A Bad Dream
Tasmin and Allison stepped through the portal into the apartment the Team shared. The place was a dump, and, for some inexplicable reason, the best Face had been able to get.
They had decided that living together would be a far safer option, especially when the military was looking for them 'en masse'.
"And here I was thinking that en masse meant in a group." Allison shook her head. She pulled a small notepad from one of her pockets and flicked through it to find an empty page.
"It does mean in a group."
"Then why are they all living together? Why are they accommodating the military police?"
"Why are you thinking Sues actually know the meaning of the words they use?"
"Because she spelt it correctly so she must have looked it up?" Allison posed her reply as a question.
Tasmin opened her mouth to reply, but closed it again when nothing came to mind that could refute the logic of Allison's statement.
The Team discussed their next mission -- freeing the daughter of a client -- and that something was fishy about this client. BA had followed the client but given up when he got near a military base.
"That's no way to make sure that someone has no relations to the military," Allison said. "Unless vicinity to military bases is reason to turn a client down."
Hannibal considered the whole thing was an elaborate set-up to capture the Team by kidnapping a woman so her father would go to the A-Team. Hannibal seemed to like the idea that someone was playing cat and mouse like that. Despite that, he believed that the woman was a real victim of kidnapping. So he devised for the Team to go on a stakeout of the estate where she was supposedly held lasting several days.
During that time nothing much happened. Murdock tried to break the boredom by spilling coffee on Face, although the suggestion in the narrative seemed to be that Murdock tried to get a rise out of Face.
Tasmin glared at her partner.
"What? I didn't say anything."
"This is a pre-emptive glare."
From the stakeout the Team learned that the "father" was indeed working on setting up the A-Team. The Team, however, kept receiving photos of the daughter showing the scars of torture, and maintained their conviction that she was an innocent victim.
"Because as an actor Hannibal would be able to tell the difference between real blood and fake wounds."
"Not too bad," Tasmin replied. "We should try more often to find in-character explanations for why they are behaving stupidly."
Allison squinted at her partner. "You know, you really ought to try to smile when you are making a joke. So the rest of us know when you are kidding and when you aren't."
"I never kid."
No one had a better plan, and no one made plans like Hannibal, so they continued. The limousine drove to the gates.
Allison fell on the lawn. "Bugger. The FLF is on the blink again."
"No, it isn't," Tasmin replied as she got back to her feet and readjusted her duffel bag over her shoulder. "I've set it to automatic."
"What? Are you insane? Could you at least warn me before doing a thing like that? Lunch today was bad enough without having to taste it again." She burped. "Where are we?"
"At the estate where the Sue is being held. The Team is about to come to her rescue. Pay very close attention: the Sue may be quizzed on this later."
The guard at the gate asked if they had an appointment. Hannibal made a wisecrack and the guard signalled to have the gate opened.
"Just like that? While on the stakeout they saw that people were getting body searched before being let on the grounds."
"It's so hard to get good help these days," Tasmin mused.
Hannibal knocked out the guard by pulling his arm through the opened window, which made the guard hit his head on the hood of the car and lose consciousness.
"Should have been the roof of the car," Tasmin said.
"Hannibal isn't even in the driver's seat, so how he could have reached the guard without him jumping back is beyond me." Allison took a note of bad fight choreography.
While Face provided covering fire, BA drove the limo through the gate. Somewhere along the tree-lined lane to the manor they stopped the car, got out, slit a tire and went into the trees.
"Oh, I want to see what their getaway plan is," Allison said. "They just immobilized the vehicle they came in, plus it's blocking the driveway so they can't use any other vehicle as their gate-away car. Off-roading is unlikely because these trees make up a pretty dense perimeter, at least, if they can provide cover from view. And why are the Team scaling these trees?"
"Bad choice of words, no doubt."
While some of the guards were distracted themselves with the limo, others searched around the house. Hannibal sent Face and BA to go round back; he and Murdock went in through the front door.
Waiting for a break in the patrolling guards, Hannibal and the captain took the chance, stealthily and quickly knocked out the two men, dragging their bodies in the house when they ascertained the coast was clear. Hopefully no one would notice for at least a while until they had found the girl.
"Whoever is running this operation should have invested in quality of guards rather than quantity. All's in panic because someone broke through the gates, and these two are just lazily patrolling as usual. You'd think that one would look in the opposite direction of the other so that, A, they could cover more ground, and, B, no one can sneak up on them. They didn't even fire a shot before being taken out."
"Also note that the Team is trusting on luck rather than a good plan."
"Their stakeout probably showed that BA is wearing more gold than these guards have brain cells."
A third guard was knocked out before BA and Face reached the hallway. They waited downstairs and Hannibal and Murdock went upstairs to search for the Sue. They found many bedrooms with double beds and one with a collection of SM toys. Then they went up to the attic.
There must have been at least a dozen or more naked people tied to the array of king sized double beds.
Their beds all had name tags and Hannibal found out that these people were celebrities or men from the military. He wanted to help them, but Murdock told him they were just there for the girl. They could send the police for the others.
Allison felt her head with both hands. "I don't think I hit my head. It doesn't feel like I hit my head. Then why do I hear Murdock make this crazy talk?"
"Because he is crazy?"
"Not this kind of crazy. He's the 'let's untie as many of these people as we possibly can before we get caught' kind of crazy."
"Well, write down the charge, and add that the Sue is calling this place a harem."
"A harem? A harem is the women's quarters of the house. There are men here."
"Even if there weren't men, calling the attic of horrors a harem would be slightly off."
"In the spirit of writing down charges efficiently: this is another example of incorrect word usage."
Hannibal started to undo the Sue's restraints but was shocked by what he saw. Murdock finished the job for him and picked her up to carry her down the stairs. Face and BA were involved in a bit of a scuffle, but managed to rid themselves of their assailants. The Team ran into a room. Hannibal suggested they jump through a window and climb aboard the conveniently parked truck.
"If I didn't know any better I'd say the Team had had inside help to make this getaway plan successful."
The abandoned limo had apparently been towed by the guards because it was not blocking the driveway and the Team made a successful escape.
The transition from the estate to Face's latest scammed apartment went a lot smoother than the previous move. Allison gave Tasmin a surprised look.
"Chapter break," was the simply reply.
Allison looked around the place. "Wow, Face again went all out to get the worst place imaginable. Guess you can't expect too much from a scam that has to be conducted while on a rescue mission. Why didn't they just take her back to the previous flat?"
Tasmin shrugged. "Perhaps that place didn't have a bath?"
"Though I love to take baths, in case of emergency I can manage taking a shower."
"You don't understand: the bath is a plot point."
"Murdock is giving the Sue a bath."
"Why?" Allison asked slowly.
"To wash the dirt off her."
"No other reason?"
"Doesn't look that way."
"Why is washing the dirt off her a plot point?"
"So he can see her scars and have a flashback to knowing her before."
