Empress of my World, Lord of my Skies
She shivered as she squeezed into the phone booth. It took a time, but she managed to wrestle the door closed. She braced her foot against it, hoping that that would be enough to keep anyone out. Then she put in her quarter, dialed the number, and waited and prayed.
Ring... ring... ri...
"Lee's Chinese Laundry."
"Hello?" she whispered. That wasn't the answer she expected. Oh, God, please don't be the wrong number! Please don't be the wrong number! Please...
"I help you?"
"Ah... ah'm lookin' fer m... my... H.M." her little girl voice shook as she
fought back the tears.
The voice on the other side suddenly lost its oriental accent. "What's you name, darlin'?"
Hope! Should she dare to hope? "Kyla... Kyla Murdock." She couldn't hold them back any longer. Bursting into tears, she cried into the phone "Please! Please, I need my brother! Are you the A-Team? Is H.M. there? Please..."
"Alright, it's alright, sweetie." came the voice, reassuring in a commanding sort of way. "H.M isn't here, but we can get him. Can he call you back?"
"Ah... ah d... don't know where ah... am." she gasped, fighting to regain control.
"Think, sweetie, what's the city? Do you know that?"
"L.A... I think. The bus driver said this was the last stop. Said ah had ta get off here."
"L.A?" the voice sounded shocked, but quickly recovered. "The last bus stop? The Gray Hound? Can you still see the bus stop, Kyla?"
"Yes, sir." she answered, her voice steadying.
"Alright, Kyla, we're coming to get you. Stay right where you are. It's going to get dark. I want you stay right where you are! Is there a door on the phone?"
"Yes, sir. I closed it... but there's a lot of scary people... Ah'm scared." She felt the tears building up once again. "Please, ah want ma brother!"
"We'll bring him! Stay there! Don't move! We're on our way!" Before he hung up she could hear him say "Step on it, B.A. We gotta get to her fast!"
Kyla Murdock adjusted the blue cap on her head, tucking in the soft brown curls that had escaped. Then she slid down to the dirty floor of the phone booth and wrapped the oversized leather flight jacket tightly around her.
All she had to do now was wait. H.M. had told her that she could always count on the A-Team. If they said they were coming, they were coming. 'Course, he also said that Hannibal's plans never went the way they were supposed to.
The girl shivered as two drunks stumbled against the phone booth. She braced her feet against the door and stared in fear until the stumbled away.
"Ah hope Hannibal ain't doin' the plannin' dis time." she mumbled to herself.
She had no idea that she had fallen asleep. She had blinked and the sky turned black. Yawning, Kyla looked around. And then screamed.
The toothless bum grinned down at her from the back of the phone booth.
"Go away!" she screamed at him.
"Yer in me 'ouse." he slurred. With dirt crusted knuckles, he rapped on the
glass. "Yer in me 'ouse!" His grin took an ugly twist. "Ya wanna stay wit me?" A blistered tongue ran over chapped and torn lips.
"Go away!" she screamed again.
The grin dropped away and the bum began to slam his fists against the glass. "Me 'ouse! You go away!" The glass shattered and he reached down for her.
Again Kyla screamed. Slamming her backpack up at the arm, she scrambled about until she could open the door. Yanking it open, she crawled out.
The bum came around to stand over her legs. "ME 'OUSE!" he roared at her.
Kyla's booted foot snapped out, the steel heal smashing into his knee cap.
The bum fell away with a scream of his own.
The girl grabbed her pack, and, scrambling to her feet took off running down the dimly light street.
As she passed, scantly clad women laughed at her, drunks called after her, and flashy dressed men wearing a lot of jewelry watched her closely, a couple even followed a short distance.
Finally winded, Kyla slowed to a walk. Clutching her pack to her chest, she
backed around a corner and hunkered down behind a knocked over garbage can.
"H.M. where are you?" she cried to her self.
"Hey, little baby, you lost?"
Her head jerked up to see a tell, thin man standing over her. He was clean and smelled nice, his clothes all shiny and pretty. And his voice had been calm and gentle.
But, Kyla was a back woods little girl that knew only one thing about a city: NEVER trust anyone!
"L... leave me alone." she hissed at him, backing away.
"Easy, now. I'm not going to hurt you." He smiled, showing perfect teeth, holding his hands up to show her he meant no harm. "I just want to help. Are you lost?"
