FOR ORPHANS' SAKE By Kelly Adams COPYRIGHT NOV 1997 [Adamskm ] Marcus Jacoby stood under the dim caged light attached to the corner of an abandon warehouse. The dirty, yellow glow barely illuminated a faded sign whic hung over the door, designating the previous owner and occupation as "Joe's Garage." The sun had set an hour ago, bringing a menacing atmosphere to the deserted warehouse district. He could barely hear the distant traffic some three blocks up as the wind whistled down the alley way. He pulled his coat tighter against the chill and checked his Rolex for the hundredth time, growing more irritated with each passing minute. He was a tall man with broad shoulders, standing over six foot with black hair, graying slightly at the temples. He was probably one of those people who was a star quarterback and dated the lead cheerleader back in High School. He usually held himself with a confidence that came with self-assurance and a belief that he could solve any problem. Things were different now; for the first time he was admitting he could not handle a situation and needed help. The sound of measured footsteps sent a chill of apprehension, causing a shiver to course up his spine. He breathed a sigh of relief as a cop stepped within the circle of light, prominently slapping his flashlight into his open palm. His cap was pulled low, the shadow obscuring his face. Marcus was barely able to see the officer's lips move as an intimidating voice inquired, "What 'cha doin' hangin' around here, bub?" Marcus responded, a note of relief in his voice, "Ahm, I'm waiting for someone, officer." It seemed the silence went on forever until the officer finally said in the same flat, yet intimidating voice, "I see. It wouldn't be drugs now?" Marcus is taken aback by this accusation until he realizes standing here alone in the middle of the night does look a little suspicious. "I don't do drugs. I told you I'm just waiting for someone." The officer does not seem perturbed by Marcus' mild outrage. "Let me see some ID, fella." The officer moved closer as Marcus fumbled to remove his wallet from his back pocket. He hands his driver's license to the officer, who shines his flashlight on it taking a good look at the picture. "Mr. Marcus Jacoby, 63 W. Saints Ave., Los Angeles, California." The officer shined his flashlight into Marcus' clean shaven face, causing him to bring up his hand, again taking a long hard look. Marcus unintentionally dropped his eyes. He couldn't see the officer's gaze, but he could feel his eyes glaring hard at him. He became very humble as he declared, "Look Officer, I was suppose to meet someone, but I think all I got was the run-around. I don't think he's going to show so I'll be leaving now." The officer returned his license and Marcus turned and began to walk away. "Wait! Just a minute, fella. Up against the wall." The intimidating voice is replaced by a commanding tone. "What? Are you insane? You have no right. I've done nothing wrong," Marcus protested as the officer threw him against the wall with surprising speed and strength. The officer quickly frisked him. Sudden bravado flowed through Marcus, coming from the knowledge that an injustice was being committed. He turned his head to the side, his cheek resting on the cool metal of the building. "Listen, I'm a respected lawyer. I want your badge number and name. I'll have you walking a beat at the city dump for the rest of your career." The officer, unfazed by Marcus' threat, stepped back. "Okay Mr. Jacoby, you can turn around now." Marcus slowly turned around, pulling down his sleeves, he feigned indignation as he tried to hide his growing apprehension. His eyes go wide and his jaw dropped as the cop removed his cap and dark wig revealing a white hair gentleman with a gregarious smile. "My name is Hannibal Smith. I don't have a badge number-will my service number do?" Hannibal peeled off the fake mustache and removed a cigar from his breast pocket, the smile never leaving his face. "Please come with me, Mr. Jacoby." Hannibal approached the warehouse door. Pulled out a key and unlocked it. He motioned Marcus inside. Marcus stepped tentatively into the dark, dusty building. He hears the door close behind him and bright lights momentarily blind him. As his eyes adjust to the sudden brightness he makes out a large room, empty except for three stacks of crates piled five high. Three men stepped out from behind the crates. Marcus noticed right away that these were very extraordinary individuals. "Sorry for the charade Mr. Jacoby, but we had to check you out." Hannibal leaned against a crate and gestured to each of his team mates as he introduced them. "This is our Logistics Specialist and con-man, Lieutenant Templeton Peck, better known as Faceman." Face gave Marcus one of his dazzling smiles. "Captain H.M. Murdock here, is our resident psychopath and pilot, which makes for an interesting combination."

