Sequel to:

AND THEY PAINTED DAISIES ON HIS COFFIN

And

THE BOX

Damaged Goods

by

GM

 


August 1971

 

 

Just as Steve McGarrett finished his stretching routine, prior to jogging, the phone rang. Frowning, he hesitated, knowing to answer it would mean an interruption in his morning exercise. Only something important would require a call to the head of Hawaii Five-0 at Six AM on a beautiful summer day. There was no option, of course, and by the second ring McGarrett picked up the receiver.

The voice on the other end identified himself as the desk duty sergeant at HPD. The officer reported he had just received a phone call from the warden of Oahu State Prison. Four inmates had escaped during the night. Details were sparse, but among the fugitive cons were two lifers put away by Five-0. The warden was requesting immediate assistance from the state police unit.

"Who are the cons?" McGarrett questioned, his mind already racing ahead to his next call and implementing procedures for this eventuality.

"I've got it right here," the sergeant reported as he shuffled papers. "Ted Collins, Keaka Wyn, Charles Whitson and Tyler Kokala."

Collins, convicted of murdering his drug partner two years ago, had been a Five-0 case. Charles Whitson, otherwise known as the nasty Five-0 nemesis Big Chicken. McGarrett's lips curled in a snarl of distaste. Some unsavory creeps had been run through the Five-0 process, but few matched the sliminess of Big Chicken. The thug was a manipulative drug dealer who was an accessory to numerous deaths from drug related crimes. McGarrett had taken great pleasure in putting him away. [episode -- AND THEY PAINTED DAISIES ON HIS COFFIN]

In prison, Chick and several other inmates staged a hostage standoff in which McGarrett had become one of the hostages. [episode -- THE BOX]. Steve would never forget the slimy threats, the beatings ordered by Chicken. If the hoodlum had any grit himself he would have killed McGarrett, but Chick didn't have the courage to commit murder red-handed. He was an expert at manipulation, though, and Steve wouldn't be surprised if Chicken had engineered this escape plot and pressured other cons to do his dirty work.

Assuring the sergeant that Five-0 would take the case Steve hung up and quickly dialed a familiar number. On the second ring it was picked up.

"Yeah, uh, Williams. Hello."

"Danno, we've got a break out at Oahu State."

"Uhggg," came the sleepy groan. "Never good news at this hour."

McGarrett couldn't repress a smile. He took evil delight in seeing his second-in-command suffer like this. It served the resident young playboy right. He shouldn't have a fantastic nightlife when the boss didn't have time to enjoy such frequent pursuits.

"Late night?"

"Early morning," Williams sighed.

"I'll be by to get you in about twenty."

"All right."

Hanging up, McGarrett chuckled lightly, but the humor quickly faded as memories of Big Chicken dominated his thoughts. The criminal was ruthless, vicious and vengeful. It was imperative they get this guy and his gang back behind bars quickly. The damage they could wreak in Hawaii would be cruel and unforgettable if they were left unchecked.

 

*****

Williams' apartment wasn't far from McGarrett's condo and the boss impatiently waited in front of the carport for his detective. Moments later Williams emerged, still tying his tie as he dashed for the car and jumped in. Almost instantly the big Mercury vaulted forward and sped into the traffic lane.

"What's the rush?" Danny wondered, trying to see in the side mirror to straighten his tie.

"Of the four escapees," McGarrett nearly growled, "one is Ted Collins. Another is Big Chicken."

Williams stopped his fidgeting and stared at McGarrett. "Big Chicken on the loose." He gulped, his lucid expression obviously disturbed. "He hates you, Steve."

Trying to shrug it off, McGarrett replied easily, "So do a lot of others in the big house, Danno."

Shaking his head, the younger man was deeply concerned. "He's a nasty piece of dirt, Steve. If he's free you're going to be a prime target."

His skin seemed to crawl at the thought of encountering the creepy criminal, but the head of Five-0 focused instead on his duties, not concerns for his personal safety. "He's going to want to get off this rock. Maybe he already has," he pondered aloud. "Chick's not going to take time out for revenge. He's a survivalist first and foremost. No, I think he's got a plan, a way to get off the island. And I'm betting the soft points in his plot are his pals."

Staring ahead, tapping nervous fingers against the side of the door, Williams bit his lip and nodded. "Yeah, he's really good at maneuvering others to do his dirty work." Glancing back, he studied his friend. "I still think you ought to be careful."

"Don't worry, Danno. We're going to put the full force of Five-0 into this manhunt. Chick won't be free long enough to do any damage."

 

*****

At the prison the two Five-0 officers interviewed guards and took a quick tour; of the cells, the escape route, the kitchen where Big Chicken worked. Apparently after the previous night's meal a plumber had been called to fix some leaky pipes. It had been a ruse, of course, and since Chick was one of the kitchen staff he somehow managed to arrange room in the plumber's truck for three cons. Collins, who vaguely resembled the plumber, must have been the one to drive the truck away in the night. The plumber's stabbed body was found stuffed in a utility closet.

"Collins probably killed the poor guy," Williams shook his head, observing the body. "Didn't he stab his ex-partner about a dozen times? Once wasn't good enough."

"Collins must have befriended Whitson," the warden supplied. The big, over-weight, balding man was still disturbed by the violent breakout. "This sounds like an operation for someone with his talent. Big ideas but too chicken to get his hands dirty. Is that how he got his nickname?"

"I don't know," McGarrett commented quietly, staring at the bound and gagged dead body on the floor. "But I know we're going to stop him from doing this again."

The warden, a veteran police officer, knew the corrupted, convoluted workings of the criminal mind well. He speculated that the four fugitives were still on the island. "It would take a lot of organizing ahead of time to get well known thugs like them off Oahu on short notice."

Dan was obviously surprised at the observation. "You don't think it was pre-planned with outside help?"

"I keep tabs on the trouble makers, Detective Williams. These four don't have a lot of traffic with anyone outside these walls. Not much mail, few visitors. Typical, they burned their bridges on their way to this final stop." He shook his head. "Four men leaving the island legitimately would take money. Four hot cons -- that means big time cash. From their records, these punks don't have the connections. Not like some of the mob thugs in here."

McGarrett didn't comment on the debate, but his tone was as hard as his eyes when he turned to the warden. "I want to see the files of the other cons. They would need help once they're outside these walls. Let's see who they'll turn to."

 

*****

Already scanning the files in the records room were Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua. After Steve had called Williams that morning, he had called the other detectives. He was serious about his all out effort to track down the criminals quickly. His history with Whitson, his first-hand knowledge of the sadistic cruelty Chick was capable of, burned McGarrett with a subliminal, pervasive apprehension. If they didn't get these killers off the streets quickly the citizens of Hawaii were going to pay dearly. Violence and death against innocent people, against law enforcement, were trademarks of two of the four cons. McGarrett had to stop them before more lives were ruined by these desperate men.

"Keaka Wyn, and Tyler Kokala are both locals, boss," Kelly told them as they sat around a long table in the warden's office. Chin pushed a file over to McGarrett. "Records not so good while they've been inside."

Kono leaned forward and tapped one file. "Kokala, he's in for drugs. Maybe connected with Chicken before they both came in here."

"Wyn's been in here for five years on an attempted murder rap. Same cell block as Chick."

"Hmm," McGarrett pondered, studying the files. "They probably knew each other since Chick's last time here."

