By Anne Azel
Part 2 Spirits Walking
Gunnul looked at the wood statue in Christy's room in horror. A deep flood of red crept up her face. The crude, wood sculpture was of a gaunt man, his ribs showing and his face skull-like yet he had a large, and substantial erection.
"Christy! Why is this here?"
"Its an example of local folklore art."
"No Christy. It is very bad. This can not go home with us," blustered Gunnul, caught between shook and acute embarrassment.
Christy laughed. "Let me tell you the story. Many years ago, some spirits fell asleep on an Ahu, one of the platforms that the Moai figures stand on. By luck, a village chief had been out walking very early that morning and before the spirits could wake and disappear, the man saw what they looked like. Now always, humans had wondered but none had known until then what form the spirits took. The man was very excited and couldn't wait to get back to his village and tell everyone.
"But another spirit had witnessed what had happened. He woke the spirits and they went looking for the chief. One spirit changed himself into the form of an old man so that he could stop the villager on the path and talk to him. The old man-spirit asked, 'Did you see anything unusual on your walk today?
"The chief was wise. He knew the spirits would kill him if he admitted that he had seen them. Three times on his way back to the village he was stopped and three times he said he had seen nothing unusual on his morning walk.
"The villager didn't know what to do at first. He wanted everyone to know what the spirits looked like but if he told anyone he would die. Then he got an idea. He went to his home and didn't come out for many days. When he did he had carved a figure like this one of the spirit. Then he showed it to everyone so they would know too. He never describe the spirits to anyone and so he fooled the spirits and lived."
Gunnul's daughter laughed and came and gave her mom a big hug.
"It's okay, mom. I'm not taking it home. It is a present for Ryan and Mac Williams. I know Ryan anyway will find it very funny."
"You have seen Ryan?" Gunnul asked, the statue suddenly forgotten.
"Today in town. It was wonderful to see Ryan again and I liked MacKenzie. I don't think she completely likes me though."
"Why is this?"
"She thinks Ryan is in love with me."
Gunnul's eyes showed yet another shock.
"Of course and I love her. We are like sisters. Twins. We are so close."
"Oh sisters. Sisters are good."
Christy laughed at her mother's obvious relief. But now it was the daughter's turn to ask the questions.
"Did you see to your business today?"
"It must have been important to bring us all the way out here."
"It was a duty but I think, like your rude figure, the concern was based on old beliefs," explained Gunnul, as she dropped a towel over the offending figure. "Still, there are many mysteries in this world, I have learned. I will investigate."
"You usually share business matters with me. Why not this time?"
"I will but not here."
"Mom, are you in danger?"
"I don't think so. I don't think anyone is, but I will investigate anyway."
"Sometimes knowledge held too close can escape and do great harm. You have told me this," Christy smiled. "I don't know why but I feel that there is danger here."
Gunnul looked at her daughter and nodded slowly. Christy, even as a child, seemed to have amazing insights. "I will remember what you have said and be warned."
The next day Ryan and Mac rented a small car and toured the island while Robbie and Aliki headed over to visit the Dedemans.
It was a rare day when Ryan and MacKenzie could relax and simply enjoy each other's company. The island seemed to catch their mood. A soft sea breeze whispered gently through the rolling grasslands and the sun shone down warm on the stone faces of forgotten chiefs and volcanic lakes.
Mac acted as their guide, having studied the island before their visit. They went first to Ahu Tongariki.
"An Ahu is a platform of rock. They are long and narrow and might represent the boats the Polynesian ancestors used. On these Ahu sit the Moai or standing figures. They are not just stone heads as a lot of people think but actually full figures. Over the years many of them were buried because of erosion and so only the heads can be seen," Mac explained, as they got out of their car. "These seven figures are famous because of they are the only figures that face out to the sea."
Ryan looked up at the row of towering stone figures in front of them. "How come they are placed differently from the others?"
"It's believed that these Moai were meant to represent the seven original Polynesian explorers who came to this island. They face the sea looking back to their homeland."
"It's hard to believe that people sailed here in open canoes across thousands of miles of open water."
