When Stars Begin to Fall
"What do I think?" Jonathon Kaye shook his head. "I think it's political suicide."
Paul Jameson gave a tolerant grin that more resembled a grimace. "He is the best choice."
"I brought you dossiers on three candidates and you didn't go for any of them. The state department endorses these people." For emphasis, Kaye picked up one folder and waved it.
"Jonathon, you are from an old wealthy Island family. We have moved from the status of a protectorate to a state. Now the everyday people make the choices," Jameson reminded him.
"What the hell kind of a crack is that? I've always represented all the people of Hawaii fairly."
"Of course you have," Paul hastened to agree. "But things are different now. Crime has always been a problem in Honolulu. For the most part, officials have just looked the other way. No more. We are going to invest the resources to deal with some of the issues. We need a man who will take on the international criminal and the mainland gangster effectively. I don't see any of your people satisfying that demand."
Kaye flipped open his top folder. "This one. Gregory Reynolds. He's a tough cop, was top in his class at the academy, scored well on his lieutenant's test. A veteran officer -- and his wife is an Islander."
"No international experience," Jameson replied. Before Kaye could continue down the list, Paul pulled out the file from the bottom. "This one."
"I've looked at your dark horse. Too much military, he's not even an Islander. There will be hell to pay not only with HPD but also with the voters. November is just six months away, Paul. They'll be deciding whether or not they want you as more than a provisional leader."
"The voters again," Jameson grumbled.
"Where did you come up with him anyway?"
Jameson smiled. "God, I was hoping you'd ask. The Attorney General, Walter Stuart. They served together. And then there is the comment from your lead choice -- Chin Ho Kelley."
"What about Kelley? He's an excellent officer; Asian background doesn't hurt either. Fluent in English, Mandarin, Pidgin, and Hawaiian."
"He turned me down."
"What?" Kaye's face fell.
"I said, 'He turned me down.'" Jameson let the fact sink in. "He recommended my dark horse. I presented Kelley with the scope of the job. He told me he was very anxious to work on the task force, but not to head it up. He told me he knew about Commander McGarrett and said to follow up on Stuart's suggestion to check him out. I have. McGarrett has an excellent military record, but he has to make a choice about re-upping within the next week. He's stationed right here in Hawaii and has been for two years. He knows the Islands pretty well. He understands the mainland mindset as well. And he's been doing international law enforcing through the Naval Intelligence for over ten years. Thirty-six years old, single, knows Cold War and hot war politics and military strategy. We must have people at all levels of government that understand the military significance of this state. He does."
"He's an arrogant son of a bitch," Kaye interjected. "He makes enemies like most of us make coffee. His temper is unbelievable, you'll never get anyone to work with him."
"Well, God bless Chin Ho Kelley," Kaye remarked. "As I said before, Paul, this idea of Five-0 is a good one, but I think you'll rue the day you hired Steve McGarrett."
The hired movers left. It had not taken very long to get the used and battered furniture out of the police storage room into the office. The single office was cramped with three desks crammed into the space where one should have been. Tom Paumala, chief of HPD, had grudgingly surrendered one office in the back of the first floor next to the janitor's closet to the new department of Five-0 until better facilities could be found. One phone had been put in for the three officers, and a card board box served as file cabinet.
"Well, nothing like starting with a large budget, huh?" Steve McGarrett commented to Chin Ho Kelley as he looked around at the Spartan walls.
Kono Kalahaua, twenty-six, six foot tall and close to three hundred twenty pounds, gave an uncertain glance at the small, feeble desk chair by his desk. "I don't think this is going to work."
"Well, the Governor promises it is only temporary, so let's make the best of it," Steve offered hopefully. He placed his brief case on top of one desk. "Gentlemen, time to go to work."
Kono and Chin stood there looking at him. "What do we do?" Kono finally asked with hesitation.
"For starters, look at these." Steve pulled out a file from his attaché and handed it to him. "Both of you learn these faces. They are Chinese operatives who are known to be somewhere in the Islands. Learn their faces, their names, their MOs."
"I'll go take the morning report with HPD," Chin offered. "I'll let you know what's going on." He left.