A lot of dirt came off the Sue, turning the bath water black, and revealing she had very pale skin. He emptied the bath and ran her another one to continue washing her. She told Murdock her name was Butterbee. He told her who he was, and introduced the Team. She interrupted him; she already knew who the Team were.
"Even though she has been unconscious up until Murdock was alone with her, so she hasn't actually seen any of the others."
Murdock reacted to restrain her but she was too quick. She had him pinned to the bathroom floor, face down before he knew what was happening.
"We should have been in the bathroom with them," Allison said.
"We can't risk being found out yet."
"But I want to know how she managed to find enough grip in a wet bath to leap at Murdock, turn him over and pin him down to the floor."
"I imagine she made a big splash."
The Sue told Murdock she was the girl that was thrown into the Team's prison cell when they were at a VC POW camp. To prove this she asked Murdock to clean her neck. It showed a brand of the Vietnamese word whore.
Allison looked around the compound that had fluidly come in place of the apartment's living room. "Murdock's flashback?"
"Now I finally understand why you had us disguised as men."
"There are no women at POW camps. At least not in the camps where the soldiers are kept."
"Sure there are," Allison replied. "There are loads of them in Hogan's Heroes."
Tasmin closed her eyes briefly before replying. "Please weigh fanfic on its historical accuracy before even considering making comments like that."
Allison suppressed a chuckle. "Nice fight." She nodded her head in the direction of a small cluster of people.
Sofia went flying through the air as the VC guard punched her square in the face. She jumped up and moved forward again, grabbing hold of Face's arm, and with surprising might that the guard had not expected, pulled him free.
"Ah, yes. There we have Sue Number Two."
"The younger version of Sue Number One. No problem, same Sue."
"We have to charge older and younger versions of Sues separately."
"Great, just great."
'Ha,' she said in Vietnamese. 'You filthy pig fucker can't stop an American girl, you pathetic excuse for a VC!'
"What's a fifteen-year-old American girl doing in a Vietcong camp? Did her parents think this was a suitable location for a summer camp? Had they really wanted to send her to boot camp, but found out those didn't exist yet during the Vietnam War?"
"I haven't seen the explanation yet," Tasmin replied. "She's just here, speaking Vietnamese and offering to take a beating instead of the Team."
The Junior-Sue was dragged off to the torture chamber.
"What's the point in beating a girl? I thought the VC tortured for information and to break spirits. She's not likely to have any useful military information, is she? Or has the USA government started drafting teenage girls for combat positions?"
"How do you think the spirits of the Team are going to be after a teenager has taken a beating for them?"
"This Sue is actually helping the VC to make the Team submissive? I don't know whether I should be appalled or impressed by this plot twist."
"Appalled would be a pretty safe bet. I don't think the Sue realizes what she is doing."
The two agents were returned to the apartment where Murdock informed the Team that the woman they had rescued was the girl they knew from their POW camp. Hannibal nearly collapsed when he heard the news.
'It has to be her. She knows who we are and what we do, I've quizzed her. It has to be Sofia. She's even the right age Hannibal, and she remember things, ya'know.'
"Which makes me think -- when is this story set? The Team is still hiding from the government, so it's pre season five, but Murdock seems to be living with the Team rather than at the VA, which never happened."
Tasmin shrugged. "It doesn't say, but the Senior-Sue's age should give us a clue, as we know that the Junior-Sue was fifteen in the POW camp."
"That's, of course, helpful, since we don't know when they were in the POW camp, and we don't know how old this Sue is either."
"The Team are still calling her a girl. She can't be much older than eighteen."
"Hummpf. People are still calling me a girl too. And I'm a bit older than eighteen."
"People never call me a girl."
"I doubt they ever have." Allison waved a hand. "Anyway, let's put the cut-off age for calling someone a girl at twenty-five. That would put this story clearly before the start of the show."
"Works for me."
The Team were all deeply impressed that Senior-Sue was the girl from the POW camp: they thought she was dead. The agents watched them as they moved about to be alone with their thoughts.
Tasmin and Allison were returned to the POW camp. Hannibal sat on the floor cradling the Junior-Sue.
He wanted so badly to get revenge for the girl, but they had him exactly where they wanted him.
"It seems the Sue's tactics to break the spirit of at least Hannibal have been successful."
The VC guards dragged the Sue out while Hannibal tried to cling to her. A moment later a gunshot was heard.
"And that was the final blow," Allison noted. "Hannibal is now a wreck. How will he ever get over his cowardice?"
"I don't think the Team were tortured much in their POW camp."
"Not tortured much or it didn't affect them much."
"How do you figure that?"
"The show's a bit foggy on when they were at the POW camp, but I suspect it was before they robbed the bank of Hanoi. That means they were deemed fit for active duty after they escaped from their POW camp. Whatever happened to them, it didn't turn them into a sobbing mess."
"Or they hid it well."
"Why hide it from your friends when you have failed to hide it from your enemies?"
"Because they were embarrassed and wanted to go back in to seek revenge? They could have just had acute stress disorder, which can resolve itself with time."
Tasmin narrowed her eyes. "Possibly, but ASD is set on by a traumatic event, not by a prolonged series of traumatic events."
"You're being nitpicky."
"Just write down that the Sue aided the VC in breaking the Team, and that the Team were turned into sobbing messes. That's two charges by the way."
"I'd count them as five," Allison said as she scribbled the note down. "Hey, who turned off the light?"
"We're back at the apartment."
"These smooth transitions are really something else. Now, where's the light switch?"
Tasmin pulled Allison behind the sofa. "Shh."
"What-" Allison started, but the rest of her comment got muffled by Tasmin's hand.
"The Senior-Sue has just gotten out of bed while everyone else is asleep."
The Sue stumbled into the living room and made her way to the telephone.
Yeah they think I'm Sofia, I slipped up and told Murdock who I was, but I covered well... They think I remember some of the harsher memories… no I just pretend… Soonish, we'll have them soon. Promise.
The Sue went back to her room and Tasmin let go of Allison.
"That was stupid. What if not all of the Team had been asleep? She could have been found out. What kind of undercover agent is she? Is this her first job or something? I'd say amateur, but I don't want to insult any Olympians."
"If you don't know what to call it, perhaps you should shut up about it."
"I would, but I really like the sound of my own voice."
"It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it."
Allison paid no attention to Tasmin's last remark.
The Sue didn't quite make it back to bed. She passed out in front of the bed and woke up Hannibal, who had fallen asleep sitting watch for her. Hannibal picked her up and put her back on the bed.
He quickly undressed her, removing the gown with out disturbing her. His hands brushed the broken skin on her shoulders and arms, briefly pausing at his own thoughts before continuing with his task.
"His task being acting grossly out of character."
When he was satisfied the Sue was comfortable, Hannibal went to Face and Murdock's room. His quiet knock on the door was quickly answered.
"Amazing that Face can hear a quiet knock, but he didn't hear the Sue knocking over a lamp when she went to the living room a moment ago."
"That's probably because she didn't knock over a lamp."
