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Friday, August 26, 2022

F³ Jack Dailey Frienship

           Lightning flowed in, coursing through my shoulder and into my gut. It writhed like a thing alive. It swirled along its path at the ready, waiting for release. I stretched my fingers apart, letting the current arc between them. No pops, just clean, regular matter electricity. I increased the current, sending it between my palms, widening the distance between them and increasing the current.

            No explosion.

            Thank God that’s over, now.

            I grinned and looked at Jack.

            He grinned back. “About fucking time,” he said.

            “What are you whining about? I was dealing with this for days before you caught it.”

            “Yeah, thanks to you. I flew halfway across the world for you. If that isn’t friendship, what is?”

            He has a point. Even though he’s an ass about it.

            “You’re right. Sorry. Thanks for coming.”

            He grunted. “Catch.”

            He tossed a bolt at me. I caught it, immediately letting it flow across my shoulders, though careful to avoid my heart, and back out my other arm straight at him. We continued to play catch for a few more minutes, each trying to put some sort of zing to trip the other up, either by pumping up the current or creating an alternate, ionizing path to his somewhere else on the other man. Jack was still much more experienced than I was, so none of my tricks worked on him, but I managed to fend off his tricks as well, especially since he taught me.

            As we continued, though, I started to notice something felt off inside me. I sense of hollowness that I didn’t remember from before this whole mess happened. I went on autopilot with Jack, and concentrated on it. The bolt that had recharged us hadn’t been massive, but it was pretty strong.

            Shouldn’t it have charge me up, more, even with splitting it with Jack?

            Unlike phones, storm riders didn’t come with a gauge to tell us when we were fully charged.

            “Hey, Jack?”

            “What?” He didn’t stop tossing bolts my way.

            “You feel like you could hold more than before?”

            He tossed another bolt before putting his hands down. Instead of returning it to him, I just absorbed it, letting it join the rest of my charge.

            Jack drew down his eyebrows, concentrating. He frowned. “Huh. Weird.” Then he shrugged. “Okay, then.”

            I was about to open my mouth to question more, then realized it would be pointless. Jack didn’t have any more answers, and it wasn’t like we had an instruction book around to look up the answers.

            “Cool,” I said.

            “Cool,” he said. He threw a bolt that caught me upside the head. “There. We’re even.”

           

Friday, August 19, 2022

F³ Charging Up

           As the twilight turned to full dark, Melissa tossed fat chunks of wood on the coals used to cook the meal. It didn’t take long until we had a proper campfire going. I felt good, and not just from the two bags of s’mores I had made.

“Well, that concludes the ceremony,” Melissa said. “I have some tents and sleeping bags, if you want, or I can drive you back into town to the hotel.”

The camping option appealed, but the breeze suddenly prickled and turned noticeably colder, at least to us. The breeze turned into a gust. Melissa’s phone lit up and emitted an awful noise that could only be a weather alert.

She checked it. “Oh shit,” she confirmed. “Thunderstorm is forming around us. Just got an urgent alert. We better pack up. This area gets a lot of lightning strikes.”

“Thunderbird, right?” Nat asked.

“Huh?” She glanced at Nat, then back to her phone. “Well, yeah, he would be responsible, but storms like this happen all the time. We should definitely get out, though.”

I stood up, as did Jack, and we walked away from the camp, back to the clearing where I had started this whole mess.

“Where are they going?” Melissa started pouring water over the fire and kicking dirt over it.

“I don’t think you need to worry about the storm,” I could hear Nat’s smirk.

“The storm is probably for our benefit,” Anna-Maria said.

Jack and I stood maybe twenty feet apart in the small crater, and began ionizing the air above us. We only had a little ambient static charge from the time during the feast. Electricity really was everywhere, generated by our bodies or the friction of clothing or the friction of a light breeze on the skin, and storm riders were batteries, soaking it up.

We combined our efforts from that trickle of a charge, ionizing the channel into one big path with a small branching about thirty feet up to feed into each of us. The cloud bank already started to flicker with internal lightning.

“Come on, you bastard, jump,” Jack said.

We had managed to ionizing a few hundred feet up, but didn’t dare try to take the path all the way to the clouds. We just didn’t have the charge. Besides, our ionized paths didn’t stay that way. The wind could dissipate them, too. The large paths made by the cloud bank and the ground were more likely to remain in place because of their mass, but we were just two lone storm riders.

Suddenly, the hair on my arms stood up.

Fuck yeah.

Snap.

The opposite ionizing path from the clouds connected. Lightning slammed into us.

Friday, August 12, 2022

F³ One of Us

            We feasted, well, not by our standards, but we ate everything Melissa had on those picnic tables, which had been a lot. Since we had been in there basically all day, they had been able to make stews, buried and roasted a full side of a buffalo, and gone nuts with corn, potatoes, squashes, steaks, chicken, and even some venison.

            For once, Jack ate in silence. Whatever he had seen inside the inipi, he wasn’t sharing, and I wasn’t keen on saying I saw a woman-shaped pattern in the wind, either. Sure, we had supernatural powers, but it wasn’t like we really embraced it or knew much about anything but our own powers or that of the other elemental tribes.

            Nat took the lead while we were all eating, asking Melissa about Whirlwind Woman and other Lakota spirits. Since she patrolled this region all the way to the Great Lakes, that made sense. I listened in, as well, since I frequently jumped up here, plus it never hurt to know a little more about the people here. Since Maddy and I had been able to do some pretty cool mojo combining wind with water, I had taken an interest in other points of view. I even had thoughts that wind could join with fire, too.

            Need to find a pyro willing to try, though. Not likely with their short tempers. Wait, what was that?”

            “Say that again, Melissa?” I asked.

            “I said that some of the stories of Whirlwind Woman say she started out human.”

            “Whoa,” I said, again with the Keanu Reeves impression.

            “So she could have been a storm rider?” Nat asked.

            Melissa shrugged. “I don’t know.”

            “Well, now it makes more sense,” Jack said. “She’s one of us and just wanted to fuck with us. That makes more sense than anything else I’ve heard.” Jack looked up and raised his voice, just a little. “Good one, you temperamental bitch,” he grinned.

            “That was Joaquin giving her five stars,” Anna-Maria smiled to Melissa.

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