The leather encased badge/ID belonging to Dan
Williams, and the driver's license of Curt Metzger, were turned over and over
in the hands of Steve McGarrett. The moment he saw them, accompanied by the audio cassette tape, he understood all the stunning and
horrifying implications of the articles.
A numbing cold stabbed right through his bones. Heartbeats pounded against
his chest while his senses froze. He could not move or think through the chilling
shock of realization. Then, in near slow motion, he moved into his office in a
kind of trance. He flung open the lanai doors behind his desk and leaned a
shoulder against the doorframe, staring with viewless eyes onto the lawn and
trees of the Palace grounds. Unconsciously he continued to shuffle the
identification items in his hands in an almost nervous compulsion -- a cushion
of disbelief warring with the terrors of stark reality.
As a cop, he understood he engaged in a war with an invisible enemy. The
band of terrorists known as the People's Attack Group randomly executed
innocent people in Honolulu for
several weeks. 'Nothing personal murders,' dubbed as a catch phrase from the
press. He knew when HPD had captured two of the terrorists yesterday that the
strange new form of urban warfare would escalate and incite more mindless,
motiveless killings. Instead, the PAG had struck back with a terrifying stroke
of vengeance that was probably more affective than they could imagine. He was
afraid that was the first miscalculation that might cost him more than he could
conceive, more than he could bear.
Again studying the items in his hand his heart constricted anew as the
initial shock dissipated and the true grip of fear clutched him. Curt Metzger,
a European expert on terrorism, had become a friend through his many
consultations with Five-0. His blunt, right-wing attacks of the PAG in the
newspapers made him an obvious, high publicity target for the group's hate and
revenge. Danno, of course, represented everything the group hated -- one of the
top cops of Hawaii Five-0. It did
not get much more establishment and symbolic than that! Metzger happened to be
lunching today with the second in command of the state police agency. The set
up must have been more of a ripe pineapple than the terrorists could forgo. Two
prime hostages snatched in one stroke.
For a moment his mind filled with harsh self
recrimination. He should have foreseen Metzger as a target when the expert
wrote incendiary articles about the terrorists and consulting with Five-0. He
should have seen his staff as possible targets because of their very high
profile enforcement jobs. In reality he knew he was
just searching for a way to deal with his sense of helplessness. He had no
control over these mad radicals in the first place. Now striking a cutting blow
literally and personally to his heart, they moved the advantage entirely into
their venue. His only modicum of optimism was that the terrorists did not know
how deeply this hit him on a personal level.
'Nothing personal,' he repeated to himself. The wrenching irony
brought his anger and pain to the surface and with a clenched fist he threw a punch into the dooframe.
'Dammit, how could I allow this to happen?'
He shuffled the ID's in his hands. 'How could you allow Curt and you to be
captured, Danno?' he mentally criticized Williams. 'I am counting on you
to keep Curt -- and you -- alive .'
Whom was he kidding? The momentary anger evolved from hurt and frustration,
fading into acute anguish. There was no defense against
faceless, amoral strangers who walked up to victims and executed them for no
reason. How could a professor or even a seasoned cop protect themselves against such anonymous terrorism?
Feeling weary and heartsick, McGarrett turned and placed the articles on
the desk. He set up the tape and pressed the cassette deck to play. Feeling his
body tremble in anticipation of the message he slumped
down into his chair.
At this date the People's Attack Group has
captured one chronic liar named Curt Metzger and one storm trooper named Dan
Williams. They are being held as prisoners of war and
are under sentence of death as enemies of the people. You, however, can save
the lives of these criminals. We stand ready to exchange prisoners Metger and Williams for comrades and brothers Victor and
Driver. If you don't accept our offer, your Fascist
pigs will be executed. And our retribution will not
stop there. As long as Victor and Driver remain in chains
we will continue to take prisons of war and execute them. No man, woman, child
on the island will be safe from our vengeance.
