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Crash and Burn
Mady Bay - mbay@binghamton.edu
November 29, 2004
"Harada went along with this?" Chris asked, walking down the hall of the police station, toward the exit that would lead to the parking lot.

Detectives Danny Edwards and Chris Gains had gotten information about a new marijuana crop on the Island. One of the dealers they'd arrested the previous evening had offered up the information, hoping to receive a lesser charge. Although that decision was ultimately up to the District Attorney's office, Danny failed to let Manny Reynolds, their defendant, know that.

Reynolds had told them that out in the hills on the western side of the Island, there was a new marijuana crop being grown amidst the pineapples. He also said that the only ways to get in were to enter the plantation through the main entrance, where there was a gatehouse, or to traipse through the jungle growth. Unfortunately, he couldn't give them too much more information than that.

"I left him a voice mail."

Chris stopped in his tracks. "You didn't tell him?!"

"Oh, like he's gonna okay us requisitioning a chopper again?" Danny countered.

"We've got enough."

"Not enough for Murph to agree," Danny said. "He's still bitching and moaning about being part of that little international incident you started."

"I started?!!" Chris balked. He faced his partner. "I do believe it was you that started that one, Danny."

"Hey, not my fault you can't run fast enough," Danny retorted, shrugging his shoulders.

Chris opened his mouth to counter Danny's remark, but instead, just shook his head.

The two had been through hell during the day or two Chris had been stuck on that small island nation. They both knew how close he had come to not returning home, but enough time had passed that they were able to joke about it.

"So you planning on flying this one yourself?" Chris asked sarcastically.

"Ha ha," Danny replied flatly. "It just so happens I've got a buddy that runs one of those helicopter tours," he continued. "He owes me a couple of favors. We'll be just like the tourists."

Chris resumed his walk out of the police station and into the parking lot. "Well, if we're gonna be a honeymoon couple, I get to be the groom," he quipped.

Danny rolled his eyes and hit the button to unlock his car. The two then headed for "Frank's Flights Helicopter Service and Tours".




Two and a half hours later, the partners found themselves aloft and on the western side of the Island. Danny had given his friend, Frank Zeto, the information he'd gotten from Reynolds about the location of the pineapple/marijuana fields. They'd made some low sweeps of several fields so far and found only pineapples.

"Hey, how about that over there?" Chris spoke up, pointing to his right.

Frank looked to where Chris was pointing and nodded his head.

"Looks all the same to me," Danny muttered. "Three rolls of film and I bet all we're gonna get is close-ups of pineapples. Damn, I hate those things!"

Chris laughed to himself and readjusted the zoom lens on the camera he held, focusing on one of the buildings he'd pointed to.

"Heads up, Danny," he said, snapping a few pictures.

"What've you got?" Danny asked, straining to look out Chris's window, to see what he'd seen.

"Looks like guards at the gate," Chris answered. "Didn't think pineapples needed guarding..."

"None I've ever heard of. Head over that way," he told Frank, motioning to a large crop-filled field.

Frank did as ordered and turned the helicopter to the left, dipping a little lower so that they could get a good look at the field.

Chris let out a low whistle and continued to snap pictures of the crop below.

"I do believe we've found what we came for," Danny voiced.

"Think we should risk taking another sweep?" Chris asked.

But before Danny could reply, Frank had already taken the initiative and turned the helicopter around, flying even lower than before.

"No, no, no!" Danny exclaimed. "They're gonna make us!"

Almost as soon as the words were out of Danny's mouth, the helicopter was riddled with bullets from below. Chris let out a painful cry as one tore through the glass door of the helicopter and into his right leg.

"Get us out of here! Get us out of here!" Danny shouted, pounding the back of Frank's seat.

Frank pulled back on the controls and lifted the helicopter skyward, but not before more bullets hit the helicopter, heavily damaging it.

