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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. "His name is Emmeric Turaj. His family migrated from India when shortly before he was born; he invented some software that made him millions when he was a teen and his family invested it for him. They also married him off to some cousin back from his home village in India, who is..." Shae's snort of amusement was as melodic as cruel, "let's just less than Bombshell. Apparently, she's very sweet." She tossed her OpBook on the dining room table she was perched on in their apartment, the rest of her family lounging sensuously in the open dining/living area. "So it was a baseline. A rich one, smart by their standards, but still, one of them. She laid down along the table and stretched, "That's what I've been able to find so far. So, when are we going after it? And what are we going to do with it afterwards? I mean, we can't give it to anyone publicly. The guy did buy it legally by baseline laws. We could keep it here. Or, heh, maybe give it to Narcosis? She'd totally have it at parties to just mess with people and that's pretty funny."
  3. 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.
  4. 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...
  5. May 12th, Pumpkin Island, Australia Jason was sprawled out on a beach chair, enjoying the setting sun and soft ocean breeze in the solitude of a private island Down Under, while catching up on some reading - The Shadows Inside in fact. Dani was right - the kid's rendition of his Dungeon and Dragons character really does bare a resemblance to us, if we had long, pointy ears and greyish skin. The transsexual beauty and media darling was utterly relaxed and content. The Charity Event for the Victoria Crush had been a complete success and she had just finished the photo-shoot for a new swimsuit calendar here on secluded and luscious Pumpkin Island in the Great Barrier Reefs well ahead of schedule due to perfect and cooperative weather. Even better, she had the private island all to herself, since the agency had had to rent Pumpkin Island for the entire week. Maybe throwing herself into the spotlight had been a vast over-compensation to the situation she had found herself in after erupting, forcing herself to deal through constant exposure. But the truth was, with a new life and a new gender thrust upon her, and a career as a hockey star gone forever, she needed something new to replace the void before descending into a morass of self-pity. And for the most part, she actually enjoyed it, much to her chagrin. Still, sometimes she just needed time away, all to herself. No fans, no press, even no room-mates. With a private island all to herself, no one around for miles and miles, and the mainland a forty-five minute boat trip away, Jason couldn't get much more privacy than that. The only one she'd want to share this with was Danielle and hopefully she'd be joining her in a couple of days. Jason turned the page of the graphic novel, chuckling at the depicted reaction of a teenage boy suddenly finding himself in a bosomy body, then reached for her drink sitting on a bound script book on the sand - a pink melon rainbow starburst. The drink she had mixed for Danielle when they first met. Jason gave a small sigh at finding it empty save for some sludgy ice, debating with herself if she wanted to get up to get a new one, or simply laze away under the setting sun. Finally, she climbed to her feet with inherent, peerless grace, wriggled her toes in the hot sand, shook out her long mane of argent hair, then started sashaying back to the beach house, hips swaying from side to side. *********************Inside the beach house, their presence hidden by the sunlight reflecting off the windows, three men watched in instinctive awe, their breaths catching in their throats. The statuesque woman's hair shimmered like silver fire, the sun halfway below the horizon limning her fantastic curves with rose and golden light, every little movement she made a glorious symphony of motion. They could make out the luminous colour of her twilight eyes even from this distance. Her ineffable beauty paid no heed to sexual orientation or taste, drawing all eyes like moths to a flame. Everything about Bombshell proclaimed her ascension from the dross of humanity, a true Marvel among men and women. "Dayum!" one of them whispered. And that was why Scrambler decided Jason 'Bombshell' Bellefleur had to go. A goddess like her, content to pander to and exult in the lust and attention of those who were no more than gnats in comparison. Like nothing more than a cheap whore, spreading her legs open for any zip, letting herself be covered in the cum-stains of their desires. Actress, Model, and XWF starlet - she didn't even challenge herself with the real danger of the prostitution the Elites engaged in. She was worse than that slut Narcosis even. At least Narcosis knew she was better than the zips, used them as sycophants, servants, and dupes, and had them worshiping her for the privilege. Bombshell held herself as no more than their equal, and the decrepit masses loved her for it. She filled him with disgust and still, he couldn't take his eyes off her. Scrambler's hands tightened into fists, black veins running the length of his forearms standing out in sharp relief. There was no chance of drawing the monkey-loving bitch into the Teragen fold. Indeed, he believed Chang's entrancement and attraction to the woman was in large part responsible for his old Seeker leaving the movement, and for that, she was going to pay. It was personal, but he needed help. Finding her wasn't the problem, when the whole world salivated at the sight of her. A quick search of the OpNet, and he knew this was the perfect opportunity. Everything he learned about Bombshell suggested there was little he could do to limit access to her capabilities - it was her innate traits that had been increased to superhuman levels and studying her XWF battles revealed her strength, speed, and durability was phenomenal, even for a Nova. Facing her directly would be unimaginably risky, and possibly lethal. So... he planned on tossing her into an arena with Novas just as dangerous as her, if not more so, without the option of tapping out, and where her zip-loving nature would only be a detriment. He had considered simply dropping her in a volcano or the Merianas Trench, but too many novas proved to be immune to environmental effects, extreme as some of them were, to take the risk. Let the baselines' whores fight among themselves, every one dead leaves the One Race that much stronger, unchained by baseline interests. Bye-bye Bombshell. I hope next time I see you, it's on the news, with you making a particularly nice looking corpse. Scrambler held up an open hand, then closed it into a fist as he reached for the perception centers of Jason's brain, seeking to close them off. He grunted with the effort - it was hard to look beyond Bombshell's sheer attractiveness to realize she was more than just a pretty face. And he just found out the cunt had a stubborn will, evidenced by dealing with going from a young man to a prurient fantasy of a woman without going insane. Scrambler strained, then relaxed as he managed to cut-off her access to sight and sound. Not as much as he was hoping, but it would be enough. On the beach, Jason came to a sudden stop, a hand going to her head, then twisting her head quickly from side to side, her eyes wide and unseeing. "Good, bitch is deaf and blind," Scrambler said smoothly, hiding the effort it took. Without taking his eyes off his prey, he commanded his two companions to initiate their parts of the plan. "Blinker, open your Warp, away from any cities. Bombshell has no particular movement or long-range communication powers - the longer we keep her from civilization, the better chance she has of staying there. Forever." The slender figure at his side did as bidden, opening a flickering, circular portal in the air, five feet behind the bewildered woman. "Such a waste," Blinder muttered, "we shoulda tossed her to Levianthan, he coulda used a treat like that and he woulda owed us then. Beauty and the Beast indeed." Blinker sniggered. "This is my business, not his, nor the rest of the movement's. Besides, I wouldn't trust her not to end up charming the idiot," Scrambler countered. He turned his head, glaring up at his other conspirator. "Get the fuck out there Greg, and get her through the Warp. That's it. And don't break the door, we're getting out of this without anything leading back to us." "Fury," the seven-foot rock beast protested in an unintelligible rumble, but he carefully slid the patio door open and squeezed his bulk through it. "I'm gonna get her alright, bend the dyke over and give 'er a taste of a real man, a real nova, before giving 'er a send off she'll never forget." "Just get her through the portal shit-for-brains or I'm going to scramble your fucking node and let her rip you to pieces while me and Blinker blink away. Got it, Greg?" Fury growled, but nodded, then with mountainous strength, he leaped off the deck, and landed right in front of the unaware woman, kicking up a cloud of sand with the impact. "I don't give a