"The Polynesians had a history of searching out new islands when the old ones became over populated. The currents and winds are favourable for bringing boats towards this island. Actually, scientist have redone the voyage and discovered you can get here from the last of the Polynesian islands in a dugout in only seventeen days."
"So what happened to these guys?" asked Ryan, stopping to snap a picture of Mac looking up at the Moai.
"Some went back to get others to join them. The remainder stayed here to establish the first settlement. They became the first chiefs of this island."
"So these are not stone idols?"
"No, all the stones are believed to represent real people - chiefs. That's why, with the exception of these seven Moai, all the statues face inland, over looking and protecting the villages."
They sat in the grass for a while enjoying each other's company and the wonderful view of ocean, volcanic mountains and ancient stone figures around them unspoiled as yet by tourism.
"How come the island has so many names?"
Mac shrugged. "I guess people who came here each needed to claim it. The Polynesians call it Te Pito O Te Henua, navel of the world. The locals call it Rapa Nui, earth in the water. The Dutch navigator, Jacob Roggeveen, landed here on Easter Sunday 1722 and named it Easter Island. The Spanish of Peru who also claimed this area called it Isla de Pascua."
Ryan kissed Mac softly. "I love you."
Mac hugged her and then laughed. "You love information and at the moment I am the keeper of all knowledge about this island."
Ryan pretended to be shocked and hurt. "Not true! I will continue to love you even after I have sucked you dry of all significant data."
Mac nibbled on Ryan's ear. "I'll look forward to that."
Ryan felt her need pool in a hot rush of desire but Mac jumped to her feet and pulled Ryan up. "Come on. I hear a car coming. There are a ton of sites I have yet to show you."
Their day was full. Mac showed Ryan sites were the Moai still lay in ruin from the warfare that destroyed the ancient culture and other sites that had been restored. They visited the ruins of boat shaped homes and also caves where the people lived during storms and warfare. Some of these were caves off deep volcanic craters where small settlements had actually been set up such as Ana Te Pahu. Gardens had been laid out in the crater and rooms built within the caves for cooking, sleeping and gathering.
They visited the hillside, Puna Pau, where the red scoria stone was quarried that made the top knot or hat, Pukao, of each stone chieftien. Then they went to Rano Ranaku, the huge quarry were the figures were carved from the yellow rock of a massive volcanic cone. Here they wandered around the nearly four hundred figures that lay or stood on the mountainside.
"Why were they left here?"Ryan asked.
"Some cracked and couldn't be used. Others fell as they were being moved down the mountainside. It's believed that if the stone fell it's power was lost and so couldn't be used. They never put the coral eyes in place until the Moai was actually in its place. Then it truly came alive to them."
"Some of these figures are twenty and thirty feet high and must weigh tons. How could they possibly move them?"
"No one really knows. The current theory is that they were upright and rocked from side to side somehow so they slid along a specially prepared road. I guess no one will ever know for sure. As you can see a lot of them were just left unfinished when war broke out and the culture didn't survive."
"Why did they fight? This is such a beautiful place to live?"
"Probably over population. There were twelve tribes here in the end and the population might have hit a staggering 15,000. The land was deforested and food ran out. The quarries were controlled by only a few tribes and the others had to barter to use them. Tensions grew and they turned on each other."
Ryan picked up a stone scraper, one of thousands that still littered the mountainside where the people had worked on their statues. Her long fingers naturally folded around the tool, fitting into notches made by the original carver. She wandered who that person was.
"It's a shame they couldn't work out their differences."
"They did in the end. Wait until I show you Orongo. Unfortunately, peace came too late. Captain Cook claimed the island in 1774 although the Dutch had laid claim to it before. Then in the 1800s slave hunters from Peru raided the islands for labourers to work the guano deposits and on Spanish plantations. Warfare and disease killed many of the islanders too. By 1877 the island's population was only 110 people. It finally came under Chilean rule when a Chilean naval captain, Policarpo Toro, bought the island from a local French priest. The French had claimed the island earlier and tried to establish sheep farms. The island was rented for many years to the English who used it for sheep farming too, as a source of fresh meat for their trading ships."
"Sounds like everyone came here to take. Even us with our four mile long runway."
