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Another Sacrifice Part 1
Adopted by Lisa
"Come on Face lets go!" Hannibal yelled to his handsome young lieutenant, trying to be heard over the roar of the engines that Murdock had been warming up.
Face was running up to the back of the airplane stopping momentarily to shoot a few rounds of cover at the jeeps quickly closing the distance. One of the rounds hit the front tire of the last jeep. The occupants were clearly not happy at having lost the edge. Hannibal quickly propped BA into a seat and strapped him in. He looked out the door to see what was taking Face so long. Face came running to the door and jumped in as best as his condition would allow. He was sweating heavily. Although not all of his discomfort was from the heat. With one quick motion he threw the machine gun inside and jumped into the open door still holding his hand protectively on his left side. He fell heavily into a seat and struggled to catch his breath.
"Murdock go!" Hannibal yelled to the pilot waiting for the go ahead. With a few moments to spare the tires of the plane started to turn. The plane clumsily started down the runway with their attackers quickly closing ground by foot. The men stopped their motion and took a stance. They knew that if the plane made it into the air their lives would be over if the A Team escaped with the list.
Murdock pushed the engines as far as he dared for a quick takeoff. Gradually the speed increased and the nose of the plane left the asphalt. Murdock paid little attention to the gunfire as his only concern was for a clean take off before they ran out of runway. He could hear the sounds of a few rounds hitting the metal skin of the aircraft. In a few moments the plane was a safe distance away in the air. He blew out a sigh of relief. This had not been a smooth mission. No matter how sloppy, it was a success. Murdock put his hand on the briefcase that sat in the co pilots seat. Their lives had been on the line for its contents.
Hannibal sat down next to Face and took a cigar out of his pocket. He looked over at Face who was now beginning to breathe a bit easier and had relaxed somewhat.
"You ok kid?" he asked concern for his lieutenant written all over his face.
"Fine Hannibal. That was a little too close for comfort. I am for a little game of cat and mouse myself but that was a little too close." Face smiled at his commanding officer. He knew why it had been a close call and hoped that Hannibal wouldn't call him on it.
"We should have earned our pardons just on this mission alone. Stockwell didn't give us much advanced warning. I have to say though that I wouldn't have argued. The idea of that Colombian drug king having a list of DEA and CIA informants and operatives names and addresses is a bit of overkill. How did that guy get the list anyway?" Face took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his brow. He stopped to look at it before returning it to his pocket. The stitching of his initials were still pristine. Murdock had given him them many years before as a Christmas present.
"Stockwell said that there was a break in the chain. Someone thought it would be a quick way to make some money to sell the information. The leak had already been dealt with but not before Calderone had gotten his hands on the list. Of course, I doubt that his patriotic streak motivated him totally in this one. His name has to be on one of those lists somewhere. Since he can't be tied to any one agency it is in his best interests to make sure that list is never seen again." Hannibal lit the cigar and allowed himself to relax. He looked over at BA who was asleep thanks to a well placed 2x4 on the way to the plane. There has to be an easier way than this, he thought to himself. He was getting too old to be lugging the giant every time they had to fly.
Hannibal looked out the window again watching the scenery. He was so full of fury at Stockwell for putting them in this situation. He had to hold himself together. He had to maintain his appearance for the unit. He had to be in control at all times and he wouldn't allow the team to see his fury. Hannibal knew that it was too soon for a mission. Face was still recovering from the gunshot that nearly ended his life in the restaurant that Murdock worked. The pain was gone mostly but Face was not 100% and he knew it. The kid tried hard but they all knew it. He needed time. Time that Stockwell didn't give them. They had been shipped out so fast on this one that they didn't have time to plan for any contingencies. He occupied his time planning what he was going to say to Stockwell on the return to Virginia. If the safety of his team had no importance to Stockwell, a pardon would do them no good. Another foul up, another rush and one of his team could die. No pardon was worth a life that he would gladly trade his own for.
Face could see that Hannibal needed to be alone. He knew he was mad and he knew why. "I am going to go check on Murdock." With that he walked down the narrow aisle of the plane. Holding the seats for support on his way to the cockpit.
Face popped his head into the cockpit. He reached over and picked up the briefcase. He tried not to think of how many lives were in that case. He put it on the floor and looked at the sky ahead. "I can see why you love it up here Murdock. Much better view than watching BA and wondering if any of us will ever take another breath again if he wakes up on the plane." Face flashed his million dollar smile. For the first time in a while he really looked at the haggard pilot. He looked exhausted. Murdock looked back at him as he set the autopilot.
