|This is the second in my alternative universe. As Every Mother's Son introduced
the series, It's How you Play the Game provides the answers to some of the
questions left behind not only from the first fiction, but from the series.
Keith Robinson is an actual living person and is a member of the Robinson
family who own rights to Niihau. There is no attempt made here to depict
him as he might actually be, his name is merely used as one would to place
an event in historical perspective. So, Mr. Robinson, if you are out there,
there is no intent to offend you.
Date: February 1980
IT'S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME
Eugene Caputo strolled slowly across the beachfront property along Waikiki. He nodded happily. "This I like," he said placidly to his brother. "The place is so simple. Clean air, lovely climate, beautiful flowers and--other things." His gazed followed a bikini-clad teenager. "A pineapple waiting the picking." He reminded himself that he had been advised that young women in Hawaii looked more at the wallet than the face. It did not matter that his hair was graying, and his nose betrayed his Italian heritage. His wallet had sex appeal.
"There are considerations," Anthony called his attention back to the issue at hand. They entered the Sheraton and rode the elevator toward the eighth floor. "Good access to Hong Kong markets but you could be trapped. There's only two ways out of here: Air and sea. And the Kumu will not just sit by; they will be trouble."
Eugene laughed and patted his younger brother on the shoulder. "Have you lost your spirit? Akila and his bumpkin islanders won't touch us. They all fear this McGarrett and his Five-O police. When you beat the toughest kid on the block, the rest fall in line. And when we get done with McGarrett, these islands will be our personal pearls." He entered their suite.
Anthony was not convinced. "You don't know this man, Gino."
He raised a hand, gesturing to the collection of men waiting. "Not now, Anthony. And I know enough. I am a good study of the human condition. I know what will make him knuckle under." From an attaché, he pulled out several itineraries. He scanned the faces of the assembled group. Some of them looked promising; some were little more than local thugs. Time would tell. How they played would also determine their future roles. "We will act swiftly," he announced with authority. "The element of surprise is our biggest edge, so it must not be wasted. You men have each been selected because of your special talents. I was told you are some of the best the Islands have to offer." He paused and scanned the faces again. "Yes, well we will see. In these envelopes are your orders. You will operate in pairs so I can see your ability to cooperate. And do not forget that you are dealing with the toughest man in Hawaii. Take no unnecessary risks. Follow them to the letter and you will be rewarded not only a bonus to your fee but with power once the Caputos run these islands. If you fail--there will be no second chances. If I do not remove you, our opponent will. Remember, timing is everything--everything." He handed an envelope containing airline tickets to one pair. "You are the first. Your flight to San Diego leaves in two hours. After that, McGarrett will quickly learn the rules for the game. He should be a very worthy challenge." He proceeded to pass out the rest of the papers. He smiled at his brother. "For some men it would be an attack on themselves, or their finances and possessions. For McGarrett, it is his fierce loyalty to his team. Without the eyes and ears of his unit, McGarrett alone is helpless."
The air of San Diego was always dirty. It was the one of the big things Frank Kamana had never adjusted to. That and the long look he got from time to time when the Californians thought he was Hispanic and couldn't understand why he didn't speak Spanish. It was a department joke. As chief detective, he could afford to let them laugh. He pulled his car off the crowded freeway as he noticed the odd thump-thump of a flat. Once on the shoulder, he got out and inspected the right rear tire. He kicked the rubber once and issued a curse. He'd bought all new tires 5,000 miles ago. It was just his luck to get a bad one. He could see himself sitting in the Sears Tire Store for hours this coming Saturday. He opened the trunk and pulled out the jack. As he leaned in for the spare, he heard footsteps.
"Hey, want a hand?" a friendly voice asked.
He started to turn to greet the Samaritan, but never completed the action. He was clubbed senseless with an aluminum baseball bat. The assailant and his partner collected Frank's inert body and lugged him into the shadows where their car was waiting.
Ben Kokua unlocked the door to his new home. It still had a new strangeness to it and the smell of fresh paint that he liked. He enjoyed being division director of the state police on Maui. It was a good, quiet job. He still worked for McGarrett, but not so close. That was good for his ulcer.
"Iliki!" he called to his wife. No answer. The note on the table said she was shopping. He speculated about what treasure she would bring home to decorate their new house. He'd never owned a new home before and, although driving a new car as pleasurable, it did not begin to match the pride he took in this house. He strolled out onto the back patio. He spotted a crumpled paper towel on the terrazzo floor and bent to pick it up. Caputo's man, hiding behind the door, struck him over the head and he collapsed to the stone deck.
Tahiti was still a paradise. Kono had never regretted accepting a head of security position for the largest hotel. He wished the strict regulations had been placed on Honolulu forty years ago that were here. It might still look like this. Sometimes he missed the States, but not often. He left his office to check out a "funny noise" a cleaning woman had reported in the basement. As he opened the door, he flipped the light switch. The bulb did not come on.
"Anyone there?" he called. He pulled out the flashlight and snapped the safety off his pistol but did not draw it. He stepped out into the room and was struck from behind with a gun butt. He dropped heavily the floor, unconscious.
Kimo Carew picked up his jacket from the back of his chair. His day at Five-O was done. He liked Hawaii well enough, but after eight months still missed Boston. There'd been three inches of snow in Massachusetts this morning. "Say, Truck," he called to the large Hawaiian, "busy tonight?"
He gave an uncommitted response.
"I rented a garage space to work on my Corvette. I could use the help," Kimo suggested with a grin. He knew Truck was a sucker for old cars. The two of them had already refinished a 1964 Impala. The salty air was hell on the body of these old beauties. "Wait till you see the paint I got."
Truck grinned. "I had a date, but she's nothing special. Let me give her a quick call."
Kimo shook his head. It was just like Truck to turn down a girl for a car.
They stopped for a quick bite to eat at a Chinese shop then Kimo took them to his rented garage space. "Here it is." He pulled the tarp off the car revealing the primed 1966 Corvette Stingray.
"Nice." Truck ran a hand over its gray finish. "What color?"
Kimo picked up the paint. "Metallic red."
There was the clanging sound of a metal object falling in the corridor outside. Kimo went back towards the door. "Someone there?"
Two men burst into the room swinging a large wrench and a tire iron. Kimo staggered back, reaching inside his jacket for his gun. The tire iron cracked against his arm and he went down, clutching his right forearm.
The wrench slammed against Truck's skull and he crashed to the cement, senseless. Kimo scrambled away, making a left-handed grab for his gun. He ducked the man with the wrench. As he turned, he caught the tire iron in his face. The last thing he felt was the blood rushing to his mouth.
"Damn," one of the men remarked. "Better call someone, Charlie. We got two instead of one."
Lori Wilson carried the bag of groceries out to her car. The evening air was still warm, a breeze rustling the trees. She set the bag down on the hood of the car and started to unlock the door. There was a roar of an engine as a black van raced into the parking lot. She turned and as she did, a man leapt at her from behind a car. She called out once as he grabbed her from behind and jammed a rag into her mouth. She tried to duck and throw him off balance, but he was ready for the maneuver and twisted her arms fiercely behind her back. She gave another muffled cry of pain as he pulled her into the van. They were gone as quickly as they'd arrived.
Nick Takea tucked his textbook under his arm and headed away from the university lecture hall towards the parking lot. He glanced at his watch: 9:30 p.m. Just enough time to get home and spend a little time when Cheryl before boning up for his criminal justice final tomorrow.
Two men approached. He paid them no attention until one pulled a gun directly in front of him. "I can shoot you now. Or you can come with me."
Nick stared at the small caliber weapon. "What is this?"
He was surprised that they had known him by name. "What do you want?" He moved as they directed him towards a black van.
The door slid open. "Just get in." He obeyed, still keeping his hands over his head.
The other kidnapper shoved him him further in impatiently. "Let's go."
Steve McGarrett examined the scene in the grocery store parking lot as the evening shadows deepened. He glanced inside Lori's bag of groceries that had started to thaw on the hood.
"Very little to go on," a police officer said. "Black van, several men, no one could say much."
Steve flexed his jaw. "A planned abduction in a public place a no one saw a thing?" He glanced around and walked back to his car. I didn't want a female on the team. I didn't like being forced to make this politically correct statement. Now she is at risk. He snatched up the radio microphone. "Central, have you reached Carew?"
"No, sir," the dispatch crackled back.
He frowned. It was not like Kimo to be completely unreachable even when off duty.
Frank felt the world gradually stop spinning and realized he lay on a floor in a small tenement apartment room which was barren of furniture. He attempted to move and discovered his legs were cuffed to a heater grate with his own handcuffs. The key lay on the floor about ten feet away. Even by straining and reaching, it was totally ungraspable. The door opened and two men entered. One held a Polaroid camera; the other came close and took out a switchblade knife. Touching the button, the blade sprang out glimmering in the poor light. He grinned. "Smile for the camera." The hired assassin suddenly leaned out towards Frank, slashing the ex-Five-O officer's wrists.
Frank cried out, trying desperately to apply pressure against the blood flow.
The first man flashed a picture. They turned to leave. "Do the best you can," the one with the knife encouraged, "you may hold out for a little while."
As the sun rose on the Pacific, McGarrett, unrested, anxiously awaited any leads on Lori's kidnapping. Forensics had been useless. He'd left calls at both Kimo and Truck's apartments that they had never answered. Seven o'clock came and went. "Jenny." He walked out to her desk. "Where is everybody?" He had a gut feeling that something very big was very wrong. There'd been no ransom call, no crackpot claiming responsibility, no reason for Lori's disappearance. Whoever did this has an angle, but what was it?
"Duke called in this morning," she supplied. "His fifteen year old son didn't come home last night."
Steve scowled. Lori and now Duke's son missing. Co-incidence? A lot on teenagers stayed out all night once or twice. Where are Kimo and Truck? An overnight delivery courier entered.
Over night express letter for Steve McGarrett."
Jenny took it and signed for it, then handed the envelope to Steve. As he began to open it, the phone rang and she picked it up. "Five-O." She listened quietly. "Would you hold please?" She pressed the hold button and turned to him, concern etching her expression. "Steve, it's a Captain Hendrix, San Diego Police."
He didn't answer right away. He was staring at the Polaroid photo in his hand. "Frank Kamana is dead," he murmured. He numbly picked up the phone. "McGarrett here."
"One of your ex-officers, Frank Kamana," Hendrix said. "He was found dead about twenty minutes ago following an anonymous tip. Wrists slashed. A note was found with the body that said to notify you. What do you know about this?"
Not as much as I wish I knew. He hesitated to get his emotions in line. His anger was at a flash boil. His voice was calm, but his knuckles white as he gripped the receiver. "Captain, I was just handed a photo of Frank taken by his killer. We'll do what we can in the lab at this end. Please keep me informed regarding your progress and we'll do the same here," he replied. Hendrix gave an appropriate answer Steve later could not recall. After he hung up, McGarrett pulled the note from the envelope by one corner. Printed in letters cut from a magazine was: #1 MANY HAPPY RETURNS.
"Steve, what does it mean?" Jenny asked.
He didn't reply. Good God, what kind of monster would do this? And this is just the first. Lori is somehow tied up in this. And what of the others? Kimo and Truck are apparently missing also. Frank had been on the mainland for two years. I need to contact as many as I can. No one is safe. He froze as a thought struck him. There are no phones in Niihau! He picked up the phone and flipped through his Rolodex. He quickly dialed a number.
The young masculine voice at the other line announced, "Coast Guard."
