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  1. The Morrigan was in a black mood. Einherjar wasn’t sure why, but she was not happy. Since her happiness usually factored into whether or not people got hurt, he was concerned. A casual trip by her room hadn’t helped clear up the confusion. If anything, it had made it worse. She’d been bent over a piece of paper on the floor, scrawling something with a pencil gripped in her hand. Her young face was screwed up into a fierce scowl of concentration and she was laboring over the note as brutally as he’d ever seen her work on anything. She’d write and write, then snarl and rip up the paper, clearly frustrated but refusing all help. When anyone came close, she had flattened herself over her papers and snarled to be left alone – well, she said, “No! Go!” but that was typical eloquence for the feral. Miner had attempted to find out what she was working on by offering to throw away the shredded discards. Morri had railed at her wordlessly and then started to eat the papers. Einherjar had stepped in then, shooing Miller away and assuring Morri that she could just put the papers through the office shredder when she was ready to throw them away. He definitely didn’t want her to think of her mouth as a safe place to discard things she didn’t want people to find. That had allowed him a covert peek at what she was working on, the ex-Elite ordered her left alone. He asked a few questions, and gradually found himself speaking to Ausrine. When she told him about the conversation she’d had with Morri, the puzzle was solved and he went about his day, pleased at this turn of events. Six hours later, as night was falling on the Congo, Kazuo heard a tap at his door. Expecting a ladyfriend’s arrival, he opened the door with a smile. That smile disappeared when he saw Morri. “Whadda you want?” he gruffly asked her, even as his gut clenched up. The feral hadn’t said two words to him since their meeting, but she’d stared at him a lot and he was waiting for another attack. Instead, she thrust out a piece of paper. Kazuo slowly took it; the moment he had a grip on it, she was gone, vanishing in a blaze of speed. Scowling, the Elite peered at the labored scrawl covering the page:
  2. Aberrant: 200X - Anniversary

    Ryusei had been so busy as of late, he'd had to force himself to slow down. Katya as well was occupied. Still a day was set aside for the two of them to spend together, free of business, or anyone else. He smiled waiting for her to arrive at his home. They'd planned to start early, about ten am local time for him, and he was anxious. His watch chirped. She'd bought it for him, even though he always knew the time. "Alright, where are you now I wonder..." A day in tokyo, a picnic, then a show, maybe the bars, finally home for a nightcap. That was the basic plan...
  3. A cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania A woman walks purposefully between rows of tombstones, looking neither right nor left; her eyes distant yet very focused. She is, to all appearances (even ones relying on so-called ‘quantum senses’) a baseline, but even in this age of nova demigods she is extraordinarily beautiful, if not quite superhumanly so. The difference, however, is slight enough that a few of the other mourners she passes on her way through the cemetery wonder to themselves if she isn’t, perhaps, a nova herself. Whether the woman is or not (perhaps she is simply ‘dorming’, as they call it), she is beautiful, and her presence in the graveyard is like an angelic visitation. She carries a small bouquet of snowball bush flowers with her as she walks. They were her mother’s favorite. The sky above her is overcast today – that non-color that doesn’t quite qualify as white, gray, bruised, or anything really. It is just the color of clouds that have forgotten what they are. As the senile clouds descend they push aside the sky below them, causing a cold wind to blow that makes the woman’s hair float about her head in strands and curls, and that causes the snowball bushes in her hands to flutter and thrum like the wings of many troubled butterflies. The woman, her beauty ethereal against the drabness all around her, pushes some wayward curls of her long auburn hair out of her eyes with one hand and there she sees it: her target, a large headstone, obviously marking the final place of rest for more than a single person. Two persons is likeliest. Picture her as she reaches the headstone and stops before it, like a person who has reached the end of their endurance, not their journey. See her face and the expression on it as she drops gracefully to her knees before the gravestone that has captured all her attention until it has become her entire world in this moment. Imagine, if you can, the weight of the bouquet of snowball flowers in her hands as she places it on the well-trimmed grass before the headstone in place of a burden she cannot let go of. Read with her the words engraved into the cold surface of the gravestone: Here lie Daina Vasiliauskiene and Kastytis Vasiliauskas, inseparable in death as they were in life. They were the very best parents a daughter could ask for. Turn your attention away now, for Aušrine Vasiliauskiute is crying, and it is unseemly to stare at those in mourning.
  4. Yeah, it's rare that anyone can say they had their life turn upside down in a positive way. Well I can say so. My time training with Nippontai and becoming an auxiliary was at first a disappointment, but now I've been to a lot of different governmental and corporate organizations that needed my hands-on approach to their technological needs. My work with the Japan Coast Guard was particularly rewarding testing their new vehicles for search and rescue work, and looking over the fleet of aircraft owned by JAL for safety issues was a brilliant start to my new career. But, in between all this, it's boring. How's life been for everyone else? Oh, for the non-japanese speakers, Doryoku translated can mean "Endeavor" or "Effort". I like Endeavor personally.
  5. Aberrant: 200X - Twin City Duet

    Sean arched down through the clouds, grinning as he confirmed that he could read a map. Minneapolis’s City Hall was below him, rapidly coming into focus as Sean finished the last leg of his trip. The young nova was a little tired; he’d used a lot of Q getting here, and getting through customs in the Keys had been a pain in the ass. The US officials had given him a lot of stink eye and made a lot of unpleasant noises, but they’d let him through. His red hair glistened with a healthy sheen as Sean flew in, dropping onto the sidewalk before the building. It was a forbidding place, though the style was familiar to someone who had lived on the east coast most of his life. The dark bricks rose to copper roofs, now green with tarnish. An honest-to-god clock was in the tallest tower. The grounds were nice, though the heat was a little annoying. After the cooler backwards winter climate of South Africa, the muddy heat of the Midwest in high summer was a bit much. He hadn’t notice while in mid-flight but now it hit full-force. Well, Ensign Minneapolis said to meet her here, Sean thought, looking around and tugging his black eufiber t-shirt straight. His jeans hugged his body comfortably, down to his steel-toed boots where a flare in the fabric allowed for the tops of the shoes to fit under with ease. I’ve heard she’s hot – hope she is. While he was willing to play nice and make friends, he would enjoy this a lot more if his guide was as interesting as the scenery. Clearing his throat and nodding at the kid staring at him, Sean took a seat on a bench and waited.
  6. Between them on the table there lay a piece of inarizushi. Deep-fried tofu, cooked crisp, forming a pouch filled with sushi rice inside. It had been dipped in soy sauce, rolled with wasabi and lay on the table, a prize to be claimed. Reese clicked his chopsticks and poised them to strike. He licked his lips, and looked across the table. Around them Kiku, Hanako and Takako were eating. Though Reese suspected Hanako had stopped, given he could hear her trying not to giggle. Reese and Fuk had finished their meals already, their saki cups and rice bowls sitting empty before them. Fuk Si Yi clicked his own chopsticks. He was a handsome chinese Nova, with a grin that could shatter hearts, wearing a flawless black suit over a white undershirt. China's favourite martial arts star. He favoured Reese with one of his famous grins. "You should know, my friend, that the hero always wins." "I have a movie franchise of my own," Reese said watching for the momentary twitch of muscle that would signify the beginning of their contest. "I have seven." His grin widened. Fuk's chopsticks snapped down, and Reese intercepted with his own. He grabbed the inarizushi, but Fuk slapped it out of his grip. They blurred as they tried to catch it on its way back to the plate, their chopsticks clacking like bokken, but never clashing with such force that they would snap. Reese balanced the inarizushi on one of his chopsticks and fought off both of Fuk's with the other, flicking it back and forward so fast that Fuk's short hair began to grow windblown. But when Reese tried to bring the prize back, Fuk managed to flick the inzarizushi and it went spinning off across the table. Kiku let out a gasp, but Fuk snapped the tofu out of the air before it had a chance to mar her shirt. "Boys!" Takako said, though her words fell on deaf ears. This contest would end with tasty treats for one and embarassed defeat for the other. Hanako giggled. Reese closed his chopsticks around Fuk's wrist and moved it into the center of the table between them. They locked eyes. Fuk's were dark and intense now, boring into his, full of challenge. Fuk yanked his arm back. Reese switched his grip to grab the tofu and they paused, both holding on. They twisted in opposite directions at the same time, the inarizushi burst and rice went flying into the air. Y "Boys!" Takako shouted. Even as she let out a frustrated sigh, Reese and Fuk's chopsticks flashed like lightning, snatching up every single grain of rice, depositing it into the empty rice bowls before them. They each snapped up a piece of inarizushi shell and returned it to their side of the table. Fuk Si Yi stroked two fingers over his pointed black beard. "Not quite satisfactory." Reese shrugged. "Sometimes the best a hero can hope for is a pyrrhic victory." "Oh very droll." Laughing, Reese looked around the table. Kiku was sitting, mouth agape, watching them. Hanako giggled, unable to control herself. Takako glared at them both. "You two are incorrigable! You could have," she threw her hands up in the air. "Novas!" Fuk Si Yi pressed his fist to his palm and bowed to her. "There was no danger, Mrs. Kincaid. But you must forgive us. Your inarizushi is quite irresistable. Wars have been fought over less. Reese?" He popped his piece of tofu into his mouth and chewed. "Slight exagerration, maybe." Takako glared at him. Reese looked away. "Oh look, an obvious distraction!"
