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Chuckg

Aberrant RPG - Random nova news and fluff

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Chuckg    1

I'm working on a 1999 Aberrant game for my tabletop group, and to get feedback and just to share the fluff, am going to be posting some of the "news of the world" type stuff I'm writing for the front of the campaign document, like the core book did for the game line.

 

And so, behold random news articles and blurbs from the first year of novas, some of them based on canon, some of them with me filling in blanks on canon, and some of them just made up completely.

 

We start out on N-Day...

 

Headline article of the New York Times, March 23rd, 1998:

MIRACLE FIREMAN SAVES CHILDREN FROM INFERNO

A collision between a school bus and a gasoline tanker truck on the 400 block of Roosevelt Avenue in Queens amazingly resulted in zero fatalities and only minor injuries when responding FDNY units from the adjacent Engine Company 273 were suddenly reduced to the status of bystanders at what can only be described as a miracle.

The collision had resulted when a sudden brake failure on the school bus resulted in its uncontrollably entering an intersection against the red light and directly impacting a tanker carrying several thousand gallons of gasoline to a nearby fuel station. Both vehicles were entangled in the wreck as torrents of spilled gasoline drenched the street.

"That intersection is only a couple blocks down from the station house, so we actually saw the crash ourselves before dispatch got the 911 call to us," said Captain Ron Beckwith, commanding Engine 273. "But even with as fast as we got the pumper rolling we could still see it was one of the nightmare scenarios. There must have been fifty kids in that bus and the entire street was soaked in gas for dozens of feet around. Thank God that it didn't go up right when they crashed, but even with some of the older kids getting the back door open and tryin' to get everybody out as fast as they could we still knew that so much as one spark from anywhere would have the whole intersection covered in flames before we could get everybody clear. And sure enough, me and my guys had barely gotten down off the truck and the hoses hooked up before FWOOM, we saw it ignite right before our eyes. We all just froze in shock. Right then we were all thinking, God dammit we're just gonna stand here and watch all those kids die. Just standin' there holding those damn useless hoses like a bunch of idiots. And then… then it happened."

In an event that outright defied the laws of physics as we know them, all of the flames engulfing the intersection were suddenly absorbed by one of the firefighters present, in a scene described by Captain Beckwith as "straight out of the comic books I read when I was a kid. It was like watching the Human Torchâ„¢ eat a fire in the Fantastic Four, only for real."

Nearby security-camera footage as well as the testimony of all eyewitnesses available for comment unanimously agree that the miracle firefighter, whose name is being withheld for privacy reasons, somehow compelled all of the flames engulfing the area to come together into a single stream and then be sucked into his own body, where they vanished without a trace. (See accompanying illustration.)

In a few moments the entire intersection was clear of any trace of flame or smoke, and the responding firefighters were able to resume operations. Except for several cases of smoke inhalation and minor crash-related injuries, there were no casualties.

According to Captain Beckwith "I went over to [name withheld] right after I'd finished telling the crew to start foaming the place to catch any reflash and make sure everybody was evacuated to a safe distance and triaged, and asked him what he just did. He looked perfectly okay to me – I couldn't even smell any smoke on his clothes! – but the poor guy also looked totally out of it, and who could blame him? It was pretty obvious that he didn't know what the hell had happened any more than I did, so I waved over a couple of the EMS guys and told 'em what I'd seen happen, and said that [name withheld] looked like he was in shock and would they please take him to [hospital withheld]." As of press time, the FDNY Public Affairs office had no further comment except to confirm that the firefighter in question was not injured and was being held overnight for observation.

This entirely inexplicable phenomenon of "The Fireman" is only one of many incredible incidents being reported around the world today…

 

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Chuckg    1
US Presidential Daily Briefing, March 24th, 1998:
… collated reports from SIGINT sources confirm that these outbursts of superhuman power are a global phenomenon, with confirmed sightings in at least 22 nations (see attached list of geofixes). Initial background checks of the confirmed manifestations among American citizens appear to show preliminary indications that there are no common denominators in known associates, ancestry, exposure to hazardous materials, or location between affected individuals. Approximately two-thirds of the known manifestations apparently occurred in response to threatening or stressful circumstances…

… in the absence of an overt attack upon US territory or vital interests over the past 18 hours it is the Joint Chiefs' recommendation that the current global alert posture of DEFCON Two be downgraded to DEFCON Three, while also staging down from THREATCON Delta to Beta. However, SecDef also recommends that all state governors be encouraged to issue warning orders to National Guard elements in advance of a short-notice mobilization to be enacted if future needs warrant, while the CDC (or in the case of SrA Watts, the US Army Medical Research Institute) be given interim authority to commence scientific study of all novas within our jurisdiction. The Attorney General has advised on the best way to accomplish this while still respecting civil rights concerns…

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Chuckg    1
CNN News, May 1, 1998:
'But who are the Aeon Society?', is the question our viewers are asking right now in the wake of the UN's announcement that the global investigation of the 'nova' phenomenon is being entrusted to a privatized worldwide philanthropic and scientific foundation.

The Aeon Society is one of the world's oldest charitable organizations, and since almost the turn of the century has been involved in subsidizing philanthropic and scientific endeavors. The AIDS vaccine released last year by the Triton Foundation benefited heavily from Aeon-sponsored research. Over 100,000 deserving students attended college last year worldwide on Aeon scholarships. One-time subidiaries of Aeon have gone on to become their own independent global charities and household names, including names such as Good Will and Doctors Without Borders. With its record of over eight decades of charitable, scientific, and international aid work, both in conjunction with UN-sponsored efforts and on its own, the Aeon Society is ideally positioned to take the lead in a non-partisan, open-minded probe of novas and how they can possibly affect the world around them, while still meticulously respecting the basic human rights of every nova…

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Chuckg    1
Headline article of The Missoulian, June 15, 1998:
FLYING NOVA RESCUES LOST HIKERS

The National Park Service reported this morning that the ongoing search for two missing hikers in Glacier National Park had been brought to a successful conclusion at approximately 4:50am this morning, when they were taken to a nearby hospital. Both men were reported to be suffering from dehydration and exposure, but are in stable condition.

