02-08 Dani-girl

by Ernest Bywater

Tags: Fiction, Military, Vignettes, Workplace, Extra Sensory Perception, Royalty, Violent,

Desc: Drama Story: June 2002, a young woman from a family of warriors faces her destiny - head on. Through an unusual and close link to her young genius brother, he's more aware of events than you think. This story is part of a series that follows events that shape his life and destiny, this is one event at a critical time in his life. It answers the questions 'What IS a warrior?' 'Can a warrior also be a pacifist?'

She was born Danielle Annette Nancy Isobelle Amiri on December 16th, 1975, two days before her cousin Daniel Albert Nathan Imara. Neither set of parents knew what the other named their child until the Imara family moved back to live with the clan in View Port. The Imara family had been living in the Dareed Region due to Mr Imara's work. The children first meet when they're five years old and about to start school together at View Port, both are usually called Dani / Danny. This causes some confusion until an older family member suggests Danielle be called Dani-girl and Daniel be called Danny-boy. That's how they're known from then on.

Dani-girl is an outgoing and vivacious person who gets on well with everybody and is known by everybody in the area. By the time she reaches high school many people are coming to her for help and advice. On graduation from high school she joins the Royal Guards, a tradition in her clan. Unlike most, she joins the Royal Rescue Service, the Fishers. After completing basic training she's assigned to the 1st Regiment, the Sky Hooks.

The Fishers promote their people on skill and experience. However, people can be promoted while still performing the same basic tasks, because this is a brigade of specialists. In most Guards units a person can start as a basic trooper and change duties during their career, due to extra training (e.g. heavy weapons training and you move from a rifle team to a mortar team) or promotion (e.g. a promotion to sergeant means a change in duties and sometimes a move to another platoon or company). Fishers specialise early in their career and continue in that speciality, adding new skills and duties by training and promotion; e.g. a pilot will start as private in flight training, graduate as a corporal co-pilot, be promoted to sergeant and become a pilot (they may change teams then), be promoted through to major while staying the pilot of the same team and may get given more duties as a platoon leader or a company commander. The higher ranking pilot will have extra skills, more experience, and be called upon for the harder tasks. All personnel continue training to improve and expand their skills and capabilities, thus making it possible to save more lives. Few people transfer between teams; this is usually only done when both the senior members of a team leave at once and the junior members don't have enough seniority to take over command of the team. Most new Swords join experienced teams needing replacements for retiring personnel or people killed in an off-duty accident, they have almost no one who dies on the job. The work is risky, but not that hazardous, due to their training.

The one Fishers duty that can change a lot is the rescue helicopter deck crew. Privates leave basic camp as medics or door gunners and are posted to rescue teams. On a team they learn and fill other deck crew roles. Upon passing the extra courses they become a 'swimmer, ' the one dropped to prepare people for winching to safety. In a good crew they'll switch roles around on a regular basis, after they're all cross trained. The winch and the deck is run by the Deck Master, the senior deck crew member, usually the most experienced and best trained of the deck crew. In a helicopter rescue team the pilot is always in charge of the team in the air. But it's the Deck Master who decides if a rescue is viable or not. In every crew the two senior members will be the pilot and the Deck Master, but either can be the senior rank. The senior rank in a team is responsible for team discipline and administration, plus doing the ground-side paper work. The pilot always has responsibility for the helicopter's airworthiness and operation and the Deck Master always has responsibility for the flight deck's equipment.

By her twenty-third birthday Dani-girl is a senior sergeant and Deck Master of Team Able, 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, Sky Hooks - 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, A Company, 1st Royal Rescue Service. Alpha Company operates from the Darlee Air Base in the southern part of the Dareed region; it used to be a Dareed Military Air Base. This base covers the whole of the Dareed region. Although this base is the regimental headquarters only the first three companies operate from it. The other companies are deployed as individual companies at bases in the north, to give better coverage and response times to those areas. All major equipment servicing is done at this base, thus it includes a fair sized civilian operated repair unit as well as other civilian run logistical support services. All units bring their equipment here for major services and repairs.