Niihau, the Forbidden Island, is a place that exists in a bubble of its own reality. Life is slow and still as it once was through out the Hawaiian Islands. The primary job supplier is the Robinson family and nearly all the adults work for them. It is a society that keeps to itself and is reasonably effective at keeping out unwanted visitors. It is rare for an outsider to be invited to visit; even more rare for one to be invited to stay.
Dan Williams, shirtless in the early morning heat, carried a shotgun and canteen to the sheriff's department jeep, then turned back to his office. It had not been easy to come here. It was only of mild consolation that he was the first white man ever to be offered a permanent job on the Robinsons' island. Compared with the crime in Honolulu, it was like a perpetual vacation. The Robinsons had decided to establish their own limited law enforcement--a department of one--which, for this place, was a marked change. It was still supported by Kauai's police if arrests and detention became necessary. The common crime was that of trespassing by unwanted curiosity seekers and all it ever took was the appearance of the jeep with the gold star on the side to get them to leave. It had taken the full six months to finally adjust to the slow pace and enjoy the life. The biggest bust he'd made here was the ten-year-old who broke a window with his baseball and ran. He patrolled his island diligently, more concerned about environmental impact studies and counting monk seals than in crime. It had been hard to accept the change. He'd thrived on the adrenaline highs of his Five-O job, but now he was learning a new yet old way. Largely responsible for this adjustment was the relationship with a lovely girl of pure Hawaiian blood, Noelani Ka'chelauli'i.
She bounded up the three steps to his small office laughing in the morning sun. "Danny? Danny?" The breeze caught her long black hair and blew it back from her face.
He turned to her. "Yes, Lani?" He smiled as she came in the door, thankful she was there.
"My mother spoke to the Kahuna last night," she announced. "She wants you to come today."
He put his arms over her shoulders and drew her close. "I'm going to marry you, Lani, I don't need a Kahuna to agree."
"But my mother does. She believes in the old ways," Lani replied. "Please come by. She will make you something good to eat."
He easily envisioned the wonderful cuisine Lani's mother was capable of. The woman took great pride in announcing to the whole village that her daughter, Noelani, was the most beautiful girl on Niihau and had bewitched the haole kahana. It wasn't too far from wrong. But Ibe Ka 'chelauli'i spoke no English, like many of the older villagers, and every time Danny was there she and the other women would titter constantly amongst themselves about him.
"I told Keith I'd go up the mountain today and look at the sheep," he answered. "Can we make it tomorrow?"
She looked disappointed. You have plenty of time to check on those stupid animals and get back here." She cocked her head with a little smile. "I won't let Aunt 'Ileu come near."
He sighed and released her, picking up his shirt from the back of the chair.
"Danno," she persisted and said slowly, "Ahonui."
He rolled his eyes. She had been teaching him the native dialect and he was a quick study. Her reminder was to have patience with her family. "Okay," he agreed, "just for you. But you'd better keep Aunt 'Ileu out." But he knew she couldn't.
She kissed his cheek. "I love you." She scampered back out the door. He watched her go. Young, barely twenty, and he twice her age. He was glad to be on Niihau where such age differences were not only accepted but encouraged. He began to button up the khaki shirt and hesitated momentarily, eyeing the six inch long scar running up his chest with the peculiar one and a half inch diameter sunburst shape scar centered over his heart. Odd how things change one's whole life. The bullet that had nearly killed him eight months ago had indirectly given him this whole new life. It had shattered more than his chest; a relationship had blown apart, too. In spite of Lani's gentle urging and his own sense of guilt, he could not bring himself to make contact with McGarrett. Their parting had been bitter. Steve had replaced him within a week of the shooting, then tossed him towards Keith Robinson as his cast off. Well, Lani makes it all worth while in the end. The only one of his old friends he ever communicated with was Kono. Danny had described his new position to Kono by using one of Grandpa Willis' old Sunday School lessons and comparing himself to the shepherd watching the sheep. Kono commented in a friendly way that he was being sacrilegious. He wished he could talk to Kono more often. But he'd left Niihau only twice since arriving, once for a doctor's appointment and two months ago for the trial of Robert Chaney. He had never quite shaken the feeling he'd been abandoned here.
Lani ran down the porch to the crushed shell road, totally preoccupied with joy. Had she been a child of Chicago or even Honolulu, she would have been ever on guard for what was around her, but she lived in a fairytale land of safety and was not prepared for the man who stepped out from behind a clump of kiawe. A hand grabbed her by the throat, another covered her muffled cry. She froze in fear.
"You call Williams out here," the man who held her whispered into her ear and motioned to his partner who stood up against the wall by the door with the shotgun taken from the jeep.
Lani was overcome with paralyzing terror. "Danny!" she managed to call, fear tightening her throat. She tried to swallow her panic. "Danny!"
He stepped to the door. "Wha-" He saw her held fast by a white man--a stranger. All the instincts that had lain dormant these months came rushing to the surface. This kind of thing here seemed unbelievable. I am here to protect these people. How could I have been so careless? In the flash of a moment his mind raced through every possibility of what this intruder could want. Not sex because he would have simply snatched Lani. Money? Sanctuary?
"Out here," her captor ordered him.
He stepped slowly down to the roadway. "What do you want?" He demanded authoritatively. He noticed the second man fall in behind with the shotgun from the jeep. He cursed himself again for being so careless about leaving it there. This isn't supposed to happen here. How did they get here?
"Drive." Lani's captor pointed to the jeep.
"Let her go," Danny demanded. "She can't mean anything to you."
He laughed. "But she means something to you. She'll keep you in line." He motioned again to the jeep, planting the sobbing Lani firmly in the passenger side. "Drive."
Danny slid in behind the wheel, the men climbed in over the back. "Where?"
"Up there." He gestured to the road winding up the mountain.
He started the jeep and pushing in the clutch, shifted into first. His hand lingered for a moment to give Lani a small reassuring squeeze. "It'll be all right," he whispered.
The shotgun stock slammed against the side of Danny's head, nearly knocking him out of the vehicle and he cursed in fury while Lani issued a startled shriek of new terror.
"Don't be touching her--just drive."
Shaking his head to clear his vision, he restarted the stalled jeep and they started up the hillside.
When they'd traveled about four miles into the kiawe and ironwood pines, the gunman told Danny to stop. "Let's take a walk," he announced.
Danny had spent the ten minute ride attempting to decide if the first one, dressed in an old camouflage shirt and a beat up ball cap was in charge or his partner who wheedled the weapon. I need to divide them. "Look, why don't you tell me what it is you want."
"I want you to get the hell out of that jeep," the one in the ball cap said.
They all got out. "Okay, now what is this about?" Danny tried again.
The one with the gun chuckled. "It's about you, Williams."
His heartbeat quickened. They know my name. "Okay, you've got me. Now let her go," Danny insisted again. "She isn't necessary in this."
The first one snapped the wad of gum in his mouth. He glanced at his partner. "Well, what cha think? I don't see any reason for us to keep her, do you?"
"Naw," he agreed.
Danny felt hopeful; at least Lani would be safe. "If you don't need her anymore, just let her go."
"You're right. We don't need her anymore." The man with the shotgun leveled it on the girl and she screamed.
"No!" The brief moment of hope was washed away in the flood of new horror. Danny leapt on him just as he fired. The blast threw Lani against the jeep, she slid to the ground, limp. Danny and the gunman wrestled a moment over the weapon, before the first man grabbed hold of Danny's shirt and yanked him back. With a twist, Danny pulled free of the open shirt, and in rage lunged back towards the man with the weapon. But the gunman was ready; the butt of the shotgun slammed against the side of Danny's head and he collapsed to the gravel road, dazed, and blood trickling down through his hair. "Lani," he mumbled trying to move towards her.
The man with the shotgun bludgeoned his head again with the butt, then swung the barrel around to point at his now senseless victim.
"Hey," called the other, "remember what that Caputo guy said: follow his orders exactly."
He tossed the weapon aside regretfully. "I should kill him."
"This'll be just as good," the other promised. "Let's get him outta here."
Lori sat huddled in the corner of the closet floor. She had been there through the night, untouched, but in the dark. The luminescence of her watch revealed it was now approaching noontime. Her abductors had given no explanation, but there had to be one. She had spent the first four hours of her incarceration patiently working her way through the knots that tied her hands behind her. It kept her mind busy and helped her keep the fear at bay. Having accomplished the feat, it provided assurance that escape must be possible.
She now heard heavy footsteps approaching. She braced herself, ready to leap as they unlocked the door. The hand was on the knob, a click, it turned. A crack of light began to show. She slammed herself forward against the old hollow-core door prepared for the light to blind her.
The door hit the man with full force and he stumbled backward, unprepared for her attack.
She maintained her forward momentum, blinking fiercely, already zeroing in on the door from the room.
The man sprawled on the floor in front of the open closet door shouted angrily for his partner who was in the front room. As Lori charged into the room, the second man leapt towards her, avoiding her vicious kick. Grabbing hold of her arm, he swung her off course; she ran face first into the edge of the open doorway to the room she'd just left.
Stunned, she crashed to the floor, arms and legs flying in all directions. She lay still, not unconscious, but dazed.
The second man laughed and poked her with his foot, observing the free flow of blood from her nose. "Now that's gotta hurt."
The first man joined him. "Man, RD, did ya have to go make her a mess like that? Just when I was getting some great plans."
"Five-O's newest tough cop," RD laughed, not seeming to care his partner had just revealed his name. "Let's hear it for sexual equality." He gave a menacing grin. "You really are a pretty lady -- for a cop."
She glared at them. "I don't know what you think this is--" she started.
RD kicked her in the face . She fell back and he kicked her again in the stomach. She brought up a hand to wipe away the new gush of blood from her nose. He pulled her back to her feet, tearing her blouse. "I'm not getting' paid to listen to you talk. I know exactly what this is, and you don't."
"Seems like the plan is really waste of talent," the first man complained as he walked over the kitchen range in the corner and picked up the roll of duct tape. He came back and taped Lori's wrists together behind her, wrapping the tape tightly around them several times. "See ya get out of that now." He tore off another length of tape and taped it firmly across her mouth.
She glared at him, not willing to give him the pleasure of watching her struggle.
"I can tell -- you really don't understand this now, do you?" He whispered in her ear, then stuck his tongue into her ear canal.
She could not hold back the shudder of disgust.
"You know, I can think of a much prettier picture than the boss had in mind," he murmured to his partner.
"We are supposed to follow the rules," he replied, walking over and turning on the gas jet to the old oven.
RD followed behind him, turning the valve back off. "Not quite yet. Now, you just go get that little old Polaroid. I'm gonna give ol' Steve McGarrett a picture he ain't gonna forget none too soon." He opened the belt of his pants.
McGarrett's first reaction was nausea. For a moment he thought he'd vomit all over his mahogany desk. Duke stood before him anxious and drawn, observing how pale Steve had become.
"You all right?" he asked.
He couldn't speak. A child had delivered the picture in a sealed envelope. Innocence used to bring such atrocity. "See if the boy can recognize any of the mug shots," he managed to utter, gesturing to the little boy sitting at Jenny's desk swinging his feet and munching on a peppermint hard candy. Steve knew that as appalling as it was to photograph a rape in progress, Lori had been alive in the picture, but then, Frank had been alive for at least a short time after the picture of him had been taken, too. This one was labeled simply: #2. "Nothing on your son?"
Duke shook his head. "The FBI has a wire tap set up. There's been no call. Steve, I don't know what to do."
