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Elementis: The Awesome Foursome – Chapter 13 “The Day the Earth Changed”
October 21, 2015
In 1994 the International Whaling Commission designated 50million square miles of the Antarctic Ocean as the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. A groundbreaking piece of legislation, welcomed the world over but legislation logistically difficult to police and enforce. Japanese whaling ships had been spotted many times in the area but always claimed they were conducting research. Greenpeace and other animal rights organisations had launched expeditions to catch them in the act of commercial whaling but these were treacherous waters and only a week before a tiny Greenpeace boat, ill equipped for the conditions had capsized and all three crew members were lost.
The larger Greenpeace boat, The Liberator had now managed to find three illegal whaling vessels that had corralled a pod of whales into a tight circle and the Liberators crew were on deck arranging video equipment to gather evidence of the imminent slaughter.
There was a large swell and the freezing sea spray lashed them and the cameras but just as they were about to start filming, something stopped them in their tracks.
Two figures materialised on the deck before them, one male, one female, their slight figures clad in tight uniforms. One of the crew instinctively grabbed a flare gun and pointed it in their direction.
Sara raised her hand and smiled, “You won’t need that,” she said calmly, “we’re here to help.
I am Marina and my friend here is Thermo. If you would just stand back and give us a little room, we’ll take it from here.”
Ben walked over and shook the hand of the man nearest the video camera. “Just stand back and enjoy the show,” he grinned, “and keep the cameras rolling.”
With that he rose into the air and made his way to the centre of the three huge ships.
Sara dived over the side and disappeared into the surging waves. Within a minute the water around the ships began to bubble and one of the huge vessels was pushed aside by a huge wave and a powerful current guided the whales through the gap it had left, allowing them the safety of the open sea. More churning waves and currents then pushed the three ships closer together. Sara burst out of the water, landing gently on the deck of the Liberator.
“They’re all yours Thermo” she shouted with a thumbs up.
Ben was now hovering two hundred metres above the ships. He raised his arms from his side and turned his outstretched palms down towards the sea and closed his eyes in concentration.
Slowly and surely he siphoned off the heat from a circle surrounding the ships. The water was already close to freezing point and as Ben removed the remaining heat, the sea began to freeze. Only the surface at first but after a few minutes the ice was twenty metres thick, trapping the whaling ships in a massive frozen disc. As he absorbed the heat his form changed colour, first to red, then yellow and finally becoming white-hot. The air around him crackled as the heat burnt the oxygen in the air and there was another sound below him as the expanding ice began to crush the metal hulls of the ships. He moved even higher so that he could expel the heat into the upper atmosphere but before he did, he turned his gaze to the stranded ships below and thin beams of searing light shot from his eyes, instantly turning the huge harpoon guns, which had caused so much devastation to the whale population, into piles of molten slag.
He then turned his hands and eyes heavenward and released the rest of the pent up heat into the air. By the time he landed on the deck of the Liberator in front of the incredulous crew, his temperature was almost back to normal but still caused the water on the deck to steam as he touched down.
One of the crew stepped forward and pulled back the heavy hood of her Parker, her face was stained with tears and her voice cracked with emotion. “I don’t know who or what you are or how you just did what you did but you have my undying thanks.”
Sara stepped forward to meet her and took the women’s trembling hands in hers and smiled. “You do realise, of course, that we didn’t do it for you and you really shouldn’t be out here risking your lives, although we appreciate the gesture.”
“But if we don’t do it, who will?”
“We will,” Sara said, squeezing her hands, “go home to your families, we’ll take it from here.”
Ben tapped Sara on the shoulder, “I hate to break this up but we need to be elsewhere.”
Sara stepped back and addressed the assembled crew. “The ice will soon melt and the whalers should be able to limp back to port but you need to let everyone know what happened here and that anyone hunting the worlds endangered species will answer to us.”
For the first time the man who had set up the video equipment spoke, “Tell them? We can show them if it’s ok with you, I got some great footage.” Ben walked over and slapped him on the back with a still steaming hand. “Well my friend, it looks like you got the scoop of the century, or any century for that matter. When you put this on YouTube, the world will never be the same again —- and make sure you spell our names right.”
Ben took Sara’s hand and led her to the bow of the ship where in front of the disbelieving crew of the Liberator, they melted into thin air.
