03-14 Deadly Dive


Tags: Fiction, Military, .

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: Gerry answers the question about how deeply ingrained training can become when he risks his life to save a young girl from a long fall onto the rocks below the cliff top. Her only hope is if he can catch her and reach the end of the headland to dive into the ocean there before they both slide off the side of the steep cliff face and fall to the rocks. Whatever happens, it's a long way down and sure to hurt when they get there.

In September, 2007 Colonel Gordon Mannheim, acting Regimental Commander of the Protector's Own, the Shields, has the full regiment on the Carmel bluffs exercising. In company groups they're rappelling down the three hundred metre cliffs to the sea drenched rocks and climbing back up. They're using the half kilometre long central section of the bluffs. This area is restricted access because it has a thirty degree outward slope for half its length then followed by a sheer drop, very dangerous footing. This area curves outwards and they can see this side of the southern headland and across to the northern headland and the Marina. The southern head is a lookout and a frequent tourist destination that sits another sixty metres higher. The extra height is a grass covered area sloping down towards the central area at forty-five degrees before following the same profile as the central section. The lookout gives a magnificent view of the sea and right across the tourist resort town of Carmel to Highcliff, the royal residence on the next headland eight kilometres away. The View Port Marina situated at the foot of Highcliff is also visible from the lookout and is a splendid sight of its own. It's full of bright luxury yachts and cruisers.

At 11:30 a.m. D Company is checking ropes prior to making their descent. Gerry is walking amongst the Shields and inspecting their rigging. Looking up across to the headland he swears. He takes off, running fast and accelerating. Shields look up when he passes them. Because he's running towards the cliff at an angle they turn to see where he's headed. They all see a small girl is sliding down the grassy slope of the headland. Gerry hopes to catch her before she drops off the sheer cliff to the rocks below. If he can reach her and carry her towards the front point of the headland he can dive off into deep water instead of onto craggy rocks. It's a gamble, but the only chance the child has. He's prepared to take the risk.

Seeing the rapid movement out of the corner of their eyes Isobelle and Angie look up. Seeing Gerry running flat out they look ahead of him, and swear as well. Softly, Isobelle says, "Please, God, let them live through this." She looks out at the sea, because they'll need a boat in the water for the pick-up, whatever happens. Half way to the horizon she sees a familiar shape. Switching her radio to the emergency frequency, she says, "Unidentified Rescue Vessel off Carmel Head, urgent."

A voice comes back, "This is Rescue Boat Dani-girl, go ahead. Over." She's the lead craft of the Otters, the Fishers Sea Rescue Service.

She says, "Dani-girl, Falcon Six, have urgent sea rescue needed at Carmel Head, two people in the deep water off the head, will need divers. Over." She watches while the boat turns and increases speed towards the land.

On-board Dani-girl Captain Rogers uses his binoculars to examine the water below the headland. Seeing no one in the water he raises the binoculars, and sees the drama unfolding on the cliff. He says a silent prayer for the child and the runner while he activates his radio, "Falcon Six, Dani-girl. Coming in full speed. Over." He orders all divers on deck and to rig the sleds for deep dive work. He gives them a summary of the situation before them. None holds out much hope for the girl or runner, but they'll do their best to give them every bit of help they can, and every chance to survive they can help with.

On the headland Isobelle orders first platoon to race to the headland and drop ropes over the side onto the beach. Angie looks at her for a second. Turning, she orders her medical team to follow her and she races after first platoon. Rappelling down to the beach will be the quickest way to get to them once they're in the water. On her radio, Isobelle says, "Dani-girl, Falcon Six. Once you make pick up beach at the northern end of Carmel Beach, Major Angelson will be on the beach with her full medical team. An emergency helicopter will land there."

Captain Rogers says, "Falcon Six, Dani-girl. Head for the north end of the beach after pick up. Wilco. Out." He orders a Zodiac team to prepare for deployment and informs the divers once the pick up is made he's making for the beach. Those still underwater are to wait until Dani-girl has left their immediate area before surfacing and boarding the Zodiac inflatable boat to follow them in. They all acknowledge the orders.

Activating her radio again Isobelle switches frequencies, and says, "Honey Bee, Watchdog, you're urgently needed at the northern end of Carmel Beach."

