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  1. Mutant Name - Locomotive Real Name - Charles Leo Sayer Nature - Survivor Str: 5 MStr: 2(Irresistable Force) Quality: Brutish Brawl: 2 Might: 2 Per: 2 MPer: 0 Awareness: 2 Investigation: 0 Cha: 3 MCha: 0 Command: 1 Etiquette: 1 Perform: 0 Dex: 3 MDex: 1(Enhanced Movement:Running) Athletics: 3 Drive: 0 Firearms: 0 Legerdemain: 0 Martial Arts: 0 Melee: 0 Pilot: 0 Stealth: 0 Int: 2 MInt: 0 Academics:1 Bureaucracy: 1 Computer: 1 Engineering: 1 Intrusion: 0 Linguistics: 1(Spanish) Medicine: 0 Science: 1 Survival: 0 App: 3 MApp: 0 Intimidation: 3 Style: 1 Sta: 5 MSta: 2 (Immovable Object) Quality: Determined Endurance: 3 Resistance: 3 Wits: 3 MWits: 0 Arts: 1 Biz: 0 Rapport: 1 Man: 2 MMan: 0 Interrogation: 0 Streetwise: 0 Subterfuge: 1 Powers: Invulnerability(Physical): 3(3 tainted) Armor: 1 Hypermovement(Running): 1 Backgrounds: Dormancy: 1 Genome: 2 Eufiber: 3 Contacts: 1 Quantum: 2 Q. Pool: 24 Initiative: 5 Willpower: 4 Taint: 3 Soak: 13(31)B/9(27)L Aberrations: Unusual skin color(dull grey), when he activates Hypermovement a ghostly image of a train appears around him, and gains speed as he does. Power Theme: Runaway Train/Brick. BG: Chuck was a single child. His mother was a hair overprotective, but his father was a big man, who tried to get Chuck into sports. Chuck love the time he spent on the sports field, but his mother was only allowing him to do "Non-contact" sports, such as baseball. His secret ambition was to play on a football team. His dad tried and tried to convince his mother to let him play. This wore her down until in freshman year of high school, she let him try out for the team, thinking it would get it out of his system. During the tryout that he finally got, he was put as a fullback, trying to help determine what position he would fit into. He got laid out by a senior offensive lineman. But he bounced right back up, and got into position for another play. The lineman saw this and began to salivate at the thought of pounding this freshman into the ground. The ball was snapped, and Chuck began running, trying to block for the main running back. From there, Chuck's recollection gets hazy. Time seemed to stand still, and everyone swears they heard a old-style steam-whistle right after Chuck began running. He plowed right into that senior lineman, and knocked him aside like a rag doll, giving the running back a giant hole to run through. When Chuck stopped moving, he collapsed, and fell into a deep sleep. After a few hours, Chuck woke up and tried to sit up, just to discover that his mother and father were looking down at him with fear in their eyes. They gave him a good talking to, and grounded him for 2 weeks. Apparently, he hit the lineman with such force that he cracked two ribs. His parents, having read news reports and hearing stories, convinced themselves that Chuck was a mutant
  2. Note This portion of the fiction takes place 1 day before Undernight Morning, Department 0 Headquarters Dr. Miyako Hitomi's office The good doctor was sitting in her office, looking over her case notes on Naomi Minami. She was a complicated individual, but one who has been through an extraordinary circumstance. Naomi had many feline quirks that had to be dealt with one at a time so that she could interact with people In a more positive way. Also if she ever had to interrogate, she would have to start learning to recognize her tells with her body language. Would be key in negotiations as well to hide emotional quirks. She also was worried that the woman who became "The Great Cat Detective" has lingering traumas over the disaster. In particular the loss of her Fiancee and the traumatic experience of her eruption. She understood most novas in Department 0 were more adjusted since they had been around for a while but Naomi was almost like the child of the group. She was 35, but Naomi has taken on some child-like behaviors after her eruption. Perhaps it was a defensive measure? She straightened her labcoat, emblazoned with a gold badge showing her as a member of the Japan branch of Psi-Corps, and then adjusts her white rubber gloves as Naomi walked in. "Doctor Hitomi... Nice to see you again." She said, seemingly semi serious as her tail flicked. "Sit down, Minami-Sensei. I'm glad you arrived." She said, gesturing to her couch. "How has the journal been coming along?" "I... I've not written in it yet." "I understand it's been busy, Naomi, but there is reason for my asking you keep one." Naomi sighed. "I'm... sorry." "No need to be, all of my patients before I joined with the department had a hard time starting off... that was until I gave them this..." She hands over what looked like a thick diary-like journal. It's covers were synthetic leather, it also had a lock on the cover and inlaid in perfect Kanji was "Naomi's Journal", stenciled with gold leaf. "I... Thank you... it's beautiful." "It's a start... when you begin, you must remember this isn't to be judged. Instead this is to understand yourself as much as it is for me to understand you." "What is there to understand, Doctor?" "More than you realize. You still have those Feline tics that happen every once in a while?" Naomi mewed. Her ears lowered. "Ah... Shiro coming out again. What if I told you that there is the possibility that what got stamped on your otherwise human brain was the memories, behaviors, and instinct of Shiro? He's not a part of you, you placed that on your experience. You loved that cat so dearly that it perhaps altered your development as a Nova." "Is there... anything wrong with loving something so innocent?" "No... we all love our pets, Minami-Sensei. And is it so wrong to consider that possibly you loved Shiro so much you became a bit like him?" Naomi blinked. "Naomi... you have to learn to let go of him... start coming to grips." Naomi looked away, thinking of her next response. "Naomi... what about Kyoji?" Naomi hissed and lashed out verbally. "What about him?" Dr. Hitomi nodded. "I see... Ever considered you hold on to Shiro in the belief you two merged as a coping mechanism?" She growled like a scorned cat. "I see I struck a nerve... Let me break this down..." She turns to the window and opens the shade. "When we walk outside every day we choose a mask. A facade. Something that is like a shield between us and the strangers around us. You have a second facade. This character you created. The Nekojin. I don't blame you, your abilities and skill only re-enforces your primary barrier. It doesn't help that the so-called "Quantum Template" that you developed caused such a dramatic mutation." She turns back to Naomi, her glasses glinting in the light while she was silhouetted by the light pouring in. "If you want to come to terms with yourself, you must start coming to terms with what you have lost. I can't even begin to unravel the complexes you have from the destruction of your home town." Naomi lowers her ears down, looking repentant. "If you want to start down this road, Naomi... you are going to have to unlearn what you have learned about who you are... even before your eruption. This is the future you have to build for. We can do this together. One with out baggage." She smiled and walked over putting a hand on Naomi's shoulder. "Let's travel this road, Naomi. We're both human."
  3. Do you think any Nova can develop any Mega Attribute? What about a power? What are your thoughts on Novas teaching each other? What about via powers that link their minds? Is there a teaching enhancement? A very simple overview of a reoccurring chat IC and OOC in my game. A mega-int PC in my game wants to create psychic links between lots of Novas then eventually developing in to a Hive Mind, but there is no Queen. The members would develop things like: Mega-Intelligence - Compartmentalized Mind, Mega Charisma - Autonomy, Mega-Wits – Group Awareness, etc. Part of the reason for this is so all the Novas involved can learn Taint Resistant. Another reason is to create a gigantic think-tank. Any thoughts on this method being used as a teaching method and think-tank are welcome :-)
  4. Through means that might justifiably labeled Sith, Nate had acquired a home. He wasn't proud of it, but neither was he ashamed of his actions. The previous owners of the old Airship hanger had been running their business into the ground and were poised to take a lot of people to the cleaners in the process. He had discovered it when he was looking for locations big enough to build his spaceship, and when he had realized what they were doing he had gone to the bank that was their major funding source and had cut a deal. He made the bank manager an offer he couldn't refuse; in exchange for cutting Nate a very good deal on a property that he had his eye on that be bank owned, he would provide information that would save the bank millions and save the bank's reputation from taking a negative hit for allowing a big investment to go bad. The man had been intrigued and agreed to consider making a deal, so Nate had laid out how a business venture was about to go bust and he gave some scary details, but he had withheld the name and any specifics necessary to identify the business. After seeing the finances outlined the manager had been impressed with the seriousness of the situation and so had agreed to Nate's terms, which had been a hell of a bargain to be sure, but compared to losing millions on the bad investment had seemed like the best option to the bank. In the end he had picked up the entire facility including it's inventory for just over a million dollars. The bank had lost money on the deal, but it was a much smaller loss than it could have been without Nate's warning. It was a win for the bank manager who earned a promotion for 'discovering' the potential fraud and nipping it in the bud. With his work at the DSA and potential patent licensing revenues that he was likely to be generating soon he thought he would have that million paid off inside of three years, and that was not even including money he might be making off the governments of the world for hauling their space junk around the solar system and dropping off deep space science modules. He smiled considering it. Sure there were novas that could jump to nearby stars and drop off small sensor packages and things, but there wasn't a nova that he knew of that could transport a entire space station sized habitat module into orbit around Saturn, or Alpha-centuari for that matter. Not that he could either yet, but he had the vision, and he had the skills; it was just a matter of time. And now he had the facilities with which to put his plan into action.
