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Everything posted by Matt

  1. I got the interview, of course. He was still a little stunned by what had happened, and he didn't quite realize what it meant yet. He told me his name (Marcus Rossmore, born December 1st, 1985, attending Emerson College's Master of Arts Lit program, wanted to be a teacher) and all about himself. He was a gigantic comic-book geek. Not the new ones...he didn't read the Op-Net classics or watch the animated series. Well, okay, so he'd watched Slag: Hot Metal Fury #30. Hell, the whole world did. But in general there was something about the Nova based reality stuff he wasn't thrilled with. "I mean, Eufiber can look like anything, can't it?" He was frowning. This was before Skew joined T2M, mind you, and we saw that it can apparently look like a leather jacket and a T-Shirt. "But they're all wearing skin-tight outfits. Why?" "Hell, your heroes wore..." "My heroes weren't real people. They were colored dots on paper, before AOL/Warner and Toy Biz decided that there wasn't much future left in it and killed them all off. Real people aren't neat little squiggles who'll do whatever you want. They're seething bags of conflict." He looked over at Brigit, who was getting fitted with restraints provided by Team Tomorrow. A Utopia recruiter was getting the full story from one of the cops, so I decided to pull a fade; after I left the Rashoud Facility, I more or less decided to stay as far away from those guys as possible. Not because of anything they did...because I'm a selfish, greedy bastard who doesn't want to work for a better world. Between me and her, Rossmore's point was made, I suppose. Real Nova's weren't safe and easy, and now, he was one of them. No wonder the poor bastard was scared.
  2. His chest was healed. Better than healed...he was average looking before, but now he was huge. Proportioned, but huge, with muscles that wouldn't have looked out of place on Caestus Pax. His shirt was torn apart, but above the rip in its belly the red and yellow symbol from the old movies and comic books was more or less intact...and I have to admit, it looked right on him now. He looked down at himself, at his burned clothes, and then at me with that look on his face. You know the look, if you're a Nova or even if you've only seen an eruption on N! Prime sometime. Eyes wide, mouth slightly open, head bowed slightly as the wheels of thought grind slowly towards the truth. I later learned that he didn't even notice the node opening. It usually hurts like a bastard, but in his case it makes sense. He was being burned to death at the time. Stepping forward, he saw Brigit about to burn the cop who'd come to my rescue from a sandy-haired recruitment poster for the BPD to a pile of ash. And he moved. Her hand reached out...and instead of melting though a riot helmet, it touched smooth, unblemished skin which remained that way, ignoring the fact that the hand touching it was hot enough to melt steel. But not a man of steel, apparently. She barely had time to realize what was happening when he hit her. Now, one of the benefits of my M-R Node is that I can see and think faster than normal folks. So I should have been able to see him punch her, even if he was moving faster than a human. But all I got, on the edges of my multi-spectrum scan, was a vibration on the quantum level. Her head snapped back, but I could tell he hadn't snapped it like I would have. Brigit was a lot tougher than she looked. The cops, not really sure what was going on anymore, took the time to reload their guns. I parked the bus and took the time to fall back against the wall and pant like a racehorse. My heartbeat was already amped up like a soma-meth freak, and suddenly I was watching...well, I wasn't really sure either. Staggering back, the left side of that painfully beautiful face welted from his fist, Brigit flung flames at him. He just walked through them. Then he slapped his hands together. It's not a new trick, but not every super-strong type can pull it off, especially out of the box. But he did. A burst of air and a blast of sound knocked her on her ass and broke a few windows, but the general damage was so bad anyway (and the area around the library is open enough) that it didn't create too many problems. "I could kill you." His voice was...well, it was what you'd expect, which seemed to surprise the hell out of him. It took him a couple of seconds to get back on track. "I could, and you'd deserve it. But I have another idea." He did that blurry thing again, moving so fast I could barely see him, and then fire hydrants began exploding as he sheared the tops off and moved on. There are four in the area, and all four went at once. Then, while I watched, he somehow (I still couldn't really see him) managed to divert all that water into her, all at once. It was amazing, and more than a bit scary. The jets of water turned into steam, and filled the whole plaza with clouds of hot air and water bubbling away. It was like downtown Boston was turning into a sauna. I heard later that kids from the Emerson campus came down just to experience it, but I didn't see any of them. I heard Brigit howl, and then I saw it. She rocketed up into the air on a plume of fire. He followed her...just rose up into the air and shot after her like it was the most natural thing in the world. In fact, he was faster, getting above her. She threw those flames at him, and nothing happened. Then I saw his eyes glow a bright red, and she howled again...and the flames petered out and she fell from the sky. He didn't catch her. She smashed directly into the giant puddle forming in the crater where she'd been standing when she took off, and more steam blasted out of it. The splash probably saved her life. He landed not too far from me as I was staggering back to my feet and carefully edging into the water falling from the busted hydrant. Hey, I wasn't going to let people know I'd peed my pants if I could avoid it. "What the hell happened?" "I could see through her skull." His voice was still that deep, majestic lilting tone of command, but hushed by awe. "I could see the node inside her head...so I hit it with..I stared at it, and it burned. She'll regenerate the damage, probably, but it probably felt like I hit her between the eyes with a sledgehammer." Then he turned to me, his newly perfect features contorted in terror. "I can hear...everything."
  3. I was huddled behind a car watching explosions rip though downtown Boston, mushrooms of red and yellow fire that blossomed out from the epicenter of a cackling woman's footsteps. The worst part was how beautiful she was. Her hair was the color of the fire that did her bidding, practically glowing from inside each follicle. Her body was wreathed in gold light, like a shift of starshine, and every perfect Nova curve was open to inspection, if you happened to have the balls for it. Me, I like being in one piece, so I kept hidden. "Humans...I wish I could explain to you why you have to die. But it would be like discussing math with chimps." She looked over at a streetlamp, and it melted into slag. "Remember, those of you who survive, that I'm very sorry you weren't born a better being." While the yellow-white metal ran down the remains of the pole, I accessed my palmtop and looked up her police record. Okay, so it meant breaking into Boston PD's computer...hell, according to our most excellent lady of flame, I'm one of the master race, right? I did it with a thought, feeling the surge of power that connects me to the quantum...and in that second, I understood, in a small part of my soul I don't like to think about, why Brigit (that's her nickname) wanted to burn everything down. To feel like that...you have to experience it to understand it. The car I was hiding behind shuddered, and I jumped away from it just as the gas tank blew. A shower of smouldering fragments fell down like black rain, and my burning lady stepped through the flames and looked down at me. "What's your name?" "O'Dell." I swallowed; she was giving off so much heat that my sweat was evaporating off of my face into steam. "You get to live, O'Dell. Be thankful." She walked away, melting the asphalt into puddles of black goo in her wake. I looked down at my pants, but thankfully I'd held my bladder. Well, so being able to pull off minor-league monkey tricks with machines was good for more than just work; it made me worth not killing. Hoorah for us Novas. I cowered there for a few more seconds, but then my natural journalistic psychosis made me get up and follow her. Cops were doing their jobs and dying for it, turning into roman candles or howling flames that staggered around and burned like tire fires. One guy, I didn't know who he was, leapt onto one of the more unfortunate cops and beat the flames out with his leather jacket. Underneath it he was wearing one of those baseball T-shirts, one of the ones with long sleeves a different color than the rest of the shirt. It was dark blue and grey, and at first I couldn't see the chest, so I thought nothing of it. Then the burning lady herself noticed a school bus trying to pull away from the Public Library. We were all in the shadow of the Prudential Building, but as you might expect all the fires were lighting the place up and there was no place to hide. Brigit smiled, a cold beauty in her delicate features, and a rush of heat built up around her so intense that I actually dropped my palmtop because the plastic was heating up. The guy who was helping the cops noticed it, too. He looked up, a wild expression full of hate and fear mixing on his face, his eyes as wide as the muscles of his head would allow. And then, as Brigit let loose on the bus (one of the kids was smearing her little face against the glass, trying to see the Nova) the cop's rescuer threw himself directly into the streak of flames. I had a split second to look at him, and I figured I'd never see him again, so I took the time to memorize what he looked like. I figured I'd need to, since he wouldn't be leaving any remains to help his next of kin identify him. The worst part was, thanks to my special gift with machines, I knew I could download the image from my memory and make a fortune from the boys at N! Prime with the tale of one brave baseline's suicidal heroism. Black hair, kinda greasy. Blue eyes. Baseball jersey with a red and yellow pentagonal symbol on the chest underneath a leather jacket. Old blue jeans that had seen better days. I made sure to keep looking, expecting to watch as the fire ate him away from the outside in. It did. It blasted right through his T-shirt and burned right into his chest. I saw his ribs blacken and his heart tear in half, and a pillar of flames surrounded him and shot up into the sky, to fall apart and fall back on us like sleet made out of hate. He pitched forward, not even screaming, and Brigit walked over his remains to hit the bus. Now, I'm no hero. But I looked at one of the remaining cops, who looked at me, and I realized something. We weren't going to take this shit anymore. Pushing so hard I felt like my head was going to pop off of my neck, I grabbed hold of the bus's ignition system and turned the fucking thing over. The driver wasn't there...maybe she'd run, maybe passed out, I dunno...but there was a nice ViaSoft Autopiloting system installed in case of driver heart attacks and the like, and I talked to it. The bus lurched forward. I could feel my node throbbing in my head as I screamed at it, pouring energies I don't normally use through it and praying my ass off. The bus rolled away from her, and she turned to look at me with contempt. Somehow she knew. Somehow she could sense the quantum pouring out of me. She was going to cook me where I stood for it. I wet my pants, both from fear and from the strain. One of the cops, the one I'd looked at before, figured out that it was me driving the bus and knew that if she nuked me, it would probably crash. So he began firing wildly with his own gun and another one he'd picked up from somewhere...I could see bits of carbon on the barrel and didn't want to think about what that meant. Others joined in, forcing her to keep the heat wrapped around herself where it could melt the bullets. I just kept driving the bus. My head wasn't just splitting anymore...blood was running down my face from my nose, which was fine by me as it kept me from smelling the acrid urine soaking my pants. Then the guy who'd jumped in front of the bus got up. I watched, and may have been the only one (in all fairness, Brigit was walking at the cops, and their bullets were forming a bubbling lead speckle around the edges of her heat-field, so there were more compelling things to stare at) as he stood up.
  4. God is Love; I don't love you. Written by Matt Rossi August 17th, 2008 My name is Paul O'Dell, and I'm a journalist. I normally don't write in this style; I'm the prince of detachment, the king of objectivity. But not this time. This time I got sucked into the story. Maybe because I like comic books as a kid, or because I'm biased because of my M-R Node. But I got this goofy knack with electricity. Not enough to hurt anyone, but I can interact with machines just fine, which is why I don't have to type this. I'm no Kuwasha, but I get by. Marcus Rossmore is a god. I don't know where he is now, but wherever it is, he's a god there. He's a Nietzchean ideal, filtered through Siegel and Shuster (with a brief pit-stop in the desert of Sinai to chat with a burning bush) and he's gone now. He couldn't take us anymore. I remember the first time we met. February 12th, 2007. The day his world changed.
  5. <table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" align="center"><tr><td> <font size="+4">ABERRANT</font><hr width="50%" align="center"><font size="+2">XWF</font> <img src="http://www.nprime.net/images/xwf.jpg" border=0 height=200 width=140 align=LEFT><font size=+1>Test Your Might Against the Champions of the Ring... </font> Gladiators of the Quantum age, X-treme Warfare Federation shootfighters take recreational combat into the extreme zone of skin-ripping, blood-boiling, bone -crushing physical trauma. When claws, fire bolts and Mega-Strength come into play in the ring, the stakes go up. Way up. And when the stakes are this high, something's gotta give! <font size=+1>If You’re Nova Enough</font> Aberrant: XWF contains everything you need to know to be one of the heroes — or villains — of the Quantum combat ring. Pit your character against the demented Count Dragonuv, Christine "The Terminatrix" Jesensky and the other world-class badasses on the nova fight circuit. Learn about the nervous sponsors, the obsessed viewers and the unstable masterminds behind it all. But be warned, the XWF is not for wimps. </td></tr><tr><td>Retail Price: $4.95 U.S. Page Count: 24 Author: Robert Hatch <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1565046889/nprim-20">But it Now</a> </td></tr></table>
  6. ABERRANT [align:center]TERAGEN ,, To Create a New World... Cast as monsters, villains and rogues, the novas of the Teragen are hated by Project Utopia, vilified by the media, and worshipped by misfits, outcasts and rebels everywhere. Led by the powerful and charismatic Divis Mal, the Teragen seek to create a new Eden for the Quantum born. But there can be no calvation without sacrifice. Once the Teragen deals with the fragile and unfit baselines, a bold new civilization of novas will blossom in their place. The Old One Must be Destroyed! Aberrant: Teragen contains the history of the movement Utopia loves to hate, and the deviant personalities that drive it. It's also brimming with new powers, including the strange techniques used by Terats to deal with Taint. Are you nova enough for the secrets in this book? [/align]Retail Price: $17.95 U.S. Page Count: 142 Authors: Philippe R. Boulle, Josh Mosqueira Asheim, Lucien Soulban Buy it Now
  7. <table width="140" border="0" height="200" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="0" align="right"><tr> <td><font color="#000000"><img src="http://www.nprime.net/images/utopia.jpg" width="140" height="200"></font></td></tr></table><p align="center"><font size="+2">Project Utopia Review</font> " So, you want to be one of the good guys? This is the book you're looking for, hero. Project Utopia details the organization that most legitimately seeks to help the human race as a whole. While nothing in the world of Aberrant is all black or all white, Project Utopia was founded by the altruistic Aeon Society and is led by the idealistic Justin J. Larragione. The agents of Project Utopia are as close to being the good guys as you're going to get in a realistic setting. " The world of Aberrant is one filled with wonders. Since the dawn of the Nova Age, the world has undergone changes both subtle and profound. The hole in the ozone layer has been sealed, AIDS and various other life threatening diseases cured, the oceans cleaned and Ethiopia terraformed into a lush and verdant paradise. The world has, in short, become a better place for all mankind. All these great deeds can be laid at the doorstep of the Aberrant world's most powerful nova organization: Project Utopia. Founded in 1998 under the guidance of both the United Nations and the Aeon Society to both study and utilize the nova phenomenon for the good of humanity, Project Utopia burst onto the world scene with a variety of initiatives. Novas were studied for their physiology, and the Mazarin-Rashoud node was discovered. But it remained relatively unknown until January 1, 1999, when Director Justin Larragione unveiled Project Utopia's peacekeeping force: Team Tommorow. This group of powerful novas was brought together by the Project to help bring about it's vision of world peace. Team Tomorrow battled terrorism, helped see to the downfall of organized crime, and aided in the restoration of the environment. The Project opens Rashoud facilities to aid newly erupted novas in the control and use of their power, and to teach these novas to use their gifts for the greater good. Through ten years, Project Utopia has been a beacon of hope to the people of the world, a shining symbol of humanity achieving it's goals for peace and prosperity with the aid of novas. Nothing lasts forever. Jennifer "Slider" Landers, a popular nova and member of Team Tomorrow, is murdered in 2008. No one knows who killed her, but a rogue group of novas calling themselves Aberrants have made allegations of a shadow cabal within Utopia, a cabal which had Landers killed to cover up the lengths to which the Project will go to ensure it's vision of paradise. <table width="85%" border="0" align="center"><tr> <td>" . . .Furthermore, as the worship of power is the most enduring of human religions, it stands to reason that these aberrant beings who emerge from our genetic stock may come to be viewed as the ultimate avatars of this religion. Yet, their failing is that these "novas" are still psychologically human, and humans respond to strength-related praise with greater and greater shows of strength. Simply put, resting our hopes for our vision of perfection for all mankind on these all-too-human beings would be the greatest of folly. " -Excerpt from " The Thetis Proposal" </td></tr></table> Within Utopia there is a group, men and women (some novas) dedicated to keeping novas on the track to utopia. . .and God help any who try and stop them. This hidden sub-section of Utopia is known to a select few as Project Proteus. The shadow to Utopia's shining light, anyone who threatens the Utopian ideal, any nova who dares threaten Utopia's interests, makes a powerful enemy in the agents of Proteus. These people deal with the less telegenic of Utopia's goals; not the least of which is the ominous Bahrain facility. Located on the isle of the same name, this complex is Proteus's dark heart, a stronghold where the most dangerous, antisocial, and tainted novas are held in confinement. While this group holds to the Utopian ideal, their actions are a far cry from the heroics of Team Tomorrow. Indeed, in their efforts to control and contain the spread of novas, Proteus's "cure" may be far worse than the disease. . . Project Utopia is a book with definite strengths. The sourcebook focuses in great detail at the inner workings of the altruistic group from top to bottom, you really gain an appreciation for the forethought put into an organization as vast as Utopia. Chapter 1 deals with the history of the Project, from it's founding through the present day. Chapter 2 covers the structure of Project Utopia, and all it's divisions, as well as Utopia's goals. Chapter 3 details the history and structure of the world's premiere nova group: Team Tomorrow. This section gives readers an in-depth look at the world's most photogenic novas. Chapter 4 covers relations between Utopia and various groups within the Aberrant world. Chapter 5 belongs to the enigmatic Project Proteus. Looking for a real X-File? Proteus is a conspiracy theorist's dream. The chapter has more than a few revelations within it, and those who think they know everything about the Aberrant world may find a few surprises in store. . . Chapter 6 is Storyteller territory, with ideas and ways of creating a Utopian campaign, from the four-color heroics of Team Tomorrow to the grim 'n gritty world of Proteus special ops. Some interesting ideas and potential series themes can be found in this section. On the whole, Project Utopia is a strong effort on the part of the Aberrant crew. It contains a lot of interesting tidbits and ideas on dealing with this altruistic organization that strives to make the world better. However, the book is not without flaws. Sections of the book can make for lengthly, dry reading, Chapters 2 and 4 in particular. Also, while the coverage of Team Tomorrow is adequate, a lack of backgrounds for major NPCs is a bit of a pain. Only 6 T2M members are profiled, and none of the ones introduced to us in the core rulebook. Readers looking for profiles of their favorite Team Tomorrow members, or even the elusive Caestus Pax, are in for a disappointment. Also, another gripe is the ambiguity and vagueness surrounding the Aeon Society. One would think that with Utopia being founded by Aeon, that some of the mists surrounding the Society would be parted, or at least some hints dropped. I suppose we'll have to wait for White Wolf's third Aeonverse game Adventure before we get the full story. The art in the book is extremely well done, giving you a real feel of the book's flavor. In particular the awesome cover by Tom Fleming, as well as the stellar work of Jeff Rebner and Brian LeBlanc. Project Utopia is a useful book for players and storytellers alike looking for idealist heroes. It's also handy for those who admire anti-heroes as well. <font color="#FF0000" size="+1">Rating: <blink> Buy.</blink></font> <em>Review courtesy of Stacy Dooks, aka Defender.</em>
