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    Thread: Will Wonders Never Cease?

    1. #1
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      Cool Will Wonders Never Cease?

      Will Surprises Never Cease?

      Chapter 1: Moving

      Stan was busy helping his mom and dad for a week solid. His dad got a great new job hundreds of miles away, in New England, and for a boy from the big city it seemed like things were going downhill fast.

      But he understood, because as a junior the teachers already were harping about what careers you might want to get into after graduation, and even he had to take a little time to think. His dad said he’d leave it completely up to him and his mom did mention a few things...obviously she thought very highly of his few skills... but he just smiled and helped load the big moving van and after a long tiring trip they arrived at their new home. A nice big two story house next to a river and within sight of the high school where he would graduate...that is if you knew where to look since you could barely see the top of one building through the trees.

      The neighborhood was clean, the entire town seemed overly friendly, and already he had seen some pretty foxy young ladies around, so living here might not be so bad after all.

      He was told there were two high schools in the town, one right down the street and another on the far side of town, about 10 miles away. He wondered if they had enough students for two schools, but he just left it go and after spending a few days getting the house set up he walked down the street and into the school for the first time.

      It was a nice place...lots of red bricks and big windows that tilted out in the summer to get more air inside. The office was on the first floor and when he went to sign in they held him for a few minutes and he got tested...to see what his skills were they said...but they were some of the oddest tests he had ever taken, but he gave it his all and when they were done a teacher came and led him down a long hall to his homeroom.

      There he got introduced, and he was told that his testing would continue after class, and he looked like he might be getting upset. He had never seen a school where testing was so important, but he nodded and took his seat and after the teacher left he got the whole ‘new kids first day’ thing with a hundred questions about everything he had ever done before and where he came from.

      “Baseball huh?” One kid asked as Stan agreed saying he played outfield with the local team back home in Chicago, and they had a lot of fun even though they never were real contenders in the Fall contests.

      “There are a lot of clubs here and sports too, maybe we’ll see you in one of them?” He got asked, and he said he’d think about it and many nodded happily that the new kid wasn’t too hard to get along with.

      “What’s your skill?” One grumpy looking brunette sitting a few rows over asked, as someone cleared their throat as the teacher came back in.

      The person sitting behind her whispered something and she looked at him oddly for a second, and after a second more class got started again and things settled back down nicely.

      After seeing how classes were going to go Stan was led away again... and he asked why so many tests... and the lady smiled and said it was very important to know what he needed to learn and what could be ignored. And that got him wondering right there... because his other school didnt ‘ignore’ anything... to his immediate dislike. He was terrible at History for instance, and the teacher was determined to make him memorize things that he would never see, about people he would never know. Silly to him for sure.

      So maybe after a few days like this they’d see that he hated it and he’d never need to remember that junk again, but he doubted it was going to be that easy.

      More tests, odder than the last. ‘read this card’ they asked and as he did he mentioned that he couldn’t see it but they insisted and so he closed his eyes and said whatever came to mind at the time, and they rushed through to something else.

      “Don’t bump the case...” he got told and he looked down at a metal marble inside a glass case and they said to imagine it moving and he laughed and asked them if they were UFO nuts or something, but they just smiled some more and he waved his hand like some great magician and said ‘move I demand it!’ and then walked away laughing, and more notes were taken.

      “It’s been fun and all... but you guys are just weird.” Stan said finally as the lady looked oddly at him and she led him back to the front door and he went home to study for the first quiz in Math that he knew was coming. It was no big thing since he was further ahead than this in Math at his old school so he didn’t have much to worry about, and as he sat eating a buzz came at the front door and his mom got it to see a great looking little blond standing there smiling and she handed her a form, all filled out, and she read it and nodded seriously for her and signed it and handed it back.

      “I’ll leave it up to you.” Clare said softly and shut the door and went back inside saying it was just a salesman, and they finished their dinner and Stan went upstairs to study and mom and dad had a soft little talk in their room about their son’s future.

      Chapter 2: Meet the Instructors...and get Some Answers

      Stan finished his regular classes and as he walked towards the front door a lady teacher called to him and asked him to follow her and he sighed thinking more of these odd tests might be coming. He did as she asked, and soon found himself sitting looking at 4 teachers who all shook his hand and smiled...way too much he thought...and Stan asked what was going on and they said it all would be explained in a second, and he couldn’t wait to hear that explanation, so he sat back and waited.

      It took way more than a second, and he was about ready to leave them standing there when the door opened and in walked a man big enough to be Rambo’s older brother, only wearing really nice cloths and shoes that looked like they cost a fortune.

      “AH!” he said looking around “ Stanley Hemming isn’t it?” he asked with his hand out as Stan agreed.

      “It’s been many years since we had a 5 letter student here, so please excuse my friends for looking so surprised.” he added as Stan asked what he even meant by that ,as he gave the rest a dirty look and one lady mentioned that Stan was ...in the very least...intimidating, and he just shook his head and smiled.

      “Every test you took had a letter assigned to it, each letter stood for a force of Nature... Air, Water,Fire,Earth, Time and Space. To find a skill in any of those would give you a code using that letter, but you have multiple skills, not all very strong but enough to measure, and so your code is STEFA...and since Air is your strongest skill its the last letter in your code, understand now?” He asked as Stan just shook his head no and they looked sad for him.

      “Let me explain then...” He heard as his mom walked in dressed very well indeed, and even the big man stepped back out of respect.” We moved here so you can go to school at this place, and no other. Your Father actually took a small cut in pay coming here but my salary will more than make up for that.” She added as he still looked lost and she finally laughed out loud.

      “Welcome to Hemming Academy...a school for special students like you. Remember how you were playing ball and no one last year could catch anything you threw? You were in the outfield and even at home base the speed was too much. Here’s a hint, sophomores in high school don’t usually throw 90 mph balls from 200 yards away. So a special instructor came to watch a game and after that admitted you had skills. So when we learned that you inherited some of our skills, we moved back here so you could get proper training to learn to use them. This school has been around for 300 years training people like you, me and your father. You think your dad works in some office? He really works as a Freelancer prospecting for oil companys and finding new sites to drill, but he doesnt need any big expensive machines, he can smell the oil through miles of rock. I can travel massive distances in a second and have been working here part time for years. It’s our families own school after all.” She said with some pride, and waited for it to sink in.

      “I get it now...” Stan said with a big grin as everyone finally smiled wide again.” you’re all on drugs! That’s the only explanation!” he added as his mom gave him a good slap and everyone looked away to keep from seeing it, or letting her see them laughing.

      “Ladies and gentlemen...” She said loudly and one by one they showed him their skills. One lady had a 6 inch icicle in her hand a second later and was chewing on it, another lady tossed a fireball back and forth in her hands and the thin looking older man was floating on a cushion of air 2 feet off the floor, while the big muscular man seemed to fade in and out of sight.

      “No Stanley...” His mom said loudly... and seriously close to his ear.” we ARENT on drugs..” And she slapped him again softly and introduced them all as his teachers and from today forward he was a REAL student here and not some test subject getting shuffled from room to room.

      “And I’ll learn what exactly?” he asked finally as she waved to them and smiled.

      “Everything.” She said and they applauded for him and he felt his whole world was fake up until today. “When in class you use your code name... in your case STEFA...it tells anyone who knows us that you have multiple skills. Its not some odd nickname, it’ll follow you the rest of your life and be proud of it, many don’t have that many skills to train.” She explained and by now he just nodded looking like his entire world had just collapsed... because to him maybe it did.

      “Go home and study, I have a meeting then we’ll go out for dinner.” She whispered and he walked out slowly and in shock, and she stayed to talk to the teachers gathered there, and by the time he got hungry she and his Steve were ready to go, and they took him to some of their favorite places around town, and he was surprised many people knew them on sight.

      “I told you I worked here for years.” Clare hinted, as Stan had to think maybe the world was a lot more complicated than he first thought, and many around them smiled and waved and he started feeling a little overwhelmed by it all but smiled back and waved when asked to, and on their way home they both told him stories of them in school, where they met, and that he’d have fun here too now that the formalities were over, and he tried to believe them even if it all just seemed to sudden to accept.

    2. #2
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      This isnt about a young man with huge skills using them to get rich. This is about someone learning totally new things ,and then finding out that they have always been a part of the World... just not mentioned much. Presidents, Kings, Queens all though History called in every person with Special Abilities through out Time and used them to help them. And it still goes on today, just not openly.

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      Chapter 3: Meeting the Air

      By the time homeroom started the next day the word was out, and Stan got asked a million questions about who he really was, and some thought it was amazing that he had 5 skills to train, and a few mentioned it wasn’t so strange since he was going to be the inheritor of the school someday. And a few girls got really excited thinking that, and Stan got asked out a few times that first day, but he refused saying he needed time to settle in here first and they seemed to understand.

      After homeroom he got taken to his first class...Air Magic...and he tried not to laugh when the skinny little guy told him that once he was trained that he’d never need a vehicle again...unless he was in an area where such things were deemed important, like major cities and State and National capitals, since seeing such things there might cause a lot of trouble.

      “So..the very basics then.” The guy said and lit a candle and then had Stan stand back 6 feet from it and told him to put it out, and Stan tried blowing on it from there but the guy looked sad for him and then he waved his hand lightly and the candle went out. “ Like that.” he added and went back to light it again.

      Stan tried a few times and after a while the man saw that he really was an amateur after all and that he probably needed some extra help.

      “OK then, the reason you cant command the air right now seems to be your thinking, you just don’t see that the air will listen to you or that you have the ability to command it.” he explained as Stan laughed saying this was the first time anyone said they could control air and the man nodded that his family had kept him in the dark thinking that maybe he had no such skills... and so letting him know about them would only confuse him more.

      “Then I think you should have a better tutor.” The man said seriously, and Stan tried to say that he was OK it was just too new for him, and the man called on the ‘Spirits of the Wind’ to come and visit them, and Stan felt a slight breeze and the man seemed pretty proud of himself and Stan didnt know why.

      “This is your new master, Master Stanley Hemming, please say hello.” he said as Stan looked all around and nearly knocked a tiny person off of his shoulder as she jumped up into the air and chuckled at him. She was less than 4 inches tall and very female but she had wings like a dragonfly and almost Arabian style clothing on.

      “Master Stanley..” She said softly,” I welcome you to our school.” And Stan felt really surprised to see and hear such a rare thing and he asked without thinking if she was a pixie, and she looked very upset with him for a second.

      “Did I say something wrong?” He asked as she went into some detail explaining that Wind Spirits were not... and never had been... lowly pixies, and Stan saw that for her size she had some real spirit...and that thought seemed too obvious to even say out loud... and he laughed.”I apologize then, it’s my first time meeting one of you.” Stan explained and she seemed to appreciate that, so things settled back down.

      “When you command the Wind these are the people who answer your call...” The teacher added as the little girl nodded it was true. “ There are thousands, millions maybe that are all around us all the time. They form the breeze in the summer and the gales in the winter, so they can certainly be a powerful ally when you need them.” he explained as Stan looked a lot more serious by now.

