WIPEOUT

by

G M

 

 


 

A violent gust of wind blew the loose papers off the desk and across the floor to Steve McGarrett's feet. The distraction startled him out of the intense concentration on the chalkboard notes and diagrams that commanded his complete attention. Mildly surprised at the cool, brisk draught coming though the open lanai doors, he crossed the room, and glanced at the clock on his desk. Almost noon. Misty rain sprayed him as he stood in the doorway studying the low, dark clouds. Moving in from the sea they shrouded the city in a cool canopy, the leading edge of a storm.

 

"The hurricane." The irritated mutter directed at himself for forgetting such an important phenomenon.

 

Such a significant event easily slipped a mind crowded with thoughts thoroughly focused on the case at hand. With preparations today and the trial tomorrow his team would be responsible for putting Kane Richards, the notorious gangster, off the streets and in prison for a long time. Responsibility for the safety of the Hawaiian populous he could manage. There was no way he could control the weather, so his mind pushed it aside and contemplated more pertinent problems. What he could control was solid evidence and protection of witnesses. Disappearing evidence and/or disappearing witnesses plagued them through three postponements. This time McGarrett promised the State, i.e., Walter Stuart, the District Attorney, the trial would go off without a hitch.

 

The drizzly rain slowly crept over the city with the onslaught of storm clouds. The leading edge of the hurricane scheduled to sweep a few hundred miles northeast of Oahu in the next two days. Errant drops slinging against him became larger and more frequent. Swept in on the cool December Trades, they felt like tiny, icy needlepoints pricking his shirtsleeves and skin. With a shiver he closed the doors and stared out as precipitation pattered the glass. His ancestor, the sea captain, would label this an ill wind.

 

"Ill wind only for Kane Richards." His somber prediction. "Hurricane, you'll just have to wait till after Richards' trial tomorrow."

 

Muffled voices in the outer offices reminded of life outside his office. As he crossed back to the blackboard, he categorized the excited comments of the conversation coming from Dan Williams. The lower, slower, methodical counterpoint delivered by Kono Kalakaua.

 

Smiling and shaking his head, it amused Steve that the eager young Williams definitely added enthusiasm and energy to the stolid respectability of Five-0. On the team only a short time, Dan remained irrepressible and optimistic despite the seedy side of crime and politics they dealt with on a daily basis. McGarrett congratulated himself on an unusually perceptive, even brilliant stroke of inspiration in picking the young, committed Officer Williams for the elite state police unit. Dan's blend of youth and dynamism lent a refreshing vigor to the small family of detectives. Steve sometimes wondered how they ever managed without him. Williams' transition to Five-0 included a few rough waters whenever the impetuous youth clashed with the opinionated boss, but overall Dan was an incredible asset. A devoted, tireless worker, the new detective also qualified as an uncompromising policeman. Somehow he managed the near impossible: to earn the respect, the trust and finally the friendship of the exacting Steve McGarrett. For which Steve was forever grateful -- the bonus of the effortless evolution from working relationship to friendship.

 

The detectives were obviously engaged in some debate and he wondered why it was taking place just outside his office door. Try as he might, there was no way to recapture the focus on the Richards' notes. Abandoning the attempt, he opened his door. Williams and Kalakaua both jumped from surprise. They turned from the wall map and exchanged chagrined expressions.

 

"Hi, Steve," Dan started. "I was just coming to get you. Ready to break for lunch?"

 

The idea seemed an alien concept. "Lunch? Where are your witness notes for the Richards case?"

 

Williams' gestured to his nearby office. "All ready."

 

"Good. I want you to go out to Kaimuki and go over the testimony with Tutu Dupont again."

 

Dan's expression fell. "Now? This afternoon?" The reply incredulous.

 

McGarrett stared down the young detective with a no-nonsense gaze. "Of course. The trial is tomorrow, Danno. Stuart is depending on the airtight case we promised. I want ALL the witnesses, Dupont, Yamamoto, Chin Ho Kelly, and Dan Williams, solid on the facts!" He nailed his youngest detective with piercing eyes. "Is there a problem here?" Kono looked distressed, as if he had eaten sour poi. Dan looked pained. "Well?"

 

"Today's Thursday," Williams reminded bleakly, as if that explained it all.

 

McGarrett blinked, nonplused at the atypical reaction of his detectives. "And tomorrow is the trial. Kono, I want you over at Stuart's office to make sure there are no last minute surprises from Richards' attorney." Chin Ho Kelly, the oldest veteran on the team, emerged from his office, silently observing the proceedings. "Chin, you're with me. We're going back up to the scene of the crime and check out every detail one more time. Then I want you going over security for our witnesses. Present company excepted," was his wry aside. "I expect Danno and you can take care of yourselves."

 

The room seemed silent enough to hear a needle drop. Kono and Chin looked to Williams. From young detective's expression he seemed to digest the orders with difficulty, then gave his boss a curt nod. Without comment he slipped into his office and Kono joined him.

 

"Why didn't you say something?" the broad Hawaiian whispered.

 

Williams snapped back quietly, "And go against McGarrett's Principle Number Two: 'There is no personal life if you want to work for Five-0!' " Quoted sharply, his voice tight. "And I'm not going to ask him to make an exception for me!"

 

McGarrett's door slammed, echoing, as if in punctuation, his pointed orders.

 

Kono shook his head. "If you remind him --"

 

"No!" Dan barked in an inadvertent imitation of their boss. "Steve expects me to pull my weight around here, Kono, and I'm not going to disappoint him!" He was insistent, although the tone obviously indicated he unhappiness as his own decision. Gathering notes, he stuffed them in his pocket.

 

"This is your last big wave -- "

 

"It hardly compares to the Richards case, does it?" Williams interrupted. "See you later," was his curt farewell as he barreled out the office.

 

"Sometimes I wonder who's more stubborn," Officer Kalakaua sighed and retreated to the coffee machine to ponder the complexities of office relations.

 

*****

 

McGarrett swept to the board to retrieve the notes and photos. Chin followed him inside. As he swung the door closed, he heard Williams' muttered reference to 'McGarrett's principles', but was in too much of a hurry to question the curious phrase.

 

"Steve, what Danny was trying to remind you about was that this is Thursday. He was scheduled to have the afternoon off."

 

The chief paused from his work to face his detective. "Yeah, you're right." He continued with his project. "I'll make it up to him. Richards' conviction is more important than a free afternoon."

 

Chin shook his head. "Don't you remember the surfing competition?"

 

A snippet of memory concerning surfing snagged in his mind, but it was only the vaguest of recollections. About to dismiss it, he realized Chin's sober expression warned against trivializing comments.

 

"What about it?"

 

"Danny's in the finals, remember? As one of the organizers, he arranged to have the last sets today for the high surf from the hurricane."

 

"It's only a surf meet, Chin. They'll be others."

 

"Danny promised you he's not competing after this, remember?"

 

He did indeed recall very clearly, their recent debate on the dangers of the Five-0 second-in-command surfing the hazardous waves at the Pipeline. At McGarrett's urging, after several injuries, Williams conceded he was getting a little too old and responsible for the wildest hot-dogging of the old sport. When McGarrett officially promoted Dan to the permanent position of second-in-command, he expected accountable behavior from his young, but gifted detective. Within the office structure some staff members (May and Chin notably) whispered hints about Steve's dictatorial attitude. Steve, going so far as to persuade Dan to quit smoking, seemed to run roughshod over the eager-to-please Williams. Such allegations McGarrett bluntly denied.

 

Flying against popular opinion and advice McGarrett chose Williams for the second slot primarily because of Williams' youth and dynamism. McGarrett, however, had the faith and the authority, and used it, to install his protégé' in the important position. Williams proved up to the task only the month before when an assassin gunned down McGarrett. The youngest officer not only apprehended the assailant, but also saved the Attorney General from assassination at the same time. During McGarrett's recovery, Williams continued demonstrating his talents at running the organization.

 

Williams, up to the challenge, eagerly accepted the added responsibilities, which meant more time and commitment to the job and fewer thrills and spills in the off time. Williams agreed this would be the last heavy surf competition. After this he promised easy swells and only surfing at safe beaches when time permitted in the future. As a non-threatening alternative he vowed to help organize and coach a Five-0 sponsored little league team. After winning the debate, McGarrett gave the conversation no more thought. No longer concerned about injuries off the job, Steve felt the matter closed.

 

"Why not let me go to Kaimuki, boss? Tutu Dupont makes a mean mango bread."

 

Surprised at the appeal for cooperation from this unexpected source, McGarrett took the request seriously. Chin was the Dutch uncle to them all, and his quiet wisdom, patience and strength remained the rationalism that held Five-0 together. Behind Dan's impulsive eagerness, Kono's native persistence, Steve's sometimes tunnel-vision intensity; there was the Kelly stability. When Chin gave advice, Steve listened, although did not always heed the sage council.

