COPYRIGHT Apr 1998
"Problem, Captain?" Hannibal questioned, with seemingly mild concern as he gripped the back of the pilot's seat to steady himself. The old Army cargo plane bounced and lurched, fighting to stay airborne. Like a drowning man fights to stay on the surface, knowing it's only a matter of time before he sinks.
"Well Colonel, it appears..." Murdock began as he strained at the controls. "That this aircraft has decided not to fly anymore."
"Any possibility of convincing it otherwise, Captain?" Hannibal asked. His easy manner in the face of impending disaster caused Faceman to break into a grin, which quickly dissolved as the plane bucked and sputtered. They had borrowed, in old A-Team fashion, the aircraft from a small American base in Panama and were trying to make their way home when they all heard the loud bang. A sound you don't want to hear at 35,000 feet.
"I don't think so, Colonel," Murdock replied, slamming his fist into the console trying to make it obey. Face turned his attention to the dials spinning wildly in the console, trying to ignore the plane's proximity to the trees. Murdock prided himself on being able to fly anything with wings and hated when the laws of gravity interfered with that ability. A loud, angry voice rose up from behind Hannibal and a huge dark shape filled the doorway. "Welcome to the party, big guy!" Murdock turned just enough to flash the sourly black man a wide infectious grin.
Faceman slumped down into the con-pilot's high-back chair, his knees resting on the console. He had hoped BA would have stayed sedated until they reached the US. Face could feel the big man's dark, angry eyes glare down at him. A thin smile creased his face as it occurred to him that if the plane crashed he might not have to face BA's wrath.
BA snarled as he braced himself in the doorway, and looked out the viewport. "You keep this plane in the air, fool!"
Murdock rolled his eyes at BA's ludicrous demand. "Now, BA, I thought you hated flying?" Face asked. BA grabbed the back of Face's seat as the plane dropped several feet, causing everyone to catch their breath.
"I hate crashin' more. I don't wanna die in no plane!" BA howled.
Murdock kept his eyes on the rising landscape as he tried to pacify the big guy. "BA, you should feel honored. Many famous people have met their maker in planes; Patsy Kline, Glenn Miller, Jo Jo Bean."
Face wrinkled his brow in puzzlement as he asked, "Who was Jo Jo Bean?"
Still fighting to keep the airplane airborne Murdock replied, "Oh, he was this buddy of mine, who would have been famous if he hadn't died in a plane crash."
Hannibal suppressed a smile as he glanced towards a distressed BA, who was not amused by Murdock's glib remark, and probably wished he had remained sedated. Hannibal turned his attention to Murdock. "Do you know where we are?"
Murdock peered down into the dense jungle. "Ah, I think somewhere over Costa Rica. I think. With no place to land." A strange oscillating whine filled the cockpit, bringing a worried frown to Murdock's already distressed visage. He silently cursed and flicked switches across the console. "Colonel, I think you all need to find a comfy little spot and hold on." Hannibal detected the seriousness in Murdock's voice and his normal good-natured smile evaporated.
"Okay, captain do the best you can. Try and land us someplace soft." Murdock snorted quietly as Hannibal staggered out the cockpit, followed by BA, both swaying like drunken soldiers down the aisle.
Murdock suddenly blurted out, cocking his thumb to the back. "You too, Faceman!"
Face turned to confront two very sane and anxious brown eyes, something that looked very unnatural on Murdock's usual grinning face. "Maybe I can help?"
Murdock seemed to contemplate his friend's request, until another of the four engines cut out. He cursed. "Get in the back, lieutenant, that's an order!" The gravity of the situation brought home by Murdock's use of rank. Face unfastened his belt and got up. He squeezed the pilot's shoulder reassuredly and made his way to the rear. Murdock clenched his teeth, causing the muscles in his jaw to tense as he continued to fight the uncooperative and quickly descending aircraft. His eyes scanned the horizon for any possible place to land. All that laid before him was a carpet of treetops and an occasional rocky knoll. Someone once told him they believed he could land anywhere. At this point, he would settle for anywhere. "C'mon baby hang in there. Where's an airport when you need it?" Murdock had crashed numerous times in the past, but everyone always walked away. He wasn't about to ruin his record, as if to dismiss this fact the remaining engines suddenly conked out. Murdock rolled his eyes. "Thanks. I knew I should have stayed in the VA this time." He continued to try and keep the nose of the plane up. "Everyone resume crash positions!" he shouted to the back of the plane. The plane sunk slowly into the thick jungle canopy. Murdock hoped nothing larger than a pebble lied hidden underneath the dense foliage.
Hannibal, BA and Face had every confidence in their friend's ability as a pilot. It was the plane they had reservations about. Face tried to recall the number of times Murdock had pulled their asses out of any number of near fatal situations due to his extraordinary luck and incredible flying expertise. Face realized they would not be here today, if not for the eccentric pilot. The three tensed at the sound of branches scraping the bottom of the plane. Faceman looked up the aisle towards the cockpit, hoping their luck held out. He glanced back towards BA, who had become noticeably paler. His eyes were shut tight, his lips mouthing a silent prayer. The plane shook as it plowed through dense jungle vines and over small trees. The thunderous vibrations caused everyone to inhale, expecting the airplane to be ripped open like an over ripe watermelon at any minute. Suddenly the three were thrown brutally and without warning against their harnesses, then slammed back into their seats. It took a moment for Face to realize the plane had come to a stop. He slowly opened his eyes afraid of what he might see. He let out the breath he had been holding, for how long, he didn't know, but he felt a little lightheaded.
"You okay, kid?" Hannibal inquired as he inspected a broken cigar he pulled out of his shirt pocket. Nothing ever seemed to distress the sagacious, white-haired leader, as least not that anyone could tell.
"Yeah, I think so," Face replied, surprised at how calm his voice sounded compared to how much his hands shook trying to undo his belt. "Murdock pulled it out again. Is BA okay?"
"Get me out of this thing. I'm going to kill that crazy fool!" BA yelled as he struggled with his straps. Face thought to himself that maybe it would be safer for him and Hannibal if BA remained strapped down, especially since they were the ones who tricked him onto the plane.
Hannibal glanced back towards the agitated black man. "He's okay," he answered, smiling inwardly. The plane had come to rest slightly askew. Several windows were smashed and Face could feel and almost taste the thick, humid jungle air. He looked out to see cables and metal rods hanging down from where the wings use to be. The crash apparently silenced any nearby residence, for there was no sound except the ticking of the cooling engines.