      “What is your name little one?” Stan asked and the teacher nearly screamed when he asked, but after a second she calmly said ‘Cora’ and the skinny little teacher looked faint. “I thank you for coming to meet me Cora, it was a pleasant surprise for someone so new at things like this.” He added as she smiled wide and thanked him for saying so.

      “My friend can you put that candle out for me?” he asked as she sat down on his shoulder and said all he needed to do was look at it and wish it was out, and Stan relaxed a bit and did just that and the candle went out as a breeze filled the room and the teacher applauded him for making his first contract, and Stan asked what he was even talking about.

      “Spirits don’t have to give you their real names . Its a special thing to them because names have great power to control others.” He explained as Stan looked surprised and he asked why Cora shared her name so quickly, and she looked embarrassed but said that she felt his power inside him, and she knew others would offer him contracts too and she wanted to be able to brag she was the first, and Stan thanked her for helping and she said to call on her anytime and she just faded away.

      “Speaking of names...” The teacher said softly,” I’m Mr. Johanson, so please use that instead of Mr. Skinny from now on.” He said looking a little upset, as Stan looked really embarrassed and asked if he had actually said that out loud, and the man agreed saying ‘several times’ and Stan apologized and his first class in Wind Magic was over.

      Stan took a few books home and sat down to study things that had been fantasy to him just a month ago. But if Cora did anything she showed him that a world existed that he had never known before, and he was smack dab in the middle of it now, so he better prepare.

      In an hour his mom called that dinner was ready and he walked in yawning and sat down... to see his fathers face all lit up and his mother with her elbows on the table, fingers linked and ‘that look’ on her face... as he immediately asked what he did wrong this time.

      “You made a contract the very first day of training, didn’t Mr. Johanson try and stop you??” She demanded as he said it happened so fast he didn’t have time to, and she seemed to think about that for a minute.

      “And I thought that making contracts is what I am supposed to do here, isn’t that right? In my textbook it says that making contracts gives us friends to help us during hard times and even battles. So why is it such a big deal I got one the first day?” He asked as his Father mentioned that it was a big thing because many don’t get the chance until they were near graduation, and it might hurt some feelings it happened for him so soon.

      “And don’t EVER tell anyone her name..its THAT important... she offered it to you and no one else saying it out loud to others would be a terrible slap in her face, and you don’t need Spirits angry with you if your going to be a success.” He added and Stan nodded he understood and turned to try and eat some more but his mom wasn’t ready for that yet but his dad stopped her saying it was dinner time and this could wait until later and she didn’t look too sure but she left it go for now.

      Chapter 4: Getting Practical

      For weeks Stan studied and had all 5 books with him now. He could levitate himself for long periods of time like the teacher had shown him before. And his lessons in Fire taught him that it was just a force of Nature like everything else, governed by Fire Spirits.

      His first Fire lesson was with that chunky older lady who called herself Emily, and she had an odd way of teaching. Her first lesson was to light a candle and hold his hand over it to prove it wouldn’t burn him. Then force him to hold it there until it looked like it would burn his hand black in that one spot and when he asked what she was doing she released him saying that now ‘the fire is within you’ and he looked oddly at her for that comment.

      But from that moment on he could do a few little ‘tricks’ like lighting a flame on his fingertip on command and burning a pile of trash in a second with a wave of fire that he commanded.So his grades were getting better and Clare saw that by the time he graduated he’d be ready to earn a good living for himself, and carry on the families traditions.

      His other skills were a little further behind. His Earth skill gave him abilities like his fathers, to detect things underground or to pile up sand with a wave of his hand. He could manage that, barely, but he was told that it wasn’t his best skill so anything he could do would help him later on, and he agreed to keep trying.

      Space was his least powerful skill, and if he could learn to control it then distance would mean little to him. Like his mother who could just ‘appear’ somewhere hundreds of miles away, Space gave you that power and others, like her handbag which Stan had always said was bottomless, and she would just smile and say nothing. But knowing what he did now it might well be, and he laughed at how close he might have come to knowing about magic back then.

      Over the weekend Stan and 4 of his classmates had a job to do for extra credit. It was their job...to clean up a beach not far from town. This part of the country had lots of fishing and trade ships coming in and out of ports up and down the coastline. The nearest port was about a hundred miles away and they got ordered to spend the weekend there cleaning up whatever they would find and piling it up to get collected.

      The people they sent formed a pretty good group with users in all the major skills along, so Stan was their Air user and when they found something heavy it was his job to get it to the pile for collection, and they had a truck sitting close by getting loaded as they went.

      They walked slowly along the beach and their Earth Master was a kid named Frank who walked along a bit ahead of them. He found some odd things too, barrels, some full of stuff yet, parts for vehicles, iron rods, bolts, all kinds of junk that might have come off some ship or from some worker from times past.

      He walked along then stopped suddenly and with a wave of his hand dirt flew and out popped some piece of junk and anything burnable got incinerated instantly by their Fire user and they just laughed and went on.

      “There’s miles and miles of beach area down here.” Stan mentioned as Emma, their leader agreed.” It would take years to clean it all up.” And she agreed to that saying that they only had a mile to do around the pier and dock, and then they were done, but she pointed over her shoulder to the last person in their group who smiled and waved and it was her job to ‘stretch the time’ a bit, since that was her specialty.

      “Don’t worry..” She said softly, “ we haven’t been here an hour yet.” And Stan was about to complain about being hungry and he said so and all the others laughed that that problem didn’t get fixed by slowing down Time around them, and Frank tossed him a fruit bar and they just kept on going.

      But after a while they had to stop for lunch and to get a rest. Even using Spirits as helpers takes concentration and skill and people get tired and headaches if they overdue it and so a nice leisurely lunch was just the thing, since the truck needed dumped by now anyways.

      “Stanley could have done this all by himself.” Frank teased saying he had the Earth skill and Fire and Air so they should just let him do it...as Stan gave him a dirty look and everyone laughed.

      “He would have been ill by now all alone.” Emma added as everyone nodded agreement,” And his mom would have shot us all for that I bet.” She added, as Stan left them know in no uncertain terms his mom thought he was some super hero or something and if it was her call he WOULD be here all alone. And the rest of the group got a good laugh at his embarrassment.

      “She expects great things from you.” Emma added as Stan softly mentioned that she didn’t need to expect too much from him as far as he was concerned, and the others just looked away smiling and they worked their way back down to the beach and worked the rest of the day getting their appointed area finished.

      By the time they got back in school Monday the official announcement was that 2.5 tons of junk got gathered and recycled, paying enough to cover the cost of the rental truck...which got mentioned that this one wasn’t destroyed this time either...since it had happened in the past.

      But they got good grades for it, and their extra credit more than made their upgrades to higher lessons possible, and they got a nice message from the Chamber of Commerce of the port thanking them for their hard work, and it got posted on the bulletin board for everyone to see.

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      I had a spurt so here extra chapters..
      Chapter 5: Winter in New England...Fighting with Nature

      Fall came and then the first snow, about 4 inches of it. Stan got invited to go hunting with one of his friends saying that venison was great on the grill or even fried. But Stan had never been a hunter so he went along for the fun of it.

      They got up early and Stan got picked up by his friend James in a pickup truck and out into the countryside they went. Up to some big farmers fields and then off the road into the edge of the woods. They parked and walked for a bit and James cleared all the leaves from a spot by a big log and they started a small fire. They sat there watching and waiting and when James decided he needed to relieve himself, then that was the second a large female deer walked right up to them and he looked upset, but afraid to move for fear it would run.

      Stan saw the problem but didn’t get it, if you don’t want it to run... and he gave a whisper and the deer was just standing there 3 feet off the ground running for dear life and going no where.

      “Stanley!” James screamed as Stan just looked lost.” Thats not sportsman like, stop it!” he demanded as Stan left the poor animal down and it started running full speed through the forest only to be stopped by a single shot from James and his rifle.

      “And that is?” Stan asked, as they gave each other dirty looks and went down and James cleaned the insides out of the deer while Stan tried not to look.

      “Its been done this way for centuries, its a real sport not like throwing a spell on it...hell I can do that.” James added as he added a short rope and started dragging it out but after about 50 yards he was asking for help, and Stan laughed at him and the deer once again flew down the hill and right into the back of the truck and James smiled and thanked him and Stan reminded him that if you kill something you should drag it yourself.

      “Its been done that way for centuries right?” he asked and James wasn’t too sure having him along helped much.

      “Smart ass...” James added softly and they walked back down and drove back to town and James got to brag he got his deer the first day, and Stan agreed he was there to see it.

      But 4 inches of snow in New England is just about...nothing..and Stan was soon to find that out. Over night a few days later they got 2 feet and the roads around town were impassable, even for the guys trying to get to the trucks to plow them. It was a surprise thunder storm that no one saw coming and the school got a call for help saying that at least another foot or more was on the way and the town was stuck at a dead standstill until road crews and salt trucks could get out.

      Clare had a meeting at the school and even she had to use her powers to get there. But once she set up teams to work together things go rolling pretty well.

      “The trucks and salt piles are here..” she said pointing to the map, “the drivers live fairly close by but might need a hand getting there, and the trucks and the entire dump area is snowed in too. Lets get out there and give them a hand.” She declared and Stan and a little thin girl named Sherry got paired together. She was a fire user, and with his wind and her fire they would have no problem clearing their assigned area.

      They were a couple miles away from their area when they walked out of the school and she gave him a odd look and waited, and he got a good laugh about it as they both left the ground and streaked out the drive and down the road.

      “I was wondering if you were going to make me walk.” She hinted as they flew along and Stan laughed and said he was more of a gentleman than that, and she smiled and agreed. “I’m in 1C your in 1B aren’t you?” She asked and he agreed he was.

      “I hear you use Fire too so we should get this done easily.” She mentioned as Stan reminded her that Wind was his specialty but he could use Fire if they needed more help.

      “OK we’re here.” he said as they dropped down into a snow bank feet thick that seemed to surround the truck garage, and in a second Sherry lit up like a torch from head to toe and everything near her melted down to the ground and she stepped forward and it just kept on melting, but Stan asked her to stand still for a second and she put her arms out to the side to generate more heat and a small whirlwind grabbed it and glowed red and then ran down the length of the building and the doors were ready to be opened a second later.

      “Nice...” She said with a big thumbs up and they did it again, using her heat and his wind the entire ground around the building was cleared in a few minutes and he said to wait here, and he flew away to get the drivers, and she saw a tractor nearby they needed for loading the salt and it was buried under a mountain of snow too.

      When he returned the whole area was clean to the ground and the tractor and salt pile were clear too. The two men Stan carried in applauded their hard work and the doors flew open and the big trucks got started. They claimed they could take it from here and Stan and Sherry flew into the air and started back only to get a call from his mother asking if they were done yet and they stopped in mid air, and Stan gave her their report and Sherry looked really happy just hanging there acting silly, one time looking like she was swimming in air and another doing flips, and Stan asked her what she was doing and she reminded him that ‘this is fun’ and that her Fire magic didn’t allow this type of thing, and he just laughed.