Williams was scribbling addresses and phone numbers into his notebook. "We can start checking these locals right away." He crossed to a phone. "I'll get some HPD guys to help. Sammy Ho knows Kokala, used to be one of his snitches, I think."

McGarrett took Chick's file and moved to another phone. "I'll start with Chicken's old haunts." He connected with HPD dispatch and ordered a squad car to meet him at an address in downtown Honolulu. Moments later he slammed down the phone and was on his way rushing out the door. "Chin, get going on Wyn's contacts," he ordered, already in the hallway. "Kono, find some back up and track Collins. And watch yourself, he's a killer."

"Sure thing, boss."

Williams raced to catch up with his friend.

McGarrett slowed but did not stop while Williams skipped to catch up as they crossed the yard to the exit gate. "I thought you were going to get with Sammy."

"I will, but I better come with you now."

At the car McGarrett paused long enough to stare at his officer. "What's up?"

Danny was amazed at the question. "Steve, Chicken hates you -- really hates you. He'll kill you if he gets the chance. You shouldn't be going off on your own."

McGarrett got in the Mercury and Williams followed. Starting up the engine, Steve studied the younger man. "I can take care of myself, Danno. And I called back-up --"

"And a little more help won't hurt. Besides, I've got Sammy and his partner checking out Kokala. I'll help them later." A slight grin twitched at his lips. "After you're back at the Palace."

Offering a slightly amused, slightly irritated smirk, McGarrett slammed the car into gear and they raced away. He didn't like being hemmed in by anybody, not even his closest friend. He couldn't fault the kid's protective concerns, really. Five-0 had locked away many criminals and a few had personal, intent grudges against the detectives. Chicken was one of them who despised McGarrett with a hot passion. Literally holding a knife at Steve's throat last time they met, Chick would do anything to kill the man responsible for putting him behind bars for life.

When Williams had been jailed for killing a supposedly unarmed suspect, Chicken had held the proof to free the officer. Instead of dealing with Chicken, McGarrett had found the solution himself and knocked Chick around during the arrest. Chick's vile insistence that McGarrett owed him for freeing Danno had been ridiculous, but in the criminal's mind the supposed favor had been real.

When McGarrett encountered him again during the prison hostage drama, Chicken blamed him for his stiff sentence and detested McGarrett, trying to talk other inmates into killing him. That livid abhorrence would only have intensified with continued imprisonment. If Chicken had the chance he would certainly kill McGarrett -- maybe even do it himself this time. Steve was going to try to make sure that didn't happen -- and obviously so was Danno. That didn't mean he was going to distance himself from the action. He couldn't deny, however, that there would be incredible satisfaction if he could personally snap the cuffs back on Chick's fat wrists.

 

*****

Hotel Street in Honolulu was a seedy hive of old buildings, vices and graft dating back before the war. The complete antithesis of flashy, fun Waikiki, this dirty section of the city held interests for only the most jaded and crude tourists. Five-0 officers were well acquainted with this throbbing under-belly of their turf, but McGarrett rarely came down here himself. That's what he had detectives for, after all. So he was pleased when he pulled the Mercury up at the curb in front of a tattoo parlor and noted that Sergeant Duke Lukela was there to meet them.

A tough, fair and honorable veteran cop, Lukela often worked with Five-0. He knew the mean streets and back allies of this decayed part of town very well. Joined by Patrolman Doug Kiley, the four officers flanked the first side street -- McGarrett and Williams on one side, the HPD men on the other. They blanketed the area, stopping to talk with known associates of Whitson's, also asking about the other cons. Not surprisingly, there was very little cooperation from the locals. Most were volubly pleased at the escape of the criminals in an obvious us vs. them attitude. There would be no cooperation from this sector of humanity. By lunchtime McGarrett was ready to call it quits and allow HPD to do the footwork.

The Five-0 men stopped at Uncle Lee's to get Chinese take-away, then it was straight to the Palace. McGarrett checked on other matters that had arrived during his absence that morning. Most of the items were trivial compared to the break out. While the top Five-0 officers munched, they contacted Chin and Kono. Chin and three HPD men were in Pearl City on a door-to-door search. Keaka Wyn had been spotted in his old neighborhood just after dawn. None of the other cons had been spotted with him, but Wyn had been driving his old car -- a beat up old VW bus. Chin had the description and plates out on an APB.

"So maybe they didn't get off the rock," Dan speculated as he munched on his chow mein.

Nodding, pushing the sweet and sour chicken trapped in his chopsticks through the fried rice on his plate, Steve shook his head. "Maybe."

"That'll make it easier for us," Williams speculated, confused at his boss's glum attitude.

"It also means they'll be more dangerous. Desperate and cornered. I think the good guys better watch out."

Kono had less luck. Ted Collins had not been around Hawaii long enough to make many contacts, but Kono was checking out his last known addresses -- three different apartment buildings around Chinatown -- to see if he could find known associates or habits. Collins was a loner, not known to be part of gang actions, and the law enforcement men thought he had probably broken away from Chicken as soon as they were out of Oahu State Prison. The others, though -- Wyn and Kokala -- were little fish and just the type of personalities Chicken could manipulate into sticking with him and doing his dirty work.

Williams broke his fortune cookie and started eating it, using chopsticks to shove McGarrett's toward the distracted leader. "Here, maybe Lee's fortune cookies will help us out." As he munched he read the little strip of paper aloud. " 'You will travel to exotic places.' " He laughed. "I hope that means Maui over the weekend with a beautiful girl and not chasing Big Chicken over to Kona." He stabbed his finger at his friend's plate. "What's yours say? Maybe it will tell you where to find Chicken."

"I wish."

McGarrett broke the cookie apart and started eating, but before he could read the fortune Jenny came into the office. He pocketed the strip of paper and read over the delivered memos. She also handed him a number of copies of pictures of the escaped cons. The phone rang with a call for Danny from Sammy Ho to report progress about Tyler Kokala. Tyler, a former surfer, snitch and beach bum, had a lot of hangouts on the North Shore. Too many for Sammy Ho and his partner Shelly to cover. He asked if Williams would come up and bring help with him.

Reluctant to leave McGarrett -- Dan was suspicious the boss would jump out into danger at the first opportunity to nab Chick -- Williams also knew the more skilled officers on the streets the faster the search. It wasn't as if Steve couldn't take care of himself, but there was certainly a blind-side in the boss for his own safety. He nearly got himself killed the time he volunteered as a hostage when Chick engineered the prison stand-off. And there were too many other instances to count when Steve just leaped into peril without thinking of keeping himself shielded. Impulsive passion often impelled McGarrett to act first and caution -- well, it never occurred to him. Realistically, however, Dan couldn't sit around the office waiting for someone else to find the cons. If he wanted a quick solution to this he had to do his part. He and Sammy knew the North Shore very well and could probably find Tyler Kokala. Considering that his best action for the day, he proposed it to McGarrett.

"Sure, Danno, Kokala could lead us to Chicken. Watch your back, Collins could still be with them."

"Hey, Steve, you better check your fortune before you leave. Maybe it'll help."

He grabbed a stack of photos and handed them to his associate. When Danny grabbed them he held on for a moment. "Chicken hates you too, Danno. He blames you as my motivation for landing him in jail. Be careful."

