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Aberrant: Nova World - Chapter 1: Depths of Chaos

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Calvin Aziz was unusually troubled as morning came to Houston. A great many projects were underway, ranging from the development of a large population sustainable space station, down to quantum research on the root of the Surge, as well as why it caused some to become tainted and twisted monsters, and others it granted fantastic powers as novas. He had just ended a call with the Security Chief of Japan, with a most troubling problem. Four Hours earlier, the Japanese Navy had been conducting maneuvers Southeast of the main Islands, when they detected a massive quantum zone forming. It was the first new zone that had been detected in three years, and Three of Japan's fifteen novas had been deployed to investigate. After ten minutes they lost communication with the team, and within a hour, The 2nd JSDF fleet went radio silent. Since then no contact had been made, and The Japanese government sought assistance from the the leader in quantum studies, even as they began to redeploy their fleets.

Within Five minutes, the Secretary of State called, asking Novastorm to send a team with all haste to Japan to investigate this new and obviously dangerous new zone. Satellites were already being moved to focus their sensors on the new zone.

With the expo having only been a day prior, Calvin sighed. "Whom shall I send?" The company would be Compensated fully he was sure, one way or another. He quickly typed up a summons to The group of Novas who'd been present at the Expo. They were all still at hand, they would do nicely. By assigning half his nova staff, he was gambling big, putting many projects aside for the moment, but a new zone with such prodigious offensive abilities, it was something they had to unravel fast.

"You are to Meet in Conference room Seven in thirty minutes, a debriefing will follow, then deployment of all personnel to the incident." He hit send and sent the text to everyone who'd been at the expo, and sighed. It would be enough.

He rose from his desk, and began to make his way down. He called up the one nova he knew he could count on to move so many, quickly. "Transit, I will need your services, likely within 1 hour."

"How far?"
"Japan."
"Not cheap."
"It never is, but time is of the essence. I'm assembling my team, It will be two drops, on personnel, the other gear."

"Standard rates."

"Mary will wire half upfront, half on completion, as always."

"A pleasure as always, Cal." The call ended as she hung up, and he sighed, two million in expenses already, and that was before the began talking gear. Using a dataslate, he began the process of assembling gear with a priority for scanning gear, with some offensive weapons in the mix for defense, not all novas were gifted combatants. as it came under his personal code it would all be assembled in the dock, crated and ready within an hour. All that was left now, was to bring the team together.

each of you gets the text from Calvin, and knows where he's calling you to. It is a secure situation room, used for high level operational meetings. not the highest level mind but enough to warrant multiple novas present. please post your reaction and arrival to the conference room. Once we Have everyone we'll get going. There has been a complete news blackout on this matter, so far, but i suspect it won't last.

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Code Z, Confidentiality Ultraviolet
Encryption Level: Platinum
You are to Meet in Conference room Seven in thirty minutes,
a debriefing will follow, then deployment of all personnel to the incident.

Sakurako had holed up at the Houston headquarters of Novastorm, and seeing the message come over her personal channel was indeed a motivator. It was from Dr. Aziz, that's the only way it would be assigned a "Code Z". Sakurako knew not to respond to it via a text, that could give too much information for any hackers that might be listening in. But she did send a follow up message over a less secure line disguising her response as a typical business message.

Doctor, I will be sending my latest blueprints to you in person.
Expect me in 1 minute, 45 seconds. -Sakurako

She adjusted her overalls... well, her overalls made of her personal Eufiber suit. Then thought, changing the suit into a form-fitting white and pink suit with a hexagonal pattern, and treaded embedded shoes. Grabbing her lab coat she grabbed her dataslate and her security clearance tag and ran as best as her 4'3" frame could haul via the stairs, sliding down banisters and landing on her feet on the level Conference Room Seven was on. She swiped her card on the security lock and the doors unlocked. She opened both doors as she walked in. She was easy to ignore, until she announced herself in some sort of disruptive way.

,,

"I'm here, boss!"

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Holly on the other hand flew into work and landed just side and ran the rest of the way to the conference room.

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Holly enters the confrence room panting before checking her watch. She's clad in her Eubfiber outfit which looks like a black sweater with a blue shirt under it and black jeans and a pair of sneakers.

,,

"Whew. Made it. Hey Saku. What's up?"

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Kait had crashed at the lab after the Expo was over, a feat that was quickly becoming a tradition, but after a week of entertaining media and moguls - as well as shepherding a dozen teams of nervous scientists through the public debut of projects that would make or sink their careers - she felt a night of sparkling drinks, left-over buffet food, and falling asleep without the lengthy commute home was worth it. Of course, Daniel was still playing wall-to-wall PvP matches in The Old Republic when her phone woke her up with it's urgent beeping and Calvin's text. She scrounged around for an apple and clean clothes while she sent a reply that she'd be there ASAP.

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Daniel frowned at her as she altered her Eufiber into a business professional configuration, complete with white lab coat. "Aren't you supposed to have like a week off now?"

,,

"Situation's come up that can't wait," she murmured sleepily and hugged him, still trying to wake up completely.

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Her husband hugged her back, still frowning. "You sure you're up for something big? You look exhausted."

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"M'hungry. And I dunno. I'll see in the briefing. You gonna be okay here? Or head home? I probably won't be back until late." The apple was already down to its core, and she started rummaging for any stray donuts.

,,

"I'll head home in a few hours. Keep me updated, okay?"

,,

She nodded, scooped up a half-empty box of glazed donuts she vaguely remembered Daniel running out for in the middle of the night, and made her way to Conference Room Seven.