  8. Being part of the legitimate press has its perks. Just this Friday past, Yours Truly had the un-freaking-believable luck to score his bad self some tickets to the opening of L.A.'s SuperNova Deli. Being the gentleman that he is, Q-Tip escorted his ever-lovin' momma to the event. You see, Momma likes to hang with the Q-Gang and be a part of the Nova Scene as much as (or even more, God bless her) than her baby boy. Boy does Momma have some stories to take to the quilting circle this Tuesday! For those who don't have the pleasure of joining Momma at Mrs. Abernathy's this Tuesday, I'll fill you in…. Not since the solemn gathering at Jen "Slider" Lander's funeral has there been such a gathering of A-list Novas. Though his detractors may fault him for his constant grandstanding, it's the one reason I love Kikjak so goddamn much. Not since Beverly Hills Cop's Axel Foley, has a kid from the streets of Detroit been so welcome to our zip code. He pulled up to the doors of the Deli in a purple limousine. After a two minute Mega-Martial Arts demonstration, Kikjak escorted his mother into the Deli where Q-Gang spies inform me Mother Kincaid and Son split a plate of blintzes (man knows how to treat his momma). Momma nearly tipped over when I pointed out her favorite XWF combatant strutting down the carpet. Lance "Stone Badass" Stryker even managed a salute and a wink over in Momma's direction. Winks and nods stopped though as the hostess at the door mentioned to Mr. Styker that he couldn't smoke his favorite Cuban cigars on the Deli grounds. "Ain't no one gonna tell me when and where I can't enjoy my Havana Maduros, and that's a damn fact!" Momma and I agree, but John Q. Health Inspector doesn't, Mr. Stryker. (Note: Momma was able to smuggle in a panatella of her own to His Stone Badassness. They talked for ten minutes. Guess who doesn't have to buy Momma a present this Christmas?) While Momma was living her dream, Yours Truly had the Cestus Pax-strami on Rye with a kosher dill on the side. To top that off I was fortunate to be sitting across the table from nova genius Cassandra. For an unquestionably brilliant woman, she can keep it real. Though she expressed some ambivalence about the whole event, she (and I) agreed that the menu was simply inspired. Speaking of lean meat, Ironskin Andy Vance had the whole place buzzing when he showed up without life partner Jake Korelli. I had the opportunity to ask Andy about it, and it turns out Jake is at home recovering from a run-in with newcomer Adam Fury, a nova out of St. Louis. Jake's fine and will be back in Ibiza by week's end. You can catch the "The Dragon's Fury" on N!'s Call'In Out! Just as the meal wrapped up, most of the guests (Ineffably Yours included) were shocked and pleased to see T2M's own Cestus Pax and S.O. Jennifer Love Hewitt make an appearance. The prearranged event was to present the SuperNova Deli with Slider's T2M Jacket and raise awareness for the Silver Ribbon Campaign against nova on baseline/baseline on nova hate crimes. Novation exec Shannon Lauder was also on hand to present the SND with the first in the line of SuperNova Edition Action Figures. Befitting the T2M presentaion, the action figure was a SuperNova Slider. C.P. was unable to stay, citing a dinner engagement as the reason for his early departure. (NOTE: Q-Gang spies report Pax and JLH had dinner with Miss Hewiitt's parents at Bon Pain. Do you hear bells in the distance? Hmmm…) Momma had to take her baby boy home Friday night and tuck him in bed. All the excitement (and tequila) was just too much. But rest assured, gentle readers, that neither rain, nor sleet, nor drunken stupor will ever keep me from a deadline. [uh-huh -- Ed.] Have the down-n-dirty on the Nova Scene? Be a part of the N-Spy network and send your hot tips to novascene@nprime.net. All submissions become the exclusive property of NovaScene and N! Prime.
  9. <font size="4">N! Prime Interview: Johnny Drake, a.k.a. Dragon </font> by Lisa Hammerstein N! Prime: Hello, Johnny. JD: Hi Lisa. N! Prime: Johnny, let's start at the beginning. Who was Johnny Drake before he became a nova? <table width="40%" border="1" align="right" bordercolor="#000000" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" bordercolorlight="#CCCCCC"><tr bgcolor="#CCCCCC"> <td><font size="4">At my school, principal Munroe bought a bunch of copies to show in the homerooms - At least until he found out that there were naked women in the magazine.</font></td></tr></table> JD: Well, I was just this ordinary guy who liked to draw. I started as a kid, and people liked my stuff, so I just kept doing it. Then one day I entered an art competition judged by Michael Whelan. He liked my stuff and we kept in contact. He helped me get my first piece published in Heavy Metal last year. N! Prime: That was The Dragons of New York, right? JD: Yep. At my school, principal Munroe bought a bunch of copies to show in the homerooms - At least until he found out that there were naked women in the magazine. N! Prime: Have your nova powers enhanced your art? JD: I don't think so, and I'm glad of that. N! Prime: Why do you say that? JD: Because my art is very personal and important to me. If my powers helped my art I'd always be wondering how much was me and how much was the power. N! Prime: So, dragons are your favorite subject matter? JD: Actually a close second. N! Prime: And your favorite? JD: Women, of course. I am only sixteen after all. N! Prime: Well, on that note, tell me about Kelly Munroe. <table width="60%" border="1" bordercolor="#000000" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" bordercolorlight="#CCCCCC" vspace="8" align="left"><tr bgcolor="#CCCCCC"> <td><font size="4">I asked her to pull aside her strap so I could draw her shoulder. Later she took the rest off.</font></td></tr></table> JD: I had been in a few classes with her, and I thought she was cute. We knew each other and talked in class, but I never really saw her outside of class. I wanted to ask her out, but she had this on-again, off-again relationship with Scott Gillis, and she was a senior, and she was the principal's daughter. Then one day I had an idea for a story and thought she would be an ideal model to draw the heroine from. N! Prime: Because she was a cheerleader? JD: Actually, she was on the cross-country team as well as being a cheerleader. So I asked her if she'd like to model for me. She asked jokingly if it was just an excuse to get her naked and I told her she could wear a swimsuit and I'd just draw in the details. N! Prime: So she was wearing a swimsuit? JD: At first... I had been drawing for about half an hour, when I asked her to pull aside her strap so I could draw her shoulder, and well, she just took off her top. I stammered something and blushed and went back to drawing. Later she took the rest off. N! Prime: So nothing happened? JD: Well, I didn't sleep with her. A couple of hours later I left. The next night, Scott Gillis and the rest of the football team jumped me. They stuffed me into the trunk of his car and drove me out to the football field. They then proceeded to beat me almost to death. N! Prime: How badly did they beat you? <table width="40%" border="1" bordercolor="#000000" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" bordercolorlight="#CCCCCC" align="right"><tr bgcolor="#CCCCCC"> <td><font size="4">They eventually charged me with eight counts of assault with nova powers, arson, sexual assault, and child pornography. </font></td></tr></table> JD: Well, I know my right arm was broken, and I'm pretty sure that several ribs were too. The police found about fifteen teeth. Oh, and I was coughing up blood and was seeing double. But I think it was when I got kicked in the head and my neck snapped that I erupted. N! Prime: Your neck snapped!? How did you know? JD: I felt the kick and there was this crack that filled my head for a second. I couldn't feel anything past the pain in my neck. At that point time seemed to stretch out and everything went quiet. There was a blinding pain in the center of my head, but it was a pain that didn't hurt. All of the fear and all of the anger just faded away. I don't remember any conscious thought, but I opened my eyes, and there was the painting I have at the end of my bed - a painting I did of a humanoid dragon - at it filled my eyes. It was glowing and getting brighter and I was coming toward it, faster and faster until I entered those eyes and I was the dragon. N! Prime: And what about your injuries? JD: They went away when I changed. Dr. Svoboda of T2M has a theory he calls the phoenix effect - that when a nova erupts with physical modifications, the eruption will rebuild the body even if the nova shows no ability to instantly regenerate later, like me. N! Prime: So what happened then? JD: I stood up and grabbed Scott. The others had already started running away. I wanted to scare them so I breathed a blast of fire at the ground. They were too far away to get really hurt but a couple got minor burns. I think that's when Chris dropped the camcorder. I then turned to Scott and lifted him off the ground by his shirt. He was clawing at my hand, trying to get away, but he couldn't budge my fingers. I stared at him for a few seconds and he lost control of his bowels. Then I said "I can rip you open like a candy wrapper... Or I can deal with you another way. Do you have anything to say to me?" I let him squirm there for a minute or two. He was too scared to even form coherent words. "What are you supposed to say after you do something wrong to somebody?" I almost laughed when I saw the light go on in his eyes. He managed to squeak out "I'm sorry," and then he looked at me and it dawned on him that he might live through this. I then put on my sternest voice "Good. Now the next time you feel the need to get revenge on somebody, remember that I have every reason to want revenge on you." I set him down. "Now run." And he ran like nobody's ever seen. N! Prime: You sound like you enjoyed that. JD: Oh, I admit I enjoyed it. I scared the hell out of him and he deserved every minute of it. N! Prime: What did you do after that? JD: I grabbed Chris' camcorder, went home and fell into bed. Next morning the police barged in with tactical gear and aberrant-busters. I went quietly. They eventually charged me with eight counts of assault with nova powers, arson, sexual assault, and child pornography. N! Prime: Looks like they wanted to throw the book at you. JD: Yep, luckily Project Utopia helped with my defense. The videotape pretty much covered the assault charges. It didn't show my talking to Scott, but it did pick up the sound. This also led to charges being filed against Scott and his buddies. Kelly testified that posing naked for me was her idea, and to use her words, "Scott was the only guy who forced me to have sex with him." As to the child pornography, well, we argued that the sketches were artistic in nature, and the jury must have accepted it so. N! Prime: And the arson charge? JD: After all of the other charges were in the bag, we bargained it down to misdemeanor vandalism in exchange for time served. After all, I did scorch the football field. N! Prime: What happened next? JD: Well, Scott plea bargained down to aggravated assault, the others to simple assault. They should be out on probation soon. I got expelled, of course, but Kelly was the one who really got shafted in all of this. Some bastards from the Church of Michael Archangel started threatening her life during the trial. After they tortured her cat, the FBI got involved and now she's someone else in the witness protection program. If you see this, please know that you never deserved this, and I'm sorry for getting you involved. N! Prime: What happened to the sketches? JD: I burned them. After all the trouble they had caused, it seemed fitting. A fitting end.
  10. <font size="4">BBCO News at 6</font> "Good evening from the BBCO." As you may have heard, Prince Harry Erupted this afternoon during a Polo match. The horse did not survive. Details are unconfirmed at the moment, and all video and camera footage was lost due to Quantum overload from the young royal. He is currently undergoing testing at an undisclosed facility in London. It is believed that this facility does not belong to Project Utopia. Already there has been a statement from the Reverend Dr Liam Paisley, spokesman for the Irish wing of the Church of the Imminent Eschaton, who is reported to believe that King Charles must now abdicate in favour if his younger son. This is the will of God Almighty." The palace has yet to issue a full statement.
  11. <font size="4">7 Dead In Attack On Rashoud Facility</font> by Robert Blackwood N! Prime Staff Writer DALLAS -- A heavily armed man whom witnesses said had at least twice tested negative for Nova potential attacked a Rashoud facility in Dallas Monday morning. At least seven people were reported dead in the attack, including one nova, Dr. Jay Silber, and the gunman. Sixteen more, all staffers and visitors to the facility, were wounded. The gunman, who police identified from witness reports as Terrance Chadwick of Durant, Oklahoma, entered the facility on Garland Road at approximately 10:30 a.m., and opened fire with an assault rifle. Two people, receptionist Jenny Harlan and a clinic staffer who police did not identify, were killed immediately before Chadwick reportedly entered the interior of the clinic. Access beyond the clinic's reception area is controlled by a security door, but the staffer who was killed was reportedly coming out the door when the attack began. "He didn't say a word. Just pop, pop, pop, pop, pop," said Philip Scott, who was in stable condition at Baylor Memorial Hospital Friday night with gunshot wounds to the thigh, arm and shoulder. "He looked right at me. I've never seen eyes like that. So cold and disconnected, like glass. I don't think he ever blinked once." Police say that as terrified staff dove for cover beneath desks and counters, Chadwick worked his way methodically through the ground floor of the facility, at one point stopping to reload while clinic workers reportedly begged for their lives. Chadwick's AR-15 assault rifle, the civilian version of the military's M-16, had been modified for automatic fire, and was equipped with illegal 30-shot magazines, police said. Silber, a Nova telepath and staff psychiatrist at the clinic, attempted to mentally subdue the gunman but apparently failed, witnesses told police. He was shot as many as eight times, and the gunman then apparently turned the weapon on himself. Police surrounded the facility, but did not enter for more than an hour. Clinic staff who called 911 on their cellular phones were not aware that Chadwick had killed himself, and police did not want to endanger them, said Dallas Police Department spokeswoman Jerrilee Swadey. Witnesses who asked not to be identified said that Silber did not die immediately, and might have survived had he received medical attention sooner. No other Novas were in the facility at the time of the attack, clinic officials said. Security guard Bill Chappelle reportedly died exchanging fire with the gunman in the clinic's main hallway while others escaped through a back door. "Bill Chappelle is a hero," Dallas mayor Laura Miller said at a City Hall press conference Friday afternoon. "He gave his life defending innocent people, some of whom are alive today only because of his sacrifice. The city owes his family a great debt." Also reported killed in the attack were Raju Viswanathan, 23, an intern, and Rachel Sutherland, a staff technician. The identities of the two other victims, the staffer killed in the reception area and a visitor to the clinic, were not released because their families had not yet been notified. Cheryl Toklas was outside the clinic when the shooting began. "I saw him go in, but I didn't think there was anything wrong at first," Toklas said. "I sort of saw he was carrying something, but he was holding it down by his leg, and I didn't pay it no mind. When the shooting started I thought it was firecrackers or something at first. It didn't hit me till later what it was, when people piling out the back." "Toklas, 48, a former Air Force corpsman, helped administer first aid to wounded victims who fled the building during and after the attack. Toklas was also commended by the mayor during her press conference. In addition to the assault rifle, Chadwick was armed with a TEC-9 machine pistol and two 9mm semiautomatic pistols. All were apparently purchased legally at gun shows during the last three years, according to police. In Chadwick's green Ford Navajo, parked in front of the clinic, police found two more rifles and boxes containing more than 200 rounds of ammunition. "This was a racist attack, born of fear and hatred. It's that simple," said Raoul Orzaiz, self-appointed spokesman of the Nova separatist group called the Teragen. "These senseless massacres will go on for as long as hate groups like the Church of Michael are suffered to exist. Only this time it was baselines who suffered the consequences." Several pamphlets of anti-Nova literature and a copy of the Null Manifesto were reportedly found in the Durant, Oklahoma, trailer home where Chadwick lived alone. However, there was no clear evidence to connect Chadwick to the Church of Michael Archangel or any other organized anti-Nova group, in spite of Orzaiz' accusations, investigators said. Investigators discounting Chadwick's connection to anti-Nova groups pointed to facility records that showed that Chadwick had gone to the clinic at least twice in the past three years to be tested for Mazarin-Rashoud Node latency. Both tests came back negative, clinic staff told police. Witness reports could not be confirmed that Chadwick also showed up at the facility last week asking to see Silber, who was out of town at the time. Chadwick's parents, who live in Midland, Texas, refused comment. Police said they were still investigating, but at this time do not consider the parents to be connected to the attack.
