BLOOD of The Kumu

 

By

 G M

 


 

For June, the weather was unusually hot. Hawaii was experiencing a drought -- a long stretch of weeks without significant tropical rain. The dryness had turned the hillsides around Honolulu to a toast-brown. The same warm spells hiked the temperatures to some summer mercury levels of unique heights. A combination of the steep humidity and Fahrenheit baked the flowers, bushes and trees, lending an almost heady aroma to the immediate area of the Palace grounds. Added to the mix of scents were the many and varied floral leis adorning the dignitaries gathered in front of the Palace for the holiday. The effect was like being cornered in a cloying hot house rather than a city square in Honolulu.

 

Resisting the urge to wipe perspiration from his collar, Steve McGarrett snapped his fingers with restless anticipation. With a keen, wary eye he surveyed the crowds fronting the VIP's stand. Cop experience dictated his dislike for this type of public access to the Governor. Cop instinct kept him alert for the danger he almost expected. Jameson called him paranoid. McGarrett preferred the appellation of 'cautious'. He could never be too careful of the Governor's safety after all that had happened in the last few weeks. This King Kamehmeha Day was ripe for a publicity-laden attack from Five-0's latest nemesis, and Steve vowed to stop it dead.

 

With only partial attention on the parade passing before their stand on King Street, McGarrett scanned the nearby spectators. With a small earphone he listened to the police chatter from the walkie-talkie in his pocket. All was quiet along the parade route. The optimist inside him hoped the situation would remain calm, but the inner realist countered with expectations of chaos. The state holiday commemorating the first king of the islands was too much of an opportunity for fundamentalist Hawaiian terrorists. He was sure they would strike today; strike harder and bigger than their first two attacks. Today he feared the small, underground activist movement would escalate from the realm of political statements of violence, to murder -- assassination.

 

"Steve, all clear at the Ewa gate," came Chin Ho Kelly's report.

 

The check-in was noted automatically, one factor among many vying for his attention. Frequently police band calls were almost background noise until the announcement of an applicable event, then the subconscious seemed to alert the brain to the message. Several other routine reports filtered through, then a muffled, non-regulation comment came faintly from the earphone.

 

"Not another string of leis! Dis enough to tie up whales from here to Maui! From --," there was a muffled reply, then Officer Hilton's deep voice boomed, "Joseph and Kimba Rose."

 

"Thanks, I'll pass them along," was the dry acknowledgment. A moment later a more sarcastic order arrived from the officer charged with security at the rear of the VIP stands. "Kono, put them with the other leis and gifts. I wonder what the Governor does with all this stuff?" Dan Williams' final editorial addendum.

 

"Why don't people bring something useful, like a big bowl of fresh poi?"

 

"Hey, I thought I saw a whole box of fresh pineapples from Lanai," Kono bantered hungrily.

 

"Or," Nephi continued, practically smacking his lips, "some fresh opakapaka?"

 

"Because, Nephi, they know you'll never let it reach the Governor," Dan sardonically replied. "Especially the fish!"

 

"Hey, speaking of fish, I heard you and McGarrett gonna fish Saturday. You trying for a Five-0 entry in the billfishing competition this year? Our HPD team will slice you guys up and have you for sashimi, bruddah!"

 

"First we have to get Steve's boat out of the harbor," was Williams' rueful reply.

 

"That bad, eh?"

 

"That bad."

 

"Maybe you're just trying to lull me into security or something so the Robbery Division will lose."

 

"Would we do that to you, Nephi?"

 

McGarrett smiled at the interplay. HPD Sergeant Nephi Hilton was a huge, affable officer assigned to assist Five-0 with the job of security for the VIP's. Hilton was the star of the HPD outrigger team, the inspiration and motivation behind the prize winning deep-sea fishing Robbery Division team, and a formidable champion of the all-you-can-eat pizza fund raisers for the HPD softball team. His size and personality were assets for his assignment, but his main qualification for being on the front line of security today was Hilton's knowledge of local thugs and his native instinct for trouble. He was one of the best sergeants in the department, and his savvy was sorely needed in the fight against Kumu.

 

The Hawaiian mob, known as Kumu -- the foundation of Hawaiian heritage -- was headed by the shrewd mob boss, Kapi Pahoa and his dangerous second, Tony Alika. Five-0 had managed to keep a tentative lid on the mob activities for the last few years since Kumu had emerged as an ethnic crime syndicate. The racial battle cry encouraged crooked Hawaiians to stand up to the invaders (law-abiding citizens) of their land. A few months ago a militant faction of Kumu, called Kumu-kahi -- the origin, beginning -- came to the forefront of everyone's attention, by bombing an empty tourist bus. That violence escalated a week later to a deliberately set fire at the Dole factory. A few weeks later came the bombing of a tourist agency catering to package deals for mainland visitors. So far, no one had been hurt. So far, the extortion message had been delivered --Hawaii for the Hawaiian criminals -- without shedding blood. Protection money to keep from being damaged by the mob rolled into Kumu. Pahoa packaged it in the volatile wrappings of ethnic pride, but underneath the con job was the same old game of mob tactics. McGarrett knew it was only a matter of time before Kumu-kahi's violence changed to something more dangerous. He expected injuries, possibly worse, to start today.

 

"Steve, you there?" Williams' voice crackled in his ear. The tone instantly alerted McGarrett.

 

"Yeah, Danno."

 

"Nephi just stopped a delivery boy -- hey!"

 

"Danno?"

 

"Ben, get over to Nephi!" Williams ignored the inquiry and continued to shout orders to other officers. "Kono, can you read me? Parking lot! Long haired local in a blue surfer T-shirt!"

 

After McGarrett wound his way through the crowd of officials he jogged over to Hilton. Signals on his earpiece were too garbled for a clear message. "What's going on?"

 

Taller than McGarrett and wider than Kono Kalakaua, the hefty, broad Hawaiian was alert, trying to decipher the audio messages on the radio while giving a report to the boss. "I told Danny that delivery boy looked familiar. Kapili's the punk's name. He's a runner for -- " his handset crackled with static and voices. "Danny and Kono are in pursuit."

 

Sergeant Duke Lukela, HPD Detective Ben Kokua and some other officers angled through the crowd and joined Hilton and McGarrett. Duke asked the Five-0 chief to move away from the others, and McGarrett followed.

 

"We found a bomb in the delivery truck," the HPD sergeant reported quietly. "Bomb squad has removed it."

 

Lukela made it sound so simple. McGarrett released a ragged breath. What he feared most had been so close to becoming a horrifying reality. Kumu-kahi wanted blood on their hands. A bomb would have been an ugly, deadly attack. In one blow the terrorists could have injured or killed most of the officials of Hawaii's legislature and law enforcement and unfortunate innocent bystanders. He couldn't be sure the danger was over yet. The thought of his officers in hot pursuit of the fanatical purists was as unsettling as the waiting game he had played just moments before. The dignitaries were safe for now, but his men were still on the front line.

 

He raised the handset. "Chin, initiate evacuation plan A, repeat, evacuation plan A -for -Alii. Do you copy?"

 

"I'm on it, Steve. We'll get the VIP's back to the Palace."

 

From the periphery of his vision McGarrett noted the low-key exit of the people on the main viewing stand. He moved toward Governor Jameson to explain the situation, when his handi-talkie cracked to life. "Steve?"

 

"Yeah, Danno?"

 

"The kid hopped into a chopped-up VW bug. We're in pursuit."

 

"Careful, Danno."

 

"Hey, I cut my teeth racing these streets. Whoa!"

 

"Danno?"

 

Muffled words were indistinguishable over the speaker. McGarrett repeatedly called to his officers. He was on the brink of racing to his car to join the pursuit, when he received a response.

 

"Danny took that turn a little too close, boss, that's all."

 

"What's going on?"

 

Williams' strained voice answered, "Our boy's just hit the H-1, Steve. Heading north just under the speed of sound, I think."

 

"I'll call for chopper back up. Keep in touch."

 

"Sure thing, Steve," Kalakaua responded nervously. "Soon, I hope!"

 

"And be careful!" There was no response to his warning.

 

McGarrett hoped the advice and heartfelt counsel would be heeded. He moved along with the Governor, wary of more danger, but a part of his mind was racing toward the North Shore with his men.

 

*****

 

McGarrett drummed his fingers on the desk and stared down at the phone with an evil glare. Two hours since the finish of the Kamehameha parade. Over an hour since the last update on the pursuit of the suspected terrorist. The Five-0 officers chased the VW bug into the cane fields in the middle of the island. HPD back up joined in the search. Still nervous about an attack on the Governor, McGarrett remained close to the holiday festivities at the Palace. Now he regretted being away from what turned out to be the nucleus of the action. With little to report, Williams and Kalakaua had fallen back to infrequent, negative check-ins. The chief of the special police unit continued his silent debate to join the chase. The suspect at large could have slipped back into the city. Or he could have gone to ground in the country. Either way, he was still a threat. Finally the intercom buzzed and before the sound faded he snapped on the speaker.

 

"McGarrett!"

 

"We're on the North Shore, Steve," Dan reported. "We've got a line on our suspect. Nephi and Duke have been filling me in on this kid. The name is Tao Kapili. He and his brother both have records. Kono's informant says they're involved with Kumu-kahi." There was a pause, then the voice continued. "A local surfer up here knows them and says they hang out by Ka'ena Point."

 

"How reliable is this informant, Danno?"

 

Kalakaua responded, "He's given me good stuff before, Steve. I think he's telling the truth. Trouble is," Kono added, "he only gave us the two brothers for sure, but he's described one of the Kapili's friends -- sounds like Tomi Mano."

 

"Mano," McGarrett breathed angrily. " 'The shark." A suspected hit man for the mob. These Kapilis had dangerous friends.

 

Williams assessed, "Kumu-kahi is so secret, few outside the group know who are members, or how many are in the secret society. We won't get much help up here from the locals."

 

McGarrett bit his lip, processing the information and reaching instant decisions on the course of action. "Danno, do you have enough back up to search the area? I can get out there pretty fast in a chopper."

 

"I don't think you'll need to come up here, Steve. We've got a chopper and some officers, just not close. Kono and I are at Mokuleia, Duke and Ben are over at Haleiwa. We split up after we lost the kid in the cane. I've called for more HPD support."

 

"Wait for back up, Danno. Anyone in Kumu is nasty, but this Kapili is out for blood. Don't take chances."

 

"Right on, bruddah," Williams agreed wholeheartedly. "I have plans for tonight, and they don't include target practice for these Kumu-kahi nuts! I'll report back when we have something. Out."

 

For a moment McGarrett held his hand on the intercom, his mind miles away on the North Shore. Whenever his men went into action without him, he felt tinges of trepidation. On a case this dangerous he preferred to personally oversee the operation. In this instance, he was too far away. The usual anxiety was intensified because these violent members of Kumu would not be taken without a fight. As difficult as it was, he would have to be content to wait for a report. By then the danger would be over.

 

With a sigh he straightened his tie, preparing to rejoin Chin babysitting the officials. Momentarily his attention snagged on the Kumu rap sheets spread on his desk. Sometimes the best method of solving crimes was the action seen on the desk-top. Later, when things were settled, he would attack the paper trail of Kapi Pahoa and the Kumu.

