6. Aether

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And they did. They told me so much, my head was spinning by the end of it. They told me about elementals, people who can control one or more of the natural elements. There's natural elementals, people who are born with these powers, and secondary elementals, which are people like me: people who gained their powers by stealing them from someone. The only way you can take someone's powers, is by killing them. I swallowed. "That settles it, then. I díd kill that man. No matter how many times people tell me it wasn't my fault, this proves it."
Mary looked at me doubtfully. "It doesn't always have to be that black and white. He died because of your actions, but you had no intention of doing so. Anyway, I wouldn't feel too bad about it. We're all better off in this world without that disgusting Stephen Rodriguez walking around."

I blinked. How could she talk like that about someone who just died? Harold saw my doubt and smiled. "Rodriguez is part of a group of people that kill elementals on purpose, just to get more powerful themselves. The more people you kill, the more powerful you can get. You could even end up possessing all four elements, which can be extremely dangerous. It's an unfair balance of power that distorts nature. That's where we come in. We try to find all elementals before they do, and offer them protection and care. That's why we're here."

I put my head in my hands. "And you're saying I'm one of those elementals now? Even though that sounds like bullshit, what if I don't want to be?"

Mary sounded offended. "You have no choice in the matter. You'll get rid of your gift only when you die." Great. Really fucking great.

"Okay. So, are you both elementals as well?"

Mary and Harold nodded. "I'm an earth elemental, and she's an air," Harold said, pointing to Mary.

"And I'm supposed to be a fire elemental?"

Mary nodded again. "Don't doubt it – you are one for sure, and you know it. You have seen what you can do. And that's why you have to learn how to control yourself. We'd like to take you to the headquarters – as we like to call it – of Aether to teach you how to do that. It's really also best for your own protection. You're not safe out here anymore, now that they know what you are."

"Who are they?"

"They don't really have a name, we just call them the dark ones. Rodriguez and his friends. There are always the bad guys in every story, the power-hungry ones. Unfortunately, we have to deal with them as well."

Harold put his hand on my shoulder. "I understand that this is a lot of information for you, but I really think you should come with us. We have a location in the Apache-Sitgreaves forest, in New Mexico."

I almost chocked on the sip of water I just took. "New Mexico?! I wouldn't be able to go to college then. Or see my friends and parents."

Mary crossed her arms. "It's either that, or you die. And you'll endanger your friends and parents with you. But really, the choice is yours."

I realized I couldn't win here. My life had changed forever, and I had to accept it. Even though I had about a million more questions, there was only one sensible thing to do at that point, and that was go with them. "Let me go talk to my mom."

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