Imagine: The List
Fic posted by members of Vo's Imaginings YahooGroup
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This work, as well as all other rights available under the law, is owned by the author, and may not be reprinted without the author’s express written permission. The Original Characters herein own themselves.  The A-Team is owned by NBC, Universal Studios, and Stephen J. Cannell.  MacGyver is owned by Paramount Pictures and Rich/Winkler Productions. The Star Trek franchise is owned by Gene Roddenberry’s estate and Paramount Pictures. John M. Ford owns the planet and society of Direidi, from his 1987 Trek novel How Much For Just The Planet?, and I make references to it here without permission. All other mentioned books, movies, and television programs belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended. Copyright July 1998.

Many thanks to Starr, Chance, and Rogue for the beta read and for being so patient, all of whom have waited forever for this second installment. Extra thanks to Cayenta for the beta read and for her story suggestions!

Face sighed, relaxing in his seat on the custom-designed B-52 Bomber. All was well and progressing along at speed nicely. Even the Team's stocks were doing well. Their latest 'mission' -- to reclaim some precious jewels from the hands of someone who didn't deserve them -- would bring extra money into the coffers. He stretched out, and closed his eyes to enjoy the rest of this peaceful flight to the small island of St. Thomas.


"Fa-la-lalala, la-la-la-la!" Raucous caroling rang through the passenger compartment. It sounded like Murdock had a full house up there in the cockpit.


He groaned loudly, sliding down the seat as if hoping the volume decreased the nearer he got to the floor. "It just isn't fair!"


The comment did not decrease the noise level in the slightest.


It wasn't like anyone else really noticed. BA was zonked out with a plane cocktail, a Faceman special concoction. Hannibal had said something about the hot tub. Amazing plane this was; he'd have to find out where the MacGillivrays got it.


Meanwhile, back at the front in the cockpit, Murdock was busy putting this lovely plane through her paces. They had not bothered to argue with him about piloting, but had argued with each other over the other positions. Captain Murdock had settled the matter by pointing out that Billy was co-pilot. Screech won Flight Navigator in a high-card draw with a queen.


A four of spades didn't help Howler much in avoiding the last position available. Displeased, she stomped off to perform her duties as quickly as possible.


"Coffee, tea, peanuts?"


Face looked up from the New York Times he was reading, and stared in stunned amazement with his jaw hanging open.


"Shut your mouth, you're drawing flies."


Snapping his mouth shut, he perused the image standing ... well, slouching defiantly in front of him. Layered over Howler's black lace micro-miniskirt was a tiny white frilled apron. She held a sterling silver serving tray in one hand.


"What are you looking at?"


"Demoted to stewardess?"


She tossed back her wild mane of black hair, and sniffed haughtily in his direction. "They call us airplane attendants now." The tray wobbled menacingly.


Face eyed it suspiciously. Howler effected a golden halo above her head and failed to look innocent. He chose to ignore that, and ordered a coffee. By the time he finished the scintillating article on stock market trends, Howler had returned with his coffee atop the tray. "Don't spill that on me."


"Don't tempt me." She rescued the drink from the dangerously wobbling tray, and the transfer was completed without incident.


Face sighed again and took a deep drink of the heavily caffeinated beverage. As the hot liquid burned his tongue, he smiled in spite of the pain. A scream left his mouth as the plane banked sharply to the left without warning, splashing coffee on his new Armani suit. Luckily, the fabric weave cushioned some of the heat.


"This is not fair!" He shouted angrily to Howler, who was busy picking herself up off the deck of the plane. Was the entire trip going to be a long journey into Hell or what? "This just isn't fair."


"No one ever said life was fair, Faceman." She sounded mighty cross herself, probably the traumatic effect of the apron and the coffee's brave demise. "If life were fair, the candy bar you always plan to eat on the way home from the market wouldn't always be hidden at the bottom of the grocery bag." With that pithy pronouncement, Howler MacGillivray flounced out of the room to continue her duties. After all, Hannibal might want bubble bath or something.


The remainder of the flight to the Caribbean Island of St. Thomas was relatively quiet. Murdock had explained over the plane's PA system that he had been forced to correct Billy's swerving chase after a flock of Canadian geese. Only the dire threat of a rolled-up newspaper had worked.


Hannibal had not been seen for nearly the whole trip. There was splashing and snatches of song coming from the bathing area. Rumors of rubber ducks were not discussed.


The coastal city of Cassepetite had all the modern touches of the United States, but with a Spanish accent. That, they knew, would be the difficult bit. Face was ready; he had already prepared a scam. Before shipping out, the con man had commandeered the phone and made a few calls to ease their way. One of those calls had been to a girl he'd dated - married with twins now, more's the pity - some years ago. They'd parted as friends, though, and she had helpfully made a call to their destination. He'd called as Hannibal's agent, too, and made some preparations there. Unfortunately, he didn't like this scam. Unfortunately, Hannibal did. Unfortunately, he didn't see much choice at this point in time.


By the time the plane - named Salida, he had been informed - had taxied to a stop, Faceman had changed into a tropical-weight linen suit, ready for the scam he loved to hate. He knew what their game plan would be as soon as Hannibal had come out, smelling like fresh pine scent, and asked the question. He'd strutted out, seated himself to prepare for landing, turned to Face, clenched a cigar tight between his teeth, chewed, and then said, "So, kid ... ready to make a movie?"


They were doing yet another remake of the worst movie never made.


Bullets and Bikinis.


Face hurried out of the plane as soon as possible with Howler, with all traces of stewardess erased from her person, on his heels to head the local PR Director off at Whateryadoinhere Pass. At least Howler could pass for a director's second gopher, in charge of whatever the director's first gopher didn't want to do.


"Juan, I'm glad to see that Laura got a hold of you. Why, I sure wouldn't want anything to go wrong." Face rolled his eyes dramatically, and gave a short whistle between his teeth. "I sure don't want J.P. riled at me."


The official named Juan didn't know what was going on. "Who is Laura?"


Alarm crossed their faces as Face's and Howler's eyes met. "Laura didn't call you?"


"I received a message, but it was not signed. It ... was a bit ... garbled." He mopped his brow, and wondered why he never knew what was going on.


Face turned to Howler. "I thought you explained things to her."


"I did!" Howler looked the picture of confusion. "She told me that she knew exactly what we needed done and that she would take care of it." She glared at Juan, who mopped his brow again. "I imagine there could have been a miscommunication, but..."


"There was not a miscommunication," Juan explained. His expression indicated that he was wondering why he had taken this job. "You have come to make a film --"


"-- Not just a film," exclaimed Face. "The most fantastic beach movie made with everything the average movie-goer could want."


"Truly a sure-fire hit," added Howler. "Makes Beach Blanket Bingo into a whole new game."


Juan sighed, the very image of a candidate for stress-related anxiety, and handed over a set of keys. "These are for a guest bungalow at the Saint Dympha Hotel -- one of the best in the city."


Now Face sighed in real relief. "You do not know how glad I am to hear you say that." He lowered his voice and leaned in closer to Juan to ensure they wouldn't be overheard. "The last guy to get J.P. upset," he shuddered, "wound up doing documentaries on snails in the Arctic." He shivered again, and Howler shared the feeling. "This is just what I heard, you understand. I mean, my god, snails!"


Whether or not Juan nodded in agreement or sheer confusion will never be known. He might also have been considering the fact that there probably are no snails in the Arctic, but such a factual detail is beside the point.


As well as annoying and overrated.


Which is also beside the point.


At any rate, within fifteen minutes the team of travelers (plus one cat) was safely ensconced inside hired cabs on their way to their bungalow. This group included one cranky producer, the producer's terrified subordinate, the director who busily eyed everything through a camera lens, an unconscious bodyguard, a brunette subordinate's subordinate who was busily buffing her nails, and a red-headed script girl with a mouthful of bubblegum. No one explained the cat's presence. No one bothered to ask.


After sweeping the bungalow for surveillance devices and finding only a lizard sunning itself on the master bedroom balcony, the group wasted little time moving into their rooms. Hannibal claimed the master bedroom as command privilege.


"I ain't sharin' wi' nobody." BA folded his arms across his formidable chest. "I needs space."


