On Course for Adventure
Hannibal Smith stood outside the front door of Maggie Sullivan's house in Bad Rock, waiting impatiently while tapping his foot on the porch. "Come on, Maggie. We're going to be late for the plane."
"I'm coming Hannibal," Maggie yelled from inside the house and swept past him with her bags in her hands within a minute, so he shut and locked the front door.
"Do we have enough time to make the plane, Hannibal?" Maggie asked.
"Yeah, with BA driving. Let's go, my love, we've got a long drive ahead and an even longer plane ride." Hannibal said as he loaded their bags into the back of the van before climbing into the back seat and sitting with Maggie with BA in the driver's seat.
"Thanks for the ride, BA," Maggie told BA
"No problem, Doc. That way you don't have to leave a car at the airport and pay them all that money to park it, and it'll be much safer at home. Remember to call once you get in and I'll pick ya up."
"Thanks, BA. We'll do that." Maggie stated to one of Hannibal's best friends.
So, BA drove to the airport while Hannibal and Maggie sat in the back of the van, enjoying each other's company in the relative quiet and darkness. Once they arrived at LAX, Hannibal and BA unloaded the suitcases while Maggie went to stand in line at the ticket counter to save time.
Before leaving, BA looked at Hannibal. "Hey, you two lovebirds have fun."
"You know we will, BA. That's for sure." Hannibal answered.
"Be careful, Hannibal," BA stated to his best friend and commanding officer.
"BA, we're going on an ocean cruise, not storming the Bastille. What kind of trouble can we get into on a cruise ship while it's steaming across the ocean?" Hannibal replied.
"If I know you, Hannibal, you'll find a way. The trouble will find you like it always does." BA replied as he winked at him. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do, Colonel?" BA turned away, snickering since it was always fun to rib the ol' colonel a little every once in a while because he rarely got the chance.
"Catch ya later, BA," Hannibal yelled back.
"Have a good time and spend some time in the sun, Hannibal. You're blinding me with you glaring white arms and legs." BA yelled back.
"Don't worry about that BA, you know we will, and I'll make sure he gets a tan without any lines," Maggie snickered as she called back from the ticket counter. The ship had a small adult's only area where you didn't need a swimsuit, and she intended to 'show off' her Hannibal and his physically fit and muscled up body since he had spent the last three months eating right and working out with weights getting in shape for this cruise. Now if I could get him to stop smoking, everything would be perfect, well one project at a time and the cigars are the next one, Maggie thought to herself.
An hour later Hannibal and Maggie boarded their plane and sat in first class, bound for Hawaii and a long relaxing ocean cruise back to California. Face made sure to get first class so they were traveling in comfort and not cramped in coach because it was a long eight-hour flight and Hannibal and Maggie deserved the best. After getting in the air they watched the moving landscape below until the land fell away to the ocean, so they looked at each other and relaxed, ready for the long vacation week ahead. They were alone at last with no team to intrude into their intimate moments or the US Army to pull them apart. It was just going to be them in a balcony ocean cabin, together with nothing to do but be together.
A couple of hours into the flight, Hannibal glanced out the window and saw a fast moving carrier task force heading towards Hawaii. "Hey look, Maggie. It's one of ours. I wonder which carrier that is?"
"I'm not up much on Navy stuff, Hannibal?" Maggie replied.
Hannibal shrugged. "Neither am I, Maggie. I was just wondering if something's going on in the world, not that it makes any difference to us since I'm not really in the army right now?" Hannibal stated as he took her hand and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. "I can't wait until we get on the ship and get some time alone without any interruptions."
"Me neither, Hannibal. This was such a great idea. So, while we're in the air with nothing to do, let's relax and get some rest because it's a long flight. I get the feeling you're going to need all your strength honey, once we get on the ship." Maggie stated since she was planning on spending a lot of time in their balcony stateroom being close to the man she loved and away from everything and everyone.
"No problem there, Doctor Sullivan. I've spent a lot of time sleeping sitting up." Hannibal said as he yawned and stretched out in his long, lanky frame in the first class seat, intent on catching a nap during the long 8-hour flight to Hawaii. He'd been working out regularly since the fiasco with Douglas Kyle several months ago and lost a great deal of weight and gained a six pack around his waist, along with his arms and shoulders doubling in size and Maggie loved it. So, Hannibal rewarded himself by booking a vacation with her for accomplishing it, along with the plane tickets as an early birthday present from Face.
