The unavoidable visit by the Police was an unwelcome complication for Tyler. It would be another test of their deception over the age of their son. After two or three years of age a few months are easy to cover up but in the first year or two the changes in a baby's development are profound. Still, if the Police went away happy, and having seen his son too, then that would all help fool to everybody else. A little carefully handled press at this stage could be very beneficial. Anyway, he really had no choice so he turned on his radio and made the call.
Five hours after Tyler radioed the emergency, a twin engined Cessna touched down on the runway. Tyler's Doctor was the only passenger. Tyler had spotted the aircraft long before it radioed its identification to the island and so he was waiting to meet it, having drive back across the island in the Jeep that Carlos had used. It only took a few minutes to cover the two miles and since the Jeep was the only vehicle on the island there was no need to worry about traffic. When Tyler got to the runway he was sickened by the bullet scars he found on the walls of the house and the pools of blood that were drying in the sun. He found the bodies of his other three slaughtered guards, laying amongst a number of spent cartridge cases so clearly they had at least put up a fight. Already they were beginning to putrefy and smell due to the tropical heat. He found some old sacking to cover them with, until the Police arrived. The men he knew, had no family. They were loners, soldiers of fortune. Usually one of them was away taking a break in Honolulu or Los Angeles, but this time, unluckily, they were all on the island. There was nobody to miss them, nobody to mourn them, which Tyler thought was sad - they had been good men, paid well too, in his employ, but not good enough so it seemed.
"You were lucky Carlos, the bullet passed right through. You will be okay here so long as you can rest until it heals. I'll check up on you when I call next week", the Doctor said as he finished dressing Carlos's shoulder.
"Thanks Simon", Tyler said to the Doctor.
"I left as soon as I got your message. When are you expecting the Police ?"
"I got the impression that they were in no real hurry. I told them what happened here and they asked if any of us was injured, so I told them about Carlos and that I was going to call you. They said, okay, they would be over." He shrugged his shoulders, "who knows ?"
"Would you like me to stay a while, for your son, if they ask any questions ? Its no problem for me ?"
"No, thanks for the offer but I can handle them".
The Doctor looked around the still damaged, but cleaned up living area. He had already seen the five bodies now covered with a tarpaulin at the side of the house, "yes Tyler, I think you can", he smiled, "make sure that Carlos rests that arm of his and he will be fine. I'll see you next week then."
"Okay Doc, I'll run you over to the airfield in the Jeep", said Tyler leading the way to the Jeep, and they drove off.
The Police did not arrive until the following morning, arriving in a Piper Chieftain that had been hurriedly modified with an extra fuel tank. Tyler had stayed awake for most of the night, anxious in case there were other pirates who might come in search of their missing comrades. There was a Police Lieutenant and a sergeant in addition to the pilot. The sergeant was a stereotype Hawaiian, a big man with rounded features and a ready smile wearing a uniform that was straining in places across his ample belly. He had curly black well oiled hair. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up revealing heavily built forearms, and his general build was like that of somebody who had long ago pushed a lot of weights, but had given up the regime allowing hard muscle to turn into fat. The Lieutenant was in stark contrast. As tall as his sergeant, the Lieutenant was a very slim man wearing an immaculate uniform. He had a sharp pointed nose underneath of which a pencil moustache ran the width of his lip, precisely trimmed to that length. Despite his normal location of Hawaii, the Lieutenant showed almost no sign at all of a tan, and he looked almost pasty in complexion alongside Tyler and the native Hawaiian sergeant.
"Mister King?", the Lieutenant questioned in an American mid-West accent, as Tyler offered his hand.
"Tyler King, call me Tyler", he replied, "my home is across the island so if you would like to hop in the Jeep I'll take you over."
"Shortly Mister King, shortly." The Lieutenant had cast an observant eye around as soon as he got out of the aircraft and walked over to the sacking that barely concealed the dead men. He kicked it aside with his foot and looked down at them for a few seconds, his face impassive. "Hmm. These men were in your employ ?", he said to Tyler.
"Yes, I am afraid so. They were to keep away people like news reporters, tourists, that sort of thing. We never expected this."
"A very sad business. Have you made contact with their families yet ?"
"None of them had anybody to contact, or at least when they were employed they all declined to offer a ‘next-of-kin'".