Face made his way up the aisle towards the cockpit as Hannibal proceeded to help BA free himself from his entanglement. As Face neared the cockpit, his steps slowed. A cloud of apprehension engulfed him. He peered down upon an unconscious Murdock slumped to one side. A shiver went down his spine and he paled slightly at the sight of a tree branch, which had pierced the viewport and neatly impaled the co-pilot's seat. Face grasped the pilot's seat back to steady himself, swallowed, then turned his attention to Murdock just as Hannibal and BA entered. Face placed a hand on Murdock's shoulder. "Hey, Murdock you all right?" Hannibal placed a stopping hand on Face's arm.
"Wait a minute, Face. It might be better for him to remain unconscious." Hannibal's somber face sent another chill down Face's spine, all the way to his toes. He then noticed the detached instrument panel lying across the pilot's left leg, effectively pinning the captain. Blood slowly oozed out, soaking his pant's leg.
"Oh, man! Look what that crazy fool has gone an done now," BA mournfully remarked, coming up behind Hannibal.
Hannibal peered out the shattered viewport. He noticed a large tree, broken at the base lying across the nose of the plane.
He quickly checked Murdock's pulse. "BA, you're with me, we have to move that..." BA was halfway to the door before Hannibal even finished the sentence. Guilt stabbed at him as he recalled all the nasty things he was thinking earlier about the psychotic pilot. BA reached the fallen tree with Hannibal close behind. Both could feel their clothes already soaked through with sweat. BA took a moment to examine the situation. "Well, if we get a tree limb to use as a lever," Hannibal said, but BA ignored him and without saying a word climbed up onto the nose of the plane, which rocked slightly at his weight. BA braced himself against the cockpit and placed his feet on the tree trunk. With a strength that always amazed Hannibal, he forced the tree off the plane. The exertion showed on his dark face and bulging muscles. The nose rose slightly as the tree struck the ground with a muffled thump. BA quickly jumped down and raced back inside.
BA and Hannibal entered the cockpit, to the sound of Murdock's pain filled moans, as he slowly regained consciousness. "Easy, Murdock." Face tried to comfort his friend.
Murdock looked down at his leg and gritted his teeth. "I seemed to have sprung a leak." His eyes rolled back as his head rested against the seat. BA stepped in between the seats, placing his hands under the console and began to lift. Sweat poured down his dark face with the effort, slowly the metal relented to BA's strength. Face placed Murdock's arm across his shoulders and eased him up.
BA stepped back and took the pilot's other arm. "Don't worry, man, you'll be fine." They took a couple steps and laid him carefully in the aisle. Face stepped over Murdock and rushed to the rear to retrieve the first aid kit as Hannibal kneeled alongside the pilot.
Hannibal glanced sharply up at BA, before looking back at Murdock gently calling, "Captain. Murdock, can you hear me?"
Murdock's eyes flickered open and the hint of a smile crossed his features as he peered up into Hannibal's fatherly face. Murdock cleared his throat and winced. "Yeah, if someone would please stop playing that harp music."
"There ain't no harp music, fool, you're hearin' things." The familiar banter eased some of the tension. Murdock grimaced, his expression a taut mask of controlled agony. Face returned to find Hannibal already busy assessing the pilot's injuries. The sight brought a flash of memory from Vietnam-Hannibal risking his life to save his men. No mission was to important or vital to risk the life of any of his men. Every time he lost a man Hannibal seemed to lose a part of himself. When the four of them became the A-Team, Hannibal vowed that none of them would die, if he could help it. He kept his promise, then and now. Murdock loudly sucked in his breath as Hannibal cut away his pant's leg, bringing Face out of his reverie.
"Your leg is broken," Hannibal stated emphatically, staring down at the contorted, bloody leg. Murdock stared wildly up at the cockpit ceiling. BA and Face looked down at a jagged wound slicing Murdock's leg open just above the knee. Comprehending just how badly the crazy pilot was hurt. Face and BA cast worried frowns to each other. "BA, you need to hold him down while I set it," Hannibal said.
BA moved up to Murdock's shoulders and firmly took hold of them. "Easy, man. This is going to hurt."
"Thanks buddy, like I really want to hear that!" Murdock answered rather sharply. He took a deep breath preparing himself for the inevitable pain to come. Hannibal grasped Murdock's ankle giving him a plaintive smile, and then pulled until he felt the bone slip back in place. Murdock screamed in pain, turning a deathly shade of white then mercifully passed out.
Face kneeled down, concern throwing a shadow on his handsome features. "How is he?" he asked, handing Hannibal what medical supplies he could find.
"Not good. His leg is torn up pretty bad." Hannibal looked around, his eyes taking in the sparse interior of the plane. "We need something to use as a splint?" BA turned around and grabbed one of the airplane seats ripping it out of the floor. He handed the metal legs to Hannibal who nodded appreciatively. "Nice, BA." They wrapped Murdock's leg tightly to stop the staunch flow of blood.
BA gazed silently down at his injured companion. His thinning hair matted to his head, which lied cradled in the big man's lap. No matter what BA said about the schizophrenic pilot, he was the best friend he ever had. They made Murdock as comfortable as possible wrapping him in blankets to prevent shock. Hannibal put a hand on Face's shoulder and drew him to one side. BA remained at the pilot's side talking quietly to him, reminding him of what he was going to do to him when he recovered.
"What medical supplies do we have?" Hannibal asked a little hopeful.
"We have plenty of bandages and some aspirin," Face counted off watching the disappointment appear on Hannibal's visage. "You do have a plan, don't you, Colonel?" Face asked.
Hannibal chewed on an unlit cigar. He leaned against a seat crossing his arms in front of him before he replied, "Murdock needs medical attention and soon. I'm worried about infection and blood loss. We don't have any antibiotics." Hannibal stared out one of the broken windows and continued, "I think I spotted a village about two clicks south of here, maybe they have a doctor. We'll leave at first light."
"There's an old army stretcher in the back we can use," Face stated looking back at BA and Murdock, worry lines formed at the corners of his eyes.
"Good. Lets see what else we can find in this old crate that might prove useful."
During the night Murdock awoke feverish and delirious yelling out, "Don't go guys. It's a trap!" The three looked at each other realizing that Murdock was reliving their last mission. He still blamed himself for not stopping them from robbing the bank in Hanoi the mission that would make them wanted men for the next fifteen years.