Murdock bashfully interrupted, "Ah Colonel, we prefer mentally challenged." Hannibal smiled and continued, gesturing towards a large, muscular black man with a Mandika hair cut and about ten pounds of gold around his neck. "This distinguished gentleman is Sergeant BA Baracus, our mechanic and attitude adjuster." BA snarled at Marcus, who returned a nervous smile. Hannibal paused a moment until a petite, young brunette woman appeared from behind a stack of crates. "And this lovely lady is Amy, our Public Relations Representative." Marcus nervously nodded in acknowledgment and stuttered, "You have an unusual variety of people, Mr. Smith." "You know what they say, variety is the spice of life,? Hannibal stated rather proudly. "Well, like I told Mr. Lee I need your help," Marcus continued. Amy stepped forward, pulling a sheet of paper from her briefcase she interposed, "Yes Mr. Jacoby, you say you and your wife adopted a Cambodian child. When you went to get her you were told the adoption was invalid and that the orphanage was closed." Anguish gave Marcus the courage to expound, "It took us two years of government red tape from ours and theirs. Finally we were given the okay. We went to the orphanage outside of Batdambang to get her, but when we arrived we weren't even allowed in. We were told to leave at gun point. We only have one picture which was sent to us six months ago." Mr. Jacoby produced a photograph and handed it to Hannibal. Hannibal looked upon a sweet, dark-haired girl with a soft, round face and large watery eyes. Mr. Jacoby started to choke up as he continued, "She's five in that picture. Her name is Dawn Kim Yan. She was abandoned at six months of age. We found out about her through a friend of ours in D.C., a Mr. Hun Sen, he's kind of an unofficial ambassador. He tries to find American families for orphaned Asian children." Mr. Jacoby took a deep breath, trying to control the emotions which threaten to overwhelm him. The team gave him time to compose himself as they patiently waited for him to continue. "Something was definitely wrong there, at the orphanage, I could feel it. Please can you help us? I've got the money you requested." Jacoby handed Hannibal a thick envelop which he tossed to Face, who peeked at the denominations. He seemed to weigh it by hand then gave Hannibal a dubious look. "Ah, he's $5000 short," Face declared. "I know, I'm sorry that's all I could scrape up right now. I promise to get you the rest. I have a very successful law practice, but all the fees we had to pay up front and the flight over there has left us a bit short right now," Marcus replied. As BA looked down at the picture of the little girl his heart melted; children were his one big weakness. He abruptly interrupted, "Hannibal, we're taking the job." Hannibal smiled as he lit the cigar he held in his mouth. "Well Mr. Jacoby, I guess you just hired the A-Team." ***** BA drove the van down the Pacific Coast Highway with Hannibal riding shotgun. Murdock, Face and Amy took up the back seats. Face turned to an abnormally quiet Murdock and asked, "Murdock, how did you get out of the VA?"

"I didn't," Murdock stated, a confused expression flashed onto Face's visage. "Well, at least not all of me. You see I left my twin in my place." Murdock ended the conversation as if this explained it all. Face pondered whether to continue this strange discussion when his attention was diverted by BA and Hannibal up front. "I told you I'm not flying and that's that." BA swerved in and out of traffic as he vehemently stated, once again, his aversion to flying. "Of course, BA," Hannibal replied with practiced sincerity. He removed a cigar from his coat pocket, biting off the tip. He then gestured to an upcoming ramp which veered off towards the ocean. "Turn here, BA." A Marina came quickly into view. BA looked ahead in astonishment and slight disbelief, as Hannibal sat back and smiled, drawing deeply on his cigar. "See BA, I told you we wouldn't fly. That is our ship right over there ready to sail." Hannibal pointed at a large Luxury Liner moored at the far end of the dock. BA smiled in relief. "Wow guys thanks, this time you're actually goin' to do it." BA pulled the van into a designated parking spot just off the docks. Hannibal furtively glanced back at Face, who rummaged in the back and pulled out several sandwiches. "Here guys, we better eat these up. No sense in letting them sit in the van and go to waste. You like ham and cheese don't you, BA?" BA eyed Face suspiciously as he's handed him the sandwich. Before BA bit into it he swapped with Face. "Just in case," he sneered. Face gave BA his most sincere wounded look. "BA, I'm hurt. Look, we even got the tickets." Face waved five boat passes under BA's nose. A very contrite BA handed the sandwich back to Face. "I'm sorry, Faceman." Face returned the sandwich to BA who hungrily bit into it and a few seconds later passed out, striking his head on the horn. "Great job Face, where did you get those fake passes?" Inquired Hannibal. "Oh, a very lonely, but lovely travel agent was very obliging, and for a night of dinner and dancing I even got our plane tickets." Face and Murdock struggled to move the unconscious BA to the back of the van as Hannibal took the wheel. He turned the van around and headed towards LAX. The team boarded a 747. As Hannibal took his seat he peered out the window and observed the baggage handlers loading a large black coffin. He turned to Face who sat down next to him. "You did put air holes in that thing, Face?"