fuck what Scrambler said," Fury boasted, an ugly leer on his ugly face as he ogled her prominent chest straining against the one-piece swimsuit that concealed less than many a bikini. "I'm gonna play with the Barbie Doll. And I gotta say, zip-loving bitch, you have a more epic rack than even Narcosis." Fury's large, stone-encrusted hands reached out, squeezing Bombshell's full breasts, the voluminous, plaint flesh yielding to his rough touch... until it resisted. His leer melted into a surprised frown when he saw didn't see a wince or grimace cross Bombshell's gorgeous face, nor hear a cry of pain pass her enticing lips, but rather, a ravishing sneer and a seductive snarl. ****************Jason squashed the instinctive panic upon finding herself wrapped in an ephemeral cocoon of utterly silent, impenetrable darkness. There were a few fighters she had faced in the Combat Zone who were able to pull a similar trick, and at least she wasn't numb - that always freaked her out. This was just someone playing a trick on her when she thought she was completely alone or something. She opened her mouth to tell them to knock it off, but snapped it closed. She wouldn't give them the satisfaction. She felt the ground tremble, sand pattering across her mostly bare skin, a moment before someone she didn't know made their gravelly boast then grabbed her chest. It was undoubtedly a man, the hands large, broad and blunt, squeezing tight, though it wasn't uncomfortable to Nova Mega-Model. If that was all the asshole could muster, it was a fraction of her or Danielle's strength - they exerted almost as much entangled in bed. She judged whoever it was in the lower end of the Red Circle. She'd half to restrain herself. "That was a mistake, shithead!" Jason snarled, though it was disconcerting to feel her jaw move, her tongue form the words, but to hear nothing. "Only one girl's allowed hands on my tits, and it ain't you. Let. Me. Go!" Jason's voice matched her glorious appearance, majestic and commanding. Fury felt himself stiffening at the rich, sultry sound even as his hands sprang free from her chest in uncanny acquiescence. Before Fury could retaliate, Jason raised a hand and smashed her assaulter in the chest with an open, feminine hand. Fury flew backwards, rocky flesh splintering and stony ribs creaking under the force of Bombshell's blow. He gasped, sharp pain radiating from his sternum. He had been warned, but he still couldn't believe the strength the unearthly beauty possessed. And he had the distinct feeling she was holding back. Fuck this! Scrambler was right. "Had enough, dipstick?" Jason taunted, taking a defensive stance, her head panning side to side in an effort to locate her unseen and unheard assailant. "NO!" Fury roared, a sound Jason felt rather than heard, as he swelled in size with the groan of splintering stone. In seconds, a rocky behemoth nearly thirty feet tall towered over the curvaceous, amazonian beauty. Jason could tell something was wrong, different... Just not what until a foot the size of a barcalounger hit her in the chest and sent her sailing through the air. Though taking some damage, it didn't particularly hurt - she very rarely was affected by pain - and Jason was able to twist in the air with supple grace, landing deftly on her feet. The ground felt different under her feet, hard-packed dirt instead of sand or ocean, but she'd worry about that later. She had an asshole to beat the crap out of. Her body already repairing the unseen damage she had sustained, the eufiber strings encasing her flowing into the glossy, dark-blue bodysuit with curving, bioluminescent stripes she wore for the XWF, Jason charged forward, sure the stoned motherfucker was somewhere just ahead of her. *******************"Shit." All three Teragen members stared at the impossibly stunning woman, even more beautiful in her affronted anger. And that was all she appeared to be, affronted. There was no trace of blood or injury, despite a solid kick from a thirty foot colossus. Yeah, Scrambler was glad he hadn't decided on anything more physical. "Close the Warp, Blink, close it!" he commanded hastily, seeing Bombshell pounce and Blinker quickly complied. The furious woman was no more than a long stride away when the portal snapped closed. Scrambler heard Blinker's sigh of relief and stifled his own, instead stalking out of the beach house. He unleashed his most dangerous power and the enormous Fury seemed to implode, collapsing into a pale, young man, about five and a half feet tall, with a pock-marked face. He was on his hands and knees, gasping and spitting up blood, his chest a mass of black and blue, with the clear imprint of a hand right in the middle. "When I fucking tell you to do something, Greg, you do it," Scrambler yelled, yanking Greg up by the throat. "Hel... I ne-eee-ed help, she, she... she broke someth-" the former stone giant whimpered. "Too bad. Suffer," Scrambler retorted callously. "You brought it on yourself. Blinker, help me cover up fucktard's footprints, then get us out of here. It's done." Leaving Fury to choke and gasp in his grasp, Scrambler and Blinker swiftly concealed the obvious signs of a struggle, then stepped through another of Blinker's portals, leaving behind a tiny flare of light. Then they were gone. ******************May 12th, somewhere in Central or East-Central Congo She must've missed him, Jason thought, knowing she had covered more than twice the distance she had been kicked. She didn't detect any other presence, just more packed dirt beneath her booted feet, then the rustle of foliage against her legs. A few seconds later, she regained her sight and hearing and understood why. Wherever she was, it wasn't Pumpkin Island. She was sure where she was. The sun shone brightly overhead and the air was hot and humid without the refreshing ocean breeze to ameliorate it. She was standing on the side of a rutted, dirt road, hardly more than a trail, cutting through a lush, deciduous forest. So... it probably wasn't British Columbia. She didn't even have her OpPhone with GPS to help her out. "Fuck." She raised her quantum-enhanced voice, a strong, sonorous soprano clearly covering several kilometers. "This better not be some stupid game, Katya, 'cause I swear, it ain't funny." Jason looked one way down the path, then the other, neither direction giving a hint at which way would lead to civilization the quickest. With a shrug, she chose a direction at random and began jogging in a fluid economical lope that she could maintain nearly indefinitely, shifting her eufiber from her fighter togs to a pair of loose, olive cargo shorts, a comfortable pair of cross-trainers, and a tight, black shirt which proclaimed in stretched, white letters, Objects in Shirt are Larger than they Appear. She could have run faster than any car, but all that might have done was end up sending her the wrong way quicker. She could jog for a week or more non-stop if she had to, provided she could get some food in that time. She would run later if she had to. A veritable goddess for the Nova age, she strode through a land barely touched by mortal hands... At least, this small part of it.
  6. 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."
  7. Continued from Chaos in Kinshasa In the forests outside Bikoro, 2 PM, May 15th, 2011 Obfuscation and fear, and secrecy too, was Evo's main weapon in keeping attention on his region at a low point until he was ready to fight off serious trouble. As such, in the three days since setting up his shop in the forests and hidden areas, he'd gotten rid of his shirt, socks and shoes. At most, the dirty pants and underwear remained, largely because he wasn't going to go about naked. Walking with toe claws extended helped to confuse the nature of the footprints... in a superstitious area, they'd attribute it to a spirit or supernatural being of some kind... until enough rationality set in to suggest that a nova was at work. Donald hoped that would last sufficiently. And the claws helped in other ways than just a little bit of trickery. Evo set down his load while he moved over to move the foliage from his hidden spot, one of many he was making with speed. Once the piles of plant were extracted from the hole... a new pile was shown underneath... There, an interhamwe member, one who had apparently migrated over from the east- or so Evo assumed from memories of being in the east of the Congo last time, it had been clear that he and his band had attacked at least one village- lay, his neck at an angle not normally possible. He was berthed on a regular bandit, who Evo had strangulated with a rope of body-produced silk. And such was the contents of the grave. Better to keep hidden if no one knew there were bodies here in the first place. Evo dumped on top the other two bandits that he had to chase down. Both had fled but fallen over a drop high enough that when they landed badly, their necks broke. So be the tactics... these people preyed on innocents and without remorse- they had what was coming to them. Evo arranged the foliage back over the dumping ground and then once satisfied, headed out to the northeast. When one needed little rest, and no food or sleep, there was a lot of patrolling that could be done.