At dawn they strapped Murdock to the stretcher. The long night had taken its toll on the injured pilot. His face was pale and gaunt making his eyes appear wild. All they had in the way of painkillers was aspirin that had no effect. Face loaded up a backpack with all the supplies he could find. Both he and BA carried their rifles slung over their shoulders. Hannibal carried his favorite service revolver. All useless, since they spent all the ammo on their last mission. BA took the head of the stretcher and Hannibal took the feet both lifting in unison. Face reluctantly took point, the empty rifle making him feel far from confident. There was a strange, yet intimate silence as the three began their trek. No one spoke, yet the three knew what the others were feeling and thinking. Whatever it took they must save the life of their friend and comrade, even at the cost of their own lives. This was the motto that had kept them alive and friends for all these years. The trail of littered plane parts and broken trees made a clear path through the jungle. They stopped several times to re-wrap Murdock's blood soaked bandages and try to give him some water.
The team arrived in the remote village, dust-covered and exhausted from the long hot trek. Small white-board dwellings, scattered on either side of the road, hid neglected fields of coffee and sugar cane. The road widen through the village then ended at two large adobe-style buildings. Two burned out trucks attested to a rather violent end to the population. BA and Hannibal carefully placed the stretcher down. Hannibal examined several blisters on his hands, then kneeled down to check on Murdock. The pilot had been quiet for the past hour, but stirred under Hannibal's distraught gaze. Face scanned the area. "Where is everyone?" His tone subdued, apprehension caused his eyes to dart from side to side. Instinctively he unslung his useless rifle.
Out of the corner of his eye BA spotted a figure run between two huts. BA's concern for his friend caused him to ignore his usual wariness. Before anyone could stop him BA raced to the rear of the hut where the figure disappeared. Hannibal and Face waited anxiously, keeping their weapons ready to bluff. BA soon returned with a small boy under his arm. The wiry boy squirmed and screamed, his face scrunched up in hatred. "LET ME GO, GRINGO!"
"Easy nino, I won't hurt you," BA said as he fought to maintain his hold on the boy. A rifle shot kicked dirt up in front of BA causing Face and Hannibal to bring their weapons around. Hannibal cursed and chided himself for being inattentive and leaving them vulnerable.
"Put the boy down now! Or you're all dog meat!"
Hannibal followed the voice to a hovel across the road, a rifle barrel sticking out the window. "BA, I think you better let the boy go," Hannibal whispered back. BA grudgingly released the boy, who scampered off in the opposite direction, stopping just long enough to sneer in apparent victory. Hannibal placed his empty pistol on the ground and raised his arms. Slowly he walked forward towards the small adobe building. He stopped several feet away. "We need help. Our plane crashed a few miles from here. Our pilot is badly hurt he needs medical attention." Hannibal saw the rifle barrel raise slightly, aiming at his chest.
"Americans?" The voice asked suspiciously. Hannibal peered over his shoulder towards BA and Face before he answered. "Yes, we are." The rifle disappeared from the window, after several moments the wooden door slowly opened. An elderly gentleman squinted as he stepped out in the bright afternoon sun. The man's skin was bronzed from the Costa Rican sun and a shock of wild, white hair stuck out from under a straw hat. His straight, strong physique made it hard to discern his age. His voice was firm, but Hannibal thought he detected a tremulous note as he ordered, "Tell your men to drop their weapons!" Hannibal nodded towards Face and BA who freely dropped the useless rifles. BA's muscles tensed and his eyes locked on the elderly man, waiting for any chance to disarm the situation. The gentleman kept his rifle trained on Hannibal as he stepped past. He motioned for BA and Face to back away from the stretcher. The gentleman cautiously knelt down, keeping one eye on the stranger. He placed his hand upon Murdock's pale forehead. He then placed two fingers on the side of his neck, then lifted open one eye. The older man's face dropped with his shoulders as his examination revealed the truth. He slung his rifle over his shoulder and rose up to meet Hannibal's bright eyes. "I'm a doctor, bring him inside."
The doctor's office was a two-room adobe dwelling, just a little larger than the surrounding hovels. A crude wooden cabinet stood against the far wall with three low-lying cots, one in each corner of the back room. The front room catered to a table and four chairs. A small wood stove adding to the heat of the day sat in one corner. A yellowed medical certificate hung next to several shelves, which were stocked with a myriad of medicines. Hannibal eyed the medicines and wondered where a rural doctor could obtain such valuable drugs. Face and BA placed Murdock gently down on one of the cots. The doctor moved in pushing the two away. He carefully unwrapped Murdock's blood soaked and sweat covered bandages. Murdock moaned slightly, but remained unconscious.
Hannibal, BA and Face stood off to one side grateful for the cooler darkness of the office.
"Hannibal, should we trust him?" Face whispered furtively as he watched the doctor work on their friend.
"Do we have a choice?" Hannibal answered.
The doctor dipped a clean rag into a bowl of water and carefully cleaned and inspected the inflamed wound. The team watched the doctor perform some minor checks. After which, he straightened placing his hand in the center of his back. He turned and stepped up to Hannibal wiping the blood from his hands.
"Your friend is very sick, I'm surprised he made it this far. He's very dehydrated and weak. I have some antibiotics that should help stave off infection. But, he's lost a lot of blood." The doctor stared at the three unique looking individuals. Maybe separately they wouldn't of been worth a second glance, well except for the big black man, but together, they stood out.
"Now, who are you and what are you doing here?" the doctor demanded.
Hannibal pulled out one of his few remaining whole cigars. "We were about to ask you the same question, you're obviously an American. Where are we and where is everybody?"
The doctor went over to one of the shelves and grabbed several cups, then walked over to the stove. He removed an old coffeepot and placed it on the table. "Help yourselves, it's the one thing we have plenty of." The doctor walked around to the other side of the table. "I'm doctor Robert Cranfield and you're about twenty miles east of Alajela." He sat down in one of the chairs and continued, "I retired a couple years ago from the Army Medical Corp." Face and BA straightened and shifted nervously at the mention of the Army. Hannibal's face remained passive giving nothing away. "After my wife past away I got bored, so I offered my services to Third World countries. I arrived here about six months ago from Cambodia." BA stood off to one side, his arms crossed. His eyes locked suspiciously on the doctor. Doctor Cranfield poured himself a cup of coffee, trying to ignore BA's glare.
"Well doctor, this town seems to be lacking in patients," Hannibal voiced, a hint of sarcasm escaping. The doctor looked up at Hannibal.
"This was a peaceful village the people were poor, but happy. They grew their own food and made their own tools and wares. They didn't depend on many outsiders and had very little contact with anyone." The doctor hesitated staring down at his cup the sadness evident in his voice. "That was probably the reason they were so tempting a target." Face sat down opposite the doctor and reached for the pot of coffee as the doctor continued his tale, "Two weeks ago, a man named Rodigo Cavallon, from Mexico, started taking the adults away leaving the children to fend for themselves." BA growled, which startled the doctor. Nothing angered the big man more than children being harmed or victimized.