McGarrett refused to admit he didn't either. Keep doing something; there has to be something. "I spoke with Inspector Vickers in Chicago a few minutes ago." Steve placed the picture face down on his desk next to the one of Frank. "It appears we could be dealing with the Caputo Family."
"The Caputo Crime Syndicate?"
Steve nodded. "The FBI reports they are gone, both of them. They booked a flight to Honolulu the day before yesterday. Vickers thinks they want very much to add the islands to their operation. It fits their mo." He tapped the photos. "They intimidate, demonstrate their power by attacking law enforcement. In Cleveland they mailed the police chief his detective's head in a box. But there has never been more than circumstantial evidence -- until now. They won't get away with this one," he promised himself as much as Duke. "Not this time."
Duke had paled at the mention of the decapitation. He could not help but connect the grizzly act to the welfare of his son.
Steve read the expression. "We'll find your son, Duke. The FBI is already working this. This island isn't that big. We'll find him. You have my word on that."
Jenny stood in the doorway, anguish in her eyes. "Steve." She held out a plain envelope with shaking hands. "It was on the floor in the lobby downstairs."
With a sinking feeling, Steve accepted it carefully. They would, of course, dust it for prints, but many people had handled it. He knew it would not be likely to reveal anything. Noting it sealed, he cut it open carefully with a penknife. "Oh no," he whispered. "Truck." Truck had been almost hung, rope around his neck, stretched so that standing on tiptoe he could still breathe. There was a look of panicked fear in his wide eyes. The coroner later confirmed that as long as he'd stayed on tiptoe he'd stayed alive. When he grew too tired, he had collapsed and strangled.
The door slammed as Anthony entered the hotel suite. "I told you there were risks here, Gino," he announced angrily.
Gino pulled his sunglasses down from his eyes as he reclined on the sofa on the terrace. "What has happened?"
"Already?" He looked genuinely surprised.
"And where they go, the Organized Crime Commission follows."
"I don't understand," Gino murmured. "It has not even been twenty four hours--"
"We had two gooks kidnap a teenage kid instead of his dad."
Gino scowled. "Preposterous. You know who they are. Make an example. And see that the boy is found alive, but cannot identify anyone. That may take off some of the FBI pressure."
"It won't. They smell blood, Gino. We should just get out now."
Gino snorted. "I think not. What message would that give to the Kumu? Remember why we are here."
"Fat lot of good it'll do if we go to jail."
"The game," Gino murmured quietly to him. "The game. We play the game. We will let this McGarrett win a round--give them the boy. He will feel confident, like he is in control." He smiled.
"Gino, this isn't like Chicago. There isn't an international border just miles away. We can't hop into the truck and zip across state lines. We're in the middle of the damned Pacific Ocean. There is nowhere to go!"
"Tony," Gino said gently, "you worry too much. It's not healthy for you. If you are concerned, go buy a boat."
"A boat! You really don't understand!"
Eugene grabbed the younger man's elbow. "I understand the mind of McGarrett. I know that the man will do anything to protect his people. And he has an insatiable desire for power. Not the power like you and I seek; the power to control his destiny. And right now he is losing that. He is hurt, angry, filled with righteous rage. He will make mistakes." He picked up a glass of iced tea and sipped it placidly. "Go take care of that boy."
Water splashing into Danny's face brought him into a shocked consciousness. For a split second, he experienced disorientation then the reality rushed back. The man with the now empty canteen tossed it away.
Danny attempted to move and quickly discovered he was staked spread-eagle to the ground in the full hot sun.
"I wouldn't wiggle too much if I were you," the other man remarked. "There's an extra surprise for whoever finds you."
"Why?" Danny demanded bitterly. "What's this all about?"
The man who'd had the canteen grinned now, coming close. "Let's just say that a man is known by the company he keeps. You've hung with some bad company."
Danny didn't respond. The face of Lani's murderer so close placed him past words. Lani! My God! My poor Lani! I'll find you no matter how long," he finally uttered, hatred dripping from his tone.
He chuckled, scooping up the shotgun. "Yeah?" he shouldered it, "Well, I guess I'll see you round then." The two men disappeared into the brush.
Danny tested his bonds. His arms were tied so tightly circulation was partially cut off. The ankles were almost as tight. The skin of his bare chest, arms, and face already felt aflame from the sun. Insects buzzed around the bloody wound in his hair and he was helpless to deter them. Who did those thugs mean? Certainly not Keith Robinson. An icy realization froze him in spite of the terrific heat. McGarrett. It has to be. Somehow he is responsible for this annihilation of the only joyful life I have ever known. Even now he reaches out and destroys the one thing that mattered to me. He forced his mind to realize that if this horror was related to Steve, McGarrett would certainly feel the pain. Steve was always a man of honor and integrity. And McGarrett will come. The Earth may stop spinning, but he will arrive here to attempt to exact vengeance. Except this vengeance is mine. He could feel a lump under his back, digging into the flesh. They have used me to kill Lani. They will attempt to use me again to kill a rescuer. And he knew he'd been booby-trapped.
Lori lay on the floor, semi-conscious, shivering in shock. A small remnant of her intellect kept urging her to do something, fight, and not just let them have their way. At first, it was just RD. When she tried to resist, he'd struck her over and over and, with her hands bound behind her, she was unable to defend herself. So she had squirmed and kicked. In the end, all her efforts were useless. Every moment of that first rape was etched upon her mind; the brutality she could never have imagined; his callus partner cheering and taking pictures. Then they had traded places.
Time had stopped. She could have laid on this filthy concrete floor a day, a week, it didn't matter. There was no reason for what was happening. She wanted desperately to rally herself because she knew her own wits were her only escape, but she could not. Curled on her side in a fetal position, hands to taped behind her back, new dread washed over her as RD came back to her.
He stood towering over her, grinning in a stupid fashion. "You know you're going to die," he said quietly and squatted down. He brushed the hair back from her bruised face and looked into her eyes. "Any last requests?" He gave a chuckle.
She just returned a cold glare. Just kill me.
"Well, for the record, it never was something personal." He rose and gave her a quick kick to the head to knock her out. Better for her than to slowly suffocate, he convinced himself. "You ready?" he called to his partner who called back a yes. He walked to the oven, turned on the gas jet and they left.
Lori remained still for another minute, then, certain they had gone, slowly opened her bruised eyes. The odor of gas was already permeating the air. It took all her strength just to get to her knees. She tried to breathe and the effort ended in a spasm of coughing as her body attempted to reject the poison. She nearly passed out as she staggered to her feet, then stumbled in the direction of the door. Is it even a door out? She turned backwards to try to open the door with her taped hands. The heavy natural gas fumes reached the pilot light to the hot water heater. The explosion shattered the small cottage.
McGarrett raced into the emergency room, Duke at his heels. "Where is she?"
The receptionist looked up at him. "Excuse me?" She seemed unimpressed.
She's seen it all at one time or another, Duke thought.
"Lori Wilson." McGarrett snapped out his badge.
Still unimpressed, she pointed to the waiting room where clusters of people were staring at the news broadcast on television. "Have a seat. I'll let you know."
"Now wait a minute!" he roared.
"Steve," Duke said gently. "All we can do is wait for them. They've got their hands busy in there right now."
He understood Duke's reasoning, but still did not like it. He moved off to stand along the wall. The meteorologist was discussing the hurricane that was expected to brush past Honolulu. Things were going to get wet over the next day or so. What does that mean for my people? Certainly nothing good. Did Caputo plan on the weather's help? These storms are unpredictable, they sometimes turn and never come close. I need to call Tahiti again. They didn't give a recent report. No word from the Coast Guard. Lori is alive! He tried to console himself with that. He knew nothing else, but there was hope.
"McGarrett." The doctor stuck his head around the corner.
He was to the doorway in a single step.
The doctor directed Steve and Duke into the inner hallway of the emergency room. The white linoleum floor and sky blue tiled walls were antiseptically clean in spite of all the gore that frequented them regularly. The smell triggered the eight-month-old horror of Danny's shooting and Steve shoved the memory back behind an mental door and locked it.
"May we see her?" Steve asked anxiously.
The man frowned. "She is in very serious condition. There are second and third degree burns over 45% of her body--mostly chest and arms. Fortunately, she must have turned her head just as the blast occurred." He demonstrated by turning his own head. "The left side of her face is almost burn free." He dropped the volume of his voice. "She was also raped."
Steve thought he had prepared himself for that, recalling the photo, but it still hit him like a blow to the stomach. "We had reason to suspect that," he murmured.
A clerk at the station called out. "Is there a Duke Lukela here?"
He turned. "Here."
She waved the phone at him and he crossed to the desk, leaving Steve with Lori's doctor.
"Several times," the doctor added from his earlier statement as though there had been no brief interruption.
Steve blinked and flexed his jaw muscles to contain his fury. "May I speak to her?"
The ER physician knew of McGarrett's reputation and it touched him that the Man of Iron had not demanded the right to see his injured officer. "She's pretty badly torn up. The burns are severe. She's in shock. I doubt you'll get anything from her, but it won't hurt to try."
He directed Steve to the small cubicle and they stepped behind the curtain.
Lori lay on the gurney, the brilliant lights glaring off the mass of white dressing material that was spread over most of the exposed portions of skin. A nurse stood by her side pouring solution over the dressing on the right side of her face. The dressing extended over her right eye.
Dear God, could that doctor have forgotten to tell me about her eye? Steve stepped close by her left side. "Lori," he whispered gently.
She opened her left eye, but said nothing.
"She's received a lot of morphine," the nurse offered kindly. "She won't remember any of this."
If only she wouldn't remember the last day. "Can you tell me anything about them?" he asked.
Her swollen, burned lips carefully forced out the two letters. "RD."
"RD?" he repeated. "Is that a name, Lori?"
Her eyes closed and she drifted out of consciousness.
Swallowing back his own jumble of anger, fear, dread, and relief, McGarrett stepped back through the curtain. He wanted to question the doctor further, but Duke was just hanging up the telephone. There was a look of relief on his face.
"They've found him."
McGarrett did not have to ask who 'him' was. "Is he all right?"
"He's at St. Francis Hospital."
Duke was ushered immediately into the room where his wife already sat by the bed clinging to the hand of their recovered son. She looked up at her husband, tears of relief wet upon her face. He could feel his own eyes smart as he viewed his son break into the smile he'd known for so long. Forgetting how young Sam now shrugged off such acts, Duke gripped him in a tight embrace. The teenager clung to his father, returning the affection, the pride of youth somehow unimportant at this moment.
Steve had again, been reduced to waiting outside. This time, however, an FBI agent met him.
"Mark Lawson," the man introduced himself. "Wish the meeting was under more pleasant circumstances, Mr. McGarrett."
He nodded. "You waiting to speak to Sam Lukela?"
"Oh, I already have. I wanted to brief you."
McGarrett did not usually want his information second hand. He summed up this agent quickly. About thirty, tall, muscular, blonde hair and blue eyes, he wore his gun on a shoulder harness beneath under his jacket--left-handed from the side it was worn on. He had a wedding band on his fourth left finger, and a college ring on the right hand from Georgetown University.
Little did McGarrett suspect that Lawson was completing the same analysis on him. Graying, but he takes care of himself. Could probably outrun me in a pinch. Gun in a shoulder holster on the left--he's right handed. Unmarried. He is terribly tired. He is too exhausted to carry this through. Yet, at the same time Lawson had been well briefed on Five-0's ability to take care of their turf and advised never to cross Steve McGarrett.
They stepped aside into the empty snack room adjacent the waiting room. "May I say, Sir, you are something of a legend," Lawson offered.