"Okay, BA." Hannibal knew there wouldn't be a problem with that. Designed for families and small groups, the bungalow had four bedrooms and a sofabed. "Since the ladies need to room together, that leaves you and Murdock with the last room." He could tell that Face was disgusted by this.


"Great! Faceyguy and I can work on my Great American Novel." Apparently Murdock hadn't quite gotten over the great Shakespeare's writers deal yet. Poor Face. Hannibal smirked, remembering how the con man had suffered during Murdock's Bigfoot phase.


A few minutes later, Murdock's voice brought the colonel back to their present mission. Such as it was. "So what's the plan, Colonel?"


"I'm glad you asked." Hannibal pointed his lit cigar at the pilot. "We all know that Julian LaPierre is a scumsucking lowlife." LaPierre was the owner of the Saint Dympha Hotel and Resort. "He caused so many problems for the mine owner and workers that the prices had to be dropped just so they would sell anything they mined. He planted rumors of a curse to force workers to leave." The colonel walked over to where Face sat ready with a notepad and pen.


"All of this," he said, waving his cigar as he spoke, "allowed LaPierre to buy up the mined diamonds cheap -- legally stealing a fortune in jewels."


Face snorted. "Legal stealing. You have to admire the man for his sense of humor and his taste in jewels."


"But not his methods: intimidation, threats, violence. We need to teach him a lesson." Hannibal smiled. "We need some special things for this plan, namely a caterer's truck, waiter and chef uniforms, and ice."


"Ice?" Howler and Screech glanced at each other.


"Ice," the colonel affirmed. "Now I need us to prepare the study plan for our teaching."


That was why, a few hours later, Murdock and Howler found themselves wandering through the main hotel, acting like they were scouting interior locations for their movie. In reality, they were checking out the locations of exits, cameras, security details, possible gaps in that security, and the higher level access elevators. Hannibal and BA were taking care of the employees-only portion.


An itchy feeling told Murdock that he was not alone. That feeling tapped him on the shoulder and loudly interrupted his mental plotting of his Great American Novel. That feeling was not something he wanted. He wanted a new Captain Bellybuster hat, but he did not want to be followed. Where there was following, there was watching; where there was watching, there was plotting; where there was plotting, there was seriously bad trouble.


He none-too-gently jabbed his black-clad companion in the ribs to get her attention, and jerked his head over to one side. This innocuous gesture spoke to Howler, saying, 'Hey, let's go over there and jump these yahoos before they kill us or something equally unpleasant' only in a somewhat more eloquent fashion. Howler naturally agreed with his feelings, and followed his lead. They scurried around a conveniently out-of-the-way corner and waited.


And waited.


Footsteps came toward them.






Murdock pounced, knocking a tall blond man into the wall. Howler came up face-to-face with the man's companion, and was startled. To say the least.


"Girl, what are you doin' here?"


"What am I doing here?" The blonde girl pointed to her chest in emphasis. "What are you doing here?"


"I take it you two know each other?" Murdock knew somehow that things were going to get even more interesting. The blond man hadn’t said a word yet, but the expression on his face reminded the pilot of Face’s own over the past few days. It must be some common denominator marking anyone who consorted with the MacGillivrays. He wondered if they had a secret handshake, too.


"You could say that." Howler pointed at the other girl. "She's my sister."


"Another one?"


"'Fraid so."


Dread filled Murdock after the introductions were made in hurried whispers. He thought he recognized MacGyver’s name from Vietnam as part of a bomb disposal unit or something, rumored to be a whiz at improvisation, someone right up Hannibal’s alley. The pilot remembered hearing a story from back then, and wondered if it was true…




Murdock looked at her. A bit taller than the other two, Yeller MacGillivray wore her golden blonde hair in ringlet curls that cascaded just past her shoulders. She was dressed almost entirely in white: knee-high suede boots, linen trousers, and a romantically styled poet's shirt with ruffled cuffs and pearl buttons. A silk vest in emerald green accented her beautiful green eyes. Murdock also noted that the antique anhk necklace at her throat appeared to be real gold, and that a harem-style dancer's belt in green and gold was fastened around her waist. It caught his eye with its shimmering.


He shook himself away from that. No way did he want to go there.


"Hey!" Yeller shouted a second time, accompanied with some waving of arms. "Maybe we should get outta the hallway before someone, like, say, in law enforcement comes along and decides we look suspicious?" She stood there like a warrior goddess, hands on her hips and a fierce expression on her face.


Unfortunately, the combination of angelic white ruffles and tumbled golden ringlets made her look a bit less than a warrior goddess and a bit more like an angry puppy. Oh well, the fickle hand of genetics.


"But," Howler pointed out, "we are suspicious."


"All the more reason for us to get out of the hallway."


Murdock couldn't argue with MacGyver's assessment. It was time to head back to the range. Hannibal would know what to do.


As it happened, Hannibal did know exactly what to do. He began by eyeing the latest members -- albeit temporary, thank God -- of the team. He wasn't really sure what to make of either of them. "So," he said, "how is it that the two of you are here at the same time we are?"




"Yeah, all of it bad."


He ignored the jibe. "That's not an answer. Your name, MacGyver, I recognize from the LA papers and from various federal sources. You’re what they call a ‘fixer’, agented by the DXS, for problems foreign and domestic. A government troubleshooter."


Mac sighed, and sat down heavily in the nearest chair. He was clearly less than thrilled by the news. Or maybe it was the company. "Do I want to know about these 'federal sources'?"


"Doubt it."


Howler nudged Face and asked, "Is that the same thing as military intelligence?"




In an atrocious German accent, Murdock suddenly barged in on the conversation. "Ve haff our vays." The imaginary monocle made an appearance.


Ignoring the commotion as best he could, Hannibal turned his attention to their other guest. "And it seems Miss MacGillivray is almost as good in her field --"


"Outstanding," interrupted Howler with a giggle.


"-- As you are, though her profession is just as cloudy --"


"And showing a fifty-percent chance of rain," added Screech.


"-- As yours." Hannibal was determined to finish the conversation. "So you had better tell me what you're doing here --"


"Ve vill make you tell us vhat ve vant to know!"


"-- And now."


MacGyver and Yeller each glanced at the other. He shrugged and ran a hand through his hair, making it stick up in all directions. "We're here attending a convention."


"Excuse me?"


"We're attending an international convention."


"Of whom?"


Mac smiled. "Government agencies, of all kinds dealing with intelligence."


“Assuming they have any.”


Ignoring Murdock’s aside, Hannibal looked thoughtful at that revelation. "NSA, CIA, FBI, DXS..."


MacGyver nodded. "And their best selected field agents are here in this hotel right now."


Everyone in the room -- except MacGyver, Yeller and Hannibal -- moaned in dismay and despair. Murphy had struck again, and he was taking no prisoners. Mac said nothing and met the colonel's eyes, wondering what the colonel would do. The situation made any plan they might have had more difficult, not that it would stop them, if what he’d heard was true. Mac made a mental note to ask Yeller some questions; this had to be why she’d been so hot on attending. Personally, he hated these conferences; he’d rather be stripped naked and handcuffed to a lightning rod at the top of the Empire State Building.


Hannibal Smith smiled.


Seeing this, quite a few of the persons in that room moaned again, an echo of the torments in Hell. Those persons understood the meaning of that shark-like smile.


The one who didn’t spoke up and sealed his fate. “So why are you here?” MacGyver felt pretty certain he wasn’t going to like the answer. Not with Yeller’s little sisters around. They were trouble with a capital T. 


“We’re on vacation.” This time Screech failed to look innocent.


The troubleshooter just looked at her in a way he usually reserved for his pilot friend Jack Dalton. Of course, he could always tell when Jack was lying because his eyebrow twitched. With the MacGillivrays, well, it was something you took on faith. “Of course you are,” he said skeptically, “and I’m just on my way home from a drag queen contest.”


“Did you win?”


He decided to ignore the comment. He had no idea why he’d said that in the first place, there was nothing like giving them an opening. “You’re going to steal LaPierre’s jewels, aren’t you?”


