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The Hawaiian Triple-Cross - Page 7: December 2, 2013 - January 22, 2014

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Pumpkins Aweigh!
Paʻulaʻula o Hipo
Bottom of the Atlantic
A More or Less Kinetic Approach
The Deal of a Lifetime
Coming Apart at the Seams


Pumpkins Aweigh!

Entry for December 2, 2013 Written by David L. Drake

Erasmus opened the hatch in the Peregrine’s engine room and looked straight down. The building below was built with European knowledge of architectural structure, but disguised as a shack on the outside. Erasmus inspected the smokestack, which was pumping out a dark smoke. Behind the structure he spied piles of fuel for an engine, in the form of bales of bound dried grass and sticks. From the thatched building to the ocean was a tube or pipe camouflaged with sand and twigs. Erasmus’ first though was that it was to obtain water, but seawater was too brackish for a steam engine. Then he saw that the pipe led to the dark path that ran along the sea floor.

Heeding Sparky’s advice, he grabbed the coal shovel and loaded it with a half scoop of red-hot coals from the Peregrine’s firebox. Carefully he slipped the shovelhead out of the hatch and tilted it, dropping its contents onto the dry thatched roof of the building fifty feet below.

The roof immediately started smoldering from a few points as the coals had spread out from their fall.

“I have dumped the coals!” Erasmus yelled to his beloved. “We should ascend, just in case.” He heard a muffled affirmation, and then saw the linkages to the engine change, directing hot air into the envelope.

Erasmus could feel the airship change direction and rise slowly. Carefully looking out through the hatch, he saw a bright flame come alive on the roof, and expand within seconds. He heard the sound of alarm from inside the shack, and a man ran out with a pump canister of water. While yelling in French, the man tried to spray the roof from the ground, but he was squirting a very small stream of water on a growing fire.

Then the man noticed the airship and ran back inside the endangered building. He ran back out and started to fire a pistol up at the Peregrine.

Erasmus pulled his head away from the opening in the floor. “Ascend! Ascend!” he shouted. Sparky moved the linkages even farther and the craft increased its rate of climb. Six shots rang out, but Erasmus didn’t hear a single one of them hit.
“The French probably did not leave their most crack shot behind to tend an engine,” he thought.

Carefully peeking back down through the hatch, Erasmus could now see inside of the structure through the hole that had emerged in the quickly burning roof. It was an engine, of course, but attached to a large pulley and cable system that ran out through the pipe to the ocean floor. It was pulling the large masses back and forth.
“That is how they transport the attackers through the harbor! In a submergible, watertight orb that can be towed along the sea floor.”

Erasmus thought back to the newspaper articles that he had read and recalled that the nations of France and Hawaii were not on good terms. The French had attacked the harbor and fort at Honolulu in late 1849, and tensions were still high. Perhaps the French had taken up hiding here between these two islands and had set up this elaborate ruse to frighten the island inhabitants, disturb the flow of commerce, and weaken the economy so they could retry an attack.

He stuck his head inside of the cabin and told Sparky, “I have an idea for speeding up the destruction of the structure. It may halt the use of the underwater spheres they use to attack the ships.”

Sparky turned and smiled an evil grin. “What do you have in mind, my dear?”

“Well,” Erasmus said nonchalantly, “I am afraid I will expend one of our signal pumpkins.”

“Be my guest,” she said, and waved her hand across the pile on the floor, signaling for him to pick the one he liked. Erasmus hefted one up and returned to the engine room.

He put the pumpkin at the edge of the hatch opening, and peered out. “Can you back this up?” he asked loudly.

“To the aft!” the reply came. The cable controlling the gears to the propellers strained, and the gearbox clunked as it reversed the direction of the propellers. The engine increased its output, and the whoosh of rotors became audible again.

“Good. Good. Now slightly to port,” re requested.

“Ask nicely.”

“Slightly to port,
please!” he implored.

He heard the movement of the metal cable within its run as it adjusted the rudder, and the airship turned slightly as requested.

Erasmus snatched up the pumpkin and held it over his head as he knelt on the deck near the edge of the hatch. The trick was to throw the pumpkin out through the opening without heaving himself out in the process. He mentally counted down,
“Ready. Steady. Now!”

He heaved the pumpkin down with his left hand as he caught himself with the right. He tipped over the hatch hole precariously, catching his left shoulder on the far side of the opening. It took a bit of squirming to right himself, but the view of the decent of the large orange squash made the effort worthwhile.

It plummeted exactly as he hoped, and landed unbroken, wedged in the top of the smokestack. Erasmus watched the engineer below. He was so busy tending to the building fire that he didn’t notice the falling fruit, and the smoke that was now billowing out from the engine’s firebox. As the walls fell to the ground, the engineer ran, bucket in hand, to the ocean to fetch a pail of water. That was when their boiler cracked, and a mighty gust of steam engulfed the engine, forcing it to stop suddenly.

Even from the air, Erasmus heard the snapping sound of the steam engine below breaking free of its mounts. The tension of the cable running into the ocean was now the primary force on the system, and the engine, gearbox, pulley, and cable all clumsily tumbled across the sand and were yanked in to the sea. The engineer stopped in his tracks, standing on the beach, shoulders slumped, pail in hand, with no reason to put out the remaining fire.

Sparky yelled, “The spheres are popping up to the surface! I see six, …, now seven of them.” With a flip of a few levers and a pull on the throttle, she piloted the Peregrine forward towards
La Princesa Azteca. Erasmus slammed the hatch shut, bolted it, and joined her at the helm.