A voice replies, "Watchdog, Honey Bee, deploy to northern end of Carmel Beach. Wilco. Out."

Taking out her mobile phone she dials a pre-set number. When it's answered, she says, "Captain Harding, we've an emergency at the northern end of Carmel Beach. Shortly Dani-girl will be grounding here to unload injured. Can you come over to help get her off again." She listens, and says, "Thank you. I'll leave that up to you." Looking towards Highcliff she sees a helicopter making fast time towards her. Lowering her gaze she can see spots moving on the deck of Dream Girl while she's getting under way. Looking at the headland she can see the last of Angie's team dropping over the edge with equipment cases strapped to them.

Lowering her gaze she sees Gerry almost under the sliding girl and running like the wind while his jacket flaps in the breeze. The girl is now sliding down the steeper slope. Time seems to stand still when she watches the drama unfold. The two people near each other. Gerry reaches out to the girl and lifts her up to his chest. She vanishes inside his vest while he continues to run down at an angle. Inside his Nolar vest the girl should survive, but will he. He has to make the end of the cliff before the sheer drop starts, then he still has a dive of about one hundred and fifty metres; and that's a long way down.

Well Caught

Running as fast as he can Gerry reaches the girl and grabs her arm. Lifting her up he tucks her inside his vest and jacket, saying, "When I yell 'now' take a deep breath, hold it as long as you can, then let it out very slowly." She nods her head in understanding. She's only six years old, but smart. Doing his vest up as best as he can Gerry reaches his right arm across the girl's body and tucks it into his belt. He'd dislocated his shoulder when he grabbed her; he hopes he didn't hurt her too badly, but it's better than the rocks. Now he prays he doesn't run out of slope before he runs out of headland. He has to get to the end of the headland to be able to dive into the deep water, and it's a long way down. He has to keep running forward and down at an angle or risk sliding sideways off the edge and down to the rocks. He's using momentum to counter gravity just a bit, but a very useful bit.

Nearing the end of the headland he uses his left hand to pull his helmet visor down and lock it in place. Pulling out his combat knife he thinks, Now I'll find out how strong this new ceramic coated Nolar blade is, while he slips his hand through the strap on the handle. He yells, "Now," and he jumps off the headland using all his strength to go out as far as he can. They go out towards the deep water. Taking a deep breath too, he raises his left arm to hold the knife over his head. He starts to fall forward, and finally head downward towards the sea with the knife held in front to part the waters, he hopes. He hits the water hard; it's like hitting cement at this speed. Reluctantly the water parts before the blade while he screams in agony. His arm breaks on impact. He falls into a sea of black nothing when the pain smashes him into a coma before he gets wet. They go deep, very deep. The air in his lungs leaks out. Slowly they come to a stop and slowly start to rise, turning heads up when they do, water seeps into his mouth. His jacket and vest have formed a small air bubble around the girl's head and upper body, this air is very slow to leak out, and it gives her some extra air to breath.

The Rescue

On Dani-girl they watch the dive. Captain Rogers gives orders to steer for the point of impact. They're a few hundred metres away now. The helmsman says, "Ship's not answering the helm, Sir. She's headed to port of the point of impact by three points, Sir. I can't pull her back."

Captain Rogers turns and looks at the helmsman, then he blinks: did he really see four hands on the wheel just then? Gulping, he says, "Give Dani-girl her head." Stunned, the helmsman stares at him while he releases the wheel. She turns another point to port by herself. No one is touching the engine controls, but she's slowing down. Snapping around Captain Rogers yells, "Divers in the water, quick with it." As per the diving routine the divers start dropping into the water a few metres apart. Ducking under they start their power sleds and head down with lights ablaze. Dani-girl comes to rest about thirty metres to port of the entry point.

The third diver in the line sees something at the limit of his lights and he heads towards it. It's an odd shaped man in green fatigues and combat helmet, the helmet is split. They're super tough and that shouldn't happen. Reaching the man the diver sees his chest wriggling. He realises the girl is still alive, but he hasn't much hope for the man. He opens the vest and gives the girl a spare breathing unit. Just to be safe he places one in the man's mouth as well. He has an octopus rig of four masks for just this sort of thing. Looking up, he locates Dani-girl and heads upward. Surfacing beside the boat he hands the girl and man to those on deck. He immediately dives again so they can get going.

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