Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#Teasertuesday entry. Thanks for reading. Extra thanks for commenting. I appreciate the time and consideration.



This is a flashback D.T. Rhysing has at a critical juncture in the story. In this scene the Argo, an experimental submarine he was serving aboard, has smashed into the sea floor four hundred and twenty feet below the surface. All the crew save D.T. and Brendan Braddock are dead in an undersea inferno that is consuming the interior of their submarine.

They have only one way to escape and they have taken it, leaving the Argo by a partially open hatch in a maintenance bay. The maneuver is called a free ascent. No air tanks, no second chances and only seconds to spare. As they begin their long ascent the Argo implodes below them....

The Bones of the King - CHAPTER 133 - Newborn

The ring of gas expanded below, followed closely by a billowing column of bubbles that rose to slowly surround them. D.T. could feel the warmth they carried through his skin. Brendan was shouting out words, expelling a trail of bubbles from his hood. The Argo was obscured for a while but showed briefly after the plume dispersed. The blocky shape merged with the blue bottom, becoming just another pattern of shadow and light and then they were alone in midwater, save for an ever shifting cloud of tiny, oscillating bubbles which grew in size as they watched, calving and calving again as the surface drew nearer.

D.T. kept up the litany of airway opening okays, a minimalist prayer of supplication whispered in a vast and beautiful cathedral. Brendan’s muffled shouting and the muted melody of air moving through the sea could not drown out the constant kettledrum rumbling of the Argo. It seemed to come from all directions at once, remote and distant yet clear and sharp in his ears. D.T. felt as though he was suspended motionless between the silver sky and the indigo depths, no more or less significant than any of the plankton through whose realm he was passing. He felt no need to breathe despite having been ascending for what seemed a long while. Including their time in the maintenance bay and factoring in an ascent rate of eight feet per second he knew their journey would take no more than a minute and a half, but, if pressed to, he would later say that it seemed much longer.

After a time D.T. began to be able to pick out the finer details of the waves moving across the surface as the blue around him gradually lightened. They had passed through over three hundred feet of water and were getting closer to light and life when D.T. felt something in the darkness calling him, urging him to stay behind and be a part of the unhurried and eternal rhythm of the sea. So real was the feeling that he gasped and almost held his breath, an action that would have had swift and fatal consequences. The rush of adrenaline his fear set coursing through him made him kick out desperately. The last fifty feet passed in a rush, full of anticipation of success and equal parts dread that something would arrest his ascent just before he reached the surface.

In the final seconds D.T. screamed out under water and shot into the air, arms wind milling as though he was climbing an invisible ladder, eyes still straining upward as his lungs sucked in fresh air. He fell back into the embrace of the sea and cried, newborn in the blinding light of the hot tropical sun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Courage in the dark

Happy Tuesday everyone.

I've posted some long chapters over the past weeks and many of you have read them like the troopers you are. To reward the faithful, this post is short.

Thank you for reading and commenting, especially the Arkansas crew.



The Bones of the King CHAPTER 118 Courage in the dark

Kaiulani thought of her coming death and hung her head and sobbed.

The thought of her life ending and the long march of time continuing without her were too much to bear. She did not want to become someone else’s memory. Life was too precious. She would miss her mother and Noah and her young cousins flocking around her during hula classes at Kawaihae. She would miss the dawn swims and the view of the moon rising over the mountain month after month in its endless cycle. Alone in the darkness and afraid, Kaiulani reached out to the only source of solace she knew in times of trouble.

She was a descendant of warriors proud and strong, members of a race that had found its way to Hawaii in open hulled canoes guided by navigators the likes of which the world would never see again. They had suffered and died, yes, but they had lived and loved and survived. Her story was their story and their strength was hers. She reminded herself she was being watched and stopped crying. Kaiulani raised her head. Whatever fate awaited her, she would face it with eyes undimmed by tears. She would not give al Shar the pleasure of seeing her cower and she would fight for her life and the lives of those she loved.

Summoning the courage of her ancestors, Kaiulani steeled herself and waited for the ordeal to come.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

At Play in the Home of her Ancestors

Thanks to your comments a new name for D.T. Rhysing's submarine has been found. Formerly the Hot Runner, a name only a submariner could love, his creation and one of the central characters of The Bones of the King has been changed to DreamWeaver. Let me know what you think.

This chapter is an introduction to Kaiulani. Free spirit and child of the sea.

Please read and comment. Your input is very much appreciated.