After arriving in Hawaii, Hannibal and Maggie retrieved their bags in baggage claim, caught a cab to the dock and made their way to the cruise ship, Ocean Princess. After checking in at the counter and having their baggage delivered to their cabin, the couple ate a nice lunch in the casual dining room and proceeded to stroll about the ship until it left the dock.
"Maggie, let's check out this boat and see where all the nice, cozy and quiet places are. We still have an hour before it leaves the dock." Hannibal stated.
"OK, Hannibal sounds like a plan to me, and you said you're not a romantic. I've never been on a ship this big before." Maggie replied holding Hannibal's hand as they walked along the passageway.
"I've never been on a cruise ship as a regular passenger and not on a mission. I've spent some time on a few Navy ships during joint exercises a time or two. I just want to check it out since we have some time to kill before we sail." Hannibal replied.
So as Hannibal and Maggie went off to explore the ship, holding hands, content with each other's company, little did they know trouble was about to find them, or at least Hannibal in the form of six people, four men and two women boarding the ship. They checked in as per ship procedure and shown to their cabins on C deck.
Right as Hannibal and Maggie made their way to the rail to watch the remained passengers board the ship, Hannibal spotted an older, balding gentleman walking up the gangway with a silver-blond haired older woman at his side.
"Great!" Hannibal exclaimed.
"What is it, Hannibal? What's wrong?" Maggie asked him.
"You know who that is, Maggie?" Hannibal asked, pointing at the balding man checking in below them since he recognized him from a recent news report.
"No, Hannibal. I don't. Who is it?" Maggie asked.
"It's Admiral Leroy Morgan. He's the Navy's Chief of Staff and a member of the Joint Chiefs, so he's an advisor to the President. Maggie, he's the highest-ranking officer in the Navy. I heard on the news the other day he's probably the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was making a speech on the news about some new treaty allowing the Navy access to ports in the Middle East since they changed their minds about allowing in nuclear weapons." Hannibal stated.
"What's the chance he'll recognize you, Hannibal? Not much, I'd think since he's navy and you're army. I don't see him recognizing you as the leader of the infamous A-Team on a cruise ship. But to be safe, we'll just avoid him whenever possible. It's a big ship, and I'm sure he has other things on his mind, honey." Maggie said as she pointed at the woman standing beside the Admiral. "Just like we do, Hannibal," Maggie stated as she elbowed her beloved lightly in the ribs. "Don't worry about it, Colonel Smith," Maggie said as she threw him a mock salute. "If he does, we'll deal with it."
"You're right of course, Maggie. So, what are your plans tonight, little girl?" Hannibal said as he looked at Maggie with the wonderful, devilish little boy twinkle in his eyes Maggie loved.
"Gee, I don't know. I guess we'll find out, huh." Maggie replied as she looked up at Hannibal, her eyes taking on their own devilish twinkle to match his. "Let's go to the rail. The ship is getting ready to depart because they're throwing lines."
"OK, Maggie. Let's go forward towards the bow because the view's better from there, by the way; you don't get seasick do you?" Hannibal asked.
"Hell of a time to ask, isn't it Hannibal since we are already here. But, no I don't get seasick." Maggie stated as Hannibal.
"Well, if you do. I guess I get to play doctor to you for a change." Hannibal stated with a twinkle in his eyes.
Maggie elbowed him lightly in the ribs again, "Not on your life, pal, your bedside manner stinks."
So after the ocean liner left the dock, Hannibal and Maggie stood near the bow and watched the water rush beneath the keel of the ship as the land disappeared in the distance behind them. After about an hour, they headed inside to get ready for dinner.
At 5 pm, Hannibal was putting on his tie as he was wearing a dark blue, almost black pinstriped suit with a matching vest and crisp white shirt and his silver hair stood out starkly against the dark suit. Dressed just as elegant, Maggie exited the bathroom wearing a black, low cut evening dress and stopped in front of Hannibal to straighten his tie which brought out a whistle from Hannibal. "You look so beautiful, Sullivan. I've never seen that dress before."