A noncommittal noise from Face was exploded by Hannibal’s next words. “He stole them from the miners who worked so hard for them. Someone who stole the jewels in the first place is not going to call the cops and report their theft.” Hannibal made a motion at Face, who interpreted the gesture, and took the cigar the con man provided. “He has no right to them.” Only the thunderous expression on Yeller’s face - and the fact that she was growling - kept him from lighting the cigar.


“Neither do you,” pointed out MacGyver. “They belong to the miners. If you want me to help or even keep my mouth shut to all those federal agents in there, those jewels will be returned to them as their rightful property.” He knew that an outright threat was not the best tactic to take with Colonel Smith, but he needed to make his position clear. If he was going to engage in criminal behavior, he needed a darn good reason. 


Happily, B.A. agreed with him. “Some a’ those miners probly got kids, Hann’bal. Gotta give ‘em back.”


Face was unhappy and agitated by the thought, but as soon as he opened his mouth, Hannibal interrupted him. “Suppose we go as you want, give the jewels back to the miners. What’s going to stop LaPierre from just taking them back as soon as we leave?”


“Then sell the jewels and provide the miners with the proceeds.”


“After keeping a finders fee for ourselves,” commented Howler. She looked at the troubleshooter and added something that she knew would appeal to him. “You could always donate yours to charity or something. Maybe start a youth hockey league for disadvantaged kids.”


Yeller smiled at the rapt look on her colleague’s face. He obviously liked the idea. “Careful, your halo’s getting tarnished.”


He glowered at her for a moment, then directed his gaze at the other occupants of the room. Faceman looked like he had swallowed something sour. He had: someone else’s conscience. “A finders fee wouldn’t be out of the question. A small finders fee.”


"Then we’re agreed. Face," the colonel changed the subject, "I saw the truck when you drove up with it, but...."


"The uniforms are inside. We can stencil a catering logo on the side ourselves and call it a prop."


"My ice?"


"Ah, for that, I need something special." The con man smoothly got up from a club chair, seized Yeller by the arm, and pulled her toward the door. Howler cheerfully handed over a camera (which Face took), ignored any death glares (which Yeller sent), and watched Face also grab a green feathered boa (which Screech had acquired somewhere).


"Where did you get that?" Murdock supposed she must have found it someplace. Of course, it could have been on the plane.


The redhead shrugged. "Someone was dressed up as Mata Hari in the lobby earlier."


Murdock raised an eyebrow and turned to MacGyver. "A colleague of yours?"


"I don't want to know."


"That's probably for the best."


Meanwhile, Face was busily explaining to Yeller what they were planning to do. "Scamming is a delicate art. Part psychology, part skill, part experience." He sighed dramatically, turning their sedate sedan into the driveway of a large expensive-looking general store. It had been designed to look old and cheap when, in fact, it was neither.


"You don't have to sell me, Face. I know your reputation."


He glanced at her and saw the grin on her face. "Don't believe anything your sisters told you."


The grin got wider.


"Oh, God." The con man shuddered and pulled her to the door. "Let's do it."


As soon as Face entered the building, he got into character. Staying mindful that Cassepetite was one of those large cities where everyone seemed to know one another -- thus knowledge of the movie production was well known -- and that LaPierre probably had most of them cowed or in his pocket, the con man knew just how to play this. He approached the tall man standing at the counter, and enthusiastically shook the man's hand. "Hi, I'm George Carleton Lane, call me G.C." He spoke quickly, using the same name on the paperwork with which they'd set up the scam. "We're with the movie company, and need to pick up some items for our shoot."


"Where is Juan?"


"Juan has the new pages by now, but we need to shoot this right away before H.M. loses his inspiration." Actually, Screech had completed the new pages the night before so that they would correspond to the plan. At least, so Hannibal had said. Whatever, it wasn't like anyone ever told him anything. It wasn't like he was the second-in-command or anything. He elbowed the blonde girl standing next to him. "H.M.'s the best director around, but he's a bit eccentric. He loses his inspiration, and we might lose the whole picture."


The shopkeeper straightened up and smiled. "We couldn't have that."


"Definitely not." The con man's tone left no argument, the desperation in his voice clear to anyone. "This movie falls through and I might as well start packing my bags."


"Who's she?"


Face saw the man's eyes flicker toward Yeller for a moment, and he effected a momentary shock. "You mean you don't recognize her?" He smiled and gestured to the blonde. "This is one of our stars, Miss Lita Harmony, loved of stage and screen."


Yeller preened on cue and tossed her hair in an imitation of a brain-dead bleached-blonde beach beauty with perfect hair and no tan lines. "Charmed," she simpered in a sweet sultry Southern-Belle accent, fluttering eyelashes and the green boa in unison. It was Baywatch meets Gone with the Wind. Any minute Face expected to see what's-her-name as Scarlett O'Hara running along the beach in exaggerated slow motion wearing a bathing suit made out of green curtains. Dragging his mind back to the scam, Face leaned closer and whispered in the shopkeeper's ear, sharing in confidence. "She's one of our lesser known stars, but that won't last long. The big name stars won't be arriving for another week."


"I see." The other man looked intently at the pretty blonde, who was now admiring herself in the shiny glass countertop and striking the occasional pose. "What is it your film requires so urgently?"




"Excuse me?"


"Ice. Lots of it. As much as possible." Face was really getting into his sell now. "See, one of the subplots of the movie involves the possible sale of the town's Spring Fresh Bottled Water plant. In order to prevent the sale, the heroes and heroines introduce a new Tropical flavor from a tropical location."


The shopkeeper looked impressed. "Hence the resulting action."


"Yeah! Isn't it fantastic?" Face shook his head in admiration. "That J.P., honestly, everything he touches turns to gold."


"Really? Hmm. One question -- how do they intend to get the water from the tropics?"


Face made a show of thinking; he'd laid the conversation hoping the mark would ask. "Well, the script says that the heroes and heroines use their fathers' business contacts to set everything up." He arched an inquisitive eyebrow. "Do you have a suggestion?"


"Perhaps they should travel to the tropical area and encourage the local girls to assist them in gathering water." He winked at the con man with a nod toward Yeller. "We are men, we understand. And our women, they are like none other."


"That's not a bad idea. No, sir, not at all." Face pretended to consider it. "I'll tell you what. I'll run it by H.M. and we'll see ... I'm sorry, I never got your name."


The shopkeeper smiled. "Louis LaPierre." They shook hands.


"Ah, our gracious host's brother."


"The same. I will have the ice -- all that I have in stock -- brought to your car right away."


Yeller had rejoined the conversation in time to make it clear that she had heard this last part. "That's ever so kind of you." She fluttered her eyelashes again, outrageously flirting. "Why, in this heat, I just might die."


Face was pretty sure he was going to die from internal hemorrhage as a result of overacting. Forcing himself not to react the way he wanted to, he responded to the shopkeeper with a hearty smile. "I would appreciate it."


The man waited until Yeller had wandered toward the door before getting the con man's attention. "And, my friend?"


Face made an inquisitive yet noncommittal sound. It was a sound he'd perfected over the past twelve years or so.


"Perhaps a private meeting with the lovely star ... to assist her in some of her scenes." His eyes flicked toward where Yeller was standing, and Face knew immediately what sort of scenes he was interested in. Some people were so easy.


"Perhaps a scene could be arranged. After all, there are several rather complicated romantic scenes that she may desire to practice." Face looked over at Yeller, as if thinking out loud. In truth, he was thinking, and it was all bad. The ticker line in his brain was signaling how incredibly dead Yeller was going to make him. "And it's not as if Miss Harmony is seeing anyone." He pretended not to see LaPierre's eyes brighten at that news.


Within ten minutes, the sedan was packed with large coolers, all full of ice. By the time they were on the road, Yeller had calmed down enough to speak. "What do you think you're doing? With that -- that -- that --"


"Pig?" suggested Face.




"Relax," the con man chuckled. "We don't want him wondering what we're doing, so we're just giving him someone else to think about. You."


"Thanks so much."


"You're welcome." Now, if Face had been thinking clearly, he would have left it alone. That would have been the smart thing to do. It would certainly have been in his best interests. But his mouth engaged without a connection to his brain and kept right on going. He tended to get into a great deal of trouble this way. "Just don't forget the royalties that I’m due if he calls."


No one at the house asked why Face was limping when they arrived. Everyone was waiting on them and most were already in costume. Hannibal was putting the finishing touches on his face. Only Mac was dressed normally.


