Dragon's Blood

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.

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Hawke had been very ill, he knew that; he just wished everyone would stop reminding him of it. If one more person told him to take it easy or get some rest then he thought he would probably hit them. Just because someone had tried to kill him and all but succeeded, they thought he couldn't look after himself. It was just a virus, he was going to be fine.

Except that deep down Hawke knew that they were right, and that was the worst part of it. You can't fight a virus with chain guns and there was the problem. He was used to being able to blast anything out of the sky that was bothering him. The fact that he was getting better so slowly really bothered him, but the doctors seemed happy with his progress. They told him not to expect too much too quickly and take things easy for a while. His immune system was still weak from the fight it had needed to put up and there was always the chance that he could pick up another infection.

The doctors hadn't wanted to let him go home yet, but Hawke was fed up with lying around in hospital. He complained and made a nuisance of himself until they grudgingly said he could go home to finish his convalescence. Dominic had a job on at one of the film studios that he had a regular contract with and Hawke hadn't wanted him to cancel on his account, so he had purposefully not told him when he was being discharged. Marella had come by his room to say goodbye to him, but she had found him sitting, brooding, in a chair in the corridor.

"When's Dominic coming to pick you up?" she had asked.

"He's not coming," said Hawke and he had confessed to her that he hadn't told Dominic that he was coming home today. Marella didn't like the fact that he hadn't let Dominic know that he was being discharged, but she wouldn't let him sit alone in the hospital and had offered to fly him home. Hawke would have preferred to fly himself but the doctors had told him no flying for a while, so accepting Marella's offer was his only choice.

Hawke didn't say much on the way back to the cabin. Marella figured that he had things to think about and left him to his thoughts. If he wanted to talk then he would. They landed at the cabin a couple of hours later and Hawke opened the door of the helicopter to get out.

"Thanks for the ride, Marella," he said, paused and then said, "you want to come in?"

"I suppose I could spare a little time to make sure you're settled," said Marella. "Archangel won't miss me for a while yet." Marella flicked switches on the dashboard and the engines shut down.

The cabin was cold and it was obvious that it hadn't been lived in for a few weeks.

"Brrr," said Marella. "We need to get a fire going in here."

"Sure," replied Hawke, "the wood's by the fireplace."

"I haven't laid a fire in years," said Marella.

"Its not hard," said Hawke. "You want coffee?"

"Absolutely, I want coffee," said Marella.

Hawke went to the kitchen area that was located in one corner of the cabin and put the coffee pot on the hob. Marella made herself busy laying the fire, putting down kindling to get the fire going and then laying the larger logs on top. She watched Hawke in the kitchen and while he thought she wasn't looking he pulled out some bottles of pills from his pocket and put them in one of the kitchen cabinets. She counted the bottles, there were four. Marella had some medical knowledge and knew that Hawke was being given antibiotics for the bacterial lung infection that had caused his pneumonia and anti-virals for the virus that he had been infected with but what were the other pills for she wondered. She knew better than to ask, Hawke would tell her to mind her own business, but maybe she could find out. She put a match to the firewood and watched the flames spread around the pile of kindling and logs.

"You got any food in this place?" asked Marella.

Hawke looked over towards the fire as if he'd just remembered something. "I don't know," he said. She knew he was meant to be eating properly, he'd lost a lot of weight while he was ill.

"You really should have let Dominic pick you up from the hospital," said Marella. "He's going to be mad when he finds out that you didn't tell him."

"Yeah, I guess he will be. Dominic worries too much," said Hawke.

"Or maybe you don't worry enough," replied Marella.

"That's what Dominic would say," said Hawke.

"Dominic would be right," said Marella. "Are you going to call him?"

"I'll call him tomorrow," said Hawke.

"You can't keep pushing people away from you all the time, Hawke," said Marella, walking towards the kitchen area where Hawke was pouring the coffee. She took one of the mugs in her hands and let the warmth seep through.

Hawke looked her straight in the eye. "That's my business. Why do you care?"

"If you'd seen Dominic sitting beside your bed for hours and hours while he watched you getting more and more sick, then you'd understand."

"If you're done here, Marella, then you can fly that white chopper of yours back to Archangel," said Hawke with barely disguised anger.

Marella hadn't seen that coming but on reflection she should have known that Hawke wouldn't want to confront the issue of his behaviour towards Dominic and what lay behind it. He was fiercely independent and at the moment he was feeling particularly powerless, unable to even leave his cabin without someone to fly him.

"I'll let Archangel know that you're feeling better," said Marella, putting down the coffee and heading for the door.

"You do that," said Hawke. He made himself busy in the kitchen until he heard the engines of Marella's Hughes start up and then lift off from the dock. When he was sure Marella had gone he went to the cupboard where he had stowed the bottles of pills, found the one he was looking for and struggled with the childproof screw top for a moment. He hadn't wanted Marella to know that he needed the pills and he hated that he had to take them. God damn it, he thought, why do they have to make these things so difficult for adults to get into. He could feel his temper rising and he didn't see any reason to stop it, finally he threw the bottle of pills across the room.

"God damn it!" he shouted at the empty room. Everything he did felt so much like hard work at the moment, and his inability to even open a bottle of pills was the final straw. There was no one for him to vent his anger at and it quickly faded as he leant against the kitchen worktop. He picked up one of the mugs of coffee that he had made and walked over to the table, where he set it down. Then he went to hunt for the bottle of pills which had bounced off the wall beside the fire. Luckily the bottle was plastic and still intact after its rapid transit across the room. He sat down on the sofa and successfully managed to open the bottle this time, he tapped a pill into his hand and swallowed it with a mouthful of bitter, black coffee.

He looked thoughtfully at the cello that sat in its stand beside the fireplace. He hadn't played it for more than two weeks now and the last week that he was in hospital he'd started to miss it. He had thought about asking Dominic to bring it in for him but somehow he couldn't imagine himself playing it in the clinical whiteness of the Firm's medical complex. He wondered what Dr Kingsley would have had to say about it if he had. He realised that what he most wanted to do was sit out by the lake and play his cello. That would feel like things were back to normal and he could ignore the weakness and aches. He picked up the cello and the bow, put on a jacket and sat on the porch making solitary, melancholy music as the sun went down.

The doctors had explained to him that his chest would remain painful for a little while to come. It still hurt him just to breathe and talking was worse. For that they had given him painkillers to take. He also had to finish the course of the antibiotics that they had put him on otherwise they risked creating a resistant strain of the bacteria which had caused his pneumonia and chest infection. To be on the safe side they had given him more anti-virals to take as well.

The fourth bottle of pills was the one he hated most. After a number of sleepless nights, Dr Kingsley had prescribed him sleeping pills. It wasn't that he couldn't sleep, although some nights he did lie awake waiting for sleep to come to him, it was the nightmares that woke him and kept him awake. After a week of Hawke waking himself screaming, Dr Kingsley had said enough was enough and prescribed the sleeping pills.

Dr Kingsley had stood beside the bed "You need to get your sleep at nights, Mr Hawke," she had said, "so I'm going to prescribe some sleeping pills for you." He had protested, told her that he didn't need them and wouldn't take them. She had told him not to be stupid and she came every night to check that he took them, but she had also said that they were not a cure for the underlying problem.

"You really should see a councillor," she said.

"A shrink? No way," replied Hawke with conviction. He'd had some experience of army psychiatrists and didn't want to have anything more to do with them. Somehow, Dr Kingsley had manoeuvred him into talking about the dreams though.

"How long have you been having nightmares?"

"On and off ever since I came back from Vietnam," he said, "after a while they came less often so I never bothered about them. These aren't the same though. These are different."

He had never told anyone about his nightmares. Gabrielle had found out about them one night and he was almost certain that Dominic knew, but the last thing he had wanted to do was talk about them. He knew he wasn't the only veteran that dreamed about 'Nam and the odd nightmare was nothing compared to the problems that some veterans had brought home with them. The Vietnam nightmares had always been him in firefight or flying into some impossible situation and usually ended up with him being killed. Or rather waking himself up as he was about to be killed. They usually involved a lot of blood and death of friends he had known during his tour of duty. More often than not they involved St. John. He'd learned to live with those.

The new nightmares were different, they involved Mannen. There was stinging, blinding smoke and then he was suffocating, trying to get out of the warehouse, except that he would be unable to see and he would start to choke, be unable to breath and then he would wake himself up.

Dr Kingsley had worked as a doctor for the Firm for sometime and she had dealt with all sorts of injuries that the Firm's field agents sustained. When Michael Archangel and his staff had been attacked by Moffet in Airwolf at Red Star Command they had been brought to her for treatment. Not all of them had been as lucky as Michael and Marella. Hawke was not the first patient she had dealt with who had a psychological dimension to his condition, but he certainly was one of the most stubborn. Hawke had refused to see a psychiatrist and no one could make him if he didn't want to. Perhaps it would have helped to know that Mannen was dead but even that had turned out not to be the case. No body had been found in the crashed helicopter. Then a few days after Archangel had reported the absence of a body to Hawke, he had received reports from his agents confirming that Mannen was alive.

After an hour or so playing the cello, Hawke came in, sat on the sofa and considered going to bed. He was tired, the journey home had worn him out and he didn't feel much like eating. Suddenly the oblivion of a nights' sleeping pill induced dreaming seemed very attractive. He grabbed the other bottles of pills from the cupboard in the kitchen and filled a glass with water then made his way up the stairs to his bed. He took the sleeping pills and lay down thinking about what Marella had said about how he pushed people away. Probably she was right, but after being the centre of attention in the hospital he valued his privacy. Was it so wrong just to want some time to himself?

He still had gauze on his arm where the drip needle had been and a bandage on his side where they had inserted the chest drain. It reminded him of how close he had come to dying and he didn't like that, but at least now he was home things might begin to feel more normal. He knew he was going to need Dominic's help while he recovered, but, for the moment, he just wanted to be alone. He fell asleep.

The next morning he woke to the sound of a helicopter landing on the dock. He pulled himself up and sat on the edge of the bed, trying to work up the enthusiasm to get out of bed. He yawned and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

Dominic threw the front door open and came in with an arm full of groceries.

"Okay," he shouted, "so you didn't want to let me know that you were coming home, but at least you could have rung me when you got in." He dumped the groceries on the kitchen top showing his displeasure with Hawke.

"Did Marella call you?" asked Hawke in an accusatory tone from the balcony area of the cabin which was his bedroom, resigned to a telling off from Dominic.

"Well I'm glad somebody did, otherwise you'd be sitting up here without anything to eat. And Dr Kingsley told you that you need to eat properly to get your strength back, so I thought that I should bring you some stuff."

"I need a shower," said Hawke, hoping that the water would wake him up enough to be able to cope with Dominic. He emerged ten minutes later, towelling down his hair and feeling much better. He pulled on clothes and made his way down the stairs. Dominic was unpacking shopping and putting it into cupboards.

"I'm sorry, Dom," said Hawke.

"If you didn't want me to pick you up, String, you only had to say," said Dominic.

"It wasn't that. Its just you had that job on and I didn't want you to drop it to come and get me. Marella didn't mind giving me a lift," said Hawke and thought that if Marella had kept her mouth shut then he wouldn't be having this problem now.

"Hey, its good to have you home anyway," said Dominic giving Hawke a hearty pat on the back and he broke into a smile. Hawke returned the smile and knew he was forgiven. "You want breakfast?" asked Dominic.

