KICKOFF - "CLEAR FOR ACTION"

"Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards. - Alberto Salazar


*****

He checked his weapon and slung it over his shoulder, moving calmly down the path toward the chopper, nodding briefly as he passed BA.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The other men on their team were already waiting at the field. Smoking, talking, joking around. Calm.

The Lord is with thee.

He checked out the new guys' equipment. Nothing they didn't need, only what was necessary.

Blessed art thou among women...

He grinned as BA joined the group and the new guys moved back. BA's rep traveled fast.

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

He got last-minute instructions from the colonel. Nothing really important or necessary. Not in itself.

Holy Mary, Mother of God...

He finally climbed aboard. The new guys were looking a little pale. He smiled at them.

Pray for us sinners...

The chopper took off, Murdock's yell barely heard above the din. He smiled, closed his eyes.

Now...

It seemed only seconds before the chopper was descending. Just enough room to land. He took one last look at the blue sky around them. One last, long look.

...and at the hour of our death.