“He was the closest I ever had to a father!”-- Ilana Verdansky

She first met him when she was ten. She had just waved goodbye to her mother and little brother and started to ride her bike towards the village store. She had ridden only 25 yards, when the blast blew her off the bike and onto a grass field! The terrorist bomb destroyed three homes including her own! A dozen people lay dead, along with her mother and brother.

Ilana lay in the grass, as the thick dust from the explosion settled around her! She was barely conscious. Debris had cut her arms and legs and blood flowed down onto her face! She could hear the sounds of screaming! She could see the chaos all around her! Then out of the dust came a figure. A man.

Slowly, he bent over her and gently touched her shoulder. She weakly glanced up. He had kind eyes and a comforting smile. “I’m sorry all this had to happen to you,” he softly said, “but everything will turn out as it should be.” With that, the mysterious stranger walked away, disappearing into the chaotic crowd. Soon, she was loaded onto a stretcher and rushed to a hospital.

Ten years later, Ilana Verdansky was on patrol. The Armored Combat Vehicle she rode in was near the outskirts of Kvar. The ACV had just rounded a corner, when a blast from an IED neatly sliced it in two! Ilana was stunned by the blast but still alert! She glanced back to see the bloody, headless bodies of two of her comrades! Her squad leader, who had been driving, commanded her to get out and take cover. “Move to a side street!” Bakunin had ordered! She grabbed her AK-47 and rolled out of the smoldering vehicle!

Immediately, she could hear the “ping-pinging” of small arms fire! She could see movement down the street! Soldiers were advancing! Her return fire forced them to scatter, as they dived for cover! As Ilana made a dash for a side alley, a mortar round exploded nearby, sending her head over heels into a wall! She now lay crumpled and bleeding! Her rifle just out of reach! Suddenly, she saw movement! A figure was approaching! It walked right up and bent over her.

She glanced up to see a tall man with a crew cut. He held a M-16 rifle to her head and smiled a toothy wicked grin! He kept smiling, as he pulled the trigger! Click! Click! Click! Nothing! The man re-checked the clip. Click! Click! Click!

“What the f…!” he started to say, when someone down the street yelled, “Keamy! We’ve got incoming! Let’s go!” “Yeah, Omar! I’m comin’!” he replied. He looked back down into Ilana’s eyes. “Looks like its your lucky day, girly!” he said, as he turned and quickly took off down the street!

Ilana had just closed her eyes in relief when she heard another voice softly say her name. She slowly re-opened her eyes and glanced up. It was him! He whispered, “you will be alright,” as he gently touched her hair, “the next time I see you, I will tell you your destiny!” With that, he turned and walked away, past some smoldering ruins. Suddenly, her squad leader Bakunin came running up, blood flowing from his freshly wounded eye! “Hang on, Verdansky,” he said, “I’ve got a med-evac copter on its way!” Ilana smiled. For the first time, in a long time, she felt at peace. Her destiny was awaiting! The End. Next Story: “Ursa Theodorous”

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