Yesterday's Lament
by Peg Keeley

Part 4

"We've got to get to them quickly!" Danny called to one of the guardsmen. He glanced back at the spy ship disappearing from sight. McGarrett and the cutter were less than three minutes away. Hopefully, they'd catch the spy ship. But the chopper's job was this rescue.

One of the guardsman, 'Shaw' it read on his jumpsuit, was already climbing into the harness and pulling the large floatation vest over it. His partner, Harris, clipped the tow line to the metal eyelet in the back of the harness. The wind buffeted the chopper as the pilot tired to hold it steady over the small boat.

Shaw gave a thumbs up and Harris started the winch running. It slowly lowered Shaw towards the water. Rain whipped around him, soaking him before he ever got to the sea. He was still fifteen feet above the surface when a wind gust caught the chopper from the underside. It tilted, careening upward. The deck tilted nearly forty-five degrees, throwing Danny and Harris off their feet on the slippery deck. The cable was jerked taunt, bouncing Shaw like a yo-yo. Unexpectedly, the cable snapped free of the harness, catching Shaw in the back of the head.

The cable shot upwards as Shaw plunged into the sea. The life vest popped the unconscious man to the surface and rolled him to his back, supporting his head out of the water as the mighty waves kept washing over him.

The pilot struggled with the bucking aircraft as it pitched back in the other direction. Danny and Harris who had both been slammed into the far wall, now skidded back across the slick deck towards the open bay door. Harris snagged into the red nylon web mesh along the wall. Danny grabbed desperately at the edge of the door was it flew by, then he was outside of the craft and dropping towards the ocean. He twisted, trying to get his feet downward and nearly made it. He was thrust down beneath the sea into inky blackness. It last only a moment; his life vest shot him upward. He broke the surface to be hit full in the face by a twenty foot wave that spun him head over heels. He surfaced again, this time gasping for breath. The chopper was sixty feet above him, the cable swaying back and forth in the gale. A wave rushed under Danny, lifting him high. In the light of the chopper's spotlight, he could see Mali's little boat rising one wave away. Shaw floated in the valley behind his wave in the other direction. He looked back up. Harris was in the bay doorway. Danny gestured that he was going after Shaw.

It took precious minutes of time to reach him. Just as he seemed almost there, a wave would lift them apart. At last, he took hold of the life vest. Shaw was alive, though still unconscious. Harris had dropped the cable low. Upon discovering the eyelet of the harness damaged beyond use, it took another few moments to get the cable under Shaw's arms and clipped it into itself. Danny gestured a go ahead and Shaw was being lifted away.

Danny was exhausted as he turned again to pinpoint the boat. With disappointment, he noted it seemed even farther away than before. The life vest that kept him afloat in the raging sea slowed his swimming. The helicopter hovering overhead added more noise to the already howling storm. Mali, hang on. I am coming. Hang on just a little longer. I can't lose my son now, not after all this.

Another gigantic wave lifted Danny high with the speed of an express elevator and Mali, clinging to her baby, papoose-wrapped in the life vest, was dropped directly below him. The wave dropped him with as much speed, lifting the boat high. Suddenly, the craft was hurtling down the side of the wave directly at him. He floundered, trying to escape the path and almost succeeded. It struck his shoulder as it roared past, Mali on deck, child in her arms, open-mouthed.

The glancing blow spun him against the side of the boat near the stern. He grasped along the smooth hull for anything to grab and his hand closed around the dangling stern line. The rope burned his fingers as he seized it. He pulled himself upward, grabbed hold of the railing of the gunwale and hauled himself over onto the deck. The floatation vest now seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. "Mali!" he yelled above the wind.

She stood there, gripping Lonnie. "Danny, help us!"

He looked down and realized that she had lashed her self to the boat with her belt. "For godssakes, get untied from the boat! If it capsizes, it'll take you with it!"

"Get Lonnie to safety!" she pleaded.

He took the small boy, still wrapped in his life vest suit, and between his vest and the child's struggled to get a good grip on him. He looked up. "Oh my God," he had just enough time to murmur. A mighty thirty foot wave was baring down on the little boat. Before he could make a motion, the craft was upended, bow first. He was slammed into the stern, still clutching Lonnie, then pitched into the sea where he was spun over and over. Danny tried desperately trying to reach the surface as the force of the wave threatened to snatch the child from his arms.

Can this baby hold his breath? Danny's own air was running out. His lungs ached for oxygen and felt like they would explode through his chest. He broke the surface and dragged great gulps of air, tainted with sea water.

