Masterstroke

 

by

gm

 

RATED PG for intensity

 

*****

 

Five-0 fails an investigation with horrific results

 

*****

 

 

June 1976

 

 

Before he opened his eyes, Steve McGarrett reached a level of semi-consciousness that was familiar ground.  Too many times had he drifted within this middle plane between wakefulness and sleep; between cogent awareness and mach-memory.  The confusing state separated him from complete awareness of pain, and a nominal understanding that he was, in some way, injured and hurting.

 

First senses were also familiar:  scent/taste -- the enfolded texture of the close space.  Metal doors?  A Navy vessel?  Even more apparent was the smell of adhesive, astringent and disinfectant.  A sickbay aboard ship?  However, it wasn’t moving.  A cell?

 

No memories; fuzzy, remote or otherwise, came to mind about recent activities with the Navy.  Pushing aside that mystery, he automatically moved along to the habitual assessment he clicked off whenever he slowly regained consciousness and was damaged.

 

The most obvious problem was the pain in his head.  Everything above the neck throbbed.  His right side, and/or arm also seemed impaired -- weighed down by some weight.  Had he been shot?  In an accident?  There was absolutely no recollection, no clue as to what he was doing here.

 

The inventory lasted only seconds.  Curiosity and the natural inclination to solve puzzles drove him to the next level beyond empty speculation and confusion.  The only way to find the answers was to fully awake and discover the solutions first hand.

 

Blinking, to his alarm, he found he could not open his eyes!  His face was covered!  Alert agitation, driven by surging adrenalin, pumped him into terrified action and he reached up to feel his face.  The weight on his right arm collided with his head in an aching thunk.

 

Feeling with his left hand, he understood the hard restriction on his right hand and arm -- a cast.  And on his face -- adhesive bandages.  What had happened?  He had no memory of injury.  The last thing he remembered -- he strained past the insidious terror creeping into his nerves.  He was on a case.  He was meeting someone -- Danno -- meeting Danno.  What had happened?

 

The sound of door broke through the panic.  “Danno!  What’s going on?”

 

His friend placed a steady hand on his arm and he released a sigh of heartfelt relief.  No matter what had happened, Danno was here.  He would explain everything.  And everything would be all right.  Allowing the fear, and release, to show, he demanded, “Danno.  Are you all right?”

 

A cleared throat sounded loud and foreign.  Not Danno.  Instantly his guard went up and he pulled his arm away.  Even in his muddled, pained and unsettled state, he knew the “sense” of his friend; the sound of Williams’ voice even with such a slender clue.  This was not his second-in-command.

 

“Where’s Danno?”

 

“Very perceptive, Mr. McGarrett.  I’m Doctor Renfield.  I’m sure this is all very frightening for you.”  The voice was calm, but with an underlying foundation of authority.  This man was used to issuing orders and taking control.  “Let me assure you that you are not seriously injured.  The bandages on your eyes are mostly for protection.  You have a fractured right elbow and wrist, and some general abrasions and bruises, but are in very good shape considering you were hit by so much debris and falling dirt.”

 

“What?”

 

“Not to be concerned.  I’ve cleaned out your eyes.  In a few days we’ll remove the bandages and all will be well.”

 

His head ached so intently his ears were ringing.  Concussions were difficult to deal with, and this one was a heavy one.  He had trouble focusing on the conversation and what he should be asking.  Not having Danno here -- talking with a stranger while he was so vulnerable -- knocked him off balance.  A weakness he refused to display. 

“What happened?”

 

“You don’t remember?”

 

“I -- no -- I don’t remember an accident . . . .”

 

The throat cleared again.  “Well, I’m not sure what to say, Mr. McGarrett. Your confusion is understandable, I suppose, and --“

 

Don’t admit the Achilles' heel, he harshly reminded himself.  He was at a terrible disadvantage; sightless, friendless, disoriented.  Don’t admit anything, was his instinctive, mental snap back to POW training in the Navy.

 

“Tell me what happened!” he demanded.

 

Assertive language and attitude were his only weapons right now.  Go on the offensive right off the bat and don’t let them see the doubt inside, the uncertainties hovering just under the surface.

 

The door opened again.  Another flash of hope that it would be Danno.  Instead of surrendering to his expectation, rather than reveal his vulnerabilities again, he was more guarded this time.

 

“Who is it?”

 

“Commander Sinclair,” a mild, easy, young voice responded.  “Sorry I’m late.  I was hoping to be here when you awoke, Mr. McGarrett.  I’m sure you’d like to know what happened after the explosion.”

 

“Uh, Commander, Mr. McGarrett doesn’t remember --“

 

“What explosion?”

 

The room became very still, as if everyone was holding their breaths.

 

“You really don’t remember?”

 

With that evasive, obvious question, Steve lost his final thread of patience.  It snapped under the strain of irritation and suspense -- crowding out the anxieties and confusion and leaving only a familiar need to regain command of his world.

 

“Look, gentlemen, I’m not about to be interrogated here!  Tell me what you are talking about.  And I demand you get Dan Williams in here now!”

 

“Dan Williams?  One of your Five-0 people?”  The commander wondered, his confusion clear in the voice.

 

“Yes.”  The ire faltered.  “He’s not with you?” 

 

Momentarily, Steve lost his newly formed sense of certainty.  Usually Danno was the one hovering around until Steve was awake and oriented after an injury.  Blind and unable to remember what happened -- being without Williams -- was setting his nerves on edge worse than ever.  Instead of succumbing to the fear, he shifted it into incensed belligerence.  To convince himself he was not alone and helpless, he fought to recall anything that would give him a clue to what had happened to him.

 

 

 

*****

 

“Steve, we’re never going to find these guys at this rate.”

 

The moan was a self-pitying sigh laced with bone-deep fatigue.  McGarrett looked up from his intent study of the map spread across his desk and yielded a sympathetic glance at his second-in-command.  Chin was snoring softly, head dropped on the corner of the side table. Duke was asleep on the sofa. Williams was slumped over another map on the long table at the side of McGarrett’s office. 

 

He wished they could all go home.  He would like to give in and allow Danno to take a break, get some sleep like their exhausted colleagues.  But he couldn’t.  They were fighting the clock in a real -- desperate -- life and death crisis and he could not give up.  He could not allow his friend to, either, but he knew that Williams would never give up.  If he were here, sticking it out, Danno would be here, too, without being asked.  That was how they worked together.  How it always was.

 

“We have to, Danno.”

 

There was no sympathy in the tone.  No time for it.  Just as the complaint had been a cliché, so was the response.  No margin for error.

 

Rubbing his face, Williams fought to focus, to stay awake.  He stood, stretched, and came over to lean on the desk.  “We’ve gone over everything a hundred times, Steve.  Every available officer and agent is combing Oahu. How are we going to find anything new?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Williams gave a tired nod and shuffled out of the office.  He returned with two cups of coffee.  Putting them both on the desk he moved over to stare out the lanai.  “Hard to imagine this could all be gone in a blink of an eye.” 

 

“We won’t let that happen!”  It was a growl, a threat, a vow. 

 

Dan nodded, turned back, grabbed his cup and trudged to the table.

 

McGarrett was surfing a wave of tension that was overwhelming him.  He was out of patience and time.  He knew his friend understood that, so he didn’t have to mention the barking desperation was not focused on Danno, but on the situation.  They were fighting the insanity.  Fighting to save their world.  After it was over, after they won, there would be time for sleep and civility and acting like cops again instead of reacting in the surreal roles of superheroes.

 

=====

 

 

Gentle shaking brought him from the reverie.

 

“Mr. McGarrett?”

 

“What?”

 

“Did you remember something?”

 

“Tell me what happened, gentlemen!  Now!”

 

“All right,” the Commander relinquished unhappily.  “Obviously we will get nowhere until we give you some peace of mind, Mr. McGarrett, but I’m afraid I can’t give that to you.  None of us will enjoy that again for a very long time, I’m afraid.”  Another deep, profound, unsettling pause.  “You are in the secure government facility inside Diamond Head crater.  Does that help you remember?”

