Disclaimer: I do not own nor did I create any of the A-team characters (main or support) nor do I own nor did I create any of the episodes. That credit is due to Stephen J. Cannell and his associates.
Spoiler Alert: Based off Season 2 Episode 13, "The Maltese Cow" and therefore some plot elements are revealed.
Author's Notes: In that episode Murdock briefly talks of Sam providing shelter to the A-team during a war torn night in Saigon. This piece explores that night.
Summary: The night a Vietnamese man saved the A-team.
Bonds in a Basement: by LAGC
Hannibal nodded to Face as the younger man donned his sport coat to conceal his shoulder holstered gun. Having received the Colonel's consent, Face took off out of the condo.
"Sam we will be right there. In fact, Face is already on his way." said Hannibal. As he hung up the phone, he heard Face turn over the 'vette and roar out of the parking lot of the condo complex.
"I'll stock the van, Hannibal." B.A. stated as he stopped his angry pacing and started for the backdoor. "Then we'll go get Murdock. Good thing he already had a legit weekend pass set up. Faceman wouldn't have had the time, or the focus, to scam the Fool out."
Hannibal glance toward his Sergeant, "I'll be with you in a few minutes, B.A."
B.A. nodded gently, "When your ready, Man, when your ready." The Big Guy exited the condo, shutting the door behind him.
The Colonel was alone.
"DAMN IT! " Hannibal yelled to the empty room. Damn it, Sam, did not deserve to be terrorized. The poor man had lived through enough.
Hannibal's memory drifted back to the night they met Sam. That night from Hell. The only other time Hannibal had ever felt that sort of abysmal fear was in the Camp. Both times he had no power to protect his boys.
The mission was suppose to be straight forward. The Team was to infiltrate the enemy stronghold and destroy the anti aircraft guns. But it had been a disaster from the get go.
Murdock had become part of the ground assault with the Team. His bird had been shot down by their very objective. That had happened within minutes of his deposit of them in the drop zone. Face had taken off toward the crash site without even glancing at Hannibal for orders. The Colonel and B.A. were after him in a flash. There wasn't any doubt they'd go after Murdock - mission be damned - but the Kid was running on pure mindless fear and that would have gotten him dead. B.A. had caught up to Face quickly enough and tackled him to the ground. Face had thrashed and screamed in protest. A sharp hard order for "Silence!" from Hannibal had restored some sort of discipline.
"Hannibal, we have to go get him!" It had been a frantic plea from his young Lieutenant. Even all these years later, Hannibal could still see the pain and desperation in Face's tear filled eyes.
"We are, Lieutenant. But we will to do it intelligently."
That promise had been enough for Face to regain functional control of himself. Cautiously they had crept up to the crash site. They were only a few minutes ahead of the VC. Thankfully Murdock had seemingly not been badly hurt in the crash. Just a few lacerations. By time the Team reached him, Murdock had gathered his weapons and radio and was making his way to them. The relief of their reunion was short lived and had been quickly replaced by the anxiety of escaping the advancing VC search party.
The Team had resumed their original mission with their grounded pilot. No one had spoken of their now non-existent extraction plan. They reached their target, only marginally behind schedule. Infiltrating the site had been more challenging and bloody than expected. In the pre-mission briefing they had been told to expect only four hostiles. However in reality, the Team had to dispatch around a dozen enemy within the claustrophobic confines of the gun barracks. The combat had been brutal, hand to hand. Bottom line they had achieved their objective and destroyed the gun, with minimal damage to the Team. .
They had then hot footed it back toward the city center; thinking it would be easier to hideout in the crowds. The city itself was under bombardment, and crawling with VC. Extraction- at best-could be no earlier than dawn, and only if they were able to contact their base and request it. Fortunately, Murdock had managed to send a mayday and report his downed copter. HQ would be aware that the team was stranded. But none of that would help them survive that night. Hannibal had realized that, had known he had to think of something. He'd been achingly aware that his time was running short.
He had looked to his team. The boys were exhausted, running on pure adrenaline. B.A. had a knife wound, he'd been slashed during the hand to hand. Face had field dressed the wound but more care was needed. Murdock was showing signs of a concussion, most likely from the crash. Face was bruised and bloodied but had no serious physical injuries. Hannibal, himself, had a sprained wrist, luckily his left, sustained when he wrestled the knife away from the guy who had slashed B.A. Their psychological damage, well there had been no point in worrying about that then. No good would have come of it.
They had been in a dismal predicament. Nowhere was safe in the city. Hostiles were everywhere. Incoming artillery bombardments were another constant danger. In the darkness and confusion the Team had found itself in a dead end alley way. They had turned to correct their error and then they heard the voices of a VC patrol blocking their exit. Everyone had frozen. They were trapped. A quick visual check revealed they were very low on ammo. Just as they were about to find cover positions for what Hannibal had feared would be the A-team's last stand, a quite voice had called out to them.