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Dr. Delacosta had left the expo early (once he'd had his thoughts in order) and returned to HQ where he could get to his office. He'd sent his formal suit (his ONLY suit) to the cleaners and now sat in his usual button-down shirt and slacks under a lab-coat. He'd also just finished a particularly difficult series of equations proving his original assumptions wrong.

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"Wonderful...back to the drawing board again." he muttered, as he shunted the page with his calculations into a file specially made for all the dead-ends he'd reached. The mass-summons got to him just as he was getting up to go for a cup of coffee. "Platinum encryption, Z-level? Hm, well at least I don't have time to wallow in failure" he thought to himself as he set off for the conference room.

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He walked in with a fresh coffee just after Holly had dashed in, "Miss Holly, Miss Sakurako" he greeted both in his usual formality as he took a seat at the conference table.

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Sakurako smiled. "Holly!" She shouted before hugging her. "I would have picked you up, but the XF-37 is a single-seater, and my paper airplane isn't the best ride for a passenger." She said with a blush. "That and I've not learned how to land with the paper airplane, so I really shouldn't risk having you have a chute failure, and dropping you in the water would still be a major thing to do."

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She sighed. "I really need time to practice."

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Dr. Delacosta walked in, and Sakurako nodded. "Hey, Dr. Delacosta! Missed you at the Expo. After my presentation I had to have a few meetings with the Navy's aviation department over the first demonstrations of what my aircraft can do from a carrier."

,,

Then Dr. Kaitlyn showed up and she became even brighter in expression. "Doc!" She said with a smile. "Nice to see ya!"

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As usual, Serena had been one of the last ones to call it a night. The outgoing nova loved a good party, and the Expo after-party never disappointed. She'd rented a hotel room for the night just down the street from HQ, and flown herself back there once it was all over, leaving the flashy red Tesla parked at HQ's infinitely more secure facilities. She'd released Jess once her performance was over, sending her away with her more traditional clothes and shoes, and exchanging it for the Eufiber suit. She knew quite a few novas who used their Eufiber almost exclusively, but it was never quite the same for her, as much as she appreciated it's practicality.. plus, the fashion industry was a huge creator of jobs, and she enjoyed being able to throw her influence around in support of the companies whose practices she agreed with. So normal clothes were something she still indulged in fairly frequently.

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But good gods, did it save time packing. Last night it had served her well for party clothes, and now, this morning - far, far too early this morning - she found herself molding it into what was, for her, a default set of business casual clothes - a simple pair of wide-leg black business slacks with a grey pinstripe, topped off with a grey tailored button-down shirt belted at the waist with a thin black leather belt and a pair of simple grey leather flats. All that took no more than five minutes as she gave both hair and teeth a quick swipe.. thank goodness she woke up so much faster nowadays than she ever had before. As she headed downstairs to the lobby she dug a pair of simple silver medallion earrings out of her purse and slipped them into her earlobes.

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As the young man working behind the counter in the upscale hotel's cafe prepared her breakfast croissant sandwich, she glanced over the text again, a slight frown furrowing her brow. It sounded important, but it was the "deployment of all personnel to the incident" part of the message that had her a bit confused. Normally her business for Dr. Aziz and Novastorm was conducted solo, or with a diplomatic group of some sort. But this wording - combined with the list of novas that had received the message - made it sound like an 'all hands on deck' sort of situation.

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"Ms. McCoy? Your breakfast." The slightly flustered employee held out the sandwich to her, neatly and warm to the touch. He was used to novas, being right down the street from the Novastorm headquarters, but still.. she was so damned gorgeous.

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She flashed him a smile but tried not to overwhelm the young man, and motioned towards a bottle of water. "Thank you. I'll take one of those too, please. Just have them charge it all to the room, okay?" She normally passed on bottled for environmental reasons, but the rushed timeframe demanded the occasional exception. He nodded, and off she went, stepping outside and floating up into the air high enough to avoid distracting any passing traffic. The she made the short flight down the street, landing just outside the building. She made her way through security and up to the conference room, walking in with about seven minutes to spare.

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"Good morning, everyone." She sat down at the table, crossed one knee over the other, pulled the egg, spinach, and cheese croissant sandwich out of the bag, and then twisted open the bottle of chilled water and took a long drink. "Anyone know what this is about yet?"

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"Just waiting for the others, Miss McCoy." Sakurako said, taking a seat near where Holly was. "To be honest if almost everyone's being called up, this is definitely not any dress rehearsal like the last few training exercises."

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She adjusted her labcoat. "And particularly with the security rating of the message, I wager this is something bigger than just seeing how well we can triage. This is a bit more... sticky, I'd wager." She really hated being the victim in training exercises. Almost as if the good Dr. Aziz expected her to be getting into peril at the drop of a hat.

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When Max walked in Dr. Weaver gave him a confused expression. "Max, that was fast... did Transit?"

,,

"I was still in town from the Expo. Left a bit late. Challenged a pair of sorority sisters to shots last night."

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"Uh, you can't get drunk." Dr. Weaver pointed out, quirking a brow at the hedonist.

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"They didn't know that." He offered the smile he was famous for and set about plugging his tablet into the room's computer to download his research from home from the company's cloud drive. "I was about five minutes from the gulf when the text called me back. That new thermal case is working great by the way, thanks again."

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He didn't really spend time greeting everyone, hell he worked with these people a majority of the time, they knew him, he knew them, he left it at that. He took a seat and relaxed himself. He looked to Sakurako. "It would stand to reason he'd not send out a Q, platinum, whatever-the-hell security blah, blah... message to all of us for a training. Is that one of your powers? The ability to explain the obvious?"