 

With a surrendering smile, McGarrett assented. "Okay, Chin. If this is such a big deal, why didn't Danno just speak up?"

 

Chin shook his head. "And go against you, boss? Tourists gonna stop dancing the hula on Waikiki before that happens."

 

"Danno has no problem putting in me in my place," was his rueful counterpoint. Debating against his occasional stubborn logic was one of Williams' strong points. Yes-men had no place in his organization, and Dan would put up more resistance than any of the other detectives if he felt justified in conflicting with the boss. "Sometimes Danno's the first to come head to head with me."

 

"Only for your own good," Chin revealed mildly. "And it's never something he does if he can find another way to approach you."

 

Ruminating on the new information about the inner relations of his office staff, and Williams' nature, McGarrett crossed to the lanai and stepped out into the light rain. Dan was just reaching one of the unit's sedans when McGarrett stopped him.

 

"Danno!"

 

Williams gave a wave and walked closer. "Yeah?"

 

"Don't you have a board to wax?"

 

"What?"

 

"Chin's volunteered to question Tutu Dupont over her special mango bread. You got a problem with that?"

 

Williams' face lit up like a sunburst and he let out a whoop of joy. "Yeah! I mean no -- no way! No problem!"

 

"I didn't think so," he called back, struggling to maintain a straight face. "Well, don't just stand there, go hang ten."

 

"Thanks, Steve!" Williams raced back to the car then halted again at Steve's call.

 

"Danno!"

 

"Yeah?"

 

"Good luck!"

 

"Mahalo!"

 

Beaming, Dan offered a 'shaka' sign, leaped in the car and sped away. McGarrett stood in the rain for a time, watching the sedan disappear amid the busy traffic of downtown Honolulu. The morning's personnel adjustments left him baffled, amused and surprised, which was saying a lot about such a veteran of human affairs. Used to issuing orders and being obeyed, he ran Five-0 like he ran his various, former commands in the Navy. Of necessity, his tightly knit detectives were men he could work with on an intense level and get along with for long hours on the job. All were compatible personalities, but he rarely socialized with anyone on the force.

 

That unwritten policy began to alter once Williams came aboard. Personable, a good listener and an easy companion, Williams logged many hours in council, debate and just plain talk with his boss. In the past few months Steve started viewing Dan as not only a valued colleague, but also an honored, close friend. There remained more in common between them than differences separating them. Genuine respect and regard flowed in both directions. McGarrett considered his youthful associate indispensable. Chosen as the second-in-command not just because of his skillful qualifications, Dan was really a protégé and more like him than any of the other detectives.

 

So why had he forgotten this important event of someone he considered a good friend? The disturbing question remained unanswered as he walked in from the steady rain and closed the lanai doors against the increasingly harsh weather. He would have to engage in some personal retrospection to get the answer.

 

*****

 

Dark, layered clouds hovered above the deep blue Pacific as wind whipped the waves into frothy tunnels and liquid tubes. Curls were high, crashing into the ocean with furious energy. The sweeping, powerful rollers angled toward shore in lines like rows and rows of marching soldiers. Winter was the season of massive swells in Hawaii, and this December was better than most seasons. Small, human forms occasionally popped up against the awesome backdrop of a roiling waterwall as high as a house. Few of the people stayed on their boards long enough to ride into shore. Most fell victim to the 'heavies', the biggest, most powerful of the incredible waves, then struggled to the beach, without their boards, assisted out of the surf by spectators,

 

Running a hand nervously through his wet, sandy hair, Dan studied the sets and calculated the conditions as he watched wipeout after wipeout of his fellow sportsmen. So far during the meet two boards and three surfers broke from the rugged conditions. The loose association of surfers took a vote on whether to call off the meet. Those in the group not yet hauled off to the hospital chose to finish the competition.

 

For years Williams drifted from one unofficial group of competitors to another. As far back as he could remember he surfed the beaches of his island home. Never able to devote enough time to the sport, it qualified as more of a recreation than a serious passion. It was his way of letting off steam and channeling his competitive juices into a healthy avenue. With his skill level he could handle the tough Pipeline, not good enough, however, for the pros. By amateur standards he was good, with the advantages of being slight, athletic and daring. Having turned thirty earlier in the month, unfortunately, his age was no longer an advantage, and too many wipeouts signaled his wild and reckless days on a board better end. The conclusion to quit riding the 'heavies' was considered even before Steve's big-brotherly lecture on caution on and off the job. Since Steve 'suggested' the change in sports, Dan was happy to comply.

 

Kono often ribbed him about his eagerness to follow in McGarrett's big footsteps. 'If Steve said go arrest Madam Peel herself, you'd say which volcano do I jump in, boss?' the Hawaiian once teased.

 

Smiling at the recollection, Dan silently refuted any blind, unconditional devotion to the head of Five-0. McGarrett gave him an incredible career opportunity by requesting his transfer to the state police unit. He felt honored that through the job their relationship had taken on a kind of family closeness. Steve spent a lot of time training, talking and listening to Dan. If he felt a brotherly devotion and responsibility to Steve, he did not find that out of place. Giving up the reckless side of competition, even abandoning smoking, became no sacrifice at all when viewed from the overall perspective of his life and priorities.

 

A green and white surfboard sailed over the churning whitecaps.

 

"Wipeout!" shouted a few of the onlookers dotted along the sand.

 

Several people walked into the waves, waiting for a glimpse of the thrown rider. Soon someone spotted the surfer swimming under his own power and the relieved crowd waited for his arrival.

 

Some neighborhood groups or surfers, who were of similar talents, came together for their own private "wipeout" meets. They would pool money for a competition prize, call friends or family to volunteer as their doctors, paramedics and lifeguards, and set a date for the gathering. This season his fellow hot-doggers were after a five hundred-dollar prize, the money going to the surfer who, after eliminations, did not wipeout. The crew he surfed with now were all younger than Williams. Some of them had an edge of compulsion he found disturbing and a little dangerous. Taking the sport out of friendly meets, some surfers gave it a slant of adversarial provocation. It made for exciting contests and risky ventures that Dan no longer desired to play. He surfed for the thrill and challenge of his skill against the ocean. More risk than the unpredictability of nature was something he did not need. The prize money, however, would be a sweet bundle to upgrade his living accommodations. Determined to win this last meet, Dan hoped to retire from the local scene as a winner. All he had to do was beat out the two rivals close to his skill level, two rivals who might just beat him to the prize.

 

Glancing down the beach he sighted a native islander who towered above and abreast of him by at least a foot each way. Wearing his trademark, alii colors: red and yellow baggies, holding his red and yellow custom board, Mani Tapali was known as "Moi" -- king. The mammoth local appeared more like the incarnation of a Hawaiian god. An angry god. Ku, Dan decided wryly, the god of war. Leaning against his fire engine red jeep with yellow racing stripes, Moi Mani seemed a replica of the air-brushed art sporting his belongings: a traditional alii in red robe and red and yellow ceremonial helmet. The art graced the board and the jeep, easily making Tapali the most ostentatious, flashy surfer on the North Shore. Today Mani was looking to do battle, take no prisoners, and leave no trace of the enemy.

 

Mani was good, the detective mentally conceded, but was he good enough? Working against the Hawaiian was Mani's own nasty attitude. The guy wanted to win no matter what, and particularly win against Williams, whom he disliked intensely. Since the beginning of the season there existed a particular rivalry because Tapali did not like anything about Williams -- age, success, and especially, cop occupation. Dan suspected run-ins with HPD but never cared enough to check a police record.

 

The surfing was a CAUSE for Mani. For Dan, it was a competition sport. It would not hurt his ego, however, to win against the cocky Hawaiian. In these high, sharp curls, Dan had the advantage of agility, speed and daring. Mani, and the other competitor Richie, already in the water, were both bigger, stronger and bulkier. If sheer chutzpah and muscle determined the superior, they could beat him out easily, but he did not think they would this time. The Banzai Pipeline was tricky. Today it would take nerve, skill and nimble maneuverability to come out of the massive sets without a wipeout.

 

"You sure you want to do this, Danny?" Kono's voice was nervous.

 

Williams turned to smile at Kono, who held several hot dogs and shave ice cones purchased from a vendor stand just down the beach. Chin came trudging up the sand, also munching on a hasty lunch. After finishing their duties with Five-0, the two detectives claimed this as their lunch break. Dan joked he would like to see them justify a north shore, all-afternoon lunch to the boss.

 

It was good of the guys to come out and support him, was his amused thought, but they were not doing his confidence level any good with their doubtful comments. Like so many instances in his career, attitude became the deciding factor in the outcome of a case, and the finish of a competition. To win today his confidence in his skills and himself must be absolute. Perhaps more than anything, that hard-learned lesson was something Steve desperately tried to pound into the wet-behind-the-ears Williams. Dan still had a long way to go to measure up to Steve's expectations and beliefs in himself. Steve, however, never wavered, never doubted anything about him, and for that alone Dan was eternally grateful. That Steve kept trying to build him up no matter what the opposition, was reason enough for his complete loyalty to McGarrett -- to his friend.