"We're hit!" Frank cried out, struggling to maintain control of the helicopter. "I don't know if I can hold it!" He hit a few buttons on his radio. "Mayday, mayday, mayday! This is Frank's Flights Nancy Bravo Two Nine Zulu; we have been hit by gunfire and are going down. Coordinates-"

Danny didn't bother to listen to the rest of Frank's transmission. He was more concerned with his partner, who was bleeding profusely.

"Chris?!" he called, unsure of what to do. There wasn't enough time.

"Let's just get down, first," Chris got out, pressing his hand down tighter on the wound to the side of his thigh.

Danny did the only thing he could do - he reached over and grabbed Chris's seatbelt and buckled it, making sure the straps were tight. Then he reached for his own.

"Hang on!" Frank shouted.

Danny had time to look forward, see his entire field of vision fill with the green leaves of the jungle, before everything went black.




Captain Terry Harada was discussing plans for a search warrant with Detectives Sean Harrison and John Declan. They were interrupted by a knock on his office door.

"Come," the Captain called.

Officer Kaleo came into the office.

"Just got a call from the airport. One of those tour helicopters crashed on the west side of the Island," he said.

"Sounds like a job for Search and Rescue; Fire and EMS," Declan remarked.

"Gains and Edwards," Harada muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose, recalling Edwards' voicemail message.

"Huh?" Sean asked, obviously confused. "Gains and Edwards?"

"Airport officials said the pilot reported being hit by gunfire," Kaleo continued.

Sean met Harada's gaze and nodded his head. "Gains and Edwards," he agreed.

The three men cleared the desk of the search warrant paperwork and spread out a map of the Island and started making some phone calls to coordinate the police department's role in the search and rescue operation.




Chris didn't think he'd ever hurt so much. He was reluctant to open his eyes, knowing that he wouldn't like what he'd see, but knew he had to. When Frank had warned them of the impending crash, he'd let go of his leg long enough to put his hands over and around his head, assuming a "crash position". But despite the many Hail Marys and Our Fathers he'd recited, the helicopter had crashed down anyway, twisting and turning and bumping through the trees until if finally came to a silent stop. Deep down he was grateful for that pain, though. He knew that if he was hurting, he was still alive. He only hoped his partner and Frank fared as well.

"Danny?" he called, opening his eyes and looking to his left.

But Danny was nowhere to be seen. The left half of the helicopter was missing, as well.

"Frank?"




Consciousness returned slowly, as muted sounds and bright colors seemed to swirl together like some psychedelic movie. Danny almost started to enjoy it. Then the sweet smell of pineapple mixed in and made him nauseous and he found himself crying out in pain as stomach muscles contracted and his bruised, battered body protested.

"Chris?" he called out, his eyes frantically searching his surroundings for his partner, but not finding him.

Danny tried to sit up, but pain flared from all points on his body, stopping the motion practically before it began.

"Chris?" he called out again, weakly.

He could do nothing but hug his arms to his chest and close his eyes tight, trying to guard against the pain.




Trying to move forward, suddenly stopped by the seatbelt still restraining him, Chris cursed aloud and fumbled for the buckles. Thoughts of Danny, his partner buckling him in, came to mind. Chris renewed his efforts and nearly fell out of his seat as they came undone.

Letting out a cry of pain as his body jolted forward, Chris grabbed his injured leg and tried to stem the pain, as well as the still flowing blood.

"Frank?" he called again, leaning forward, grabbing onto the seat in front of him.

"I'm here," Frank replied weakly, pain in his voice.

"Oh, shit," Chris cursed, taking a look at the pilot.

"My thoughts exactly," Frank got out.

A tree branch had impaled Frank's left leg, trapping him in the cockpit. Chris swallowed back the bile in his throat and leaned back into his seat again, taking deep breaths.

"Have you seen Danny?" he asked.

"He's not back there with you?" Frank countered.

"No."

"The radio's fried and I'm stuck here, Chris," Frank went on. "It's up to you to find Danny and get us out of here. There should be a First Aid kit under my seat, if you can reach it. Use what you can."

Chris realized that Frank's days in the Navy as a helicopter pilot were not forgotten. The man wasn't even close to panicking.