"Hannibal, would I forget a thing like that? I just hope BA doesn't come to before we land." ***** The plane touched down in Bangkok, Thailand after a long and uneventful flight. The team quickly rented a nondescript van for the drive south to Batdambang, Cambodia. Using his innate gift for influencing people, especially people of a disreputable nature. Face easily acquired the weapons they needed. By noon the team had been on what passed for a road for five hours. BA awoke to find himself laid out in the back of the strange van. Murdock and Amy blocked his advance to the front as he yelled up to Hannibal, "Hannibal! I'm goin' to get you for this. One of these times you're goin' to go too far," BA grumbled as he sat down, resigning himself to the fact that he had been tricked again. "That goes for you too, Face, I know you were in on this too," he added. Face squirmed a little under the threat, then leaned over and whispered to Hannibal, "You know, Hannibal, he's serious." Hannibal smiled as he puffed on his cigar, watching the road ahead and trying to avoid the innumerable ruts. "I know. Doesn't it add a dash of excitement and danger to it all?" Face shook his head in resignation. Like we need more danger in our lives, he thinks to himself. He envies Hannibal's ability to never take anything too seriously, even bodily injury or threat of death. A couple miles outside of Batdambang the team pulled over to the side of the road. Dense forests of kapok, banana and palm trees seem to go on forever. Hannibal stepped out of the car, unfolding a map to study as the rest of the team stretched their legs. Murdock tentatively approached BA. His hands stuffed into his leather jacket. "You know, big guy, I think I made a mistake,? he plaintively said. "What 'cha talkin' about, fool?" BA stretched, trying to alleviate some of the kinks in his body from the long ride. "I think I left my crazy self back at the VA and my sane self is here." Overhearing this remark, Amy stepped up and added, "That's good isn't it, Murdock?" "Don't be encouraging his delusions. He's still crazy." BA scowled at his demented friend. Unfazed, Murdock continued, "No I'm not, at least I don't feel crazy." BA grabbed Murdock by his jacket, pulling his face to within inches of his. "You don't have a twin sucka, and you're still crazy..." Hannibal interrupted BA and Murdock's daily tirade. "Listen up, the orphanage is just south of here about two clicks. We'll walk in and scout the area." Murdock went to the back of the van and began passing out supplies and weapons amongst the team. "You have a plan, don't you, Hannibal?" Amy inquired as she checked to make sure her rifle was loaded. Hannibal smiled and removed the cigar from his mouth, using it for emphasis. "Not yet, but I'm working on it. Face, you take point. BA, watch our rear." The team proceeded into the dense forest, the sounds of exotic birds filled the humid air. The jungle atmosphere brought back vivid memories of Nam, making for a somber trek. The team finally comes upon a clearing of sharp grass at the bottom of a grassy knoll. Hannibal, Face and BA make there way up the hill as Murdock maintains rear guard. The three lay flat against the top of the hill. Hannibal pulled out a pair of binoculars and peered down upon a small compound encircled by a five-foot log fence. Four small, wooden-plank, thatched-roofed buildings surround a large tin-roof building. Hannibal scanned the area and stopped on a cinder-block bunker in the far north-west corner. A hurriedly constructed guard tower stood in the opposite corner, manned by one sentry. The main entrance was guarded by another armed sentry carrying an M16. Hannibal rolled over onto his back. "That is the most security conscious orphanage I've ever seen." Face took the binoculars and peered down observing several Asian and Caucasian men all heavily armed. A couple children, probably no more than seven years of age, exited one of the small outer buildings. They walked meekly across the compound and entered the large building which also retained an armed guard. Two men exited the large building, apparently from the rear, and stopped in the middle of the compound. They appeared to be having a rather intense discussion. Face zoomed in on the men. An Asian gentleman of small stature, wearing some type of military uniform, maintained a stoic posture, as the second gentleman gestured wildly. The second gentleman, a tall, dark-hair Caucasian wearing military pants and