 

 

*****

 

Behind the abandoned sugar plantation at Mokuleia, Williams turned onto a narrow, dirt trail paralleling the beach. The road was more suited for jeeps or horses than an LTD, but he had been on this back route before to get to a deserted surfing spot and knew to take it slow and careful. He followed the path for nearly a mile until an old, timeworn beach shack, a VW bug parked in back, was visible over the rocky terrain. Kono radioed to the HPD backup and gave Sergeant Lukela specific directions. The trail turned inland, then jutted out again toward the ocean and Williams drove the car to a point just out of sight of the shack. Lukela reported his ETA was another ten minutes.

 

"Tell him we'll scout around," Dan instructed Kono.

 

On foot, Williams and Kalakaua quietly surveyed the shack. A small boat was tied to the rocks, there was no sign of movement from the building. On the quiet wind of the offshore breeze, they could hear the incongruous sound of someone singing.

 

"What is that?" Williams whispered.

 

"A chant."

 

After a moment of careful listening, Williams nodded. "I've heard it before."

 

"The kumulipo -- the Hawaiian creation chant."

 

"Their theme song?" Williams cracked. At his friend's frown, the younger detective apologized. "No disrespect intended, Kono. It was just a joke."

 

"These guys take the old ways seriously, Danny."

 

"And you do, too."

 

Kono was reverential and sincere. "Can't turn my back on the old beliefs. I've seen too much."

 

"I know, so have I. So let's go see some more."

 

He led the way inland, around rocky knolls, through dry thickets, to the top of a rise. At the crest of the hill the brush had been cleared. An old stone wall enclosed another cleared area, the remains of an aged heiau. In the center was a pile of lava rocks -- an altar. Two men were at the perimeter wall of the archaic rock temple. The one standing inside the clearing by the altar table, chanting, was Lani Kapili, clad in a loincloth in the ancient manner. The other, Tao Kapili, clad in jeans and a blue surf T-shirt, leaned against the outside of the wall, sipping from a can of beer.

 

"Guess you shouldn't defile the heiau with liquor," was Dan's aside. He impatiently checked his watch. "I wish Duke and the others were here. We've got these guys cold."

 

The young man at the stone altar ended his chant and walked to a gap in the wall to join the man with the beer. As the two talked, the man in the jeans gestured toward the ocean, paused a moment, then froze.

 

"Contact," Williams muttered. Instantly he drew his revolver and came to his feet. "Freeze! Five-0!" he shouted.

 

His opponent had already dropped the beer and pulled a pistol from his waistband. Tao fired two shots toward the officers, who hit the dirt. Then Tao handed the gun to the man in the loincloth, who hopped the wall and ran toward the altar. Tao scrambled over some rocks and ran toward the ocean shack.

 

"Don't let Tao get another weapon!" Dan warned his colleague as he scrambled quickly on his feet.

 

He ran to the wall, commanded the native-garbed man to stop, and fired a warning shot in the air above the fleeing suspect. The Hawaiian turned and fired several shots. Williams ducked behind the stones.

 

"This is kapu!" Lani Kapili shouted. "You haole defile the heiau! Leave!"

 

Williams wanted to shout back that nothing on this island was forbidden to a Five-0 officer while chasing a criminal. He saved his breath, however, and tracked the area for a better vantage point.

 

Kalakaua ran after Tao, quickly tackling the slighter, shorter criminal, who tried to wrestle the gun from the big Hawaiian officer. The assailant was a well-muscled, stocky kama'aina, native, but was no match for the more bulky, more motivated Kono. Without much effort, Kono pinioned Tao in an arm lock.

 

Williams ducked as several shots hit the lava wall he leaned against. From the shifting ricochets, he guessed Lani was moving closer. He chanced a look and felt the exploding shards of lava against his forehead as a shot barely missed him. Crawling to the end of the wall, he exchanged fire twice and heard a cry of pain when the second bullet hit its mark. The man folded to the ground behind the altar.

 

"No," Kono's captive shouted as they came up beside Dan. With effort Kalakaua held tightly to the agitated prisoner. "Lani! Lani!" At Williams, Tao Kapili spat, "You've killed him! My brother, you killed him!"

 

"Kapili, come out!" Dan shouted, ignoring the vile accusations from Tao.

 

"You've defiled the heiau. You've shed blood of the kumu in the heiau," Lani Kapili cried in anguish from behind the altar. "Death for spilling blood of kumu! Death to you!"

 

Irritated at the tortured litany, impatient with waiting for Lani Kapili to surrender, Williams vaulted over the low wall and carefully approached the stone altar.

 

"Surrender, Lani. Let's end this."

 

Lani darted around the edge of the lava shrine and fired. Williams dove for the dirt, exchanging more rounds. As he slid in the hot sand and rocks, he felt the burning slice of a bullet tearing into his left side. He laid still for a moment, focusing beyond the pain to the necessary survival measure of eliminating his opponent as a threat. Lani Kapili laid still next to the altar. Even at the distance of several feet, the Five-0 detective recognized the lifeless stare of a dead man.

 

"You've killed my brother!" Tao screamed.

 

"Danny!" Kono shouted, "You okay?"

 

In the distance sirens wailed. Not close enough to drowned out the weeping of the remaining Kapili brother. "Blood for blood! I will kill you haole cop! Your blood will run on the heiau!"

 

Williams struggled to rise, but could only manage turning over onto his back. Exhausted at the effort, he pressed a hand to his wound and stared up at the cloudy, blue Hawaiian sky. This was not at all what he intended when he got up this morning.

 

The sky slowly revolved and telescoped closed in a dark red circle. The color of molten lava -- the color of blood . . . . His mind protested; he couldn't sleep yet, he had to report the shooting . . . . Steve needed to know what happened -- what went wrong. Steve would not be pleased with this mess. The heat baked his skin, yet inside he felt chilled. He felt so tired. A long day -- square it with Steve later . . . .

 

*****

 

Police records of known Kumu mobsters proved tedious work. McGarrett couldn't remember anything he had read in the last half hour. Should have gone up with Danno and Kono in pursuit of the Kapili kid, he silently chided.

 

Security for the dignitaries remained tight, official ceremonies and duties were now complete, everyone but the cops had gone home. After the aborted bombing attempt, the day had been quiet. Steve now devoted his main attention on the status of Kapili -- of his officers. Terrorists favored authority figures as targets and cops were always the most vulnerable in this shadow-war of guerrilla tactics. In truth, he felt trapped; blind, bound and trapped. Next time he would put Danno and Chin next to the Governor, and he would stay out where the action seemed most likely to occur. No more of this watching from the sidelines nonsense. No, not Chin, his bad jokes would drive the Governor to distraction.

 

The intercom buzzed and he responded instantly. "McGarrett!"

 

"Got some bad news, boss."

 

There was loud rumbling behind Kono's voice, like chopper blades. Steve's skin tingled as he subconsciously assessed the elements: Kono calling in a report of bad news, the presence of a helicopter.

 

"What happened?" he barked, anxiety making his voice harsh.

 

"Lani Kapili put up a fight. He's dead."

 

McGarrett gulped down the dry knot in his throat, trepidation in his tone. The worst remained unspoken. "You and Danno okay?"

 

Long seconds stretched out, the chopper's blades beating over the intercom like ominous, encroaching beasts. McGarrett nearly verbalized his impatience, but a part of him intuitively knew this was something he didn't want to hear.

 

"Danny was hit. We're flying to the hospital now."

 

His blood went chill. "How bad?"

 

"A bullet in the side. They say he's holding his own."

 

"I'll meet you there."

 

*****

 

By the time McGarrett made it to the hospital Williams was in emergency surgery. To Officer Kalakaua fell the unhappy task of reporting the details to the boss. It was bad enough that Danny had been shot. That Kono had to explain it all to Steve compounded his distress. The death of Lani Kapili and the escape of Tao Kapili seemed almost insignificant to the pale McGarrett. Preoccupied with concern for his wounded friend, the Five-0 chief simply told Kono to take care of the case. He didn't even ask how the bulky Hawaiian had managed to let the terrorist escape custody. A temporary respite of censure Kono was sure. All too soon he would have to offer inadequate explanations and the boss would be very, very unhappy. Not as distressed as now, of course. Unless Danny's condition worsened . . . . No, he better not tread that nasty path. Nothing better happen to Danny -- especially while out on a case with him! The boss would never forgive him.

 

McGarrett drifted down the hall to talk to a nurse. Torn between obeying orders and staying to await word on Danny, Kono chose a quick middle ground. He notified Chin, at the office, to coordinate the Kapili business. Then Kono returned to the waiting room as a silent companion to the chief.

 

These hospital vigils were Hell on earth, Kono reflected as he watched the tightly paced course McGarrett tracked between the visitor's lounge and the nurse's station. Nerves wound tautly, Steve frayed everyone else's nerves raw, but neither the nurses nor the HPD officers on guard, nor Kalakaua, dared to mention the obvious observation. Kono's muteness was complete --he knew better than to attempt any comments to the chief. It was tough on McGarrett when one of the detectives was injured. All of Five-0 suffered when one of their own went down, but none of them took it so personally, so deeply, as Steve. Always agonizing worse when Danny was hit, McGarrett would want no sympathy or gratuitous words of cheer. Least of all would he want excuses. He wanted Dan Williams alive and well -- achievements only God and the doctors could deliver now.

 

The surgery doors flew open and Kalakaua jumped at the startling noise. McGarrett was the first one to confront the surgeon and ask for news on Williams. The doctor was mercifully succinct with the welcome assurance that Williams would make a full recovery.

 

Kono was relieved, but the weight he felt lifted was the tangible relief emanating from McGarrett. The boss' suffering was a diminished presence, not entirely vanished. With the crisis now behind them, Kono felt he could return to the office and help Chin in the search for the surviving Kapili brother. McGarrett would shepherd Williams (he always did) until Dan settled into a room. Steve always wanted to finish the remainder of the vigil alone, a private sentry duty between him and his protege'.

 

*****

 

"Kapili has gone to ground big time," Chin Ho reported quietly.

 

McGarrett nodded, seemingly expecting the negative news, his eyes never leaving Williams still form on the bed. "What's the word on Kumu-kahi?"

 

"Coconut wireless quiet this time, boss. No one admits to anything," Chin growled in frustration. "No one on the rock knows anything or sees anything. Tomi Mako's turned suddenly invisible."

 

McGarrett's whole expression seemed to visibly cloud with anger. "This is attempted murder on a Five-0 officer!" he snapped harshly. He glared at the messenger of the bad tidings. "You press your snitches on this, tell Duke and Kono to do the same. Make sure every lowlife on this island knows they'll find nothing but grief if they try to cover for Tao! He is now my personal target!"

 

"Mine, too," croaked quietly from the bed.

 

"Danno!" McGarrett stepped over to stand next to his friend. "How are you doing?" came his quiet question tinged with relief.

 

"Better than Tao will when I get my hands on him."

 

McGarrett's saturnine grimace deadly. "When I'm through with him, Danno, you're welcome to the remains."

 

Chin stepped over. "After Steve's done with him, you could probably take him even in your condition."

 

"Thanks for the confidence," Williams' sarcastically retorted. Exhaustion lessened the stinging impact of the slurred comment. His eyelids fought to stay open.

 

"Take care, Danny," the Chinese detective admonished. "I'll go check on security," he said and left.

 

"I'll be right out," McGarrett responded, but didn't move.

