When the Stars Begin to Fall
By Peg Keeley
Chin turned away from the store and went
to find Kono, abandoning his surveillance of Polski. Kono was still sleeping
soundly under the tree in the park. Out on the street, cars weighed down
with belongings were beginning to clog the way out of Hilo. "Kono,"
Chin roused him.
"Hey, Chin." He sat up and yawned. "That little nap did
me a world of good."
"It may have to do for a while," Chin said, some anxiety in
his voice. "We have to get to high ground. Tsunami."
"You're kidding," Kono muttered, noticing the activity on the
Two men were out of cars, shouting at each other and waving fists.
"Where's Polski?" Kono asked.
"He'll be headed for the high ground," Chin commented wisely.
"We can find him later."
"The boats will all be putting to sea. He may go out on one of them
and not come back," Kono replied. "We may have to catch him
at the dock."
Chin, remembering where Polski had waited before, nodded. "Come on
They made their way against the flow of people back towards the wharf.
A middle-aged Hawaiian man in a white helmet with a blue triangle and
red letters "CD" in the center stopped them. "Can't go
down there," the man stated.
They showed their badges. "Police business," Kono commented.
He nodded and let them pass.
"Say, you turning back everyone?" Kono asked the man.
"Only let through people I knows has boats to move," he replied.
"Seen this man?" Chin flashed a picture of Polski.
He shook his head no.
The marina was a bustle of activity. Boats were pulling out of port as
quickly as they could. As the sun set, the green and red deck lights flickered
across the water like fireflies in the darkness. The ship Polski had been
watching before was still tied up, no sign of its captain. Polski was
pacing to and fro in the open without concern about being seen. As darkness
deepened, he stopped an old man to ask about the ship's captain.
"'e no comin'," the man replied. "'e in de slammer. Dis
ship gonna be all pau when de big water she come."
"I've got to get out of here," Polski snapped.
The man shrugged. "You best go der." He pointed inland. "Or
go 'der." He gestured towards Waiakea Peninsula. "Big water
in '46. Make hepa mess of Hilo, but no harm de finger land. Ever'body
do okay dere. I goin' back dere meself. I too old to go hikin' up dem
hills. I stay out here. I do okay."
Polski glanced at the peninsula, then at the steady stream of people headed
up towards the hills. He decided to go for the high ground and blend into
the crowd of displaced humanity leaving their homes before the dreaded
wall of water.
Steve had dropped Diane at her apartment about nine o'clock, then gone
back to his own. It had been a wonderfully restful day. It had renewed
his spirit and he felt ready to go back and tangle with Camp and his bunch
tomorrow morning. He wondered if Chin and Kono had found out anything,
but there were no messages with the service. Tomorrow will tell. As he
emptied his pockets he discovered the he had Diane's necklace she had
asked him to hold. Pleased, because it gave him a reason to talk to her,
he called her home, but there was no answer. Realizing she was either
in the shower or had gone to bed, he placed the necklace by the phone.
I can call her first thing in the morning.
For Kono and Chin it was a stroke of luck that Polski chose to abandon
the waterfront. It was past ten by this time and the officials themselves
were now headed away from the scene. Kono glanced back towards the docks
and noticed that the water level had started to fall. Like low tide --
Polski was about twenty-five feet ahead of them in the crowd when he suddenly
stopped. Before him stood the Chinese man he'd seen too many times earlier
today. Their eyes met and Polski knew the man was after him. Polski bolted
through the crowd, turning back against the tide of humanity, the Chinese
man after him.
"Come on!" Kono turned to follow.
"No, let them go," Chin advised.
But Kono was already fighting his way back through the crowd in chase
of the two men. This is the moment! We can get Polski and this agent.
There is still time. I'll make it back. I'm not going to let that guy
get away with murdering that girl.
It was like swimming though Jell-O as Polski struggled in the opposite
direction from the river of people moving up towards the hills. But as
he pushed his way down, the resistance lessened as the crowd began to
thin out. He looked over his shoulder, and the Chinese man was still there.
Back in the town, he dodged down a now deserted street and through allies
at top speed.
At one point, the Chinese agent stopped, leveled his pistol and fired
one round at Polski that missed.