Mac nodded sadly. "Yes, the island has been abused by everyone who came here and yet its power and beauty have survived. Come on, Ryan. I need to show you Orongo. It's an amazing place."
They drove back along the Sud Coast road and took the winding trail up the volcanic crater of Rano Raraku to the Orongo site.
Here the view was breathtaking. They walked along the narrow rim of the volcano. Hundreds of feet below them, the sea smashed against the cliff face and four miles off shore three small islands, Motu, Iti-nui-Kao. and Kao, rose like spear heads from the ocean depths. Orongo was a cluster of fifty-three restored stone houses that marked the famous ceremonial grounds. They were low, long boat like buildings made of stone. Their roofs were rounded, some grass covered as if hunched against the wind off the ocean.
Ryan looked around her in amazement. Every rock was caved with thousands of petroglyphs until the whole ridge took on a living form.
"What is this place?"
"It's the solution to warfare. This is the centre of the Birdman cult. See here on the rocks, the figure of the man with wings and a bird's head? Each year, the tribes would send their chiefs, their families and their best athlete to this ceremonial site. On a certain day, the athletes would climb down the cliff face to the ocean with their reed rafts and swim out to those islands. Then they would wait for the first terns to nest. The athlete who found the first egg laid would pick it up and run to the highest rock called "Where the Tern Cries Out" and hold up the egg for all at Orongo to see. The gods would have spoken then and the athlete's chief would rule the island for the next year. The last Birdman ceremony was preformed here in 1857. By then the original island culture and peoples had pretty well been destroyed."
"That's sad," Ryan sighed.
Mac shrugged. "Cultures, buildings, art, do not last forever. All things out live their time. Yes, it's sad but it is also what gives it its beauty and fascination because it is a moment in time that is vanishing."
A cold chill flowed over Ryan. She pulled Mac close and held on to her. "I never want to be parted from you."
"We can't live forever, Ryan. But we will make our time here as beautiful as we can."
"It's not fair to you that my work is so risky."
"I knew I was marrying an astronaut. I knew what I was getting into."
"Do you worry?"
"All the time."
"I could quit and follow a career in music. I would love that life as well."
Mac kissed her worried lover gently. "You will, but only when you are ready."
Together they explored the site until it was near dusk. Then they headed back to their hotel and had a romantic dinner by an open fire as they watched the sun set red across the South Pacific.
We are the keepers of the power. Do not think us blinded by time. We live still. We see and what we see angers us. Beware. We are the walkers of the night.
Ryan looked up over the last of her wine and sighed. "Here comes mom. Our romantic evening is about to be attacked by T-Rob."
Mac chuckled and turned and waved at the approaching woman.
Robbie came up and flopped in a chair beside them. Mac couldn't help but laugh. Had Janet been here she would have dragged Robbie away by the ear and left them to their special evening. Robbie, however, was full of excitement, energy and news as always and was total unaware that the couple might want to be alone.
"Guess what, Gunnul is here on a secret mission. Christy told me that. Gunnul was all closed mouth and proper and wouldn't tell us anything. She's all upset because some old guy she had hired out here to look into the transportation of some Chilean wines was killed. Crushed under one of those big stones."
"What?" gasped Mac.
"Yeah, it's weird. They found him under a stone that they said rolled down the hill. The locals are all upset because they say the figures can do that, walk you know, at night. They say the spirits are angry.
"Gunnul got Aliki to have a look at him though. You know Aliki, she thinks like a cop still although I'm trying my best to reform her. Aliki thinks it's murder. She said he was run over first and then had the rock pushed on him. That really got Gunnul wound up. The two of them are down at the police station still."
"That's terrible, isn't it, Ryan?"
"Yes. I wonder if it's local business or something involving Gunnul's mission."
Robbie sighed dramatically. "We'll probably never know because Gunnul is as closed mouth as they come and my sister is refusing to discuss details either." Robbie mimicked her sister's voice perfectly. "'It's not something that can be discussed. It's an on-going police investigation.'"
They all laughed.
