The Soul That Perishes
The air was cold which was a little surprising in a tropic jungle until one recalled they were above 6,000 feet. They were all shivering and huddled close around the small fire that had been built beneath the shadow of the carcass of the shattered plane. Pedro moved amongst the wounded frequently. There were no bandages, no water, no food and no pain relievers. Delores had succumbed shortly after sunset.
Pedro hunched before the small fire now, running his hands through his dark hair. "There is nothing I can do for them," he murmured. "I just watch them die. I rescued them from death in the plane to watch them suffer a slower tormented death now."
"You are offering them all the comfort you can," Catava said gently.
"But they still die," Pedro replied shaking his head. "Such a waste."
"And if our American policemen are right, this was intentional," Carlos interrupted.
"We are pretty certain about the bullet holes," Steve replied.
"So we must try to enable a rescue party to find us while hiding from assassins," Carlos commented. "And I am of no use to you, Catava! I cannot protect you."
Catava patted Carlos' arm. "Things are as they are, Carlos. It is a waste of time to concern yourself with the things we cannot change."
"We must have a plan," Carlos persisted, staring blindly into the warmth of the fire. "I had a weapon. Is it with us?"
"Unfortunately, no," Steve answered. "It must have been lost in the front half of the plane."
"We have two handguns, six rounds each against militants with high-powered automatic rifles?" Carlos said shaking his head. "Father Pedro, we will need your prayers."
"And you will have them," Pedro replied.
Danny rose and walked towards the burned out cavity of the back half of the plane. The fires were now out, but the darkness contained thirty or so smoldering corpses and no one had expressed interest in hiding within the plane itself. Yet that remained the most likely plan of action - other than taking to the jungle.
Steve walked over to him. "Any ideas? You are, after all, the survivalist of the group."
He slowly shook his head. "We could forge some weapons, spears and such but if the opposition has sniper scopes they don't have to get within two hundred yards of us. We might try to find our way out of here or someone should go for help."
Steve sighed. "It may come to that, but not just yet. Maybe a search team will get here first. None of us knows the terrain."
Danny walked away to a stand of trees and broke off a few thin branches. Using his small penknife, he began to whittle sharp tips onto the sticks. This isn't really going to help us, but it gives me something to do besides walking amongst the dying. He glanced at Pedro who was kneeling before another of the victims and praying with him. Maybe that priest is made of stronger stuff than I am.
The baby began to cry again. Juan, a man with two broken legs accepted the child from Pedro and placed his smallest finger into the corner of the baby's mouth. Esteban began to suck on it. Pedro gave an approving nod and moved back to the other passenger who was asking for last rites.
"We need to try to get some sleep," Steve remarked. "It's about all we can do to help ourselves right now. Can you take the first watch?"
Danny squatted down and began poking his penknife around the base of a tree.
"Did you find something?" Steve asked, crouching down in mild curiosity.
Danny glanced at him. "First rule of survival - have food, water, shelter and fire."
Steve gave a thin smile. "We've got the fire."
Danny jabbed the knife into a root and drew it back, a two inch grub impaled on the tip of the blade. "We've got them all." He extended the larva still thrashing on the knife towards Steve. "Bon appetite."
McGarrett made no motion. If I act disgusted he wins. But I'm not hungry enough to eat an insect - yet.
Danny shrugged and popped the grub into his mouth. The exoskeleton crunched faintly and he chewed then swallowed.
"Nice demonstration," Steve remarked, "but I don't think it will answer our problems. So how did you make it out of the jungle last time?"
Danny shook his head. "Last time was in Mexico and I had a bigger knife. I was also dressed for the occasion and had an armed partner. There is not much in common with the last time. But the jungle has food, there are aqua de sipio trees here that contain water, we can build shelter if we must - but we haven't got the tools. One machete could make the difference in our survival. I don't think we can get those people out. Most of them cannot walk. And we have the baby. He could be noisy."