  7. Aberrant: 200X - Cold Case

    June 25, 2011 Oshiro Yusuke loved his job because he got to help people. On paper, he solved crimes and fought bad guys; kept the peace in the busy streets of Tokyo. But when it came to it, he felt truly content when the downtrodden had peace or justice because of his efforts; preferably both. He couldn’t deny that his true love was helping others in whatever form that was. He suspected that this was a trait he’d inherited from his parents, passed down to him through a bizarre alchemy of genetics and socialization. His parents were both giving, helpful people; his given name, Yusuke, meant ‘to give help’. But ever since this case had landed on his desk, he’d felt anything but helpful to the quiet woman sitting on the bench next to him. Oshiro stole a glance at Delayha Jenings. The black woman was staring at the floor, barely appearing to breathe. She was lost in her own world, probably one of fearful worry and grief. Oshiro thought of his two children and mused that nine months was a very, very long time to have no news of your child. His heart ached for her silent pain. Another black-haired Westerner walked by their bench and Oshiro compared him to the picture on his phone. Jenings looked too, proving that she wasn’t completely lost to her surroundings. Though black-haired westerners weren’t that common in Japan, in the bustling Narita Airport, they were far more frequent. But this wasn’t the man they were waiting for, and both of them relaxed. “It’s hard to think that this is the last place I knew where she was,” Jenings murmured softly, breaking the silence. Oshiro wasn’t comfortable with replying, so he merely nodded. Jenings had been quite composed for an American but occasionally, she reminded the Tokyo detective that she was definitely was a Westerner. Most Japanese people would have borne their grief publically in silence; they would have said nothing. Oshiro, despite his own discomfort, wished he had something to say to her. Her sorrow was a painful thing, particularly to another parent. Another man appeared in the flow of the crowd; this one hesitated and looked at his phone when he spotted them. Oshiro and Jenings did the same, and all three realized at the same moment that these were the people they were supposed to meet. The detective and mother rose to their feet; the man turned toward them. He was massive; imposing was the word that came to Oshiro’s mind. The Japanese detective wasn’t a small man by his culture’s standards, but compared to the large man striding toward them, he was tiny. Even Jenings was a littler taller as he was, but she was dwarfed by the black-haired giant. He had a frame to match his height, wide and solid. His eyes were just as dark as his hair, especially in the shadows under his brow from the overhead lighting. It was one thing to hear that Misha “Nochlev” Rakov was gigantic; another to see it. “Detective Oshiro? Ms. Jenings?” His voice was as big as he was, filling the concourse despite the low volume of his tone. He offered a hand that could palm Oshiro’s face, but his eyes were fill of benign goodwill. Had Oshiro not seen a video of the man roaring like a lion as he made an arrest for Team Tomorrow, he would have believed he was only a gentle giant. “Yes,” Jenings said, taking the hand first. She was smiling, hopeful. Oshiro prayed that her hope would be rewarded today. “I’m not sure what your title is? Officer? Utopian?” “I am out of uniform, please call me Misha,” the big man said with a smile. “If we’re being informal, then I’m Delayha,” Jenings said. She’d said the same to Oshiro, but like Nochlev, she wasn’t close enough to him for him to use the familiar names. She seemed to accept it as an idiosyncrasy of his, for she was smiling as she said, “And this is Detective Oshiro; he prefers to use our last names, and for us to use his.” “Then it shall be so,” Nochlev said, his bearing expansive with goodwill. He looked around and then asked, “Is this where I shall begin?” “Yes, this is the gate that my daughter disembarked from,” Jenings said, swallowing as she always did when she spoke of her missing child. “But do you need to put your sit down or something? Get your bags maybe?” “I am not tired,” Nochlev replied. The heavily sinewed man didn’t look like a marathon could tire him out, much less a twelve-hour flight. “I have no bags; I return when I am finished. Now, may I see a picture of your daughter? To refresh my memory.” Jenings offered a picture and watched as Nochlev took it, studying it for a moment. Then he handed it back. “I will need some help. I will not see the real world, if this works, but the past. I may walk into someone. Please try to keep the path clear for me.” Both he and Jenings nodded; Oshiro was privately relieved to have something to do. “I will describe what I see, but I will not respond to you as I will not hear you. I am blind to the present when I see the past. Are we ready?” “I am,” Jenings said with a nod. “Hai,” Orshiro stated. He was more than ready for a break in this case.
  8. Britget hauls butt across the water, a large backpack filled with eqipment heading to a medium-size research boat out in the middle of nowhere. On a large side pouch, she takes some lunch she whipped together for her and deepwater to enjoy before taking their next dive. The wreck of the Adamant Star - A small cargo ship that had recently sunk in the relatively shallow (for a nove) waters off the coast of Fiji. Not really of consequence except for the fact the sinking was fast... and now accident investigators want answers. Not to mention salvaging whatever can be salvaged. Bridget slows up and coasts to the starboard side of the hull of the SS Inquisitive. She likes most of what she is. She's a medium-sized oceanic research ship, nothing too fancy, but her crew needs some work. They're young, inexperienced, and prone to mishap. Luckily none of them dive... "Hey Austin!!! I'm here with the sammiches!" Bridget says with a wise smile. Some of the crew looks over and a good number of the men lock eyes on her white bodysuit style eufiber wetsuit. The high-visibility vest she has had a habit of wearing on surface runs has become a trademark of hers as well. Not that she usually needs the flotation device unless she's completely out of juice, not that some disaster like that would happen. Also having a inflatable life jacket a mile or so down isn't going to help very much when you hit empty. She starts to walk up to the bridge area, she has a feeling he might be there.
  9. July 12, 0100 hrs, +1 GMT... somewhere approaching Kinshasa, Congo. She readies herself on the platform overlooking the dark black below. The wind around her is oppressive, not that she feels it through her suit. She's been training for this, or at least been preparing for this for a few days now. Familiarizing herself with her gear, practicing with her powers in low-pressure environments, learning to watch her use of powers and keeping them at a minimum. Her helmet has a clear face mask with a re-breather system attached. The helmet itself draws in as much air as it can, into the helmet, it's internal power supply and re-breather augmenting what she takes in with every breath. It's currently connected to a life support umbilical, supplying a starting oxygen supply. "DigiGeist, you remember the mission?" "Yeah, open at 1200 feet, land, find the radar facility and take it down. The SAM base is a cheeky bonus." "We'd like it if you took that out too, to be honest. Most of those are manually controlled and some do have small radar systems of their own." "Right. Just give me whatever needs to be done and it gets done." She holds on to a handle near the rear exit of the high-flying and heavily modded 777 jumbo-jet. The drop-boss speaks up. "Okay, we're at 80,000 feet, with winds and drift you should reach the dropzone in no time. Disconnect umbilical." She detaches the hose from the back of her helmet, and the system goes into a fully sealed mode. "You got 30 minutes, get low enough to rely on the air outside. You don't want to go bright until it's time to do the job. You have 3 hours before your Skyhook will be coming fast and dirty." She makes sure the case with the compressed helium and the kevlar/synth-eufiber gasbag is in place. "If you miss your ride it's a long walk back and lots of unfriendly folk along the way." "Understood." DigiGeist says, doing one last gear check to ensure her sword and pistols are securely locked down and the accessflaps are zippered and locked shut. She steps to the threshold and takes one more breath. "Godspeed, Digi. There's a lot of people depending on you." "And god have mercy on my soul." She says, diving off. At first the fall is quiet, but the rush of the air around her becomes louder and louder as she reaches terminal velocity. She takes a head-down posture, to fall as fast as she can for now. At the moment she reaches 10,000 feet she'll activate the wing membranes on her suit to start moving forward and to get some steering to close in on the final opening position at 1200 feet. A long way to go until those benchmarks... 24.384 Kilometers to be exact. And falling fast. 7 minutes later Digigeist tries as best she can to control her fall. HALO parachutes are notorious for not steering well. As intended since they're supposed to keep a drop on target. Unfortunately that means dropping into the Congo itself. She tries to flare, cursing how it's not an airfoil before falling short into the water and the fast currents. She disconnects the parachute immediately and starts swimming for the Ile M'Bamou. On it's South shore, on a separate island under DRC control, the Missile batteries were put in place to watch against a incursion from the Congo in the north. She doesn't care who. All she cars about is getting to Brazzaville after this is all done if she misses her pickup. She triggers a CO2 cartridge and air fills in several strategic air bladders in the chest and shoulders, helping her float as she reaches shore. Once she gets on the beach, she switches her re-breather into gas-mask mode and goes invisible. She activates an internal recorder she's going to turn in to her contact after the mission is over. "Commencing mission. Radar facility is 1 click east of my location. Going invisible." She whispers as everything she is becomes invisible to anyone looking for her. "No sight of the SAM unit." She whispers as she moves as best she can without making noise into the brush. After hiding, she pulls out her pistols, and then holsters them, then un-buckles the sheath securements for her sword. She checks herself to make sure she attuned to her gear before scouting the area.