“Look! They are abandoning the orbs!” Erasmus shouted as he pointed out the activity. Both costumed and ordinarily dressed Frenchmen poured out of the underwater vehicles, fearing that their mechanisms had been compromised. Sparky laughed, saying, “They are about to learn how well they swim!”

Sparky put full power to the propellers to make a hasty return to the steamship. Erasmus looked back at the remaining pumpkins and scratched his head.

“I want to signal that we have disabled the underwater attackers. Got any ideas how to do that?”

Sparky gleefully suggested, “Grab a knife from the back and carve a happy Jack-o-Lantern face on our signal pumpkin!”

“A…what?” Erasmus stammered out.

“It is a new American tradition. Carve a simplistic face on the pumpkin. We do it for the harvest season, but it makes a great way to signal our success.”

A few moments later, Erasmus was at the hatch in the back, ready with a pumpkin sporting a toothy grin and triangular eyeholes. Sparky shouted an enthusiastic signal to drop his rough-hewn artwork.

“Pumpkins aweigh!” he cheered as he tossed the produce out. He saw the splash of the projectile in the clear blue Hawaiian waters, and then heard the cheer of the crew as they reacted to the signal. As Sparky made a lazy turn to approach for a landing, Erasmus called out, “Dare I say we squashed the enemy with pumpkins?”

Sparky rolled her eyes and groaned.



Paʻulaʻula o Hipo

Entry for December 15, 2013 Written by Katherine L. Morse

By the time Sparky and Erasmus landed the Peregrine and secured it with the aid of their Hawaiian compatriots, the crew of La Princesa Azteca had netted the Franco fish and secured them as well. Sparky commended the captain on his compassion in rescuing the submarine attackers from drowning.

“¿Compasión? ¿Es que como una recompensa?” the captain asked archly.

“Ah, I see,” Sparky replied. “You expect there will be a reward.”

Drake leaned over her shoulder. “It is safe to assume that the king will pay a reward for the capture of enemies of the state terrorizing his subjects and disrupting trade.”

“Perhaps it would have been more compassionate to just let them drown,” Sparky quipped to her fiancé. “Captain,” she continued, pointing at one of the abandoned pods bobbling on the surface. “Would you please retrieve one of those for me? ¿Quieres conseguir uno de esos para mí, por favor?”

“Si, si si.”

As Drake and McTrowell made their way back to the Peregrine to finish securing it, Sparky commented, “I will be interested to see how they made the pods light yet watertight.”

“Yes, they have obvious military applications, as we have so clearly seen.”

Pa’ele nearly bowled them over in his enthusiasm to hear their report. “What was it? How did they do it?”

The airship pilot explained, “Unfortunately, we will not have the opportunity to inspect the entire apparatus. However, I may be able to infer many of its characteristics from our airborne observations and a closer inspection of the pod the crew has just recovered. It appears that the French malefactors rigged an underwater cable between a pair of pulleys anchored off the shores of Moloka’i and Lanai. The pods were probably affixed to the cable that was drawn back and forth by the engine camouflaged on the shore of Lanai. Rather like an underwater tram or railroad, but with only one rail, a monorail if you will.” Her gaze wandered off for a moment. When she came back from her reverie, she commented offhandedly, “Such a conveyance could be quite useful in locations where there is considerable turbulence on the surface.” She waved her hand dismissively, “Ah well, we shall have to take up this topic with Dr. Pogue when we return to London.” Her voice trailed off. She wondered how much longer it would be before they returned to London. If pressed, she would have had to admit that she had come to think of it as home. “Chief Inspector, would you like to come help me inspect the submersible and take notes? I do not see any point in disassembling the Peregrine again as we will reach Honolulu presently.”

Sparky had filed a dozen pages of her notebook with notes and measurements of the submersible by the time they reached Honolulu. Her production was matched by Erasmus’ detailed sketches. There was clearly no way they could take the pod with them, nor did they have any reason to believe that King Kamehameha would permit it. Any future discussions with Edmond would have to rely solely on their records, so they two of them committed themselves to the task in earnest. As a result, they were exhausted and famished by the time
La Princesa Azteca docked in Honolulu.

Keō approached the pair and addressed them brusquely, “Kalei and I must report to the king. Pa’ele will take you to eat.” He turned and departed the ship without further discussion.

“You are welcome,” Sparky retorted to the Hawaiian’s retreating back. She turned to face Drake and Llewellyn. “Remind me never to save his life again.” She smiled brightly at Pa’ele as he approached, “I understand that there is food to be had.”

“Yes, my auntie makes the best kalua pig in Honolulu.”

Sparky had no idea what that was, but she like the sound of pig and dry land. She glanced back at the Peregrine and asked, “Do you suppose it is safe to leave her here? If
La Princesa sails off without us, we will not have an escape route.”

Edwin interjected, “My dear, I daresay that after your treachery in Veracruz and today’s escapade, there is not a captain on the seven seas who would dare cross you.” He winked slyly at his foster son’s beloved. He proffered his elbow, “Shall we eat?”

Drake found himself bringing up the rear and wondering why his intended always felt the need to have an escape route. He hoped it did not bode ill for their future marital status.

Flourish Break


“Did you bring the Englishman?” Alexander
ʻIolani Liholiho demanded.

“Yes, and then some,” Keō replied.

“What does that mean, ‘and then some’?”

“His foster son got in the way.”

“Did you kill him?”

“I could not very well kill him and expect Llewellyn to cooperate!”

“As Edwin Llewellyn is still alive, I assume you have not extracted the passphrase from him.”

“No, your highness, but we have maintained the ruse that he is here at the behest of the king.” He snickered at the imagined stupidity of Edwin for falling for this deception. “But I am not so sure about his foster son. He is uncommonly perceptive.”

