I do not own the A-Team or Black Lagoon, in either of its glorious manga or anime forms. It belongs to Madhouse and Yen Press, who are probably a lot richer (and undoubtedly a lot smarter) than I shall ever be.
The Lagoon Company are paid to courier a disk to their latest customer. Meanwhile, the A-Team is hired to destroy blueprints for a weapon of mass destruction. They expected opposition, but certainly not from each other. Rated R for action violence and strong language.
Darkness and silence.
These two things were all John could see when he'd been accosted just moments ago outside of the Dry Cleaning store. But moments stretched on to hours, and he couldn't be sure how long he'd been shoved and pushed along in the dark with the bag over his head, he only dimly became back to full awareness when someone ripped it off. He was pushed down roughly into a chair, his hands still cuffed behind his back. A light snapped on, and his eyes closed against the sudden brightness, unused to it. He turned his head, unable to see, his head swimming from the sensation.
"You... you can't..." he swallowed, his throat dry. "You can't keep doing this to me. I have rights..."
A sharp bark of laughter cut him off.
A voice came out of the interplay of darkness and light. "Oh I assure you, we can and will. Now then... why don't we just get your name for the record?"
"Bite me," John responded.
Another voice, laughing at him. "Heh. Do you spell that with a capital B? Come now, John, we just want to talk."
That wasn't what he'd expected to hear. Or feel. His employers would've resorted to at least hitting him by now. Which meant... "This isn't Armored Industries, is it?"
"No Mr Decker," came that original voice again, somehow a calming influence. And one who obviously knew him. "We're not with them."
"Who are you? CIA? FBI? Interpol?"
That second voice spoke up this time. Lighter pitched and more easy going. "Let's just say we're a concerned party."
Another voice, a third, added their own two cents to that. "Well I've been known to play pool from time to time..." before being quickly hushed. There seemed to be about four in total, vague, shadowy figures half hidden by the light. John couldn't make out their faces. Which was probably the point.
"Go on," prompted the second voice. "Tell us your story."
John Decker hesitated, tilting his head this way and that, but could not pierce the interplay of shadows and light. He seemed removed from the world, alone save for the four voices coming out of the darkness. He had little choice but to speak if he didn't want to stay here forever. "I... I'm uh... my name is John Decker," he explained. "An employee at Armored Industries. We specialize in military hardware. Most governments part of the United Nations have various contracts with us, either to manufacture weapons for them, or not to manufacture for their competitors in the private sector. We've got big name contracts everywhere, we supply most of the militaries from the United States to South Korea."
He grimaced, realizing he was starting to sound like a car commercial. "I never really cared much about it, I just like stable employment and a good source of income. I uhm... well I..."
"Go on," said the first voice, gently prompting him on.
"I was just middle management. Human Resources, Personnel, that sort of thing. Nobody special. But one day I overheard the R&D talking about this new weapon they were developing for the military."
"What sort of weapon?" asked the third voice, suddenly serious.
"A laser. No, really, don't laugh, they sounded serious. I looked up some details. Its called a High Energy Tactical Laser. HETL. The R&D department called it Ragnarok."
"Norse mythology," intoned a new voice sagely. So there were four in total, at least. "End of the world. How appropriate."
He was starting to suspect this wasn't another interrogation. In fact, it almost felt like... an audition. Or an interview.
"Well if we were planning to market that we'd need manpower to market it, build it, finance it, all sorts of things. I wanted to get some details so I could be in position when the time came. I make it a point to keep my ear to the ground so I can look good in the eyes of my bosses."
"Perfectly reasonable," agreed the first voice.
John nodded. "I asked if my division was needed for this weapon, but the board kept telling me not to worry about it. I'm sort of used to being railroaded but this was different somehow. Then later they denied they were even working on such a weapon. Too cost effective, infeasible technology, lots of answers... and no two that matched."
"You smelled something fishy," guessed the second voice.
John nodded. "So I followed the trail one night and it led me straight to an e-mail with a foreign party. It had been deleted but I knew enough of the system to piece it back together. They were selling our latest weapon under the table to some foreign terrorists. They weren't going to market it to the public so they could let some monsters get a hold of it... then probably..."
"Who did they sell the weapon to?" clarified the questioner.
"Hotel Moscow. They operate..."
"They're based in Russia, but they have links and ties to most criminal activity worldwide," said the first voice. "Not their usual MO, running weapons."
"Everyone has to have a hobby," suggested the third voice sarcastically.
"I don't know why, but I'm positive that's the group the e-mail was sent to. I didn't catch the name of the individual who received it, something in Russian I couldn't pronounce... but they're the ones who bought it. And I don't know why, but I can only imagine. Something awful."
Everyone in the room then had the same vision flash across their minds. Of terrorists and madmen with high powered lasers, destroying whole buildings, ships, planes, and countless innnocent lives lost in the ensuing struggle.
"So you went to the police?" asked the fourth voice.