      “OK one more job, the town mall is closed until the roads leading into it and the parking lot is cleared so no one will be able to get emergency supplies, guess who gets to help?” he said sarcastically, and Sherry laughed and pointed saying ‘onward’ and Stan got a good laugh at her for it.

      He never took the time to look until now, but flying along he did notice she was kind of cute. Small, maybe 5‘2“, thin, not very well endowed or anything...short blond hair and a big smile... but she had a sort of friendly, almost pixie style that made people like her. She wasn’t afraid to work hard either and he respected that, and she seemed to notice him watching her, and for a young girl that seldom got a second glance she got a big smile from that.

      “There it is...” She pointed to a huge parking lot and some large buildings off to the side and as a small red truck plowed its way into the parking lot and she laughed as they sat down by the front door and she walked over to the truck, as Stan waited to see what she was doing.The door opened and out stepped a big man with nice cloths, wading snow up to his knees and she waved her hand and cleared a path to the door for him and he gave her a big hug and went in and Stan was looking a bit odd for a moment as she returned laughing to herself.

      “My dad’s the manager here.” She hinted as Stan got a big grin and said that he loved her very much didn’t he, and she growled saying almost too much sometimes, and she stepped into the snow drifts and put out her arms again and another round of heated wind started clearing the parking lot before the lights even came on.

      At one point he had 3 whirl winds going at once and things were getting done... but it was a big job... and their second one today, and after a while she dropped her arms and her fire went out and Stan walked up asking if she was alright.

      “This is a lot at one time. I need a break.” She said as a voice screamed from the door and her and Stan went inside to get warm and get free coffee and donuts being offered for helping.

      “I’m Phillip Hastings,” The man said as Stan shook his hand.

      “This is Stanley Hemming...he’s the Dean’s son.” Sherry added quickly, as Stan nodded agreement and the man smiled wide seeing them working together today.

      “I’ve heard good things about you.” he said as Stan just smiled and left that go for now. “Sherry was looking pretty happy working with you..she seldom gets interested in a young man right away.” he hinted as she gave him a loud throat clearing sound and Stan just smiled and looked away.

      Just then Stan’s phone rang and he answered it and he was getting yelled at pretty bad right now and he agreed and when he slid it into his pocket he said they were ordered back to the school immediately.

      “The second storm is on its way, we need to get back.” he declared as Phillip gave them two big boxes of donuts to take a long and they were airborne a second later.

      “My dad likes you I can tell.” Sherry mentioned and she was smiling pretty wide saying it and Stan said nothing but rushed them back just before the storm got too bad to see.

      Chapter 6: Old Ways Meets Modern Attitude

      They landed and went in and everyone there was happy to see some snacks appearing, and Clare thanked them for thinking of them on their way back. They had a big pot of coffee going already and Clare had some lunch meats and bread for sandwiches, saying this might be a long hard day or two for all of them.

      “The second storm is baring down on us and the wind is going to be bad.” She added saying that roads and parking lots wouldn’t stay open for long and drifting would be a problem.

      “The road crews are out, but if it gets too bad they wont keep up. So we’ll help in places like ambulance centers and hospitals, so emergency crews can get in and out.” Clare added and many nodded agreement.

      “Cant us wind users just ask the Wind not to mess those places up?” Stan mentioned and immediately got laughed at for it.

      “We can USE the wind that doesn’t mean we truly control it.” Got mentioned, as Clare greed.” Nature controls everything she just lets us use a little of that for our own purposes.” He heard and Stan felt that letting the Wind do as it liked was somehow self defeating, and many smiled but they did agree.

      “Compared to Nature we are still babies.” Sherry chipped in and many nodded agreement. “ And age doesn’t mean a thing in this case.”

      “A new lesson on a bitterly cold day.” Clare added as everyone sipped their coffee and took a rest while the storm howled outside and most of their work from the morning got undone again.

      30 long hard hours later and as Clare looked out at the sun starting to peak through the clouds she turned to see people laying in various positions on or around the tables in the cafeteria where they were resting.

      These kids did everything they got asked and more, the hospital had already called saying they were doing great and one young mother might be naming her new son after someone, and she laughed as silently as she could.

      There were going to be a few Commendations she knew that for sure, and Letters of Appreciation too from the many departments they rushed to help. These would go on their permanent files and some big corporation later on will see these and know this person could be trusted when the chips were down.

      She was never more happy and proud to be the Dean of the school than she was today, and she tried really hard not to make a sound to wake them as she walked into the other room to have a short cry.

      A few minutes later and as she wiped her red cheeks with her handkerchief sounds started coming from the other room, and she walked back out to see some waking up and yawning and one or two still sawing logs noisily a few chairs away.

      “Shhh...” She heard and one girl pointed and Clare looked too to see Stan sleeping away, and Sherry right beside him holding his hand all smiles and snoring like a lumberjack as many fought to keep from laughing out loud.

      “Alright everyone time to get up!” Clare said loudly and people jumped up looking for what to do next, and as Sherry opened her eyes she saw the scene others had been watching and she quickly withdrew her hand before Stan woke up and noticed it. “You all did great work and the storms over...so everyone get back home and get a hot bath and some rest. No school for today but I expect to see everyone in class tomorrow!” She said as many laughed and agree and one by one they left and when the last one was gone she took Stan’s hand and they were home a second later and he thanked her and went back to bed and she smiled thinking that he’d be surprised when his classmates tease him about holding Sherries hand while he slept...like he had anything to do with it anyways.

      But it was in good fun, so she said nothing and left him find out himself. And when he did he just laughed saying that in his sleep he rolled around a lot so he was impressed he didn’t fall off the chair, and many laughed right along with him.

      But a few young ladies thought maybe this was a step too far for a young lady that they personally saw as inferior. The word came down from others that Sherry was not worthy, or capable, of making Stan happy and that only a select few in their town even had a tiny hope of becoming family members of such a well respected family as his.

      Of course Sherry didn’t plan that anyways it was all a misunderstanding, but hearing it right out loud did upset her, like it would anyone, and she looked pretty sad walking away as one well built red head laughed after telling her that she didn’t have a chance against the truly worthy in the school.

      “That was mean Char...” Her friends mentioned as she went on about how someone so short in family history could even think such a thing, and that she knew for a fact that Stan’s parents had very high hopes for him in the future, and after years of work as some high paid official or something then he’d become the Dean at this very school...and only someone of high caliber and good breeding...like herself... could hope to stand by his side through all that.

      “That might be so...” She heard from someone nearby,” but at least she’s met him face to face and spent a day and a half working side by side with him during the storm. Tell me Charlotte...where were you when that all happened?” And then they walked away while she was left stammering for some excuse.

      “Storm cleanup..like my Family would allow me to do things like that!” She declared and her friends felt bad for her. Her dad bragged about her constantly and after all these years it went right to her head. Now things were getting out of hand, and she was looking at a really hard letdown when it finally happened, but they tried to tell her not to go on and on like that, but she wouldn’t listen, and so they followed her around waiting for that day when she would finally see she couldn’t walk on water or fly like the Angel her father thought she was.

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      Chapter 7: First Up..Old Customs Meet Modern Ways

      Clare was working away in her office a few days later when a sealed message came and she looked odd as it got handed to her by her secretary. She turned it over and looked at a Family Crest on the back and she wondered why they sent something like this. It was terribly old fashioned, but she opened it and read the message and after a chuckle crumbled it up and tossed it away.

      “Some people..” She whispered but she had a big smile and when she got home that night Steve got that same smile when he heard the report.

      “Faster than we thought.” he remarked as she agreed, but Nature users were a rare breed known to many for centuries. Presidents, King and Queens world wide sought them out as advisors and even body guards, but to keep their numbers going in times past families would get together and match up their children well before they reached puberty. But that was just old fashioned as far as Clare was concerned, and Stanley was more than capable of finding someone for himself she was sure... so the Marriage Meeting was politely refused... to the surprise of the Family offering it.

      But around the school it wasn’t easily forgotten, as Charlotte and her friends were seen going on and on about the ‘terribly high standards’ of the Hemming Family and how they didn’t know anyone that could match those even here.

      But it was also known that she had orchestrated it all from behind the scenes to stop others from approaching Stanley... and failed...and so her feelings were more than a little hurt.

      Stan himself got asked about it but he knew nothing, and that made it worse since that meant his parents did everything on his end and he never had a chance to agree or not. That seemed like Charlotte’s best hope, so after classes one day she and her posy were waiting as he walked out laughing with some friends and she stepped forward and introduced herself to him personally, and he thanked her and shook her hand with a big smile.

      “I’m the one that my Family sent the Marriage Meeting about.” Char announced loudly, as many around stopped to hear.” It seems your parents didn’t think I was suitable for you so I thought I’d ask you myself.” She went on as Stan looked surprised she was this forward, and the faces of her friends looked like a mass apology, and he just chuckled to himself.

      “My families history is second only to yours, and my Father and Mother are strong Nature users as well. I have to say that compared to many here I think my looks stack up pretty well, and my physical condition is second to none, I assure you!” She went, on raving away, as many around them looked away to keep from laughing in her face.

      “Hmm... really?” Stanley said softly giving her a really serious looking over, and she even did the whole 360 degree turn thing so he got the best look possible, as many nearby either burst out laughing or took some pictures for future reference. “ So...honestly..what do you think of yourself compared to everyone else... say..in my class?” he baited, and away she went again saying her abilities...all of them...were far beyond reproach and that no one in his class had the slightest chance of besting her in anything, and he finally burst into laughter himself, as her friends finally took a deep breath and looked away. Here it came, they were sure.

      “Charlotte was it? Well Charlotte I must say you have a very high opinion of yourself. But is it centered in Reality...hmm lets see.” he started as she stopped dead and looked faint.” You say you’re highly skilled, but I’ve been on two excursions for the school already and I haven’t seen you at any one of them. I serve the town and school while you seem to serve yourself and your Family. You are attractive and good looking, that I give you, but you should lean more on your looks and less on your attitude.” He said as many burst into laughter and she looked like she’d scream any second.

      “My opinion? You have what it takes to be a fine model..maybe a beauty pageant winner...but not a member of my Family. I like girls that aren’t afraid to work hard helping others... and think a little less of themselves.” he remarked and gave her a wave and walked away, as her face was beet red and her mouth was hanging open way to wide.

      “We tried to tell you...” She heard and even her friends went home for the night and she ran home to tell her daddy how this young man embarrassed her in front of the whole school...if it was true or not.

      The call they knew was coming came in around 5 and a large car pulled in out front about half an hour later. Charlotte, her mother and father came in and sat down in the living room while Steve, Stan and Clare tried their best to smile and listen to their rants.

      If any of this was to be believed, Stanley had a PA system running, trapped poor Charlotte in the parking lot and embarrassed her in front of the entire student body..and Clare did her best not to laugh in their faces as Stan openly called it all BS, and her dad looked ready to slap him.

      “The only person who raised their voice was her..” Stan demanded as Charlotte got her nose up and refused to even speak as long as her father was doing it for her. “She claims a strong Natural skill, but she doesn’t seem to use it outside of class. She says she’s the best at EVRYTHING...but being a respectful young man... I didn’t demand she prove it on the spot!” he went on as even her dads face got red.

