Edited by Monbade, Hal, Ronbry
Neena sat on the ledge watching to see where her pursuers went. The 'others' that had chased her, were part of a raiding party that had attacked her tribe during what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life, her mating day. And now her mate was gone as was her father. Sata, her mother and Deena, her sister had fled when the raiders first attacked along with her twin baby brothers, Broal and Proal and any other children they could grab.
Neena had seen her father, Fallar, and mate, Narin, turn to fight, giving the rest of the survivors more time to get away. Neena did as well and bravely stood between her father and her mate. Even the sad realization that the three were badly outnumbered it did not dampen their resolve to fight on.
Neena, fighting hard, watched as Fallar was hit with a spear. Narin's side stopped a knife. Then Neena barely dodged another spear.
Narin and Fallar looked at each other and with a silent agreement told Neena to run. She refused until both men ordered her to find and protect the rest of the family.
Neena knew that when she left the two most important men in her life would die. However she also knew if she stayed she too would die leaving no one to help her mother or the rest.
It was with a final kiss to her love then she fled the fight. Neena only looked back once as she reached the trees. Her father and mate were still fighting but she saw that some of the raiders had seen her.
That was why she was now on a ledge that was about three men high, hidden by the leaves of trees. The cliff and trees held and hid many caves and during trouble the people of her tribe would go to a set that was hard to find and easy to defend. However, with the four raiders following her, Neena could not go to where the rest had gone.
Instead she had headed for one of the small caves that she had used many times as a place of solitude and peace when her family, mainly her siblings were angering her. At the last moment she thought better of going into her cave and took to the lookout ledge with the hope the leaves would hide her well enough.
A light breeze moved the leaves allowing Neena to see the raiders. They were six wide trees away from the cliff, in a narrow opening between two different types of trees.
The killers were following her trail. As they were nearly to the trees below Neena, they turned and looked to the sky. That was also when Neena heard a strange noise.
Kevin Patches knew if he got out of the trouble he was in alive, that he was going to have a serious talk with the big man upstairs.
He was a pilot for hire that had contracted to fly a C-54 Skymaster full of supplies to an oil research and drilling field. He was about half way there when a group of small, mysterious planes attacked him and tried to force him down. The rumors that some of the small gorilla bands around his destination had world war two fighter planes and could attack him for his cargo ended up not being rumors as they started firing. Despite his heroic, evasive maneuvers, he could feel the large cargo plane shutter as his fuel tanks were finally hit.
He could tell he was losing fuel and maybe soon his life, when a very strange and powerful storm materialized. Massive, angry bolts of lightening repeatedly plummeted the single seat fighter craft until each lost their desperate attempts to escape and blew up.
Then as fast as the storm appeared, it disappeared. That would have been fine except that the tips of Kevin's wings, which were wet from the leaking fuel, were struck as well and now were on fire.
Then as fast as the storm came it blew out. Kevin saw the ground rushing at him. Not all his luck was used up, though. There was a way out? He saw it, didn't he? Was it? YES! There it was. Almost by magic, a long, narrow clearing appeared. Kevin valiantly pulled back hard on the stick to level the plane and align it for landing.
Kevin's years of training and experience surged through him. He forced himself to just fly and hope he was alive when the plane stopped.
As the plane came down into the clearing, Kevin knew it was too narrow for the plane to safely complete the landing. Two of the larges trees he had ever seen bracketed the plane and its burning wings, hit them, and tore them off, and threw the masses of burning fuel and metal to the sides of the landing path.
Kevin felt the landing gear touch the ground and stomped the breaks as hard as he could, hoping it was enough to stop what was left of the plane before the trees at the other end of the clearing stopped him.
Neena watch as the large shinny bird came screaming down where the raiders were. And before they could do more than scream they were hit by the fiery wings. Then the wings hit two trees and came off the firebird. The rest of the poor creature slide down the clearing and came to a stop.
Neena wasn't sure if she should get down or stay where she was, but soon her curiosity got the better of her. She climbed down the ledge and slowly approached the clearing.