  8. Jael arced down through the sky, the now-familiar scenery below signaling that she needed to drop her altitude. She was on approach to Whistler, getting ready to enjoy a week of Spring Break in the least hip place on the planet. It wasn’t the kind of vacation she’d been looking forward to this time last year, but it only emphasized the changes Sunshine had brought to her life. Sometimes, it made her feel like she was giving her life up for someone else; other times, she didn’t really care. When that someone was Sunshine, it didn’t seem like such a big thing. The city was zipping by below her, the cars no bigger than decks of cards at this height. Far below her, the baselines went on about their lives, note even noticing her. If she walked among them, they’d notice, but at this distance, she was nothing to them. A flash of gold in the early evening derailed her thoughts. Jael had become so attuned to that particular hue of gold, with those swirling motes, that her eyes instantly snapped to it. A grin lit up her face as she changed the angle of her descent minutely to meet the comet of gold that was now soaring up to her. The two novas cut their speeds back just enough to not clobber each other. Jael was giggling as his arms wrapped around her; he laughed as she caught him around the neck. “I’ve missed you!” Sunshine said immediately, his breath warm on her ear. “And I’ve missed you, too,” Jael confirmed, hugging him a little tighter. She’d not been able to get up to Canada every weekend like she’d hoped and it had been, by her estimation, far too long. “Mmm, I’m so glad I’m here!” Sunshine pulled back from her, holding her hands gently in his own. “I’m glad you’re here, too,” he told her and she took that moment to study him. He was just the same as before, but there was a maturity to his eyes that hadn’t been there before. His time at school was aging him, just as it did to every other person. It made her a little sad, but she wouldn’t have stopped it for anything. “Hey, Jael, guess what?” he asked her, his expression becoming somber. “What?” Jael asked, tilting her head a little as a flutter of concern rippled through her. “BAM! COCK!” he laughed, his expression becoming jovial again. “I knew it!” Jael laughed in mock-outrage, lightly hitting him on the shoulder. “I knew you were going to say that!” “It’s still funny!” he giggled, spinning her around him. “Of course it is!” Jael laughed, letting herself be swung. The motion made her lightheaded, even more so than usual around Sunshine. “It’s BAM! COCK!”
  9. What if they gave a war, and everybody came? Picture the Congo. Tons of mineral rich areas. Lush jungles still with indigenous peoples, including the Pygmies, living in them. A corrupt government headed by a Taint-maddened nova. (No, really, it's in the Elites book). Envious enemies on all sides wanting a slice of the vast mineral wealth. Huge nature reserves and a delicate ecosystem that could easily be disrupted by nova-scale conflict. Grasping foreign mineral companies that can hire their own private armies to defend 'their territories' from all who would try to seize them. I hope everyone can see where this is going? A war series. Protracted, nasty, vicious and gritty. It might start with Elites, but would spiral on to involve potentially anyone: Utopians might try to stop the fighting, eco-conscious novas would be up in arms, Terats and Sphinx-types might get involved with an eye to the main chance, and anyone with even vaguely humanitarian ideals would be horrified at the catastrophic effect on the people living there. Given the narrative-over-mechanics nature of 200X, I think this series could kick a lot of ass. What this thread is for is to discuss a few points together, as writers. 1: Who's interested, or can see their characters getting interested, in this? So far, we have (and including their consent status): Einherjar: ex-Elite, free agent, up to something - Hardcore! Evo: elite, on hiatus and playing Batman - Hardcore! WhiteRain: Artist and Terat - Hardcore! Dozer: Construction Worker/elite, is discovering the joy of SMASH! - Hardcore! Bombshell: Actress, Model, XWF Star, part-time hippo-thrower - Hardcore! The Morrigan: elite, stabs things a lot - Hardcore! Sean "Loki" McCline: Elite, DeVries Rookie of the Year - Hardcore! Kazuo "Kurusu" Kanai: Elite, bad-ass, drinks like a fish - Hardcore! Aušrine Vasiliauskiute: Elite, Model, ex-T2Mer, long-suffering professional partner of Kazuo - Hardcore! Mahdi Diamant: Avenging Spirit of the Congo - Hardcore! 2: Where do we want this to finish? Options could include: The Congo turning into a wasteland... Utopia/The First World/God putting a stop to it with a massive amount of intervention and huge loss of life... One faction or another winning decisively, the Congo being split up between several victors, or (and this is a nice possibility)... The PC's (or a portion thereof) deciding the issue by joining forces and choosing the friendships they make over their faction loyalty, then taking control themselves. (This will be the hardest to write and portray accurately, and could end up with the characters involved having to run their own Third World country.) On level of involvement: Naturally, in wars people die, and not all of them are the other guy. In 200X there is a spirit of consent, but for this series to be the powerful story I and other envision, there has to be an element of danger. To that end, I'm suggesting three levels of involvement. - First: None. Your character doesn't get involved. Simple. - Second: Normal. If your character is "killed" by virtue of die rolls, mechanics, etc. then they're considered to be just short of mortally-wounded, but out of the rest of the war. - Third: Hardcore! You are butt-nekkid with your arse in the breeze. Your character can die. Taking this option means that yes, you could lose your character to another PC as well as to NPC action. We expect anyone who takes this option to write with that in mind! As an 'escape clause', if you don't want the character to die you can tap out. Tapping out means that you live, but are out of the war. In addition, your character's reputation and associated aspects take a hit worldwide. Unlike the Second level folks, you decided to go Commando, so tapping out is a wuss move and should be treated as one. Important: If you exercise the tap-out, you must actually state "Tap-Out" in a spoiler box. Successfully escaping death through your own abilities and/or wits is not a tap-out. Your character can evade their enemy and escape, but they don't suffer for it. OH! One issue that needs to be nipped in the bud before anyone raises it: If your PC is on the Normal setting, they cannot kill another PC any more than they can in turn be killed. And for the Hardcore! characters, a defeat that doesn't end in death does NOT put them out of the series automatically (of course, they could be injured for a long period of time, which might be the same thing technically). The only way for them to be knocked out is by them exercising their 'tap-out' option. Or dying, of course. And they can die at the hands of NPC's, all of whom are considered to be Hardcore! setting. Major canon NPC's might be involved, which is up to the Mods, but I recommend that they be given a Normal setting unless we as a writing community are willing to have the sword swing both ways and a major NPC killed by a player. Example of this consent system: Einherjar (Hardcore!) is ambushed by Blackthorn (Normal) as he tries to intercept a CZM weapons shipment. Blackthorn manages to put Ein down, but due to his own consent level cannot kill the Elite. Ein is assumed to somehow crawl away, play possum, or whatever (details worked out by the two characters in narrative fashion), recovers at whatever his health regen allows, then can rejoin the war. If Ein put Blackthorn down, the CZM dude would be out of the war. How this is written-up is up to the characters to decide. Perhaps Blackthorn is taken into custody by P.U, perhaps the Family pulls him out of there because he's too valuable to waste in some dirtwad country. Either way, he's out, but not dead, and he receives IC reward commensurate for his efforts, no disgrace attached. If both combatants were Hardcore!, they could choose to kill each other. The only way to avoid this would be by exercising the tap-out. This means that the guy who tapped out is somewhat lower on the totem pole than they were before, as word gets around that they basically begged for their lives, or ran, etc. Expect IC consequences, to be decided by the Mods. This doesn't take into account the fact that one might escape without tapping out, or the victor might CHOOSE to spare the other and let them fight another day. In that instance, the PC remains in the war and owes the other guy one (if they're the sort to express gratitude. There's no