She hesitated. "Ma... ma brother is comin' for me... so you better just go away."
His eyes got a strange twinkle. "He isn't coming." he told her.
Kyla felt her heart shatter. "Wh... what?"
"No one comes for you here." he told her, and for some stupid reason, her frightened heart believed him. "I'll take care of you." he promised, holding out is hand.
She stared at that hand for what seemed forever. But then she remembered her brother, remembered everything he was and he did. "You lying!" she snapped, her courage and anger coming up like a shield. "Ma brother's a hero! He flew in the war! He ain't afraid of nottin'!" Her eyes narrowed as she snarled "An' he's crazy! You come near me, an' he'll kill you!"
All friendliness vanished in less than a heart beat. The hand that had been held out to comfort sudden slapped her across the face, slamming her against the
brick wall. "You little bitch! Who the hell do you think you are talking to me like that?!" he screeched at her as she hugged the wall in shock and terror.
He grabbed her arm and yanked her around to face him.
Instinct took over. She lunged at him, kicking and screaming, and slamming her tiny fist at him. Her attack had been so sudden and fierce, that the man released her and stumbled away. Seeing an opening to freedom, she ran.
"Get back here, you little bitch! There ain't no where you can run!" he yelled after her.
Some woman bounced out of the way as Kyla ran across the sidewalk and out into the street. She laughed as the man followed. "What, Stick? One of yer little whores don't like yer taste?"
That enraged the man even more and he doubled his effort to catch her.
Lights flashed, tires screeched, Kyla screamed, holding an arm over her face. But the huge, black van skidded to a halt only a breath before hitting her.
"I'm gonna get ya!" the man continued to yell, grabbing at her pack.
Kyla wiggled out of it and continued to run across the street and into a parking lot.
"Hey, man! You got a problem?!" some huge husky voice challenged.
Kyla didn't look back, Terrified, she just ran. She could see an out at the
other end of the parking lot.
Lights flashed from behind as the van took chase this time.
Ohgodohgodohgod... where's H.M?
Suddenly her way out was blocked by a white corvette with a red stripe.
Gasping, Kyla skidded to a halt. She spun about looking for another escape. But the van was behind, the car was in front, walls were to either side... she was trapped!
Throwing back her head, she screamed "I want my brother!"
She head snapped about.
A tall, skinny figure was walking out of the lights of the corvette. "Empress of my world." he called to her gently.
Kyla gasped, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Lord of my skies?"
Captain H.M. Murdock took a couple more steps toward his sister before she slammed into him, her arms wrapping tightly around his waist, her face buried in his chest, sobbing. Murdock hugged her back. "It's alright, Empress. You're safe now. We won't let anyone hurt you." he promised, kissing the top of the baseball cap he had given her for her last birthday.
Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck, and Sergeant B.A. Baracus surrounded the siblings protectively. After all, the A- Team looked after its own.
The entire drive back to the house Face had scammed for the team, Kyla said only one thing, over and over, as she clutched her brother: "I didn't think you'd come for me. I didn't think you'd come for me." Even after they had pulled into the driveway and B.A. offered to carry the small girl in, she wouldn't release her hold. The only thing that could come between her and Murdock...
"Pizza!" Face called as he dropped an arm load of pizza boxes on the coffee
table in front of the couch.
Big brown eyes popped wide open and locked on the boxes. Hands eagerly tore open the first box and demolished the first huge slice of hot pizza.
Kyla was only a breath behind her brother. She slid off the couch and knelt at the coffee table. Taking a slice nearly as big as her head, she tried to shove the entire piece in her mouth.
"O an oo at." Murdock protested around a like size mouthful.
She grinned up at him.
"Yea." Face agreed to the unspoken observations of his commander. "Coulda been twins. Brown curls, big brown eyes, and the biggest mouths in the country."
The Murdock siblings glanced at them, gulped, and grinned.
Hannible smiled and leaned forward. "Now that you're calmed down some, Kyla, mind telling us what you were doing in that part of town? In town at all?" he wanted to know. From what little his captain had told him over the years, Kyla Murdock and their father lived somewhere up north in the redwoods, running some little air port for some little town. So why was this little girl, no more than twelve years old, in the roughest part of a big city all alone, crying for her brother?