 

The reluctance to leave was typical. Anytime one of the Five-0 team was injured, McGarrett took it hard. With Dan Williams the one wounded it was like a personal attack -- worse -- much worse. Steve could deal with things one on one; thrived on head to head confrontations, loved challenges and even some tactical battles with criminals. When the violence and pain were targeted at his men, at his friends, that pain became the hardest to endure. In this instance disaster came so close. A few inches higher and the bullet would have been fatal.

 

"You're not taking this out of my vacation time are you?" The question from a drowsy, not-quite-coherent Williams.

 

"I think you've used up all your sick time for the next two years." McGarrett didn't mind the response lost on the patient drifting out of consciousness. With a heartfelt sigh he confessed, "I'm glad you'll be around to complain about it."

 

"Mmmm," Williams sighed and settled more comfortably against the pillow.

 

Patting Dan's arm, Steve quietly admonished, "Get some rest. I'll be back later."

 

McGarrett crossed to the door and paused to look back at his friend. He was a firm believer in luck. Sometimes it seemed the only way Five-0 officers survived. Today, there must have been an extra dose of good fortune available, and he was glad it had been there for Danno.

 

 

*****

 

Williams awoke from his doze with a start.

 

"Steve?"

 

He had drifted in and out of consciousness and McGarrett was there with him most of those times. Aware of passage of time, Dan's memories were easily blurred from medication and he was confused by dreamlike recollections. Dan glanced around the room, surprised to be alone, sure he had heard someone. Lying still for a moment, wondering what had startled him awake, he glanced at the clock near the hospital bed. Three PM.

 

"Steve?"

 

A thud in the corridor alerted him. He was looking at the door when it swung open and his waking nightmare began. Tao Kapili, a blood stained knife in his hand, burst into the room, followed by a hulking Hawaiian almost as wide as the door! Williams slowly edged off the bed to his feet. Weak and disoriented, he braced himself against the cold wall, mindful of his aching side, but more concerned with the deadly assailant advancing toward him. Out in the corridor, he saw the still form of his guard, Nephi Hilton. Briefly, his distorted mind wondered if this was a dream, but the fear gripping him confirmed this nightmare as real.

 

"You defiled the heiau," Tao intoned, his voice as grave as death. "You spilled the blood of my kaikaina, my brother!"

 

Dan gulped down the horror which knotted his throat. He calculated his chances against either one of the Hawaiians as hopeless; against both, impossible. His only chance was to ring for the nurse and play keep-away from the knife until help arrived. Therefore, in the back of his mind, he knew he was about to die.

 

"Blood for blood!"

 

Kapili's friend hovered close, a silent, deadly barricade. There was no chance of survival against these two committed killers. A split-second of defeat shadowed his mind, then the shock and fear receded with a force of will fortified by years under the tutelage of Steve McGarrett. In Five-0 there was no surrender, no concession and Dan would not be the first to give in to helplessness.

 

"Only your blood will avenge my brother! You -- a haole -- a cop -- all that is dirty. You defiled the ancient kapu. Your kind has trampled the Hawaiian aina. Your blood will wash clean the defiled land! My brother's death, my people's dishonor, must be atoned in blood!"

 

So Kapili wanted to spout off before the final kill. Time was Dan's friend, right now. The longer he could stall the madman, the better the chance help would come in time. He cautiously revealed his native claim to Hawaii, his own love of the land. Tao reviled the possibility of anyone of the usurping white race staking claim to the island heritage.

 

"Blood of the kumu is the pure blood. You are haole! Your heiau will be consumed by fire!"

 

"You're nuts!"

 

Williams dove for the bed and pressed the nurse's call button. The two intruders lunged for him. Dan pushed the bed in front of him as an inadequate barrier.

 

"I will cleanse Lani's murder with your blood! Then your heiau will be fire and ash! Burst apart by the hand of Ku!"

 

Ku -- the Hawaiian god of war. Dan's mind focused on survival. He allowed the madman to rant as he positioned for space until security came. How long could it take for nurses to come, for someone to notice Hilton's body in the corridor and call for security? Tao made a swipe with the knife. Dan slipped around the bed and grabbed a tray off a side table.

 

"Blood for blood!"

 

As Tao dove with the knife, Williams used the tray as a shield, backing toward the corner. He felt moisture on his skin and knew he had already ripped the sutures on his wound. That would be the least of his problems in a few seconds.

 

"I will bring your heiau to dust!" Tao threatened again as he charged with the knife. "The haole heiau will be ash! First, your blood will run like lava!"

 

The second Hawaiian came around the bed and made a grab for him. Williams braced against the wall and pushed a chair at the second man. As Tao came closer with another attack, Dan pounded him in the face with the tray.

 

The giant man grabbed Dan, squeezing the detective's chest. Hardly able to breathe, meaty hands dragged him from the wall to face Tao. Resigned to certain death, Williams' shock turned to confusion. Surprise and fear twisted the face of Tao.

 

Then the grip on Dan's chest was released, and he collapsed to the floor. He heard the crash of glass and the muttered threats of Officer Hilton. Then Hilton was shaking his shoulder, asking if Williams was okay. Fuzzy-headed, Dan tried to nod, but found it difficult with his head on the floor.

 

*****

 

Renowned for a volcanic temper, McGarrett's rage bubbled to overflowing as he surveyed the small hospital room. How could this happen? Built as solidly as Kono, Hilton could not be easily overpowered. McGarrett lifted the white sheet covering the dead body crumpled on the floor. The huge attacker, killed instantly from a snapped neck, offered tangible evidence that Nephi Hilton had recovered from his knife injury enough to complete his duty to a wounded comrade. He would put the officer in for a commendation. Despite his injuries, Hilton saved Danno's life by attacking the assailant.

 

McGarrett shivered at the bloody evidence of the struggle. The attack had been close --too close. Twice in two days Williams came within a hairsbreadth of death. He glanced at the broken window where Tao Kapili had made his daring escape from the third floor. As long as the fanatical Hawaiian was at large, Danno's life was still in danger.

 

Steve strode down the hall where Chin and Duke Lukela conversed with two beefy HPD officers. He caught the end of Duke's briefing, pleased that the conscientious HPD sergeant left nothing to chance. No more officers would be injured, or worse, because of lax security.

 

McGarrett gestured toward the door. "No word yet?"

 

Chin shook his head. McGarrett sighed and paced the corridor until the doctor emerged from the room. The initial report was good; Williams' injuries were minor. With the bullet wound re-stitched and the minor slashes on the arms bandaged, Williams' recovery continued.

 

The cavalier diagnosis did nothing to comfort the anxious head of Five-0. His officer, his friend, had been attacked in the hospital! From Nephi's sketchy report of Tao Kapili's threats to Williams, the danger was not over. 'Blood for blood,' was the phrase. Kapili would not be satisfied that his brother's death, and the imaginary defiling of the heiau were avenged, until Danno paid with his life. McGarrett did not intend to let that happen. Despite all his forceful wishes and precautions, however, it would be difficult at best to protect an injured officer against a fanatic. There was no way to predict when or how the attack would come.

 

McGarrett quietly entered the room and watched the sleeping Williams. Restless, the younger detective mumbled and twitched through the sedation. Steve sat on the edge of the bed and held onto Dan's shoulder, offering subdued words of calm reassurance.

 

Dan seemed to fight for consciousness.

 

"Destroy . . . explode . . . heiau. . . . "

 

"Don't worry, Danno, Tao won't destroy anything."

 

"Blood . . . heiau . . . ku . . . blood . . for . . . ."

 

"Shhh," McGarrett's whispered, repeating a litany of soothing phrases until his friend's fevered mutterings trailed away. Gravely studying the bandages and scrapes, he shook his head. "Tao won't spill your blood, Danno. I won't let him. That's a promise."

 

Kapili had taken things personally. McGarrett did, too. An attack on an officer, on Danno, was one of the most personal offenses he had endured in his office as head of Five-0. It was an assault against his family; a transgression against him. For a few more minutes McGarrett watched his friend in peaceful repose. It could, so easily, have been the sleep of death. His anger returned and he abruptly left the room, determined to take out his rage in a more productive manner.

 

*****

 

With a screech of tires, McGarrett halted the big Mercury so hard it rocked in the driveway of the spacious mansion. He pounded on the door of the big Kahala house until Billy Swan, Pahoa's huge bodyguard, answered the door.

 

"I'm here to see Pahoa."

 

He didn't wait for an invitation, but pushed past the large man and into the luxurious entranceway of the Kahala mansion. Befitting the expense and elegance of a home in the most exclusive neighborhood in Hawaii, the house was richly decorated with pricey Hawaiiana art. The tropically furnished living room was dominated by the unique feature of an open-air wall which merged from an indoor room to an outside lanai. Half-indoors and half outdoors was an Olympic-sized swimming pool. This was McGarrett's first visit to the mob leader's home and he grudgingly admired the elegance. Ruefully, Steve admitted Pahoa had used his ill-gotten wealth tastefully.

 

"You can't come in here," Billy Swan protested, and moved to physically force McGarrett to obey.

 

In no mood for resistance, McGarrett tensed for a fight. "Just try stopping me," he dared.

 

"That will be enough, Billy," a deep voice resonated from the shadowed hallway at the end of the living room.

 

McGarrett turned to face the leader of Kumu. Kapi Pahoa was a large, bulky Hawaiian who commanded attention with a sense of presence which was tangible even across the room. With him was his second-in-command, Tony Alika, a slimy, slippery mobster who effectively ran most of Pahoa's holdings. Steve could understand why so many criminals flocked to this man's magnetic personality; to the feeling of power and mastery which Pahoa possessed. Serious, professional criminals, thugs, street punks and little cons all rushed to join Pahoa, under the ethnic banner of Kumu - solidarity - unity. It was an old and simple ploy, but amazingly effective. Kumu was a formidable mob that Five-0 had, so far, been unable to crack. McGarrett knew one day he would -- it was inevitable. Eventually it had to come down to a personal showdown between the top cop of the islands and the top mob boss. Perhaps that day was closer than either of them had expected. This new factor of Kumu-kahi -- of the attack on Williams -- had accelerated their head-on collision.

 

Pahoa offered McGarrett a seat on the plushly cushioned rattan sofa. McGarrett declined with a shake of his head. Pahoa offered a drink which Steve also declined.

 

"I've come to discuss Tao Kapili."

 

Pahoa poured himself some blue liquid and settled into a wing-backed rattan chair. "What is there to discuss? I know Tao." Alika stepped forward and sneered at the Five-0 detective. "Your hotshot Officer Danny-boy killed his bruddah, McGarrett. Tao's out for some justice."

 

McGarrett clenched his fists. "Officer Williams shot in self defense when Lani resisted arrest. Kapili tried to kill Williams this morning!" A tight edge of anger tinged the words and McGarrett forced himself to back away from the rage. "Tao is out for revenge. I want him."

 

Over his frosty glass of a tropical cocktail, Pahoa studied his opponent. There was a hard chill in his eyes. "I could make all kinds of denials, McGarrett -- "

 

"But it would waste time for both of us."

 

"Agreed. So I will tell you, truthfully, I did not know of Tao's plan of revenge. I do not know where Tao is now."

 

"And if you did, you wouldn't tell me."

 

"That is not what I said, McGarrett."

 

Steve stepped into the sunken living room and stood in front of Pahoa. "Then tell me everything you know about Kumu-kahi. How many are in the group? What are their names?"

