The Saint Augusta Islands lie roughly halfway between Los Angeles and Hawaii. The islands comprise of three land masses in an almost equilateral triangle, with no island more than half a mile from its neighbours. They do not show on any map although from time to time they appear as uninteresting specks on the horizon of a cobalt blue sea when a cruise ships strays from its intended course. Away from any major shipping lanes and not directly below any commercial flight path, they exist in stunning solitary tranquillity. During the second world war the largest and most southerly of the group was used briefly as a watching post by the United States Navy, monitoring the Japanese Pacific campaign. This larger island, Grand Augusta, is four miles east to west and just over two miles, north to south. The other two islands are half this size. One of the small islands has lush vegetation, kept green by fresh water that flows from the centre of a long extinct volcano - the volcano that in the primeval mists of time threw the islands up when the Pacific Ocean was torn out of the Earth. There is a variety of wildlife on the island, some of which was recorded by Captain Cook, but the island has remained completely unspoilt by man. The smallest island is not much more than a barren lump of rock. Grand Augusta is has had a number of changes made to it since the Navy left it at the end of the war.
Tyler King bought the islands in 1964 and lost no time transforming Grand Augusta into his personal vision of paradise. When he first walked along the golden beach that lies along the West coast, protected by an unspoiled coral reef a hundred yards out, he may well have felt that he already found paradise. There was just room along the other side of the island to build a landing strip for light aircraft, and this was the first project that he set in motion. When the contractors arrived by sea and began the work they discovered the remains of long forgotten bulldozers in the jungle an clear evidence of a wartime start with the same intention. Nobody knew why it had never been completed and nobody cared. Once the airstrip was in place, Tyler had the means to fly in almost anything he needed, but when heavy plant was required it still came by sea.
Tyler set about building his dream with a will. He thought about running a pipeline over from the freshwater supply of the other island, but once he had been there he did not want to change a thing. There was freshwater on Grand Augusta too, but it was not in an easy place and although he had major plans for his Paradise, he still wanted to keep as much as possible, just as it was. In the end a water desalination plant was built near to the runway, and a pipeline laid across the island. His main house complex was built by creating a semicircular clearing in the jungle that opened out to the middle of the beach, and that land clearance, apart from the runway which took a small strip out of the jungle and a road to link the runway to the house, were the only major changes that he made. The short road, a shade under two miles was the only road on the island.
The main house was built on three levels. The lower level was fronted by glass doors that could be slid open electrically to allow the Pacific air into the house, or sealed out when the air conditioner and climate control system kept the inside at any levels desired. The house was two hundred feet long and almost one hundred feet deep. As far as possible everything inside was open plan space. The floors were all made from solid teak that had to be shipped in. The bathrooms and showers were marble. Every conceivable luxury had been built into the place that Tyler planned to use to keep an eye on his business empire as well as to be able to relax in the peace of the beautiful setting. At one end of the island a long jetty was constructed, and then he broke his rule of no more change to create a personal marina around the jetty. Three more smaller houses were built on the section of land that he had reclaimed, to be used by his guests perhaps - he had not really decided yet. Over by the runway, he had one more house built which was large but modest compared to the luxury that he enjoyed. That house was for a small security staff that he knew he would need, in the very rare event of unwanted visitors - the job of security was to ensure that there were none.
It took three years to complete everything Tyler wanted. The launching of two satellites during the year in which the building work was completed enabled Tyler, with his vast wealth, to have his study connected into the infra-structure of his business by satellite communications. His must have been the only place in the world at that time where a man could go to work wearing nothing but a pair of shorts with a view out to the Pacific Ocean, and yet have any office or executive just a push button away. It was just before the dawn of the Computer revolution that would make such an outlandish idea, the easiest thing in the world to achieve. When Tyler married Caroline Howden the following year, which was 1968, he took her to Grand Augusta for their honeymoon. They had both wanted children desperately. It would be unkind to say that Tyler only wanted an heir because it was the only way his rambling conglomerate could not be broken up. He wanted a family just as much as Caroline, wanted a son that he could give so much to. It was only when they discovered the reason that, after two years there had been no hint of a pregnancy, that he had put his plan into place, the plan that only required him to hear the word ‘Genesis'. Finding such a perfect match a year later was unexpected, but they were both ecstatic. They had flown to the private clinic in Switzerland to collect their son, and from there had come here, to Grand Augusta. It was the last week of August, 1971.
