
"I hate South America," he muttered as he put away his gun and left the bar. At least he had the leads he needed.
The dark Amazon night was upon the caged men. The air had turned surprisingly cool for what had been a humid, hot day.
"Time to sleep," Face announced. "We gotta get some sleep, guys."
B. A. grunted and Murdock just wheezed. He was shivering and curled into the fetal position, his head on Face’s lap. Face gently touched Murdock’s cheek, noting that his friend was even hotter than before. His brow furrowed and he sighed sadly. Daniel’s aspirin hadn’t helped very much. Certainly not with the coughing and wheezing and general drowning in bodily fluids.
The three men were soon huddled together. Face and B. A. had place Murdock between them to help keep him warm. "I don’t think that doctor guy is so bad," Murdock mumbled as he snuggled between his friends.
"He’s planning on breaking our bones!" Face cried. "He doesn’t strike me as bein’ that swell."
"Naw, da foo’s got a point—I can’t believe ah’ said that two times today. That doctor don’t wanna break ‘a bones—Ho is makin’ him. Didn’t you see that look on th’ doctah’s face?"
Face cocked his head. "Well…if he’s so concerned…why don’t we try to convince him to help us tomorrow. I’m sure we can pull something off so things can work out for Daniel and for us. It’s easy to pull a con with a person who wants to do what you’re conning them to do. Do you follow."
"Not really," Murdock said frankly. "But it sounds like a good idea…I think."
"We’ll work on his pity—get him to help us out."
"Better ‘n getting’ our bones broke," B. A. muttered.
The three sat in silence for a few minutes. Murdock’s breathing evened out a little and his body leaned heavily against B. A., his head resting on the big man’s upper arm. Face quickly followed and he curled up against Murdock, his hair strewn across the pilot’s shoulder where his head lay. Only B. A. was awake.
"We gonna get outta here safely," B. A. promised in a whisper. "I don’t care what the cost to me is guys, I’ll make sure we all make it back to L. A. Back to Hannibal and his crazy plans."
That morning, Ho gave the three prisoners bread and water. "What? Is this the middle ages?" Face complained. However, when the captor threatened to take away the food, Face eagerly devoured the bread and drank the water before Ho could even open the door to get at the meager meal.
Not much later after the food incident, Daniel entered the clearing that held the A-team. He stared first at the ground, then up to heaven, and back at the ground again. B. A. wouldn’t have admitted it, but he felt pity for the poor doctor; obviously Daniel Wallace was Ho’s prisoner as well. Daniel reached the door to the cage which Juan happily opened. He pseudo-graciously extended an arm at Wallace, indicating that the doctor should go first. "Intelligence before moron, I guess," he muttered as he entered the cage, his head hung low.
"I think you should start with their skulls," Juan teased cruelly. "That counts as a bone, right?"
Daniel shot an angry look at the huge Mexican. It was mean enough to shut Juan up. Awkwardly, Daniel stepped over to Murdock and looked his patient over. "At least I can sort of help you," he whispered as he knelt down beside the pilot.
Murdock grabbed the opportunity to win Daniel over. "You can help me more if you’d help me and my friends get out of here. Everybody wins except the bad guy."
"Everybody does not win," Daniel said sadly. "Ho has taken my wife—pregnant with our first child, no less—prisoner. If I don’t do this, I have no illusions that he’ll spare her life. If I were the only one on the line, I’d fight for you…but I’m not. I must protect my family."
Murdock sighed. Neither he or the others had realized the magnitude of Daniel’s predicament. He wasn’t just hurting them to save his life, but to save the life of his wife and child. "I understand," was all Murdock could say. He resigned himself to the pain. He wouldn’t ask Daniel to risk his family and he knew B. A. and Face wouldn’t ask it, either. Murdock looked up at Daniel. The doctor was sitting on the ground, pondering.
"What is taking so long?" Juan asked in a whiny voice. He sounded like a child on a cross country trip. "You are not wasting time with the sick one are you?"
"Would you shut-up? I’m the doctor here and I’ll take however long I need with these men." That was when the thought hit Daniel. It was a wonderful thought and he hoped it would turn out as bright as it seemed. He leaned close to Murdock and whispered conspiratorially, "Can you play really ill? I mean, could you start thrashing about on cue and such as if you were going into a epileptic seizure?"