He shook Lonnie, trying to see into his face, but the water surged around them making it impossible to do anything but keep the boy above the surface. Lonnie coughed twice, then let out an ear-piercing cry. Thank God! Danny tried to look around, but could not see Mali. She did not have a vest on. She won't last but a few minutes and only that if she managed to hang onto the overturned boat. It was too dark to see if she was there. There was a hiss as a brilliant red flare streaked through the rainy night and splashed onto the surface of the water. Three more followed and the blackness was pushed back by the sputtering red floating flares. The pilot dropped the chopper as low as he dared, and Harris played the cable out, this time with the loop already formed. As it dropped within arm's reach, Danny managed to get it over his head and shoulders, then up under his arms. Almost instantly, he and Lonnie were soaring skyward as the wind whipped around them and the rotor blades competed with the storm.

At the bay door, Harris hauled them inside and took Lonnie from Danny's arms.

"I've got to go back," Danny called above the din. "The girl's still down there."

"You're done in, let me go," Harris replied.

He shook his head. "Might as well keep one of us dry."

"Wear this." Harris helped Danny out of the soggy vest and then into the spare harness. Danny put the heavy vest back on over it and Harris clipped the cable into the harness.

"Have you heard from McGarrett?" Danny asked.


Aboard the cutter's bridge, Steve, also clad in a nylon jumpsuit and life vest, peered through the rain spattered window into the storm hoping for the first sign of the fleeing spy ship. It had been pinpointed on the radar was still in US territorial waters, but not for long.

"There she is!" the second mate shouted. The huge spotlights punctured the darkness and illumined the glimmering wet hull of the Chinese freighter, one hundred yards away.

The First Officer picked up the microphone to the loud speaker system. "This is the United States Coast Guard to Chinese vessel. You are in United States territorial water. Stand down and prepare to be boarded."

The ship did not slow.

"They are running for it, Sir," the radar officer commented.

"Captain on the bridge," announced a sailor as Captain Reynolds ducked in through the door, water streaming off his billed cap and dark blue slicker. "How far till they make international water?"

"Five hundred yards, sir," the man on the radar replied.

Reynolds sighed and nodded to Steve. "We can stop them, but we'd better be sure about this."

"Report from the chopper says they've killed two men and set a woman and child adrift in this storm," he replied. "And I know they were stealing military secrets."

Reynolds nodded. "They slowing at all?"

"Negative, Sir," the radar officer replied.

"Brad, drop one across their bow," the Captian commented to the First Officer.

"Yes, sir." He punched a button and an alarm sounded. "General quarters. General quarters." Guardsmen were scurrying around in the drenching rain, uncovering the deck guns. The First Officer gave orders and a moment later, a shell was accurately fired directly before the bow of the Chinese ship. In the fierce storm, it added little noise and only a bit of extra wave. The ship did not slow.

"Three hundred yards, Sir."

Reynolds sighed. "It isn't a pleasant thing to fire into a ship in a storm like this, McGarrett."

"Sir, they did fire on the helicopter," the second mate offered.

The cluster of men exchanged looks before the Captain gave a nod. "Stop them."

The First Officer spun back to the console and picked up the microphone. "Alien vessel, this is the United States Coast Guard cutter Houston. Stand down and prepare to be boarded or we will be forced to fire on your vessel. Stand down and prepare to be boarded. There will be no further warnings." He hung up the mic.
"Two hundred yards, Sir."

He looked to Reynolds one more time, then issued orders to the deck gunners. The deck cannon gave a puff as the shell fired. It lobbed directly into the aft engine and propellers of the Chinese ship. There was a moderate explosion and a fire started that quickly spread. The cutter pulled along side and retrieved the Chinese crew from life rafts as they abandoned the blazing ship. As they were brought aboard, each was frisked and hand-cuffed.

McGarrett followed the armed security team below where the Chinese spies were lined up along the wall away from the weather. He examined the downcast faces of each of the nine men and came to Hsin last. He paused looking closely at the man who looked downward, not making eye contact. "I know you."

He glanced up, then back down again, bitter failure betrayed on his face, framed by the rain streaked glasses. "You are McGarrett," he murmured.

"Yes, and you are Pao Hsin," Steve replied.

He said nothing.

"Your teacher will be disappointed," Steve added. "You were Wo Fat's prize pupil."
He looked up somberly at Steve. "I have failed him," he admitted, then said no more.

Steve went back up on deck and stood in the driving rain for a moment, feeling the sheets of water beating against his waterproof slicker. He was relieved to have stopped the security leak, but thoroughly exhausted from the night's events.

"We're heading back, sir," the second mate called to him as the latter hurried across the deck, headed for the hatch behind Steve.

He nodded. "Any word from the helicopter?"

He shook his head. "Last word was they were still trying to rescue the woman and child in the boat. In this pea soup we could lose the chopper, too. We're headed back to them now."