Tyler sat on the bare wooden floor, the glass doors opened, just feeling the pleasure of the cool sea breeze wafting over his face and watching the waves break over the coral reef below. He had been fishing earlier off some rocks at the end of the beach and now his fishing rod was leaning up against the side of the house, where he usually left it. Looking down to the virgin golden sand it seemed almost a crime to him that he would shortly run across it to chase rainbow coloured fish in the crystal clear water. He heard the baby crying and stood up to go and investigate. He found Caroline holding Nathan and just getting settled to feed him again with a bottle. Caroline looked radiant as she fed the baby, as if she had really given birth to the child herself and Tyler stood for a while just watching them until she felt that strange sensation of being watched and turned her head to smile up at him.
Tyler had hired an elderly couple from Hawaii who acted as housekeeper, cook and handyman. They had no children and were happy to live in luxury on the island, looking after Mister and Mrs Tyler when they visited. He told them that while he and his wife were away on their trip he was going to shut down the island but that he would pay then as usual until his return. In addition he put them up in a comfortable house that he purchased back on Hawaii. For the old couple it was like a paid holiday and they were not complaining. As for the house, Tyler knew he would be able to sell it again easily, and make a profit on the deal too, when the time came. He made a similar arrangement with his security people, knowing he took a small risk in doing so, but so far there had been hardly any attempted visits to the island - it was a small risk he had to take.
The first few months alone on the island were as idyllic as Tyler had hoped it would be. Once a week and at enormous cost, a personal physician was flown to the island to ensure that the baby was well. The cost meant nothing to Tyler. By the time their first Christmas came, Caroline had to admit that much as she loved their hideaway, she would be glad when they could go back and ‘rejoin the mad world', as she put it. So far they had been able to put off the proud grandparents with carefully contrived press releases that had the happy couple popping up briefly all over the world. No sooner had the press rushed to one country to try and secure the all important exclusive than somehow, they seemed to be somewhere else. Some of the more investigative journalists began to smell a rat but they found nothing, they just had a well trained hunch that maybe all was not as it seemed. One highly speculative article was printed, and a viscous campaign by Tyler's awesome legal team put the whole newspaper out of business. The lesson was not lost on the other newsmen.
As far as the watching world was concerned, Caroline had been four months pregnant at the start of their ‘world tour'. Many pundits had dug out old coverage of the couple and had convinced themselves and their viewers that they could see the early tell-tale signs of her pregnancy. By December, Nathan was four months old but Caroline should have been giving birth at any time. They decided to make Nathan's birthday as soon as was possible, a little early would be fine, because it would then be easier to pass of the baby when at last the world saw him, despite the truth that he would seem a little advanced in his development. They decided to make his ‘birthday', December 2nd, which allowed them to claim that the baby was two weeks early. On that day in 1971 a picture was released that had in fact been taken in Switzerland and Nathan became a reality. The press release went on to say that Mister and Mrs Tyler were taking a long break on their private island and would return to America in the late summer. Their own physician (who was handsomely rewarded for his troubles) gave an interview at which he described the delivery that he had made and held a small test tube of blood that he had taken from the infant. Independent analysis confirmed that it did indeed come from a new born child and that the blood group was that rare type shared by Tyler and Caroline King. The blood had been obtained at the clinic with a few days of the baby's birth and stored until needed.
Thanks to the satellite communications link, Caroline was able to chat to her parents almost whenever she liked. On Christmas day she called them and said how sad she was that she could not be with them this year, but next year she promised to bring young Nathan, which thrilled them. Nathan was a bit of a grumpy child at times but they loved him and the odd sleepless night was a small price to pay for their son. The first Christmas for Tyler King and his family took place on his Pacific paradise. By April they decided that they could bring back the staff from Hawaii. When they arrived back at the island, the housekeeper and her husband fell in love with the young master and complimented Caroline over the baby's growth, and it was obvious from everything that they said that they had no suspicions at all that anything other than Caroline's natural birth of a son had taken place. It was a small triumph but another step forward for the child who would one day, fool the world.