With a quirky grin, Danny shot back, "I was about to say the same thing to you."

"Deal," McGarrett agreed and released the material. "Check in when you can and let me know how it's going up there."

"Will do," Williams promised, heading out the door.

 

*****

 

The LTD was still at his apartment and Dan hitched a ride with an HPD patrolman to pick up his sedan. The drive out to Haleiwa was pleasant and warm, the pineapple fields potent and sweet, filling the air with the scent and feel of paradise. With a sigh he wished he could save money a little faster so he could buy a convertible. Pleasant ruminations of driving with the wind in his hair kept his mind occupied during the trip up the middle of the island.

He met Sammy Ho and Sherry Watanabe at a surf shop on the main drag of Haleiwa. The two-lane street was clogged with traffic and pedestrians -- hippies, tourists, surfers, locals -- were out in force on this beautiful summer day. The detectives stopped at one of the many little shave ice shops to munch on the tasty treat and discuss the case.

"Tyler Kokala, he's basically a good guy," Sammy insisted, wolfing down his shave ice, then cringing with every-other bite as the cold went to his head. A slight, jocular oriental man a little older than Williams, Ho was famous for his talents for cooking and telling dumb jokes. "He's not a tough guy like Chick and Collins."

Dan shrugged, not convinced. "Prison can change men, Sammy. I think we should consider them dangerous."

Sherry Watanabe, tall, thin and a serious officer, studied the photos of the cons. "Collins isn't going to stick around with a fathead like Chick. He was probably just using these locals to get out of jail." She took a hand-full of the pictures. "And Chicken is too scared to come up against armed officers."

Williams wondered if he was over reacting. Was he the only one thinking these cons could be treacherous? Was it because of the incident with Steve and Chicken in prison? That hair-raising event had proven to Williams that his boss was crazier than the criminals, and that Chicken would kill Steve if given the chance. But Steve was safely at the Palace and Chicken might be on a slow freighter to Hong Kong by now.

"Let's just watch our steps, huh? I'll check in with you if I come up with anything."

"Sure," Sammy agreed, finishing his shave ice. "Sherry and I'll check the rest of this block, then head down to the beach shacks by the park."

Most of the main little town had been checked by the other officers already, so Danny drove down to the far end -- replete with scattered shacks, old abandoned storefronts and a few surf and dive stores. He parked in a narrow alley beside a drug store -- summer brought tourists and surfers in droves to the legendary seaside village -- and parking was at a premium.

Walking along the old wooden boardwalk, he passed out pictures of the cons and asked the shop owners and workers if they had seen Kokala lately. The surf community was so laid-back many of the familiar locals didn't even know Tyler was in jail. They just hadn't seen him in a while, thought maybe he had migrated to another island.

With an attitude of rueful long-suffering, Dan walked along one side in this section of the neighborhood. Then he crossed the street to the ocean side and started with those stores. Many of the old buildings were vacant, some in bad enough shape they were candidates for demolition. Prices were high at the little beach community and with the recent influx of the hippie population many drop-outs came here to live on the beach and panhandle, or steal. Not the best environment for economics and some businesses had closed their doors for good.

*****

 

Frustrated at the lack of progress his detectives were making in the field, McGarrett was ready to give up his paper trail and strike off on his own. He would take a few HPD men with him, of course, since running into any of the ex-cons either individually or en mass probably would spark a violent confrontation. By now the criminals were probably armed, all of them already dangerous. The only thing holding him back was that there was no real place for him to go to track down Big Chicken. He could join any one of his men on the streets of Honolulu or Haleiwa, but he had hoped to put his hands on the ringleader himself. Everything about the slimy hood had always repulsed McGarrett, but when he had been Chick's prisoner in the hostage ordeal, he had learned a new low in his opinion of the criminal class. He wanted nothing more than to escort the fat creep back to the slammer.

The intercom buzzed and he answered it instantly. Chin had a hot lead on Keaka Wyn. Grabbing his jacket and shoulder holster, he dressed on the run out to his car. On the quick drive to Pearl City he radioed Danno to update him, but there was no response. Then he called Kono, also no response. Well, they were out doing their jobs. Pushing the accelerator down, he raced along the freeway, hoping he would arrive in time to personally make the arrest on Big Chicken.

 

*****

 

"Danny! Hey, Danny!"

Williams turned around and glanced back toward the small row of shops he had just left. He was crossing a patch of empty dirt leading to another row of stores off the main track of Haleiwa. He was surprised to see Kono waving to him. Strolling back, he joined the big Hawaiian in the shade of a palm tree. Kono was munching on a shave ice.

"Hey, hot day to be out hittin' the streets," the big man confessed with a shrug, trying to explain his cool dessert. "I found out Collins has a pad up here."

"Really." Williams felt his adrenaline spike at the thought of this area being the focal point of two out of four fugitives. "Got an address?"

"Nah. Just a general description from his last landlord. Collins ain't into any formal jazz like forwarding addresses. He likes pads that are by the beach, though. Want to help me out?"

"What, so we can get these scum bagged by dinner time?"

Danny grinned, exuding an easy confidence he didn't really feel. In reality he knew this was not going to be easy. He jotted down a few notes on the new information and suggested they split up to make better time. Some of the addresses were all the way down the coast at Sunset Beach. If they found anything they would radio, otherwise they would meet back at the Palace.

 

*****

Danno's firm warnings echoed in his ears, but the chance to nab Chicken was too strong a motivation. McGarrett could not huddle in the office while his men might have cornered one or all of the escaped cons.

His big Mercury screeched to a halt at a gas station in an old part of town. Chin and two patrolmen were waiting at the side of the worn-wood building. McGarrett noted they were prepared for an assault and he drew his revolver as he joined his detective.

"Have you got them?"

"Neighbor said someone who looks like Wyn went in there. That's his old bus over there." He indicated a beat-up, multi-colored VW in the driveway of a house two doors down.

Impatient, McGarrett ordered Chin and one officer to take the back. He and the last patrolman would take the front. Waiting to make sure Kelly was in place, McGarrett stood to the side and pounded on the front door. Hearing something crash inside, McGarrett tried the knob, surprised it was unlocked, and swung the door open. The figure of a man blurred out of sight and the sound of a struggle could be heard. By the time McGarrett ran to the kitchen, Chin had a thin man in blue prison dungarees down on the floor.

"Where's Big Chicken?" Steve shouted at the man, not even bothering for formalities like rights or absolute confirmation of ID. The head of Five-0 was not in the mood to waste time.

Keaka Wyn shook his head. "We split. He was headed to find a boat. Don't know where." He covered his face with his hands. "Don't want no part of him. He's mean, man. I know he'd get me killed if I stayed with him."

McGarrett grabbed the man's shirt collar and snarled into his face. "Give me something, Wyn!"

"A boat! He wants a boat! Collins, he had a line on someone. Don't know where. Last place he lived, I guess! That's all I know!"

Disgusted, Steve instructed Kelly to take the criminal back to prison and grill him for more details. McGarrett wasn't going to waste any more time on this low life. He would go back and coordinate the search from the Palace.

 

*****

 

The old surf town was built with small, narrow walkways to beach access. Some of the old buildings near the ocean were abandoned. Taking a short-cut through a section set for demolition, Williams fondly recalled some of the frequent excursions he had made to this great beach spot.