"Don't take off the cable," Harris instructed Danny as he double-checked the connection to the harness.

Danny pulled the heavy, wet vest back on. "Any sign of her?" he called.

"None," the pilot called back. "Did she have a vest on?"

"No," he answered.

He shook his head. "Wouldn't last long in all that without one. I haven't seen anything floating out there but the boat's hull. Maybe she's under it in an air pocket."
Danny nodded. "I'll look."

Harris handed him the waterproof flashlight. "If it's murky, you won't be able to see anything under there even with the light, so be careful about snarling your line. And remember, keep the cable no matter what."

He nodded again, impatiently. Every second meant one less chance for Mali. "Let's go." He stepped off the side of the bay door into space and swung only a moment before Harris activated the winch and he was sliding, this time at a controlled rate, towards the churning ocean. The pilot placed him as close to the capsized boat as he could. It was within arm's reach. He took hold of the slippery fiberglass hull, calling Mali's name several times, but the sound was lost in the storm. The flares still cast their red light across the waves as the large spot light from the chopper scanned the black surface, and he shone the flashlight around, but there was no sign of Mali. She's got to be under the boat. He recalled that she had tied herself to the aft railing earlier. I told her to get untied, did she have enough time? I can't remember. I think she did, but I'm not sure. Mali, in spite of all the past, be alive.

He took several deep breaths, then attempted to dive under the hull, but his life vest held him up. With reluctance, he untied it and tossed it over the protruding propeller of the boat. The waves beat at him, as he struggled to keep a grip on the boat and not go under. He appreciated Harris' caution about the line. If I get into trouble, they can always reel me in like the day's catch. The swells of ocean kept lifting and dropping the boat between ten and thirty feet requiring Harris to get him plenty of slack on the line. Danny took a deep breath and plunged into the black, salt water. The flash light only revealed about a foot in front of him requiring him to feel along the hull with his hands for the gunwale. Finally, the railing gleamed in the beam, but he had to surface for air. Having a better idea of how deeply to dive, he plunged again, fouund the railing instantly, went under it and inside the overturned boat. He rose, hoping to find an air pocket inside. There was none. He scrambled back outside to the surface. Heaving several more deep breaths, he again dove into the upside down boat in search of Mali. This has got to be a futile effort, but I have to try. There is a chance, there is always a chance. Miracles do happen. But I'm not sure where she is, or even if she is inside the boat. Can she still be alive? What are her chances? There has to be a hope.

Danny dove repeatedly for better than five minutes. Exhaustion replaced logic. Although he knew the hopelessness of the situation, he could not bring himself to give up. With each dive, he tried to go farther through the small yet seeming endless boat. His air was nearly gone when something brushed the back of his hand. It was cold, stiff, yet soft. In his excitement, the flashlight fumbled from his hand and was swallowed instantly into the murky water. In total blindness, he reached out again, but the object was illusive. His body was screaming for air, every cell pleading for oxygen, yet he frantically groped for the contact again. Then he touched it. He took hold of a hand. He tried to pull, but his muscles were weak. I have to get out. But I can't leave her. There was no response to the touch, the hand felt so cold. He was too depleted to think to check for a pulse. There is no time. I cannot help her. She is beyond help. I have to get out. He struggled to get back, but was confused. He collided with a seat cushion floating in the water. His ears were ringing, he wanted to just open his mouth and breathe in fresh air. I'm lost, I can't find my way out. I'm going to drown. Will my son lose both his parents on the same day? I never got to know him. I never even really saw him. I never got to tell him I loved him...

...The wind was icy and cut at Danny through the nylon suit as he dangled from the lifeline still thirty feet below the helicopter. The shock of it was like a slap. Danny gasped, coughed, and vomited a stomach full of seawater. He breathed, coughed more water, breathed again, feeling the oxygen rushing through him. He dangled like a rag doll as the winch pulled him towards the open bay of the helicopter. Harris reached out and pulled him inside like a sack of dog food and Danny collapsed on the steel deck on his stomach with a grunt. Harris dropped a woolen blanket over him.

"Did you find her?" Harris implored.

He coughed again, tasting more salty water, nodding at the same time. "Too late," he gasped as the coughing abated. "She's dead."

Harris turned back to the open bay door and fired one more flare -- this time one with a parachute that would lower it over a period of minutes. It would help the cutter find the small boat. As for the chopper, it's job was done. Harris slid the door shut and gestured towards the pilot.