The forest fires in California had been raging for seven days. The firefighters and rescue services exhausted, desperate and demoralised. Their valiant attempts to control the fire had failed. Fanned and fed with oxygen by the prevailing wind, the flames devoured the tinder dry forest with a ferocity almost unprecedented in this area, which was becoming used to what was now an annual inferno. A state of emergency had been declared and the local military were working frantically with the firefighters to construct the latest in line of firebreaks to try to contain the blaze. The wind direction and propensity of dry fuel meant that all previous efforts had been futile. The flames leapt on the breeze from tree to tree.
Such was the heat of the fire that the water dropped from planes from above turned to steam before it had any effect. The area had been evacuated but there had already been casualties. Two families that refused to move had died and four firemen were missing presumed dead. Also missing was a school bus which had collected children from a local school six hours ago but which hadn’t been seen since. Helicopters were sent in to find it but they could only spend a limited time in the air because of the smoke and thermal up draughts.
Distraught and weeping parents lined up behind the latest firebreak but were already being pushed back by the heat and acrid atmosphere as the rescue services called for yet another retreat. The TV cameras were there in force, beaming this very human tragedy, by live feed, worldwide.
In the chaos, no one noticed Rachel and Logan appear. They pushed their way through the throng to a fireman who held a megaphone and seemed to be in charge. They stood squarely in front of him and he lowered the megaphone. “Hello sir,” Rachel said calmly, “what can we do to help?”
Captain Jack Baines had been a firefighter for twenty-two years. He had fought forest fires before but never one like this. This one seemed almost spiteful in its remorseless intensity and it was all consuming. He was a proud man and hated to admit defeat but he knew the only course of action was to was to try and preserve life and let the fire burn itself out but with hundreds of thousands of acres of dry forest in its path, not to mention hundreds of homes and businesses, he knew that this would be a lengthy and costly option. Never had he felt so helpless and frustrated. Even faced with the enormity of the situation and under the most intense pressure, he still managed a weak smile as the two youngsters stood before him.
“Listen kids,” he said, “I appreciate the offer but the best thing you can do to help is get the hell out of here and try and take some of these poor people with you.” Before he could speak again another fireman ran over, breathless and emotional. “Chief,” he gasped, “they’ve found the bus. The chopper spotted it in a clearing. Looks like it hit a falling tree. The drivers unconscious or worse but the pilot said he saw kids moving about inside.”
Jack grasped the shoulders of his younger colleague, “Can we get to them?” He asked.
The man shook his head slowly, “They’re hemmed in. If the heat or the flames don’t get them, the smoke will.”
As Jack bowed his head, Rachel nodded to Logan who dropped to his knees and plunged his hands into the ground and just as in the Amazon, he absorbed the earth and rocks around him and began to grow. The two fireman, the crowd and the rest of the rescue services watched in stunned silence as over the next thirty seconds his bulk increased twenty fold until even kneeling, he was twenty meters tall. Rachel shimmered then floated up and sat on his shoulder.
She shouted down to the young firefighter, “Which way and how far? Point us in the right direction.” The man, his mouth wide open turned slowly to look at Jack who shrugged his shoulders, “Well fireman,” he barked, “what are you waiting for? You heard the young lady, tell them.”
“Just over a kilometre,” he stuttered pointing into the distance, “in that direction.”
Logan who had continued to absorb mass, stood and clenched his fists as he willed his form to increase its density. Within seconds his body became dark grey and smooth. A forty metre high, granite monolith. With Rachel still on his shoulder, he walked with purpose and with massive strides into the burning forest. The earth trembled with each step and within seconds he had disappeared into the smoke and flames.
Of the hundreds of people who had just witnessed the astounding transformations, none spoke for long seconds. Some were in shock. Some were fearful. All were confused and astonished and just a few, who sensed something miraculous had just happened, dared to hope.
Minutes passed and the tension was palpable. People began to murmur and the airwaves were alive as the rescue services and the media tried to make sense of it. The cameras were fixed on the place where the giant stone man and the see through girl had entered the conflagration but for ten minutes now, nothing. No sight. No sound. Had these extraordinary creatures, like every other living thing, been consumed by the flames?
The answer came not through sight or sound but through a feeling, a vibration to be precise. The ground trembled, gently at first, intermittently but rhythmically. Then the sound of distant muffled footsteps. Everyone held their breath collectively, eyes wide in expectation as the footsteps grew louder.
Then, emerging from the swirling smoke and flames came the most incredible sight that all those present had ever seen.
The huge stone man, his formally grey form blackened by the flames, strode towards them. On one shoulder, a transparent young girl. On the other, held securely by his massive arm, a yellow school bus. He knelt on one knee and gently lowered it in front of the crowd who immediately saw children smiling and waving through the windows.
