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This page last viewed: 2017-08-15 and has been viewed 1487 times
Disclaimer: I donít own any of the team, they belong to Steven J Cannell, I make no profits from this story, donít sue me, Iím skint. Starlight is mine, however.
Summary: The A-Team comes to the aid of a young pop singer who is being threatened by a mysterious stalker. The team is glad to see the return of Amy, however the case stirs up some old memories for Hannibal.
The lights dimmed and the background music began to play. The crowd screamed some more as the laser beams shone out over the auditorium. Above the stage, a giant silver star was slowly being lowered down. It started to turn and screams became even louder as it revealed a young girl dressed in a silver catsuit. Her golden blonde hair was swept up in a high ponytail and her blue eyes sparkled with excitement as she surveyed the frenzied crowd. She smiled and raised the microphone to her lips. She took a deep breath and opened her mouth, ready to start singing. Suddenly, one of the cables holding the star snapped and the star started to swing precariously. The audience continued to scream, believing it was part of the stage show. Only the brief flash of panic in the young girlís eyes revealed that this was not a planned action. Making a spur of the moment decision, she grabbed the snapped cable and swung herself down to the safety of the stage. As she landed on the stage floor, the other cables on the star snapped and the star plummeted down towards the singer. It was only her quick reflexes that caused her roll to the side and the star missed her by inches. The crowd fell silent and for a few moments, nobody moved. Then a man wearing a suit and tie walked quickly onto the stage. Two makeup women followed him and ushered the young girl off the stage. Then the man addressed the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen. Following this disturbing incident, the concert will not be going ahead. Starlight management apologises for any inconvenience caused but we do appreciate your co-operation in this. Full refunds will be available from the box office tomorrow morning or by writing to the management. Thank you once again for your co-operation."
He left the stage and the house lights went up. The crowd started to filter out slowly until the auditorium was empty and the stage was in darkness with just the star lying where it had fallen. The whole theatre was silent. Backstage, however, it was far from silent.
"Your security isnít worth a damn, Lennie."
The young blonde was pacing up and down in her dressing room.
"Babe, take it easy."
Lennie Berghard was trying to placate the agitated star. He was in his forties, overweight and had high blood pressure. More than once, he had thought about quitting his job as her manager but he had never had the nerve to confront the girl about his resignation. At his age, he didnít really need this aggravation.
"Starry, listen to me."
"Donít call me Starry. The name is Starlight."
Lennie threw his hands up in mock surrender.
"Okay, Starlight. Listen to me. We had all the security measures in place. We had guards posted at all exits, we checked all the lighting and we had all the wires and electrics double-checked. There wasnít anything else we couldíve done."
Starlight turned to him, her eyes blazing with fury.
"You obviously missed something, you fool. I was almost killed out there."
She grabbed her coat from the chair and flung the door open.
"Where are you going?" sighed Lennie.
"Home," replied Starlight. She looked around for her driver. "Is the limo outside?"
"Yes, miss," said the driver, stepping forward. Starlight smiled at him. She had a soft spot for Huey.
"Home James," she said, grinning at him. She glared at Lennie for a moment as if daring him to overrule her. When he didnít respond, she flounced out of the door, followed by Huey. When she arrived at her house, she dismissed Huey and went up to her bedroom. Scowling at the security guards outside the door, she entered the room and locked the door behind her. She opened her wardrobe and smiled.
"If Lennie canít get me adequate security," she said to herself. "Iíll just have to look after myself."
The black van pulled into the street and came to a stop outside a small grocery shop. The side door opened and Hannibal and Face got out, followed by Tawnia. Hannibal turned back to the van.
"Do you guys want anything while weíre in there?"
Murdock looked up.
"Could you get me some dog biscuits for when Billy wakes up, Colonel?"
BA glared at him.
"You ainít throwing no dog biscuits on the floor of my van, sucker."
"But BA, surely you wouldnít want Billy to starve?"
"For the last time, fool, there ainít no Billy. Hannibal, tell this crazy man."
Hannibal shook his head in despair.
"You want anything, BA?"
"I cominí with ya. Iím not staying here with just a crazy fool and his invisible dog for company."
BA got out from the driverís seat and slammed the door. They went into the grocery store and Murdock settled into the back of the van to read his comic. A bit further down the street, a young boy watched the group enter the store from his hiding place behind the dustbin. He could see that they had left the van door open and from where he was, he could just make out a bottle of water standing on the floor underneath one of the seats. He would be quick enough to grab the bottle and be gone before they came out of the store. He knew that he would be in real trouble if they caught him but the thought of fresh water made him decide to risk it. He had not had a proper drink for two days, only the bits of rainwater that had collected in his tin. Life on the streets was proving to be harder than he had thought. Keeping his eye on the door of the store, he made his way to the van. As he got closer, he spotted a revolver lying next to the bottle. If he could get that as well, it would be an ideal form of self-defence. He checked the door of the store one last time. There was no one about. The boy reached the van and checked the street. Clear. He reached into the van and grabbed the bottle and the revolver.
"Hey muchacho! What are you doiní?"
There was somebody in the van! He should have known they would not have left it open and unattended. He had to make a run for it. The guy with the brown leather jacket was heading straight for him, just as the others came out of the store.
"Colonel, heís got your revolver." Murdock shot past them.
"Tawnia, stay with the van," shouted Hannibal. Face, BA and Hannibal followed Murdock down the street as he chased after the boy. They followed him round the corner into an alley and came to a standstill as they saw the boy was aiming the gun directly at them.