The deck vibrated as the engines shot the helicopter skyward and back towards home. Danny ached everywhere and felt so tired he thought he might never move again. He turned his head to the side and could see Shaw, still unconscious, wrapped in a gray blanket, bandaging on the back of his head. Harris sat beside Shaw, cross-legged on the steel deck, holding Lonnie also enfolded in a blanket. The little boy, ignorant of the events he'd been through and of the magnitude of the tragedy, sat chewing contentedly on a helmet strap and making sounds and smiles at Harris. Despite the wool blanket, Danny felt no warmth. His only sensations were of complete exhaustion and failure. The image of Mali was present on the face of her son. The child Mali used to giggle at the little crabs that scattered across the sand. They would build glorious sand castles with their pails and shovels and collect precious seashells for hours...Mali's soft adolescent skin touching his in the moonlight as the waves curled across the beach..."Your first love never really leaves you"...The hatred, the anger, "You betrayed me! Get rid of him, I don't care how!"..."Danny, help us! Get Lonnie to safety!"..."Your first love never really leaves you." Mali, you will always be a part of me. Salt water dampened Danny's face once more as silent tears had their way.


Steve McGarrett watched the sun begin to peek above the horizon as the Houston tied up to it's berth. There was a line of Coast Guard, police, and FBI waiting for them and a collections of vehicles whose red, blue, and white lights were blinking in the early dawn. The FBI quickly escorted Pao Hsin and his crew away in a van. There would be endless paperwork to attend to later in the day. Steve turned regretfully back as the rubber body bag was loaded into the coroner's wagon. He signed the report and the driver turned away.

There was something surreal about the rising of the sun after the fierce storm of the night. Steve was tired to his bones, but the emotional exhaustion was the worse. He spotted Duke waiting apart from the others and went to him.

"How are you, Steve?" Duke asked.

He gave a sad smile. "How should we be, Duke?"

He nodded. "Sarah waited up all night waiting for the news. I've already spoken with her. Mali had left the codes in Sarah's post office box. They are now with the FBI."

Steve mentally checked off one unclosed issue.

"When the news breaks, there will be another blood bath between the Dragons and Kumu," Duke predicted.

Steve sighed and let his gaze follow at gull floating on the wind current. "Maybe not, Duke. Maybe enough blood has been spilt already. Sing is a shrewd old man. Batona will be scared out of his wits. I'd be pleased if both of the families vanished, but peace will be enough. Huh?"

"I'll keep an eye on them. Why don't you take off a day or two?" Duke recommended.

Steve gave a crooked smile. "Sounds great, Duke." He cast an eye towards the Coast Guard medical station up the hill. "I need to do one thing more."

As he started away, Duke touched his arm. "Sarah told me she'll take the boy."

He gave a simple nod and continued up the walk. Somewhere, a bird began to sing.


Danny sat, stuporous, on an old metal straight-backed chair, a cold cup of coffee held absently in one hand. He'd showered yet still felt the gritty salt. He knew he needed a shave, but he didn't care. His right shoulder was swollen and bruised where he'd collided with the boat during the failed rescue attempt, but he didn't care about that either. The door opened at the far end of the hall and he turned his blood-shot eyes to see Steve coming towards him.

McGarrett sat down beside him. "You look awful," he commented in a friendly manner.

Danny shrugged, looked inside the coffee cup, made a face, and set it down on the floor.

"We got Pao Hsin," Steve offered. "Thanks to Mali, we'll keep him. She gave the coded papers to her Aunt Sarah who brought them to Duke late last night. It is enough to convict Hsin." There was silence for several minutes. "We brought her back," he said gently. "She had never gotten free of the boat, but she didn't drown. She was killed by a blow to her head when the boat upended. There was no pain."

Danny nodded. "She was always so damned selfish, but her last words were asking me to help Lonnie. Maybe she'd finally learned something. If we have some kind of eternal destiny and God gives credit for late learners -- well, she earned it."

"What will you do?"

"What does any father do?" he asked.

"Sarah has offered -"

"No. This is my responsibility. It has nothing to do with convenience or experience or any of that kind of stuff. He is my son." He made a passing attempt at a smile. "We'll be all right."

"Where is he now?"

"Sleeping. He's fine."

As if on cue, a corpsman came around the corner. "Mr. Williams, here's your little boy."

Clutching the young man's hand, Lonnie toddled up smiling and babbling. There were the remains of a danish on his face. He let himself be pulled up onto Danny's lap and stared somewhat fearfully at the man he did not yet know was his father. And Danny looked at Lonnie. Pixie faced, dimpled chin, shining dark almond eyes, and wavy black hair, he was remarkable. When he smiled, a little drool leaked out of the corner of his mouth. Lonnie gingerly fingered the zipper on Danny's jumpsuit. For the longest time, Danny just watched him, taking in the total wonder, amazed at the complexity of so small a human.

Steve said nothing, knowing this was a sacred moment he was privileged to witness.

At last, Danny slowly reached up and wiped the crumbs from Lonnie's mouth. "Let's go home."


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