Disclaimer: The Sentinel is the property of Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. One West Waikiki is the property of Glen Larson and Rysher Entertainment. Hawaii Five-0 is the property of CBS. No copyright infringement is intended.

About the Shows: The characters of Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi) and Blair Sandburg (Garett Maggart) are from the UPN television series The Sentinel. Jim is an ex-Special Forces captain whose 18-months of isolation in the jungles of Peru caused his previously dormant hyperactive five senses to appear. Repressed again for five years, the senses reappear while he's working a case as part of the Cascade, Washington, Police Department. Blair Sandburg is a grad-student working on his Ph.D. An authority on 'sentinels' -- tribal watchmen whose heightened senses enabled them to better serve the tribe -- he agrees to help Jim learn to control his abilities in exchange for gathering information for his dissertation.

 

Lieutenant Mack Wolfe is a homicide investigator for the Honolulu Police Department in the Glen Larson series One West Waikiki. Starring Cheryl Ladd as Medical Examiner Dawn Holliday, the series focused on their initial antipathy that gradually turned to mutual respect. Mack is a free-wheeling, rule-bending, fast-living guy with a lot of heavy debts and a penchant for gambling. Under Holli's influence, he begins to mend his wild ways, and if the series had lasted long enough, we might have seen a romance blossom between the characters. Mack was portrayed by actor Richard Burgi, who also plays Detective Jim Ellison in The Sentinel.

 

Hawaii Five-0 ran for twelve seasons from 1968 to 1980. It starred Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, the indomitable head of the elite State police unit, and James MacArthur as his second-in-command, Dan Williams.

 

This story takes place in the present year, where Dan Williams is now Governor of Hawaii in the universe of Gina's Hawaiian Style. Some mention is made of Gina's Five-0 story, Ohana, and Linda's crossover of The Sentinel and One West Waikiki, Two West to Waikiki, but we attempt to explain all such references so that knowledge of these previous stories is not a requirement.


 

Aloha, Cascade

-- by GM and Mackie
 


Dan Williams was dreaming of warm, sandy beaches and balmy breezes, but Hurricane Molly kept bouncing him around in his canvas deck chair every time he managed to get comfortable.

 

A horrible retching from beside him drove away any possible chance of a return to the more pleasant aspects of his vision, and he opened his eyes just in time to have the airplane drop suddenly beneath him and momentarily lift his stomach into his mouth. Age became apparent in so many little things taken for granted at younger stages in life. Near the top of this ever-expanding list, Dan decided, was a long, turbulent transoceanic flight.

 

In the seat next to him, his assistant, Molly, heaved dryly into her airsickness bag, then moaned in misery. "Sorry, Governor," she murmured, unbuckling her seatbelt and rising shakily. "I really hate airplanes." Without another word, she fled forward toward the first-class lavatories.

 

"It's all right," he murmured to her retreating back, but another lurch from the 747 jammed the words somewhere in his throat.

 

Everywhere in the cabin, people were moaning and complaining or succumbing to airsickness as the huge jumbo jet fought the unpredictable air currents of a major Pacific storm. Dan himself was feeling a little green around the edges, but he didn't think he was going to be sick.

 

The flight attendants in First Class were busy dispensing warm tea with lemon or cold 7-Up as temporary remedies to the side effects of their unplanned roller coaster ride. Dan glanced at them occasionally, confident the weather couldn't really be horrendous or else they would have been ordered to their own seats for safety.

A minute later, with apologetic smiles, the flight attendants rolled their cart away and vanished.

 

Dan sighed. OK, the weather had finally become horrendous.

 

He looked across the aisle and saw the leader of his two-man security team, Lieutenant Mack Wolfe of the Honolulu Police Department, who was grimacing with the effort to appear unfazed by the heavy turbulence.

 

Dan smiled slightly. He wasn't certain why he'd asked for Mack to accompany him on this trip to Olympia, Washington, for a special conference concerning federal interference with States' rights to prosecute criminals (oh, it had a highfalutin' title about lines of jurisdictional responsibilities, but it translated to mean the States were getting sick of the Federal government sticking its ponderous, bureaucratic nose in where it wasn't welcome or needed). He shook his head, bringing his thoughts back to Mack; there would be enough tirade against the government in the days ahead.

 

As Governor of the State of Hawaii, he had never anticipated being the bulls-eye of a target for political radicals. Yet only a couple of months before, he had been felled by an assassin's bullet. The recovery had been long and tedious; even now, he grew short of breath too easily and found it difficult to move with his usual ease. During those long weeks, many visitors had stopped by the hospital to see him.

