TITLE: Inner Torment
WARNINGS: Slash - MM, Mental & Physical Pain, Torture
STORY TYPE: Third Person
CATEGORY: Drama, Action
LENGTH: Series 'The Millennium Epic' Story No. 6DISCLAIMER: The characters are property of Cannell and company.
Part 1: The Black Sedans
Face drove his corvette, watching warily the sedan following close behind him. His heart was coming up into his throat. He was all on his own with a car that resembled the MP's.
Quickly he reached for his mobile phone.
Hannibal was on the set of Aquamanic Part 12 when the mobile rang. He cleared his throat and answered as Blue's Delivery, until he recognised Face.
"You OK, kid?" He asked. Face sounded shaken, but he knew the young man's pride so kept his worry in check.
"I think I'm being followed Hannibal, I don't think I can get to the place we arranged without giving you guys away" Face explained.
Hannibal chewed the unlit cigar in his mouth as his mind kicked into action. Danger flickered through his mind like bolts of lightening.
"Face, we gotta meet somewhere. Its OK, come to the place as arranged, we'll get rid of them as a team. Its no good being on your own" Hannibal regulated his breathing, but the thought of his friend in danger brought an ache in his chest which threatened to explode into anger.
"I'll try and get rid of them first though, Hannibal" Face said, the worry now evident in his voice.
"Them? Is there any more following you, kid?" Hannibal asked. Face was rarely peturbed, and the thought the Leiutenant was in over his head on his own was almost too much to bear.
"There's three sedans, Hannibal. Shit they got heavy metal" Hannibal heard the unmistakle swerve of Face's corvette, and three shots being fired.
"Face, listen to me" Hannibal said calmly, even though his heart was pounding and seemed ready to explode. If they hurt Face .. "Get to the rendevous immediately"
"I can't. There's too many of them. They are forcing me off the road. Hannibal!!!! ....." There came a wooshing sound from the mobile and then a sickening explosion as the connection on the mobile terminated abruptly.
"Face ...." Hannibal said weakly. He quickly phoned Face, but couldn't get through.
Deciding on a change of plan, Hannibal decided to ring Murdock and BA, who were at that moment driving along the highway, deep in a pleasant conversation for a change. Murdock answered the telephone.
"Perfect Pizza, what's your pleasure?"
"Murdock, its me Hannibal"
"Hey leader dude, hows the film going?" Murdock asked, smiling at BA. BA said nothing, and did not smile back.
"Not good. Had a distress call from Face moments before I heard his car explode" Hannibal explained.
"What?" Murdock sat up and looked around out the van, as if for signs of Face. "Where was he?"
"I don't know, he said he wouldn't be able to make the meeting place, there were sedans chasing him."
"What's wrong, crazy foo'" BA asked. He could sense something amiss from Murdock's sudden, serious tone of voice. The fact Murdock was rarely serious caused him the greatest concern.
Murdock waved his hand at BA as if to say 'shut up' and then listened intently to Hannibal.
"You guys take the road to the meetin' place, see if you can spot the vette" Hannibal said.
"And you?" Murdock asked.
"I'm going to check a different route he might have taken" Hannibal replied, and with that he disconnected from the call.
Murdock sat for a moment, chewing his lip in deep thought.
"What is it?" BA asked, his concern manifesting itself through the sharp exterior to his heart. He knew one of the team were in danger.
"Its Face, we gotta find him" Murdock said.
"Right" BA said authoritively. "Where do we look?"
After putting away the mobile, Hannibal retired to his star room to change from the aquamaniac suit into his combat gear. He wore tight khaki pants with a military style tank top covered with his usual jacket. Then, leaving the filming without being seen, Hannibal hot-wired the directors car. It would only be for a while, till they found Face, after all.
Part 2: Shocked by Fire
Face lay in the wet grass, after almost having burnt alive in his corvette. He had leapt out of the car at the last moment, falling headlong onto the grass, and was afraid he'd felt his neck snap as his body bent backwards through the impact. He was choking on blood as he looked up and saw the men from the Sedans survey the area. They didn't see him, luckily. They weren't typical MPs. Face knew they had been hitmen.
As the car's drove away, the men inside assuming Face was dead, Face suddenly realised he was all alone. The feeling intensified as he began to develop a fever.
"Fifty clicks from Denang, Charlie in area" Face mumbled, his thoughts and visions returning to vietnam. "Fuck, Colonel we're in the dodge now. They comin' closer"
Face tried to move, but his limbs wouldn't work. He couldn't feel anything except the rising heat from guns in a jungle he had left 15 years ago.
"Trying Colonel, shit, can't move. Fuck, don't leave me, Charlie comin' closer, Charlie on me now. No, fuck they got me .... Colonel!!!"
Face's arm moved in a jerking spasm, as he tried in vain to move. The vision was intensifying, figures becoming lifelike, the VC troops moving in for the kill "Fuck, someone help me"
Hannibal was having a troublesome time watching the road and off the road for signs of Face. His attention divided into two tasks almost got him killed on more than one occasion.
Before long, however, he spotted what used to be the corvette, in flames and smoke bellowing in a steep drop from the road.
Hannibal immediately got out of the car, and edged his way to the drop, looking at the car in flames. He could feel the rising panic, but his instincts were taking over, and as in many other vital situations the other members of the team had depended on him, his feelings were being overshadowed by a pure survival instinct.
Hannibal reached for the phone in the car. "BA, Murdock, found the vette. No, its completely written off and I can't see Face. There's a steep drop off the road here, so I'm going to need some rope. Yep, highway 55, just off the third junction" Hannibal put the phone down.
Just then, a hideous scream pierced hannibal's ears. He raced to the drop and leant over, trying to see past the burning corvettem scouring the grounds for signs of life.