Much further behind, Kono pulled his .38. Dammit, they want to have
a shoot out in a disaster alert!
Polski ran zigzag fashion through streets, headed towards the waterfront.
There were no longer any officials to stop him. He jumped down onto the
soggy sand and kept running.
Kono stopped to notice that the ocean was gone. The bare beach stretched
out into the darkness, a strange rounded wall glimmering in the moonlight
half a mile out. My god, that's the reef! The water is gone clear past
the reef! The dread of where he was began to register. He turned back.
At full panic speed, he began to run the two miles back towards the hillsides
past Hilo. This is not worth my life. Let God deal with Polski.
Polski had remembered what the old man told him and headed up towards
the peninsula. He lost his pursuer briefly, but the man found him again
as he headed out onto the beach of the peninsula. There were other people
out there, some with picnic baskets and lawn chairs, ready to witness
the tsunami as it passed by on its way to Hilo. Polski looked back to
see his tracker starting towards him from fifty yards away. Then he heard
the sound. At first it seemed quite far away like rushing water, like
the sea when it boils in a storm. Then it seemed to grow louder and stronger.
He turned to gasp in horror as in the last instant, the 37-foot wall of
the first wave washed down upon him.
Kono had reached the high ground and found Chin to assure him he was fine.
Just as he started to tell Chin that Polski had headed for the peninsula,
they could hear the growing roar of the approaching wave. The crowd grew
silent as they watch the electric street lamps suddenly blink out in Hilo
below as the water slammed into the town washing more than a mile inland.
"Stay here! Stay here!" shouted a man with a megaphone. "There
will be more waves! Do not leave until we tell you to. Folks, it's going
to be a long night, so get comfortable."
A small girl stood next to Chin, clutching a doll in her arms and staring
down into the darkness of what used to be her home. "All pau,"
Steve's alarm clock went off at 5:30 am and he got up, alert and rested.
The other night I tossed and turned, but last night was the best rest
I've had in years. His gaze rested on Diane's necklace. It will be
great to hear her voice this morning. He allowed himself to think
about how wonderful it would be to wake up to her each morning.
He started coffee, then turned on the radio as he shaved.
"....1:00 am the largest tsunami since 1946 struck Hilo. Alert authorities
had removed most of the inhabitants from Hilo, but this morning, as the
sun rises, the devastation to downtown Hilo is only just beginning to
be counted. At least 60 people are known to be dead. A number of these
were on the peninsula even though they had been warned by police to vacate
Steve was staring at the radio in shock.
"The destruction is massive. There are cars and boats tossed through
downtown like toys. Houses and businesses are obliterated. It looks like
over 75% of the city is destroyed completed. Governor Jameson says he
will view the damage later this morning. Red Cross units are already in
the area and clean up crews will be dispatched as soon as the area is
determined to be safe. So far, eight waves have struck the city and authorities
are awaiting the all clear to allow people to go back and begin rebuilding
McGarrett already had the phone at his ear, the other end ringing. It
was answered by one of Jameson's aids. "Tell the Governor I want
to be on that plane."
"Sir, I don't know that--"
"I'm head of the State's police and I expect to be on it," he
announced in a way that stated this was not a matter for discussion.
McGarrett sat beside Paul Jameson through
the two-hour flight to Hilo. Most of the time there was small talk through
the cabin amongst the press agents and the two staff aids, but Paul and
Steve had said little. As the plane began its approach and the vast expanse
of destruction became a cold reality, the last of the chatter dwindled
away into total silence.
Two city officials were on hand to meet the Governor, both in rumpled
yesterday's clothing that was wet with sweat and stained from heavy work.
Steve stared out at the twisted ruined remains of downtown buildings.
There was a car upside down lodged in a tree. Two firemen were placing
barricades around it in vain hopes of keeping children away from the vehicle
that most certainly would fall later. People with lost, vacant stares
wandering through wreckage, picking out a pot here, a broken picture there.
Where do I begin to look for my team? He had hoped that Kono and
Chin would be waiting for him and now it began to occur to him that they
might be dead.
"Are you Steve McGarrett?" asked a uniformed police officer.
"Yes," he replied.
"Mr. Kelley said you'd be on this plane." He gave a forced smile.