 

Warm, wind-borne rain splattered the beach from the leading front of the storm. Dan wiped the moisture from his face as he studied the tan and blue board of his rival, Richie. The approaching hurricane made the strong, choppy water more treacherous than normal, raising the necessary skill level to a top-notch requirement. Only the best would come out in one piece and some very good surfers were already flat on their backs. It was no lark driving him to challenging these massive waterwalls. This was a personal ambition for himself, to himself, that he could conquer these waves just one more time.

 

"This is my last chance at these big sets," he sighed, gazing longingly at the incredible height of the curls. "Another hurricane coming this close, making these kinds of waves -- well, it could happen, but I'll be too old to enjoy it. I've got to do this now, Kono. Every surfer dreams of surfing these big ones -- the awesome, massive waves of a lifetime. These are close -- or as close as I'll ever come to the ultimate ride."

 

"Sounds crazy to me, bruddah. I don't like 'em any higher than Waikiki."

 

"I have to go for it. 'McGarrett's Principle Number Four'. "

 

"I forgot that one, Danny," Chin admitted.

 

"Do your best," Williams supplied.

 

The common phrases, quotations, or lectures McGarrett sometimes expounded to his men were legendary. One day, in a quirky mood, induced by fatigue and overwork, Williams started labeling and numbering the advice. The secret habit caught on with the other detectives and became catch-phrase jokes to help lighten the tension of their work.

 

"I have to do it," Williams expounded. "You know, like climbing Everest, because it's there. It's something I have to do for myself."

 

"Well, man," Kono sighed, shaking his head, "shoot the curl all the way."

 

"Just go out there and do your best, Danno."

 

The three detectives spun around to face Steve McGarrett.

 

"Steve!"

 

McGarrett clapped his friend on the shoulder. "I came to see what you can do on a board." He wryly glanced at the other two detectives. "And to join my staff for lunch." He gazed fondly at his younger colleague. "I don't think I should say 'break a leg'. So, I'll just wish you luck, Danno," he offered with a grin.

 

Confidence bolstered to an all time high, Williams' broad smile lit up his face. "I can use it."

 

McGarrett gave a nod toward the ocean. "After seeing the size of those sets, you'll need more than luck. But I'm sure you're up to it."

 

"I hope so."

 

McGarrett's gaze was intent. "You know your skills, your strengths, Danno. You already know you can do it."

 

Complements and praise from Steve McGarrett came in rare, fleeting snippets of conversation. Brief pep talks crammed between orders occasionally peppered his talks with his youngest detective. Despite his many talents, Williams' self-confidence sometimes faltered. Steve did what he could to bolster Dan's flagging assurance in those moments. He knew only time and experience honed a capable cop into a seasoned officer who could stay alive. With time, he knew Dan could be that kind of cop and he was doing everything possible to help.

 

Steve turned to the others and with mock severity wondered, "What are you doing up here?"

 

"Joining Danny for lunch, boss," Kono admitted. "What about you?"

 

Looking at Dan, he revealed, "Thought I'd come and see you win this competition. I expect no less of one of my guys."

 

The strong, confident, unhesitating tone, so typical of McGarrett, washed away any doubts or concerns Dan felt about his abilities out on the water. Steve might not understand why he did this, or even be interested that he did, but he believed in Dan without qualm or qualification. The comment served as the best pep-talk Dan could remember and the resulting surge of optimism made him certain he could handle any wave out there.

 

"Thanks, Steve."

 

He wanted to say more, but did not know how. McGarrett was not the easiest person to converse with on a personal level. From Steve's warm expression, the simple words seemed to convey his appreciation and gratitude.

 

"Just watch yourself out there. I want you back in one piece, bruddah," McGarrett warned.

 

"That's always my plan," Williams agreed.

 

"Good. Then when you get back you can tell me what McGarrett's Principle Number One is."

 

Williams smiled when he noticed the accompanying smirk that came with the comment. "Sure, Steve." Seriously he gave his friend a nod. "Mahalo."

 

"Anytime, Danno."

 

"See you soon." He picked up his board and dashed out to jump in the surf.

 

None of his guys asked, and McGarrett was glad they did not verbalize their obvious curiosity. There was no good explanation he could give for this atypical straying from Honolulu on a workday. Going over the crime scene and cramming over the case notes were useless, because his thoughts were up here on the north shore. Irresistibly drawn to the Pipe, he felt compelled to be here. The others often watched Dan's meets and this time Steve included himself in the event. He called Dan a friend, but never once did he support his friend in the surf competitions. Now he regretted missing everything but the end.

 

Between the undulating swells McGarrett could see Williams paddle out until his light hair and blue trunks were just dots against the deep azure of the sea. The white and blue board was more visible and McGarrett kept his eye on the board as it dipped and floated on the ocean. The storm-tossed water obscured him from view part of the time, as the detective paddled farther and farther out to find the perfect wave.

 

"I thought the job was dangerous enough," he muttered to himself.

 

"I'd rather face a bank robber any day than one of these monsters," Chin concurred. "I don't know why Danny does it."

 

"Because it's there, Chin," McGarrett acknowledged.

 

There seemed no reasonable answer for the risks, except that challenges necessitated conquest. McGarrett was one who challenged and fought things all his life. He appreciated and understood the motivations and recognized a renewed admiration for Dan. The youngest detective on the team held many good qualities and a willingness to defy odds and danger was a mixed blessing. Success came with jeopardy, but injury and pain also came with risk. With alarm and fascination he watched a surfer coursing back toward shore in the center of a gigantic wave. Observing this seemingly suicidal recreation, Steve consoled himself, knowing Dan was abandoning the hazardous sport.

 

"These waves are gigantic!" he muttered in amazement. "They must be twelve feet high!"

 

"At least," Kono judged. "Higher tonight when the hurricane comes closer to Oahu."

 

Steve shook his head and released a soft whistle. "Then I guess we should be happy the competition is now."

 

"There's Richie," Chin said, pointing down the beach to a big surfer coming to shore with a tan and blue board. "He made it. That means if Danny rides the next wave he'll have to beat out Richie again."

 

McGarrett's spirits sank. Already keyed with tension at the vicarious jeopardy and thrill of raw, merciless nature, Dan thrived on the challenge. Yes, he would like Dan to win, but he did not want to see his friend paddle out for too many more rides against the awesome, giant waves.

 

"There he is!" McGarrett almost shouted.

 

Spots of blue and white hovered far out where there were no curls, only rippling water. Nearby, a red and yellow board popped in and out of view. Kono narrated the rivalry between Mani and their friend as they watched the dramatic scene unfold far out from the beach. Williams paddled fast, crouched low on the board, looking over his shoulder as he hurried to catch the right break in the upcoming tide. Then he came to his feet and angled onto the top of a massive moving-wall of water. Hovering momentarily at the crest, he tipped the board -- sliding down the incredible sheet of ocean. Then Dan angled into a curl that was a huge tube of water forbiddingly towering over the surfer.

 

McGarrett held his breath. It was frightening and awesome to watch his friend navigate amid the powerful, destructive, beautiful pipeline and skillfully ride it like an amusement excursion. Dan was great! He curled into a ball and moved as one with the board. Inside the huge wave he played the surging water, manipulating the water, taking the ride to the limit of sanity. Each time the tube hid him from view McGarrett felt his heart leap, wondering if the mighty ocean had swallowed the meager surfer.

 

The wind shifted, blowing at a different angle, the sprinkles turning abruptly to heavy, thick rain. A temperature drop made the beach chilly, the waves churning and choppy. The liquid tube collapsed over Dan. He crouched lower, swinging the board through the wall of water and into another tube. A cheer went up from the crowd on the beach. Startled, Steve realized the spectators were rooting for Williams. Several comments indicated this daring choice of waves and maneuvers would give Williams the edge in the competition. Momentarily, pride in his friend vanquished his worries. Then he looked back at the waves and gulped down a groan. A spectacularly gigantic curtain of water was closing in on Williams from another angle.

 

"Danno, watch your back," he whispered.

 

At the last possible minute Williams cut the board into the new wave and sailed on top of several curls until finding another tube slicing through the stormy sea. Then he raced in front of a high, choppy wave that seemed to bubble with power. McGarrett audibly gasped; amazed at his friend's skill, chilled at the raw danger of the sport.

 

"I second that," Chin sighed.

 

Kono shook his head. "That boy is crazy, boss. Why'd you bring him in with all us normal people?"

 

McGarrett laughed from relief and admiration. "He's good, isn't he?"