  10. Kazuo asked for a few more enhancements from my handy-dandy notebook of Aberrant, so here they are. Over Before It Begins (Intelligence) This is the combat equivalent of Analyze Weakness. Every system possesses weaknesses and by studying their opponent for a few moments a nova may find the flaws in their fighting style. Perhaps they lean their shoulder when they punch leaving an opening; maybe they delay on a kick due to an old knee injury. Whatever the reasons, the nova may locate these flaws inherit to the combatant, and exploit them. System: The nova spends one turn studying their opponent, either inside of or outside of combat (observing them fight in an arena or cage match for example). If in combat the nova may use the Full Defense option and still gain the benefits of this enhancement. She spends a quantum point and rolls her Intelligence + Mega-Intelligence + (Pertinent Combat Ability) against their opponent’s Strength or Dexterity + (Pertinent Combat Ability) in a contested roll. It should be noted that the opponent may roll their Mega-Strength dice for this check if they use Brawl or the Powerhouse Enhancement. If the analyzing nova does not possess a relevant fighting skill (no dots in brawl for example) then they lack the fundamental understanding of the art and are left with hyper-enhanced guesswork. In this case the nova only rolls her Intelligence pool, but any Mega-Dice are treated as normal Intelligence dice. If the nova succeeds then for a number of turns equal to her [Quantum] she may reduce her attackers combat dice pool an amount equal to the results of the contested roll on a 1:1 basis (Mega-Dice are removed first) as speed and power loose their advantage to a nova who knows exactly how to avoid and counter attack their weak spots. This enhancement effects both offense and defense, so the penalty applies to dodges, blocks and parries as well. Look It’s Elvis! (Manipulation) Some people will fall for anything, but when a nova is in a bind sometimes it helps to play a little dirty. By calling out some blatantly bullshit lie the nova distracts her opponent long enough to either run, or get the party started. System: The nova may use this enhancement only before initiative is rolled. By making note of something that might distract someone (‘Your shoe lace is untied’, ‘Look there’s Elvis, ‘Does this bra make my chest look big?’, etc) the nova makes a contested roll pitting their Manipulation + Mega-Manipulation + Subterfuge against their opponent’s Wits + Mega-Wits + Subterfuge. This is a manipulation attempt so bonus dice granted by Mega-Manipulation apply for both parties involved. If the nova wins, she tricked her opponent and now has two options: 1. The nova may simply just leave. In this case the extra successes generated on the contested roll are used as a multiplier for the character’s movements to determine how far she manages to make it before the opponent realizes she’s gone! 2. Sucker punch. In the case of a sucker punch, you get a free hit on the enemy before combat even begins. The extra successes are added to your damage pool, meaning that you must still connect with the initial blow. This enhancement permits a nova to break the 5 dice damage cap temporarily, as sucker punches can be painfully brutal. After this enhancement is used, initiative is rolled as normal and combat begins. Critical Strike (Perception) You are capable of shattering the bones of even the strongest of novas. System: The nova spends a number of quantum points equal to their target’s [Quantum] score and then rolls their Perception + Mega Perception against the targets Willpower + Quantum. The target’s Quantum Score is treated as a Mega-Attribute for calculating successes. If the nova is successful, he may negate [5] points worth of her opponents soak for every dot of Mega-Perception she possesses. This enhancement may be purchased twice, permitting the use of the character’s full Perception score. Zen Fighting (Wits) For you combat is more cerebral than physical. You’ve trained your mind to anticipate and react to your opponents by keeping one step ahead of them in a battle. System: After purchasing this enhancement, the character may now use their Mega-Wits score to enhance their martial arts attacks, making their pool Dexterity + Mega-Wits + Martial Arts. If the character already posses Mega-Dexterity he may opt to use either score, but never both at once. Skadoosh (All) You possess phenomenal cosmic power. System: The nova depletes their entire quantum pool and moves their pinkie finger 45 degrees in any directions. All opponents suffer ([Quantum] x 100) levels of unsoakable aggravated damage in a ([Quantum] x 2,000) mile radius. This enhancement is only usable by baselines*, erupting into a nova removes a characters opportunity to learn this enhancement forever. *Baselines may not purchase enhancements because they do not possess a quantum score.
  11. Kristen Petunia Rowland - "Digigeist" Kirsten was nothing but the nerdiest girl in her school in Kent, England. She got good grades, wasn't too good in physical education, and spent most of her time with her nose in the books of the elementary school's library. SHe always feil her friends were writers like J.R.R Tolkien or Isaac Asimov... But it was the realms of Middle Earth that kept her interest. Probably from her parent's days at the university with their "Frodo Lives" buttons on their mexican style ponchos. That was until she met who at the time would be the most important person in her history. At the time he was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and she was just 9. He told her of the times he's spent on various aircraft carriers, frigates, and the like and she was enthralled. At that point she devoted herself to making herself as fit in body as she was in mind. She took up Parkour, dabbled with swords, she even learned how to fire a gun. This change in personality shocked her Hippie Generation parents who left the United States in the 1960s. To Kristen... it was natural. She craved the adventure she read of in books and now she was going to be ready for it! At 14, she got her PADI certification for SCUBA diving. At 16, she got her pilot's licence and before she turned 18, she even learned skydiving. Her parents leaned how to just let her be who she was. Then after her High School graduation, she went to join the Royal Navy. The moment she dreamed of, and she was dissapointed. The neverending drills, the annoying tedium, and sometimes punctuated with yet another drill. When she was finally assigned to her first duty as a electronic countermeasure operator, she was jaded, and almost felt dead inside. Until her friend returned. He was an admiral now, and he was going to sponsor her through the officer's academy. Thrilled, she accepted. Not knowing what was in store. He had her transferred to his ship, a Harrier carrier that operated in the North Sea. Practically the equivalent of duty in Alaska. At least for a naval equivalent. There she learned yet more drills and had even less to occupy herself. Then there was Admiral Smythe himself. Jim Smythe was a pervert. He would harass her at every turn just to jump into her uniform and it vexed her so. Out in the middle of nowhere you really have no other options for escape, and communications were not often to the mainland. On one shoreleave he made his play and forced her into a 3 night terror. He held over her head a trumped up diciplinary action he had planned just right to get her dishonorably discharged for disobeying a direct order. For the first time in her life, she felt rage, the type of rage they would lock you up for. After the three day tryst, she reported to the JAG of her district and immediately filed an action against teh Admiral. Justice was swift, and cruel. To keep the press off them and to cover up the event they Honorable Discharged her and Dishonorably Discharged and sentenced to two years in a stockade the Admiral, stripping him of all officer rank and pension. She felt just as ruined as her attacker, but was placed on a continuing order to keep the result of the case secret and confidential. Kirsten conidered the fact her college now could be paid for and she can get back on track in her life. She wasted 4 years of it and she was done with that. What she didn't know, was after her leaving the Royal Navy, the former Admiral was let off for good behavior. And he had a target. As she was setting up her flat in Cardiff, Wales, he stormed in with his webley and fired wildly striking her down, then she saw him put the gun to his chin and fired. Before she faded from conciousness, she had one last comforting thought in her old life. At least the bastard had the decency to leave a Jackson Pollack painting on her cieling. Then there was a haze. A greenish blue haze that got brighter then turned to a silvery curtain around her. When she woke up she was laying in a courtyard, and a man in a black coat stood above her. He said "Wake up Petunia... And look in the mirror..." in a tone not unlike some movie villain. What once was a nerdy, idealistic schoolgirl who becaome a jaded and broken seawoman was now a Nova, and soon... she would be a weapon, for the mysterious rescuer was an expert in a method called in some circles "Golden Gunplay". All he asked for the rescue was 4 more years of her life training under him. Although she learned everything she'd need in a few months because of her prodigious talent, He demanded more. But Kirsten didn't need convincing to do a upcoming job for her teacher...