"Sure Dom," said Hawke, taking a seat at the kitchen counter.

"I wasn't sure what you'd feel like, so I got a bit of everything," said Dominic.

"Grapefruit?" said Hawke, hopefully.

"Yeah, I got grapefruit," replied Santini sorting through one of the bags he had brought. "Is that all you want?"

"My appetite isn't back yet," said Hawke. "Probably that hospital food."

"How are you feeling?" asked Dominic.

"Happy to be home," replied Hawke. Dominic had known Hawke long enough to realise that when he dodged a question it was because he knew the person asking wouldn't like the answer. From that Dominic decided Hawke still felt like crap. "What did you do with Tet?" asked Hawke.

"He's staying with Caitlin," said Dominic, slicing a grapefruit and putting it in a bowl in front of Hawke, "I think they're getting on quite well, you know how she likes to take long walks. She was going to bring him back later today. See, if you'd let us know that you were planning on being back yesterday I could have brought him up with me."

"Yeah, okay, point taken, Dom," said Hawke between mouthfuls of grapefruit. He paused as if he was listening for something. "Oh no," he said, "that's all I need."

"What?" said Dominic and then he too caught the sound of a helicopter coming in for a landing at the lake.

"Put the coffee on Dom, we've got company," said Hawke. He watched through the window as the white helicopter landed beside Santini's American flag helicopter, and Archangel and Marella got out.

"I see we made it in time for breakfast," said Michael Archangel as he entered the cabin.

"When Marella said she was going to tell you that I was feeling better, I didn't think that would mean you'd be paying me a visit so soon," said Hawke.

"I hadn't intended to either," said Archangel.

"Its nice to know that you care," said Dominic, sarcastically.

"Its because I care that I'm here. Last night there was an unauthorised access of Firm file A56-7W. A56-7W is the Airwolf file," said Archangel.

"You let someone have access to the Airwolf file?" said Hawke, his voice tinged with anger. That file contained everything that the Firm knew about Airwolf, including his and Santini's identity. "I should have known better than to expect the Firm to have any kind of security. You know what this means, don't you?"

"I know what it means, but I'm not sure that you do," replied Archangel. "I can think of one obvious suspect: Franz Mannen."

"Hang on," said Dominic, catching up with the conversation, "you mean to tell us that that bastard who put String in hospital now has all the details on Airwolf that were in that file? Including where he can find String and me?"

Archangel nodded. "There is a very good chance of that, yes," he said. "Which is why I want to take you to a Firm safe-house for a few days until we can catch Mannen."

"No way," said Hawke, with feeling. "I'm not going to any Firm controlled safe-house. I just got home from being cooped up in hospital. If Mannen wants me then he can damn well come and get me."

"Hawke, I don't think you understand," said Archangel. "That is exactly what Mannen is going to do, and I don't need to tell you just how deadly Wolf's Bane can be, because you've already experienced that."

"I won't let him get me twice," replied Hawke. Wolf's Bane was the Firm's code name for Franz Mannen, taken from the name for the poisonous plant. It seemed even more appropriate now that he had come so close to taking Hawke's life with a biologically engineered virus. Santini and Caitlin had persuaded Mannen to hand over the cure in exchange for Airwolf but they had tricked him into accepting a fake Airwolf. Hawke was sure Mannen would be out for his blood in exchange for that humiliation.

"Hawke, you're still not even well enough to fly," said Marella. "You're taking four different types of medication and you can't get through the day without an afternoon nap, how do you expect to fight him?"

Hawke shot Marella a look that could have frozen fire on a summer's day. "My recovery is my own damn business," he said quietly. "Dr Kingsley should keep her mouth shut." Marella didn't even blink at Hawke's comment, in her line of work you had to be tough.

"When it involves Airwolf it becomes our business," said Archangel.

"And Dr Kingsley did keep her mouth shut," said Marella, calmly. "I just noticed the pills you put away yesterday and you confirmed my judgement of your general condition with your response." Hawke realised that Marella had duped him into revealing how bad he really felt and he kicked himself for being caught out so easily. Perhaps he wasn't on top of his game after all, he thought, but he was pretty sure that it would be enough to deal with Mannen.

Hawke scowled at Marella. "I'll just have to get better real quick," said Hawke, which he knew was easier said than done.

"There's something else that you should be aware of," said Marella.

"And what would that be?" asked Dominic.

"When we processed the prisoners we took at the warehouse we discovered that they were all American citizens," said Marella.

"I don't understand, they were terrorists weren't they? Why would they be Americans?" said Hawke, puzzled.

"That's what I'm saying, they weren't terrorists. They were local hoods, hired by the terrorists to make it look as if that was their main base of operations when their main force was based elsewhere." Marella looked deadly serious.

"What we're saying is that Kira's Army hasn't quite had its teeth pulled as effectively as we thought," said Archangel.

"You've warned us, Michael, we'll be on our guard," said Hawke.

"Yeah, we got the message," said Dominic, "we should watch our backs for a while."

"I don't think you have got the message," said Archangel. "Mannen will try to kill you and this time it won't be so he can negotiate for Airwolf. You and Caitlin humiliated him in front of his allies and friends. He is going to want revenge for that. I can't protect you if you won't let me do anything."

"We understand, Michael," said Hawke. "Dom and I can take care of ourselves."

"And Caitlin?" asked Marella.

"We'll look after Caitlin," said Dominic.

"If that's your final decision then on your heads be it," said Archangel.

"Goodbye, Michael," said Hawke going back to his breakfast.

Archangel sighed, turned and walked back out to his helicopter with Marella following.

"How can he be so calm about this?" asked Marella, as she climbed into the pilot's seat. "Mannen already tried to kill him once and he's still recovering from that attempt."

"Yeah, he's always been infuriatingly intent on going it alone," replied Archangel.

"Its our fault that this is happening, it was Firm security that was to blame," said Marella. "Isn't there anything that we can do?"

"Mannen has the next move," said Archangel, "but maybe I can arrange things so that Hawke has an advantage."

"What are we going to do?" asked Dominic, when Archangel and Marella had gone.

"The first thing we're going to do is go and get Caitlin," said Hawke. "I don't want her at the airfield alone with Mannen out gunning for us." Dominic nodded. "Apart from that, I don't know. It's going to be tricky while I can't fly. I know Cait did pretty well in Airwolf while I was laid up but Mannen won't underestimate us again, and Caitlin's not trained for combat."

"Yeah, and I'm no spring chicken," said Dominic. Dominic would be the first to admit flying in combat was a young man's game. He'd been an ace in his time but these days crewing Airwolf in the engineer's seat was the most excitement that he wanted out of life. Often it was too much excitement.

"The two of you did fine," said Hawke. "I've taught Cait enough tricks that she can hold her own. I'd just be happier if I was..." he couldn't quite bring himself to admit that he wasn't able to fly Airwolf at the moment. Flying Airwolf was hard work and he just wasn't at his best, in a helicopter like Airwolf, and in combat, that could be lethal for him and his crew.

"Yeah, String, I know. Come on, let's go get Caitlin," said Dominic.

The pair made their way to the Santini's helicopter and lifted off from Eagle Lake. Dominic flew them to the airfield where they found Caitlin doing some paperwork in the office. Tet was lying on the floor asleep, but as soon as Hawke walked in he leapt up and bounded over to say hello to him, wagging his tail furiously. Hawke squatted down and let Tet lick him while he patted him and ruffled his coat.

"Hey, Hawke, you're home!" shouted Caitlin when she saw Hawke and she ran over to him as he straightened up and gave him a long hug. "You feeling better now?"

Hawke let Caitlin hug him and realised that he was quite enjoying it. "Yeah, much better," said Hawke. "We have a problem though."

"What is it?" asked Caitlin.

"Archangel came to the cabin. He thinks Mannen has been hacking into Firm files," said Hawke.

"The Airwolf file?" said Caitlin and Hawke nodded. "Jesus, Hawke," said Caitlin, "that means he knows where we live and who we are."

"Yeah," said Dominic, "which is why we didn't want you down here by yourself. Archangel reckons he's going to want to get his own back on us for that stunt we pulled with the fake Airwolf."

"We need a plan," said Hawke.

"I guess I could shut up shop, and we could hide out for a while," said Dominic.

"Yeah, but there's no guarantee Archangel is going to catch Mannen," said Hawke.

"So you're saying we have to catch him and turn him over to Archangel," said Caitlin. "We tried that before, you remember, and it ended up with you in hospital!"

"You don't need to remind me, Caitlin," said Hawke angrily.

"Hey!" said Dominic. "Stop it you two."

At that moment Dominic's mechanic Everett knocked on the door. He had an oily rag in his hand and was dressed in brown overalls that were also covered in machine oil. "Hey, Ev," said Dominic, "What's the problem?"

"No problem, Mr Santini, just finished working on the Hughes and thought you'd like to check it over," said Everett indicating the helicopter on the strip outside.

"Yeah, I'll be over in second, start her up for me will you?" said Dominic.

"Okay, Dominic," said Everett and went back out to the Hughes.

"Give me a moment will you, just to check this chopper out," said Dominic.

"No problem, Dom. Cait and I will try and come up with something," said String and Caitlin nodded her agreement.

Dominic made his way out of the hanger, he heard the familiar sound of the helicopter starting up as he walked through the hangar. He waved to Everett standing beside the helicopter and was about to step onto the airfield when suddenly the helicopter exploded. He automatically hit the ground to shield himself from the force of the explosion. Hawke and Caitlin came running out of the office, Hawke already shouting for Dominic. Dominic was reeling from the explosion but had started to pick himself up when Hawke and Caitlin had reached the door out of the hangar. The Hughes was a boiling inferno of flame and billowing, grey smoke. The blades of the former helicopter spun round forlornly, turning black with the heat.

"Oh my god, Everett!" shouted Santini, going towards the helicopter, but Hawke held him back.

"There's nothing you can do," said Hawke. "He's gone." Caitlin had picked up the phone in the hangar and was dialling the emergency services. Dominic had turned pale and was looking a bit shaky. "I think you need a seat, Dom," said Hawke and led him into the hangar away from the burning helicopter. He found a chair and sat Dominic down.

"You know what this is," said Dominic.

"Yeah," said Hawke, "Mannen's warning shot."

Caitlin finished on the phone and came to join Hawke and Dominic. There was the sound of sirens outside and they watched as the fire crew arrived to extinguish the flames.

"Hawke, we have to do something," said Caitlin. "That could have been Dom starting up that chopper! Poor Everett."

Hawke went out to talk to the fire crew and the police who had arrived on the scene. The truth was Hawke didn't know what to do. Mannen wouldn't stop with destroying a helicopter, that was just to let them know that the game had begun. The police interviewed everyone who had been at the scene of the explosion but Hawke, Dominic and Caitlin couldn't tell them much. This was Firm business and that meant a certain level of security had to be maintained. Besides, Hawke was very sceptical that the police would believe them if they told them that an East German terrorist was responsible. Certainly he couldn't reveal the reasons behind Mannen's vendetta to ordinary cops.

A couple of hours later Hawke saw a white helicopter coming in for a landing at the field. He noticed there was only one person aboard the helicopter. It was Marella.

"Where's Archangel?" asked Hawke as he walked out to meet her across the airfield.

"Otherwise engaged," said Marella, cryptically. "Hawke, we heard about what happened."

