VICTIMS


by Karen May (Maydock)- NIghthawk Commando



VICTIMS PART ONE

"Yeah, Colonel? Is that you? Murdock here. I, uh, was just checking in to
 see what might be on the old duty roster in the upcoming weeks. Anything
 important goiní on?"
 "Murdock? You called & interrupted my shooting schedule just to see what
 weíve been up to lately? Couldnít this have waited until something of
 greater importance materialized like, say for instance, a job?" John
 Hannibal Smith, a.k.a. the Aquamaniac creature in many of the low-budget
 horror flicks he was finding work in, chomped on his ever present cigar,
 annoyed at having been called away from his monstrous duties. On the
 loudspeaker in the background could be heard, "Mr. Smith, please report to
 Studio 2. Smith to Studio 2!"
 "I know, I know Colonel, and Iím really sorry. But I was just wanting to let
 you know that Iím going to be away from here for awhile. It seems that Dr.
 Richter is wanting to use me as a guinea pig for some up-and-coming new
 student shrinks. Iím going to be transferred first thing in the morning to a
 facility north of here for a couple Ďa weeks. Shouldnít be anything too
 major." H.M. Murdock  tried to sound sympathetic to his commanding officer
 from his days as one of Vietnamís best known Huey chopper pilots, and still
 his commanding officer as a member of the notorious fugitives from the U.S.
 Army known as The A-Team.
 "Yeah, Murdock. Thanks for the info, but I have to go now. I'm being
 summoned back to work. You know the number for B.A.ís van? If youíre in
 need, we can always be reached there."
 "Thanks Colonel." Murdock heard the click of the receiver on the other end.
 Oh, he knew the number for his friend B.A.ís van alright. Sergeant Bosco
 (Bad Attitude) Baracus, best friend of chopper pilot Captain H.M. Murdock.
 Thinking back on all they had been through together, each one willing to lay
 down his own life to save that of his comrade, brought a smile to the
 captainís lips. Yes, these men were the closest thing he had to real family,
 having been an only child, mother died when he was five, fatherís
 whereabouts unknown. Now under the care of the Veteranís Administration
 Psychiatric Hospital in Westwood, California, and not being an actual wanted
 fugitive by the U.S. Army due to having been declared insane, he was quite
 contented with what he considered to be a Ďnear perfect ruseí in order to
 avoid having to be on the run with the rest of his team. Here he had no one
 to answer to but himself, and whatever imaginary characters he could
 convince the staff of that were actually a part of his daily routine, one of
 which being his invisible dog named "Billy".


 The next morning... "O.K. Captain Murdock. Time to go. Your car is ready and
 the driver is here to escort you to your destination," the orderly remarked
 as he entered room 104 of the V.A. Hospital. Murdock was a habitual early
 riser, already showered, dressed and packed for his two-week stay at this
 arranged training session with the young psychiatric students. One thing he
 made sure of was keeping friendly with the staff at the hospital. This, in
 turn, earned him more privileges than were given to some of the other
 patients who resided here.
  "I'm sorry, Captain, but according to regulations, you must wear this
 straight jacket until you are in the back of the vehicle." Murdock knew that
 he was not considered to be any kind of a risk, but rules were rules, and he
 happily complied as he was fitted with the garment. Once inside the car he
 knew he would be allowed more freedom to relax and enjoy one of the many
 Superman comic books he was bringing along to amuse himself with.
 Outside, the day appeared to be unusually overcast for this time of year.
 Standing with the back door of the car open was William D. Schultz, having
 been employed by the hospital as a civilian driver to help with the
 transportation of minimal risk patients, whether it be for visits with their
 families, or minor medical treatment which was required outside the
 hospital. Schultzie, as he was known by co-workers, was a former Vietnam
 veteran himself. He had a good record  for transporting patients and felt a
 sense of pride when it came to performing his duties. Never in his ten year
 employment with the hospital had he ever come across a serious incident in
 which he, himself, could not resolve.
 "Good morning, Mr. Murdock. I see you are well prepared  for our journey. We
 shouldn't be any more than two hours to reach the clinic. Here, let me help
 you off with that jacket."
 "Oh, morniní Schultzie. Gee, thanks. Now I can get on with the important
 things I had planned for this morning," Murdock stated as he reached out to
 take his duffel bag from the orderly and place it in the back seat of the
 car. Schultzie concealed a snicker when he noticed the comic books sticking
 out of Murdockís duffel bag and was just about to close the door when a
 frantic Murdock called out, "Wait! Wait! You forgot Billy! Here boy! Here
 fella! Thatís a good dog. Now you sit here beside me and behave, and I will
 give you a treat I have saved for you in my pocket." An unconcerned
 Schultzie waited the extra few seconds, and with just a hint of a smile,
 closed the car door.

