Rachel Caine: Firestorm

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Rachel Caine Firestorm
  • Название:
    Firestorm
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  • Издательство:
    ROC
  • Жанр:
    sf_fantasy_city / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2006
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Firestorm: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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The genie is out of the bottle. Rogue Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin is racing to New York to warn her former colleagues of the impending apocalypse. An ancient agreement between the Djinn and the Wardens has been broken, and the furious Djinn, slaves to the Wardens for millennia, are now free of mortal control. With more than half the Wardens unaccounted for in the wake of the Djinn uprising, Joanne realizes that the natural disasters they've combated for so long were merely symptoms of restless Mother Nature fidgeting in her sleep. Now she's waking up — and she's angry.

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Firestorm

(The fifth book in the Weather Warden series)

A novel by Rachel Caine

For Jenny Griffee, NaNoNov winner of 2004,

who provided a hell of a good idea for a new class of magical being,

not to mention a slam-bang character

Acknowledgments

The author wishes to thank the following:

My absolutely incredible editor, Liz Scheier, for her patience and help during my personal crisis that fell right across the deadline for this book.

My equally incredible agent, Lucienne Diver, without whose support and encouragement none of this would be happening (or ever would have, for that matter).

The Stormchasers, all five hundred-plus of them, who are some of the most enthusiastic and wonderful folks I could ever hope to know.

My LJ friends, nearly as numerous as the Stormchasers, every single one of them a gem.

Kelley, Maria, Claire, Laurie, Katy, and Becky: the Time Turners. Goddesses all.

Independent booksellers Edge Books and Bakka-Phoenix.

ORAC, especially P. N. Elrod, Joanne Madge, and Jackie Leaf.

My husband, Cat, for supporting me at every step of the process, and being my cheering section.

Tory Fuller, who has given me immense help by vetting the weather content of these books…

Mistakes are all mine, mine, mine.

And as always, the great Joe Bonamassa, who makes this writing process so much more fun by turning out incredible music. Come back to Texas more often.

We love you.

PREVIOUSLY…

My name is Joanne Baldwin, and in case you haven't been keeping up with current events, we're in big trouble. The world, I mean. As for me, I've been in trouble since… well, always… but this is big. The Wardens—the folks who are supposed to be protecting all of you from the dangers of raging fires, floods, earthquakes, and natural disasters of all kinds—have been compromised. Slowly but surely, they've lost their way and become corrupt and ineffective.

I used to be one of them, until I acquired a Demon Mark and fell in love with a Djinn, but that's another story altogether (Ill Wind, actually, if you're taking notes). The point is that now, the Djinn—who should be the allies of the Wardens—aren't playing by the rules that have held for millennia. A Djinn named Jonathan set up those rules, and now that Jonathan's gone, all bets are off.

And the Djinn's new leader? My lover, David. What that bodes for a stable relationship is still up in the air, but confidentially? I'm worried.

The human race has one chance to keep its place at the top of the food chain: make peace with the Djinn, and that means somehow, some way, making peace with the Earth itself. Which ain't gonna be easy, because Mother Nature is pissed off.

And apparently, I may be the only one able to do something about it.

Lucky me…

Chapter One

I was thinking that the Wardens needed a new motto. The old one, the one on the seals on my diploma, was Defensor Hominem, Latin for "Defender of Mankind," but sometime in the past twenty-four hours, I'd become convinced that I had a more appropriate motto: We're So Screwed.

Yeah, that pretty much covered it.

"Duck!" I yelled as another piece of debris came flying toward us, and grabbed for whatever order I could manage in the chaos of the weather around us. Not the easiest thing in the world, considering that the whole eastern seaboard's system had been destabilized by a gigantic killer supernatural storm—now mysteriously vanquished, through no doing of mine—and all kinds of random, unpleasant, potentially fatal problems were presenting themselves.

Currently, those included a rather large and very aggressive tornado plowing its way across some unoccupied farmland and tossing pieces of broken fence ahead of it like shrapnel.

Cherise—my traveling companion, mainly because she had a kick-ass fast Mustang and I needed wheels—squeaked and hit the dirt, covering her pretty blond head with both hands. I remained standing. It wasn't heroism, exactly, more that I didn't want to dirty up what remained of my clothes. I think about things like that during the more garden-variety apocalypses.

This is what happens when someone like me—a Weather Warden—stops for a bathroom break in the middle of a crisis. And dammit, I hadn't even gotten bladder relief out of it. I had a very personal reason to hold my ground: the tornado was threatening to flatten the only roadside public restroom in forty miles.

I reached out for the wind currents and grabbed hold of the ones that would do me the most good. A sudden gust of wind, generated by a big push of heat in the right area, deflected an oncoming piece of fencepost—a nice big chunk of jagged wood, the size of a fire hydrant—off to the side, where it smacked into an unlucky wind-lashed tree, which it uprooted with a crash. Dirt flew, adding to the general chaos and mayhem.

I studied the tornado, ignoring gusts that tried to push me over; I was standing in a bubble of more or less calm air, but the wind was getting through in fits and spurts. Whatever good hair day I'd been having was a distant memory. We were into the scary fright-wig territory now.

Yes, I worry about things like hair, too. Probably more than I worry about world peace, mainly because at least I can usually control my hair.

Unable to do anything about my ruined look, focused on the tornado. They're relatively fragile things, for all the scary woo-woo attitude and screaming freight-train soundtrack. Oh, they're terrifying enough if you don't have the power to do anything about them, but luckily, I was well-equipped for this particular challenge. The twister reeled like a drunken top, right, then left, and headed straight for me with fresh enthusiasm, chewing up crops as it went. I hate it when they come straight for me. What did I ever do to them?

Cherise looked up through the gate of her fingers and shrieked, then went back to hiding her eyes. I ignored her and let myself slowly slide out of my body and up into that strange state—partly mental, partly physical, all weird—that the Wardens refer to as the aetheric plane.

It was only one of several planes of existence, but it was the highest one available to me as a human being (even one with, finally, a working set of weather powers). The world took on strange neon swirls, candy-colored sparks, and currents of power. The landscape altered around me into unknown territory.

The tornado was a glittering silver funnel, physics in its most potentially deadly form and given an instinctive menace, like a baby cobra. Fully as deadly as the more mature version, but with less experience. I had to step in before it learned where and how to strike.

I waited another few seconds, reading the patterns, then reached deep inside of the eye of the tornado and rapidly cooled the air into a heavy, sluggish mass. The energy exchange bled off in the form of a sudden burst of cable-thick lightning that snapped from the low-hanging clouds, and the wall of the tornado expanded and lost its coherence. In seconds, it was a confused mass of wind, moving too slowly to form much of a threat. It dropped its load of debris and wandered off at an angle, swirling petulantly.

"Okay," I said to Cherise as I sank back into my body and the comfortable solidity of three-dimensional space. "You can get up now. Show's over. First one to the bathroom uses all the toilet paper."

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