"Cut the crap," Steve answered. He instantly regretted the statement. He's trying to find the safe ground. I didn't help any. We are on the same team. "I'm sorry, Lawson. What did you learn?"
He nodded, instantly brushing the event aside. "We received an anonymous tip that Sam Lukela was in a bus behind the Hawaiian Tours bus barn. Bus number--" he flipped a sheet, "--79."
79, as in 1979. Last year when Danno was shot. Coincidence? Maybe.
"He was tied up, blindfolded. Apart from being scared to death, he's fine."
Fine? "Hardly fine, Lawson."
"Well, not physical injured. Certainly nothing like Wilson. There was a note pinned to his shirt. It's in the FBI lab now. Read: 'Our error: you win this round.'"
Steve wished the note was not with the FBI, but did not object. It's some kind of a ghoulish game. They see this as some kind of competition, a sport. He gazed out the waiting room window into the night deep in thought. "What do you think, Lawson?"
"Hell of a mess," he remarked.
"Anything more productive than that?" McGarrett snapped back.
He pursed his lips. "I work kidnapping. The Crime Commission team is due in here in a day or two. But this isn't routine kidnap stuff--this motive isn't extortion. They're having fun with this."
Fun? The idea of the Caputos laughing as Truck strangled or Frank bled to death was incomprehensible. "I'm going to see the Caputos. You've got their local address, right?"
"Of course, the Sheraton on Waikiki, but what are you going to do? Surveillance says they haven't gone anywhere since this morning when Anthony went out to buy a newspaper in the lobby."
"Just going to talk. Want to come along?"
Anthony turned down the movie that was playing on the hotel HBO when the knock came at the door. It was nearly 9:00 p.m. There were strict orders for none of the team members to return here no matter what. "Gino," he called back into the bedroom, "we got company."
"Well, don't keep Mr. McGarrett waiting," Gino replied, buttoning up his shirt.
Anthony's mouth dropped in shock.
"Think, Anthony, who else would come at this time? It's all right, really. The next play of the game."
Trembling slightly, Anthony opened the door and revealed a tired, yet rock hard McGarrett flanked by Lawson of the FBI. Both showed badges.
Gino stepped forward. "Welcome, McGarrett. I know who you are, no need for badges here amongst friends."
Friends? I'd like the strangle the little bastard on the spot. "Don't be too clever, Caputo," he commented bluntly, stepping into the room and quickly scanning it for everything visible.
"A drink?" Caputo offered. "Oh, that's right, you don't drink." He took a sip of his gin and tonic.
"You seem to pride yourself on knowing some things about me," he observed.
"I am on vacation, McGarrett, but I read. The Hawaiian Islands are a booming industry in markets for the Far East. I may check into buying into a shipping company before I leave."
"I don't think the local teamsters will be interested," McGarrett replied. "They like to keep things-- local."
He shrugged. " We shall see. I can only make my best offer."
He smiled broadly. "Uh-uh-uh. Trade secrets, McGarrett. Never know when the competition might be listening. I pride myself on knowing what the needs are of an area and understanding how the competition thinks and strategizes. And I always win."
McGarrett forced a smirk of a smile. "Then I'd be careful if I were you. The law of averages would say you are bound for a tumble very soon. After all, you already have made two small errors in your business dealings. There could be more." Gino continued grinning, but Steve noted that the smile had become plastered to his face. He isn't sure what I mean. He's afraid he doesn't know something. Well, I'm sure not gonna tell him. "I just came by to warn you, Caputo, there's a storm coming. Could be a very big storm." He and Lawson turned and left.
Steve entered the office and turned on the television. The eleven o'clock news was playing and the weather man had front billing tonight. Weather warnings were being posted; the leading edge of a typhoon was expected to come ashore by late tomorrow evening. The news people spent several minutes reminding the public of things to do to be safe.
Ignoring the voices, Steve examined the horrible polariod photos one at a time. He could remember Frank, always quiet, but quick with the jokes. His wife had not wanted them to move to the mainland, but the job had been too good to pass up. And Truck, one of the new kids on the team. Big, strong, intimidating, but he'd been the one who adopted the little kitten that had been abandoned in the Palace basement. The sight of the little gray kitten licking milk from a saucer on Truck's desk while the large Hawaiian sat placidly watching had been picture worthy. What of Ben? There's been no word. Kimo? Kono? Danno? Danno. God, Danno. There were times the image of the Royal Surf parking lot still haunted his dreams. I just wanted to keep him safe. I did not want to ever face that again. Maybe it was more for me than for him. Maybe this is my punishment from some diety. No, not some diety. That incident was carried big time, not just in the Islands, but on the mainland. News footage of that mad dash through the crossfire with Danno on my back was played for weeks. Just when I thought it was over, it all came back again at Chaney's trial two months ago. Everyone saw it--everyone. Including Eugene and Anthony Caputo. "They have launched this ghoulish game to prove they can beat me," he whispered to the wall. "The clue in the photo is that they can be saved if I reach them fast enough--but it is always impossible."
The phone rang and he jumped. As he lifted the receiver, he noticed the time was just before midnight. "McGarrett."
"Commander Thames, Coast Guard. I've tried to call you a couple of times. Thought I might catch you there late."
"Do you have anything to report?" Steve asked, hoping for a break.
"Your man, Williams, went up the mountain this morning and didn't come back. A local girl he was apparently engaged to is missing, too. He was supposed to go on some ecological sheep count or something. They didn't show tonight at her mother's place. Word is they aren't the type to hanky-panky out in the woods, if you take my meaning. I'm putting a party ashore at day break and Keith Robinson will organize the locals to help. It's not be big place, but the weather'll go fast."
"Thank you, Commander," Steve said, hollowly, as he hung up. It is too late. Whatever plan Caputo has made for Danno has come to pass. He is engaged. He never told me that. He never told me anything.
McGarrett awakened from the couch as a hand touched the doorknob to his office. He jumped to his feet as Duke stepped into the room.
Steve glanced at the digital clock. It was just past 5:00 a.m., the sun was just a suggestion beyond the buildings of Honolulu. "How is your son?"
"He's doing well. He was able to give us a little more last night. He said although he couldn't see anything, the man who put him in the bus was not one of the two that originally took him."
"How did he know that?" Steve dumped out the old coffee and started new.
"Says the guy was missing a finger."
"Really." It impressed Steve that the boy would have been that observant. "He's sure?"
Steve had spent time during the night creating one of his famous bulletin boards. The name of each missing person was posted, the photos pinned under each appropriate name. Under Ben Lukela's name he had written 'returned alive.' He now added the observation that he'd made about his final captor. "Who's out there with nine fingers?"
"Mahalo Lee. Walter King."
"Bring them both in."
"Got some good prints off the seat and the door handle of the bus," Duke added.
Steve nodded. The coffee was ready. Maybe this day would be better. "We must assume that Caputo knows about the error. I can just imagine his fury about his goon nabbing a 15 year boy instead of his 43 year old father. What do you think he'll do?"
"We are going to have a body or two."
He nodded. "Get some HPD people out looking in all the usual places."
Duke nodded. It felt good to have a plan of action.
Steve turned to see Jenny in the doorway, white-faced, an envelope in her hands. His brief moment of hope crumbled. In fury, he tore the envelope open. Inside was a photo of Ben Kokua standing on a dock, hands tied behind his back. He knew she was looking over his arm. Ordinarily she would never have done that. Ordinarily she would have already been back at her desk. Right now she was more than the secretary, she was a part of this grief and tragedy. "Tell Che I need this blown up. See if he can pick out any landmarks in the back ground."
She nodded, but hesitated to leave. He noticed her gazing at his bulletin board. Slowly, it occurred to him that she had a personal involvement here, too. "He's going to kill them all, isn't he?" she whispered.
"No," he answered from the bottom of his heart. "I'll see to it that this ends here."
Duke ducked out of the office on his way to HPD. Steve's response to Jenny seemed like blatant arrogance, but Duke understood it was a prayer.
The red sun slowly rose over Paniau peak of Niihau as Danny faced the start of his second day staked to the ground. The mosquitoes had feasted on him, flies were thick around the cut on his head and anywhere the dried, sunburned skin had cracked. His hands were swollen, there was little feeling in his fingers anymore. His mouth was torturously dry. The cramping in his gut was the premonition of the agony of dehydration and heat stroke to come. His mind ran deliriously through all kinds of events, but always came back to the moment of Lani's death. She trusted me and I failed her. She died because of me. It should have been me. I must stay alert or that explosive under my back will kill someone else. Maybe if I move enough, I can set it off. But all the attempts at movement had done nothing except start agonizing spasms through the cramped muscles. Then he heard something and caught his breath. Footfalls. Someone is coming. Is it help? Maybe those bastards have come back. There was a strange snort and he opened his eyes in the bring sun. A wild mountain sheep stood over him chewing on a weed. It leaned over and sniffed his face.
He uttered a shout of rage at the beast, it startled and darted away into the brush. Lani had loved the wild sheep even though they were destroying the vegetation. She had given many of them names and had some that would come at the sound of her voice. Was this one of her sheep? Lani! He again lamented her. I told her it would be all right. I should have done more. If I'd not known her, she would have lived. I never should have entered her life.
A vision of his past flowed around him. McGarrett had stood in the hospital room trying, without saying it, to impart to Danny that his Five-O career was over. "Consider doing what you once dreamed of--go back to school after that PhD. Be glad you are alive to achieve that dream."
"Why? Because you can't deal with my shooting?"
McGarrett had looked so pained, so weary. Three weeks later, Danny had cursed Steve to his face. "You put on this big man act, but you are really just a coward. You can't handle your guilt feelings, so I pay the price. You son of a bitch, stop screwing up my life."
Those were the last words I spoke to him. And now Dan Williams understood the burden of the guilt.
Steve had expected to find a body. There had been four. Executed with one bullet to the head each. Their hands were tied behind them.
Bergman got up from his crouch over the last one and wiped his hands on a towel offered by a uniformed officer. "No question. Gunshot to the head killed each one. One of them struggled some first--he's got a bruise on his left cheek. Professional job."
"How long ago?" Steve asked, trying not to inhale the stench.
"Not all at the same time. These two," he gestured towards the bodies, "almost a full day ago. Rigor mortise, gas starting to fill the abdominal cavity. The others were not together. One was killed here, probably within the last six hours. The other was killed maybe twelve hours ago or so somewhere else and brought here. Notice how the blood settled to the front of the body. He lay face down somewhere for a while, then was moved here. He was on his back when he was found."
Steve nodded, noticing the man's tooled western belt with the letters embossed into the cowhide: RD. There will be no interrogation of Lori's assailants. After nearly two days, all we have are four photos, some partial prints off a school bus, and a nine-fingered man.
Kimo was anything but a patient man by nature. Being bound, gagged, and blind-folded hadn't improved his spirits. His contact with the tire iron earlier had left him with two painfully broken teeth and an agonizing right arm he suspected was fractured. The forearm from elbow to wrist was swollen almost twice its normal size and his fingers were almost numb. In two days he'd been given no food or water. He'd lain on the floor listening and waiting for any opportunity to present itself. Nothing had emerged. The men holding him had said little in his presence. He wondered if Truck was here somewhere.
"Time to go," announced a voice and he felt someone tugging at the knot around his ankles. One of his captors pulled him to his feet and shoved him towards the door. He staggered blindly outside, disappointed at his weakness. He could sense wet fresh air. A storm was approaching. He was shoved roughly into the back of a van and he gave a cry of pain as he attempted to protect his injured limb. His head hit against something wooden. Car doors slammed. The engine burst into life.
