~This is my first attempt at a Vietnam era story for the guys. I tried to do some research before starting, but if you see any glaring (or minor) errors with any of my information, please feel free to let me know. I would really appreciate the help. While I will try and keep this fairly canon, some of the aspects of the show were a little hard to mesh with the realities of the Vietnam War. I'm hoping that this is a fair mix of both worlds.
~Well, I hope you enjoy this, and thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: The team is not mine; I am just borrowing them. Thanks!
The formalities could wait—Hannibal had neither the time nor patience for them at the moment. He strode into the office, not bothering to knock or salute, and took a seat. With some luck, he could get back to the card game in the barracks before his new sergeant slugged another officer. He enjoyed the man's spunk but hated the paperwork it created.
Overhead, a sluggish ceiling fan slowly churned its blades, doing little to alleviate the discomfort produced by the humid jungle heat. Drenched in sweat, Hannibal concentrated on the low hum of the fan— a constant, subtle reminder of the oppressingly stagnate air filling the room.
He cleared his throat, but remained, for the most part, ignored.
Behind a rusted metal desk, Colonel Morrison sat; his dark eyes—never straying up to greet Hannibal—were fixated on the paperwork before him. He flipped a page, his forehead wrinkling as he read. Perspiration darkened the underarms of his uniform, matched by the deep V of moisture plastering the front of his shirt to his chest.
"So…Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, How're the new men working out?" The glib words tumbled out, followed by a tight, thin-lipped smirk.
Hannibal grinned. There was no way in hell he was going to answer truthfully—they both knew that.
"Colonel Morrison, sir." He allowed himself a hint of a bite to it, but, otherwise, he kept his tone fairly respectful. "They're doing just fine."
Morrison looked up, his smile slowly fading. "I doubt that very much. I've seen the reports, but Sergeant Baracus and Lieutenant Peck are your problems—not mine. That was our agreement."
Hannibal nodded. They were problems, but he'd fix that… eventually.
Shifting uneasily in his chair, he studied Morrison carefully. So far, this was all old news—nothing that had warranted being urgently summoned into HQ only two days into his week-long R&R.
"But…"Morrison closed the file he'd been studying. "…the conduct of your men isn't why I called you here." Leaning back in his chair, he smoothed his damp hair and stared thoughtfully over at Hannibal. "I have a mission for you."
A long silence resided between the two men. The imposing sternness eased from Morrison's expression; his eyes softened, betraying his hidden concern. Even in the sweltering heat, Hannibal felt a sudden, startling chill, and, contrary to what he would have expected, it wasn't at all comforting.
"John…" Morrison paused, uncertainly hindering his words as he awkwardly shifted between being a commander and a friend. "I know you and your boys just got back from the boonies, but no one else can do this—no one else would survive. At least you'd have a chance."
There was no arguing with that—not that Hannibal would try. His team had been handcrafted for just this type of mission; this was the whole reason the army put up with his unorthodox methods and his stubborn refusal to move upwards to a position more suited to his rank but…
Before the memories of the Song Zai mission grew too vivid, he shook them away. 'At least you'd have a chance;' Morrison had used that same line before, when he had sent them to Song Zai. Sure, they had succeeded, but the cost had been high; Rolland and Mills were proof of that.
Suddenly realizing that Morrison had been watching him, waiting for a response, Hannibal stiffened. "So, what're the details?"
Returning to his role as commander, Morrison shuffled through his files. "A Huey went down ten klicks outside of Dong Xoai." He pulled a grainy map out of a file and slid it across the desk to Hannibal; a few scrawled marks of red ink marked the last known location of the chopper. "There has been no word from the crew, but we're getting reports that the Viet Cong have seized the chopper and the area is crawling with unfriendlies. From what we've gathered, they're going to try and get the bird airborne again. It had apparently suffered minimal damage; the pilot may have been able to land it in a small clearing in the jungle, basically delivering it right into enemy hands."
"So, we go in and blow it up?" Something wasn't making sense. "But, why wouldn't we just send the flyboys over to bomb the place?"
"Intel wants the chopper back." Morrison gave a weary sigh; he obviously wasn't enthusiastic about the plan. "They think they might be able to piece together what the Cong are up to if they can study the Huey. They want any maps, books, scribbled writing—anything you find in the Viet Cong's possession."
"We're going to fly the bird out of there?" Hannibal raised a brow; this whole thing sounded insane, even to him. "And…um…what if they loaded it up with C4? I'd not too keen on becoming a Viet Cong firework."
"If it's too dangerous to fly, then you blow it up."
Damn what Intel wanted; no matter what, this bird was too dangerous to get in. Hannibal had already decided they were going to blow it sky-high and then get the hell out of there, but, for now, he'd play along.
"Are we taking Captain Williams with us?" The idea of babysitting a pilot on the ground wasn't really appealing, but at least Hannibal liked Williams; the man was quiet, focused and talented.
"No…we've got someone else lined up for you."
If he'd actually planned on flying the chopper out of the jungle, Hannibal might have raised a little hell over the issue, but since he wasn't even going to need the pilot, he'd let this one slide.
Narrowing his eyes, keeping up his facade of anger, he glared over at Morrison. "Who?"
The fact that Morrison had to shuffle through his papers again to find the name wasn't reassuring. "Captain H.M. Murdock. He has a very impressive file. It looks as if he flew for the Thunderbirds."
Hannibal held his tongue. Thunderbirds or not, the guy wasn't his first choice. He wanted someone he knew—someone who had saved his keister before.
"Why can't I have Williams?" Ok, the matter was harder to drop than he had thought.
"Listen…" Morrison pushed the captain's paperwork aside. "…Half of Murdock's file is classified. I'm not sure what his full background is, but the higher ups have a hell of a lot of confidence in this guy. We're going to have to trust them on this one."
"Fine." The lone word, signaling his defeat, irked him greatly, but he obviously didn't have any choice in the matter; he knew which battles to pursue and which to drop.
"We'll have a full briefing at seventeen hundred hours; have your men ready. Dismissed."
Startled by the sudden dismissal, Hannibal frowned. It wasn't until he spotted the figure patiently waiting outside the office door that he started to stand. As Major Thomas entered, Hannibal gave Morrison a lackluster salute before exchanging brief niceties with the major.
Finally, as he made his way out of the room, he started plotting his next course of action. Finding Peck was at the top of the list. He'd tried to keep the kid's AWOL status under wraps, but, with the new mission, that just got a hell of a lot more difficult. At least Baracus would be fine as long as Ray was still keeping an eye on him. Damn; he was going to owe Ray big time for that.
First thing was first though; he had to find this Murdock fellow and get a read on him. Hopefully, he'd be at least half as competent as Williams.