"Anyway, Gunnul wants to stay around here until this matter is cleared up and a proper funeral can take place. Christy heard about a really sweet place for snorkel driving and wants to go out there tomorrow. Do you want to go? It's off those islands where the Birdman thing was held. According to Christy the water is violet in colour and the corals are huge. What do you say?"
Mac did not need to look at her adventurous lover to know what she would want. "That would be great."
"We'll need to let Christy know. Anyone up to a walk down to the Dedeman lodge?
Mac looked at Ryan. "You go, Hon. I want to do some writing and get an early night."
"An early night was sort of what I had planned for the end of the day," Ryan muttered, as she got to her feet to follow her excited mother.
"I'll hold you to that," Mac smiled. She watched as mother and daughter headed off into the night together. They were so much alike and yet so different, like a reversal of the same image.
The fist of the spirits will descend. The power of our ancestors will roar like the wind and lash at you like the storm. We walk. Be warned. We are coming.
Christy woke with a start. Once again she had heard the voices. She would have to tell Gunnul, although she knew her pragmatic mother always had trouble dealing with her daughter's insights and feelings. There was no putting it off. Ryan was in trouble. Deadly trouble and it had something to do with the dead man and the stones.
It had happened very quickly. An old car pulled up beside them and three men got out. They pushed Ryan aside and grabbed Robbie. Struggling, Robbie took a fist to her chin and went limp.
"Hey! Leave her alone!" Ryan yelled and waded in to try and pull her mom from the back seat of the car where they had pushed her. A gun barrel smashed into the back of her head and she fell over her mother and then rolled to the floor of the car before darkness flooded over her.
When she woke. She found her head resting in her mother's lap. She could see her mom had been crying. Robbie's jaw was swollen and bruised.
"Ryan. Ryan, sweetheart. Can you hear me? Ryan?"
Ryan tried to make words come out but they wouldn't. She tried to reach up but her body refused to follow her commands. Once again she tried to speak.
"I can't hear what your saying Ryan."
Ryan's head ached badly. She blinked her eyes, trying to keep things in focus. She tried to move her feet. The right one moved but not the left. She wiggled her fingers. There was only movement on her right side.
"Cccaaan't mmmove," she slurred out.
"You can't move?"
Her mom's look worry crumbled into one of fear. "What can't you move?"
"They hit you. You've been unconscious for a few hours. It's quite dark now. Your speech is slurred, Ryan."
Ryan nodded again but couldn't respond. Slowly she drifted back into unconsciousness.
Robbie looked up at the burly man who sat with a rifle on his lap at the entrance of the cave.
"You have to help. My daughter is badly hurt. She needs medical attention."
The man didn't respond or look in her direction. Robbie pulled at the chains that held her to the rock wall. They didn't budge. She pulled harder in her frustration and suddenly the man was there towering above her. He pointed the gun at Ryan's head.
Robbie let go of the chains and leaned forward, covering her daughter's face with her body.
The man laughed.
Robbie looked up at him.
"My daughter's sick. She needs help."
The man shrugged and went back to sit at the mouth of the cave.
Robbie cradled her daughter in her arms and cried. With Ryan there had always been goodbyes. They'd had a stormy relationship and had been more a part than together but to lose Ryan completely would be to lose apart of who she was.
The hours passed. Moonlight shone outside the cave when Robbie heard the sound of a car. The three men who had captured her and Ryan climbed down into the crater and behind them came a new individual.
He came in and looked at Robbie and Ryan in disgust.
"That is not her."
"But it must be. She looks like the picture you gave me."
The man turned and hit the other, sending him stumbling back into his friends.
"I tell you it is not, you fool!"
"Then we will try again."
The man laughed.
"One man dead and two women missing. Do you think Dedeman will not be on her guard. No, I will have to think."
"What about them?"
"Have the walkers kill them."
Robbie was desperate. Ryan was hardly breathing now.
"I can get you to Dedeman. I know her."
The man looked down at Robbie with interest now.
"Who are you?"
"A friend of Gunnul and Jamie Dedeman."
"Are you related. You look like her."
The man darted forward like a snake striking and pulled Robbie to her feet by her shirt, shaking her. Ryan fell back with a thump.