"Nooooo, fuckin' hell. Leave me alone!!" Face cried out. Hannibal had no idea what was happening, but he had to get down there. Face was really in danger, and sounded as if he was being attacked.
The A-Team van sped into view suddenly, and Murdock leapt out of the van followed closely by BA.
"Where is he?" BA asked, looking with a sudden fear at the burning corvette.
"I heard him a second ago, he screamed out. Don't know what their doing to him down there, but they'll be sorry" Hannibal swore.
BA attached a rope to the front of the van and then threw it over the drop. The rope reached the ground easily.
"Ok, I'm going down there with Murdock" Hannibal said. "BA stay here and get ready to pull us up"
Hannibal went first, climbing down the rope with the expertise of an abseiler. When he reached the bottom of the drop, he signalled to Murdock, who made his way down as well.
Hannibal edged past the blazing corvette and scoured the ground for Face. He stopped when he saw the broken figure of Face, in a sort of fit, on the ground before him. Hannibal raced to Face's side.
"Face, can you hear me?" He asked, waving frantically at Murdock to come over to them.
"Charlie, Charlie in area. Gotta warn the Colonel" Face mumbled, unaware of Hannibal's prescence by his side.
"Face, listen to me. There aint no VC here. Face, can you hear me, the war's over." Hannibal gently explained, checking Face's forehead.
"He's running a fever Murdock. He's very hot. We'll have to get him out of here soon"
"Looks like he's halluninating about vietnam too, Colonel" Murdock said.
Hannibal nodded, his voice no more than a whisper. "Shouldn't have to go back there, Murdock. He's been through enough"
Face jerked to one side suddenly, a scream escaping his lips. "Noooo, don't touch me. Fuck you, I aint saying nothin'. Fuck you."
Hannibal and Murdock tried to restrain Face, lest he hurt himself struggling. His expression was paling, and his lips were an icy blue.
"Face, listen to me" Hannibal said, as commanding under the circumstances as he could be. "There's no VC, your safe with us. Face can you hear me?"
Face's eyes suddenly opened, and he looked directly at Hannibal. "Leiutenant Tempelton Peck, number 410495, reporting for duty sir"
Hannibal nodded, a slight blur in his eyes clouding his vision as he lifted face slightly from the ground to put onto a makeshift stretcher BA had handed down on the rope.
"How's he doin' down there?" BA asked, alarmed by the cries.
"Face, I want you to reach out and grasp my hand" Hannibal ordered.
Face looked confused. "Face, who's Face? Name's Pack sir, been assigned to Colonel John Smith's unit"
Hannibal fought back a rising tide of despair as he struggled to remain calm. "OK, Peck, reach out and grasp my hand"
Face tried to move his arms but they were too heavy and limp. "I can't do it sir, what's it mean?"
Hannibal shook his head. "Nothing, you call me Hannibal, not sir, OK? Hannibal."
Face repeated the word, Hannibal. Hannibal watched the young man for the slightest look of recognition, but none was there. Face didn't know who he was.
"Who are you?" Face asked Murdock weakly.
"HM Murdock ... oh, come on Face, you know me?!" Murdock said, exasperated.
"Why do you keep calling me Face" Face asked, his eyes rolling into his head as he passed out.
"We gotta get him to the van" Hannibal ordered as the Captain and himself attached the stretcher securely and BA started to haul the stretcher up.
BA held the stretcher securely, then placed the injured man in the van. Hannibal and Murdock were climbing the rope now, Hannibal first, until they were pulled up one-by-one by BA's strong arms.
The van sped off, BA was the driver ensuring the van moved smoothly along the roads. Hannibal and Murdock watched Face worridly.
Face looked again at his commanding officer without a hint of recognition.
"What's happened to me?" Face asked weakly, his mind racing with terrifying possibilities.
Hannibal placed a reassuring arm on Face's shoulder. "Leiutenant, whatever has happened - we'll work it out together, as a team. That's what we've always done"
Face nodded, his head was swimming from the fever and fear of not being able to remember the faces worridly looking at him.
Suddenly his eyes dulled and Face began to thrash wildly. "In the dodge now, need to get to the unit before its too late"
Hannibal and Murdock held Face down, as he moaned and thrashed from side to side.
"Lets get him to a doctor, BA" Hannibal commanded. BA nodded, and drove in slience.
They finally arrived at a small village, reminiscent of Bad Rock, and Hannibal and Murdock carried Face out of the van. However this place was called Carltos Village.
"Gee, Colonel" Murdock said, looking around. "I'm having flashbacks now"
"Aint Bad Rock, fool" BA declared, growling at Murdock in the most threatening manner.
Murdock ran ahead of Hannibal and BA, and knocked loudly on the village doctor's door.
The sign on the porch read Dr. Peterson.
Part 3: Aint what it seems to be
Inside the Doctors surgery and combined house, Dr. Peterson stared out of the window at the intruding men upon his premises.
He was a balding man, no more than fourty-five years of age with a deep moustash and bright glinting eyes. He looked at the injured Face with a gleam in his eye.
Before answering the door, Peterson stepped over to the phone and picked up the receiver. He quickly dialed a number as Murdock pounded on the door.
"Hello, Colonel Jacks? Hi, its Peterson here. I just had a trio of military sorts come over, looks like the A-Team. Yep, you can have them, if I can have the injured one. Why? There's some new drugs I want to experiment with. He's perfect - dellusional and feverish"
Peterson put down the receiver and walked over to the door. When he opened it, BA and Hannibal forced themselves inside the door, knocking Peterson aside.
"Excuse me, our friend here has had a bad car accident. He needs urgent medial help" Hannibal explained, as he and BA moved Face onto the sofa.