Steve gave a nod. "I'm going to recommend Pedro hide in the plane with the survivors once it cools down. You and I and Catava will hike out. At least if there are people after him, they'll be following us away from the survivors."
Danny kept working on his stick. "You think Catava's bodyguard will let us leave him behind?"
"I'm not offering him a choice," Steve snapped. He rubbed a hand over his aching brow.
"I'm not so sure you should be running through the jungle either," Danny added.
"I can take care of myself," Steve snapped a little harshly. How dare he suggest I am weak. He reminded himself that Williams was trying to be practical. "Let's get back to the others." He steadied himself against a tree trunk as he rose.
Danny did not miss the action. "You okay?" He realized almost instantly that McGarrett probably had not appreciated the comment. "Why don't you check on the others, I'll be back in a few minutes."
"What will you be doing?" Steve almost demanded.
He raised the pointed stick he'd created earlier. "Find something better than grubs for you to eat."
Steve walked back around the still smoldering aircraft to where Pedro was ministering to the wounded. "Father, how are they," he asked formally.
"Call me Pedro, please," the young man answered. He wrapped a bandage he'd made from a shirt around a man who was burned. "I took what I could find from the luggage that was thrown from the plane. We have some bandages to help."
Steve nodded and slowly sat down next to the small fire. "How are they?" he repeated his question.
"Dolores, rest her soul is gone," Pedro told him quietly. "Phillippi has bleeding internally I think. He has bad stomach pains. His abdomen is very hard." He motioned to the thirty year old man who lay clutching his abdomen attempting not to moan. "Carlos," he motioned to the man next to him, "cannot see. He is otherwise able. Don seems to be in a coma. He cannot be aroused. There is bleeding from his ears, so I think that's very bad. Mantalvo has a broken leg and I think his back is injured. He cannot stand. Tomas is burned almost as badly as Dolores was. Raphael has a broken arm, his neck hurts but he can be of help. Juan broke both his legs," he motioned towards the man still trying to comfort the baby. "Catava is all right except for a broken arm. You have a bad cut on your head. Danny and I seem to be without injury. And there is, of course, Esteban."
"Esteban," Steve murmured glancing at the baby. What a mess of complications this small group is. "If we assume there are rebels who shot down the plane," he said quietly. " they'll come back and they will be after Catava. Most of these people cannot move let alone travel through the jungle. Tomorrow Danny, Catava and I will go for help. You stay here with the wounded."
Pedro's eyes widened a little. "You're not serious. It would be very easy to be lost in the jungle and never be found. There are all kinds of dangers that you know nothing about."
"You have a better idea? Shall we all just stay here and await the rebels who will shoot us all? We have only twelve shots, Pedro. Twelve. If Catava is not here when they come, they may leave you alone. You can let them think he died in the plane. No one could determine an identity of those bodies. And how many of these people can wait for help for several days?" Steve looked away from him. Why am I trying to reason with him? He's a priest; he doesn't have a clue about the real world.
Pedro looked down at the ground. There was nothing he could say to argue with the tall urban policeman, but he wished there was. He felt helpless just sitting by and waiting for these poor souls to die. "I received The Call when I was a boy," he murmured. "God told me I would save people from the fires of hell." He gave a soft smile and glanced at McGarrett. "I never saved any one - till today. Snatched them from the flames of this earthly hell - only to have them die now."
McGarrett's gaze met the dark eyes of young priest. He did not have much use for religion, but tried to hold respect for those of the cloth, although he suspected most of them fleeced their flocks regularly. So is he going to give me the preaching line now? Is he going to suggest that God will swoop out of heaven and miraculously rescue us? What a plan to absolve us from responsibility for ourselves. Maybe young Pedro here is still idealistic and hasn't learned that there is no charity on earth, good is done plotting something in return be it donations, reverence or misplaced trust. Always an angle. How does someone as sincere as Pedro turn into Steve's thoughts were blessedly interrupted by a movement in the brush. Instantly his gun was out, his body tense and alert.