"He must know you pretty well."
Really? He's only known me a week.
"Your people are helping over on Keawe Street." The officer
led Steve through the maze of destruction, passing the paradox of an old
man weeping before his crushed home and two children laughing as they
played side-and-seek between two piles of bricks. "Kids," the
officer shook his head, "pretty resilient little guys, huh?"
Steve managed a nod. The vast devastation was numbing, like a nightmare
one will awaken from momentarily. It was difficult to remember the Hilo
Steve had seen just a month ago, filled with people, shops, every day
life. It looked like scenes he could remember from war -- worse because
somewhere in war there was always a reason. But this was so totally without
purpose. Nature at one of her worst moments. Little wonder why it is
tempting to put a context of something living 'mother nature' to this
kind of event. And not surprising that primitive people would attempt
sacrifice of the things they held most precious to pacify such an entity.
He musings were cut short by a shout.
"Steve!" It was Kono. He was coming towards them, a tired smile
on his face.
Steve grabbed him in a bear hug in spite of the grime and sweat covering
Kono. "Good to see you!"
Kono was impressed by the display of affection by a haole he'd known only
a week as was his boss. I think this McGarrett's gonna be okay.
"Chin is down a block interpreting for this Chinese couple and their
insurance agent." He led the way.
Chin stood with an elderly couple before a mound of wood, shingle, and
broken glass and a young man with a jacket labeled "All State"
on the back. They seemed to be concluding their conversation. Although
the woman was still weeping softly, there seemed to be a satisfied look
of understanding between the men. They all bowed towards each other and
Chin came over to Steve and Kono. "Hi, Steve," he said simply.
McGarrett gave him the same bear-hug greeting he'd given Kono.
Chin, a more restrained individual, seemed slightly flustered, but accepted
the gesture. "Their agent getting them a good deal," he said
to cover his embarrassment.
"He got here pretty quick," McGarrett commented.
He smiled and pointed to a different mound of debris. "That one's
the agent's house."
They made their way up the hillside to where a makeshift morgue had been
assigned in the shade of trees. The military was bringing in refrigerated
trucks from the other side of the island that should arrive any time.
Here, there were weeping people hugging each other, clusters of families
standing close by fearfully awaiting the arrival of the next recovered
body. Blankets, sheets, cardboard, just about anything was being used
to cover the bodies that had been found. Chin knew right where to go and
led them to a body covered with a gray muddy blanket. As he lifted the
blanket, Steve recognized the ashen gray face of Bart Polski immediately.
"He got his eternal reward," Chin remarked.
Steve nodded, moderately surprised as such a western statement coming
from a oriental man until he reminded himself that Chin was Lutheran.
"There was a Chinese guy chasing him," Kono explained. "Haven't
seen him, living or dead. I'm pretty sure I'd recognize the guy."
"We know there were some people swept out to sea," Chin said.
"Maybe he was one of them. People on the Peninsula took it bad. I
guess they stayed because the wave of '46 didn't go there." He shook
There was a woman's scream and the three men turned as one.
A woman was embracing a mud-covered child wailing for joy. Before her
stood a young rescue worker with a smile on his face. The moment of reunion
brought tears to Steve's eyes.
With Polski dead, that should conclude
the Hastings case, at least that's the official statement, Steve thought
as he slowly walked up the wooden stairway to his new office. It was late;
the sun was setting. He and his entire team were exhausted. Tomorrow morning
they would need to look at the new cases the Governor had left for them
to work on. As tired at he was, Steve wanted to look at the files just
once before going home to sleep for at least six hours. He also knew that
the case was not closed. There was still the issue of the missing missile
plans. Will Wo Fat conclude that the microfilm died with Polski? I
wouldn't. No one has actually seen Wo Fat here, maybe he never came.
In his heart, Steve knew better. Wo has been here, and probably still
He opened the door to his office. There was an orange cast to the room
as the rays of the setting sun shone through the wooden blinds of the
window on the lanai and played across the walls. The office seemed remarkably
peaceful and serene. He walked towards the desk when a quiet sound made
him spin in alarm, reaching for his gun.
"It would be better for you to leave your gun where it is,"
Wo Fat said quietly.