"Good idea," Steve agreed. Very good idea since local law does not seem very enthusiastic to support Jameson's new program. Why do people always resist change, even good change? I wish Paulama and his people could understand that we are all here as a team. Last week Kelley was in their detective department and Kono was on the SWAT team, but now they are viewed like I am -- some kind of invasion. He sat down at the desk, and pulled out the set of briefs Jameson had given to him earlier.
The phone rang.
McGarrett and Kono looked at each other. Kono hesitantly reached out and picked up the receiver. "Hello...Hawaii Five-0," he announced, giving the last half somewhat belatedly. "Where?" He looked for a piece of paper unsuccessfully, then scratched the message onto the side of the cardboard box. He hung up the phone. "We need some kind of note pads in this place." He sat down on the desk chair. It promptly cracked and collapsed beneath him, landing his large frame on the floor with a crash.
McGarrett jumped up. "Are you all right?"
Kono scrambled back to his feet. "Yeah. Guess we need another chair, too." He dusted off his suit.
"The phone call?" Steve reminded him.
"Oh, yeah. Dispatcher says there's a dead body on Hotel Street behind a strip joint. She guesses it's our case now."
Is it? I thought we were doing espionage and major racketeering stuff. "Let's go check it out," Steve replied.
As they headed out the door Kono added, "While we're making the shopping list, we need a coffee pot."
There were two uniformed officers standing in the alley when Kono and Steve arrived. They'd placed a tarp over the corpse and shooed away two snoopy kids. Their looks tried to be friendly but betrayed suspicion as they saw McGarrett for the first time.
"Trash guy found her when he came through this morning," one reported to Kono. "No identification."
Steve crouched down and lifted the corner of the yellow tarp. O God, she was so young. The teenage girl lay curled on her right side as if she had gone to sleep on the hard concrete of the filthy alley. Her pallid white skin seemed stark next to the trash around her, her very short bleached blonde hair was stained brown in one place by the blood from the head wound. Her blue eyes were open, staring into eternity.
Steve heard a car pull slowly into the alley and stop. There is something in her hand, what is it? He carefully pried the cold fingers with the end of his pen. A button, a 1/2" metal button. He carefully slid the button into a tiny paper envelope he'd pulled from his pocket.
"Good morning," spoke a voice.
He looked up. The short, stocky man standing over him extended a hand with formal smile on his face. It was first friendly act Steve had experienced that day and the moment was not lost. He was grateful. "Good morning."
"Leonard Bergman, forensic pathologist," the doctor offered. "And you must be Steve McGarrett."
"Must be," he agreed, rising from the body.
Bergman gave a quick look at the dead girl. "Shame."
"What do you think?"
He gave a single half laugh. "I think I see too many of these. She's 18, maybe younger. Most likely a run away. Killed sometime within the last six hours, but greater than two hours. Since she is naked, my guess is she was assaulted."
Steve held out the envelope with the button. "She had a button in her hand."
"You keep that. I do the body parts, not the physical evidence."
"We don't have a forensic chemist. Would be nice. We have to send most of our serious stuff out to the main land."
Steve stared at him. "That can't possibility work."
"Tell me about it. Welcome to paradise lost, McGarrett."
Bergman's assistant placed paper bags around the hands and feet of the victim. The photographer completed his job. At last the coroner collected the remains of this unfortunate child and the gaggle of police began to thin out.
Steve turned to Kono. "I want finger print analysis right away. We need to find out who she was. When we locate a family, we'll need to talk to them. If she's a run away, there is a record somewhere." He looked at Chin. "See what we can find out about this button." He handed him the envelope.
Chin looked into the envelope. "Button?"
"Yeah, it must have come from her attacker. I'll check with Dr. Bergman later to see what her autopsy reveals." McGarrett turned away from the scene hoping their first case would not also wind up as their first unsolved mystery.
Steve had been back in his office less than thirty minutes when Chin Ho arrived, a young man in tow and announced, "We have an identification on our dead woman."
Steve looked up. "Well?"
Chin murmured quietly. "Her name was Natalie Hastings."
"Who identified her?"
Chin motioned towards a young man with him. "Family friend."
Steve was shocked by just how young the boy looked. He doesn't look any older than the girl! "I am very sorry about the death of Miss Hastings," Steve started. "Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-0."
His blue eyes were full anger, but it wasn't clear towards whom. "So you're the new super cop group. You think you can find her killer?"