  5. Starting October 2011, we're doing a monthly experience award. As a thank you for everyone starting for a reboot of the game, I'm granting experience an award even through we didn't have 'regular' game in September. Going forward, I'll be awarding publically here. If no one objects, I'll be listing the awards here as opposed to private messages. For September, everyone has the same award: Standard xp: 2 Human xp: 2 Ancient xp: 2 Remember that Standard xp can be used on anything. Human xp can only be used on Skills, Abilities and Backgrounds - anything a human has access to in normal circumstances. Ancient xp can only be used on Epics, Boons and other Supernatural things - anything a human wouldn't have access to in normal circumstances.
  6. October 31 Olympus James smiled at the excitement that permeated the entire complex. It was hard not to smile at the bands of roving kids that we running around in homemade costumes demanding treats so they didn’t trick you. It was almost like being back before Z-day and he was sure some of the girls were thinking the same. “Hard to believe it’s almost been a year,” Jo said, leaning against James. He had his arm around the woman who was still his first girl, and had been ever since that hospital. “This time last year I was wondering which SCA garb to use for my costume, and this year I’m just happy to see that anyone’s feeling safe enough to trick or treat.” James nodded as Nashwa and Pat approached; behind them hovered Ayanna, an inner-city girl that Han had found on a raid to Denver. She’d been assigned to tend to Nash throughout her pregnancy, but it was clear she had designs on joining James’s harem. To date, she hadn’t managed to score an invite, but the dark-skinned teen was pretty enough to make James wonder whether he should ask the others about including her. She was a nice girl, and already friends with Nash, Pat and Jo. And of course, if he really wanted to expand, it wasn’t like Ayanna was his only choice, either. Nashwa was showing and glowed with peace and contentment. “Venus may join us later,” Nash told James with a smile, “but I believe she and some of the others had an adult’s only party planned.” “Fun, fun,” Jo laughed, shaking her head. “I know, right?” Nash giggled. “I’m barely able to get through the day without two naps and constant help. She’s managing orgies.” “She does have six helpers,” Pat pointed out, smoothing some of Nash’s hair back and fussing it back into her braid. “You have one.” “And she fucks every one of those six,” Jan said, her tone disapproving. “Daily, to hear them talk.” “Is that true, Anna?” Nash asked. The girl shrugged. “They say it is, but they might be lying. Getting chosen by one of the gods reborn is an honor, even if you’re just a sex-toy.” Her dark eyes caught James’s. “To get chosen for more is the greatest honor.” “We have a party to get to, right?” Helen asked, cutting into the moment with forced cheer. There was a general party, where food, drinks and games for all would be served; the family had agreed to go when it was first announced. “We should go.”
  7. I have been running an Aberrant game for years and it deviated substantially from cannon when Slider was saved. I decided to handle Max Mercer’s time travel a bit differently, and due to this snippets of information regarding the Doyen were uncovered by the party. So, it is starting to seem like some Novas want to take the war to the Doyen. Has anyone worked out more details about the Doyen? Their homeworld, galactic reach, other races, culture, etc. Has anyone run a Trinity Universe campaign that involved going after the Doyen? Cheers for reading
  8. Firsts things first; Hi to all people on this forum! As a longtime Aberrant fan I was very happy to see a community still interested in this verse:) The free ebooks were also very nice. I wanted to know what books you consider thematically appropriate reading for Aberrant? Or other properties? Ted Chiang' s ''Understand'' seems to me as good inspirational stuff. A test subject becomes super-intelligent and starts to become something more then human, illustrating how mega-intelligence works in broad strokes. The tone is rather serious, the protagonist is not using new powers for fun or playing with them. He later enters into a conflict with another super-intelligent test subject, over ideologies. A few thing get mentioned, a new language for super-intelligent people, the danger of losing mental balance because of the intelligence boost, the means and methods two mega-minds use to hurt each other. Good stuff. So, what do you recommend?
  9. Okay, folks. Here's what I've managed to hammer out for the Aeon Continuum timeline. Some of the listings will be shorter than others, but that just gives other writers & STs more wiggle room to operate in. I've kept it as generic as possible, so it can be used in all three Aeon Continuum games. Please read & review. If there's any mistakes made or details left out, they'd best be caught now. The New Century and The Adventure! Era As per the timeline in the Adventure! core book, pp. 259-262. Interregnum I - Twilight of the Inspired The following section covers the period between the Adventure! and Aberrant settings, and focuses on the activities of the Inspired and the circumstances affecting them. 1946: Having been infiltrated by the KGB, the Ponatowski Foundation is taken over from within. The Czar is captured and thouroughly interrogated by KGB agents, only to eventually be reduced to a broken shell of a man and sent to die in the gulags. Princess Anastasia manages to escape to Canada with the majority of the Czar's wealth and information. She shares the information with the Aeon Society in return for their aid in setting up a new identity for her retirement. Back in the U.S.S.R., enough hard information is found to begin what will become the KGB's psychic warfare & espionage programs. 1947: The surviving Inspired begin to go underground in the First and Second World nations, although some Second World Inspired manage to quietly defect to a First World nation. Many then cease all Inspired activities and begin to settle down and start families. Others do so to evade official notice and involuntary conscription - especially as they make juicy targets for anti-communist or anti-imperialist investigation - sometimes by becoming part of their local political hierarchies and hiding in plain sight. The physical effects of aging serve to put a brake on the activities of most of the other Inspired. In the First World nations, some of their offspring will briefly carry on with their parent's Inspired activities for larks - usually by digging out a handy gadget such as a flight pack out of a steamer trunk in the basement - but little comes of this save for discounted tall tales and reports of Fortean events. An alleged UFO crashlands on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, and is quickly taken by the United States military. The event is ineptly covered up, and civilians are threatened by the government to remain silent about the event. 1948: The Aeon Society begins their covert efforts to cover up any and all Inspired activity in the First World nations. In the United States, these efforts take silent advantage of Senator Joseph McCarthy's witchunts for communists and leftist intellectuals to ensure that what few Inspired remain keep their existence well out of the notice of the government, the business community and the public at large. 1949: The spread of television and televised journalism brings further incentive for the Inspired and their offspring to remain discreet.
  10. This thread is for any technology that our brainiacs can come up with as well as some ideas that make it through approval that I might come up with. I'm going to list stuff for right now as Gadgets, but these gadgets would be something that is expected at the current tech level plus a couple years. In regards to tech advancement, Anything that would exist in CN that doesn't exist in real life is probably something that is currently in the R&D phase that a nova with a couple years and the budget that comes with him or her can create. People can also list as they develop it things like new materials or alloys. One note, with the reconfigured gadget rules, you will have to rebuild your gadgets accordingly.
  11. October 31 Abandoned Rural Hospital in Mexico Jasmine sighed as she watched out the window for the Hummer to return. James had gone scouting for supplies and gear with Simon, leaving her and Primal to watch out for the kids and Mrigesh. He was almost healed but was still regaining his strength; walking for long periods wore him out and sitting upright for more than a few hours caused him pain. It had been a long recovery, complicated by the fact that their patient had also been the one giving the medical orders. But everyone thought they would be leaving soon. That was good, as far as Jasmine was concerned. Financially, the rest hadn’t been a bust; the group had been able to scavenge the area heavily instead of the usually grab-and-go they did. As a result, they hadn’t lost money by having to sit around and wait for Mrigesh to finish healing. “Jazzy!” Pumpkin burst in the room and leapt on her bed, her face covered with a crudely drawn cat face. “Imma cat! Mreow!” “Yes, you are!” Jasmine said with a laugh, smiling at the child. She was admittedly more and more nervous as her pregnancy progressed, but she was relieved that taking care of children seemed to come easily to her. There would be some adjustments but she was mostly sure she could handle them. “You guys playing a game?” “Nuh uh! It’s Hawwoween!” October’s already over, Jasmine thought, wondering where the time had gone. “What’s Hana, Eric and Celeste going as?” “Nothin!” Hana pouted. “Eric and Hana say they’re too old, ‘n Celeste don’t get it! I wanna go trick or treating and they say I can’t!”
