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Hard Times In Hawai
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The sleek Canadian Challenger swooped low over the huge Pacific
breakers crashing onto the Oahu shoreline as Howling Mad Murdock Shrieked an
accompaniment to the loud rock'n'roll song blasting through his headphones.
Murdock flipped the thirteen seater twin-engined jet upside down to give
the surfers at Makaha a thrill, and it was only when he went into a series
of victory rolls over Mauna Lahilahi that the Face Man felt it necessary to
"Hey, Murdock!" he yelled, lurching through the cabin door. No answer.
Face pulled the connection on Murdock's tape machine. Myrdock gave no indication that the music had stopped. Face pulled the headphones off his head.
"Get her down," he said, "and make it quick- he's coming around."
Murdock pulled a face of mock terror and levelled the Challenger. He spoke like a spoiled child. "Why do we always have to do what he wants?" he complained. "The doctors say that's a sure way to stimulate the negative wind currents in the cranium. It's a very unnatural thing to do."
"So's having to swallow your own shoes," Face reminded him.
Murdock flew the Challenger to Honolulu International Airport and, singing to the control tower of his enthusiasm for inflatable dart boards, electic golf clubs and extra large bicycle clips for cyclists with short trousers, he took her down for a perfect landing.
Perfect, that is, exept for the 747 coming in to land on the opposite end of
exactly the same runway. As soon as the Challenger hit the tarmac, Murdock
fired the engines into reverse, swung the Challenger to one side and slewed across the grass, narrowly missing the incoming 747.
Murdock taxied over to a quiet-looking hangar as a crowd of angry officials came rushing up to the plane. Hannibal, dressed as an Air Force Major, opened the hatch as BA bbegan to stir on the stretcher he was tied to.
"Better hurry," he advised Ann and Face, both of whom were wearing white coats.
"What's the matter with you guys? You trying to kill somebody?" An agitated
customs officer was waiting at the bottom of the steps as Hannibal led his oddball crew off the Challenger.
"Far from it," he replied briskly. "We're trying to save lives. I'm Major Karl Woodrow of the er...I.U.P." He saluted briskly.
At that moment BA opened his eyes and began to struggle against the traps holding him down on the stretcher. Hannibal pulled the sheet back over his head.
"what the heck's I.U.P?" asked the customs man.
Hannibal remained cool. "It's the er...Institute of Unexplained Phenomena - top secret. It's an urgent case."
The customs man pulled back the top of the blanket and backed away from BA's ferocious glare.
"We found him in a block of ice," Murdock interrupted. "If we don't get him to our special isolation unit before he thaws out completely it could mean trouble - germsand things. We'll have to use your car."
From the stretcher, BA growled with frustration and anger.
"Who...what exactly is it?" asked the customs man.
"Don't call him the missing link," warned Murdock, "even though he might well be thatfinal peoice of the jigsaw of evolution, the vacant page in our
knowledge of the evolutionary chain, the blind spot in our historical vision
between the Plasticene era and the age of plastic dinos - AAARGH!" BA had
worked one hand free from the straps and was grasping Murdock round the throat. Using all his strength, Face managed to unlock the grip.
"It might be too late already," he said, helping Ann load BA into the back of an ambulance. "We'll bring this back when we've finished."
Hanniball climbed into the dricing seat, ignoring the suspicious, bemused stares. "And in the meantime, make sure the taks are full and the aircraft is ready to fly." With that, he gunned the motor and drove out of the airport and onto the busy highway.
Carolyn Kent, the A-Team's client, had watched the proceedings with a growing feeling of alarm. When Murdock climbed out of the window onto the roof of the speeding ambulance to escape BA's temper, she finally snapped.
"Stop the ambulance!" she screamed. "This is madness!"
Hannibal brought the ambulance to a quick stop and Murdock slid off the roof onto the bonnet.
"You want out - there's the door," said Hannibal. "You want us to save your father's life - we'll do it our way."
Carolyn tossed her head and her long blonde curls shook free of her heart-shaped face. Hannibal could see why she earned 3,000 dollars a day as a fashion model.
"The people who've got my father are very well organised," she said. "They've got people working for them throughout the Hawaiian Islands. They work hand in glove with some of the biggest criminal organisations on the mainland. They are an extremely effective and sophisticated outfit."
Hannibal's face broke open in an easy grin.
"And we're the bell-boys at the Hotel Screewball!"
"Well..." Carolyn's voice trailed off as she surveyed the A-Team. Ann and
Face were smiling. Murdock was whispering into his shoe and BA maintained his customary ferocious glare, like a bulldog whose dinner has been stolen by the cat.
