- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
He hated flying. Fucking hated it. Too many people, too small a cabin, too small a fucking seat. Were these things made for goddamned pygmies or something? He shuffled around again, trying to ease the numbness in his legs. The woman beside him huffed and glared – again. He tried to get his elbow onto the armrest but she wasn’t giving any ground. He should have taken the aisle seat. At least in the aisle seat he could have stretched his legs out. Thank God he was only short. How the hell did tall people fit in fucking economy class seats?
Danny Williams took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down. There were some exercises that he’d been given to use by the Sentinel and Guide Centre for when he found himself stressed or overwhelmed. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, imagine yourself floating in a bubble, immune from the troubles and trials of daily life.
He choked suddenly, catching a mouthful of perfume from the woman next to him as she sprayed herself with some foul smelling – and tasting – liquid. Who the fuck did that on a plane? Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to drench themselves and everyone around them in some fragranced compound while travelling in a tin can! A sealed tin can! With recycled air!
Gasping for breath, he opened his mouth to speak but was beaten to it by the man on the other side of her – in the aisle seat Danny had been wishing for – who had called for a steward. The two had a whispered conversation and the man was led down the aisle and into the business class section, hidden away behind a curtain so the masses couldn’t see the opulent surroundings of the better off. The steward returned for the man’s suitcase and bent to explain to Danny and Perfume Sprayer
‘The gentleman is a Guide so we’ve moved him to a quieter seat. He didn’t want to put us to any trouble but the airline likes to take care of those who devote their lives to our protection. If you’d like to spread out a little now, you’re very welcome.’
Danny wondered where his life had gone wrong. Two years ago he’d been happily married with a beautiful daughter, a wonderful life and a great job. Now he was stuck on a plane travelling five thousand miles to see his daughter for the first time in almost a year because his fucking ex-wife had left him, remarried and moved to fucking Hawaii when he’d come online as a Guide. A Guide who was sitting in fucking economy class next to the fucking perfumed lady. And if Mr Upgrade really was a fucking Guide he’d… Well. He’d do something.
Coming online as a Guide at 32 hadn’t been easy. Suddenly finding yourself open to the emotions of the masses with no idea how to control it was far from easy. Add in a stressful job and an increasingly difficult home life – because when Danny was being honest with himself, he knew there had been problems for some time. Rachel had found it difficult coping with a toddler and a frequently absent cop husband. When he suddenly came online as a Guide – and hadn’t that been a fucking big shock to everyone – she’d run for the hills as fast as she could. Or at least run for the arms of another man and moved to fucking Hawaii.
The breathing exercises had worked and Danny was now able to largely block out the rampant emotions flowing around the cabin. Who knew so many people were afraid of flying? Who knew so many people were sick to death of their partners and that Hawaii was the place to go for a quick, illicit affair? He must be the only person on the plane who wouldn’t be getting laid within the next 48 hours. And wasn’t that a depressing fact on it’s own, yet when you’ve not had sex for coming up two years, what was another 48 hours in the grand scheme of things.
He thought briefly about his Sentinel. About finding his own Sentinel and being all things to and for the one person who would, apparently, fill in the gaping hole in his chest. There was no history of either Sentinels or Guides in the Williams family, nor in his mother’s family, so Danny becoming a Guide was totally unexpected and worst part had been that there was no-one to talk to about it. The Sentinel and Guide Centre had been very helpful and had given him a lot of information – a lot of information – regarding living and working as Guide, along with meditations and exercises to train his mind and to block the empathic onslaught of emotions from everyone he came into contact or was even simply around. The stuff on Aether, or the spirit plane as many called it, Danny preferred to ignore. If and when he found his Sentinel, his own Sentinel, would be soon enough to delve into the mysteries of aether and animals that came and went and were sometimes invisible and didn’t need feeding…
Aether seemed to exist only to give him a headache. He was a cop. A good cop, though he said it himself. He was a cop and he was a father and he had been a husband and the fact that he had some random gene that meant he could feel what other people felt seemed a massive problem that no-one else saw. Guides were revered, almost as much as Sentinels with their enhanced touchy, feely, smelly, senses stuff he didn’t understand. Oh, Hollywood made Guides and Sentinels out to be some sort of real life superheroes, but they never mentioned how hard it was to get to sleep when you could literally feel what everyone in the apartments around you could feel, or how people gave you a sympathetic look when you had to admit that no, I haven’t found my Sentinel yet, and yes, of course it will be absolutely super when I do, and hey, why don’t you just fuck right off and leave me the hell alone! Throw in some sort of wild animal that was supposed to follow him around and wow! What a fanfuckingtastic life I lead.
‘You were supposed to be here an hour ago! Grace has been waiting for you.’
‘Hi Rachel, good to see you too. Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for asking.’
‘She thought you weren’t coming.’
‘Even though I called to say I was on my way from the airport?’ Danny sighed. He’d hoped to be able to have a chat with Rachel before he and Grace left for their weeks holiday. Getting lost hadn’t been part of the plan and now he and Grace were going to have to rush to get back to the airport to catch their flight. He looked up as there was a sudden sound of running footsteps and he managed to brace himself as he was hit in the midriff by his daughter.
‘Danno! I’ve missed you so much.’
Throat tight, he managed ‘I’ve missed you so much, Monkey, as well.’ He held Grace away from him. ‘Look how much you’ve grown. Where’s my baby girl gone, eh?’
‘Silly Danno. I’m eight now you know. I’m not a baby anymore!’
His arms tightened around her. ‘You’ll always be my baby, Monkey. Now come on, where’s your bag? We need to get going!’
‘Where are we going, Danno? You didn’t tell me.’
‘Yes, Daniel. Where are you going? I need to know how to contact you.’
Danny glared at his ex-wife. ‘You have my cell number. You can reach me on that if you really have to. I haven’t been able to even see my daughter for over a year. You’re not interfering with our holiday.’
Rachel tossed her head. ‘I have no intention of interfering. Stan and I are going to San Francisco for a few days. We’ll be at the St. Regis if you need us. Grace, darling, give me kiss and say goodbye to Stan.’
When they were finally settled in the taxi for the drive back to the airport Danny hugged his daughter close to his side.
‘We’re going to have a great time, Monkey, you and me. It’ll be much better than a stuffy hotel in a city.’
‘Where are we going, Danno? Can you tell me now?’
‘We’re going camping. Miles from anyone, just you and me. We’ll have a great time!’
A few hours later Danny was beginning to wonder if they really were going to have a great time.
‘Danno, are you sure you’re supposed to do that? I didn’t think you were allowed to bend the stick thingies.’
‘Gracie, come and hold this pole while I try to pull…’ There was a series of groans as Danny tried hard to pull the tent over the poles and tie…
‘Fucking thing!’ he muttered under his breath, but little pitchers really do have long ears as there was an excited squawk from his daughter.
‘Daddy! You’re really not s’posed to say that. Mummy smacked Stan when he said it in front of me and said I was never to repeat it ever!’
A wave of anguish washed over him. He was missing the whole of his only daughter’s life. He wanted to be the one to tell her not to swear. To hug her, to tuck her in at night and to tell her a bedtime story. It just wasn’t fair that he didn’t even live in the same state as her, let alone to be the one to guide and mould her. He struggled to find his voice.
‘I’m very sorry, Monkey. I won’t say it again, and your mummy was quite right. You must never repeat it.’
Grace gave him a look so like the ones he used to receive from Rachel that it made his heart ache.
‘I won’t, Daddy. But I don’t think the pole goes in that hole. It’s not big enough.’
He sighed deeply. He’d watched the youtube video of putting up a tent twice and it didn’t look that hard. The instructions said it should go up in 12 minutes but he’d been at this for two and a half hours already and it wouldn’t even stay up on it’s own.