"I thought you might have," said Hawke, the Firm's information network was extensive and Hawke wasn't surprised that Marella had heard about the explosion. The Firm monitored the police frequency and the name Santini Air would have set alarm bells ringing in Archangel's section.

"Will you at least listen to reason now and come in? I could have you at a suitable safe-house within the hour," she said.

"I already gave you our answer, Marella," said Hawke.

"I thought that's what you would say, so I brought you this," and Marella handed Hawke the file that she had been carrying.

"What is it?" asked Hawke, opening it and flicking through.

"Everything we have on Kira's Army and our most up to date surveillance on Lorenz Richter. He's the only one of them that we've been able to track down so far. Alia Krischkov's second in command."

"You found one of them? Why didn't you say something?" said Hawke.

"Would it have helped get you into a safe-house?" asked Marella.

"No," said Hawke. "I should have known that Archangel wasn't giving me all the facts."

"There's something else that he didn't tell you," said Marella, looking like she didn't want to tell Hawke what it was either.

"And what would that be?" asked Hawke.

"He did some digging while you were in hospital and came up with some information about Nam Ha," said Marella.

"The prison camp where Mannen's lab book said St. John was?" asked Hawke.

"Yes, Archangel is very thorough. He didn't really believe that it would lead anywhere but he had to check it out. He found that before Nam Ha was liberated in '73 some prisoners were transferred to East Germany on Mannen's orders. There is a possibility that one of them was St. John."

"Why didn't Archangel tell me this himself?" asked Hawke.

"He didn't want to get your hopes up. You were still recovering in hospital when the news came through, and the doctors didn't think you were ready for that yet. I think he was worried that you'd dash off to Germany to search for St. John."

"Maybe I would have, but I've got other problems on my mind now. Getting Mannen is still my best way of finding St. John. If he ordered the transfer then he must know what happened to him," said Hawke.

Alia Krischkov strode over to Franz Mannen. "How dare you!" she said. "How dare you order an attack on Hawke without my permission!"

"Good evening, Alia." said Mannen, unmoved.

"The helicopter that you bombed at Santini Air," said Alia, "we now not only have the Firm looking for us but the police as well. You could have just killed them but, no, you had to make it into a game. You have a very unhealthy exhibitionist tendency and I don't think you realise what dangerous ground you are on with me, Franz. I will not have you undermine my leadership."

"The police are not a problem, but I am hoping that Hawke and his friends will pay us a visit."

The terrorists had hidden themselves at an logging outpost in the forest and Alia and Franz now stood in front of the building they had turned into their centre of operations watching Alia's men go through weapons drills.

"You still want that helicopter," she said. It was a statement not a question.

"Of course I want it. Even more now that I have seen what it can do, and that was in the hands of an inexperienced pilot. The way Moffet described it to me, it is the most sophisticated helicopter ever built. Only a very few pilots have ever managed to fly Airwolf to the full of its capabilities. Stringfellow Hawke is one of them. Moffet was another and I plan to be a third."

"You should have just let Hawke die. Why did you give them the anti-viral?" asked Alia, full of pure hatred for her American enemy.

"Kill a man like Hawke? No, he could have been useful to me. He is the only man alive who has knowledge of Airwolf comparable to Moffet's. There was always some chance I could have manipulated him into helping me. Of course, now he has given me no choice," said Mannen.

"What do you want more? To kill Hawke and his crew, or capture Airwolf. You can't have both," said Alia.

"I think I can," said Mannen. "After their humiliation of me I would take a great deal of pleasure from killing Hawke in front of his friends. No one has ever caused me so much trouble as Mr Santini and Miss O'Shaunessey and lived."

"We cannot have dual goals, Franz. I must take revenge on America for killing my sister," said Alia. "If Airwolf will get that for me then I will support you, but if you fail this time don't expect me to continue that support."

"I think our goals are compatible, Alia. This time I won't fail."

Once the debris from the destroyed helicopter had been cleared and all the police and fire trucks had left, there wasn't much of the day left. Hawke had decided that the safest thing for them to do was all go back to the cabin. It was only accessible by foot or helicopter so if Mannen did try to mount an attack then there were only limited ways he could do it. Before they took off, Hawke checked over the helicopter thoroughly. Pre-flight was always important, but this time he didn't just go down the checklist, he actively looked for anything which might indicate someone had tampered with the craft. Finally he opened the engine compartment and carefully checked that too.

"Well, I've checked everything," said Hawke. "If there's a bomb on this bird its well hidden."

"That doesn't fill me with confidence, Hawke," said Caitlin.

"Me neither but short of taking it apart that's all we can do," said Hawke.

"Well I'm the one flying," said Dominic, "and if String says its okay, then that's good enough for me."

"Okay," said Caitlin, "I guess its good enough for me too then." She went to get Tet from the office where he had been shut in while the cops interviewed everyone.

Dominic gave the aircraft one last walk around and then climbed into the helicopter "If you two don't want to get in then I'll understand," he said.

String just climbed into the co-pilot's seat, put on the headset, crossed his arms and said "Let's go." Caitlin followed his lead and climbed into the back seat with Tet.

Dominic started the engines, "so far so good," he said and lifted off. The helicopter didn't explode and they all breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay," said Dominic, "we're still here."

"Yeah, we are," said Hawke.

"Then let's get going," said Caitlin leaning over from the back seat.

"Yeah, yeah, okay," said Dominic and set the helicopter on a course for Eagle Lake.

They arrived at the lake an hour later. Tet leapt out of the helicopter, happy to be back on his home ground. Hawke followed him, carefully looking around for anything out of the ordinary. He opened the door to the cabin, realised it was still cold and went over to make up the fire. He was followed by Caitlin and Dominic.

"Hey, Hawke, let me do that," said Caitlin. She had noticed that he had been looking tired on the way back to the lake. Hawke just nodded to Caitlin and collapsed on the sofa, he was too worn out to protest and it had been a long day.

"What have we got for dinner?" asked Caitlin, while she stacked logs on the fire.

"I don't know," said Hawke from the sofa, "Dominic bought the groceries."

"Knowing that himself doesn't eat meat, I got us fish," said Dominic. "I didn't think you'd be up to catching it for yourself for a couple of days."

Hawke glanced over at Dominic "I'd be out there now if I didn't have guests," he said, but settled back on the sofa, obviously not intending on moving.

"I'll put them on the grill then shall I?" said Dominic, mocking Hawke's lack of movement. Hawke didn't answer.

"I'd only put two of those on, Dom," said Caitlin. "He's asleep."

Dominic looked over at the sofa and noticed that she was right, Hawke had closed his eyes and was breathing evenly. "That's just great," said Dominic. "What am I supposed to do with these now?"

"Hey, I'm still hungry," said Caitlin. She went to the chest in the bay window to the right of the door and got a blanket out. She spread the blanket over Hawke and tucked it around him.

"Okay, then," said Dominic, "I guess its just us two. Maybe he'll wake up and want something later."

"How's he doing?" asked Caitlin, coming over to the kitchen area so that she could talk more quietly.

"Look at this, Cait," said Dominic opening the cupboard where Hawke kept his pills to show Caitlin. "This is what those doctors have him taking,"

"Yeah, but that's all for the best isn't it Dom?" said Caitlin.

"I don't know Cait," said Dominic, "he's never taken sleeping pills before." He showed her the bottle.

"He didn't seem to need them tonight," said Caitlin.

"Maybe that's a good sign. I don't know. The body can heal the physical stuff but it's the stuff up here that I worry about," he said pointing to his head.

Caitlin had known that Hawke's illness had placed a lot of stress on Dominic, it had been hard on him watching Hawke becoming so ill. And even when he had started to get better it was a slow process and Hawke had fought the doctors all the way, trying to do too much too soon, so that Santini had had to persuade him that he had to take things easy for a while. Not to mention the fact that he had been short handed at Santini Air and both of them had had to cover for the fact they were one pilot down. Finally Hawke was out of hospital and things didn't seem to be any better.

"He's a tough one, Dom," said Caitlin.

"Yes and that may be part of the problem. He never would tell me what was bothering him, and I know he's not telling me something now."

"And you think it has something to do with the sleeping pills," said Caitlin.

"He wouldn't tell you this himself, but he's had nightmares about Vietnam ever since he got back. Used to be every night when he first got back but they got better. He has them less often now, but still can't get back to sleep afterwards. Maybe all this stuff with Mannen has made it worse again." Dominic looked worried and Caitlin couldn't help but worry too.

They ate the fish Dominic had cooked and went to bed, Caitlin taking the floor and Santini taking Hawke's bed. Despite his attempts at chivalry, Caitlin wouldn't let Dom sleep on the floor with his bad back and he eventually gave in and went upstairs. Caitlin took cushions off the chairs and created a sort of mattress in front of the fireplace on the floor for herself to sleep on. She took a couple of blankets to cover the cushion and another to go over herself to keep warm. Dominic had found her one of Hawke's old sweatshirts for her to wear in bed, it still smelt slightly of Hawke and that was somehow reassuring. The cabin was still warm and would be until the fire died down. Caitlin heard Santini start to snore upstairs and then fell asleep herself.

She woke with a start, to Hawke screaming. She was up and kneeling beside him before she even thought about.

"It's okay," she said as the scream stopped and Hawke gasped for breath. "It's okay, it's Caitlin, I'm here." The blanket she had put over him was drenched in sweat and he had twisted it around himself.

"Caitlin?" said Hawke, he was obviously bewildered, still half in the dream. "I can't breath."

"Just take deep breaths, slowly, easy," she said and turned to look up at the balcony where Dominic stood, also woken by Hawke's scream. He saw Caitlin had everything under control, shook his head and went back to bed.

When Hawke had stopped hyperventilating, he lay quietly while Caitlin stroked his hair. "I feel such a fool," he said.

"Why? Because you had a bad dream?" asked Caitlin. "Everyone has those."

"Why can't I shake this?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.

"You've had a hell of a time of it these past couple of weeks. You've been ill and there's been all this stuff about your brother. Then Mannen coming after us; I'm surprised I'm not having nightmares about that," said Caitlin.

"I guess so," said Hawke, but it was obvious that he wasn't convinced.

"What was it?" asked Caitlin.

"I was back in the warehouse. Its all going pretty much as I remember it and then I get to the bit where Mannen throws the smoke grenade and suddenly I can't breath. I try but I just can't and I can feel my life slipping away." Hawke paused and then added, "just like it felt when I was in the hospital. And then I wake up."

"Yeah, I figured it would be something like that," said Caitlin. "When I get my hands on Mannen he's going to pay for all the trouble he's caused us." They sat in silence for a while watching the embers of the fire glowing in the dark.

"Go back to bed, Cait," said Hawke, "I'll be fine."

"Okay, but I'll be over here if you need me," said Caitlin settling down on her makeshift bed and pulling the blanket over her. Hawke rolled onto his side on the sofa and watched her while she fell asleep. He tried to do the same but gave up as the time dragged on and he realised he didn't want to go back to sleep. He got up from the sofa, and went to sit on the window seat. He threw a blanket around himself, pulled his knees up to his chest and leant back against the bay of the window. He watched the moon reflecting on the lake and wished his life was less complicated.

What did Mannen want from him? Just his life? That didn't make any sense when Mannen had had the perfect plan to kill him and get Airwolf from him, but had let him live. If it hadn't been for Caitlin then it probably would have worked. It suddenly dawned on Hawke, Mannen didn't just want to kill them, he wanted to kill them so that he could get Airwolf.