 

Again Williams shot into an enormous pipeline curl. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a red and yellow board barreled across Dan's path. Williams swung sharply into the wave, but was unable to avoid a collision. The boards smashed together and both boards and riders catapulted into the sea.

 

"Danno!"

 

"Wipeout!" someone down the beach cried out.

 

Two lifeguards grabbed their rescue gear and plunged into the ocean.

 

"What was that idiot doing?" McGarrett railed helplessly. "Danno . . . ."

 

"He'll be fine, Steve," Kono assured, more a desire than a conviction. "I hope."

 

"He better be," Chin threatened. "That nut Mani went right into him."

 

McGarrett kept his eyes on the ocean. Intently he scanned where Williams went down, then the spot where the lifeguards were swimming. With no sighting of his friend, he studied the waves closer to shore in the hope Dan managed to swim back on his own. Long minutes stretched by in silence. No sign of either surfer. The lifeguards dipped and dived underwater, continually coming up empty.

 

Someone sighted a board. McGarrett shivered when he spotted a partial piece of red and yellow surfboard. He paced along the tide line -- straining, hoping to see any sign of Williams. Shouted comments implied one lifeguard and swimmer returning. Several other surfers leaped into the water to assist. Mani crawled up to the beach and shakily came to his feet, brushing off aid from the others. His attention was on the ocean.

 

"The other lifeguard has someone," Chin announced as McGarrett turned to watch the dark-haired man struggling toward shore. "He's got Danny!"

 

Aching with anxiety, McGarrett studied the lifeguard and his inert burden. The sandy hair was unmistakable. Quelling the dread welling inside, Steve focused on any clue that indicated his friend was alive. Another swimmer reached them and helped bring Williams to shore. There was no doubt Dan was alive. Gasping for breath, he coughed, gulping in great draughts of air. Too impatient to wait, Steve waded into the surf, assisting his friend to the beach. McGarrett helped ease him to the sand, supporting his back.

 

"You're okay, Danno, you're okay," he reassured. There was a gash along the side of the hairline, some abrasions and cuts across the body, but his friend was alive. "You're all right," McGarrett repeated, unable to articulate any other message.

 

Eyes closed, Dan nodded, patted Steve's supporting arm, and concentrated on breathing.

 

"Looks like you just got banged up," McGarrett assessed, striving for optimism. "You'll be okay."

 

"Yeah," Dan agreed, holding his head with both hands. "Glad I'm not really bad off," he quipped. "Just swallowed the whole ocean," he gasped a few minutes later. "Now if everything would just stop spinning."

 

"Just take it easy, Danno." The message was for both of them, McGarrett knew. Still charged with fear and anger, he needed to offer and receive solace. "Everything's under control."

 

The lifeguard wanted to call an ambulance, but Dan insisted his injuries were minor. McGarrett demanded a medical check-up just to be on the safe side and stated he would take Dan himself. Dan moved under his own power toward the cars. Assured his detective was all right, McGarrett dropped back to talk with Chin and Kono. From the corner of his eye he saw a burly, wet man charge through the crowd.

 

"You pupule cop! I'll kill you!" The enraged Mani came toe to toe with Williams, raising his fists as if to strike the young Five-0 officer. "You broke my board you lolo -- "

 

The meaty surfer's fist never connected with his rival's face. Mani went down to the sand with a thud. With anger and skill to his advantage, McGarrett followed up the hostile tackle with a jabbing knee in the spine. Instantly he whipped Mani's arms back. Snarling with contempt, Mani struggled against his captor.

 

"It wouldn't take much for me to arrest you for assaulting a police officer, mister!"

 

"He broke my board! I'll kill him! I should have won! Get off me pig!"

 

Steve ground the knee deeper. "If you want to play this tough, one of these policemen will read you your rights. If you want to be reasonable then we can all go home!"

 

Guttural growls emitted from the disgruntled surfer before Mani agreed the hostilities were over. McGarrett slowly edged off, wary of any sudden aggression.

 

Breaking into the stalemate, Kono forcefully urged his boss away from the livid man. "I'll take care of him, Steve."

 

Chin pushed McGarrett away from the surfer. "You stay with Danny, Steve. We'll take care of this."

 

McGarrett moved to the surprised Williams, supporting him. "Let's get you out of here."

 

Williams gave a dazed nod and trekked up the beach to the highway. "I didn't hit him, Steve."

 

"I know. I saw everything. He plowed into your board like a piledriver."

 

"Everybody steers clear of him," Dan explained as he watched Kono escort the surfer further down the beach. "Mani holds a grudge, I hear."

 

"He better not against one of my guys," McGarrett warned dangerously. "He'll have me to answer to."

 

When they reached McGarrett's sedan, the radio dispatcher's voice announced an urgent summons. He listened as the Governor ordered him back to Honolulu immediately. The hurricane had changed directions and was coming in on a direct path to the Kauai channel, between Oahu and Kauai. McGarrett ground his teeth with irritation, shifting responsibility for Williams to Kelly. McGarrett felt he did not control much of anything anymore: not the weather, not surfers, not his colleagues. It was a maddening reminder of his limitations as he raced back to the city, his thoughts and concerns with the youngest member of his team.

 

*****

 

By evening the weather turned very nasty. High winds and sharp rain whipped onto the windward coast of Kauai and battered the north shore of Oahu. McGarrett sent Kono to Lihui on the Garden Isle to man an emergency center. HPD set up the emergency unit at the Kuilima resort on the windward coast where Williams would be in charge. Thankfully, Dan's injuries were minor and his well being no longer the foremost concern on Steve's mind. Chin remained at Iolani Palace to coordinate operations from Honolulu. McGarrett would oversee all emergency services on both islands, while leaving time out for the Richards trial. Since the brunt of the hurricane's force would not extend south to the sheltered harbor of Honolulu, the trial would proceed as scheduled. Stuart insisted McGarrett not drop the ball on the important case, and the head of Five-0 agreed. Richards' conviction was a top priority, even if it conflicted with an act of God. Natural disasters miles away did not sway the judge to grant yet another postponement because Five-0 was stretched so thin.

 

As Dan packed a suitcase for his stay at the Kuilima, he sipped Mrs. Kelly's special herbal tea remedy for headaches while the wild wind and rain lashed against his window. The residual storm effects hit all of Oahu. A local channel gave the storm continual coverage and indicated the North Shore was much worse than anywhere else on the island. It was nice, nestled in the safety and warm comfort of his apartment, but Dan was anxious to head for the hub of the activity. As a member of Five-0 he usually stayed in the core of various social, natural and political crises and thrived on the action. He hated to sit out the surf conditions of hurricane winds, but was happy to trade the recreation for important work.

 

The doorbell rang and he answered it, certain of the identity of his visitor.

 

"Hi, Steve."

 

"Danno," McGarrett returned, placing the bag of Chinese take-out on the coffee table and appraised his friend. "How're you doing?"

 

"Good, really." About to elaborate, he paused, suspicious of the critical gaze he was receiving. "You want something to drink?" McGarrett asked for coffee and settled into a comfortable rattan chair, still eyeing his officer. Wary of the scrutiny, Dan wondered, "You're not pulling me off of the North Shore, are you? I'm fine!"

 

"Not a chance. You're not going to get off of duty that easy." The rebuttal delivered with mock severity. "You know the people and the country up there."

 

"Good. This could get pretty ugly and I want to do my part."

 

The words belayed the concern crinkling McGarrett's eyes as he studied his friend and distributed the food. The impromptu dinner was standard Five-0 fare. It was also an attempt to cover his deficiencies in the friendship department. He missed his chance at sharing something important with his friend with the surfing, now he wanted make it up somehow. The feeble dinner was at least a start.

 

"You and me both, bruddah." Again the acute study from those disturbingly discerning eyes. He made a mental note to keep an eye on Williams' eagerness. He might have to curb the tendency if Dan didn't know his own limits when injured. The situation seemed a reflection of his own impatience to get back to work after recently being shot and hospitalized, and he quickly pushed aside the comparison. "So, you're sure you're okay?"

 

"You want an inventory? I'm one big bruise topped by abrasions, but, yeah, I'm fine. No concussion, no broken bones."

 

McGarrett frowned at the trivilization. "A blow to the head is nothing to dismiss lightly, Danno."

 

Dan mumbled around a mouthful of moo shu, "I'm sore, but in one piece. I've had worse wipeouts."

 

"That Mani really has a grudge against you. I think he deliberately hit you."

 

Dan shook his head. "You know, the thing with Mani is really fuzzy. My whole body feels like I hit bottom a few times, but Mani is just a vague memory. Although I seem to recall he was there for the wipeout."

 

Barely containing his anger, McGarrett repeated his disgust with the disgruntled surfer. What disturbed Dan more than anything was ending his competition days on such a sour note of failure. What troubled the boss was the deliberate violence over a sporting match.

 

McGarrett instantly came to the defense of his friend. "You were torpedoed, Danno. That guy collided with you! Where's Mani's animosity coming from?"