"Donít come any nearer or Iíll shoot you all," the boy said. Hannibal noticed that the boyís voice was quite high pitched, he was obviously only a young lad. Hannibal took a step forward. Face put an arm out to stop him.
"Hannibal, be careful."
The boy swung round and pointed the gun at Face.
"What did you say?"
"Nothing," said Face, smiling nervously.
"Yes, you did. You said his name."
"Oh that," said Face, confused. Murdock and BA looked on, slightly bewildered. "I called him Hannibal."
The boy turned the gun back on Hannibal who was about two steps away from him.
"Donít come any closer or Iíll kill you."
"No you wonít," said Hannibal, taking another step.
"How do you know I wonít pull this trigger right now."
"I donít know that," said Hannibal. "What I do know, however, is that the gun isnít loaded so pulling the trigger wonít do you much good."
The boy pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. He looked at Hannibal, then tried to dart past him but Hannibal was too fast. He grabbed the boys collar and hauled him back.
"I think you have something which belongs to me, sonny."
Hannibal held out his hand and the boy pushed the gun into it.
"Itís only a gun. Whatís so special about that one?"
"Call me sentimental. It holds special memories."
Hannibal tucked the gun into his belt and then frog-marched the boy back to the van. Tawnia was waiting for them. Hannibal turned to the boy and studied him.
"What do you want with a gun anyway?"
"Itís for protection."
"Protection against who?" asked BA.
"Itís so I can protect my sister," said the boy. "Have you heard of the singer Starlight?"
"I have," said Tawnia. "Sheís just completed a sell out tour of the States."
"Well, did you also know that someone is trying to kill her? She thinks that someone has it in for her and is trying to take her out. Sheís had threats and warnings and also blackmail notes."
"Blackmail?" said Face. "How can they blackmail her?"
"They know about her childhood. She was a bit of a wild child in her teens. It started when she heard a family member had died. She had been really close to him. She went a bit mad, stole cars and smashed them up. None of the media know about this because nobody knows her real name. No-one could ever connect Starlight with Caroline Joanne Smith."
"Caroline Joanne Smith?" asked Hannibal.
"Yeah, Caroline after her mother and Joanne after her Uncle John, her motherís brother. Everyone called her Jo-Jo as a kid."
"Jo-Jo doesnít have a brother," said Hannibal, staring at the boy.
"How would you know," retorted the boy. "You havenít seen me since I was ten years old."
Everyone stared at the boy, then looked at Hannibal. He looked absolutely dumbfounded. The boy looked down at the floor. Finally Hannibal spoke.
"Jo-Jo, itís really you, isnít it?"
The boy looked up at him then pulled his cap off to reveal a mass of long blonde curls which down his back.
"Yeah, itís me, Uncle John."
Hannibal looked at her then threw his arms round her. The rest of the team looked on, not knowing what to say. When they looked at Hannibal, he had tears in his eyes. It was the first time they had ever seen him show his emotions. When he spoke, his voice was broken and unsteady.
"How is Carrie, your mother?"
Starlight wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and smiled at him.
"Sheís fine. Sheís living in Montana with Uncle Terry and Aunt Julie."
"Your dadís sister? What happened to your dad?"
"He passed away three years ago. He had a car accident three days after my twenty first birthday."
Starlight looked down at the floor, her emotions crushing her for a moment, and then she looked up at Hannibal, her eyes shining.
"Wait until Mom hears about you. Sheíll be thrilled. We thought you were dead. Werenít you arrested for robbing some bank during the war?"
"Yes, which is precisely why you canít tell Carrie Iím alive," said Hannibal. "If anyone finds out that you two are related to me, the Military Police will be all over you."
"But she thinks youíre dead. She thinks you got shot by a firing squad."
"Jo-Jo," warned Hannibal. "Donít tell her."
"Okay," sighed Starlight. "Besides, Iíve got enough trouble of my own at the moment."
"Tell us more about these threats." Hannibal pulled the door of the van closed and BA drove off. "We need to drop Murdock off at the VA hospital so you can tell us on the way."
"Theyíre more than threats, Uncle John. Only two nights ago, on the last night of the tour, I was nearly killed when part of the stage setting nearly fell on me."
"And that makes you think someone is out to get you, does it?" asked Tawnia.
"Itís not just that. The whole tour has been jinxed. The first concert, I was nearly electrocuted by a faulty microphone. Iíve also had bullets miss me by inches one night. I tell you, someone is trying to kill me and Iím scared."
"So you ran away from your security staff so anyone could get at you?" Tawnia shook her head.
"Look, I know this sounds crazy but the security people couldnít stop this maniac so Iím better off on my own. This disguise even fooled my manager when I walked past him, so what chance does the stalker have?"
"If you are so desperate to hide from this nutcase, why did you tell your story to a group of complete strangers? You didnít know he was your uncle straightaway, did you?"
Starlight glared at Tawnia. Then she looked at Hannibal.
"Back at the alley, I heard you speak." She looked at Face. "Then you called him Hannibal and I knew then it was my Uncle John."
BA brought the van to a standstill outside the VA hospital. Murdock got out and motioned to his dog, Billy to follow.
"Before Murdock goes, I think we should vote on this case," said Face, earning himself a glare from BA.
"Weíre taking the case, Faceman."
"Iím sorry Hannibal, but I just donít buy it," said Tawnia. "It sounds too staged for me.
Starlight looked at her.
"Why wonít anyone believe me?" she cried. "Maybe I am better off on my own."
"Like I said, Iím sorry but count me out."
Starlight burst into tears and shot out of the van. Hannibal got up to go after her but Murdock was faster. Hannibal looked at Tawnia.