"Yes," Murdock answered softly. If only Dr. Wallace knew the kinds of things Murdock did at the V. A.; the question would have been pointless.
"If you started thrashing like that, would your friends know to attack the preoccupied men? Would they realize their chance?"
Murdock tried to contain a wide smile. He nodded once and then winked at Face and B. A. who had been staring at him all the time. Although they seemed a little perplexed, they stood still, waiting for something to happen.
Daniel looked Murdock in the eyes, took a deep breath, and then whispered "now". Suddenly, Murdock started to jump around on his butt and made guttural noises. He grabbed at his throat with one hand and pounded the ground with another. Inside he was a smiles; he loved it.
"What’s the matter with him?" Juan demanded, he and the other two men moving closer to Murdock and Daniel.
The doctor snapped his head towards Juan. "He can’t breathe! A little help, please! Somebody go get some water!"
One of the men ran out of the cage, leaving the door wide open. The other man and Juan moved even closer to Daniel and Murdock, moving their hands around as if they knew they needed to do something to help the doctor, but didn’t know what to do.
Seeing their chance, Face and B. A. lunged at Juan and the other man. B. A. took on Juan, whom he had been wanting to clobber since he woke up. However, the Mexican turned out to be about just as strong and willful as B. A. and the match was fairly even. Face, on the other hand, had an easier time with the smaller and more surprised man. He easily knocked him out with two quick rights. Face ran to Murdock and a rather astonished Daniel.
"Boy, can you guys fight! Now hit me," Wallace commanded. When Face just stared, Daniel repeated himself. "You have to hit me!"
"I’m not gonna hit you! You just saved us! Why on Earth should I hit you?"
Daniel shook his head. The men needed to get out of the cage. "Murdock, my family. Ho can’t know what I just did," he reasoned with the man who knew the most about the situation. Murdock nodded.
"Hit ‘em, Face. And make it look good."
Face bit his lip but threw a solid punch, knocking Daniel over and out. He knew there was a good reason behind what he had just done. He just wished he knew what the reason was.
Peck grabbed Murdock and hauled him up. They look at B. A. who was very busy with Juan. He motioned for them to leave and yelled that he would join them soon. They felt safe to leave B. A. when they saw him send Juan into the bars of the cage with a single punch. "The big guy sure is strong," Murdock commented as Face pulled him along.
Nearly half way through the compound, the two men heard a shout, followed by a gun shot, and then quickly thereafter, a scream. Both men stopped dead in their tracks. "I know that scream," Murdock whispered, terror resounding in his voice. He turned to run back to the clearing and the cage but Face grabbed his arm and jerked him back. He pulled Murdock close to his face and looked into his friend’s moist eyes.
"We can’t go back. We can’t help him if we go back," Face said hoarsely. There was a huge lump in his throat and he felt the sobs welling up in his chest. Quickly, the two men continued on their way out of the building and away from their hurt friend.
Hannibal stood outside the large wall which surrounded Ho’s compound. He had staked out what he could without risking being caught. He was surprised to find that Ho didn’t keep much security.
He slipped into the compound and carefully avoided the occasional guard. He was slightly impressed by himself and more than a little disappointed in Ho. He had expected a much greater challenge from such a sociopath.
Upon entering the clearing where three of his men were formerly held prisoner and where one remained, he was even more shocked to find that neither the cage nor the surrounding area had any guards.
Hannibal looked at B. A. A deep sadness and dark anger rose within him when he realized what had been done to his man. The big, black pussy cat was handcuffed to the bars of the cage and his mouth was gagged. Moreover, a large bandage was wrapped around his bare arm. Hannibal’s hands clenched into fists. Oh, Ho was going to pay. Ho was going to pay so much.
He noticed the muffled yells B. A. was emitting from behind the gag. Hannibal threw his friend a reassuring smile, then noticed the look in his eyes. B. A. brow was furrowed and his eyes were frantic. Hannibal cocked his head. He was missing something. He was missing…his common sense.
"Oh my gosh," he whispered as realization hit him. "I’ve walked into trap."
Hannibal spun around to run but came face to face with Ho. A smug, self-satisfied Ho. Behind him stood Juan and three other men. Juan lifted a rifle and pulled the trigger. Hannibal grabbed at his neck where he felt the pain. His knees turned to rubber. He passed out.