Peterson walked up to Face and looked at him with interest. "Ah, yes. He's undergone extreme shock. His limbs should recover on their own, see how his arms are moving? He's in some dellusional state, that's all"
Face moaned. "Charlie, noooo ....."
Peterson tried to look sincere. "You were in vietnam?"
Hannibal looked at Peterson, and for the first time detected something slightly strange about the Doctor. He saw an evil glint in Peterson's eye, before Peterson hid the expression. Hannibal trusted his instincts, and when he had bad instincts about a person, he was usually right.
Face looked up at Peterson. "Noooo, you were the Doctor that was found guilty of malpractice!"
Peterson went white as a sheet. He had thought everyone who had known about his prior disgrace when he was found guilty of practising new drugs on soldiers, was dead. All except this one.
Peterson flew at Face, but Murdock moved between them, knocking Peterson easily to one side.
"What's up Doc" Murdock hissed, anger evident in his voice.
Peterson was shaken by the recognition, and went to the drugs cabinet for a powerful sedative. "I'd better put him out" he said.
Hannibal and BA now moved in front of Murdock and Face.
"What's the syringe for, Doctor?" Hannibal asked. "I remember you now. Dishonourable discharge, malpractice, murder - you had quite a rap sheet if I remember"
BA was fuming. It wasn't even the fact that the Doctor had tried to assault Face, it was that he hadn't remembered who the Doctor was - until this moment.
"Take one step towards Face and your dead sucker" BA warned. "That syringe will be up your arse if you come to close to us"
Peterson knew the game was over. Yet, he refused to give up. He lunged clumsily at Hannibal with the loaded syringe. Hannibal dodged the attack swiftly, and BA grabbed the needle from the Doctors hand and rammed it up his backside, as promised.
The Doctor gave a startled cry, and then fell unconscious to the floor.
Face groaned. His visions were clearing slightly, this new shock had bought him out of his hallucinations, but his back was throbbing painfully.
Murdock put an arm around Face and brought him to his feet. "We need to get out of here, Colonel"
As if Murdock had foreseen what was to come, two unmarked sleek black sedans edged their way towards Peterson's surgery and stopped just outside.
As the A-Team departed from Peterson's, seven guns were trained on the four men. They stopped in their tracks as a man approached them, and handcuffed the three men, apart from Face. "My name is Colonel Jacks" he said "And your all under arrest"
Part 4: Fatal Realisations
Face was left to the care of the reviving Doctor Peterson, who was rubbing his backside gingerly after the syringe was thrust up it by an angry BA.
The rest of the A-Team were taken northward, and as the light of day began to fade a worrying possibility began to flood Hannibal's mind.
Colonel Jacks looked at the three men proudly. "Boy, are we lucky to get marks this good. The hunt is really gonna be worth it"
"We're not arrested are we?" Hannibal said suddenly. "You are all part of an undercover unit, training men with live prey, or something like that, aren't you?"
"Something like that" Jacks said distantly, unwilling to give much information away as yet.
Finally, the long drive came to an abrupt end near the end of the road, at a seemingly normal campsite. A closer inspection would have yielded soldiers carrying AK47's, Uzi's and even an old battered tank stood lonesome and powerful as the metal rusted slightly from age.
Hannibal warily exited the sedan, followed by Murdock and BA. Colonel Jacks stood in front of them a pistol pointed at Hannibal's head.
"You were right, Colonel" Jacks said, his voice deviod of emotion, sorrow or regret. "This is a training ground where we practice on guys like you. You present a challenge for us Colonel Smith, and today we're going to take you up on that challenge"
Four off-the-road vehicles ground to a halt behind Jacks. Inside were men with loaded weapons, excited by the idea of the hunt.
"You get three minutes, Smith" Jacks declared. "Then we'll come after you and kill you"
Hannibal motioned for Murdock and BA to follow him as he sprinted away from the roaring vehicles into a deep forest.
"Why are we going this way, Hannibal" BA puffed, trying to keep up with the agile Colonel "We'll get lost in this forest"
Hannibal nodded "We might, but the trees are too close to get the vehicles in here. They'd all have to follow on foot. That's when we'll surprise them"
Murdock nodded. "Ah, a little game of hide and seek, Colonel. I like that idea"
BA shook his head as he ran alongside his team members. "Just hope Face can hold on till we get to him"
Face was having the most miserable experience in his life. Just as the team were winning, Jacks had arrived and thrown him at the mercy of the wolf - being Peterson of course.
Peterson was really pissed off. He had a throbbing backside from the needle BA had shoved up his ass, and his head was slightly throbbing.
"I've told Jacks to bring back your friends heads" Peterson hissed at Face. "Although by that time, you'll have ceased to care about anything at all"
Peterson advanced on Face with another loaded syringe. "This is gonna hurt a lot. Something I've always wanted to experiment on - the human threshold of pain!"
Face groaned, but didn't move as Peterson injected him with the experimental substance.
Part 5: Summit of Discovery, Part I
Hannibal, BA and Murdock made their way quickly through the forest, the light from the sun breaking through the tree tops. However, the forest was becoming denser, and the light began to fade.
All felt a chill like the coldest winter as their minds raced with rememberences of watching The Blair Witch Project.
BA stopped suddenly. "This is crazy, man. They aint comin'. I can't even hear the engines. We've outrun them"
Hannibal stopped, realising BA was right. Then he looked around from side to side. "Where's Murdock?"
Murdock continued to run, until the engine noises had died away into the sounds of the forest, birds singing and a distant howl from a wolf.
Then he turned around and realised that BA and Hannibal were no where to be seen.