  12. Chang Zha-Yang's days had been busy since the Victoria Crush Charity Event. Her meditations had been as involved and turbulent as ever before, and she had so much to think about that there seemed too few hours in the day. The bust occupied a place in her thoughts, a frequent specter that rose to haunt her time and again. It now had the unusual honour of being confirmed as her most recent great mistake. She had spent most of Tuesday thinking about the creation of the flesh sculpture and the fallout from it. For now, and with concentration, she could keep some of the sensations and the general form of the thing in mind, but some of the beauty had faded already. Memory never served in place of reality. She remembered Katya's touch altogether more vividly, the destruction that had come as a result of it, and the agony she had felt afterwards. The grief. Chang had not felt such loss for years. Perhaps not ever. It had hurt when things went wrong with Olga, yes, but not like that. That had been a mundane, tedious and depressing sort of pain. This blazed bright and true, a pain so pure that it could have been crystal, or diamond, and priceless with it. The sculpture was gone as if it had never been, just a private memory for those lucky enough to see it. That pain, though, she could make into something lasting. Katya could help her with that, and perhaps she would. As such, Chang had spent her morning meditating, and afternoon reclining in her couch-shape thinking about how best to work with and channel that pain. The evening had been a frenzy of writing and artistic endeavour, sketching and composing and conceiving long into the night. Wednesday morning came with her arms - six of them by then - blurring across pages and canvas, forming design after design and writing the lyrics for song after song. Most of it she had discarded by what ought to have been breakfast, and she ate the unwanted paper and canvas. She put her work aside to meditate, for her routine had a purpose, and she broke it only with good reason. In meditation that day she turned her mind to Shae, and Saori, and Edward and Tomas, of the quartet. That had been a shock, and of a very different sort. How had she grown so grim? Chang would never have accused herself of that in the past, but now she realized it was true. Nor would she ever have called herself friendless, but that was because she never thought of it. Talking with them, though, had brought the truth into sharp relief. And Shae especially seemed eager to make their impact stick. Shae had been a constant presence since the event. She had slipped into the house by some unknown means, made herself welcome, and waited to be told to leave. Chang had no reason or need to tell her to leave, and so she had stayed. The only time she valued for herself was her morning meditations. The rest could be shared as much or little as the world wished. And she had been eager to share everything. She had been quiet during the artistic frenzy of Tuesday evening, but she had never ceased to watch. When Chang told her what issue occupied her thoughts, Shae had been doubly interested. The sculpture they had both been part of seemed to place high in her thoughts as well, and to see how its destruction had forged new creation seemed to fill her with... what? Some positive emotion. Interest at the very least. Shae had said little, though. She had simply watched, curled up on the upper floor of the studio as Chang burned the midnight oil. They had talked for much of Wednesday, too, as Chang pondered her thoughts about lovers and loved ones, issues Shae had a great deal of experience with. She never missed a chance to curl up on Chang when she took on a furniture form, and Chang was glad of it. It felt oddly pleasant to be used, and somehow the closeness made the talking easier, in some peculiar, imperceptible way. Those conversations had sent Chang into a fresh wave of meditations, upon the value of friends and their role in Teras. And lovers. Aye. And lovers. Hard not to think of that with Shae there to urge the issue with both her eyes and words. Her body had a fierce lust in it. She knew that and was reminded every time her shaft twitched against her, hot and - as Jason Bellefleur had put it - hungry. Chang had always kept her desires under control, resisted them. When first they stirred she thought of the feelings as a challenge, a reminder of the difficulties every Terat faced. Now, though? Her body held no resentment for pleasure, nor did her mind. And her powers gave her a window onto pleasures perhaps imagined by baselines, but never experienced. She recalled devouring the melon with her cock. A feeding like any other, but uniquely pleasurable. She would not always eat that way, of course. It stood as an examplar, one of many expressions. Stretching her maw around her shaft provided a more conventional pleasure, and likewise twisting it to take herself. But those... they were masturbation. It recalled to her mind a jest by a Terat Scrambler had hated, one of the Pandaimonion. She had said that you did not need the letters T E R A S to spell 'masturbation', but four of five definitely helped. He had wanted to kill her for that. Chang had found it amusing, though, and he had become so concentrated on telling her why it had been wrong even to smile at it that the other had given her a sultry wink and slipped away. Had she inherited some of his sourness? That had always been what bothered her most. Scrambler was dynamic, yes, a live wire of thought and thinking, and driven too. But he had been so joyless. Nothing in Teras demanded joylessness. Mal certainly appeared to have a love of life. Did he not have a paramour, too? Perhaps there might be a Nova of right mind to help explore Chang's pleasure, one who might even be excited at the idea of being enfolded in her flesh, the way Olga had not. One who might walk beside her on the path of Teras, as her sculpture of flesh did dictate. She had learned much from Olga, in the end. Most of all, she had learned that she wanted to give as much as take, and not take where it was not offered. So most of Wednesday was occupied with such thoughts. Specifics and vagueries, half-remembered people and those recently met. By the end of that day she had the feeling that Shae was studying her, gauging her perhaps. There was a predatory manner to the way she moved and looked, a kind of knowing innocence designed to bring on a false sense of security. Shae's scrutiny did not bother her. It had been some time since she had fallen under a fellow Terat's microscope, but she did not feel too worried about being found wanting. On Thursday, Chang's meditations had finally returned to their normal pattern. She had considered herself, her own thinking and the flaws she had detected in it, the weaknesses she wished to plane out over time. Her emotional storm finally settled, the clouds and thunder parted, and in gentle rain she rested and surveyed the woman revealed. What Chang saw did not displease her. She had remained consistent with her beliefs, while further exploring them. Within her quantum pattern she could feel the small nodules of taint that her will had bonded to it. "I am growing," she had said, staring at herself in the mirror, and smiling. Shae, who had heard, agreed. Now Friday had come, and she had finished her morning meditations. Chang sat down to watch the previous day's camera footage, molding her body into an expansive, plushly furnished chair with room for herself and Shae, who slipped in and lithely slid in beside her. "Can I ask a question?" Shae asked, her voice a soft sound, contrasting to the hum from the camera console. "Of course," Chang said, "though you've seen no need to now." "I was wondering up to now. Why do you watch yourself every day? Wouldn't you rather be out there doing things?" She gestured out the door when she said that, at the studio. Chang shook her head. "It is part of my regimen. It is..." she cocked her head at an angle, thinking of the right word. In Chinese she could say it easily, less so in English. "It is part of a greater whole. One facet of discipline, helping to reinforce the others. The path is dark, and full of terrors. I watch myself, to be sure I'm still on it, and not slipping off to wander lost in the shadows." Shae let out a little purring sound and wriggled into Chang's leather-flesh, but said no more. After an hour of that, watching herself at work, preparing food. Shae had been quite fascinated to watch Chang eating brick and metal and drinking bathroom cleaner and other such things. In truth she had seemed almost huffy that Chang could feast on these oddities while Shae was limited to an extremely generous helping of Chinese cuisine that Chang recommended. She was not yet a cook, but she knew the food of her one-time homeland. Even the rewatching seemed to peak Shae's interest. "You know, I never asked. What tasted better, mild green Fairy Liquid or bleach?" Chang considered. "To be honest they were both quite vile, though not for the reasons you might expect. Fairy liquid is a more interesting compound, bleach has a more powerful flavour. I'd compare the two to soy sauce and wasabi." Shae had been familiarizing herself with sushi of late, so she knew of both garnishes. She grinned. "Bleach is the winner, then." Chang catalogued the footage and closed down the console, then molded to her standing form and headed out to the main room. She had maintained its cleanliness with her usual zeal, out-and-out devouring mess when it was created, keeping her various tools and equipment in their allotted places, behind the artificial zones made by the strips of coloured tape she had laid down. Now she fetched a large bag and began to fill it with the materials and equipment she expected to need today. "So, we're going to see Sunshine today?" Shae asked. She had perched upon the kitchen counter to watch. "Yes. He will likely arrive before us. I've never been the best at predicting my own walking pace, and the peer is a good distance away. All the more reason to get started early." She saw Shae wrinkle up her nose. "Won't we get press and such bothering us?" "Probably." Chang said, seeming to give it no more mind. She gave slightly more mind to it. Sunshine attracted press the way dung attracted flies. Still, what of it? They would be there for hours, doing no more than sit, talk, and in her case, draw. Could the press really find themselves entertained by that for hours? It would be a sort of test for them, she supposed, and it would teach her a few lessons about the locals. It only took her ten minutes to get everything ready. The bag was heavy, but she had stamina. She had carried heavier for longer. "You may come with me or circumvent the baselines' attention if you prefer, Shae," Chang said, heading for the door. She molded her finger into the key, thrust it into the lock and twisted. "Your decision."