"I suppose an elephant dart will keep Colonel Smith manageable for some time," Ho murmured happily.
Face and Murdock stumbled into Daniel’s village. They had run two of the four miles from the compound. Both men looked haggard, but Murdock looked like
"Death warmed over," Face joked while he wiped away his tears. Humor was a wonderful defense for him against pain. There was no humor in his voice and he had a difficult time getting the tears to stop streaming down his cheeks.
Murdock breathed hard, wheezing and making gurgling noises whenever he inhaled. He laid a hand on Face’s shoulder. Face looked up and met Murdock’s soft brown eyes. They were tear-stained and sad but they looked on Face with forgiveness and gratitude. "You did the right thing back there, Faceyman. We’re gonna be a lot more useful out here than we would have been with B. A. Don’t be upset with yourself over leaving B. A. He’s gonna be okay."
Taking a deep breath, Face nodded. The two continued to walk until they came upon a small house. They entered it to be greeted by an ecstatic Daniel.
"How did you find me?" he asked joyously. "I’m so happy you’re well. While I was tending to your friend, Ho wouldn’t tell me anything about you two. I’m glad to see you here unscathed."
"We asked an old guy pushing a cart," Face mumbled as he looked around Wallace’s house. "He told us where to find the ‘American doctor’."
"Is B. A. okay?" Murdock asked without waiting to make small talk. "How’s the big guy?"
Daniel smiled halfheartedly. "I got good news and bad news: the good news is that B. A. is alive and will stay that way in respect to the bullet. The bad news is that I had to take the bullet out of him without anesthesia and he lost a lot of blood. Ho wouldn’t let me use a painkiller. I can’t tell you how much pain that caused me. Every grunt B. A. made…I thought I was going to be sick."
"But he’s going to survive," Face assured.
"Well, he’ll be okay but he isn’t doing really well. Any more problems and I don’t know how his system will handle it. Naturally, I wouldn’t label him "healthy"."
Murdock nodded slowly, then went pale. His eyes rolled into his head and he fell backwards and into Face’s arms. Surprised, Face just looked up at Daniel. "Put him in my bed," the doctor instructed, breaking into his professional mode. Face scooped Murdock up and carried the man into Daniel’s bedroom.
At Daniel’s instruction, Face removed most of Murdock’s clothes save for his polka-dotted boxer shorts.
Dr. Wallace rushed into the room carrying a washcloth soaked in cold water and he laid it on Murdock, running it across the pilot’s forehead, cheeks, lips, neck, and chest. He placed it finally on Murdock’s forehead and checked his lungs, heart, pulse, eyes, nose, and mouth. Before that, however, Daniel placed a thermometer in Murdock’s underarm. Removing it, Daniel’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. "104.4? That’s incredible!"
Wallace sighed heavily. Face made eye contact. "What?" he asked simply.
"Mr. Murdock is running a very high temperature. If that doesn’t kill him by continuing to drain his body of water and wrecking all the internal organs, the level of liquid in his lungs will drown him. He will literally drown to death on the inside, and I don’t have anything that will combat the problem. I’m not a hospital; I’m not stocked like one."
"Then let me go to the local hospital and get the supplies you need. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve conned medical supplies. Come to think of it, I do that an awful lot. What do you need?"
Daniel took another deep breath. "Well, I need the stand which holds the IV bag, the tube to the bag, the IV needle, three bags of saline, an oxygen tank, mask, and hose, plus three medications—two of which are issued through the vein and one that is oral. Oh, and I’ll need syringes, alcohol, and an inhaler." Daniel looked sadly at Murdock who lay struggling to breathe. "And please bring a tracheotomy kit…just in case."
Face’s eyes had turned to the floor. "I can’t get all that stuff," he said grudgingly. It pained him to say that, but even Hannibal had never asked for so many things at one time. "What do you need the most?"
"I need the IV stuff the most because we need to get Murdock’s temperature down. If you can pull off the oxygen tank as well, that would be wonderful. But you must hurry, Face."
Nodding stiffly, Face left the room and headed toward the hospital two miles away.
Hannibal woke up with a start. His extremities felt as though they were on fire, and when he tried to move, he discovered why; his arms and legs were roughly bound in a very awkward position. Awkward? Yes. Painful? Intensely!