"Hannibal ...." He called out to the forest, only to get no reply. Murdock knew he was taking a chance by calling out, since the team's captors were likely to be following, but the forest was so uninviting and chilled he saw no other recourse.
Suddenly a startled bird flew past his right arm, and Murdock fell surprised to the ground twisting his ankle badly. "Shit" he swore as he heard approaching men, and he knew instantly they weren't BA and Hannibal.
Hannibal had actually heard Murdock's cry, and had also heard the approach of Jacks and his men. Deciding not to give away his position, Hannibal had remained silent, signalling BA to join him. Together they went towards the location of the cry for help.
"Hannibal ..." Murdock said weakly. His ankle was proving to be quite painful, but he tried to scramble undercover of a small thicket. However, Murdock knew that Jacks and his men were trained far too well to miss his hiding place, and also realised they would kill him on sight.
Hannibal stopped suddenly. "Murdock's voice is coming from here" He said, pointing a finger to the left. "And Jacks and his guys are coming from this way" Hannibal said pointing right. "We're slap bang in the middle here. If these guys get past us and Murdock is hurt, they'll nail him. We've got to stop them here"
"How we gonna do that, Hannibal?" BA asked, knowing full well that Hannibal was on the jazz, and was already thinking of a plan.
"Right, BA. We need to set up a little surprise for our captors" Hannibal said, moving over to a low tree branch and pulling it to his right. Just before the tree branch cracked,
Hannibal stopped and undid his belt, tying it around the branch and a near tree trunk.
BA did the same, taking off his belt and pulling a branch back.
"Hannibal ..." Came Murdock's weak voice behind them. Hannibal turned.
"I'll have to get him to pipe down, come on BA, lets get Murdock first"
BA was just about to leave, when he saw Hannibal mounting a loaded gun.
"What you doing there Hannibal?" BA asked, watching his leader poise a stick over the trigger. The gun was pointed in the direction of Jacks and his men.
"Just leaving with a bang" Hannibal stated, finished with his task and running alongside BA.
Murdock painfully moved inch by inch towards the thicket as BA and Hannibal emerged. Hannibal knelt at Murdock's side.
"You OK, Captain?" He asked. The formal question made Murdock's soldier instincts kick in, and he momentarily forgot the pain.
"Colonel, I've twisted my ankle" He responded, looking slightly white from forcing himself to move to get out of danger.
Hannibal and BA helped Murdock up. "Think you could carry him BA?" Hannibal asked.
To prove a point, BA swung Murdock over his shoulder, and onto his back, as if he were giving Murdock a piggy back. He held Murdock's one leg, the one with the twisted ankle, quite delicately.
Hannibal nodded with a slight smile, he knew BA was always ready to prove his strength. "Right, we'd better get a move on, and try to take these guys out one at a time. Then we'll be able to get back to Face"
"Hope he's OK" Murdock moaned.
Face was definately not OK. The drug injected into his arm was giving him terrible halluncinations. Worse still was the pain, it was so bad he couldn't move. He was gasping for breath.
Peterson looked on, definately pleased with himself, taking notes of Face's reaction to the drug. Every scream bought an evil smile to Peterson's face.
The rest of the A-Team had finally made their way out of the jungle, leaving various traps behind them as they went along.
Murdock atop BA looked like an ant on a mountain, as they suddenly discovered a winding rode deeply set into the forest before them.
"Excellent" Hannibal rubbed his hands in glee "Now we can follow this road and get out to rescue Face"
Suddenly a gun exploded a little way behind them, Hannibal realised the first trap had been activated. BA and Hannibal ran faster down the road and away to freedom.
Jacks had six men with him, all armed and dangerous, real hunters who wanted some real action. They were dangerous types, all with convictions that would fill a novel.
Jacks rounded a corner, and noticed the foliage had been tampered with. Signalling for his least liked man to take the lead, they trudged on - eyes searching the forest for any movements, guns at the ready.
Unexpectedly, a large tree branch swung around and hit the man in the head with the impact of a karate kick. The man fell to the ground, stunned as Jacks and the other five men stood back. The man whimpered a little then drew still. Jacks drew forward warily and felt the man's neck.
"He's alive" Jacks said. "Come on lets keep moving"
One of the new recruits, a young man called Charles looked at the man hardly breathing on the ground with horror. "Are we just leaving this guy?" He asked, shocked.
Jacks sighed angrily, took his gun and shot the injured man in the head. "The guys dead, Charles. Lets go"
Charles looked on with horrified eyes, and followed Jacks without hesitation, wishing he had stayed at home and hadn't joined this unit.
Another man called Pete took the lead now, and moved warily forward. A sharp branch came down suddenly and went straight through Pete's stomach. He yelped, surprised, and then fell to the floor, dead.
Jacks lookd towards his four remaining men with an evil look. "Anyone wishes to back out, I'll kill ya right now"
The four men knew Jacks was a trained killer, and didn't say a word.
Jacks looked towards Charles. "You take the lead"
"Me?" Charles stammered, afraid.
Jacks looked unmercifally towards the young man.
"Go on, or I'll kill you"
Charles gulped nervously and moved to take the lead, watching warily the gun in Jacks hand.
Part 6: Summit of Discovery, Part II
Hannibal and BA continued to run down the road, the instinct telling them Face was in trouble only served to strengthen them, and spur them on.
Murdock was slipping out of BA's grip, so BA stopped and lifted him a little higher and then proceeded on.
"If that Doctor does anything to Face ....." Murdock swore weakly. Hannibal was touched by the dedication of his team to one another. He felt the same, and he knew, if that Doctor had even touched Face all of the team would want to kill him.
Face was in agony, screaming in pure pain as blinding as the sun. The pain covered his skin like liquid burning into his flesh. His vision dimming and clouding with tears. He managed to call out Hannibal's name before another painful spasm took hold of him, and he tore at his own skin, wanting to kill himself to free himself of the pain.