Kaiulani Spencer stood quietly beneath the palm grove at the southern end of the beach at Anaeho’omalu Bay and listened to the trade winds rustling the fronds high above her. The eastern sky was molten silver, heralding the imminent arrival of the sun. Giving thanks to the gods of her ancestors and the spirits of all who went before her for the gift of another day, Kaiulani walked down the gentle slope into the cool water. Small waves broke against her knees and the sand between her toes was rough and pebbly. Kaiulani enjoyed the dawn like no other time. The beach was usually deserted and even when there were people about they seemed to be of the same mind, quiet and contemplative, respectful of the majesty of a new day beginning.

Diving into the low surf, Kaiulani swam down to the sandy bottom and stroked hard for the mouth of the bay. A school of manini parted as she approached, eyeing her warily but sensing that she posed no threat. Surfacing for air like a breaching dolphin, Kaiulani swam with a fluid grace, her sleek frame gliding through the gradually clearing water until she saw the start of the coral reef twenty-five feet below. Once more she dove, clearing her ears as she descended to her favorite spot, a graceful arch of coral growing on a foundation of jumbled basalt fragments.

Cradling a stone block the size of a football in her lap, Kaiulani sat cross legged on the sand and let herself become one with morning in the bay. The dirge like cadence of individual Ulu taking rasping bites of lobe coral sounded on top of a back beat of clicks and chirps of the pod of Nai’a heading to Kiholo for their morning play. The low thunder of the surf at 69’s came faintly beneath the staccato snap of shrimp and merged with the distant sound of a charter boat’s propellers. Each sound spoke to her, telling her about the day and much that was happening in and on the body of water she called home.

The world was peaceful and she sensed it in every cell of her body. Her heart’s lazy throb mixed with the other sounds and she willed it to slow to match the unhurried pace of life beneath the waves. The longest she had ever held her breath at this depth was three and a half minutes. Today she would hit two and half easily. It was a but short time in the morning on the reef, yet starting her day thus always helped to remind her that Hawaii was far more than the Aina. The land was but a dot in the middle of a vast blue world whose inhabitants knew nothing of the empty space above it. Kaiulani counted herself fortunate to be able to visit the ocean with such regularity.

A stirring of cold water brushed against her back. Kaiulani knew that if she had a mask on she would see a distinct swirling distortion created by freshwater welling up and out of the seabed and mixing with salt water. There was a spring behind her, one of many that could be found through careful searching by a patient swimmer. Long ago her ancestors had taken large gourds, called hoewai or ipu, with holes at either end and placed them directly over such outflows. When the more buoyant freshwater had displaced all the salt water from the gourd, they would plug both ends and swim to the surface and then to shore bearing the precious cargo. Through ingenuity and an intimate knowledge of their environment, they were able to make Anaeho’omalu into a thriving community, one that had been continually inhabited for over eight hundred years. Hawaiians were a wonderfully inventive people, children of the land and the sea, and Kaiulani Spencer reveled in being one of them.

When she felt her lungs pulsing Kaiulani put the stone down and slowly floated toward the surface. As the sky drew closer she realized not for the first time that she was as relaxed as it was possible to be without sleeping. Her body seemed to sense this and even her lungs quit urging her to inhale. Pulling with her arms and kicking hard, Kaiulani surged upward, exhaling just before she cleared the surface. Crossing the boundary separating two worlds, Kaiulani inhaled a huge breath and took in the view from her offshore vantage point.

Sunlight sparkled on the water as she floated. A few early risers had made their way down to the beach chairs and were settling in for their morning’s sun worship. She wondered if she would be teaching one or two of them later. Beyond the palms to the south a lone man walked along the lava and sand that formed the shoreline. He had the look of a local; long-sleeved shirt and straw hat to protect him from the sun, surf trunks and tabis, the black rubber split toe reef walkers popular with some shore fisherman. Up by the showers she could make out Chris Pope and Kimo Andrade, two of the staff hired by Noah, her brother, and D.T. Rhysing at the outset of operations of their company. Chris and Kimo were walking a pair of hydrospeeders on their lightweight trailers down to the waters edge. To the north the trade winds had flattened the clouds above the Kohala range and were ripping shreds off of them that were driven downslope and out to sea. Their wispy remnants faded above the black lava flows that surrounded the bay and then regained some of their lost moisture as they sped out to sea. It was going to be a great day for windsurfers and a murky day for snorkelers. The happy medium was going to be SCUBA diving. Kaiulani smiled. She was happiest when she was in the water teaching, swimming, or playing, it didn’t matter which to her.

