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. after heavy weapons training 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 then continue in the speciality while 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 to become a pilot (they may change teams then), be promoted through to major while staying the pilot of the same team while they 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 while 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 to 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 while 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 the base 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.
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 while 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 to 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 he 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 while saying, “I knew the price when I made the deal, seven for one is a bargain.” Turns 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 toward base now. Going on the radio he informs command of the events. They agree: bring her home.
The 28th Annual Royal Charity Débutantes’ Ball is well under way. It started at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon with the girls being presented to King Edward, and dinner was served at 4:30 p.m. The ball starts and finishes early, because it’s a fund raising débutante’s ball with all the girls being presented to the King and society having to be unmarried, with good school marks, have minimum sponsorship of five thousand dollars, and turned fifteen years of age but not eighteen years of age. Not wanting to upset parents by keeping young girls out too late the organisers run it from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; plenty of time for all the presentations, fund raising activities, food, and dancing. There are fifty-four girls this year. Each sponsored girl has a table for four, and others may buy tickets at one thousand dollars per table of four. With some fun fund raising activities still to happen it looks like being a good year. Two hundred and seventy thousand dollars from sponsorships, and another fifty thousand dollars from table sales. There are no costs, because the King pays for this ball held in the Royal Reception Room at Highcliff, the Royal Palace between View Port and Carmel. This very large room is the full width of the headland, and it has balconies on three sides so people can see out over Carmel, View Port, and the Marina.
The widowed mother and ten year old sister, Lorna, of débutante Melissa Smithers are enjoying the meal with their close friend Gordie Mannheim - an over tall ten year old boy and classmate of Lorna. They invited him to share their table because he’d arranged for Melissa to be sponsored by the local company View Port Internet. They still don’t know how he talked them into sponsoring Melissa, since they know no one at the company. They’re very happy with Gordie, because he also arranged for Melissa’s sponsorship to include a formal gown with all accessories, hair styling, and full make up for tonight. She looks like a princess tonight. It’s a night none of them will ever forget.
At 6:20 p.m. dinner is finished, and the people are chatting. A few minutes later Gordie suddenly looks up, frowns, and swears. Very unusual behaviour for him. Excusing himself he gets up, and walks outside to the balcony overlooking View Port. Pulling a mobile phone from his pocket he punches a number. While he waits for an answer his sister, Isobelle, walks out onto the balcony to stand beside him. The phone is answered, and he says, “Pete, please contact your pipers and arrange for them all to find somewhere high near where they are, and play ‘Danny Boy,’ followed by ‘The Last Post.’ Call me back when you’ve got it ready.” Turning to his sister, with tears streaming down his face he says, “She’s gone, Issy, she’s gone.” Isobelle staggers back, because she’s never seen him this disturbed about anything. He turns, and looks over the town; it’s a lovely sight, but he doesn’t see it - not at all.
Not sure what’s happening, but determined to keep a good record, Isobelle is a chronic record keeper now days, she goes to her seat to get her portable recorder from her handbag, and returns to the balcony. A moment after she does Gordie gets a phone call, he acknowledges the call, and hangs up. Sensing something important she turns on the recorder, and places it on a table nearby. A moment later she can hear distant flutes and bagpipes playing the introduction to the song ‘Danny Boy,’ when it reaches the point for the vocalist to join in Gordie starts singing, “Oh, Dani-girl, the pipes, the pipes are calling, from glen to glen, and down the mountainside...” Putting her hands to her face in shock Isobelle staggers back when she realises the meaning of his words and actions. Their favourite sister is dead, and he’s singing her spirit home. Dropping into a chair beside the table she sits there quietly crying. The tears pour down both their faces while he sings.
A small crowd of their closest friends and family have come to the balcony doorway, but none move or speak. They don’t know why or what’s going on, but they recognise the intense pain and sorrow present on the balcony. Some of the family realise the import of the changed words to the song, and they leave the doorway with tears streaming down their faces. Somehow the atmosphere of the balcony is spreading throughout the reception room with people falling quiet, and the dance music stops, the only sounds are Gordie’s pain filled voice singing with the distant pipers. The song ends, a short spell, and the pipes start again with ‘The Last Post.’ Gordie stands there with his head bowed. It comes to an end. He turns, and walks inside; the crowd makes way for him in total silence.
Gordie is halfway across the room when his mobile phone rings. Answering it he listens to it, and says, “Thank you, Colonel, you may release her name. I’ll be there early tomorrow morning. Please see she and her things remain undisturbed until I arrive. Will you please repeat that information to this person?” He hands the phone to King Edward, who, on seeing Gordie’s expression, walked across the room to meet him to find out what the issue is.
King Edward listens to the caller, and says, “Thank you, Colonel.” Hanging up he turns, and walks to the microphone set up for the Master of Ceremonies. He turns it on, “Excuse me, I’m sorry, but the ball will be ending early this year. I’ve just been informed Senior Lieutenant Danielle ‘Dani-girl’ Amiri died in the course of her duties with the Royal Rescue Service at six twenty-five p.m. tonight. I, like so many of you here tonight, knew her well, and after hearing this news I’m unable to continue with a party. The rooms will stay open until the advertised closing time for those who wish to stay here. Please excuse me, because I must go and give her family my condolences. Thank you.”
