Mad Dogs and Englishmen

An English nurse the A-Team knew in Vietnam needs their help. The team head to London to try their luck with British weather, British beer, British food, and some very British bad guys.

Rating: PG13

Words: 26,700

Chapter 1

“We’re really going by boat this time?”

“I told you, BA. Look, boat tickets.”

BA glanced across at the tickets Hannibal was holding, then turned his eyes back on the road. He’d already examined the tickets very thoroughly.

“The QE2,” Hannibal said. “Talk about your ultimate in luxury, BA, you’ll love it. And the food on those cruise ships! Well, you know what I’m talking about. We’ll all have to go on diets when we get back.”

“Yeah.” BA said smiling. “It sounds great.” Then slightly suspiciously he said. “And the boat takes us right to London?”

“Well no, we get off at Southampton.”

“And how do we get to London from there?” BA demanded.

“On a train, BA. Don’t worry, we won’t be doing any flying, I promise you. England is only a small country.” Hannibal looked at BA. “Oh, and don’t ask Face how he got the tickets, unless you want him to say ‘don’t ask me what I went through to get these tickets’ and then talk for an hour about what he went through.”

BA smiled. He was in a good mood now, looking forward to the trip. “I guess we’re lucky to have the old Faceman. He’s real good at what he does.”

Hannibal looked a little surprised. “You never tell him that.”

“Yeah, well,” BA looked slightly embarrassed, then said gruffly. “His head’s swelled enough already, any bigger and he won’t fit in the van.”

Hannibal grinned as they pulled up in front of a house. BA hit the horn a couple of times and a moment later Face and Murdock emerged, carrying a large amount of luggage. Murdock was wearing a sun hat and a Hawaiian shirt. Hannibal and BA watched them struggle with their baggage, heaving it into the back of the van before they climbed aboard, sweating a bit.

“Thanks for the help,” Face said. Murdock seemed to be too excited to join in the sarcasm. As the van pulled away from the kerb he bounced in his seat.

“Hannibal, this is going to be so great,” he said. “Face got us really nice cabins, he said. And there’s all the shows and a casino and stuff on board. I’m not going to want to get off. Forget flying, we should do this every time!”

Hannibal frowned at him a little. “Don’t forget we have a job at the end of it. A job you brought to us.”

Murdock sobered a little. “Yes, I know.” He gave a slightly wistful smile. “It will be nice to see Jenny again. She was a really sweet girl.”

“She’s not a girl any more, Murdock,” Face reminded him. “And she’s married.”

“I know.” Murdock said, “Was just saying it’ll be nice to see her again, that’s all.” He went quiet and started twirling his sun hat on his finger. They drove in silence towards the port for a few minutes, and then Murdock suddenly piped up again.

“Ooh, Hannibal, can we stop at Captain Bellybusters, there’s one with a drive thru coming up on the right here.”

“Murdock, we’ll be on the boat in an hour. Then it’s ‘all you can eat’ buffets all the way to London.”

“Aw, but Hannibal, they don’t have Hamburger Heaven in England, I checked. Please, please, please, please, please.”

“Okay, okay. BA, pull in.” BA growled about it but pulled into the Drive-Thru. At Murdock’s prompting he ordered four burgers and fries and four sodas then moved on to the window, collected their food and drove into the parking lot. He handed out the food and drinks. For a moment he looked suspiciously at his soda, but then almost laughed at his own paranoia. The Bellybusters guy had just handed it to him. None of the team had touched it. He drank the ice-cold soda.

Thirty seconds later BA fell asleep.

“I wish he’d at least eaten his burger first.” Face said as the rest of the team dumped their sodas. “Now when he wakes up he’ll not only be on a plane he’ll be hungry too.” Hannibal just grinned. He helped Murdock haul BA into the back seat, and then strapped him into Murdock’s chair while the pilot took the wheel.

“How much did you slip that guy at Bellybusters?” Murdock asked as they left the parking lot and turned back the way they had come, away from the docks and towards the airport.

“A hundred.” Face said. He’d been a little worried about how easily the server had been persuaded when he’d dropped in there earlier that morning.

“A hundred bucks to slip some unknown substance into someone’s drink.” Murdock shuddered. “Remind me never to eat there again.”

Hannibal was examining the boat tickets.

“Are these real QE2 tickets, Face?”

“No, but they’re beautiful forgeries aren’t they? I think we could actually get aboard with them. Of course we’d find some genuine fare-paying passengers in ‘our’ cabins.”

“Did you make them yourself?” Hannibal asked.

“Wish I could take credit, but no. I got them from Ash Wednesday. Best forger in the valley.”

Murdock grinned. Hannibal looked quizzical. “Ash Wednesday? That’s erm, sort of an unusual name.”

“It’s not his real name. Well Ash is. Well his passport says Ash…” he paused, looking thoughtful. “Anyway, that’s what he calls himself, Frank Ash. But whatever you want from him he’ll always have it for you ‘by Wednesday’. I think that’s the only day he comes out of his workshop.”

“How much did they cost?”

“Nothing, money wise anyway. All they cost me is a date.”

“With Ash Wednesday?” Hannibal’s eyebrows went up. “Face, that’s what I call going beyond the call of duty.”

“Not with him,” Face snorted, “with his daughter. When we get back.”

“Pretty is she?” Murdock asked.

“Well if her dad has to set her up on dates, I’m guessing not.” Face said.

“You never know, Face,” Hannibal said. “Maybe she’s gorgeous and Mr Wednesday just wants her to marry someone in the business.” Face looked as if he hadn’t thought of that, looked happier.

“Nah,” Murdock said. “I’m betting she’s a heifer.”

“Shut up and drive, Murdock.” Face said, scowling.


“This plane’s kinda small isn’t it?” Hannibal said as they got aboard the private jet. Their luggage took up a lot of the available cabin space. Face bristled at Hannibal’s comment.

“Do you know what I went through to get this plane?”

Fearing he was about to be told in great detail Hannibal said. “Sorry, Face, it’s a fabulous plane, and I’m sure BA won’t mind if one of us sits on his knee for the journey.”

“Okay, chaps,” Murdock’s voice came over the PA, before Face could answer. “Everybody strap in tight. We’re off to London to visit the Queen!”


After they took off again, fully refuelled, and headed out over the Atlantic, Face came into the cockpit with some sandwiches, cake and coffee.

“Hey, Murdock. Figured you needed refuelling too.”

“Thanks, Face.” He engaged the autopilot while they ate the food. Through the curtain that separated them from the cabin they could hear Hannibal’s voice.

“Right, BA, I’m going to free one of your hands, so you can eat this sandwich. Now if you try and grab me, or hit me, then you go hungry, okay?”

Face and Murdock looked at each other. There were scuffling and crashing sounds from the cabin.

“Think he needs any help?” Face asked.

“Like a whip and a chair?” Murdock suggested. “Tranquilliser gun?” He added as another crash sounded.

“Everything alright back there, Hannibal?” Face called.

“Oh, just fine, thanks.” Hannibal’s voice sounded a bit choked, almost as if someone had an arm around his throat. Face shrugged and washed down his cake with some coffee. Then he took a syringe out of his pocket, uncapped it.

“Back in a second.” Murdock waited. There was a howl of outrage from BA and then silence. Face came back into the cockpit and sat down. “You gonna eat that?” He asked, nodding at Murdock’s cake.

Murdock smiled. “Take it.”


“Murdock! Wake up!” Murdock jerked awake.

“Huh, what? Is something wrong?”

Face looked slightly embarrassed. “Er, no, sorry. It just makes me nervous when the only pilot aboard is asleep at the controls.”

“It’s on autopilot, Face.” Murdock yawned and stretched, checked his watch. “These babies can find their way home better than most human pilots.”

“Oh, good.” Face looked out into the darkness. “You want some coffee?”

Murdock sighed. “If it’ll make you happier. Just don’t blame me if I have to sleep for three days when we get there.”

Face went back into the cabin to get the coffee. Hannibal and BA were both asleep. He quietly went back to the cockpit.

“You know if you or Hannibal would take flying lessons then I wouldn’t be the only pilot.” Murdock said, taking the coffee.

“Yeah, then we wouldn’t have to keep breaking you out of the VA to take on missions with us,” Face answered, “which frankly would be kind of a relief, I don’t know how many more of those breakout scams I can think of.” His eyes twinkled.

“Ah, yeah. Well, learning to fly is really hard.” Murdock said, hastily. “I doubt if either you or Hannibal could manage it.”

They drank their coffee.

“So…” Face said eventually. “You looking forward to seeing Jenny then?” He thought about the British Red Cross nurse they’d met in Vietnam. She’d been pretty cute, Face thought, but not really his type. Murdock had rather liked her though.

“Sure,” Murdock said, “She was great fun.”

“You were pretty sweet on her, weren’t you?”

“Was not.” Murdock said, a little defensively.

“Were too,” Face retorted. “You stopped asking me to get you comic books for a whole month and asked me to get you books of English poetry instead.”

“A man needs to expand his cultural horizons sometimes,” Murdock said loftily. “There are times even The Dark Knight cannot touch one’s soul.”

Face rolled his eyes. “I don’t think it’s your soul you were hoping to have touched.” He said.

“Sir,” Murdock said, in an English accent and an affronted tone. “A gentleman does not discuss such things. We were merely friends, nothing more.”

Face dropped that subject for now. “You’ve been to London before, right?”

“Yeah. Summer vacation when I was in college.” Murdock’s voice was American again. “I was going to go hitch-hiking around Europe, but I didn’t get any further than London.”

“How come?”

“Well, there was this girl.” Murdock admitted.

“Another one? Murdock are we going to find the streets of London paved with your ex-girlfriends?”

“Jenny wasn’t my girlfriend,” Murdock pointed out.

“Ah, of course.” Face said. “My mistake. So when she wrote to you for advice and you decided that instead of advice the whole team should cross half the globe to help her out for free, that’s just because you were friends, right?”


“Not because you were sweet on her at all.”


“Glad that’s clear then,” Face said.

Chapter 2

BA stamped back to the table where the rest of the team were waiting. The tray he carried was piled high with food. Eight double cheeseburgers, four large fries and four milk shakes. He scowled and banged the tray down on the table. Then he sat down and started to eat. He didn’t give any of the food to the others. They looked at each other, and then Murdock gave a shrug and went off to the counter to get some food for the rest of them.

When he got back to the table BA was talking.

“You guys are dead.”

“We’re really sorry, BA.” Face said, smiling in a conciliatory manner.

BA wasn’t conciliated. “When I’m done eating and we get outta this airport I’m gonna turn you guys into dog meat.”

“C’mon, BA.” Hannibal said, “Don’t tell me you really believed we were going to cruise over here. That would have taken two weeks! I still can’t believe you fell for it.”

“That’s a good point, Hannibal.” Murdock said. “Why did he fall for it? With all he knows about what we’ve done to him in the past? The way I see it is that BA always knows that we’re going to try to knock him out and get him onto a plane; but subconsciously he knows it’s necessary and therefore allows it to happen. All that shouting and struggling is just psychological self-defence, so he doesn’t have to admit that he lets himself be fooled.”

“That’s a very interesting analysis, Murdock.” Face said. Murdock looked smug.

“I don’t know about subconscious,” BA said, “but if you don’t quit with your nut house jibber-jabber you’ll be unconscious.”

They all finished eating and headed out of the airport. BA continued to make threats. Hannibal let his attention wander as BA explained how after he killed the three of them he would only need to pay for one funeral, since there would only be enough bits left for one box.

“Shall we get a taxi or the Tube?” Hannibal asked.

“Oh, the Tube, please, Hannibal.” Murdock said. “I used to love riding the Tube. You meet some real characters on there. ”

“Tube it is,” Hannibal said, privately thinking that they were unlikely to meet any ‘characters’ stranger or more conspicuous that his little group. They unloaded the baggage trolley they had been pushing around the airport. BA, still in a very un-cooperative mood let Face and Murdock take the heaviest cases, smirking, as they got sweaty and red faced.

“Hannibal,” Face said as he dropped the cases with relief and sank down onto a seat in the tube train. “Can we go check into a hotel first and drop off the luggage?”

“Client’s expecting us, Face.” Hannibal said. He studied the tube map above the window. “Okay, we stay on this one till we get to Leicester Square, then we change onto the Northern Line and head for a station called Finchley Central. Then…” he checked the notes he’d made. “We get a bus…”

“Taxi.” Face interrupted.

“Okay, taxi, but that’s coming out of your pocket.” He looked around at the team. “Might as well relax, fellas. It’s a long way.” He sat back in his seat, stretching his legs out. “BA, tell us some more about what you’re going to do to us for putting you on that plane.” He closed his eyes as the soothingly familiar sound of BA’s litany of never acted on threats washed over him.


“I thought England was supposed to be a cold, rainy place.” Face complained as they struggled out of Finchley Central Underground station with their luggage; which seemed to be getting heavier by the moment. “I’m sweating like a pig here.”

“It can get warm.” Murdock’s three months in London twenty years earlier was apparently making him the team expert on all things British. “And it is July, Face.” Hannibal hailed a taxi and they piled in.

“Ferncroft Avenue, please.” Hannibal instructed the driver. He sat back in his seat. He noticed Murdock was looking a little nervous now, smiled at that. The Saturday afternoon traffic was quite heavy, but they soon reached the address they’d been given. Face paid off the taxi driver and they hauled their cases up to the door of the house.

“Murdock?” Hannibal stood aside to let the Captain push the doorbell. But as Murdock raised his hand the door opened and a short, brown-haired woman in a nurse’s uniform smiled delightedly at them.

“Murdock!” She said.

“Hi, Jen.” Murdock endeavoured to be cool, which lasted about two seconds, until she hugged him. He had to bend down to return the hug, since he was nearly a foot taller than her.

“Come in, all of you, come in.” Jenny said, enthusiastically. “It’s so good to see you. It’s been such a long time.” They heaved their cases into the rather narrow hallway.

“What a lot of luggage you have.” Jenny said, surprised.