  13. Aberrant: 200X - A Rumble of Thunder

    The sun hung high in the sky, surrounded by thick white clouds. A scent of summer had crept into the gentle breeze, along with a sweltering seasonal heat. Reese had moved far away from his usual training ground, walking from the bamboo grove upstream to the tall tumble of rocks which had created a natural waterfall on the edge of his mansion grounds. The fact this waterfall was on the grounds had in itself raised the price of the land by thousands of yen, but its presence had been what sealed the deal. He sat crosslegged upon a stone at the water's edge, eating a bread roll dipped in honey, listening to the flow and crash of the waterfall, and the lesser sound of the twin cascades downstream. Trees lined up behind him, part of a small wood that lined a good portion of the stream, with lush undergrowth thick with flowers and woodland animals. In this quiet between training times, Reese could hear things moving in the undergrowth or settling in the trees, birds taking wing or coming in to land. It had taken some time to get used to his post-eruption senses. Since then he no longer experienced so-called 'white noise'. Many a thing was too loud of course, but in a crowded street he never lost perception of individual voices, and for those closest he even picked up words. Reese had been training more than usual since Michael's visit. He knew that he was pushing into what he would once have termed 'overtraining', where the body could benefit little from the experience and injury became a likelihood rather than a mere risk. But a Nova body lacked the weaknesses of a baseline one, and Reese could train for days straight if he liked at no risk. The basic truths did not change, though, and his training regimen had become more intense to adapt to his new body without altering much at the fundamental level. Once he had hung from trees by his arms to help increase his upper body strength, so now he attached hyper-dense weights to his feet so that the exercise still applied. Once he had run for hours to increase his stamina, so now he ran on the surface of the water, burning quantum and pumping his muscles to run as long as possible without falling beneath the surface. Same form, same principles, different specifics. He finished his bread and closed the small faux-wood warmbox the others were kept in, then rose from his rock and waded out into the water. In the center of the heartpool, with the waterfall at his back and the water up to his hips, Reese moved into stance. He remained there, feeling the water pushing past him, rushing around his legs and hips, running through breath exercises. Reese began his first kata. He moved against the water's current, slow and measured, without a hint of tremble in his limbs. His actions were as the slow grace of nature, the unhurried tick of time, each flawless at a level beyond words. When punches came, they were a blur, accompanied by a sharp cry and a spray of water. He would hold the pose until the water settled once more, and then return to the slow and measured movements he had perfected. He threw a great, scything kick that created an arc of water. Returning to stance, he brought his hands together and slapped them down against the surface of the water. The motion was so fast a human eye could not have caught it, yet so soft that it made a ripple no greater than would the landing of a single leaf. Twenty minutes passed, with Reese running through a half dozen full katas, when he paused. He thought he heard the bushes move. Reese straightened up and turned toward the noise, frowning. For a moment, he saw only the unbroken line of undergrowth, and then one of the bushes shook. He snapped to the bush, and saw her instantly. "Kiku? What are you doing?" He began to wade toward the shore. His eldest daughter rose up from where she had been hiding and moved to the water's edge. She looked as lovely as ever, young and fresh and beautiful, but with a growing mournful tinge enhanced by her straight black hair. The way she wore it reminded him of the angry ghosts of Japanese legend. A year, two at most, and Reese suspected she would be deep in depression, else be angry at something, the world, him, or nothing in particular. Kiku wore a light white shirt and grey trousers, both designer silk, embroidered with dragons and other beasts of legend. They looked tight on her. "Nothing," she said, though would not meet his eye when she said it, and shifted her weight from foot to foot. Reese reached the shore and shook his legs out. The water ran off the eufiber quickly, but his legs dripped and left puddles where he stood. "Nothing? An odd place to pick for it. Don't you have a room to do nothing in?" Kiku frowned at him. "I prefer the open air," she said, tone haughty. "And the stream sounds nice." "It does, at that. Did you walk?" She nodded. "Quite a long walk. Takes me about an hour, and my strides are longer." He studied her, and wondered why she seemed so nervous. She offered no comment. Just made a little affirmative sound and nodded, staying near the treeline. "You're home early, if I'm not mistaken. Or have I lost track of time? Did Takako send you for me?" "No. Um, school's out today." She said, but blinked when she did, and he thought he saw a minute tremble in her lower lip. Reese sat down on the same rock he had been eating on. He gestured at a place beside him. "Want to share my rock?" He picked up the wambox and gave it a vague shake in her direction. "I have honey rolls." Kiku smiled, then nodded and came over. They shared the remaining rolls in silence. Something had happened at school. Reese had heard of no scheduled school trips, and there were no national holidays or anything else to explain her being at home. Given her behaviour, her reticence, he had the feeling she may have been sent home by her teachers. "So why were you watching me?" Reese said. "Or do you often watch and I've never noticed?" "No, nothing like that. I just," Kiku shrugged. "I don't know. I can go if you want." Reese smiled. "If you want to watch, that's fine. Why not join in, though?" Kiku looked at him, eyes wide. "Me?" "Don't see anyone else here." Reese looked about. "No, just you and me. Yes, you." He gave her a little jab in the arm, no harder than a baseline poke, and much softer than most would have been. He knew his own strength, and had worked hard to bring it absolutely under control. Kiku giggled, but rubbed her arm anyway. "I'm not much of a martial artist." "Could be if you wanted to be. Your school reports said you were quite good." She gave him a look. "Have you seen the other girls in my year? You know that little huff noise you make when you don't approve of something but won't say?" "No," Reese said, narrowing his eyes a little. "What noise?" "That noise you always make when you hear something that annoys you but you won't say what it is." "I make no such noise." "Yes you do. It sounds like this," and she made a little 'hmpf' sound. "Well, manlier, I suppose. But you make that noise." "I do not," Reese said, frowning. He turned away and looked at the water, with a sense of familiarity dawning on him the more he thought about the sound. "Anyway," Kiku said, "you used to make it all the time when I said I'd like to be a model." She paused, and he knew what she was waiting for. Reese folded his arms across his chest. "I'm making no noises. Continue." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her smiling. "Well, that's reaching for the stars compared to my classmates. Miho wants to seduce a rich man and be a trophy wife, Yuri's trying to get something working with our school's top baseball hopeful... you get the idea. It's all fashion and early marriages to people richer than them. So yeah, I'm the best at martial arts." She gave an exaggerated shrug, then whispered, "It's not much of a compliment." "I'm the teacher in the family. I'll come and watch one of your classes some day and see for myself." "You won't!" "Will. Who's going to stop me? I'll punt them over the horizon." He could not keep himself from smiling, though. Kiku looked like she really wanted to be angry, or upset, or something, but his mirth was infectious, and she leaned against his shoulder. "Gods, that'd be a funny image," he laughed out loud, then, imagining some skinny teacher hurtling into the distance, clutching their behind. Of course, the reality would not be funny at all. Reese had never needed to kill a man, though he had come close before. A couple of times after he had become a star some crazies had tried to attack him and his family, once at a first screening of '12 Sons of Kwai Lin', his second movie and first in the Chinese market. They'd been nationalists, enraged that someone who had become so associated with Japanese martial arts would 'prostitute' himself to the 'Chinese dogs'. It had made for some rather spectacular footage, to say the least, and for a while had become an asian OpNet meme, particularly the shot of him stopping one of the attackers by palm striking him in the chest. Reese had found it all quite distasteful, but when he saw the expression on the man's face... he had smiled a little. The Japanese did like their Novas, and gaijin though he was, he had become one of 'theirs' over time. "Rippa na gaikokujin," Reese said, tasting the words. 'Honourable outside person' in a literal translation. "Father?" Kiku asked, looking at him oddly. "Why did you say that?" "No real reason. Just thinking. I do that, my mother used to say it was a bad habit, but I disagree. I think it's a wonderful habit, and I expect you to pick it up forthwith," he added, and gave her a little touch on the nose. They were quiet for a while after that, but it was a pregnant silence, formed of things unsaid and questions unasked. Reese felt sure that Kiku knew he suspected there was more to her presence here than she had said. She had always been empathic and perceptive, and he had never been the best at hiding his feelings. "You're pretty boring to watch," Kiku said suddenly. Reese blinked a couple of times. "Why, thank you. It's good to know I have my daughter's love and support in everything I do." "It's not that! It's just... well, you're a bit slow. You're not very Nova-ey." "Nova-ey?" He gave her a scathing look. "Nova-ey? Is that a word, now?" Kiku wilted a little, and Reese softened his tone. "Just because things don't explode when I look at them doesn't mean your father's some shrinking violet." Kiku straightened up again. "I know that. It's just, I always imagined you'd be really fast when you trained. Like you are in the movies." "That's the movies. I always insist on having proper training scenes in there, even when I'm a villain, but those end up on the cutting room floor for the most part. The eruption is never the same twice. I can't fly, or teleport, or make flowers grow with a touch, or even leap buildings in a single bound. I can break things, though," he said, and nodded. "You want to see something impressive? A little impressive." He raised his hand in front of her, thumb and index finger an inch apart. Kiku gave an enthusiastic nod. Reese rose and headed out into the water again. "Back up a bit." He headed toward the waterfall, looking over his shoulder now and again. "Bit further," he called, and then, "no, further than that." "If I go much farther I won't be able to see you!" Kiku complained. "Should have brought binoculars, then." She only answered that with a frustrated hiss. Reese rolled his shoulders, then swept his hands up and down in front of his chest, palms together. He bowed his head at the waterfall, then stepped into the flow. It pounded down upon his shoulders and head, ran in rivulets down his cheeks and dripped from his chin, chased the lines made by his sculpted muscles. He glanced toward the shore, and saw his daughter watching from the treeline. That looked safe. Reese focused, then moved his palms apart and touched fingers to fingers. He rotated his hands, moved them through different configurations and shapes in relation to each other. Then he again pressed his fingers together, let out a great kiai shout, and slammed his hands downward. Not at anything, and they struck nothing, but when his arms straightened out there was a sudden quantum flash, and a wave of raw force erupted outward. And for a moment, there was no waterfall. The water that had been falling exploded outward in a dome, launching over a hundred feet into the air to come pattering down in a sudden storm of rain. Reese slipped out from under the waterfall before fresh water could come from above. He headed for the shore again, not slowed even a little by the water, and rubbing his tingling wrists. Kiku watched him. She was wet, now. Her hair had been blown backward by the shockwave and now lay down her back, dripping water. Her eyes were wide, her mouth a little open. All around, the trees were rustling and shaking, and many of them had lost leaves or even branches in the case of the closer ones. Reese shook a little water off, and let his eufiber flow up and coat him in his usual simple white gi top. He raised his hands a little. "Well?" Kiku blinked a few times, then took a shuddering breath and nodded. "Not bad." He gave a little 'hmpf' before he could stop himself, and winced. The moment broke, and Kiku sniggered. "That was the first time I've ever made that noise," he said, beginning to walk past her in the direction of home. "Ever." "Sure, father," Kiku said, falling in beside him. "Ever." On the way back, though, the conversation turned a little more serious. They were making their way along the well-cut trail through the woods, keeping the stream in sight but surrounded on every side by the dimness of the wood, with the trees growing close enough to form a soft canopy above that reduced the sun to slim fingers of light cutting through the leaves. "You don't do that often, though, do you?" Kiku asked, quite out of nowhere. He knew what she meant, though it could have been construed as a non-sequitor. "No. I focus on control, Kiku, not on flashy displays of power. If I want I can break just about anything. It takes no skill to do that, that's just... horsepower at work. Skill lies in technique, technique in control. It takes skill to break something clean in half, of course, which I can do," he said, and trailed off. Kiku leaned forward as they walked, to see his face. "And?" She said. Reese shrugged. "And I think at times people get too wrapped up in what Novas can destroy. I don't want people to look back on me and think of me as a Nova who destroyed things, for money or for any other reason. I want them to think of me as a good father and worthy husband. I don't care about anything else." He turned to Kiku and stroked her haid, pushing locks of it back in front of her shoulders, the way she had been wearing it before. "But I'll destroy things to keep you safe, if I must." He paused, and held up a single finger. "Give me a moment." Reese moved into the undergrowth, sliding through and around bushes and branches, barely disturbing any of it. He bent to the ground, listening hard, until he heard the tiny scratches of a mouse. His hand darted out and he grabbed it up, closing his hand around it. Then he headed back to his daughter. "Father?" She seemed confused. "Are you all right?" "Yes. I just feel I need to make this clear to you. Stand right there. Power, you see, can easily be misused. A closed fist can destroy," he said, and threw a punch right at her face, stopping an inch from her nose. Kiku gasped and jumped back, looking frightened. Reese studied her, expression blank. He turned his fist over, and unfolded his fingers, revealing the mouse in his palm, looking a little confused and beginning to study its new and strange surroundings and elevaton. He looked down at the mouse. "But the closed fist can also protect the weak and defenseless." He leaned down and let the mouse loose again, then brushed a little dirt off his hands. "I see power misused all the time. Or used for the sake of being used. I prefer to use mine when its warranted." "This really bothers you, doesn't it?" Kiku said, moving to his side again, as they continued on their way. She seemed a little on edge, but relaxed quickly. "You've been on edge since that Utopia man came to visit. Is that why you spend so long out here?" He sighed quietly. "Maybe. The issue of my power and how and why I use or don't use it has been thrust at me ever since I erupted. It's hard not to think about it. And Michael said some things... It doesn't matter." "I've been thinking about mother again," Kiku said, her voice soft, and quiet, and sad. "He talked about mother, didn't he? About finding who tried to kill us." "Yes," Reese said. They said nothing else, all the way home.