Hannibal glanced up and found Ho staring down at him. "I never did like your smile," he muttered and let his head fall back to the ground.
"I got that little toy you’re bound up with from an old friend in the U.S.S.R. They use it to torture their spies. What do you think, Colonel Smith? Does it work well?"
Smith sighed and let his eyes wander until he saw B. A. "How are you doing, Sergeant? Are you feeling-"
"The last person who needs your attention at this moment is Sergeant Baracus. The only person you need to speak with is myself."
Hannibal never took his eyes off of B. A. The big guy understood that Hannibal needed an answer. "I’m okay, Hannibal."
"All right, you murderer, why am I still alive?" Hannibal demanded.
Ho settled down on the hay and smiled. "Lt. Peck and Captain Murdock have escaped from my custody. Although I have found you—or rather, you so graciously found me—I am very angry with your two lost men. I have every intention of destroying you, Colonel Smith, however I am going to destroy Peck and Murdock right along with you. I will have them recaptured and then I will shoot them in front of you. After that I will shoot you."
"And how do you plan to recapture my men? They’re trained in avoiding animals like you."
"Are you under some delusion that they’ve left? Just as you came all the way to Argentina to rescue your men, there is no way your men would leave Argentina without rescuing you. Similarly, as you came to me for them, they’ll come to me for you. It will all work out. Well…it will work out for me; I cannot say the same for you, Colonel Smith."
Ho stood up and gave Hannibal a slight bow. "I must take my leave, Colonel, however you have my word that I will send for you shortly. I have some more equipment from the U. S. S. R. I wish you to test. Meanwhile, I shall send for Dr. Wallace to break Sergeant Baracus’ arm. I hope the anticipation of the next few hours isn’t too much." Ho walked away with a bounce in his step.
"I am going to destroy that man," Hannibal seethed as his aching joints reasserted themselves.
"I’m so sorry," Daniel mumbled as he finished tying Murdock to the bed. The pilot continued to struggled against the rope; he fought the phantom demons from ‘Nam.
"No! God, please, stop!" Murdock screamed hoarsely. Tears were running out of his eyes and his face had turned an even darker red from his previous fevered flush. He pulled so hard against the ropes that he hurt himself.
"Shh, shh," Daniel cooed, running a shaky hand through Murdock’s hair in an attempt to pacify him. "You’re safe, Captain Murdock. Nobody’s gonna hurt you here. You’re not in Vietnam anymore." Finally, when words didn’t work and Murdock only got more panicky, Daniel straddled Murdock, grabbed both of his hands tightly, and kept repeating, "You’re safe" until the Captain stopped struggling against the invisible enemy. Daniel sighed and got off his patient, sitting himself down in a chair next to the bed.
"Wow. Boy, you guys are amazing," Daniel commented to Murdock. "I know your story. I read it in New York Times—yeah, it even gets delivered here. So much trouble, and yet you guys help people all the time. Look at you, Captain Murdock! You have a nasty case of pneumonia which is certainly not being aided by Argentina’s hot, moist climate, yet you wouldn’t stop until your body made you. Colonel Smith came all the way here just to save you and the rest of the A-team…all of you amaze me so much."
Daniel took a deep breath. He was talking more for his own sake than that of his patient’s. His fears were running deeper and deeper. Talking kept his nerves at bay. "You know, Captain, I really envy the deep friendship you four obviously share. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up because I was always studying. Besides, my father was a lawyer and my mother a Beverly Hills socialite; they didn’t have a lot of time to take little Danny on play dates. I really envy you and Lt. Peck’s friendship. You guys are so close; I can tell just by watching the way you look out for each other and care for one another. I guess you two must have been through an awful lot to be so close."
"You’re absolutely right," Face said as he walked through the door. "Murdock is my best friend, Dr. Wallace. He’s closer than a brother and that bond was formed through tragedy and pain."
Wallace looked up and smiled warmly. "You are very lucky to have friends like Captain Murdock and Sergeant Baracus. But please, call me Daniel. Certainly we don’t need any formalities after everything we’ve been through."
Face set two bags on the table. "You’re very right, Daniel. I wish you’d call me Face—that’s what the team and all of my friends call me." Face pulled out the IV equipment and handed it to Daniel. Then, with a self-satisfied grin, he pulled out the little oxygen tank and mask. As Daniel hooked up Murdock, Face sat down and rifled out the few other things he had managed to con. "I was very surprised when I got to the hospital, Daniel."