“It’s sort of a long story,” Face said. “We, um,” he cast a nervous glance at BA. “We had to appear to be going on a longer trip than we actually were.” BA glared back at him.

“Oh. Well just drop everything here and come through. You all look shattered, let me make you some tea.” They went through into a spacious living room. Jenny bustled about picking things up. “Sorry, I just got home from work, not had time to tidy up. I told the kids not to make a mess.” Her arms full of books and comics she smiled. “I can’t believe you’re actually here. The A-Team. In Finchley.”

“We’ve been to stranger places.” Hannibal said.

“Chris should be here in a few minutes. He’s taking the children over to my mother’s for the evening. Make yourselves at home, I’ll make some tea.” She left the room and the team sat down.

“Is that iced tea she’s bringing?” Face wondered, still feeling hot and sticky.

“Doubt it, the British like their tea hot, strong and with milk in it,” Hannibal said. “Isn’t that right Murdock?”

“Hmm?” Murdock looked at him, somewhat distractedly. “Oh, yes.”

Hannibal smiled. “Nice to see her again then, Murdock?” He asked quietly.

“Sure,” Murdock said, also quietly. He looked in the direction Jenny had gone. He wasn’t totally blind to the fact that fifteen years had gone by since he’d watched her leave for Saigon with twenty injured and orphaned Vietnamese children in her charge. He also wasn’t blind to the changes those fifteen years had wrought. There was grey in her hair, and having two children had not done much for her figure. But she still had that sweet smile that he’d seen work a kind of magic on G.I.s and frightened children alike. I was always a sucker for a good smile, Murdock thought to himself, glancing over at Face.

Face got up and wandered over to the mantelpiece, looking at the family photographs there.

“Cute kids,” he said, of the boy and girl in their school uniforms smiling at the camera. He picked up another photo, a wedding picture. “Husband looks like a nice guy.” He glanced at Murdock, who nodded.

“Yeah.” Murdock said. He spotted a comic book Jenny had missed in her quick sweep of the room and picked it up. “Ooh, 2000AD, I don’t often get to see these.” He was quickly engrossed and Face replaced the photograph.

In a few minutes Jenny brought in the tea and a plate piled high with cookies.

“Here we are. I thought you might like some biscuits too.” She poured the tea, handed around the food.

“BA, you can’t still be hungry.” Face said, as BA loaded up his plate. “You should have seen what he ate when we arrived at Heathrow, I think the burger bar had to close right after, they ran out of food.”

BA just glared at him and bit a chocolate digestive.

“Oh here’s Chris.” Jenny said, hearing the front door opening. There was some bumping and mild cursing from the hallway as someone negotiated the obstacle course of the team’s luggage. Then they stood up as a man came into the room. He was tall and slender, with dark hair. He looked taken aback for a second at the appearance of the men in his living room, his reaction to BA being pretty much the same as most people. But then he gave them a friendly smile and held out his hand to shake each of theirs in turn, starting with Hannibal.

“So, you’re the famous A-Team,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Good to meet you, Mr Stewart.” Hannibal said, “I hear you’re having a little problem with your business.”

“Straight to the point, I see. Jen said you don’t mess about, Mr Smith.” They all sat down.

“Yes, I am having a problem, someone is trying to put me out of business and I don’t even understand why. Thank you dear.” He said as Jenny passed him some tea.

“What kind of business are you in, Mr Stewart? Murdock said something about collectibles.”

“Please, call me Chris. Yes, I deal in British memorabilia, mostly related to London and mainly street furniture. You know pillar-boxes; ah that’s a mailbox to you, telephone boxes, street signs. Things like that.”

“People collect that stuff?” BA said.

Chris smiled. “Mr Baracus, whatever you can think of someone, somewhere collects it.”

“And you started having trouble a few weeks ago?” Murdock said.

“Yes. I have a storage warehouse and workshop facility out near Tonbridge. That’s south east of London. A few weeks ago two men turned up and offered to buy the place, there and then. They literally had a briefcase full of cash. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

“You didn’t want to sell?” Hannibal said.

“No, it’s a good location, handy for the docks at Dover and for Gatwick airport. Lots of the pieces I sell get shipped abroad. And the staff all live locally, the workshop is just right.” He shook his head. “And anyway, I just wasn’t sure about these men. They didn’t seem like businessmen. Briefcases full of cash isn’t the way business is usually conducted in this country, you know.”

“Right.” Hannibal said. “And I’ll bet you started having a run of bad luck after that?”

Chris nodded. “There were a couple of break-ins at the warehouse. Nothing taken, but things moved around, as if they wanted us to know they’d been there. And then several of my staff decided they didn’t want to work for me any more, and wouldn’t say why. Even the temporary craftsmen I sometimes bring in for a few days, to work on something that needs specialist restoration, were all suddenly too busy. Too busy…” he shook his head. “Most of them are retired. They’re usually grateful for a few days work, but now none of them will return my calls.”

It was all familiar enough to Hannibal and the rest of the team.

“And the men with the briefcase full of cash keep showing up?” Face asked.

“Yes. They didn’t want to take no for an answer. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have anything to go to the police with, but I knew something was going on, something… well I don’t know exactly what, but something criminal. I know that.”

Hannibal nodded. “I’d agree. Sounds like you could use our help. If you want it.” He’d sensed a little ambivalence in Chris, perhaps from the way he’d looked at them when he came into the room.

“Yes, I do. I was dubious at first. When Jen wrote to Murdock asking for his advice, knowing he knew you, was maybe still in contact, and then when Murdock called to say you were coming over here I started to wonder if things were getting a little out of hand. But then I got this.” He passed Hannibal an envelope; it was addressed to this house. Hannibal took out the note inside it. It was written in crude block letters. He glanced at Jenny, and then he read it out.

“Sell now or you regret it. We know where your kids go to school.” Jenny gasped and Chris took her hand. BA’s scowl deepened by a factor of at least ten.

“It came this morning, after you left for work.” Chris said to Jenny. He turned to Hannibal, looking him in the eye, said very earnestly. “So yes, Mr Smith, I really do want your help.” Hannibal stood up and the others followed him. He held out his hand and Chris took it.

“Chris, Jenny. You just hired the A-Team.” He smiled at Jenny, trying to reassure her. Since he’d read out the note she’d started to look very frightened. “Now could I have some more of that tea?”

Chapter 3

Face sighed happily and lay back on the hotel room bed. It was good to feel clean and cool again. He snoozed, listening to the sound of Murdock singing in the shower. Murdock was currently belting out a Wagnerian sounding aria, though the words “kill the wabbit” slipped into the recitation now and again.

The hotel was less than a mile from the Stewart’s home. Jenny had warned them it was a little basic, to which Murdock had cheerfully replied, “That’s okay, we don’t have very much money anyway.” They had agreed to meet up tomorrow morning and drive out to the warehouse at Tonbridge. Meanwhile the A-Team had the evening to themselves to settle in.

“We have to go up west this evening,” Murdock said, coming out of the bathroom, towelling himself dry. “Go to a few pubs, it’ll be great.”

“Aren’t you tired?” Face asked marvelling at Murdock’s limitless energy.

“Nope. Come on, get dressed. We’ll get Hannibal and BA, go out for a few pints, you’ll love it.”



The A-Team walked into a pub on the Charing Cross Road. It was still early in the evening and the place was pretty quiet. They got a few odd looks, something they were now so used to they never even noticed them any more. They sat down. After a few minutes Murdock noticed the barman was staring at them and he remembered something important.

“Oh, they don’t have waitress service in English bars! I forgot.”

Face gave a long-suffering sigh and said, “Okay, I’ll get the drinks. Anything else you forgot to tell us, Murdock?”

“Nothing that comes to mind.” Murdock said, grinning contritely.

Face went up to the bar. “Hi,” he said, giving the barman a Smile. This one was variation 15(b) I’m your new favourite customer. (You won’t even notice I didn’t leave a tip.) The barman didn’t seem overly impressed.

“You gents drinking, or you just come in for a rest?”

“Oh, sorry about that. We’re Americans.” He found this seemed to excuse, or at least explain most eccentric behaviour. “We just arrived today, you know.” He saw a glance pass between the barman and a customer standing by the bar. “We’ll have, hmm, something traditionally English?”

“Traditionally English, eh? Well you can’t get more traditional than Scrimpton and Ferret’s Old Peculiar Pale Ale. Robin Hood himself used to swear by it.” Face knew that was a line, but he let it go.

“Pale Ale? Is that like lite beer?” Face asked, with his best’ innocent boy in the big city’ look. There was that look again between barman and customer.

“Yeah, something like that.” The barman started to draw off the beer.

Sometime later Face returned to the table with three pints of Scrimpton and Ferret’s and a coke for BA.

“Wow, does this come with a spoon?” Murdock asked picking up his glass and looking at the creamy head on the beer.

Hannibal tried a sip. “This stuff is like molasses!” Face looked around and grinned embarrassed at the other patrons who had turned to stare after Hannibal’s exclamation.

“Just drink it.” Face said, turning back to Hannibal, his teeth gritted. Hannibal shrugged and drank. Several of the customers continued to watch them suspiciously.


An hour later Murdock weaved a little unsteadily back from the lavatory. He wobbled a bit as he passed a table and bumped against a seated man.

“Watch it, mate.”

Murdock turned to apologise and through his Old Peculiar induced haze noticed that the men at the table were in military uniform. At this point Murdock made a very bad decision. He decided to salute.

Murdock had never had the snappiest salute; it had been the despair of his instructors and commanding officers. Long years without practice and two pints of Scrimpton and Ferret’s turned it into something resembling an orang-utan trying to knock itself out. The men at the table were not impressed. The one Murdock had bumped into stood up quickly, grabbed Murdock’s jacket and slammed him onto the table on his back. His friends lifted their glasses out of the way in perfect synchronicity and all stood up.

“You takin’ the piss, mate?”

“No! Not ‘t all,” Murdock slurred a little. “Ges’ure respec’, fellow soldiers.” He offered his hand and a slightly wonky smile. “Captain HM Murdock, United States Army, pleased t’ meet you.”

“Captain? Oh look, lads, we got ourselves an officer, we’d better salute.”

“That’s right suckers, you’d better.” They turned to look at BA, standing menacingly by their table. Murdock waved to him.

“And I suppose you’re a bleedin’ general?” The group’s spokesman asked, looking BA up and down.

“I’m a sergeant, corporal.” BA said, noting the two chevrons on the man’s sleeve. “Fifth Special Forces.”

“Oh yeah? Well we’re Royal Marines and…” The corporal went on talking but BA heard nothing else after the word “marines”.


Ten minutes later the A-Team and six Royal Marines were out on the pavement in front of the pub. The corporal had his arm around Hannibal.

“That was a bloody good rumble,” he said, with enormous satisfaction. “‘specially when pretty boy there stood on that bottle.” He gestured at Face who was being held up by Murdock and one of the marines. Hannibal frowned a little at the phrase ‘pretty boy’, but then grinned at the memory of the fall Face had taken as he backed up to get a better swing at a marine and put his foot on a discarded beer bottle. This was apparently the finest piece of entertainment ever seen in the pub. It had brought the fight to an immediate end as none of the marines could stop laughing long enough to even attempt to hit any of the Americans.

They had all staggered outside, followed by shouts of “you’re all barred,” from the barman.

“Come on then, Colonel.” The corporal slapped Hannibal on the back, “I’ve been thrown out of better dumps than this one. Let us show you where you can get some proper beer.”


“And then she said to me… she said… she said.” Murdock frowned, then enlightenment spread over his features. “She said, ‘Murdock…’ She used to call me ‘Murdock’, you know.”

“Everybody calls you Murdock, fool.” BA said.

“‘n’ so did she.” Murdock replied. BA shook his head. They were in the fourth pub now, the team and the marines sitting around listening to Murdock’s story. Well, some of them were listening. One of the marines had his head on the table. The man beside him was using his ear as an ashtray. Face had a glassy expression and a fixed smile. Hannibal was preoccupied with attempting to light a cigar, but was having trouble getting lighter flame and cigar to line up.

“So she said, ‘Murdock, you’re really sweet.’ Thass what she said to me.” The other men looked sympathetic.

“Oh, that’s harsh, Murdock,” the corporal said.

“Sweet!” Murdock exclaimed. “All know what tha’ means. I mean no one ever calls him ‘sweet’.” He tried to point at Face, but misjudged the distance and poked him on the arm instead. Face slid to one side and fell against Hannibal’s shoulder. He closed his eyes. BA, took the lighter from Hannibal, lit the cigar for him and gave him back the lighter.

“We’re goin’.” BA said.

“Aw, c’mon, sarge, it’s still early,” one of the marines protested.

The barman rang a bell and called out, “Time, gentlemen, please.”

“We got stuff to do in the mornin’.” BA said. “Been nice meetin’ you fellas.”

With the help of their new best friends BA got his teammates out of the pub and into a taxi. Face went to sleep on the seat. Murdock sat muttering incoherently, the word “sweet” being audible occasionally.

“You guys are a disgrace.” BA said severely. “We got work to do, and you’re gettin’ drunk and brawling with marines.”

“Don’t fret, BA,” Hannibal said, reassuringly and slightly unsteadily. “Consider it a little warm up exercise.” He frowned suddenly. “Anyway you started the fight.” BA had hoped Hannibal was too drunk to remember that, but the Colonel could hold his drink inconveniently well. “It’ not even midnight,” Hannibal said, checking his watch. “We’ll all get a good night’s sleep tonight and be ready for action in the morning.”


Murdock sat down at the table where BA and Hannibal were tucking into their full English breakfasts. Murdock looked at the large platefuls of fried food and quickly averted his gaze. He picked up a piece of toast and spread some jam on it.

“Where’s Face?” Hannibal asked.

“Bed. I tried to make him get up but he just told me to either leave him alone or shoot him. Said he didn’t mind which.” He shrugged. “He’ll be okay after a gallon or two of coffee.” He glared at Hannibal for being so perky and apparently hangover free.

“Shoot him?” Hannibal smiled at that, but it made him remember something he needed to sort out. They had to get hold of some guns. This would not be easy he knew. England wasn’t exactly stuffed with gun shops like the US. It needed working on. He finished his breakfast, gulped down a cup of coffee and stood up.