"I bought it especially for this trip, Hannibal. You look great too." Maggie thought to herself, boy he looks so handsome and fit in that tailored suit. I love him so much. I don't think I could live without him.
When Maggie stepped in front of the open curtain of the balcony, Hannibal marveled at her sunlit silhouette and thought about how lucky he was to have this special lady at his side as well as in his life. She was his support system, and Hannibal wanted to marry her eventually, but he needed to wait until the team caught a break and the charges dropped, and he knew in his heart it would happen someday and they would be together permanently.
Maggie spoke up and broke Hannibal out of his reverie. "Well, Colonel Smith are you ready to go?"
"You bet ya, Maggie. I'm starving, so let's go." Hannibal said as he took Maggie's left arm in his right, and they strolled hand in hand towards the dining room.
"I wonder who we'll be sitting with Maggie?" Hannibal thought out loud.
"I don't know, Hannibal. I've always heard it's half the fun getting to know people on these cruises. I hope they're nice." Maggie stated.
"Me too, Maggie. Me too."
Once Hannibal checked in at the front desk, a waiter escorted the couple to their table. Since they were the first couple to arrive at the table, Hannibal pulled out the chair for Maggie before sitting down beside her, a couple of minutes later Admiral Morgan and his wife showed up. And the first thing Hannibal did was stand up at attention before he even noticed what he was doing because of his military training, but stopped himself just shy of saluting the man and nodded to the Admiral and his wife. Hannibal thought to himself; I guess Murphy isn't going to take a vacation this time as Admiral Morgan put out his hand to Hannibal and introduced himself and his wife. Maintaining his legendary cool, Hannibal took his hand and shook it.
"Hello, I'm Leroy Morgan, and this is my wife, Susan."
"Yes, sir," Hannibal replied, letting his military training slip out again. "My name is John Smith, and this is Dr. Maggie Sullivan," Hannibal said, indicating Maggie with his hand. In another life, he would be saluting me, Hannibal thought as his Medal of Honor came to mind for some reason.
Admiral Morgan and his wife looked at Hannibal with a your kidding me look, and he knew that look since he got it all the time when he introduced himself with his real given name and not as Hannibal.
"Yes, I know. John Smith. What a cliche, huh? But, that's my name." If you only knew, Admiral, Hannibal thought. "You can call me JJ if you want, that's what my mother always called me."
"Okay, Mr. Smith. It's nice to meet you and Doctor Sullivan. I guess we'll be seeing a lot of each other being seated at the same table." The Admiral stated.
"Yes sir, it does," Hannibal said.
"Well, what do you do for a living, Mr. Smith?"
"I'm an actor and stuntman in Hollywood, Admiral. Have you ever seen any of the Aquamaniac movies? I'm the Aquamaniac, and I've played him in four movies now."
"I've never seen any of them, myself. But my grandkids love them. Could you give me your autograph, Mr. Smith? The grandkids would sure love it." The admiral asked.
"Sure, no problem sir. I'll see if I can find a picture or dig up something to sign for them and give it to you later." Hannibal stated and thought to himself, gee whiz my first autograph, and it's to a navy admiral.
The two couples talked about recent events while waiting for their dinner to arrive and Admiral Morgan glanced over at Hannibal and decided to ask an obvious question, given Hannibal's earlier reaction,"Were you ever in the military, Mr. Smith?"
Shaking his head while he gave Maggie a look, Hannibal knew his military bearing and the way he acted when the Admiral arrived tipped the man off, but there was no way he could get around it, so he answered truthfully, and Maggie knew Hannibal wound not lie to the Admiral.
"Yes, Admiral. I was in the army" Hannibal replied.
"I thought so because you keep calling me sir. What was your rank? Did you see any action?" Admiral Morgan asked
"Yes sir, I guess you could say I saw some action. I was a Lt. Colonel in the 5th Special Forces, sir. I went to West Point, and I had one combat tour in Korea and four in Vietnam." Hannibal replied.
"An academy and a career man, huh?" The admiral stated.