 

"I can't -- "

 

"You won't!"

 

"I don't know," Pahoa corrected. "Kumu-kahi is a terrorist group, McGarrett. They are using my principles as a spring board for their own motives. I want them stopped as badly as you do."

 

"Even if that was true, you'd do it your way. The internal Kumu method of justice. Because you don't want to betray your brotherhood by turning Kumu-kahi members over to the cops."

 

Pahoa inclined his head. "If that interpretation makes you happy, McGarrett, then that is what you will believe."

 

"What will make me happy is Tao Kapili behind bars. I intend to accomplish that, even if I have to go through your entire organization to do it."

 

"Don't threaten me, McGarrett."

 

"Then don't play games with me! Kapili has sworn vengeance on Dan Williams. Blood for blood."

 

"That is the Kumu-kahi way."

 

"I won't let that happen, Pahoa. Bet on it! Tao is going down. If you try to protect him, you'll go down with him."

 

Pahoa's deep voice was almost serene. In sharp contrast, his eyes burned with passion. "Sounds like 'blood for blood', McGarrett. Haole cops understand the law of brothers, just as Kumu."

 

Complex images coalesced from the strong words. Brotherhood, cops, law; concepts revered, codes honored. Steve felt a bond with all enforcement officers as they strove to uphold the law. His sense of family intensified within the confines of his own unit. Mingling time and ideals with the people working with him engendered kindred ties. Sharing dangers, goals, triumphs and sorrows with Williams; brothers not by blood, but by choice.

 

McGarrett sneered with disgust. "Don't compare Five-0 with your mob, Pahoa! This blood quest goes no further."

 

"We shall see," was Pahoa's deeply-intoned reply. The fire in his eyes contrasted with the dangerously level voice.

 

Alika approached him. "Kumu's not gonna stand by while a bruddah is threatened."

 

"Neither do I. My officers will not be targets for your fanatics! We do not give in to threats!"

 

Pahoa quietly returned, "Then we understand each other." It was a dismissal. All that needed to be said had been spoken.

 

"We do," McGarrett agreed. "Don't get in my way, Pahoa. I won't let Dan Williams die over this."

 

Pahoa nodded in understanding.

 

*****

 

Not expecting the wounded officer to regain consciousness anytime soon, McGarrett, nonetheless, stopped at the hospital after closing the office that night. Staring out the window at the city lights, meditating in the still, quiet room, McGarrett 's roller-coaster emotions of the turbulent day ebbed to a resolute determination. Twice his friend's life tilted on the brink of life and death. Twice in two days Dan cheated death. A double victory for both of them. Nothing, Steve silently vowed -- no ancient legend, no evil spirits, no blood vow, no mob, no renegade criminal -- nothing -- would take this valued comrade away from him.

 

Kumu. The foundation. Strangely the term applied to his own feelings about his job and the people connected to him. His Five-0 staff, Dan, comprised pieces of himself. To lose one -- to lose Danno -- would be to destroy a part of his own soul. More than he admitted to Pahoa, he understood Kumu, understood blood vows and blood connections and what made men brothers.

 

"Steve?"

 

He jumped from the unexpected call of the soft voice. Quickly crossing the room, he joined his friend in the small glow of light from the bedside lamp. Williams' drawn face reflected the ordeals of the day, but McGarrett felt relieved at the return to consciousness.

 

"Danno. You okay?"

 

Williams frowned, contemplating the question. "Think so. Tired."

 

"I bet. It's been a rough day," he breathed with a heartfelt sigh. "Glad it's over."

 

With a nod, he asked, "Kapili?"

 

Between gritted teeth, McGarrett admitted, "Got away."

 

Blinking to keep his eyes open, Dan whispered, "You'll get him. Always do." Temporarily winning the battle against fatigue, he focused on his friend. "I've been sleeping."

 

McGarrett gave a nod.

 

"Bad dreams. Fire and ash . . . destroying a heiau . . . blood . . . . "

 

"Don't worry about it, Danno. You can explain it later," Steve brushed aside. The nightmarish attack was better left behind them. "Go back to sleep."

 

"I don't have a heiau, Steve . . . . "

 

"I know, Danno. Sleep." He patted Dan's arm. "Rest now. No one's getting in here again, Danno. You're safe. You have my word on that."

 

Williams offered the slightest nod and drifted into a slumber.

 

McGarrett sighed, releasing some of the anxiety tightening his chest. Even with the extensive security inside and out of the hospital, he worried about his friend's safety. Against a madman there could be no foolproof protection. It would be a long time before his own nightmares of this case were over.

 

*****

 

Dan Williams drew in huge lungs full of air. "Feels great to be out of that hospital," he sighed, breathing deeply again. His arm leaning on the door of the car, the sun on his skin, the breeze in his face, made him feel as if he had just emerged from a cave. A few confining days in the hospital could make a guy forget he lived in paradise. "Even the heat feels good."

 

"Don't overtax yourself, Danno. You've got to take it easy."

 

"I will. Promise. No surfing, no wind-sailing. Just lots of sun. Can't wait to kick back on my lanai and watch the surf, and the sunsets, and the bikini -- hey, you just missed my street --"

 

"I'm not taking you to your place, Danno. You're still in danger, remember?" Accentuating the grim comment were the cautious glances Steve threw into the rearview mirror.

 

"Steve, I just got released from one prison --"

 

"Look, Danno, we can't protect you at your apartment. Too many vulnerable openings. I'm taking you to a safe place. Kick back, get some sun. Relax."

 

Grimacing, Williams countered, "Hey, Steve, I promise to relax --"

 

"We can't protect you there. You're staying somewhere safe until this Kumu trouble is over."

 

There was no point in arguing with McGarrett. His tone alone bespoke the finality of his premeditated plot. Steve had been distressed by this whole Kumu-kahi angle, and a little thing like Dan's personal freedom was not going to carry much weight with the head of Five-0. Steve was in his 'protective mode' and his anxiety would not ease until the threat was removed. Dan appreciated the concern, knowing it was in his best interests, appreciated that he had even more interest in preserving his life than McGarrett did. He was, nevertheless, disappointed with the restrictions.

 

"Is that an order?" was his half-joking retort.

 

McGarrett's sober reply was, "Yeah."

 

"Okay," Dan agreed with a long sigh. "Where?"

 

"A nice little hide-away at Kaneohe. One of Kono's cousins reserved it. She's loaning it to us for the week."

 

"What would we do without all of Kono's and Chin's relatives?"

 

"I don't know," Steve replied with a smile. "We'd have to double our staff, I guess."

 

Unhappily, the younger detective asked if his friend really thought the fugitive would remain at large for a whole week. Ignoring the self-pity, Steve noncommittally replied they would have to wait and see.

 

Dan was surprised when they pulled up at the gates of Bellows Air Force Station. McGarrett showed his ID to the guard at the gate and they were ushered through. These beach houses were highly prized by military personnel all over the world.

 

"You're kidding," was Dan's incredulous assessment. "You got permission for me to stay on the base?"

 

They owed Kono's cousin big time after this. And how many favors did Steve call in from Marine brass to allow a Five-0 operation on their installation? Skirting around the main base they wound their way to the ocean and a neighborhood of old buildings right on the beach.

 

"Some safehouse isn't it?" Steve beamed, more than pleased with his coup. "Tao may have a lot local friends, but so do I and mine are more influential."

 

The small shack where they stopped was a worn, weathered-wood building nestled against a thick knot of pine trees. The lack of esthetics was compensated by the view out the front door. Literally a few feet from the lanai stretched the surf line of the Pacific Ocean. Protected by a peninsula, Kaneohe was one of the few beach front spots where a house could literally be on the water's edge.

 

McGarrett carried Williams' overnight bag into the small front room furnished with an old sofa, two rattan chairs, a coffee table and a TV. Kono shouted a greeting from the nearby kitchen. He brought out two torn grocery bags doubling as serving plates. Plastic cartons of sashimi, lomi chicken and manapua bread were jammed in a pile.

 

"Chin's bringing dinner from his wife tonight. For lunch, you're stuck with supermarket food." He went back to the kitchen and returned with paper plates, bottled beer and napkins. "Dig in."

 

Mindful of his injuries, Williams gingerly settled into the corner of the sofa. "Not that I'm complaining about the five-star accommodations, Steve, but how long am I going to be here?"

 

"Till we catch Tao."

 

The disappointment spilled into his question. "Any leads?"

 

"Not yet."

 

"Since he attacked you, he's slipped under a coral shelf somewhere, bruddah," Kono explained. "We'll catch him, don't you worry. HPD and Five-0 are really putting the heat on this island, man." Kono's garrulousness was a reflection of his nervousness at being, literally, in the middle of a silent battle of wills between his two colleagues. "Right on the beach, man, you gonna sleep mo'bettah than a baby."

 

"I hope so," Williams sighed, gazing out at the nearby surf.

 

"Still having the nightmares?" McGarrett wondered.

 

Dan shrugged off the concern. "Yeah. Just confusing images."

 

"Nightmares? You?" Kono questioned. "You got nerves almost as good as mine."

 

"Weird stuff. A heiau, blood, explosions . . . . " his voice trailed away.

 

The only sound came from the rolling surf washing up outside the open door. Shaking off the gloom, he picked at his food and tried to appear unaffected at the unsettling memories. His comments shifted to speculation on how he could help with the apprehension of the fugitive.

 

McGarrett remained taciturn, cool and immovable in his determination to keep Williams out of danger. Williams, slightly resentful of the confinement, tested his limits. Their difference of opinion was under the surface, but blatantly obvious to anyone who knew them. Both close to an eruption point, Kono hoped to forestall one of their hardheaded arguments while he was in the room. All that hostility they could throw around was bad for his digestion.

 

"Hey, I picked up some candy bars, too. I'll go get them."

 

Ignoring the distraction, Dan, typically bristling at the constraints, offered curt words of strained patience. "No one's sighted Tao?"

 

"Not yet," McGarrett replied, almost daring his colleague to make a more aggressive observation.

 

"Won't be long," Kono offered when he returned, passing out chocolate Macadamia nut bars. "Not many believe in Kumu-kahi's terrorism. We'll get Tao."

 

McGarrett pushed aside his portion of the bachelor's meal. "I've got to get back to the office. If you need anything, call. Someone will check in every once in a while. You'll have an officer staying with you at all times."

 

Williams followed his boss to the car. "I can't hide here forever, Steve. I've got to come out sometime." It was difficult letting his life rest in the hands of someone else, even if it was his friend and the head of Five-0, while he could do nothing to resolve the situation.

 

"You will." McGarrett's expression was closed, unreadable. "We'll get Tao. Until then, you're a target and we'll protect you like any other target."

 

With a nod of understanding, Williams suppressed a grin. Not exactly like any other witness protection policy. Overcompensating from such a personal attack, his safety would not be left to chance. It was heartwarming, secure, and a little frustrating to be so valued that the defensive mentality became intrusive.

 

"Okay. Steve." He knew this had hit McGarrett hard. While Dan didn't diminish the danger he was in, he also felt trapped at the necessity to hideout, and left out, because he was not an integral part of the action. For now, he could do nothing to change those factors. Like Steve, he would have to exercise his small amount of patience. "Just don't forget I'm here."

 

"I won't," McGarrett promised. His tense expression relaxed and warmed. "I'll see you in a few days. Maybe we can take out my boat."

