by Murdock's Doc
Warnings: Anguish, Injuries, Pain, Explosion, Death of non-main characters, and of course Foul Language.
Summary: A Christmas Tale in response to Black Fire's challenge. In order to get home to his sick mother, BA wants to fly home and the team goes with him for support. As the plane carrying the team crosses the Rockies, a freak accident in the middle of a storm leaves the team in need of a miracle in order to survive.
Comments: They would be appreciated
Disclaimer: The A-Team is the property of Stephen J. Cannell and my writing is not to make money or to obtain fame. I write to show my appreciation of a show that is in my opinion, one of the classics in time.
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"Ah gotta fly home!" BA growled. Three jaws dropped in surprise.
The Colonel was the first to recover from the shock, after all he had been the one that had taken the call the call from BA's mother's friend and neighbor. "Mrs. Hiller said it wasn't anything serious BA."
"Mamma's not feelin good. She needs me. Ah'm goin" BA grumbled, "An ah can't wait three day's it gonna take to drive. Ah'm flyin"
"You sure BA?" Murdock asked hesitantly, knowing his friends aversion to flying.
"Mamma needs me." BA said softer as the concern for his mother overwhelmed him.
Nodding, Hannibal turned to the teams supply officer and said, "You heard him. Face we'll need you to scam a plane. Murdock..."
"No!" BA interjected with force, "Jus get me a ticket. Ah don't want mamma wondering who dun without to get me there."
For a moment Face was hurt by BA's insistence that they actually buy a ticket, but the con man quickly pushed his feelings aside since technically the Sergeant was right. Christmas isn't the time of year to borrowing things that others might need to get to their own families. The Lieutenant caught Hannibal watching him and a look of understanding passed between the two men. If BA was willing to fly, they'd do it his way.
"BA, we're all going." Hannibal said firmly, making it clear that the Sergeant wasn't going to be alone in his hour of need. The four men had been friends long enough that the Colonel knew without hesitation that they would all want to be there for both BA and his mother.
"Hannibal's right," Face added as he reached out and placed a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder. "Your mother's mean's a lot to all of us."
"That's a fact brother," Murdock confirmed.
A look of relief washed over the Sergeant's face. "Thanks guys."
"Okay Face, you get the tickets" Hannibal said as a plan formed in his mind, "The rest of us will start packing."
"I haven't unpacked yet," Murdock said quickly as Face headed for the phone. The pilot had just gotten to Face's apartment that morning for the start of his week long pass from the VA and he hadn't had a chance to unpack. "What'd you want me to do?"
"Pack up the food we bought for Christmas dinner. We'll drop it off at a shelter along the way." Hannibal decided.
"Good idea," Murdock said with a grin as he headed off to the kitchen.
Less than thirty minutes later, Face had the team booked in first class seats on a one way flight from LA to Chicago and the rest of the team was ready to go. "I'll be ready in a couple minutes," the Lieutenant called out as he rushed into the room he had planned to share with Murdock.
"BA, why don't you help Murdock load the food into the VA and I'll help Face pack." Hannibal called out as he set his small bag beside the kitchen door.
"Our flight's at eleven, so we don't have much time," Face called from the bedroom. "Can someone call ahead at one of the shelter to prearrange the drop off?"
"Got it!" Hannibal called out as changed directions and instead headed for the phone.
As Hannibal flipped through the phone book in search of a shelter along the way to the airport, he thought about how well his team worked under pressure. Even when things were at their worst, the team pulled together, he thought to himself. The pride he felt for each man on his team couldn't have been any stronger if he had been their father.
Less than a half hour later, BA pulled the van into a secluded parking space in long term storage at the airport. They had made good time even with a the quick stop they'd made at the "The Lords Soldier Shelter" to drop off the bounty that was to be the teams Christmas dinner.