‘Okay, Monkey. Let’s start again shall we?’
By the time Danny and Grace were able to climb into their sleeping bags, he was exhausted. He’d been travelling for over 15 hours and had left his apartment in Newark at 3am that morning. Now, here he was, tucked up in bed – for a given value of ‘bed’ – at half past seven at night and it was almost pitch black outside. What happened to long, lazy evenings in Hawaii? First it was day, then it was night and there was no in between. He’d thought he’d be able to sit and enjoy the scenery after Grace had gone to bed. He’d sit and have a drink and think about all the fun they’d had together that day and then watch the sunset, stare at the stars a little and think about the fun filled day ahead of them. Then he’d crawl into the nice big tent, cuddle his beloved daughter a little and gently drift off to sleep.
Reality was very different.
First of all, they’d had to hike for miles carrying their camping stuff and instead of the sunny glade he’d imagined, they’d been forced to pitch their tent in a sloping area of rough grassland away from the trees which were all far too close together for camping and where they weren’t there was loads of ferny stuff. He’d left quite a bit of gear in his hire car as they couldn’t carry everything and as they’d wandered around quite a bit trying to find a decent spot he just hoped he could find his way back the next day. All the goddamned trees looked the same.
The tent had taken forever to put up and he still wasn’t positive it’d stay up all night, and, no matter what people said, the ground looked downright uncomfortable to sleep on and he wasn’t looking forward to that at all. Still, Grace was enjoying herself and he was sure it beat staying in a five star hotel in San Francisco. The one thing he hadn’t expected though, was the cold. As soon as the sun went down, it was cold. No-one had mentioned that to him when his friends in Newark PD had been teasing him about his luxury holiday. Few people in Newark had been to Hawaii, at least in the circles he moved in. His friends and family had all spoken about the sun, the views, the cocktails and the sand and surf, but not a single person had mentioned how fucking cold it was at night. Still, he was in his nice warm sleeping bag inside his only slightly drooping tent with his daughter at his side. His mind automatically added ‘what could possibly go wrong’ even as his brain was yelling ‘don’t, just don’t go there’.
‘So, what’s it like being a Guide Danno?’
Danny glanced at his daughter as he tried to make pancakes in the world’s smallest frying pan. His little girl wanted pancakes so pancakes she would get, even though Cheerios would have been much simpler. The fact that the Cheerios had been left in the car was totally beside the point. Grace wanted pancakes and it had been so long since Danny had been able to give his little girl breakfast that if she’d wanted tiger steak, he’d have moved heaven and earth to try to get it for her. Pancakes were far from the most difficult thing she could have asked for.
‘Being a Guide huh? Well, what did your mum say about it?’ Because when in doubt of the answer, pass the buck as fast as you can.
‘She said that one day you’d forget about me because you’d find your Sentinel and a Sentinel always comes first to a Guide.’
Danny gazed at her in shock that his wife – his ex-wife he hurriedly corrected himself – could say something so cruel.
‘Hey Danno! Danno! You’re burning the pancakes!’
Danny shook his head to clear it and pulled the frying pan away from the camping stove.
‘Sorry, Monkey. Here, grab your plate and find the syrup. These aren’t too burnt.’
‘I like them crispy Danno,’ Grace told him loyally. ‘Stan’s are always soggy.’
The fact that his daughter’s step-father – step-Stan as Danny called him in his head – couldn’t even burn pancakes was oddly comforting.
They dug into their only slightly burnt – crispy – pancakes and Danny tried not to grimace at the sludge his proud daughter had called ‘coffee’ when she’d made their morning beverages. This was better. Camping was all about new experiences and doing things together. They made a good team and Danny began to think that the week might be fun after all.
‘So, Danno. Being a Guide.’
He wondered whether he should be proud that his daughter could stay on a topic despite being encouraged to leave it alone, or if her persistence was a sign of her growing maturity. Her mother had been like that. Unable to leave a subject well alone.
‘Well, for a start I will never forget you. You are and always will be the most important person in my life. Even if I do find my Sentinel, he or she will just have to cope with the fact that you’re everything to me.’
‘Really, Daddy?’ and the word cut through him like a knife. She rarely called him Daddy, preferring Danno – as he did himself. It was their own private word used just between them, but ‘Daddy’ was a word that could break any father when uttered in quite that tone by their daughter.
‘Really, sweetheart,’ and the look that passed between them almost made up for the weeks and months apart. Grace clutched his waist with a strength that belied her size, and it was the most perfect hug he’d felt in his life.
‘There’s a girl in my class and her daddy’s a guide and he left her and her mum and she sees him hardly ever now. I’m glad I’ll always be your everything.’
Danny hugged back, unable to speak.
They’d hiked and swum, then dried off and changed behind bushes and hiked back to their camp site in the late afternoon. Tomorrow they’d have to go back to the car as the bottles of water were almost empty but today had been great. They had not seen a single person but had been content in their own company as Grace told Danny all about her school – okay – her friends – nice, but I miss my friends in Newark – living with Stan – he talks about money all the time. Grandma Clara said nice people don’t do that! Danny had been quietly smug about that one. In return he’d told her about his work – no, I don’t ever do anything dangerous – his apartment – well it’s not as nice as our house was, but it’s perfect for me – and his love life – nothing, no-one. No, really, I’m too busy for a girlfriend. The Look Grace had given him was straight out of her mother’s book of glares and they both knew Danny had been lying to his only daughter, but they’d both decided to leave that hot mess well alone for the moment.
Now they were collecting wood for the bonfire Grace had requested, and since they were well away from the trees Danny had decided that it couldn’t hurt. They didn’t have any marshmallows but a fire would be fun and both of them were looking forward to cuddling down in their sleeping bags in the glow of the embers. It had been a good day for both of them.
‘Can you see anything?’
‘Not at the moment. Hang on, I’m going to climb that tree. Maybe I can get a better view up there.’
Joe White watched as his ‘almost-Sentinel’ climbed quickly and with the minimum of effort. From being a young boy Steve had loved climbing trees, sitting in the highest branches that could take his weight, pretending to be in the crow’s nest of a pirate ship. John had tried to prevent his only son from joining the Navy, but Joe had known from an early age that was where the young Steve McGarrett would end up. John and Doris might argue until they were blue in the face, but Joe watched their son and knew that one day Steve would put on the same blue uniform his father and grandfather had worn and would become the third generation of McGarretts to serve.
‘…Goddammit Joe, Joe!’
He started as Steve’s voice finally penetrated.
‘I’m the one who’s supposed to go into a zone out! Get up here! I think I’ve found it, or at least one of them.’
Shoving the rucksacks underneath a handy bush – the last thing they wanted was for someone to discover them – Joe climbed not quite as nimbly as his friend. Fuck, he was getting old. A hand hauled him onto a decent strength branch.
‘Over there.’ A finger pointed north east. ‘I need to zoom in on those bushes. Keep your hand on me so I don’t zone, will you?’
Obediently Joe placed his hand on the younger man’s shoulder and gripped tight as Steve concentrated his gaze on a patch of land almost half a mile away. Joe could barely make out the difference between tree and bush at this distance, but experience had taught him that Steve was able to see details just over half a mile away.
The wind was by no means strong today, but even a slight breeze could make the branches of a tree sway over thirty feet in the air. The movement meant Steve had to focus intently to find the area of marijuana they’d been told was up here. It was a fairly common trick, hiding a plantation of drugs in the depths of the rainforest, and they were difficult to find other than simply stumbling across one. Helicopters couldn’t get low enough to differentiate between greenery and the same was true for using a pair of binoculars. By the time you get high enough in a tree to see, the movement of the tree at that height meant focusing the binoculars was almost impossible to do as well as hanging on.