"Easy, BA." Hannibal placed a restraining hand on the black man's shoulder. "What does this Cavallon want with the adults?" Hannibal asked as he moved around the table to stand next to the doctor continuing to twirl his unlit cigar between his fingers.
"They're put to work in a gold mine a couple miles from here." Anger now filled the doctor's words. "Cavallon is an egotistical tyrant. He prides himself at being a descendent of Juan de Cavallon who led the first successful colonizers into Costa Rica in 1561. He feels everyone owes him something for this. Every three days they come, returning the ones that are exhausted or injured and taking others." The doctor bowed his head. "They threaten the children to keep the parents in line. Me and some of the older children try to care for them as best we can, which is probably why they don't bother with me."
Face ran his hand through his blonde hair, wondering how they always managed to fall into these things. He then asked, "Why don't the villagers just leave?"
"This is there home, where else would they go?"
Face nodded then Hannibal asked, "How many men does this Cavallon have?"
The doctor tuned his attention to Hannibal. "I've seen about ten different men, but I thing there is more. The chief lackey goes by the name of Rafael. He's a real mean one." The doctor stared down into his coffee cup gently swirling the black liquid around.
Murdock moaned from the other room and Hannibal rushed to his side. He kneeled down beside his feverish friend. Murdock reached up, grabbing Hannibal by the shirt. "Colonel, Colonel you need to strap in this bird's goin' down. Tell BA I'll refund his ticket."
Hannibal looked into the raving pilot's glassy eyes as he tried to calm him. "It's okay Captain, you did good." Murdock went into a coughing spasm, which sapped him of any remaining strength. Hannibal eased him back down onto the cot feeling the heat emitting from his feverish body. He stood meeting doctor Cranfield's disconcerted eyes and confused frown.
"Colonel, Captain, who are you guys?" The doctor asked. Hannibal stared back into the doctor's steel gray eyes. He'd always been a good judge of character and hoped he could trust this man.
Hannibal took a deep breath. "I'm Hannibal Smith, your patient is H.M. Murdock. This here is BA and Templeton Peck, aka..."
The doctor cut in, "Faceman, you're the A-Team!"
The awe in his voice caused Hannibal to swell with a certain amount of pride. "You've heard of us?" Hannibal replied with mock modesty. The doctor took a moment to gape then broke into a laugh forcing his hand into Hannibal's and giving him a firm handshake.
"I served in Nam, everyone heard of the A-Team. You guys saved a lot of men. I know, cause I patched up many of the ones you brought out." The smile of astonishment remained on the doctor's face as he shook his head in disbelief. He had heard so many stories about the A-Team, they almost seemed legendary. Now they were standing here in front of him. "What are you guys doing here, aren't you still wanted by the Military?"
Hannibal looked down at Murdock, concern returning to his face. "That's a long story, just suffice to say we were returning from a mission when our plane developed mechanical problems."
The doctor cast a worried glance towards Murdock, who appeared to have quieted. His shirt plastered to his skin by sweat. "He must be one hell of a pilot for you all of to survived a crash landing in the jungle."
"He's the best and you're goin' to save him right!" BA growled at the doctor, probably a little more threatening than he intended. The doctor took a step back from the huge imposing man.
Face intervened. "You have to forgive BA. He's always a little grouchy after a crash."
The doctor forced a smile and looked directly into BA's dark, fearful eyes. "I'll do my best for your friend, but if Cavallon and his men come around you all could be in a lot of trouble."
"You just take care of your patient doctor, we'll take care of Cavallon and company." Hannibal lit the cigar that stuck out of his mischievous grin.
BA shook his head in dismay noticing the all to familiar glint in Hannibal's blue eyes he murmured, "He's on the jazz, man, he's on the jazz."
"Yeah, we're great at exterminating low-life scum," Face expounded taking a swig of coffee. A young girl, probably nomore than five, entered the doctor's office. Without any fear she went up to BA, taking hold of the big man's hand. Her dark eyes looked up into BA's ebony face. In a small voice she spoke to BA who turned to the doctor for a translation.
"She asked if you are going to save her mommy and daddy from the bad men?" BA bent down and lifted the little girl up. "We sure are darlin', that's a promise." The girl seemed to understand and smiled.
Hannibal placed his hands, palms down on the table and leaned forward as he questioned the doctor. "Okay, first are there any adults left?"
"A few, they're afraid to leave, afraid the bandits will take it out on the others. Most hope Cavallon and his men will eventually move on if they cooperate. These are simple, hard-working farmers, they won't risk their families' lives."
Hannibal stroked his chin as he straightened. "We need to make sure the children and adults are in a safe place."
The doctor looked up eager to help. "There's the school house at the end of town, I think they would be safe there."
"Great. Now all we need is ammo," Face added.
The doctor broke into a wide grin as he stopped over to an empty cot. Pushing the cot aside he pried up one of the floor boards and stepped back motioning with his hand. "Some souvenirs from Nam, thought they might come in handy some day." Everyone is silent for a moment as they peered into a hidden cache of grenades and several M16s with ammo. "Never could bring myself to use them. I was only a doctor back in Nam never saw any action, hell, I've never even killed anyone, just witnessed a lot of death."
Hannibal placed a friendly hand on the doctor's shoulder. "There are many ways to be a hero, doc." BA handed the little girl over to Face and reached into the cache pulling out the rifles and ammo. "We'll save the grenades. We don't want to blow up their village," Hannibal remarked.
"Yeah, we're known to do that from time to time," Face remarked with a smile.
The doctor sat down on a nearby cot and looked up at Hannibal. "Cavallon's men are due day after tomorrow." Hannibal nodded in acknowledgment as he checked out an M16 rifle. Satisfied, he slung the weapon onto his shoulder. A sly smile lifted the corners of his mouth slightly as he remarked, "Well, I guess we should prepare for our guests."
Hannibal, Face, BA and the doctor worked all the next day rounding up the children and convincing the adults to hide out in the school house. They stock piled enough food and water for the villagers to survive for several days. As the time neared for Cavallon's men to arrive, BA and Face took up strategic positions within the village. Hannibal waited with the doctor in his office. He watched as the doctor swabbed disinfectant on the inside of Murdock's elbow, then expertly set up an I.V. line to administer antibiotics. The few times Murdock regained consciousness he babbled wildly. "It must be the fever," the doctor remarked to Hannibal.
