Humid, damp and sticky. Hannibal was sure he would never get used to the jungle. No amount of special forces training or army experience could prepare you for what life was truly like in the terrifying wilds of Vietnam. At least he was still alive, which was more than could be said for the Viet Cong commander his unit had just taken out. The mission had been simple: enter a compound, take out a general, get the hell out. They had taken a tactic of stealth and for once it had paid off, with only a few of the guards taking pot shots at their retreating figures. The thick, wonderful feeling of jazzed up adrenaline sang through his veins and Hannibal knew that despite the never-ending hardships of the wilderness and battle, he was exactly where he needed to be.
Hannibal glanced left, right, behind him. Good. It was still clear. He looked ahead again, his cool gaze boring into the back of BA's camouflage, forty-pound rucksack and the sergeant's helmeted head. He liked the mechanic. The kid had an attitude that left wanting, but there was a certain honesty to it. Besides, BA could fix just about anything mechanical and that was a skill that had saved their lives multiple times already. In front of him and leading their little party was Face. A good-looking kid too young to be a lieutenant, but one nonetheless. Face could charm anyone out of anything and had a knack of getting his own way, often through questionable methods. Hannibal could just about make out the splatter of blood on the kid's shoulder where the young man had taken the graze of a bullet from one of the guards. Face had been lucky to barely miss the bullet, but the kid's shoulder must have been sore as hell nonetheless. There would be time to clean that up later.
Hannibal flicked his hand up and peered at his watch: 16:45. Fifteen minutes to get to the landing zone and they couldn't have been more than ten minutes away from it. Not much of a time buffer but enough for now.
"Let's speed it up guys." He hissed, keeping his voice loud enough to be heard by his men, but quiet enough to be lost to the sounds of the rainforest. All three quickened their pace.
They pressed on. The thick humidity never letting up for a moment as the three sweated and toiled through the overgrown jungle canopy. All three were weary but wary, alert for any signs of traps or enemy soldiers. It paid to stay alert and you could pay with your life if you weren't. They hadn't spotted a sign of being pursued from the compound and had hard marched for three hours since then, but Hannibal was still not ruling out the possibility that there may be people behind them. They had been lucky so far but Hannibal suspected that their luck could only hold out for so long and the landing zones were often where things heated up.
Abruptly, Face held his hand up, calling a halt with a simple gesture. The kid then pointed to the ground beside him and beckoned to the others. Cautiously, BA and Hannibal shifted forwards to stand either side of him.
"The landing zone is up ahead." Face spoke softly and gestured forwards.
Hannibal shifted a little to find a gap between the thick branches of the foliage that surrounded them. Peeking through, he could just about make out a flattened, clear, radial expanse of grass covered terrain. It looked empty enough for now and that was always something of a relief, although Hannibal was well aware that that situation could change as swiftly as the wind.
"BA, get the comms going. Face, scout around a little, but stay within visual contact of us."
They scurried to do their tasks, moving quickly, quietly and efficiently. Hannibal swung his riffle off his shoulder, keeping the weapon alert and ready. He found himself chewing his bottom lip, yearning for a cigar and the nicotine hit that always kept his head cool in tense situations. Glancing down, he could see BA fumbling with the large field radio for a moment before it was passed up to Hannibal.
"Alpha to aerial, come in aerial, over." Hannibal pressed a button and spoke into the cumbersome object as clearly and quietly as he could.
Static greeted him in response.
"Alpha to aerial, come in aerial, over."
"This is aerial to alpha, reading you loud and clear, over." Murdock's chirpy voice came through the speaker clearly.
"Alpha at rendezvous, state your ETA? Over."
"ETA five minutes. Any fun and games down your end? Over."
"All quiet so far. Too quiet I suspect. Land to the east of the landing zone. Stay vigilant. Over."
"Roger that. See you in five. Stay safe. Out."
Hannibal handed the radio back to BA who quickly began to repack the high-tech equipment safely back into his rucksack. Meanwhile, Face approached them slowly, keeping low and looking a little nervous, riffle clutched in his sweat-soaked hands. He sidled up to them and straightened up, allowing the vegetation to keep him hidden from whatever threat was out there.
"There's a patrol the other side of the clearing. Six of them. Lightly armed. They shouldn't do much damage to the chopper, but they might damage us." Face's voice had gone even quieter if possible, "They haven't seen or heard us yet, but they'll sure as hell'll see the chopper coming."
"Get yourselves ready to move as soon as Murdock touches down. Stay quiet, armed and vigilant. Hopefully we can be out of there before they know we are here, but if they start firing at Murdock then cover him." The colonel commanded.
Hannibal shifted his rifle a little, switching the safety off. He peered through the vegetation, keeping himself hidden from view through practiced expertise. Looking closer, he could just about notice a little movement in the trees and, with a well-trained eye, he could judge the movement was not going the way the breeze was blowing. That must be them. Sighting down his rifle, he got a better look. The patrol appeared to be heading away from the landing zone, heading out into the jungle. Good. Must be a routine patrol. They would doubtless be back when Murdock appeared, but at least it gave them a little more time and kept the enemy distracted.
