The Lion &
Steve and Bob had transferred in Harrisburg from the military flight to a helicopter owned by the NRC. As the sun rose, they were now racing towards Three Mile Island as an engineer shouted over the din of the rotors.
"Some kind of overheating - not sure yet. The coolant levels may have dropped - can't determine how much water there is in the reactor!" He shouted.
Steve felt stunned and overwhelmed. The reactions of those highly trained in nuclear energy were bordering on panic, so there was something here to be seriously concerned about. Bob's treason at the moment seemed to be unimportant to everyone as the engineer and she pored over schematic drawings and scribbled numbers on paper.
The airspace rapidly became congested with other aircraft, mostly military choppers and news teams, all scrambling for the best vantage point. The three yawning towers of Three Mile Island came into view beyond the bare-branched trees of late winter in Pennsylvania.
"Everyone is out," the engineer shouted. "We are trying to contain the news - it's bound to get out somehow."
"How does it look?" Bob shouted back.
"If we can't stop a melt down we're going to be dumping radioactive waste in the Susquahanna River - headed downstream towards Harrisburg and Philadelphia - not to mention the fates of everyone in the immediate area," he shouted back.
Steve suddenly thought about The China Syndrome. He glared out of the window at the countryside. Is this for real or is it a scare tactic based on a fright movie? This doesn't really happen - does it?
Minutes later, they were on the ground. Bob was the center of attention as she and a cluster of engineers shouted, jabbed pens at equations, and headed for radiation suits. "The core is a 4,300 degrees - near meltdown!" one said above the others. "We have to do something!"
Steve felt a little out of place, but could not release the nagging sensation that something else must be happening here.
A cluster of television crews were on the tarmac nearby, cameras and microphones trained on the plant owner, some VP from the power service was smiling into the lights in spite of the fear that was making his hands shake. "No there is nothing to be concerned about. Everything is under control. No one needs to be alarmed."
Steve glanced back at the engineers who were yelling at each other in total panic. Nothing wrong? Under control? What is happening here? He noticed that Bob was donning one of the suits as she continued her debate with another engineer. "You are not going into a restricted area," Steve declared interrupting the discussion.
She paused, one leg in the suit. "What?" She hissed.
"You aren't going into a restricted area," he repeated.
The other engineers were staring at him as well. She straightened, letting the suit fall around her ankles. "Oh, really? What do you think this is about, McGarrett? We have a critical nuclear accident here. No espionage - just old fashioned 'someone screwed up.'"
"You don't go in there unless you are under guard," he repeated undaunted.
"What the hell is this?" demanded one of the engineers.
"Dudley Do-Right here thinks I'm going to steal classified secrets," she snapped tucking a stray hair behind one ear.
"Thinks?!" Steve snarled.
"Sorry," one engineer pulled out his card. "NRC - I can supersede your authority. She comes with me."
He paused only a moment. "Then I come, too."
They glanced at each other. "Suit yourself. Just stay out of the way," the NRC man replied.
The small lights and dials on the massive control panel seemed to have gone berserk and were blinking wildly.
"What is the level of the coolant in the chamber?" one engineer asked as he gently tapped a dial.
"We can't tell that," another replied. "We think it is just fine."
"This detector seems to have malfunctioned," said Bob.
Steve's attention was grabbed instantly. Malfunctioned or sabotage?
The engineers continued to shout back and forth, scrambling around the room for data.
"What's the computer say?"
"It's going nuts - too much input, the assessment coming is over an hour old."
Steve began to realize that they did not really know what was happening. Maybe they were too dependent on computer formulas, or on idiot lights - but they were obviously not getting what they expected.
A red alarm suddenly sounded and every eye turned to the board. "We have a contaminated water leak next door," someone stated with more control that Steve thought appropriate.
"Anyone in there? Make sure they are taking measures," the NCR man declared.
"We need to issue a state of emergency," Bob commented.
"Are you kidding?" the NRC man replied. "How are we going to evacuate the entire state of Pennsylvania?"
"We need to tell them!" she insisted.
"It will cause mass panic. No, hold on for now. Maybe it's not that bad," he replied.
Steve found himself genuinely wanting to side with Bob.
The team members glanced from one to the other, seeming to become aware that Steve, a non-engineer was in their midst. The NRC man cleared his throat, the action sounding a bit odd through the respirator. "Hell, at least a nuclear engineer is in the white house."