Steve blinked. "We are a special cases police unit, not a super cop group. And, yes, I hope to bring the person who murdered Miss Hastings to justice. You could help by telling me everything you can about her -- starting with your name."
Chin spoke up for the guest. "Dan Williams, friend of her older brother. He's been house-sitting for her parents."
Steve sized up the young man, wondering why Chin had spoken for him, but decided it wasn't worth finding out. "Have a seat, Williams." He motioned to the only other intact chair in the office leaving Chin to sit on one of the desks. "How well did you know Miss Hastings, Mr. Williams?"
"Well enough. She was a good kid, a little wild maybe, but nothing...nothing that should get her killed," Williams offered. "Her folks are off the Island on business."
"Know anyone who would want to kill her?"
"Of course not. She graduated high school last Spring, was working at a clothing boutique." He scowled at the floor in sorrow. "She wanted to play all grown up, got an apartment with two of her friends last month."
"Do you know their names?"
He shook his head. "Just their first names, but I can give you the address. You should be able to locate them easily enough."
"So her parents went away and asked you to watch the house instead of her. Why is that?" Steve asked examining the reactions carefully. Will he get angry? Indignant? Defensive? These emotions always say something.
But he seemed unconcerned about the question. "They did ask her. She wouldn't do it. I don't get along real well with my roommate at school, so..." he shrugged. "Free food for a couple days and a nice pool just for feeding the dog. Why not?"
Why not? He seems honest enough, but... "What is your relationship with Miss Hastings?"
The reaction that came seemed as much from Chin as from Williams. Chin's head snapped up, fire in his dark eyes.
"My--" anger reddened Williams' face and he stopped speaking for a minute, trying to collect his words. "Her brother and I played ball together. He's in the Air Force now stationed in New Jersey. I'm a friend with her folks. Natalie and I did not have a personal relationship."
Steve paused to contemplate the information and weigh the truth. And why did Chin react? It was like I insulted one of his ancestors "All right, Williams. Do you have the name of her employer and that apartment address?"
He scribbled it down on a page of his notepad and handed it over.
Steve sighed. "We need to talk to her parents. Do you now how I can reach them?"
"I know where her father works. I can take care if it," he replied.
This kid has guts. Informing parents thousands of miles away that their daughter is dead is not an easy task.
There was the rap of a knuckle on the open wooden office door and Doc Bergman stuck his head in. He noticed that McGarrett had company. "Shall I come back later?"
"No, come on in," Steve invited. "Mr. Williams, thank you for your assistance. I assume Officer Kelley knows where to find you."
"Sure, Chin knows my number in the dorm and at the Hastings," he replied.
Aha, this boy is on a first name basis with Kelley. That may account for Chin's reaction before. "Oh, and one more thing," Steve called to him as Williams started to leave. "Don't leave the Island."
An uncertain frown settled on the young face as Williams turned away.
Bergman watched Williams leave then turned his attention back to the new chief of Five-0. "Steve, I have a preliminary on the young woman."
"Natalie Hastings," Steve told him.
"What?" Bergman looked back at him.
"Her name is Natalie Hastings....was," Steve corrected himself a little slowly.
"Oh. Well, on examination, there were no pavement abrasions on her hands or knees, no skin cells under her fingernails. She did not fight her attacker. Death was by a double tap to the head with a .38. She was killed somewhere else and dumped in the alley. She'd had intercourse within twelve hours of her death, but I doubt it was forced."
Steve scowled. "Double tap, a professional hit."
Bergman nodded. "Real pro."
"And although she wasn't raped, she is found nude. Why?"
"Somebody wanting to make us think she was?" Chin guessed.
"Then whoever killed her knew she had had relations recently," Steve observed.
"Maybe her lover?" Chin guessed again.
"Our killer had sex with her, killed her by shooting her twice in the head, then dumped her naked body in an alley behind a strip joint," Steve summed up the clues again.
"Maybe he wanted us to think she was a stripper who messed with the wrong john," Bergman offered. "We also retrieved hair samples that were not hers from the body. Light brown, hers were bleached blonde. There are carpet fibers under her finger nails and embedded in the skin of her knees."
"Looks like she attempted to crawl across a carpet."