"She should have, in the state she's in. Plus it would have added to the suspense: was she found out or wasn't she."
"I hope you're not still trying to find plot in badfic."
"It's my Rorschach test."
A week passed in which the Team moved again, but made no attempt to find a better place for the Sue to stay, such as a hospital. Nor did they question the fact that their client, supposedly the girl's father, had not come for her yet. Strangest of all was that Face did not complain that they were not paid in full for this mission.
But perhaps that was because Face got his 'revenge' in another way. As part of the deal to get their latest digs, Hannibal had to perform as the lobby clown.
"Please tell me this apartment is part of the Disney complex."
"Personally I was hoping for a casino."
The agents were in the kitchen with Hannibal, who sat on a kitchen chair. He had a vacant expression in his eyes. Allison waved her hand before his eyes, but he did not blink. Tasmin peeked around the slightly ajar kitchen door into the living room. Murdock was acting a clown to entertain the Senior-Sue. She asked if she was depressing Hannibal.
"Well, yes, but it's not your fault," Tasmin replied. "It's just that his internal organs start to shut down when he's been exposed to Suefluence for too long."
Murdock told her what the deal was. The Team thought she had been dead, and now that she was back, it brought up all kinds of bad memories they had failed to tuck away.
Murdock tried to struggle to find the right words
Allison sniggered. "This Sue just has a way with words. She makes Murdock say something daft and still he can't manage to struggle with what he wants to say."
The Sue started to feel confused; she had not been briefed about Hannibal being responsible for any deaths. She started to wonder if her job was worth doing.
"I thought she was an undercover agent. Or at least someone familiar with the concept of chain of command. Isn't it the highest ranking officer that is responsible for actions taken? So if Face killed someone, it's Hannibal that is responsible cause he's the one giving Face his orders."
"Apparently she also developed a soft spot for Hannibal, if his sad eyes can make her question her work ethics.'
Allison hurt her head against the wardrobe. "Ouch. What?" She gave the closet a confused looked. "Where did you come from?"
"It's part of the furniture in Murdock and Face's room."
"What are we doing here? What happened to smooth transitions?"
"We're in a short flashback to the night before."
"I don't think I want to know what they were up to last night. It's bad enough the Sue put them in a slash relationship without working out any of the details, such as Face suddenly stopping to pursue women."
"Take it easy. They're just talking."
"Have you ever been privy to a conversation about sex that you were not part of? It's just as unpleasant as being privy to a sexual act you're not part of."
"It's not sex talk either. Just listen."
'I know it sounds stupid, it's the little things.' Face said quietly as the two of them snuggled up under their blanket.
"That's not sex."
Allison threw Tasmin a look. "It's a public display of affection."
"We're in their bedroom. Even considering Face's track record, that's hardly a public place."
"If it's not a public place then how did we get in? Oh, we're not any more." Allison's smile broadened as she realized the agents had been transferred again, smoothly this time. The Words lit up dimly, providing the only light. Through them Allison learned that they were back at the POW camp. Her smiled dropped.
The Team was sitting in the dark cell. The Sue's actions of putting herself in their place had given them new strength.
"Personally I think it's the Sue's removal from their immediate surroundings that has made them stronger."
"They will be weakened soon enough. The Sue is about to be returned to them," Tasmin replied. She crouched down beside a few other POWs.
"What are they doing here? They're not mentioned." Allison pointed.
"True. I created them. They provide cover for our presence."
"Isn't Junior-Sue going to notice them and wonder what they are doing here?"
"I'm banking on her just having failed to mention that it is a group cell. If not, and she actually thinks that the Vietcong are going to put four prisoners they captured together in a cell together -- and just the four of them -- rather than separating them, it's a charge."
"Divide and separate sounds like a good war tactic."
The door to the cell was opened and a bundle was thrown in. It was Junior-Sue and the Team immediately saw to taking care of her. BA took the rags from her and Hannibal started cleaning her wounds with water they had saved up.
"Good thing too the guards have turned the light on." Allison sat down next to a lethargic looking soldier. "They wouldn't have been able to see much a few minutes ago. Also," she pointed at the soldier, "couldn't you have gone for a little more personality?"
"Junior-Sue thinks that torture breaks people's spirits all the time. She's not going to give him a second glance if he looks the part. You should take a cue from him."
When the Sue was cleaned and rested, Hannibal spoke to her and told her she couldn't switch places with them again.
'Bullock's colonel. No one can take that shit, not even you.'
"What's livestock got to do with anything?"
Tasmin hit Allison in the back of the head.
Allison glared at her partner. "It's just a question. Before she took a beating she was American. Another question would be, why did the VC try to beat British into her? And make it flawed?"
"Because Junior-Sue is an imposter," Tasmin whispered back.
Tasmin hit her partner again. "Please pay attention. We already know she's working with the VC. Not keeping her accent straight falls in line with that. What is baffling is that the Team is falling for it."
Grumbling Allison rubbed the back of her head. "You shouldn't be hitting me. What if the Sue notices?"
"I think I could convince her that one of us is a VC spy."
Allison gave her partner a short and hard look to gauge her. She tried to shake of the wave of eerie feelings that washed over her.
Junior-Sue argued that nice blokes like the Team didn't deserve to be tortured and that she could stand her own ground.
'Why not? Because I have breasts and a hymen?'
"If she still has a hymen those torturers are not very imaginative."
Tasmin glared at her partner. Allison returned an innocent look. The story switched back to Senior-Sue and the agents were back in the kitchen. They and five POWs.
"Oh, really." Tasmin rolled her eyes and the men were gone.
Hannibal, however, was still in the kitchen. He was rummaging through the cupboards to find things he could use as part of his clown's outfit and make-up. Allison gave Tasmin a questioning look and nodded in Hannibal's direction.
Tasmin shrugged. "Just make sure he doesn't pick up any of the sharp edged cutlery."
Through the door to the living room the agents could hear Murdock ask the Sue why she had protected the Team in the VC camp. The Sue could not come up with a good answer, not actually having any memories of having been there. So she said it was because she liked them.
"Did the Team ever bother to ask what she was doing at a VC camp, or were they just too smitten with her to notice the oddity of her presence?"
"They seem to have noticed that it wasn't an ideal situation. But despite that they became like a family."
"I think that is the story that got Murdock landed in the VA."
Another week passed and the Team, i.e. Face, was looking for new lodgings. Senior-Sue was looking for an opportunity to complete her mission.
Hannibal himself was trying to work out where they, him and Sofia, stood. He felt like he was cheating Sofia of a memory, a memory that at some point, she would need to remember if she was ever to stay with the team.
"At least this Sue is not making up any phony reason for the Team to make the Sue a member. I hate those fics." Allison pulled Tasmin's bag closer and opened it to find something edible. She found a few energy bars and threw Tasmin one.
Hannibal was contemplating that he was falling for this Sue, who was a mystery to him. Though the age gap worried him; the fact she could be a threat to the Team also.