The assistance of Senior Airman Christine "Skyhook" Watts, USAF, a nova with the powers of flight, superstrength, and extraordinary vision, was credited by Park Service spokesmen as being the key factor in bringing the search to a successful conclusion. "We had almost a thousand square miles of area to search, and even with all the volunteer search parties had no way of covering it all on foot. Helicopters were grounded because of the persistent bad weather, and the missing hikers had been stuck out there for two days already. When we asked the Air Force if they could lend us a drone with infra-red capability they sent us this extraordinary young woman instead, and she more than did the job."

The office of General Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, issued a press statement regarding questions of possible legality. "The wording of the Posse Commitatus act is clear. Military personnel have always been able to act in a domestic capacity to assist local authorities with search and rescue or disaster relief, which this situation clearly was. That this particular request for aid came from the National Park Service and dealt with a matter on federal land only further clarified the matter. Senior Airman Watts was not deployed in a combat role and her assistance in this matter was no more legally extraordinary than that of the National Guard units who routinely provide volunteers for similar efforts."

Airman Watts was not available for interview.

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Chuckg    1
Papal encyclical on novas, June 26, 1998:
… Our heart was greatly vexed when We have heard it suggested that these new and greatly blessed children of God should be greeted only with fear, that they should continue to live only under the unceasing suspicion of the secular authorities and only on the sufferance of others. Against suggested policies such as these, which would violate the principal rights of the human person and cause great disruption to the welfare of all of God's children…

… and so do We proclaim that novas are descended of humanity and also children of Adam, possessed of immortal souls with all concomitant talents, blessings, and failings; that they too are stained by Original Sin, and that they too may attain salvation through the most holy intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do proclaim novas the blessed work of God, needing apostolic love and guidance, and We do welcome them into the fold. It is Our sincerest wish that by setting this example of acceptance and Christian love, We may help usher in a new day of peace based on charity, tolerance, and the care of all human souls, both nova and non-nova.

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Chuckg    1
NSA internal email, July 6th, 1998:
To: Director, NSA
From: Deputy Director, Science & Technology
Subject: 7/4 security penetration

Okay, my Tiger Team just got back to me on the latest results from our little Independence Day meltdown. It was definitely a nova. One of the servers touched in that little rampage was already copying its entire raw input stream into a read-only tape buffer for test purposes (for our fiber-optic data compression experiment, Project Milkweed), and they had a clear collection of raw 1s and 0s to work on regarding exactly what our intruder was putting into the system at his end to make our servers do what they did. According to their calcs, our mystery intruder was entering system commands and code scripts at a speed in excess of 865,000(!) keystrokes/hour. For a comparision standard, a top-flight data-entry specialist can maintain an input speed of approximately 20-22,000 keystrokes/hour, and that's just when doing data entry by rote. And no, it wasn't a batch file execution either – some of those hacks required on-the-fly decision making.

The technical details are all in the attachment, but the short version is that if we didn't already have novas to blame this kind of shit on we would seriously be considering scenarios involving the awakening of Skynet or maybe an alien invasion. Whoever did this was able to directly interface a human-level operator with the machine at almost full computer speed. Almost anything could be possible for someone with that capacity, and you'd need an entire paradigm shift in computer software or hardware design to begin to be able to cope with it.

The good news is that unless our intruder seamlessly forged the file access logs – which we know as a fact he didn't on at least the Milkweed server, that still showed identical results to the rest – our intruder didn't actually bother to stop and read anything, just to change all the login passwords for non-administrator accounts to "imafascist" and all the startup sounds on the Windows machines to a .wav file of the rap song "Fuck tha Police". The power to be the most powerful systems intrusion force in the world, and it lands in the hands of a juvenile prankster. If nothing else, this kind of thing would convince me that novas are entirely as human as the rest of us. They definitely seem to be capable of being just as stupid, at any rate.

The bad news is that as per SOP after a successful computer intrusion that penetrated to the admin account level we have to treat everything that was stored in the Holabird Two server cluster as potentially compromised anyway, which means that approximately 38% of all cipher keys and at least two entire encryption algorithms currently used by the US Armed Forces are now void and have to be changed ASAP. The change notices have already rolled out to the Pentagon and DIA, as you might have already known from the sound of their anguished screams crossing the entire distance from downtown DC to here without even needing to pick up a phone first.

But the really bad news is that there is no way, none at all, that anybody in my department can come up with as to how to stop this again. Nothing except a full unplugging. We're going to have to physically segregate an entire intranet within our intranet, and triage anything critical to there, and that's going to play hell with workflow. And from now on we can't put so much as the cafeteria lunch menu on an Internet-accessible server, let alone anything work-related. And by 'Internet-accessible' I mean 'a physical signal path exists from an Internet gateway to the machine in question' – simple VPN won't cut it anymore. Until we can get a nova with this kind of power in a lab and cooperating for some tests, we have simply have no idea of knowing what sort of exact limits they might have. The only thing we are pretty sure of is that they'd still need an Internet connection to work over the Internet. God help us if one ever manages to pull off a physical site intrusion.

In about a week we'll finish drawing up the proposal for how to accomplish this drastic a redesign of all our network architecture and how much its going to cost us. But right now the back-of-the-envelope says we'll be lucky to keep it under half a billion dollars and six months. And we're not going to be the only government agency needing to do this kind of redesign this year, so let's hope they're feeling really generous up on Capitol Hill.

I'll be ready to give a more detailed briefing to you and all department heads at the next staff conference, but as of now I've had maybe 3 hours of sleep in the last 48 so this is a heads-up before I sign off for a few. See you tomorrow.