"If you want out of this case, then thatís your decision but we are taking this case. I canít make you help us but donít ever call my niece a liar again."
Tawnia picked up her purse and got out of the van.
"Iíll be at the paper if you ever need my services again."
She slammed the door shut behind her.
Meanwhile, Murdock had caught up with Starlight just further down the road.
"Hey sweetheart, donít take on so." Murdock took a clean hanky out of his pocket and wiped her tears away. "Youíll spoil your pretty face."
"How can I get someone to help me if no-one will believe me?"
"Hannibal believes you."
Starlight smiled at him.
"Well, BA believes you. I can tell, you know. I believe you and also Billy believes you."
"Oh, heís your dog, is he?" Starlight pulled a compact mirror from her jeans pocket. She looked at her reflection and pulled a face. "I look a state. I need to freshen up."
"Listen," said Murdock. "The VA hospital is just here. Use my room to freshen up."
"Thanks," smiled Starlight. "Come on, Billy." She motioned to the Ďdogí.
"You know," said Murdock, taking her by the arm. "I think thereís something wrong with BAís eyesight. He canít see Billy."
"If that girl is not found by tonight, Iím out of a job and so are all of you."
Lennie was pacing up and down his office. Standing in front of him, Huey and the two security guards, Steve and Russell shuffled their feet nervously. Kim and Michelle, the wardrobe and make up girls, glanced at each other.
"But boss, the papers are going crazy. You canít buy this kind of publicity."
Deborah, Lennieís personal assistant, was trying to calm him down. However, it had the opposite effect.
"I donít want this kind of publicity. I want my star back here where I can keep my eye on her."
"Well, here I am," said Starlight, walking into his office. "So you can stop worrying."
"Where the hell have you been for the past two days?"
Lennieís blood pressure was in danger of going through the roof.
"Here and there. Lennie, Iíd like you to meet some people."
Starlight opened the door and Hannibal walked in.
"I thought that seeing as your security force isnít up to scratch, then Iíd hire my own."
"What do you mean, not up to scratch? They are the best there is."
"Lennie, I got away from them with no problems whatsoever. I even fooled you with my disguise."
"Do you not remember the young boy who asked you if you could get Starlightís autograph for him?"
"That was you?"
"Yup! So Iíd like you to meet Hannibal Smith, my new bodyguard."
Murdock and BA stepped into the room.
"And this is my new driver, Murdock and my new technical advisor BA Baracus."
Lennie eyed them all suspiciously.
"Starlight, we donít know anything about these guys. They could be working for whoever is trying to hurt you."
"Trust me, Lennie honey, they arenít. Besides, itís all settled. Iíve hired them."
Lennie shifted uncomfortably.
"Right, Iím off to rehearsals and to show these guys around."
Starlight walked out of the office and down the hall. She rounded the corner and went down the stairs towards her dressing room. When she reached the door, she stopped and looked at Hannibal.
"Do you think he believed us?"
"Not for a second," replied Hannibal. "But donít worry about it. Let us do the sniffing around. You concentrate on your career and tonightís performance." He turned to go, then stopped and turned back, a puzzled look on his face. "By the way, whereís Face?"
"Ah, yes, well. I thought he didnít have quite the right look to be a bodyguard."
"He was a soldier in Vietnam and heís my second in command. What more experience do you need to be a bodyguard?"
"I know heís qualified for the job. I said he just didnít look right. Iíve found a much better use for his particular talent."
"Which is?" asked Hannibal, lighting his cigar.
"Heís my escort," said Starlight and went to turn into her dressing room but Hannibal caught her by the arm.
"Listen kid. He may be my second in command and a valued member of the team but he is also a serial charmer."
"Donít get attached to him. Itíll end in tears."
"Come on, Uncle John. He just has the right look. Can you seriously expect me to turn up to public functions with you as my date?"
BA and Murdock smothered a grin. Hannibal just shrugged.
"Point taken. But Iím just warning you."
"Consider me warned."
Starlight closed the door of her dressing room and Hannibal turned to BA and Murdock who were still trying not to laugh. Hannibal looked at them, surprised.
Murdock and BA collapsed into laughter.
"Hannibal, this has to be an inside job," said Face, smoothing down his dinner jacket. "Weíve been guarding Starlight for two days and nothing has happened."
"Iím inclined to agree." Hannibal checked his gun and slipped it under his belt, behind his jacket.
"I donít trust that Lennie dude," said BA. "Heís always too uncomfortable round us."
"I know," said Hannibal. "BA, did you check the wiring for this concert tonight?"
"Yeah, man. Nothing can possibly go wrong with it. Iíll be by the control panel all night."
"Right. Murdock, you drive Face and Jo-Jo to the gig. Radio me if anyone tails you. Iíll be in the wings on the right. Face, once Jo-Jo is on stage, you cover the left wing. No-one is getting near her tonight."
The white limousine pulled up outside the theatre and camera bulbs popped as Starlight and Face got out.
"All clear, Colonel," said Murdock into the radio.
"Stay with the car, Murdock. Weíll call you if we need you."
Hannibal gave a thumbs up to BA who was behind the stage, checking the lighting for one last time. He signalled back to confirm everything was fine. Outside the theatre, Starlight was posing for the cameras.
"Will you hurry this along?" said Face, glancing around. "You canít afford to be out in the open like this."
"Okay, okay. Iím coming." Starlight twirled for the cameras once more and Face scanned the crowd. A small movement further back in the crowd caught his eye. It looked like someone was trying to get closer.