 

Another memory -- he was certain it was a memory not a dream -- surfaced.

 

=====

 

“Chin on the phone,” Williams reported, holding the receiver in his hand.

 

McGarrett must have dozed off.  He sat up, abruptly trying to come to his feet and think and instantly be on track.  Snapping the speaker on, he demanded, “What have you got, Chin?”

 

“A man matching Chong’s description was spotted at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor this morning. They say he rented a big boat and has already taken it out of the harbor.”

 

“Coast Guard could track it,” Williams suggested, and moved to the phone on the small side table.  He dialed a number, then asked for a description.

 

Chin Ho Kelly supplied the details on the size, color and partial registration of the boat.  Chin volunteered to stay there and keep tracking leads.  McGarrett assigned Williams to board the Coast Guard cutter and search the Honolulu docks. 

 

McGarrett hung up and stared at the phone, numb from overwork and stress. The fatigue was making him slow, keeping him from being sharp and completely in control.  He knew they could solve this desperate mystery, but their own limitations were holding them back.  They -- he -- just could not allow that!

 

Before he disappeared out the door, Williams stopped, his expression grave and concerned. “Steve, maybe you should join the Governor.”

 

McGarrett felt insulted.  “My job here is trying to stop this insanity.  I’ll go get the chopper and cover the docks and the channel from the air.  We can’t let them leave the city.”

 

“Yeah.  Maximum effect,” he grimly agreed. Then Dan offered sincerely, “Good luck, Steve.”

  

After Williams left he wanted to say more. He should have said something else -- a personal note to show his concern for his friend.  "Good luck to you, too, Danno."   They would all need it. There just wasn’t time. They were far beyond trite pep-talks.  They could not fail.  It was not acceptable.

 

=====

 

“Inside Diamond Head?”  He shook his head and tried to sit up, but the vertigo and lack of visual perspective made his mind reel.  The headache that never left, spiked, and he carefully settled back on the pillow.  “No -- I wasn’t going there.  I told Danno I wouldn’t go there.”

 

“Danno?”

 

The lack of knowledge about his second-in-command was annoying.  “Officer Williams,” he curtly corrected.  “Where is he?  Why isn’t he here?”

 

The doctor responded, “A nickname.  That’s the nickname for your Five-0 officer.”

 

McGarrett fought to orient himself by taking control of the conversation.  “Why am I here?”

 

“I don’t know why you came here,” the Commander started again, “but I know how you ended up here, or why.  When the crater collapsed you were in the access tunnel.  Fortunately, you were right next to the secure reception area so you got very little of the debris.  Your injuries are pretty slight considering.”

 

“Debris.  From an explosion.  What explosion?”

 

“From the bomb, of course.”

 

“What bomb?”

 

Now the Commander was exasperated.  “The case you were working on for Jonathan Kaye.  Don’t you remember the Taiwanese spies?”

 

A flash-almost-memory flickered, but there was no substance there.  Spies, Jonathan Kaye; it had happened so many times before, he wasn’t sure what the case was this time.  He didn’t have a chance to respond, Sinclair continued.

 

“We thought they only had the various parts.  We didn’t know they assembled it.  They must have detonated it accidentally.  Or perhaps your police precipitated something -- caught them and panicked them.  Doesn’t matter now, does it?”

 

The theories rippled new anxieties coursing through his nerves.  He had sent his men out to find spies with bombs?  While he had come to Diamond Head -- for what?  Were his men all right?  They had gone to the harbor -- Chin and Duke were at the Ala Wai.  Danno was aboard a Coast Guard cutter.  They were safe.  The bomb exploded inside Diamond Head.  His friends were safe.

 

“What was that, Mr. McGarrett?”

 

He allowed himself a sigh of relief.  “What were the spies doing in Diamond Head?  Did I track them here?  Did you tell Dan Williams I’m here? My men are all right.  They were at the harbor.”  The silence unnerved him.  “Are they all right?”  It was a barked order, the brusqueness cloaking the dread creeping into his mind.  “Are my men all right?”

 

“You don’t understand,” came the solemn reply.  “Don’t you remember?”  The exasperation and agony came out clearly in every enunciation.  “No one is all right.”

 

Even as the dreaded words were spoken McGarrett remembered the emotions, the frantic obsession to find the bomb and keep his island and millions of people safe.  That was his duty, his responsibility.  He had sent his men out there to find the spies and arrest them.  Keep Hawaii safe.  They could not fail.

 

“I’m sorry, Mr. McGarrett.  Taiwanese agents smuggling plutonium out of the country.  Do you remember?"

 

"Plutonium . . . ."  It was so hard to grasp ideas around the pain smashing into his mind.  The dreaded word slammed fears and recollections into his thoughts.  “The plutonium –smugglers -- “

 

"You suspected they were smuggling plutonium out of the country.  You remember the Taiwan agent who was killed in a traffic accident?”

 

Vague snippets of clues were filtering back now.  “Lee.”

 

“Yes.  The accident became a Five-0 case because your coroner detected high levels of radiation on him.”

 

“Yes,” Steve vaguely remembered.  It was the innocuous beginning of a much larger case.  A mystery that would embroil them in a desperate race against time.  “We traced the man to Colorado, where some plutonium was stolen from the government.”

 

“And you never suspected the Taiwan spy and his cohorts were here in Hawaii assembling a nuclear bomb?"

 

Nuclear bomb? 

 

Steve was too numb to speak.  Something nebulous and disturbing was niggling at the back of his brain, but he couldn’t grasp onto it – couldn’t pull it through to his memory to link it with a reasonable conclusion.

 

The officer continued in a somber tone.  “The plutonium -- we had no idea how much they had.  They had everything they needed, it turned out.  The bomb was on a ship in the harbor.  Maybe they were going to detonate it at Pearl Harbor to sabotage the US Naval facilities.  Maybe they were just trying to get it out of the harbor. The spies were not smuggling nuclear components, they were transporting a nuclear bomb!”  His voice broke.  “Didn’t you know?”  He sniffed, as if crying.  “For whatever reason, the bomb detonated. It leveled Honolulu, and most of Oahu from the Waianae range to Koko Head.  Most of the people on the island are dead!”

 

McGarrett shook his head, unable to comprehend what he heard.  He denied they had failed, even as he knew the Commander was speaking the truth.  Five-0 had been searching the island along with every Federal and State agency and service.  Without causing panic they quietly, but urgently, combed Oahu for spies with nuclear components.  They could not fail.

 

There was no way to grasp the horror, but he connected to the grief without fully accepting the reality.  Shaking his head, denying the inevitable, he repulsed the horrible concept, even as he knew it must be true.  He sent his detectives -- his friends out to the harbor.  To ground zero. 

 

The bandages dampened, quickly becoming soaked, and the tears seeped through to stream down his cheeks.  Trembling, he curled his cold body against the solid, chill concrete wall and tried to reject the engulfing disbelief, shock and incomprehensible pain.  Suddenly, the devastating loss of eyesight became secondary.  His universe -- the island paradise he loved -- his home, his friends, his life were pulverized.  Everything was dust on the wind.  He wept. 

 

 

*****

 

More than most men, Steve McGarrett understood the meaning of numbness.  He had experienced a complete null ness of senses when he first met Wo Fat many years before.  The sensory depravation chamber was probably the most hideously effective torture devised.  Sleep deprivation, drugs, even physical torture certainly took their toll, but the utter absence of orientation -- sounds, sight, touch, direction -- had been mind-boggling.  Of course, he had been prepared with hypnosis -- his cover story to counter the torture.  It had saved him from insanity. 

 

The method of torment now was different, yet so alarmingly similar.  It was only a partial limitation on the physical side, but unqualified devastation on an emotional level.  Even through the sedative he knew he’d been given, he couldn’t orient his grief. 

 

At first, he would approach it on the denial level: this could not have possibly happened.  Then the humanitarian aspect -- the loss of so many people, friends, colleagues, strangers, tourists.  The destruction of beauty -- paradise. 