 Driving along the northern California coastline was always a pleasure for
 Murdock. Unfortunately today there were dark, heavy storm clouds threatening
 the morning sky and huge, aggressive waves crashing the shoreline. "Hmm,"
 said Murdock aloud. "Unusual weather we seem to be getting for this time of
 year, dontcha think Schultzie?" The driver nodded in agreement, himself
 thinking that the looming dark sky showed no signs of clearing. 
 "Weíll be making a right hand turn here shortly, Captain, then will be
 heading east/northeast for the remainder of our journey. Secondary roads,
 mostly, but good for traveling. This was about the quickest route I could
 see that would get us to the clinic. Nothing to worry about, I can assure
 you. Itís a shortcut through a National Park and is quite scenic, actually.
 You oughtta be seeiní a lot more wilderness and preserved park area."
 Murdock made eye contact with Schultzie in the rear view mirror, then turned
 his attention back to his comic book. He had been quite content with the
 shoreline and the crashing waves, but made no comment to that effect. As he
 continued to read, rain began hitting the windshield and, along with the
 sound of thunder, lightning was beginning to light up the sky in the distance.
 The weather continued to get worse. Murdock noticed just how isolated they
 seemed to be with nothing but tree lined roads and the odd sighting of
 wildlife in the California wilderness. Rain teemed down with a fury, now.
 Schultzie didnít seem to be too bothered with the worsened driving
 conditions as he hadn't appeared to have slowed down much because of the
 rain. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge buck darted out onto the road in
 front of them. Schultzie, apparently taken by surprise, slammed onto the
 brakes to try to avoid making contact with the unaware animal, but hadn't
 taken his speed into consideration. Murdock could feel the rear end of the
 vehicle start to fishtail violently, and tried to prepare himself for the
 worst. The rain slicked roads proved no match for the car that was trying so
 desperately to slow down, and in what seemed like only seconds, it hit the
 shoulder, rolled several times, and ended up on its roof at the bottom of a
 fifty foot ravine, lost in densely overgrown bush and hardly visible to
 anyone who would be passing by.


 VICTIMS
 PART TWO

 Templeton Peck, notorious con man of the A-Team. When it came to running a
 scam for most anything the Team was in need of, whether it be a house, an
 airplane, a building Ė Faceman was the man for the job. Scamming was just a
 way of life for him. Peck could no doubt scam his way through anything,
 thereby proving to be a valuable asset to the Team.
 Face smiled as he sipped the deliciously hot black cup of coffee while he
 admired the view of the Los Angeles skyline from the balcony of the
 luxurious condominium he had managed to scam his way into the previous week.
 His stunning companion from the evening before had just finished her morning
 beauty ritual and had joined him on the balcony with her own poured cup of
 brew. 
 "Oh, Templeton! What a glorious view you have of the city!" she exclaimed
 breathlessly.
 "Yes, it is a sight to behold, isn't it? Second only to your radiant beauty,
 my dear," Faceman responded, having rehearsed this line so many times in the
 past with a bevy of beauties he liked for company. He was just about to kiss
 her full, rosy lips when the telephone rang.
 "Oh no! Not now!" Face complained as he walked towards the phone. "Templeton
 Peck here. Can I help you?"
 "Face? Itís Hannibal. We need you NOW. Something urgent has come up. Meet us
 at our usual rendezvous point at the beach and weíll fill you in."
 "But...but...Hannibal, I was just about to...", click. A disgruntled Faceman
 looked at the receiver in his hand, then looked longingly out to his
 companion on the balcony who was unaware of the short-but-to-the-point
 conversation which had just taken place. With a sigh, he prepared to go &
 tell the lovely lady of the emergency to which he had just been called, and
 to apologize for having to leave so suddenly. Once that had been
 accomplished, he quickly showered & changed, and was on his way to meet with
 Hannibal and B.A. in less than thirty minutes.

