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Storm of lightning, p.1
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       Storm of Lightning, p.1

           Richard Paul Evans
 
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Storm of Lightning


  To Kevin Balfe

  Michael Vey

  Power: Ability to shock people through direct contact or conduction. Can also absorb other electric children’s powers.

  Michael is the most powerful of all the electric children and leader of the Electroclan. He is steadily increasing in power, which may be connected to his Tourette’s syndrome.

  Ostin Liss

  Power: A Nonel—not electric.

  Ostin is very intelligent, with an IQ of 155, which puts him at the same level as the average Nobel Prize winner. He is one of the original three members of the Electroclan and Michael’s best friend.

  Taylor Ridley

  Power: Ability to temporarily scramble the electric synapses in the brain, causing confusion. She can also read people’s minds, but only when touching them.

  Taylor is one of the original three members of the Electroclan. She and Michael discovered each other’s powers at Meridian High School, which they were both attending. She is Michael’s girlfriend.

  Abigail

  Power: Ability to temporarily stop pain by electrically stimulating certain parts of the brain. She must be touching the person to do so.

  Along with Ian and McKenna, Abigail was held captive by the Elgen for many years because she refused to follow Hatch. She joined the Electroclan after escaping from the Elgen Academy’s prison known as Purgatory.

  Bryan

  Power: The ability to create highly focused electricity that allows him to cut through objects, especially metal.

  Bryan is one of Hatch’s Glows. He spends most of his time playing video games and annoying Kylee.

  Grace

  Power: Grace is a “human flash drive,” able to transfer and store large amounts of electronic data.

  Grace was living with the Elgen but joined the Electroclan when they defeated Hatch at the Elgen Academy. She has been working and living with the resistance but has not been on any missions with the Electroclan.

  Ian

  Power: Ability to see using electrolocation, which is the same way sharks and eels see through muddy or murky water.

  Along with McKenna and Abigail, Ian was held captive by the Elgen for many years because he refused to follow Hatch. He joined the Electroclan after escaping from the Elgen Academy’s prison known as Purgatory.

  Jack

  Power: A Nonel—not electric.

  Jack spends a lot of time in the gym and is very strong. He is also excellent with cars. Originally one of Michael’s bullies, he joined the Electroclan after being bribed to help Michael rescue his mother from Dr. Hatch.

  Kylee

  Power: Born with the ability to create electromagnetic power, she is basically a human magnet.

  One of Hatch’s Glows, she spends most of her time shopping, along with her best (and only) friend, Tara.

  McKenna

  Power: Ability to create light and heat. She can heat herself to more than three thousand Kelvins.

  Along with Ian and Abigail, McKenna was held captive by the Elgen for many years because she refused to follow Hatch. She joined the Electroclan after escaping from the Elgen Academy’s prison known as Purgatory.

  Nichelle

  Power: Nichelle acts as an electrical ground and can both detect and drain the powers of the other electric children. She can also, on a weaker level than Tessa, enhance the other children’s powers.

  Nichelle was Hatch’s enforcer over the rest of the electric children until he abandoned her during the battle at the Elgen Academy. Although everyone was nervous about it, the Electroclan recruited her to join them on their mission to save Jade Dragon. She has become a loyal Electroclan member.

  Quentin

  Power: Ability to create isolated electromagnetic pulses, which lets him take out all electrical devices within twenty yards.

  Quentin is smart and the leader of Hatch’s Glows. He is regarded by the Elgen as second-in-command, just below Hatch.

  Tanner

  Power: Ability to interfere with the electrical navigation systems of aircraft and cause them to malfunction and crash. His powers are so advanced that he can do this from the ground.

  After years of mistreatment by the Elgen, Tanner was rescued by the Electroclan from the Peruvian Starxource plant and has been staying with the resistance so he has a chance to recover. He carries deep emotional pain from the crimes Dr. Hatch forced him to commit.

  Tara

  Power: Tara’s abilities are similar to her twin sister, Taylor’s, in that she can disrupt normal electronic brain functions. Through years of training and refining her powers, Tara has learned to focus on specific parts of the brain in order to create emotions such as fear or joy.