black tee-shirt, continued to rant, gesturing towards the large building. Face took a closer look, his eyes narrowed, and he slowly lowered the binoculars, his face a mask of tormented emotion. Something about the Caucasian, a past memory shrouded within the dense jungles of Vietnam emerged. Hannibal noticed the distraught expression on his friend's face. "What is it Lieutenant, what did you see?" Face returnd the binoculars without saying a word and moved back down the hill. As they all came together at the bottom of the hill Murdock eagerly asked, "So guys, how's it look?" Face appeared distant so Hannibal began to describe the situation. "Well, it's not goin' to be a picnic. There are plenty of armed men." Abruptly Face interrupted, in a voice barely above a whisper. "Do you guys remember 'Charlie Company', their last mission?" The statement disturbed the three other A-team members. Their faces confirmed the fact that they did remember. An invisible shudder went through the team, like someone opening a casket that had been buried for years. "I think I just saw a ghost-Lieutenant Dan McCroskey." The name caused Murdock to audibly exhale and BA to growl under his breath. "Are you sure, Face?" Hannibal asked, concerned by this added revelation. Amy sensed the teams' unease at the mention of this person. "Who is McCroskey?" Face started to relate the story, pulling the words painfully out of some deep recess. "Towards the end of the war, Charlie company was on their way back from their latest mission when they were ambushed. McCroskey was in charge because their captain had been injured earlier and flown out. They were caught in a cross-fire and overwhelmed. Only two escaped and they later died of their injuries. Several of the bodies were never recovered and Dan McCroskey was one of them. Everyone thought the Vietcong took the bodies to use as some sort of demoralizing tactic. But everyone believed that all of Charlie company was killed that day. The captain was so distraught that he wasn't with them that he took his own life." "Face, did you ever meet McCroskey?" Hannibal inquired as he weighed this new information and what possible consequences it could have on their mission. "I was never formally introduced. I remember seeing him in the officer's club once or twice. He was a real smart-aleck, I think he hid his fear and incompetence by acting like a big shot." "I flew him and a couple of his guys' butts out of a tight spot once," Murdock added. "I didn't even get a 'thank you very much'." "Hannibal, we were well known by then. He probably knew all of us," BA stated. "Well, that's a chance we'll have to take, Sergeant," Hannibal announced. "Rumor had it that the ambush was a set up, that someone was a traitor. Maybe it was McCroskey." Everyone was silent for a moment, after BA's accusation, lost in thought remembering old friends and acquaintances lost during a war that changed everyone's lives. The team tried to relax and enjoy what rations they had as they worked out their next move. Amy casually sat down next to Murdock, who was busily and professionally cleaning his weapon. "So Murdock, how does it feel to be sane?" Murdock paused a moment in contemplation. "Well Amy, it's like when the town bully moves on to another target. You know he's still around, but you don't know when he'll pop up and start in on you again." Amy hears a touch of sadness from Murdock as if he just lost a good friend. She placed her hand on his shoulder. The sound of a truck gets everyone's attention and they race up the hill to take a look. A medium size truck with no markings enters the compound and backs up to the rear of the large building. Hannibal pulled out his binoculars and zeros in on the sudden activity. "Okay guys, we wait and watch. We need to learn their routine. If that van leaves we're going to intercept it." By dusk the truck finally departed the compound, following the only road out. Murdock, Hannibal, BA, Face and Amy hide in the brush alongside the road. A felled tree blocking the narrow dirt road. The truck stopped in front of the log barrier unable to go around because of the heavy brush on either side. The driver gets out to take a better look. Quickly BA grabbed the driver, throwing him up against the truck and placed a gun into his back. "Don't move, sucka!" The rest of the team emerged. "Captain, check out the back!" Hannibal commanded. "Yes Sir, Colonel." Murdock gave Hannibal a snappy salute and marched to the back of the truck. Hannibal walked over to the driver, the aroma of his cigar leaving a trail behind him. "Colonel, this van is loaded with clothing, jewelry and rugs. It's a regular mall in here," Murdock yelled from the back of the van. Hannibal eyed the driver and frowned. "So that's it!" "Hannibal, what does it mean?" Amy inquired. "These scumbags are using the orphanage as a sweatshop. No wonder they won't let any adoptions go through. They have a free and renewable work force." The driver, a young