Danny parted the leaves and stepped into the clearing, unconcerned that Steve's gun was pointed at him. "I made a trip to the local grocery," he remarked. On the end of the sharp stick were three small rodents, each about a pound in weight.
"What are those?" Pedro asked.
"Paca," Danny replied. He stooped near the fire, pulling the animals from the stick and started the skinning process with the rapidly dulling penknife.
"Look like rats," Steve commented.
Danny grinned. "They are. Got a knife? Good, help me do this."
There were no complaints from those able to eat regarding the fare of the few bites of meal. There was not much meat on the small animals, but anything was welcome. Pedro tried to pulverize a small amount and feed it to Esteban, but had little success. The infant had no teeth and knew nothing except sucking. "This baby needs milk," Pedro stated. "Maybe you should take him with you when you go in the morning."
Steve did not reply. "We need a watch tonight. Who is able to stand a two hour shift?"
"I will," Carlos declared. "I cannot see, but my ears are like those of a bat."
"How about you and the padre here?" Steve suggested. "First watch. Danny, you and Catava take the second. Raphael and I will do that last." He placed his gun into Carlos' hands. Danny held his out to Pedro who gasped and refused the weapon.
"Take it, Pedro," Steve snapped. "The rest of us need to try to get a little rest."
"Some rest," Danny muttered. "That baby will cry all night."
Juan seemed to have taken it on himself to care for Esteban as much as the pain from his broken bones would permit. He spoke no English but Pedro informed Steve and Danny that Juan and his wife had a young set of twins at home. He was accustomed to infant care. They did what they could to swaddle Esteban in clothing recovered from the crash in hopes that it would settle him and keep him warm. Those able to move about used what they could find to provide comfort and warmth to those who were immobile. The ground was hard, the air cold and the baby cried periodically. No one could sleep well.
By the time Steve estimated it was time for his shift, he had slept only in small naps. He found Pedro kneeling by Tomas, holding his hand and whispering prayers with him. Even unable to speak Spanish, Steve could identify prayer even in Spanish. "Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia, el Señor es contigo, bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres, y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús. Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén," Pedro's gentle tenor voice carried through the group, the carnage amongst them and the jungle.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen, Steve's mind ran through the liturgy from childhood that no longer meant comfort to him. He hunched close to the small fire, trying to gather warmth and listening to the natural sounds of the night. The jungle was never silent and he could only recognize a little of the night music around them. He wondered about jaguars and snakes.
Pedro came over and sat down beside him. "Tomas is dead," he declared quietly.
Steve nodded. "I'm sorry, Fa - Pedro."
Pedro held his hands out for the warmth of the flame. "I feel so useless."
"You are probably accomplishing more than anyone else here. Your presence and comfort means a lot to them," Steve replied. "Why don't you get some rest?"
He shook his head. "I can't. There is no time for sleep." He sighed and glanced at the darkness around them. "Time for sleep enough when this is done."
Steve nodded. How often have I had that thought during a difficult case. He placed another small stick on the fire. There was silence for some time.
Finally Pedro muttered. "Funny, my mother did not want me to be a priest."
Steve did not answer.
"She wanted me to be a cop."
He gave a thin smile. Am I going to hear his life story? Ah well, there is nothing else to do. "My mother wished me to be a priest," he answered.
Pedro chuckled. "The problem with being a priest is that people always know who you are by your dress, even if they do not know you by name. They watch you. You cannot make mistakes, you are supposed to be God to them. You are held to a higher standard that is very difficult to meet."
Steve was silent, contemplating the difficult life of law enforcement where an officer was known by his uniform. A mistake could result in allegations that burned through the media and crucified a police officer before the truth was ever heard. A higher standard, to uphold the law - to play God.
"You have a family?" Pedro asked, rubbing his hands.
"A sister," he replied, trying to maintain his detachment. What is Maryann going through right now?
