Easter Island Mystery
By Anne Azel
To Tory as promised. (Sort of)
For those who have not read The Encounter Series or Seasons here is a list of characters:
Gunnul Dedeman: Turkish. Partner of Jamie Dedeman (business partner in Dedeman Enterprises) who had been married to her brother before his death. Gunnul is rich and the head of an old and influential family. The family money comes from many interests including opium production for medical use.
Christy Dedeman: Dual citizenship. Biological daughter of Jamie and raised with Gunnulís help.
Robbie Williams: Canadian. Famous actor and director. Married to Janet Williams (educator and principal of the Bartlett School of Film). They each had a daughter that they have raised together, Ryan and Rebecca.
Aliki Pateas: Canadian. Forensic scientist and RCMP officer. Partner to Dawn Freeman (the best selling novelist), adoptive mother to MacKenzie Freeman. Half sister to Robbie Williams.
Ryan Williams: Canadian astronaut and scientist.
MacKenzie Freeman: Canadian with Salish Indian blood. Engaged to Ryan Williams and an up and coming mystery writer following in her mother, Dawn Freemanís steps.
Easter Island Mystery
Part 1 Easter Island Arrivals
Gunnul looked out of the plane window moodily. The vast expanse of the South Pacific rolled below her. Her destination was three thousand miles off the coast of Chile. Easter Island was forty-five square miles of volcanic peaks surround by endless ocean and yet for a brief time an amazing culture had flourished in one of the most isolated places in the world.
Her uneasiness came from her daughterís obvious fixation on the myths and culture of Easter Island. The massive stone figures with their backs to the sea had intrigued travellers and scientists for years. Gunnul could understand this but as a devout Moslem she fretted that her daughter would be influenced but what she saw as pagan ways. It wasnít that she was intolerant. Her partner, Jamie, was a Christian and she and their daughter Christy had often joined Jamie in services when they were visiting Jamieís friends in America. Her home country of Turkey lived with one foot in Europe and one in the Middle East. It was a country that embraced differences.
When she had seriously expressed her concern to, Jamie the other woman had laughed and given her a big hug.
"Donít you worry, Gunnul. Christy is just interested in people and cultures: she is not going to change her belief in God. I wish I could go with you but someone has to over see the opium harvest."
She wished Jamie was with her. She did not feel complete without the small woman at her side. She felt uneasy and she knew that their remarkable daughter felt the same. Christy had grown up to be a beautiful young woman. At twenty-four she turned heads where ever she went. Gunnul would feel better if Christy was betrothed by now. She had made arrangements, with Jamieís consent, for Christy to be courted by a young man whom she thought was most suitable but Christy had not been interested. She had insisted that she wished to finish her university studies before settling down. Jamie has respected and supported her daughterís decision and so Gunnul had been disappointed.
"Iíve found another one."
Christyís voice interrupted Gunnulís musings as she slid into her first class seat beside her mother.
"Another one of the Others. This one looks like you. Sheís Robbie Williamsí half sister. Her nameís Aliki."
Gunnul looked around the first class compartment. Across from her, a Chilean man had fallen asleep reading his book. They were the only three in the compartment as the other two couples had got off in Chile.
"Sheís back in the economy section." Christy explained and saw Gunnulís frown of disapproval. Gunnul would have seen to it that any member of her family travelled first class, not out of snobbery but out of a need to care and protect those she loved. Robbie Williams was a very wealthy woman and this was her sister.
"Iíve read about Doctor Aliki Pateas. She has been involved in a number of issues involving the Williams family. She has been very supportive."
Christy knew this was high praise from her mother. Supporting your family was fundamental to Gunnul Dedemanís world view. As head of a large and extended family, Gunnul took such matters very seriously.
"We are going to run into quite a few the of Williams clan on the island, including Robbie and Ryan. It will be nice to see them again."
"I hope under better circumstances," muttered Gunnul, remembering the strange events that took place around their visit to England where they had first met the famous actor-director and her family. Their eyes met as each remembered those events. Unexplained things had happened the day they had visited Stone Henge. Strange things. Things that only Christy, who seemed to have some inner power, seemed to completely understand. Gunnulís feeling of uneasiness grew.
