Wolf's Bane

By Thalia Drogna

This story can also be found at www.airwolf.org

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, I'm just borrowing them.

Chapter 1:

It was the kind of day that made Stringfellow Hawke forget his problems and think about fishing on the lake. The sun was rising over the mountains and it promised to be a clear and beautiful day. Hawke's dog, Tet, had recognised his mood when he got up that morning and was waiting patiently by the door for his master to grab his fishing gear and get out on to Eagle Lake.

Hawke was pulling on his shirt whilst finishing a mouthful of toast when he caught the disturbance in the air that meant he would have company. His friend, Dominic had often teased him about his sensitive hearing and his supposed sixth sense for the arrival of a helicopter at the lake, but the warning it gave him often proved useful. Hawke was not expecting any guests this morning and it would be unlikely that Dominic would visit him so early. That left only one person and when a white helicopter landed beside the lake he knew that his intuition had been correct. He moved into the kitchen area and put on a fresh pot of coffee.

Knowing that the door was always unlocked, Michael Archangel didn't bother knocking, but breezed in followed by his shadow, Marella. Both were dressed completely in white, which was the uniform of the section that Michael headed up at the Firm. The only part of Michael's dress that was not white was the black left lens of his glasses and it stood out starkly against his otherwise perfectly white well-tailored suit. He walked with a confident step and it was only the cane that he carried which belied the fact that his leg was badly injured. Marella wore a white flight suit and was not only Michael's pilot but was also his closest aide.

"You're too late for breakfast, Michael," said Hawke.

"I didn't come all the way up here for breakfast with you, Hawke," replied Michael, with a slight tone of annoyance in his voice.

"Why did you come up here, Michael? Its got to be important if you want help from Airwolf, so spit it out." Hawke, poured black, treacle coloured coffee into three mugs and brought them over to the coffee table. He waited while Archangel sat in an armchair before taking his own seat. Marella hovered by her boss's left side. Michael fingered his moustache and Hawke got the impression that he wasn't going to like whatever it was that Michael had come to say, but then he very rarely did.

Marella spoke. "Three hours ago we received a dispatch from an agent in East Germany that Dr Franz Mannen had escaped from prison within the Soviet Bloc. Dr Mannen was responsible for the development of some of the most deadly biological weapons that the Soviets have ever created. He was arrested some months ago after "testing" a new biological agent on a fellow scientist. The East Germans called it murder."

"Even the East Germans will only go so far," said Archangel.

"He has been put on the KGB wanted list and." began Marella, but Hawke interrupted.

"Okay, so the Soviets have a mad scientist on the loose, what has that got to do with me?"

Marella sighed, gave Archangel a sideways look and sat down on the sofa.

"Dr Mannen was a friend of Charles Moffet." Said Archangel.

"Moffet?" said Hawke. "How did an East German scientist meet Moffet?"

"They both studied at Cambridge for a period. At that point Mannen hadn't made his allegiances clear, he'd been living in West Germany with his mother, his father lived in East Germany. We're not sure when he crossed over, but he corresponded with Moffet for years after they left Cambridge. I would assume that they saw something in each other that they recognised. Franz Mannen is also a first class pilot."

Hawke looked down at his coffee and scowled. He was unwilling to confront the thoughts and emotions that hearing the name of Moffet had re-awakened.

Archangel continued "They may even have met again in later years." He leant towards Hawke slightly with his hands clasped over the handle of his walking stick. "There is a very good chance that Mannen knows about Airwolf."

Hawke looked up at Archangel.

"The last information that we have on his whereabouts suggests that he was heading for the United States," added Marella, "we have to assume that he is coming for Airwolf."

Airwolf was probably the most hi-tech helicopter in the western world and currently it was in Hawke's care, much to the annoyance of Archangel and the Firm. She was a black painted, stealth equipped, armour plated, flying gunship, and Hawke's main complication in his life. Hawke would not let Airwolf be taken from him.

"I want your guarantee, Hawke, that you won't take Airwolf out, from wherever you have it hidden, until we have Mannen safely on his way back to East Germany," said Archangel, looking Hawke straight in the eye.

Hawke held Archangel's stare. "You'd better be being straight with me, Michael. The Firm has had its reasons for keeping Airwolf on the ground before now and they have nothing to do with any East German scientist"

"Damn it, Hawke!" said Archangel, exasperated he rose from the chair pushing his walking stick into the floor as if it was his source of annoyance. "I don't need to remind you that Moffet has caused us trouble from beyond the grave before. I don't want Airwolf to fall into the hands of anyone like Mannen. I'm concerned for Airwolf's safety!"

