The First Altar
James E. Aarons DVM
“Behind the farmhouse rose a massive earth wall forty feet high, dwarfing the structure with its enormous height. The western wall stretched north almost one-half mile, and the southern wall ran half that length. There was a broken corner just behind the farmhouse, making a gateway. This place beckoned to her. The gates wanted her to come in, the walls wanted her to stand on top of them, and the temples wanted her to live within. The pull she felt was mesmerizing, magical, and beautiful. It took her breath away."
— Jim Aarons, The First Altar
Katie Reynolds is a Navajo woman attending veterinary school in California. Her vision to return to her reservation to help her people changes after she meets Rory Evans in veterinary school. He's a white fellow who prefers to stay in California. The two lovers manage to overcome turbulent issues during school, but after graduation, the relationship begins to crack from their cultural and physical distances.
The lovers reach an understanding. Rory continues to build a practice in California while Katie returns to school feeling she needs additional veterinary credentials for government work to allow her the freedom she needs to be with Rory in a healthy relationship. Rory works to ensure a place for Katie if she decides she prefers private practice. Although he hadn't intended on going into small animal medicine, he arranges to open a clinic, so both he and Katie have enough work to make a living and build a home.
Katie jumps at the opportunity to spend time in Iraq combating a deadly brucellosis infection jumping from sheep to people but needs to get her personal life arranged. The two lovers marry a few weeks before Katie is scheduled to leave.
Marol, a wealthy client of Rory's offers to fly the newlyweds to the Middle East in her private jet as a wedding present. Marol has ulterior motives, though. She is bringing Rory to learn ostrich husbandry firsthand from ostrich farms in Israel and South Africa.
After visiting prehistoric caves in France and ancient ruins on Cyprus the honeymooners separate. Katie flies to Beirut with René while Marol and Rory continue in the corporate jet to Israel.
The trip turns to disaster when ISIS overruns the place Katie and René are conducting the study.