Faint rays of light illuminated the darkness, seeping into the rustic office through the curtained window. Hannibal smiled, leaning his chair against the wall enjoying his last cigar. "Oh, not all of it. Murdock has a somewhat unique psyche," Hannibal stated his eyes staring straight ahead peering into the past. "Ever since Nam, Murdock sometimes escapes to other places as other people. He saw a lot in Nam, probably to much." Doctor Cranfield nodded his head in understanding as Hannibal took a deep drag on his cigar, the end burning brightly in the dimly lit room. Hannibal looked over to the shelves of medicine and broke the silence. "I was noticing your assortment of medicines, quite a collection for a country doctor."
He turned to look the doctor straight in the eye as he answered, "I still have friends in the medical profession who help me out whenever they can. It would be impossible otherwise to get the necessary medicines and equipment. They send me a little of their excess nothing that anyone would miss."
Hannibal brought his chair down and cocked his head as they both heard the sound of a truck rumbling up the dirt road. The doctor went to the window and peered out as the truck stopped, the motor dying prematurely, several yards away. Three heavily armed men wearing worn army fatigue pants and tee-shirts exited the truck and unslung their rifles. They talked amongst themselves for a few moments. Two of the men looked to be barely out of their teens. They followed the older and larger man wearing a shirt with a rough drawing of porky pig stamped on the front. Unlike his two companions this man appeared well fed. The three started to saunter towards the doctor's office.
The doctor turned to Hannibal who stood against the wall next to the window and said with a strong note of disgust, "The one with the pig shirt is Rafael." Hannibal peered out.
"You stay here doctor, no matter what happens. The children still need you." Hannibal checked his rifle and stepped outside. The three don't notice Hannibal at first, until in a commanding voice he orders, "Okay, scumbags, stop right there!" The three men halt, startled at being confronted. Hannibal dropped his cigar, grinding it under his foot. Rafael stepped forward, a malicious grin pasted on his chubby face. The other two shifted nervously behind him. The large man turned his head saying something in Spanish to his men. He then brought his attention back to Hannibal who waited patiently.
"Ah, senor, you are new here, si. Why don't you mind your own business and be on your way."
Hannibal smiled, his rifle cradled across his arms. His body turned so that the business end was pointed at the crude pig design on Rafael's shirt. "It's not going to work that way compadre. Why don't you save yourselves a lot of trouble and go back under the rock you crawled out of."
Rafael's eyes narrowed as he ran his hand through his dirty, wild hair. He turned to his men and chuckled. The other two nervously returned the laugh. "Well, it seems we have some kind of hero. Have it your way senor." Rafael motioned for his men to move forward. A shot rang out kicking dirt up and causing the three to scatter for cover. Hannibal ran around to the side of the doctor's office. One of the young men took refuge behind a broken down truck. As he peered inside the cab, BA came up from behind, putting a hammer lock on him and neatly grabbing his gun when it dropped from his limp fingers. He let the man crumble to the ground. Face crept up behind the second young man, striking him with the butt of his rifle. He quickly took his weapon and searched for BA who gave him a thumbs up sign. Rafael sneered as he took aim on the back of Face's head. He slowly squeezed the trigger, stopping when he felt the barrel of a pistol in his ear.
"I'd put that down real slow if I were you," Hannibal hissed into the chubby man's ear. A drop of sweat ran down Rafael's scarred cheek as he slowly lowered his rifle.
The doctor's door swung open and Rafael stepped inside, his hands on top of his head and Hannibal's pistol in his back. BA and Face followed casually, until they ran into the back of Hannibal, who had halted just inside the door. They peered over his shoulder to see two burly men, one holding a pistol to the doctor's head. Face's shoulders slumped noticeably as he quietly murmured to BA, "Oh man, who was suppose to watch the rear this time?"
"Sorry Hannibal, they got the jump on me," the doctor confided abashedly.
A tall, dark, muscular man with black hair, cut short and neat, accentuating his fine boned features, stepped forward. Like the rest of his men he was dressed in army fatigue pants and a dark green tee-shirt. His raven eyes exhibited an intelligence that was lacking in the others. "Por favor senor, do come in. We've been waiting for you and your friends." A contemptuous smirk formed on his face.
"You must be Cavallon?" Hannibal inquired, maintaining a stoic composure as Rafael took their weapons, the same contemptuous smirk on his pot-marked face as his leader.
"Si, senor. We have been watching you all since you arrived here. I thought it prudent to enter, ah how you say through the back door, in case we weren't welcome. Now, you know who I am, who are you?" Hannibal remained silent, a hint of a smile on his face. Cavallon glared at the three, not sure what to make of them.
"We're just out here on a nature retreat," Hannibal replied, catching the quick grins on Face and BA's face.
Cavallon was not amused by Hannibal's impertinence. "Okay, I think we all go for a little ride. We could use four more strong backs in the mines." Hannibal glanced towards Murdock, fear rose in him at how pale and haggard he still appeared.
The doctor noticed Hannibal's concern. "He's okay Hannibal, for now."
Hannibal turned to Cavallon. "Listen, our friend there needs the doctor."
"Well, maybe we just put your friend out of his misery." Cavallon cocked his pistol, placing it next to Murdock's temple. BA stepped forward prepared to tear Cavallon in half. Face put out a stopping arm, nodding towards Cavallon's men who had their weapons pointed directly at the large black man. BA growled threateningly, but backed down. The room grew quiet as tension filled the small office. Everyone waited for the first move to be made.
Hannibal looked at Cavallon from beneath lowered lids. "You'll be making a colossal mistake, amigo." Hannibal reached for a cigar from his shirt pocket stopping when he realized he had smoked the last one earlier. "Explain it to him, Face."
Face glared at Hannibal as he stammered, "Ah, right, a big mistake, very bad business if you ask me." He hesitated as Cavallon stared at him perplexed, but interested. Face knew he had to convince Cavallon it would be in his best interest to leave the doctor here. His mind worked almost as deviously as Hannibal's, he quickly came up with a plan. "If you let the doctor stay and tend to our friend we'll cooperate and won't cause you an trouble." Hannibal raised his eyebrows, his blue eyes bright in amusement. Face slapped his hand on BA's massive shoulders, describing him to Cavallon like a prize bull. "Look at these muscles, he's as strong as three men." BA growled menacingly under his breath, but his eyes told Face he knew what he was trying to do.
Cavallon seemed to consider this when Murdock stirred. The doctor quickly interjected, "Their friend is too sick to cause you any trouble. He'll probably die, and the children here still need me." The doctor pleaded with Cavallon, giving him his most desperate look. He would kiss Cavallon's feet if he thought it would help him stay with the children and he hoped Cavallon believed this.