Kalei interjected, “He is a chief inspector for Scotland Yard.”

“As if we do not have enough interference already and you had to involve an agent of the most imperialist woman on Earth?” the crown prince bellowed.

“There is a bit more
good news. The chief inspector and Dr. McTrowell discovered the source of the attacks on ships between Moloka’i and Lanai. We captured the French perpetrators. Perhaps we can use this ‘gift’ to the king to gain information on his plans.”

“That is good news,” Alexander admitted grudgingly. “Who is this Dr. McTrowell?”

“She is an airship pilot and the fiancée of the chief inspector.”

“The British and their women! They are so damnably meddling!”

Kalei piped in again, “Actually, she is an American.”

It was all too much for Alexander who turned purple and stormed out.

Flourish Break


Having no prior experience with the dish, Sparky couldn’t vouch for whether Pa’ele’s auntie truly made the best kalua pig in Honolulu, but she certainly had a hard time imagining a more succulent, delightful preparation. She didn’t even mind eating it with her fingers. Her hands were greasy from the pork and sticky from pineapple and sweet potatoes by the time Keō and Kalei joined their party.

“How was your visit with the king?” Llewellyn inquired.

“Um, fine,” replied Keō.

“Did he enquire after me?”

“Er, yes. He apologized for not receiving you, but he had an urgent matter on Maui. He said he would see you in a few days. Until then, we are going to Pa
ʻulaʻula o Hipo.”

“What or where is that?”

“It is an old Russian fort on Kauai. You will be safer there.”

Sparky interrupted, “
Елизаветинская крепость?”

Kalei responded with a simple, “Huh?”

“Fort Elizabeth?” Sparky explained.

Keō sneered, “That is an imperial name. Its true name is Pa
ʻulaʻula o Hipo.”

Edwin continued his previous line of questioning, “Why wouldn’t I be safer here in Honolulu under the protection of the king?”

Keō ended the conversation bluntly, “Not everyone is loyal to the king.” He cast a sidelong glare at Pa’ele that only Erasmus and Sparky caught.

The couple shared an instantaneous visual exchange indicating that they should discuss the matter in private before she quickly changed the subject by stabbing a messy finger at a wooden bowl filled with a substance she could not identify, but which didn’t look the least bit appetizing. “What is that?”

Relieved to have the tension lifted, Pa’ele responded “Poi. It’s made from the root of the
kalo. It is a sacred food.”

She stuck a finger in and tasted, promptly grimacing while scrubbing her tongue back and forth between her teeth like a petulant infant. “
Is that Hawaiian for disgusting purple paste?




Bottom of the Atlantic

Entry for December 31, 2013 Written by David L. Drake

The sun had set and the cool ocean breezes could be heard outside of the hale noho, the family house, of Pa’ele’s aunt, Kamaka. Inside the rounded structure of wooden beams and thatched walls were a mixture of Hawaiian antiquity such as dried grass mats and carved wooden bowls, and modern European furniture including cushioned chairs and an oval table.

Kamaka hustled in from outside carrying a platter with more kalua pig for her returning nephew and his companions. She dumped the delicious mixture onto the generously-sized wooden bowl that occupied the center of the table.

Sparky looked up with sad eyes at Erasmus. Despite her last few minutes of drinking sweet juices and unceremoniously wiping her tongue on her napkin, she couldn’t get the taste of poi out of her mouth. She waited for the cook to leave before she continued her protestations to the Chief Inspector.

“I normally like vegetables,” she sputtered. “I truly do. But I must confess that whatever this root has done, it did not deserve this punishment.”

Erasmus did his best to look concerned, knowing that she would probably survive the starchy mush that had been a staple of Hawaiian diets for centuries. “Too adventuresome for the adventuress?” he quipped.

“Do not make light of me, my dear. I have risked, and I fear I may continue risking, body and soul for this journey. But I will not risk my stomach. This is more suited for patching wooden hulls than for consumption.”

“Perhaps I can try it as a replacement moustache wax. Can you live with the slight purple hue?”

At that witticism, she dipped the tip of her index finger in the communal bowl of puree and mockingly wound up to fling it at her fiancé.

“I hate to interrupt your banter,” Edwin dryly interjected, “but Pa’ele’s aunt will be back soon with more fruit juice, and I do not think she’ll appreciate either of you wearing her preparations.”

Keō stood hastily, his dark eyes flashed at everyone at the table but settled on Sparky. “Doctor McTrowell, I think it wise to act on the King’s wishes immediately. We should make our way to the airship and depart for Pa
ʻulaʻula o Hipo as soon as we can.”

After hearing this request, Pa’ele also stood, his chest puffed up. “Friend, I think you are too impertinent. Aunt Kamaka has offered lodging for our guests, and despite the King’s request, it is late and we should honor her wishes. Sit and finish your meal, and we will stay tonight in Honolulu.”

This time it was Kalei who stood. He slapped his big hands together in a loud clap and then rubbed them, as if satisfied with what he had planned to say. “My Hawaiian brothers, calm yourselves. With my own ears I heard our King’s wishes, and he called for our travel to the Russian Fort, as Keō suggested. If the airship is ready, we should fly at once.”

The three men stood, locking gazes. Sparky, Erasmus, and Edwin watched them all carefully for how this was going to play out. Erasmus thought that this was the first time that he knew of where a clear differentiation between the three of them was made.
“What,” he thought to himself, “was at the Fort and why would they differ on traveling there? Or are Keō and Kalei simply trying to get us away from Honolulu? Or, more simply, is this a dominance struggle between the three?”