 

"And I thought you wanted to protect my life?"

 

Steve got into the car and started the engine. "You won't be so quick to insult my boat when you're landlocked, bruddah."

 

Williams waved goodbye as his friend drove away on the small dirt lane winding through the thick pines. He turned and gazed out at the blue water and dazzling white sand. As prisons went, this was one of the best he had ever seen. Other small beach shacks along the perfect, white sand were occupied by US Service personnel and families. This was about as safe as possible to be on this island. It was a comfort considering there was a dedicated, maniacal killer-with-a-cause out for his blood.

 

"You want to tell me about your dreams?" Kono asked as he joined his colleague on the sand.

 

"Not really."

 

"Sometimes dreams can tell you things. Sometimes they warn you about your future, Danny."

 

"Don't get all transcendental on me, Kono, please."

 

The Hawaiian shrugged.

 

"It's all vague," Williams supplied reluctantly. "Tao is shouting, then like all these violent things are happening around me." He shook his head. "It's just a nightmare."

 

"My Uncle Puna could help you, Danny, just say the word."

 

With a smile Dan negatively shook his head. "I don't think I need a kahuna, Kono. Thanks anyway. I'm counting on something more tangible and powerful than ancient myths. Like a modern Irish legend who doesn't give up."

 

*****

 

"Chin, what have you got for me?" McGarrett forcefully requested as he sailed into the office, past Kelly's cubicle, and into his own domain. Chin trailed behind him, followed by Jenny Sherman, his secretary, who deposited several memos onto his desk.

 

"How's Danny?"

 

"Chafing at his isolation," was McGarrett's curt response. He removed his jacket and settled behind his desk; decks cleared and ready for action. "You'll have to send him some of your special cinnamon rolls, Jenny." He sorted through the memos, none requiring his immediate attention. "Anything I need to know about?"

 

"The TV news announced Danny's release."

 

"Blast!"

 

"Leaks will be tough to stop, Steve," Chin said, "Coconut wireless picks up everything."

 

"Then we better be extra careful. I don't want anyone knowing where Danno is until Tao is in a cell."

 

"None of Tao's friends are talking. No informants want to say anything. They're afraid of Kumu. Word on the street says Tomi Mano --"

 

"The shark?"

 

"Yeah. He's pals with the Kapilis."

 

McGarrett ruminated on the information. The 'shark' was a local muscle man for Kumu, a favorite of Kumu boss Pahoa and the second banana Tony Alika. The hood's name, and deadly reputation, made his nickname an obvious choice. Mano, suspected of several murders, covered his tracks by eliminating loose ends. So far Five-0 could make nothing stick.

 

McGarrett tapped his knuckles on the desk. "Then we'll have to squeeze Pahoa. Have HPD start a general crack down on Kumu operations. Dice games, con ploys, cockfights --any hustle Kumu is connected with. If we put the heat on Pahoa, maybe he'll give us Tao to get us off his back."

 

"Maybe," was Kelly's doubtful response. Pressuring Kumu could backfire and cause the mob to strike back at Five-0 and HPD. Then there would be even more trouble. Anyway he looked at it, this head-to-head between McGarrett and Pahoa was bad news.

 

The phone rang and Jenny answered it. She released a quiet gasp and turned to McGarrett.

 

"What?" he asked.

 

"It's he!" she whispered.

 

McGarrett ordered a trace. His staff rushed to obey and he started a tape recorder jacked into the phone. He seized the receiver and barked, "Kapili! Where are you?"

 

"Blood for blood, McGarrett. Williams must die! Flames and ash and blood. Tell me where the coward hides or I will destroy all of you --and your heiau -- to get to him!"

 

"The only person about to be destroyed is you, Kapili! Turn yourself in -- "

 

The phone went dead. He looked up at Chin, just coming through the door and shaking his head. Slamming the phone down so hard it skidded to the floor, Steve then plowed his balled fist onto the desk. "We're going to get him, I promise you."

 

 

*****

 

The old weather-worn, wooden door splintered under the assault of Kono's powerful kick. Overlooking the North Shore, the small shack was little more than a one-room garage. Old tapa cloth covered the plaster board walls. Two narrow cots were pushed under the two small back windows. Two surf boards were propped in the corner. Chin, Kono and three HPD officers took in the details at a glance. Their attention was riveted to a small table in the corner where rifles, handguns and knives were precariously crisscrossed on the floor. On the table top were snippets of wires and other paraphernalia of bomb construction.

 

"Looks like they want to start a war," Chin commented as he carefully surveyed the items.

 

"They already did," was Kono's glum reply.

 

After ordering one of the officers to send for a lab crew, Chin studied the arsenal, shaking his head as he looked over the items. "Something's wrong."

 

Kono looked at the deadly weapons, studying without touching. "What?"

 

"It took us a few days to find this shack."

 

Kono shrugged. "It's Tomi Mano's place. We don't even know if Tao was here."

 

"He's been here," Chin nodded knowingly. The weaponry and bomb equipment pointed to the Kapili penchant for explosive violence. The rifles, he guessed, would belong to Mano. "Why did Tao leave all this firepower? Why did he leave the evidence for us to find?" He looked at his colleague with a dark expression. "Why did he abandon this?"

 

"He's been underground, hiding," one of the officers offered.

 

Sifting through the papers on the table, Kono shook his head, knowing the answers without knowing why. "No, Tao is not a scared animal on the run. He is a man with a mission."

 

He showed the others leaflets proclaiming Hawaiian rights and a return to old religions and ancient ways. It was a call to arms against anyone opposing this return to the roots of their heritage. Several books were piled among the papers and Kono groaned as he read the titles in Hawaiian. He explained they were about the legends and myths of Hawaiian society before the arrival of the Christian missionaries. The history chronicled a time when alii ruled the land with total authority. The book was opened to a chapter explaining the various methods of punishment for crimes against alii.

 

"Tao is consumed by the old ways," the Hawaiian told them. "His vengeance will be in some ancient method."

 

"A blood vow," Chin agreed solemnly. "I don't think he cares that we find all this." He looked at his big Hawaiian friend, his tone reflecting the grave realization they shared. "He doesn't care what happens to himself, now. His life is only for vengeance."

 

"He won't stop until he kills Danny."

 

*****

 

With desultory lethargy, Kono pushed his coffee cup around in a circle until the moisture rings on the desk created multiple designs. He had been on the streets rousting contacts from Hotel Street to Pearl City. No one wanted to talk to Five-0. If a local hood was going to take heat from Five-0 or the Kumu, any of the punks would prefer to go to jail rather than go against the mob. It had caused a nerve-wracking two weeks for the forces of law and order. No one on the rock was willing to snitch on Tao Kapili. He had disappeared.

 

Making the situation worse was an instinctive certainty that this stalemate would not be allowed to last. One of the pigheaded players in the drama would do something stupid to alter the balance of suspense. Kono was sure it would be McGarrett or Danny. Their patience was not endless, and both had about reached the end of their limit for non-action. He had a bad feeling about this whole mess. Twice in the last two days, Danny had called him to convince McGarrett to let Dan come in from the cold and work out another plan. Translation: Williams' appeals to Steve had been frequent and useless. Kono sighed, promising himself a long vacation on another island when this was over. His nerves couldn't take all this strain.

 

"So this is how you slack off when I'm out of the way!"

 

Kono jumped at the interruption, spilling some of the coffee on the desk. He looked up at Williams in the doorway of the cubicle. "Danny! What are you doing here?"

 

"Coming to the mountain," a reply solid with determination. He gestured toward McGarrett's office. "Is he in?"

 

"Yeah," Kono sighed. The inevitable clash was seconds away. "Good luck," was all he could offer, thankful that Williams closed the door behind after he willingly walked into the lion's den.

 

*****

 

There was no other way to deliver a surprise attack except by frontal assault. Williams quietly entered his boss' office and stepped up to the desk. Steve's back was turned as he swiveled in his chair and talked on the phone. After a moment he turned around and saw Williams. For a few seconds he was frozen with surprise. Then anger quickly swept away all other emotions. He made a hasty excuse to the caller and hung up the phone.

 

"I couldn't take it anymore, Steve," Dan forestalled the obvious rebuke. "It's no good hiding, hoping something will happen. Tao has gone to ground. There's only one way to get him out into the open again."

 

"Using you as bait?" Steve answered as he came to his feet. "No way, Danno --"

 

"Steve, this is accomplishing nothing."

 

"Neither will your death!"

 

"We can out-think Tao, Steve. He's not smarter than us. With the right plan, the right protection, we can lure him out on our turf, on our timing. It's the only way we'll get him."

 

"It's too dangerous!" At Williams' smoldering expression he continued the offensive, hoping to break down his opponent. "You're still on sick leave. You're in no shape coming back to work, even under normal circumstances!" The tone was unnecessarily harsh, but he wanted his point delivered with all finality. "You certainly can't take care of yourself if Tao corners you again! Tomi Mano's involved in this, too, now!""

 

The new intelligence gave him pause. "Great," he sighed, only momentarily distracted. "So what are we going to do, Steve? Let me stew? For how long? With or without Mano, as long as I'm the one hiding, Tao wins!"

 

"And if he kills you, he wins, too, Danno," was McGarrett's heartfelt dread.

 

The logic of Williams' argument was undeniable. He had agreed with the sensible debate for the past week, but his anxiety for Dan's safety overrode logic and sense, so the second-in-command of Five-0 had remained at beach-front isolation. Obviously Williams could not tolerate the combined irritations of inaction and the threat over his head. McGarrett, meanwhile, had been operating on the very elemental motivation of fear. That was no way to run a police unit. It was no way to treat his friend. Theirs was a dangerous profession. Sometimes he had to weigh the risks with reason. Frequently, the decision did not pleased him, but as a cop, sometimes he had no choice. This time, as a cop and as a friend, he had no choice. Danno was right about everything. They could not hide forever. Tao was out-waiting them. Williams was also right that they were smarter than Tao. They could turn things around and use this opportunity for the hunter to become the prey. All they needed was to risk Dan's life.

 

"And if we don't take the risk, what do we do? I can't go on hiding, Steve. I need to be back here doing something."

 

McGarrett released a sigh of frustration. "I know. I need you back here."

 

"Especially after Kono's been taking my place."

 

McGarrett surrendered a humorless grin at the joke. "Okay, Danno, we'll give it a try your way. What I'm afraid of is we'll only get one chance, one way or the other."

 

Sobered, Dan released a breath of anxiety. "I know."

 

*****

 

From Dan's open window he could see the afternoon sun glistening off a nearby highrise. Always a dream to live right next to his beloved moana, his ocean, he was finally feeling like his world was approaching perfect. In a few more months he could afford to move to the beach somewhere. Then he was saving for a convertible to trade in for that old Fairlane. With his next pay raise maybe. If he lived that long.

 

Just another day in paradise, Dan sighed. Another day cooling his heels and accomplishing nothing. He had returned to his apartment three days before and the waiting now was as bad as the stagnancy at the safehouse. Here he was an open target, doing something risky, but necessary. Tao Kapiili was cagey and akamai -- very smart. He could outwait them for weeks or years if he wanted to. Then somewhere, sometime, he would strike from the shadows and hit his target with ease.

 

The knock at the door startled him and he only breathed again when he heard Kono's voice. He unlocked and opened the door, surprised that Kono brought a grey-haired man built as sturdily as Kalakaua.

