WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19TH - AMERICAN SAMOA
The days had blended into a waking nightmare for Danny as he lost track of time and place. He could no longer remember the first few days of his abduction or barely recite his own name for the drugs, hunger and fatigue.
The words "D. Day." echoed ominously in his mind from the dire warning first sent to Steve. No one - not one of them - had connected Danny specifically to it. And though Darien might be drowning in the expanse of his own power, he also knew that Steve would do the right thing whether he wanted to ... or not. It therefore meant that Danny was utterly expendable by default. He was a pawn in a power-play and in a lose-lose situation. He understood that his team would do their best to find him, however the trial would go on regardless of Darien and his threats.
The personal ignorance he felt for getting abducted after a mundane early morning trip to the dry cleaner stayed, while hope of his team finding him truly began to dwindle as pain and exhaustion came to the fore. His physical duress even superseded his ability to concentrate on Grace and her smiling face which truly frightened him. The ample use of drugs, lack of food and barely enough water only exacerbated his inability to focus on anything but the dismal here and now of his situation. So when he almost couldn't remember the sound of her young voice, the feel of her hug around his neck, or hear her happy laughter - not even in his fretful dreams - Danny fought harder.
In a blind panic that he would eventually forget, he closed his eyes tightly and made himself think of every happy thing he could possibly recall. With a dutiful resolve, he spent hours remembering the sounds, tastes, smells and sights of each special memory. Each was relished, relived, catalogued, filed and then safely locked tightly up in a private corner of his mind where he only might see and touch them if he chose.
When he opened his eyes again, Danny was still there, but focused solely on staying alive and biding his time for any opportunity where he might escape. The emotions were gone to be replaced with that singular purpose. He memorized his captors' habits, ways of walking and clothing. It was all he could do, but it was something that might give him an edge and the split second of opportunity that he needed to escape.
He remained snugly tied at all times. No one spoke to him. Not once in the entire time and he'd not seen a single face for the care his abductors took in hiding their identities. There were three men present constantly who he learned to identity by their height, build, mannerisms and oddly, their footwear. Each had a particular role in his abduction and Danny was resolute that he now had one, too.
But throughout his too long ordeal, he'd been denied food, a great deal of water and all basic necessities to only receive drugged injections that left him shaking and in a fugue state. There were sparse memories of being moved often, the most recent was beginning to fade but it included the sensation of flying and of travel by boat across a very choppy sea. It seemed so long ago and such a faded dream by that point, Danny didn't even try to wonder if it had actually occurred.
Now he had come to in yet another different, dank room firmly strapped to a chair facing a familiar black-hooded figure holding a camera. The near deafening sound of heavy rains hitting the roof of their latest abode proved it was storming yet again. His ears popped uncomfortably as wind gusted around where they were hidden and thunder echoed closely overhead. The barometric pressure was changing and the temperature falling as a new storm intensified. Coming back to himself, Danny's drugged but angry glance proved his photographer was 'Sneakers One', the runner or gopher of the three.
The smaller framed and lesser of all the evils, he had a cocky way of walking to bounce on the balls of his feet which made him seem young and immature. His fingers were long and slim attached to skinny wrists with finger nails bitten down to their quick. Sneakers One was nervous, edgy and constantly seeking approval from his two more astute cohorts.
Danny winced and blinked when a series of light-bulb infused pictures were taken of him. He fisted his hands in a temper as he feebly tried to move against the tight straps and then wheezed in pain as a sharpness settled in his chest. His head held a constant ache that often flared into an epic migraine. Thirst had also become an ongoing obsession. He roused now almost frantic for water after days in high humidity and from drugs, his tongue refused to work as he swallowed hard against the dryness in his throat. The one or two small bottles a day simply weren't enough to stave off the beginnings of dehydration.
He had asked for more once and been happily beaten into oblivion by Sneakers Two; he hadn't made the request again. He had become as silent as his captors.
Danny looked up through veiled eyes as his unwanted photographer, Sneakers One, left him. He wasn't alone for long though as a second hooded man entered the room with yet another gift. Glancing automatically to what he wore, Danny shook his head as his finger nails left painful bruising crescents in his palms.
The very tall and more slender Boots stood menacingly in the doorway and Danny closed his eyes. Where Sneakers Two liked to prove his boxing prowess by using Danny's body as a punching bag, Boots was dangerous and his presence was immediately telling. He was the ring-leader and boss of the other two.
Danny had at first thought Sneakers Two the leader. That assumption changed when a one-sided boxing match resulted in a loud crack of his left rib and Boots had nearly gone ballistic on the man. It was obvious that their captive was meant to remain alive - at least in the short term - and Two had gone too far.
Boots had taken Two by the throat and had nearly lifted the burly, shorter man clear off his tennis sneakered feet. Two's meaty hand had retaliated by digging into the man's wrist and he'd left a ridge of black bruising. However, Two had managed to abstain from reactively defending himself in a much more physical manner from Boots aggressive warning. He'd taken the serious threat quite well and from that moment, it defined Boots as the clear leader of the trio.
After the altercation between the two men, the very personal pummelings doled out to Danny hadn't necessarily stopped. They merely had become more deliberate to debilitate and weaken, but not to maim or kill ... not yet.