  12. It had been a month and a half since he had gotten out of prison. Just under a month and a half since he and Kei had taken her weather balloon rig up to the edge of the atmosphere and parachuted back down. That had been a exciting ride, one he wouldn't soon forget. At the time he was still in the process of making a deal with the bank to buy the old airship hanger, but he had invited her out to do some work on her rig. It had been fun for sure, but the balloon's gondola could use some updating, they had come up with half a dozen improvements to her rig right there on the spot. He could just imagine what they might be able to do with some planning and the tools and facilities he had now. That was why it was it was time to give Kei a call and see if she still wanted to get together. He'd spent the last couple weeks cleaning out and organizing the facilities and he thought it was presentable finally. "Computer, call Kei." His belt worn computer could take voice commands as easily and correctly as it did keyboard input. After a moment there was a ring and May answered. "Konichi-wa." Even two weeks ago he would have been stymied. He had been as awkward as they come when it came to speaking with women, but his little trip to Vegas had cured him of that, or at least given him a start on some badly needed confidence. He remembered the lesson he had learned and projected the confidence he didn't entirely feel. "Hi May, this is Nate. How have you been since the cruise?" "Good." She seemed a bit surprised whether it was because he was speaking to her with confidence, or from the fact that he was asking how she was doing instead of asking to speak with Kei he wasn't sure. "I am well. Is there something I can help you with?" Business-like as always. He smiled though she couldn't see it, "Listen, I was trying to get ahold of Kei, is she available?" "One moment, I will see if she can speak with you." A silence followed and despite his new confidence there was a slight twisting in his gut as he waited.
  13. June 27th, 2027 Exalt! Headquarters Puck returned from the Congo to find his home as busy as ever and happily running itself in his absence. Negotiations with the Storm King were going… well, they were going. He was confident that it would work out in the end. He knew that Eden was not in the building inside a few seconds of entering it, but assumed she was somewhere in the city, shopping perhaps. That was odd, though, because Eden did not often go out alone. At first he put it down to a breakthrough on her part, on confidence grown from proximity to people who loved her for the first time in her life. That ended when he went to his room, and found the message waiting for him on his OpNet station. The title read, quite simply, ‘Goodbye.’ A frown that would have broken a thousand hearts flickered on his flawless brow, before he opened the message. A video file began to play. Eden appeared on the screen, fiddling with the camera on her Terminal. She sat back and peered into the screen. “Ah think y’all are workin’ now.” She took a deep breath. She seemed more withdrawn than usual. “Hey, Puck!” Brute waved at the screen. “Ah guess if you’re listenin’ to this then ah went ahead an’ sent it, an’ that means ah’m gone. Ah don’ know if ah’m comin’ back.” Brute lowered her gaze for a few moments. “Ah guess you wanna know why. Ya might wanna pause this an’ get a sandwich or somethin’. This could take a while.” Puck did pause the playback, just long enough to soak up her tone and the words, to sense the emotional upheaval she was going through. He did not fetch a sandwich, however. He hit play again. Eden scratched her head. She squirmed in her seat, as if she could feel Puck’s eyes on her. She picked at her front teeth with her thumb nail. “Honestly ah don’ know if ah even have a good reason for this,” she said, “all ah really know is that ah don’t belong there no more. If ah ever did, an’ ah’m not sure ah did. Ah know, ah know,” she held up her hands as if to defend herself. “We been over this. Yer home’s mah home an’ all that.” She paused, and sighed. “Only… sayin’ it don’ make it so. Ah’d be lyin’ if ah said you an’ Starseed didn’t have a whole lot to do wit’ this. Infinity had a bit, too. Ah ain’t never felt right since me an’ her had that bust up out on the island. Ah keep thinkin’ about those words ‘power hater’. They’re stuck in mah craw, an’ ah cain’t make no sense of ‘em. Maybe ah’ll have that out with Infinity one day. Ah guess y’all wanna know about how you an’ Star feed inta this, right?” Eden smiled then. It was impish, the way her smiles always were, and mischievous. That was when Puck felt nobody could fail to see the family connection. They smiled the same way. “It don’ feel fair, Puck, what’s happenin’ right now. Ah’m still tryin’ to get my head around havin’ a brother ah never knew ah had an’ now ah got nine months before ah got fifty nephews and nieces ta take care of, too. An’ what if they grow up fast as well? Everyone’s so dang happy about this. All them women, it’s like this is the greatest time o’ their lives, like… like they’re fulfilled or somethin’. They keep botherin’ me now, too, like they need mah approval or somethin’, only they never did that before. Ah figure it’s because o’ the auntie thang. God, they’re so happy, Puck,” Eden broke off and looked away. She drew her legs up and hugged them, and shook her head. “Everybody’s happy… ‘cept me. An’ that ain’t right. There’s somethin’ wrong wit’ me. Ah’m… Ah’m broke. “Ya know it’s true, even if ya hate ta say it. Ah needed time, Puck. But you’re too fast for me. Exalt!’s growin’ inta this monolithic thang that’s everywhere an’ now yer gettin’ yer own nation an’ who the hell knows what else? All ah know for sure is that ya ain’t tellin’ me everythang. An’ why should ya? Ah’m jus’ yer broken big sister, though ah’m sure if anyone saw us they’d think it were the other way round. Yer the grown up here, Puck, the guy in charge, an’ the guy with the plans an’ the gumption to make ‘em happen. Heck, by the time ya get this message maybe Exalt! Galaxy will be on the table somewhere.” Even though her words hurt, Puck smiled a little at that suggestion. It didn’t sound like a bad idea to him, anyway. “So who am ah?” Brute shook her head. She sniffed and wiped at her eyes. She frowned deeply. “Ah’m jus’ another broken person in Exalt!, with one little difference: Ah ain’t gettin’ better. Ah’ve talked with jus’ about everyone in Exalt! by now, an’ ah’ve heard their stories. How meetin’ you changed their lives, how you made ‘em into better people an’ fixed everythang, how meetin’ you is knowin’ what love is an’ what god sounds like an’ all the rest o’ it. An’ the problem is ah feel some o’ that, too. The god bit, mostly. The way ya talk, the way ya can just click yer fingers an’ ah feel like everythin’s better.” Eden’s face twisted up, then, as if she were chewing on something bitter. “But that’s the problem… it don’t get better. Not fer me. ‘Cause ah’m not one o’ them. Ah’m less than they are. What’s broke in them… it’s different than what’s broke in me. Ah’m not tryin’ to be all dramatic ‘n’ stuff. It’s jus’ true. Even yer friend Scripture couldn’a fix me, an’ you acted like he could do anythang. Ah’m special, jus’ like ya always said. Only it’s not good special. Maybe it’s ‘cause ah’m yer sister. Maybe yer special thangs don’ work right wit’ me. Like… um…” she clicked her fingers, “Cyclops! Cyclops an’ Havoc outta the comics. They’re family so their powers don’t work none. Kinda handy when ya can knock a house down, ah guess. Where was ah? Oh yeah. “It all seems okay when yer talkin’ ta me, but it don’t last. Every time ah get mopey along ya come with ya silly grin an’ ya spiky hair an’ ya make me feel good an’ special for as long as ah’m around ya,” Brute offered a genuine, warm smile, but it quickly faded. “An’ then ya go flyin’ off ta sleep with Darrik an’ infinity and Starseed an’ who knows who else an’ ah’m left wit’ Mr. Bear an’ ah’m jus’ as confused as if ya never talked ta me in the first place.” She ran a hand through her hair, in a manner unconscious yet eerily similar to Puck’s own nervous tic. “Ah’m not really part o’ yer life, Puck. Not really. Ah ain’t part o’ Exalt!, ah ain’t one o’ yer lovers, ah’m yer sister. Ya said it yerself; ya don’ know what to do wit’ that. S’ somethin’ ya never really thought about. Me? Ah’m still a virgin, surrounded by people who seem ta agree that sex is the cheaper way to stay warm. “An’… that bugs me. Even ‘fore ya went inna mah head an’ made me smarter, ah wasn’t that dumb. Ah knew what was goin’ on around me, even though everyone liked to hide it. All them ladies didn’t get pregnant through immaculate conception, right?” Puck ran his hand through his hair. He had been pilloried by just about everybody over his indiscretions. The only person who could have who had not yet was Chang, because he always mysteriously forgot to bring the matter up around her. It was another blow, and a hard one, to hear this from his sister. She was one of the last people he wanted to hurt. “‘Sides, ah can pick up someone’s body heat s’long as ah’m in the same buildin’ as ‘em. People havin’ sex put off more ’n usual. Guess ya know that. Ah know ya like it an’ ya need it, an’ ah got no business sayin’ nothin’ about that. An’ y’all have been real nice around me. Ya always tried to keep it under wraps, an’ ah appreciated it. Ah’ve learned a bit about them Terat friends o’ yours an’ what you do. It’s a real sacrifice to pretend around me, an’ it’s not one ah should’a forced on ya.” Her eyes grew hooded