"Yes, I was very surprised. You see, all of this is courtesy of Sister Mary Adrian and Sister Mary Joseph. Nuns. I conned nuns. Do you know what it does to a person raised in a Catholic orphanage to con nuns? A little warning would have been nice."
Daniel chuckled softly. "I’m sorry about that. It never really dawned on me that you’d have a problem with the sisters. I’m Protestant."
Daniel put the mask over H. M.’s mouth and turned on the oxygen tank. Face stood up and walked over to his friend. "Has he been struggling like this since I left?"
"Unfortunately. He’s delirious and I think he’s having nightmares about Vietnam. I got him to stop for awhile, but I guess they’ve returned. I even had to tie him down because he was getting violent," Daniel said, pointing to the ropes.
"It looks like he’s hurting himself."
Nodding in agreement, Daniel reached for his last syringe. "He is hurting himself. I can see the bruises forming on his wrists. Would you please hand me that little vial?"
Face took the two steps into the tiny kitchen and picked up a medical vial. Daniel took the vial and quickly filled the syringe. He wiped down Murdock’s arm and stuck the needle in. "It’s the same stuff Ho knocked the three of you out with when you first arrived here. It’s a pretty strong sedative, but I think he needs it," Daniel told a curious Face.
When H. M.’s struggling stopped and his face relaxed into blissful unconsciousness, Daniel and Face sat down at the kitchen table. Face crossed his legs and looked thoughtfully at Daniel. "I need to get B. A. and Hannibal out of here, get Murdock to a hospital, and get all of us to the U. S. Got any ideas?"
Hannibal paced the cage with a pronounced limp. His body was bruised and cut, but his face really showed the beating Ho had dealt him. But no bones were broken. Hannibal would heal easily. B. A., however, was another story. Hannibal could see that the entry sight of the gunshot wound was infected. More importantly than that, B. A.’s arm had been broken in three places, causing the big man excruciating pain. Hannibal was happy that B. A. had fallen asleep—even though that sleep was from total mental and physical exhaustion.
Hannibal’s biggest problem was his lack of jazz. He couldn’t form any plan; every idea that came to mind ended with at least one of his men getting killed. More than that, he didn’t know what Murdock and Face were doing, so he couldn’t safely work them into a plan. Hannibal sighed and let himself fall to the ground, though he regretted that when his sore butt hit the steel floor.
"I hope I taught you two well," he said to Face and Murdock, "because right now you two are the only chance we have to get out of here."
The first rays of dawn lit Daniel’s room. Daniel slept in a chair next to Murdock. His head lolled over the back of the chair and his arms dangled towards the floor. He was exhausted.
Face slept in a chair, as well, however his chair was propped against the wall with the two front legs off the floor.
Daniel woke up with a start when Murdock began to stir. Jumping up, he checked Murdock’s pulse, breathing, and temperature.
"How’m I doin’?" Murdock asked without opening his eyes.
Daniel smiled. "You’re doing better, Captain Murdock. The oxygen has helped your breathing some and the saline has lowered your temperature from 105.3 to 103.4. Still, you have a lot more recovery to do. As soon as this is over I’ll get you to a proper hospital with drugs and air conditioning."
Murdock’s eyes fluttered open and he gave Daniel a weak smile. "Well I know I feel better than I did when I passed out. We can go save B. A. and find Hannibal. He’s probably havin’ a heart attack somewhere."
Daniel sighed and sat down. "Captain Murdock—"
"You don’t hafta call me Captain."
"Murdock. I have some bad news. Colonel Smith went looking for you at Ho’s compound. He was captured. He’s Ho’s prisoner and I can assure you that Ho is not the best host. I’m sorry."
Murdock’s face fell. He lay there for a few minutes, breathing heavily and trying to get rid of the lump in his throat. But hope sprang to him quickly and he finagled out of the restraints and sat up. He stood up on shaky legs and walked to Face while a surprised and consternated Daniel looked on. "I don’t suppose you would mind getting back into the bed?"
"Face. Faceyman. Wakey, wakey, little Facey," Murdock said, gently shaking his friend. Face woke up groggy.