      “Another thing...” he started as Clare grabbed him by the shoulder and slapped him down on the end of the sofa in a second flat.

      “Sit was listen.” She said, as she got to her feet and Steve looked away knowing what was coming.

      “I personally threw the Marriage Meeting proposal away, knowing full well Stanley would refuse it anyways. Your daughter has the biggest....opinion...of herself I have personally ever seen! And I give full credit for that to you two.” She said pointing as Charlotte’s mom looked faint.

      “Charlotte is a Fire user, so tell me Charlotte what will you do to support yourself after graduation? Will you serve the Community, the Nation , even the World or are you planning on making your living on your back? Pumping out babies for your Family?” Clare was getting pretty loud by now and Steve was trying to slow her down a bit.

      “My son was approached AFTER I refused you and your Family. Now you dare come here demanding from US!! How dare you! If she had been taught that her looks were fine but she needed some respect for others I don’t doubt Stan would have chosen her himself. But now thats a sad dream. You’ll need to find a man for her that can put up with being told he and his Family are second to yours...but I dont see that happening around here.” she was screaming now and they jumped up and ran from the house as Steve held her back from going after them.

      “Alright mom!” Stan chipped in as she spun around and sent him to his room , and he went, chuckling the whole way.

      “Damn ego maniacs...” She said, and she was still pretty loud, but Steve gave her a big hug and she slowly calmed down.

      “They wont be back..” he hinted as she finally just hugged him back and said this was one part of this area she didn’t miss, the old fashioned people with big attitudes, and he agreed and they both sat back and tried to relax for the rest of the night.

      Chapter 8: Saving a Family...Stripping away the Paint to find the Luster Within

      On the way home Charlotte’s father went on and on about their disrespect of him and his family, and lawyers got mentioned and Charlotte was in denial that any of this was happening.

      They got out of the car and ran into the house and he was pacing up and down the floor in the living room while Gloria, his wife tried to settle him down.

      “I’ll sue, thats what I’ll do, if they think we’ll take this lying down they have another think coming!” He went on as Charlotte stepped in to try and stop him from making things worse.”Charlotte is the perfect daughter and will make the perfect wife, I’ve seen to that, and she wont be sold short by some pansie assed kid with no respect!” he screamed as Gloria’s eyes opened a bit and she asked him what he meant by that, and he only then started slowing down a bit wondering what he had screamed this time without thinking.

      “It’s OK mom dont worry dad was always very careful.” Charlotte jumped in as her fathers face went white and Gloria’s jumped into the dangerous red zone.

      “Very careful how?” She asked softly and Charlotte told her all about how her dad demanded she knew how to take proper care of a man when the time came and so he gave her lessons to make sure she knew what would be expected of her...and Gloria looked shocked , angry and sad beyond belief now as John tried his best to both shut Charlotte up and declare everything a lie.

      “All these years, you’ve had little affection for me, and I knew there were others.” Gloria started , getting louder every second. “ But your own daughter? In the name of education... how could you!?” She demanded as he got his nose up and said that their family name was at stake and she was twice the woman now that her mother had ever been, or maybe he wouldn’t have needed to leave the house to get satisfied.

      By now Charlotte was sad, embarrassed and worried but her mom was beyond all that. She grabbed the first thing she could reach, a snow globe from the coffee table, and proceeded to knock him down, break his nose and blacken both eyes before Charlotte pulled her off of him, as he lay there on the sofa whining in pain.

      “You’re no longer welcome here get out before I kill you!” She screamed and he got to his feet and ran out the door and by the time the week was over, Gloria had a lawyer, her husband an apartment, and Charlotte was sure she was starting on an ulcer as the word got out around the school about what happened.

      The response ran from sadness to outright hatred. Charlotte got a lot of encouragement from ehr friends and even others that found out and they reminded her that none of this was her fault, and she appreciated their words even though she wasn’t sure it wasn’t true.

      “If I had known what was going on wasn’t right I could have refused.” She said but he was her father, and without anyone else knowing she had done as he asked.

      “He’s a ignorant *******, and don’t give him a second thought.” She got told and she felt badly that her family was falling apart right before her eyes.

      Clare heard too and even she was looking pretty bad about it. It all came out because of their fight, and she had no idea any of this was going on of course, but everyone did now. John was still living in town but the word got out and some mentioned that had never really liked him, while others outright refused him work now that his true nature was visible to the world.

      He was used to the finer things in life, but after Gloria was done with him he’d have to work a lot harder to get them, and no one felt bad for him about it either.

      But Clare was more worried about Charlotte and she saw her friends holding her hand and trying to help her get over it, and she was glad they were there at a time like this and just watched from the shadows to make sure she’d be alright.

      And as days became weeks Spring arrived and warmer weather again, and everyone looked a lot happier to see it, and things started getting back to normal for everyone, and Clare was glad to see it.

      Summer vacation was right around the corner, and as some time off was headed their way the kids started planning their vacations, and time at their hobbies like fishing or the beach were talked about, and Stan was right there now with a new set of friends he had made since coming back here and she was glad he got over the surprise so quickly, and his teachers were more than happy with his progress.

      So they all hoped that the past stayed that way and that their futures were better all around, and the school closed for the summer and everyone ran out to enjoy themselves until the Fall semester came around again.

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      Chapter 9: Shining like the Son

      Stan might have hoped for several months of free time and happiness, but that just wasn’t going to happen. At least not the way he hoped. He went out on a fishing boat with 2 other guys from school for a day and came home with some nice fish for dinner too, but a few days later he was moving along in a dark tunnel with barely enough room to sit and ride in an electric cart, going back a shaft into a mountain. It was dark and dusty but him and his father and some mine foreman were there to see if they had made a wrong turn, since their mining operations were showing less ore than expected.

      It was a sort of ‘take your kid to work’ day for Stan who also had some Earth skills like his father,but they weren’t his best. But his dad decided that seeing the real work would help him later on, and being in on a job would give him experience that he would need later too, and look good on his work files.

      “Do you feel it?” His dad whispered as Stan nodded slowly as the cart moved along and from time to time he felt like the very air around him was more dense or heavier somehow, and his dad said they were traveling slowly along an old mine shaft and that heavy feeling was the little seams of ore they were traveling through.
      “The ore is a heavier substance than the rock so when you travel along like this the rock becomes less noticeable like air outside, but when you get close to an ore deposit you feel heavier thats the path they need to follow.” He explained as Stan nodded and tried his best to search for that heavy feeling and they came to a T in the shaft and they stopped and Steve rolled out and walked over to test the one shaft then the other, as Stan crawled out and followed him.

      It was clear that the left side had a heavier feel as Stan mentioned and his dad agreed, but something else got Stan’s attention. The other tunnel, so short you could see the end, had a different feel and Stan walked that way as Steve told the foreman that the left side was better, and he thanked him. But then he saw Stan walking the other way and he asked what he was looking for.
      “Something’s weird here...” Stan mentioned but his dad said he didn’t feel anything but they turned and went that way too.” I’m new at this... so I’m looking for anything different. You know just what you’re looking for so thats all your doing right now.” Stan added and his dad agreed that he was here looking for ore deposits today.

      Stan stopped by the right wall and his light shown brightly on what looked like a tiny bit of water dripping in, and he smelled it and didn’t smell at all, but as he reached out and touched it his hand got cold and he said that they must have hit a spring because the water was really cold and turned his hand to show his dad but it was completely dry already.

      “Wait..step back..” Steve added and Stan did and Steve pulled out a detector and when he started it the needle went almost to the end as his eyes popped.” We need to get out here..right now!” he said dragging Steve back with him and they got into the cart and reversed and went as quickly as they could back the way they came.

      “What is it?” The foreman asked as Steve told him that Stan detected a Natural Gas leak coming into the test shaft and as it built up it would almost certainly cause an explosion from the first flame or spark that hit it. “****! I’ll warn everyone to test then..” He said and called back to the office and the word got sent out telling everyone that Gas was in the test shaft and when they got back to the surface Steve got a big pat on the back for finding it before something bad happened. But he waved it away saying that it was Stan that found it, he was busy looking for ore deposits so he missed it completely.

      “ Big bonus for you then..” He got told and Stan got a nice speech about coming to them for work when he graduated and he thanked then for saying so, but on the way home he mentioned that crawling around in mines might not be his favorite plan, and his dad laughed.

      “Its a few hours a week. There are dozens of mines all over that need help, and like today finding something they didn’t know existed got us paid a big bonus.” he explained as Stan nodded he understood. “Working people like restaurant workers or fast food get paid minimum wage most times, but what we made today would be 6 months pay for them.” he explained and Stan saw that having special skills would help him survive pretty well, as his dad agreed.

      “Remember that feeling...the one when you said that something weird was going on...as you get more experienced those feelings will point you, and your employers, to places to drill or mine, so you get a finders fee and 5-10% of the mines profits.” Steve added softly and Stanley suddenly realized that his dad had been doing this for many years and that even 5% of a mine was not chicken feed, as his dad just smiled and gave him a nice wink as they pulled into the drive.

      Steve told Clare all about their day together and that Stan got an offer of work after he graduated and she seemed pretty happy with that.

      “After being in one he decided he doesn’t like mines...they’re too dirty.” Steve added as she gave Stan a dirty look and whispered ‘oh poor baby’ and he growled back at her.

      “I at least like to stand up not try to walk all belt over.” he admitted and they all got a chuckle at that.

      “I decided since he did pretty well I’ll give the bonus to him...” Steve added as Stan looked impressed.” Only a year left and he’ll be out on his own making a living, and he doesn’t even own a vehicle of his own yet.” He went on as Clare got a big grin, since Stanley got some extra cash...and an order what to spend it on at the same time.

      Chapter 10: Shopping for the Future

      Stan checked his account knowing full well that what he had wouldn’t get him anything new. Hell even good used with low milage was expensive as Hell, but his dad was right, he needed something to get him started at least. So after walking through half a dozen used car lots he was standing at the local garage as the man checked over the vehicle he was thinking of buying.

      “It needs brakes replaced, and a new exhaust system.” The mechanic said as the salesman looked sad that he got a kid that knew enough to check before buying. “The body and frame look good though and the engine needs an oil change but nothing major.” Was the official decision, and Stan asked the salesman what he needed for it... right in front of the mechanic... who seemed interested as well.

      “Umm, we’re asking 8000.” He mentioned as he heard a soft ‘pfft’ behind him as the mechanic lowered the vehicle back to the ground.

      “With over a hundred thousands miles on it?” Stan asked and looked sad as the man thought about it and then mentioned that since it was his first vehicle maybe there was some room to negotiate.

      “ 7000...” he returned as Stan waved for him to get in saying he’d drive him back to the lot. “That’s not bad for a 4x4 in nice condition.” the salesman added as they drove along.

      Stan had seen his first New England winter, and even though he could...technically...fly, he would need this to help get at least a few jobs before he thought of anything else.

      “So you want 7000 and I still need to get a thousand in work done on it?” Stan asked as they pulled right back into the same spot in the line they left, and the salesman noticed.

      “ 6500 and we’ll have a few of the repairs done right here..” he offered as Stan saw him sweating a bit.