Abruptly he was on the ground, spitting out dirt and gasping, his shoulder and neck aching. Blood dripped into his mouth and he had trouble focusing. The world spun wildly and he realized he was on the ground, being twisted onto his back.

Rough, clutching grips bruised his arms and his vision momentarily turned grey in prelude to unconsciousness. In a blur of motion he could not quite keep up with, and had no cognizance to resist, he was being constrained by strong, unrelenting holds on each side, both arms twisted painfully behind his back. Again he was slammed, this time his back flatly against a wall.

Forcing his senses to lock onto reality -- remembering to breathe -- demanding of himself that he not faint -- he blinked. Recognition slowly stabilized and he flinched, gasping when he identified that the shape inches from his face was the fat visage of Big Chicken.

"Chick --"

With a vicious backhanded blow Big Chicken struck him in the face. Gulping in air, he leaned back, head resting on the old wood, and willed himself to ignore the stinging pain; demanded he get full lungs of air, forced himself not to panic as he realized the hunter had just been captured by his prey.

"Big Chicken to you, boy! McGarrett's boy!"

He slapped Danny again and the young detective wheezed from the pain. Spitting blood from his dirt-filled mouth, Williams stared him down. "What do you want?"

Head back, the fat criminal laughed with depraved relish. "Oh, well, boy, I just got what I want. A ticket to the man I hate most in the whole wide world." He gripped onto Danny's tie and twisted, closing off oxygen to the officer. "And the man I hate next in the whole world is going to give me McGarrett." He chuckled again, an evil, wretched vibration of hollow wickedness. "You, buddy boy, are going to deliver McGarrett to me. And when I have you both in my hands," he laughed again. "Well, you just wait and see."

Delivering two hard, merciless punches to Williams' stomach, the fat criminal stood back. Dan fought for breath, hunched over from the throbbing hurt. The other escaped criminals slammed him back with his shoulders to the wall. Chicken was rubbing his hands.

"I've waited a long time for this, boy."

The anger; the rebelliousness against the surprisingly easy capture, the humiliation, all thumped against his consciousness with an emotional anguish matching the physical pain vibrating through his frame. Dominating the mental and bodily wounds was the guilt that he would be used as a tool against his friend.

Pacing, sneering, the fat criminal was beside himself with glee. "You hurt my hands, Williams!"

Chicken maliciously kicked Danny's knee and the detective toppled full-weight against the con on his right. Through the haze of anguish, he thought he identified the man as Ted Collins. Enough coherence remained in him to recognize the danger literally surrounding him. Collins and Chicken had nothing to lose -- lifers -- and had proven their merciless, violent tendencies before. He would be lucky to get out of this alive.

"Maybe Ted can soften you up a little."

The fugitive shoved Williams onto the ground. "I'll just kill him," Collins corrected, emphasizing his hatred for cops with a kick to Williams.

"No!" Whitson demanded.

"Why don't we just run!" Kokala suggested. The third member of the group drifted away from the captive and did not take part in brutalizing the detective. "He's a hostage. Maybe we can take his car, or his money, or something! We got to get off this rock somehow! Come on! Why stay here and get the cops more mad at us?"

Chicken clicked his tongue and leaned over to study Williams at close range. "Oh, no. And miss my chance to really get back at the mighty Steve McGarrett? Really hurt the big man? No. I'm going to send Mr. Big Cop a message of my inner feelings for him. And his boy." He kicked Williams repeatedly.

"Why play games?" Collins snarled. "Dead cops --"

"I've got you this far!" Chicken shouted back. "Keep him alive!" He nudged Danny's shoulder with the tip of his shoe. "But you can damage him real good while I think about what I'm gonna say to McGarrett."

There was no verbal response. Dan shifted, again trying to break free and was countered with a foot jabbed in his throat. Choking, he crawled in the dirt, sucking in dusty breaths as someone kicked him and he gagged on the involuntary cries surrendered in the assault. Ears ringing, he thought he heard someone mention his handcuffs. Vision blurred, barely breathing, he lunged to the side, into the legs of his attacker. The movement surprised the assailant and Williams stumbled to his feet. To the periphery of his vision a flash warned him of danger and he staggered into it, realizing as he grabbed hold of the cold metal that it must be his own .38. Wresting with the gunman, he twisted his grip, valiantly flinging all his strength into the battle.

A "pop" sounded against his side and he fell to the ground, hot pain searing his insides. Staggering away, he stopped at the wall, groaning at the all too familiar ache of a bullet wound. He regaled himself with recriminations at his stupidity until blackness blanketed his senses.

 

*****

 

When McGarrett returned to his office he simmered with anger that they had only captured the small time hood, Wyn. Duke was still coordinating the dock search. Kelly had delegated the airport alerts to other officers having already established that the escapees had not left via airlines. Now Chin Ho was joining Lukela. No one really expected the cons to leave the island in conventional means -- they were too well known to law enforcement. Steve called Williams' car, no answer. Frustrated, he called Kono. The detective was just leaving Sunset Beach with another fruitless search concluded. McGarrett tried to contact Williams again.

 

*****

 

"I'm here, McGarrett."

It was certainly not Danno on the other end of the radio. It took a moment for the tone to click into his brain and when McGarrett recognized the voice he leaned against the desk, his knees weak.

"But I guess you were lookin' for someone else?"

Fists curled into knots of rage, McGarrett stared at the mic on his desk. "Big Chicken." The shocking surprise was barely registering in his paralyzed mind. "Where is Officer Williams?" he demanded hoarsely.

"With me, McGarrett. And me and my friends, we're taking real good care of him. Ain't we, boys?"

The speaker did not translate with perfect sound, but he could clearly distinguish thuds and groans. The imagination filled in the rest and his blood chilled as he connected all the horrifying clues. A muttered instruction from Big Chicken said something about "waking him". The comment was followed by a sharp groan.

"Danno?"

"Steve --" A faint cry drowned by more muffled thumps.

"Danno!"

"He can't talk right now, McGarrett. He's busy. So I'll deliver the message. If you want to see him alive again he's available for trade - for a plane and money at an airfield of my choice. Make it -- oh -- fifty thousand dollars. That ought to be enough to get us started somewhere new. Fifty thousand, McGarrett."

Nearly choking on his response, McGarrett closed his eyes in anguish. "I don't make deals, Chicken. You know that," he rasped. The refusal was killing him, but what else could he do? Five-0 policy -- his own credo -- was absolute. He could not give in to criminals. Not even when the life of his detective was on the line.

"Guess we have to do a little persuading."

A scream resonated across the tinny speaker and Steve's skin crawled.

"Well, McGarrett, we got a deal? Or do I tell my boys to damage your little detective some more?"

A strangled moan filtered over the radio.

"Stop," McGarrett demanded in a dry croak. "Anymore harm comes to Officer Williams," he grated roughly, "and you will pay, Chick! And I will personally see to it!"

"You always think youíre in control, McGarrett!" Chicken screamed, obviously unbalanced at the threat. "Well not this time! Ainít nothin' gonna happen to me for damage to your boy here, because youíre not the one calling the shots now! This is the way it will be, McGarrett. You give us money and a plane, by sundown. We leave. When we get away safe like, then we tell you where you can pick up whatís left of your boy. Until then, we are in control man, not you!"

"If you hurt him again -- "

Another agonized cry echoed in the still office.