"Don't worry Faceman. That ugly mudsucker wouldn't hurt you. It's me he will be mad at." Murdock couldn't help but smile. He loved to annoy BA. It seemed to be his best skill.
Murdock turned his attention back to the dash of the aircraft. Constantly scanning the dials. Usually he was so full of life. His eyes told a hundred stories in one glance. You could never tell what was behind them. Whether there was sincerity or craziness. All Face could read was tiredness. Murdock had to pull triple duty on this mission. He had to be the pilot, con man, and backup. Face had been regulated to secondary backup. All of the team had to work harder to pick up his slack, and he hated having to admit to slowing down.
"It is good to know that you learned a thing or two from my expertise in securing difficult necessities. But, tell me Murdock, just where did you get this plane? Please don't tell me that you got it off a rental plane repair line."
"Securing difficult necessities? Is that your politically correct way of describing a con? And no, I didn't get it off a repair line." Murdock smiled at his friend. Face let out a sigh of relief. Leaving Murdock to scam anything left one very unsure of the results.
"It never made it onto the repair line muchacho." With that Murdock turned on his radio and turned up the volume. After a moment he was bopping his head in beat to music that only he could hear. Face stared at him for a long while before getting up. Waiting for BA to wake up had to be easier than sitting on the nose of an airplane scammed by a former resident of the psychiatric ward of a Veterans Administration hospital.
Face made his way to the back of the plane. Stiffly he sat next to Hannibal. Both of them watched the afternoon sun on the horizon and noticed the thick area of clouds beneath them. "How's Murdock?"
"You mean our fearless pilot? He is amusing himself by listening to the radio and patting himself on the back for taking my job." Face looked at his friend. Hannibal knew he was kidding but there was a sting to the words.
"You know why he had to scam the plane kid. You had to help me set up for the attack. I needed you to help me set up the plan and BA was busy getting the escape car ready and the front guard."
"You are the planner Hannibal. I am the Face. I will prove to you that I can carry my weight. I love Murdock. But he is the pilot. And right now he is piloting a plane that very well might have been clipped from a rental plane repair line." Face had lost some of his frustration by saying the words. He felt better just trying to let Hannibal know that he was coming back.
"Look Face. I know you can pull your weight. BA knows it and Murdock does too. You just have to take it easy for a while. Murdock won't replace you. He might try to mimic you, but he will get bored with being Templeton Peck after a few hours. You can make contributions in any way. That is what a team is. And a family watches out for each other." The look on Hannibal's face told that he meant what he said. Those were not empty words but ones that were meant. "What do you mean . . A rental plane repair line? He learned his lesson from the last one."
Hannibal smiled broadly and put the cigar in his mouth. His eyes looked again out the window. He loved to occupy his hours in flight by trying to guess where they were. The last thing he saw before topping the clouds was the mountain tops of the California range. That was an hour ago so he placed them somewhere in the Midwest. They had at least three hours to go. He placed his hand into his bag by his feet and got out BA's knockout juice in case the sleeping giant awoke. It would have been easier to use it before hitting him with the 2x4 but there wasn't enough time. BA had seen the approaching airport and arguing with the sergeant while in retreat from the hired muscle wouldn't have fit his plan. At least they had it in case of emergency.
Hannibal sat in his chair casually flipping the pages of a magazine left by a former passenger. Not exactly his style, but at least this copy of the National Inquirer helped to pass some time. He looked over at Face who was napping in the seat beside him. He wanted to check on Murdock, but he didn't want to disturb Face. Hannibal could see Murdock from his seat in the back of the plane and he was still seat dancing with the headphones. Hannibal looked out of the window again. The clouds below the plane still blocked his view of possible locations. He decided to make his way to the cockpit. He needed some idea of how much longer this little trip would take. Timing a knock out from a board was not a science but a challenge.
Carefully Hannibal stood up and managed to step over Face without disturbing him. He grabbed a new cigar from his jacket and lit it on the way. Tapping Murdock to get his attention he sat in the seat next to Murdock. "Captain, how far are we from home? I need to know when we are in range to contact Stockwell."
"We should be in range soon Colonel. How is the movie back there?"
"Not a good one Captain. Rather boring if you ask me." The two men smiled at each other. Murdock looked down. No matter how he tried, he couldn't hide the fact that something was bothering him.
"How is Face doing?" Hannibal knew he still felt tremendous guilt over Face being shot. All of the men, including Face, tried to explain that things happen and no one blamed him. Still, it took a few calls to Dr. Richter to get him back on track. That guilt was something he would have to deal with in his own time.