      “Free of charge?” Stan asked as the man looked unsure, but added that he would see to a new exhaust system if Stan paid for the parts to fix the brakes.

      “And a free inspection making it street legal for a year!” he heard as the man seemed to have gotten a little more energy again.

      “ 6000 and you do a free exhaust and I’ll pay for the brakes, and you give me a free inspection.” Stan returned and the man agreed, and in a week Stan had a medium sized blue SUV sitting at his parents house as his friends nodded approval.

      “My dad’s been hinting that I’ll need one for work...real soon.” Stan mentioned as they sat eating at the local Burger King.

      “Yep..we’re all hearing that by now. Only a year until graduation... but many of us have one or more companies watching for us now.” One friend mentioned, as Stan agreed he had one so far.

      “You’ll get a nice insulated jacket with the schools emblem on it for graduation.” Got mentioned and Stan admitted he got measured for that already.” That emblem is known world wide, so just seeing it gets you work where many wouldn’t have a chance.” he heard as they all smiled.

      “Hemming graduates don’t starve.” Stan mentioned softly as many all over the restaurant smiled and nodded he was right.

      “Heard you got a vehicle...” he heard, as he turned to see Sherry and two of her friends sitting a booth over and he smiled and agreed. “make sure it has a good heater, and keep a blanket or two in the back seat.” She hinted as one of her friends whispered ‘why do you care..’and she got embarrassed saying that she had worked with Stan before and she wouldn’t want to see him freeze to death on a job.

      “Maybe he needs a Fire user along for warmth.” Some one whispered as Sherry looked around looking for who said that but no one would admit to it.

      “Now you’re just being crude.” She said loudly, as Stan’s friend elbowed him and he just sat there smiling and eating his fries.

      “Line up Sherry, Stan’s got a few girls after him already.” Frank mentioned as Sherry made sure she mentioned that she wasn’t ‘after anyone’ but she was just worried about a friend.

      “And I appreciate it.” Stan said, and gave her a big thumbs up and she smiled and got quiet again.

      “This is your chance...” Her friend whispered into her ear, and Sherry just pushed her away and said nothing.

      But even that comment didn’t go unnoticed as they walked out into the parking lot and one friend mentioned that ‘that was pretty obvious’ as Stan stopped him on the spot and said that he wasn’t planning on dating until he graduated and had a place of his own, and Frank laughed and said that ‘you’re way to serious’ and Stan agreed and went home.

      But when he walked in he found a message from the company that he and his dad had worked for before. They wanted to give him a chance and asked him to do some prospecting for them, and after some thought he agreed, and made that call and got a map sent to his phone so he had some idea where they wanted checked, and Clare got a big grin that he hadn’t even graduated yet, but his new career was already starting to grow.

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      Chapter 11: First Chance

      Stanley was getting gas in his vehicle when some friends saw him and walked over, waving.

      “Going somewhere or just out for a spin?” he got asked as he laughed and said that because he helped his dad once now he got a call to do some prospecting for the company.

      “Where to?” They asked and he checked his map and said it wasn’t far..just over near Pleasant Mountain, only a little more to the East.

      “They sent me a map so its not that far for a drive should be out and back today.” Stan added and many agreed. If he couldn’t find anything in 12 hours then there probably wasn’t anything there.

      “Well have fun...” He heard and he waved and finished topping off his tank and then set his GPS on his phone and started out of town.

      He drove for more than an hour, looking for side roads to get him as close as possible to the area he was to search. He finally parked on a back road, locked it up and when he was sure he was alone called on his friends and got a free lift there.

      “We haven’t heard from you in a while.” Cora said sitting on his shoulder as he drifted over some fields and got close to the area he was supposed to search.

      “I’m ready to graduate soon so things like this will happen more often. Today I’m going to do a search for a mining company. So I’m going to do some prospecting.” he mentioned as his map showed he was there and below him was some grassy fields and some rugged looking rocks forming a ridge line or something and he drifted down and stood on top of that and began trying to sense anything.

      At first there was nothing, but he remembered his training and so he sat down and concentrated with his eyes closed, forming a circle in his mind with him at the center. Then slowly he expanded it and after a few tries it got a little easier. Now he saw the circle in the back of his mind and as everything around him was blank he slowly swung the shape into oblong then round then other shapes to reach out further but to no avail, so he got up and walked a hundred yards further and did it again.

      He did this for a few hours and sat there having a drink from the canteen he brought and trying to see where he went wrong. Obviously they knew something was here or they wouldn’t send him, but where? So he went further along the ridge and after a good walk sat down and tried again. This time there was something... some...warm feeling spot...to his left and out to the maximum of his reach. In his mind it looked softly orange and had a warm feeling, so he got up and went that way and after a few more tries he was standing right along the edge of it and he could easily feel the denseness of it, and when he walked further it only got more, and he knew it wasn’t a small place at all, so he stood there and made the call and when they got the GPS info from his phone they had a drill team on the way before he got back to the car.

      “Well done!Get back home, we’ll take it from here.” He heard and flew back and in less than an hour he was on his way home again. By the time he got there he walked in just in time for dinner and his mom reminded him to call if he was ever going to be late, or out all night, and he agreed and they sat and ate and he told them about his first job and what he found and his dad looked happy for him and asked why ‘warm’? And Stan just shrugged saying thats the way it felt to him, and they waited for the official report that he’d get in the mail with his payment, and settlement from what he found.

      The official contract came a week later... 5% of everything the well brought in... and his dad agreed it was pretty standard, so Stan signed it and sent it back to them.

      “Natural Gas well..” It said, and Steve laughed saying Stan had a skill that they needed in that area badly. He found Gas too... but not often... but Stan seemed tuned to it somehow and even though Earth skill wasn’t his best, it worked for him, and Stan agreed.

      6 months into his Senior Year things were going great for Stan. He started getting monthly income from that first well, and he started talking about getting his own place, and his mom and dad smiled wide and agreed. He started watching the fliers online about houses and cabins for sale, and went to see one that looked decent online in the pictures but had more leaks than a wicker basket, so he walked away from that one pretty fast.

      In their area there are lots of small lakes, so a young mans dream of a cabin by the lake wasn’t just a dream here. So he kept looking, as his last month of school was sneaking up on him, and a few friends made sure he knew that graduation wasn’t the end. Some might need a Team later on and a few mentioned that they knew his plans for dating, and they had waited patiently.

      So when Stan sent out his graduation cards for everyone, he made an effort to send a few special cards that said ‘see you at graduation..and maybe a few times after’ and he smiled and got it finished and then took a little break and got more serious about that place of his own.

      Chapter 12: House Hunting

      Every spare minute he was out now and when he got tired driving around looking he flew instead. It was faster and everyone in the area knew about the school and its graduates too. So no big deal...and he was flying around a lake maybe half an hours drive from home when he saw an old man sitting on a small rickety looking little dock fishing, and he landed in the forest a short distance away and walked over , waving and asking what fish there was to catch here, as the old man just smiled like it was no big deal and motioned for him to sit.

      “You fish?” He asked as Stan agreed, but said he never fished this particular lake before. “ Perch, bass, trout too, a few pickerel as well, so a pretty good assortment.” the old guy said and Stan just nodded and looked the place over. It had seen better times but this old man must be near 80 and he saw Stan looking around and smiled pretty wide.

      “This will be my last summer here.” He started, like they were old friends.” I lived here with my wife and my two kids, and now shes gone and they moved away. I get calls all the time saying I need to move into the city at my age, and after last winter I’m thinking they might be right.” he mentioned as Stan felt bad for him.

      “But I hate to just let the old place go, you know what I mean?” He hinted as Stan did agree he understood. “So then why are you out here on such a fine day?” he asked as Stan told him he was a new graduate and was looking for a quiet place to rest between jobs, and the old man nodded he understood and a second later a flame appeared on his hand and Stan knew that he knew EXACTLY what he meant.

      “How about you come inside a bit, I’ll offer you some coffee if your thirsty.” he said and wound up his pole and took his folding chair with him and they went inside. Stan just got a drink of cold water instead and they sat on old furniture that looked as old as the man, and Stan saw pictures on the wall of the man’s family and they talked a bit about how Stan was getting ready for the business... and then after a bit the old man sat back looking tired.

      “Want to buy an old house that needs a lot of fixing up?” he asked sadly as Stan said he didn’t want to take his home from him , and the man just smiled. “ As you can see doing nearly anything takes a lot out of me these days. “ I doubt I can live here another winter and survive, and since you are a Naturalist too you do understand that work is important, but home is the real treasure.” he added as Stan agreed and they talked a bit and Stan agreed to buy it and fix it up the way it was supposed to be, and the old man shook his hand and they went into town and did the paperwork, and Stan dropped him off at his daughters house and she thanked him for taking the old place because her dad wasn’t going to sell it to just anybody, and Stan felt a bit like crying but agreed he’d take good care of it and then he went home carrying his new deed to a run down old house and 5 acres of land at a lake nearby.

      The word got out pretty fast and on one Saturday Stan and half a dozen of his friends were out there looking around and getting it ready. The old guy got everything out he wanted, and Stan had a bonfire of old musty furniture that had rips and tears and stains from God knows what. Then he slowly got a few new pieces, and one guy went all over the roof checking things and it was surprisingly solid, and Stan took that as a blessing. Then a new layer of shingles and under one old rug was a nice hardwood floor and Stan took the time to sand it and give it a new coating of varnish and by the time Fall came the place was looking a lot better and Stan moved right in with all his things.

      He got it for a song, but it did need a lot of work, and even with Stanley saving everything he could get he was seeing his bank account looking pretty sad by now. He left his mom and dad know that he was looking for more work and Steve looked surprised he hadnt gotten any since that Gas well. But then Stan did agree he was pretty busy lately too and maybe he might have missed someone once or twice. So Stan sat down and went over all his back logs on his phone and finally his home computer and sure enough he missed a memo two weeks ago from another mining company that he hadnt worked with yet.

      He sent them a message saying he was out of town and waited and a couple days later his phone rang and he answered to hear a new person on the other end.

      “Stanley Hemming?” She asked and he agreed. “ Good, sorry we kissed you earlier. Our company just bought up a lot of old farms and estates and we need to know if there is anything thats of use to us. We have a few Naturalists that work for us part time but they have been pretty busy lately too.” She hinted as he agreed things had been hectic for some reason.

      “Our CEO is friends with the Coron Mining corporations Owner and he mentioned you did some work for him a few weeks ago, and so we wanted to ask if you had time to look over some of these old properties for us?” She asked and Stan agreed and she sent him a map showing 6 places they needed checked for anything he could find and he took the job and at dawn the next day he was flying that direction and landed in what looked like a large overgrown field full of weeds and bushes, and he sat right down and tried right there and found nothing and walked a short distance and again found nothing.

      He saw an old house in the distance and he stopped to see an old lady sitting n the porch in a rocker and he waved and asked if she owned the place thinking he might be on someone else’s land instead.

      “You live here?” he asked as she didn’t even look up but shook her head no instead.” Then why are you here?” he asked and the house behind her had the roof half fell in and windows missing and he was shocked someone was still around.