The troubleshooter must have seen the con man's inquisitive look because he replied, "Yeller and I get to be the distraction." Mac felt oddly pleased by the plan; everything would work out right and he didn’t even have to jump out of a plane. Then he frowned. Everything going right meant something was going to go real wrong real soon.


Yeller frowned and dug out a crumpled piece of blank paper from her pocket. She sprinkled a silvery powder on the paper before making a show of examining it. "Just as I thought, we have a farewell dinner tonight, given by LaPierre." The golden-haired sister blew the powder away, and the paper was once again blank. Stuffing it away in a pocket, she met the wondering eyes without a flinch. "What? It's the conference schedule."


"Do you mean to say that we're supposed to just waltz in and do this in a room full of top government operatives?" Howler couldn't believe what she was hearing. She also couldn't believe that Murdock had talked her into the waitress outfit. Hadn't she done this gig already this trip?


"Not a waltz," suggested Murdock. "Maybe a tango."


"Not top government operatives," added MacGyver.


"That's it." Hannibal grinned and delightedly rolled his unlit cigar between his fingers. "Exciting, huh, kid?"


"No." Face was not happy about this at all. He looked down to see the cat walking in figure eights around his ankles. Good, just what he needed to make his life complete: cat hair on his white linen trousers. Well, now would be a good time to change his clothes. He hurried into Hannibal's room where his uniform lay waiting.


In the living room, Hannibal turned to where Screech was adjusting her starched white chef's hat. BA and Murdock also wore chef uniforms, and they would be stationed in the kitchen. "You sent the new papers to LaPierre?"


"Sure did." Screech smiled, tying the hat so it would not flop into her face like a dead badger. "He thinks that we're doing filler scenes for the movie, using the local people and conventioneers as extras to save money. Plus, we can't tell the public about the filming or else they won't act normal."


"Since when are any of us considered normal?"


BA glared at Murdock, who fled for protection into the master bedroom where Face was dressing. He then peeked out from behind the door. "But that's why my cameras are hidden," he continued before sticking his tongue out in the big man's direction.


"Wiggle that at me again, sucka, and I'll tear it outta yer mouth!"


Murdock fled further into the bedroom, BA chased, Yeller went to change her own clothes, and Face exited the bedroom with a sigh. The con man carefully straightened his waiter's outfit. "How I wish this was a white-tie affair."


"Nah." MacGyver had gone to his room -- which he'd hardly seen and for which thankfully someone else was paying -- and retrieved his and Yeller's luggage. He'd been able to smuggle them out using a film prop. He would check them both out later so as not to arouse suspicion, but the two of them would be leaving with the Team immediately afterwards. "These people spend their lives in suits. They want to be casual for something formal." He blinked at the absurdity of his own words.


"God, I understood that!" Face moaned. "I'm doomed!" He watched with dread as the cat leaped down from its perch on the windowsill and headed unerringly in the direction of his trousers like a needle going to north or a chocoholic going to Hershey, Pennsylvania.


Yeller walked out of the girls' bedroom wearing a white flapper-style dress, complete with sparkly silver fringe. A long white feather plumed over her head, set in a silver barrette. White spike heels completed her outfit.


"I thought it was a casual party?" Hannibal mused.


"This is casual for her." Howler calmly brushed out her long raven hair, and jammed a frilly little white cap on her head. "This is why all the good guys go for her."


Murdock had returned, BA in tow, early enough to hear the comment. "I'm sure it's your imagination." He grinned at the brunette and escorted her towards the door. "After all, I hear you exercise it quite frequently." The pilot sneaked a sly look at her. "Or so Face says, anyway."




Ignoring the glare sent towards his second-in-command, Hannibal gently put the still unlit cigar inside his pocket, where it would be safe, and mentally declared himself ready to go. His people were ready to go. "Lights, camera, action!"


The group headed out to the white caterers' van that BA -- with Murdock and Hannibal's help -- had modified earlier in the day. Mac and Yeller had departed a few minutes ago and would be lingering in the lobby for their first cue. The troubleshooter had also mumbled something about checking out. Luckily, the ride didn't take long. It was cramped in there between their bodies, their luggage, their props, and Wordsworth, who was less than pleased about having been shoved into his cat carrier.


After parking the car in the perfect spot, the group made the walk toward the glass double doors of the front entrance. They entered the luxurious lobby and, just as planned, Yeller started an argument with Mac about some event panel on the con schedule that they had missed. Something about undercover work, wordcraft, and Bond girls.


'Love 'em or leave 'em' was the name of the panel. How it involved weapons Murdock didn't want to know.


He was certain he was missing something, some sort of private joke. He wouldn't ultimately get the chance to puzzle it out, though.


The floor shook while the group was trying to saunter over and blend in with the crew bustling in and out of the servants' entrance (which was off to the right). Ping! Ping! Ping! Glass after glass fell off the walls and shattered on the paved stone floor. People in the lobby fled for cover, and their group scattered. Murdock wound up hiding with Hannibal near the Reservations Desk. A red light flashed dramatically, like a scene on a science-fiction spaceship, and the pilot could hear a man’s disembodied voice speaking. 


"No!" He heard Howler yell in frustration and pound the silk-wallpapered wall from under a console table. "This isn't in the script!"


The room tipped sharply in the other direction in obstinate answer, sending a shower of still more glass and plaster dust down onto the floor. A table flipped over, knocking Face into BA, and both of them crashing into Mac. They all wound up in a heap.


The ornate glass chandelier swung dangerously.


"Arch!" shouted Screech.


Murdock watched in awe as a silvery arch with futuristic buttons upon it appeared out of thin air in the center of the room. No one else seemed to be seeing anything strange, and everyone was babbling about an earthquake. The MacGillivray sisters carefully extricated themselves from the mess and ran over to it. Except them, he amended.


Howler pushed button after button in an arcane sequence. "Computer, save program A-Team to chip," she ordered. "Hold copy in drive storage D-34789-133 for the next seventy-two hours, then delete."


"Understood. Password required for storage in D-34789-133." The female synthesized voice startled Murdock; it was like something out of a sci-fi B movie. "The answer to life, the universe, and everything?"


All three sisters smiled gleefully at each other. "Forty-two," the brunette answered.


"Correct. Complying."


A moment later, a small something about the size of a poker chip, dropped into her hand and Murdock had to wonder what it meant when she put the something in her pocket. Not that it mattered. Of course he was probably hallucinating all this anyway, like the time that he was certain those weird metal people with red eyes bouncing back and forth like Ping-Pong balls were attacking the planet and only an ugly metal dog could protect the world. Face still shuddered every time the topic was mentioned.


Something slid up from the arch-thing, and beyond it, Murdock could see more metallish structure and ugly gray carpeting, the curving of a hallway bathed in the same pulsing red light. A door? They were inside something? How was that possible? The sisters rushed through, and the arch vanished. It was a doorway ... to out there? He had enough time to nudge Hannibal and say, "Did you see that, Colonel?" before the world went black.


The sisters rushed out into the ugly gray corridor and their Starfleet uniforms automatically re-asserted themselves. Howler wore a gold and black jumpsuit while Screech was similarly clothed in blue and black. They had to run to their emergency duty stations, sending Howler to engineering and Screech to sickbay, grumbling about no one ever telling them anything, could have died while in the holodeck and never known, doesn't anybody on this ship have any manners.


While sickbay might not be the place Screech would be expected to be found during an emergency, what with her being a cultural linguist and all, but the truth is that she had studied medicine for a short while before switching fields after her first year. There was an unfortunate incident with the Tellerite Ambassador's wife, a cadaver, an apple, and something about squealing like a stuck pig. It should be noted that only the intervention of the Vulcans prevented what some cynic critics at the time called a 'kiddy rodeo.'


But we're not here, dear reader, to educate you on Federation history. In fact, there's no real reason why anyone would read this drivel unless you're bored. There must be some homework or housework or anything else you could be doing...


At any rate, Yeller had been left alone in an ugly gray corridor while her sisters rushed off to their duties. "I can't believe we're under attack. Don't those people realize I'm on vacation?" Yeller fumed. Her own clothing had changed to a blue and black jumpsuit similar to her younger sister's. However, as a clinical psychologist, she didn't really have a battle station on the Enterprise, after all, her current posting was at Argelius.