  12. <H1>Memo to the McClelland File</H1><H3><A HREF="corleyj@chronic.lpl.arizona.edu">by Jason Corley</A></H3><HR>The Old Professor sat primly behind his battered metal desk and regarded the two Young Psions with an affectionate gaze. "I'm sorry, but you two and your...." He twirled a wrinkled, thick-fingered hand in the air as if brushing away smoke "... secret society, the Æon have, really, a grotesquely limited and parochial view of what the implications of psychic abilities actually are. It's natural, of course, and understandable, but you have to start to rise above it if you're to succeed out here." The Legionnaire sputtered. "Limited? Limited? The implications... are you stupid? The Trinity says that the implications involve the entire human race, maybe the galaxy! That's limited?" "Yes," the Old Professor said, sighing a little and looking out his window. The Martian sun was small and dim near the thrumming worldshaper towers on the horizon. "You're limited to the big picture, bigger than planets, bigger than nations, or states, or cities, or towns. And always, always, bigger than people. Unity would be a beautiful and marvelous dream if it weren't for the small and uncooperative people that keep messing it up. Isn't that right?" The Legionnaire blushed a little and fell silent. The Old Professor chuckled paternally. "Don't worry. You aren't the first generation to want to save humanity in spite of itself. I believed as you do many years ago." The Minister said, "We wanted to ask you about...." "... my article on the McClelland case?" said the Old Professor. He grinned and touched his bow tie with a gentle finger. "I knew that I would get a visit after I transmitted that out. I didn't expect it to be from two of my best students, though. I wonder how many other people at the University are Trinity operatives." The Young Minister looked at her shoes. "I didn't think you would write something like that, Professor. I... I don't know what to say." "You feel betrayed?" he said tenderly. "That I should come out in favor of the decision instead of opposing it as your order would have me?" The Legionnaire said, "I just don't understand it. You've always been a great friend of the Orders here on Mars, but...." The Old Professor raised his index finger as if pointing to something on an invisible holo. "A friend to the psions. The Orders I can take or leave." "Whatever," the Legionnaire said testily, "But now, how can you say that it was right for them to drag that clairsentient through the dirt and let that scumbag go...." The Old Professor laughed a little. "Well," he said. "If you insist on seeing the case in isolation, and from the isolated point of view of the psion, that's exactly how it's going to look. But I think the case is an encouraging sign of the...." "Encouraging?" interrupted the Minister. "Encouraging for psions to be hunted by the police just for being a little different?" The Old Professor sighed and leaned forward at his desk. "I'm very old." he said to the pair. "Will you listen to a story from an old man?" The Legionnaire relaxed a little. "Sure, Professor." he said, and was about to say more, but stopped himself. Instead, he said, "What's it called?" "It's got a terrible name. Three-sixty-seven U.S. six-forty-three." said The Old Professor. "But the story is much better than the name." <HR WIDTH="50%"> About a hundred and seventy five years ago (the Old Professor said) there was a vivacious, vigorous and voluptuous woman named Mapp. She lived in Cleveland, Ohio, with her daughter, on the top floor of a rooming house. We don't know much more about her other than that she was divorced and politically radical. Late one night, three police officers arrived at her home, searching for a radical suspected of setting off a bomb. They knocked at Miss Mapp's door, but she kept them waiting while she called her attorney. Then she refused to admit them without a search warrant. Four more police officers arrived, and they forced the doors to the house. Miss Mapp's attorney arrived, but the canny cops would not admit him to the house or let him see Miss Mapp. At the upstairs hallways, Miss Mapp stood her ground and demanded to see a search warrant. One police officer produced a piece of paper and brandished it at her, claiming it was the warrant. Mapp, unimpressed, grabbed the paper and started to look at it. The officer, alarmed, tried to grab it back and a scuffle ensued. Miss Mapp then stuffed the so-called warrant into her bosom. Why are you laughing? Miss Mapp's cleavage marks a great divide in legal history, the warm, yielding balanced globes of Justice... all right, all right, I'll stop. The officers were not so delicate. They were hardened public servants... sorry, sorry... they were not going to brook with this kind of nonsense. They handcuffed Miss Mapp - no, honest, they did - and reclaimed their "warrant" forcibly, and it promptly disappeared and was never seen again. They then searched Miss Mapp's home from attic to basement, failing to find the bombing suspect, but instead finding some obscene materials. She was prosecuted and convicted for possessing them. <HR WIDTH="50%"> The Old Professor paused. "Would you have sent Miss Mapp to prison?" The two were giggling. "No, of course not!" the Legionnaire said with a grin. "Why not?" the Professor said. "What if the police had found a murdered body stuffed into a trunk in the basement?" Their giggles subsided. "I don't know." the Minister said. "The police didn't have a real warrant?" "Would that matter?" asked the Professor. "Well, yes." the Minister said. "It would have made the search legal." "Would that matter?" asked the Professor again. She looked at him and said "Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the people by its example. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it invites contempt for the law; it invites anarchy." The Old Professor's turn to blush came, and he blushed in the manner of the old, slowly, and without shame. "I am please Justice Brandeis' words are so clear in my old and fuzzy-headed mind. But Brandy has been dead a longtime, and we can reject him if he doesn't have a good enough reason to say the things he says. Why exclude the evidence found in the search from Miss Mapp's trial? Miss Mapp could certainly sue the police officials for the unlawful invasion of her privacy and be redressed with money through the civil system. Why should she also get off the hook for a crime she was guilty of?" The Young Psions looked at each other. The Professor pressed on. "Surely there is no additional wrong done to Miss Mapp by the presentation of the evidence in the courtroom - the crime is in taking it from her home and there alone." "Well," the Legionnaire says, "if we put her in jail, the cops would do that kind of junk all the time. They'd never get a warrant for anything, they'd just go right in." "You're saying that the reason to exclude the evidence is to change the behavior of the police, not to protect the interest Miss Mapp has in a fair trial." replied the Professor. "Well, sort of, yeah." the Legionnaire said. "There has to be a fair process, starting way back when the three officers arrived at her house. Just making the trial fair, that's too little too late." The Professor nodded. "But how much of a deterrent is it to police misconduct to exclude the evidence? By the time of the trial, the police are no longer involved in the case. They're probably not even paying any attention to it." The Minister rubbed her chin. "Even if it is only a small deterrent, Justice Brandeis was right. Agents of the government should not be rewarded, however negligibly, for invading people's rights." "So what's the answer?" the Legionnaire said suddenly. "I dunno," said the Old Professor. "But I'm surprised to hear both of you argue so strongly for the exclusion of the evidence, because in the McClelland case...." "That was different." the Minister said quickly. "Is it now?" said the Old Professor with a small smile. "But Miss Mapp's breasts are only the beginning of the story. The first chapter. Come back tomorrow and I will tell you the next." <HR WIDTH="100%"> TO: Neptune 837243 FROM: Chan Guan-yin RE: Primary Report, Professor Ariss Legionnaire Simms and I have just completed our first interview with Professor Ariss about the McClelland case. He has not yet explained to us his thesis that the McClelland case was rightly decided for the good of humanity and the psions. However, we have discussed related matters at length, and he gave us the example of a related, ancient case regarding a similar subject. Before it is decided what should be done with Professor Ariss, I believe it would be fruitful to re-examine the underlying assumption of the Trinity investigation - that if the Professor's views are dangerous to Æon, that his funding should be cut off. Without knowing the full extent of the Professor's analysis, we may be closing our minds to the possibility of error. As far as I could tell from my mental examinations of Professor Ariss during our conversation, he was not frightened, did not know our true purpose, and did not lie. <HR WIDTH=50%>TO: Chan Guan-yin FROM: Neptune Central RE: Ariss Conduct no further direct mental examinations of Professor Ariss, but continue your interviews with him. It is possible that he has deceived you via latent telepathic abilities of his own. <HR WIDTH="50%"> "Now that's stupid." said Guan. "What good am I in an interview if I can't read his mind?" "You better come anyway," said Mike. "He keeps leaving me in the dust." "No, no, I'll be there, but still. It's weird." said Guan. "Are they really worried that he might... infect me in some way? That's crazy." Mike snorted. "No crazier than that nutty story he told us. I mean, I can see his point, it's just totally different." "Yeah," said Guan. "Well, we'll draw him out. I think he likes us." "He likes all his students," admitted Mike. "I had him for Lunar History." "I had him for Twentieth Century Art." Guan said, smiling a little. "They broke the mold." "Yeah," Mike said. "Thank god." They laughed. <HR> THE Old Professor was waiting for them in the rainstorm. The crashing sounds of the crackling ozone and the sparks of lightning from the towers raced across the sky, and he stood at the middle of the downburst, wrapped in a slicker and layer after layer of clothes. They shivered in the freezing rain but stared up with him at the boiling clouds. "I miss rain," he shouted above the howling wind, sucking in a heavy, low-oxygen breath after each short phrase. "Someday we'll have natural storms here. Or you will. I'll be dead, I'm sure." "I have a feeling you'll still be teaching History of Philosophy when we're dead and in the ground." shouted the Minister. They all laughed and The Old Professor took them both gently by the arm, with the paper-thin skin of his hands lightly brushing their skin. Inside the lobby of the University, they were moving towards the elevators when the Old Professor said suddenly, "Let's just use the downstairs conference room. You can't see the storm fields from my office." The Legionnaire blinked. "Sure." he said quietly. "Sure, that would be great." The conference room was dim and too large for them. The Old Professor stood at the window. "Have you thought at all about Miss Mapp?" "Yes," the Minister said. "But there's a difference -- Miss Mapp was just keeping something in her house. Jason McClelland was out in public -- in fact, he was robbing a convenience store. That's a completely different situation." "Ah," the Old Professor said. "That's very good. Let me tell you another chapter of the story, and then see what you think of Mr. McClelland's robbery." "Does this one have a terrible name, too?" "Oh, yes." the Old Professor said. "And it also starts in Cleveland." "Where is this Cleveland place anyway?" said Mike. "It's in the Blight now." the Old Professor said. "Right on the edge. I think it got reclaimed eventually. I'm not sure if it's still the center of search and seizure jurisprudence, but it's something to think about if you ever plan on going there." <HR WIDTH="50%">The name (the Old Professor said) of this chapter in McClelland's story is three-ninety-two U.S. one. One sunny afternoon, Mr. Terry and his two friends were walking through downtown Cleveland, when they happened to be espied by Officer McFadden. Now, Officer McFadden was no detective, he was just an ordinary patrol cop, but he noticed Mr. Terry and his friends loitering around a store - they would walk up the street a short distance, turn the corner for a while, then walk back and look in the window. Officer McFadden then approached the trio, hailed them, and began speaking to them. He asked their names, but the men were reticent. The gallant officer then grabbed Mr. Terry's arm and turned him to face him directly, and reached out, and patted Mr. Terry's breast pocket, finding therein a gun, which the officer appropriated. Upon frisking the other two men, Officer McFadden discovered another pistol. Mr. Terry was arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon, convicted and sentenced. He would have preferred, of course, that the gun not be admitted into evidence against him. <HR WIDTH="50%"> The Old Professor looked out at where the lightning strikes had started to pound the storm fields into a furious glow of ionizing moisture particles and crackling thunder. He said "Should it have been?" "This is stupid." the Legionnaire said. "Of course the gun is evidence. He was carrying it, wasn't he?" "So the police should be able to stop anyone on the street that they choose and search them." said the Old Professor evenly, staring out into the tempest. "Well, no!" said the Legionnaire, "But if he thinks something is up...." "Your honor," said the Old Professor in an exaggerated Southern drawl. "I saw that there Legionnaire on the street and I knew trouble was a'comin'." "Okay, okay," the Legionnaire said irritably. "But they can't just stop and search everybody...." "So if you have your hands in your pocket, clutching your one-shot scatterblaster, pointing it at this stupid copper's belly... oh just let him ask you one more question and you'll scatter his spine across the pavement... there's no legal way for the policeman to survive the encounter?" said the Old Professor. The Minister frowned. "What if the policeman were authorized only to search as far as was necessary to maintain his safety?" The Old Professor chuckled. "That's what the court said. But why should we let a policeman in the street have more authority to legalize a search than a judge in a courtroom?" "I'm sorry?" said the Minister. "If Officer McFadden had decided to go and get a warrant to search Mr. Terry and his friends, he would not have the required probable cause to search them, and the warrant could not have been issued." the Old Professor said. "Yet if Officer McFadden approaches Mr. Terry, he can search him all he likes, if he somehow feels that he is in danger...." The Minister frowned. "That doesn't make much sense." she said. "But if we exclude the gun...." "Mr. Terry and his fellow cohorts are free to rob and pillage another day," said the Old Professor. "What about Mr. McClelland?" The Legionnaire looked up sharply. "What about him?" "Mr. McClelland posed no immediate threat to the clairsentient who spied upon him. Surely her justification for using her abilities on Mr. McClelland was less than Officer McFadden's justification for using his on Mr. Terry." "Wait," the Minister said. "I know the real difference. The real difference is that the clairsentient wasn't a police officer. She doesn't have to be subject to the same restrictions as police officers. She doesn't act with governmental authority." "And so she doesn't have to follow the law? Even I can see the problem with that, Guan." said the Legionnaire. The Old Professor bowed to her. Behind him the rain smashed into the dry rocks. "The last part of our story." the Old Professor said. "Tomorrow." <HR> She was just sitting down to type the report when Mike burst into the room and said "This is just fucked up, Guan! I thought McClelland was open and shut! Now I keep going in circles. I went to look up more about this stuff but of course it was all gone from before the war." "People like Professor Ariss are the only ones that keep that stuff alive." Guan sighed. "Them and Æon, of course." "Oh, yeah? Them and Æon? Well, how come Æon didn't tell us any of this junk? They just gave us a copy of his little article thing saying that McClelland was good for psions and not bad, how the hell were we supposed to know all of this stuff about police and searches and guns and stuff? Nobody's thought of this crap in years, nobody but professors, you said it yourself! Something's fishy about this." Guan paused. "I think you're right. I don't think we're really hereto find out why he thinks the McClelland decision is right. I think we're meant to find out something else entirely." "Well, what?" said Mike. "I don't know." She turned her almond eyes towards the window. The stormfields were empty now, the towers still humming on the pale red skyline. <HR WIDTH="50%"> TO: Neptune 837243 FROM: Chan Guan-yin RE: Primary Report, Professor Ariss We have completed our second interview, with the same results as the first. Professor Ariss' opposition to the Æon position on the McClelland decision appears to stem from his civil libertarian convictions. We have a final meeting with him tomorrow. <HR WIDTH=50%>TO: Chan Guan-yin FROM: Neptune Central RE: Ariss Your information confirms what we suspected. We believe that Ariss is in league with the Federated States and hopes to turn the Martian colonies over to them. He is an influential citizen and could do us much damage. You are to discover the truth of this allegation and find any evidence of his connection with the FSA. Mental contact is re-authorized and physical force is authorized at your extreme discretion. <HR WIDTH="50%"> "Well, god damn." Mike said, reading over her shoulder. She was breathing evenly. "I'm going to go make some arrangements." <HR WIDTH="100%">The cold wind made a hiss in the audio of the phone image. It was Guan. "Mike, put on your clothes and come downstairs. I'm at the paybooth just outside the lobby. Hurry. Delete this message." She hung up before Mike was fully awake. "Christ." he said to the dark cool air of the dormitory. He got up and slapped the wall panel. "What time is it?" he yawned, and started pulling on his warmsuit. The wall panel was saying "It is now zero six twenty three Erebus Standard Time" when the door hissed shut behind him. He pulled on his boots in the elevator and came out blinking into the dim horizon sun of the Martian morning. Then, a message came to him, He never got used to telepathy. It didn't sound like Guan's voice in his head. Not like in the vids where the hero looks up and the voice plays on the soundtrack. It sounded like Guan herself -- not her voice -- was there, and he knew she was. "It's me. Be at the Sector 93 Scar in twenty minutes. Be sure you're not followed." "Shit." he mumbled, and went in the opposite direction to get some breakfast and shake any tails he saw, which he didn't. The Sector 93 Scar was just what it sounded like: a great ugly gash in