With an unsteady hand he stopped the tape. He
carefully, deliberately, placed the driver's license on the desk. Then he
opened the leather case and stared at the ID and badge. Lightly he rubbed his
thumb over the cool metal of the gold shield. He forced himself to study these
personal possessions. They were tangible links to his friends; their safe keeping, in some symbolic way, would extend to the
McGarrett was a realist and even in a time of intimate crisis
he could not ignore facts. There was no way he could do anything to release prisoners
for an exchange of hostages. He could not recommend it to the Governor and he
never would. It would go against every principle of ethics and sense he had as
a cop. It would encourage more murders, more acts of terrorism, here and now
and in the future, everywhere in the world. It would open the door for
slaughter here in Hawaii and he
could not allow that to happen.
Once more he ran his thumb over the etched state
seal and words on the badge. 'Ua Mau KeAa O
Ka Aina I Ka Pono. The life
of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.' An old Hawaiian phrase
encompassing the belief that the well being of the land and people were linked
to their respect and love of the land and each other and in a higher power. He
had always felt that motto an expression of his mission in life. In a rather
arrogant way McGarrett saw himself as a righteous
protector of justice in his office as head of Five-0.
However, now the words and meaning blurred into
indistinct greys of confusion.Momentarily he questioned the ideals and principles at stake
here. The connotation of 'life' had a very personal and specific meaning today.
The lives of two valuable friends hung in the balance
between life and death. How right did he have to be this time? Just once could
not he bend?
'Just once can't you give in?'
It was a snatch of a conversation long ago. It was Dan's voice asking,
probing. Dan's version of reverse psychology, a ploy he often used so McGarrett
could think through his motivations and reasoning.
McGarrett thought back to another hostage situation. Dan wounded and held
captive in a hospital. There had been consideration beyond the threat to Dan's
life on that day, too. Steve forced to surrender to those other factors.
Luckily it had all worked out with Dan safely rescued.
This occasion would not be so easy. Proven killers without ethics or
identities held two men labeled 'enemies' as captives. The two hostages were
victims the terrorists had hand picked from animosity as well as political
He thought over the ultimatum to release the HPD prisoners in trade for the
hostages. An impossible request coupled with a deadly threat. It pressed him
with a sudden sense of hopelessness.
'They must feel very threatened by Curt,' he mused. 'And how
those animals must hate Danno,' he thought with a frightful chill. 'You
are everything they find contemptible and threatening, Danno. Please be
He tried to imagine the treatment of his friends and found the
possibilities too morbid to explore. Curt's frank,
tactless approach to the truth became a liability in this circumstance. Danno,
McGarrett's lip twitched with a ghost of a grin, Danno could be smug, even
cocky when confronted with scums who represented a
threat. This time he hoped his friend was very, very cautious. The assessment
of his friends' personalities caused McGarrett grave concern.
The two hostages would never be meek or compromising in any way for their
captors. Not endearing traits to insecure terrorists who liked to do their
speaking with bullets.
"Please just keep your head, Danno," he whispered aloud. He
closed the leather case and turned it over in his hands. 'Curt's a civilian.You're
the expert here, Danno. I'm counting on you to take care of Curt,' he
thought in a silent, mental transmission he wished could be
telepathically received by his friend. 'And I expect you to take care
of yourself, my friend.'
The thought brought a new, even more fearful angle to the dilemma. Dan
would certainly never knuckle under to any concessions the terrorists might
try. If there was any negotiation with the prisoners at all.
When the arrested terrorists were not released? Then
Five-0 would have to somehow find the hostages before
the shooting started.
When the bullets started to fly, who would be the first to fall? A frightening question. At the end of this long list of terrors he hardly expected a new one, but it rocked Steve to
the soul to realize he might be able to save only one of his friends. He placed
the leather case on the desk next to Curt's license
and studied the two ID's. His eyes were automatically drawn
to the badge case.
Because of who he was and what he represented, Dan
would seem the most vulnerable target for the assassins. Who better to use as
an example, as a symbolic strike against the system than a state cop? A new
wave of cold fear swept through his nerves. It was a chill anguish of
recognition that there was almost nothing he could do to save
The cold pall of fear was beginning to thaw, mingled with the bubbling heat
of anger. A heat that promised to be a long lasting burn,
culminating in some final eruption at the end of this ordeal. The
unknown terrorism had suddenly altered to be very, very personal. Somewhere,
sometime there would be a reckoning. The pain and helplessness he felt now would be vindicated through justice, and he hoped, more
importantly through the safe return of his friends.