Allison stole a furtive glance at Tasmin. She bit her lip before asking, "How large is that supply of chocolate you brought?"
"Large enough. I hope."
First Hannibal and Senior-Sue played an unnamed piece of piano music together -- which Face had thought Hannibal -- and they got their hands a bit tangled up. Then Hannibal retired to his room to get ready for his clown performance. The Sue came in and helped him apply his make-up. While sitting on his lap.
Unknowingly she bit her lip gently, causing her to jump with the arousing touch.
"Will you hit me if I say that made perfect sense?"
"Then it's a good thing that made no sense at all."
"Comments like that should also get you smacked."
But no matter what he was thinking, he still wanted her, wanted those lips that were glistening, inviting him.
Allison dove into the duffel bag and produced two large bars of chocolate. "Two weeks ago he couldn't look at this girl because the VC had ordered him to beat her to a bloody pulp, which he did, and then they took her away and supposedly shot her. Now he's worried he can't kiss her because he's thirty years her senior." She took a large bite of the chocolate and munched it thoughtfully. "Nope. Still not making sense. And I'm taking into consideration that men have less blood in their brains when they've got a woman straddling their lap."
"I won't think any less of you for it."
After the Senior-Sue kissed Hannibal she started having further doubts about her mission, and about the responsibility of the A-Team for her past. She rang her contact to work out her feelings and make excuses for fumbling up her mission.
'Yes Arthur, I told them that she hadn't actually been shot and had just been isolated, then sold to whoremongers later.'
Tasmin raised her hands in frustration.
Allison indicated that she should open her bar of chocolate. "We shouldn't be surprised that this Sue is stupid enough to call her contact twice from an A-Team safe house."
"It's not that. I don't know where we got the idea she was any kind of professional. Probably because Arthur was mentioned in connection to the Army. But he's as big an idiot as she is. The VC is a communist army. Communists abhor prostitution as a social evil. I'm sure they had their private uses of prostitutes, but I doubt they would do any business with them like selling them women. If this Arthur had been a professional he should've known that."
"Perhaps he was setting Senior-Sue up for a fall? I think I heard somewhere in the beginning of this story that he wanted to be rid of her."
"He didn't say that, but whatever he was saying in no way made sense."
"We're kind of used to that, aren't we? Nothing in a story making sense?"
Tasmin nodded. "I'm starting to understand why you try to make something out of nothing. You need it to keep from spinning around." She gave her chocolate a contemplative look. "Personally I still prefer chocolate, but your way is probably better for your complexion."
"Not if you start hitting me in the face to make me stop."
Tasmin grinned and looked up at her partner. "I'll try not to. After all, I don't want to leave any visible evidence of what in a sense is bad behaviour on my part."
"I think that one goes into the 'thank god for small favours' category."
Sofia held the phone away from her ear, hoping that his yelling would attract any attention.
"Argh, all this talking to you has made me mishear part of that sentence. Is she hoping the yelling wouldn't attract any attention, or that it would attract some attention?"
"You're asking me for the rational behind her behaviour?"
"Just to sort out this typo."
"Eat your chocolate. I'll write down the bad grammar."
Arthur griped about losing money because Senior-Sue was not in his attic of kinky games. To convince the Sue she should continue her mission he told her:
Girl, they killed your parents, destroyed your village and to top it all off, took your bloody innocence! I gave you everything, I gave you your memories, gave you a way to avenge the wrongs in your life. Just do it!
"Let me see if I can make sense of this: Sue is working for him as a human punching bag stroke puncher, and that apparently is not the wrong in her life she needs to avenge. Your bonus questions are on syndromes named after Swedish towns."
She felt conflicted. She didn't feel like she could betray these people, they made her feel safe, wanted for who she was.
"Uhm, no. They think you are someone they used to know. I doubt they want you for who you are."
"Well, she did say she was confused."
Contemplating her memories and whether or not to go through with her mission, the Senior-Sue fell asleep.
Over breakfast the Team decided to question the Sue about Project T. After all, Arthur had let that name drop some two weeks earlier. It was about time they found out what it was about. But the Sue could offer no help. She was startled when Face suggested it was all a little convenient that they found her.
"What? It only took them two weeks to figure out that if someone hires you to find their daughter, and the guy is suspect, but you go ahead with the job anyway and the girl turns out to be someone you last saw in a VC POW camp, there may be something fishy going on?"
"We may be dealing with an entirely different A-Team. It seems they never even called the police to get those people out of the attic of horrors," Tasmin said. "They just read in the paper that Arthur has set up shop on the other side of the state."
"Other side North-South or East-West? Assuming we're in California it's a valid question."
"In a world so warped that the A-Team does not free people chained to beds, but papers report these people have moved to a new location, California probably has entirely different dimensions and is hiding behind Canada, sneering at us."
The Team started badgering Senior-Sue with questions about Arthur because they needed her help to bring him down. The Sue got up and ran to her bedroom. Then she ran into the living room. Hannibal got up and left. The Sue talked a bit to Face about Hannibal and Face was sure he saw Junior-Sue in her. Hannibal came back into the room and he and the Sue argued about whether he thought she was a whore. The yelling scared Face so much he sought refuge in Murdock's arms.
Sofia fell with a thud back into the cage.
Allison crashed into the bars and got her head stuck. "What the bloody... What happened to smooth transitions?"
"There are no smooth transitions when there are no scene breaks." Tasmin fished the FLF from her duffel bag and changed the setting to manual. She slid down to the floor with her back against the bars.
"Oh yes, just relax, why don't you. Don't worry about your partner one bit." Allison tried to pull her head free.
Tasmin lazily glanced over to her. "There is a very easy way to get unstuck."
"Oh yeah? What's that?" Allison pulled on the bars.
"Distance between the bars isn't specified."
The gap between the bars became wider and Allison was able to free herself. Rubbing her neck, she sat down next to her partner. "So, did the Team get an upgrade or a downgrade from prison cell to cage?"
Tasmin shrugged. "Looks like Murdock has gone catatonic."
Murdock was sitting in a corner just staring blankly. Junior-Sue picked up a blanket and cooed at him. He let her wrap the blanket around him. She went to sit with Hannibal to talk about her torture.
No one here knew how old she really was, after everything she'd done to be in here, they thought much older. Hannibal and the Team knew she had lost her parents, and that she had led the rebellion, but much about her was a mystery.
"A rebellion is a group of people that act up in violence or open resistance against an established government," Tasmin lectured. "A resistance is a group of people acting against an occupying government. If this story is set after June 1969, when the VC set up a provisional government of South Vietnam, the Sue might have been able to pull off the term resistance. But that was more a government in exile and the government of South Vietnam was also still in office. It wouldn't stick where I'm concerned. No, technically, in South Vietnam, the Vietcong is the rebellion. Another clue this Sue is an agent for the VC."
"Could she be forming a rebellion in North Vietnam?"
"Whatever for? That would have her get caught by the North Vietnamese, and not put her in touch with the A-Team."
