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.
Chapter Spoiler Alert: Reveals certain plot lines from several episodes of Season 5 namely Dishpan Man(E1), Firing Line(E3), Theory of Revolution(E5), Point of No Return(E9), and The Grey Team(E12).
Chapter Author's Notes: Mission details are drawn from S5-E12 particularly as applied to episode specific characters: Paula Anderson, Bernie Greene.
Dialogue that seems familiar is borrowed from Episode 5-12. particularly in the (but not limited to) the final four paragraphs.
The Puppy Platter, Silver Creek Retirement Community, and the Geritol Commandos belong to Cannell and Associates
Chapter Summary: Hannibal confronts the reality of the Team's dysfunction during their Langley Encampment
Chronicles of a Colonel: by LAGC
Chapter One - This No Longer Suits
My Lieutenant and I were sitting in the den at the Langley abode. Face was reading and I was pretending to, but really I was deep in thought.
"No suits." I said suddenly out of the blue.
"What?" asked a startled Faceman
"No suits." I repeated sheepishly. "Face, I've barely seen you wear a suit, since, well, since before the trial."
"Oh. I haven't really needed to I guess." Face dismissively replied.
"And B.A. hardly ever works on the van. And Murdock hasn't played with Billy, Boogie Bear or any invisible pal in ages." I continued.
"Hannibal, what are you trying to say?" asked Face putting his book aside.
"I'm trying to say that my Team, isn't right. My men aren't themselves."
When Face didn't instantly deny my statement, the truth of it came crashing down upon me.
My men weren't right. It was my job to fix them. I had to extract them from this situation, which to be brutally honest with myself, I had helped create.
I was the one who accepted this arrangement with Stockwell, and snapped the golden handcuffs of the Presidential pardons onto their wrists. Heck, I was the one who brought in Frankie. He in turn was forced into being the spring of Stockwell's trap that ensnared us and cornered me into aligning with the General in the first place. Sure, Face, BA, and Murdock had agreed to the merger but that's only because of their unconditional trust in my ability to protect and lead them. And really, what choice did any of us have when we were caged up on Barier Island with the firing squad warming up outside?
Our Team wasn't right. We were obligated to accept a new member and that threw off the dynamics. I knew my guys didn't completely trust Frank. His role and purpose in the team wasn't clear. Frankie knew this and was trying way to hard to prove himself relevant, which was just compounding the problem. Truly, I doubted he'd ever really fit in, most times he just plain didn't get it.
Murdock and BA didn't have to use their expert skills in all things aeronautical and mechanical because most of the time Stockwell provided the machinery. Faceman had a similar situation because he didn't need to creatively acquire our supplies as often since Stockwell also provided most of those. They were being restricted from being themselves. Being constantly watched and monitored was psychologically grating on each of my boys. I could see the growing restlessness and tension in each of them.
I was in command but yet I was subservient to Stockwell. A man who didn't give two shakes if we lived or died. (His reaction to my abduction in Hong Kong was clear proof of that.) This didn't hurt my authority with my guys but it did throw me off my rhythm.
The worst piece though, was the loss of our sense of self determination, our personal control. The truth was that we were incarcerated men. Sure our prison had a pool, designer digs, and an expense account but we had no freedom. We couldn't pick our missions. We were conscripted labor. Hell, we weren't even getting any sense of satisfaction from our jobs. We weren't helping ordinary people who needed defending. We were just greasing the wheels of the covert machine run by Stockwell and his ilk. (Well that run in San Marcos was satisfying, but that only happened because we defied Stockwell.)
"Face I'm going to fix us. I promise." I solemnly told my lieutenant
He looked up at me, "I know you will, Colonel."
For a flickering second I saw his raw trust in me swim in his eyes. I hadn't seen it in a while.
Just then BA and Frankie joined us in the den - ending our conversation. BA told us that we had been summoned by Stockwell. Apparently he had a new mission for us. We piled into the van and set off to see what new hoop the General had for us to jump through.
Stockwell relayed our assignment. We were to locate and retrieve a young teenager named Paula Anderson. Face balked at finding a lost kid but Stockwell revealed that she was in possession of documents about SDI*. She had run off with them after overhearing her father plotting with a KGB operative. She was out there alone with Russian spies hunting her for the documents she'd taken from her father. She was just an innocent kid caught up in the fallout of adult secrets and lies. We certainly had to help her. Once we accepted the mission we went to gather Murdock from his latest job at a place called The Puppy Platter.
