A couple of notes: Danny's story in Friday's episode was based on a true story. I recognized it from a book I read a couple years ago about odd crimes. Guy sees a car run off the road, checks and finds a woman's been shot to death, though there's no one and nothing around. Works out pretty much like it did in the show except the real victim was killed. I always drive with my windows closed now. Scary.
Second, this will be the last of my weekly Five-0 updates. I don't have anything written and the show has been less than inspiring this season. Stupid writers. Lazy, stupid, soap opera rejects. That's not to say there won't be any Five-0 to come, because I'd like to fill out my story title alphabet, but right now Avengers are more appealing. Aloha, faithful readers, enjoy the big finale.
Chapter 22: Fiery Finale
Lights flashing, siren howling, Honolulu Fire Department Engine 68 roared along the highway. It's bull-like blaring horn chased cars from its path. Pacing the emergency vehicle were a Honolulu Police car, a silver Camaro with red and blue lights flashing in its grille and a blue Chevy Traverse, also with flashing lights and siren.
Danny felt like he was in a rerun, but it wasn't funny. He had called his daughter's school to warn them there might be a firebomb set to go off — and the fire alarm had set off the bombs. His warning had set Grace's school on fire!
Sirens wailing, the two Five-0 cars raced toward Sacred Heart, passing Engine 68 with Mick Harnett at the wheel. Steve felt a strong moment of deja vu racing alongside the big yellow engine — this was how it all started and this was how it would end, he vowed.
The building was hemorrhaging smoke and children. Both poured out of every door.
The youngsters were well trained. Though chattering in excitement, they filed to the designated area for their classes and lined up to be counted.
The principal met Steve and Danny at the Camaro.
"There are two classes trapped on the second floor of the east wing," she reported. "The stairwell is on fire."
"Grace?" Danny asked fearfully.
The woman recognized the detective. "Yes," she said reluctantly. "Grace's class is one of the two."
"Damn him, Bacadi did it on purpose," Danny swore. "He deliberately aimed the fire at my daughter."
"Well, he won't do it again," Steve said fiercely.
Danny started for the east wing, but Steve stopped him with a grip like iron. "Danny, you can't go in there. You just had a coughing fit over one whiff of smoke. You won't do Grace any good if you collapse!"
A crash of glass interrupted Danny's angry retort. Windows were breaking all along the second floor. The two teachers and some of the students slammed the metal legs of their desk chairs into the windows that had been glued shut in more Bacadi sabotage. While the Five-0 team ran toward the building, the not-so-helpless victims broke off all the glass they could, then covered the sills with the mats they used to sit on the floor.
Just pulling up in Engine 68, Mick Harnett saw the activity and swerved, bouncing over the curb and crossing the lawn. He stopped and lowered the stabilizing braces, then extended the ladder on the back of the truck toward one of the windows.
His new teammates didn't wait for the mechanical ladder to get into position. They unhooked extension ladders from each side of the truck and ran to other windows.
Jasper Lynch leaped up one ladder, took a fraction of a second to snap a safety line to a rung, then reached for a child leaning out the window.
"Grace!" Danny yelled in relief.
"Danno!" Grace waved enthusiastically.
A policeman's daughter and a fireman's granddaughter, Grace hadn't been afraid to join the window smashing. She knew they needed to signal to the rescuers below. But when Lynch reached for her, she stepped back and pushed a smaller boy forward. His face was red with stress and he was wheezing badly.
"Take Roger first," Grace said, as brave and bossy as either of her parents. "He has asthma."
Lynch obediently caught the trusting blond-haired boy under his arms and lifted him out. The fireman didn't waste time climbing down when he had 50 people to rescue. He lowered the youngster to Danny's waiting arms.
Danny gave an anxious glance at his daughter, but scooped up her classmate and ran to Paramedic Ab Riley who had just opened the back of his ambulance and pulled out his equipment box.
"Roger has asthma," Danny explained quickly. He gave the boy a quick pat on the back and ran toward the building again.
"OK, Roger," Riley said, offering oxygen and reassurance. "Is it the smoke that's bothering you or the excitement?" The boy frowned in thought, already seeming to breathe better with the oxygen mask.
Steve had taken Danny's place by the ladder, but he also saw Grace give way to a classmate. She and a teacher helped a tall girl swing her casted leg over the windowsill.
Lynch lifted her carefully and lowered her to Steve. He trotted to Margie Chandler, passing Danny on the way.
"I'm not hurt," the girl said. "Please go back and help the others."
"Yes ma'am," Steve answered with a military snap. He set the girl on the bumper of the ambulance and ran back.
The evacuation was going as smoothly as a bucket brigade with children instead of buckets. Firefighters on three ladders passed children to eager hands below, while other adults ushered them to join their fellow students gathered at a safe distance on the playground.
Chin and Ioki were on the back of Engine 68 taking youngsters from the man on the ladder and leading them to the back of the engine where Kono and a teacher helped them climb down.
Danny again saw his too-brave daughter let another student go ahead of her. He recognized the too thin, too pale boy and knew Bruce had a heart condition. Bruce climbed out with deliberate calm and allowed Lynch and Danny to put him on the ground.
"Hello, Detective Williams," he greeted Grace's father with his innate politeness.
"You doing OK, Bruce?" At the boy's nod, Danny told him to walk — not run — to the paramedics who were checking Roger and Amber.