Hannibal was shocked to hear the Sue was not yet sixteen.
"Is his attention directed at the wrong details or what?" Allison asked.
"I think I see an explanation for that problem. Look at what he said in response."
"So, the VC have tried to beat British into him too. More successfully, I might add. I don't see how that's an explanation. Other than that he seems to have brain damage." Allison glared at her partner who seemed to have a private chuckle.
Hannibal needed to think it over for a bit, but decided he was not going to let her young age bother him.
"No, not when that should be the least of your concerns." Tasmin shook her head. "Hey, want to go back to the 80s? Senior-Sue's gonna drug the Team."
"I think I'd prefer to stay here. It's nice and quiet now."
"Sure. We'll just read the Words."
Senior-Sue was stirring sleeping powder into the custard when Hannibal came home. She was very nervous and near tears when Hannibal entered. She pulled away from him.
Hannibal watched as she reached for the pan on the stove, picking it up and moving with it towards the stove. The pan was in danger of being dropped, her whole body was shaking with tears; Hannibal slipped his arms around her waist, trying to pull her towards him.
"Yeah, like that's going to help with a pan."
The pan ended up back on the stove, and fighting off Hannibal's caring arms, the Sue and Hannibal ended up sitting on the floor. Senior-Sue said something that struck Hannibal as odd. Then the custard overcooked.
Seeing that they could at least save some of it, he tasted the liquid, pulling a dish from the cupboard. It tasted odd, and he took another mouthful, maybe the milk was off? Then it clicked. It was drugged. He turned to look at the traitorous bitch.
"Hannibal doesn't do small doses, does he? Taking mouthfuls of a substance that's boiling hot and tastes off."
"What did you expect? He's probably still suffering neural damage from all the torture he underwent here."
"But when he finally jumped to a conclusion he did realise treason was involved, and not that he accidentally ate BA's porridge."
When the rest of the Team came home the kitchen was a mess and in the Sue's room the phone was off the hook. BA put the horn to his ear.
'To repeat this message press one.' The female operators voce was light, chatty.
"There's an I in voice, an apostrophe in a possessive, and no need for an operator if the messaging service has keystroke response."
"You'd think that at least the last one was self-evident."
"Unless the computer was built by Thermians. Then there's only one person that can tell the computer what to do."
The message was from Arthur. He threatened to expose Senior-Sue if she did not bring him the Team. Face instructed the others to pack their bags. They were leaving.
"Is it too much to hope that they take a hint and think that the Sue has taken Hannibal to wherever she went? And that the rest will go and find him?"
"At this moment I wouldn't be surprised either way."
Senior-Sue had taken Hannibal to Arthur's new brothel, though whether she had taken a taxi or Arthur had sent for a car remained undisclosed. Arthur saw to it that the Sue tied Hannibal to a bed while he himself contemplated his plans to make the Team part of his stars and studs for hire collection. He was very pleased with himself and the way things had gone.
Allison raised a hand.
"Arthur's not a very good strategist. If he had competent guards at the beginning of this story, he would have been able to capture all of the A-Team at once, and not go through all this nonsense of feeding the Sue memories that are hers or fake or whatever, and end up with only one of the Team."
"Very good. You may charge him with that later."
"Really, charge Arthur? Isn't his stupidity Sue-induced?"
"The stupidity of the extras is always Sue-induced, but they are still chargeable offences. And it's not like Arthur is fighting particularly hard against them."
'It's ok, we'll wait until tomorrow when they've made a plan. Everything will be ok then.'
"See? He's actually going to wait for the Team to come up with a plan first." Tasmin shook her head. "And he claims to have done research on the Team."
The door of the cage the agents shared with the Team and the Sue was yanked open. All the prisoners were taken from their cages and Allison and Tasmin followed. The guards seemed to be upset because someone had stolen some food. They singled one man out and whipped him. When that didn't result in any confessions they let him go and turned to the next group.
The next moment found Hannibal's cell brought to their knees.
"Suddenly I think it wasn't such a good idea to stay at the POW camp after all," Allison said, kneeling next to Tasmin.
"Relax, we'll be fine. We're not of importance in this story."
Hannibal and BA were picked up and restrained as the head guard went along the line to threaten and accuse. Face was deemed too ill for the crime and thrown roughly to the ground. Murdock decided to confess. Junior-Sue yelled at him he shouldn't. She was pulled up by the hair.
Getting her aim perfect she got him full in the eye. More weapons became trained on her as he wiped his face. Behind her she heard BA and Hannibal get released and they rushed over to Face.
Allison and Tasmin took their chance and slowly backed away from the scuffle. "I think this is the first time that I'm grateful that in a 500-yard radius around a Sue all guards are incompetent."
The guards all wanted to take a punch at the Sue and none of the Team or any of the other prisoners took any interest.
"A bit ought, don't you think? The Sue was always offering to take punches for everyone, but now people can step in to take a punch for her, no one does."
"I guess everyone has finally realized she's an agent of the VC."
While the Sue rolled into a ball to lick her wounds, the story switched back to the 80s, where Face, Murdock and BA tried to scam their way into Arthur's office. The scam consisted of Face and Murdock quarrelling and BA using the resulting scuffle to enter the office unnoticed. In a secret cabinet BA found a pile of folders, stuffed all of them in a briefcase and rushed back out.
In a motel the three men studied the documents and were astounded at what they found.
"Why were they looking for documents in Arthur's office if they didn't think there would be anything worthwhile in there?"
Tasmin threw her partner a questioning look. "After all we've been through in this fic and others, do you still need to ask? The Team goes into the office to find documents because Arthur's a businessman and businessmen always have documents. Although I can't imagine what you'd need to expose a businessman that, according to the papers, just moved his brothel."
The information fell into three sections. The first section contained everything about the A-Team, but mainly their time at the POW camp. The second section was about the Sue. The third section contained forged documents and newspaper articles about the death of the Sue's parents and copies of documents from the other two sections.
"Most be bad forgeries if they can tell at a glance that they are fakes."
"Well, the Team are of course able to tell which documents tell lies about them and which don't."
Allison bobbed her head from left to right.
Meanwhile Senior-Sue decided that it was time to rescue Hannibal. She took out the guard by his door and two well-placed kicks to the chest and face of a man about BA's size unexpectedly took care off him. She then started to undo Hannibal's restraints. A third man came in and attacked the Sue, but just before he could kill the Sue, Hannibal distracted him by tapping him on the shoulder and punching his lights out. Hannibal then proceeded to move the two men out the room and barricaded himself and the Sue in.
"Why is he not making a run for the door?" Allison said incredulously. "He's encountered Arthur's guards before. He ought to remember they're about as useless as a chocolate teapot. He'd probably meet no resistance at all if he casually draped the Sue over his shoulder."
"Everybody behaves stupidly around Sues. Everybody."
Allison shrugged. She looked around. The action had picked up again at the POW camp. "How long before we charge the Sues? This one just got her hands tied together and hung over a hook above her head and she still manages to rub her neck."