      “Ah to be young again...” She whispered as he tried his best to smile for her.” what you seek is over there, that way..we used it for many years and its yours now.” She hinted and didn’t even look at him and he tuned and walked maybe 50 yards and found a small pit, and when he stepped into it the one wall was all black and cold looking and he laid a hand on it and felt the denseness and cold and after that he felt it almost overwhelming him and he stepped out and saw the entire field before him had that feeling and turned to say something but the old lady was gone.

      He made the call to the 800 number they gave him and a man answered and asked what he had found and Stan gave him the GPS coordinates and said it was coal. lots of it, and the man was thrilled they didn’t buy another piece of trash land again.

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      Oh by the way...this is full Book Length so sit back and relax.

      Chapter 13: Work and Rewards

      After two days Stan had seen all 6 pieces of land. Only two had anything worth mentioning and the company was pretty happy with that. It seemed their legal department bought old tax properties and then used them as tax right offs, but if they found anything there they paid for themselves a dozen times over.

      In a week the papers came and Stan got paid by the ton for every bit of coal coming out of the companies new strip mine, and he again got a new well, this time oil on the last property he searched. Its wasn’t a big well but it was something, and his monthly income doubled in a few weeks and he was a lot happier after that.

      That also made another company that he had dealt with successfully, and they guaranteed they’d call him again, and he saw some steady work coming after that.

      He was sitting once again a few days later with some friends at their favorite burger joint talking, when he told them the story of the old lady who pointed him in the right direction, and a pair of girls at the table next to them grabbed each other and looked scared enough to run to the bathroom any second.

      “I would have screamed and ran away.” Got mentioned as Stan was very calm and said that ‘she was a nice old lady’ and that he had never seen or touched coal before, and even standing there looking at it he wasn’t sure he felt anything.

      “But once I reached out and touched it then it rushed into me, cold, dark, dense, and now I can feel it from yards and yards away.” he admitted as one man nodded he understood.

      “ A helpful Spirit...” he mentioned as Stan looked impressed.” Its not unknown but they are rare. You talk to Spirits all the time don’t you?” he asked as Stan admitted he had several Wind Spirits that he had a contract with that he spoke to a lot.

      “When Spirits see you as friendly, they will appear sometimes when they see you need help. This one saw he literally was standing on a find and didn’t know it, so she pointed you in the right direction, and now after that meeting you can sense coal where you never could before.” he mentioned as Stan admitted it was very much like that.

      “Don’t fear Spirits many are helpful and kind. But like Humans there are others, just smile and lot and be careful.” he said and took his order and left letting them think about what they had learned.

      “And I thought we learned it all in school.” Frank said softly and many others around him nodded it was true.

      “I think I understand...” Stan said all smiles,” we never stop learning, if we do then our time here is up.” he went on as many got a big smile and he just sat there eating his sandwich like he hadn’t said something important at all.

      “Listen to him...” Frank mentioned as many smiled,” 18 going on 80...” And he got a good laugh as even Stan joined in. “Sudden topic change!” Frank called, with a finger up as people chuckled.

      “Is there any good fishing out there by the new house?” he asked as Stan said there was.

      “Whoaaa...” They heard as the door opened and several girls came walking in.” What house?” And Stan took the time to tell them about the old house him and his friends fixed up during the summer and he lived there now, and some got a little chuckle and one asked if they were allowed to come see it sometime, and Stan agreed saying let him know when and bring a swim suit because he had the best spot for swimming now and it wouldn’t cost them a thing.

      “Count on it...” He heard and his friends finally saw Stan thinking about girls maybe for the first time.

      After a while he was back home smiling widely. He told everyone he was out here and alone, and invited people to come and visit. The first step in his plan towards a more normal life. No more hiding out and acting like a hermit, he finally felt he was ready to see more people and maybe find a nice girl to go out with.

      He was just thinking that when he looked up from his front porch to see a tall man dressed in a long coat and wearing a small almost ‘Stetson’ type hat walking up his lane and Stan didn’t recognize him at all. So he stood up and stepped out to meet him and the man gave him a bog smile and said: ‘Cora sent me’ and Stan was really shocked.

      “How do you know her?” he asked without telling who that really was.

      “May I sit?” he asked as Stan waved him to the porch and they sat there as the man looked around and smiled. “I am her Father, or should I say the Father of all her kind.” He said as Stan looked serious worried that someone of that caliber came to see him, and he wondered if he got in trouble somehow.

      “And who is this Cora you speak of?” Stan played dumb but the man got the biggest grin and said she was the little one with the blond hair that sat on his shoulder and flew him around on his jobs. And even though one other person, the teacher knew of her name no one else could see her especially when they were working.

      “I am honored you keep her secret so well, she was right to trust you.” he added as Stan finally saw that maybe this man was who he said he was.

      “Before I admit to anything you will have to prove what you say...” Stan added stubbornly as the man waved his hand and the lake split in two just like in the Bible and he held it there as Stan could see fish swimming up and looking out at the hole down the center, then he slowly closed it and the lake was as calm as before.
      “So to what do I deserve this great Honor?” Stan asked as the man told hims tories of Spirits and Humans, from time gone by. Humans who used and abused their Spirit workers and a few who fell in love and gave up their Immortality for a short but happy romance.

      “Cora is more than a little smitten with you...if she should ever offer you must turn her down firmly but softly. It is not impossible for Spirits and Humans to cohabitate but they are nothing more than Immortal beings which were once very much like you are now. Those feelings, those instincts are still within them, and may cause trouble for them from time to time.” he said as Stanley looked shocked.

      “I had no idea...” he stuttered as the man nodded he knew.

      “Then this talk was necessary...remember what I said and when the time comes..if it ever does, let her down carefully for she is truly a young woman even thought you might not think so.” he offered as Stan was still in shock and said that even from the size difference alone... and the big man laughed out loud.

      “And you call yourself a Spirit Master...” The man said chuckling along as Stan reminded him he never called himself that once. “ You think that tiny image she shows is all there is? She alone is powerful enough to lift you and fly across the country, her and 6 others could tear this house to the ground in an instant, so she or they can look anyway they choose, so don’t be too surprised when she finally shows you.” he said... chuckling something about children... and started walking away.

      “And what is your name, so I might tell her you were here?” Stanley asked and caught himself knowing that someo0ne so powerful wouldnt give it to him.

      “I see why she likes you, you are honest and kind, just remember what I said and remember that I’ll be watching you.” And he took a step and just disappeared into thin air and Stan got a huge grin that someone as powerful took the time to greet him personally and he thanked him for coming and went inside to finally get some dinner.

      And a small breeze fluttered by the house and Cora gave her mentor a serious look while he smiled way too wide for her.

      “I would have told him all that eventually.” She hinted as he shook his finger at her saying that this one might be different from many others, but she should still be very careful, and the wind died down and waited for another time.

      Chapter 14: Mom always said: “Don’t be too good to ask for advise”.

      The next day when Clare stopped working for lunch a knock came at her office door and when it opened Stanley walked in and she looked surprised.

      “So what brings you here? Dont have a girlfriend for me to meet yet do you?” She teased as he gave her a big smile and sat down and she waited for him to speak.

      “I had a visitor at the house yesterday evening.” he started as she nodded and waited.” He knew all about my contract with the wind and the name of my Spirit. He said he was her Father the Father of all Wind Spirits.” he said as she jumped up and slammed the door behind him and locked it and then stood there leaning on her desk and looking very upset.

      “What did you do!!?” She demanded as he declared that he didn’t do anything, and she looked less than sure of that.

      “He was a nice guy, we talked a while he told me that being a Spirit Master I have to be careful and not let feelings get hurt. He even said that ...she...might have a bit of a crush on me so he wanted to warn me and ask me to let her down gently if she mentions it.” he added as she looked more than a little impressed.

      “My God...” She finally spoke as Stan sat waiting for her to talk again.” My son couldn’t get a girlfriend for 18 years and now a Wind Spirit has a crush on him...maybe its just Human Females..” She whispered as Stan gave a deep growl as she looked away smiling.

      “The Father of all Wind Spirits you say? In Human form?” She finally asked as he agreed.

      “I mentioned...in a state of shock I might add...that she is only like 4 inches tall, so this all seemed silly to me. But he laughed out loud and said she can be anything she wants, and I better be careful. He went on to give me a lesson in Spirit Power, saying she alone could fly me across the US or that 6 of her friends could squash my house in an instant. I knew Spirits were powerful but even my imagination wasn’t that serious.” he admitted, as she nodded that many didn’t understand what a contract could turn out to be.

      “You surprised me that day during the storm when you asked why we didn’t just ask them to stop.” Clare mentioned as he admitted he remembered.” No one has ever tried to change the weather using Spirits, not in all recorded History. So imagine my surprise when it seemed like such an obvious choice for you?” She added as he had to think seriously about that.

      “But I didn’t do it.” he reminded her and she demanded that he never try, saying that these cycles of weather were needed for trees to grow and crops and for the fish and animals, they grew used to this over thousands of years, so changing anything like that would have huge consequences through out Time.

      “I need to be more careful... I know that... so I will never do something like that.” Stan added seriously as she finally nodded he understood.” When he walked away I asked him for his name...you know like you would anyone... and he just laughed and said I was ‘interesting’ and disappeared.” Stanley add and looked up to see his moms face...pure white... and he asked..what? and she nearly strangled him for his stupidity.

      “A Senior Spirit came to you and gave you a lesson in Spirit Handling and another in Spirit Power and you asked HIM for his name too??” She screamed, as Stan looked embarrassed saying that he didn’t know what to call him and so he asked. “ He didn’t tell you did he?” She asked looking out of the corner of her eyes as Stan burst into laughter.

      “Hell no...” He said as she finally breathed again. “But I kind of liked him, he was everything you think about when you think ‘a good dad’ “ Stan said as she looked impressed with his denseness.

      “I kind of would like to talk to him again, you know like friends.” he went on all smiles, as Clare bumped her head against the wall a few times whispering that she wished anyone but him got these chances, and Stan still didn’t get it even after he got up and left.

      Clare had never seen this Spirit even though Wind was her specialty, and she called in the teacher that gave Stan his first lesson and he looked too shocked to speak too.

      “The Father of all Wind...and he called Stanley a Master? Thats like....” he stopped looking for words, “Beyond College level Summoning... beyond anything I know of.” he finally got out as Clare sat back looking surprised.

      “Maybe its the Family History coming out in him?” he asked as Clare just shrugged saying ‘Dont look at me’ and they sat there trying to see what might happen next.

      “He’s obviously using his Spirit often for them to get so close, has he begun working using any other powers?” he asked and her eyes popped open and she said ‘Earth Spirits’ and he waved to the phone and another teacher came running in.

      “Earth is his third ability right?” The teacher asked and Clare admitted it was,” And he’s not using Fire? Thats his second.” he reminded her as she just shrugged saying she didn’t see him ever using it, and they all looked thoughtful.