Danny's breath audibly changed in the small room as Boots entered his small chamber. He almost preferred Two with his rolling walk that reminded him of the warrior dwarf from Lord of the Rings. His broad upper torso and thick chest equally matched the description, too. In a way, Danny almost appreciated that measured predictability to this silent, stealthy and dark-hooded figure.
"No," Danny whispered before coughing from the dryness in his throat. Boots never brought water; he only delivered one particular gift and Danny had only just roused from unconsciousness. He undoubtedly saw Danny's stress level rise when he entered the room, but the man with the taupe-colored military-like boots kept coming.
He struggled briefly as Boots held the syringe between his teeth. It tucked some of the black hooded material into his captor's mouth but the man needed both hands to tighten the yellow rubber tie on Danny's arms. His nearly dehydrated state was clearly making it difficult for the man to locate a vein and Danny winced as it tightened so much the blood supply was strangled to his fingers. It was too soon and his heart pounded through his chest.
"Stop. He'll .. never do it .. never," he whispered again as the man ignored him to thrum his arm heavily to finally find a vein that sluggishly popped up. They were preparing to move him again and besides being lost in time and space, he couldn't bear that knowledge because it possibly meant rescue could be close. That brief flare of hope faded further though as Boots pulled the vial from his shirt pocket.
Shaking his head dismally, Danny once again tried to move away as Boots deftly tapped the vial and readied the syringe. The tall man growled a warning and shook the chair so hard it rattled Danny's head painfully on his neck. He closed his eyes then and waited for the coming sting and subsequent darkness but it never came as a new roar filled his ears. Almost instantly, the building began to shake on its poor foundation and his captor nearly dropped the drugs in shock.
Two other voices could be heard shouting from another room and Danny forced his head up when Boots turned and literally ran away. An illogical tendril of hope rekindled as Danny envisioned the noise to be a helicopter bursting through the storm. But he gasped when the small building began to literally move on its flimsy foundation and a startling loud grinding screech of metal, rock, and concrete sounded heavily.
As the wind intensified, loud cracking sounds and whooshes of train-like noise signaled breaking trees and in a dizzying rush, Danny renewed his struggles as a rivulet of water became mud that oozed quickly into the room he was in. Fissures opened in the walls and the ancient beam to the doorway buckled. Bits of trees and greenery came along next and his chair was suddenly moving on its own. Seconds later it smashed into the rear concrete wall as the building shifted significantly into itself like an accordion.
He lost consciousness while fighting to break free from the straps which held him trapped. He fell into darkness to distant fearful screams as the back of his head followed the chair to crash for a second time with a sharp splintering crack into concrete.
When he roused again, Danny was trembling uncontrollably from both shock and the cold wind and rain which pelted his body. He vaguely knew that he was now outside in the tropical storm. On his right side, he lay limply in a mucky puddle of water, breathing hard and staring at his right hand which was partially obscured by a green fern. It took him more than a few minutes to get the energy necessary to try and sit up gasping against the pain in his head and ribcage. His left hand and wrist refused to cooperate and as a knife-like grinding ache shot through both, he cradled his fingers awkwardly to his chest.
A sharp constriction around his chest prevented him from taking a deeper breath and he looked down in confusion when he saw the leather buckled straps. Panting heavily, Danny fumbled with his right hand to finally release the straps which had once held him tightly to a wooden chair. Now fractured remnants of that same chair lay against his skin solely due to the leather alone.
Driven to move, Danny pulled himself up but then had to lean back down to release leather straps that circled his ankles. He nearly fell over from the dizzy spell that rocked him but once more, he was driven by an urge to move and get as far away from where he was as physically possible.
With one hand he wiped water from his eyes, stunned to find himself in the middle of a dense jungle. It felt both wrong and right as he gazed in confusion at the almost foreign looking ferns and tropical vegetation. The room in which he'd been sitting simply no longer existed. A concrete block or two lay wedged on end in thick mud and other remnants that could have come from a metal roof glinted briefly under a larger vine-encased tree when lightning lit the sky. Trees were toppled over randomly and Danny followed the clear line of destruction up through the destroyed vegetation to where the mudslide must have begun from water-logged earth.
He looked for Sneakers One and Two, or for any sign of Boots. But he saw and heard no one as he fought nausea and pain and then took a hesitant step forward. He'd lost a shoe himself as mud squelched up through his toes and then threatened to pull off his one remaining shoe. And then he had to stop almost immediately to wrap his right arm protectively around his waist for the grinding of his broken rib.
But that was when his fingers found the badge on his belt. Bleary-eyed, he took a moment to stare at it in complete wonder.
"Hawaii?" Looking around at the storm-swept terrain, he supposed that he could be on the tropical island. However, Danny's bewilderment grew exponentially as he read the words emblazoned across the gold front.
'Investigator. Five-0 Unit.'
The words held no meaning for him.
He stood their longer in the wind and rain with an utterly blank mind only to realize then, he didn't know who or where he was. Standing alone in the middle of a jungle, Danny fisted the strange badge before beginning to stumble through the dense underbrush.
It didn't matter. The here and now demanded that he find a way to survive. The only why demanded that he focus and work on distancing himself from Sneakers One, Two and Boots ... and that is exactly what he did.