She hated it. Argelius was boring. No crime, very peaceful, all that rot, except for some incident with the ship's engineer and a wolf back when Kirk was Captain, but it was dull. Watching earthworms mate would be more exciting. She'd previously been at Deep Space Nine, and, before that, at Vulcan. Her posting changed every few years, and she liked it that way.


But it was a stupid idea to go to the Bridge. The ship's counselor could get away with that because she was part-Betazoid and wore low-cut form-fitting outfits found in the Shameless Whore catalog, a favorite of Starfleet and civilians alike. Why, back when Kirk was Captain, the business had run a Babe of the Mission drawing with a mystery prize.


At any rate, it didn't matter because Yeller wasn't telepathic. Thank God. She so did not want to know what her sisters were thinking.


"So. What to do when your ship is under attack and you have no emergency station." Yeller strode to the turbolift, stepping in with a happy thought and a decisive nod. She knew just what to do. Only choice, really.




She needed a drink.


By the time she stormed into the ship's bar/restaurant/gathering place, Yeller still hadn't figured out what kind of drink to have. It was too early to have anything alcoholic -- even to smudge the truth a bit and call it a pre-dinner drink. Too late for lunch. Teatime didn't generally involve alcohol unless it was champagne, and she wasn't going to touch those ever again. Not after what happened last time. She still couldn't look him in the face. None of this thinking was helping her mood. Luckily, the bartender only raised an eyebrow from underneath her fashionably unique asymmetrical hat. Luckily, because if anyone said anything other than 'how may I help you' she would scream.


"Stupid attackers," muttered Yeller, throwing herself into a chair by the forward wall, looking out into blackness. All the action must be taking place elsewhere, but it didn't even look like they were moving any longer. It didn't matter. She didn’t care.


"You look like you could use some ice cream." Yeller looked up from her sulk, and the smiling lady bartender stood next to her table. "It's a crowd favorite," she warned. "Bridge crew come in here after most shifts and eat just like little kids."


Yeller felt her resolve, such as it was, crumble.


Seemingly sensing this, the bartender looked hugely pleased and continued speaking. "It's vanilla ice cream, three scoops, with nuts, bananas, and lots of hot fudge. I can even put some chocolate shavings on top for you."


"Don't forget the cherry."


"I never do. That's the best part."


"Do you have any hard lemonade?"


The rest of the evening passed in a haze.


The following morning, Yeller MacGillivray bounced out of her guest suite only to find her sisters scowling at her. "What?"


"You had chocolate last night," accused Howler, "and you didn't even save us any."


"Because," hissed Screech, "she ate it all."


"You were busy."


"Since when has that stopped us?"


"Chocolate before work, I always say."


"Anything before work, you mean."


"That applies to all of us."


"Always has."


"Who attacked us anyway?"


"Don't change the subject!"


"Long story."


"Shorten it."


"A tourist was trying to impress his girlfriend."


Yeller didn't believe it. "By attacking a Galaxy-class starship?"


"I never said he was a smart tourist."


By now, the trio had reached the holodeck and looked at it with the sort of hunger that would concern a typical psychologist. Yeller, though, knew that this kind of obsessive behavior was typical for them; they'd been raised on it. The entire social structure of their home planet was based on it.


Howler held the chip up in a Klingon posture of victory. "Are we ready to kick some slimeball butt?"




Howler grinned and directed her next comments to the holodeck system. "Computer," she said, sliding the chip into the open deck, "select saved program A-Team from drive storage."


"Program selected."


"Move to 8773 Mark 2 and hold."




"Begin play after we enter the game."


"Confirmed." The holodeck computer whirred and clicked reassuringly for a moment. "Program set. Enter when ready." The blonde sister entered first, and the other two followed two beats later; this timing would set them up correctly for continuing play.


After parking the car in the perfect spot, the group made the walk toward the glass double doors of the front entrance. They entered the luxurious lobby and, just as planned, Yeller started an argument with Mac about some event panel on the con schedule that they had missed. Something about undercover work, wordcraft, and Bond girls.


'Love 'em or leave 'em' was the name of the panel. How it involved weapons Murdock didn't want to know.


He was certain he was missing something, some sort of private joke.


The group of wait-staff and chefs sauntered across the lobby and blended in with the crew bustling in and out of the servants' entrance (marked nicely with an unobtrusive 'authorized personnel only' and located off to the right). Murdock frowned, looking up at a spectacular crystal chandelier, but he wasn't certain why. They slipped into the kitchen and divided up into their groups. The first order of business was the pretend: to act like you belong there, to perform the tasks that you're expected to perform. And, hopefully, do all this without really doing any actual work.


They managed until the convention guests began arriving for the farewell dinner. During the dinner service, Face made his move by pretending to stumble, spilling a tray full of a variety of drinks and of plates full of food. The con man wasn't too upset; it wasn't as if the entree choices were exciting. Chicken croquettes with white rice and cream gravy, or beer-battered haddock with fries and bright cole slaw in colors not found in nature. Creamed corn was the vegetable of choice. He shuddered. It must be more of that casual thing. At any rate, the tray, the food, and the drinks tumbled down and splattered into a grisly mess all over Mac, Yeller, the table, and the floor.


Face's clothing, on the other hand, remained utterly spotless. Naturally. No speck would dare taint those designer duds. Even if it was a waiter’s uniform, it was an expensive hand-sewn silk-lined waiter’s uniform.


There was a moment of silence before chaos erupted in a flow to rival any volcano's temper. Yeller began screaming about her dress, slapping at any hand trying to help, and generally making a nuisance of herself. The author would like to point out that normally she would provide various details and actual quotes, but cannot in this particular case; this is, after all, a PG adventure. Ever the peacemaker, MacGyver tried to calm his friend as well as prevent her from killing anyone. Face did his best to act like an embarrassed waiter, desperately trying to placate the guests, clean up the mess, and keep his job. Everyone else at the table sat there and watched the show.


Right along with everyone else in the room.


While everyone was busy watching the enfolding scene, including the kitchen staff, BA helped the red-haired thief into the dumbwaiter. "Be careful." Very convenient, that it was sized to hold a single small person. Barely. If that person held their breath. Screech smiled at him, said nothing -- for once -- and gave him the thumbs-up sign. He closed the door, and sent the machine on its way. Earlier in the day, he and Hannibal had disabled its bell, preventing the dumbwaiter from signaling when it had reached its penthouse destination. Now, the big man just had to wait until the next phase of the plan.


That phase was currently grumbling her way toward the penthouse suite. "Not fair. Why does she get to have all the fun? I like to steal things, too." With a sigh, Howler rang the bell to the suite and mentally prepared herself for Utter Humiliation. And with a room service cart, no less. Oh, the humanity.


"Who's there?"


"Room service."


When the door opened, the very rich very French owner of this resort hotel for the very rich asked her inside with a smile. "So, did the kitchen get my order correct?"


She gave him a haughty look before issuing an affronted reply. "I don't know, Sir." She waved to the covered dishes on the cart. "I didn't want to look at them -- they're covered to keep them warm, you see. If I failed to provide proper service, why, I could lose my job."


LaPierre had the grace to look contrite. His expression implied that he could feel the air temperature lowering with every word. "I'm sorry."


"You should be."


He chuckled, and she could see the charm that had allowed LaPierre to become the lying, cheating, and murdering slimeball he was. Howler hoped that she would not suffer the dreadful cliche of falling for the bad guy; the brunette knew from experience what a mistake that was. Not even the best bribe would convince her to run that program again.


"Say," he commented, with a glimmer of recognition in his eyes, "aren't you the producer's assistant for that movie?" She saw his eyes traveling over her body, skimming the hem of her short black uniform skirt and down the long tan legs to black high heels.


Um, her brain helpfully suggested.


Getting no help from her brain, Howler plunged on where angels fear to tread and where devils sell door-to-door retail. "Yes, Mister LaPierre, I'm the junior assistant to the producer." She smiled, and mentally kicked her brain, wondering who had dozed off at the switch up there. "J.P. wants us to play some of the more important minor roles in the film, so he'll be able to say what a well-rounded team he has."