"Ryan! Let us go, my daughter is seriously ill."
"You listen to me. You will get me to Gunnul Dedeman or your daughter is dead. Do you understand?"
Robbie was pale with fear and anger.
"Good. But first we must create some confusion on the island. Our Moai is going to walk again tonight and it's going to tell some villager that Gunnul Dedeman murdered Ayala."
Hours before Christy had run into Gunnul's room. "Mom! Please wake up"
Gunnul slipped from her bed in an instant and was at her daughter's side. Christy and Jamie always marvelled at how Gunnul could go from deeply asleep to instantly awake.
"What is the matter? You are well, Christy?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Mom, I know this sounds strange but the Moai have talked to me. Something has happened to Ryan. She is dangerously ill. We must help her. Please, Mom, you must believe me. We must go to them."
Gunnul looked at her daughter with worried eyes but when she responded it was with confident conviction.
"Get dressed. We will leave immediately."
They drove in tense silence over to the villa that the Williams were renting and found the lights on and a police car outside.
Christy opened the door and was out running towards the house before Gunnul could even turn the car off. Gunnul followed her daughter in a sprint.
She arrived at the open door and found a crowd facing her. It was Christy who spoke.
"Mom, Ryan and Robbie are missing. They left hours ago to visit us and never arrived. I have to think. I need to be alone. I'll be outside."
Gunnul nodded as Christy moved past her. She turned back to the group.
"What has happened?"
It was Aliki who answered. She stood behind Mac who sat in a chair looking stressed and worried.
"When I got back here I found Mac alone. At first, we weren't worried, but when Ryan and my sister didn't return we began to have concerns. I phoned over to your lodge and they said that Robbie and Ryan had never come through the security gate. It was then that we called the police."
Gunnul look of worry darkened to one of despair.
"I fear, no I'm almost certain, that this might be because of me. I have received threatening letters. I suspect that it was me they were after. Robbie Williams looks, I am told, very much like myself."
There was a murmur of surprise and the police demanded an explanation. Gunnul went on.
"Some months ago, I got word that cases of Chilean wine were arriving at customs in Australia travelling there via a tourist plane that passed through Easter Island and Tahiti. My business interests are international and varied but I am a Moslem. I do not trade in alcohol. I hired people I could trust to investigate.
"My man here contacted me several weeks ago saying he had information but had to share it in person because he feared for his life. When I got here he told me that the wines were probably originating not in Chile but Columbia. Naturally, I feared drugs were being smuggled. Yet, I didn't take him seriously enough when he told me it was his enemy's Moai that would kill him. As you know, Alfonso Ayala was murdered sometime last night."
There was a great deal of commotion then as everyone had questions and views to express. It was Christy coming suddenly to the door that silenced them.
"Listen. Listen please. It's a cave. They are in a deep pit of a cave and the entrance is small and made of piled rocks. I can hear the sea." Christy turned to the police. "Do you know this place."
"There are many caves. Many would fit this description."
Christy frowned. "This one has small windows."
"Ahhhh, then it is Ana Kakenga. The cavern of two windows. It is high on a cliff and over looks the sea."
"That's it! We must go there and we must go quickly. There is little time. Ryan is in great danger."
The police officer hid a smile behind his hand. "Miss, I know this is very real to you but it was a dream. I think it would be best if we organized a search party to check along the cliff edge and continue our questioning of those who might have seen Alfonso Ayalo that last day."
"The Moai talked to me," Christy stated stubbornly.
Gunnul put her hand on her daughter's shoulder. "It seems strange, but I assure you that my daughter knows. You must believe her."
"I believe her," stated MacKenzie, getting up. "I have seen Ryan and Christy together. They are...one. She knows. I'm sure she knows."
Gunnul took command.
"I suggest that our resources will be better spent following various leads. The police know the island and its people and should continue with their investigation. We will go and check this cave just to make sure that Ryan and Robbie are not there. Aliki, I hope you will join us."
"I go where Mac goes," Aliki answered, although she felt the police investigation would be more successful. Mac needed to be doing something.
They split up shortly after. The police headed into town and the others in two cars headed up the north shore road past the Tahai Ceremonial Centre and on up to the high cliffs were Ana Kakenga cave was located.
