Today, the Blue Tiger receives the effects of some of the ripples of his previous efforts. What is going through his mind when he looks up the map of a backwater district in southwestern Pennsylvania? How do you get a free airline trip? What use does he have for rejected coal? Why will heartburn not be a problem?

Miner Matters
by Kent Lee


Unlike most "metas" I don't go out actively looking for trouble. This is why I stick to the lighted streets of New York. Besides, anyone who lives in New York after a week or so knows the basics of fighting. It's pretty necessary. This is why I'm stuck in a coal mine, looking at miners, instead of simply redistributing wealth from the unsavory elements in the city. Even worse, there's no coal in New York. I looked it up on the Net.

In fact, there seems to be no coal at all in the Tri-State area. I struck a lucky break, when it turned out there was coal in Pennsylvania. At least I wouldn't have to go too far. I searched for active coal mining sites in Pennsylvania. I learned more about coal mining acid-drainage and coal pillar permits than I really needed to know.

I chose my target, some company named Purco Coal, Inc. Its location was in White, Saltlick Township, and Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The report I retrieved from the Net was about six years ago, so I didn't know if it was still in operation or not. It's operations included mining bituminous coal. I also learned that it was a soft type of coal, compared to anthracite, which was hard coal. A little digging, and I knew the mine was still in operation. I did this in my college. No one really pays attention to what you're writing. Besides, what interest do people usually have in boring reports? I tried to get directions to the site from the Net. I wound up on the Web page for Fayette County Pennsylvania. Anyone will tell you, good detective work is mostly slogging through paperwork and clues. The witness who breaks down at the stand, and the vital piece of evidence are more prevalent in stories than reality.

Fayette County had an airport, but the real find was a Fayette Township Map, showing the location of the mines from above. I even got the scanning frequency of the Connellsville Airport of weather, approaches, and departures. I got the bus directions to Fayette County from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well. I doubt I'd find any metas there. Actually, I'd doubt I'd find anybody except miners at the town. I chose levitation, speed, and invisibility. Looking up the air flights, the time would take one hour and twenty-five minutes, non-stop. The flight was 133 US Airways. Terminal was not given. I suppose that legitimate ticket holders would know. I used speed and flight to get to the airport. Once there, I faded out of sight. With my speed, I was able to locate the correct gate for US Airways 133. Evading the security detector by simply jumping over it, I stood invisible, bracing myself with levitation.

Isn't technology wonderful?

******

A half-hour later, I jumped off at the correct stop. I became another one of the crowd, as I chose my fourth power, shifting. I became one of those indigenous miner types. After a brief look at my map, I folded it up, and hung it up. I looked around, checking for anyone. I then shot up into the air, with levitation and speed, restoring invisibility and releasing speed when I hung in the air.

There was an unfolding of space near me. My powers boosted. A spirit had come to do battle.

"So, this is the one." What looked like a human with flickering eyes of flame accompanied a giant chicken and a wall of stone on legs?

"It took you three days to find this guy even with your powers." The giant chicken rebuked the walking wall. I had no idea what the chicken was. The walking wall I knew. It's one of those Japanese spirits. It has powers to manipulate space on roads, often gathering energy by making the road shorter or longer. It can of course, use it's powers in different ways, such as going through the space to another or view someone on the road with their powers. If I were going to hit it, I would get a broken hand. The walking wall was made of actual stone. The humans with the blazing eyes preferred being called fire devils, but they were actually fire spirits. I knew they were supernatural by the way my powers had suddenly boosted.

The three of them attacked without warning. The giant chicken let loose with a barrage of feathers. I dodged them. The fact that the feathers were embedded inches into the rock behind me was not comforting. The walking wall opened a portal right behind me, leading to a potentially very messy death on the German autobahn. While these walls can manipulate space, they can only do it on roads, meaning they can't affect organics. The biological life form has to wander in. That didn't stop the walking wall from creating a portal beneath my feet. My levitation powers stopped me from falling.

"Aren't villains supposed to announce when they attack?" I ask incredulously.

"Leads to capture," the fire spirit answered, while hurling a curling wave of fire at me. I called upon the Dog. I emerged from the impromptu conflagration relatively unscathed. I telekinetically seized loose objects all round us, we were in the middle of a mine, after all, and started swirling rocks around me. I'm not sure if I can handle dirt. Portals opened and swallowed my rocks. Then the portals closed. The giant chicken fired some sort of energy blast from its beak. Being the fact that Dog and Rooster were my two powers being used simultaneously, the energy blast did no perceivable harm. I couldn't let go of the Rooster, which was the only thing keeping me from falling down a hole into somewhere I'm quite sure I did not wish to go. I couldn't let go of the Dog, which was all that was keeping me alive between the chicken's energy attacks, and the fire spirits' curling waves of fire.

The answer was entirely too simple when it came to me. I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it. I seized the giant chicken telekinetically, and threw it into the walking wall from behind. I smoothly sidestepped behind the dimensional hole, and the walking wall, and giant chicken fell through the hole. I heard a muffled thump, a squawk, and a crash. The dimensional hole closed. The fire spirit eyed me.

"I suppose you think that you win. Internal Inferno!" I look at it, waiting for it to do something. There's a slight sensation of tingling inside me, but it only remains a tingling for the next five seconds, and then it runs into the power of the Dog. I did not know the Dog power protected me from internal energy attacks inside me as well.

I grinned, realizing the flame spirit had absolutely no other mode of attack besides fire. The spirit realized it as well, vanishing in a burst of flame. The resulting fireball washed right over me. I had planned well for today. My classes were late tomorrow, and I had spent something like three hours on the jaunt of mine for coal. Finally, I took the rejected coal material. I looked it up. Not every bit of coal is good coal. Rejected coal is coarse coal refuse and I took a sample out from the mine. There were another four hours, as I flew back home and got lost a couple of times. I finally had the coal needed to crush into diamonds, except for the fact that my four-power limit had been reached.

******

A reporter stands behind the tree. Her silent camera had paid off, and she had great shots of a meta who had showed up in the Pennsylvania backwaters. She had good shots of that miner flying, emerging unhurt from fire attacks, the dimensional holes, the giant chicken firing razor sharp feathers, and purple energy rays. She collected as many samples of the feathers as she could find. All she needed now was a newspaper to sell it to.

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