 Upon approaching B.A.ís van, he noticed Hannibal smoking one of his ever
 present cigars, and an agitated B.A. pacing back & forth beside the open
 side door of the vehicle.
 "O.K. So whatís so important this time that I had to leave the company of
 the most beautiful brunette in the city?" whined Face.
 "Itís Murdock. Heís missing," said Hannibal in a low, worried voice.
 "Yeah! That crazy fooí! He was chosen to attend some sort of meeting soís
 that a bunchía new kid shrinks could study his head. Man, thatís the
 craziest thing I ever heard! Who could possibly study anything in Murdockís
 head? That manís crazy as they come! Ainít nothiní to observe in his head,
 nohow!" B.A. paced faster as he explained to Face what was going on,
 clenching and then relaxing his fists, shaking his head in disbelief.
 "Take it easy, B.A. Weíll get to the bottom of this. I'm sure Murdockís
 gonna be alright. That clinic he was due to arrive at is only a matter of a
 coupleía hours from the V.A. Hospital. All we should have to do is follow
 along the route as closely as we can, & try to determine what could possibly
 have happened to them," reassured the colonel.
 "As closely as....what? Why not take the exact same route, Hannibal?
 Wouldn't that make more sense?" questioned Face, his concern now growing
 deeper for the fate of his friend rather than for his most recent female
 companion.
 "Indeed it would, Lieutenant. Unfortunately for us the Army has also sent
 out a search party and will be scouting the area quite heavily, no doubt
 from the air," said Hannibal. "I've mapped out some possible routes they
 might have taken. Itís my understanding that the driver, Schultzie, was
 planning on taking a shortcut to where they were heading. What I have here,"
 Smith said as he was showing the others the red-marked routes on the map,
 "is two or three of the best known roads they might have been on."
 Face studied the map. Other questions suddenly arose in his mind. "Hannibal,
 how...how do you know all this? I mean, with the trip that Murdock is
 supposed to be on, and the fact that heís missing? Couldn't this very well
 be a trick that the Army is using to trap us? You already know that the Army
 is suspicious of us going in and breaking Murdock out on occasion. Could it
 be that they have done something to hide him, just to try & smokescreen us
 out? Oh, I don't like the sounds of this already," he moaned.
 "Good point, Face. I was at work on the set yesterday when Murdock called
 and told me he would be away for this, uh, study clinic for a coupleía
 weeks. He & his driver left early this morning and were due at their
 destination three hours ago, but haven't been seen nor heard from since. And
 how, you might ask, do I know all this? Well, Dr. Richter, as you know,
 suspects that Murdock is one of us. Out of his concern for Murdock, he has
 called a friend of a friend, so to speak, and that reliable individual has
 reported to me through Mr. Leeís shop about what is going on. By the way, do
 you have any more cigars?" Hannibal stretched his hand out to the attentive
 Face who reached into his shirt pocked to comply with his colonelís request.
 "B.A., weíre gonna need another set of wheels in order to be able to dodge
 the military search," suggested Hannibal. "Why don't you and Face go & see
 what you guys can round up, huh? Another van would be most convenient, just
 change the color, o.k.?"
 "Hannibal, I'm driving my OWN wheels, man! I ainít afraid of no military
 search party, and somethiní has happened to Murdock! Now, are you guys
 cominí with me, or do I leave without you? Weíre wastiní time, man! Murdock
 might need our help!"
 Hannibal and Face new better than to try & start an argument with B.A. It
 would prove futile in the end. Once he was determined to set out to do
 something, that was it until mission accomplished. This they knew quite well
 from past experiences. With nothing further to be said, the three of them
 climbed into the van and headed towards the vicinity of the V.A. Hospital to
 begin tracing the last known whereabouts of their friend.



 VICTIMS
 PART THREE

 Rain dripped from the branches overhead and hit him in the face. In a
 disoriented state of mind, he slowly opened his eyes and surveyed what was
 around him. His body cried out in pain from his every move, but his limbs
 were mobile and didn't appear to be broken. A few feet away he noticed the
 tangled remains of a vehicle and came to the conclusion that he must somehow
 have been involved in a traffic accident. His head pounded. Slowly he made
 his way over to the car and looked inside, but stumbled and fell facedown
 into the wet quagmire before him. He looked back and saw the still form of
 another man who, for some reason, must have been in the same vehicle and
 who, like himself, had been thrown several feet from the wreckage. But where
 were they? And WHO were they? He raised himself to his knees and once again
 made his way to the vehicle. Not much inside Ė several strewn articles of
 clothing, comic books - but no other passengers that he could see. The
 registration and ownership on the driver side visor said that the vehicle
 belonged to the State of California Veteransí Administration Hospital,
 Westwood, California. Why would he have been in this particular car? And why
 couldn't he remember who or where he was? Who was this other man, and why
 were they traveling together? Darkness seemed to envelope him again as he
 slowly slumped down beside the wreck and sank into peaceful slumber once again.

