A/N

This is one of the many stories I have in my ledger. Next update will be in a month, as here are many backlogged items floating around in circulation. Next story is noon tomorrow. Keep on the lookout for one or more updates daily until the end of the month. Happy reading, and I hope you enjoy the stories!

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Lots of love and thanks to my sixth grade English teacher, Ken Preuss! Thanks for helping me realize the writing is my calling and that this is what I was meant to do. I probably would have figured it our eventually, but it would have taken years. I doubt you could see me now, or will see me eventually, but I hope if you do, you're proud, and happy that I've come a lot farther since I was under your wing. Hope you're doing well out there man.

….

Chapter 1

In the year 1965, Natalia Nûren, a native of India, immigrated to the United States to escape a loveless engagement with a man three times her age. She had saved money for six years for her dowry, pretending to go along with it, only to take the money when she was sent to get it out to give to her fiancé, and escaped on a ferry with a passport, a small bag with a few clothes, the shoes on her feet, and the money stuffed down her bra.

She arrived in the U.S., at San Francisco harbor, and immediately applied for a chance to be a citizen. It would take her six years to be legal, but it was a chance. She used her money to buy a small used car, and met a stranger online in the flatlands in the far north of California looking for a roommate.

When she traveled to the address, she found a small reserve of Native Americans, 8 or 10 families, and about 100 people, maximum.

She met her host, a young man a year older than her at 18. He was well tanned and muscled from working in the fields and forests all day, every day. His long, shiny black hair was always pulled into a bun at the top of his head to keep it out of his face.

His name was Adriel Hensley. And on this particular day, he was chopping wood for his family's huts fire, and so was wearing nothing but a pair of overly tight jeans, worn in some very interesting places.

Natalia watched him in shocked awe as the axe swung again and again, wood chips flying away, his arms and chest looking like chiseled marble on a statue, glistening in the midday sun from his sweat.

He finally finished, setting the ax down and wiping his forehead. He turned and saw Natalia standing there, utterly flushed at this point, though she had no idea why.

He eyed her with interest, "I don't believe I've seen you around the village before." He stepped forward, holding his hand out, "I am Adriel Hensley of Clan Maidu, so of Aiyana Hensley, of Clan Maidu, and Calian Irving of Clan Maidu. And you are?"

She bowed, arm pressed against her stomach, "Natalia Nûren, daughter of Aparna Acharya and Daljheet Nûren. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I believe we had a correspondence online recently? You were looking for someone to join your family to help with… things?"

He laughed like a bubbling stream, clear and bright, "There is no need to bow to me Miss Nûren. I welcome you to our village, and my home. My family has been early awaiting your visit, though we thought you were not due for another three days."

She looked down, "I had to come early, or else I may not have been able to come at all. May I meet your family?"

He waved towards the hut, "Please, come with me Miss."

They walked side by side, Natalia clutching her bag nervously in her hands. The hut was made of redwood oak trees, a beautiful auburn color. Everything inside was the same, form the table to the chairs. A cot was in the corner of the main room, and an elderly woman laid in it, sitting with her back braced against the wall, pillows and blankets surrounding her.

A teen girl stood over a pot of bubbling liquid on the fire in the center of the room. Two twin little boy, like smaller pudgier versions of Adriel curled up next to the woman on the cot as she murmured to them in a soft voice.

They all looked up as the pair entered.

Adriel nodded to Natalia, "Welcome. This is my younger sister, Halona."

The girl over the pot nodded, then turned back to her work.

"My mother, Aiyana."

The elderly woman smiled softly at the nervous woman, who couldn't help but smile shyly back.

"And the boys are Nova and Nuka. Nova is the oldest, and he has the brown eyes."

The boys smiled up at her with wide grins and sparkling eyes.

The one with brown eyes, Nova chirped like a sparrow, "Are you the lady who's here to live with us?"

"I… umm…"

"nova." Adriel chided, "She just got here. Let her rest."

Halona frowned at Natalia through the steam, "we weren't expecting you for three day.

"Adriel said. I decided to come early. I didn't really have anything for me in Frisco."

Aiyana frowned, "No family or parents?"

She cleared her throat, "They're in India, and hopefully, they're still there."

"You left your family? Why?"

"I… needed a change. Opportunity. They didn't agree. I had control of my dowry, so I left. They won't find me."

Nuka grinned, "Are you on the run from the law?"