 

Only glancingly could he even think about the loss of those closest to him.  The three friends he had sent out to the harbor to investigate the threat.  A threat he was confident they would defeat. 

 

Then he would mentally draw back, remotely aware he was weeping, still too dazed to take in the real impact of ruin of his beloved island paradise.  Too tormented with guilt, loss and horror to comprehend the death of those he loved.

 

“Mr. McGarrett.  I think you should eat something.”

 

“No.”

 

Steve drew in a sharp breath.  So distracted, he was unaware the doctor was in the room.  He simply shook his head.  Every time the physician or commander came in he refused to communicate, refused to eat.  How could he have an appetite?  What was there to say? The people of Hawaii trusted him.  He had failed that duty.  He had sent his men out in harm’s way and they had paid the ultimate price for diligence.  And where was he?  In the safety of Diamond Head.

 

There was no escaping the mental agony.  He could not move to a window and distract his thoughts.  His only focus was mental -- inside -- and the images there haunted him continually.  He saw the place he loved.  Faces of his friends, their families, those he cared about -- and knew they were all gone.  The trusting, last images of Chin, Duke, and Danno -- they were the worst to endure.  He had driven them mercilessly.  Exhausted, discouraged, he had sent them out to their deaths and they had willingly fulfilled their obligations.  They were dead.  He was safe and alive. 

 

The ache of loss started to filter into his emotions again, and he brutally fought them off, squeezing his eyes shut against the pain and the tears.  To think about the total damage, the collective destruction was too staggering to grasp.  But the individual and personal loss of friends traumatized him. 

 

He tried to think of the case, the smugglers, and the faces of the spies.  Instead, all he could recall were those last few days at the Palace.  Work, work, work.  It never seemed to end.  And not just during this crisis.  His whole existence seemed centered on the office.  Except for a few isolated days snatched here and there – minor holidays he allowed himself every few weeks – his life WAS Five-0. 

 

Those memories of brief respite brought incredible torment: the beaches he would never walk again, the golf courses that were now incinerated to crisps, the boat that was turned to ash in a devastated harbor.

 

As hard as he fought against the memories, however, they continued to assail him.  Snippets of moments, small scenes, little pictures of daily life filtered in and out despite his best efforts to stop the onslaught of painful and treasured experiences:

 

The last Sunday he had stolen away to work on his boat.  Williams, on call but not on duty that day, had come out to help repaint the rails.  No criminal alerts had interrupted and they ended up arriving late to a pleasant and enjoyable luau at Danno’s club.

 

Last month Duke had invited the whole staff to a family luau.  The sun had been perfect, the kalua pig incredible.  Dan had tried to pick up on one of the Lukela cousins, only to find her boyfriend was a jealous, three-hundred pound construction worker.  They teased him the rest of the night.  And Chin’s kids formed an impromptu chorus and sang old Hawaiian songs late into the night.  The next day Duke left a little hula doll on Dan’s desk to remind him of the humorous incident.

 

That was all gone, now.  Most hurting of all, the emptiness of losing Danno.    Of all the friends and associates he would never forget and always miss, Danno was most like a brother to him.  Loyal and dedicated to a fault, he had been doing his job and supporting McGarrett when he was blasted out of existence.  Sickened and desolate, Steve laid his head in his hands and tried to repress the tears that again threatened to seep through the bandages.

 

A cool hand touched his.  “Here’s a spot of tea.  That should help.”

 

He had forgotten someone else was in the room.  The doctor.  He didn’t want to talk to the doctor, or anyone right now.  Steve pulled his hand back.  “No.  No thank you.”

 

The doctor grunted with disapproval.  “Everything is a bit chaotic still, as you can imagine,” he  stated  sitting down in a chair nearby.  “But I can send for a psychiatrist to communicate --“

 

“No.”

 

“Perhaps you would like to discuss --“

 

“No.”

 

What could he possibly have to say?  How is Honolulu coping?  There IS no Honolulu!  To fail to such a complete stage was far beyond anything ever imaginable.  He was alive.  So many others cremated. 

 

‘How are my detectives?  Dead.  I should have been with them, but I wasn’t.  Why?’ 

 

He didn’t know.  He didn’t remember how he ended up in the safety of an underground bunker.  Did it really matter?  His conscience was perhaps shying away from the real answer.  It would solidify his guilt if he remembered. 

 

So, uncharacteristically, a hurt and emotionally damaged Steve McGarrett avoided the truth.

 

He couldn’t even ask for details about the other areas of Oahu.  What about the outer islands?  Was there something he should be doing?  Undoubtedly the military had things well in hand.  Shouldn’t the head of Five-0 have some duty left?  He had failed his state, his friends, and his officers.  Was there nothing left to cling to and rebuild his sanity?  A glimmer of light returned in his mind as he thought of other duties the head of Five-0 should be concerned with.

 

“How is the Governor?”

 

“Oh, fine as far as I know.  I forget what island he is on, but he and the other government leaders who evacuated are all fine I should think.  Not my bailiwick.  Hawaii is under martial law, naturally.  The winds have blown the fall-out to the west.  Out to sea.”

 

“Evacuated?”  He didn’t remember that.  They were supposed to be in the Diamond Head facility.  “What island?”

 

“I can’t say.  Sorry.  I don’t know your islands well.”

 

“He was here, at the Diamond Head facility!”

 

The chair nearby squeaked, as if the other man was moving.  There was a moment of silence.  Strained – Steve could feel the tension. 

 

“I don’t know anything about that,” the doctor responded stiffly.

 

A mystery.  And a reminder of his duty.  He clutched onto them with fervent need, thankful for a distraction.  Work was always his path to recovery.  “Has he asked to speak with me?”

 

“I don’t know.  Communications to this facility are all tied up as you can imagine.  You’re rather stuck for a while, I’m afraid.  The radiation is still too high for us to leave.  They estimate the winds will blow everything clear in a few more days.  Then we can evacuate you to another island to complete your recovery.  Although, by then, I’m hoping your eyes will be completely healed.

 

“Please tell Commander Sinclair I’d like an update of conditions as soon as possible.  And I’d like to talk to the Governor.”

 

“Are you remembering things about your last actions?  Do you remember the case you were working on?”

 

“Bits.”  The case.  It all occurred in a different world.  When he opened his eyes again everything would be changed.  It was changed now.  “How long has -- when . . . .

 

“Two days ago.  You’ve been drifting in and out.  A little help from a mild sedative.  It was all a bit overwhelming for you, I’m afraid.”

 

For the first time Steve noted Renfield seemed to have the faintest hint of a British accent.  It gave him slight comfort that he was beginning to think like a cop again.  Ask questions, wonder, and seek answers.

 

When the Commander came in the doctor left.  Steve reluctantly allowed Sinclair to question him.  He wanted answers more FROM   than FOR McGarrett, and Steve resented being on this side of an interrogation.  They decided to start with the last thing he remembered -- driving his car toward the harbor.  At the Ala Wai helipad he would take a helicopter to work air support for his men who were searching the harbor on foot or in boats.  His memory stopped before he got to the chopper.

 

“Please, tell me everything you remember,” the Commander urged, his voice sharp with anticipation.

 

This was important to the young man and McGarrett strained to pull up something . . . .

 

Perhaps, considering the horror of the events, he didn’t want to remember.  Hysterical amnesia seemed demeaning, but he couldn’t deny the diagnosis was a possibility.  His world and the people he loved were ash.  The tough Irish cop was daunted by the calamity.  As much as he tried, he could start to fool himself, fool the Navy personnel helping him, but it was all an act that was only skin deep.  Inside he was hurting so much he could hardly function.  His bluster about going on the offensive and taking the tough, aggressive stance was nothing more than a thin veneer.  In reality, he was alone and vulnerable and desolate with grief. 

 

Remaining silent, he knew that he had stumbled onto something important here.  He was supposed to get to the harbor, to get to the chopper, but he was beginning to wonder if that ever happened.  Backtracking, he recalled driving to the Ala Wai.  He had been on Ala Moana Boulevard.  Before that, stuck in traffic.  It was a warm day.  Before that, a final scene in his office that was then, so mundane, but now was painfully poignant.