guarantee that just because you spare an enemy, he'll spare you.) Yes, the Hardcore mode is daunting. It's supposed to be. If you're not interested in making the choice between death or ignominy when your character goes down, stick to Normal mode. Rewards: The rewards should be commensurate with the risk. For the Normal folks, maybe a small increase in appropriate skills or backgrounds (Fame for their bravery/moral courage/ etc, or Backing, or Resources). For the Hardcore guys, I suggest more of the same, plus a potential XP/NP bonus to be decided by the Mods. In the case of character death: I propose that the player gets a bonus amount of XP/NP to apply to their replacement character. It takes stones to put our blood, sweat and tears on the block, and that should be rewarded rather than ignored. We're not here to punish people for falling foul of game mechanics, but to have a rewarding experience telling a really epic tale of war, human drama, and loss. NOTE: This does not apply to any character made after this proposal was posted. Only established 'iconic' PC's, whose players stand to lose more than half an hour's work or so, can receive this bonus to a replacement character. Through these fields of destruction, Baptisms of fire. Ive watched all your suffering As the battles raged higher. And though they did hurt me so bad, In the fear and alarm. You did not desert me - My brothers in arms. Have at it! UPDATE: Factions & Power Players in the Congo The Interahamwe meaning "those who stand/work/fight/attack together" is a Hutu paramilitary organization. The militia enjoyed the backing of the Hutu-led government leading up to, during, and after the Rwandan Genocide. Since the genocide, they have been forced out of Rwanda, and have sought asylum in Congo. They are currently a terrorist group hiding in the Congo and the Ugandan forest. Equipment: Varies. Third-world chic (AK's, RPGs,WW2 model pistols and rifles and smgs like the Schmeisser) to machetes and hatchets for when they want to save ammo. Some of the bands are better funded due to other activities such as slave running, organ-legging, and baraka cultist style nova-napping. Expect those bands to have good modern weapons, maybe even a piece of blacktech or two, and make use of Mite and Red-7 if they can get it. The most successful bands have novas leading them, naturally. Regardless of equipment, they tend to be undisciplined, vicious and non-professional. A charismatic leader can keep them in line, especially if he's successful in his ventures. But they're pretty much 21st century barbarian hordes with guns. Motivations: They claim to be fighting against the Tutsi-led government of Asani, but in reality the interhamwe are little more than bandits who use their 'war' as an excuse to attack defenseless settlement, loot, kill and rape. Once in a while they will ambush military forces or raid mining installations, but are careful not to be too big a thorn in the side of Asani or his foreign partners, who have deep pockets and lots of novas. They are mainly active in the east, where they disrupt humanitarian aid and raid the scattered farming settlements, but can be found all over the Congo. While the intehamwe lacks overt contacts with novas, a charismatic leader (especially a Mega-Charismatic one) could bring organization to this scattered threat. The interhamwe certainly has the numbers, the equipment and the fanaticism to depose Asani. All it lacks is the organization. In the absence of a figurehead, however, its members are left to disrupt trade routes, bomb the occasional government building and squabble among themselves. The True Democratic Republic: are rebels, seeing themselves as fighting for the democracy that Lambert Asani promised when he first came to power. Led by Alima Laurent, one of Asani's 'Six Heads', the novas who helped him into power now under a death sentence for sedition. The TDR is well-funded from an unknown source and regularly does business with Elite agencies, including DeVries, to hire elites to make surgical assaults on key Asani assets, particularly the Asani Mineral Industries' mines. DeVries happily supplies its elites for such a task, then turns around and offers Asani elites for 'security' purposes... in exchange for favorable shares in mineral rights. The TDR has no real soldiers of its own, mainly relying on CFF (see below) and mercenaries as well as elites to fight battles. The TDR is mainly comprised of intellectuals, frustrated statesmen and upper classes. They say that if they come to power they will finally bring democracy to the Congo. Which is the same thing the last three regimes, Asani's included, claimed also. The Congolese Freedom Front: By far the most active insurgent group in the Congo. the CFF draws its soldiers from villages all over the country. While Asani underestimates them as a gang of gun-toting children, the CFF is well supplied by at least half a dozen African nations and the United States. Most of its cash goes to hiring novas, who are key to the group's strategic attacks on targets across the country. It is headquartered in Gemena, where its members engage in daily shootouts with Congolese police and border patrols. Efforts in the east have been frustrated by the interhamwe. While it despises the DeVries Agency for its role in Asani's rise to power, they CFF has begun an independent search for elites willing to assist its cause. Mineral Interests: The mineral-rich nation of Congo was divided up by wealthy families after the colonists pulled out, but not evenly. Now that the Asani family is raking in money and taxing the profits of other interests, some mining operations have begun to hire their own novas to give them the clout (and sometimes the Mega-Manipulation) to influence the political process and earn them more profits. In the east, some mines have novas acting as glorified security to prevent attacks by the interhamwe, for Asani, as head of the Congo's largest mineral corporation, certainly does nothing to protect rival interests.
  10. Public Profile for 'Tora' From Novapedia, your nova encyclopedia Name: Yushiro Tanaka Occupation: Nippontai Member, currently assigned to Tokyo Special Joint Nova Task Force. Legal Status: Japanese Citizen Location: Tokyo, Japan Identity: Public Nova Name: Tora Place of Birth: Tokyo, Japan Age: 25 Eruption: Gang-related violence Height: 1.8288 meters Weight: 227.3 kilograms Eyes: Blue* Hair: Black Distinguishing Marks: Tora displays an altered physiology, which is present in about 3-5% of known novas. (citation needed) In Tora's case, this has manifested in the form of bionic* modifications to his musculoskeletal system [1] as well as certain organs, most visibly his eyes, which have been replaced with highly advanced imaging cameras. These seem from a distance to be striking glowing blue eyes, while up close multiple layers of shutters can be seen within a transparent outer housing. Approximate Power Level: At the time of his eruption, Tora's abilities, while flashy, were deemed to be rather modest [2], putting him in the lower 20% of known novas at the time. During the Heaven Thunder Purge of 2008, Tora displayed a dramatic increase in power level [3], although there has been speculation regarding whether these were new abilities or if he had been intentionally holding back before revealing them to the public. [4] He is now estimated to be within the upper 20% in strength, speed, and durability. (citation needed) Known Quantum Powers: Tora's most famous power has been the subject of debate amongst both nova-philes and scientists alike [5]. Related to so-called quantum summoning, or matter creation powers, Tora has the ability to manifest or call Akatora ("Red Tiger"), a quantum fueled "superbike" capable of surpassing the speed and handling of any engineered motorcycle. [6] Tora himself was altered physically, his bones laced with carbon-fiber and musculature replaced wholesale with synthetic myofibers [7]. This has fueled speculation that these modifications are actually technological in origin and that he is not, in fact, a nova. (citation needed) What is known however is that Tora has a "symbiotic" link with Akatora, enabling him to vastly increase it's performance. (citation needed) During the Nippontai raids conducted against the Heaven Thunder Triads a year following his eruption, it was revealed that Akatora is actually an advanced mecha, capable of transforming into a powered robotic armor that can encase Tora, placing him in the upper echelons of physical novas (citation needed) and providing enhanced movement in the form of jet-powered flight and devastating "sonic-saber" claws [8] that vibrate at ultrasonic frequency and have been shown to carve though armored vehicles like butter. [9] Abilities/Special Skills: Tora is a highly trained police officer [10], skilled in investigation and criminology, as well as being rated in a wide variety of S.W.A.T. and milspec anti-nova weaponry. Weapons Used: While in the field, Torashiro is sometimes equipped with both an Anti-tank Laser and an Ultra-machinegun on special hardpoints built into the sides of the motorcycle. [11] These become handheld weapons when in the mechaslave configuration. [11] Appearance and Personality: Tora was rated 96 on N!s Top 100 Hottest Nova Bachelor's listing for 2010[12], an award which he has disdained in interviews. [13] He is known to have a rather gruff and dismissive demeanor toward the press (citation needed), though he has been described by fellow Nippontai teammate Kyojin as "shy."