Not long after the return of the housekeeper, Tyler was again sitting on his favourite spot, just gazing out to sea. He thought that although it would be good to get back to the ‘real world' again, he could never tire of this place and no sooner had he left it than he was sure that he would want to return. He saw a white dot on the horizon. From time to time he would watch a ship sail away, far in the distance and once a fishing boat had come within a few miles of his beach until his security team chased it away. The spot seemed to be moving very quickly, growing bigger as every second passed. Concerned now that he could almost make out the shape of a sleek twin hulled motor boat, he went back inside and called his security. The phone was still ringing unanswered as he heard the first note of the motor boat's twin outboard motors. His hunch for trouble had sealed many a difficult deal and had avoided as many more that would have been disastrous.
His father, Theodore King, had fought right through the second world war, landing at Anzio and fighting on all the way to Berlin. He was dead now from Cancer, but he had been one tough US Marine and he made damn sure that his son was every bit as tough as he was.
As soon as he could walk, Theodore started to teach his son field craft, how to hunt animals armed with only a knife, how to shoot, fish, and ride a horse. He raised a high school athlete with an equally sharp mind, and the training of the United States Marine Corps. There was more than a touch of the old Wild west in there too, maybe some genes from Joseph King whose son Travis was gunned down in Tombstone had been passed down through the generations.
"Caroline, take Nathan and get into the storm cellar, NOW!", he shouted as he bounded into the room. The storm cellar was a well advised precaution because the one thing they could not fight were the violent hurricanes that swept that part of the Pacific - the serpent in their garden of Eden. So far they had only been touched once, and the damage had been light. "What is it ?", cried Caroline in alarm.
"Maybe nothing, but something doesn't look right. Now please, get in the cellar!", he said urgently, and she was gone.
The first of the machine guns opened up as soon as the motor boat reached the reef. The bullets sprayed along the seafront and the glass doors fell down in showers of glass shards. The cook and her husband were safe for the time being, with Caroline in the storm cellar. Tyler risked a look and from the appearance of the men guessed they were modern day pirates that still operate on remote oceans. He knew these men would leave nobody alive and he could guess why he could not raise his security. He had picked up an automatic shotgun that he used to shoot clay pigeons, and his shorts pockets were crammed with spare cartridges. He hoped they would try to enter the shallow lagoon and so become grounded but they seemed to know the lay of the land well, as if they had scouted it first.
The white twin-hull was bobbing gently on the swell of the waves beyond the reef and its motors were emitting a low throbbing noise as they idled. One man stood in the boat, in control of the engines and five other men were wading through the surf to the beach. One of them fired another long burst at the upper levels and laughed gleefully as window after window shattered and fell. Tyler was no longer inside the house, he had left by the back and was now at one side of the cleared area. The jungle had not taken long to try and reclaim the compound and grew right up to the chain link fence that had been erected more with a view to marking out the compound than keeping out any strange visitors. The wildlife on the island was mainly colourful birds, a colony of monkeys that would steal anything they could find and other small animals. There were some wild pigs at the northern end but they tended to stay there and Tyler had no desire to kill them for no reason. The five men had reached the beach now and stood looking at the open house. They had never seen a house the size of this one before and expected to find a great deal worth stealing, so they spread out now, right across the frontage of the house.