Which means they can't pull a fast one on President Carter - just everyone else, Steve thought.
Garrison managed to find a hotel room in Middletown and sent his aide to find Steve. It was nearly dinner time, so he called room service and them deliver so that when Steve arrived, there was food waiting.
"You took me off surveillance of Archer," Steve stated hotly coming through the door.
"I know," Garrison said kindly. "Have something to eat. I doubt she is going anywhere. She is an engineer first - she'll see this thing through. Besides, the word is that it is all under control, right?"
Steve hesitated. The entire day of running around, observing the engineers in the Unit 2 reactor, suggested to him that things were anything but controlled. "Perhaps," he commented.
"Interpol forwarded a message that a terrorist cell is planning an attack against a major city in the US within a week," Garrison said changing the subject. "They want money and an apology from the US or they will carry out some kind of mass retaliation."
"Apology? What kind of apology?" Steve asked. The gravy-smothered roast beef smelled heavenly in spite of the dire topic. He cut a bite.
"That we are singularly responsible for all the world's ills - we are going to force Israel to abandon Jerusalem - we are going to turn over six billion dollars into a Swiss bank account - all stuff we aren't going to do. The US has a long policy of not negotiating with terrorists. Kind of like you." Garrison gave a small smile.
He sighed. "Archer is a double-agent. She claims to be part of a non-nuclear-proliferation group that attempted to put a scare into the world governments by creating a bomb they were going to detonate in some harmless corner of the world. Looks like someone in the group had bigger plans."
Garrison nodded. "Our data agrees with you. The plutonium has not been located. We don't know who has it. It might be this cell group. I don't have to elaborate on what it could mean if terrorists have weapons grade plutonium." He unfolded a telegram that had been in his shirt pocket. "This came, too." He passed over the yellow message. "Sorry, Steve."
He read the message, signed off by CIA field director Marten Camp twice before it registered. Only a few words. WILLIAMS DEAD. STOP. CONDOLENCES. STOP. He felt immobile. I never would have even imagined this. It seems unreal. Just words on a piece of paper. It took all his strength to contain his emotion and lock it down. I cannot give in to the luxury of sorrow right now. I must deal with the crisis.
"Sorry, Steve," Garrison repeated, and his expression and tone conveyed his sincerity.
Steve looked up as he carefully folded the note. "Time for that later." He placed the paper in his shirt pocket, sealing his feelings behind a feeling-tight door in his mind. He would not revisit the place till much later.
Danny landed in Beirut feeling not much better about the place than the first time he had arrived. He first went to the small room where he'd been with Camp, not expecting to find the CIA operative there, but wanting to do the obvious.
The room was empty and totally devastated, much like Camp had found it two days before. The stench of old blood filled the place and stains were obvious near the couch, but whoever had met his fate there was gone. Danny carefully moved about the room, the Taurus pistol in hand, stepping over broken furniture and china. In the back corner, he flipped the mattress and stuck his hand in the pocket beneath, mildly surprised to find his snubnose still there.
"Come to Papa," he muttered checking it and finding it loaded. Small miracles still happen. He placed the Taurus in his belt and kept the snubnose in hand. The small room revealed nothing more. He stepped outside into the alleyway and noticed a movement as someone darted around a corner. He made the turn in three steps and was facing a blind alley. Sliding along the wall, he listened and watched for anything. He heard someone exhale close at hand. He spun into the shadow made by a pile of debris from a crumpled wall and was pointing the business end of his gun into the face of a small boy.
The child took the opportunity and started to run, but Danny grabbed him firmly. "Do you speak English?"
The frightened child nodded quickly. "Little."
"Why were you watching me?"
He froze in fear.
"I won't hurt you. Tell me - why were you watching? Who sent you?" His grip tightened.
"A man supposed to come back," the boy replied, eyes wide.
"Okay. I have come back."
He seemed unsure.
"Who wants to know?" Danny insisted, clearly attempting to intimidate. Right now there was no time to be gentle. Anyone - even Camp - could walk in on them.
The child shivered slightly. "Come with me. I take you."
Danny half wondered if this was Camp's way of getting them back together. Does Camp expect me to come back here? He said he was going to Libya. This is Lebanon. Well, they both start with L. As risky as following this child was, it seemed like the only obvious choice at the moment. "Tell me the name first." Danny held out a stick of gum.