The next thing Hawke knew, Dominic was shaking him awake. "Hey, sleepy head," said Dominic. "You want breakfast?"

"Huh?" said Hawke, still half-asleep and he was just beginning to notice how stiff he felt from spending the night beside the window.

"You know eggs, grapefruit, that kind of stuff," said Dominic.

Hawke nodded, unfolded himself from the window seat carefully, stood up and stretched. Caitlin was in the kitchen cooking bacon and other breakfast things which smelled really good.

"Eggs," said Hawke and went to shower and change his clothes.

He took his time and Caitlin had to shout up the stairs to let Hawke know that his breakfast was ready. He slouched down the stairs and slid onto a seat at the kitchen counter. He didn't know when he had fallen asleep but he was sure that it had either been very late or very early.

"So what's the plan?" asked Caitlin, putting a plate of scrambled eggs on toast in front of Hawke. He caught the sound of a helicopter coming into land.

"Not again," said Hawke, the very last thing he wanted or needed was two visits from Archangel in as many days. "We've got company". Caitlin went to the door and opened it to look out and suddenly Hawke realised that something was wrong. It didn't sound right, and then he caught sight of the helicopter as it flew over the ridge, it wasn't Archangel's helicopter.

"Caitlin, get away from that door!" shouted Hawke, knocking over the chair as he stood.

Caitlin stood for a second by the door, frozen, not understanding why Hawke was shouting. Hawke ran for Caitlin, grabbed her by the waist and tackled her to the ground just as the helicopter made a pass over the cabin, chain guns blazing. Hawke knew that Santini would hit the deck when the chopper started firing but he wasn't so sure about Caitlin's instincts. Bullets flew across the cabin at about chest height and buried themselves in the walls and glass shattered into blue green shards as bullets found the windows. Hawke sheltered Caitlin as best he could from the glass and splintering wood. She just kept her hands over her head and stayed down. Hawke tried to look over toward the kitchen to see Dominic but the counter blocked his line of sight.

From somewhere behind him there was a yelp and then a sad, pained whine. Tet! thought Hawke, he must have been hit. He needed to do something, otherwise they were all going to die right here in the cabin without even a fight and Mannen would win. Hawke was remembering Mannen's taunt in the warehouse "You can't win, Mr Hawke" just before he had thrown the virus laden smoke grenade.

"Dom!" shouted Hawke, over the noise of the guns. "My gun is under the counter, can you get to it?" The helicopter came round for a second sweep across the front of the cabin and started firing again.

"I'll do my best," replied Dominic. "But it's just a hand gun, what good will that do?"

"Just get it for me, Dom," Hawke shouted back.

Dom crawled across the kitchen floor to find the draw where he knew Hawke kept his gun. He retrieved it and slid it across the floor to Hawke.

Hawke checked that it was loaded, rolled onto his stomach and fired at the helicopter from the doorway. He was aiming to hit the pilot but failing that a bullet hitting one of rotors would do enough damage that the attacking craft would have to either leave or land. He had picked the biggest target that was available because a handgun at this range would have very little accuracy. He fired twice with no success but the third bullet hit the windshield. He didn't think he'd hit the pilot but couldn't be sure, in any case the helicopter was turning around as Hawke fired again and sparks flew off the body of the craft. Hawke emptied the clip at the helicopter, but it was turning tail and running so the bullets didn't have much effect. Whoever they were had had enough now that someone was shooting back at them and Hawke was beginning to think that they hadn't been that intent on killing anyone.

"Everyone okay?" asked Hawke, pushing himself up from the ground.

"Yeah, I'm okay," said Caitlin, obviously bruised from the rough way that Hawke had thrown her to the floor.

"Yeah, yeah," said Dominic from the kitchen, also slowly picking himself up.

"Oh my god, Tet!" said Caitlin remembering the yelp. Hawke left the gun on the table and went over to where he had heard the yelp. Tet lay on the floor, licking his leg and whining. His front left leg was bleeding. Hawke gently picked up the leg and examined the wound, it was bleeding a lot but it didn't look too bad, probably a ricochet.

"Cait, get me some hot water and bandages," said Hawke. He stroked Tet's head and told him that he was a good dog while Caitlin found the first aid kit. Caitlin put the bandages and water down beside Hawke. He cleaned the wound and wrapped it enough to stop the bleeding. When he was done, Tet was wagging his tail again.

He looked around his cabin; it was a disaster area. There were bullet holes everywhere, the porch had fared particularly badly, some of the planks were completely destroyed. It would have to be repaired before he could sit out playing the cello on it again. And the one thing which really broke his heart was the painting, it was hung on the stairs and was an original Cezanne from the artist's impressionist period. It had a bullet hole through the middle of it.

"What are we going to do?" asked Caitlin. Hawke looked at his injured dog, his destroyed furniture and ruined work of art.

"We're going to find Lorenz Richter," said Hawke, without a trace of emotion.

Archangel sat in his office going over everything he knew about Kira's Army. Richter had last been seen at a small logging town called Dragonville. Michael had sent three of the Firm's best field agents to the logging town but two of them had mysteriously lost contact. Archangel had investigated but hadn't been able to find out what had happened to his missing agents. A week later two bodies had turned up buried in shallow grave ten miles away from the last sighting of Richter, their fingerprints had been matched to those of the missing agents. A visual identification had not been possible since there was very little left of the agents' features.

However, they hadn't died from their wounds. They were the two latest victims of a biological agent that had been used by Mannen to kill his co- worker Dr Berghof. Its East German code name was "Drachblut", Dragon's Blood. It was particularly nasty.

Archangel knew a warning when he saw one, however that didn't mean that he had to take notice of it. Instead he'd told his remaining agent to stay in Dragonville and he hoped that this agent wouldn't end up in the lake with the other two. He told his agent to await the arrival of Stringfellow Hawke and protect him at all costs. To let something happen to Hawke once was careless, but twice and Zeus would be asking questions about his competence.

Archangel had agents scouring the country for Mannen but Dragonville was still his best lead. He hoped that he had done the right thing when he told Marella to let Hawke have the Kira's Army file (carefully edited first of course). Wolf's Bane was a deadly enough enemy to cope with alone but combined with Alia Krischkov and Lorenz Richter, even Archangel didn't like that thought and those odds.

Kira's Army had been responsible for the deaths of over a hundred Americans, but Archangel knew that was just the tip of the iceberg. He was sure that they had something big planned and if they did then he sure as hell wanted Airwolf on the spot. Using Hawke's search for his brother to get him to do what the Firm wanted was not a tactic he particularly liked using, but it was one which served his purpose for the time being. He had always known that Hawke would never agree to go into a safe house but he had had to make the offer. Hawke would be more useful to him chasing Mannen. But if there was one thing he had learned over the years of his dealings with Hawke then it was that he was unpredictable. He hoped that Mannen hadn't worked that one out yet.

Hawke sat in the co-pilot's seat of Airwolf. It felt strange being on the wrong side of the cockpit, especially in Airwolf which was so much his helicopter. Dominic had told him in no uncertain terms that while he wasn't going to fly Airwolf into combat, Hawke could sit this one out and get some rest while they flew down to Dragonville. Caitlin was quite capable of working the computers, she'd crewed Airwolf enough times now to know what she was doing without any prompting from Hawke. So Hawke sat in the co- pilot's seat feeling slightly superfluous to requirements. It was a few hours flying time to Dragonville and, while he would never admit it, he could use the time to catch up on his sleep. The familiar hum of the cockpit computers was somehow very hypnotic today.

He woke with a bump when Santini landed Airwolf slightly less gently than Hawke would have done it.

"We're here," said Dominic, cheerfully. "Good nap?" he asked. Hawke shot him a look and didn't reply.

"Where do we start?" asked Caitlin.

"I guess we go into town and see if anyone has seen this Richter guy," said Hawke, taking off his helmet. "Maybe we can turn up something."

The three of them wandered into town, trying to look as if they hadn't just landed their big black helicopter in a clearing in the forest a couple of miles away. The town wasn't large, Airwolf's sensors had already told them that much, but it did have a store, a bar and a gas station.

The most obvious place to look seemed to be the bar. From the outside it didn't look like much and when they entered the room they were greeted by country music from a jukebox and stony silence from the patrons. It was obvious that this was a logger's bar, the only women in the room were the waitresses. In the corner was a shabby looking pool table where a couple of men were knocking balls around the table and a few others were standing around watching.

"This is like being back in Pope County," said Caitlin to Hawke. He knew the bar she was referring to and it was a rough one, or at least it had been when he and Airwolf had last been in town.

"Yeah, let's just hope this town doesn't have wild cats as well," added Hawke.

"Looking at some of these guys I'm not so sure they don't," said Dominic. Both Caitlin and Hawke knew exactly what Dominic was talking about. Hawke went to the bar and ordered three beers while Dom and Cait found a table out of the way in the corner of the room. He was served by a tall woman with dark brown hair and beautiful blue eyes.

"You're new in town," she said, making conversation while she got his change and uncapped the bottles.

"Yes, Ma'am," replied Hawke. "Our car broke down a couple of miles down the road. Is there any place we could stay in town while we get it fixed?" It was his standard cover for walking into town without any visible means of transportation.

"Yeah, you can stay here. There are a few rooms upstairs, not that they see much use, no one wants to stay long in Dragonville."

"I can see why," said Hawke. The bar wasn't exactly the nicest he had ever seen, although he could think of worse. At least the staff made up for poor d├ęcor.

"I'm Elissa," she said offering Hawke her hand to shake.

"Stringfellow Hawke," he replied taking her hand. He wasn't sure, but he thought that when he said his name there was an almost imperceptible flicker of recognition across her face.

"That's some name you've got there," she said.

"Yeah, blame my parents. I'm also looking for a friend of mine," said Hawke, hoping he could confirm what he thought he had seen. "His name is Lorenz Richter." This time he was sure that the name triggered recognition.

"I don't know anyone by that name," said Elissa. "This is a pretty small community, if I haven't heard of him then he probably isn't here."

"I'd like to check that for myself," said Hawke.

"People can be a bit funny about strangers around here," said Elissa.

"I'm sure they can," said Hawke, picked up the bottles of beer and took them over to where Dominic and Caitlin were sat. "There's something about her," said Hawke. "She doesn't fit in this place."

"Just 'coz she's prettier than the other bar staff," said Caitlin cynically, "you think she has to be in with the terrorists."

"I didn't say that, but she sure as hell knew Richter's name when I asked about him," said Hawke.

"I'm not so sure that this was such a great plan after all," said Dominic. "I mean we're like sitting ducks in this town. I'd much rather be back in the cockpit of the Lady with chain guns at the push of a button."

"The Lady does attract rather a lot of attention, Dom," said Caitlin.

"Richter's still here," said Hawke, as if he hadn't heard the last part of the conversation, "I'm sure of it." He was still watching Elissa who was wiping down the bar. "She knows something," he said. "Look, I want you to go and check out the rest of the town."

"What are you going to do?" asked Dominic.

"See what I can find out from her," he said indicating Elissa. She went into the back room behind the bar and Hawke followed.

"No patrons allowed behind the bar," said Elissa, ignoring Hawke and stacking bottles on a shelf.

"I think you know something about Lorenz Richter," said Hawke.

"Yes, to stay away from him," she replied. "And I know for a fact that Archangel told you to do the same."

"Archangel? You're from the Firm!" said Hawke. That explained why she didn't look as if she belonged, she didn't, she was one of Michael's agents.