Over a mile away from the cave, Aliki slowed and pulled her car behind a large patch of bushes along the side of the dirt road and the others pulled in behind her.
Gunnul nodded, already thinking in terms of a battle plan.
"Yes, we should go by foot from here. The element of surprise is important. Once we get close, we should divide into two groups and come on the site from two different directions. You are armed, Aliki?"
"Yes," came the response, for Aliki always carried a knife. "And you?"
"I will be if it is needed."
Aliki looked at Gunnul with respect. She had no doubt that the famous warrior would already have formulated various scenarios and worked out plans.
Quietly, they headed up the road together, keeping close into the shadows of the underbrush that grew along the side of the lane. Aliki and Gunnul led the way with Christy and Mac following close behind.
Whatever their plans had been the reality they faced was altogether different. They heard the noise of a car crunching towards them along the gravel road and quickly took cover in the underbrush. But it wasn't a car that slowly rose over the crest of the road. It was the massive form of a Moai.
The women crouched down, eyes wide in disbelief as slowly the head and then the body of a Maoi rose in front of them swinging from side to side as it moved. They kept low and let in pass. The structure was made of canvas and fitted over a small car like a float in a parade.
Gunnul looked at Christy. Christy shook her head. Ryan was not inside the strange device. Once it passed they continued carefully on their way. Aliki and Mac circled right along the base of the bluff. Gunnul and Christy had gone left. As they got closer they could see a guard sitting at the mouth of the cave. A rifle lay across his lap.
Gunnul was in a better position, having come up behind the guard. She signalled for Christy to stay back. She slipped the cord from the bottom of her light jacket and silently moved forward. The guard barely gave a gasp as the cord slipped over his head and snapped tight around his throat. In minute, he was dead on the ground.
The others moved forward now and joined Gunnul. She signalled that she and Aliki would go into the cave first and Christy and Mac would wait. This was the dangerous part. Gunnul got down on her belly and wiggled forward down the tunnel. Aliki was right behind her.
The inside of the cave was dark. Gunnul crept slowly forward, keeping low and making as little sound as possible. When her outstretched fingers reached the edge of the tunnel where it dropped off into a deep pit, she stopped. From her pocket she slowly pulled a small flashlight. Holding it well away from her, she turned it on and threw it into the cave. A split second later, a gun went off and she rolled into the cave in the opposite direction from the one that she had thrown the torch. The shot echoed loudly around the cave. In the dim light cast by the flashlight, Gunnul could make out the figure of a man turning now to fire at her.
He never got the chance. From the darkness of the tunnel, a knife whistled by and embedded itself in the man's chest. He gave only a small gasp as he sunk to his knees and fell forward on his face.
Gunnul dived for the gun he had dropped and rolled into the shadows but no further attack came.
"Things look secure," Gunnul whispered.
A beam of light came from the tunnel and Aliki dropped down into the pit. Her flashlight caught Robbie and Ryan in its beam.
Robbie looked up, her face aged with anguish.
"She's dead. I....I think she's dead," she moaned over the still body of her daughter.
Gunnul was over at the tunnel mouth in two quick steps.
Christy and Mac were already crawling down the tunnel. They dropped from the entrance one after the other and ran to Ryan's side.
Mac touched her lover. The body was cold and damp.
"Ryan? Please no, Ryan," she sobbed.
Christy placed her hand on Ryan's head. No one moved. It was as if time had stopped and they were frozen like a photograph taken many years ago. The air in the cave seemed to warm and dry. There was a faint scent of desert herbs and exotic spices.
Christy let her mind empty of everything but the connection that she had with the power around the ancient grave the other side of the world. Whispers of past lives seemed to surround her. With great effort, she reached deeper into the lost memories. Her hands trembled with the exertion and a bead of sweat trickled down from her temple.
Please, she thought, If ever I needed the power it is now. Let me help Ryan. Please!
Gunnul blinked. Her eyes seemed to be playing tricks on her for she thought for a second she could see below Ryan the ancient markings of the gravestone that lay in a private garden on her estate in Turkey.