and sad. She bit her lip, in that way she did sometimes when there was something on her mind that she felt needed saying but didn’t want to. Finally she fixed the camera with her deep, liquid brown eyes and said, “Ah guess this is where it all goes wrong, for all the right reasons. “Nobody else ever played nice, Puck. Every time Infinity was around it was all makin’ googley eyes at ya, every time Darrik was around it was all innuendo an’ makin’ eyes an’ ah could never think straight around him anyways. It jus’ made me feel like so long as ah wasn’t there everyone’d be havin’ a whole lot more fun. Ya remember when we went out on that island? They wanted ta jump yer bones, an’ they sure would’a if ah wasn’t there.” Brute shrugged and shook her head, seeming helpless and lost. “Ah don’ know, Puck. Since when did ah ever know anythang? An’ then Star showed off an’ ah went an’ lost mah head right there in front o’ everybody. That must’a been embarrassin’, even though ya were both nice about it. “Either way, ah don’t got no right to tell ‘em how they oughta behave. So if ah got a problem then mah options are to have no friends at all, or leave, because they’re your friends, an’ ah ain’t gonna see ‘em when you’re not there. Given yer listenin’ to this, ah guess ya can figure what ah decided ta do. It feels like ah’m doin’ the right thing, the moral thing. It ain’t right to try an’ make everyone else act the wrong way ta make yerself feel better, an’ ah’m talkin’ that exact thang!” She threw her hands up and gave a great, shuddering sigh. “Ah don’ wanna be a bad person, Puck. Ah really don’t. You Terat folk are a bit too hardcore for me in the end.” Brute smiled faintly. “Ah don’ belong is what ah’m getting at. Ah’ve been thinkin’ like ah should go an’ have sex. Like that’d make me fit in more. Dr. Sellas told me that don’t make no sense an’ ah know she’s right but the feelin’s there Puck, an’ it don’t go away jus’ by sayin’ so. Everythin’ feels like it oughta be an orgy when you’re aroun’. That works for everyone else, don’t it? So why not me? What makes me special?” She shook her head and sighed again. When she looked up, she raised her hands and let them drop. “Most o’ this ya know already. Ah’m really jus’ goin’ over it for completion’s sake so ah’m not leavin’ anythang out. Ah don’t want’cha ta feel like ah jus’ up an’ left ‘cause ah got upset one day. S’more like thangs have been goin’ that way for a while an’ ah only just realized. Learnin’ that there’s gonna be five kids for Star… ah guess it was the ol’ straw that broke the camel’s behind, after knowin’ there were all these other ones comin’ too. “Anyways… so here ah am tryin’ ta make sense o’ all this, tryin’ ta figure out what ta do an’ who an’ what ah’m meant ta be… an’ then suddenly ah gotta be an Aunt? Fifty times over? An’ you, the only damn person ah can rely on, ya gonna go be a father. Ya gotta! Ya got children now. Ya cain’t let ‘em go wrong. Y’all can do what ah cain’t. Ya can raise yer kids right, an’ stick it to dad.” “He’s still wit’ me, Puck. What he said ta me. What he did. He wasn’t nice ta me, he never gave me a chance. But ah’m broke now, an’ ah cain’t never prove him wrong by bein’ what he said ah couldn’t. Maybe ah wouldn’a been able to anyhow. That don’ matter no more. What’s done’s done. Whether it’s nature or nurture, ah’m made ta break things. But you,” she looked up, pointed at the screen and smiled, “y’all were made ta build things. Ta make ‘em better. It’s all over everythang you touch, everythang you try for. An’ that… that’s great. But yer life’s gone and got complicated, Puck. An’ ya don’t have room in yer life for all o’ that an’ yer big broke sister.” Puck almost opened his mouth to reply. Instead he rubbed his eyes and sat back in his seat. He hated seeing her like this, heart on her sleeve and bleeding all over. “Ya can teleport to the end o’ time an’ space, ya can set up yer own nation… but ya cain’t make the day have more hours than it’s got. Yer life’s gonna get more busy from here on out, Puck, not less. Ah’m gonna lose ya one way or t’other. An’ ya won’t even notice, ‘cause you’ll have fifty kids ta take care of an’ a nation ta run. S’ alright. Ah can hear ya objectin’ already. But ah think we both know ah’m right on this one. Ya went an’ got yerself some bigger issues ta attend to than me, an’ ya cain’t take care o’ me an’ Exalt! an’ yer kids an’ yer lovers all at the same time. Y’all gotta pick, Puck…” a few tears crept down her cheek. “Ah cain’t make ya do that. An’ ah cain’t let ya try an’ balance all these plates at once, in case they all come crashin’ down. What yer doin’ here,” Eden pointed up and gestured around her in general, “it’s more important than me. So that makes the process o’ elimination real easy. “Ah didn’t take much. Mr. Bear didn’t think it’d be right ta. There’ll be other girls comin’ in who need nice things, ah mean really need ‘em. This ol’ node done gone made me self-reliant, yessiree,” she said, tapping herself on the temple. “So all ah took was mah new backpack an’ Mr. Bear an’ mah clothes. Ah guess the clothes ain’t mine neither, but they remind me of ya, an’ ah don’t wanna forget. Ya know how mah head is. Sometimes ah’m a bit absent-minded, an’ ah ain’t takin’ no risks on this one. Anyhow, ah figure nobody’d mind. Oh, an’ ah’m takin’ mah escrima sticks. Tell mah teacher ah’ll keep practicin’. Don’ know how much it’ll help, but ah’ll work on what he told me.” She rested her chin on the back of her hand for a few moments, staring into the camera as if looking for something else to say, or having too much to say and finding no way to say it. Finally she nodded. “Thanks, Puck. For everythang. Ah know there’s no ‘good’ way to do somethin’ like this, so this is it. Ah’m done. Bye.” Eden reached out, and the message ended. *** As Puck was listening to Brute’s farewell, she was far away and walking further. The evening was coming on with an azure sky fading to purple. It looked like it might be a bright night. Cars and trucks zoomed by her, racing to wherever the road went. She didn’t know, and she hadn’t checked. Brute didn’t know where she was going and had not set out on any destination in particular. Only this was different to when her father cast her out like the trash. This time Brute walked for her own reasons. She did not know where she was going or if she would ever get there, but she had a good idea who was waiting for her at the end of this road. It wasn’t someone she knew well, or even someone she knew of up until recently, and it wasn’t someone who mattered much to anybody but her and Puck. It was a girl she might have known, but forgot about long ago, a girl named Eden Klitzkow. Brute paused at the roadside and screwed up her lip. It was well out of fashion, but she figured she might as well give it a try. She put on her best, Puck-brand silly grin and stuck out her thumb in the direction of the traffic.
  14. Gabe Walters was a patient man. It was one of the reasons his mentor, Dr. Abraham Nightside, had selected the young man as an aide all those years ago. Walters had learned much in his tenure in the Directive, but no skill had proven quite as vital as his ability to learn which ass to kiss and for how long. It was an art, and combined with Gabe’s natural talent for reading human behavior, had gotten him into some pretty high places in the world. All of those talents had helped shape him for the future he was shaping. Today, he was debating his Plan again. He’d come up with it ten years ago and had worked on it since that day. Staring out the windows of his modest cabin in the Catskills, he considered the Plan once again. He’d run it over and over; torn it apart in his mind and rebuilt it hundreds of times. It was the first thing he thought of when he woke up, the thing he was thinking about when he went to sleep and the thoughts that he pondered while in the shower, eating or on the toilet. Any time his brain wasn’t occupied with something else, it was going over the Plan. One of his earliest conclusions about the Plan was this: the most irritating thing about the Plan was that no one had done it years ago. They’d just followed Thetis blindly, letting her make all the calls and decisions, even when they were morally repugnant – even when they were just awful. Gabe laid all the blame for Proteus’s current predicament at her feet. But today, he was going to change that. It was time for the Plan to be started. Drawing a deep breath, he checked to be sure that the voice scrambler was active and that his signal shredder was working. It was the standard kind of precautions one took when dealing with excessively powerful, paranoid and impulsive novas. Then he teleported to Wapusk National Park in Canada. As the cold waters of Hudson bay lapped at the shore at his feet, he dialed the number he’d looked so long for. Three rings; then it picked up. “Coraline Boehm, please listen. Proteus needs to stop. Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, you can find Thetis at 40° 23' North and 105° 45' West. That’s her getaway cabin at Arrowhead Lake.” With that, he hung up, quickly. For a heartbeat time, he stood on the bank, wondering what Cora was doing. He hoped she'd take the steps he'd foreseen. Then he teleported away, preparing for the next step.
  15. How do you get someone with Quantum Imprint to drop duplicated powers? It's a maintenance power, and maintenance powers (presumably) fade after sleep. But what if someone has Mega-Stamina and never sleeps? A QIer can latch onto Mega-Strength and other stuff, and then what? Keep it forever?