 

Mack Wolfe, previously little more than a recognized face amid a sea of faces at HPD, had been one of the most frequent. He'd been part of the security detail investigating the rumored assassination plot, and he'd taken it personally when the plot had come so close to succeeding. Although members of Dan's own law enforcement alma mater, the State police unit known as Hawaii Five-0, had been involved in the conspiracy, Mack still seemed to carry a lot of guilt over his failure.

 

Somewhat notorious for his expensive tastes in clothes and cars, Wolfe at one time had kept his creditors at bay by juggling credit cards and investing in several get-rich-quick schemes. Fortunately, some of his entrepreneurial endeavors had actually paid off, which managed to keep him afloat in the ever-deepening waters of his financial debt.

 

His professional life was as wildly unconventional as his personal life, and Mack frequently found himself under investigation by internal affairs for one breach of conduct or another. Still, Dan appreciated Mack's tenacity and dedication to the job, and there was ample evidence Mack was attempting to mend his wild ways and shore up his shaky financial situation. This change could be attributed to two things: first, Mack had matured enough to recognize the potential impact of his flamboyant lifestyle on his career; and second, he had fallen hard for the sophisticated, level-headed and responsible Dr. Dawn Holliday, the Medical Examiner.

 

Dan, who kept a nostalgic eye on all the high-flyers of HPD, saw a lot of potential in the Homicide detective and had quietly recommended him to the new head of Five-O as a candidate for that elite police organization.

This trip was supposed to be an unspoken show of support and understanding from Dan; instead, he suspected the Lieutenant was bemoaning whatever trespass he'd committed to warrant this punishment!

 

The overhead speakers crackled to life, and the voice of the pilot emanated tinnily through the cabin. "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Captain. I'm sorry to have to report that we are unable to proceed on to Olympia at this time due to the weather. Our first choice for an alternate landing would be Seattle, but they've closed the runways there and diverted all air traffic to the neighboring city of Cascade. We'll be landing in about thirty minutes. Please remain seated with your seatbelts fastened." As an afterthought, apparently having discussed with his crewmates the advisability of informing the passengers at all, the pilot added, "Cascade Airport doesn't normally handle these big jumbo-jets, so we'll be braking a little hard on landing. Please don't be alarmed when this happens. It's just that the FAA docks points for technique if we park our 747's in the wetlands at the end of the runway."

 

Nervous laughter rippled through the cabin. At least no one sounded on the brink of hysteria.

Dan glanced again at Mack Wolfe, who was now peering heavenward as if in silent prayer.

 

The cop felt the gaze and returned it, managing a slight grin. "Cold, wet and windy," he said, just loud enough for Dan to hear. "Not my three favorite weather conditions."

 

Dan gestured him into the seat recently vacated by the airsick Molly, and Mack settled in with a sigh.

 

"Damn, Governor, you're gonna get me used to this First Class treatment. I'll never be happy with Coach again."

 

Dan chuckled. "Mack, isn't Cascade the home of your Doppelganger? Isn't he a cop there?"

 

Mack winced. "You were paying attention to all the gossip while you were in the hospital," he complained lightly.

 

"There wasn't much else to do," Dan replied without apology. "Well?"

 

"Yeah, Cascade," Mack admitted. Somewhat hopefully, he added, "But it's a big city. The chances of running into him must be astronomical."

 

"Probably," Dan agreed. "Besides, until we know when the weather's due to clear, we may never get out of the airport."

 

"Cold, wet, windy, and stuck at the airport," Mack mused. "Boy, Governor, you sure know how to throw a party."

 

As he saw Molly weaving her way back toward her seat, he got up to return to his own. With a frown, he told himself there wasn't a chance in hell he'd run into Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg again. He couldn't possibly have done something horrible enough to deserve that much bad karma...could he?

 

 

********

 

"Ah, damn."

 

Jim Ellison's less-than-eloquent comment stemmed from the fact that he was tired and irritable. He'd spent entirely too many hours handcuffed to a surly prisoner he was supposed to be transporting to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and now he was hearing that his plane wasn't going to takeoff at all after hours of delays.

 

"We apologize for the inconvenience," an impersonal, definitely unapologetic voice blared noisily above the din of disgruntled passengers. "All outbound traffic has been cancelled so the airport can land as many inbound planes as possible before the weather forces us to close the runways. Your understanding is appreciated."