"Wha’? What’re you doin’ outta bed, Murdock? Are you better? Daniel?"
Daniel grimaced. "No, he’s not better. He eased himself out of the rope and decided to walk around."
"He lives in a straight jacket. If you think a couple of ropes are gonna hold him, you’ve got another thing comin’."
"Faceman, Ho has Hannibal. We need to go save him and B. A."
There was a long pause in the room. Daniel and Face looked at each other and then at Murdock. "What we?" Face asked. "There is no we. There is a me because you are sick. Very sick."
"When has that ever stopped a member of the A-team?"
Face shrugged and stood up. Daniel was shocked. Why wasn’t Face stopping Murdock? Didn’t he realize how dangerously sick the pilot was? Face explained that H. M. wasn’t called Howlin’ Mad for nothing. "I can’t stop him, Daniel. You can try if you want, but you won’t win."
Daniel made a low growl, similar to B. A.’s, only without producing fear in the people around him. He forced Murdock to sit on the bed and put the oxygen back on over his mouth. "You wear that until you leave my home or I will tie you back down to that bed." Daniel sat down at the table. "So what do you want to do?" he demanded. "I have to get back to Ho’s compound or I’ll raise suspicion. What is your plan so I know where and when to dodge bullets."
Face and Murdock looked thoughtful for a moment, then Face smiled. "Does Ho have any weapons store rooms—somewhere he stocks all the nasty stuff?"
"Sure he does," Daniel answered. "He has two of them—the sicko. He needs two rooms to store all of his guns and knives and explosives."
"Where are they?" Murdock asked, catching onto Face’s thinking.
"They’re in the East and the West wings of the compound."
Peck nodded. "Thanks, Daniel. You can go to Ho’s now, but please stay cautious and on the alert. We’ll give you one signal and then come in with guns blazing."
"Things could get really rough," Murdock added. "We don’t want anything to happen to you."
"Likewise. Please don’t make me work on you two. I don’t have the energy. Especially you, Murdock." Daniel left the house with his head shaking sadly.
Face turned to Murdock when Daniel left. "Here’s what I’m thinking: we sneak into the compound, grab some weapons, and kick some butt—Ho’s to be specific. Then we grab Hannibal, B. A., and Daniel and hightail it out. Should be easy enough."
"Piece of cake?" Murdock asked, cocking his head.
"Sure, I don’t see why not."
"There goes the plan."
Daniel stepped into the cage to look over Hannibal and B. A. "Uh…hello, Mr. Hannibal. Hi, B. A."
"How are Face and Murdock?" Hannibal asked, pushing himself up painfully. Daniel winced for his patient and rushed to help him.
"Oh, gosh, what has he done to you?" Daniel cried. "Face and Murdock are okay. Murdock needs to be in bed, resting, but they’re coming here to rescue you. They plan to do something with the weapons storerooms and we need to be keeping an eye out for them. We get a warning and then we had better be out of the way or else. They seem confident."
Hannibal grinned widely. "Those’re my boys."
"Yeah, well, they might be your boys, but one of them is being pretty stupid right now," Daniel said with medical anger. "I wish Murdock would stay in bed. He has no idea how sick he is. Is he always this flippant?"
B. A. growled. "Sounds like da’ foo’ to me. Man, when we get out of this I’m gonna break dat crazy man’s legs. Let him leave a bed wit’ two broken legs!"
Hannibal smiled, relief in his voice. "Why, B. A., is that caring I detect?"
"Y’know what?" Murdock asked. "I really think they ought to label these doors. How are we supposed to find the storeroom if we don’t know which door is which?"
"Are you serious?" Face asked.
"Course I am."
Peck opened another door and was surprised to come face to face with a young, Spanish woman, equally surprised. She jumped back in defense. "Who are you?" she demanded in Spanish.
"Hey, Murdock. I gotta problem."
"You speak English?" she asked. "You are Americans? Like Daniel?"
Murdock entered the room. "You know Daniel? Are you," Murdock questioned, looking at the woman’s bulging stomach, "Daniel’s wife?"
"Sí! He is my wife. I mean, I am his husband. I mean-"
Face nodded. "Yes, we understand. I can’t believe we’ve found you. Daniel has been so worried about you. Um, I don’t suppose you know where the armory is, do you? We’re kind of trying to defeat Ho and get everybody free and happy and, uh, weapons would really help."