"Quickly. GI men, over here. Over here is safe."
Hannibal wasn't sure why he had believed the voice but he had. And so, he led his boys over to it. A Vietnamese man, cradling a small child in his arms, indicated that they could join him in his home. Then the man led them over to a trap door, camouflaged by an attached rug and obscured by rudimentary furniture. With his free hand the man lifted the trapdoor and went down. He bade the team to follow with a nod of his head. Weapons at the ready, the team had followed. Hannibal first. True to their training, the boys had held back, to allow their Colonel time to assess the situation and raise an alarm if needed. When their Leader remained quiet they all had followed him through the door.
They then found themselves in a hand dug root cellar, or as tonight mandated, a bomb shelter.
Once the kind Vietnamese man had shut the door, silence had fallen. Their hideout had been tight and dark as pitch.
Soon they had heard the invasive footsteps of the enemy patrol as it entered the small home. The group huddled silently. The Team with readied weapons, the child in traumatized silence, and the man in wordless prayer. The enemy stomped around the small home, overturned some furniture. They yelled angrily at each other then smashed some dishes and retreated. For the next ten or so minutes all that could be heard was the incessant bombing.
Hannibal had been mashed up against Face. Their shoulders touching. He had felt Face trembling even though he was rigidly in a fighting stance. He had heard B.A.'s labored breathing - indicating a lot of pain or blood loss. And Murdock was quietly mumbling to himself.
Hannibal had decided they could risk communication.
"Captain, what are you saying?" he had asked Murdock.
"Just repeating what the hostiles said, Colonel, so I wouldn't mess up the translation."
"Well they definitely were searching for us - the American ghosts - who blew up the gun post.
They were very angry that they couldn't find us. The private who reported sighting us enter this alley is in for a very unpleasant evening. The leader, didn't catch his rank, ordered the patrol to search the next alley. I think we're clear for now, Colonel."
"You speak my language?" their rescuer had asked.
"Vang," Murdock had replied, "cảm ơn bạn đã hỗ trợ của bạn."
"I can speak English and no thanks are required. I am Sam. And the child is my daughter, Sun."
As he spoke, Sam had ignited a small lantern. The glow had been a welcome respite from the entombing darkness. Hannibal had used the light to quickly scan and evaluate their situation. The little girl was clinging to a dingy little rag doll. Face held an almost trancelike stare on the trap door and a white knuckle grip on his rifle. B.A. was bleary eyed and slightly slumped. Murdock was checking out the Sergeant's wounded arm. The man, Sam, was looking at Hannibal with a steady assessing gaze.
"Thank you for sheltering my Team. I know you did so at great risk to yourself and child." Hannibal had said.
"I owe American G.I.s a debt. My daughter lives thanks to American soldiers. They rescued her from the rubble of my store." The sadness that passed over his eyes had informed Hannibal why there was no mother here with the little girl.
Then Sam had noticed that B.A. was wounded. He reached behind himself and pulled out a bowl with water and a clean rag. Sam handed them to Murdock. The Captain acknowledged the supplies with a courteous bow of his head.
With a sense of trust establish,and the knowledge that his Sergeant was being tended to, Hannibal had been able to focus on Face. The Kid was showing signs of shock. Between nearly losing Murdock, the bloodiness at the gun station, and now being trapped in this hole- well, this had been a horrid mission. Face's young mind hadn't fully managed it all yet.
"Lieutenant, stand down." Hannibal had ordered. Face had barely even registered the command so Hannibal put himself directly in front of his soldier. Forcing eye contact he repeated the command. This time it reached Face who then looked at him uncertainly. The panic still simmering behind his eyes. "Colonel? Sir, not sure that's wise, Sir."
"Lieutenant Peck! I said stand down. I need you to inventory the supplies available."
Having been given an alternate task, and reacting to the stern, "don't screw with me tone" in Hannibal's voice, Face had loosened his death grip on the rifle and began to look around their shelter. Hannibal said a silent prayer of gratitude that Face was trying to function.
Now for B.A. and Murdock. The Pilot had cleaned the wound surprisingly well. The gash was deep and long down the outside of the Sergeant's left arm, from his shoulder to just above his elbow. Thankfully the major blood vessels had been missed but clearly the wound needed suturing. Murdock was looking clammy and bleary eyed. He had even admitted to a banging headache.
"Great" Hannibal had thought to himself, "a concussed Captain, a Sergeant with a canyon carved in his arm, and a Lieutenant dancing on the edge of catatonic. And no cigar."
Just then Sam had offered him a drink of cool tea. Hannibal sipped it slowly as Sam shared more tea with each of his men. Next Sam told Murdock to sit back and rest. He gave the Captain a wet cloth to use as a compress on his bruised head. Then Sam had skillfully treated and bandaged B.A.'s arm.