 

Beside him, Blair Sandburg sighed. "So much for the exhibit of Southwest ceremonial masks," he murmured unhappily. A bit shorter than average, he looked small next to Jim's muscular six feet, but both men were dwarfed by the hulking figure handcuffed to the detective's left wrist. Blair always made certain he kept Jim between himself and the looming menace.

 

"Sorry, Chief," Jim said, tugging his prisoner after him as he threaded his way clear of the throngs of irate passengers, who seemed unwilling to accept the fact that they wouldn't be leaving Cascade tonight. He glanced through the glass wall fronting the concourse, and pondered that they might not even be leaving the airport tonight. "Weather's getting worse."

 

"Yeah, we'd better get a ride back to the precinct," Blair agreed.

 

The prisoner sneered. "Looks like the New Mexico sun's just gonna have to wait to warm your lily-white carcasses."

 

Jim glanced at him. "When I want you to say something, Monroe, I'll hit you a couple of times to get your attention. Got it?"

 

Free of the crowd at last, the cop led the way to a deserted area in front of a long check-in counter that was undergoing renovation.

 

A man dressed in airport security hurried over to them. "Detective Ellison, I just heard your flight isn't going to depart tonight."

 

"Yeah, that's what we just heard, Brooks" Jim agreed. "Any chance of getting a ride back to the city?"

"Let's go to the security office and find out."

 

They'd already been to the security office once, immediately after their arrival at the airport, and Jim didn't look forward to visiting it again. Still, he didn't see where there was any choice.

 

It was just as he remembered it -- a den of noise and confusion and heat. The appearance of chaos was misleading, however, because the hectic activity did have a sense of purpose as officers responded to dozens of calls around the airport. There were lost children to reunite with anxious parents, stolen luggage to track down, frayed tempers to assuage, petty thievery to thwart and a host of other complications that arose when a normally transient population suddenly became entrenched.

 

Jim and Blair sat down with their prisoner on a bench just inside the main door. They had to keep bunched up to avoid being trod on by the numerous people streaming in and out. The noise immediately started a pounding inside Jim's skull, and it was only exacerbated by the intense heat put out by the room's environmental system.

 

Brooks came over. "The main airport access road is closed because of a tanker spill," he explained apologetically. "We've got an emergency truck escorting vehicles out the back way, but it's slow going because the road crosses an active taxiway. The incoming planes have priority, and they're stacked up like a house of cards."

 

"But people are getting back to the city?" Jim persisted.

 

"In dribs and drabs. We're giving preference to buses and hotel shuttles because they can haul more people, but we're letting some privately owned vehicles through."

 

"OK, so if we can get a vehicle, you can get us out of here?"

 

The officer nodded. "Sure, there'll be a delay, but it's no problem" he agreed readily. "This weather shutdown is causing a real mess. All the nearest hotels are starting to look like homeless shelters -- all their rooms are full, and most of them have opened their ballrooms and offered mattresses and blankets for as many stranded passengers as they can handle. I think even the Red Cross is mobilizing. Transportation is choking from sheer volume, and now with the main road closed -- " He sighed, unable to finish. "I don't know what we're going to do for the rest of these people."

 

"It's OK," Jim assured him. "We'll manage. Since we can't fly out tonight, what are our chances of locking Monroe here in your holding cell until tomorrow?"

 

Once again, Brooks shook his head apologetically. "We just hauled in an entire college football team on a D&D. They've pretty much maxed us out for space."

 

Jim sighed and looked at Monroe. "Guess that means we have to haul you back downtown," he said. To Brooks, he added, "Thanks for trying to help out."

 

"Good luck," the security officer wished them sympathetically before hurrying off. His commanding officer yelled for him before he'd taken two steps.

 

Jim dug out his wallet and fished for his credit card. "Here you go, Chief. Find us some transportation."

Blair looked at him in wide-eyed disbelief. "Man, I'll be lucky to track down a motor scooter in this mess."

"Just do your best," Jim answered soothingly. "I don't want to spend the night handcuffed to Mr. Personality here. If we gotta stay in town tonight, I'd just as soon get Monroe tucked up in a nice warm cell and sleep in my own bed."

 

"I'm down with that," Blair agreed.

 

Jim stood up and hauled Monroe to his feet. "I can't stand the heat in here any longer. Let's go back to that deserted area where the airport is doing the renovation work."

 

They ventured out of the office and returned to the quieter section of the concourse.

