Mother's Blue Dress
The clouds had moved off, leaving just an occasional wisp of stratus clouds behind as the blue sky broadened out towards the horizon where the sun was moving hastily towards the sea. Shortly, it would be dark and locating anyone would be nearly impossible. Hopefully the coordinates received by the USS Tattnall were accurate. The destroyer had been the closest ship and had been redirected towards the site with orders to move in once the weather had cleared enough. Her crew was on high alert. Rumor had it that war with Asia, China perhaps, or even Russia, was eminent and her officers were skeptical that this might be a trick. But the A Beleza was registered to be in the area even though all the maritime craft had been warned to avoid this hurricane. It was surprising that the Brazilian ship had ignored the warning.
"Probably didn't believe it," Richardson, the first officer remarked in the ready room.
"Whatever," Captain Anderson answered. "We are elected to clean it up. Advise the medic standing by to render assistance - and keep us on yellow alert."
Richardson had nodded his acknowledgement.
As the Tattnall approached the coordinates, her lookouts scanned the water surface with field glasses. They quickly began to spot debris and oil slick - a ship had met a watery fate here for certain. The claxton sounded calling more crew to the rail to look for survivors and Captain Anderson put down the motorwhale boat with a SEAL team. It was less than ten minutes before the small boat returned to the destroyer with two survivors.
Anderson had already placed the call amongst his crew for a Portuguese interpreter and finding none had accepted the Chief Petty Officer who was fluent in Spanish.
As the two survivors, draped in gray navy blankets were ushered aboard the Petty Officer stepped forever. "Dé la bienvenida a bordo. Esto es un Estados Unidos el barco Naval."
One of the SEAL officers chuckled. "At ease, sailor, one's an American."
The male survivor stepped forward. Beneath his woolen blanket he was streaked black from head to toe, hair matted down from the oil he had floated through over hours. His hand shook from cold and exhaustion as he extended it towards the officers.
"American?" Richardson asked of him.
He gave a single nod. "Dan Williams. The girl needs help."
Mara, shivering from her experience, buried her face in the blanket, terrified at the new group of men who were surrounding them. She gripped tightly the edge of Danny's blanket. Although nearly a stranger to her, she knew they had kept each other alive in the water and that was enough for her to want to keep close.
The motorwhale boat was putting out again as Richardson asked. "What was your compliment?"
"Close to 65," Danny muttered and gazed back at the choppy ocean wondering how many had died.
The little makeshift debris raft had found two more survivors, one of them severely burned and in extreme pain. No one was completely out of the water, but the survivors graciously shifted as well they could to accommodate the badly injured man. Darkness was beginning to fall and there was yet to be any indication of help since the high level aircraft several hours before. Steve looked critically from person to person knowing that it would not be long before they began to die. The nearly catatonic girl or the burned man will be first. Then who? One of the crewmen was slipping into deeper hypothermia. What can be done to keep them alive? Steve did not want to face that his own survival was not likely as the deep gash on his arm continued to bleed freely and he had no gauge to determine his blood loss. As time was slipping by, he could feel his strength sapping with it. Steve no longer could lift his head from the wet debris-webbed surface of their only hope.
"Mbutu," he whispered through chatting teeth.
The large kind man at Steve's elbow bent his ear close.
"Williams…did you know Williams?"
Mbutu gave a quick nod.
"When you are rescued…if the girl lives…go to Chin Ho Kelley…Hawaii…he knows us…tell him…" Steve's voice faded and was lost.
Mbutu frowned. "You not die, I think," he commented. "What I say to Kelley man?"
"Girl…take her back home…" Steve wanted to give Mbutu a report, but he did not have the strength. His body was shaking and his teeth chattering. It was all too much. Have to sleep…
One of the men suddenly bolted upright, eyes shining. "Poupe-nos!" He shouted waving his arms wildly.
Others turned, exclaimed and began shouting. Far in the distance was the silhouette of an American destroyer in the last of twilight. A smaller boat was closing on the group waving a spotlight back and forth across the blackening water.
The hospitable crew of the Tattnall accepted the seven new survivors into their midst. Steve, the burned man and the young Asian girl were moved quickly to the ship's infirmary. The ship's surgeon gave his attention to the burned man first, administering morphine, then quickly surmising the man to have second and third degree burns over 40% of his body - most of it his face and arms.
Meanwhile, the corpsman wrapped the girl in several warm blankets, then moved to Steve who had already been covered in several blankets.
Danny had been on deck when the new survivors were brought in and accompanied McGarrett below. The pallid gray of Steve's skin and the blood dripping freely from the saturated linen dressing were disquieting.
The corpsman looked at the binding cloth, then made an attempt to untie the knot. Between the blood and the water, the knot help fast. The young man cut away the cloth to inspect the wound.
"Shit," the young medic uttered in shock as the restrictive cloth dropped away and as it did the deep knife wound yawned open before him. "Hey, Doc, this guy's been filleted!"
As the air reached the injury, Steve gritted his teeth in new pain and gave a single vicious kick against the exam table to keep from crying out.
The doctor was pouring saline over the sterile dressings he had been applying to burns. "Morphine," he replied. It seemed his standard first response for everything.