“Perhaps you both are correct,” Pa’ele acquiesced. “I suggest that Doctor McTrowell and the Chief Inspector Drake travel with both of you over to the Fort, and Mister Edwin Llewellyn can stay with me here in Honolulu to await the King’s return.”

“Absolutely not!” Keō shouted. Everyone was shocked at his outburst and waited to hear his reason, but he did not provide one. The silence was broken when Kamaka returned with a large jug in one hand. At seeing the standoff, she was quick to speak up.

“Sit! Sit! Meals are for making peace. Eat and relax.” She smiled pleasantly and began the process of filling the wooden mugs with a bright yellow fruit juice.

The men remained standing, and Keō snapped his piercing gaze on her and bellowed, “Silence, woman!”

She was frightened by the sudden harsh words and couldn’t help but spill some of the drink on the table in reaction. Jug in hand, she rushed out of the room. Sparky stood in anger.

“That was uncalled for!” she declared. She knew that she was both outmatched in size and strength, but she emphasized her point by glaring at Keō.

“I am loyal to the King, and his word is law. It is mandatory that we all travel immediately to Pa
ʻulaʻula o Hipo tonight. Stand now and join me as we go to the airship. This is not a request. It is a demand.”

Erasmus and Edwin reluctantly rose and joined the circle. Pa’ele looked Edwin in the eyes and stated flatly, “Yes, this is acceptable. Let us all go to the airship and go to the Fort together.” Edwin was no fool. He knew that look meant that Pa’ele was going along with Keō even though he disagreed with the plan, but he had his reasons. Edwin and Erasmus shared a glance that passed along an understanding of Pa’ele’s compromise.

“I agree,” stated Edwin, in a very patriarchal tone. “Keō, after you thank Kamaka for the delicious meal the rest of us will go with you to the airship.”

Keō quickly made a disgruntled face, and then it was gone. “Agreed. Let us go.”

On their walk through Honolulu to the docks, Edwin whispered to Erasmus, “I want to question you on a topic while we are flying to the Fort.”

Erasmus had been through this type of ‘questioning’ before by Edwin. He knew that the Socratic process would force him to understand something that he hadn’t before, or even thought about, for that matter. But the undertaking would highlight something so important to him that it would take days for its significance to be fully realized. He nodded his understanding of what he was soon to go through.

Flourish Break


The captain of
La Princessa Azteca was not happy to see the Peregrine’s team arrive so late at night. They clomped across the gangplank that connected the dock and the ship, looking bedraggled as they came. The captain had been busying himself with double-checking everything on the ship before the intended departure the next day for the four-day trip back to Acapulco. He looked confused and, using only Spanish, asked Sparky why they were leaving tonight rather than in the morning, as originally planned. Sparky gave a short explanation that their departure was unforeseen but they were expected on another island. The captain explained that there were no deckhands aboard to help with the lines that had secured the airship, but that he would lend a hand.

He stopped before he got more than two steps toward the airship, remembering the promised payment for the team’s passage. Erasmus produced formal papers promising payment from Her Royal Majesty, Queen Victoria. The captain accepted them without hesitation, and continued on his way to handle the lines.

Flourish Break


Erasmus shoveled more coal into the firebox, spreading dark chunks on the bright orange pile of heat already under the boiler.

“That should keep the Peregrine afloat,” he said to Edwin, who was the only other person in the engine compartment. “Is now a good time for your questions?”

Edwin’s expression was grim. “Actually, it has to be now. What happens from here on out on this trip is dependent on you and I having a better understanding of things.”

“You have my attention, Edwin.”

Edwin nudged a stool with the toe of his shoe. “Sit. Relax.”

Erasmus adjusted the simple three-legged piece of furniture and sat, as requested.

Edwin continued, “How did you get to know me?”

Erasmus wrinkled his brow at the simplicity of the question. “I lived at your house for about eight years. Over that time, I got to know you quite well.”

“Yes, but how did we meet?”

“I saw you attacked in the street by two men. I jumped in to fend them off and save your life. You saw potential in me, and took me in.”

“Yes,” Edwin answered with a noncommittal nod that Erasmus interpreted as meaning,
“close enough.” “How did they attack me and how did you fend them off?”

Every aspect of this scene was indelibly imprinted in Erasmus’ memories. It was the turning point for Erasmus to transition from the scarcity of street life to gentlemanly refinement. He could tell this story backwards and forwards.
“How odd,” he thought to himself, “that Edwin would want to go over this well-trod tale.”

Erasmus’ gaze went off to the distance, as if he was revisiting the scene. “I was just leaving Trafalgar Square after a performance to garner a few coins. I saw you at the intersection of Wellington Street and the Strand, just a block away from the Waterloo Bridge. The two men had knives and clubs. You were backed into a corner and trying to talk them down. They raised their clubs. That is when I acted. I hit one in the head with one of my juggling balls, and in a running skid, I tripped the other. I was able to strip the downed man of his club using a simple technique I learned on the
Fearless. Brandishing the club, I must have scared them. The two men fled. You thanked me and asked me my name.”

“Correct. And what was I carrying?” Edwin asked pointedly.

Erasmus closed his eyes tight and thought for a second. “You did not have any parcels. You had your top hat in one hand and your cane in the other.”

“And do you remember what I taught during the days at that time?”

“The same as today: fencing, stick fighting, and the like. I know where you are going with this. Simply put, you were caught off guard and needed help. I was there at the right time to do so.”

Edwin leaned in a bit to make his next point. “Do not rush ahead of me. You will deceive yourself. Now, back on point. Which hand did I have my cane in?”

Erasmus closed his eyes again and replayed the event. “Your left. It was down by your side, and in your right you held out your hat defensively.”