The whole room is silent, and many are openly crying. She was very well known and loved by all in both the towns of View Port and Carmel. Most soon leave for home, to grieve in private
At 07:45 hours Sunday June 21st Darlee Traffic Control notices a private company jet heading toward their base. Just before it hits their restricted zone perimeter the radio comes alive with, “Darlee Traffic, Victor Papa One requesting clearance to land at Darlee, have important passenger for Colonel Steinmann, over.”
The controller replies, “Victor Papa One, copy your request to land, have passenger for Colonel Steinmann. Please hold position outside the restricted zone while I confirm clearance. Over.”
The jet pilot says, “Darlee Traffic, Victor Papa One copies, will hold while you check for approval. Please note, passenger is Amiri heir to see Colonel. Out.”
The controller looks at his supervisor, the supervisor nods while she picks up the phone to call the Colonel. The controller says, “Victor Papa One, Darlee Traffic, cleared for immediate landing runway one seven five, no wind, over.”
The jet pilot replies, “Darlee Traffic, Victor Papa One. Copy, cleared for landing runway one seven five, no wind, out.” He turns to his main passenger, “Take a seat and buckle up, Boss, we’re going in.”
Ten minutes later they’re on the runway. At 08:00 hours they’re parked outside a hangar with Gordie and Isobelle walking down the stairs to meet Colonel Steinmann. The Colonel is surprised when Gordie is followed by eleven competent looking armed bodyguards in fatigues without any insignia. Gordie introduces Isobelle, “This is Danielle’s sister, Isobelle. I hope you don’t mind my bringing her along. I also hope you don’t mind our babysitters. I made them wear fatigues so they won’t look too out of place here.” The Colonel nods agreement. He’s surprised about how young Gordie is, since he’s Danielle’s heir and he knows she has no children, so he thought Gordie was her lover. He got that wrong.
Sensing his confusion Gordie says, “Danielle was my sister, I use father’s name while she used the tribe’s name. We were extremely close.” The Colonel nods at this. Turning, he leads the way across the base to the morgue. On the way he points out and names salient aspects of the base, including the base church and cemetery.
Entering the morgue they find four Swords in dress uniform as an honour guard around Danielle’s corpse. They view Danielle’s body, and the damage. Isobelle is shaken by the damage, and starts crying, Gordie has a face of stone. The Colonel isn’t deceived, he recognises the lack of expression as an iron control of personal emotions. He’s surprised by one so young being so in control of himself. Gordie removes her dog tags, name plate, and shoulder straps. As per regulations she wore no jewellery and had no personal effects on her whilst on duty. These are the closest things to personal items she wore yesterday. They leave for her quarters. At her quarters is another four Sword honour guard. Gordie enters, moves to her desk, and picks up her diary, opens her jewellery box, and removes various items to put them all into his pockets. Going to her bed he takes down her sword hanging on the wall above the bed. After drawing it he studies the blade, and reads the inscription on it. Nodding, he re-sheaths the sword, and buckles it around his own waist. Going to the cupboard he selects a set of clean clothes, name plate, and shoulder pads to be placed on Danielle for the funeral.
Turning to the Colonel he says, “I know I asked you to see her things weren’t touched, but why the honour guard?”
Colonel Steinmann replies, “Danielle was well liked on the base, when I asked for two troops to watch over her and her gear the whole base volunteered to supply a full honour guard for her. They’re all off duty, and one of the senior corporals from her company coordinates the roster. They do two hour shifts.”
While nodding slowly Gordie says, “Thank you, Colonel. Can we please speak to the rest of her flight crew now?” The Colonel leads them to one of the ready rooms where the rest of her flight crew are waiting.
Gordie looks them over, and notices their night has been as bad as his. He says, “I’m sorry, but I’m not really in the mood, or condition, to ask you what happened. Please accept my apologies on that. However, I would like you to tell my friend here everything while he gives you what should be a thorough debriefing.” He waves at one of his bodyguards who has a clipboard in his hand. “I’ve been to Dani-girl’s quarters. I’ve removed the family heirlooms and a few keepsakes. If there’s anything of hers you’ll want as keepsakes please feel free to take them. After you’ve selected what you want the offer’s extended to all of the base personnel. I’d appreciate it if one of you will coordinate the activity.” They’re surprised, and grateful, for the offer, and they nod their thanks. “When the funeral arrangements are finalised I’d like you all there. I’d especially like Captain Stannis, Senior Sergeant Belling, and Sergeant Mathias to be pallbearers, if you’ll agree.” Those named nod their agreement.
Turning, he nods at the man to debrief the crew, the Colonel isn’t happy with this, but says nothing. He notices a set of Guards’ dog tags when the man sits to talk with Captain Stannis, the pilot. The Colonel is trying to work out why a private individual has a serving Guard out of uniform and available to debrief his people, but he can’t come up with an answer that makes any sense to him.
Gordie asks, “Excuse me, Colonel, is there a local undertaker you can recommend?”