Only a Sentinel could focus his gaze enough to see the distances involved and make out the type of vegetation seen, and Sentinels were a rare commodity in Hawaii. At least they were until Steve McGarrett had returned to the island of his birth and become head of the state’s newest law enforcement agency. A Sentinel though, needed his guide to utilise his senses in the best possible manner and Steve still hadn’t found his guide.
‘There. Can you see the guard by the third tree on the left?’
‘Since I can’t even make out any of the trees in that area, that would be a no,’ Joe commented dryly.
Steve gave a snort of laughter and dug a monocular out from his vest.
‘Poor old man. Try this.’
Hanging on to the tree with one hand, Joe put the monocular to his eye and twisted it, trying to focus.
‘It’s no good. I can’t see a thing. I’ll take your word for it. Will you be able to find your way back here?’
‘I think so. I’ll mark this tree and we can come back with the others. Chin and Kono would never find us without letting everyone within a few square miles know they were coming and we certainly couldn’t get the helo out here safely. It’s best we come back tomorrow with a clear-up team. That plantation is going nowhere.’
As they climbed down the tree together Joe felt every one of his 56 years. Trying to keep up with a man over twenty years younger was no easy feat. Throw into the mix that the younger man was a Sentinel, and Joe was pretty much on a hiding to nothing. He pulled out his water bottle once they’d retrieved the rucksacks and took a deep gulp. Steve grinned at him but said nothing and Joe knew, he just knew the kid was mocking him.
‘Watch it short stack or you’ll be giving me 50!’
The grin intensified and Joe reached out to slap the back of Steve’s head but his friend dodged the blow easily.
‘Bring it on, old man. Race you back to the jeep?’
Joe was still muttering when he reached the jeep they’d left a few miles back down the hillside. Steve was leaning against the side of the vehicle munching on a sandwich.
‘I hope you’ve left some of those for me,’ Joe said, reaching in the back.
‘Mmm. That car was there when we left here this morning.’ Steve pointed towards a dirty Chevrolet Spark parked under some trees on the other side of the parking lot. Joe looked over, sandwich in his hand.
‘And…? I doubt any of our druggies are driving around in one of those. I’m not sure if either of us could even fit in one.’
Steve grabbed the sandwich from his almost-Guide’s hand and grinned at the indignation on Joe’s face.
‘Hey! I’m just trying to keep your weight down. You’ll never keep up with me if you put on much more!’
‘Disrespectful little bastard. It’d just serve you right if I took that teaching post at Annapolis. You don’t deserve me and if it wasn’t for the fact that I like Chin and Kono too much to dump you, I’d be on the next plane!’
‘Nah. You wouldn’t leave me. You’d miss me too much.’
There was a short fight over who got to drive them back to the airport for their quick hop back to Honolulu and, predictably, Joe lost.
‘I get to fly us back then.’
‘You flew us out here!’
‘And you’ve driven the car on both ends. I get to fly us back.’
‘In your dreams, old man.’
‘Hey, we’ve only got the helo because of me sweet talking the Centre.’
‘And getting me labelled a fragile Sentinel because of it.’
‘You’re a Sentinel without your Guide. That makes you fragile.’
‘I’ve got you.’
It was an old argument. Steve had come online during an op in North Korea a couple of years before. He’d almost gone feral but Joe had managed to get him balanced and they’d got the hell out of Dodge. Since then the pair had rarely been apart and their platonic bond meant Steve could almost function completely as a level six Sentinel. The problem was the ‘almost’.
Joe had never found his Sentinel although he’d been online since his mid teens. He was convinced that his Sentinel had been killed while they were both serving in Vietnam and had never sought another match. He’d occasionally wondered if he would have been matched with another Sentinel if he’d done as the Sentinel and Guide Centre had suggested and returned to them to undergo a search, but he was pretty content with his life as it was. He’d never felt the hole in his life other Guides had talked about before they’d bonded and he’d long theorised that the mind of a Guide compensated when their Sentinel died if they’d never bonded. Needless to say, no-one at the Centre agreed with him and they’d tried long and hard to get him to search for a compatible Sentinel. It was another reason why they disapproved of his relationship with Steve, but – thus far at least – they had no means of compelling either of them to acquiesce to their demands.
Both Steve and Joe were aware that at some point, the Sentinel and Guide Council would manage to persuade the Governor to allow them to open a Centre in the islands and would then make it their job to interfere in their lives. That they hadn’t been able to thus far was a quirk of nature. For some reason there were no Sentinels or Guides among the native Hawaiian population and few amongst those of Japanese ethnicity. No-one had ever been able to explain it, but seeing as their knowledge of what actually made a Sentinel or a Guide exist was very slim, it was really no surprise there was no way of knowing just why sections of the population were missing the gene they had discovered was common to all Sentinels and Guides.
The Council had long wanted to have an official presence in the islands but the lack of Sentinels and Guides – outside of the military – in Hawaii frustrated their attempts, as did the reluctance of the Office of the Governor to permit any sharing of authority within the State. When Steve and Joe returned to Hawaii, at the invitation of the Governor, to set up Five 0, Joe had used Steve’s classification of ‘fragile’ to squeeze a new helicopter out of the Sentinel and Guide Council. They had been more than happy to provide it, believing it was their opportunity to gain a toehold in the islands. The Governor and Five 0 were quite content to let them continue in their blissful ignorance, although they all knew that at some point the Governor would have to give way. In the meantime, Five 0 had their own helicopter and Joe and Steve could continue to squabble over who got to fly it.
The sun was just about risen by the time the team left the Big Island the following day, Joe winning the usual fight over who would pilot the helicopter but Steve had not given in gracefully.
‘Why don’t you just agree to take it turn and turn about?’ Chin Ho Kelly demanded from his seat behind the pilots. ‘It’d make life much easier for me and Kono.’
‘Why should we want to make life easier for you two? And even if we did agree to take turns, he’d cheat and take my turn when he could.’ Steve grinned at his almost-Guide whose response was to punch him in the arm.
‘Hey, Sentinel abuse!’
‘You know, technically I’m still your Commanding Officer. I should just order you to be flogged!’
‘Is that what they did when you joined the Navy, old man?’
Chin and Kono exchanged looks of resignation as the pair continued to bicker. It had been one of the hardest things for them to get used to when Five 0 was formed. Neither of them had ever worked with a Sentinel and Guide pair before, and even though Steve explained that they weren’t technically a pair and that there was a chance he would find his own Guide one day, their easy familiarity and good-natured teasing made it clear that the pair were very close friends. Coming from a tradition that placed great emphasis on respect for elders, such a relationship between the two haole was a culture shock for which neither Chin nor Kono had been prepared.
Once the jeep was parked up in the same car lot it had been the day before, however, all four were focussed on what they had to do.
‘That car’s still here,’ Steve commented idly as he fastened his tac vest and checked his weapons. Both he and Joe preferred the SIG P226R used by SEALs as their sidearm to the heavier Smith and Wesson 5906 used by Chin and Kono and the majority of the Honolulu Police Force, but they all carried the HK416 when circumstances required the use of a assault rifle as today almost certainly would. The marijuana plantations had been a problem for successive Governors, and Five 0 had been particularly tasked by Governor Jameson to try to eradicate the primary sources of the drug which caused so many problems, both socially and criminally, in Hawaii.
Chin glanced over to where Steve had indicated as Kono checked over his weapons while Joe provided the same service for Steve. This had been something Joe had introduced to Five 0 when they had first started up. SEALs were used to working in pairs and checking each other’s equipment and weapons before starting a mission. It was a good system and Chin had wondered why it wasn’t used more in law enforcement. Whilst in Honolulu PD, even before he’d been accused of corruption, he’d been responsible for his own equipment and weapons as all police officers were, and there’d been a number of incidents where incompetence with arms or just plain laziness had caused injury to innocent parties. Being responsible to your partner raised the level of vigilance and prevented a large number of accidents.