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He smirked, being a smart ass was part of his nature, and leaned back in his chair with a deep sigh waiting for his tablet for finish its data transfer.

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Seraph had spent some of the time after the expo getting the promised car, title and all, with insurance fully paid for the next two years, as well as a few other bells and whistles. She had then returned for the after expo party with the rest of the nova's involved, but hadn't stayed until the end, though she hadn't left as early as Delacosta, as she wanted some time to herself.

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She was resting, not that she actually needed sleep anymore, but she found that she still preferred to take a few hours a week to rest her mind at least. So she had been spending a few hours surrounded by only plants and animals, avoiding people for a while, and allowed her thoughts to wonder, when she got the call, and made her way to the conference room.

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She nodded in greeting to Dr. Weaver as she passed her, with regards to bio-sciences and linguistics, she had collaborated with the scientist a time or two, and arrived in time to hear Kane speak. "I suspect as much as being a smart ass is one of yours. I don't suppose you can be persuaded to spare us your razor sharp wit at least until after we know what this is about?"

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Beth sat cross-legged on the roof of the building, talking softly. The small laptop laying across her legs was “listening” to her, transcribing her spoken words into words on the document open. It was a special program written for her by Kait; it had learned what her pauses, inflections, and tones meant, and inserted the appropriate punctuation. It also made adjusted its programing if she manually corrected something, learning her style even more. It had seriously been one of the best birthday presents ever.

,,

The early-morning sun pressed warmly against her as she spun out the final battle for Roccio’s army, an epic battle that would decide the final fate of all the characters who populated the High Peaks. She’d shifted her eufiber to “writing clothes”, a loose, comfortable pair of pants and an oversized shirt. It harkened back to the days when she wrote in her pajamas. Now she felt weird if she wore something else.

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Her phone buzzed and Beth paused the program with a few taps on the keys. Picking up the buzzing phone, she raised an eyebrow at the encryption designations and names. Wonder which nerdling came up with those, she thought as she opened the text. She knew it wasn’t Kait; her friend would have used mythological creatures or esoteric numerology or something Sumerian. Kait never passed up a chance to indulge her love of mythology.

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The message stopped her errant thoughts. She hastily stood up, gathering up her computer and phone, and shot into the air. As she circled around the building to the upper entrance, she changed her clothing to her suit. The gray stormclouds were darker and more ominous today, the sharp lightning strikes matching her rising anticipation.

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She came in behind Seraph, her mouth curling in a wry smile as she heard Seraph’s remark to Max. “I see the kids are fighting already,” she teased gently, dropping into the seat next to Kait. She leaned forward to wave at Rena and started to snag a donut, only to think better of it and leave the box alone. “Might want to save it for whomever is causing trouble today.”

,,

“Who says it’s a someone?” Rena asked her with a teasing smirk.

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Beth shrugged good-naturedly, used to her smarter friends outmaneuvering her verbally. “Nothing. I just like beating up monsters with a personality. I feel less like I’m killing an animal just doing its animal-thing and more like I’m knocking down a villain.” She grinned widely and added a callback to their early days as the KC Angels. “I guess that’s just the superhero in me.”

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Kait had been in the process of her own food theft as the others filed in, stealing a chunk of Rena's croissant and replacing it with an equal sized chunk of glazed donut. Rena watched the "stealth" maneuvering with an arched brow and Kait grinned unrepentantly at her friend the entire time. She relaxed back into her seat, ignoring the sniping because it was way too early to care (no matter what the time of day it was, it was too early), and enjoying her bit of warm breakfast.

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When Beth made a move on the donut box, Kait edged it closer to her, hovering over it protectively while giving Beth a mock glare. She tried to stifle a giggle at the superhero comment, but ended up just snorting and muttering something about supervillains. Knowing Kait - and her relationship with both Beth and Rena - it was probably highly inappropriate. The giggles refused to stop, though, and she ended up curled up in her seat, munching on a donut like a hyperactive squirrel and trying to find where she'd misplaced her 'serious face' to.

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"Beth has a point." Max agreed. "Animals, even quantum aberrations, don't really know any better. Same goes for the people too. They're just scared and mutated, studies prove that their minds are go the longer they're in that state. Fascinating stuff."

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He rolled his eyes at Seraph's comment, finally unplugging his tablet, he sorted through the data looking for specific files. "It's called camaraderie, Seraph. It's all in fun. I keep forgetting though that I'm dealing with people of whom the majority possess the social acumen of a pineapple. So congratulations, you have saved Sakurako from my friendly, albeit razor, wit."

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As beautiful as Seraph was, she was about as attractive as jerking off with barbed wire. Shame too, girl looked great in a bikini... now if only she had the sense to wear actual clothes. The thought made Max smile silently to himself and suddenly most were aware that he was the only one in on his own private little joke.

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Setting his tablet down, he stood and walked to the back of the meeting room where the coffee was stashed. "Grabbing some wake up tea. Anybody want anything while I'm up? Coffee? Tea? C'mon people place your orders."

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Jay had left fairly early from the 'after party'. He still wasn't very comfortable in the whole 'nova spotlight'. He much preferred to act and be thought of as a regular person. So he left early from the after party to go home to his off-campus, normal person apartment. He had gone to sleep fairly soon thereafter, but he'd left one of his clones up to find out what they could found out about the new city they were stationed in. Jewelry stores, clubs, police stations, supermarkets, company headquarters, malls, banks, and anything else that a newcomer to the city might need to know.