Mrs. Wallace looked stunned and amazed. "Down the hall, I think. You’re freeing me?"
"Well, I think ya oughta stay here awhile, ma’am. Just until we get everything back to normal. We’ll come get you when it’s safe. Will you be okay?"
"Yes, I think."
Face nodded and he and Murdock left her alone, closing the door to make the hall appear as it was. They ran down the hall and opened doors as fast as they could. "I got it!" Murdock yelled.
"All right," Face muttered. "The one in the West wing should be in this same spot, only to the west. Since you found this one, I trust you can find that one. We’ll meet up at the cage and kick some butt."
Murdock ran to the armory in the West wing and began rummaging for machine guns, grenades, and a knife. As he rummaged, he found himself thinking about Mrs. Wallace. Her room was quite nice. It was surprisingly nice. The door opened without a key. In fact, there was no lock on the door—inside or outside. Murdock stopped rummaging. He stood up very straight. Mrs. Wallace didn’t seem relieved to see them. She seemed nervous. She seemed like…
"She didn’t want us there! Mrs. Wallace wasn’t being held against her will. She’s in cahoots with Ho! I’ve gotta warn Faceyman! Boy, Daniel’s sure gonna be unhappy."
Grabbing the weapons he found, Murdock ran back down the hall towards Face, but the lieutenant was already gone. So was Mrs. Wallace. "We are in trouble!"
"Maria!" Daniel yelled, leaping out of the cage he had been sitting in with B. A. and Hannibal. He ran to her and grabbed her into a hug. He kissed her face and then gently touched her stomach. "How are my two favorite people in the world?"
Ho walked into the compound accompanied by four guards and Face. "Ho!" Daniel yelled joyously, "Thank you for returning my wife! Thank…you. Face? How did…I don’t understand. What’s going on? I thought you…"
"You thought what, Dr. Wallace? You thought that your little friends plans would have succeed? Against me?"
Daniel had pushed Maria behind him. He shrugged his shoulders at Ho’s questions. "That was the idea."
Ho smiled broadly. He shoved Face in front of him and forced the lieutenant down on his knees. "Maria, come and stand by me," he instructed. "I want to see you hold the gun."
"No!" Daniel yelled. "I have her back and she will not do anything against her will again. I will not sacrifice her to you."
Maria pushed her husband aside. "It is not against my will, Daniel. And I am not the one being sacrificed."
Daniel stared at her open-mouthed. "What are you talking about?"
"Are you stupid?" Face seethed from the ground. He ignored Hannibal’s demands that he shut-up. "She’s working with Ho and against us. I figured it out just as Ho and his cronies were walking into the armory. The baby is probably his, too," he muttered.
At Face’s last sentence, Daniel looked to Maria who held her stomach and cocked her head. Face was right; the baby was Ho’s. Daniel gasped and stepped back. "I thought you loved me," he whispered, choking up.
"Love is such a…fickle thing," Ho responded. He turned his attention on Face. "Where is the other one—the sick one? He is around here somewhere, I know. I sent my men to the East wing armory but they found no one."
"Murdock’s too sick to fight. He’s still at Daniel’s house."
Ho laughed. "Do you take me for a fool?"
"Do I have to answer that?"
Ho did not laugh that time. "I will give you until the count of ten, Mr. Murdock, to show yourself. Once I have reached ten I will put a bullet in your friend’s stomach. It will be a long and painful death. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight-"
"Wait!" Murdock yelled, running out of the trees and directly to Ho and Face. He slid onto his knees next to Face. "You okay?" he whispered.
"I’ve been better!"
"Sorry it took me so long, Ho. I was kind of busy."
Ho grabbed the front of Murdock’s shirt and pulled the pilot up to his feet. "And what were you busy with, Captain?"
Murdock struggled under Ho’s hold on his neck. "I can’t…breathe. Let…go of my…neck…please…"
"What were you busy with, Captain?!" Ho yelled.
"This!" Hannibal yelled in return, lobbing a grenade in a direction away from Ho so his men wouldn’t get hurt. When the grenade went off and scared Ho, he released Murdock. Face grabbed Daniel and Murdock grabbed Maria and the four ran to where more weapons were hidden.
"Why did you grab me?" Maria demanded angrily.