The boy seemed unimpressed by the gesture. "You supposed to come."
Finally yielding, Danny nodded and straightened. "Okay. Show me."
The boy scampered off and keeping up with him was a challenge. Danny's shoulder wound was hindering him and he was tired and hot, but drove himself to stay close. The route led through several back neighborhoods until they came to a relatively undamaged part of the city. The boy stopped before a small stucco home that seemed innocent enough. There were small flowers in a box beside the door and a child's ball by the front door. Danny glanced down at his young guide. "In there?"
He nodded and pointed.
Danny approached the door with great caution, gun at his side in his hand. This doesn't seem like a place Camp would come to - but maybe that is why it is most logical. The door was unlocked. He unlatched it and let it gently swing open on its own. There were two wooden chairs with blankets thrown over them and a spotless carpet on the floor. An arched doorway led to a kitchen beyond. There seemed to be no one here. Gun extended, he entered the room, closing the door behind him and waited for his eyes to adjust to the lower light.
"Put your gun away," ordered a woman's heavily accented voice.
He looked around, seeing no one.
"Put your gun away or I shoot you."
He carefully slid the gun into his belt and half raised his hands. "I'm not here to hurt you," he called out. Great, Camp has found another woman to abuse.
The woman stepped out from the shadow, an Israeli made Uzzi in her hands.
Impressed by the magnitude of her firepower, Danny quickly decided to sound respectful. "The boy said you wanted to see me."
"You come back," she said although they had never met.
"Yes," he confirmed. "What did you want?"
"You have money?" she demanded.
He scowled. "Money for what?"
She lifted the rapid-fire weapon slightly. "I waited. I take big risks, but I waited. I want to go, me and my children, to United States. You take me there."
He blinked. "Money and a ticket out of here, huh? I can do that. What do I get."
She called out a command in Arabic and the boy who had led Danny here appeared with a small girl of about seven, carrying a small silver fire-proof suitcase between them.
For an instant Danny thought he might faint. He lowered his hands in shock. Just like that? There are people killing each other all over this planet over this plutonium and it's in this tiny Lebanon hut guarded by two elementary school children? "My God." He uttered. Camp must be near by. "Okay. You need to get out of here," he commented to the armed mother.
"You take me to America," she answered. "My husband die - he died for this."
"Your husband?" He could not imagine Mounir having a wife and children in this poverty. "Mounir?"
She spat on the ground at the mention of Mounir's name. "Abjar. He wanted to take us away. He said there were many people who wanted this box. They all fight amongst themselves - then no one comes. Abjar is killed by them. But the box is still here. I knew someone would come back."
"Okay. I will get you money and get you out of here. I'm just not sure exactly how." If I contact Camp he might kill them, but I don't have the money and I don't have the credentials to get them to safety. "I need a phone."
She still had the Uzzi pointed at him and licked her lips, indecision on her face.
"You can trust me. I will see to it that you are kept safe. But I have to reach my people. Do you understand?"
"I go with you. No tricks now."
"No tricks," he murmured.
She seemed to know where there was a working payphone and within ten minutes, Danny was standing in a painfully public square gripping the phone receiver in his hand as he punched in the codes. The line rang several times before the recording clicked on. Camp's recorded voice said to leave a message.
"I have the package, but need to pay for it. Meet us in the airport in Beirut 10 o'clock tonight." He hung up. That is likely to get his attention. And I have eight hours to figure out what happens next.
"You need to believe me," Bob insisted to Steve and Garrison.
"So far I haven't found much reason to believe anything you have told me," Steve snapped. "You've lied from the beginning, killed one man, stolen top classified documents from the government."
"We did not do this," she answered hotly. "This is what we were trying to stop." She glanced over a Garrison.
"Did your people sabotage this facility? Is someone here in your bunch?" Steve demanded.
"At the risk of half a million people?" Garrison murmured. "The government is going to claim this is equipment and or operator error - is that the truth?"
"To what end?" Bob shot back. "We have already failed in our mission. Maybe this is God's way of providing the wake up call instead."
"God?" Steve gave an incredulous look. "You mean to tell me you think you recruited God into your team? A little advanced, don't you think?"
"This is co-incidence," she insisted. "We had nothing to do with this."
Garrison spoke. "We already know a terrorist group has threatened to detonate a bomb somewhere in the US."