 

Blair shed his backpack. "Keep an eye on this, will you? This mission is going to require speed and finesse."

"Both specialties of yours," Jim pointed out with a grin. "I have faith in you, partner."

 

With a deep breath to fortify his resolve, Blair took off down the concourse toward the nearest cluster of car-rental desks.

 

Jim tugged his prisoner to a slatted wooden bench -- the only seats available on the concourse -- and sat down. People occasionally hurried through from one airline counter toward another, but the loud, hot crush of bodies did not disturb him so badly here. At least it was cooler and less noisy than the security office, although it was still a bit stuffy. Jim settled in for a long wait.

 

********

 

After a lengthy delay while awaiting a gate to park the 747, Dan Williams was starting to feel as disgruntled as the complaining passengers around him. He knew the airlines, the airport, and the city of Cascade were all doing their best in the midst of this catastrophic weather, so he tried not to let his impatience show.

 

When the plane rolled to a halt at last, and the doors opened, he sighed with undisguised relief. A flight attendant came up to him. "Governor, we have a hospitality guide waiting to escort you and your party to a shuttle. We've arranged hotel accommodations for you as well."

 

A hot shower and a warm bed sounded very appealing right then. "Thank you," Dan murmured gratefully, helping the still somewhat airsick Molly to get to her feet. Mack and the other bodyguard, Ted Nakamura, pulled the carryon luggage from the overhead rack, then unceremoniously dumped it all into the arms of the PR rep, Sammy Gardner, who almost disappeared under the burden.

 

"Sorry, Sammo," Mack said unapologetically, "but we've gotta watch the Governor. We can't do that with our hands full."

 

Dan relieved the man of a couple of the bags and slung them over his shoulders. "Let's go," he said calmly. "Ted, will you look after Molly?"

 

"I'm all right, Governor," the woman protested feebly. "Now that the plane's stopped, I'm sure I'll feel fine in no time."

 

"Well, until you do, Ted will look after you," Dan answered reasonably.

 

The little cavalcade followed the flight attendant to the front of the plane, where they were the first ones off due to Dan's status. There were certain advantages to being the most V-I among the rest of the VIP's. At the end of the retractable walkway that formed the end of the gate, they were met by a harried-looking man in a slightly rumpled Hawaiian Air suit.

 

"Governor Williams, I'm Paul Hoyle," he said, greeting Dan and shaking hands. "The terminal is very crowded, so I hope you don't mind a short walk. The carts we normally drive can't make any headway in the throngs, so we're better off on foot."

 

"Just lead on," Dan assured him, visions of a quiet hotel room raising his spirits considerably.

 

With his own entourage and two uniformed airport security plus Paul Hoyle, they were a formidable group that parted the crowds without effort, Dan and the hapless Molly ensconced firmly in the middle. Despite its huge size, the terminal was quite warm due to the heavy crush of humanity clustered in its confines, and Dan was a little sweaty when they finally reached the curb. The cold air outside was like a scythe cutting through to the bone.

 

The entire Hawaiian contingent gasped at the shock of the frigid air.

 

The courtesy shuttle was nearly full. The driver looked askance at the group. "Sorry, but I only have room for two."

 

The representative of Hawaiian Air leaned close and spoke softly, but Dan still managed to overhear his protest. "This is the Governor of the State of Hawaii and his entourage. You'll just have to ask some of your passengers to get off and wait for the next shuttle."

 

Dan glanced at the passengers and saw most of them were elderly, probably tourists like himself who had been diverted to this cold, unfamiliar place. "That won't be necessary," he spoke up promptly. To his team, he said, "Molly, you and Sammy go on to the hotel and check us in. If they don't have enough rooms for all of us, we'll double up, or use just one room if that's all we can get. Don't take 'no' for an answer."

 

"Uh, Governor -- " Mack began cautiously.

 

"No, Mack, these people are cold and tired," Dan cut him off. "We'll take the next shuttle."

 

"Governor, we don't know when that will be," Hoyle explained a little desperately.

 

"It takes as long as it takes," Dan answered, grateful the shuttle driver wasn't waiting around for a decision but had started loading bags and his last two passengers into the small bus. "We can wait."

 

Hoyle sighed. "Very well. I'll escort you to the VIP lounge. It should be somewhat less hectic there."

