Mike and his men had been working for two days, from dawn to dusk, inventorying the lost emergency stores and removing anything that was spoiled or unusable. Most of the old food was fed to the hogs. The rest was composted at a large area that had been dug out for it.

Lt. Mitchel had secured the two doors to the rooms that contained weapons or munitions. He and Sgt. Lowery were the only two who were allowed to know of the contents of those two rooms.

Carlos and his men had gotten the herds together, driven them to the new location and were in the final stages of putting fencing up to keep the sheep separated from the cattle.

It was just about 2 o'clock when the first few meteors came exploding and screaming into the atmosphere.

Mike's horse, panicked at the loud boom, reared and threw him.

The wagon team panicked as well, running away from the sound, while Kelley held on for dear life.

The meteor exploded as it struck the high tension tower that carried 10,000 volts per high line, where it crossed with another set of high tension power lines, melting the tower half way to the ground in a bright green flash. After hitting the tower, it came streaking across the field in a fiery arch, landing squarely on Greg Bolty and his rearing horse with a blinding orange flash of an explosion with no concussion or sound other than the first explosion at the tower.

Kelly didn't see Bolty buy it, she was busy trying to hang on to the reigns of a run-away wagon team and stay on the wagon. Kelly had just had a wagon load of kitchen staples in sacks loaded and was hoping that they would be usable, as she was turning the wagon toward the gate that would let her into the next section south of the supposedly Lost Emergency Stores.

Kelly was pulling back hard on the reigns and standing on the wheel brake but, the two Morgans weren't having it. They were racing head long, to the only safe cover they knew of, the barn. They were following the wagon tracks back to the main house at a headlong gallop and refusing to slow.

Kelly had never been on a wagon with a panicked team of horses before. But, decided that they knew where they were going and her best course of action was to give them their reign, hang the hell on and hope for the best.

Mike hit the ground hard, his breath had been knocked from him and he struggled to his knees trying to take a breath. From the corner of his eye he saw the meteor hit the top of the high tension power line tower, flash bright green and bounce up, arching to land on Bolty and his rearing horse.

At the other end of the property, Tommy Jensen had dismounted, tied his mount to a scrub-oak, that had been growing at the base of the tower he was taking a leak and having a leisurely smoke in the shade of one of the high voltage towers that came from the hydro-electric dam that powered the area.

Carlos was watching from a hill top, half a mile away and could clearly see Tommy goofing off. Tommy was supposed to be riding the fence, looking for broken wire. Carlos could understand dismounting to take a piss. But, he could smoke just as leisurely in the saddle, checking for breaks in the fence, rather than leaning against the tower, watching the clouds.

Tommy suddenly took off running toward Carlos.

Carlos didn't like having to fire people. That's why he felt fine as the “lowly” top hand and didn't push any harder for more to do. But, he had been told to fire anyone “on the spot” if they weren't what they needed on the ranch. And Tommy Jensen just wasn't going to cut it. Carlos pulled his hat off and was looking skyward, while wiping his brow and saying a little prayer for Tommy. Carlos would be letting him go after dinner, that evening.

Matt Sims was busy cutting a ram from among the ewes while, Austin Olson helped move the ewes along toward the quick pen they had set up for separating the sheep. David Hanson was herding the 8 goats toward their quick pen.

Chuck Hendricks, Mason Avery and Jimmy Hicks were tending to the steers on the other side of the section, getting them settled on a fenced off quarter of the section.

Quan had just gotten the four bulls into their quarter of the section and closed the gate, when the meteor exploded into the atmosphere, streaking in a fiery, flat, arch to strike the tower that Tommy Jensen was suddenly running away from.

Quan's horse, unsuccessfully tried to pull free of it's tether to the fence post and whinnied in fear, stomping, trying to pull free from it's tether. The bulls ran to the far end away from the flash of fire from the meteor but, were halted by the fence.

Quan hit the ground and covered his head with his arms.

Tommy Jensen was engulfed by the bright orange flash of fire as the metal tower, melted half way to the ground, turning Tommy's body to charcoal almost instantly. He didn't even have time to scream.

Matt and Austin's horses both reared in panic, one throwing Austin, Matt fought to regain control of his mount, while Austin's mount ran headlong in the direction of the stables.

Chuck, Mason and Jimmy were in the middle of their first stampede.

Jimmy's horse panicked and ran into a large steer, throwing him from the saddle. Jimmy was lucky, in that the collision caused him to flip over the back of the steer and actually land on his feet.

Jimmy had the presence of mind, having ridden bulls for fun in the past, to hit the ground running, away from the stampeding herd, toward the barbed wire fence. When he reached the fence, he jumped headlong over it and shoulder rolled when he landed. Jimmy's horse ran with the cattle for a few seconds, then circled back to where jimmy was standing on the other side of the barbed wire, unable to do anything more than watch.

Chuck and Mason were at the back of the herd when the sonic boom followed by the explosion when the meteor hit the high tension tower which was actually behind them as they were separating the cattle from the sheep. Both of their mounts panicked and bolted but, they were able to regain control of them in short order. As soon as they regained control of their mounts, they separated to do what real cowboys do, wrangle cattle.