“Right, meet you out front in a half hour.” He gave a really evil smile. “I think it’s time to sound reveille for my lieutenant.”


Hannibal decided that since it wasn’t far they would walk back to the Stewart’s home. Face especially could do with the fresh air. By the time they arrived most of the green tinge had gone from the lieutenant’s face. Chris was in the front garden, drinking a cup of coffee. He looked tired and greeted them rather wearily.

Hannibal immediately noticed that the small car that had been parked there yesterday was gone.

“Jenny at work?” He asked.

“Um, no.” Chris said, a little awkwardly. “She’s in Cornwall. Well, she’s on her way there. With the kids. We, ah, discussed it last night and we decided they should go and stay with my parents until this is all over. It was that note. It sort of upset us.”

Hannibal nodded. He could see how it would. “That’s probably for the best,” he said. Chris looked relieved, as if he’d been nervous the team might take offence. Hannibal noticed Murdock looked rather disappointed. “Well, no sense in wasting time.” Hannibal clapped his hands together and rubbed them. “Okay, Chris, let’s go take a look at your operation.”

Chapter 4

“Kid in a candy store.” Hannibal muttered, smiling as Murdock bounced around the warehouse like a crazed pinball.

“Look at this! And this! Oh my god, is this real?” He held up a street sign, it looked a little rusty and battered but the words ‘Abbey Road’ were still very clear.

“Yes, it’s waiting to be restored for a collector in Australia.” Chris said.

“So put it down, Murdock.” Face said. He looked around at it all, shaking his head. All along one wall were red telephone boxes, along another red pillar boxes and other mailboxes. There were large straw filled boxes that held street name signs and road signs. One corner held several sets of traffic lights, another a small forest of parking meters. Park benches took up a lot of the remaining floor space.

Murdock popped out of one of the phone boxes. “I love these!”

“They’re the biggest sellers,” Chris said, “And they just announced they’re going to start ripping them out and replacing them with modern ones, so suddenly everyone wants one before they disappear forever.”

“Ripping them out?” Murdock was horrified. “Who? Why?”

“British Telecom. Because they’re bloody vandals, that’s why.” Chris answered, rather bitterly. “Come on through here,” he went on, more cheerfully. “This lot is all for collectors, through here is the stuff that gets hired out to film and TV companies for set dressing. And the vehicles. I don’t sell or hire many vehicles, that’s a specialist field, but now and again one comes my way.” He pressed a button to raise a shutter into another part of the building, ducked underneath and switched on the lights. They revealed more of the same, but also, in the middle of the floor…

“A bus!” Murdock’s delight reached its highest point yet. He leapt onto the boarding platform and swung on the pole.

“A 1961 AEC open topped Routemaster.” Chris said. “When people think of London buses this is what they are thinking of.”

Murdock found the conductor’s cord and pulled it, they heard the bell ring in the driver’s cab. “Fares, please, any more fares,” Murdock called, in a British accent.

Chris grinned. “Everyone does that,” he said. “This one’s not in good enough condition for a collector, but it’s fine for TV and film work.”

“Can I take a look at the engine?” BA asked. He was trying not to display the same childlike enthusiasm as Murdock, but his eyes were sparkling.

As Chris showed BA the engine Face and Hannibal looked around.

“So what do you think, Hannibal?” Face asked. “Why are they after this place?”

“Well, there’s gotta be… what’s that?” He stopped suddenly. They all shut up at the sound of voices. “Chris, anybody working here today?” Hannibal asked quietly.

“No, not on a Sunday. It’s coming from the workshop.” He pointed at a door.

“Okay, you stay here, get outta sight. Guys.” Hannibal tossed aside his cigar and led his men over to the workshop door. There were definitely voices coming from the other side, and they were moving towards the door. At Hannibal’s signal Face and BA took position one side and Hannibal and Murdock on the other.

“… telling ya, there’s nobody ‘ere. We got all day.” A cockney accented voice came through the door as it opened, followed by four men. The one leading them did a double take as he spotted the men waiting for them.

“Bloody hell!” He yelled as the Americans pounced.

The A-Team had the advantage of surprise, and though the men were tough looking characters they simply weren’t ready for the fight they found themselves in. They did well considering, Hannibal admitted, but were soon in a heap on the floor. Their spokesman, a skinny, rat-faced man said. “Who the ‘ell are you?”

“No, you’re the one’s who just broke in so that’s our line.” Hannibal said. “Chris, you seen any of these guys before?”

“That’s one of the ones who came with the briefcase of money.” Chris pointed at one of the men, who looked slightly more respectable than the others, though only in the sense that most of his tattoos were spelled correctly.

“He must be their PR guy.” Face said.

BA was searching the thugs. He found several coshes and knuckle-dusters in their pockets and tossed them at Hannibal’s feet. One of them had also dropped something as the fight started, a long piece of equipment and BA picked it up and examined it, frowning.

“Okay, listen up, fellas.” Hannibal said. “You go home to your boss now and tell him Mr. Stewart is very, very sure that he doesn’t want to sell. If any of you shows up here again they’ll get more of what you just got. Capiche?”

They were a little puzzled at the ‘capiche’ but seemed to get the message. They looked at each other speculatively, and then rat face said, “Sod this for a game of soldiers.” Warily they got to their feet. “We can go?” Rat face asked.

“If you don’t we’ll just kick your asses again.” Hannibal said, pleasantly.

“Alright, but you’re in big trouble, yank. You don’t know how much bleedin’ trouble you’re in.” They ran, back through the workshop and the outer door.

“You’re just letting them go?” Chris was baffled. “Why didn’t we take them to the police?”

“They’re just low ranking muscle,” Hannibal said, “but they won’t squeal either, not to the cops. If we want the top man we have to draw him out.” He took out a fresh cigar. “What you got there, BA?” He asked after Face lit the cigar for him.

“It’s a metal detector,” BA said. “They brought it in with them.”

“Metal detector?” Hannibal said. “Well that confirms it.”

“Confirms what, Hannibal?” Murdock asked.

“My theory.” Hannibal said. He walked back through to the collectibles storage area, stood surveying it, puffing on his cigar. The others followed him.

“And your theory is?” Face prompted.

“That there’s something here. Something you…” he looked at Chris, “…don’t know about. Something hidden. They don’t know where it is, that’s why they brought that.” He nodded at the metal detector. “And it’s inaccessible. That’s why they want to buy the place so they have the time and privacy to get at it once they do find it.” He took out the cigar and blew out a stream of smoke. “There is something here,” he repeated. “And whatever it is it’s worth enough to them that they were prepared to put up the money to buy the place to look for it.”

They all looked around at the big, high space.

“Gonna take a while to search this.” Face said.

“So we’d best get started.” Hannibal said.

“What about our new friends back there?” Murdock asked, “They’ll be back and I suspect they’ll be bringin’ their shootin’ irons.”

“Good point, Captain.” Hannibal said.

“Guns?” Chris looked pale.

“Yes. Actually I was going to ask you about that. We need to get hold of some guns ourselves. Don’t worry.” He said at Chris’s look of alarm. “We don’t shoot anyone with them, we just point them at people in a very… ah… convincing manner.”

“Well, I don’t know anything about guns,” Chris said. “We don’t really have them in this country the way you all do in the states.”

“I know automatic weapons or handguns are probably out of the question, but I was wondering about shotguns…” Hannibal was pleased when Chris immediately smiled.

“Actually, I think maybe I could help you there, or at least I know a man who can.”


“So you’re going to pretend to be from Texas?” Chris asked, somewhat dubiously.

Hannibal smiled. “Sometimes I just like doing these things in character.” Chris drove up the driveway of what could only be described as a stately home. “So this guy collects telephone boxes?” Hannibal asked.

“Yes. He’s one of my best customers.” They got out of the car and went up to the door, rang the bell. The butler who answered it looked like he’d stepped out of one of the movies Chris hired out set dressing to.

“Mr. Stewart to see Lord Harcole.” Chris said.

“Certainly, sir.” They were led into a sitting room and a middle-aged man dressed in tweeds rose to greet them.

“Christopher, how absolutely splendid to see you. How is that lovely family of yours?”

“Very well, thank you, Alan. I hope I haven’t disturbed you, I was just passing and thought I’d drop in the list of my latest acquisitions.” The peer shook Chris’s hand enthusiastically, and then turned to Hannibal.

“And this is another one of my customers, Mr. John Smith from Texas.”

“Texas, my word!” He shook Hannibal’s hand. “I hope you’re enjoying your stay, Mr. Smith.”

“Ah sure am, your lordship, this here’s a beautiful country. Chris tells me you collect those red telephone boxes he sells.”

Lord Harcole needed no more prompting and he was soon showing off a long line of phone boxes that to Hannibal looked identical, but that apparently all had subtle but important differences. After expressing his enthusiasm for about the fifteenth time Hannibal gave Chris a meaningful look.

“I’m sure Mr. Smith would appreciate your other collection too, Alan. Could he take a look?”

“Of course, old boy. Just through here, Mr. Smith.”

The room they went into was oak paneled. Deer heads lined the walls and in glass fronted cabinets around the room were shotguns. Alan opened the largest cabinet. “Of course you Americans appreciate your guns.”

“Yes, sir.” Hannibal said, “Ma daddy always said you could judge a man by the guns he owns and how he keeps them. He’d have liked you, sir.” He spotted a beautiful Winchester and carefully took it down. “He’d have liked you a lot.” He almost lost the accent as his voice hushed. Lord Harcole didn’t seem to notice.

“You have a good eye, Mr. Smith. I think that’s the best one in my collection. I was using it only a few days ago. Superb weapon.” Hannibal looked at him as if surprised. “Oh yes, they’re all in working condition, I use them for shooting parties. Don’t see any sense in them just being museum pieces.”

“That reminds me….” Chris sounded slightly nervous and Hannibal gave him a tiny nod of reassurance. “I was planning a little shooting party of my own, down by the warehouse. The fields outside are just overrun with rabbits.”

“What tremendous fun,” their host said. “Wish I could join you, but I’m off to Monte Carlo this weekend.”

“Oh that’s a shame.” Chris glanced over at Hannibal, and then went on. “I’ll be wanting to hire some guns. I don’t keep any myself of course, with children in the house. Can you recommend anyone for that?” He gave a winning smile.

Fifteen minutes later they were placing six of Lord Harcole’s very expensive shotguns into the back of Chris’s Volvo, each one in its own padded leather bag.

“Alan, you really are too generous.”

“Oh, I insist, old chap. Always good for them to get an airing. As long as they’re back in time for the Twelfth, you know.”

“Of course. We’ll take good care of them.”

After Chris took a few photographs of ‘Mr. John Smith of Texas with a real live English Lord’, they left.

“Nice job, Chris.” Hannibal said, seeing the rather nervous look on his client’s face. “You’re a natural.” He grinned. “Put you in Face’s hands for six months and you’ll be able to scam the Crown Jewels away from the Queen. And don’t look so worried, we’ll get those guns back to his lordship as good as new.”

Chapter 5

“So we converted it into a canon, and used the cabbages as ammunition.”

Face, Murdock and Chris had just got off a bus and were walking towards the Stewart’s home. Hannibal and BA had stayed behind at the warehouse to start the search and to stand guard. They had kept the car.

“A cabbage canon?” Chris was fascinated with Face and Murdock’s tales of the team’s past exploits.

“Then there was that slingshot thing BA made out of a cot.” Face said.

“Yeah, that was good,” Murdock agreed, “though of course you messed up on your end.” He smirked at Face’s predictable reaction.

“Messed up?” Face sounded outraged. “So it’s my fault the cigarette didn’t ignite the gasoline, is it?”

“You didn’t get it lit properly.” Murdock said.

“Oh well excuse me for being a bit nervous while standing in front of a firing squad.”

“Firing squad?” Chris looked alarmed.

“Yeah, they were… hey, isn’t that Jenny’s car?” Murdock said as they approached the house. The small car was parked outside. They hurried on and Chris let them in.

“Jen?” Chris called out.

“In the utility,” Jenny’s voice answered. Face and Murdock followed Chris as he hurried through the kitchen and into the small utility room. Jenny was busily taking clothes out of the dryer.

“Why are you back?” Chris asked, “Where are the kids?”

“The kids are with your mum and dad,” she answered, calmly. “I wanted to come back and help out.”

“Jenny…” Chris glanced at Face and Murdock. “Can we, um, go into the kitchen and talk?” The two of them went out. Murdock pulled himself up to sit on the washing machine. He was grinning.

“I knew she’d be back,” he said.

“You mean you hoped she’d be back.” Face sat on the dryer. Since the only exit from the room was into the kitchen they were effectively trapped in here for now.

“No, I knew.” Murdock argued. “She can be feisty. Remember that time that dumb-ass major called the kids she was looking after ‘gooks’?”

Face grinned too. “Oh yeah. She took lumps outta him.”

They were quiet for a moment. Face glanced sidelong at Murdock, who was watching the closed kitchen door.

“Murdock, just between you and me, no joking around. How serious were you about her?”

Murdock turned to look at him, his face going solemn.

“I haven’t been pining away for her for the last fifteen years, if that’s what you mean,” he said. He paused, looking thoughtful then went on. “Look, she was a nice girl I knew for a few weeks a long time ago. I liked her a lot at the time, I wanted it to go further but she just wanted to be friends. Then she left. End of story.” He gave a small shrug.

“End of story, but here we are all these years later, helping her out.”

“That’s not because of how I felt about her.” Murdock answered. “No, I mean that!” He protested as Face gave him a dubious look. “I just thought, well, she was a volunteer, wasn’t she? She went to a war zone to help kids. And she’s a nurse, her whole life is about helping people.” He turned away from Face’s gaze. “So now it’s her turn to need help she deserves to have some, that’s all.” He shrugged again. “That’s the reason.”

“Sounds fair to me, Murdock,” Face said, sincerely. They sat in silence for a few minutes.