"Michael sends his regards. Apologies for the subterfuge, you never know who could be listening in a place like this, and Archangel asked me to keep you out of trouble."

"Out of trouble, huh? That sounds like Michael," said Hawke.

"He wanted to give you some help on this one," she said.

"I don't need any help," said Hawke, "not from you, and not from Archangel."

"I've read your file, Hawke, I know about what Mannen did to you," said Elissa. "Revenge may be a private thing but Archangel would prefer if you didn't take this one personally."

"Archangel can go to hell. And it isn't revenge."

"If you say so Hawke," said Elissa.

"Do you know where Richter is or not?"

"Archangel sent two agents to track down Richter and take him in. Richter killed them both using a biological agent we identified as a substance code- named Dragon's Blood. They were working on information that Richter had been seen in Dragonville. Archangel gave me orders to wait for your arrival before proceeding further, but my information is that the terrorists have set up came at an old logging outpost about five miles out of town. They come into town for supplies every so often. Richter is a bit of a ladies man and I was planning on getting Richter to take me out to the camp with him."

"So we just wait for him to turn up? You really think he's going to show his face in town after killing two Firm agents."

"If you'd read his file properly, you'd know that is exactly the kind of man he is," said Elissa. "Currently we're two down against him and he's getting cocky."

"What are you? A psychology expert?" asked Hawke.

"Psychological profiler was my first assignment when I joined the Firm."

"Figures, Archangel sends a psychologist to bring in a man like Richter," said Hawke, wryly.

"I said it was my first assignment, not my last. If you want my field credentials then I have extensive references from Colonel Beckwith."

"Delta Force?" said Hawke, incredulously. Elissa just nodded. "You trained with Delta Force?"

"I'm the only woman, to date, to train with Delta Force," said Elissa. "Archangel had to call in a few favours for that."

"I bet he did," said Hawke. To say that the Delta Force training regime was tough would have been an understatement and their current policy was no female recruits. Archangel had sent his best to deal with this situation.

He was just about to ask her whether she had any information on the rest of the terrorists when Caitlin and Dominic burst into the room.

"String, its Richter," said Dominic, "he's here."

"Him and a buddy are at the town store right now," said Caitlin.

"Cait, Dom, this is Elissa, she's with the Firm," said Hawke.

"The Firm? Mamma mia." said Dominic.

Elissa went to one of the shelves and took a gun out from behind a couple of bottles of scotch. She checked the clip and holstered the gun in the waistband of her jeans.

"Time for me to go," she said.

"What are you going to do?" asked Hawke.

"Get him to take me with him," she said, "and hope that he takes me to their headquarters."

"You're not going alone," said Hawke.

"I don't want to argue with you about this, Hawke. I don't have time. I want you to cover me from Airwolf. I'm wearing a homing device, you can lock onto the frequency," said Elissa. "It's the standard Firm band."

Hawke hesitated, he didn't like the idea of Elissa going alone. It wasn't that he didn't think she was capable, it was just that he was so close to getting to Mannen now that he didn't want to delegate that task to anyone else.

Elissa recognised his indecision. "He'll be looking for you Hawke, you have to let me be the one to do this."

Hawke sighed. "Dom, Cait, let's go get The Lady."

"Okay, now we're getting somewhere," said Dominic.

"If you get into any trouble, you call us immediately," said Hawke to Elissa.

"I'm not intending on taking any risks, Hawke," replied Elissa. With that remark she left the bar and went to find Richter, leaving Hawke to wonder how you lived as an agent of the Firm without taking risks.

Lorenz Richter didn't like Alia's instructions to him one bit. She was listening to Mannen's counsel far too much these days. If they didn't need Mannen then Richter would be happy to get rid of him. Instead, the weapon was ready and Alia had him collecting supplies from town.

But then Elissa usually made his trips to town more interesting. He watched her walk across the road towards them. She looked good as always.

Hawke sat in the cockpit of Airwolf, this time in the pilot's seat and for the first time in his life he felt apprehensive about flying her. This would be the first helicopter that he had flown since he landed Airwolf at the Firm's medical complex over two weeks ago. That seemed like another lifetime at the moment. He took a deep breath and pressed the main engine start sequence of buttons. The helicopter came to life.

"Ready when you are, String," said Dominic from the rear seat.

"Okay," said Hawke, he put his right hand on the cyclic, his left on the collective and pulled up slowly. Airwolf rose into the air gracefully and Hawke took her up above the trees. "You locked on to Elissa's signal?"

"Yeah, it's coming in strong," said Dominic. "She's heading north east along the highway."

"Okay," said Hawke. "Let's get over there." He put Airwolf on a north- easterly course and settled in to reminding himself how the controls felt. Even after being away, flying Airwolf came completely naturally to him. Her controls were perfectly balanced, he had almost forgotten how amazing she was to fly.

It wasn't long before they reached the highway. "We'll hang back, don't want to let them know we're here," said Hawke.

"There's a logging camp up ahead, String. That must be where they're headed," said Dominic. "I'm detecting small arms and anti-aircraft guns, plus a few other nasty things. Looks like they even have some missiles. Two Hughes parked up, they're armed too. And there's another helicopter down there, looks like it's a modified Hind but the computer is kicking up a query. Its not sure about the ident." The computer was showing them a schematic of the compound, the buildings and water tower at its centre, with the helicopters and weapons clearly outlined in bright flashing red.

"Must be something special," said Hawke. "Or something modified so much that the computer can't work out what it is."

"God in heaven, its like a small fortress," said Caitlin looking at her own monitor.

"We can handle it," said Hawke, looking at specs of the various armaments as they rolled down the screen. At least he hoped that they could, he wasn't worried about Airwolf's capabilities but he was less certain of his own.

"So are we going in?" asked Dominic.

"Yeah," said Hawke. "Stay sharp, this is going to be tough."

"And Elissa?" asked Caitlin.

"She can take care of herself," said Hawke.

"String, those Hughes we scanned are taking off. I think we've been spotted," said Dominic.

"Spotted? How? Aren't we running at full stealth mode?" said Hawke.

"Yeah, all systems show green but they're coming this way and it can't just be a coincidence," said Dominic.

"I don't like the way this feels," said Hawke.

"You don't think this is another trap?" said Caitlin.

"Maybe, I guess we'll find out," said Hawke. "So far Mannen has been one step ahead of us all the way."

"Those bogies are incoming String," said Dominic.

"I've got them," said String.

The choppers fired off two missiles. "They just popped a couple of sidewinders," said Dominic.

Hawke pulled Airwolf into a steep climb and the missiles soared past underneath and slammed into the trees below. He pulled out of the climb, levelled off briefly before putting Airwolf's nose down towards the approaching helicopters.

"Give me the missiles, Dom," said Hawke.

"You got them," replied Dom. Hawke fired and the lead chopper exploded into a fireball of twisted metal. However the other helicopter had moved around to target Airwolf from the west.

"String, he's on your nine," said Dominic.

"I've got him, Dom," said String, but as he finished the sentence, warning lights flashed on the panel in front of him.

"He's launched a sidewinder," said Dominic.

"He's trying to push us towards the camp," said Hawke, twisting to the side and easily dodging the sidewinder. "These aren't meant to hit us."

"That felt pretty close to me," said Caitlin, but she was well aware of the fact that Hawke knew what he was talking about.

"Give me the chain guns," said Hawke.

"Guns deployed," said Santini. The Hughes was following them but hadn't opened fire again. They were coming up on the camp and Hawke let off a burst of gun fire at the buildings below. He watched as people ran for cover, or to man the Ack-Ack guns. He fired a couple of Hellfires at one of the gun emplacements which exploded and began to billow black smoke.

Hawke began to pull into a turn so that he could bring all of Airwolf's weapons to bare on the chopper that was still following them. As he turned he used the chain guns to cut a circle of destruction through the compound below. The bullets cut into vehicles and buildings alike, before finally he rounded on the Hughes the bullets cut into the body of the aircraft. It wasn't hit badly, Hawke hadn't wanted to destroy it, just take it out of action. The pilot might have to struggle to get it on the ground but he should be able to land it. He didn't have time now for an aerial battle on top of the ground troops. Airwolf's armour plating was good but even she had parts bullets could hurt.

"Hawke, that's Mannen down there," said Caitlin.

Hawke looked towards where Caitlin was pointing. It was him. Tall, blond hair and blue eyes, he wore full combat gear like those around him but he wasn't making any attempt to enter the battle. Airwolf was causing havoc among the terrorists and Mannen didn't seem to be bothered at all, in fact he was leaning against the pillar of the front porch of one of the buildings. He waved at Hawke and on a tiny black box in his hand he pressed a button. Suddenly Airwolf's systems lit up with red warning lights and sirens began to sound.

"What the.?" said Hawke. The stick in his hand had suddenly become very unresponsive, he was having to fight with her just to stop her from falling out the sky.

"String, we've got problems," said Dominic. "The panel back here is lighting up like it's the 4th of July."

"Shit," said Hawke with feeling. "I don't know how much longer I can hold her like this, we've got to find somewhere to put her down." His body was suddenly reminding him that it had spent a good part of a month lying in bed and its muscles weren't really up to struggling with a damaged helicopter. The question was damaged how? No missiles had hit and bullets weren't a problem. He wrestled Airwolf up and out of the logging outpost's yard.

"This is really bad, String" said Dominic, checking the readouts on his monitors. "Every electrical system in this helicopter is going haywire. The engine controller is failing, it's getting too many contradictory inputs from the fly-by-light system. If that goes we'll have to auto-rotate in."

"We don't have time to find somewhere else to land, I'm going to have to put her down here," said Hawke, "or risk losing her completely. I've got a clearing coming up on my scope, we'll just have to hope that it's big enough."

"Hawke, we're only a couple of miles away from the terrorist's HQ, they're going to find us and Airwolf," said Caitlin.

"We don't have any other choices, we aren't going anywhere in this condition," said Hawke. They were coming up on the clearing and Hawke's arms hurt like hell from forcing the stick to keep Airwolf under control. He was just hoping he could put her down gently enough, when the engine controller gave out. He heard the engines shut down and all he could do was hang on.

"The engines have cut out," said Dominic. "We're on auto-rotate."

Hawke wrestled Airwolf to the ground, and she fell heavily on the landing gear. If he'd thought Dominic had been a bit hard on the landing earlier, that was nothing compared to what he'd just done.

Caitlin let out a loud sigh of relief as they touched the ground safely. "I'm glad you were in the pilot's seat for that landing," said Caitlin.

"I just hope I didn't do any more damage getting her down," said Hawke. He flicked switches hoping that something would come back to life, but the electrics were dead. "What the hell happened?" asked Hawke.

"It was Mannen," said Caitlin.

"Yeah, I'm sure of that," said Hawke. "But what did he do?"

"Whatever it was it's done something to the computers, I can't get even basic schematics up. She's not telling me anything. For all I know Moffet's ghost is back," said Dominic.

"Moffet's ghost?" said Caitlin, turning around in her seat to face Dominic.

"Ah that was before your time," said Dominic. "Airwolf's computers started acting screwy and we had to get one of String's friends in to reprogram them. Moffet had left some kind of program that activated automatically if he ever lost control of Airwolf."

"A Logic Bomb," said Hawke.

"Yeah, that was it," said Santini. "Anyway, caused us a hell of a lot of trouble, the program took control of the autopilot and had us firing at random targets and all sorts."