John shook his head. "I couldn't! Armored Industries had contacts with the police departments in the city, as well as most of the federal bureaus. If not directly, then insiders who kept an eye out for trouble. They'd spot me in an instant. There was no way I could go to the news either, the instant they found out, I'd be a dead man."
"So what did you do?"
"At first I wasn't sure what to do. Then heard about this group of mercenaries... soldiers of fortune. Said they were the sorts who took jobs like this, helped out. But I never was able to get a hold of them. They were hidden too damn well. The company almost found out too..."
He trailed off, and those gathered around heard all sorts of unspoken things in his silence. Imagining well how the bigwigs of the company had sent hired thugs to threaten John Decker, maybe beat him up, blackmail his family. How they'd find out exactly what he knew and who he'd told it to, and take them out just as easily.
The poor man took only a ragged breath, and continued on.
"I think they bought my story, but they decided to put my loyalty to Armored Industries to the test just to be certain. Now I'm the delivery boy. They want me to drop off the blueprints to the weapon."
"The Phillipines," Decker replied. "To a courier group that will ferry it to Thailand and the Russian Mafia headquartered there."
"Why not just lose the disk?" asked the third voice. "Drop it in a garbage compactor or hit it with a strong magnet before you hand it over?"
He shook his head. "That's why they're sending me," Decker explained.
The first speaker seemed to understand. "It's part of the loyalty test. It has to be genuine until the couriers get a hold of it. Once they have it..."
"Then I'm in the clear," Decker agreed. "And the disk can be destroyed without anyone the wiser for my involvement."
"And just when does this transaction take place?"
"Three days. The couriers from the mafia will be meeting me at this casino in Miricana. Its local name translates as the 'Lucky Jack' in English. I make the hand-off at precisely five in the afternoon. After that I keep my head down and come home the next day."
"Say these mercenaries of yours agreed, hypothetically. What about payment?"
"Half a million dollars can be wired anonymously to an offshore bank account. I know the system, I know how to work it. Give me a week and I can send the rest of their fee. If... if they're willing to do this, of course."
"The schematics on the weapon, we'd need at least a partial copy so we know we're getting the genuine thing," said the fourth voice.
"How do you plan to get the disk once you arrive?" asked Decker curiously.
"We'll worry about that, you worry about the money," said the second voice.
"That sounds fair," he agreed.
"Then congratulations, Mr. Decker," said the first voice, as the light winked off. Four smiling faces greeted him in the darkness. Faces he knew. Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith. Lieutenant Templeton 'Faceman' Peck. Captain Murdoc. Sargeant Bosco Albert Baracus.
This was the team he'd been looking for!
"You just hired the A-Team," said Hannibal.
Another typical day sitting around the office of the Lagoon Company.
Roanapur was suffering an unseasonable heat wave, and considering it was summer, that meant it was nearly hot enough outside to melt steel. The summer was becoming one of the hottest, longest, most unpleasant in living memory. And for a city this far south that was an accomplishment in and of itself. Rock had even heard Eda at the Yellow Flag the other night declaring the heat as 'ungodly.' Most business outdoors was quick and to the point, everyone stayed as close as they could to a fan or A/C unit. As the Lagoon Company's had broken earlier that month (something about Revy and a thrown shoe) they were making due with a fan and some ice in their drinks.
Revy lay on the couch, legs kicked up, and was perusing an old Victoria Secret magazine from three years ago. Not that she had any intentions of buying, of course, but she'd run out of other literature ever since Rock had volunteered to clean up the office. He'd thrown most of it out by accident. She had been very ticked off about that.
Hence the thrown shoe and the A/C unit.
Benny was out, he was working on some errand or another, only the boss knew for certain. Rock and Dutch sat in their respective seats, sipped their drinks, and passed the time wishing it was less hot out.
None of them bothered to lift their heads when they heard the car drive up outside of the Lagoon Company, nor the fall of footsteps up the stairs to their front door. Only Rock bothered to turn his head when the door actually opened, the others were too used to the niceties of Roanapur to suspect an attack.
Benny popped his head in, his Hawaiian t-shirt already stained with sweat as he held up triumphantly in his hands, "Pizza!"
Two large and a small, just like the Roanapur team of miscreants liked it. Benny put them down on the central table, pushing aside some papers that were in the way and letting the topmost one lift open so its intoxicating smell could fill their little office.
Only Revy reacted to the smell with disgust instead of enjoyment.
"You dumbass, who goes out for pizza on a day like this? Should've made it ice cream."
"Would've melted," he countered smoothly. "Come on, may as well enjoy, I emptied my wallet for this fine feast."
"Thank you," said Rock, trying to convey the words to cover his teammates as well, since Dutch and Revy had both already dug in to the offered feast with barely a word of gratitude. Revy may've critiqued the choice but she had never turned down a free meal in her life, and didn't intend to start now.