"Did you not think that strange ?"
"Not really, no. They were soldiers of fortune, mercenaries if you like. I paid well, as long as they did their job..." He left the sentence unfinished.
"Apparently they were not very good soldiers."
"Maybe, maybe not. We will never know what happened here. They were certainly not armed as soldiers. They had a few rifles for Sharks, a couple of shotguns and some hand guns. Against an assault by five or six men armed with machine guns and with total surprise. What chance would they have ?"
"Indeed. So your men were not required to maintain a vigilant guard at night ?"
"Not by contract, no. Keep an eye open, check now and again yes, but no regular watch or patrol. I mean, its a thousand miles to anywhere from here. Its not as if we get much passing traffic. They had an easy job, but they should not have died for it."
"No, of course not. Okay, I am satisfied with what I can see here. Let us go to your house please Mister King." So far the sergeant had said nothing. He placed the sacking back over the bodies before he climbed into the Jeep.
As Tyler emerged from the jungle road he saw the outline of a boat just below the horizon. "It looks like we may be in for some more company Lieutenant", he said grimly, thinking that the pirates were a part of a much larger outfit that were now approaching.
"Its okay Mister King, that will be the Police boat that set out before me - they made good time. You know, a thousand miles is a long way for help". He sounded almost reproachful, annoyed at having to make the journey.
"They did a lot of damage to your beautiful home", said the Lieutenant as he surveyed the bullet marked walls, the holes in the furniture which was still in use until it could be replaced, and the remains of the glass windows. " There is no blood in here ?"
"Yes, I'm sorry about that - it has been cleaned up".
"Hmm, that could have been useful evidence. Please show me the bodies."
They were smelling quite badly now after a tropical night on the beach but the Lieutenant did not seem to notice. He looked at each man carefully, spending longer over the man Tyler had killed with his knife. "Well Mister King, perhaps I should be thanking you", he said and smiled for the first time. "These men are well known to us. They have been raiding boats and homes around the Pacific for the past year. They have killed many people and taken their boats, only to sink them later. Always they have managed to be one step ahead of us. As I said before, this ocean is a very big place to hide in. It seems they made a very big mistake in coming here."
"Do you think they were after my son ?"
"Ah yes, your son. I read about that, congratulations Mister King. May I see him ?"
"Of course Lieutenant, but I asked, do you think they were after him ?"
"I very much doubt it. They have never tried to obtain a ransom before. These men just kill, and rape too, take what they can and move on. You saved the courts a lot of time and money. Sergeant!", he called his man, "checkout around the perimeter fence in case anything was dropped there. Now, Mister King, I am not really interested on what he finds, I just need a word or two in private. Nobody is going to miss these animals. There were six in all though. Did one escape ?"
"One stayed on their boat, a twin hull. Carlos shot him and the boat took off. By now he will be adrift about 300 miles due South, if his fuel lasted that long."
"But dead ?"
"Yes, I am sure of that."
"Excellent. If you have on objections I would prefer to, as you might say, lose the bodies - the Sharks will dine well today. There is no reason to take this matter any further."
"That's fine by me. What about my men though, they deserve a decent burial, not as Shark food."
"The boat will take them back and I will deal with that. As far as anybody knows they are three more victims of these pirates - there have been many such victims, but there will be no more, I suspect."
"Of course, I will pay any costs involved. Just bill me."
"Thank you. My budget is bad enough as it is. Tell me Mister King, I am curious. How did you manage to kill five men who were themselves, ruthless killers ?"
"My father. He was a Marine. He taught me everything he knew and now I thank God that he did. I look forward to teaching my son too."
"Marines eh? My father was Airborne. Yes, your son, I would like to see him ?"
"I'll get my wife."
The sergeant returned, "I found nothing Sir", he said.
"No matter. You had better go and help the men from the boat load the bodies."
"The ones from the airfield ?", he queried.
"I hope they have some body bags on board because those three are going back in the plane with us."
"Okay Sir, I'll sort it out."
Just then Caroline appeared with baby Nathan. She held him in a loose covering such that the folds of the cloth served to hide most of his body.
"What is his name, Mrs King ?"