Hannibal and BA found themselves running in the direction of Carltos Village, and continued. The closer they came to Face, the more strength they mustered to run faster. Murdock winced with pain as he bounced atop BA like he was at the fair on a bouncy castle.
As they entered the village and neared Dr Peterson's practice, BA and Hannibal stopped in horror as they heard the most horrific screams.
BA lowered Murdock to the ground and ran at the door, using all his strength to batter the metal hinges. The door fell inward with BA's force, and Hannibal ran inside, grasping Peterson by the collar and dragging him over to the window.
BA tossed Hannibal a small gun from a desk draw, and then went over to aid Face who was thrashing around in obvious agony.
"Hannibal, he's ripping himself open!" BA gasped horrified, as Face sought out his eyes with his bloody fingers. Before he could rip them from the sockets, BA grabbed his wrists, forcing Face's hands away from his eyes.
"Please ...." Groaned Face. "Let me die"
"What you do to him, Peterson?" Hannibal asked, the anger rising, seeking Peterson's death for release.
Peterson had paled drastically. No-one had ever escaped Jacks and his hunters before, yet these two men were before him, threatening him by their return. Hannibal had the small gun pointed directly at Peterson's head.
"Just a small experiment" Peterson exaplained nastily. "Your friend is going through an experiment on pain"
Hannibal took Peterson by the collar and jerked him upwards so they were eye-to-eye. "Undo what you've done now, or I'll kill you" Hannibal said menacingly.
From the tone in Hannibal's voice, Peterson was positive the threat was not idle.
"Ok" Peterson gave in, with a huge sigh, and walked over to a small medicine cupbourd reluctantly. He opened the cupboard door, and removed a small bottle, and a needle.
"Hannibal, if that hurts Face any more I'll kill him" BA warned.
Hannibal was suddenly suspicious. "What is that, Doctor?"
Peterson shook his head, perspiring with fear. "The antidote, although it is still in a test phase too"
BA rose, and looked as if he was ready to kill the Doctor when Hannibal laid a restraining arm upon his shoulder.
"We aint got a choice, BA. Face will die if we don't" BA knew Hannibal was right. And he sank back beside Face, holding him securely in his large arms.
Hannibal wasn't yet through with Peterson, however. He turned towards the Doctor, gun in hand. "Anything goes wrong, I'll kill you"
Peterson gulped, and moved backwards seeing the glint in Hannibal's eye. He had never seen anyone so calculated. Then he stepped over to the writhing Lieutenant, and administered the antidote.
For a moment, Face was uncontrollable even to BA and a single horrified scream escaped his lips, then he fell silent as if in a deep sleep.
Hannibal looked towards BA. "BA .... ?" he asked.
BA felt Face's pulse and laid his ear over Face's heart and nodded towards Hannibal. "He's breathing, but he's weak"
Hannibal signalled to BA. "The van's outside BA, get him into it - and then do the same for Murdock. I'll join you in a minute"
BA looked at Hannibal, surprised. He had expected the Colonel to make amove as soon as possible once they had retrieved Face, but he had other business with Peterson.
Nevertheless, BA picked up Face and walked out of the practice relived to be away from it.
Jacks and his remaining four men continued through the forest warily, Charles taking the lead. Jacks was becoming more uneasy by the second, whilst Charles had decided to accept the fact he was about to die.
The trap was as simple and cunning as it proved to be a killer. A small sharpened branch, pulled back on a kind of bo was triggered by Charles walking through a small piece of coil.
The branch swung on a deadly path towards Charles, but at the last moment Charles moved slightly out of the way. The sharpened end scratched him arm a little, but the full force hit another man in the heart.
Jacks watched one of his strongest men fall with rage. He had hoped Charles would have taken the blow. Jacks looked at Charles with a silent rage, and signalled for him to take the lead again.
Hannibal remained motionless. The gun was trained on Peterson, but he said nothing at all. Peterson grew nervous.
"What do you want?" He asked Hannibal softly, his voice strained with fear.
"I want to see you die" Hannibal replied, in a voice just as soft. Peterson looked at Hannibal in undisguised terror.
"Unfortunately we don't operate that way. Nothing more in the world would please me than watching you die. I'll leave you to the authorities. Once they find out what's been going on between you and Jacks, you'll wish you was dead"
Peterson sighed with relief as Hannibal left through the front door unhurridly, making his way to the van where BA was waiting, ready to drive.
Part 7: Healing Wounds
BA sped the van away from Carltos Village, and into another small town. They booked a room in the village motel, hid the van and then tried to tend to Face.
Face was just blankly staring forward now that he had been sedated once again. Hannibal looked worridly at him as Murdock and BA put him on the bed gently. Face's eyes were locked onto Hannibal, but no acknowledgment of who he was came from his torn expression.
Hannibal sat beside Face and signalled to the others that he wished to be alone to speak to Face.
Once BA and Murdock had left the bedroom, and closed the door, Hannibal put his hand on Face's arm.
"Do you recognise me, Lieutenant?" Hannibal asked, formality ensuring his emotions would not become uncontrollable.
Face nodded slightly, eyes still staring straight forward. "A little" he said in a broken voice.
Hannibal moved a stray strand of hair from Face's eyes back into place, marvelling at how perfect it looked even after this ordeal.
Suddenly Face looked directly up at Hannibal, his eyes locked onto his commander with terrible fear. "What happened to me?" He asked.
Hannibal shook his head in failure, wishing he was outside with Murdock and BA. "We failed you".
Face tried to smile, the desperation in Hannibal's expression instilling a small knot of fear in his heart, but the smile became a grimace.