         "This is Decker. State your location, Chopper One. Over." The storm that
 had lashed out a couple of hours earlier had now subsided into minor drizzly
 conditions. Colonel Decker of the U.S. Army was in charge of the search unit
 that had set up a command post in the remote northern California National
 Park. He had been notified by the V.A. Hospital of one missing civilian
 employee and one H.M. Murdock, a patient undergoing a psychiatric evaluation
 to determine his sanity after having served in Vietnam. Decker knew better.
 He didnít disbelieve the evaluations of Murdock, but he did still have his
 suspicions about Murdockís mental capacity. He had suspected all along that
 Murdock might still be in contact with his former Vietnam friends, being
 the likes of Lieutenant Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, B.A. Baracus, and
 Templeton 'Faceman' Peck. These men he knew all too well. It was his duty as
 a member of the United States Army to help capture these wanted fugitives
 and bring them in to stand trial for crimes committed while in the service
 of their country. Or so he wanted people to believe. So far, this A-Team as
 they were referred to, had eluded capture. But now...
         "Colonel Decker, Crane here sir. Still no sign of anything down below. We
 are losing daylight now, sir, and we are in a very densely wooded area of
 the park. Visibility is becoming very poor. Over." The sound of the chopper
 blades whirred in the late afternoon and Lieutenant Crane hugged his headset
 tight to his head to hear the response of his commanding officer.
         "This is Colonel Decker. Report back here to the search command unit. We
 will resume air search again at 0600 hours. Decker out."


         "Hannibal, you sure we on the right road, man? This seems awful isolated to
 me," B.A. inquired of the colonel. Between worrying about his friend Murdock
 and wondering just where on this earth they were, B.A. Baracus knew within
 his heart that he could trust this man. That he could, in fact, trust any of
 these men with his life. They were a Team. They were family. And each and
 every time he had been drugged and thrown onto a plane or helicopter, he
 forgave them. Yes, B.A. Baracus, the fearless muscle behind the A-Team, did
 have a deathly fear of flying. And what made it worse was that the one and
 only member who could do the flying was certifiably crazy! Oh, but the
 stories he could tell, and the situations he had been in...
         "According to my sources, we are indeed headed in the right direction to
 reach this clinic where the students were expecting Murdock," assured
 Hannibal. "Now, as to whether or not we are on the EXACT same road they
 might have taken, well, thatís a different story."
         Face, who had been trying to catnap in his seat, was now wide awake and
 helping to search the rugged area they seemed to be in. All of a sudden he
 grabs the back of the colonelís seat and exclaims, "Oh, no! Hannibal, do you
 see those flashing lights up ahead? You don't suppose..."
         "Yes, Lieutenant, Iíve been expecting to run across these slimeballs sooner
 or later. Decker, no doubt. B.A., turn left here. Weíll go deeper into this
 wooded area and lay low until morning. And guys? Donít worry. Murdock knows
 how to look out for himself. Sure, you think heís crazy, but would either of
 you not trust him with your life?" That said, a quietness came over the
 three as B.A. maneuvered his van through the muddy, wooded area where they
 would find asylum until morning. Would they get any sleep? Probably not. Not
 until they knew the fate of their missing teammate.

         Darkness. It was so dark and damp. A chill ran through his aching body. His
 eyes were open, but all around him darkness prevailed. He sensed the tangled
 wreckage and slowly began to remember what had happened earlier, but
 couldn't remember who he was or why he was there. He crawled to the form of
 the other man who had been in the accident with him. Cold, lifeless, the
 other passenger was no longer breathing. Sorrow was now the determining
 factor in the conscious manís existence. Silently he wept for this person
 whom he did not even know, not at this point anyway. What could he have done
 to help save this man? And why was HE the one chosen to survive this
 accident? He returned to the car, then managed to retrieve some extra
 articles of clothing and dons them to seek warmth from this cool, wet hell
 he had been thrown into. He wondered with anxiety and with fear what
 tomorrow might bring, provided he survived the night.