He also realized that he really needed to find his partner, and he prayed Danny would be in much better shape than Frank. His first thought was to reach for his cell phone, a habit well ingrained in him, his partner's cell phone number being the first one he'd programmed into its speed-dial function. But sometime during the crash, it had gotten lost - flung from his pocket to points unknown.

"Dammit!" he swore, rubbing his hand through his hair in frustration.

"You all right?" Frank asked.

"I'll be fine. Just a bullet wound, right?"

He located the First Aid kit under the seat, where Frank had said it was. He reached for it, opened it, and tore open the roll of bandaging he found inside. After crudely wrapping it around the wound on his leg, he passed it to Frank.

"I can take care of myself. You go look for Danny."

Chris wondered at the worry in Frank's voice. He was wondering if it was more than just a few favors owed between the two men.

He'd just made it outside the helicopter, landing roughly on the ground after his injured leg gave way, when he'd heard the sounds of another one flying overhead. A smile came to his face.

"Help's on the way!" he told Frank.

And then he heard the gunshots.

"Shit!"

The men's hopes for a swift rescue were dashed as they realized that the same gunmen that shot their helicopter down were now trying to do the same to anyone that came to their aid. They also realized that these same bad guys were in the same dense jungle they were in, and that they were probably headed their way.

"Go!" Frank urged.

"Danny?!" Chris called, looking around frantically, hoping that his fear would give him the strength he'd need to find his partner.




Terry Harada strode over to the incident command scene, pulling out his badge and ID as he met up with the State Police Lieutenant in charge.

"What's the situation, Mike?" he asked, concern for his officers showing in his voice and on his face.

"Still some hostiles taking pot shots at anything that flies," Lt. Mike Richards replied. "We've got the SWAT assembling, gathering intel. Until that area's clear, we can't even think about S and R getting to your boys."

"Any idea of how many we're looking at?" Sean asked, joining the group.

"We've already arrested six at the gatehouse. A couple of them are talking. Looks like there might be another four or five still out there."

"How far are we from where the chopper went down?" John asked.

"The coordinates the pilot was able to call in show them about here," Richards answered, pointing to the map he'd spread out on the hood of his car and a small red circle on the map itself. "That's about three miles from here."

"What are we waiting for?" Sean asked, though not expecting an answer.

Richards looked at Harada, saw that he wasn't about to win any arguments about jurisdiction, and nodded his head. "I'll give you a couple of our radios, so we're all on the same frequency," he said.

"Meet me at the gatehouse in five."




"Danny?"

When Danny heard the sound of his partner's voice, had proof that Chris was still alive, he'd never felt more alive himself.

"Chris!" he yelled back, hoping his voice carried far enough. He still couldn't see Chris. "Chris!" he called again.

"Danny! Where are you?"

Chris searched all around looking for Danny. He'd managed to get himself, crawling at times, about a hundred yards from the downed helicopter, tracing back the path it had made through the trees. His body ached, his right leg was on fire and still bleeding, but none of that seemed to matter to him at the moment, now that he knew his partner was alive.

"Danny!" he called again.

"Here!" came Danny's reply. "I'm here!"

Chris headed in the direction of Danny's voice, limping heavily, leaning on trees for support until he found Danny lying on his side about ten feet into the pineapple field.

"Danny! Oh my God..." Chris sank to the ground next to Danny's prone form and put a hand to Danny's shoulder. "God, I thought you were dead. They're still shooting..." he rambled, trying to catch his breath. "Are you okay?"

"Better now," Danny replied weakly.




Sean and John made their way cautiously through the field, their weapons out and leading the way, wary of any signs of the drug dealers and/or shooters they were looking for. They each listened to the radio they'd been given, ear pieces in place, counting down the number of suspects out there as the State Police SWAT team captured them.

"Sounds like maybe only one or two left," John noted quietly, getting a nod in return from Sean. "How far you think we've gone?"

"Only about a mile," Sean answered. "Let's keep to the edge of the field, head to the right up ahead where it meets that tree line," he added, pointing ahead. This time John nodded his assent.

