Back in 'Nam with no plan
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit piece intended for entertainment purposes only. I don't own the copyrights on the characters of the A-Team, I only play with them for fun.
AN – I am new to the A-Team fandom, and this is my first A-Team story. Last week, I started watching a few episodes online, randomly, then got a copy of the DVD's that arrived yesterday, and so far, I'm enjoying watching the series I loved as a kid, revived crush on Face included (don't we all have one, ah, girls?), and with a new perspective of the ambiguous relationship between Face and Murdock, because I never got that angle when I was 10 years old. I also read a handful of ff stories along the way, focusing on the Get-Face ones, my absolute favourites.
Yesterday, I watched a shameless loop-hole that is bothering me no end: the last episode of season 4, "The sound of thunder", where Murdock gets shot when he must fly the helicopter to get out of hostile territory in Vietnam. In the next shot, they are all back home in the US, and no one is injured, with no clues whatsoever on how they did it. Murdock is not even wearing a sling or showing signs of that injury, so there is a huge time gap in there with no explanations on how they managed to get out of there alive (maybe they all got abducted by aliens or travelled on a wormhole? Because the last time Murdock got shot in the shoulder in a similar way at the end of season 2, they made a big issue about it, and he looked in a very bad shape). So far, I am watching the episodes at random, and I started with the ones they get injured, which seem to happen at the end of each season, (of course, my favourite is the last one of season 5) ;)
I guess this same issue has bothered a lot of people before me, and there could be many stories about this same thing along the 1.7k stories available here, which I don't have time to read, so I'm sorry if I'm writing something similar to someone else, or if it is more of the same. At least, it will be new and original to me, so I'll give it a try. If you know any other stories about this issue, please let me know so I don't waste time rewriting something already done, and I can enjoy reading instead, always easier. And, for this story I will assume nobody else on the team but Murdock knows how to fly a helicopter, but, as I haven't watched the whole series yet, I don't know that for sure.
Oh, and btw, if somebody can tell me what Murdock says right after he gets shot, I would be very grateful, because I don't get it. Does he mention Texas at all? Whoever wrote the subtitles didn't understand him either, nor did the guys dubbing it to Spanish, because it says a completely different thing there. This is the kind of thing that bothers me a lot sometimes, listening to the same words over and over, a hundred times, and I still can't make up the words. Bummer.
One last thing: I am Spanish, based in the UK, so bear with me if my English doesn't sound very American. If some expressions I use are not quite right (especially for B.A, because I am dreading writing his lines of slang), please send me a PM or point bits out in reviews, so I can improve, also on grammar, style, typos… whatever you see wrong and worth mentioning. After all, fanfiction is a learning platform for aspiring writers, and the only way to learn is having someone shamelessly pointing out the flaws to you, and accepting the constructive criticism as it comes.
Thanks, guys. I hope you like this, and I hope I enjoy writing it as well, and the whole thing doesn't become a pain in the arse of a chore with an aggravating headache! (which I anticipate will be the case to create a realistic and convoluted rescue/evacuation plan fit for Hannibal after chapter 1).
And please, after reading, review to keep me happy and motivated to think on a plan. ;)
Murdock cried in pain when the bullet hit his left shoulder. Face turned to look at him, really panicking. Who would fly the helicopter if Murdock was out?
"We may not make it to Texarkana, but I think we'll make it to the plane!" the crazy pilot said, whimpering in pain, downplaying the gravity of the situation.
This cannot be happening! Not now! Face thought while checking the damage with shaky fingers, urgently.
In the meantime, behind them, Tia held his dying father in her arms after he got shot in the back by Colonel Shu.
"Last time I saw you, you tried to kill me," General Fulbright said, struggling to talk. For a moment, he looked at his daughter with pride and then continued. "You are so pretty."
"Not like her old man," Hannibal said.
"Smith, you and your men are good soldiers. I'm glad we ended up on the same side," Fulbright said, his last words before he passed away.
At the cockpit, Murdock rambled something about being a bird with a busted wing, not making any attempts to fly the helicopter.
"Murdock, focus, please!" Face said while applying light pressure to Murdock's wound with his bare hand, enough to be of any help to stop the haemorrhage, but without interfering with the handling of the controls. "You have to get this bird up! Come on! I know you are hurting, pal, but you can do it! We can't stay here!"
"Yes, Sir! We are going up!"
Gritting his teeth, Murdock pulled the collective with an unsteady right hand and they got airborne, hovering over the enemy, but lingering there, still too close to the ground.
"Come on, fool! Whaddaya waiting for? Get us the hell outta here!" B.A cried, already in a panic state the moment they left the ground, due to his overwhelming fear of flying.