Asian man, began to sweat profusely under the scrutiny of the team. Fearing for his life he started to protest, "Hey, I have nothing to do with that stuff, I just pick up and deliver." Hannibal can only glare. Sicken by the sight of a man who would help in enslaving his own people, especially children, but he needed answers so he suppressed his growing hostility. BA spun the driver around and slammed him back against the truck. He pointed his gun into the driver's face as he demanded, "Where do you deliver the merchandise?" The driver balked until BA's forearm goes across his throat. In a strangled voice he replied, "I...I take it to Krong Kaoh, the shipping port." "Are you their only driver?" Hannibal asked casually.. "No, it's whoever they can get at the time." BA released his hold on the driver who rubbed his throat. A wide smile emerged on Hannibal's visage as a plan started to form in his machiavellian mind. BA, familiar with the gleam in Hannibal's eyes, could only shake his head in dismay. "Oh no, he's on the jazz, man he's on the jazz." "Okay, first, Amy do you have any contacts in the Cambodian government?" Hannibal inquired. "No, but I have a friend in D.C. who does." "Good. Murdock, escort Amy and our friend here back to the van. Tie him up in the back then get back here. Amy, you drive to Batdambang and notify the authorities. Tell them what's happening. The rest of us need to figure out how to get into the compound and safeguard the children before we have some fun." ***** Early evening the next day, Face found himself in the driver's seat of the now emptied truck. Hannibal leaned into the window. "Face, get in and try to make contact with one of the orphans. If possible, explain to them what's going to happen. Plant the charges then lay low until you hear our signal." Murdock jumped up to the passenger side. Expecting one of Murdock's eccentric words of wisdom Face was dumbfound by a very normal and serious sounding Murdock. "Hey, be careful in there, Faceman." "Ah, yeah, thanks, Murdock." Murdock winked and ambled away as Face shook himself out of his bewilderment and turned to Hannibal. "You know Hannibal, I kind of miss the crazy Murdock." ***** Face entered the compound unchallenged and backed the truck up to the rear of the large building. He remained in the cab as one of the guards stared at him suspiciously. Face waved and smiled, and the guard moved off, apparently satisfied. The initial activity soon dispersed and Face cautiously stepped out of the cab, pulling his cap down low on his head. He strolled across the compound and stopped under the guard tower. He feigned tying his shoe and attached a detonator to the base of the tower. He then made his way to what appeared to be the sleeping quarters for the security force. Face planted two more charges, then tried to be as inconspicuous as he could while he waited for a chance to enter the large factory-type building. It's not long before he managed to slip in. He found himself in a single large room with wooden floors. He could see a loading dock in the back and noticed four windows covered with dust and probably stuck shut. A few fans circulated the hot, stifling air. Face was appalled by what he saw. About twenty children, some as young as four, forced to work in the dirty, hot building under grueling conditions. Face frowned as he looked upon children making wallets and necklaces by hand and weaving rugs on crude looms. Some of the children looked up momentarily from their labor, but quickly went back to work. In a far corner mats lay stacked against the wall, testimony to their sleeping conditions. Face noticed a middle-aged Asian man asleep in a chair across the room; an M16 rifle laid across his legs. Tentatively he approached a row of young girls working feverishly on pedal-power sewing machines. He kneeled down in front of the first girl and quietly whispered, "Do you speak English?' Slowly he made his way down the row asking each of the girls. Finally, halfway down the line the oldest, who couldn't be more than eleven, nodded in comprehension. She peered over her shoulder, fear blazed in her dark eyes. Face flashed her one of his dazzling smiles and patted her hand. The little girl's fear abated and a slight smiled appeared on her face. "Listen, I'm here to help you. Have everyone ready to leave tonight. My friends will be here to rescue you." The girl nodded and smiled, a smile that reminded Face of the reason he does this. "Hey you, what do you think you're doing?" Face looked up to see the Asian supervisor across the room standing up. He quickly turned to leave, kicking the door with enough force to throw the guard on the outside to the ground. Face raced out, trying to determine the best course to take when he's struck from behind and crumbles to the ground. On the hill top, Hannibal, BA, and Murdock witness the fall of their comrade. They watch helplessly as Face is dragged off to one of the small buildings. "Don't worry, Faceman