Natalia laughed for the first time in months, but it was a sputtering laugh, as if she was being chocked, "No. I am not on the run from the law. Just my family. And I made it to America. The paperwork is legal. I'm staying in this country. America is my home now. And if you would allow it, I would love to stay and help you all."

They all looked at each other, then smiled at her. Natalia felt her heart start to beat and her shoulders lift as if a weight had been lifted off them.

The next year became a pattern: helping Halona cook, clean, care for the boys and Aiyana, and delivering meals to Adriel when he was out hunting. He usually asked her to sop and eat with him. They had lengthy discussions about each other's live and cultures as leaves changed colors and fell around them.

Winter came, but for once, Natalia, usually so susceptible to the cold, never felt it, warmth in her heart and soul from love for the small family.

Four years passed like this, everyone growing closer together and older. One day, Adriel didn't go to the forest to work.

He took Natalia's hands silently and led her to behind the shed, near a small stream at the edge of the forest.

He smiled, "Natalia Nûren…"

She smiled back, "Adriel Hensley. I know your name as well Adri."

He chuckled, "you have changed and grown much in your stay with us. You were a delicate woodland flower when you arrive: tender and fragile. Now, you are a magnificent willow tree, stretching out for the sky, but always remembering to protect the ones in your leaves."

She smiled, "Yes I was very delicate. And now, because of you, and your family, I am strong. I could pass as one of you."

She laughed, looking up into his face, stopping abruptly. His face was hard and unreadable.

He looked down at his feet, then at her face, questioning and surprisingly innocent.

"Would... would you… want… to be- to be one of us?"

"What are you asking?"

He sighed heavily, looking at his feet.

"I cannot hide the fact that I care about you. I have watched you grow into a strong woman, worthy of being a part of the clan. I have grown to care about you."

"Adri…" she whispered softly.

He lifted his hand an inch, "Please, let me finish." He sighed, the looked up at the clear blue spring sky as if looking for answers, "I care about you. If care is event the right word."

He sighed again, meeting her eyes, "Natalia Nûren, you are strong, capable, amazing, wonderful, compassionate… and so much more. And i…"

"Yes?" she barely breathed.

"I… love… you."

All of her breath seemed to rush out of her, and the world seemed to spin before her eyes. Adriel noticed she was swaying and reached out a strong hand to steady her. His hand against her bare skin was not an uncommon thing, but today, just like anytime he did it, but even more violently, her skin erupted in goosebumps at his touch.

He noticed, and removed his hand, leaving her with an ache she didn't understand, feeling as though she wanted all of him covering every part of her in an effort to fill that aching void.

He looked down, and was about to turn away when she whispered, barely audible, "I love you too."

He looked back at her in shock as she smiled softly, eyes wide and glimmering with tears and love. He hugged her, holding her close. She melted into a puddle of goo at his touch, reveling in his warmth.

They had a soft romance for a year, until her citizenship granting ceremony. After she exited the building and faced the Adriel rushed to her, scooped her up, and swung her around in his arms, before setting her down and planting a soft kiss on her mouth.

The family was surprised, but not angry. The two were in love, and love was sacred and beautiful.

They married three years later. Natalia's parents tracked her down after all that time, but there was nothing they could do. Everything was legal and signed. They returned home in defeat as the newlyweds celebrated their love.

A year, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, whom she named Grace. The girl grew up on the reservation happy and loved, interested in the earth and nature, always wanting to know how things worked. She studied hard in school, and graduated top of her class every time.

Her parents were very proud of her, and were as supportive as you could get. When she was 18, in the year 1993, she earned a good deal of scholarships, and agreed to ship out for Harvard to get her doctorate in chemical and engineering sciences, as well as some others. Until her 24th birthday, she studied every field of science she could, graduating valedictorian.

She always kept in touch with her roots, braiding her hair with falcon feathers under her gold sari decorated with a patter on silver stars. Her choli tops and pavedas were decorated with traditional Native American designs.

She graduated with honors in the year 1999, ready to get a contract for any company and begin picking apart her world.

She eventually got a contract with a weather company and settled into her new life with vigor and passion.

1 year later

"It is October 26th, 2000, 8:14 pm Greenwich time. I am currently in Iceland, at the northern tip of the island. Temperatures are in the negative tens, and expected to drop lower. The sky is clear, giving us a beautiful view of the Milky Way."

A knock on the door made grace turn around to see her intern coming in, bundled in several layers of clothing, but still covered in snow and shivering.

