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Friday, July 29, 2022

F³ Visions

            Storm Riders could take the cold. Something about our powers let us survive the freezing temperatures of 60,000 feet in the air. The heat was something else. The inipi was also known as a sweat lodge, and the purification ceremony meant Jack and I had spent hours in here. Sure, there were little breaks, but for the most part, we endured heat, steam, and total darkness. It was a relief that I couldn’t see Jack.

            The bigger relief was after the first session he had given up complaining and settled into a comatose state.

            I had felt that way for some of it, too, but for some reason sleep didn’t actually come to me. Instead, I felt this buzzy, drunk-feeling, something I hadn’t enjoyed ever since becoming a Storm Rider. My thoughts were slow and as deep as the universe, which was easy to appreciate the vastness of in total darkness. It was like being in space, floating free.

            The hiss of water on hot rocks broke the buzz, making me focus on something else for a change. My eyes were playing tricks on me as I could swear the steam from the water swirled into patterns.

            No, it’s the air currents. I can see air currents, duh.

            After a moment, I realized they were the same complex patterns of air currents that we had seen near Melissa, outside. The more I stared, the more the patterns resolved themselves into the shape of a woman’s face with long flowing hair that whipped around her, like a whirlwind, obscuring the rest of her body within the cyclone.

            I opened my mouth, about to utter an apology, but it came out as a grunt when the air current shifted around to look like a hand gesturing me to stop.

            “You say something, Reilly?” Jack asked, sounding bedraggled?

            “Huh?” I said, focused more on the hand than Jack.

            “Nothing,” he said, then fell into grumbling.

            The hand curled its fingers until the index finger waggled at me.

            A warning? A scolding?

            The air swirled again, this time forming a complex pattern. It formed a ring about as wide as my arm span, flowing in a single direction. The current reversed itself and coiled like a snake climbing up against the ring’s current. When complete, it reversed itself again, coiling in the opposite direction. Finally, a sphere of air formed in the center of the ring.

            Holy shit, that’s the symbol of the storm riders. What the hell is this?

            The door to the inipi opened. The twilight stabbed at my eyes, and I flinched away from it. By the time I got any kind of vision back, the wind pattern had vanished.

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