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 which is followed by a sheer drop making it very dangerous footing. This area curves outward, 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 which is a frequent tourist destination that sits another sixty metres higher. The extra height is a grass covered area sloping down toward 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 it’s 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 toward the cliff at an angle they turn to see where he’s going. 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 to carry her toward 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 to identify what it is. On seeing Gerry running flat out they look ahead of him, and swear as well. Isobelle softly 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. Halfway to the horizon she sees a very familiar shape. Switching her radio to the national 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 toward 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 dive-sleds for deep dive work. He gives them a summary of the situation before them. None holds out much hope for the girl or the 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 to drop long 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 toward Highcliff she sees a helicopter making fast time toward 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 while 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 loosened 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.
Running as fast as he can Gerry reaches the girl, and grabs her arm. Lifting her up he tucks her inside his open 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 locks 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 toward 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 toward 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.
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 heading to port of the point of impact by three points, Sir. I can’t pull her back.”
Captain Rogers turns to look 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 dive-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 toward 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.
Seeing the action on the deck Captain Rogers orders the Zodiac launched, and to sound recall alert four. With the Zodiac in the water he goes to full power while Dani-girl turns for the beach, and surges forward. Seeing a small knot of Guards uniforms on the beach he heads toward them.
On deck one of his medical people is wrapping the girl in a warm blanket while the rest are draining water out of the man. They remove the damaged helmet, and one of the team sits back in shocked surprise, one of the deck crew helping turns aside with tears flowing down his cheeks. The medics start to resuscitate the diver. They’re a hundred metres from the beach when the so still figure jerks, rolls, screams, and heaves up lots of water. He faints again, but is breathing on his own.
Grabbing the ship’s broadcast microphone Captain Rogers says, “All hands, all hands, prepare for impact, we’re going aground.” The medical staff all grab hold of their patient with one hand while grabbing part of the ship with the other. Dani-girl hits the sloping beach hard, she slides forward another five metres, until she’s well and truly aground.
The waiting medical people rush forward, and swarm over the side. Popping open cases they brought with them they run diagnostic equipment over the rescued man. One runs another unit over the girl, and pronounces her as shaken, stirred, but OK. Even from the distant bridge Captain Rogers can see the lead medic is swearing and abusing the patient. He has a hard time stifling the urge to laugh. Leaving the bridge he goes forward, and joins the group on deck. Reaching them he sees the patient is now in a stokes stretcher, and covered with a foam to immobilise him. Captain Rogers is stunned, he’s only a teenager while wearing Lieutenant Colonel’s insignia. He gulps, because he knows of only one officer that young and that senior. It’d be a shame to lose him, a great shame.
The visiting medical team are from the Protector’s Own, so is their patient. The Major is busy foaming the rest of the Colonel’s body while another member is talking on a mobile phone. Captain Rogers gulps when he hears her say, “I’m sorry, King Edward, but Major Angelson is too busy assessing the damage to talk to you right now. Once he’s stabilised and we know what we’re dealing with I’ll have her call you.” She listens for a moment, and replies, “Look, you’re going to have to wait, he’s now our concern, not yours, so bug out, granddad.” Angrily she turns the phone off. Seeing the shocked look on Captain Rogers face she smiles, and says, “If we don’t put the old bugger in his place every now and then he’ll try to micro-manage us again.” She turns away, and helps lower gear back over the side. Major Angelson is supervising the movement of her patient to the shore.
Captain Rogers watches the group depart. When he turns toward the bridge the bosun salutes, and gives him the damage report. Plenty of broken crockery and lose items, but the hull is perfectly sound. She’s a very sound and solid boat. A call from the bridge has him racing back to it. Looking to sea he spots the Zodiac heading inshore with his divers and a tow cable. The other end is attached to Dream Girl, the very first ship in this class. Her engines are a bit bigger than his, and the tide is coming in. Maybe they can get her off now, instead of later.
The crew quickly secures the tow cable to the cleat in the middle of the edge of the rear deck. Dream Girl’s stern sinks low in the water when she applies power. Dani-girl shivers, and slides backward; she’s soon free of the beach. The crew cheers, looking around the bridge Captain Rogers blinks. Shaking his head he picks up the radio microphone, and thanks Dream Girl for her help. Captain Harding acknowledges the thanks, and thanks them for the rescue.
When they turn to head out to sea the bosun steps up beside Captain Rogers, saying, “You saw her, too! Didn’t you, Captain?” He looks at the bosun, who says, “That was her, all right. Senior Lieutenant Dani-girl Amiri for whom this boat’s named. She wouldn’t miss this rescue, no way. That young man’s her young brother, her favourite. She’d make sure we got to him in time.” Captain Rogers looks at the bosun, and gulps while he nods yes. He’s going to have to revise his opinion about spirits and ghosts, now he’s seen one twice in one day!
Honey Bee, the special emergency helicopter Gerry owns, lands at View Port Hospital. Major Angelson goes with her patient into the hospital, and up to a secure operating room. Using the much more sophisticated equipment there they make a very detailed analysis of Gerry’s injuries. The regular hospital doctors want to amputate the left arm because all the bones in it are destroyed, and Angie is against it. Twenty minutes later they’re still arguing when Queen Lara and King Herbert arrive. Luckily Lady Meara arrives with them.
To the doctors Meara says, “As I understand this situation you see no point in retaining the arm. However, he’s in no danger of major complications if it’s left on for now.” They nod yes. “Then leave it alone, and treat the other injuries first. When he wakes ask him what to do. He’s a doctor too, and he has a better understanding of the situation than I do. As his wife I refuse to allow you to remove the arm without his express prior approval.” Defeated, the hospital staff doctors retire gracefully. Turning to Angie she says, “OK, Angie, what’s the full damage?”