"Yes sir, I guess you could say that or at least I used to be. Now, I'm in Hollywood with a different type of enemy to deal with called agents, directors and producers and each one trying to see how they can make money off you." Hannibal smiled broadly. "Sharks all of them."
"I bet they are. I don't envy you, Colonel. Not at all." The admiral stated.
"Yeah, it's a jungle out there, admiral and you can call me JJ like I said, my mother always called me that." Hannibal hoped the admiral would not make the connection with the team since he was using his mother's name for him.
"OK, same here. Please call me Leroy. I'm on vacation."
Their waiter soon appeared at their table and brought their appetizer. "Looks delicious, doesn't it Maggie," Hannibal stated.
Hannibal looked at her. "I'll be right back, Maggie. I need to make a pit stop and wash my hands." Hannibal said as he got up and headed down the hall towards the restroom.
While he was away, all hell broke loose over the ship. One of the terrorists took the bridge, while two gained control of the engine room, and the other three took the dining room where the majority of the passengers on board were located. Somehow the six terrorists got fully automatic weapons through security and were now using them to gain complete control of the ship. To emphasize his point that he was in control, the taller of the men, a dark-headed man in his 40's sprayed automatic weapons fire into the ceiling to get the attention of the all of the occupants of the dining room.
"Everybody down on the floor and put your hands behind your heads. NOW. Don't try anything or you're dead." As she got on the floor, Maggie looked around before lying down on the deck, and she didn't see Hannibal anywhere in the room, "Hannibal's not here," she whispered to Admiral Morgan as she laid down next to him.
"Who?" The admiral asked because he didn't know anyone named Hannibal.
"My friend, Colonel John Smith. I call him John when I'm mad at him, but most of his friends call him Hannibal or colonel, so just keep calm, Admiral. Hannibal will come up with a plan to get us out of this, I'm sure of it. He always comes through when it counts."
"I don't know, Dr. Sullivan. Who knows how many of them are aboard this ship or what they want? It would be one man against who knows how many." The admiral replied to Maggie, and she seemed so sure about this Hannibal and his ability to pull off the impossible.
"I know that, but you don't know Hannibal. That's his specialty when the odds aren't in his favor with the deck stacked against him; he always finds a way. Do you remember he told you he was in the 5th Special Forces in Vietnam?" Maggie explained.
"Yeah, I remember him telling me that and what's that got to do with this situation. So what." The admiral stated. He still didn't understand what Maggie was trying to say.
"The army considered him the absolute expert in small unit tactics, you've heard of the A-Team I take it, Admiral?" Maggie asked the admiral.
"Who hasn't Dr. Sullivan?" And then it dawned him,"He's THAT Colonel Smith."
"Yes, he is. He'll come up with a plan, he always does. You just have to have faith and please don't tell them." Maggie said, indicating the terrorists in the room with her thumb.
"Don't worry about that, Miss Maggie. I have no intentions to do so." The admiral replied, he wasn't about to tell the terrorists they had a former green beret on the loose, who was a man no one could catch or keep a hold of if they did, the man was known as a modern-day Houdini and able to pull off the impossible.
A man and a woman walked over the Admiral and pulled him to his feet. "Be quiet, all of you. You," pointing at the Admiral, "come with us." And they led the Admiral to the other side of the room, leaving Maggie and Susan alone on the floor under their table.
"Don't worry, Mrs. Morgan. I know Hannibal will come up with something we just have to keep the faith. I just know he will." Maggie said as she hugged Susan to give her some of her strength because in her own heart she hoped Hannibal could pull this off alone and no one would get hurt, especially Hannibal since he tended to attract injuries like gunshot wounds like honey attracted flies.
When Hannibal heard the automatic machine gun fire, he went into action, and the adrenaline dump into his system caused his body to tense up like a tightly coiled spring ready to explode as he looked into the hall beyond the bathroom. As he expertly scanned the area, Hannibal hoped Maggie was all right, but until he knew what exactly the situation was, she had to wait, and it tugged at his heartstrings because he loved her so much. After watching the hall for a few seconds, Hannibal eased out and hugged the wall while looking for a place to hide in case someone unexpected came out into the hallway and spotted him.