"I have two sisters, a mother. Two brothers both dead. One died when I was very young. My other brother, Manuel was killed when he attempted to stop a man from beating his wife. He was seventeen at the time." He stopped. "Mama wanted vengeance and wished for me to become a lawman. But vengeance belongs to the Lord. When I was still in Florida I would go to the prison to serve communion to my brother's killer."
The crackling of the
fire was the only sound for some time as Steve considered the irony of
the young priest. He recalled the living small living room in Virginia,
the framed photo of his father in uniform, the folded American flag and
the day he told his mother he was going to serve in law enforcement and
take the vengeance denied him in his father's murder by ensuring the law
would be served as long as he carried a badge. It had been an ideal -
the law could never be perfectly served and judgments were rarely infallible.
And vengeance had never really quite been satisfied.
Susie, Chin's adolescent daughter, flushed with shock. The governor is standing at my house! Oh my goodness! Trying desperately to look nonchalant, she stepped back from the door. "I'll get him," she announced and literally ran to the back yard where Chin was cutting the grass.
Chin hurried to the door, wiping the sweat on a rag. What has happened that was too important to call about? Does Jameson just drop in on Steve like this? "Good evening, Governor," he said, also trying to hide his surprise at the governor's presence. "I'm sorry for my appearance I was cutting the-"
Jameson waved his concerns aside. "Chin, we need to talk."
Chin graciously showed Jameson to the couch, aware that eight young pairs of eyes were watching from around the corner. "I would have come to your office," Chin commented in mild embarrassment as his wife appeared in the door and offered a cold drink.
"No thank you," Jameson responded to her, the slow revelation coming over him that he had never dome something like this before. The sobriety of his mission settled on his features.
Chin sat down opposite Jameson expecting to hear of some unusual event that had happened in Honolulu that would require the skills of Five-0. He had prayed that things would stay routine while Steve and Danny were gone. He wondered if the peace of the last four days was about to end. At least Steve is due back tomorrow.
Jameson rubbed his hands together. "Chin this is very difficult to tell you "
Chin blinked. This sounds more like visits officers make to tell families a loved one has died. Fear suddenly gripped his heart.
"The plane from Bogata - it's missing - disappeared from radar over the Andes."
Chin sat frozen, openmouthed. What was being said was beyond believing. "Missing?" he managed to murmur. "Steve and Danny?"
Jameson, his own pain etched across his face, gave a slow shake of his head. "I don't know. It disappeared round noon their time. There are teams looking, but the Colombian search and rescue isn't certain about where they were."
Chin had done the quick math of time zones in his head. "Twelve hours ago," he murmured. "It has already been twelve hours." He uselessly contemplated that twelve hours ago he had been taking his morning shower. Could two of the closest people to me died while I was taking a shower? He glanced over at his wife, standing in the doorway, a hand pressed to her lips. "What of Steve's sister and Clara Williams?"
"I have sent messages to them," Jameson offered. "Right now all we can do is wait."
Chin stared down at his hands. Is that really all I can do? Must I stay here and attempt to run this department? The memory of his first meeting with Steve flashed before him. Steve was still active in the Navy and wore his officer's uniform, but there had be a trustworthiness about him that was unusual. He looked you in the eye. He had been devoted to the welfare of Hawaiians, not just the rich landowners. He is godfather to my youngest. And Danny that little boy Clara used to dote on until he ran away from home three times before he was ten. He always came here. Not to Andy and not to the Morgans. He always came here. He is like one of my own children. "I need to go to Colombia," he said quietly.
"Chin, there really isn't anything-" Jameson started.
Chin looked up, a fire in his eyes. "I have to do this. MaryAnn and Clara won't be willing to sit at home and wait - neither am I. Unless you feel the department must stay manned-"
"No, I - I'm sure that Kono can handle it. I can request HPD send Ben Kokua and Duke Lukella to help him. But-" Jameson stopped. I wish I was going myself. "-I'll see you are on the next flight to Bogata."
Esteban was crying again without consolation.