"Face is fine. . . . . just taking a short nap. I wonder how Frankie is doing. I hope his dad is ok. We sure could have used some of his talents on this job." Hannibal knew that his absence couldn't be helped. Frankie's father was not well. And even though Frankie was risking getting caught by visiting his father in the nursing home, Hannibal had not had the heart to force him to go on this mission.
The two men sat chatting. The vibration of the plane was becoming more noticeable. Murdock checked the gauges now and then but wrote the problem off as turbulence. Face appeared in the doorway. "Hannibal. BA is starting to moan and move back there. We don't have anything hard on board to crack him with again. I don't want to be around if he wakes up." Faces eyes had fear in them. He had seen BA angry before and it was not a good thing. Murdock was too scared for words. He would be the first on the big guys list.
"Lets give him a shot before he wakes up Face. I don't think he will stay asleep for the rest of the trip." Hannibal reached into his pocket and grabbed the small glass bottle. Both men started back.
Murdock continued to scan the dials. The radio was playing again and he was back to seat dancing. Something caught his eye. He stopped his reverie to look and before he could react a loud bang was heard in the right engine. The plane started to shudder and quickly lost some altitude. He began to frantically push buttons and try to maintain control. The plane was slow to react with the yoke and Murdock knew they were in trouble.
Hannibal was about to stick BA with the needle when the floor seemed to disappear below him. Both men lost their stomachs and both heard the angry noise the engines were making. In his effort to catch himself from falling, Hannibal dropped the needle. He watched it roll down the aisle. Both men rushed to the cockpit that they had just vacated. In that short period of time Murdock had gone from relaxed and jovial to intense and angry. He threw off the headphones and tried to fight with the yoke to maintain level.
"What's happening Murdock?"
"We lost an engine. I don't know why. It could either be mechanical or courtesy of the stray bullets on our escape." Beads of sweat were showing on his forehead. "I am going to try to land but I think crash is a better description. We have to lose more altitude so I can take a look" Both men knew of Murdock's flying ability. If there was anyway to land he would find it. They never doubted his ability but the ability of the plane was a different matter.
The plane broke through the clouds that Hannibal had noticed most of the way. Murdock swore to himself as he scanned the horizon to find a clearing. Below the plane was nothing but a massive forest. All they could see around was rows of trees. The plane was losing altitude quickly. At once the other engine failed causing a sickening quiet. All that could be heard was the clicking of dials and the wind blowing past the windows.
"You guys better find a comfy spot. Make sure the big guy is in tight and make sure everything is buttoned down. This is going to be a rough landing."
Face and Hannibal ran to the back of the plane. Face checked BA's seat belt and straps while Hannibal locked up the guns and any other loose object he could find. If the landing was rough they didn't need anything flying around them that could be a projectile.
Murdock reached behind his seat and strapped he belts around his shoulders. The plane was on a steady glide now. He saw a small area with less trees. It was far from a clearing but it offered less to hit than the other areas. He tried to turn the plane to it and offered a silent prayer. Out of all the times he crashed in Nam he never lost a man. Never lost a unit. The helicopters had been lost but never a life. He wasn't about to lose three of them now. He held his breath as he fought with the aircraft. As the trees came closer he fought harder for the clearing. The belly of the plane brushed the tree tops. Murdock allowed himself a quick glance in the back. Hannibal and Face were strapped in. He could barely see BA asleep in the seat. At least one passenger was spared the panic.
The plane hit the tree tops and limbs broke like toothpicks. The plane was about a hundred feet off the ground. The clearing was a little larger than Murdock had hoped. At the last second he closed his eyes. Knowing there was nothing more he could do he resigned himself to fate. He could hear in an instant a deafening crash. He could hear glass shatter and he felt sudden pain from small shards of glass that hit his face. The last thing he saw was a large tree at the end of the clearing coming up fast. Then the world went black.
Hannibal and Face maintained a death grip on the arms of the seats. Face offered a silent prayer as did Hannibal. At once the ride started for them. Hannibal looked out the window and saw sparks. He heard a loud crash and knew the wings had hit. The suddenness of the stop surprised him. The worst was the quiet that followed.
Face was aware of the sounds around him. Trying to hold the seat he put his faith in Murdock. The plane lurched to one side throwing him off balance. He wasn't ready for the impact. His head bounced off the side of the plane. At once glass was everywhere. He opened his eyes and saw something flying at him. He tried to cover his head. As the plane came to a stop the briefcase that he had put on the floor came flying at him. Propelled my the momentum of the plane coming to a sudden stop, it came flying at the passengers in back. It was the only thing that was left that had not been secured. It hit him in the stomach. Knocking the breath out of him. He felt a pain from the area. The same area where a bullet had been removed weeks earlier. He tried to hold on as the plane crushed around them.Next
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