As Hannibal crept down the corridor towards the dining room, he checked both directions to make sure he was alone, and it took him a few seconds to switch from the Hannibal Smith on vacation and a semi-civilian to the cold, efficient and ruthless combat hardened soldier he was in Vietnam. Since Hannibal knew he needed information more than a weapon at the moment, he stalked the hallway looking for a victim. Whoever these people were, he thought, they're trained and well armed with a perfect plan by waiting until most of the passengers were inside the dining room for dinner. So, once they had the bridge and the engine room, the gunman had complete control of the ship once they had control of the passengers. As Hannibal thought about the layout of the ship from a map he saw in near the elevators, he figured these terrorists probably have guards on the bridge and in the engine room to make sure that those men behaved themselves and didn't contact someone for help.
Knowing he had to find a way to take back the ship alone, Hannibal listened through the crack in the dining room door, trying to obtain any information on what was going on inside. Not getting anywhere that way over the racket of the passengers inside, Hannibal peeked through the crack between the doors and watched a man and two women carrying automatic rifles moved in and out of his field of vision as the man pulled Admiral Morgan to his feet and forced him to the other side of the room. Since this guy was keeping such a tight hold on the Admiral, Hannibal knew he was the one they came for.
After they moved away out of his vision, Hannibal saw Maggie and Susan Morgan on the floor under their table, and he breathed a sigh of relief. At least Maggie's all right; he thought as he stood there for a moment. Since he needed to move before getting spotted, Hannibal checked the area and climbed the stairs the two decks to his cabin since the suit he was wearing wasn't up to the task of taking out terrorists.
After changing into a pair of jeans, short-sleeved shirt, and his tan safari jacket, along with putting his large pocketknife and a small mirror in his pocket, Hannibal headed towards the bridge hoping to get a handle on the situation. Angling the mirror under the crack in the door, Hanibal watched two men talking with both of them carrying automatic weapons. The men were relaxed, almost causal as they stood there because they didn't expect trouble from anyone on the ship. In their opinion, the passengers were just a bunch of boozed up tourists on vacation, and they had accounted for just about everyone on board, he thought. And look at how they're just standing with their guns pointed at the floor, no military discipline at all, Hannibal thought, Yeah buddy, just wait, you're about to get your worst nightmare and more than you ever bargained for on this job. Bet you didn't account for having a green beret on board, did you?
The men continued to talk for a few minute before one headed for the stairs, so Hannibal followed him into the lower decks of the ship, and he would be his first victim. After staying a safe distance behind, and once he was sure there was no one else around, Hannibal jumped him from behind and placed a homemade shoestring garrote around the man's neck. As soon as he passed out, Hannibal moved him into one of the empty cabins and tied him up with a roll of duct tape.
So, with his first victim secured and needing further information, Hannibal threw a bucket of ice cold water into the man's face and then put an AK-47 against the man's temple to warn him any sudden moves or sounds would cost him very dearly. Of course, after the dousing by cold water, the man woke up wet, sputtering and angry until he realized the muzzle of his gun was against the side of his head.
"So, pal. What're you guys doing here? What do you want?" Hannibal asked.
"What's it to you, mister. You're out of your league and just don't know it." The man replied.
"I'm not so sure of that pal because I'm not the one who's tied up with duct tape with a gun to my head," Hannibal stated bluntly.
Once the terrorist realized he was alone, tied up and there was no one to help him, he tried to bluff his way out with Hannibal, not knowing he was up against the master. "Who are you anyway, mister?" He asked.
"Me pal, I'm just a passenger on this big old boat. But I'm your worst nightmare. Your friends in the dining room have the lady I love and if she's hurt in any way, believe me, you and your pals will pay with your lives." Hannibal growled.
"As I said, mister. You're out of your league. You don't know who you're dealing." The man said because he hadn't realized he was up against a battle-hardened soldier, yet.
"Yes, I do you're just a bunch of dirtbags. I took you down easy enough, and I didn't even break a sweat. I hate to tell you, but your friends picked the wrong boat to highjack. I was in the army fighting and killing in combat before you were even born, sonny boy. So now," Hannibal said as he pressed the muzzle of the rifle into the man's temple, even more, to emphasize his point, "what do you guys want?"