Danny rose from where he was huddled under a tree and walked over to where Esteban wriggled on Juan's lap. Juan had made no motion to care for the boy since his crying had started several minutes before. Williams squatted down before the man and touched the pale skin. It was cold. He picked up the baby, who quieted immediately, hopeful for attention. Danny placed his right hand over Juan's half-open eyes and gently closed the eyelids.
"Danny?" Pedro asked, noting the action.
"He's dead, Father," Danny commented, turning away from Juan.
Pedro blinked in shock. "It was just his legs."
"Shock. He died during the night from the shock," Danny said quietly, registering little emotion about the event. He handed the baby over to Pedro.
Still stunned, Pedro settled Esteban on his shoulder and patted the baby's back.
Danny, knowing he should find something kind to say, but uncertain of what it was, added softly, "He probably died in his sleep - maybe." He turned and walked over to McGarrett. "You okay this morning?"
McGarrett rose from the fire, stretching out his aching legs. "Wake up Catava. We'd better be moving."
Pedro spun towards him. "You are really going to try to hike out of the jungle?"
"Yes, we really are," Steve replied emphatically.
Danny crossed over towards Catava, noting the other survivors as he went. Raphael was already awake and Carlos sat at near attention, the small .38 still clutched in his hands, his sightless eyes seeking for alien sounds. Danny supposed the bodyguard had been awake all night. Phillippi, the man with internal injuries lay motionless next to the last survivor, Don, who had never yet regained consciousness. Catava lay curled on his side on the ground next to Carlos asleep. Danny bent down and touched his shoulder.
Catava startled awake immediately.
"McGarrett, you and I will hike out of here for help this morning if you are up to it," Danny declared.
Catava did not hesitate. "Of course."
Carlos also started to rise.
"At ease, Carlos," Danny remarked. "Not you."
Carlos' English was limited, but he understood enough to know he was to be parted from the man he had sworn to protect. He began to protest.
Both Catava and Pedro began to reason with him in Spanish, first addressing the obvious problem of Carlos' vision, then the importance of speed. When Carlos still did not yield, Catava declared loudly: "Usted no trabaja para mí más."
Stunned, Carlos blinked once, then said nothing.
"That was effective. What did he say?" Steve muttered.
"He fired him," Danny remarked.
Steve gave a single nod, deciding to keep that tactic for some future time. He glanced around. "Leave one weapon here." He pointed to the gun in Carlos' lap. "But you get it." He gestured to Raphael.
The man nodded and quickly took the weapon. Carlos offered no protest.
"Father, I'd recommend getting everyone out of the open - maybe into the plane. If the rebels who shot the plane down get here first, maybe they won't find you. If they do, try to convince them Catava's dead."
"I realize you have an oath about falsehoods," Steve hasted to add, "but if rebels think you are lying, they will start killing everyone alive trying to get someone to tell them where he is. So try to be convincing." He stuck his own pistol into his belt. "Danno?"
He nodded. "Let's go." He knew that this first step was crucial. To head off in the wrong direction was be certain death for them all, yet there was no way to determine beyond doubt which way to go. The best choice was to act like he knew, so he did.
Steve followed, placing Catava between them, strongly suspicious that Danny did not really know where they were going, but he admired the junior detective for not betraying that to them. At least we can maintain the façade of hope.
Chin Ho Kelley had been to the Far East several times. He'd seen San Francisco on a dozen or so occasions and even New York once. He had never seen South America. He wondered if the impressions provided by B rated movies would be of any help. If they were no more accurate than American movie depictions of Asians, played by made-up Caucasians with fake epicanthic eyelids, he suspected these renditions to be totally useless. The lighting aboard the flight was subdued, encouraging passengers to sleep. The Boeing 707 had left Honolulu just before 10PM and was now passing over Los Angeles after five hours - having picked up two hours by crossing time zones. He gazed out of the plexi-glass portal at the lights of Los Angeles in the distance. The dawn was just starting to pinken the sky beyond the low mountains to the east. Moments later, the black night and the ocean were left behind as the plane raced towards the rising sun and the Sierra Madres were visible briefly before cloud cover shielded the earth from view.