"Sure you are, Michael," replied Hawke, not satisfied by Archangel's explanation. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going fishing." He rose from his seat and grabbed his fishing rod from beside the door.

"He's telling the truth," added Marella, more calmly then her boss.

"He'd better be," said Hawke, opening the door and stepping out onto the porch. "He'd better be," he said more quietly to himself as he strode towards the boat moored on the end of the jetty. Five minutes later the white helicopter started its engines and lifted off, heading towards Michael Archangel's next rendezvous.

In the helicopter Marella looked at her boss. "Will he do it?" she asked.

"Maybe, depends on whether he believed us," said Archangel. "He's stubborn and if we're right." Michael shook his head. After everything that he and Hawke had been through he would have thought that Hawke would have trusted him on this. But with a man like Hawke, you had to go a long way to earn his trust.

"We could loose Airwolf," Marella finished Archangel's sentence.

"You left the file?" Archangel asked.

"Yes," replied Marella.

"Good," said Archangel and settled back in his seat.

Determined not to let his day's fishing be ruined by Archangel's visit, Hawke stayed on the lake longer than he would have normally. It was only when the air began to turn cold that he realised he had spent the whole day sitting in the boat. He had caught some fish early in the day but later his mind had wandered away from the task at hand and to the past, to Gabrielle. She had been murdered by Moffet whilst Hawke was pulling Airwolf out of enemy hands and once again he had lost someone close to him. He knew that if he had arrived earlier he might have saved her. But Michael should never have put her in that sort of danger, Hawke told himself. The helicopter, no matter how special it was, could not replace Gabrielle. Although Gabrielle had also been determined to help recover Airwolf and she wasn't the kind of woman Hawke could leave at home and expect to be happy. That was why he had liked her when they had first met, she wasn't like Archangel's other employees, she had a sparkle that his other female companions had never had. He felt the great sadness of loosing her rise within him and he pushed it back down deep inside.

Tet greeted him at the edge of the lake, looking at him hopefully and he shook off all thoughts of the past. Time to think about the present and his hungry dog. He tied up the boat on the wooden jetty and went in to cook his fish for supper. It was only when he sat down later that evening that he noticed the file on the bar. The label on the file said "Wolf's Bane". Damn you, Archangel, he thought, why do you always have to get your own way. He knew Archangel would never leave it there by mistake, but if Archangel wanted him to know something. Hawke picked up the file, poured himself a second glass of wine and settled down to read.

When he had finished he knew why Archangel was so worried about this man, Mannen. He also knew why Archangel had left the file for him to read and it chilled him to the bone.

Dominic Santini was not an early riser, and was not surprised when he arrived in the hangar of Santini Air that morning to find Hawke already working on the chopper that was in for routine maintenance. A muffled "hey, Dom," emanated from inside the engine compartment, letting him know that he had been spotted.

"Hey, String, how's it going?" asked Dom.

Hawke pulled himself up straight for a moment, "fine, couple of worn couplings, that's all."

"Caitlin in yet?" asked Dom.

"Haven't seen her," replied Hawke. "Listen, Dom, I had a visit from Archangel yesterday."

"Uh oh," said Dom, "I know that tone, we've got one of those crazy jobs on for Mr. Clean, haven't we?"

"Sort of, he asked me not to take The Lady up for a while."

"What! Why? And how is it any of his business?" said Dominic, gesticulating wildly.

"He has his reasons," replied Hawke.

"He always does," said Dominic, in a resigned tone. "But does that mean that we have to jump when he says so?"

"On this occasion I think he's right."

"Morning Fellas!" shouted Caitlin from across the hangar. "Isn't it a beautiful day for flying?" Hawke sighed and looked at Dominic.

"Do you always have to be so cheerful in the mornings?" asked Dominic.

"On a morning like this, sure I do," replied Caitlin. Then she noticed their faces. "What's up?"

"Not us," said Dominic, "and that's for sure."

"What are you talking about? Are you talking about Airwolf?" asked Caitlin, her eyes getting wider.

"Shhh, not so loud," said Dominic. "Let's go into the office."

