The Lion &
Steve managed to get a taxi back to the Mayo Clinic. His explanation to Bob had been thin and he did not really care. He could not do anything else, so he wanted to speak with Charsia Beltan again - this time alone. He wondered if Bob thought he was on to her, but he did not care enough to dwell on it.
She was reading a book to young Michael as the boy played with a partially eaten dinner. Steve waited in the doorway for a moment as her words echoed in the corrider. "'I do not like them, Sam I Am, I do not like green eggs and ham '" She caught Steve in the corner of her eye and looked up. "Good evening, Mr. McGarrett."
He gave a gentle smile. "Good evening."
"I thought you had finished with your questions," she commented, mildly uncomfortable.
He gestured to the window. "No flights out, so I thought I might drop by one more time. How is Michael?"
He glanced up on hearing his name, his large blue eyes taking in this stranger. He looked away again and stuck a spoon into green Jello.
"He ate pretty well tonight," Charisa said with a smile and tousled her boy's hair.
"Mrs. Beltan, I am convinced that your husband was forced to help someone steal information from Texas Instruments. I want to do all I can to clear his name - and to get back that information before it falls into the wrong hands."
"Wrong hands - like a competitor?"
"Wrong hands like a government hostile towards us - or worse."
She placed her hands together in her lap. "I really don't know anything that could help you."
"Did you know any of your husband's friends at work? Anyone he might have talked to?"
She paused in thought.
On the television a commercial came on and Michael giggled and gestured towards the ad for Speak & Spell. "Daddy!"
Charisa gave a sad nod, "Yes, that's right, Michael." She explained to Steve: "Frank developed the technology for Speak & Spell. We have one at home."
"Speak & Spell?" Steve had never spent much time checking out toy commercials. The little girl on the screen was punching the buttons on the plastic box and the voice inside replied "C-A-T. Cat."
"Frank was always bringing home the latest things they were working on. Last week it was a computer for the home - a TI99 he called it. TI is supposed to start a big marketing campaign." She paused, her breathing ragged for a moment. "O God, Frank," she whispered, wiping a single tear away, "what have you gotten us in to?"
His cop sense told him to let her keep talking. "Tell me more about some of the technology he brought home."
She gave a small laugh. "He was very excited. Said people could keep their home records on magnetic tape - it would revolutionize small businesses and people's home records keeping."
"Magnetic tape?" He envisioned the large spools in the 'iron brain' room of HPD. "Those disks are huge."
"No, magnetic tape - like cassettes - the same cassettes we put music on."
"Cassettes?" Steve stared at her. Should we have been looking for small cassettes all this time? Did Bob know that? My God, they could have been tucked anywhere!
Steve decided he would
confront Bob with what he knew. Never one to shirk from confrontation,
there wasn't the time to play around here anymore. When he arrived back
at the small airport, she was not there. The pilot did not know her whereabouts
and seemed less interested. He had been looking at the radar patterns
- no break in the forecast for several more hours.
"Stay sober," Steve snapped. "We need to fly at the first chance."
He gave an absent nod. "Don't worry, I know how to hold my booze." He bit into a sandwich.
Steve felt mildly uncomfortable accepting her food when he was about to challenge her, and he could tell the Bob noticed his dark attitude, but gave a deliberate grin as she offered the sandwich and beer.
"I don't drink," he responded and headed for the coffee pot.
"Suit yourself." She popped the cap off a beer. "Did you learn anything new from Mrs. Beltan?"
"Funny you should ask that," he remarked. "Tell me about information storage."
She blinked. "What?"
"Tell me how the data files would have been stored. How would Beltan have gotten them out?"
"We've been over that," she commented, trying to sound calm, but failing.
"No, Ms. Archer - you only told me half the story."
"Okay, then - why don't you just give me all of it. You are obviously fishing for something," she snapped crossing her arms.
"Magnetic tape doesn't only come on data spools."
"Charisa told me about a soon to be released computer that will store information on cassette tapes. The kind we record sound on."
She did not move a muscle.
"Could Beltan have gotten his information out on a cassette tape?!" Steve demanded trying to hold his fury in check.
"Is that all?" she replied a well-planned patronizing look on her face. "We're not talking about balancing a checkbook - the kind of file needed for the missile codes is different."
"How different? It's still data, isn't it?"
She shook her head as she took another sip of beer. "Look, McGarrett. There are some things you will just have to accept. I am not going to give you a primer on binary 101."
"Really," he commented, his anger beginning to simmer. "Well, Ms. Asher, I suggest you have better give me something much more detailed than you have so far - and very quickly."
She glanced over at him, recognizing that things had somehow changed. "It seems as though you already have a theory or two. Am I right?"
"The missing data sequences always seem to be found by you - or after you have been at the console," Steve commented.
"Is that so surprising? It's my job to find where the violation occurred," she remarked. "It's what I do best."