"He looks a very healthy big boy. Congratulations again. I am sorry you have had to suffer so much distress. Your husband is one very tough guy. You have been very lucky, but there are no more of the, you can be sure of that. It was just one gang whose luck ran out here".
"Thank you Lieutenant. Will you and your men all please eat with us ? We have three guest houses, and you are welcome to stay over, if you like."
"That is very gracious of you Mrs King. We would be delighted to join you for a meal, but alas we cannot stay on this beautiful island of yours. We have to, err...the bodies...you understand ?"
"Oh yes, of course. I never thought."
"No matter. I will tell the men to come ashore."
The Wekonus cooked a fairly simple meal of chicken and rice flavoured with spices as only they seemed to know how. Tyler offered cold beers and the Lieutenant who at first had seemed to be a very impersonal ‘by the rule book' policeman allowed each man one ice cold beer each. The gesture was very welcome but the Lieutenant had not overlooked the grisly task they had just completed - there were no bodies to be seen either on the beach or the runway. The pilot from the plane had joined them but refused the beer. Tyler had made the Police boat moor at his jetty so that every man on board could join them. They all took a look at baby Nathan and nobody made any undue comment about his size, after asking how old he was. After all, born into the lap of luxury, now living on an island paradise with his own Doctor who visited every week, of course he would be well developed. Tyler and Caroline were almost sad when they all had to go.
The Lieutenant and the sergeant left in the Piper, taking the three bodies of the security team with them. Despite the fact that they had been carefully placed inside sealed body-bags, it was still a gruesome ride for them all the way back to Hawaii with the corpses. After an hour of so the pilot opened a window because they all began to smell the decaying flesh through the toughened black plastic bags. It was not one of the Lieutenant's more memorable flights. The Police boat would take much longer to return. First it set off in the direction that Tyler had told then the twin-hull had gone. After a few hours they received a call from a civilian pilot that he had spotted such a craft, apparently adrift on the seas. They set course for the location that the pilot had given them and found the twin hull with its now grisly passenger. Seabirds had already started to feast. The man's eyes were gone, just bloody red sockets in a face from which strips of flesh had been torn off by sharp beaks. One of the policemen vomited at the sight. They weighted the body to ensure it would sink and then sank the craft also. That done the weighted body-bags of the other five pirates were dumped without ceremony, into the sea. Only then did the boat set course for Hawaii.
Tyler and Caroline were now alone on the island. They had the Wekonus and Carlos still there, but no other people, and there was a great deal that needed to be done. Within twenty-four hours, four men arrived on the island. They were all dressed in tropical combat uniforms, devoid of any insignia. Each man was well muscled, lean and fit looking with close cropped hair and eyes hidden behind dark glasses. They each carried an automatic weapon and around their waists a webbing belt held a pistol and a fighting knife of the style favoured by the elite fighting units of the US military. These men were everything that they looked - bodyguards of the very best (and most expensive) type available. After a brief introduction to Tyler they disappeared, four guardian angels that were out there, somewhere. Tyler had brought them in as a stop-gap until he could recruit the team he was planning. Men like that would not stay long on a place as quiet as his island; he had contracted them for six weeks, and six weeks it would be.
The arrival of the bodyguards was the first time that Tyler felt he could really relax again, and their invisible presence made Caroline feel much safer. Now Tyler could get down to the business of getting his house repaired and sorting out a whole new security system. He knew that the heavy custom made glass panels would have to be manufactured and shipped out before a crew could install them. There was enough teak left in a storage container to repair the flooring. After calling some of the best experts in the business and listening to their advice, Tyler opted to have a surveillance radar station built on the highest point of his island. Of course, that would mean another road too and Tyler hated to make such big changes, but if it was a matter of his family's safety, then nothing was too much, and the cost was of no concern. Once he set the wheels in motion for that project he turned back to his immediate security needs. He had a long talk with one of the temporary bodyguards who put him in touch with a friend of his in San Francisco. After talking to him Tyler felt a lot better about things. The man in San Francisco agreed to recruit twelve men for Tyler - he assured him that he would personally vet each one, test them even if he had any doubts. The deal was simple, eight men on the island at all times and four away on leave, rotating in a pattern the whole year round. The pay would be high, higher than might be expected for an assignment that could become boring after a while, but it was the only way that the best in the business would ever accept the job. With that in hand all Tyler could do was plan and wait. No news of the incident was allowed to leak out to the press, although some pictures of Caroline and Nathan on the beach were published because Tyler wanted them to be.