“Given the training I have shown you, why was I standing in that position? Before you answer that, tell me, what is the best defense against two attackers?”

Erasmus responded immediately, “Circle to their weakest hand, lining the two up so that only one can attack at a time. Take out the first, and then deal with the second. But that only works on open ground. Otherwise…”

“Say it,” Edwin insisted.

“Corner yourself to only let one attacker at you at a time. That’s what you had done. So you were in control of the situation.”

Edwin squinted an eye and leaned in again. “Do not get ahead of me. If after a fight you have two bodies in the street, both stabbed with a sword cane, how do you explain that to the police?”

Erasmus smiled. “You tell them that you were attacked. But for that to be believable, you have to have at least one injury. I see now.”

Edwin finally leaned back and smiled. “You do? Tell me.”

“You were inviting a single hit from the nearest attacker. The slower of the two, the one I tripped. You were bracing to dampen the club hit, which would probably land on the meat of your right shoulder. You planned to throw your top hat at the fast one to distract them both, draw your sword cane, and deliver deadly thrusts to both of them. The slower one first, who was on your left, and then the faster one who was on your right.”

“Correct.” Edwin raised an eyebrow. “Keep going.”

“These men must have known you. This was not a robbery. It must have been anger, or business, that caused them to attack. But the important part of the story is that I interrupted the attack, saving you the bother of killing two men and dealing with the police.”

Edwin’s face scrunched tight. “Stop thinking about yourself! Why was that night important to me?”

“Huh?” Erasmus recoiled. “He hadn’t thought of that night from Edwin’s point of view.
“What could have made it unique?” he puzzled. “Oh, my. You knew you were being hunted. And…despite all of your training and teaching…you had never killed anyone before.”

“Again, you are correct. Your mind is still sharp. All of our training is still there. That is as much as you could reason out without me filling in the details. Yes, I knew those men might attack me and I had been on the defensive for days. I had convinced myself that I had to stop them. Permanently. But you came along and changed the entire dynamics. When they thought I had help, perhaps from my students, they stopped their assault, and I never heard from them again. My guess is that every time they saw young men, they thought they could be attacked themselves. But…” Edwin hesitated for emphasis. “…That is not the crux of this story. What is?”

Erasmus furrowed his brow. He looked off in the distance. He became aware of the heat of the firebox and the sound of the gurgling water within the boiler. The heaviness of the air became apparent to him. He thought over the story so far.

Erasmus spoke clearly and precisely. “I changed your way of thinking. I gave you a new option to handling adversity. You reassessed your entire modus of fighting.”

“Yes. You are again correct. And I have never forgotten what you have done. It is all here in my book that I am delivering. I owe much more to you than you knew.”

Sparky called out from the helm, “Prepare for landing!”

Erasmus rose from his stool, and for the first time he remembered, he and Edwin embraced and gave a few hearty back slaps recognizing the importance of the moment.

Edwin broke the silence. “You know why I’m telling you this now?”

Erasmus had hoped the question and answer process was done, so he thought he might just get a straight answer from his mentor.

“No, why? Why now?”

“Because without you, I would have dispatched the Hawaiians long ago. They would be somewhere in the bottom of the Atlantic. I knew they had evil plans, even if I do not know what they are. Because of you, I wanted to play this out. Let them live, even if it is a great bit of bother.”

Erasmus solemnly added, “I pray we both don’t regret that decision.”




A More or Less Kinetic Approach

Entry for January 7, 2014 Written by Katherine L. Morse

“You do know that no sane person would pilot an airship of this size over open water in the middle of the night and land in an unlit empty field?” Sparky asked Erasmus testily. Being a clever and sensible man, he recognized it for the rhetorical question it was and just gave her a hug. She grumpily continued, “Remind me again why we’re here at this obviously abandoned fort in the middle of the night.”

“To get the truth. And I sense that we are running out of time to do so. Edwin has changed his methods of dealing with these sorts of individuals because of me. The time has come for me to honor that commitment by using my methods to solve this conundrum or I will be forced to fall back on his more ‘kinetic’ approach. I will send Pa’ele over with a lantern to help you secure the Peregrine. I will distract Keō so Edwin can get Kalei alone. I believe our weakest link has revealed himself. Let us see if ‘divide and conquer’ still works.”

She kissed him on the cheek, the tips of his moustache tickling her own cheek. “I hope you’re right, my love, or I too shall be tempted to resort to a more ‘kinetic approach.’”

His eyes twinkled at her. “Well, none of us wants that.”

Flourish Break


Drake passed another armload of gear to Keō who was stacking it not very neatly in the back of the hut that was to be shelter for Drake and McTrowell. As improper as it might have been at home for the chief inspector to share sleeping quarters with the woman to whom he was not yet married, it seemed a less dangerous option than her sleeping alone. He smirked inwardly at the thought of how such a scenario would play out for any would be attacker. Still, as capable as she was at defending herself, it would still be dangerous. He returned his attention to the real task at hand.

As Keō prepared to take final few items from the sleuth, Drake shifted his stance to force the Hawaiian to lean over the lantern where his facial expressions would be most clear. “I understand what it is to be the monarch’s man, always seeing enemies wherever you turn.” Although he affected a casual expression, Drake didn’t blink so he was sure not to miss Keō’s first reaction. It was fleeting, but clearly one of the two that Drake could have predicted.

The Hawaiian’s response was fiery, “My king doesn’t make enemies the way your queen does!”

He had two very useful clues. He hoped Edwin was as successful with Kalei.

Flourish Break


“Kalei, you impressed me with your diplomatic skill in Honolulu,” Edwin observed while the two men swept out and tidied up a grass hut, no small feat considering the fact that it appeared to have been unused for several years.