The Corpsman injected the needle deeply into Steve's good arm.
Knowing the drugs would take effect quickly, Danny came close to Steve. "McGarrett, what do you want me to do?"
Steve gazed at Williams, already feeling the heavy sedative effectives. It was the first time he had known the young recruit was still alive. "You're alive…good." He drifted out.
Danny gave a smirk and ran a hand through the curls of hair that still lay matted in black oil against his head Good?
The doctor had now moved over to inspect Steve's arm. "Pretty one," he remarked examining the deep knife wound.
Danny left the infirmary and headed deck side. He had left Mara in the wardroom still in her wet clothing, but wrapped in a blanket sipping chicken broth. The girl had refused to dress in the dry navy issue jumpsuit. There were no women on board to help her change and she did not seem to understand what to do. She was vulnerable and he felt an urgency to get back to her. He wanted to get into the dry clothing that had been offered him earlier. Maybe if she sees I'm wearing dry clothing, she will change.
He wondered how they would classify this case. There were nine survivors out of a compliment of 64. All the smugglers were dead. Only two of the girls had survived. He was haunted by the young girl Marco had presented to him the other day. He had promised he would help her - she was not one of the two.
He looked across the water to where the small boats still scanned the area for more survivors. Word had been passed and Airsea Rescue was now on the scene as well. As soon as their ship arrived, the Tattnall would head for Pearl with her survivors. With a quiet sigh, Danny turned away from the railing to find a shower and dry clothing. Danny's musings were cut short when he was suddenly thrust roughly against the steel bulkhead of the ship. He blinked in total astonishment as he stared into the stern fat jowls of Harold Sizegate.
The smuggler was still nearly covered in black oil from the surface of the water and his wet hair and clothing clung against him. Even with the once white suit stained with streaks of black oil, Sizegate squeezed into a life-vest reminded Danny of images of humpty-dumpty from his childhood reading. But there was nothing humorous about his hostile countenance. "Surprised?" Sizegate snarled.
"Hum," Danny decided there was no choice but to admit it. "Yeah."
"I was lucky enough to get picked up - apparently so were you. A sailor told me you had a girl with you and there was another rescued as well." He paused. When Danny said nothing he murmured. "I know what you were about."
Danny felt his muscles freeze. What does he know?
"You and Marco - you were stealing my girls."
He wrinkled his brow in inward relief. "Your girls? You were going to throw them overboard. You didn't want them. That makes them my girls. Salvage."
Sizegate gave him a punch in the jaw the slammed him back against the wall. The swollen lip from earlier began to bleed again. "You and Marco were stupid. Garcia knew there was a cop on board. We needed to get rid of the evidence," he hissed, his face close to Danny's.
Danny shrugged. "Maybe that cop is dead."
"That cop is the guy with the bad arm in there." He gestured his thumb towards sickbay.
Danny did not answer. He's made Steve. So now what? He obviously has not figured me how. How can we use this? What was McGarrett going to do when we reached Hawaii? He never told me. What do I do? I have no credentials. McGarrett did not tell them who I was. I don't even know the telephone number for Five-0. Looks like I need to make this up as we go along.
Sizegate spoke again. "So - you think you got contacts in Hawaii? Garcia had contacts too and I doubt he had time to call the deal off. So what are you gonna do with his people?"
"You think they're going to come out to meet a destroyer? They think we're all dead. My people will bid for those girls fair," Danny remarked.
"Bid -" Sizegate gave a smirk. "With a cop who's made me hanging around?" His large fists pressed Danny against the bulkhead. "We can't reach port with that cop. If you want to reach port, kill the cop."
"Are you crazy!" Danny pulled free from the grasp. "You aren't on a little sleazy freighter. This is an United States warship. There are people with guns here - and they aren't supposed to be us."
"These sailors don't know anything about this, Williams. I told them that the girls are my dear adopted children. They should be bringing them to me any minute now. Who is to say otherwise? No one but that cop."
Who is to say otherwise? "If that guy is a cop, he's full of pain medication. He's not doing any talking," Danny reasoned. "There a big difference between smuggling and murder - especially cop-killing."
There were footfalls as someone approached. Sizegate turned as a sailor appeared, young Mara wrapped in a blanket with him. "I found your daughter, Sir. Can I get you all some warm clothing and a place to rest. We shall be in port in just about ten hours."
Sizegate cracked a sly smile and glanced at Danny. He theatrically reached out and embraced Mara who shivered. "My dear child!"
Mara stared in shocked betrayal, looking back and forth between Danny and Sizegate. It was plain she thought Danny was giving her back to the man who had abused her.
Danny, unable to look her in the eye tried to hide the feeling of revulsion. I cannot begin to make her understand. I just have to keep her alive until we get to Honolulu. Ten hours. If I go to the officers of the ship, I have no way to back up the truth. It is my word against Sizegate. No evidence. He watched as Sizegate began to lead Mara away. She glanced back over her shoulder at Danny, her face blank and lifeless.
The sailor took them to the small wardroom that contained a table and several straight chairs that were now occupied by the four other A Beleza survivors. Each had been able to clean off the worst of the oil that had coated them and they wore blue navy one piece jumpsuits under their gray navy blankets.