Steve tapped his index finger on the desktop. " Chin, get me samples of the carpet from every place we know of that she was -- including her parents' home. Doc, get those samples analyzed. I want to know everything down to the manufacturer and who sells that carpet in the Islands."
"That analysis will take a week, Steve," Bergman offered gently. "I have to send them to Los Angeles. We aren't one of their high priorities."
McGarrett was shocked. "A week! Okay, get the samples and the evidence to me, I'll get NIS to do it." And how often will NIS let me come running back with forensic evidence to test? I need a forensic chemist on staff. McGarrett turned a level gaze on Chin as he considered the options. "We need to get the parents back here. Chin, follow up with your young friend, Williams. Make sure he reaches them."
Bergman turned to leave. In the doorway he looked around at the walls and commented, to Chin, "Isn't this the office they condemned last month because of termites?"
Chin tried to hide his grimace. "Yeah," he managed to mutter.
"They condemned our office?" Steve asked.
Chin shrugged and Bergman gave a chuckle, then left, closing the door behind him.
"Chin," Steve said quietly. "You apparently know Dan Williams."
He nodded. "All his life. His mother's father did my wedding. I still see Danny a lot. He's done some babysitting for us."
"Chin, you have seven children."
He nodded, "Almost eight."
"And you have a college boy watch all seven at once by himself?"
"He's a pretty good kid," Chin commented calmly.
"Apparently." Steve shook his head. "How old is that 'pretty good kid' anyway? He doesn't look a day over 16."
"He's 22. Did three years in the Marines right after high school. At the University now."
"Well, he looks sixteen." Steve tapped his pencil against the desk in thought. "Right now he is the only real lead we have."
Chin did not reply. Does he mean lead or suspect? I do not know this man. I liked him when Walter introduced us. I believe he is honest and of good character, but he is impatient. I cannot allow his impatience for a quickly solved crime to endanger Danny. If McGarrett thinks that boy is involved he is sadly mistaken, and I may have been mistaken to put faith in McGarrett.
Steve gave Roger and Lynette Hastings time to adjust on their unexpected return home -- he gave them three hours. The investigation into the death of Natalie was already thirty-six hours old and every minute would make it harder to solve.
Roger's opening remark upon meeting McGarrett and Chin at the front door of the Hastings home was: "Have you found my daughter's killer yet?"
It was an appropriate enough request. "We are working on it, Mr. Hastings," Steve said respectfully. "Allow me to express my condolences."
Hastings stepped back to give them admittance. "I just can't believe it," he said, his sorrow plain. "Natalie never hurt a fly. She was a good girl. Never any trouble."
McGarrett recalled Williams' brief description "A little wild maybe..." "I understand that she was no longer living at home. She'd taken an apartment with some friends."
"Yes," Hastings confirmed. "She was so anxious to start her life. And she wasn't far away. I believe it's good for young people to learn to live on their own." He sounded like he was defending himself.
Lynette spoke up. "Natalie was working in a boutique selling women's dresses. I didn't like her living out there. Young women should stay in their parents' homes where they can be cared for until they marry and their husbands take on that role."
Disagreement between the parents, but it didn't get her killed. It may be just enough to destroy their marriage though. Pity. "What can you tell me about Natalie's boyfriends?"
"She was seeing one boy regular -- Tim Ottman. Nothing serious. She wasn't interested in settling down," Lynette offered.
So far, this is what the roommates said -- except the relationship was a whole lot more than 'pretty regular.' "Did you know Tim Ottman?" Steve asked.
"He was a little older than she was. Maybe a college student," Roger supplied. "I never met him."
"I have an officer looking for him," Steve supplied. "One of her roommates mentioned his name. She never brought him home?"
"Well she did," Lynette corrected. "Just not when Roger was here."
Her husband looked at her in surprise.
"Was there a reason for that, Mrs. Hastings?" Steve pursued fearlessly.
She glanced uncomfortably at her spouse. "Roger did not like either of the children bringing their friends home."
"It's not that," Roger interjected. "I work a lot, McGarrett. When I am home, I want to rest -- peace and quiet. I don't want loud parties and music. I get a lot of headaches and I have a right to my privacy when I am home."
"Mr. Hastings, what do you do for a living?" Steve seemed to change direction.
He hesitated. "I work for a local book publisher. We publish elementary school text books."