"Donít worry Mom. Everything will be alright in the end. Iím sure of this."
"You knew that we would run into the Williams again on Easter Island?" Gunnul asked.
Christy considered. "No, not really, although I suspected that would be the case. What I did know was that Ryan would be there. I always know where she is. We have this bond."
Gunnul stirred uneasily.
"Is this about what happened in England?"
"No, thatís over. But itís something. Something not right. Iím just not sure what."
For a second Christyís knowing eyes met Gunnulís.
Gunnul looked away and changed the subject.
"Why are the Williams on Easter Island?"
"Ryan is training there. She is going to do a practice landing of a shuttle training craft on Easter Island. It seems it is one of NASAís emergency landing strips. They have a runway there that is four miles long. Aliki is going to join her daughter MacKenzie, who is already there. Alikiís wife, Dawn Freeman couldnít come because sheís on a speaking tour. Their daughter, MacKenzie, is Ryanís partner."
Christy provided all this information about Aliki in an offhand manner. She had a way of getting amazing amounts of information from people without even trying.
Gunnul looked at her daughter with troubled eyes. There had been a special bond forged between Christy and Ryan and she knew they kept in touch. She had always wondered if it was this bond that had kept Christy from marrying. Christy gave no reaction at all. She busied herself selecting a magazine to read from the seat pocket in front of her.
Several hours later, the plane glided above the ocean and touched down on the airstrip on the top of a high cliff. They braked and slowly turned to pull up to a small terminal among rolling pasture land.
The air was clean and fresh and the sound of the sea surrounded them as they made their way across the tarmac to the simple terminal. Once they had picked up their luggage, they made their way to the van that had been sent from the hotel to pick them up.
It was only a short ride down a dirt road to their lodge that sat on a high bluff over looking the ocean below. On the way they had passed a Moai one of the famous massive figures that stood on a stone ridge staring across the rugged fields that was Easter Island.
"The book Iím reading said the statues walk at night. Do you think they walk, Mom?" Christy asked Gunnul with a twinkle in her eye.
Christy laughed and Gunnul scowled playfully at her. Her daughter was always teasing her.
MacKenzie looked at the night sky, enjoying the warm ocean breeze that played at her hair. Tomorrow Major Ryan Williams would pilot the Space Shuttle and bring it in for a landing on this remote island. Her multi-million dollar glider would be strapped to the back of a 747 and piggybacked over the ocean. Five miles up the shuttle would be released and Ryan would have to bring the glider into a safe landing on this speck of land in the centre of the ocean. There was no engines on the shuttle and no second chance. Ryan would have to hit the runway the very first time while battling the dangerous and unpredictable ocean winds.
Being a mission specialist had not been enough for Ryan. She had put her remarkable mind to the creation of a new guidance system that would greatly improve navigation aboard space craft and had won the right to train as a NASA pilot. For Ryan, it was one big adventure. For Mac it was one big worry. Being the partner of an astronaut was knowing that every day could be the last.
"You okay, Kiddo?"
Mac turned to see Robbie Williams standing behind her.
"Yes, Iím fine."
"You were lost in thought."
"Iím worried. Iím always worried. My fly-girl lives by the seat of her pants."
Robbie came up and hugged her future daughter-in-law.
"Yeah, I know that feeling. I owe a lot of my grey hair to my daughterís adventurous lifestyle. Still, we were all pretty proud of Ryan and the research she did aboard the space station. I wish Janet and Reb could be here too but Janet felt it was important to be there to get Rebecca settled at university. Its hard to believe that our youngest is nearly grown up."
"Iím sure Reb particularly is really bummed that she canít be here. Ryanís time on the International Space Station was the longest three months of my life. I was hoping sheíd quit once sheíd been in space but then she got this idea about the new nav system and there was no stopping her until sheíd tried it. I bet she canít sleep tonight. Sheíll just be wiggling with excitement to sit in that cockpit tomorrow and take command."
"No, none. I love Ryan with all my heart and when sheís actually on planet Earth we have a great relationship. Itís just not easy, thatís all. Not easy at all."
"I came to tell you that I was just in the lobby. Aliki has arrived and is unpacking. Aah, she met Christy Dedeman on the plane. She and Gunnul is here on business."
Mac looked at Robbie sharply.