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In fact, it was the clone that was surfing the web that was awakened by the alert. He closed the computer, and then woke Jay up before recombining with him to deposit all the info he had gathered. Now, Jay wasn't a morning person, never had been, so he created a clone to go down and get his morning cup of joe and bring it back. He also made another clone to go and pickup some breakfast for the group. Doughnuts and coffee were almost a given, so he decided for something different. With his newly acquired knowledge, he knew that there was a Panera nearby, and so he picked up an assortment of breakfast souffles. All of this while he was getting himself ready.

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28 minutes after the text was sent out, Jay straggled into the meeting room with a Panera coffee cup and two boxes of breakfast food. "Hey guys, still not used to the area; got turned around a couple of times... but I brought food if anyone's hungry!" It was his first time working on a team for NovaStorm, so Jay had figured it'd be best to make a good first impression. The only person he'd really interacted with, aside from HR and Dr. Aziz, had been Dr. Delacosta last night. Since first impressions were everything, he hoped he'd be making a good one.

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Dr. Delacosta had left the expo early (once he'd had his thoughts in order) and returned to HQ where he could get to his office. He'd sent his formal suit (his ONLY suit) to the cleaners and now sat in his usual button-down shirt and slacks under a lab-coat. He'd also just finished a particularly difficult series of equations proving his original assumptions wrong.

,,

"Wonderful...back to the drawing board again." he muttered, as he shunted the page with his calculations into a file specially made for all the dead-ends he'd reached. The mass-summons got to him just as he was getting up to go for a cup of coffee. "Platinum encryption, Z-level? Hm, well at least I don't have time to wallow in failure" he thought to himself as he set off for the conference room.

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He walked in with a fresh coffee just after Holly had dashed in, "Miss Holly, Miss Sakurako" he greeted both in his usual formality as he took a seat at the conference table.

,, ,,

"Heya Doc Del. How's it goin'?" She said with a wave.

,, ,,

She is then hugged by Sakurako.

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"Hey Saku. Sorry I missed you at the Expo."

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She smiled.

,,

"Besides I think I can fly a little faster than your paper airplane." She said as if practically saying "Let's have a contest after work's over"

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Sakurako raised her hand as she started watching the last bit of her data download for the briefing. "I'll just take something with a boatload of sugar, Max. My brain likes that. Something like a soda... Mountain Dew or something like that. Dr. Pepper tastes like seven shades of evil. And thanks."

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She was completely not even moved by Maxwell's barbs. They were actually amusing. At least he noticed her.

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"Holly, I'm not too worried about races right now. I tend to keep my plans up in the air past two weeks with the work we do. Never know what'll happen. In fact depending on this briefing this will set back my plans accordingly. But if this is about what I think it is, I really think we'll be busy for more than a week."

"And hopefully all of us makes it back in one piece."

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Sakurako's last sentence hung in the air. Usually she was the more optimistic person in the group. Then she grinned. "With me with you guys, I wager we will."

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“Yes, because we would surely die without you along,” Beth said drily. There was still a hint of teasing to her voice but there lingered an edge of annoyance as well. Considering the looks she’d cast around the room during the wait for everyone to arrive, it wasn’t just Sakurako putting her on edge.

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Sighing, she closed her eyes and rested her head against the back of her chair. Had her job always been this tiring? I’m getting old. It wasn’t the first time she’d thought that and it wouldn’t be the last. There was always an administrative position here for her, if she wanted it.

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Despite her thoughts, Beth knew that it wasn’t about being tired or even liking her job. She’d taken an oath to fight for those who couldn’t, and being tired wasn’t part of that oath. She didn’t get to quit just because it wasn’t fun like it used to be. The rub was that the job hadn’t changed; her coworkers had and that was another issue entirely. Most of them made her feel old despite her vigor and health.

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It was a matter of mind over matter: because she minded it actually mattered.

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She put the thoughts from her head. “Anyone know what the emergency is? Any rumors or speculation?” She hoped it wasn’t a Zone-flare – she hated those.

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"Breakfast on, Jay. Sweet. I'm always down for free food." He quirked a brow and paused. "You did pay for this, right?"

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Max didn't really wait for an answer, he was hungry and didn't give a damn. When Dragonstorm chimed up over Sakurako implying she was necessary for success, he smirked and replied to her. "Sorry, Stormy, no." Max replied calmly as he slid a cup of coffee to her. "Y'look beat, girl. Try some go-juice." He patted her on the arm softly.

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"Near as we've been able to speculate so far is that all of us are being called in, which means it's either registration for the Christmas party, or a real shit storm has brewed somewhere." He shrugged as he walked back over to the coffee maker.

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At Max's question Jay gave him a confused look. "Uhh... Of course I did.? It's too early for them to be giving away free breakfast stuff." Does he...? How...?

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In a louder voice, enough so everyone could hear, but not loud enough to be trying to get everyone's attention. "Everyone, feel free. I've already had mine, and if you don't they'll just get cold and go to waste! And no, I have no clue what's going on. Though I do agree with him," he pointed to Max, "but I don't think this has to do with Christmas."

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"Sorry Jay, I've already ate." Sakurako said. "Besides, nothing beats my usual. Nothing." she said with a grin. "Then again if people here knew my usual, you guys would wonder why I'm not sumo-size... or probably lose your lunch. Perhaps both. Spam has no respect."

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She sighed looking at her tablet, inching her seat up so she was properly at everyone's level at the tables.

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"Although we should try to stretch out the doughnuts. The chocolate ones might be useful if we're going to be out in the field. Might want a morale upping nomm or two. Chocolate does wonders with stress... at least mine."