 

"My Uncle Puna Malakai."

 

"The Kahuna?"

 

"He wants to tell you something."

 

They sat down in the living room with the fresh breeze sweeping through the apartment. The somberness of the Kahuna was spooky, Kono's unusual gravity was unnerving. Dan would have liked to throw them out, but his innate politeness and intuition stayed an eviction. Those same instincts, rooted deep in the aina, the land, of his birth, touched his conscience in an elemental way that he could not fathom. The threats to his life had started because of imagined violations of the old ways. Perhaps only the old ways could save him now.

 

Puna requested an explanation of the dreams continuing to plague the officer. Williams sketchily related the images of lava, fire, ashes, Tao shouting and a heiau covered in blood and ash. With some prodding, Dan recounted what quotes and phrases he recalled from the recurring nightmares and Kapili's attack.

 

"Kapili, strong old ohana. Boys, Tao, he and Lani twisted the old legends. They want haoles out of Hawaii so they make up legends to suit themselves. There is a movement coming, Danny Williams, to get back our land. The old Gods will give us back the land if we are righteous. Easy to misinturpret the ways of Gods. Kapili brothers making up their own rules and thinking they from old Gods. This threat is all mixed up! But Tao believes it and that's a problem for you."

 

"What does that have to do with me?"

 

Malakai stared into his eyes. "It is your destiny to understand this, son of the aina."

 

Skeptically, Dan glanced at Kono, then back to the kahuna. "What about the nightmares?"

 

Puna gravely pondered the images, promising an interpretation in a few days.

 

"What can you tell me now?" Dan asked.

 

"There is a shadow on your path." The older man looked into his eyes, but Dan sensed --imagined -- the man looked into the future. "The path is red with blood."

 

He could feel the sweat trickle down the side of his face. "Whose blood? Mine?"

 

"The blood is yours, yes."

 

Dan fought down the chill climbing his spine and clutching his throat.

 

Kono, disturbed at the message, intervened. "How can we stop his blood being spilled?"

 

The Kahuna shook his head. "Blood for blood."

 

"What do you mean? Kapili won't give up? We already guessed that." It was impossible to keep the bitterness from Dan's tone. "He's pupule!"

 

"Crazy?" Puna repeated. "Think so. Want to kill you? Positive. He has distorted the old ways. He is wrong, but still dangerous to you."

 

"There must be a way to save Danny's life," Kono asked.

 

Malakai nodded. "That is why I have come. I know the blood vow will not be broken. But it cannot be fulfilled anywhere but the sacred ground of the heiau."

 

"But Kapili came after me in the hospital."

 

"Your blood must be spilled on the heiau," was the cryptic reply.

 

"Then I stay away from any heiau," Dan responded lightly, but knew that the answer could not be that simple.

 

"You must stay away from any sacred ground. Much of the aina is sacred in the eyes of the ancients."

 

"What does that mean, Uncle? He needs to leave the islands?"

 

"It is the safest sanctuary."

 

The leaden weight of confirmation pressed on Williams' heart. He probably, intuitively, knew this simple truth all along. If Kapili would not stop until he was dead, then he had to leave.

 

"Won't Kapili follow me?"

 

"His brother's spirit is not appeased until your blood has washed the altar of the heiau. Sacred ground is here. " Malakai stared into Dan's eyes, searching. Finally, he spoke. "A blood vow can only end in death. If you are not here, you will not be killed."

 

Dan and Kono exchanged solemn looks. It was the last solution anyone wanted to accept.

 

*****

 

It was almost sunset when McGarrett finished his review of the file for a case he would testify for in the morning. A quick reexamination of the facts was always a good idea before sitting in the witness stand. Today it was necessary because his mind was not focused on a drug dealer arrested months ago. His mind was still focused on Tao Kapili and Dan Williams.

 

For two days he had personally worked on the stakeout at Dan's apartment. Tao had never shown. McGarrett felt the trap was too obvious and Tao would never come out for the bait. If that suspicion was correct, then what was their alternative? Let Dan back on full duty? There was no way to protect him on a daily basis during his work as a cop. Tao could strike any time or place. He could take out innocent victims when he struck. That was not an option McGarrett would allow. What was left?

 

He didn't know yet. He would have to get creative or lucky very soon. Tao could cool his heels indefinitely. Nothing could be farther from the truth for Danno. Disgusted with the dilemma, Steve put away the file and closed the office. He would go out to the apartment and talk with Danno. Maybe between them they could come up with something better than what they were doing.

 

In the dusky-gray of twilight, the Palace grounds were lit by the muted shades. The bright contrasts of the tropical scene took on soft tones of shadows and reflected, diminished light. Dusk brought a much-needed cooling to the heatwave, making it almost balmy. Traffic was sparse on the downtown streets surrounding the grounds.

 

McGarrett backed his car out of the parking space and headed for the King Street exit. He heard the rumble of the car before he saw, in the rear-view mirror, the light colored sedan race across the lawn in front of the Palace and onto the driveway. The Five-0 Mercury was almost to the street. With only a second to react, McGarrett slammed on the accelerator and swung the big car to the right, trying to clear the thick stone gateposts on the side of the drive. Without enough room or speed, the big car couldn't negotiate the turn and the rear fender hit the stone pillar. Almost instantly, the sedan plowed into the rear of the car.

 

Dazed from the impact, McGarrett struggled to clear his head. More on instinct than purpose, he pushed at the door. Jammed. He slid across to the passenger door and exited, falling to the cool grass. Unable to balance higher than his knees, he edged away from the car, realizing the danger from the odor of gasoline. Overwhelmed by the dizziness he rolled away from the car until he was stopped by an obstruction.

 

A man loomed over him with a knife. Before he could react, the blade descended and swept across his temple. Warm blood trickled down his face and into his ear. Staring up at Tao Kapili, expecting to be killed, Steve tensed for a fight with an ominous opponent.

 

"This is a warning," the man decreed harshly. "Blood for blood. Williams will die. Fire and ash at his heiau. Let him come and face his destiny."

 

Then the man was gone, dispersed like a shadow. McGarrett rubbed at his eyes and slowly moved to look around the rapidly darkening grounds. There was no sign of anyone. Behind him, the two cars erupted in a cacophonous explosion that shook the ground and blazed like a nova. Debris flew around him, grateful he was mostly out of reach of the dangerous chunks of burning metal. Eyes closed, shaking with adrenaline and fear, he surrendered to the natural physical reaction catching up with his nerves. He could have been killed. No, Tao did not want him dead -- only wanted Danno's life. He felt no comfort or gratitude at the distinction.

 

*****

 

"Head injuries are nothing to slough off, Mr. McGarrett." The young intern in the emergency room was conscientious and thorough. He was too inexperienced to fully appreciate the difference between textbook medicine and life in the real world. He was also new to the phenomenon of Steve McGarrett as a patient. The head of Five-0 was educating the naive young man on both counts.

 

Steve slid off the gurney, still holding the gauze to his face. "Will this require stitches, or are you going to bandage it? I haven't got all night, doctor."

 

The young man opted for a bandage. "I want you to stay overnight for observation," he ordered as he finished. "I don't like your continued dizzy spe --"

 

"Steve!" Williams exclaimed as he swept into the room. "Are you all right?"

 

"What is this --?"

 

"Danno, I told Chin not to let you out in the open."

 

"Doesn't look like I'm the target this time, does it?"

 

The words were harsh, edged by anger and distress. Not at each other, but at the knowledge they had badly miscalculated with near fatal results.

 

"I want you out of the way --"

 

"So more of my friends can get injured? Or you can get killed because of me, Steve?"

 

The intern sidled between them with the foolhardy recklessness of youth. "Excuse me, but I am tending to my patient."

 

"Stay out of this, doctor. Sign me out." It was not a question, it was an order. McGarrett did not wait for a reply. He walked to a chair and retrieved his coat.

 

"Steve, you should stay," Dan advised. "Maybe you should listen --"

 

"I'm fine," McGarrett insisted as he carefully shouldered into his jacket with Dan's reluctant assistance.

 

There were aches just beginning to make themselves known. By morning he would be a mass of stiff and sore body parts, but tonight he needed to stay on his feet long enough to come to some sort of resolution. They needed to move fast now or they would lose whatever they might be able to discover from Tao's brief emergence.

 

"Well, I guess we know what Tao meant about the fire and ash."

 

He faced Williams, subdued by the genuine concern in his friend's face. "Yeah. It's still the blood for blood that worries me."

 

"Me, too. That still doesn't mean I'm the only one he's going to hurt, we've seen that now. Everyone I'm close to could be a target --"

 

"I'm fine, really," Steve repeated. He put a hand on Dan's shoulder. "Let's get back to the office. We'll stop at Nick's for some fresh mahimahi to go. We've got a long night ahead."

 

Before the young intern offered another protest, the two officers strode out of the room, already putting medical advice and caution behind them.

 

*****

 

"This is one cagey mongoose," Chin sighed as he entered McGarrett's office. "Tao has lots of friends. Even my relatives can't get a straight story on where he might be hiding."

 

It was still early morning, but the warm sunshine streaming through the lanai doors already made the room humid. It had been a long night, with McGarrett, Kono and Kelly refusing to go home, so the creative energy level now was nearly nonexistent. Sometime after midnight McGarrett ordered Williams home, under guard, so the officer could rest, still recuperating from his wounds, which he tended to forget. The parting had been strained; Dan on edge from the attack on his friend, and the deadly threats to himself. McGarrett's tension stemmed from Dan's insistence at coming back to work when he was in danger from Kapili and not really recovered from his injuries.

 

A commotion in the front office warned of an impending interruption and McGarrett opened the door. Kahuna Malakai, complete with traditional robes of office, stood in the midst of secretaries and reporters, chanting Hawaiian phrases McGarrett could not comprehend.

 

"What is this?" he demanded, confronting the intruders.

 

Kono moved to offer hasty introductions between his uncle and his boss. The reporters avidly recorded every word. Malakai explained he had been invited, by the reporters, to reveal to the head of Five-0, his efforts on behalf of the police organization and Williams. Malakai had been to the heiau where Lani Kapili had been killed. The blood vow had received marked attention. Even though Tao's fervent vow was not really in keeping with true ancient ceremonies, the kahuna predicted Williams' bleak destiny of sacrifice on the altar of revenge. Finally, Malakai pronounced a blessing on Five-0 and Williams, hoping to lessen the impact of ritual vengeance promised by Tao Kapili and the ancient gods. Malakai had gone to Pu'uloa, the ancient and sacred place of spirits that was better known as Pearl Harbor. The spirits were troubled.

 

"Enough!" McGarrett barked. "I want all of you out! This is a police office, not a circus! Tao Kapili is going to be arrested and put in jail for a long time. He isn't going to kill anyone."

 

"You're right," a voice confirmed from the main door.

 

Everyone turned as Williams wove through the crowd to stand beside McGarrett.

 

Questions were shouted at the young officer, but he ignored the probing jabs and taunts of the press. His attention was on his superior.

 

"As long as I'm around, Kapili will be after my blood. Unfortunately, Kapili could easily hit anyone in the office; any friend, any detective, any secretary," he stated, looking around the office at his colleagues. His gaze came to rest on McGarrett. "I can't have that on my conscience, Steve. I don't like to run away from problems, but this is the only way out for all of us." He reached into his jacket pocket and handed his badge case and revolver into the hands of the stunned chief of Five-0. "I'm leaving the islands until Kapili is captured." His expression clearly revealed the doubt and agony of his decision. "I'm sorry, Steve," was his inadequate apology. "Goodbye."