Kaiulani and her brother had been working as beach attendants when D.T. Rhysing had shown up one day and started drawing diagrams of his submarine in the wet sand. Before the incoming tide erased them all an hour later he and Noah had become friends and many weeks and hundreds of drawings later they had become partners. Noah had given his two weeks notice to the beach shack supervisor and flown with D.T. to California and then to the east coast. He said he was just keeping D.T. company and it was like her brother to not seek the limelight, but she knew he was doing more than that. Noah and D.T. were shepherding the hull of the DreamWeaver, the submarine that D.T. had conjured up out of the sands of Anaeho'omalu, through its creation at a foundry and following as it went to each of the subcontractors for additional work. Noah was gone for two interminable months and Kaiulani had missed him fiercely, but she knew he was involved in a once in a lifetime opportunity and encouraged him every time he called home. When he returned, Noah was a changed person, due in large part to the responsibilities that he had taken on in the partnership with D.T.

At first she had been worried that the strange vessel they had built would claim Noah’s life somehow but in time the fear had receded. On the morning of the inaugural dive, D.T. and Noah had approached her and asked whether she would come and work for them as a pilot. She had been honored and thanked them both, but had declined. Why would she choose to work inside a steel hull when she could spend her days swimming? It was really no contest.

From that day forward Kaiulani had looked at D.T. Rhysing in a different light. She liked him and respected his knowledge and the easy way he shared what he knew with Noah. It was, she reflected more than once, a very Hawaiian thing to do. D.T. was a handsome man, tall and well muscled, but not overly so. His blond hair had a way of falling across his face as he was talking and the way he brushed it absently away always made her look at his eyes. They were a deep sea green, sometimes shifting all the way into blue in the right surroundings. He made her think more than once about what it would be like to engage in the sport of love with him, but despite this attraction she kept her distance, wary but curious at the same time.

Business for the fledgling company had grown rapidly and all had gone well until yesterday’s disaster. Kaiulani had spent a long time at the hospital reassuring herself that Noah was not hurt. He had explained again what they were searching for and told her the sad news of their discovery. How terrible for that young girl to be killed in such a fashion and then dumped into the ocean. Noah had finally convinced her to go home. He knew she would be up early and told her he did not want her over-tired on his account. His reassurances did little to put her fears to rest. The man they suspected, Sid Hart, was on the loose and had already tried to kill her brother once. Would he try again? Kaiulani wondered about this briefly but then put the question behind her.

The day was young and promised to be gorgeous. Chris and Kimo had staged the hydrospeeders and were now attending to the DreamWeaver. Mated to its transporter and looking none the worse for wear from the previous day’s troubles, the sub was entering the water for the first of the morning dives. Kaiulani smiled in anticipation and swam to a spot near a pinnacle on the north side of the bay’s mouth.

Despite declining to join the team at Manta Ray Submarines, Kaiulani had, in her own pleasurable and unique way, done her part to help the business get off the ground. What had started innocently enough in a chance encounter with the submerged sub had turned into a legend of sorts and now seemed to account for the fact that the first dive of the day was the most popular by far. By the time she was in position the DreamWeaver had taken on its two passengers and was motoring on the surface out towards the channel. As she watched, the sleek shape slipped effortlessly beneath the waves, leaving only a smooth patch of water in its now invisible wake.

Kaiulani took several deep breaths and counted slowly to thirty, then jackknifed and propelled herself gracefully down to the side of the coral pinnacle below. Once in position she quickly removed the top and bottom of her bikini and stuffed them into a crevice. She could hear the high-pitched note of the DreamWeaver’s thrusters long before she saw the sub gliding toward her through the sunlit water. Kicking hard, Kaiulani set out for the bottom and then turned on her back and watched as the DreamWeaver approached twenty feet above her. She saw the blurry visage of Chris Pope wave from the center view port and imagined with satisfaction the open mouthed astonishment of the two men on either side of him. Then the perfect symmetry of the manta shape passed overhead and she rose beneath it and positioned herself. Trailing behind the body of the sub was the manta’s tail, a thin, stiff whip-like appendage. With a surge of speed Kai reached out and grabbed the tip as it went by. Holding tight with one hand, she hitched a ride for an eternal few seconds beneath the blue bowl of the sky, a creature of delight at play in the home of her ancestors.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The noose tightens

Dear friends, followers and #teasertuesday readers. Thank you all for the time you've spent reading D.T. Rhysing's story. He would be pleased. Many of you have expressed concern about Kaiulani and whether she'll make good her escape. Rather than leave you hanging I thought I'd post this chapter so you can learn a bit more about Abdul bin al Shar and see for yourselves the growing peril D.T. and his extended family face.