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"I thought last year's Christmas party wasn't that bad." Shannon entered, smoothing out his suit and smiling hello to everyone. "So we wait for the briefing, then." And he snagged a doughnut from the boxed goodies. "So," he said, searching for a seat, "How was everyone's night?"

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The mention of spam turned the physicist a pale green and she slowly set her donut down, glaring at the now-offending glazed pastry with forlorn longing. "Eh. Spam has no respect for the same reason zits have no respect." She gave a small shudder and pushed the donut farther away from her on the table. She laid her head on the table and muttered to herself, "Great, now any time Spam comes up, I'm be seeing spam-zits in my mind."

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She scrubbed at her face, obviously still a bit strung out from the previous week. "Max! I need coffee, but decaf, but hot chocolate really!" She grinned at the oceanographer and nodded to Shannon as the shapeshifter took his seat. "Morning. Good. Full of video games and junk food," she said, answering his question.

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"I have an uncle who loves Spam. I remember he used to have an old, vintage-looking Spam calendar hanging out in his shed. He said he went to the museum once when he and my aunt were up in that direction.. Minnesota, I think? I've never tried it, although I admit I was always a bit curious. I used to eat liverwurst on crackers with Grandpa when I was a kid, and it doesn't seem like it would be that different..."

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At least a couple of the other novas there gave her an odd look. Serena didn't talk about her family too much, she preferred to let them lead quiet lives and as a result she didn't like to name-drop very often. It was always "an aunt/uncle" or "my niece/nephew", but the rustic picture she'd just described seemed miles away from the glamorous image seated in front of them.

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She shook her head slightly, as if dismissing a memory. Then she glanced up at Max's offer, and flashed the chef a smile. "I'll take a Coke, or a sparkling juice if there's anything in that little mini fridge. The carbonation makes me feel more awake."

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Sonja was on the phone with Bad Daddy, working out the details for the SX3 after-party ending Miami Fashion Week. She sat at the kitchen table, dressed in a pale silk robe, an enormous plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast before her and a quart of orange juice at hand.

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It had been a long night following the end of the Expo and while Amber didn't need to sleep or eat, Sonja needed some sleep and was ravenous in the mornings. But she had always been a morning person and her Nova constitution just made them easier.

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Dressed in a crimson Miami Heat jersey-dress that came to mid-thigh, emblazoned with the number 69 and Ambrosia written across the back, Amber walked briskly through the apartment, Zanotti wedge-sneakers whisking softly as she got ready for an early flight. She was scheduled for a shoot - as both model and photographer - later today in Rio De Janeiro.

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Cozy and well appointed, the penthouse apartment was sized for Sonja's great stature, with footstools and other standard-sized additions scattered around for Amber's comfort. Sonja was in Houston often enough that she wanted a place other than another undersized hotel room to call home when she was in town and so found a place not that far from the NovaStorm campus.

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"... sorry, Bad Daddy, but if I took you up on the offer, I'm sure you'd ruin me for women forever, and Amber would never forgive you that," Sonja bantered with a rich chuckle, sharing an amused rolling of the eyes with Amber, as her smartphone beeped.

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As she read the text, her tone grew somber. "Gotta run, Bad Daddy, an emergency just came up. The menu sounds great - just make sure to have plenty of wings for me and Heidi and I'll get Tyra to show up. Ciao!" Sonja hung up and set her phone done as she called out to Amber in the bedroom. "You're gonna have to reschedule the shoot baby, the office called."

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"What's happening?" Amber called back. Sonja could hear the sigh and pout in her voice.

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"Don't know, but it sounds serious. Fancy codes and encryption and all that."

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Sonja quickly finished her breakfast, downed the rest of her orange juice, then walked into the bedroom to change. Amber leaned back on her hands on their bed a smile on her lips as she watched her giant of a girlfriend slipped out of her robe.

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Sonja pondered only a moment before putting on her eufiber, forming it into a smart navy-blue skirt-suit, snowy blouse, dark stockings and sensible flats, since she loomed enough without heels. As a fashion designer and clothier, Sonja preferred natural/man-made garments, but eufiber was damned convenient, especially if Transit was on hand to send them into a Zone, and it's protective value couldn't be underestimated.

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No stranger to a catwalk, it didn't take Sonja long to get ready to her satisfaction and plait her long, pale hair into a tight braid. She grabbed her sword and bow - both made with the scientific wizardry of the NovaStorm and suited to her height and strength - placed them in their transport duffel then glanced over at Amber, who hadn't changed clothes, but had added the small carry-bag that held her high-end digital camera and tablet that she used most often for work.

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"We usually dress business-casual for these things," Sonja commented wryly, "unless we're jumping directly into the danger zone."

,,

Amber glanced down at herself, running a hand down a hip well displayed by the form-fitting dress. She, of course, looked amazing. "Looks casual to me, and perfectly fine for business," Amber countered playfully. Both of them maybe have been models, but they had entered the industry from vastly different directions. "Besides, it's Eufiber - I can change later if I really have to."

,,

"Fair enough," Sonja laughed, cupping Amber's ass with her large, strong, yet gentle, hands and boosting her up for a kiss. "Let's roll."

,,

Sonja drove them in her customized hybrid SUV and it was closing in on the time limit for the meeting when they parked at the facility. Sonja checked her long strides to her considerably smaller girlfriend's pace with habitual ease, but she knew where they were going.