 

The main flock of reporters rushed after Williams. Only a few remained to badger the shocked Five-0 leader. Shouldering the pests out of the way, Kono literally pushed them out of the room, while Chin directed McGarrett to the sanctuary of his office. Steve crossed to the lanai and from the doorway watched as Williams pulled his white Ford out of a parking space and away from the hive of agitated media predators.

 

"He's gone," he announced flatly.

 

Chin came up behind him and observed as Kono's sedan left the grounds by a different gate than Williams'.

 

McGarrett opened the case in his hands and studied the Five-0 badge and I.D. belonging to his friend.

 

"Don't worry, boss," Chin reassured, responding to the leader's silent anxieties of the reckless gamble. "Danny'll be okay."

 

McGarrett tucked the revolver and case into a jacket pocket. "It's out of my hands. About all I can do now is pray you're right, Chin. And hope my prayers are stronger than Tao's."

 

*****

 

The pounding knocks at the door rattled the pictures on the wall. Williams smiled as he stood to one side. "I wonder who this is?"

 

"Who do you think?" growled McGarrett.

 

Dan opened the door. "What took you so long? I expected you sooner than this."

 

"Traffic." McGarrett placed the Five-0 badge case and the .38 revolver on the nearest table. "You're officially reinstated, Officer Williams."

 

"The shortest retirement in history," Dan joked. The levity did not impress his boss and he sobered. "Steve, don't worry, this is going to work out fine. I just hope it convinces Kapili."

 

McGarrett grimaced. "It convinced me."

 

On the bright side, Dan countered, "The media was certainly fooled."

 

Still sour, he snapped, "That doesn't take much." Taking a quick peak out the window by the door, he turned to stare at his friend, doubt and concern emanating from him like a cloud.

 

Offering reassurance, Dan observed, "They believe anything if you package it right. In case anyone checks, I've already made a reservation for an 11AM flight to LA." Mindful of his still painful wounds, Dan gingerly sank onto the sofa, offering his colleague to help himself to anything in the fridge. "Everyone, including Tao, should think I'm running."

 

"And we'll be right there with you."

 

Hiding a grin of amused appreciation, Dan tried to intone his voice with proper gratitude. "I know you will, Steve. I'm not worried.

 

"I am. Tao is a maniac with a mission. To kill you."

 

"Not something I've forgotten, believe me." To defuse the agitated boss, Dan requested some juice. McGarrett silently complied.

 

"I thought Puna Malakai did a great bit of acting."

 

"Overacting," Steve corrected, but almost smiled at the memory. "I wonder what he'll feed the press after this is all over."

 

"I'm sure he'll think of something good. He's got his reputation on the line."

 

"There's more important things on the line here, Danno. Like your life," was the sober reminder Steve gave his young colleague.

 

The staged pretense of Dan quitting Five-0, for the benefit of the press, seemed to work so far. Now Kapili would be desperate to get his target before Williams escaped the islands. It was Dan's idea, reluctantly agreed to by McGarrett, providing Williams remained under surveillance every minute after his exit from the Palace. Still not pleased by the dangerous ploy, McGarrett knew it was the best way to get Kapili to come out in the open and be captured. The problem was the bait had to be Danno.

 

McGarrett pulled a handi-talkie from his pocket and explained, "It's set to channel one. Your watchdogs downstairs are the only ones using this frequency. Periodically they'll check in." McGarrett paced. "We'll be on you like glue, Danno." Over the speaker came various comments from officers as they reported in from concealed locations around the apartment building. The next day, when Williams' highly publicized departure took place, the plain-clothes units would assure he was almost never out of sight. Reluctantly agreeing to the trap, McGarrett hedged his bets by assuring a heavy force of invisible manpower protecting his friend.

 

A knock at the door startled them both. McGarrett drew his revolver and pressed his back against the wall. He motioned for Williams to stand on the opposite side of the door.

 

"Who is it?" Dan called.

 

"It's me, man, don't worry," Kono announced.

 

Williams opened the door, surprised Kahuna Malakai was with the detective. McGarrett took a glance down the walkway before locking the door. The others settled on the sofa while he paced.

 

"I have answers for you, Officer Williams," Puna told them. "Your dream."

 

"The blood and fire and stuff." He gave a nod toward McGarrett. "Could be the car bombing. And the stuff about the heiau . . . ." Williams shrugged it off.

 

Puna somberly shook his head. "When Tao foretold a heiau, that is what he meant."

 

"Where Lani was killed?"

 

"No your heiau. A sacred place for you."

 

"I don't go to church --"

 

"A sacred place may not be a church. It is an important place. A special place."

 

"Try to remember his threats, Danny," Kono urged. "Exactly what he said."

 

Williams closed his eyes in concentration. Again he recited the litany of intimidation. Theorizing the destruction of the cars at the Palace covered the threats, he failed to discover more clues from his narration. Puna Malakai advised him to ponder the mystery, believing the answer still existed in Tao's words.

 

After Kono and his uncle left, McGarrett paced a line from one end of the couch to the other and back again. Dan stared at the dark shadows of wind-blown trees silhouetted against the moonlight. Concentrating with such focus on his memories, he jumped when Steve touched his shoulder.

 

"What?"

 

"Give it a rest, Danno. It'll come to you."

 

Dan shook his head. "He's right, Steve. Tao's got a plan. He's warned me all along and I'm not bright enough to figure it out."

 

"We will, Danno. Let's fix some dinner and talk it over. We'll thresh it out."

 

"You're staying?"

 

"Of course." He jerked a thumb at the couch. "Right here."

 

Knowing it was a losing argument, Williams nonetheless tried reasoning with his boss. "Steve, I'll be okay. You don't have to stay. The place is probably surrounded with plainclothes cops."

 

"It is. And one more won't hurt."

 

McGarrett displayed his cooking skills with a hasty, but tasty dinner with the meager contents of Williams' bachelor kitchen. Various theories of Hawaiian symbolism and history took them through the meal and dessert. Both agreed they may never discern the solution to the cryptic words before Tao struck again. They also concurred that even in his fanaticism Kapili's madness held method.

 

"He didn't want to kill you at the Palace," Dan stated as he swirled a spoon in his coffee. "That was to get your attention. He wants something else. More violence."

 

"My instincts tell me that too," Steve agreed. "Another bombing? There were missing explosives, like the ones used for the bomb at the Kamehameha Day parade. That would fit his MO."

 

"Seems like a lifetime ago," Williams sighed, realizing only a few weeks had gone by since the start of the trail of vengeance. Under normal circumstances he would be back on light duty and fulfilling his obligations at the office.

 

"Maybe he'll try to lure you to a heiau," McGarrett thought aloud. "He's obsessed with sacred symbols."

 

" 'Your heiau,' Kapili said!" Dan blurted out. "I remember. That's a quote, Steve. 'Your heiau will be fire and ash.' "

 

"Your apartment maybe?" McGarrett speculated aloud. "No, that doesn't qualify. Something sacred. A heiau is a special place." On his feet again, he paced the floor in rapid strides.

 

"Do you think he meant me personally, or maybe just haoles? Or all non-Hawaiians? "

 

McGarrett stopped and faced his friend. "What do you think, Danno? You were the target of his threats."

 

Williams rubbed at his eyes. "I don't know, Steve. I just can't think anymore."

 

McGarrett glanced at the clock. "Good reason. It's after midnight." He took Dan by the arm. "Let me think this through. You need to get some sleep if you still want to still go through with this." It was more a hopeful suggestion than a question.

 

"To catch wily prey you need good bait, Steve. It's my blood that Tao wants."

 

"I still don't like it."

 

No other option would work as effectively as using Dan as a sacrificial lamb. Circumstances forced McGarrett to accept the dangerous ruse, but he would never like it. If something went wrong . . . well, he would never forgive himself.

 

"Steve, you'd do the same thing if our positions were reversed," Williams argued. It had not been easy to convince his friend to go along with the dangerous plan. It took a lot for Steve to put his men at risk. "Look, I'm even more anxious than you to keep my head. But I can't live with Kapili waiting in the shadows to sacrifice me to the gods. I can't let him hurt you -- kill you -- or anyone else trying to get to me. This will work."

 

"It better," McGarrett sighed. "I don't want to look for a replacement for real."

 

He picked up Dan's badge case and studied the gold Five-0 shield. He wished it could afford the literal protection of a plate of armor, but it was in truth only a symbol. A representation of a position that was only as respected as the officer behind the badge. Danno was the best man he knew to carry this shield, and he wasn't about to let anything happen to his friend. Heaven and Hell would be battled to make sure Dan was not sacrificed for any reason.

 

"It better work, Danno."

 

____________________________________________________

 

Flames surfed atop the bubbling lava flowing from the volcano.

 

"heiau . . . "

 

Ash rained on his face and the sky washed gray. Silence muffled the world.

 

"Fire . . ."

 

Pele slowly rose from the magma, her hair red-fire.

 

In the wavy heat her face transformed to Tao Kapili.

 

Without moving his lips words echoed in his ears.

 

"ashes . . . "

 

Hot Rain spilled on his face. Red rain.

 

"blood . . . "

 

Blood frothed in a viscid, undulating ocean of scarlet inferno.

 

"YOUR heiau . . . . "

 

The sanguine gore streamed over Iolani Palace, melting the white building into a puddle of course, gray ash.

 

___________________________________________________

 

A breath caught in his throat as his eyes snapped open. Seconds passed before consciousness, awareness caught up with waking. Gulping for air, Dan sat up, regaining his bearings and rubbing his face. This was his bedroom, his apartment. Sunlight sifted through the gaps in the curtains. No volcano spewed blood, no Pele threatened the Palac --

 

Groaning with painful realization, he abruptly understood Tao's threats and the vivid images of his dream. Kapili carried out his threats with bombs. 'YOUR HEIAU' -- the sacred site of Five-0, of Williams and the other officers, an edifice symbolizing everything Tao hated. It was a mistake to assume the car fire would be the only attack at the Palace. Tao wanted to destroy the haole cops nearly as much as he wanted to wash his hands in Williams' blood.

 

Grabbing the phone, he hastily dialed. With minimum damage to his still tender wounds he struggled to dress while waiting for the phone to be answered. Almost nineAM. Nearly an hour before the scheduled caravan to the airport.

 

"McGarrett."

 

"Steve, Kapili's going to bomb the Palace!"

 

"What?"

 

"The heiau -- my heiau -- the place that's important to me!" Williams' shouted urgently. "The symbol of everything he hates. The haole cops taking over what belongs to Hawaiians! Get out of there, Steve! Now!"

 

"I'll call the bomb squad and --"

 

"Just get out! Now!"

 

"All right."

 

The connection clicked closed. Dan finished dressing. Already sore from the excursion, but ignoring the pain, he gathered his revolver, badge and a walkie-talkie.

 

"This is Williams. Who's my watchdog?"

 

"That would be me, Ben Kokua, Danny."

 

"Okay, Ben, I'll be down in a few minutes. We're heading for the Palace."

 

"But the plan -- "

 

"Things have changed. There's an emergency at Five-0 and we're going."