"We've got less than twenty minutes to check in," Face said as he took a quick glance at his Rolex watch. "We're on United flight 162. Just look for one of the flight monitors for the gate number. I'll catch up with you after I get our tickets and check our bags."
"Need some help Facey?" Murdock asked.
Face looked at the tense expression on BA's face before turning to Murdock. "I can handle it alone." Then he jerked his head towards BA, hoping that the pilot would understand that he needed to stay with BA to help keep the large black man from panicking.
As Hannibal, BA, and Murdock headed off towards the terminals, Face juggled the teams four suitcases and headed to the ticket counters. Even as late as it was in the evening, Face still had to stand in line behind two people. 'Guess the big travel rush begins tomorrow on Christmas eve,' The con man thought to himself.
Ten minutes later, Face stepped up to the counter and smiled brightly at the petite woman on the other side. "I have first class reservations for the Jones Family on flight 162." he said smoothly.
The woman typed in the name without looking up. "Yes Mr. Jones, I have the reservations right here." She tapped the keyboard, "The tickets have been prepaid." Her narrative was dull and spoken more for herself than for her customer. She tapped the keyboard again and the printer began to buzz. Looking up the woman asked, "Will you be checking any luggage sir?"
Face wondered how many times the clerk asked that questions each day. For him it was frustrating since he obviously had a suitcase tucked under his arm. "Yes, I have four bags," he said in a tone that matched the clerks.
The clerk pulled four tags marked LAX to ORD and marked the flight number on the tags with a heavy black marker. One by one, Face put the bag up on the scale beside the counter. With practiced hands, the clerk slipped a tag on the handle of each bag and then tossed the bag on a moving conveyor belt behind her. Turning back to the counter after tossing the last bag on the belt, the clerk ripped the tickets from the printer and placed the tickets in individual folder. "Your flight leaves from terminal 75B," the clerk said as she handed Face the tickets. "The lounge for our first class passengers is across from the terminal. Boarding will begin in ten minutes. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Shaking his head more from the amusement of watching the clerk move in such an automated manner, Face said, "No thank you. Have a Merry Christmas."
"You to sir," She said dismissing him as his waved the next customer forward.
Slipping the tickets into the inside pocket of his jacket, Face headed for the terminal. Less than five minutes later, Face arrived at the terminal and found Hannibal sitting next to BA and Murdock standing at a nearby window staring at the plane. Face did a double take and briefly wondered why Murdock looked more nervous than BA. Dismissing the odd behavior of his friends, Face sat down in the seat on the other side of BA. "We're all checked in." He said as he let out a patient sigh. He was about to mention
something about the cost of the tickets, a cost that could have been saved if he had scammed a plane, but decided to keep the information to himself. In reality, the team could afford the expense. "We should start boarding in about five minutes. Do you want to go to the lounge or do you want to stay here?" he asked.
"Here's fine," Hannibal said.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen," a stewardess announced in a sweet song like voice. "In a few moments, we'll begin boarding flight 162, a non stop flight from Los Angeles to Chicago. At this time, I would like our first class passengers and our passengers that may need assistance boarding to please come forward."
Both Hannibal and Face stood up. "Come on BA, that's us. Face, go get Murdock." Face turned and headed to the window to collect Murdock as Hannibal leaned down. "You can do it BA, it's time to go."
BA looked up at his CO with large eyes. "Ah don't know if I can do this." He said in a low voice that just didn't fit his build.
The Colonel tapped his jacket. "I've got sleeping powder in my pocket. If it gets too much for you, you have an option okay."
BA nodded and stood up. "Thanks Hannibal."
At the window, Face was encountering tension from another member of the team. "Murdock? What's wrong?"
"She don't wanna fly." Murdock said in a low ominous voice.
Shaking his head, Face frowned. "Come on Murdock, this is hard enough on BA as it is. The last thing he needs is a pilot that doesn't want to fly. He'll freak out."
Looking guilty, the Captain looked over at his friend. "I'm sorry Face. But I really got this feeling that she don't wanna fly."