They stalked silently for a while, following the path to the right, as they'd planned, before John broke the silence again.

"Almost wish they'd start shooting again, just so we can get a fix on where they are," John remarked.

"Yeah, then it would be easy to just shoot 'em back, too," Sean said with a grin. He was about to remark on something else, when he heard Captain Harada call him over the radio. He keyed his mike and replied, "Harrison."

"Status and location, Sean," Harada asked.

"We're about a mile and a half from the gatehouse, at the north end of the field. No sign of anyone yet," Sean reported.

"Copy that. We're sending another bird up," Harada informed him. "This one's gonna shoot back, so watch yourselves."

"We copy." Sean looked at John and said, "Looks like you might get your wish."




"Where you hurt, Danny?" Chris asked, now noticing that his partner hadn't moved at all since he found him.

Danny let out a moan and answered, "Might better ask where I'm not hurting." He looked at Chris then and said, "My back and left hip are killing me. I can't move without feeling like I got knives poking through me. Hurts to breathe, even. What about you? And is Frank okay?"

"Frank's still in the chopper. He's hurt, trapped in it, but he says he'll be okay. Me, other than my leg, just some bumps and bruises, I guess," Chris replied, knowing it would have been different if Danny hadn't taken the time to buckle him in. "Thanks," he added.

The two men looked toward the sky then, as a helicopter's rotors sounded in the difference.

"They're coming back," Chris said, hope in his voice. "Just hope they can find us."

"Just hope they don't get shot down, too," Danny added before resting his head back down on the ground with a groan. "God, I hate pineapples."

Chris patted his shoulder gently, wondering how they were going to get out of their predicament. He knew his own strength was nearly gone and that there was no way Danny would make it out of the fields on his own. He didn't dare move him, considering his back injury. His contemplations were cut short then, by the sound of gunfire.

His hand went instinctively to his holster and his gun was in his hand in seconds, ready to use. The helicopter that he'd heard was just to the south of him and it was returning fire. Successfully, he hoped.

"How close?" Danny asked.

"Too close," Chris whispered in reply. "But I think we're good here. We're away from the chopper and into the field. We've got concealment."

"But Frank doesn't," Danny said, worriedly.




"That way!" John exclaimed, hearing the gunfire, and running toward it.

Sean followed close behind, cutting through the pineapple field's corner and heading toward the jungle growth.

"This is HPD One; shots fired; we're about a quarter mile out!" Sean yelled into his radio.

"Sean, the chopper reports two shooters. Repeat: two shooters," Harada called back.

"Two shooters; copy!"




Danny heard the shooting. Heard the noise getting louder; closer. He tried to reach for his own gun, but only gasped in pain as his back and hip protested the movement.

"Easy, I gotcha covered," Chris told him, stilling his movements.

Chris steadied himself as best he could as he aimed his weapon towards the direction of the shots. It was easy to see the general direction of where the bad guys would be coming from, by watching the helicopter's approach. Now he just needed to know that the officers in the helicopter wouldn't hit them by mistake, or take them for the bad guys. Without another thought, he reached into his shirt and brought his badge out so that it hung on its chain in plain view.

The gunfire stopped. The helicopter slowed.

"They either got them or lost them," Danny got out.

The two men stayed where they were, Chris still aiming his weapon at the tree line, waiting for some sort of sign. A minute later, he heard movement from behind him. He turned around as best he could, as fast as he could, biting back the cry of pain that wanted to escape his lips and came within a hair's breadth of shooting John Declan.

"Ease up!" John exclaimed, coming to a dead stop and holding his hands and his gun up in surrender.

Chris did just that, lowering his gun down with a relieved sigh, the adrenaline seeming to drain out of him, now that they'd been saved.

But the calm, quietness of the reunion was interrupted as Sean appeared, shouting, "Down!" and brought his weapon back up.

Chris obeyed the order without question, dropping down quickly and covering Danny's body with his own. He and Danny both flinched at the sounds of Sean and John's guns and waited for the all clear.