Steve stared at the Chinese agent sitting calmly in the white leather
chair in the far corner of the room. Wo Fat's aide stood behind the chair,
his gun in hand resting on the top of the chair's back. How did he
get in here? But Steve knew better than to voice the question. Never
let Wo Fat think he has the advantage. Always appear in control. "Good
evening, Wo Fat. I hope I have not kept you waiting long."
A hint of a smile creased Wo Fat's face. "Imagine my surprise to
discover you have abandoned the Naval Intelligence Corp to serve as a
mere chief of police. The Navy must be missing you so. But then, Hawaii
is the richer."
Steve gave a slight nod to acknowledge the compliment. "May I conclude
you are still in the Intelligence service of People's Republic of China?"
Wo Fat did not answer the question. "I enjoy these visits to Hawaii.
I find America a very naive, however pleasant experience. I so enjoy watching
"Television?" Steve frowned. What is your meaning in this
Wo? You never put two words together but that they are not for a purpose.
"Yes. Television. Do you ever watch I Love Lucy?"
Steve found it difficult to imagine Wo Fat sitting with his feet propped
up in a recliner, iced tea in hand, watching Lucy and Desi Arnez.
Wo gave a little chuckle. "American stories have morals. Good always
triumphs. Simplistic, but virtuous none the less."
"Good? What good are we speaking of, Wo Fat?"
"You, McGarrett. You are good. You always seem to do what is right
-- at least in your eyes."
He cocked an eyebrow. Wo Fat is really fishing here. For what?
Wo Fat raised a hand and placed something into the hand of his aid. The
man approached Steve, and dropped the small bracelet onto Steve's palm.
Steve stared in a shock he could not hide at the bracelet of Diane's that
matched the necklace at his apartment.
"I believe I may have found something of great value to you,"
Wo said ominously.
Fury exploding, McGarrett abandoned grace and diplomacy and lunged at
Wo, to be intercepted by the large aide. "What have you done to her!"
Wo Fat's expression never changed from his calm exterior. "I have
done nothing, I assure you. I would like very much for it to remain so.
You see, I have concluded that you also possess something of great value
Steve tried to keep his rage in check. The missile plans! He wants
the missile plans!
"I know the poor, late Bart Polski did not have them. And since the
CIA is spending all its efforts following Mr. Tu, whom I have sent back
to China, they do not have the microfilm. So, who does?"
Silence reigned for several moments.
"Simple deduction." Wo Fat folded his hands together. "A
"No deals," Steve snapped, horror struck at his own words.
I am talking about Diane here, my Diane! I must not give him what he wants
or it will be her death for certain. My strength is keeping that film
safe. "I do not have the film."
"Come, come, you jest," Wo scoffed. "Beware of what you
think is your strength, it could be your weakness. 'Weakest, when I strongest
seem, fall'n alas I am thro' pride.'"
"Confucius?" Steve remarked.
Wo broke into full smile. "John Wesley, Methodist theologian of the
1700s. I am a student of western thought, McGarrett. Very well, I shall
be forthright with you, then you decide. My country is struggling to survive
amongst the riches of Russia and the United States. Our rocket program
is -- lacking many of the scientific minds that your two super powers
took possession of at the close of World War II."
"If Mao hadn't killed off all your trained teachers and scientists
you might be better off," Steve pointed out, wishing he had his hands
around Wo's fat neck instead of trying to be civil. What can I pull
out of him that will help me save her?
Wo did not argue the point, but continued. "We do, however, have
a certain degree of genius. Our scientific researchers have delivered
to us a defensive missile, humble, but effective. It is the only missile
that is truly our own. A copy of the plan for that missile was stolen
by American agents. This is matter of most urgent security for China.
I am not here to steal American secrets. I want returned what is rightfully
ours before it falls into the hands of American military."
Steve scowled. This is his usual trick, but it is a good one.
Wo Fat rose. "Very well, McGarrett. You will hear from me again.
I trust you will have what I require at that time. I would be most happy
to exchange what we both treasure -- intact." He left.
Steve stared after him. He slowly sat down on the edge of the desk, looking
at the delicate bracelet in his hand. Dear God, Diane! Think, I've
got to think! What do I know to be true? Is anyone truthful? Garrison
and Camp certainly didn't tell me anything until I found it first. Can
Wo be telling the truth?