Impatiently, Face quietly snapped, "Murdock, knock it off. Planes don't talk and they sure as hell don't feel." Reaching out, Face grabbed Murdock's jacket, "Come on they're boarding now."
Taking one last look at the plane, Murdock reluctantly followed the conman to the boarding line.
time the plane had lifted into the air and reached cruising altitude, Face was
sure that Murdock was caught in the throes of another of his many obsessions.
Beside him, the pilot has his eyes closed tight and his hand were fiercely
gripping the armrests. On the other side of the plane, BA has his eyes closed
in a relaxed sleep. 'I wonder is this is some kind of weird role reversal.'
Face thought to himself.
When Hannibal looked over a look of curiosity spread over his face and he pointed at the pilot and shrugged his shoulders, wordlessly asking the question of "What's with him?". Face glanced at Murdock to be sure that the pilot's act hadn't changed then jerked a thumb at the pilot and with the other hand he twirled a finger around his ear, responding silently with hand signals that
Chuckling silently so not to disturb BA, Hannibal pulled a magazine from the chair pocket in front of him and settled in to read. His expression clearly revealed that he had was pleased with being seated next to BA.
Frowning, Face turned to look at his friend one last time in the hopes that Murdock would have relaxed by now. Finding the pilot still tense, the conman began to look around for a distraction that would make the trip a bit more bearable. Smiling his eyes fell upon the lovely face of the redheaded stewardess who had been giving him the eye since they had boarded. Suddenly the seatbelt sign went out and the pilot announced that they were now at cruising altitude. 'Perfect timing,' Face thought to himself as he quickly unbuckled his seat belt and strolled up the aisle to chit chat.
While in the middle of proposing a January dinner date the sound of a loud bang followed by the shuddering of the plane caused Face to pause and turn back to look down the aisle. "What was that?" He asked as the plane shuddered again.
The stewardess's eyes grew wide. "I think maybe you'd better take your seat," she said with a touch of urgency. Nodding, Face turned and made his way back to his seat. The plane shuddered a third time while he was buckling his seatbelt and the Lieutenant silently hoped that the aircraft had hit a pocket of turbulence. Turning to Murdock, Face found the pilot staring out the window. "What. . . " he started to asked.
"Excuse me?" The stewardess asked as she discreetly bend down over Face. "Where you serious when you said that your friend is a pilot?"
Before Face could respond to her, Murdock was unbuckling his seatbelt. "U.S. Air Force," Murdock said. His voice was laced with urgency.
The Stewardess nodded, "Captain Filmore would like to speak with you."
"What's going on?" Hannibal asked while leaning over the aisle.
Murdock scooted over Face. "Just stay where you are okay. Keep your belts on," Murdock said firmly. He glanced from Hannibal to Face, showing both men a serious and very sane expression. "Trust me." He said before turning to follow the Stewardess up the aisle.
Entering the dimly lit cockpit, Murdock could see that they were in the middle of shutting down their number two engine. "Number two blew." The Captain said, confirming what the crew already knew.
The pilot looked back, "Tammy tells me that you're a pilot." When Murdock nodded, he added, "We're losing hydraulics. I need an extra body to either check damage or fly while one of us checks. What's your experience?"
"Name it, I can fly it. Captain, U.S. Air Force pilot." Murdock responded while glancing over the gauges. "When the engine blew, you popped the fan blades."
The co-pilot groaned. "Gotta be why we're losing hydraulics. The debris from the blades probably hit the fuselage and the empennage."
"Ya gotta bring her down before she does it on her own." Murdock surmised.
The pilot shook his head to the negative. "We smack in the middle of the Rockies." He said as he banged a fist over a gauge. "Hydraulics are screwed enough that I can't do a 180." Turning to his co-pilot, "Get on the com and send a distress call. Let them know we're diverting to Denver."