"The famous Christy Dedeman? The strange love of my partnerís youth? So I finally get to meet the mystery woman. What does she look like?"
Robbie grimaced comically. "Sheís gorgeous. She seems very nice too."
"My luck." Mac laughed.
"Youíre pretty damn gorgeous yourself, you know."
"Thanks, Robbie, but I think you have a bias. I guess we should be heading in."
Together they walked along the cliff edge towards their private villa enjoying the beauty of the moon shining on the endless waves of the South Pacific.
There were only three of them aboard the next day. Dave, her co-pilot, was a lanky New Englander whose first ship had been a sailing dingy at the age of five. Sawyer was in the nav seat. Heíd only recently joined the program and talked and acted too much like a fighter pilot for Ryanís liking. As a woman and a Canadian commanding an American ship, she found that she was always having to prove her worth.
Although they were going for a free ride on top of a 747, Ryan made it very clear that they would fill in their time by checking and rechecking their data basis and instrument panels and rehearsing one more time their landing sequences.
"I could land my Tomcat on a storm tossed deck with less trouble," muttered Sawyer.
"Not and live," Dave responded with a laugh. Ryan said nothing.
The radio cracked. "Major Williams, deployment in five minutes and counting."
Ryan looked at her team and smiled. "Lets bring the baby home, gentlemen."
The three focussed on the job at hand. Ryan rubbed her temple. She had a sudden shooting pain above her right ear. This was a hell of a time to get one of her headaches.
"Three, two, one, wheel locks released, test shuttle one, you are clear."
"Roger that." Ryan lifted her craft from the back of the 747.
They would glide for some fifteen minutes before making their approach to Easter Island. Ryan kept the nose of her craft steady on the trajectory as Sawyer provided the navigational adjustments. Dave Hardt handled the communications with the tower.
"ETA in ten minutes, Major."
"I have visual."
"Shit, Iíve seen postage stamps bigger than that," muttered Hardt.
"Youíve got some cross winds north-by north-east. Gusting between fifteen and twenty knots."
"I can feel them. Landing procedures, gentlemen. Gear down." The wind roared around them as Ryan slowed her craft while they steadily lost altitude. The pain in her head was worse now and she felt slightly dizzy.
She forced her mind to focus and rechecked her instrument panel, upset to see that things seemed slightly blurry. She considered handing command over to Dave Hardt, then vetoed the idea. She was in good enough shape to make this landing. It was only a headache. Besides, she had worked too hard for this chance to hand it over now. Steadily she reduced her altitude and curved to bring her craft in line with the runway. The strip came to the edge of the cliff and Ryan brought them in low to avoid the cross winds and gain some stability from the updrafts. Steady, touchdown. Ryan felt her rear wheel carriage kiss the ground and roll gently onto the runway. She lowered her craftís nose until they were hurtling down it.
"Deploy parachute," Ryan ordered.
The sudden drag snapped them back in their seats and Ryan nearly threw-up with pain. Swallowing bile, she applied the brakes, bringing her craft to a halt right on the button.
"Nice flying, Ryan," Sawyer called from the Nav con.
Dave Hardt leaned towards Ryan.
"No, Iíve got a migraine. Damn. Just what I needed. It came on really suddenly. Letís get the hatch open and see to the post flight check with the landing crew."
Many on the small island had come to see the training shuttle make its landing. Standing along the fence with them were the Dedemans who had walked down from their lodge early to see the landing.
Mac, Aliki and Robbie, as family members, stood out on the tarmac as guests of the Chilean and US governments. They saw the craft first as a small white dot against the blue sky. Gradually, it grew in size coming in low over the water as it lowered its landing gear. The wings swayed up and down in the unpredictable cross-winds but Robbie and her family watched with pride as Ryan dropped her craft right on the hash lines in a smooth, even landing and roared past them down the long strip.
Robbie beamed with pride.
"Did you see that? Did you see that? Can our kid fly or what?"
Aliki, who had been reunited with her family the night before, gave her adopted daughter a gentle hug. She could feel the tension seeping out of Mac as she smiled weakly now that her partner was safely back on land. Aliki looked over at her half sister Robbie Williams. She could see the tension still in the directorís face. Behind the facade of pride and happiness, Robbie had been as scared as Mac.
