The Bolts

By William J. Keith (


He wasn't always the techno-geek, you know. It's just that his Word has been practically taken over by the taming and application of "lightning" as a servant of Man. This is fine, since like the other elemental Words, it's not the physical aspect that needs support so much as the divine connotations, and the advent of electricity pretty much has most of it down pat.

However, there are places in the world that aren't quite as wired as Austin or San Francisco. Heck, there are places in the world that aren't as electrically powered as Antalaha, Madagascar. In these places, the technology and the electricity fall back, and nature creeps closer. Here, the lightning is more than a caged tool. It is one of the most fearsome and dangerous reminders of the power of Nature. Here a small society in Jean's ranks, the Bolts, venture where their brothers rarely tread.

Angels assigned to the Bolts are always volunteers. Few wish to take on such isolated tasks so different from the focus of most of their companions, but every now and then an angel gets a hankering, and has (or earns) the qualifications to serve Lightning in a manner reminiscent of the older ways.

The qualifications are fairly straightforward. The angel should express an interest in joining the Bolts and supporting the elemental nature of Jean's Word. He should have the Generator and Ofanite of Lightning Attunements definitely, and at least one of the Songs of Lightning, preferably the Celestial. Since these are Secret, having them is a reasonable indication of Jean's trust and hence the angel's personal fortitude. Angels who don't already have it are given the Celestial Song of Lightning upon entrance. (An otherwise promising candidate without any of the Songs can get this one upon entrance and thus fulfill the remaining requirement.)

The purposes of the Bolts are many-fold:

  1. The Bolts provide support (which is needed, albeit minimally) for the elemental nature of Jean's Word.

  2. The Bolts extend Lightning's organization into areas its standard operations would normally be rather blind to.

  3. The Bolts support Lightning in physical areas and mental connotations that Jean's common opponent, Technology, is ill-equipped to deal with, and can thus provide support from unexpected directions.

  4. The Bolts are fearsome fighters, always a solid plus in the War.

  5. The Bolts monitor and study natural lightning activity, a worthwhile academic endeavor in its own right.

In line with these purposes, the Bolts have a number of standard jobs.

Serving the elemental portion of Jean's Word means that the Bolts work well with Archangels that typically have less use for gadgets, such as Jordi and Novalis. They also have a knack for working with the other elements, and get along *very* well with Fire, to whom they are similar both in elemental nature and connotations of inspiration.

The Bolts keep an eye on ethereal activity, looking for worship of gods of thunder and lightning and making sure that such gods don't get too active on the corporeal plane. Others, if noticeably disruptive, may also confront them.

When Lightning deems it time to introduce a new technology to an undeveloped area, the Bolts are often the ones who "pioneer" for the organization, getting infrastructure like a power grid set up and helping with basic education of the populace. (This duty was much more common in the early years of the century when power grids were just being developed; these days, even the remotest of nations has at least some access to power and knowledge of power grid maintenance.) In addition, since even relatively low-tech items can have substantially disruptive effects on isolated low-tech areas, the Bolts are especially watchful for demons of Technology who may be looking for some easy marks.

When you're a demon of Technology, it's often hard to imagine why anyone would want to flee to a powerless shack in a remote corner of a third-world nation, and it's even harder to track them on their way there, which makes the Bolts a perfect refuge when somebody seriously needs to stay on Earth, but away from Technologists. And if the demons do find someone or something the Bolts are protecting, said demons tend to twitch when they talk about the experience after they get out of Trauma -- as if they can still feel the shocks.

Lastly, and this is where the Bolts still share some common ground with the rest of Lightning's organization, they do undertake the academic study of lightning in nature. They can offer tips on making a vehicle or building well-insulated and protected against lightning strikes, identify dangerous or mild lightning weather, and discuss natural electrical phenomena(tune an AM radio to an empty station during a rainstorm sometime, and then ask a physicist or a meteorologist about "whistling").

Other jobs are certainly possible. Any servant of Lightning will tell you that he understands what a Bolt feels and why he does his job; the Bolts merely take their inherent nature and have decided to express this particular portion of it strongly.


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