And then it happened. Something that Rachel and Logan would never forget. An eruption of sound and emotion. Cheering, cries of relief and rapturous applause, drowning out even the crackling roar of the flames. Logan stood once more to his full height and theatrically took a bow, causing Rachel to slip from his shoulder and float gently to the ground in front of a grinning Jack Baines.
“I’ve cooled the bus down but it might still be a little hot to the touch so your guys might need to hose it down before the people get too close. Now what else can we do?.” She said calmly.
“There’s nothing much anyone can do with the wind against us but the big guy there might be able to help with the fire break”
“Tell you what Chief, get your people to move those kids back and let’s get to work.”
As Jack instructed his people to do as Rachel asked, she began to rise into the air but was stopped by Jack. “Wait. Wait a second. At least tell me who you are.”
She came back down and hovered at eye level with the fireman. “I’m Zephyr and he’s Rocky. We are Elementis.” Jack had a thousand questions but before he could ask one, she was gone, rising into the air until she was high above the tree line, barely visible through the smoke. She threw her head back, closed her eyes and spread her arms wide. The crowd watched but nothing happened, or nothing seemed to happen. Then Jack felt it, almost imperceptibly at first and then it was stronger. There was no doubt the wind had changed. For the first time in seven long days, the wind was blowing against the flames, pushing it back to where it had already consumed the forest. The smoke also cleared in that direction and for the first time in days, the people on the ground could see the clear blue sky. Logan had now regained his human form and ran over to Jack. “She can’t keep it up for long,” he said “only a few minutes, but she’ll buy us enough time to sort out the fire break.”
Jack put his hands on the boy’s shoulders. “Son, the fire is two miles wide. It would take us weeks to build the an effective break.”
Logan smiled reassuringly, “Just answer me these questions. How far in each direction from this point does the break have to be and how high would a wall have to be to do the job?”
Jack couldn’t imagine what the youngster had in mind but after what he seen in the last few minutes; he was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. “We’re about in the middle here, so a mile either side and six foot wall should buy us some time but—” before he could continue Logan turned and placed himself between the crowd and the flames. A reporter from Global news ran over to the Chief. “Now what’s happening.”
She asked “Search me”, he said, removing his helmet and running his fingers through his hair, which was wet with perspiration, “All I know is his names Rocky and he’s here to help.” The reporter ran back to the crowd to impart what the Chief had said just in time to see Logan drop to one knee again and thrust his hands into the ground as before. There was palpable anticipation in the crowd as they waited for him to grow again but he didn’t. Instead the ground in front of him and behind him started to fall and the ground to the left and right of him started to rise. In seconds Jack realised what the boy was doing. He was forming two parallel ditches, each five foot deep and using the material to build a wall in the middle, ten feet high. The structure emanated out sideways from each of Logan’s hands and as it reached its full height it solidified. The ground heaved and cracked and rumbled as the structure grew in length. Ten metres, a hundred metres then as far as the eye could see. Then the chanting started, beginning with one small boy who had been rescued from the bus, joined quickly by the others, then all of the crowd, then even the rescue services and media teams.
“Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!”
Even as he strained in total concentration, he heard them. For fifteen minutes he knelt there, eyes closed and silent, using the encouragement of the crowd to help him complete his momentous task. Then it was done. He withdrew his hands from the earth and tried to stand but the effort had exhausted him and he stumbled forward onto all fours. The crowd, almost as one, gasped and Jack ran over to help him. As he reached him and helped him to his feet, Rachel descended from the sky, resumed her solid form and stood before her twin. She put her hands on his cheeks and said quietly, “Logan, are you ok?” He could hear the concern in her voice and was eager to dispel it.
“I’m fine sis” he smiled, “just took it out of me a bit.”
Other firefighters were now gathering round and the crowd was moving towards them and Rachel knew it was time to go. She turned to Jack and spoke earnestly and with an authority that belied her tender age.
“Listen to me Captain. With the earth getting warmer and dryer every year, these fires will become more frequent and widespread. We won’t always be here to help with what is, after all, a natural phenomenon. They should be left to burn and run their natural course until they run out of fuel. The best thing you and your authorities can do is make sure people don’t build their homes in the middle of them. Nature will always win in the end.”
With that she put Her brothers arm around her shoulder and they turned to face the crowd. The two smiled and Logan waved weakly which prompted more uproarious applause, then they sank into the ground and were gone.
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September 1, 2015