The anger helped close up the most vulnerable wounds in his psyche and
steel himself for the coming battle. He snatched up the tape. He would take
this to the Governor and District Attorney and apprise them on the situation.
They would agree with his assessment that there could be no compromise and
share his hope of finding the hostages before the deadline. They could not
share in his guilt or anxiety for his friends. He did not want any such
compromise. Almost as an afterthought he grabbed the ID's and slipped them into
his pocket. The belongings would serve as a constant reminder that he was
taking this attack very personally and would emphasis that to the terrorists at
the end of this battle.
suggesting we should give in?" John Manicote had
think you know me better than that. Never!Never!Never! I say we draw the
line right here and now and not give an inch, not one inch. We can not deal with people like them. You know -- you know
what Danno's life means to me."
McGarrett leaned against the cold metal of the dank, stale-aired bunker and
fought for breath.
"Now -- your
cop dies now!"Army's last transmission, last
threat, last words.
The death sentence echoed in Steve's head since the pronouncement came over
the radio. Knuckles bloodied from the physical release of his anger and pain,
he was seconds, inches -- lifetimes away from killing this murdering animal
with his bare hands. Army, the pathetic, huddled, beaten leader of the
terrorists quivered on the chill concrete floor.
''You executed Curt!' he condemned.
He wanted nothing more than to continue to pummel the life out of this
wretch, but that would bring him down to Army's level.
'Murderer of my closest friend,' he silently accused in anguish.
"You murdered Danno!"
Just putting the possibility into thoughts sent a crushing pain through his
chest. There was no reason to hope Danno was still alive. On the other side of
the locked, metal door he had heard the gunshot and
knew only one reason for a single shot inside the bunker. Rather than surrender
the remaining hostage alive, Army chose to kill Dan Williams in revenge of his
Staring down at the pathetic, huddled criminal, he felt a wave of sick
revulsion: at Army, at himself. No, Steve McGarrett could not bend, could not
murder this miserable beast who had robbed him of two friends. Just as Steve McGarrett the resolute ironman of
Five-0 could not give in to terrorists -- not ever-- not this one time. And it cost him the dearest life of all.
can't you give in?'
'You know --
you know what Danno's life means to me.'
Not even for Danno could he sink that low, but the desire for vengeance was
so great, he wanted to give in to the emotions. Not even for his closest friend
could he change his rules and negotiate, or bend enough to compromise with the
terrorists. McGarrett's principles were intact, only his heart was broken.
A scraping noise at the back of the bunker filtered through his shock and
grief. A blur of white caught in the corner of his eye. He turned to see a
bedraggled, dirty, battered, Dan Williams standing at the furthest edge of
light in the dark cavern. Too stunned to react, McGarrett slowly straightened
and stared at his very much alive friend.
* * *
"Come on, I'll drive you home," McGarrett offered.
For the second or third time during their brief reunion
he patted Dan on the shoulder. His friend retained the hand contact as they
walked out of the dark, dank ammunition battery and into the bright Hawaiian
morning sunlight. The warmth baked Williams and he savored the heat after
spending so long in the marrow-chilling bunker of cold concrete.
Steve nodded at the gash on Dan's forehead. "You all
Williams touched the wound, his fingers coming away with
a smear of blood. It did not seem serious, and he was entirely too numb
in mind and body to be concerned with the slight injury. Steve was just being a
little too over protective.
"Yeah, fine," he returned.
"Maybe we should get you checked out by Doc."
"No, I'm fine, really," he insisted.
They paused, and Dan blinked, trying to adjust his eyes to the sudden
contrast from darkness to light. 'An analogy which applied in more ways than
one,' he reasoned. He walked up the concrete steps and drew in deep
lungs-full of fresh, sea-kissed air, savoring the cleanliness. It was as if the
stale, rank moldiness of the bunker was pushed out of
his system to be replaced with crisp, renewed life. Again, a
fitting analogy. As he stood on his native soil
he felt as if this was his second chance, emerging from the darkness of death,
the literal pit of a tomb, to the brightness of life.