"No, McGarrett, youíre not listening! We can do anything we want to Williams and thereís nothin' you can do, man, nothin'! And we will damage him, oh, yeah, believe me, consider him damaged goods! I have a lot of years to payback, McGarrett. You and Williams sent me to the box and youíre both gonna to pay!"

"Chicken --!"

"You have that plane at the air strip at sunset, McGarrett. Make it Mokuleia -- yeah, that's nice and deserted. And I can see if you try and trick me! If you donít come alone, if the plane's not there, then we keep Williams for insurance, but we start leaving body parts around the island for you to find. Your choice, McGarrett. The sooner you get us that plane and fifty thousand cash, the less damage your boy gets."

Leaning against the desk, Steve drew in a deep, spasmodic breath. "I have to see him alive before you get the plane, Chicken."

"Sure big cop, sure."

Too easy. He shook his head, knowing there was more, suspicious that the horrifying revelations were not over. "You want a plane and money for Dan Williams -- "

"Yeah, and one more thing, McGarrett -- YOU! I want YOU! Unarmed and with the plane."

"A trade? Me for Danny Williams?"

"Oh, no, you wonít get your police boy then, McGarrett. You get him when Iím good and ready to give him up! Youíll SEE HIM at the air strip -- "

"Donít do it, Stev --!"

"Shut him up!"

"Theyíll kill you Steve -- "

A scream echoed in the background.

"Stop!" McGarrett demanded. His protests were probably giving Chicken a real charge of depraved pleasure, but he couldn't help the objections. He couldn't just stand by and be silent when his detective was being injured. "Leave him alone, Chicken!"

Another muted thud sounded.

"You forgot to say please, McGarrett." A slap was followed quickly by a moan. "Any more messages for your boy, McGarrett? I don't think he can handle them."

McGarrett gritted his teeth, determined no to respond any more to the baiting. It was only hurting Danno and driving his rage into uncontrollable comments that provoked more injuries to his detective. For a rare moment he felt such overpowering, livid hot hatred he was shaking with the suppressed rage. If Chicken came within his grasp he would wring the low life's neck. There was no doubt in his mind that he would kill the con in cold blood if it was in his power at that moment. And if they continued to injure Williams -- kill him? -- Steve wasn't sure he would be able to control his outrage.

"No? Until tonight, Steve, heís in our hands, remember that."

Uncharacteristically, he was still grasping to come to terms with the shocking turn of events. "No, Chicken!"

A bitter, ugly laugh rippled through the speaker. "Iím not negotiating, McGarrett. You have NO CHOICE! You want to see Williams alive then you have that plane and my cash at the landing strip. You and the plane arenít there and your boy pays big time! Damaged like only me and my boys can. And you better hurry. Your Danny boy here's been a little bit hurt. Bleedin' like a stuck pig." He giggled. "Don't you like that McGarrett? Bleedin' like a stuck pig. Well I sure like it. He won't last long though, I'm thinkin'. You best be wikiwiki like. Aloha."

The line went dead. Shaking, McGarrett took a moment to crawl out of his shock. Forcibly pushing aside the horror of what had happened -- what was happening to Danno -- he galvanized into action. By the time he reached his door and stepped into the outer office his emotions and physical demeanor had transformed into an intent, cold, tough, all business fervor. The anguish, the terror of what had occurred, of what the future might hold -- were harshly thrust behind his iron resolve and implacable armor.

*****

Blinking his eyes against the sunlight, Dan's other senses kicked in and registered while he tried to focus his vision. It was warm and he was sitting in the sun. The lapping waves of the surf could be heard close by. Flies were buzzing louder than the ocean and he realized they were landing on his skin with annoying frequency. He tried to wave them away, but his hands were stuck behind his back. The movement shot agony through his body and he winced, sucking in a battered lip between his teeth. New pains became apparent along with the acrid smell of stale blood. Moaning quietly, shifting, he remembered his ignominious capture; shooting, beatings. He pressed an arm against his side, trying to judge the extent of his wound.

When his eyes opened and vision stabilized he saw he was in the back seat of his LTD. The door was open and he could see two men nearby, sitting under the shade of a tree. Someone was close, he could feel a presence. When he turned his head he found he was inches away from Chicken.

"So, you're awake. Couldn't take the treatment too well, huh, cop?" Williams turned away and Chicken seized a fistful of his hair, forcing him to look back at the criminal. "Collins likes to damage people. I let him do whatever he wanted. And still keep you alive." His grin was vicious. "He could have hurt you real bad, cop, but your stupid bungling got you shot!" Angry, he threw Dan's head against the seat. "I had some nice little games all picked out for you and you ruined it. Was gonna return you to your boss after we showed you what kind of fun we have in prison with pretty boys like you."

Dan forced himself not to flinch under the fetid breath or the insinuated implications of nasty treatment he had narrowly missed. Great, he saved himself from loathsome handling by getting shot. Now he could just bleed to death.

"See, we can't do too much more to you, boy, 'cause you got to be alive for the big show tonight." He leisurely cleaned his fingernails with a long knife. "I'm finally gonna give McGarrett what he deserves." He pointed the blade at Dan's face. "But that won't concern you, 'cause you'll be dead."

Licking his lips, Danny quelled the rippling of fear in his stomach. "What are you going to do to McGarrett?"

"Use him to make sure we off this rock first off." He smiled, yellowed teeth flashing with evil delight. "We're taking your boss cop with us." The tip of the blade slid along Dan's jaw line. "Then we won't need you anymore."

Chicken moved away and Williams closed his eyes, biting his lip to conceal the pain coursing through his sore body. Bound with his own cuffs, wounded, suffering from what felt like broken ribs and probably a dislocated shoulder, he could do nothing to stop Chicken's plot. He couldn't even effect an escape, or defend himself against further attacks. All he could do was pray Steve did not make the meet tonight. If he did, they were both dead. He could do his best to resist, even to fight them, but what would that accomplish, he wondered with a sickening thought of more pain. He couldn't take much more of their revenge. It wouldn't do Steve or him any good to precipitate a lethal attack on himself. So he had to hang on until Steve came up with another plan. He knew McGarrett was working on it even now. All he had to do was stay alive until Steve could come to liberate him.

 

*****

 

The detectives gathered back at the Palace, not surprisingly, were adamantly opposed to any trade or personal meet with the criminals. They maintained that Big Chicken would probably outright kill Steve and Danno before police teams could move in for a rescue.

The logic and predictions were undeniable, but McGarrett would not budge. He insisted they had to have some kind of a plan, because he was not going to let Chicken have Danno any longer than necessary.

"Maybe I could hide in the plane or something," Kono offered half-heartedly.

With a withering glare McGarrett did not even offer a comment to that idea. "I would hide," he snarled hotly, "But Chick will be looking for me. If I don't show there's no telling what he will do to Danno. No, we have to come up with something. Something those thugs will not be expecting." His fingers snapped sharply. "And you can bet they'll be expecting a trick." He sighed as he studied the geological survey map of the northwestern tip of Oahu. There had to be an aggressive action he could take, a preemptive strike before Chick and the cons made it to the meet at the airfield.

"Too bad we can't just track down Danny's car. We know Chicken was talking to you from the sedan."

"Okay," Steve ruminated, still snapping his fingers while studying the map. "Yeah, our best bet is we find them first before at the meet. They can't be far from the airfield. It would be too risky to travel with a hostage." He shook his head in frustration. "So where are they?"