"And he'll save some money by not hiring as many actors, I presume?" The man had a knowing glint in his eyes.


"Well, yes." Howler plastered another smile on her face. "J.P. is an excellent producer, very creative, very inspirational, but, er," here she paused, allowing a blush to climb up her fair cheeks.


(Not those cheeks, you pervert.)


LaPierre laughed.


"He's a bit ... eccentric," she finished carefully, rolling her eyes so far back in her head that she was surprised that her brain didn't call the mental police and report a peeping tom. "But most people in this business are."


"I see." With a he resort owner tapped her nametag, which hung at an odd angle, and raised an eyebrow at it. "Is Athena your real name?"


"No." Her brain still lacking any helpful suggestions, Howler went with the name on the original documents they'd used for access to the island. They were all doing that. It made things simpler.


Or, it was supposed to, anyway.


"My real name is Morgan Green." She watched in shock as he bowed to her in a mannerly way. Why was it that all the good-looking men were gay, married, or evil? Hopefully, Screech had been successful so she could get away from this guy. "Well, I should go or I'll be in trouble."


He chuckled. "So I heard. Snails in the Arctic, eh?"


She nodded solemnly. "Or worse. I heard a rumor about a documentary to find Jimmy Hoffa's remains buried in London's Trafalgar Square. G.C. doesn't know about it, though. I'm afraid his arteries might explode at the thought of such an assignment."


"Well, don't let me keep you." He brushed the edge of her shirt pocket with one hand, uncomfortably close to her breasts, and Howler willed herself not to react. Certainly not the way she wanted to.


After transferring the dishes to a side table, she left the suite with the cart and took the elevator downwards. The plan was to go down a few floors and then take the stairs, just in case. She picked a business card out of her shirt pocket. While the front was a standard businessman's information, the back had an identifying number, a private phone line, and a lewd suggestion involving her long raven mane. Howler shuddered at the thought. "Hope Screech got done." She wanted a bath.


Screech had used the time wisely.


Well, maybe 'wisely' was an exaggeration. On the other hand, 'foolishly' was incorrect. The best word was more of a phrase: as well as can be expected while being quiet and professional.


This last was not a word generally associated with the MacGillivray sisters ... unless some form of jewel theft was involved. Which would then make it the perfect word to use.


At the same time her sister was busily keeping the bad guy's interest - and Screech knew Howler was loving that ... as everybody knew what a thing her younger sister had for bad boys -- Screech was doing her assigned task. After climbing out of the dumbwaiter, the flame-haired sister crept across a room so deeply carpeted that she feared it might swallow her right up to her knees. They knew that LaPierre hid the diamonds in a safe behind the bar mirror.


She didn't want to know how Hannibal had gotten that information. It probably involved strong-arming. And strong-legging. And, well, strong-everything. There were some things that should be kept a secret.


It was bizarre that moving one bottle of an incredibly obscure alcohol, an ugly poisonous green color, with an old label. Screech couldn't believe it; where in the name of Chaplin had LaPierre gotten a bottle of absinthe? She was tempted to steal it, like a trophy, but sadly dismissed the idea. He would be certain to notice his trigger bottle missing.


Working quickly with the occasional glance toward where Howler was stalling for all she was worth, Screech removed the bottle, shifted the mirror, and cracked the safe. It was simple. It was so simple that the process was not even worth detailing here. LaPierre had no shame. He was so flirting with Howler. This would be terrific blackmail material. The man was so certain that no one would dare something like this in his own hotel. This would be fun.


Liberating several million dollars worth of high-grade unmounted diamonds would be fun. She poured them by the black-velveted plankload into a water-filled pail, and pocketed several other unmounted jewels: sapphires, rubies, amethysts, and emeralds. She hid them in a way that shouldn't be discussed for reasons of security.


You understand, right?


Good. I'm glad.


Can we continue?




After cleaning out the safe -- not literally, duh -- Screech hurried back to the dumbwaiter with her loot. She even took an ugly necklace with a big green stone. Some kind of quartz, maybe. Whatever. She left everything as it had been before she arrived, except for the jewels, of course. The next phase was complete, and she made her getaway the same way she arrived.


Meanwhile to the second power, Face was continuing his role as a harried waiter trying to deal with an angry guest. Yeller just wailed on, with a seemingly inexhaustible list of topics. So far, they'd covered Yeller's abused dress, Yeller's abused shoes, Yeller's abused self, Mac's abused clothes, Face's lack of intelligence, Face's lack of training, and Face's lack of competence.


No one mentioned Face's abused patience, Face's abused ears, or Face's lack of sanity for having gone along with this plan in the first place.


He made the mistake of following along physically with his mental headshake at his own folly. Seeing this, Yeller's shrieks hit new decibels at levels previously heard only by dogs and bats and made by German opera singers with long blonde braids. Even Mac winced.


Face hoped it would all be over soon. Why had he ever made that call in the first place? Decker was preferable to this. After all, a clever person could escape from prison.


Screech was just happy to be escaping from the dumbwaiter with all her ill-gotten gains. It nearly inspired her to try a pirate laugh, and then, well, why not? "Arrr arrr arrr." BA, waiting for her, gave her a look he usually reserved for Murdock, which pleased her greatly. Happily back in the kitchen, the two of them began surreptitiously feeding the jewels and water into a large rolling ice bin.


The diamonds, anyway.


She left the other jewels and the necklace hidden. Murdock had been keeping the other kitchen staff busy, under the pretense that he was a famous Canadian chef. When the sous-chef protested that he'd never heard of him, Murdock replied so indignantly that it was almost believable. "That's because you're an American. Keep forgetting we share a continent, eh? Keep thinking all we do is drink beer and play hockey, eh?"


The sous-chef stammered out something-or-other, but the pilot cut him off with a complaint about American beer. None of it mattered since the whole of the kitchen staff was busy being entertained by Mac, Yeller, and Face in the dining room. Her sister didn't get to complain very often, and it looked like she was taking advantage.


Poor Face.


She could hear her big sister from here.


Screech calmly eased the large ice cooler into the dining room. BA and Murdock would leave in a huff, after the captain had finished humiliating the sous-chef. They would have the van running and ready. The sous-chef was definitely getting the better end of the deal. Even if he did look like someone had hit him on the head with a very large brick.


Right now, Hannibal was considering hitting Face with a very large brick. He certainly looked like he needed it. The colonel stood in a ready position, waiting and watching, preparing his tray, just in case, and, hey, the fact that there was a bar close by was all a plus, right? Everybody should be thankful for small favors.


Some of us more than others.


Speaking of small favors, the colonel could see the redhead trying and failing to sashay inconspicuously towards him with the wheeled ice chest. What was wrong with these kids? Haven't they ever heard of blending into the background? And they were considered premier jewel thieves? They couldn't be more conspicuous if they took out a page in Variety. Hannibal chewed on that thought for a moment. No wonder they got on so well with Face; they all practiced the same method -- obscurity by way of flaunting the obvious.


"Hey, you, there," one of the headwaiters hissed, rushing over to Screech in an urgently unhurried manner found in the best and most exclusively expensive restaurant. "Take the ice to the bar."


"That's what I was doing," he heard her say.


The waiter sniffed and sharply motioned her to continue. "Well, what are you standing around chattering for? That'll come out of your pay."


You have no idea, Hannibal thought.


Checking his tray and holding it high, Hannibal put on his best inscrutable waiter look and headed at an off-angle that would cause him to intersect with Screech and the loot. Hell, these drinks needed ice anyway. He allowed himself to look distracted and aloof when in reality he was paying attention to everything and everyone around him. Luckily, this was a skill cultivated by his acting jobs, even if there generally wasn't much call for a giant lizard to be aloof.


The Aquamaniac was more of a cool, calm lizard, the John Wayne of lizards, with a fierce heart and a whisper of frustration with his lot in life. Under those scales beat the heart of a lover.


Hey, this was good stuff. He'd have to run it by Face later.


In the midst of such skillful and inspired plotting, Hannibal allowed himself to gracefully trip, stagger, and drop his tray of drinks. To the unenlightened observer, it looked rather like the elderly waiter had downed a few pints too many before work and had just decided not to stop with a good thing.