“Ever think about what might have been?” Face asked eventually. “I don’t mean with Jenny, not specifically. Just generally. You know, if our lives had been different, if we’d had a chance for some kind of normality?”

“Yeah,” Murdock said quietly, looking at Face. “Yeah, I think about that.”

Face looked at his watch, said, “Want to check those shotguns?”


“The guns. Since we’re stuck in here, might as well do something useful.” He got down off the machine and opened one of the bags. Murdock followed him and they soon had the guns laid out on a table. There were cleaning kits in the bags and they got to work making sure the guns were ready for use.

After a few minutes the door opened and Jenny came in. “Sorry we left you stuck in here, I didn’t think.” She looked at the shotguns with interest. “Nice.”

“You know shotguns?” Face said surprised.

“My dad kept a few.” She didn’t seem bothered or nervous about the guns; Face supposed she’d seen plenty, scarier ones than these, in Vietnam.

He hefted the one he’d adopted. When Hannibal and Chris had turned up with the shotguns and shown them to the others Face had said, “Can I have the Winchester?” But one look at the way Hannibal had picked it up and hung on to it had given him his answer. “Or no, that Remington, that’s nice, I’ll have that instead.” The gun felt reassuringly heavy in his hands. Face did like a big gun.

Jenny turned to the washing machine and started pulling clothes out of it into a basket.

“Are you sure it’s a good idea for you to be here, Jenny?” Murdock asked. “It probably was best for you to get out of town for a while.”

“I’ll be fine,” she smiled reassuringly. “You know I’ve been in dangerous places before. I know when to keep my head down and follow orders.”

“Never follow mine.” Chris grumbled from the doorway where he had quietly appeared.

“I’m your wife.” She grinned. “I outrank you.”

“She’s got you there.” Face said, with a wry smile.

“Come on, let’s have some dinner,” Jenny said.


“Come on, BA, dinner.” Hannibal called as he came back into the warehouse. BA carefully marked where he was up to in his search and found Hannibal in the small staff break room beside the offices. Hannibal was unwrapping parcels of fish and chips. The smell of hot vinegar wafted from them. They kept with what they were assured was British tradition and ate the food with their hands out of the paper. Since this also meant no washing up they both liked the tradition. They drank big mugs of tea with their meal and afterwards sat for a while in contented silence, Hannibal smoking a cigar.

“That was good.” BA commented eventually. He wondered if there were any authentic fish and chip shops in LA and if not whether he could get someone to open one.

“Find anything interesting while I was out?” Hannibal asked.

“Nah, just more pipes and drain covers under the floor.” He finished off his second mug of tea. “You got any ideas on what we might be looking for?”

“Something metal, or in a metal box.” Hannibal said, with a shrug. He didn’t speculate further.

BA did speculate just a little. “Think it could be a body?”

“I hope not.” Hannibal replied. “Okay, I’m going on patrol. You get on with searching, but keep your walkie-talkie handy.”


Hannibal yawned and stretched. Getting a little old for these all-nighters, Colonel, he thought to himself. The sun was up now; the night had passed without incident, from inside or outside the warehouse.

He was wondering where he could rustle up some breakfast when he heard the sound of a car approaching. Quickly he went to the front of the building and was surprised to see Face, Murdock, Chris and Jenny getting out of her car.

“What…?” He began.

“Don’t start.” Jenny said. “I’m back. I’m staying.” She handed him a Styrofoam box. “Have a bacon sandwich.” She walked past him towards the warehouse. Hannibal looked at the men, who just shrugged. Hannibal shrugged too and ate his breakfast.

“So have you found anything?” Chris asked as they all went inside. BA was getting outside of the bacon sandwich Jenny had handed him.

“Pipes and drain covers mostly.” Hannibal said. “We’re marking them on these floor plans. We used your photocopier.”

“Used it how?” Chris asked, intrigued. “Did you turn it into some kind of weapon that fires reams of paper at the bad guys? Or dazzles them with its flash?”

“Er, no.” Hannibal said. “We made some copies. Of the floor plans.” Face and Murdock were grinning. Hannibal suspected they’d been telling a few very tall tales.

Chris looked quite disappointed. “Oh, right, yeah, that’s fine.”


Hannibal and BA stuck around until lunchtime, continuing searching, then they left to go back to the hotel for some rest, leaving Face and Murdock to continue the search and stand guard overnight.

Around three in the afternoon Murdock decided to have a break. He’d spent the last two hours squeezing through vents and crawlspaces and both his clothes and his temper were now absolutely filthy. He’d found nothing except the occasional dead rodent and a lot of dust. Rather a lot of that dust was now up his nose and in his throat and hair.

Grumbling he headed for the staff break room, desperate for a drink.

“Oh hi, Murdock, kettle’s on.” Face said. He was sitting with the two women from the office, drinking tea.

“Am I the only one doing any work around here?” Murdock snapped, testily. The sight of Face’s immaculately clean clothes irritated him beyond all reason. The two office workers stared at him and he self-consciously tried to rub some of the dirt off his face.

“We’d better get back to work,” one of them said.

“Oh, do you have to?” Face said, sounding disappointed.

“Sorry, Templeton,” the youngest one said, smiling at him shyly. Face rose as they stood.

“Okay, we’ll talk tomorrow, you two are definitely going to show me the nightlife around here before I go home, right?” He turned the Smile on full beam and they both blushed and assured him they couldn’t wait. They hurried off back to the office.

“Having fun?” Murdock growled. Face looked at him surprised. Murdock was standing by the sink drinking a glass of water.

“Just chatting,” Face said. “Nice girls.” He went over to the kettle and made two mugs of instant coffee, handed one to Murdock. “And Hannibal said to question them about any unusual activity they might have seen.”

“Like you doing some work?” Murdock asked. “That would be pretty unusual activity.” He looked at the mug Face had handed him. It was emblazoned with the words ‘You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps.’ “And I suppose you think this is funny?” He asked indicating the mug.

“What?” Face hadn’t even noticed the words. “What’s your problem, Murdock?”

“Problem? You spending all afternoon flirting while I’m doing all the work? What makes you think that would be a problem?”

“Okay, I’m not even going to talk to you while you’re in this mood.” Face picked up the metal detector that was leaning against the wall. “I’ll be working on the south east quarter.” He left.

Murdock sat down with his coffee. He glowered at a newspaper for a while, and then opened it.

“Wow. We don’t get this back home.” He said out loud at the sight of the semi naked young woman on the third page.


After the office workers and the warehouse staff went home Face, Murdock Chris and Jenny continued the search, then about eight o’clock Chris went off to get them some food. They all ate, and then Chris and Jenny went home, leaving Face and Murdock to guard the place overnight.

“I’ll patrol first,” Face said, as it got dark. “Check your walkie-talkie frequency.” They tested the radios. “Okay, we’ll swap over about two.” Murdock was still in a snappy mood and Face didn’t want him to feel he was being made to do all the work while Face stood guard.

“Okay,” Murdock said a little shortly.

Face sighed and went outside with the Remington, his pockets loaded with cartridges. Probably jet lag catching up with Murdock he thought, either that or being around Jenny is unsettling him more than he’ll admit. Possibly his feelings were stronger than he’d admitted back there in the utility room. Though he’d seemed sincere. Face shrugged a little. He started his sweep.


Murdock quite liked using the metal detector. Better than crawling around inside the walls anyway. He guessed the search was going to end up being a process of elimination as he followed a concealed pipe along the floor and marked it on the plans. He glanced at his watch, it was nearly one o’clock. Another hour then he took over patrolling. He’d better have some coffee before that or he’d be sleepwalking. He took a sweet out of his pocket, unwrapped it and popped it in his mouth.

He almost choked on it when he heard the gunshot. A second later Face’s voice came from his walkie-talkie. “Murdock! Get out here! Out back!” Another boom of a shotgun blast. Murdock was running flat out, snagging his shotgun from its position near the door. He loaded the Purdey as he ran out of the doors into the night, headed around the building to the back.

“Face, come in! Face!” No answer. “I’m on my way!” He stopped before rounding the corner to the back and took a quick glance. No sign of anyone, either Face or hostiles. He moved cautiously out of cover, his gun ready.

“Face? Face, can you hear me?” He tried the radio. He got no reply, but he could hear something. He moved closer to the sound.



His own voice echoed back at him at the same instant as he spoke. He bent down and picked up Face’s walkie-talkie from the grass. Two spent shotgun cartridges were lying nearby, along with one unused one. Murdock picked it up. Face had been reloading, but not fast enough.

Murdock spun suddenly at the sound of a car, engine gunning, tyres screeching. He ran back round to the front of the building, in time to see a car disappearing into the darkness. For a second he raised his shotgun, but knew he didn’t dare fire. He ran back into the building, into the office, found the hotel phone number on a scrap of paper in his pocket and dialled. He cursed silently, drumming his fingers on the desk as he waited to be put through to Hannibal and BA’s room.

“Come on…come on… Hannibal? Hannibal, get out here fast, we were hit! Hannibal, they took Face!”

Chapter 6

A blinking light woke Face. He blinked back at it confused. It went off and he tried to get his bearings. He was somewhere dark, cramped and bumpy. The blinking light started again. A turn signal. He was in the trunk of a car. Not his favourite way to travel. He tried to get himself into a more comfortable position. Since he was lying on the spare wheel, with something unidentifiable sticking in his back and his head resting on a wheel arch this wasn’t easy. The headache wasn’t helping. He could feel dried blood down the side of his face. All in all he wasn’t having the best night.

One good thing though, his hands weren’t bound. He felt around for the release to see if he could open the trunk, but it was locked. Giving up on that he got busy with a little sabotage of the turn signal and the brake and reversing lights. The back of the housing was rusted out, allowing the light to leak into the trunk and exposing wires. Face pulled out as many wires as he could find until the lights all stopped working. With luck that might attract the attention of a police car. As he worked he worried. Not about himself, if they wanted him dead he’d already be dead. He worried about Murdock back at the warehouse and prayed they hadn’t hurt him.

After about twenty minutes the car stopped. Face tensed as he heard doors slamming. Three doors. There’d been three guys at the warehouse when they took him. He forced himself to relax and when they opened the trunk he was affecting a dazed look as if he was only just waking up.

“Out,” one ordered Face, gesturing with a handgun. It was the rat-faced man Face remembered from their previous encounter. He had two large friends with him. Face could see enough past them to guess they were in an alleyway.

“Huh? Where am I?”

“Get ‘im out,” Rat-boy told the other two. The thugs hauled Face out of the trunk and he let them drag him stumbling into a building. Rat-boy kept the gun jammed in his back. They went through a dark and silent restaurant kitchen that smelled of old grease, then up some narrow stairs into a dark room thick with cigarette smoke. A television was on in the corner, a blue movie playing silently. Several men sat around in battered leather armchairs, smoking cigarettes and drinking from heavy cut glass tumblers. The look of them and the room made Face think instantly of the phrase ‘den of thieves’. He coughed on the thick atmosphere and resisted the urge to close his eyes as they started to sting. While pretending he was still woozy he took in as much as he could.

A thickset man, nearly six feet tall stood up. He had extremely large hands Face noted, and wore several large gold signet and sovereign rings. His suit was tasteless but expensive. His nose had clearly been broken several times and not reset by trained medical staff on all of those occasions. Boxer? Face wondered, filing that speculation away.

“This is one of ’em?” The big man asked, incredulously “This fairy is one of the boys that gave you lot a kickin’?” He glared accusingly at his men.

“Well you shoulda seen the rest of ’em, Harry,” Rat-boy protested. “Huge bastards they were, weren’t they lads?” The other two nodded in agreement. “Especially the darkie,” Rat-boy continued. “This one’s probably their wheel man, or he does the books or summat.” He smirked.

“Nasty black eye you’ve got there.” Face said to Rat-boy. His knuckles were still a little bruised from inflicting it. The other two thugs sniggered. Rat-boy glared at them then he turned back to ‘Harry’.

“He had this.”

Face groaned inwardly as he saw his shotgun in Rat-boy’s hands.

“Lovely shooter, Harry. I took it off him, can I keep it? I need a clean piece for that job I’ve got next month. Course I’ll have to saw down the barrel.”

Face groaned out loud this time. Hannibal was going to kill him. Harry glanced at him.

“Yeah, okay Jimmy, you hang onto it.”

“Thanks, boss.” Jimmy grinned in a nasty gloating way at Face.

Harry took out his cigarette and walked over to a table, stubbed it out in an ashtray. Then with a surprising turn of speed he grabbed Face by the lapels of his jacket and slammed him back against the wall.

“Okay, yank,” he snarled. “Who the ‘ell are you and what are you lot doing shoving your noses in my business?”

“You know,” Face said, “though I am an American it’s not strictly accurate to call me a ‘Yank’,” Face had been paying attention to the Hannibal Smith method of talking to bad guys.


“Yankees are from particular states, in the north-east. I’m from California…” He shut up when Harry gave him a swift punch in the gut then grabbed him around the throat with one of his meaty hands, forcing his head back.

“Comedian, are ya? Never liked American comedians.”

“What?” Face sounded choked. “Not even Bob Hope?”

“Harry,” Jimmy was slipping on a set of brass knuckles. “Let us take him out back and give him a proper going over. He won’t be making no bloody jokes after that.”

“No, no.” Harry said, seemed to be trying to make an effort to control himself. He let go of Face and stepped back. Face bent over a little, holding his stomach. Definitely a boxer. “Listen, yank, or whatever you call yourself. I’m not looking for no trouble. I’ve just been trying to transact a little legitimate business.”

Face wondered where breaking and entering, threats, intimidation and abduction were found in the Big Book of Legitimate Business Practices, but he kept his wonderings silent.

“I made Stewart a fair offer for the premises and he chooses to bring in a bunch of hired guns to stir up trouble. Now is that reasonable, I ask you?”

“I think you missed out a big chunk of the story there,” Face said. Harry grabbed him again, slammed him back against the wall, pinning him.

“Well now I have to get unreasonable, don’t I?”

Of course he does, thought Face, and as usual it’s me they get unreasonable with.