Kono was nonplussed. "We already been looking at that, boss."

"Teams are all over up on the North Shore," Chin reminded, stating the obvious. "We can't put officers at the airfield. Big Chicken will retaliate against Danny. Might kill him if they spot any units at Mokuleia."

McGarrett came to a difficult decision. "Get more plainclothesmen out there. I want to blanket the North Shore. Carefully, gentlemen, carefully." He inhaled sharply. "This is Danno's life in the balance. We've got to search for him without Chicken realizing it and we must find him before they get to Mokuleia."

Discretely, because any mistake could cost Dan his life, the detectives and HPD cautiously searched the northern coastline for Danís sedan and a good hiding place for the cons. Plainclothes personnel scoured areas around the North Shore. Other units put the pressure on friends and family of the fugitives. If they didnít find the criminals before Six PM, then the meet would go ahead.

Sitting in the car next to his boss as they cruised the streets of the beach town, Kelly kept glancing at Steve. "What if we don't find them first?" he finally asked.

"I'm hoping it doesn't come to that," Steve responded as tightly as he clutched the steering wheel.

"You're still planning on showing up at the meet, aren't you? They could kill you, Steve," Chin warned for the dozenth time as they drove around the outskirts of Haleiwa.

"Iíll wear a vest," he responded with clipped words.

He could spare little thought or time for danger to himself. Danno was hurt and would die if this meet didn't go off as Chicken demanded. Often he wondered why he had given in -- appeared to give in -- under pressure. Then he would recall the echo of Danno's cries over the speaker. There was no ransom coming, of course, and the only plane that would land at the airstrip would be an HPD two-seater that was scheduled to arrive at Mokuleia just after Six PM. Hopefully after the hostage drama had been played out to a safe and satisfactory conclusion. Despite the trickery, Steve knew his principles had crumbled pretty quickly in the face of the obvious agony of his friend. He had given in to Chicken. That was something he would examine at length in the future. When Williams was safely back from captivity.

"I have to be there or theyíll suspect something," he reminded his officer.

"You wonít really let them take Danny, will you?"

"No, we canít let them," came Steveís grim reply. "Duke will have sharpshooters placed anywhere possible. They'll take out Chicken and his pals when they get a clear shot. Danno canít get as far as the plane. By then Chicken will know it's a trick. If he discovers that, Danno is dead for sure."

 

*****

Unable to join the search parties -- since he was much too prominent to be cruising the main strip of Haleiwa -- McGarrett remained secluded behind a surf shop on a side street of the beach town. He listened to radio reports as officers called in, giving negative status on all search patterns. Frustrated, anxious as the minutes counted down closer to six o'clock, he was ready to go out and hit the streets in a desire to do something besides stay on the sidelines and pace. Several times he started to leave, then restrained himself, knowing impulsiveness could mean death for Williams. If he was still alive at all.

"Kelly to Five-0 one."

McGarrett snapped up the mic from the car. "McGarrett."

"We found Danny's car, Steve. Parked in an alley. By some abandoned buildings on one of the side streets mauka of the main road. Turn right past the old theater and you'll see us."

His nerves surged with hope and apprehension. "Great Chin, great. I'll be right there."

He jumped in the car and tried not to drive recklessly for the few blocks through the little town. No telling who might be watching, he reminded himself. And he tried not to engage in too much empty speculation about finding the LDT. Even if they had Danno's car, did that mean they were close to cornering the cons and Danno? He couldn't let his excitement raise his expectations too high. He had to take it one step at a time. Find Chicken first, disarm the thugs, then find Danno.

A few policemen were gathered around the corner from the black LTD. Kelly had already walked by the Five-0 sedan, casually checking the car, and reported obvious signs of dried spots of what appeared to be blood in the back seat. Cringing at the unwelcome news, McGarrett pulled around to the next block and parked his Mercury next to some patrol cars, out of sight from the main street.

They were only one building away from the abandoned housing where they had discovered Williams' car. Kono Kalakaua was there handing out bullet proof vests to the several officers who would make the assault. McGarrett accepted a vest and issued brief instructions as they walked through a back alley toward the target building. Chin and two HPD men started at one end of the row. Kono and one patrolman stayed outside near the center of the line of main buildings. McGarrett and Officer Kline chose to jog down to the far end to start their search at the last deserted store.

Was Danno's car a set-up? Or was abandoning it a careless mistake on the part of the criminals? Gazing out the broken window, studying the vista of the back streets of the surf town, McGarrett progressively formed a theory that they were being led on a carefully plotted wild goose chase. Could it really be this easy? Did the cons have the time and resources to play cat and mouse? If not, then this could be where they were holed up to wait until the scheduled meet. Then Chicken and Danno could be very close. The thought made his skin crawl with anticipation -- dreading that he might be too late -- hopeful that he had guessed correctly at the refuge and that Danno was still alive. The evidence of blood in the car made his hopes waiver, but not disappear. He had to keep believing that he would find his detective in one piece despite Chicken's threats.

The old stores and warehouses were decayed and fragile. Most were dark, abandoned buildings -- a warren of little cubicles, various sized supply rooms and what must have once been offices. Lighting was dim and the whole place creaked and smelled of rot.

Once inside Steve motioned for Kline to go to the left, he would take the right side of the hall. Sound carried easily in the empty wooden shells and they took care to be as silent as possible. After examining only a few rooms McGarrett stopped. It was obvious from the dirt and trash that no one had been in these stores for some time. He was wasting his time. Sighing, he took a moment to clear his emotions, to start thinking more like the trained cop that he was instead of the baited fish-on-a-hook that Chicken wanted him to act like.

Instead of tracking down Kline, Steve retraced his steps and made his way out of the building. None of the officers were carrying walkie-talkies. They had not really planned on being separated on a foot search. Well, he would just have to proceed on his own. He stepped outside into the sunlight and pondered the puzzle that could mean life or death for his friend. What would Chicken be doing now? If Danno's car was left here then Chick was far away. He jogged over to Danno's LTD and felt the hood. It was still warm. So they had probably changed vehicles. Where would they go? Only one place would be safe. Why hadn't he thought of it before? The airfield.

There was no time to waste on finding Chin, Kono and the others. Steve jumped in his car and notified HPD dispatch that he was proceeding to the Mokuleia airfield, but no one was to approach close to the buildings without his express orders. He raced through the North Shore streets, through the open country toward the tip of the island. He stopped his Mercury behind some lava rocks just out of sight of the office building and hangar near the dirt runway. Using the native brush as cover he skirted around to the back of the wooden offices that had been empty since the airstrip went out of business years ago.

Steve drew his revolver and entered through some broken boards out of sight of the hangar. He took each step with painful caution, slow, silent, creeping into the darkened, derelict building with his hand tightly gripped on his revolver, ready to fire at anything in a split-second's notice. Sparkly light, alive and drifting with dust motes and insects, filtered through the uneven slats of the wooden boards decayed from time, from salt and ocean-wind erosion. The floor was broken linoleum and concrete, littered with pieces of burned wood, trash, and old clothes -- the debris of transients who had been here and moved on.