"A lot of memories came back, Hannibal" Face said suddenly. "A lot of memories I had mercifully forgotton about Vietnam, and before"
Hannibal looked at Face, his heart expanded as he saw and recognised the expression he rarely saw in Face "Do you want to talk about it?"
Face nodded, but he was still unsure. Was he ready to disclose some of the worst events of his life? He knew that the time had come, and he owed Hannibal this after all.
"Before I joined the army I fell in love with Leslie Becknall, remember her?" Face asked.
Hannibal nodded briefly. He remembered far too well the nun who had stolen Face's heart in one of their earlier missions. And had stolen his heart way before then, too.
"She was everything to me. I had plans to make her my wife, but she had plans to become a nun instead." Face explained, although Hannibal knew this story too well already.
"Well, at the time she left me I was completely crushed. I had no where to turn and no one to turn to. I made a decision that I regret today"
Hannibal knew what Face was about to tell him. The small scars on his wrist betrayed his actions, and Hannibal was afraid to find out the truth.
"I decided that I was going to kill myself. The only person in the world I had ever cared for was gone, and I was alone. So I took the knife and cut my wrists. I sat down on the floor in my room and waited to die. However, one of my friends had come around and called the ambulance. The paramedics arrived just after my heart had stopped beating, and revived me."
Hannibal nodded, tears welling in his eyes.
"Something happened between the time my heart stopped and the time they revived me" Face continued.
"What?" Hannibal asked.
"I saw my body beneath me, and looked around and saw the entire room, my friend crying and yelling for help. He couldn't see me looking down at him and my dead body."
Hannibal was amazed, and didn't try to conceal his amazement from Face. "An after-death experience?"
Face looked confused. "Not for long, the paramedics arrived soon after, revived me and hauled me off to hospital. A week later I decided to join the army"
"Why did you decide to join the army?" Hannibal asked.
"Becuase I was too much of a coward to slit my wrists or my throat after that, but I still wanted to die. I guess I thought I would die when I was sent to 'Nam. I had no will to live .... then I was assigned to your unit"
Hannibal nodded, waves of memories finding their way into his heart. His hand moved to Face's forehead, and rubbed the skin lightly.
"When we were caught, y'know, fifty clicks from Denang, when Charlie caught us ..... I hoped we would die there too. But you got us free, and kept us alive and gave me something more. Maybe you gave me a will to live. Suddenly I began to realise I didn't want to die anymore"
Hannibal accepted this appreciation with a dismissive shake of the head.
"It seemed as if the rapes, torture and wounds I experienced over there strengthened me somehow" Face explained. Hannibal started when he heard the word 'rapes'.
"Rapes?" Hannibal asked. "Surely not ...."
Face nodded weakly. "They would bring me out of the pit where they kept us, take me to the General's office and take off my clothes for him. They would get me to kneel and ....."
Hannibal's heart felt like it was about to explode with rage as he cupped his hand over Face's mouth to stop him talking. In an instant he regretted his action, and withdrew his hand, but Face looked at him coldly.
"You wouldn't understand. I feel and felt so ..... alone" Face finally said, and then stopped speaking.
"Your not alone, we're with you" Hannibal explained in a voice, no more than a whisper.
"That Peterson guy, he gave me the most horrible recollections of what happened over there, along with the pain, so much pain. All I wanted to do was die again, just to die"
Hannibal shook his head, and a single tear rolled down his cheek. How could he have failed someone so badly?
"That's it" Face said choked. He buried his head into the pillow, and Hannibal rolled him back over so they were facing each other once more. He put his arms around the younger man and drew him close to his heart in a strong embrace. Then he closed his eyes, and he could hear Face's heart beating gently against his own. He could feel the younger man's pain and anguish and wished only to remove the horrors he had endured.
However Face was still unable to relax in such a close embrace, and stiffened considerably when Hannibal moved his hand through Face's hair. Then he relaxed totally, and melted into Hannibal's embrace and started to cry.
Murdock and BA stayed outside and listened to the dialogue between the two men.
"We shouldn't be hearing this" BA said and walked off to make several checks on the van.
"Shouldn't?" Murdock wondered "Or can't?" He remained where he was and listened. For the first time he heard Face cry. It was too much, and he opened the bedroom door, and embraced Hannibal and Face.
Jacks followed Charles as the pale man led the way through the forest. They made it to the outskirts without further incident, and then walked angrily back to Carltos Village to Peterson's.
Jacks looked at Peterson sitting, as pale as death on a chair, and walked over to him.
"What's wrong Doctor, your prey escape?" Jacks asked ruthlessly.
Peterson glared at Jacks. "If you'd done your job right, that guy would be dead by now."
Jacks shook his head. "Your what's classed as a third wheel Peterson. You could get us into a lot of trouble, so here's the problem. What do we do with you now?"
One of Jacks remaining men, a tall blond haired man called Andrew looked inside the medicine cabinet and pulled out a bottle marked X1.
"How about we give him a taste of his own medicine, literally" Andrew called, tossing the bottle to Jacks, and taking out a syringe.
Peterson squirmed in fear. "You can't do this, Jacks"
Jacks shook his head. "You have been a complete asshole for a long time. I've waited for an excuse to put you down for ages"
Andrew and the last remaining man with Jacks called Scott held down the Doctor as Jacks loaded the syringe and put it into Peterson's arm.
Peterson gave a small cry and turned bright red. His eyes expanded, and he looked like he would explode.
Charles had had enough. He ran out of the door and down the road, away from the practice, away from Jacks. Jacks watched him leave with an evil gleam in his eyes.
"Well boys, looks like we have a new target"
Peterson was coughing up blood as he tried to make it to the medicine cabinet. Before he even touched the handle, he died in his own blood.
