Les Mousquetaires – Chapter 1 (Bruce Almighty)
“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Few things are as memorable as embarking on a Lightning Ship; a vessel that’s sole purpose is to collect lightning strikes from storm clouds.
Especially just prior to an electrical storm.
“Lightning is essentially a bidirectional channel of ionized air, moving from one extreme to another,” the sixty-six-year-old man with the ice-white beard said, as he mindlessly scratched at it.
“It moves from the top of the cloud – the positively charged portion of the cloud – to the negatively charged portion of the cloud,” he explained, as the seventy-two-year-old redhead that looked about forty-five followed him through a narrow doorway.
“But it only works if the two halves are kept separate. In a storm – that’s the roiling mass of movement at the center of the cloud. There, the cloud is essentially neutral in its charge.”
He was speaking loudly, over the rushing sound of the gathering storm, as well as the large plasma coil that throbbed and pulsed beneath them.
“Most of the leaders we capture here are about forty-five meters in length. And we take ‘em apart, pretty much how mother nature put 'em together. By passing them through an ion-well that sheers off first the negative and then the positive charge.”
The man strode out onto a narrow catwalk that spanned the center of his large ship, and then he turned and motioned for her to follow.
Lynnette looked down at the roiling dark mass of clouds below them – and then at the ones above them – and took about a half-second to think about the consequences should her plan fail – and then she strode out behind him.
“We ride the storm out here – hovering at roughly 3.5 kilometers above the ground – where the storm is the thickest,” the pale man with the slight paunch to his belly shouted at her, from a couple feet away.
“We average somewhere between seventy-five to two-hundred strikes per hour.”
Lynette Parker stared up at the clouds overhead and wondered what was stopping one from striking just then, and killing them both.
“Nothing,” the man said, with a small smile that did nothing to support her confidence.
“There’s nothing stopping one from hitting now. Don’t worry tho – I’m not a psychic – it’s just what everyone thinks when I bring 'em out here. And, in fact, we should probably be going in now. As the little hairs on the back of my neck are tellin’ me we’re getting close.”
“We’re… getting close…” the spry woman with enough energy for ten wild horses replied, rather lamely, and under her breath, as she quickly retreated off the catwalk and back inside the safety of the hovering vessel.
“What keeps it in the air?” Lynnette asked, as she liked to make a point of familiarizing herself with all types of tech.
But the man just smiled, and then he moved quickly over to a small liquor cabinet he had in the corner of the tiny living quarters at the heart of the tall, but narrow, vessel.
Then he said, “It’s the standard fumion reactor, as most star-drives.”
Coming to stand next to her, Bruce handed her a rather full glass of the strong green liquor the lightning farmers were known for.
“But that’s only used to get the ship into place, and to land – if we land.”
“And the rest of the time? What keeps you aloft?”
The redhead had been a lot of things during her long life, and most of them had to do with things most other people didn’t have a mind for, and so the man knew if anyone could cut to the marrow – it was Lynnette.
And so, the man smiled, and then snorted a bit, cuz suddenly it felt just like old times.
“You always knew how to cut to the chase,” he told her, as he took a seat on the small sofa and then invited her to sit next to him.
“We use the cloud’s energy itself. You see, the ship is designed to redirect the wind into a flow that naturally keeps us aloft.”
“And if the wind speed suddenly drops?” Lynnette asked, as the little hairs on the back of her neck suddenly stood on end.
“Then we drop out of the air like a lead weight,” he told her, as he stood to go and refill her glass.
“Sounds peachy,” the woman told him, as she took the refilled glass, which she quickly downed in one go.
“Happen often?” she asked, as she dropped rather ungracefully onto the sofa.
Technically the tiny woman wasn’t used to drinking, and already she was feeling a wee-bit wobbly.
“Not too,” the man replied with a small sigh.
“So, how do you do it? How do you harness the energy from the lightning?” Lynnette asked, even though she’d already done her homework on this part of the process.
“When the lightning strikes, it proceeds down this channel – through the middle of the ship. See those?” he asked, as he pointed to the thousands upon thousands of black dots that lined the inside of the interior of the column.
“Those are short-wave lasers that rapid fire the charged ions onto those plasma sheets, there,” he said, pointing again, this time at the long strips of a grey material that lined the length of the column in four-inch increments.
“The plasma sheets collect and then condense the charged ions, and then sends all of it into the plasma coil beneath us - for storage. The on-board-coil will short-term store upwards of a terawatt of energy.”
Lynnette once again thought about the ‘falling out of the sky like a lead weight’ part of the equation, and then added a terawatt of energy to it.
“I don’t know,” she said, her voice a bit wobblier than she’d heard it in a very long time.
“Seems awfully dangerous.”
“We’ve had two pandemics, two massive floods, and an invasion of aliens in the past twenty-three years. Tell me what part of life isn’t dangerous anymore?”
Lynnette smiled at that. Her first real one of the evening.
“Look, you told me you needed to talk to me. Not the other way around. And so far, it’s me that’s done all the talking. So, speak. What’s up? What has brought the great rebel army leader into my humble abode?”
“My daughter. She’s in trouble, and I don’t know who else to turn to. You were the only one I could think of,” she told him truthfully, as she got up and went to the bar to refill her drink once more.
“You have an entire army of humans and visitors at your disposal. Why could you possibly need my help?” the man asked.
Though, to be fair, he left out the part about him being a national hero who had saved millions of lives during the great upheaval.
“She’s joined the Ides.”
The man blinked twice, and then nodded when Lynnette motioned a refill inquiry.
“Not in the slightest,” she told him, as she handed him his drink.
And then she went to the observation window and peered out onto the large channel built for harnessing pure energy.
“Why? Did she have a choice? Did they recruit her?” he asked, once again mindlessly scratching at his white whiskers.
“You ever hear about the daisies?” the woman asked, without turning to look at the man.
“Sure, everyone who’s anyone has,” the man who had once been in the secret service told her.
“She’s looking to join them.”
“To what end?” he asked, though he’d met Hadley Parker, and he knew her mother well enough – so the guessing hadn’t been too hard.
Still, he let her mother explain.
“To save the world – why else?”
© Raena Exe 2021
*Inspired by life.
*All characters, places, and events are completely fictional.
*All rights reserved.
Enter a story title, chapter number, or even a keyword to search my entire library.
In an attempt to rescue her missing daughter, a former Secretary of the UN forms a team of Lightning Farmers in order to save the world from a deadly threat coming from space. Which then shifts the balance of power within the galaxy. Something that openly declares war on The Ides. Which Lynnette Parker hopes will lead her to come face-to-face with an élite force within The Ides, known only as The Daisies.