  Working with the Elgen scientists, she has learned how to create mental illusions, which, among other things, allows her to make people appear as someone or something else.

  Tara is one of Hatch’s Glows. She and Taylor were adopted by different families after they were born, and Tara has lived with Hatch and the Elgen since she was six years old.

  Tessa

  Power: Tessa’s abilities are the opposite of Nichelle’s—she is able to enhance the powers of the other electric children.

  Tessa escaped from the Elgen at the Starxource plant in Peru and lived in the Amazon jungle for six months with an indigenous tribe called the Amacarra. She joined the Electroclan after the tribe rescued Michael from the Elgen and brought them together.

  Torstyn

  Power: One of the more ruthless and lethal of the electric children, Torstyn can create microwaves.

  Torstyn is one of Hatch’s glows and was instrumental to the Elgen in building the original Starxource plants. Although they were initially enemies, Torstyn is now loyal to Quentin and acts as his bodyguard.

  Wade

  Power: A Nonel—not electric.

  Wade was Jack’s best friend and joined the Electroclan at the same time he did. He died in Peru when the Electroclan was surprised by an Elgen guard.

  Zeus

  Power: Ability to “throw” electricity from his body.

  Zeus was kidnapped by the Elgen as a young child and lived for many years as one of Hatch’s Glows. He joined the Electroclan when they escaped from the Elgen Academy. His real name is Leonard Frank Smith.

  Elgen radio communications during attack on Timepiece Ranch

  “This is Elgen One. All helicopters prepare to commence Mexican Lightning Storm.”

  “Elgen One, this is Elgen Twelve. Be advised there are power lines along the south ridge of the compound. All copters stay clear.”

  “Copy, Elgen Twelve. Elgen Base, target is in range of missiles. All helos ready to launch Hellfire missiles on command.”

  “Roger, Elgen One. Lethal force is authorized.”

  “There’s motion on the ground, Elgen One. Enemy helicopter is powering up. Enemy helicopter is powering up.”

  “Elgen Six, take out enemy helicopter. All helos let missiles fly.”

  “Hellfire missiles away.”

  [Massive explosions]

  “That’s a beautiful sight, amigos.”

  “Burn, baby. Burn.”

  “How do you say ‘fire’ in Spanish?”

  “Fuego.”

  “I was gonna say ‘habanero,’ Elgen Four.” [Laughter]

  “ ‘Jalapeño,’ Elgen Two.”

  “This is Elgen Nine. No report of ground fire.”

  “Elgen One, this is Elgen Base. One hundred and fifty-four missiles confirmed launched.”

  [Loud explosions]

  “Elgen One, this is Elgen Six. We’ve hit underground fuel tanks or a weapon cache. The south end of the ranch just rose twenty feet.”

  “There’s a reason they’re called Hellfire, Six.”

/>   “Any enemy sighted?”

  “No, sir.”

  “Elgen Base, has there been any response from the Mexican air force?”

  “Negatory, Elgen One. Skies are clear.”

  “All helos commence strafing area with fifty caliber.”

  [Sound of sustained machine-gun fire]

  “What are those explosions along the road, One?”

  “They appear to be enemy land mines.”

  “There must be hundreds. The place is jumping.”

  “Mexican jumping beans, Elgen Nine.”

  “Elgen One, this is Elgen Three. We are directly above target. All primary targets are destroyed. All secondary targets are destroyed.”

  “Roger that, Elgen Three.”

  “Wait, there’s motion at two o’clock.”

  “Elgen Two, RPG at two o’clock! RPG at two o’clock! Firing.”

  “This is Elgen Two. . . .” [Static]

  [Pause]

  “Elgen Two is hit. Elgen Two is hit.”

  [Pause]

  “Elgen One, Elgen Two is down.”

  “Fire on RPG, Three.”

  “Missile launched.”

  [Explosion]

  “Target is neutralized.”

  “Elgen Two, do you copy? Elgen Two, do you copy?”

  “Elgen One to Elgen Three, what is status of Elgen Two?”