Tyler had a difficult choice. The man on the extreme right was only a few feet away from where he lay hidden and with each step he was getting closer. He could kill him with ease or he could shoot his legs and cripple him, or should he try to take him silently ? Tyler slipped back a few feet into the dense jungle, along the side of the house and his target moved out of sight of the others, also along the side. They were being quite casual in their approach making no attempt at stealth as if contemptuous of their prey. Tyler crept around behind the man and clubbed him hard and viscously with the butt of his shotgun. The man went down without a sound and Tyler could see blood pumping from the blow that had cracked his skull open. Dead or alive, whatever, he was out of the game. The man had a hunting knife with a heavy razor sharp serrated blade in a scabbard on his waist. Tyler took the knife and ran to the back of the house as fast as he dared, then dodged his way to the far end where he expected another man to appear. There were more gun shots and bursts of machine gun fire as the middle three men went into the house and began shooting at random. It was easy for them to see that the huge open space was empty but they still riddled the furniture with gunfire. The noise helped Tyler as he moved into position, the shotgun raised ready.
The man came around the corner exactly as Tyler had expected. His mouth opened in alarm and he tried to raise his weapon but even as he did so the butt of Tyler's shotgun was buried in his mouth, cutting off his cry. Several teeth fell out of the bloody hole that had been his mouth, and he fell to the ground. The blow had not knocked him out and he made a low groaning sound so Tyler brought his gun down again hard. This time he did not move and was silent. The butt of the shotgun was bloody and there were bits of skin stuck to it. Now there were three men left, in the house. It was only a matter of time before they found the cellar. Tyler picked up the man's machine gun, cursing himself that he had not recovered the other man's weapon too, and began to move away, like his father had taught him. Strike, then move.
He could see the other three men moving around inside the house but so far they had ignored the door to the cellar. He had to draw them outside the house. When they realised that they had lost two men they would become very careful. Tyler ran back into the jungle and circled around once more to where he had taken out the first man. His fishing rod was still there and he unclipped the reel, cutting the line free with the knife he had taken. He moved back, staying hidden in the undergrowth and found a suitable tree root into which he wedged the shotgun. Tyler was not too concerned where it fired because it was to be a distraction, but if it hit one of them so much the better, so he positioned it as best as he could. The next part was the most dangerous. Having tied the line to the trigger of the gun, he let it out and crawled on his belly, just the way his father had showed him that the Marines did, all the way across from the jungle to the side of one of the smaller guest houses. From there he had a fairly good view of the middle section of the main house. He hoped the men inside would react in the way that he expected.
Just then one of the men opened a sliding glass door - the back of the house was similar to the front so that all the doors could be opened giving an illusion that the top of the house floated on air. The man called out, "Jose? ...Estoban ?", then waited a few seconds before he repeated it, "Jose ?...Estoban ? Where are you ?" He turned back and Tyler reasoned that he was the leader because he shouted something at the other two men. Two men stepped warily out of the back. Both held their guns ready and looked nervous, darting their eyes this way and that. One of then loosed a few rounds at the trees and a monkey scampered away, screeching loudly. Tyler waited until they had taken a few more steps. So far they had stayed together, back to back, each covering the other with a wide arc of fire. Tyler pulled on the line and the shotgun fired. Both men swung around and fired on full automatic at the source of the noise. Their murderous blast shredded the leaves and tore branches from the trees. A flock of Birds rose up into the air and that was when Tyler fired, a controlled burst of five rounds to each man. His shots entered the back of one man, and exited his chest having destroyed his heart. The second man was only slightly luckier because only three rounds hit him and all missed his heart but they punctured both his lungs and he collapsed coughing up red blood. Then it was quiet again save for the screeching monkeys.
The glass slid back but this time nobody came out. Tyler felt sick. The man he took as the leader was standing there, but he had found the storm cellar. His weapon hung casually around his neck but he knew that Tyler would not fire at him because his hand was in the hair of his wife, who was still holding baby Nathan.
"Come out and I will not hurt her!", yelled the man into the jungle.
"What have you done with Mister and Mrs Wekonu ?"
"You mean the old people ? They live, for now. Maybe I kill them first, or maybe your baby, no ?"
"How do I know I can trust you ?!
"That you do not know, but I will count to five and then you can trust me to cut your baby's throat".
"Okay, you win. I'm coming in !", shouted Tyler, standing up and throwing his machine gun forward so that the man could see that he was unarmed, just wearing a pair of shorts whose pockets were empty.