  14. Gods of War Timeline November 2010 [Gods of War Prelude] It's a Jungle Out There - Evo IC Start Date: 10 May to 15 May, 2011 Evo - [Gods of War] Intro: Chaos in Kinshasa Completed Einherjar - [Gods of War] Intro: The Line Completed The Morrigan - [Gods of War] Intro: Reign of Blood Completed WhiteRain - [Gods of War] Intro: Heaven Sent - Completed Dozer - [Gods of War] Intro: Building the World - Ongoing Sean 'Loki' McCline/Mahdi Diamant - [Gods of War] Intro: FireFall - Ongoing Bombshell - [Gods of War] Intro: Wayward Goddess - Ongoing IC Start Date: 15th to 23rd May Evo - [Gods of War] Intro: Jungle Demon - Inactive Einherjar - [Gods of War] Interlude: Ein (Mature) - Completed Kazuo/Ausrine - [Gods of War] A Fugue - Ongoing IC Start Date: 23rd May to 5th June Einherjar/Morrigan - [Gods of War] Gods Playground - Ongoing WhiteRain - [Gods of War] Victims of Circumstance - Ongoing
  15. Guys, I have plans for the Fireworks thread (Jael's Fuck-It Fourth of the July Extravaganza). It will be more than just another party; an Event will happening. I've spoken with Einherjar about this and he thinks it has merit, so I'm proposing the following rules and asking for the full moderator blessing. 1) The fic will go HARDCORE! at some point, where dice will be used to resolve conflict. ~a) That point will be clearly marked on the fiction and noted here and in the shoutbox. I will give at least 48 hours notice to allow people to move. ~ PCs who do not declare themselves Hardcore! here or in a spoiler in their posts will be assumed to not be Hardcore, and will be allowed to write the outcomes of their characters without dice. ~c) When the time comes, one room will be Hardcore and the other will not be; PCs will be shuffled behind the scenes as necessary to make sure they are in the right room so that we aren't mixing the Hardcore and non-Hardcore. Once the Event is done, we can co-mingle again. 2) Because the players will be putting their characters at risk, I'd like to ask that the moderators give a special reward to those who go HARDCORE! and don't tap out. This is entirely up to them and not guaranteed. Questions?
  16. Aberrant: 200X - Fireworks

    Marriott Phoenix, Mesa AZ July 2, 2011, 6:00 p.m. Jael's Fuck-It Fourth of the July Extravaganza Jael sighed and collapsed into the chair next to her dad’s chair, giving him a smile. He was in his seat for the night, sitting by the southwest windows. A table had been pulled close to him, filled with Donna-approved foods like vegetables and low-fat meats. Her father was fifty pounds overweight, though he’d lost another thirty from his ordeal and the surgery. White hair was slowly creeping back from his forehead, but he couldn’t be called bald yet. He was dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt, looking relaxed. Donna Carver looked the opposite; only twenty pounds too heavy. Her hair was still blonde and neatly styled; she wore a casual blouse and pants. The real estate agent still looked like she was on the job, even on a day off. “Is putting on a party such hard work?” Her father’s tanned, creased face was smiling at her. Jael smiled back, though part of her was uneasy seeing how weak he looked. He was just sitting there but he looked tired to her and pale under his tan. “It is, like you would know. You just grill; I do all the work for our get-togethers,” Donna Carver said, gently chiding her husband. She’d been doting on him since his attack; getting him whatever he asked for, leaning on him and kissing him more than Jael could remember. Her father was just as sappy, hugging more often and saying ‘I love you’ to his family. “Grilling’s hard work,” Robert replied, but he was smiling at his wife as she leaned against him. “Well, I haven’t done much here,” Jael said, “but supervising everyone…” She cracked up a little, giggling. “Alright, I can’t keep pretending that I’m working. Honestly, the help set up the food and seating, Sunshine got the game stations going and Ruth has tested the food. So I’ve got it covered and I can enjoy the party.” She laid her head on her father’s shoulder, feeling content. Why do we almost have to lose to make us appreciate something? “It’s six, people will be here soon,” Robert said. “You going to greet your guests?” “Sure, I should,” Jael said, sighing. “Only for a little bit, then I’m going to come back and introduce you to everyone. Even Einherjar will be here and lemme tell ya, that shocked me.” I hope this lady with him keeps herself in check. Donna made a soft ‘harumph’ noise at Einherjar’s name; she adored Sunshine and had developed a slight attitude toward anyone Jael had previously ‘associated’ with. Jael knew her mother had a massive blind spot regarding the exact nature of her relationship with those men. Oh, Donna knew the truth but Jael’s mother could ignore and repress information she didn’t want to face better than any 1950’s housewife. The nova still wasn’t sure what Robert thought of all of her ‘boyfriends’. “Any more wrestlers?” her father asked hopefully. He’d really enjoyed meeting Bombshell; Jael had never mentioned it, but Robert was an avid XWF follower. “We’ll see,” Jael promised. “If I see one, I’ll send them toward you. Unless it’s Crimson Light. He doesn’t get to come in.” Donna made that noise again, then smiled. “You should go and start meeting people, honey,” she said, shooing her daughter away. “I’m sure they’ll be arriving soon.” “Alright,” Jael agreed, smiling as she rose. She took a moment to make sure her blue sundress was straight then headed for the hallway between the rooms she’d rented. Her path took her by her sister at the food table, and Jael made another attempt. “Hey, Ruth.” As usual, her sister stared through her, her blue eyes cold as she ignored her sister. The sisters were undeniably similar with straight blonde hair and Nordic features. But Ruth was prettier than Jael had been as a baseline, and the baby-doll tee and stretch jeans emphasized the seventeen-year-old’s softer, less-athletic physique. “Glad you could make it,” Jael muttered under her breath. This was the norm for their relationship, which had never bothered the nova before. Now that Jael was trying to fix things between them, she found her sister’s continued silence to be annoying. The elevator dinged as she stepped out into the hallway, and Jael was smiling as she stepped into the hallway, eager to see who was her first guest.