Another month passed before the first of a great deal of activity began on the island. Tyler had amused himself by fixing up the teak floor and was quite pleased with his handiwork. Caroline was growing more and more restless - she loved the place as much as Tyler, but she had been there ten months now and she was itching to get back to ‘The Real World'. The first people to arrive was a complete project team to build the radar station. This team would hack another road out of the jungle, right to the very top of its highest peak, and there they would construct the building that would house the system. Everything they needed had come with them on the boat. Caroline perked up with their arrival because there were so many new faces to talk to and she got quite interested in the whole thing. Nathan had already found his feet and was tottering around in the house or on the beach when she took him outside. No sooner had the team started work than the glass arrived for the house. With so much happening now, and all of it on schedule too, Tyler promised they would leave the island by the end of July which pleased Caroline because now she had a time to look forward too.
In the second week of May the new twelve man security team arrived. By then Carlos was completely recovered. The man from San Francisco had not let Tyler down. Two of the team were ex-Delta Force, and all of the men looked as if they came from the same mould as the four already there. Their arrival meant an end to the temporary post and the four bodyguards left with the plane that had just arrived, as soon as it had refuelled. The new team posed one small problem for Tyler because he could see immediately that Carlos could never fit in with men like these, but he was reluctant to let him go, especially after what he had done when he was wounded - it would be a betrayal, he thought. Fortunately, the new radar station helped to solve his dilemma.
The building that was to house the base station had been shipped in pre-fabricated form. As soon as a trail had been cleared from the road to the location at the top of the hill on the eastern end of the island, the building parts were moved into position. While the track was widened and turned into a road, the radar building was assembled. Carlos pitched in and helped in this task, which turned out to be quite straightforward - rather like assembling a very well built garden shed since everything was designed to be bolted together. Once the shell of the building had been erected, windows and a door were fitted, and then finally the exterior was covered with a very durable PVC cladding. By the time the building was completed the road up the hill was ready for use too, and so the heavy radar system could be moved into place. Two technicians who arrived later, supervised this part of the operation. They spent some time setting up and testing the equipment which was so designed that an operational radius could be selected, and the system could generate an alarm signal if anything passed that limit. The alarm was sent by wire to the security team at the runway and to the main house. In addition, one of the guest houses had been given over to security and the alarm fed this house too.
Carlos showed great interest in the radar system which in 1972 was cutting-edge, but was a system conceived originally in the late 1960's. This was the era of the transistor, the pre-dawn of micro-chips and a decade before the first microprocessor that led directly to the home computer revolution that changed the world. Technology of this kind despite being as advanced as science was at that time, was nowhere near as reliable and dependable as all the things taken for granted in the modern world. Maintenance of the moving parts of the radar system would be needed at regular intervals and there were dozens of checks needed to be made on the system itself. Many spare units had been shipped in - whole assemblies that could be changed in need be, and so Carlos agreed readily to take on the challenge. It turned out that his interest stemmed from his past when he had once worked as an electrician and at that time, developed a hobby with amateur radio. That all took a back seat when he did his Military service in his home country, and it was there that he learned the skills he later used as a bodyguard. The only reason he took up bodyguard and security work was the very high pay rates he could earn, hoping to save enough to one day start his own electrical business. It never worked out for him that was because he grew more and more accustomed to his higher standard of living, and was still in the security business fifteen years later.
The new security team were deadly serious about their business. All twelve men embarked on an immediate and very rigorous training plan. The first thing they did was to create a fearsome assault course in the jungle that stretched the whole length of the runway. There were rope bridges, deep pits and tunnels, the course purposely crossed some swampy marshy ground. It wove in and out of the jungle and was easily three times longer than the straight line length of the runway. This was a course designed to test men to the very limit and beyond, yet the very men it was to test were the same men who designed and built it with an almost masochistic zeal. Tyler gave it a try when it had been completed and although he impressed the team by his finishing the course, his time was more than twice the time they took to cover it.