He lifted an eyebrow. "Is it? Then I suppose you could be pretty good at taking that data as well."
She frowned. "Why should I do that? I have complete access to all the data. I wouldn't have to steal it."
"If you were going to make a patsy take the blame you would."
"A - you've been reading too many spy novels," she snorted.
"Give me your gun," he demanded.
She set aside her beer. "What?" she replied in consternation.
"Your weapon. Now."
The pilot, a seasoned intelligence officer himself had lost interest in the old magazine and was sitting bolt straight up.
"What the -" She hesitated.
"I won't ask again," Steve replied in deadly tone.
"Fine." She pulled the snubnose .38 from beneath her jacket and tossed it to him. "What were you really gonna do anyway? Shoot me? And what is this about?"
On thing, she sure can play the bravado card well. "And the other one," he added.
"Other -" She crossed her arms.
"Your other gun - I believe it is under your blouse, left-hand waist," Steve's grim expression did not change.
She rose, fury and color rising in her face. "Anything to get your kicks, huh?" In anger she yanked the blouse out of the waist band of her slacks, not caring that she exposed her bra briefly and pulled out her other gun with two fingers. "You are a real bastard, McGarrett."
"Yes," he agreed quietly accepting the weapon and noting it was a .22. "I've been told that before." He examined small pocket 5-shot revolver. All five chambers were full.
"I don't suppose this is show-and-tell where I get to play with your toys, too," she remarked with a smirk.
"You know," Steve remarked. "Were I to make that kind of remark, you would be calling me a sexist pig and probably report my actions to a superior. Why shouldn't I do the same?"
She shifted her weight to one leg, arms still crossed and turned to stare out of the window at the snow storm. "So what is this about?"
"I think you already know that, don't you?" He carried the guns over to his brief case and slid them into brown envelopes, then into the case and snapped the lid shut. He spun the tumblers. "Tell me how Frank Beltan died."
Still not willing to yield, she clenched her fist at her side. "Just who the hell do you think you are? You are nothing but a small tourist town flat-shoe who is totally out of his element and his jurisdiction. I am a representative of the federal government, McGarrett. A card-carrying Federal Bureau of Investigation Senior agent!"
"Sit down, Ms. Archer," Steve said quietly, not permitting his anger to be on such open display.
She continued to stand.
"I said: 'Sit down.'" He stared her in the eye.
The staring contest ensued for a moment before she yielded and sank onto the edge of a metal and plastic chair. "Okay, Aloha Boy, shoot your wad and be quick about it," she snapped.
Continuing to ignore her insults he calmly said: "Frank Beltan died from a .22 bullet. There were no casings found - meaning it was a revolver. All of the Kansas officers were armed with .38 specials or .45 Colts."
She sat in silence for a moment. "And I have a .22 revolver."
"So you just assumed -"
"I think you were concerned that we were going to take him alive, question him and that he'd crack. After all, Beltan was just a computer programmer, not a spy. He was just trying to save his little boy. He wouldn't know how to lie to the proper interrogators. You couldn't have that."
"Beltan was just supposed to run, wasn't he? You followed along behind making it look as though data had been invaded, copied, stolen when you were actually taking it yourself. For what purpose?"
"This is all a tall story, McGarrett. And one you cannot prove."
"I think I'll be able to prove your gun killed Franklin Beltan."
She shrugged. "It was an awful accident - a lot of people were shooting. Beltan was shooting, too. You'll never prove it was intentional."
He tapped a finger against the back of the chair he stood beside. "Then what happened to the data? Who has it? Beltan sure didn't. Nor did he have the opportunity to get it delivered. Where did it go?"
"That's what we are trying to determine," she retorted.
"I don't believe it went anywhere."
She gave a grin. "Then what's this all about?"
"I think you already know that answer, but if it's proof you want " He glanced over and spoke to the pilot. "We've got all night. Let's get everyone's bag in here and go through them all. Hers, mine, yours, everyone on that plane."
Bob crossed her arms in fury.
"Not even interested in this exercise?" Steve asked quietly drawing close.
She did not reply.
Ian O'Conner carefully turned the rusty pickup truck onto the pothole filled road that led to the old bunker. He glanced over at Deidre Shale who sat beside him, anxiously peering through the windshield, a rifle clutched in her hands. Her long brunette hair fell across her shoulders; she had used a piece of an old canvas strap as a hairband to pull the tresses away from her face. A pretty girl. She is my cousin - but only by marriage, Ian thought attempting to distract himself from the urgency of their mission. Only her father would have me drawn and quartered if I so much as touched her hand. And her father is all that is on her mind at the moment - and perhaps mine as well. Her father had missed his rendezvous and when he was two hours late, their protocol was to investigate. A damned business this is, Ian thought. Too many enemies. The Brits, the Colonialists, Mi6, the CIA, and even the IRA.