The three of them moved into the small office at the side of the hangar and Hawke shut the door behind them. He picked a corner of the desk, sat down and gave Dominic and Caitlin the gist of the conversation he had had with Archangel the day before. "Archangel also left behind a file on Mannen," he finished.

"Left behind?" said Caitlin, "I can't believe Archangel would ever leave anything behind by mistake."

"Neither can I," agreed Hawke and Dominic nodded sagely from the corner. "I read it. He left it behind because it gives details of Mannen's involvement with the NVA's weapons programme. Mannen was doing research into producing a biological weapon for use by the North Vietnamese and he was testing it on American prisoners of war."

"Oh, Hawke," said Caitlin, putting a hand to her mouth, obviously shocked.

"String, you can't think that that's true?" said Dominic. "It would have come out by now if that had happened. I know that bad stuff went on over there but the North never had those sort of resources. Its just propaganda, to throw you off, you know."

"Dom, I don't know what to think. All I know is that St. John may have been one of those prisoners and I have to follow this lead."

Hawke looked up at his mentor and Dominic knew that he could not dissuade his friend when he was in this frame of mind. Where Hawke's brother was concerned, reason could not compete with family ties.

"Okay, so we have to find this Mannen guy," said Caitlin, "where do we start?" Even though she had left the police force some time ago, Hawke, could still see the detective instinct in her.

"Yeah, I bet Archangel didn't leave you without anything to go on," said Dominic.

"No, he didn't" said Hawke.

Hawke stood outside a small house in the suburbs, it had a perfect green lawn and a white picket fence. No one would have suspected that an East German defector lived there, he guessed that the Firm looked after its sources. He swung back the gate, strode up the path and rang the doorbell. He stood on the porch with his aviator sunglasses in his hand, waiting to find out what kind of woman would have married Dr Mannen.

The door opened, and Hawke was greeted by a gaunt middle aged woman, about 5' 3" with dark hair and tired dark eyes. "Yes?" said the woman, her German accent audible even in that single word.

"Dr Denheim?" asked Hawke. The woman nodded. "I'm Stringfellow Hawke, I need to talk to you about Dr Franz Mannen."

"Archangel said you might call. Come in Mr Hawke."

Hawke hesitated but followed her into the house. Dr Eva Denheim had a comfortable home, she made coffee for Hawke and then sat looking at him, waiting for him to ask his questions. Hawke had the feeling that she had done this before, possibly even for Archangel.

"You know that Dr Mannen escaped from an East German prison two days ago?"

"Yes, Archangel called yesterday to let me know. He believed that Franz was on his way to America. I don't think that he is coming for the famous apple pie, Mr Hawke."

"No Ma'am, I don't think he is."

"I met him at the government laboratory that we both worked at. I was working on counter agents, antidotes to Franz's weapons. He was very exciting, a very interesting man. He hid his true nature from me; I had no idea who he really was. Until he killed Dr Berghof." she covered her eyes and took a long deep breath. "I defected, and I never thought that I would see or hear of him ever again. It seems I underestimated him, Mr Hawke."

"Where do you think he is now?"

"I don't know. I can only guess. He had some friends who used to be in the East German military, they were fanatics and turned to terrorism. They were reported to be working in America most recently, Archangel can probably give you the details. They called themselves Kira's Army."

"Kira's Army?" asked Hawke.

"After Kira Krischkov, the head of a terrorist cell, executed by America for her crimes. If you can find them then I think you will find Mannen."

Hawke, Dominic and Caitlin sat in Archangel's office at the Firm's headquarters. Archangel had dimmed the lights and Marella had turned on a slide show.

"This is Kira's Army," said Archangel showing them a picture of four men and one woman. "Not much of an army," said Dominic. Archangel ignored him.

"Their leader is Alia Krischkov, Kira's sister. They've been bombing targets within the US for five years now and we have only just managed to catch up with them."

"So where are they now?" asked Caitlin.

"We tracked them to an abandoned warehouse," he nodded to Marella and she changed the slide. "Here," said Archangel pointing to a red dot on a map with his cane.

"There has been some coming and going in the past few days but no sign of Mannen," said Marella. "It looks like he hasn't made contact yet."

"Or he knows that his friends are being watched," said Hawke.

"Impossible," said Marella and began to cycle through some of the surveillance shots of the terrorists. "We've been discreet, they don't know that we're there."

"Then what is that?" said Hawke, and pointed to a small point of light in the window of the warehouse.