No wonder he'd been hanging out at the bar.


At any rate, he'd gamboled across the room like a drunken gazelle ridden by a cross-eyed chimpanzee. It wasn't very sensible, but the unenlightened observer didn't care. This, a beer, and a bag of popcorn was better than must-see TV.


Hannibal looked down at his empty tray and then down at the splattered floor. It was clear that much of what had previously been on the tray was now in the cooler. Good.


"Well, get rid of it then."


The colonel looked up from the floor to partially meet the headwaiter's eyes. He scrubbed anxiously at the tray, all-ineffectually, with a hand-towel from over his arm. When in doubt, look incompetent. When in desperation, look incompetent and stupid. Although, in all fairness, they weren't desperate. Things were proceeding exactly as planned.


Or so Hannibal proudly believed as he and Screech proudly escorted the ice cooler and its cache of stolen jewels outside to the parking lot where BA and Murdock waited. Face, Yeller, and Mac would be along in a moment. And --




Where was Howler?


Howler was fuming in a way to end all fumes. It was Guinness World Record fuming. It was a fume so fume-y that an animated version of her would be steaming from the ears. Fortunately for the author, however -- and for the reader, since the author lacks any artistic ability whatsoever and any attempt would likely cause the viewer's eyes to bleed -- this particular tale is prose in nature.


At any rate, the black-haired thief with an eye for bad boys and worse trouble found herself caught in an elevator. The door had started to open, then gasped its dying breath, and froze half-open. Howler couldn't get out.


This was not cool.


First, she was much closer to the bad guy than she wanted to be. Any minute now, he would discover the theft and be out for blood. For all she knew, this freezage was no accident but a trap. Second, Hannibal was probably having kittens in triplicate by now. Third, she still felt all yuck from LaPierre's pawing.


At least she didn't have to worry about Yeller running out of complaints. That wouldn't be a problem.


Her brain still hadn't come up with helpful suggestions for getting out of this latest debacle, and was instead deluging her brain with the lyrics to 'Good Morning Starshine' and the perfect way to make hospital corners.


As if.


Unable to come up with anything else, Howler forced the doors open with the serving cart -- from which it would likely be hugely traumatized for the rest of its short life -- and stepped out into the corridor. Looked left, looked right, no security types in sight. She left the remains of the cart to die in peace and dignity.


She picked the most likely direction for the getaway van to be parked and went without a second glance. Her sense of direction was nowhere near as bad as her sisters claimed; they were just jealous, is all. Brain had nothing to say yet, just entertaining itself with hand puppets. Just then, two security types stepped out of the stairwell and they looked -- well, like big beefy security guys. Howler dropped all pretenses, kicked off her high heels, grabbed them, and ran. These were two hundred-dollar shoes. No way was she leaving them behind. Hopefully the others were on schedule.


Hannibal looked at his watch, and sighed.


Screech looked at Murdock, and sighed.


Face looked at the ceiling, and sighed. One way or the other, it would be done soon. Mac stood up a moment later, pulled his screaming dinner date aside, and shushed her. Face spared a moment to thank God for the joy that was silence.


All was then lost when Mac spoke in his usual easygoing way but with words that made the con man want to weep. "Why don't we go outside and discuss it? I’m sure we can make some kind of arrangement." Yeller and Mac walked proudly, escorting Face to the door, to freedom, to the van.


If any of them were still sober, those unenlightened observers were thinking that the blond waiter was acting like he was going to the gallows. What with the tongue-lashing he'd gotten, the gallows might just be preferable. It certainly explained why MacGyver was so mellow, even though he was palling around with Yeller MacGillivray for some strange classified reason. They didn’t need to know. Nor did they want to know.


It had to be drugs. After all, MacGyver and MacGillivray had been sent on some mission - according to rumor, anyway, on the very active agent grapevine - to a nonexistent research station in the Nevada desert last year…


On the other hand, Howler was wishing she had some drugs, preferably of the feel-nothing-and-care-not variety. She was sure that this carpet was going to kill her nylons, and that would be bad. Playing hide-and-seek with security was so over-rated; she had hidden in a broom closet, then made it inside a guest's room -- occupied, if the underwear all over the floor was any indication -- and was now trying to figure out what to do.


As usual, in moments of stress -- not to mention moments of low stress or no stress or pretty much any time at all -- her brain was no help. It had, though, managed to create a rather nice deconstructionist version of Punch-and-Judy with shadow puppets. There was even a commentary on domestic violence and a musical revue portion involving the soul tune 'I'm Your Puppet.'


None of this helped, interesting as it was.


The only plan she could come up with was one she didn't want to be forced into doing. There was no way in hell she was going to slide down a wire. Hell would freeze over first before she did anything crazy like that.


There had to be something else.


She cheerfully ransacked the room, searching for something, anything, which could be used for an escape plan. Howler sighed. This was rapidly becoming unhappy -- and she couldn't stay here. The brunette had to leave ... and there was only one way out.


And about twenty stories down.


Howler had a thing about heights.


They didn't like her.


The feeling was mutual.


She looked down at the bed and began tearing at the sheets. After all, she figured, it wasn't as if she ever planned to come back to this hotel in any lifetime. With that, Howler tore the sheets up with gleeful abandon and added anything else she could think of to make the chain longer. Each piece knotted on securely for a nice scary repel.


Wasn't this supposed to be fun or something like that?


She had better get chocolate after this trauma.


Yeller was busy considering how stupid it was, their entire motley band crammed into a white catering truck in the west lot waiting for her directionally-challenged sister to exit the hotel. By now LaPierre had to have discovered the theft. They had to leave and now, or they'd find the airplane runway blocked. She looked over at the others: Murdock, BA, and Hannibal were all watchful and ready; Screech and the cat were asleep - so what else was new? -- and sprawled out like a bed-hogging blob monster; Mac sat quietly with an expression on his face that made her think that he was considering how to explain this to his boss; and Face sat muttering with his head in his hands.


She looked up when a flash of red caught her eye. Another look convinced her that she was hallucinating. She had to be because there was no way in hell that Howler would be rappelling down a building. It just would never happen.


"Looky at all the undies blowing in the wind!"


True, unfortunately.


In her haste to escape, Howler had bled the room dry of cloth for her rappelling rope. Everything found its way there -- shirts, pants, undergarments, sheets, towels, ties, slips, socks, belts, and a fluffy white robe -- and fluttering in the breeze. Whose room was that, anyway? The conference lasted only four days and there had to be enough clothes on that rope for a month. Only one special agent dressed so nattily, and yes, there were his initials on the robe along with a gilt edge.


How Illya put up with that clotheshorse she had no idea. It was a wonder SMURF or whomever they were fighting these days didn't just track UNCLE’s movements by way of Napoleon Solo's wardrobe.


None of this made it any less worrisome to see Howler bouncing stiff-leggedly down the side of a building. She -- and everybody for five miles around -- knew that the brunette was on bad terms with high places. So it was worrying, and as the big sis, that was part of her job. Funny, though, to think of Howler using Napoleon's undies to climb down a building. It would be good -- Yeller almost regretted leaving and missing the expression on the agent's face when he realized what had happened. Every other woman in the world had probably seen those undies. Personally, she could have done without viewing the gold thong with the inscription 'Family Jewels' on the pouch. Or the naughty red-and-white ones with 'Pull Down in Case of Emergency' on the seat.


Yeller shuddered.


Luckily, it didn't take long for Howler to sprint to the waiting van, and, as soon as the brunette hopped in, the group sped off. "I think I've been scarred for life," were her first words.


"I'm sure." Yeller was going to lose it.


"No, really."


"I believe you."


Howler said nothing, but narrowed her eyes in suspicion. Long practice told her that her sister was up to something. She didn't care. She was ready for a nap and still hadn't gotten her bath.


"After all, that's why you sneaked off with some of Napoleon's undies."


"Shut up!"


Yeller grinned. This would provide blackmail material for years. Howler grouchily kicked her redheaded sister in the shin, muttering about how they were Illya's undies and how it wasn't anybody's business anyway. Yeller felt her grin widen further. "Somebody needs a nap," she singsonged.


"Shut up!"