      “A Senior Spirit...” he whispered and finally the Fire teacher said ‘Yes! he did!’ and they all looked at him oddly. “ I heard him talking to his friends about going on a job and seeing an old woman sitting by a wrecked house. She spoke to him and motioned him towards an old pit where the people from times past dug coal, and though he never could sense Coal before, after standing there looking at it and touching it he said he could now, and when he went to thank her she was gone.” he added as Clare was sitting now hiding behind her hands and whispering things better left unsaid and everyone looked away.

      “I’ve never heard anything about this!” She declared as the man nodded saying he wouldn’t have known either but he was in the burger joint getting lunch, and Stan was telling all his friends about her.

      “He wasn’t shaken up a bit...he said ‘she was a nice old lady’ and he thanked her for showing him how to detect coal.” he added as Clare nodded and said only her son, dense as a post, could speak freely to Major Spirits like they were normal people and never mention it again.

      “That’s it!” The Fire Teacher explained as Clare asked what he was screaming about.” A Spirit Master. If she was a Senior Spirit too...then thats 2 he’s met... and I never met a single one outside of my contract.” he mentioned as Clare admitted she never did either. “ Maybe being dense has its advantages.” he whispered as everyone there looked too shocked to speak.

      “Two out of 5...” Got mentioned, as another teacher walked in looking impressed.” I think we need to talk to our most recent graduate.” he said, and Clare called to have Stanley come back in again.

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      Chapter 15: Me...Master?... No Way!

      Stan was in her office the next day surrounded by teachers and specialists from other schools. He asked what was so important, and his mom gave him ‘the look of Death’ and asked why he never told her he was talking to more Spirits...and he asked her if that wasn’t normal for Naturalists since talking to Spirits was how you got contracts or help you when you needed it.

      “Thats true,” one teacher added ,” but it seems you have spoken to higher level Spirits lately and believe me son thats not normal at all!” He stated as Clare agreed.

      “Why not? First of all I didn’t call him or the old lady, they appeared before me with information I lacked. He gave me a special lesson about the level of Power my Wind Spirit and her friends have, saying I didn’t understand what Power I controlled, and I told him it was true that they were far more powerful than I had imagined, but I still wouldn’t abuse them for my own needs.” he explained as many there agreed he probably said the right thing.

      “They were both nice people and didn’t do or say anything to harm me. I don’t think it was strange at all..maybe thats why they spoke to me... because I treat them as friends, equals, and you don’t.” he mentioned as he was quickly told that they were NOT equals and that Humans were hundreds or thousands of years behind Spirits in Evolution, and he still looked like it was no big deal.

      “You just don’t get it...” His mom added as Stanley left out a long sigh and said he was doing fine... THEY were the ones who don’t get it.

      “Could someone give me a hand here,please?” he called and a second later Cora appeared standing by his side, full Human sized and looking upset.

      “Stop tormenting my Master!” She declared, and the entire building shook for a second and Stan asked her not to hurt anyone, and she looked happy he even spoke to her.

      “By the way...thats a good look for you.” Stan mentioned, and her anger dropped away and she stood there with one hand on his shoulder giving dirty looks to everyone, who looked at a loss for what to say.

      “You’re his contracted Spirit then?” She got asked and she agreed, saying she was the First and many more would...and were willing...to follow.

      “He can call on me any time, and through me hundreds, thousands more. There is nothing we wont do to help him.” She stated, as teachers around the room stepped back to think.

      “We all understand contracts, we all have at least one.” Clare added as Cora agreed they had.

      “But how often do you talk to your Spirits? Do you treat them as equals and friends or as some oddity that you just happen to find?” Cora asked as Stan asked her...softly...not to get upset, and she smiled and settled right down.

      “As Stanley’s friend I will always come when he calls. I will serve him as a Contracted Spirit and a friend and when he is in trouble... I would fight the World for him!” She exclaimed as everyone looked shocked beyond reason.

      “Now who’s being the bully?” Stan whispered, as she apologized for her out burst, and everyone thanked her for it.

      “You’re the one your Father mentioned to him, the young Spirit that has a bit of a crush on him arent you?” Clare asked all smiles as Cora’s face got really red.

      “My Father misunderstood thats all. I care for Stanley as a friend, nothing else.” She added but her face wasn’t as sure as her words.

      “Is your Father around? They might like to meet him.” Stanley added, as everyone looked faint, and Cora laughed saying he was ALWAYS around but he was also a bit of a hermit, and the door opened behind them and in walked the tall man with the coat and hat and Stan stood up and walked over and shook his hand and thanked him for the lessons saying he learned a lot, and the big man smiled and said that he wasn’t getting taught correctly here so it was necessary...and even though Clare looked like she might scream at that... she sat back as silently as everyone else for now.

      “This is the Father of all Wind Spirits, I’m going to call him Phil, because I really don’t want to know his real name.” Stan added as he and Cora got a good laugh, and the tall man smiled but didn’t say anything, as Stan introduced his mom and all the teachers there and many got to shake hands with a Senior Spirit for the very first time today.

      “To answer all your questions, when Stanley came to this town there was something about him that peaked our attention. My daughter rushed to his side and offered her help and he graciously accepted. I started watching more closely about that time, and even after I told him what incredible power he could possess if he wanted, he waved it away as unimportant. That is the sign of a truly good man. One who knows he has tremendous power...and doesn’t care. He will never hurt my people or yours it just isnt in him, and thats why I spoke to him and came today when he asked...ASKED...” he repeated loudly, “not demanded.” The man said, as many there looked too shocked to speak.

      “If you have any other questions now might be the right time, he’s a very busy man.” Stanley mentioned, as the man got the biggest smile and tapped him on the shoulder on the way out and Cora went with him and the room was still silent for a long minute after that.

      “I take it this means I can go now?” Stan asked, and when no one said anything he too walked out.

      They sat there looking at each other for a few minutes and finally one man started writing down everything he heard up until now and the other teachers started talking about changing their curriculum to suit, and Clare sat there looking at the door for a minute then tears started down her cheeks and she smiled and whispered...’that was my son...the Spirit Master...’ and many looked happy for her and nodded... and one by one they left to spread the word.

      Chapter 16: The Unwitting Master

      After everything that had happened Stan decided that he was taking some time off. He left messages for many of his friends saying that he was going to have a swimming party, and there would be a cookout too on Saturday, and many said they’d come.

      So Saturday morning he got out his big charcoal cooker and set it up by the little pier. Then a large folding table and a cloth on it and finally some folding chairs and he looked around thinking that he was at least partially set up.

      He got a big bag of charcoal and dumped a bunch in and then a long nosed lighter and gave it a chick and it lit and he reached in and...it went out..so he tried again and while he held it upright it stayed lit but when he laid it on its side to reach in, it quit and after a few tries he was getting upset, when suddenly he heard a soft laughing sound and he looked around and asked if Cora wasn’t messing with him today.

      “Check the charcoal..” he heard and he looked and saw nothing but as he got closer there was a tiny man sitting on top laughing himself silly. Stan smiled and asked if he was a Fire Spirit then and the tiny thing became a full sized man and stood there with his hand out and Stan shook it.

      “I cant believe they left you graduate without having a Fire Contract, it’s your second most powerful skill after all.” It said and Stan reminded him that Fire was a serious threat but seldom would he get called to make a living from it, and the man looked sad he didn’t know what he was saying.

      “You think firefighters couldn’t use some serious help from a Naturalist? They call people like you from all over the globe when forest fires break out. Why just last Spring California had thousands and on the fire line, and every Fire Master they could call to help protect towns in the path of the fire.” It mentioned, as Stan admitted he didn’t think of that.

      “When it comes to fighting fire only fire can do the job right!” The young man said as Stan chuckled that he was pushing himself to look good.

      “I take exception to that statement...” They heard as a ball of water about a foot across dropped on him and he coughed and sputtered and looked around saying ‘that wasn’t funny’ and Stan just shrugged himself saying it wasn’t him.

      But as they both turned to see there was a set of eyes and what looked like green hair looking at them from the edge of the lake, and Stanley laughed saying he didn’t know he was having a Spirit Party today too, and a tall, well endowed young lady walked out of the lake, all blue with green plants covering the ‘necessary spots’ and she smiled wide and gave the Fire Spirit a piece of her mind for saying only fire fights fire well.

      “You know what I meant...” Was all he’d say, as Stan agreed that water killed fire faster than any fire break, and even he did admit to it after a minute glaring at each other.

      “So... I’ve lived by the lake for months now and this is the first time you’ve appeared.” Stanley mentioned as she agreed saying that she had been watching him for a while now, and the Fire Spirit growled that she was jumping the line, and they both grumbled while Stanley laughed.

      “Oh gee...” he started loudly,” is there a beautiful Water Spirit somewhere that would contract with me?” he asked as she smiled wide and leaned in and whispered her name into his ear and he accepted her, and he then asked the same for a ‘strong and proud Fire Spirit” and he too whispered his name, and Stanley shook his hand and thanked him as she leaned in and kissed his cheek.

      “No kissing allowed!” They heard as Cora appeared and stood by Stanley looking very serious, saying that she was here first, and as such was the Senior Spirit on these grounds, and one by one they agreed she was and she looked pretty happy with that as two cars filling with people pulled in and when they saw what was going on they called their spirits too and they all partied the afternoon away.

      “He’s doing it again.” Clare mentioned as her computer screen showed multiple Spirits partying with Humans and laughing and getting along very well indeed.

      “Is that a surprise...really?” Steve asked as he looked over her shoulder.

      “He’s breaking all new ground in Spirit/ Humans relations. All this will need recorded and studied. We will be changing what we do at the very fundamental level from now on.” She admitted as Stave smiled and she seemed glad they put up cameras on some of the trees around the house.

      “We have always studied them and treated them as Superior Beings.” She admitted as he agreed.” But he treats them like Humans, he just got 2 more contracts and never even asked for one. The Fire Spirit was unhappy he hadn’t called for one of his kind before, and the Water Spirit was watching him all this time and only moved because someone else was getting ahead of her.” She added as Steve laughed softly saying Stanley certainly was never going to be lonely, and she growled saying that Spirits, no mater how well endowed were not Humans and as such not someone he could just cuddle up next to.

      Steve zoomed the camera in and stood back laughing.

      “Tell that to those two.” he added as Clare saw both the Wind and Water Spirits holding Stan’s hands and neither one looked ready to let go anytime soon.

      “Wait a minute...something’s wrong...” Clare added seriously, as Steve looked and everything seemed fine to him. “ No you moron! Look! Stanley doesn’t have any Water skills...why is she even there?” She demanded, as Steve looked impressed and said maybe she CHOSE to be here...and Clare looked a bit faint that a Spirit could choose its Master even without previous skill training.

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      Chapter 17: Skills...and Wills

      Clare had to know... her Family wrote the books on Spirits and had contracts that went back for centuries. But Stanley was standing all that on it head and she desperately needed to know if she had been wrong her whole life.

      In her library at home was an old volume... a book written by the very first Hemming to ever claim to have a contract with a Spirit. It was the basis of this school and others like it worldwide and she went home and dug it out and way in the back was an incantation that had been used very few times in the schools History and she opened it and stood there by her desk and said it aloud and as she did Spirits arrived and gathered near to hear why she chose this time and place to use it.