"A gun sight?" said Marella, "how could we have missed that?"

"That's not all you missed, I'm betting Mannen is already inside."

"What makes you think that, Hawke?" asked Archangel

"They've been playing you, Michael. They know you're watching them, they're staying there for a reason."

"What reason?" asked Archangel. "If they know we're watching them, then why haven't they moved on somewhere else?"

"I don't know, but I'd like to find out."

"You're talking about taking Airwolf in there? No, absolutely not. You'd be playing right into Mannen's hands." Archangel was emphatic. "He could have discussed anything with Moffet, we just don't know how much information he has on Airwolf. For all we know he could have some way of disabling Airwolf and he's leading us into a trap."

"I had considered that. Dom, Cait, we're leaving," said Hawke and turned to go.

"Look, if you're going in anyway, at least let Marella take a team in with you."

"That's your call, Michael. We'll be going in at oh five hundred" with that Hawke left.

"You sure this is the way you want to play it, String?" asked Dom when they were well out of Archangel's earshot.

"Archangel does have a point, you know," added Caitlin, "if Mannen wants Airwolf that badly maybe we shouldn't be waving it in front of him. This could be just what he wants."

"If you don't want to come then I'll go alone," said Hawke.

Caitlin gave Dominic a look that said it all. They both had their reservations about this mission, but neither of them would let Hawke go in alone.

"String, you know we didn't mean it that way," said Dom. "We're just concerned. Whenever there's chance that you might get some information on St. John you stop thinking with your head and start taking chances. We're just saying, is all."

"Dom, I've thought about it and we need to get Mannen. This is the best lead that we have."

"Sure, String but would it kill us to accept a little help from Marella," said Dominic.

"Yeah, it did seem like it might be a good idea to have a little back up on this one," added Caitlin.

"I guess not," said Hawke, resigned. At least he knew when he was beaten and the plan he had in mind would work a lot better with some extra man power. Ideally he wouldn't have used the Firm's men, but he didn't have the luxury of choice. "Okay, we'll do it your way."

Alia Krischkov stood on a metal walkway in the warehouse that they had made their base of operations. She looked down on the activity below her. Her troops were preparing themselves for the inevitable onslaught by the Firm agents, that much she knew was coming but she also knew that they wouldn't get much warning. Beside her stood Lorenz Richter, he was her second in command both now and when they had been part of the East German army.

"Well Lorenz," she said, "are we ready for Archangel and his dogs?"

"We are, yes." His tone told Alia that he had some reservations though.

"Is there a problem?" she asked.

"I don't like the fact that Mannen's vendetta is dictating our actions," said Richter.

"Mannen's vendetta is useful to us. If we can gain control of Airwolf then we can set our own agenda."

"If this Airwolf is as good as he says it is," replied Richter.

"It is," said Mannen approaching them along the walkway. "It may even have more capabilities than I'm aware of."

"I'm not convinced that it is worth exposing ourselves to attack in this way," said Richter.

"Mannen has convinced me," said Alia. "This is not a democracy, Lorenz."

"Are we sure that Archangel values the pilot enough for this to work?" said Richter.

"Archangel values assets that he can use. But Archangel isn't completely in control of Airwolf as far as I have been able to ascertain," replied Mannen. "If it was Archangel alone that we were dealing with then I have no doubt that we would fail."

Airwolf flew low over the terrain, keeping under the level of radar detection.

"Are we all clear on the plan?" asked Hawke.

"Yeah, sure, we run interference while you go in with Marella's team," said Dominic. "If any of them get away from you guys on the ground we hold them up long enough for you to get there."

"Caitlin?" asked Hawke. She was sitting in the back of the helicopter manning the computers.

"I find targets and Dom blasts them," she said.

Hawke raised an eyebrow under his helmet. "Yeah," he said, "just don't get carried away."

"Hawke!" she said, scornfully.

Hawke ignored Caitlin's complaint and concentrated on the helicopter, they were nearly at the rendezvous and he needed to stay sharp.

Marella was waiting for Airwolf with a team of agents in night combat gear. She had a mobile control centre rigged up in the back of a van. She would monitor the operations from there and direct the agents. Hawke was going to be an unknown quantity but she could adapt. Archangel had refused to stay away and was now pacing as best he could with his bad leg.