Muffled voices could be heard from somewhere ahead. Reaching a hallway, peering around a corner, he paused. Conversation too indistinct to discern in words came from rooms to the far left, possibly at the very back of the building. Literally at the crossroads, McGarrett pondered his direction. Danno was most likely with the cons, so the only choice was to go to the left.

A scraping of feet alerted him and he darted back behind the wall. Revolver up, resting on his chest, Steve hardly breathed as footfalls passed behind him in the hall and continued on. A moment later he heard the sound of a window opening. Another set of footsteps -- jogging -- zipped through the hall and someone cried out in surprise or pain.

"Hey!"

"You idiot, Kokala! You're not supposed to open the windows! You're pupule!"

"Collins, I can't stand being in that room with that cop --"

Ted Collins. The hard-edged murderer. It was a measure of satisfaction that he had been right, that at least two of the suspects were here in this building with them. And the cop -- that could only be Danno -- was here too! Still alive, apparently. There was a very slight relaxing of the tight knot in his chest, but not by much. They had a long way to go before they were home free.

"You little wimp." The sound of flesh on flesh was heard, like a slap. Someone whimpered, probably Tyler Kokala. "He ain't gonna hurt you."

"I know. But it's -- it's choking me to be in there with him."

McGarrett's skin prickled and he felt like he might be sick himself. What had they done to Danno to get this kind of reaction from a con?"

"All right, you little mongoose. Go sit in the other room. That cop sure ain't going anywhere unless we help him. I don't know why Chicken wanted him watched."

"Thanks," Tyler sighed.

Firm footsteps walked behind McGarrett again, going to the left. Scuffling, downtrodden footfalls followed, then turned into the room and the thin form of Tyler Kokala walked right past McGarrett. He waited until the criminal was past him and moved swiftly. In a blur of motion he had his hand clamped over the man's mouth and the revolver barrel pressed against the criminal's temple.

"One sound, one give-away that I'm here and you will die. Is that understood?" he whispered viciously, allowing no doubt about his conviction to shoot the man on the spot.

The frantic con nodded that he understood, his eyes wide with fright.

"Is Dan Williams here in this building?" The nod was affirmative. "Are Big Chicken and Collins with him?"

A negative shake -- no. McGarrett sighed slightly.

"Williams is alone in one of these rooms?" After learning that was so, he asked if the other two cons were farther away, and that was also answered positively. Good, this might be a bit easier than he thought. Glaring at the con, he warned, "If you make the slightest sound I will kill you. Do you understand?"

Shaking, sweating for fear of his life, Tyler Kokala nodded. Obviously there was no doubt he believed the threat and Steve realized he believed it, too. At this moment, he would kill anyone who got in his way of saving Danno.

McGarrett struck a savage blow to Tyler's head and the criminal went down, unconscious. He turned back to check the hall. No one seemed to have heard. All clear. He silently stalked to the left, hardly breathing, checking each room as he peered around the doorframes, searching the empty areas for his friend.

With each step he progressed perilously close to the room at the end of the hall. That was where the subdued voices were coming from. That had to be where Chicken and Collins were. So where was Danno? He reached another intersecting corridor and noiselessly hurried toward the last room in that section of offices.

After a hasty glance inside he was about to move on, but a slight shifting in the shadows near the lone window caused him to pause. A door to the side connected this room with another room. Where the voices were coming from. Leery of entering to examine the dark interior of the room he stopped in the doorway. He couldn't risk a confrontation with Chicken yet -- not until he knew that Danno was safe.

As he paused he heard some indefinable sound that gave him pause. It came from deep in the shaded recesses of the room. Some boxes were stacked to one side of a dirty window with cracked glass. There was a pile of old tarps or clothes or something -- perhaps a rat or mongoose was scurrying around. The pile of clothing moved. A flash of gold caught in the blurred light of the smudged window. Stepping inside, Steve's inhalation strangled in his throat.

Laying in the dark was a body; crumpled and misshapen on the floor. As Steve approached he recognized, with growing horror, that it was Dan Williams. There were cuts, swollen lumps and distorted bumps on the dirty face and body of the prone officer. Automatically McGarrett started to itemize the possible damage -- broken bones, internal injuries, what looked like a bullet hole and copious blood along the right side. Hands cuffed behind Williams' back, his shirt was a bloody, ripped rag in strips across his torso. In the center of his bare midsection a gold Five-0 badge was maliciously stabbed into his red-tainted chest.

Hardly able to swallow down the illness surging into his windpipe, McGarrett took a few deep breaths before he could move forward. Approaching slowly, he was morbidly transfixed by the horror of the mangled body. Trying not to gag, he stood at Dan's feet, stunned at the macabre abomination of the gold badge stabbing into the officer's skin. From this close proximity he could now see the barely rising and falling of the chest as staccato breaths struggled painfully through damaged lungs.

Gradually other concerns filtered back into Steve's shocked senses. The cons were in the next room. Time was critical. Precious seconds were ticking by and he could only stand there in dazed, mute horror, unable to function. The frozen moments slowly faded and instinct took over. He knelt down next to his friend and felt for a pulse along the neck. Thready, shallow, the skin cold. Danno was in bad shape.

Grimacing, he plucked the badge out of Dan's bloody chest and after folding the pin back, slipping it into his jacket pocket. Carefully touching Dan's side he noted a bullet wound still oozing blood. He took his handkerchief and placed it lightly on the wound. Then he slowly, silently grabbed keys from his pocket and circumspectly turned Williams to the side and noiselessly unlocked the handcuffs.

"Danno?" he hardly whispered, too choked, too shattered to manage anything above a strained croak. "Danno. We have to leave."

He dared a look at his downed officer and was surprised to see Danno's eyes open, staring at him.

"Steve?"

"Yeah, Danno."

The wounded man's eyes blinked. There seemed to be gradual recognition and he blinked in acknowledgement again. That was good, Steve sighed silently. Swallowing back the sickening knot in his throat he gently patted Dan's shoulder. "I'm going to get you out of here, Danno. It's not going to be easy. But I promise, I will."

Williams gave a mute nod.

How was he going to manage a miracle escape? If he moved Williams he could easily kill the officer who must have internal injuries from the savage beatings, from the bullet inside him.

What did they do to you, Danno? He buried the agonizing questions that were distracting his focus. What could he do now that would help rather than further injure his friend? Too far away from the car to make a run for it, there seemed little choice left. He was going to have to deal with Chicken and Collins first.

Laying a light hand on Dan's head, he leaned close and quietly whispered, "I'm going to take care of Chicken, Danno. Then I'm getting you out of here."

The split, bloody lips parted. "Understand."

McGarrett just grimaced, unable to find anything encouraging to say.

"Watch out. Three of them."

"Yeah, okay, I already took out one."

The lips twitched with satisfaction. "Good." He took an arduous breath. "Get Chicken for me."

"You can count on it."

A subtle, muffled noise -- a nearly indecipherable movement alerted McGarrett at the same instant he heard a voice behind him.

"Don't move, McGarrett. I've got one of your .38 police specials trained at your head right now."

A little gasp slipped out, but otherwise McGarrett was momentarily frozen; amazed at the utter surprise that he had been caught cold. Slowly gazing up, he saw that the criminal indeed had a dead-drop on him. Big Chicken stood in the doorway to the other room. The evil smile radiated all the hateful contempt the con had for the lawman. Steve's nerves shivered with disdainful anger.