"Weather's going bad," came a voice.
"We'll beat it," was the clipped reply. "I just hope they got that hole dug."
The other man laughed. "Let him dig his own grave."
Kimo felt his pulse quicken. The van slammed and banged over bumps and dips. He supposed it had gone off the road and was crossing open land. Several times it bottomed put, jarring him to his bones. Finally, it came to a spinning halt and the two men got out. They came around the back, opened the doors and Kimo heard them sliding out a heavy box. It hit the ground with a thud. One grabbed Kimo by the legs and none too gently pulled him out. He again felt wobbly and uncertain was they pulled him to his feet. He could feel the wind blowing against him and smell rain in the air. One of his captors reached out and untied the mouth gag, then the blindfold. He blinked against the light, even in the late overcast afternoon. He quickly viewed his surroundings. A hillside , he could hear but not see the highway. Which highway? He cursed himself that he didn't know the Oahu well enough to identify landmarks better. Where's Diamond Head? He glanced around, then forgot about placing his surroundings. He felt a sickening spot in his stomach as his gaze fixed on the six foot long crude box lay open in a hole about four feet deep.
The deeply tanned bald man who had loosened the blindfold gave a stuccotic laugh. "Welcome to your final resting place."
Kimo noticed a small vent tube that lay along the dirt. They don't want me to die too quickly. They're gonna give me air. "Do you expect me to just calmly step into that thing?" he remarked.
"You know, Carew, for a guy in your situation, you aren't too smart," he answered. His partner brought up his gun and cracked Kimo over the head. He collapsed and they dropped him into the box. "Hey, wait a minute, I don't want to deny him the full sensation of being buried alive," the one with the gun remarked. He squatted down next to the hole and hit a cigarette casually...
...Kimo came around just about as Caputo's man finished the smoke. "Well, Carew," he tossed the butt away, "wanted to give you a last look at the world." He laughed. They pulled over the wooden cover and slid it into place.
Kimo felt panic rise as darkness engulfed him and he heard them hammer in several nails. Then came soft thudding sounds, covering the box and filling the hole with dirt. In pitch blackness, he felt helpless, feet tied, one arm useless. "Well," he muttered to himself, "this may really be it."
Knowing he'd not die from lack of air, he tried to focus on a way to escape. He wondered if he'd die of thirst or lose his sanity first. He tried to kick the box, but it was futile. He yelled for awhile, but knew that too wasn't productive. He decided he might have the rest of his life to think of a way out.
Steve circled the bulletin board, studying the photos that had been collecting. Beneath Lori's, he'd added the report about the two dead men that had been identified as her attackers. The other two he concluded were the careless souls who had snatched Duke's son. On investigation, one of the nine fingered men, Lee, was in jail. That left Walter. There was an APB out for him. The lab examination on the photo of Ben had provided little except what they already knew. The marina was on Maui. The photo taken this morning some time close to nine. What did they plan for him? Drowning? Where and how?
The door burst open an unwelcome voice shouted, "McGarrett!"
He spun in anger at the sound. Not now, not him. "What do you want, Akila?" he snapped at the Kumu king.
Tony Alika raised his hands in a gesture of peace, silver rimmed glasses shimmering in the light. "Only an offer of friendship, McGarrett. An offer of help."
"Why should Five-O need Kumu help?"
He chuckled. "Oh, come on, McGarrett. Everyone knows what's going on around here. Caputos are cleaning the floor with you--you haven't even got a piece of evidence to tie them in. Time's against you."
"What do you know, Tony?" he demanded in controlled anger.
"I want to help, McGarrett. Do you hear me? Help."
He shook his head slowly. "Kumu help? What's in it for you?"
"McGarrett," Tony Akila said peacefully, quietly. "Caputos are trying to muscle in on my turf--you know? Your turf is my turf so to speak. They're making us both look the fools here."
McGarrett glared at the implication. "Alika, get out of my office."
"Now, wait, wait. You need your men back--hopefully alive. I could loan you eyes--ears--my soldiers to sniff them out. I don't even care of I get the credit--publicly. You just let us work a little more freely when this is over."
"Five-O doesn't need help--especially from a snake like you, Akila. If you know anything tell me now or I can arrest you for obstructing justice. Do you know something or is this a lot of hot air?"
Akila gave a shrug and disinterestedly pulled an envelope from his suit jacket pocket. "Came to me--addressed to you."
Steve glanced at the heading. It did in fact read in care of Akila. The envelope had been opened. He glared at Tony who shrugged again. The photo was of Kimo lying stretched out in a box. Steve's pulse started to race but he presented a cool exterior. "That's it?"
"Your man, Carew there. He's always been my least favorite. He's got no class. But to bury him alive--" He shivered.
"Get the hell out of my office."
"McGarrett! They included a note to me. They said I'd be next!" Tony suddenly blurted.
"Then get out of here and put some of those soldiers you think so highly of to work protecting your hide."
Akila hesitated a moment. "I'm a citizen! I want police protection!"
Steve gave a sly smile. "I thought you were giving me help. Now you want my help?"
Tony's face was red with frustration. "These men are animals, you hear me? Animals! We need each other McGarrett."
"You are a fool, McGarrett!"
"And close the door behind you."
Frustrated, but deciding Steve meant it, Tony turned away--shutting the door as he departed.
Steve snatched up the phone and dialed HPD. "I need every K-9 officer you have. They've buried Carew alive and we don't have much time before the rain sets in."
The small outboard boat bobbed and rocked violently in the choppy seas. One of the two men holding Ben developing incapacitating seasickness. His partner attempted to pilot the craft and watch Ben at the same time. Clouds were starting to thicken into a boiling brown green overcast.
"We've gotta get this boat to port," the sick one pleaded.
"Follow orders first," the other remarked,
Ben tied hand and foot and lashed to the railing aft could also see the signs. In less than an hour the edge the hurricane would be upon them. Their plans for him were not clear, but it did not look good. He could not get a heading without sun or stars but knew they'd left Maui headed towards Oahu and assumed they were still on that coarse. His first guest was they might be meeting a smuggler.
"Okay," the one on the helm said shortly, "these are the co-ordinates."
The sick one looked around. The visibility had diminished to less than a hundred yards. "We're nowhere, man."
He shrugged and, handing him the gun, went back to untie Ben from the railing. "Here's where we part company."
"You're just gonna throw me overboard?" Ben asked in disbelief.
"Yeah. As I remember it, you used to be quite a swimmer. Almost to the Olympics once. Maybe you can swim to Honolulu."
"With my hands and feet tied?"
He laughed. "That's the idea. Unless you'd like to try it with a bullet in your gut, too."
The other man raised his head, sicker than ever now that the boat wallowed in the surf. "You can't do that."
"Following orders," he snapped.
"Well, Caputo didn't foresee a hurricane. Give him a chance."
"You wanna join him?"
The sick man staggered aft, a small knife in his hand. He made his way to Ben, cut off the bounds on his hands and feet. "That's the best you're gonna get. Now jump in or I'll shoot you myself."
Ben glanced at the turbulent sea, put one leg over the side. The seasick captor shoved him in the back and he hit the salt water with a splash.
They revved up the motor and sped away into the thickening fog. Ben kicked off his shoes, treading water for a moment. Almost instantly he lost sense of direction as the mist rolled across the water's surface. Can it be that the only hope I have is by using the hurricane as my guidance. Funny, what may kill me may save me. He prayed the sharks would be elsewhere with a hurricane coming. With slow strokes, reserving his energy, what there was of it, on two days without food, he allowed the current to drift him east. He was heartened with the knowledge that although he didn't know why this had befallen him, he at least knew who. The one man had mentioned the name Caputo. If he could get that to McGarrett, it might be what he needed.
Steve had mapped out parameters and sectors with the K-9 officers. "We won't have much time, there's a lot of island to cover. Just do the best you can." The K-9 officers gave their dogs the scent--an old work shirt of Kimo's--and the animals were off barking and sniffing under brush, over hillsides, down into gullies. Steve took his own sector, seeking any signs of disturbed earth. He knew he was banking on Kimo being buried alive. If I am wrong, it will probably be too late. Even if I'm right, what are the chances of finding him alive? Not good. And Ben? He could see the breakers twenty to fifty feet high slamming against the coastline, blown before the imminent typhoon. Caputo, the great gamester. He ground his teeth in rage. I am running around out here and he's sitting back laughing. I can't catch him. He shoved away the despondent feeling of despair. I will not give up--I cannot give up. I'll take that bastard down with my bare hands if necessary. He recalled the words of his instructor back in the Navy during a class on tactics. "Every man has a point at which he will go beyond the law." I didn't believe him then. But I do now. The wind was blowing hard, the palms heaving back and forth, as loose dirt and old debris fell up in the air around him. He picked up a long stick, swiping at brush, jamming it into likely spots of earth. Darkness was falling pre-maturely as the boiling clouds raced towards Oahu, it would soon be impossible to search. He snapped on the flashlight. How much ground had he covered? A mile, maybe two? It was like finding a needle in a haystack. A large drop of rain splatted on the ground. Another on his jacket. Another and another. Within moments, he was in a blinding downpour. The dogs would have to turn back, the scent washed away. Bitterly, he also turned back to the highway.
As he reached his car, the wind and rain whipping viciously around him, he noticed something stuck under the windshield wiper in a ziplock plastic bag. Right away he identified the Polaroid picture. He ducked down into the dry car, yanked open the bag and saw Nick, tied and blindfolded in the photo. Unidentified hands were injecting a hypo into his outstretched arm. McGarrett buried his head against the steering wheel in agony.
The Coast Guard party and Niihauian searchers had to turn back as the storm hit. As they slogged through the rain and mud, it was Keith Robinson himself who found the stiff, cold body of Lani. In spite of the driving storm, Keith and his brother, Bruce, began to search again. Within thirty minutes, they again abandoned the hunt when a mud slide cut them off from the higher pass. They had come within 200 yards of finding Williams.
Having suffered through two days of tropical sun that blistered and baked his skin, he would now endure the cold, driving hurricane winds and rain. In passing moments of consciousness, he mourned the loss of Lani, cursed almost every other soul he knew, and tried to remain lucid enough to warn any rescuers of the grenade which was cutting deeply into his back. As the rain began to fall, it was a brief relief. Within moments, though, the ropes on his wrists and ankles were tightening up and the chill of the wind started the racking spasms in his muscles. All he could do was turn his head to one side to keep the driving rain from drowning him. He finally wished he would die.
Kimo drifted in and out of wakefulness. He could barely tell when he was awake and when he was delirious. All sounds were deadened but he could faintly hear the pounding of rain and several hours into the hurricane, water began to drip into the box. He tried to turn to catch the dirty moisture in his mouth. At some point towards the wee hours of the morning, he finally got his left hand loose and began pounding on the cover of the box, but the dirt was now solid mud and there was no one to hear. Nevertheless, he beat on it till his hands were bloody and in exhaustion, he fell asleep in his tomb.
McGarrett paced his office like a caged animal.
Duke arrived close to midnight. "Partial print off the bus turned up as Walter King. He's our man."
"Have you raised the level of the APB?" Steve asked.
He nodded. "For all the good it will do." He glanced at the storm raging outside the shuddered window.
There were footsteps out in the hallway and Steve looked up to see Lawson, dripping wet, approaching. The FBI agent peeled off his soaked jacket. It was a useless act for he was just as wet beneath. McGarrett reached into his desk and pulled out a hand towel.