‘Come on, let’s move out,’ Steve called as the others fell in behind him and they headed off up Pu‘ulala‘au towards the marijuana plantation.
It took them almost two hours to reach the tree Steve had marked the day before. Kono moved almost as quietly as Joe and Steve did, but Chin always felt clumsy when compared to the former SEALs. He supposed they’d had years of training to make them move soundlessly through a forest. His police education at the hands of Steve’s father John hadn’t included SERE training and even though he’d been exploring the forests and parks of the islands since he was a child, it wasn’t the same as the military training Steve and Joe had undertaken. Kono just seemed to do everything gracefully and there were times when Chin could happily hate his younger cousin.
He glared at her now as he tripped over a tree root but she just grinned cheerfully at him. He was positive Steve’s disrespect to his elders was rubbing off on her.
‘I could see one of the guards about half a mile away to the north east yesterday.’ Steve spoke in a low voice and the others had to crowd around to hear clearly. ‘I’m pretty sure that there’ll be some sort of perimeter alarms, the problem is going to be to find them without alerting anyone.’
‘Will you be able to spot them?’ Joe asked in the same low voice.
Steve grimaced. ‘I may be able to. The problem is that we’ll need to go in on two sides if we want to capture anyone. It’s a sheer cliff if they head up the mountain so we’ll go in from the east and west and force them down towards where we parked the jeep. We need to take out as many guards from there as possible. It reduces the number of men available if they just move operations to another part of the forest which is the danger here. We’ve got LEO’s ready to come up later when we call them to help with the clear up.’
‘Wouldn’t we have been better to have them here now to help surround the area?’ Kono asked.
Chin answered for Steve, ‘These guys are the shoot first and ask questions later type. They know their own, anyone else in the area shouldn’t be here.’
Steve nodded in agreement. ‘To be honest, short of laying waste to the whole mountainside, there’s no way to close down all drug plantations. As soon as you close one down, another will pop up somewhere else, but Governor Jameson promised to wage war on the drug plantation growers as part of her election platform. That means we get to deal with it as best we can.’
Joe slapped him on the shoulder. ‘Suck it up Navy boy. Pairs? Kono with me, Chin with you?’
Chin tried to shake off the feeling that he’d been picked last for PE since he’d actually been a star on the football team and had never been picked last during High School for anything. That had been the fate of his old friend Kamekona. Now he really would be a nightmare in the forest. The thought cheered him up and he raised his rifle, ready to move out with Steve.
Steve sat back on his heels and growled in frustration. His plan was in ruins and he was unsure of what to do next. It was not a familiar sensation for him. He could hear every word the numerous guards were saying and it wasn’t a single jot of use to him. He’d never been more frustrated with his Sentinel skills.
He and Chin had made their way towards what they thought was the perimeter of the plantation. He’d been expecting some sort of alarm system and cursed himself for not expecting that the systems would be armed. His years in the killing fields of Asia had taught him just about everything he needed to know about both arming and disarming home-made landmines, but the main problem with deactivating them was finding the fucking things in the first place.
There was no knowing just how far apart the mines would be and if they had even been laid in a symmetrical fashion. On top of that he had no way of letting Joe and Kono know of the dangers underfoot. If he was bonded with his real Guide, chances were they’d have been able to develop some sort of telepathic connection. It was relatively common in higher level bonded pairs, that they could communicate noiselessly between themselves. Of course as a Sentinel, he was able to hear over great distances and if it had been Joe and Kono who had found the landmines, he’d have been able to hear any information Joe wished to pass on to him. Sadly, it didn’t work both ways.
Steve had never allowed himself to think too much about his own Guide. The trauma of coming online during a classified mission had been immense. Joe had barely been able to get them both back across the North/South Korean border in one piece and without leaving a trail of dead men in their wake. Their hope of capturing the Hesse brothers was blown and they would have undoubtedly caused an international incident had they themselves been captured. The whole thing had been a cluster-fuck beyond imagination and since Joe had been able to balance his senses and allow him to use them to pretty much full capacity he hadn’t wanted to return to the US to perform a search for his own Guide. The S and G council hadn’t been pleased, but then – from what he’d heard from other S and G pairs – they weren’t particularly pleased with anything to do with the various branches of the US Military.
According to Jim and Blair Ellison, who he’d had the pleasure of meeting only a few months ago at the Pentagon, the S and G Council wanted to form a separate S and G arm of the military that would be pretty much under their total control. It was such a ludicrous idea that he’d burst out laughing when Blair had first told him, believing it was some sort of wind-up. The lack of humour on Blair’s face told him that the Sentinel and Guide Council of the United States had actually proposed building themselves a private army.
What was so wrong, though, was that while the Council were making inane plans to take over the world, the problems and issues facing ordinary Sentinels and Guides were being ignored by the very people who should be concerned with them. It was little wonder Steve had decided to stay well away from the manipulations of the Council and Centres.
A poke in the arm broke him from his reverie and he turned his head to look enquiringly at Chin.
‘I thought you’d gone into a zone,’ his colleague explained in a low voice, shrugging his shoulders. ‘I have no idea how to bring you out of one of those.’
Steve nodded his thanks and made a mental note to set up some Sentinel 101 briefings. There was no way a mundane could bring him out of a zone but his teammates should have some information on working with Sentinels and Guides generally since they’d never come across any before.
‘I was trying to work out how to get word to Joe and Kono to watch out for landmines. I saw the ground was disturbed and looked closer but it’s likely neither of them would be able to spot that in time.’
‘Joe’s had experience with them before though?’
‘More than I have to be honest. He first came across them when he was in Vietnam.’
‘He served with your father there, didn’t he? John told me some stories of his Vietnam years.’
Steve started in surprise. His father had said very little to him about his time in the Navy. He knew he’d served with Joe and that they remained friends when John left the Navy and became a police officer, but John had never shared any stories of Vietnam, in fact his father had shared very few stories of any kind.
‘Yeah,’ he managed to say, feeling a wave of jealousy wash over him. John had been a mentor to Chin, and Steve knew he shouldn’t resent his colleague but it still cut him up a little. ‘He took Joe under his wing when Joe first signed up. They stayed friends and Dad was tickled pink when he discovered Joe would be my trainer when I joined the SEALs. I… You know what? Let’s save this conversation for when we’re not on a mountainside surrounded by armed guards and landmines!’
Chin chuckled a little but fell silent while Steve took stock of their position. The plan to pretty much chase the guards down the mountainside had been crude but it should have worked. Units of Honolulu police would be in position by now to capture anyone who emerged from the forest who wasn’t Five 0. There were only a couple of tracks that could be used either on foot or in a vehicle but none of them had considered that landmines would have been deployed seemingly at random. The guards wouldn’t run unless they knew where the danger spots were and Steve was positive the spot where the couple of mines they’d found wasn’t marked in any way. That meant there would only be one, or possibly two ways into the plantation, and therefore only one or two ways out. His team had no way of knowing where those exits were and they could easily go blundering into the wrong place and get themselves killed or at best, badly injured.
He and Chin were now effectively stuck since they could be – in fact probably were – somewhere in a mine-field and no means of communicating with anyone short of standing up and yelling which would only get them shot on sight. Steve could have kicked himself for deciding to leave all radios and phones hidden by the tree he’d climbed the day before. They couldn’t risk any signal being picked up by the men guarding the plantation and he cursed the fact they didn’t have the nifty little radio devices he’d used so often in the Navy. Damn the cost, he was getting them fixed up with them as soon as they made it off the mountainside.
He turned his head sharply then as he heard Joe’s voice.
‘…Know you can hear me Steve. There are landmines all over the hillside. I’m not going to risk getting any closer as we’ve no way of knowing where they are. We’re heading back to the tree and we’ll wait there until 1300 hours. If you’re not back by then, we’ll hopefully have had time to come up with another plan. Take care and don’t take any chances.’