Ian suddenly spotted something and hit the brake, the worn pads groaning against the brakes as the truck came to a halt. They both jumped from the cab.
Ian bent over the body of one man he knew instantly: Lucas. His throat had been slit. Ian glanced over at Deidre who was inspecting the other man: Harold. His fate had been the same.
"My God, Ian," Deidre placed a hand to her lips. "Come on! Dear God! My father."
Biting his lip, Ian followed her back into the truck and continued up the road, his heart rate pounding faster and faster. What will we find? What will I do if he is dead?
They rounded the curve and the bunker was in view - and Uain still tied to the straight chair in the rain, head dropped back as the droplets fell onto his silent face.
"Daddy!!' Deidre shrieked leaping from the vehicle before Ian could even stop it. "No! No! Daddy!" She was at the old man's side, running her hands over his face, cradling his head against her breast tears streaming down her face. "Dear God, Ian! Help me!"
He quickly cut Uain from the chair. "He is alive, Deidre," he assured her, but had already noticed the horrid burns on the victim's head and genital area where the clothing had actually been melted to the flesh. "Deidre, he is alive," he repeated trying to get her attention. "Help me get him into the truck."
Between them, they carefully moved him into the bed of the truck. It was wet from rain and Deidre reached back into the cab of the truck looking for a blanket. "Ian," she gasped, "we need to get him to the boat. We need Shamus."
"Just a minute," Ian replied, "there's another man here." He approached the stranger and even before checking knew he was still alive: There was bright blood oozing from the bullet wound in the left shoulder. He hesitated a moment, realizing he did not know the man, but he was somehow connected to everything that had gone wrong here.
"Ian! Come on!" Deidre begged.
He glanced back at her, then quickly sifted through the other victim's pockets. There was no identification. "Deidra, help me! This one's alive, too."
She regretfully jumped from the back of the truck and came over. "We don't know 'im." She declared.
"He's got to know something about what happened here," Ian explained. "You don't want me to just leave him to bleed to death, do you?"
"I guess not," she replied. "But please, we've got to hurry. My father is in deep shock. I think he's dying."
Ian took hold of Dan
Williams under the arms, and Deidre his legs, and they placed him beside
Uain in the back of the truck. Deidre climbed into the back with the two
injured men and Ian headed the truck back towards their boat...
...Danny could feel something moving under him and knew he must be traveling somewhere, but he was too tired to open his eyes. He shivered from the wet cold and wished he could get warm before reality slipped away .
...Birds. He could hear birds - seagulls? Am I home? Has this all been a terrible dream? He wanted to move, his back hurt, but the slightest attempt brought searing pain. Bad choice. His world again faded out .
...Something soft brushed across his lips. Was it a kiss? He could smell vanilla. It was warm and soft. I remember the birds. What happened? A fragment of memory fired through his mind
He gasped astonishment. Where am I? His eyes flew open and he tried to sit up, a sharp stabbing pain shot through his chest checking the action. "Where am I?!"
"Whoa there," came a quiet feminine voice. "Take it easy."
In shock he looked at the dark haired beauty sitting near him. Wow, where'd she come from?
"You are all right. You are safe," she said quietly. "Don't be afraid."
He stared at her trying to fit her into his splotchy memory.
"You are safe here, Leon."
Leon? Uain. The missing plutonium - the disastrous events of the bunker. Camp.
"The doctor is coming," she said softly, her hand taking his. "You are going to be all right."
I am? What has happened? Where am I?
Her china blue eyes looked into his soul. "No one can hurt you now," she promised. "Do you remember what happened?"
"Some," he murmured. Who do I trust? I thought I knew. Who do I trust? Her? Can I ask who she is? Should I know?
Tears instantly sprang to her eyes. "I could not have imagined some one who could main a person so horribly...Shamus says my father may die." She clasped his hand tighter. "My father said it was an American named Camp who hurt him and shot you."
"Camp," Danny whispered, awash in confusion.
There were shuffling footsteps and the old wooden door to the second floor bedroom opened to admit an elderly balding man whose face wore a tired gentleness and a goatee. He carried a very traditional doctor's black bag in his left hand. "How is our patient, Deidre?"
"He is awake," she announced, moving slightly to allow the physician in, but not releasing Danny's hand.
"Good evening," Shamus said quietly to Danny. "It seems you and my friend Arthur have given me a full evening."
Arthur - Uain's real name must be Arthur. Danny watched the doctor's face intently, trying to get a view of his injury in the reflection of the man's glasses, but could only determine that there was quite a bit of blood. His shirt had already been removed and a gauze dressing placed over the gunshot wound that seemed to be just below the clavicle of his left shoulder.