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Chuckg    1
The Daily Telegraph, August 13, 1998:
[…] With its stated mandate "to utilize the vast powers of novas to better the quality of life for all, human and nova alike, on planet Earth.", the latest United Nations project, 'Project Utopia', has set a very ambitious program for itself. Although the Aeon Society has yet to publicly release Drs. Mazarin and Rashoud's ongoing research project into the nova phenomenon we can certainly speculate that the results must be encouraging if the United Nations is willing to sponsor the creation of this latest NGO.

The appointment of former United States Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Justin Laragione as the first Director of Project Utopia sends a clear signal to political wonks that its not just going to be 'business as usual'. The youngest Assistant Secretary of State ever known in the US government, Laragione has a reputation for being a capable organizer, a charming diplomat, and an unconventional 'maverick' of a policy-maker. Already a familiar face to most of the international aid societies, NGOs, and charities in the world, Director Laragione seems as ideally suited as anyone could be to navigating the challenges ahead.

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"20/20", ABC News, September 18, 1998:
JOHN MILLER: And in answer to the charges that you are a dictator?
ZUHIN ALHAZRED MOHAMMED: I hold no official government position. I have no armed followers. How could I possibly be a dictator?
MILLER: But you've almost entirely revamped the laws of the city. You've taken control of local industries.
MOHAMMED: I have been employed as a consultant by both the municipal authorities of Karachi and several private entrepreneurs, to apply my nova intellect towards an intelligent redesign of their procedures. That is all.
MILLER: So basically, everyone in Karachi is doing what you're telling them to do.
MOHAMMED: Only if they agree, of themselves, that my ideas for revitalizing the economy and encouraging the growth and development of our home are wise ones.
MILLER: I must compliment you on your excellent command of English.
MOHAMMED: Thank you. I attended school in Great Britain for several years, I had ample opportunity to learn.
MILLER: Back to the questions about your recent activities. Do you have any comment to make to the accusation that you have intimidated the city to your will?
MOHAMMED: I am afraid I do not understand what you mean.
MILLER: Reports are that you used your nova powers in a public battle that killed thirty men.
MOHAMMED: You are referring to the confrontation several weeks ago with the forces led by Mullah Junaid Ahmad. First, your reports have exaggerated the casualties; only eleven of the terrorists died.
MILLER: Only eleven men?
MOHAMMED: Out of a group of assailants consisting of over thirty men with military weapons. Mullah Ahmad and his extremist followers had objected to my suggested 'Westernization' of parts of Karachi's legal code, and were attempting to assassinate me in a terrorist attack. My actions were entirely in self-defense.
MILLER: And of the recent statement made by Project Utopia disapproving of your activities?
MOHAMMED: Utopia claims that its only wish is for novas to use their abilities for the benefit of their fellow man. Disapproving of my attempts to do just that seems contradictory to me.

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Chuckg    1
People magazine interview of Randall "The Fireman" Portman, September 28, 1998:
INTERVIEWER: Mr. Portman-
PORTMAN: Call me Randy, everyone does.
INTERVIEWER: Randy. It's been six months since you became the first nova and a world-famous figure; how have things changed for you?
PORTMAN: Well, for one thing I've had to get an unlisted phone #.
INTERVIEWER: I can only imagine.
PORTMAN: I suppose the biggest change is ironic. I became famous for being able to put out even impossible fires, but I don't get to go to many fires anymore.
INTERVIEWER: The New York Fire Department has changed your duties?
PORTMAN: Oh yeah. I got a promotion, but they took me off the fire truck and its all public relations stuff now. Fire safety tours –those I don't mind, we used to do them at the local station house, now its just a bigger audience – speaking engagements, fundraising dinners…
INTERVIEWER: Political fundraisers? Isn't that against civil service regulations?
PORTMAN: No, no, no. They asked me to be one of the speakers at some charity fundraisers. I did one for the FDNY Foundation, another one for the United Way, and the Project Utopia opening dinner…
INTERVIEWER: Let's talk about your association with Project Utopia.
PORTMAN: Association? Um, what do you mean?
INTERVIEWER: What exactly is the relationship between you and them?
PORTMAN: I went to the Utopia lab in New York like other people did, when they advertised for people to cooperate with studying nova physiology and how it works, and offered help to novas in learning about their powers and how to use them better. Before then I spent a lot of time at NYU with the doctors at the medical school studying me, but they didn't have access to all the research that Utopia did. Dr. Rashoud and her people really knew what they were doing.
INTERVIEWER: Studying what, exactly?
PORTMAN: I think mostly they were looking for possible side effects. I mean, think back to what it was like right after N-Day. Nobody knew what was going on, or if nova powers were safe or were going to burn out the poor guy with them like in that one sci-fi movie, or fade away after a temporary boost all "Flowers For Algernon" style. There was a lot of concern over possible long-term physical effects.
INTERVIEWER: And did they find anything?
PORTMAN: Nope! The study is still ongoing, of course, but everything turned out A-OK. All of the novas in the study were in the pink of health. Heck, I used to have high blood pressure and bronchitis – a lot of firefighters get that, from all the smoke we breathe – but ever since I erupted that's all gone away. They said my lung x-rays look like a college kid's, and that's definitely a change from how they were before.
INTERVIEWER: That's wonderful news, Randy!
PORTMAN: My wife still says I'm not allowed to start smoking again, though.
INTERVIEWER: Hah! So, any advice for all the other novas out there, or who might be erupting soon?
PORTMAN: Go to the Project Utopia guys and ask them if you can join the nova study. Free room and board while you figure out how to deal with all the life choices, expert medical care, and I hear they're giving out a living stipend now. And they're supposed to be opening up branches in other cities soon if you can't make it to New York.
INTERVIEWER: Very generous of them, I'm sure. Any other advice?
PORTMAN: Don’t sign anything business-related until after you've had a lawyer read it.

