By San Antonio Rose
Every POW camp had its stock characters and its quirks. This one had the cruel commandant in General Chao, the collaborator in Lt. Angel, and the irreverent American commander in Hannibal Smith. It had the apolitical good guy in Lin Duk Coo. It had an escape plot, like any camp worth its salt. It had underground cells with minimal ventilation, minimal sanitation, and maximum humidity and bugs, and it had sadistic guards and prisoners dying of starvation and disease.
And then, suddenly, it had Loki.
Nobody knew his right name, his real unit, or anything else about him, except that he seemed to be American. He gave General Chao some song and dance that Hannibal saw through right away, then introduced himself as Loki to everyone else. He had an impish smile, an infectious laugh, and a wicked sense of humor, and he seemed to be something of a magician; he’d smuggle all manner of goodies into camp, from medications to hard candy, and pass them down through the tunnels to anyone who needed them. Face was amazed that he could pull stuff like that seemingly out of thin air. Hannibal was amazed that he never got caught.
Loki made one hell of a morale officer, but General Chao was determined to quash Loki’s effectiveness if he could. The kid took beating after beating. Yet nothing seemed to faze him. And finally, Lin brought word one night that Chao had given orders to have Loki killed.
Hannibal swore and started dismantling the door of his cell. “All right, that’s it. We’re making our break tonight. Loki, you think you can run?”
Loki laughed. “Can, sure. But you guys need a diversion. And I have a score to settle in this camp.”
“Don’t try to be a hero, kid.”
“No offense, sir, but that’s why I’m here. I have a mission to complete before I leave. I’ll meet you back in the States. And I’ll see to it that Lin gets out in one piece, too. Speaking of, Lin, you’d better vamoose. The less you know, the better.”
“Ai yi yi,” Lin agreed and hurried away.
Hannibal got himself out first, then Face, who had his own set of lock picks. Soon, every soldier who could still run was out in the tunnel, including Loki. Loki motioned for silence, then scurried ahead out of earshot to take out the guards. Hannibal was almost ready to go after him when he whistled the all clear.
Once they were above ground, Hannibal paused to give Loki a once-over. It was too dark to tell for sure, but the kid almost didn’t look like he’d ever been beaten at all.
“Think you can take it from here, Colonel,” Loki stated. “I’ll buy you a beer when we’re all back on terra libera.”
Hannibal nodded. “What’ll you do about Chao and Angel?”
“Eh. I think I’ll leave ’em for you. You’re... creative.”
Hannibal liked this kid—and Loki matched him devious grin for devious grin. Then Hannibal turned and ordered Face and BA to start leading the others into the jungle. After Murdock passed, half-carrying one of the stragglers, Hannibal turned back to Loki. “I thought you mentioned a diversion?”
Loki’s grin grew as he lifted a hand and snapped his fingers. And suddenly the camp was under attack. He winked at Hannibal, who slugged him on the shoulder, and ran after Lin. Chuckling, Hannibal ran after his men.
As soon as the A-Team was returned to the holding block after the sentencing, Hannibal started casing the cells again for weaknesses. There was no way on God’s green earth he was going to spend the next twenty years in prison; there was no way he was letting any of his men go to prison. Not for a crime they didn’t commit. Not after the POW camp. Murdock was holding onto his sanity by his fingernails as it was; prison would destroy him, to say nothing of what it would do to Face or BA or Hannibal himself.
He had begun to despair when he heard the noises of a visitor being let into the cell block, and he barely managed to keep from reacting when he turned to see that said visitor was a stone-faced Loki, now in a dress uniform with captain’s bars. The kid didn’t look the slightest bit different from the way he’d looked when he’d waltzed into the POW camp—not a limp, no scars, nothing. Hannibal couldn’t figure it, unless Loki had a twin brother.
The tall, lanky guard stopped his guest in the middle of the hall. “Uh, Captain? Which of the prisoners were you wanting to see?”
Loki looked up at him, raised two fingers, and poked the guard’s forehead. The guard collapsed, unconscious. Then Loki snapped his fingers, and the cell doors flew open.
“C’mon, muttonheads, let’s make tracks!” he called.
Hannibal and his men didn’t have to be told twice. They raced out of the cells and followed Loki outside to a car that elicited a cry of joy from BA. Loki tossed him the keys, and the team and their old friend piled into the vehicle and took off before the MPs even realized they were gone.
Once they were on the road, Hannibal turned back to a smiling Loki, who was in the back seat with Face and Murdock. “Do you mind explaining?” he asked, unable to keep the amusement out of his voice.
“I promised you a beer,” Loki replied with a shrug. “Couldn’t very well buy it for you if you were in prison, could I?” And once more he matched Hannibal grin for grin.
“Seriously?” Face asked. “You busted us out to buy us a beer?”
“Aaah. I like you guys. World needs you more out here, doing your own thing, causing your own kind of trouble. You’ll do a hell of a lot more for the cause of justice than Lynch will, that’s for sure.”
At that, he locked eyes with Hannibal, and while Hannibal couldn’t be sure who—or what—Loki really was, he did recognize one thing about Loki. He was a kindred spirit.
Hannibal’s grin widened. “I love it when a plan comes together.”
And everyone, even BA, laughed.