“What do you mean?”

“We can all see that Keō considers himself to be the man in charge. He expects everyone to follow his orders. He does not understand, the way you do, how to be in command without giving orders. This is the difference between command and leadership. All men can command. Few can lead.” Edwin waited for his praise to sink in. He wanted to assess Kalei’s next line of attack.

“He is in command.”

“But he does not lead. He does not value the knowledge and perspective of others.” The fencing master made an exaggerated charade of being absorbed in his sweeping while purposely forcing a pause in the conversational action. “A better leader would see the future of his king and his people, and act for their benefit, not just for his own.”

Llewellyn straightened his stack of book-filled crates for the third time. A more perfect alignment than he had already achieved would have required precision milled boxes. He listened to Kalei’s breathing and waited for the sounds of his exertions to pause before he pressed his attack anew, “A true leader can lead from any position and other men will follow him.”

Edwin turned his head ever so slightly so he could see the shadow that Kalei cast on the wall of the hut while maintaining the illusion that he was unaware of the Hawaiian’s actions. He held perfectly still and breathed silently through his nose so as to vanish from perception. And that’s how he saw Kalei nod imperceptibly to himself. “Touché!” he thought to himself.

Flourish Break


“You know, Pa’ele, you have developed a good deal of skill with this little airship during our voyage. I should think the king would find your new expertise very useful. Perhaps he would grant you the concession for a royal airship service between the islands,” Sparky offered.

“Concession?”

“Yes, something like a royal monopoly. It’s the sort of gift that monarchs give to particularly loyal subjects to make them rich. People like you!” Sparky hoped her bright, rising intonation would encourage casual and revealing conversation.

“Um.”

So much for that approach. She would have to try something more directly leading. “I find that monarchs can be a fickle and demanding bunch.”

“Er.”

Sparky pressed on. “As an American, I can understand why we rejected the idea. And yet, I’m something of a hostage to Queen Victoria.”

“A hostage?”

Now she was getting somewhere. “Well, not exactly. I did something a little bit … well … illegal. Just a little bit. So, she made me do something she wanted me to do in exchange for not exiling me from the British Empire. I guess you could call it extortion if she weren’t the Queen.”

“I see.” Unfortunately, what Pa’ele saw in Sparky’s observation was not clear to her.

“Is your king like that?”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe? I thought you were one of his trusted retainers.”

“Retainer?”

“I thought you were close to him and he relied on you. Isn’t that why he sent you on this mission?”

“Um, er.” There was Pa’ele’s brick wall again. As frustrating as it was, McTrowell sensed that she was getting close to something and that was why he was prevaricating.

“Didn’t he send you on this mission?”

“Yes?”

“Did you mean yes or no? Surely he said something to you when he sent you.”

“He, um.” Sparky held her breath in the hope that this was just a stumbling block and not the end of the road. Pa’ele hesitated before admitting, “He doesn’t talk to me.”

“Why not?”

A long, painful silence stretched between the two of them. The twist of his facial expression revealed his inner turmoil. Clearly the answer was embarrassing, but his failure to reply could be construed to imply any number of horrifying assumptions. The flight surgeon waited, assuming as calm a composure as her impatient nature permitted. She had him cornered and she knew it. She just hoped he didn’t figure a way to wriggle free.

“My family is from Maui.” Clearly he expected that this explained everything, which it did not.

“What’s wrong with Maui?”

“Nothing is wrong with Maui!” He barked defensively.

“I apologize. I didn’t mean that anything was wrong with Maui. What does the king have against Maui?”

“My grandfather was the king of Maui. He surrendered his kingdom to Kamehameha I, the king’s father. But the Kamehamehas have never trusted my family since.”

“Then why do you serve him?”

“To restore his trust and my family’s honor.”

“Well, that does make sense.” Then she caught herself. That only explained half the equation. “If he doesn’t talk to you, how does he know about the good work you do in the name of your family’s honor?”

Having gotten over the embarrassing part, Pa’ele felt no compunction about explaining the rest. “Keō reports to Alexander who reports to the king.”

Sparky turned this last bit of information over in her head. “
Keō reports to Alexander who reports to the king? Why doesn’t Keō report it directly to the king?




The Deal of a Lifetime

Entry for January 20, 2014 Written by David L. Drake

Sparky hiked up the fallen pumice blocks to the top of the six-foot high crumbling westernmost walls of the “Russian Fort.” She looked out into the darkness, listening to the lapping waters of the nearby river and the more distant waves of the Pacific Ocean. The night was cool and the air was clean, but she had an emptiness gnawing at her. She carefully turned around making sure that she didn’t misstep on the ragged black rock. Peering in the gloom, she made out the encircling walls of the rundown fortress, and her heart sank further.

She thought about how she had pictured this voyage. Once the Hawaiians were initially under control, she had hoped to sail to a far off tropical paradise and, utilizing her medical expertise, save a village or two. Instead, after weeks of air and water travel, she had only set foot on a sandy beach on Bermuda, a shore of Acapulco, a home in Honolulu, and here. Each stop was rushed. Sparky remembered that only Kamaka’s hale nono had a civilized sit-down meal, which they had ironically eaten with their fingers. Had she lost her taste for roughing it?

Her memories of Lord Ashleigh’s place flooded back to her, which included a hot chai in a fine porcelain teacup gliding toward her on a silver tray. How far she had wandered in just a few weeks. How the world had changed from sane to crazy since her week in London and meeting the peculiar Chief Inspector.
“And that week wasn’t all that sane, was it?” she thought to herself.