Murdock shook his head, hoping the gauges were reading false. It didn't look good. "Lemme go back and check to see what damage ya got." He said.
"Thanks Captain." Filmore said without looking back.
Murdock hurried down the aisle of the plane, pausing only a moment to give his team mates an encouraging smile as he passed them. He knew they would be worried, but he didn't have time to stop and answer any questions. Thankfully the plane wasn't fully packed and most of the passengers were sleeping as checked out the window every third or fourth row of seats. To anyone that noticed him, he looked like a big kid who wanted to see the sights of the ground below from various angles.
When he reached the back of the plane he turned and hurried back to the cockpit to share the news. Bursting into the cockpit, Filmore looked back expectantly. "Both inboard ailerons are sticking up. Nothing appears damaged, but it ain't moving either." He pause, knowing that everyone in the cockpit knew what he was going to say next. "We ain't gonna make it to Denver. We're going down."
A look of stubborn determination crossed over Filmore's face. "Take take control of the throttle levers Captain, it will give us one less thing to worry about while we sort through this mess." he said firmly. "Tammy, check the passengers. Make sure they all have their gear stowed and their seatbelts on. Prepare them for emergency landing without letting them know what's happening."
Kneeling down in front of the controls Murdock began to work with the throttles to maintain control of the aircraft. Just as he thought he had gotten a little more lift out of the wounded bird another loud bang echoed through the hull from the rear of the aircraft and the throttle slipped and froze. "Shit!" Murdock shouted as began to punch the control with a fist hoping to free it up. "Throttle froze in a downward slide!" He called out louder than he needed to.
"External communications just blinked out!" The co-pilot cried out.
Filmore glanced at the gauges to confirm their predicament. "We're losing altitude fast, and I can only budge the yoke a little." Reaching out he flipped a switch and static sounded in the passenger compartment behind them. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are experiencing sever mechanical malfunctions and as a safety precaution I ask that you double check your seat belts and assume the crash position." Several screams of terror echoed through the plane. "I ask that you remain calm. We will do everything within our power to land the aircraft safely."
Murdock cringed when he recognized one of the shouts. "Hannibal! We gonna crash!" he heard BA call out several times. A feeling of guilt washed over him as he realized that he could have prevented this disaster if only he would have been more insistent with his feelings of intuition. "I'm so sorry guys," he whispered softly to himself.
"Captain Murdock, there's a jump seat behind you." Filmore said as he fought to maintain some control over the plane. "Better get in it and buckle up. Everyone keep their eyes open for something flat to land on."
Murdock and the co-pilot nodded. The A-Team pilot kept his eyes forward to watch the horizon as he snapped his safety belt in place. Bad thing about flying in the mountains was the fact that the cloud cover pretty much hid the landscape and the mountain peaks. The occasional breaks in the clouds showed nothing but snow covered peaks passing on either side of the plane. Something wasn't right and he watched carefully for the next cloud break. When it appeared next, Murdock saw that the plane was tilted with the right wing lower than the left. "Captain, you're dropping on the right."
Filmore shook his head, "Gauges show that I'm level."
"They're not working!" Murdock called out as he caught another glimpse of the landscape below. "Your down five degrees on the right!"
"He's right Captain!" the co-pilot confirmed after watching for the same abnormality that Murdock had caught.
Groaning from the exertion of fighting the yoke, Filmore angled the plane five degrees past what the gauge was reading as normal. At that moment the cloud cover cleared and the sight of a mountain dead ahead caused the three men in the cockpit to hold their breaths. Adrenaline surged into Filmore's blood stream and he jerked the yoke left. The plane sluggishly responded and the aircraft banked roughly to the left and cleared the mountain.
"Plateau at one o'clock" Murdock called out in a panic.
Struggling, Filmore pushed the yoke right. "We aren't going to make it!" He cried as the panic he was feeling pushed to the front of his mind. The screams of his passengers choked him and forced himself to fight for their lives.
