JENNA: So if I channel the current through this resistor, that will activate the servos in the arm mechanism. But once this lightning leaves my body I can’t manipulate it anymore so all I really control is the initial voltage, which of course I can’t actually control yet, other than choosing between “a lot” and “a whole lot” so… I’m screwed, aren’t I?

 

ELLIE: Don’t beat yourself up, Jenna. I think you’ve got a pretty good grasp of the basics. Try it again. Make it charge forward and throw a punch.

 

JENNA: Okay, here goes. [lightning sound, followed by clanks, ending in one loud clank as the automaton loses its footing and collapses.]

 

JENNA: I’m doomed.

 

LUCAS: Nah. You’re just overdoing it still. By the way you can maintain control of lightning after it leaves your body- it’s just a high-level technique we don’t have time to teach you before tomorrow afternoon. But these automata are designed to respond to variations in voltage with different preset movements. So let's focus on controlling your output.

 

JENNA: I feel like that’s all we’ve been focusing on all week. With you and Ms. Harper. And I’m not any closer to doing that than I was the first day.

 

PEM: That’s not surprising.

 

LUCAS: Whoah! How long have you been standing there?

 

PEM: Long enough to get frustrated just watching you. You’re trying to solve this like an electrodynamics problem when it's a thaumaturgy problem. 

 

JENNA: Thaumawhat?

 

PEM: [Deep sigh] The theory of magic. It really should be a required course instead of an elective. Jenna’s building up too much magic. Shooting lightning is the only way she’s learned to release it, so as soon as the magic sees a path out of her it turns into lightning then it does what lightning does and seeks a path to the ground. If you want Jenna to be able to regulate the lightning, she needs to find a different way of releasing magic so it doesn’t build up like that.

 

LUCAS: So you’re saying if she fires a big bolt of lightning at the very beginning of the duel she’ll be able to control her voltage for the rest of the fight?

 

PEM: Not what I was saying at all but that might work. I was thinking she could let off a lot of excess magic by manipulating magnetic fields.

 

JENNA: We can do that?

 

ELLIE: You can. And Lucas probably. I’m never going to be able to muster that kind of power.

 

LUCAS: There’s no way I can teach her that before tomorrow. And even if I could, Ms. Harper really wouldn’t want me to. 

 

JENNA: Why not?

 

LUCAS: With your current level of control? There’s a lot of metal furniture everywhere in this school. You could do a lot of damage.

 

PEM: Then use one of your “big ‘ol bolts” I guess. Glad we’ll be watching from behind a dampening cage.

 

[Electromancy theme plays]

NARRATOR: Electromancy, created by Nathan Comstock. Episode 4- Physical Education. Be advised - this episode contains fantasy violence and electrocution.

 

[footsteps; an armful of metal rods clattering onto a table.]

 

DEVON: Will these work?

 

BRYNN: Hmmm. No way to know for sure but they ought to. We’ll need to weigh the bottoms somehow to make sure they stay up. We can use sandbags- should be no trouble to steal those from the athletics department - ugh that’s gonna make them heavy. Good thing I’ve been working out. Where did you get these anyway?

 

DEVON: Had to call in a favor. There’s some guys on maintenance who used to work for my dad. We need to return them when we’re finished, by the way.

 

BRYNN: Lord Lancook’s influence extends even to magecorps. Good to know.

 

DEVON: They’re school custodians, Brynn. We’re not talking about highly placed agents. Did my dad get them hired here to keep an eye on me? Probably. Which means whatever happens tomorrow, he’s certainly gonna hear about my involvement in it. I’m not thrilled with that.

 

BRYNN: Don’t worry about it. Helping your friend isn’t suspicious, and he already knows I’m your friend and that I’m a pain in the Dean’s ass.

 

DEVON: *scoffs* I guess. 

 

BRYNN: You’re still not thrilled about this duel.

 

DEVON: Just not sure why you think beating up a girl who learned magic just a few days ago is going to make anyone want to join your revolution. And that’s assuming she doesn’t just fry you.