Face was still running on terror. He had robotically given his report about their weapons, ammo, and assorted supplies. Clearly his brain had not released it vice like grip on the horrors surrounding them.
"Lieutenant, at ease, drink your tea. We're alright for now." Hannibal told him.
"Alright? Alright? We'll never be alright ever again, Colonel! Never again."
Hannibal had placed a hand on the Kid's shoulder hoping to give him some sense of security. As he struggled to say something inspiring, or at least soothing, to the traumatized Kid, Sam had gently interjected.
"Excuse me, Lieutenant Peck. May I ask a favor, please?"
Face, a bit startled, nodded at the man.
"My daughter, Sun, is quite frightened. I must see to your teammates' injuries right now. Do you think you could speak to the child and distract her from her fears. She understands some English."
Face glanced over at the forlorn little girl. She couldn't be more than three years old. Hannibal had watched as Face's heart had melted and most of the panic had left his eyes. The Kid nodded at Sam and crept over to the toddler. Face made contact by shaking hands with the rag doll and introducing himself. Soon both the girl and the soldier were exchanging shy smiles.
The bombardments had lasted for another two or three hours. B.A. seemed to be doing ok, the bleeding had stopped. The herbs Sam had treated him with must have worked wonders. Every half hour or so Hannibal checked on Murdock's lucidity and he also appeared ok. Face had actually drifted into a shallow sleep with little Sun cuddled in his lap.
Sometime later they all heard the sounds of an enemy patrol entering Sam's house. Instantly the team readied their weapons. Face had hidden Sun behind him, making his body her shield. B.A. had done the same for Sam. Everyone waited in haunting silence as the patrol ransacked the humble house. The sounds of breaking pottery and crushing furniture thundered above them. Several times the trap door had sagged as flying furniture landed upon it. By some miracle the VC, in their rage and hurry, had not discovered the door. The enemy finally withdrew after receiving an abrupt order from their commander.
The sounds of early dawn were the next things the group heard. Hannibal declared it was time to move out. He wanted to be on the move before full day break. It had taken a bit of effort on B.A.'s part to lift the door. It seemed that all the destroyed furniture and household items had been thrown upon it. This had probably helped the miracle of their "un-discovery" unfold. They carefully emerged from their sanctuary. Face had carried the toddler up and still held her. Sam looked around the ruins of his home and sighed.
Hannibal then ordered the team to help their savior gather anything that was still useful or important. They were all going to move out in ten minutes. At first Sam had protested and told the team to escape. Hannibal had flat out refused.
"Sam. You saved my life and the lives of my men. Your home is destroyed and you'll be targeted now. I will not leave you, or your daughter, in this dangerous location. Is there another place for you?" Sam had shaken just head, his dignity would not allow him to say he was now without hope or recourse.
"Then it's settled. My team will take you to the village near our camp. You and Sun will be accepted and safe there." Hannibal had assured Sam.
And so had begun their escape to the outskirts of the city. It had taken several hours to sneak their way to a feasible rescue site. They all took turns carrying the remnants of Sam's home. Face carried the baby, only sharing her with Sam. Hannibal had been amazed by how cooperative and quiet she had been. Once they reached the rescue site, they had radioed for an extraction of four soldiers and two friendlies.
When they arrived back at the base, Murdock and B.A. had gone directly to the medical tent. Hannibal and Face had brought Sam and Sun to the refugee village and introduced their rescuers to the residents. Hannibal and Face then helped them set up in their new home, a former supply hut. Face had even presented Sam with some rations and a couple of blankets. The Kid had somehow scrounged the items during their brief touch down on base. As the War raged on, the A-team visited and tried to help Sam and Sun as often as they could.
The happier memories of down times spent talking with Sam came to Hannibal. Memories of Face playing with Sun rushed through the Colonels mind along with those of B.A. repairing the hut and Murdock helping Sam plant an herb garden. Sam and Sun were always a source of comfort, hope, and kindness in the darkness and despair of war.
Sam had saved them all physically, and in Face's case probably saved the Kid's sanity.
Sam had protected HIS BOYS that night. A night that Hannibal had been unable to do it.
Hannibal owed Sam Yeng so much.
That's why he and Face had arranged for their immigration to America just before the war ended. Why the Team had set up and invested in Sam's restaurant. The Golden Pagoda was meant to provide him and Sun with good lives here in America.
NOW there were some lowlife slugs threatening Sam and Sun!?
Messing with the A-team's gift of gratitude!?
Not on Hannibal's watch.
The Colonel locked the condo's door and purposely strode to the van.
The A-team was indebted to the Yengs. And the A-team always paid their debts.
There were some slime-balls in Chinatown, that had no idea the tornado of hurt that was about to descend upon them.