can get out of anything," BA said reassuringly as he gripped his rifle a little tighter. "We're going to have to push our plans ahead a bit. First, we have to get those children out of harms way before we attack." Through the binoculars Hannibal zeros in on the abandoned bunker. "And what better place than right under their noses." BA and Murdock passed a quizzical look between them. "We'll put them in the bunker behind the factory." As the three head back down the hill, BA comes up alongside Hannibal. "Hannibal, I'm worried about Murdock. He hasn't had a psychotic episode this whole mission. It's not natural." "Don't worry BA sane or crazy Murdock is dependable. I'm sure after this mission he'll return to his normal, abnormal self." Hannibal smiled at the huge, lovable black man. "If I didn't know better BA, I'd swear you miss the old crazy Murdock." "That's nuts. I just don't want him to mess up this mission." BA moved on ahead, unable to admit how close to the truth Hannibal was. He never thought he'd miss Murdock's crazy antics. Face slowly regained consciousness to find himself laying on a dirt floor in a small, windowless room. His hands handcuffed behind him. He sat up, winced and looked around. The room was bare except for a single wooden door; the only means of escape. Suddenly voices rose on the other side of the door. A moment later the Asian gentleman he saw earlier talking to McCroskey entered with two burly guards. The General stared contemptuously down at Templeton. "I am General Ee Chien. Who are you?" Face's smile naturally took over his face. "What, not even a 'hello, how are you?'" Face's smart mouth was quickly slapped by one of the guards. He decided to try another strategy. "My name is Mr. Thomas Jefferson. I'm with child services, and we're interested in the programs you've implemented here. They're insufferable." Not impressed with his witticism, the other guard sharply kicked Face in the stomach. Face heard as well as felt the snap of one of his ribs break under the abuse. He gasped and fell on his side, tears formed at the corners of his eyes as he tried to endure the pain. The guards smiled with obvious pleasure at Face's agony. The general took a deep breath and audibly exhaled. "I'm losing patience with you. No more insolent remarks. Now again, who are you?" The general demanded, his face turning red with anger and frustration. "Go to hell," Face gasped through the pain. The general straightened, a demonic smile on his face as he nodded and stepped back. The two guards came forward to distribute further punishment upon Face, the same sadistic smiles on their faces. One of the guards picked him up by his handcuffs, almost dislocating his shoulders. The other stepped in front, an evil grin on his face, and proceeded to deliver brutal blows to Face's chest and stomach using a long, thick club. The last blow struck Face's groin and the guards let him crumble to the ground. An enormous bolt of pain streaked through Face's head. Bright dots flashed across his vision as one of the guard's foot made contact. Dressed in dark clothing, Hannibal, BA and Murdock stealthily make their way into the compound. They quietly dispatched the guard at the large building where the children still toiled. Murdock quietly slipped inside and easily took out the supervisor, who again was asleep at his post. BA pried open one of the lower rear windows and was greeted by a young Asian girl's smiling face. Hannibal was, as always, astonished at BA's appeal to children. They never seem afraid of him. Quickly, Murdock handed each child up to BA, as Hannibal led them to the bunker. Hannibal checked his watch as BA secured the bunker after the last child was safely inside. "We have ten minutes until the explosives Face set go off. Let's even up the odds a bit, shall we?" "Right on, Colonel," Murdock replied in anticipation as he lock-and-loaded his rifle. The three scattered into the dark, each knowing what was expected of him and the others. They depended on each other and trusted each other with their lives; they had to or they would never survive the life they had chosen. The guards ceased their beating as the general again posed the question to a pain-racked Templeton. Face knew he had to stall until the rest of the team had a chance to rescue the children. He tried to stay conscious, the severe pain of his bruised and broken ribs and the ringing in his ears made it hard to hear the general's words. McCroskey silently entered and stared down at Face's bruised and bloodied body. "Stop it! He's no good dead." McCroskey regarded Face intently until the General interrupted his thoughts. "What is it, McCroskey?" The general asked.. "We need to find out who he is and what he's doing with one of our trucks." McCroskey kneeled down to find Face unconscious. "He might have friends." The general waved the guards out as he and McCroskey followed. At the sound of the closing door, Face's eyes snapped open. Immediately he began