So anyway here is the blurb and I'll do just a wee snip of the opening scene even though it has not been edited yet.So just get the feel and don't look at any boo-boos that my wonderful editor will catch for me in a week or three, okay?
Blurb: Former military pilot Blaine Darby carries a load of guilt and pain from harm he may have caused in wartime. Now he seeks to earn some balancing good karma by fighting wild land fires while he holds on to his great love of flying. Reporters like young Daz Contreras scare him, one of the few things that do, because he shuns the public eye. When a near tragedy develops he puts his life on the line to save a trapped hotshot firefighting crew. Will all this make the news?
Freelance investigative journalist Daz Contreras is convinced terrorists are behind at least some of the wild land fires plaguing
All he needs is enough proof to break a story. As he pursues this he begins to
follow pilot Blaine Darby and develops a big case of hero worship. Allowed to
ride with his hero one time, he may have gotten the proof he seeks. But a
heroic rescue may be an even bigger story. Will the reclusive Darby allow him
to do it?
The powerful plane floated down through the fiery-hued haze of smoke and dust, engines muted to a dull roar. The wheels touched the runway, stirring yet more dust as it rolled along, slowing to stop near the terminal. The service crew swarmed out to the aircraft, which now looked as clumsy as an albatross on the ground. Lilliputian ants, the crew milled around the soot-streaked bird to check every aspect of its airworthiness, fill the fuel and retardant tanks, top off all the fluids and prepare it for the next mission. Nothing would go unchecked.
Watching from the edge of the runway, as close as he was allowed to get to the action, free lance investigative reporter Durazo “Daz” Contreras scanned the scene. He raised his videocam and taped a few minutes but mostly he absorbing the atmosphere, the hectic yet orderly routine.
The scene put him in mind of a team of first responders, dealing with a major accident or tragedy. Make haste slowly, everything controlled and precise, urgent yet never frantic… The adrenaline rush always took hold of him when he covered such action. And as a reporter known for tracking down the bizarre, scandalous and deeply hidden stories, jerking the camouflage off cover-ups, he made ambulance chasing and disasters his stock in trade.
As he watched, a tall, lean figure emerged from the cockpit and descended to the tarmac. From the man’s lanky build, he identified Blaine Darby, the owner of this and two more slurry bombers now contracted to the U. S. Forest Service for fighting the spreading epidemic of wildfires in the drought-stricken west. After some research into a subject that had become a passion, Daz knew this one, clearly Darby’s favorite, was a P-2V
Neptune. It had
the size and power to deliver over 2250 gallons of water or slurry to a blaze
but also the maneuverability to deal with the confined spaces of the rugged
Daz started in Darby’s direction as the pilot headed toward the terminal. Although exhaustion etched every line of the man’s body, he did not slouch or stumble. His pace slow, he still marched rather than trudged. From the little Daz had learned about him so far, that probably reflected his military background. As if he sensed someone closing on him, Darby speeded up and slipped in through a door marked “Official Personnel Only” in screaming scarlet letters. He’d been just a few strides ahead of Daz.
From experience, Daz knew the door was locked and would remain so. Knocking was always useless as the press was emphatically not welcome. He shook his head, cast a last look at the parked airplane and then headed for his SUV in the parking lot. No interview this evening, no close up shots of the latest hero of the battle against the brutal Mescalero blaze.
Daz had a hunch there was more to the recent epidemic of fires than merely weather extremes and bad luck for those who lived in the areas. The word arson had floated past him more than once. They used the “human caused” euphemism in most of the official reports as if the fires were only an accident, but the bottom line seemed to be someone or several someones were kindling wildfires with ruthless determination.
Although Darby shunned the public eye as much as possible, Daz had learned he’d been a US Air Force pilot in the Middle East and seen combat in both
After his second tour, he resigned his commission as soon as he got home. Again
there were whispers as to why but they were mere rumors and so wildly diverse
it was hard to take any of them as valid. Obviously it wasn’t cowardice since
fighting wildfires ranked right up there beside combat as far as danger went.
Still, it seemed clear the pilot had secrets, deep, dark ones.