 

 

=====

 

The long, side table in McGarrett’s office cluttered with papers and food; cups of coffee, plates of dried sandwiches, cartons of saimin and sweet and sour chicken, and plates of stale donuts. Another late night for the state police detectives.

 

The summer winds of tropical twilight drifted through the office unnoticed as anything special -- nothing extraordinary about another perfect day in paradise . . . . 

 

“Hey, I think I just got a lead on the Kahala robbery blitz.”

 

McGarrett finished writing down a word on the chalkboard and turned to observe the energetic second-in-command of Five-0 as Danny Williams rushed into the room.  Through the open lanai doors a plumeria-scented breeze drifted into the office on the warm, streaming, dying sunshine. 

 

Amused, he wondered, “You think you got a lead?”

 

The energetic younger detective continued his exciting announcement, not phased by the sarcasm of his superior.  “Remember I interviewed that tourist who thought she might have taken a picture of someone suspicious around the time of the last robbery?  Well, she was right.  I had her film developed.  Some nice calendar shots by the way.  And guess who else?” 

 

Before McGarrett could respond to the rhetorical question, Williams shoved a stack of pictures into his hand.  On the top was a blow-up of a hefty Polynesian with long, wavy hair and a face that looked like it had been hit by a brick wall a few times. 

 

“Yeah -- uh --   he snapped his fingers, as if it would help his memory jog into place.

 

“Tiki.  His nickname is Tiki, but his real name is Theodore Sanders.  Has a string of B&E charges on his rap sheet and a handful of assault charges.  So what’s he doing at the Kahala Hilton at their torch ceremony?”

 

“I guess you better find out,” was the laconic advice as he shuffled through the rest of the photos.  “And you should probably drop these by the Hilton and thank your witness.” He gave a nod.  “She knows how to frame a sunset. Nice composition.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Smirking, McGarrett handed back the photos.  “I was talking about the scenery.”

 

Laughing, Williams gave a knowing lift of his eyebrows.  “Yeah.  So was I.”

 

Shaking his head, Steve chuckled.  “Well, before you start asking her out on the State’s time card, ask her and the staff out there if anyone noticed Tiki hanging around during or after their nightly luau.”

 

The phone rang and he crossed the office, unusually aware of the freshness of the night, of the scents and sounds and ambiance that permeated everything around him.  When he picked up the phone and learned it was from Jonathan Kaye in Washington, he stared out at the lawns in front of the Palace and felt a surge of disappointment.  Some dark and nasty intrigue was about to shade his world.  True to his prediction, as Kaye talked, the beauty and warmth were soon faded out as his mind clicked on the terrible threat looming on a tropical horizon.

 

Taiwanese agents working in various locations around the US had managed to get their hands on high grade plutonium -- enough to power a nuclear bomb.  According to the FBI, the agents were all heading toward Hawaii.  The prevalent theory -- the spies would come to the Fiftieth State and transport it by some means from Hawaii to China, where they would devastate Beijing or some strategic center and probably start World War III.

 

Hanging up, Steve stared out at the Palace grounds, watched the palm fronds flutter in the wind.  They had dealt with a nasty conspiracy with bombs before, but that seemed -- different.  Perhaps because it all started with a simple crime and they had unfolded the deadly conspiracy like any other Five-0 case. {episode -- ANYONE CAN BUILD A BOMB} Now, they were enmeshed with spies and causes and agendas that had nothing to do with this small island paradise.  The stakes were alarming and extreme, just like the terrorists controlling the awesome atomic power.  Maybe Five-0 would be lucky.  Maybe they would find this plutonium and the spies before anything was happened.  Maybe the spies didn’t have a complete bomb, and this was just part of it.  They wouldn’t know until they found the spies.

 

“What is it?”

 

Dan’s voice seemed far away.  McGarrett pushed past the incredulity and turned to his officer.  He explained the case, the words, the detailing of the objective.  The discussion settled him into a familiar routine.  They were cops.  A gang of thugs came here to perpetrate a hideous crime and they were going to stop them.  Just another day for Five-0.

 

He didn’t give Williams a chance to sink far into the incredulous horror of the possibilities.  Briskly he issued orders, centering them on a path of routine investigation.

 

“Call Chin and Duke in here,” he began, patting his friend’s shoulder in reassurance.  “We’ll get Chin going in the Asian community and get some of his contacts to help us.  Duke can start on the HPD database for politicos who’ve stirred up trouble.”

 

Falling into the routine like a trooper, Williams took a deep breath.  “Wow.  This is heavy.”  For a moment he seemed too anxious to say more.  Finally, he refocused.  “Want me to liaison with the FBI?”

 

The phone rang.  McGarrett paced back to the desk.  “This is probably Sullivan now.  Start checking out the freight services -- air and sea.  Let’s see if anyone suspicious has booked passage for Taiwan.”

 

“Okay.”

 

As Williams started to turn away, McGarrett stopped him.  “Danno.”

 

The younger man halted and spun around.

 

“This is just another crime.  We’re going to stop them and it’s going to be all right.”

 

Williams nodded, a grin edging his mouth, his face losing some of the worry-shadow.  “Of course.  I’ve got that burglary case and a date with a tourist to think about.  I’m not going to let nuclear smugglers ruin my plans in paradise.”

 

=====

 

Why couldn't he remember anything else about the last moments of normalcy for his world?  Why couldn't he connect vital clues . . . .

 

Maybe because none of it mattered now.  What did the failed investigation mean after the destruction of Oahu?  After the death of his friends?  Nothing.  It all meant nothing.

 

*****

 

“Steve McGarrett has been unaccounted for most of today and you don’t consider that a crisis?”

 

Dan Williams didn’t bother controlling his volume or displeasure while addressing the Admiral facing him on the dock at Ala Wai Yacht Harbor helipad.  The high-ranking officer was a little more bull-headed than most of the military leaders he’d come up against and that was saying a lot.  Especially considering he worked with Steve.  The tension of the case, the fatigue of everyone concerned lent shortness to their tempers and sharpness to their manners, but that did not make his alarm less strident or important.   

 

“We have spies on this island with nuclear material, Williams.  That’s a hell of a lot more vital than --“

 

“The top state law enforcement officer missing during this investigation is not important?” he cut in savagely.  “They’ve kidnapped Steve!  Or killed him!  He was supposed to fly air cover for us and he never showed up at the chopper!  They’ve got him.”

 

The Admiral was a tall, lean man with silver hair and cuttingly sharp blue eyes.  He glared at Williams for a moment to enhance his sense of literal height over the detective, and his  authority both real and imagined. 

 

“You’re watching too many Fu Manchu movies, Williams.  These spies are clever.  They tricked us into this false trail.  We’ve concentrated our main forces here and they’re probably at the airport!  Get your men back to working the streets and get us some answers!”

 

Not intimidated, Williams dismissed the man before he walked more than a few paces.  His mind was working; not on sending his detectives out to brow-beat informants and fulfill so called cop duties for the military.  His focus was finding his missing friend. 

 

Everyone involved in the multi-service operation depended on the Five-0 and HPD officers to find the clues so the rest of the services could act on the information.  No one could comb the streets of Honolulu like the people who lived and worked here.  Professional spies were roaming; Naval Intelligence, Army Intelligence, and a lot of others they weren’t informed about probably.  But beat cops and local detectives had the advantage over them all. 

 

So far, Five-0 had discovered the identities of several Taiwanese operatives who were being hidden by Chinese expatriates.  Among these fugitives were some spies who had histories of smuggling armaments.  San Lee, a man killed in a traffic accident, inadvertently alerted the local cops that the smugglers were still here.  Information found in his possession suggested the plutonium was heading for China today.

 

Three days earlier, the State Department had informed McGarrett that stolen plutonium was headed toward Hawaii.  Supposedly by Taiwan nationals.  With all the pieces converging in Hawaii, the CIA and FBI were guessing a bomb would be assembled on the way to mainland China. 