  16. Los Angeles Dusk approached and slowly washed its shadow across the giant city of Los Angeles California. The city was at relative peace with commuters returning from their jobs or setting off to the late shift while still more people were simply just enjoying the warm night air as sun set along the western horizon. Several along the boardwalk looked up as a strange shadow caught their attention before it plummeted from the sky and smashed into the asphalt with a motorized impact. The thing was robotic, humanoid and stood at about twelve feet. Flat metallic paint coated its frame as it looked about before out stretching its arm. Compartments slid open and several barrels retracted about the radius of the machine's forearm and begun to spin slowly in an ominous whine. Mutant Gene Detected: Commence Termination Shards of orange light ejected from the whirling barrels at a pace that no human would have kept up with. One by one they tore into people on the streets, average people that no one would have suspected to be carrying the X-Gene. A man carrying groceries was torn to shreds his strange bluish-green blood smearing along the walls and businesses he was passing by. A woman, who had been jogging along the boardwalk when the excitement begun had managed to shift her skin into granite a moment too late as the things beams rocketed through her stony body leaving a searing hole where her chest used to be. Thunderously it stomped on the road as people stood paralyzed with fear while others ran for their lives. "Mutant Gene Detected: Commence Termination" Its voice modulated aloud granting warning and, indeed, pause to those who knew they weren't mutants who now stopped to watch the machine do what it was programmed for: slaughter. Reaching down it tore the roof from an SUV as the mother and her two children screamed in fear. Reaching in it plucked the twelve-year old daughter out of the front seat while she was struggling to undo her seat belt. The mother screamed and yelled for the thing to stop but it did only what it was programmed to do. The girl screamed as she hit the concrete hard on her back, taking the breath from her lungs. The crowed turned away as a grizzly splatter smeared across the street when the machine's massive foot smashed down upon the young girl. The robot looked to the mother who was in a tear filled panic with shock not to far away. Its metallic hand have her an approving 'thumbs up'. "Thank you for your cooperation ma'am, vote Obama in 2012." Thrusters kicked on from its back, launching its massive body into a power slide across the asphalt to continue its patrol of Los Angeles streets. Manthattan, 24 hours later… The plan was a simple one, take the new student Renaldo out for a fun night and give him the opportunity to spend some time a few of the other students, make some friends and help his adjustment to the academy go a bit smoother. They'd been given free movie passes, once again proving that sometimes LHA made having a good time too easy but you'd hardly hear them complaining. Sonja, Renaldo, Kia, and Josh exited the movie theatre, Sonja collecting a good share of whistles and propositions as they did so. Underworld: Awakening turned out to be pretty cool but just getting out of the school for a few hours was more than worth it. Director Drumm really trusted them it seemed, sending them into Manhattan with no chaperones or supervision. 'The only good mutie is a dead mutie!' 'Tell a mutie to kiss yer booty!' 'We were here first!' And other colorful slogans were spray painted all across the walls of the buildings they passed while the walked to the garage a few blocks away where the van was parked. They passed by the front of an electronics store where the current news caught the attention of the four students. The newscaster talked to the camera as the message 'Mutant Hive Routed in Los Angeles!' "Tonight's top story," He started. "Trial run of the Dreadnoughts has been hailed as a triumphant success as a mutant hive in Los Angeles was uncovered and neutralized with no civilian casualties. Authorities are still uncertain as whether or not the cell was linked to anti-human bombings and attacks in both New York and Washington. Department of Defense officials however say that evidence is undeniable." Professor Jensen appeared on the screen standing behind a podium speaking before a board of her 'peers' as the newscaster's voice continued. "Human rights campaigners and Amnesty International have both condemned the action as 'inhuman and unconstitutional', provoking a stern White House response." The camera switched to a scene where a man the screen introduced as General Conrad Drogan. "The President wishes to reaffirm his support for this project and offers his most sincere congratulations to the federal employees behind it. "We will not give into mutant terrorist threats like those from this so called 'Brotherhood'." The camera goes back to the newscaster. "Heavy stuff there, we'll continue to follow this story as it develops. When we return Tiger Woods announces his seventeen million dollar contract promoting Durex condoms." The commercials began and the young mutants were left on the cold dark streets of Manhattan suddenly feeling very alone. Sometimes it's not easy being different from everyone else...
  17. History People say you can never go home again, but in some cases, that's truer than others. In Wesley Knight's case, it's words to live by. He grew up in a tiny town called Tunnel Hill, about an hour north of Mobile, a tiny flyspeck on a map full of them. Tunnel Hill's only claim to fame was the auto parts factory, which employed about half the people in town, and drew folks in from miles away. It drew in Wesley's parents, Marlon and Marie Knight, when Wesley himself was no more than a baby. They weren't a comfortable fit in town, being just about the only people of color in a ten-mile radius, but the factory gave Marlon a job, and it was enough to support the family. Marie helped out with a garden and doing some housekeeping for the wealthier folks in town, and they got by just fine. They didn't make a lot of friends, but these were more enlightened times, even in Alabama, and they didn't have much trouble, either. As for Wesley himself, he didn't even realize he was different until he got to school. He went to daycare with the white children, played with them at the park, and if no one ever came over to his house or invited him over, well, he was too young to realize that wasn't normal. On the television, white children and black children played together like it was nothing, and that's what he came to expect. It wasn't until he reached elementary school and began spending six hours a day with white kids that he realized he was never going to really fit in. No one was especially cruel, not at first, but he was never a part of any group. At recess, he played kickball but was never picked first, after school, he walked home alone. Sometimes groups of older boys called him names and tried to goad him into fights, but that wasn't really Wesley's nature. Instead, he grew very close to his parents, and made plans for one day finding a better place than this to live. Years passed, and Wesley got used to being an outcast in school and town. He made a few friends, mainly other kids who weren't socially acceptable for one reason or another, or who wanted to rebel by being friends with someone their parents said to avoid. They had some fun times out by the old railroad tunnel or scrambling through the swamps outside of town when their parents weren't watching. They played at being superheroes, as all young boys did, saving the day with the powers they saw heroes using on television, becoming rich, famous and so beloved that everyone in town wanted desperately to be their friends. It made school a little more bearable. Wesley was a decent student, though he never tried to stand out, and he coasted pretty easily through Tunnel Hill Elementary. Things changed, though, when he went to the County Consolidated Middle School for sixth grade. There were a lot of new kids there, even a few Hispanics who'd come up to pick fruit and cotton with their families. It was a new world to navigate, with new friends and new enemies. Most importantly, though, Wesley fell in love, the way you only can at twelve. Her name was Elaine, and she was twelve like him, and beautiful. And she was white. Even at that age, both of them knew what a problem that was, but that only made it more exciting. They passed notes in the hallway and held hands when no one was looking. He gave her flowers he found out along the highway as he walked home, and even a kiss once, on the cheek because he was a gentleman. It was a very fine love affair, indeed. That spring, after they'd been "dating' for several months, Elaine invited him to come over and meet her family. There was an Easter picnic at the very small church that her father was pastor of, and it would be a lot of fun if he would come. There would be games, and plenty of good food, and she was sure that her family would like him, because he was so polite and well-spoken. Against his better judgment, which was always a little clouded when it came to Elaine, Wesley agreed to go. The moment he arrived at the Easter Picnic, dressed in his best suit and a bow tie, he knew it was a mistake. He didn't know these people, who were from a town even smaller than his own, and they all looked at him like he'd fallen out of space like the Centurion. Elaine intercepted him just as someone was coming over, undoubtedly to ask what he thought he was doing here, and guided him over to her family. Scared and uneasy, he held her hand tightly, a fact that didn't go unnoticed even for a second. Elaine scarcely had time to say "Daddy, Mama, I want you to meet my friend Wesl-" before her father was rising from his seat at the picnic table. Elaine's daddy was a tall man, and to Wesley at that moment, he looked like a giant. "Elaine, I don't believe you were allowed to invite anyone to this picnic. It's for church members only," he intoned, staring at the childrens' joined hands. They dropped hands immediately. "But Daddy," Elaine protested. "Wesley's my friend. I really like him, and I think you will..." He cut her off again. "It is not right for the unequal to be yoked together!" he boomed, loudly enough to catch the attention of everyone nearby. "One cannot come into the presence of the Lord until one has been washed clean as the snow, pure white by the blood of the Lamb! It is our faces that show our inner natures, not the clothes we wear or the folks we try and make nice with!" He stared Wesley down. "There is a Natural Order of Things, boy! We all keep to our kinds, like to like! Anyone who doesn't, is a freak of nature and should be treated as that! A freak!" He took a menacing step forward and Wesley, terrified and humiliated in equal parts, turned and bolted. He ran all the way home, tearing the shins of his best pants on a thornbush and ruining the polish on his good Sunday shoes. After that