"Oh, is that the infamous scene where Hannibal is forced to torture the Sue?" Tasmin jumped up excitedly and peered around the camp to find the torture cell.
"He didn't take much persuasion. Someone held a knife to Murdock's throat and Hannibal didn't even test their bluff."
"He's been around here longer than we have."
"Which brings me back to my original question: how much longer will we be here?"
Tasmin ignored her. "Hannibal is showing unusual relish in this torture."
"Just dealing with a Sue the way she's supposed to be dealt with."
Tasmin turned to her partner. "Not even we would deal with a Sue this way. I know hardly any agents who'd enjoy torture this much, and we know she's a Sue. To Hannibal, she's a teenage girl. And he has become some kind of machine. They tell him to hit her, and though he shows remorse before the first blow, he keeps on hitting her until they tell him to stop. It's like Hannibal is some kind of machine." Tasmin had turned back to look at the scene in the cell. "A torture machine."
"Note taken," Allison said. She was a little squeamish and trying to look pretty much anywhere else in the camp. Not that there was much to look at; the Sue had been decidedly unclear about what the compound looked like, how many cages and cells there were or even how many guards and prisoners there were. The Sue may have simply not known herself, being locked in a cage all the time, Allison decided.
A gunshot made Allison jump. "What was that? Did they fake shoot the Sue already?"
"No, Hannibal didn't start his next 'assignment' quick enough, so someone shot the wall Murdock's leaning against to spur him on. Did we charge the Sue already with changing epithets? She keeps switching from HM to Murdock in this scene. And she calls Hannibal John."
"I think that one's iffy. Perhaps she feels more comfortable calling Hannibal John."
"No one calls Hannibal John. Particularly not people that are on friendly terms with him."
"Are you now arguing for the charge of name calling or giving further evidence that she is an agent of the VC?"
Tasmin cocked her head and looked at her partner. She squinted. "Both," she decided.
"Of course you do." Allison scribbled on her pad.
"What's going on there?" Tasmin pointed at the Words.
Senior-Sue and Hannibal were having a conversation about the last time they saw each other in Vietnam, and he tortured her within an inch of her life. He feels bad about that, she forgives him, and they end up in a passionate kiss.
"I think ten years of guilt and remorse just don't stand up against a good cock-teaser." Allison grabbed her partner by her sleeve and pulled her closer. "I'm not sure how much more of that kind of nonsense I can take without starting to hurt someone. So I repeat my question: how much longer?"
"I guess we can pick off Junior-Sue in the next flashback. I doubt she's going to add much more stupidity to the charge list." Tasmin delicately removed her sleeve from Allison's hand. "But I still would like to know how the Team is going to rescue Senior-Sue and Hannibal from that brothel."
"They go in without a plan and manage to not get killed on the way out. Same thing as last time."
It started to rain and Allison shivered.
It was raining in ‘Nam, and the prisoners were being held in the river, temporary walls of reed and other fragile materials.
"She did not just make it rain all over a country that is nearly 130 thousand square miles in area and measures 1000 miles north to south."
Allison shrugged. "That's what the weather is like in England." She pulled up the collar of her jacket to keep the water from leaking onto her skin.
"I think it's time to charge." Tasmin pulled her duffel bag closer and pulled a disguise generator from it. She gave herself and Allison VC disguises, which were also rapidly soaked.
The agents walked over to the river. Junior-Sue was asking Hannibal what was going to happen to her once they were out of the POW camp.
‘I’m not gonna see you guys again am I? I mean, you guys not only wouldn’t want a teenager around; you simply can’t.’ Sofia sounded a touch hurt, but mostly she sounded consigned to the fact; accepting. ‘I’d be a risk, and God knows the Army can’t put me up.’ Sofia paused a second, waiting for a response, but none came, and she continued.
‘I’ve got no one left now. No where to stay, no where to put me. I can’t go to an orphanage, I’m too old for that, and I wouldn’t be able to fit quite in. No one would want to adopt a damaged 16 year old born, bred and tortured in Vietnam.’
"She's born of American parents. That makes her an American. Doesn't the US government take care of its own?"
"Of course, but not if they consort with the enemy, but I'm sure the CIA would like to have a word with her about that. So, she'd definitely got somewhere to stay."
The Sue related some pop psychology about no one back home being able to understand what the tortured soldiers had gone through. She explained to Hannibal that she had done what she did because she liked the Team and they needed someone to take care of them.
"She's like their guardian angel." Allison said with a smirk. "Yet, she could not protect them against gross character disruptions."
‘Sofia, we’ll find a way...’ Hannibal was silenced by the approaching VC, and feeling their approach was just possibly one of their worst timings. Hoping that he would be able to talk to her later, Hannibal fell into silence looking at Sofia. Sofia couldn’t read the face that had just gone blank, and Sofia felt hurt, but didn’t have a chance to ask him or even think about it, because they had come for her.
Tasmin trained her Colt M1911 on the Sue and commanded her in Vietnamese to come out of the river. Allison tugged at the Sue's arm, but she did not come easily. More dragging than escorting the Sue, the agents took her to the torture cell where at least they would have a roof over their heads.
"Recognize this place?" Tasmin bit at Junior-Sue.
The Sue spat at her.
"I'll take that as a yes."
Allison gave a nod to Murdock who was sitting in catatonic state in a corner of the cell. "I'm not liking that much."
"He won't notice a thing of what is going on here. Start charging."
"Sofia Pinedale, civilian, we are Protectors of the Plot Continuum and we are here to charge you with crimes against fanfiction in general and A-Team in particular." Allison shivered. "First, we charge you with making it rain all over Vietnam. Second, we charge you with being a woman, a girl in a prisoner of war camp. Third, we charge you with being an agent for the Vietcong."
"You what? Have you been paying attention? The VC tortured me. They wouldn't if I was one of their own."
"I'm not going to debate that last point, but the points in favour of being an agent are..." Allison counted them out with a show of fingers. "A woman getting tortured instead of one of the Team can actually aid in breaking their spirits. Taking Face's place in torture was thus not helping him, but helping the VC. You said you were part of the rebellion while the VC itself should be considered the rebellion. Plus Tasmin here thinks you're a VC because you don't call the Team by their nicknames but by their given names."
"Again, not a point I'm going to debate. What is ridiculous, however, is that torture here seems to make Americans start to talk in British slang. Blimey says the Limey, not the Yank. What is ridiculous is that you handle being tortured better than Face or Murdock. What is ridiculous is that Hannibal treats you as an equal. What is ridiculous is when the guards let go of BA and Hannibal and all started pounding in on you, BA and Hannibal didn't come to your aid."
"I guess they were on to you," Tasmin added with an evil grin.
"Those are all charges by the way. Further we charge you with turning Face into a weak, sobbing mess. We charge you with turning Murdock catatonic; his brand of crazy is alternative personalities. We charge you with turning Hannibal into a torture machine. He needed only minimal encouragement to torture you a lot." Allison chuckled. "I also think he was on to you."