Lawson accepted it with mild surprise. McGarrett is ready for everything. He toweled off his hair as he spoke. "Knew you'd want to see this. Phone records from Chicago. The officer there telexed them here just before the power went off at HPD."
As if on cue, the lights flickered, then remained on.
Lawson wondered if Steve kept a camping lantern in that desk, too. "Notice the calls to area code 808---gotta be twenty of them in the last three weeks. Ten to the same number."
Steve had already made the observation. He picked up the phone and dialed up the phone company--the line was busy.
"Already tracked it," Lawson offered with his college-boy smile. "Know a guy named Tony Alika?"
Steve thought he'd fall through the floor. It was not often he was taken by surprise. "Alika?" he whispered. This doesn't fit at all. What's this all about if Tony is in on this? And that little act--was it real or another part of the game. He snatched up the envelope. No postage or post mark, but then none of the pictures have arrived through the postal service except Frank's.
The phone rang, but Steve did not move to answer it.
"Lukela," Duke said, picking it up. He gestured to Steve. "Pearl City Naval Station."
He grabbed it, hope flickering on his features. "McGarrett here." There was a long silence as that hope melted away. "Yes, Commander, I know....Thank you." He hung up.
Duke looked for some sign of good news iin his boss' face and saw none. "Steve?" He finally said.
He looked up, sorrow plain. "Lani Ka'chelauli'i was found dead. Shot once in the chest."
"No sign." He sat at the desk, head in his hands. Danny would have died before he let something happen to the woman he planned to marry. If Caputos have orchestrated this based on the Chaney incident, why haven't they mentioned Danny? Could he possibly have escaped? Escaped to where? Niihau isn't that big. Maybe they have taken him off the island. He could feel exhaustion taking its toll. He hadn't slept in three nights. Ben must be dead if they tossed him overboard at sea. Did they know he was a state finalist in swimming competitions? Most likely. How long till Kimo suffocates, if he hasn't already. "I want Alika and the Caputos. If he is in this--"
"We're watching Caputos. Their phones are tapped. If they're making a move they're doing it through someone else," Lawson assured him.
McGarrett rubbed his eyes. "Oh, they're making moves all right and it is through someone else."
"This Alika guy?" Lawson asked.
McGarrett mentally weighed the evidence, and his intuition. "Tony would have nothing to gain. He's already kingpin of the mob here, why share it?"
"But the calls were made to his office."
"Duke, who answers the calls in Alika's office?" McGarrett asked, an idea springing to mind.
"There's a new chick there every week it seems. He's got a lieutenant named---Wahiha who takes the calls a lot, too."
McGarrett picked up the phone and dialed the number off the paper. It rang twice, then an answering machine clicked on.
"You have reached the desk of Marcus Wahiha of Island Imports. I'm not in right now. Leave a message and I'll get back to you. Aloha."
McGarrett hung up. "Alika pays the bill, but it's Wahiha's phone. First sign of let up, we go get him."
Lawson turned and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" Duke asked in surprise.
"My partner's downstairs waiting. We'll go get this Wahiha. Call you when we book him." .
"But the weather--" Duke started to protest.
Lawson looked over his shoulder with a grin. "Yeah, great isn't it? He won't run far."
Steve waited. The clock ticked off an hour, two hours. Part of him wanted to be in that car with the agents splashing through the rain after Wahiha, but he knew better. There were too many things he had to follow. He spoke very quietly and gently. "Duke, get hold of the men watching the Caputos. They get wind of Wahiha's arrest and they're gonna bolt. Tell them to keep them here no matter what. Tell them I don't care if they have to shoot them." In sudden explosive rage he slammed his fist against the desk top. "I'll nail those Caputos if it's that last thing I do!"
Duke never blinked, just continued his study of the view from the rain spattered window. "Storm's letting up," he said quietly. "Let's get back out there."
The phone rang. "McGarrett." His look set ever deeper. "On my way." He dropped the phone. "Come on, Duke. They've found Nick."
The rain was still a steady downpour but Steve didn't feel it as he knelt on the pavement by the dead body of his officer.
Che, half-buried in his raincoat, gestured to the needle-marks on Nick's arm. "They shot him up with cocaine. Overdosed him, then turned him loose. He made it this far."
"Almost," Steve whispered. Queens Medical Center was half a block away. "Duke, I want you take a detail and go over every inch of the coastline, scour it till you find Ben. Consider the currents from Maui and the effect the storm may have had on them. Caputo will want us to find the body. I'm sure he had him dumped where the current will bring him ashore. I'm going to find Kimo."
Within the hour, every available officer in Oahu was tramping through sand and mud. The rain had eased up some and the wind decreased. McGarrett, soaked to the skin, stubbornly sought for an improvised burial site while his mind concentrated on cornering the Caputo Brothers and their sleazy group. Up till now, he'd been trying to find his people. It was time to turn the tables. They needed King and Wahiha. He was aware that while he ran all over Hawaii, Eugene and Anthony Caputo were trenching themselves in, just as Tony said. Every underworld figure and two-bid hood was watching the outcome of this little game. He whacked his way through undergrowth, jamming a rod into the ground every couple of feet. That Lawson is an interesting sort. Totally dedicated. He'd make a good Five-O man. He's married, Stevereminded himself recalling the ring. How does he do it? I thought of marriage once. Maybe more than once. The next jab with the stick was harder. I decided I could never keep a family protected. There was always someone out there gunning for me. I couldn't risk the commitment. And what of this commitment? Isn't this the same thing? He remembered the guilt, the sense of shame when Danny had taken his bullet in the Royal Surf parking lot. I just wanted to keep him out of harms way. I never wanted to risk that guilt again, but I was wrong. I didn't want the guilt, or was it the responsibility? He gave the brush a hard whack with the rod. And here I am in the same place. These people are my family and they are being killed before my eyes because they are on my team. It is not my responsibility to protect them, but to ensure justice
...He stepped out and sank into deep mud, falling to his knees. As he rose, he recognized the large faint rectangular shaped depression in the soil. He rammed his rod into the rich dirt and it sank in almost three feet. He grabbed the radio on his belt, giving co-ordinates and yelling for shovels. He began to plow away earth with his bare hands. Within moments, the proper tools were there and heavy, black mud flew. In minutes, the shovels were scraping against the top of the wooden box. An officer jabbed his shovel under the edge of the lid and pried off the cover. Rain and mud spattered down on Kimo's silent face. His hands on his chest were raw from restraint, and bleeding from pounding on the box. He was unconscious. Trembling with emotion, Steve reached down, touched the left carotid and felt a strong pulse.
"Thank God," he murmured. "He's alive. Get him outta there!" Two officers stepped down and lifted Kimo out onto the wet ground.
Kimo's eyes opened slowly. Dear God, I am alive! He stared up at the beautiful black sky as the rain sprinkled across him. "Steve?" He turned to McGarrett who knelt beside him nearly overcome by the relief of finding him alive.
"Yeah, take it easy. You're all right," he said as much to convince himself as Kimo.
"Oh man," he whispered, closing his eyes again. "What a nightmare."
"Yeah, and you haven't heard the half of it."
An officer handed him a wet,muddy envelope, "Sir, was in the box."
Steve opened it, already knowing it contained another of Caputo's grizzly messages. Dammit, they knew we'd find Kimo. Did they know he'd be alive? His brief relief was transformed once again to fury. Then his heart skipped a beat as the impact of what he saw assaulted his exhausted emotional resources and the abhorrence and anguish brought tears to his eyes he could no longer keep back. It was a picture of Danny, staked out on the ground either dead or unconscious. Scrawled across the bottom was: SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST.
They got Carew wrapped in blankets into the back of McGarrett's car and with the heater going full blast, started for town. But Steve was unable to think about anything but getting to Niihau. How long has Danno been like that? The sun was shining in the photo so at least a day. How long could one survive that kind of exposure not to mention the onslaught of the hurricane. His thoughts were interrupted by Central Dispatch on the radio.
"See officers at Barbers Point. An ambulance has been dispatched."
Ben! An ambulance, not the coroner! It was too much to hope that they could have again beat Caputo. How could one possibly survivel the waves of a hurricane in the sea all night? Steve did a 180 degree turn, and headed for the point. He arrived before the ambulance. Ben Kokua, beaten and battered from the sea, lay under a pile of blankets and raincoats.
Duke hovered over him as Steve ran up. "He came up on shore several hours ago," Duke offered. "Don't know how in the world he made it."
Steve huddled down over the battered man. Even by flashlight, Ben's skin color was gray, lips palid white. His teeth were chattering and he was shaking uncontrollably. Steve touched his shoulder just to convince himself Ben really was there. "Ben?" he said gently with hope.
"Steve." His tired voice was almost lost in the sound of the wind, rain, and surf. He mumbled a few incoherent things.
The ambulance could be heard approaching. McGarrett looked closely at him. "Ben, can you tell us anything?"
He looked up, trying to remember. "Caputo," he finally whispered. "Caputo..." He lost consciousness. His body shook with one more tremor, then he lay still.
The paramedics brought a stretcher over. They made no attempt to take an assessment in the rain on the beach, but quickly lifted Ben, raincoats and all onto the gurney and hurried him to the warm vehicle.
McGarrett backed away and exchanged looks with Duke. "Kimo's in the car."
"How is he?"
"I think he'll be all right. May have a broken arm. Let's take him to the ambulance and let them get him medical attention, too." He handed Duke the photo. "I've got a trip to make."
Between them, they pulled Kimo from the car. He had fallen asleep in the warmth of the vehicle and only roused partially as the two men half-carried him towards the rig. As they approached the ambulance, a paramedic met them. "McGarrett."
"Yeah?" he responded, turning Kimo over to the man.
"I'm sorry. Your other guy just died."
He stared at the man, water dripping down his face. No, no. This isn't possible. We got to him. I talked to him. He stared in shock into the back of the vehicle where the other medic was pulling a sheet over Ben's face. It was all he could do to keep from racing to Ben's side and yanking the sheet away to prove they were wrong. So close yet
Duke swallowed his own shock and grief recalling the exhilaration he'd experienced only minutes ago when Ben's leg had moved as they raced towards him. He bit down on his lip. It's not fair. He chastised himself immediately for the childish thought, but that didn't make it go away. He glanced at the muddy picture Steve had handed him. Will this never end? He remembered Steve's promise to Jenny that it would end.
"Duke, get Kimo taken care of." He hesitated. "Get hold of Lawson. See if he's getting anything out of Wihahi and tell him to use whatever we have to detain the brothers if they should try to leave."
"You don't want me to move on them right now?"
"Not yet. We still don't have King or Wihahi. And I doubt the DA will move on a dying man's last word. Wasn't even a complete statement. I want them nailed right. Don't do anything unless they attempt to leave the island. I'm taking a chopper to Niihau."
Duke glanced at the gray dawn. "In this weather?"
"Yeah. In this weather."
It had become an instrument of torture. He hated to answer it, but knew he had to. It was the HPD dispatch officer. She tied him in to HPD's officer Banks. "I've been trying to reach you all night," the man said. The line was terrible.
"What can you tell me?" McGarrett called loudly into the phone.
"Walter King is dead. Found him slumped over in a john at the Shell station on Manahu Street when the roof blew off. "He's down at the coroner. Not much in the way of evidence. If there ever was any, it got washed away."
He got off the phone and went to meet his helecopter. Traveling by air was just marginal and he was glad that the best pilot on the Islands had volunteered to fly him in.