[14] In a special feature for Noveaux Magazine entitled The Novas of Nippon, he expressed a humble perspective towards his celebrity saying, "We get all the celebrity, but it's the everyday cops on the street, risking their necks with no powers who are the real hero's." [14] He is rarely seen in public without his distinctive Ray-Ban sunglasses, for whom he has a contractual obligation for product endorsement under his Nioppontai contract. (citation needed) Early Life ----------------------------------------------------------- Tora was born Yushiro Tanaka to father Shigeru Tanaka of Tanaka Technology Corporation (TTC) and former actress and model Orihime Kurosawa, on August 12, 1985. He was 12 when the Fireman erupted and has said that "As a child, I admired novas, very much, and aspired to be like my heroes and serve my country. This I believe is what led to my becoming a policeman, though my father would have preferred I follow in his footsteps and become a businessman." [14] Tora was enrolled in the prestigious Osaka Preparatory Academy, sometimes referred to as "Nippontai High" both for it's proximity to that team's headquarters and for the several erupted children rumored to be in attendance. (citation needed) Several other novas are known to have attended the school including Novox starlet Nezumi. (citation needed) Law Enforcement ----------------------------------------------------------- After graduating Osaka Preparatory, and reportedly in defiance of his father's wishes, Yushiro elected not to go to America to attend Harvard Business School, and enrolled in the Tokyo Law Enforcement Academy, where he graduated at the top of his class and was recruited by the Tokyo Special Crimes Unit becoming the youngest detective in Department history. [15] From 2006 to early 2007, Yushiro was placed in deep cover, under the guise of "Tora" (The Tiger), and was able to successfully infiltrate and expose the narcotics smuggling operations of Ujio Usui, leading to the crime boss's arrest and imprisonment. [16] It was his first and last assignment prior to eruption. (Age 21, during the Ujio Usui trial, just prior to eruption.) Eruption (See Main Article: Eruption) ----------------------------------------------------------- Yushiro erupted on August 21st, 2007 during an assault on Route 1 while driving to Osaka. He was reportedly attacked by the "Pale Riders" a Bosozuku motorcycle gang. Yushiro was reportedly riding his motorcyle when he was accosted by the gang, who have been known to harass drivers. According to one eyewitness account, the Pale Riders "singled him out and ran him off the road." [17] where he crashed down into a ravine several hundred feet down. Yushiro then reappeared, "rocketing out of the ravine like a beast from hell" on the now famous Torashiro. Using his enhanced speed and strength, Yushiro ran down the gang and apprehended them. It was revealed later that the Pale Riders were linked to Usui's narcotic smuggling operations, although his involvement with the assault could not be proven. (citation needed) Nippontai See Main Article: Nippontai) ----------------------------------------------------------- Shortly after his eruption, Tora was approached by the Japanese government about joining the country's premier nova team. [18] Initially Tora was reluctant(citation needed), stating his duty and obligation to his department, but a compromise was reached when then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced the formation of a special Joint Task Force to combat rising nova-related crimes and terrorism in and around Japan. Members would be drawn from Nippontai, the Japanese branch of The Directive, and members of the elite Tokyo J-SWAT paramilitary police forces. Funding would be provided by the Japanese government with tech subsidies via Japanese industrial giant Kuro-Tek. When Tora heard the announcement he promptly volunteered, however due to the perceived comparative weakness of his powers he was allowed to participate in an investigative capacity only. (citation needed) Heaven Thunder Purge See Main Article: Heaven Thunder Purge) ----------------------------------------------------------- In 2008 a series of grisly kidnappings and murders were committed that attracted the attention of the Joint Task Force when nova involvement was suspected. [19] Preliminary reports suggested an isolated serial killer but further investigation revealed a turf war between local Japanese gangs and encroaching Chinese Triads. For 2 months during the fall of 2008, a series of raids were conducted to systematically shut down all foreign narcotrafficking in Japan. A number of pitched battles were waged between Task Force Novas and Triad enforcers culminating with a massive assault upon the Triad's Japanese headquarters outside of Chiba. Tora lead one of the J-SWAT units containing the perimeter when teammate Richter was badly damaged by Triad enforcer DeathWind who was was manipulating the weather and bombarding the law enforcers with supersonic strafing runs. In a startling turnabout, Tora's supercycle transformed into the iconic mechanized powersuit he is now famous for and engaged the powerful Chinese nova in high speed aerial combat. The battle ended 20 seconds later when Tora used his "Limit-Break Overdrive" ability to outclass his enemy in speed and maneuverability. [20] The raid, which was captured and broadcast on national Japanese television was dubbed the Heaven Thunder Purge by the media and put Tora on the map as the nova to watch in 2008. [21] Tora was promoted to field assault agent within the Task Force and received a Parlimentary Medal of Valor. Public Perception ----------------------------------------------------------- Upon eruption, Tora was immediately proclaimed a hero by the police department [22], eager to curry favor with their new nova agent. As with all Japanese novas, Tora is worshiped as a celebrity and is considered a deity by the devotees of the Kamisama Buddhist sect. After the Heaven Thunder Purge, Tora's popularity skyrocketed in Japan. [23] He has a persona and reputation of being "cool under fire" as well as being both humble and independent of thought. (citation needed) These traits have ingratiated him with the government while making him a champion of the common man. Due to his vocal stance on Japanese national pride [24] he is seen as being a symbol of patriotism, and the technological manifestation of his abilities fit in perfectly with the premise and presentation of the Japanese Saisho mentality. In other Media ----------------------------------------------------------- Tora's manga, "Born to Ride" is the second most popular in Japan, outselling all titles except Kagemusha's Shadow Chronicles. He has appeared in several anime series including the feature film Red Sun Rising as well as two OVA series, Mutant Crisis Tokyo and ADN Police Files. Tora is a playable character in the 2009 and subsequent versions of Capcom vs. Novas. Merchandising ----------------------------------------------------------- Tora'a action figure was the hottest selling toy of the 2008 Christmas season in Japan [25] and featured in Toyfare magazine in the U.S. in January of 2009 spurring sales in the west. His figure comes bundled with a fully transformable Akatora made of die-cast metal (plastic in the U.S.). It currently ranks number 35 on Toyfare's worldwide bestseller list. [26] In Japan, several nova-philes have kitted out their motorcycles in an attempt to replicate Akatora's look and motorcycle suits have been made to mimic the look of his Neofiber costume. Numerous other merchandise exists, from lunch boxes and t-shirts to wall posters, motorcycle helmets and Halloween costumes. [27] This nova biography is a stub. You can help Novapedia by expanding it. =========================================================== Estimated Power Levels: Strength: 7 Intelligence: 6 Speed: 8 Offense: 7 Defense: 8 Versatility: 6
  11. Aberrant: 200X - Ask A Nova!

    ((Here it is, the Ask A Nova thread! Use anonymous-type characters to represent the questions of curious baselines. This is the only section of the OpNet forum which is considered to be viewable by non-novas.))