The fort walls made a zigzagging circle of sorts, with the thickest part facing southwest, toward the ocean. Near Sparky’s left was the gate. It showed signs of having been broken for a while and Sparky could tell that it wouldn’t prevent intruders from coming and going as they pleased. There was a collection of pumice-walled storage buildings within the fort with unkempt thatched roofs and lowered doors that lead down to belowground dirt floors. There were aged cannons along the thick walls, and even in the dark they gave away their lack of upkeep. The sad guns pointed every which way, and most weren’t chained in place. Littered around their bases were cannonballs, tragically chipped and grievously rusted.

Erasmus strode up the blocks to stand by her side and join in her survey. She broke the silence with her solemn observation, “This is not a place a king would send us unless he meant us ill, or he wished to hide us from the world.”

“Agreed, my dear. We should discuss this privately with Edwin in the morning, when we compare our interviews with our ‘hosts.’ I have made up a couple of bedding mats in the quarters over…there.” Erasmus pointed to the building with the most robust roof. “Edwin is already there and fast asleep. I’m afraid he has picked up the habit of snoring. Or more like wuffing. You will get to hear it and decide for yourself.”

He held out his hand and helped her descend. In the back of her mind she wondered if she should mention her concern that this voyage wasn’t what she had hoped, but felt it could wait until the morning light.

Flourish Break


Edwin was the last to rise and, once dressed, stumbled out of the makeshift sleeping quarters. He squinted through the incredibly bright sunshine to see Sparky and Erasmus sitting grumpily on nearby stones eating a mashed fruit and porridge looking meal off of a sizable green leaf. He finished tucking in his shirt as he walked over to them, starting the day’s conversation.

“Good day! Let me be the first to say I am now thinking that the thin bedding of our ships’ journeys was a complete luxury. This rock-packed earth is by far, the most…well, rather than complain, let me just say this location sets a new record for contrast from magnificent sleeping accommodations.”

He was able to get a chuckle out of the pair, and lighten the load of being at such a remote site. He took a seat and joined in their meal. Sparky took the opportunity to explain their current location.

“The island of Kauai, unlike most of the Hawaiian islands, is round in shape. Viewed from above and thought of as a clock face, we are very near the ocean at eight o’clock, right next to a river that comes down out of the mountain, the Waimea. The town of the same name is just on the other side, the northern side, of the river.”

Curious if she knew more, Erasmus asked her if she had heard of the fort before. Sparky explained how the fort came to be, and its roots as part of the deal between Russian-American Company fur traders, many of whom were from the Russian colonies in Siberia and Alaska. The fort was an outcome of an agreement to create a Russian settlement in Hawaii early in the nineteenth century, where trade on goods could be made and a Russian outpost could be established. Since then the fort had had a rocky past and its current disrepair was obvious.

Sparky added, “I have heard of the fort from two sources. The first is from Russians in San Francisco bragging about the worldliness of the Motherland. The second is the articles that I read in medical journals that talked of the surveys of Hawaiian population decimation over the last fifty years. I will not go into the causes; that is a conversation best stomached by those in the healing profession.”

After breakfast, the trio walked the grounds of the fort, getting a deeper understanding of their surroundings. The only real knowledge they gathered was that the local children played there from time to time, despite the fact that muskets, ammunition, and empty power kegs were still there, as well as signs that prisoners were recently held in some of the buildings.

“Where are our Hawaiian hosts?” Erasmus asked as the three rested in the central grounds.

Sparky answered, “I was up early enough to see Keō head to the Pacific shore. The other two seem to be out talking to the locals or buying food. But I am only making my best guess.”

Leaving the fort, the three headed over the open ground toward the ocean. But once they cleared the grassy scrub and got to the sandy shore, they spied a strange scene. Keō was having a long conversation with two other Hawaiians who had arrived by outrigger, a long boat affixed with a spar parallel to the hull. The conversation looked very serious and it appeared to have been going on for a good stretch of time.

Erasmus silently pointed out that behind a tree trunk-sized piece of driftwood, Kalei was standing; maybe hiding. The three crouched and watched, unable to hear the conversation but they could see the intensity of all parties involved. Eventually the conversation at the boat broke off and the two boatmen rowed away. Erasmus tapped the others and jerked his head to show that they should leave so they wouldn’t be seen if Keō or Kalei decided to return to the fort.

Hushed theories were discussed over the next few hours, but when the Hawaiians returned with food for dinner, the discussion of that topic ceased.

Flourish Break


Edwin awoke from his shoulder being shook. In the dim light of a small lantern in a muscular hand he could make out Kalei, fully dressed in European clothes, making a shushing gesture with his lips. Edwin scrunched his face up to let this interrupter of sleep know that his intrusion was not very welcome and that he better have a good reason for this disturbance.

Kalei huskily whispered, “Do not wake the others. The boat is here to take you and me to the meeting. Get dressed and gather your crates of books.”

“Just us?” Edwin whispered back.

“Just us. Come. Now.”

“Where are we headed?” Edwin asked as he snuck a foot out in the dark and nudged Erasmus.

Kalei hesitated to answer. “If you must know, we are going to Mokoli
ʻi. Now get dressed in good clothes, like I have.”

As Edwin quietly clambered out of his blankets, he saw Erasmus covertly wink an acknowledgement.

Flourish Break


Edwin ducked as he climbed the two misshapen stairs that lead out of the storage building, taking care to fit his tall frame through the squat beam-framed doorway. He stood and took in the eastern night sky, which hinted that it knew of the approaching sun, but only barely. With a set of pats he double-checked that he had properly hidden two knives in the sleeves of his coat and a short personal sword, which fit perfectly in a leather pocket down his back. He started his hike down to the beach.