She laughed as her friend peeled back the layers, "why does it look like you banged frosty the snowman? We're here to document the meteor as it passes over the area, not lay an oversized snowball."

Pamela Green stuck her tongue out at her friend, brushing violent red hair out of her face, "You try walking on ice while trying not to freeze your ass off. It's not fun."

Grace smiled, picking up a light coat to throw over her sweater, "Well you can sit in here and warm up. I need to go check the data tower, and I am not missing this event."

"Ok Mrs. Icicle. How you can stand the freezing temps is beyond me." She plopped down into the swivel chair and waved at the door, "Go on. Go mingle with the rabble and see a flaming rock pass us by and do absolutely nothing. Try not to let all the heat out on the way out."

Grace laughed and opened the door, walking through the snow. The tower was in the center of the snow filled clearing. But it wasn't just full of snow. Around 20 people were milling about, or sitting in chairs. Most nodded at her as she passed, and she waved hello.

Prying open the frozen hatch, she checked all sensors. Everything was normal.

She checked her watch. 8:26. Four minutes until the meteor was supposed to pass overhead.

Looking up, the sky was alive with hundreds colors from the aurora, millions of stars shimmering from behind the beautiful display.

A middle aged woman approached her, "You're here for the meteor, right?"

Grace nodded, "Yes. My partner and I are scientists, and we're here to study it to get some valuable information."

"So you're just here on business?"

"Nah. I fought tooth and nail to get assigned to this. This is a once in a lifetime experience. I honestly feel sorry for all those who couldn't make it, or just chose to miss it. They'll be missing out on the most incredible occurrence of their lives."

"Yeah, and they're right to miss it. It is beyond freezing."

Grace turned and smiled at her grumpy partner, bundled up in so many coats and pants she looked like a giant balloon.

"Now tell me," she teased, "Is there a partner in there beyond the coats and sourness?"

"Go jump in a hole grace." Pam huffed, "How are you not freezing?"

"Thicker skin I guess. I spent all my time outside when I wasn't studying, so I must have developed a protection against most things normies like you are susceptible to."

The girls laughed together, breath steaming from the low temperatures and humidity. Snow crunched under their boots, and throughout most of the clearing it had been trampled down by the feet of the tourists, melting under the heat of their fires.

Pam pulled a tablet from her coat pocket and started fiddling with it. grace smiled up at the brilliant sky, a feeling of awe filling her as she realized just how small she was compared to the vastness of just her world, much less the vast emptiness of space.

A tear rolled down her cheek. She lived for this; seeing the world, learning everything she could. She loved everything about her world and wanted to share that love with everyone.

She was distracted from her thoughts by a warm light appearing on the horizon above the tops of the pine trees surrounding the clearing.

Everyone looked up in amazement as it passed overhead. It was so close. Almost as bright as the sun with a tail stretching behind it for what had to be miles, it raced slowly across the sky.

The world seemed silent, holding its breath in awe for the meteor. A tiny voice whispered in Grace's head that she should be worried. The various animal noises and decent wind didn't just stop for no reason. Wind didn't stop.

But her mind was completely wrapped up and swept away by the majesty of the comet as it sped through the aurora. It seemed to explode gently, raining beautiful sparks down around them, making the aurora twist and warp in brilliant spikes and swirls. Everyone was looking up, except Pam, who noticed the snow had fully melted, and grass was growing at an exponential rate, sending up glowing green mist up that surrounded everyone.

She looked down at the tablet which started to beep ou a warning.

She looked up at grace, "Uh, hey, Grace?"

She smiled mindlessly at the sky, "Yeah?"

Pam frowned at her partner, "Radiation levels are rising really fast. I don't think we should be out here."

Grace chuckled softly, "I'm sure it's no problem. Relax Pam. Everything is warm, and I feel… so good…"

"Ok, we need to go inside-"

She stopped, her muscles instantly tensing up, only to relax. She smiled up at the bright sky wistfully.

"Yeah. You're right. Theres no problems… everything is great. It's warm…"

The girls smiled at the sky together, hands joining as Pam mindlessly dropped the tablet to the ground. The sparks surrounded them all in a cloud, sinking into their skin.

Then, it was just gone. The sparks disappeared, the meteor dyed out, and the aurora went back to normal, shifted a few more times, then fizzed out of life. The stars twinkled softly, seeming dim in the eyes of those watching after the spectacle they just witnessed.

The group looked around, dazed. Grace shook her head, picked up the tablet and just strolled to the mini-hut. Pam followed her, opening the door. Grace was bent over, filling up their bags so they could leave.