 

Stepping out in the morning sun toward the carport, Dan marveled at Ben Kokua's excellent abilities of concealment. Even his concentrated scan of the area revealed no plainclothes officers. As he slipped his key into the lock of his Ford Farlaine, he determined to give the HPD boys a congratulatory round of drinks for the expert stakeout. The lock clicked open and a detonation of light, sound and heat blasted his consciousness into darkness.

 

*****

 

Befitting the state police headquarters, Iolani Palace personnel evacuated the building with orderly and alert proficiency. HPD bomb squad officers combed the building, starting in key locations such as McGarrett's office and the basement, then working their way through the old edifice room by room.

 

Agitated at the personal attack against his home base, Steve paced the front steps of the Palace. This bothered him and he tried to dissect the suspicions as he stayed on top of the situation. Every few minutes he pressured Sergeant Sammy Ho, team leaders of the bomb squad, for updates. Sammy Ho diplomatically relayed progress on the search while continually reminding the Five-0 chief that the HPD men could and would handle the crisis successfully. No people or historic sites would come to grief on his watch, he promised.

 

As McGarrett paced, he brooded on the surprise strike right here at the Palace. A bomb at the heart of the enemy camp was Tao's MO. Evading security continued to be Kapili's ace. Kono and some officers were checking the area for Kapili, witnesses, or evidence of a break-in, but Steve expected them to find nothing. Tao was probably long gone. To where? The other enemy -- Dan Williams. Striding to the nearest squad car, he placed a call to dispatch, fighting down the chill gripping his chest.

 

"Steve!" Sammy Ho called from the top of the steps. "We found it!"

 

McGarrett waved Chin over and asked him to contact Dan to make sure everything was all right at the apartment.

 

The team located a single, but deadly explosive device under the main koa wood staircase leading to the second floor. Set to detonate at tenAM, the devastation never came to fruition. At nine-thirty-eightAM the bomb squad defused the high explosive and gave the okay to McGarrett to open the building again.

 

Relief flooded McGarrett as he sighed a grateful thanks to Sammy Ho. He told Jenny to get the staff back into the office and try to get back to business. Spotting Chin at the squad car, still talking on the mic, he crossed the parking lot. Scanning the crowd, half-expecting to see Williams, he was glad Dan chose not to place himself in unnecessary danger. Now he focused on the immediate task of the motorcade to the airport. He would assign Chin to look into the bomb angle, but expected to catch Tao in their trap with the ruse of Dan leaving the island.

 

"Chin, is that Danno on the other end?"

 

Kelly solemnly shook his head. "I couldn't reach Danny or Ben Kokua, who's on stake out." He took a breath, clearly bracing for the next statement. "Dispatch says someone's called in an explosion at that address. Fire, ambulance and HPD are responding."

 

"Let's go!"

 

They ran to McGarrett's sedan. Hardly aware of the motions of driving through a haze of anger and anguish, he savagely berated himself for falling for the cunning ruse. Smug that they would nab their man this morning, the counter-attack caught him all too well. Tao hated Five-0, but Danno always remained the main target. How could he lose sight of that? His mistake had probably cost him his friend's life and McGarrett could blame no one but himself.

 

Racing through the streets Steve demanded details unavailable to the dispatcher. Finally HPD Sergeant Duke Lukela connected with the irate chief. The report knocked Steve off-balance again. Ben Kokua and two other officers were found unconscious at various locations around the apartment. Dan's car still burned from a small bomb explosion. There was no immediate sign of any remains in the car, or Williams anywhere around the crime scene.

 

Steve could hardly form the words. "You mean no -- no body?"

 

"No, Steve, no body. The blast was rigged for the lock on the door, not the engine. Danny was on the outside of the car. He might still be alive. There's blood here on the concrete, but it doesn't look like a lot."

 

McGarrett glanced at Kelly. "Then he's got Danno."

 

"Why not kill him with the bomb?"

 

Gritting his jaw, McGarrett abruptly swung the car into a turn and headed toward Waikiki. Calling dispatch again, he ordered a chopper to meet him at the Ala Wai helipad. Then he ordered full tactical squads up to the heiau on the Waianae coast.

 

"Just like before, Chin. He doesn't want to just kill Danno. He wants his blood to atone for his brother's. I just hope we're on time."

 

Screeching to a stop at the beachside helipad, Steve prayed. To the ancient and modern gods of policemen, he implored he was guessing right and he would find Danno in time to save his life.

 

*****

 

When Dan opened his eyes, the visual disorientation was as severe as his hazy mental memories. Laying across the back seat of an old, rattling car, he could see sky and clouds out the open window. He wasn't sure how he got here. The last thing he remembered was heading for the apartment garage. It was a mystery how he ended up in the back seat of a car with his hands bound behind his back and too many aches and pains to categorize as they bounced along a rugged, dusty road. What he was certain about was the identity of the driver and the fate awaiting him at the end of the journey.

 

"Tao!" No response. "Tao, I shot your brother in self-defense. You were there! You know that!"

 

He coughed out the dust in his lungs, trying to concentrate beyond the splitting headache that was exacerbated with each jostle. His side was moist from his reopened wound. Sweat dripped down his face and he wiped his forehead on his shirt. Only then did he realize the moisture he felt was blood. He was afraid it would not be the only loss he would suffer.

 

The car skidded to a stop and Tao wrestled Williams from the car. The one-sided battle cost Dan every bit of energy he possessed. By the time they scrambled across the rough rocks of the outer heiau, it was all he could do to stay conscious. He felt there was something more heroic he should do to fight back; something profound and brave he should say. There was nothing he could think of to stop his death. Mercifully, his vision was closing into a grey mist and thankfully he would not be conscious for the coup de grace'. The ancient Hawaiians could be pretty gruesome in their methods of murder. Skull bashing being the top of the hit list as he recalled. Somehow he had not envisioned his illustrious career as the second in command of Five-0 finishing like this.

 

Tao dragged him to the stone altar and Dan determined not to go meekly like a lamb to the slaughter. He kicked out his feet and caught the muscular Hawaiian in the chest. Using the rock edifice as leverage, Dan struggled to his feet and shouldered into Kapili as the man charged him. Tao was knocked out of breath and sank to his knees. Dan, off balance, fell against the shrine. The grey mist returned as he felt his head smack onto the flat stones atop the altar. He could hear angels' wings beating nearby, could feel the flurry of air as they whipped to his side for a last aloha.

 

"Tao! Don't do it!" McGarrett leaped from the chopper. "Move and I'll kill you, Kapili!"

 

The Hawaiian stood next to the heiau, a rough-hewn club in his upraised hands. McGarrett continually advanced, his revolver trained on the criminal. Tao raised his arms higher. McGarrett pulled the trigger. Four shots rang out. Kapili staggered back, falling from the altar onto the dirt. Quickly Steve covered the last few feet and cautiously checked for a pulse on Tao's neck. Kapili was dead. Almost as a superstitious precaution, he removed the club from the dead hands. Only then could he turns his attention to Williams.

 

Dan's very still, bound form was draped over the platform. With trepidation, McGarrett checked for a pulse, relieved Dan was still alive. He eased the unconscious officer off of the stones and sank down to the dirt with his friend protectively resting in his arms.

 

*****

 

The first hint of a light shower of liquid sunshine sprayed across Dan's face. Williams looked over the bright blue water surging over the dark rocks at Ka'ena Point -- the departure point of souls. As a child he came up to these shores and watched the waves. As a youth he had surfed all along the North Shore and heard stories and legends from the Hawaiians he had grown up with. He knew all the old myths of the spirits and powers that hovered over these troubled waters. After his run-in with the Kapili brothers, the aged legends of gods and sacred sites took on a whole new meaning.

 

The hum of a motor came up from behind along with the sound of tires crunching on dirt and rocks. Unsurprised, he turned to wave a greeting to McGarrett, who joined him on the rocks.

 

"Watching the surf?"

 

"Something like that. Come out here to check up on me?"

 

"You are supposed to be resting, remember? "

 

"I am resting. Just sitting here isn't very taxing. How did you find me?"

 

"I'm a detective."

 

"A good one, too," Dan smiled and turned his attention back to the sea.

 

Sobering, McGarrett studied the roiling ocean. "A beautiful place."

 

"One of the nicest spots on the island." It was, in fact, just down the beach from the heiau where his life had changed and nearly ended. McGarrett had probably been there first to look for him, but he wasn't going to ask his friend to confirm that. The past was best left alone. At least this past. At least this incident. "You've heard the stories enough to know this is a powerful place."

 

"Yeah. Where the spirits depart this life. Thinking of the Kapili spirits?"

 

Dan shrugged. He may have scoffed at some of the old ways, especially as a rebellious teen, but he did grow up on this rock. He understood -- felt with a native comprehension -- the spiritual power of this sacred place.

 

"The Kapili's were misguided, twisted even, but Kumu-kahi has a strong sympathy for Hawaiians."

 

" 'Hawaii for the Hawaiians' is a profound rallying cry," McGarrett agreed. "I'm a wholehearted supporter of the idea. They're just going about it the wrong way. And they're letting Pahoa turn their sympathies into illegal avenues."

 

It seemed a long time since the Kamehameha Day festivities that had started the deadly encounter with the Kahillis. Both the brothers were dead and Five-0 had wounds to show they had won the confrontation at a price. Too much blood had been shed over misguided ideals and old wrongs. Perhaps they could put the knowledge to good use and counteract Kumu's grip on the native sympathies.

 

"Pahoa. We haven't heard the last of him."

 

"No, I'm sure we haven't," was Steve's sober conclusion. "But we're not going to worry about that today. It's a beautiful summer afternoon and it's too good to waste on the likes of mob bosses."

 

Williams scoffed. "Are you kidding? It's the middle of the day! What else is the head of Five-0 going to be doing?"

 

"Going with the second in command of Five-0," he announced, lightly slapping Dan on the arm.

 

"Going where?"

 

"Fishing."

 

Incredulous at the rarity of the event, Dan was not about to challenge the whim of the boss. This kind of invitation would not be repeated for another decade or two. He knew his friend was making the magnanimous gesture on his account and that made it all the more priceless.

 

"I know some great spots not far from here." He gestured at the boss's expensive suit. "You're a little overdressed for the fish. Or are you hoping they'll be attracted to your flashy taste in clothes?"

 

McGarrett scowled at the dig at his conservative suit. "I'll go home and change. I'll pick you up and take you to the boat."

 

"Your boat!" Dan groaned in mock horror. "I wanted to go fishing today, not later this year!"

 

"For someone on leave you're pushing your luck, Danno."

 

"I didn't refuse, did I? I have complete faith we'll make it out of the harbor this time."

 

McGarrett refused to rise to the bait as he walked to his car and Williams crossed to the passenger side. He asked how the injured officer managed to reach this isolated spot without a car. Dan explained he had hitched a ride with an off-duty HPD man surfing the North Shore for the day. Pretty soon he would have to search for a replacement car. Maybe a good deal on a convertible would drop in his lap.

 

"Mahalo," Dan said when they swung out on the highway.

 

"For the lift?"

 

"For coming after me." It was a thanks for the retrieval from solitary brooding on such a beautiful day. "For saving my life and never giving up no matter what the sacrifice. Mahalo."

 

McGarrett offered a salute and a smile. "Anytime, Danno." Some sacrifices were worth whatever price was asked.

 


  PAU