There are only two interests in Dani-girl's life: her work as a Fisher and her youngest brother, Gordie. Despite sixteen years differences in age there's a very close rapport between them that's existed since he was born. So they can spend the most free time together she times her leaves to match the times when he's also available. She lists him as her sole heir and executor of her estate when he passes his manhood tests.

Gordie takes great pride in all her achievements. Especially her promotion to Senior Lieutenant on her twenty-sixth birthday. Such pride he arranges a special party for her at 'The Landing's Field' restaurant. It's very expensive, but well worth the cost. She's greatly moved by the event and the trouble he goes to in order to do it for her.

The Rescue

At 17:30 hours on Saturday 20 June, 2002 a call comes into Fish Comm (the Rescue Service Call Centre); a boat is in trouble about two kilometres south-west of the southernmost point of Berant. Dani-girl's team is the duty team, so they scramble for their helicopter and head out. The location puts the boat about thirty minutes flight time away and well off the coast.

On route they get an update: the boat is sinking fast, one adult dead, another badly injured, and seven children on board. Tension is high in the chopper while they race the setting sun to the boat. Arriving on site they report the situation: no boat visible, seven children clinging to floats, no life vests, no signs of adults, failing light, and sharks moving in. The helicopter hovers low over the scene with all flood lights on and the door gunner is shooting the sharks when the swimmer jumps into the water with harness rigs for the children while Dani-girl lowers the winch. Soon all the children have harnesses on and the swimmer is attaching the children to the winch cable. The regulations call for no more than three children at a time. Suddenly it's quiet, too quiet. The machine-gun keeping the sharks at bay by killing those getting too close has stopped, it's jammed. The gunner is frantic while she works on the gun. But the gun won't work because the firing mechanism won't open or move, it's frozen solid.

Releasing her harness from the safety straps Dani-girl draws her combat knife while she takes the medic's combat knife and orders the gunner to take over the winch. Stepping to the doorway she leaps out into the night in the direction of the shark pack, shouting, "For the people." She lands on the foremost shark, the impact kills it, and she stabs a shark on either side before killing all the sharks near her by stabbing them. Reaching as far as she can and stabbing as hard as possible she quickly kills several sharks by stabbing them in their brains. The pack is a large one with over a hundred sharks in it. She continues to stab and kill sharks with the 400 mm knives. Even when a shark pulls her under the water she manages to kill some swimming lower down and come up under others so she can kill more of them. The sharks are delayed by eating their dead, because it's a closer food source, which is what she intends them to do.

Knowing time is now extremely critical the swimmer throws the regulations to the wind and attaches the four smallest children to the winch. It's quickly hauled up, the children unhooked, and the winch lowered again. The medic wraps the children in warm blankets while she leads them across the flight deck to strap them into seats. The swimmer has the three largest children harnessed to the winch, they're winched up, unhooked, and the medic takes care of them. All through this the co-pilot is watching what's happening with Dani-girl. He sees her dragged under the water a few times, a clear indication a shark has attacked her. The winch is lowered to the swimmer and he hooks on. Turning himself until he's hanging upside down with a leg around the cable he directs the pilot to move the helicopter over Dani-girl.

Once in position above Dani-girl they lower him until he can reach out and grab her harness. Urgently they raise the winch. The radio is filled with the sound of the swimmer crying, because he can see she's lost both legs at the knees and her side is badly savaged, with blood pouring out of all the wounds. After getting her into the helicopter, a difficult operation in the circumstances, the medic, door gunner, and swimmer are like dervishes while they apply tourniquets and bandages to stop the bleeding. The pilot turns for the coast and has the helicopter at maximum speed while he heads for the nearest hospital.

Everyone on the helicopter is crying, except Dani-girl. Reaching to the eldest child, a girl sitting near her, Dani-girl takes her hand and squeezes it, saying, "I knew the price when I made the deal, seven for one is a bargain." To the medic, "Tell Gordie I love him. It's too late for the hospital. Take me home." Sighing, she closes her eyes and stops breathing. At 18:25 hours, after trying resuscitation, the medic declares her dead. The pilot cuts back on his speed and changes course, he's heading towards base now. Going on the radio he informs command of the events. They agree: bring her home.

The Ball

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