 

America had no great love for China, but a bomb coming from the 50th state and blowing up part of the Red Communist mainland could be the trigger for World War III.  So for three days Five-0 had worked round the clock to help the spies and military.  The police had been the fall guys for everything that had gone wrong, for not working fast enough or being smart enough.  McGarrett had weathered the criticism with expected impatience and had worked law enforcement harder than ever to prove they could do the job better than the interlopers he was forced to tolerate.

 

Williams walked over to the sedan where Chin Ho Kelly and Duke Lukela waited for him.  “I’ll show him Fu Manchu,” he darkly muttered, and for a fleeting, cold moment wondered what Wo Fat was doing these days.  Everyone else was on Oahu, he probably was, too!

 

“What did he say?” Chin asked, glaring at the departing Admiral and his cadre of SPs and followers.

 

“He doesn’t think it’s very important that Steve is missing.”

 

Duke exchanged a glance with the Oriental detective, then looked at Williams with gravely shaded eyes.  “You know, Danny, Steve sometimes goes off on his own --“

 

“Not like this, Duke,” Williams assured flatly.  “He would have said something if he came up with a brainstorm, or if some lead came up.  If he could.”  He glanced around, missing the beautiful scenery and perfect weather, consumed only with dark worry.  “Between the Palace and here he disappeared.”

 

Issuing assignments, he ordered Kelly to check on any officers who might have seen McGarrett, or his car in the last hour.  He told Lukela to start questioning people around the dock and harbor area and work his way back downtown.  Williams would return to the Palace and start from there.

 

Driving away, Dan forced his mind to work the problem logically.  He was suffering from stress, exhaustion and the literal threat of a nuclear bomb hanging over their heads.  Adding to that the disappearance at this critical time of his closest friend, he was amazed at the cool, even detached professionalism that was settling over him.  He was agonized about his friend’s safety, but somehow, through some deep instinct, knew that this kidnapping was proof that Five-0 was close.  They were going to solve this, they were going to save Honolulu from nuclear danger.  Perhaps keep the earth from entering a devastating war.  And, he personally vowed, he was going to find McGarrett.  He would not allow his mentor and boss to be a sacrifice to save the world.

 

Waiting to turn onto Ala Moana from Hobron, Williams watched the tourists cross the street.  It was just another day in paradise for all these people and he was reminded of the vital mission of finding the Taiwan spies.  A bell rang as a pedicab passed him and the driver waved.  Tony, a low level snitch, was headed makai with a couple of tourists dressed in bright Aloha shirts.

 

Watching the pedicab disappear around the corner of the Ilikai, Dan suddenly realized he had forgotten a basic tenant of investigation.  Whipping the LTD around, he chalked up his oversight to fatigue, otherwise, he would have known the best people to help were the ones that no one noticed.  The hotel workers, the pedicab drivers, the door attendants.  The invisible army of workers that no one paid attention to, but were always around, watching and remembering the trivia of life. 

 

Screeching the car to a halt in front of the Ilikai, Dan questioned three pedicab drivers there.  Several more passed by and he stopped them all as he walked Diamond Head. In front of some colorful, quaint little tourist shops he flagged down Tony before he wheeled away in search of another fare.

 

“Tony!”

 

“Hey, Mistah Williams --“

 

“Tony, did you see McGarrett today?  About an hour ago?”

 

“Yeah,” he nodded, as if it was a normal occurrence, and of course, it was.  “Seen him just about where you were.”

 

“At the corner?”

 

“Yeah.  Stopped by a big truck.  Talkin’ to some Chinese as I was driving past.”

 

Williams’ heart raced.  “Chinese?  How do you know?”  Hawaii was a multicultural/multiracial state with a high percentage of interracial marriage and mixed heritage.  “What makes you say the man was Chinese?”

 

“Cause he talkin’ in Mandarin.  Same lingo da cooks at House of Hong use.  I hang out at dat corner enough to know.  Musta been important.  Chinese guy got in da car with McGarrett and they drove into the tower parking garage.”

 

“The Ilikai Tower?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Did you see McGarrett or the Chinese man come out?”

 

“Nah.  I been working.”

 

Dan fished out some bills from his pocket and pressed them into Tony’s hand.  “Mahalo.”

 

He jumped in the car and radioed his colleagues as he wheeled around and returned to Hobron Street, racing into the parking garage of the condominiums.  On the third level he spotted the Mercury.   Slamming on the brakes, he approached with caution, quickly checking around him for clues, but there was nothing overt.  The black sedan was sitting alone, no Chinese spies.  No body, he sighed with relief.  Just to make sure he quickly popped the trunk.  Empty.

 

A brown LTD sped up, Chin and Duke emerging.  He filled them in and ordered them to get a lab team over.  Then he noticed Tony wheeling up the ramp.

 

“Just remembered somethin’,” Tony said as he stopped the pedicab next to the detective.  “McGarrett, he was kinda layin’ his head back.  Like he was restin’.”

 

Dan stopped him.  “Resting?  Did he look hurt?  Was he still alive?”

 

Tony looked at him as if he was crazy.  “Guess he was breathin’.  Didn’t stop to ask.”

 

Ignoring the sarcasm, Williams urgently tried to clarify the information.  “What else?”

 

“The Chinese guy say somethin’ about Diamond Head.”

 

Diamond Head.  The direction?”

 

Tony shrugged.  “Don’t know.  Didn’t seem like a local, ya know?  Dressed too flashy.  I would know a local Chinese that loaded.  Think they was talking about the mountain, ya know.  Diamond Head.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Tony shrugged.  “Just a few things I seen and heard as I was ridin’ past, man.  He say Diamond Head along with a lotta gibberish in Chinese.  Don’t know nothin’ else.”

 

“Mahalo.”  Dan shook his hand.  “You’ve been a big help, Tony.  I’ll remember this.” 

 

Dan rushed the detectives into his car and they sped off.  He radioed for back up, not sure what to expect.  Did the spies want to blow up the secure government facility in the crater of Diamond Head?  Why?  Everybody thought their goal was to bomb China.  Why linger here?  Why kidnap the head of Five-0? 

 

As usual when dealing with spies and governments, nothing was as it appeared.  Sensing everyone was on a wild goose chase, suspecting another sinister angle that no one else had seen before, Dan again wondered where Wo Fat was and what he was up to lately.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Mr. McGarrett, what can you tell me about the last phase of your investigation?”

 

“What does it matter now?  They’re all --  his voice caught on the knot of agony running from his heart into his throat.  He simply shook his head in defeat.  He couldn’t go on.  Could not say the words aloud.

 

Commander Renfield’s voice became more urgent.  “The spies could have accomplices still alive, McGarrett.  We need to know everything you know.  Every detail could help us.  What if they have another bomb?”

 

He had not considered the alarming danger still hovering above them all.  How could he?  There was too much tragedy to take in.  Gamely, he tried to concentrate on the case.  He focused in on the Palace -- his center.  What was the last memory he had there?  An office filled with people.  FBI, Navy, Danno.

 

The recollection was so real it was like he was there.  Until the memory phased into white.   The cold concrete against his cheek reminded him he was underground and safe from the devastated remains of Oahu.

 

In his mind’s eye he reviewed the landmarks, the streets:  The Palace, the Capitol, and the Aloha Tower.  He bought his clothes at Ala Moana Mall and frequented Nick’s at the harbor . . . . Then those locations would crowd with faces and he had to flee mentally from the raw tragedy of loss.

 

As the panoramic scenery of beaches and sunsets and rainbows sifted through his memory, he tried to think about the case, as the commander had asked.  Every time he pushed his thoughts to those questions, a face, a moment, a conversation slammed into his mind and tears burned his wrapped eyes.

 

As he tried to remember catches of investigative clues or case notes -- his recollections snagged on a voice, a snatch of conversation, a word, a look:

 

Chin and the Kelly family at the Five-0 fishing outing the Chinese detective had arranged.

 

Danno coaching the Five-0 little league team to the playoffs.  Talking about his dates.  Trying to get time off to go surfing.  Trying to get Steve to play tennis . . . .