He picked up the phone, knowing that Chin must be exhausted, maybe already
asleep, but it could not be helped. "Chin? I need you down here right
Steve had pinned a map of Oahu to the wall and another larger one of Honolulu
below it. Chin and Kono had marked in red pencil all the areas that had
been scoured for Wo Fat earlier. There were others places Steve knew the
agent would not be because they were too difficult to escape from. A few
more were eliminated because they would not be a good place to hold a
hostage. Even with this accomplished there was a lot of territory left.
"Would take a month, Boss," Kono said with a sigh.
Steve pulled out the photo of Wo's aide from the top secret file Garrison
had given him. "I know this guy's here. Now, they have to be eating,
so perhaps someone went to the grocery, or bought gas -- something."
"We're on it," Chin declared. He did not mention the hour --
it was approaching 9:00 PM and he knew it would not matter. Chin and Kono
Steve picked up another copy of the photo, deciding he would also start
hunting street by street for Wo Fat himself. If only I had the manpower
I could turn this rock over. Someday I will. But I need it for Diane now.
Diane. How foolish I was to allow a relationship. I endangered her. If
she dies, it is because of me. No matter what, consider the trauma she
is facing. I am to blame.
McGarrett ran down the stairway, headed his car. He opened the door to
get in when a brown sedan pulled up next to him.
"McGarrett," Camp's voice called to him, "get in."
He hesitated. If Camp has come to the same conclusion as Wo Fat, I
am no safer with him than with Wo Fat -- and maybe less. "What
do you want, Marten?"
"Get in," he repeated.
Steve glanced around, then got into Camp's car. "What is it?"
"What did Wo Fat want?"
"He made me an offer," Steve replied.
"Oh?" Camp lit a cigarette.
"Mind putting that thing out," Steve requested.
Camp embarrassed, did so. "Sorry, I forgot. How did you ever survive
10 years in NIS and not drink or smoke? Must have nerves of steel."
I sure hope so.
"So," Camp turned to face him. "What was Fat's deal?"
Steve considered the truth. "He has kidnapped a young lady I am fond
of. He would like me to see that certain information is -- returned to
Camp grunted. "What information?"
"Certain missile plans you claim Lynette Hastings stole from us to
give to the Russians."
"Then he doesn't have them," Camp said with a deep breath.
"His story is a little different than yours."
"Is that surprising to you? This is Wo Fat we're talking about. He's
the slipperiest deceitful son of a bitch I've ever met."
Steve looked through the windshield at nothing.
"What are you going to do, Steve?"
"Do your people know where he is?"
"I have someone on him now. We can storm where he's holed up, retrieve
the girl, and arrest him for kidnapping. No diplomatic immunity on that
one, Steve," Camp sounded pleased with himself.
"Do you know where he is?" Steve repeated.
Camp rubbed his forehead. "We thought Tu Ling had the plans, but
I guess not. Polski must not have had them. I don't have them. Who do
you think has the plans?" He gave Steve an odd look.
Steve shrugged. "I'm not in espionage any longer, Marten. I'm just
a simple cop now."
"Are you going to tell me where Wo Fat is or do I just go find him
"Nothing is free, McGarrett," Camp muttered.
Steve's expression settled into a combination of anger and shock. "What?"
"The plans, McGarrett. The location for the plans."
"I haven't got the plans, Marten. If I did, I wouldn't give them
to you. I'd turn them over to the NIS. American military missile plans
are not the jurisdiction of the CIA. That is, if we are discussing American
"Are you going to believe the yellow chink?" Marten snapped,
veins bulging on his neck.
"I don't know," Steve answered coolly. "What do you think
he told me?"
Camp muttered a curse under his breath. "You wanted to play, Steve.
I warned you this was the big game. We play by hard rules. Are you willing
to let your lady friend pay the price for losing?"
Steve narrowed his eyes silently.
"I thought not. We both know you've got that microfilm. The only
way you get to your lady is if you give me the plans."
"Oh, I could just wait for Wo Fat to call and give them to him."
"And if Wo Fat doesn't kill you, you'd go away for treason. Besides,
if you don't cooperate, I'll get you flown off this island tonight under
a federal warrant and you won't ever meet Wo Fat or the girl."