Part four

         "Aw, c'mon B.A.! I gotta keep my dog Billy with me! He can act sorta like,
 you know, our team mascot or... or our protector or somethin'. Please? You
 gotta let him ride with us in your van!"
         "Shut up, foo'! I ain't lettin' no invisible dog ride in MY van! What is it
 with you? They ain't no dog here! Nobody else can see it!" Still drowsy,
 B.A. opened his eyes from what seemed like only minutes of sleep. A sudden
 pang of fear stabbed at his insides as he recalled the events of the
 previous day. What had made him dream of Murdock and his stupid invisible
 dog? Was it to be a sign that his friend was o.k.? That this, in fact, might
 be just a dream in itself after all? No such luck. He looked to his right
 where Hannibal was just waking up, and in the seat behind, Face was still in
 silent repose, slouched in his seat, his features contorted in a scowl which
 might suggest his uncomfortable sleeping arrangement. Overhead B.A. thought
 he could hear the sound of a helicopter in the distance. Decker.
         "O.K. B.A. Let's get rolling here. My plan is to get quietly back out onto
 the highway and to make sure that roadblock we saw last night has moved on.
 We should have enough tree cover so as not to be spotted from the air. We'll
 continue in this direction for several miles, then according to this map,
 here is another route they might be on. C'mon Peck, up'n at'em!" Hannibal
 took a quick look outside around them in all directions, and once seated
 again, lit a cigar.

 Decker, with binoculars in hand, was surveying the park area as far as he
 possibly could before he  saw nothing but trees and rock. With a good
 night's sleep behind them, he felt that there couldn't be any problems today
 in finding those missing men. Had Murdock planned this since he had been
 chosen for this particular assignment? Did he, in fact, escape from the
 hospital and was, right this very moment, with his other team members? Well,
 that would be found out soon enough.
         "Lieutenant Crane, are those roadblocks still in place like I ordered? And
 are the patrols still on the lookout for any suspicious looking vehicles in
 case the A-Team has made its way here to look for Murdock?"
         "Yessir, Colonel Decker. Everything is in place like you planned. There
 have not been too many vehicles reported in this area yet to raise the
 suspicions of the patrol," the young Lieutenant replied back to his
 commanding officer.
         "Good. Keep me apprised of the situation and I wanted it reported to me
 immediately of any THING or any ONE who may not belong up here. The men have
 a good description of the A-Team. I want it known to me YESTERDAY if they
 are sighted in the vicinity. And I pity the patrol who spots them and lets
 them escape again. Is that clear, Lieutenant?"
         The Lieutenant cleared his throat and nodded in response to his recent
 given orders. "Sir, am I to go up in the chopper again to search for Murdock
 and Schultz?"
         Decker's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "No. That is no longer a priority with
 me. Right now I'm placing all importance on tracking the A-Team," he growled
 at the Lieutenant. "Your job right now is to touch base with all the
 roadblocks and make sure there haven't been any sightings of Baracus' van."
         "Yessir. Right away, sir," answered Crane. He wasn't a soldier to disobey
 orders, however he still couldn't help wonder about the fate of the missing men.

         Thirsty; dizzy; bright light penetrated his eyelids. It was morning. The
 pain hadn't subsided all that much, but he knew that he had to try & find
 his way out of here if he was to get any help. In the crumpled car he had
 managed to find a coat with which to cover the dead man's body. Who was the
 deceased? Were they friends? Did he have any family looking for him? The man
 just didn't know, couldn't remember. He looked in the distance at some
 felled trees and brush, and thought it would be wise to find a sturdy stick
 to use as a cane to help him along his way. He wasn't sure, but somehow had
 the feeling that he had been in bad situations before, and had been trained
 to survive even under the most challenging of circumstances. Behind the
 vehicle was a steep ravine, too steep for him to attempt to climb. He would
 continue in the other direction where the forest appeared to be somewhat
 more accessible and he might be able to get through it easier. In the
 distance he thought he could hear the sound of a helicopter.
         By the time he had managed to reach any type of a clearing in the forest,
 the helicopter was no longer audible. There was some sort of a trail just up
 ahead. He was feeling nauseated and his head still hurt. The path had begun
 to get steeper as he went and he felt off balance from the dizziness he had
 been experiencing. Suddenly, and without warning, his legs gave out and he
 went tumbling down the hilly trail. As he hit bottom he looked around and
 thought he had seen a figure on horseback, just before he passed out from
 the fall. 
  