experience, it was very hard for Wesley to even show his face at school again, though pride and pragamatism forbid him from playing hooky and courting punishment at school and at home. Elaine tried to offer a stammering apology on behalf of her family, but Wesley was in no mood to hear it. She'd led him into an ambush, and hadn't even given him a warning. Besides, she'd been forbidden to speak to him anymore, and her older cousins were everywhere, keeping an eye out. The romance, and the love, was over. He told his father just a little bit about what had happened, because he had to tell someone, and he trusted his father more than anyone. Marlon reminded him that it was pain that inevitably came before strength, and that just like a sore back and blistered hands led to muscle and callouses, a hurting heart now would make him a better man later. "If you don't know pain, you can't feel compassion," he told Wesley. They finished out the lesson with apple pie and ice cream which, while not exactly a cure, made him feel a little bit better. Whether or not it made him strong, Wesley liked to think that the experience with Elaine had at least made him smarter. He avoided females and their wiles, even as all the girls in his class suddenly began growing, seemingly over the space of a single summer, into women. By concentrating on his friends and his schoolwork, he got by all right, and eventually made it through sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and into the big county high school. Here was a whole new world of people and opportunities, even if they came with new dangers and pitfalls as well. The high school was where all the sports were, for one! Wesley wasn't big enough for football, but he made the baseball and basketball teams both, and ended up starting point guard for the sophomore team when he was fifteen. His parents attended every home game, and even the people who didn't like him still cheered his name when he represented the school! A winning season for the sophomore team did a whole lot to boost his rep around the school, and even brought the girls around again. Although sorely tempted, Wesley didn't indulge. He had more important things to think about, and he wasn't about to risk his shooting or pitching arm getting beat up by someone's older brother. Wesley was riding high at the start of his junior year. Easy classes and guaranteed passing grades because of his sports prowess, and maybe even the possibility of a scholarship or two coming his way. He knew people were looking his way from some of the state colleges, but he was starting to think he could do even better. He could be on the television in two years, with a little training and luck, leading a college team instead of a backwater high school team. Heck, there he'd be in the majority, instead of the only black kid in the whole damn school! All those beautiful dreams shattered, though, on an icy night in the winter of 2006. While Wesley celebrated another victory on the bus with his team, his parents followed them back through the unusually cold night towards town. As they neared the school, a silver Chevy Cavalier hurtled through a stoplight behind the bus, plowing at near sixty miles an hour into his parents' little hatchback. Wesley didn't see it happen, but the sound of it became embedded in his brain, to play in his dreams again and again. The whole team piled out of the bus, and for once there was no thought of skin color or cultural barriers as they tried to pull Marlon and Marie from the destroyed car, but it was too late. Neither of them ever made it to the hospital. The teenager who had been driving the car, a kid named David that Wesley knew slightly, was woozy but only scratched up, and spent most of the rescue effort on his cell phone, trying to tell his parents why the crash wasn't his fault. He barely seemed to realize he'd hit anyone. What came after that was nothing but an unending nightmare for Wesley. His family was gone, his house was empty, his life seemed over. His friends on the basketball team grieved with him, but they didn't understand. They didn't know what it was like to be alone! They only stared from the sidelines, like he was some kind of curiosity in a zoo. "Watch the loneliest negro, see him cry real tears, just ten cents a look!" No one really understood him, no one really cared. His grief began to coalesce into a cold rage that needed an outlet. By the time the funerals were over, he needed a target, and there was one readily available. The day after he buried his parents, Wesley found David after school, standing in the parking lot next to his new car and talking with his friends without a care in the world. He'd only wanted to talk, Wesley would swear it later. Wanted to hear the apology, wanted to see some goddamn remorse from the man who'd destroyed his family. But by the time he'd crossed that endless expanse of parking lot, there was blood in his eyes and he wasn't thinking about any talking at all. With the speed and grace that had made him a star on the basketball court, Wesley slammed into the murderer, mercilessly driving fists into flesh and listening to the so-familiar sound of bone hitting metallic car body. The attack was so fast and unexpected, everyone around was stunned for a minute, and David never even had a chance. By the time four guys ganged up to pull Wesley off, David was on the ground, bleeding and unconscious. The sirens started wailing a minute later, an ambulance for one, a police car for the other. Rather than spend that first endless night in his empty home, Wesley spent it in jail. His parents had died without making wills, so although the house and everything would eventually be his, at the moment, Wesley didn't even have five hundred dollars to hire a bail bondsman, much less an attorney. He didn't realize until he saw the paper the next day how bad it was. David was still in the hospital, with bleeding in his brain. The doctor didn't know when he was going to wake up, or if there would be permanent damage. A lot of people in town, including David's father the mayor, were up in arms and looking to make an example of the perpetrator of violence in the schools. Some people even talked about gangs encroaching into their town, as entirely ridiculous as the idea was. Though Wesley's public defender was dedicated and competent, the public sentiment was such that the best he could do was to get Wesley an eighteen month sentence in juvenile detention. "I'm sorry," he told Wesley, "but it might be for the best. People are really angry right now, and you don't have a lot of folks on your side. It's wrong and it's not justice, but if you keep your nose clean and get your GED, you'll come out all right. I know the guy who's handling your parents' estate. He's honest and he'll do right by you. I'm damn sorry about all this, Wesley." Wesley was damn sorry too, but he could see the wisdom in his lawyer's words. He just hoped no one burned down his house while he was gone. And it wasn't like he had anything to go back to now, anyway. He'd surely be expelled from school, off the team, with no hope of scholarships anymore, and no friends. And his parents were gone, a yawning hole inside him that still ached every second. At least going to juvie meant food and a place to sleep. It wasn't easy being inside, for all that he was no longer nearly so much a minority. Most of the guys he met were a lot rougher than he was, and his normally peaceful nature didn't serve him well. He had to learn fast how to defend himself and stick up for himself. No one turned and ran here, you either defused a situation or you fought it out, because there was no place to go. He wound up with his share of bruises and stolen items before he found his place, precarious as it was, in the hierarchy of juvenile offenders. It wasn't all bad, though. He'd always had a knack for making friends in unusual places, and this was no exception. He met some people almost like himself, good guys who'd had bad luck, or who'd made one bad decision that screwed up their whole lives. One of the guys he met was Leroy, a seventeen year old tattoo apprentice from Mobile who was in for being caught with the stash of drugs his cousin had given him, all unknowing. "I was stupid to take it," Leroy acknowledged ruefully, "I knew he wasn't no good. Live and learn." They didn't have any equipment in juvie, and Leroy eschewed the rough tools of the prison tat trade, but he was more than happy to describe the business in intricate details to a fascinated Wesley. Wesley had always been a good artist, but that hadn't seemed to be a skill that would take him anywhere. Now, though, it seemed like an avenue. Good tat artists made good money, and it was a hell of a lot better than working in the auto parts factory. Soon he was drawing designs on any spare piece of paper, and ordering in books from the library system on how to be a tattoo artist. He picked up his GED, and started to feel like he might be going somewhere with his life again. As it turned out, thanks to a cut for good behavior and a sympathetic review board, Wesley got out six months early, just about the time Leroy was aging out of the system too. Leroy invited him down to Mobile, and since Wesley didn't feel ready to go home, he was happy to take him up on that. He interviewed at the shop Leroy worked at, and impressed them enough with his knowledge and drawings for them to take him on. By the end of six months, he'd progressed from sweeping the floor and dumping old needles to tattooing himself and his friends, and was just about ready to go into the business. Right about then, though, he turned eighteen, and was faced with old business to take care of. He was of age, and now all that had belonged to his family was his. He'd have to go deal with it. The guys at the shop gave him a little advice on what to do, though they weren't exactly lawyers themselves. Wesley decided to hope his PD had been telling him the truth, and that this attorney was a guy he could trust. He made arrangements to meet the estate trustee in late May, since that was the soonest he could catch a ride to Tunnel Hill. Getting back was going to be a challenge, but he figured he'd have at least some money by then, enough to buy a bus ticket. It was weird coming back into town after all this time, and seeing how very much the same it all looked. He got some double-takes and some hard looks as he walked down Main Street, but he figured that was normal. He'd been gone a long time, and he'd always been sort of a remarkable figure in town. Some of the looks didn't seem at all friendly, but he was used to that, too. He could ignore it and go about his business. Mr. Jacobson, the attorney, was a tall man in his late fifties, with a wood-paneled office and a pretty secretary in the waiting room. He pretty much looked like every lawyer Wesley had ever seen on TV. He sat Wesley down in his office and opened a thick folder of papers, then began going carefully through each one, describing exactly what it was, and exactly