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Chuckg    1
DEA internal telex, October 5th, 1998:
PRIORITY: IMMEDIATE
From: DEA Station Chief, Bogota
To: Assistant Administrator, Operations Division

Transcript of NSA surveillance on cell phone known to be used by Jorge Ochoa, senior member of Cali Cartel
Time of call: 5 OCT 1998, 0820Z

[incoming call to Ochoa from unknown subject #1]
OCHOA: Do you know what fucking time it is? This had better be important!
UNKNOWN SUBJECT #1: Boss, we got trouble! I just got back from the jungle airstrip in Risaralda. The shipment is gone. The plane is wrecked… fuck, the airstrip is wrecked. Everybody's dead!
OCHOA: Everyone? We had fifteen men there! Where were our eyes? How the hell could anyone have gotten that many soldiers into the area without us knowing about it?
SUBJECT #1: They didn't do it with an army, boss. They used a nova.
OCHOA: You're certain?
SUBJECT #1: Unless the army or FARC or whoever has laser guns now, then yes! Our people were blown apart! There were giant holes melted in the walls!
OCHOA: Shit! You kept this quiet, right?
SUBJECT #1: I told the men who came with me to keep quiet about everything, but you know they never do. Word's going to be all over the place by lunchtime, assuming the assholes who hit us don't just spread it themselves.
OCHOA: About that. Any idea who got themselves a nova to come after us? The police? FARC? M-19?
SUBJECT #1: They took the cocaine and the money but left the guns and the bodies, so, probably not the government. I think the guerillas or the militias would have taken the guns, too.
OCHOA: I spoke to Escobar up in Medellin the other day. He said he's got the same kind of problems. Who the fuck hates both of us and has novas?
SUBJECT #1: Maybe the Americans? Wouldn't be the first time they sent paramilitary after us.
OCHOA: Or mercenaries. You're right, maybe them, maybe the new Utopia people who are hiring all the novas. Its not like we're short of enemies.
SUBJECT #1: What are we going to do?
OCHOA: We are going to get some novas of our own. Put the word out that anybody who erupted with the right stuff and wants to make a lot of money fast, he should come to Cali.
[Ochoa hangs up]

RELIABILITY: A-1. Ochoa hasn't figured out yet that his commercial-grade encryption isn't doing anything to stop the NSA, and we've confirmed the 'nova attack on Risaralda province collection point' and 'the cartel is hiring' bits from independent sources (report to follow later today).

ANALYSIS: It's official. Novas are joining the Colombian drug war, and the cartels are hiring. And yet again its us gringos who are to blame for everything going wrong, even though a moments' thought would have told Ochoa and Lehrder and the rest that if we had a nova willing to do totally illegal black ops we probably wouldn’t be wasting our chances on raids in the boonies when we could just go directly at high-value targets.

Speaking of which, are we going to have nova assets available in the near future? Or is that new UN task force going to be sending anything? Because if not, we're going to be facing severe operational difficulties down here.

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Chuckg    1
Headline article of The Kansas City Star, October 10th, 1998:
"POWER MAN" CAUSES TRAGEDY DURING BANK ROBBERY

An attempted bank robbery at the First Federal Bank branch office on Executive Drive today ended in tragedy due to the reckless intervention of a local nova.

When two bank robbers armed with handguns attempted a robbery at the bank, a teller managed to trip a silent alarm. Responding police units rapidly surrounded the building and the situation became an armed stand-off.

At this point Daniel "Power Man" Jenkins, who became a local celebrity due to his eruption as a nova several weeks ago, arrived on-scene and despite police protests entered the building, stating that with his augmented nova strength and speed "he could totally handle this before anyone got hurt". Unfortunately, events turned out otherwise.

According to security camera footage Jenkins entered the bank building by the rear employees' entrance and proceed from there to the main customer service area, where he was confronted by the two assailants, who had apparently been forewarned of his arrival by the noise he had made forcing open the rear door. Using one of the hostages as a human shield and placing his weapon to her head, the lead assailant angrily demanded that Jenkins withdraw immediately from the building or else he would execute his hostage.

According to eyewitnesses at this point Jenkins grabbed a paperweight from a nearby desk and threw it at the hostage-taker's head, apparently attempting to knock him out. Instead, he threw it with sufficient force to break open the lead assailant's skull, killing him instantly. Jenkins at this point apparently froze in shock, while the second assailant immediately opened fire with his weapon. While Jenkins' nova physiology allowed him to withstand the hail of gunfire unscathed, two innocent bystanders were not as fortunate. One of the bystanders was pronounced dead on-scene, the other was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.

Upon hearing the gunfire, police officers immediately entered the bank and fired on the second assailant, killing him.

Police Chief Fred Kline issued a statement condemning Jenkins' behavior. "The police are trained to handle these kinds of situations, always with the goal of minimizing loss of life. While unfortunately we can't always guarantee a perfect outcome, especially in a hostage situation, we always view the usage of lethal force as a last resort. Mr. Jenkins' behavior was incredibly reckless and entirely against the advice and without the permission of the Kansas City Police Department and its officers, and as a result innocent people are dead. This is real-life, not a comic book – you can't magically solve every situation just by throwing superpowers around. And he shoved several of my officers out of the way with his superstrength when they tried to stop him from going into the bank – you'd better believe he'll be facing charges for that too."

The local district attorney's office has confirmed that charges are being pressed against Daniel Jenkins for aggravated assault, reckless disregard, negligent homicide, and criminal endangerment. ADA Elevyn Nowak has stated "We are not, repeat not, pressing charges of murder for the death of the bank robber, as the law holds that using lethal force is appropriate when confronted with a man holding a gun to an innocent person's head and threatening to kill them -- as the police's actions in the case of the other robber show. However, Mr. Jenkins' behavior was in our view a clear violation of several laws, and we will prosecute him for those violations to the full extent the criminal code allows. There is no 'But I meant well' exemption for a situation where innocent people needlessly died."

 

As of press time we have been notified that the second victim died of their injuries shortly after arrival at the hospital.