the smoothed roadway of Sector 93, about seven feet wide and fifty feet long. They had repaved around it, and put up a plaque with a memorial poem on it, and a warning sign, and a railing, because this is where the Aberrant had landed, and this is where the Taint lingered. There was no danger to go and stand in it for a short time, to stare at the sky and shudder, but it was strong enough to disrupt psionic abilities and Mike was surprised Guan wanted to meet there, on a deserted street in a ruined area of the city, where the air recirculators were off and the oxygen was thin, in the freezing cold morning, just before they were to see... He stopped. She was standing there, in the middle of the Scar, with Ariss, who was in a thermal suit and had a breather on, looking cold and disconsolate. He walked up to her quickly, stepping over the railing. "I told him." Guan said to Mike instantly. "What?" Mike said. "You told him what?" "I told him the foundation that pays his salary gets a great deal of its money from Æon, and that we thought we were supposed to determine whether or not that salary should be cut off." she said. Ariss gulped in a mouthful of air from his breather. "If they cut off my salary, I won't be able to stay. The University is still on shaky financial footing. Most of the colonists don't have college-age children yet..." Guan glanced at him, then back to Mike. "And I told him about what we found out last night. About what we were really supposed to find out." Mike stared at her. "Oh, hell. Hell, hell, hell!" he said. "You drag me out here in the freezing cold to tell me that you...." Gain said sharply, "Mike. Mike, listen to me. You don't know who we're reporting to, do you?" Mike breathed out heavily. "No." he said. "No, I don't." "He's a clairsentient. That's why we're meeting here. This is the only place he can't find us or the Professor." Ariss sighed heavily and ran a hand through his graying, wispy hair, again, like brushing away smoke. "You don't know about the McClelland decision," he said quietly. "We're learning." Mike said, forgetting Guan for the moment. "I want to hear the end of the story. You're the only one that knows this stuff." Ariss looked at him. "It's worse than you think. Do you know why I know the McClelland decision so well?" And Guan's breath caught in her throat, and she didn't need telepathy to see that something was wrong Professor Ariss said simply: "I wrote it." "Oh, hell, prof!" cried Mike. "That's fucked up!" "You wrote the McClelland decision?" Guan said incredulously. Ariss nodded. "Judge Alderson was in my class at law school on Angeles Platform," he said miserably. "We go way back. He transmitted asking me for advice, and I sent it to him. About three-quarters of the final written findings were mine." "Oh, that's just great!" Mike said. "You're out for sure, Professor Ariss... oh, man, this sucks!" Guan paused. "Calm down, Mike." she said. "We need to think about this." She paused, and turned to the old man. "Do you have any notes, any papers about this? We were supposed to bring back any physical evidence." Ariss looked at her for a long moment, then nodded. "I have a hardcopy of the final transmission I made to Alderson. It's in my desk." Guan replied, "Honestly, I'm not sure what to do, but you need to give that paper to us when we meet today. Our contact could be scanning your office right now." Professor Ariss grinned ruefully, "I wish him the best of luck. You haven't seen the inside of my desk." Guan smiled at him and shook her head a little. "All right. Here's what we're going to do. The three of us leave the Scar separately, by about five minutes each. We meet at Professor Ariss' office for our meeting as if we hadn't met before. We'll take the paper there and speak for a while, then... .well, we'll decide what to do afterwards." "You mean you'll decide what to do." said Professor Ariss. "I won't have any more input." "You've done quite enough, I think." Guan said sharply, then reddened at Ariss' mild, imperturbable gaze. "I'm sorry." she said quietly. "But we swore an oath. This is important work." Ariss replied mildly. "I suppose it is." And he turned and left the Scar behind, his slow, small steps moving him up the deserted street in the cold, thin Martian wind. Guan and Mike watched him go. "He's fucked, isn't he?" said Mike. "He's fucked." Guan agreed. "But I don't know how fucked. Not yet." Mike was adamant. "I want to hear the rest of the story." Guan laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, as much to steady herself as to reassure him. "Yeah." she said. "Me too." <HR> They sat together in his office for the last time. The Old Professor had a thick roll of flimsyfax bound up with a rubber band in his hand when they entered, and without a word he handed it to the Minister. The Young Psions sat down opposite him and he retook his seat. The Old Professor said, "Have you thought any more about what we talked about yesterday?" "I haven't thought of much else," Mike said eagerly. "I have a question. Isn't this whole thing about balancing? I mean, on the one hand you don't want to let people get away. And if you're talking about suppressing evidence, that means you think whatever you are doing is important enough that it's all right to let guilty people get away. Because if they weren't guilty they wouldn't want the evidence suppressed." The Old Professor nodded with a kind smile. "Go on." "So it's a balance between police power -- whatever form it has -- and whatever the power is against." Mike paused lamely. "What's the word?" "The interests...." prompted Guan, reading it out of his eyes. "That's it! Thanks. The balance is between police power and the interests of the innocent. Right? Because on the one hand people don't want to be robbed, and on the other hand they don't want to be hassled by the cops." Mike finished. "Very good." the Old Professor said and chuckled a little. "You've identified the main conflict -- there are some other, related issues, as we described in the chapters about Miss Mapp and Mr. Terry -- but you have found out its essential core. But I've got bad news for you." "What?" Mike said, grinning. "It doesn't mean a damn thing." the Professor said, grinning back. "What?" Mike said again, his grin sort of hanging in the air in front of his face, unsure now. "The last chapter." the Professor said. "Or, perhaps, the second-to-last." <HR WIDTH="50%"> This chapter has a bad name, but it's not quite as awful (the Old Professor said) as the first two. It's called the Fourth Amendment. Many hundreds of years ago, there were two neighbors in Virginia, both named George, who went to help create a new nation. And one of the Georges came home angry, because the agreement that would lay the foundation for this new nation had no provisions in it to protect, as Mike says, the innocent from the police. It hadn't been so long ago that George's own house had been subject to random searches by soldiers looking for rebels. The other George was more famous and more practical and was so angry that the first George had refused to sign the agreement that they never spoke again. However, the first George was a practical man as well, and he began political agitation for something to enforce the rights of people in the new Republic. Within a few years he had succeeded. The Fourth Amendment was born. It said that people had a right to be secure from the invasion of their privacy by the government. It lived hundreds of years. It stretched out its arms to cover Miss Mapp and Mr. Terry. But it died, too. Murdered in its bed. Go to a courtroom in the FSA today and you will not hear of Miss Mapp or Mr. Terry. You will not hear of the Fourth Amendment or George. You will hear of military necessity. You will hear of soldiers following orders. And you will hear of money, but you will not hear of whether a person may be secure on the street or in their homes or in their beds, because it is a settled question. They may not. <HR WIDTH="50%"> The Old Professor stopped. "And that, until McClelland picked up his shotgun and went to a convenience store, was the end." The Legionnaire stared at him. "What?" The Old Professor looked right back at him without saying anything. "You mean... it doesn't matter?" the Legionnaire said. "We went through all that to get here? It doesn't make any difference?" The Old Professor looked out his window at the pale red soil of the quad. "That's right." he said. "The story ended there. Now think about Mr. McClelland." The Minister's eyes were shut. "Mr. McClelland," she said, "was found out by a means that the court rejected, and the evidence that found him out was suppressed." "So what?" said the Old Professor. "So... there are now some means." Her eyes flew open. "Oh. After McClelland, there are some means by which the police are not allowed to invade people's privacy. Oh god." "And if they do...." said the Old Professor, looking to the Legionnaire. The Legionnaire said slowly: "If they do, then they aren't allowed to use what they find. Like with Miss Mapp." "Precisely," said the Old Professor. "The story of Mr. McClelland did not end a reactionary decision exploding from the throat of a psion-hating nation. It was a small but courageous step away from the dictatorial state and towards the heritage of the stories of Miss Mapp and her breasts... Mr. Terry and his gun... and a thousand others. Mr. Katz in his phone booth. Mr. Miranda in the interrogation room with his confession before him. Mr. Lopez at the train station. Ms. Alejandro with her implant. They're all waiting back there, waiting to ask us their questions, and Mr. McClelland's story ends with a promise that we will hear the questions, because they do matter. Whatever the answer." He paused. "They matter." he said again, and looked out the window. The room was silent. The Minister rose quickly. "I think we have to go." she said. The Legionnaire was silent. "Do what you have to do," the Old Professor said without looking back at them. They didn't say good-bye. They couldn't. <HR>"I think he's right." said Mike on the way back to the dormitories. The sun seemed far away. "I know you do." said Guan. "This is fucked up." repeated Mike. "It is." said Guan. There was a message for them at the dormitory desk: I AM COMING TO GET YOUR LAST REPORT PERSONALLY. was all that it said. In the dormitory, Guan shut the door hard. "He'll be up soon. He can see that we're home now." "What are we going to do?" Mike said. "I don't know. I'm going into the next room. Stall him when he gets here and I'll see what I can pick out of his thoughts. Say I'm busy typing up the last report." she said. "Okay," said Mike uncomfortably. "I'll try." <HR WIDTH="50%"> The ISRAn stepped through the door when the Legionnaire opened it. "I don't think we've ever met." he said. "I'm Mike Simms." "I know," said the ISRAn. "I've read your file. Do you have the last report ready?" "Guan... er... Minister Chan is finishing it up now." said the Legionnaire. "Do you want something to drink?" "No," said the ISRAn. "I want this project over with." "Hey, me too." said the Legionnaire. "The Prof isn't such a bad old guy." The ISRAn's eyes narrowed. "I suppose you found nothing, then." he said suspiciously. The Legionnaire held up a hand. "Hey, don't get me wrong. We did our duty. He's just a little off kilter on this one thing. But pretty harmless." "Harmless," said the ISRAn, and laughed mirthlessly. "Fortunately, your previous reports were sufficiently detailed to help us come to a preliminary decision. He'll be cut off from funds and deported from the colony." The Legionnaire stared at him and spluttered a little. "You already decided? Well, what the hell were we here for?" The ISRAn looked at him. "We know he is -- at the very least -- an ideologue opposed to Unity, and because of this he will be moved from where he can do us damage. But if he is more, if he is a collaborator...." He left the threat hanging, but in the next room, Guan could sense it, pure as crystal and twice as sharp. She turned to the minicomp. The Legionnaire was stunned into silence for a moment. "Well, whatever the Trinity says," he mumbled finally. The door to the next room slid open and Guan was there, her uniform buttoned up tightly. "Hello, Minister." said the ISRAn, bowing slightly. "Hello," she said. "I have the final report here." She held up the disk. "Do you mind if I read it here?" said the ISRAn smoothly. "Not at all." she said, sitting down stiffly opposite him. The ISRAns diskreader was slim and black and expensive-looking. "You mentioned that he gave you some papers?" he said, pointing to a place on the text. "Yes," said Guan, passing over a small stack of holoprints. "Old stories, mostly incomprehensible. I think he's going senile." The ISRAn laughed. "Yes, I suppose so." He looked at the papers, then tucked them away into his travel case. "Is there anything else?" he said. "No," said the Minister and looked at him with her blank, blank eyes. "If there is," he replied mildly. "You know you cannot hide it from me." "There isn't." she said tonelessly. The ISRAn stood and looked around the dormitory. Then he closed his eyes and looked again. The Legionnaire glanced to the Minister but her lips were pressed together and her gaze was straight ahead. Finally the ISRAn nodded to them. "I was told to check." he said somewhat apologetically. "There was some fear that your affection for Professor Ariss might have clouded your judgment about him." "Sacrifice is the keystone of the order's tenets." said the Minister, looking at the ISRAn's face but not a millimeter behind it. "It was not hard to see our duty." "See that you remember that." the ISRAn said in a voice he thought was ominous, and stepped out of the door. There was a long pause and the Minister finally relaxed. "Oh god." she said softly. "Take a walk with me, Mike." <HR WIDTH="50%"> They walked through the lunchtime crowds of the miners swarming through the glossy prebuilt restaurants of Cheaptown. They walked past the glittering spires of the water collectors and the roaring thunder of the worldshapers. They walked along the smooth sidewalks and the broken red ground. They walked to the Sector 93 Scar without saying a word and stepped inside it. "What happened?" Mike said. "What did you do?" "They were going to kill him." Guan said. "I don't know. I just. Not after what he told us. Not with all that he knows. It would be such a waste to destroy his mind, his knowledge...." "Did you destroy the transmission?" Mike said. "No." Guan replied. "I couldn't. It's...." She looked up. "It's too important for that, I think." She unzipped her coat and unbuttoned the flap of her uniform, shivering with the cold as she peeled it away from her chest. She untucked it deftly and withdrew the crumpled flimsyfax from just beneath her small breasts, then quickly rebuttoned her uniform. "So what are we going to do?" said Mike, looking down at it in her small hands. "Keep it." she said, sorting through it. "Here, you take half and I'll take half. Professor Ariss will be off the planet before the month is out. But there's got to be someone else who knows. Somewhere. We've got to find them and we've got to get this... well, I don't know. I know we're supposed to get things settled, but I don't want this settled. We've got to get people stirred up about this. Otherwise all the work the Professor did will be for nothing." Mike understood instantly. "Yeah." he said. "Right on." He tucked the papers away in a pocket. He made a face. "This is the first time I've ever done something against the Trinity." "We're not against the Trinity." she said. "But this isn't any of the Trinity's business." And there wasn't anything left to say. They stepped out of the Scar and back onto the flesh of the colony, into the icy wind beneath the pale reddish brown sky, arm in arm, wondering what would happen next. <HR SIZE=4> <H3>GAME STATISTICS</H3>CHAN GUAN-MIN Concept: student prodigy cum secret agent Allegiance: former Ministry, now Aeon Trinity Aptitude: Telepathy <TABLE CELLPADDING=2><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>STR: 2</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT><NBSP></TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>DEX: 3</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT><NBSP></TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>STA: 2</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Resistance 3</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>PER: 4</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Awareness 2 Investigation 2</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>INT: 4</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Academics 2 Bureaucracy 1 Linguistics 1 (Chinese)</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>WITS: 2</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Rapport 3</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>APP: 2</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Style 1</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>MAN: 3</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Command 3 Interrogation 2 Subterfuge 2</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>CHA: 3</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Etiquette 2 Savvy 1</TD></TR></TABLE> Backgrounds: Allies 2, Citizenship 1, Contacts 3, Mentor 1, Resources 1 Aptitudes: Mindshare 3, Empathy 1 Willpower: 6 Psi: 4 Chan Guan-Min was born in the Chinese Free Trade Zone. Her early life as the favored child of a minor zaibatsu executive put her on the fast track to success, especially since her great intelligence was noted at an early age, putting her in the best corporate educational facilities. However, after she was tested positive as a latent psion, a rebellious streak sent her from her home -- Aeon Trinity became her new family, and she was sent to the Martian colony to study at the University and be one of Aeon's eyes and ears on the rugged frontier. She is an unremarkable Oriental woman: short and slim, with a low and soft voice that she always uses with perfect timing. She and Mike Simms have a great filial affection, even though she has much better contacts within Aeon itself. <HR WIDTH=50%> MIKE SIMMS Concept: student athlete cum secret agent Allegiance: former Legionnaire, now Aeon Trinity Aptitude: Psychokinesis <TABLE CELLPADDING=2><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>STR: 4</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Brawl 3 Might 2</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>DEX: 3</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Athletics 3</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>STA: 4</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Endurance 3</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>PER: 3</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Investigation 1</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>INT: 2</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Academics 2 Survival 4</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>WITS: 4</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Rapport 2</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>APP: 3</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT><NBSP></TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>MAN: 1</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Command 1</TD></TR><TR VALIGN=TOP> <TD ALIGN=LEFT>CHA: 2</TD><TD ALIGN=LEFT>Savvy 2</TD></TR></TABLE> Backgrounds: Allies 3, Followers 1, Resources 2, Citizenship 1 Aptitudes:Cryokinesis 1, Pyrokinesis 2, Telekinesis 1 Willpower: 6 Psi: 4 Mike Simms was born in New York, but his family was attached to a group of smugglers and black marketeers, so he was always being packed up and moved from one city to another, never staying long enough to make friends. This was tough for Mike, who is a gregarious and friendly person. When he tested positive for psionic latency, his family saw it as a godsend -- he couldbe their new muscle. He saw it as a way out, and never looked back. He struck up a friendship with the quiet and reserved Chan Guan-Min when they were both assigned by Aeon to Mars and they've been fast friends ever since. Mike is a hands-on worker on the fringes of the colonies, working with University scientists to help expand and accelerate the terraforming efforts. He's not at all stupid (despite what you may think of him from this story), but he is not very good at expressing himself -- having someone like Guan around to give his mind a gentle shove every now and again has helped him greatly. <HR SIZE=4><H3>Dedication</H3> This story is dedicated to Justice Louis Brandeis, who said: "The progress of science in furnishing the government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wiretapping. Ways may some day be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home. Advances in the psychic and related sciences may bring means of exploring even unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions... Can it be that the Constitution affords no protection against such invasions of individual security?" <font size="-1">-- Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 48 S.Ct. 564, 72 L.Ed.944 (1928) (dissenting)</font>