"Where are they?" said Archangel impatiently. Marella said nothing she knew it was a rhetorical question. As if on queue the sleek, black machine rose over the hill and landed near by. Hawke jumped out and ran across to the waiting Firm agents.

"Are we ready?" he asked.

"Yes," said Marella. "Hawke, you'll need one of these" and she passed him an ear piece, miniature microphone and battery pack, "so we can keep in contact with you."

Hawke put the ear piece in and attached the microphone to the collar of his flight suit, tucking the battery in his top pocket. He pulled his gun from its holster and checked the clip.

"This is the team you'll be working with. They have orders to capture Mannen and the terrorists," said Marella. "This should be a simple extraction. We have good information on their movements and the team have been thoroughly briefed, I suggest you let them do the initial sweep and you follow them in"

Hawke nodded, "and Airwolf creates a distraction once we're in."

"Right," said Marella, and strapped on her headset.

"Be careful down there Hawke, these are dangerous people," said Archangel.

"You don't have to tell me, Michael," replied Hawke. "Okay, let's go then."

The Firm's agents put in their own ear pieces and set off towards the warehouse, with Hawke slightly in front. The warehouse was completely dark and there was enough cover for them to reach the entrance without being seen by the sentries that were patrolling the perimeter. The Firm agents took out the sentries quietly and efficiently.

Hawke waited at the back entrance for the agents to finish with the sentries and then, holding his gun ready, he carefully opened the door and edged through. "I'm in," he muttered into the microphone. He heard the other agents check in. "Dom, you're up," he said and heard Dom acknowledge before all hell broke loose outside. The Firm had estimated that there were 6 gun emplacements around the compound and about 15 terrorists inside. It seemed that they had underestimated.

Hawke wasn't interested in the main battle, he was looking for one man. He moved into the building which was a maze of walkways and stairs. He headed up the nearest flight of stairs and towards the first floor. Two terrorists were guarding the stairs and Hawke ducked behind some oil drums before they were able to hit him, however he was now pinned down and every moment he wasted here was time that Mannen could use to escape. He stole a shot and managed to hit one of the terrorists but that left the other one. However, just then Airwolf hit a stock of the terrorists ammunition with her chain guns and created a huge explosion. The windows on one side of the building shattered and blew inwards towards where Hawke was hiding. Hawke hit the ground behind the oil drums and the terrorist who had him pinned tried to protect himself from the blast by sheltering around the corner of the stairwell, which brought him easily into Hawke's sights. Hawke pulled off another shot and the terrorist lay dead on the stairs.

Hawke moved on upwards. "Marella," shouted Hawke over the pretty much constant noise of gun fire. "Marella, do you have a position on Mannen?"

"Hawke, where are you?" replied Marella, she wished he would follow radio protocol, he was supposed to give them regular updates as to his position. "We think he is on the second floor." Archangel was sitting beside her listening in to everything and he looked worried.

Hawke crept up the stairs with his back to the wall, but most of the fighting seemed to be centred around the ground floor now. He reached the second floor without meeting any resistance and pushed open the fire door at the top of the stairs. He stepped through into what looked like some kind of laboratory. Immediately he knew he had found Mannen, this was his lab and obviously hadn't been empty long. At the end of the room was a glass cubicle with various pieces of equipment inside it and a blond haired man in a lab coat. He was tall and Hawke recognised him as the man he was looking for.

"Mannen!" he shouted. Mannen turned and opened the door to the glass cubicle. He showed no sign of being worried about escape. Hawke raised his gun to cover Mannen.

"Stringfellow Hawke, I assume?" he said as if he were meeting an everyday acquaintance.

"How do you know my name?" asked Hawke.

"Let us just say that we had a friend in common," said Mannen.

"Moffet was no friend of mine," replied Hawke.

"Ah yes, poor Charles. It was such a shame, that business in Libya."

"Put your hands up," said Hawke, "you're coming with me."

"I don't think so, Mr Hawke. I have something you need."

"I don't need anything from you," replied Hawke.

"I want you to give me Airwolf, and you are going to give me Airwolf."

"Just like that," said Hawke sarcastically.

"Well, there may be some coercion involved but in general terms, yes, you will just give it to me," said Mannen cryptically.

In his ear Hawke heard Marella say "Hawke, have you located Mannen?"

"Marella, yes, I have Mannen," he kept his eyes on Mannen. "Hands up!" said Hawke more forcefully.