"Come on baby, come on!" Murdock chanted over and over, "We gotta make it, come on baby." Ground zero loomed just ahead, and he took a deep breath and gripped the edge of his seat to prepare for the pain that was sure to occur at impact.
announcement made by the airline Captain hadn't been a surprise to the
passengers. By the time the third bang was heard and the shudder that followed
was felt, suspicions were being raised in hushed whispers that could be heard
from one end of the plane to the other. Suspicions were one thing, but fact was
another. The airline pilot had presented clear, undisputable fact. They were
going to crash.
"H-A-N-N-I-B-A-L!" BA screamed in a tone that shouldn't have been possible for such a large man. "We gonna crash!"
"Shut up BA!" Hannibal said firmly to the panicked Sergeant. Following up with a firm look to add weight to his words the Colonel found the strangest thought stirring in his mind. Here he was facing a plane crash and he had just wished that he had brought a two by four. "There are children on board and you're scaring them!" Hannibal added, hoping that the mention of children would quiet BA's screams. Thankfully there were no kids on board, but BA didn't know that.
The ploy worked, and although he still looked like he was falling apart, but BA's voice had lowered to a squeaky whimper. "We gonna die, we gonna die," BA whispered over and over.
Movement on the other side of the aisle caught Hannibal's attention and he turned just as Face unclipped his seatbelt. "Put that back on!" Hannibal ordered in a tone similar to that of a drill sergeant.
Face gave Hannibal an anguished look. "Murdock's alone. I don't want him to be alone," the conman said in a determined voice. "I'm going up there."
"He's not alone Face," Hannibal said compassionately. "He's up there with the others trying to keep us safe. Don't take that away from him. Please Face, put your seatbelt back on and do what Murdock wanted." He was concerned for both men, but he respected Murdock's need to be in the cockpit in order to do something to help keep his friends safe. "He asked us to stay put and keep our seatbelts on. Trust him okay."
The conman's eyes watered and he turned away from Hannibal, embarrassed by his display of emotion. As he reconnected his seatbelt, a tear escaped and gently rolled down Face's cheek unchecked. Leaning forward in preparation for the crash, Face closed his eyes and said a silent prayer. 'Please god, protect Murdock as he works to protect us. Please watch over your frightened sheep.'
"DUMP THE FUEL!" Murdock shouted as the plane drew closer to the edge of the plateau. It was a trick that the Air Force had used for years in order to decrease the chance of exploding on impact. He figured that the commercial airlines did the same, but from where he sat the fuel gauge seemed to be reading too high.
Filmore didn't hesitate. He should have thought of it earlier, but his concentration had been so focused on keeping the plane level he hadn't had time to think of it. He reached one hand out and flipped several switches. The plane tilted slightly to the left and Filmore struggled to try and level out the plane. Relief filled the cockpit as they felt the fuel eject. The hissing of the fuel being ejected echoed through the hull and just as the hissing died to a soft whistle the nose hit. "EVERYONE DOWN!" The pilot shouted over the intercom as the nose of the plane roughly bounced off the edge of the plateau.
A second later, the plane jerked and a metallic roar filled the craft as the left wing tore away as it caught at the plateau's edge. The metal underbelly of the plane scrapped through the ice to the unforgiving rock below. Stressed metal emitted an unearthly groan as the plane sliced a path along the plateau. The plane jerked and rolled slightly to the right and the remaining wing tore away. The amputated wing folding back into the fuselage until the wingtip pierced the hull as a knife would cut into butter.
Screams of terror turned to horrific screams of pain as the dying plane shook and rattled violently, filling the cabin with a wave of debris. The ragged edges of the amputated wing suddenly caught in the ice and rock and came to a chilling halt. The wingtip, still speared into the fuselage, momentarily anchor the craft. The tortured metal screamed like the hounds from hell and the battered fuselage resumed its forward slide. The wingtip tore further into the wounded bird and in less than an instant the wingtip fully impaled the plane and separated the tail from the once mighty bird.