It had stopped raining, the clouds were swirling northeastward as Duke stepped around puddles and trash that had blown into the parking area at the FBI office. There were some power lines down, trees felled, but as a whole, Honolulu had survived the hurricane without much incident. Somewhere a chain saw was whining in the early morning air. As he stepped through the glass doors, he was gestured back towards an office. Lawson greeted him with a hand shake.
"Our friend, Wihahi, isn't much interested in helping us," he reported.
"We'll see," Duke remarked. He handed Lawson a ballistics report. "It was Walters' gun that killed two of the guys at the land fill." He walked into the small room where Wihahi sat at a table. Neither of them was fooled by the one way glass on one wall. "Hello, Marcus."
He gave a smirk. "I thought you dudes were all extinct."
"Really? Why would you think that?"
He just looked away.
"What do you know about Eugene and Anthony Caputo?"
"Just what I told the Fed. Ask him."
"I'm asking you," Duke stated. He had a way of sounding polite even in his interogations. His calm mannerisms had a way of disarming his suspects.
"Tony's been sweating but a storm about them guys. They threatened him somehow."
"In what way?"
"You ever spoken to the Caputos?"
He scratched his unshaven chin. Marcus was usually clean, sharp. He didn't like getting arrested during a hurricane. It just didn't seem ethical. "Don't know 'em."
"They called your phone at Island Imports."
"I didn't know that."
"Who did they talk to then?"
"How would I know. I never met them."
"Ever talk to them?"
He dropped a copy of the telephone log on the table. "See the ones highlighted?"
He barely glanced at the paper.
"They all came from Chicago. Know someone in Chicago?"
"No. Hey, Lukela, is this some kind of a set up?" Marcus demanded shoving the paper away.
"You don't know the Caputos? You never talked to them?"
"How about Walter King?"
"Okay, Marcus, you can go." He turned his back and walked to the door.
Wihahi blinked in surprise and doubt. "For real?"
He shrugged. "You don't know anything, right? Can't help us, so I guess you're free to go."
He scowled. This was much too easy.
Duke gave a quick grin. "Oh, I guess I really should tell you. A copy of that phone log was hand delivered to Tony Alika just about--" his glanced at his watch, "--twenty minutes ago. Have a nice day." He walked out of the room.
The man at the front desk waved a phone. "Lukela---phone call. I think they said it's Tahiti."
Duke accepted the receiver, taking a deep breath, wondering what the word would be on Kono.
Wihahi stood in the doorway of the questioning cell trying to decide what his life expectancy was and quickly calculating that he'd be dead before lunch. He sat back down to await Duke's return.
Steve and the courageous Coast Guard pilot landed near the Robinson ranch just past nine o'clock in the morning. The last of the cloud cover was moving away and a brilliant morning sun created thousands of glistening gems of droplets on every blade and leaf. The humidity was skyrocketing. It would be hot. Keith Robinson ran out to greet him loaded down with a shotgun, several canteens of water, and a stuffed backpack. He was accompanied by a burly young Hawaiian he introduced as Pol Ka'chelauli'i, Lani's cousin. The young man, no older than twenty, had begged Robinson for the opportunity to ride with McGarrett.
"Danno is my aikane, you know," the young man had explained.
Robinson spread a map out against the side of the helicopter. "I have people covering every inch starting at the coast and moving inward. There've been a couple of mud slides on the peak, so I thought we'd go up to Panuia and work our way down towards the southwest." He touched a dot. "That's where we found the girl. The jeep was here." He pointed to an 'X' near Yam Bay. "If Danny's on the Island, we'll find him."
"He's here," Steve assured him, showing the Polariod.
Robinson examined the photo a moment but there was nothing that would give away the location. "Let's go," he finally suggested. They climbed aboard and were skyward in moments. "Steve, I'm sorry about all this. You must be going through hell."
"Thanks for your support, Keith."
"Who would have thought that out here of all places-"
"Keith, what you did has nothing to do with this. You gave Danno a great opportunity when he needed it most." Steve quickly terminated the topic. "This thing is much bigger." I always wanted to try to patch things up with Danno, and I had never had the time. I could have made the time. Now I may never get the chance.
Steam was rising through the undergrowth as the helicopter hovered over the ridge between Pauuwai Peak and Panuia.
"Don't see much clear ground," the pilot called out. "The vegetation is getting thicker here."
Pol looked out of the window. "Set us down here. We'll go through this on foot from here."
The pilot nodded and tossed them a radio "I'll stay up here and keep looking around. Radio me if you find anything."
Moments later, the craft dropped down as low as it could and they jumped the last six feet. The ground was soft and heavy from the rain. They shouldered their shotguns, Pol strapped on one back pack and Steve tossed a small medical supply bag over his back. Although armed, Steve doubted they'd need weapons. He hoped they'd need the medical kit. They beat the brush, trying to inspect every inch. A thorough search of this mountainside would be tedious. The whole population of this small island was about 250. Everyone who could walk had been searching for two days so far without result. But Steve knew someone would find him. It was part of Caputo's plan. And that kept bothering him. Caputo had accurately estimated that Kimo would be found before Danno That meant he'd be somewhere not easily accessed. He also could assume it would be some place the locals might consider taboo. He had feeling in his gut Caputo intended McGarrett to find Danny himself.
By afternoon, it was hot and humid. Birds were calling in the trees and the insects were unbearable. Steve and Pol had consistantly chosen the more difficult, unlikely and sometimes dangerous routes. If anyone had passed through any of the area, the rain had washed away any trace.
"This is impossible," Pol sighed. "I can't believe we haven't found him. We are in the last sector. We will have to go back and rewalk the entire Island. That could take days."
McGarrett sipped from the canteen. "Another day and it may not matter." He knew that the life expectancy for heat exposure victims without water was usually less than twenty four hours. He knew the Coast Guard was already considering this a retrieval instead of a rescue. He parted to shrub and stopped in disbelief. There directly in front of them lay Danny, staked to the ground as he had been for two days.
They hurried over, Steve noting in relief that although Williams was apparently unconscious, the regular rising and falling of his chest revealed he was alive. "Danno, Danno, do you hear me?" he asked falling to his knees beside him and pulling one of several electrolyte solution bottles from the back pack.
Pol got out a knife to cut the ropes.
"Wait a minute." Steve pulled his arm back. "This is too easy."
"Speak for yourself. We've had people looking for Danny for almost two days in a hurricane."
"That's not what I mean." Steve, longing to quickly free Danny, instead closely examined every inch of the ground around him. "Caputo's note said the best was for last. I don't think he meant Danno--although I was supposed to think so."
Pol looked puzzled. "I still don't get you."
Steve circled Danny again, carefully looking at the ground, but if there were any traces, the typhoon had washed them away. "Danno, can you hear me?" he called out, hoping to rouse him.
"Mr. McGarrett?" Pol asked, curiously.
"Caputo wouldn't be able to pass up taking a shot at me, even a half-hearted one."
"Booby-trap," Pol murmured. "But he wouldn't have known who'd find him."
Steve gave a half smile. "Eugene Caputo knows the nature of most of his opponents very well. Somehow he knew. I'd stake my life on it." He took out a handkerchief and doused it with water from the canteen. He placed it across Danny's face.
When the cool cloth touched his face, Danny gave a shudder. Pol flinched and gave a self-conscious smile.
"Danno! Danno!" Steve called out. "Talk to me."
He mumbled something through parched, cracked lips that bled when they moved.
"Come again," Steve said sharply.
"Stay back," he warned weakly, but louder. "Bomb."
Steve nodded towards Pol, then turned back to Danny. "Where?"
He half-opened his eyes and blinked in the hot sun. "My back."
Steve carefully examined the ground all around again. He slowly sat back on his heels and pulled out the radio. Hailing the pilot, he said,"Coast Guard 369er, what's your 20?"
"Channel between Niiahu and Kaui," the voice replied immediately.
"We have found Williams alive. We need a bomb squad."
The line was silent for a moment. "Did you say bomb squad?"
"Affirmative." Steve wiped the sweat from his brow. God, it's hot here. In a flash he marveled at what Danny had endured for two days.
"McGarrett, let me check, but I think the closest squad is Honolulu." The radio clicked off.
Pol had taken a tarp from the back pack and was improvising shade standing over Danny with it spread across his arms.
Steve sat next to Danny and continued to drizzle Gatorade into his partially open mouth every few minutes. It seemed therapeutic to be actually doing something to help. Steve could recall how he'd tried to help Danno once before; how no matter what he did, the blood and kept pouirng. Now, looking at the sun blistered face he again remembered the friendship he had sacrificed believing he could gain Danno's safety.
"McGarrett, this is Coast Guard 369er, do you read me?" issued the radio.
"Go ahead," he replied into the receiver.
"ETA two and a half hours out of Honolulu. There's a guy who thinks he could disarm a pipe bomb over on Kaui. An ex-con who used to make them. I can have him to you in an hour. What do you want to do?"
Steve stared at Danny, who, if he had an opinion, did not reveal it. We can't do anything but sit here and try to stop the dehydration. Two hours.
The small amount of liquid in Danny's stomach gave it just what it had waited for. He gave a sudden moan as the fierce cramp gripped him, and the dry heave caused him to strain against the ropes that still held him.
Both Pol and Steve had scrambled backward through the dry dust. "We can't wait two hours," Pol voiced.
"Coast Guard, go ahead and call in the bomb squad," Steve announced, then set the radio aside. "Let's take a look at what we've got." He very slowly began to creep around the perimeter of Danny's outstretched body, examining every inch for a clue. The torrential rains had done a good job.
"What if there's no trip wire?" Robinson asked quietly.
"If it's a pressure device we won't be able to disarm it, but I don't think it would have gone two days without detonating if that was the case." He continued his scrutiny, face just millimeters from the dirt, fingers outstretched and tingling with anticipation of feeling something, anything that would be out of place. He froze as he spotted the small, nearly invisible line that had been intricately knotted into the knot of the rope on the back of Danny's left ankle. "Here." He motioned to Robinson.
"What is it?"
"Trip wire for an anti-personal mine. We cut this rope or move him, it goes off."
"Where'd something like that come from?" Robinson muttered.
Steve shook his head as he got off his stomach and sat down on the dirt, to think about their choices. "The things only cost about a dollar to make. They were peppered all over Southeast Aisa. Wouldn't take a genius to get hold of one."
"Can it be disarmed?"
"I don't know." What if we can't? Some newer models cannot be neutralized. Trip wire activated. I could get us all killed.
Pol dribbled a little more fluid into Danny while he waited for McGarrett to reason this through.
"Danno," Steve said, coming to close to him. "I'm going to attempt to neutralize the mine. It'll take a little time."
He half-opened his eyes. "You can't disarm it. Leave me," he muttered.
"Not likely," McGarrett replied. "I can't untie you until we get this thing. Can you hang in there a little longer?"
What for? Lani's dead, why should I be alive? And why should you care? So you can try to erase your guilt by saving my life--again? But his tongue was too swollen and he was too exhausted to voice the thoughts. He closed his eyes.
Steve examined the wire and knot for a minute or two. "Any wire cutters in that pack of yours?" he asked of Pol.
"I've got just the thing," he said attempting to sound cheerful. He pulled a small tool off his belt. "The latest thing. A Leatherman."
Steve examined the small multi-tool device with curiousity. "Looks like something from my Boy Scout days."
Pol flipped a piece around. "There." The device was now resembling a pair of plyers with a sharp wire cutting edge on the inside of the teeth.
Steve gave a mild grunt of approval and then instructed Pol to move about twenty feet away. When the young man began to complain, McGarrett got more vocal insisting there was no point killing all three of them. When Pol moved back, so did the shade.
