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Not Today

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Not Today
by Hayley May

The familiar black van he had cursed so often roared away suddenly and disappeared in a cloud of dust. He just stood there and watched it go, not bothering to attempt a futile chase. Although their tyres had been shot out there were still other options he could have taken. The valley was still practically sealed off, a few calls and the A-Team's fugitive status would be history.

"Do you want me to call the other squads, sir?"

Decker turned but put up a hand to dismiss Crane's suggestion.

"That won't be necessary, Captain."


Although a good officer, Crane could be a little slow at times and his mind had a habit of working only two dimensionally. Decker's mind at the moment was beginning to see the full picture. Despite appearances, it wasn't the ease with which the Team had escaped once more that was worrying him the most; it was the extent of bullet wound on their injured team member.

"Captain, they've got an injured team member who needs immediate medical attention."

"So you're just letting them go then, sir?"

Yes and no.

"I don't want to be held responsible for the death of an A-Team member, Captain. If Peck dies on their time, it's their problem. If he survives, then the chase starts all over again."

Not that he believed that Peck was the man down. No, something was not adding up quite right and he was beginning to see where.

Two hours later and his hypothesis was proven correct. Their missing soldier was found, albeit without his uniform. He swore it was Peck who had knocked him out although admittedly he hadn't had too close of a look. It was enough for Decker though, proof that the injured Team member had not been Peck and more justification why he had let that van go.

They were even, now.

Two weeks later, he walked into Westwood's VA Hospital. Captain HM Murdock, it appeared, had just signed back in. Apparently he had been out donating a kidney to a sick family member, although no one really believed his story.

So they stuck him in a straight jacket just in case he tried anything. Decker was certain he wouldn't, but said nothing. Murdock only went AWOL when the Team needed him for something. It hadn't been that hard to figure out who the secret fourth member of the A-Team was. They had descriptions that matched the Captain right down to the words on the back of his familiar flight jacket. Anyone else might have moved in on the pilot and used him as bait, but Decker wasn't going to do that. So he just sat and listened to the Captain's pointless endless chatter and remembered.

It had been 1968 in the Song Hgan Valley just two miles south of the DMZ. His team was trapped, pinned down by the heavy fire of the Vietcong troops now all around them, cutting off any chance they had of escape. His men were battle weary, injured, dying and he felt powerless to help with them. Hell, most of these kids weren't even old enough to drink yet. They were just boys, sent by their government to a foreign country to act as cannon fodder in a war they should never have been fighting.

The radio was dead, blown to pieces by a shell in the first wave of attack. They had no means of calling for help or any hope of getting support. They were on their own.

Closing his eyes, he had prayed like he had never prayed before, fingering the crucifix he wore around his neck. He hadn't thought the action would come to much, but he had been wrong.

At first he had thought it had only been his imagination, but the deep rumble seemed to come closer, joined by a much higher pitched whine. His conscious men were staring wide-eyed up into the sky and there it came, their salvation piloted by one of the cockiest teenagers ever to wear army wings.

One minute they were on the ground, the next the Lieutenant was easing them back into the air. Breathing a sigh of relief it took him a few moments before he became aware of the foolish stunts the pilot was putting them through.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Lieutenant?" he shouted over the noise of the roaring engines and the shrill whine of the machine guns below them. The only response he got was a huge grin and a sudden jerk to the

"Sorry sir," came the far too cheerful reply, "but I'm just trying to save your life. If you don't like the service I suggest next time you don't fly Howlin' Mad airlines. Now, please buckle seatbelts and set tray in upright position, we are about to experience some turbulence."

Turbulence was an understatement. It was a miracle that they even made it back to the base at all, let alone relatively in one piece. When they landed he went straight to the infirmary with his men and never saw the pilot again.

Later, at the debriefing, the truth came out. One of the other units had radioed the attack, but with no word from their unit the senior officers were not sure if anyone had survived. No one had wanted to risk flying the mission since it was practically suicidal, no one but one bold and cocky Lieutenant who had volunteered almost immediately. It was more then a miracle that they had gotten back alive. The Huey used was a wreck; it was only the Lieutenant's skill that had kept it in the air.

At the end he asked who the pilot had been so he could thank him in person.

Lieutenant HM Murdock.

He never forgot the name, but never got a chance to thank him.

Decades later he sadly watched the man now perched beside him. Whether or not he was as insane as the hospital claimed, the now older Decker knew that one thing was certain; this wasn't the same youth who had rescued them in
that chopper barely able to fly in a straight line. War had taken its toll on all of them, but it especially showed on the Captain.

"It would be in your best interest to help me find Smith and the others, son," he tried softly, watching the pilot closely.
"Sometimes they come in here to break you out."

Brown eyes started back at him, a smile creeping onto the face, then a laugh, before becoming serious once again.

"Lies," came the reply. "Lies. Unproven half-truths. Dastardly rumours. See it's them. It's them. They are after me. Mmm-hmm. There they are right now. Look, crawling up my leg."

Decker listened but knew it was no good. Murdock was as loyal to his unit now as he had been in 'Nam. Sighing he rose to his feet to leave. He had gotten what he had came for. Murdock was fine, physically at least; he appeared to have no lasting damage from the bullet wound. With the evidence he had he could turn the pilot over to higher authorities for questioning, but hell he'd be damned if he was going to do that. He owed the Captain at least that.

"Oh don't go, please don't go. I need you. I need you, Colonel."

Knowing that he had made the right decision, Decker got in his car and drove away. It was Smith he wanted and he would get Smith, one day, but not today. not today.

The End