On the drive to the restaurant, in my mind, I replayed my conversation with Face. I privately decided that this would be the last Stockwell hoop I'd have my boys jump through. Enough was enough.
The next day we met with Mr. Anderson who filled us in to the fact that he wasn't a traitor but the bait in a sting operation to catch a KGB agent named Sarnoff. I formulated a plan based on a divide and conquer technique. I put BA and Frankie in charge of retrieving and protecting Paula. A role that almost got them nabbed by the FBI because we didn't know that the Feds were involved. When I blasted Stockwell about it he smugly replied that information on this mission, as with all his missions, was provided to us on "a need to know basis." I was livid, Hunt had put my team in jeopardy for the last time. I told him that we'd rescue Paula and reunite her with Mr. Anderson for their sakes but, "not for you General, not anymore." I'm sure he was too arrogant to fully understand me.
Like I said the Team had individual assignments. Face was with me as we stalked the KGB Agent Sarnoff. Meanwhile Murdock's role was to infiltrate the KGB operation posing as an American scientist. Working so tightly with Face on this mission really highlighted the bottomed out moral of my Lieutenant. As we eavesdropped on Murdock's distraction of the lady KGB scientist I actually had to reassure Face that his pickup lines were indeed better than our Pilot's. Face was even fatalistically convinced that the KGB would kill Murdock. I was dismayed and all the more convinced to shake off the Stockwell Shackles.
Fortunately Paula had a great friend in an elderly gentleman named Bernie Greene. He had hidden Paula in a retirement home where his pal resided. The entire population of the Silver Creek Retirement Community had turned out to defend her. This had briefly caused some problems for BA and Frankie. However once those were cleared up the Geritol Commandos (as they called themselves) had made for some unique yet effective allies. The final confrontation took place on the street outside Mr. Greene's apartment. The closing move belonged to Face. When I told him this his response was, "Me? Why me?" Ignoring the self doubt in his voice I simply pointed out, "You're driving." Face jumped the car into the fray creating a major distraction that allowed the Commandos, Frank, and BA to overpower the Russian spies. Face looked at me and gasped, "I did it! My God, I did it." I assured him with my customary, "Nice, Face." What was nice was seeing the fire relight in his eyes.
Fortunately everything turned out fine for the young girl and her father. Everyone was safe and uninjured. The best part of this mission was that it put us back helping ordinary people overwhelmed by slimeballs out to do them harm. This mission made us feel good about ourselves again. My guys recaptured their own jazz.
As we walked away from the retirement village, Bernie Greene and his friends dragged Frankie away and out of earshot. I took this private opportunity to discuss what we'd do after we shed the Stockwell Shackles. The old folks had mentioned the crime and thugs in the park.
I grinned and said, "Ah, chasing thugs through the park. It's got an nice ring to it. Doesn't it?"
Face jumped in with his traditional, let's curb Hannibal's rashness, whine,"It's got a terrible ring to it." But I saw the electricity zapping through his baby blues.
Murdock daydreamed about us, "never having to eat a knuckle sandwich again."
BA had caught on to my train of thought and with a long lost grin on his lips snickered, 'Wouldn't bet on it Crazy Man. Looks like Hannibal is on the Jazz."
I looked at my Team, my boys. The three of them were starting to sparkle.
I asked, "What are we going to do when this is all over? I mean what are we really qualified to do?"
We all decided that what we were trained for and suitable for was "beating up thugs in the park" and helping the helpless. And most importantly that's exactly what we wanted to do. I declared, "There is a world of slime-balls out there." BA strutted off saying, "I'll get the van."
Face and Murdock looked at each other then at me.
"So is "this" all over?" asked Face
"Are we done with our current arrangement, Colonel?" clarified Murdock.
I relit my cigar, took a deep puff, and replied, "You can bet the house on that one, Captain."
"How?" they both chimed.
"I've put something into the works. Just give it a little time for the plan to come together." Now to make it happen. I had to act quickly while my men were still on their jazz.
"Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), former U.S. government program responsible for research and development of a space-based system to defend the nation from attack by strategic ballistic missiles. ... SDI, popularly referred to as "Star Wars," was announced by President Ronald Reagan in a speech in Mar., 1983. ... In 1987 the Soviet Union revealed it had a similar program."
Information taken from the website of Infoplease.