Rafael stepped up alongside Cavallon and murmured into his ear, "Boss, we could use some strong men. The farmers are dropping like flies. We're falling behind schedule." Cavallon scratched his head with his pistol as he weighed all his options. These men disturbed him, not that he'd reveal this to his men. He felt the three had to much confidence and could be dangerous, but Rafael was right. The frail farmers were unable to put out an adequate load. He'd get what use he could from these men then dispose of them personally.
An evil smile appeared on Cavallon's face as he came to a decision. "Well, I don't want it said that Cavallon is a murderer of children. The doctor can stay and we'll let your friend live as long as you keep your promise and don't cause any trouble."
Face smiled as he stated, "My word is as good as yours."
Cavallon's smile fell slightly as he considered this last statement. Glaring at Faceman he barked an order to his men, "Get them in the truck, vamos!"
Hannibal, Face and BA were forced into the bed of the old rusty truck. "You'd think with a gold mine they could afford better transportation." One of the bandit's shoved Hannibal as he climbed into the truck, not amused by his glib remark. The two men Face and BA overpowered joined them, rubbing their heads. Both remained silently submissive under Cavallon's displeased gaze. Cavallon jumped into the passenger side of the truck. The doctor turned from the window, as the truck roared away. He looked over to the cot surprised to see Murdock sitting up, pulling the I.V. out of his arm. Murdock tried to stand, but immediately sat back down as a sharp pain lanced up his leg. The doctor raced to his side.
"What do you think you're doing? You're in no condition..."
Murdock grabbed the doc's arm. "Sorry doc, but my compadres need me." Murdock gazed up at the doctor with feverish and pleading eyes. "But, I think I'm going to need you help." Robert Cranfield was torn between helping Hannibal and the others and protecting his patient. Murdock winced and said, "You need to keep me on my feet, doc. I also need to know if these people have any type of aircraft?" The doctor hesitated a moment, seeing the determination on the young pilot's face he realized Murdock would help his friends with or without his help.
"Yes, a small two man helicopter, I've seen it fly overhead a couple times, but I don't know where they keep it." Murdock rubbed at his leg trying to massage the pain into submission.
"We need to find it!"
A young boy, the same one BA grabbed earlier, appeared at the window. "I know where they keep it, senor." The boy gave the men an innocent, but devilish smile.
"Tomas, you should be at the school house with the others," the doctor scolded.
"Wait a minute doc, we need to know where that helicopter is."
Doctor Cranfield paused a moment, looked at the young boy who seemed to have aged well past his seven years during the past month. "Okay Tomas, tell us where it is?"
"No, I take you there, I want to help." Murdock had to smile at Tomas' boldness. He motioned for the boy to come inside. Tomas came straight up to Murdock, who remained sitting on the cot. Murdock placed his hands on the boy's thin shoulders and looked him straight in the eye.
"Okay, but you have to do exactly as I say."
Holding back his enthusiasm Tomas replied, "Si senor Murdock, I will, I promise."
BA, Face and Hannibal sat quietly in the bed of the truck feeling every bump on the dirt-packed road. They finally came to a halt within a small encampment. The three jumped down off the truck and were quickly surrounded by four armed men. Hannibal scanned his surroundings. A small clearing with four tin-roofed buildings, the light of lanterns trying to pierce the darkness of the encroaching jungle. He could just barely make out the dark entrance to the mine in the side of the mountain. One of Cavallon's men, another young boy, reluctantly came forward and proceeded to leg shackle the three together. BA growled down at the boy who scurried away, his eyes wide. Cavallon approached feeling safer with the three men shackled. "This is the only mine for miles, as soon as we tap it out we'll move on. So the quicker you work the faster we leave."
"Yeah, then you go and take advantage of another poor village, using the people for slave labor and keeping the profits for..." Face's rebuke is cut short by the butt of a rifle into his side. BA managed to grab his friend before he fell to the ground. Face remained bent over gasping for breath in BA's arms.
Cavallon sneered, "I hope you'll enjoy your accommodations?"
Hannibal sensed the man's apprehension and smirked, "Oh, we've had worse."
Cavallon stepped to within inches of Hannibal's face. His eye twitched as he ominously said, "You promised me no trouble, I intend to hold to hold you to that. Any funny business and I'll send my men back to town and bring your friend's head back on a platter." Hannibal is sure Cavallon would do what he says, and with great pleasure, but he always had a hard time taking scum like him serious and he refused to be intimidated.
In a very sedate undertone Hannibal replied, "Just remember Cavallon, what goes around comes around."
With a curt wave of his hand Cavallon motioned for his guards to take the three away. He grunted with approval as Rafael shoved Hannibal forward.
The three were led to a bunker next to the mine entrance they stumbled and clang as they were shoved in. "You better get some sleep you're going to have a busy day tomorrow." The guard sneered as he closed the heavy steel door. The bunker was nothing more than a cinder block building with a dirt floor and no windows. A small vent six feet above the floor allowed some fresh air to enter. Hannibal noticed the other captives crowded against the back wall staring warily at the new arrivals.
"Face, can you do anything about these shackles?" Hannibal shook the leg with the annoying restraint.
"Hannibal, I'm insulted. When the time comes I'll have these off in no time." Face turned to the other captives and turned on his most sincere smile. "Hola, hablo English?"
There was some murmuring and the crowd parted as a small middle aged man with brown hair stepped out. "Si, my name is Juan. Who are you?"
Hannibal stepped forward, a charming grin on his face as he exclaimed, "We're here to rescue you."
At dawn the captives were ushered out of the bunker, given some stale bread and a small drink of water then marched into the mine by three armed men. Actually, one man and two boys, both probably no more than eighteen. Hannibal noticed the hastily placed beams bracing the walls and ceiling. It wouldn't take much to bring the whole mine down on top of them which is probably what Cavallon has in mind for the farmers after he's finished with the mine. After several hundred feet of shuffling down the dank, lantern lit mine shaft, they came to a dead end of dirt and rock. "Okay everyone, get to work!" The oldest of the guards ordered in Spanish and broken English. The farmers mechanically picked up a tool from the side wall. "What are you three waiting for?" The guard asked the three newcomers, who appeared to be waiting for something.
Hannibal folded his arms and broke into a gregarious smile and answered, "You didn't say please." The guard glared at Hannibal and pointed his rifle at one of the farmers who stopped and stared in fear. The smile dropped from Hannibal's face and he moved to pick up one of the mining implements. He knew how far to push someone and liked to test the boundaries. This gave him an idea of the kind of person he was dealing with. This guard was dangerous. The younger two appeared nervous, only doing what they were told and nothing more. Juan quietly approached Hannibal, looking over his shoulder at the other farmers who urged him on, he swallowed nervously. "Ah, senor, you must not do anything to provoke these men. They'll hurt our children."