"We'll get your father, lady," said BA gruffly. "We'll give the bad guys pain. All this stuff is just Hannibal's style. He loves the jazz, man. He just loves the jazz."
Carolyn remained unconvinced. "there's one other thing..." she said. "This
is not your usual bunch of strong-arm goons with stolen cars backing up on their drives. The reason this set-up runs so well is becuase the person running it is smart."
"Ain't no man smarter than Hannibal," said BA. "Exceptin' myself."
"This ain't no moan," said Carolyn. "The boss of this outfit is a woman."
"So am I," said Ann.
The two women held eachother's gaze until Murdock handed Carolyn his she.
"It's for you," he said.
Carolyn grinned and threw it back at him. "Alright," she said. "Let's go and see Teeny."
Teeny was an artist who livved in a shack near the huge walled mansion where
Carolyn's father was being held, deep in a valley near the Kamehame ridge. Teeny sculpted in matls, and he was working on a piece entitled 'Helmet', when Hannibal, Carolyn, Murdock and BA arrived.
He switched off his oxy-acetylene torch and pulled up his visor. "The most
beautiful of all shapes didn't come out of nature you know," he said. "The most sublime contours the world has seen are found in the rudimentary shape of the steel helmet."
"Absolutely," said Hannibal. "How many gas taks have you got?"
"About six," said Teeny. "Such solid, reliable and friendly things, don't you agree?"
"Absolutely," repeated Hannibal. "You mind if we look around?"
"Not at all," said Teeny. Perhaps your friend migth be interested in some jewelry."
"Perhaps he might be," said Hannibal, leading BA into the shack. Piled round the walls were bits of scrap metal of all shapes and sizes. To the untrained eye it was just junk, but to BA it was a treasure trove.
Hannibal smiled appreciatively and placed his arm round Teeny's shoulder.
"As you can probably see," he said, "my friend here is something of an artist as well. He is a long time admirer of your work and has a strong desire to work with you on a combined project."
"What kind of project?" asked Teeny.
Hannibal's eyes fixed on an imaginary horizon and he waved his hands expansively in the air. "I see it as a big project. A meeting of minds, of
man and machine, a concept so daring, so potent, so awesome, that the minds of men will reeel from its dazzling, incandescent brilliance."
"Like 'Helmet'?" asked Teenmy.
Hannibal nodded. "Exactly like 'Helmet'. But different. This thing will be so good it will put Michaelangelo back with the shipping news. It's called...'Gun'."
"I like it! I like it!"
"I thought you might. OK, BA let's get this show on the road."
While Hannibal was organising things at Teeny's place, Ann and the Face Man
were being escorted round the back of the mansion that was Carolyn's fathers's jail. What they saw was not encouraging...A barbecue was being held by the swimming pool. Several hard-looking men jogged round the pool in tracksuits. There were two men in black suits gurading every door. In the pool, lounging on inflatable plastic armchairs, three men sat round on floating table headed by a beautiful blonde-haired woman in her early thirties. Ann recognised her at once from her sewspaper files: Stella Stanforth, the fastest rising star in the criminal firmament.
She gace a brief nod and two of the men slipped off their inflatable chairs and pushed them to the side of the pool for Face and Ann to climb on. Face
"What's the matter, was your mother frightened by a glass of water?" the man asked.
"No, it's not hat," smiled Face. "I used to be in the navy. I had a bad time."
"Well, er...we were three weeeks out of Nantucket when we ran into some icebergs. Boat got squashed to bits We had to rig up sails on the berg and sail her right back to port. By the time we got back there were sick of us
sharing a piece of ice so small we had to to order more for our celebration drinks."
Face felt the pressure of a gun against his back. He and Ann climbed onto the inflatable chairs and paddled over to where Stella was sipping to Mai
"What exactly do you two want?" she asked.
"we represent the interests of an appliance repair company," said Ann briskly. "Did you know that the appliance repair field is so uncrowded that
it's almost lonely? The room for growth is phenomenal. We're running a scheme whereby-"
"You break the law for money," Stella interrupted. "You can drom the act now. You two are from the A-Team."
"What?" asked Face. "Are you trying to be funny?"
"I know all about youu, Face - or should I say Templeton? And you too, Ann.
You're both here to try and spring that nosey reporter I've got stashed away
Stella put her Mai Tai down on the floaiting table and drewa small silver pistol from her bag.
"It so happens that I like you guys," he said. "that stunt you pulled in San Rio Blanco was a real class act. How'd you like to work for me?"
Ann and Face exchanged glances.
"Aw, c'mon," said Stella. "we're all in the same racket, even though you try to come on like Robin Hood. We're all here to milk the suckers."
