|HAWAII FIVE-0 FICTION LIST|
IT'S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME
By Peg Keeley
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. "No matter how we feel about this, we have to do this right," Steve announced. "If anyone doesn't feel he 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 Duke, 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."
Jenny entered moments later with a washcloth, towel, and set of clothing--a smile on her face for the first time in days. She handed them to Danny, blushing slightly. "I don't know why I never sent your backup set. Guess I always hoped you'd be back. Everything should fit except the shirt. It's one of Steve's old ones."
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. 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 panicked, 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 close 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.
He 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 replied to Steve's offer to return. 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.
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