  “There’s too much smoke to confirm, Elgen One.”

  “Elgen Two, Elgen Two, do you copy? Repeat, Elgen Two, do you copy?”

  “This is Elgen Four. We’re dropping down to check on Two.”

  [Female voice. Automated warning] “Altitude low.”

  [Sound of explosion]

  “Four, pull out. There’s unexploded ordnance.”

  “I think that was just a land mine.”

  “Too much blast for a land mine, Four.”

  “Maybe another fuel tank.”

  “. . . Or a weapons arsenal.”

  “Good of them to provide the ordnance.”

  “Elgen Three, any response from Elgen Two?”

  “Still no response, One.”

  “Elgen Two, Elgen Two, do you copy?”

  “Elgen One, we have a visual. Elgen Two is in flames. There are no signs of survivors.”

  “Roger that, Elgen Four. Let’s seal the site. All helos clear ground, Nine and Eleven fire napalm.”

  “What about Elgen Two?”

  “There are no survivors on Elgen Two. Fire napalm on my command.” [Pause] “Fire.”

  “Elgen Nine. Napalm released.”

  [Explosion]

  “Elgen Eleven. Napalm released.”

  “Nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning. . . .”

  “That is what hell looks like, gentlemen. Let’s get out of here before the Mexican air force arrives.”

  “What’s that, a biplane?” [Laughter]

  “All helos back to Elgen Base. Elgen Eleven, record damage, then return with fleet.”

  “Copy, One.”

  “This is Elgen One reporting to base. Mission accomplished. Target is neutralized. There are no enemy survivors. Repeat, there are no enemy survivors.”

  Admiral-General Hatch’s office Taiwan Starxource plant

  It was nearly midnight, and Elite Global Guard Welch stood at attention, his back to the door of Admiral-General Hatch’s office. “Sir, we’ve destroyed the terrorists’ home base. The resistance’s ranch has been annihilated.”

  Hatch nodded but continued reading his book. “What have you done with the prisoners?”

  “There were no prisoners taken. There were no survivors.”

  Hatch looked up from his book. “No survivors?”

  “We killed every last one of them. After our barrage of missiles, we dropped napalm. I’ve reviewed the footage. The compound looked like Dresden after World War II. I can provide the video for you if you wish.”

  Hatch was quiet for a moment. “No, I’ll take your word for it.” He set down his book, stood, and walked to the side of the room, avoiding eye contact with Welch. “What is the status of the Electroclan? Are they still in Taiwan?” Hatch spoke in a low, threatening voice.

  Welch stiffened before replying. “They’ve escaped, sir.”

  “Every one of them?”

  “Yes, Admiral-General.”

  “With the Chinese girl?”

  “Yes, sir. We believe they have Jade Dragon.”

  Hatch appeared thoughtful for a moment, then said softly, “You failed me.”

  Welch swallowed. “Yes, sir.”

  Hatch said nothing, just slowly nodded. Welch looked at him quizzically. He had expected Hatch to rage, to explode. Instead Hatch’s voice was almost mournful, like a jilted lover’s. “Is that all you have to report? That you failed?”

  Welch did his best to remain stoic. “Yes, sir.”

  Hatch stared at the ground for a moment, then said, “Okay. You’ve given me your report.”

  Okay? Welch was as baffled as he was nervous. He wondered if Hatch were drunk. He had never seen him behave so calmly in the face of failure.

  “What is the word on Schema?” Hatch asked. “Has he been captured yet?”

  “No, sir. He’s vanished.”

  “Vanished?”

  “Even before you left Switzerland. One of our men had him for a while, but he disappeared.”

  Hatch’s brow furrowed. “Who disappeared? Schema or our man?”

  “Both, sir.”

  Again, Hatch seemed unmoved. “It doesn’t matter. Schema’s inconsequential.” He poured himself a drink from a crystal decanter, then downed a shot and poured another. “Would you care for a drink, EGG Welch?”

  “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” Welch said, his confusion growing. He had expected Hatch’s fury. Not a drink.