The group encountered no resistance from anyone - including B.A., who one day would twig to the myriad ways there were to drug someone with or without their knowledge -- while boarding their specially-outfitted plane, which was a good thing. An unenlightened observer would have been hard pressed to explain the proceedings. Two men with automatic weapons, one of whom kissed the plane repeatedly before running to the cockpit, and the other muttered the whole time. A tall white-haired gentleman waved a cigar and pushed a sleeping black man, so laden with gold jewelry that it was a miracle he could move at all, onto the plane. A lanky blond man walked on board guiding a large wheeled ice cooler, and his mysterious smile made one wonder what he was thinking. Three girls followed: the blonde led a yawning redhead, trailed by a brunette who clutched a cat carrier in one hand and a pair of red-and-white men's briefs in the other. The cat was likely bored with the whole situation by now, and would have preferred a quick roll in the catnip.


For that matter, the unenlightened observer probably would have preferred a quick roll in the catnip, but nooooo! He has to be objective and silent and, well, boring.




Now, this tale could end by the author saying something trite or even thoroughly sweet, but this author would sooner do that than she would freely leap out of a plane into a river. It doesn't matter that she could swim and that she has a parachute, but it's still never going to happen. The river is too far down from the plane for comfort.


But the author digresses.


The flight passed easily, back to Los Angeles. Only Murdock, Hannibal, and the cat were awake. Murdock, naturally, needed to fly the plane, and Hannibal needed to keep the pilot awake. Yeller had death-glared him into not lighting his cigar. He had tried, but her retching noises of imminent destruction made him rethink that course of action. Plus, he'd been kicked rather unceremoniously out of the hot tub by Howler, who had babbled something-or-other about loser slime drool all over her clothes and needing therapy to recover.




It wasn't like anything the MacGillivrays did made any sense to him. Murdock had been glancing at him over the past hour, as if thinking about speaking, but he had yet to act on it. No matter, he'd speak when it was time. But everyone was back in their normal clothing, probably bathed, and sleeping soundly, sprawled all around the luxurious interior of the fabulous plane.


Life was good, Hannibal reflected, from where he sat in the co-pilot's seat. He stroked the white cat curled on his lap, and listened to Murdock humming in time with the cat's purrs. Hannibal found it oddly relaxing. He tilted his tumbler of fine brandy, the light sparkling of the cut crystal and melting ice, and smiled. He plucked a diamond out of the glass and set it carefully to one side. Eventually, all the ice would melt, leaving the jewels to be easily removed from the liquid. Flawless. "I love it when a plan comes together." He chortled to himself.


When they landed, it didn't take long for the group to arrange a place and time to divide the jewels. Until then, Face would have control of all the stones as the Team's money manager. It would be his duty, obligation, and joy to have the jewels examined and appraised for sale, ransom, or storage. He cheerfully took possession of them. It was probably the high point of the whole mission for him.


"Happy to have those stones, huh, Face?"


The con man didn't even look up from his task of counting the jewels. "I'm just glad you're leaving."


"Aww, Faceman, you'll miss us."


"Not even if I was drowning."


"We'd give you only the finest spring water."


"That figures."


Hannibal clapped his hands and happily withdrew a cigar from a pocket. Ignoring the disgusted expression on Yeller's face, he lit the terrible smelly thing and cheerily puffed in the noxious fumes. They didn't bother him, and his Team was used to it. Women just didn't appreciate a good cigar. "So," the colonel began, "how long will it take to have those gems examined?"


Face didn't hesitate. "Two weeks to have it done right, by someone I trust."


"Someone you trust?" Hannibal -- and everyone else present -- raised their eyebrows at that.


"Someone that I know will do a good job and is professional enough not to skim anything for himself," the con man clarified. "As if I would bring in anything without having it secured first to prevent that kind of thing."


Yeller shook her head. "Some people."


"You just can't trust anyone these days," added Screech.


"No honor among thieves," commented Howler. "None at all."


Face tried to steer the conversation back to somewhere within his comfort zone. Of course, that would require time travel to a period before he had ever met the MacGillivrays. Or at least before he'd been forced to introduce them to the rest of the Team. Face was fairly sure that his reputation would never recover. Maybe some sort of alternative universe in which he had never had the misfortune to encounter them.


That would be nice.


Maybe this was all in his imagination.


Maybe this was all in someone else's imagination.


That would be really nice. It wouldn't be in his head at all even if his memories said otherwise. Stupid memories.


"About two weeks, then, people," he heard Hannibal say. “Then we’ll make arrangements for the jewels to be sold and the majority of the proceeds to be sent to their rightful owners.”


Mac offered a suggestion he’d been mulling during the flight. “Some friends of mine might be able to help with that. They could trace who the rightful owners are and determine how much of the proceeds would be theirs. They could even arrange for the money transfer.”


Lighting his cigar in triumph, Hannibal grinned at him.


Face tried to get back into the conversation. “Just so long as we cover our expenses.”


“What expenses?”


“Making a profit would be nice for a change…”


"Bye, Face," the sisters chorused in three-part cacophony. "We'll see you later."


"Not if I see you first." Face wondered if he could somehow arrange to be in police custody at that time. He brightened suddenly and waved with great cheer as the sisters climbed haphazardly into their cherry red-and-white classic auto. Howler drove, as usual, if you could call what she did driving, and Yeller sat in the front passenger seat with the cat. He couldn't tell what Screech was doing.


Face didn't want to know. He didn't care. He had a plan. All he had to do was introduce them to Decker.


MacGyver left next, in a yellow cab that had suddenly appeared as if from a puff of smoke. The driver appeared to be female, a tall rather mannish female, but this was Los Angeles. Who could tell? Whatever, the DXS agent looked happy about it.


"Ah," Murdock drawled, "parting is such sweet sorrow. Night's candles are burnt out. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Why does the drum --"


"Shut up, fool, shut up!"


Hannibal shared a knowing look with his lieutenant and ignored the bickering. He took a moment and a deep breath. It was nice to be home. "Let's see if Mister Lee has any cases for us."


"Hannibal, we just got back." Face couldn't believe it. Besides, it was disturbing to hear his CO talk about his alter egos like they were real people.


"All's well that ends well, you know."


Inside the speeding car, Yeller had her hands full trying to control two younger sisters. "Howler, try to stay on the road or at least reasonably in the direction we're going." She adjusted the cat carrier more securely on her lap.




"Screech, stop making faces at the guys. They can't see you any longer. We're too far away."


"Says you."


"That's right, says me."


"Who died and made you Lord of the Rings?"


"I'm the oldest."


"She has a point." Howler glanced at her pouting sister in the backseat, failed to signal right, and turned sharply to the horror of several pedestrians and a large black dog. One squirrel later reported for free psychiatric care at the local nuthouse.


"So? Howler's driving." Screech sprawled the length of the backseat and examined her fingernails. They needed a new coat of polish. Maybe red this time, or a nice shade of blue....


"Where are we going, speaking of that?" Yeller wanted to know.


"I don't know," the brunette replied. She whipped the steering wheel in yet another direction. "I set the system on random."


"You what?"


Screech began to laugh.


"You heard me."


"So what you mean is," Yeller leaned back in her seat and tried to process this information, "that you don't know where we're going, when we're going to get there, or what will happen when we do." She couldn't believe it. Well, scratch that. She could. She just didn't want to. "So we're just going to keep driving until we stop?"


"Uh-huh." Howler concentrated on driving, or at least tried and failed to make them think she was. Really, she was thinking about her fingernails. They needed a new coat of polish. Maybe a soft cool green. Plus, she was pretty certain she'd left her hat on the plane.


"And when we stop," Yeller continued, "we'll find out where and when we are."


"I'd say that about covers it."


"Cool," was Screech's contribution.


Yeller sighed and put her head in her hands. "I don't ask for much, by Chaplin, just let us stop --"


"Where we can eat," the redhead interrupted. "I'm starving."


"Who are you talking to? The holodeck program?"




"I'd like some hot guys, then." Howler shifted the car into a higher gear, pointed, and went. "That looks like an exit ramp."


"Since when has that mattered to you?"




"I guess we'll see, won't we?" In response to her sisters' expressions of frustration and doubt, respectively, Yeller seatbelted herself in securely and held the cat in her arms.


So much for this story.


And about time, too.














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