"And we charge you with Hannibal's objection to raping you was that you were a virgin. Hannibal's objection should have been that it was rape."
"I think that's about it." Allison flicked back and forth between the pages of her notepad and scanned it for further charges against Junior-Sue. "Oh, here's one more: unusual elasticity of limbs. In short we charge you with being a Mary Sue and disrupting canon. Your punishment is death. Tasmin will shoot you now. For real."
Tasmin shot the Sue through the head. As soon as her body hit the ground, the soft trickle of rain on the roof that had formed the background music to the charging stopped.
"What's going to happen to the Team now?"
"As usual, they are going to forget the Sue was ever here."
"Of course. What I meant was: what's going to happen to the Team that's future to this situation? They don't have the Sue as a motivator any more."
"Not their Vietnam memories of her, but there are still the memories that they rescued her and that she kidnapped Hannibal. So it's not like killing Junior-Sue is going to reset everything. That's why we have to dispose of both of them."
"Let's get to it then."
"First, we have to throw that Sue in the incinerator. Grab her legs." Tasmin pulled the Remote Activator from her duffel bag.
When Tasmin and Allison returned to the fic, they took up a room in the house of horrors and followed the proceedings of the story through the Words.
The afternoon wore on, and Face and the others had no leads, and no idea where to start looking.
"Seriously? They think the Sue took Hannibal; they think the Sue is working for Arthur; and they read in the paper that Arthur has set up shop on the other side of town, or state. How many more clues do they need to come here and start shooting the place up?"
Tasmin frowned at her partner. Her eyes gestured towards the notepad.
"Yes, well, if I wrote up every instance of stupidity by someone on the Team in this fic, I would get writer's cramp."
Face pointed out to the others that they needed to find out where Hannibal was and whether or not the Sue should be rescued too. BA argued that they left no one behind. The phone in the van rang. It was the Sue. Face told her they knew she was set up. She was relieved and told them when and where to meet her at Arthur's brothel. Hannibal would explain the rest of the plan once they were inside. Then the Sue disconnected.
Allison held up her hand as if to collect on a bet. "Told you they would be going in without a plan."
The Sue had broken into Arthur's office -- apparently a different one than the Team had visited earlier that day -- and was rummaging through his cabinets and drawers to find his bookkeeping. She too found a secret drawer. In it she found lists with names of people that worked or used to work for Arthur. There was a noise at the door, someone trying to get into the office, and the Sue hid behind a curtain. She was saved from being found out by a ringing telephone.
The Sue overheard the phone conversation; Arthur wanted to be picked up from the airport and the Sue was to be killed. When the guard left the office, the Sue went out the window and shimmied up the drainpipe back to the attic. In the attic, Hannibal was having an argument with one of the other 'residents'. The Sue pulled them apart. The man called Hannibal on bad strategies; Hannibal argued that his plans always came through.
‘Not from what I heard. Word in the military is that you’re a renegade, a man whose plan’s never work the way they should.’
"Word in the military is that his plans don't work right? Even if they are still talking about a man that escaped a military prison some ten years ago, they would be talking about that fact, or what he had done to be thrown into the brig." Tasmin grabbed the notepad from Allison. "And his nickname is Hannibal, after one of the most talented commanders in history. They don't give higher ranking officers ironic nicknames, at least not if they are going to mention those nicknames to their faces."
"Plus he never would have made it to the rank of lieutenant colonel if he never got the desired result."
"One word: Lynch." Tasmin flicked the notepad back at Allison, who just managed to catch it.
The Sue deflected the argument and asked Hannibal how many weapons they needed so she could tell Tem.
"She's also not calling them by their proper nicknames. Well, Murdock and Face she isn't."
Hannibal decided that only the military people who were capable of shooting would get a gun. The rest would stay with the Sue in the attic while the A-Team and the five from the military liberated the brothel. Hannibal told the Sue she couldn't have a gun either. She accepted this and went back down to meet the Team.
The Sue undid the top button of her blouse and tousled up her hair. Then she went into the guardhouse. There were three guards in the little house already, and three more entered shortly after she did. They asked her what she was doing out there.
I thought you might wanna have a bit of feminine company.
"She should have sent in fanon!Face," Tasmin growled. "I'm more masculine than he is."
One of the men hit the Sue and pinned her down to the table. The Team arrived and the guards jumped up to take them down. The one pinning the Sue down was so distracted ordering everyone around that he did not notice the Sue was fumbling for his crotch and his gun until she pointed the latter item at his groin. He called off the other men.
The guards were in awe of BA and quickly overpowered. The Team took their guns and locked them in the guardhouse.
That made four in total from their loot.
"These guards are getting more incompetent by the minute; that's four guns from six guards. Usually it's the other way round."
"It's impossible to say whether these guards did not take enough guns with them, the Team didn't do a proper search, or the Sue just can't count."
"That last thing is obvious. She counts four confiscated guns, mentions that Hannibal wants six in total, and concludes that they need three more."
"To which none of the Team says, 'you don't count right', or, worse, 'let's get them from our stash in the van'."
"There, there now, Tasmin." Allison patted her partner on the back. "No need to get so frustrated. What do you think the odds are that there is a phone line in the guardhouse and the Team did not dismantle it or break the phone?"
"You're not helping me relax."
The Team and the Sue make their way through the shrubbery. The Sue tells them Arthur is on to her and that he will arrive in about ten minutes.
‘What?’ Face said tripping over his own feet as they moved on.
‘What’s the matter Facie? Getting slow in your old age?’ Murdock said in a teasing voice.
"This Sue is also not helping me relax. Did you leave any chocolate?"
Allison was well ahead of her and had dug out the last two bars of chocolate from the duffel bag.
"Face tripping over his own feet," Tasmin mumbled as she chewed on her chocolate. "Face being called Facie."
"At least the spelling is original."
Tasmin glared at her partner. Allison held out the last bar of chocolate to ward her off. Tasmin grabbed the bar and turned her eyes back to the Words.
Face slipped into the equivalent of a locker room. This was a large dining room converted into a dingy locker room.
Tasmin let out a scream. "I don't have the patience for this any more. The equivalent of a locker room? If it has lockers in it, it is a locker room. If it doesn't have lockers, but employees are required to change into their work clothes there and leave their clothes behind on pegs, then it's the equivalent of a locker room."
"We already knew that the Sue didn't use the dictionary to look up the meaning of words," Allison said in a soothing voice.
Tasmin ravished the chocolate.
There was a camera in the locker room, but it was not pointed at Face. He was able to stay out of its line of view until he got to it and disabled it. In the corner of the room there was an unlocked weapons cabinet, where the Team stocked up. The Sue filled them in on what little she knew of Hannibal's plan. The Team then proceeded to go up the stairs. They encountered a guard, but he was quickly unarmed and made prisoner.