The stewardess passed quietly down the isle gently offering travelers a light breakfast. People began moving sleepily through the cabin, most of them used to the exhaustion of time change in flight. It seemed just a short time later the stewardess again made her trip down the isle, this time advising passengers that they would be arriving in Houston shortly and they needed to go to their seats. As she passed Chin, the seatbelt line blinked melodically on. "Your seatbelt, Sir, we are preparing to land," she said out of habit, but his was already in place.
Chin exited the jet ramp into the terminal, glancing at his watch and took a moment to adjust the time from 6:00AM to 10:00AM. He had seven hours before his flight on to Bogata. He was stiff and anxious. Aside from a brief nap of exhaustion, he had not slept. He stepped into a small coffee shop, ordered a large hot tea that the service person seemed to have trouble providing, and a Danish. I need to be strong. I know Clara Williams and she is a tough old cookie, but this is her child. It will be different. I have never met Steve's sister. I know she is a newly-wed and her husband's name is Tom Whalen. If she's of the stuff her older brother is, she'll also be pretty tough. But these are both women - it is my duty to protect and support them. And is there a chance Steve and Danny survived? I suppose there is always a chance. There's no one I'd more expect to get out of an inescapable situation than either one of them and together - if it can be done, they'll do it.
No words had passed amongst the three men as they made their way single file, Danny first, then Catava and Steve last. The sun was up and as cool as the night before had been, the jungle was now a sauna. The humid moisture and sweat caused the fabric of their clothing to stick to their skin and perspiration dripped from their faces and arms. Hunger and the unspoken nagging suspicion that they might be headed in the wrong direction dampened their spirits just as much. After three hours, they paused to rest.
Steve's head hurt more than he wished. With each throbbing beat of his heart, the pain created spots before his eyes and the sweat had caused the deep gash to begin to weep serous fluid down his cheek. Catava's broken arm was severely swollen and they unwrapped, and rewrapped the splint to provide better circulation.
As they sat down to rest McGarrett gazed upward towards the thick canopy of leaves. "Can't get a bearing on the sun," he remarked. "Too dense."
Danny turned his attention upwards and nodded. "Hard to know."
"If this is the valley I think, we must keep the mountains to the right and left, the afternoon sun to the left," Catava murmured. "We keep going down and come to Magdajeno Rio. Grande - big river. Hard to miss."
"Hard to miss, huh?" Steve muttered exchanging looks with Williams.
"And assuming we're in the Valle del Magdalena," Danny commented. He wiped sweat from his forehead onto his sleeve.
Steve watched a small bright green lizard scamper up the tree and disappear above them. "We need to find the sun." He got to his feet. "I'll climb up there and see what I can find."
"I'll do it," Danny offered. "Your head-"
McGarrett cut him off. "I said I'd do it." I should let him do it. Maybe that's why I want to do this. He's been acting like I need protecting. I am in charger here. I need to do this to remind Catava if not Danny. He handed Danny his pistol.
Danny wrinkled his brow. "Are you sure?"
Ego mildly bruised, Steve turned his back. His height was helpful as he could easily grasp the lowest branches and pull himself up into the tree. He began the a slow ascent. The climb was harder and more exhausting that he had anticipated, but he was determined to give no sign of his weariness.
The foliage was thick and in just a matter of moments, the tree's leaves and branches had blocked Steve from view. Danny turned towards Catava, about speak, but there was the sudden sound of squealing monkeys in the treetops and footsteps approaching. Catava needed no prompting to duck into the heavy underbrush with Danny.
As the sounds of people escalated, Danny gripped Steve's pistol, hoping they would not need it anxiously hoping it would be a search party.