"Moffet's ghost is gone," said Hawke. "We purged the systems and Karen reprogrammed them."

"Karen?" asked Caitlin.

"That's Dr Hansen to you," said Dominic. "Anyway, it's not the same as Moffet's ghost, this is like every system on board decided to fail at the same time. We weren't chasing false targets, we just dropped out of the sky."

"Whatever it was it got into the fly-by-light and spread through the entire ship," said Hawke. "We don't have time to work out how to fix her, we have to get out of here before Mannen comes looking for us." Hawke took his helmet off and grabbed his battered leather flight jacket from the overhead locker. Caitlin and Dominic followed his lead. Flight suits were fine for on board Airwolf but they weren't warm enough for the cold weather outside.

"Grab the camping gear, Dom," said Hawke. "We may be spending the night out here."

"I've got it String," said Dominic.

Hawke locked up Airwolf, setting the tamper mechanism. Only he, Dominic or Caitlin could open the door now without setting off explosive charges and making the prize worthless. "Let's get moving," said Hawke grabbing a back pack from Dominic.

The three of them headed off in the opposite direction from the terrorists' camp into the woods. The density of the trees was in their favour although it made the going more difficult. They were aiming for the road that they had flown over on the way in but Hawke reckoned that would take them a good day's walking. Hawke knew that Caitlin was the only one of them who was properly fit, Dominic would be the first to admit that he wasn't up to tramping through the forest and Hawke was feeling every step. He had the feeling that they weren't going to make it this time and once again it seemed to be down to his own stupidity for underestimating Mannen.

Mannen, however, was cursing Stringfellow Hawke's name. They had followed Airwolf to the clearing but had arrived to find Hawke and his crew gone. Mannen knew better than to try to open the doors of the helicopter. He finally had the helicopter within his grasp but he couldn't make use of it and that was making him angry. He had been fooled by Hawke and his friends for the last time.

"He shouldn't have been able to get it this far," said Mannen, to an annoyed Alia Krischkov. "The virus I sent to the system should have brought him down immediately."

"You told me yourself not to underestimate him," said Alia.

"Good advice that I should have paid more attention to," said Mannen. "I underestimated his piloting skills."

"Lorenz, get the dogs," said Alia to her second in command. "I want Hawke and his friends found by night fall."

"We need at least one of them alive," said Mannen. "Preferably Hawke, although one of the other two would do."

"I'll bring them in alive," said Richter, "but I can't promise what condition they'll be in."

"As long as they can talk," said Mannen, "that's all I care about. I suggest we post guards on the helicopter in case they decide to double back." Alia nodded at Mannen, pleased that he was again covering all eventualities. Perhaps his lapse in judgement had been only momentary, however once his usefulness was over she would have to think again about whether he had a place in her organisation.

When Hawke heard the dogs behind him he knew that they didn't have long before they were going to be caught.

"We have to split up," he said. "Caitlin, you stand the best chance of making it out, Dom and I just aren't at our best." Dom was too out of breath to add his agreement to Hawke's statement but he nodded.

"Don't talk rubbish, Hawke," said Caitlin. "As long as we keep moving we'll be fine."

"Caitlin, that's bullshit and you know it," said Hawke. "Dom and I will try to hold them here while you make a run for it. Find Elissa and get her to contact Archangel."

Caitlin hesitated. "Okay," she nodded. "But try and stay out of trouble while I'm gone."

"Just go already," said Dominic. Caitlin nodded and headed away from them at a steady jog. "Okay now it's just us, what's the plan?" asked Dominic.

"We hold them off long enough for Caitlin to get a good head start and then we get caught," said Hawke.

"So far, I ain't so keen on this plan," replied Dominic.

"Neither am I but its all I've got," said Hawke, moving behind the trunk of a large tree. He pulled his pistol out from its holster and took the safety off. Dominic took Hawke's cue and found his own tree to hide behind. He pulled out his gun and got ready for the approaching attackers.

Hawke got off the first shot and one of the approaching men went down clutching his shoulder. "Oh make them angry, why don't you," said Dominic. "I'm getting too old for this."

Their pursuers ran for cover as they realised where the shot had come from.

"If you shot at some of them it might help," said Hawke.

"I'm just waiting until I get a good target," said Dominic. A bullet hit the tree that Santini was behind. "Maybe now would be a good time," he said, firing in the general direction of the attackers.

Hawke took aim and fired again. He ducked back as bullets came flying past him. Then he heard a click behind him. He turned around and found he was looking down the barrel of Lorenz Richter's gun. He put his own gun down on the ground and stood up putting his hands behind his head.

"If you want Mr Hawke to live, Mr Santini, then I'd put that gun down," said Richter. Santini dropped the gun and straightened up slowly. Richter's men walked towards Hawke and Dominic cradling their rifles. Hawke just hoped that they'd given Caitlin enough time.

Richter took Hawke and Dominic back to the logging camp. He threw them into a cell and went to get Alia and Mannen. Dominic paced around the cell, while Hawke leant on the bars.

"Will you stop that," said Hawke. "You're wearing a hole in the floor."

"I don't know how you can be so calm," said Dominic. "This is the guy that tried to kill you remember."

"Well he must want us for something or we'd already be dead," said Hawke. They heard voices coming down the hall.

"Where did you send her, Hawke?" said Alia Krischkov, who was walking down the corridor with Richter in tow.

"I don't know what you're talking about," said Hawke as dismissively as he could manage.

"We know about Caitlin," said Alia. "She was with you in Airwolf, and she wasn't with you when we captured you. Where is she?"

"I still don't know what you're talking about," said Hawke.

"Lorenz," said Alia. "Perhaps he needs a little persuasion."

"It would seem that way Alia," said Richter. He motioned to a couple of the guards to unlock the cell and one to hold Hawke. Hawke struggled but it was two against one. Richter and one of the guards pulled his arms behind his back. The guard held Hawke while Richter took great pleasure in hitting Hawke in the stomach. Hawke gasped with pain.

"String!" said Dominic, he attempted to stop Richter but the other guard pushed him against the wall and reminded him that he was the one with the gun. For a moment Dominic didn't care that stopping Richter from hurting Hawke would mean getting shot, but then he thought it through and realised he was no good to String if he got himself killed.

Hawke tried to concentrate on blocking out the pain as Richter hit him again.

"Where is she, Hawke?" asked Alia. "We will find her, so you may as well tell us and save yourself anymore pain." Richter hit him square on the jaw. "Lorenz is going to have a lot of fun making you talk. We haven't even got to the good stuff yet. I'm guessing that you can tell us a lot about the Firm as well."

Mannen walked into the cell. "Don't let Richter get too carried away," said Mannen. "I need him to tell me how to get into Airwolf."

"Go to hell," said Hawke, through bruised lips. He spat blood onto the floor in Mannen's direction. It was about the most defiant gesture he could manage in his current position.

"I'm sure I will," said Mannen. "But I'll be doing it in Airwolf."

Caitlin ran through the woods. She kept running until she heard gun fire and then doubled back. She knew what she was risking but she couldn't let anything happen to Hawke and Santini, not after they had saved her life more than once. She watched Richter and the terrorists take Hawke and Santini to the logging camp, and she followed them at a reasonable distance. They looked okay at least. She noted the building where they took Hawke and Santini and started to think about how she could get them out. They weren't going anywhere without Airwolf but at the moment Airwolf was surrounded by guards and was as good as useless without working computers. She needed to find Elissa or at the very least a radio.

All the terrorists were wearing camouflage combat gear. She was still wearing her Airwolf flight suit and jacket, she decided that looking like a terrorist might help her cause. She took her gun out of its holster, picked one of the sentries that was about her height and took up position around the corner of a building. She turned the gun around and as the guard was about to pass her she hit him over the head as hard as she could with the butt of the gun. The guard fell to the ground without making a sound and Caitlin quickly dragged off his uniform, changed into it as fast as she could, for the finishing touch she pulled his cap down over her red hair. She holstered her handgun and picked up the rifle the guard was carrying. She felt happier with the extra fire power slung over her shoulder. Finally, she pulled the unconscious guard into the bushes, tied him up and gagged him. She hoped he wouldn't be found for some time.

She kept to the shadows around the building but tried not to look as if she was actually hiding, that would draw more attention to her than if she looked as if she belonged. She was looking for Elissa, but at the same time keeping an eye out for Richter. She didn't think Richter or Mannen would know who she was but she didn't want to take any chances either. She spotted what looked like a mess tent and went in.

In the corner of the room sat at a table on her own was Elissa, trying to eat the food that was on the tray in front of her but obviously not enjoying it. Caitlin walked over towards her trying to look purposeful. She sat down opposite her.

Elissa looked up. "What are you doing here?" she whispered urgently.

"String and Dom have been captured," Caitlin whispered back. "Mannen had some device that knocked out Airwolf's computers and String had to make a forced landing. They've got Airwolf surrounded by guards and sat on the ground in a clearing a couple of miles away."

"And Alia Krischkov has Stringfellow Hawke, who has access to top secret Firm files and knows how to pilot Airwolf!" Elissa whispered, this was not what she had wanted to hear. She had hoped that Hawke had withdrawn from the attack for some other reason even though she had suspected technical problems when she watched Hawke fly away from the logging camp.

"Hawke wouldn't give up any information about Airwolf," said Caitlin.

"Everyone breaks in the end, even Hawke. Richter is an expert at making people talk. We have to get him and Santini out," said Elissa.

"What about Airwolf?" asked Caitlin. "That's our only way out of here."

"It's not our only way, Mannen has another helicopter parked out in the compound," replied Elissa. "I couldn't get a proper look at it but it looked like a gunship."

"The computer identified it as a modified Hind. No match for Airwolf." said Caitlin.

"Assuming that we can get Airwolf off the ground again. I've heard about its temperamental computers and I'm no technical expert."

"Mannen broke them so he can fix them," said Caitlin.

"But how are we going to get him to do that?" asked Elissa.

"I don't know," said Caitlin, slightly defeated. "But I'm sure as hell not going to leave String and Dom rotting in that jail cell."

"Mannen has a building he uses as a lab, I was planning on searching it tonight. We might be able to find something to help us there. Until then we have to find somewhere for you to hide."

"It'll be hours before it gets dark, what about String and Dom?" said Caitlin

"Mannen won't let Alia kill them, he needs them to get into Airwolf."

"And in the mean time?" said Caitlin indignantly, shocked by Elissa's lack of concern.

"They'll just have to take care of themselves and we have to hope they don't talk," said Elissa.

"They won't," said Caitlin, "I know it."

"For our sake, I hope you're right," said Elissa. "Besides Hawke and Santini are the least of our problems. Mannen has created a biological weapon for the terrorists and they plan on using it in the next few days. I haven't been able to get a timescale out of Richter but it will definitely be soon. They're planning on using that helicopter to drop a virus bomb into the water supply of a major city. I haven't been able to get more details about it than that. Mannen wants Airwolf so he can fly escort duty."

"We can't let them use it," said Caitlin. "And Airwolf is our best chance for destroying it."

"I agree," said Elissa. "Come on let's get out of here."

Caitlin hid out in a supply room, selected by Elissa for being the least used building in the camp. She waited there until it got dark enough for Elissa to be happy with attempting a raid on Mannen's lab. The two of them slipped out into the pitch darkness of the camp, the night was moonless and the guards search lights were easily avoided. Elissa had stopped off at the terrorist's weapons locker and liberated some plastic explosive and she briefed Caitlin on how to use it. She hoped that they could destroy the virus the terrorists were planning to use with the explosives.