 VICTIMS
 PART FIVE

         "Face, hand me one of those two-way radios in the back, will ya?  I'm going
 to check & see if we can pick up the frequency the Army and Decker are
 probably monitoring," Hannibal announced. 
         "Hannibal, do you think that's such a good idea? I mean, is there any way
 they would be able to track our location through these radios?" A concerned
 Faceman complied with the colonel's request and forwarded one of the handsets.
         B.A., with his keen eyes ever searching the highway for any sign of a
 roadblock, piped in. "No, man. They shouldn' be a problem with these radios.
 I did some readjustin' some time ago to allow us to pick up extra
 frequencies without our being detected."
         As Hannibal was adjusting the radio, static crackled and a military
 sounding voice interrupted their conversation in the van. "Ground Patrol 3
 to command unit. We have found the wrecked vehicle being sought, hidden in a
 ravine, and are reporting one man dead, one missing. The accident was found
 about an hour ago by a man who was out with his dog. There are fairly large
 deer tracks near the crash site which lead us to believe the driver may have
 swerved to avoid hitting the animal. By our observations it appears as
 though he lost control, rolled the vehicle, and ended up down in the ravine.
 Waiting further instructions. Ground Patrol 3 out."
         "This is Colonel Decker. Remain with the crash site until the coroner
 arrives to claim the body. Do you know who it is? Cancel that request,
 Ground Patrol 3. I do not want any identification made on this frequency. Do
 you read? Over."
         "This is Ground Patrol 3. Affirmative. We will remain here, sir, until the
 body has been removed. Ground Patrol 3 out."

         He awoke from a terrifying nightmare. It was Vietnam. He was trying to
 steady the chopper as his friends were running for the safety of the
 aircraft while being fired upon by the enemy. It was an ambush they had been
 knowingly sent into, an ambush which Colonel Decker was hoping would have
 been the end of Lieutenant Colonel John Hannibal Smith, B.A. Baracus,
 Templeton Peck and H.M. Murdock. MURDOCK. What was he doing here? Slowly the
 fog had begun to clear from his head as he looked around the one room cabin.
 "b.a.?" he said in barely a whisper.  "B.A.?! BEEE AAAAY!!! Hey, you guys!
 Where are you?" Suddenly, there was the softest hand caressing his forehead,
 and following that was a cool, refreshing damp cloth. He looked up into the
 most angelic face he had ever encountered and wondered to himself, "Oh no!
 Have I died and gone to Heaven?"
         "Hi there! How are you feeling? That was a pretty nasty fall you had back
 there. What are you doing wandering around out here anyway? My name is Marie
 and you are here at my cabin retreat." The voice was every bit as angelic as
 the face. The beautiful brown eyes he had made contact with seemed every bit
 as concerned about his well being as he did. 
         It was slowly coming back to him. The V.A. Hospital. The trip he was to be
 taking up north. Shultzie. Where was Schultzie? And then it started becoming
 clearer to him. The accident, the lifeless body of his friend who had not
 survived the crash. Once again he tried to examine his surroundings, wanted
 to figure out where he was. "Who... who did you say you were?" he managed to
 croak. "Phone. Please. I... I need to get to a phone and call my friends."
         "Hey now, just relax, o.k.? I'm sorry, but there is no phone here. I don't
 have any communication except for this short-wave radio I can use in case of
 emergency. I was just about to notify the authorities about you when you
 started coming to. Like I said, my name is Marie. I come here a couple of
 months each year to escape the city life and to work on my novels. I'm a
 writer. And who, may I ask, are you?"
         "Mur...Murdock. H.M. Murdock at your service. Please don't attempt to
 contact the authorities. Here, I can explain. You seem like such a nice
 person, I think I can trust you to help me find my friends."
         Marie slid her chair closer to Murdock's bedside and listened to what he
 had to say, at first with stunned disbelief, then with acceptance and faith
 in what he was relaying. Well, if this didn't sound like an amazing premise
 for her next book, she didn't know what would! Yes, she had heard of this
 so-called famous group of men being sought by the military. It was hard to
 imagine that she actually had one of them here in her bed, dependant on her
 for his recovery from his sustained injuries, and to reach the rest of his
 team. "Such a kind and caring man", she thought, as Murdock spoke of his
 dedication to his friends. She loved the way his face would light up at the
 mention of their names, especially when he spoke of B.A. It was difficult at
 times to listen intently as she stared into his sensual, penetrating brown
 eyes. 
 She thought of her nasty divorce from two years ago, and how she never
 wanted a serious relationship again. By continually throwing herself into
 her work and her retreat to this wilderness solitude, the healing process
 had begun. But something was different about this man. Yes, she thought, if
 ever she would be blessed with the love and caring of a good man, he would
 be very much like H.M. Murdock.
 "What does H.M. stand for?" she asked innocently.
 Murdock gazed into her eyes and, with a slightly curled lip, smiled at the
 face that he was finding more and more irresistible.  He set aside the bowl
 from which he had just finished the hot broth Marie served him when she sat
 down. "Ya know," he began, "I have never even divulged that information to
 my own teammates, and I consider them the closest thing I have to family. I
 guess you'll have to settle for Howlin' Mad, or just plain old H.M.," was
 the only response his lovely rescuer would hear. Their eyes were still
 locked when Marie leaned closer toward Murdock's side and, before either had
 time to think, they embraced and kissed, seeking warmth and companionship,
 each hoping that this would be the beginning of something special.
 "Have I told you yet just how thankful I am that you found me?" he
 whispered. His fingers were entwined in her long, soft  brown curls of hair
 as she rested her head on his shoulder. "I promise I will make this up to
 you. That is, if you would be willing to see me again for, say, a night of
 dining and dancing?"
 Marie raised her head and looked longingly into the handsome face of this
 stranger she wanted so much to get to know better. "I'd love to," she
 breathed, as their lips met once again.