Ryan moved slightly and Mac sobbed in relief, her head resting on the chest of the woman she loved. Robbie, exhausted with fear, slumped into Aliki's protective arms, tears silently rolling down her face.
"Christy?" Gunnul asked softly, placing her arms around her exhausted daughter to support her.
Christy nodded. "It will be okay now."
Later, Aliki drove the car as close to the entrance of the cave as she could and using the car blanket as a stretcher they very carefully carried and dragged Ryan from the cave and placed her on the back seat. Robbie and Mac squeezed in on the floor beside her and Aliki drove carefully and slowly down the road. Gunnul and Christy followed in the other car, leaving the dead and the crime scene for the police to handle.
They went straight to the island hospital, which was really no more than an emergency clinic. The doctor and nurse on duty, however, were competent and caring. Ryan was tired but conscious and speaking clearly. She remembered little but except for some numbness in her left toes she seemed to have free movement again.
Robbie and Mac stayed with Ryan for the rest of the night although Robbie did slip out to let Janet, back home, know what had happened to their daughter. Aliki, after talking to Dawn by phone, saw to notifying the police and providing a preliminary statement and Gunnul and Christy used their considerable influence and money to arrange for a private plane and medical team to arrive the following day to take Ryan back to a hospital San Diego, Chile. They then went back to their room to call Jamie and to get some sleep.
It had gone noon when Christy showed up at the small hospital, relieving Robbie and Mac who were badly in need of a shower and sleep.
Christy sat on the chair beside Ryan's bed.
"You are awake?"
"Yes. You saved my life. Thank you."
"Years ago, Ryan Williams, you trusted me with your body and soul and saved me and our parents from a great evil. I owed you my life. Now I have saved yours and repaid this debt."
"How? I don't understand. There is no scientific explanation for what happened. I'm sure I'd had a stroke and was dying."
Christy laughed. "There are some things, my pragmatic friend, that can not be explained by science. They are far greater, far older and far more beautiful." Christy frowned. "You must give up the space program, Ryan. You have had too many concussions over the years, my friend. It would not be good for you to be in environments where the air pressure and gravity change so quickly "
Ryan's mouth formed an unhappy and stubborn line.
Christy took her hand. "No, you must not be sad or resistant to change. Life is unfolding as it should. You must accept and embrace the changes. They will make you very happy."
"I think you will continue working for the space program, Ryan, but as a scientist on Earth and you will have time to follow a career in music too. You would like this, no?"
"Yes, I love music. I am happiest playing my violin."
Christy smiled. "Yes, and you will want to be home more with the child that you and Mac will have."
"Someday. And thank you."
"I think you will call her Christy, no?" and Christy laughed.
Ryan blushed but looked pleased.
"Next year, I will marry. You and MacKenzie will come to our wedding, please?"
Ryan smiled. "Of course. Who is the lucky person?"
"I haven't met him yet but I will soon and Ryan he will be wonderful. Even Gunnul will approve of him. Now you must sleep."
The next day, they all flew to Chile where they would meet Janet and Dawn, who were flying down, and where Ryan went through a full battery of tests. Yes, she'd had a stroke probably a result of an old head injury and yes, she had miraculously completely recovered.
Mac and Christy sat beside Ryan's bed. Mac held Ryan's hand in her own.
"I can't thank you enough, Christy. I don't understand what you did in the cave but I know I wouldn't have Ryan here had you not been there."
Christy beamed. "We will be the best of friends because we are all connected now. Things are as they should be. I do not pretend to understand the powers of the past. I only know that through them I can sometimes help others. I am glad it was you and Ryan."
Out in the hall, Gunnul, Robbie and Aliki stood in silence looking out the hospital window down on to the city of San Diego. Three different women and yet so very alike in features and abilities.
Gunnul stirred. "We will all meet again soon."
The other two nodded, knowing it was true even though they did not as yet no why.
Robbie smiled. "Our lives seem to be entwined, Gunnul."
Aliki held out her hand and Gunnul grasped it. Robbie placed her hand on top. The bond between their families would always be strong.
Women are strong and our lives and our stories continue to unfold.
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