Business had been slow, ever since the return from Japan and the additional mess of the Lovelace Family things had been escalating with the Hotel Moscow/Triad alliance. It was on shaky ground on the best of days, but now both sides were working overtime, pushing out smaller business in Roanapur in favor of their own. Most jobs these days tend to be too little pay and too much risk, which Dutch inevitably had to turn down. He'd lost his thrill of combat ages ago, and even Revy hadn't complained. Not for fear of dying, but fear of dying poor. They weren't hurting for money just yet, but they were starting to get bored out of their minds.
So they'd come to this, sitting around the table in the Lagoon Company office, munching on pizza that tasted like cardboard and waiting for a call that probably wouldn't come.
Revy decided she'd been bored long enough and wanted to have a little fun.
"Hey Rocky, whatcha think, is it me?" Revy asked with a smirk, holding up a page showing a very well-endowed blonde woman in little more than a few strips of artfully placed black lace.
He spluttered, caught off-guard by her question, and his brain locked as he processed it to its logical extent: the image of Revy in that sort of outfit, stretched across a bed somewhere, with a come-hither look in her eyes.
Thankfully he was spared the awkwardness of answering by the ring of the phone, and Rock all but leapt across the room to answer it, leaving Revy in hysterics.
"Lagoon Company," he said, straightening his tie, feeling it suddenly very stuffy in the room. His expression changed only a little when he heard the voice on the other side, then he offered the phone to Dutch, stretching out the cord.
"For you," said Rock, handing the phone over.
The larger man took it, setting his slice of pizza down. "Dutch."
A moment of silence followed, and then, "Ah, yes."
A short pause followed.
"No not at the moment," he replied.
Another short pause.
A much longer pause this time.
A much briefer pause.
"No I suppose not. Yes that sounds adequate. And we're off to...? Ah, got it."
The others continued to quietly munch at their slices of pizza as they listened to the one sided conversation, each imagining what the voice on the other side must be saying. The tension was palpable, it sounded like work, and after so long sitting around with the brains boiling inside of their skulls thanks to the Roanapur summer, they were ready for action.
"Pleasure as always doing business with you."
Dutch tossed the phone to Rock, who caught it awkwardly and hung it back up. Rock and Benny looked up expectantly, while Revy continued to idly read her magazine, feigning disinterest. But she didn't fool anyone, she was just as anxious they are.
"Got a job people!" he declared. "Tomorrow morning we're off to the Phillipines."
"Whoop-de-fuckin'-do," muttered Revy, tossing the magazine over her shoulder and onto the floor. "Pick-up, drop-off, or body count?"
"The first two," Dutch said. "Balalaika called it in."
Rock felt tense, remembering very distinctly how things had gone the last time he'd worked for Hotel Moscow. That had led to a very messy trip home to Japan.
"We're simply couriers this time," Dutch explained, leaning back in his customary chair. "Meet with this man in the Phillipines delivering a package, pick it up, deliver it here in Roanapur to Miss Balalaika herself. They handle the money wirelessly but they don't trust the package with US postal, for obvious reasons."
"Are they expecting some sort of trouble?" Rock asked, well aware of how things tended to go on these sorts of jobs.
"Not yet, but we're getting $6,000 up front. I'd say that's worth some effort, don't you?"
"Hai... I mean yeah. What's the package?"
"Portable hard-drive," replied Dutch, popping a cigarette between his teeth and flicking his lighter open.
"What's on it?"
Dutch raised an eyebrow at his newest employee, who still was having trouble with their 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. "Nothing you need to worry about, Rock. Benny'll get the details so we can make sure we're not being decoyed. Come to think of it, you don't even have to come, you can do some paperwork around the office..."
"Is Revy going?" he interrupted.
"Hell yeah, I need Two Hands in case things go to shit."
"Then I'll come along too," Rock declared.
Revy rolled her eyes. "My hero," she muttered, mock swooning as she slid off the couch and to her feet, stretching out her sore arms. "Come on, Romeo, we've got one last night in paradise, may as well hit the Yellow Flag before we have to try the swill at some cheap dive in the Phillipines."
"You two can go home for the day," Dutch said, then turned his head to Benny. "Balalaika is e-mailing us some specs, use the company account and keep 'em on hand for the drop. I don't wanna travel thirty thousand miles and find out we got duped midway home. That blonde will blow a hole in my head."
"No problemo boss," replied their resident hacker. "I'm sure I can get something portable ready by the time we hit land."
"Terrific," muttered Dutch. "Oh and Rock, before you head out, get me that map of the Pacific out, would you? I wanna know which way I'm driving tomorrow for the pick-up."
"Where is this place we're doing business?"
"Some place called... Miricana..."
It's like watching a train wreck about to happen. Beautiful, isn't it?
For the A-Team, this takes place shortly after the movie of the same name, and while borrow influences from the TV show, remains more in tune with the movie portrayal. For the Lagoon company, after season three of the anime with Roberta's Rampage.