Steve huddled over Danny's ankle on the ground as the heat shimmered around them. "I think I remember you doing something like this once," he commented to Danny just to reduce the tension.
He did not respond.
McGarrett carefully clipped away at the rope with a pair of nail-clippers, thread by thread. The slow work dragged on. Sweat dripped from his face onto his hands and the clippers became slippery with perspiration. His shoulders and neck were cramped. At last, he'd revealed more of the trip wire. He touched it with his index finger to test for tension. He issued a one word prayer upon finding it reasonably lax. "Okay, Danno. I'm going to cut the trip wire," he announced. It would be the first of three dangerous moments. Flattening himself to the ground, he positioned the wire in the teeth of the Leatherman. He mentally counted to three and snipped. Silence followed and he slowly took a deep breath. He slowly continued to untie the knotted rope from the left ankle, careful of the loose wire beside them. At last, the ankle was free. Careful not to do anything that would move Danny's leg and cause a spasm, he moved to the next leg. This limb took less time, but had to be accomplished with just as much care.
"Half way there," he reported to Danny as he moved up towards his arms. As he worked, they were now face to face and Steve could the look of despondency in Danny's eyes. He knows she's dead. The bastards probably killed her right in front of him. "Be careful not to move," he reminded him. "We've got a ways to go."
"Why?" he whispered.
The question for which there never is an answer. "A crime family from Chicago, Caputo, came to the Islands wanting to make a name for themselves." He pulled harder at the knot on Danny's right wrist. The flesh was torn and bleeding. Flies had planted maggots in the open wound. He stopped and looked Danny in the eye. "I am so sorry for what has happened." Never had he meant anything more in his life.
Danny looked away.
Steve moved over to the final limb and tried to move more quickly. With three limbs now free, the chances of a spasm causing the mine to go off were increasing. As the knot came free, Steve motioned to Pol. As much as he hated it, he'd have to place Pol in danger for the final step. "We need to lift him straight up and off," Steve explained.
With Pol at the arms, Steve at the feet, they made a count of three while each of them made silent petitions to their God. On the sound of three, they lifted, Pol firmly believing the God he'd prayed to he were about to meet. They ran, stumbling under the weight, until there was a fifteen foot space between them and the small plastic disk that now lay exposed to the daylight.
It would be another hour before the chopper returned with a bomb squad to handle the mine and transportation for them. Steve and Pol errected the tarp into a lean to, providing some shelter from the sun. They spent the rest of the time giving Danny frequent mouthfuls of electrolyte solution and massaging his muscles that had become stiff from two days of immobility. Whatever pain he was experiencing physically, Danny did not utter a sound. McGarrett ached for him, knowing his greatest pain was the loss of Lani and right now the gap between them was wider than ever.
The sight of the helicopter was a relief. Steve had watched his and Pol's efforts over the last hour produce a spark and then reassuring movement and increased awareness in Danny. At last he reclined in the back of the seahawk as it shot skyward, then south towards Oahu and real medical aid. For the first time in hours, Steve's mind was back on the Caputos and their game. He explained some of the details to Danny calling over the sound of the rotors. He concluded with: "Something in their timing went wrong. There was never a picture or information about Kono. From their notes, you were supposed to be last. I'll drop you at St. Franscis, and check in with Duke."
He murmured something that was lost in the sound.
Steve assumed it had something to do with refusing medical care. Fat chance. He can't even walk. I can't blame him for wanting to be a part. I'll like to tear those brothers apart with my bare hands, too.
"Central to McGarrett!" announced the radio. The chopper had just barely gotten within radio range.
"McGarrett." He snatched up the radio.
There was a click and Duke was on. "Steve, how soon will you be here?"
"We've just had our break. Kono just called. He's on route from Tahiti. He's got two attempted killers in jail back there. And I've got Marcus Wihahi who is just dying to talk to you.":
"Damn the hospital." Danny's voice from the back rose above the rotor noise.
McGarrett glanced back at him. I have a chance to learn from my errors here. If I shut him out now, there will never be any going back. "Twenty minutes," he amended to Duke.
Steve burst into his office, half-carrying Danny. He stopped in the doorway. Before him stood Duke, Kono, and Kimo. Easing Danny down into a chair, Steve turned to Kono, relief on his face. "Missed you, Brudder. How have you been?"
"Great--after I busted outta a closet," he answered. "A couple of goons hit me over the head. I woke up in a closet. I could hear 'em talkin' 'bout lynchin' me or something. I finally busted off the ropes." He gestured with his hands and Steve noticed the deep rope burns. "When they came to get me, I busted them instead." He grinned. "They're singin' for the Tahiti authoritites right now. There's also a little issue of illegal entry."
"Good job," Steve congratulated. "The Caputos?"
"They haven't moved," Duke responded. "Lawson's people are watching them. Lid's on tight. I don't think they know what's happened."
"Don't count on that for long. They'll hear. And when they do, they'll bolt like rabbits." Steve glanced around at his team.
Jenny entered with a washcloth and towel--a smile on her face for the first time in days. She handed them to Danny, blushing slightly. "I always hoped you'd be back."
He winced as he patted his unshaven, sunburned face with the cloth. He ached all over, but nothing would stop him from seeing this through.
"No matter how we feel about this, we have to do this right," Steve announced. "If anyone doesn't feel he--or she--can be professional first, he'd better wait here. I won't lose the Caputos on a technicality." No one said a word. He glanced at Lori, who stared at the floor. Kimo: his left fist clenched tight at his side, right arm in a cast. "Duke?" Duke nodded.
"Hey, if I didn't kill dem other guys..." he pointed out.
Steve grinned momentarily. He looked at Danny.
"I need a shirt," he commented.
Steve shook his head. "You stay here."
His gaze was cold. "I don't work for you any longer. They're responsible for a murder in my jurisdiction."
The tension was thick. Steve sought for a way out. "You can't even stand up." He was trying to sound gentle.
To Danny, it seemed patronizing. Rage smoldered just beneath the surface in his countenance. He struggled to his feet to make the point. "I have to do this."
Kono grabbed ahold of Danno's elbow to help him stay upright. "He'll do just fine."
McGarrett scowled. "This isn't smart, Kono."
"With all due respect, Steve, it ain't me bein' dumb here."
The tension was electric. I was supposed to correct this, not pour on the fuel. I would have happily died in a gun battle with Chaney instead of living with the guilt. Right now this is all he has left he can do for Lani. Even if it gets him killed, I cannot take that away. McGarrett turned away to the intercom. "Jenny, a set of clean clothes please."
She came in moments later. "The best I could do."
The shirt hung from Danny's shoulders like a school child's smock, but no one commented. He determinedly rolled up the sleeves.
Steve handed him a .32 from his desk. "Everyone armed?"
The phone rang.
Steve hesitated. For the first time in three days, he anticipated it with eagerness. "McGarrett." A brief message and he hung up. "They're making their move."
Anthony and Eugene Caputo gazed through the one way glass of the limo as it turned into the airport. "Well, we could have done a lot better. A lot of the help around here is sloppy, amateurs. Remind me to bring our own people next time," Anthony complained.
"It's all right," Eugene patted his arm. "Our point has been made. The Kumu fears us. The police look like the fools they are. We can run it from Chicago after we visit Australia awhile. Break a few more heads later. This is going to be our biggest gold mine."
The car came to a halt outside the departure area and they stepped out, leaving the chauffeur to deal with the luggage. They swept past the ticket desk.
"Now loading flight 1009 for Sydney," the woman's voice announced over the speaker. "Gate 47."
They calmly headed to the ramp at the gate.
"Not saying good-bye?" McGarrett asked, stepping out from behind a post, Kono at his side.
Eugene turned in surprise. "McGarrett? Steve McGarrett?"
He smiled. "You might be interested in meeting Officer Kalakauna . And officers Carew, Lukela, Williams." He gestured to where each of them was discretely spaced around the gate area. "We would all hate for you to leave so soon," he added dryly.
Anthony panciked, bolting for the door. Leaving the less mobile Danny with Eugene, every officer leapt after Anthony, but the younger Caputo had a head start. He cleared two rows of chairs before Kimo brought him down with a well-aimed duffel he'd snatched from a passenger's gear. Caputo began to scramble up, but Kimo thumped him on the head with his cast. Anthony crashed back down amongst baggage..
Eugene gazed in dismay at the muzzle of the pistol leveled at his head.
"Don't do anything," Danny muttered. "Don't sneeze, move a foot, don't even breathe cause there would be one hell of a lot of paper work if I fired this gun in an airport."
As fast as it had happened, the scene was over. A crowd gathered. Duke reached Anthony and cuffed the dazed man.
McGarrett turned his attention back to Eugene, pleased at the way his men had responded. As he came back, Danny reholstered his pistol.
"What is all this?" Eugene demanded, a little courage resurfacing now that the weapon was concealed. . "You have no right to bring storm troopers in here attacking innocent citizens for no reason!" He announced for crowd effect.
"No reason, huh?" Steve remarked quietly.
"This is a clear case of police brutality!" he shouted loudly.
"Oh, don't be a sore loser, Caputo," Steve grinned.
"You've got nothing."
"I've got everything!" he announced. "A sworn statement and enough forensic evidence to make the trail of blood right to you."
"I want a lawyer," Anthony winced.
"Yeah, I thought you might." McGarrett turned, triumphant. "Sometimes whether you win or lose is everything. Kono, Duke, book 'em. Ten counts of murder, nine counts of kidnap, seven counts attempted murder. Now let's see them play my game."
The memorial service had been well attended. The Seaman's Chapel had provided an excellent setting with cascades of colorful flowers, eucalyptus and sandlewood fragrancing the sanctuary. At last it was over and the families from across the islands who had their loss in common made their ways back to their respective lives.
Steve waited briefly considering the ironies. Lori's father and brother were taking her to Parkland Hospital in Dallas for treatment closed to their ranch in Weatherford, TX. The steps of her care were being measured in years. Nick's haole wife was returning to Louisiana while Frank's Hawaiian widow came back to her home state. Tahiti was waiving extradition of the Caputos for kidnapping. They'd be tried at length in Hawaii, then sent to California where, along with their henchman there, Steve hoped they'd try out the new capitol punishment law there.
Steve left the chapel, pulling the door shut behind him. It was an action as much out of symbolism as physical need. He would go on. Even facing the dark grief in the days ahead, he would come through, reassemble his team,and continue. He still had Kimo and Duke. Kono had not yet given him a reply. That left one very painful piece of the puzzle to go.
In the parking lot, the Ka'chelauli'i family was just pulling out in the chauffeur driven limo headed for the airport and their little peaceful world.
Steve noticed Danny standing by the shade of a palm watching them leave. "Danno," he greeted him quietly, aware the this was the first time during this ordeal they'd been alone.
He glanced at Steve. "They're good people. They can't understand why this had to happen to them--to her."
He wanted to say it was hard to understand why it happened to any of them, but he didn't. "They had a special daughter."
"Yeah," he said thickly.
McGarrett glanced down, then back at Danny. "Have any immediate plans."
"No. I can't go back there."
"Would you consider staying around for awhile? I've got an opening. Could someone with some experience."
He gazed away at an invisible point. He slowly took a deep breath and let it out. "I never asked to leave."
McGarrett raised an eyebrow. "I know. I'm sorry, Dan. For this, for last year..." He extended a hand.
Danny slowly reached out and took the handshake, the faint hint of a smile on his face. Their eyes met and, for a moment, they stood silent. Spontaneously, they suddenly gripped each other in an embrace and wept.