The Bones of the King - CHAPTER 80 - The noose tightens

Kaiulani entered the water cleanly and allowed her momentum to carry her deep. When she saw the bottom of the Saracen she tucked under the dark overhang, exhaled some air to reduce her buoyancy and swam for all she was worth. She didn’t waste time or energy turning over, choosing instead to use the vessel's bottom as a reference as she passed beneath it. When she cleared the port side she angled up, still stroking powerfully, extending the distance between her and the yacht until finally, lungs urging her to inhale, legs and arms burning with fatigue, she surfaced using a powerful backstroke fifty feet inshore of the Saracen.

A quick glance in the yacht’s direction told her that al Shar had guessed her intent. He was standing at the port side rail watching her make good her escape. Kaiulani rolled over into a crawl and pulled hard for shore a thousand feet away. She didn’t bother to look to see how far she had to go. The bottom shelving up from the reef would tell her exactly where she was. All she had to do on this, her most important swim ever, was pour on the speed and hope.

On board the Saracen al Shar watched calmly as Kaiulani swam. She was going to be truly satisfying to take apart. He would spend a long time on her, looking for that spark that made her so much more of a woman than all the other cows he had sent to meet their maker.

“Go and fetch our guest,” Al Shar said to Ibrahim and Safwan. They disappeared aft and al Shar resumed watching Kaiulani, thinking of the blissful nights he would have with her on the long passage to Kuala Lumpur. He left the rail and went below to get dressed. After breakfast he was going to make a few calls. The first was to Darjeeling, India, to an operative they had in that city, telling him to make preparations for a kidnapping. The second was to Mr. Daniel Braddock, inquiring as to the availability of the note on the construction loan for Manta Ray Submarines. Both calls would serve to let Mr. Rhysing know that the noose was tightening and that he was dealing with someone who could not be trifled with.

As al Shar entered his stateroom, two jet skis were lowered into the water at the stern of the Saracen and dispatched after Kaiulani. She had covered more than six hundred feet before they came abreast of her just outside of the boat moorings. Kai dove once and swam as far as she could, but they were on her when she surfaced. One of the riders managed to land a glancing blow to her head with a leather cosh and Kaiulani was knocked senseless. Her inert body was easily hoisted over the gas tank of one of the nimble craft and less than a minute later she was once more aboard the Saracen.

On the bridge of the yacht the captain observed the rundown and interception of Kaiulani with relief. He secretly pitied the poor girl, but was immensely glad that they had been able to recapture her. Her life was effectively over now; she just didn’t know it yet. He had scanned the beach with binoculars during the two minutes it took to retrieve her and saw no one who might have seen what transpired. He set the binoculars down and went aft to personally supervise the transfer of the girl to the hose room. As he walked the length of the vessel the sun rose and bathed the Saracen in warm golden light.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Predator and Prey

Doing a little Time Travelling here. Moving forward in the story for a #TeaserTuesday entry that I hope will entertain you. Please comment, and, as ever, thank you for reading.



(Kaiulani Spencer, sister of Noah and friend of D.T. Rhysing, senses something is amiss with her relationship with Prince Abdul al Shar, owner of the Saracen, a super yacht anchored in Anaehoomalu Bay. Follow along as she wakes in the night, searches for answers, and comes face to face with the ultimate predator...)

The Bones of the King - CHAPTER 78 - Predator and prey

Unable to sleep and frantic with worry, Kaiulani once again crept from the prince’s bed and found her way to the video monitor two compartments away. She touched the space bar on the keyboard and the screen came to life. Another touch and a menu appeared on the left hand side of the screen. With some experimentation she was able to discern order and meaning from the prompts the program offered.

Kaiulani was, like many of her generation, very computer savvy. There was nothing about them that intimidated her so experimenting with the unit she had stumbled across presented no challenges. Only the fear of being caught at her task made her nervous.

Within five minutes she realized that she had found a series of digital feeds from security cameras in several staterooms, the crew quarters somewhere in the bowels of the ship, the engineroom and other machinery spaces. There was one tiny room she did not recognize. The only piece of furniture in it, if she could call it that, was a sturdy framework of metal in the very center. The walls were unadorned and the deck seemed to be of bare metal.