Patience had never been a virtue of his companions and although the colonel was willing to wait, he could tell that the others were struggling as the seconds ticked by. Face was keeping still, but kept looking around, his gaze never in one place for more than a second. BA was scowling spectacularly to hide his nerves and was adjusting the straps on his pack a little. Hannibal knew that BA had never been much of a flyer and their pilot of choice pulled off some manoeuvres that made even Hannibal nervous at times. Hannibal got the impression that BA would rather face a hundred Viet Cong than get into an aircraft of any description with Murdock. Still, BA hadn't passed special forces training for nothing and had learnt to control that fear or at least replace it with aggression. Nonetheless, Hannibal always kept an eye on BA before a flight. It helped to know your troops, their strengths and their weaknesses and Hannibal knew his current team better than any before.
A small smile came to Hannibal's lips. In the distance, the faintest sound of a chopper could be heard. Doubtless only by the trio on the ground so far. They were expecting it. Listening for it. Praying for it. Hannibal peered down the sight of his rifle again, but the enemy had disappeared into the undergrowth once more and there was no sign of them. For now, at least.
"Get ready." The whispered command hardly needed saying. Face and BA stiffened and both gripped their guns tighter. All three stood dead still as the sound of the helicopter gradually got louder.
They heard shouting before they saw the enemy again. It was distant for now but was quickly getting closer. The soldiers weren't being careful in their approach to the landing zone, choosing speed over caution to try and hot tail it back to the area at the sounds of the approaching chopper.
"Let's get a little closer, but stay low. Get your weapons ready."
They inched forwards, getting as close to the landing zone whilst staying under the blessed cover of the vegetation as they could. All three were poised for action, their muscles tense, guns ready and expressions grim. The sounds of the chopper were getting closer and closer, as were the sounds of the enemy.
Suddenly, the helicopter appeared, low in altitude and ready to land. Hannibal could just make out their lanky pilot in the controls, mouth agape in concentration as he started to lower the Huey. As usual, the pilot was flying alone, another quirk that enabled Murdock to fly for the commando team at the drop of a beret. A crackle of gunfire from the other side of the clearing announced the presence of the enemy, the bullets snapping towards the helicopter.
"Move it now!" Hannibal yelled, jumping out of cover and starting to leg it towards the quickly landing helicopter.
Hannibal allowed one quick glance behind himself before snapping his attention ahead, observing enemy, ground, chopper, everything. Good. BA and Face were moving. A hailstorm of bullets informed the trio that their presence had been spotted by the enemy.
"Stay low and fire!" The colonel roared, sending a few shots towards the patrol. He was rewarded with a man falling down in a shower of blood and a piercing scream.
And they did just that, ducking down and dodging and weaving to stay out of the way of the metal tubes of death. Pausing now and then to aim, shoot and run. Murdock finally came to a smooth landing, although kept the chopper's blades rotating, ready to go as soon as they were onboard. Hannibal watched as the pilot ducked down a little, trying to stay out of the firing line whilst staying upright enough to watch the proceedings closely. Another volley of bullets came hurtling towards them and Hannibal tried to crouch down even further whilst increasing his running speed.
Hannibal halted dead and spun around, taking the scene in at a glance. BA had taken a bullet to the leg and Face had obviously cried out in distress. As one, Face and Hannibal flicked the safety catches onto their riffles and slung them onto their backs, moving to the injured man. Hannibal took the right side and Face took the left and the two helped BA towards the chopper.
Ten paces, five.
Another round of bullets went hurtling past them, a few denting the sides of the chopper.
Hannibal launched himself into the chopper and leant down. He pulled, Face pushed and BA growled. Somehow, they dragged the wounded man aboard and Face scrambled in behind him.
"Murdock get this bird off the ground!" Hannibal yelled.
The pilot needed no second bidding and moments later Hannibal felt the familiar pull of forces and "YAAHOOO" of the pilot as the chopper slowly got air bourn. A few token rounds of gunfire were sent in their direction, but nothing they possessed caused any damage at this distance. A few moments later and they were headed towards home – not safe by any stretch, but safer than they were.
Hannibal turned his attention to BA who was lying on his back on the floor. The man looked a little pale and angrier than ever. Kneeling down, Hannibal began to examine the injury, seeing what basic first aid he could apply before they got back to base and the professionals. The bullet hadn't gone in deep and the wound wasn't too deep.
"How're you feeling, Sergeant?" Hannibal asked gently, as he routed around in a first aid kit for some bandages to stop the blood flow.
"I'm fine. I hate flyin'." BA grouched in response, shifting a little to try and get a bit more comfortable.
"Flying just saved your life." Hannibal replied gently.
"Still hate it."
"I'm sure it hates you too BA." Face chipped in sarcastically. The kid looked exhausted and relieved to be alive.
"Shut up!" BA growled, "When I get out of Vietnam, I ain't ever flyin' again."
Hannibal plucked out a cigar and took a moment to light it. He smiled. This really was exactly where he needed to be…
A/N: Thanks for reading. Feel free to review. I've kept Vietnam details a little vague as I'm no expert and taken a bit of creative licence with how the A-Team may have operated but please let me know if there are any glaring inaccuracies. I don't own the A-Team.