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FIRST, THERE WAS A FLIGHT. One that Detective Ivory Storm hated. She had no faith in its purpose but had exhausted all options. A serial killer was out there. Butchering men. Disorienting women without medical reason ... And Operation Limelight had not cracked him yet.
It tickled Lemar, her boyfriend, indulged him even, that she would explore his theory based on a myth.
"It's simple," he said. "Track down the seer."
"In Orange Desert?" she said, incredulous.
"In Orange Crater, Northern Territory. Land of the Hemel tribe."
Seer, medium, medicine woman, what did it matter?
But it did. Matter. Witchcraft never solved crime.
Or did it?
Now the plane droned on rough ground. Rocked on the runway, slogged its speed, and turned. It juddered to a halt. One minute passed. Two. Seven.
She dipped her nose and began moving again.
Ivory leaned her elbows on the armrests, glad for three seats to herself. Before long, the sink in her belly, the knot in her gut, the dullness in her ears from slant and altitude vanished. She gazed at an air view of Sydney: trees like shrubs. Matchstick houses. A blue water map swaying with white surf along a golden coastline. The metropolis reduced to little specks, pieces of Lego, shards of blue, gray, silver ... Then it was gone. Swallowed by pale blue fog. Strips of cloud drew near, nearer ... The plane slipped inside them like a lover. Down below, a snowy carpet furrowed in cushy little bumps.
Ivory ran honey fingers through ink black hair that gleamed with luster. Sudden fatigue of months of investigation swept through her.
Deep emerald eyes grew small, smaller...
A stroke of sun awakened her. She opened her eyes. Gazed at layers of orange and white, chameleon sun on the horizon vacillating between hues, dimming to white between bunches of cloud; popcorn cloud scrunched into fists; clouds shafting through a sea of blue; clouds like golden islands, thousands of them. They gave way to a blood-red horizon, where the sun shone fiercely on a barren stretch of orange land miles, miles out.