 

Back inside the warm, stuffy terminal, Dan was grateful to get out of the cold, but he wasn't happy with the heavy, recirculated air. The VIP lounge turned out to be even worse. It was filled to capacity with short-tempered businessmen and other self-important Travelers who were drinking too much booze and complaining much to loudly. Hoyle was a natural target since he was dressed in an official airline uniform.

Dan and his two shadows found a somewhat quieter place to one side of the room.

 

"OK, Mack, get us out of here."

 

Mack raised an eyebrow. "Governor?"

 

"Transportation -- car, truck, bus or go-cart," Dan explained. "It'll give you something to do until the next shuttle is available. We'll radio you if we find a ride before you do."

 

Mack looked reluctant to leave.

 

"I'm making that an order, Lieutenant," Dan said gently, or as gently as he could amid the din of conversation around them. "When we get to the hotel, I'm treating us all to the biggest steak dinner this town has to offer, cholesterol be damned."

 

"You've given me sufficient motivation, sir," Mack assured him, grinning. With a tiny wave, he plunged into the crowd and headed for the exit.

 

Dan and Ted managed to find a tiny table and two vacant chairs a half-second after they were recklessly vacated. They waited morosely, hardly speaking, as the room grew more noisy and even more crowded.

 

********

 

Mack was fairly certain he was on a doomed mission, but he plunged gamely into the surging masses and rode the tide until he saw the long row of car rental agencies. Maneuvering to the edge of the flow, he finally broke free and stumbled into the more stationary cluster of people thronging around the various desks.

Pulling rank without a twinge of conscience, he took out his badge and bulled his way to the front the line, which wasn't so much a line as a tightly-packed crush of bodies.

 

"I need a car," he gasped to the harassed clerk behind the counter.

 

"You and five hundred other people," the woman retorted, smiling stiffly in an effort to appear polite. She checked her computer. "Sorry, we just rented the last of our four-wheel-drive sport utilities, and policy forbids us to rent compacts or other vehicles that don't have adequate traction control for this sort of weather. I'm sure you understand."

 

"I need a car," Mack repeated somewhat more forcefully, and the woman retreated a step, her smile faltering.

"I'm sorry, sir. If you'd just been five minutes earlier -- "

 

"Yes!" exalted a voice from close to Mack's elbow. It sounded suspiciously familiar, and the Honolulu cop glanced at the speaker and recognized Blair Sandburg next to him at the counter. The young anthropologist was clutching a set of keys triumphantly as he hastily signed his signature to a rental agreement and shoved the paperwork back toward the clerk.

 

He turned to fight his way back out of the crowd and ran into Mack. "Sorry, man," he mumbled without looking up. He stepped to one side, only to find his path blocked again. Warily, he looked up, then grinned as he recognized the obstacle determinedly blocking his way. "Mack Wolfe!" he said, surprised and delighted, and Mack felt a little rush of guilt for his earlier less-than-charitable thoughts on board the plane. "Wow, I can't believe you're here in Cascade!"

 

"Neither can I," Mack assured him with a scowl. "Where's your taller half?" Willingly using himself as a battering ram, he led the way out of the crush of bodies.

 

"We were doing a prisoner escort when the weather socked us in," Blair explained quickly when they were somewhat alone. "Now, we're just trying to get back to the city before it gets any worse."

 

"Can you give us a ride to a hotel first?" Mack asked hopefully.

 

Blair grinned. "Are you here with Holli?" he asked, remembering that Mack had a definite thing for the beautiful Medical Examiner for the State of Hawaii.

 

Mack grimaced. "No, it's official business," he answered. "Well?"

 

"I don't see why not," Blair assured him quickly. "Come on and we'll -- "

 

His words were cut off when the two of them were sandwiched between three men. A sharp poke in his ribs caused him to look down, and he saw the muzzle of an automatic weapon jutting surreptitiously from the jacket of one of the men. The others had Mack equally covered.

 

"OK, Ellison," one of them said. "Where's your prisoner?"

 

Mack sighed at the inevitability of it all, and just glowered at Blair, who shrugged disarmingly.

There was no point in trying to explain the mistaken identity to the three thugs. "I don't know, Sandburg,"

 

Mack said mildly, "where is my prisoner?"

 

Blair looked a bit bemused. "Uh, he's further down the concourse with another officer," he answered truthfully, too surprised by the situation to think up a suitable lie.

 

"Take us to him," the leader of the little gang ordered grimly. "And don't try anything or the airport will be littered with bodies."

 

Mack wondered if it was possible to have a sense of déjà vu for something that hadn't really happened to him, but rather had happened to his lookalike, Jim Ellison? Not that the answer mattered, of course, because he still felt the sensation of having done this before.

