July 11th, 1970
"The Pucker factor is the formal name of the equation that states: The hairier the situation is…" Another bang rocks the helicopter and its inhabitants as it is pelted by gunfire. "…the more of the seat cushion will be sucked up yer ass." Murdock's Texas drawl can be heard over the intercom while he bobs and weaves the chopper into evasive maneuvers. "It can be expressed in its mathematical formula." A loud bang sounds through the chopper and suddenly engine RPM drops into to the red. In a flurry of movements Murdock engages into autorotation while at the same time looking out for a place to set the bird down. He continues his lecture… "Of S suction, plus H which is height above ground, plus I…"
"God! Why are you still talking!" The copilot screams at the top of his lungs. Murdock rolls his eyes at the FNG next to him.
"As I was saying, I stands for interest in staying alive which you seem to have down to a T… Do ya need a pen to write this down?" Spotting a nice cozy hole in the canopy, Murdock fiddles with the angle of the blades to keep rotor RPM within bounds. No use in smacking them into the forest floor after surviving in the first place. "Which brings me to T, the number of tracers comin' yer way." Murdock expertly maneuvers the limping chopper into the clearing and sets it down gently. He powers the bird down and whacks the copilot in the chest with the map while Murdock moves to check on the rest of the crew. "Call in our position will ya. Tell 'em we will rendezvous with the Alpha team we were fixin' to pick up."
"Rendezvous?! But Captain Murdock!"
"Do as the man says, boy!" comes a gravelly voice from the choppers crew chief.
The young copilot looks like he wants to protest some more, but a flick to the ear from the older man has him scrambling for the radio.
Hannibal curses and turns to Ray Brenner. "They shot down Murdock's bird." Ray looks alarmed but doesn't speak. "They are going to rendezvous with us, and COVEY will send someone else to pick us up when they have refueled." The two men turn to the map. "They went down here…" Hannibal indicates a spot not far from their position, but still a few hours hiking.
"Colonel!" Sergeant Olsen calls out his name while trying to calm down a wounded soldier.
"Put up a perimeter, I wanna know about anything that moves."
"Yes Sir." Ray salutes and moves to get the tired men into position while Hannibal kneels beside the panicking young man. He checks out the blood-soaked bandages on his thigh and the sheen of sweat on his face.
"Hannibal…" Blue eyes flutter close without the man's consent before flying open again, seeking him out immediately.
"I'm still here." Hannibal puts his hand on his shoulder and squeezes lightly. "Help is on the way kid."
Ray kneels beside him. "How's he doing Colonel?" Hannibal sighs and considers sugar coating it, even though he knows both men won't believe it. They had enough experience to know the difference.
"You can lie to me if…" The young blond catches his breath before continuing "if that makes you feel… better… Colonel." He smiles weakly, the pain making it look like a grimace instead. Hannibal smiles wistfully at the young man before speaking.
"You're going to be fine Face." Face nods and squeezes his eyes closed as another wave of pain hits him, sucking in a breath through his teeth.
Murdock moves to the back of the chopper. "God Cap, I'll be picking pieces of foam from between my ass cheeks for weeks after this! " 'Snowy' Kowalski grins widely at the 23-year-old captain while dismounting the big M-60, machine gun and shouldering the ammo belts.
"At least yer takin' it better than that big baby over 'ere." 'Tennessee' Owens moves into the back and quickly starts gathering stuff. "Called in our coordinates." Murdock nods at the men and checks his service pistol. He shrugs off the near miss, like his crewmen. There's no time to ponder upon the possibilities. Death is always just around the corner.
"Did you set the charge?" The captain asks while blindly feeling around under the seats. He pulls out two automatic rifles and some extra clips. Tennessee's face lights up. He takes a rifle from the pilot's hands like he's receiving a bouquet of roses and he pitches his voice up high. "Aw capt'n ya shouldn't have." The copilot looks between the two chuckling southerners and peers cautiously at the jungle outside.
Murdock eyes his young peter pilot, shakes his head and hands the boy an M-16.
"We don't have time for this but listen kid. A bullet with yer name on it WILL find you…"
"And so will those addressed: To whom it may concern." Snowy claps the young man on the back before exiting the bird. "There's no sense in fearing the inevitable, Baby. Learn to live with it or get out." He calls out over his shoulder. Murdock rolls his eyes at his gunner. He takes the last rifle and pockets the clips. "All righty then… According to the map it's 2 clicks in ehm…" Murdock jumps from the chopper and aimlessly turns in a circle before randomly pointing at the jungle surrounding them. "…that direction. Thank you for flying Howlin' mad airlines. Please mind your step and have a nice day." Snowy and Tennessee chuckle and shake their heads, before swiftly moving into the surrounding brush. Murdock looks wistfully at the grounded bird before moving into the jungle in pursuit of the other two men and just in time too! The first sounds of enemy movement can be heard along the edge of the clearing. Faintly, Murdock could hear orders being barked out in Vietnamese and he hurriedly pushes the young man ahead. "Sir!"
The shock wave caused by the blast ruffles the foliage around them. Murdock hears the panicked shouts of the enemy soldiers and the screams of their wounded. He looks at his young companion, his smile not reaching his dark eyes. “That will keep them busy.”