"HPD One; we got the last one!" John called into his mike. "Send in the S and R team, we have two officers down at our location..." he continued, moving toward the downed bad guy, assuring that he was dead.

Sean, meanwhile, went to Chris and Danny. "Gains? Edwards?" he called. "You okay?"

"Better now," Chris replied, slowly sitting up, repeating Danny's earlier words.

Sean took a good look at his two friends, saw the injuries they were presenting, the pain they were in and the relief on their faces. "Help's coming, boys," he said, relief on his own face.




Minutes later, a helicopter with the paramedics from the Search and Rescue team landed in the pineapple field behind the four detectives. John waved them over, his impatience showing.

"We've got two down here, and a third still trapped in the chopper," he told them, pointing the way to the downed helicopter.

The paramedic teams split up into three teams of two, each one going to an injured man.

Sean and John stood back, giving the paramedics room, and watched as their coworkers were tended to. A few minutes later, another helicopter landed and Captain Harada and Lieutenant Richards disembarked and headed their way.

"How are they?" Harada asked.

Sean put a hand on Harada's shoulder and moved him a further away from the injured detectives.

"Chris has a gunshot wound to the leg, but I think he seems okay," he began.

"And Danny?" Harada interrupted.

"He's looking pretty bad. Head and back injuries, I think. According to Chris, he was ejected from the chopper," Sean continued.

As if to emphasize Chris's words, the sound of Danny's painful cries as the paramedics maneuvered him onto a backboard drew the officers' attention and they quickly turned around.

"Danny?" Chris called, also hearing his partner's distress.

The paramedics treating Chris had to restrain him, reminding him that Danny was being taken care of and that he needed to let them do their jobs.

"There's another team at the chopper helping the pilot," John told Harada, finishing their report. "They've got to extricate him, though, so it might take a bit."

Harada nodded his head. "You two stay here with the State boys. Document what you need for the reports - follow up on the arrests. I'll go to the hospital with them," he said.

"Sure, boss," John replied.

The men watched as one by one their friends were loaded into the helicopter and shortly after, the other team of paramedics came through the trees carrying a stokes basket and Frank made their way for the helicopter as well.




Several hours later, Sean and John met up with their Captain in the hospital's waiting room.

"Any word, Terry?" Sean asked.

"Mr. Zeto and Gains are both in Recovery," Harada replied. "Like you said, Chris's bullet wound was the worst of his injuries. Doctors say he's stable. Mr. Zeto's wound wasn't nearly as bad as they thought, either. Just a matter of loading him up with antibiotics, the doctor said."

"And Edwards?" John questioned.

"Still in surgery," Harada said. "On top of a concussion, bruised kidney and dislocated shoulder, his hip is fractured, along with three vertebrae. They called in an orthopedic specialist."

"Broken back? Any paralysis?" Sean asked, concerned.

"Thankfully, no. They didn't see any damage to the spinal cord."

"Sounds like he's gonna be one hurting pup, though," John remarked, getting nods of agreement from the other two.

"So tell me what happened at the plantation," Harada asked, wanting a report.

"Well," Sean started, sinking down onto one of the waiting room's couches, "it was obvious that our boys had some good information."

"Unfortunately, this time," John half-joked, sitting down onto a chair opposite Sean.

Sean smiled sadly and continued, "Richards and the State boys got the main players at the gate house. Couple of guys working some old farmer's fields, figured they could grow some of their own crop at the same time. One of them, Stanford Grimes, said the owner never came out to check on them, as long as they brought in his pineapples."

"They been working that field for almost two years, don't know how they managed to keep it a secret for so long," John put in, picking up the story.

"Maybe the changing of the guard, so to speak had something to do with it?" Sean asked. "Our shooters were recent hires, and a little too eager to do their jobs," he continued. "Disgruntled workers are always bad for business."

"Well, it turned out to be a good bust, just not sure the ends justified the means for our side," Harada said.