The families of the slain victims have also indicated that they intend to pursue wrongful death lawsuits against Mr. Jenkins, although resolution of those suits will be delayed until after the conclusion of the criminal case.

Director Justin Laragione of Project Utopia has issued a press release concerning this tragedy, in which he states "We all grieve for the loss of life, doubly so when it was not strictly necessary. We encourage all novas to remember that just because they have extraordinary gifts does not automatically mean that they are justified in taking extraordinary risks with the lives of others, and that there is no substitute for proper training and experience. Project Utopia reaffirms its commitment to helping all novas, regardless of race, nationality, or creed, learn how best to control and use their powers. I pray that if novas take any example from the tragic events of today, it is that they should not hurriedly rush in where angels fear to tread but instead cooperate as best as they can with the proper authorities."

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Chuckg    1

Huh, I seem to keep coming back to this NPC a lot.  Ah well, its a useful 'follow the US government's reaction to novas' POV, if not an omniscient one.

 

Article in Air Force Times, November 12th, 1998:
SUPER-AIRMAN GOES TO SUPERMAN SCHOOL

Senior Airman (Staff Sergeant Designate) Christine Watts, call sign "Skyhook", became the first female servicewoman to quality for Air Force Pararescue training. She will report to Lackland Air Force Base to join the next class being inducted into the Pararescue Indoctrination Course, the first stage of the 15-month training pipeline informally known as "Superman school" for its extreme difficulty and high attrition rate.

Although over 98% of Air Force enlisted ratings have been open to service personnel of both genders, enlisted parachute rescue specialists have been one of the seven career fields still restricted to male personnel only. The office of the Secretary of the Air Force has stated that SrA Watts' assignment is not a sign of a general policy change, but was instead done via a special individual waiver in light of "extraordinary circumstances".

SrA Watts, then assigned as an enlisted maintenance specialist with the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin AFB, erupted on the morning of N-Day when a nearby F-15E Strike Eagle piloted by Lt. Colonel Monroe, commanding 58th Fighter Squadron, suffered a catastrophic engine failure on takeoff. Upon watching the aircraft heading for a fatal crash she found herself instinctively moving forward, only to realize that in an instant she had left the ground, flown a quarter of a mile across the tarmac, pulled the canopy off of the aircraft, and tore the pilots' seat loose from the airframe and carried it safely to the ground. Lt Col Monroe was recovered unharmed.

Dubbed "Skyhook" in her squadron commander's now-famous example of sang-froid ("Well, Airman, now that you're flying in my squadron I guess you'll need a call sign."), SrA Watts was immediately reassigned to Headquarters, USAF, with TDY as needed. After several months' medical evaluation the Air Force then assigned her to TDY with Recruiting Command while deciding on her next permanent assignment.

Upon being questioned about her upcoming assignment, SrA Watts shared these sentiments with our correspondent.

"Oh, no, I volunteered for this. You have to volunteer to get into pararescue. When they sent me to find those two lost hikers I knew this was the best use I could make of my nova powers; flying into places nobody else can go and flying back out with people. The rescue guys sometimes have places that even they can't go, because they can't risk a helicopter or they won't be able to search the entire area with fuel available at that range or something. I can search a lot of ground faster than a Predator drone can, and go faster and lower than any helicopter. If I can pass the course – and they've already told me that they're not only not going to cut me any slack, but try and make it parts of it even more difficult to compensate for my nova endurance – I think I'll do great."

When asked about what she thought the military should do with nova servicemembers, she replied:

"Well, right now I'm the only nova who erupted on active duty that I know about, so – standard disclaimer, the following statements are those solely of Senior Airman Watts and do not necessarily represent either the views of the US Air Force or US government policy, you know the drill -- I think I'm going to be a sort of test case. Me personally, I think that anybody who erupts in uniform or enlists as a nova and shows the slightest interest is going to be fast-tracked straight into the special operations training of their choice, which only makes sense."

We at Air Force Times wish 'Skyhook' the best of luck and expect to see great things from her in the future.

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Chuckg    1

And now we start the anachronistic order, as I think of things that should have come earlier.

 

Time for a bit of foreign news, I would think...

 

Headline article of Reforma, May 17th, 1998:
"EL MUERTE", MYSTERIOUS NOVA HERO, SAVES KIDNAPPED CHILD

 

The infamous Lopez kidnapping ring was broken up today in a series of raids by Mexican Federal Police, acting on information given to them by a mysterious nova named "El Muerte".

 

The nova, dressed in a black trenchcoat and a Day of the Dead skull mask, identified himself only as "El Muerte" and appeared early yesterday morning at the home of a senior officer of the Mexican Federal Police accompanied by Fani Tapia, the young girl who has been missing for 3 weeks after her dramatic abduction from outside her private school and whose fate had been feared for ever since the botched ransom drop and attempted hijacking of several days ago.

 

According to police sources, El Muerte claimed he had successfully tracked down the location where some of Lopez' subordinates had been keeping her and fought them to gain her release, and then brought evidence obtained from his investigations to the authorities. Miss Tapia's testimony confirmed that El Muerte was not part of the kidnapping ring that she knew of, and that El Muerte had burst in and used his 'nova powers' to subdue the men guarding her and then promised to take her home safely.

 

El Muerte left Miss Tapia with the police after he had finished delivering his information and departed for an unknown location.

 

Special police units then raided the addresses given to them by El Muerte, successfully capturing eleven men who were part of the kidnapping ring and obtaining "much useful evidence" in their raids. Daniel Arizmendi Lopez, the leader of the kidnapping ring, died resisting arrest.

 

Captain Manzano, an officer of the Federal Investigative Agency (AFI), publicly thanked El Muerte for his help and welcomed his further participation in police investigations. When confronted by critics of the government about his encouraging 'vigilanteism', he replied "This man acted when he saw a young girl in danger from depraved thugs, then brought her safely to the police and cooperated with our investigations, allowing us to stop an infamous criminal's reign of terror without any more innocent people being hurt. Who the hell could criticize this? What the hell am I supposed to do when a man selflessly offers his aid like this other than be grateful?"