  17. The Calamity Cave, aka, Contessa's basement, was the pinnacle of gamer engineering. It was complete with high definition television, surround sound and about every gamin console available on the market. With carpeted floors, paneled walls, and bright florescent lighting, this was Contessa Danae and trusty sidekick Mixie's secret hideout. Here they'd spent endless summers lounging on the big sofa playing any number of games or wasting away the days watching Hulu, Netflix or G4. The only thing that made today different was that Mixie was watching television alone while Contessa fretted about the basement finishing collecting her things. "Uh, Ceej, relax. I think you have it all." Mixie said without looking behind her, feet up on the table. She casually flipped the channels looking for something good on. "It's just E3. You'll be gone for a day, not a month." "I know, I know!" C.J. paced back and forth, going through the mental list of everything in her N7 travel pack. "I'm just... I don't know, nervous. Alex and I haven't really hung out yet, it's different in person! You know?" "I know what you mean, but relax. Alex is pretty cool." She let her head fall back and looked at her pacing friend almost from upside down. "So, you going to make a move or what?" Tessa stopped and looked over at her. "What do you mean?" "I mean, flirt with him. Turn on the Calamity Jane mojo." The Asian girl's giggly expression boderlined evil. "You said his girlfriend was a total psycho, he doesn't need a woman like that. Make a play for him, Ceej. You can't stay single forever." Contessa huffed and turned to look in the mirror. Her soft blue tee read 'My Eyes Are Up Here' and it hugged her perfect nova frame in an almost unnatural way. Her jeans were faded and looked great on her, while her blonde hair nearly shimmered in the light. As always, Contessa was perfect. "We already talked about that. Whatever my personal feelings, Alex is a friend and he's in a relationship. If I respect him, then I must respect his relation ship too." She grinned as she noticed her her pink lip gloss was perfect, along with the rest of her make-up. "Wow, my fake-up is really looking good today. I wonder why." "Because you want to look good for him." Her best friend rolled over and relaxed on the back of the sofa. "That's what you fake-up does, it changes to suit how you want to look and God do I hate you for it. You know it takes almost forty five minutes to get this face of mine on. And don't change the subject, at least test the waters, he might go for it." The basement door opened and a shadow stretched across the floor. "Punkin', there's a glowing man at the door. Did Ming order anything I should know about, or is this one for you this time?" "Okay, really?!?" Mixie tossed her hands up in protest. "You mis-order something off EInherjar's fan site and you never hear the end of it, geez!" "He's for me dad!" She said with a smile at Mixie's antics. "I'll be up in a sec." "You wish he was for you." Mix grinned evily and stuck her tongue out at Tessa's 'behave yourself' glare as she bolted up the steps. Running through the house she darted to the front door and swung it open after a peek through the window. Once she cast her eyes on Alex the world slowed down and an obligatory pan up his body began in slow motion. All the was missing was Kenny G to do a slow sax solo while she took him in. She blushed almost instantly, he was so intense in person. "Uh, hi." Was about all she got out before she did her first tucking of her hair behind her ear. "Um, hi." Mixie just banged her head on the door frame of the basement and prayed Alex just destroyed her quickly.
  18. Aberrant: 200X - Vacation Suggestions

    I have some time off coming up. In the past, I've spent the time studying. This time, I think I'm hitting that party of Jael's but that'll be the last day of my time off. I want to travel, see somewhere I've never been. So I'm asking you guys for a fun, beautiful - basically an all-round awesome place for a guy to visit. Lay your suggestions on me.
  19. 2000 threads in our OpNet feed... It's been a long road. Here's to 2000 more! Share your memories, thoughts, hopes for the future.
  20. So I'm having a party, Jael's Fuck-It Fourth of the July Extravaganza. I'll have location and time soon, I just wanted everyone to know to mark the date. It's July 2nd (we'll pretend it's the Fourth) and there are two rules: 1) No one talks about the fucking trial. Not one word about it. I'm fucking sick of it already and it is not invited to the party. 2) This party is open to baselines, so bring your families. If having zips or whatever you call baselines this week around is going to ruin your fun or require you to ruin their fun, you can stay the fuck home. These are my family and friends - my dad has said he's coming, so if you can't behave like a polite member of Homo sapien novas you can't come. More details soon.
  21. This poll is to establish whether or not the two nova combat styles, Golden Gunplay and Qi Meng, are to become part of the 200x canon. Voting rules: Any 200x player gets 1 vote in each of these polls. I ask that if you vote, you make a short post below saying that you've voted. That's all. You don't need to say how or justify why. If you haven't voted at all, there is no need to do anything. Votes that aren't accounted for by supporting posts are discounted. I can't guarantee fairness in which votes get lost, because not only am I human, I'm a mean bastard. So make sure you sign below.
  22. "You have to remember something: Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn." Those words came back to him now, like the whisper of a ghost. They were the words of a man who called Reese his enemy, Kenneth Stark. The words had been passed down by his father, and become almost a family motto. He would be near fifty now, like Reese. Unlike Reese, he would be showing it. Reese was sat in the main garden at the back of the mansion, on a woven wicker chair behind a smooth white table. Today he wore his accustomed white uwagi and plain red hakama with toe socks and wooden sandals. He played the flute for a girl no older than Kiku, a thin and nervous thing. She sat opposite him, looking nervous and uncertain, listening to the music and unaware of the words in his mind. The tune was soft, lilting and breezy, the kind that bamboo seemed to lend itself towards. Since his eruption his skill with the flute had amplified a dozen times, the music had come more smoothly, and his fingers never missed the holes anymore. He never seemed short of breath, or to blow too hard or too soft. His control was absolute. After a minute and a half of playing, he played a long, undulating note that trailed off into silence. "Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn." Reese lowered the flute from his lips, and with a movement so deft and fast it defied belief, set it to spinning on the back of his hand. The girl gasped at that. His daughters had always loved that little trick. He nudged it off the back off his hand and caught it, then placed the flute on the table before him. "Did you like that?" Reese asked. She nodded. "Yes, sensei." Her back was to a small rock pool that had been formed by forging a split from the stream which ran through the mansion grounds. Reese liked it. "Kaoru," he said, pondering how best to approach her problem, as he had been trying to during his flute break before the mental ghost of Kenneth Stark rose up to haunt him, "why do you feel you should leave the dojo?" She seemed to him like a girl seeking hope, not one who had given up. Why come to him at his mansion when she had to know she would be refused entry? Why not just stop turning up? He did not know her the way he knew most of his better students, but her face was familiar. Now she bit her lip, and seemed like she did not want to answer. "Because I'm weak." Her voice was thin and frail when she said that, full of shame. Yes. He had thought that would be her reason. That was why Ken had come to mind. Ken Stark, so obsessed with 'strength'. He tried to keep down the old fury. "Weak," Reese said, as if tasting the word. He leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Kiku pause as she walked from the mansion to one of the outer buildings. By her posture he guessed the stables. She liked to ride, especially when something bothered her. "I presume you mean physically?" Kaoru nodded. She did look thin and fragile, especially dressed in a loose top and over-long trousers. "I wonder. Why did you join the dojo in the first place?" Reese asked. She blinked at him as if uncertain it had been him that spoke. "S-Sensei?" He smiled. "Why did you join? Was it to become strong?" "I... get bullied. A lot." The guilt in her tone made it seem like she were admitting to a crime. "I wanted to be strong enough to make it stop." Reese sucked in his breath, and let it out in a long sigh. "I see," he said. "I gather your training hasn't helped much on that front, then." She said nothing, and he took that as affirmation. "As reasons go to learn martial arts, that one is both the most common and least worthwhile. I don't mean that as a criticism," he added quickly, for she flinched at his words. "You have to understand, Kaoru, that there are few problems in life that actually go away when you hit them. Bullies do sometimes, I admit." "Like in the manga," she said, a slight smile twitching her lip. He laughed out loud. "Yes, just like in the manga. Boy's manga mostly, I gather." He found a picture forming in his mind. Kaoru was a tomboy. She had a lot of a boy's traits to her. Her dress was slovenly in much the same way a teenage boy's might be, she was showing few signs of developing womanhood though of an age where she ought to be. Girls could be very cruel when they spotted someone 'not like them'. "Do you read boy's manga? Girl's manga not appealing?" She screwed up her nose and shook her head. "It's stupid." "It must have hurt," he said, "trying to live up to your heroes and failing. That's what this is, isn't it? Your body's not turning into corded muscle and whip-fast reflexes the way it does in the stories." She looked like she might cry, but just nodded. He kept his tone as soft and kind as he could. He had become something out of a boy's manga. He had even had it suggested to have one made based on his likeness. He could, to quote his favourite co-star, 'kick a tank to death'. Reese had always been wary of the star element that being in the movies brought to play, of the idea that people might come because of him rather than because of his teachings. The eruption was many things, he thought, but there was one thing it absolutely was not: Fair. "Kaoru," he said, leaning forward now. "There is a world of difference between the manga and the lives it is based on. Few people reach for the martial arts in a fight. Some do, but most do not. It takes years and years for these things to be instinctive, and even then I've seen third and fourth dan black belts resort to pulling someone's shirt over their heads and punching them in the face. At the very least, I've seen very few flying kicks outside the movie set. Grappling, choke holds, that