“Now then…” One of Harry’s big hands was around Face’s throat again. He wasn’t squeezing. Not yet. “We’re going to make a phone call to your boss. And I like to know who I’m talking to, so you’re going to tell me his name and all about him.” Now he was squeezing, just a little, just enough. “Aren’t you?”


Chris paced back and forth in his small office. Hannibal sat on the edge of the desk smoking a cigar, watching his client. Chris scowled at him.

“How can you just sit there smoking?” Chris asked, in an agitated voice.

“Helps me think.” Hannibal said. Jenny came in then with some mugs on a tray.

“Some tea, Colonel?”

“Thanks, Jen.” Hannibal said.

“Oh, great, tea, that’ll solve everything.” Chris said as Jenny put a mug down on the desk for him.

“Don’t worry too much.” Hannibal said. “Look, as charming as Face is I’m pretty sure they didn’t grab him just for the pleasure of his company. They’ll try to use him as leverage, to make you hand the place over.”

“Colonel,” Chris stopped pacing and looked at Hannibal. “They can have the whole damned place and everything in it if it means getting Face back safely.”

Hannibal took out his cigar. “Thanks, Chris, I appreciate the sentiment. But it won’t come to that. Believe me, we’ve been in this situation before, more than once.”

“You almost sound as if you were expecting this to happen.” Jenny said.

“Well, it was a likely move,” Hannibal said. “In a way it’s an opportunity, we should get some useful information.”

Chris shook his head, amazed. “Aren’t you worried about Face at all?”

“Face is tougher than he looks, Chris.” Hannibal said. He grinned. “Not that that would be hard.”

“So what are we going to do?” Jenny asked.

“Wait.” Hannibal said.

“Wait for what?” She asked, frowning.

“The phone call.” Hannibal said,


“Strong and sweet, BA?”

“Huh? Oh, tea, thanks, lil mama.” BA took a mug from Jenny’s tray. He was developing a liking for this stuff.

“Where’s Murdock?” Jenny asked.

“Outside.” BA answered.


“No, just… outside.”

“But it’s raining.”

BA frowned. “Fool ain’t got enough sense in his head to come in outta the rain.”

Jenny took her tray, found one of the umbrellas they’d left near the door when they arrived and went outside.

If Murdock was on sentry duty he wasn’t exactly on high alert. Jenny walked right up to him without producing any reaction.

“I made some tea, Murdock.”

“Oh, thanks.” He took the mug, stood watching raindrops splash into it. Jenny drank her own tea and watched Murdock. The rain pattered onto the peak of his baseball cap and dripped off the edges.

“Colonel Smith doesn’t seem too worried,” she said eventually.

“Hannibal never seems worried.” Murdock said.

“Chris on the other hand is having kittens,” Jenny smiled, trying to lighten his mood. Murdock didn’t respond. He had something in his hand, kept turning it around and around. A small red cylinder, a shotgun cartridge Jenny realised.

There was another long pause. Murdock drank a little of his tea.

“I’m sure he’ll be alright,” Jenny said, hating the silence.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’re right. Murdock said. “You always looked on the bright side,” he added, giving her a smile as weak as his rain diluted tea.

Jenny shrugged. “If you don’t then why bother getting up in the mornings?”

“Why indeed?” Murdock said quietly.

This time Jenny let the silence happen, just waited with him. The rain got heavier and the wet grass soaked through her shoes, but she just waited.

At last in the quiet they heard the distant sound of a telephone


Face had held out just long enough so they weren’t suspicious and not so long that they stopped underestimating him. It was a delicate balancing act that he’d had the opportunity to practice far too many times for his liking.

To be truthful though he was actually pretty scared of Harry. Part of it was instinctive, a primal terror, way down in his gut. The same way he’d be scared of a lion or a bear. And that was down to the strength he’d felt in those massive hands when they were around his throat. But there was something more. It was the eyes. There was a look in them that Face recognised. This man had killed before.

Face sat slumped against the wall, battered and bruised and shaking a little. Harry was dialling the phone. The other men in armchairs went on watching the television. They had shown little interest while only a few feet away Face was being given a beating by Harry, Jimmy and the two big thugs.

Rat-faced Jimmy sat nearby crowing over the Remington. Seeing Face looking at him he pointed the shotgun at Face and said, “Bang!” Then roared with laughter.

“Shut it, Jimmy,” Harry said. His call was connected and barely rang once at the other end before it was answered. “That Stewart, is it? Shut yer face, mate and let me talk to Colonel Smith.”

Chapter 7

“Okay, take this one and lock ‘im up till tomorrow,” Harry told his men after he got off the phone.

“Will we take him down the docks? Hold him there?” Jimmy asked.

“Yeah, that’ll do. Just make sure you hang onto ‘im until we finish this business. C’mon, sunshine.” He reached down and lifted Face to his feet. Face leaned weakly against Harry for a moment. “My boys are gonna look after you for a bit. You be a good lad and they’ll give you some scran and let you get some kip. You give them any trouble and you’ll get more of what you already got tonight, savvy?”

“Sure, sure,” Face said, “no trouble, absolutely, Mr… erm, Harry.” He appeared completely cowed and Harry gave him a disgusted look and pushed him away into the waiting clutches of the two big thugs.

“Get ‘im out of my sight.”

They dragged Face back out of the building and into the alleyway.

“Better tie ‘im up.” Jimmy said, producing a length of rope. He pushed Face against the car and bound his hands behind his back. “Get in,” he snarled pushing Face into the back seat.

It was all Face could do to keep from grinning. First mistake, Jimmy, you should have locked me in the trunk again. One of the big thugs got in beside Face; the other took the driver’s seat and Jimmy the passenger side. The thug beside Face had a handgun trained on him, but as they drove off he started talking to the other two and paid Face little attention. It seemed Face’s ‘I’m no real threat, you don’t have to worry about me’ act had been highly effective. Behind his back he flexed his wrists. The ropes moved.


After Hannibal got off the phone he grinned around at the others watching him.

“I love it.” He said.

“What?” Chris said. “I don’t understand you, Colonel, they have us beat. Once I get the deed for this place from my solicitor and hand it to them it’s all over.”

“It will be a very long time before that happens.” Hannibal said.

“Six o’clock tomorrow, or rather, this evening doesn’t seem that long to me.” Chris said, looking at his watch.

“Are you kidding?” Hannibal said. “It’s almost too much time. We’ll be able to have a long lunch. That stuff about having to get the deed from your lawyer, that was beautiful, bought us all this time.”

“They’ll know we’re going to be ready for them though, Colonel,” Murdock pointed out.

“So we’d better be ready for them, then.” Hannibal said.

BA frowned. Murdock said, “Er, that’s a bit circular, Hannibal.”

“Well we are going to run rings around ’em.”

“What about Face?” Jenny asked.

“Put the kettle on around dawn,” Hannibal said. “If he’s on form he should be back about then.” He frowned. “Which actually might push the timing of everything up a bit, so we’d better get to work.”


Face could feel blood running down his wrists where he’d worked them free of the ropes, but he kept his face impassive despite the pain. No one was paying him much attention. His captors were currently arguing about ‘the gunner’s back four’ whatever the hell that was about. The car was being driven through a grim looking area of warehouses, mostly abandoned. There were few other vehicles on the roads; it was almost four a.m. according to the dashboard clock.

A pair of headlights was moving towards them on the other side of the road. Face tried to gauge the speed of the other vehicle. He would have to time this just right. And he didn’t fancy jumping out of this car while it was still moving. He wondered if they would fall for a simple trick. Well they were pretty simple guys. The other vehicle was close enough now.

“Look out!” Face yelled. The man driving reacted purely on instinct and slammed on the brakes. The car screeched to a halt and Face instantly grabbed for the door handle and threw himself out of the car. Mistake number two, Jimmy, you didn’t even engage the child safety locks. He fell onto the tarmac, scraping his hand badly. He barely noticed that pain because he was a little too pre-occupied with the vehicle bearing down on him. He stumbled to his feet as it too came to a stop in a haze of burning rubber. It was a VW camper van. Not the ideal get-away vehicle, but there was no time to wait for the next one. Jimmy and his crew were piling out of the car now.

Face ran to the van and pulled open the door. He swore silently as he realised he’d miscalculated slightly. He’d meant to go for the passenger door, but had gone for the driver’s side instead. Damn British, he thought driving on the wrong side of the road.

“What the hell…?” The man driving the van began, but Face had no time to start explaining.

“Move!” Face ordered, forcefully. He climbed in, pushing the man out of the driver’s seat into the back of the van. The van had stalled after its abrupt stop and Face turned the ignition keys. The engine came back to life and Face grinned, slammed it into gear. He accelerated forward forcing Jimmy to leap to one side to avoid being run down.

“Yeah, you jump, pal.” Face said out loud. “I’ll be seeing you later.” He added thinking about his borrowed shotgun. No way was Jimmy keeping the Remington.

In the rear view mirror Face saw his erstwhile captors heading for their car. He put his foot down and took a right far too fast, heard the vehicle’s former driver cursing as he was thrown around in the back. Face fought the steering wheel, bringing the van back under control. There was a left turn up ahead, he took that, a little more slowly, before Jimmy and the boys had taken the right. They didn’t follow him around the left turn; he saw their car flash past heading straight on.

He kept on moving, taking as many turns as he could, no idea where he was or where he was going, just wanting to put as much distance between the van and its pursuers as possible. Finally he was so lost among the abandoned warehouses that he figured they’d need St Bernard’s dogs to come dig him out.

Face breathed a little easier, congratulating himself on his brilliant escape.

Then someone hit him with a tire iron.


“Hannibal!” BA called. “C’mere. I think I got something.” Hannibal hurried through to where BA was standing near the north west corner of the warehouse. A load of red pillar boxes had been pulled away to clear the floor.

BA had exposed the concrete under the floor. He had marked out a rough rectangle with chalk. He ran the metal detector over the area and Hannibal nodded as he saw how it picked out the shape BA had marked. Behind Hannibal the others started to arrive, curious.

“Thought it might be another drain cover at first.” BA said. “But it’s something inside the concrete, inside the foundation. And look at this.” He brushed away some of the dust from the surface. “There’s an area where the concrete ain’t exactly the same as the rest, can ya see? The colour ain’t quite the same. I’d say someone dug a hole in the foundation, then poured new concrete in afterwards.”

Hannibal straightened up, grinning. “Well done Sergeant. I think we just found what we’re looking for. Now we have to get at it.” He looked around at the group. “Anybody got a pick axe?”

BA groaned. Knew who was going to get that job.


“Ow!” Face yelled, although the not very hard blow to his shoulder was more an irritation than actually painful. He looked around at the man behind him. He was a tall, but skinny man in his thirties and had long brown hair tied back in a ponytail. “Why the hell did you do that?” Face demanded.

“I’m sorry,” he actually looked genuinely apologetic for a moment, and then seemed to try and summon up some righteous anger. “I mean, I’m sorry, but you are stealing my van and kidnapping me, I think I have a right to defend myself.” He brandished the tire iron unconvincingly in a not very effective attempt to menace Face. “Now pull over, please, or I’ll be forced to hit you again.”

“Gimme that!” Face easily grabbed the tire iron out of his hand. He saw fear in the man’s eyes, so quickly tossed it down into the foot well of the passenger seat. “Look, Mr… what’s your name?”

“Wright. Tom Wright.” His reluctant passenger said.

“Mr Wright…” Face grinned at the sound of the name. “Hey I think I know a few women that are looking for you.” Tom grimaced. “Sorry.” Face went on, “I suppose you’ve heard that gag about a thousand times.”

“This month alone.”

“Sorry. Anyway, Tom, can I call you Tom? My name’s Templeton Peck. And I don’t intend you any harm, I promise. I just needed to borrow your van to get away from some pretty unpleasant people. I’m sorry to mix you up in all this.”

“Did they do that to you?” Tom said, frowning at him, looking at the bruises on his face and his bloody wrists and hands.

“Yeah.” Face saw something on the street he was extremely familiar with now. A red telephone box. He pulled in and turned to Tom, gave him a smile.

“You got any change?”


“That’s great news. And BA’s digging it up now? Fantastic.” Face decided he might not hurry back. Avoiding a turn with the pickaxe suddenly became a high priority.

He reached into his inside pocket and took out Harry’s wallet. He’d lifted it when Harry had dragged him up to his feet. “I’ve found out who we’re dealing with.” He flipped open the wallet. “One Harry Tate,” he read the name on a card inside. He glanced at the notes in there. Looked like about five hundred pounds at least. “Carries plenty of cash. Size of a rhino and about as cuddly.”

“Great, Face.” Hannibal’s voice came through the receiver. “Get back here quick as you can, then you can go and see what you can find out about our friend Mr Tate. Or do you need one of us to come pick you up?” Since Face had no clue where he was that might prove to be a problem.

“Nah, I think I can get a ride.” Face said, looking out of the phone box at the camper van. “Oh, Hannibal, before I go, there’s something else I need to tell you.”


“But before I do I want you to think about a few things, like how you’re so glad I’m alive and not badly hurt. And how pleased you are I managed to escape by myself, bringing useful information with me.”


“Are you thinking about those things?”

“Yeah, okay, I’m thinking about them.”

“Good. Thing is, I kinda lost the Remington.”

“Face!” Face hung up. He left the phone box and went back to the van. Tom was checking a guitar case that was seat belted into the passenger seat. Face noticed a decal in the van window, a round yellow sticker that said “Musicians Union. Keep music live.” Professional musician? Face speculated.

“Hey, Tom, I know it’s kind of a cheek to ask you this, but could you give me a ride?”

“Where to?” Tom asked.


“That’s rather a long way,” Tom said, though he wasn’t saying ‘no’. Not many people said ‘no’ to Face.

“I know.” Face took out Harry’s wallet, extracted a wadge of notes. If there was one thing that was always close to a musician’s heart it was money. “I could give you a little something for your trouble.”

Chapter 8

“Hannibal, something’s coming.”

Hannibal didn’t look up from where he was working on the padlock on the gates. “What is it, Murdock?”

“Well, I’m not certain, but at first glance, I’d say it was the Hound of the Baskervilles.”