Caitlin followed Elissa to where Mannen had set up his lab. It was a long building that had once been some sort of factory connected to the logging process. They peered in through the window into the dark building. It had been fitted out with trestle tables which Mannen had made use of for his work area and storing various biological agents. The whole building was dark, however both drew their weapons in anticipation of trouble. Elissa picked the lock of the lab and they entered cautiously.

They set about systematically searching through the papers, looking for anything that could help them work out how to get Airwolf back into the air. There was a desk with two desk top computers on it in the corner of the room, with a mound of files on the filing cabinet beside it. Elissa knew when something looked interesting and headed straight for the files.

"Oh my god," said Elissa, "this is it. Letters from Moffet with technical specs for Airwolf, or at least a prototype of Airwolf. They're dated well before Moffet started work at Red Star."

"And the Airwolf computers?" asked Caitlin, shining her torch on to what Elissa had found.

"Nothing yet," said Elissa, "but look at this, there has to be over a hundred letters from Moffet here, all about designs for Airwolf and the systems. This is going to take a while and we don't have the time to go through them all. And even if we find technical information for the computers we don't have the knowledge to use it. I don't understand half of this."

"Yeah, I see the problem. We could have the answer in our hands and not even know it," said Caitlin.

"Moffet would never have given away all his secrets anyway. This isn't a complete picture of Airwolf's systems its just bragging about how good his new toy is, with enough technical details to keep Mannen interested," replied Elissa.

"And make him want one of his own. Moffet sure has a lot to answer for," said Caitlin.

"But we still don't know how to get the computers working again," said Elissa.

"Maybe we can get Mannen to do it for us, if we can get a message to Hawke and Dominic," said Caitlin.

"Are you crazy? Richter will have posted enough guards around them to make Fort Knox look like Disney Land."

"Please," said Caitlin, "we have to try."

Elissa sighed and shook her head. "I guess it's the only way. We still have to find the biological agent that they're planning to release, at the very least we can destroy Mannen's notes on Dragon's Blood so that he can't make anymore."

"Dragon's Blood?"

"The East German code name for the biological agent that Mannen was developing. He killed two of the best agents the Firm had with it last week and I don't intend to let him kill anyone else," said Elissa.

"Friends of yours huh?" asked Caitlin.

"We went through training together," replied Elissa.

"I'm real sorry about that," said Caitlin.

"It's part of the job," said Elissa and made a show of looking through the papers on Mannen's lab bench. Caitlin took the hint and didn't ask anymore questions.

There were some large fridges in the lab and they discovered vials labelled "Dracheblut" inside them stored in biological containment carriers. Elissa explained that this was almost certainly not all the samples of the virus that Mannen had, she didn't think that there was enough contained in the vials for what the terrorists were planning, the rest was most likely already loaded onto the helicopter. However, destroying them might put a spanner in the works. When they had been through everything, Caitlin and Elissa grabbed all of the Airwolf files that they could carry including a box of compact disks that Caitlin had found. Although unlabeled Caitlin knew that they were the type of disk that Airwolf used and she hoped that they would be helpful. Finally, they planted the explosives that Elissa had brought with her and ran for cover.

Hawke lay on a cot in the cell feeling every bruise that Richter had inflicted on him. Everything hurt. He was well aware of the fact that his body was still weak from the illness and he wasn't up to the physical punishment which Richter was inflicting on him. He had no reserves of strength to draw upon, just flying Airwolf had been enough to tire him out. A gash in the side of his head was bleeding profusely, he wouldn't have thought one small ring on Richter's hand could do so much damage. His left eye was already swelling up too and soon he wouldn't be able to open it.

"Sorry I couldn't find anything better, String," said Dominic, handing Hawke a piece of torn up sheet soaked in cold water to hold to the long cut on his head. "Caitlin's going to get help and have us out of here real soon." He sat on the end of the cot looking worried. "Yeah, real soon," he repeated as if saying it again would make it happen.

"Sure, Dom," said Hawke, wishing he could be convinced of that. He had a feeling that things were going to get worse before they got better. When he heard the explosion outside, he knew that he was right. There was a lot of commotion outside, followed by swift orders to deal with the fire that had broken out. Dominic went to the window to try to find out what was going on but he couldn't see much of anything. When the fire had been dealt with, Richter came angrily striding down the corridor.

"Your friend is a pain in the ass, Mr Hawke," he said. "I think we need to step up our timetable."

"What friend?" asked Hawke.

"Yeah, you seem to be having a bit of trouble out there," said Santini.

"Dr Mannen is very unhappy and he isn't someone who is a nice person when he is unhappy," said Richter. "He has a nasty vindictive streak and your friend has just made herself his number one priority. I'm going to give you one last chance to tell me how to get into Airwolf."

"You're wasting your breath, Richter," said Hawke.

Richter turned to the guards. "Take them out into the yard," he said.

This is it, thought Hawke, he's going to kill us. The guards pulled Hawke to his feet and tied his hands behind his back. Santini was likewise tied up and both men were pushed out into the cold of the night. Alia Krischkov stood waiting for them with Franz Mannen pacing in front of the building and looking very, very angry.

"Tie them to the water tower," said Alia. "I know you can hear me, Caitlin!" shouted Alia. "I'm sure that you're around here somewhere. I want you to watch what I'm about to do."

Caitlin and Elissa were hiding in the bushes but could clearly see the water tower. They watched as Alia took a gun out of her belt, it was silver and it glinted in the light of the fire that was still burning from the earlier explosion. Caitlin recognised that it was Hawke's gun, no one else she knew carried one like it.

"Jesus, String looks terrible," said Caitlin. "What is she going to do?"

"Whatever it is, we're not going to like it," said Elissa. "I think we seriously pissed them off when we blew up the lab."

Alia walked over to Hawke. He was doing his best to look defiant but his swollen eye and bleeding head weren't helping. Alia looked Hawke in the eyes, smiled and put the gun to his head.

"I'm going to give you until the count of ten to come out here, otherwise Hawke dies. One! Two!" she paused for a second. "Three!"

"She's going to kill Hawke!" said Caitlin and started to move but Elissa held her back.

"You can't, she'll kill all three of you," said Elissa.

"Caitlin, stay where you are!" shouted Hawke. Alia hit him over the head with the butt of the gun and continued counting as Hawke passed out. On five she pulled back the safety catch.

"I have to go, I can't let her do this," said Caitlin. Elissa finally nodded, even she could see that Caitlin had no choice. "You know the plan, get away from here and be ready at Airwolf," said Caitlin.

"Will do," replied Elissa and she retreated into the bushes.

Caitlin stepped out of the shadows and into the glare of the search lights, she had her hands up and her gun was holstered. Alia put the safety catch back on.

"I'm glad to see that reason has prevailed," said Alia in a patronising tone. "Search her," she said to the guards. "Then take the three of them back to the saw mill."

"Why did you do it, Cait?" said Dominic when they were back locked in the cell.

"I couldn't let them kill String," said Caitlin. Hawke was currently lying oblivious to current events on the bed, still unconscious.

"They couldn't have killed him, they need him," said Dominic.

"I'm not so sure about that," said Caitlin. "You didn't see Mannen's lab. He had Airwolf schematics and flight guides and a whole bunch of other stuff that I couldn't understand. Anyway, you would have been next! Look, I found Elissa, we think we have a plan but we're going to need String to make it work. Is he up to flying Airwolf?"

"Try and stop him," said Dominic. "He's had worse beatings."

Caitlin didn't think that was likely looking at Hawke's face but she would take Dominic's word for it. Hawke stirred on the bed and Dominic went to sit on the end of the bed beside him. "String?" said Dominic. "How you feeling?"

Hawke opened his eyes slowly. "Like I was hit by a truck. I'll survive." He sat up a bit too quickly and had to steady himself against the wall. He put a hand to the bruise Alia had given him and winced.

"String, we have to tell Mannen how to get into Airwolf," said Caitlin.

"Like hell we do," said Hawke.

"Cait reckons she and Elissa have a plan," said Dominic.

"When Richter comes back for round two, you have to tell him how to get into Airwolf, but we need to make it look good," said Caitlin.

"I think we can manage that," said Hawke, but even as he finished the sentence he heard a door slam and Mannen came down the corridor accompanied by two guards. He was still looking incredibly angry. A guard unlocked the cell and Mannen went over to Caitlin and hit her across the face. She cried out in pain and tears were welling in her eyes.

"Caitlin!" shouted Hawke, about to attack Mannen but one of the guards had already positioned himself to stop Hawke, and pointed the barrel of his submachine gun at Hawke's stomach.

"That is for my lab," said Mannen. "And this is for my lost files," he said and hit her again. Caitlin let out a gasp of pain.

"Why don't you pick on someone your own size," said Santini, bunching his fists ready for action.

"Leave her alone," said Hawke. "Its me you want."

"You want me to leave her alone, then tell me how I get into Airwolf," said Mannen. "Or perhaps this will persuade you." He pulled his gun from its shoulder holster and pointed it at Caitlin's head.

"Hawke, don't," said Caitlin, a slow tear made its way down her cheek.

"I have to Cait," replied Hawke, defeated. He turned to Mannen. "Its coded to my finger prints. Only me, Dominic or Caitlin can open it."

"See wasn't that easy, Mr Hawke," said Mannen. "Bring them, we're going to Airwolf."

Hawke hoped he had done the right thing. In the end no acting had been required from either of them, and he already felt guilty about the bruise that would appear on Caitlin's face. He hadn't expected Mannen to come for Caitlin, but when he thought about it, it was an obvious move. He could take the knocks, he was used to it and it was the life he had chosen. But Caitlin had stumbled upon Airwolf and like everyone else, the helicopter had brought her into danger. That was at least partially Hawke's fault.

They arrived at Airwolf. Mannen motioned to Hawke with his gun to open the helicopter. It was still surrounded by guards and spot lights shone on it outlining it starkly against the forest. Caitlin looked around hoping to catch a glimpse of Elissa, it would have reassured her if she had seen the Firm agent but she guessed that Elissa was staying well out of the way. Hawke put his hands on Airwolf's door and opened it. The anti-tamper mechanism automatically disengaged.

"Get in," said Mannen. Hawke said nothing and climbed in. "Mr Santini, open up the engine compartment." Dominic obliged. Mannen disconnected the battery and reconnected it. Inside the cockpit the computers flickered on.

Mannen made his way around the other side of the helicopter to the co- pilots's side and climbed into the Engineer's seat where Santini usually sat. He took a compact disk out of his jacket and inserted it into Airwolf's disk drive.

"Clever," said Hawke. "A hard reboot of the system. Not enough to get rid of the virus but long enough for you install whatever is on that disk. Which I assume will disinfect the system and then you have control of Airwolf."

"Very astute, Mr Hawke," said Mannen. "Now we're going take this helicopter for a test drive and you're going to tell me everything I need to know about its systems."

"I don't think so," said Hawke. He reached under the seat and turned around to face Mannen with a gun in his hand, the baby brother of the one he usually carried. Mannen laughed.

"I still have your friends, Mr Hawke," said Mannen. "If you hurt me, then I will hurt them."

"Not for much longer," said Hawke. On cue, a ring of explosions rang around the clearing. Trees collapsed inwards towards the soldiers who suddenly were in complete disarray. Elissa had taken that moment to spray bullets around the clearing sending everyone running for cover. A fire fight had started in earnest.