 

"He hates me," Dan stated simply. "We've always been rivals, but I never expected him to run into me. Why would he throw away his chance of winning?"

 

"Maybe he knew he couldn't."

 

"I'm flattered, Steve, but I'm not that good."

 

McGarrett thought back to the extraordinary surfing that he had seen his friend accomplish. "You looked like you were winning to me, Danno. This Mani character might have had worse on his mind, but Kono cooled him down."

 

Dan grinned at the memory of the confrontation on the beach.

 

"What's so funny?"

 

"You threatening Mani when he's about twice your size."

 

"Yeah, but I'm twice as mean when it comes to my officers."

 

Williams shook his head with amusement and appreciation. Steve would do anything for the Five-0 officers. Being part of such a close-knit unit was both comforting and awesome. Such leadership inspired total commitment in Dan, making his loyalty to McGarrett comprehensive. He would never give less than his best to this incredible mentor who had become his friend.

 

"Well," Williams sighed, "That's the end of my glorious surfing career. I remember being on that last wave and thinking I was going to make it last forever." He grinned with embarrassment. "And I wanted that money for a down payment on a beach condo," he added to lighten the tone.

 

Steve was still sober. "I'm sorry I missed your glory days on the boards, Danno, but I can't say I will miss the wipeouts."

 

"You and me both, bruddah," Dan quoted. It brought the sought after grin to McGarrett's face and Williams moved on to easier conversation. He read the paper from his fortune cookie. "It says; 'You will take an adventurous journey in the near future.' "

 

"Hmm, sounds like just another day at the office for Five-0."

 

Dan smiled. "Unfortunately, I'm beginning to understand that. You should have warned me before I signed on with this outfit."

 

"And spoil the spontaneity in life?"

 

As they watched TV updates of island conditions, McGarrett once more warned Williams against any extraordinary efforts, heroics or excursions. There was no way Dan would consider breaking such a pact, because whatever the hurricane could dish out would be nothing compared to McGarrett's wrath.

 

*****

 

"Can you hear me, bruddah? Sounds like rain got into the phone lines or somethin'," Kalakaua's voice crackled over the speaker.

 

In the makeshift command center/McGarrett's office, Chin shook his head, even though his colleague could not see the gesture. "It's just going to get worse, Kono. Are you guys all right so far?"

 

"So far," Kono returned. Hurricane is hitting Lihue pretty hard. Good thing we're north."

 

Sarcasm was clear in Kelly's voice. "And I thought you were staying at the Coco Palms for the room service."

 

"Hey, that ain't bad, I have to admit. How are things in Honolulu?"

 

"Wild and windy, but not too rough."

 

"Heard from Danny?"

 

"Yeah, he checked in earlier. He said room service at the Kuilima was pretty good, too."

 

Chin glanced at the nearby table filled with cups of stale coffee and dry donuts. He envied his colleagues, at least for now. In a few hours the luxuries would be forgotten as the brunt of the storms hit the emergency posts. He would rather be here in the safe harbor of Honolulu. Satisfied that communications were still on-line, he signed off and paced around the office. McGarrett was juggling two calls on two lines. A young HPD officer named Nephi Hilton was on the radio with the Coast Guard kept track of the storm at the transparent board. Several Naval officers from Pearl discussed emergency strategy amongst themselves as they watched to storm from the lanai doors. Almost noon, the day was still dark, the interior lights meager illumination against the violent weather.

 

With another glance at the uninspiring food table, Chin decided he could take a quick run over to his Uncle Lee's restaurant and bring back some decent food for the duration. He was not due in court for another hour. Telling McGarrett his intentions, and receiving a distracted nod from his boss, he left the Palace.

 

Rain slammed into his umbrella from nearly a sideways slant and was nearly whipped from his hands by the wind. Squinting against the onslaught, Chin staggered toward his car.

 

"Hey Chin!"

 

Kelly stopped and looked back at the Palace.

 

The blue sedan was nearly on top of him before he heard or saw the car. Jumping onto the trunk of his vehicle, the would-be hit and run sedan fishtailed around the wet driveway and sped away toward Richards Street.

 

"Chin, hey, you okay, bruddah?" Officer Hilton shouted as he ran down the steps. "That crazy almost hit you!"

 

"Yeah, I know. Did you get a plate number?"

 

"Just a partial. You think it was deliberate?"

 

"I don't know. Thanks for warning me."

 

"Wow," the young man sighed. "I just came out to order more sashimi and tempura," he admitted, patting his amble stomach. "My appetite saved you, bruddah."

 

"Your lunch is on me today, Nephi."

 

*****

 

"This is a disaster!" For emphasis, Walter Stuart slammed his fist against the cold, corridor wall of the Judicial Building.

 

McGarrett paced beside the District Attorney, upset, but trying to keep things in perspective. What were disastrous were the losses being chalked up on Oahu and concerns Kauai would be as hard-hit by the hurricane. Seeing their case against Richards' threatened by a technicality was distressing, and would have seemed worse yesterday, but today McGarrett saw things in a different light. After fielding reports from Kono and Dan all day, Steve was feeling pity for the people injured or homeless because of a natural disaster. He defined Richards as a criminal who hardly ranked in the same category of catastrophe. McGarrett's faith in their case was still solid, and he was certain they could get around this latest snag.

 

"We'll get him, Walter. This is just the latest dodge from his high-priced lawyer."

 

The firm reason calmed the attorney. "Questioning the original arrest is ridiculous, Steve! It means Chin, Danny and the other officers will have to testify all over again and -- "

 

"And then you can offer closing arguments and put Richards away," McGarrett finished simply.

 

"It's a trick. They have something up their sleeve. Not that I don't trust your detectives, Steve, but Danny IS new, and so young -- "

 

"You had no complaints about his work when he brought Richards in!" McGarrett snarled. "And even though you rode him hard when I was in the hospital, he STILL managed to save your life!" [YESTERDAY DIED AND TOMORROW WON'T BE BORN] The bitter reprimanding tone was as harsh as the words. He had a right to reprove his men, but let an outsider try it and they would deal with McGarrett's uninhibited wrath.

 

"Just checking all loopholes, Steve." The meager apology hardly mollified the head of Five-0 and Stuart tried again. "I'm just tired of this useless song and dance from Richards. Call Danny back so he and Chin can be on the stand when we reconvene this afternoon. We'll finish this off today."

 

Life was never easy, he reflected, as he replied, "Can't do that. Danno is up at the Kuilima at the emergency post."

 

Stuart groaned. "See what you can do, Steve. Maybe we can just get by with Chin's testimony."

 

McGarrett gave a nod and jogged out into the rain and across the street to the Palace. He gave May, the secretary, orders to find detective Kelly, while he went to his office to contact Williams. Phone lines were down to the windward coast and North Shore, so he switched to the HPD emergency system. Heavy weather was playing havoc with that system as well, so McGarrett went on to other matters. He ordered extra patrol cars up along the windward coast as far as was safe, and to report back with information as quickly as possible.

 

*****

 

Sergeant Duke Lukela wove through the tangled debris lodged on the jagged lava rock ledge barely above the roiling ocean. Below rested the remains the HPD mobile communications van. Expensive communications equipment and most of the furnishings from the south side of the resort hotel's rooms littered the beach. Amid the fierce wind, spray and rain, three officers and Danny Williams scrambled through the surf and rocks to salvage equipment. Shaking his head in exasperation, Lukela climbed through the broken glass, wood and metal.

 

"Danny! What are you doing down there?" He shouted above the roar.

 

There was little they could do until the storm passed and proper rescue teams could be deployed. Word was the Haleiwa area of the North Shore was hit harder than they were at the Kuilima, at the northeast tip of Oahu. Williams had sent most of his officers over there for immediate aid. Confident help would arrive soon from Honolulu, he left only a skeleton crew behind to sort through the wreckage and salvage even a simple radio.

 

Typical of the brash young detective, Dan was now clambering around the rocks, determined to get the job done personally -- a clone of McGarrett's personal control attitude. Duke knew his instincts were right to stay behind here at the command central. Five-0 detectives (McGarrett, he mentally qualified), required continual watching to stay in one piece, and Williams fit the mold perfectly already. His old friend McGarrett to join the special unit had tentatively sounded out Lukela, but the Sergeant was happy with a relatively stable position as an HPD patrolman. With family and community activities, Duke's job was his career, not his life. That would change for anyone entering the Five-0 ranks. It was maybe a little too good for an eager officer like Williams. He may never do anything else with his life if he continued on this path. His life might be unnecessarily short, Duke speculated as he watched the "crazy surfer" scramble over the jagged rocks amid the crashing waves.

 

Careful to watch his footing, Duke went after the younger man. Every officer on the rock knew about the surf match, and knew McGarrett's eye was on his new boy. Duke intended to take very good care of Williams until safely handing him back to Steve. Serving with the head of Five-0 in the Navy, Lukela knew better than to get anywhere near the bad side of McGarrett.