"Yes sir," Bruce answered and followed instructions, walking slowly but decisively to Riley.
In the meantime, Steve had acquired a squirming, screaming armful of hysterical little girl, which told Danny that Grace had stepped back again. While Steve gingerly carried the flailing child away from danger, Danny gave his daughter his best parental glare.
"Grace Williams! You get down here right now before I have a heart attack!"
The man beside her — one of the teachers Danny didn't know — gestured Grace toward the window. She gave a glance around the room, but apparently reassured herself that the neediest cases had been evacuated already and she could take her turn in good conscience. She climbed onto the sill and held out her arms to Fireman Lynch.
"You're the bravest child I've ever seen," Lynch said in admiration, as he handed her down to her father. "You must be proud, sir."
"If proud equals scared to death, that would be me," Danny answered, hugging Grace so tightly she could hardly breathe. But Danny also could barely catch his breath.
He'd walked on lava, fielded a fire bomb in a diving catch and watched a man burst into flames like a tiki torch, but the worst, the very worst moment of an all-around terrifying day had been seeing his daughter trapped in a burning building.
Now he had her safe and he wasn't letting go any time soon.
It was a good thing Steve got back in time to take the next child from Lynch, because Danny couldn't move.
Grace patted his shoulder and spoke soothing words, the way her father did when she was scared. "It's OK, Danno. I'm OK. It's only smoke."
"She's right," said a new voice.
The captain of the A Shift at Station 68 was Antoine Edgewood. Harnett had pointed him toward the Five-0 commander. Edgewood appointed two firefighters to help Lynch with the last few children and their teachers, while the fire captain drew Steve and Danny aside, with Grace because Danny was reluctant to let her out of his sight.
"What did you find?" Steve asked Edgewood.
"Most of the fire alarm bells were tampered with to throw off sparks and create clouds of smoke that would cause confusion," Edgewood said. "The bell next to the stairs of the east wing was different. It was rigged to … well, basically it rained fire down, blocking the second floor hallway and the stairs. There were a lot of chemicals packed into the fire hose compartment beneath the bell. It made it impossible to get out of the east wing."
"And the windows were glued shut," Grace piped up. "Miss Kanaka noticed yesterday. She thought Tommy did it, but Tommy said he didn't."
"I think Tommy was telling the truth for once," Danny said. He realized this was a conversation his daughter shouldn't hear. He caressed the top of her head.
"You'd better go to your class, Monkey. They need to count noses."
"It's the rule, Danno," she agreed.
Danny remembered that one panicked child breaking that rule led to the death of the Beretania principal. "Right, have to follow the rule, Monkey. Be good. Danno loves you."
"Love you more," she answered. She gave her shaken father a hug and hurried to join her classmates in line.
Danny waited until she was out of earshot. "That bastard targeted my daughter, Steve. I hope he burns in Hell."
"He already burned here," Steve pointed out.
"There's more," Edgewood said. "This may not be over."
Steve summoned the rest of his team, Ioki included, and they went to the school science lab, which was right below Grace's classroom.
"We were looking for anything suspicious, because of the booby trap at Beretania. But the science teacher beat us to it. He was checking for damage and found this."
The cupboard door was cracked open and inside they could see a glass jar surrounded by packages labeled "phosphorus" and "potassium."
"That's more than we ever keep at the school," the science teacher said. "A lot more."
"It looks to me like the fire was meant to start here," Edgewood said. "Then smoke detectors would set off the fire alarms with the results we saw. So those kids in the east wing would have had a fire below them and no way out."
"Burn in Hell," Danny snarled under his breath.
"All right," Steve said decisively. "This looks like one of the time delayed chemical triggers that the fire investigators have described to us. We need to move it to a safer location."
Danny grabbed his partner's arm. "No. Not you. You need to leave it to the professionals."
Before Steve could argue or agree with Danny, Ioki spoke up. "It's OK, commander. I can take care of it."
"I just need to get my gear out of the car."
"What gear?" Steve asked at the same time that Danny said, "Wait, I thought you wanted to be a detective."
"I do," Ioki agreed.
Chin smacked his forehead. "Things have been moving so fast, I never briefed you on Walaka's background. Duke assigned him to us because he thought Walaka's skills would be useful."
"So you're not a patrol officer?" Steve asked.
"No, bomb squad," Ioki answered.
Once he geared up, Ioki carefully moved the trigger jar into a bomb disposal drum, then wheeled the drum away from the building. Then — after Steve checked for booby traps — Kono and Chin moved the packages of chemicals out of the building as well.
Sacred Heart was spared.
For days after, Five-0 and the HFD waited with bated breath, worried that there might be another trigger or booby trap hidden in a school. Teams of police officers and firefighters searched every school within Station 68's service area, but no more time bombs were found.
After two weeks, they started to feel confidant that the case was really over.
And then Danny's phone rang. It was Grace's teacher asking, if he and some of the other Five-0 officers would be willing to speak at the school's career day. Danny put her on speaker so Steve, Chin and Kono could hear.
"I hope you can come. Ever since the excitement the other day, it seems like all the children want to be policemen or firemen," Miss Kanaka said.
"They're popular professions," Steve said solemnly.
Danny grinned. "Yes, you might say they're hot pursuits."