"You really are quite annoying, Mr Hawke," he said but Mannen started to raise his hands. It was then that Hawke realised that Mannen had a gun in his hand and he hadn't seen where it had come from. Hawke hit the ground behind one of the laboratory benches, just as Mannen fired off two shots and took a similar dive.

"You can't win, Mr Hawke," shouted Mannen and suddenly a smoke canister came soaring over the benches towards Hawke. Hawke tried to fire at Mannen but he had disappeared into the smoke and then Hawke was choking and his eyes were streaming.

"Marella," he coughed, "Marella, I need backup, Mannen is escaping down the back stairs."

"All agents, Mannen is escaping down the back stairs, locate and capture," said Marella. "Hawke, are you okay?"

"He threw a smoke canister at me, I'm finding it hard to breath."

"Hawke, get out of there and rendezvous at the front of the building."

"Acknowledged," he coughed and stumbled towards the stairs, cursing his stupidity at having let Mannen escape.

Outside the building Airwolf had had a fair share of the action, destroying enemy gun emplacements and scaring terrorists who thought they could make a run for it. When Dom and Caitlin heard Hawke's radio message to Marella, Dom immediately steered the helicopter to the back of the building.

"I have a heat source coming down the back stairs," said Caitlin, "that must be him."

"Right," said Dominic. "Give me the chain guns."

Caitlin pressed the sequence of buttons which activated the weapon, "they're online, Dom. The heat source is nearly at ground level."

"Easy does it," said Dominic.

"What?" said Caitlin.

"What do you mean "What?"," asked Dominic.

"That heat source has disappeared," said Caitlin in disbelief.

"It can't have," said Dom, equally unbelieving.

"Do you want to come back here and have a look?" asked Caitlin, slightly crossly. "Its just gone, it was there one minute and gone the next."

"String is not going to be happy," said Dom. "Come on lets go back and give the guys a hand with the clean up."

"Sure thing, Dom," replied Caitlin.

Hawke made his way down the stairs still coughing and wheezing. Outside the Firm agents were rounding up the remaining terrorists, they had declared the building clear. Airwolf rounded the corner of the building and set down on the courtyard. Hawke lent against the door frame and holstered his gun, he couldn't see Mannen among the prisoners and it didn't look as if Airwolf had got him either. Caitlin and Dominic climbed out of Airwolf and made their way over the group. Hawke watched a white jeep drive into the courtyard with Archangel in the passenger seat and Marella driving. Archangel barely waited for the jeep to pull to a halt before he leapt out and made his way towards the prisoners.

"Where is Mannen?" asked Archangel.

"He escaped," said Hawke.

"He escaped?" said Archangel, in complete disbelief.

"Yeah, he went down the back stairs," said Hawke.

"We tried to catch him when he came out the back, but he never did," said Dominic.

"He can't just have vanished into thin air!" shouted Archangel.

"He got away, Michael," said Hawke.

Archangel hung his head and ground his cane into the tarmac. "Okay, lets find out how he did it. Marella, get a team to sweep the second floor and Mannen's escape route." Marella nodded. "Hawke, what happened up there?"

"I had him covered and then suddenly he had a gun in his hand, I didn't see where he got it from. He had some sort of lab set up on the second floor. I ducked behind a lab bench and that's when he threw the smoke canister. I guess that's when he was able to escape."

Michael nodded. "Wait, he threw a smoke canister?"

"Yeah," replied Hawke.

"God damn it Hawke, he's a biological weapons expert and you were in his lab. We have to get you checked out right away."

"Michael, I'm fine," said Hawke.

"I don't care if you're turning cartwheels we need to get you to hospital. I may be worried over nothing, but for once listen to me."

"I don't need to see a doctor," said Hawke, emphatically. "I need to find Mannen."

"String, maybe you should listen to Archangel on this one, who knows what was in that gas canister," said Dominic. "I mean would it hurt to get yourself checked out?"

"What is this, Dom? That's the second time that you've taken Archangel's side," said Hawke turning to face Dominic.

"It is?" said Archangel in surprise. Dominic Santini was not well known for being one of his supporters.

"Keep out of this Archangel," growled Hawke. He looked Dominic square in the eye and wondered what was up with his friend.

"String, we're up against a nasty piece of work here and we shouldn't be taking chances," said Dominic.

Caitlin stepped in and put a hand on Dom and Hawke's shoulders. "Dom just has your best interests at heart, Hawke. You know he does," she said looking from one to the other.