Steve flexed his jaw muscles in fury. "All right, Camp, you win.
We get Diane, then I'll give you the film."
"First the film," Camp insisted.
"It is in a safe place," Steve assured him. "Diane first."
Camp hesitated, then decided he could trust McGarrett. He turned the key
to start the engine.
McGarrett sat tight-lipped and silent through the ride. Never had he been
more ashamed to be associated with an American operation. The drive lasted
less than fifteen minutes before Camp pulled off to the side of the road
in the shrubs beside the drive of a large estate set back from the road.
The iron gate was shut.
"In there," Camp claimed. "We've had them under surveillance
for two days. There are four or five men and the one girl there. Best
approach is from the beach side. He's probably got a patrol, but we can
take the guy."
"Let's go." Steve checked his .38 to be certain it was fully
loaded, bent over unnoticed and took Camp's cigarette lighter from the
ash tray, then opened the car door.
Up the road, two men got out of a van and came towards Camp. He introduced
them as his task people. The two men disappeared into the undergrowth.
Camp waved for Steve to follow him around towards the shoreline.
They carefully made their way towards the property and within minutes,
found one of Wo Fat's guards sprawled lifeless in the moonlight. Camp's
two men had already been through.
They left the beach, crossing the thick grassy lawn towards the back patio
of the house, meeting no more guards.
The large French doors stood open, allowing the evening breeze to blow
through the parlor. Camp and Steve slipped inside, guns drawn. Steve glanced
quickly around and chose the corridor leading towards the staircase.
"That will be far enough," came Wo Fat's voice.
A light was turned on and in the full illumination, the room had four
Chinese agents, each one armed with an automatic pointed towards Steve
Diane was held fast by Wo Fat's aide, a gun against her right temple.
"Diane!" Steve said in alarm.
The expression of horror and dread in her eyes was unbearable.
"You are most disappointing," Wo Fat declared. "I had thought
there could be an agreement."
"Agreement with a commie?" Camp snarled. "That's no agreement
Wo Fat kept his attention of Steve. "Is that your opinion also, Mr.
Steve glanced from Camp to Wo Fat. "No," he said quietly, "it
Wo Fat's expression never changed, but Steve detected an understanding.
"You have one last opportunity to save Miss Rodman. Will you make
use of it?"
There was a bustle of activity in the doorway as Camp's men suddenly burst
into the room, guns extended. They pointed both weapons at Wo Fat.
"Well," Camp said with a grin. "Seems that we may have
a slight change in the situation here, Wo Fat."
"Really? I see none, Mr. Camp. The focus of this issue remains Miss
"I give the word and they blow your brains out, Wo Fat!" Camp
"Perhaps. But there are six other representatives of my nation in
this room, Mr. Camp. If every armed person in this room was to shoot,
one of them would most assuredly survive, retrieve the missile plans from
Mr. McGarrett's dead body and return them to Peking. Do you wish to force
an outcome like that, Mr. Camp?" Wo asked threateningly.
Camp said nothing, but did not yield his stance.
Steve took a step away from Camp. "All right, Wo Fat, Camp. Let's
decide this now." He slowly reached out and unbuckled his belt. He
slid the belt off, then forced his finger into the small knife slit on
the inside. He carefully pulled out three thin strips of microfilm. "Here
it is." He held it up. "Now, to whom does it rightfully belong,
huh? Camp? Wo Fat?"
They both stared at him in silence.
He pulled out the cigarette lighter, flicked the flint. As the small tongue
of flame sprang up, he stuck the microfilm into it. In a sizzling hiss,
the film warped, then melted into a little blob on the carpet as he let
"McGarrett!" Camp screamed in fury.
Steve glanced at Wo Fat whose expression was one of satisfaction.
The Chinese agent gave a quiet nod and released Diane's arms. "This
matter is finished." Wo motioned his men back.
"No! It most certainly is not!" Camp jumped forward and as he
did, so did his two men.
The six Chinese guards swung their weapons back around
"Camp, stop this!" Steve shouted, attempting to protect Diane.
Are we about to die at the hands of our own people?
End Part 6
Back to list