  13. <H1>Standoff</H1><H3><A HREF="mailto: LordSchmit@aol.com">By Chris Schmidt</A></H3><HR> The searing Texas sun burned down on the rocky ridge, illuminating the battle as it neared its conclusion. The Mexican rebels were in retreat, overwhelmed by the better armed FSM troops that guarded the caravan. Somebody, somewhere, had miscalculated the strength of the troop compliment when they had planned this raid. And there were numerous dead rebels evidencing the price of that mistake. Not that the guerreros hadn't drawn blood on the Americans. There were FSM corpses strewn about as well. Smoke and flames decorated the battlefield as one of the cargo haulers burned, adding unneeded heat to the summer afternoon. Gunfire, both laser and bullet, sounded throughout the area as the FSM troops chased the rebels into the hills. Sergeant John Hudson crept along the interior of small gully. The trench was maybe no more than ten to twelve feet deep, and wide enough for only one man to walk through at a time. Using it as cover, he hoped to outflank some of the fleeing Mexicans on the rocky fields up above. The chaos of the raid had separated him from his unit, and his minicomp, having taken a bullet, was no longer functioning. Still, busted communications was preferable to eating the bullet himself. The FSM trooper shrugged his shoulders uncomfortably. The blazing sun made the armor sweaty, and his laser carbine, despite being light and compact, was getting heavy after the hour or so of gunfighting. The gravelly earth crunched lightly underfoot. He wished he could move more quietly, and tried, but he was a big man, wearing clunky battle armor. Stealth was not his strong suit. Carbine at the ready, he moved along the shallow ravine. Someone, far more skilled in silent movement, shadowed John up on the edge of the trench. Keeping out of sight and crawling without sound, the Mexican moved on all fours, knife in his mouth, shotgun on his back. The raid had not gone well, and Julio Rodriguez knew it. It should have been quick and simple. Spring an ambush, kill some American goons, steal some of their supplies, and split. But there'd been more troops than they'd anticipated, and the raid had degenerated into a bloodbath on both sides. Julio could only thank God that they'd picked the site of the ambush so far from any FSM base. Enemy reinforcements would not get here in time to help their friends. The rebels still had time to escape. He should have been retreating with his fellow rebels. Most had gotten away by now, Americans in pursuit. But some, like himself, had stayed for the opportunity to pick off a few more foes. Julio had seen this one enter the trench, and now intended to stalk the stalker. Hudson paused a moment, looking down at his feet. A canteen lay in the dust and gravel, apparently dropped by some rebel in retreat. He looked up and around for a long moment, wondering if this was bait for an ambush. John heard and saw nothing unusual nearby. The Mexicans were running away. They wouldn't have the time to set up a trap for a lone soldier. He licked his lips in thirst and bent down to pick up the canteen. Rodriguez lay still up above, breathing as quietly as possible, not moving an inch. When the American had stopped moving, so had he. Julio wondered what the trooper was doing. He had no view from here. His eyes darted around. No other FSM troops were in the vicinity. He could see some in the distance, but they were concentrating in another direction and probably couldn't see him in his prone position. Did the trooper in the trench know Julio was up here? Was he now waiting for the rebel to stick his face over the lip of the trench and present a target? A drop of sweat trickled down his face as he continued holding his position. He could wait the trooper out. He'd done it before. There were several dead overeager Americans as testament to his patience. Hudson crouched in the relatively shady trench and drunk from the canteen after he checked to be sure it was filled with water. The sun was unforgiving out here. He glanced around again, listening carefully. Deciding he could take the chance, he set his rifle down and removed his helmet. His dark blonde hair, in the standard military cut, was soaked with sweat. He wiped the back of one hand across his brow, then lifted the canteen over his head and poured water down on himself. The water wasn't cold, but it brought relief from the heat. Julio could hear the water splashing. The soldier was taking a break, it sounded like. Finding some respite from the oppressive summer temperatures. Now was the best time for it. Slowly, he took the knife from his teeth and gripped it in his right hand. Even more slowly, he brought himself up to his feet, ready to pounce. He still couldn't see into the trench. If he took the time to peek, the trooper might notice and he'd lose precious ambush time. He had to do this fast. He did his best to estimate the man's position below from the sounds he was making and readied himself. Hudson gulped down the water like a dying man. It was too damn hot out here. Blasted Texas climate. He pulled at the collar of his armor and tried to pour some water down his shirt to give his back and torso a little relief. The canteen was nearly empty now. John moved to set it down when he saw it. The shadow looming up over him. He had company. Julio came over the edge of the trench and down into it, knife poised to strike at the FSM trooper's exposed neck. As he came over, the rock of the trench walls gave way under his weight and sudden movement. It threw him off balance as he descended. While he regained it as his feet touched the trench floor, he had lost his knife. Julio immediately reached for his holstered pistol and prayed he could draw it in time. Hudson snapped into action as the shadow came down towards him with the sound of cracking rock and tumbling scree. Dropping the canteen with one hand and grabbing his carbine with the other, the soldier rose and whirled around to face his ambusher. Both men stood no more than four feet apart. Both had guns out and pointed at one another. An American soldier with a Voss 63k laser carbine, and a Mexican guerrero with a Stavros 11mm slugthrower autopistol. Both clicked their safeties back in the same instant. Hudson was aware of the knife that clacked on the hard earth at their feet, but made no attempt to look at it. He dared not divert his attention now. The Mexican's pistol was right in his face, the muzzle no more than an inch from his nose. He stared across the sights of his own carbine into the dark brown eyes of the rebel. Julio stared back at the trooper's blue eyes. His enemy's laser rifle pointed squarely into his face. His mind raced to think of some way out of this, but came up with nothing. Neither man dared fire, for fear of causing the other to do so at the same time. Both wished to kill the other, but not at the price of killing themselves. Julio Rodriguez broke into a grim smile. "What we have ourselves here," he said in a heat-parched voice, "is what's called a Mexican Standoff, gringo." Sergeant Hudson's lips twitched. "You could say that." They stared at each other for what seemed an eternity, but in reality was about twenty seconds. In that stretch of time, they mulled over their situation, over the mutual extreme choice facing them both. At least one of them would not walk away from this alive. They both knew that, and they could see in each others eyes that the other knew it, too. Now the only matter was figuring out if there would be a lucky one, and which it would be. Hudson spoke first after the pause. "Trying to jump me from beyond, Paco? Your guys' tactics never change, do they?" "Go with what works, O'Brien." "My name's not O'Brien." "And my name's not Paco." Silence descended again. Both men looked outwardly calm. They had spent too long in this conflict to let anything shake their cool, and neither was going to start now. Julio studied the FSM trooper's face. He wasn't used to seeing them with their helmets off, wasn't used to seeing their eyes and hair. The helmets made it easier for his side, Julio thought. The helmets made them look less human. It was easy to forget there were people in those suits of armor, instead of the soulless automatons he often regarded them as. "So, what is your name?" John spoke up again. "What do you care?" He shrugged very slightly. "Everyone's got a name. Better than 'the Mexican'." Julio wished he could readjust the grip on his pistol, but he could not afford the movement. "My name don't matter to you, killer." Hanson scowled. "I'm not a killer. I'm a soldier." "Fucking Soulless Monster by any other name, gringo." Hudson scowled again, this time at the name the rebels used in reference to Federated States Military troops. It was undeserved, in his mind. Not that the Mexicans would care. He slowly took in a deep breath, and let it out just as slowly, his eyes never leaving those of Rodriguez. "Wouldn't do much good if I tried to tell you we aren't like that, I suppose." "Tell me all you want. Won't change my mind. Actions're louder than words and shit." The trooper licked his lips. "And our actions say...." he let the sentence hang, half interested in hearing what the rebel had to say, and half trying to buy time. Maybe if he could keep the Mexican talking, his fellow FSM troops would come by and help capture the man. "Stop tryin' to distract me. You know what you done." Julio wasn't buying it. But he had no idea what to do with the American. This ambush had gone very wrong. John could feel his hands beginning to cramp as he held his rifle steady. He resisted the ugre to flex them and tried to ignore it. "All I do is try and keep peace here." Julio's eyes flashed dangerously. Hudson had struck a nerve, and wasn't sure if that was a good thing to do right now. He needed to keep the Mexican calm. But Julio's anger went as fast as it came, and his cool returned. When he spoke, however, there was passion in his voice. "Keep the peace? You gringos buying into your own hype now? You cause more death around here than we do. You arrest our people off the street without reason. You barge into our homes in the middle of the night! You tax us unfairly! You force our children into your schools, teaching them your culture, if you allow them to be schooled at all! You are monsters! And our people will not stand for it! We never have!" Hudson didn't react outwardly. "Nice speech." he said calmly. Inside, he had always wondered if such things were true. Did his government really commit such acts? Or was it just rebel propaganda? His training had always said the Mexicans were just dangerous thieves and a threat to American security. He was inclined to believe his own side, naturally, but sometimes he wondered.... They both stared at each other for another tense fifteen seconds. Sweat poured. Trigger fingers cramped. Minds raced. Neither man saw a way to get out of this without gunfire. Neither man trusted the other an inch. Hudson watched a bead of sweat drip of the end of Julio's nose as he thought on something the man had said. "So, just who are we supposed to have arrested on the street for no reason?" Rodriguez's mouth twitched a moment. "Lots of people. Nobody you'd know or remember." Hudson caught the mouth twitch. Julio had someone specific in mind. "Like who? Someone special?" Hudson again attempted to keep Julio's mind occupied with other matters, trying to buy time. "Like my wife, asshole." John Hudson was a bit taken aback by that. He had expected the answer to be some rebel general or other. He forgot these rebels sometimes had families, like he did. Wives and children. Julio Rodriguez smiled slightly, seeing he had caught the FSM trooper off-guard with that response. But Hudson's slight suprise disappeared quickly. "So what did your wife do?" the soldier asked. "Do?" Julio sounded incredulous, "She didn't do nothing except be married to me, gringo! That was crime enough for you bastards...." "We wouldn't...." Hudson frowned and started in, then stopped. Would we, he thought? "Wouldn't you? You did. It's been done. It's being done. And if we got anything to say about it, it'll never happen again!" Despite his aroused anger, Julio's arm was getting tired. he'd been holding his pistol in the American's face for.....what? Three, four minutes now? The tension in the air wasn't helping matters any. Hudson was still frowning. "And this is how you'll put an end to the alleged mistreatment? With guns and knives and grenades? You ever stop to think about talking? Political action? Or were you just too eager to start shooting?" Julio gritted his teeth. "Like political action would ever work with the FSA. The shooting started with you fools, remember? When you invaded OUR country? When've the oppressors ever listened to the oppressed except when forced to? Never. We're just defending ourselves. We're fighting for our freedom, fucker!" Hudson's trigger finger almost squeezed. It was an ugly page in American history, and he hated to be reminded of it. Sure, the FSA government made no qualms about what it had done, but it wasn't a picture of his country he wanted to see. He spoke quietly, swallowing his anger. "Those were desperate days. We were starving. The Aberrant War left us in ruins. We had no choice." Julio smiled this time. "Rationalize it all you want, but think of the irony while you're at it. Now we are the ones who are starving, because you took over all our farmlands. These are our desperate days. We have no choice." John Hudson had nothing to say to that. He knew it was true. He'd always known, maybe. But like most, he chose to ignore the truth and just tried to get by. He had a family to support. He couldn't forsake them for the ideals of a bunch of revolutionaries. So he just pushed those thoughts away into the back of his mind. Julio had brought them out and put them in the mental spotlight again. In spite of his annoyance at that, John also felt the pangs of guilt, as well. The two men resumed their standoff. It was hard for either to ignore the gun muzzles pointing into their faces, though they both acted unbothered by their mutual positions and kept their eyes locked on one another. The sun continued to pound down on them. In the distance, the sounds of fighting grew fainter. Julio was being left behind. If he didn't leave now, the FSM troops would swarm all around and catch him. But this one here was in his way. Shooting it out wasn't an option, he knew. He had to stay alive. He had to rescue his wife. Who else would? "Cell 346-4B, Block 3, Callfield Complex, in San Antonio," he said. Hudson blinked. "What?" "That's where my wife is kept." "Why tell me?" Julio paused a moment, the sounds of the battle had stopped, replaced by distant sounds of tanks and troops marching. He was out of time. "So you can see her. So you can check the trumped up charges they keep her on. So you can know she is innocent, as are so many of my countrymen abducted by your government. So you can see the truth." "What makes you think I'd do that?" "Same reason you ain't going to shoot me, gringo. You got morals. And you believe me." Julio took a step back. Hudson made no move to stop him. "How do you know that?" The soldier watched as the rebel took another backward step. He still made no move to stop his enemy, and he knew he wouldn't, even as he asked Julio how he knew. "I'm a good judge of people. Plus, you ain't shot me yet." Another step. Hudson watched as Rodriguez walked steadily backwards down the trench, towards where the floor slanted upwards to the ground level. Both kept their guns pointed at each other. Julio stopped just at the end of the trench. "Somebody's gotta save her." With that, the rebel turned and ran up and out, exposing his back to Hudson, presenting an easy target. He didn't take it. It took perhaps only three or four seconds before the gunfire sounded. The calvary had arrived. It stopped just as quickly. Hudson stood in the trench, rifle lowered to his side, breathing deeply and looking that the knife near his feet. He stood that way for a long moment before a figure appeared above the lip of the trench. Hudson squinted up at the man, silhouetted against the blazing sun. "Sergeant Hudson? This is Private Ferris. You alright, sir?" the voice was familiar. "Yes, Private. I'm not hurt. Did you get him?" "The Mexican? Yes, sir! Nailed that bastard before he could get off a shot!" The young soldier sounded proud. John Hudson looked at the knife. The knife Julio had originally attacked him with. "He didn't get off a shot because he was out of ammo. He had been the whole time." He said softly, more to himself than the private. "What was that, sir?" "Nothing, Private. Move out. I'll catch up." The figure saluted, "Yes, sir!" Then it turned and left. He stood and stared at the knife a while longer before picking it up and studying it more closely. It was a hunting knife with a leather-bound grip. The letters 'JR' were inscribed at the base of the blade. The Mexican's initials, he supposed. They never did learn each other's names. Hudson took a deep breath and stuck the knife in his belt, then started walking to the incline out of the trench. Cell 346-4B, Block 3, Callfield Complex in San Antonio, Julio had said. Somebody's gotta save her. Somebody would.