 

It is theorized that El Muerte's mask and costume were possibly inspired by luchador traditions, or maybe improvised from a festival costume when his nova powers confronted him with this tragedy firsthand and required immediate action without much time to prepare. But outside of what he has chosen to reveal about himself, information about El Muerte is not available. We only know him through his actions, which so far have been entirely admirable.

 

Reaction from the public has been overwhelmingly positive. Mexico City is apparently overjoyed to have its new nova hero helping guard its streets. We at Reforma are equally enthusiastic and offer prayers and best wishes for El Muerte's continued health and success.

 

Miguel Tapia, Fani's father, when asked for a statement said "I do not know who this man is, but I will forever owe him a debt. El Muerte is a saint among men and I thank God he was there for my daughter when she needed him."

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Chuckg    1

And now, something entirely unrelated to all of the above, and not in-continuity with the 1998 stuff I was doing.  This is a character backstory I did up for a campaign that never got started, and, well, I'll put it here because why not.

 

My attempt at making a novox singer, with a tweest.  I stole a bit from 200X and wrote it in the form of an in-setting Novapedia entry.

 

Presenting Astrid "Aestrith" Leitner, "The Real-Life Disney Princess".

 

Note: The reason her stats aren't here is because our starting point value was notably nonstandard.  Short version is that she has minor buys into mega-physicals and mega-int and mega-per, major buys into mega-stamina, mega-wits, mega-appearance, and mega-manipulation, and the Linguistic Genius, Awe-Inspiring, Almost Live, and The Voice enhancements.  (And also Artistic Genius and Group Awareness if the budget stretches).  Oh, and 1 dot of Warp.

 

Astrid "Aestrith" Leitner (nee Koller)
Public Profile
From Novapedia, your online nova encyclopedia!

Name: Astrid Leitner
Nova Name: Aestrith (from Old Norse, 'divine beauty') (registered and trademarked)
Nickname(s): The Real-Life Disney Princess
Occupation: Singer, entertainer
Legal Status: Austrian citizen with expunged German juvenile record
Current Location: Walt Disney World Village, Florida (also Georgetown University, Washington D.C.)
Identity: Public
Age: 18
Eruption: Threatening situation

Height: 1.65 meters (5 feet 5 inches)
Weight: 52.1 kilograms (115 lbs.)
Eyes: Hazel
Hair: Pale Blonde
Distinguishing Marks: none known

Known Quantum Powers: Aestrith possesses significantly quantum-enhanced physical appearance and endurance, and a lesser degree of quantum-enhanced strength and agility. In addition, she has tested as possessing an IQ notably above the normal human range, as well as enhanced perceptions and reaction time. She has shown the ability to open Warp portals over a distance of several thousand miles. She also possesses a quantum-enhanced singing voice and has mentioned being able to hear ultrasonic and infrasonic sounds.

Contrary to popular belief, Aestrith possesses absolutely no powers of any kind involving the control or generation of cold, ice, or snow.

Education/Special Skills: Aestrith passed the Austrian high school leaving examinations with honors within several months of her eruption, and has earned undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, Modern Languages, and Music from Oxford University via an accelerated nova education program. She can play the piano, violin, cello, flute, harp, guitar, and drums at a professional level, and is a professional singer with successful hit singles in genres ranging from classical opera to Euro-pop. She is known to speak at least fifteen languages (including every major language spoken in Europe and the Western Hemisphere) with native fluency and a comprehensive control over accents and dialect, and appears able to learn new languages in only several days. She is currently studying for a Master's in International Relations at Georgetown University.

Weapons Used: There are no confirmed instances of Aestrith using any weapons other than unarmed combat and her quantum abilities, although there are unconfirmed rumors that her alleged juvenile criminal offenses include assault with a deadly weapon (knife).

Appearance: Aestrith is listed by N! as one of the 20 most beautiful novas in the entire world, and has consistently been voted Most Beautiful Teen Female Nova by N! subscribers since her eruption until her 18th birthday. Her quantum-enhanced beauty even works through recorded or transmitted media as well as in person, although it takes a subtler form than the borderline inhuman proportions of Narcosis or the 'sultry siren' image of Violet Mayhew. Her proportions and facial features are broadly similar to those of a highly attractive baseline, but an impossible level of 'wholesomeness' and 'brightness' combines with an undefinable subliminal sense of symmetry and proportion to have a highly devastating effect. 'Rolling Stone' magazine described her looks as "a unique and refreshing combination of wholesome girl-next-door and ethereal paragon, transitioning from the cuteness of youth to the energetic attraction of young adulthood; an image of beauty that neither embraces the crass sexuality of the modern century nor retreats from it but instead simply presents itself with total unselfconsciousness and lets the world flow around her.".

Personality: Not surprisingly for a professional entertainer Aestrith's public appearances usually show a high degree of media training and stage-managing, although she possesses a notable degree of genuine charm and can easily make even scripted remarks sound unforced. Despite her pre-eruption past her nova career has generally been not been marked by unpleasant celebrity behavior, her ongoing media rivalry with Teen Tomorrow being an exception. Those who have met her in less guarded surroundings report that she is a strong-willed yet unfailingly polite young woman, not prone to 'diva' behaviors or egoism. Critics (including Desmond "Lit" Holmes of Teen Tomorrow) claim that she is simply acting according to her 'stage persona' whenever in public and that her private personality is far worse.

 

This is a highly disputed entry! Editing has been locked while discussion on the Talk page continues.