As Shamus prodded the wound slightly Danny uttered a gasp. "Hum," Shamus said and sat back. "All right then. I can tell you that your wound does seem to have been from a rather small caliber bullet and does not seem to be life threatening at the moment. But we need to get the bullet out. They can be funny things."
"Strange, I don't feel like laughing."
Shamus ignored Danny's sarcasm. "If it entered and just stopped in a straight line removal will be without much effort. But if it turned - as they are prone to do, it may take some digging. It may even have lodged somewhere else entirely. I won't know until I go after it."
Shamus glanced at Deidre, then back at Danny. "This is not a hospital. I have no anesthesia. This is going to hurt."
I'm in pain right now. "Okay," he acknowledged.
"A lot." Shamus pulled a bottle of whiskey from his bag. "It will help." He took out a shot glass and filled it and handed it to Deidre.
"Kind of like the old west where the cowboy bites the bullet," Danny murmured. Deidre lifted his head - another painful action, and he drank the shot of whiskey in one gulp.
"That should make you feel better," Deidre offered with a smile.
Danny was surprised at how much better he felt. The alcohol flamed down his throat and boiled in his empty stomach, but rushed a blazing hot comfort through his body. It almost seemed like he could sense every blood capillary as the effect washed over him relaxing the tension.
Shamus refilled the shot glass.
Danny gladly accepted the second drink, hoping that if the first felt so good, the second would feel even better. It did not, but he didn't mind.
Shamus rolled a tight wad of gauze. "Open your mouth. Bite on this."
Danny carefully obeyed, suddenly realizing that he was really going to have a surgeon dig in his chest for a bullet without anesthesia.
Shamus nodded. "Biting the bullet, as you said." He carefully took a cloth bag from his case and unrolled it. "Americans all want to be cowboys, don't they?" He laid out several probes, suture material, scissors, a narrow pair of clamps. "We are ready."
With Shamus' first touch, Danny gasped in the shock of the pain. Deidre clasped hold of his hand, a look of pain on her face, holding his hand against her chest between her breasts. Danny tried to focus on her face, on her body, on what her breasts must look like - focus on this Deidre whom he did not know - he would like to know her. His mind raced for anything that would take attention away from the pain. It felt like a knife stabbing into his chest.
Is it over? Danny opened his eyes he had squeezed tightly shut and tried to slow his breathing.
"Give him another drink," Shamus ordered.
Deidre removed the gauze Danny had been biting on and administered another shot of whiskey. As he finished it, she leaned forward and planted a short kiss on his lips. "For good luck," she whispered in answer to his astonishment.
The door opened and another new face entered the room. Shamus nodded towards him.
"How is my father, Ian?" Deidre asked.
"Resting," Ian commented and gave his attention to Danny. "And him?"
"In time," Shamus replied.
Ian scowled. "I need him to tell me what he knows."
"When we are done," Shamus replied.
"You can keep working," Ian remarked.
"Ian!" Deidre gasped in distress.
Shamus made no comment, merely glanced at Danny. "Ready?"
Not knowing how he could possibly be ready, Danny did not respond, but felt considerably more vulnerable with Ian in the room. As Shamus began to probe again for the bullet, Danny uttered a gasp of pain.
"Who are you?" Ian asked him.
Danny managed to glance at him.
Deidre started to protest, but Ian silenced her with a look. Ian glared intently at Danny. "Who are you. I know who you are not. You are not Leon."
Danny gritted his teeth as Shamus, trying to ignore that Ian was turning his quest to save a man's life into a moment of torture. He probed as gently as he could, but knew the pain of excruciating for his patient.
"I will allow Shamus to give you more liquor - just tell me who you are and what your mission is," Ian demanded.
Danny knew that between the pain and the alcohol he was losing his ability to think - at least creatively. What do I tell him? Who do I trust?
Deidre touched his face gently. "It is all right. We are the good guys," she whispered gently. "He has to know to stop whoever has the nuclear material. You know someone has it and they are trying to make a bomb. We have to stop them."
Danny stared at her. Just then the doctor suddenly touched something that was white hot. He cried out, trying unsuccessfully to remain still.
"Ian!" Shamus shouted in frustration, "hold him still."
Ian placed his strong arms across Danny's legs as Deidre now clung to both his hands. Shamus knew he had found the bullet, but getting it out would take another round of agony. He gently dug back into the shoulder wound again as his patient sobbed in pain. Each time Shamus' probe moved, Danny gave another cry.
"Shamus, he's bleeding is his mouth," Diedre observed in alarm.
"Of course he is, Lass," Shamus muttered. "Probably bit his tongue, cheek, something - but he didn't tell ya nothing, did he, Ian?"
Ian glared at the doctor. "I have to know, Shamus. It isn't what I want to do."
"Sure, Ian. That's what you say every time, isn't it?" Shamus adjusted his glasses and gave a slow breath. "All right, Leon, if that is who you are, the time has come. This is going to really hurt."
End part 6