  14. Another freeform Psi systemBy Reg StuartAdapted from the Trinity freeform Psi system by R. Sean Borgstrom with inspiration and help from Nikolaj Lemche and Rich Menzi The Basic IdeaI wanted a freeform system that was fast, stuck to the core Trinity book where it was possible, and still allowed one to do cool things from the Trinity Players Guide like covering modes you didn't have and so on.I wanted mode learning (rather than just psi points) to be important.I also wanted the lines between what you knew how to do, and what you could almost do, to be grey.I wanted psions to be thinking, "I can feel how close I am from being able to do that properly!"I wanted a system in which easy things could be done with little or no effort, while hard things could be done albeit with a lot of effort.Along with all this I wanted a system that adhered more or less to the psi costs of the core book. I wanted a lot -- Did I succeed?Decide for yourself.Feel free to drop me a line if you have suggestions, but remember that ultimately you must use the system that feels most right to you -- even if you have to do some plumbing to get it right. Oh -- and if this system seems overly complex -- perhaps you should skip to the examples at the end and work your way back up.It might help. Please note: Although this is an alternate freeform system to the one presented in the Trinity player's guide, it is expected that you have said guide available to you in order to use this system.Besides -- if you play Trinity and haven't got that book -- what's your problem?!? Another note: if you're using this system I expect you to be using the double psi point pool option.That will bring the percentage of psi spent more in line with the core book. What follows is the series of steps one would follow when creating a Psi effect. System Interface:Decide what you want to do.Figure out the power rating by taking the highest level effect used.(LVL) = highest effect level used. For example:A TK 3 PK 5 plasma sword effect would be rated as (LVL) = 5. If you don't have the mode levels necessary (but presuming that you have the that level in another mode) then the levels that you're short becomes a difficulty.(DIFF) For example:You try to create a PK 5 effect, but only have PK 3.You gain a difficulty of 2.(DIFF) = 2. Decide how much extra psi you want to pump into the effect (EXT) = extra psi + a maximum of 1 willpower point. Note: The maximum extra psi that you can add to a power is equal to the lowest mode score that you have learned that is relevant. For example:If you are trying to create a TK 4 PK 3 effect and you havelearned PK5 and TK 4, the maximum extra psi that you can invest is 4 -- your TK score.If your scores were TK 5, PK 3 then you could only invest 3 -- your PK score. Roll your Psi against a difficulty of (DIFF) the levels that you're short of the effect level. If this roll fails then STOP HERE but cross off 1 psi and any extra psi and willpower that you planned to spend (EXT) less 1.In other words a minimum of 1 psi point. If this roll succeeds then continue.Remember the number of extra successes that you achieve.Extra successes from psi roll = (SUX). For example:Bob is trying to pull off a level 3 effect.He only has level 1 in the relevant mode -- so he has a difficulty (DIFF) of 2.He rolls his 6 dice and gets 4 successes.This means that he succeeds and gets one extra success.(SUX) = 1. Now build the power : You have a base number of dots in each table that you need as follows: Your Mode ScoreBase Dots1 or 213 or 4253You can then distribute any extra successes from your roll (SUX) and any extra psi that you spent (EXT) as you wish.In other words you add these discretionary points to the base dots in the specific tables you need to build the power.If this is a mastered power then you have an additional 2 points to allocate as you wish.If you choose not to allocate some or all of your rolled successes then you may decrease the psi cost of the power by this amount (handled in step 7 below). Note: You may only decrease the cost of the effect if you have chosen not to spend any extra psi or willpower.This means that (EXT) = 0.In other words -- if you're planning on spending any extra psi then you have to spend all your parameter points. Have the target Roll Resistance if any.Remember the target only gets to resist if you're directly interfering with it's noetic field ( and it's alive of course ). Effects that use some other medium to do damage (or whatever) can't be resisted.Subtract this resistance from your result parameter. Pay the Piper.Cross off the number of psi points equal to the effect level (LVL) -- 1 plus the number of extra psi points and willpower you spent (EXT).If you didn't spend any extra points then you may decrease the number of psi points that you need to spend by the number of rolled successes (SUX) that you didn't spend. For example:Bob the clear uses a level 5 Psychometry power to determine if his own gun will ever be used on him.He has a psi of 6 and a psychometry score of 5.He decides not to pump any extra power into the effect.He rolls 6 successes (or 5 extra successes (SUX) = 5) of which he expends 4 to increase the number of days that he can look into the weapon's future.The final 1 success he uses to decrease the psi cost from 4 to 3.If the ST is handling the cost and he decides that the gun will be used on Bob tomorrow -- then the ST could decide to reduce the cost by 4 (or 3 or 2..) since the remaining points are sufficient to provide the answer. Note: If your psi pool becomes negative then take the difference (the amount that your pool is negative) as bashing damage and roll for backlash without soak. If you are still conscious, after taking the backlash -- then the effect works.If this takes you past unconsciousness then you can choose to have the effect succeed by expending a permanent psi point.Otherwise the effect fails. Effect has been created. Mastered EffectsMastered effects cost the mode's level in xp to learn.Effectively they give you +2 parameter points to place as you wish.Also -- a mastered effect will still succeed on a failed psi roll.A single 1 on a botched mastered effect just fails. PSI EnhancersThese add their rating to your extra successes -- but like mastered effects -- cannot be used to decrease the cost of the power.However, you might choose not to expend extra psi points on a power knowing that you're wearing an enhancer gauntlet. Impressive FeatsThese cost an additional willpower point.There is no other change. System TweaksTeleportation:Short (visual) range teleportation always uses the "instant" duration.Durations for long range teleportation must always be bought down separately with parameter points. The Tables:These don't quite match the core book. Range, Duration, and Target tables and most of the others are fine in the TPG are fine.However, the following tables needed to be tweaked a bit. DAMAGE TABLE DotsBashingLethal12-23-3414525Psi36Psi47Psi + extra SuxPsi8Psi + extra SuxPsi9Psi + extra Sux + 1/2 ppsPsi + extra Sux+1As abovePsi + extra Sux + 1/2 ppsNB: On this table -- if you buy a result of Psi + extra Sux -- then the target takes damage equal to your psi + the extra successes that you rolled -- regardless of whatever else you bought with those extra successes. MODIFIER TABLE: DotsDifficulty/Dice/Level Add1+12+23+34+45+5+1+1/2, round down CONTROL TABLE: DotsEffects1Minor (sneeze, dislike spiders)2Moderate (go home, plan your next vacation on Luna)3Major (protect me, I'll see you at my place at 8!)4Huge (kill your friends, see if you can get that marble out of the fusion drive while you fix it)5Epic (blow your own brains out, memorize that library)+1 per 2 pp spentOne additional level of control ExamplesAlex Cassel (PSI 10, 35 psi points.All Electrokinetic modes at 5) throws a laser beam at an irritating psion.This is a Photokinesis 3 effect.He decides to spend an extra 5 psi (his maximum) and a willpower point.He rolls 10 dice and gets 5 extra successes.The irritating psion is 2 meters from him.It's instant duration and there's only 1 guy.So as storyteller I can put all the extra successes into effect.The laser beam does a base 3 + 5 extra sux + 5 psi + 1 willpower = 14 damage effect -- which translates to PSI 10 + 5 successes + 2 (from the extra 5 points) = 17 lethal damage.Have a nice day Mr Irritating.That effect costs Mr Cassel 9 psi and 1 willpower. Another Orgotek employee, Simon King (Psi 8, 16 psi points Technokinesis 5), tries to microwave burst some git standing in front of him.He doesn't spend any extra psi or willpower.He rolls 2 extra successes and adds them to the damage effect.The damage effect becomes base 3 + 2 extra = 5 damage effect, which translates into 3 lethal levels.Fortunately the git is wearing bioweave and soaks those -- but takes the minimum of 1 lethal level.This costs Mr King 4 psi. Charles York (Norça agent, Psi 7, psychmorphing 4) loses his cool and uses catabolysis (Psychmorphing 5) on a neutral.He decides to spend 2 extra psi.This effect is 1 level higher than his mode rating so he rolls at +1 difficulty.He rolls 4 successes (2 extra successes) so he succeeds.His base score is 2 dots in all relevant tables and he adds 2 (SUX) and 2 (EXT) to the effect -- giving him an effect level of 6.The neutral rolls his 3 willpower as resistance and gets 1 success -- and screams horribly as charles does him a Level 5 lethal damage effect (3 lethal damage).This costs Charles 4 base + 2 = 6 psi points. Later, Charles (see above) is under pressure in a bar fight and needs to grow some armor.No problem.He decides not to add any psi (after all, he doesn't want so much chitin that it becomes obvious).It's a level 1 Transmogrify power.He has transmogrify 4.He rolls 5 successes -- magic.He decides to make it last for the rest of the scene (duration 5) of which he already has 2 (for knowing the mode at level 4).He thus adds 3 of his 4 extra successes to duration.His remaining success he adds to effect along with the 2 free points he gets from having it as a mastered power.This gives him an added soak ofbase 2 + 1 extra + 2 for mastered = 5 -- or at least it would do if it didn't state explicitly that the level one power can add no more than 3 soak.Bummer. On the up side, the power costs nothing. Elaine Winters (Psi 6, Psychbending 4, Mindshare 5) is a powerful 1st Legion Intelligence telepath.She is cornered by two men in an alley in Downside.They've got flechette guns. She uses "Demand" Psychbending 2 on the meaner looking one, saying "Shoot him!" and pointing to the less nasty looking one.She has Psychbending 4 and doesn't add any psi.She rolls 2 extra successes with her 6 psi dice.That means that (since target is 1 person and range is 3m and duration is instant) that I, as ST, add the remaining points to control.So control is base 2 + 2 sux = effect level 4.The guy rolls resistance.2 successes.The thug spends a willpower point and manages to fire into the wall.Elaine is in trouble.She is also 1 psi point down. The next round Elaine loses her cool seriously and decides to do some mental surgery on these two.She uses the network (Mindshare 5) power to cross-wire these two's brains.It's an impressive feat given that mindlink is normally voluntary.She decides to spend an additional 5 psi (her max -- since she has mindshare on 5).She rolls -- only 1 extra success.Again, number of targets (2) and Range (2m) is covered by the basic 2 parameter.Duration is 5 minutes at base 2.Elaine ups this to 3 (for 10 minutes duration). Finally she adds her 5 points (from spending extra psi) into the control effect, giving her a controlresult of 6 (2 base +5 psi = 6 result on my table) which these two resist).I allow them to combine their resistance -- since if one manages to break the contact the other will as well. Unfortunately only 1 of them manages to roll 2 successes, the other none.This brings the power down to Level 4.This is enough to turn them into a mess for the next 10 minutes-- or until each learns to control the other's actions-- This costs Elaine (4-1) +5 extra= 8 psi and 1 Willpower point for the impressive feat. Michael Wilkinson (TK 4, Psi 6) is training a Phoenix Squadron recruit (TK 2, Psi 4).He gets the recruit to throw a TK punch at him. The recruit adds 2 psi (he's trying to make an impression).The recruit then rolls 4 successes (3 extra) -- meaning he (the recruit) has base parameters of 1 and throws the rest into effect 1 + 2 psi + 3 six = 6 damage effect which means Michael must soak 4 bashing levels of damage.The recruit spent 3 psi for that effect.However -- Michael had beforehand created a sheath of force (TK 4).He had added 4 psi and rolled 3 extra sux.He wanted it to last for the entire training session -- so he pumped 3 extra points into duration (making it duration 5).The rest went into the Modifier Effect -- giving him a modified soak of base 2 + 3 psi = 5.5 more soak levels.The ruling is that the TK punch didn't touch Michael so he doesn't even take the normal minimum 1 level of damage.Michael spent 3+4 = 7 psi for the shield. Finally Charles York (the bio from above) needs more Soak.He goes for ultimate survivor effect (Adaptation 5) and pumps in 5 Psi points.Lets assume has Adaptation 5 and Psi 7.He rolls 3 extra successes.He's more concerned about soak than duration.He gets a base 3 + 5 psi + 3 extra successes = 11 result parameter.This gives him a +8 soak.It also costs him 9psi.If he had mastered the effect he could have made it to +9 soak-- maybe even +10 with bioware enhancement --be afraid. Michael Wilkinson (Psi 6, TK 4, PK 3) tries to save his friends from lethal atmosphere burn by slowing their decent after they plummeted from their falling space craft.He creates a telekinetic net of slowed movement (TK 3) over the 20m area in which his friends are scattered.They are already 30m from him in his locust as it is.This looks like a tough one --He decides to spend an additional 4 Psi and a WP point.He rolls 1 success (fairly typical for him) -- so no extra successes -- oh well -- he passed.He has a base of 2 in the relevant tables (for having PK 3) and needs Area 4, and Range 2.Fine that means 3 points left ( he spent 2 on area).He whacks one of those into duration to make it last for 10 minutes and spends the final 2 on Movement to slow their decent by a level 4 effect (Psi * 10 km/h or 60m per turn).This costs him 2 + 4 = 6 psi and 1 wp.As long as he's flying within 30m they should be fine. Alex (Psi 7, Transmassion 1) is a Clear with an auxiliary dot in Teleportation. He tries to zip a thug's gun out of his hand. He has mastered this effect. He decides not to spend any extra psi. Range is no problem since all Teleporter ranges are *10 and he is well within 70m of his target. Duration is instant. Target weighs less than 7kgs so a 1 on the weight table is also fine. He rolls 2 extra successes which he adds to Utility. Unfortunately since this is within his opponent's noetic field, the opponent resists -- rolling 4 successes -- which buys it down to 1 success -- insufficient for a teleport. Light flickers around the gun and the opponent almost drops it -- but catches it again. If Alex had spent a psi point he could be holding the thing right now instead of being shot at.
  15. J'aime Paris! It's the least offensive French I know, honest. But I am excited about the City of Lights! Why? It's time for the third annual Silver Ribbon Fashion Show in Paris, France! This years' celebrity models include such nova notables as Patrice Dubois, Cherilynn Redd, Marco, and the gender-flexible Amorré. Once again, the show will feature Buendia originals that will be sure to turn the fashion industry on its ear. Your very own Quantum Tipster will be on hand to cover the event for N!Prime. And, if you've got the 5,000 Euro suggested donation, I'll see you there! All proceeds go to fund the Silver Ribbon campaign. ...Speaking of which, October is Silver Ribbon Month. A schedule of activities is available at any Rashoud Clinic or at the Silver Ribbon Homepage. Highlights include a concert by novox goddess, Alejandra, and a book signing at Reston's Books by Nance Lawry (who founded the Silver Ribbon organization when her son, Troy, was killed by a mob when he erupted in a Memphis bus depot). The Q-Gang reports that Nova restaurateur Morty Cheval has closed the deal on plans for a second SuperNova Deli. Rumor has it that the citizens of Sydney, Australia will be the next to welcome this burgeoning franchise to their hometown. One of my reliable insiders says, "Don't look for a rehash (no pun) of the same SND menu. Morty is a culinary artiste. His ideas are endless, and frankly, each one is pure gold." Folks, I've tasted what this man can do with a turkey club. Put down your Vegemite, mate, Morty's coming to town... If you haven't been to Milwaukee recently, it's time to visit. Nova sculptor "Zane" returned to his hometown earlier this summer to begin work on a 100m long water sculpture. The piece, titled "Musique sur le lac ," was commissioned for the Summerfest music festival held annually on the shore of Lake Michigan. The piece is made of "sculpted water" (too amazing to explain..go and see it!). Originally scheduled to be dismantled on the 21st of September, Zane offered to keep the sculpture up for two more weeks as a tribute to his grandmother Elsa. Have the down-n-dirty on the Nova Scene? Be a part of the N-Spy network and send your hot tips to novascene@nprime.net. All submissions become the exclusive property of NovaScene and N! Prime.
  16. <font size="4">Nova Terrorists Attack Rashoud Facility</font> by Christopher Anderson N! Prime Staff Writer The newly appeared nova terrorist faction which has adopted that popular anti-nova epithet "Aberrants" has struck once again. This time the attack was centered on a Rashoud Facility in the south of France. It was a well timed and systematic strike perpetrated by five novas. They teleported in the Rashoud Facility, three equipped with automatic shotguns and the other two equipped with frightening quantum powers. The moment they appeared every exit was immediately welded shut via quantum a quantum power, and everyone in the reception area was immediately murdered. Video feeds from security cameras, before they were short circuited by one of the Novas who possessed the ability to control electricity, showed that the novas moved as a group throughout the facility, murdering baselines and novas alike. Among the victims whose names have been released are the baselines Kathy Larsen, Josh Young, Julia Parker, Rachel Tarell and the novas Tyson Myers, Ray Woods, "Silver Blast," and "Fairy Fire." In addition to the victims listed here another 23 are reported as dead and five others in critical condition. If it hadn't been for the quick response of Team Tomorrow the situation could have been far worse. One of the terrorists, a nova known as Tiberius Lucan, was captured by T2M, and has been taken to the Bahrain Facility for questioning.
  17. <font size="4">BBCO News at 6</font> "Good evening from the BBCO." BBCO News at 6 "Good evening from the BBCO. In other Nova news today, The solicitors McKenzie-Brachman-Chaney came under fire again. The firm, already under fire for being the first British Nova-led legal firm, has outraged members of the pro-environmental group CHANCE - not to mention members of the anti-smoking lobby. The firm are being voraciously criticised for their decision to represent John 'Silk Cut' Higgins, already infamous himself for publicly endorsing the cigarette brand he takes his media name from. CHANCE have spoken out against Higgins ever since he began endorsing smoking, claiming that, while the habit may not have such a serious effect on Nova anatomy, there is still the issue of promoting a something as contentious as smoking. Higgins himself has famously rebuffed such claims with the response that 'cancer has been cured thanks to us, so what's your problem?'. The high court have agreed to uphold CHANCE's attempt to prosecute Higgins and Silk Cut as a test case. However many pro-Nova supporters believe this is to be fuel for groups such as Teragen. Prime Minister Prescott was unavailable for comment; currently in China. And finally the sport..."