A noisy group of crudely dressed Colombian men appeared through the brush laughing and joking amongst themselves. This small clearing that had been inviting to Steve and his group was also attractive to them. The eight men paused, milled around together and shared a drink from a canteen between them. They chatted noisily in Spanish, poking and jostling each other.
Danny glanced at Catava who frowned and shook his head, fear in his eyes.
Danny knew these guys were not good news. Are they looking for us? For the plane? Did they just happen to wander in here? This is a pretty big jungle, could anything just happen by accident?
Several of the men plopped down on the ground, again sharing the canteen. The one in charge, obvious by his spread legged stance, hand on hip, and automatic rifle shouted angrily at them.
One gave a weary wave of the hand, refusing to move.
He shouted again, more angrily. When the tired men again refused, he fired the rifle, the automatic setting sending twenty-five rounds up into the trees.
Steve had also heard the approach and now as bullets and whizzing up around him, he crouched against the tree, hoping to avoid being hit.
Danny winced in alarm, aware there was nothing he could do and hoping Steve would find a way to stay hidden.
The leader of the group shouted again, firing a second stream of ammunition upward and cursing at his men.
Steve cursed as well, grabbing hold of the tree trunk. The bullet-riddled, weakened branch beneath his feet suddenly snapped without warning. He made a valiant effort to catch himself, managed to grab hold of a second branch as he dropped which broke his fall slightly before breaking as well and he landed with a loud thud in the center of the Columbian group.
Suddenly all eight of the men were on their feet shouting angrily, waving weapons in a general scene of pandemonium.
Steve, the air knocked out of him made only one attempt to escape during the panic to find the muzzle of the leader's M16 square in his face. He glanced up and the man gave a broad, controlling smile through his cigarette.
Danny gripped the gun, fear and anger plan.
Catava winced. "Bad thing," he whispered.
The rebel leader quickly regained control of his men and motioned two of them forward. They grabbed McGarrett and dropped him unceremoniously in sitting position against the tree.
Steve was quickly trying to determine his own status - he seemed uninjured except for a few scrapes and the roaring headache the fall had not improved. What do they want? What do they already know? If Danny and Catava and smart they are already making tracks out of here.
The rebels were yelling and shouting at each other, gesturing towards him, pointing around.
Catava motioned Danny. "They going to know he's from the plane. We need to go."
Danny studied the expression on the leader's face. Of course he knows Steve's from the plane where else would he be from? "We're getting him back, Catava," he muttered hotly, "I won't leave him."
"This our chance. They will start looking for us any minute," Catava whispered hotly.
The rebel leader poked Steve's shoulder with the barrel of the gun and asked him a question in Spanish.
Steve looked at him blankly and did not reply.
He restated the question more angrily, jamming the gun a bit harder against Steve's chest.
"English," the Five-0 chief muttered. "I don't understand you."
That started new murmurings amongst the group. The leader gave a grin and tossed away his cigarette butt. He asked another question in Spanish.
Catava glanced at Danny. "They want to know where the plane is. He buying us time with his life, we go," Catava whispered urgently.
Danny glared at him. "I won't leave him," he replied hotly.
"You have six shots - there are eight men - with automatic rifles!" Catava whispered hotly.
Danny tried to shut out Catava's argument. He remembered how he'd been screamed at in boot camp. A young naïve eighteen year old he had attempted to rescue his partner in a training exercise.
Steve was trying to play stupid while assessing the strengths and hopefully weaknesses of his captors. The weaknesses seemed few. "American," he said quietly.
They all turned to him. "Americano?" one asked.
"Yes," Steve said more enthusiastically, "Americano. I am an American. Big government. Lots of money."
They murmured amongst themselves, glancing once again to their leader.
"Americano," the irritated leader muttered, less impressed. "De nada."
"Lots of money," Steve repeated emphatically. "You take me to the Americans. They will give you lots of money. Buy - buy a car. New gun. Lots of guns."
One of the men made a remark and a few of them giggled. The group began gesturing and arguing with their leader again.
"They want the money," Catava whispered. "He wants the plane."