 

********

 

Dan had grown tired of the heat and noise of the VIP lounge. "I'm going to take a walk," he told Ted Nakamura, and stood up.

 

Ted automatically started to rise, but Dan waved him down. "You can stay here if you like," he said. "You're still looking a little green after the bumpy airplane ride."

 

Ted settled back with a sigh of relief. "Sorry, Governor. You really shouldn't wander off by yourself."

 

"I'm a big boy," Dan answered with a grin. "I've been wandering off by myself for more years than I care to admit. I'll radio if I run into a problem."

 

Outside the VIP lounge, it was cooler if no less quiet. Dan breathed the fresher air gratefully and obligingly went with the crowd toward whatever destination it had in mind. It became a test of endurance. Every terminal throbbed with crowds, every snack bar and vending machine swarmed with weary travelers grasping for what little comfort they could find in these inhospitable circumstances.

 

The airport was starting to take on the appearance of a siege. Groups clustered together on the floor, baggage piled around them like bulwarks. Benches held sleeping bodies, mothers dozed with sleeping children clasped in their laps.

 

After several minutes, he found himself on the main concourse, where foot traffic had a chance to spread out. He stepped clear of the throngs and strolled the length of the building in search of a candy bar. Most of the gift stores were closed, the employees wisely fleeing the weather for the warmth of home and hearth. The two magazine stands he found still open had long lines of people grimly clutching their purchases as they awaited their turn at the register.

 

Sighing, Dan wandered onward, past ticket counters, where the crowds were thinning as everyone finally came to grips with the fact that no planes would be leaving the airport this night, and finally through a short hall that opened into an almost totally deserted area undergoing renovation.

 

It was decidedly chilly in the vast room, and Dan wished for something a little warmer than his lightweight canvas windbreaker. Still, he could see a vending machine against the wall mid-way down the length of the room, so he headed toward it on the off chance it might actually have something to offer. His pace was leisurely, the rheumatism from old and recent injuries exacerbated by the cold coursing through his body. Not yet old, but rather in his mature 50's, Dan had kept in good shape up until the shooting. He found himself slow to get back into the full swing of life.

 

Since he tended to dress casually for lengthy airplane trips, his crepe-soled deck shoes made very little sound on the shiny tiled floor. Still, even while he was still a long distance away, he saw one of the two men seated near the vending machine turn and look him over.  The guy must have eyes in the back of his head, Dan mused with a slight smile.  The assessor must have deemed Dan harmless, because the man turned away again.

 

Dan reached the vending machine and saw it had an ample assortment of goodies guaranteed to spike his blood sugar level. He donned his reading glasses to read the selection, then dug for change, made his selection, and wasn't the least surprised when nothing fell into the retrieval slot . . . it had been one of those days.

 

Frustrated, he turned to leave, and that's when he noticed the two men were handcuffed together. Well, wasn't he being observant? he chided himself. Back in the "good old days" -- oh, Lord, he was starting to think of them as the "good old days" -- he would have noticed a little detail like that right off.

 

Although both men looked equally tired and grim, and their style of clothing was remarkably similar, Dan had no trouble picking out the cop.  After all, the man looked exactly like his very own HPD bodyguard, Lieutenant Mack Wolfe.

 

"Detective Ellison," Dan blurted, grinning at the astronomical improbability of an accidental meeting with the one man in all of Cascade he was actually interested in meeting.

 

Jim frowned and studied the stocky, middle-aged man warily. "Have we met?"

 

"No, sorry," Dan explained hastily. "I know your lookalike."

 

Jim took in the soft print of a Hawaiian shirt beneath the windbreaker and shook his head in disbelief. "The first person I run into from Hawaii, and you know Mack Wolfe," he murmured.

 

"I could hardly believe the stories I heard about how much you and Mack resemble each other," Dan continued, delighted to find a distraction in the midst of this weather debacle. "I'm glad to see the tales weren't exaggerated."

 

Jim smiled politely, drawn into a conversation despite his wishes to the contrary. "How's Mack these days?"

"You'll be able to ask him yourself."

 

Jim looked startled. "He's here?"

 

Dan nodded. "Trying to find us some transportation."

 

"The last time we were in an airport at the same time, I was mistaken for Mack and kidnapped," Jim mused thoughtfully.

 

Dan was gazing off through the darkened portion of the concourse. "I get the feeling turnabout is making an unwelcome appearance," he murmured.