Hannibal remembered the “Beware of Dog” sign they’d seen when they climbed into the construction site. “Guard dog?”

“If you don’t get that open in the next five seconds I’m climbing the fence.” Murdock warned him. Hannibal could hear the dog barking now.

“You’re going to climb the fence carrying a pneumatic drill?” Hannibal asked.

“Forget the drill,” Murdock said, his voice getting panicky. “Hannibal!” The gate shuddered as Murdock grabbed the wire and started pulling himself up. Hannibal turned. The dog, a Doberman, was only yards away. Hannibal took a deep breath.

“Lie down!” The authority in Hannibal’s voice was so strong that Murdock almost followed the animal to the ground.

“Murdock,” Hannibal said, staring the dog down. “You have to finish getting the gate open, if I break eye contact it’ll go for me.” Murdock took the lock picks from Hannibal’s hand. “Slowly.” Hannibal said

The prone dog whined a little, put its head down on its front paws. Murdock worked on the lock. The padlock came loose with a loud click that made the dog raise its head and made Murdock flinch. Carefully Murdock got hold of the pneumatic drill they were “borrowing”.

“On three, Colonel.” Murdock said quietly. The gate opened outward, he began to push it slowly. “One.” He edged through, struggling with the drill. “Two.” Murdock was on the other side of the gate. “Back and then left, Hannibal.”



Hannibal threw himself backwards then dodged left. Murdock slammed the gate shut. The dog hit it like a furious, hairy missile

“Jesus!” Murdock was actually shaking a little. He managed to padlock the gates as they both leaned against them.

“What happened to your very special way with dogs, Murdock?” Hannibal asked, grinning, as they loaded the drill into the trunk of Chris’s car.

“I think I prefer yours,” Murdock said. “Anyway mine only works on normal human dogs.”

“Human dogs?”

“You know what I mean. Dogs from Earth, not hellhounds like that. Look at it! It’s trying to chew through the fence! What do they feed it on? Barbed wire?”

Hannibal slammed the trunk closed. “Come on, it’s getting light, let’s get this back and speed things up a bit.


Back at the warehouse Hannibal and Murdock proudly carried their prize across the floor to where BA was pounding the concrete with a pickaxe. Chris and Jenny followed them, looking a little dubious.

“Isn’t this stealing?” Jenny asked.

“Just a temporary loan.” Hannibal said. “We’ll give it back as good as new.” Of course he’d said the same thing about the shotguns, so he didn’t dwell on that. Anyway he was sure they would get the Remington back. Eventually.

“BA, you can take a break now.” Hannibal said. BA, stripped to the waist and sweating, looked very grateful. He took off his safety goggles. “Go get some breakfast.”

BA went off with Chris and Jenny. Hannibal and Murdock turned to the pneumatic drill. They both looked it over for a while, then stood up and looked at each other.

“You have any clue how to operate this?” Hannibal asked.

Murdock shrugged, spread his hands and blew out a “pffft” sound.



As dawn broke Hannibal was standing outside on guard. He tensed a little as a vehicle approached. It was a VW camper van. He gripped his shotgun then relaxed as Face got out of the van. Murdock appeared at Hannibal’s side, a large grin on his face.

“Thanks, Tom, real nice meeting you.” Face was saying to the driver. “Yeah, I’ll call you before I go home, we’ll get together. Good luck with your gig tonight.” He slammed the door and the van turned in the yard and left.

“Morning, Face.” Hannibal said as Face approached them. “Making new friends?”

“I just can’t help myself.” Face said.

Murdock’s smile faltered a little as he took in Face’s cuts and bruising and the blood on his clothes.

“You okay?”

“I’ll live.”

“Oh my god!” Jenny had just come out of the warehouse and seen Face. “Come here, let’s get you sat down. You look as if you should be in a hospital!” She led him away. Face didn’t protest at all, quite liked the idea of being ministered to at the moment.

Murdock went to follow them but Hannibal stopped him. “Captain, get back in there and keep working. I don’t know how long we have, we need to be ready.” Murdock nodded and though he looked disappointed he did as he was told. Hannibal glanced inside. A wall of telephone boxes met his eye. It was funny, however much he studied military strategy sometimes he found it was best to just cut out all the complicated stuff and go right back to basics.

It was a very long time since he’d built a fort.


Hannibal and Chris stood in the break room watching Jenny dressing Face’s wounds.

“How long do you think it’ll be before Tate shows up here?” Hannibal asked Face.

“Well, he’s probably getting a few more guys together. I think he’ll have realised by now that he’s got more of a fight on his hands than he figured. But he seems like the sort of guy who prefers the cover of darkness so I think he’ll wait until this evening to come after us.”

“Okay, once you’re fixed up I want you to go find out what you can about this guy.” Hannibal said. Face sipped a reviving cup of tea and nodded.

“That could take a while though, Hannibal.”

“Actually,” Jenny said, “I might have a way to speed that up. There’s this policeman I know, he’d probably know all about Tate.”

“That prat Keithley?” Chris exclaimed, frowning. Hannibal raised his eyebrows.

“Yes, I know he’s a prat,” Jenny said, “but he’ll do anything for me.”

“That’s what bothers me,” Chris muttered. .

“Sounds good, Jen. Can you go call him now?”

She did and returned a few minutes later.

“I’ve arranged to meet him for a coffee later this morning.”

“Okay, great, but I think one of us should go with you.” Hannibal said.

“Good idea.” Chris agreed.


Face didn’t seem enamoured of the idea.

“Aw, Hannibal, the guys a cop. You want me to go have a friendly chat with a cop?”

“Face, we aren’t wanted in this country.” Hannibal pointed out.

“No, but there’s such a thing as an extradition treaty.”

“Decker probably can’t even spell extradition.” Hannibal patted him reassuringly on the shoulder and Face winced. “You’ll be fine.”

Face grumbled some more, but didn’t raise any further objections. Once he’d got some breakfast inside him he and Jenny set off back to Finchley. Face got cleaned up and changed. He put on a tweed jacket and a pair of spectacles. He decided Dr Dwight Pepper could do with another outing.

Jenny had arranged to meet her policeman friend in a café near Scotland Yard. They arrived early and waited in silence. Face was a little nervous at being so close to the police headquarters and Jenny seemed rather preoccupied with something. Eventually she spoke.

“Face.” She hesitated. He looked at her expectantly. Finally she went on. “Is Murdock okay?”

“Murdock? Sure. I expect he was a little worried when I was grabbed, but I’m sure he’s fine now.”

“That’s not what I meant. I mean, well… you know, he lives in a psychiatric ward.”

“Oh that.” Face said.

“Yes, that.”

“Don’t worry about it, It’s not a big deal,” Face said, reassuringly. She looked highly dubious at that.

“Not a big deal? He’s been there for ten years.”

“It’s a long story. No time for it now, is this your friend?” A slightly paunchy man about their age had come into the café.

“How could you tell?” Jenny asked frowning.

“I have a kind of radar for law enforcement.” Face grinned. “Okay, you remember the details I told you?” She nodded. The man came over to their table. To say he wasn’t overly thrilled to see Jenny wasn’t alone was an understatement.

“Who’s this?” He asked Jenny.

“Hello to you too, Eric,” she said. “This is a friend from America, Dr Dwight Pepper. Dr Pepper, Detective Sergeant Eric Keithley.” The two men shook hands and they all sat down.

“Dr Pepper is writing a book about London criminal gangs,” Jen explained. Face saw Keithley’s expression change to contempt.

“More of that ‘true crimes’ rubbish?” He asked.

“Actually,” Face said, quickly. “It’s more on how the police have combated those gangs and brought them to justice, though their excellent detective work.” The effect was instant. Keithley almost preened.

“Oh well, yeah, that sounds very interesting.”

“I’m currently looking into the subject of a man named Harry Tate. Jennifer thought you might be able to give me some more information on him.”

“The Tates? Yeah I remember that case. I was still in uniform back then.”

“Do you mind if I make some notes?” Face said, bringing out a notepad.

“Okay, but this has to be off the record, you know.” Keithley put several sugars into his tea.

“Of course.”

“Tates? Plural?” Jenny prompted.

“Yeah, you know, brothers,” Keithley said. “Harry and Vernon.” Face looked unhappy at the thought that there were more at home like Harry. “Early seventies they were at it. Fancied themselves as the new Krays, but never had it in them to run a decent firm. Strictly small time blaggers. Bit of minor protection, knocking over post offices and building society branches. Got caught, got sent to jail. End of.” He sipped his tea, shrugged. “You might say where the Krays had a reign of terror the Tates had a reign of being bloody annoying.”

Face was scribbling on his notepad. “Harry is out of jail now, though, isn’t he?”

“Just a few weeks ago I think. Did the full ten for armed robbery.”

Face glanced at Jenny then down at his notepad. Since he was supposed to already know at least some of this stuff he needed her to ask the questions. She saw the word ‘Vernon?’ written on the pad.

“What about Vernon, is he still in jail?” She asked, seeming to hang on Keithley’s every word.

“No, he come out about five years ago. In a box. Got his head bashed in, a fight over fags or something.”

Face raised an eyebrow and Jenny quickly said, “He died in a fight over cigarettes? That’s terrible.” Face looked slightly relieved.

“Good riddance if you ask me.” Keithley said. Face was seemingly pre-occupied with his notes for a moment, so the policeman turned to Jenny. “So that husband of yours got a proper job yet, or is he still selling all that junk?” Face glanced at Jenny to see her expression freeze. Then she put on an fixed smile.

“Still selling the junk.” She said. “Had any holidays this year, Eric?”

Keithley didn’t seem to notice that her voice was lowering the ambient temperature of the room by several degrees. “Yeah, had a week in Marbella, it was…”

“That’s nice.” Jenny’s voice was bright and brittle. “We went to New Zealand for a month last year. The kids loved it. Took the in-laws too. This year we’re going to Egypt. And Chris and I fancy a trip on our own to Rio as well.”

“Er… that sounds really nice.” Keithley said, slightly subdued. Face smiled to himself. Still selling the junk indeed.

“Sergeant,” Face said, trying to bring them back on track. “Were the Tates ever suspected of involvement in anything bigger than the crimes they were eventually convicted of?”

“Well actually.” Keithley leaned forward, his voice lowered, conspiratorially. “There was one thing, an unsolved case of bank robbery. Not the usual stick a gun in the cashier’s face and run with the money from behind the counter job, but breaking into a vault at a main branch. There was no proof the Tate’s were involved, just whispers from informants. If they were it was the biggest job they ever pulled. And if they’d have been done for it they’d have got life.”


Keithley nodded. “A security guard died. He was apparently only hit once, in the head. But it killed him. They reckon he wasn’t hit with a gun or nothing either, just a fist. And of course Harry Tate was a boxer.” Face unconsciously rubbed his bruised stomach and thought about that look in Tate’s eyes.

“Of course,” he said quietly. “How much cash did they get away with?”

“That’s the thing, Dr Pepper. It wasn’t cash…”


BA shut off the drill and took off his ear defenders.

“Hannibal!” he yelled. The Colonel hurried over, followed by Chris and Murdock. They looked into the hole BA had made. About three feet down the drill had broken through the lid of a wooden crate, which had formed a chamber inside the concrete. BA was pulling away pieces of the top of the crate, where the concrete was now broken up.

Hannibal shone a flashlight down into the space to see a metal box, roughly two feet square and a foot deep. There was some rust on it where water had seeped into the space, but it looked intact. There were handles on each side of it.

“Can you lift that out, BA?” Hannibal said. BA bent down and got hold of a handle, the box shifted a little, but then BA let go.

“It’s real heavy,” he said. Hannibal started to grin. He felt as if he had x-ray vision, he felt as if he could see inside the box now.

“Get a block and tackle set up,” he ordered. “And get some tools from the workshop to break into it.” The other men rushed to obey him, all of them excited about their find.

Within a few minutes they were hauling the box up. They swung it over and put it down on the ground and BA got to work with a cutting torch to remove the lock. The lid was also rusted closed, but more work with the torch and then BA pulled it open, flakes of rust falling away from the edges.

The glow that came from the box was almost magical. It struck most of the men dumb, but not Hannibal of course. He took out a fresh cigar and grinned.

“We’ve got your gold, Harry.”

Chapter 9

“So what do you think, Face? Vernon hid the gold and took the secret of where to his grave?”

There was no answer from Face. Hannibal sighed and snapped his fingers in front of the Lieutenant’s eyes. Face jumped a little, shaken out of his rapt contemplation of the gold.


“I said, do you think Vernon Tate buried the gold?”

“Oh yeah, most likely. Vernon must have been the bagman; he buried the stuff while they waited for the heat to cool off. Then the pair of them got locked up for something else. Vernon never told Harry the exact location before he got himself killed…” His voice trailed off as his gaze turned back to the box of gold bars. The reflected light sparkled in his eyes, picked out golden highlights in his hair. In a sighing, wondering tone he said, “Is there any more beautiful phrase in the English language than ‘gold bullion’? There’s gotta be at least two million dollars here at today’s prices.”

“So we call the police now?” Chris asked.

“No, I’m not done yet.” Hannibal said. “We need to tie Harry and the gold together, give the cops the full package. Just depriving Tate of his retirement fund isn’t enough.”

“You’re thinking of that security guard.” Murdock said quietly, his voice serious, remembering the frown that had appeared on Hannibal’s face when he heard about the man who had died in the robbery

“If Tate killed him then he needs to pay for that.” Hannibal said. The others nodded in agreement.

“Okay.” Hannibal said, clapping his hands. “Let’s get back to work.” They all started to move. All except one person. Face was once again entranced by the gold and oblivious to his surroundings. BA, though a man who bowed to no one in his appreciation of the yellow stuff, growled in annoyance, grabbed Face’s jacket and dragged him away. Hannibal followed grinning.


Several tiring, tea-fuelled hours later they were ready. They waited, rehearsing the plan, eating, napping, checking the shotguns, and drinking more tea. Then about nine thirty in the evening, as the light was starting to fade Hannibal’s walkie-talkie crackled and Murdock’s voice came through.