"Come on, kid. Move it. Now!"
Face ushered her inside. Starlight looked at him in alarm.
"Did you see somebody out there?" she asked, her voice trembling.
"Not really. Hannibal, possibly someone out there. Keep an eye out."
"Okay, Lieutenant. Letís get this show over and done with."
Hannibalís voice came through the radio that was pinned to the inside of Faceís dinner jacket.
"Thanks, Face," said Starlight. "I donít know what Iíd have done without you guys to look after me."
"You donít have a boyfriend or husband to look after you?" Face smiled at her.
Hannibalís voice came over the radio again with a warning tone.
"Just checking," muttered Face and he escorted Starlight to the stage. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "Good luck, darliní."
Over on the other side of the stage, Hannibal glared at him. Face took up his position on the left side of the stage. Starlight walked onto the stage, behind the curtain and got ready. The announcerís voice came booming out over the auditorium.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the Meridian Theatre is proud to present, for one night only, the wonderful Starlight."
The curtains pulled back and Starlight turned and faced the crowd. The bright laser beams shone out and highlighted her. She was wearing a long, sleeveless dress, white in colour and a long slit up the right side. Wrapped around her shoulders was a white feather boa and on her head, a diamond tiara sparkled as the light caught it. At the front of the stage, fireworks exploded and crackled. Suddenly one of the fireworks near the edge of the stage went shot upwards and hit the curtain rail above Starlightís head. The curtain burst into flames and came crashing down towards the stage. BA shot forward from behind the scenery and pulled Starlight backward to safety just as the curtain fireball hit the spot she had been standing in. Hannibal and Face rushed over to BA and Starlight.
"Are you both OK?" asked Hannibal.
BA just grunted and stood up, dusting himself off. BA never made a fuss but Hannibal had learned to tell when BA was really okay or if he had been hurt. This time, he was lucky. BA was unharmed. He looked at Starlight, who was being helped up by Face. "How about you, sweetheart?"
"Yeah, Iím fine. Thanks to BA." Starlight started to shake. "I canít go on like this much longer. Who is doing this to me?"
Face looked at BA.
"What happened with the fireworks?"
"I laid them myself and they were checked several times. I last checked them before we went to get Starlight from he hotel."
"Who has clearance to come back here?" Hannibal asked Starlight.
"Well, me obviously and you all you guys. Thatís it. Oh and Lennie, of course."
"Lennie," said Hannibal. "I think itís time we had a word with your manager."
"Lennie wouldnít hurt me," said Starlight. "Look, Uncle John, I just want to go home. Iíve had enough for one night."
"All right. Face, you and Murdock take Jo-Jo home and stay with her. BA and I will tackle Lennie."
"Okay," said Face. "But, be careful, Hannibal."
"Weíll see you back at the mansion later."
"Why am I being targeted like this, Face?" asked Starlight, coming out of her dressing room. She had changed from her stage outfit into a pair of pink shorts and white crop top. Face looked at her, and then he remembered that he still had his radio switched on.
"I donít understand it either, kid but weíll look after you."
Starlight smiled gratefully. They walked out of the theatre and towards the limousine where Murdock was waiting for them. As Murdock opened the car door, a man stepped out from the side alley next to the back door of the theatre and Face felt the barrel of a gun in his back. The man turned him round and motioned to them all to stay silent. Two more men with guns stepped out and the first man frisked Face and Murdock and found their transmitters. He dropped them both down a grid and then he motioned to them all to get inside the limousine.
"You drive," he said to Murdock. "Danny will give you directions."
Murdock got into the driverís seat and while the men were putting on their seatbelts, he flicked a switch under the dashboard. As he drove off, Face turned to the first man.
"Listen, I donít know who you are but Iím sure youíve got the wrong people. Iím just taking my girlfriend out for a meal."
"Quiet," snapped the man. "Weíve got the right people." He looked at Starlight who was clinging on to Faceís arm. "Arenít you going to say hello, Caroline?"
She snapped her head up and for the first time took a good look at her captor.
"Oh my god, Scott?" she cried in disbelief. "Itís you who has been doing this all along?"
"I did warn you Iíd get even with you."
"Scott, that was three years ago. You never used to be so evil."
"I never used to be blown out for a career either!"
Face looked at him in amazement.
"Youíre trying to kill her because she dumped you? You are incredible. Iíve heard of bitter ex-boyfriends before, caused a few maybe, but you are something else."
"Shut up, pretty boy or Iíll spoil those good looks of yours."
Face did as he was told. The car pulled up outside a disused warehouse. They all got out and Scott pushed them inside the building.
They all sat down on the floor and Danny tied their hands behind their backs and bound their feet together. Scott watched them, never moving the gun away from them. When he was satisfied that they could not escape, he put the gun back in his pocket and squatted down next to Starlight.
"Now that I have you here, Iím going to take care of that idiotic Lennie. He screwed up once too often for my liking and heís going to pay for it. You can stay here for a while and Mickey over there is going to keep you company."
The man called Mickey walked over and sat down in a chair opposite them and trained his gun on them. Scott stood up and walked over to the door where Danny was waiting for them. The two men left and Mickey sat watching them. After a while, he fell asleep.
"Murdock," whispered Face. "Murdock!"
"If I shuffle over to you, do you think you could untie me?"
"Not a chance, Faceman. What if the gorilla wakes up and sees that weíve changed positions?"
"You have a point there. Starlight, can you reach it without moving?"
"Not without giving the game away and seeing as we are stuck here for a while, you both might as well call me Jo-Jo. Everyone else does."