 

BRYNN: It’s about proving that stripes aren’t everything. 

 

DEVON: Then you should have had me challenge her. You have just as many stripes as she does.

 

BRYNN: Would you have done it?

 

DEVON: No.

 

BRYNN: Well there you go. 

 

[Door creaks. Footsteps.]

 

BRYNN: Well, look who decided to join us. Change your mind about spying?

 

PEM: No. 

 

BRYNN: Want to spar then? Let me test out my plan against a real lightning mage?

 

PEM: Not particularly.

 

BRYNN: Then what are you doing here?

 

PEM: Well I said I wasn’t going to help either of you, but I ended up helping Jenna a little so now I feel like I have to do something for you because I lied.

 

[DEVON laughs.]

 

PEM: What?

 

DEVON: Nothing. I just admire your sense of morality, that’s all. It’s... consistent. Weird, but consistent.

 

BRYNN: So what are you going to do?

 

PEM: I’m not telling you anything about their preparation because that would be wrong. But if you want me to try and shock you to see if those improvised lightning rods you’re building actually work I can do that.

 

BRYNN: Yeah, that’d be nice. Devon since we don’t have any sandbags yet, you wanna maybe freeze these into place?

 

[We hear the ice sound effect for the first time, along with the sound of the metal poles hitting the ground]

 

DEVON: And I’m going to leave the room now. Just in case it doesn’t work.

 

[footsteps and door.]

 

BRYNN: Okay, Pem. Shoot me.

 

[Lightning sound]

 

BRYNN: All right! That’s what I’m talking about.

 

[Wind and other outdoor sounds. We hear some footsteps, followed by flapping wings, a bird screech and a magical whoosh. JENNA gives a startled cry.]

 

BRUCE: Ms. Donovan?

 

JENNA: At some point I’m going to stop thinking you’re just a normal bird. I swear, in a week or two…

 

BRUCE: It’s okay. You got a lot to get used to. So, how’re you feeling about tomorrow?

 

JENNA: I don’t know. I- why do you care?

 

BRUCE: Hey now. I told your dad I’d look out for you. I don’t make promises I’m not prepared to keep. So if I can do anything to help…

 

JENNA: You’ve fought in a lot of these magic duels? 

 

BRUCE: I wouldn’t say a lot, but I did some sparring in my day. I had some moves. 

 

JENNA: Eagle moves?

 

BRUCE And bear moves, and stag moves…

 

JENNA: Did you ever worry about going too far? As a bear, for example, just… losing control? Really, like, seriously hurting someone?

 

BRUCE: There’s healers on site. If things go really wrong… wait, so you’re more worried about hurting Brynn than being hurt? 

 

JENNA: Well, yeah. Rian…

 

BRUCE: That was the boy you…

 

JENNA: Yeah. It wasn’t a good feeling.

 

BRUCE: I get that. I think every mage has probably had their own version of that moment. But if I can offer some advice? Worry about yourself. They won’t let you kill Brynn. However much the Dean might want to. 

 

JENNA: That’s good to know.

 

BRUCE: Don’t underestimate her. Two years ago we thought we had a gremlin infestation… no one’s been able to prove it, but I swear she was behind it. 

 

JENNA: She snuck in the gremlins?

 

BRUCE: I don’t think there were gremlins! I think Brynn was having her little crew steal from the kitchens, and the faculty lounge, and the library, while she made illusory gremlins and blamed the theft on them.

 

JENNA: If she’s as much of a troublemaker as everyone says, why hasn’t she been expelled yet?

 

BRUCE: *pause* It’s complicated. People like you and Brynn- 10s, 11s, 12s- you can’t just be expelled. It would be irresponsible to release that much power back into the world without training. Plus there’s the magecorps - they put pressure on the school- they have their own plans, for the big guns. So the line- it’s further for you than it is for someone like Ellie. And Brynn always knows how to stay just on her side of it. You understand?

 

JENNA: I think I do. Thanks for talking to me.