He heaved a sigh of relief and quickly explained what he’d heard to Chin.
‘So we know they’re safe at least. We just need to get ourselves out of here and I’ll have to explain to the Governor that the only way we’ll get rid of the drug plantations is to burn them out.’
‘You said we just need to get out. How on earth are we going to do that?’
Separating from his almost-Sentinel hadn’t been ideal but Joe knew it had been necessary. Kono was only a few months out of the academy and, despite being a member of an elite law enforcement task force, was still, in essence, a rookie cop. As am I he thought to himself. Being a retired Naval Commander and former SEAL with thirty eight years of service under his belt didn’t automatically qualify him for a second career in the police force, but then Five 0 was far more than just a branch of the Hawaii State Police. When Steve had been invited by Governor Jameson to set up and lead an elite task force to clear the islands of crime, corruption and possible terrorism, Joe had automatically joined as his almost-Guide. However, as much as he enjoyed living on Hawaii – and really, the McGarrett home couldn’t be better positioned for sun, sea and surf – it wasn’t the life he’d envisaged and he certainly hadn’t expected to find himself at the age of 56, sitting up a tree with a beautiful young woman, hiding from a gang of drug peddlers.
Kono looked so comfortable, leaning back against the main trunk of the tree while he balanced cautiously on a wide branch. Since neither of them had the souped up hearing of a Sentinel to enable them to hear if anyone got too close to them, Joe had suggested they climb the tree Steve had climbed the day before. Climbing to take a quick look at something, however, was very different to climbing to hide for some time, but it wasn’t the most uncomfortable place he’d ever had to conceal himself in and the company was certainly better than he’d had to put up with in the past.
‘So,’ Kono began. ‘Explain to me about Sentinels and Guides.’
Joe blinked. ‘That’s a pretty wide subject, Kono. Do you want to be a little more specific?’
Kono huffed. ‘I understand about Sentinels and Guides generally even though you’re the first pair I’ve ever had any contact with—’
‘Well, let me start with that then,’ Joe interrupted. ‘Steve and I aren’t actually a pair. That assumes an intimate relationship and knowledge of each other we lack.’ When Kono wrinkled her brow in confusion, Joe continued. ‘A Sentinel and Guide pair have a bond between them which may or may not also be sexual.’
As she continued to look perplexed he tried again. ‘Sentinels have advanced senses and if they concentrate one or more of those senses on a particular subject, they can essentially over exert themselves and be unable to withdraw. That’s what we call a zone out.’ She nodded and he continued, ‘Very simply, Guides are able to centre the senses of a Sentinel and bring him out of a zone out. The better matched and more intimate knowledge the pair have of each other, the stronger the link between them and the easier it is for the pair to work together. You’ll have noticed that if Steve is concentrating on something with his senses, I’ll put my hand on him, skin to skin and it helps focus him.’
‘But you are not his Guide.’
‘No, although I’m a very good match for him. Mythology has it that for each Sentinel born, a Guide is also born just for that Sentinel. I can work with Steve and enable him to use his senses, but we both know I’m not his Guide. His Guide is out there somewhere.’
‘How will they find each other? And what will you do when they do find each other?’
Joe smiled. Kono, no matter how tough she liked to act, was really a romantic at heart.
‘They will almost certainly find each other. Nature provides and Guides and Sentinels are linked through the aether, what some people call the spirit element and what Plato called the first element. It has a connection to everything and everything is connected through it and by it.’
Kono nodded. ‘We believe our gods and spirits exist with us here, as part of us, not in another place like the haole god. I remember my grandmother saying that our ancestors, and our gods and spirits, are a part of our living family. She didn’t know about Guides and Sentinels, she didn’t even watch TV, but she would have understood your aether.’ She paused. ‘What about you, Joe? You say you believe your Sentinel was killed many years ago. If Steve finds his Guide, what will you do?’
Joe gazed out towards the marijuana plantation, wishing he had the super-sight of a Sentinel. Steve and Chin were out there somewhere, possibly trapped by a minefield. The only thing he and Kono could do to help was to stay out of the way.
‘I’ve been on active service since I first joined the Navy when I was 18. I was offered a post teaching at Annapolis just before Steve came online. I was contacted when we joined Five 0 to say that the position is still open for me if I ever want it.’ He gave her a quick smile. ‘Being Steve’s Guide was only ever going to be short term until he found his Guide. I’ll admit it’s lasted longer than either of us expected and I love living here in paradise, but when I can, I’ll be happy to move on with my own life.’ He glanced at his watch. ‘Now, it’s after 1300 and I can see no movement at all down there,’ he waved a hand at the rain-forest that surrounded them. ‘I suggest we stick to the plan and make our way down to the jeep. Steve and Chin know we’ll be there. At minimum, we can stop the LEOs invading the mountain!’
‘And there are sandwiches in the jeep and I’m starving,’ Kono added as she began to climb down with agility Joe knew he could never match.
‘You’re always starving,’ Joe complained. ‘I just wish I knew where you put it all.’
As Danny stretched, he heard and felt joints clicking in his back and neck. He was exhausted and every part of his body hurt.
‘I can hear your bones crack from over here, Danno,’ his darling daughter told him as she held a frying pan of sausages over the fire. ‘I thought you had to be fit to be a detective.’
‘I am fit!’ he retorted indignantly. ‘I’m just bruised from sleeping on the ground and worn out from trekking up and down this mountain all day.’
‘It’s only lunchtime, silly. And we’ve only been down to the car and back once.’
‘And I had about a hundred pounds of gear to carry back up here,’ Danny griped but immediately felt guilty at the downcast look that flashed over Grace’s face. ‘But hey, Monkey, we won’t need to go back down again. We’ve got everything here and we can just enjoy ourselves now.’
Grace shook the sausages and held the pan at arm’s length as they spat at her. ‘But aren’t we going to get another bottle of gas? We can’t use the stove until we get some more.’
Danny ground his teeth and told himself not to swear. The camping stove he’d bought on eBay was supposed to have a full gas bottle with it, but it had died after only an hour or so’s use. Boy, was he going to give that seller a rocket when he got back. That plan however, although it made him feel slightly better, didn’t make the gas bottle any less empty. He had thought they might go and get a gas bottle from a camping shop somewhere, but that would take up the rest of the day and his time with Grace was short enough as it was. He’d rather spend it with her than go traipsing off to replenish gas bottles that should have been full to start with.
He sighed in frustration he wanted to hide from his daughter. Money was very tight for him as he insisted he pay maintenance to Rachel even though she insisted Stan was happy to provide for Grace. He certainly wasn’t going to allow any other man to support his daughter until she found a husband for herself – and he hoped she’d be at least forty when that happened, or maybe fifty, as dating boys wouldn’t happen at all if he could help it. His financial situation, however, meant that holidays with Grace would have to be done as economically as possible, and that meant camping – with second hand equipment – was a good choice. It had the additional advantage of being something that was unique to him and Grace as he doubted soft living Stan would ever contemplate sleeping in anything less than a bed in a five star hotel.
Their camping trip though, was going to be the only full week he got to spend with Grace as the rest of his leave would be broken up into odd days to include her birthday and Christmas, which he was hoping they would be able to spend with his parents and siblings, and their families. The breakup of his marriage to Rachel and her subsequent departure for Hawaii with their daughter had been hard on his mother in particular, who liked nothing more than having her whole family around her for any occasion possible. Danny had been hard pushed to get this one week alone with Grace and he wanted to make the most of it. If that meant frying sausages over an open fire, that was what they would do.
’So, Monkey, what do you fancy doing this afternoon?’
‘Can we go swimming in that waterfall we found?’ she asked, eagerly.