Part 8: A New Target
Charles heard the jeeps engine start behind him, and ran into a wooded area as he had seen the A-Team do previously. The jeeps ground to a halt, and Charles heard men shouting to follow him as he sped away.
After an hour of peace, Face was restless. He ached to get up to show the team he was perfectly fine. Even though his body was a mess and his mind was on the brink of madness.
Murdock entered the room with a cheery smile, whistling happily as he set some fresh flowers on the table next to Face. Face looked at the beautiful flowers with a smile of acknowledgment toward Murdock. Murdock sat down beside him.
"How are you now, Face?" Murdock asked.
"OK. Think I'm getting over it, I can get up ...." Face demonstrated this point by trying to lift himself up and out of the bed.
"Whhhooooo, easy partner" Murdock said, pushing him back down on the pillow. "You aint got the strength."
Face sighed, nodding as he accepted this and lay back, sighing as his head sank into the soft pillow. Murdock looked at Face, tenderness overcoming all his other tasks and chores as he lay by Face's side. Face had closed his eyes, and Murdock looked at the still and peaceful expression on his friends face and smiled. Then he closed his eyes too.
Hannibal and BA had no intention of letting Jacks find Face again. Leaving Face with Murdock, they decided to return and put a stop to Jacks operation once and for all. BA drove the van, as Hannibal contemplated the situation, a plan slowly forming in his mind.
"What you thinkin', Colonel?" BA asked.
Hannibal shook his head. "Nothin' Just thinkin'. How about you BA, what you thinkin'?"
BA just growled angrily. "Can't believe what's happened to Face. I want to kill Jacks,Hannibal"
Hannibal nodded. He felt the same too, but they were all stronger than that. They wouldn't kill Jacks, but they would make him pay.
As they neared Carltos Village, the woods drew thick around the winding road, and Hannibal shuddered. He hated these woods, a reminder of the sickening events that had happened to his unit.
Charles could not outrun Andrew, Scott and Jacks. Their hands grasped at him and he fell roughly to the ground. Jacks looked in triumph as Andrew and Scott tied Charles to a tree.
"You know anything about forest fires, Charles?" Jacks asked. Charles shook his head, terrified.
"They start up almost anywhere, and for almost any reason. Bolt of lightning, cigarette stub. They wipe out all trees and life in the area." Jacks explained, as he lit a match and threw it at the ground where Charles was tied up. A small pile of leaves caught fire, and Charles watched as the flames began to rise in fear.
"Come on, lets go get those men whilst one is injured" Jacks said, leading his two men away, leaving the deserter, Charles to his fate. Charles began to choke from the smoke of the fire, and tried to stub out the flames in an effort to stop the fire. Instead, his leg caught fire, and his uniform began to blaze. He felt the rising heat becoming gradually unbearable and started to scream.
The A-Team van skid to a halt as they saw the smoke in the distance. BA and Hannibal immediately ran into the woods, and quickened their speed as they heard the scream, followed by an unearthly groan, which both men knew belonged to a dying man. Sickened in their hearts, they ran on until they reached Charles, burning alive, tied to the tree. His expression was unreadable, and Hannibal threw his coat over the burning man, then drew his knife to cut him loose. BA beat at the flames on the young man, until at last they were put out, and the fire was stopped. Hannibal lay the young man down, looking at the fire burns, knowing but not wanting to believe how serious they were.
"Hannibal ..." BA began in a choked voice, but Hannibal shook his head.
BA was almost in tears, and Hannibal laid an arm on his shoulder. "Hannibal, he's just a kid"
Charles opened his eyes and looked at BA and Hannibal with regret. "I'm sorry" he whispered, understanding immediately who they were, and that Jacks had almost killed them using him as one of his soldiers. Charles was racked with guilt
Hannibal shook his head, wondering how long someone could survive with the amount of burns Charles had had. Charles eyes dimmed, and then sharpened as the pain ripped through his body like an electrical current.
"Stop him ...." Charles managed to choke, before he became still and silent. BA and Hannibal looked at the kid, who's name they didn't even know, and each realised a memory of pain in his own heart, of a time long ago, in Vietnam. They had been unable to save a seventeen year old boy, and had watched painfully as he was shot unmercifully by the VC.
Hannibal rose, too choked to say anything for a moment, then he looked towards BA with a steely expression. "Lets stop them for good BA, right now, before they can harm anyone else"
BA nodded and rose, knowing well that this implied they would have to kill Jacks. It was the first time since the war either men had seriously considered such a thing, and BA was really pissed off.
"Lets go and kill 'em, Hannibal" BA said. Hannibal nodded, he covered Charles with his jacket and then BA and himself went away to plan their revenge.
Part 9: Revenge
Jacks, Andrew and Scott had decided upon a radical change of plan. Asking the locals of the village if they had seen anything unusual, one of the locals had pointed them away from the village itself, telling them a black van with red detailing had left quite quickly earlier in the day.
Hot-wiring a car, Jacks and his men left the village taking the same route as the van, towards Face and Murdock, and away from Hannibal and BA. They stopped when they saw the van left by the roadside.
"You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?" Andrew asked.
Jacks shook his head. "Nope. My guess is they saw the fire and went to help Charles. I say we get into the next village - we can't take on four of them, there's only three of us - and they have weapons."
Andrew nodded and climbed into the drivers seat. Scott opened the side door and he and Jacks got inside.
BA and Hannibal ran back just in time to see the van roaring off into the distance.
"What we gonna do Hannibal. They're heading towards Face and Murdock." BA asked.
Hannibal started to run to the previously hot-wired car, followed by BA. "We gotta get there BA, before Face and Murdock get hurt."