 

"Danny! There's nothing you can do here! Get back!" Duke grabbed onto the younger man and steered him toward the hotel. "I'll finish up."

 

Frustrated, Williams paused to look over the wreckage. "I think we can put some of this stuff back together, Duke. Ono said he was pretty good at tinkering with electronics."

 

A massive wave shot over the rocks and soaked them. Duke was wedged into a crevice. One of the officers was nearly swept into the sea. Williams stayed on his feet only by clinging to a rock.

 

"Danny, we'll take care of it! You're the boss; you shouldn't be out here in the middle of the waves! Get back up there! If anything happens to you, Steve'll have my head!"

 

This elicited a laugh from the detective. "Thanks a lot, Duke. I'm glad being washed away isn't worth a reprimand," he grinned good-naturedly.

 

"You know what I mean."

 

Williams nodded. A violent gust of wind and water knocked into the men, tumbling all of them to the rocks. The blow knocked the wind of Williams and for several moments he rested on the jagged rocks jabbing his back and sore ribs. The storm was growing worse, and the sudden shift in direction did not bode well for their position. It was entirely possible the weather forecasts were wrong and the tip of Oahu would be as hard hit as the Haleiwa area. Positioned on a point of land away from the main shoreline, the Kuilima might not be a safe haven anymore.

 

"Okay, Duke, let's get back inside and see if we can contact some Ham operators."

 

Lukela picked up on the urgency. "You think the hurricane is coming closer than expected?"

 

"Something's up," Williams shouted. "Let's go!"

 

"I'll get everybody together. Go ahead, Danny, we'll be right behind you."

 

With a last glance around at the junked equipment, Dan sighed and started a slow, tedious climb to the top. Every muscle, bone and brain cell still felt that board collision from the day before. Nothing would be more pleasing than a long nap, but he could not rest with so much to do. If the hurricane unexpectedly turned south and hit the windward coast of Oahu with more power than anticipated, they were in for a rough ride. The nearby towns of Kahuku and Laie were already flooding and the Kuilima resort hard hit. Guests and employees were safely closeted in the underground work facilities of the hotel and so far no one was seriously injured. Dan hoped it stayed that way.

 

Climbing up to the side of the resort, Dan saw a mud-covered jeep stuck on a small beach road between the rocks. Two men waved him over. He could offer little practical help, but he was willing to give it a try. He waved back, indicating he would join them. Yelling back at Duke, he gestured to the jeep and Duke yelled something back. Neither of them could hear a thing, and Dan realized the sergeant could not see the jeep from his vantage on the rocks below. Changing directions, he made his way toward the stranded vehicle.

 

*****

 

Patrol cars able to transmit through the interference relayed the first messages of the hurricane's shift in direction. No one was able to make it up to the North Shore yet. Even units going up the middle of the island encountered too much rain and debris to reach Haleiwa. Towns as far south as Waimanalo on the windward coast reported damage. The brunt of the storm seemed to zero in on the Kuilima/Kahuku points. It had been a mistake to place the windward command center at the Kuilima. The location was too far north and now too exposed. McGarrett wondered if any teams could travel as far as Laie, let along the Kuilima. Despite the enormity of the crisis, the safety of his men was never far from his thoughts. As he stood at the transparent map, tracking the reports as units made their way into storm-hit areas, his eyes kept straying back to the hotel where he thought his men would be safe.

 

His office was a crowded, noisy command center, with numerous officers on phone lines coordinating operations for Oahu. Damage to property was moderately heavy, but so far the loss of life count was zero. He hoped it held for the duration of the storm. Teams were scrambling to meet the changing conditions of the brunt of the hurricane passing closest to the Oahu in less than two hours.

 

Holding onto a phone, Chin waved at him from across the room. "We have another complication, Steve."

 

"Only one?" was the exasperated quip. "What?"

 

"Stuart," he gestured to the phone. "Mrs. Dupont, our witness. She was almost struck down by a hit and run driver a while ago."

 

McGarrett muttered a curse. "Is she hurt?"

 

"She's okay. Walter's put her at HPD for the duration of the storm alert. He wants us to get the other witness to safety."

 

After Kelly's near hit and run, McGarrett had managed to siphon a few officers off emergency duty to track down Richards' henchmen. That assignment had not yet been fulfilled, two of Kane's thugs were still unaccounted for. They could be anywhere on any island in the chain now, or right under their noses. With the overshadowing storm crisis, it seemed they were incapable of resolving anything now.

 

"Tell him we'll handle it." Kelly delivered the message, smiled, then hung up. "He says I should consider myself under police custody."

 

The all too serious joke elicited a grimace from the boss. "So we can assume your entanglement with that car in the parking lot was not an accident."

 

"I don't think so now."

 

"Well, I wish I could do more, Chin, but I can't spare you, or anyone to guard you. Just stay here, you ought to be enough safe in the Palace."

 

"What about Danny?"

 

With a sigh, McGarrett nodded his head, once more regretting his decision to put the team at the Kuilima. He sent officers too close to the center of the storm and so far away from his sphere of personal protection. Now added to nature's danger was the threat from Richards. Farsightedness was not in abundance lately.

 

"Exactly," McGarrett responded tightly. "My worry exactly."

 

Silently, McGarrett debated the pros and cons of just jumping in a car and racing up to the windward coast himself. Completely impractical and impetuous, it was nevertheless his first notion. He sent his men up there and he needed to see first hand what happened to them. Without pausing to consider the ramifications of impulsiveness, he told Chin he was going to the windward coast. Knowing better than argue, Chin wished him luck.

 

*****

 

Driving was slow going because of the horrendous weather conditions. McGarrett was cleared through the last checkpoint by Chinaman's Hat, when the radio dispatcher announced a call from Lukela.

 

Steve snatched the mic, incredible relief filling his voice. "Duke, are you all right?"

 

"We're okay up here, Steve." The reply, thin and strained from the static-filled line. "We've been hit hard, but I think we'll get through the worst of it."

 

"Any casualties we need to know about?"

 

"Uh, a few minor injuries, that's all. There is one problem, Steve." There was a pause and McGarrett's skin chilled, instinctively knowing the news was not good. "Danny's missing."

 

"What?"

 

"We're combing the ocean in case he was swept off the rocks or something, but I'm not sure that's what happened. Last time I saw him he was in no danger."

 

"How could you lose him, Duke? He should have been in the command center!"

 

Quickly, Lukela rushed through the impact of the storm, the damage, and the efforts to salvage communications equipment. He stressed his efforts to dissuade Williams from overt participation in the operations, but his explanation trailed away in helpless frustration. Anyone who knew Dan knew he could not wait on the sidelines while others did the work. Anyone who knew McGarrett knew excuses were not tolerated.

 

"How could he be missing, Duke? You're at a resort!"

 

Duke replied with the grim, but logical possibility, "We were out on the rocks, Steve. There's a chance he slipped. The waves are really wild out here now. We've got men combing the area."

 

The mental picture was so clear McGarrett could see the raging waves and Williams in the middle of salvage efforts. Even the most experienced swimmers and climbers could be caught unawares by the mighty sea. Considering Williams' recent injuries, it was a very real possibility the younger detective did not survive the overwhelming waves crashing onshore. A wipeout on land seemed absurdly impossible after what Williams survived the day before. Then his cop mind conjured up the other threat that could be just as deadly to the detective as nature's wrath. A quick gunshot, a fall into the ocean, and they may never recover the body of his youngest officer.

 

Quickly explaining danger from the Richards angle, he wondered if anyone could have reached Williams. Duke admitted it was a possibility since everyone was so busy. He would check into it. McGarrett demanded to know all the details when he arrived, which he would do at best possible speed.

 

Travel along the coastal highway was difficult and slow. Debris from downed trees, overlapping ocean and damaged buildings littered the road. Waves splashed across the coast highway and the rain and wind increased as McGarrett slowly progressed north. The heaviest brunt of the storm would hit within the hour and he quelled the sense of dread plaguing his thoughts. Finally he made it up the winding entrance to the resort; relieved the damage there was not as bad as he imagined. Already the wind and rain was subdued enough for clean-up crews to be making a start at the long job ahead. He pulled the Mercury up to the overturned police van and waved at Duke.

 

"We haven't found him yet, Steve," Duke announced when he jogged over. He led his superior into the shelter of the building. "Officer Lewis said he saw a four-wheeler recklessly driving away about the last time I last saw Danny."

 

"Description?"

 

"Red jeep, yellow racing stripes and some kind of art on the side, a roll bar and two surf boards strapped on. Two hefty local boys were in it, but it was hard to -- "

 

"Surfers," McGarrett incredulously supplied a feeling of dread seeping into his heart. McGarrett felt his blood drain from his face, obviously an overt reaction because Lukela was instantly alarmed.

