PROLOUGE

The young girl waited in the diner. The blue Formica tables were cracked and there was a distinct smell of stale coffee in the air but other than that, it was a comfortable enough place to be.

She drummed her fingers idly on the tabletop not even aware that she was doing it. Her nails were bitten and uneven; a sign of the effect that the events of the last few days had had on her. There was a dishevelled look about her and people who met her could have been forgiven for thinking that this was the way she normally looked. On the contrary, this couldn't have been further from the truth; usually she prided herself on her appearance. She wasn't a stunning beauty but she was pretty.

Her blond hair hung down to her shoulders and was cut in the latest style but instead of being thick and full as it usually was it hung lank and uncombed. Her blue eyes normally sparkling with cheerfulness and just a hint of mischief were today dull and red-rimmed from crying. She wore a blue denim shirt that was rumpled and missing a button. Altogether, she looked nervous, troubled and dishevelled.

It was 8:45 am and she was early, the people she was there to meet weren't supposed to arrive until nine but she'd been here ever since the diner opened at seven. A whole hour and forty-five minutes spent just waiting, five cups of coffee drunk and one slice of toast eaten. It was all she had been able to bring herself to have, she was too tense to eat anything else but she'd known that she had to eat something or she would have fainted.

The door opened and she looked up instantly to see who had entered. An elderly couple shuffled in and took a booth on the other side of the room to her. She forced herself to relax they weren't the people she'd come to see. In all her twenty years of life, the only time she could remember feeling such a mixture of emotions had been when at age eight her father had died whilst fighting in the Vietnam War. That had been a dark, grim time and was something she never wanted to go through again.

Her name was Katherine but no one ever called her that at least not anymore. The last person to call her by her full name was her father. Since he'd died, no one had ever called her that and she now went by Katie.

Around the diner were pictures, images of a sunny beach, the LA skyline at night, even one of Elvis Presley. The whole place reminded Katie of her childhood, Saturday afternoons were often spent in a diner very much like this one. Katie, her mother and her father would all crowd into a booth talking and laughing over the week's events. Even as the image rose in her mind, she knew that it was wrong; a fourth person had been present.

Katie frowned wondering if all the coffee hadn't made her a little delusional. She'd had no brothers or sisters and the Saturday afternoon diner trips were strictly a family deal so friends hardly ever accompanied them. So why was she thinking that a fourth person had been there, a thought rose unbidden in Katie's mind. Tiger. She pushed it away immediately, it made no sense and she didn't have time to ponder over things that didn't make sense. She signalled for the waitress and the woman approached the table chewing bubble gum. She had her dyed blond hair pulled back with an elastic band and she was wearing a bright pink lipstick that clashed with her rose red uniform. A badge announced that her name was Candy and she looked to be a few years older than Katie.

The waitress blew a bubble and popped it as she waited for the girl to give her order. 'Coffee again sugar?' Candy asked when the girl didn't say anything after a minute.

The girl shook her head and the waitress suppressed the urge to faint to the floor in surprise. In the hour and three quarters, that the kid had been here she'd drank numerous cups of coffee and one slice of toast. Candy wouldn't have been surprised if the girl had started bouncing off the walls. Heck, if nothing else, maybe it would liven up the place, the diner certainly needed it. Candy wondered again how she'd ended up here. It wasn't supposed to go this way, she was supposed to get a job modelling but then again LA hadn't been exactly what she'd thought it would be.

'I'll have tea, please.' The girl answered and Candy jotted it down on her notepad. 'Anything else with that, hun?'

'No, that'll be all thanks.'

'Coming right up.' Candy told her and putting her notepad in her pocket, she wondered what it was that had caused this kid to end up in this place in the state that she was. Something had her worried and worried bad.

The door opened and three men stepped in. Katie's head jerked up from where she'd been studying her bitten nails with disinterest. She knew the instant that she saw them that they were the ones. She recognised all three of them from her dad's photograph, the photograph that was now in the back pocket of her jeans. These three men had been giving her the run- around all week. She'd been following instructions; turning up for meetings and no one had been there to meet her. But now, now they were really here, after all this waiting, after nearly giving up hope; they'd turned up.

The first to enter the diner was a tall, distinguished man with white hair and a manner about him that suggested he was someone who liked to take charge. His thumbs were hooked in the back pockets of his jeans. From her dad's photo Katie could identify him as one Colonel Hannibal Smith.

The man that entered behind him was younger, very handsome with blond hair and Katie saw Candy stare at him longingly from her place behind the counter. Katie knew that this man was Lieutenant Templeton Peck; otherwise known as Face.

The last man to enter was a tall, well-muscled black man with an array of jewellery around his neck and rings on every one of his fingers. This was Sergeant BA Barracus. The fourth man Captain HM Murdock wasn't with them and Katie felt an unexpected twinge of regret and unease at this. An image started to form in her mind but she pushed it away and made herself concentrate on the matter at hand.

'Can I get you guys anything?' Candy asked her eyes wandering all over Face. The young man fixed her with a wide, friendly smile. Candy returned it.