Murdock entered a room. A little scuffle followed and the Team were now prisoners of Arthur. Hannibal was already tied down to the bedpost and Murdock, who had been knocked out, was tied down next to him. Face and BA were ushered to the side.
Allison put three thick lines underneath the charge that Arthur was a bad strategist.
Arthur explained that he had been on to the Sue. Then he had her tied to a pillar. The other people from the attic were huddled together in a corner, guarded by a person with a gun on the other side of the attic. Arthur then started to taunt the Team, and cut the Sue with a knife. He was shocked to find the Sue had stolen documents from his office and asked her why she was still helping the Team after all they had done to her.
‘My name is Sofia, as you well know. If you touch them I’ll break your neck.’
"An impressive threat, coming from someone tied to a pillar."
Arthur mocked the Sue and told her she'd have no place on the A-Team. Murdock regained consciousness and said she was a friend. BA called her his little sister and Face pointed out that the Sue would give up everything to protect them. Hannibal called her a guardian angel.
Tasmin buried her face in her hands. "Just a little bit longer," she muttered. "Just a little bit longer. The Team has to be out of the attic before we charge the Sue."
Murdock and the Sue started to wiggle themselves free from the ropes that bound them. Arthur put a knife to her throat again. The Sue freed herself from her bonds and banged her shoulder into Arthur's stomach. Some more bad fight choreography followed, but the Team won and left Arthur and the guards out of commission. The people that had been held captive in the attic cheered.
The Team decided to make things final, grabbed their guns and rushed down the stairs.
The moment they had passed the door to their room, Tasmin jumped up, grabbed her duffel bag and ran up the stairs to the attic. Allison was right behind her.
The Sue was holding a gun and pointing it at the guards. Tasmin shot it from her hands.
The Sue turned around and glared at her. "What ...?"
"Sofia Pinedale, a.k.a. Butterbee, we are Protectors of the Plot Continuum," Tasmin said, grim determination marking her face and voice. "We are here to charge you with crimes against fanfiction in general and A-Team canon in particular. Allison?"
The bit characters, guards and victims alike, just stared at the two agents. Even the few of them that had a gun did not intervene. Without the Sue telling them what to do they did nothing.
"First, we charge you with crimes against punctuation and grammar. We also charge you with using words you don't know the meaning of. Second, we charge you with a whole bunch of stuff the Team would never ever do, but under your influence they did. You have been charged."
Tasmin took her eyes off the Sue to glare at her partner.
"What? I thought you wanted to get this over with quickly."
"Quickly and properly. Just talk fast."
"All right." With a sigh Allison started flicking through the pages of the notepad that contained the particular charges against this Sue. "Charge Two A, the Team are all living together to make it easier for the military to arrest them. Two B, the Team takes on a dubious mission. Two C, they stake out the place for two weeks. Two D, they go in without a plan. Two E, they only rescue you while there are plenty more people that can be rescued."
"What?" one of the men said. "They were here before and didn't free us? They only rescued us now because one of their own was captured? Those--"
"Thanks, but I'm not finished yet. Two F, they keep you and take care of you for two weeks. Two G, they don't think this is in the least bit fishy, at least not for longer than thirty seconds. Two H, the Team fails at putting two and two together when Hannibal is kidnapped. Two I, scamming a way into Arthur's uptown office for no particular reason. Two J, going into Arthur's brothel without a plan a second time." Allison looked up at the Sue. "Although, I appreciate all this going in with only a goal, ill-prepared and lacking an exit-strategy, as a pastiche of US military strategies of the past five decades."
The Sue returned a glassy look.
"That's just charges against the Team as a whole. Charges against individual members: Two K, Face scamming bad living quarters. Two L, Face tripping over his own feet. Two M, Murdock calling Face Facie. Two N, Hannibal worrying about the age gap between the two of you rather than worrying about the fact he had tortured and raped you. Two O, Hannibal feeling bad about having raped a virgin, rather than about having raped a person. Two P, after knocking out a few guards and some other guy, Hannibal locks the two of you in a room, rather than running the hell out of this place. Two R through Z, Face and Murdock in a romantic relationship for no particular reason.
"Having run out the alphabet, I will now move on to a different set of charges. Third, we charge you with being a Mary Sue. Three A, you made the A-Team behave stupidly and out of character, as mentioned above. Three B, you get enough leverage jumping out of a wet bath to knock down a man that outweighs you by at least thirty pounds. Three C, knowing the Team came to rescue you even though you were unconscious. No wait, that's a charge under Two; Two some letter, the Team not being suspicious of you. This one is for you, Three C, bad sensual scenes with Hannibal and you playing a piano piece together and you applying his make-up. And what was that Lobby Clown thing all about?
"Three D, managing to take out a guy that is BA's size with a couple of kicks in not very vulnerable places. Three E, using idiotic and improbable plot devices, to wit: placing a woman in the same POW camp as the Team; trying to capture four men by luring them to a place from which you let them escape, then kidnapping one of them so the rest can be lured back to the place so they all can be caught." Allison looked up at the Sue again. "That could have been simpler."
The Sue squinted at the agent and crossed her arms. "Anything else?"
"Some bad fight choreography, but that's about it. Do you understand these charges? And don't think too long about the answer; Tasmin's a bit impatient today. Your punishment is death and she wants to execute you."
Before the Sue could make a comment, Tasmin had shot her.
"Right." Allison turned to Arthur who turned slightly pale. "As you may have noticed, Arthur Hammerstein, I did not charge her with the guards being incompetent, as in they searched all visitors to the premises, but let the Team just pass through; guards not being able to tie nods properly, allowing people to escape from them. Those charges we saved for you. Further, we charge you with coming up with one of the daftest plans ever to catch the Team. You had them on your grounds the first time. Why didn't you catch them then? Or were you counting on your guards being incompetent and being given the slip? No need to answer that, we're not interested. We only want to charge and execute you.
"Let's see, what else have we got for you...? Having two offices which both have secret drawers where you keep incriminating documents. Personally, I would have either filed the one with the fake memories for the Sue under fiction or destroyed it. Ever heard of the concept 'hide in plain sight'?"
Arthur opened his mouth to speak, but he was cut off by a shot through the head.
"You're supposed to wait until I've finished charging."
"I was just trying to hurry things along. It was not like there was anything big coming any more."
"A couple of charges that he did things that are listed as things not to do on the Evil Overlord list." Allison surveyed the room. Guards and victims were all staring at her. "How many of you have had speaking parts in this fic?"
Two men hesitantly raised their hands. All the other bit characters vanished from the attic.
Allison gave them an apologetic grin. "Sorry about that."
Tasmin shot them too. "That's that," she said, returning her gun to the duffel bag. "That wasn't too much trouble, now was it?"
Allison looked at her in astonishment. "Have you been paying attention to yourself for like the last half-hour?"
"What's done is done." Tasmin pulled the Remote Activator from the duffel bag and opened a portal.
"Did this fic perhaps damage your short-term memory?" Allison asked as she followed her partner through the portal. "And if it did, where do I get me one of those?"