Chapter 3. Fire Camp Epsilon
Five years ago:
In the fire camp, designated Epsilon for being the forth in a series, Lieutenant O’Danu dug in his foot-locker for the pen he just dropped. Profanity colored the air around him as he cherished the pen that his wife and daughter had given him.
He had started writing his daughter letters years before. Before she was born even, and had kept at it every time he went out on spike.
Spike, that word that often meant overtime, but also time away from his family.
His own father had said it, often.
‟Family is everything. Spend all the time you can with them, hold their hands. No parenting is worse than bad parenting. Children do not come with wisdom, it is up to you, my son, to teach your own children what is respect to others, teach them inner peace so they may shine with the O’Danu name.”
Lt. O’Danu smiled. The old man had the voice of black clad science fiction villain, sans the wheezing, but the looks of a British super-spy from Scotland.
And he heard his father’s voice daily in his head.
Today, they had off, twenty-four hours on the line, then twelve to twenty-four hours off. The rules in this verdant part of the world were somewhat different from in his home jurisdiction, but he did not mind in the slightest.
His team was the best there was, they had put out fires in the most rugged places on earth, climbed, hiked, cut with the most primitive tools in history.
The ax, rake, hoe and shovel.
Now they were at the bottom of the world, fighting a fire caused by— what he did not know or care — and it was their job to protect the dozen villages and the huge nature reserve.
Lt. Dennis O’Danu Shook his head at that thought. The nature reserve had more scratchy, bitey things that had toxins in them that would drop a firefighter in his footsteps if it were not for locals that accompanied the fire teams to warn them. Hot Shots, Strike Teams, Fire Crews, whatever the label that their respective departments put on them, whether it was federal, state, royal or even a few private agencies, they were all professionals working towards one final goal. Well, except for the Her Royal Princess’s Fire Control teams, they worked towards promised medals of heroism.
For the rest of the firefighters? All they wanted, was to go home.
In this nation where cats were bigger than motorcycles and serpents deadlier than a wife’s angry glare, they all held on to the brotherhood of the service while they broke their tools and sweat in their effort in this fire that covered nearly four-hundred square miles.
Nomex with the colors of his team, gold and green, the Iron Canyon Kings were a storied and experienced direct attack fire handcrew. No assignments they failed, should they need to hike in, fly in or take a boat to deploy and cut vegetation down to bare mineral soil, they did their job and went home.
And they performed such tasks with speed that no one could better for a twelve-member crew.
A shine, there between to tightly folded shirts, the hint of gold-colored metal. He stored his badge away in the side panel, so that was not it.
Reaching down, his fingers closed around the shaft of the fat ballpoint pen, a gift for Father’s Day. It was one that he kept with him, in his journals, always.
Sitting down, he had an hour before he had to sleep, he was sure he could get a page of a letter written to each of his girls at home.