"Murdock got shot!" Face cried at the top of his lungs, in case they hadn't noticed at the back.
"What? This no time for jokes, you fool! He can't be no shot! He's flying this shitty tin box, dammit!"
"He's doing his very best here, so, hold on and shut your mouth!" Face barked without looking back, with his own fear too obvious in his voice.
"Tia, let's lay your father on the floor, by our feet," Hannibal said. "This bird may dance, and you can't hold onto him then; he's too heavy for you." After he helped her to do that, he ordered B.A to take the middle seat, between them, so he would not look down through the side doors, and tried to calm him down.
"It's not responding too well, Facey," Murdock said, with an apologetic tone. "Maybe the rudder or the rotors got damaged by those shots. You have to help me with this."
"What should I do?"
"Pull with me."
Face helped him to handle the stick, which was hard to move, with a sluggish response, but together, they managed to pull it further back, so the helicopter finally rose in the sky a safe distance. Although, it wasn't far enough, as the soldiers machine-gunned the chopper again, hitting more vital parts and the fuselage, but none of the crew.
"Shit," Murdock said when he lost control of the helicopter, which spun around like a wheel. "Help me with this again!"
Face tried his best to help his friend, pulling from the stick in the same direction Murdock intended to every time he jerked the stick while stumping on the pedals, until they managed to stabilize the helicopter. Then, Murdock tilted its nose and pushed the stick to go forward, as fast as they could, to get away from that area.
"Well done, muchachos! You got it!" Hannibal said, showing an enthusiasm he didn't really feel, also frightened like the rest of them, but trying to hide it.
"Where to, Colonel?" Murdock asked, still gritting his teeth.
"Hanoi would be nice, if we could get that far. We'll find a hospital there to patch you up, and then we can get a flight home." He looked at B.A by his side, who had fallen into the catatonic state with his fear of flying, a feeling aggravated by the news of an injured pilot. "The big guy here will not be a problem if he stays like this until we get him on that plane."
"Great," Face said, this time looking back while still applying pressure to Murdock's wound.
"Here, use this," Hannibal said, handing Face a bandana, which he took with a blood-soaked hand. "How bad is it?" he asked then, lowering his voice a bit, with his blue eyes locked in Face's.
"It's OK. In-and-out, just a through-hole on the shoulder. He'll be alright," he said in a casual tone, but his eyes said differently. If he doesn't bleed to death first, and if he manages to land this bird safely, those freaked-out blue peepers seemed to say.
"Lieutenant, you better get familiar with those controls," Hannibal said with his serious C.O tone.
Face swallowed hard, nodding, freaking even more, and turned his head back to the front, applying the bandana on Murdock's wound. The cloth got soaked in blood immediately.
"How are you doing, champ?"
"This shitty stick is so sluggish…" Murdock grumbled, shaking it, gasping softly then, resenting the sudden movement of his upper body, which hurt his injured shoulder. He tried to relax then, slouching against his pilot seat.
"I suppose you could give me a crash course on this bird? Just in case, ah?"
"Crash course is not the most appropriate choice of words here, is it, Facey?"
"No, you are right, it's not," Face said, gulping.
"You don't need a crash course. What you need is a flying and landing course, my child," Murdock carried on in a patronizing tone, looking increasingly pale and tired with the effort of flying and speaking while losing so much blood, but he could not control his usual verbal incontinence, even under the grim circumstances.
"Yes, of course. I am perfectly capable of crashing this thing without any further instructions from you. You are absolutely right on that, spot-on. So, what about the flying?"
"It's easy-peasy. For flying, you move the joystick like this: back to go up, forward to go down, and also to go forward, why not, and then left and right, as you please… Easy as pie. Well, at least, in a bird which has not been shot on the wing, like me. And then, of course, you have to use the anti-torque pedals, but luckily for you, this cyclic stick is combined with the collector, so that's one less thing to worry about, but the throttle, that's a funny one, because…"
"I see," Face interrupted, looking at his friend as if he talked in Aramaic. "And for landing?"
"For landing, you have to —."
Murdock didn't finish the sentence because right then something snapped in the transmission to the rudder and he lost control of the aircraft again. The helicopter made a sudden turn, spinning fast, and Face lost his balance, pressing hard on Murdock's wound, leaning heavily on him with that hand. Murdock yelled in pain and went limp, releasing the grip on the stick, making matters worse.
"Holy shit! Sorry, pal. Come on, wake up. Wake up!" Face cried, slapping his friend gently, while the helicopter whirled crazy, but Murdock had fainted. "Shit, shit, shit!" he muttered then, grabbing the stick to stabilize the chopper, frantic, but Face could not control it. Under normal circumstances, he would still have struggled to keep a helicopter flying straight, but that bird was now jumping and twisting in the air in any random direction, like a wild bull at the rodeo, and it was hopeless. Murdock had passed out, they were going down, and the ground was getting too close, too fast.