"Come forward slowly", said the pirate, "try to trick me and they all die", he said pushing his wife away now. Tyler could see that the Wekonus were sitting down on the floor, a few feet away which was a bonus, he thought. His wife had been sent to join them and now the pirate trained his gun on him, making sidelong glances at his hostages. As Tyler walked forward he was trying to calculate timing because he knew he had only one chance. The moment he made his move he knew that the killer in his house would not hesitate. He was now less than ten feet away and could get no closer - he had to do it now. The pirate took one more look at his captives, turned his head to do so and even as his head turned, Tyler reached for the knife that he had stuck painfully down the back of his shorts. Its blade was so sharp that it had cut him even as he hid it there, but he had no time for pain now and his hand came up in one graceful arc as he released the blade - exactly the same throw he had used to fell his first Deer with his father. The aim was a touch too high and the blade went straight into the man's neck. He squeezed the trigger of his gun that was pointing at Tyler, but Tyler expected that and was no longer there, and then he dropped the weapon which was still firing, and collapsed with a final death rattle of a gurgle, to the blood soaked floor.
There was still one more man in the boat beyond the reef. If he escaped to bring others...Tyler could see that everybody was safe. He knew that he could never swim out to the reef without being spotted and that it was too far away for an accurate shot with the weapons that he had. How was he going to get to him ? his own boat was moored across the island and by the time he got to it then the man out there was sure to have become suspicious that he had not yet heard from his friends. The pirates had carried no radios so he could not try to trick the man ashore. He had only one idea, a long shot but it was all he could think of. Tyler went into the house and told them that it would soon be over, just stay out of sight, he said. He dragged the man he had just killed across the floor, leaving a long bloody smear on the polished timber. When he got to the wide open frontage he pulled the man upright and held him as best he could, as if standing. All he needed to do was to get the man on the twin-hull to come halfway across the lagoon - that would be close enough for the machine gun that he rested on the floor behind him. Tyler raised the dead man's arm and shouted "Hey!", in as vague and distorted voice as he could. At that distance the man in the boat would not be able to identify both of the men but he might pick up on the yellow (and now bloodstained) shirt of the leader. He yelled again and this time the man in the boat looked around and Tyler could see him concentrating on the beach - if he had binoculars then Tyler was in real trouble.
The man in the boat seemed to be thinking about what to do. All he could see was two men, one of whom looked like the Boss. Suddenly a single shot rang out. Even from that distance Tyler could see the head of the man in the boat snap back in a misty cloud of red. He fell onto the throttle lever and the twin hull hurtled off across the ocean. The direction it was heading for was over two thousand miles of empty sea, the tanks would run dry long before the craft reached any land and sea birds would pick the bones clean. A man staggered from the jungle holding a rifle fitted with telescopic sights. It was Tyler's security chief from across the island. There was blood on his shirt and his face was pale. Tyler ran to the man.
"Carlos. What happened?", he said helping the man along, "we better get you to the house and fix you up. Are you hit bad ?"
"Senor Tyler, the men...they came this morning at dawn. All the others are dead. They took all our guns but they miss one - it was in the Jeep. They thought they killed me too but I think the bullet went right through me. When I came too, I got the shark rifle and came over to see if you were all okay."
"It was a good shot Carlos, now take it easy."
"The others Senor...?"
"They're all dead, don't worry about them."
"You did a good job then."
"And you too Carlos, just in time. I guess we will have to call the Police in now, and we need to get you to a hospital. I am very sorry about the others but I won't let it happen again. You can depend on that."
"Okay Senor King. I still got a job ?", he asked with a worried expression.
Tyler smiled at Carlos who he could see was in great pain, "yeah, you still got a job Carlos, no need to worry about that. As soon as you feel up to it I need you to get me some more men, a lot more very special men, nobody else is going to die here unless I say so", then he went back inside the house to hug his wife and his son. She was a brave woman, Caroline, who smiled and hugged him back. "We're okay now", he said.
Feathers from the destroyed cushions floated in the air which was tainted with the smell of gunfire and the coppery smell of blood. The Wekonus were already cleaning the ugly red stains from the floor.