A woman in green scrubs chose that moment to enter the waiting room. "Captain Harada?" she called.

The three men stood and met her half way across the room.

"I'm Captain Harada," he answered. "How is Detective Edwards?"

"I'm Doctor Mullen, the orthopedist called in. We just got done setting his hip fracture and stabilizing the bone fragments of his vertebrae," she said. Seeing the three men's expectant faces, however, she quickly added, "He's going to be fine." After pausing to let that news sink in, she continued, "He'll be here for a bit, though, he's going to need bed rest for those injuries."

"We understand. Thanks," Sean said for the three of them.




Two days later, the door to Danny's room opened. He watched as Chris was wheeled into the room, the wheelchair pushed by Sean Harrison, and then followed by John Declan and Captain Harada.

"How you holding up, partner?" Chris asked.

"I don't know," Danny replied wistfully. "They've got me drugged to the gills, feeling no pain."

"Now's the time to ask him about all those expense reports, Terry," Sean joked.

"I plead the fifth," Danny retorted.

"The docs say you're doing just fine," Harada spoke up. "Just need to hook you up with some pretty physical therapists to get you back on your feet."

"Sounds like a plan," Danny replied sleepily.

"Sure, he gets the pretty ones, I get Igor," Chris groused.

"How's Frank?" Danny asked.

"He got released yesterday," Chris replied. "He's fine. Said he'd stop by and visit you later, if he got the chance."

Danny nodded. "What about the bad guys? What's happening with them?"

"The DA's having a field day," Sean replied. "Couple of the guys we arrested had some nasty outstanding warrants on them. Including one of the shooters. We've got a solid case. Everything was in plain sight, so to speak, so no search warrant problems."

"Manny Reynolds might even get that deal you offered him," John added with a knowing smirk.

When Danny didn't respond to the jibe, the officers realized that they'd overstayed their visit, that Danny needed some more rest.

"We'll catch you later, Danny," Sean said, gently patting Danny's good leg.

The others said similar goodbyes.

"Chris? Can you stay?" Danny called.

Chris nodded to Sean, who wheeled him back to Danny's bedside.

After the others were gone, Chris asked, "You okay?" concern in his voice.

"Just... lonely, I guess," Danny replied. "Not easy being in one position all the time, staring at the wall or the ceiling..."

"I get it," Chris replied. "How 'bout I have one of the nurses grab a book for us?"




Later that day, Chris still sat in his wheelchair at Danny's bedside, reading a book, his right leg propped up on the edge of the bed. He looked up as the door to the room opened and Frank Zeto entered, walking with a cane.

"How's he doing?" Frank asked.

"To quote Danny, 'drugged to the gills and feeling no pain,'" Chris answered.

"I gotta tell you, I'm real sorry for what happened," Frank began, not taking the seat, but continuing to stand by the door. "I never should've swung back."

"It's not your fault, Frank," Chris countered. "You had no way of knowing what would happen. Hell, I gotta give you credit for the way you handled that bird - we're all still alive, if not kicking."

"He's right, Frank," Danny agreed, opening his eyes and joining conversation. "And, we're even now."

Frank was quiet for a few minutes, and Chris's gaze went back and forth between the two men, still wondering what the connection was between the two. He watched then, as Frank nodded his head.

"You're good boys. Take care of each other," Frank said. Then he turned and limped out of the room.

"So what's the scoop with him?" Chris asked after a minute or two.

When Danny didn't answer, Chris figured he didn't want to answer or had fallen back asleep. He opened his book again and just started to read when Danny spoke up.

"He was kinda my stepfather for about a year or so," he said. "Then he ran out on my mom and me. I was about fifteen. My mom never got over it."

"And you found him here by accident?" Chris asked.

"Maybe," Danny replied quietly.

"He ever tell you why he left?"

"His own kids needed him, he said. He'd never told us about them. Guess he was still married when he and my mom hooked up," Danny explained.

Chris nodded and after a few more minutes, realized that Danny had gone back to sleep. He opened his book once more.

THE END
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