  18. <h1 align="center">Breakdown - Theory and Practice</h1> <h2><a href="mailto:seanriley@iname.com">Written by Sean Riley</a></h2><hr> First fact: Everything breaks down. Second Fact: When something breaks down, it is replaced by something superior to it. This is the law of evolution. Third Fact: I am breaking down. <hr width="50%" align="center"> Daniel swung away from the computer, rubbing his eyes as gently as he could. They hurt now. Hurt every time something touched them. His fingers, water, hell.. air, all of it stung and made his concentration that much more difficult. But the cure is the disease, isn't it always? 'Concentrate hard enough, and you can blot it out', he thought. One tiny little rub again, to take the weariness out of his eyes, and he lay his head on his pillow that was constantly available on the desk for him. His eyes hurt, his neck hurt. Ever since his head had gotten bigger, his neck had just been unable to cope with the change. He understood the logic, hell, he didn't need some high and mighty Utopia (Now THERE'S the height of arrogance. Calling yourselves after an impossible goal. Everything. Breaks. Down. Including social situations. Give the Utopia movement another 50 years, and a combination of the ridiculously presumptuous Terregen, that new Abberant movement, and probably some religious movement or other cause Religion always fucks up good stuff; and Utopia will be through.) scientists telling him what the problem was. He knew it full well, the Node expands and spreads its influence throughout the surrounding areas. It develops the brain, which initially gains in efficiciency from 2% to 6% to 18% to 54%. But then the great stuff happens. The brain keeps trying to get 3 times more powerful, and ends up without enough brain to be efficicent with. So it starts making.. more. More brain, more skull to hold it in.. but just not enough neck muscles to keep it up. 'I'm a machine to think', he thought, 'But not to live'. Finally, his stomache hurt. His eyes hurt, his neck hurt, his stomache hurt. He'd developped a serious addiction to caffeine. A serious addiction. Last week he'd managed to put away 151 cups of coffee. Since he slept 21 hours a week (3 hours a day) that's exactly 4 more cups than hours he spent awake. Two weeks before, he'd had 140. Two weeks before that, less than 131. The curve kept growing, much like the wretched ache in his stomache. Holding his head to help pull it up, his walked to the cupboard, hearing the creak of the oil starved jointed like a wrenching through his body. Sympathy pains, he thought, bemusedly, but the amusement faded. No coffee. That would mean a trip to the supermarket. Joy. <hr width="50%" align="center"> First fact: Everything breaks down. Second Fact: When something breaks down, it is replaced by something superior to it. This is the law of evolution. Third Fact: I am breaking down. <hr width="50%" align="center"> The street was filled with sterile, unfeeling and false niceness. Utopia had created the perfect streets, trashless and totally devoid of any glitches that might make it interesting. If it hadn't been night, the perfectly monitored weather control probably would have had the sun shining and the temperature at a perfect 72 degrees. The people were equally devoid, he thought with a mental sneer as he walked down toward the supermarket. They'd been slammed with so much Novastar bullshit that they now lived their lives for the Gods on earth. Dammit, they'd done a poll on N! just two weeks ago, and the Baseline twits had all voted, overwhelmingly, that their favorite Nova was Divis Mal. A Nova who is most well known for a bit of paper equating the whole of them to Baboons shitting in the wild jungle, and they worshipped him. A Nova who paved the way for dozens of Gods of Death to their kind, and they worshipped him, and the Death Gods too. Braindead morons. Utopia should pay me just for existing, he thought. Because at least I can do something Caestus Pax can't: Inspire them to think differently for a few brief seconds. To force them to at least hate him. The stares started soon enough. They never stared at his head, the most obvious sign of his Novahood, either he noticed. They looked at him. They just seemed to know. Just by looking at Slider, they could tell she was a Nova, he supposed, although he never could. Now, of course, they could look at her and tell that she was dead. So much for their precious immortal, invulnerable Gods. Finally, one broke out, speaking his mind and yelling "Fuckin' Aberrant!" Good! Daniel thought. It's the first time in three weeks someone's had the guts. There might be hope for one of the few in their after all. But the word stung. He couldn't help it. Past all the ideolgical bullshit, hate hurts. And he swung around, casting a ferocious and fierce gaze at the outspoken one. The loudmouth stopped, mid-obscenity, and slowly turned and quickly ran away. Suddenly, the streets were empty. Daniel got his coffee and went home. <hr width="50%" align="center"> First fact: Everything breaks down. Second Fact: When something breaks down, it is replaced by something superior to it. This is the law of evolution. Third Fact: I am breaking down. <hr width="50%" align="center"> Daniel continued to walk up the stairs to his shoebox appartment. The mould continued its campaign of conquest upon his door, and he pulled out his keycard. One corner had chipped, and the damned thing wouldn't go in. Cursing, Daniel banged on the card and finally, the green light flashed. Daniel snarled, pulled out the accursed card and went in. Daniel had just turned back, when he saw the man sitting in his computer chair. Daniels face twisted into a snarl and he yelled, "Who the fuck are you?" The man stood up, straight and tall. He was an immaculately kept man in a well cut EuMarni suit. He had a strong, hard jaw and very small, deep set eyes. His blond, spikey hair offset the traditional look and forced those looking at him to decide between respectable European buisnessman or simple Eurotrash. Daniel chose neither for the moment and waited for the man to speak, which only happened after a very long pause. "Greetings, Mr. Levinos. My name is Eric Wittgen. I've heard much abo.." Daniel cut off Eric with a scowled response, "So how'd a euro shitheels like you get into my appartment? This is tresspassing, asshole." Eric endured the tirade, and then waited, patiently, for Daniel to calm down. It happened slowly, as Daniels eyes flicked tot he still turned on television. The inanity of a childrens television show somehow calmed him. The whole situation, his own inflamatory language, the eurotrashes solemn demanour, and the inanity of the corporate stupidity putting him back in his own element. Once it was clear Daniel was actually ready to listen, Eric began speaking, "I've heard much about you and your talents, gifted even among us. I entered under the door. As for trespassing, I don't believe in those kind of laws anymore." He smiled, and that was the first truly unwholesome thing this guy showed. He had a rotten smile. Daniel threw his hands up. "Oh, wonderful. Hello, Mr. Terragen. Here to tear my head off cause you got no social skills? Here to lecture me and compare the humans to rabid dogs on your little power trip?" He looked back, disdainfully. The Terragen were, ultimately, just as bad as Utopia. Idealists with no idea about where they wanted the ideal to go. The european lifted an eyebrow, "Mr. Levinos, a power trip is only a problem if the power isn't really there." "Fuck off." Daniel shot back. He didn't have time for this. What he needed was coffee. A mug of it. He grabbed the instant and started scooping in three teaspoons. "What do these people have to offer you?" Eric continued. "They are not your kind.." "Is this a recruitment drive or something?" Again, Daniel cut him off. Eric nodded. "Exactly that. What can they offer you? They show you only hatred and fear. Utopia offers you a pathetically false 'love'. We offer respect. No-one else will do that. We respect your power. We understand your genius. We offer respect." "Well, count me not fuckin' interested. If I needed to have other peoples opinions justify my work - " Daniel cut off as he saw the brief flashing lights hit the front of his eyes. White, pink and aqua lines flicked toward the center of his vision, and he whispered below his breath, "Not again." "Mr. Levinos, are you alright?" Daniel gave him the finger, and clutched his head on the ground. No drugs could help him with these. Any other humans body would have responded to the anasthetics, taking the edge off the headaches, but Eric's nova body filtered them out all too efficiently. Suddenly the migraine hit like a ton of rocks, smashing into his right temple. Daniel winced, and bashed his head against the cupboard door, trying to dislodge the pain, but it did no such thing. Eric yelled, only making the headache worse, "Mr Levinos!" Again, Daniel smashed his head against the wall. "Mr. Levinos!" Once again, Daniel smashed his head against the wall, "Mr. Levinos!" And again, Daniel smashed... Blackness. Pain. An overwhelming combination. "Mr. Levinos!" Eric shook Daniels shoulders, and Daniel weakly put his arms up, attempting to resist. "Are you alright?" "No." Daniel replied, and began to think seriously about what Eric had said. What else could he do? There was nothing here. Continual work on the stock market that could only end up getting him money, which he wasn't interested in. Walking down and back to the supermarket, enduring the hateful and jealous gazes of those lesser than him. Eric offered a chance to maybe escape that. Daniel didn't care about the respect. He had enough in himself. But he offered escape and that, not respect, was why Daniel nodded his agreement with the Terragens philosophy and brotherhood. Or so he told himself. <hr width="50%" align="center"> First fact: Everything breaks down. Second Fact: When something breaks down, it is replaced by something superior to it. This is the law of evolution. Third Fact: I am breaking down.
  19. Freeform Psi ala Nikolaj By Nikolaj Lemche The Freeform psi system in the TPG is cool. The idea that a psion can create his own effects, and the huge amounts of ideas and creativity invested in the power descriptions is wonderful. But there's one problem with the freeform system: It no longer feels to me like Trinity psi because of the way psi effects are handled in the system. In the core book system your ability as a psion is based on your psi power (the psiattribute) and how well you have mastered your powers (your modes). And the effectiveness of most of your powers increases when you increase your learning. When you perform a psi action then the basic ability is determined by the mode you use and the power of your action is determined by the successes you achieve on the psi roll. It is a simple and clear system. In the TPG your psi roll is almost always eaten away by the successes required to activate a psi effect and it is the power you invest in the psi effect that is the factor that determines the effect of your psi action. At the same time your learned abilities does not get better when your mode learning increases, and you can even get around the need to learn modes if you have psi points enough to spare. So the only thing you need in the TPG system is psi point. The system works, but it is simply not Trinity psi. What I try to achieve with this variant of the freeform system is a way of preserving the values of the core book system as much as possible, while still being able to use the great parts of the TPG system.What you can and can't doIn my freeform system you can combine the modes you have learned freely (except for the auxiliary modes). It is always the highest mode used that determines the mode level of the effect. But you can never perform an effect that requires a mode level that you have not learned. So the entire table on p.163 of the TPG becomes irrelevant. Activating a psi effectIf you have the modes required to perform a psi effect, then you only need one success to activate the psi effect and if you roll more than one success then the rest goes to boost the parameters of the effect. You must pay an initial psi cost to activate the effect. This initial psi cost is based on the highest mode level used in the effect. Mode level Initial psi cost 1 0 2, 3 1 4 2 5 3 You can also boost the psi effect by powering it with additional psi points, but this must be done before you roll your psi dice. They give you one additional success on the effect per psi point spent if your psi roll were successful, if the psi roll were a failure then you have lost the psi points used to boost the effect! If the target can resist the effect then he, she or it rolls the resistance roll. This can either reduce the number of successes to zero and the effect is a failure. Or it can reduce the effectiveness of the psi effect so that it don't work quite as well as the psion had wanted it to. Defining a psi effectThe parameter table system is still used (but some of the tables are changed to makethem more like the core book psi). Each psi effect needs a target, duration,range and result. All the parameters in a psi effect has an initial rating based on the numbers of dots apsion has in the mode he's best at, among those there's used in the effect. Mode dots Initial parameter rating 1, 2 1 3, 4 2 5 3 If a psion tries an effect where he has learned the mode to level 3 then all theparameters in the effect start at level 2. Handling a psi effectWhen the player announces his intended psi effect and tell the storyteller how many successes he achieves, then it is up to the storyteller to see if it works. First he has to adjust the first three parameters (target, duration and range) until they all are good enough to allow the effect to take place. In most cases the initial parameter ratings already cover one or more of them. For those that aren't good enough the storyteller assigns successes until they have the parameter rating needed. The rest of the successes can be used to boost the result parameter to get as much bang for the buck as possible. If there are too many successes for a desired result then the storyteller can use them to make the result more spectacular or give additional results, as long as it serves the story. If there aren't enough successes to make the psi effect work, then it is too bad. An effect takes place but it is not quite what the psion wanted it to be. This way of creating the technical side of the psi effect ensures that the player doesn't need to worry about the technical stuff. The storyteller can make it fit his story. And best of all, none of the partners need to communicate a lot of technical stuff across the playing table. Example:A psychokinetic has psi 5 and pyrokinesis 3. The storyteller tells him that 30-40 meters away there are some people shooting in his general direction from a garage. He tells the storyteller that he wants to heat the air inside the garage so the people in there can't breathe or stand the heat (meaning that they have to make a resistance roll to stay inside in cover). This is a mode 2 effect, so he has to pay 1 initial psi point to activate it. He also decides to boost the effect with an additional psi point. He then rolls his psi and ends up with an average 2 success. He tells his storyteller that he has 3 successes (or more important 2 extra successes). Because he affects the air inside and not the people then they cannot resist the effect. The psych has mode 3 in pyrokinesis so he starts at with a rating 2 on all the parameter tables. This is good enough for the target (area), but not the range and the storyteller uses 1 success to make the effect reach the garage. The duration is also covered by the initial parameters so the last success is used to boost the result. This means that the psych ends up with an result parameter rating of 3 on the modifier result. The result is that, for the duration of the effect, the people inside need to make a resistance roll at +3 difficulty to stay inside. Extra rulesThere are a few additional rules that need to be covered. Psi enhancers are very powerful. In the core book the give you +2 dice to your psi roll and they affect the range, duration and area of effect of your psi effects as if you has +2 mode level. So in my freeform system, they add +2 to your psi roll and +1 parameter level to duration, range and target. Mastered effects cost 3 experience or 2 bonus points. They give you +2 successes on a psi effect if your psi roll is successful. Impressive feats cost you 1 willpower point but are otherwise handled just like any other psi effect. Reduced psi cost is a way to conserve your psi points if you are running low. You can reduce the initial psi cost at +1 difficulty per –1 pts. Psi points cannot boost such an effect (and that would be stupid anyway because a psi point used to boost an effect is effectively the same as reducing the difficulty by one). Invested psi is still possible, but only for certain effects. 