Hannibal saw the grim expression on many of the farmers; forced to work fourteen hour days with very little food or water, many have given up. Hannibal knew men like Cavallon fed off good people like these for there own end. The only way to stop people like Cavallon was to squash them like the slugs they were. "Don't worry," Hannibal said as he clapped Juan's shoulder. "We'll hurt them first." Unable to reply to this, Juan gave Hannibal a faint smile and goes back to his work, shrugging his shoulders at his fellow captives.
"So what's the plan, Hannibal?" BA whispered as he drove the pick into the rock wall.
"We prepare for our opportunity," Hannibal stated matter-of-factly as BA and Face looked at each other bewildered.
"And what opportunity might that be?" Face questioned, disgusted by the dirty manual labor he was being force to endure.
"We'll know when it presents itself," Hannibal replied assuredly as he shoveled dirt into a nearby mine car. "By the way, have you noticed that most of Cavallon's men are nothing more than boys."
"Yeah, I've noticed Hannibal, what do you make of it?" BA asked.
"I think, that Cavallon probably paid the families of these boys to use them. So there's probably not a whole lot of loyalty, which could work in our favor." BA smiled knowingly at Hannibal's observation and continued working.
Tomas led the donkey and cart down an over-grown cattle trail. The doctor followed behind keeping his head down submissively as they neared the small helipad in the middle of the pasture. The pilot stopped his pre-flight checks when he noticed Tomas. "Hey, what are you doing here?"
"Pardon senor, my papa and I wish to speak to Senor Cavallon. We have good information about the three men he captured."
The pilot looked suspiciously down at Tomas who held his sombrero against his chest and kept his eyes down. The pilot then turned his attention to the hay filled cart and smiled slyly.
Tomas stepped in front of the pilot. "Senor, those men are wanted and worth a lot of money."
The pilot ignored Tomas and walked around to the back of the cart unslinging his rifle. He started to probe the hay with his free hand, keeping his eye on Tomas and the doctor and astutely remarked, "You must thing me a fool, what do you have in here, weapons?" A hand suddenly shot out grabbing the pilot by the collar. Another hand came out shoving a 9mm pistol into his astonished face.
"Drop the rifle, amigo," Murdock sneered, slowly rising out of the hay. The pilot quickly complied, not getting paid enough to risk his life. Murdock gave the pilot a cocky grin. "Bueno, we're going to borrow you little flying machine comprendo!"
"You'll be making a big mistake hombre!" The pilot snarled, angered at being taken.
"To err is human and anyway I'm always making mistakes, but I always correct them." Murdock gave the bewildered pilot an exaggerated wink just as the doctor struck him from behind knocking him to the ground.
"We did it, didn't we senor Murdock?" Tomas yelled triumphantly. The doctor had to smile in spite of himself.
"We sure did, Tomas," Murdock answered giving the eager lad a proud smile as he swung his injured leg over the back of the cart. "Okay doc, lets get that whirly-bird in the air."
The doctor helped Murdock out of the cart, as they made their way to the helicopter the doctor asked, "Ah, Murdock, before we go up just one question, are you really crazy?" Murdock gave the doc a smile that didn't ease his fears.
"Now doc, that would spoil all the fun if I told you." The doctor hesitated a moment, shrugged and helped Murdock into the pilot's seat. He then returned to the cart to retrieve the crate of grenades and three M16s, which he stored behind the passenger seat. Tomas looked pleadingly up at the doctor as Murdock did a quick check of the instruments.
The doctor kneeled down meeting Tomas' large dark eyes. "Tomas, you need to go back to the village and protect the children. I'm depending on you. If anything should happen to me..." He left the words unsaid, both understanding the danger.
"You can count on me." Tomas seemed to stand a little taller with the pride of responsibility. He saluted as the helicopter rose off the ground. The doctor returned the salute, then turned his attention to Murdock, noticing the sweat glistening on his pale face.
He placed his hand on Murdock's arm to get his attention. "Murdock, are you all right?" He yelled over the roar of the helicopter's engines. Murdock gave him a thumbs up sign and a pain-ridden smile. He had give the pilot a mild pain killer, anything stronger would have incapacitated him, but he knew Murdock was very weak from blood loss. He only hoped the pilot would last long enough to rescue his friends.
BA stealthily took a pick jamming it between two rocks. Hannibal casually stepped in front, blocking the guard's view as BA snapped the handle off. He furtively handed it to one of the farmers who slid it down his pants. A slight smile, one of renewed hope brightens the farmer's face. Face leaned on his pick as he tried to shake the dirt out of his hair. He griped to Hannibal, "I hope that opportunity arises soon, Hannibal. This is destroying my image not to mentioned my fifty dollar manicure."
"Shut up over there," the older guard yelled cocking his rifle for emphasis. Hannibal caught one of the younger guards' attention noticing the faded line of a scar running down his cheek. The guard stared at Hannibal with regret filled eyes then abruptly turned away.
The helicopter followed the contour of the land, skimming trees and barely clearing hill tops. Doctor Cranfield began to doubt they would even survive long enough to save Hannibal. As they crested the western ridge, Cavallon's camp came into view. Murdock turned and yelled to the doctor. "Okay doc, when we spot Hannibal we'll drop down long enough to hand them the rifles. So lets let them know we're here. Bombs Away!" The doctor grinned as he pulled the pin on the grenade and dropped it.
At the sound of the first explosion Hannibal straightened and smiled. "Hear that, I think opportunity is knocking."
Face shook his head. "Never underestimate Murdock." The tunnel shook with the vibrations of the explosions, everyone looked up fearfully at the tons of dirt and rock overhead.
The guards turned their weapons on the farmers. The older one yelled, "Okay, everyone just stay where you are." The young guard with the scar fearfully asked, "Que acer agora?" The older guard noticed the smug smiles on the three Americans and sudden dread gripped him. He turned to the young man and replied, "Boy a saliar un momento, de acuerdo." The young man seemed unsure about this, but before he can voice an opinion the older guard turned and raced down the tunnel.
Hannibal stared at the young, lanky boys who seemed lost without supervision. "Listen boys, that guard has the right idea this whole tunnel could collapse. We need to get out of here."
"Silencio!" The other boy shouted, not understanding English he pointed his rifle at Hannibal. The boy with the scar spoke to him, Hannibal didn't understand what was being said, but it apparently had no effect. The two turned and stared down the tunnel wishing for the return of their supervisor.