Just moments ago he had cheated his
captor/terrorist out of an execution. In the struggle
he had been knocked down and left for dead, or perhaps just left behind in
favor of Army's sense of self preservation. He was not ready to analyze it all
now. The point was he had expected to die and now he was alive and still trying
to comprehend it all. After seeing Curt Metzger executed point
blank, after spending the afternoon and night under the imminent threat
of death, he had a lot of emotions to sort through.
"You all right, Danno?" Steve asked quietly, his face creased
Dan offered McGarrett a slight nod. "Yeah."
The word was an uncertain lie, accentuated by the slight trembling of his
shoulders. He made a conscious effort to calm his nerves.
McGarrett's grip tightened. With a heartfelt tone of relief he urged,
"Let's get out of here."
Steve steered him out of the courtyard of HarlowBattery
to a knoll where HPD squad cars were parked. An
officer was just driving up with McGarrett's sedan. Dan slumped on the
passenger side and leaned his head back on the seat. After pausing to issue
instructions to an officer, Steve got into the Mercury and they drove away.
As they coursed through the crater of the extinct volcano of Diamond
Head, Williams glanced over at his companion. In the rush of the
rescue only abstractly had he noted McGarrett's unusually disheveled
appearance. Now it was beginning to register: Steve's hair ruffled, tie and
suit dirty, knuckles scraped and bleeding. When he had first seen Steve in the
bunker, the head of Five-0 had been leaning over Army's inert form. Now all the
evidence finally clicked. McGarrett had beat the hell
out of Army! Despite the serious aftermath of the kidnapping experience
Dan couldn't help but smile.
"I guess Army resisted arrest, huh?"
The quip did not elicit a smile from McGarrett. Instead, the boss's set jaw
seemed to tighten. For the first time, Dan noticed Steve's hands
which tightly gripped the wheel, were actually shaking.
Dan sat up straighter, a little frightened, a little awed by the
implications. When the shooting had started Army (Dan had never known the last
name) had come to kill him. Dan had rushed him in an
offensive desperation, unwilling to go down without a fight. He had been hit on the head, knocked aside, and Army had fled.
McGarrett's arrival must have been the distraction that saved his life. When
Steve had confronted Army, the terrorist/murderer had come violently head on
with all the frustration, anger and anxiety building up within Steve McGarrett
for the last, trying day. Curt Metzger had been executed
yesterday. Steve had come into that bunker probably expecting to find HIM with
a bullet in his head. Army never had a chance.
'Army was lucky to live,' was Dan's ironic,
grudgingly pleased reaction to the retribution. His thoughts sobered to the
serious implications of the suspicion. Steve had unleashed a whole lot of
violence onto Army. The physical pummeling was a way for Steve to release the
pent-up anguish built up during the crisis.
The last day he had given fleeting thought to the agony Steve was going
through, having two friends, Metzger and himself, held hostage by terrorists.
Dan knew his friend had suffered through the hostage situation. Now he was just
beginning to understand how deep that pain might be. The knowledge of what
Steve had gone through had added to Dan's anger and fear over the situation.
Obviously, from their perspectives, they had been through a lot and it would
take some time for both of them to resolve the anxieties.
He remembered how frantic the 'spontaneous-combustion' Steve had been when
he had been wounded and held hostage years before.
Steve practically tore down the hospital trying to get to him. At that time he had been more seriously wounded than now, and had
not been faced with immediately dealing in the aftermath of terror. This
situation was entirely different, his spent nerves and energy seemed too raw to
cope with any more emotions. Between them, the inner turmoil from the crisis
was too intense to ignore. There was such a mass of tangled feelings he did not
know where to start to unravel them all.
"I'm sorry about Curt," Dan apologized quietly. The mention of
the deceased man's name brought a flashback slamming into his mind.
The melodramatic rhetoric one of them had spoken in an opening statement had at first seemed ludicrous. Yet the words would echo in
his nightmares for some time, he thought. Even with his eyes open, riding down
a sunny Honolulu street, his mind snapped back to that black, nauseating moment
when Army had entered the steel cell, pointed the .45 toward him and Curt, and
shot Curt in the heart. With the memory came a slimy sweat to his palms and a
sickening twist of fear to his stomach. Unconsciously he wiped at the red
splatters on his shirt sleeve.
