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“May Day, May Day, May Day. This is Whiskey 378 Alpha Bravo. May Day, Whiskey 378 Alpha Bravo. Position...thirty-eight degrees, north, seventy-nine degrees, west. Aircraft is unresponsive and going down. Require immediate assist—”
Sounds of massive explosions and tearing metal ripped through the early morning quiet. Flames lit up the pre-dawn sky as fireballs of debris rained down on the mountains below. The black smoke and searing heat was blinding as the pungent scent of melting steel mingled with the spicy smell of broken spruce branches and the stench of burned flesh. It was a horrible whirlwind of pain and fear as the world spun and the screams of the living soon passed into the silence of the dead.
Icy cold pushed away the heat as freezing snow embraced the one survivor of the fiery crash. His heartbeat slowed and pale blue eyes closed on the scene of death and destruction. It was almost daylight, yet for him, he saw only the darkness of oblivion.
* * * * *
The yellow-orange ball of fire streaked through the fading stars as daylight approached. Birds screamed and leaped from the safety of the trees. A nearby doe, jolted out of her sunrise doze, went bouncing across the meadow. The ground shook and the air was filled with the alien smells and sounds of something that didn’t belong on the mountain.
Favor rose from her rocking chair and watched wide-eyed as the flaming object cartwheeled over the tip of Spruce Peak and into the side of the mountain below. Her coffee cup fell from the table with a crash as the impact sent her staggering.
“’Twas an airplane,” she murmured to herself as she grabbed onto the windowsill for balance. “One of them flyin' airplanes.” Bending down, she put an arm around the animal that stood growling at her feet. “’Tis close, but not too close. We’ll be all right here.”
But didn’t people ride in these planes? She’d heard stories about that. What would happen to them? Suddenly worried, Favor grabbed her coats and hat. It was already heart-wrenchingly cold in early December. She would have to bundle up good if she wanted to investigate the crash site and not freeze to death.
Picking up her shotgun, Favor opened the door and headed out into the wintry weather. She was afraid, yet very curious. She’d never been anywhere near an airplane before, and she was terrified as to what she might find. Even here at the cabin, she could already sense the death the craft had brought with it.
Jogging through the snow-covered forest she kept a wary eye out for animals who might need her help. The crash could have hurt more than those on board.
“Only over this next ridge,” she said to the animal pacing at her side. “But you can’t get too close, Wahya. It could be dangerous.”
The large gray wolf glanced at her then back at the cloud of dark smoke rising over the hill. His intelligent eyes were filled with a knowing that needed no explanation. There was something very wrong on their mountain.
They ran in silence for a while, their breath puffing out white in the cold pre-dawn air. Then, as they topped the crest of the hill, Favor could see flames interwoven with the heavy, black smoke. Looking closer, she saw the bright, silver-metallic body of an airplane lying in a haphazard position between two trees. She coughed as the smell of the burning plane drifted up on the breeze. Wahya growled and she knew he was scenting another pungent odor.
The smell of burning human flesh.
Choking back her fear and revulsion, Favor scrambled down the side of the mountain closer to the plane. She sent up a quick prayer of thanks that it was winter time. Even though the trees were evergreen, they were covered in a heavy mantle of snow. They might get burned, but it was just too wet and cold for the fire to spread very far.
As she got closer, she could feel the searing heat of the flames and she sent up another prayer. This one for the poor people stuck inside. The craft was small, but it had been broken apart from the crash. The wings and tail were scattered about the small clearing, the body of the airplane lay on its side totally engulfed in flames. If there was anyone inside there could be no hope. They were all surely dead.
Staying out of range of the heat, she circled the plane making sure there was no chance of the fire spreading and doing any more damage to her mountain. But it seemed they were lucky. Other than the two tall spruce trees standing next to the fire, there seemed to be minimal damage.
“Wahya!” she called to her friend. “We should check along the path it came down. I want to make sure nothing else was hurt.”
The wolf gave a yip. Together they started down the trail away from the plane.
It was the groan that caught her attention. Such an alien sound...so unexpected to hear. Favor whirled, lifting her gun in unconscious response. Wahya wasn’t the only predator in these mountains. But she saw nothing. Then her attention was caught by the wolf standing near some small broken and mangled trees. He was growling low in his throat, fur standing up on his back.
“What's wrong? What have you found?” Favor eased carefully over to her furry companion and looked over his shoulder. She caught her breath with a gasp.
It was a man.
She crept closer, pushing Wahya gently out of the way. Kneeling down beside the unconscious man, she shivered. His aura was a mixture of browns, reds and turquoise, but she didn’t need her special gifting to see his injuries. One leg was oddly bent, and she knew it was broken. He had a long gash at his temple that had bled copiously all over his bruised face and torn shirt. But even more frightening was the wound in his side caused by crashing into one of the tree branches. The man had been partially impaled, the small tree limb broken off and still sticking out of his side.
Favor touched his forehead and he moaned. The sound sent ripples of emotion streaking through her. For just a moment, his aura shifted, giving her a brief flash of precognition. She didn’t have them often—her gift was the ability to read auras and to use that knowledge to heal. But every once in a while a vision would come to her. And this one was so strong she almost fainted from it. She stared at him as the knowledge flowed through her.
He was her destiny.
***end of excerpt***