to pick the lock on the handcuffs with a thin piece of metal. The pain in his head made it hard for him to stay focused. Murdock silently crept up on a guard leaning against a post, trying to blow smoke rings with his cigarette. His rifle casually slung over his shoulder. Murdock tapped him on the shoulder, bringing the butt of his rifle into the guard's face. The man dropped bonelessly to the ground. "Didn't anyone ever tell you smoking is bad for your health," Murdock berated the unconscious guard as he took a quick look around, then dragged the man behind a building. The general and McCroskey walked out into the compound. The night was cloudless and a brilliant white crescent of moon hung in the sky just above the trees. Exasperated, McCroskey stopped short and put his finger into the general's pudgy round face. "We need to move this operation." "What! This is the best set-up we've ever had," the general objected. "I don't like it. That man, something's strange, familiar. I don't know." McCroskey ran his hand through his hair. He stared back at the building where Face was even now freeing himself. "I don't like it!" "Face it, McCroskey you can't handle it. You're running scared," The general sneered. Recognition dawned on McCroskey's face. "Face it...face... Faceman!" "What are you babbling about?" General Ee Chien stared at McCroskey like someone who had lost his mind. "That's Templeton Peck, a.k.a. Faceman. He's part of the A-Team." "What's an A-Team?" At that moment an explosion rocked the compound, and the general dropped to the ground. "I think you're about to find out General," McCroskey yelled as he raced back to where Face was being held. He heard the general yelling orders to his frantic and confused men. Face managed to pick open the handcuffs and quickly rubbed circulation back into his numb arms. Blood matted his sandy blond hair and he could feel the pain of each broken rib with every breath he took. He heard the first explosion and a faint smile appeared on his bruised face. Well, it's about time guys, he thinks to himself. He tried to focus and slowly stood, placing himself next to the door. He put his head against the wall and closed his eyes, trying to force back the blackness that was threatening to overwhelm him. The door banged open as McCroskey charged into the cell. Face grabbed McCroskey by the arm, bending it behind his back. He slammed the man against the wall, removing the pistol from his side holster. Face brought the pistol up to McCroskey's head and cocked it. The sound freezes McCroskey's blood and immediately takes any fight out of him. "Lieutenant Templeton Peck, small world," McCroskey spit out each word. "Ah, you remember me. I'm flattered." Face put the handcuffs on McCroskey trying not to show his growing weakness. "No tricks, I have no problem with blowing you away." Face spun McCroskey around. "How do you live with yourself McCroskey, after killing your own men." "What! I had nothing to do with that ambush. I got separated from my men during the fire fight. Somehow I managed to slip away unnoticed. I had planned on turning myself in after everything settled down. Then I heard everyone was declared dead. I couldn't believe my luck. You know what it was like there; how can you blame me? I may be a deserter and a coward, but I'm no traitor. I was just scared." Face glared silently at McCroskey. He does understand; many times in the jungles of Nam he thought of just disappearing, running away, but he didn't. His sense of duty to his men was stronger than his fear of dying. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I was scared. So were a thousand other men. That doesn't justify running away. You had a duty to your men, and your captain was depending on you. You're going to have to answer for that." This last remark seemed to hit a nerve with McCroskey as he suddenly looked very dejected and lost at the mention of his captain. "You'll never get me back to the states," McCroskey declared, slightly disheartened. Face shoved him out the door. The two men stepped outside to witness the chaos surrounding them as two more explosions resounded across the compound. Face could hear the scattered gun fire of men who don't know what they're shooting at. Suddenly they are intercepted by the general, who levels a gun at the two men. Face stood behind McCroskey for protection. "I guess we have sort of a Cambodian standoff," Face remarked smugly." "Not true. For us to have a standoff you have to have something of importance to me," the general replied, unconcerned. "Why you little back-stabbing, low-life." McCroskey's face twisted with a mixture of anger and hatred towards the Asian general. A guard raced up to the general, interrupting McCroskey's diatribe. "Sir, we have a problem!" The general kept his gun pointed at the two men as he answered the Sergeant. "What is it, Sergeant!" "Well, we don't know who we're shooting at and..a..well, the children are missing." The general glared at