 

Beyond the obvious perils of the hurricane, alongside the threats from Richards, there was another hazard lurking in the shadows. Mani Tapali was the unseen danger as surprising as the sudden eastern sweep of the hurricane. There was no solid basis of evidence to support the wild theory, but instinctively McGarrett knew he was right. This was not mob protection or an act of God. The abduction was a simple stroke of raw vengeance. He did not trust his hunch about sending Danno up there, but this time he would follow his instincts, and they were leading him in only one direction.

 

"Didn't anyone recognize the locals, or the jeep?"

 

"One of the waiters thought it belonged to some lolo moon-doggie who dominates the Pipe in amateur competitions. There's always some nuts who try to surf in this kind of storm. You know who it is?"

 

"I think so. How long ago was this?"

 

Duke checked his watch. "I'm guessing about a half hour."

 

McGarrett muttered a curse as he jogged to his car. "Get some officers and follow me. I think I know where Danno's been taken."

 

"Where?"

 

"The Banzai Pipeline."

 

Gritty sand ground in his mouth and he spit out the grains, lifting his head from the wet beach. The loud roar of a boisterous sea thundered in his head and echoed through the headache that throbbed along the back of his skull. Rain pelted his face and he moved to wipe it clear, only to find his hands restricted. He opened his eyes, then, squinting against the showers. Mani Tapali and another surfer were waxing two boards. Dan struggled with his hands again. No question, he was bound -- course hemp bit into his wrists -- and couldn't get free. He angled to the side and saw he was only a few feet from the Pipeline.

 

The gigantic, incredible waves awed Dan as he watched the massive walls of water curve into tubes of sheer energy and explode toward the sea bottom. With reverence, with thrills of excitement and fear, he was mesmerized by the pulverizing power of the magnificent breakers. They were a surfer's dream or nightmare, depending on where man and board were at the end of the ride. These were the massive, mythical waves he fantasized about since he was a kid. Every surfer's secret fear/hope -- the biggest, toughest waves in the world. Even the dread of his imminent death could not diminish his veneration of the ocean he loved and loved to challenge. There was no winning against an angry sea, and he was about to realize that first hand probably. There could only be one reason to bring him out here as a prisoner. He had a bad feeling he was about to take the ride of his life.

 

"You like da looks of dose waves from down dere, big shot haole?"

 

Williams turned to look at the big surfer as the man kicked him in the stomach.

 

"You gonna surf da Pipe one mo time, cop. Den you all pau, bro."

 

Gasping for air over the pain, Dan shook his head. "They're going to find you, Mani. Stop this now. There's no where to go after murder."

 

"Murder?" The big man laughed and ground his bare foot into Dan's face. "We gonna go fo' one mo' competition, bro. Too bad neither one of us gonna come back. Tommy, here, he gonna tell the sad tale of the cop haole and the surfer moi who went out for da big one and never came back."

 

Dan struggled free and spit out sand. "You're insane! No one's going to believe that, Mani! Especially not McGarrett!"

 

"Well, he ain't gonna prove nothin', little cop, cause Mani's gonna be long gone. You gonna be down at the bottom as shark food. I'm gonna be in my little grass shack in Kealakakua!" His laugh was vicious as he lifted Williams to his feet. "All de gonna find is pieces from two boards and no evidence. The perfect crime."

 

Dan elbowed Tapali and scrambled away, stumbling on the sand without gaining much traction. He was slammed into the hard-packed beach with a numbing tackle. When he was brought to his feet again he could hardly stand. The waves tilted, the sky and sea spinning into a whirlpool of darkness. His feet commanded to resist the pull toward the ocean, but the brain was not powerful enough to counter the shaky limbs. Plunging into the water, he was thrown onto a surfboard and taken into the oncoming torrent of untamed water. He thought of slipping off and trying to make it back to the beach, but knew he could never fight the massive kidnapper, plus swim with his hands tied behind his back. Suicide was not his first choice. The only other option was to hold on with his legs and elbows pressed on the edges of the board, using the board as his life preserver. IF they reached a turn-around point, he wasn't sure what he would do. There was no way anyone could surf and survive without balancing with their hands, but he had no choice left. It seemed a waste to be out on the biggest waves of his life and not try to ride one in to save his life. Anything was better than giving up.

 

*****

 

Racing past the stretch of treacherous beaches, McGarrett was surprised to find the famous surf havens now deserted. Lukela was right about hurricanes and storms attracting the daredevil locals who took insane risks, the last of the hot shots having been recently forced away by police. No one, however, had spotted Tapali and Williams. When he reached Banzai Pipeline he slowed, disturbed to find no one there, not even spectators to the incredible waves churning just off shore. Was he mistaken? Did he read this hunch wrong? Instinctively he knew he was right, but the famous beach was empty. He pulled off the road and climbed to the nearest rock to survey the site. Perhaps Mani was at Sunset Beach. No, his gut feeling told him this is where everything started and had to end.

 

Far to his left, he could see something in the water -- dark and light slashes of color bobbing on the churning sea. Surfboards! He jumped in the car and raced down until he spotted Mani's custom painted red jeep parked on the sand, then drove the Mercury as far as it could travel on the beach. Vaulting out of the still rolling car, he ran into the gale-force winds toward the man by the jeep. Without warning he tackled the young surfer, pulling his arms back far enough to nearly snap the bones.

 

"Where's Dan Williams!" he shouted above the surf, rain and wind.

 

"Catchin' da big one."

 

"Is that Williams out there? With Tapali?"

 

"Yeah, dey both out dere," the man grunted. "Maybe only one of em's comin' back."

 

McGarrett scanned the ocean. With numb dread he watched and finally spotted two boards, one red, one white board, making painfully slow progress against the tide, into the throbbing pulse of the sea. Even consumed with rage and hatred for the vengeful Tapali, Steve had to admit a grudging esteem for the man's strength, Danno's skill. The white board suddenly flipped into the air, caught in the slingshot of a twenty foot wave. There was no sign of the red board.

 

"You killed him, you killed Williams!" Steve accused dangerously.

 

The accomplice screamed in pain when McGarrett yanked on his arms. "No! He went out with Mani to see who can take the big one, man! Hey, this is police brutality! Let go!"

 

His prisoner forgotten, McGarrett tracked the ever-diminishing figure dwarfed by the mighty ocean. A fair swimmer himself, he would never make it out as far as the boards. He had never seen waves so huge, curls pounding so hard and treacherously into the sea. It would take an incredible surfer to live through the monster waves.

 

Lukela and Officers Lewis and Kamekona trudged through the sand and took possession of the accomplice. McGarrett came to his feet and stared out at the violent water. 'Looks bad to loose my second in command to a crazy surfer,' he thought bitterly. Then contritely rearranged the notion. 'Danno's not just another cop, he's my friend. I'm not loosing him!' He spotted the red board and ordered one of the policemen to bring binoculars. Even with the magnified glasses, he could not distinguish the identity of the man on the board. Perhaps Williams' body was already consigned to the deep.

 

"Mani took Danno out there to kill him, Duke," he finally growled, shouting above the wind and spray.

 

"Hey, Duke," one of the officers called. "You want me to try and swim out there for Danny?"

 

Lukela shook his head. "You think you could, Charlie?"

 

"Not really," the uniformed patrolman admitted. He mercilessly snapped the handcuffs around Tommy's wrists. "But I'd be willing to try."

 

"We don't have time," Lukela agonized. Mostly as a warning to McGarrett, he said, "We can't be on this beach when the hurricane hits. We've only got minutes left."

 

McGarrett moved away, staring at the board receding into the boundless ocean. Duke ordered the officers to take the suspect away and head for safety. There was nothing they could do for Williams now.

 

Shuffling to the tideline, Steve stared at the tiny spot of color against the dark blue. Oblivious to the current roiling around his legs, he strained to keep the man in sight. "He's going to ride the big one." His jaws clenched, his fists knotted with helpless vehemence. "He killed Danno while we watched, and there was nothing we could do about it!"

 

*****

 

It felt like he was drowning, but of course he wasn't. He could think and feel pain, so he was still alive. Oceans of water lapped in his face and it felt like a surfboard jolting under his body. He was being paddled out to sea! Struggling for awareness, he remembered his imprisonment just before he opened his eyes. Stinging salt water splashed into his face and he tried to brush it away. His hands were still bound, but the rope was loose now. When he pulled on the bonds a hand clamped down on his wrists. Lying down on the board gave him an eye-level view of the massive waves coming their way and the sheer power of the sea awed him.

 

"You not gonna get away that easy, bruddah." Beside him, Mani straddled a red board.

 

Dan looked up and shook the wetness away. "So you're just going to dump me out here?"