Bob stared at him. "They what?"
He nodded. "Apparently someone in your little group had different connections. We've got dead operatives from one end of this planet to the other searching for that weapons grade plutonium. So apparently nobody has it. Now maybe our terrorists have gone for backup plan B. and if they managed a meltdown that nukes half the northeast, that isn't a bad thing either. I would suggest, Ms. Archer, that you start giving us a detailed list of every name you know of in this anti-nuke group so Interpol and Intelligence can move on this quickly."
"Malfunction," she declared. " stinking dial valve malfunction - and a bunch of people who made the wrong guess."
Garrison crossed his arms. "You can tell the media that story. You don't expect us to buy into it, do you? Even if it is true, we still have terrorists scrambling for this missing plutonium. People in your little nature-lover bunch are involved. You're going to give us names right now."
She put a hand on her hip. "Amnesty. I want amnesty."
Steve smirked. "How about we just keep them from putting you before a firing squad."
"Amnesty or nothing," she repeated.
"And so much for your lofty ideals of peace for the world," Steve snapped. "As long as there is something in it for you. You are no different than the terrorists and you don't deserve any better." He drew his gun. "The list or I'll kill you."
"McGarrett," Garrison muttered.
She grinned. "Empty threats don't become you, McGarrett."
He cocked the trigger, his look cold as steel. "You are correct. Would you like to see how empty it is?"
A look of fear was collecting in her eyes. She glanced from Garrison to McGarrett. "You wouldn't - who will give you that list if I'm dead - Garrison, you wouldn't let him "
"The only value you are to us is that list," Garrison commented. "We sure as hell aren't going to let you walk away from here."
She paused. "What do you offer?"
Steve gave a small smile. "A little more diplomatic, huh? Like I said, we'll keep you away from a firing squad. Who knows? In a couple of years someone may decide your actions were heroic. You can write a book from prison, living off the tax payers."
Her expression revealed she did not much like the offer, but she sat down before the paper, pen in hand as Garrison picked up the phone with a scrambler on it.
Marten Camp arrived in the airport early. The short message on his phone had surprised him a little - mostly that after all the false leads, the plutonium had been in Beirut all the time. He'd chased an operative of Mounir's across Libya for over a day before finding out the man had been dead a week. Whoever had been setting these decoys knew well how the system worked. In the back of his mind he had hoped when he removed Danny from the play list he would have been freeing him up to move with less attention. Confident that Williams would find ways to overcome the obstacles, he had been satisfied with the accomplishment.
The airport was nearly empty except for the marine armed guards that stood carefully placed around at sentry points. A few Beirut business men sat waiting for the next flight out. Two small children, seeming very out of place were rolling a ball back and forth in a corner. His attention remained on them. Gradually, he began to work his way in their direction. A woman in western dress exited the ladies room close by and called to them. They picked up their ball and ran towards her.
Camp stopped his movement. Maybe they were another distraction. Maybe nothing. It was only nine o'clock. He decided to make a stop in the rest room. Cautious about everything, he kept his hand inside his jacket as he carefully inspected each stall before moving towards the urinal. It would never do to be literally caught with his pants down.
It wasn't until he began to relieve himself that he felt the nudge at his back and heard the unmistakable click of the cock of a pistol. He felt a rush of regret. Of all the millions of ways I anticipated my death, to be standing in the john with both hands on my dick was not one of them. "What do you want?" he asked quietly.
Dan Williams could feel every nerve and cell within him trembling and urging him to just tighten up on the trigger. "Don't move. Do not turn." I have rarely wanted to kill someone more.
Camp instantly identified Danny's voice with a flash of relief, but quickly concluded that he was not safe, but a moment of bravado might buy him a little time. "You've gotten better. And here I thought you might be sloppy having been out of the field all these years. You understood why I had to shoot you right? I needed your credibility with Uain. Nothing personal, Danny."
Danny did not reply. He lifted to gun to just behind Camp's right ear, physically shaking in attempts to control the desire to obliterate the man before him.
"Can I zip my fly?" Camp asked sarcastically.
"Tell me about the Lion and the Lamb," Danny muttered.
"Ha," he said quietly. "Biblical context. The future world peace where the lion shall lay down with the lamb. Kind of obvious when you have the right pieces."
"How many other pieces did you decide not to tell me?" he asked.