"Let go of the gun and stand up real slow like, McGarrett, or I'll kill you right now."

The sight of the criminal who had savaged his friend -- holding Williams' .38 on them -- enraged McGarrett beyond reason. Without realizing the insanity of his motions he hurled himself at the criminal, simultaneously firing the revolver, just as Big Chicken fired his. They both went down, crashing into the second room and wrestling on the floor. Collins came out of nowhere and tried to grab the revolver from his hand and McGarrett brutally thrust him away. When the con rallied a second time and again attacked the Five-0 leader, Steve's revolver was knocked out of his grasp and flew across the floor. McGarrett wrestled for control of Williams' gun from Chicken and managed to fire it, hitting Collins who was right on top of him.

Now terrified, Chicken desperately scrambled to gain control of the revolver, but McGarrett twisted it around and squeezed the trigger. Gasping in pain and amazement, Big Chicken slumped over. McGarrett ripped the police special from his grasp. Shot with Williams' gun. It was somehow too ironic for comment.

He checked to make sure the criminal was subdued. Big Chicken had been shot in the chest, the blood bubbling out testifying to a fatal wound. The con knew it. Blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth as he sneered at the officer.

"Wish I woulda killed you, cop. Wasn't good enough -- to get your boy -- should been you . . . ."

The eyes closed and he took a final breath, then the head rolled lifelessly to the side.

Unsteadily coming to his feet, Steve pocketed the revolver and moved away from the scene of carnage. He checked Collins, who had also succumbed to death, no longer a threat to anyone. Staggering back to the other room, Steve halted; weak and dizzy from the fight, from the sickening condition of his friend. Now, staring at the still form, he was afraid it was too late. Williams looked dead.

Kneeling down he leaned close, ill at the vacant stare from the blue eyes of his friend. When they blinked, McGarrett jumped.

"Danno?"

He surrendered a slight nod.

McGarrett groaned, bowing his head in weary relief. "I'm going to call for help," he told him, staring with intensity at the wounded man. "And I'm coming right back." Then he ran out toward his car, hoping the ambulance or medical helicopter would get here in time to save his detective.

 

*****

McGarrett hadn't reached his secluded sedan before he saw several HPD patrol cars and a Five-0 sedan snaking along the dirt road at the side of the airstrip. He ordered Chin to call an ambulance and hitched a ride back to the hangar with an HPD team. Steve jogged through the old office building, relieved Williams was still alive. As they waited for help the injured detective drifted in and out of consciousness, never really aware enough to speak. McGarrett considered the dazed condition a blessing. From what he could see it was still uncertain if Danno would live or not. At least this way the shock was insulating him from the worst of the pain.

When the attendants loaded Williams into the ambulance, McGarrett settled in to ride with his detective. The initial prognosis was guarded, grave, but they thought Dan might have a chance to make it. Steve leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes in relief.

"Hey, I better take a look at you," one of the men commented.

Steve opened his eyes. "I'm not hurt."

The medic fingered Steve's suit jacket, showing him a hole near the lapel. Opening the jacket, Steve was amazed to see a bullet smashed into the vest he had on under his coat.

"That was a close one, Mr. McGarrett. Good thing you were wearing a vest. Must be your lucky day."

"Yeah." He glanced at his unconscious friend. "I hope so."

 

 

*****

 

For the second day in a row McGarrett started his morning off with a visit to the hospital. Yesterday Williams, following life-saving surgery, had been too incoherent to visit. Last night, after work, McGarrett had dropped by and found the wounded detective asleep. As he eased open the room door this morning he was pleased to see a wan, but conscious Danno glancing lethargically toward him.

"Hi. Steve." Still obviously drugged.

Steve gave a wave and entered. "How are you feeling?"

The detective wore obvious badges of evidence of his harrowing encounter. Mottled bruises and lacerations splotched across his swollen face as discolored patches; his pale lips puffy and striped with red splits. The untouched food on the meal tray at the side table attested that he had not regained his appetite yet.

"Sore. Tired." He shook his head, the blue eyes sober and clouded with dark memories. "What a nightmare."

"Yeah," McGarrett exhaled deeply. He could hardly put into thoughts, let alone words, the horrific elements of the ordeal. He could only hope time and the haze of pain during the trying kidnapping would insulate Williams from the worst of the recollections. "Glad it's over," he finally revealed, hoping to move away from the painful images crowding his thoughts.

Williams nodded. He turned away to stare out the window. "Chicken?"

"Dead. Collins, too."

Dan nodded again, neither revealing any relief, vengeance-satisfied, or surprise. He was as vacant as McGarrett had ever seen him. As if the excruciating events had deadened him inside. That discovery was almost more alarming than any high or low emotional response. Williams was never one to mask his feelings for long. He wanted to say something to jolt his friend back to normal, but restrained. He had nothing appropriate to say, he realized. What was there -- how could he comfort or comment on the brutal psychological and physical pain suffered at the hands of the savage cons?

At a loss as to any other help, he offered the banal cliché, "Anything I can do for you?"

Slowly, still gazing out at the serene, idyllic palms outside, Williams shook his head again. After several moments of silence he turned back, a little of his usual color creeping back into the face as a familiar, ironic expression altered his features. "Maybe something decent to eat," he suggested and gave a push to the breakfast tray with the hospital fare. "How about some Chinese?" A wry snort escaped his grimaced lips. "But no fortune cookie. Remember our last lunch? It seems like a long time ago."

It had only been a few days, but McGarrett understood his meaning perfectly. They had journeyed a great distance in awful experiences from what was normal then and what they felt now after living through agonizing torment. "It was."

Dan fiddled with the fork on the tray. "I remember my fortune promised something about traveling to exotic places. Which, I will testify to, do not include dirty alleys and abandoned hangars."

"Yeah."

McGarrett fingered a thin slip of paper in his pocket. He had placed it in there for the last two days on whims of fancy. As a talisman? A prediction that had come true? A reminder of hope? It was the slip of paper from his fortune from the lunch that Danno had just mentioned. He had never read it that day, and had only discovered it when he cleaned out his pockets the other night after he had gone to the Palace from the hospital. After Williams had successfully lived through surgery and was in the recovery room with a favorable prognosis for survival. Then McGarrett had discovered the grisly, blood-soaked badge he had plucked from Dan's chest. And in the same pocket was the fortune he had neglected to read.

It hadn't really applied the other day at the office. Considering all that had transpired since: the kidnapping, the near death of his friend, the bullet the ambulance attendant had found in his vest -- the phrase seemed appropriate. As promised, Chicken had damaged Williams badly. Not fatally, though, McGarrett reminded himself. Danno was still here.

Steve wasn't superstitious, but he had to admit it had given him a chill of dread knowing how close they had brushed with death that day. He had cleaned up the badge and slipped it back into Williams' personal affects that were now safely secured in his office desk. For some inexplicable reason he had retained the fortune. Maybe as a reminder that even in the darkest experiences there is good to be found. What Dan had lived through was horrible, but yet he had lived. In their profession survival was what they prayed for every day. With an ironic, inner grimace he vowed that from now on he would remember to read these silly little predictions every time he ate a fortune cookie. Sometimes they weren't so silly.

He fingered the paper without the need to open it and read the fortune. He had memorized the short message. It was very simple and poignantly true after what they had been through the last few days:

'Today is your lucky day.'

 

 

PAU