  12. 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.
  13. Aberrant: 200X - Songs of Despair [FIN]

    Late April, 2011. Approximately 8 days after the VCCE. Minneapolis. Someone was playing a tenor sax. A student, from the looks of him, busking on a lazy Spring evening on the edge of Kenwood Park. From where he was, C.H watched the young man play to the passers-by, skilled fingers eliciting warm golden tones from the instrument and making some college girls smile and flirt with their eyes as they passed by, and C.H. felt... nothing. No nostalgia. No yearning to have his old horn back so he could go down there and play alongside the student, riffing back and forth so skillfully that they would draw a crowd and make magic there in the park. No, he felt nothing solid, nothing tangible as the music throbbed and sang on the evening breeze. Instead he was aware of a phantom pang of something, the feeling an amputee has for a limb that is there no longer. The nova mused that perhaps he should feel badly about it. But he didn't, and that was that. He had made a choice to survive, down there in the darkness, and he didn't regret it. Of course, he doubted real regret was possible anymore, either. There was now only abstract, intellectual acknowledgement of errors made, of dissatisfaction with himself. The music was beautiful still, the notes spilling over one another in perfect asymmetry as the young player improvised skillfully. But it didn't stir him anymore. He didn't feel the need to play again. Another desire drove him now. He pondered that, as he clung to the side of a building three stories up, his pigmentation altered to blend in perfectly with the brickwork, listening to the sounds of copulation inside with no more emotion than he would listen to crickets chirruping in the park. The house on Lake of the Isles Parkway was expensive, as befit the Executive Director of Research for the Triton Foundation's sizable Minneapolis facility. That man, Robert J. Stephens, and his wife were the ones currently engaged in the bedroom whose window C.H. waited beyond, musing coldly over his new drives and direction in life. He had become a monster, he knew that. His eruption had made him, for whatever twisted random reason, an inhuman predator by nature, someone who consumed living creatures and absorbed them utterly into himself. He'd read theories that eruptions were shaped by the subconscious or conscious desires of the nova, but he was proof that theory was flawed somehow. The C.H. who had-been was no predator. He was a music-maker, a lover, a friend, and a warm human being. Not a devourer or freakish skin-stealer. Triton and Proteus hadn't turned him into a monster - his eruption had done that. They'd tried to turn him into their monster, perhaps. Attempting to force compliance, trying to break down his will. But C.H.'s mind was every bit as resilient and adaptive as his body - nothing they had done had taken for long. Even Mox, tailored for nova physiology, had ended up simply building his immunity to it. He was a living example of "That which does not destroy me will only make me stronger". And finally they had locked him away in the darkness, unable to risk letting him out of his cell, barely able to risk feeding him, and thus forcing him to adapt once more, becoming able to suspend his vital functions for months at a time, And it was in this state Sluice had found him, and told him of Teras. In the lucid dream-state of his thoughts, the two novas had talked and shared experiences, and the Terat telepath had mentored C.H. on the first unsteady steps of the Path. And the circle had become complete: His eruption had made him a monster, Triton/Proteus had prevented his human nature from asserting itself during his formative stages, and now Christian Hellion Blues had seen clearly, considered himself in relation to the world around him, and decided yes, he would become the Monster. Why deny what he was? What purpose would it serve to try and be 'human' when he was so clearly not one, whether in body or mind. I'm not really C.H. anymore. he realised as he clung to the bare wall and watched the two humans inside fucking. Mrs Stephens was 15 or so years younger than her husband, a devoted mother and a loving wife. He felt the phantom pangs of conscience as he considered what would befall her today, but ruthlessly quashed them. Her husband had been the Triton doctor who'd authorised C.H's transfer to Bahrain all those years ago, and was in all likelihood a Proteus operative. Harris's memories had been quite emphatic on that - It was Robert Stephens who'd inducted him, almost Masonic-fashion, into the cabal within Utopia and it's subsidiaries responsible for 'shepherding' the nova flock. C.H. thought the term appropriate - shepherds led their charges to the slaughterhouse too. Not C.H. Then who am I? No wonder most Terats took new names, titles as much as anything. They had finished, the man rolling off his wife and cuddling for a few minutes before she kissed him and rose, walking to the bathroom. The man also rose, sweat from his exertions dampening his hair, and crossed to the window. C.H. slowly ducked below the line of sight, hearing the catch being thrown and the window being opened to let the cool evening air into the hot room that smelled of perfume, cologne and sex. All was just as it had been a few nights previously, whilst their children were out at the movies or with friends. C.H. could hear the shower running, heard the man walk to the bathroom door and announce that he was going to the kitchen, and did she want anything. He narrowed and elongated his form, slipping through the half-opened window noiselessly before snapping back into his more humanoid shape. Ahead of him the two baselines bantered, the woman laughing as she told his target to close the door. Stephens did so, grinning as he turned - and ran straight into the figure waiting behind him. C.H. extended one hand into a pseudopod, wrapping it around the man's neck and mouth and lifting him from the ground. A black spur with a wicked, serrated edge tipped the tentacle, waving in front of the horrified bulging eyes as an extra loop of the fleshy coils ran under his arms, keeping him from being inadvertently hanged. C.H's black eyes studied Stephens as he turned him this way and that, as though a lepidopterist examining a specimen caught in a net. He raised a finger of his other hand to his lips, admonishing silence as, in the bathroom, a tap squeaked and the shower turned off. Both men fixed their eyes on the door, but then Stephens watched in stifled horror as the previously upraised finger became a slick black stinger, the tip hypodermic-sharp, and the slender figure of the man- the creature thought long buried in the past stepped towards the door just as it opened and his wife came out, towelling her hair. There was a nova-swift flicker of the upraised needle-finger as it jabbed into an exposed armpit, and the woman's cry was stifled into a drawn out moan as whatever chemical the monster had secreted was pumped into her body, causing her to stumble forwards and sprawl on the floor. With another moan, she turned over clumsily, her eyes drifting in and out of focus as they tried to fix on the sight of the man with a tendril for a hand holding her naked husband aloft. "Hello, Mrs Stephens." C.H. said urbanely. "Allow me to introduce myself. I was called Christian, and your husband did things to me, as well as ordering things to be done to me. One of those things is what I have just done to you, namely injected you with a large dose of Datura, a rather dangerous psychoactive." He crouched down, absently holding the imprisoned man captive, and nodded in satisfaction as he saw the woman's pupils dilate wildly, expanding to cover near the entire iris. She broke out in a sweat then, moaning a little under her breath as she started to rub her legs against the carpet. He straightened, turning to look at the man in his grasp, who's eyes were alive with fear and concern as he looked at his wife. "It's not a nova-strength dose, of course. That would be immediately fatal and the object is not so much to kill as to punish. Punish you, in point of fact. But she probably will die, if she is not hospitalised. That would be kind - I've given her a triple strength dose and in all likelihood that, combined with what she will see here, will unhinge her entirely. She won't remember much at all, but she will probably spend her days with permanent and cripplingly severe neurological damage." C.H.'s eyes bored into Stephens'. "I'm going to call an ambulance, Doctor Stephens, just as soon as you and I settle accounts. Because I'm not kind." He crossed to the window and closed it, then returned to stand in full view of the tripping woman sprawling naked on the floor. Then he concentrated and began to absorb Stephens much as he had Harris. He uncovered the man's mouth, letting him scream in agony, grief and fear as he was drawn inexorably into the nova's body. From the doctor's first scream, the woman began to shriek too, the horrific sight and sounds of her husband meeting his monstrous fate rending at the weakened walls of her sanity. As before, C.H. let it be drawn out, kneeling before the shrieking, moaning woman and grabbing her head between his hands, forcing her to watch as her husband's screaming face was swallowed up by the rippling flesh of the Terat's body. She screamed and tried to reach in to grab him, her hand encountering a solid chest instead of the taffy-like substance she expected. C.H. released her and stepped back. "Robert..." she sobbed in a slurring voice, reaching out towards him, her mind teetering, barraged by the psychoactive and the horror she had just witnessed as she started to scream wordlessly once more. Her mind found no surcease in unconsciousness - the drug would not allow that. Nor would she be able to properly describe what she had seen - whatever the amnesiac effect of the drug left behind would be blurred by her inability to distinguish what was real from what was not. Assuming she was ever again lucid enough to describe anything, of course. Or for that matter wipe her own ass. Inside himself, C.H. heard Robert Stephens crying and raging, and permitted himself a thin smile. He briefly considered wearing the man's shape and brutalising the woman as her husband, but to be honest felt little more than abstract contempt mixed with pity for her. She had served her purpose now, the deed was done, and Robert Stephens would spend the rest of his existence screaming and regretting what his actions had brought not only to him, but to his family. His flesh rippled before the still-screaming woman's eyes, taking on the form of her husband wearing a plain grey jogging suit. "Goodbye, Helen." C.H. told the woman in her husband's voice as he left, shutting the door on the shrieking woman. He called an ambulance from a payphone in the park.