Camp began to turn, but checked the action when the gun barrel touched the back of his head. "What the hell, Williams. This has all been on a need to know. The service has always operated that way. You should know that by now."
"You shot me, you horribly maimed an old man who has died from his injuries by now. You killed how many people?"
Camp shrugged and tried to sound cavalier. "What it took, right? I told you that I would do whatever it took. It is all about efficiency and the mission." He pursed his lips. "I am a patriot, loyal to what ever my country asks of me." He paused. "Are you still loyal?"
He gritted his teeth. "I don't know what I am," he answered truthfully.
"It isn't that hard. We follow orders. We complete the mission."
"It's not so black and white."
"Why? Because a few people got hurt? They weren't innocents, Danny. They are the enemy. All of them. Men. Women. Children. The enemy of your country," Camp's voice was getting harder. "It is about the mission. It is always about the mission."
"It wasn't to kill without remorse," Danny argued.
"Remorse. Look at yourself, Danny. We aren't so different you know. You cannot tell me that you have not felt the awe, the wonder that comes when you take a life. The power."
He gritted his teeth. How could someone take pleasure in .
Camp dared to give a small snicker. "You are enjoying this moment, aren't you? Just trembling in anticipation of what - plastering the walls with my brains?" He gazed at the shining green tile squares. "Of taking vengeance. So, what's stopping you? Do it."
Camp egging him on seemed to add to the madness. Danny could feel the sweat of his palm against the grip of the snubnose. Is there some kind of pleasure in this? How could there be? It isn't moral. It isn't ethical. It isn't right - but standing here, that desire to even the score with Camp - yes, there is a sense of satisfaction, of justification. "I am not like you."
"I am what you would be without your overactive conscience. I wouldn't have hesitated to pull the trigger a few moments ago."
"Then that is all the difference," Danny remarked. Does it take more courage to kill him or let him live? Is the enormity of this emotion because I won't or because I can't?
Marten was mentally racing through options to stay alive - although he was beginning to believe Williams wasn't really going to kill him. It's what made him useless to me years ago. A bleeding heart. He thinks too much. Too much self control. "Well, either kill me or don't. Either way there is a mission to complete. Remember?"
For all the horror he has brought, all the pain - he isn't a patriot, he's all about what works for Marten Camp. He feeds off that power to kill. He has to do it. He's no better than those psycho serial killers, but he gets the blessing of the US government. He again tightened his grip again on the gun. But I need him alive right now. He can do something I cannot. But I can make him do it. "There is a woman and two children out there."
Camp relaxed a little internally. Good, I have value. He is going to try to use me. I can turn that against him. I will get him. And I won't worry about hesitating. "I saw them."
"Give them the money - all of it - and get them past the red tape and onto a plane out of here."
"Okay," Camp agreed, "we'll work on that."
"Now. Tonight. You get the plutonium once they are airborne."
Camp grinned quietly. "I guess you're still the bleeding heart after all. Sure." He felt the gun pulled away from his ear. So this is all about getting those civilians out of here. Just like Danny. More relaxed he started to turn.
"Freeze. You don't move till I'm gone or I'll blow you head off," Danny muttered in deadly tone.
Camp obeyed, knowing full well his former partner in spite of his reluctance up to this moment would do just as he said on the slightest provocation. "Williams, I get the definite impression you aren't coming with me. If I don't end up with that plutonium, you are a dead man. You will be a traitor - no country - no home - and I will hunt you to the end." He knew Danny had stepped away. Although there was not a sound, he was certain Danny had left. He remained in position several minutes longer, mildly annoyed with himself at permitting Danny to catch him, but also pleased with himself - after all, I trained him. I will use him again.
Forty five minutes later, Camp was accompanying Abjar's wife and children to the jetway that led to the 747 that would take them to their new freedom in Boston. As they prepared to go, she turned and handed Camp a slip of paper. "What you want," she said and they were gone.
He looked at the note written in Williams' handwriting. The case was in a locker on the north side of the airport - the key under a potted plant. That sounds remarkably insecure, he thought hotly and hurried towards the end of the almost empty terminal. Minutes later he was inserting the key into the locker and breathed a sigh as he sat the fire-proof box inside. He slid it out and headed out of the terminal without checking the contents. Once in his car, he opened the case.
"Damn." The foam rubber slot for the lead coated vial was empty.
End part 8