Kyla lost her smile. She laid her second pizza slice down and looked up at her brother. "It's Papa." she whispered, tears spring to her eyes once more. "Ah... ah saw some men hurt papa... told him to pay up or they were goin' to come back and hurt us all." She dropped her eyes. "Papa was hurt really bad, H.M. He had to go to the hospital and they said his.. his heart attacked him."
Murdock stiffened. His eyes rose to meet those of Hannibal's, but Hannible was watching the girl. Thus it was B.A. who set a big comforting hand on his friend's shoulder and squeezed gently.
"Don't worry, man. It'll be alright." his words were gentle, despite his booming voice.
Hannible leaned close to the girl who leaned away against Murdock's leg. "Do you mean a heart attack, Kyla?"
She nodded, not daring to look up into those penetrating gray eyes. She didn't understand the exposed feeling those eyes gave her, she just knew that, when it came to seeing things, he could see everything.
"Is he still in the hospital?"
Again she nodded. "In Fort Bragg. Albion doesn't have a hospital." She suddenly looked up at him with a fierce strength in her soft brown eyes which, immediately, reminded the team of Murdock in his angry mood. "They can't do that to him! They can't do that to us! My brother's a war pilot! He's Lord of my
skies!" She turned around and looked up at Murdock. "You won't let them hurt Papa, will you? I know you and he don't get along. but he's our Papa!" it became a plea.
Captain H.M. Murdock hugged her to him and looked up at the Colonel again.
Hannible sighed, leaning back once again. "He's probably safe while he's in the hospital. Too many witnesses." He glanced at B.A. "Sergeant, get the map. Find out how long it will take us to get to... Fort bragg?"
The girl's head snapped about, her expression so full of hope it was nearly
overwhelming. "You're gonna help us?"
Hannible grinned. A cigar appeared, without even a request to face, in his hand and he stuck it between his teeth. "We never pass up an invitation." he told her, trying to be reassuring for both her and his Captain.
"Aw... Hannibal..." Face started in that poking-holes-in-the-plan tone he was famous for with the team. "Isn't Fort Bragg a rather large, busy, well populated military base? How, I can't believe I'm going to ask this, do you intend on getting three military fugitives in there? Without a bypass to the brig, that is."
Hannibal opened his mouth to answer, but Kyla's giggle stole his attention.
The little girl stepped away from her brother and reached out to pat the lieutenant's arm. "It's okay. Ah'm not so good at geography either." she offered.
Face frowned, looking down at the little girl.
"Not THAT Fort Bragg, fool!" B.A. growled. He showed the map to his team mate. "Fort Bragg, California."
"It's a little fishing town up the coast in Mendocino County." Hannibal explained.
"There hasn't been military there, for the exception of Coast Guard, for over a hundred years." Kyla said dropping down on the couch. With a yawn, she leaned back against her brother. "An' papa calls them puddle jumpers and wave hoppers. Nothin' to worry 'bout long as you don't get your feet wet." She smiled even as her eyes closed and she snuggled in. "An' we Murdocks were air born. We don't get our feet wet."
Hannibal smiled at the girl. She was so much like Murdock it was hard to believe that the two had spent little more than a few days together her entire life. "Lieutenant, why don't you show our young guest to a bed."
Kyla's eyes snapped open at the suggestion that she leave her brother.
But Hannibal quickly assured "Your brother will be in in a few minutes to tuck you in."
Kyla sat up. "Ah'm practically all grown up! Ah don't need no one to tuck me in!" she declared, but, after climbing to her feet, she glanced back to make sure that was indeed H.M's intentions. Reassured with a smile and a nod, Kyla turned, took Face's offered hand, and followed him out of the room and down the hall.
When they had gone, Hannibal eyed his Captain.
The pilot looked exhausted. They had barely done anything that day, but what little they had done had drained Murdock of nearly all his emotional strength. Any conversation that involved the elder Murdock seemed to have that effect. Which did not brighten the out look for the days to come.
"You alright, Murdock?" Hannibal asked.
The Captain rubbed his hands over his face. After a moment he looked up at him. "Ol' man Murdock doesn't want to have anything to do with me, Colonel. He won't be happy to see us knocking on the door."
"Good thing we're not going for him." Hannibal answered.
"That's right, man." B.A. put in. "Little Kyla needs her big brother! An' we're gonna make sure she gets him." He offered him a rare yet honest smile.
"Yes, we are." Hannibal agreed softly. "In the mean time, can you tell us anything to help us out? What sort of air port are we looking at? Who most likely belongs there? Who doesn't? Anything you could think of."