“Here we go, Colonel, enemy approaching. Four cars.”

“Right. Get inside, Captain. Everyone take positions, move out.”

When Harry Tate and nine armed men walked into the warehouse they were faced with a wall of telephone boxes.

“What the hell’s this?” Tate demanded.

“Dunno, Harry. They’ve been moving the stuff about.” Rat-faced Jimmy said. “Looks like a way through there.” He was looking at a gap in the wall. “And that side.” There was another gap to their left. Tate narrowed his eyes.

“Stay where you are.” He ordered sharply. Then he raised his voice. “Smith? I know you’re in here, Smith.”

“Did I say I wasn’t?” Hannibal’s voice came back at them. The guns came up, but there was no target. Hannibal kept out of sight.

“You found it, Smith?” Tate asked.

“We found it.” Hannibal confirmed.

“Listen, this can end right now, no-one has to get hurt. You hand it over and we leave.” His voice went cold. “And if the dip gives me back my wallet I’ll even let him keep his fingers.”

“No deal, Harry. You want the gold you’ll have to come in and get it. And please don’t call my lieutenant a dip, you’ll hurt his feelings.”

“I’ll hurt a lot more than that if you make me come in there after you.”

“Ooh, real scary, Harry.” Hannibal paused for a moment. Tate made no move, he was looking around, eyes narrow, assessing. Hannibal’s voice came again. “I’ve just been advised by my client that you should… what was it, Chris? Ah, thanks, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.'”

Tate and his men could hear sniggering from behind the wall.

“Come on boss, let’s get the bastards. There’s only the four of ’em.” Jimmy said.

“You know I was just thinking.” Hannibal called out again. “This whole thing is Vernon’s fault. If your brother had actually trusted you and told you where he hid the stuff we wouldn’t be going through all this now, would we?”

Tate’s face twisted with fury. “Right, Smith, I gave you your chance.” He signalled his men, split them up, four of them with him to the right and the others led by Jimmy to the left. They moved towards the gaps in the wall of phone boxes.

High above them lying on boards secured to a lighting gantry Chris and Jenny had a view of the whole warehouse floor and the maze like “fort” they had helped the team to build, out of crates and phone boxes and stacked pillar-boxes. Lying on top of the walls were road name signs, identifying each of the “streets” they had created.

“Okay.” Chris said quietly into the walkie-talkie. “You’ve got five on Bond Street, including Tate, and five on The Strand.”

“Acknowledged. Murdock, you in position?” Hannibal’s voice came over the radio.

“As per orders.”

“Block off Bond Street when they turn into Fleet Street.”


Murdock, crouched in a telephone box, invisible in the dim light watched the group of men go by. He gave them long enough then pushed open the heavy door slowly. They were just turning the corner and didn’t see him. He moved silently and from between two pillar boxes he slid out a ‘gate’ of lashed together parking metres. With an effort he heaved it up long enough to kick away the wheeled board it was on and dropped it. It wasn’t a high barrier, but would slow them down nicely if they tried to come back this way.

Over his radio he could hear Hannibal ordering Face to do the same thing on ‘The Strand’. Murdock grinned. This was the most fun game of Monopoly he’d ever played. He sneaked towards the corner to follow Tate’s group.

Face smirked at the backs of the group Jimmy was leading as they moved slowly down ‘Abbey Road’. Rat in a maze, Jimmy. Appropriate for you, he thought. He could see the long barrel of the Remington in Jimmy’s hands, was glad the thug hadn’t got around to sawing it down yet.

“I don’t like this,” Face heard Jimmy saying. “I don’t like it, where are they? And where the ‘ell are we going?”

You’re going right where Hannibal wants you, Face thought. He heard Chris’s voice coming quietly in his walkie-talkie earpiece.

“Tate’s group are on The Mall, approaching the square. The others are on Piccadilly. Once they turn onto Oxford Street if you block them they’ve no choice but to go into the square.”

“Face, BA, that’s yours.”

Face and BA met up as Jimmy’s group turned the corner into ‘Oxford Street.’ They let them get a few yards along it, and then they nodded at each other. Face moved to one side of the “road” and put his foot on a switch. The phone boxes on either side of the corridor began to topple inwards as the rigged floor underneath them partially collapsed.

Jimmy’s team ran forward to avoid the falling boxes, swearing. They started firing back over them down the now blocked ‘Oxford Street’. Face and BA returned fire, firing alternately as the other man reloaded. Jimmy’s men retreated, looking for cover. Somewhere in the distance they could hear Tate’s voice demanding to know what was going on.

“Hannibal, Tate’s moving into the square now, he should be able to see the other group.” Chris reported.

He was right. Tate roared like a bull. “Jimmy!” Jimmy and his group looked behind to see their boss. They retreated further from the men firing on them.

“They’re all in the square!” Jenny’s voice sounded excitedly in Hannibal’s ear. “We’re dropping the gates!” She pushed a button and with a rushing sound “gates” made of welded and lashed together road signs and parking metres dropped fast on ropes from near the roof. Dropping into place they trapped Tate and his men into a roughly square space, made up of banks of crates on three sides and on the fourth, the bus. On the side of the bus was hung a street name sign. ‘Trafalgar Square’.

The men ran to the gates and tried to pull them aside, but as they did a shotgun blast over their heads made them all flinch and reach for their guns. They turned to see Hannibal standing on the open top deck of the bus, the Winchester aimed and ready to fire the second barrel.

“Who wants to be first?” Hannibal asked. Movement from behind made them turn to see Murdock standing on top of one wall of crates. In a moment Face and BA appeared on the others. All of them were pointing shotguns at Tate’s men. None of the men in the square raised their guns.

“All right, gentlemen,” Hannibal said. “You’ll notice that in the middle of the square is a pillar-box. One at a time and nice and slowly I want you to drop your guns into the mail slot. Along with any other little toys you’ve brought along, knives and the like. You first, Harry.” Tate gave him a filthy look and didn’t move. Hannibal, using the same tone he’d used on the guard dog snapped out, “What are you waiting for? A bus? Move it!” Tate reacted instinctively to the command in Hannibal’s voice. He moved to the pillar-box and “posted” his handgun. One by one the other men followed.

“Jimmy.” Face called. “You unload that shotgun and mail the cartridges. Then just leave the gun on the ground.” Jimmy did as he was ordered, dropping the two cartridges into the mail slot. He put the Remington down beside the pillar-box. “Carefully!” Face cautioned. “I’d better not find so much as a scratch on it.” Jimmy looked as cowed as Face had pretended to be the night before.

“BA, Murdock.” Hannibal said. They came down from the crates into the square and began to bind the men’s hands behind their backs and search them for any concealed weapons.

Once they were all bound Hannibal relaxed a little. He leaned against the safety rail of the bus and reloaded the spent barrel of his shotgun.

“You know, Harry, for a minute I thought you weren’t going for it. When you first came in I could see you thinking ‘if he thinks I’m going in there he’s nuts’. But one little crack about how your brother didn’t trust you and all your brains just fly out of the window.”

“You leave Vern out of it!” Tate snarled.

“See, that’s what I’m talking about, emotional reaction. You gotta develop a thicker skin, pal.” He took out a cigar and lit it. “But I’m glad to see it, really. It confirms a theory I’ve been developing.”

Face rolled his eyes with a long-suffering expression and muttered, “Here he goes.” He sat down, his legs dangling over the edge of the crates, still covering the men BA and Murdock were pushing to sit on the ground now,

“You see I’ve been to many places in the world.” Hannibal went on. And in lots of those places there’ve been shortages. Shortages of all kinds of things, beer, ammunition, women, even food or water. But you know what I’ve found? No place anywhere in the world ever has any shortage of idiots.” He grinned. “And you lot just proved to me that England is no exception.” Then, speaking into his radio, he added, “No offence, Chris, Jen.”

“None taken.” Chris’s voice came back. “I’ve noticed the same thing myself. Incidentally Jen just asked if you were planning to leave us up here all night? Because we’re starting to get vertigo.”

“Hang tight we’ll get you down in a…”

He stopped as they all heard the sound of a car outside, speeding away.

“Face, check that!”

Face ran along the tops of crates and then over the wall of phone boxes, down to the ground. He ran outside. A moment later he returned.

“Hannibal, there’s only three cars outside. Murdock said they arrived in four. Someone got away.”

Chapter 10

Hannibal turned to see Tate grinning.

“You left a man outside? Maybe you aren’t as dumb as I thought, Harry.”

“You’ve had it, Smith, he’ll bring back an army.”

“Yeah? And how much of your gold will you have left once they all take their shares?”

Harry looked a little nervous about that, but said defiantly, “Enough and at least I don’t go back to jail.”

“Hannibal, what do we do now?” Face asked. Hannibal looked around. They could call the police of course, or they could go to the local police station with the gold and the prisoners. But that much gold could make men act crazy. He would hate to end up in the middle of a bloodbath. They needed to get the gold somewhere safe. Where was the one place in London even an army of villains would never dare attack?

Hannibal grinned.

“Time to go, everyone.” He came down off the top deck of the bus. Jenny and Chris who had just been lowered down from their perch in the rafters stepped onto the floor, looking nervously at the prisoners.

“Where exactly are we going?” Chris asked as Hannibal appeared on the boarding platform at the back of the bus, pushing away the crates that had blocked it off.

“Scotland Yard of course.” Hannibal said.

“What?” Face said. Murdock grinned in delight.

“Can you think of anywhere the gold will be safer?” Hannibal asked.

“Can you think of anywhere we’ll be in more trouble?” Face shot back. “Hannibal…” He shook his head a little dubiously. “I know you have a flair for drama, but this…”

“We have enough cars I suppose,” BA said, seeing Hannibal was set on the idea.

“Maybe not,” Face said. “The ones left outside had their tires slashed.”

“I wasn’t thinking of using the cars.” Hannibal said. “Don’t want us all split up like that.”

“Then what…?” Face asked, but Murdock was already grinning. “Oh no, you have to be kidding, tell me you’re kidding.” Hannibal pulled the conductor’s cord and sounded the bell.

“All aboard.” He called.


Hannibal stood at the front of the upper deck of the bus, a smile on his face. They had cleared a path to the door. The gold was on the lower deck, along with the guns they’d taken from the prisoners. Tate and his men were tied to the seats on the open upper desk, Face and Murdock covering them. Hannibal stamped twice on the floor over where BA was seated in the driver’s cab. The big engine roared into life and they drove outside

They waited a few moments for Chris to secure the warehouse doors then set out into the night.

“Hannibal, I want it on record that I consider this plan to be officially nuts.”

“Face, have you no sense of the dramatic?”

“I think you got my share.” Face groused.

“You’ve had it, Smith.” Tate apparently agreed with Face, though he was rather happier about it. “You try to make it though to the Yard and half the sorts in London will be down on you before you get anywhere near.”

“They have to find us first.” Hannibal said.

“Yeah, it’s not like we’re conspicuous or anything,” Face muttered.

“We won’t be once we’re in central London,” Hannibal said. “Just like a taxi in New York, Face, you taught me that one.”

“Does that mean you’ll blame me if this doesn’t work?” Face asked.

Hannibal grinned. “Keep these clowns covered,” he said and went down stairs to the lower deck. He went to the front and, blatantly ignoring the “Do not speak to driver while vehicle is in motion” sign, he said, “I need to make a phone call, BA. The line was dead back at the warehouse, they must have cut it. Stop as soon as you see a phone box.” BA nodded.

Hannibal turned back to their clients. They looked nervous. Jenny, deprived of any means of making tea and with no wounds to patch up, was fidgeting.

“Will we make it through, Colonel?” Chris asked.

“We’ll make it,” Hannibal said. “I wouldn’t have brought you two along if I didn’t think so.”

“Phone box, Hannibal.” BA said. He pulled over to the side of the road. Hannibal got out.

On the top deck Murdock was looking over the railing.

“What’s he doing?” Face asked.

“Making a phone call.” Murdock said.

“Better be calling to make funeral arrangements.” Tate said, smirking.

A few minutes later Hannibal came back aboard and the bus moved off again. Face and Murdock looked questioningly at Hannibal, but he just grinned and gave nothing away. They glanced at each other; they didn’t even need to say it anymore. The look from both of them said the same thing.


Hannibal sat down on the seat in front of Tate, turned to look at him.

“I hear you used to box, Harry,” he said, conversationally, lighting a cigar.

“Yeah,” Harry said, looking at him suspiciously.

“Done a little myself, long time back, in the army. You were a heavyweight I suppose? Were you any good?” Hannibal’s casual tone disarmed Tate a little. It seemed as if the colonel was just making small talk to fill in the time.

“Yeah, heavyweight. And I was bloody good. The Bethnal Green Bulldog they called me.”

“So when you hit that security guard he really didn’t stand a chance did he?” Hannibal asked. The effect was instant. Tate’s eyes were suddenly haunted. He put his head down.

“I never meant…” he said very quietly. Hannibal almost felt sorry for him then, imagined him having many long sleepless nights in his prison cell over the last ten years. Then Tate looked up, his face suddenly hard again.

“It was Vern,” he said. “Vern hit ‘im. It weren’t me. It was Vern.”

Hannibal shook his head. “You know Harry for a minute there I almost gave you the benefit of the doubt.”

“It was Vern.” Tate said again.

“Tell it to the judge, pal.”


They picked up their first tail as they drove through Sidcup. Murdock was sure it was one of the cars that had arrived at the warehouse, the one that had escaped.

“We gonna try and lose him?” Face asked.

“In this?” Murdock said. “We’ve got a better chance if we pray that he gets snatched up to heaven by the archangel Gabriel.”

Hannibal checked his watch.

“Should we try and shoot out his tires?” Face called to Hannibal.

Hannibal shook his head. “That will bring too much attention. Besides, it’s not worth it, he’s just one man, and he’ll already have made his phone call. The damage is done.”

“So we’re just going to let him follow us into the ambush?” Face asked. Jimmy was sniggering in a way that made the lieutenant really want to go over there and wipe the smile off his face.