Danny noticed Mbutu
right away. The other three men were strangers. He felt a new pang of
regret that Yusuf was not in the group. Mara allowed Sizegate to put her
into a chair next to him. Danny slid onto another chair and accepted a
cup of black coffee. Ten hours He would not take his eyes off Mara;
he would not rest..
The Tattnall tied up in Pearl Harbor at just before noon. The hot sun had not stopped two news teams from covering the rescue of the doomed A Beleza. Sizegate peered over the side of the ship, unhappy about the cameras. There were several other people on the dock including a representative from the Brazilian consulate and NIS.
Sizegate scowled and gripped the arms of each of the two girls. Both staggered zombie-like as he pushed them forward. "You have a plan?" he muttered at Danny.
"We fake it," he replied, scanning the dock below for Five-0 people. His gaze settled on the two men in dark suits near the NIS officials. Chin Ho and Kono.
Sizegate glanced around and spotted McGarrett at the far end of the deck, arm in a sling. He hesitated.
"My people are here," Danny whispered into Sizegate's ear. "Those two." He pointed out the Five-0 officers. "We just walk down and head straight for them before the cop gets close."
"They look like cops," Sizegate muttered.
"Yep, they do," Danny said with a grin. "Let's go before your cop friend spots you." He gave a glance towards McGarrett and headed for the gangway. Two of the survivors had already exited the ship and were talking with the NIS people and the Brazilian representatives.
They stepped onto the dock and Kono and Chin began to walk towards them. Sizegate knew Danny was behind him. He tightened his grip on the girls who shuffled next to him. As if seeming to suddenly realize it might be a trap, Sizegate decided to create his own diversion. Grabbing the weaker girl who had been in the infirmary he suddenly lifted her from the ground and pitched her from the dock into the harbor.
She gave a horrified shriek as she hit the water. Even as startled people began to run, Sizegate grabbed the remaining girl, Mara, and a small gun from his pocket. With amazing speed, he spun on those approaching and Danny.
"Hold it, all of you!" Sizegate demanded, putting the gun to her head.
She whimpered, but offered no resistance.
"Sizegate, what is this?" Danny demanded. "Let her go."
"I'm not as dumb as you thought," he retorted, still backing inland across the dock.
By this time, two sailors were in the water rescuing the other girl.
McGarrett, in spite of his wound and the splitting headache the morphine had left him with, ran towards the gangway, gun drawn. It was not an ideal situation. Danny was in the line of fire between Sizegate and him. Kono and Chin also stood in the line of fire beyond. In addition, Sizegate held the girl before him like a shield. "Sizegate, you cannot get out of here!" McGarrett shouted as he exited the gangway onto the dock.
"No?" he bellowed back. "I guess we shall see." More quietly he muttered to Danny, "Williams. Closer."
Danny glanced back at Steve, knowing that Sizegate's plan was to turn him into part of the shield. He moved closer towards Sizegate, looking for something to use to change the odds. His eyes met Mara's. He tried to look sure of himself. An abandoned plastic ballpoint pen rolled under the sole of his shoe.
"A car," Sizegate demanded of McGarrett. "Get me a car."
Steve gave a nod and Kono hurried after a vehicle.
Sizegate looked at Williams in a new way. "You little bastard. Your guys, huh?"
Danny, standing only about three feet away, shrugged. "Guess you never know, huh?" There was the sound of the Mercury's engine as Kono brought the car up about twenty yards behind Sizegate and go out, leaving the engine running. "Let the girl go, Sizegate. You won't make it anyway, but you'll stand a small chance without the girl."
Sizegate grinned. "No way." He took two backward steps toward the car. Mara gave another whimper.
Danny suddenly ducked down. McGarrett thinking it was to give him a clear shot began to squeeze of a shot, hoping Chin and Kono would also drop. They did.
Sizegate yelled out as the bullet struck his shoulder. He stumbled, his gun coming up as Mara pulled free from him and sprawled across the ground the other way.
Kono and Chin were running forward, pawing into their jackets for their weapons. Steve squinted at the scrambling bodies, trying to get another clear shot. Sizegate, rather nimble in spite of his size, chose the closest target - Danny, but Danny was in quick motion.
Danny leapt forward, the broken pen that had been underfoot gripped in his right fist. He slammed into Sizegate, who, already off balance, fell backwards to the ground. Danny drove the pen shaft through the soft flesh of the left cheek of Sizegate's face.
As blood spurted, Sizegate shrieked in shock and pain.
As Sizegate's empty hand flew defensively to his face, Danny stabbed the pen into Sizegate's gun hand, pinning it to the asphalt as Sizegate dropped the gun and the shaft of the plastic pen shattered.
Kono, Chin and Steve were by this time, all standing over Sizegate, guns trained on the heavy smuggler.
Danny got to his feet as Sizegate wailed in pain. Mara huddled on the hot ground sobbing, unable to understand this turn of events any more than she could process any of what had befallen her the last several hours.
McGarrett turned to Williams. "A pen?" he muttered.
a baseball bat," Danny remarked.
End Part 8