Tears formed in his eyes. He did not know where the reaction was coming
from, but it was embarrassing and he roughly wiped away the wetness before
Steve could notice. He had not been consciously afraid of the chance of
senseless execution at first. Captured, blindfolded, he and Curt openly
discussed the probability they would be killed.
'They have no reason to keep us alive,' Curt had said.
Dan had pushed aside the warning. It did not penetrate to a level of real
fear until he had seen Curt killed. He still quavered at the memory. Before that it had been a confrontation of his stubborn resolve
against the terrorists. He had been belligerent, even arrogant in his dismissal
of them. After Curt was executed, standing just inches
from him, Dan had sobered to the reckoning of his mortality.
"Curt's death was a tragedy," McGarrett
replied, his voice raw and tight. "It was tough on Elizabeth."
The words trembled with suppressed grief.
Williams glanced across at his friend. He wondered which of them McGarrett
was trying to be steely and resolute for -- Dan or himself. Most people never
saw the cracks in the haolehao,
the man of iron, known as Steve McGarrett. Dan saw those vulnerable chinks more
than anyone else and in moments like this it was heart
rending to watch his friend suffer. When Steve hurt he
withdrew deeply into painful isolation and resisted interference from even his
"Tough on you, too," Williams observed, his voice choked with
Mingled with shock, he had been through a kind of mourning for Curt, but
with the anticipation of his own imminent execution, he had not properly dealt
with the murder. Obviously, neither had Steve, yet he wanted to press the issue
without knowing why. Dan did not expect Steve to elaborate, although he wanted
McGarrett to discuss his side of the ordeal. There was a desire to talk, get
the nightmare out in the open. Discussion -- dialog -- not a monologue,
would help both of them. Dan just knew he needed to hear how Steve had felt.
Perhaps so McGarrett could tell him it was not his fault, that he did not blame
Dan for Curt's death. Steve's blame haunted him in
those lonely hours when he sat in the dark staleness of the bunker and awaited
McGarrett pulled to the curb in front of Dan's apartment. Neither made a
move to exit the car.
"It must have been a rough," came
Williams' rough whisper.
Steve stared ahead, his face slightly contorted with agitation. It was the
tip of the iceberg: The beginning of a deep anguish starting to seep through
the cracks of the granite resolve.
"Not as rough as yours," McGarrett countered, seeming to wrestle
with the emotions struggling to the surface. With a catch in his throat he
asked, "Were you with Curt when -- he was killed?"
Trembling fingers brushed again at the blood stains
on the once white shirt. Williams looked from the red and white to the view
through the windshield. The quiet residential neighborhood on Kalakaua Avenue, Diamond
Head of KapiolaniPark, was still and peaceful.
Like being flipped into a negative, the bright day
was blocked with stuffy darkness. He flinched; so clearly did he recollect the
deafening echo of the gun blast as the bullet was fired.
Again he felt the nausea of helplessly witnessing an
execution. Then immediately through the memory of numb fear, then shock, came the remembrance of guilt. He had lived and Curt
had not. There but for the grace of God . .
"I was standing right next to him." Not until he opened his mouth
and a salty tear dripped onto his lips did he realize he was crying. The
powerful recollection was so staggering he reasoned the grief
and fear and guilt must have been right there under his skin waiting to
explode. "After that I expected to die any time." With a quavering hand he wiped the few tears from his face. In semi-control
of his tumultuous agitation he looked at McGarrett.
"I don't know why he killed Curt instead of me. Maybe
the fear. Curt didn't show any fear until Army
raised the pistol at us. I was standing closer to Army -- Curt backed away in
panic. He must have seemed more vulnerable, maybe. I don't know, really."
He paused for breath. The silence was pressing against him. "I was the one
in front. I don't know why I'm alive. I couldn't do
anything to save him."
Without looking in Dan's direction McGarrett reached over and gripped onto
his shoulder with numbing force. Steve blinked several times, but the blue eyes
still pooled with moisture.
"When I got the report that Curt had been killed," he sighed, his
voice shaking as much as his hand. "God help me, Danno, I was relieved it
Dan felt a chill slither through his body. The divulgence exposed the
tortured spirit of Steve's McGarrett. The capture, the murder, had not touched
him nearly so deeply as this profound confession. He
had no concept of how deeply this rocked the stalwart McGarrett. To him, Steve
always seemed on a kind of pedestal, their friendship mingled with a certain
amount of respect bordering on adulation. It was staggering
to know through emotions and not just words how much he was valued in return.
