Sep. 7th, 2011

I was leading exercises at Fat Sam's Tiki Dojo when Moogy ran in. He was breathless and looked worried. Our eyes met across the room full of students, practicing punches and kicks in their floral-patterned gis with the masks of our tribal ancestors looking down upon us. I tapped a senior student on the shoulder to direct him to continue instruction, then crossed to the front where Moogy was. From his overstuffed papa-san in his raised alcove, Fat Sam puffed on his pipe and watched me inscrutably.

Despite his windedness, Moogy managed a proper salute and bow. "Jumping Spider," he gasped, "it's Hibiscus Sue! She's at the South Pacific Empress – and she's in trouble!"

I grabbed Moogy by the arms and shook him. "What do you mean?" I demanded. Hibiscus Sue and I had, well, a special relationship. She wasn't my girl, exactly, but I think she wanted to be. I just hadn't gotten the courage up to ask her yet. I may be the baddest street koa in all of Tikitown, but when it comes to girls, I'm downright shy.

"It's Cargo Phil!" said the exhausted Moogy. "He wanted Hibiscus Sue to dance for him, and he wasn't taking no for an answer! Some goons dragged her back into the private area at the South Pacific Empress – I saw it with my own eyes!"

I let go of Moogy, who chafed his arms. Cargo Phil was a bad man who made his living running dirty contraband into and out of Tikitown. You couldn't get a trained monkey or pufferfish venom unless Cargo Phil had put his hands on it. I'd had trouble with Cargo Phil and his hired gorillas before, but this time he had gone too far.

"Just a moment," croaked Fat Sam, waddling out of his alcove. All the students stopped their exercises and dropped to the mat, prostrate; even I saluted and bowed. Fat Sam put a hand on my shoulder.

"Favorite student," he said tenderly, "I sense you are needed elsewhere. The ancestors must give you strength. Drink this." He handed me a ruby-red Mai Tai.

"It will give you… special powers," Fat Sam observed shrewdly.

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