Murdock shrugged. "I've only been there once. Ol' Man Murdock's last marriage." he smiled slightly. "That's when I first met Empress. She was only five yrs old then. We flew paper airplanes over the reception." His smile wavered. Again he rubbed his hands over his face. "The old man doesn't allow just anyone to fly his planes. He has to be the one to teach them and he only teaches those he can control." He paused, shaking his head. "I don't know much else about him, Hannibal. I was the only thing left of a part of life he left behind. The only reason I was even invited to the wedding because Sandy wanted to meet me. She's the one who get my letters to Empress. She's a good step-mumsy to Empress." He frowned. "She probably went nuts when Empress disappeared."
"Well, we'll get her home safe and sound." Hannibal sighed. "Go tuck in your sister and get some sleep. We start out early."
Murdock nodded, pushing himself to his feet. "Hey, Colonel? Thanks."
His commanding officer waves it away. "Family's family."
Face picked up the bomber jacket and hung it on the bed post. He paused a moment, noting that her jacket had fallen in almost the same place H.M. often dropped his. Damn, they were so much alike!
"You really ware this stuff?" Kyla mumbled returning from the bathroom waring one of his silk pajamas shirts. She wrinkled her nose as she fingered the material of the sleeve. "It smells all flowery." she complained.
Face chuckled. He held the covers back, allowing her to climb into the king size bed. "I thought girls were supposed to like flowery stuff."
Kyla snatched up her baseball cap and returned it to her head before climbing into the big bed. "Ah never liked flowers much. Papa says pretty things like that just get in the way of gettin' what needs to be done done."
"Well, that sounds sensible, but there's plenty that can't get done right without pretty things." Face pulled the covers up under her chin and sat on the edge of the bed. "For instance: raising a little girl can't be done right without pretty things." He smiled at her.
Kyla watched him with those big brown eyes of hers, ever curious, ever searching just like her big brother (did the similarities ever end?). "So, you're Facey." she finally observed.
The Lieutenant's brow wrinkled. "So, I am. Lieutenant Templeton Peck at your service." He tilted his head to one side. "Murdock told you about me?" The idea was kinda thrilling. No one ever wrote home about him before.
A crooked smile along with a mischievous twinkle to her eyes told him that he had indeed. "Lord tells me everything." She boosted herself up on her elbows and looked him up and down. "He didn't say you were a guy though."
Face frowned. 'Course he hadn't told anyone about Murdock either... not that he had anyone but the team, and they didn't need to be told.
Kyla dropped back in the pillows. "He was right. You are cute."
Face's cheeks burned with a sudden blush. "What exactly did he tell you about me?"
"Apparently too much." Captain Murdock answered as he stepped into the room. With a hoot, he leaped across the room and landed on his stomach across the foot of the bed.
The impact bounced the little girl nearly out onto the floor, but Face quickly caught her and reseated her.
H.M. crawled up beside her. Leaning close, he sniffed her shoulder. "You smell like Facey." he observed.
Kyla grinned. She leaned over to rest her forehead against his. "Ah like him. He's cute."
Murdock matched her grin. "Glad you approve." He winked up at Face who continued to blush.
Kyla grabbed his chin and turned his eyes back to her. Her grin was gone. "Everything's gonna be alright, ain't it, H.M?"
Murdock's own humor vanished as quickly as hers. "Hannibal will save the day. He always does." he promised. He gently kissed her forehead, before rolling over top of her and off of the bed. "Go to sleep, Empress of my world." He grabbed Face's arm and dragged him after him.
"Night, Lord of my skies." Kyla answered.
"Okay... what is this Lord and Empress thing?" Face asked before he could be dragged very far.
The grins returned to the siblings. Kyla shrugged. "He is the Lord of my skies." she declared as if that was all the answer needed.
"And she is the Empress of my world." Murdock added, apparently coming to the same conclusion that that explained it all. He waved at his sister one last time for the night. "Nighty-night. And don't bite the bed bugs. Remember: they were there first."
Kyla saluted and snuggled back into the pillows. She was asleep before the two men had closed the door behind them.
Outside the room, Face leaned into Murdock. "Just exactly what did you tell her about me?"
With a crooked smile and a mischievous twinkle to his eyes, the elder Murdock breathed into Face's ear "Wouldn't you like to know?"