“Speaking of which…” Murdock said. “Here we go…” A car had just come barrelling out of a side street and pulled between them and their tail. Face ran forward, to see two more cars had done the same ahead and were now driving in front of them.

“Don’t shoot,” Hannibal said, calmly. “I just thought I would arrange an escort.” Face stared at him. Hannibal stamped on the floor again and BA brought the bus to a halt. The three new cars stopped too, along with their tail. Murdock saw the man in the trailing car start to get out. Then the doors of the car in front of him opened and three men in combat fatigues and green berets piled out. The driver of the trailing car leapt back into his vehicle and backed up, smoke pouring off his tires. He made a wild U-turn and sped away up the road.

Murdock turned to look at the colonel.

“You did it again, Hannibal.”

“You couldn’t have told us?” Face said.

“I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.” Hannibal said.

In a moment the bus moved off. They heard the pounding of several booted feet on the stairs and twelve uniformed and very large men joined them on the top deck.

“Evening, Colonel,” the one wearing corporal’s stripes said.

“Corporal,” Hannibal said, “glad you could join us, brought a few extra friends with you I see.”

Tate and his men were gawping in shock at the new arrivals.

“Oh, Harry.” Hannibal said, “I’m so rude, I haven’t introduced you. These are some friends we met a few days ago, they’re Royal Marine Commandos. I thought I’d invite them to join us on our little bus trip.”

Tate put his head down on his arms. Jimmy’s smile had been well and truly wiped off.

“Good thing we were still on leave,” the corporal said, “Okay, Colonel, what do you need?”

“Just arrange the lads around the front and back of the bus, nice and conspicuously.” Hannibal said. “There’s a couple of spare shotguns you can use.”

The corporal saluted and turned back to his squad, “You ‘eard the man, what you waiting for? Christmas? Move your arses.” Hannibal grinned hugely. As the corporal walked past Murdock he said, “Wotcha, Murdock, how’s your love life?” The Captain smiled in return, shaking his head ruefully.

“You did it again, Hannibal.” He repeated.


They drove on through the night, the Marines stood around the rail of the bus looking highly conspicuous just as Hannibal wanted. And the plan worked. At various places along their route cars would suddenly appear and try to follow or block them and just as suddenly they would peel off and speed away.

The traffic got heavier as they got closer into central London, even though it was almost midnight. There were, as Hannibal had hoped, plenty more red buses on the road now. As they drove through the East End Hannibal decided to go check on how things were going downstairs, make sure Chris and Jenny were okay.

He descended the stairs and began to walk forward to where Chris and Jenny were talking to BA, giving him directions. Suddenly Hannibal stopped and looked back.

“Er, guys,” he said, “who’s this?” Chris and Jenny looked back to see Hannibal standing beside a very short elderly lady sitting on one of the seats near the back of the bus.

“Oh my goodness,” Jenny said. “She must have got on when we were stopped in traffic.”

“Doesn’t anybody want my fare?” The old lady asked, holding up a handful of coins.

“Look, um… ma’am,” Hannibal said, “you can’t be on this bus.”

“Why not?” She demanded sharply.

“Er…” Hannibal hesitated. “It’s a long story, but we’re not actually in service.”

“Doesn’t say that on the front, young man, it says Brixton. That’s where I’m going.” She settled into her seat clutching her handbag in front of her. Hannibal looked helplessly at Jenny, who came over.

“Try and persuade her to get off,” Hannibal said. Though since the fact that he was carrying a three and a half foot shotgun didn’t seem to be persuading her that she was on the wrong bus he doubted Jenny would be able to do so. Jenny nodded, trying to keep a grin off her face. “How much longer till we get there?”

“Maybe a half hour?” Jenny said, “Depending on traffic.” Hannibal went to guard the open platform at the back against the invasion of either hostiles or more little old ladies trying to get home to Brixton.

After about twenty minutes he brought one of the marines down to take his place and went back up to the top deck. He stood at the front and smiled triumphantly as the bus finally pulled up to the side of the road. A rotating sign told him they had reached their destination. “New Scotland Yard.”

He decided it was time for a cigar.


“Yes, I know it’s nearly 2am, but I want the Commissioner called now!”

Detective Superintendent Jamieson put down the phone and looked at the uniformed Inspector in front of him.

“Where’s the gold now?”

“We’ve put it in a cell, sir. The custody sergeant is processing Tate and his men. They’re all shouting for their lawyers.”

“The bus?”

“In the impound yard sir, you want soco to check it?”

“Of course. I want full forensic checks on it. Where are Mr and Mrs Stewart?”

“They’re in the canteen, sir.”

“The canteen?”

“Yes, sir, along with those Royal Marines. Oh and, super, can you authorise a car to take a Mrs Ivy Pritchard home to Brixton?”

“What? No don’t tell me, just do it. Anything else?”

“Er, those shotguns they had, they’re registered to a Lord Harcole.”

“Good god!”

“Isn’t he a friend of the Commissioner, sir?”

“Yes he is.” He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He was very sure he wasn’t going to be seeing his bed tonight. He put his glasses back on. “Right, I want to speak to those Americans. Do we know who the hell they are yet? I want them fingerprinted.”

“Ah, well, that’s what I was going to tell you…”

Jamieson just knew it was going to be bad news.

“We put them in an interview room, but they’re, well, gone, sir.”

Chapter 11

“It was a date, Face.”

“It was not.”

“He thought it was a date.”

“You’re nuts, Murdock.”

“What are you two arguing about?” Hannibal asked as Face and Murdock joined the colonel and BA for breakfast.

“Face’s date with Tom Wright last night.” Murdock said, buttering some toast and ignoring Face’s glare.

“The guy you ‘kidnapped’?” Hannibal said.

“Yeah, I’d promised him I’d meet him before we went home.” Face poured himself a cup of tea. “I figure you know, you kidnap a guy and steal his van it’s only polite to buy him a drink.”

“Sounds fair.” Hannibal agreed.

“And, boy, was he disappointed when I showed up too,” Murdock said. “I think he wanted Face all to himself.”

“People always look like that when you show up, Murdock, hadn’t you noticed?” Face said. BA giggled his approval of that one. “Look the guy wasn’t hitting on me, okay. He was just… English.”

“Face it, Faceman, you’re just irresistible.” Murdock smirked.

“Well, this is true of course.” Face sipped his tea, gave a sigh. “It’s a heavy burden.”

Hannibal smiled, listening to their banter as he finished his breakfast. It was a rather better breakfast than the ones they’d had in the first hotel they’d stayed in. Now the police were involved Hannibal had decided to move somewhere he described as less conspicuous. By which he meant the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane. He justified it by saying there would be lots of Americans and they would just melt into the crowd. Face had suggested he make a sentence out of the following words, ‘thumbs’, ‘sticking’ ‘sore’ ‘like’ and ‘out’, but Hannibal wasn’t to be persuaded.

After breakfast they checked out, struggled into a taxi with their mountain of luggage and headed out to Finchley. As they arrived at the Stewart’s home a man was just leaving. They kept out of sight until he was gone then rang the bell.

“Was that guy police?” Hannibal asked Chris as they went in, piling up their luggage in the hallway.

“No, he was from the bank, the one whose gold you recovered.” Chris said. “Come on through.” They went into the living room. Jenny and the two children, Jamie and Beth, were staring rather awestruck at a briefcase on the coffee table. The case was filled with neat bundles of bank notes.

“It’s the reward,” Chris said. “One hundred thousand pounds. He thought it was a little strange that I wanted it in cash, but I said I just wanted to see what it looked like.”

“It looks nice.” Jenny said, simply.

“Yes, this is one briefcase full of money I have no problem accepting.” Chris said. He picked it up and closed it, held it out to Hannibal. “And that I have no problem giving to you, Colonel.”

“Chris…” Hannibal said, not taking the case.

“You earned it, all of you.” He glanced at the others, lingering for a moment on the healing cuts and bruises that were still visible on Face. “We discussed this, all of us and we all decided the reward is yours.” Hannibal looked at Jenny and the two children. All three of them nodded. He took the briefcase and looked at it.

“Fifty, fifty,” Hannibal said after a moment. “And that’s not an offer or a negotiation, it’s what’s going to happen.” He put the briefcase back down on the table. “Okay kids, who can count up to fifty thousand?”


Later they had lunch in the garden and afterwards Murdock went to help Jenny wash up.

“Sorry you’re leaving today, Murdock,” she said as they dried up. “I was just getting used to having you around again.”

“I guess we’re doomed to be ships that pass in the night.”

“Well, maybe it won’t be another ten years before I see you again.”

“I hope not,” Murdock said. “Not with the rate my hairline’s receding.” He grinned.

“And the rate my waistline is expanding,” she said. They both laughed, and then just dried the plates and glasses in silence for a while. Eventually Murdock spoke again.

“I’m glad you did good, Jenny. You deserve it. You got yourself a good man. Couple of lovely kids…” A shrieking from outside made them look out of the window. Jamie was chasing his sister around the garden with a worm he’d just found, with a view to inserting it into the back of her dress. She was expressing her objection to this intention in the manner usually employed by a six-year-old girl. Murdock had heard quieter air raid sirens. Chris yelled at them to knock it off. “Like I said, lovely kids,” Murdock repeated, grinning.

“Thanks, Murdock,” Jenny said. She went quiet again, and then asked, seriously, “What about you? Do you have somebody? I know you aren’t married, but is there someone special for you?”

“Yeah, there is.” Murdock said quietly, not looking at her. She waited, but Murdock just turned and gazed out into the garden and didn’t say anything else.

When they finished drying up they made some tea and took it out to the garden where the others were sitting enjoying the sunshine and watching the kids playing.

“Oh, Murdock,” Chris said, “I was just saying to the guys that if any of you wanted to choose a souvenir from the warehouse then you’re very welcome.”

Murdock’s face lit up and he was about to speak when Hannibal said quickly. “Not the bus, Murdock.” Murdock’s face fell.

“The police still have that anyway.” Chris said.

“Yeah,” Face said. “And our fingerprints that they lift from it are eventually going to flag up in the Interpol database and then Decker will be heading over here with his foot in his hand.”

“If he ain’t here already.” BA observed. Face nodded in agreement.

“Don’t worry, by the time Decker gets here we’ll be long gone.” Hannibal promised. He grinned at Chris and Jenny. “You’re going to love Decker, I’m sure he’ll want to chat to you. Give him plenty of tea and my best regards won’t you?”

“We will.” Jenny said.

“Talk us up a bit, tell him about how brave, smart and heroic we are.” Hannibal said. “He just loves to hear that stuff.” He smiled to himself at the thought of how much that would ruin Decker’s digestion.

“You say we’ll be long gone, but in what?” Face asked. “We lost the jet you know. The company that owns it finally tracked it down to Heathrow and sent someone over to fly it back.”

Murdock looked annoyed. “Oh man, I left half a Twix bar in the cockpit, I was looking forward to that.”

“Don’t matter anyway, we ain’t flying.” BA said, emphatically. “I got the money.” He patted the briefcase by his side. “I’m taking it to buy us tickets for a boat trip home. In fact I might go right now.”

“Oh there’s no rush, BA.” Hannibal said, relaxing in his chair. “Finish your tea.” BA picked up his cup, looked at it, then looked at Hannibal’s smirking face.

“Oh no.”

Face caught the teacup as it fell from BA’s nerveless fingers.


BA was quite surprised to find he wasn’t tied up when he awoke. In fact he was lying on a bed in what looked rather like a hotel room. Strangely enough it seemed to be rocking a little, but he blamed that on the way his head was whirling from the effects of the drug. He heard the voices of the rest of the team and wobbling a little BA got off the bed and headed towards the sound. Still only half awake he almost bumped his nose on a set of glass doors that had closed blinds covering them. With an effort he shook off the dizziness, stood up straight and put on his best “you guys are gonna die” frown. Then he threw the doors open.

The rest of the team looked round and cheered in greeting as BA came out of the doors onto the balcony. BA stared around. The room was rocking because they were in the middle of the ocean. Blue sea stretched to the horizon. Hannibal, Face and Murdock were sitting around a table, drinking champagne.

“What the heck?” BA said.

“Well, BA,” Hannibal explained, “We discussed it and decided that since we all enjoy breathing and having all our limbs intact we would go with your boat trip idea after all. So…” he passed BA a brochure listing all the facilities they were about to spend the next two weeks enjoying. “Welcome to the QE2.”


“Aliens, Murdock?”


“You’re claiming that’s where you’ve been for the past three weeks?” Dr Richter said. “That you were abducted by aliens.”

“I don’t know if I’d call it ‘abducted’.” Murdock stretched on the couch, put his hands behind his head. “More like an invite to just hang with them for a while, you know. Little grey guys they were, real friendly, strictly no probing. Well, except between consenting adults.”

“Is that were you got the tan?” Richter asked.

“They had a solarium.”

“Really? And a lounge and an all-you-can-eat buffet?”


“You look very well, Murdock.” Richter told him.

“Why thank you, doc, you’re looking pretty sexy yourself. You been working out?” Murdock grinned.

“I mean you look tanned, rested and you’ve put on a little weight. Almost as if you’d been on a cruise.”

“A cruise?” Murdock laughed heartily. “I swear, doc, sometimes I think you’re crazier than I am.”

“So do you want to tell me about the parking meter, Murdock? The one that has mysteriously appeared in your room? The one with ‘Property of Greater London Council’ stamped on it?”

“Yeah, how about that?” Murdock sounded baffled. “I guess the aliens returned it to the wrong place. It’s really handy for hanging my jacket on.”

“Ah, the aliens of course.”

“Such fun little guys, real party animals. Been monitoring our TV signals for years you know. They worship Lucille Ball as a goddess. Now, I know what you’re thinking,” Murdock held up a hand. “Who doesn’t worship Lucille Ball as a goddess?”

Murdock wasn’t even listening to himself any more. He could spout this stuff all day without apparent conscious effort. Richter had a look of concentration on his face as he listened out for the occasional nugget of sense that Murdock liked to drop in to keep him interested. Murdock made himself more comfortable on the couch.

It was fun to go away, but it was always good to be home.