      “Are you the current leader of the Hemming Clan?” One Spirit asked and she admitted she was.” Then why do you call us all here? Earth, Wind, Fire and Air, we all gathered at your request so please enlighten us as to why you called.” It mentioned as She looked sad but she had something important to say.

      “My Family has learned about you and taught others for 300 years.” Clare started as they all nodded it was true.” Then why...in the name of God...why did none of you tell us the truth? My son, Stanley is just now learning about Spirits, he was a late bloomer and had no such skills in the past, but now Spirits run to him with arms open wide. One young Wind Spirit openly admits to having feelings for him..a thought that destroys everything I ever knew about Spirits and Humans working together.” She added as everyone there just smiled and the one lady asked if that scared her...and Clare didn’t know how to answer.

      “ 300 years, you say that like its a long time. I personally am 3200 of your years old. I remember a time clearly when Humans feared us, did rituals for us, made offerings for us. But you and yours learned to get along and your ancestors openly spoke and asked for our help and we gave it. Since then you’ve learned very slowly as it should be. To know things that you don’t understand helps no one.” She admitted as Clare just nodded , dumbfounded by it all.

      “Your son is like that first one, hundreds of years ago. He speaks and we listen, he asked questions and get told the truth. He wants no big reputation, or Fame and Fortune, he wants only a happy life and he will get it, that we know for sure. If he learns more than you...isnt that what teachers need? To know more than a student? Let him learn, as he should, and many will see he is different from others and he likes us all and the Planet equally. Let it happen and then teach what he learns to others, as the First taught your ancestors and theirs before you.” One older Spirit added as Clare thanked them for coming because after all these centuries someone finally thought it was time to ask for help again.

      “Your son is the first in ages to walk among us.” Another said as Clare listened, but wasn’t sure she understood. He is a Multi-Dimensional Being. He knows we exist, he sees us talks to us and even teases and gets angry at us. He is the closest thing yet to a Human who is also a Spirit. His spirit reaches out to us and we feel it and appreciate that he feels this way. Humans like him are rare, some in the past tried to explain this to others like you and were locked away for saying the truth. Maybe this time he is the right person in the right place at the right time. That is our honest hope.” He said and they faded away and Clare sat back and slowly admitted that she learned more than she ever thought she would today, and maybe that was a good thing.

      “****!” She finally screamed out loud,” The Water Spirit, why is she there with him, he has no Water skills!” She screamed not knowing if anyone would answer now or not.

      “Maybe you should test him again.” Was all she heard, and she agreed and Stanley once again went through the testing and when it was over the report got sent to the Capital, because they deserved to know what was happening out here, and it had been a deal since the very first time.

      Washington D.C. , the last day of August and that report was making a big stir among the lawmakers that worked with Naturalists regularly. There was an emergency meeting and people who hadn’t been to one in ages were forced to attend and when the report got read there wasnt a normal face in the room. Some were scared, some angry and a few looked absolutely thrilled, since this had been prophesied for ages and was finally coming true.

      “A Pure Naturalist, a person who can ask for and control every known type of Spirit.” Was the final analysis. There hadn’t been one in recorded History and the last one even close had been brought to the Capital and made to work for them until his death decades ago.

      “So? Get him down here we can keep a closer eye on him that way and make sure he thinks only what we want him to. Thats the standard for these things isn’t it? So why bother me on my weekend off?” One older man demanded as they were told that this one was just a young man of 18, and he wouldn’t be led around by his nose like others had.

      “They say he’s dense as a post but he loves the outdoors. He’ll never live here in the city and be happy.” Got mentioned and it also got mentioned that he wouldn’t have a choice, since someone even remotely that powerful had no place to go but here, where his skills could be used for ‘the common good’ not for his own uses ever again.

      “He either comes willingly or dies...we cant have a loose Nuclear Warhead walking around thinking he’s in charge!” Got added and everyone agreed and the call went out and as Stanley got up the next day a long line of Spirits were waiting for him and he looked surprised and before he could speak the old man said ‘they are coming for you’ and he didn’t look pleased.

      “They who?” Stanley asked and got a quick lesson in lies and deceit and they said that others like him got taken away and forced to do terrible things and them through him.

      “Oh I see...” he said getting breakfast as they all looked at each other wondering what he was doing at a time like this. “But your not going to let me go right? So where’s the problem?” he asked as he broke some eggs into the flying pan and threw in some bacon too and they slowly agreed and one by one they disappeared and when that caravan of military vehicles came for him they got lost and never did find his house and after days they went into the town looking for his family to see what kind of joke this is.

      “Why does he need to go with you anyways?” Steve asked as he was told they only existed for the use of others, and if they didn’t do as they were told their entire existence, the school the entire town even, would just disappear.

      “If we don’t control you and your kind you might start getting ideas... and we cant have that.” The Captain said loudly as Clare just laughed and before they said another word a storm moved in over the city...within minutes... and lightning struck their lead vehicle and it burned to the ground as guns were drawn and one by one the men and women using them got thrown out and finally they took the hint and withdrew, out into the surrounding hills and made the call that the town was in rebellion, and a special unit got mobilized and flew in to help put the rebellion down.

      Chapter 18: Confrontation with the Future

      The word got out instantly among the people that knew all about this stuff. One Professor grabbed a file more than an inch thick and rushed into Washington and went right to the President and after a long wait got in and he slammed the file down as he got asked what that was.

      “37 times those people have saved the ass of every person in Washington over the last 150 years.” he got told, as he looked impressed.

      “If you don’t stop this there will be War, and believe me in this, your military forces aren’t ready for a war like this one.” he declared as he was told that even if the entire town got wiped out...it was their own fault because all they needed to do to stop the attack was surrender and do as they were told.

      “I always thought that politicians were too stupid to rule.” The Professor said, and took his file and stopped at the door. “I’ll be back when Washington is under water, or tornadoes run down the streets and all your escape plans go up in smoke.” he declared and left, and one call and he was picked up and was never seen again.

      “Ridiculous...” Was the only word spoken as the Special Naturalist Elimination Forces went out by helicopter and when they touched down in that town only God could save them then.

      But it didn’t go quite like that. Sure the Special Forces got there, but there was a storm and they couldn’t land. They tried calling in Spirits to stop the storm but none answered, for the first time since they were in school together.

      The call got sent back saying that they were helpless here and instead of helicopters a entire group of tanks was sent in, and when they started traveling up the side of the river towards the town the river swelled and washed them away.

      The tank crews were miraculously saved and dropped off a few miles away and they were forced to walk until they got to a phone that actually worked.

      “They are what??” The President screamed as he got told that every attempt to enter the town had failed...at a pretty steep cost too. “I don’t care what it takes, these people are making a fool out of us and I want them dead.” he screamed and the phone went dead and he slammed it down saying that nothing was working right for him this week.

      “If I might suggest sir...” He heard as a general walked in and he waved him to sit. “These Naturalists have been a stable force for the country since before the country existed. If we alienate them then they will never help us again. Think about it..no weather help during massive storms... Hell more massive storms than ever before! One hurricane can cost us a Billion in losses, now think if someone was actually steering it, what would the total be then?” he brought up as even the President had to think about that.

      “They wouldn’t dare...” The President added as the General saw that maybe this man was as crazy as he had heard.

      “If we don’t find a peaceful solution to this they could easily bankrupt the entire country in less than a year.” He heard and that definitely didn’t sound good, he had a lot of deals going and this would wipe them out in a second.

      “And your suggestion is?” he asked as the General mentioned cutting off their food , letting them just sit there getting hungry until they threw this man out with the garbage, then they could do with him as they pleased.

      “Same result, less losses.” he added and the deal was done, and every major highway into the town was cut as troops set up roadblocks and no one was let in or out and they knew from all their war practice that a town of thousand eats a lot of food every day, and they estimated that in two weeks they’d be screaming for their help, knowing full well what the price would be.

      But everyone in the town knew what was happening too. The government was always trying to force them into some deal or other, and seeing them trying to make Stanley into their puppet made a lot of people angry. Clare was on the phone the first day saying that they could not operate normally with the military surrounding the town and offers for double and triple pay for work got refused instantly because no one could get in or out.

      Truck drivers, some who lived there, were now locked out and food, medical supplies nothing got in and trucks started getting backed up at the main truck stop just a few miles down the road from the edge of town.

      Calls were made explaining it and everyone knew their food fuel and other supplies were just sitting out there, and finally one driver backed into the grass along the edge of the parking lot and dropped his load saying he was losing more money just sitting here, and in minutes a thick fog moved in until you couldn’t see a thing, and when it lifted, nothing was there, tons and tons of food gone like the wind itself.

      That also got reported and a military unit got assigned to the stop to watch and see how they did it, and the owners knew what was happening and just to piss them off they put up a big sign saying ‘supplies for town here’ and an arrow to the same grass and a Hummer was sitting there with two guards watching the place, and load after load of supplies got dumped or unloaded and every single box was gone by morning and no one saw a thing.

      But the big trouble for the President wasn’t food getting in..it was workers not getting out. They were in such demand that people ordered them weeks ahead of time, form all over the world, and to have absolutely no one show up for a week then two, his phone never stopped ringing.

      “They’re terrorists I tell you..” He screamed at the President of France who had called multiple times this week.” when my men get in there they will all die, thats what terrorists deserve so you better find someone else.” he demanded and hung up and his counterpart was far less happy that he hoped he might be.

      He instead made another call and that man was just as upset as he was.

      “We’re losing millions every day.” he got told and he apologized for it saying that pressure was coming down on the President and that something was going to be done soon.”If he kills just one of them we will all pay. They’re abilities aren’t easy to find or cultivate, so if they turn on us many of our countries will go broke from the loss of their help. They are indispensable to many of us. So that I can guarantee.” he heard and the man agreed to do something and when that call was over he made another, to HIS boss and that was as high as this problem would ever get.

      “If they break in there and kill anyone, much less a Hemming, this will never end.” he admitted as his boss agreed they made a mistake letting this madman into office. “What do you want to do? Time is running out.” he said and a plan was made and things would slowly go back to normal, one way or another.

      By now the news got hold of it, a group of tanks and helicopters were attacking a town in New England and no one knew why. They were waiting when the president made his normal weekly speech and demanded to know, and he went off on them about terrorists, and a training camp in New England and even powerful men that had been on the fence about this guy jumped off in seconds. No one was ever to know about this, their ace in the hole that made them wealthier than others before them, but now he was ranting on and as he did people took notice, and the Hemming school was said to be the center of it all, and before he could say anything else he was struck and went down and the news crews ran everywhere trying not to be next, and after it was all said and done the Vice President came out the next day to say it was all in his mind, the President had snapped weeks ago, and what happened that day was suicide, pills he took before the press conference.

      It seemed he went down pretty fast for pills... got mentioned... but that was the official announcement, and files and scans and reports from major medical centers agreed, and nothing else was ever said about it again.

      The Great State of Maine, and the Hemming school were both apologized to for what happened and the troops disappeared as fast as they came. Calls came in for work and people went and did it, and people couldn’t believe how fast things got back to normal.

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