what it meant to the estate. As his parents' only chick and child, Wesley was the sole beneficiary of their estate, and entitled to complete ownership of the house, the bank accounts, all the contents of the house, and his father's pension plan from the factory. Even after the family debts were settled and the funeral expenses were deducted, it was more money than Wesley had ever had at once! "I also took it upon myself as trustee," Mr. Jacobson said, rather diffidently, "to settle with the family of the young man who caused the accident. There seemed certain to be legal unpleasantness, so in exchange for not filing a wrongful death action on behalf of your parents, they have refrained from filing any civil action against you for damages to their son. I realize it's not an ideal solution for anyone, but such lawsuits are costly and time consuming, and would only stir up further bad feeling in the town." "So all this is mine," Wesley asked, putting his hands on the paper, "and nobody's gonna sue me, but David just walks away without paying anything?" Mr. Jacobson winced at that choice of words. "I should have realized you haven't been keeping up with the local news," he said, somewhat apologetically. "David won't be walking anywhere. He's been in a wheelchair since the incident. The doctor doesn't believe he'll walk again." That information was enough to set Wesley back on his heels. He hadn't known. Maybe it was justice, but it didn't make him feel any better. It certainly explained some of the looks he'd been getting. Mr. Jacobson went on to offer his services in the sale of the house and its contents, for a reasonable fee of course, since his services as trustee were now completed. "In fact," he added, a little bit urgently, "as your attorney, I would advise you to allow me to handle all the details and contact you at your new address. That would be a much wiser course of action than staying in town. In fact, leaving today before dark is probably the smartest thing you could do. I don't like the whispers that have been going around town." Wesley didn't like the sound of that, either. "I don't have a car," he admitted. "I was planning on riding the Greyhound out tomorrow morning. Is that going to be dangerous?" The lawyer folded his hands thoughtfully, looking troubled. "I'll tell you what," he said. "I have a nephew going to school down at University of Mobile, and I have my old Ford Taurus that I've been planning to send down there to him. Why don't I have you deliver it to him? You'll have a way to get back home, and I'll have saved myself a chore, and there won't be any unpleasantness." He looked at the clock. "But we'd better hurry and finish all this business. I lost track of time." That idea sounded very good to Wesley, who hurriedly agreed. He had no illusions of what might happen to the only black man in a town of stirred up folks after dark. The two of them completed their business, then Mr. Jacobson closed up his shop and drove Wesley over to his place. The car was not much to look at, and it coughed a little as it started up, but it was transportation. Mr. Jacobson gave Wesley a friendly handshake and the folder of papers along with the keys, and told him to call any time with more questions. The sun was just beginning to sink behind the trees as Wesley turned his car onto the road, heading for Mobile. Part of him wanted to go home and see everything one more time, maybe pick up a few mementoes, but it wasn't worth his life. He'd left the city limits and passed the high school by the time he saw the first car in his rearview mirror. It was coming up really fast, far faster than the little Taurus could go. Before Wesley could take evasive action, it had pulled in front of him and slowed way down, pinning him in on the narrow road. More cars quickly joined it, hemming him in and forcing him to a stop. Wes's mouth went dry when he realized he couldn't see the faces of any of the drivers, because they were all wearing white hoods. He locked the doors as they approached, but one already had a Slim Jim in hand, and in a moment, he was being dragged out of the car by his legs, his head dragging in the gravel. "We been waitin' for you, boy," one of the hooded men growled, crouching next to him. "You laid hands on what you shouldn't oughta. You gonna wish you'd been in the car with your mama and daddy." Everything was a confused jumble as Wesley was dragged across road and turf off the side of the road, into a dense copse of trees. He struggled as hard as he could, which just made them laugh, at least a half-dozen men, he was sure, though he couldn't tell how many. They lifted him up and slammed him against a tree, binding his hands roughly, measuring his neck with their hands. "And lo, the good book says that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission," a deep voice intoned piously. A shock ran through Wesley as he recognized that Scripture-blaspheming voice from the past. "But if the right hand offend thee, cut it off, that it shall not lead thee to sin!" A sea of white fabric surrounded Wesley as he jerked and twisted, unable to escape the rough noose of rope as it was dropped around his neck. He felt it tighten, and felt the acid wash of fear inside his mouth. How could it all end like this? It wasn't fair, it wasn't just! They were all monsters in human form, and he wouldn't let them win! Wesley opened his mouth, even as hands pushed him up a ladder and the rope began to tighten. "NO!" he screamed. And everything began to change. At first it was something more felt than seen, a ripple through his body, down his arms, into the air. It felt... it felt horrible, malicious and spiteful, like all the rage and fear and hatred in his body had balled up and released itself in tangible form in these last moments of his life. Then the leading edge of the wave hit the first of them men, and the carnage began. The rope around Wesley's neck loosened as the man holding it doubled over and fell backwards, making choking noises under his hood and clutching at his chest. The ones pushing Wes up the ladder were in the same state, wheezing for air and falling to the ground. All around him, they ripped off their hoods, grabbing at their throats and hearts as their faces turned red, then blue. No longer were they faceless demons, but men, men he knew. Some guys he'd gone to high school with, the mayor, Elaine's father, all of them choking just as they would've done to him. He watched as the pastor turned his blue face up to heaven and collapsed, still mouthing supplications. Standing on the ladder and looking down on them was like peering into hell, and there was nothing Wesley could do about it. In minutes, it was all over. He stood alone in the sunset clearing, noose in his hand, staring at seven brand new corpses, their faces bloated, their eyes staring. He knew he'd done it, but he had no idea how. And that was almost as terrifying as the lynching party had been. When the edge of the terror faded, reality began to assert itself. He knew he couldn't be caught here, or he'd be in even worse trouble than before. He climbed down from the ladder, hauling both it and the noose into the swamp and throwing them in, likely where they'd planned to toss his body. Going back to the road, he found a pair of driving gloves in the lead car and, putting them on, he methodically parked each car just off the road, as though they'd all pulled off without any intent to block the road. Someone would find them, and people would suspect what they'd been up to, but there was no proof of anything! How could the town accuse him, without accusing itself? With his work done, he climbed into the Taurus and drove it to Mobile, shaking all the way there. Once he arrived and dropped off the car, he holed up in his apartment for days, obsessively scanning the news. A story came out of Tunnel Hill about a strange mass poisoning at a Klan meeting, but there were no suspects. Even so, he couldn't breathe easy. He made his way through the rest of his apprenticeship, working his ass off with long hours and after-work study, trying to get through a two-year apprenticeship in half the time. Wesley knew he wouldn't feel safe until he was out of Alabama. He also wouldn't feel safe until he knew more about his powers, which he explored very tentatively on weekends, far away from people he might hurt. Never again, he promised himself, would he kill someone with the strange forces he seemed able to channel. The people he'd killed were in self defense and he could live with that, but he never, ever, ever wanted to see anything like that again. At the end of his apprenticeship, he started casting around for places to go from here. One of his bosses knew a guy out in Los Angeles who had a shop with an open chair. That sounded good to Wesley. It was far away, it was someplace to work, it was a place that was out of the goddamn Deep South, finally. He was in a good position to move out. He had some money, from the sale of the house and from his folks' investments, and he had a good used car with a big trunk to hold his stuff. Maybe, if he were careful and thrifty, he could even build a rep and open his own place. It was worth a try, anyway. He packed up his car with a sleeping bag and all his worldly possessions and headed out one morning, never once looking back. Who needed home, when he had the whole world to look forward to?
  18. Naomi woke up on her airbed, rubbing the sleepers from her eyes. Her ears were down and her tail sluggishly came to life. It was 10 in the morning and the sun was shining over Ukedo. She could hear the seagulls and the ocean. It made her sad, because when her home was there, she couldn't hear the shore. The shelter tent was erected right where Naomi's home would have been. Now all that is there is bare ground, and a 5 meter square geodesic tent on that plot of land. Held up by inflated support arms and on the seams between panels. The outside skin was a easily identified yellow with orange inflated supports with "Nippontai - Department 0 Rescue Department" marked on some of the panels. A couple of clear panels let the light of the new day in, while some solar panels charged her computer equipment. Her suit was in the repair shop from the tangle back in Germany with the evil squids from hell, and she was happy this job was far more sedate. She wasn't sure if Ryu was up yet. His sleeping quarters were separate from her's. She yawned, then let off a cute, plaintive meow as she got up from her bed on the floor. "Hideyoshi-san! Are you awake?"
  19. Tom Fleming, one of the premier artists for Aberrant, is selling the original art used for the covers of the core book ($2000), and the PU supplement($500) I almost don't want to share this, but both of those are currently out of my range, and someone here might love it, so: Tom Fleming Art for Sale
  20. Thought this was interesting... a guy posted this in the OOTS forums, a conversion of Aberrant to Savage Worlds: Savage Aberrant Greek to me, but I figured some of you would dig it.
