Author’s Note: This scene made me want to write a whole series of stories where the team worked as some kind of detective unit, tracking down rogue elementals or something. That’s not the story I’m writing, not yet, but maybe I will someday.
“Oh, hell, that can not be good,” Sherwin said, leaning over the steering wheel and looking at the sky. He pulled to a stop and shut off the engine, pocketing the keys as he reached for the door, shaking his head again. “Did you you see that sky?”
“I’m a bit more worried by the street, Sherwin,” Moira said, and he looked at the torrent coming out of the drains and up from the manhole. The whole thing was a mess, an unnatural one, and to Oceana, it was almost painful. She imagined that Terra could feel it, too, the way the water had warped the landscape, but Oceana didn’t know if the water had that much pain or if that agony belonged to her brother.
“He’s… I don’t know. I can’t get a read on him. The water is all over the place, and it’s interfering with anything I might have gotten.”
“Is he hurt?”
“I don’t know.” Oceana almost had the sense that he was gone, but he had better not be gone. She closed her eyes, searching trying to get a sense of her brother, sort through all the confusion in the water. Things hadn’t been this bad since she and Cress worked disaster relief after a hurricane. She’d never let him near that sort of work again. Selfish, she knew, but he’d been so wiped by drying out the water and the emotions of the victims that she thought it might kill him.
She opened her door and stepped out into the street, needing a better connection to the water. Where was her brother? She could see his handiwork, and if she went through it piece by piece, she’d be able to tell what he’d done and what was the work of the other water elemental, working like forensics to pick it apart, to analyze the water’s manipulation for its source, but she didn’t have time for that now.
She knelt down and touched the water running over the pavement. “He flooded the engine of their car. That thing wouldn’t have gone anywhere. The water is so polluted…”
“You know, this is not easy or pleasant. I might not have to physically eat or taste what’s running through the water, but I am aware of each pollutant. Consider it like a really overwhelming smell,” Oceana said, knowing that Sherwin would appreciate that even if Terra didn’t, though she should understand with all that people did to the ground around her.
This was how the water spoke to her, not like what the others got, but like a puzzle to pick apart the pieces and somehow reorganize them into a picture that made sense. Only it was a stupid photomosiac, and who the hell was that kind of a masochist?
She shook her head as she moved forward.
“Wouldn’t Cress have walked away after disabling their car? Headed back toward us?” Enya asked, giving the clouds above them a nervous glance. Moira grabbed her, moving her away from the car and all of its mirrors, away from the store fronts and their glass. Enya sighed, and Sherwin gave her the keys to the car. She tried to force a smile, but it didn’t quite work.
“I don’t know why he didn’t. I’m still… This spot is colder than the others. The elemental tried to stop him, to freeze him. Here. Oh, hell, Cress.”
“He flooded the street and flipped the car.”
“On his own?”
Oceana nodded, aware of how much that would have cost him to do solo. “The car hit here, scraped along the ground. You can see it. By then, they were struggling over who got to control that water. I can’t tell beyond that. It’s too convoluted, too contaminated. The water can’t tell me any more than that.”
“It’s something, at least.”
“Not enough.” Oceana ran her hands over her arms. “I don’t see where their car ended up or my brother, do you?”
“If one or both of them is gone, why is the water still churning like this?” Enya asked. She winced. “I suppose I seem like an idiot—”
“This is unusual. Most of the time if the elemental is gone or incapacitated, the stuff stops. It’s why if we didn’t have our abilities and we worked for an organization like Aether, we’d carry tranquilizers. We’d knock out the elementals, not kill them.”
“I did try and suggest that to the ones that came to my house, but they weren’t exactly in the mood to listen. All they wanted was your location, and that I didn’t know. Cress never told me. He left me a way to contact you if I needed help, but that was it.”
Sherwin shook his head. “I still can’t believe he did that. If it were me—”
“Don’t start,” Moira told him. “Enya, are you—is he back already?”
“I don’t know. He might be. Might be more resourceful than we gave him credit for.”
Oceana turned. “Where is he? Point him out if you can. Or one of you pinpoint him for me. If he’s got a device that tracks storms, I want to see it. Even if it is just a phone app.”
“You think we can track them that way?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
Moira closed her eyes for a moment, and then she grinned as she lifted a hand and waved the air forward until it deposited the man in the coat on the ground in front of them. “You are persistent.”
He looked over at the water. “They made a mess of this place. What happened to the locals?”
“Oh, hell,” Oceana said, grabbing Moira’s arm. “Hot air, as much as you and Sherwin can generate, as fast as possible. That bastard—he froze them. All of them.”