The wings that had cut the raiders in half where partially imbedded in large trees. Both still smoked but there were no further flames.
Neena looked to the path the thing had taken and saw the ground torn up by the beast's strange claws as it tried to stop. Then she saw the big shiny thing. Smoke was still coming out of where the poor things wings had been ripped off as well as out of where its eyes must have been, though she could not see that part very well.
Kevin thought he just might get out of the nightmare alive but as the plane came to a full stop the control consol before him erupted in sparks, flames and copious amounts of think smoke.
He pulled himself from the seat, in an attempt to not be fuel for the fire and realized he couldn't just bail out. He didn't really know where he was and would most likely need all the supplies the plane held. With grim determination he quickly grabbed one of the fire extinguishers and started spraying the base of the flames that were erupting from the consol.
A few minutes later, he had the fire out except for a few sparks and a little smoke. To be on the safe side he opened several panels and used one of the other canisters to spray the inside. Kevin was just thankful he didn't have to really worry about the sheared wings' fuel tanks making the plane blow up.
A few minutes later Kevin was making sure everything was shut down to prevent further short circuits when he saw something that made him think he was hallucinating. The port window's small mirror startled him when he thought he saw a young person walking cautiously towards the plane.
Kevin's first thought was if it could be a trick or something. Or could it be someone with the people that tried to force him down in the first place. Well to him either could be bad so he went back in to his personal supplies and got out his pistols and his M-16 that he had for security.
A well armed Kevin now surveyed the area outside one of the windows but couldn't see his phantom there. He quickly grasped the side door and opened it.
Neena had moved closer but when the smoke from the creature's head changed color from the black to white she decided she should be less noticeable and moved into the trees. There she watched as the smoke all but stopped.
Neena suddenly remembered that the area wasn't all that safe, took stock of her environment and, to her horror, saw about ten of the raiders that had attacked her village. She was stuck between them and the poor creature, not knowing which she would rather face.
Then the choice was taken from her as one of the raiders apparently spotted her and directed several of the killers in her direction. Neena finally panicked and ran towards the creature.
Kevin stepped out of the plane, looked around, and then, again, saw something he wasn't sure he was seeing. There were about ten men with spears coming in his direction. Several started to angle off as if moving to the tree line. That was when the young person he had seen earlier jumped from the bushes and ran towards him.
Kevin wasn't 100% positive but he could see the face of what was certainly a girl, and she was scared.
With a quick check to make sure his safety was off and his selector switch was on single shot, he put his M-16 to his shoulder and fired at the men.
The sound of thunder and something flying past Neena's head made her drop to the ground for safety but not sure that was all that good either. When she looked back to see how close the raiders were she was surprised to see one on the ground and then the sound of thunder was heard again. She watched as the head of one of the raiders just disappear.
The rest of the raiders, not knowing what was happening, stopped. When a third one fell they all looked towards the strange thing on the ground and saw something. Then another sound of thunder bellowed as a fourth man dropped. That was enough for the group, and they took off running the way they came.
Neena wasn't sure what to do as she watched the raiders run but she wasn't sad to see it happen. Before she could do more than that a shadow passed over her.
Slowly Neena turned and looked up in to the sun framed face of ... She wasn't all too sure but her mind could only come up with one thing. Standing before her was a God, the God ZharPtitsa, the Firebird god.
She knelt putting her head to the ground.
Kevin ran to the girl. He knew he had missed her but he wanted to make sure. As he got closer he could see the girl was looking back at the retreating men.
Kevin came to a stop just behind the girl but out of striking range, he hoped. He also hoped he wouldn't scare the kid too much.
Examining her for a moment, Kevin could tell the girl would be a beauty if someone could hold her under a shower for a little while.
Then the girl turned slowly and looked up at him. The next moved she made surprised him. The girl got on to her knees and began bowing to him. To him her voice was like music as she started chanting something. The only word he even thought he could understand was a repetitious ZharPtitsa or something like that.
Kevin knelt and placed his hand on her shoulder. She shuddered and her litany of words increased. He moved his hand to the side of her head and lifted it to find himself looking into the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. He was lost in them as one was green and the other was blue.