,,

Soon, Ambrosia was gliding into the conference room, Sonja ducking through the doors after her, her weaponbag over a broad shoulder. Sonja smiled and nodded in greeting as she took the chair at the foot of the table - it gave her more leg room and the chair was larger and heavier to support her size and weight.

,,

Amber gave everyone a small wave. The fair-haired and lightly tanned seven-foot-seven Amazon contrasted drastically with the five-foot-even, duskier coloured pin-up model and photographer, but the stunning couple wasn't an uncommon sight at the NovaStorm campus. Or in the Tabloids and Entertainment Newsfeeds.

,,

"Morning ladies and gentlemen... and Max, " Sonja said with grin, crossing her legs and leaning her bag against the side of her chair. "I Hope we haven't held anything up."

,,

She quirked at brow at Serena, having just caught a bit of the Spam comment, but just shook her head. She never ate the stuff herself and couldn't begin to wonder why it was brought up. But with the animated Sakurako and Kaitlyn in a squirrely mood after too much video games and junk food, who knows where the conversation would go before Calvin showed up and dished the details.

,,

"The emergency isn't a giant, mutated Spam monster running rampant outside a Zone, I trust?" Sonja teased, but her violet eyes were intent.

,,

Every time they dealt with a Zone, they learned more about them. Hopefully, one day, they would learn enough to do something for her sisters and parents - and many other friends and acquaintances - lost in the LA and NYC Zones.

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Dr. Delacosta availed himself of the assorted breakfast foods Jay brought as soon as the first person had something. As each member entered the situation room he favored them a nod in greeting but otherwise waited quietly. It wasn't until the conversation turned to Spam that he paused his impromptu breakfast. "Spam...calendar? You all keep using this word Spam...I do not think it means what you think it means..."

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Seeing Sonja walk in sort of made Sakurako jealous. Here Sonja is, super tall and Sakurako stopped drowing... Then again she wasn't doing much growing in the first place before her node woke up. Then she eyeballs the box with still a few chocolate donuts get near and she made her move grabbing two and setting them on the table with the wax paper she took as well to use to keep the table from getting messy.

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"Sort of wish it was a giant spam monster. It would fear me for I'm a Spamivore." She said with a joking tone. "Makes great meat for omelettes."

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She giggled, seeing her tablet was near complete. "Kaitlyn, think of dots. All the dots." She said with a smile. "Then again, I prefer Simulators or FPS over MMO, MMO's feel a bit like easy-mode, but then again my Rogue always delivers on PUGs."

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"Sakurako," Kait said with as much patience as she could muster at the moment. "I want you to do an experiment for me. Try switching places in a conversation in your head and say what you're saying to others to yourself before saying it out loud. I am fairly certain you don't mean to sound as condescending and rude as you do, but it's starting to grate. For example, what you just said comes across as 'MMO's are for people that don't ever want a challenge in a video game. Real gamers play simulators'.

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"As a different example, earlier this week you informed me that because you're short, you have to design smaller cockpits so you can personally flight-test the aircrafts, but that that sort of complicated engineering talk is 'way over my head'. You basically called me stupid. Or informing Serena that we do 'real science' when she made a light-hearted Girl Genius reference when speaking to us." She held up a hand and added, "Again, I don't think it's intentional, but you really need to think a bit more before you say things or you're going to quickly alienate everyone around you."

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She nodded to Max as he placed a steaming cup of hot chocolate in front of her and sipped cautiously at it. She didn't know if she'd get through to the pink-haired engineer or not, but at this point she felt that a direct action was needed before Kait or one of the others really bit the young woman's head off with no previous warning. "Also, chocolate donuts a made of win with awesomesauce. And chocolate. Which is marginally more awesome than awesomesauce."

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Sakurako scratched her head. She wasn't aware her own filter was in that sad of a state. She honestly looked at her nature as the only way people would notice her beyond what she works on. People ignore her, she gets louder. Was this what people thought?

Just what was she supposed to do now? If no one would listen to her in any measure why is she even there? She blushed half out of embarrassment and the other half through a spike of blood pressure as she started to get frustrated and angry. If a psychologist picked apart her current state, one would not be out of line saying Sakurako's emotional maturity sometimes matches her physical appearance.

,,

She stumbled over her words for a moment before trying to change the subject. "So... a.... any guess as to where we'll go, everyone?"

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Being a NovaStorm employee, things were different. Sure you had the freedom to do what you wished in your free time. Though when the boss said jump, you didn't ask 'how high', you jumped. Amber was so hoping to get to Brazil too. It was one of the unspoiled beaches of the world. Sure, shooting and being shot there was all well and good, but the weather ascenery made it one of the closest places to Heavan according to Amber.

"Tsk," Amber voiced her discontent at the impromptu assignment, "If this weren't NovaStarm, you know I'd be on a plane in a few hours," she spoke rhetorically. Sonja knew. Amber talked about Brazil ever since she got the gig at the expo. She had impressed some very wealthy investors with her portfolios.

Amber pulled out her phone and hit the InstaVine app. "No Brazil. Work to do," she said with a sigh. She flipped the camera over to Sonja as the eufiber covered her body, being sure to get every type of teasing angle. She flipped to back to herself. "I guess I can deal," she said with a giggle. "I hope you know, if that gets onto the net, I will have to kill you," Sonja warned playfully as she posed for A few shots of Amber's camera, "I love you, but just saying." Amber smirked and pulled the video and pictures into her private files. Which placed them on her camera and erased them from her phone. Amber was smart enough to know that phone pictures and videos get leaked. None of that happening here.