  21. When I get confused about the order of fictions, it's time to make one of these. If there were no notes about the date in the first post of the thread, I just used the date it had been posted. Please let me know if I need to change anything. Pre-game Telluris: Year One Mission 0 The Enemy Way Supreme Nate’s Prison Years Current Timeline Nerds Unite! – 03MAR12 Atlantic Nights – 15MAR12 (through 16MAR) --Sunrise at 80,000 Feet [Offshoot story, same date] Thesis of a Nekojin – 06APR12 The Cat and The Mecha 31MAR12 The Undernight – 07APR12 New Beginnings – 09APR12 On the Set – 12APR12 Discovery – 12APR12 Operation Valiant Shield – 14APR12 Nate Learns a few things – 14APR12 Two Elves – 16APR12 Doing Something – 25APR12 (through 05MAR) Guo Zhenglai – 30APR12 Orientation Day – 30APR12 Dream Date – 08MAY12 At Home in the AeroDome – 04JUN12 Work or Play? – 04JUN12 No Heroes Here – 12JUN12 Convention Crawl – 16AUG12 (through 19AUG) The Great Western – 10SEP12
  22. The hot water ran down his body, sluicing through the soap and washing it away. Lance ran his hands of over his face and mentally prepared himself for the day ahead. He wasn’t really keen on joining the DSA. Being a government agent or super hero was going to be less cool and exiting than it sounded. Still, he knew if he wanted to protect what he cared about it needed to be done; at least for a little while. Once he deemed himself clean, Lance shut the water off grabbed a towel and stepped out of the tub. From the open door of the bathroom Lance could see the form of Darcy still asleep in the bed. Darcy Hollenbeck was a former marine Major, drummed out of the Army under the auspices of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Now he was the head of a mercenary security company called Direct Action. Lance recalled their first meeting; a chance encounter in 2008 on a flight to Dubai, which lead to 3 fantastic nights locked in a hotel room, only pausing for quick bites to eat. Now nearing 50, the man was still in fantastic shape for a normal human, and still just as fun in the sack. Lance dressed quickly and quietly, so as not to disturb his exhausted friend and slipped out of the hotel bedroom. As expected, Mr. Jarvis was waiting for him, table set with breakfast. To one side were several newspapers and an iPad. “Good morning sir,” he said in a crisp and even tone with just a hint of an upper class British accent. “I trust last night meeting with Mr. Hollenbeck was… productive?” Mr. Jarvis’ ever so slightly sarcastic tone brought a smile to Lance’s face as he replied. “Oh indeed, we hammered out the details for our little arrangement all night long.” “Is that what that was Sir?” Mr. Jarvis quipped as he turned to head into the hotel suite’s kitchenette. “I though the hotel had a construction crew doing repairs in here last night.” Lance nearly snorted his coffee through his nose in amusement while Mr. Jarvis continued, “Just a reminder Sir; you have 20 minutes before you are expected. You wouldn’t want to be late for your first day of work.” “Thank you Mr. Jarvis, I’m leaving now.” “And your guest Sir?” Lance was up and moving, a piece of cantaloupe sticking out of his mouth while he put on the jacket to his hand tailored Italian suit. He cracked the door to his suite open and when his mouth was empty he turned back to his trusted manservant and said with a sarcastic smile, “Let him sleep. He’s going to need it when I get home!” With that he was gone.
  23. [[May 3, 1998 2:07pm EEST]] A well tanned young man reclined next to a pool of crystal water. Next to his chair was a glass table with a telephone, a laptop, and a stack of manila folders. His docksider shoes rested nearby, a wallet and some keys peeking out over the heel of the left. His legs crossed at the ankle and fine blond hairs ran a thick trail up to his khaki shorts. Bare-chested, with a mop of blonde curls above vintage sunshades, he smiled like a young god and reached for his glass. As he sipped his scotch, a wireless phone shrilled on the table next to him. Lazily he raised it to his ear. "Ja?" He sat up at the reply, grinning widely. He tossed the phone down next to him, and snatched the laptop computer from the side table. Fumbling a bit with the latch, he laughed, then opened the laptop and settled back. He propped his feet once again. Awkwardly, he slid his finger across the mousepad, then pecked at the button. His grin slipped, then returned as the program ran. A window opened and Six squares appeared on the screen. Icons, he thought. They are called icons. He chuckled. One of the icons, a rose, lit up briefly, and a voice came from the laptop's speakers. "Something amusing? Do tell," a woman with a lilting Irish accent. "You are the last to join, perhaps the reason we are waiting amuses you?" The grin slid from his face as though it were never there. He pushed the shades up into his hair, revealing astonishingly blue eyes. "Apologies. Der Computer ist not my friend." After a short pause, "Of course, forgive me for mentioning such a trifle." Another icon, an infinity symbol, lit briefly and a man spoke. "Mas rapido, por favor. I only have a few moments, I am otherwise engaged. However, I need to know if there are any results. Are there?" The grin returned, and he reached for the files. "Eleven, actually." He sorted through them quickly, discarding one, keeping one, then another. An icon of a martini glass glowed, a man's voice "Did you say... eleven?" He nodded and grinned wider, though he was aware they could not see him. He had whittled the stack to six. He weighed one against another for a second, then set one aside. "Ja, and they will all come in handy, I think. Most are still getting used to their new bodies, and some just aren't right for what you need, but I have five gut candidates." "Five?" again a man, an American, his icon a yawning lion, "In three weeks? I find that hard to swallow." "Adventurous?" the Infinity icon again, "Independant, but cooperative? Five? I asked for three." "What about the rest of them?" an empty icon, just a white square, glowed and an Eastern European woman spoke, "What will happen to them?" The young man frowned again, lightly, then spoke. "We'll see . Perhaps you would like to come and meet them? All of you should come." The infinity symbol glowed. "I must go, my friends. August, I trust your judgement. Send them to my man in Spain when they are ready." The icon disappeared. Two others winked out as well. The martini glass icon glowed, and the man sighed dramatically. "Is that all? I thought we were going to talk about her. Ah, well, next time then. Good work, August, truly." The martini icon winked out, and another disappeared. The only one remaining besides his own was the rose. It lighted as he considered it. "I'd like to visit, if you'll have me again." He leaned back into his chair and took up his glass. His smile grew speculative, and he lowered the shades back onto his eyes. "I would like nothing more. schöne Dame." After a long pause, the rose lit again. "I'll see you soon then." The rose icon disappeared. He closed the laptop, and looked again at the manila folders. He sighed. "Ach, how I envy you. But I cannot get sidetracked now." He set down his scotch and grabbed the phone from beside him. He pressed two buttons. "Bringen Sie mir Zahlen drei, vier, sechs, sieben und zehn," he said, "Sie wird ein Job angeboten werden, das ist alles, was Sie sagen. Versuchen Sie, sie nicht zu erschrecken." He hung up the phone, then laughed aloud. Bring me numbers three, four, six, seven and ten. You will be offered a job, that's all you should say. Try not to scare them. "Ah, but if you do scare them," he said to no one in particular, "then they aren't the right ones, anyway." He leaned back once again, contemplating the sun with his drink in hand.
  24. It was the last day the Hacinebi dig would be open for excavation. The sun was setting over the Euphrates, the air turning cool. The actual archeologists had left back in October, but the site was still open to students for an additional semester. Most of the few remaining students had left, taking a van to Birecik hours ago. Only Rianna remained. Finally, she straightened up from the rock wall, and stood. She stretched her back, and massaged it with both hands. In the light of dusk, she looked around at the mound. Her semester in Turkey was almost up, but they had done some good work here. She surveyed the three rectangular holes on the north side of the mound. She had helped clear the burials herself. Her name wouldn't go on any papers, unless she was extremely lucky in Artifact Analysis, but she had contributed to the Hacinebi Excavation. Not but a few of her contemporaries could say same. She shivered. A much cooler wind swiftly dried whatever sweat clung to her skin. She gazed across the river at the disappearing light. Behind her, unnoticed, a cloud of dust announced an approaching vehicle. Rianna bent, and gathered her tools. She took a final look around, slinging her satchel over her shoulder. The drone of the engine finally caused her to glance at the road. She sighed, then walked toward the remaining van. She put her satchel in the rear of the van, then paused in the act of pulling down the door. The approaching vehicle was a Jeep, nearly new by Birecik standards. A man drove, with a woman passenger who held a broad hat to her head against the wind. It pulled up next to the van, and the woman looked at Rianna. "Hello there. Are you Rianna Connelly?" Rianna took a deep, calming breath, and let it out slowly. "Yes, that's me." The woman smiled, and held up a blocky phone with a long black antenna. Rianna noticed for the first time the small satellite dish in the back of the Jeep. "I have a phone call for you, miss." Rianna took the phone, and rolled her eyes at the woman. She looked at the phone a moment, shaking her head, then finally chuckled and put it to her ear. "Hi Daddy."
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