Then he got his wits back.
"It's ok, you're safe now," Kevin said but knew from the look on the girl's face that she didn't understand him.
The girl then tried to go back to bowing but he brought her head back up. Kevin tapped his chest at the same time as he said his name.
"Kevin, I'm Kevin."
The girl looked at him funny then reached out and touched his chest and said the word he thought he could pronounce but added his name to the end.
He shook his head, "No just Kevin, Kevin," he repeated.
"Kevin," the girl said them tapped her chest and said meekly, "Neena."
Kevin smiled and started to help the girl, no Neena, to her feet.
"It's nice to meet you Neena. Now the question is what were those men up to and why are you out here all alone?"
Neena wasn't sure what to do. It was clear the God ZharPtitsa had claimed her. He had given her his secret name. But she wasn't worthy. Though she had been mated to another, her maidenhead had not been taken by her beloved. She didn't even know if he was alive or dead.
She was thinking of how to ask him something when she heard yelling. She turned to see the raiders returning in force. Then she caught a glimpse of some of the people from her village behind them and quickly drew her knife and stood ready to fight.
"Oh Shit!" exclaimed Kevin.
From out of the woods farther back from where the wings were men started to emerge from the forest. When he saw the wings he came up with an idea that he could use if he needed too.
One of the wings was not as close to the forest line as the other. From where he and Neena were he could see a small dripping of some fuel from the tank. If he needed to he could shoot at the wing and hope to spark the fuel enough and get it to blow.
Then something about the group didn't look right to him. The front of the group was now chanting and dancing around. It was the words that he caught; they sounded a lot like what Neena had used.
That was when lightning struck or at least to him it felt like it. Neena must have thought that he was a god fallen too earth.
Kevin quickly looked back at what was left of his plane and had to imagine what it looked like when he came down. He remembered that his wings would have been on fire from the lightning striking the wings after some of the bullets had hit the tanks and fuel lines. That only made the image in his mind that much worse.
Kevin watched as the men had moved forward but it was the people behind them that were being pushed that he realized something else.
Kevin looked at Neena again. That was when he saw what looked like cuts and bruises. She had been fighting and recently.
"Shit! Neena did those guys attack you and your people?" Kevin asked as he looked at her.
Neena just tilted her head as if to say, 'I don't understand, '
Kevin pointed to the group in front of them, then to Neena's knife, then at her.
Neena tried to think what the Kevin was saying. Then it hit her he wasn't saying something he was asking. Was he asking if the group attack her? As she watched him repeat the gestures with a bit more when he came to the knife she was sure that was what he was asking.
Neena nodded her head. She then pointed and waved her hand more at the people at the back of the group and patted her chest.
That was all Kevin needed. He switched the M-16 to full auto, and then turned to Neena, "Neena, you stay here!" Kevin pointed to her them to the ground, "You stay. I'll get your people!"
Neena wasn't sure what the Kevin was going to do but his order for her to stay was clear.
Kevin caressed the side of Neena's head as she nodded her agreement, and then walked away from her.
Kevin took about ten steps towards the large group and fired his M-16 into the air. It got the response he was partially hoping for.
Several of the men in front dropped to the ground, bowing. Some at the back pushed the others that were now clearly prisoners to the ground as well.
An older man that was still standing started dancing around again. It was again clear to Kevin that the man was some kind of witch doctor or priest or some kind. What wasn't clear was weather it was to appease him or drive him a way.
Then men ran off into the words from what looked like orders from the shaman. The men returned quickly with wood and piled it up. That was also when the shaman made a gesture and a young man or older boy was brought forward.
The boy struggled, as fear grew on his face.
Kevin shouted and fired again, hoping what he was trying to do would work.
Kevin hit his chest, while yelling a bunch of nonsense. Then he pointed to the boy, hit his chest again then pointed back to Neena.
The men didn't move but looked even more ready to toss the boy on the now burning pile of wood. The shaman yelled something and two men picked the boy up.