Death by violence is never pretty, and the torn and battered plane lay in silent confirmation of that fact. In less than ten minutes, the plane lay in silence with parts scattered all over the mountain plateau. The mountain winds whistled through the freshly torn openings, singing a sweet song to anything that had survived.
"AH AIN'T DEAD!" BA screamed out after coming to awareness. Slowly the shadows of destruction came into focus around him and the bulky black man began to look around. Beside him, Hannibal lay slumped forward. "Hannibal? You okay?" BA asked. He was almost afraid of the answer. Carefully, BA reached out and touched the Colonel and almost wept with relief. Hannibal was still breathing.
"BA?" Face said groggily as he gingerly poked at his bleeding head. "You and Hannibal okay?"
"Ah'm fine," BA said quickly, "Looks like Hannibal got a broken arm, and your head's bleedin pretty bad."
Face struggled with his seatbelt. "Do you need any help with Hannibal?" he asked as he managed to free himself. "I need to check on Murdock."
"Get on up there and find the fool," BA said without his usual gruffness, "I'll take care of Hannibal."
Rising to his feet, Face swayed slightly. 'Concussion,' he thought to himself as he leaned heavily on the seats. Half stumbling up the aisle, Face tried to ignore the crunching of debris under his shoes. It was a miracle that any of them were alive. "Murdock?" Face called out as he neared the open door of the cockpit. The conman grew worried when there was no reply. "Murdock, are you alright?" Face called out.
"Fsssss" Murdock babbled as awareness returned to him. "Ssssu?"
Taking the last step into the cockpit, Face had to close his eyes a moment as the sickly sweet smell of blood surrounded him. The swirling of snow which had poured into the small haven of the aircraft caught his eye and he looked down. There amongst the dancing snow was a pale and horror stricken face looking up at him. Dizziness assaulted the conman and he had to grip the door frame to keep his balance. After shaking off the dizziness, Face refocused on the face laying at his feet. His eyes moved further to check for the man's injuries and his stomach rolled when he realized that there was no body. "Oh my god," he said breathlessly as the contents of his stomach raced into the back of his throat. Turning away from the sight, Face fell to his knees and vomited.
"Heeelllp" Murdock groaned as he fought to form his words. The darkness surrounded him and his body was numb from the cold winds poured freely in through crevices of broken windows and torn metal. He tried to open his eyes, but the fear of what he would find locked them shut. The smell of blood mixed with a new scent of vomit and his own stomach tightened as the reality of a nightmare come true filled his heart with terror. Had he heard Face calling for him or had his mind finally gone over the edge? He didn't know for sure. Oh god, he hurt so bad but the fear for his friends, his only real family, tore at his soul.
With his stomach now empty, Face struggled to rise. His head throbbed from both the pain of impact and the sights that no one should ever be forced to see. 'Focus on Murdock,' he silently reminded himself over and over as he reentered the cockpit. Skirting past the decapitated head, he moved into the brain of the aircraft. "Murdock?" Face whispered, almost afraid to find his friend.
"Faccce?" Murdock whispered back.
The sound of his name was the most beautiful thing he had heard in ages. Searching for the source of the sound, Face found his friend slumped forward in his seat at the back of the cockpit. With shaky hands, Face reached out and touched Murdock gently. "Are you alright?" Face asked, knowing full well that he wasn't.
"No," Murdock hissed painfully. At least one of his friends alive. "Others?"
"BA's okay, Hannibal's got a broken arm." Face said as he struggled to release the pilot from his safety belts. The wetness he felt when releasing the buckle scared him, but for the moment Murdock was alive and he held onto that.
"Pilot and his co are dead," Murdock whispered painfully.
"I know," Face said as the vision of the bodiless head flashed before his eyes.
A sob escaped Murdock's lips. "They tried so hard," the pilot whimpered.