Seeing the icy cold stare and the cruel glint in Hannibal's blue eyes the terrorist realized he was dealing with a real pro and got desperate because this was a man who knew how to play the game. "Listen, mister. We can make a deal here. We can get you and your lady off the boat with us, no questions asked. Just let me go and let us do what we came here to do."
"What's that?" Hannibal asked again, pressing the muzzle of the rifle even harder.
"We want to take Admiral Morgan off the boat so the people we work for can get information out of him and no one will know he is missing. He knows the position, codes and launch procedures of the US nuclear weapon systems." The man stated because he didn't know Hannibal would never allow that to happen.
Hannibal looked coldly at him. "So that's what you want, but if you take him off the ship, they'll figure out he's missing pretty soon, and the codes and positions will be changed and useless to you, unless... Unless," Hannibal paused, looking at the man. "Unless you plan to sink this ship and everybody on it to keep the US government from knowing Admiral Morgan is missing. OK, dirtbag, where's the bomb? It has to be someplace below the waterline to make sure the ship sinks. Where is it?" Hannibal emphasized his point again by pressing the muzzle of the rifle harder against terrorist's temple and tightening his finger on the trigger. "Don't make me angry, dirtball. You really don't want to see me angry or know what I'll do to you if you don't tell me. Believe me; I know lots of ways of getting men to talk who don't want to from experience via the POW camps in Vietnam." Hannibal stated.
"You still don't know who you're dealing with, mister." The terrorist stated as he kept trying to bluff his way out.
"Yes, I do. Dirtballs. Listen, sonny. I spent a lot of time in Vietnam during the war in the Special Forces." The man looked straight at Hannibal, realizing the kind of man he was dealing with. "Yeah, pal. I was a green beret. So I know first hand how much pain someone can take during torture first hand and how to keep them alive while doing it. Do you want me to try out a few techniques I learned on you? If not, you'd better start talking. Now!" Hannibal made his point by pulling a large folding knife out of his pocket with his free hand, snapping open the silver blade and placing on the terrorist's leg near his crotch.
The terrorist saw the hard light in Hannibal's eyes and knew he wasn't kidding. "OK. OK. I'll tell you" as the fear crept into his voice since he didn't want to die or lose his manhood. "The bomb is in the engine room near the number one boiler on the port side. It's C-4 connected to a remote timer and detonator, Jason is the man in the dining room, and he has the remote trigger."
"Any booby traps connected to it?" Hannibal asked.
The man glared at Hannibal, and whether or not he should say anymore since he'd already said enough to bury himself and noticing his reluctance, Hannibal moved the knife from terrorist crotch towards his throat. The light of the room glinting off the large silver blade and the man's eyes got as big as silver dollars as Hannibal wiped the blade on his pants. "No. No booby-traps. We didn't expect any trouble from a bunch of drunk tourists."
"That's you're first mistake, kid. Murphy never takes a vacation; he's always out there. Always expect the unexpected and you'll live longer. Go on. Which wire should I cut?" Hannibal asked the scared man.
"The blue one. It'll disable the bomb and make it safe so the remote trigger won't set it off." The man stated with fear in his voice because he was afraid Hannibal might go ahead and carry out his threat no matter what he said due to the hard light in his eyes.
"How many are there on this boat and how'd you plan to get off before the bomb blows," Hannibal asked.
"Helicopter. There's a small ship taking up a position not far from here, and it's got a helipad There are six of us, four men and two women."
"Well, since I have you, that's five left. Why did you do this, kid?" Hannibal asked since wanted to know why this man would kill a boatload of innocent tourists.
"I needed the money. We're supposed to get a million dollars apiece for this job."
"No cause, just money. You're willing to kill over five hundred people just for the money." Hannibal said disgustedly.
"Yeah." The man said, suddenly feeling suddenly ashamed with Hannibal's cold eyes staring at him.
"Well, kid. You're out of it now." Hannibal said as he took on of the kids' arms and injected him with a syringe and the man was out like a light. "Thank god Maggie brought her medical bag with her," Hannibal said to no one as he threw the syringe in a wastebasket and looked around while planning his next move.