 

Ben Kokua’s daughters and wife, in full hula regalia, dropping in at the office to show off their trophy from winning a hula competition.

 

Duke Lukela and his sons joining him on a day on his restored boat.

 

Danno interrupting a late-night think session with Chinese food.  Tired jokes and speculations on his latest fling . . . .

 

All of it was gone now.  Every cherished landmark, every Waikiki hotel, even the rock of Diamond Head partially crumbled.  Gone.  Along with every tourist, the professionals he worked with every day, every sailor at Pearl.  All the Kelly children; Lukela and Kokua children.  Chin and his wife and Ben and his family.  Ohana.  The family he would never see again.

 

And Danno .  .  .  . 

 

All he could see now were not the good memories, not the fun times or the laughter, but the stress, the demands he had leveled at his second-in-command during this horrendous case.  The tragedy was closing out the best of his former life and forcing him to relive the negatives: his demanding authority, his dominance, his insistence that they had to keep slaving away – keep wearing themselves out. 

 

It had all been for nothing. 

 

His last moments with his closest friend, with his brother, were nothing more than the shared tension of working colleagues that didn’t have time to say anything kind.  No time to acknowledge there was meaning beyond the job.  He hardly enjoyed not only his island paradise, but the people that were more important than the trees and beaches and rainbows.  He had never been much of anything but a workaholic, he glumly assessed.  Now that it was too late, he could not go back and change the deficiencies of his past.  Duty demanded he let things like friendship and ohana take a back seat to work.  Like he was saving the world.  He thought – obviously misguidedly – that he had been saving society one criminal at a time.  In the end, what had it all meant?  The sparse recreation or companionable moments were hardly surfacing now.  They were pushed away by the all too common scenes of investigations.  Hardly the legacy he expected.  But, then, he had not exactly thought he would be known as the man who failed to save Hawaii and millions of innocent people.  That, of course, would be his epitaph now.

 

“Are there any rainbows?” he asked, forcing his mind away from the hurting personal loss.

 

“Rainbows?”

 

At the oddest times the emotions would pile up and he would start to crumble.  Usually it was silent anguish -- remembering his guys, the kids at the hospital, the innocent people enjoying vacations in Waikiki.  Danno.   He shifted away from the faces and accepted that his perfect paradise was irreparably damaged. 

 

“Did the fallout -- are there any rainbows?”

 

“I haven’t noticed,” the Commander admitted with a touch of surprise.  “I’ll check next time I talk to someone who is topside.”

 

McGarrett merely nodded, too choked up to respond vocally.  No rainbows.  Hawaii, the state of rainbows.  There had to be some left somewhere.  It would be the first thing he looked for when he went back to the surface.  Then he would climb up to the lip of Diamond Head crater and observe the devastation.  The incinerated rubble of Honolulu that he was responsible for creating.

 

In his mind he tried to go back to what had happened.  He was blocked.  His recollections always halted at his arrival at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.  He couldn’t’ remember the search, or the escape to Diamond Head.  Was guilt blocking his memory?  For some reason he had abandoned his men.  He had left Chin and Duke and Danno there at ground zero and he had deserted to the safety of a bomb shelter. 

 

Concentrating, he tried again, backtracking to the traffic jam by Ala Moana shopping mall.  Driving his car form the Palace.  The last conversation with Danno . . . . 

 

“Tell me about the spy ring?”

 

The demanding tone irked him.  The Commander had interrupted an unpleasant memory, yes, but it was a cherished moment with Danno.  A prized and treasured scene he could never live over again.  He could not go back and apologize.  He could not make up for his harsh and abrupt manner by taking his friend out to dinner, or giving him an extra day off to go surfing.  All that was melted on the spray of nuclear wind and the young Navy officer was ruining the only comfort he had left.  What memories yet lingered were his only connection to a devastated past.  Why couldn’t they leave him alone in his grief? 

 

“I don’t remember any more.” 

 

Hysterical amnesia, or physical amnesia due to the injuries, the doctor had told him.  It didn’t matter.  Even the danger of future attacks didn’t jog his memory.  All he could think of was the loss he had suffered, not the mission.  He had failed with the case.  What did anything else matter?  Didn’t they have a myriad of military and civilian people to do their bidding?  Why did they persecute a cop stuck under Diamond Head?

 

“That’s not good enough, McGarrett.”

 

The tone, the phraseology, suddenly set his teeth on edge.  He had sensed it before, but now he was certain.  There was something off about Commander Sinclair. Perhaps his sixth sense was blocking his memory so he would not confess all to this unseen, but suddenly suspicious person who tried too hard to be his ally. 

 

“I can’t remember,” he sighed tiredly, but internally alert for every nuance he could hear or sense.  Maybe it was time to try pushing his boundaries.  He had not been emotionally ready until now, but natural wariness was bringing back his instincts.  “I'd like to talk to the Governor now.”

 

“Not yet.  I’ll let you know.”  Sinclair stood.  “Dr. Renfield will administer a sedative --“

 

“I don’t need one,” he denied sharply, then feigned a less aggressive posture, laying back on the bed.  “I’m all right.”

 

“We’ll let the doctor decide.  I’ll send him in directly.”  Renfield left the room with abrupt moves and a slam of the door.

 

Steve’s mind was already working on unraveling the suddenly sinister mystery.  Where was he?  Somewhere damp and cold and built out of concrete like a bunker.  Why wouldn’t they let him talk to anyone else?  Something was – off -- wrong -- about the officers.  What?  He didn’t know specifically, but he knew he no longer believed them. 

 

The trace of a British accent.  The refusals, the interrogations.  British phrases and colloquialisms. They were agents from Hong Kong, obviously.  And Wo Fat was known to operate out of that clandestine theater of covert operations.  It was a sink-hole for espionage activities for every country in the world, but mostly the Red Chinese.  What if the medication they gave him was really pentothal not a sedative?  What if he was not really blind?  What would happen if he removed the bandages?

 

"Are there any rainbows?"

 

“I haven’t noticed,” the Commander admitted with a touch of surprise.  “I’ll check next time I talk to someone who is topside.”

 

He hadn't noticed?  How could he not notice if he never went topside?  If he was a prisoner underground just as Steve was a prisoner of his blindness?  A captive in the bunker protecting them from deadly radiation.  Unless something was wrong . . . .

 

Feeling the wall in front of him, he covertly used his right hand to loosen the wrapping around his eyes.  Very slowly he separated tape, then the gauze, from his skin.   Stretching the coverings, he blinked, startled at the glaring light.  For a moment his nerves twinged.  Had he panicked and inadvertently allowed paranoia to push him to risking damage to his eyes?

 

Slowly, he blinked, gradually allowing his eyes to adjust.  His heart thumped wildly at the thrill of returning sight!  There was no pain, the eyes seemed fine, , and he could distinguish dark and light.  Soon his hand came into focus.  Stretching the swath, he could blurrily see the blanket on the bed and the grey concrete wall at his side.

 

He almost laughed from the sheer delight.  He could see!  Instantly he sobered.  He was captive -- almost helpless -- held by unknown enemies for an unknown purpose.  He would have to be very careful.  And if they lied about his injures, what else were they deceiving him about?  Maybe the Governor was not on another island at all.  Maybe – maybe – please, he prayed -- his wildest possible desire -- that there had never been a nuclear explosion at all.  Let everything outside be normal.  Let Danno, and the others,  be alive. 

 

His heart raced at the possibility, but he tried not to be wildly optimistic. Still, the newfound hope would not die.  It was better to hope than to accept the horrible possibility that what the Naval officers had told him was real.

 

 

*****

 

Grateful that Admiral Heaton and his cronies had not been invited on this excursion, Dan scanned the flat, dry plain of the interior of Diamond Head crater.  There were a few tourists gathered at the Ewa-side park, preparing to hike up to the crest.  The National Guard post was deserted except for a token guard at the gate.  The secure facility was sealed, as it always was, giving the appearance of an abandoned WWII ammo dump.