Enveloping his friend in his arms, Face pulled Murdock to his feet. "I know Murdock, I know," the conman cooed softly. When the pilot released a painful hiss, Face paused, "Will you be able to walk with my help or should I go get BA?"
Darkness surrounded Murdock like evil confetti and he slowly shook his head negatively, "I'll make it with your help."
When the two men made it back to the first class section of the plane, Hannibal was awake and on his feet. Both he and BA rushed forward to help. "Put him down here," Hannibal said indicating to the front row of first class seats. "We'll check him out before checking on the other passengers."
Face nodded. Hannibal always had a plan. "I think he has a couple cracked or broken ribs." he said as he eased Murdock into the seat.
Hannibal nodded as he kneeled down awkwardly. After poking and prodding the pilot, the Colonel looked up. "Cracked ribs and a couple nasty gashes on his head and arms. He should be alright." He reached out his good arm and pushed himself up. "Let me check out your head," he said firmly.
"We should see about the other passengers," Face said quickly, "I just got a knock to the head."
"Concussion?" Hannibal asked as he searched the younger man's face.
Face gingerly nodded, "Yeah, but not too bad. The dizziness comes and goes."
Hannibal quickly confirmed his Lieutenant's self diagnosis. "Okay, here's the plan. The three of us need to see what kind of damage we're facing and check on the other passengers. Are there any survivors in the front?"
Face shook his head no, "I shut the cockpit doors to keep the cold from seeping back here."
Hannibal nodded and silently thanked god that Murdock had been spared. "Alright then, we need to find one of the stewardesses in order to get a number count on the passengers. It's cold in here so we've got some leaks in the hull. BA, once we get the passengers sorted out, you'll have to figure out a way to seal the leaks in order for us to conserve the heat." BA nodded, and Hannibal continued. "Let's move."
god," Hannibal whispered under his breath as he crawled from the twisted
wreckage that had been the front half of the plane. If not for the frigid cold
and the blowing snow, the sight before them could have been one of the many
that he and the team had faced in Nam. When Face crawled out beside him, the
Colonel could tell that the younger man was thinking the same.
"We won't last long in this cold," Face said while pulling his sports coat tightly around his chest. He like the rest of the team had packed their winter jackets in their luggage and from the looks of the debris pattern he surmised that everything they had brought with them was now hopelessly lost. The only one of them that actually had a jacket that would be able to offer some protection from the cold was Murdock. Since the Captain was suffering from cracked ribs, Hannibal had decided that the pilot needed to rest while the rest of them went off to search.
BA was the last to leave the wreck, and when he emerged with the remnants of the curtain that had once divided the first class section from the rest of the passengers Hannibal suddenly thought of Murdock in his Captain Cab disguise. Shaking the thought from his mind, the Colonel glanced back over at the wreckage that was spread behind them. "We have to move fast. You find someone, direct them here if they can walk."
"If they can't?" Face asked.
"Bring them back here or send them with someone who can manage it." Hannibal said firmly. They had found forty five in the front section. Thirty seven alive, eight dead. "Look for something that looks like it might have been the back part of the fuselage. If there are survivors, that's where you'll find them." Hannibal called out as he started to wade through the snow towards a large lump of twisted metal. The odds that anyone had survived were slim, but the stewardess that they had found estimated that the plane had carried one hundred and twenty two including crew. The plane had been less than half full.
Inside the wreckage that the team had just left, a pilot stirred. The memory of the crash and the destruction surrounding him instantly shocked the pilot back to another time and another crash. "Evade capture," he muttered softly. Blinking rapidly in confusion, the sights of the battered commercial airliner twisted and morphed into the Huey he had gone down in so long ago. "Oh god, I can't let them get me," he cried hoarsely. "Not again, not this time." Visions of torture, pain, and anguish at the hands of the enemy caused his throat to tighten in fear. Clutching his injured ribs, Murdock weakly rose from his seat and stumbled forward in search of an escape route.