Of course, the first thing he needed to do was to disable the bomb in the engine room, so if this Jason hit the button, it wouldn't go off. So, that made the engine room was Hannibal's next target because if he failed to stop the terrorists and got caught or killed, the bomb wouldn't go off and sink the ship with everyone on board, including Maggie. After disabling the explosives, the next thing on the agenda was to contact someone about the plight of this boat and it hit him, the carrier task force he'd seen from the plane the day before. During the evacuation briefing after boarding the ship, the crew had instructed the passengers some of the lifeboats had emergency transmitters. So now Hannibal had to find one and contact the task force because they needed not only to retake this ship but stop the getaway vessel as well to stop the terrorist plan at both ends. But first, he had to get to the bomb and disarm it.
Taking the rifle and placing the web belt from his first victim around his waist, Hannibal checked the pistol to make sure it was loaded and counted the number of extra magazines. Once fully equipped, Hannibal headed below to the engine room being ever vigilant of someone walking out on him. With the hatch into the engine room open, Hannibal stayed low to avoid attention as he made his way inside and hid behind a large steam pipe as he saw the single man watching over the bulk of the engine room.
Since the terrorist had his back turned to him, Hannibal crept up silently behind him, but before he got to his victim, Murphy decided to strike as Hannibal kicked a half-hidden wrench under a water pipe. As it spun around, the wrench caused a loud bang as it hit the bulkhead, which brought the terrorist spinning around to face Hannibal. Now without a choice, Hannibal threw himself at the terrorist, and a fight quickly ensued, and both men went bouncing off the bulkheads and machinery around the room. It was an even match for several minutes with neither man able to get the upper hand. As Hannibal was pushed backward over a steam pipe, he went down hard, hitting the back of his head on a generator. Blinking away the stars, Hannibal saw the other man bearing down on him, ready to finish the fight and kill him with a knife in his hand. And Hannibal was about to jump up when he spotted the wrench he kicked earlier, so he waited until the last possible moment, rolled out of the way of his attacker, picked up the wrench and hit the man across the back of the head with it. And the terrorist went down to the ground with a thud and stayed down. So Hannibal stood up and spotted a roll of silver duct tape on a shelf, so he grabbed it and taped the man's hands, feet and mouth and then taped him to a ladder for an extra measure.
Rubbing the back of his head where he'd hit the pipe, Hannibal went to the number one boiler and quickly rendered the bomb harmless, but kept the C-4 and the fuse because had plans for it if he couldn't contact the task force to stop the getaway chopper from landing. Wiping the blood from his mouth and nose with the back of his hand, he headed topside after retrieving the rifle he dropped during the fight. Once on the lifeboat deck, Hannibal checked for any unfriendly's as he went to nearest lifeboat station and climbed under the cover. After locating the emergency radio, he tuned it to the military emergency frequency and started broadcasting an SOS, so after a couple of minutes, Hannibal received a response from the task force.
"This is the U.S.S. Nimitz. CVN-68. Please respond." The signal repeated itself as Hannibal picked up the mike.
"My name is Colonel John J. Smith. I'm a former green beret, and I'm a passenger on board the cruise ship Ocean Princess, our position somewhere between Hawaii and California. This ship has been taken over by terrorists. It is unknown at this time which group they might be affiliated with. They are after Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Morgan, and they want to get the positions and backdoor codes for the US nuclear weapon systems. Right now, I've taken out two of them and disarmed the bomb in the engine room." Hannibal continued on to explain the rest of the situation on board.
"We'll get two Marine Corps security details together, Colonel Smith and get them to you right away. Is there any way you can get the ship stopped for us? It would sure make things easier to get aboard."
"Sure, I was headed for the bridge after talking with you. The three terrorists have Admiral Morgan in the dining room with the rest of the passengers. I'm guessing they're going to wait there until the helicopter shows up for them to leave. Hurry guys. Out." Hannibal stated before turning off the radio.