 

EARLY LIFE

Astrid Leitner was born July 7th, 1985, in Galz, Austria as Astrid Koller, daughter of Rudolf Koller and Anna Leitner. Rudolf Koller was an apprentice construction worker who married his high-school sweetheart, Anna Leitner, a piano tuner and music teacher. Their marriage was troubled early on when Rudolf Koller lost his job due to repeated absenteeism and poor performance and, chronically unable to find work, drifted into petty crime and small-scale confidence scams. For the first 10 years of Astrid's life her father was an only occasional presence, travelling all over Austria and neighboring countries attempting to support his lifestyle. Astrid herself stayed in Galz with her mother and maternal grandfather Hans Leitner (himself of minor note as the 1960 Olympic silver medalist in downhill skiing), a retired athletic coach.

The interviews conducted among local residents by staff of the "N!Sight Into The Past" bio-documentary program reveal that during this period of her life Astrid was remembered for being an intelligent, highly energetic young girl who was interested in both grade school sports and her mother's music lessons, and who was already becoming bilingual in both German and French. However, the poverty of her family (caused by both the modest earning potential of both her caregivers and the financial drain of Rudolf Koller's legal expenses and instances of forced restitution) limited her social and educational opportunities.

In mid-2003 her life took a turn for the worse when her grandfather passed away of natural causes, followed within six months by the death of her mother in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver. At this point custody devolved upon her father, who disenrolled her from public school, sold the house, and took her along on his travels.

Scattered records available from Austria, France, and Germany reveal that Rudolf Koller spent the next six years engaging in confidence scams, pickpocketing, petty larceny, contraband smuggling, and the occasional strong-arm robbery, narrowly avoiding incarceration on several instances, while forcing young Astrid to be an accomplice to his criminal lifestyle. Isolated remarks over the years and interview notes from her Rashoud Center stay immediately post-eruption indicate that during this period of time she was forced to be a 'lookout' on robberies, a pickpocket, help her father shoplift valuable goods (both as decoy and as the actual shoplifter), and possible other activities. However, both Astrid's own statements and all available records and eyewitness accounts show that she was not forced into any more unsavory activities, such as prostitution or drug trafficking. Her own juvenile arrest record (in Germany) dates from this period, although the exact nature and frequency of charges has been expunged from the record and thus removed from Novapedia on her 18th birthday.

In October 2010, Rudolf Koller was killed in Hamburg, Germany by police during a botched storefront robbery. Astrid, then 15 years of age, was abandoned to eke out her own precarious existence in the Hamburg slums. After almost a month of living hand-to-mouth via what she admits as "petty theft and begging in the street", on November 1, 2010 she was surreptitiously administered a dose of 'date rape' drugs in a fast food restaurant by a local pimp who then took her, almost entirely comatose, to his apartment to try and force her into prostitution.

ERUPTION AND EARLY NOVA LIFE

Astrid had barely reached the apartment when the distress of the situation triggered her eruption, instantly cleansing her system of the drugs and giving her the abilities to subdue the pimp with a single blow. The symptoms characteristic to many eruptions set in almost immediately thereafter, leaving her semi-comatose with pain and triggering a use of her Warp ability to take her to the nearest Rashoud Center -- which was over 400 miles away, in Zurich.

Astrid remained in the Rashoud Center for five weeks, exploring the limits of her enhanced physical abilities, receiving basic instruction in controlling her Warp abilities, and working with Utopia's staff and then with her own hired attorney to clarify her legal situation. She showed a pattern of distrust in Utopia from early on, accepting their freely given training and orientation services but avoiding any closer entanglements. Perhaps due to her recent experiences she also showed an unusual level of 'street smarts' for a newly-erupted nova, approaching a local bank for a short-term loan sufficient for her to hire a top-flight Swiss attorney and an Appellate-Lexington trademark registration and image consultation rather than accept aid from Project Utopia's lifestyle consultants. Her legal status with the authorities was rapidly handled by her new attorney, all possible charges being dropped after an explanation of her circumstances. It was at this time that she successfully filed for emancipation, then legally changed her name to use her mother's maiden surname rather than her father's.

Unexpectedly turning down a high-level offer from Utopia to be fast-tracked into Teen Tomorrow, she instead went on to sign a recording and performance contract with Walt Disney Records.

NOVOX CAREER

Taking the stage name "Aestrith" and showing a quantum-enhanced talent for most of the performing arts, her career as a teen novox sensation blossomed rapidly. Although making the controversial choice at the time (or possibly having had Disney make it for her) to concentrate not on impossible singing tricks or ultra- and infra-sonic overtones but instead on heightened execution of the traditional fundamentals of musical performance, Aestrith is credited by some critics with "having made skill as well as raw talent an important factor in novox again" (citation needed).

After several months of media instruction and voice coaching, Disney recorded Aestrith's breakout album Setting Out, and released it in early April 2011. Praised for its outstanding vocal quality even despite the generic teen pop nature of the songs and instrumental backing, the album went platinum within a week and diamond within two months. Disney then moved on to promoting Aestrith in multiple venues, with appearances on N!, a guest-star appearance on ABC's prime-time action drama "Shieldwall", as a guest solo vocalist in concert with the Boston Pops (showing for the first time her vocal range as she performed a classic aria from Mozart), and other promotional ventures. She then spent six months on-campus at Oxford University, experimenting with several varieties of performing arts at the conservatory and finishing the oral examinations for the degrees she'd already been studying via correspondence. While at Oxford, she also returned to the recording studio to start work on her second album and travelled briefly for several promotional appearances.

Concurrent with the release of her second album On Golden Wings in December 2011, the first album to have content songwritten as well as performed by Aestrith (particularly the song "New Worlds"), Aestrith went on tour for the first time, primarily in North America and Western Europe, interrupted only by her attending the 54th Annual Grammy Awards to receive awards as Best New Artist of 2011, as well as Best Solo Rock Performance for "New Worlds".