"Sure I do," said Dominic.

"Okay, you can have one of your doctors check me out, Michael, but I'm going in Airwolf."

"Fine, Hawke, we'll do it your way. Marella, give Hawke the co-ordinates he needs."

"One thing," asked Hawke, "why is Mannen's Firm file called "Wolf's Bane"?"

"That's his code name," said Archangel.

"It's a poisonous plant of the Aconite family," said Marella.

"I know that, Marella, but why that code name?" asked Hawke.

"Because it was appropriate," said Archangel.

Despite Dominic's complaints Hawke insisted on flying Airwolf himself. It didn't take Airwolf long to reach the Firm's secret medical complex. Marella had made all the arrangements and Hawke was met by a female doctor and orderly with a wheelchair.

"I'm Dr Kingsley, Archangel has asked me to take care of you. If you wouldn't mind, Mr Hawke," said Dr Kingsley indicating that Hawke should get into the wheelchair.

"I'll walk," replied Hawke and ignored the further protestations of the doctor. Caitlin and Dominic followed Dr Kingsley after making sure that Airwolf was secure. Hawke had given them very specific instructions about guarding the helicopter while it was on Firm property. The self-destruct mechanism was ready to be activated should the Firm try to force Hawke into handing it over.

The Firm doctors put Hawke through a barrage of tests while Caitlin and Dominic waited outside the room. They sat watching doctors coming and going from the room with pieces of equipment and blood samples. Dominic knew that Hawke was not keen on hospitals and would much rather have been back at his cabin on Eagle Lake, but it was for his own good.

Archangel arrived a couple of hours later. "Any news," he asked Caitlin, Dominic had fallen asleep in the chair beside her.

"They haven't told us anything," said Caitlin. "Do you think you could find out what's happening?"

"I'll see what I can do," said Archangel and went back down the hall to find one of the doctor's he had placed in charge of Hawke. He returned accompanied by a woman in a white coat that Caitlin recognised as the woman who had met them. She shook Dominic awake.

"Its not good news," said Dr Kingsley. "We've found something, possibly a virus, in the blood samples that we've analysed. We need to do more tests to find out exactly what he has been infected with. We're going to move him to an observation room where we can isolate him and keep an eye on his condition."

"String isn't going to like this," said Dominic.

"Is he going to be alright?" asked Caitlin.

"At this stage we don't know," replied Dr Kingsley. "It could be a cold virus, it could be something more sinister. Until we've conducted some more tests we won't know."

"Can we see him now?" asked Dominic.

"I don't see why not. We'll come and move him when the observation room is ready for him," said Dr Kingsley.

Dominic knocked on the door and went in, followed closely by Caitlin. Hawke was sat on the bed with his flight suit unzipped to the waist.

"How you doing String?" asked Dominic.

"I'm fine, Dom, and I don't care what those doctors of Archangel's say. We should be out there looking for Mannen," said Hawke.

"Look don't cause trouble, String, it just isn't worth it. Just let the doctors do their stuff."

"Mother Hen Santini," said Hawke.

"Go ahead, make a joke out of it, but you could be really sick, and we're worried!" said Caitlin.

"Cait, I'm fine, really. I'd feel better if I was out in Airwolf looking for Mannen but if its going to make you and Dom happy, I'll stay here. Just do me a favour and take Airwolf up and look for Mannen while I'm stuck here."

"Sure, String, no problem," said Dominic patting Hawke on the back. An orderly came into the room with a wheelchair. Hawke didn't bother to put up an argument this time, he slid off the bed and got into the wheelchair.

"Don't worry about me," he said, "just find Mannen." Hawke was worried himself about what the doctors had found but he wasn't going to let anyone know it. He also didn't want Caitlin and Dominic to know that he had started to feel strange even before they had landed Airwolf at the Firm's medical complex. The reason why he hadn't chewed the orderly out about the wheelchair was that he was feeling worse now and he didn't want Dom or Cait to see that he was ill.

Dominic watched Hawke being pushed from the room and leant on the edge of the bed shaking his head.

"Don't worry, Dom, they'll take good care of him," said Caitlin trying to be cheerful.

"You're just as worried as I am so don't tell me otherwise," replied Dominic.

"Come on, Dom, lets take Airwolf up and find Mannen for Hawke," said Caitlin. Dominic nodded, knowing it was about all he could do to help his friend.