"How long have you been there?"
"Going on six years."
"Do you have any enemies?"
Roger issued a forced grin. "Enemies? How would a book editor make enemies?"
"You tell me, Mr. Hastings," Steve replied with a shrug.
Roger was obviously uncomfortable. "Really, I haven't a soul in my life who'd hate me -- let alone kill my daughter."
"Thank you, Mr. Hastings. We'll keep you posted on the developments."
As Chin and Steve headed for the car, Chin spoke. "That man has something to hide."
"He sure does, Chin. I want you to start digging. Financial, education, professional, personal I want the works. That girl may have had a lover her folks didn't know about, but she was killed in a professional hit. She was a message to somebody. Have Kono check out her employer and the boyfriend."
The phone was ringing as Steve arrived back in the office. He half-hopped over a chair to reach it. "Five-0, McGarrett," he announced into the receiver.
"Steve, I've been trying to get you for about an hour," Jameson complained gently.
"Well, Governor, along with a few other things, we could use a secretary."
"I need you here at two o'clock for a meeting with Commander Richard Garrison."
"Garrison?" My old buddy from NIS?
"He requested I not discuss the issue over an open line. Be here."
"Naval Intelligence intercepted a communiqué this morning at about 9:30 directed to an agent somewhere in Honolulu," Garrison told Steve in Jameson's office. He passed over a report consisting of one sentence.
"'Arriving tomorrow as planned, the Dragon.'" Steve read. He glanced at Garrison. "Our old friend."
"Afraid so, Steve." Garrison gave a smile. "Maybe he heard you'd retired from NIS and thinks it's safe to come out now."
"He's in for a big surprise," Steve muttered.
Jameson sat patiently by, not minding that he was being ignored in the conversation. He was already feeling good about his selection of Five-0 chief. Less than three days and I'm already glad about the choice.
"Anything going on in testing that would be of interest to him?" Steve asked.
Garrison chuckled. "Everything interests Wo Fat, Steve. The eggheads are busting butts in this missile race with the Russians. Let's face it, the only deterrent to the Communists is out-gun them. 'Duck and cover' isn't going to work anywhere but in somebody's dreams. Sometimes I think everybody's expending to much panic towards the Russians, they don't have any fear left for the Chinese."
I wonder if the Russians and Chinese are as afraid of us as we are of them? McGarrett allowed himself to dwell on the thought for a moment. Mao's Great Leap Forward has fallen flat; Russia is refusing to send advisors to assist in her nuclear development. Is it any wonder that Wo Fat has been sent to see what he can steal?
"So far as we know, China may have some Russian AS-1 Kennels. They aren't serious long-range missiles. With the failure of relations between the two countries, it is not likely that Russia is supplying them with anything like the R-7 Semyorka," Garrison continued.
Moderately amused with the monologue, Steve wondered if the lecture was for Jameson's sake. Garrison was well aware that Steve was familiar with all this. "Commander, I meant what are we doing that would interest the Chinese," Steve reminded him gently.
Garrison looked less comfortable. "There have been tests scheduled with a new sub launched anti-submarine missile." He flipped the combination on his brief case, opened the cover and passed Steve a folder marker TOP SECRET.
Steve grinned inwardly. The fastest way to get anyone to read something is to label it top secret. His smile faded as he scanned the contents. "Don't we already have enough stuff to kill ourselves with?" he finally grumbled.
"The UUM-44 is a special project," Garrison declared. "It packs a nuclear warhead and has a range of 55k. Quite a punch for sub to sub. We think Wo Fat is going to try to spy on the tests."
"I would say that is a fair bet," Steve remarked. "How did he learn about them?"
"We are working on that end," Garrison answered. "I need you and your team to find Wo Fat."
"And do what, Commander?" Steve asked coolly. "I can't arrest him. He hasn't done anything."
"Make it hot. Hot enough that he gives up."
Steve glanced at Jameson sitting placidly by. "That's all, huh?" Steve was being sarcastic. How can I tell Jameson that this first international case is an impossible one? Where am I supposed to find the manpower to collect and process the evidence in the Hastings murder and track the actions of a Communist Chinese agent who is one of the slipperiest spies in the world? I have only two cases, but one is as impossible as the other.
End part 1
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