The van roared into view of the little hotel, and Murdock rushed out eager to greet his friends and welcome the news that Jacks was dead. However, his smile of joy faded to disbelief when he saw Jacks manic grin from inside the van.
"Shit, under attack" Murdock swore, running back into the hotel, and locking the door behind him.
Jacks grinned as he saw the single figure of Murdock flee the van, and race inside the hotel.
"Looks like one of the boys stayed here. Hows about a little fun guys?" Jacks asked. Andrew and Scott nodded. The van stopped in front of the hotel and the three men walked over to the hotel, and knocked on the door of the room they had seen Murdock disappear into.
Murdock grabbed Face, pulled him upright, waking him up with a start.
"What's happening, Murdock?" Face asked sleepily, looking at his friend's frightened expression and feeling a slight knot of terror in his own heart.
"Its OK, Face. I got it covered ..." Murdock mumbled, checking his gun to ensure it was loaded and ready to fire. The safety clicked off. Murdock pulled the bed onto one side to act as a shield, and then stroked Face's hand gently. Face smiled.
"Is it just me, or in the most desperate situations do we start getting horny?" Face was surprised he had said the words, but Murdock just smiled.
"Its true. Like in the interview, Face, and on your birthday?" Murdock remembered the times when they had become too close instantly, and Face suddenly realised he had never forgotten them. Maybe he'd even dwelt on them.
Face nodded, and Murdock leant forward and kissed him softly on the forehead. "Maybe, one day Face, when we don't need to watch each others backs. Until then, you know I love you .... really love you ... don't you?"
Face shook his head, thinking how crazy it was to be feeling this way about another man. "Of course, makes me think of what it would feel like ... to be with another man ...."
Suddenly the door burst inward, and Jacks, Andrew and Scott entered firing their weapons.
Murdock fired back, and hit Andrew in the chest. He grunted in surprise and fell onto the floor, the gun falling from his hand.
"Good shot!" Face complimented.
"Keep your head down!" Murdock complained, shoving Face down so hard he almost hit his head on the floor.
Murdock tried another shot and hit Scott in exactly the same place as he had hit Andrew. Then looked puzzled as he saw Jacks had disappeared.
"Murdock ......" Face began, but Murdock didn't turn around at once. He knew Jacks was directly behind him.
"Put your weapon down now" Jacks snarled, clicking the safety off. Murdock closed his eyes, and threw away his weapon.
"We're in big trouble Face" Murdock stated as Jacks locked the door to the hotel quietly.
Part 10: Conclusion, Loss of Face
"Now what the hell we gonna do now" Jacks asked Face and Murdock, looking at his two dead men on the floor. The gun was still trained on the two men.
Murdock tried to act cool. "Dunno, wanna game of cards?"
Jacks hit Murdock in the stomach, and winded him. Murdock sank to the floor, trying to catch his breath. Then Jacks viciously kicked Murdock in the head, sending him into the wall.
Face charged at Jacks, but Jacks caught the weakened man, and held the gun to Face's head.
"Say, goodbye sir" Jacks said as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Suddenly the door crashed inward, and BA and Hannibal entered the scene, looking at Jacks with hatred in their eyes. He held Face more securely to him. Murdock was regaining consciousness, and looked surprised at the sudden appearance of BA and Hannibal. "Put the gun down, Jacks" Hannibal warned. Jacks had a manic gleam in his eyes, as Face struggled weakly in his arms. Murdock started to move forward slowly, seeing the look in Jacks eye become resolute, final.
Jacks put the gun to Face's head, and Murdock, Hannibal and BA all started forward as one. Their mouths open in horror and fear as they heard Jacks pull the trigger.
"Noooo....." Murdock yelled as Face fell limp to the floor, Hannibal had reached Jacks and barreled into him, the two of them fell heavily to the floor. Jacks tried to aim the gun at Hannibal, and fired. The shot caught BA in the arm, and narrowly missed Hannibal's head. Hannibal punched Jacks, and Jacks finally fell unconscious.
Hannibal felt time stop when he saw the blood seep from Face's head. Murdock was still screaming the word 'No' and BA was checking for a pulse, heartbeat, anything .... There was nothing. BA pulled himself away, and paced the room trying to control his emotions.
"Hannibal .... Hannibal ... can't be dead" BA kept mumbling, pacing, paling by the second.
Hannibal walked over to Face, and knelt beside the still figure, his legs felt like jelly. He sank beside the Lieutenant and raised him slightly. The blood seeping from his head was fresh and warm. Hannibal felt it between his fingers and looked into Face's calm features. He was peaceful, calm. Hannibal didn't need to search for a pulse. He had seen many men under his command die in Vietnam, and knew the bitter truth already.
For a moment, apart from BA's mumbling and pacing, and Murdock's 'No's, there was a silence, and then Hannibal felt his emotions explode. Fifteen years of restrained emotions came forth in a single scream which chilled BA and Murdock. They stopped and looked over at the Colonel amazed to see him sobbing uncontrollably.
"Hannibal ....." BA began, the sight of someone so proud crying enough to bring him out of his own grief, even for a short time. Hannibal couldn't hear, didn't want to hear. He felt all the years of regret flooding his heart, for this one. This one who had seen and survived so much.
Murdock was curled up on the floor, shaking. His breathing coming in short gasps as he tried to control the inevitable. He was completely losing his mind, and all the therapy over the years had become void in the single moment Face had been shot.
Hannibal felt BA dragging him away from Face and screamed more, desperately reaching out for Face. He saw Murdock shaking on the floor, he saw BA broken and silent now, all his tears spent. He looked at them both, and for once didn't know what to say to them. He kept looking at BA and Murdock, then down at Face, then back to the two grieving men and said in a soft, broken voice ....