In 2012 Aestrith released a third album in June, Different Shades of Dawn, an experimental venture containing fourteen vocal and instrumental tracks spread over half a dozen different musical genres and two musical instruments (violin and piano). She also was the winner of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with a new solo #, "Two-Edged Sword". In addition, she appeared as a guest-star on "NCIS: Nova Criminal Investigation Service", as a contestant on N!'s "Incredible Nova Stunts" (voted 2nd place for performing 'Flight of the Bumblebee' on the violin at full speed while simultaneously executing a rhythmic gymnastics routine with the ribbon fastened to one of her ankles), as one of the performers at the charity benefit concert for the 2012 earthquake in the Philippines, and a summer concert tour in Western Europe (performed in German and French).

In 2013 Aestrith recorded and released her fourth album, Best of Both Worlds, to her usual diamond sales #'s. She spent several months on sabbatical, taking a round-the-world cruise. Late in 2013 she returned to the studio to record voice acting and vocals for the role of the Snow Queen in Disney's feature animated film "Frozen". The featured song of that film, "Let It Go", became her highest-selling hit single ever.

[material yet to be filled in depending on campaign start]

CONTROVERSIES

Although Aestrith's public image is overall that of a wholesome, responsible young woman, and her career has been free of wardrobe malfunctions, arrests, or reports of scandalous off-set behavior, there are several notable incidents that have marred this otherwise clean record:

Media Rivalry With Teen Tomorrow: Ever since Desmond "Lit" Holmes of Teen2M made disparaging remarks against her during an N! interview in December 2011, Aestrith and several members of Teen Tomorrow have been engaged in a campaign of sniping and one-upsmanship in the media. Both Disney and Utopia PR have either largely demurred to comment or have attempted to pour oil on the troubled waters, while individual members of Teen Tomorrow have been openly scornful of Aestrith's refusal to join them and alleged selfishness, greed, and 'famewhoring', while Aestrith has been known for several statements of her own about Teen Tomorrow's 'PR mascot' status and 'immaturity'. There was also a rumored physical altercation between Aestrith and Tantrum of Teen2M during the Philippine relief efforts in 2012, but Utopian PR firmly denies any such instance. With Aestrith and Lit having both reached legal adulthood and Lit's recent graduation to the Team Tomorrow Auxiliary, and rumors that Aestrith is being scouted yet again for a T2M recruitment offer herself, this media rivalry is expected only to increase.

 

This is a highly disputed entry! Editing has been locked while discussion on the Talk page continues.

Brawl with Mefistofaleez: On July 29th, 2012, Aestrith was involved in her only confirmed violent confrontation as a nova with novox rapper 'Mefistofaleez', who was patronizing the Star Lord's of New York while Aestrith was visiting the city for a talk show appearance. Visibly intoxicated and belligerent, Mefistofaleez approached Aestrith while she was demonstrating an acoustic guitar solo and made highly vulgar comments regarding her musical career and level of talent. Aestrith's heated verbal response resulted in Mefistofaleez grabbing her guitar and smashing it, at which point Aestrith engaged in a violent brawl with Mefistofaleez that resulted in moderate personal injury to both novas, $30,000 worth of property damage, and Mefistofaleez being thrown into the Hudson River and having to be rescued by the harbor patrol. No charges were pressed and despite her having thrown the first punch, her actions were ruled as self-defense.

"The Real-Life Disney Princess?": A 1-hour bio-documentary released in mid-2013 by the notorious journalist "Duke" Rollo, this OpNet feature is single-handedly responsible for Astrid's nickname and a slate of rumors regarding her alleged alienation from humanity and 'becoming trapped by her image'. Although uncharacteristically sympathetic in tone (for Rollo), his documentary casts her as a tragic victim trapped by "the soul-sucking conglomerate of despair-driven deadly dull Disney doppelgangers" into an unhealthy, unrealistic lifestyle with no actual friends or confidantes. The subsequent reactions of fans determined to 'save the maiden from the tower' is still a matter of ongoing annoyance to her (and occasional concern to Disney security), even if popular reaction to the self-empowering image of her portrayal as the Snow Queen has helped blunt this fan backlash.

 

This is a highly disputed entry! Editing has been locked while discussion on the Talk page continues.

 

OOC SECTION:

 

For the campaign in question, the DM also wanted people to provide an NPC and a couple of plot seeds.   Here's mine:

 

NPC: Guenther Klattenhoff, German citizen, executive assistant and appointments secretary. Age 24. Graduate of Oxford university with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Gay. Possesses Iron Will merit.

 

This is the guy who's her Follower 1 dot... and notice what it says about her life, that a gay man with the Iron Will merit is about the only person she can have around her on a constant basis without him making an idiot of himself. She doesn't have any aberrations (she's permanent Taint 2), but her Mega-Appearance alone is enough to be a problem.

 

Enemy/Antagonist: Project Utopia. Contrary to her critics, Astrid in no way sympathizes with the Teragen nor is she amoral or apathetic. However, she is sincerely convinced that Utopia does not fully live up to its own PR, or that its possible for any organization of human beings to be so unrealistically saintlike as Utopia's party line claims. At the same time, some elements in Utopia (such as Teen Tomorrow's current and former members) personally despise her for her public criticisms of Utopia's possible hubris and refusal to join them, while at the same time other elements in Utopia (including possibly Director Laragione) still retain an urge to bring her around to proper Utopian sentiments and recruit her as a backup to Geisha in the Diplomatic Corps, or as another PR face for Team Tomorrow. One way or the other, Utopia is simply not going to leave her alone for the foreseeable future.

 

Enemy/Antagonist: Alejandra. Alejandra is beginning to become aware that Aestrith is a potential threat to her position as the world's #1 novox diva. While Alejandra is still significantly ahead in discography, sales, and fandom, and has the advantage of controlling her own entertainment company, Aestrith has already shown extreme promise and drive as an entertainer and creative artist and possesses formidable corporate backing and far greater versatility -- and worse yet, is still very young and with much untapped potential to grow. Alejandra is already pondering what she can do to inhibit the growth of this possible future rival... or turn her to her own purposes.



 

 

 

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