1 psi point invested in an effect ensures that it continues, but that psi point cannot be regained until the psi effect stops. This must be declared when the psi effect is created, and this psi point must be paid in addition to the usual psi cost of an effect. Max psi: If the extra psi pool option from p.152 of the TPG is used, then I suggest that the max number of psi points a psion can invest in a single effect is equal to his psi score. The parameter tablesAll these parameter tables can be downloaded as a single page in PDF format. TargetThis table is used to find out how high a rating is needed to be able to affect thetarget(s) of an effect. Mass is used for effects that needs to define how much mass it can affect. Thistable is not used by telekinesis; a TK generates a telekinetic strength instead, that isthen used just like normal strength. Subject this table is used if you need to affect more than one person with aneffect. Area this table is used when you want to affect anything within an area. Therange of a psi effect is always to the center of the area and the area number in thistable is the radius not the diameter as in the TPG. Rating Mass Subject Area 1 Psi x 1 kg 1 1 meter 2 Psi x 10 kg 2 Psi x ‡ meters 3 Psi x 25 kg 3 Psi x 1 meters 4 Psi x 50 kg 5 Psi x 3 meters 5 Psi x 150 kg 7 Psi x 5 meters +1 +Psi x 50 kg +2 +Psi x 5 meters DurationThis parameter table has been changed. The normal duration has been modified and therehas been added a long time duration table. Psi effects can have 4 kinds of duration: Instant effects last for 1 turn, normal duration follows the normal table, reactive follows the normal table but only takes effect if a condition is fulfilled within the duration, and then there's the long duration, which is used to determine how long it takes for a precision effect to work. The long duration works in reverse. The better the rating the shorter time it takes to make the psi survey, locate a person with telepathy or to transfer through subspace during a teleport. Rating Normal Long 1 3 turns 1 month 2 1 min 1 week 3 5 min 1 day 4 30 min 1 hour 5 1 scene 10 min +1 +1 scene X0.5 time RangeThere's still short and long range. It works exactly like in the TPG. Remember that telepathy, clairsentience and teleportation effects that uses this range table instead of the precision table does not need to worry about long time duration. Rating Short range Long range 1 1 meter Psi x 1 meters 2 2 meters Psi x 5 meters 3 3 meters Psi x 10 meters 4 5 meters Psi x 20 meters 5 7 meters Psi x 30 meters +1 +2 meters +Psi x 10 meters Result tablesMost effects only need one result table to work out its effectiveness, but some needs 2 or 3. It is more or less up to the storyteller to determine which one there's used, if more than one is used and how to distribute the extra successes (if any). Damage result Damage has been changed a lot. In the core book all psi damage (except for a few mode 5 effects) are damage dice and not damage levels as in the TPG. But I prefer the core books way of doing it, so the damage table shows how many dice of damage, an effect causes. Rating Bashing Lethal 1 Psi – 1 d10B Psi – 4 d10L 2 Psi d10B Psi – 3 d10L 3 Psi + 1 d10B Psi – 2 d10L 4 Psi + 2 d10B Psi – 1 d10L 5 Psi + 3 d10B Psi d10L +1 +1 d10B +1 d10L Telekinesis uses the bashing damage table to determine its telekinetic strength. Might is still added to find a might total. Some mode 5 effects does lethal damage levels instead of dice. In that case use the lethal damage effect, but count the damage as wounds, not dice. Modifier resultThis table is used in any situation where the psi effect changes the situation in away that needs a game effect. Or in other words: If in doubt use the modifier resultparameter. The rule of successes on a single ability or extra dice on broader traits iskept. Rating Bonus Difficulty 1 +1 dice or success +1 2 +2 dice or successes +2 3 +3 dice or successes +3 4 +4 dice or successes +4 5 +5 dice or successes +5 +1 +1 dice or success +1 Communication resultNothing has been changed with this result parameter. Rating Communication possibilities1 A handful of words (yes, no simple signals)2 Basic concepts3 General speech or specific-subject technicallanguage4 Workable language5 Surpassing normal speech; intuitive understanding +1 Increasing nuances and efficiency of communication Control resultIt might look like that the control result has been changed Because the target rollshis resistance roll at the beginning of an effect, but considering that extra successes isadded to the result parameter last, then the effect is exactly the same. Rating Degree of control1 Subconscious (you forget the name of someoneyou just met; sneeze)2 Minor (you remember seeing someone other thanwho was actually there; face the other direction)3 Major (you now consider a sworn enemy a closefriend; put away your pistol)4 Severe/Complex (you forget your nativelanguage; climb up that ladder and put on a vac suit)5 Epic (you assume an entirely new personality;reprogram that computer and attack anyone who enters the room)+1 An additional degree of complexity Disability resultThis result parameter works exactly like it does in the TPG. But vitakinesis healing also use this table now instead of the damage table, where it uses the minor table for bashing damage and the severe table for lethal damage. Rating Minor Severe 1 2 levels n / a 2 3 levels n / a 3 4 levels 1 level 4 5 levels 2 levels 5 6 levels 3 levels +1 +1 level +1 level Movement resultThis table also includes modification to existing movement now. Moving on verticalsurfaces gives –1 rating, flying or moving through water –2 ratings andburrowing –3 ratings. This doesn't apply to cases where the psion changes thevelocity of an object there's already moving using one of these modes. Rating Velocity1 +/- psi x 0.5 km /h2 +/- psi x 3 km /h3 +/- psi x 5 km /h4 +/- psi x 10 km /h5 +/- psi x 15 km /h+1 Adds +/- psi x 5 km /h Precision resultHigh level telepathy, clairsentience and teleportation effects use this type of result, when the familiarity with the subject is the issue instead of range. These kinds of psi can connect to a subject through identification through the noetic medium where distance is meaningless. But this takes time. A clair can use weeks to locate psi coordinates, a teleporter can be out of real space for days before reemerging into normal space and a telepath can meditate for hours or days before recognizing the noetic signature of a mind. Precision results uses the long duration table to find out how long it takes to complete the psi effect. The precision result table has two uses. First is show how many precision ranks you need to have to be able to make contact with a subject based on how well you know it. If the psion don't generate enough successes to make a connection then the precision rank he does have show the chance to make contact anyway. A dice roll is given to show how to handle the percentage where you need 1 success to make contact. Rating Accuracy Familiarity 1 15% (2d10 +1 diff.)"Known" (one year constant contact)2 40% (1d10)"Familiar" (6 months constantcontact, good friend)3 60% (2d10)"Acquaintance" (3 months contact,psi print, current associate) 4 80% (3d10)"Remembered" (1 week contact,long-ago mentor)5 95% (6d10)"Named" (evocative memory, itemthere's one of a kind)+1 +1d10 on rollNot possible The noetic medium is full of currents and disturbances that can make it difficult to make contact with a place using this method. Look in Luna Rising to get ideas about how to handle this, but the result is that the storyteller can always make these powers' usefulness fit the plot by changing the difficulty. Most of the psi effects that use this method can also be done by using the simple long-range parameter table. This means that a teleporter don't have to use a precision (and long time duration) result if he can se where he's going and it is within a normal long-range distance. Sensory resultThis result parameter works just like it does in the TPG. Rating Sense detail1 General data ("four blobs here and anopening there") 2 Basic information ("those two are humansand those two rocks")3 Standard detail (distinguish between detail,sense distances)4 Subjective or abstract information (danger,"the way to Tokyo")5 Highly accurate information (detaileddescriptions of individuals, determine spatial dimensions to the centimeter)+1 Unique or highly specific details Survival resultThis result parameter works a little differently than the others. Instead of a table then the result rating is compared to the dangers. If it is equal to or greater than the dangers toxic or damage level, then it allows the psion to ignore the danger. If the result rating is less than the dangers rating or damage, then it acts as extra soak against the danger. Utility resultThis result parameter is used for purely subjective interpretation of the usefulness of a psi effect. When it is used as a tool then use the tool table, otherwise use the application table. Rating Tool Application 1 Semi-functional Pitiful 2 Working approximation Sub-standard 3 Quality substitute Fitting for the mode used 4 Exceptional equivalent Exceptional 5 Superior Superb +1 Increasedfinesse
  20. Another alternate take on the parameter charts from the Trinity Player's Guide's optional freeform psi system, by Rich Menzi. <A HREF="http://www.nprime.net/aeonsociety/trinity/storytelling/parameter-alt.pdf">R. Menzi's optional parameter charts</A> <A HREF="http://www.nprime.net/aeonsociety/trinity/storytelling/parameter-official.pdf">White Wolf's official parameter charts</A>
  21. <font size="4">N! Prime Interview: Geoffrey Bain</font> by Lisa Hammerstein N! Prime: Good evening, Mr. Bain. I'm glad you could join us today. Geoffrey Bain: <font color="#0000CC">(Nods)</font> <table width="55%" border="1" align="left" bordercolor="#000000" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" bordercolorlight="#CCCCCC" vspace="8"><tr bgcolor="#CCCCCC"> <td><font size="4">The Teragen does not forsake humanity... it just disagrees with the view of unity homo sapiens sapiens and homo sapiens novus.</font></td></tr></table> N! Prime: Earlier this year you retired from Team Tomorrow, giving no reasons for your leaving, and have subsequently joined the Teragen. What lead up to these events? GB: Its a simple matter of a change of opinion. When I first erupted, I thought that Project Utopia and Team Tomorrow offered the most promising view for the future. However, over recent years--mostly from 2007--I have seen Project Utopia and Team Tomorrow overrun by conspiracies and secret agendas, making it-- N! Prime: Now... excuse me from interrupting here... but... secret agendas? What do you mean by that? GB: I simply mean that I believe that... somewhere along the road, Project Utopia has lost sight of humanity's best interests. N! Prime: But isn't it true that the Teragen have forsakes humanity all together? GB: No, no, no... the Teragen does not forsake humanity... it just disagrees with the view of unity between homo sapiens sapiens and homo sapiens novus. Just because that is the prime belief doesn't mean we cannot, overall, aid humanity. Team Tomorrow, on the other hand, has become riddled with infighting and overpowered by Red Tape. N! Prime: Isn't it true that you have a brother on Team Tomorrow? GB:<font color="#0000CC">(adjusts sunglasses)</font> Ahh, yes... the elusive Joshua Bain, <font color="#0000CC">(sighs and chuckles)</font>, I tried to convince him when I left Team Tomorrow earlier this year, but he just doesn't see it. Unfortunate that he's obstructed by the original charter from what they've really become. I guess he believes all the media-hype that's on the OpNet. N! Prime: What do you have to say about that numerous accusations of terrorism against the Teragen? GB: I'm not at liberty to talk about that. N! Prime: Why not? GB: I won't discuss this... N! Prime: Please, Mr. Bain, if we could just... GB: NO! I will not discuss it!" <font color="#0000CC">(fires bolt of Quantum Flame at the camera) </font>
  22. <font size="4">Feds Weigh Tighter Rules for Nova Investors</font> by Robert Blackwood N! Prime Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- The federal agency that oversees the U.S. stock and bond markets is expected, at its monthly meeting today, to consider new restrictions intended to prevent novas from manipulating the markets. The unprecedented action is being considered by the Securities and Exchange Commission in response to the market gyrations caused by the hiring in February of Timoteo J. Spolato, a Nova financial genius, as a fund manager by Fidelity investiments, Inc. Since Spolato inaugurated the Fidelity Nova Fund I in April, it has experienced a share value growth more than 12 times the growth rate of the Standard & Poors 500 Market Index, and has already amassed a net market capitalization of $98 billion dollars. Though the phenomenal growth of the Nova Fund has been ascribed to Spolato's use of prescient powers to predict shifts in stock values, SEC chairman Anthony Coulter Jr. said that without further investigation, the commission cannot rule out the possibility of market manipulation. "Mr. Spolato's mere presence in the market causes an immense ripple effect," Coulter said. "Any stock he is even rumored to be investigating, much less buying, immediately sees a huge jump in price, because so many other large investors want to ride on the Nova Fund's coattails." Coulter added that while Spolato was not personally suspected of stock manipulation, other investors could easily drive up or down a stock's value by planting rumors of Spolato's interest. "We are not saying by any stretch of the imagination that Mr. Spolato, or any other Nova, can't be trusted to act responsibly and legally in the market," Coulter said. The backlash of a Nova-driven trade, though unintentional, can be far-reaching. The SEC's discussions come in the wake of the stunning three-day collapse of Borealis Technologies, a formerly 100-billion-dollar military technology firm. When word leaked out August 5 that Spolato's fund was short-selling Borealis, the stock -- which began trading that day at 46.125 points -- lost 23 percent of its value in the space of three hours, falling to 35, before market officials froze trading. When trading resumed the next day, the stock plummeted another 8.5 points to 26.5 in just under an hour, when trading was suspended again. After trading closed for the day August 6, Project Utopia announced that it had informed Borealis that morning that its research was in violation of Utopian technology guidelines. The company declared its intention to file for bankruptcy protection the following day. Though it is not clear what kind of regulations could prevent such devastating ripple effects, suggestions advocated by noted economists range from completely banning Nova investment in securities markets -- which could conflict with Novas' Zurich Accord protections -- to a board that would monitor Nova transactions and impose an automatic 24- to 72-hour "cooling off" trading freeze when prices fluctuate too much. Most experts consulted, though, expect the SEC to suggest a restriction on Novas owning stock in companies they endorse, as well as a "double-blind" trading system that would allow individual Novas and Nova-administered funds to invest in the markets anonymously. Some of those economists do not expect the SEC's action to have much effect, though. "(A double-blind system) may prevent the coattail-effect Tony Coulter says he's worried about, but it won't do a thing about a Nova who actually intends to manipulate prices," said Harvard economics dean emeritus Rachel Sheinblum. "Most Novas already invest anonymously, anyway, through foundations, trusts, agents, or the like. And if that's the case, how will the SEC even know when one is taking advantage of a conflict of interest?" Though he declined to be interviewed, Spolato released a statement that read, in part, "Every transaction that I have conducted, directed, authorized or otherwise been involved in during my tenure as manager of Fidelity Nova Fund I has been conducted in full compliance with all federal and international securities trading regulations. Any stock price fluctuations that occur following these transactions are as much due to normal market forces I have predicted, as they are to any bandwagon effect." The Economics Ministry of the European Commonwealth has reportedly been considering similar regulations for the past year and a half, but no such action has been formally proposed. The SEC is said to have contracted with the DeVries Agency to provide Nova security for the meeting, to prevent the possibility of a terrorist attack like the one that killed Tampa mayor Frederick Rupert on June 6.
  23. <font size="4">BBCO News at 6</font> <font size="4">Talk Show hostess in hot water </font> "Good evening from the BBCO." In other Nova news today, controversial talkshow hostess Vanessa Feltz has once again been the focus for media attention. Ms Feltz, 44, was criticised by the Broadcasting standards commission for her program in which potential nova's where provoked in the hope of causing an eruption. Teragen spokesman Dr Liam Paisley has called for the immediate removal of Miss Feltz by her employers here at the BBCO. This is a view shared also by Project Utopia who said, in a prepared statement earlier today (cut to a spokesman framed by flashing cameras, outside T2M European HQ): "We find ourselves grossly offended and deeply concerned over the actions of Miss Feltz and her team. Her actions, in the name of television ratings, could have been catastrophic for those potentials - and we believe that at least one of her guests were genuine - who had actually Erupted during the broadcast. This is nothing more than a sick attempt at sleazy journalism and media titillation. Project Utopia as a whole would like to express its extreme disappointment in the BBCO and are looking at the possibility of legal action." A press conference has been prepared by the BBCO who have refused to comment so far, although the show's producer has already resigned. Insiders at the BBC), and the 'Vanessa' show have hinted that the future looks bleak for Ms Feltz. Media expert Dr Whitehouse had this to say top our reporter: "I think, in this modern age, that this was inevitable. But I must say that Vanessa, whom I've known for twenty years, has behaved in a most crass and unprofessional fashion. If indeed the rumours are true, then her career is finished."
  24. Transcription of meeting between N! Prime Executive Director Collins and subordinates; dated 8/21/08 <font color="#FF0000">Enter Collins; already seated are Programming Manager Daniels, Special Events Coordinator Chian, Manager of Personnel Sainz, and Legal Advisor MacHatten </font> Collins: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I hope you won’t mind if we skip the pleasantries, and get straight to business. What is the status of your projects? Daniels: The replacement for Mind Eruption is ready. We’re currently calling it Nova Flares, though the title might change. We’re sure this will go over better than Eruption. Chian: I knew M.E. wouldn't fly. A trivia game for Nova's is just stupid. All it takes is one with enhanced reflexes and an eidetic memory and it’s all over. Daniels: Odd, I don't remember you saying anything when it was first brought up. Collins: That's enough. Ok Daniels, what is Nova Flares? Daniels: Basically, it's a blooper show, like the one’s they had in the 90's, but with Nova's. Chian: So basically, you’re going to follow Shard around with a camera, huh? Daniels: Not exactly. We were planning on using old unaired footage, both from our own vaults and purchased from other companies, in addition to new tapings. Chian: So Shard. Daniels: Well ... yeah, pretty much. I mean, for God's sake, he's still wearing the cape! Sainz: What, even after the Mechanus incident? Daniels: Yep. Sainz: Geez. Collins: Ok, so we tape the Nova's acting stupid. Is that going to be a problem? MacHatten: I don’t believe there’s any issues of legality, as long as we don’t break any of the Privacy Acts. Sainz: We'll have to use one of the Nova cameramen. Our normal ones are already getting paid an arm and a leg to film the Nova's who don't mind being taped, no way could we get some norm to risk themselves for this. Collins: Great, get it together. Now, how is the spokesman search going? MacHatten: We finally got the name situation worked out. Apparently, one of ViaSoft's purchases included the Nintendo Corporation, which had the trademark on the name for some cartoon in the late 80's. They sold it to us for twenty grand and increased commercial time. Collins: So Captain N! is a go. How about the actual Nova? Sainz: Mrs. Chian and I believe we should take the top ten applicants and do a one or two hour long special on them, after which we let the viewers vote for their favorite on the OpNet. The top two will then fight each other on XWF. Last one standing is the new Captain N!. Chian: We think it'll be a great ratings boost. Collins: Anything else? Sainz: Well, we also think Captain N! should have a sidekick. Daniels: What, like some teenager or something? Chian: No. Our polls show that most people find the old guy teamed up with some prepubescent teen thing to be, well, weird. So we were thinking about a dog or monkey. Daniels: Geez, and you called my idea stupid. Chian: Let me finish. We were planning on making it genetically enhanced. We've already got the geneticist lined up. Collins: Who? Sainz: Um ... Dr. Franklin N. Pratt. <font color="#FF0000">Total silence. </font> Daniels: You hired Fuckin' Nuts Pratt!?! Wasn't he sent to Bahrain after the Planetoid Inscriber thing? MacHatten: No, they couldn't keep him. Technically, there's no law that says you *can't* draw Jack Kluggman's face on Mars. All they could do is declare the Inscriber as Shadowtech and send him on his way. There was some discussion of charging him with defacement of public property, but it didn't pan out. Daniels: Anyone ever find out why he did it? MacHatten: He was testing the Inscriber. Afterwards, he was going to use it to draw the face and logo of any person or corporation that could afford it on the Moon. I think he was planning on asking 5 billion a pop. Daniels: And this is the guy we’re hiring? Sainz: He's the only Nova with enhanced intelligence that didn't laugh at us when we pitched the idea. Collins: Fine, just make sure he keeps the animal smaller than a car, and tell him to keep marketability in mind when designing it. Now, is that all? Okay, let's go get lunch. <font color="#FF0000">Meeting ends. All participants exit room, Chian and Daniels arguing over dining arrangements. </font> End Transcript
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