         

 VICTIMS
 PART SIX (Conclusion)

         "HANNIBAL! OH, HANNIBAL! They found a body! Oh, man, they found a body! You
 don't think it could be Murdock, do ya? What we gonna do now? Oh, man!" B.A.
 had all he could do to keep control of his van, his heart was pounding, his
 palms sweating, he was finding it difficult to breath.
         "Take it easy, B.A. Just take it easy, o.k.? Don't be jumping to any
 conclusions until we find out the facts here. By the sounds of the broadcast
 they can't be too far away. Let's just mosey on over and have a look for
 ourselves, alright? In the meantime, you just relax and drive." Hannibal
 himself reacted to the news with concern, although fighting to keep a cool
 demeanor about himself and his team. Murdock dead? No. He wouldn't lead
 himself to believe in the premature ruin of their missing member. Not now.
 They had been through too much together. He recalled the incident at that
 farm where Murdock threw himself in front of a dirtbag named Clayton who was
 about to shoot Hannibal in the back. Murdock was hit in the shoulder, and
 because of one of Decker's cat-and-mouse trysts at the time, the team had
 had a difficult time in seeking the medical attention their friend needed in
 order to save his life. When they had managed to take brief refuge in a
 cabin, Murdock's concern was for his team to abandon him to make good their
 escape. Hannibal's response to that was a concise "Captain, we go out
 together, or we don't go out at all!" Hang in there, buddy! We aren't far
 from you now! 
 Face hadn't said much. Staring out the window he hated to have thoughts
 running through his head of what the team would be like without their
 resident crazy man, H.M. Murdock. No, he wouldn't even think about that
 anymore. Murdock had to be o.k. Who else could run such a convincing scam
 with Face? Who else could possibly fly a chopper or plane in any position,
 any kind of weather, or be able to land in any terrain? No. They couldn't
 possibly exist without him. Closing his eyes, he silently said a prayer to
 the Powers that Be, hoping that out there somewhere would be someone to
 watch over their comrade.

 "Ground Patrol 3 to command unit, come in please. Over." The soldier had
 just been reported to by another guard who had been keeping watch on the
 surrounding perimeter, and who had just spotted a black and red van closing
 in on the location of the accident scene.
 "Colonel Decker here. Whaddya have, soldier? Over."
 "Sir, we have spotted a van fitting the description of that belonging to the
 A-Team and it appears to be approaching our area. Waiting further
 instruction as to whether or not we should attempt to apprehend. Over."
 "That is a negative, soldier. Maintain your position at the scene; have your
 men keep watch for the approaching van and if it tries to leave again,
 follow it and maintain a safe distance so as not to be seen. We will be
 there, pronto! Decker out." With that ever present leering smile on his
 lips, Decker stared off in the distance momentarily, then turned to
 Lieutenant Crane. "Have your men ready to move out in TEN minutes,
 Lieutenant. I will guarantee that THIS time the A-Team will not elude my
 capture!"

 By the time they were in view of the crash sight, they were once again
 listening in on the military.  "Oh, oh, Hannibal. I think we've been
 spotted. Now what?" B.A. had finally regained his senses upon having heard
 the news about the accident. Now, up ahead, it appeared they were being
 monitored by the roadblock which the Army had in place. 