 

"Got that right, haole. Den I'm ridin' the big one in. Not all the way, cause they need to find the board, but no body. Then I'm on my way outta here. And here comes my wave!" He ground Dan's face into the board. "I was always mo' bettah than you anyway, cop. You could never live through these waves even on a good day. I'm da moi, bruddah!"

 

The huge sheet of waterwall was like a moving mountain. A gulp caught in Dan's throat. It was the biggest wave he'd ever been this close to. Had there been a choice, he would never try to surf the gigantic swell. Frantically he yanked and pulled at the ropes. Mani took him by the shoulders to throw him in, and Dan twisted, catching the man's arm, pulling them both off the boards just as the wave hit. Instantly he was crushed under the pounding power of the turbulent ocean.

 

*****

 

"There's another board!" Lukela cried.

 

McGarrett spied the red surfboard, catapulted up as if shot from Neptune's locker. He gasped as the polished piece of crimson wood crashed into the sea again. Agitated waves surged toward land, whipped into mountainous sheets descending on sand. Splinters of brightly colored board exploded into the air, then churned into the deep moments later.

 

The chief of Hawaii Five-0 groaned. "Danno -- "

 

Lukela grabbed onto his shoulder. "Steve, we've got to get off the beach and go to high ground."

 

McGarrett shook his head; not wanting to leave without some proof that Williams was dead. Duke knew they might never find any evidence of the surfers. If the sea gave up her dead, it could be hours or days and miles away. There was no sensible reason to remain. For McGarrett, sense held no value over loyalty. His focus was his lost officer. Reasonably, urgently, Lukela implored the detective to leave. There was nothing more they could do for Danny now. Almost certainly murdered before leaving the beach, they might never find the body. Duke did not want to sacrifice his life, or McGarrett's, in the vain hope of recovering Williams' remains. With this kind of violent ocean, they may never find the corpse.

 

"I'm not leaving," McGarrett insisted adamantly. Standing in the foaming tide, he remained stubbornly blind to reality. Risking his own life was easier than believing Williams was dead. Defying logic pushed the finality of death farther away. "I can't leave him, Duke."

 

The words were nearly lost on the tide of slashing wind and rain. Duke forcibly pulled McGarrett along the sand. There was a chance they could race away from the storm if they left now, but Duke wouldn't want to place any bets on their chances of success. Almost to the patrol car, McGarrett stopped, staring back at the swirling clouds, waves and rain that whirlpooled and merged into one dark mass descending to crush them.

 

McGarrett scanned the horizon one more time, unwilling, unable to admit defeat and leave. He could not give up on his friend. To do so was to accept a loss too great, a pain too deep, too personal. Knowing Williams only a short time, the young officer nevertheless cemented himself as a protégé, a friend. There were so many possibilities for the future; Steve could not conceive such an unnecessary end to it all on this beach.

 

Amid the dark blue of the sky and ocean, a splash of light blue and tan washed up on the beach with the tide, then receded, rolling back into the sea. The object was tossed with the ebb and flow again before McGarrett recognized it as a body.

 

"Danno!"

 

He raced along the tideline, falling to his knees when he reached the battered figure. Lukela helped him haul the inert form of Dan Williams beyond the waves. Choking for air, the detective's face was blue as he fought for oxygen. McGarrett gave immediate first aid to clear the lungs. Coughing, but breathing, they dragged Dan to the car. Steve sat in the back helping his friend while Lukela raced south toward the Kulima.

 

Initially grateful Williams was alive, McGarrett sobered as he assessed the abrasions, torn skin, and listened to the labored breathing. A piece of rope was tied to one arm that seemed bent at an unnatural angle. Wondering how the younger man survived the incredible surf, Steve was appreciative for the miracle. In truth, he never expected Dan to make it out of the maelstrom, and for once he was overjoyed to be wrong.

 

*****

 

At the peak of the storm McGarrett sat on the floor of the emergency aid room of the Kuilima. Wind howled like a banshee, rain and debris crashed into the building. Sounds of shattered glass and ominous crashes kept the refugees subdued and quiet as they huddled together in the dark basement of the hotel. The unconscious Williams rested comfortably on a nearby cot, injuries attended to as much as possible in the strained conditions. Anxious at the prolonged sleep, McGarrett worried about complications of head injuries. Always something to be brooding about, he thought morbidity. He should focus on the incredible luck, or miracle, that saved his friend from what seemed like certain death; the luck that kept him there on the beach until Williams washed ashore, the miracle that spared Dan's life.

 

Williams shifted and immediately groaned. Steve put a restraining hand on the damp shoulder.

 

"Easy, Danno."

 

Dan's red, swollen eyes blinked barely open. "Steve," he whispered hoarsely.

 

"Take it easy. You just went up against the Pacific Ocean. Rest."

 

"Hurricane . . ." he trailed off, grasping for a memory. "Why am I alive?"

 

Steve shook his head, unable to speak for a moment. "It's just important that you are."

 

"The big one. So close. Missed it all . . . ."

 

McGarrett's tone was grim. "It didn't miss you."

 

Williams was almost asleep again. "Thank you," he whispered.

 

Steve sat back and watched, keeping a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Too close, Danno," he sighed, grateful for the brief conversation. Williams was going to be all right.

 

*****

 

For the head of Five-0, the aftermath of a hurricane presented a plethora of duties. McGarrett found himself engaged in the mundane task of clearing debris from the hotel driveway so they could drive south to the nearest hospital. Relief teams and emergency equipment were on the way, but it would take longer than McGarrett wanted to wait. Governor Jameson thought there were higher priorities other than an injured Five-0 officer and assorted people stranded at the resort. McGarrett was too impatient to wait his turn according to the Jameson's edict, and organized a caravan to leave immediately.

 

Satisfied the pathway was sufficiently clear, he told his officers to ready the squad cars for the casualties. Fortunately the injuries were light, broken limbs and cuts. Williams seemed the most critical with a concussion, broken arm and broken ribs. McGarrett would rest easier when his detective was checked at the hospital, and that object was his top priority.

 

The refugees with medical or first aid training prepared the handful of injured making the journey. When McGarrett entered the makeshift medical room, he was pleased to see Williams sitting up, eyes closed. His bruised, battered face was wan and he seemed to be in pain. It was a much better picture than the day before when he washed up on the beach, more dead than alive.

 

"Danno?" McGarrett knelt by the detective and gently shook his shoulder. "We're ready to roll. We don't have a wheelchair or stretcher, but a couple of big guys are coming to carry you upstairs."

 

Williams opened his eyes and whispered that he was ready, that he could make it on his own power. Biting back a caustic comment about stubbornness, McGarrett acquiesced and helped his friend on the laborious trip up the steps and out to the car. A light rain misted them as they surveyed the damage on the slow journey. Dan came to a stop and leaned against the Mercury.

 

"What a mess," Williams observed. "I didn't realize it was so bad."

 

"You were in the middle of it, Danno," he reminded soberly. "Not too many people can say that. And it better not happen again!"

 

"Don't worry, Steve, it won't. Five-0 little league team from now on," he promised. "The next wave I catch is going to be at Waikiki."

 

As Williams studied the still crashing surf and the assorted aftermath trash, McGarrett studied the younger man. It had been a wild ride the last hours, emotionally as well as literally. There were questions he wanted to ask details he wanted to hear, but most seemed insignificant now. Danno was alive and that was more important than the whys and whats of the experience.

 

Williams glanced at his friend. "Makes me wonder how I survived."

 

A chill shivered down McGarrett's spine. Too close, he inwardly sighed. "Do you remember any of that ride?"

 

"Not much. I mostly remember fighting. Mani -- the water. I had to keep fighting. What happened to Mani anyway?"

 

"Don't know. As of the last check, a body never washed up."

 

Williams nodded thoughtfully, looking over the ocean. "He might have survived, but I don't think so. He was out there for the wrong reasons."

 

"Revenge?"

 

"Yeah. Hate. Fear. That's not how you win against the waves. That's not how I got out of there."

 

Fondly, McGarrett asked, "How DID you beat the big one?"

 

"I couldn't give up," was Dan's simple reply.

 

"I'm glad you didn't, Danno."

 

"I learned that from you, Steve." Uncomfortable with the conversation growing all too serious, he grinned. "That's the third McGarrett principle: NEVER GIVE UP."

 

Steve shot his friend a mock scowl. "McGarrett principles? Is that what you and the guys think of my advice and experience?" he asked. "Trivializing my hard earned wisdom?"

 

"Uh, oh," Dan smirked. "I guess that wipeout left my foot stuck in my mouth."

 

McGarrett steered him into the car. "You can give me all your excuses on the way back," he ordered, hiding his amusement. "Never give up is number three? What's possibly more important than that? What's number one?"

 

Williams deadpanned. "McGarrett is always right."

 

Steve was appeased. "Okay, I'll buy that. Just how many principles are there?"

 

Dan groaned. "It's going to be a very long ride."

 

PAU