‘I think we can manage that,’ he replied, smiling at her excitement. ‘How about for dinner we wrap potatoes in foil and cook them in the fire remains after we put it out?’ Her nod of enthusiasm for such a simple meal gave him a thrill that shot right through him. He’d missed this, missed spending time doing normal things with his daughter; missed making the memories that would sustain him until he was able to see her in person again. Skype calls just weren’t the same as a hug from your only child.
‘Danno, I think the sausages might be a bit burnt.’ The prosaic remark brought him down to earth with a bump, as she continued ‘We can prob’ly just bite those bits out though.’
Lunch over, they carefully made sure the fire was no longer burning, pushed the potatoes into the embers and covered the whole lot with earth. Danny had spent hours reading up about camping, and the dos and don’ts of campfires in particular when he’d first planned this holiday with his daughter.
‘We wouldn’t want to burn the forest down, would we?’ he joked with Grace.
‘The Lady Pele promised not to burn Kauai, Danno,’ she told him, quite seriously. ‘It’s why there’s a big cross on all of the islands except the Big Island. They’ve got all of the volcanoes, ‘cos they wouldn’t give her a sacrifice. We learned it at school.’
Not quite sure if he approved of Grace being taught about sacrifices to some woman he’d never heard of, he had to ask ‘And who is this Lady Pele?’
Grace looked at him with wide eyes. ‘She’s the Goddess who made the Islands, Danno. We don’t worship her any more, but we have to respect her.’
He didn’t want to get into a fight with his daughter, but he made a mental note to speak to Rachel about the sorts of things she was being taught at school here.
‘Okay, Monkey, we’ll respect her, but we need to make sure our fire is safe and can’t spread.’
‘I think it is,’ she replied, staring down at the earth covered mound. ‘Will our potatoes be ready when we get back?’
Having no idea how long they’d take to cook – the books weren’t specific about those kinds of details. He assured her they would since he knew they’d be away from their camp for a few hours at least. That had been one of his concerns, leaving their belongings at their campsite while they went off to do things. As a cop he knew how dishonest people could be, but their camp was well off the beaten track – evidenced in how they’d struggled to find it on their way back from the car that morning. He’d finally thought to use his iPhone to mark their position so they could find their way back and just hoped the battery charge would last long enough.
Hoisting the rucksack containing swimsuits and towels onto his back, they set off for the waterfall and pool they’d discovered the day before.
As he and Chin lay huddled together under one of the many ferns that littered the Kauai rainforests, trying to figure out how to get out of the mine riddled area surrounding them, Steve’s mind drifted to the very first episode of MASH and the clip of Hawkeye and Trapper playing golf into a minefield in South Korea. He’d spent a fair amount of time in both North and South Korea – although according to his file of course, he’d never set foot in North Korea – and he knew that landmines were still strewn across the whole Korean Peninsula despite the armistice signed in 1953. It had never occurred to him that his own home state would also contain such weapons of individual destruction,although that had been slightly naive, he told himself.
The only plan he could come up with at present was to throw stones or something ahead of where he and Chin might walk, with the hope that any mines there were would be detonated before they could be stepped on. The downside, of course, was that the guards would undoubtedly see or hear them and they were probably made from the same mould as North Korean guards: shoot first and ask questions later was almost certainly part of their genetic make-up.
He glanced at his watch. It was just after 1pm. Joe and Kono would have set off for the jeep by now and if they had come up with ideas of how to extract them, he had no way of knowing. There had to be some pathway through the mines somewhere. It was the only way the guards could come and go, and likewise, there had to be someway they transported themselves to and from the site. Surely they didn’t spend hours each day walking up and down the mountainside. Helicopter was the best choice and that meant there had to be a landing ground not too far away from the plantation and if his guess was correct, the plantation they were looking at was only one of many in these hills and that possibly meant multiple drop zones. The trouble was, helicopters over Kauai were a common sight, so common it was unlikely anyone actually noticed one flying frequently over this patch of rainforest and the drop zones were almost certainly camouflaged until immediately before use. A number of clearings on a hillside would be noticed quite quickly.
Come on, he thought to himself. I’m a Sentinel for fucks sake. I should be able to use my gifts to get us out of this mess.
As he gazed around the rainforest surrounded them, a movement caught his eye, but when he looked again he couldn’t see anything. Hmm, curious. He looked around again, trying to come up with some idea to help them, and again spotted something move on the edge of his sight. Was it a person? Had they been seen by the guards? But why would they hide themselves? He poked Chin in the side and gestured for him to look around them. Chin looked, then looked back at Steve, a puzzled frown on his face.
‘Animal?’ Steve questioned, very quietly. Chin looked around again and shook his head. It was certainly unlikely. There weren’t many mammals on the Hawaiian islands, not like the mainland, certainly. It’s geographically isolated position had protected it from ‘foreign’ wildlife, and although travellers over the years had brought a number of animals to the islands, it was still relatively free from anything large and dangerous, save perhaps a wild boar. And what he had possibly seen wasn’t a boar. The quick glance he’d had was of a big cat. But that’s impossible, he told himself, still staring in the direction he’d seen movement.
This time he didn’t miss it. There was a freaking large cat staring straight at him. He poked Chin again and pointed towards the golden eyed animal watching them. Chin still had a puzzled look on his face as his eyes swept the area, then he gave a sudden start of alarm and would have cried out if Steve hadn’t quickly put his hand over his mouth.
‘Shhh,’ he admonished, somewhat redundantly, and although it was a cliche, forced himself to add ‘Can you see what I see?’ and removed his hand from Chin’s mouth. Chin nodded wordlessly and they both gazed at the cat standing about fifteen yards away from where they were hidden.
Slowly, the feline – keeping it’s eyes firmly on the two men – turned its body and took two steps away from them then stopped, still looking back at them.
‘What…’ croaked Chin.
‘I have no idea, but it looks as though it wants us to follow it.’
‘Follow the leopard through a minefield. Really?’
‘I don’t think it’s a leopard,’ mused Steve.
‘And that’s your main concern here? That it’s not a leopard?’ Chin’s voice raised a little.
‘Steve. A large feline – I think we can agree on that! – is about twenty feet away, looking at us like we’re it’s dinner. Getting shot by the guards may be our best option here.’
The big cat had turned fully around and sat down – still watching them – as though waiting for the pair to finish their argument. Steve and Chin stared back at it, silent now. After a couple of minutes, the cat turned and took another couple of steps, then stopped and looked back at them.
‘It does, it wants us to follow it,’ Steve whispered.
‘You’re crazy! It wants to eat us!’
‘No. If it wanted to hurt us, it’s had plenty of time. My gut tells me we should follow it.’
That silenced Chin. It wasn’t uncommon for a police officer to trust his gut, although it was rarely mentioned in written reports. Moreover, trusting your gut was an old Hawaiian value, and although technically Steve was haole, he was also kama’aina, a local, as he’d been born in the islands and had grown up with the traditions and beliefs of the Hawaiian people.
‘Okay then. I trust you. Let’s follow it.’
Slipping out from under the fern, they glanced at each other and both took deep breaths. Steve stepped out directly towards the big cat and Chin followed a few paces behind. He might respect the Hawaiian values he’d been taught since birth, but he was also a pragmatist and so he let his boss be the one closest to the animal.
They’d barely taken two steps when they heard shouting. Chin turned towards the noise, but Steve kept his head down and kept moving, calling to Chin to follow him. It made sense. A moving target was much harder to hit and they both thought they’d been spotted, but when a few seconds passed and no shots rang out, they ducked behind a tree, only feet from their guiding feline and looked back towards the plantation.
There were no people visible but there was still a lot of shouting, and as they looked they saw smoke rising above the tree line. Fires in the islands were serious affairs as they could swiftly spread like, well, wildfire, and although Kauai was known as the wettest place on earth, the inaptly named rainforests contained many areas where the rain never penetrated and were consequently extremely dry; perfect places for fire to spread rapidly.