"Okay, Jo-Jo," said Face, grinning at her.
"Faceman, donít start. Remember what Hannibal told you."
"But he isnít here, is he?" said Face.
"I donít know what you mean," said Lennie. He was having a lot of trouble breathing. Most people have a lot of trouble breathing with BA pinning them to a wall by the throat. Hannibal walked up to him slowly, keeping his revolver pointing at Lennie.
"Iím going to ask you one more time. Who moved the firework display on the stage?"
Lennie shook his head, indicating that he didnít know. There was a sharp knock on the door.
"Who is it?" shouted Hannibal.
"Press," said a female voice on the other side of the door. "Iím here to interview Starlight.
"BA. Get rid of them."
"Sure, man." BA strode over to the door and opened it.
"Look, lady. Starlight ainít available right now but if youÖ"
"Amy! Hannibal, itís Amy."
BA opened the door and ushered Amy inside. Hannibal embraced her quickly.
"Good to see you again, kid but weíre in a bit of trouble at the moment."
Hannibal brought Amy up to date with recent events.
"Wow! Your niece? I had no idea. Was that why Face was with her outside? I tried to get his attention but he shot inside with her."
"We had to. He thought you were a hitman. He had to get her out of the way. He didnít see your face."
Lennie was edging towards the door slowly. Hannibal grabbed his collar and stopped him going any further.
"Okay, BA. Iím gonna take this guy out back and feed him to the alley cats."
Hannibal got hold of Lennie by his collar and dragged him towards the door.
"No wait, Iíll tell you everything," screamed Lennie.
Hannibal hauled him back into the room and pushed him down into a chair.
"It was me who moved the firework display."
"I was under orders."
"Whose orders were theyÖ?" Hannibal started to speak, then stopped as he heard voices coming over the radio.
"I canít tell you," said Lennie.
"Be quiet," said Hannibal and turned the volume on the radio up.
"I donít understand why Scott wanted me dead though."
Starlightís voice came over the radio and Hannibal looked at BA, a puzzled expression on his face.
"Scott? Who is Scott?"
"Scott was Starlightís boyfriend for three years just before I signed her up for a record deal."
"And itís this Scott who is trying to kill her?"
"Why and how did he find out about her former life?"
"Heís known her since they were kids. He lived next door to them."
"Scott Riley?" Hannibal looked stunned.
"Yes. How did you know?" asked Lennie but Hannibal was already on his way out of the door with BA and Amy.
"I hope they managed to switch on the tailing device in the car," said BA, leaping into the van.
"Thatís if they are still in the car," said Hannibal, jumping into the passenger seat. Amy jumped in the back. Hannibal opened the glove box and took out a small transmitter receiver. The red light was blinking furiously.
"They have moved from here but the car isnít moving now."
"Which means we can tail them," said BA, starting the van. The engine roared into life and sped off down the road. The light on the transmitter blinked faster as they got closer.
"Seeing as we are about to face certain death here and Hannibal wonít be able to kill meÖ"
Face leant over towards Starlight and kissed her full on the mouth. Murdock rolled his eyes, now used to Faceís one woman a minute routine. Suddenly, there was a loud knock at the door and they all jumped. Mickey woke up with a snort and glared at the three captives.
"This had better not be one of your tricks or Iíll kill you all myself."
He stomped over to the door and opened it wide. The first thing he saw was a large black fist with several gold rings come straight towards him as BA knocked him out. Hannibal raced into the warehouse. He quickly untied them and then grabbed hold of Faceís shirtfront.
"I warned you about hitting on my niece. Sheís a good kid."
"I know, I know," said Face. "Iím sorry, Hannibal." He looked puzzled. "How did you know? Those hoods took our transmitters off us."
"Yes," said Hannibal, releasing his grip on Face. Face smoothed his shirt down. "But they didnít take Jo-Joís transmitter."
"What?" said Starlight. "I donít have a transmitter."
"Check your locket."
Starlight opened her locket, which was round her neck. She found a small electronic transmitting device.
"BA planted it while you were in the shower," explained Hannibal. Starlight looked at BA in panic.
"Whereís the picture that was in here?" she asked.
BA reached into his pocket and carefully removed a small picture. He handed it to Starlight. She quickly replaced the picture before anyone could see it but Hannibal knew what the picture was. He remembered posing for it six days before he shipped out to Vietnam for the last time. He had called round to see Jo-Jo before he left and they had been to the cinema to see the latest James Bond movie. When they returned home, Hannibal had changed into his uniform and Jo-Jo had taken his photograph. She had joked that it was in case he never returned. He wondered if she regretted those words as much as he did. He looked at Starlight who was fastening the locket. As she looked up, he caught her eye and for a moment, he could almost see her thoughts as she remembered that day also. In an attempt to lighten the atmosphere, he smiled and said,
"Seen any Bond movies lately, Moneypenny?"
To his horror, she burst into tears. He raced over to her and held her as she sobbed.
"Whatís the matter, sweetheart?"
"I havenít seen any since you last took me. I didnít want to see it without you. I couldnít have sat in the cinema without you, muttering "Itís nothing like that in real life" under your breath every time a gadget saved Bond."
Hannibal grinned at her and she smiled back. Hannibal hugged her.
"I still say that itís nothing like real life."
Starlight laughed and wiped her eyes. Hannibal looked at the others.
"Letís get out of here before Scott shows up."
""Too late." Scott stood in the doorway. "Nice to see you again, Colonel Smith."
Hannibal pulled his revolver out of his belt and pointed it at Scott.
"I wish I could say the same, Riley. Now, we are leaving and donít try and stop us or Iíll put a hole in you."