"Grace."

She looked up, "What?"

Pam frowned, "You didn't think any of that was strange?"

Grace shrugged, "A lot of our world is weird. But it's also wonderful. We got the information we needed, and we got to see an amazing event."

Pam opened her mouth, froze, then just sighed, shaking her head. Grace was right. They had what they needed. They should just get out of there before something happened.

Three years later, in the California Mountains overlooking a stretch of beach

The alarm clock beeped incessantly. Grace yawned, stretched out her arm, and turned the annoying thing off. She sat up and stretched, grabbing her glasses.

She trudged sleepily down the stairs to the kitchen, tugging her ratty old shirt over the sweatpants.

Pulling her hair into a bun, yawning, she grabbed a mug and started the coffee maker to make a pot. Her pants started vibrating. She pulled it out and looked at it blearily.

Pam.

Grace yawned again and picked up, "sup Pam."

"Sorry. Did I wake you up?"

"nah. I just got up. I'm making coffee. What's up?"

"HQ has been monitoring these rogue storms that pop up out of nowhere for a minute or two, then disappear. The damage seems localized, like it specifically targets one area."

Grace yawned, rubbing her eyes under the glasses, "yeah, it can seem like that. I mean, look at tornadoes. It seems random at times, and it's there for a couple minutes at most, then just dissipates."

"That's the thing. Tornadoes need a storm system with the perfect conditions for extended periods of time to form. These storms appear suddenly, as in, nothing on the radar for miles around the area, and then poof, a giant killer storm. It's there for a minute, then is off the radar."

Grace frowned, pulling her laptop out form the cabinet as the smell of coffee filled the air, "that does seem strange. When did they start showing up?"

"Three months after our trip to Iceland. And they've been scattered across the globe, but the first appearance was in Iceland."

"All right Pam, chill. We can't immediately assume it's connected. It's probably just a coincidence."

"The storms all look exactly the same. Exact same distribution of lightning, exact same patterns of storm density. I'm emailing you the files."

Grace booted up the laptop, opening the file and examining it.

"Yeah, that is kind of suspicious. No storm is exactly alike."

"I know right? One of those locations is in the center of a city, in an apartment building. IT LITERALLY CAME FROM INSIDE THE BUILDING!"

"I know. I'm looking at it. The video feed from across the street is honestly astounding."

"And theres another thing…"

"What?"

"It's related to the Iceland event, but its classified information. I can't say it over an unsecure line."

Grace sighed and leaned back, "then come to my place for the weekend. We can work it all out together and pop out a bottle later."

"Right. I'll do that. I'm in Texas right now, and I have to debrief with chief, but I'll be seeing you soon girl."

"Got it. Later Pam. Love ya."

"Love ya too grace. See ya."

Grace turned off the phone and placed it face down on the table, rubbing her face. She eyed the images of the radar signals for each storm, with exact coordinates. She sighed and stood up, grabbing her mug to fill it.

The machine was making a weird clunking sound, so she placed he mug down next to it and smacked the machine's side. Usually not a good idea, just like this time. The machine had a loose wire, and because it was still connected to the house's electricity, it packed a hell of a punch.

Grace jerked her hand back at the shock, scowling at the unruly machine. She looked at her hand ruefully, then did a double take.

Little arcs of electricity were dancing between her fingers. She stared in astonishment. It wasn't possible. Some humans could survive that amount of electricity, but you couldn't see it.

She got an idea. She narrowed her eyes at the arcs, imagining them getting bigger and faster. It followed her command. Grace stumbled for the front door, unlocking it with one while not looking at it, focused on her hand.

She stood in the sunlight as it was starting its climb, the sound of rustling leaves and waves giving a calm backdrop to the peaceful scene. Peaceful, that is, if you didn't include the panicking young woman.

She looked up at the sheets of rock surrounding, then back down to her hand. The arcs became present, molding themselves into a ball of electricity.

A lightning ball.

Grace grinned. She had just put to rest a centuries old debate. She drew her arm back and mimed throwing it at the rocks. The ball flew from her hand to the rocks.

It hit, causing a massive explosion with huge jagged bolts of lightning emanating from the epicenter. When the dust cleared, there was a huge hole with rubble on the ground, glimmering chunks of something inside.

She looked at her hands in astonishment, sparks popping back into life. She clenched her fists and looked at the hole again.

This was big.

Way bigger than just a storm.

Time to go to work.