sort of thing, tends to play a bigger part in a real fight. Though I did once see an amazing flying axe kick performed by an overexuberant yakuza." He nodded, remembering. That had been impressive. The young man had thrown someone out of a shop through a window, and when the unfortunate stood back up he had jumped through the broken window yelling like a banshee, and kicked the poor fellow right in the head. He not only did not get up from that but later died in hospital. It had disturbed Reese deeply when the case went to trial, as it had been a near-perfect recreation of one of the key scenes from his own breakout movie role. Kaoru seemed even more deflated, if that was possible. "Then what's the point of learning in the first place? Why did you learn?" He snorted. "No good reason." Everybody pities the weak. Reese rested back in his chair again. "That's why I don't judge people poorly if they likewise have no good reason. I did it mostly to impress my father, at first. But Kaoru," he said, lowering his tone, making eye contact, trying to reach into her and pull her out of the shell he could see her curling into, "the value of the martial arts is not that they teach you how to hurt people. It's mental discipline, direction, focus, things that help you in all aspects of your life. Learning the martial arts makes your body and mind strong and healthy. Do they help you punch bullies in the face?" He shrugged. "Yes, they can certainly do that. But they're far more likely to raise you above them, to the point where you simply don't care about them. And that's far more effective. This you can benefit from." She seemed sad, but cautiously optimistic. Kaoru could not meet his gaze. She wrung her hands, but also straightened her spine. "But I'm weak..." "Do you go to a gymnasium?" Kaoru shook her head. "If I told you that I could make you strong, how far would you go to achieve it? Would you do as I said?" She considered for a few moments, then gave a rapid nod. "Yes. If you didn't mind helping me be strong..." Kaoru sounded like she felt trapped, as if she had said something she ought not to have. Reese smiled. "Don't worry. Like I said, I got into the martial arts for the wrong reasons. The martial arts is a battle not between you and the opponent, but between you and yourself. Your training will bring out every character flaw, every weakness, every little thing about yourself that you hate. It's not your bullies you're fighting in my dojo. It's you," he said, pointing his finger squarely at her chest. "If you're willing to beat yourself into shape, I can help you do it." "Alright," she said. "What do you want me to do?" "Come to the dojo next week, as usual. Stay after hours, and we'll talk. I'll have a training regimen for you to follow out of hours, I'll arrange a membership for you at a gym I know. And if I see you improve, which I should, perhaps I'll give you some private instruction. I know, I know, that's how the master starts out in the manga. He offers his respectful - or disrespectful as the story may prefer - student private tuition, and things go from there. I don't think it would benefit you quite yet. You need to build confidence in your body first." Reese heard Takako coming out to the garden. She had a distinctive step, picked up from years of hard martial arts training of her own. Up until she had Hanako, she had been a movie star herself. If not for Kiku pushing him to go into the movies, he likely would have never met her. He leaned back and arched his neck, smiling as she came out to see him. He reached back and took her hand, rubbed his thumb along the back of it. "Good afternoon, Takako." Then he frowned. Her expression was cool, calm, but reserved. "Is something wrong?" "You have a visitor, Reese. An 'old friend'." "Ah," he said. He knew who that was. "Kaoru, I apologize, but I must attend to this." "No, it's fine. You were very kind to talk to me. I'll be there. At the dojo, I mean. I won't quit yet. Not quite." She stood up a little too fast, almost knocked over her chair, and bowed to him. Reese rose, altogether more smoothly, and bowed as well. "Takako, would you see my young guest out? I'll go see Michael myself." She gave him a stiff nod and then smiled at Kaoru. Reese headed into the house. Just as he entered, he heard a whinny from the stables. He wondered how long Kiku had watched him talking with Kaoru. She did that, sometimes, just found somewhere to watch things. After her mother died she had been a constant eavesdropper, and impossible to discipline on the subject. Eventually he had stopped trying. And now his old school friend had come calling again. Michael Armstrong. Utopian. Recruiter. It had been six months since his last visit. Reese wondered what had changed? On the threshold though, he paused and looked back. He loved the garden. So ordered, with the rock pool there, the organized tumble of stones that tried but failed to shape the waterfall which fed it, the precisely laid out beds of flowers surrounding the central table, and the way the stone rose up to form natural walls, as the garden was on a low dip in the land. Yet the peace had been shattered today. He never had bad thoughts here. So where did it come from? Was it just seeing Kaoru that had brought Kenneth to mind? "Jealousy you have to earn," he whispered, remembering the loathing in Ken's voice when he said that. The hate. Reese looked down, and saw his own fist, clenched and shaking. He raised his arm and thrust it down, symbolically to shake off the distemper that had taken hold of him. That motion alone caused the dust to rise up as if struck, for the eruption had made him mighty beyond the wildest dreams of most men. He shook his hand out as he headed for the front doors. He'd have to pay more attention than usual to controlling his strength.
  23. As morose as her perfect features could muster, Contessa bounced down the stairs with depressive rhythm to her stride. She hit the last three steps and floated lazily down to the floor, continuing to meander to the kitchen. It smelled like grilled cheese through out the house, which meant it was almost lunchtime. Nothing smelled burnt, which meant Dad wasn’t cooking. She pushed the swinging door to the kitchen open and strolled in. Mixie was plastered to the 13” plasma on the kitchen counter. N! was currently covering the Jael Carver/Alex Summers molestation case. “Hey, Ceej. Is this messed up, or what? Oh, my gawd! You know what this means, right? Alex is single now!” Mixie squee’d and bounced up and down excitedly while Contessa’s unnaturally blue eyes bore an icy hole right through her. Tessa was like a Disney Princess, and when she was sad the world knew it and world wept with her. Realizing her best friend (evar!) wasn’t feeling the vibe she slowed down and finally stopped. “Oooookay, not feeling it?” “Mixie, that’s terrible.” Contessa huffed and strolled over to the fridge. She grabbed a can of soda and popped it open. “No, I’m not ‘feeling it’, whatever ‘it’ might be.” “Ceej, dude, you like the guy, right?” Mixie flipped the grilled cheese over in the skillet like a professional chef. It tumbled end over end until it flapped back, buttered side down. As was customary, Contessa never moved past the halfway point in the kitchen while the stove was lit. “With psycho-girlfriend out of the way, this is your chance, girl! You said it yourself: you’ve never liked a guy like him before. You’ve been glued to the Opbox for days laughing and carrying on with him, go for the kill.” The nova blonde sighed, frustrated. “Okay, stop. Stop right there, seriously.” Mixie paused, as this seemed like the first time in a long time that she’d actually seen Contessa on the cusp of anger. “You didn’t see them like I did, Mixers. Jael may be one crazy… um,” “Bitch?” Mixie added. “Thank you, yeah, but when they touched and looked at each other and smiled at one another,” he sighed like she was in a fairy tale. “It was love, Mix, real, honest love. I admit, I’ve a crush on Alex, my first crush since ‘He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’, but I’m also his friend, and by proxy her friend as well.” She took a drink from her soda and then pointed at Mixie with her pinkie finger while she gripped the can. “And because I’m their friend I want the very best for them both. Even if I could get Alex, why would I do that? His heart is hers, and if I really cared at all for him, I’d let him keep his heart where it makes him the happiest, and that’s with her.” Mixie broke out into full-blown laughter, almost knocking the skillet off the stove. “Oh, shit… oh, I’m sorry… my bad.” She collected herself and giggled some more while Contessa searched her mind for harsh language to use. “C.J, do you ever listen to yourself? I mean, seriously listen?” “Um, yeah, why?” She looked at Mixie, suddenly perplexed. “There’s no such thing as love, girl, you’re living in a fairy tale. Ceej, it’s our last summer before college, Alex is single, now. Come on girl, we have to get you laid,” Doctor Danae, Contessa’s father walked into the kitchen at the most inopportune time, but Mixie was swift in thought. “…out in the sun a bit more before he visits sometime, you’re white as a sheet! You can wear the white bikini that Sea-” She sighed. “’He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’ sent you last summer.” Tessa nearly choked on her cola. “That skimpy thing? No freakin’ way, pardon my language, that is so not happening. It rides my butt something fierce and barely covers, well, anything.” “Nothing covers those pontoons, Ceej, what’s new?” Contessa retorted with a well timed stuck out tongue. With the way they went back and forth, one would think they were sisters. Doctor Danae cleared his throat. “Ladies, please. Mixie, you are forbidden from getting my daughter ‘laid’ in any sense, even if you take her to Hawaii her neck better remain bare. Contessa, I don’t want to hear about anything riding your butt, ever. And stop wearing Mixie’s t-shirts.” Contessa looked down at her chest and Mixie took a moment to glance at the pink t-shirt that had, in bold white letters: ‘I kissed a girl and I liked it.’ Mixie and Contessa both snickered and the doctor winked at them and left the room with a glass of water. “I’m taking a nap, I have to work the night shift tonight. Will you two please try and be good?” “You got it Dad!” Tessa shouted before turning to her Asian friend. “Hey, wanna hang with me at the clinic today? I have power training.” “Sure. Grilled cheese?” She slapped the sandwich on a paper plate and the two ladies headed out the back door.
  24. This is the vote thread for inclusion of new Enhancements and Extras that have been discussed in the Proposal Thread. Voting rules: Any 200x player gets 1 vote in each of the polls. I ask that if you vote, you make a short post below saying that you've voted and on which issues. That's all. You don't need to say how or justify why. If you haven't voted at all, there is no need to do anything. Votes that aren't accounted for by supporting posts are discounted. I can't guarantee fairness in which votes get lost, because not only am I human, I'm a mean bastard. So make sure you sign below.