REMAINS      An Al Hunter Thriller        By Gary O. Walker



The star appeared during the night, a stranger in the vast skies which stretch endlessly over the deep blue expanse of waters now known as the Pacific Ocean.  Each evening the star swelled and brightened, and when it came close enough grew a glowing tail until it resembled a fish swimming in near stasis across the heavens.  Beneath the immense canopy of sky lay a chain of islands, the most remote and isolated land to be found on this watery planet.  The people of these islands had no written symbols but recorded their myths and history in chants.  One chant harbored the legend of this particular celestial object; singing of its emergence once in each lifetime from the dark void beyond the heavens.  A mighty omen, the Star-With-a-Tail announced the greatest event of each generation.  What always remained unknown was whether the portent would be one of great good or great evil.

The shaman priests, the kahuna, preserved the chants in their memories and the worried people beseeched them for wisdom and guidance.  Drawing on all their skills and magic, they prophesied the birth of a great warrior chief.  He would slay lesser chiefs and rise to be a king among chiefs.  He would be the bringer of a New Way.  The prophecy carried a mixed message.  Though much good was destined to come, as usual, it would be at a terrible price.  Those in power responded predictably, ordering the slaughter of all high born male infants.  And, of course, the one they truly sought to kill escaped unharmed.

The infant’s mother hid the child, entrusting her most loyal servant to smuggle him by night to a hidden valley far from his birthplace where a kinswoman raised him in secret.  He was called Paiea, the hard shelled crab.  The old Hawaiians did not name their children until their first birthday when their personality began to exert itself and they could give the child a logical and appropriate name.  The hard shelled crab is indomitable, able to cling to the slippery rocks even in the most turbulent surf.Ever watchful, clever, quick and agile, the crab was resilient enough to survive all but a perfectly placed and powerful blow.  Then, in death, the armored crustacean released power to nourish even a warrior.

Twenty years passed and the boy became a man.  The prophesy began to blossom.  The events that unfolded changed life in Hawaii forever.  He was renamed Kamehameha, usually translated as the “lonely one.”  In a less empathetic culture his name might have been rendered the “chosen one.”  The omen proved true.

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