Denki Kaminari hated Bellforest.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like the people, or the weather, or anything like that. Denki Kaminari hated Bellforest because in the nineteen years he’d been alive, not a single interesting thing had happened in this city.
The only respite Denki had was lifting, and Bellforest wasn’t even good for that. The city had a generally low trapar concentration, and everyone knew that poor trapars meant poor lifting conditions. Nonetheless, there was a single spot on the outskirts of the city where Denki could manage to catch a wave. It was a large field, with huge cliffs bursting out of the ground from a massive scub eruption that happened long before Denki was born. It was his spot. So what if it was because nobody else in Bellforest wanted to lift as badly as him, and anyone that had lifted there previously had probably moved on to greener pastures? He still felt a sense of ownership, like it was his own special place, known only to him. It was to this spot that Denki was headed; it was the weekend, and he wanted to spend as much of it as he could lifting. He made his way down his usual route, a long winding street leading out past the suburbs. A light spring breeze blew through the air, carrying with it the smell of freshly-budding plants and wet grass from the rainstorm the night before. It had been part of a larger storm pattern from the north, the result of a large explosion of trapars a few days earlier, from a large vein unearthed by diggers at a Federation scub mine. Denki had read about it in the newspaper the day before, and he had woken up at the crack of dawn to head out to lift, hoping the storm had brought some decent waves along with it. It was still early in the morning, so the usual hustle and bustle of traffic and pedestrians was mostly absent, save for a few souls headed to early Saturday shifts at work. A huge military truck rumbled past, presumably making its way to the Federation outpost a few miles outside Bellforest. Denki watched as it passed.
He stared up at the giant Tower that loomed over the whole city from its center, a massive black treelike sentinel of twisting metal. The Towers served both as the central governing bodies of each city-state, under the operation of the United Federation military, and also as massive airports. Because Bellforest was an industrial city, there was a constant flow of airships to and from the Tower. Denki wished he could just hop on one and ride off to who knows where. Anywhere, really. Anywhere but here.
He kicked a rock lying on the sidewalk, a tiny piece of rubble leftover from a nearby construction job, and watched it bounce and skitter down the pavement in front of him. Denki’s father was an electrician, and so consequently Denki was raised on the trade himself, too. He had a knack for the profession, and had been taking on clients of his own since he was fifteen. It wasn’t that he didn’t like doing it; he was certainly skilled, and the city’s large manufacturing sector meant he would always be able to find work in Bellforest. It just felt stifling, like his life was predestined to follow the same path as his father, in the same town he grew up in. The same boring town where nothing ever happened.
The rows of houses and buildings gave way to grassy plains as Denki made his way out of the suburbs and towards his lifting spot. The wet ground squelched beneath his feet as he wandered under the shade of the cliffs, idly running his fingers along his ref board. He had custom-built it from parts, and applied the reflection film himself- a difficult process, but one Denki had picked up while working with his father installing reflection panels onto a building for a client last summer. A rare job, considering that for obvious reasons, trapar-related work was not very prevalent in Bellforest. While his board certainly wasn’t the most hi-spec thing out there, it was by far the most precious thing he owned. He had even painted the bottom, spending many a sleepless night hunched over his desk sketching out different designs. Sure, his friends thought it was cool, but none of them really got it. None of them shared the same passion for lifting as him- not that he could blame them.
A flash of coruscating light suddenly shot across his vision in the distance, breaking him out of his musings. He broke into a jog, stepping out into the wide-open field and craning his neck back to stare at the sky. He cupped a hand over his eyes to block out some of the sunlight, hoping to catch another glimpse of what he had just seen.
And for the first time in the nineteen years Denki Kaminari had been alive, something interesting happened in Bellforest.
It was a girl on a ref board, the brilliant green of trapars streaking out from behind her like a comet. At times, Denki felt like trapar waves consciously avoided Bellforest. But, from the way she twisted and weaved across the sky, he could almost believe he was in the famous hills of Gearnus, where ref boarders would pilgrimage from Tower States halfway across the world to lift. Denki’s heart caught in his throat. So this is love at first sight, huh? All he could do was stand and stare. She was like a dancer on her board, or a painter, brushing the sky with graceful strokes of green. He had never seen anything like it. Was somebody like that living in Bellforest this whole time?
Eventually, after a few minutes, she dipped down to the ground, coming in to land.
“Wow, you’re amazing!” Denki hollered as she coasted to a halt, hopping off her ref board and tucking it under her arm.
As she approached him, he was able to discern that she was about his age. She was sharp , from the stylish slant of her bangs and the pointy tips of her purple pageboy cut, to her knifelike elbows, to the glare she affixed him with, seemingly sizing him up. Even her ref board was sharp, a sleek, jet-black thing with two long purple tapered fins on the rear. It looked extremely high-end. Not only that, but she was trendy, too. She wore a pair of ripped black high-waist jeans, accentuated by a deep red crop top, and a gunmetal bomber jacket with “I’VE GOT IT” printed in chunky gold letters on the back and the sleeves pushed up. The gold buckles on her lifting boots glinted in the sunlight. By comparison, Denki felt a bit boring in his windbreaker and joggers. Even his Clies were slightly muddied from walking through the wet dirt.
“Haven’t seen you around here before,” he said, throwing up a smart salute. “Name’s Denki Kaminari. What’s yours?”
“Bellforest is a big city,” she responded flatly, ignoring his question. “You probably haven’t seen a lot of people before.”
"I'd definitely remember you if I saw you, though. Which I will, since now I have." He silently cursed himself as soon as the words left his mouth. Shit. That was so lame.
She cocked an eyebrow at him. “Smooth.”
“Like sandpaper!” Denki chirped nervously, and he thought he saw the corners of her mouth twitch ever so slightly.
“Waves are pretty good today. You’ve probably got a good few hours before they fizzle out,” she said, her eyes falling to Denki’s ref board.
He lifted it in the air, leveling the tip at her. “You sticking around?” he asked.
“Nah,” she replied. “I got brunch with my parents. Just wanted to get some lifting in before then.”
Denki frowned. “Oh. Well, I don’t wanna keep you! See you around, maybe?”
She shrugged. “Yeah. Maybe.”
With that, she zipped up her jacket and began to leave. After a short distance, she stopped, turning to Denki.
“Nice board, by the way. I like the paintjob.”
Denki flashed her a thumbs up. “You think so? Did it myself!”
She gave him a thumbs up in response, before turning back around and walking off. Denki’s eyes followed her as she went, until her form was swallowed up by the cliffs’ shadows. He let out a long whistle, gazing up at the sky and watching the clouds pass.
Maybe Bellforest wasn’t so bad, after all.