Steve and Chin exchanged quick glances and turned to look at the big cat. He’d moved away from their position but was still looking back at them. Taking a further deep breath, Steve followed him and Chin slipped into line, being careful not to stray from where the animal had stepped. It took several minutes to reach the area from where Steve and Joe had originally spotted the plantation and which they were certain was clear of landmines. The cat sat back on its haunches and gazed at them tranquilly. Hesitantly, Steve stretched out his hand, and when the feline made no movement, he stroked its shoulder. He subconsciously noted that the fur was soft and thick but it was the jolt of something that shot through him which was most surprising. It was a mixture of desire and longing and home.
Steve withdrew his hand in shock and both the feeling and the cat disappeared. He looked around wildly but the animal had vanished and when he looked up at Chin, he saw his own shock and bewilderment mirrored on his colleague’s face.
‘That was… weird,’ Chin finally managed to get out.
‘Danno!’ Grace squeaked, once again reminding Danny that his language had become dreadful since his divorce.
’Sorry Monkey, but I’m sure we’ve passed these bushes before.’
‘I think we have too, Danno. Are we lost again?’
Danny grimaced. He’d been looking forward to and planning this trip for months, but in reality, he sucked at the outdoors. New Jersey tended to be short on rainforests and although it had its share of rural areas, he was most definitely a city boy. What on earth had made him think he could cope with a week in the wild?
‘Danno.’ Grace pulled on his arm.
‘I know, Monkey. We’re lost. We should probably go back to the camp and start out again.’
‘No, Danno. Look.’
He glanced over to where she pointed. Smoke was billowing from an area of thick forest.
‘Danno. What should we do?’
In response he grabbed her hand and did the only sensible thing under the circumstances. He ran in the opposite direction to where the smoke was coming from. Crashing through the undergrowth, he all but dragged his daughter away from danger until he was brought up by Grace tripping and falling to the ground. He picked her up in his arms and tried to comfort her while still moving away from the smoke as fast as he could. He couldn’t let his daughter get hurt. He just couldn’t.
The smoke was clearly coming from the direction of the drug plantation, but why it was on fire, Steve couldn’t possibly say. There was no way that he and Chin could go to the help of anyone there since the minefield lay between them. He cursed his stupidity in insisting that ‘phones and radios be left behind at… the…
Chin jumped as Steve swore and slapped his forehead, then bent to rummage underneath a bush. He emerged holding the bag containing their phones and immediately dialled 911. He quickly informed the fire department of the smoke and the coordinates of where it was coming from, then dialled the number of his almost-guide. He and Joe had a brief conversation while Chin watched the plantation from where shouts could still be heard. As Steve ended his call they both looked up as the sound of a helicopter grew closer.
‘Too soon for it to be the fire department,’ Chin muttered, and they watched as the helicopter flew overhead and landed out of sight.
There was nothing more to do than to head back down to their jeep and speak to the local police. It was out of their hands by now. They could make a note of the helo’s registration number but there was no way it could be followed now. The drug plantation would be burnt away and the military were the best people to come up to sort out the landmines. It wasn’t exactly the conclusion they’d expected or even hoped for but undoubtedly the Governor would be able to spin it to her benefit.
Steve and Chin turned and had begun the long hike down when they heard something crashing through the forest towards them. Both men raised their guns and pointed them in the direction of the row, not entirely sure what could possibly be making such a racket. To their surprise a man holding a little girl burst into view.
‘Oh, thank god. There’s a fire and it’s coming and Grace is hurt and I have no idea and this fucking forest and it all looks the fucking same…’ The man broke off and half bent over, trying to catch his breath, but the little girl in his arms with a tear streaked face cried out as he almost dropped her.
Steve engaged the safety on his rifle and stepped forward to grab her before she fell and his hand brushed the hand of the man holding her. The same feeling he’d had when he touched the big cat jolted through him. Desire, longing and that curious sense of home. He looked in shock at the man wheezing before him, then gently removed the child from his arms. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face into his neck. Chin stepped forward to help the man stand and Steve surprised everyone, including himself, by growling slightly.
With exaggerated care, Chin took a step away and looked enquiringly at his colleague.
‘Just…I don’t know…just…don’t touch him.’
Danny, having caught his breath, looked between them.
‘What’s going on?’
Steve extended his hand and touched the man’s cheek gently. Danny started to pull away, then to his evident surprise, found himself leaning into the touch then raised his own hand and covered the one touching him.
‘What… Who are you?’
‘Don’t be silly, Danno. He’s your Sentinel.’
The two men gazed at each other in shock as the little girl buried her face back in Steve’s neck. Chin coughed to get their attention.
‘Ah, Steve and…Danno? We need to move. We need to move now.’
Steve looked around and noticed the smoke was beginning to curl through the trees towards them. Sounds of a helicopter could still be heard somewhere above them. He immediately took charge.
‘Right. Let’s get going. Fast as we can without falling.’
He grabbed his rifle, keeping his other arm firmly around the little girl and, with Danno by his side, began to make his way down through the forest with Chin bringing up the rear.
‘Give me my daughter. I can carry her.’
‘She’s fine with me. What’s her name?’
‘Grace. Grace Williams. I’m Danny Williams.’
‘No! Danny. You’re Steve? Steve who?.’
‘Commander Steve McGarrett, H50’
H50. Governor’s Task Force.’
At Danny’s blank look, Steve just sighed as he negotiated a rocky path.
‘I’ll explain later. We really need to move.’
By the time they reached where the jeep was parked, the area was full of firefighters and large machinery. Joe and Kono were talking to one of the men and Steve and his companions made their way over to them.
‘Drug growers?’ asked Joe, raising one eyebrow and looking at Grace and Danny.
Steve and Chin grinned but Danny looked offended.
‘No! We were just camping up there. It’s Grace’s holiday. I know nothing about any drugs. What—’
‘Hey!, It’s okay,’ Steve soothed his Guide. His Guide! His own freaking Guide! ‘He was joking. Danny Williams, this is Joe White, my—’
‘Commanding Officer when we were in the Big Navy,’ Joe interrupted, quickly taking in the fledgling relationship between the two men. Later on was soon enough to explain his role – previous role, he added mentally – in Steve’s life.
‘And I’m Kono Kalakaua,’ Kono chipped in, holding her hand out. ‘Also Five 0.’
‘What is this Five oh everyone keeps talking about?’ Danny demanded, looking around the group surrounding him. ‘And what does ‘Big’ Navy mean? Is there a ‘Little’ Navy I don’t know about?’
‘I’ll fill you in later,’ Steve promised. ‘Now take your sleeping daughter, I need to speak to the Chief.’
He handed off Grace and joined the man who had moved away from the group of Five 0 members to give them some privacy. They had a short conversation and Steve rejoined his colleagues and his Guide.
‘Where are you staying?’ he asked Danny.
‘I told you. We’re camping.’
‘Yes, but where are you camping?’ Steve rolled his eyes.
‘Hey! Enough with the eyes! We’re camping up there,’ and Danny motioned to the smoking hillside.
‘You’re, huh, you’re camping in the forest reserve?’ Chin sounded surprised.
Danny narrowed his eyes at the question. ‘If that’s what it’s called, then yes.’
‘You did know that’s illegal?’ Chin continued.
‘No. No, why is it illegal? What’s illegal about camping? Lots of people camp here.’
‘We have licensed campsites around all the islands, but you need a permit as well. Do you have a permit?’
‘No, I don’t have a permit. I didn’t know I needed a permit. What’s a permit anyway? A licence to sleep? You need a licence to sleep here? What kind of place is this?’