  Hatch poured another shot glass of the caramel-colored liquor and handed it to Welch. “To old times,” he said. “And old friends.”

  “To old friends,” Welch repeated.

  He drank and quickly put the glass down as Hatch slowly sipped his, looking deep in thought.

  “We’ve been together a long time,” Hatch said. “So much has changed since the beginning. The world has changed.”

  “We have changed, sir. We have grown powerful.”

  “So we have.” After a moment Hatch said, “We’ve acquired two new ships to replace the Watt: the Edison, a battle cruiser from Russia, and the Franklin, a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship from France. They are already manned and on their way to Tuvalu, as are the Ohm, the Tesla, and the Joule. They left port six days ago.

  “This evening, the Faraday and the Volta will set sail for Tuvalu. I am flying with EGGs Despain and Bosen to Jakarta to inspect the Edison. Then we will fly to Tuvalu for the opening ceremonies of our Funafuti, Tuvalu, Starxource plant. We already have a force of four hundred guards stationed on the island.

  “While I am hosting the Tuvaluan dignitaries, the fleet will rendezvous twelve miles from the main island and commence Operation Home Base. If things go as planned—and I expect that they will—we’ll overthrow the island and establish our base. We are going to finish what Vey delayed when he blew up the Ampere.”

  “You don’t need me to escort you to Jakarta, sir?” Welch asked.

  “No,” Hatch said bluntly. “I have a different assignment for you.”

  Welch nodded. “And how may I serve my admiral-general?”

  Hatch pressed a button on his desk. “As an example.” Four guards stepped into Hatch’s office. “Mr. Politis,” Hatch said calmly. “EGG Welch is officially relieved of his title and command. Strip him of his weapon and insignias and arrest him.”

  “Yes, sir.”

  Welch paled. “Sir . . .”

  Two men took Welch by the arms, removed his sidearm, and handcuffed him. Politis took a knife from his utility belt and cut the EGG and Elgen insignias from Welch’s shoulder and breast. “Now what, sir?” Politis asked.

  “Take him to the brig. When we
reach the Tuvalu plant, he will be put into the rat bowl.”

  Welch shuddered as the realization of Hatch’s pronouncement spread over him.

  “Yes, sir,” Politis said.

  “My General,” Welch said.

  “Yes,” Hatch said. “I am still your general. You took a vow to serve me until your death, which is precisely what I am requiring of you now—your death. And in fulfilling this duty, your colleagues will understand that I expect my orders to be carried out, and failure is not an option.” He nodded at Politis.

  “Move it,” Politis barked, pulling Welch from the room.

  When everyone was gone, Hatch downed the rest of his drink, then poured another. “To old friends.”

  My name is Michael Vey. Right now I’m sitting in a private jet, staring at my hand. It’s shaking. And it’s sparking, which, if you don’t know anything about me, might sound a little weird. If you know who I am, then you know I’m electric. Even though the lights are off in the plane, the sparks arcing between my fingers are bright enough to illuminate the plane’s fuselage, like strobe lights at a dance club or something. I can’t stop it any more than I can stop the twitching from my Tourette’s syndrome.

  Other than my electricity, it’s quiet on the plane. Nichelle got airsick and threw up a couple of hours ago. Earlier, my girlfriend, Taylor, tried to put her arm around me but gave up after I shocked her three times.

  I’ve been getting more electric for some time, but I don’t think that’s why I’m generating so much electricity right now. I think it’s because my electricity is exacerbated by emotion. And at the moment I have so much emotion, I can barely breathe. It doesn’t help that I’ve slept fewer than four hours in the past two days. Everything in my world is raging.

  The Electroclan and I are on a flight back to the United States from Taiwan. We just rescued a young Chinese girl named Jade Dragon from the Elgen. We were at a safe house in Taiwan when we learned that Timepiece Ranch, the headquarters of the resistance, had been destroyed by Elgen forces. The last communication we received from the voice is that there were no survivors.

  For me this is personal. My mother was at the ranch. I was only eight when my father died. I remember feeling like my world had died with him. The only person who got me through it was my mother. Now she’s gone too. I’m an orphan.

 
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