"I donít think so, Colonel."
He motioned to his left and Danny stepped into view, his gun pointing at Amy, who he held captive.
"Drop your gun, Colonel."
Hannibal dropped the revolver at his feet and kicked it away. Scott beckoned him over.
"Iíve discovered that the best way to get at Caroline, will be to get you first."
Scott punched Hannibal and sent him flying to the ground.
"No," cried Starlight, starting to run forward. Face grabbed hold of her arm and restrained her. Scott walked over to Hannibal who was starting to get up off the floor, rubbing his jaw where Scott had hit him. Scott pushed him back down with his foot.
"However," he said, continuing. "I have a few loose ends I need to tie up first so I am going to leave you all here but I have a feeling you might try to escape."
Hannibal smiled at him and picked himself up off the floor.
"Would you expect anything less?"
"No, which is why Iíve installed a foolproof device."
Hannibal continued to smile at him.
"Iím taking your little friend here with me," said Scott, pointing at Amy. "There is a small electronic device somewhere in this building. If activated by a door or window opening, it will send a signal to me. If I get that signal, she dies."
Starlight ran forward but Hannibal held her back.
"Itís me you want, Scott. Leave the others out of it."
"Your time will come, sweet Caroline," said Scott and gave her a cruel smile. "I want you to suffer first."
He turned and left the building. Mickey stumbled to his feet and followed him. Danny dragged Amy after him and the warehouse door slammed behind them. They heard car doors slam and the engines started up. After a few minutes, the noise of the engines faded and Hannibal picked up his gun.
"I donít get it, Colonel," said Murdock. "Why has he left us here?"
"Because he knows we canít escape," said Starlight, sitting down on the floor.
Murdock and Hannibal exchanged a grin and Murdock grabbed Face and pulled him to one side. Hannibal walked over to BA and they were deep in conversation for a while. Starlight continued to sit on the floor, her head in her hands. Hannibal walked over to her and sat down next to her.
"Why has Scott got it in for you?"
"After you went off to war, I threw myself into my schoolwork. I felt that I could cope with the fact you were away as long as I had something else to think about."
Starlight looked at him.
"Uncle John, you were the only member of the family who really paid attention to me. She never told you about this but Mum and Dad were always fighting."
"I knew," said Hannibal, softly. "They werenít that good actors. I could always pick up on the tension in the house when I called round. Thatís why I made such a fuss of you."
"When the war ended and you didnít come home, we didnít know what to think. We guessed you were dead but nothing official ever came. It wasnít until I was sixteen that we got news about the Bank of Hanoi robbery and that you were involved but we heard that you had been caught and were facing thirty years in prison."
"Jo-Jo, please donít drag this up again."
Hannibal moved to get up but Starlight pulled him back down again. BA, Murdock and Face shuffled about at the rear of the warehouse dragging pieces of metal and plastic around.
"Listen, Uncle John. I want to tell you this. It might be the only time I get. You told me not to get attached to Face because it would end in tears. You and I are no different."
"Well, maybe one vital difference, I hope," said Hannibal, smiling at her but Starlight did not smile back.
"Iím serious. In a way, you and I are worse off. Face, I could get over losing but you. I lost you once and you came back. Now, Iíve got to lose you all over again."
"Not necessarily," said Hannibal. "Now, you were telling me about Scott."
Starlight looked at him but continued with her story.
"Well, like I said, when I was sixteen, we heard you were dead. Mum retreated into a shell and Dad left home."
"You said he was dead."
"He is. He came home when Lennie signed me up for a contract. Mum seemed to come out of her shell when I started to sing. We could reach her again. Dad came round more and more and something seemed to click back into place, something that I hadnít seen since I was a youngster."
"Where does Scott come into this?"
"Three years before Lennie discovered me, I fell in with a rough crowd. You had gone and Iíd left school. I needed a distraction."
"Scott was a distraction."
"No, cigarettes, vodka and cocaine were a distraction. Scott was my salvation."
Hannibal paled at the word Ďcocaineí.
"Uncle John, Iím not proud of what I was. I was a mess. Scott found me throwing up outside the house at six-o clock one morning. He knew Iíd got involved with some really dodgy blokes and he offered me help. He stood by me while I weaned myself off cocaine. I couldnít pack up the fags and alcohol though."
"Who can?" muttered Hannibal.
"Anyway, Scott looked after me. I was with him for three years. He used to take me out all the time. We used to hang out at a place called Apolloís most nights. They used to run a talent competition every week. Scott kept nagging at me to enter and in the end, I did. I sang ĎWe Have All The Time In The Worldí."
"Bond," smiled Hannibal.
"I never forgot you," said Starlight. "Scott kept offering to take me to see the latest Bond movie but, like I said, I couldnít face going without you. He bought me all the videos instead but they are all still in their original wrappers. It didnít stop me singing all the theme tunes though. It only seemed right that I should sing one for the talent show."
"Iíll bet you won," said Hannibal, taking a cigar out of his pocket. "Want one?"
He offered a cigar to Starlight, who wrinkled her nose in disgust.
"Are you kidding," she said, taking a packet of cigarettes out of her own pocket. "I always hated the smell of those things."
"I know," said Hannibal, grinning. He lit Starlightís cigarette and then his own cigar. "Remember the time you flushed them down the toilet?"
"I thought if I got rid of them, you couldnít smoke them anymore. It never occurred to me at five years old that you would go out and buy some more." She stopped, suddenly. "You never shouted at me though."
"What was the point?"