“There is only about three quarters of a mile of open range before the fence line, with close to 150 head of bunched up cattle, stampeding across it, as meteors are falling from the sky and these two cowboys are trying to save the cattle. They'll tire in a quarter of a mile and the stampede will be over. Shit. Them's cowboys, alright.” Carlos Gonzalez thought, crossing himself, as he watched the two cowboys ride off, whooping and hollering, waving their lassos, chasing the frightened cattle and paying no attention of the falling meteors..

Carlos had taken a position on a nearby rise which actually gave him a nearly unobstructed view of the entire one mile square section of the ranch at this corner.

He had chosen the breeding mare for his mount and she bore him with what seemed to him as pride. Carlos liked riding a horse that seemed to carry it's rider with pride, especially a mustang. Carlos had taken to calling her Bride or Pride or maybe both. It was hard to tell, as he always had a large wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth.

Carlos' mount, P/Bride, almost bolted but, pulled up short when Carlos pulled hard on her reigns. Carlos leaned forward and started patting her hard on the neck, rubbing her, talking to her, calming her. “Easy Girl. Settle down now, P/Bride. I'm not gonna let you get hurt. You'll make fine colts for us one day. No, I won't let you get hurt, if I can help it.” Carlos said and thought, “If you die, Baby, I'll die with you.”

Carlos, just happened to be looking up, mopping his forehead with his bandanna, when the meteor exploded in the atmosphere and broke into three separate pieces. The first struck the tower that Tommy Jensen had been, slacking off, under. The second, hit further north, along the power lines, probably at the north end of the ranch, he decided. The third and the largest of the three, struck farther to the northeast, where the hydro-power dam was.

The first thing Carlos noticed was, that P/Bride, tensed and took a wider stance, like she knew the ground was going to be shaking. Carlos felt the shock from the ground through P/Bride's tensed body, just before he heard the distant explosion. Then, there could be heard a rumble, gradually increasing in volume.

Carlos had never seen dry land move like a building wave before and was in awe as a wave mound approached he and his mount from the direction of the meteor strike. As the wave passed, Carlos felt the rising and falling of the land, like it had been a wave beneath a boat and it chilled him to the core.

Carlos began reciting Hail Mary and the Lord's Prayer as he spurred his mount forward to check on Tommy Jensen.

Even though he knew, that Tommy had been killed, it was his duty as Top Hand out here, to check on him and at least secure the body, until it could be properly buried. Carlos thought on the similarities of ranch hands and soldiers as he loped P/Bride to the still glowing, half tower, where Tommy had been running away from, when it was struck by the meteor.

“At least for cowboys, wolves walk on four legs. For soldiers, our wolves walk on two legs. And we both can only endure nature.” he thought as he neared Tommy's still standing, charcoal-ed body.

Tommy's mount had also been killed, vaporized, in fact. As Carlos approached, he noticed a circular burn around the tower itself. Yet it was an odd sort of burn, in that it scorched up to a point and just stopped.

There, within the circle, was Tommy's carbon statue, with a hole right through the chest, big enough that you could put a fist through it. One hand was on his hat, as if to hold it on his head and he looked for all the world like he was running. But, his foot was fused to the ground and he seemed to be a charcoal statue of himself.

“Dios Mio!” Carlos exclaimed, under his breath, as he dismounted, walked around Tommy's carbon corpse, leading P/Bride by the reigns, gawking at it, crossing himself and muttering prayers quietly.

A glint of polished metal, reflecting the afternoon sun, from the blackened ground in a very small impact crater, was an oddly colored metal ball, about the size of a billiard ball. Carlos stopped and looked at it a bit more closely.

It was odd, in that it looked like highly polished metal of differing types yet, was glass smooth with no hint that it might be different metal types, other than a motley coloring between black and chrome. Carlos didn't know why but, felt compelled to put it in his saddle bag, then looked around the area again.

Everything inside the circle was black and charcoal, but still standing, even the grass. There was no sign of an explosion, concussion wave or anything else that would have caused everything inside the circle to turn into carbon by any kind of explosion, but it had and there was no ash. His mount's tracks and his own footprints were clearly noticeable but, everything else looked like it had been frozen and turned to charcoal.

Even stranger, the grass was still green and vibrant, right up to the edge of the burned circle. There was no “wilting” or any indication, that a great heat had been literally, right next to even a single blade of grass.

A cloud of dust and mist was growing in the east and Carlos knew that the normally, mostly dry riverbed, was now filled and most likely overflowing it's former banks.

From Carlos' vantage point at the rise he had been on, he had had a better view of the surrounding countryside. So, he mounted P/Bride and rode to the hilltop, to see if he could see the old river bed from there.

From that position, he could see that what used to be pastureland in a flood plain, wash tributary, from the old river was now full and running swiftly, about a mile and a half to the east. The flood tributary could be seen widening into the pastureland along it's sides.