Danny fingered his gun, wondering if he were to take out the one closest to Steve, could Steve grab the rifle and even the odds. He knew he needed to wait a little longer.
The leader raised a hand slightly and called for silence. The rag-tag group of men fell back in fear. He spoke to Steve. "Americano? You plane?" He raised his arms in a charade of the plane flying.
Steve gave no response.
The leader's expression deepened into frustrated rage. "¿Donde? Huh?" He pointed one direction, then another and another. "¿Donde?"
Steve lifted his eyebrows and gave a shrug. "I don't know. They all died. I'm lost."
The leader's smile faded to a snarl. "Plane!" he shouted more angrily waving the rifle towards his captive.
Steve shrugged helplessly.
The leader disgustedly turned his back on McGarrett and muttered. "Mátelo." He pointed to two of his men and motioned the others to follow. He called back orders to bury the body so searchers looking for the plane would not find him and headed away, the other five men behind him.
Steve did not need a translation to know what was happening, but the odds were changing. In just a moment there would be only two rebels left, each armed with an M16. Steve glanced at the two left behind knowing he had to get them to come close. "You take me to the Americans for money?" he asked hopefully, feigning simplicity.
One gave an apologetic semi-smile and shrugged. He raised his rifle.
"Hey!" Steve pulled the watch off his wrist and waved it. "Look. Swiss watch. Let me go and I'll give you the watch." Maybe they are too dumb to realize they can kill me and take the watch, too.
The second one stepped timidly closer, glanced at his partner, then lowered his weapon and reached to snatch the watch. In the same instant he reached, Steve kicked his leg out, knocking the man's feet from beneath him. The rebel dropped his gun, landed on the ground where Steve yanked him back as a shield.
The other rebel, swung his weapon up then suddenly crumbled as a single shot exploded through his right shoulder. He lost his weapon, collapsing to the ground. Steve gasped in surprise.
Danny and Catava burst into view. Steve released the unarmed rebel who staggered to his knees, begging for mercy, the watch still dangling from one hand. Catava picked up the rifle of the wounded man, shot him in the head, turned and shot the pleading one who collapsed lifeless before the other two could issue a word.
"We wanted them alive!" Danny shouted angrily.
"What, you going to take captives?" Catava snarled and handed the smoking rifle over to Steve.
"We could have made them show us the way out of here!" He declared. "That was the idea, remember? To get out of here?"
Catava waved a have. "No matter. They better off dead."
Danny turned speechless towards Steve who shook his head and handed one rifle to him. "He wanted us to leave you," Danny muttered.
"Not surprised," Steve replied and placed a hand on Danny's shoulder. "Thank you." Steve started to turn away, then remembered: "I want my damned watch back." He walked to the dead man and grabbed the watch from the limp fingers. "We need to go back to the plane."
"What?" Catava said in frustration.
"They'll be looking for the plane. They will find it," Steve answered.
"We need to get to help," Catava said stubbornly.
"And when their two partners don't show up, what then?" Steve added. "They will know I am still alive - and perhaps had help. Their leader wasn't stupid. The only chance we have right now is the element of some surprise - they don't know we are here quite yet."
Catava bit his lip uncomfortably. "And do you think they are alone? Huh? That those six dogs are all there are? Do you think we can fight the entire FARC with these?" He pointed to the pistol and rifle. "We out run them, we no follow them!"
Steve squared his jaw. "Our responsibility is to get the survivors out alive, not just YOU out alive. We need to go back for them." Catava knows who these rebels are. He did not tell us that. What else does he know about them? Now is not the time to ask.
Danny refastened the safety on the rifle. "We're better armed than before. If we get lucky we can perhaps intercept those guys before they ever get to the plane. Let's go."
The three of them headed off into the jungle at a pace about twice as fast as they had followed earlier hoping to retrace their path to the plane. They had left markers before for leading a search party back and hoped they would be enough to help them, but not clear enough to guide the rebels.
end Part 2
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