 "Stand on it, B.A. We're gonna hafta outrun this one, I'm afraid. According
 to this map, there is a road up ahead we might be able to lose them on. For
 now, the best we can do is disable their vehicles on the way through, and
 see what lies ahead," Hannibal was informed B.A. and Face as he was checked
 his automatic weapon to ensure its effectiveness. Suddenly they were
 crashing their way through the barricade, Hannibal shooting out windshields,
 headlights, tires - doing everything he possibly could to disable the Army
 vehicles. As they crested the next hill, who should they meet but Decker's
 vehicle. With some mighty smooth maneuvering of the wheel by B.A., and some
 fine precision shooting from Hannibal, Decker's car was out of commission in
 no time. They had succeeded in escaping the military, but had not found
 their friend.

 Within minutes they found the road which Hannibal had spotted on the map. It
 didn't appear to lead to anyplace in particular, but for now it was about
 the safest they could be and still maintain a presence in the area until
 they found Murdock.
 "B.A.! Look out!" the hysterical voice of Face could be heard, loud and
 CLEAR. He needn't have worried. B.A. was in complete control of his vehicle
 and had lots of time to stop as they approached the lone woman rider on
 horseback. The three proceeded to step out of the van, weapons in hand
 although not pointed at the woman, and maintained a good distance of about
 sixty feet or so.
 "I don't believe it! He said you would be out here looking for him! I'm
 Marie. You gentlemen must be the A-Team Murdock has spoken so highly of.
 Please, follow me. The road is accessible for your van. I have your friend
 at my cabin and he appears to be o.k. He has been concerned for YOUR well
 being, however."

 "Captain, are you alright? Just what happened out here?" Hannibal didn't
 know whether to work at containing his excitement at having found Murdock
 safe and sound, or whether to let himself go (just this once!) and give his
 friend a hug. 
 No one could have been happier than B.A. He maintained watch outside the
 cabin, occasionally polished his beloved van and hummed tunes to himself. It
 wasn't like B.A. to be humming ANY tune, much less be-boppin' around with a
 smile on his face.
 Peck had also been assigned to stand guard. Such a peaceful and quiet
 surrounding. No wonder the attractive writer with the gorgeous brown eyes
 retreated to such a place to pen her novels in peace. He looked back at the
 cabin as the door opened and was watching Hannibal, along with B.A. now in
 tow, give Murdock a hand out the door and into the van. Marie was following
 closely behind the trio. Two days had already gone by. "Now's my chance", he
 thought. "I'd better make a move on this beauty while I have the break!"
 "Um, on behalf of the A-Team I would now like to take this opportunity to
 thank you for your compassion towards our friend, and to offer you the
 pleasure of my company for an enchanting experience aboard my friend's yacht
 that you will NEVER forget." Oh, he thought, but this was turning on the
 charm REAL good! 
 "Thanks, but no thanks. I'm afraid I have other plans, someone else to see
 for my reward," was the response Marie gave to the handsome stranger. 
 "But...but how? You don't even know when it will be?" said a dejected Faceman.
 "Oh, it doesn't matter when, or even where, it would be. Murdock has already
 invited me out for a night on the town, and I have readily accepted. But
 thanks for the offer, anyway." Muffled chuckles could be heard from inside
 the van. Marie had moved around to the passenger side of the vehicle where
 Murdock was sitting, and did a double check that he was alright. Slowly and
 deliberately, he reached out his hand and caressed her face as she tip-toed
 up and gave him a good-bye kiss.

 Driving back past the accident site left Murdock with an empty, sad feeling
 inside. He made a mental note to have to contact Schultzie's family once he
 returned to the V.A. Hospital and pay his respects for his friend. All of a
 sudden he sits up straight and exclaims, "B.A.! Oh, B.A.! Stop! Stop the
 van! It's him! It's my dog, Billy, and he's o.k.! Oh, B.A., please stop and
 pick him up. Please?"
 "Foo'! What you talkin' 'bout! They ain't no dog here! Man, that accident
 didn't do much to help your crazy head." B.A. stopped the van, looked out
 his side window and smiled happily to himself. Open goes the sliding door
 with Murdock calling to his ever present invisible friend, and onward they
 travel once again.
 Hannibal, glad to see his friend is o.k. and his team together once again,
 exclaimed as he lit his cigar, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

 *******************************   THE END   ***********************************



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