"I guess we might as well head back to the hotel. Ryan will be doing her post-flight check and report and wonít be able to join us for a bit," Mac stated.
Robbie looked rebellious, wanting to be part of the action, but Mac gave her a tug and the family headed towards the mini bus that waited to take them back to their lodge. Along the way Robbie stopped and signed autographs good naturedly, signing each, Roberta Williams, mother of the astronaut Major Ryan Williams.
"Oh boy", Aliki had muttered, laughing at what she saw her sister was writing. They piled on the bus and headed off just around the time that the Dedemans left to walk back to the hotel.
We are stone. Timeless warriors and protectors of our people. Through our eyes shines the strength of our life blood. Our bellies feed on our enemies. Fear to those who are our enemies. We walk at night.
That afternoon, Gunnul left Christy in the village to shop and drove the rented car to a house on the outskirts of the small community.
As she got out, an old man, bow legged in worn sandals and crumpled shorts, his face etched by the wind and sea, opened the screen door for her.
"You have come."
"I said I would."
"Gunnul Dedeman is a woman of her word. All say so. Please sit down. I have coffee made."
Gunnul waited politely as the necessary welcomes were seen to. Such things were important and a sign of culture and politeness. At last, when they had drank their coffee and talked of their families and mutual business associates, Gunnul brought up the reason for her visit.
"Alfonso Ayala, you wrote me that you felt you were in danger. I came because I would not have someone I know and work with live in fear. The House of Dedeman is at your service."
The old man nodded, pleased with Gunnulís answer and honoured that she had come in person.
"It is the business that you asked me to look into."
Dark eyes snapped up. "And?"
"As you suspected, goods are being transported by plane from Chile to Easter Island, on to Fiji and then into Australia. The plane comes twice a week carrying mostly tourists and mail. But on each plane there are five boxes with the Dedeman label containing, according to the invoices, Chilean wines. I have not opened any of these boxes. They are in transit and can not be touched but I see them in the cargo bay when I help unload the tourist luggage."
"Thank you for this information. But why could you not put this in an email? Why do you fear for your life, Alfonso Ayala?"
"There is more to tell. The shipping label is Chilean but the boxes not. No, these boxes were made in Columbia, of this I am sure."
The old man shrugged.
"Are you afraid of the drug lords?"
"No Gunnul Dedeman. I am afraid of the evil spirits. I have seen them in the night. They will kill me."
"I wonít allow that."
"You can not stop them. My ancestral chiefs, their stones lie in ruins but those of my peopleís enemies now stand again. Few here remember, but I remember. My grandfather told me and his grandfather told him of the old ways. I remember. And now the spirits of our enemies have risen. I have seen them. I am dead."
Gunnul leaned forward and took the old manís hand.
"You have my word that I will try my best to protect you. If I fail, I will care for your family and do honour to your name."
"It is done then. I am happy. You now have the information you have paid me to learn and I have peace. I know that the word of Gunnul Dedeman is good."
While Robbie, handled some business issues over the phone with her partner, Janet, back in Canada, Ryan and Mac walked into the town. Ryan had arrived at their hotel early last evening, happy but looking pale and drawn. She had complained of a headache and Mac had insisted that the two of them retire early. Even today, Ryan did not look well. She had been down at the air strip early this morning to see the training shuttle being lifted by a massive crane back on top of the 747 for its ride home to the US. Sheíd taken the afternoon off though to spend with Mac.
Ryan had eaten little for lunch and MacKenzie had suggested a walk to get some fresh sea air in the hopes that it might ease Ryanís headache.
"Do you think I could be having a stroke or something?"
Mac stopped dead on the dirt road and looked at her partner in horror.
"Do you feel that sick? Because if you do, we need to be getting you to a proper medical facility as soon as possible."
"No, no, Iím not feeling in any danger. Itís just I have numb toes on my left side and yesterday my vision was blurry and I felt dizzy as well as having a headache. Itís all small things really that didnít last long but they are symptoms of stroke."
Mac wrapped her arm around Ryanís. "You need to report this to your military medical team and as soon as we head home weíll get you into the doctors. You had a serious head injury as a child. I think we need to take even small symptoms seriously. Do you want to head back and lie down?"