 

Jim glanced in the direction Dan was looking and saw three men with Blair and Mack Wolfe. From the way they were tightly clustered, it was clear the three strangers were armed and the other two were hostages. "Get behind the vending machine," he said quietly to Dan, then stood up and hauled Monroe to his feet.

 

The prisoner finally realized something was going on, and he whooped when he saw the approaching group. "Hey, Tim, glad you could make it!"

 

Jim scowled in frustration. He was unarmed, and being handcuffed to Monroe put him at a definite disadvantage. There was a concourse full of travelers behind him, and no bargaining chip that he could see. If the unknown "Tim" and Co. wanted to trade their hostages for Monroe, Jim had no alternative but to agree. What he wanted, however, was some way to insure Blair and Mack would be released unharmed.

The group stopped while still some seventy feet away.

 

"Take off the cuffs, Ellison," one of them, presumably Tim, ordered loudly. He looked a little bemused, however, because up until now, he'd been convinced he was holding Ellison prisoner.

 

Jim carefully reached into his pocket for his handcuff key.

 

Even the most detailed of plans, and this certainly wasn't one of them, often went awry due to unexpected complications.

 

A security guard, oblivious to what was happening, stepped through a unmarked, recessed door located no more than a dozen feet from the gunmen.

 

Tim, mental giant that he was, overreacted instantly and swung his weapon to fire at the unsuspecting officer.

Blair's reactions were equally swift. He elbowed Tim in the gut, shoving into him with enough to force to stagger the man and deflect his aim. The security guard went down, wounded but not killed, while Blair stunned Tim with another elbow directly to the face (he'd learned from hard experience that his fists were not the lethal weapons he might have wished).

 

In that same moment, Mack plowed into the two remaining gunmen, and all three went to the floor in a tangled heap.

 

Monroe, seeing his rescue failing before his eyes, swung at Jim, who ducked and grappled with him. Being handcuffed together created difficulties for both men as they traded blows.

 

In the crowded section of the terminal, the reverberation of the gunshots had created instant pandemonium, and crowds were surging toward the exits with panicked abandon.

 

Dan, realizing he couldn't cover the distance to the gunmen in time to be of any use in that altercation, leaped forward to help Jim subdue Monroe. A well-placed blow to the base of the prisoner's ear stunned the man, and Jim was able to take control again.

 

It had all happened in a few seconds, but it wasn't over.

 

Tim and the security guard were both down. Mack was kneeling atop one of the other gunmen, his weapon thrust menacingly into the man's face. But the third gunman had managed to grab Blair by the throat, and he now held the young man before him like a shield, his gun jammed under Blair's chin.

 

"Nobody move!" the man yelled, a useless command since the principle players had already frozen and the stampeding crowds weren't paying attention.

 

To Mack, the gunman shouted, "Put down the gun!"

 

Slowly, Mack obeyed, his eyes shifting between the gunman and Jim. He figured the Cascade cop was probably unarmed due to the fact that he was handcuffed to a prisoner, so he could expect no help from that quarter. Besides, he had Governor Williams to think about.

 

"Shove it this way." The gunman looked jittery and tense, two bad signs.

 

Mack complied, saying calmly, "Give it up, man. This place'll be crawling with cops in seconds."

"No!" the man bellowed, kicking Mack's weapon across the floor, well beyond reach. To Jim, he ordered, "Now uncuff Monroe."

 

Jim had his shackled arm snaked tightly across Monroe's throat, but he used his left hand to reach for his keys again. Beside the vending machine, out of sight of the panic-stricken gunman, another door opened slowly. A security guard appeared.

 

Dan shifted slightly to give the man some room, but he gave no acknowledgment or sign that anything had occurred.

 

Monroe, in Jim's strong grip, saw the danger and tried to speak, but Jim only tightened his grip, cutting off a gurgled warning. For Jim, the guard's arrival would create even more problem. The man held a high-powered rifle, but he was shaking so badly, it was doubtful he would be able to aim or fire with any accuracy. If the gunman didn't shoot Blair, this frightened young security guard could well do the job instead.

 

Jim found his handcuff keys, but instead of unlocking the cuffs, he told the gunman, "You take both of us, and let the others go."

 

"No way!" the man shouted.

 

Almost casually, Jim tossed his keys back over his shoulder into the virtually empty concourse. "That's the deal," he insisted. "Let them go, and Monroe and I go with you."