 

BRUCE: Yeah. Any time. Get some sleep okay. You got a big day tomorrow.

 

[Fanfare, sounds of a crowd milling about. Some exciting music.]

 

ANNOUNCER: Welcome students! Welcome faculty! Welcome townspeople- wait how did you get here? Go away! Just kidding. Do we ever have a show for you! Brynn Tessek has challenged newcomer Jenna Donovan to a duel of honor! Brynn says the offense is “representing and benefiting from an unfair and oppressive system!” Which I have to admit in all my years as your duel commentator is one I’ve never heard before. Seriously usually these things are about insults, or kissing someone else’s boyfriend or girlfriend. But it’s sure to be an exciting fight, whatever the lightning mage is…. “charged” with!

 

[Audience groans.]

 

ANNOUNCER: Sorry couldn’t help myself.

 

LUCAS: You okay?

 

JENNA: Yeah. I got this.

 

ELLIE: You’re gonna kill it! Please don't kill them.

 

ANNOUNCER: The rules are simple. The duel ends when one combatant is either incapacitated or leaves the field. They will each have five minutes to set up their equipment, which has been cleared by the referees in accordance with the rules set out by the international dueling coalition. When the time is up, a bell will ring, the curtain will rise, and the duel will begin.

 

DEVON: Need anything else? *telepathically* Besides reading her mind and feeding you her moves?

 

BRYNN: *telepathically* you’re so freaking noble. Where was that when you cheated your way onto the Pazik team?

 

DEVON: *ignoring her* Good luck out there. Kick some ass, I guess. .

 

[the sound of a restless crowd transitions us to a different part of the scene]

 

DEAN: Leonard, Bruce, Katya - mind if I join you?

 

LEONARD: Of course not.

 

KATYA: By all means.

 

BRUCE: I mean, we weren’t goin’ to say “no” to the Dean, were we?

 

DEAN: That’s what I like about you Bruce- you’re never afraid to speak your mind. 

 

BRUCE: Why would I be, you can read it anyway.

 

DEAN: That’s my man. What’s your feeling on the duel today?

 

BRUCE: Leonard and I were just about to place a friendly wager.

 

LEONARD: 200 lekkin on Brynn.

 

BRUCE: Don’t know why your thowin’ yer money away. You saw what Donovan did to that machine.

 

DEAN: *Telepathically* Veering dangerously close to revealing privileged information, friend.

 

BRUCE: I just… have a good feeling about the girl.

 

KATYA: Well, as the person whose been training Ms. Donovan, I’ll take a piece of that action.

 

LEONARD: Betting against your own student, Katya?

 

KATYA: Only because I haven’t had time to properly teach her anything.

 

BRUCE: Alright sure. 200 from you too. Guess it's my lucky day. What about you, Dean? You want a piece of this action?

 

DEAN: *laughs* I think it best I just see how this plays out.

 

[more crowd noise]

 

[different, more actiony music plays]

 

JENNA: Ok, Jenna, you can do this. You’re stronger than her, you’re more clever than anyone is giving you credit for, and you are not at fault here. Just gotta stay focused.

 

[A bell rings. Sound of a curtain lifting.]

 

ANNOUNCER: And we’re off! It looks like Donovan’s brought a J-model combat automaton into the ring. Is this, perhaps, the very same automaton used by Lucas Burns in last year's semi-finals? I think it is. Tessek, meanwhile has brought…. who knows? Her entire side of the field is shrouded in an impenetrable magical fog. What a great idea for a spectator sport, Brynn! I have to say I’m a little disappointed after the showmanship you displayed last year…

 

BRYNN: Wait for it, wait for it…

 

[loud electrical shock noise]

 

ANNOUNCER: Alright, after an impressive opening salvo from Donovan the fog is lifted and Tessek is… everywhere. There’s five of her on the field, surrounding Donovan.

 

[Crowd cheers]

 

BRYNN: [five of her voice speaking in unison] You can do better than that, Jenna.