 

No Chinese.  No McGarrett.  No discarded crates that could house a nuclear bomb.  Tony might have been wrong had he been translating Mandarin, but most foreign languages did not have their own version of American slang or place names.  Diamond Head had been clearly spoken by Steve’s abductor, Tony was sure.

 

Did the spies know about the Diamond Head secret facility?  Were they going to try and blow it up with a bomb?  How did Steve fit into that scenario?  Gazing around the crater he tried to make sense of the series of inexplicable events.  What would they want in Diamond Head?  IN -- he reiterated.

 

The volcanic mountain was honeycombed with old bunkers. On the mauka side they overlooked the ocean. He had a personal, unpleasant experience with those in the past.  A very good place to secretly gather materials and hide out until it was time to leave the island.  Or time to blow it up.

 

Ordering the HPD back-up officers to follow, then racing to his car, he sped from his location across the crater to the tunnels.  On the mauka side there were access passageways to several old bunkers.  At the road leading into the steel access doors, he stopped, ordering the policemen to blockade the area.  Anyone who tried to come toward the tunnels was to be arrested. 

 

Taking his rifle with a high-powered scope from the trunk of the car, he scrambled up the brush-encrusted slope of the volcano and carefully walked along a dirt footpath.  His pace was anxious and quick, aware that it was late afternoon and all too quickly he would be losing daylight.  He couldn’t rush this, though, because stealth and surprise were his only advantage.  If spies were holed up behind bunker walls, they had chosen an easily defensible position.  There might be no way to force his way in, but maybe he could sneak inside.

 

If they had Steve as a hostage, he would have to be very careful.  The last thing he wanted was to get his friend killed during a rescue attempt.  Or, nearly as bad, end up alerting the terrorists and have Steve end up as a hostage.

 

When he came in sight of the first steel entry he studied the road and, the door through the scope.  No sign of tampering.  The hinges and locks looked rusted.  He jogged away, on to the next target.

 

At the second, more remote entrance he fell to his stomach to hide behind the bushes.  Two cars were parked there and the chains were off the door.  Calling back on his walkie-talkie he gave the license plates numbers and requested officers armed with rifles to quietly join him.

 

 

*****

 

During his captivity -- that was what Steve thought of this imprisonment now -- he had noted on some subconscious level the rhythms and patterns of the personnel around him.  He talked his way out of more medication, and as soon as the doctor left he lifted the bandages again.  If they stuck to their program, they would leave him alone for a while.  Sitting up, he removed the bandages and looked around his room.

 

 

*****

 

Just as he set down the walkie-talkie, Dan heard the screech of metal from the bunker.  Someone was opening the door!  He ran down the slope at full tilt, heedless of the consequences.  If he could go in while someone was coming out it would save countless lives by avoiding a frontal assault.  It might save Steve’s life.

 

When an Oriental man stepped out he was slammed in the face by the butt of Dan’s rifle.  Quickly, Dan dragged the body clear of the door and waited.  No one shot at him or raised an alarm.  Pulling the body behind some bushes he reached in his pocket for his talkie, then realized he must have left it in the dirt back on the hill.  No time to waste, he slipped into the dark interior of the passageway and left the door open.

 

The warren was sinister and dank and Dan jogged toward the faint illumination far ahead.  Light was spilling from the open doorway of a room on the right and as he approached he slowed.  Dashing in, seeing it was empty, he took a moment to search the meager furnishings.  It was like a small camp; supplies, a few newspapers written in Chinese, hand guns.  Two plates, two sets of chopsticks, two cups.

 

A creak of old metal echoed in the corridor.  One kidnapper was outside in the dirt.  The other must be coming his way.  He flattened against the wall and waited, his rifle resting on his shoulder, but his index finger touching the trigger.  First a black shoe silently appeared inches into the room.  Then in a blur of motion a man holding a gun stepped into the room.

 

“Steve!” he recognized before he had swung his rifle down to aim.  With relief, he dropped the weapon to his side.

 

Instinctively McGarrett turned, his pistol ready, then he gasped.  His face flushed white with shock and the gun dropped from his hand.

 

“Danno,” he hardly whispered.

 

Expressions of relief and delight that Dan had never seen before on his friend transformed the surprise into joy.  He grabbed onto Dan and hugged him, shaking, muttering and sobbing.

 

Frozen, aware they were in a perilous situation, Williams didn’t object or comment, simply returned the embrace -- with less fervency and desperation -- and allowed the tremendous emotions to play out.  It only took a few moments for McGarrett to regain normal control, and after patting Dan’s shoulder a few times he stepped away, self-consciously wiping his face dry with trembling hands.

 

“Are you all right?” Dan wondered, a little unnerved and awed.  He held onto Steve’s elbow in support.

 

McGarrett laughed, patting his shoulder again.  “Yeah, Danno.  I’m all right now.”  He drew him close again.  “Just so grateful.”

 

“There’s another captor wandering around.”

 

“Not any more.”  McGarrett flexed his right fist.  He was without jacket, tie or shoulder holster, and his arm was covered with white powder.  Obviously something significant had happened -- beyond the kidnapping.  Dan would have to learn more when the time was right.

 

“How did you find me?”

 

“Long story.”  He stared at his friend, wondered what the white stuff was around Steve’s eyes.   There would be a lot for the boss to tell as well.  “You have one too, I bet.”

 

“It’ll wait,” he assured, continuing a close scrutiny, as he had the entire reunion.  “It’s just good to see you.”

 

Starting to get a glimmer of what might have happened, Dan told McGarrett he had been missing for over five hours.  That surprised him, and urged to continue, the second-in-command related a little of events on his side of the afternoon.  Running feet scraped against the concrete floor and McGarrett moved away with one more reassuring pat on Dan’s back.

 

By the time the HPD and Five-0 back-up arrived, the chief of Five-0 was pretty much his normal, commanding self.  He ordered the officers to go retrieve the man he had knocked unconscious in a cell down the hall.  Then he ordered everyone to fan out and search every room in the warren.  Somewhere in this catacomb of channels was enough plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

 

Williams suggested McGarrett take it easy, but the chief was following the first group of men while, still shouting commands.  Dan noted, however, that whenever he strayed to talk to one of the HPD men, or to check out a room himself, McGarrett was right there with him, usually hanging onto his arm.  Dan didn’t question the unusual behavior, or the extreme emotionalism he had witnessed at their initial reunion.  He was just glad Steve was alive.

 

Far back down another two tunnels Chin came upon the crates containing the components for the bomb.  Assured all items were there, including the plutonium, McGarrett ordered the officers away and told Chin to call in the military.  They could dispose of the lethal components.

 

“We’ve been royally tricked,” Steve revealed as he walked down the dusty corridor.  “These were Red Chinese agents.”

 

“Putting up a smoke screen, making us think they were Taiwan terrorists?”

 

McGarrett stared at Williams with narrow eyes.  “You know?”

 

“No, I suspected something was up.  And I wondered --“

 

Wo Fat,” Steve supplied certainly.

 

“How did you know?”

 

“Who else could manipulate and coordinate something on this level?  His plan was to blow up Honolulu and blame Taiwan.  Throwing world sympathy to the Red Chinese and ending the Taiwan separation.  With Wo Fat sitting in the seat of power.”

 

Admiringly, Dan smiled.  “How did you figure all that out?”

 

They were at the entrance of the bunker and the dying sun cast tawny shadows across the red volcanic earth.  McGarrett leaned against the steel gate and sighed, taking a moment to study the barren landscape of the extinct volcano.

 

“They were going to shoot me up with sodium pentothal.  When I overpowered the guy pretending to be a doctor, I turned the tables and injected him.  He had a lot to say about Wo Fat and their little plot.”

 

Laughing, Dan shook his head in amazement.  “Wow.  And I thought we were doing pretty good just to find you.  Alive, I’m happy to say.”

 

Holding onto Dan’s neck, McGarrett smiled, struggling to keep at bay stronger emotions grappling to creep out.  “Yeah.  Alive.  We’re all lucky.”

 

*****

 

“McGarrett!”