‘Hey, Danny, calm down. You can’t stay here now anyway. That fire isn’t going to be put out today and it could easily spread to where you were camping, but Chin’s right. You need a permit to camp and then have to camp in one of the state or county campgrounds. That’s immaterial though because I have a house on Oahu and you’ll be coming to stay with me until we decide what we’re going to do.’
‘Do about what? And I’ve only got a week with Grace and then I have to be back at work. I don’t see enough of her and I don’t want to waste what little time I have with her.’
For a moment hurt shot through Steve as his Guide made it clear his number one priority was his daughter. He’d just sort of assumed that when he did find his Guide, they’d bond and live happily ever after as the most important person in each other’s lives.
‘Grace doesn’t live with you?’ Chin asked.
‘No. She lives with her mother and her… her mother’s new husband. They live in Kalaha, on Oahu. I still live in Newark, New Jersey. I’m a detective.’
‘A detective? Well that’s great. You’ll fit right into Five 0,’ Kono exclaimed.
‘Hey, hey, slow down. I’m not moving to Hawaii. My life’s in Newark. Why would I move to Hawaii and just what is this Five oh?’
‘You’d move because you’re my Guide and I live here?’ Steve answered slowly.
‘So why can’t you move to Newark? Is there a law or something that means a Guide has to give up his life?’
‘No, of course not! It’s just that I don’t have a job in Newark and you could join us in Five 0 here and also, your daughter lives in the islands and you could see her more often? And Five 0’s a special task force to tackle high level crime in the islands. We answer directly to the Governor.’
Danny considered this. It did actually make sense for him to be the one to move and then he’d be close to Grace. But he did hate having to give way.
A sleepy voice interjected.
‘Danno, come and live here and I can see you all the time.’
‘Let’s leave that for the moment and talk about it later, huh?’ Steve said. ‘Now about your campsite. Just where were you? And how much stuff did you leave up there? Is that your car, over there?’
‘Hey! Slow down, Navy boy! If you’ll just reach in my left pocket, I marked our camp on my cell.’
Steve retrieved the cell phone and passed it to Danny who was trying to balance his daughter with just one arm. Joe came to the rescue and took Grace from him and laid her down in the back of the jeep. Danny keyed in his password and showed the location of his camp. The Five 0 people exchanged glances. Unknowingly, Danny and Grace had camped just by where they thought the landmines were laid. That they’d not stepped on one or been spotted by the guards at the marijuana plantation was sheer dumb luck.
‘So what’s with the looks between you people? Do you have some sort of secret sign language here? You don’t use words like normal people?’
‘Okay Danny. Quick briefing on what we’re doing here. Hawaii has a problem with a number of marijuana plantations being set up in remote areas. They’re extremely difficult to find both from the air and from searching on foot. They have armed guards 24/7 and we discovered today that at least some of them have landmines surrounding them.’
‘And by landmines you mean…?’
‘Booby traps hidden on the ground which, if you stood on one, could blow your foot or leg off or even worse.’
‘And by remote areas you mean…?’
‘Areas like the place where you appear to have been camping. From what we could tell, the landmines begin just yards away from where you were. You’ve both been very lucky,’ Steve finished, soberly.
‘And you allow this to happen?’ Danny’s voice began to rise. ‘You don’t do anything to prevent this? We could have been killed. Grace could have been killed!’
‘Hey! We were out there today trying to shut one down! That’s when we discovered they were using landmines, because Chin almost stepped on one and if I hadn’t heard the click…’ Steve stopped to take a breath as Kono and Joe gazed at him in horror.
‘Chin almost stepped on one?’ Joe repeated. ‘How did you get out? You had no idea where they were laid. We certainly didn’t and it was only because we found an area where one had exploded that we knew they were there anyway. Thankfully we saw it from the opposite side of a stream and so were pretty certain they stopped there but how did you get out?’
Chin and Steve exchanged glances which caused Danny to huff in annoyance and mutter to himself.
Steve sighed. ‘We were stuck under a fern when I heard you say you’d found landmines. We were debating what to do when…’ he paused and sighed again. ‘When we saw… we saw a leopard or a cheetah or something. It wanted us to follow it so…we did.’
‘You…saw a leopard?’ Kono sounded bemused.
‘Well, actually, I don’t think it was a leopard, I mean it had spots but…’
‘A jaguar?’ Danny had been listening silently but now chipped in. ‘Could it have been a jaguar?’
Steve looked at him enquiringly and he continued.
‘My spirit animal is a jaguar. I’ve seen it in dreams, or what I thought were dreams, most of my life, but it was only after I came online that I realised it was my spirit animal so I looked it up. It’s a jaguar.’
‘And why are you so sure that we saw your spirit animal?’ questioned Chin.
‘It’s well known that Sentinels and Guides are frequently visited by their partner’s spirit animal, especially if one of them is in some sort of trouble. Grace was right, Steve is my Sentinel, although I have no idea how she knew that. It makes sense that if he was in danger my spirit animal would appear to help him.’
‘But why your spirit animal and not his own?’ questioned Kono.
‘You know what? I have no idea. I just know there are plenty of stories out there that one of a pair is often helped by the other’s spirit animal if they’re in some kind of danger.’
‘Well, it makes sense,’ Steve admitted. ‘To be honest, there’s a lot I don’t know about Sentinels and Guides since I didn’t take any classes when I was younger. Most of what I know I got from Jim and Blair Ellison when I met them at the Pentagon.’
‘So what’s your spirit animal, Steve?’ Chin asked.
‘I think it’s a tiger.’
‘You mean you don’t know?’ Danny sounded more appalled than questioning. ‘I can see I’m going to have my work cut out with you as my Sentinel.’
Steve smiled. Danny was going to be his Guide. His real Guide. Not that he wasn’t very grateful to Joe for giving up a couple of years of his life to help him, and he’d make sure Joe knew how grateful he was. Now, though, now he had his real Guide.
Danny and Steve sat in beach chairs watching Grace playing in the sea. There was a contentment between them that belied their short acquaintance, although acquaintance was hardly the word to describe a Sentinel and Guide bonded pair. Steve stretched out his hand and wrapped his fingers around those of the man seated next to him. Danny turned his head and grinned.
‘I can’t quite believe you’re real.’
In response, Steve squeezed his hand and wiggled his eyebrows. ‘Oh, I’m real alright. I thought I’d proved that to you last night.’
Danny spluttered then huffed loudly as he was engulfed in a soggy, wet hug.
‘Danno, did you see me swimming? Uncle Steve, did you see me? Did you see me diving as well? What did you prove last night? Was it after I went to bed?’
Steve coloured slightly as he was caught out by his..huh..step-daughter? He tried to cover it by reaching over and tickling her.
‘Sure did, Gracie girl. We’ll have you on a surfboard before long.’
She squealed in excitement and Steve hoped he’d headed off any awkward questions, but since his Guide’s daughter was as bright as a button, he doubted it would last for long.
‘No!’ Danny hugged Grace and glared at his Sentinel. ‘You are not teaching my daughter to balance on one of those flimsy wooden things in deep water.’
‘Danny, they’re made out of fibreglass or epoxy these days and she can’t be a proper Hawaiian girl if she doesn’t surf. We can get Kono to teach her, she was a champion surfer before she went to the Academy…’
Joe glanced out into the garden as he carried his bags to the front door. He slipped out quietly, leaving the boys bickering gently while watching Grace swim.
It was their time now. He’d enjoyed his few years as Steve’s almost-Guide, but it was their time now.
He closed the trunk of his car as quietly as he could and slipped behind the wheel.
The destructive quality of fire can actually bring about positivity. It clears away what was there before and encourages previously dormant new life.
For the first time in probably his entire life he had nowhere to be and no-one to answer to. His new job lecturing at Annapolis would begin in the fall. In the meantime, the world was his oyster.