The options toolbar listed controls much like a videocassette recorder and she found a menu of recordings cross referenced to location and camera number. She selected the feed from the stateroom she had slept in and hit the scroll back icon. A time rate prompt asked her to select a speed and Kaiulani chose a high speed. With a tap on the return key the room came to life. A blurred figure hovered around the bed and then suddenly resolved into her, sleeping restlessly on her first night on board. Kaiulani slowed the rate of playback and continued to scroll backward.

It was strange to watch herself sleep, though at the speed she had chosen it didn’t look as though she was sleeping at all. Her form twisted and rolled and crawled around on the bed as though possessed. Very soon the bed was empty and perfectly made up. Kaiulani sped things up again, knowing that she was now viewing scenes that had taken place before she had come aboard the Saracen. Two cycles of light and dark went by and the scene changed rapidly.

A young woman slept peacefully in the bed, long blonde hair flowing over the pillows. Kai switched to forward motion and watched until the woman disappeared. Slowing and reversing, Kai was able to isolate the last time the woman appeared in the guest stateroom.

She was asleep, a smile playing across her features when two crewmen, one of them Ibrahim, al Shar’s bodyguard, appeared in the scene. The covers were snatched away abruptly and the naked woman woke, fear and confusion apparent in her eyes. Ibrahim pulled her roughly from the bed and all three disappeared from the view of the camera.

Kaiulani felt a jolt of fear in the pit of her stomach. She had seen enough already to tell her to get out, but she had to know more about the previous occupant of her room and, if possible, what became of her. Maybe something had happened that Kai did not understand. She had to know for sure.

Fingers flying, she rapidly created view boxes for twelve camera feeds, trying to find and use all those that were closest to the guest stateroom. She found the playback was synchronized and seamless and immediately picked up the motion of the crewmen and the woman in the small room she could not identify. The men were doing something to her, holding her hands above her head and then moving to her feet as her hands remained in the air. Kai selected that view, minimized the rest and watched in growing amazement and dread as the woman was tied to the framework that was the room’s sole feature.

Scrolling forward as fast as she could while still being able to make out what was happening, Kai began whispering to herself and rocking back and forth on the edge of the chair. The two crewmen disappeared and the woman seemed to flutter against her restraints as she tested the bonds repeatedly. Suddenly she froze and a new figure appeared in the room. Kai slowed the playback to normal speed and watched as al Shar held the woman by her chin with his left hand and caressed her hair with his right. She was trying to pull away and Kaiulani could see the muscles in al Shar’s arms tense. Without warning he jerked a huge hank of the hair from her head. The woman mouthed a silent scream and Kaiulani shivered and lowered the monitor. She had seen enough to know she didn’t want to see any more. It was beyond time to go. She had to find a way to extricate herself from al Shar’s web and then never come near the Saracen again. Noah’s friend Mike could handle things once she got away and told them everything she had seen. Something terrible had been in store for the woman in the video.

“She came to enjoy it after a time,” said a voice from behind her.

Kaiulani turned and saw al Shar in the aft doorway to the compartment. He was looking at her without expression, his eyes cold and hard, taking her measure as she realized she had been caught. Kai knew in that second that al Shar was a predator and she the prey. She had seen this scene played out too many times on the reef to expect a happy outcome. Omilu shadowed schools of weke and waited until one out of hundreds was in the wrong position, a little high above the bottom or separated from the safety of numbers. Ulua hunting Durgon or Palani were the same. For the reef fish it was always a deadly race for shelter among the lobes and fingers of coral, begun in the blink of an eye and over within seconds. Sometimes the predators started late or too far from the reef and their prey would escape and other times the prey would be caught and swiftly consumed. Of these encounters Kaiulani knew there were two givens. The first was that when the attack came it was faster than the eye could follow. The second was that the prey never ate the predator.

Kaiulani bolted.

She made it to the aft door of the compartment and ducked through it and beyond. Behind her, giving swift chase came the prince. She heard his footsteps following her headlong dash but she did not look back. Another doorway opened into a passageway that she recognized. She was on the offshore side of the Saracen, headed forward, her bare feet lightly hitting the deck, her strong young muscles straining to add impetus to her flight. Rounding a corner she came face to face with a crewman, feinted right and then ducked left, losing none of her desperate speed. A curse in Arabic and the sounds of two bodies colliding told her that al Shar had lost ground.

Ahead of her the passageway walls and the overhead framed the soft blue of the predawn sky. The only barrier between her and safety was the gleaming rail some three and a half feet high. Kaiulani hit the deck with both feet and launched herself into a dive, clearing the rail with room to spare. She arced out over the water and down, elation competing with fear as the sea came up to greet her.