In some respects these so capable men gave the impression that they lived to be tested. No content with their constant training on the island they also developed a habit of swimming races to the other green island, covering the distance in times that Tyler had no hope of matching, although he tried frequently. The men were simply the best at what they did, but Tyler was that kind of person that had to excel at everything. Time and again he took them on, learning more skills than he ever dreamed he was lacking and a strong camaraderie developed between him and his employees. Try as he might he could never beat them, although once when target shooting he did manage to make the best score - but that was the one and only time he did. They had a much bigger celebration that night over his shooting and far too many beers got drunk. Tyler took his target with the tight group of hits in the bulls-eye that could be covered with a quarter and once he had got it framed, he hung it proudly on the wall of the main house.
The team spent hours on their assault course and on target practice, and quite often Tyler joined in with them. The men practised all kinds of different scenarios for attack on the island with some of the men acting as the aggressors. By the time they had finished and ‘relaxed' to a daily routine of work-outs and general readiness checks, Tyler was very impressed with the men he had whom he could see were earning every penny that he was paying them. At this point four of the men were flown out. From then on the eight men remaining would alternate day and night cover, with the night shift men taking turns so that each man could get some sleep. These highly trained men regarded six hours sleep in any one day as luxury and had no problem providing an awesome level of security. Every two weeks the four men who were off island were rotated. With Carlos more or less assigned to looking after the radar station, the security of the island had never been better.
The weeks slipped by without event. All the crews that had come to make repairs or fit new equipment had gone. At the suggestion of the security team a number of cameras had also been installed at strategic points, the signals feeding monitors on both sides of the island. Compared to today, the technology was crude and Tyler was annoyed at the frequent breakdowns in the system which was struggling to function in the tropical conditions, but he persevered with it. One most days at least two of the eight cameras would be down, but it still left him with six which he supposed, was better than none at all. It was difficult now to see how anybody could get even close to his island unless he wanted then too. As for the airstrip, well anybody foolish enough to try and land on that - fixed wing or helicopter - was in for a very rude shock indeed. When not in use a series of hydraulic ramps lifted out of the surface at regular intervals which would prevent any fixed wind aircraft from landing. Helicopters were another matter since he could hardly shoot them down, but large smoke canisters had been buried all along the sides of the runway which was the only area of flat ground big enough for a helicopter to land upon. If any were foolish enough to begin a descent, the black smoke would obliterate the landing site, and most helicopter pilots will not land ‘blind'. Even if one were brave enough to keep coming, by the time it was down his men would be there under cover of the smoke.
It was the beginning of July and Caroline was getting quietly excited. Soon now they would be leaving the island. She had now doubt that after a few months she would yearn to return, but not now. A lot of things had been happening in the world that existed outside Grand Augusta. NASA had announced the start of the Space Shuttle program, Joe Frazier retained the world title, and Hurricane Agnes, killed 118 in New York and Florida - the costliest natural disaster in American history. The news was full of the withdrawal from Vietnam and Caroline was relieved that Nathan would grow up, she hoped, in a time without war, and that no more young Americans would die. In Europe, the Munich Olympics were due to open the next month.
The front of the house was open as it usually was in the evening. During the day they often kept all the glass closed and allowed the powerful air-conditioning plant to keep them cool, but the balmy evenings were incomparable. The sea was so still that it looked like a sheet of glass. There was the tiniest swell that made it ripple like mercury and waves, barely more than bumps in the crystal clear water, lapped up to the sand. The sun was setting, a fabulous orange orb sinking on the horizon and casting long shadows. The gentlest of cool breezes wafted lazily up the beach and through the house. They could hear the noise of night creatures calling out in the jungle, and Nathan making his baby talk noises where he played on the floor. It was their personal paradise that the island had been planned to deliver and it was at moments like this that Caroline completely forgot her desire to leave - she could live these moments forever. Dinner was on the table, a simple meal of fish that Tyler had caught and salad.
"I guess its time Honey", he said.
"Time to leave. The plane is coming tomorrow".
Her eyes lit up in delight with the surprise - she knew they would be going soon but Tyler hadn't said when. "Its on nights like this that I could stay forever, but it will be nice to get back."
"Guess we better pack then."
"I guess we should", she said happily, and then to Nathan, "we're going to see grandad and grandma". Nathan said "gan-da".