"Face! Hold it still!" Hannibal cried at the back, pressing against the sides with his arms spread, while Tia held onto her seat for dear life. B.A was stiff in his seat, still catatonic and paralyzed with the fear, and as the helicopter spun out of control, his heavy frame leaned on the colonel, who feared he would be thrown out of the crew compartment at any moment.
"I'm fucking trying here, Hannibal!" Face shouted while fighting with the stick.
After a few more rotations at sickening speed, and Face's desperate attempts to avoid the trees, the chopper crashed hard on a small clearing. The landing skids broke loose on impact, the same as the tail boom, smashed in pieces, and the still spinning rotor blades dug on the soft soil. They got shattered, with fragments flying away in all directions before the wreck of the fuselage came to a standstill, tilted to a side.
Hannibal got up from the soft grass, where he had crash-landed and rolled when he lost the battle to stay inside. A gash on his forehead was bleeding over his eyes, and he wiped the annoying blood that impaired his vision off with his sleeve, while calling for his men. He got no answer, so he approached the wreckage as fast as he could, staggering. B.A's now flaccid body, no longer catatonic, was hanging half way out, with his head and arms dangling down. He was breathing, so Hannibal simply pulled him out and dragged him along the grass to a safe distance without further checking on him. He returned to the helicopter's side and looked for Tia, but she wasn't there. He spotted her lying on the ground, also looking injured but moving already, trying to get up. Ignoring the lifeless body of Fulbright, miraculously still lying inside, he tried to open the door to the smashed cockpit, but it was jammed by the twisted metal. He gave it a few good shakes, and in the end, he managed to yank it open.
"Shit," he cursed under his breath when he saw the state of the two men in there, all covered in pieces of glass from the shattered canopy.
Face lay on top of the controls in an awkward position, bent forwards. Hannibal kept the hope when he found a beating pulse on his neck. He didn't know the extent of his injuries, or if he had damaged his spine, but with the fuel leaking out of the tanks he feared the wreck could explode at any time, so he grabbed him to get him out, but he couldn't. He cursed again when he realized the reason for that was the piece of metal impaling his abdomen, pinning him over the controls. By then, Tia had stumbled to Hannibal's side, trying to help.
"Can you pull that out while I hold him up? We have to hurry, I think this wreck will blow up soon."
Tia held onto the broken control shaft, pulling down while Hannibal lifted Face up, who didn't even flinch when the bar slid out of his abdomen. Hannibal cursed again when he saw the long blood stain coating the metal, making obvious the wound was quite deep. Ignoring the pain in his own ribs and side, he carried the unconscious body of his lieutenant, noticing how his left arm dangled awkwardly, probably broken, and set him down gently, close to B.A. Then, he returned to rescue his pilot.
Murdock was also out with a large blood stain over his shoulder, extending to the back and over the seat, and had numerous, small bleeding lacerations where the shattered glass had cut his pale and clammy skin, but he couldn't see any other gruesome injuries similar to Face's. He pulled his pilot out of the cockpit and then welcomed Tia's help to carry him with the others, as he was quickly running out of strength with all that effort. The moment they got there, the helicopter wreck exploded in a ball of flames. Hannibal dropped to the ground, instinctively trying to protect the bodies of the other injured men with his, but none of the flying metal fragments hit them.
When Hannibal and Tia sat up again, she looked at the flaming bonfire, panicking.
"Don't," Hannibal said, holding her arm as she tried to stand up. "You know he was dead already. There is nothing you can do for him. Let him burn, because we don't have time to bury him." And of course, I can't carry him when I have to carry men who are still alive, he thought in dismay.
"What are we going to do now?"
"Give me a minute here," he said, lying flat on the ground when the tree tops spun around him.
He quickly evaluated the situation: he had two badly injured men to take care of; one unresponsive, but hopefully operational; Madam Kung Fu, as his lieutenant so kindly referred to Tia before; and judging for the pain he felt on his ribs and on his head, and the stubborn blood that ran over his eyes, he wasn't doing so well himself. Despite the initial mechanical failure, they had managed to fly away a few miles from the enemy, which wasn't good enough, and that fire and that column of black smoke would give their position away easily.
The horrible truth was: they were back in 'Nam, in hostile territory, without backup, without weapons —as they had all burned with the helicopter—, and most importantly, without a back-up plan. And he always had to have a plan. He couldn't live without one.
"Shit!" he cursed one more time, wiping the blood off his eyes again. "Damn it!"