the guard as outrage boiled to the surface. "How could this happen?" The general turned his attention to Face. "You, you have something to do with this!" An explosion interrupted their discussion and the general's growing fury as the guard tower came crashing down. Face took advantage of the confusion, shoving McCroskey towards the general. He ran towards the side of the building feeling the wind of a bullet whiz by his head. The general scowled down at McCroskey who laid on the ground at his feet, he turned and walked off shouting orders to his men. The fight is short lived as Hannibal, Murdock and BA slowly and deliberately take out the general's fighting force one by one, most never knowing what hit them. Fifteen minutes after the first explosion the battle is over. Murdock and BA direct several guards and a despondent McCroskey to the center of the compound where they are forced to sit on the ground. Hannibal appeared, a rifle in the crook of his arm pointed at the back of the now defeated general. A cigar sticks out of his smiling and confident face. "We'll secure these gentlemen in the bunker. That should hold them until the authorities arrive." Hannibal lit a cigar as he remarked, "I love it when a plan comes together." Face limped up along side Hannibal, who puts a steadying hand on his elbow. He looks upon a pale and worn Face. His left eye swollen shut, dried blood down one side of his face. His ripped shirt revealed the discoloration of his ribs and Hannibal could hear a slight rasping every time Face tried to breath. "Hannibal, what about McCroskey? Maybe he's not the traitor, but he did desert. Shouldn't we turn him over to American authorities?" Face asked. Hannibal gave Face a concerned smirk, hoping he wasn't as bad as he looked, then he eyed McCroskey. "Nah, we'd be doing him a favor. The jails here in Cambodia aren't Club Med." The general maintained a pompous stance as he glared, unable to believe that only four mercenaries could defeat his small army. " did only four of you?" Hannibal stuck out his chest as someone who was proud of what they were about to say. "You have to have a team general, and I have one hell of a team." Face walked over to McCroskey who, still handcuffed, was sitting on the ground staring at his shoes. He kneeled as McCroskey lifted his eyes up. "You know McCroskey, I'm only running from the Military and I'm able to get away, but you, you'll be running from yourself forever without ever getting away. You'll have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. I hope your soul will find peace when the time comes." McCroskey doesn't say a word, but dropped his eyes. Face stood and backed up as the world started to spin. He heard Hannibal as if he was standing in a long tunnel. "Hey kid, you don't look so good." The ground quickly came rushing up to meet him. Hannibal's quick reflexes saved Face from a brutal impact with the ground. He gently lowered him to the ground. Concern marred the faces of BA and Murdock as Hannibal cradled the injured Faceman. ***** A week later the team was enjoying the grateful hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Jacoby and their newest addition, a sweet dark-haired little girl, Dawn Kim Yan. The little girl sat on BA's lap playing with the gold chains about his neck. "I don't know how we can ever thank you," Mrs. Jacoby stated as she placed a plate of sandwiches on the table. She went to her husband and sat on his lap throwing her arm across his neck. "We're in your debt, Mr. Smith," Marcus added. "Don't worry about it. Putting scum like that away is our favorite past time," Hannibal replied. Amy suddenly appeared at the front door and entered. "I have that information you wanted, Hannibal." She stood in the center of the room, reading from a computer printout. "General Ee Chien and his men have all been arrested by the Cambodian authorities. It appears the general has been wanted for various war crimes for a very long time." "What about McCroskey?" Hannibal asked from his easy chair in the corner of the room. "Well, sorry to say there was some kind of snafu. McCroskey managed to get away. They think he's gone to Vietnam. They have a new staff at the orphanage and Mr. Hun Sen is doubling his efforts to find all the children homes." A much improved Faceman, the only evidence of his ordeal being a slight discoloration under his left eye and a slight limp, entered the living room. His distracted behavior attracted Hannibal's attention. "What's wrong, Face?" "I just got done talking to the VA. I was pretending to check on Murdock, fully prepared for a frantic nurse telling me that he escaped." Face paused as he stared at Murdock. "You're not going to believe this, the nurse there said he was doing fine." "Ah Face, you must've been talkin' to some new nurse or somethin'." BA said without much conviction. Everyone turned their eyes to a grinning Murdock, his hands behind his head a Cheshire cat smile on his face. THE END (NOV 1997)