 

JENNA: Dammit… which one? Ok. Doesn’t matter what I can see what matters is where the lightning… goes.

 

[five smaller jolts of lightning]

 

ANNOUNCER: This is what we come here for folks. Donovan’s shooting each copy, and each one vanishes in a puff of smoke! Where’s Tessek? Who knows!

 

[sound of a body slam followed by more electric blasts.]

 

BRYNN: Rah!

 

JENNA: Augh!

 

ANNOUNCER: There she is! Or there she was for a second. Donovan is down and couldn’t even get a good hit in before Tessek disappeared again. And this is why you don’t mess with the champion.

 

JENNA: Ok, she went that way. Keep your cool Jenna. Something’s throwing off the blasts. Just got to figure out what, and stop it, and she’s toast.

 

[another body slam, but this time the two girls strain against one another.]

 

ANNOUNCER: It’s hard to tell for sure because she’s still invisible, but it looks like Tessek went to try and knock Donovan out of the ring and Donovan caught her.

 

[lightning blast]

 

JENNA: Why… aren’t.. you..

 

BRYNN: Rubber gloves princess. I came prepared.

 

JENNA: RRRR… Agh!

 

ANNOUNCER: And she’s away.

 

[lightning sound, clanking]

 

JENNA: I gotta figure out what’s throwing off my aim...

 

ANNOUNCER: Donovan, still on her feet, has powered up the automaton. It’s charging, but not in the direction Tessek was last seen. What are you doing, Jenna?

 

JENNA: If that’s where the lightning went…

 

[The automaton crashes into one of the makeshift lightning rods, knocking it over.]

 

ANNOUNCER: Amazing! It looks like Tessek brought in some lightning catchers under the cover of the fog. But Donovan’s taken one down!

 

[more lightning blasts, more clanking]

 

JENNA: One down, how many to go? 

 

[crowd cheers]

 

ANNOUNCER: Alright, looks like Tessek’s decided if she can’t hide her lightning rods, she’ll spin the field!

 

JENNA: Gods… dammit! 

ANNOUNCER: Good luck remembering where the one you took out was!

 

JENNA: Okay, Jenna, be smart. If you can’t trust your eyes…

 

ANNOUNCER: I can’t tell if Tessek is trying to disorient Donovan or make her vomit. I’m getting dizzy just looking at it.

 

JENNA: Okay, that’s right. Close your eyes, who needs ‘em? The gap in the tower is right behind me. Just listen. Listen. Why is she so loud? Why is the crowd so loud. Can’t hear…Gotcha!

 

[Sound of footsteps running, as she says “Gotcha”, Jenna steps out of the way, then turns around and zaps Brynn, who lets out a cry as she flies out of the ring and collides with Jenna’s automaton.)

 

LUCAS: Yes! Yes! That’s how you do it!

 

ANNOUNCER: I can’t believe it! Tessek is out of the ring! The duel is over! Donovan wins! The healers have hit the field, and they’re giving a thumbs up. She’s okay, but she’ll have one hell of a headache in the morning.

 

Electromancy is written, produced and directed by Nathan Comstock. This episode was sound designed by Tal Minear with music by Thomas Dwyer. It starred Azul Nova as Jenna, Austin Hendricks as Ellie, Sena Bryer as Pem, Aubrey Poppleton as Lucas, Joe Kearney as Bruce McCray, Leslie Gideon as Brynn, Tuesday Orion Ibert as Devon, Zachary Robb as Dr. Leonard Sumner, Karim Kronfli as Dean Ventrassi, Kira Apple as Katya Harper, and Andrea Smith as the announcer. You can find out more about us at www.electromancypod.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please write a review on Apple podcasts or tell your friends about us! We’ll be back with another episode in 2 weeks.

 

BRUCE: Well, if you all don’t have the money, you can pay me tomorrow… What are you looking so happy about, Dean?

 

DEAN: Just nice to see Ms. Donovan progressing so quickly, that’s all. I think she’ll fit in perfectly around here…