The two-hulled boat was beached on the ocean’s sandy shore. Kalei stood next to it and a strapping young Hawaiian was busying himself to prepare the craft for launch. Edwin struggled to carry the crates of books, but successfully made it across the sand and placed them carefully into the boat.

Kalei pointed to one of the seats. “Have a seat, my friend. We are going to make the deal of a lifetime.”

“That is odd,” Edwin thought. “There is a good chance I will sell my books, or perhaps instruct the King’s men, but what is this momentous deal he is talking about?”

Edwin did as he was told, found his seat, and the young man pushed off. Edwin glanced back, wondering if the theories in his finely appointed book had prepared him for what was ahead.




Coming Apart at the Seams

Entry for January 22, 2014 Written by Katherine L. Morse

Drake stretched as if he had just awakened rather than having lain thinking for the last thirty minutes. He wanted to ensure that he had waited long enough that anyone watching the activities in their hut wouldn’t suspect that he was aware of Edwin’s departure. He rolled over to kiss his fiancée’s forehead softly. “Are you awake?” he whispered once he was close enough that only Sparky could hear.

“As you have been for half an hour,” she mumbled in a fictitiously sleepy voice. “Good morning, darling,” she said loudly enough for any eavesdroppers. She hugged him and pressed her lips to his ear, “You breathe differently when you think.” She smiled archly at him and winked.

They shuffled around for a few minutes getting dressed and straightened up as much as possible in their primitive accommodations. They headed directly to the river to wash up. Under cover of the burbling water, Erasmus continued, “Stay close to Pa’ele today. I’ll shadow Keō as much as he will let me. Yesterday’s visitors and Edwin’s precipitous departure with Kalei tell me we are running out of time to sort this tangled mess. Try to determine if Pa’ele knows anything about Keō’s meeting yesterday.”

Keō accosted Drake and McTrowell the instant they returned to the fort, “Where is Mr. Llewellyn?” The adventuring duo both had to suppress knowing smiles; it was clear the Hawaiians’ clandestine enterprise was coming apart at the seams.

Drake played ignorant, “I have no idea. He was gone when we awoke.”

McTrowell offered with a hint of sarcasm, “Perhaps he’s staving off boredom by exploring.”

Drake suppressed the urge to scowl at Sparky’s petulance. “Perhaps I can be of some assistance locating him. Shall we?,” he waved his arm in the general direction away from the fort. Keō stomped away along the path with the chief inspector in his wake. Sparky continued into the enclosure in search of Pa’ele. She didn’t have far to look. He was just inside the wall sorting huge lava rocks and arranging them to reconstruct a collapsed building.

“This is an interesting pastime. Is this what you do for fun?”

His initial reply was a sweaty frown. “If the king wants to use this fort, it needs repair.”

Sparky nodded. At least it would be easy to get him on her subject of choice. “Does the king have plans to use the fort?” Pa’ele shrugged noncommittally. “This king of yours has very mysterious plans. If he doesn’t trust you or Keō, whom does he trust?”

“Dr. Judd.”

“I’ve heard the name. Do you think we’ll get to meet him?” He reprised his marginally communicative shrug. She needed to stir things up a bit. “I wonder if those were his messengers meeting with Keō yesterday.” That got his attention. He nearly dropped his jagged black burden on his own foot in surprise. He tried to recover his nonchalant composure, but he was a terrible actor.

Rather than answer, he began visually searching the immediate area, “Where is Keō?”

“He and Drake are searching for Mr. Llewellyn.”

“The Englishman is missing?”

“I’m not sure he’s missing. He’s just not about.” She let him think about that for a moment or two before asking casually, “Have you seen Kalei this morning?”

The mere suggestion that Kalei was also missing induced immediate panic on Pa’ele’s face. She was now certain that all three Hawaiians were pursuing separate, and not necessarily complementary, objectives. She needed to locate Drake and report her findings. Just as she was concocting an excuse to extricate herself, Pa’ele announced, “I will find him.” And off he went. She took the opportunity to follow the path taken by Keō and Erasmus.

Sparky had only been walking a few minutes when she encountered her quarry returning. Keō was visibly perturbed, but Drake was composed. She surmised that he too had made progress in his investigation. Thinking quickly she realized that if she stopped, they would too, and any subsequent conversation would transpire on the path. That wouldn’t be as effective an outcome as she and Drake needed. She slowed her pace so she was strolling when they actually met. Rather than coming to a complete halt, she gave Drake a glancing peck on the cheek and resumed her stroll, but in the direction of the fort. The two men had no choice except to follow her subtle lead.

She set an equally leisurely pace for the conversation, “Lovely day, isn’t it?”

Drake played along. “Yes, my dear, quite balmy.”

“What shall we do to pass the time?” She could fairly hear Keō grinding his teeth as he picked up the pace.

“Whatever your pleasure is, my love,” Drake continued, quirking up one side of his moustache in a sly pantomime smile.

As Sparky had hoped, Pa’ele hove into view as they approached the fort. She waited until they were just within earshot before asking loudly, “Any sign of Edwin?”

“No, my dear. No one we encountered had seen him and he is rather hard to miss. I cannot imagine where he has gotten to. I’m not worried, though. He is quite capable of taking care of himself.” They could both tell from the look on Pa’ele’s face that he had heard everything they’d just said.

Without introduction, Pa’ele demanded of Keō, “Where is Kalei?”

Keō looked like his head would explode with rage, “What?! He’s gone?”

McTrowell offered helpfully, “I haven’t seen him all morning.”

We must leave for Kualoa Valley immediately,” Keō barked.

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