'God help ME,' Dan mentally refuted. He cleared his dry throat and
replied meaningfully, "Poor Curt. I'm sorry he
was killed. I hate to say it, but I've never been so glad to be alive."
With brotherly affection Steve pulled him close.
"It was too close this time, Danno. I couldn't
save you. There was nothing I could do. When we had
the chance to move -- I was too late." The voice was condemning, bitter
"You did everything you could," Dan automatically defended, even
though he had not been with McGarrett on the other side of the ordeal. To
Williams, he did not have to be an eye witness. On
faith, he knew McGarrett had gone the limit, like he
did everytime his Five-0 officers were in trouble.
"I knew you couldn't give in, Steve. Curt knew that, too. We never
expected -- " he cleared away the knot in his
throat. "We knew you would do whatever you could, but we didn't really
expect to live." Slowly he shook his head. "I don't know why I'm
McGarrett sighed with dissatisfaction. "Too close, this time,
The reply was a shaky whisper. "Yeah. Too
close." He would not elaborate now, perhaps, not even in his report. Not
after seeing how Steve was rocked to the very soul
over this tribulation.
Dan turned at the intent gravity of the tone. He looked into discerning
eyes that were almost clairvoyant into their perceptiveness. Steve
had already read too much in Dan's voice, in his expression.
"Too close to think about," Williams responded. He hoped it was
enough to deflect farther probes. At least for now.
A reluctant acceptance seemed to pass across McGarrett's face. His eyes
were brimming with sincere relief. "It's over. I'm grateful you're
With a weary nod Dan agreed. "Yeah."
They exited the car and entered the apartment building. For the first time
in days there was something less complex than life and
death to think about.
"I'll be grateful just to take a shower," was Dan's sincere
The quip broke the somber tension and both were smiling when they arrived
at his door. For a moment they stood there until
Williams remembered all possessions, including keys, confiscated by the
terrorists. Obviously it was going to take a few days
to get back into the groove of everyday living.
McGarrett opened the door with his key. He suggested, in the form of a
command, Dan take a few days off for R&R. Without protest, Williams agreed.
At least a few days off were required for him to sort through the adversity,
but not too long. Following in the footsteps of his
mentor, work was the mainstay of his life and he would never be far from the
stable satisfaction found with Five-0.
"Want to come in?" It was more of a request than a question.
"I thought you'd want to be alone," McGarrett responded flatly,
gazing over the walkway railing to the churning Pacific several floors below.
"I've logged a lot of solitary lately," was Dan's unsubtle hint.
Unconvinced, or needing his own solitude,
McGarrett declined the request and left.
* * *
For some time Williams just wandered the apartment. He retrieved a beer
from the fridge, strolled out to watch the surf from the lanai and listlessly
ambled through the rooms a few times. Although fading with fatigue he was
unsettled and too nervous to rest. He finally showered, changed, then returned
to the lanai and slumped into a chair to watch the ocean's undulating, calming
Without realizing it, he slipped into a light doze. In his dreams he heard a comforting, repeated litany, in Steve's
voice, echoing in his mind. "I'm grateful you're alive." The rote
lulled him to a restful, contented sleep.
A light sound yanked him from sleep. Startled, Williams jumped in the
chair. A gentle hand on his shoulder eased him back against the cushion.
Wordlessly, McGarrett slipped into the chair next to him. Williams' nose
twitched, the aromatic odor of Chinese food wafting on the breeze.
"I didn't think you'd want to eat alone today," McGarrett
"Thanks." The word encompassed the thoughtfulness and the
McGarrett gave a slight nod of affection. "Sure. It's good to have you
Williams' stomach growled in response. He had not eaten since lunch, just
before his capture, two days ago. The aroma of the good food, the security of
McGarrett's companionship, made him realize how hungry he was -- for the food
and the friendship. He had not even thought about food until now, also knowing
McGarrett was not here just to offer supper. Steve did not want to spend the
day, thinking, alone, either.