Success can be measured in many ways. When wandering through death and destruction, finding any sound that indicated life could easily have qualified as a success. Unfortunately a majority of the wreckage lay silent save or the whistles of the wind mourning the lives lost. Discouraged, three very cold men continued their search, each unwilling to return to the small haven from which they came until they could bring back a victory.
Although debris was scattered far and wide, there were little left of the plane which could be large enough to hold life. Hannibal, BA, and Face, had all started off in different directions, but they had ended up gravitating to the same massive chunk of wreckage that had once been the tail portion of the fuselage. Meeting up, the three men traveled the final distance to the tail section together until suddenly one man stopped.
BA's eyes widened in terror. Even with all the horrors he had just seen while searching, the sight before him was more than he could cope with. He could feel the eyes of his friends upon him silently questioning his halt, but he couldn't form the word.
Unable to wait any longer for a response from BA, Face turned to look in the direction which held the larger man's attention. Bile in his empty stomach rose up as he took in the sight. Only a few feet ahead, the remains of a passenger stood impaled upon the jagged edges of the torn hull. The man stood silent with wild terror filled eyes staring blankly like a scarecrow guarding over a field. It was clear that he was dead. They had all seen enough death in the jungles of Vietnam to know it when they saw it. What had frightened BA so much was the movement of the man's arm. The elbow of the corpse's coat was caught on the wreckage. The hand dangled free, moving with each gust of wind. It almost appeared as if the man was hauntingly pointing to where the others could be found. "Hannibal?" Face questioned in a squeaky voice.
"Help me bring him down," Hannibal ordered firmly as he held onto his own stomach. It was difficult, but he held his emotions in check.
"Like Nam," BA whispered. Memories of stumbling across a similarly macabre site filled his mind. The Cong would do something like this to terrorize the Americans.
"Nam was worse," Face choked out as he too remembered the battered and tortured presents left by the Cong. "Much worse."
Together the three battle hardened men pulled the man down from the wreckage, ignoring the protests of the metal and fabric protested, and the sickly tearing of flesh. Although the man was long past feeling, BA and Face gently laid the body out of their path so he would be found later when rescue teams arrive.
"I hear moaning," Hannibal said with excitement as he began to dig into the snow to reach the opening into the wreckage, "and talking!"
Crawling inside, the team welcomed the increase in temperature. It wasn't much, but it was paradise in comparison to what was outside. "Hello?" Hannibal called out.
"Oh thank God!" A stewardess said, limping through the damaged aisle. When she caught sight of the three men her face fell, "I though you were part of the rescue crew."
"Not yet," Hannibal said apologetically, "We were in the front of the plane. How many are here?"
"Fourty one alive," She said sadly, "How many survived in your section?"
"Thirty seven." Face said softly as he mentally calculated that there were seventy eight alive with forty four dead or missing.
The stewardess paled. "Crew?"
"Pilot and co-pilot didn't make it," Hannibal said reaching out for the woman, sensing she wouldn't be able to stand at any moment. "I'm sorry."
She reached out and took the hand offered and tears silently rolled down her face. "They were good men." Quickly brushing the tears aside, the stewardess visibly struggled to get a grip on her emotions. "We need to work on surviving. I've spoken with many of the survivors here and none are in any emotional state to lead."
"Hannibal's gonna take care of us." BA said without thinking.
"Colonel John Smith," Hannibal said with a slight nod of his head.
The stewardesses eyes widened, and she gasped, "The A-Team, here?"
"At your service." Face said with a weak smile.
"So what's the plan Colonel?" the stewardess asked, her voice stronger and now filled with hope.
Even in the middle of disaster, the stewardesses question elicited a chuckle from both Face and BA. How often they had both asked Hannibal that question, and here, out of the mouth of a stranger the same question was raised. "Yeah Colonel, what's the plan?" Face added with confidence in his Commanding Officer.