"Get out of my helicopter," said Hawke to Mannen with obvious hatred. Caitlin and Dominic ran round to the co-pilot's side of the helicopter, ducking bullets as they went. Dominic picked up one of the guard's abandoned weapons and joined Hawke in covering Mannen. He was left with no choice, he got out of the back seat of Airwolf and climbed on to the ground. He watched helplessly as Hawke powered up the engines and Dominic and Caitlin scrambled in, closed the doors and put their helmets on. Mannen ran for the jeep which had taken them to the clearing and drove away in a cloud of dust.

"String, Mannen's getting away," said Dominic.

"Let him go," said Hawke. "We have to pick up Elissa, even she can't hold all these guards off forever."

"Hawke, the terrorists have a biological weapon," said Caitlin. "We destroyed most of the virus Mannen had in his lab but we think the rest was already strapped to that helicopter."

"Think?" said Hawke, as he manoeuvred the helicopter to the side of the clearing so that Elissa could climb in. Dominic held the door open for the agent and helped her in.

"They call it Dragon's Blood," said Elissa. "We think it's a bio engineered form of Small Pox. Although the last case of Small Pox was reported in 1977 and it was officially declared eradicated in 1980, we know that some governments, particularly the USSR, have been experimenting with it as a weapon."

"Just tell me how to destroy it," said Hawke.

"A couple of Hellfires should do it," said Elissa. "If we're lucky they won't even have got the Hind off the ground."

"We're not," said Dominic. "I've got a bogie lifting off from the camp, identified as the Hind."

"We're going to have to destroy it," said Caitlin.

"Yeah," said Hawke.

"We've got a call incoming," said Dominic. The radio clicked on.

"Hawke, before you bring that black destroyer of yours to blast me out of the sky, I thought you might like to know about your brother," said Mannen.

"What about my brother?" asked Hawke.

"He's coming this way String," said Dominic.

"What about my brother?" repeated Hawke. "Tell me what happened to him!"

Mannen in the Hind opened fire with his chain guns. Hawke pulled Airwolf to the left out of the path of bullets.

"I used him as a lab rat," said Mannen, and cut the circuit.

Hawke said nothing for a moment and no one else wanted to break the silence. Finally, Hawke spoke. "Bring the sidewinders on line, Dominic."

"On line, pods deployed," said Dominic.

Mannen had turned the Hind and was about to start another attack run on Airwolf. Hawke made a tight turn working with the rotor torque to pull the craft around faster. Hinds had been in service since the early 70s but this wasn't one of the early models. Mannen had done something to this particular helicopter, it was faster than the ones he'd come across before and the weapon specs were wrong. The two helicopters faced each other. Hawke and Mannen looked at each other through the cockpit windshields. If either fired at this range then they risked damaging themselves. Hawke reached up to the side of his helmet and closed the visor.

Hawke broke to the right, pulled a tight turn and hit the turbos. The force of the engines firing threw the back of the seat into Hawke. Mannen followed building up speed in the Hind that Hawke would have thought impossible. He shouldn't have been able to follow Airwolf when the turbos had kicked in, Hawke had planed to turn around and catch him from behind but that didn't seem to be an option.

"He can't run forever," said Mannen. He fired a heatseeker at Airwolf.

"Incoming," said Dominic. "It's a Russian Atoll, similar to sidewinder."

"Sunburst," said Hawke, pulling up quickly as the sunburst fell away. The missile took the bait and exploded as it hit the sunburst. The Hind was still on their tail as Hawke flew up and it fired again.

"Its another Atoll, heatseeking. Firing sunburst."

The missile impacted with the sunburst and exploded.

"This is getting boring," said Hawke. Mannen was obviously fed up with the game of chase as well, he fired two missiles in quick succession.

"I bet you're sorry you spoke now," said Dominic.

"Dom, give me two sunbursts," said Hawke.

"Coming up," said Dom. One of the missiles took the sunburst but the second didn't. "One of them's still coming," said Dom.

Hawke needed to shake the missile quickly, even using the turbos Airwolf couldn't out run a missile, eventually it would catch up with him. He flew low over the trees, there were no convenient hills for him to slam the missile into he'd have to do this the hard way. There was a highway running beside the trees and Hawke aimed for it hoping he'd have enough time to put his plan into action.

"Its still on our tail," said Dominic.

Hawke skimmed down the highway almost touching the surface of the road and as the road bent around the corner he pulled up as quickly as he could. Behind him the missile found its path blocked by trees and it exploded in the forest, turning the woods below them into a raging bonfire.

"I've never seen that before," said Elissa.

"Me neither, and I'd rather not see it again," said Dominic.

"Agreed," said Hawke, "Its time to shake this guy."

"He's fast," said Caitlin.

"That's what I'm counting on," said Hawke.

He let the Hind catch up to him and then cut the turbos. He swapped places with the Hind and became the pursuer. He pressed the fire button and a sidewinder launched. Mannen dodged the heatseeker with a tight turn to the right, and the missile slammed into the forest below. He was a good pilot, Hawke had no doubt about that. He was going to need to pull something out of the bag to hit someone like Mannen, he didn't have the time to wait until he made a mistake. Hawke speeded up until he was as close to the Hind as he dared be.

"String, you're too close," said Santini with urgency in his voice. "If you fire now, we'll go up with him."

Hawke ignored Santini. "Everyone hang on, this is going to be tight," said Hawke.

He fired, and immediately pulled up and left, away from his target, and this time he didn't miss. The sidewinder hit the main body of the craft and turned the helicopter into bright, flaming, wreck of torn metal. The explosion rocked Airwolf slightly but it was nothing that Hawke couldn't handle. The Hind fell to the ground and lay burning, billowing black smoke.

"There's no way he's walking away from that one," said Caitlin.

"We have to make sure that the virus is destroyed," said Elissa.

"Dom, give me the Hellfires," said Hawke.

"Online," said Dominic.

Hawke locked onto the target and fired twice. The missiles impacted with the wreckage and caused further explosions within the metal shell that had once been the Hind.

"Will that be enough?" asked Hawke.

"It should be more than enough," said Elissa.

"Let's deal with the camp," said Hawke. He flew over the logging camp, soldiers were running everywhere, some trying to find weapons, others just running away. They had witnessed what had happened to the Hind and now most of them had realised that they were on the wrong side. He took a second pass over the camp chain guns blazing. Some of the terrorists had manned one of the Ack-Ack guns but without the fire-power of the Hughes to back it up it was easy to target and take out. Hawke fired a couple of Hellfires into the buildings just for good measure.

"Dominic, get Archangel on the radio and tell him to get out here," said Hawke.

"Sure thing, String," said Dominic.

Hawke looked at the smoking buildings, could it be that they had finally managed to destroy Kira's Army? "Let's go home," he said, and even he could hear the tiredness in his voice. He needed a good night's sleep somewhere warm and dry. He turned Airwolf for home.

They dropped Elissa off at the Firm before taking Airwolf back to the Lair. Hawke took off his helmet, put it on the seat and climbed out of the helicopter. He closed the door and stood back to look at the sleek lines, beautifully aerodynamic. Dominic had started calling her "the Lady" when he had first brought her back from Libya, and it had kind of stuck. Once again she had brought them home safe, but Hawke wondered not for the first time, what his life would have been like without her.

Caitlin and Dominic refused to let Hawke go back to the cabin alone, their reasoning was that he was tired and not up to flying all that way himself. When he pointed out that they were all tired as well, Dominic told him to look in the mirror. He guessed that he must look pretty awful with one eye swollen half closed and a long gash down the other side. He gave in and Dominic flew them to the cabin on Eagle lake. He had the whole evening planned out, a nice glass of wine, a roaring fire and the company of two good friends. It would have been perfect except that when they arrived at the lake a white jet ranger was already parked on the dock.

When Hawke opened the door of his cabin he was greeted by the sight of Marella and Archangel sat by the fire. Archangel had a glass of wine in his hand and Marella was holding a toasting fork with a piece of bread on the end to the fire.

"Ah Hawke," said Michael, half turning in his chair. "Can I offer you a glass of this superb wine?"

"You could, if it was yours to offer," replied Hawke.

"We got bored waiting," said Marella.

Caitlin and Dominic came in, followed by a slightly limping Tet.

"Make yourselves at home, why don't you," said Dominic.

"It's not very polite to storm into a person's home uninvited you know," said Caitlin. "There is such a thing as wanting a little privacy you know."

"It's just as well that we did come by, it looks as if you had a bit of trouble up here," said Archangel. Marella rested the toasting fork on a plate and went to get the bottle of wine and more glasses from the bar.

Hawke noticed that the windows which had been smashed had been replaced and the glass and other debris cleared up. Tet even had a proper bandage on his paw rather than the makeshift one that Hawke had applied.

"You've been busy, Michael," said Hawke.

"Just my way of saying thank you for averting a biological weapons disaster," said Archangel. "I can't do much about the painting unfortunately, but it certainly adds to the work's history. The next thing you're going to do is let Marella look at your face and clean those cuts. You too Caitlin."

"Me?" said Caitlin, "I'm fine, its just a couple of bruises. Hawke's the one who needs medical attention"

"No arguments," said Archangel. "While we're doing that you can tell me all the bits that Elissa missed out."

Hawke was too tired to pick a fight with Archangel, he sat on the sofa while Marella examined his face, checked him all over for broken bones, and finally applied stinging antiseptic to all the cuts he had (which turned out to be a lot). When Marella had finished with Hawke she moved on to Caitlin and gave her the same treatment. All the while Hawke was telling Archangel what had happened in Dragonville. Archangel occasionally asked a question but otherwise he let Hawke tell his story, with short interruptions from Caitlin and Dominic.

"So Mannen is dead. You're sure this time?" asked Archangel.

"Michael, I pulled the trigger myself. There wasn't anything left of that chopper by the time we'd finished with it. Ask Elissa if you don't believe me," said Hawke.

"I did and she said the same thing," said Archangel. "I hope you didn't believe what he said about St. John."

"I don't know what to believe, Michael. Do you have proof that what he said isn't true?" asked Hawke.

"No," said Archangel, "but don't you think that Mannen was just trying to make you angry so that you'd loose your head and make a mistake?"

"Yeah, he was, but that doesn't mean it wasn't based on fact," said Hawke.

"Hawke, I know how badly you want to find your brother, but I've been digging and I couldn't find any records of a St John Hawke in East Germany. We have regular exchanges of prisoners with the East Germans and his name would have been on the list if he was there. I think you have to assume that even if he was one of the prisoners that Mannen transferred, then he didn't stay in East Germany."

"Don't worry Michael, I'm not planning a holiday to East Germany any time soon," said Hawke

"I'm glad to hear it. Of course there is just one other problem, Alia Krischkov and Richter were never found. We think they managed to get away into the forest."

"That's your problem, not mine," said Hawke.

"Yes, it is," said Archangel. "Its time for us to go, Marella."

"Yes, sir," said Marella. "I just need to pack up the medical kit." Archangel stalked out of the cabin towards the helicopter.

"Why do I get the feeling that he isn't telling me something important," said Hawke to Marella as she packed away her medical supplies.

"I shouldn't tell you this," said Marella. "But I guess you should know and he'd never tell you. Archangel was the one who brought in Kira Krischkov, Alia's sister. Alia isn't just out to get the United States for what we did to her sister, she's out to personally get Michael Coldsmith Briggs III."