"I didnít win the talent show," said Starlight, rapidly changing the subject. All the pre-war memories flooding back to her were suddenly too much for her. "However, Lennie was in the bar that night and he offered me a contract on the spot."
"Scott didnít like it?"
"It meant I had to move away. I lived in Miami for three years. Iíve only been back in LA for a few months. That was when all the threats started. He told me on the night I left for Miami that he would get even with me for ditching him. I never dreamed he meant he would try to kill me."
"He hasnít done so far. Heís playing games with us. He has no intention of killing Amy but just to be on the safe side, we are going to escape without setting off the signal."
"And just how are we going to do that?" asked Face, coming towards them. "BAís almost finished with the truck."
"Truck?" asked Starlight, looking round the warehouse. She had not spotted any truck when they came into the warehouse. Then she saw it. It had been hidden at the back under several tons of scrap metal and plastic sheeting, although now it didnít look like a normal truck. While she and Hannibal had been talking, the others had assembled the scrap metal and plastic over it and it now resembled a battering ram or an armoured tank.
"If we bust out of here in this truck," said Face "itís going to set the signal off. Hannibal, we canít risk him killing Amy."
"Iíve told you, we wonít activate the signal. Weíre going out an alternative way."
Face looked at him, an inquisitive look on his face.
"Or, more to the point, you and Murdock are going out an alternative way."
"But Hannibal," Face started to protest.
"You and Murdock are going down the sewers."
Face looked at Hannibal as though the Colonel had lost his mind.
"Did I hear you right? Through the sewers?"
"Exactly. You can get directly into Rileyís headquarters without opening a door or window and youíll take them completely by surprise."
"But Hannibal," whined Face. "Iíve just had this suit dry cleaned and what if theyíre expecting us to make a move like this. You said heís playing games with us. Heís obviously expecting us to escape from here."
Hannibal just continued to grin at Face, knowing fully well that Face would obey his orders in a moment. He knew Face too well. He would let him have his moan for a while.
"Hannibal, why canít you and BA go and get Amy out? It doesnít have to be me and Murdock, does it? I could be the driver."
A growl from behind him made him jump.
"Iím the driver, sucker!"
"Okay, BA. I was just saying."
"I gave an order, Lieutenant."
"Iím going, Iím going. Come on, Murdock."
Face lifted the cover on the entrance to the sewers. Murdock leapt down and Face followed him, complaining all the way.
"What happens now?" asked Starlight.
"We wait," replied Hannibal. "Get into the truck and stay down. BA, wait until I give the signal."
"Will this work," Starlight asked BA as they went across to the truck.
"Who knows," said BA. "But thereís no reasoning with Hannibal when heís on the jazz."
"Yeah, the jazz."
Starlight smiled. She was getting used to this big man who always wore a frown. She knew he was her friend.
"Helping me. I know I was kinda forced onto you all, but Uncle John has always had a mind of his own."
"Listen, mama. If youíre part of Hannibalís family, then youíre part of mine too. That goes for Faceman and that crazy fool Murdock. Weíre all one big family now."
"I know," said Starlight, sadly. "Youíre the only family heís got now."
"This has to be the most disgusting job Iíve ever done," grumbled Face as he and Murdock crawled through the underground pipes and tunnels towards Scottís house.
"Is this gonna work, Faceman?" asked Murdock.
"Who knows," said Face. "Hannibalís on the jazz again. Iím sure he sent me down here just to get back at me for kissing his niece."
"Probably," said Murdock. "But donít forget that Amy is in real danger up there, muchacho."
"I know. Weíll get her out."
"How are we going to do this, Face? Weíve no weapons or anything."
"Hannibal said we had to take them by surprise. I just hope that they donít start firing weapons when they get surprised."
"Wait!" said Murdock, stopping. "Listen, I can hear voices."
"Iím sure you can," muttered Face. "You can also see dogs that arenít there."
"Iím serious," said Murdock, looking hurt. "We must be right underneath Rileyís lair."
"Iím sorry, Murdock. I didnít mean to shout at you."
"Shut up, Face. Iím tryiní to listen."
Face stopped talking. Murdock was listening.
"Amyís in there," he whispered to Face. "It sounds as though the others are leaving."
He grabbed hold of Face, excitedly.
"They are leaving and Amy is being left on her own."
"Calm down, Murdock. It might be a trap."
"We have to try it, Face. We might not get another chance."
Murdock felt his way along the tunnel until he found a trapdoor. Carefully, he lifted it up a fraction and he peeked through. He could see Amy sitting on a chair, her arms tied behind her back. She looked very pale and very scared. He looked around the room but couldnít see any guards. He quietly lowered the hatch down and turned to Face.
"Sheís there and sheís alone. Letís go."
Murdock lifted up the hatch again and jumped up into the room. Amy jumped in surprise as Murdock came into the room. He quickly untied her and he led her over to the hatch where Face was waiting for them.
"How did you find me?" asked Amy, as she scrambled down the hatch. Face helped her down.
"We followed the transmitting device Hannibal attached to your bracelet."
"I didnít even know heíd done it," said Amy in amazement. "He must have done it in the truck on the way to the warehouse."
Murdock jumped down the hatchway and slammed the hatch door shut. The three of them raced along the tunnels until they reached the warehouse. They climbed back in and Hannibal looked round from his watch point by the window.
"Nice work guys. Get in the truck and get ready to move out."
"Canít we just go now, Hannibal," said Face. "It doesnít matter if we set the signal off now we have Amy back."
"Not without seeing the look on Rileyís face when we bust out of here."
"Heís on the jazz, Faceman," said BA, shaking his head.