"To protect you. The A-team will not throw grenades at, or shoot in the general direction of, women," Murdock replied out of breath from the running. He and Face picked up the machine guns and began firing at Ho and Ho’s men. Face pointed Daniel towards the cage and the two wounded teammates.
While Face and Murdock kept Ho busy, Daniel helped Hannibal and B. A. get out of the cage and to safely into the compound. Moving backwards while firing their guns, Murdock and Face made their way to the rest of the A-team. As soon as they stopped fighting, Maria ran directly to Ho.
"It’s time to haul tail," Hannibal muttered as soon as his entire team was together. "We need to get out of here fast. During one of our…sessions, I overhead Ho discussing a possible escape with Juan. He said that if we get out, he knows it’s over for him and he plans to blow this place sky high. He can’t risk getting caught and tried for war crimes."
"He can’t do that!" Daniel protested. "My wife is in there! I’ve got to save her before she gets killed!" He turned around to go back when Hannibal grasped the young doctor by the shoulder.
"If you go back, you’ll get killed. That’s for certain."
Daniel hesitated. "I must go back for her."
Hannibal sighed. "Then I’m real sorry, kid." And with that, he knocked Daniel unconscious with one swing and ordered Face to throw the doctor’s body over his shoulder.
Face set Daniel down on the outskirts of town. B. A. lay back against a tree, resting himself from a short run made incredibly long by his beaten body. Murdock slumped down next to him, nearly passing out. Hannibal watched the compound burn.
"Hell of a trip that was," he commented. "Remind me never to vacation in Argentina again."
"At least this means that Ho is dead," Face replied, but there wasn’t a lot of joy in his voice. "We’re safe now and we can go back to civilization and get some medical attention."
Daniel began to wake up. He rubbed his eye where Hannibal had hit him. "What happened?" He answered his own question by looking up and seeing smoke rising some 500 yards away. "My wife is dead. You stopped me from saving my wife!"
"I’m sorry for how crass I was with you, Daniel," Face conceded, "but that was not your wife. That was Ho’s lover carrying Ho’s baby. You have to understand that. Hannibal hit you to save your life. Your wife died to you a long time ago."
Daniel didn’t respond. He was naturally sad, but no longer angry at the team. "We have to get you guys to a hospital. You’re in awful shape. Especially you, Murdock. Murdock?"
H. M. had collapsed onto B. A.’s lap. All the conscious members of the team looked at each other and decided it was time to leave.
"How’s my favorite pilot?" Daniel asked as he entered Murdock’s hospital room. "Are you feeling any better?"
Murdock nodded. He had three different IV’s running through him, a heart monitor, an oxygen mask, and an oxygen saturation machine monitoring his blood. "I’m feeling a little on the pincushion side. But Billy’s okay."
Face walked in the room shaking his head. "Don’t ask, Dr. Wallace. You wouldn’t like the answer."
Hannibal and B. A. walked in. Hannibal had a few bandages on and B. A. had both of his arms in slings. "You look silly!" Murdock yelled with a laugh and a wheeze. His laugh died down, though, when a glare from B. A. silenced him.
"At least I’m not the only one without the use of my hands and arms," B. A. snickered, pointing to the restraints on Murdock’s arms.
"Yeah, Daniel, I was meaning to ask you about that. The nurse told me that you had me on an artificial respirator and I had to have my hands tied down and all, but you took me off that yesterday. Why do I still have the restraints?"
Daniel had trouble smothering a grin. "B. A. gave me two options with you since the last time I had you in bed you got out of it and made yourself more sick. Either he was going to break both of your legs or I could tie you down. Would you rather I had chosen the former?"
Hannibal strutted into the middle of the room. "You know guys, I think we have something to celebrate. We all got through this without dying. That’s a plus."
"Oh, yeah, I can’t believe how swell this trip was," Face muttered with a roll of his eyes.
"Yeah, a real piece of cake," Daniel said as he checked Murdock’s IV’s. All eyes turned on him and the four members of the A-team busted out in laughter.
"What?" Daniel demanded. "What did I say? I don’t get it!"
Ho crawled out of the rubble of the compound. Dead bodies were strew about him. He casually moved Maria’s body out of the way with his foot. "I suppose revenge on four people will keep me busy for awhile," he said as he made his way from his former compound to his eventual new one.
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