The Colonel nodded. 'Two coffees and a glass of milk would do just fine, ma'am.' Candy nodded and hurried away to fix the order. BA tugged on Hannibal's sleeve and inclined his head towards the booth where Katie was waiting wondering whether she should just leave and not bother to speak to them. Too late, they were heading right for her table.

'Katie Anderson?' Hannibal asked and Katie managed a nod. Hannibal intimidated her a little. Hannibal and BA took the seat across from her and Face sat down beside her. She realised that her hands were shaking and fought to control them.

'There's no need to be worried kid, we're here to help you.' Face said gently evidently noticing her nervous state.

'I, I didn't know if you'd be able to show up. I know it's been a long time but you all knew my dad and I thought maybe you could help me.'

'We were sorry to lose your father, Katie and anything that we can do for Tony's daughter we will.' Hannibal said gravely.

'I understand that you were all at the funeral; you'll have to forgive me if I don't remember you. I was only eight and I wasn't exactly aware of much that was going on.'

'Understandable.' The Colonel answered. 'What can we do for you?'

'Yeah, you kinda young to be in much trouble, little mama.' BA Baracus finally spoke up; he had been regarding her intently since he had sat down.

'I'll be twenty-one in three months time but to answer your question; my mother's the one whose in trouble. She's been kidnapped and it's all because of my lunatic of a step-father.'

'Yes I had heard that she'd remarried.' Hannibal said with a touch of distaste in his voice, he obviously didn't agree with her mother's choice of husband the second time around.

Katie nodded. 'He's not been a wonderful husband certainly nothing like my father. He lost his job and started drinking heavily about a year after she married him. He always treated me as if I wasn't really a part of his family.

He's got himself in some pretty shady deals trying to get some money and this last one was the worst. My mom actually threw him out a few months ago, then two days ago, I came home, and she wasn't there. There were signs of a struggle and they left a note.' Katie paused and reached into her pocket and pulled out a piece of paper, she handed it to Hannibal who read it before handing it to BA. 'They want money in return for her safekeeping; they're obviously prepared to kill her if their demands aren't met.

The colonel was about to speak when Candy arrived with their drinks. He waited until she'd gone which was longer than it should have been due to Candy's obvious interest in Face. Finally, he looked at Katie. 'Do you have any idea where he might have taken her?' He asked sipping at his coffee.

'A friend of his, old gambling buddy, had an apartment in San Diego. If they were going to take her anywhere, I would say there. As you can see from the note, he's obviously got himself in deep. I tried to get hold of him but I can't find him and then I thought about you guys, I'd heard Mom speak about you helping people. I need your help here and I want you to know that I'm willing to pay whatever price you suggest, just help me to get her back.'

Hannibal nodded thoughtfully as he sipped his coffee. 'You don't need to pay us anything, you and your mother are old friends of ours and I'm not prepared to take money from my friends especially when they can't really afford to give it in the first place.'

'Does that mean you'll help me?' Katie asked hopefully and her blue eyes sparkled with grateful tears.

Hannibal grinned at her. 'Oh we'll help you Katie there's no question about it. I don't think even Face would be willing to argue against this one. BA, what do you think?'

'Don't you worry we'll get that mud sucker and get him good.'

'Face?' Hannibal asked looking at the lieutenant.

Face hesitated, saw the look in BA's eye and smiled charmingly. 'Oh I think we can arrange something.'

'Thank you.' Katie managed. 'I've been so worried, if you weren't going to help me then I don't know what I would have done.' She ran a hand through her hair. 'So what now?'

Hannibal pulled a paper napkin out of its holder and looked at Katie. 'Got a pen?'

Katie reached into her purse and handed him a pen. 'Here.'

'Thanks, now I'm going to write down an address and a time.' His voice dropped an octave and he leaned in closer. 'You understand our predicament so you understand that if you're not there at this time we'll have to leave and contact you later.'

Katie nodded. 'I understand.'

'Good. Memorise the address and then burn this, I don't want anyone overhearing me telling you the address and I don't want anyone finding this by accident, got it?'

'Got it, what then?'

'We've got one other of our team to assemble and then we'll decide where to go from there.'

'I don't see why we have to have that crazy fool with us anyway.' BA grumbled in an annoyed tone. 'We don't have to fly anywhere so why do we need a pilot?'

'Now BA.' Hannibal admonished in a low tone. 'Murdock is as much a part of this team as you are. It doesn't matter that we're not flying he should be with us.'

'Just as long as I don't have to fly.' BA growled.

'I promise, no flying.' Hannibal told him soothingly. 'Now, Katie meet us at this address.' He handed her the paper napkin and she looked at it for a minute committing the address to memory.

'I'll be there Colonel.'

Hannibal nodded and then got to his feet. 'Until then be careful.' He held out his hand for her to shake. 'Congratulations kid, you just hired the A-Team.'

She stayed sitting as the three men left the diner. She stared at the piece of paper for a moment before putting it in her the pocket of her jeans with the photo of the A-Team. Her eyes were drawn to the man in the middle, tall and lean, he had blond hair. Still the picture didn't seem right, it never did no matter how hard she looked at the man called Murdock he never seemed right in that uniform. She shook her head; no doubt, the answer would reveal itself in time.