Hannibal turned and grinned at him. At that moment, the door was flung open and Scott, Danny and Mickey raced in firing one shot after the other. Hannibal dived behind a pile of metal and started firing back.
"Get out of here, BA," he shouted. "Iíll follow on later."
Suddenly, a stray bullet caught Hannibal just below his left shoulder and he slumped to the floor. Before anyone could stop her, Starlight raced over to him and picked up his gun. She fired twice in rapid succession and hit both Mickey and Danny. Scott grinned viciously at her and raised his gun to shoot. Starlight just looked at him and waited for the shot to finally end the months of agony and fear. Just at that moment, BA roared past them in the truck and it caught Scott by surprise. He moved just in time and the truck crashed through the wall. A small device in Scottís hand started to blink rapidly and he laughed.
"Well done, Colonel Smith. Your men have set the transmitter off."
Hannibal was struggling to sit up.
"We have Amy so it makes no difference," he gasped, struggling to catch his breath.
"Do you think Iíd be that stupid? I knew youíd rescue the girl so this device doesnít mean Iíll kill her. It has just started the countdown for a rather large bomb and in exactly two minutes, this whole warehouse will go up in a large explosion. Goodnight, Colonel Smith and goodbye to you too, sweet Caroline."
Scott turned and left the building but he came face to face with BA who punched him. He fell to the floor, unconscious. Face raced into the building and picked up Starlight.
"I canít leave Uncle John," she cried as Face rushed out with her. He placed her in the truck where Murdock held onto her.
"Iím going back for him," cried Face. "I want you to wait right here and donít move. Iíll get him."
"You havenít got time now," sobbed Starlight. "The building will go up in a matter of seconds."
"Iíll get him," said Face and turned to go back into the building. Just then, there was a huge explosion and the whole warehouse exploded, causing Face to fall back with the impact.
"NOOO!" cried Starlight, wrestling out of Murdockís grasp. She raced towards the flaming building but BA caught her.
"Donít do it, mama. You canít get him."
She looked up at BA. It shocked her to see the big man with tears in his eyes.
"Heís gone," he said, softly.
Starlight threw herself against BAís chest and sobbed. Murdock ran over to where Face was still lying on the ground. Murdock rolled him over. Face opened his eyes and looked at Murdock, questioningly. Murdock shook his head and Face howled. Murdock held onto him as all the years of hurt and pain finally came out. They had lost their leader, their Colonel and their saviour. Then, Face sat up and wiped his eyes.
"Letís get out of here," he said, standing up and brushing the dust from his trousers.
Starlight turned and looked at him, fury blazing in her eyes.
"You canít just leave him here," she said.
"We wonít be able to find his body in there, honey," explained Face, touching her arm. She yanked it away.
"I canít believe that you would just leave him there to rot."
"We have to get you back for your last show tonight."
"I canít do a show tonight," said Starlight in amazement. "Not after all this has happened."
"Youíd better get on that stage tonight," said a voice from behind them. They all turned to see Hannibal stood clutching the wound in his chest. Starlight gave a squeal of delight and threw herself at him. He winced at the pain her contact caused him but he didnít mind. He was so glad to see her and to be alive.
"Hannibal, how in the hell did you survive that explosion?" asked Face.
"I wasnít in the building when the explosion happened," said Hannibal. "I crawled out about three seconds before the building went up."
Face shook his head in disbelief and Murdock grinned at BA. Their Ďjazzed upí leader had done it again.
"Come on, letís get Jo-Jo back to do this concert. I love it when a plan comes together."
"Do you really have to go now?" asked Starlight. "I wanted you to see me perform."
"Weíd love to but unfortunately, Lynch and the MPís are on their way."
Hannibal hugged her tightly.
"I promise Iíll be back as soon as I can."
"I know you will," said Starlight, tears springing to her eyes. She pulled away from Hannibal and looked at him.
"I love you, Uncle John."
"I love you too, Moneypenny," said Hannibal, ruffling her hair. She blushed and turned to the others.
"Look after Uncle John for me, BA."
"You got it, mama."
She grinned and kissed him on the cheek. BA looked embarrassed and jumped into the van. Starlight laughed and turned to Murdock, giving him a big hug.
"Teach Billy some new tricks to show me next time I see you."
Murdock smiled and followed BA into the van. Starlight turned to Face. He looked at Hannibal, who nodded at him.
"Iím gonna miss you, Face," she said to him.
He pulled her close to him and gave her a passionate kiss. Hannibal fidgeted uncomfortably but Amy put her hand on his arm.
"Leave them be," she said. Hannibal smiled at her.
"I canít help it," he said. "Something inside me wants to drag him off her but something else tells me itís okay."
"Listen to the something else for once," said Amy.
Face pulled away from Starlight.
"If things were different," he said but Starlight shushed him.
"At least weíll always have this moment to remember," she said and turned away from him so she would not see him walk away from her.
"Go on, kid," said Hannibal. "Your audience awaits you."
"Canít you at least watch the show," said Starlight, pleadingly.
"Okay, you win."
"Promise me youíll be here when I come off stage."
"I promise," said Hannibal.
The others whooped with joy and jumped back out of the van. They raced into the auditorium and sat down at the back. Starlight ran round to her dressing room and got ready. The show started up and Starlight was back, performing at her very best. It came to the last number. Hannibal signalled to the others and they got up and edged their way over to the exit. Hannibal stopped and looked back at the stage one last time. Starlight caught his eye and smiled, then she started to sing.
"Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you."
Hannibal shook his head sadly and left the building.
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