 

During the brief distraction with the keys, Dan reached behind him and calmly took the rifle from the hands of the quaking guard, who was too startled to resist.

 

Jim liked this scenario even less. He'd seen this middle-aged man put on glasses to get something from the vending machine, and he certainly didn't want to trust his partner's life to a stranger! "Don't do it," he muttered out of the side of his mouth.

 

"Ten seconds," Dan returned quietly, "and then you distract him."

 

Jim wanted to glare at the man, but he didn't dare turn away from the gunman. "Don't even think about it!" he hissed angrily.

 

"Five seconds," Dan stated in the same unrelenting tone.

 

Jim shoved Monroe forward with enough force to send the man stumbling toward the floor. This left Jim a wide-open target for the nervous gunman, and he jerked his weapon away from Blair to take advantage of the opportunity.

 

Instead, the next shot to ring out came from the rifle, and the gunman toppled without a sound.

 

Mack immediately jumped in to disarm the downed man and cover the other two would- be rescuers, who were groggily coming back to awareness.

 

Dan handed the rifle to the shocked security guard. "Thank you," he said quietly.

 

"You're welcome," the young man responded automatically.

 

"You may take credit for this if you like," Dan offered with a slight smile.

 

The young man blushed. "Sorry, sir, I couldn't do that."

 

Dan sighed, having expected the answer. "That's all right, paperwork has become a way of life for me these past few years."

 

Jim hauled Monroe back to his feet, saw Mack and more arriving security personnel had the gunmen well under control, and turned on Dan with a snarl of anger. "What the hell do you think you were doing! You could have shot my partner."

 

"That was a good distraction," Dan offered, ignoring the fury in Jim's tone. "The gunman stepped away from his hostage and gave me a clear upper right quadrant shot. I would've had to have been blind to miss a shot like that."

 

"You would've -- !" Jim sputtered. Further outrage had to wait as more security guards descended on him and his prisoner. Fishing out a spare handcuff key, he gratefully released himself from Monroe and turned the subdued felon over to airport personnel.

 

"Detective Ellison, we'll need to take your statement," one of them said.

 

"In a minute," Jim growled in response, and the man wisely didn't argue. Jim was free to direct his wrath toward Dan again. "When the hell was the last time you qualified with a firearm?" he demanded brutally. "At least tell me you're a retired cop or something, and that you have some idea how to use a rifle!"

 

"I qualify every year," Dan replied, still unperturbed. He looked away from Jim as Mack and Blair walked up. "You OK, Mack?"

 

"That's what I'm supposed to be asking you, Governor," the Honolulu cop returned blandly.

 

Jim's expression froze. "Governor?" he echoed in a whisper.

 

Dan smiled and held out his hand. "We haven't been properly introduced. Dan Williams," he said.

 

Automatically, Jim accepted the handshake. "Uh -- " he murmured, suddenly at a complete loss for words.

 

"That was a great shot, Governor," Blair congratulated. "You saved my life. Thanks."

 

Dan shook the young man's hand. "You must be Blair Sandburg. It took me a minute to remember your name, but Mack told me all about you after your visit to Honolulu last month."

 

"Yeah, it seems as if every time Jim Ellison and Mack Wolfe get in proximity, something weird happens," Blair commented with a chuckle.

 

Jim's eyes narrowed. "I seem to remember weird things happen when you and Mack get together," he contradicted.

 

Around them, the mop up was continuing as ambulatory prisoners were carted off and the wounded tended to by airport medics.

 

Blair held up the rental car keys. "Got the last four-by-four available at the airport," he said proudly.

 

Jim grinned. "Then let's make our statements and get out of here. Airport security can hold all the prisoners overnight, and I'll get some uniforms to pick them up tomorrow if the weather clears."

 

"You're dropping us at the hotel, don't forget," Mack reminded.

 

Dan grinned. "Excellent. I planned on buying dinner for everyone tonight -- perhaps the two of you would join us?"

 

Jim and Blair exchanged quick glances. "That sounds fine," Jim agreed after he'd accurately read his partner's expression.

 

The four men headed for the door that led to the airport offices.

 

"The newspapers will have a field day with this one," Blair observed.

 

Mack pondered a suitable headline. "How about 'Law and Order Governor Saves Local Cop from Armed Thugs'," he speculated with a grin at Jim.

 

Dan shook his head. "Probably more like 'Middle-Aged Politician Goes Berserk in Airport Shootout'."

After all, it really HAD been one of those days!


  

THE END