While the two were mad dashing for the NovaStorm offices, Amber was on the phone with investors. Luckily they were quite accomodating and said to reschedule when she could. Amber knew this would probably mean a paycut, but again, NovaStorm demanded and she obeyed. After that she called her mother who was set up in a plush hotel with some extra cash to run on. She informed her that the trip to Brazil was off to a while. Her mother didn't sound too sad, Amber could tell that she had scored some kind of substances. At least she wasn't getting into any type of trouble yet.

"Hear ye, hear ye," Amber said stifling a laugh as she entered the room, "we have come to eat cake and take care of business and there seems to be no cake." She looked around just to be sure and shook her head. Sonja soon followed after her with her own greeting. When the conversation turned to gaming, Amber shrugged. "All greek to me," she chuckled. Amber noticed a few fresh faces in the room. Though it was a familiar face that caught her eye: Serena McCoy. It was always great to see Serena. Amber saw her as an equal in beauty. A very stunning equal. Lightly skipping over to Serena, Amber greeted her with a small curtsy. "Miss McCoy, it's a pleasure to meet you again," she said with soothing voice. "I'm Ambrosia, we met at the Expo."

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Serena smiled warmly at the other woman, sat her bottle of water down and held out a hand for Ambrosia's politely. Amber took it, noting that the stunning musician's handshake was cool but firm, and quite businesslike. "A pleasure, Ambrosia. I recall the meeting, although I seem to recall getting pulled away from the conversation earlier than I would have liked. Of course, I've heard so much about you from Sonja, I feel like I know you a bit already. I believe we did a function together in London.. oh, nine or ten months ago? Right after you two started dating, and she was properly besotted already, if I recall."

,,

She flashed Amber a playful grin, and motioned to the chair next to her. "Please, have a seat. I hadn't realized you were working for Novastorm! Of course, I'm not part of these group missions as often as most of the others, and I've been out of the country quite a bit lately. When did you join?"

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Once everyone had sat down with what drinks and food there was to be had, Dr. Aziz himself entered, and the door closed, locked, and sealed behind him. "This will not be a long meeting, we have scant little time." He made several strokes on his dataslate and the projector overhead came to life. It showed japan, and more disturbing was the legend, "Ambient Quantum level" Southeast of Tokyo, a large white cored area, recorded only moments before spread thirty kilometers across, and over 400 km long... The entire zone stretched all the way down to Marianas Trench area.

,,

"We are looking at a new zone, responsible for the loss of 1/3rd of the JSDF Navy, and three of Japan's novas. We have been contacted by the State department and asked to study this, and stop whatever inside created it." He looked at them. "This is the first zone of this scale to appear since S-day, it is an unprecedented chance to learn, and inestimable disaster if it continues to spread, especially to mainland Japan. As such the japanese Government also has asked for aid, and will render all available aid to us in our efforts to do as we've been asked."

,,

He scrolled the data back, and they could see the most startling thing. This Zone was Mobile. It's core moved across the water, heading for the mainland..

,, ,,

"Before this morning this zone didn't exist..."

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"Where is the intended engagement point?" Sakurako quickly asked. "Not that I'm up for going in over my head on this. Literally. I don't got gills." She started studying the map. "Then again I don't want to be 0 for 2 for being on a boat either."

,,

She didn't relish what this could mean... and letting that get to land was unacceptible... if it could be stopped. Her bluster was gone. There was a slight bit of fear on her face, even.

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Kaitlyn found her 'serious face', her mind quickly slipping into the analytic mode. "Have satelite pictures been able to determine what is at the heart of the zone?"

,,

A mobile zone? That's just what the world needs. Is it possible that something living is creating it? Or is this the new wave a fuck-us-over weather we can expect in the nova age? She was quickly jotting down notes and random thoughts for review later, but what she needed now was more information, and likely the only way to get it was going to be being in Japan.

,,

I hope we can figure it out before we lose another city.

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Earlier...
,,

Ricardo just sat there, staring at the screen of his smartphone, time at a standstill. A few moments before he'd been engrossed in a 6 on 6 match of Hardpoint Domination in Titanfall on his XBox One in his simple but well-appointed housing on the Novastorm campus. Not sleeping seemed fantastic in theory but over the many weeks since his eruption, boredom had begun to set in, the lonely nights filled with endless television, UFC pay-per-view, gaming and the occasional issue of Playboy.

,,

With the gaming at least he was able to have some kind of output for his inherent competitive nature, but it was hardly of the visceral quality he was used to. So it was that the text had come through, and in such a way as it could not be misconstrued, that this was to be a mission. His first mission. A flood of feelings came on unexpectedly, trepidation to be sure...while the nature of his employment had been spelled out very clearly for him, it was only sinking in at this moment what it really meant. Fear and doubt mixed with excitement as he logged out of his match and turned off the giant wall-sized plasma screen. A sudden silence filled the room as he stood up and felt his breath return to him. It was time to get ready...

,,

Oh what he wouldn't give for a suit of Eufiber, the ultimate toy for a fashion victim. However the substance seemed to react rather poorly with him, because as soon as he attempted to "charge" it with his own signature (so that his own powers wouldn't destroy it and leave him in his birthday suit), it withered and died.

,,

While it was true that with his powers he didn't really need a costume; with his field he could wear his favorite pair of autographed kicks without worrying about so much as a scuff. However, it was the principle of the thing. For better or worse, novas had inherited much of the iconography of the last 75 years of pulp and comic history.