  14. 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.
  15. Okay, I've seen someone with Performance Prodigy somewhere, but I guess I just haven't found the rules for it. I was looking at making a general Performance based enhancement as well, and have three ideas for how to make it. I'd like some input on which way seems the most balanced, fair, and/or flavourful. 1- Performance Genius: This one functions just like Artistic Genius - Always active, costs no quantum. Make a Charisma roll, each success adds an automatic success when making Performance. I like this one, because, to me, Arts seems to most analogous to Perform, rather than the skills used with the Mental Prodigy enhancements. On the other hand, compared to many of the other enhancements, Artistic Genius does seem to be overpowered. 2- Performance Prodigy, mark I: Functions just like the other Mental Prodigy - spend a Quantum point. Make a Charisma roll, each success adds a die when making a Performance roll. Benefits last for a minimum of an hour, possibly longer at the Storyteller's discretion. 2- Performance Prodigy, mark II: Functions just like Physical Prodigy - spend a Quantum point, Nova gains +3 automatic successes to any Performance rolls for the scene. What do you guys think?
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. May 11, 2011, 5:34 a.m., Eastern Congo Sean had suspected that he’d have some moral qualms working as an Elite. So far though, he’d had little issue with any of his missions. It was like Quasar had said: the Congo was a shithole filled with walking shitholes. Unless you went nuts and started killing civilians, you didn’t have to worry about who you were killing. The nova hovered silently in the air, peering through the binoculars at the entrance to the mine. It was over a mile away; even with the magnification on his equipment and his own enhanced perceptions, the people appeared to be little more plastic toy soldiers. “How’s it look boss?” the sexy feminine voice in his earpiece asked. The term made Sean smile. This was his op – the first time that DeVries had trusted him to go off without a more experienced Elite mentoring him. The baseline team down there was his to command; the success or failure of this would be his success or failure. “Quiet,” he said, lifting his eyes from the glasses to peer around at the area. Darkness was starting to cede to the sun, leaving the sky and ground thick shadows, impossible to separate with the eye. Only the eastern sky had any measureable light in the area. Before them, the peaks of the Ruwenzori Range seemed to be the teeth of a massive jaw, tearing at the rising sun. “Alright, Julia, let’s make some war.” “You got it, Loki,” his captain replied. He wasn’t there, but he could almost see her burly form turning this way and that as she gave the orders to the ground crew. There were ten trucks, each carrying an impressive number of C-701 Chinese missiles. Though only 100 kilograms each, the relatively little warheads packed quite a punch, especially with the upgrades that DeVries tech had done to them. Grinning, the young man tucked his binoculars onto their pouch and dropped from the sky. A mere twenty feet from the ground, he caught himself with his flight. Gleefully defying gravity, he shot forward, trusting that the missiles just starting their course through the night would avoid him. The sensor on his back would protect him, sending out a signal that would alter their course. A missile wouldn’t kill him but it would piss him off; it’d be a shame to waste a missile. Their purpose was to kill and disorient the baseline guards outside the mine and create chaos. His would be to incapacitate the nova guarding the mine. That made Sean nervous. He knew that DeVries wouldn’t have picked him if they didn’t think he could handle it, but it was still troubled him to consider his first one-on-one combat. This is your job, he told himself, rolling over on his back as he heard the missile parting the air above his head. Hazel eyes watched through the holes in his mask as the sleek, silver forms and their associated contrails arced over him. Twisting back over, Sean slowed his speed, timing to come in well behind the missiles. He wanted them to flush out the nova, letting Sean get the drop on him or her. That was the plan; Sean only hoped it worked. I wish DeVries had more intel on this nova… but sometime we don’t get what we want. As the first missile struck, he dropped to ten feet off the rocky ground and cut his speed back, sharp eyes watching for his opponent.
  19. 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.
  20. Aberrant: 200X - The past comes knocking

    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!"
  21. 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.
