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  1. Time: 8:48 PM, September 19th, 2019 Sebastion Even on a Saturday, the town of Shelby, Montana was small enough that there was little to do once the sun set. Most businesses closed, most families were home watching tv after dinner, young kids tucked in bed so they'd not be cranky through early church services the next morning. Sebastian and a half-dozen of his friends were exercising their teenage privilege to ignore social conventions and were taking up space on the stairs at the Exxon shopping strip on the edge of town, the closest Shelby got to an outdoor hangout spot. A storm has rolled in on the town in only minutes - not an unknown phenomenon, but the clouds looked angry and lightning chased through them like frenzied sprites. "Uh, guys?" Jeremiah Cross, one of the running backs for the JV team, was staring at the sky. He pointed to what looked like a silver shooting star against the deep purples and blacks of the clouds. Several people gasped as the realized what it was, Annalise stating in horror, "It's a plane. On fire." Lightning flashed brightly in their eyes and the plane wobbled down in it's descent. A little quicker on the uptake, Dennis started down the stairs, calling back over his shoulder, "It's too big! It's gonna crash near here." It was getting larger and very fast. Everyone scattered down the stairs and into the parking lot. Another lightning flash arced along the body of the plane, reaching out in ball of little tendrils - landing on the roof of the building, the roof of the pumps, and down to the ground of the parking lot. The air around them filled with static and power as the plane passed close over the strip mall, trailing molten debris as it went. A few seconds later the boom of impact only a few hundred feet away inside the circle of a highway off-ramp, knocking everyone to their feet. Everyone except Sebastian, who felt the push against him but simply pushed back with an unyielding strength he'd never known before. He felt powerful - amazing. Like he could do anything in this moment. Another small boom echoed from the direction of the plane and the smell of burnt metal and jet fuel spread across the area. Jael and Zac They were in fly-over country, and true to form, they were flying over it. Ritzy hotels and even private home rentals just didn't have the same security as being thousands of feet up in the air in a privately-owned jet. Other than having to pop her ears several times, the ride had been mostly uneventful: Sezja was employee Zac again, this time to take out the legs (and warehouses) of a cousin that thought he could set up a side operation outside of family approval or cut. The first was annoying, the second was treasonous. This was the polite warning to shape up do right by his kin. The second warning would be far more direct and leave nothing for Ulian to do ever again. Sezja believed in second chances, but not thirds. Jael had spent the flight fleecing the wallets of Igor and Anton, which seemed to fair to her since they were being paid to look like Sezja's guards while Jael was the one actually doing that. She glanced towards the cockpit when the pilot's voice crackled over the speakers. "Мисс Буторин, мы идем в шторм. Мы не можем идти вокруг, и будет турбулентность. Каждый должен пристегнуть ремни безопасности." Everyone sighed and Sezja rolled her eyes. Jael gave her a pointed look and the incredibly fashionably dressed woman pulled her seatbelt into place while giving Jael a look that translated perfectly into "Alright, you overprotective wolf." Their employer following the captain's instructions meant everyone else did, too. Thunder rolled around them and lightning flashed in the darkness outside. Then flashed again. And again. Brighter and closer each time. "Оставайтесь на линии!" the captains voice called over the speakers. Then the plane swerved, dipping down and hard to the right. Lightning flashed again, still bright but not brighter. The drinks slid and crashed onto the plush carpet of the luxury aircraft and Anton grunted as his seat-belt dug harshly into his side. Igor looked like a dog run through a centrifuge, trying to figure out what was going while also needing all his attention not to add lunch and stomach acids to the alcohol staining the white carpet. Jael and Zac felt the strike that set the right wing on fire just a few milliseconds before it actually hit. Jael's vision had blurred as her eyes tracked out the window and she saw a dozen different bolts of lightening: some were faint and missed the wing entirely, others struck the engine itself or arc into the cabin and her mind screamed NO!. In the end, the strike that Zac saw hit the tip of the wing and arced like a fairy dancer over the plane before dissipating. Mere seconds later, another bolt hit along the other wing and Jael's vision swam again, but the plane held. The nose dipped down more sharply in a left turn this time as the pilot looked to bring them under this impossible storm and find somewhere to make an emergency landing. Catching hell from Pakhan Butorin was better than dying in the sky - or surviving when Butorin's daughter didn't. Lightning found it's way to the plane again, but this time it was the tail. Jael's vision didn't distort and the plane gave a great shudder as the lightning, finding it's mark, hit over and over again. The back of the plane was slagging and the light from above and behind them took on an orange tinge instead of the blue-white of lightning. The pilot tried to course-correct again, but the plane was responding sluggishly at best. The nose pulled up slightly, but not enough. They weren't in free fall, but they were falling. The ground rushed up as the pilot kept pulling and the nose moved a bit more, but not enough. When metal met earth, everything went dark for those inside.
  2. Time: September 21st through 27th, 2019 No one likes being locked up. No one likes being run through chemical showers and blood tests and poking and prodding of just about every kind a person could think. Psychological evaluations, "interviews" about what happened during the Storm, background checks and invasions into every aspect of your life. No one likes it, but at least some people understand the necessity. And at least some of the soldiers and officials and pathologists running the quarantine at whatever base you'd all be flown into in the desert were as nice as they could be about it. Some of them. The base itself had been split between the sealed off zones for the "guests" and the free-range areas for everyone else. At the start, there'd just been the large workroom that had been stuffed with cots and blankets for the dozen or so people being kept there, but on the morning of the second day actual semi-private rooms were announced as having been sealed off for people to use. They were paired off and told that rooms would be opened to them by the evening. Workers in HAZMAT suits brought in tables and board games and cards for the internees to keep themselves occupied while doctors tried to figure out if their weirdness was contagious or their if their minds were just falling apart more slowly than all of the people that had turned into monsters immediately. "This is the worst," Lucia complained. "Why can't we have phones or something? At least give us movies to watch!" The last was halfheartedly bemoaned at one of the soldiers guarding the communal bubble in the main room. He just shrugged, clearly not about to leave his post to go get a movie for the young woman. Her all-black eyes rolled, which couldn't be seen, and she slumped in her chair. She looked around the room, picking someone out to go say hi to and maybe make a friend - anything was better than another round of Solitaire.
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