This book means so much to me so I have to share one more snippet from its pages. Remember it is at JMS Books and will officially release on July 29 but can be pre-ordered right now at http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29_94&products_id=2123
“What the fuck is wet water?”
Blaine jumped when his forgotten passenger spoke up. “We just call it that ’cause it sticks better and doesn’t evaporate quite as fast. It’s enhanced with some stuff to make it…well, wetter in its effects. It’s not dangerous like some of the shit in the slurry. We don’t use borate salts anymore or some other stuff that was outright poison. Still, you don’t want it on you. I might dump slurry on a trapped crew in their emergency shelters as a last resort. It wouldn’t do them any good, except maybe prevent them incinerating. It fertilizes the burned ground, though, which is good.”
Contreras nodded. “Gotcha. This maneuver is going to be touch and go, isn’t it?”
Blaine nodded as he set the Neptune down. “Yeah, very. I’m going to have to drop you off this time. I can’t risk a civilian on a mission like this. If it works, though, I guarantee you a full report, a story no one else is going to get, like straight from the horse’s ass. You can interview all three of us.”
While the young reporter shuffled off to the hangar to get out of the flight gear, Blaine briefed his crew. Even if they did everything double time, they cut no corners. He didn’t bother to go inside, instead waiting by the plane and ready to take off the instant it was good to go. He had the farthest to fly, so he’d push to get there as fast as he could. The lives of sixteen crack firefighters were at stake. If they could be saved, he’d bloody well do it. Karma-wise, that might make up a little for the noncombatants he knew he’d hit in the Middle East.
* * * *
Daz hadn’t realized how tired he was until he headed for the hangar. The gear he wore felt like it weighed a ton. As badly as he wanted to stay until Darby took off, he knew he’d be in the way and that speed with utmost care was essential to make this crazy scheme work. He didn’t have to be a pilot to recognize how dangerous Blaine’s game plan was. Although he’d give anything to get into some kind of a plane and make it out there to watch, that was about as likely as pissing on the fire would put it out.
For now, all he could do was wait. After he entered the hangar, he struggled out of the harness and flight suit and then got a cold soda. Maybe he’d be able to follow some of the radio traffic. He waited until Blaine’s ground crew finished their work and the Neptune again rolled down the runaway and lifted into the afternoon sky. The men came back, somber looks on their faces more telling than any words could be. If they were that concerned, there was real danger involved. Their quiet voices and non-committal words reinforced Daz’s worries.
They stood around talking among themselves for a few minutes, saying nothing significant, while exchanging speaking glances and frowning. Daz looked from one to another.
“Is there someplace we can follow the action on the radio?”
The former sergeant, Romero, who’d helped him suit up this morning nodded. “Yeah. The forest service guys are kinda prickly. Still, they can’t keep us out when it’s our boss up there. Come on. For now, you’re just one of us…a trainee maybe. Keep your mouth shut, though.”
Daz nodded. “Gotcha. I can zip the lip when it’s important, and I know this is.”
The older man grinned. “You look a little peaked, son, so let me tell ya, the old man has pulled off some impossible things before. If this trick can be done, he’ll do it and then pretend he ain’t no hero. I prob’ly ought to send you packing ’cause I know you’re a reporter. Still, he let you fly with him, so that tells me a lot. Just don’t put out anything he doesn’t approve, okay?”
Daz managed a grin. “I wouldn’t dare. My nana didn’t raise no muchachos estupidos.”
The forest service radio shack turned out to be a mobile home parked near the hangar. A couple of uniformed rangers played cards at a table. You could tell their minds were not on the game. The communications guy sat at a console, attention fixed on the flashing lights and whatever came through his headphones. Now and then, Daz heard a crackle of static or a few clear words.
Romero glanced at the rangers. “You heard what’s going down?”
One of them nodded. “Yep. Risky business, though I ‘spose Darby knows what he’s doing. Man is one crazy airplane jockey. Still he’s fuckin’ good.”
Daz expected Romero to bristle. He didn’t. “Crazy like a fox,” he muttered, then in a normal voice said, “We’re gonna hang out here and listen to the traffic. We’ll stay out of the way, but that’s our folks and our birds out there.”
“Yeah. Sure. No problem. Just stay cool. There could be some white knuckle moments in the next few hours.”