BA broke two more picks handing them to the farmers, who quickly concealed them. Face quickly unlocked the shackles as the guards' backs were turned. Dirt sifted down as another explosion rocked the mine, making everyone extremely nervous. When Face released BA the big man quietly approached one of the guards from behind, tapping him on the shoulder. The boy's eyes went wide and he tried to bring his rifle around. BA grabbed the rifle wrenching it out of the young man's hands. He shoved the boy against the wall hard enough to knock some of the wind out of him. BA turned his attention to the other guard, the one with the scar, but the boy just handed his rifle over with open relief.
Murdock dipped and dodged the barrage of bullets as the doctor continued to toss grenades, scattering the men on the ground. Cavallon rushed out of one of the buildings and shouted, "What's going on?" He looked up at the attacking helicopter. "Shoot them down!" A sudden explosion caused Cavallon to hit the ground as dirt rained down on him. He lifted his face the dirt not hiding the rage burning from his eyes.
Face grabbed the keys off the now compliant guard and tossed them to Juan who began to unshackle the rest of the villagers. "C'mon, Murdock's going to need help," BA yelled as he led the way out of the mine shaft. Murdock brought the helicopter around for another pass and the doctor spotted Hannibal exit the mine. He motioned to Murdock who nodded in acknowledgment. "HANG ON!" He yelled as the helicopter suddenly dropped. Doctor Cranfield, impressed with Murdock's skill as a pilot still believed he was going to die any moment. He continued to lob grenades keeping Cavallon's men off-balance. Murdock lowered the copter and the doctor quickly tossed the rifles out, Hannibal gave him the thumbs up sign. Bullets started to fly and Murdock pulled the copter straight up, causing the doctor to grab his seat and hoping the contents of his stomach stayed there.
Juan came up alongside Hannibal, who was crouched behind some metal drums just outside the mine entrance. "We want to help, senor Smith" Hannibal looked back to see several eager men just inside the mine, displaying their pick handles and ready to fight. "Okay, but wait until we have the situation a little more under control, amigo," he replied.
Murdock clenched his teeth, the pain in his leg causing his vision to blur. The pain killer had worn off some time ago and it had taken everything the pilot had to stay conscious. He continued to dodge the barrage of bullets, one barely missing the doctor's head. One bullet struck the rotor and the copter starting spinning out of control.
"Hannibal!" Face yelled pointing to the sky and the spinning helicopter.
Murdock fought with the controls. "I can't believe I'm going to crash twice in one week," he complained. The doctor grabbed onto his seat, closing his eyes to shut out the spinning landscape. "Hang on Doc, I think I can land this thing, but it won't be pretty." Murdock managed to set the helicopter down in the compound, but the strain was to much for the weakened pilot and he passed out. The doctor ignored the gunfire surrounding them. His only concern was for the injured man who just performed a miraculous landing and probably saved both their lives. He slipped out of the passenger side shielding his eyes as dust and debris was kicked up with the wind from the blades. He made his way around to the other side of the helicopter.
The doctor tried to revive the unconscious pilot when BA shoved him aside, handing him his rifle. "You'll have to cover us, doc!" BA grabbed Murdock's arm and pulled him over his shoulder. The doc followed behind BA as they raced for the cover of several crates lining the outskirts of the compound. He turned sideways firing at the charging men, hoping to keep them distracted long enough to get to safety. BA placed Murdock down and retrieved his rifle from the doc, who knelt down next to him. BA aimed over the crates setting down a line of fire, forcing the attacking men to take cover. He turned just long enough to ask, "How is he?"
"I'm sure he's been better. We have to get him out of here." The doctor stood reaching into his shirt. "Here, maybe you can use these." The doctor pulled out several grenades he had stuffed in his shirt. BA smiled a smile that revealed he was having a hell of a good time and it just got better. Doctor Cranfield also had to grin as he thought he hadn't had this much excitement since Vietnam. He only hoped he lived long enough to tell about it. BA threw the grenades scattering Cavallon's men and keeping them in total chaos.
Hannibal and Faceman easily took out many of the inexperienced boys that Cavallon had hired. The farmers managed to ambush and drag some of the men inside the mine where they were shackled. Many of Cavallon's men, realizing the battle was lost took off into the jungle. The rest soon threw up their hands and surrendered. BA moved out from the crates to assist Face and the farmers in rounding up the defeated men.
Cavallon moved stealthily behind one of the buildings. He reached the far corner and peered around only to be met by the butt of Hannibal's rifle, straight into his stomach. The force was enough to bring him to his knees. He sputtered and choked as Hannibal picked up his rifle. Looking up at Hannibal he gasped, "Who are you guys?"
"Just concerned citizens of the world, who love it when a plan comes together." Hannibal smiled as he removed a cigar from Cavallon's shirt pocket, placing it between his teeth.
The village people were overjoyed at being reunited with their families and showed the A-Team their appreciation with a sizable feast. Trestle tables had been set up outside and laden to overflowing with meats, cakes and fruit for the four heroes.
"Well doc, now that Cavallon and his cohorts are in prison they'll be a lot less excitement. What do you plan on doing?" Hannibal asked as he bit into a delicious piece of fruit.
"I have to admit I was starting to enjoy myself, but I think I'm more the quiet down-home type. The farmers are claiming the mine, the gold will help the village. I'm even getting a real clinic. And in appreciation, the town elders voted to give you all two percent of the annual yield for the next three years."
Face brightened at the sound of income. "Well, that makes it all worth it, of course, saving the villagers was a good thing too." Face reddened slightly in embarrassment until the doctor broke into a grin. The three are interrupted by the sudden tirades of Murdock and BA.
"I warned you sucker about crashing that plane. I told you what I was going to do to you when you recovered." Murdock stood up placing his hand on the side of the building to steady himself. His leg now in a cast signed and decorated by half the village.
"Yeah, but BA I was unconscious when you told me, now is that fair?" Murdock pleaded his case.
"I don't care, you crashed!" BA jabbed his finger into Murdock's chest accentuating each word.
"Believe me, it wasn't my idea, big guy." Murdock held up his hand in a boy scout salute. "I promise, I'll never crash again."
"You were never a boy scout. I'm heading for the coast and getting on the first ship to the states." Face moved up alongside Hannibal and said, "You know Hannibal, a boat doesn't sound to bad after everything that's happened."
Murdock turned abruptly overhearing Face's remark. "Oh come on guys, give me another chance, what are the odds of crashing a third time, uh?"
"With you? Pretty good," BA snarled.
Hannibal removed his cigar from his mouth, giving Murdock a regretful gaze. "Sorry Murdock, I'm with Face and BA this time. A leisurely boat ride sounds relaxing and you could use the rest." BA chuckled under his breath.
Murdock blustered as he turned and limped away, "I hope it sinks!"