The Face Man's expression hardened. To have the A-Team compared with a gang of visious hoodlums hurt his pride.
"Anyway," said Stella, her neatly manicured finger squeezing roung the trigger, "you either say yes or you die."
The first gas cylinder came hissing over the mansion walls under its own steam, fired from BA's 'Gun' near Tenny's house. It scored a direct hit on the barbecue fire, smashed open on the marble tiles an sent a roaring ball of flame high into the air.
Stella heistated, and Face used the split second to unplug his inflatable chair. As the chair sped carzily round the pool, Ann picked out the cocktail stick form Stella's drink and drove it deep into the arm of the crim queen's chair. She then unplugged her own.
The second and third cylinders were not so well aimed as the first, but they
succeeded in spreading even more panic and confusion among the gangsters. The first smashed through the mansion's ornate French windows an the other landed in the pool itself, sending a sontinuouis hight pressure jet of water spraying round the poolside.
Face slid off his rapidly sinking chair and grabbed hold of Stella.
"You'd better kill me," she splutteres, "becuase I ain't gonna forget this."
Face wrestled the pistol form her hand an swam to the edge of the pool.
"Kill them both!" Stella raged at her henchmen, who were too busy trying to put out fires to know what was happening. They didn't even see the armour-plated bus coming until it smashed through the mansion's metal gates and screeched to a halt by the pool.
"Over here!" yelled Hannibal, leaning out of the passenger seat and loosing off a short burst from his machine gun.
As Ann and Face raced for the bus, Hannibal turned to Murdock, who was crouching on the top of the bus aiming a crossbow at an upstairs window. "Go!" Hannibal ordered.
Murdock fired the crossbow and a canister trailing strong nylong line smashed through the upstairs window. Within seconds they could see the shadowy figure of Carolyn's father as he secured the line and grabbed hold of a pulley to slide down. Murdock fastened the other end to a loop bolted onto the roof of the bus, and Hannibal signalled for Mr. Seymour to slide down.
Although the gangsters had recovered from their shock and had taken up firing positions throughout the luxurious gardens, Carolyn's father landed unhurt on the roof of the bus and was quickly bundled inside.
"All aboard who's going aboard," said Hannibal. "Let's go, BA."
As the gangsters closed in on them BA gunned the engine. It stalled. Hannibal, Murdock and Face tried to drive the gangsters back with more fire,
but noe of them could stope on hood throwing a can of ptrol over the reinforced bus.
"C'mon, BA" said Face. "If that stuff catches we're going to fry."
"Don't push me, Face Man," warned BA, "or you ain't gonna be so pretty, dig?" He tried the engine again. It was dead.
"I don't want to alarm you unduly," Murdock said in the clipped authoritative tones popularized by English war films. "But someone's lit the trail of petrol."
Hannibal looked out of the window. Murdock was right. The trail of petrol had been lit and the flames were racing along it towards the petrol soaked bus. They were almost licking the back bumper when the engine fired.
BA threw the bus into gear, and with tyres squealing and spinning, headed back for the smashed gates. The bus brushed aside a Ferrari that was blocking the drive and soon they were racing past the Halona Blowhole Lookout and heading for Highway One.
As Carolyn and her father hugged eashother happilyin the backof the bus, BA eased off the throttle.
"AWhere to, Hannibal?" he asked. "The docks?"
"yes, er...that way at least. Why?"
"Because this place is an islandand I ain't goin' on no airplaine!"
"Take it easy, BA," said Face. "You might hurt Murdock's feelings."
"I ain't flying with that crazy fool!"
"Be careful what you say, BA," sad Ann. "It might unbalance Murdock's state
"Quite," said Murdock, laboriously counting his fingers.
"I've had enough of your foolish rap," said BA, bringing the bus to a halt under some plam trees. "I told you I ain't goin' on no airplane!"
Hannibal made a show of swatting a fly on his neck. BA grabbed him by the arm and pulled him close.
"Don't try that mosquito routine, sucker!" He forced Hannibal to open his hand. There was a small swab of cotton wool there. "This is the last time,
Hannibal! I ain't goin' in the air with that crazy man. If he flies, we die! I ain't goin' in no ariplane even if I have to sit here for the rest of my life!"
But Ba didn't sit there long, for when he had grabbed Hannibal, Ann had taken advantage of the argument to administer the powerful sleeping draught that was the only way the A-Team could get BA into an airplane. He mumbled twice, and then slumped forward with his forehead on the horn. Hannibal lifted him gently out of the driber's seat.
"Now we've only got one problem," he said, starting the motor up.
"What's that?" asked Ann.
"How the heck we're gonna talk ourselves back on that plane!"
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