,,

Fortunately for Rico, he'd met the Amazonian athlete Miss Bahaar a few weeks prior and the two had bonded over Ricardo's asking for advice in fielding the inquiries from Disney and Marvel studios. She'd offered to have something made that would suit the young man's sensibilities and invited him to visit her offices to be scanned for a bodysuit. The same bodysuit now hanging in his closet...

,,

The material was state of the art, loose like fabric for ease of dress, but once worn, with the press of a sensor at the wrist, the molecules realigned into a skin-tight configuration that mimicked the slick seamless look Eufiber was capable of; real super-hero chic. The suit was one piece, and covered from just under the jaw to the extremities, leaving only the skull uncovered. It was mostly a dark green, with a bright yellow diamond superimposed on the front and back of the torso so that only the top and bottom points were visible, the lower angling down the abs and the upper point at the collarbone. A solid yellow stripe traveled down the side of each arm starting at the side of the neck and ending in an arrow on the back of the hand, and a similar stripe traveled from the armpits down the sides, where it intersected where the side points of the diamond would have been, and down the legs to the integrated booties with rubberized soles in the style of athletic toe-shoes. Taken as a whole, the costume suggested the Brazilian flag, with an athletic edge, without being too overt in the manner of a certain Captain; acknowledging the South American's national pride, while accentuating the international scope with which Novastorm operated. A masterpiece of modern design really, as only Sonja Bahaar could have created. Of course no outfit would be complete without accessories, so she included a matching pair of sleek oval yellow-colored goggles made of carbon fiber, titanium, and blue mirrored bulletproof glass. Sadly, the nova diva and designer had been mobbed by fans and businessmen at the expo, and Ricardo had not had a chance to thank her.

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A few minutes prior to the start of the briefing, Ricardo had entered in with little fanfare, but wearing his new getup. He smiled briefly at his benefactor, but said nothing, seeming quite introspective and oblivious to the bickering and banter of the others. It was obvious he was a bit nervous. He had met nearly every Nova present over the last 90 days, save only for their newest hires.

,,

He digs in to any food available, but drinks mate through a gourd and bombija he had brought with him. The mateine had no effect on him of course, but the flavor was a comfort, and reminder of home.

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After Dr. Aziz had explained what was known of the situation, Ricardo raised his hand. When called upon he asked his question.

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"Dr. Aziz. The Japanese novas who were sent in were veterans of their team. Most of us however have never trained together, let alone for an incident of this magnitude. Do you think we are ready?"

,,

Of course the underlying subtext was clear. Did Dr. Aziz think he was ready?

,,

"What is it, exactly, that we are supposed to do? Do we even have a protocol for this?"

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A mobile zone...That WAS unprecedented, and more than a little intriguing. The open ocean, while not his literal 'element' was still a familiar terrain for one whose career entailed offshore drilling inspections.

,,

"This event, what is it's actual speed? It seems this mission will be on a timer, so we will need to know how much we have left before the event hits Japanese soil." After a moment's thought he added, "The sudden loss of 3 Japanese novas along with their military seems alarming, but I suspect it is due to some form of jamming from the event itself. Of course, if I'm right this will make any reports impossible until we've finished the job. Have they actually confirmed the destruction of the missing third of their fleet or it this supposition due to lack of communication?"

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"If Dr. Aziz didn't think we were ready, Ricardo, we'd not be in this room having this conversation." Max's words were sympathetic to Ricardo's question but they carried with them that edge of sarcasm. He wasn't intentionally being a jerk, but his veiled point was clear: 'Doubt on your own time. We have a job to do.' "We're gonna do fine, Rick. We don't have any other choice. We don't get medals for second place, we get coffins."

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He folded the cover over on his tablet. "Ladies and gentleman, I hate to be the pushy sort, but if this thing is in motion we should get our gear together and get our butts moving. We have a variety of means of digital communication these days, I'm sure Dr. Aziz wouldn't mind filling us in while we're en route. Even with a warp it's going to take us some time to get a base camp established, compare their notes to ours and all the while, it's coming to swallow a country. Granted it's a country of used panty vending machines and cartoon pornography, but they make decent RPGs for the Playstation 3, so I'd prefer we not let it sink."

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Sakurako heard Maxwell's words and snapped to. "Actually, we'd need a boat... that thing is still over water at the moment, and we cannot let that reach landfall."

,,

"I'm with Mr. Kane here. Time is of the essence and we can't waste it wringing our hands trying to predict every eventuality." She said looking to him with a smile. Then she turned to Dr. Aziz. "If those men lost their lives, they weren't as prepared as we are. If they are just lost, they need us to save them, and quick. Seems this is a SAR operation combined with a research and containment operation. Just what we've been hired for."

,,

"I wager we can't send a ship or large boat through a warp, so I'm guessing we're going to be getting wet. What are the weather conditions..." she pointed at a location on the map, about 4 nautical miles from the mobile zone between it and Tokyo "...at this spot? Water temperatures, wave conditions, and wind speed? Also who among us can't swim?"

,,

"I wager some of these eventualities will be assessed with our kit loadouts?"

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"Well... that... is a possibility... although both options we're prepared for, I'd wager." She said, scratching her head. "And I do know my way around a boat, luckily." She said smiling. She waited for Dr. Aziz's response...

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Jay mostly just sat and listened. He still wasn't entirely for sure why he had been offered a position with NovaStorm... though he was glad for the job. He finally did speak up though. "I agree with them. The quicker we get out there the more time we have to figure out what we have to do to stop it. I don't know what exactly I can contribute, but if nothing else I can carry some supplies and lend multiple hands where they're needed."

,,

He leaned back in his seat and tried to disappear again. Hopefully he'd find a way to make himself useful.

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