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Yuki hit with a mind-jarring slam. The air was knocked out of her, bursting on impact resulting in a spew of bubbles. A split second after the shock of cold hit her. She spasmodically gasped for breath, but she could pull nothing in. This, however, was fortunate since she was underwater. Faster than she thought possible, the icy water swallowed at her, draining away feeling in her hands and feet as they succumbed to numbness in seconds. Panic was quickly muffled by a dark fog of obscurity as everything went dark.

Above the lake, Aurora managed to slow her descent and hover as Yuki fell from her grasp, barely stopping before crashing into the lake herself. Yuki sunk quickly below the surface and Aurora sunk her hands under the water where she saw her friend disappear. Rather than trying to dive into the inky black water, she stretched the extent of her power to the limit. She focused on forcing it as deep as she could to avoid hitting Yuki in the process.

The waters began to roil and bubble as ions shifted and tiny bubbles began to rise and pop. Encouraged, she forced more MP deep into the water, trying to widen the base of the area she was affecting, hoping that it was below where Yuki was. She had never attempted this before but it made sense in her mind and felt right so she doubled down and pushed more power into the water. The flow of energy managed to counteract the icy chill of the water and they began to churn as more and more bubbles flooded the surface. At long last, a limp figure bobbed to the surface, face down.

Aurora grabbed the back of her outfit and flipped Yuki onto her back, skimming along the surface as she flew to the shore. The sodden woman looked up weakly, gasping like a fish. She reached up with a trembling hand and Aurora gripped it with both hands, pulling her totally out of the lake. Surprised by how cold Yuki was, she tried to wipe off as much water as possible. Yuki’s outfit could and waved hands over her. Activating a controlled burst of Ion Storm she carefully evaporated the water clinging to the trembling super, hoping that the process would heat her up a bit.

Yuki’s gasps became stronger and she pulled in rough breaths. Sucking in the air as much as her body would allow. When Aurora had finished drying the water they held each other, shaking from cold and the fading effects of adrenaline.

“T-t-that s-sucked,” Yuki said flatly when she had regained enough of her faculties to talk. Aurora burst out with a laugh, eyes wet with tears that had not fallen, grateful that she was alright.

“Yes it did,” she said hugging Yuki tight.

Yuki looked above at the flickering clouds.

“It looks like we’re safe, I don’t think the fire will spread down here. What did you do? The last thing I remember was tons of bubbles that lifted me out of the water,”

“I didn’t know it would work. It was just basic electrolysis. I separated hydrogen and oxygen in the water with a little ionization and I grabbed you as soon as I could.”

“Maybe I’m kidding myself that I can be out in the field.” Yuki flopped onto her back, squashing the plants lining the bank of the lake. Aurora joined her and they both looked up at the combination of smoke and clouds drifting above.

“I’m totally unprepared for anything out of my wheelhouse. If there’s tech, I’m golden. Out here, I’m just as good as a reg,”

“So develop some new skills. Or have Gus give you one…”

Yuki rolled over onto her side and stared at Aurora intently.

“What do you mean?”

“Nevermind! Not my place to say,” she covered her mouth with her hands.

“Ah no. You’re not getting off that easy. Spill it, sister. What do you know about our fearless leader’s son? Besides that, he’s got the angsty superhero act down pat.”

“Really, you should ask him. But don’t tell anyone else, please?”

“I’ve never heard of anyone giving away powers. Is it like a legacy super? I didn’t think that worked if a person already had abilities.” Yuki waggled a forefinger as she tried to puzzle out the ramifications.

“But maybe it’s an ability of his. The only thing is that you seemed to imply I could choose what ability I wanted. Didn’t you?” Yuki peered at Aurora, eyebrow arching comically as she continued her mock interrogation. When Aurora only bit her lower lip in reply, Yuki went on.

“I’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about that. What would I choose though,” She tapped her lip as she thought. “Something that would go along with my prime abilities. Maybe some kind of electrical attack? No--it can’t only be offensive. I would need something I could adapt and use like you did with the electrolysis thing. But what?” Aurora rubbed her eyes as the other super mused.

Yuki got to her feet and brushed herself off. She began to talk to herself in lower and lower tones until Aurora couldn’t make out the mutterings as she paced up and down the side of the lake, lost in thought.

Aurora rubbed her eyes. “I’m sorry Gus,” she said to herself. She knew Yuki would not be letting this go. As the yellow pinpoints of light subsided from pressing on her eyelids, she jolted suddenly in surprise.

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A note from Carl Stubblefield

Sorry for the late release.  I got lazy and just enjoyed the weekend.  Played The Outer Worlds(Xbone) on Supernova difficulty for some insane reason.  Same for Greedfall, started playing on PS4 for when my son is hogging the Xbox playing Minecraft.  Dark Souls must have warped my mind in relation to games and punishment.


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Carl Stubblefield

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