 

The name was a curse!  A plague on his house!

 

Turning from the telex machine, Wo Fat surveyed the bustling Hong Kong harbor without seeing the boats and buildings.  His mind was thousands of miles away.  On the tiny tropical island of Oahu.  Where his greatest nemesis resided.  Where McGarrett dwelt -- seemingly only to frustrate his every plan.

 

“You should be dead!

 

There would be a day he would turn the tables.  McGarrett would not always win.  He would get McGarrett back for all these thwarted plots and embarrassments.  Not today, but some day.

 

“Next time, McGarrett!  Next time!”

 

 

*****

 

The full story did not come out to all those concerned.  The crush of activity covered the need for complete disclosure.  The military, the governor, the State Department ,CIA and FBI all moved in to have a hand in the capture and interrogation of the spies, and to take the credit.  After officials finally filtered out of the Five-0 offices, and even the detectives faded home, late that night.  At the end of the grueling ordeal, the Palace took on the quiet persona of closure and peace.

 

A few colleagues had congratulated him on the efficiency of ending the crisis, but most had shrugged off McGarrett and Five-0’s efforts.  All in a day’s work.  Only the Governor had been particularly grateful and told Steve it was the most important crime he had ever solved for the state.

 

Impossible to argue with the sentiment, McGarrett accepted the praise and wrapped up the details of the crisis that had consumed his staff for days.  At last, everyone had gone home and McGarrett remained, rocking in his chair and staring out at the night-washed grounds of Iolani Palace. 

 

Complete details had been left out of the official reports distributed to all concerned agencies and VIPs.  Not that he was covering up his embarrassing abduction, but no one needed to know the effectiveness of the drugs unless they asked.  The spies, of course, confessed nothing, so his secret was safe with them.  Not that it was a terrible, traitorous move, but he did not want to admit to so many strangers and colleagues that he had been so effectively hurt.

 

The spies had convinced him days had passed when it had only been minutes between visits.  They had him believe his world had been incinerated.  Those were emotions he did not want to revisit, and would not include for generals and NSA analysts to dissect.  All they needed to know was the spies had been captured, the plutonium safely recovered.

 

A soft knock sounded at the door and Williams stepped in.  It almost made him laugh, and cry, that this was exactly what he had remembered most clearly in his foggy and distorted drug sessions.  The late night, after everyone else had gone home, and Danno was still here.  Still willing to fight the fight and do whatever needed to be accomplished.  Mostly, he stayed to the bitter end because of devotion.  He was there supporting McGarrett.  And why did the boss stay after such a horrifying day?

 

Steve knew he remained only because his residual terrors would not dissipate easily.  Despite his abject weariness, he could not go home and sleep.  Although in his drugged state he had napped on and off for the afternoon, it had not alleviated any fatigue. 

 

Turning to Dan, he noted his friend displayed every bit of the tension and lethargy diversely in keeping with the grueling ordeal of days of crisis living.  Yet, typically, Danno remained until McGarrett was ready to leave.  Loyal to a fault.  The thoughts reminded him of the anguish still lingering from the horrible images he had lived with.

 

“Ready to go home?”

 

It was a simple question, but filled Steve with abject repulsion.  Go home?  He was home.  This was more his haven and refuge than his apartment or his boat.  But even he could not stay here forever.  And tonight he did not relish the solitude that he usually sought after punishing cases.  Tonight he needed to be part of humanity.  To relish the people and places he thought he had lost forever.  Maybe he should start by coming clean and telling one of his important people just how vital Danno was in his life.  What if the world had been destroyed today?  Danno would never really understand what a value he was -- what an anchor in this dangerous and shifting world.

 

“No, Danno.”  He shook his head, unable to give up and leave, unable to confess to the demons threatening from the darkness and solitude of his imagination.  “Not yet.”

 

Williams stood next to the desk, nervously fingering the corner of a file folder.  As usual, the intuitive officer sensed the mood -- knew his boss well -- and started to piece together the clues.  Finally he stopped fidgeting, studying McGarrett with sympathy.  “They did a number on you, didn’t they?”

 

Unable to voice the truth, Steve nodded. 

 

"I was afraid of that."

 

McGarrett gestured to the sofa.  “Sit down.  I wanted to --“ he sighed deeply.  “I wanted to let you know what happened.”

 

Aware of the importance of the moment, Williams was soberly compassionate.  “You sure you’re ready?”


He didn’t want to let Danno know the depths of his grief.  Danno above all others should not know the worst of his flaws.  There was a need, however, to overcome the reticent isolation of his nature and connect with the most important person in his life.  Just hours ago he thought his world devastated and all lost.  Now he was here, everything intact.  Facing the person he would have given anything to save.  Steve needed to voice something of that desperate experience.  That friend deserved the truth.   It seemed the only way to relieve the pressure of the haunting memories.

 

”Yeah.”

 

Starting slowly, pacing, he related when he first awoke in the bunker.  Without looking at his friend, he explained the cruel proficiency with which the Chinese agents had shattered his emotions; convinced him that everything and nearly everybody he loved was obliterated.  It had been a very effective torture.  As he related the tale the guilt at succumbing to the masquerade dissipated. 

 

There had been no possible defense against the plot.  Now, there was only one antidote to thinking everything in his world had been devastated.  Embracing and absorbing the blessed reality of his paradise was the way to dissolve the horrible images of the psychological torture.

 

Afterwards he was silent, standing by the lanai doors, looking out at the quiet night.  Dan wiped at his face.  “I’m sorry you had to go through that, Steve.”  His shaky, cracked voice matched the emotions in his pained expression.  “It’s horrible.”

 

‘Yeah,” he whispered hoarsely.

 

“It wasn’t your fault.  There was nothing you could have done.  You had to accept what they told you.”

 

“Unfortunately, for a while, I did.”

 

Tinged with a shade of pride and confidence, Williams almost smiled.  “Then you beat them at their own game.  Incredible how you figured it out, Steve.”

 

He found it hard to accept any accolades on his part.  For too long he had believed the lies.  “It’s over,” he sighed at last.  “Thankfully the tragedy never happened.”  He leaned on the door jam and stared at his friend.  “And it taught me something I’ve known all along, but don’t practice much.”

 

“What?”

 

“To appreciate everything I love, because it -- they -- might not be around forever.”

 

Nodding, Dan agreed that was a valuable lesson.  Appreciation was not something they indulged in enough, he agreed.  They became all too immune to the beauty of paradise.

 

“So, I’m going to start now.”

 

“How?”

 

I’m going down to Waikiki and have dinner at the Beachcomber.  Care to join me?”

 

Dan’s brows scrunched together in perplexity.  “That’s one of the hottest nightclubs in town.”

 

“Yeah.  Nice tables right on the beach.”

 

“Loud music.  Lots of tourists.  The kind of place you avoid.”

 

“That’s just the place I feel like visiting.   Where I can appreciate things I love.”  He walked over and held out his hand.  A little surprised at the uncharacteristic gesture, Dan shook hands.  Steve pulled him up and put his arm around his shoulder.  “Thank you for coming after me.”

 

“I didn’t do a lot of good.  You’d already rescued yourself.”

 

“You were there for me, Danno.  You always are.”  His voice shook.  “When I thought everything was I cared about was destroyed --  He couldn’t go on.  Could not voice the terrible anguish that he had thought his closest friend was dead.  Danno had been the one he missed most.  The one he was happiest to see.  He shook his head, unable to say more.  “Mahalo.”

 

Dan patted his arm, his face and tone revealed he understood completely.  “Everything’s okay now.”

 

“Yeah.”  Steve took in a deep breath, ready to put the horrors behind him.  “Let’s go.  Beachcomber.  My treat.”

 

Transforming into amusement, Dan grinned, the previous fatigue easing a little.  “Great.  Beachcomber it is.”  He opened the door.  “Good to have you back, Steve.”

 

Shrugging into his coat, McGarrett paused for a moment and put an arm around Dan’s shoulders.  “It’s great to be back.  More than you’ll ever know.”

 

PAU