"No, No. I feel okay. I just have a headache and feel a little off today. Its nothing serious. The exercise and air will do me good. Besides, here we are on Easter Island. I want to enjoy it with you."
The two of them walked on, Ryan now going into detail about her flight the day before as they turned into the open air market at the edge of the small village.
A beautiful woman ran up to Ryan and they fell into each otherís arms, holding each other close and kissing each other on each cheek. Ryan was beaming with delight and chatting away to the woman in what Mac assumed was Turkish, for this could only be the mysterious Christy Dedeman.
Ryan turned and looked at Mac and then with a smile talked to her in Turkish.
"Ryan, I donít understand."
Ryan looked confused.
It was Christy who took Ryanís arm and gave her a bit of a shake.
"I am sorry. I am Christy Dedeman and you must be MacKenzie Freeman. Ryan talks of you all the time."
Confused, Mac took the extended hand.
"Hello, Christy. Iím glad we got to meet. Ryan never told me that she speaks Turkish."
It was Ryan who looked confused now.
"Ryan does not speak Turkish."
"But, I heard her."
"No, you see it is because we are one. She is part of me and I of her and so she knows my language when we touch."
Ryan touched her temple and looked both worried and embarrassed.
"Thatís not logical," Ryan muttered.
"No it isnít," laughed Christy happily. "But come. I have found a lovely café by the harbour. We must talk, no?"
They sat by the ocean and enjoyed a fine Chilean wine with a salty goats cheese and fresh greens. Ryan and Christy talked and laughed a lot mostly in English but sometimes in Turkish. Mac said little. Her heart was heavy. The bond between her partner and this Turkish woman was very strong. And why not? After all Dr. Ryan Williams had followed in the legendary familyís tradition. She was a brilliant scientist, a successful astronaut and played the violin well enough to play professionally. Christy Dedeman was beautiful, international in her upbringing, well read and by all accounts fabulously rich. More than that, there was a certain charismatic power about her that was almost hypnotizing. Mac realized that together they would be an amazing team.
What do I have to offer Ryan? Nothing that could remotely compare to this wonderful and exotic woman.
"Now Ryan. You must please see to finding us a taxi to go back to our hotels. The sun is so high and it is far too hot for us to walk. Please."
Mac watched Ryan do Christyís bidding with a worried frown.
"Please, we have little time. You must listen," Christy said earnestly, taking Macís arm.
"There is trouble. I do not know what but I feel my mother does. She is here on more than regular business this I am sure. But I sense the danger is not with us but with Ryan. Something is wrong. Very wrong. Do you know anything about this?"
Mac was shocked and confused by this sudden change in topic.
"Well, Ryan hasnít been feeling well."
"Yes, this I know. She must go to a doctor, Mac. You must make her. She will not want to. She pretends not to have weaknesses. But no, it is more than this. The statues walk."
"I know it sounds ridiculous and yet this is the phrase that keeps going through my head. The statues walk. I fear for Ryan."
Mac swallowed hard.
"You and Ryan, you are still close?"
"Always! She is like my twin. As teenagers we shared a moment...it is difficult to explain. I can only tell you that she is my sister and I hers. We are of different blood and yet it is the closest of bonds that joins our souls as if it was blood."
"Of course! Do you think anyone could replace you in Ryanís heart? That is not possible."
"MacKenzie, you must make sure Ryan is safe. I have a bad feeling. Please."
Mac nodded seriously. It all seemed so improbable and yet you couldnít help believing Christy.
They dropped Christy off at her lodge and went on to their villa.
"Iím glad you got to meet Christy Dedeman, Mac. Isnít she something else?"
"She is certainly beautiful."
"Yes, she is, but more than that she has...well, this power that comes from within. You know what I mean?"
"She knows things. She knows peopleís souls."
"You are speaking very romantically for some one with the heart of a pragmatic scientist."
Ryan looked surprised.
"Science is all about the romance of the universe. You just donít understand."
"So I am beginning to understand," responded Mac moodily. Ryan didnít seem to notice.
Despite her worry and jealousy, she did heed Christyís warning and kept a close eye on Ryan for the rest of the day.
Continued - Part 2
The Bard's Corner
Australian Xena Information Page