After poking his head up slowing from under the cover of the lifeboat, Hannibal looked left and right before hopping out to the deck and heading for the bridge. Once there, Hannibal peeked into the side window and caught the eye of the crewmen at the helm and indicated to the man with hand signals to distract the gunman while he entered the bridge. So, the crewman carefully walked over to the navigation station as if to check the ship's course and fumbled with the grease pencil as he dropped it on the floor. Being somewhat nervous, the gunman closely watched the crewman as he bent over and didn't notice Hannibal crack open the hatch and look inside. So with muscles coiled like a tight spring, Hannibal burst into the room and tackled the man from behind, and his momentum sent them flying across the bridge into the port side bulkhead. Hannibal hit his head again and saw stars, but he quickly shook off the light-headed feeling as the other crewmen moved in and helped him subdue the gunman.
While the bridge crew tied up the terrorist, Hannibal explained the situation and ordered an all stop on the ship's engines. The men, relieved to no longer have a gunman watching their every move quickly complied with his orders, but it was going to take a while for the big ship to come to a complete stop.
"Who's the officer of the deck?" Hannibal asked.
"I am, sir." A young man in his late 20's answered. "Ensign Parker, sir."
"OK, here's the scoop ensign. I used the emergency radio in a lifeboat to contact the USS Nimitz carrier task force not far from here. There should be a Marine Corps security detail or a seal team on its way by now. Ensign Parker, take that weapon," Hannibal ordered, indicating the rifle the gunman had dropped, "and hold this bridge until they get here. Help will be here soon, boys." The bridge crew let out a sigh of relief upon hearing the news that Marines would arrive shortly.
Hannibal looked around and selected two men. "You and you," pointing at the two men. "Come with me," as he handed them weapons, one a rifle and one a pistol taken from the two terrorists with Hannibal keeping one rifle for himself. "We're going to take out the rest of these dirtbags; they're in the dining room with the rest of the passengers. Don't fire at them unless you have a really clear shot. Those people down there are scared enough as it is and we don't want to hit any of the passengers." Especially, Maggie, he thought. God, I hope she's all right. "Let's go, guys." Hannibal stated as he led his two 'volunteers' into the passageway towards their destination, the main dining room with their weapons held at the ready. After arriving, Hannibal stationed one of the men at the main door and the other at the second exit a little farther down the hall.
"I'm going around and check out the kitchen entrance, just watch my back and wait for my signal," Hannibal told the two men.
"What signal would that be, sir?" One of the men asked.
"You'll know it when you hear it, son. Believe me; it'll be when all hell breaks loose. Just be ready." Hannibal said as he left the two men and headed for the kitchen.
The passengers in the dining room were getting really nervous and scared with several of the children crying as their parents tried to comfort them to no avail. Of course, Maggie watched the scene as it played out and hoped that Hannibal was OK. She knew in her heart he would do everything he could to help them, even with his dying breath if it came down to it. As the thought hit her, Maggie grabbed Susan Morgan's shoulder to give her some of her strength and to bolster up her own. With the noise of the crying children, the two female terrorists seemed a little antsy, and the man with the admiral kept a gun to his head as if afraid that the man would try to get away.
"Well, Admiral. It won't be long now because our friends will be here soon." The main gunman, Jason told the Admiral.
"I'll go with you and won't give you any hassles just don't hurt any of these people or my wife."
"Don't worry, Admiral. All we want is you. These people will be free to go on their way as soon as the helicopter arrives to pick us up."
As Maggie scanned the room, wondering what she could do to help the scared children, she spotted Hannibal's silver hair as he peeked through the window of the kitchen door. Knowing he needed some kind of diversion to get into the room and the crying children gave Maggie an idea, so he got up and walked over to one of the female terrorists being careful not to look Hannibal's way.
"I'm a doctor. Please, would you let me check on these kids and see if there's anything I can do to quiet them down?" Maggie asked.
"Sure, but no funny business if you want to keep breathing." The woman stated.
"I'm a doctor, not a troublemaker." Maggie lied. If you only knew who I'm dating, she thought. So, Maggie walked over to the child the nearest to the ship captain and whispered to him. "We have help in the kitchen, but we need a diversion for him to get in here without being mowed down by these people and their automatic weapons. Do you think you can come up with something to draw their attention? I'm going to move these kids to the other side of the room and get them down for their safety."
The Captain nodded slightly as Maggie started moving from child to child, efficiently herding them together into a small group to the other side of the room away from the kitchen to protect them when Hannibal entered, and all hell broke loose.