  22. "We should just kill her," someone said, voice thick with fear. The soldiers were trembling as they held their guns. She could feel the fear radiating from them. These men had seen what Novas could do when they went to war. No doubt they had thoughts of fire and unholy energies blazing in their minds. Little did they know that if faced with such things she would be more likely to comment on how pretty the shades and colours were than to erect some great force field or gird herself for battle. Oh she had practiced a little in the distance past, with Scrambler. He had always been eager to teach her how a shapeshifter could defend themselves. Chang had never been interested in it, though. She had learned, as she tried to learn everything about her own limitations and every possible use of her abilities. But faced with a Nova who trained in such things, she would be as defenseless as... well... as she was right now. Her node ached, it felt ill. She could feel quantum energies dripping from it, swirling jerkily in it. It felt like a heart in palpatation. If they opened fire, she would die. They did not, though. Every time one finger twitched on a trigger, it relaxed at the last moment. She could see reluctance in their eyes. Not born out of kindness, but lust. Oh she had a cock all right, but she had other parts, too, and she was more comely than the women they had seen. These thoughts writ themselves large on the men's faces. The dilated pupils, bulging trousers, tongues running across lower lips. Rape then murder, they were thinking. But what could she do to stop me? A thick-set man wearing the camouflaged green uniform and red beret of the Congolese army jumped down from a jeep and approached. He bore more sigils and signs on his breast than the others, and a pistol rather than a rifle. Chang believed that marked him as an officer. He did not seem happy to see her, nor eager to murder her out of hand. It seemed a marked improvement on the demeanour of the rank and file, at least. He looked her over, face expression curdling in distaste as he viewed her member. She doubted he often ran into wounded, naked, beautiful and tainted Novas even in his line of work. "Who are you?" He asked, every word laden with demand. "May I dress myself?" She asked. At first it seemed he would repeat his question. But then he frowned, and his eyes darted around her, at the plane, at the blood, at the wreckage around her. "I see no clothes." "I am a nova. I bring my own." She clenched her teeth. The pain was not lessening, but she was getting used to it. The man nodded. "This may be somewhat alarming. Please don't shoot me." Chang waited a moment for another nod, and then her hair came to life. She began to wrap it around her body, while the soldiers gasped and started talking loudly about killing her. The officer, though, held up his hand for them to wait. Her hair wrapped her body and tightened like a cocoon, then morphed into a thick camouflaged jacket and black cargo pants, with many pockets. She left a hole where the wreckage had penetrated her right leg, so the shard of steel could be removed later. At the same time, she formed a loose sling underneath her jacket, for her broken left arm. With a few adjustments of angle, she felt her arm was appropriately supported. That said, how could she tell? Her biology had transformed enough that Chang could only tentatively be defined as human. Ordinarily that pleased her, but it did cause a few quibbles when medical issues arose. "My name is Chang Zha-Yang," she said, "otherwise known as White Rain. I am not an elite, but an artist." The truth, she thought, might not help her much in this instance, but she prefered to be honest with the world and herself. Nonetheless, her words choked in her throat for a moment. These men were carrying many guns. "I came here by accident, as I'm sure you must have realized." The officer looked her over, focusing on the wound in her leg, assessing how much danger she posed. "You yield?" Chang nodded. "Bring me the cuffs," he said, extending his arm towards his men. "Your left arm is broken?" She nodded again. "So much the better. Expose it." Chang unwound her hair from her arm, made a momentary split in her jacket, and winced as her arm fell free. The officer received a pair of glistening manacles and approached. She knew of these. Shock cuffs, she had seen them used on Novas in the past. Hyper tough and capable of delivering an agonizing electric charge when needed, they were generally enough to keep a hyper-physical Nova from being a threat. They were not much of a danger to a flexible shapeshifter like herself, though. Nonetheless, she gasped when he seized her wrist and yanked her left arm straight. Stars exploded in her eyes, and she breathed heavily as she manacled her wrists together, then violently threw her arms down at the ground. When her left arm collided with her body, Chang let out a long hiss of pain and pitched forwards. For a moment she thought she may have lost consciousness, for in a flash her eyes were full of the molten texture of the fire-blasted earth. Some of it had been scorched near to glass. A new pain, but tolerable, filled her being as the officer grabbed her by the hair where it melded into her clothes and yanked her upright. She looked up in time to see the butt of his pistol as he whipped it into her head. The air filled with mocking laughter as she pitched backward onto the ground, a gasp no more dramatic than a baseline's escaped her lips. "Get her up, put her on the back of the wagon, and keep your guns on her. But don't shoot unless she attempts to escape. The commander will want her interrogated first." Chang cried out when they grabbed her by the arms and dragged her to her feet. The cry earned her nothing but a kick to the wound in her leg, and now tears of pain formed in her eyes. She had never weighed much. Now her feet dragged as she was carried to the wagon and tossed on it like a sack of potatoes. The metal felt oddly forgiving underneath her. Oh, it was hard enough, but she could feel miniscule cracks in the metal. An old vehicle, this, one weighed down with use and stained with blood. Lying on her side, she was surrounded by the scuffed boots of a dozen soldiers. Whatever fear they had felt being in the presence of a Nova had melted away and been replaced with contempt. They shoved her with the muzzles of their guns, else kicked her when they liked. Her flesh bent oddly, betraying her unnatural flexibility. That amused them, and they kicked her harder. She endured, stayed as silent as she could. But that enflamed them, and when the hardest of their kicks took her in the eye she cried out and curled on herself, while their commanding officer told them to lay off. It seemed a sad way to meet her end. A small, pathetic thing. It would not do. Chang thought of Shae, the beautiful changeling who had cavorted for her, taking different forms for the camera to drink up, of Sunshine with his music and aura, of Edward and Bombshell and Scrambler who had plunged her into this situation. So much potential. So much to come that she had not experienced. Good reasons to live. She tried to rest. For now she had no power, and no opportunity to escape.
  23. 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.
  24. Mid-April - Rogers Arena, Vancouver People had been gathering at Rogers arena since the early afternoon, even the pre-show with its more low-key items on the donation block drawing a fair crowd. Now, the arena was jammed packed, natives and the displaced, people all status levels from all walks of life from across the nation and across the world all sitting together. Some came for the genuine plight of the victims of the Crush, others for the chance to see the entertainment they demanded, and in some cases, would be part of, and still others used it simply as a venue to be seen. Tens of millions, maybe even hundreds, of viewers were tuning their OpNet networks to the right site, waiting in baited anticipation as Jim Ross, Jerry 'The King' Lawler, and Curtis Shane gave a recap of the Nova Auction from the night before and the highlights from the preshow, with the aid of OLED screens embedded in the double-thick vitrium walls. Sakurako was still in the control room, ViaPad in hand, making sure everything was running smoothly. In the upper levels of the arena, Alex 'Sunshine' Andrews was cutting a gorgeous, enthusiastic swathe through VIPs he was leading to their private, skyboxes. Even being warned about the attention he would get, Alex was surprised. But at least for the most part the starlets and musicians and politicians had too much self-possession to end up going to far. Though Lydia Divine's and Katie Holmes thinly veiled, chic lesbian relationship was fraying badly as Alex led them to their box, one on each arm and being devoured by their eyes. Katya chuckled at the sight, forming a darkly seductive, imperious couple with the man who earned her company for the Event with a generous donation, Radu 'The Impaler' Szlaniskovich, as they waited for Alex to return. And in the bowels of the arena, the XWF fighters and other novas that were participating, by hook or crook or a too pretty smile, were getting ready. Some took it in good-natured stride, a few cursed what they already knew they getting involved in and dreaded what they didn't know, and others treated like any other job. Egos clashed, with titans like these, it couldn't be helped, but they didn't flare too high, smothered under proximity to the site of the Victoria Crush and what this night was purported to be about. In her dressing room, Jason 'Bombshell' Bellefleur fixed her shimmering, silver hair, then stood up and studied herself in the mirror, lips a master sculptor could spend a lifetime trying to capture their perfection curving wryly at the sight. Damned fans! Still, I'm kinda lucky, it coulda been worst... She was dressed to the nines - in her case, the tens, elevens, and twelves - in glamorous, ravishing evening wear. Her eufiber was deftly contorted into a pair of five-inch pumps, elbow length gloves and a glossy, deep indigo-trimmed-with-silver evening gown that almost glowed, cut to reveal the length of her devastating, endlessly long legs and a great deal of her spectacular breasts in a sexy, but not trashy, way. It was accented by tasteful pearls at neck, wrist, and ears, flawless and subtle make-up, and a sophisticated updo, stunning face framed by tasteful strands of silver hair hanging loose. I'm glad they have viewer discretion warnings, 'cause more than one guy or girl is gonna have a heart attack at the sight of me, Jason thought, by now, long used to arousal she caused in herself. She looked to the side, her smile growing wider and fond. And in others. She bent down - her heels giving her a near foot height advantage - and gave Danielle 'Knockout' Waters a deep kiss on the lips, enjoying the feel of their abundant assets pressing together. "Time to get this show started, Dani," Jason finally said, her silvery, sultry soprano filling the room. Naturally, she had been tapped to host the event, and she was glad to do it. She had lost some close acquaintances, friends, in the Crush, some bodies which had never been recovered - this was just one way she able to say good-bye and still feel like she was helping. It was the little things, like how Danielle had organized her own donation requests, low-key, but so accessible to everyone that made Jason realize how she loved her. Beyond their shared experiences and exaggerated beauty. "See you soon, and hopefully we ain't gonna regret any of the requests you accept, eh?" She gave Danielle another kiss, a squeeze on the her delightful ass, then she turned gracefully on her heels and sashayed to take her place in the center of the combat zone. In the arena, all the lights dimmed, the crowd falling into an anticipatory silence.